How should we judge a government?

In Malaysia, if you don't watch television or read newspapers, you are uninformed; but if you do, you are misinformed!

"If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing." - Malcolm X

Never argue with stupid people, they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience - Mark Twain

Never argue with an idiot, otherwise people won't know which one of you is the idiot.
Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright - until you hear them speak.

Why we should be against censorship in a court of law: Publicity is the very soul of justice … it keeps the judge himself, while trying, under trial. - Jeremy Bentham

"Our government is like a baby's alimentary canal, with a happy appetite at one end and no
responsibility at the other. " - Ronald Reagan

Government fed by the people

Government fed by the people

Career options

Career options
I suggest government... because nobody has ever been caught.

Corruption so prevalent it affects English language?

Corruption so prevalent it affects English language?

When there's too much dirt...

When there's too much dirt...
We need better tools... to cover up mega corruptions.

Prevent bullying now!

Prevent bullying now!
If you're not going to speak up, how is the world supposed to know you exist? “Orang boleh pandai setinggi langit, tapi selama ia tidak menulis, ia akan hilang di dalam masyarakat dan dari sejarah.” - Ananta Prameodya Toer (Your intellect may soar to the sky but if you do not write, you will be lost from society and to history.)

Thursday, April 30, 2015

GST Bill: who voted for; who voted against; who were absent

Instead of the lists being easily available, Malaysiakini had to do compilations which are available only to subscribers. But I manage to find them in this link:
http://www.malaysiakini.com/news/296745?hootPostID=ba8e446f0796bd3dcdb0079e3c2457dc
via DAP Taiping page in Facebook.

I found some mistakes and I commented:

'I had a quick check and I think I spotted some mistakes. The total number of MPs who voted for (119); voted against (82); absent (20); ie. short of 1 MP. I noticed Teluk Intan (P076) was listed under DAP Seah Leong Peng as 'critically ill' when in fact, he had passed on, among the absentees, and present MP, Gerakan's Mah Siew Keong was missing. But this does not explain the missing MP to make up 222 MPs.'

Somehow, my comment could not be found again in DAP Taiping page, but still appears in my own activity log. Same with my comment in Malaysiakini's page in FB. I do feel some comments are unwelcome for one reason or other.

I am surprised that Seah Leong Peng's death a year ago, is still classified by Malaysiakini as 'critically ill' (among the absentees) and the new Gerakan MP for Teluk Intan, Mah Siew Keong's name is no where to be found. Did he voted for or was he absent? I have yet to find out why there is one MP short. In a report elsewhere, total voted against was 81 which would make 2 MPs unaccounted for. I wish someone can enlighten me on this.
Link

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Advantage of incumbency over adversary's past 22 years of rule...

besides having relative youth against old age.

Yes, I am referring to the present fight between mentor, Tun Dr Mahathir and his protege, Najib Tun Razak.

In our unique political system, it is a tradition that the President of Umno becomes PM of the country. Also unique to our system of choosing successors, ex-PM Tun Dr Mahathir seems to be in the enviable position of having the choice as to who he deems suitable or unsuitable to be PM. Before Anwar Ibrahim, there were DPMs like Musa Hitam and Tengku Razaleigh who did not make it. In 1998, he decided that Anwar was unfit to be his successor and we all know how he was persecuted then (Sodomy I), and even under the watch of Najib (Sodomy II) recently. But to everyone's surprise, in 2003, Tun Dr Mahathir decided to make way for his chosen successor, Abdullah Badawi, after 22 long years at the helm (almost two-thirds of the time since independence in 1957).

When Pak Lah underperformed in GE12, Tun Dr Mahathir was instrumental in forcing him to step down and he had to make way for Najib in 2009. After 6 years as PM, Najib is now out of Tun's favour, and again, Tun has made known his wish for Najib to step down. But unlike Pak Lah, who is more sensitive and a gentleman, Najib is not about to resign, despite Dr Mahathir's hint of his wish turning into open and nasty personal attacks on Najib and his wife.

Dr Lim Teck Ghee in his article, How Mahathir has been check-mated, explains why Najib is not easy to be dislodged from his position of power...

Excerpt:

'Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his supporters in Umno appear to have been check mated in his attempt to get Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to resign voluntarily or to have him replaced by another leader. Why has the veteran political leader, an icon in the party which he led for over 20 years, been defeated in what he and his supporters see as the mother of battles to save the party and ensure its continued supremacy in national politics.

Criticism of Najib has covered the full range of subjects, including national concerns such as the BR1M handout and the 1MDB quagmire to more racially targeted ones, calculated to appeal to the Umno heartland. The latter include Najib's alleged pandering to the non-Malay electorate during the last elections. The attacks have also been fiercely personal and have zeroed in on the prime minister's reputedly spent-thrift wife, and his high-profile son-in-law, and including concerns about his family's personal wealth, and the ticking time bomb of the unresolved murder mystery of Altantuya Shaariibuu.'

'But this is Malaysia where the outward appearance of a healthy democracy conceals an authoritarian system which is buttressed with one of the most pervasive and effective patronage systems to be found anywhere in the world.'

'Unlike his predecessor, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, also known as Pak Lah (pic), Najib has skilfully used the clout of incumbency to neutralize Mahathir's attacks. Three key groups of supporters have rushed out in support of the prime minister.

On the Umno side, they include the great majority of Umno division chiefs, Wanita Umno and Umno youth. Right behind are Barisan Nasional party chiefs, representing their respective party organizations and the collective position of the ruling coalition. And bringing up the rear are mass organizations such as Cuepac, the powerful civil servants' association, and Felda organizations and leaders including the settler heads in the 11 regional land development schemes, and numerous other organizations. '

'In contrast to the galaxy of heavy weights in the country's political dynamics that Najib is able to mobilize, Mahathir – now that he is out of power and unable to command or buy up support – can only count on a small group of bloggers, retired politicians and civil servants, and Perkasa. Unfortunately for Ibrahim Ali, Perkasa's boss, his latest gushing description of Mahathir as “Allah's gift to Malaysia” is unlikely to make much impression on Najib's supporters who would prefer to receive their share of the patronage cake in this present life rather than wait for the next one.

It looks like it has to be back to the drawing board for Mahathir if he is not to lose his last power game.'

Rest of the article:
http://theheatonline.asia/POLITICS/How-Mahathir-Has-Been-Check-Mated


Link

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Unintended free publicity and collateral damage from GST


Grand Imperial Restaurant gets free publicity from this notice to their customers, as a result of it being shared all over the internet. But judging from comments in social network sites, most are unfavourable, most of them described it as arrogant and should be boycotted.

But we had been charged service tax at 10% for more than 30 years, despite it not sanctioned by law! Now, the public seems unwilling to pay such arbitrary service charge after it was highlighted as a result of GST, which is going to affect management and employees. The public would not know what happened to the service charges collected for all these years: ranging from some collecting under the name of employees but not distributing to them at all, to different sharing percentages between employer and employees under collective agreements.

The Malay Mail reported on it:
http://m.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/no-service-charge-no-service

My comment in Facebook:

This notice appears to be from an arrogant management, but basically, it is just informing the public that they have a choice whether to patronise the place. Like other similar establishments, they had been charging ST at the same rate without problem for years. GST caused this service charge to be an issue with customers. Before this, we seemed oblivious and acceptable to this 10% service charge (not required by law like GST) imposed by expensive restaurants and fast food outlets, for over 30 years! With the public outcry, minister softened it by declaring it as optional (unless there are collective agreements between management and staff) which in turn created ugly scenes at restaurants. Now it is back to the drawing board to come out with something acceptable.
Link

Friday, April 17, 2015

Better to have form over substance?

In our hurry to show the outside world of our progress and development, we seem to prefer forms over substance. Tallest twin towers (Petronas Twin Towers); brand new grandiose capital in Putrajaya; expansive (land area bigger than White House) as well as expensive (even renovation costs could have built a decent one) official residences for PM and DPM (which could put 10 Downing Street to shame); impressive university campuses (modelled after Harvard); and so on.

We tend to accept news in printed form as truth (we often hear of 'It was in the newspapers') while those in digital forms as lies (though justified by some blatant examples too).

With the implementation of GST, there are numerous complaints daily from registered businesses as well as the public affected by it. With hindsight, it would seem the ministry did not even compile a list comprehensive enough for practical use: to identify exempt, zero-rated or standard-rated items.

Many new accounting systems claiming to be GST compliant are being offered, some without proper designs nor adequate supporting services. Already, there are complaints about some not usable by some businesses, which is not surprising because some unique businesses require tailor-made software. Or, there are some opportunists who wrote simple programs to cheat the public because they are simply not prepared to follow-up on problems. To give some the benefit of the doubt, there will be genuine software providers who just could not cope with the rush of initial complaints at the same time.

If not mistaken, a minister mentioned that a GST bill should be printed and not hand-written. I know of the example being shared in the internet which shows a ridiculous bill with illegibly scribbled details. But I am more concerned about small businesses which cannot afford or simply do not need a computerised system. Their revenues might exceed the threshold Rm500,000 a year, but it could be just a few items with high values. All it needs to be GST compliant is to be able to show their record books and able to calculate from them, the net figure between input and output GST periodically, so that the correct amount can be remitted to or refunded from Customs. In the 70s, when UK already had VAT (similar to GST), many small businesses relied on manual books of accounts which were acceptable to HM Customs & Excise.

Because of our preoccupation with and preference for printed forms, we might not see the wood from the trees. There could be establishments with impressive looking bills having the required GST registration numbers and showing properly calculated GST amounts, but falsifying amounts remitted to Customs. While some small businesses might be forced to buy expensive GST-compliant software or cheap system but which requires additional recurring costs in its continual use.
Link

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Historian vs Historian: ex-student vs ex-Professor on the question of 'dinaung v dijajah'

'...I am writing to you simply as one historian to another, because you do have that power – to change your own mind and actions. I hope you might reconsider the testimony you gave, which may otherwise condemn an innocent (if impolite) man to jail, and our nation to the grievous abnegation of its truer histories.

As I'm of the opinion that Mat Sabu should apologise (for not being sopan santun in the public sphere, which sets a bad precedent) but should not be jailed. – April 15, 2015.'

Open letter to Khoo Kay Kim – Rachel Leow

Dear Professor Khoo,

You may not remember me and anyway, if you saw me today you probably wouldn't recognise me.
I was just a young student back then, thrilled to have run into you on a stairwell in Universiti Malaya. I told you I'd been planning to do a PhD in history. You listened indulgently to me stammering away, and at the end of it, gave me a copy of your book, Malay Society. On the title page, you wrote:

Dear Rachel,

I hope you too will come to accept that history is the mother of all disciplines.

Khoo Kay Kim, 1/4/07

It's now 2015. I did that PhD, and your book has accompanied me across three continents over the last eight years. I haven't seen you since, and I'm sure you have long put me out of your mind. But I have continued, from time to time, to be guided by your work and to find insight in it.

Last Sunday, I read news of your testimony at the trial of Mat Sabu (PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu). And I was filled with a kind of sadness and dread, reminded of how what we know as "history" lives at all times in the shadow of power.

On the question of dinaung v dijajah

You said that to call Malaya a colony is false, because we were “dinaung” and not “dijajah”, and we had nine sovereign monarchies which were never “colonised”i.

This is an astonishing conclusion. It's a game of semantics that completely rejects the careful study of systems of imperial and colonial rule which historians do, and which you know so well.

If Malaya wasn't “colonised”, then neither was India, with all its princely states, or any part of Africa that was governed through local leaders. Brokerage and ruling by proxy are key elements of what we understand as colonial empires.

Direct annexation is expensive: it's much better to work through pliable local leaders, like chieftains, nawabs, and yes, even sultans.

But how can I presume to teach you what you know so well? Let me quote your own book at you, the one you signed for me:

“…in general, the most sweeping change introduced by the British was the establishment of a more elaborate and highly centralised administrative machinery to replace the indigenous administrative system which was somewhat loosely structured. The British undermined the position of the orang besar, the most powerful group in the indigenous political system... The policy of ruling the Malays through their sultan proved highly successful on the whole.”[ii]

Rest of the open letter:
http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/sideviews/article/open-letter-to-khoo-kay-kim-rachel-low

Dr Rachel Low is Lecturer at the Faculty of History, Cambridge University;
Professor Khoo Kay Kim is Professor Emeritus in the History Department, University of Malaya;
Chancellor of KDU University College  (Wikipedia)

Mat Sabu's case:
http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/historian-tells-court-he-has-no-knowledge-of-history-textbook-with-his-name
Link

We seem to excel in public relations of the wrong kind



How a Malaysian Playboy Controlled the Most Powerful Naval Force on the Planet
by Matthew Gault

Fat Leonard’s hookers and cash seduced the U.S. Seventh Fleet … and soaked taxpayers for millions

'It was the middle of September 2013 and the U.S. Justice Department had laid a trap.

Its target was the Malaysian millionaire defense contractor Leonard Glenn Francis. But no one called him by his real name. At six feet tall and more than 300 pounds, he earned the nickname “Fat Leonard.” His buddies in the Navy called him something else — the Tony Soprano of Singapore.

At the time, Leonard’s business — Glenn Defense Marine Asia — held contracts with the U.S. Navy worth more than $200 million. Anytime a ship in the U.S. Pacific Fleet needed servicing, there was a good chance it stopped at a port serviced by GDMA.

When the ships docked in Fat Leonard’s ports, he squeezed every buck he could out of the Navy and the American taxpayer. Beginning in 2004, Fat Leonard overcharged for basic services — and federal investigators are still totaling up the amount he suckered out of the Navy.'

More:
https://medium.com/war-is-boring/how-a-malaysian-playboy-controlled-the-most-powerful-naval-force-on-the-planet-eddb7d7fbf48
Link

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Math question set for 14-year-olds in Singapore which most people cannot solve... despite explanation

The question:

Albert and Bernard just became friends with Cheryl, and they want to know when her birthday is. Cheryl gives them a list of 10 possible dates.
May 15, May 16,  May 19
June 17, June 18
July 14, July 16
August 14, August 15, August 17
Cheryl then tells Albert and Bernard separately the month and the day of her birthday respectively.
Albert: I don’t know when Cheryl’s birthday is, but I know that Bernard does not know too.
Bernard: At first I don’t know when Cheryl’s birthday is, but I know now.
Albert: Then I also know when Cheryl’s birthday is.
So when is Cheryl’s birthday?

Admittedly, it is a difficult question to sift out the better students. It was a test of their logical reasoning skill.

How the answer was deduced:







'The problem was posted on Facebook by ‘Hello Singapore’ television presenter Kenneth Kong, and went viral as people posted their various solutions to the problem.

It was set for 14-year-olds in the Singapore and Asian Schools Math Olympiads (SASMO), which were held on April 8.

This year around 28,000 students from countries across the world including Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, China and the UK took the test.

Henry Ong, executive director of SASMO, told Mothership.sg: 'Being Q24 out of 25 questions, this is a difficult question meant to sift out the better students. SASMO contests target the top 40% of the student population and the standards of most questions are just high enough to stretch the students.'

The maths problem set for Singapore teenagers that has left people across the world stumped

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3037266/The-maths-problem-set-Singapore-teenagers-left-people-world-stumped.html#ixzz3XG2DD600 

Friday, April 10, 2015

Seniors can still laugh over old age

As we age and become senior citizens, our views and priorities would have changed. Gone were the wish and drive to earn more money, and in comes the need and wish to be healthy.

For the past few years, my wife was quick to reply to Chinese New Year wishes (Gong Xi Fa Cai which literally means Wishing you a happy and prosperous new year) with a 'No need for wealth, but health'. But I did not like the way she put it because it comes across as presumptuous, as though she already has plenty of wealth which is not true.

Anyway, I look forward to our almost daily breakfast meet and talk about any current issues and what comes to mind.

One suggested that one of us should plan and set up an old folks' home... preferably near a hospital... and a cemetery, to make it convenient.



Another commented that as we get older and die off, with the different religion or mentality of younger generations, soon there will not be any descendants inclined to do the yearly Qing Ming ritual. With the scarcity of burial grounds and increasing prices of plots, the trend is for cremation...now we have to think of 'condominium' for the dead, as in columbarium! Even this is not cheap. I was told a slot in Ipoh costs at least Rm15,000.

A more practical way is to throw the ashes into the open sea, and not having to ever face the problem of 'no descendants to pray for you'. Even having tablets in temples or communal associations' altars do not guarantee attendance, but have the consolation of having others praying for them during festivals.

A doctor advised an old patient to do a certain test. He said after each test, I had to go on a different diet, soon I will not be allowed to eat anything!

Meanwhile, during a mahjong session among seniors, it is common to hear of sarcastic complaints about a very slow player who will take his or her time to decide, like : 'Are you reading the papers?' Then there is another who would hold on to the 'brick' after throw it out, and when someone exclaimed 'game over' or something to that effect, she would reply that she had not decided (act of holding on) and had decided to change her mind!

It is also amazing to hear of a 70+ male senior commenting about 'the old lady' who is actually only in her 60s or even 50s! Some are really young at heart despite their old age.

Link

Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Azmi Sharom: Thanks for passing anti-terror bill, academic tells Pakatan MPs

'Azmi, who was charged under the Sedition Act last year, was in fact fuming at the opposition coalition, who were beaten by a mere 19 votes in the Dewan Rakyat where they were fighting against the new law, which allows for detention without trial.

"Let's give a big round of applause to the Pakatan Rakyat MPs who, God knows where they were, when they should have been voting against Pota. Thank you very much.

"Where on earth were you? You could have defeated this law... because you know where the BN fellows are at 2 o'clock in the morning. You could have been there to defeat it.

"I am so irritated that I am being extremely immoderate," he said to laughter from some 150 people who attended a forum titled "What is a Moderate Malaysia for Malaysians?" in Kuala Lumpur last night.

The Pota bill was passed at the Dewan Rakyat at 2.25am yesterday after almost 14 hours of debate.

The final vote taken favoured the government with 79 from Barisan Nasional supporting it and 60 from the opposition against it.

Pakatan won 89 seats in the last general election but now has 86 members of parliament after the sacking of Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, losing the previously held DAP set in Teluk Intan and Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's conviction.

Azmi, in his heated tirade against both Pakatan and BN lawmakers, said the leadership of the country was "utterly useless".

"The leadership is absolutely, utterly useless. And when I say leadership, I mean all of them... Barisan and Pakatan."

- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/where-were-you-academic-asks-pakatan-mps-after-anti-terror-bill-passed#sthash.mNg7PlAH.dpuf

MP Wong Chen's post in Facebook (shared by Bersih) explains:

'I now have a short breather after the hectic few days. So let me address the many, many comments on the matter of the absent Pakatan MPs on the POTA vote. The view of many is one of anger.

I don't accept excuses nor do I make them. Every MP is responsible and answerable to his constituents and the nation. Some were overseas and one had very serious health issues. Two were Menteri Besars and probably had official duties, but I am not sure what functions they have at 2.30 am. Some just chose not to turn up. Some felt they were not informed, eventhough Pakatan MPs have a dedicated whatsapp group.

All I have to say is let them answer for themselves, I am sure as an MP they can argue and justify their absence.

Could we have defeated BN if all 86 Pakatan MPs turned up? No, simply because UMNO BN will delay the process and call more of their MPs to attend Parliament. This is what they did in the 2012 budget bill. If we got all 86 Pakatan MPs to attend BN would delay the process and bring in 87.

Najib and Muhyiddin will get out of bed to vote. Maybe we should have forced him out of bed to make a point. But ultimately we would have lost.

On the fateful POTA vote night, they had 79 and we had 60. If you are mathematically inclined you will note that the turn up percentage for BN was 59% and Pakatan 70%. Credit where credit is due DAP had an outstanding 92% turnout, PKR 64% and PAS 48%.

The only conceivable way to stop POTA is thru a procedural matter in the standing order (like what we are now attempting for the Sedition Act). Another possibility is to get the BN backbenchers or BN component members such as MCA, MIC and Gerakan to support us against the bill. That will be asking for a miracle.

But in this country you won't get articles and headlines that say UMNO, MCA, MIC and Gerakan betrayed the nation for bringing back detention without trial.'

Before I read the above articles, my comment and some replies in Facebook:

Kok Son Ong: Let's be fair to PR. If there were more PR MPs do you think Speaker would have stopped the clock? BN is in control and they could decide whether or not any law is to be passed. Even if they failed this time they will do it again until successful.
Like · Reply · 13 · 19 hrs

Harriri Mohd Noor: What about solidarity? What happen to united we stand divided we fall?
Like · 16 hrs

Kok Son Ong: Without the numbers how many times can PR unite to stave off BN?
Like · 1 · 16 hrs

Davis Tan : That 86 monkeys should be there since we peoples give them salary to be there.
Like · 1 · 4 hrs

Kok Son Ong: Let them explain themselves for taking it lightly or some might have good personal reasons for their absence. We can certainly fault them for not giving a good fight before accepting defeat.

My comment in Facebook:

ISA was repealed by Najib with pride in projecting a liberal image. Sedition Act too was supposed to be repealed, but instead amended to more or less replace ISA! That's his style of transformation. Without popular votes in GE13, he claims the silent majority is supporting him. Now, with a more potent SA and a new POTA, I realise what he meant was the silenced majority will still support him! The man known for his elegant silence has been quietly strengthening the laws to his advantage. Now he is strong enough to face even Dr M and any opposition leaders who dare to cross him with further exposes. They have to tread very carefully so as not to fall foul under OSA, BAFIA or the amended RFA. It is going to be tested in law on confidentiality against transparency, with the case against Rafizi under BAFIA. The laws seem to favour the powers that be against disclosures of wrongdoings or corruption. Those engaged in exposes will find it hard to do so and risk being jailed in their fight for good governance. It is up to the voters to decide at the next GE whether to let our country continue to be ruled under unfair laws or biased institutions, and without transparency and good governance.

My comment in Facebook under Malaysiakini headline: Sedition Act provision can 'trap' opposition (by Khalid Samad):

It happened before: authorities enforced laws unreasonably and blatantly biased against opposition leaders and dissidents, which baited and elicited outrage, protests and supposedly seditious statements. But with the new laws and amendments, they can be jailed without legal recourse. Just imagine the ease by which BN could put away opposition MPs and ADUNs legally which would make elections meaningless and farcical. Let's hope this could be the tipping point for the voters to vote out BN and help a new government restore our faith in democracy and good governance.
Link

Monday, April 06, 2015

What GST boils down to

I was never in doubt that GST will be implemented. After all, BN passed the Bill into law, and short of a revolution, I did not think protests could stop its implementation on April 1.

Despite initial resistance and reluctance, enforcement will ensure registration of the bulk of those required to be registered. There might be teething problems but things will eventually sort themselves out, warts and all. There would be profiteers as well as those who collected in the name of GST and not remitting the due amounts to Customs. The general public should not be over concerned with the nitty gritty of GST collections which is the duty of those in Customs department. What concern us is how much it would affect our pockets and if necessary, boycott those traders who took advantage of us. Sometimes, ignorance is bliss. Let those who want to profiteer, do so at their own risks. By now, we should have been well conditioned to all kinds of imperfections in life, especially in Malaysia, where many criminals are still able to roam freely.

Initially, our government hinted at the possible introduction of GST (or VAT in some countries) with examples showing a rate of 4%. Nearer implementation date, the rate was increased to 6%. This, by itself, shows how easy it is for the government to revise the rate (even before implementation), once it is implemented.

GST is supposed to be a revenue earner for the government to cover for any future shortfall in oil revenues. Initially, we were told about the depleting oil reserves which could last less than 20 years. But our revenues fell very much short even before that, as a result of the dramatic drop in oil prices worldwide. Even our biggest corporation, Petronas, was so badly affected that it has to cut capex, opex and other substantial expenditures which in turn affected those companies who relied on it. Petronas used to contribute half of our national revenues.

GST has become so necessary for our dire financial situation that our government will not let its introduction be derailed by those anti-GST protests. Some of the leaders involved in the protests were arrested, under one pretext or other, but many believe that it had more to do with preventing the escalation of protests which might affect GST implementation.

In trying to explain to the public the advantages of GST (like getting more people to pay tax instead of the small percentage currently paying income taxes), literature and seminars were conducted for the benefit of business people likely to be affected, as well as the general public who will have to bear the brunt of its effects. The problem with using too simplistic examples is that the actual situations are so different that confusion prevailed on the first and subsequent days.

Each industry has its own problems in dealing with GST. Besides knowing whether it is exempted or not, it has to know what goods or services are zero-rated or standard-rated. For those dealing with a myriad of items, like sundry shops and hardware shops, it was a herculean task. If the shops are big enough like supermarkets and hypermarkets, they are financially and operationally ready to take on any changes in tax. But the poor marginal shops which are liable to be registered because their annual turnover exceed Rm500,000, it is more tempting to just close shop, which some actually did.

Consumers' first encounter with GST is likely to be at the coffee shop, sundry shop or supermarket. From feedback, prices rose across the board (rightly or wrongly) on the first day of GST. Some customers insisted on receipts to ensure they are correctly charged for the increase, but they fail to understand that for those businesses which are not required to be registered, they could not claim back any input GST and had to charge more as a result of the increased prices of raw materials and services. Yet, they can be penalised if they claimed the increase was because of GST! The other point is, how can they provide GST registration number if they are unregistered and how can they produce GST bills? So it was almost comical to see examples of traders forced to scribble a note to show the GST portion charged!


 
Courtesy of Leonard DCruz in FB


The other common confusion was the old Sales and Service Tax which was replaced by GST, as well as the old Service Tax (10%) and Government Tax (6%) charged by restaurants and fast food outlets. Most people confused the service tax charged on professional service with the service tax charged in restaurants which are meant to be for their waiting service. It has been explained that restaurants are allowed to impose 10% ST because Malaysians are poor tippers! In trying to sooth those who complained, a minister actually said that the ST is optional and customers can choose whether to pay or not. But I can imagine the argument between customer and waiter at the time of settling the bill.

I wonder if those in charge of GST implementation had sought advice from other countries which have implemented VAT or GST (like UK which had a long history, or Australia which introduced GST only a few years ago). I am sure we should have been able to avoid some basic problems by learning from mistakes of others.

If only we were not desperate for revenues... we could have reduced the number of items taxable and slowly increase them when the people are familiar with the tax. For example, most people complained about medical service and drugs which are taxable in the private sector. The list is very long and it seems those listed represent only 25% of all known drugs! Just imagine the confusion as a result of having to check against the list. There will be mistakes, deliberate or otherwise. How we wish all medical service and drugs are exempted or zero-rated instead! But like everything else, if there are more items taxable mean so much more revenues for the government. How can we expect our desperate government to miss the chance of collecting such huge amounts?

If there is going to be a backlash from GST, it would be from the lower income groups which form the bulk of those badly affected. Whatever benefits from BR1M will be negated by the increase in prices of essential goods and services.

To the middle income groups, they can still afford the luxury of choice as explained in this blogsite:
Pay Your Good Hawkers Whatever They Want
 
http://malaysiafinance.blogspot.com/2015/04/pay-your-good-hawkers-whatever-they-want.html

To the super rich, which include Umnoputras and well heeled ministers, they are so out of touch with the common people that they think people could be fooled by unrealistic Rm1 chicken and impractical enforcements to ensure prices are controlled. The reality is more like 'take it or leave it'. How many times can we complain if traders refused to sell at controlled prices?

Link

How permanent is a PR status?

My wife went to UK in 1968 and was given Permanent Resident status after a few years. I went in 1973 and when I married her in 1976, I was given PR status by virtue of our marital status. Till today, I admire the British for their sex equality laws, something wanting in our own country. A number of my friends who married foreigners, migrated simply because of the periodic hassle at the immigration department.

There was a period when we used to hear of friends or relatives having to visit UK or Australia, to 'renew' their PR status! Soon, UK amended their law on this, and any UKPR leaving the country must return within 6 months, and had to stay for a minimum of 2 years, otherwise, they would lose their PR status. Of course, since then, the relevant law would have been amended many times and I am not sure about current requirements.

For those already in employment or business, it is unlikely they could meet those conditions. Even then, we had concluded that the most important seems to be money: if anyone has plenty of it, almost all countries would welcome him or her.

There was a time when many Malaysians, including wealthy ones, who applied and maintained their PR status in Australia (to the extent of actually living there for 6 months or whatever period required) just so that their children could benefit from the free university education then.

A few days ago, at breakfast, my regular 'kaki' mentioned about his daughter's Singapore PR status and seem to think the PR status is permanent and up to her to go back and work at any time in the future. I told him that offhand I think it is not correct, because PR is logically meant for those working in Singapore and once you are out for a number of years, you cannot claim you are a permanent resident for a fact, can you?

Back home, I searched on Singapore's PR status and was not disappointed with the information (in support of my view), though my friend would be disappointed with his wrong perception and the fact that his daughter probably lost her PR status already.
'Overview

A valid Re-Entry Permit (REP) is necessary whenever a Singapore Permanent Resident (SPR) wishes to travel out of Singapore. It will enable the Permanent Resident to retain his/her SPR status while away from Singapore.

A SPR who remains outside Singapore without a valid REP will lose his/her SPR status.'


Source:
http://www.ica.gov.sg/page.aspx?pageid=152
Actually, based on the number of Malaysians who are working in Singapore and the ease they obtained SPR status even now, my friend should not fret over it. Singapore still need foreign workers and Malaysians are particularly welcome.
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Thursday, April 02, 2015

Kelantan: State government survey finds 90% in Kelantan want hudud... but are you convinced?

- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/state-government-survey-finds-90-in-kelantan-want-hudud#sthash.ygxOvtRd.dpuf

Meanwhile political scientist, Dr Wong Chin Huat explains succinctly the fallacy of such a claim:

'How does Kelantan state government find 90% of support for its Syariah Criminal Code? Here is a simple methodological analysis.

***

Teacher: Raise your hand if you are absent.
Teacher: Great, 100% attendance!

Statistician: 100% self-selection bias.

***

PAS Kelantan: Reply to our sms whether you agree with Syariah Criminal Code
156,138 surveyed.
9,654 responded. (response rate: 6.18%)
8,940 accepted. ("acceptance rate": 92.60%)
8,198 support. (support rate: 91.70%)
PAS Kelantan: yeah, 91.70% support Hudud!

Hold on, here are more details:

Question 1:
"After 20 years the Shariah Criminal Code (hudud) is going to become a reality. Agree/Disagree?" Surveyed: 77,382
Responded: 5,395
Accepted: 5,284

Question 2:
"To ensure that the Shariah Criminal Code (hudud) is implemented, it is necessary to work with the federal government. Agree/Disagree?"
Surveyed: 78,756
Responded: 4,259
Accepted: 3,656

Here is the arithmetic:
5,395+4,259 = 9,654
5,284+3,656 = 8,940

So
1. Can respondents from two different surveys be added together to produce a single percentage?
2. Why is there not a question asking "Do you support the Syariah Criminal Code?"
3. Why are 111 questions to Question 1 and 603 responses to Question 2 "unaccepted"? May we have some samples of the rejected responses?'

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