Let’s Complain About Retail Fuel Prices

Four days ago, just before the retail fuel price hike of six to seven Sen, the average price of retail petrol per litre was USD1.09 (RM4.59).

I won’t touch on the complexities of how we calculate how much we should be selling petrol week after week, but as a rule of thumb, countries that are richer (UK, France, Germany etc) have higher fuel prices. Countries that are less rich, or countries that produce and export oil, have lower fuel prices. The only exception is the US which is economically advanced but has low fuel prices.

How a country taxes or subsidises fuel contributes to the differences in fuel prices around the world. Since all countries have access to the same fuel prices of the international markets, it is taxes and/or subsidies contribute to the difference in retail fuel prices.

This is how Malaysia fares. If you don’t see the names of other countries then it means that fuel prices are actually much higher than Malaysia’s.

I saw ill-informed people saying that fuel prices and the cost of living in neighbouring Thailand are much lower than in Malaysia. There were also those who said that Malaysia should follow the global prices.

My question to them is: if fuel prices in Thailand are much lower, why do we find people smuggling fuel from Malaysia to Thailand and not the other way round?

And as for the cost of living, this is the cost of living indices for Malaysia versus Thailand:

Taking the last three months (from 7 August 2017 until 13 November 2017), the average price of fuel in Malaysia was around RM2.18 per litre with the lowest being RM2.07 per litre on 7 August 2017 and highest at RM2.31 per litre on 13 November 2017.

The average price of fuel per litre on the international markets for the duration was at RM5.84. So, would those asking Malaysia to follow the international markets prices want to pay this sum per litre?

I hope that these gullible Malaysians would pause to breathe and check the “facts” that are being shared in chat groups and social media before hitting that “SHARE/FORWARD” button.

But that is like hoping to see anencephalic babies become Einsteins.

The Rotten Core

Rotting Apple Core (courtesy of Science Learning Hub)

It is no surprise that the recent DAP CEC election has retained some 90 percent of its line up.  Despite being a dinosaur and having manouvered the DAP through its mother-of-all-U-turns by working with arch-nemesis Mahathir Mohamad, Lim Kit Siang emerged victorious with the most number of votes.  His son, Guan Eng, despite being charged on two counts of corruption, came out third and was returned as the Secretary-General of the party.

Returned after being missing for a term is Selangor’s Ronnie Liu who is famous for trying to stop the authorities from raiding brothels and gambling dens in Selangor before DAP came into power.  The ousted included the man who is the symbol of cleanliness, moderation and a corrupt-free DAP – Tan Seng Giaw.

And as for its multiracial image, only two Indians and one Punjabi were elected but not one Malay made it to the Top 20 – again, but former DAP Pahang Chairman Tengku Zulpuri Shah bin Tengku Puji was appointed Vice-Chairman.  He is the sole Malay in the CEC line-up.  Christopher Ross Lim, the Chinese man masquerading as Malay going by the name Zairil Khir Johari, made it at No. 19. He was born a Chinese and remains a Chinese.

Only 54 percent or 1,356 delegates attended the CEC elections out of 2,514 delegates in 2013.  This shows that the support for the Lim Dynasty is waning. They can bask in party glory now but whether that will translate into actual votes especially in Pulau Pinang remains to be seen.  With only 450,000 registered members, DAP relies more on its propaganda to win over the masses, who of late are drowning in flood waters and overwhelmed by landslides due to the over-development of the hills and reclamation works in Pulau Pinang.

And to appease the spirit of a dead man, the three-year dead Karpal Singh managed to get 43 votes, more than any of the Malay candidates.  How Karpal could still get votes baffles me.

This sums up the image of the DAP – rotten to the core.

Mahathir Masih Hina Bugis Dan Rakyat Indonesia

Mahathir Mohamad baru-baru ini mengirim seutus surat kepada DUBES Malaysia di Jakarta kerana diminta menjelaskan mengenai kenyataan beliau mengenai ‘Lanun Bugis’.

Beliau langsung tidak rasa bersalah dengan kenyataan tersebut dan tetap dengan pendirian beliau bahawa Najib Razak adalah keturunan lanun Bugis.

Lanun wujud tanpa mengenali kaum dan bangsa, dan mengaitkan Bugis dengan lanun walaupun bukan kesemuanya adalah penghinaan yang nyata.

Malah, Mahathir selain menghina kaum Bugis, beliau dengan angkuhnya menghina rakyat Indonesia tanpa mahu meminta maaf di atas penghinaan terdahulu.

Tak usahlah cucuk orang Indonesia. Mereka bukan boleh undi PRU (Pemilu) 14.”

Jelas Mahathir tidak mahu melayan permintaan DUBES Malaysia yang mahu meredakan kemaharan rakyat Indonesia terhadap Mahathir yang telah menghina orang Bugis. Pendapat rakyat Indonesia tidak penting bagi Mahathir kerana mereka tidak akan mengundi dalam PRU (Pemilu) ke-14 nanti.

Inilah perangai Mahathir, orang yang malu dikaitkan dengan keturunannya sendiri.

A Flood Of Incompetence

I am surprised that a former Brigadier General doesn’t know that you cannot simply deploy the military without explicit instructions

Former army Brigadier turned politician, Arshad Raji, seems to like the attention the electronic media has been according him lately, and he speaks about a wide spectrum of issues – from falling for Mahathir’s fake news of the so-called withdrawal of his close police protection, to the management of the floods in Pulau Pinang.

In the latter issue it was as if he was trying to downplay the Deputy Prime Minister and the BN-led Federal Government’s involvement in the management of the floods.  He was right about some of it, though.  Under the National Security Council Directive No.20, when a state emergency is declared following a disaster affecting two districts or more, the State Disaster Management Committee can call for assistance in the form of assets, finance, and other resources on the state level, and limited form of assistance from federal agencies within the state – the police, armed forces, civil defence etc.  This does not require a call to the Deputy Prime Minister at all.

Look at Level II Disaster Management by the State

The State Disaster Management Committee is chaired by the Chief Minister or Menteri Besar while the Chief Executive is the State Secretary.  But what Arshad Raji did not know, or chose to not reveal during his “press conference” was the fact that until now Lim Guan Eng has not declared a state of emergency in Pulau Pinang despite floods inundating four out of five districts in Pulau Pinang namely Seberang Prai Utara, Seberang Prai Selatan, Barat Daya and Timur Laut.

Don’t blame the Federal Government. Tokong himself did not declare a state of emergency

I lived in Pulau Pinang, on the pulau itself for three years and four months in the late 1980s and never once saw floods affecting the state on this level.  The most I would see is pockets of areas in Datuk Keramat and the Green Lane (Jalan Masjid Negeri) – Jalan Air Itam junction near the State Mosque.  Even then you could still pass the areas on your motorcycle.  Having eight deaths because of floods in a year was unheard of (one died earlier in September while seven this time around).

No rain, no floods” seems to be the best of Lim Guan Eng’s quotes pertaining to floods in Pulau Pinang.  This time, the deluge is blamed on a tyhoon that is battering Vietnam, and rightfully so.  Every time a typhoon hits Vietnam, the northern Peninsular states would receive an extra amount of rainfall.  And since 1881, Vietnam has been battered by 68 typhoons excluding the one that has just hit them.  However, the shocking bit is where 119 flash floods have hit Pulau Pinang since 2013!  That is 2.5 flash floods per month for the last four years!

I wonder why this is the case of late?

It does not take an engineer to tell you that when you do excessive hillside developments, the soil cannot absorb the rainwater as the oxidised topsoil would be transformed into a clay-like material.  The run-offs would be washed into monsoon drains, clogging up the roadside gutters and making the storm sewers shallower as silt accumulates at the bottom.  These drains flow out to sea along natural coastlines, which is why monsoon drains act as gravity sewers.  In Pulau Pinang, you can hardly find a natural coastline as most beaches with gradient have been reclaimed, and the gradient tapers off, diminishing the gravity effect.  Storm water therefore does not flow into the sea but accumulates and saturates the flatter grounds causing floods.

But who cares about eight deaths this year due to floods and one last year when you can make money selling condominium units to the rich?  But it is this excessive development by the state government that was voted in by the Pulau Pinang people that is now killing the Pulau Pinang people and have caused untold miseries.

Everyone also knows that when it is the new moon or full moon, tides will be higher than usual, and that makes it harder for storm drains and rivers to flow water out to sea, what more when there is excessive water caused by the backlash of a typhoon.

Phases of the moon for November 2017

You can see that from 1 November 2017 the moon was in an advanced waxing gibbous phase and full moon over Georgetown, Pulau Pinang occured at 12.40am on Saturday, 4 November 2017.  The Malaysian Meteorological Department had issued a series of bad weather warnings for the northern Peninsular states from 31 October 2017, and every day from then on.

Met Department warning for the northern states on 31 October 2017
Met department warning the northern states that the bad weather was going to last at least four days from 1 November 2017
Another Met department warning on 2 November 2017 reminding the northern states that the bad weather was going to last at least four days until 4 November 2017
Another Met department warning issued on 3 November 2017 for the northern states that the bad weather was going to last at least until 4 November 2017

You can see that there was ample warning by the Malaysian Meteorological Department that the weather was going to be bad for four days.  What did Lim Guan Eng or his State Disaster Management Committee do?  Nothing, until it got really bad.  And at 3.00am, Lim Guan Eng became a cry baby and called the Deputy Prime Minister for help, without even declaring a state emergency.

Lim Guan Eng called the DPM for help at 3am on 5 November 2017, five days after the initial warning was issued by the Malaysian Meteorological Department

Where was his State Disaster Management Committee?  Why had they not sat down to make preparations to mitigate the situation?

Lim Guan Eng was quick to point fingers at Kelantan in the aftermath of the disastrous floods at the end of 2014.  He pointing out that corruption and the incompetency of the Kelantan state government, as well as the rampant hillside clearing as the causes of the floods.

Well, we know that there is rampant hillside clearing in Pulau Pinang.  We also know that the Chief Minister was charged on two accounts of corruption, and we also know now that it was the incompetency of the Pulau Pinang State Disaster Management Committee led by Lim Guan Eng himself as the Chairman that had caused the situation to be worse than it should be.

Lim Guan Eng’s government’s incompetence has killed one person in floods last year, 21 people in a landslide this year, and eight people in the recent floods.  This is the government that the Pulau Pinang people have voted in, and the Chief Minister chosen by them.

Pakatan’s promise
Pakatan’s promise
Pakatan’s promise

119 flash floods have occured since the promises above was made.  And Lim Guan Eng’s government is not worried.  Going by the rate the floods are killing people, there won’t be that many people left to complain about the floods – problem solved.

The Creeping of the Republicans

The Republican Creeps

I blame our history books.  In our eagerness to instill the spirit of nationalism, we took an easy way out by saying that we were colonised by the British, when in actual fact the whole of Malaya came under British rule only during the Malayan Union period.  Only Melaka, Pulau Pinang, Singapore, and for a while Pangkor and the Dindings were under the direct rule of Britain when they were  part of the Strait Settlements.  Other than that, the British advisers administered the Malay states through treaties, and the administrators were under the payroll of the respective Sultans or Rajas, not the British.

One of the leading evidence of the sovereignty and independence of the Malay states was a landmark case in England where in 1885 the Sultan Abu Bakar of Johor went to England, and according to the plaintiff of the case, Miss Mighell, took the name Albert Baker and promised to marry her.

It was held by court that the Sultan was entitled to immunity even though up to the time of suit ‘he has perfectly concealed the fact that he is a sovereign, and has acted as a private individual.’ ‘When once there is the authoritative certificate of the Queen (Victoria) through her minister of state as to the status of another sovereign, that in the courts of this country is decisive’.

To an argument that Sultan Abu Bakar had waived this immunity, the court held that the only way that a sovereign could waive immunity was by submitting to jurisdiction in the face of the court as, for example, by appearance to a writ. If the sovereign ignored the issue of the writ, the court was under a duty of its own motion to recognise his immunity from suit.

The roles of the Malay Rulers are somewhat misunderstood.  While many often think that the Institution of the Rulers mirror that of the British’s Westminster-style monarchy, it is not.  The Rulers ruled this land even when the British were here to administer the land on behalf of The Majesties.

When 31 August 1957 arrived, the powers that the Rulers had invested in the British was duly transferred to a government that was chosen by the people through a process of democracy called Elections.  It is untrue that during the British administration of this land, and now, that the Rulers have no other power other than having a say in the matters of the Religion of Islam and the Malay custom.

The Rulers, as keepers of this land, continue to enjoy their position with their income regulated by the respective laws, and receive advice from the Menteris Besar (or in the case of the Yang DiPertuan Agong, the Prime Minister). This is evident in Article 181(1) of the Federal Constitution which states:

Subject to the provisions of this Constitution,” the “sovereignty, prerogatives, powers and jurisdiction of the Rulers…as hitherto had and enjoyed shall remain unaffected.

The same was noted by Mark R Gillen of the Faculty of Law, University of Victoria (Gillen 1994:7). In the words of the late Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah, former Lord President, it is:

a mistake to think that the role of a King, like that of a President, is confined to what is laid down by the Constitution, His role far exceeds those constitutional provisions” (Azlan Shah 1986:89)

In other words, the Rulers may be Constitutional Monarchs, but they are not limited to what have been spelt out in the Federal Constitution.

When Syed Saddiq, the runner for Mahathir wrote to the Sultan of Selangor after His Royal Highness expressed great displeasure over Mahathir’s labelling of the Bugis as “pirates who should return to their own land” and pleaded for the Sultan’s support to “fight against corruption and injustice with the people” it shows this great-person-wannabe’s lack of understanding of the position of the Rulers in the Federal Constitution.

The Rulers are apolitical.  The Rulers do not take sides, or do not express openly whom they prefer over those they do not.  For instance, when the Menteri Besar of Selangor does something that is deemed un-Menteri Besar-like, the most the Sultan would do is to express a reminder for the Menteri Besar to improve his performance so that the lives of the subjects of His Royal Highness are not in any way adversely affected.  To encourage certain courses of action is part of the duty of a Sultan, but the Sultan is above politics.

In the words of Sultan Nazrin Muizuddin Shah of Perak in July 2011:

Rulers must use wisdom to calm situations, but they do not have a ‘magic lamp’ to keep unity, especially when the situation has become chaotic.

When racial strife hit Malaysia on 13th May 1969, the Sultan of Terengganu as well as other Rulers took steps to protect their non-Malay rakyats (Kobkua Suwannathat-Pian, Faculty of Humanities, Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris, Kobkua 2011:364). This goes to affirm the special press statement made by the Conference of Rulers in October 2008 explaining that the Institution of Rulers is a “protective umbrella ensuring impartiality among the citizens.”

After 2008, we have witnessed how lawmakers from a certain party have been rude towards the Malay Rulers, forgetting their place in the Federa Constitution.  The Rukunegara  – means nothing to them: there is no Loyalty to the lawmakers themselves are rarely guided by the belief in God as they lie as if God does not exist, they show no loyalty to King and Country except when they need favours or awards which also means they do not subscribe to the supremacy of the Constitution, they don’t believe in the Rule of Law when it does not work according to their overall game plan, and by being rude to the authorities beginning with the Malay Rulers show that they do not practice courtesy and morality.

And are we surprised that we now have common people threatening the police, council enforcement officers, biting court officers, or show gross disrespect for the authority of the Malay Rulers?  They learn such absence of manners from their political idols.

If I were to write a letter to His Royal Highness The Sultan of Selangor, it would be to plead to His Royal Highness to pressure the authorities to hasten their investigation into the seditious nature of Mahathir’s remark.

ISA – Who Got To Play God

(This article appeared as a commentary on The Mole – 30 October 2017)

October 30, 2017

THIS would be my mellow version of the Ops Lalang.

The Internal Security Act, 1960 or the ISA, was probably the most draconian law to ever exist in Malaysia.  Prior to having the ISA, preventive detention was done through the Emergency Regulations Ordinance of 1948 aimed at combatting the communist threats.

With the end of the first Malayan Emergency in 1960, the Ordinance of 148 was done away with but was replaced with the ISA.  The mood of the period must be understood to see the reason for having such law.

Although the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) had lost the fight, the struggle was continued from across the Thai border by cadres, as well as their supporters (Min Yuen) in Malaya.  They penetrated unions, the press, as well as associations, causing occasional racial tensions in the country.

Pre-1970 Malaysia was not all dandy when it came to race relations.  The economic power was held by the Chinese since the days of the British administration while the Malays had been relegated to being farmers or lower ranking civil servants.

The Chinese immigrants first came to the Malay states in 1777, and first settled in the state of Perak in 1830 (Patrick Sullivan, 1982: 13). Within 44 years, they numbered 26,000 in Perak alone.  In 1921, the number of Chinese immigrants in the Malay states numbered 1,171,740.  Ten years later, it was 1,704,452. In 1941, it became 2,377,990 while the Malays were at 2,277,352 (Paul H Kratoska, 1997:318). The Malays remained as a minority until the census of 1970.

During the war, the Malays did not face much hardship as the Chinese did at the hands of the Japanese.

After the war, the CPM/MPAJA and their Chinese supporters took revenge on the Malays. In Batu Pahat, Muslims were forbidden from congregating at mosques or suraus to perform the Terawih prayers (Hairi Abdullah, 1974/5: 8-9).

The same occurred in Perak and some parts of Batu Pahat where Muslims were gunned down and burnt together with the mosque they were in during Friday prayers.

Mosques and suraus were often used as places of meeting for the Chinese community (WO 172/9773, No.30: 478) and were tainted by incidents such as slaughtering of pigs, and mosques’ compound was used to cook pork, where Malays were forced to join the larger Chinese groups. Pages were torn from the Quran to be used by the Chinese using these mosques as toilet paper.

Racial clashes had begun in September 1945 where Malays and Chinese clashed in Kota Bharu, Selama, Taiping, Sitiawan, Raub.

This culminated in the slaughter of Malays early one morning in a hamlet near Kuala Kangsar called Bekor where 57 men and women, and 24 children were killed by about 500 members of the CPM aided by 500 Chinese villagers from Kelian in March 1946 (CO 537/1580: 21 and Majlis, 24 Februari 1947:5).

All in all, 2,000 lives were lost.

Such was the mood and the ISA was introduced to also prevent further racial clashes by preventing instigators from achieving their objective whatever that may be.

Therefore, it was an Act of Parliament that was used to preserve public order and morals.  If one is to read the ISA thoroughly, then it would be easier to see that the Act was not just about detention without trial, but also as a weapon for the Royal Malaysian Police to nip any cancerous threat to public order and morals in the bud.

Datuk Seri (now Tun) Dr Mahathir Mohamad was Prime Minister as well as Home Minister when Ops Lalang was executed on Oct 26 1987 (arrests were made in the early morning of Oct 27).

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was Umno Youth chief and also Education Minister in Dr Mahathir’s Third Cabinet.

Anwar had made several unpopular moves that earned the wrath of the MCA such as the removal of crucifixes from missionary schools, introduction of Bahasa Malaysia as the medium of instruction for Tamil and Chinese studies at the University of Malaya, as well as the introduction of non-Chinese educated senior assistants and supervisors to Chinese vernacular schools.

Deputy MCA president Datuk Seri (now Tan Sri) Lee Kim Sai who was also Selangor MCA chief, on the other hand, had also uttered words implying that the Malays were also immigrants.

A 2,000-strong gathering by the Dong Jiao Zong that was also attended by the DAP, MCA and Gerakan was held and a resolution was made to call a three-day boycott by Chinese schools.

Umno Youth responded with a 10,000-strong gathering at the TPCA Stadium in Kampung Baru.  It is said that Dr Mahathir then instructed Datuk Seri (Tan Sri) Sanusi Junid, who was Umno  secretary-general then, to organise a rally of 500,000 members in Kuala Lumpur.

I remember feeling the tension in the air, especially when an army personnel, Private Adam Jaafar, ran amok with his M-16 in Kampung Baru, adding more fuel to a potentially explosive situation.

The senior police management met in Fraser’s Hill to plan and then launched Ops Lalang to prevent bloodshed.

Whether or not Dr Mahathir disagreed with the police for Ops Lalang to be launched, it must be remembered that even if the police had wanted to launch the operations unilaterally, Section 8(1) of the ISA specifically mentions that it is the Home Minister who, upon being satisfied that the detention of any person is necessary, may make an order for the person to be detained for a period of not more than two years.

According to Section 73 of the Act, the police were not given the power to detain a person for more than 30 days unless the Inspector-General of Police had reported of the detention and its reason to the Home Minister.

Nowhere does the Act mention that the Home Minister SHALL or MUST act as advised by the police.  The police provided the names in a list, with reasons why they should be or were detained, but only the Minister could sign the detention order.

Dr Mahathir may now claim that Ops Lalang was the police’s idea, which may be true.  But as mentioned at the beginning of this article that the ISA is an Act of Parliament giving powers to the police to diffuse potentially explosive situations and also to protect and preserve public safety and morals.

The police used the ISA during Ops Lalang as it was intended to be used (there were also detainees from Umno during the sweep), but the Home Minister was the one who played God, and decided whom to be released before the 60 days was up, and whom to hold up to two years.

And that Home Minister is the same unrepentant person now touted to become the next PM by the DAP.

Kemarau Perniagaan Di Malaysia?

Kedai-kedai runcit lama banyak yang tutup sekitar tahun 1980an disebabkan pertumbuhan pesat kompleks membeli-belah dan pasaraya-pasaraya (Gambar ehsan PL1M)

Sehari dua ini kita disajikan dengn berita bahawa lima cawangan pasaraya Giant bakal ditutup dan dikhabarkan bahawa ini petanda ekonomi negara kita sebenarnya meruncing dan bukannya mengembang sepertimana yang diwar-warkan oleh kerajaan.  Berita penutupan cawangan-cawangan pasaraya Giant ini juga disebarkan melalui aplikasi WhatsApp.

Pagi ini juga saya melihat status seorang pengguna Facebook yang juga memberi khabar muram mengenai penutupan beberapa buah perniagaan besar di Malaysia.

Rangkaian Pasaraya Giant mengumumkan penutupan lima buah cawangan di seluruh negara.  Ia merupakan penutupan lima cawangan lama yang mana premisnya akan tamat tempoh pajakan dari sejumlah 122 cawangan di seluruh negara.

Cawangan-cawangan tersebut adalah di Seri Manjung, SACC Mall Shah Alam, Selayang Lama, Sibu dan Sungai Petani.

Walaupun keseluruhan daerah Manjung mempunyai 233,000 penduduk, Lumut hanya mempunyai kurang dari 33,000 orang penduduk dan sebahagian besarnya adalah merupakan warga Tentera Laut DiRaja Malaysia.  Giant perlu bersaing dengan dua buah pasaraya besar yang lain iaitu TESCO dan AEON Mall.

Sibu mempunyai 163,000 penduduk dan selain mempunyai dua cawangan Giant, ia juga mempunyai pusat-pusat membeli-belah seperti Sanyan Mall, Delta Mall, Star Mega Mall dan Medan Mall.

Sebuah Giant Hypermarket yang jauh lebih besar juga wujud berhampiran Giant Selayang Lama iaitu di Batu Caves, sementara cawangan di Selayang Lama terpaksa bersaing dengan pasaraya NSK Selayang yang menawarkan barangan runcit dengan harga yang lebih murah.

SACC Mall di Shah Alam itu sendiri tidak menarik ramai pengunjung.  Selain Giant, banyak premis perniagaan di situ telah ditutup dan berpindah terutamanya syarikat-syarikat yang mendaftarkan perniagaan yang telah menarik ramai pengunjung.  Di Shah Alam sendiri terdapat empat cawangan Giant yang berhampiran iaitu di Seksyen 9, Seksyen 13, Seksyen 18 dan juga Kota Kemuning.

Sungai Petani, walaupun mempunyai lebih kurang 280,000 orang penduduk, mempunyai dua buah cawangan Giant, iaitu Giant Hypermarket dan Giant Supermarket.  Saya yakin yang ditutup ialah Giant Supermarket.  Sungai Petani juga memberi saingan lain kepada Giant Supermarket dalam bentuk Pasaraya Econsave, Tesco, SP Plaza, Petani Parade, Central Square dan Amanjaya Mall.

Nampak gayanya penutupan lima cawangan tersebut merupakan langkah penyatuan atau konsolidasi dan bukannya disebabkan keadaan ekonomi yang muram.  Pengenalan sistem GST juga tidak memberi kesan yang besar kepada para peniaga kerana rata-rata pusat membeli-belah masih dikunjungi ramai orang.

Namun tidak dinafikan peranan yang dimainkan oleh online shopping ada memberi kesan terhadap para peniaga.  Ini adalah kerana ada masanya harga barangan yang dijual secara online adalah jauh lebih murah dari apa yang ditawarkan oleh para peniaga runcit.

Menurut PwC dalam laporan Bancian Runcit Keseluruhan 2016 yang dikeluarkannya baru-baru ini, 3/5 responden dari Malaysia telah mula membeli barangan secara online sejak tiga tahun yang lalu dan angka ini masih mengembang.

Di Amerika Syarikat, di mana GST Malaysia tidak memberi kesan, banyak pasaraya berjenama besar kini menutup beratus-ratus cawangan di seluruh negara kerana kalah kepada jualan online oleh Amazon.

Aéropostale, sebuah syarikat yang menjual pakaian golongan belasan tahun telah membuat permohonan untuk dibankrapkan.  JC Penney telah menutup 40 cawangannya selain membekukan tuntutan elaun lebih masa dan memotong gaji para pekerja.  Sears telah menutup lebih 200 cawangannya.  Macy’s telah menutup 136 cawangan yang menyebabkan 4,500 orang pekerja hilang pekerjaan. American Eagle telah menutup 150 cawangannya manakala Sports Authority telah menutup kesemua 450 cawangannya.  Office Depot telah menutup 749 cawangan, The Children’s Place telah menutup 271 cawangan, manakala Walgreens telah menutup lebih 1,000 cawangan.

Pasaraya terkemuka Walmart telah menutup 269 cawangannya, manakala pendapatan pengasas Amazon yang juga CEOnya, Jeff Bezos, telah meningkat  sebanyak USD6 billion dalam masa beberapa jam sahaja dalam bulan April 2016.  Banyak syarikat perniagaan runcit besaran di Amerika Syarikat terpaksa menutup cawangan, membuang para pekerja dan bergabung dengan syarikat-syarikat lain untuk terus hidup disebabkan persaingan yang diberikan oleh Amazon.

Trend yang sama kini dilihat di Malaysia. Pada bulan April 2017, syarikat gerbang pembayaran online Malaysia iPay88 yang menguasai 70 peratus pembayaran online di Malaysia mengumumkan bahawa angka pembelian online di Malaysia meningkat 161 peratus pada tahun 2016 berbanding tahun sebelumnya, iaitu 38.2 juta transaksi pada tahun 2016 berbanding 14.6 juta pada tahun 2015.

Menurut iPay88 lagi, barangan yang lazim dibeli oleh rakyat Malaysia termasuk pakaian, kasut, barangan kemas, barangan elektronik dan peralatan sukan.

Oleh kerana iPay88 hanya mempunyai 70 peratus penguasaan, ini bermakna jumlah transaksi pembelian online di Malaysia adalah jauh lebih tinggi dari apa yang dilaporkan oleh iPay88.  Angka ini tidak melibatkan pembelian online secara Cash-On-Delivery.

Lazada kini mengalami masalah untuk melayan nafsu serakah rakyat Malaysia yang gemarkan online shopping

Transaksi online, termasuk perbankan digital, adalah sebab bank-bank di Malaysia menutup 63 cawangan setakat April 2017.  HSBC telah menutup lebih 50 peratus cawangannya di UK iaitu sebanyak 62 cawangan. ING di Netherlands telah menutup beberapa cawangannya menyebabkan 1,000 pekerja bank kehilangan pekerjaan.

Citigroup telah menutup sekitar 9 peratus cawangan-cawangannya di seluruh dunia manakala Bank of America pula menutup 206 cawangannya.  Kedua-dua syarikat ini juga beralih kepada perbankan digital.

Pembelian peribadi meningkan kepada 6.6 peratus pada suku pertama tahun 2017 menurut Persatuan Peruncit Malaysia.  Rakyat Malaysia kini lebih banyak berbelanja untuk pembelian barangan secara online dan menjamu selera di luar daripada makan di rumah.  Indeks Sentimen Pengguna yang dikumpul oleh MIER juga menunjukkan peningkatan iaitu pada kadar 76.6 peratus.  Jumlah pembelian kenderaan peribadi bagi tahun 2017 juga adalah 425,711 buah setakat 30 September 2017 berbanding 418,277 buah dalam tempoh yang sama tahun lepas.

Adakah ekonomi Malaysia menghadapi kemarau seperti yang didakwa?  Anda putuskan sendiri.