Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Water For Singapore (By Dr M)


Note from me: Dr M finally agreed that the water agreement favours Malaysia when pointed out by someone but this latest posting of his gave another different take to bolster his argument.  This water agreement will see no end for as long as he lives, sigh.

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1. I would like to thank the visitor to my blog who pointed out that the terms of the agreement to supply raw water and receive treated water to and from Singapore actually favours Malaysia.  I agree.  But I am talking about revision in the price of raw water since 3 sen per 1000 gallons is ridiculous today.  It would be even more ridiculous in the decades to come.  Hence, the need to renegotiate.  According to the present agreement, if Malaysia sells 1,000,000 of raw water it should be paid 3,000 sen or RM30.00.
2.  Malaysia can buy 12% of the raw water treated by Singapore at 50 sen per 1000 gallons i.e for 120,000 gallons, Malaysia has to pay RM60.00 for this.  But the cost of treating water is RM1.09 (say RM1.10)
3.  The savings for Malaysia is therefore 60 sen per 1000 gallons equals to RM72.00 for 120,000 gallons.
4.   Since 3 sen is ridiculous, supposing Malaysia wishes to ask for 6 sen per 1000 gallons, an increase of 100%.  It can only do so if Singapore agrees.  It can be assumed that Singapore would want to increase the price of treated water.  It may ask for the same quantum i.e a 100% increase to RM1.00 per 1000 gallons.
5.  For 120,000 gallons Malaysia will have to pay RM120.00.  The cost of treatment for 120,000 gallons is 1.10 x 120 = RM132.00.
6.  The benefit for Malaysia would be reduced to RM12.00 due to the increase in price.  If there is negotiations then Singapore might be persuaded not to increase or to increase at a lower rate.  But this will not be the end.
7.  Johor charges Malacca 30 sen per 1000 gallons.  If we charge the same to Singapore would it raise the price above the cost of treatment?  If it does than it would be better for Malaysia to have its own treatment plant.
8. That is why negotiations are necessary from time to time.  We should not allow ourselves to be short-changed over the next 57 years to 2060.
9.   Malaysia should learn to include exit clauses when entering into agreements.  It should always remember that over time money depreciates i.e prices increase.
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Thursday, July 18, 2013

THE TRANS PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP (By Dr M)


Author's note:  This is taken from the blog post of Dr M (http://chedet.cc/?p=1020).  Despite having retired some one decade ago, he has never failed to continue 'attacking' SIN on the water issue, the railway and the 'crooked' bridge, among others which were never resolved during his rule.  Had he continued premiership to present, I think relationship with our neighbour would be very rocky...no thanks to the 4th PM.

To know more of his most recent thought, read on...       

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Written by Dr M

An edited version of this article appeared in the New Straits Times of July 12, 2013
1. The secretary to the Ministry of Trade and Industry avers that trade negations must be done in secret, I suppose by the officers concerned. There should apparently be no public debate or even within the Government.
2. I don’t think it is such a good practice, if indeed that is the practice. Let us see the record of trade and other agreements negotiated by the Malaysian Government. They do not seem to favour Malaysia much. In fact they seem to result in Malaysia accepting unfavourable terms.
3. Firstly let us look at the water agreement with Singapore. Malaysia agreed to sell raw water at 3 cents per 1000 gallons. In return Malaysia can buy 12 per cent or less of the treated water for 50 cents. If the rates are to be revised both countries must agree.
4. If Malaysia raises the rate to 6 cent per 1000 gallons (i.e. 100 per cent) then Singapore can raise by the same factor to 1 dollar per 1000 gallons of treated water. This is not going to benefit Malaysia. And so we never tried to renegotiate the prices.
5. The first agreement lapsed in 2011 and we did not renegotiate at all. The next agreement will lapse in 2060. So we will be getting 3 cents per 1000 gallons of raw water when the cost of living has probably gone up many-many times.
6. To avoid Singapore revising the price of water if we raise the price of raw water, Johor was given enough money to build its own treatment plant. Not having to depend on supply from Singapore, we could raise the price of raw water without Singapore raising the price of treated water.
7. I am told that Johor still needs to buy treated water from Singapore. I really do not know why. So the price has not been renegotiated and I suppose will not be renegotiated until 2060.
8. Today the Singapore Dollar is 2 ½ times the value of the Malaysian Ringgit. At the time of the agreement it was one to one. Are we receiving payment in Singapore Dollar or Malaysian Ringgit? Or is this a secret also?
9. Frankly I don’t think we thought very carefully when we negotiated. Incidentally Johor sells water at 30 cent per 1000 gallons to Melaka, i.e. 1000 per cent higher than for Singapore.
10. Then there is the purchase of the F/A-18 fighter aircraft. Actually the Government wanted the MIG-29. Somehow part of the fund was used to purchase the F/A-18. I suppose the people who made this decision know why they must have the F/A-18.
11. Unfortunately the agreement to purchase did not include the source code. Without the source code the F/A-18 can only fly on missions approved by the United States. Until then these very expensive fighter planes can only be used for show at LIMA. Very expensive toys.
12. Then there is the AFTA, the Asean Free Trade Area. We agreed that cars with 40 per cent local contents qualify as national and tax-free entry into ASEAN markets. Forty per cent local contents are easily achieved by cars from outside ASEAN. This means the Japanese, Korean, Chinese and European cars can get ASEAN countries’ national status merely by being assembled in ASEAN countries together with batteries, tyres and a few other components.
14. The negotiators may think they negotiated a good deal but I just don’t think so. We are simply opening our markets to countries with closed markets.
15. But to make matters worse, while Proton must comply with Malaysian safety and other standards, the imported cars are given exemptions from most of these. If Proton wishes to export to the countries of the manufacturers, it must comply with all their standards. So far we cannot export to Japan, Korea and the European countries. This is how good the agreements we have entered into.
16. We lost Pulau Batu Puteh but we cannot build the bridge or remove the causeway, or settle the provident fund issue. But we have given up our railway land worth billions to Singapore for practically nothing. And now we must ask Singapore’s permission to build our high speed train.
17. Look at all the agreements we have entered into and you will find practically none of them favours us.
18. Now we want to swallow the American conceived TPP, Trans Pacific Partnership. This is another attempt by America to let their huge corporations penetrate the domestic markets of the small countries, in particular Government procurements.
19. When the GATT (General Agreement on Trade and Tariff) failed they invented WTO (World Trade Organisation) for the same purpose. That also failed. They then invented APEC. Still they cannot achieve their objective. They introduced bilateral free trade agreements. Then they promoted a Globalised World, a world without borders in which their money can go anywhere, destroy economies and then pull out. In case we have forgotten they did this in 1997 – 8.
20. Still they cannot get at Government procurement. And now they invented TPP, a partnership of unequal, of the strong to take advantage of the weak.
21. This is going to be legally binding. If we breach the agreement, their corporations can sue the Government for billions. I have my doubts about our ability to convince the international arbitrators or courts. We cannot even convince the World Court over Pulau Batu Puteh.
22. They will have the best lawyers, lots of them. We will exhaust all our funds to pay our less experienced lawyers. At the end we will lose and pay indemnities and fees running into billions. And we will continue to pay until we comply. And when we comply we will lose more money.
23. We have a domestic problem and we have to solve this problem. They don’t care. Anyone who talks about the New Economic Policy (NEP) is labelled racist by our officials. When the currency rogues attacked us the purpose was to gain control over our economy. We resisted that because we were still free then. But after we sign the TPP we will be bound hand and foot. No more capital control. We will be colonised again. President Sukarno was right about neo-colonialism.
24. I know MITI is already set to agree to the TPP. It will not entertain any counter arguments. It wants to do this secretly. We don’t punish people who make agreements detrimental to the interest of this country. So what is there to lose.
25. This is my country as much as it is the country of the officials and politicians. If people secretly do harm to my country I have a right to complain.
26. We talk a lot about transparency. Let us see transparency regarding the TPP negotiation. The October 2013 ultimatum should be ignored. And let China also be included.13. We produce the Proton in Malaysia with 90% local contents. Naturally our costs are higher and cannot compete with non-ASEAN cars assembled in ASEAN countries. While these cars flood the Malaysian market, hardly any Proton is seen in ASEAN countries.
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Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Training at Gunung Pulai




In preparing my team members for the coming Mt Kinabalu climb on 2 Aug this year, I planned a training hike at Gunung Pulai on 14 July, Sunday.  At first it was meant for the team of 14 of us but not all can make it, I therefore posted on meet up site inviting other keen members to join us too.  Finally, I had 25 confirmed but two withdrew at last hour due to sickness.  Some of my regular outdoor kakis did join me too and they were Dora, CK, Long Chua, Catherine and Kevin Soh.

Gunung Pulai stands at about 800 metres high is located in Pontian, Johor and it takes slightly more than an hour drive after clearing immigration on both sides.  The route from the base of the mountain to the furthest point is 5 km.  It is a popular exercise site for the locals too.  The plan was to trek up twice, and total distance covered is 20 km but some can choose to do one round instead.  There is no hard and fuss rule.

We left Marsiling MRT Station at about 0730 hrs.  The plan was to leave at 0700 hrs sharp but I 'booed-booed' when I realised some trains at some stations depart later on Sunday.  I was stranded at Bishan interchange for good 20 minutes and therefore, for the first time as event organiser I arrived 10 mins late.  One lesson learnt for me for not checking on train departure on Sunday, only to assume everything should be the same.  Nonetheless, all was well and we managed to leave at 0730 hrs.  There was no jam at Woodlands check-point and very soon, we were cleared and on the way.  We even stopped at Perling for quick breakfast.

It was drizzling in the morning in Singapore but rain stopped before we left for Johor.  The weather looked somewhat gloomy in Johor, threatening to rain anytime but it was cool.  I was hoping the weather will hold until we finish our hike.  It took a little while for our driver to find the place but our driver had to gingerly maneuver in the tight space that leads to the foot of the mountain where we were to set foot.  This being a weekend, there were plenty of cars parked on either side of the road.  The weather was still cool though it looked gloomy.

Before 1000 hours, we were ready to move off.  Some in the group were planning to do 2 rounds and some just one round only.  I have had trekked up Gunung Pulai on few occasions and I am quite familiar with the route.  Majority in the group including Dora, CK, Long Chua and Catherine were there for the first time.  For Kevin, it was his second.  Though it is tared road all the way to the summit but the elevation at some points can be quite steep, almost 45 degree.  This is a good training ground for those who are attempting Mt Kinabalu as the path at Gunung Pulai terrain is almost the same as Mt Kinabalu in the final push to the summit.

Along the way, we met a group of runners in their specially designed red tee and everyone had a number tag on them.  After chatting with some, we realised the run event was organised by Bukit Timah Nature Reserve.  It is not easy running up and I really salute some who actually ran up and ran down.  An idea suddenly sprung to my mind.  How about a charity run event at Gunung Pulai in the near future?  I think it can be quite fun and meaningful too.  Yes, it is in the pipeline soon.

When I finished one round and waited at the base to see if anyone from my Mount Kinabalu team can go for another round.  Milan was already on his second round.  I then went for my second round.  Even though I exercise regularly, attempting second round can be quite taxing too.  Dora, Catherine, CK and Kevin stopped at one round but Long Chua went for the second round.  At some point, he even ran up.

At the u-turn point, I waited a while for the rest to arrive.  Though I hoped many could reach the summit on second round but I had to make sure we won't end up too late.  There were some who did one round were still waiting at the base for the rest of us.  I decided that the cut-off was about 1330 hrs as it will take an hour or so to reach the base.  I met Jimmy, one of my Mt Kinabalu team who was near the u-turn but I had to ask him to turn back.  So too were Rio and Hui Wen.  Rio had a heavy load on her small frame, I reckoned it weighed some seven kilograms and puffed & huffed, she still managed at least one and two third round when she was turned back by me.  Had time was not the factor, she could have finished two full rounds with a heavy pack on her.  I was impressed by her feat.

Everyone arrived and accounted for and by 1500 hrs, we headed to Bukit Indah Shopping Centre for two hours of leisure shopping before going home.  It was a good training for some of us who will be going to Mt Kinabalu and I am confident my team members will do well.          

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Grown Man Cried Over Excess Baggage Payment



I have had few funny encounters when I was working as a passenger handling officer with KLM at the airport and after so many years, I still vividly remember this particular one.

In the 80s right up to the 90s, video recorder which was first introduced to the consumer market by the Japanese I believe was the 'in-thing' then and one particular model stood up, the Panasonic brand.  The demand for Panasonic video recorders from the India market was phenomenal, every flight that was bounded for India sectors could see an Indian passenger checking in the video recorders and stretching their 20 kgs baggage allowance to the limit or beyond.  Fuelled by such insatiable demands in vast India market, enterprising traders wasted no time sending out the video recorders via the fastest means by tapping on the passenger baggage allowance instead of sending via cargo means.  Indian passengers were offered commission for carrying the video recorders on behalf of these traders.  The traders were doing a roaring business with the video recorders.

Our flight to Amsterdam via Delhi was no exception.  On any of our typical departure via Delhi, we had more Indian passengers to Delhi than to Amsterdam and our flights were mostly overbooked.  At the check-in counters, it was usually mayhem when these passengers tried all means to get away with excess baggage payment and we really had to stay firm handling them.  One male Indian passenger thought he was smart.  I was on duty at the counters.  He was travelling with his family and from the first look, I knew they will have excess to pay later.  When he placed his baggage including his video recorder on the weighing scale and at the same time he placed his feet in between the little gap to lift up the scale.  In doing so, the weight will be greatly reduced.  I am aware of this old trick.  An inexperienced check-in staff will not notice it as the baggage that was placed on the weighing scale will block his or her vision.  I pretended I did not notice his action and went about with the tagging of his baggage.  I deliberately took a little longer time to process his check-in and there, he was still using one of his feet to lift up the weighing scale for the longest possible time.  He was struggling with it, the weight reflected on the screen was jumping up and down.  I was smirking inside me.  I had already recorded the actual weight before he placed his feet on the weighing scale.  When it was done, I handed him the excess baggage payment that he needed to pay before he can get his boarding passes.  Shocked, he went on to tell me that he had no excess but why must he pay for it.  I looked him in the eyes, pointed on his feet which was still holding on the weighing scale and he knew what I meant.  His ruse was exposed and he started to plead for leniency.  With two hands folded and held near at chest level, and at the same time, twisting his head ala 'Indian fashion', he kept begging for leniency but I was adamant.  Then, in his final desperate attempt, he cried in front of me.  Yes, it was real tears that flowed out but I did not bulge.  Had a woman cried in front of me, I could have relented I think but a grown man??? It actually back-fired on him and in the end, he had to pay up or miss the flight.  This is one lesson taught to him for trying to act smart in attempt to get away with excess baggage payment.

After sometime we could find our job scope rather monotonous but as front liner, we encountered different situations which actually made our job rather interesting.  More to follow...              

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Close Encounter


When I started working at Changi Airport after completing my NS stint, still 20 years of age then as an operations assistant and that year was 1982.  My job was in the passenger handling area; counter check-in, processing of passenger documents, departure & arrival duty, among others.  I was a greenhorn and like any greenhorn, everything was a learning process and I was always eager to learn.

One evening, I was tasked by my supervisor to take over the duty of the full time attendant at our CIP lounge who had to leave early for one hour to attend to personal urgent matter and then called it a day.  The last flight at Changi Airport departed at 0100 hrs to Dhahran in Saudi Arabia by China Airlines then.  Our lounge that served first and business class passengers was located at quite a deep end within the airport restricted zone and during that late hour, the place was very quiet as other airline lounges had already closed for the day.

I remember that particular CI flight was not full, only one first class passenger turned up at the lounge.  He was an Arab and he was quite a fat chap, wearing a safari suit.  He did not talk much, got his drink and sat at the couch.  I was bored, dead bored and there was no one to talk to even though it was for one hour relief.  I decided to kick a conversation with him asking him where did he go in Singapore.  At first, his reply was quite nonchalant until I asked him if he had visited Johor Road.  Johor Road then was an infamous place for transvestites and what else, its 'kinky activities'.  It was just a casual topic uttered from my mouth.  I thought Johor Road was quite an interesting place for any curious tourist, not necessarily have to be any prim & proper attractions but gosh, I was proven wrong for this one.  He started to get excited, eager to engage in a conversation with me.  He then asked me to sit on the couch next to him.  I did not think much about it, as I thought I can have a good conversation with him before his departure.  Mistake, big mistake...the moment I sat on the couch, he started to get closer to me and then touching me all over.  He tried to push me down and there was a struggle between the two of us.  Was I scared?  Heck no, scared was not even in my mind but fending him off was.  He was a bigger man but luckily for me, he was not strong.  There was a physical tussle and phew, I managed to subdue him eventually.  By the way, I had just finished my army stint and was still in my best physical condition, and had he gone any further, I could have bashed him up good and proper....yes, bash him up, I would.  After subduing him, he knew I meant business and he stayed quiet throughout until he was ready for boarding.  Had I been the weaker one, I could be in deep trouble.  Even I shouted for help, no one will hear me as our lounge which was located right at the deep end was the only one that was still opened.  I did not report the matter officially to my supervisor but did share with my colleagues of my close encounter then.  Admittedly, I did have a good laugh over it.  More than 30 years now, I still have some clear memory about this encounter.