Pantywaist

Pakatan Cry Babies
Barely a few hours after Najib Razak’s announcing of the budget for 2018, the DAP came up with the above graphic to inform the people that (as usual) Najib Razak’s budget is a copycat budget.

But is it?

It must be remembered that the budget announced by Najib Razak will be implemented nationwide whereas the “Pakatan budget” mentioned in the graphic above is a pick-and-choose budget that only one has been implemented in just one state administered by Pakatan, and not a nationwide solution.

Abolish All Tolls

The Barisan Nasional (BN) -led government announced that from 1 January 2018, tolls at four locations, actually, will be abolished.  They are the Batu Tiga toll on the Federal Highway, the Sungai Rasau toll near Klang that is also on the Federal Highway, the EDL highway toll in Johor Bahru as well as the Bukit Kayu Hitam toll in Kedah.

Pakatan Harapan proposed to abolish all toll collections.  But it has not explained how they plan to compensate in the region of billions to the toll concessionaires for all the money that they have put into the highways they operate and loss of future earnings.

Furthermore, Pakatan promised since before GE12 to abolish toll collection at the Sungai Nyior toll plaza in Pulau Pinang but has not done so to-date.

Pakatan’s de facto a third of a leader, Anwar Ibrahim, had in fact made a promise not too long ago to not allow toll charges to be increased on highways they have shares in, namely, the LDP, KESAS and SPRINT.  So far they have done nothing. If they cannot even control the highways that they have substantial shares in how can we hope for them to abolish all tolls?

Anwar’s broken promise
Pakatan’s alternative budget is also unreliable when it comes to the abolishment of toll on highways.  Azmin Ali as the Menteri Besar of Selangor admitted that it was not going to be easy for them to reduce tolls let alone abolish them on highways where the state government has shares in.

Azmin Ali’s admission that it is difficult to reduce toll rates on highways Selangor has shares in
But instead of reducing or abolishing tolls, Azmin Ali introduced three new tolled highways namely the Sungai Besi-Ulu Klang Elevated Expressway (SUKE), the East Klang Valley Expressway (EKVE), and the Damansara-Shah Alam Elevated Expressway (DASH).  This is a total of 89 kilometres of new tolled highways offered by the Pakatan government versus the 2,083 kilometres  toll-free Pan Borneo Highway offered by the Barisan Nasional government.

Instead of reducing or scrapping tolls, Azmin introduced three more tolled highways in Selangor
So, who is Pakatan trying to kid when it says it wants to abolish tolls on highways?  What funds do they plan to use to acquire the concessions from concessionaires?  The government is able to abolish tolls at four locations because three of them are under PLUS which is 100 percent government-owned through UEM and EPF, and one under MRCB which has Bank Rakyat and Tabung Haji, both are government entities, as shareholders.

Another puzzling behaviour of the Pakatan is that while it claims that it will abolish tolls in total, or in Selangor or Sungai Nyior only, or just reduce the rates, it has been proven that they are just a bag filled with hot air. It has been almost a decade since their coming into power in Pulau Pinang and Selangor yet they have nothing to show. So when the BN government abolishes tolls at four locations, the reaction from them should be one of sheer happiness. Yet they seem to be otherwise. Why?

One example is Azmin’s communications director Yin Shao Loong who is unaware that the concession period for the Batu Tiga toll was extended to 2038 and not 2018.

Had the Batu Tiga toll concession period been extended, the rate users would be paying according to the original agreement signed during Mahathir’s period is RM2.40 instead of the RM1.10 users are enjoying now.

In a way, the recent offer by Maju Holdings Sdn Bhd to buy the PLUS Expressway from UEM and EPF and not increase toll rates on the highway for 20 years may have triggered the government’s decision to abolish toll collection at those four highways.  I still hope that the PM could bring all the relevant parties together to discuss the proposal as it surely benefits the rakyat if feasible.

Abolishing the GST

Prior to the introduction of the 6-percent Goods & Services Tax (GST), business owners were charged the 16-percent Sales & Services Tax (SST).  The Sales Tax was a federal consumption tax imposed on a wide variety of goods, and governed by the Sales Tax Act 1972. The Service Tax, also a federal consumption tax, was levied on customers who consumed certain taxable services, and was governed by the Service Tax Act 1975.

GST versus SST (courtesy of Bloomberg BNA)
The SST was a single stage of consumption tax where businesses cannot recover the tax paid on their purchases. This tax will be treated as a cost to business.  However, it was not a transparent form of taxation as many business owners fail to declare their taxes through transfer pricing.  The GST introduces transparency, curbs the inefficiencies, tax-payment and misappropriation issues  of the SST.

This incurred the wrath of big business owners as they can no longer hide actual sales figures to avoid being taxed.

As opposed to the SST where every single item is taxed 16 percent, household items such as but not limited to sugar, flour, cooking oil, vegetables, fish, meat, poultry and services such as healthcare, education, public transport, housing and agriculture land are exempted from the GST.  If there is a spike in the prices of these items, it is the business owners that are to be blamed for marking up prices, and consumers can report them to the KPDNKK.

It is the efficient way to collect tax from businesses that has helped the government to find an alternative form of income when price of oil have gone down tremendously.

Pakatan wants to either revert back to the SST system but has not mentioned how it plans to make up for the loss of income since oil prices cannot be depended upon, or zero-rate everything as per its alternative budget if it decides to keep the GST system, with the option to increase the rates later.

Again, Pakatan is not being transparent to the masses.

120-Day Maternity Leave versus 90-Day Maternity Leave

There are two aspects to look at when talking about maternity leaves.  First, on the employers’ side – a worker that is unable to perform her duty taxes the company as she receives full pay during her absence, and other workers have to double up to do her work.  Second, going by the concept of ‘iddah of a divorced woman – the waiting period is three menstrual cycles or three months.  I did not use the example of a widow’s waiting period because that includes a period to sufficiently overcome a huge part of grief.

Let us compare with other Muslims countries:

Bangladesh – 112 days: 8 weeks (56 days) before delivery and 8 weeks (56 days) after delivery.

Indonesia – 3 months (90 days)

Pakistan – 90 days (45 before delivery and 45 after)

Oman – 100 days (50 days before and 50 days after)

Qatar – 50 days

Saudi Arabia – 70 days

Syria – 50 days

UAE – 45 days

Yemen – 60 days

Pakatan wants to implement 120 days maternity leave, but evidence shows that after introducing a 90-day maternity leave for Selangor’s civil servants, only 30 employees have actually utilised the 90-day leave in full.

Not many took up the 90-day maternity leave provided by the Selangor state government

I guess 90 days about stretches the limit, especially for employers providing 100 percent pay during maternity leave.

TAWAS versus ADAM50

Tabung Warisan Selangor (TAWAS) is a RM100 one-off gift for every child born in Selangor with the hope of accumulating RM1,500 when they are eligible to withdraw the money when they turn 18.  Amanah Dana Anak Malaysia 2050 (ADAM50) is a 200-unit gift in the form of a trust fund for 2.8 million Malaysian babies born from 1 January 2018 to 31 December 2022. The 200 units will be credited automatically in the unit trust funds managed by Amanah Saham Nasional Bhd after the registration process is completed by their parents or guardian.

TAWAS was launched in 2008 as part of fulfilling Pakatan Rakyat Selangor’s manifesto promise. Between 2008 and 2011, RM588,391 was spent on advertising and promotion for TAWAS but less than 20 percent of newborns (60,972 out of 313,706) in Selangor were registered by the end of 2011.

The Selangor state government had no choice but to extend the registration deadline to allow for more participants but as at 22 July 2014, only 159,953 registration was collected.  The total number of live childbirths in Selangor was 421,652 by the end of 2012. By end of August 2017, TAWAS only managed to get 280,568 registrations.

TAWAS started off with funds amounting to RM13.5 million but the state government has had to spend RM22.87 million annually on TAWAS despite getting only 19.4 percent registration.  Why is there a need to spend so much on so few participants?

The Auditor-General reported that TAWAS, which was formed under the Menteri Besar Selangor (Pemerbadanan) through Yayasan Warisan Anak Selangor (YAWAS) failed to submit documents of issuance of Fixed Deposit Certificates (SST) between YAWAS and AmBank to the auditors.

There is no standard operating procedures (SOP) to fix a deadline for the issuance of SST to the participants from the date the registration was made or was approved. Audit checks found that there is no record of actual of issuance and receipt of actual SST to and from participants.

The TAWAS system only provides information on SST that had been prepared by AmBank, furthermore even YAWAS does not have detailed records on the interests received for each of the SST issued,” the report added.

ADAM50 is managed by Perbadanan Nasional Berhad (PNB) which has been managing funds such as Amanah Saham Nasional, Amanah Saham Bumiputra and Amanah Saham Malaysia.  The 200 incentive units and all dividends received on this initial amount of ADAM50 can only be redeemed when the child reaches 18 years of age.

Pakatan cannot even handle a far smaller fund efficiently and it wants to compare itself to a single corporation that handles funds in excess of RM265 billion.  Where has all the millions of Ringgits pumped into TAWAS gone to despite not getting the number of participants it had envisaged in 2008?

The Return of Petrol Subsidies

I won’t even go there. Everyone knows the removal of subsidies is so that it could be chanelled to the target groups instead of providing everyone, even foreigners, with subsidised petrol.

The Pakatan budget plans to subsidise only cars and motorcycles below 1,000cc. Only the Perodua Kancil and Perodua Viva would fit into the given category. How would the petrol pump know what cars are below 1,000cc and which ones are 1,000cc and above?

Other Pakatan Budget Jokes

While the BN government strives to lower taxes Pakatan’s alternative budget plans to introduce, on top of the 16 percent SST, an Inheritance Tax, Capital Gains Tax and increase Personal Income Tax to make up for the loss of income through the abolishment of the GST. Yet the pantywaist Pakatan have the cheek to cry foul and claim that the BN’s budget is oppressive.

So I will leave it up to you to decide whom to choose come GE14.

A Possible PLUS Point

A view of the Greater London area with the 188km M25 motorway circling, clearly visible from the International Space Station

It may seem like a coincidence that during the recent Festival of Light I was driving on the Maju Expressway at night to attend an open house.  What struck me is that the expressway is lit up all along the stretch and wondered if Tan Sri Abu Sahid would light up all the PLUS highways if he gets to purchase PLUS.

Over the past couple of months I have been reading about the proposed purchase of PLUS by Maju Holdings from Khazanah and EPF.  Several people have written on it while I waited a bit to read up on the interviews given by Tan Sri Abu Sahid himself.

While other toll concessionaires strive to increase toll rates to keep up with ever-increasing OPEX, one of Tan Sri Abu Sahid’s selling points is to NOT increase toll rates until the concession agreement that was signed during Mahathir’s administration expires in 2038, and while many think Tan Sri Abu Sahid is mad, I see method in his madness.

Backing

The first question raised by many including myself was where is Maju Holdings going to raise the kind of money needed to buy PLUS from Khazanah and EPF?  Tan Sri Abu Sahid revealed that he is getting financial backing from Evercore, an independent investment banking advisory firm and a boutique investment bank.

Evercore is involved in many toll road projects around the world, and has crunched the numbers to support Abu Sahid’s claim that he could run the PLUS highways at a profit without having to increase the toll rates until the expiry of the concession.

So far, all the “experts” that have spoken against Abu Sahid’s claim have not shown any credible evidence to support their opposition to Abu Sahid’s proposal.  They counter Abu Sahid’s proposal by saying that it is not viable and may increase risks to users, without any figures to back them up.

But Abu Sahid has already shown that currently PLUS is paying about RM58 per square metre for resurfacing works, compared to just RM18 per square metre done by MEX.  And those figures are based on both operators using the same contractors for the works.  How is it that PLUS is paying RM40 more per square metre compared to MEX using the same contractors?  Neither EPF nor UEM have offered any explanation to say otherwise, let alone sue Abu Sahid if the latter had gotten his facts wrong.

The best thing for them (UEM and EPF) to do is to sell PLUS. I pay them RM4 billion in hard cash, and you have taken back whatever you invested, so it’s already free, their IRR (internal rate of return) is 20 percent. If they say it’s not enough, how much do they want? Show me how much they make on their investments,” said Abu Sahid to reporters in a recent press conference.

Abu Sahid also seeks to forfeit the government’s compensation of about RM900 million owed to the toll road operator, which arose as a result of toll hikes not being implemented.  Imagine what the government could do by chanelling this money to sectors that badly need such funds.

Dangerous For Users?

In an interview, Dr Mohamad Shazli Fathi who is the Deputy Director at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia’s Environmental and Occupational Safety and Health Unit said that by not increasing the toll for the next 20 years will only endanger highway users.

Citing the ever-increasing cost of maintenance, especially for bitumen and cement, Dr Mohamad Shazli is skeptical of Abu Sahid’s offer.  Again, Dr Mohamad Shazli was just shooting from his hip without any figures or projections to back his claim, as with the other experts sought to “help explain” matters.

What these experts forget is that Abu Sahid could obtain these materials in bulk, thus reducing costs, through Ipmuda Berhad where he holds 31.23 percent equity interest.

And if he can do resurfacing for the 26-kilometer MEX at RM18 per square metre, it should be far cheaper, if not the same, for 974 kilometers of highways owned by PLUS through its various operating companies, because of economies of scale.

In fact, as the owner of MEX, Maju Holdings had had the expressway lit up as an extra safety measure for drivers and users, all 26 kilometers, and plans to do the same for all 974 kilometers of expressway under PLUS.  No longer are drivers required to strain their eyes in the dark, or feel scared if they suffer a breakdown at night.  If this is not safer than what the PLUS highways are now, I don’t know what is.  Try driving from Kulai to the Second Link at night and you will know what I am talking about.

If you look at the photo above of London and the M25 motorway as taken from the International Space Station, imagine how 974 kilometers of expressways lit up at night would look like from space.  That would certainly look awesome!

We Have Just Sold Our Country To The Chinese, Now We Want To Surrender Our Highways To The Americans?

Of course there is no such thing as selling our country to China (read ‘Apa Yang Strategiknya?‘, ‘Teka Bila Kem Tentera Mula Hendak Dijual?‘ and ‘The Living Forest‘). That is just people who are no longer politically-relevant talking to justify their miserable existence.

The other question that is in the people’s mind is: if Abu Sahid defaults on his payment to Evercore, does this mean that Evercore owns the highway?  Highway concessionaires only hold concessions.  The highways belong to the government.  What Abu Sahid is seeking is to buy PLUS the highway concessionaire from Khazanah-owned UEM and EPF.

When Abu Sahid proposed to sell of MEX (a deal which eventually fell through), Mahathir was angry and said, “You sell what is yours. You don’t sell what belongs to others. It could be as bad as selling APs.”  Only what is owned by MEX were allowed to be sold. The cars, the computers, the chairs, tables, tea cups. Not the highway.

The term “highway” by law includes all traffic lanes, acceleration lanes, deceleration lanes, shoulders, median strips, bridges, overpasses, underpasses, interchanges, approaches, entrance and exit ramps, toll plazas, service areas, maintenance areas, highway furniture, signs and other structures and fixtures and any other areas adjacent thereto. These are under the control and management of the Highway Authority of Malaysia (Lembaga Lebuhraya Malaysia or LLM).

It is because of that if Abu Sahid actually defaults on payments to Evercore, the PLUS highways will not be closed to traffic.

So what does Abu Sahid want from PLUS if it does not make him much money?  Access to his parcels of land so he could develop them, and provide access to land to the left and right of these highways for them to be developed.

Like it or not, mad or otherwise, Abu Sahid is a patriot at heart.  Just like the cheap and controlled price of food sold at his Terminal Bersepadu Selatan (TBS), Abu Sahid does not want the people to be further burdened once UEM has to service its RM30 billion principal payment that is due soon.

But Abu Sahid Has A Bad Track Record – PERWAJA

Perwaja, the brainchild of Mahathir, was set up in 1982.   Even in the initial years of operating, it continuously lost money, mainly due to the global recession, lower steel prices and softer demand for steel.

Government-owned Hicom Holdings was the original major owner of Perwaja Steel with a 51% stake, which it divested in 1988.

A year later, Nippon Steel of Japan gave up its 30% stake to the Malaysian government, paving the way for a major restructuring of the company.

The government pumped some RM2 billion into the company, and new facilities were built in Kemaman, Terengganu, and Gurun, Kedah.

Despite this and several more capital infusions by the Government, Perwaja still suffered losses.

Later in 1995, the Government put Perwaja up for sale and after a delay due to the Asian Financial Crisis, Tan Sri Abu Sahid Mohamed’s Maju Holdings emerged as Perwaja’s ultimate holding company in 2003, in a deal valued at RM1.305 billion.

Abu Sahid, like Tajuddin Ramli and Halim Saad, are victims of Mahathir’s manipulation.  He had agreed to help rescue Perwaja because the then Prime Minister asked him to do a “national service.”

And despite the massive losses Abu Sahid never sold his shares in Perwaja.

I promised the government I would not sell and I didn’t. I burnt RM700 million  to keep my word,” he said to The Edgemarkets recently.

Who Is Happy And Who Is Not?

The happiest people if Abu Sahid gets to buy PLUS are the people – the users of the PLUS highways.  For the next 20 years, Malaysians plying the PLUS highways would not have to worry about the increase in toll rates.  This definitly augurs well for the government, especially in the savings it could make.  The deal also saves EPF contributors from suffering once the massive principal payment needs to be made.

The ones who do not seem to be happy are UEM (Khazanah) and the EPF, for reasons only known to them.  The best part is, without passing Abu Sahid’s proposal to the investments committee where it could be studied and recommendations made, both UEM and EPF have made it clear that they are not interested to sell PLUS to Abu Sahid.

How can they make such a call when the investment committee from both government institutions have not studied the proposal?

Is there more to the RM58 per square metre that meets the eye?  Again, only UEM (Khazanah) and the EPF can answer this, and if only they feel like answering.

For the people, this is a possible plus point for the government. In the meantime, the voters wait.

Friday Fools

The recent hike in toll prices have riled users up, including those who have no qualms about spending RM13.80 on a packet of Dunhill cigarettes daily; queued 30 hours for an iPhone 6s rose/gold version; and spend a ridiculous amount of money for Starbucks’s Macchiato Frap.

And they blame Najib for the increase on toll rates.

Virtually all the concessions agreement were signed during Mahathir’s time, and for some like the Maju Expressway, built by Abu Sahid, a good friend of Muhyiddin and crony of Mahathir, and the Senai Desaru Highway built by Ranhill’s Hamdan Mihamad were built in 2004. Both had their concession agreement signed before Mahathir stepped down. The Senai Desaru Highway had its Development Order signed in the late 1990s.

PLUS’s North South highway was built initialy by the government via Lembaga Lebuhraya Malaysia. Planned during Tun Hussein Onn’s time in 1977, it began construction in 1980, a year before Mahathir became the PM.

Between 1980 and 1985, the LLM built 366km or 41% of the proposed 823km of the highway at a cost of RM3.2 billion borne by the government.

  
In 1986, the whole project was transferred  to UMNO-crony, Halim Saad’s UEM, despite being the most expensive bidder and having had no experience whatsoever in constructing highways.

  
In the end the highway was delivered two years late and the government then had to finance half of the RM3.5 billion budget.

Yes, our money for half of that RM3.5 billion budget. In fact, it was RM1.65 billion.

If you think that that was a bad deal, try swallowing this: we also now have to pay 30 years of toll, and also pay 10% of the bill every three years if tolls are not allowed to be increased. This is reminiscent of the rip-off IPP deal that Mahathir gave YTL that agreement has ended and not renewed by the Najib administration.

In 2011, Najib’s administration took over PLUS from private hands, restructured the deal and avoided future toll hikes. The government owns 51% of PLUS while 49% is owned by the EPF.

All the concession agreements are now no longer being subjected to the Official Secrets Act. I am sure there is a link somewhere where we can view these agreements and the terms given to the concessionaires. However, MEX has this far declined to open up its concession agreement and we must all call for the agreement to be made public as it affects us all.

This brings me to remember what Miss Lim Sian See wrote a few months ago:

Dear Siti Nurhaliza (always wanted to write to her), the PEMUDA UMNO, Pakatan leaders, Tan Sri Muhyiddin, Khairy Jamaluddin dan yang lain lan penyokong Tun Dr M,


If I may seek your passion again, sirs and madams,


The last few days, you people have demanded to seek the truth about the Tabung Haji land purchase from 1MDB as you say it is shameful, putting Haji money at risk, against Agama, etc – with a vengeance and with a vigor thus far unseen.


Now, Malaysia Insider (not always correct nor 100% truthful, I must admit) has bongkar certain Lembaga Tabung Haji deals that seems to be clear bail-outs of the Maju group that has actually caused losses of depositor money. http://tinyurl.com/lmuaz45


These are the allegations by Malaysia Insider (citing Wall Street Journal) regarding Tun M’s govt bailing out private companies using Tabung Haji Money.


1) 1996,- LTH invested RM67m with Maju Holdings project in Johor – only for the project to immediately run into trouble: 


Total loss to Tabung Haji: RM67m


2) 1998 – LTH paid RM436.38 million to Maju Group for two then uncomplete properties valued at RM267.92 million. 


Total loss to Tabung Haji: RM168.46m

Other allegations include: 
-The chairman of Tabung Haji then was Tun M’s brother in law, the late Tan Sri Ahmad Razali Mohamed Ali – a clear case of nepotism.

– Immediate upfront payment RM220 million for a building yet to start construction even though Treasury guidelines only allow maximum of RM5 million – which was 15% value of the construction work.

—-

Let me highlight the differences between the deals then and now for you:


1) MAJU HOLDINGS deals of he 1990s – Tabung Haji paid RM504 million to a PRIVATE INDIVIDUAL COMPANY for assets professionally valued at RM267.92m – causing REAL LOSSES to TH of RM235.5m


2) 1MDB TRX deal of the 2015 – Tabung Haji paid RM188.5 million to a 100% GOVT-OWNED COMPANY for assets professionally valued at RM195 million (and secured further with another asset worth RM370m) . But will soon sell off at a PROFIT to TH for a few million.


See the difference?


Tun M time: 

One is LOSSES to TH and payment by TH to a private company- money never to be recovered for assets worth less than half of what was paid.


Najib time:

One is PROFIT to TH and payment by TH to a 100% GOVT company – money – money that will immediately be recovered within a week for assets worth more than was paid.

`

I am just asking you all to be fair and use the same enthusiasm, venom and vigor to seek the kebenaran on the Tun M era deals.


You have asked MACC, AG, PDRM to investigate 1MDB and TH and Najib. 


Just to be fair, can you please also ask MACC, AG (actually already investigated and found wrong-doing), PDRM to investigate Maju and TH and Tun M?


And if Tun M is guilty as accused (or refuses to answer) then please condemn him as much as you have condemned others and please never again side with him.


Also find out who is responsible but make sure you ask about the case where Tabung Haji lost money and not the one where it made money.


Please be fair and act fairly – or be considered hypocrite.


Have no fear.

I rest my case.