View issues with Tan Seng Giaw

Friday, November 21, 2008

Consider lowering petrol price further

DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong Dr Tan Seng Giaw calls on the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affair Minister to consider the need to reduce the price of petrol for the sixth time in three months, because the price of crude oil has gone down below US$50 per barrel.

On 21.11.2008, Dr Tan remarks on the lowest crude oil price of US$50 per barrel in New York for three and a half years, the 12 month crude future being RM49.62 per barrel. The London North Sea crude future is US$48.08 per barrel.

Yesterday, the minister Datuk Shahrir wound up the debate in Parliament on the budget allocation for his ministry. He mentioned the reduction of the petrol price for the fifth time since 28.8.2008. Petrol is RM 2 per litre and diesel RM1.90.

I asked him three questions: when will he lower the petrol price again? After the fifth adjustment, how much will the Government make from petrol? Will petrol stations be short of petrol?

Shahrir said that there should not be shortage of petrol. Owners of some stations complained that they buy petrol at the old price. With the new price they sell at a disadvantage.

Although the minister has not replied on the possibility of reducing petrol price for the sixth time in three months, he must consider the matter seriously as the price of crude is below US$ 50 per barrel. Lowering petrol price further will lighten the burden on the people.

We hope that the current financial measures including the RM 7 billion stimulation package will be effective against the global financial tsunami. Besides promoting credit flow and tackling unemployment, reducing the price of goods especially petrol and diesel is essential.

Dr Tan Seng Giaw

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Universities: meritocracy, freedom in research and no party political interference

DAP National Deputy Chiarman and MP for Kepong Dr Tan Seng Giaw stresses that universities including University of Malaya must practise meritocracy, freedom of research and freedom from party political interference.

Dr Tan refers to the wish of MU new Vice-Chancellor Datuk Dr Ghauth Jasmon to make the university one of the top 200 in the world.

Since his appointment as V-C this month, he is reported to have presented a formula that includes steps (1) to invite famous scholars from overseas to the unversity to do research;(2)to attract foreign students to do master and doctoral degrees;(3)to encourage First Class Honours Malaysian students to further their studies at home;(4)to set up special committee to scrutinize and upgrade the progress of research students.

The previous V-C did mention increasing the number of lecturers with Doctorate of Philosophy (Ph.D.) from 48% to 60% (in the Strategic Plan it is 80%);treating holders of Ph.D. from local and foreign universities equitably and improving international cooperation.

The above-stated formula is acceptable. We hope that the Federal Government takes it seriously and refrain from undue interference. The V-C must listen to the views of more people, especially lecturers and students.

For example, we often hear that a lecturer who works hard on research and teaching and has good qualifications is bypassed. Instead, the university promotes a lecturer who does less work and has lower qualifications. A professor, lecturer or researcher from a foreign leading university is not treated as well as a local person with the same qualifications. Are these complaints true?

There are geniuses such as Huxley and Einstein who could produce research papers which are much higher than Ph.D.s. They discover new things.

Ph.D denotes that a person has done at least three years of meaningful research under strict supervision. Our universities must ensure that Ph.D. is awarded according to internatiopnal standards with external examiniers from leading universities either local or foreign.

It is essential that the government allocates suitable funds for research, while assuming the responsiblity to prevent party political interference in universities. We must not alllow any form of extremism that will destroy them.

We must understand the nature of research work, giving researchers freedom. Success and failure occur in researches. Perhaps not more than 10% of reseach findings can be commercialized.

Dr Tan Seng Giaw

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Reduction of road toll rate is a better way

DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong Dr Tan Seng Giaw urges the Federal Government to discuss further with 24 road toll concessionaires to reduce the toll rate suitably, instead of the early morning package of 10% reduction by PLUS.

Once the concessionaires print their contracts with the Federal Government and make them public, the people especially MPs and members of consumer associations must try to understand the contents and come up with legally acceptable proposals. Parliament should have its caucus to pore over these documents, looking for ways to relieve the people of the burden.

Dr Tan comments on the North South Highway concessio0naire PLUS's early morning offer of 10 % reduction of toll for roadusers and the 5% reduction for those who pay over RM200 per month. This offer benefits only those who use the highway between 12 midnight and 7 am.

We have been debating road tolls in the House for over 20 years when the privatization of the North South highway was first mooted by the Federal Government. Then , DAP objected to the privatization and took the matter to court; three Supreme Court judges voted against DAP and two supported. When the Government won the case in 1987, DAP leaders were in Kamunting University. The Government went ahead with privatization and United Engineers Malaysia (UEM) was appointed the concessionaire. When the concessionaire was in trouble, the Government rescued it. Now, PLUS is the concessionaire; it is a government linked company.

We believe that unless there are special circumstances, roads should be built using public fund. Once a road is privatized, the concessionaire collects toll that is a burden to users for a long period. Although a concessionaire can have corporate responsibility, its main purpose is to make profits. If there is a repair or widening of the road, it refers to the contract to increase toll rate.

The current global tsunami causes economic slowdown and recession. Malaysia is not spared. Crude oil price has fallen from USD 140 to USD 56 per barrel. Since 23 August, 2008, the Government has reduced the retail price of petrol five times: petrol is RM 2 per litre and diesel RM 1.90 per litre. Price of goods including road tolls should go down accordingly.

There are many factors that influence the price of goods such as the cost of transport and import and unscrupulous operators. Hypermarkets reduce the price of some of the goods. But, shopkeepers and petty traders face difficulty. For example, having imported goods at a high cost they are persuaded to reduce the price.

Dr Tan Seng Giaw

Monday, November 17, 2008

National District Education Cooperation Council must be fair to all schools

DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong Dr Tan Seng Giaw believes that the way for the National District Education Cooperation Council to be effective is to be truly fair to all schools.

Dr Tan realizes that over five million students and hundreds of thousands of teachers in 7,643 primary schools and 2,165 secondary schools present myriad problems. According to Deputy Education Minister Datuk Razali Ismail II, the council streamlines information on schools including academic issues, discipline, welfare, profession, facilities and building schools.

For example, using English to teach mathematics and science causes controversy. Allocations of fund for building schools and providing facilities must be reasonable and fair. It is reported that KL Education Department issues an oral directive to refrain schools from collecting fees for miscellanious expenses before April, 2009. Is it correct?

Deputy Education Minister I Ir Dr Wee Ka Siong says that the ministry has not issued the directive on the ban on collection of fees for miscellaneous expenses. But, there will be a new way to collect such fees.

The council must be just and creditable in its activities, avoiding party political factor.

Dr Tan Seng Giaw

Liberal economic policy to improve confidence

DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong Dr Tan Seng Giaw calls on the Federal Government to implement liberal economic policy, avoiding extremist statements such as on ownership of shares and housing quota. A fair and just policy promotes confidence.

Confidence is one of the factors in the strength of the Malaysian economy. As we look forward to a better management of our credit flow and unemployment, we have to ensure that there are no extremist statements that undermine confidence.

Dr Tan made the call on 16 November, 2008 at the Pahang DAP Convention in Temerloh.

The global financial tsunami affects Malaysia, causing a slowdown. From the 2009 national budget of RM 207.9 billion, the Federal Government implements a RM 7 billion stimulus package to increase consumer spending. But, in the current atmosphere, will it be possible to collect revenue of RM 161.6 billion? Will the budget deficit be more than 4.8%. Will the 2009 deficit be 3.6%. The current expenditure is estimated as RM 154.2 billion and the development expenditure RM 53.7 billion.

Germany, Japan and Singapore are having recession. We are watching Malaysia, USA and UK. China has introduced a RMB 4,000 billion stimulus package because her growth will be slower.
What happens to Malaysia? The Federal Government denies that there will be recession. The Governor of Bank Negara Tan Sri Zeti believes that this country will not go into recession, the value of Ringgit may go up and there may be adjustment of interest rate. She forecast the growth next year at 3.5%. Some forecast at 1.9%.

As confidence is important in the economy, we do not want to hear extremist statements. The Federal Government must adopt a liberal policy, being fair to all.

Dr Tan Seng Giaw

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Speeding up the judiciary and integrity

DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong Dr Tan Seng Giaw believes that besides speeding up the judicial process, lifelong education on integrity is essential.

On 7 November, 2008, Dr Tan attended the Annual Convention of the Malaysian Integrity Institute (IIM) in Kuching.

Tan Sri Zaki Tun Azmi , who was appointed the Chief Justice on 18 October, 2008, was an important speaker at the plenary session of the convention. He stressed his desire to ensure that the judicial process including getting the files is speeded up. Reduction of the time (and simplifying bureaucracy) prevents corruption.

For example, previously there were 13 persons looking after 13 sections of the files, each having his or her own system. Now, it takes 3 to 4 minutes to get a file at the Appeal Court.

Tan Sri mentioned the efficiency of rubbish disposal in Singapore. There were speedy enforcement and punishment.

Dr Tan asked Tan Sri Zaki (and the Chairman interjected, giving warning against a long speech). Dr Tan said that he only needed over a minute. "Speedy judicial process including retrieving of files is correct. Recently, I saw occasionl piles of rubbish at the side of Orchard Road in Singapore. Why? (There are more litters on Malaysian roads).

"Usually, arms deals cause controversies all over the world. I am not referring to the Malaysian Government's proposal to buy 12 Eurocopters at RM1.6 billion. I would like to mention the unhappiness of the huge arms deal between UK and Saudi Arabia, a multibillion contract. We can see the efficiency of the British. But, the sales of sophisticated weapons result in furore. Why?"

The Chief Justice replied,"These are political."

Dr Tan Seng Giaw

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Need efficient and clean civil servants to face the financial tsunami

DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong Dr Tan Seng Giaw calls on all civil servants to work harder, becoming more efficient and cleaner, to help the people to face the economic downturn.

This means that the Federal Government must be determined to deal with irregularities such as corruption, and the five states under Pakatan must show leadership by example: clean, fair and humanitarian.

Dr Tan made the call on 2.11.2008 during the Ordinary Convention of the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur.

The recent financial tsunami has impact on the world including Malaysia. Although the Government insists that the economy has been diversified, that it would not go into recession and that the GDP growth for 2008 is estimated at 5%, Malaysia is definitely affected by the financial tsunami.

Oil price has plummeted from more than USD 140 per barrel to more than USD 60 per barrel. The Government has decreased the price of petrol to RM2.05 per litre and the formula for rebate will be changed. However, the price of goods must go down accordingly. It is equally important that 1.2 million civil servants buck up, becoming more efficient and clean, helping to reduce the burden on the people.

The civil servants must be more efficient and clean. The people must be very careful, preparing to face the economic woes.

Dr Tan Seng Giaw