Competition law and the airline industry


October 31, 2011

http://www.thesundaily.my/news/192729

Competition law and the airline industry

Posted on 31 October 2011 – 11:03am
Last updated on 31 October 2011 – 11:09am

by Christopher Lee, Kuok Yew Chen and Edwin Lee
Legally Speaking

MALAYSIAN Airline System Bhd (MAS), AirAsia Bhd and AirAsia X Sdn Bhd have recently entered into a Comprehensive Collaboration Framework to explore opportunities to collaborate on a broad range of areas in which all parties will strive to complement each other’s businesses so as to leverage on their respective core competencies and optimise efficiency for the benefit of consumers.

The collaboration has sparked concerns that the tie-up between the two airlines may result in a monopoly or anti-competitive behaviour in the airline industry. Many have expressed their worries that the collaboration may result in less frequent flights, limited travel options and that AirAsia may stop offering low-price airfares since MAS is no longer a competitor to AirAsia.

The collaboration agreement would only come into effect after a full competition analysis is completed and is in compliance with the applicable laws with regard to competition law in all the markets that the airlines operate in.

It is noted that the recently-established Malaysian Competition Commission is also looking into the possible impact of the collaboration on the local market.

This article sets out to examine the competition law issues that may arise from the collaboration in the airline industry.

Competition Act 2010

The Competition Act 2010 was passed by Parliament last year and is scheduled to come into force on Jan 1, 2012. The Act applies to any commercial activity by any company (including government-linked companies) within and outside Malaysia which has an effect on competition in any market in Malaysia.

Generally, competition law in most jurisdictions around the world covers three main pillars – prevention of anti-competitive agreements; abuse of a dominant position as well as ruling against anti-competitive mergers and acquisitions.

The Act does not, however, provide for regulation of mergers and acquisitions which may be anti-competitive, although the government has not ruled out the possibility of introducing the third pillar in the future.

Anti-competitive agreements

The Act prohibits horizontal and vertical agreements between enterprises where an agreement has the object or effect of significantly preventing, restricting or distorting competition in any market for goods or services.

Horizontal agreements which have the effect of price fixing; market sharing; limit or control of production, market outlets or market access; and bid rigging are deemed to be anti-competitive agreements. Vertical agreements include tie-in arrangements and exclusive dealings which have the object of setting up barriers of entry against new entrants in a particular industry.

Abuse of a dominant position

Enterprises are prohibited from engaging in any conduct which amounts to an abuse of a dominant position such as imposing unfair purchase or selling price; limiting or controlling production, market outlets or market access, refusing to supply; applying discriminatory conditions that discourage new market entry; engaging in predatory behaviour towards competitors; or buying up scarce supplies in excess of the dominant enterprise’s own needs.

The application of competition law to the airline industry

In the airline industry, the typical competition issues include global alliances, tariff coordination, code-sharing, price-fixing, airport capacity and slot allocation, predatory pricing, frequent flyers programme, corporate discount schemes, and travel agent commission. These competition issues may arise from day-to-day dealings with competitors, joint-venture partners, airport operators, suppliers, agents as well as customers, and will likely come under the scrutiny by the competition authority.

In many countries, airlines have to seek permission and clearance from the competition authorities before they are allowed to form an alliance. The competition authorities will consider the terms of the agreement, the potential impact on the relevant markets as well as whether the alliance would result in excessive market domination.

The competition authorities in many jurisdictions are generally supportive of airline alliances as they would result in cost savings, better connectivity and foster greater synergies between the airlines unless the alliances would result in elimination of competition.

Code sharing

Code sharing is an arrangement between two airlines where one airline (operating airline) allows another airline (marketing airline), as a code share partner, to market and sell tickets on the operating airline’s flights. The marketing airline that sells tickets under its own code does not actually operate the flight.

While code-sharing agreements are generally permissible as they provide substantial benefits to consumers (such as seamless connections, greater network access and competitive airfares), some code-sharing agreements may give rise to anti-competitive concerns as the multiple displays of code-shared flights on computer screens push down other airlines’ flights to be displayed on following screens which may be missed by consumers searching for other flight options.

It may also go beyond this and cover comprehensive integration of marketing and sharing of operational information that results in distortion of healthy competition practices.

In this respect, AirAsia has dismissed the possibility of entering into a code-sharing agreement with MAS as it claims both airlines operate in different market segments and with different business models.

It is believed that both airlines are likely to have a common understanding on joint planning, operating and coordinating routes, flight schedules and airfares. In Europe and the US, exemptions have been granted to a number of cooperation agreements between airlines on the condition that the whole arrangement benefits the customers of each party by providing access to a wider range of routes.

Price fixing

In the past few years, dozens of airlines around the world have been slapped with hefty punishments by competition authorities for involvement in price-fixing cartels. For example, in November 2010, 11 airlines were fined a total of €799 million (RM3.46 billion) by the European Commission for fixing the price of fuel and security surcharges on cargo flights worldwide over a six-year period from 1999 to 2006.

At home, in July 2011, MAS announced that it would pay US$3.35 million (RM10.27 million) to a number of freight forwarders in the US to settle claims alleging that MAS was involved in price-fixing of airfreight shipping services and related surcharges, although MAS has denied any wrongdoing and claimed that the settlement was to allow MAS to focus its full attention on further strengthening its business and to keep its legal costs to a minimum.

Abuse of a dominant position

Merely being in a dominant position is not unlawful; it is the abuse of a dominant position that is prohibited under competition law. Examples of an abuse of a dominant position in the airline industry include imposing excessive, predatory or discriminatory pricing; the exclusive application of only one tariff on a given route; offering discounts or commissions with a view to excluding competitors from the market; and refusing to supply or allow access to essential facilities.

Predatory pricing

Predatory pricing is a huge concern amongst the airlines in the fight for larger market share. Predatory pricing is where a company sets the price for its products or services below the cost of producing or providing the products or services in order to force its competitors to exit the market. Once the competitor is eliminated, the company will then raise its price to an exorbitant level to recoup loss of revenue suffered during its predatory pricing exercise.

In 2008, AirAsia claimed that MAS had engaged in unfair competition and predatory pricing in its “Everyday Low Fares” campaign. While the claim was subsequently found to be baseless, it highlighted the risk of engaging in predatory pricing.

However, in light of the collaboration, it is unlikely that there will be any predatory pricing. Instead, it is likely that airfares in both airlines will be aligned to complement each other in their respective market segments.

Frequent flyer programmes

Frequent flyer programmes and corporate discount schemes which have the effect of providing incentives for customers to stick to one particular airline may be viewed as creating an anti-competitive effect.

Similarly, travel agent commission agreements which tie travel agents to one particular airline and discourage them from selling tickets for other airlines may be anti-competitive and should generally be avoided. For example, British Airways was found to have abused its dominant position by operating a commission scheme that had the effect of excluding British Airways’ competitors from the UK markets for air travel.

The MAS-AirAsia collaboration

The collaboration will see MAS and Firefly concentrate on providing full-service long and short-haul flight services while AirAsia and AirAsia X will focus on low-cost, no-frills long and short-haul flight services.

On one hand, some may view this as effectively reducing or removing competition as each airline will dominate a market segment with no competitor in that segment. On the other hand, it also appears that even with the collaboration, the airlines will continue to face competition from each other and from other airlines in the market. It is noted that consumers will still have sufficient options to fly with many other airlines in the market.

AirAsia group CEO Tan Sri Tony Fernandes has assured the public that AirAsia’s identity as a low-cost airline will not be changed as the collaboration is aimed at focusing on the core competency of each airline and to foster closer collaboration between the airlines so as to enable them to compete with other big players in the industry.

As such, so long as the airlines comply with the applicable laws, including competition law, the collaboration may eventually yield greater benefits to consumers.

Conclusion

The International Chamber of Commerce has recognised that the trend of forming alliances and other forms of cooperation among airlines is increasing and that it can be beneficial to the industry and consumers.

However, it also felt that these cooperative agreements must be subject to fair and objective competition rules so as to create a stable and predictable legal environment and, at the same, protect the rights and interests of other airlines and players in the industry.

Under the Act, companies which are found to have infringed any of the prohibitions may be liable to a fine of up to 10% of their global revenue for the period during which the infringement occurred. Directors, CEOs, COOs and managers may also be severally and jointly liable to hefty fines and imprisonment.

Despite being separate legal entities, a parent company and its subsidiaries will be considered as a single enterprise if they form a single economic unit within which the subsidiaries do not enjoy real autonomy in determining their actions on the market. Anyone who has suffered loss or damage as a result of the infringement also has the right to take civil action against the company.

It would be interesting to see how these two airlines, which have previously been regarded as competitors, collaborate with each other instead. Will they no longer be in competition and, if so, will the law allow that?

This article was contributed by Christopher Lee, Kuok Yew Chen and Edwin Lee of Christopher Lee & Co (www.christopherleeco.com).

Rahim Noor: PERKASA’s New Warrior


October 31, 2011

Rahim Noor: PERKASA’s New Warrior

by Terence Netto @http://www.malaysiakini.com

COMMENT:

Now that former inspector-general of police Abdul Rahim Noor has made his skepticism about human rights obvious in his keynote address to the PERKASA general meeting last week, we can retrospectively understand aspects of his conduct when he was the country’s top cop.

abdul rahim noor perkasa 2nd agmOne would have thought Rahim, following the loss of his job and having endured the humiliation of jail for assaulting former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim in the infamous ‘black eye’ incident in 1998, would go gently into a retirement where golf would not be the only diversion.

Certainly, a sustained bout of community service would have helped to assuage society’s bruised sensitivities: nothing obtains a disgraced former luminary redemption in the public eye better than diligent and long service to communitarian projects.

But Rahim, after a discrete re-emergence to public life in recent years via newspaper interviews on policing and crime prevention on which he made sense, has abruptly discarded the obscurity of the periphery to publicly vent views that make him the local version of the John Birch Society.

John Birchers, a shadowy group that haunted power centres in the south and west of the United States, were notorious in the 1950s and 60s for propounding right-wing views on race, the communist threat and military spending.

Trigger-happy cops

People who knew something of Rahim’s deportment towards rape suspects and others of society’s dregs while he was the force’s head honcho would not be terribly surprised to hear that he has scant respect for human rights.

In fact, his rebellion against restraint on that sinister night in the Special Branch lock-up in late September 1998 where Anwar was held blindfolded was seen by those privy to his conduct as the outcome of propensities unwisely left unchecked.

Unfortunately for Rahim, the ‘top officer-should-not-be-contradicted’ ethos of the uniformed services – entrenched by the time he became IGP in the early 1990s – disserved him: there was nobody to tug at his sleeve and whisper that police power is not an invitation to vigilante justice.

By 1996, when the late and prominent lawyer Raja Aziz Addruce warned that the Police were “trigger-happy” because the toll from custodial deaths had reached distressing levels, Rahim chided the then National Human Rights Society (Hakam) president for insensitivity to the dangers faced by cops when tackling violent criminals.

Shortly after he admonished Raja Aziz, there was an obscure but disturbing report of a lorry driver who had a roadside altercation with the IGP in which a shot was fired, though nobody was hurt.

The matter drew skimpy mention in the press. A while later, the ‘black eye’ incident broke like a tornado in the public arena; and people’s feelings were inflamed. In the incident’s immediate aftermath, graffiti aimed at Rahim – in some places drawn in aerosol which made it ineffaceable for a long time – appeared at conspicuous intersections along major thoroughfares, excoriating him for abject servility to the powers-that-be.

Some viewed the incident of Rahim’s action or reaction against Anwar in the Special Branch lock-up as illustrative of his temperament; not just the aberrant issue of momentary self-derangement.

Until Rahim’s accession to the IGP post, its previous holders – from Salleh Ismail through to Hanif Omar – managed to exude authority without a hint of menace in their deportment.

This is a tricky call in the more lofty brackets of the police force: how to evince command to all and sundry sans the suggestion that it would be unwise to tangle with the person.

‘Black eye’ public inquiry

With Rahim’s promotion to IGP – the man is huskily-built and sports a bristling mustache – the aura of exuding authority without evincing menace was no more a requisite for the post. Rahim looks like someone one would not like to be caught against in a fray in a back alley.

Of course, all these arguments are impressionistic, but the concept that civil servants, the top tier in particular, should be non-partisan and politically neutral servants of the state, rather than tribunes of the government of the day is incontestable.

There was a anguished piece of testimony in the public inquiry into the ‘black eye’ incident that purported to show a frazzled Rahim, in the tense prelude to Anwar’s sacking by Mahathir from the government and UMNO in August-September 1998, pleading with Anwar to settle his problems with the then Prime Minister.

Strictly speaking, it was no business of the then IGP to be in any of the several roles – intermediary, plenipotentiary or supplicant – his pleadings to Anwar suggested he was inclined to play in the internecine feuding between the PM and his deputy.

In fact, it would seem that Rahim wasted a wonderful opportunity to show the requisite professionalism of his level of civil servant – wryly aware of the passions eddying around him in the political sphere but strictly neutral in the execution of his fiduciary duties to the state.

He disdained the professional’s neutral stance for the seeming role of overwrought equerry of the incumbent PM. The beating up of Anwar was, then, only a short downward spiral from an already muddled conception of public duty.

Now the disgraced former IGP has gone and done his already tarnished record worse by spouting off on human rights, the social contract and the constitution.

The muddled do as the addled always does.

A Sister’s Eulogy for Steve Jobs: “Follow your Heart and your Intuition”


October 31, 2011

A Sister’s Eulogy for Steve Jobs

By Mona Simpson (10-30-11)*

I grew up as an only child, with a single mother. Because we were poor and because I knew my father had emigrated from Syria, I imagined he looked like Omar Sharif. I hoped he would be rich and kind and would come into our lives (and our not yet furnished apartment) and help us.

Later, after I’d met my father, I tried to believe he’d changed his number and left no forwarding address because he was an idealistic revolutionary, plotting a new world for the Arab people.

Even as a feminist, my whole life I’d been waiting for a man to love, who could love me. For decades, I’d thought that man would be my father. When I was 25, I met that man and he was my brother.

By then, I lived in New York, where I was trying to write my first novel. I had a job at a small magazine in an office the size of a closet, with three other aspiring writers. When one day a lawyer called me — me, the middle-class girl from California who hassled the boss to buy us health insurance — and said his client was rich and famous and was my long-lost brother, the young editors went wild.

This was 1985 and we worked at a cutting-edge literary magazine, but I’d fallen into the plot of aDickens novel and really, we all loved those best. The lawyer refused to tell me my brother’s name and my colleagues started a betting pool. The leading candidate: John Travolta. I secretly hoped for a literary descendant of Henry James — someone more talented than I, someone brilliant without even trying.

When I met Steve, he was a guy my age in jeans, Arab- or Jewish-looking and handsomer than Omar Sharif.

We took a long walk — something, it happened, that we both liked to do. I don’t remember much of what we said that first day, only that he felt like someone I’d pick to be a friend. He explained that he worked in computers.

I didn’t know much about computers. I still worked on a manual Olivetti typewriter.I told Steve I’d recently considered my first purchase of a computer: something called the Cromemco.

Steve told me it was a good thing I’d waited. He said he was making something that was going to be insanely beautiful.

I want to tell you a few things I learned from Steve, during three distinct periods, over the 27 years I knew him. They’re not periods of years, but of states of being. His full life. His illness. His dying.

Steve worked at what he loved. He worked really hard. Every day.That’s incredibly simple, but true. He was the opposite of absent-minded. He was never embarrassed about working hard, even if the results were failures. If someone as smart as Steve wasn’t ashamed to admit trying, maybe I didn’t have to be.

When he got kicked out of Apple, things were painful. He told me about a dinner at which 500 Silicon Valley leaders met the then-sitting president. Steve hadn’t been invited.

He was hurt but he still went to work at Next. Every single day. Novelty was not Steve’s highest value. Beauty was.

For an innovator, Steve was remarkably loyal. If he loved a shirt, he’d order 10 or 100 of them. In the Palo Alto house, there are probably enough black cotton turtlenecks for everyone in this church.He didn’t favor trends or gimmicks. He liked people his own age.

His philosophy of aesthetics reminds me of a quote that went something like this: “Fashion is what seems beautiful now but looks ugly later; art can be ugly at first but it becomes beautiful later.”

Steve always aspired to make beautiful later.He was willing to be misunderstood. Uninvited to the ball, he drove the third or fourth iteration of his same black sports car to Next, where he and his team were quietly inventing the platform on which Tim Berners-Lee would write the program for the World Wide Web.

Steve was like a girl in the amount of time he spent talking about love. Love was his supreme virtue, his god of gods. He tracked and worried about the romantic lives of the people working with him.

Whenever he saw a man he thought a woman might find dashing, he called out, “Hey are you single? Do you wanna come to dinner with my sister?”

I remember when he phoned the day he met Laurene. “There’s this beautiful woman and she’s really smart and she has this dog and I’m going to marry her.”

When Reed was born, he began gushing and never stopped. He was a physical dad, with each of his children. He fretted over Lisa’s boyfriends and Erin’s travel and skirt lengths and Eve’s safety around the horses she adored.

None of us who attended Reed’s graduation party will ever forget the scene of Reed and Steve slow dancing.

His abiding love for Laurene sustained him. He believed that love happened all the time, everywhere. In that most important way, Steve was never ironic, never cynical, never pessimistic. I try to learn from that, still.

Steve had been successful at a young age, and he felt that had isolated him. Most of the choices he made from the time I knew him were designed to dissolve the walls around him. A middle-class boy from Los Altos, he fell in love with a middle-class girl from New Jersey. It was important to both of them to raise Lisa, Reed, Erin and Eve as grounded, normal children.

Their house didn’t intimidate with art or polish; in fact, for many of the first years I knew Steve and Lo together, dinner was served on the grass, and sometimes consisted of just one vegetable. Lots of that one vegetable. But one. Broccoli. In season. Simply prepared. With just the right, recently snipped, herb.

Even as a young millionaire, Steve always picked me up at the airport. He’d be standing there in his jeans.

When a family member called him at work, his secretary Linetta answered, “Your dad’s in a meeting. Would you like me to interrupt him?”

When Reed insisted on dressing up as a witch every Halloween, Steve, Laurene, Erin and Eve all went wiccan.

They once embarked on a kitchen remodel; it took years. They cooked on a hotplate in the garage. The Pixar building, under construction during the same period, finished in half the time. And that was it for the Palo Alto house. The bathrooms stayed old. But — and this was a crucial distinction — it had been a great house to start with; Steve saw to that.

This is not to say that he didn’t enjoy his success: he enjoyed his success a lot, just minus a few zeros. He told me how much he loved going to the Palo Alto bike store and gleefully realizing he could afford to buy the best bike there.

And he did. Steve was humble. Steve liked to keep learning. Once, he told me if he’d grown up differently, he might have become a mathematician. He spoke reverently about colleges and loved walking around the Stanford campus. In the last year of his life, he studied a book of paintings by Mark Rothko, an artist he hadn’t known about before, thinking of what could inspire people on the walls of a future Apple campus.

Steve cultivated whimsy. What other C.E.O. knows the history of English and Chinese tea roses and has a favorite David Austin rose?

He had surprises tucked in all his pockets. I’ll venture that Laurene will discover treats — songs he loved, a poem he cut out and put in a drawer — even after 20 years of an exceptionally close marriage. I spoke to him every other day or so, but when I opened The New York Times and saw a feature on the company’s patents, I was still surprised and delighted to see a sketch for a perfect staircase.

With his four children, with his wife, with all of us, Steve had a lot of fun. He treasured happiness. Then, Steve became ill and we watched his life compress into a smaller circle. Once, he’d loved walking through Paris. He’d discovered a small handmade soba shop in Kyoto. He downhill skied gracefully. He cross-country skied clumsily. No more.

Eventually, even ordinary pleasures, like a good peach, no longer appealed to him.Yet, what amazed me, and what I learned from his illness, was how much was still left after so much had been taken away.

I remember my brother learning to walk again, with a chair. After his liver transplant, once a day he would get up on legs that seemed too thin to bear him, arms pitched to the chair back. He’d push that chair down the Memphis hospital corridor towards the nursing station and then he’d sit down on the chair, rest, turn around and walk back again. He counted his steps and, each day, pressed a little farther.

Laurene got down on her knees and looked into his eyes. “You can do this, Steve,” she said. His eyes widened. His lips pressed into each other.He tried. He always, always tried, and always with love at the core of that effort. He was an intensely emotional man.

I realized during that terrifying time that Steve was not enduring the pain for himself. He set destinations: his son Reed’s graduation from high school, his daughter Erin’s trip to Kyoto, the launching of a boat he was building on which he planned to take his family around the world and where he hoped he and Laurene would someday retire.

Even ill, his taste, his discrimination and his judgment held. He went through 67 nurses before finding kindred spirits and then he completely trusted the three who stayed with him to the end. Tracy. Arturo. Elham.

One time when Steve had contracted a tenacious pneumonia his doctor forbid everything — even ice. We were in a standard I.C.U. unit. Steve, who generally disliked cutting in line or dropping his own name, confessed that this once, he’d like to be treated a little specially. I told him: Steve, this is special treatment.He leaned over to me, and said: “I want it to be a little more special.”

Intubated, when he couldn’t talk, he asked for a notepad. He sketched devices to hold an iPad in a hospital bed. He designed new fluid monitors and x-ray equipment. He redrew that not-quite-special-enough hospital unit. And every time his wife walked into the room, I watched his smile remake itself on his face.

For the really big, big things, you have to trust me, he wrote on his sketchpad. He looked up. You have to. By that, he meant that we should disobey the doctors and give him a piece of ice.

None of us knows for certain how long we’ll be here. On Steve’s better days, even in the last year, he embarked upon projects and elicited promises from his friends at Apple to finish them. Some boat builders in the Netherlands have a gorgeous stainless steel hull ready to be covered with the finishing wood. His three daughters remain unmarried, his two youngest still girls, and he’d wanted to walk them down the aisle as he’d walked me the day of my wedding.

We all — in the end — die in medias res. In the middle of a story. Of many stories. I suppose it’s not quite accurate to call the death of someone who lived with cancer for years unexpected, but Steve’s death was unexpected for us. What I learned from my brother’s death was that character is essential: What he was, was how he died.

Tuesday morning, he called me to ask me to hurry up to Palo Alto. His tone was affectionate, dear, loving, but like someone whose luggage was already strapped onto the vehicle, who was already on the beginning of his journey, even as he was sorry, truly deeply sorry, to be leaving us.

He started his farewell and I stopped him. I said, “Wait. I’m coming. I’m in a taxi to the airport. I’ll be there.”

“I’m telling you now because I’m afraid you won’t make it on time, honey.” When I arrived, he and his Laurene were joking together like partners who’d lived and worked together every day of their lives. He looked into his children’s eyes as if he couldn’t unlock his gaze.

Until about 2 in the afternoon, his wife could rouse him, to talk to his friends from Apple. Then, after awhile, it was clear that he would no longer wake to us.His breathing changed. It became severe, deliberate, purposeful. I could feel him counting his steps again, pushing farther than before.

This is what I learned: he was working at this, too. Death didn’t happen to Steve, he achieved it. He told me, when he was saying goodbye and telling me he was sorry, so sorry we wouldn’t be able to be old together as we’d always planned, that he was going to a better place.

Dr. Fischer gave him a 50/50 chance of making it through the night. He made it through the night, Laurene next to him on the bed sometimes jerked up when there was a longer pause between his breaths. She and I looked at each other, then he would heave a deep breath and begin again.

This had to be done. Even now, he had a stern, still handsome profile, the profile of an absolutist, a romantic. His breath indicated an arduous journey, some steep path, altitude.

He seemed to be climbing.But with that will, that work ethic, that strength, there was also sweet Steve’s capacity for wonderment, the artist’s belief in the ideal, the still more beautiful later.

Steve’s final words, hours earlier, were monosyllables, repeated three times. Before embarking, he’d looked at his sister Patty, then for a long time at his children, then at his life’s partner, Laurene, and then over their shoulders past them.

Steve’s final words were:

OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW.

Mona Simpson is a novelist and a professor of English at the University of California, Los Angeles. She delivered this eulogy for her brother, Steve Jobs, on October 16 at his memorial service at the Memorial Church of Stanford University.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/30/opinion/mona-simpsons-eulogy-for-steve-jobs.html?pagewanted=3&_r=2#

KTMB (Kereta Api Tanah Melayu) hurt by Move to Woodlands


October 31, 2011

http://www.nst.com.my

KTMB hurt by Move to Woodlands

by Sim Bak Heng (10-30-11)

The shifting of KTM Berhad’s railway operations to Woodlands in July following the closure of the Tanjung Pagar railway station has taken its toll on the revenue of the rail company.

Checks showed the company has incurred an average monthly loss of RM1.8 million since July as a result of a decline of between 20 and 30 per cent of passengers using train services to the republic.

KTMB believes most of its customers are instead opting to travel to the republic by express buses, and some by planes, as the Woodlands station is not quite convenient for travellers.

There are seven train services to Singapore daily, and all services stop at the Woodlands checkpoint.All the trains will make a brief stop at JB Sentral before moving towards Woodlands, which is about one kilometre away.

Industry sources said it is economically not viable to have two stations located too near to each other, more so when both are located near the border of two different countries using different currencies.

In the case of Woodlands, alighting passengers who turned to other modes of transport to reach their destination will have to pay for their fare in Singapore dollars. For those who travel to the republic by express bus, the problem does not arise.

KTMB president Dr Aminuddin Adnan told the New Sunday Times that there are no plans to stop all seven trips to Woodlands despite the losses. “It is too early to conclude the whole picture. We will wait and see before planning the next course of action.Our customers are basically from the middle-income bracket. We believe those who have abandoned our service are those who do not want any inconvenience throughout their journey, especially when they reach Singapore.”

The Tanjong Pagar station became part of KTMB’s history following the departure of the last train piloted by the Sultan of Johor at 11.03pm on June 30.

Dr Aminuddin said KTMB is trying to offset the losses by capitalising on the Johor Baru market. It plans to introduce an additional train service from Tumpat to Johor Baru from next January.

Called the Malayan Tiger, the 14-coach service is believed to be an impetus for the tourism industry in Johor in view that more tourism products are coming up in Iskandar Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Dr Aminuddin said the stripping of the 23km railway track from Tanjong Pagar to Woodlands had been completed.  He said the track weighed a total of about 2,500 tonnes, of which about 70 per cent had been transported back to Malaysia.

The rest, which was still being placed at a temporary storage area in Kranji, will be sent back to the country by the middle of next month.

“We are now demolishing all the locomotive shades and depots and we hope to complete the work by December 22,” he added.

It was reported that part of the track would be showcased in KTMB museums as a historical exhibit while others would be kept for future use on KTMB tracks throughout the country. The first museum to display part of the track is the former Johor Baru railway station, which will be turned into a museum soon.

Deng Xiaoping: The Man Who Took Modernity To China


October 3o, 2011

http://www.nytimes.com

Deng Xiaoping: The Man Who Took Modernity To China

by David Barboza (10-21-11)

In 1979, just when Americans were beginning to reflect on the ascent of Japan, the Harvard sociologist Ezra F. Vogel (right) wrote his best-selling book, “Japan as Number One: Lessons for America.”

Now 81 and retired from Harvard as a professor emeritus, Mr. Vogel has written an equally compelling study of the rise of another Asian superpower. In “Deng Xiaoping and the Transformation of China,” he chronicles the life of China’s paramount leader during the 1980s and ’90s and his determined push to open up and modernize the world’s most populated country.

“My book ‘Japan as Number One’ played a role in educating Americans about Japan,” Mr. Vogel said during a recent interview at his home here, a few hundred yards from the Harvard campus. “With this book, I thought I could write something new that would educate Americans about China.”

The book, published last month by Harvard University Press, has already been called a monumental biography of Deng and the most comprehensive survey to date of China’s spectacular but rocky road to economic reform.

Some reviews, however, have accused Mr. Vogel of devoting too little space to Deng’s iron-fisted rule, including his 1989 decision to allow the military to use deadly force against demonstrators in Tiananmen Square.

But other scholars say that Mr. Vogel’s new volume offers a deeply textured portrait of Deng and the reforms he championed. “It’s a major accomplishment,” said David Shambaugh, a leading China scholar who teaches at George Washington University. “This book pushes our knowledge of Deng further. And while much of this information is not necessarily new, this is the first time we’ve seen it all in one place, analyzed with scholarly detachment.”

Deng, of course, was one of the giant political figures of the 20th century and has been credited with setting China on a path that helped lift hundreds of millions out of poverty while reshaping global trade patterns. But only a handful of biographies have been written about the man, among them Richard Evans’s 1993 “Deng Xiaoping and the Making of Modern China.”

Historians have largely focused on Mao, the revolutionary commander-philosopher who led the Communist takeover in 1949. But scholars have begun to conclude that it was Deng (1904-97), Mao’s diminutive and long-suffering lieutenant, who deserves credit for truly reshaping China after Mao’s death.

Few scholars were better positioned to write a biography of Deng than Mr. Vogel, who retired from teaching in 2000. For decades Mr. Vogel had studied China, Japan and the other dragons of East Asia. He traveled to Guangdong Province in southern China in 1987 and 1988, when China began opening its special economic zones to foreigners, to study the reforms.

He had also covered some of this material in his groundbreaking 1969 book, “Canton Under Communism,” a study of Guangdong’s capital in the time after the Communist takeover.

Mr. Vogel, who worked for a decade on this huge biography, spent a year brushing up on his Chinese-language skills with a tutor. (Most of his interviews were conducted in Chinese without an interpreter.) He talked to people close to Deng, including two of his daughters, as well as relatives and aides of Communist leaders like Chen Yun, Hu Yaobang and Zhao Ziyang, who had worked with Deng. He also talked to former Chinese President Jiang Zemin, who rarely grants interviews.

Mr. Vogel visited Deng’s birthplace in Sichuan Province, as well as remote Jiangxi Province, where Deng was exiled during the Cultural Revolution; consulted all of Deng’s official writings; and was given access to newly released documents from United States and Russian archives.

Mr. Vogel compresses the first 65 years of Deng’s life into 30 pages, offering a sweeping overview of his journey from being the son of a small landlord in Sichuan to his transformation into a Communist revolutionary living in France and Russia, and then on to his role as military commander and, later, Mao’s vice premier.

Deng loosened state controls over the lives of ordinary people, opened the door for Chinese to study overseas and, Mr. Vogel explains, he retreated from Maoist doctrine and Communism without ever really saying so. He lured foreign investors to China and tapped outside expertise to jump-start a largely moribund economy, setting the stage for China’s three-decade-long economic boom.

Much of this happened, Mr. Vogel explains in minute detail, despite stiff opposition from Communist Party elders, some of whom feared the reforms were too aggressive, and others who viewed them as bourgeois liberalization.

Mr. Vogel also writes about Deng’s darker periods, like his role in the “anti-rightist campaign” during the 1950s, which harshly targeted scientists and intellectuals and set the stage for the Great Leap Forward, which led to mass starvation.

And he makes clear that in June 1989 it was Deng who ordered the military action to end demonstrations in and around Tiananmen Square, a course that led to the deaths of hundreds of people and incited international outrage.

The political scientist Richard Baum, a professor emeritus at University of California, Los Angeles, said the book offered an enormous amount of new material about Deng’s leadership and internal power struggles in China during the ’70s. But he also said that those achievements were mildly diminished by sections that read like “an uncritical paean to Deng’s character.” Other critics have been harsher, saying some passages read as if they came from Communist Party headquarters.

During an interview Mr. Vogel defended his work. “This is unfair, because in some places I’m very critical,” he said, noting: “A lot of Americans’ view of Deng is so colored by Tiananmen Square. They think it was horrible. I have the same view. But it’s the responsibility of a scholar to have an objective view.”

With this book, Mr. Vogel said he tried to put Deng’s life in context, to show him as a survivor, obsessed with social and political stability and economic progress.

“Who in the 20th century had more influence on more people?” he asked. “He took 300 million people out of poverty. They’d been trying to do it in China for 150 years, and they couldn’t. And he did it.”

The result is an exhaustive, 876-page study of Deng’s life that includes his multiple falls from power and his final comeback, when he assumed the top position in 1978; the book offers new details into how Deng pushed aside Mao’s chosen successor, Hua Guofeng.

A version of this article appeared in print on October 22, 2011, on page C1 of the New York edition with the headline: The Man Who Took Modernity To China.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/22/books/the-impact-of-deng-xiaoping-beyond-tiananmen-square.html?pagewanted=1&ref=books

Look East Again? Yes, Follow the Chinese Way of Dealing with Corruption


October 30, 2011

Look East, says Mahathir

Former Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said Malaysia and other Islamic countries should look to other Eastern countries and not the West as a model for their development.

He said he believed he made the right decision in introducing the “Look East” Policy of emulating work ethics and business techniques from Japan and South Korea during his tenure as the prime minister.

“Right now, there are so many problems with Western countries. The problem in the West is that they have borrowed too much and cannot repay. You cannot have that kind of a country as a model.

“If you see countries like (South) Korea, Japan and China in the East … China has US$3.2 trillion in reserves. They are swimming in money. Korea can come up with major products better than that produced by companies in the West.

“Japan, as you know, is a country which lost a war … totally destroyed but as it rebuilt itself, it become the second biggest economy in the world. If you want to copy or learn something, learn from the successful people, not from the failures,” he said during a question-and-answer session at the Third Langkawi Islamic Finance & Economics International Conference (LIFE 3).

The three-day conference, with the theme “Islamic Banking and Finance: Waqaf, Zakat and Sadakah as Community Empowerment and Strategies for the Economic Transformation of the Ummah”, began yesterday.

Dr Mahathir said one could not learn much from the West because it was a total failure. “So, we should continue to look to the East and not to the West. The West is going bankrupt,” he said.

He also said that he was personally against socialism because it would make everyone poor.”For capitalism, it is the way to prosper the country. If we look around, capitalist countries seem to be so rich, that even workers can drive big cars.

“But people can become extremely greedy … wanting more and more money without thinking about the consequences.They borrow and borrow until they cannot pay and they are all bankrupt. Greed will cause this. Today, we are seeing failed countries in the developed world. It is because countries like Greece are so indebted … borrowing more than 200 per cent of their GDP (Gross Domestic Product),” Dr Mahathir added.

- Bernama
/www.malaysiakini.com