Letter Of The Day Letter Of The Day en Promised drop in prices eludes us
The cost of living has affected the masses including fresh graduates who are shocked to find their hard earned degree can hardly pull them through the month having to settle different loans.

Politicians and people across the political divide appear to be torn between whether GST was a great idea and that its implementation has helped the people and the nation as a whole.

Or has GST become a burden to the people while the powers that be acknowledged it has helped to soften the financial blow when our reliance on crude oil took a beating and where our ringgit experienced a rough shock and took a beating too in the financial market?

I have no doubts GST will help the nation progress and achieve a higher standard of living. For that to happen we have to be prudent and wise in how we spend our hard earned money.

To help the government, the people through various channels, have provided feedback on how their tax money should be spent and to continue relentlessly anti-corruption enforcement.

One deep frustration with the implementation of GST is that the prices of goods and services have not gone down as promised. That serious concern has been raised many times and remains an issue.

The most vulnerable segment of our society are the low-income earners, the common people who feel the pinch of having to pay more for essential goods and services.

When I do my weekly marketing and groceries, I am dismayed by the cost of essential items. Even local vegetables are expensive.

Traders claim that the rise in the price of goods and services is in tandem with the overall rise in the cost of living. They follow the herd and raise prices indiscriminately without justification. They attribute the rise to the chain reaction in the "business process" and cite GST as the main cause. Our financial and economics experts need to tell us if this is true.

Why are prices of goods and services at an historical high when the people were told that with the implementation of GST, the prices would be lower?

Dr Tan Eng Bee
Letters Thu, 21 Sep 2017 10:53:40 +0000 theSundaily 485109 at
Be friendly to tourists
I took 12 relatives to have roti canai and teh tarik. One bag fell down when they were being seated. A patron shouted at my relatives even though he was seated across the table and the bag had not caused any disturbance. I asked him why be rude. Were they not tourists who should be welcomed?

Later, the group went to the toilet and left their bags at the walkway between the ticket counter and the toilet. A counter staff shouted at four of my relatives, who were watching over the bags, to move even though they were not blocking the way.

Why behave like a bully with foreign visitors who had no means to protect themselves due to the language barrier? Worst still, he was joined by another counter staff.

If Malacca wants to be a major tourist centre, the government must educate front-line personnel and service providers to be friendly to tourists and give them a warm welcome.

Datuk Anthony Cho
Letters Wed, 20 Sep 2017 11:46:06 +0000 theSundaily 484598 at
GST is effective and transparent
It is an inconceivable proposal to abolish the GST as announced by Pakatan Harapan chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad recently, if the opposition coalition were to win the forthcoming 14th general election.

By doing so, the GST will be replaced by the inefficient sales and services tax, which has long been abandoned by most countries, especially the western world. Presently there are more than 160 countries, with the latest being India, which have adopted GST as a reliable and transparent tax regime.

A responsible government has to manage its financial resources efficiently and prudently. With more revenue collected through GST, the government is in a better position to reduce its existing debt.

As Malaysia has been running a deficit economy for a long time, there is an urgent need to rectify the weakness, otherwise the country is vulnerable to a national debt crisis similar to the one encountered by Greece. If that happens, the entire nation will have to endure harsh austerity measures to fix the problem and it will take years for the economy to recover.

Our government shouldn't overlook the bloated public workforce of 1.6 million, which is causing a big dent to the country's coffers. The estimated emolument costs to be incurred on the workforce come to a staggering RM77.4 billion for 2017, while revenues to be collected for the year only amount to RM219.7 billion. The current ratio between emolument costs and revenues is 35.2%, as compared to 23.3% 10 years ago. The pace at which emolument costs is growing is worrisome.

I believe many pragmatic taxpayers like me are supportive of the GST implementation. In return, we expect the government to be more responsible and accountable in handling taxpayers' money. Malaysia dropped one point in Transparency International's Corruption Perception Index (CPI) in 2016, scoring only 49 out of 100. There must be real commitment to improve the CPI, otherwise the menace would not only persist but also worsen in the near future.

Obviously many senior citizens like me haven't forgotten the impact of the 1997/98 Asian financial crisis that had brought Malaysia to its knees. Although we had the ability to overcome the crisis without help from International Monetary Fund then, our economy suffered a big blow and many lives were thrown into turmoil. The share market collapsed along with many companies, big and small, causing thousands to lose their jobs.

I hope our former prime minister, Mahathir, hasn't forgotten how much damage the Asian financial crisis caused the nation. He shouldn't continue to treat Petronas as a cash cow that can always be relied on to provide substantial financial support to the government. Crude oil is a depleting natural resource and the good old days of high crude oil prices are long gone.

Patrick Teh
Letters Thu, 14 Sep 2017 10:02:44 +0000 theSundaily 482238 at
Better senses for our country’s sake
It was reported that if Barisan Nasional (BN) wins Penang state in the next polls, the Penang chief minister may not lead state government agencies such as the Penang Development Corporation and PBA Holdings Bhd. This may appear to be a gallant call but I think otherwise.

A much-needed rectification of our governance structure is long overdue. It is timely and rational but at the same time, the rakyat questions if this suggestion is rational, sensible and whether it makes sense to apply this call to both the federal and state governments.

You are a minister in the Prime Minister's Department, you have a moral obligation to explain and enhance the rakyat, more so the Penangites. Let us examine the case of PBA Holdings Bhd for which the Penang chief minister has been sitting as chairman on the board.

I agree that he should not be there but most other states have a similar structure where the mentris besar sit as chairman of the water companies. As Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong pointed out "Why the double standard?" What makes Penang so different?

At the same time, we have the Gerakan secretary-general, a politician sitting as chairman of Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Air Negara (SPAN), the water commission which is the regulatory body of water supply services.

The uncanny position has given way to a public spat between Datuk Liang Teck Meng, a member of Parliament and SPAN chairman, and Lim Guan Eng, PBA Holdings Bhd chairman and Penang chief minister. The former made a public statement that Penang had applied for a tariff increase.

I would have thought, that being SPAN chairman, he would've been more sensible in keeping such an application confidential until SPAN had approved the implementation for an increase.

What is wrong with an application for water tariff increase? Didn't TNB increase its tariff? Isn't a water tariff increase part of the water reform, which is an established policy direction for SPAN to implement? Why did the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water allow the spat to manifest?

I have pointed out that it does not bode well, to have politicians or retired politicians along with members who have little knowledge, skills and experience sit on the commissions, boards or committees of these agencies. We need to be sensible! Water utility is meant to serve the people.

I wish to commend Abdul Rahman for rationally broaching the subject of the chief minister's power over government agencies.

But rationality, when myopic can lead to paucity of sensibility. Let us not lose sight of a good proposal and make it sensible to apply across the board, especially regulatory bodies, immediately.

Regulatory bodies should discharge policy objectives fairly and should consist of board members or commissioners who are knowledgeable and contributing to the development of the industry in which they regulate. It is not a political platform nor a retirement home for politicians.

We have our challenges in life and we cannot blame our leaders for external shocks. However, we cannot accept self-inflicted wounds of political strives spilling over on to people's well-being.

Please confine the political battles to intellectual discourse on policies that promotes socio-economic development in Parliament and state assemblies. May better senses prevail for the sake of our country.

Tan Sri Robert Phang Miow Sin
Justice of the Peace]]>
Letters Wed, 13 Sep 2017 12:21:15 +0000 theSundaily 481849 at
Why we should protect them
Some of us have failed to differentiate between refugees and economic migrants. Refugees flee from their country because of fear of persecution while economic migrants are those who leave their country in search of better opportunities and lifestyle, and are able to return to their home country at any time.

Regardless of the refugees' nationality, race, ethnicity, and religion we should always help them and allow safe passage. Many people flee their home country when they are unable to seek their own government's protection or such protection is not forthcoming.

In worst-case scenarios, the authorities who are duty-bound to protect their citizens are also involved in the persecution.

Sadly, there are over 22.5 million refugees worldwide.

Many countries argue that because they have not signed the Refugee Convention they are not bound by it.

They do not realise the potential good refugees can bring into their country. They are an untapped resource and can contribute to their country of asylum. Many refugees are qualified teachers, scientists, football coaches and chefs.

Let's change our perception and help refugees the best way we can.

Roslan Mohamad
Petaling Jaya]]>
Letters Mon, 11 Sep 2017 10:50:51 +0000 theSundaily 480982 at
Ministry on track with R&D graduates
We thank Prof Dwight H. Perkins for his views and are glad there is keen international interest in Malaysian higher education.

The Ministry of Higher Education recognises the importance of producing holistic, entrepreneurial and balanced graduates as stipulated in Shift 1 of our Higher Education Blueprint 2015-2025. This encompasses producing graduates who are innovative and able to drive R&D.

Ten years ago the ministry introduced the research universities (RU) initiative to enculture R&D and accelerate its growth. We are now reaping the benefits as the five RUs have recorded an increase in postgraduate students (masters and PhDs) whose focus are on R&D. There were also increases in publications and citations (594% according to Thomson Reuters), international collaborations, patents filed and more. To date, the ministry has recorded over 28% in return of research investments from the RU initiative – a positive yield from the commercialisation of ideas and research products.

The ministry has also introduced the integrated cumulative grade point average (iCGPA) initiative in 2015 which not only assesses students' knowledge, but also their problem solving, information management, and entrepreneurial skills. The iCGPA is the first of its kind in the world and is being implemented in 20 public universities encompassing over 350 programmes.

On innovation, Malaysia is proud to have produced many graduates who are innovative. Among them are Joel Neoh, a graduate from Monash University Malaysia, who is involved with Groupon Malaysia and Catcha Media. There is also Noorain Mohd Said, a University of Malaya chemistry graduate who applied her knowledge to innovate organic body care products earning her millions while still studying.

At Universiti Tenaga Nasional, a group of students created a car-sharing application to help ease traffic congestion while at the Multimedia University a software that recognises locations based on pictures of buildings was developed. These are just some examples to show the innovative mindset of Malaysian students.

On the brain drain issue, we thank Perkins for acknowledging that Malaysians are sought after by overseas universities and for employment.

The government recognises the challenges of brain drain, which is a worldwide phenomenon. But on the flip side, there is also brain gain.

In 2015, World Bank lead economist Truman G. Packard said "many talented Malaysians come home after being based abroad, which brings many benefits for the country."

The bank suggested that brain drain is not a major concern and that Malaysia's efforts to bring experienced Malaysians home were on the right track.

On the nature of Malaysian universities where presidencies are picked by the government, the issue of autonomy in higher education has been long debated. In the Higher Education Blueprint, autonomy is addressed and the ministry recognises that it must move from "tight controller" to "regulator and policymaker".

Currently, the powers to appoint key public university posts are legally vested in the minister, nevertheless the appointment process is thorough:

(i) the board and academic associations can nominate candidates and give their views to the minister;

(ii) the ministry has a selection committee of eminent persons who advise the minister; and

(iii) the Higher Education Leadership Academy profiles the candidates.

Appointments are not left to chance or whims and fancy.

The minister of higher education recently delivered a keynote speech on autonomy. He acknowledged that "Greater university autonomy is required for future success" and that autonomy is a gradual process. His speech can be accessed at

On the quote that universities are not what they should be and if teachers are brought in without merit, it would be cheating the students: All university lecturers have to pass rigorous academic vetting to be appointed as faculty members. A PhD is a minimum. Merit is highly valued and there is no compromise on quality.

Most of Malaysia's higher education success stories are the result of the hard work and effort of our homegrown academics and researchers. Some have been recognised by Thomson Reuters as "World's Most Influential Scientific Minds".

Some academics prefer to leave due to their inability to meet key performance indicators set by the universities. The minister has communicated that such preference is respected and that academics who do not perform can leave or be released.

On the quote that "A few years ago I was pretty optimistic that Malaysia was going to make the necessary changes; I am a lot less optimistic today": I believe Perkins has reason to be optimistic. Malaysia's higher education system is improving as expressed by our apothegm, "Soaring Upwards".

In fact, 2017 has been a record breaking year. The acronym UMAR illustrates our recent success stories:

U stands for Universitas 21 or the U21 Ranking of National Higher Education Systems. In this year's report, the Malaysian HE system was ranked 25th overall – an improvement of 11 places over the last six years.

M refers to University of Malaya. In the last five years, UM has steadily improved in the QS World University Rankings. From 167 in 2013, it is now 114. Within the next two years, it is expected to break into the top 100.

A – Among Asean nations, Malaysia is home to five of Asean's top eight universities, namely its 3rd, 4th, 5th, 7th and 8th institutions.

R stands for research universities. Out of about 26,000 universities worldwide, Malaysia's RUs are ranked within the Top 1% in the world.

Malaysian universities are performing well in subject rankings. In 2017, a total of 11 subjects offered by our public and private universities were ranked among the top 50 in the world by the QS World University Rankings 2016/2017.

University of Malaya leads the way with five subjects in the world's top 50: 23rd for electronic and electrical engineering; 26th for developmental studies; 33rd for mechanical engineering; 38th for chemical engineering; and 41st for education.

Universiti Sains Malaysia: 32nd hospitality management; 35th mineral and mining; 38th chemical engineering; and 49th environmental sciences.

Taylor's University (a historic first for a private university) is in 29th spot for hospitality management.

International Islamic University Malaysia is in 46th spot for divinity, theology and religious studies.

We appreciate Perkins' views. The ministry accepts that there are still many challenges ahead. Rest assured, it is working hard to ensure we address these challenges.

We have introduced a number of initiatives known as Redesigning Higher Education and iCGPA is one initiative under this heading. Others include Malaysia MOOC (the world's first nationally coordinated MOOC initiative); CEO@Faculty Programme (where top industry CEOs are appointed as adjunct professors and teach up to 30 hours a year in our public universities); 2u2i (a work-based learning undergraduate programme which will give students greater industry exposure); and APEL or Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning (which enables individuals without formal academic qualifications to use their experience to enter university) and many more.

We have also embarked on an extensive effort to better understand the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

Soon, we will be introducing a Higher Education 4.0 Framework to ensure higher education institutions are ready for the disruptions that will take place, and are able to equip future graduates with the skills and knowledge needed in the era of technology convergence.

The Ministry of Higher Education will keep communicating with stakeholders on its recent efforts and welcomes feedback.

Datin Paduka Ir Dr Siti Hamisah Tapsir
Director-General of Higher Education]]>
Letters Sun, 10 Sep 2017 11:58:25 +0000 theSundaily 480642 at
Mala fide in setting punitive bail?
But nothing has changed since. In a recent case a motorist charged for a minor traffic offence pleaded "not guilty" and the judge, exercising his discretion, slapped a cash bail of RM5,000 with one surety, i.e. RM3,000 up and above the maximum penalty for the offence.

To rub salt into the wound, the accused and the bailor were told by the court officer that all the RM5,000 would be forfeited if he failed to turn up for the next mention date.

No reason was given for setting bail 250% higher than the maximum fine for the offence.

In another recent case, that of a driver ramming into four cycling athletes, the bail was RM5,000 in one surety and the offence he is charged with carries a maximum fine of RM15,000.

No doubt judges have the discretion on setting bail, but apparently they are not required to justify setting bail way beyond the maximum penalty for the offence. At the very least, shouldn't they be required to state their reasons so that questions of mala fide do not arise?

It is strange how this has been allowed to happen and go on.

Among other things, the Bar Council has a duty to the general public "to uphold the cause of justice without regard to its own interests or that of its members' uninfluenced by fear or favour" and also "to protect and assist the public in all matters touching ancillary or incidental to the law".

Could the Bar Council which is surely aware of the excessive and punitive bail set in some cases please inform the public whether it has spoken up on the matter and why the practice still goes on.

If the Bar Council has not done anything about this, that would mean it agrees with the practice. In such a case, it should inform the public why it feels that the practice is fair and just.

When judges impose such drastic"punishment" even before hearing the case, it smells of bad faith or "mala fide". It gives a strong impression of bias against the accused, of unhappiness with the accused for pleading "not guilty". Are judges doing this to achieve any KPI's set for them?

For justice not only to be done but also to be seen to be done, would it be right for the judge who has pre-judged the accused by imposing punitive bail, to hear the case at a later date since he has shown some negative notion of the accused at the very beginning?

Ravinder Singh
Letters Sun, 10 Sep 2017 08:58:06 +0000 theSundaily 480572 at
When the safety sanctuary comes under threat
Police stations are viewed as safety sanctuaries by the public. In many societies, people resort to the police especially at police stations when there are in dire need of assistance or need protection when their personal safety is under immediate threat. The feelings of vulnerability and susceptibility being a victim of crime, especially violent crime, is most frightening and makes a person feel totally helpless. Thus, the public needs reassurance, especially when they are under serious threat by criminal elements or terror groups, that they must be able to go to the nearest police station at any time to seek immediate help or protection.

According to official sources, police stations (unlike police beat bases) are supposed to be manned 24 hours a day all year round. In this killing case, some of the concerns regarding safety and security at police stations are as follows:

> What is the minimum number of police personnel required to be on duty at a police station regardless of location?
> What is the policy on personal safety of officers on duty at police stations?
> To what extent are police stations immune to attacks by criminals and terror groups?
> Why was this police station not equipped with a CCTV?
> How can the public be reassured that police stations are safety sanctuaries?; and
> Who will be held accountable and responsible for the unnecessary loss of a precious human life if evidence clearly demonstrates weakness in the administration and management of Pinggiran Subang Jaya police station?

Many of the above questions need to be addressed urgently. Studies conducted by Universiti Sains Malaysia's research team on crime and policing have clearly illustrated that public perception on the fear of crime is strongly correlated to various factors besides the police index crime statistics.

Social media and traditional media have a major impact on the perception rate. Symbols of gang graffiti and loan shark posters displayed boldly in communities also create unwarranted negative perception. CCTVs and street lighting makes a difference on the perception rate. Police job performance has been correlated with perception of fear as well. The perception variables above are non-exhaustive and incidences like the killing of a police officer more so in a police station can create a sense of insecurity among the people. Police stations across the country must continue to be seen as safety sanctuaries. PDRM has always protected and served the rakyat without fail. PDRM must relentlessly pursue the killer/s of this case and at the same time pursue those who failed to ensure that the police station was managed accordingly.

P. Sundramoorthy
School of Social Sciences
Universiti Sains Malaysia]]>
Letters Mon, 04 Sep 2017 11:37:58 +0000 theSundaily 478163 at
Wasteful enforcement
I am saddened that the maritime enforcement authorities thought that burning and sinking the boat was the best option. Why destroy a perfectly seaworthy vessel?

The report said it was a foreign boat, so for it to have come all the way here, the vessel must have been in good condition and would have cost tens of thousands of ringgit.

Could it not have been seized and given to poor fishermen to earn a living and contribute to the fishing industry?

With the economy the way it is now, how many fishermen are able to expand their business or buy a replacement for their rickety boats?

Even if the authorities felt that it was necessary to send a deterrent message to other potential trespassers, they could have stripped the boat first before burning it.

Apart from its engine, the nets, winch and other apparatus should be worth a pretty sum and could have been given to locals who need, but cannot afford, such equipment.

This medieval act of "burning the enemy's ship" is overzealous and wasteful.

Petaling Jaya]]>
Letters Thu, 31 Aug 2017 11:37:08 +0000 theSundaily 477062 at
Cycle to the train station
How people respond remains to be seen but certainly it is a positive move to create conditions conducive for better connectivity.

But we do not have the infrastructure to encourage a bicycle culture such as proper cycle paths, wide side roads and proper sidewalks.

Looking at the traffic scenario in Puchong, it would be an interesting case study to implement the bicycle-sharing concept to improve the linkage to LRT stations six, seven and eight.

Ridership at these stations can be said to fall short of expectation as evident by the empty stations during non-peak hours.

Better connectivity to these stations from the neighbourhood housing estates is notably inadequate.

Cycling will help address traffic woes in high density built-up urban areas.

Besides being toll-free, environmentally friendly, it also promotes a health lifestyle.

The introduction of the bicycle sharing concept is timely. There is nothing to lose but more to gain, if successfully implemented to reduce the large number of single-occupant private vehicles hogging roads during the rush hour.

Eddy Ng Soon Hoh
Letters Thu, 31 Aug 2017 11:37:08 +0000 theSundaily 477063 at