Saturday, January 05, 2008

Cooking oil - failure of government

Be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny

- Shakespeare, Hamlet

Yes, I am back and ready to rock and roll ;-)

Thanks to all for their kind wishes and emails - sorry I won’t be able to reply each of you individually but everyone has my grateful thanks for your kind wishes and, even when I was inactive for the last two weeks, your kind visits to my blog. I was held incommunicado alas, sob, due to a very eventful Christmas-New Year break ;-)

And what do I read when I got back to ‘civilization’?

… the various news reports including those from Malaysiakini about MCA’s Chua Soi Lek and his now-not-so-private private life.

Maybe he took Shakespeare’s advice and told himself, WTF,
even if I were as pure as snow (not that there is any snow in Malaysia or that snow is even pure) I would be ‘whispered’ to ruins, so …

Do I care about his private life or that he has at least the basic decency to resign? Not in the least, because there are far more important issues to worry about.

An example of what I have been more worried about has been the perennial and disgraceful issue of essential goods not being readily available for the public.

Malaysiakini reported in its news article
Cooking oil on ration after panic-buying that “supermarket shelves were stripped of cooking oil in several states, with retailers not able to replenish supplies fast enough.”

So our dear government did its usual problem solving trick – Malaysiakini said “it has slapped restrictions on cooking oil purchases after panic-buying triggered by rumours of price hikes caused severe shortages ...”

Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Shafie Apdal said that come the new week, customers will only be permitted to buy a maximum of 5 kg of cooking oil at any one time.

Ya, define what does he mean by 'at any one time'? And as a member of the public, why should I be subordinated to such restrictions because of administrative incompetence.

If it’s not cooking oil, it’ll be eggs, chicken, beef, rice, sugar, gas, you name it, that item would have been placed at one stage or other on the controlled list. Previously even the price of a kopi-o wasn’t spared the incompetent but heavy-handed hands of the administration.

The Minister unashamedly admitted:
"This is not the first time we are conducting a rationing exercise for controlled items. We did the same when there was a similar crisis involving sugar."

Instead of going the full hog in his confession and admit that poor administration has been the root cause of all these evils, he blamed smuggling. And his solution was to boost the production of cooking oil by 10%.

But this is a mere tactical solution, without addressing the alleged cause, that of 'smuggling'. What is there to prevent that extra 10% production of oil from being smuggled too?

Items become scarce usually because of the triad of evils in the first place, namely control, cronyism and corruption. And behind every smuggling action, we may reasonably believe there's something dodgy on the other side.

In recent times, each year without fail, we see some essential items running out especially when festive seasons approach. There was a time when Malaysia had plenty of everything and those who indulged in ‘panic buying’ would end up regretting the unjustified misuse of their scarce money.

Oh, by the way, just in case we forget, Malaysia is a leading producer of palm oil yet we can't enable our public to buy as much oil as their hearts desire.

If the government can’t even guarantee the reasonable supply of basic essential food stuff, how in the world can it lead us into the 21st Century globalised world, or even dream of participating meaningfully in space science and technology.

But even worse, we see that it will do nothing to attend to control, cronyism and corruption?


  1. mental jog

    oh so finally you are back... but why back with such a boring topic. well me no go marketing so it is boring to me. haha.

    should come back with a bang and talk about sex sex sex. (er... where CSL is concern). or maybe about UMNO or even attacking anwar. :)

  2. yeah..if they cannot manage palm oil..which we have in abundance, how the hell are they running the country.

  3. On palm oil 4 things:
    1. The rains did make a dent in the harvesting and transport to the refiners.

    2. And this is more important, with CNY coming, most of the palm oil is being exported to China before it shuts down for the holidays.

    3. The closure of about 10 mexican ports disrupted oil supplies to the US, resulting in a commensurate demand for biofuels such as corn/soyabeanoil.

    4. Hedge fund speculators need to put their moolah somewhere esp with stock market turbulence. They find oil a good bet.

  4. On Mr. Chua Soi Lek`s personal lifestyle (which too does not interest me), you might want to consider that at a press conference he mentioned that he, as a politician, has never booked a hotel room! So he may be misusing tax payers money for
    his sexual escapades.
    Or would there be elements of corruption operating here.
    Or do you defend MCA in not pursuing the matter.

  5. CPO Prices on the international market now RM2,900/mt, one year ago its RM1,500/mt

    there is no incentive to sell locally where the price is capped!

    Somewhere somehow, gomen has to subsidise local cooking oil, they cannot leave it to the market forces

  6. i did a chua soil leak with my wife and lasted a darn 44 seconds, snoring after that, How did he do it? wonder and i am 20 years younger than him!!

  7. HOW come BERNAS allowed to smuggle in rice?

    I have a theory;

    a) Bernas has to buy from local farmers at higher prices (GOMEN controlled right)

    b) Bernas has to sell at a ceiling price (Price controlled)

    c) So Bernas think aiyo, they produce higher quality and cheaper rice in Vietnam, Thailand and Cambodia

    d) Bernas think if I bring this in, I will make a killing

    e) Bernas brought the rice in?

    f) Due to christmas/NY Break, somewhere somehow someone forgot to grease somebody.....

    g) I dont think this is the first time either.....

  8. Hi KT,
    Welcome back...for a moment we were worried you had gone MIA...

    The economics of the cooking oil supply in Bolehland is totally distorted. That is how a major palm oil producer manages to run into a domestic supply crunch.

    The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry needs to go back to school for a refresher of the good old price-demand curve.

    How come this Apdal fella is still sitting in the Minister's chair after so many supply crises ... flour, sugar, diesel, cooking oil (x 3).
    In Bolehland its perfectly OK to screw the public....just don't be caught screwing someone not your wife...

  9. Millions of litres of oil must be used to 'grease the wheels in sunny Malaysia.
    So is there any wonder that cooking oil is scarce these days?
    Palm Oil, yet another victim of endemic corruption.
    End corruption and all will be well.
    Go to Hell BN.

  10. Is the shortages only limited to palm oil? Otherwise, we can use other types of oil like sunflower, corn & canola.

  11. All edible oils are up. Thank the priests of climate change for that. Al Gore, Star`s Martin Khor etc will be responsible for the coming food crisis.

  12. and they still want to have palm oil to replace petrol.... don't make me laugh, you can't even control cooking oil! at the end, palm oil is even more expensive than petroleum....