Saturday, November 22, 2014

When a President flies on economy class...

Never heard of a world leader - presidents and prime ministers alike - took to the sky on economy class when they should observe protocols and 'allowed' to leverage on such positions.

They usually fly on first or executive class or on private jets, and when they try to set the 'precedent' by doing the otherwise, it draws praise and criticism at the same time.

However, Indonesia's new president Joko Widodo couldn't care less about that! He caused a stir this weekend by opting to fly economy class to watch his son's high school graduation in Singapore.

Skipping the usual heavy security protocol for heads of state, Widodo and his wife Iriana queued for check-in at Jakarta airport like ordinary passengers before taking their economy seats.

Widodo is known for his common touch, and his family have maintained a modest lifestyle since he became leader of Southeast Asia's biggest economy last month.

The presence of the president, known by his nickname Jokowi, caused a buzz at Jakarta's airport as passengers shouted and clamoured to shake his hand, with some taking selfies on their phones. Some, though, thought it was a publicity stunt.
"Why should he go through the metal detector, join the queue, etc? Sir, stop polishing your image, just act natural," Rangga Aditya commented on news portal
Harry Azet tweeted: "Living a fake life is difficult: Jokowi went to Singapore flying economy but slept in an expensive hotel."
Widodo stayed in a five-star hotel on Orchard Road, Singapore's shopping mecca, an Indonesian embassy spokesman in Singapore told AFP.
But his choice to fly economy also won widespread praise, with many urging other government officials to follow suit.
"Jokowi sets a good example by flying economy. Hopefully other officials can follow in his footsteps," tweeted Anita Tobing.
Widodo said he did not use the presidential private jet or the VIP terminal because he was travelling for personal reasons.
"I am going for family matters, a private agenda, not a state visit -- so why should I use the facility?" Widodo told reporters.
The president and his wife were in Singapore to see their youngest son, 19-year-old Kaesang Pangarep, graduate from the Anglo-Chinese International School on Friday evening. The couple have two other children.

Widodo had breakfast with Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong before flying back to Jakarta on Saturday morning.

I personally like his style.

While our own leaders choose to retain their executive image - including in attending to private matters - Widodo is different! However, he must not go down too low!

Friday, November 21, 2014

AisAsia X flying low

Long-haul budget carrier AirAsia X Bhd will defer delivery of new Airbus jetliners for at least two years, AirAsia group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes said,as the airline tries to recover from nine months of sustained losses.

Fernandes said part of their turnaround plan for the airline was to slow down capacity building after four years of rapid expansion, but stressed that the Airbus deal is still on track.

“We are just deferring the plane deliveries. Just like with AirAsia, we are waiting for the Airbus neo,” he told a news conference, referring to Airbus’s new line of aircrafts that was earlier ordered by AirAsia X’s sister airline, AirAsia.
AirAsia had in mid-2011 placed a firm order of 200 units of the Airbus A320neo, which incorporates new engines and large wingtip devices called sharklets that claim to offer 15 per cent fuel savings and additional range of 500 nautical miles or 950 kilometres, according to the Airbus website.
AirAsia X had in December 2013 placed what was reportedly the world’s largest single order in a single purchase agreement of 25 Airbus A330-300 widebody jetliners worth US$6 billion (RM19.2 billion).

The Financial Times reported last July, however, that AirAsia X had cut a US$14 billion (RM47.2 billion) deal with Airbus to buy 50 units of the revamped A330, dubbed the A330neo which incorporates similar technology as the A320 narrowbody variant.
Yesterday, AirAsia X posted pre-tax losses of RM224.45 million in its third quarter ended September 30, 2014, from RM18.94 million in the same period last year.
This was despite a higher revenue of RM698.76 million in the quarter compared to RM601.49 million over the same period last year, it said in a filing on Bursa Malaysia, the Malay name for the Malaysian bourse.
Apart from the deferment of new plane deliveries, Fernandes said today that they are working on consolidating several departments between AirAsia and AirAsia X where they do not see the need for additional headcount, and also hinted at the possibility of rationalising some routes in Australia and other areas which posted losses.

He denied earlier reports claiming that there will be a management shake-up, stressing that the existing management team under chief executive officer Azran Osman Rani’s stewardship will remain, albeit with Fernandes and AirAsia Deputy Group chief executive director Datuk Kamarudin Meranun lending an “added hand”.

Despite the poor Q3 performance, Fernandes noted that they are already seeing AirAsia X’s flight yield “improving quite quickly”, and was confident the airline will bounce back to profitability possibly as early as Q4 of this year largely due to the dip in global oil prices, which settled at US$74.58 per barrel yesterday.

He admitted that the entire aviation industry suffered from the twin disasters involving Malaysia Airlines flights MH370 and MH17 this year, but stressed that AirAsia X’s future lies squarely on its own shoulders.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Alamak! Mind your reporting!

Not worth to mention the publisher of this story. Even if its reporters produce rubbish, the story will appear prominence, with a byline and an intention to undermine and badmouth the government (in the most stupid manner!)

That's the standard of Malaysian journalism (especially those who work for the opposition dailies and news portals) nowadays.

I just wanna name the reporter/writer of this piece - Selena Tay. Well, you know who's her boss and the company she works for.

Her spin about RON95, RON95 and 1MDB made me shudder! To her (and her news editor and editor), the fuel price - whether it goes up or down - has always something to do with 1Malaysia Development Board (1MDB).

If not 1MDB, I think they will try to link it to Rosmah Mansor or Tabung Haji.
It is high time the government's attention shifted to the current economic malaise.
Certainly, there is a slowdown in domestic consumption as a result of the price hike in RON95 on Oct 2 and the situation will definitely deteriorate after the Goods & Services Tax (GST) implementation on 1st April 2015, followed by the hike in petrol price and electricity tariff two months later. The government appears to be extremely stubborn about this RON 95 issue by not lowering the pump price.
This writer interviewed ten people in KL working in the banking sector and asked for their views regarding the RON95 price.

All of them linked the RON95 price to 1MDB ( believe she set the question for them).
They felt that the government is sticking to the pump price of RM2.30 per litre in order to obtain money from the rakyat due to 1MDB's gargantuan debt of RM41 billion.
Said a bank clerk, "The government needs the people's money to finance 1MDB, which is essentially a government project gone awry." His colleague commented, "We, the rakyat, are financing 1MDB via the petrol price as 1MDB is already in hot soup."
Here is another 'comment':
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has mentioned that the contingency liabilities arising from 1MDB only amount to RM5.8 billion, which means that the government only guarantees RM5.8 billion out of 1MDB's RM41 billion debt.

A bank executive, however, remarked that "contingency liabilities are a grey area in finance as they are 'government-guaranteed debt'. This means that the debt is government-financed. If the debt is too massive, the government will bail out the company and we, the citizens, will then bail out the government".

What has petrol price got to do with 1MDB? If you want to put things together, you should find the right match.

The next time you write another business-related story, you may end up saying 'Malaysia Airlines posts losses due to bigger vegetable import'!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Haiyaaaa! That also you don't know aaar!!!

A good one Ahmad Shabery Cheek. That 'naive' opposition MP needs to go back to school and learn about 'Independence Day' and 'National Day'.

What a shame for someone who claims to be Malaysian - especially an elected Member of Parliament - for not able to distinguish between the two. Was he born in Malaysia? Did he study in Malaysia or Burkina Faso?

Malu lah! Better find yourself another issue to politicise! Even a primary school kid will not ask such a question at the Dewan Rakyat!
Communication and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, Wednesday raps an opposition Member of Parliament for his shallow understanding of statehood and current issues.
The minister had corrected a statement by Lim Lip Eng (DAP-Segambut) when Lim asked the government to stress on National Day which is celebrated on Sept 16, when submitting his supplementary question, during a question-and-answer session in Dewan Rakyat. "I feel the honourable Member of Parliament does not understand what is Independence Day and National Day. I feel sad. We have Independence Day celebration and Malaysia Day celebration on Sept 16.

"Until now, there are still honourable Members of Parliament who are still confused which is Independence Day and which is Malaysia Day. It reflects the views and attitudes of members of the elected representatives from your party," Ahmad Shabery said.
Lim, in another supplementary question, asked Ahmad Shabery whether the Goods and Services Tax (GST) would be imposed on the Merdeka Day celebration next year.
The question drew criticism from Ahmad Shabery who asked Lim on how to claim GST payment from the public who wanted to take part in the celebration at Dataran Merdeka. "I feel the honourable Member of Parliament seriously lacks understanding on the issues of statehood and GST," he said."
In his original reply, Ahmad Shabery said the cost of celebrating Independence Day was RM13.9 million in 2010, RM14.1 million (2011), RM20 million (2012 and 2013) and RM17 million (2014).

He said 400,000 to 500,000 people had taken part in events held during the celebration this year while private sector sponsorship was RM10 million.

The minister refuted an allegation by Lim at the relatively lower expenditure this year, citing the government wanted to tone down the celebration following the incidents involving two Malaysia Airline aircraft in March and July.

Ahmad Shabery explained that the allocation for Independence Day celebration this year was decided last year, with no inkling the MH370 and MH17 incidents would happen.

He said the merriment of the celebration could be had without incurring additional costs from the government, for example, via contributions and the support of the private sector.

This included private theatre operators initiative since last year to play the 'Negara Ku' for the duration of the celebration.

"I find many back this matter. But it was criticised by the honourable DAP member from Kuching (Chong Chieng Jen)," he said, referring to the Twitter statement of Chong on Sept 16 which criticised the initiative as an "absolute disgrace and ridiculous".

Ahmad Shabery said the government practiced prudent spendings in celebrating important national patriotic days.

He told the Dewan Rakyat that the government would retain the tradition of celebrating several major events of Independence Day.

"For example, the parade at Dataran Merdeka, because it has its history. Dataran Merdeka is not where we hold demonstrations but it is a noble place for celebrating independence. It is among the matters which has been set," he added.

'Safe' and 'unsafe'

Tourism Minister Nazri Aziz came under attack for describing Sabah as 'not safe' for tourists. Sabahans, especially were disappointed at his statement.
An Umno lawmaker in Sabah has heavily criticised Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz for saying that the safety of tourists in the state could not be guaranteed until two recent kidnappings were resolved.
Datuk Masidi Manjun, who is the state Tourism, Culture, and Environment Minister, said his Federal counterpart’s statement threatened to undo the hard work undertaken by the Sabah tourism authorities to bring back tourists to the state.
“For him to say that he will not guarantee the safety of tourists in Lahad Datu until the two cases of kidnapping are solved does not make any logical sense.
“It is like saying he cannot guarantee the safety of passengers to travel on our national airline (Malaysia Airlines) until MH370 case is solved or that he cannot guarantee that snatch thieves will not attack tourists in Kuala Lumpur since many cases remain unsolved,” Masidi said on Tuesday.
Masidi maintained that Lahad Datu is a safe place despite Nazri’s statement that he would not personally visit the district in Sabah troubled by a hostile intrusion by Sulu gunmen last year.
However, Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar said Sabah is safe, and that tourists have nothing to worry about their safety and security in the state.
"...on Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz's remarks that Sabah is unsafe for tourists, Khalid denied the minister's allegation.
He said the coastal areas under the Eastern Sabah Safety Zone is safe, and the police have taken all necessary precautions to ensure the safety of not only tourists visiting the area, but also the community residing there.
Which is which now?

I think both have valid standpoints. For Nazri, his worry was based on the spat of kidnappings over this, whom among the victims is a Chinese national. And it has affected (a bit) the arrival of Chinese tourists to eastern Sabah (but not in Kota Kinabalu and other parts of the state).

Khalid, meanwhile is confident with the level of security in Sabah, notably in the eastern front. With new facilities and more police personnel, of course he doesn't want anybody to undermine or belittle them.

But coordination is the keyword here. When security and tourism meet, both sides have to share information as to avoid misleading statement reach the public, especially potential foreign tourists who wish to come to Sabah and Malaysia.

When two government departments clash over a 'petty issue', it only reflects the lack of info exchange and collaboration among them, and it will put the government's image in limbo.

Oh, please stop issuing irrelevant statements just for the sake of making headlines!

Say thank you!

Stop complaining, say thanks instead!
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 18 (Bernama) -- The retail price of RON97 petrol will be reduced by 20 sen a litre, from RM2.75/litre to RM2.55/litre throughout the country effective midnight tonight.
Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Ahmad Maslan confirmed the matter on his Twitter account Tuesday.
A copy of the letter to the effect sent by the Finance Ministry to Petronas Dagangan Berhad was uploaded with his Twitter posting.
The price of the fuel is determined by managed float, and depends on market forces.
Do you know that our neighbor had on Monday increased fuel price by 55 sen? And you keep accusing Barisan Nasional of not being 'a benevolent government?'

Read this:
Nov 17 (Reuters) - Indonesia's new president raised subsidised fuel prices by more than 30 percent on Monday, a move that is expected to save the government of Southeast Asia's biggest economy more than $8 billion next year.

President Joko Widodo's first major economic policy decision since taking the helm in October will help provide the necessary fiscal space to fund his reform agenda and tackle the country's twin budget and current account deficits.

"The government has decided to redirect fuel subsidies," Widodo told reporters at the presidential palace. "The country has needed a (larger) budget for infrastructure, healthcare and education but instead spent it on subsidizing fuel."

Indonesian fuel prices, among the cheapest in the world, were raised by 2,000 rupiah ($0.16) per litre, with subsidised gasoline now costing 8,500 rupiah a litre and diesel 7,500 rupiah.

The fuel price hike was welcomed by economists, but immediately sparked small protests and long queues at petrol stations in the capital.

And here is an interesting piece by the Wall Street Journal:
The negative effects of plummeting oil commodity prices has had a severe impact on Malaysia's growth prospects and government revenues, the Wall Street Journal reported today.
The heavy reliance on the export of oil, palm oil and rubber for the nation's revenue means that the decline in global prices for these commodities will hit us the hardest.
In contrast, WSJ said that other Asian economies, which are commodity importers, are set to benefit from the drop in price.
Calling Malaysia Asia’s largest oil-and-gas exporter, the US business daily said the country benefited when the price of crude oil remained over US$100 a barrel for most of last year.
Hence, the sharp decline in the oil price to US$80, and the expected further drop in price, has resulted in foreign investors withdrawing around US$2.5 billion from the country last month, WSJ quoted analysts as saying.
Malaysia's current account surplus stands at RM7.6 billion in the third quarter of this year compared with RM16 billion for the same period a year ago.

The country's oil-related revenue amounted to RM63 billion last year, which is equivalent to almost 30% of the total government revenue.

According to the WSJ, the country's woes are further compounded due to the decline in the price of rubber and palm oil – two other major exports – to new lows.

Malaysia remains the world’s second-largest producer of rubber and palm oils, making the 25% and 16% drop in both commodities, respectively, having a severe impact on revenue.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Rafizi the chicken

The absence of Pandan Member of Parliament Rafizi Ramli in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday irked Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia.

Pandikar was annoyed as the decision on Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Ahmad Maslan to be referred to the Parliament's Rights and Privileges Committee for contempt regarding his statement on 1MDB had to be deferred.

                                                Graphic by Unspinners

"When I am ready to make the ruling, Pandan (Rafizi) is not here.

"I have received the relevant documents from the finance ministry but no documents have been given to me by Rafizi since Thursday last week," Pandikar said.

He stressed that members of parliament like to highlight ministers or deputy ministers absent from the House but they themselves are also absent during important announcements or decisions made in the lower house.

He noted that over the course of six years of him being the Speaker, this was the first time that during the Question and Answer time, the lower house had reached until question 23 in the order paper. Usually question time is limited to about 10 questions during the 90-minute session.

Twelve questions went unanswered as the MPs were either absent or the relevant ministry's representatives were not present.

"I hope in the future, we can be like the New Zealand Parliament where 30 questions are answered during the session," he said.

Last week, Rafizi had tabled a motion to cite Ahmad Maslan to the Rights and Privileges Committee for allegedly misleading the house over a letter of support (LOS) pertaining to 1MDB's RM9.6bil bond.