BPA & the Health Ministry

Many people in the can food business fell from their chairs on March 14 and why is that.

BPA is Bisphenol A, an organic carbon compound and key building block for polycarbonate and epoxy resins. BPA itself is toxic and linked to cancer, erectile dysfunction and other health issues. Polycarbonate bottles are deemed not safe because of their tendency to leak BPA into the contents the bottles hold. On March 14, Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai announced a ban on polycarbonate milk bottles nationwide because these bottles contained BPA. The ban was not immediate but from March 1, 2012 onwards- this went against the grain of the Malaysian public who called for an immediate ban instead of a delayed ban.

But why are the can industry people sitting up? How is this related to the ban of baby milk bottles?

BPA is the main compound in epoxy resin which in turn is the main material in protective coatings in our can food and drinks. All food and drink cans have a thin protective coating which is sprayed on the inside and outside during production of the can. Epoxy resin has been around in cans since nearly 50 years ago and it is the best ingredient to bond the protective spray to the can while providing resilient protection. The outer layer of the spray protects the dye (i.e can printings) while the inside spray prevents the usually acidic food or drink contents from attacking the aluminium cans. This makes cans one of the best effective methods to preserve and contain food and drink. However the problem is there is a slight migration of BPA (i.e. leakage or seeping) from the can-coatings to the food or drink pack. No one dies from a single can of soda of course, but it is a life-long issue- how many cans of tuna or coke have you consumed in your life-time so far? You can check out the scary findings here.

So again, on the question why the can industry people are sitting up. The can industry people, mainly comprising of chemists and sales employees, have known the BPA issue for a long, long time. As we know, the delayed ban of milk bottles in 2012 is purely due to commercial reasons. And for the same commercial reasons, local can-coatings producers and can makers will be quite afraid of a sudden public scare. No doubt that all the can-coatings producers in Malaysia are multinational players but the can-coating industry is throat- cutting and fragile- can-coatings are mainly shipped in liquid form in one-tonne barrels and sold in low-commodity-like prices. Any slowdown in canned food and drinks will deeply impact on can maker production lines which will in turn whack the can-coatings industry.

The Health Ministry will be taking one slow step at a time on this one. For one, not all main players in the international market have a replacement product for epoxy-based coatings (a related report is here). The replacement chemical is still new and is not as resilient as epoxy resin. It will be some time before all can food and drinks are BPA-free. For now, if there is a public concern on canned food or drinks relating to BPA the can-makers together with the can-coatings people will certainly rely on the Government like the baby milk bottle makers.

GTP : Transforming or mere improvements?

Najib administration released the 2010 annual report for Government Transformation Programme;an understandable tactical undertaking given the coming Sarawak and imminent General Election.

Among the quotable statement are as follows:

a bold programme aimed at radically transforming the way the Government worked so we could deliver real solutions

Reducing Crime, Fighting Corruption, Improving Student Outcomes, Raising Living Standards of Low-Income Households, Improving Rural Basic Infrastructure and Improving Urban Public Transport

According to the Prime Minister,

I am proud to say that the GTP, led by the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (PEMANDU) within the Prime Minister’s Department, has delivered many positive outcomes. The GTP has registered many “firsts” that have directly or indirectly, enhanced the lives of millions. We have broken new ground and are on the verge of greater accomplishments.

It is a welcome initiative from the Najib administration to provide a report to the public. As informed and thinking tax payer, we should bear these 2 matters in mind: 1) self praise is no praise; and 2) please shed ourselves of beggar and feudal mentality - we do not owe our living to the elected occupiers of seats of responsibility and authority, it is very much the other way around.

Let's appraise the report pretty much like a shareholder in a plc's annual general meeting and see if our tax money has been spent by a prime minister elected by his political party, not by the general public.

Transformation suggest a paradigm shift, a "new deal" - like Lee Kuan Yew as early as 1980's told Singaporeans that the then booming labour intensive and low cost manufacturing base was not a sustainable option and began making the little red dot the financial, petroleum processing and regional office hub that is today.

I would rate the report card as showing tangible incremental improvements over a miserable delivery system that takes little to better. Yes, overall there are some positives, but I would not say that it has broken new ground.

On the contrary, it is probably inching towards what tax payers realistically can expect a proper government to deliver. CRIME:

On page 7 "Big Result Fast" - it was claimed that 2001 violent cases backlog has been cleared. Why should there be a backlog in the first place? Clearing backlog is nothing to be proud about, it is about waking up and catching up for “goyang kaki" in the past. Speaking of backlog case, what happened to the death of Kugan and Teoh Beng Hock cases?

On the same page, 7,402 police personnel have been mobilised from desk jobs to front line to fight crime.

On page 133 of DAP Economic Bureau's 2010 Alternate Budget (I got my copy in 2009), there is a statement here,

“we need to restructure our excessive placement of police personnel in Federal Reserve Unit (FRU), Administration, Logistics and Special Branch so that we can deploy more police personnel to crime-fighting divisons such as CID which makes up of only 7% of the police force now".

Nice to see the BN administration taking alternate views seriously but they need to work on giving due credit and not "gasakking" it.

On the CORRUPTION front, 284 offenders have been listed in sprm website.

Among the cases:
No. Kes : 62-2-2011 PERTUDUHAN PILIHAN: Bahawa kamu pada 3 Januari 2011, jam lebih kurang 12.00 tengah hari, di Pasar Awam Kuala Pilah, dalam Daerah Kuala Pilah, dalam Negeri Sembilan, telah memberikan suatu suapan iaitu wang tunai RM 100.00 kepada seorang ejen Kerajaan Malaysia iaitu (RF/164062)

No. Kes : 62-8-2011 PERTUDUHAN PILIHAN: Bahawa kamu pada 3 Februari 2011, jam lebih kurang 11.45 pagi, di dalam Pondok Polis Terminal One, dalam Daerah Seremban, dalam Negeri Sembilan, telah memberikan suatu suapan iaitu wang tunai RM 50.00 kepada, Konstabel (RF/170575)


Whereas .... all the ex-PKA directors are granted amnesty by the current directors, which make all of them seem to be jointly culpable at the very least.


Silence is gold when certain issues in Sarawak are concerned

On page 66, The Miniter in PM Department, stated

With the implementation of the initiatives under the Fighting Corruption NKRA, the Government has continued to demonstrate dedication towards eliminating corruption and graft in the nation. The recent Global Corruption Barometer results reflect this, and although I am confident that we are on the right path, we will not be complacent and will step up our efforts towards achieving our targets and objectives in 2011"

On the right path? Just days ago, the RCI in Teoh Beng Hock's Inquery has this to say about MACC



Commissioner Datuk T. Selventhiranathan lambasted Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigating officer Anuar Ismail today for seizing documents from the Selangor executive councillor’s office on July 15 2009 without a written order from the Attorney-General.

Let’s not even talk about how MACC believe a man who is about to get married tomorrow can strangle himself.

What about the annual horrendous leakages reported by the Auditors’ General Reports? Section 40 & 41 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Bill 2008 empowers the recovery of stolen public funds but do we see the resolve of the Najib administration to execute the relevant provisions of the law passed by his very own administration?


A real transformation would be to transfer the MACC from under the thumb of the Prime Minister to Parliament, even a blind mouse can see that. Otherwise, there is every chance of MACC being used as a political tool, something that have coloured more than a few views both in and outside Malaysia.

It is my personal opinion that a government transformation programme should include the following:

1) decentralizing the excessive concentration of power at Federal Level. UMNO used to object Malayan Union for the same reason and yet the current administration under BN has effectively reduced the state governments to mere land administrators with no access of funds hence technically bankrupt.

Empowering state government can increase flexibility, enable local policy makers who know their locality well to respond faster to local needs.

2) endorsing Pakatan Rakyat’s call and reverting to the old Alliance practice of local authority elections which increase accountability at ground level, empowering the rakyat’s position as stake holders

3) making Petronas financial matter accountable to the rakyat via the parliament whereby its annual budgets and financial performance are subject to public scrutiny, rather than as an emergency funds for bail outs and heavens know what else

4) Turning the more than decades long budget deficits into surplus. Commonsense tell us that it is suicidal to spend more than you earn every year for more than 10 years consecutively. The Penang State Government has turned actual deficit into surplus and has proven that such feats are possible.

5) For subsidy restructuring, please look at excessive link in the supply chain in Malaysia. Why make it more expensive and complicated the processes getting goods and services to the rakyat? For example IPP, AP, Padiberas Nasional Berhad (Bernas)etc.

Pursuant to Corporatization Agreement of 1996, Bernas became an appointed administrator of "Paddy Price Subsidy Account" and took over the government’s task of channelling subsidy to farmers with an aim for profit.

Why can't a civil service with the greatest civil servants to population ratio in the world handle this?


As conclusion, inching towards your expected responsibility is within expectation. It would be irresponsible for the elected people's representative to feel that by doing their jobs and earning salaries, perks and pensions in return, warrants extraordinary gratitude and loyalty from the population. That is anti-democracy, giving the impression of neo-colonization, feudalism and beggar mentality.


on page 156 "BIG WINs" the following are listed:
2 million Malaysian living in the rural areas have seen their lives significantly
improved in 2010 with the provision of roads, water, electricity and houses.

783.1 km of rural roads were built and upgraded across the country
(equivalent to the length of the North-South Highway

Over 12,000 kampungs across Malaysia with enhanced road connectivity

Over 36,273 additional houses are now supplied with clean or
treated water

27,266 additional houses connected with 24-hour electricity supply

16,962 houses for rural poor built or restored

The above reads like a reconstruction task like in Afghanistan or Iraq. It is a pain to see "playing catch up" in a resource rich country can be termed "BIG WIN".

Undersea cables still holding up

Japan is a hub for trans-Pacific undersea cables that provide Internet access between many regions of the world. About 20 submarine cables land in Japan, giving Friday’s 8.9-magnitude earthquake the potential to disrupt communications around the globe. Luckily, so far, reports of cable damage have been low, according to TeleGeography. Full report here.

Internet's still quite fast over the past 2 days- I guess things are ok for now.

KLCI slips to almost 3-month low

The KLCI amongst most of the bourses in Asia are hurt by the Japan quake and the rise in crude oil prices. From the graph above the 3- month low is 1,489.27 on Feb 25. At last Friday's close the volume was 1,499.28. Not sure what's going to happen to the stocks on Monday March 13 but if the volume breaks lower than the support level of 1490 it is certainly not optimistic.

My EG - where did the My comes from?

MyEG is currently on the roll now. Its financial results are looking good. It looks to provide a positive image to the government's modernization initiative and enable IT savvy Malaysians to handle mundane transactions without needing to travel and queue.

According to Malaysia123.com

MyEG Services Berhad is a concessionaire for the Malaysian E-Government MSC Flagship Application. MyEG role as a Service Provider for the E-Services component essentially provides the electronic link between the Government and citizens/businesses

Through MyEG portal, MyEG offer the Malaysian public a single point of contact between the Government and the people it serves. MyEG portal enables Malaysians to dynamically interact with numerous agencies within the Federal, State and the Local Government machinery providing services ranging from information searches to licence applications.

Turnover and profits are on increasing trend for this listed company:

Effectively MyEG is

1) given a monopoly of handling e-government transactions; and

2) given access into private and confidential details of many Malaysians including credit card details, telephone numbers, addresses, traffic summons etc

Several matters pop into my mind.

If 1Malaysia -Performance-Now administration can outsource the "accounts receivable" function of JPJ, DBKL, Imigresen etc then how come we Malaysians are saddled with the most bloated civil service around?

Best Bloated Civil Service

With 1.3 million civil servants to a population of 26 million, Malaysia has one of the highest civil servants-to-population ratio in the world by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development standards.

In 2009, Malaysia’s civil servants-to-population ratio was highest in Asia Pacific. Her ratio was 4.68%, compared to Indonesia’s 1.79%, Korea’s 1.85% and Thailand’s 2.06% all of which have less than half our ratio.

In 2009, Singapore had a total of 60,000 civil servants, i.e., 1.5% of the total population. Hong Kong had 160,000 out of a population of 7 million (2.3%). Taiwan(population of 23 million) was served by only 528,000 (2.3%).

So the question is, are Malaysians paying double? Are we still paying for excessive number of civil servants while some of their jobs have been outsourced?

In addition, what kind of clause, terms and conditions did the Barisan Nasional administration bound the rakyat into? As tax payers' surely we have the rights to know. The audited accounts of MyEg merely included the statement:

We can't tell how we are being charged by MyEG, can we? Besides, were there open tenders called to ensure Malaysians got the best deal? Why MyEG was chosen? What are the safety procedures in place to ensure our private and confidential information submitted is not being abused?

Why can't the Performance Now administration come up with an inter-ministry/department team to handle this collection function across the administration without a profit element ?(MyEG as a plc needs to generate dividends to its shareholders and guess who is paying for the dividends, plus note 32 of the accounts shows that annually the plc pays about RM200K for rental and professional services to Embunaz Ventures Sdn. Bhd, a company owned by its Executive Chairperson, Dato’ Dr Norraesah Binti Haji Mohamad, "has a substantial financial interest" )

MyEG, to me, seems like another civil service that should be provided to tax payers at no additional cost - i.e. without profit, related party transactions and dividends. Sure theoretically, private enterprise are more efficient than public sector because of the profit motive but I have dealt with Hong Kong and Singapore immigration and income tax departments to know that with the right work attitude and culture, public service can be very very efficient and impressive.

While tax payers in private sector have to deal with risk of business downturn, pay-cuts, voluntary separation schemes, retrenchment, unfair/wrongful dismissals and other threats to our livelihood, majority of civil servants enjoy an iron rice bowl, pension (which offset the disadvantage of lower pay), immunity from disciplinary action (ask Siti Inshah and those BTN indoctrinators), pressure-less environment (unless you are in public schools), no performance yardstick (try calling an ambulance from public hospitals and see what happens) and whatever whatever.
Yeah sure, working in public sector has it disadvantages too but certainly not as stressful as those in risk-taking private sector.

If there is a really 1Malaysia thingy, then the civil servants should buck up, provide satisfactory services to Malaysians and benchmark against service level of Singapore and Hong Kong; the most efficient around the world.

Disclosure requirements that listed companies must follow, according to accounting standards, company law and Bursa listing requirements, are suppose to give more relevant information for investing public to understand the company they have or thinking of investing in.

According to the annual reports and accounts, the annual pay package of the executive directors is about RM312,000 per year. So with an "s", presumably there is more than 1 executive director hence the RM300K was supposed to be shared out.
Raja Munir Shah and Wong Thean Soon are designated as Executive Director and Managing Directors respectively in the annual reports so my mind boggles how 2 person can be deemed to control 56 million shares in the company that pays between them, probably around RM300K a year? Most intriguing.

The profile of Raja Munir Shah included the following:

In 1997, he was elected to head the Tanjong UMNO Youth Division and subsequently appointed as the State UMNO Youth Information Chief until his tenure ended in 2004. He was appointed as a City Councilor in 1997, 1998, 2003 and 2004. During his tenure as a Councilor in Penang Island Municipal Council (“MPPP”), he served as Chairman and Committee Member in various standing committees overseeing legislatives and policy matters within the jurisdiction of MPPP which covers the island of Penang.

I have to put my hands up in awe.

But the biggest shock is still to come....


Under the customs tax monitoring scheme, MyEG has a 40% stake in a special purpose vehicle (SPV) that will link up point-of-sales (POS) terminals of businesses that are subject to customs’ service taxes, such as restaurants and entertainment outlets.

The SPV will spend RM100 million on capex, but will receive a 20% share of the taxes that were previously found to be under-declared, with the lion’s share of 80% going to the government.

This will give MyEG a potentially large wildcard from FY June 2013 onwards. However, it is too preliminary to assess at this juncture, as much depends on how much tax was under-declared in the first place. The service will also be compatible with a GST regime that is likely to be implemented at a later stage, giving the company a potentially wider earnings base.

What kind of irresponsible government would

1) let a private sector to help them chase after tax evaders - do you see IRB employing debt collectors? If the custom authorities have an act to enforce, they should just enforce it without additional expebse!

2) let a plc to gobble up to 20% of public's money? these money could be used for welfare, education, healthcare, public utilities etc instead of dividends, private profits etc.

And this path to money printing encompass service, sales taxes and in future, after getting re-elected, GST. The magnitude of benefit coming to MyEG's way, at public's expense, is presently incalculable.