Monday, June 25, 2018

Snap Comments - Coffee Shop Talk

Let's all take a breath. The issues that are being debated and discussed today are good issues to have, in a totally different environment. Our new government would listen and react accordingly. The public must also know everyone's got an opinion, and we cannot just follow the lowest common denominator to placate everyone. Sometimes we elect good people so that they will take the hard decisions. We also should be aware all are human and will make mistakes. Let's get on the path to recovery and glory for our country together. Discuss and debate issues without malicious intent but out of the goodness of our hearts.

Foreign Cooks - A very swift about turn. In short, a mistake by the Minister. Should have called for a study before making statements. Anyway, the immediate feedback was better than any study could offer. We cannot just say that locals do not want to be cooks - we lost a lot of Malaysian chefs and wannabes to Singapore because of currency factor; there are plenty of local cooks, just look at the fast food joints. Hence it is not a matter of pay alone but also working conditions and perception of working in hawker/mamak places.

I do agree that we should try to protect our heritage and culture in particular with hawker food. How about a minimum pay of RM2,500 if you employ a foreign worker as a cook? That would work out to be matching RM3,000 a month for locals as proprietors would not need to pay for accommodation.

But all that pales into insignificance cause we need to have more empathetic policies with regards to foreign workers in the first place. One, control the numbers. Two, solve the illegal immigrant workers issue properly and humanely. Three, set up effective bodies to care for the welfare and issues pertaining to foreign workers. Four, cut out the middlemen agents who are presently ripping off the workers. Five, come up with a cohesive foreign workers policy, how many we should have and for which industries - we cannot be relying on them to keep lowering our production costs.

Ringgit - The ringgit eased past 4.00 to the usd but largely on the wholesale negative stance on all things emerging markets at the moment. Note Tun M's statement, a wily politician, who said that he always thought 3.80 was a fair level just as the peg was long ago. That statement immediately caused all currency traders to stop being too aggressive to short the ringgit cause basically Tun has reminded one and all he could use the 3.80 peg again. Very classy and smart without needing to use actual funds to defend the currency.

Media Training and Focus - Looks like new ministers need a crash course in proper ways to deal with the media, and the nuances when dealing with "fired up issues". You must be seen to be on top of situation. If you are not, say you are waiting to be briefed on the situation. (Siti Kassim case, Police). Where was the Home Minister on that? LGE went off on his Mandarin tangent - stay the course, we need not explore a totally new prickly issue for now. Kula went and made a statement that obviously wasn't well thought out enough.

Mandarin - Finance Minister is wrong in his stance of defending the use of Mandarin, period. Wrong is wrong. Use the parliamentary language and the accepted business language of the country first and foremost. Just apologise and move on.

There is nothing wrong going trilingual but Mandarin should always take a backseat. If you issue a statement, yes you can do it trilingual. But not when you are giving new information first hand - it has to be in English or Malay first, even if the Chinese media happens to be the first to see you.

Ministers and Deputy Ministers - There are many who think that Ministerships and Deputy Ministers should be divided according to number of seats won by each party. Please la... let's no go back to the drawing board on what is a proper cohesive coalition. Of course it should not be very slanted but agak-agak is good enough. We should put in capable people first. We elected a PM, let him decide what is best. If they are no good, we can whack them in public and I believe this time Tun M will remove under performers. Before any of the sub parties try to claim how many seats they won for the coalition, please be reminded that without the name of Tun M as the leader of the coalition, many of those seats might not be won. Bear that in mind.

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