Sunday, 22 May 2011

Bread and butter issues


At the end of the day, what ordinary people care are the bread and butter issues. The folks in the villages don't care what programs and grandiose projects the PM announces. They don't even care, if the PM is actually repeating mentioning the projects which he has in fact announced earlier. But probably that's because his speechwriter wasn't paying attention and the PM reads from cue.

People don't care if the PM wants or the JKR minister proposes to build a bridge linking the PM's office complex to his official residence. What they do care is whether the potholed roads in the kampong, the jalan pertanian, will be repaired. They care whether their land applications submitted score of years ago will get approved. They care of education can be subsidized. They care if the price of goods and services which they use and consume everyday are assured of supply at affordable price levels.

Right now, they are seething over the price of sugar. Malaysians consume a lot of sugar. They don't care if some MBs or the Health Minister admonished them for consuming more sugar. They have chosen to consume that little luxury which they can afford. They are not familiar with Equal or other sugar substitutes. They want their sugar.

When the sugar industry was monopolized by the Kuok group, the price was maintained for more than a decade. Even then, they Kuok and Perlis Plantation made a lot of money. Probably they were aided by subsidies for maintaining the price for so long.

Now the sugar monopoly is under FELDA Global. The price of sugar has been increasing quite a number of times. It's now priced at RM 2.30 per kilo. That could only mean the government has no money to spend on subsidies. So it is now extolling the virtues of doing away with subsidies.

But the government is attacking at the weakest sections of society- the poorer sections. Big businesses have powerful spokesmen articulating their interests. Who will fight for the weak and the dispossessed then? The IPPs have as their spokesmen important persons who can talk to government should subsidies allocated to them were to be withdrawn. Big businesses have powerful people nursing and looking after their interests. The PM goes around as a friend to big business.

What does Felda enjoy really? It enjoys a reconstituted monopoly. Subsidies are removed and abnormal price of sugar is allowed to operate. The monopoly over the sugar industry as with other monopolies is possible only with government protection. So in this case, the monopoly over sugar by Felda Global is possible only because the government permits it so.

In so doing, the government missed the opportunity to liberalize the market. When the monopoly by the Kuok Group ended, the government could have allowed the free market to supply sugar. Enjoying a protected monopoly buy the government is also a form of subsidy accorded to Felda. Why should a behemoth like Felda enjoy a monopoly?

Why do we need to maintain sugar monopolies? Why don't we allow as many importers to supply sugar for the domestic market? Or we lower the taxes on sugar to allow sugar price to be lower.

The monopoly situation has given rise to questions of profiteering, incompetency as well as the rationale behind allowing Felda Global to enjoy monopoly over the import and export of sugar. Felda will enjoy this abnormal profit for as long as the government bans import from the world. In other words, government stands on the side of the monopolist.

Ariff Sabri


  1. The other day a group of us were talking about the same thing you have written here, viz Sugar price, Kuok Group, Felda, subsidy and monopoly.
    Every thing is controlled, taxi licenses, KLIA limo, and even internet and phone rates.
    The people are the easiest to strangle because we are helpless.

  2. "People don't care if the PM wants or the JKR minister proposes to build a bridge linking the PM's office complex to his official residence" EVEN IF THEY ARE DYING OR DIE, WE ALSO DON'T CARE. AT LEAST WE WILL HAVE LESS CORRUPTED PEOPLE.

    "But the government is attacking at the weakest sections of society- the poorer sections. Big businesses have powerful spokesmen articulating their interests. Who will fight for the weak and the dispossessed then?"

  3. The need to have monopolies and protection for special businesses have a deeper underlying reason.

    These are the businesses that need to make political contributions to the governing parties' war chests.

    If these businesses don't do well, how lah to have buy-elections !!!

  4. Dear Dato,The first thing ordinary people think about,before they go to work each morning are the bread and butter issues.Americans voted in Barack Obama,an African American because they thought that he could do no worse than the Republican candidate.At the end of the day it is all about their pocketbook.Free markets work because they encouraged fierce competition,so prices are competitive.Monopolies have no competitors so either you pay or walk away.Maybe take a bus to Padang Besar or Gelok have some fun,go shopping, buy ten kilos of sugar and come home.It might worked out to be cheaper.It all came back to one word "CORRUPTION".Malaysia was two decades into a developing nation when China was still under a communist regime.When China becomes a developed country, Malaysia will still be struggling to keep it's developing nation's status.It is the ruling elites mindset that counts.Felda will end up as siblings of "EPF and PETRONAS".A contributor to "BIG TIME CORRUPTION".P/S a reminder to barisan ministers, in china,when convicted of corruption they don't shoot you.they have you "NEUTERED:.

  5. Dear Dato,The people could not care less if Dr. M's twin towers were the tallest building at that time (abeit a little bit of cheating of the tower's spire).The sugar monopoly of Kuok group ended,because Robert Kuok's contribution did not keep in line with the rate of inflation.Take a look at another crony of Dr. M. This Chinese guy came over from Johore.He was renting a terrace house in Taman Seputeh,off Old Klang Road.He was a nobody then.He moved away.Five years later I saw him walking along the streets in K.L. He was with a group of people.At least half of them were his bodyguards.He also has a monopoly over the lottery and betting of telecast live horse racing from overseas.He also has franchises of food chains,etc.He is now a datuk and a billionaire.Monopoly sure helps certain politically well connected people.

  6. Salam Tuan Ariff,
    Kami rakyat tak risau kerana dapat jaminan dari menteri (baca: mestilah org pandai) dari Pahang, harga barang tak akan naik sbb mereka dah beri kuasa kepada tok penghulu/penggawa utk memantau.
    Adoi, padanlah dato' tak terpilih jadi wakil kami krn pandangan dato' rupanya macam pandangan kami semua rakyat miskin tak secanggih pemimpin di negara maju serba boleh ni!

  7. Ha ha ha..

    Simple math la...orang kampung dak paham..Acu dema fikir..kalo' rege miyak naik, kos lori turut naik, jadi barang turut naik...Tok Penghulu ke tok empat ke, mana ade kuase (Masa) nak melapornye, acu deme fikir..ha ha ha...

    "They care whether their land applications submitted score of years ago will get approved." on Dato"..did you office in Pahang is the worst Land Office in Malaysia...ha ha ha.

  8. Orang Miskin Mersing23 May 2011 at 17:57

    Ada tanah orang kampung di Kg. Tekek, Pulau Tioman gomen ambik buat gerai dan pejabat pada tahun 1975. Tuan tanah tetap bayar cukai tanah sampai sekarang.
    Bila buat semakan, terperanjat tuan-tuan tanah sebab tanah tu dah tak ujud dalam geran besar.
    Semak dengan pejabat tanah Rompin, dengan pejabat tanah dan galian, penghulu, ketua kampung, sampai bawa ke State Legal Advisor :semua cakap fail hilang!
    Baru-baru ni aje dapat jumpa MB Pahang sejak buat segala jenis rujukan dan semakan dari tahun 2009. Kiranya panjang umur, dapat le tuan-tuan tanah serta waris-waris merasa, itu pun jika tak ada dispute pampasan dah di bayar (kepada siapa?) atau tidak.
    Kalau tanah pun hilang atas geran, nak harap Tok Ketua, Tok Empat, Penghulu, Ketua Kampong pantau harga?
    Orang kampung saya kata `lambat pandai'..

  9. Inilah akibat bila pemimpin dipilih dari kalangan orang pandai.

    Pandai bodek!