During the weekend I felt a little under the weather. The obvious thing to do is to read the Sunday newspaper cover to cover. Hardly eight pages through, the weather in me became hazy and later it began to rain cats and dogs.
I really got confused...
Case No. 1
At page four - At Sunnyland, California, it is reported that the US State Department updated Malaysian officials (attending the US-Asean Summit) on Chinese movements and US operations in the South China Sea area.
Flashback, about two years ago, we lost an airliner and rescue efforts concentrated around this area for about a week. My thoughts... were there US operations at this area around that time? If yes, were we ‘updated’ on the whereabouts of flight MH370? If we have not been updated, can we politely ask for it now?
Come rain or shine, you need and depend on someone to be there no matter what or whatever the weather and not a fair-weather friend.
Case No. 2
At page 5 - a minister expects trade performance to improve this year in view of high trade figures towards end of last year.
I guess he may not have read that prices of our export commodities have been falling and the world economic outlook is less favourable and so is our growth forecast. The Nikkei Malaysia Manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), remained weak at 48.6 in January. Manufacturing has a large influence in the country's economy, accounting for over 40% of the GDP and it is slowing down. Maybe he has a crystal ball...
We should not have our heads in the clouds.
Case No. 3
Also at page 5 - the Single Pricing Policy (SPP) is expected to be implemented in a few months. This came about following complaints over price confusion and some consumers paying more than what was displayed or advertised.
The question here is why does the ministry has to wait for complaints? Can’t it be pro-active as it has this so-called National Consumer Policy (NCP) aimed at consumer welfare, particularly the aspects of consumer protection? There was a case a few years ago, the Federal Court in Melbourne imposed a penalty of $200,000 against an airline for contravening the single pricing provision of the Australian Consumer Law.
It should be a breeze to implement this policy and I hope they do not put it on ice.
Case No. 4
Also at page 5 - the decision to bring in 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers were requests made by employers. The government is only giving in to market and employer demands.
However, the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) said that they did not need the 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers. The minister confirmed FMM did not request for foreign workers but its members had applied to the Human Resource Ministry, Immigration Department and Home Ministry.
The government had long ago asked the rakyat to go to proper channels if they have issues/problems. Could this be a precedent and a departure from that stand? Is it acceptable for members of an organisation now to ignore their organisation and do not go to proper channels? Having said that I must take my hat off to the government of the day for really listening and giving in to the demands of some industry players.
One concern from employers, as in previous G-to-G arrangement is the involvement of unnecessary third party service providers. There were allegations of fraudulent and irregularities by private recruiters in both the countries.
There is no need for me to comment on statements saying our youth refusing to do dirty, dangerous and demeaning (or difficult) jobs. By the way, this neologism is of Japanese origin (3K – Kitanai, kiken, kitsui). The MTUC has given a valid response. What I am worried is our leaders making sweeping statements without checking facts and looking at issues holistically.
As for the planners, please be reminded by the statement from the Malaysian Employers Federation that the current number of foreign workers has exceeded what was targeted under the 11th Malaysia Plan.
Meantime, this decision will surely have some effects in reshaping social patterns.
Please don’t throw caution to the wind and forget all responsibilities or commitments or a storm will be brewing.
Case No. 5
At page 6 - Malaysia needs to cut the number of casualties in traffic accidents by half as it goes down the road to becoming a developed nation by 2020.
My question is, are we still talking about developed nation status by 2020 or only a high-income nation? If it is the former, how much have we achieved or fulfill as per the aspirations in the Way Forward (Vision 2020) paper?
Are we chasing rainbow here?
Case No. 6
Also at page 6 - Higher fines won’t reduce road accidents, says MIROS
This is a reponse to a proposal to raise the maximum fine for traffic offences as part of initiatives to reduce accident rate. Thank God we have a sensible minister who will further study the situation in the Cabinet Committee to further reduce accidents.
What I like is the statement from MIROS stating that Malaysia may have good traffic laws but the enforcement is poor and needs to be strengthened. Isn’t this statement familiar?
I guess there is a ray of hope here.
Case No. 7
At page 8 - A minister said, English proficiency among Malaysian students is at a “high level” and soaring.
Just a few months earlier, Universiti Malaya lecturer Assoc Prof Dr Sharmini Patricia Gabriel said ‘Lecturers found they could not teach at the level they used to. We find that we are not able to teach students critically and creatively like we used to as their command of English is limited. I have been lecturing since 1990 and I definitely see students coming in with lower proficiency.’
So whose words would you take?
I will be on cloud nine and extremely happy if what the minister say is true.
I can carry on but it is wise to stop here.
The above cases are not storm in a teacup. I think we are snowed under, having so much to do that we are having trouble doing it all. Well, every cloud has a silver lining and I pray that something positive will come out of all these cloudy situations.
Don't worry about me, I'm as right as rain while drafting this article.