View issues with Tan Seng Giaw

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Can increase in personnel be enough to control inflation?

DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong Dr Tan Seng Giaw urges the Government to step up its efforts to control inflation.

On 30 March, 2006, Dr Tan asked the Minister for Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Datuk Mohd Shafie Bin Haji Apdal about additional personnel to control the price of goods in the country. He replied that there was an increase of 745 personnel and proposed increase of 17 offices.

The total number of enforcement personnel in the ministry is 1746 and the offices will increase from 55 to 72. We hope that the increase in officers and offices will be effective in controlling inflation.

After the recent increase of petrol price by 30 sen per litre, prices of goods have shot up. In fact as the price of crude oil is over US$60 per barrel, the Consumer Price Index has increased by 1.8% a year in the past five years.

We notice that the Government has not been able to stop price hike effectively. Hence, we would like to see not just the increase in the number of officers and offices, but also the improvement in enforcement. We need more committed and disciplined personnel to check the price of goods in the country.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Any chance of a multinational partner for Proton?

DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong Dr Tan Seng Giaw would like the Government to look at the feasibility of securing a multinational partner for Proton, our national car.

How long do we have, before the world car market overwhelms Proton? We are worried about the precarious position of Proton.

Dr Tan questioned the Deputy Minister for International Trade and Industry Datuk Husni whether the recently announced National Automotive Policy was only a temporary measure to give Proton a breathing space. What was the long-term strategy?

The new negotiation with Mitsubishi may improve Proton products. But, it may not help with the networking and international market, let alone the peculiar market of Japan.

Fifteen years ago, the national car company was supposed to create a whole host of downstream activities and multiplier effects. It has done something including providing employment for thousands of people. The local content for its products is over 90%, whereas a car from Thailand may have less than 50% local contents.

In the last few years, the world car industry has changed drastically. General Motors, which was the biggest car maker in the world, is facing difficulties. Toyota is overtaking GM as the biggest, producing over 9.8 million vehicles a year.

The German auto maker, Volks Wagon, has not shown further interest in Proton. Toyota which helps in the new Proton factory in Tanjung Malim does not intend to be a partner; it has its own agenda. Daihatsu, which owns 51% of Perodua, is under Toyota.

While Thai cars do not have even 50% local contents, her auto industry provides over 100,000 jobs and exporting over 80,000 vehicles a year. Proton exports hardly 10,000, the highest being 17,000.

Just as Proton, Korean car makers, Kia and Hyundai, are new players. They excel, penetrating even the largest car market in the world, the United States of America. How are Kia and Hyundai managing? Are they interested to team up with Proton?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

GLCs must be more transparent

On 22 march, DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong spoke in Parliament for about 20 minutes. One of the issues raised was government-linked companies (GLCs).

Yesterday, 15 GLCs announced their key performance indicators (KPI) and return on equity (ROE). They were: Affin, Bank Islam, BCHB, Boustead, Golden Hope, Guthrie, MAS, Maybank, MBSB, MRCB, Proton, Sime Darby, TNB, TM and UEM World.

This important move may kindle the interest of investors. Certainly, KPIs are of interest to Malaysians.

"We believe in being free of inequalities and constraints that include the constraints of authoritarianism in all its forms. This would need the interdependent transformation of both state and civil society. There must be room for the articulation, expression and mediation of difference. There must be the right of dissent. We persist to struggle against totalitarianism, economic iniquities and social injustices.

One of the great iniquities is the long-term mismanagement of some of the government-linked companies (GLCs) such as Malaysia Airlines System (MAS). The Finance Minister Incorporated (MKD) was set up in 1957 under the act of the same name. By 31 December, 2002, the Government had invested through MKD totaling RM12.26 billion in 77 companies, the most prominent of which is Malaysian Banking Berhad (Maybank). MKD has Khazanah Nasional Berhad with a paid-up capital of RM5.4 billion and total assets RM36.871 billion. Khazanah controls 57 companies, the main ones being Tenaga Nasional Berhad, Telekom Malaysia, Bumiputra Commerce Holdings Berhad, Proton Holdings Berhad, UEM World Berhad and MAS. The scandal of APs, the precarious position of Proton and the saga of MAS continue to attract attention.

We wish the new Chief Executive Officer of MAS Idris Jalar well. We would like to see MAS recovering from the saga of disasters.

The Government must present in Parliament reports of MKD and Khazanah on the performance of these companies including the reasons for the success and failure."

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Step up efforts to fight bird flu--a global problem.

DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong Dr Tan Seng Giaw calls on the Government to cooperate more actively with other countries such as Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and China to combat the global spread of avian influenza, H5N1 virus.

Dr Tan asks the Agriculture and Agri-based Industry Minister Tan Sri Dato' Haji Muhyddin Bin Haji Mohd. Yassin about his efforts to investigate the ecology and cooperation with other countries to combat avian flu. During the debate on an emergency motion by Ipoh Barat M.P. M Kula, the Minster and Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek elucidated on the measures taken by both ministries to contain the outbreak of the disease among birds in Gombak, Selangor, Bukit Merah, Taiping, Perak, and Kepala Batas, Penang.

Malaysia has had experience in combatting viral epidemic such as Nipah. But, we must be more efficient. For example, the Nipah virus should have been named Ampang virus because it began in Ampang, Perak, brought there by flying foxes. Once the virus caused death in a man from Tambun, the authorities did not take drastic action, allowing infected pigs to be transported to Negeri Sembilan incuoding Nipah.

Now, H5N1 has been discovered in Gombak, Bukit Merah and Kepala Batas. Last year, it hit Tumpat, Kelantan. Where did it come from? Genetic sequencing showed that the virus in Gombak was similar to the strain in Indonesia, whereas that in Tumpat was similar to the strain in Thailand. Could the virus originate from fighting cocks smuggled into the country?

We hope that Agriculture and Health Ministries will improve their coordination, and that Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment be roped in because migratory birds are responsible for the spread of the virus to over 40 countries in the world.

As the Health Minister has said, there is no human infection. There are 21 hospitals that can receive H5N1 patients, if the virus spreads to humans. We hope that this will never happen.

Besides current preventive measures including the culling of birds in and around affected areas, we require long-term methods such as the further understanding of ecology, vaccine and cooperation with other countries. We need multinational efforts to combat this global problem.

Monday, March 20, 2006

A world-class public transport as in KL20.

DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong Dr Tan Seng Giaw calls for the public, the Government and Rapid KL to make integrated public transport world-calss.

Dr Tan attended on 16 March, 2006 at the Titiwangsa Station, Kuala Lumpur, the ceremony on integrated public transport organized by Rapid KL, the government-linked company (GLC) that is managing the integration of bus, light rail transit, monorail and commuter services. He also took part in a dialogue with the company on 3 March, 2006, in Jinjang North, attended by members of the public and staff members of the company. On 20 March, 2006, Dr Tan took a ride to-and-fro on Bus 236 from Metro Prima to Sungai Mas, Kepong.

The Kuala Lumpur Structural Plan (KL20) aims to make KL the international tropical garden city of light by 2020. This includes integrated public transport. Having a world-class transport has been the objective since the 70s last century. Things have not worked out. The Government allowed the takeover of most family-owned bus companies whcih were replaced by modern companies such as Intrakota and Park May. These companies failed. Now, the Government has taken over the public transport, letting Rapid KL do the job. We hope the company will be up to the mark.

World-class public transport requires world-class management and world-class passengers.

On 15 March, 2006, the Prime Minister's Department issued a statement, saying that it was setting up a Public Transport Fund with RM4.4 billion--the estimated savings from the reduction in petrol subsidy. The price of petrol has gone up by 30 sen per litre.

Whatever is saved from decreasing petrol subsidy should be used meaningfully, especially on education and employment. If it is for enhancing public transport, Rapid KL should make the best of this fund. It should ensure that the management is of very high standard, without bureaucracy and inefficiency. The public should keep an eye on this. Let us learn from the mistakes of previous companies.

Just as other new services, bus 236 from Metro Prima to Sg Mas began on 18 March, 2006. The first two days were free. There are various factors, including road works that delay the services. For example, this morning we were delayed by half an hour. Crossing the road at Metro Prima to catch the bus is dangerous.

On 27 March, 2006, Dr Tan will take bus 236 again. The Government subsidizes public transport. The people should be alert.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Can we not find the source of the Sarawak HFMD epidemics after 10 years?

DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong calls on the Government to identify the source of the sarawak Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) epidemics and to create a vaccine, if possible. It is not enough to take immediate precautionary measures such as cleaning and avoiding contacts.

Dr Tan took part in the debate on the Emergency Motion by Kuching MP Chong Chien Jen at the Dewan Rakyat on 16 March, 2006.

Epidemics of HFMD due to Enterovirus 71 (EV71) recur every three years, 1997, 2000, 2003 and 2006. There have been 4,994 cases in the current outbreak with 8 deaths. Kedah is reported to have 15 cases; the Government must release the details.

Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek announces correct measures such as closure of the 488 kindergardens and some of the 1,265 primary schools in Sarawak, cleanliness, education and increase of health staff members. We hope all people follow these measures.

During the school holidays, some parents are bringing their children to Peninsula by MAS flights. The Government must look into this to ensure that the disease does not spread.

After nearly ten years of repeated outbreaks, the Government has not discovered the source of EV71. Why? Is it feasible to create a vaccine as a long-term prevention? EV71 infection in children below 10 is similar in some aspects to poliomyelitis (polio) which is also an enterovirus. Polio spreads by oral-faecal route, whereas EV71 tends to be by oral-oral route among humans. We have polio vaccine. Why can't we have EV71 vaccine?

The Government must release more information on EV71 which is unlike the influenza virus H5N1 and the four types of dengue virus that mutate readily. It must also investigate the various factors such as the disturbance of the eco-system in Sarawak and the failure to encourage our experts to do further research on HFMD. Malaysia has the experts. They are capable of genetic sequencing and other research techniques. Why can't they find the source of EV71? Are they sidelined? Do they have enough fund?

It is unreasonable to say that it is too expensive to create a vaccine. The Government must tell us whether it is feasible to have a vaccine. Let us know further details such as the cost.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Post-closure management of Jinjang dumpsite?

DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong Dr Tan Seng Giaw urges the City Hall Kuala Lumpur (CHKL) to ensure that there is long-term management of the Taman Beringin dumpsite after closure.

This morning Dr Tan visited the dumpsite in Jinjang North to see if the Government had actually closed it down. There had been several announcements in the last few years on closure. But, CHKL continued to dump rubbish there. What was said to be building waste also contained household rubbish. Scavengers were active.

We see fewer lorries entering and leaving the site. We shall monitor it to see whether the closure starting today is genuine. Then, we hope CHKL will follow with long-term management of the dumpsite.

Jinjang North had had dumpsite for over 30 years. Previously, there was a dumpsite a stone's throw away from Taman Beringin. After over 20 years, the site was closed down with no follow-up management of the leachage and gases.

Even when CHKL says it is closing down the dumpsite, it has built a transfer station nearby. Lorries carrying waste continue to come to Jinjang North albeit through a different route.

Now, KL folks generate about 3,000 tonnes of waste daily. Hitherto, most of it was dumped in Jinjang North. So, CHKL must look after the health of Jinjang and Kepong people who have been exposed to a generation of toxicity.

It is a right beginning that CHKL has engaged Cypark to build leachage treatment plant and pipes to disperse gases from the waste. It must have regular analyses of the leachage and gases.