Monday, September 24, 2012
Well, for one, when Syabas first mentioned about wanting to ration water a few months back, were/are there any news of any area actually subjected to water rationing after the SSG rubbished it as being delibrately manufactured? The answer is no.
And now there is this breaking news by Malaysiakini - Staged water shortage filmed in secret in PJ.
Do surf over there and read their report yourself and make up your own mind about the truth of a water crisis in Selangor.
Saturday, September 15, 2012
Mukhriz Mahathir has come out with guns blazing trying to blast at Rafizi’s plan to reduce car prices by putting up the AP (Approved Permit) required to import a car into Malaysia, up for auction. Mukhriz is scratching his head on how auctioning APs can lower prices.
Rafizi’s explanation is simple as explained in the article below, Answering Mukhriz Mahathir: Car prices 101:
Answering Mukhriz Mahathir: Car prices 101
- Rafizi Ramli
- 11:23AM Sep 15, 2012
COMMENT I am glad that Mukhriz Mahathir has finally decided to respond to our campaign #turunkanhargakereta, especially when he is primarily tasked with the national automotive policies.
He is also expected to win the next Umno Youth head contest easily, so his views on issues affecting the younger population are a glimpse of what life under another 5-year term of BN rule will be like.
Among the many daily economic woes experienced by the younger population, exorbitantly high car prices easily occupy the top three concerns of this group.
Mukhriz (right) asked me a simple question: how can auctioning approval permits (permits to import cars) lower car prices?
The question was so simple that initially I was not sure whether he really did not understand the mechanics of the policies we had proposed, or part of his brilliant strategy to catch us.
Eventually as he kept repeating the same question at press conferences and in his tweets, I began to realise that he truly could not understand ( in commercial or in economic terms) how auctioning AP in a transparent process can lower car prices.
Let me attempt to explain the mechanics to the deputy minister in charge of automotive policies in the country.
Nitty gritty of car prices
To understand what needs to be done in order to trim car prices, we need to know the main cost components that make up the final selling price for customers.
For cars manufactured by national automotive companies or assembled here, there are two components: the cost of the car itself (which already includes the profit margin for the manufacturer) and the taxes/duties levied by the government.
As it is, the taxes/duties constitute at least 50 percent of the final car price - meaning if you buy a car with a retail price of RM50,000, the government takes RM25,000 in taxes/duties.
The same cost structure is also applicable to imported cars , with the addition of 2 more cost components. Each imported car attracts additional 30 percent import duty and a much higher hidden cost due to the AP that you need to obtain to import.
Previously, the AP was given to only selected companies/individuals with close connections to the ruling elite.
As the pressure mounted in the last few years, the BN government began to charge a flat rate of RM10,000 for each AP.
But the cost of AP translates into a much more expensive portion of the cost component that makes up the final retail price.
To understand how much an AP pushes up the retail price, Tony Pua shared his experience in importing a Nissan Juke using his AP entitlement as a member of parliament.
To cut the story short, he paid about RM100,000 to import the car. RM45,000 for the actual cost of the car plus the shipping cost. The balance RM55,000 comprised excise duty at 85 percent, sales tax at 10 percent and import tax at 30 percent.
Pua (right) was lucky to pay only RM100,000 for the car because if he were to buy from a local car dealer, he would have had to shell out RM160,000.
Trapped in intricate web
The difference of RM60,000 between buying from an importer and importing on your own (because you have an AP) is the actual impact of the opaque AP system, responsible for pushing car prices to exorbitantly high levels.
Nevertheless, the real culprit behind skyrocketing car prices that enslave many a Malaysian in perpetual indebtedness are the taxes imposed on cars.
Furthermore, only 10 percent of the cars sold each year are brought in with APs; 90 percent of the rest (the bulk of the population) are not affected by any changes to the AP system.
Therefore, the only way to correct the distortion and economic misery inflicted on the rakyat is to phase out the high excise duty on cars and bring back car prices to comparable parity with other economies around the world.
Since excise duty is levied on all cars, the phasing out of excise duty will affect both locally manufactured/assembled cars and imported cars.
To understand this better, we should go back to Pua's Nissan Juke. If he imports the car when excise and import duties have been completely phased out, he will need to pay only RM50,000 for the cost of the car, shipping and a 10 percent sales tax.
Magic wand for cheaper cars
He can then estimate how much he wants to bid for the AP to bring the car in. Since Nissan Juke is a small car and comes with better fuel efficiency, the proposed reserve price for the AP of such classes of car start at RM10,000 only (as opposed to if you are bringing in a Lamborghini with high fuel consumption, whose reserve price may start at RM30,000).
Pua then can kick in a bid, factoring in the total price that he is willing to pay. He may aim to pay a maximum of RM90,000 for the car, so he will bid RM40,000 for the AP since the total cost of the car is only RM50,000 without the exorbitant duties phased out by PR.
This is the part which Mukhriz clearly does not understand and as a result of that, frighteningly demonstrates his incompetence before the whole country.
While government will boost its revenue from higher AP payment it receives due to the open bidding system, the same revenue is then used to fund the policy to phase out excise and import duties that currently form the biggest bulk of the cost component of a car's retail price.
When excise and import duties are removed, this automatically lowers prices by at least 50 percent even when the AP price is decided through bidding, because under the current corrupt system the AP already fetches between RM40,000 to RM60,000 each in price similar to the prices expected under open bidding system).
The difference is the money currently goes to the private pockets of closely linked cronies.
This deprives the public of the necessary fund to phase out excise and import duties.
In short, the elimination of excise and import duties on cars across the board will automatically take away the most expensive cost component of a car's retail price.
I hope this explanation is simple enough for Mukhriz to digest because it is of highest imperative that he understands this basic knowledge in the car industry before he decides other complicated matters.
Rafizi Ramli is the Strategic Director of PKR. He used to audit car companies.
Friday, September 7, 2012
Ever since police arrested 2 teenagers (or more?) for stepping on and showing bare buttocks to Najib’s and Rosmah’s photos, people have been asking about similar acts particularly against opposition leaders.
Police has said that they will be impartial and will persecute others as well if police reports are made (if I am not wrong, some police reports have already been made but no action taken.
So now Malaysiakini has kindly dug up its archives and uncovered similar incidents against:
- Lim Guan Eng
- Ambiga Sreenevasan
- Nik Abdul Aziz and Abdul Hadi Awang
- Lim Kit Siang
- Khalid Samad
- Perak’s 3 frogs
- Koh Tsu Koon
- Najib Abdul Razak
- Higher Education Minister Khaled Nordin
Below the full article, courtesy of Malaysiakini:
11:17AM Sep 7, 2012
For the first time ever, the authorities are on the hunt for individuals accused of showing disrespect for public figures by means of stepping on their photograph or in one case, baring a bottom at their photograph.
Currently, the police have identified 11 individuals accused of performing such acts during the eve of Merdeka Day at Dataran Merdeka.
Thus far, a handful of people have surrendered themselves to the police and in one case, a teenager was even put in handcuffs for her alleged crime.
However, it has been pointed out that the 11 are subjects of selective persecution, exacerbated by the haste in investigations and the uncanny ability of the police to identify them with such uncanny accuracy.
The police, however, have denied taking sides and vowed to probe similar instances involving Pakatan Rakyat leaders, provided police reports are lodged.
Since, it has been established that showing disrespect for public figures is a crime under the Sedition Act 1948, below is a list fromMalaysiakini archives to show that the application of this law is not always consistent.
Lim Guan Eng
Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng often boast about many firsts under his administration, but he could add "facing the most number of demonstrations in the shortest period of time as chief minister" under his belt as well.
The numerous protests have been varied in nature its objectives appear uniform: It is not just to make a point, but to insult as well.
Not only has his posters been burnt and stepped on several occasions, he has also been given cake shaped in the form offaeces and a had a mock funeral staged in front of his house.
The perpetrators of such acts are widely known as some of them had been quoted by the media. Some of their leaders have also led numerous protests. None of them have been prosecuted thus far.
Due to the sheer shock factor and frequency of such acts against Guan Eng, he deserves to be placed first in this list.
The former Bar Council president turned electoral reforms activist had quickly amassed a legion of new fans for her work with the Bersih coalition, but it attracted enemies as well.
Detractors came right up to her doorsteps flipping burgers andexercising their posteriors in protest against the Bersih 3.0 rally on July 9.
One group led by Jamal Md Yunus, a prominent restaurant operator and luxury car dealer, even painted yellow boxes on the road in front of her home for flea market stalls.
Kuala Lumpur City Hall could have taken action against the group for vandalism but no known action has been taken, other than to paint over the yellow lines.
Prior to this, Malay rights pressure group Perkasa had held a rally in Kuala Lumpur to protest plans to hold Bersih 3.0 where posters depicting Ambiga were set alight.
In April, Jaringan Melayu Malaysia held a noisy anti-homosexualitydemonstration at Universiti Putra Malaysia which saw posters depicting Ambiga being burnt and stepped on.
Nik Abdul Aziz and Abdul Hadi Awang
PAS' top two are lesser chosen as targets by vandals but a series of photographs that have stuck to the minds of their supporters is one depicting several youths urinating on a banner.
The banner was believed to be strung up somewhere in Shah Alam, prominently featuring Abdul Hadi and Nik Aziz's mugshots. The streams of urine were clearly visible in the photograph.
One of the perpetrator was clad in a BN t-shirt.
Lim Kit Siang
Like his counterparts in PAS, Lim also had to suffer the same indignity of people urinating on his photograph.
The incident happened in April 2009, outside the Shah Alam courthouse where 12 individuals were being tried for their inflammatory demonstration involving a cow head.
Khalid Samad, the Shah Alam MP, strangely became the target of protestors who were against the court ruling allowing a Christian publication to use the term "Allah".
He was accused of conspiring against Muslims and one banner accused him of "sodomising" the Islamic faith.
For good measure, protestors also made sure that posters with his photograph were stepped on. All this took place within the compound of the Selangor state mosque.
Perak's independent trio
Pakatan Rakyat is not totally clean either, as revealed during the Perak DAP convention in November 2009.
A giant banner depicting three former Pakatan state assemblyperson who paved the way for the BN takeover of the state in February that year, was used as a door mat for the convention.
Kit Siang was among those photographed standing on the banner while his son Guan Eng had gingerly leapt over it.
Perak DAP chief Ngeh Khoo Ham later conceded that not all party members condoned the act, but stopped short of condemning it.
Koh Tsu Koon
In September 2008, a minor tiff between then Penang BN chief Koh Tsu Koon and Bukit Bendera Umno division chief Ahmad Ismail escalated to the point where it almost tore apart Gerakan and Umno's long ties.
Eventually, the only thing that was torn up was a large framed photograph of Koh adorning Penang Umno headquarters wall at that time.
After Ahmad's fiery press conference, one of his men smashed the photo frame before tearing up koh's photograph of while letting loose a loud roar which overwhelmed the staccato sounds of camera shutter clicks.
Najib Abdul Razak
Compared to the above, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak seemed to have got off pretty easy.
In December last year, a flag bearing his image was lowered during a protest by some 500 youths demanding academic freedom.
The perpetrator was Adam Adli, a student leader, who was later quizzed by the police. He has been suspended by his university for three semesters, but no criminal action has been taken.
In April this year, the same group of students held another demonstration.
A framed photograph of Najib and Higher Education Minister Khaled Nordin with a funeral wreath was paraded by the protestors, before being dumped into a rubbish bin.