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Will subsidy cuts hurt the poor?

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Apart from worrying about the effects of cuts in subsidies, the lower-income group and even the middle-class are feeling the effects of a sharp rise in fruit and vegetable prices, especially over the last quarter.

While Najib waxes eloquent about the New Economic Model, low-income Malaysians are struggling to balance their budgets. Fruit and vegetables that used to cost RM60 a few months ago now cost around RM90. If you paid RM25 for a basket of vegetables a few months ago, you probably would have to fork out around RM45 now.

Of course, Cabinet Ministers won’t feel the pinch from higher food prices and cuts in subsidies. But ordinary workers will, as their wages struggle to keep pace with the rising cost of living. (As an aside, we desperately need a move towards organic agriculture to make us more self-sufficient in healthy pesticide-free natural food.)

Here’s something I wrote for IPS:

The government’s proposal to remove and rationalise subsidies on essential goods and services continues to provoke a storm of criticism from ordinary Malaysians.

Parliament-to-Putrajaya flip-flop?

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Is the relocation of Parliament to Putrajaya going to be another case of flip-flop, after the sports betting fiasco?

In his written parliamentary reply to Sim Tong Him (DAP-Kota Melaka), Nazri  said the relocation was decided by the cabinet recently.

But according to Malaysiakini, Nazri later clarified to the press that the matter was still being mulled over by Cabinet. “It’s not decided yet… We will bring it to the Cabinet to be discussed,” he said.

Not again! Flip-flop – or testing the waters?

Even Khairy disagrees with the RM800 million plan.

Saiful – The chronology (updated)

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Updated to include dates of Anwar taking refuge in the Turkish embassy, his arrest and forced medical checks in Hospital KL and the Permatang Pauh by-election. All very fascinating.

I was getting a bit confused and mixed up with all the dates and times and the sequence of events in the Anwar trial.

So I thought it would be best to come up with a chronology of events gleaned from publicly available information especially news reports of the witness testimony at the trial, Saiful’s blog, etc.

Dec 2007/Jan 2008

Saiful, a former student leader at Uniten, meets Najib’s special officer at Najib’s office to get a letter of support for training as a pilot.

Berjaya told Bursa licence approved…

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… “upon certain terms and conditions”. The government is now saying that it has not yet decided on the sports betting licence for Ascot.

Berjaya Corp made an announcement to Bursa on 12 May 2010. Look at Item 2.2 under background to Ascot: “The Minister of Finance has given its approval for the re-issuance to Ascot of the licence to carry out sports betting operations upon certain terms and conditions.”

But under item 8, “approvals required”, it states: The Proposals are conditional upon approvals being obtained from the following:
d) The Minister of Finance for the re-issuance of the sports betting license and the changes in shareholders and directors in Ascot, if required;…

There’s also item 2.5 (a) “TSVT’s guarantee of the profit after tax of Ascot that it shall be at least RM375.0 million in aggregate for the three (3) financial years ending 30 April 2011 to 30 April 2013. This translates into an average profit after tax of RM125.0 million per annum;…”

Berjaya Corp’s full announcement to Bursa on 12 May 2010:

BERJAYA CORPORATION BERHAD (“BCORPORATION” OR “COMPANY”)
(A) PROPOSED ACQUISITION OF 70% EQUITY INTEREST IN ASCOT SPORTS SDN BHD
(“ASCOT”) FOR A TOTAL CASH CONSIDERATION OF RM525 MILLION (“PROPOSED
ACQUISITION”); AND

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-06-06

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  • Photo slideshow of launch of Tanjung Bunga Coastal Park http://bit.ly/c31sIu #
  • Who was Rachel Corrie (1979-2003)? http://youtu.be/O3JI-axaRF4 Rachel’s 5th grade dream http://youtu.be/fUGjzxG5r9Q #mygaza #rachelcorrie #
  • BBC uses the term “pro-Palestinian activists” – but US leaders not called “pro-Israeli”. Why? http://bit.ly/9xNdY7 #RachelCorrie #mygaza #
  • I am not in Ipoh though, just sources informing me. #
  • Quite a few juicy revelations in Ipoh tonight! #
  • Nizar has also revealed what Raja Nazrin told him at the Perak State Assembly sitting in May last year. #
  • Let’s just say Nizar’s allegations, if true, would be sensational – though few would be really surprised. #
  • Nizar is making a couple of startling allegations about who was behind the BN takeover of Perak and their attempts on Selangor. #
  • They have just played Najib’s “you help me, I help you” video at the DAP ceramah in Ipoh. #
  • A standing ovation for Ibrahim Singgeh who pased away at Monday aged 92. He was the DAP Adun for Tapah Road (now Air Kuning) in 1969. #
  • Some 4,000 people are at the “From Sibu to Putrajaya” ceramah in Ipoh. Chin Woo is full to the brim. #
  • Former US Ambassador Edward Peck says flotilla activists
    were defending themselves:… http://fb.me/zYx4I6gH #
  • MV Rachel Corrie is now less then 150 miles from
    Gaza and should be approaching the exclusion zone at 8am… http://fb.me/BKzQocDf #
  • About to write an article on the govt’s plan to remove subsidies. Any thoughts to share? #
  • Eat only those foods that your great grandma would recognise http://bit.ly/9YQHIE #
  • Robert Fisk: Western leaders are too cowardly to help save lives http://bit.ly/concIa #
  • Update: Pas Adun for Meru Dr Rani Osman is safe in Dubai #
  • Dr Rani is in Dubai RT @elizabethwong: False alarm: Dr Rani is not on the #flotilla but his colleague is on it. #
  • What is APCO’s response going to be on the Israeli attack on the Gaza aid ship? #
  • Condemn the Israeli attack on ship bringing humanitarian aid to Gaza. Up to 16 killed. Two Malaysian media personnel on board. #

RM525m donation is chicken-feed…

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Vincent Tan’s RM525 million donation to the Better Malaysia Foundation is chicken-feed compared to the enormous potential market for sports betting.

The donation is actually a small ‘investment’ compared to what is at stake.

Berjaya Corporation paid RM525 million for Tan’s 70 per cent stake in Ascot, which was controversially awarded a sports betting licence recently.

Tan’s donation of the proceeds comes in the wake of growing disquiet about the impact of sports betting especially among low-income workers and their families.

Some random thoughts come to mind:

Updates – In solidarity with MV Rachel Corrie

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The MV Rachel Corrie is expected to approach Gaza sometime tomorrow. The world holds its breath as the spirit of Rachel Corrie returns to Palestine.


Live – Gaza protests

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The latest on the protests at the Israeli attack on the Gaza humanitarian aid flotilla.

Live – Anwar trial

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Another day in the trial of Anwar Ibrahim.

Beyond elections: The struggle for change

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Elections are important but they should be seen in the context of a much larger struggle for reforms and change played out over decades.

This is something I wrote before the Sibu by-election, but it still holds true any time.

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