Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Bukit Tabur

Bukit Tabur is a hill located in Taman Melawati..  The hill is less than 1000 meter in height, yet easily spotted from MRR2.

Hiking trail starts from Kampung Klang Gates, for about 60-100 minutes to the top.  

At several points, the journey can be dangerous, as one need to climb up and down quartz ridges.  There is ropes in-situ. Yet, in many occasion, one need more than ropes to prevail. 

The reward is priceless !
Top–of-the-world view of the Gombak Forest Reserve, side by side with Klang Gates Dam.  On the west is panoramic view of KL.  At some lucky days, a picturesque sunrise with clouds below ones feet.
Yet, one needs not to look far for a great view.  The rocky ridges, needle–leaves trees, mosses are great sights fit for a king !

Colours of 1Malaysia

How we see things sometime is not based on how the things are.
We like to see thing our own way,
the way we see fit,  
with whatever means :
blurred, blind,
bend the rule,  lies,
look but didn’t see,  
see through a coloured filters,  
close-1-eye, and even
close-both-eyes !

Menteri Perdana
stressed that action will be taken against those making statement that reeks of racisms . . .

2 school principals in Johor and Kedah sparked a public furore when they had made racist remarks aimed at their ethnic Chinese and Indian students.
No action has been taken against them, either by Education Ministry or Police, still.

A systematic effort by education officials to close non-Muslims religious clubs in a high school in Klang . .. .
More schools stepped forward to report the same ‘illegal close-down’ …. some for decades
No action has been taken against these education officials, still.

In Labuan, teachers forced a female Muslim student to wear the headscaft.
No action has been taken against those teachers, still.

Highly sensitive “Penang Chief Minister wants to be King” issued was played-up to create racial tensions…
No action has been taken against those responsible, still.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I-City at Twilight

photosynthesis from within

 "Truth, like light, is blinding. Lies, on the other hand, are a beautiful dusk ..."
Albert Camus

 "The pursuit of perfection, then, is the pursuit of sweetness and light..."
Matthew Arnold

trees of lights

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Broga Hill - Bubbling & Bluffing


衔 说上得茅山多了,总是越觉得少了些挑战。人总要自我挑战、自我突破,方为人上人。




Of Plate and Alphabet

First car in Malaya was brought in to Ipoh, Perak by Mr Eu Tong Sen in 1902, Cars in Perak was first registered as “PK” but was replaced with “A” in 1945 after WW2.
Prior to 1937, motor vehicles in Perak and Selangor was under the control of respective state Police ; the Chief Inspector in Negeri Sembilan ; and District Officers in Pahang, respectively. Vehicles in Unfederated Malay States were not regulated then.
The current vehicle license plates is regulated and administered by the Road Transport Department. Each state was assigned with a letter, with ABC 1234 format.
A = Perak
B = Selangor
C = Pahang
D = Kelantan
J = Johor
K = Kedah
M = Melaka
N = Negeri Sembilan
P = Pulau Pinang
R = Perlis
T = Terengganu
W = Wilayah Persekutuan
One may see this as random allocation of letters to car registration of Malaysian states, but I see a pattern in there.
What I see may not be correct, but I am sure it is an interesting story.

From My Eyes
Well, it was a first come first serve basis.
Penang first became a British Colony, then Malacca and Singapore followed.  By logic and by right, Penang of course get the ‘P’, Malacca get the ‘M’ and Singapore get the ‘S’. 
After the top 3 were settled, then came the 4 Federated Malay States. Negeri Sembilan get the ‘N’.  Perak wanted a ‘P’, but it was taken by Penang, so Perak had to go for ‘A’, the first of the alphabet. Selangor too wanted a ‘S’, but Singapore get it first, so Selangor had to settle with a ‘B’. Pahang also can’t stripped Penang of her ‘P’, so she get herself a ‘C
Lastly, the Unfederated Malay States … Johor was in luck. Nobody owned ‘J’ yet, so she get it without a fight. Terengganu and Kedah too get their ‘Tand ‘K’ respectively without resistance. Kelantan loss to Kedah maybe because Kedah had an affair with British first. So. Kelantan had to walk away with ‘D’.
Perlis is for ‘P’, but ‘P’ was already taken by Penang. The next of he alphabet was ‘E’. Somehow Perlis decided not to submit to fate.  She fought for her love, and gets ‘R’ at the end of the day.   Why 'R' ? A mystery forever unanswered.
Well, my story may lacks of concrete evidence, but it does sound logical, right ? At least it’s a good story !
A Brief History of British Involvement in Malay States
1790 Kedah ceded Penang to British East India Company
1824 Holland ceded Malacca to British East India Company
1824 Singapore became a British Colony
1873 Negeri Sembilan accepted British protectorate
1874 Perak accepted British protectorate
1875 Selangor accepted British protectorate
1888 Pahang accepted British protectorate
1885 Johor accepted British protectorate
1909 Siam ceded Kelantan, Terengganu, Kedah & Perlis to British

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Fair & Affordable Housing

Affordable housing is a term used to describe dwelling units whose total housing costs are deemed affordable to those that have a median income. In the Unites States and Canada, a commonly accepted guideline for housing affordability is a housing cost that does not exceed 30% of a household’s gross income. The cost generally includes taxes, insurance and utility costs.



Malaysia’s Scenario

In Malaysia, people often grudge about expensive houses, yet we see new house built, and sold like hot cakes.
While private sector hardly built double-storey linked house that cost less than RM300k ( with built up area ±2800ft2 ), a medium cost high-rise apartment ( with built up area ±1000ft2 ) easily costs a hefty RM200k.

With maximum sum of loan from bank, one may easily have to re-pay RM1k/month for up to 30 long years !


Government’s Role for Low-Income Group

Government through Jabatan Perumahan Negara ( JPN ), an agency under the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, whose only mission is to “ get ready that housing development are enough, comfortable, affordable and save to fulfill the need for low income group of people.”

The low cost houses ranging from single-storey linked house to highrise apartment, supposedly cost between RM25k – RM 42k, are targeted for low-income group with household income ranging from RM750 – RM1.5k.

Such programs usually result in congested housing and undesirable neighborhoods.


Medium-Income Group’s Scenario
Medium-income group takes home an average of gross income of RM5k/month. After deducting all the expenses, there are hardly anything left ! This has yet to include medical expenses, clothing & accessories, entertainment & holidays, and for household with children, schooling expenses.

Considering 10% down payment to purchase a ±RM300k house, one need to fork out RM30k upfront. Assuming all savings goes to that, one still need to save up to 5 years to gather enough money for down payment. This excluding any other fees, renovation or furniture which may cost as much. 

( Not forgetting young couples who had just spend a huge chunk of their savings for their wedding, honeymoon etc.  Whatever leftover of their savings are hardly sufficient to acquire a dream house ).
Then, to secure a ±RM270k loan from any bank will mean monthly installment of ±RM1.2k for 30 years ( until retirement, that is ). By the time one settle the last installment, total money paid may be doubled due to the accumulative interest rate..

Considering ±RM1.2k monthly installment, one may wander how to squeeze out the money from a gross salary of ±RM5k, without cutting down budget for food, transportation and other basic needs.

Household Income
$ 5,000
$ 500
$ 1000
$ 1500
$ 1000
$ 250
$ 750

Without doubt, a ±RM300k house is beyond a medium-incomer’s reach. In fact, if we do some calculation, if 20% of total monthly income goes to housing, one can only afford a ±RM150k house, which is mostly an apartment with ±1000ft2 built up area.

Suggestions .

++ Implement built-and-sell system..

To buy a house is definitely the most expensive purchase for most people. With the current buy-and-built system, buyers are buying dreams. There are no guarantees that the developers will keep their end of the bargain. If the developers fail to deliver, the owners will end up owing bankers, with no more money to make new purchase, while being blacklisted for unsettled loan.

Built-and-sell system ensure only genuine players with strong monetary background can enter the industry. It is after all, a lucrative business building and selling houses, and everyone wants a piece of it. Besides, it is only fair to sell a finished product, rather than a promise.

++ Control sale price of new house
It is known that a developer net earnings is >100% of total sale, i.e. when a house worth RM300k is sold, developer makes at least RM150k nett.

We can’t blame the demand-and-supply of free market, but considering housing is man’s basic need, thus making it everyone’s right to an affordable housing. When a basic need / basic right are charged exorbitantly, an imbalance of power and economy follows. No man shall be held ransom for his basic need / basic right.

++ Control of loan interest

Interest on housing loan is a huge BLACK HOLE. Interests are calculated based on balance principle on fixed period basis. Installments paid are mostly for paying the interest instead of the principle. A rough calculation indicates that total installment paid over loan period = double the principle loaned. Meaning that, a loan of RM100k for 30 years shall end up with repayment of RM200k.

Obviously, the interest is exorbitant !  Does the proposed Price Control & Profiteering Bill 2010 includes houses ? Or only for RM1 glass of water ?

++ 1 person 1 house
Many consider buying a house as an investment. Buy and sell, and make money out of it. This will of course resulted in increase of price of house, over every transaction, making owning a house more difficult for others.

Some will buy house to collect rental. This may seems like providing affordable housing by renting out rooms for certain individual, but it is an indication of unfair housing and economical dominancy.

As a basic right, every man has the right to own a house of his own. But when a man owns more than 1 house, he deprives another man’s right to own a house.

++ Government control vs free market

Property, as to any other industries, deserves a free market to thrive.  Yet, there are no absolute freedom.  Even in the property industry, a form of control is needed. 

Flats, apartments and terrace houses are low and medium cost housings, thus should be regulated by the state, in order to protect the people.  Housing is no a supply-and-demand issue anymore, it’s a matter of basic need.

Meanwhile, high end properties such as bungalows, and condominiums can be allowed to be traded freely.  It is after all luxurious properties.

+++ any more ideas, anyone ?

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

A Fair Toll

Trade, is the voluntary, often asymmetric, exchange of goods, services, or money. Trade exists for man due to specialization and division of labuor. The origin of trade was barter, the direct exchange of goods and services. Modern traders use a medium of exchange, i.e. money, which makes buying and selling simplified.
Trading is so common and essential in our daily lives, that some consider it human’s basic rights. Therefore, it is not surprising that laws are designed to protect fair competition and free flow of truthful information in the marketplace.
Buy, is to acquire the possession of, or the right to, a commodity or services, by paying or promising to pay an equivalent in money ; Sell, is to transfer goods to, or service for another in exchange of money.
A buy-sell transaction should be on goodwill basis, voluntary, fair and truthful. Any attempt otherwise are to be considered breaching the essence of trading, a fraud, an act of crime.
Almost anything can be trade, literary anything under the sun, even above it.
Yet, everyday we see the oppression that was taking place under the sun : unfair trade !
A toll road supposed to be a road built for drivers to have a safe and uninterrupted access. In other word, drivers not only pay for the access of the road, but also the convenience and safety of the access.  NOT a person with a sane mind would pay for an inconvenience and dangerous route !
I believe most Malaysian would agree with me that paying to be jammed is ridiculous.  But it is nothing new : motorist jammed-queue to pay the toll, then to be jammed stuck after paying toll. This is obviously not fair for the motorist ( consumer, a.k.a. the rakyat ), to pay for something they didn’t get ( the convenience and safe access ) !

Since nothing is being done ( successfully ) to ease the traffic, the toll operators should have not collecting any payment for using the jammed highways ! To be fair, tolls should only be collected during eased traffic ( when the toll operatiors able to deliver their service/product ).

Otherwise, our toll operators are nothing more than a law-protected highwayman. And our government who allows this unfairness to happen, is nothing more than BIG BAD WOLF themselves.
Raykat Didahulukan, Pencapaian Diutamakan !