Tag Archives: inflation

exchanging food for energy (part II)

 It is interesting that Malaysia PM Abdullah Badawi urged participants of the World Economic Forum (WEF) to think again on the shift towards biofuel production (from food production).

 

Maybe he has neglected to look at his own backyard.

 

When 30 years ago, you got to enjoy paddy fields, buffaloes, kampongs, rubber plantations, tin mines, cliffs and forests along the country roads, today, you see nothing but palm oil plantations along the North-South Highway. 

 

On a flight from Singapore to KL, you will marvel at the endless sea of uniform palm greenery below.

 

Back in the 60’s, Malaysia was self-sufficient where rice was concern.  Today, it imports 30% of the staple grain. 

 

The ongoing food shortage is a wake up call.  That is where PM Badawi is coming from in his address to the WEF. 

 

His government has recently decided to encourage rice farming on a massive scale again.  It has identified the East Malaysian state of Sarawak for the purpose, and the state is supportive in providing more land.

 

Sound policy it is.  The next question then, is where the land will come from.  Will biofuel production hectares be converted, or will it involve clearing of more forests yet?

 

*related article here

 

 

saudi arabia’s concerns amidst favorable oil prices

 The way oil price increases, it scares even oil producing nations who stand to gain from it for now.

 

Saudi Arabia says the hikes are not justifiable given that the market has sufficient supplies.  It is calling for a meeting among oil producing nations, consuming nations and oil companies spanning the supply chain, to discuss how to deal with it.

 

The Saudi’s official concern is that spiraling oil prices ‘could affect the world economy’.  I think they are also worried about how the phenomena could backfire against oil rich countries in the long run.

 

Everyone is now driven to research and invest in renewable forms of energy.  Dependency on oil aside, these alternatives also hold promises of cleaner environments.

 

One day they might just make oil obsolete.

bold move

 For a newly sworn-in government, Taiwan’s Kuomintang is very gutsy indeed. 

 

Barely a month into office, it raises fuel price by 13%.  It takes effect today, a week ahead of public anticipation, to beat panic buying and hoarding.

 

The action looks even more unpopular when compared to rival Democratic Progressive Party’s shrewd election manoeuvre of freezing domestic fuel prices last November.

 

But Ma Yong-jeou is only being realistic given soaring crude oil prices. 

 

Fuel is a politically sensitive commodity in many countries, especially in Asia:

 

President Yudhoyono is seriosly weighing the need to reduce subsidies, which eat into Indonesia’s budget, against lessons in history.  Such an action had not only toppled Suharto’s government in 1998, it had also sparked violence and rioting across the nation.

 

Malaysia, too, is preparing the public mentally for eventual subsidy reduction.  For now, it has taken the step in banning Singapore and Thailand vehicles from pumping at stations within 50km of the borders.

 

 

 

the line between civilisation and anarchy

 UN World Food Program executive director Josette Sheeran, in addresing US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, quoted that there are only seven meals between civilisation and potential anarchy. 

 

“At the seventh meal lost, people are reduced to fending for their survival and the survival of their children..”

 

Most of us are blessed enough not to have to verify the truth of this saying.

 

The reality out there is that the current global food crisis has sparked riots in more than 30 countries, and is threatening world peace and stability.

 

Perhaps we can do our bit by not wasting, hoarding or speculating commodity prices for personal gains.