Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Are We A Nation of Thieves?

A few hours after I paid my June phone bill online, my land line went dead. It must have been in the wee hours of July 5th, a Saturday. A couple of friends were kind enough to lodge a 100 report on my behalf and I called Hamdan, my Telekom contact in Kuala Kubu Bharu, who said a technical team from Rawang would be sent up to sort out the problem on Sunday. So I had to monitor the Kelana Jaya Stadium Protes Event from a cybercafe in KKB. Sunday came and went. Still no phone service! I called up Hamdan again and he said the Rawang crew had inspected the equipment and everything was working fine. So how come I still had no service? Hamdan went up to take a look and called me with the bad news: "Thieves have stolen a section of the cable near the bridge!" This is the third time this has happened. The first couple of times it took nearly two weeks to get my land line up again - because right after one section of cable was replaced, the same gang struck again and stole another cable section! To make matters worse, the Telekom techies used the wrong type of cable (one that didn't support Streamyx) and so they had to do the job all over again. Each time this sort of breakdown happens, I add another entry to Mahathir's long list of crimes against Malaysians.

Why Mahathir? He's the Bloody Nincompoop who privatized (read, piratized) our essential telephony, electricity, water, and train services by handing them on a silver platter to his Umno cronies who swiftly proceeded to make them even more inefficient - and, in the case of Telekom, the privatization exercise included the creation of a whole slew of private limited Bumi companies owned and operated by former Telekom employees who were given exclusive contracts to supply components, install wiring, and undertake cable replacement. That in itself need not be a problem. However, these crony companies have a very different attitude to service than your typical Chinaman run auto workshop. If your car breaks down in the middle of nowhere, chances are you'll be rescued by a roadside workshop who will tell you in 15 minutes what part needs replacing and then proceed to phone a parts supplier in the nearest town. Within an hour a guy on motorbike will arrive with the required part and within another 30 minutes your car will be on the move again. Now, if only Telekom Malaysia and its associated suppliers had this sort of work ethic!

Instead, the technical team from Rawang that supposedly checked the equipment on Sunday saw that the relay switches were functioning fine and didn't even bother making a test call on the line. Then they would have known it was dead and perhaps would have discovered that a cable section was missing. Instead they turned around and went home, believing their job was done. So on Monday did they get the problem fixed? Of course not! What they did was send a team out to Shah Alam to obtain the replacement cable from their store. That's right, that took an entire day to accomplish. Hopefully, today, they will manage to get the cable replaced and my phone line will be working again. But with Telekom Malaysia on the job, one can never assume anything. Betul TM = Tak Malu. It must be obvious to anyone with half a brain that in Malaysia mono-ethnic companies simply don't work - especially if they're in high-pressure businesses like airlines, commuter train and telco services.

Why is the crime rate so high in Malaysia? Just look at our so-called leaders in the Barisan Nasional. All they have done in the last 25 years is steal from the Rakyat - whether it's Petronas revenues or submarine deals or even Chinese New Year decorations, they grab whatever they can any chance they get. Right after the March 8th election results came in, Umno stste governments began looting their offices of computers, printers, fax machines, even furniture - while furiously shredding whatever evidence might incriminate them. Even their wives quickly stole state money intended for charities. Have the police been around to investigate these Umno wives? Crime has become part of the national culture! Now, no thanks to Najib, murder may become the Malaysian way to cover up corrupt deals and politically embarrassing liaisons. Am I being unfair to prejudge the man? Hey, just read those chubby pink lips!

(Photo courtesy of Tian Chua)