Sunday, June 15, 2008

Beza antara Malaysia, Singapura dan UAE

Minggu lepas ada perbincangan mengenai beda kekayaan antara Malaysia, Singapura dan UAE dalam Malaysian-UAE yahoogroup.

Seorang ahli yang juga ekspatriat muda di UAE, Afza, membuat analisa berikut:-

1. Malaysia ada tin, petroleum, timber, copper, iron ore, natural gas, bauxite (from CIA site)

UAE cuma ada petroleum and natural gas (dari CIA
site)

Singapura ada fish & deepwater ports sahaja? (Dari CIA
site)

2. Tanah di Malaysia sangat subur, tabur saja benih, tumbuh laa pokok.

Di UAE hanyalah padang pasir, nak tanam dan maintain rumput seluruh UAE kena belanja berjuta2 setiap bulan. Kawasan kecil yang subur di Hatta dan Al Ain, penuh di tanam sayuran.

Di Singapura ada tanah lagi ke? Oh ye, Pulau Batu Putih. Di masa depan, mungkin Iskandar Region pun mungkin akan masuk ke tribunal.

Teringat cerita bapa mertua yang membawa delegasi dari Korea berjalan2 di Malaysia. Mereka kagum dengan tanah di Malaysia yang sangat subur. Tetapi lebih terkejut melihat banyak kawasan semak samun, dipenuhi lalang. Di Korea, susah mencari tanah yang subur, kawasan kecil di celah2 batu pun ditanam sayur.

3. Di Malaysia jumlah rakyat yang di tahap sederhana, cukup ideal untuk menjana ekonomi. Peluang pekerjaan sepatutnya cukup untuk dipenuhi rakyat tempatan, tak perlu ramai expatriates, so kurang lah duit yang "keluar" dari Malaysia. Tetapi sekarang, untuk mencari rezeki yang lebih, semakin ramai rakyat Malaysia yang bekerja di luar negara sebagai expatriates, yang menghantar duit balik ke Malaysia.

Di UAE, rakyat UAE cuma 19% dari total population. Peluang kerja terlalu banyak,
tidak mampu dipenuhi rakyat tempatan. Dengan jumlah expatriates yang tinggi, duit dihantar balik ke negara asal, dalam jumlah yang sangat tinggi.
Ditambah dengan subsidi dan privilege untuk rakyat tempatan (e.g. business ownership, equity, free housing scheme), peratus rakyat tempatan yang bekerja juga sangat rendah. Tapi rakyat tak pernah malu dengan subsidi dan bantuan kerajaan, tapi sangat berbangga dengan pemimpin yang menjaga kepentingan rakyat tempatan.

Di Singapura, populasi yang kecil, tapi kepadatan yang tinggi. Kelebihan kerajaan menggunakan "intelligence" dan kepakaran berdasarkan merit terbukti sangat efektif.

4. Di Malaysia, banyak projek mega, berbillion2. Banyak yang terlebih kos. Gaji pekerja rendah, material locally made banyak, nak jimat lagi boleh beli "Made in China". Tetapi kadang2 sedih, duit yang dibelanjakan tidak sepadan dengan hasilnya. Tidak kurang juga duit yang hilang entah ke mana. Pengalaman audit 5 tahun di salah sebuah syarikat construction terbesar di Malaysia, sungguh rumit mencari sebab2 "cost overrun".

Di UAE, banyak juga projek mega. Kos tinggi. Gaji pekerja sangat tinggi, harga material yang sangat tinggi (imported, owner normally will avoid "Made in China" products). Tapi hasilnya, cukup berbaloi.

Di Singapura, kepentingan diletakkan kepada pembangunan infrastruktur yang world class. Tidak perlu bermegah2 dengan bangunan tertinggi, tidak perlu jambatan cantik untuk ditatapi, Tambak Johor sudah memadai.

5. Di Malaysia, sektor perkilangan sangat besar, dari sektor ringan hinggalah berat. di satu masa dulu sebaris dengan "Asian Tigers". Tetapi sekarang, semakin hilang taringnya.

Di UAE, sektor perkilangan hanyalah sektor yang ringan dan di dalam skala yang rendah. Kos yang tinggi, tapi stabiliti dari segi ekonomi, politik dan struktur yang terbaik di Middle East terus menarik investors di UAE.

Di Singapura, walaupun kurang tanah, tetap menjadi salah satu pengeluar terbesar consumer electronics dan information technology products.

6. Malaysia dikelilingi lautan, pinggir laut yang dalam dan tenang merupakan faktor yang sangat baik untuk pelabuhan. Ditambah dengan kedudukan Malaysia, perairan Malaysia di tengah2 jalan penting gergasi ekonomi dunia.

Tetapi pelabuhan Singapura tetap jauh di depan. Terlalu banyak sebab, terutama tentang kecekapan dan kelebihan pengurusan pelabuhan Singapura.

Di UAE, kapal2 perlu "divert" dari Indian Ocean, melalui liku2 Persian Gulf untuk sampai ke pelabuhan Jebel Ali. Tetapi, sekali lagi disebabkan banyak faktor2 positif yang dah diceritakan di atas, UAE tetap menjadi "hub" untuk seluruh Middle East.

The Malays: Their Problems and Future

(Report below from MALAYSIAKINI)

I have not read this book authored by Dr Syed Husin Ali but I agree with Anwar that Malays need to break out of their "neo-feudal" syndrome which is being used as a means of patronage and control by an elite few.

The mindset, which was drilled since colonial times, gave rise to an inferiority complex that had prevented the Malays from advancing with the rest of society.

"What Malays require is not a unique form of affirmative action to help them. What they need are opportunities and space to move forward together as a great Malaysian family. What we require is support, so that genuine Malay talent and creativity can flourish."




Malays at 'defining moment' of history
Terence Netto | Jun 15, 08 5:26pm

PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim said Malays were at a "defining moment" of history that demanded they "disenthrall" themselves from the colonial discourse that portrayed them as dependent on patronage to survive.

MCPX

syed husin ali book launch 150608 anwar.jpgAnwar said neo-colonial elements such as Malay-based ruling party Umno promoted this dependence syndrome as an instrument of "political control".

"It's time this myth of dependence is exploded," said Anwar in remarks made at the launch yesterday of the book The Malays: Their Problems and Future by Dr Syed Husin Ali, the deputy president of PKR.

The book was first written and published in the late 1970s when Syed Husin was detained under the Internal Security Act following his involvement in mass protests over the impact of depressed rubber prices on the livelihood of smallholders in Baling, Kedah

Those protests led to the detention without trial in December 1974 of university academics like Syed Husin, as well as student activists and youth leaders including Anwar Ibrahim.

syed husin ali book launch 150608 launch.jpgThe Malays: Their Problems and Future has been updated in a revised edition that was launched by Anwar in Petaling Jaya before an audience of some 400 people, composed of PKR supporters, members of parliament and state assemblies from the opposition Pakatan Rakyat, ex-Universiti Malaya students of Syed Husin, retired academics, and other close friends of the author.

Anwar, whom Syed Husin tutored at the University Malaya in the late 1960s, said he saw Syed Husin's book in the same vein as The Myth of the Lazy Native by the late Dr Syed Hussein Alatas, which attempted to refute the colonial discourse that "brown humanity" was indolent and largely dependent on patrons for economic upliftment.

syed husin ali book launch 150608 guest.jpgThe talent and creativity of the Malays will flourish when the myths of their dependence are exploded," said Anwar referring to the eclectic survey of colonial writers on the conditions of the Malays such as Frank Swettenham, Hugh Clifford and Richard Winstedt.

Instead he welcomed the counter discourse by academics such as Edward Said, Alatas and Syed Husin.

Dr M fails to break away from colonial discourse

Anwar equated Dr Mahathir Mohamad's The Malay Dilemma and Revolusi Mental, an Umno inspired tract circulated after the May 1969 riots to rationalise affirmative action for the Malays, with the colonial discourse that held Malays to be dependent on patrons for their economic advancement.

He said both Revolusi Mental and Mahathir's book were the works of "surrogates and subalterns" of the colonial mindset.

syed husin ali book launch 150608 speak.jpgAnwar lauded Syed Husin's "strong passion" and "consistency" all these years in espousing the cause of Malay upliftment from poverty.

He said he saw Syed Husin's book when it was first published as a significant departure, much like Alatas' opus, from the conventional wisdom on Malay dependency.

The PKR leader also described his party's Malaysian Economic Agenda as the antidote for this mentality that will not only liberate the Malays, and the non-Muslim bumiputeras of Sabah and Sarawak, but also the Chinese and Indians, from the outdated thinking that has warped the nation.

The mecca of Arab culture is shifting south

Not too long ago, the greatest Arab thinkers and artists came from and resided in the Levant and north Africa. To Arabs today some names are instantly recognisable, such as Gibran Khalil Gibran, May Ziadé, Taha Hussein, Amin al Rihani, Mohammed Mahdi al Jawahri, Nizar Qabbani, Rose al Youssef, et al.
These were the shining lights of Arab intellectualism. They inspired music and movies, books and broadsheets, poems and paintings, and countless sleepless nights of passion. Today, the Arab world is witnessing a migration of Arab creative minds from these very countries to the relative calm and tranquillity of the Arabian peninsula. The warm Gulf waters and the peaceful desert nations are now attracting more than just tourists and American troops.
The Mediterranean Arabs are assisting their brethren in the Gulf in forging their very own renaissance. Most Egyptian and Syrian television series are financed by Gulf money, and many of them are now filmed here. Following in the footsteps of the all-national Royal Oman Symphony Orchestra that started in 1985, Doha introduced its 80-member strong Qatar Symphony Orchestra to the world, and although it is being led by the Iraqi Dr Salem Abdul Kareem, it will only be a matter of time before the younger generation of Qataris is inspired by these musicians, as is the case with its sister Gulf state.
This year alone witnesses the opening of two Islamic museums, one in Doha and the other in Sharjah. Incidentally, it was the relatively poor emirate of Sharjah that Unesco chose to honour as the very first Arab Cultural Capital in 1998, before Cairo, Beirut or Damascus, the traditional citadels of Arab intellectualism. Dubai, the city of merchants, has launched several cultural initiatives including the redevelopment of its historic old Creek, with the promise of an opera house, the Prophet Mohammed Museum and several other initiatives on the way.
Abu Dhabi, by far the most ambitious of all the Gulf states, has already hosted such world class exhibitions as the priceless David Khalili collection of Islamic art as well as a Pablo Picasso exhibition that would feel as at home in the Tate Modern as it does in Gallery One of the Emirates Palace. These are small steps that will lead to realising the grand vision of hosting a Louvre, a Guggenheim and several other museums and cultural centres on Saadiyat Island.
The Gulf cultural festivals are slowly becoming fixtures in international events calendars; both Dubai and Abu Dhabi host world class film and jazz festivals, for example. Doha and Bahrain host world class cultural celebrations. Even Kuwait, which has as yet neglected to restore the National Museum that was looted during the 1990 invasion, boasts a Museum of Modern Art as well as several private collections that are open to the public.
It seems that the deficiencies of the Arab republics extend beyond issues of governance to maintaining the cultural treasures they have. More important than the pyramids, mosques, synagogues and churches that adorn their lands, the cultural treasures that are irreplaceable are human minds. Today, Arab minds from across the region have migrated to the Gulf. Many Lebanese work in the peace of Dubai Media City and play their music in the concert halls of Abu Dhabi; Syrians sing in the cultural festivals of Bahrain and Qatar; Egyptians act in Kuwait, and Palestinians not only survive but flourish in all sectors in Saudi Arabia.
It’s true that many of these smart Arabs send money back to their countries, but the vital assets that remain here are their skills and talents. Such skills could have been transferred down to a younger generation living in their own countries. Instead, their expertise is being taught to natives and residents of the Gulf. Today, Naseer Chamma, Asala Nasri, Azmi Bshara and Marwan Rahbani have decided to make the Gulf countries their homes and bases. Others such as Adonis and Mahmoud Darwish have an easier time visiting Abu Dhabi and Doha than Beirut and Algiers.
The mecca of Arab culture is indeed slowly shifting south-east away from the Mediterranean basin. What have the Gulf monarchies offered these individuals? Democracy is scarce and political representation is in short supply. What could be bringing them in a constant stream of emigration? It’s not just the money. Libya and Algeria are vastly wealthier than Bahrain and Oman, and yet who has ever heard of a Bahraini going to work in Benghazi, or an Omani working in Oran? The undemocratic, for better or for worse, royal families of the Gulf offer a simple magic ingredient: some desperately needed peace and tranquillity.
It’s amazing what a good night’s sleep can do for some people.
Sultan Al Qassemi is a Sharjah-based businessman and graduate of the American University of Paris. He is founder of Barjeel Securities in Dubai and has recently been elected as Chairman of the Young Arab Leaders in the UAE

Slower, cabbie! I’m in no hurry, so why are you?

These are three incidents I’ve witnessed when I have been in, or close to, a taxi this year so far. I’m going to tell them in the order of dramatic ascendancy.
Story Number 1:
It’s Tuesday night, it’s almost midnight and I’m driving down the highway at the maximum legal speed – just below 120km/hour – in the fast lane. A taxi appears behind me but I pay little attention to it. A minute later I realise that it’s closing in on me and has left not much more than a metre between us.
I don’t know about you, but that makes me nervous. I slow down a little to make him back up but the taxi driver gets even more frustrated and starts flashing me continuously with his high beam light. I’m shocked and I think to myself:
“This is the first time I’ve been flashed by a cab.” There is something just not right about being flashed by a cab when you are driving at the maximum legal speed on the highway. Meanwhile, the cabbie is getting really annoyed with my lack of response and switches two lanes down, passes me quickly and gets back onto his coveted fast lane and speeds away. I take note of his number and later report him.

Story Number 2:
I hail a cab with a couple of friends and sit in the front seat. I put on my seat belt and notice that the driver has not actually buckled his seat belt but just placed it across his lap. I ask him why he won’t put it on properly and he says that it’s only for the police and there are no police in this area at this time. I told him it’s for his safety and he chuckles at me like I’m a novice passenger at a drag race. Three minutes later, we are speeding through a red light that he tried to catch on yellow and failed. Needless to say, we were flashed.

Story Number 3:
Again, I hail a cab with a couple of friends and I sit in the front seat. So far so good, and he’s driving really well until another taxi overtakes him aggressively on a neighbourhood road. But now this is no longer a neighbourhood road, this is Talladega Nights. The driver speeds up but is unable to overtake on the one-lane road we are on. Does he give up the chase? Oh no, he overtakes the other taxi in the middle of a roundabout and almost crashes into a tree. We tell him to stop the cab and get out. I take a good look at the number and report him.

This kind of behaviour is really dangerous but it is also sad. I am sure that the companies that bring these men over here test their ability to drive – in the end they do hold UAE driving licences – but do they test their ability to drive well? Do they make sure that they understand – and follow – road etiquette? Do they ensure that they obey the driving rules and regulations set by the police and transport authorities? I doubt that they do.

These stories are not unique to me; many of you reading this now will be remembering your own bad experiences. Indeed, many of us don’t take cabs any more because they are just not safe. We should be able to take cabs and feel safe in them; it is a prerequisite for any type of transport.
One can only imagine how many tourists must have had similarly bad experiences while visiting the UAE. And yes, this issue does extend beyond a bad cab journey or two; this is about a basic expectation in a civil society. These drivers are breaking the law day in and day out.
The business model of the taxi service in the UAE is flawed; cab drivers work very long hours and must take as many fares as possible to earn a living. This is one of the main reasons why they are so hostile on the road, which in turn makes the roads dangerous – a vicious cycle with emphasis on the “vicious”. It may be wise to take another look at the policies and regulations governing cab drivers.
But we are all to blame: the passengers for the times we did not report bad driving; the companies that hired the drivers for not spending time and money on training them properly, and also for not following up on complaints made by passengers; the police for not applying tougher fines on drivers committing offences such as driving through red lights, excessive speeding, erratic driving, switching lanes, etc.
The police are also to blame for not requiring cab drivers to take more specific tests and checking that they do drive well, not just drive.
In London, cab drivers must take a very exacting series of tests to get a taxi driving licence. One of the most difficult aspects – and often the decisive factor – is what is referred to as “The Knowledge”.
That simply means knowing all the roads and principal buildings in central London. I wonder how many of our cab drivers have anything close to The Knowledge? We should institute a similar kind of test here. The amount of times you get into a cab, tell the driver the name of a multibillion dirham monument and still get a blank look are endless. This is unacceptable.

By Mishaal Al Gergawi