Saturday, October 18, 2014
Tun M's KTM suggestion expose neo-liberals problem-solving weakness
In his blog yesterday [read here], Tun Dr Mahathir suggested few business ideas for Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) in order to reduce their losses. He suggested to lease their tracks and use trains to transport goods to Bangkok.
The additional profit generated could be substantial and return KTM back to profitability. As it is, Tun Mahathir said KTM is losing about RM185 million annually.
In his first line, it may seeemed as though Tun may have took a swipe at another of Dato Ahmad Maslan's typical comment that made him a common conversation piece. He claimed KTEM would turn around after an "intensive transformation" plan with a RM30 million profit by next year.
Without Tun M having to say anything, the bigger jokers that got swiped in his posting was the predictable textbook thinking neo-liberal advisers, specifically Pemandu in government, and young leaders and politicians in UMNO.
The KTM issue came about when Ahmad Maslan was responding to a question on KTM's accumulated RM2.5 billion loss by Dr Lee Boon Hye (PKR-Gopeng).
As advised accordingly, Ahmad Maslan attributed the loss in his answer to low fare and high maintenance. Obviously, part of the suggested solution is increasing fare.
The typical neo-liberal Pemandu thinking textbook solution can be seen as the term "rationalisation" creeps into Ahmad Maslan answer. It will mean the predictable cutting down on schedule, workforce, sell-off, etc. like how MAS was butchered by Khazanah.
And they predictably did it as so. [Read the Star coverage here.]
Ahmad Maslan maybe a favourite subject of ridicule but no poking fun at him on this, please. Dato Najib too said the same thing. [Read TMI here.]
Maybe the Deputy Minister and Minister lack the ground experience and business knowledge that passenger is not the real income for KTM. It's nature of business is in land transport of human and cargo.
The business turnaround and development has to be done by KTM management. But, typical of how things are these days, the thinking is done by some theoreticians consultants outside the organisation and most likely outfit like Khazanah and Pemandu.
There are two ways of going about and that is to cut cost and face up with a public already agitated by rising cost anger [Read Rakyat post here] or look for opportunities within the business to increase revenue.
If there is none, then look at related diversification but do not talk of advertising business in Parliamanet. That's peanut meant for monkeys.
Yet the neo-liberal consultants in KTMB Transformation Lab advised the Deputy Minister to mention of advertising. Aren't neo-liberal consultants allergic to diversification, related or unrelated? Thus it is puzzling why Pemandu aren't they thinking of privatisation since it could take the kinks out of the government subsidy bill?
Yes, government will not privatise KTM ... for now. [Read in The Star here.]
If there is anything to be learned from this, it is for government and country to stop with this economic ideological bullshit which comes with predictable textbook answers without putting in much effort to think.
Tun M was merely looking at generating new businesses from existing infrastructure.
Highlighting Tun M's suggestion is not about trying to champion NEP although it is similar to the idea of increasing the pie rather take from someone else. More so for a man not adhering by any economic school of thoughts, although there are those that described him as close to a Keynesian.
The point is to not be too Idris Jala-like by automatically think of slashing or a fancy way of saying, rationalise whenever one is faced with a problem. It shows a tendency for textbook solution to complex problems.
Tum M maybe no match for the heard to be privatised Pemandu consultants but the manner they do things shows they could be either inexperienced and lack the practical problem solving skill. Maybe they do not do proper research and work since Pemandu tend to hide behind a public lab to justify their inadequacies.
Actually, all it takes is common sense, some thinking and ingenuity. The problem is it may not be so common these days.
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