Domestic flight price ceiling? Glad someone is reading

On March 5, I wrote a column in The Sun Daily asking that the government consider lowering the price of air fare between Peninsular and Borneo.

The lack of controls in fares which made flights to Sabah and Sarawak sometimes higher than flights overseas, was brought to my attention by a friend on Facebook.  Continue reading “Domestic flight price ceiling? Glad someone is reading”

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Budget 2017 Part 2: The bad

Continuing from Part 1, now we look at things the government obviously did not think through well enough. Perhaps it was intentional, perhaps it was an ‘oops’ moment, or perhaps there are things which are in fact politically driven.

These points are some of the things that are obviously screwed up in Budget 2017. Continue reading “Budget 2017 Part 2: The bad”

An MOF company without government backed guarantees?

It came as a rather weird revelation today in the The Edge’s Financial Daily that 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) did not have any letter of support for their debts.

In a written reply, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said that the Ministry of Finance had no legal obligation to cover 1MDB’s US$3.5 bil bonds to International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC) for giving the former US$1 bil last year.

If this is indeed true, then where does the debt stop? Who would in the end be responsible for settling the debt? Continue reading “An MOF company without government backed guarantees?”

The Malay Mail Online: Can Malaysian families afford a homemaker?

APRIL 29 — In the past week, Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) once again raised the issue of how wives joining the workforce would neglect families.

For those who may not know, our labour figures show that 52 per cent of Malaysian women are participating in our workforce these days, with further encouragement by government agencies to increase that number further.

That being said, Isma’s argument is from the rationale that there needs to be someone to care for the family, particularly children require a mother to raise them.

This isn’t the first time they have raised this point and so, we could say their stance has been secure — as is my personal stance. And since the head of Isma’s women’s wing is in fact the daughter of economists, I am certain she understands the argument against women taking a passive role in economics.

It is a valid point to say that someone has to care for the kids, but to say that families need to single out moms as homemaker is wrong, particularly in current day realities where we have single parent families and are stuck in what Massachusetts junior senator Elizabeth Warren has explained as the “two-income trap”.

For the unfamiliar, Warren’s book details how the market was affected with women joining the workforce, thus the prices of assets increased to the point of normalising the need for two breadwinners for each family.

And in Malaysia, the economics of this argument rings true when you have official household incomes averaging more than RM6,000 and yet official wage figures averaging a lot less than that.

In simpler terms, our current economy — household income versus the cost of living — does not make it viable for a single income family to live a prosperous, less challenging life.

Of course, it is a worthy goal to aim for, no less, to have someone as a full-time homemaker, but it also raises multiple questions. For one, I would contend why the government would have to issue out scholarships and student loans to women who refuse to join the workforce since it would be counterproductive.

Unless, of course, Isma advocates wives to then start up cottage industries or micro-businesses for a secondary income stream instead of just depending on husbands to become sole breadwinners.

For myself personally, I believe both genders should be given the same consideration when it comes to parenting responsibilities. If the moms so chooses to join the workforce on flexible hours, then the fathers should receive the same.

Similarly, there’s nothing wrong with giving both parents paternity leave to learn how to care for a newborn.

This is the evolution of society itself these days in which there is no gender stereotyping of who can raise a child and take on the role of homemaker better. We have moved on from the concept of women knowing how to cook and clean while men go out and know how to earn money.

In fact I would contend that even in the history of the state of Kelantan and perhaps Negri Sembilan, for ages those roles were reversed.

But at the same time, if there are those with the belief that they should become dedicated homemakers, that is alright for them to do so as long as it doesn’t impact anyone else. That is basically liberalism — allowing such a choice.

Having been raised in a family where at times there was only a single income stream in the 1990s, even then it was not as easy as it sounds and sacrifices had to be made. And honestly I believe it will be tougher for this current new generation of families who have seen wages not tying up with the cost of living.

That being said, I wouldn’t advocate it in our country for a simple reason — women tend to be more level headed in Malaysia compared to men. We have a higher number of women entering and graduating from tertiary education, proving they’ve outperformed men from an intellectual standpoint.

I would like to see them fight for equal wages, breaking glass ceilings in the corporate world and still having the ability to multitask raising a family while still earning an income worthy of their contributions.

I have seen such women in action with awe, thriving in whatever they choose to do. And it is my personal belief that we need these individuals to lead us into the future back into prosperity.

And while Isma believes that there is no greater calling for married women than to become homemakers, I humbly disagree by believing women and men should have equal opportunities to prove they can be more than their gender stereotypes.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online. – See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/what-you-think/article/can-malaysian-families-afford-a-homemaker-hafidz-baharom#sthash.HmdI2fer.dpuf

Labour Day: Who keeps this country running?

Today is May 1st, the traditional Labour Day celebration both nationwide and also internationally recognised. For this year’s commemoration, I believe it is important for us to have a proper discussion on who truly keeps this country running.

And of course, this piece would not happen if it hadn’t been for those in our very quiet, very underappreciated statisticians in the civil service – particularly the National Statistics Department headed by Datuk Dr Haji Abdul Rahman Hassan and his team. Continue reading “Labour Day: Who keeps this country running?”

Taxes and Patriotism

Oliver Wendell Holmes once said that “taxes are the price we pay for living in a civilised society”. Known in America as The Great Dissenter, this quote of his has been seen even in television as part and parcel of why people are made to pay tax.

I wrote once that there was a need for people to look at the Goods and Services Tax (GST) as part and parcel of levelling the tax playing field.
And quite honestly seeing as how less than 10 percent of the Malaysian workforce was paying taxes to support government programmes such as expanding public transport and even fixing up roads or even the plethora of subsidies we all benefit from, it was timely to introduce it.
However, the stench of hypocrisy among the rich and our so-called political leaders preaching “patriotism” reeks.
In the last few days, leaked documents dubbed the “Panama Papers” have detailed some 1,500 Malaysians who have offshore bank accounts which were used for evading taxes. Among these leaders include the son of the Prime Minister himself and his nephew, and Mahathir’s son as well.
Now, personally, I’m going to be digging through those names soon since I’ve the ample time to do so.
But at the same time, we also have political leaders coming out to say that having offshore bank accounts are not a crime. This much is true, as pointed out by Khairy Jamaluddin, Tengku Tan Sri Razaleigh Hamzah and even Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz – the last one even going all out to admit even he stashed cash out of the country.
However, how do you justify the hypocrisy of supporting everyone paying taxes and especially the GST while you yourselves all dodge it with the ability of forming offshore bank accounts?
How do you look at the regular everyday Malaysian to tell them to bear the brunt of the cost when it is obvious that you yourself cheat the system to avoid doing the same?
The actions of politicians – so called “Malay Nationalists” even – using offshore accounts to avoid doing their simple patriotic duty to the nation? How do you balance this with all those words of yours telling people to do otherwise?
By all means, it isn’t criminal. But the double speak of so-called patriots trying to avoid paying their dues does leave a bad taste in every Malaysians mouths who understands having been told to deal with living under a new tax code without proper oversight.
And the Malaysian people will raise even more questions; primarily, were the tax ringgits they paid as part of their patriotic duty to the point of struggling to make ends meet, end up in some Datuk or Tan Sri or Puan Sri’s account for their generational slush fund?
At the same time, perhaps the LHDN would like to comment on the need to tax offshore cash or what other ramifications this means to the financial sector – which, by the looks of it, has been lacking in securing the outflow of cash offshore without any red flags raised.
Here we are in a nation where the everyday Malaysian is struggling to make ends meet, with many young graduates still unemployed and trying to eke out a living.
Meanwhile, the top 5 percent it seems have already begun to send their monies out of the country since 2010. And by all means, we do need to spread this message out to the Malaysian public to make them understand just what is being done by the rich to avoid paying to keep the country running.
To that end, it would make perfect sense for the list of names to be published and double checked against the registrar of companies to find their links to our corporate and political world. If taxes are truly what we pay to live in a civilised society, then by all means our leaders in both the civil and corporate sectors should prove their civility in bearing the burden to subsidise the poor – just like every other middle class Malaysian paying taxes and the GST.