Hornbill Unleashed

November 26, 2011

‘What happened to Malaysia?’

Filed under: Alternatives,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:00 AM
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Mimi Chih

How is it that the cost of so many basic food items and day to day consumable items end up being so much more expensive in Malaysia compared to Singapore?

How does one measure the success of a country? To the people, it is reflected in their overall standard of living.

Not every country is lucky enough to have a team of intelligent people whose passionate objectives drive them to make their country a better place to live – for everyone.

Singapore is one such country. Today this island republic has one of the highest standard of living in Southeast Asia.

When Tunku Abdul Rahman decided to expel Singapore from the Federation of Malaya leading to its independence on Aug 9, 1965, the world did not expect this tiny island republic with a population of 1.8 million then to stand tall as one of the original Four Asian Tigers, along with Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan 46 years later.

Which Malaysian could have imagined that some 46 years after the split, Singapore’s exchange rate to the ringgit would hit a dizzying rate of RM2.41 (as at Nov 11, 2011)?

The last time the Singapore dollar (SGD) was almost on part with the ringgit (RM) was in August 1972 when SGD 100 was equivalent to RM100.10.

For an average wage earner in Singapore, making SGD2,500 a month, going for a 10 days holiday to the US or Australia or Europe once a year is a relatively small matter.

Annoying issues

So what happened to Malaysia? In 1965 when Singapore was expelled, Malaysia had everything that the island republic glaringly lacked – ample land, a plethora of natural resources, an operating government, and 9.3 million people.

Unfortunately, in the 46 years that has come to past, Malaysia has been bogged down by a number of issues which are clearly distracting the government from doing what it is supposed to be doing.

The ruling government (Umno-Barisan Nasional) in Malaysia is debating whether education in English would be significantly beneficial to the rakyat.

The opposition PAS is vehement in wanting to forcibly implement the hudud laws and banning Elton John from performing in Malaysia because of his sexual orientation and the Obedient Wives Club’s proposition that Muslim women should be obedient and strive to approach sex with their hubbies not just on a physical level but on the higher spiritual realm.

Then there are also questions posed to DAP’s national chairman Karpal Singh by MCA’s leader Dr Chua Soi Lek.

Chua wants to know whether a non-Muslim should first convert to Islam if they wanted to be deputy prime minister should Pakatan become the ruling government.

These are just a handful of endless annoying issues which Umno has had to deal with on a daily basis.

RM pales to SGD

In 2011 Singapore’s population stands at 5.18 million (63% are Singaporean citizens while 37% are permanent residents).

Malaysia’s population as at July 2011 is 28.73 million. Without getting into advanced mathematical calculations, one would deduce that economies of scale would be more achievable in the country that has 28.73 million people versus 5.18 million.

But this is not the case.

The cost of living is relative to the ability to earn. Lets establish the value of currency in terms of the wage rate (Malaysia does not have a minimum wage rate yet).

In Singapore the average general worker such as a merchandiser in a supermarket or department store or the cashier serving you at Mc Donald’s earns SGD5.50 – 6.00 per hour.

In Malaysia similar positions start at RM4 – 6 per hour.

But take a look at how much things cost in Malaysia. A kopi si peng (iced coffee) costs between SGD0.90 to SGD1.20 in clean coffee shops or food courts in Singapore.

In Malaysia the same kopi si peng in coffee shops or food courts costs RM1.80 to RM2.00.

A Chinese roasted duck costs SGD18-25 each . In Malaysia, at the market rate of RM48 per bird, eating roasted duck is a luxury.

Better consumer value in Singapore

As my niece, who graduated with an accounting degree and ACCA cert from Sunway College two years ago, is fond of saying: “A person earning peanuts (SGD peanuts, OK) in Singapore can still afford to buy Peter Pan Honey Roasted Peanut Butter imported from the US.

“A Malaysian earning peanuts in Malaysia can’t even afford to smell any peanut butter…SGD10 in Singapore goes a lot further than RM10 in Malaysia!” says my niece.

Needless to say, Malaysia has already lost her to Singapore – talk about brain drain. More than 13 young accounting graduates from her circle of friends have eagerly taken the same path.

How is it that the cost of so many basic foods and day to day consumable items end up being so much more expensive in Malaysia?

Malaysian politicians need to start talking in a meaningful language to the people.

For a start, they can talk in terms of bringing down the cost of foods and consumables in Malaysia while striving for a decent standard.

The rakyat will surely want to listen to the party that can talk sense about making their RM10 go further than at its current limpy and lethargic rate.

It would be nice for average income earning Malaysians to be able to afford US made Peter Pan Honey Roasted Peanut Butter.

Don’t fret over issue

Forget the hudud laws for now. Being obedient wives is interesting…. but it’s not an urgent matter. Lets not fret on this issue.

And why must a capable non-Muslim candidate convert to Muslim to be the Deputy Prime Minister (of Malaysia)?

Also would converting to Muslim make the candidate a better Deputy Prime Minister?

Finally, do let Elton John dazzle the Malaysians for just one nite; he is not a terrorist. He is truly an accomplished, world class musician and entertainer.


  1. What happened to Malaysia? It has gone to the dogs. Wake up Malaysians.

    Comment by Lee Hui — November 27, 2011 @ 4:10 PM | Reply

  2. …but there are some super brave ones who stay in Malaysia to fight the crooks too . I really hope they will win the fight soon.

    Comment by KHC — November 27, 2011 @ 2:01 PM | Reply

  3. The smart Malaysian moved to Singapore or overseas. The poor and igonrant ones stay behind and keep voting for Tiab and BN believing in all their stories.

    Comment by KHC — November 27, 2011 @ 1:58 PM | Reply


    The article asks a question which the Sabah and Sarawak people have been asking for 48 years about why the cost of living suddenly rose not long after coming under UMNO rule in 1963.

    While there were and are external and internal economic factors causing inflation, the major reason began with the British colonial enforced creation of “Malaysia” in 1963.

    The North Bornean/Kalimantan independence movement had denounced “Malaysia” as a neo-colonial scheme which would see more plunder of our resources. Since 1963 we have been plundered by UMNO and the local ruling elites of our oil and timber and this plunder is a major contributing factor to local poverty and the high cost of living.

    Superimposed over the neo-colonial structure is UMNO’s creation of the 1969 NEP/Apartheid system. Corruption has been grossly magnified as a result of the UMNO patronage/crony system which operates in Malaya and the Borneo colonies.

    We are paying to be being re-colonized.

    The then Singapore leadership had more or less willingly “joined Malaysia” bearing in mind that Lee Kuan Yew had pushed matters along with the suppression and imprisonment of the Singapore opposition to “Malaysia”. This had largely to do with the Opposition support of the Malayan national liberation war fought against British rule of Malaya since 1948.

    The opposition in Malaya and Singapore had also opposed the British/UMMNO political Malaysia machination as purely to consolidate their colonial interests and demanded real independence without foreign control. The British did just the opposite in Malaya by installing their puppet UMNO regime in power in 1957.

    The North Kalimantan opposition to “Malaysia” erupted into the anti-Malaysia Brunei Independence Uprising in December 1962 and ensuing people’s guerrilla independence war till 1990.

    “Malaysia” was incorporated in September 1963 with Malaya Singapore Sabah and Sarawak after suppression of the Brunei Uprising. Brunei was left out.  Almost immediately what was in reality a “shot gun marriage” broke down.

    Singapore leaders realised that their imprisoned Opposition was correct in saying that “Malaysia” was a re-colonization scheme. UMNO tried to dominate the Singapore government and people instead of treating them as “equals” as agreed. It was no good for them. The most positive thing Singaporeans did was to “get Singapore out of Malaysia”.

    Today we can all see independent Singapore a tiny territory with practically no natural resources other then hard working people marching past “Malaysia” in social-economic progress.

    True the PAP regime was and is still as repressive as UMNO in its effort to monopolise state power.

    But having to operate in very confined space with a big population the Singapore solution was “reverse socialism”. No matter how fiercely their leaders opposed and sought to defeat socialist ideals, they actually had to re-construct Singapore society into a “corporate system” with semi “socialistic” aspects and Singapore characteristics. The repressive British created legal system is however still in place.

    By skilful economic management Singapore somehow re-invented itself and “prospered” while across the causeway UMNO re-invented and undermined the whole country on the steep downhill road with its rampant corruption.

    In democratic Malaysia “Corruption” is the key word to understanding why Malayans and the Sabah and Sarawak colonies are facing crazy inflation and high cost of living.

    For example Sabahans have been paying for this corruption with high costs of living whereby they have been charged 4 times the cost of everything transported from Malaya. It is buried in a word called “cabotage”. Malayan UMNO controlled transport companies are charging more than double for cabotage and the Borneo colonies are paying for it.

    This is called “creaming or milking the system”.

    The plundering of Sabah and Sarawak resources such as timber and oil has immensely compounded the employment and poverty situation with thousands of landless ulu people in the 2 colonies. Land robberies by local ruling elites and oil thefts by UMNO are the major causes of poverty and “high cost of living”. When you are poor everything is “costly”!
    The high cost of fuel is another major complain of the people.

    Both Sabah and Sarawak are big oil producers but the people have to pay more for fuel.

    Since the 1970s UMNO has seized control of the Borneo oil fields and taken all the profits. Fuel became ridiculously expensive. The people should have cheap petrol and fuel etc. like the Bruneians.

    In addition, dams have mushroomed in both colonies at the expense of ulu landowners robbed of their land. But the poor do not get cheap electricity. So the high price of say domestic power supply etc is unnecessarily hiked up by those who own the means of power production while industries controlled by them get cheaper rates!
    Such issues have been frequently raised by both Sabah and Sarawak political commentators.

    A paper called the “Root causes of Poverty in Sabah and Sarawak by Daniel J. Jambun has been widely published (on the internet): http://borneoherald.blogspot.com/

    The writer said in his article: “The poverty figures should come as no surprise since both Sabah and Sarawak are actually colonies of Peninsular Malaysia. More on that shortly.”

    This colonization has stirred Sabahans to call for independence. Sabah website “The Spirit of Sabahans” calls on Sabahans and Sarawakians to “Keluar Malaysia”. Get out of Malaysia. http://despiritofsabahan.blogspot.com/

    In looking at why we suffer from a high cost of living we not only take into account of the current ongoing world recession but must look at the internal factors that are EXACERBATING this situation.

    Comment by anon — November 26, 2011 @ 10:50 PM | Reply


    (This comment by another writer explores how corruption works and affect the ordinary people)

    This might be an old news but good to “revisit”….. In many ways, we have always been a GOOD Paymaster…. sick.
    The Pharmaceutical Scam

    There is a company that imports medicines from India and sells it to Government hospitals.

    India is now a major pharmaceutical power in the world and it manufactures high quality drugs but very cheaply. This particular company buys the drugs in India at a cost of about RM10.00 per pack. They say that if they can sell their imported medicine directly to the Gomen hospital, they will charge the Gomen about RM15.00 per pack – which means they slap on a 50% markup to cover transportation, expenses and of course some profit for them.

    But the drug is actually sold to the Gomen hospitals for RM45. Here is how it happens. The importing company cannot sell the drugs directly to the Gomen. They must go through Pharmniaga Bhd which we all know is an UMNO company. Its Directors include UEM boss Dato Ahmad Pardas Senin, failed outsourcing guru Dato Azman Yahya and UMNO henchman Dato Raja Nong Chik.

    But even here the company cannot sell the drugs directly to Pharmniaga at RM15. They first have to sell their drugs to yet another crony company which is “connected” to Pharmniaga. So the crony intermediary buys the drugs first at RM15.00 and then sells it to Pharmniaga at a mark up of say RM30.00. This is how cronies do business..its called ” rent-seeking ” no need to sweat or take risks , just collect , collect , collect ! They pretend that this is NEP.

    The interesting thing is this is just a paper transaction. They may not even take physical possession of the drugs. They may just tell the importing company to deliver the drugs directly to Pharmniaga.

    They just bill Pharmniaga and cream off the difference. Now kawan-kawan, this has been going on for donkey years since Pharmniaga was set up in the 1990s.

    Then Pharmniaga finally sells the drug to the Gomen hospitals for RM45.00 a pack. And who pays for all this creaming off? Its you and me Encik Taxpayer. We are the suckers.

    Air Asia Creaming Off More Money

    Here is a follow up on the Air Asia story that appeared earlier. When Air Asia took over the Sabah and Sarawak routes, they also took over seven airplanes from MAS. But when they returned the routes to MAS about a year later, only one plane was in flying condition. The other six planes had been cannibalised for parts or were under serious repair. Air Asia saved tens of millions of Ringgit (RM50 mill or so) from this underhand business tactic and simply passed the cost of repair back to MAS.

    Everything was approved by Badawi the Finance Minister and his Deputy Nor Mohamed Yakob. But this is not the end of the story.

    The Finance Ministry official who gave me this news said that when Air Asia first took over the hinterland routes in Sabah and Sarawak they also demanded compensation from the Gomen. They told the Gomen that Sabah and Sarawak air routes were not profitable and had to be subsidised. Ok but how much? RM70 million per year!! And Air Asia wanted to be paid upfront! And they got it. The Gomen paid them the RM70 million subsidy up front, signed off by Nor Mohd Yakob.

    To be fair MAS has also been paid subsidies by the Gomen to operate the Sabah & Sarawak routes but the Finance Ministry official says that throughout the entire history of MAS, the highest subsidy paid by the Gomen to MAS was a maximum RM14 million only. And the subsidy was always paid to MAS at the end of the financial year, after MAS had finalised its audited accounts. And during the years when MAS was profitable no subsidies were paid to MAS by the Gomen. Subsidies were only paid in those years when MAS made slim profits or suffered losses.

    But here we have Air Asia getting an upfront subsidy of RM70 million. Who paid for that ? Err that’s our money lah Encik Taxpayer. And Tony Fernandez gets all the fantastic ‘entrepreneur’ awards! Pi-dah mabuk!

    Now after the elections let’s have another Royal Commission of Inquiry okay?

    Express yourself instantly with MSN Messenger! MSN Messenger

    Please help to spread the message if you wish to see changes for a better Malaysia. Forward in BCC to everyone in your email contacts list, asking them to send out via their email list too, so that more people will come out to vote wisely in the 13th General Election for the sake of your present and future generations.

    Reposted by Econ101

    Comment by ECONOMICS101 — November 26, 2011 @ 1:19 PM | Reply

  6. What happened to SPDP?

    Peter, Tiki, Sylvester …?

    Tiong no worry …BN/PKFZ took out billions of Sukuk Bonds for Mawan and him. So not haram! SNAP and X-SNAPs in trouble again!

    Comment by snakes — November 26, 2011 @ 11:23 AM | Reply

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