Friday, 29 August 2014

Is the grass greener on the other side?

A close friend of mine had tendered his 24-hour notice of resignation yesterday. It really shocked me to the core when I first got his Whatsapp message early Thursday morning.

Why? How happened? I asked myself countless times.

My ex-housemate and I also had a brief discussion on this. He still cannot comprehend why staffs leave established and prominent organisations such as a central bank.

My quick answer was money as this was also the motive of my boss leaving the office today for an offer of double of his current salary.

How about other perks? He asked back.

My boss shared with me of his insights into motives behind what make some people stay and some people leave.

Are you satisfied of what you have/are now?

Well materially, I cannot lie myself that my current pay won't be enough to fulfil all of my wants! Nevertheless, alhamdulillah, I'm very grateful of the living standard that I'm currently enjoying. More than enough to finance the lifestyle of a single, eldest son of retired parents which only receive 'pension' from their own children.

Anyhow, I applaud ur courage to leave your comfort zone and pursue career betterment beyond bnm. I pray for ur greater success at the new place and really hope ur journey would inspire me to pursue mine too. 

This is our starting point for a colourful friendship 13 years ago and I hope it won't be our last meeting place, nor that was our last hug. And I won't bid you farewell because goodbye isn't our common vocabulary. But I will shed a tear to mark this important milestone of you in our scrapbook of friendship.

Sunday, 10 August 2014

‘Crises are bound to happen again and again'

Governor of Malaysia's central bank Zeti Akhtar Aziz shares her insights from the front line of the battle against regional and global financial crisis, in an exclusive interview with the Nation Group's Veenarat Laohapakakul.

Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz is the first female central bank governor in Asia. She has been with Malaysia's central bank since 1985, becoming interim governor during the financial crisis in 1998 and governor in 2000. She has been credited with developing the financial sector and steering Malaysia onto a stable economic path.

A lot has been said about the Asean Economic Community, but how will integration in next year actually impact our 10 economies?

I am a strong advocate for this integration process because I think our approach is very different to the way Europe has approached economic and financial integration, though we would like to achieve the same objectives of greater prosperity for all the countries. We come from a region of highly diverse countries and so we can leverage on our complementary strengths. Going forward we really need to intensify our interconnectivities so that there's more trade. Right now, [only] 25 per cent of our total trade is within Southeast Asia, so we need to intensify this. We need to recycle our savings so they are invested within our region. We should put in place the infrastructure to enable this to happen.

This should be win-win. No countries should be marginalised as a result of this process. It cannot be a winner-takes-all approach.

The BRICS countries recently formed a development bank. Do you think that's a good
idea?

To some extent I think it's an expression of frustration that emerging economies do not have
a voice in existing international organisations like the IMF and World Bank. There are
tremendous challenges in restructuring the quota system to get greater representation. We
are becoming more dominant. The world becomes more multipolar. There's increasing
significance of emerging markets in contributing to global growth, so we want to have a
greater choice and be part of the international decision-making process. When that is not
happening, this is what happens. International organisations, like the World Bank and IMF,
should leverage on these organisations and work collaboratively rather than looking at it as a
threat.

Bankers cause financial crisis. Do you agree?

Well, not necessarily. In some cases, it was because part of a financial system, especially in
the US, was not actually regulated - investment banking, and so on. The environment has
also changed significantly that the crisis starts in the financial market and it can be
addressed at that point in time to manage the stresses and dysfunctionalities that occurred
in the financial market because from the financial market it translates into massive losses to
the financial institutions, then you have financial stress and economic crisis that follows.
I don't think you can put the blame on anyone in particular because equally important is the
regulator that provides the oversight. We should see the oncoming nature of the
developments that are taking place. I believe in intervention. We have a very interventionist
supervisory oversight. The central bank of Malaysia doesn't believe in the light touch
approach because sometimes the market gets over exuberance and this need to be
contained. It's very difficult to take away the punch bowl when the party is going, but it's the
role of the regulator to tamper these kinds of trends. It's not very popular but the price for it
later on is much, much higher. It's very damaging and can be very devastating to a country.

What do you think the relationship between the central bank and its government
should be?

That is always a challenging relationship. It has to be a continuous relationship of
engagement. The central bank wants to have its independence and that is very important. It
is in the interest of the government to have an independent central bank because the central
bank will be at the forefront of any crises and crisis is all about managing confidence. When
you lose confidence, it can be very highly destabilising, far more destabilising than the factor
that triggers the crisis. So having an independent central bank that had a high degree of
credibility is very important.

What is important is the central bank had to keep the government informed of what it is
doing because most governments do not like surprises and neither do markets. This
relationship has to be managed well. Differences exist because there's lack of awareness
and understanding of the issues. The issues going forward have become far more complex.
The central bank can never on its own manage a financial crisis, but has to manage it
collectively, not only with Finance Ministry but with other ministries and agencies.

Does the Malaysian government ever tell you what or what not to do?

No. There's a degree of respect. There are differences in views on how certain matters are to be addressed, but these differences are resolved bilaterally, not done over the media or in the market. This is the constructive way to do it.

Was the financial crisis back in 1998 the most difficult time for you as a central banker?

Reflecting now, the most challenging time for me was probably the financial crisis. The reason is that in such an environment, if the wrong decision was made or there was inaction, the cost of it would be so high and would be high for all people living in the country. The cost would be devastating. The stakes are very high.
The second reason why it was so challenging is that the central bank, which is at the forefront of any financial crises, you cannot resolve the crisis on your own. You have to rely on others that have very important roles and therefore it is the collective effort, but any form of collaboration when there's very diverse views and interests, it's highly challenging. When the crisis reached its peak, it was a moment in history where it could go one way or the other. That was the most challenging time that I've experienced.

Is there any chance we will ever see a financial crisis like 1997-1998's again?

Well, that is unpredictable. Recently I gave a paper on "Managing financial crisis in an interconnected world" and the subheading was "Anticipating the next mega tidal wave". This is because crises are bound to happen again and again. Over the recent 30 years, there've been more than a hundred crises around the world. Some have greater spillover effects than others. Therefore, what is important is we have the capability in managing such crisis. If we are best able to manage such crisis, we can minimise its impact on us, whether it's generated within our own financial system, or it's a spillover effect from another part of the world.
This capability has to be in-built. Most central banks have business continuity teams that can manage disruptions but we also need a crisis management team that can coordinate any eventualities of a crisis. I do believe that's the way forward. I do not think we can prevent crisis from happening.


This exclusive interview was aired on Nation TV's "Mong Rao Mong Lok" programme on 8 August 2014 at 6.30pm, (Digital TV Channel 22 or Satellite TV Channel 32).

Monday, 4 August 2014

Putrajaya salah strategi isu kenaikan tol Tambak Johor

Oleh: YB Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed

Dalam kemeriahan umat Islam menyambut Aidilfitri pada saat kenaikan harga barangan serta kos sara hidup yang semakin meningkat, rakyat Malaysia di kawasan Johor selatan dikejutkan dengan kenaikan tol di Tambak Johor lebih 400%, berkuatkuasa Jumaat lalu.

Kenaikan tol itu yang diumumkan Lembaga Lebuhraya Malaysia (LLM) dua hari sebelum Aidilfitri mengundang pelbagai reaksi segenap lapisan masyarakat di Johor khususnya di kawasan Johor selatan atau lebih tepat lagi Johor Baru.

Saya selaku ahli Parlimen Pulai mengeluarkan kenyataan media sebaik mendapat makluman mengenai kenaikan kadar tol berkenaan menuntut supaya kerajaan mengkaji semula kenaikan tol itu kerana ia jelas akan membebankan rakyat Malaysia yang bekerja di Singapura yang sebelum ini, sudah terjejas dengan kenaikan Permit Kemasukan Kenderaan (VEP) oleh Singapura.

Namun tanpa disangka, kenaikan tol di Tambak Johor dan Lebuhraya Penyuraian Timur (EDL) bertukar menjadi  isu perkauman kerana ia dilihat lebih terkesan kepada masyarakat Cina yang lebih ramai bekerja di Singapura berbanding kaum lain termasuk orang Melayu.
Sebagai ahli Parlimen untuk semua kaum, saya berpendapat keputusan kerajaan menaikkan kadar tol berkenaan tanpa mengadakan rundingan dengan pihak berkepentingan termasuk saya sendiri selaku ahli Parlimen amat tidak menggambarkan konsep 'rakyat didahulukan'.

Isu kenaikan kadar tol ini, jelas dipolitikkan begitu meluas di media sosial dengan pelbagai pihak mempunyai pandangan masing-masing termasuk memberikan gambaran ia adalah reaksi emosi kerajaan Malaysia terhadap kenaikan VEP Singapura. Malah, saya sendiri 'dihentam' bloggers pro BN yang menggambarkan kenyataan saya seperti ahli Parlimen dari Singapura serta tidak menyokong keputusan kerajaan menaikkan kadar tol berkenaan.

Memang benar, hujah beberapa pihak mengenai kesetiaan rakyat Malaysia yang memilih untuk menjadi Pemastautin Tetap (PR) Singapura dan memilih untuk terus tinggal di Johor serta memandu kenderaan negara seberang tambak berkenaan.

Tetapi selaku ahli Parlimen di kawasan Johor selatan, saya perlu bersikap adil dengan pengundi Parlimen Pulai yang bekerja di Singapura yang jelas terbeban serta terkesan dengan kenaikan kadar tol berkenaan.

Bagi mereka keputusan kerajaan itu langsung tidak adil serta tidak memahami keperitan mereka perlu berulang alik ke Singapura demi mencari rezeki yang kemudian dibawa balik semula ke Johor sekali gus meningkatkan ekonomi negeri. Mereka ini, tidak mempunyai pilihan kerana perlu bekerja di negara seberang Tambak berikutan kadar upah lebih tinggi serta peluang pekerjaan lebih baik yang tidak didapati di Johor.

Kenaikan kadar tol berkenaan yang kemudian akan disusuli dengan VEP oleh Malaysia tidak lama lagi, jelas memberikan kesan besar terhadap perbelanjaan seharian mereka dan mungkin menyebabkan mereka terpaksa mengurangkan perbelanjaan 'mewah' di Johor.

Ia akan mengakibatkan rantaian ekonomi Johor terganggu terutama sekali peniaga kedai makanan serta runcit yang amat bergantung kepada kuasa membeli rakyat Malaysia yang bekerja di Singapura.

Pada masa sama, saya juga tidak mahu tindakan kerajaan menaikkan kadar tol selain pengenalan VEP untuk kenderaan asing dilihat sebagai 'tit for tat' daripada Malaysia disebabkan tindakan Singapura.

Malah, tindakan membebankan sama ada daripada kerajaan Singapura dan Malaysia sudah pasti memberikan kesan besar kepada rakyat kedua-dua negara yang mempunyai pertalian kuat serta bergantung bukan saja daripada ekonomi malah juga sosial.

Berikutan tindakan kerajaan menaikkan kadar tol Jumaat lalu, Pihak Berkuasa Pengangkutan Darat (LAT) kemudian mengeluarkan kenyataan tidak menolak kemungkinan akan menaikkan juga kadar tol di Kompleks Kastam, Imigresen dan Kuarantin (CIQ) Woodlands.

Sampai bila sikap berbalas-balas seperti ini, akan berakhir?

Rakyat perlu dimaklumkan terlebih dulu mengenai kemungkinan berlaku kenaikan kadar tol bagi membolehkan mereka bersedia dan menyesuaikan diri terutama sekali daripada segi perbelanjaan.

Kini, apa yang dapat dilihat adalah tindakan kerajaan menaikkan kadar tol berkenaan bukan disebabkan dasar tetapi lebih kepada emosi selain timbul 1001 persoalan mengenai status EDL itu sendiri.

Ini kerana EDL pada asalnya, dibina sebuah syarikat swasta kemudian diambil alih kerajaan selepas wujud desakan masyarakat setempat supaya lebuh raya berkenaan dikecualikan tol, tetapi kini kerajaan mengumumkan pula kenaikan tol di Tambak Johor dengan alasan pengguna lalu lintas ke Singapura menikmati infrastruktur yang lebih baik.

Infrastruktur apakah yang dimaksudkan itu? Adakah ia EDL? Atau CIQ BSI? Di sinilah timbul pelbagai persoalan di kalangan rakyat Johor Baru yang semakin pelik dengan tindakan kerajaan dilihat cuba menyembunyikan sesuatu dan tidak mahu berterus terang mengenai alasan kenaikan kadar tol itu.

Sebab itu, selaku pengerusi Jawatankuasa Kira-Kira Wang Negara (PAC), saya mahu mengetahui status sebenar EDL ini, kerana pada asalnya ia bukan projek kerajaan dan tidak melalui tender kerajaan.

Jika kerajaan terus bertegas menaikkan kadar tol ini, pengecualian segera perlu diberikan kepada pengangkutan awam yang digunakan rakyat berpendapatan rendah untuk berulang alik dari Johor ke Singapura.

Disebabkan kurangnya sikap berhati-hati dalam menaikkan kadar tol ini, ia turut menyebabkan berlaku mogok bas awam yang tidak mahu membayar harga tol baru sekali gus menyusahkan rakyat jelata.

Tidak mustahil selepas ini, syarikat bas awam yang berulang dari Johor ke Singapura akan mengumumkan kenaikan harga tambang bagi menyerap kadar tol baru dan ia akan membebankan mereka yang berpendapatan rendah.

Dasar kerajaan seharusnya, melindungi kepentingan rakyat secara keseluruhan bukan tunduk kepada desakan politik kerana kerajaan perlu sedar mereka akan dinilai rakyat pada Pilihan Raya Umum (PRU).

Ketika ini, parti pembangkang khususnya, DAP dilihat menjadi pejuang kepada golongan yang terjejas akibat kenaikan kadar tol ini, dan ia sebenarnya, adalah petanda tidak baik kepada Barisan Nasional (BN) khususnya di kawasan Johor selatan.

Kita perlu sedar hakikat kawasan Johor selatan kini, mempunyai ramai pengundi masyarakat Cina yang bekerja di Singapura dan mereka sudah pasti mahu memilih parti yang memperjuangkan nasib mereka.

Sebab itu, kenaikan kadar tol ini, terus menjadi isu politik yang kemudian menjadi isu perkauman sekali gus akan memberikan imej tidak baik kepada BN dan Umno Johor kerana terus dilihat gagal membela nasib semua kaum secara inklusif seperti yang dilaungkan Datuk Seri Najib Razak selaku presiden Umno dan perdana menteri.

Jalan penyelesaian perlu diambil dengan segera dan campur tangan pantas Putrajaya amat perlu bagi menyelesaikan isu kenaikan kadar tol ini, kerana rakyat akar umbi tidak mahu menerima alasan lemah yang diberikan kerajaan.

Alasan kenaikan disebabkan infrastruktur yang lebih baik serta mengawal jumlah kenderaan masuk ke Johor amat tidak boleh diterima dan lemah menyebabkan ia mudah dipolitikkan.

Ini disebabkan walaupun mempunyai EDL dan CIQ baru, semua mengetahui mengenai kesesakan lalu lintas yang terus terpaksa dihadapi untuk memasuki Johor melalui Tambak Johor.

Selain itu, kerajaan juga perlu mempertimbangkan mengenai pertumbuhan Iskandar Malaysia dan adalah sesuatu yang memelikkan kerana tidak ada kenyataan daripada Pihak Berkuasa Iskandar Malaysia (Irda) mengenai kenaikan kadar tol ini, sama ada ia akan menjejaskan pelaburan dari Singapura ke wilayah ekonomi ini.

Justeru sudah pasti akan wujud kesan terhadap kenaikan kadar tol ini, terutama sekali rakyat Singapura yang berulang alik ke Johor sama ada yang menetap atau bekerja di Iskandar Malaysia.

Terus terang saya nyatakan rakyat Singapura yang masuk ke Johor Baru tidak akan merasai kesan kenaikan kadar tol ini, kerana menikmati tukaran mata wang yang tinggi selain perlu untuk keluar dari republik berkenaan.

Yang paling teruk terjejas adalah rakyat Malaysia yang bekerja di Singapura demi mencari rezeki lebih baik di negara berkenaan disebabkan kurangnya peluang pekerjaan di Johor itu sendiri.

Kerajaan sedar kejayaan Iskandar Malaysia amat bergantung kepada pelaburan dari Singapura dan atas sebab itu, saya dimaklumkan mengenai adanya 'arahan' kerajan Singapura kepada media negara itu, untuk tidak menghentam Iskandar Malaysia dan kepimpinan Najib.

'Endorsement' Singapura terhadap Iskandar Malaysia amat perlu dalam menarik pelabur asing ke wilayah pembangunan ekonomi ini, dan andai kata pelabur dan rakyat negara itu, sudah mula bercakap mengenai keburukan dan kelemahan Malaysia dan Johor khususnya, pertumbuhan Iskandar Malaysia pasti akan terjejas.

Atas sebab itu, suatu tindakan segera amat perlu diambil dalam menangani kenaikan kadar tol ini, kerana bagi saya selain ia melarat menjadi isu politik dan perkauman, masa depan Iskandar Malaysia juga perlu diambil kira.

Putrajaya perlu sedar mereka tidak seharusnya tunduk kepada desakan politik termasuk daripada Umno sendiri, dalam isu kenaikan kadar tol ini, yang menjadi keutamaan adalah rakyat yang sudah pasti bukan saja orang Melayu tetapi juga kaum lain.

Ingin saya tegaskan selaku ahli Parlimen Pulai yang terletak dalam kawasan Johor selatan, saya tidak bersetuju dengan kenaikan kadar tol ini, kerana implikasinya adalah penduduk Johor sendiri yang bekerja di Singapura terutama sekali pengundi dalam Parlimen Pulai.

Bagaimanapun, saya bukanlah mahu menolak terus kenaikan kadar tol ini, jika alasan menaikkan kadar tol ini disebabkan dasar berikutan inflasi selain ia tidak pernah dinaikkan sejak mula dilaksanakan.

Tetapi kenaikannya terlalu mendadak hingga kadarnya lebih tinggi daripada kadar inflasi sehingga timbul persepsi lebihan hasil tol berkenaan digunakan bagi menampung kos EDL.

Rakyat kini sudah cerdik dan perdana menteri sendiri menyatakan zaman kerajaan mengetahui segalanya sudah berakhir, jadi penjelasan telus perlu diberikan dan walaupun pahit, saya percaya rakyat boleh menerimanya bukan dengan alasan yang lemah seakan mahu membodohkan rakyat.

Tidak ada gunanya selepas ini, jika Iskandar Malaysia mempunyai segala macam kekayaan tetapi wakil rakyatnya terdiri daripada parti pembangkang seperti yang berlaku di Kuala Lumpur.

Jika Putrajaya tidak berhati-hati menangani kenaikan kadar tol ini, segala usaha Almarhum Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, perdana menteri Malaysia kedua untuk menguatkan perpaduan antara kaum di kawasan bandar selepas berlakunya tragedi hitam 13 Mei akan sia-sia kerana isu ini, sudah pasti bertukar menjadi isu perkauman di kawasan Johor selatan. – 4 Ogos, 2014.

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Iklan Raya 2014

My top 5 Aidilfitri commercials for this year are as follows:

TNB -Senantiasa Bersamamu

Nissan -Atuk


TVALHIJRAH - Kemuliaan Syawal

RTM - Ini Baru Raya

Friday, 1 August 2014

Malacca High School to stay put

JASON GERALD JOHN AND KELLY KOH news@nstp.com.my

ALOR GAJAH: THE oldest school in the state, Malacca High School, will not be relocated as it is part of Malacca’s heritage, said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron. He said the school would be given a facelift.

When Malacca was listed as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (Unesco) World Heritage Site on July 7, 2008, the school was included as part of the state’s heritage.

“As the school is located in the buffer zone of the Unesco World Heritage Site, there are no plans to develop the area, but only to upgrade and maintain it.”

Idris said the proposed relocation was made a long time ago, prior to it being recognised as a World Heritage Site.

“Under my administration, we have no plans to develop the area, other than to upgrade all buildings in the heritage zone.”

He said this at the Hari Raya open house of Umno executive secretary, Datuk Ab Rauf Yusoh, in Kampung Pulau in Alor Gajah here yesterday.

Yesterday, the New Straits Times reported that state Education, Higher Education, Science, Technology, Green Technology and Innovations Committee chairman Datuk Md Yunos Husin had said there was a need to relocate Malacca High School to ease traffic congestion in the state. He said the state government was identifying alternative sites.

Various parties, especially students and teachers, had objected to the proposal, based on a letter dated June 30 from the Education Ministry’s Planning and Policy Research Division.

This is the second time in 20 years that the state government had proposed the relocation of the country’s second oldest school.

The school, established in 1826, was known as Malacca Free School and changed to its present name in 1878.

The first attempt, in 1993, to move the school out of Bandar Hilir, together with two schools — St Francis Institution and the Sacred Heart Convent — failed after meeting strong opposition from students and the schools’ alumni.

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Outcry over bid to relocate school

KELLY KOH kelly.koh@nst.com.my

MALACCA: A STORM is brewing in the state following a plan by the state administration to relocate the historical city’s oldest school, the Malacca High School or SMK Tinggi Melaka.

This is the second time in over 20 years that the state government had proposed for the relocation of the country’s second oldest school, established in 1826.

The first attempt in 1993 to move the school out of Bandar Hilir, together with two other schools — St Francis Institution and the Sacred Heart Convent — failed after strong opposition from the students and the schools’ alumni.

State Education, Higher Education, Science, Technology, Green Technology, and Innovations Committee chairman, Datuk Md Yunos Husin said there was a need to relocate Malacca High School to ease the traffic congestion in the state.

“This is to provide a better traffic flow. The school, located in the city centre, is densely packed with people and vehicles, causing major traffic crawls.”

He said the state government was in the midst of identifying suitable alternative sites.

“What is certain is that we will find a site suitable for the students and motorists,” he said.

The state government, however, must first get feedback from the school’s management, alumni and Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) before the plan can proceed.

On July 17, the Education Ministry’s Planning and Policy Research Division had urged the State Education Department to seek the consent of the school’s management, alumni and PTA on the proposed relocation plan.

Various parties, especially students and teachers, had objected.

The school’s chemistry teacher, Lim Ming Hui who has been
attached to the school for 24 years said, she was confident that
the relocation would not materialise.

The school, she said, was a part of the state’s history and was in the Unesco World Heritage site buffer zone.

“The school is something very precious to us. There is no way we will allow the school to be relocated elsewhere.

“We also have several powerful figures from the Malacca High School Old Boys Association who strongly oppose this,” she said.

A member of the school’s alumni, Joeal Lim Guan Chin, 24, expressed his disappointment at the idea of a relocation.

“This is not good because the school itself is part of the state’s history; it should not simply be moved for the sake of development.”

MHS, the second oldest Government English school in the country, was first known as Malacca Free School, and changed to its present name in 1878.

Friday, 18 July 2014

Breaking news: MH17 was shot down

My condolences to the families and friends of MH17 passengers and crews that boarded on the ill-fated plane.

I strongly condemn the uncivilised act by those responsible in downing the Malaysia Airlines flight at the area near Ukraine and Russia border.