Budget 2017: Electricity rebates for senior citizens proposed

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It was proposed for the government to give rebates in Budget 2017, for residences of senior citizens to reduce their burden.

The proposal is giving priority to the senior citizens who are in the B40 group.

The Consumers Association of Subang Jaya and Shah Alam (CASSA) president, Dr Jacob George said the proposal should be considered because senior citizens, particularly those who do not earn regular income, are among those squeezed by the rising cost of living.

“If Tenaga Nasional Berhad can provide rebates for charitable organisations, shelter homes and places of worship, the same discount should also be given to the senior citizens,” he told MalaysiaGazette.

He said, based on studies and direct meetings between CASSA and this group, most of them find it a burden to bear the cost of utility bills.



Even though their monthly bills are not much because their electricity consumption is limited due their situation but they still find it burdensome, as they do not have fixed income.

Dr. George said the proposal should be considered because besides medical and transportation incentives, the senior citizens do not receive other benefits in the annual budget.

He said, it is not difficult to identify prospective senior citizens who are eligible for this rebate because it involves specific residential areas and home ownership.

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As I See It – Budget 2017 Hopes!

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The government should under Budget 2017, consider lowering the Goods and Services Tax (GST) rate to 3 per cent from 6 per cent at present.

Consumers Association of Subang and Shah Alam, Selangor (CASSA) President, Datuk Dr. Jacob George said, even though the proposal is hard to implement, the government should consider due to the high cost of living, rising unemployment and weak consumer spending.

Some employers have also laid off workers as companies want to downsize operations as well as due to the economic slowdown.

George said, the rising cost of living which is soaring now is felt by all levels of society and workers, both the low-income, and the middle income groups.

“Whether or not the government is aware of it, supermarkets, shopping centres and night markets are increasingly deserted. It’s hard for consumers to spend when they have to tighten their belts.

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“There are heads of families who worked three jobs to put food on the table for their children, make ends meet to ensure household and school expenses are enough.

“Therefore, I suggest that the government reduce the GST rate to 3.0 per cent so that the consumers can ‘breathe’,” he told MalaysiaGazette.

He added, all parties acknowledged the implementation of GST has a significant impact on people’s lives because food prices, especially, are rising, even though it has been clarified by the government.

He said the problem occurred because government enforcement agencies did not monitor when the GST was first enforced.

“If monitoring is not done, the price of the same item in store A is not the same as store B, C and D.

George also requested the Prime Minister to consider imposing restrictions on the entry of foreign workers into the country because their presence has affected the livelihoods of the local residents.

He explained, the local population is now finding it difficult to get jobs because they have to compete with the foreigners even in sectors that are not supposed to be in the first place.

“At the supermarkets, cashiers are foreign workers. So much so that Indonesians can open stores in Chow Kit, and Brickfields is brimming with Bangladeshis.

“Even the grocery stores are filled with foreign workers,” said George who did not agree with the government’s view that Malaysians do not want to work in the 3D or ‘dirty, dangerous and difficult’ employment sector.

“If the salary paid commensurate, who do not want to work in the sector, and the government should be transparent in exposing the sectors involved,” he explained.

He said dependency on foreign workers should be reduced as it does not gel with Malaysia’s aspiration to become high income nation.

“We need skilled workers in Malaysia, not an influx of unskilled foreign workers,” he said.

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‘Why are we doing everything else, but teach, or address core critical state of the art education modules, which will make our students to be internationally competitive?

No wonder, we are threatened to open our doors to international auditors bench marking the quality of Malaysian education for their classification narratives?’


On my return from my interactions in the ASEAN/APEC belt on several public policy initiatives and future directions, I was again appalled to read, yet of another very embarrassing and heinous crime and of another level of idiocy by our educationist, aided by incompetent Parents and Teachers Association groups (PIBG), who are doing everything but teaching?

No, it is not about high powered or systemic corruption or the alleged manipulation of the systems of checks and balances or what was the message from all these alleged directives, manipulations and inferences to Malaysian’s future generations addressing the rule of law issues or its impact on a nation allegedly on a spiraling downwards on all fronts?

At an international conference on crime issues in 1986, I had stated that for every rape, assault, or serious crimes reported, that over 15 goes unreported!

So I am really disturbed to read, that in a country where religious phrases, claims, utterances, dressing, political leaning, that comes across with every breath in public life and narrative, we have another very disturbing trend, equally thriving?

No, I am not talking about the number of pregnancies or baby dumping cases, the bullying epidemic, the alleged rape in schools or the political rhetoric from deranged religious men and women, who want to criminalize those affected instead of introducing a narrative of counseling, rehabilitation of body, mind and soul or the attempts by thugs and political shenanigans, desperately trying to create race based riots in Malaysia!

In the first, I am alluding to the case of a grandfather and an uncle of a Form One student in Batu Berendam in Malacca who were detained to assist investigations into her rape and molest.

I congratulate the Malacca Police Chief and his team for detaining the two men, aged 64 and 32, after the girl’s mother lodged a police report at the Batu Berendam police station on Oct 9 and 10.

Sadly, the child had been living with her grandparents since childhood because her parents worked in Singapore.

Allegedly, she was reportedly molested by her grandfather several times since August and the victim was also shown porn videos.

She was allegedly also raped repeatedly since May by her uncle who lived in the same house.

I am advised that the said victim had been placed under the custody of the Social Welfare Department.

It is so sad to see the breakdown of the Malaysian society at so many levels, and, one cannot but wonder what is coming next up the road?

And sadly, everyone is busy politicking or covering up their own misdemeanors or felony, or attacking their political rivals, that there is no time to plan, equip and launch positives in nation building?

And I have always stated that these are the reasons for the continued breakdown of standards not just quality education, of skilled and visionary educationists, proactive, public policy deliberations free of racism, in our institutions over the years as we had in the founding years to 1977!

Where the schools and teachers employed were those passionate about teaching and not just rejects, in many cases, who have no other options but to take this course of employment as teachers?

Worst, when instead of teaching academics, some play politics, are racists, while others skilled are asked to do every other undertaking except, teach because of the ‘politics of the day and polarization?’

And those voicing out for the good of quality education sidelined, targeted, or penalized instead of applauded?

Which brings me to the second issue of discussion.

I am advised that parents of children at a primary school in Batu Caves have expressed concern after Year 6 pupils were made to participate in a mock animal sacrificial ritual involving some 70 quails.

That checks at the school confirmed that the programme was conducted yesterday as part of an annual exercise to “educate students on the proper way of slaughtering animals” according to religious principles.”

Inexplicably, I am made to understand that it was a mock slaughter, approved by the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), was carried out at the school compound when classes were in session, and supervised by an Islamic studies teacher who guided the students.

And yes, one of the PTA members had supplied the school with the quails?

It is also understood that apart from the ritual slaughter lessons which made some students uneasy with the gory scenes from such an act, 12-year-old Muslim students also attended an exercise on the ritual bath (mandi wajib), an obligatory act after sexual intercourse or ejaculation.

The ritual sacrifice left some parents shocked and wondering if the exercise was part of the national syllabus.

There are reports that several parents were on record that their children were traumatized after watching the birds being slaughtered.

Actually, please enlighten me what the school was trying to achieve by having the gruesome event in the school?

By the way, our enlightened educationist at that school and its PIBG should now explain what the said school management trying to prove, by getting a bunch of 12-year-old children to slaughter live animals?

What is next – cows, goats?

Why are we doing everything else, but teach, or address core critical state of the art education modules, which will make our students to be internationally competitive?

No wonder, we are threatened to open our doors to international auditors bench marking the quality of Malaysian education for their classification narratives?

Will it show, how far down we have degraded thanks to policy initiatives unfounded in total and quality education practices?
Will these be holistically addressed or the damage be total?

The founding fathers if alive today will be fuming!

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“As for the FA – their priority and rightly so, is to protect the wider interests of the game and maintain the highest standards of conduct in football.

And the England job is a position, which must demonstrate strong leadership and show respect for the integrity of the game at all times.”

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Big Sam Allardyce has lost his England job, a position that he has always coveted!

And just after 67 days at that job and after just one game in charge, following allegations of his willingness to be involved in dodgy dealings and shady transactions over player transfers.

This is nothing new in many parts of God’s earth where from industry captains to politicians, head of states, criminals, to cooks, bankers and fund operators and others who like to live on the edge and repeating the mantra that “ rules are there to be broken!

But I have always stated that with rule breaking comes consequences and the right thing to do when caught, not further excuses or a local and global blame game but to stand aside!

As I write this piece – Big Sam has lost his job!

It is reported that FA chairman Greg Clarke and chief executive Martin Glenn met with Allardyce at Wembley following the damaging newspaper revelations left his position untenable.

It was positioned politely that Allardyce agreed to leave by mutual consent following the Daily Telegraph sting operation that captured him negotiating lucrative speaking engagements in the Far East, as well as making damaging remarks about the FA and a host of other issues, including the banned system of third-party ownership of players.

And Glenn, who led the three-man panel that nominated Allardyce, made it clear it was impossible for the FA to ignore the incendiary comments given their position as the game’s governing body, even though they would have preferred to keep the former Sunderland boss.

And how did it all happen?

The story here was broken by the Telegraph in London, through an undercover sting involving journalists posing as representatives of a football agency, who had no scruples about bending Football Association and FIFA rules on transfers, particularly so-called third party ownership deals!

Several years ago, this same media group also exposed the scale of British MPs expenses scandal, which rocked Westminster!

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In this recent case, Allardyce was secretly filmed by the paper’s investigations team, appearing to make comments suggesting how to circumvent regulations, which prohibit the sale and transfer of players, who are whole or partly owned by third parties – agents or investors – rather than the club who is selling them, meaning that they take a slice of the deal when the player is sold rather than the cash going to the club concerned.

It is reported that Big Sam accepts, he made a significant error of judgment and has apologized!

Too little too late?

The jury is still out?

As for the FA – their priority and rightly so, is to protect the wider interests of the game, and maintain the highest standards of conduct in football.

And the England job, is a position which must demonstrate strong leadership and show respect for the integrity, of the game at all times.

It is sad that the end result of this, Big Sam’s reputation will now be tarred, by the ignominy of his departure, but he will probably always be the answer to a trivia question – who was the England manager with the shortest tenure and a 100 per cent record.

But this episode also brings to ground zero, the entrapment journalism that is prevalent in some societies!

We may need to address this in a court of law soon as entrapment is also an offense in certain jurisdictions!

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As I indicated, prior to this shocking revelation, another episode that rocked was that the same media group exposed the scale of British MPs expenses scandal some years ago!

There were consequences there too, with the media publishing its exposé of MPs’ expenses, triggering the most explosive British political scandal of the modern era.

Those despicable revelations of abuse by some MPs – complete with jaw-dropping details of fraud, fake receipts, claims for ornamental duck houses and moat-cleaning – caused such a sensation that it seemed for a while as though the Palace of Westminster might at any moment be stormed by an army of justifiably irate taxpayers!

And there were justifications for that, as voters were already furious with the Establishment.

If my memory serves me correct, in the previous autumn, several of Britain’s biggest banks had come within hours of collapse, requiring bail-outs to the tune of many tens of billions of pounds, all approved by ministers who had failed to regulate the reckless banks properly in the boom years.

As the country headed into the deepest recession in seven decades, here were some of their elected representatives caught with their hands in the till, taking public money in vast amounts.

As a British trained and educated Attorney, I believe the tsunami which broke over Westminster was unlike anything experienced, even by the most jaded MPs and journalists.

Come off your backsides – globally the message is clear, yet individuals in positions of public office continue to fail and worst, refuse to stand aside, when caught for inappropriate behavior, bringing disrepute to public office, or corruption, which is despicable!

In some countries, those behind the ‘stink operation’ may ever disappear in inexplicable circumstances, while the regime of dirty politicians continue?

While others criminalize the whistle blowers or worst sweep the dirt under the carpet!

But the global message is clear – if one fails to love up to expectations in public office, it is time to go!

And there must be a universal global action to address this urgently!

Big Sam made a very bad decision, and it has costs him dearly!

He let down many in the industry and supporters!

But he did the right thing – to stand down and walk away.

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“And there must be political will, not rhetoric and attempts to protect shenanigans and politicians, under the excuse, that corruption is a domestic affair, and, its exposure undermines the sovereignty of a nation!”

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It is a fact that corruption is nothing new in many parts of the world!
So much said, written, discussed, exploited, promised and denied!

From East to West, North to South, we all know how corruption damages the social and institutional fabric of many countries, but despite so, it is far more potent in today’s society, then it ever was and in some, systemic, justified in race and political ideology!

As such, I will instead attempt to look at the reform options and avenues open to future generations to address this abomination and sin, that has gone untouched, unaddressed and even if addressed, only cosmetically!

I have always being an advocate who has recommended a two-pronged strategy aimed at increasing the benefits of being honest and the costs of being corrupt, what I call a sensible combination of “reward and punishment” as the driving force of reforms.

To address it, I will attempt to look at several options available to us.

1. A Well Paid Civil Service!

Will a well-paid civil service act as a deterrent against corruption?

This was raised in Singapore several decades ago, and addressed implemented accordingly and successfully, by that government to this date!

And credit to the much endeared and loved affectionately, founding father of Singapore, the late Premier, Mr Lee Kuan Yew!

Some say that whether civil servants are appropriately compensated or grossly underpaid will clearly affect motivation and incentives.

That if the public sector wages are too low, employees may find themselves under pressure to supplement their incomes in corrupt activities.

I will not deny that there is evidence from several countries, where this is true with empirical work showing that in a sample of less developed countries, there is an inverse relationship between the level of public sector wages and the incidence of corruption.

But, then again, there are also evidence that greed has no borders as seen in several countries, where despite wealth and political power, greed over-runs all like a runaway bullet train!

2. Transparency & Independent Appropriation and Procurement Task Force

Only the corrupt, will disagree that the creation of transparency and openness in government spending will curtail and reduce corrupt activities.

In several countries, both rich and poor subsidies, tax exemptions, public procurement of goods and services, soft credits, extra-budgetary funds under the control of politicians—all are elements of the various ways in which governments manage public resources.

And yes, governments collect taxes, tap the capital markets to raise money, receive foreign aid and develop mechanisms to allocate these resources to satisfy a multiplicity of needs.

I cannot deny that several countries do this in ways, that are relatively transparent and make efforts, to ensure that resources will be used in the public interest.

The more open and transparent the process, the less opportunity it will provide for malfeasance and abuse.

I have always advocated and supported a narrative, that in countries where citizens are able to scrutinize government activities and debate the merits of various public policies also makes a difference.

In this respect, press freedoms and levels of literacy will, likewise, shape in important ways, the context for reforms.

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Whether the country has an active civil society, with a culture of participation could be an important ingredient supporting various strategies aimed at reducing corruption.

And governments should not hide corruption by hiding behind the Official Secrets Act (OSA) for example, or other draconian statutes!

For example, let me cite New Zealand, which is consistently one of the top performers in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index!

Are you aware that New Zealand is a pioneer in creating transparent budget processes, having approved in 1994 the Fiscal Responsibility Act, providing a legal framework for transparent management of public resources.

I have yet to discover any other country doing so!

3. Cutting Red Tape

I have always believed, that when governments create red tape and zig-zag policies, constant U-turns, it is an active potent avenue to spearhead corruption and this is very true in many countries!

And there is a very high correlation between the incidence of corruption, and the extent of bureaucratic red tape, as captured, for instance, by the Doing Business indicators suggests, the desirability of eliminating as many needless regulations while safeguarding the essential regulatory functions of the state.

The sorts of regulations that are on the books of many countries—to open up a new business, to register property, to engage in international trade, and a plethora of other certifications and licenses—the engagement of foreign workers, all these are sometimes not only extremely burdensome but governments have often not paused to examine whether the purpose for which they were introduced is at all relevant to the needs of the present.

My call to all governments in the ASEAN/APEC region is basically immediately to eliminate laws and programs that breed corruption.

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4. Replacing Regressive and Distorting Subsidies with Targeted Cash Incentives.

Subsidies are another example of how government policy can distort incentives and create opportunities for corruption.

We are agree that the objective of subsidies were to address inequalities and economic disparities within target populations by a “means test” but these are also under attack by abuse!

Did you know that according to an IMF study (2013), consumer subsidies for energy products amount to some $1.9 trillion per year, equivalent to about 2.5 percent of global GDP or 8 percent of government revenues.

These subsidies are very regressively distributed, with over 60 percent of total benefits accruing to the richest 20 percent of households, in the case of gasoline.

Removing them, could result in a significant reduction in CO2 emissions and generate other positive spillover effects.

In many countries, which includes Malaysia, subsidies often lead to smuggling, to shortages, and to the emergence of black markets.

Putting aside the issue of the opportunity costs (how many schools could be built with the cost of one year’s energy subsidy?), and the environmental implications associated with artificially low prices, subsidies can often put the government at the center of corruption-generating schemes.

I have always advocated, that it is far better to replace expensive, regressive subsidies with targeted cash transfers with the protocols put in!

Should this not be instead encouraged now?

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5. Entrenching International Conventions

Thanks to a globalized economy corruption, today has a cross-border dimension, and the international legal framework for corruption control is a key element among the options open to governments.

And I am grateful that this framework has improved significantly over the past decade.

And in addition to the OECD’s Anti-Bribery Convention, in 2005 the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) entered into force, and by late 2013 had been ratified by the vast majority of its 140 signatories.

Let me tell you, that the UNCAC is a promising instrument, because it creates a global framework involving developed and developing nations and covers a broad range of subjects, including domestic and foreign corruption, extortion, preventive measures, anti-money laundering provisions, conflict of interest laws, means to recover illicit funds deposited by officials in offshore banks, among others.

And those nations who are signatories – you have a duty of care, a social international responsibility to implement these, without fail!

And true, that the UN has no enforcement powers, and as such, the effectiveness of the Convention as a tool to deter corruption will very much depend on the establishment of adequate national, international and cross border, monitoring mechanisms to assess government compliance and major global sanctions to follow for noncompliance.

As an attorney, I have always argued that a more workable approach in the fight against corruption may consist of more robust implementation of the anti corruption laws in the 40 states that have signed the OECD’s Anti-Bribery Convention.

And there must be political will, not rhetoric and attempts to protect shenanigans and politicians, under the excuse, that corruption is a domestic affair and its exposure undermines the sovereignty of a nation!

To be effective, in the private sector, governments, will need to be more pro-active in cracking down on OECD companies, that continue to bribe foreign officials.

In their efforts to protect the commercial interests of national companies, governments have at times been tempted to shield companies from the need to comply with anti corruption laws, in a misguided attempt not to undermine their position vis-à-vis competitors in other countries.

And certainly, trade promotion should not be seen to trump corruption control.

Many governments continue to be afflicted by double standards, criminalizing bribery at home, but, often looking the other way when bribery involves foreign officials in non-OECD countries or the other way around?

6. Deploying Smart Technology

Just as government-induced distortions, provide many opportunities for corruption, it is also the case that frequent, direct contact between government officials and citizens can open the way for illicit transactions.

And one way to address this problem, is to use readily available technologies to encourage more of an arms-length relationship, between officials and civil society!

In this respect, the Internet has been proved to be an effective tool to reduce corruption.

In several countries, the use of online platforms to facilitate the government’s interactions with civil society and the business community, has been particularly successful in the areas of tax collection, public procurement, and red tape.

Perhaps, one of the most fertile sources of corruption in the world, is associated with the purchasing activities of the state.

Purchases of goods and services by the state can be sizable, in most countries somewhere between 5-10 percent of GDP.
More so, the arms industry for starters!

And not surprisingly, the awarding of contracts can involve a measure of bureaucratic discretion, and because most countries have long histories of graft, kickbacks, and collusion in public procurement, more and more countries have opted for procedures that guarantee adequate levels of openness, competition, a level playing field for suppliers, fairly clear bidding procedures, and so on.

In this respect, Chile is one country that has used the latest technologies, to create one of the world’s most transparent public procurement systems in the world.

For example, ChileCompra was launched in 2003, and is a public electronic system for purchasing and hiring, based on an Internet platform.

It has earned a worldwide reputation for excellence, transparency and efficiency.

It serves companies, public organizations as well as individual citizens, and is by far the largest business-to-business site in the country, involving 850 purchasing organizations.

I am advised that in 2012, users completed 2.1 million purchases issuing invoices totaling US$9.1 billion.

It has also been a catalyst for the use of the Internet throughout the country.

So far in my narrative herewith, is aimed at combating corruption, with the underlying philosophy that eliminating the opportunity for corruption, by changing incentives, by closing off loopholes and eliminating misconceived rules that encourage corrupt behavior, we address the issue.

But at the same time, I am fully committed to an approach, that focuses solely on changing the rules and the incentives, accompanied by appropriately harsh punishment, for violation of the rules!

To be far more effective, if it is also supported by efforts to buttress the moral and ethical foundation of human behavior.

Will this happen or forever be a dream, only time will tell!

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