Beberapa Gambar Sekitar Gerakerja Di Kawasan Jerai


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Loose Tongues

I have been busy running around (practically so) this month that I have had very little time to pen my thoughts and my programs on my blogs. Must have racked on quite a fair bit of miles and worn out a sole or two (exaggeration!). But anyway, felt compelled to write on this matter.

I have always considered YB Dato’ Seri Rais Yatim as one of the more rationale minded and knowledgeable ministers around. His comments and ideas appear to be well thought out before he says them and the way he delivers his thoughts and ideas, especially in his speeches shows a certain flair, elegance and mannerisms of a learned and well read person.

However these past several weeks have been quite the opposite for him. First was his comment that Malaysians, especially Muslims, should not be too engrossed with Facebook, Twitter and such because this is a Western invention. Honestly, I find it very offensive and totally of tangent, especially because:-

i. Facebook, Twitter and so on and nothing more than tools of communication. It is up to the user how to use or abuse them. The same goes for internet and a lot of other things. They are by no means an end to themselves but just tools to assist us to achieve what we want. Should you decide to use the internet to good use, seeking knowledge and opening up our minds, then internet has been put to good use. Should we decide to abuse it by accessing porn sites and other negative sites only, then we are abusing this facility. Twitter, Facebook or even the internet cannot decide. They just react to our commands.

ii. So what if it is a western invention? If we are not allowed to use Western inventions, then there are a whole list of things we cannot utilise or even consume. No where in the Al-Quran nor in the hadiths by Rasulullah saw that said Muslims must stay away from Western inventions. What are Halal and Haram are not dictated by geographical aspects nor by who invented them.

If anything at all, one should put these mediums to good use. Use them to spread the teachings of Allah swt for example, keep contact with friends near and far and learn about other cultures and countries that are so distant from us.

Another statement that he made was the recent issue on blogger Aduka Taruna. What Aduka Taruna did was extremely disrespectful, not only because AlMarhum Tuanku was the subject, but would even be insulting for a normal person who passed away. How can YB Dato Seri Rais Yatim said that this person will not be charged and should be let off? I thought that was the purview of the Attorney General after reviewing the case and no one else. What YB Dato’ Seri did then was ultra vires.

As a learned person holding the post of Minister, YB Dato Rais should know better. The fact that he is holding the portfolio of information minister makes it worse for him on these cases. His statements make him look foolish and ill placed, especially when even his cabinet colleagues and fellow UMNO members from top to bottom are criticising him for his statements.

Monday, January 18, 2010

My letter to Star

Dear Sirs,

I refer to your report on page N8 - “Legalise, Don’t Deport”.

I totally disagree with MIC Youth Chief T Mohan who asked the Government to introduce a clemency programme for the 40,000 Indian citizens working illegally in Malaysia. His statement is irresponsible and is not thought out properly.

Firstly, should the Government follow his advice, the Government will set a very dangerous precedent for other illegal workers. What about the illegal workers from Indonesia and China? If we were to allow for the illegal and missing Indian workers, we would then need to allow for the others too.

By coming out with a clemency programme as suggested by MIC Youth, the Government will set a trend that will encourage more illegal workers and overstayers in the future. Our country will be swamped with them and we would have a host of other problems that our country could well do without.

The relevant agencies under Government must take action against illegal workers, irregardless where they come from. For example, obviously these workers were brought in by agents or specific companies to work in Malaysia. Immigration Department or Human Resources Ministry should haul them up, not to explain but to impose stiff penalties and even blacklist these companies because of their failure to monitor these illegal and overstaying workers.

MIC, being the a political party should assist the Government by flushing the illegals out rather than trying to protect the wrongdoers and trying to get them clemency.

We want good workers who are respectful of the law, not those who break the law. I am disappointed that MIC Youth feels they should protect these people who have clearly broken the law.

Ahmad Ikmal Ismail

Vice Division Chief for UMNO Jerai

Saturday, January 2, 2010

A Case for The Removal of Subsidies

I generally agree with the Government’s move to reduce the subsidy on sugar and remove it from white bread. I was also happy (although it also hit my pocket) that the Government reduced the subsidies on petrol.

Generally subsidies make us have a false sense of economic security and well being. It also gives us a false inflation indicator as the index is calculated based on the subsidised price and not the actual market price and cost. We then think we have more money in our pockets whilst in all fairness, our purchasing power has gone down. Because of subsidised pricing and this false sense of security, we tend to be clumsy on our spending and maybe even consume more, which in turn chalks up a higher subsidy bill for the Government and taxpayers.

Subsidies are also a lot like burnt money. They tend not to have a high multiplier effect on the economy but is just given to the supplier direct. For example, Malaysia’s subsidy bills runs up to approximately RM25 – RM30 billion. Imagine what the nation can do in terms of development, economic stimulus packages and so on if we have that much money in the nation’s pocket instead of it being burnt money.

So,in general, subsidies are bad for the economy in the long run. The gradual removal of subsidies, especially to the rich must be implemented and welcomed. For example, why should a person who can afford to buy a luxurious huge oil guzzler of 3.0 litres or more, be given the same amount of subsidy per litre petrol as a person driving a 1.6litre. More so the oil guzzler might have a 120l capacity tank compared to the smaller car which has a 70l capacity tank. In this regard, obviously, the Government subsidy on petrol is being enjoyed by the wrong group.

However, in reality, the Government still needs to subsidise for the poor and the needy, especially on basic and essential items like rice, sugar and so on. Certain economic activities like padi planting, farming, fishing and so on also must be subsidised. These are all part of the overall “Food Security Programme” for the country. It is better to subsidise these activities and ensure domestic production of these food types rather than import from outside and be exposed to the whims and fancies of foreign country suppliers.

The removal of subsidies should be done gradually and smartly. Agreed that this will be an unpopular move politically but it must be done to ensure the country’s competitiveness and survival in the long run. The Government must clearly explain and justify to the rakyat the importance and the effects of the removal of these subsidies. At the same time, the Government must clearly show where all the money saved as a result of the removal of the subsides go to. A case in question is the reduction of the petrol subsidy. The Government declared that it would save RM4billion which would be used to improve transport facilities and so on. Even if the ensuing world petrol price hike had wiped out the total RM4b savings, this must be explained clearly and in detail to the Rakyat instead of a one off remark. The same goes for the savings for sugar, white bread subsidies and other subsidies in the future.

Though the Government means well, lack of communication and explanation will lead to confusion and speculation. The Rakyat will think that there is corruption and leakages in the Government machinery which is a worse political death knell than the removal of subsides for the rich initially.

Remove certain subsidies and re-strategise on certain other subsidies to ensure that the subsidies reach the right target group. At the same time, the Government machinery must be improved to ensure there is no abuse or wastage on these subsidies.

Tell the rakyat clearly where the savings from the removal of subsidies have gone to.

Ahmad Ikmal Ismail

Vice UMNO Division Chief Jerai

(sent this article to the media)