Sunday, July 25, 2010

Of Jedi Knights

I am aware that our mainstream newspapers have gleefully reported that most Malaysians are supportive of the government’s subsidy cuts that took effect from July 16, 2010. This is more so when it is recognized that the quantum of the subsidy cuts were less than those suggested by the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) and did not embrace all the items (only fuel and sugar, to start with) that were labeled under the bad subsidies category. I was reading Anna Taing’s column “Random Thoughts” with just a bit more interest because she too was of the opinion that “subsidy cuts will not result in any ‘tangible’ savings at a time when the government is already running a deficit. It just enables the government to spend the money it does not have…” (The Edge Malaysia, July 19, 2010, p 8). But what made my eyes open wide were the figures she gave in her article. She stressed that this subsidy reduction of RM780 million is really not significant – she asked readers to “compare this to the leakages due to corruption – statistics have shown this amount is as high as RM10 billion a year! And consider the quantum of gas subsidies that are given to the power sector, in particular, the independent power producers, which amounted to some RM12.7 billion in 2009” (ibid). That’s why I have steadfastly maintained – the powers that be must exorcise the evils of government corruption, cronyism, etc before they make the move to eliminate bad subsidies. Only then can the government make the claim that they have the people's interests at heart! Duh!

Further to my blog posting dated July 11, 2010 – here’s another reason why the traditional census is dying, and a good thing too. “Filling in the forms has become more onerous: what started as a short questionnaire about who lived where has turned into an inquisition about everything from toilet and car ownership to race and religion. As a result, compliance rates are falling. The decline of deference raises worries about reliability” (The Economist, July 17-23, 2010, p 14). This is not just applicable to the UK – which the above passage describes – but it is also true of MaIaysia too – where the 3-part Questionnaire consists of 20 pages in total!
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And just to take the mickey out of this bloated exercise, last time, when asked about their religious affiliation, 0.7% of Britons replied that they were Jedi Knights (ibid).
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I wonder too if the Malaysian constitution mandates this census. The US constitution requires it to conduct this shoe-leather exercise, which is why, according to The Economist – this year’s effort is going to cost American taxpayers over $11 billion! (ibid)

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