Monday, August 18, 2008

Our government is not stupid

Of course our government is not stupid. In fact they are brilliant – especially when it comes to collecting money from us.

A financial guru once said (I wish I had read this when I was younger) that the best way to earn a high income is to build pipes that bring in money on a continuous basis and not carry them individually by buckets. This is exactly what our government does with unmatched skill. They build lots of small pipes which collect money from us on a daily basis; GST, ERP, COEs, fuel taxes, causeway toll charges etc. etc. etc. Then they put aside some in a bucket and give it back to us once in a while and the figure appears so generous, $3 billion! Contrary to what the prime minister said last night about not publicizing that enough, the ministers and the newspapers never tire of talking about it. What Jack Neo joked about in his movie Money No Enough 2 is common knowledge and all over the internet.

Another feature of our government’s money-collecting technique that is simply brilliant when compared to, say our neighbour up north, is that they collect our money even before we spend it. Let’s take the example of the cash card. All of us have at least two of them. Before you use it, your money has already been collected. If you are so careless as to lose one ..… too bad. If you forget to insert one into your IU when you drive under an ERP gantry ….. again too bad.

Likewise for our car park coupons. Most of us have at least $30 to $50 worth of coupons sitting in our glove compartments. If you are so careless as to accidentally tear off the wrong tab for the year or month ..… too bad. If you underestimate the amount of the time you need to park ….. again too bad. The ever-efficient and friendly parking wardens will come along and issue you a surcharge. If you overestimate the time you need to park your car and tear 1-hour coupon when you need only to spend say, 35 minutes ..… too bad. You cannot even sell the remaining 40 cents to the next driver. In this aspect, I must say that the Malaysian authorities are really dumb compared to ours. In many Malaysian towns, they still use the primitive coin-operated parking meter system. Any unused time can actually be utilized by the next driver.

So the PM as usual is right. The government is not stupid. MP for Hong Kah, Ms Amy Khor puts it best (when commenting on 2007 budget surplus of $6.47 billion):

“It is this far-sightedness and prudence, as well as the many timely and astute policies implemented, that have played a major role in bringing about such a large surplus.”


Anonymous said...

I fully agree to all the points mentioned in this article. When I was in the civil service, I noticed almost all the top bosses (mostly scholars) have something in common, and that is they could think out ways and means to fill the coffers, and in a way helping themselves to climb the corporate ladders faster. Honestly speaking, the common people doesn't mind the govt being rich, as long as the 'fruits' are being shared among the population, but should some of the choiciest 'fruits' are found missing, as in many Asian countries, then the real problem will begin.

Anonymous said...

Very nicely written. This is the true facts happening now in Singapore. I guess majority of the Singaporeans are still zzzzzzzzzzz? It's about time to wake up!