Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Gasoline price comparison - Malaysiakini

Dear Rai,

Thank you for commenting in my blog. I greatly appreciate your feedback.

Thank you also for the link to the EIA website that provides the average price of gasoline throughout a certain week.

I understand also that this website works on the average price of gasoline throughout the week (7-day average) but I would also like to highlight to you that there's also another website that I refer to for average prices but on a daily basis and is regularly updated on a daily basis.

I would like to answer why I prefer to choose the lowest available price to make comparisons with our local gas prices.

First, our local market price of gasoline is claimed to be SUBSIDIZED. It is understood that our gasoline is tax-free. Then it is also made known that the average cost per litre inclusive of refinery, transportation and etc come to about 32 sen per litre.

However, different states in America imposes different amount of taxes and that being a free market, it is open to market competition.

Next, as we know, Malaysia is an exporter while America is an importer and hence, we can assume that America is not enjoying a privileged position like Malaysia (as in other oil exporting nations).

Hence, being open market in nature, even the gas station that sells gasoline cheaply is assumed to be making a profit. And if such a gas station sells gasoline that is taxed and unsubsidized cheaper than our non-taxed and subsidized gasoline, it raises a stink, or two.

We therefore need not go through extensively to argue about the amount of taxes imposed in different states in America to attempt to derive at an answer as to which price best suits comparison to Malaysian gasoline price.

The bare fact is that, taxed and non-subsidized, Flying J gas station located in Oklahoma City sells Regular RN92 at the cheapest possible price, at USD2.13 per gallon or RM1.97 per litre.

Of course, most people may also want to compare our gas prices to other oil producing nations and still find that our prices are still much higher, correct? But if I were to use a figure from a free market like America, a pump price that is taxed and non-subsidized, don't you think it bears more weight?

I doubt if anyone but the Finance Minister and his ministry know how prices of gasoline is tabulated. It is to be a secret. 

The same as in America where different state imposes different taxes, the same is with nations globally. As Aussie gomen said, 'establishing the price of petrol is no simple matter and it is not one that can be summed up in a simple one-line statements'.

Shell Singapore atempts to answer most of the questions but still, it is not conclusive. Economic, political and transportation, one can't deny that Singapore is a tiny island whereby if the gomen doesn't control the amount of vehicles on the road, it will be choked to the extent that its economy may be paralysed. Hence, taxes could no doubt be high in Singapore.

However, there is something similar to GasBuddy in Singapore. GasBuddy is America's gasoline price watch as is PW. Last updated on 16/10/08, RON92 is at $1.813 per litre.

I simply have no answer how gasoline prices are arrived at but our Finance Ministry not being transparent about it doesn't help either.

They say we must compare apple to apple but doing that, comparing oil exporting nation to another oil exporting nation, our gasoline price is the highest.

Comparing apple to orange, an oil exporting nation whereby gasoline is tax-free and subsidized against a free market oil-importing nation, I'm thrown off my chair when our gasoline prices are higher!

So please correct me if I'm wrong to say that Regular RON92 that's sold at RM1.97 litre at Flying J gas station located in Oklahoma City is TAXED and NON-SUBSIDIZED. 

Strange, huh? I simply can't comprehend how Flying J gas station is able to sell Regular RON92 at a cheaper price compared any gas station in Malaysia.

I hope you would understand now why I picked and will continue to pick the lowest price of Regular RON92 available on American soil to do comparison. 

Beating around the bush, again I repeat that if comparing apple for apple, comparing prices of oil exporting nations, we are shamed. Roundabout in circle, comparing apple for orange, as I had done, someone up there knows no shame!

Regular RON92 at RM1.97 per litre - Malaysiakini

Look to your right. 

Yes, the gadget that gives you latest updates on gasoline prices in Oklahoma City.

Flying J gas station is selling Regular RON92 at USD2.13 per gallon! That works out to be around RM1.97 per litre, pump price!

Now, have any of you seen activities of oil tankers making deliveries to local gas stations? If you see little or no activity, chances are price reduction will be on its way.

I can hear those gas station operators screaming out loud that the are gonna suffer losses. I can imagine that they have voiced out and could have possibly written to the ones-in-power about the consequences of their suffering losses.

We understand well the funny relationship between this kanasai gomen and businesses where the interests of the rakyat is always placed last. 

Worst, with UMNO elections around, some of the Warlords or even UMNOputras who own gas stations could possibly sound the leaders about any drastic price reductions. 

It has shown its powers to the government during the Hari Raya exodus. They, the gas station operators have shown the nation what they are capable of doing. They had and they may once again allow their gas stations to run empty!

So, with the current weak prices of crude oil, and taking the above gas stations as a benchmark, Regular RON92, subsidized and non-tax, could well be below RM1.67 per litre!

Compared the current pump price of RM2.20, that's more than 53sen to adjust!

But .... due to the funny relationship between this kanasai gomen and businesses, expect perhaps a 10 to 20 sen price adjustment!

Monday, October 20, 2008

Tracking Regular RON92, Oklahoma, USA - Malaysiakini

As you can see, I've added a new gadget. The price of Regular RON92 is regularly updated. 

Currently, Regular RON92 is sold at USD2.19 at Shell Gas Station, Del City, Oklahoma.

Once again,

1 US Gallon = 3.785 litres

USD2.19/3.785 = USD0.578 per litre (pump price)

Forex Rate @ RM3.50 to a USD

USD0.578 X RM3.50 = RM2.025 per litre (pump price).

Unsubsidized, free market price of Regular RON92 is at RM2.025 per litre AGAINST SUBSIDIZED Regular RON92 sold in Bolehland at RM2.20!!

Shell Station, Oklahoma USA = RM2.025   .. Unsubsidized, taxed, importer
All Station, Malaysia = RM2.20  .. Subsidized, non-taxed, exporter

Sungguh Pelik!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Up Close n Personal

Hey pussy pussy .... come here pussy pussy ...

This cat is friendly! It swam before our eyes, at close range, not once but thrice!

At Zoo Negara.

Penguins Rock

Discovery by chance, a visit to Zoo Negara turned most enjoyable. My son was checking his cellphone for messages and it reflected sunlight into the aquarium. The video shows the antics of these penguins housed in Zoo Negara. If you ever visit this zoo, you know what to do to get these penguins to rock!

Regular RON92 at RM2.08 per litre - Malaysiakini

At this gas station, Goodies (Go Goo Goodies) located at 4501 NW 63rd, Oklahoma City, Regular RON92 is being sold at US2.25 per gallon.

1 US Gallon = 3.785 litres.

US2.25/3.785 = US0.59 per litre.

Forex rate RM3.50 to 1USD,

US0.59 X RM3.50 = RM2.08 per litre.

This is the price of Regular RN92 being sold at the above gas station and that gasoline sold in oil-importing America is taxed and non-subsidized. 

The price of SUBSIDISED Regular RON92 sold in an oil-exporting nation, namely Malaysia, is RM2.20 per litre.

Free Market Price,  at abovementioned gas station: RM2.08 per litre

30 sen SUBSIDY, non-taxed, sold at Malaysian gas station: RM2.20 per litre

Strange, isn't it?

Mars and Sneakers Buatan Malaysia could be Melamine-tainted - Malaysiakini

Breaking News - Colombo Municipality's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Pradeep Kariyawasam said that Mars and Sneakers from Malaysia could be Melamine-contaminated!

I would await for their test results and if proven positive, many questions will again be raised as to how our Health Ministry cleared these products as safe.

Meanwhile, confirmed Melamine-contaminated biscuits are still on the shelves, as reported by NST.

'Arrest Khairy under ISA' - Malaysiakini

Up till today, there are news of gangsterism in schools throughout the nation and I guess nobody would dare doubt the existence of such.

However, there's one joke about the 'chickens' who wouldn't dare join a fight even if it involves his closest of friends. Streetwise or chickenshit, these fellas will rather stand on the sideline and watch. It doesn't end there either.

It is all too common knowledge that they will immediately join in the fray to beat the hell out of the rivals when signs show clearly that they are beaten and about to be floored. 

Yeah, that's right, the minute you see them going down, rush in and join the frenzy in beating the living daylight out of them! You ain't got nothing to lose but all to win and can lay claim that you were part of the gang that had annihilated the rival. And the rewards? You can also claim loyalty to your friend-in-need.

That's when the joke began when one is asked to join in a fight. It goes ... "OK mate, no worries, when I see that you're winning, I'll join you". Nothing is mentioned about 'when you're losing!

It is all too clear here that these jokers won't dare lay a finger on the stronger mightier side lest they got themselves beaten into a pulp. They won't dare offend or antagonize them. 

In Malaysia, the political scene, we've just witnessed the 'Great Gang Fight'. 

Badawi is out. So too will his SIL. Clearly, the odds don't favour them. That means if the goons need a punchback to exhibit themselves that they're still relevant to the current political scene, by all means, show off their punching prowess ... they may still be able to hoodwink some of them into believing that they're still relevant.

Some would call it 'shooting the dead horses'. And if these goons are worth their salt, try screaming out loud that ISA be used on Hishamuddin on his kris antics and on Najib on his inflammatory racist statement 'to soak the kris in Chinese blood'.

So, here's the sandiwara ....

'Arrest Khairy under ISA'

A MCA Youth delegate today called on the authorities to detain Umno Youth deputy chief Khairy Jamaluddin under the Internal Security Act (ISA) for making racist remarks.

He also wanted the security law to be invoked against suspended Umno Penang leader Ahmad Ismail who courted controversy recently by describing the Chinese in Malaysia as squatters.

mca youth agm 171008 debater ting tai fookPerak delegate Ting Tai Fook (right) made the call during the debates at the MCA Youth annual general meeting held at the party headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

Khairy, who was one of the VIPs present at the MCA Youth meet this morning, has however left shortly after the opening before the debates commenced.

Ting took Khairy, who is also the son-in-law of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, to task over his remarks concerning the ratio of the bumiputera and non-bumiputera quota on scholarships.

He said such remarks were not only condoned by the Umno leadership but also paved the way for Ahmad to make similar offensive remarks.

At this juncture, Ting said the ISA should not be used against civilians as seen in a crackdown last month.

“If we want to use ISA, let’s use ISA against these few people first [...] I also believe Khairy, this irresponsible leader will be defeated badly in the coming Umno Youth chief elections,” he said to applause from the delegates.

The Perak MCA Youth delegate stressed that the ethnic Chinese were not second-class citizens or the servants in this country.

Ting also hit out at Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim and accused him of being a liar for consistently claiming that he has the numbers to form government.

Resolution targets Khairy, Ahmad

Meanwhile, a majority of the MCA Youth delegates also echoed the dissatisfaction concerning the remarks made by Khairy and Ahmad.

Replying to Ting in the winding-up later, MCA Youth legal bureau chief Gan Ping Sieu said the wing is against the use of ISA against any civilian.  

khairy jamaluddin parliament pc 230608 04Apart from coming under heavy fire during the debates, one of the resolutions adopted at the meeting was also made in reference to Khairy and Ahmad. The resolution condemned several “narrow-minded leaders.”

“Their action will jeopardise the racial ties in this multiracial country which is formed based on different ethnicity, cultures and religions.

“Therefore, MCA Youth urges the relevant quarters to take immediate action to avoid these extremists from affecting the harmony in the country,” read the resolution.

Although the resolution did not name Khairy and Ahmad directly, it however stated that the reason for this resolution was due to the duo’s recent statements.

“Khairy made a statement in Parliament that the non-bumiputeras have taken away the bumiputeras’ privileges and their quota for the (government’s) JPA scholarship. His statement is against the cabinet decision.

umno mt meeting on ahmad ismail 100908 ahmad ismail.jpg“Ahmad also made a statement filled with racist elements to the extent that it caused unhappiness in the society. Therefore, serious action should be taken against these racist leaders,” read the document.

Other than this, the other resolutions which were passed included calling on the government to review the ISA and Printing Presses and Publications Act 1948 to make it relevant with the current times.

The Youth wing also expressed support for the government’s move to set up the Malaysian Commission of Anti-Corruption, as well as a special complaints commission on the reforms of the police force and judicial appointment commission.

Election results
In another development, the MCA Youth election results announced at 7pm revealed that those seen to be aligned to the new Youth chief Dr Wee Ka Siong had made a near clean sweep.

Except for the newly-elected deputy secretary-general Loh Chew June, the rest were those whose names had appeared on the cai dan (list of preferred candidates) that was widely circulated today. 

As expected, Perak MCA Youth chief Dr Mah Han Soon won the No 2 post. He garnered 1,152 votes to beat his opponent Song Kee Chai, who polled 394 votes.

Wee, who was the wing’s secretary-general, won the top post uncontested on Monday.

Met by reporters later, Loh thanked the delegates for their support despite him not being on the cai dan. He said this had spurred him to work harder in order to get support from the delegates.

Those who were elected into the wing’s top posts include vice-chairpersons Yong Chen Leong, Yoo Wei How, Dr Chin Tung Leong and Yit Lee Kok. The new secretary-general is Chai Kim Seng. 

Johor activist ISA-ed - Malaysiakini

A 26-year-old activist has been arrested under the Internal Security Act (ISA) tonight following a report she made accusing the police of abuse of power in yesterday’s controversial eviction of a squatter colony in Johor.

Cheng Lee Whee, a self-employed programmer who is a volunteer for human rights group Suaram, lodged the police report at the Permas Jaya police station in Johor Bharu at about 3pm yesterday.

The report was made in response to the forced eviction of squatters in Kampung Baru Plentong Tengah - a predominantly Malay village akin to Kuala Lumpur’s Kampung Baru - and the arrest of 27 individuals for attempting to stop the demolition of the settlement.

Cheng was summoned by inspector Azman Mustafa to the state police headquarters in Seri Alam at around 8pm so that her statement could be taken relating to her police report.

Four of her friends accompanied her to the police station, among them were Suaram Johor Bahru coordinator Nyam Kee Han, Parti Socialis Malaysia central committee member Choo Shinn Chei and Suaram volunteer See Siew Min. The three were arrested yesterday at the forced eviction.

At around 10.45pm, after Cheng had her statement recorded by the police, she was informed by Criminal Investigation Department chief DSP Mohd Nor Rasid that she had been arrested under section 28 of the ISA for "spreading false information".

Section 28 of the ISA involves the dissemination of false reports.

According to the section, "Any person who, by word of mouth or in writing or in any newspaper, periodical, book, circular or other printed publication or by any other means spreads false reports or makes false statements likely to cause public alarm, shall be guilty of an offence."

According to lawyers, section 28 does not empower the police to detain a suspect without trial. The suspect must be brought to court within 24 hours either to be charged or be further remanded to facilitate police investigation.

‘Police chief confirmed ISA arrest’

Cheng was later escorted to the Pasir Gudang police station where she is expected to be remanded tomorrow for further investigation.

DAP state assemblymen for Skudai, Dr Boo Cheng Hau, toldMalaysiakini that he had spoken to Johor police chief Mokhtar Shariff as well as Seri Alam OCPD Supt Roslan Zainuddin by phone and both officers confirmed that Cheng had been held under ISA.

He called on the police to either charge Cheng or free her as soon as possible.

Attempts by Malaysiakini to contact Mokhtar and Roslan were unsuccessful.

Last year, the ISA was invoked in Johor against five individuals for allegedly spreading rumours through SMSes about racial clashes.


Friday, October 17, 2008

CBT at Municipal Council - Malaysiakini

The Star reported that an assistant accountant with the Kuantan Municipal Council was charged with 25 counts of CBT involving RM91,623. 

The accused was alleged to have dishonestly used a portion of the money collected from payments made by the public to the council. 

So, ok, how does this happen? I've been wanting to blog about this but had not the time. As a matter of fact, I had approached Bentayan SA Gwee Tong Hiang to highlight that there could be some possible accounting problems happening in Majlis Perbandaran Muar (MPM). It regards cukai harta.

We are required to pay cukai harta twice a year, on a half-yearly basis. The bills are sent out normally in January and July each year and property owners are given a grace period of two months to pay up. Failing which, a notice (Borang E) will be issued and a fine of RM5.00 is imposed on late payment. 

I received the green Bil Cukai Harta from MPM in July this year and purposely waited (or call it procrastination) till the last working day of August to make payment. Time-stamped 08:27AM dated 29/08/2008, I made the payment at MPM using a credit card.

At the back of the Bil Cukai Harta, it is written that 'Bil yang dicap degan Mesin Penerima Majlis sahaja diakui sah penerimaan pembayarannya'. So yes, when I made my payments, my Bil Cukai Harta was machine-stamped to indicate payment. If you are wondering why I'm beating around the bush rather than going straight to the point, please be patient as you will eventually understand why I need to do so

So, on 29/08/2008 I made my payments to MPM, right? Surprise, surprise, some 3 weeks later, I received a blue coloured 'notis supaya membayar tunggakan kadar'. That's also known as Borang E. That meant, in MPM's accounting records, I had not make payments and therefore this is a notice to me to pay up within 15 days from the date of notice. I was given until 29/09/2008 to make payment although I've already paid.

Some might want to think that this is an isolated case and could be a genuine mistake, right? Hold on your horses.

I spoke to my neighbour and showed him my bills and told him that something is definitely wrong somewhere. He then said that he received the blue notice (Borang E) too and had just make payments a day earlier. Immediately he went inside his house and searched all this bills and presto, he discovered he had made payments for the second half 2008 earlier. Double payment, correct?

He brought along both his bills and went over to MPM to make enquiries about his double payments and to get a refund. After the clerk went through his bills, checking the computer and jotting down something, he was told that it will be reflected in next year's bill. 

I am sceptical that it will be reflected in next year's bill. However, I am optimistic that we are not the only ones and this could just be the tip of the iceberg.

Was it last year or the year before that the same thing happened to me. I remember vividly that I had made payment but received the blue notice later. However, due to poor housekeeping, I couldn't find the green bill that was validated. 

When I went to MPM to make enquiries, I saw that I wasn't the only one. There were a few others but they had with them the green bills and hence they did not have to make a repeat payment. When I enquired, I was bluntly told that if  I had made payments, then I must produce proof of payment. To which, I had no answer but to pay up.

I had paid by cash and there was no other evidence of payment except the validated green bill. It was a lost cause. I paid up.

Ever since that day, I've been mindful of dealing with MPM in regards to paying cukai harta. I would make sure that I would at least have another way to prove that payment had been made. Hence, I made use of credit cards.

So you see, if you make payment by cash, you have no other alternative to prove payment except for the validated green bill. If you had paid by cheque, credit card or through banks, there would exist somewhere a record of your payment. However, if you forgotten about it altogether that you had paid earlier and make a repeat payment for the same bill, God Bless You.

It is now October and in 3 months' time, we will be receiving a new green bill from MPM. I'm in catch-22 situation. Should I wait till January 2009 or to immediately approach MPM for an answer? I decided to wait out. That's because of 2 situations currently existing.

One, I had paid and am issued a blue Borang E. That means I have not made any repeat payment.

Two, my neighbour had paid and was issued a blue Borang E. That means he made payments twice.

Come January 2009, what will our green Bil Cukai Harta show? That's the question that require answer. I will wait out.

However, if there are more than the 2 of us, and that nobody does anything, could there be possibly a scam or perhaps a CBT taking place at MPM? 

I shall continue with part 2 as to why I had decided not to follow Gwee Tong Hiang to MPM this morning to follow up on this issue. Gwee had earlier booked an appointment with the S/U to meet at 10 this morning.

I therefore once again apologise to Gwee for not being able to accompany him to keep the appointment with the S/U. However, I had SMS-ed him this morning.