Petronas’ pricey foray, Bakun nightmare, bumi par value

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?

Look, the Coalition Against Health Care Privatisation has requested that the government allocate a portion of Petronas’ profits to improve our general hospitals. That would have been an excellent way of channelling the savings from the cut in subsidies to the poor, who badly need affordable health care. But for general hospitals got no money, Petronas hospital got … Just goes to show how much the government cares for the poor.

Bakun Dam – RM16 billion and rising: Sime Darby declines stake

Sime Darby has wisely decided to pull out of holding a stake in the Bakun Dam via Sarawak Hidro. Neither is it interested in holding a stake in the laying of cables under the South China Sea from Sarawak to the peninsula, which would make it the longest undersea cables in the world. The whole project stinks right from day one. They are building this huge dam in Sarawak, and they realise they don’t need the electricity. So they want to transmit it to the peninsula. But wait a minute, the peninsula already has a 40 per cent reserve capacity and TNB is even paying the IPPs for electricity it doesn’t need.

So what to do? They get polluting aluminium smelters to suck up the electricity from Bakun.

But Sime Darby obviously realises that the project is unviable and unprofitable – and would rather stick to the construction work. Has this anything to do with the extensive logging in the Bakun catchment areas that has threatened the viability of the project? (See “New doubts over Bakun Dam“) Or the serious doubts over the feasibility of the undersea cables and the likely risks and loss of power?

And now there are suggestions that TNB might take up a stake – and pass on the burden to the Malaysian public?

And that’s not all, they are building even more dams in Sarawak like there is no tomorrow. Make hay while the sun shines.

Let’s see, you have currently:

In the pipeline:

Under study:

Coal power plants proposed:

But wait a minute, Sarawak only needs 750MW right now – and it already has a capacity of 900MW. What the…!

Bumi equity – par value again

They are still calculating the bumi share of corporate equity based on par value – 19.4 per cent bumi stake in 2006, up from 18.9 per cent in 2004. What kind of economics is that? Everyone knows that par value produces a distorted picture. They should be using market value and market capitalisation. A different picture would emerge. Just ask Dr Lim Teck Ghee.

Anyway, why are we still measuring wealth distribution based on race? Only a small number of Malaysians own a large proportion of the shares. The majority of Malaysians – Malays, Chinese, Indians, Kadazans, Ibans, others – simply don’t have the money to buy shares. Shouldn’t we be addressing the widening gap between the rich and the poor of all ethnic groups instead of being fixated with the 30 per cent target, which only benefits the upper middle class and the elite?