Monday, June 30, 2008

Are Most Vice Chancellors or Rectors of State-owned Universities in Malaysia Political Appointees ?

There are hues and cries over the termination of service of the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Selangor (Unisel) which takes effects on 31st July, 2008, labelling the decision of the newly-installed State Government of Selangor as politically motivated.
I am more inclined to believe that any such appointment to the highest executive post of a public institute of higher learning in Malaysia is based on relatively some academic credentials of the appointee though not absolutely so. It doesn't come as a complete surprise to me when the service of the current VC of Unisel is terminated by the new Chief Minister of Selangor after the People's Front (PR) took over the administration of the state from the National Front (BN) after the 2008 General Elections. The new State Government has every rights to act the way they do if the action is legally in order. It has been reported that the VC was given an initial probationary period of 6 months before he can be confirmed in the top post. For reasons best known to the previous State Government, he was never confirmed at the end of the 6-month period and his probation was further extended to another 6 months. What does this tell you ? Under our prevailing Labour Laws, an employer has the rights to terminate the service of an employee by way of notice at any time at the former's discretion if the latter is not confirmed in his post. And I am not going to dwell on the intricacy of such Laws.
Like Unisel, another institute of higher learning under the ambit of the Selangor State Government is expected to undergo some reshuffles of its top management soon purportedly because of active political involvement of particular senior staff of the institute supporting and campaigning for the BN in the last General Elections. My common sense will tell me that such staff should willingly tender their resignation immediately when there was a change of government for moral reasons. If you are opposed to the current Government, you should go at your own accord. Period.
Are the conditions surrounding the dismissal of Unisel's VC similar to that of the other establishment ?

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Wednesday, June 25, 2008


Because of my own typo error, I wish to amend the Saudi's oil output figure which was wrongly quoted by me at about 1.o millions barrels per day. I t should have been read as about 10.0 millions barrels per day.
Going by the figures released by International Petroleum Monthly for the month of May, 2008, Saudi Arabia produced an average output of 9.2 millions barrels per day for the first 3 months of 2008.
The error is very much regretted.

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Another Fuel Price Hike is Looming in August

When the Malaysian Government announced the increase in retail price of fuel to RM2.70/litre from RM1.92 previously we were assured that there shall not be anymore increase in the price for the remaining of this year. Previously, Rt. Hon. Shahrir Samad, the Minister of Domestic Trade & Consumer Affairs, had announced in May that any fuel price increase would only be considered from August 2008 onwards, but the people of Malaysia was shocked by a pre-emptive decision of the Government to increase the price much earlier than expected in stark contradiction to Shahrir's earlier pronouncement. Was Shahrir trying to hoodwink the people, or was it a blatant lie ?
Now speculations are abound that the local fuel price shall be increased again sometime in August this year against the backdrop of a recent decision by Saudi Arabia to increase her petroleum output to almost 1.0 millions barrel per day.
In my mind, if the Government decides to advocate another price increase of fuel in August, then they are just heartless given the current price of basic necessities having increased by between 40 to 50%.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Out of Political Favour

The Rt. Hon. Yong Teck Lee is now being subject to an Anti-Corruption Agency's investigation over his RM5.0 millions deal during his tenure as the Chief Minister of Sabah. But what surprises me is the timing of such action following his statement on a potential withdrawal of the political party which he presides from the ruling National Front (BN) and his intention of pushing a Vote of No Confidence in the current sitting of the Parliament. Obviously this did not materialise when he, as the proponent of such motion, was absent from the parliamentary session.
The question is whether such action against him would have been triggered at all had he chose to remain a loyal member of the ruling coalition. Why now ? Wasn't the powers that be aware of such case as it happened then ? Was the 'malpractice' condoned by his political peers then when he was still a powerful BN supporter ?

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Malaysian Civil Servants in Business

It is a common knowledge that low-ranking staff of the public services of Malaysia have been engaged in small businesses of their own operating from their office desks. Their target customers are naturally their own colleagues at the office adopting the multi-level-marketing or direct-selling system. This has been going on knowingly by their own office peers who chose to keep both eyes closed on such illegal activities.
With the recent fuel price hike forced upon the people at large, the Government sees it fit to allow the government servants to set-up their own small business on a part-time basis in order to augment their income against the impact of the price hike of not only fuel but also their basic groceries for daily consumption. This is a part of the Government efforts to cushion the people against the spiralling prices of basic food items and all things in demand resulting the fuel price hike. It is not anticipated that the private sector will emulate this enigmatic step of the Government.
The first thing that strikes my mind is the potential effects of such move on the productivity of public servants when they are allowed to do business albeit outside their working hours when we already know that some of them have been active in business for some time right under the nose of their bosses. What worries me is that their official duties at the office would become secondary to their business enterprise. Their office duties would have to come second when they are in business. If their office hours end at 4.45pm they would then have to scramble immediately to engage with their business. As all people in the business would testify, you will have to do some thinking and planning prior to meeting the people you want to see for your business; and that means all these thinking and planning processes shall have to be done during your office hours compromising the real work you need to accomplish as a public servant.
All these efforts in alleviating the economic hardship of the people would have been unnecessary had the Government not decided to increase the price of fuel which happens to be one of the highest hikes in the world, if not the highest.

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