Archive for the ‘Consumerism’ Category

Not right fish and expensive greens

Sunday, February 18th, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: Whether due to overfishing or even theft of marine resources by foreign fishermen active in our waters as alleged by industry sources, one thing is clear – seafood is not as abundantly available as before.

Even if available, they are not the ones sought after during Chinese New Year.

On the other hand, some vegetables have to be discarded because their higher prices have resulted in weakened demand.

A Daily Express random check on fish markets in the State found that most Chinese families may be forced to settle for smaller and cheaper fish for their traditional New Year’s eve dinner compared to previous years.

The higher cost of certain types of fish favoured for this festive occasion is forcing many to opt for cheaper ones.

Fish monger Alex Soo, in Tawau, said his regular customers are buying snappers and pomfrets which are less expensive than types they usually prefer (pic above).

“I do sell the big ones but not many customers are buying because the price has increased.

They choose the smaller ones including prawns,” he said.

The 27-year-old, who took over his mother’s business three years ago, confirmed that fish from his suppliers is more expensive this time around.

There was adequate supply of normal seafood in the KK markets, but traditional species such as White (and black) pomfret were again not in sight this year.

According to a fishmonger who wanted to be identified as Zan, there was more supply compared to last week.

“Thus prices for popular staple food fishes including ikan basung and tulai have dropped slightly and there was no shortage of supply.

Another fishmonger, Roza, agreed saying supply had increased this week leading to slightly cheaper prices but not for those sought after.

“We get our supply from the local fishing boats. If the weather is good then they will be able to catch more fish for the markets,” she said.

A prawn seller said there was enough supply of paper and white prawns in the market and the prices have varied little. However larger sized tiger prawns popularly served at Chinese New year celebrations in the past were unavailable.

“Tommorow (Wednesday) is when we will receive the last shipment of seafood including prawns prior to Chinese New year celebrations, she said.

Vegetable seller, Mama Ella, 51, who operates at Sin On market, also in Tawau, said customer traffic has been less ever since the prices of some basic items increased.

“When I first started doing business there used to be a lot of customers coming here (including during off peak hours) but it’s not the case now. I often have to throw away unsold vegetables at the end of the day,” she said.

Even lately she has been having difficulty in selling her vegetables. “By the end of the day, I would find my table still full,” said Mama Ella, who has been selling for 14 years.

She blamed the Good and Services Tax (GST) for customers holding back on purchases.

“There’s always plenty of supply of vegetables or fruits but less people are buying these days.

So, I don’t dare to take a lot (from suppliers),” she added.

She admitted that she, too, had withheld buying for the Chinese New Year as she wants to be careful with her hard-earned money.

“One thing for sure, I’ll be celebrating it in a modest scale this year. The economy is not good,” she lamented.

Another vegetable seller, Wit Nyuk Oi, said demand for “sang choi” and salads which are favoured during CNY has not been as good as it used to be in previous years.

According to the 51-year-old, the slow economy has changed the spending habit of the people.

A random survey at the Manggatal and Inanam market, in the State Capital, showed vegetables were being bought despite a slight price hike.

“The price depends on the weather condition, good weather means cheaper vegetables, rainy season means costlier vegetables,” said vendor, Lonikah Galim.

She said normally a kilo of kale could cost RM5, while the price of lettuce would be RM8 a kilo, but again it depends on the weather.

“Getting our supply is not that difficult provided you order early especially during festive season when vegetables is in high demand,” she added.

“If the weather conditions turn bad, then not only consumers, but we as vendors would also have to spend extra,” she said.

Another vendor, Julia Junaidi, said the prices may go slightly up during the festive season due to the unpredictable weather condition. She said people still continue to buy because the prices is still reasonable.

She said prices for vegetables like lettuce, broccoli, shallots, and leafy greens for salads would usually go up during Chinese New Year.

“Broccoli is usually sold at RM10 per kilo, but during festive seasons it can go up to RM16 or RM18 a kilo,” she said.

She said the prices can go up by RM2 or RM3 depending on the weather conditions.

A survey at a grocery shop in Kolombong showed that the price of Baby Kailan is RM7 a kilo, while Pak Choi Taiwan from Ranau – a type of Chinese cabbage is sold at RM5.80 a kilo.

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Bringing down cost of houses

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018

State govt to come up with its own housing model to help more Sarawakians own houses

Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, Chief Minister (File Photo)

KUCHING: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg says the prices of houses in the state are extremely high and out of reach of most house buyers.

He pointed out that a semi-detached house may cost about RM600,000 while in premium locations the prices can go up to a RM1 million.

To help more Sarawakians own houses, Abang Johari said the state will design its own brand of housing model within six months with cost of houses that are within reach of house buyers.

“I have a strategy, to have our own brand and with the cooperation of developers we will provide housing at a price of RM250,000 to RM300,000 per unit.

“With that cap, people are able to buy reasonably-priced houses. Perhaps, for the so-called low cost, let the government do them while private developers must provide the medium houses as well as higher end houses,” he said at the launch of Borneo Housing Mortgage Finance Bhd’s new Islamic financing products here yesterday.

“At this stage we are negotiating with developers our plan of having our own brand of housing model.

“We cannot rely on the brand from Kuala Lumpur. We want to have our own product and we want to have our own brand,” he added.

He noted that the move to introduce the state’s own brand of housing models is in line with the government’s initiatives to improve the transport system including the light rail train (LRT) project.

“We are going to embark on a transit oriented development (TOD) programme and having this development principle in place, we may be able to open up our new green areas to build affordable housing.”

He said with good public transport system the state could build new housing settlements, which are near to LRT stations so the people could use the train to go to the city centre.

“And within the new settlements, developers can build houses that cost within the range of RM250,000 to RM300,000 per unit with the space of about 1,000 sq ft and  three rooms.

by Rintos Mail,

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Teachers not allowed to use mobile phones in class

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

Putra Jaya: Teachers are prohibited from bringing or using their mobile phones while in class, Deputy Education Minister Datuk P Kamalanathan said today.

He also said that strict rules on mobile phone usage are already in place.

This comes following a report that 14-year-old M. Vasanthapiriya had committed suicide after being accused of stealing a teacher’s mobile phone recently.

On the matter, Kamalanathan said he was unsure if the teacher in question had brought or used her phone while in class.

“Teachers can bring their handphones to school, however, they are restricted from bringing it to the classroom where teaching and learning process are ongoing.

“As for Vasanthapiriya’s case, this is still not clear. Let us leave this case to be investigated by the police and we will know what really happened when the report is out,” he told reporters during a press conference.

“The ministry’s next course of action will be determined by the outcome of the police investigation,” he added.

Vasanthapiriya attempted suicide on Jan 24 after she was accused of stealing her teacher’s iPhone at the school in Nibong Tebal.

She was initially interrogated by three teachers but had strongly denied it.

She committed suicide later that night but was saved by her father R. Muniandy, 54, after he was alerted by his other daughter.

Vasanthapiriya died on Feb 1, without regaining consciousness.

It was reported previously that three investigation papers had been submitted to the state deputy public prosecutor’s office and police are awaiting a response.

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Residents taking builder to court

Wednesday, February 7th, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: Fed up of waiting for their Strata Titles since moving into their apartments 18 years ago, Bundusan Villa Apartment owners are seeking legal recourse trough lawyer Christina Liew.

Chairperson for the protem residents committee Rose Andrew said they were compelled to seek legal recourse as they feared losing ownership of their property should something undesirable happen to the developers.

She cited many cases in the past where houseowners were left in a quandary after their developer filed for bankruptcy.

“We are aware of the non-issuance of Strata Title issue which prevented some of us from transferring the house ownership to next of kin and there were also cases where the house owner failed to refinance their property because of this problem,” she said, Tuesday.

Liew agreed to follow up the issue with the relevant authorities like the Penampang District Land Office, the Penampang District Council, and the Ministry of Local Government and Housing (MLGH).

“We will study their case from the legal perspective of view as well as other point of views to see what the best approach to resolve it is.

“As far as we are concerned, 18 years is just too long and unreasonable,” she said.

Liew, who is also the Sabah PKR Chairman cum Api-Api assemblywoman further noted that she had been informed by the protem residents committee that the main reason behind the non-application of the strata title by the developer concerned was due to the having not completed the entire housing project.

Under the original Development Plan (DP), the developer was supposed to build eight blocks of four-storey walk-up apartments but had only managed to complete four blocks of 224 units of apartments, thus far.

Under the existing law, a developer is required to complete the entire project as submitted in the Development Plan in order to be issued with the strata titles.

by Locksley Ng.

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Energy efficiency can reduce supply-demand gap – association

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

KOTA KINABALU: Energy Efficiency (EE) is crucial for Malaysia as it will balance and reduce the supply and demand gap of energy in the country.

According to Zaini Abdul Wahab of the Malaysian Association of Registered Electrical Energy Managers (Mareem), energy demand is projected to increase from 2,000 PJ (in 2009) to 4,013 (in 2030), an average rate of 3.6 per cent per year.

“Some of the short-term and long-term measures that can be taken are through EE initiatives, while at the same time working and looking for new energy sources such as renewable energy and alternative energy,” Zaini said in his presentation at the second day of the SESB Sustainable Energy Convention yesterday.

Simply put, EE refers to the reduction in energy used for a given service.

Among the benefits of EE are the reduced exposure to the uncertainties in energy price fluctuation and deferred capital investments, Zaini asserted.

The concept of EE may also attract more investors and it will pave the way to more access in capital (new and additional sources of economic growth).

In terms of its environmental benefits, EE will reduce greenhouse gas emissions within the country.

“The benefits of EE also includes the creation of new job opportunities, an improved energy security and a reduction in operation and maintenance costs,” Zaini said.

He stressed that 2/3 of the economic potential to improve energy efficiency remains untapped in the period leading up to 2035.

In his presentation entitled Roles of Energy Managers in Sustainable Energy Management For Large Energy Users, he had also touched on the importance of Energy Management (EM).

EM refers to activities that aim to ensure efficient use of energy in the organization, the standard systematic approach for the management of energy use.

Environmentally speaking, EM is the most cost-effective way to reduce carbon footprint and it is in line with society’s stand in the global climate change mitigation measures and goals.

It is understood that the concept of EM will also help businesses achieve greater savings and it can reduce costs by at least 20%. At the same time EM can also enhance the corporate image of a particular company.

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Deep-sea abalone costs 25% more this year

Friday, January 26th, 2018

KOTA KINABALU: Deep-sea abalone is 20 to 25 per cent more expensive this year due to falling stocks, according to a traditional Chinese medicine retailer in city centre who declined to be named.

He said deep-sea abalone stocks in the main producing countries, such as Australia, New Zealand, Mexico and South Africa had declined due to climate factor and ocean currents.

The top grade Mexican abalone stocks were heavily depleted last year, he said.

He said the canned Mexican abalone in the market were from previous stocks and were currently sold at over RM500 each.

He said abalone, sea cucumbers, fat choy, dried oysters and mushrooms were some of the favourites among Chinese families with better financial background during the Chinese New Year celebration.

However, he said the climate factor and ocean currents during the harvest season in June and July had caused a sharp drop in the harvest of abalone in the main producing countries.

As a result, he said the price of canned abalone had increased by 20 to 25 per cent, or about RM30 per can.

For instance, a can of abalone sold at RM 110 last year is now priced around RM130.

On the other hand, he said both the local and imported sea cucumbers were also short in supply this year.

He said the sea cucumbers available in the market now were mostly produced in Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and Maldives.

Due to the shortage, the price of sea cucumbers had gone up by 30 to 40 per cent, he said.

Nonetheless, he said the prices of mushrooms, fat choy and dried oysters remained stable.

Similarly, Radiant Asia Sdn Bhd in Foh Sang also reported a slight price hike for canned abalone as well as Chinese sausages from Peninsular Malaysia.

Canned abalone sold at Radiant Asia are priced between RM36.80 and up to RM598 for Mexican abalone.

The shop said sales of Chinese New Year products were still slow at the moment and was expected to pick up in February.

by Chok Sim Yee.

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Parents feeling the pinch as back-to-school shopping peaks

Friday, December 29th, 2017

KOTA KINABALU: The current back-to-school shopping has peaked as parents prepare their children for the new semester which begins on January 2.

While kids are excited over a fresh year at school, many parents are feeling the pinch on their wallets.

They said they had to fork out hundreds of ringgit for stationery, school bags, uniforms and books.

Florita Makajil from Penampang said she has spent around RM300 for her first son, Javier who is going to Primary Two, but does not mind spending the amount as she believed that education is not something you should save on.

“I have prepared three pairs of shoes and uniforms for my son which cost me around RM200, while a school bag was RM45 and stationery and sports equipment around RM100. It is not branded but durable according to my previous experience.

“My son obtained good results in his Primary One examination and I want it to be the same in this coming year. I know Chinese schools are very strict on  homework and school work but I will make sure he will be getting the best,” she said.

Noni Muhamad, who is sending her first daughter Adriana Natasha to Secondary One said she had spent around RM200 for three pairs of new school uniforms while stationary was not on her top priority because the old ones could still be used.

“I did not go to big supermarkets because prices are more expensive there. I went to the smaller shops in Inanam, where I found the school uniforms were cheaper and of good quality. It can last up to two years,” she said.

A mother from Kota Marudu, Suhana Yahya said she had spent around RM400 for her daughter who registered for her Primary One because uniforms and stationary in the kindergarten and school were not the same.

“Although my husband and I are working, RM400 is not cheap for one kid. We did not buy expensive brands, but everything was around RM400.

“Since my daughter Nur Zulaikha Farhana Jaaffar is very excited to go to  school, we gave her the privilege to choose her bags, lunch box and stationery according to her favourite colour,” she added.

Meanwhile, a mother who is sending her son to primary school, said prices of school uniforms were expensive  as she had already spent almost RM600.

Maslyn Poh, who is a housewife said she depended on the Christmas sales recently and managed to complete her last minute shopping in a week.

“My son Muhammad Afi Azim is going to be seven next year, and I am already prepared with the amount of money that we need to fork out for his school,” she said.

Not only for primary and secondary schools, expenses for children going to play schools were also the top topic among mothers.

Joannah Ng, who is sending her daughter Jasmine Yap for the first time to a play school, said she had spent RM595 for registration, RM350 for advanced monthly fee and RM300 for school materials, which is needed every session.

“We spent four figures for registration and  equipment, which is quite pricey for me as a first timer,” she said.

Currently, most of departmental stores around the city centres are still having ‘back to school’ sales but some sizes of school uniforms and shoes are unavailable.

The other option for parents who do not have the time to go  shopping is to buy online.

A teacher, Ruby Ronarita shared that she had spent around RM700 for her two sons who are in the primary school.

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Sabah should consider taking over SESB – KKCCCI

Tuesday, December 26th, 2017

KOTA KINABALU: Kota Kinabalu Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KKCCCI) president Datuk Michael Lui yesterday expressed disbelief at the Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili’s statement that Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) was on the verge of insolvency.

He said this statement could evoke panic among the public and possibly affect the people’s confidence towards the government.

“The commercial and private sectors, as well as members of the public find this news hard to accept.

Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) took over 82 per cent stake in SESB in the 1980s, while the State Government holds 18 per cent stake, he said.

Lui said Sabahans deserved to know the reason SESB was on the brink of insolvency.

“We believe that the State Government will look into this matter as electricity supply is a basic necessity for the people.”

KKCCCI also urged the State Government to seriously consider taking over SESB.

Lui believed that there were Sabah-based companies with large capital which the State Government could consider bringing on board to ensure the operations of SESB would not be disrupted.

Maximus said the future of SESB would be determined following an ongoing discussion between the Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry, Ministry of Finance and TNB.

The minister said the discussion was crucial, especially since SESB continued to make losses and on the verge of insolvency.

Meanwhile, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Sabah urged the  state government to come out with a white paper on SESB privatization fiasco.

Its chairman, Christina Liew, said this was necessary in order to ascertain what were the real contributing factors to the sorry state that SESB had come to, after close to two decades of privatization – on the verge of bankruptcy, as revealed by Maximus recently.

“The people of Sabah deserve to know the truth behind the SESB privatization fiasco. It’s rather outrageous that despite being the sole power supplier in the state, with a customer base of more than 600,000 people, SESB could end up in such a deplorable state, after close to two decades of privatization.

“With issuance of the white paper, we shall be able to ascertain whether the fiasco was really due to a higher energy generation cost incurred by SESB compared with the current average tariff, as what was revealed by Maximus, or was it due to a flawed privatization scheme right from the beginning, or mismanagement and some ‘hidden causes’ like unreasonable and exorbitant purchase of power supply from the Independent Power Producers (IPP),” said Liew who is also the PKR Sabah chairman-cum-Api-Api assemblywoman in a statement yesterday.

She also proposed that an independent forensic audit be carried out on SESB’s account, so as to get to the bottom of the fiasco.

While noting that the white paper should also provide solutions on how best to salvage SESB, she hoped it would include proposal for the state government to take it back and manage it.

“If Sarawak could manage its own power supply well, I believe we too should be able to do the same, unless of course there’s a ‘lopsided deal’ in place to benefit a privileged few,” she said.

Liew added that if Pakatan Harapan wins the coming general election and gets to form the new government, it would know what to do to turn SESB around.

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School bus fares may go up by RM20 next year

Friday, December 8th, 2017

KOTA KINABALU: School bus fares may be increased by RM10 to RM20 when the new school terms begins next year, said Sabah West Coast School Bus Association president Robert Chin.

Chin explained that operators were facing a huge burden in fluctuating fuel prices, as well as increasing costs in spare parts and maintenance for school buses.

In fact, he said the repair and maintenance costs for school buses had doubled.

“As such, we are most likely going to increase the bus fares next year.

“However, this has not been finalized yet as we are still discussing this matter.

“We shall come to a decision whether to increase the fares next week,” Chin said when contacted yesterday.

He said operators would face difficulty if they were to maintain the bus fares in view of the high operating costs.

Chin said the association had over 300 members but only around 200 of them were active.

Some of the members had ceased to operate as their school buses had reached the age limit, he said.

Furthermore, Chin said the association had not received new memberships due to the difficulty in operating school buses amid the uncertain economy.

He hoped that the government could consider extending the age limit of school buses beyond 30 years.

“Acquiring a new school bus requires high costs. It is difficult for operators to replace their school buses with the rising repair costs,¡¨ he lamented.

Meanwhile, Sabah West Coast School Bus Association vice president Kelvin Chia stressed that the association did not interfere with the bus fares charged by its members.

“It parents cannot afford the bus fares, they could negotiate with the operators and decide on a fare which both parties agree upon.”

Nonetheless, Chia hoped that parents could be more understanding towards the plight of school bus operators as they had to bear increasing living costs as well.

Although the government provided diesel subsidy for school bus operators, he said only a few received the benefit.

Additionally, Chia said operators were faced with the challenge of having their permits cancelled when their school buses reached the age limit of 30 years.

He said majority of school bus operators were 40 years old and above, who probably would not be able to secure bank loans to purchase a new school bus due to their age.

The Federation of Malaysian School Bus Operators recently said that the association did not rule out the possibility that bus fares would be raised when the new school term begins next year.

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KKCCCI disappointed over first reading of amended EIS Bill — President

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

KOTA KINABALU: Kota Kinabalu Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KKCCCI) president Datuk Michael Lui expressed his disappointment over the first reading of the amended Employment Insurance System (EIS) Bill 2017 in the Dewan Rakyat.

He said reduction of the proposed contribution rates for employers and employees at 0.4 per cent (employers and employers each contribute 0.2 per cent) was merely a way to appease the people.

He said the government should not keep on coming up with amended versions of the EIS Bill.

Lui reiterated that the government should consider incorporating the job search allowance and reduced income allowance under the proposed law as extra welfare for Social Security Organisation (Socso) members.

At present, he said the existing monthly contribution by employers and employees at 1.75 per cent employer’s share and 0.5 per cent employee’s monthly wages — to Socso was more than sufficient. Take a monthly salary of RM 3,000, as example, he said the employer would contribute RM51.65 and employee RM14.75 to Socso.

“Incorporating the financial assistance under EIS into Socso rather than imposing additional insurance scheme should be the way to go,” Lui said in a press statement yesterday.

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