While all focus is on higher oil prices, not enough attention has been given to higher food prices. Now, it has been suggested that the higher prices of food (and fuel) are being driven by extraordinary speculation in commodities by index-linked speculators. These speculators are said to be exploiting a “swaps-loophole” in US banking regulations, which allow certain huge investment banks to act as intermediaries and dealers in entering into index-linked futures contracts, which are quite unlike the normal futures hedging, where positions are regularly unwound. So how do we tackle higher food prices? Food security and self-sufficiency will help. There is no reason why each state in the federation cannot be self-sufficient in fruit and vegetables. We have fertile soil and a favourable climate. For instance, Penang once had thriving vegetable farms on the island; now a lot of our veg comes from Cameron Highlands. Penang still has fruit [Read more]
Three issues I would like to raise: Petronas hospital – undermining the public health care system Why is Petronas setting up a private hospital – the Price Court Medical Centre? I don’t supposed they named it after its pricey price tag of RM544 million… In the first place, what expertise does Petronas have in health care? Why is it jumping on the health care and medical tourism bandwagon? Shouldn’t it be supporting our government hospitals, which are badly underfunded and understaffed? By setting up a new hospital, wouldn’t it be encouraging more doctors to leave the government hospitals?
Phew, it’s been an eventful week – but as they say, you ain’t seen nothing yet! The way I see it, Abdullah is fighting a rear-guard battle to save himself – and the ruling coalition. Let’s see what his administration has been doing to try and keep the rakyat happy: dishing out rebates to ease pain of subsidy removal (the pain is still there-lah) approval for Parti Sosialis Malaysia’s application for registration (finally!) allowing Harakah to increase its frequency to twice a week (Take that, Mahathir! The former PM had cut it down to twice a month after doing badly in the 1999 general election.) planning to launch a crackdown on migrants in Sabah (uh-oh, more human rights abuses?) lifting restrictions on journalists in the parliamentary lobby (talk about the BN shooting itself in the foot, in the first place, by restricting its own media!) shutting down Kamunting Detention Camp [Read more]
I walked into a petrol station along a busy road in Penang last night and engaged in some small talk with the cashier. I asked him what kind of impact the petrol price hike has had on his collection. “In ringgit terms, it has gone up,” he replied. “But in terms of litres sold, there has been a drop.” Hmm, so there has been a drop in consumption, at least at this station, I thought to myself.
So the man who established Umno Baru in 1988 quits the party he founded in a huff. Now this comes just a few days after he and a string of his cronies were accused of involvement in the fixing of appointments of judges. Over the last few months, Mahathir has watched from the sidelines as his house of cards, built over 22 years, came tumbling down. All that waste and corruption and cronyism and superficial nation building during his administration finally came home to roost. The last straw was probably the release of the findings of the royal commission report on the Lingam Tape. When I sent the news to a friend that Mahathir was leaving Umno, I received the following message in response: “And form Umno Baru Baru?” Another friend joked, in a text message: “He is joining PKR ” Later he sent another message: “You know Umno is [Read more]
When discussing the RM1.5 billion PGCC scandal along with the scandalous rezoning from “recreational” land to “new development”, we cannot afford to ignore what was going on in Batu Kawan, which is closely connected to the PGCC saga. The PGCC and Batu Kawan deals reveal some highly questionable circumstances. During a meeting between Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and activists a couple of days ago, I suggested to the Chief Minister that the state government initiates an in-depth probe to uncover the business-political connections in the PGCC-Batu Kawan deals while thoroughly examining the re-zoning of the Batu Gantung land. For there is more to these deals than meets the eye. It is important to recall that Abad Naluri did not actually own the Batu Kawan site in 2002 when it submitted its tender to the Penang Turf Club. After all, the principal or master agreement for the acquisition of the [Read more]
9.00pm – Five of the activists are released. But Suaram’s Teh Chun Hong and Lau Shu Shi, who is also Penang coordinator of the Abolish ISA Movement (GMI), are still being held. Shu Shi in particular has been actively involved in organising a number of well-attended forums after the 8 March general election. Both are expected to be produced in court in Penang tomorrow morning for possible extension of remand. This reflects badly on the BN federal government’s stance on basic rights and is not likely to win it new friends. Malaysians are not going to be impressed. 7.00pm – Blog reader Kah Seng reports: MP Liew Chin Tong (Tg Bungah, Bukit Bendera, DAP) was reported there in the afternoon. You reported PKR DUN Ravi was also there. I was a busy body there from 5pm to 7pm. The police handling was very slow. Went in afternoon, and still taking [Read more]
Some people are making big bucks from the higher prices of food, including rice. But not the farmers. The Star (8 May) carried this tiny report on page 32 – it should have been front page headlines, Chun Wai! – telling of how over 2,000 rice farmers in the country’s “rice bowl” state of Kedah are now threatening to turn to oil palm cultivation because of the low price they are getting for their padi. And who can blame them? Many of them are just hovering around the poverty line. The farmers want the padi price to be raised from the current ceiling of 65 sen/kg to RM1/kg. They complain that they have to sell their padi cheap, cheap but when they buy rice, the price is between RM2.20-2.80/kg. Where got meaning? (There’s no ceiling price for rice.) “Farmers have to absorb the escalating costs of fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides and [Read more]
Severn Cullis-Suzuki, then 12, addresses the Earth Summit in Rio De Janeiro in 1992: [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZsDliXzyAY&hl=en&rel=0] To all those greedy and wasteful people (and their corporations) who are destroying the environment, think of your children and your families and what kind of world you will leave behind for them. Who is she? According to Wikipedia: Severn Cullis-Suzuki (born 1979) is an environmental activist, speaker, television host and author. Born to writer Tara Elizabeth Cullis and Canadian geneticist and environmental activist David Suzuki, Cullis-Suzuki received a B.Sc. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Yale University in 2002. She has spoken around the world about environmental issues, urging listeners to define their values, act with the future in mind, and take individual responsibility. In 1992, at the age of 12, Cullis-Suzuki raised money with members of ECO, the Environmental Childrens Organization (a group she founded) to attend the Earth Summit in Rio De [Read more]
I am not alone in expressing reservations about the proliferation of CCTV cameras as the solution to crime prevention. A couple of friends have just sent me a few links. UK is CCTV capital It is estimated that there are some 4.2 million Closed Circuit TV (CCTV) cameras in Britain, one for every 14 people. An individual might be captured by more than 300 separate cameras on an average day. Such all-pervasive video surveillance, combined with the ability to exploit the information contained in numerous government and private databases, enables the almost seamless monitoring of the population. The list of places monitored by CCTV is endless. Most of Britains urban centres are under surveillance, as are motorways, hospitals, schools, banks, museums, shopping malls, sports facilities and travel hubs such as railway stations and airports. CCTV cameras are operated by the police, the security services, various national and local government agencies [Read more]