Sometimes I do wonder if our nation’s top leadership ever provides the right solution to our livelihood problems. Malaysia’s once formidable English standard has declined as a result of excessive application of nationalism but the solution to teach mathematics and science in English, without first strengthening, improving and reinforcing primary level English syllabus and teaching resource before making the leap, actually resulted in messing up the learning of all 3 subjects for many young Malaysians.
Although I believe the suppliers of text books would have made impressive profits then.
When I read this morning’s headline, I struggle to get it around my head this nugget.
Sunday July 31, 2011
Food stamp plan will help stem rising food costs, says Muhyiddin
By HAMDAN RAJA ABDULLAH
MUAR: Malaysia may introduce food stamps soon to cushion the rise in food prices, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said.
The Deputy Prime Minister said the Government was concerned about the rising cost of living which was occurring globally, adding that the food stamp idea was among the options being considered in an effort to reduce its impact.
Muhyiddin, who heads the Cabinet committee looking into the cost of living, said rising prices was a global issue linked to the higher price of fuel which is affecting food production.
He said that at the same time, long droughts and floods which hit many food-producing countries also affected the price of many commodities.
Food stamp is a form of subsidy to assist the financially deprived to obtain food but addressing the issue of raising food prices?
I am sorry, DPM. It does not address the rising food prices and the majority of Malaysians who hold a decent job but struggling to cope with over priced cars, houses and daily living expenses would not benefit from this solution.
Sounds like another pre-general election gesture again, like that additional Mydin branch carrying that logo paid by tax payers in Kelana Jaya.
While food stamp sounds good on paper, the BN administration is not famous for proper execution of reasonably advertised policies and plans. Take a look at the long list of cock-ups namely NEP, Buku Hijau, Proton, Bakun Dam, Wawasan 2020, national service, PKFTZ, ETP etc. Just take a look at the on-going registration of legal foreign workers.
Also it is puzzling that while the current administration boast of moving the nation towards high income, it resorts to issuing food stamp to further signify the declining purchasing power and earning capacity of Malaysians.
To this writer, improving the purchasing power parity of Malaysians is a key ingredient to moving towards high income nation. While it is important to raise the wage level of Malaysians, making prices of goods and services go down, do more to enrich Malaysians.
The raise of food prices is due to external and internal factors.
Externally, the main reason is not really weather or fuel, but unethical, immoral and inhuman price speculation.
Some smartly dressed financial professional is sitting in his/her fancy air conditioned office in London or somewhere else, buying and selling food futures like companies’ shares, making the price of corn, cocoa, coffee, wheat etc rose many times before passing over to the manufacturers of bread, chicken feed, corn flakes etc.
The 2 following articles revealed much about the scenes unknown to us common folks:
Food speculation: 'People die from hunger while banks make a killing on food'
It's not just bad harvests and climate change – it's also speculators that are behind record prices. And it's the planet's poorest who pay
"People die from hunger while the banks make a killing from betting on food," says Deborah Doane, director of the World Development Movement in London.
“Food markets may not be the object of gamblers,” German Agriculture Minister Ilse Aigner said at a press conference during the meeting. “Food and agricultural commodities are not like anything else. Sometimes it’s about pure survival.”
World food prices in total rose 25 percent last year and countries probably spent at least $1 trillion on imports, with the poorest nations paying as much as 20 percent more than in 2009, according to the United Nations.
How can the Barisan Nasional administration fail to see this? The PM is famous for visiting many places with the First Lady speaking how nice it would be if the world do not practice discrimination unlike in Malaysia which is festering with BTN, Perkasa and what not.
Why doesn't the PM ruffle some feathers and speak out against evil speculators like someone who is still very much around? Is going beyond nice cosmetic and into a competitive international arena to voice out for Malaysians and other 3 world nations a bridge to far?
And take note that other serious administrators are taking an interest in this:-
Today, G20 agricultural ministers are meeting in Paris, and food speculation is on the agenda
Unfortunately the UK is probably saying yes it is, this is the world we want. The City of London makes good profits out of commodity speculation. If previous experience is anything to go by, the UK will be the loudest voice in the room in support of the banks.
Now that is a good reason to go overseas on tax payers' money.
According to this Nanyang Siang Pau exclusive,
Small time chicken farmers in Johor lament that difficulty in getting labour, raising cost of chicken feed (which is made of corn and constitute 70% to 80% of their running cost, and if you have read the above link, corn was subjected to excessive speculation), lacking of risk-sharing aid from the government and incessant harassment but want of assistance from various government agencies resulted in great difficulty for them to continue operations and also resulted in higher selling price of their produce.
While the DPM did mention that there is an initiative under way to source for cheaper chicken feed, I do not think sufficient focus, resource and commitment had been channeled to address these real life issue.
What is the result of sending 50 MPs to Taiwan for agriculture studies in 2008? The answer is nothing and a conclusive proof that it is again tax payers’ money down the drain. Instead of promoting Warisan Merdeka and those irritating 1Malaysia advertisements around, shouldn’t our money is better off being spent on food security?
To shield Malaysia from impact of these plain evil speculators, we need to achieve self sufficiency in food supply. Minimise the need to import if possible. Singapore government has invested fish farms in Vietnam and the Sultan of Brunei purchased a cattle farm in Australia for their own people. Indonesia achieved rice self sufficiency in 2007.
What has the self proclaimed 50 years old master administrator done for Malaysians?
Instead, we have Padi Beras Nasional Berhad, who makes multi million ringgit profit taking over the government function of regulating rice supplies and administering subsidies to rice farmers. Why can’t the BN administration just do what they have been doing, without putting in such a middle man in between?
Middlemen profiteering is a real problem, as highlighted by the Chinese media and Federation of Livestock Farmers’ of Malaysia here:
Malaysian consumers do not know better but to grudgingly buy the more expensive products and passing remarks on the producers as greedy profiteering, unfaithful, unaltruistic monsters.
Little did they know the profiteers are the middlemen and the retailers. The current chinese media blitz on exchanges between pig producers and the middlemen/butchers are a perfect example how these middlemen/butchers have been hiding, passing the blame on the producers whilst laughing their way to the bank.
Quoting one example extracted from the media reports is the gross profit of the three segments. While the producers now get around RM0.60 to RM0.80 per kg, the middlemen pocket a fixed profit of RM0.80 to 1.00 per kg And the butcher getting RM3.00 to RM5.00 per kg. Imagine a butcher selling 2 pigs per day can pocket close to RM600 to RM1000, that is almost the take home pay of a Chief Executive Officer of a FT Saham Bursa listed company!
In ancient Chinese society, the social ladder was arranged into 4 levels of nobility with the farmers being most honourable as they provide the source of survival, scholars come in next then government officials & solders third and finally merchants are deemed as the least honourable part of society due to excessive profiteering. (note: of course, criminals are not rated as they have no honour what so ever).
In Malaysia, it is probably well known that Kroni Diutamakan and they ain't farmers. Look at the IPPs, the toll concessionaires, AP kings, the subcontracting contractors etc.
What we are seeing here is that the farmers and producers are doing all the donkey work while unseen hands of middlemen, be it institutionalized or not, are making a killing, not unlike those faceless speculators who probably have a nice sports car (or more), beautiful bungalows and a host of opposite sex companions to boot.
The key to reduce food prices in Malaysia is to increase the volume and variety of our food production but agriculture has taken a back seat in list of priorities with the federal administration.
While the abomination that is the national car project that resulted in a heavy, draining and lingering burden to the rakyat and AP kings laughing all the way to banks, rapid growth of oil palm plantation, we hear about and witness the decline in Felda reserves, protests by our fish farmers and our agriculture sector becoming a field avoided by Malaysians as a choice of livelihood.
We have a good institution in Universiti Pertanian Malaysia which should assist us in research and development activities to produce high yield crops and cultivation methods. Government officials should position themselves as facilitators and aid to noble food producers instead of being a nuisance and hindrance to their honourable endeavour.
Leave the politicking out of it.
Negeri Sembilan has lost a lucrative pig farming industry in Bukit Pelanduk which used to a vital food source for Malaysians as well as earning significant Singapore Dollars.
Yeow (Yeow Chai Thiam, the then Negeri Sembilan's exco for housing and local government) denied that the government retracted its decision to revive the pig farming industry in Bukit Pelanduk after Barisan Nasional's poor performance, especially in Lukut, during last week's by-election when malaysiakini queried him whether the government is taking "revenge" on the pig-farmers.
Recently in Singapore, I saw frozen pork from Brazil in their NTUC shelves and cannot help but sigh.
We are not brutal, says land office
Teoh El Sen
| January 12, 2011
Some 100 farmers lost their homes to the bulldozers but the authorities do not think it is a callous action.
Jumaat, Julai 01, 2011
FARMER CLAIMS SHE LOST 15-ACRE LAND TO FORESTRY DEPARTMENT
Cost of doing business in Malaysia is also too high and I do have a thought or 2 about this but I shall reserve it to some other day as it itself is a huge topic.