Drama Kera La (Versi BM)

IMG_4539
Seekor beruk bermain dengan sekuntum Bunga Raya (Gambar Hiasan)

Baru-baru ini ditularkan di dalam Facebook dan WhatsApp sebuah video mengenai cara negara China memperluaskan penguasaannya dengan menggunakan kekuatan ekonomi.  Video tersebut membandingkan usahasama China-Sri Lanka di pelabuhan laut dalam Hambantota dengan usahasama-usahasama yang dijalankan di Malaysia, membuktikan bahawa Malaysia juga boleh berakhir bukan sahaja menjadi sebuah negara yang dibelenggu masalah hutang yang besar, tetapi juga bakal hilang pegangan ke atas aset-aset tersebut.

Secara kasar, berhutang keada China dengan sebegitu banyak untuk projek-projek tersebut adalah amat menakutkan, terutamanya untuk mereka yang tidak mendapat gambaran penuh.  Namun, membandingkan Malaysia dengan Sri Lanka bukanlah suatu perkara yang bijak.

Pelabuhan laut dalam Hambantota terletak di dalam kawasan bekas Presiden Sri Lanka iaitu Mahinda Rajapaksa dan kos pembinaannya adalah lebih dari $1 billion.  Sebuah lagi projek yang dibina di dalam kawasan Mahinda ialah Lapangan terbang Mattala Rajapaksa yang terletak 30 kilometer dari pelabuhan tersebut.  Sehingga kini, lapangan terbang tersebut digunakan oleh hanya beberapa ratus orang seminggu hinggakan ianya diberi gelaran “lapangan terbang paling sunyi di dunia.”

Hambantota ialah sebuah wilayah yang terpencil di Selatan Sri Lanka.  Jaraknya dengan bandar yang paing hampir iaitu Galle ialah 130 kilometer, manakala jaraknya dengan ibu negara Sri Lanka iaitu Colombo ialah 240 kilometer.  Jumlah penduduknya hanyalah sekitar 12,000 orang dan ianya merupakan sebuah wilayah yang tersisih dari sebarang pembangunan.  Masalah pelabuhan laut dalam Hambantota ialah kedalaman airnya yang tidak mencukupi untuk kapal-kapal dagang yang besar untuk masuk ke pelabuhan tersebut.  Maka, ianya tidak menjadi suatu destinasi bagi syarikat-syarikat perkapalan besar.  Tiada siapa yang ingin berpindah ke sana kerana ianya berada terlalu jauh dari pembangunan.  Ini menyebabkan kedua-dua pelabuhan dan lapangan terbang tidak dapat menjana pendapatan untuk menampung kos operasinya sendiri, apatah lagi untuk membayar pinjaman yang telah diterima daripada China.

Jumlah hutang yang ditanggung oleh Sri Lanka ialah hampir $65 billion.  Dari jumlah tersebut, $8 billion adalah hutang kepada China.  KDNKnya (Keluaran Dalam Negara Kasar) ialah sebanyak $81.32 billion.  Kadar hutang kepada KDNKnya pula ialah 75 peratus manakala rizab matawang asingnya ialah $7.2 billion.  Kerajaan Sri Lanka menggunakan 95.4 peratus pendapatannya untuk membayar hutang.  Inilah sebab-sebab Sri Lanka mengambil jalan untuk melangsaikan hutang-hutangnya untuk kedua-dua projek tersebut dengan cara menyerahkan pegangan kepada negara pemiutang (China).

Bandingkan apa yang terjadi dengan projek ECRL yang bernilai $13.1 billion (RM55 bilion).  Malaysia mengambil pinjaman sebanyak $11.14 billion (85 peratus dari kos keseluruhan projek atau RM46.75 billion) dari China manakala selebihnya dibiayai melalui program sukuk yang dikendalikan oleh institusi-institusi kewangan tempatan.

Projek Forest City di negeri Johor pula merupakan sebuah program pembangunan bernilai $100 billion selama 20 tahun.  Walaupun jumlah yang diperuntukkan bagi setiap fasa projek tersebut adalah merupakan maklumat sulit syarikat yang membangunkan projek tersebut, ianya dianggarkan sekitar $5 billion setahun.  Projek tersebut telah bermula pada tahun 2015 dan sehingga kini 11 peratus telah dilaksanakan.  Pada akhir bulan Disember 2016, Forest City berjaya membuat penjualan 17,000 unit apartmen bernilai $2.9 billion.  Tempoh pembangunan projek tersebut masih berbaki 17 tahun lagi.

KDNK Malaysia kini berjumlah $320.25 billion (RM1.3 trillion) untuk tahun 2017.  Ini menjadikan kos projek ECRL pada kadar 4.1 peratus dari KDNK manakala projek Forest City pada kadar 1.6 peratus setahun.  Jumah hutang keseluruhan negara ialah sebanyak RM685.1 billion atau 50.9 peratus dari KDNK.  Dari jumlah ini, RM662.4 billion adalah hutang dalam negara manakala hanya RM22.7 billion merupakan hutang luar pesisir pantai.

Yang menariknya, setakat bulan Oktober 2017, hutang Amerika Syarikat kepada China berjumah $1.2 trillion, iaitu 19 peratus dari sejumlah $6.3 trillion dalam bentuk bil-bil Perbendaharaan, wang, dan bon-bon yang dipegang oleh negara-negara luar.  KDNK AS pada tahun 2016 adalah sebanyak $18.57 trillion dan ini menjadikan kadar hutang AS kepada China berbanding KDNKnya sebanyak 6.5 peratus.

Sudah tentu kita boleh membiayai projek-projek di atas tanpa mengambil sebarang pinjaman.  Rizab matawang asing kita berjumlah RM414.71 billion ($102.17 billion), lebih dari mencukupi untuk pembiayaan kedua-dua projek tersebut.Jika kita gunakan kaedah di zaman Tun Mahathir, Petronas mempunyai pegangan tunai sebanyak RM129 billion ($31.8 billion) manakala KWSP mempunyai aset-aset yang bernilai $771 billion ($189.9 billion).  Ini tidak termasuk pegangan tunai dan aset-aset kepunyaan Khazanah, Tabung Haji, KWAP, SOCSO, PNB dan lain-lain institusi kerajaan.

Sekiranya kadar hutang kepada KDNK sebanyak 50.9 peratus merisaukan anda, ianya pernah berada pada kadar 103.4 peratus semasa Mahathir merupakan Perdana Menteri pada tahun 1985.  Dan suatu jumlah bersamaan dengan 24 peratus KDNK juga telah hilang dalam skandal Forex BNM pada tahun 1991 iaitu semasa Mahathir masih lagi Perdana Menteri Malaysia.  24 peratus daripada KDNK sekiranya ia berlaku sekarang bersamaan dengan hilangnya RM315 billion dari RM1.3 trillion.  Sebagai perbandingan, kadar hutang kepada KDNK Singapura ialah 112 peratus dan negara tersebut berada di tangga ke-10 dari 17 negara yang mempunyai kadar hutang berbanding KDNK paling tinggi di dunia yang disenaraikan oleh Business Insider, UK.  Jepun menduduki tempat pertama dengan kadar 239.2 peratus!

Kita tidak jatuh bankrap semasa zaman Mahathir jadi mengapa perlu kita takutkan kadar hutang berbanding KDNK sebanyak 50.9 peratus bila asas ekonomi kita jauh lebih kukuh sekarang berbanding 103.4 peratus semasa asas kita lemah?  Jepun dan Singapura juga tidak jatuh bankrap.

Dan apa masalahnya dengan pemilikan tanah Forest City?  Tanah tersebut adalah merupakan tanah yang ditambak di tengah laut.  Ini bermakna tiada tanah yang “diberikan kepada China.”  Johor mempunyai hak ke atas tanah yang ditambak tersebut berdasarkan Kanun Tanah Negara, 1965 dan selagi ianya berada dalam lingkungan tiga batu nautika mengikut Seksyen 3(3) Akta Laut Wilayah, 2012.  Sama ada ianya merupakan pegangan bebas mahupun pegangan pajakan, Johor mempunyai hak untuk mengambil semula tanah tersebut di bawah Akta Pengambilan Tanah, 1960.  Mana-mana tanah sehingga 12 batu nautika dari sisir pantai adalah hak milik negara.

Namun Mahathir lebih suka memilih jalan dengan menggembar-gemburkan cerita untuk menakut-nakutkan rakyat.  Dalam ucapan beliau baru-baru ini, beliau berkata, “Habislah tanah kita akan dijual, tidak kiralah Forest City, saya harap Forest City akan betul-betul jadi ‘forest’ (hutan)…penduduknya akan terdiri daripada kera, monyet dan sebagainya.

Taman Perindustrian Malaysia-China Kuantan (MCKIP) dibangunkan oleh MCKIP Sdn Bhd (MCKIPSB) yang merupakan sebuah syarikat usahasama 51:49 di antara sebuah konsortium Malaysia dan sebuah konsortium China.  Pegangan dalam Konsortium Malaysia pula terdiri dari IJM (40 peratus), Sime Darby Property (30 peratus) dan Kerajaan Negeri Pahang (30 peratus).  Taman perindustrian kembarnya iaitu Taman Perindustrian China-Malaysia Qinzhou (CMQIP) di negera China pula dipegang oleh sebuah konsortium Malaysia (SP Setia Berhad dan Rimbunan Hijau Group) sebanyak 49 peratus.

Mengikut logik Mahathir, bukankah China telah memberi peluang kepada Malaysia untuk menjajah negaranya?  Sebelum ini China juga telah membenarkan Singapura menjajahnya di dua kawasan iaitu di Taman Perindustrian China-Singapore Suzhou dan juga di Bandaraya Eko China-Singapore Tianjin.

Walaupun keadaan di Sri Lanka nampak suram, Jepun, Singapura dan India telah menyatakan hasrat untuk membina infrastruktur dan mendirikan perniagaan di Sri Lanka.  Walaupun Sri Lanka mempunyai asas ekonomi yang lemah, Lolitha Abeysinghe dari Opportunity Sri Lanka kekal optimistik.

Pergantungan berlebihan terhadap mana-mana negara untuk pelaburan, teknologi dan pasaran boleh memberi kesan buruk terhadap kepentingan negara dalam jangka panjang, tetapi sekiranya diurus dengan betul dan dengan wawasan yang jauh, Sri Lanka boleh mengurangkan masalah tersebut dan mendapat manfaat terbaik untuk ekonomi luar bandar domestik di dalam sebuah dari wilayah-wilayah terpinggir di Sri Lanka,” katanya.

Malaysia mempunyai wawasan tersebut tetapi malangnya sesetengah orang lebih gemar sekiranya Malaysia gagal hanya kerana kepentingan politik. Politik cara kera dan monyet.

Drama Kera La

ST photo -SAF-PLA joint military exercise
Singapore Army invading China?

Recently, a video clip of how China is fulfilling its hegemonic ambitions using economic means was spread around especially in Facebook and WhatsApp groups.  The video compares the Sino-Sri Lankan joint-venture at the Hambantota Deep Water Port with the ones in Malaysia, proving that Malaysia, like Sri Lanka, could end up not only with a huge debt owing to China, but also lose its ownership of those assets.

On the surface, it sounds scary to have so much money owed to China for these projects especially so for the ill-informed.  But comparing Malaysia to Sri Lanka hardly does any justice.

The Hambantota Deep Water Port lies within the constituency of the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa and costs more than $1 billion to construct.  Another project that was constructed in this constituency is the Mattala Rajapaksa Airport, located 30 kilometres away from the port, which until now flies only a few hundred passengers in and out weekly and has been dubbed “the world’s loneliest airport.”

Hambantota is a remote region in the South, 240 kilometres from Colombo and the nearest city, Galle, is 130 kilometres away.  The population of Hambantota is around 12,000 people and is very underdeveloped.  The problem with Hambantota’s deep-water port is that its waters are not deep enough for large vessels with deep draught, so large shipping companies shy away from it.  It is far from any development that hardly anyone wants to move there.  Both the port and the airport cannot generate enough income to sustain operations let alone pay back loans to the Chinese.

Sri Lanka owes its financiers close to $65 billion and of this, $8 billion alone is owed to the Chinese.  Its GDP stands at $81.32 billion, debt-to-GDP ratio stands at roughly 75 percent while its foreign currency reserves is at $7.2 billion.  The Sri Lankan government uses 95.4 percent of its revenue to repay debts.  These are the reasons for Sri Lanka to opt for a debt-for-equity solution for both projects.

Compare this with Malaysia’s $13.1 billion East Coast Rail Link, or RM55 billion in Malaysian terms.  Malaysia took a $11.14 billion loan (85 percent or RM46.75 billion) from China to finance the project while the balance is in the form of a sukuk programme managed by local financial institutions.

The Forest City project in Johor is a development programme that runs over 20 years.  How much is being allocated per project is a company confidential information but if we go by average, it would be at $5 billion per annum, with a total of $100 billion over 20 years.  The project commenced in 2015 and to date has completed about 11 percent.  At the end of December 2016, Forest City saw concluded contracted sales of $2.9 billion for 17,000 apartment units.  It still has another 17 years of development to go.

Our GDP now stands at around $320.25 billion (RM1.3 trillion) for 2017 which puts the cost of the ECRL project at 4.1 percent of the GDP while Forest City accounts to approximately 1.6 percent of the GDP per annum.  The total Government debt as at end of June 2017 was reported to be at RM685.1 billion or 50.9 percent of the GDP.  Of this total, RM662.4 billion was domestic debt while RM22.7 billion was offshore loans.

Interestingly, as of October 2017, the US debt to China is at $1.2 trillion, which is 19 percent of the $6.3 trillion in US Treasury bills, notes and bonds held by foreign countries.  The US GDP in 2016 was $18.57 trillion which makes its China-debt-to-GDP alone at 6.5 percent.

Of course, we could undertake to pay for all the above projects.  Our foreign currency exchange reserves are at RM414.71 billion ($102.17 billion) which is more than enough to pay for both projects.  If we use the Mahathir-era method, then Petronas has RM129 billion in cash ($31.8 billion) while the EPF has RM771 billion ($189.9 billion) worth of assets.  This does not include sources from other funds such as Khazanah, Tabung Haji, KWAP, SOCSO, PNB and others.

If our debt-to-GDP ratio of 50.9 percent is still a scary number to you, it was at 103.4 percent when Mahathir was the Prime Minister in 1985!  And an equivalent to 24 percent of the GDP went missing as a resut of the BNM Forex scandal also during his tenure as the PM in 1991!  That is RM315 billion if our GDP is RM1.3 trillion!  In contrast, Singapore’s debt-to-GDP ratio is 112 percent at tenth place out of 17 nations with the highest debt-to-GDP rate listed by Business Insider, UK.  Japan is first at 239.2 percent.

Still, we did not go bankrupt back then. So why should we fear a 50.9 percent debt-to-GDP ratio with much stronger economic fundamentals when we have reached 103.4 percent with a much weaker economy? And neither Singapore nor Japan has gone bankrupt.

And what is with the ownership of the land where Forest City is situated?  It is a reclaimed land; therefore, no part of mainland Johor was carved out to be “given to the Chinese.”  Johor has rights over the reclaimed land as accorded by the National Land Code, 1965 up to three nautical miles as given by Section 3(3) of the Territorial Sea Act, 2012.  Whether it is a freehold land or a leasehold land, Johor can always take it back, with provisions, under the Land Acquisition Act, 1960. Up to 12 nautical miles from the foreshore, the Malaysian flag flies no matter who holds the grant.

Mahathir recently said “I hope Forest City will truly become a forest… Its residents will consist of baboons (kera), monkeys (monyet) and so on”, fuelling unjustified fears among the people of Malaysia.

The Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park (MCKIP) has MCKIP Sdn Bhd (MCKIPSB) as its Master Developer.  MCKIPSB is a 51:49 joint-venture between a Malaysian consortium and a China consortium.  In the Malaysian portion of the shareholding, IJM land holds 40 percent, Sime Darby Property 30 percent and the Pahang State Government holds the remaining 30 percent. Its twin sister, the China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park (CMQIP) in China is 49 percent owned by a Malaysian consortium (SP Setia Berhad and Rimbunan Hijau Group).

Going by Tun Dr Mahathir’s logic, has China just allowed Malaysia to colonise its land too?  Prior to this it allowed Singapore to colonise in two other areas, namely the China-Singapore Suzhou Industrial Park and the China-Singapore Tianjin Eco City.

As bleak as Sri Lanka may sound, Japan, Singapore and India have expressed interest in building infrastructure and setting up shop in Sri Lanka.  Even with much weaker economic fundamentals compared to Malaysia, Lolitha Abeysinghe of Opportunity Sri Lanka remains optimistic.

Over-dependence on any country for investments, technology, and markets could result in some adverse impacts on national interest in the long-run, but if managed properly with a futuristic vision, Sri Lanka can mitigate such adversity and reap the best benefits for the rural domestic economy in one of the least developed districts in Sri Lanka,” he said.

Malaysia has that vision but sadly some of its people would rather see everything fail in the name of politics.  The politics of baboons and monkeys.

 

 

 

Dunce Accumulating Party – Part 2

Recently I wrote how the DAP is filled with morons and gave two examples.

Today,I shall give you another.

WakeUp Malaya calls Yeo Bee Yin the East Coast economic saboteur

DAP’s Yeo Bee Yin said no to the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) back in March 2017.  As a matter of fact, this one other dunce from the dungu party asked Selangor NOT to help out with the ECRL project when, as she said, it could be completed at almost half the price.

Those who voted her in are equal idiots or worse for letting themselves be duped by this slightly more intelligent moron.  This is because she compared the cost of constructing the ECRL to the project in Tanzania where the new line will be built next to the existing line, no greenfields, and that there are no tunnels to be constructed.   Being the typical drama queens, her Pakatan friends dubbed the ECRL the most expensive railway project in the world.

Brain Not Included

The first phase of the ECRL will run 600 kilometers of tracks, electrified, with 50 kilometers of tunneling.  The second phase will link the ECRL from the Gombak Intergrated Transport Terminal to Port Klang, a further 88 kilometers. The cost is estimated to be at RM55 billion (USD12.6 billion).  This translates into about RM80 million (USD18.4 million) per kilometer.

As a comparison, the Madrid-Volladoid line in Spain costs USD5.48 billion (RM24 billion) for a 177-kilometer distance which comes up to about USD30 million (RM130.4 million) per kilometre.

The Bremmer rail project in Switzerland cost USD6.56 billion (RM28.52 billion) for a 55 kilometer-line or RM518.55 million per km.

I don’t know how Yeo Bee Yin and friends could claim that the ECRL is the most expensive rail project.  Then again, they also fielded a calon hantu (phantom candidate) who is an Australian citizen as a candidate in last year’s Sarawak state elections.

On the benefits of the ECRL, I have written a post on that.

Suddenly, out of the blue, the ECRL is a meaningful project for the people of Selangor, said Yeo Bee Yin.  She said this when questioning why, if the ECRL is to be the land bridge connecting Kuantan port and Port Klang, is the ECRL terminating at the Gombak Intergrated Transport Terminal?

Again, brain not included

She said that a crucial part of the argument behind the need for the ECRL seems to have been taken “off the map” and then insinuating that the Barisan Nasional-led government is punishing the people of Selangor by terminating the project at the GITT.

It will give a lot of economical and social impact to the people of Selangor. Hence, the state government and Selangorians deserve to be better informed about the project,” she said.  “According to SPAD personnel, the ‘missing link’ from Gombak to Port Klang, which is at least another 60km, will be in the second phase of the project.”

She made this conclusion after viewing the public display of the ECRL at the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) headquarters where, according to her, only 16.7km of the Selangor portion appeared showing the route from Gombak into Pahang, but not the important segment that connects it to Port Klang.

She also asked if there was an agenda by the Federal government in leaving the Pakatan Harapan-led Selangor government from the decision-making process.

Which begets the question: Did the DAP-led Pulau Pinang state government include the Federal government when it decided to have a tunnel to link the island with Butterworth?  Isn’t that a state government project while the ECRL is a Federal government project?

Most of you would also by now ask why is the ECRL terminating at the GITT instead of at Port Klang?

Remember what I wrote above not too long ago, that the first phase terminates at the GITT while the second phase connects the GITT to Port Klang?

The answer appeared on the 13th May 2017:

The CCCC has signed an MoU with MRL for the construction of Phase 2 of the ECRL from the GITT to Port Klang

China Communications Construction Company Limited China (CCCC) has signed an MoU with Malaysia Railway Link Sdn Bhd (MRL) for a 88-kilometer rail link from the GITT to Port Klang.  This is one of the reasons the Prime Minister is in China.

Phase 2 will provide the vital connection to Port Klang. Ultimately, the ECRL underlines the importance of infrastructure to Malaysia and its people,” said Tan Sri Irwan Siregar, the Secretary-General of the Treasury who witnessed the signing ceremony. “Once completed, the people in the east coast of Peninsula Malaysia will be connected to the central region and west coast with important stops such as industrial hubs, airports and tourism zones located along the way.”

I would like to remind Yeo Bee Yin to leave the matter for the professionals to handle.  Just look into simpler matters such as why are her voters double and triple parking their vehicles at Damansara Uptown.  She has been the ADUN for that area for almost one term and yet she can’t teach her voters manners and solve the traffic woes there.

Or if she wants to look smart, she should ask Tokong about the RM305 million study that has yet to be submited to the Works Ministry.

Real Growth For The East Coast

Graphic courtesy of The Star

The first rail line was opened in 1885 running between Port Weld and Taiping.  The line to the east coast running between Gemas and Tumpat was only completed in 1931, by passing major towns such as Kuantan, Kuala Terengganu and Kota Bharu.

For decades after that there was no real growth in terms of communications in the east coast.

As a punishment to the people of the east coast for not voting in the Barisan Nasional, aid to Kelantan was curbed and was changed into the form of ‘Wang Ihsan‘ in 1990, and the East Coast Highway terminated near Kuantan because Barisan Nasional was ousted by the people of Terengganu in 1999.

Najib Razak changed all that.

Phase 3 of the East Coast Highway which will terminate at Kota Bharu will commence during the 11th Malaysian Plan (2016-2020), as well as the East Coast Rail Link, a new rail link cutting through green fields.

The first phase will see the Klang Valley connected to Kuantan, Kuala Terengganu in the second phase and Kota Bharu and Wakaf Bharu in the third and final phase.


Announcing at the handover ceremony of the Ganchong Water Treatment Plant, he said that the GDP of the state of Pahang would increase by 1.5 percent when the ECRL comes online.

The Opposition as usual is opposed to anything that is good for the people if it comes from the government.

PAN’s Mujahid Yusof Rawa, for instance, questioned how it will benefit the local economy – and you do not need to be a member of Parliament let alone a rocket scientist to figure out the answer.

The ECRL will act as a land bridge for goods coming from the west coast going to especially Shenzen in China through Kuantan port, and similarly goods from the east coast get sent to the Middle East and India through Port Klang.

This land bridge would also allow goods from the eastern part of the globe be sent to the western part through these two ports without having to circumnavigate the Singapore strait.

This cuts down the over-reliance on the Strait of Malacca. Today, more than 80 percent of China’s energy needs pass through that narrow waterway.

So if you imagine it takes just four hours for goods to be transported by a lorry from Kota Bharu to Port Klang using the ECRL as compared to seven hours using the Gua Musang way or nine hours via the East Coast highway, you would be able to imagine the kind of economic growth the east coast states would stand to benefit from the ECRL.

No longer would SME or heavy industries have to be centred in the Klang Valley where the costs of land and living are far higher compared to in Kelantan and Terengganu. More jobs would be created and the luxury gap lessened tremendously.

The time for goods to be transported from Shenzen to Port Klang would be 30 hours lesser than having to sail them around Singapore.

Cost issues aside, this new network will create new alternative routes to boost trade for Asean, with Malaysia as the base; and why this has to be taken seriously is because the Chinese have a direct interest in the (Kuantan) port and the rail link,” said Mr G. Durairaj, managing director of maritime and logistics consultancy PortsWorld.

Already Kuantan port is home to several petrochemical companies such as the BASF-PETRONAS Chemicals. 

The port has also attracted RM8.9 billion worrh of investments including a RM3.5 billion steel facility.

The integrated steel mill will occupy a 287ha site – half the size of Singapore’s Sentosa island – and have an annual production of 3.5 million tonnes.

Imagine the size of investments that the ECRL could bring into the east coast states. Would you now question the benefits the ECRL would bring?

Whine Even When Others Think You’re Lucky

Long before most netizens and majority of the current workforce were born, DAP’s Emperor Lim Kit Siang complained on 1st September 1977 about the lack of public transport and increase in fares by now-defunct well-known bus company, Sri Jaya.  Four days later, he called for the resignation of both Ganie Gilong of Sabah who was the Transport Minister, and Dr Goh Cheng Teik who was the Deputy Transport Minister to resign.

Political and monetary instabilities as a result of the international monetary crises in the early 1970s and the oil crisis in late 1973 contributed to the worldwide recession, stagflation and very slow recovery.  Consumer Price Index (1967 = 100) jumped by 10.5 percent in 1973 and 17.4 percent the following year. In 1977 it was down to 4.7 percent, the lowest since 1973, and the CPI figure never went down further until 1984.

Money, Income and Prices of Malaysia (1966-89) from the book The Monetary and Banking Development of Singapore and Malaysia by Sheng-Yi Lee

It was a time when Malaysians could hardly afford anything. In order to assist the rakyat, Tun Abdul Razak set up the Restoran Rakyat in August 1973. It was where a nasi lemak breakfast would cost only 20 sen and a simple lunch of rice, fish curry and vegetables would cost only 80 sen.  Of course, 20 sen those days is like RM2.00 of today but any balanced meal today that costs less than RM10.00 per plate is greatly welcomed.

The Restoran Rakyat, near today’s Dataran Merdeka – Tun Razak’s way of helping the rakyat in KL to overcome inflation (courtesy of harithsidek.blogspot.com)

Also introduced by Tun Razak was the BMW – Bas Mini Wilayah, in September 1975.  The fare to any destination was 40 sen then and was only increased to 50 sen in 1991 and 60 sen two years later.  The BMW services were discontinued in July 1998 when it was replaced by Intrakota and subsequently RapidKL in 2005.

The notorious BMW – BERNAMA Images/Paul Tan

Today, as a result of a great foresight by the current government, land public transport and infrastructure have improved in leaps and bounds.  According to a research report published on the 4th April 2017 by the Financial Times, Malaysia’s transport users get the best deals in ASEAN.

Graphs comparing Malaysia and the rest of the ASEAN-5 in terms of spending on transport as well as the WEF’s ranking for the ASEAN-5 transportation infrastructure (Financial Times)

The graph shows that Malaysian commuters spend about USD12 per day on commuting as opposed to Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines where commuting could cost up to USD20 per day, the only exception being Thailand where it could get to USD15 per day.

Malaysia is also ranked in the Top 20 from 138 nations in terms of transportation infrastructure, according to the World Economic Forum.

Malaysian spending on transportation rose to 0.7 percent of the GDP in 2016 compared to 2015, and the Financial Times research report attributes this to Prime Minister Najib Razak who continues to make infrastructure a key priority.

While the completion of the MRT SBK (Sungai Buloh-Kajang) Line 1 targetted for July 2017 and the construction of the MRT SSP (Sungai Buloh-Putrajaya) Line 2 and LRT 3 now taking place, urban and suburban dwellers in the Klang Valley can expect a much economical and more integrated mode of getting around, while feeder services such as the ETS, KTM Komuter, and the soon-to-be-expected HSR and double-tracking projects will allow growth in other areas and allow for cross-country commuting to and from work.

Projects like the ECRL and the Pan-Borneo highway will provide for the growth and availability of jobs not only in the urban areas but also in greenfields as well as pockets of rural towns where meaningful economic activities have thus far eluded.

With a projected population of 32.5 million by 2030, elaborate and efficient land public transport systems must be in place to ensure efficient mobility within and between spatial conurbations across Malaysia while the introduced National Land Public Transport Master Plan (NLPTMP) will ensure continual improvements and additions are made to the land public transport systems.

Malaysians should be thankful that plans have been made to improve transportation infrastructure instead of constantly complaining.