MADN( Majelis Adat Dayak Nasional) led by their Leader, BAPA Agustin Teras Narang, who is also the present Governor of Kalimantan Tengah, came to visit Sarawak and Sabah to meet their DAYAK counterparts here in Kuching as well as in Kota Kinabalu to-night as well as to see our beautiful CAT city of Kuching in a chartered flight from KALTEN bringing 150 tourists to Merdeka Palace Apartments. They were met and received by the Reception Committee comprising of members from the various Dayak Organizations in Sarawak based in Kuching at the Kuching International Airport led by Sarawak Dayak National Organization(SDNU). They were given a Dinner at Dewan Suarah Kuching, where eighty (80) tables were taken up with many requests turned down because it was a full house already. There were also guests from Kalimantan Barat attending the dinner. The rest were local Dayaks from various walk of life.
For it is a DAY to remember. It took over sixty years before I met counterparts from Kalimantan on a private visit and received by SDNU leaders and I got invited by them without fear or favor. While it sad to see certain leaders who were also invited but failed to turn up at the dialogue session at the Merdeka Palace but also at the dinner. One Honorable Member got his name on the head table but failed to turn up at the last minute because he must have miss the significance of Dayak leaders from various parts of Borneo Island just to sit down, talk and eat together and also to enjoy whatever cultural performances they can put up for show or have a unfortunate real last minute emergency.
It was a very good and busy day, December 4th 2008. It is day when things materialized into being which clearly justify the need for the struggle for a better future for all Malaysians, especially Malaysians of Sarawak and Sabah origins who are being downgraded to as “OTHERS” to go on.
First was the front page news in our local paper, The Borneo Post, Thursday December 4, 2008 reflecting both the Federal and State level views which contribute to our present level of development, socially, economically, politically and physically. My good friend Datuk Shahrir Samad, Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, made the headliner by announcing ‘FLOAT’ or “FLOOR” options on the pricing for petrol and diesel to be decided by the NEAC (National Economic Action Council) meeting on the 10th of this month and they could not do it in their last meeting on Monday because it could NOT be discussed then because their meeting was focussed on “the country’s security situation”. What security situation deserving all the attention of an Economic Action Council- national security vis-a-vis political security of BN or economic security because of the Credit Crunch in the US? If it is economic security, doesn’t petrol and Diesel prices affect economic security of the whole country? If it is National Security, is it the right Committee to decide?
Let us assume it is about the Economic Security of Malaysia… Isn’t then the price of petrol and diesel either guarantees or leaves to a lot of speculation to the Transportation costs of all GOODS and SERVICES? Hopefully Honorable Members of both the Ruling and Opposing parties in the Parliament realize once and for all that an increase of 10 cents per liter in price of both commodities brought about an immediate price for all commodities to whatever level the consumers can pay throughout the country but when the prices of same went down by 50 cents per liter, no decrease even in the price of rice etc. In Sarawak, even the price of cement controlled by CMS (Cahaya Mata Sarawak), ?AIR MATA ORANG SARAWAK??, has gone up according to one contractor because of the increased price of Petrol and diesel, but with the present decrease of Transportation costs, the increased price remained… WHO NEEDS THAT EXTRA MONEY?, by the way….
Secondly, it appears certainly that the leadership doesn’t know what is good for all Malaysians. By suggesting ‘floating’ as an option, it clearly shows that there is little understanding by the policy makers the interplay of the costs of transportation affecting the daily lives of all Malaysians. By floating the price there is no way that businessmen, industrialists, manufacturers can budget their transportation costs in the next few months, year or years. So is it the duty of a BN led Government to give a stable guide to them every six, twelve or twenty four months as to their pricing of their goods… bearing in mind that once they put up their prices, it will seldom be brought down again thus making BN the right to earn the title of “Barang Naik”.
On the other hand, if BN wants to cool and stabilize the markets and help all Malaysians, then it should focus on what can be done to reduce the burden of increased prices of transportation from all consumers. In order to achieve this, Economic team should be asked to project and determine what the Government can afford to subsidize the cost of petrol and diesel and set the price it can afford to shoulder bearing in mind should the price of crude goes down in the future and when there are savings made, then that savings be used to prop up the buying power of the RM.
To date economically, we can give all the excuses for not being able to keep in pace with the Singapore dollar. When I was in power from 1987 to 1995, I was very careful about the one “CENT” in contract awards,etc… to the level that people even complained to friends like Datuk Ang Lai Soon who eventually asked me one Chinese Year in my visit to his house, ” Patau, why are you so strict about contracts?”. In fact alluding me as being “miser and stingy” with the “public purse”.
I told him, “Look Datuk, you and the people have made me the custodian of your money and your wealth and I have the responsibility and authority to look after your RM… if I don’t insist on looking after your money conservatively and well, the day will come when our RM will be WORTH LESS than 50 cents Singapore!… If that happens it will be a burden to all as the prices of goods and services will go up but the increase in earnings may not match up to the increase in prices…”. What happened after I got booted out by my more liberal colleagues in BN where you can get 1.0 million anytime even if the price is actually less that as long as their political costs are duly by their BN contractors, because our former State Minister of Finance did remarked angrily in front of my friend, “What is one hundred Thousand?” just because his proposal to spend that money on extending the car park of Sarawak Club didn’t get through. Malaysia would have gone down to the dogs earlier if our first Finance Minister, the late Tan Siew Sin and first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, didn’t value our Malaysian Dollar then. Imagine Tunku sacrificed thirteen shophouses to bring Independence to the Federation of Malaya but in the end, Sarawak had to allocate fund for his retirement house in Penang after he retired because his residence then was worse than what most of our Ministers now have!
I knew why contractors and businessmen wanted me out.. but to me I had to be “clean” and I could not just give them anything or any amount they asked just because they could offer me “kickbacks” worth anywhere from 5-10% cut anytime. I am pretty sure if I were to put up the price to double and asked 110% they could also do it. Of course then, I would have had plenty of money to spent on drinking, womanizing, …. hopefully had if I did it, ahem — I would not be caught on video like Chua “kolek???”, the present Deputy President of MCA and had to go through the humiliation he had to go through. He survives politically now only because MCA delegates are very understanding and very forgiving… of course also supporting indirectly the idea of infidelity is all right as long as your family forgives you… Sure, but we must remember all Muslims have legal quota for three wifes… but can Malaysia afford to have leaders who must be given the rights to womanize and have as many wives as possible at the expense of increased political costs… remember corruption is NOT possible in Malaysia as long as you can “DECLARE YOUR INTERESTS in any CONTRACTS or Awards” and your senior/junior colleagues approve them for you. In the infamous case of Rafidah, she even sat through the meeting after she declared her interests while her deputy approved the “shares” to her son-in-law.
So why the ‘float’ or ‘floor’? Tau sama Tau lah… because my good friend continued and said, “The real issue here is how much price should be reduced so that consumers could keep their money for spending or saving, and HOW MUCH SHOULD GO TO THE GOVERNMENT COFFERS for development and other purposes?” Who coffers really my friend needs to fill now… for or anti KJ group???? What a dilemma he has to face…. I thought that he went to the “LAUNDRY Business” after fell out of favor with the fall of MUSA in the eighties… as he told me one day jokingly “that doing laundry business is to clean up DIRTY POLITICIANS”. Wonder though whether the “laundry Machines” are still functioning? What is happening to our “Mr.CLEAN”?
The question remains whether this type of leadership in our economy is good for our effort to build a better future for Malaysia? Furthermore whether to have Dayak leaders who are fearful of BN leadership for personal political survival is good for our country, especially for Sarawak?