Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Gas Savings Tips That Don't Actually Work

Have you filled up your car lately and cringed to see how much a tank of gas sets you back? The average cost of a gallon of unleaded gas has climbed above $3, with predictions that international unrest may drive prices even higher. We still have to drive to work and/or school, so we look for ways to squeeze more miles out of that pricey tank -- but do those tricks you hear about amount to real savings? Here are six gas saving tips that don't actually work, and ways you can make the most of a gallon.

1. Turning Off the AC
Air conditioning in your home does a number on your electric bill, so it must drain your gas tank too, right? Not so much. Auto testing at Consumer Reports proves that running the AC uses such a nominal amount more in gas, you may as well turn on the AC and be comfortable on a hot day. Rolling down your windows can add drag, zapping your car's efficiency; for best gas mileage, run the fan and keep your windows rolled up.

2. Filling Up When It's Cold Outside
Get your gas in the evening or early morning -- the fuel is cold, and therefore denser. The truth about this myth is that you can barely register a temperature difference, since gas is stored in cool underground tanks, so fill up when you want. There are no savings to be had by waiting until it's cool out.

3. Increasing Tire Pressure
To get the most out of your gallon of gas, you should pump up those tires, some say. While driving on underinflated tires can cost you 3.75% in fuel economy, overinflating tires can be downright dangerous, since it reduces your grip on the road and could cause an accident. Proper tire inflation is important for safety and longevity of your tires, but don't expect any significant gas savings there.

4. Pouring Additives
Where there's a need, there's a product, but that doesn't mean it actually works. Our desire for better fuel economy seems answered by fuel additives and even bolt-on devices -- but they're a complete waste of money according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

5. Changing the Air Filter
Taking care of your car is a good thing: You'll be able to drive it longer, and get the most for your money. Don't expect maintenance like changing the air filter to get you more miles out of the gas tank, though. Consumer Reports tests have shown that with today's computerized cars, clogged air filters don't actually reduce fuel economy. Take care of your car to make it last, but don't look at air filters to reduce your gas expense.

6. Keeping the Engine Running
Starting a car sucks up fuel, some say, so keep the engine idling when possible. That's bad advice: today's fuel-injected vehicles are efficient and don't waste gas during start-ups anymore. In fact, idling can cost you up to half a gallon of gas an hour, so turn off the engine if you're not going anywhere.

The Bottom Line
There are a lot of myths out there when it comes to saving gas. So what does actually help improve your fuel economy? Instead of looking at your car to improve fuel economy, try changing the way you drive. Calm driving on the highway -- not zipping between lanes, tailgating or revving the engine so you quickly get up to speed -- can improve your fuel efficiency a whopping 33%. Remove any excess weight from your car to bump fuel economy another 2%, and drive sixty miles an hour (when the speed limit allows) on the highway for another 23% improvement in fuel efficiency. In the end, best fuel economy comes from a calm and safe driver, something that's a good thing regardless of the price we pay at the pump.

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Friday, March 4, 2011

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tabung Haji, Mara in medical venture

PETALING JAYA: It is understood that Lembaga Tabung Haji and Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) are expected to end up with a total of 45% equity stake in the newly-established Academic Medical Centre Sdn Bhd (AMC) that has a tie-up with world renowned Johns Hopkins Medicine International and Royal College of Surgeons (RCSI) in Ireland to offer courses at the soon to be set up RM2bil Perdana University Graduate School.

Tan Sri Mohan Swami
Tabung Haji is likely to end up with 30% stake while Mara 15% in AMC. The remaining 55% equity will be held jointly by two companies controlled by businessman Tan Sri Dr Mohan Swami (pic). The two companies are Turiya Bhd and Chase Perdana Sdn Bhd.
“The discussions with both Tabung Haji and Mara are still ongoing and we expect a deal to be hammered out by end of this month,'' said a source.
It was announced during Budget 2011 last year that two companies owned by Mohan would partner Johns Hopkins Medicine and RCSI in the RM2bil healthcare project in a public-private partnership. The Government will not take a direct equity interest in this project but it would be represented by its agencies.
“It is the Government's intention to take up to 45% stake in the venture, and it will be via some of its agencies,'' Mohan, who is the executive chairman of AMC told StarBiz. He, however, declined to elaborate further. He is also executive chairman of Turiya and Chase Perdana.

Tabung Haji and Mara will each have a board seat at AMC after the deal is sealed. The current board of AMC comprises Mohan, Datuk Halim@Ahmad Muhamat, Datuk Seri Salleh Tun Said Keruak, and Datuk Dr Jeyaindran. Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is the advisor to the board.
“There is a lot of interest from other government agencies and also from local and foreign investment houses to take up equity stake in AMC. Most of the foreign investment houses that are keen on a stake are US-based. It is really up to the Government to identify which local agency would partner us in the venture,'' he added.

Asked if Turiya and Chase Perdana would reduce its AMC stake further from 55%, Mohan said: “We are not looking at reducing our stake in AMC ... Johns Hopkins is here because of my relationship with it. We have been working on this for a long time. In fact, it took us nearly 1 years to finalise the partnership.''
“This is also the first time a US program (in terms of a medical school) is coming here and naturally there has been a lot of interest in the project from other government agencies and investment houses,'' he added.

A site in Serdang has been identified for the two medical schools to be built, besides a 600-bed teaching hospital and a life science research centre. A joint-venture agreement between the local parties and Johns Hopkins was signed in November.
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine and RSCI will offer programs at the Perdana University and also provide academic expertise for the programs.

“They (Johns Hopkins) are not in this partnership for profit and their arrival and participation cannot be equated in dollars and cents. They are more than a 100 years old in research and development, education and hospital services.
“They will only get consultancy fees for their staff and will be compensated for expenses and their intellectual property. It is not about making money, it is all about a shared vision of improving healthcare globally,'' Mohan said.

Johns Hopkins has already partnered Turiya via a stake in the US-based Amcare Labs International, which provides pathology and laboratory medicine services and operates medical testing facilities. Amcare is an affiliate of Johns Hopkins Medicine International and Johns Hopkins Medical Laboratories.

Mohan said Turiya planned to expand its healthcare business through acquisitions of companies involved in healthcare with emphasis on health services portal, medical and allied health sciences research, global network of laboratory medicine systems and the provision of medical laboratory management services

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Aussie editor says Arab nations can learn from Malaysia, Indonesia

MELBOURE: Arab nations in tumult could learn much from East Asia's giants Indonesia and Malaysia, says The Australian newspaper's foreign editor, Greg Sheridan.

In his highly-respected column Thursday, Sheridan who visited Kuala Lumpur recently, says the collapse of political Islamic moderation, from the Middle East to Pakistan to Turkey, "is profoundly disturbing" but there is one region which is a serious exception Southeast Asia.

"Malaysia is not a perfect democracy. The opposition doesn't get a fair shake from the media. But its elections are clean and several of its state governments are controlled by opposition parties," Sheridan says.
"Above all, both Indonesia and Malaysia are legitimate nations with legitimate governments. If the people don't like their governments, they are more likely to try to change them at the ballot box than by riots."

Sheridan says East Asian regionalism has had a very good effect on these two nations because it has emphasised economic growth, whereas Middle East regionalism has reinforced autocracy and sterile religio-political rhetoric against Israel.
Sheridan has also written about his "long discussion with Malaysia's Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak."
When asked how it was that Malaysia had so comprehensively avoided acts of Islamist terror, Najib, he says, replied: "I like to think it's more than divine intervention. I think it's partly historical and partly it's our policy and our very proactive actions.
"From the historical perspective, the coming of Islam to this part of the world has never been associated with violence. It was always a peaceful conversion to Islam."
"Second, the way we have interpreted Islam, and applied Islam in a very moderate and progressive way. I would even call it an enlightened way.
"Islam is seen here as a religion of peace and understanding and able to relate to other religions. We've been able to put in place policies which allow the peaceful coexistence of other religions in this country."
Saying that Malaysia has substantial oil wealth, like many nations in the Middle East, Sheridan adds Malaysia has not rested on that resource.

It has always pursued an open and diverse economy, and this has become a part of its national identity as well as its economic policy, he says.
Najib, writes Sheridan in the column, says: "I believe that Malaysia, indeed any society, to prosper should be open and should be fully engaged with the global economy."
Sheridan says Malaysia survived the global financial crisis remarkably well.
"Najib offers three reasons for this: a robust and well regulated banking system, an extremely large stimulus package, and a diverse economy such that when manufacturing fell it was compensated by commodities rising."

Sheridan says it it is "a singular good fortune" of Australia that "our Muslim neighbours are two legitimate, practical minded states, focused on economic development in a broadly successful region." - Bernama

Monday, January 31, 2011

when every sen counts


Students at institutions of higher learning are finding it hard to cope with the ever-increasing fees and living costs.

HE HAS been awarded a scholarship that covers his tuition fees at a private university and has earned RM10,000 from a television reality show, but student Mohd Hazli Ali is convinced that it is only with a part-time-job that he can sustain himself and fulfill his family obligations.
He sets aside 25 hours a week teaching Economics, Accounts and Mathematics to secondary school students despite his own hectic schedule of tutorials, lectures and varsity-related activities as an Economics student at an institutionof higher learning in Petaling Jaya.

No idle moment: Farhana Amran, is pursuing a degree in Australia and is currently working at a beauty product outlet in Petaling Jaya, during her summer break.
Earning the top prize from the The Rookie, which is the local equivalent of The Apprentice in the United States, has put him in the limelight but the new-found fame and prize money still aren’t enough in settling all his expenses.
“The living expenses in the Klang Valley can be high,” says the 21-year-old who hails from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. In his case, he also sends back money to his parents. Like Mohd Hazli, juggling studies with work is something that many students may have to bear with especially with the rising cost of education.
The hard reality that confronts both parents and students is that paying for college is becoming increasingly expensive , says International Medical University (IMU) Malaysia provost Dr Mei Ling Young.
“The average inflation is said to be about two to three percent, and educational institutions have to bear in mind the current economic situation,” she adds.
It is difficult to state the increase in percentage among private institutions of higher learning, but an informal survey done by StarEducation reveals that the figure varies between two and five percent.
Very few universities, such as IMU, lock down the fees for their students for a certain period of time so that parents know how much they are paying in total and in advance.
Many institutions increase their fees almost annually, which may serve as a shock to some parents.
“A lot of factors will be at play, such as the currency exchange and the shift in demand for certain courses. I have never seen the trend down with education costs,” says Jan Clohessy, director of advancement group at Monash University Sunway Campus.

School leaver Mohd Ridzuan Roslee, 18, works at an ice-cream kiosk and hopes to save money for his tertiary studies.

Although parents are directly responsible for the financial needs of their children, Clohessy feels that the children, too, should play their part.
“The time has come for a cultural shift. Parents must start saving for their children’s education which should be as integral as paying for a house mortgage ... it should not be left to the last minute,” she says. However, she stresses that parents too, should impress upon their children the need to save.
Knowing your options
Choosing the most suitable educational institution for your children is akin to shopping . One has to explore different shops, shortlist the choices and pay only what you can afford. However, education is very much more costlier and requires prudent consideration.
“Many Malaysian parents are still sending their children overseas. The perception is that a good degree is only available offshore. But I beg to differ,” Clohessy says.
“With so many twinning programmes available, students can obtain a degree from an overseas institution locally.”When deciding on a university or college, Dr Young also advises that parents be thorough in their research.
“Most Malaysians who register at private institutions of higher learning are from the middle-income families. Parents may sell their land or mortgage their houses to put their children through university.
“Parents should make it a point to send their children to an institution they can afford. After all, they have various options considering the large number of colleges and universities in the country.”
Most private education institution owners are full of praise for the National Higher Education Loan Fund Corporation (PTPTN), which has disbursed billions of Ringgit to needy Malaysians pursuing tertiary education.
To apply, candidates must have been enrolled into an accredited course in an institution recognised by the Higher Education Ministry.
And having to repay the loan at a mere one percent is almost as good as a give-away for its recipients.
At your service: First year business and commerce students Julian Wong (right) and Derrick Lee, both 19, serving a customer at an outlet. Both are working part-time during the varsity break.
Finance manager Wong Siew May suggests that parents who lack the funds to put their children through college, should consider dipping into their Employee Provident Fund (EPF) savings.
“It is a good idea to use the EPF savings if the parents are still actively working,” she adds.
Students with excellent achievements, either academic or co-curricular, or both, should apply to the various organisations and corporations that award scholarships. She adds that students should look beyond the ones provided by only educational institutions.
“However, one must always read the fine prints of a scholarship as they normally impose a bond that requires the recipient to work under its terms and conditions for a number of years.
“Ask yourself if you are able to commit to the conditions, otherwise it will be a huge cost if you fail to fulfill by the agreed terms,” said Dr Young.
Some work to earn extra money while there are some who take on a job to keep themselves occupied during their free time.
It does not matter where students choose to work, Clohessy says, as long as they show commitment to their job as employers are looking beyond the academic paper presented to them.
“It is really important for students to work during their vacation as it increases their employability prospects .
“Potential employers want to know whether students will actually get their hands dirty,” she says. What is most crucial, adds Clohessy, is that students must exhibit their willingness to work even if it is in a kitchen of a fast-food restaurant.
“It does not really matter what kind of job they are doing, but they must at least work at it for awhile as it tells a lot about their character.”
Psychology student Grace Wong, 22, who works in marketing events for her university on a part-time basis, agrees that working is a good experience but the focus should be on studies.
Savings a way of life
To keep her expenditure down, Grace sometimes cooks a large pot of soup which she says would be her meal for the day.
She says that food is the biggest expense for students who stay out.
Third year student Shalini Julia John, 21, adds that she sometimes tends to bow to peer pressure which affects her budget.
“Although I try to stick to a tight budget and prefer my outings to be at a mamak restaurant or at regular eateries, there are times when I follow my friends to more expensive places,” says the student from Petaling Jaya.
To have a comfortable meal, Shalini says that she has to keep aside about RM25 for a meal.
The International Studies student tries to reduce her expenses by other means. She does not drive if she needs to travel far.
“For example, if I am going to the city (Kuala Lumpur) from Petaling Jaya, it is more economical to travel by train, ” she says.
Mohd Hazli adds that despite having the scholarship and a part-time job, he rarely eats out simply because it is expensive. Instead, he prefers to cook at home as it “cuts my expenses considerably”. Postgraduate student Lina Toon, 24, says that it was hard to stay on her own after completing her first degree.
“Most of us depend on our parents to finance our studies for the first degree.
“After I obtained my degree, I tried to survive on my own and was almost penniless for a few months. The situation only improved after I had a full time job,” adds Lina, who attends classes after work.
She adds that the biggest portion of her salary goes towards her rental, followed by her car loan payment each month.
Third year medical student Tan Si Han, 22, has a younger sister who has just completed her Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) exam.
Although he has been awarded a Public Services Department scholarship which takes care of his studies, living expenses and even enables him to have an allowance, Si Han has still taken on a part-time job during his study break.
“I don’t want to burden my parents, so I try to look for ways to earn some extra pocket money whenever I can,” he adds.