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Friday, September 11, 2009

Samy hits out at Dr M, Utusan


Raja Petra Tidak Bersalah

Bagan Pinang polls: Division wants Isa Samad - Malaysiakini

Teluk Kemang Umno division has unanimously nominated division chief leader Isa Samad as a candidate in the upcoming by-election to be held in the Bagan Pinang state constituency of Negeri Sembilan.

The decision to nominate the former menteri besar was made last night at the division's meeting which was attended by 33 out of 34 committee members.

According to Mohd Faizal Ramli, Barisan Nasional's deputy election director for the Bagan Pinang by-election, no other names were suggested by the committee members.

"In fact, Isa was the sole candidate who was nominated unanimously by the members," said Faizal, who is also Umno's Youth division chief.

He explained that according to the procedures, the decision will later be forwarded to the Umno state and subsequently sent to the federal level.

Previously, state Umno liaison chief Mohamad Hassan was reported as saying that he would accept any candidate who is nominated by the Umno division.

However, the Election Commission has yet to fix the date for the by-election as they will only hold a meeting, in Putrajaya, next Monday.

It is predicted that Isa is the right candidate to break the jinx of eight straight by-election defeats suffered by the ruling coalition at the hands of arch rivals Pakatan Rakyat in the peninsula.

Isa, who has been the menteri besar of Negeri Sembilan from 1982 to 2004, rose rapidly in the Umno political arena but it was short-lived when he was accused of money politics.

That landed him in a six-year suspension by the Umno disciplinary committee but the punishment was shortened to three years.

Isa would have made an early political comeback if he won his bid for the vice-president's post during the recent Umno election.

Umno is prepared

On preparations for the upcoming by-election, Faizal said the party is "ever ready" for a win in the constituency, as it is an Umno stronghold.

"Besides, we have set up an operations centre, which will be in operation anytime," he said.

In this up-coming by elections Umno will, once again, be set to face opposition party PAS since their last face off in the previous general election.

The Islamic party, who is also equally enthusiastic to contest, said it has short-listed three potential names from the party's candidacy, which includes Negeri Sembilan PAS commissioner Zulkefly Mohamad Omar.

The other two names put forward are former state commissioner, Dr Rosli Yaacob, and former state Dewan Ulama chief, Kassim Tahim.

According to a source, most of the 25 division committee members nominated Zulkefly based on the votes gained by Mohd Salleh Man, state PAS commissioner in Penang who won Permatang Pasir's by-election last month.

Bagan Pinang's seat fell vacant following the death of its incumbent BN state rep, Azman Mohamad Noor.

Azman, a first-term state representative, passed away early this month from a blood infection.

The outcome of the by-election however will not jeopardise the BN's control in the state as the coalition controls 20 other seats out of 36 in all. Pakatan controls the remaining 15 - DAP (10), PKR (four) and PAS (one).

In March 2008, Azman defeated PAS' Ramli Ismail by a 2,333-vote majority.

Ex-ISA detainees Mano sues IGP, AG for RM100 mil - Malaysiakini

Former Hindraf ISA detainne M Manoharan today filed a RM100 million defamation suit against the Inspector General of Police and the Attorney-General for alleging that he had terrorism links.

The suit was filed at the Kuala Lumpur High Court this morning and named three publications as defendants as well.

Manoharan, the Kota Alam Shah assemblyperson, was detained under the Internal Security Act on Dec 13, 2007, for playing an active role in Hindraf.

Following the arrest, both IGP Musa Hassan and AG Abdul Gani Patail said that the detained Hindraf leaders - five in all - had ties with the Tamil Tigers movement from Sri Lanka.

Manoharan was released from the ISA detention in March.

PKFZ Timeline

By Hakim Joe

This timeline starts from the moment PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC) released its report until today. First, before we even start, it must be noted that the PwC report is a position review and not a comprehensive evaluation of the PKFZ. That the Transport Minister had limited the scope by restricting the terms of reference, PwC is therefore in no position to formulate an accurate assessment of this debacle.

First and foremost, the pertinent question remains how a 2002 RM1.8 billion project had snowballed to a staggering RM12.5 billion venture, a seven-fold increase over its initial estimation. Financing interest, the inflation rate, raw material price increases and normal costs overruns could not possibly have contributed to it alone. Even extremely poor estimation skills by those involved in the preparation of the project plan could not be solely held responsible for this madness.

Somewhat and somehow, someone (or rather a group of people) has taken advantage of the alleged sloppy management by the owners to greatly benefit financially from it. Someone audacious and influential enough to disregard the consequences and someone who thinks that he (or she) can get away with it. To even contemplate theft on such a massive scale, a lot wheeling and dealing must have been pulled off where the benefactors would have agreed to protect one another, if ever discovered. This was not a simple con job entailing a couple of thousand bucks, nor is it an elaborate scheme involving a few million bucks but a daylight robbery where billions are siphoned off.

The overt players alone are impressive. Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik (former MCA president and Transport Minister) Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy (former MCA VP and Transport Minister), the three former Port Klang Authority (PKA) Chairmen, Tan Sri Ting Chew Peh, Datuk Yap Pian Hon, Datuk Seri Chor Chee Heung (deputy Finance Minister) and the developer cum Barisan Nasional Backbenchers Club Chairman Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing. We must of course not forget the current MCA president, Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat (OTK). If these are the people that are out in the open now, what about those that remained covert? Would you believe it if someone told you that these are the only people involved in the nation’s largest “so-far-revealed” scam?

To OTK, this was the definitive “Sword of Damocles” where it is a case of “die-if-you-do-and-die-if-you-don’t”.

To have a reasonable chance of winning the MCA presidency, OTK had resorted to becoming the devil’s advocate, threatening to reveal the PKFZ scandal and thus hoping to become the new champion of the Chinese in Malaysia.

Well, OTK did eventually win the MCA presidency but if he had thought that his words and deeds were going to be quietly forgotten, he had another think coming. The matter of fact is that the PKFZ issue gained national interest after he brought it up. (Ronnie Liu had spent the last 4 years attempting to nationalize this subject but was perceptibly unsuccessful.) To satisfy the appetite of the public, OTK had commissioned PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC) to conduct a position review with a very limited term of reference, hoping that this restriction would prevent the auditors from coming out with a damning report. Well, he thought wrong (again).

In retrospect, he could have done a Semi-Value “gua tak tahu” or a TDM “I cannot remember” but those lines were purely reserved for entrenched party presidents and not a newly minted one. Bad luck. He could still have quoted OSA (Official Secret Act) when the PwC report was ready but that’s reserved for Umno cadres only. Doubly bad luck. Going into the record books as the shortest ever serving MCA president was never really on his agenda and henceforth the “limited” and “regulated” release of the PwC report to the public.

So, what really did happen? Was the writing already on the wall even then?

The RM3 million dollar PwC report exposed more from its restricted audit results than its limited findings. If a picture paints a thousand words, the “missing” audited sections revealed that this was evidently going to be a cover-up job (after all). Hell, even the header says it all, “The Report is limited in scope”. Would the taxation department accept my company’s audited report that is “limited in scope”? Perhaps OTK erred badly when he presuppose that all readers who took the time to digest the PwC report were incapable of comprehending the financial gibberish as adopted by high-paying accountants and auditors through their usage of grandiloquent financial language. However said, there was no withholding the facts when the PwC report went online. What was not reported was more “obvious” than the items that were reported and the public actually understood the findings of the PwC report. Triply bad luck.

Let’s take a look at the damning PwC report, section 4 to be precise – “Matters for the Attention of the Board”.

      Issue 1 – The proposal to purchase the Land was approved by the Cabinet. However, subsequent development proposals were not tabled to the Cabinet for approval.

      Issue 2 – PKA failed to alert the Cabinet in a timely manner of its inability to finance the Project from its internal funds.

      Issue 3 – The Board did not exercise oversight and governance over the implementation of the Project.

      Issue 4 – Advice of the Attorney General was not sought and certain MOF regulations were not complied with.

      Issue 5 – There could be potential conflicts of interest arising from the involvement of parties who had prior association with either the Land or KDSB.

      Issue 6 – Interest from the MOF soft loan will increase the Project outlay from RM4.947 billion to RM7.453 billion. Unless the MOF soft loan is restructured, total outlay for the Project will increase to RM12.453 billion.

      Issue 7 – PKA could have reduced its funding costs had it complied with MOF’s recommendation to issue government-guaranteed bonds and developed the Project in phases.

      Issue 8 – The Land was acquired at special value which exceeded market value.

      Issue 9 – KDSB may have overcharged PKA for interest by between RM51 million and RM309 million in connection with the purchase of the Land.

      Issue 10 – DA3 was not a ‘fixed sum’ contract and did not stipulate a rate for professional fees claimable by KDSB.

      Issue 11 – PKA incurred claims of RM95.256 million for general preliminary cost not expressly specified in the DA.

      Issue 12 – The final account for DA3 did not include any deduction for value of work not done on three infrastructure components in the Land purchase agreement.

      Issue 13 – The RM1 billion development contract was awarded to KDSB before a project masterplan was completed.

      Issue 14 – PKA may not have received value for money due to its heavy reliance on KDSB as the turnkey developer.

      Issue 15 – Project management and control over the Project was weak.

      Issue 16 – Project status as at 31 December 2008 – only the LIU has been issued with CF; defect liability period has expired and certain defects remain to be rectified.

      Issue 17 – PKA has projected that it will be in a cumulative cash deficit position in 2012 and will not be able to repay the MOF soft loan instalments from that time on.

      Issue 18 – Letters of support issued by MOT could not be construed as a guarantee that PKA would meet its obligations on a full and timely basis.

      Issue 19 – The Project’s actual occupancy of 14% is low and it is not generating sufficient revenue to cover its operating expenses.

      Issue 20 – PKFZSB has incurred losses since its incorporation and has negative shareholder’s fund as at 30 September 2008.

What was not said was that a lot of the Additional Development Works (ADW) contracts between PKA and KDSB were signed under common seal and authenticated by the PKA top management and that the Cabinet’s approval was not obtained. Datin Paduka OC “I-don’t-know-what-is-projected-cashflow” Phang’s signatures would have been on all these contracts. As PwC’s audit scope was not called to scrutinize these ADW contracts, and unless the federal government look into it right now, it will remain a grey area where accountability is missing. But then again, the federal government might not be actively looking for a scapegoat, let alone those responsible for it.

Another point of view revolves around the buzz that these ADW contracts might not have been tabled in either the Parliament or Cabinet, but received formal approval directly from the PM. We are talking about a tidy sum of RM1.2 billion. What does an ADW contract entails anyway? Well, basically it involves additional infrastructure work that will be undertaken by the developer. These are work that was not specified in the original masterplan. However, the amount stated is staggering owing to the fact that the original budget for the entire project only amounted to RM1.8 billion. RM1.2 billion is an additional 66% of total project cost. (There were 2 ADWs and 1 NADW contracts signed between 30 November 2005 and 26 April 2006.) The Transport Minister then was Tan Sri Chan Kong Choy, the PM was Tun Abdullah Badawi and the PKA Chairman was Dato’ Yap Pian Hon. These three ADW contracts were signed under common seal and authenticated by Datin Paduka OC Phang.

The entire PKFZ project reeked of (deliberate or otherwise) mismanagement and manipulation from the onset. First and foremost, the price of the procured land was higher than the market value. KDSB bought the 405 hectare (999.5 acres) land for RM95 million from Pulau Lumut Development Cooperative Bhd in the late 90s. (First parcel of land at RM1.37 psf and the second parcel of land at RM2.98 psf.) They then resold the same plot of land to PKA a few years later for RM1.09 billion (in 2002) thus making a 1147% profit in the process. Coincidentally, the PKFZ project was also conceived in the late 90s, just about the exact time when the land was purchased by KDSB. KDSB henceforth made a paper profit of RM995 million. It was later revealed that the Attorney-General had said that the land could have been acquired for a “public purpose” under the Land Acquisition Act at RM10 psf rather than RM25 psf that PKA paid for. That is a premium of RM654 million (that just went into someone else’s pockets). BTW, the Transport Minister then was Tun Ling Liong Sik, the PM was TDM and the PKA Chairman was Dato’ Dr. Ting Chew Peh.

Additionally, PKA appointed Rashid Asari & Co, a firm on KDSB’s legal panel and not their own, to handle the sale. Rashid is vice-chief of Umno Kapar. The head of Pulau Lumut Development Cooperative Bhd at the time of sale was Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Haji Onn Haji Ismail, who was also the Permanent Chairman of Umno Kapar. Faizal Abdullah (0.8% shareholder of Wijaya Baru) is the deputy CEO of Wijaya, the Kapar Umno Youth Chief and son-in-law of Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Haji Onn Haji Ismail. The present Chairman of Pulau Lumut Development Cooperative Bhd is Dato’ Haji Abd. Rahman Haji Palil, is the division chief of Umno Kapar.

The situation turned almost comical when PKA awarded the entire project back to KDSB (27 February 2003). The former landowner is now the sole turnkey developer of the PKFZ project. Initial development of PKFZ was only limited to 400 acres at a RM585 million budget (Agreement DA1). This would be appended (later) by agreements DA2 (26 May 2003) and DA3 (27 March 2004) that would bring development to the entire 999.5 acres of land at a contract value of RM1.216 billion (QS4 assessment of the cost is only RM1.118 billion, a difference of RM98 million). Total PKFZ project price (2003) is now revised to RM2.306 billion (including interest costs). Coincidentally, Dato’ Seri Abdul Azim Zabidi (former BSN Chairman and Umno Treasurer) joined the Board of KDSB on 18 July 2003.

To finance the development of PKFZ, the Securities Commission approved the issuance of bonds by a bankruptcy remote special purpose vehicle, Special Port Vehicle Bhd (SPV), to acquire the future receivables from the PKA. This resulted in the issuance of RM1.31 billion asset-backed serial bonds on 21 July 2003. (Abdul Azim Zabidi joined the Board on Friday and the issuance held the following Monday.) Great Profile Sdn Bhd (fully owned by Wijaya Baru Global Bhd of which Datuk Seri Tiong is a 70% stakeholder) received RM820.1 million of this amount as full payment for the purchase of the land (which is minus the down payment already made).

Following the signing of the DA2 and DA3 agreements, KDSB (developer) appointed Wijaya Baru Sdn Bhd (affiliated company) as the main subcontractor. On 24 October 2003, PKA appointed JAFZI as the project consultant to carry out the masterplan and assessment studies for a fee of US$210,000. Additionally, Jebel Ali Free Zone International (JAFZI) was also appointed to operate and manage PKFZ for 15 years at a fee of US$12.3 million. The report was submitted to PKA on December 2003 but the Operation & Management agreement was terminated in 2007 owing to irreconcilable differences four years later.

Agreement DA3 was a supplementary agreement to DA1 expanding the scope of work by KDSB from 400 acres to 1000 acres for RM1 billion on deferred payment basis. The actual contract was worth RM1.303 billion (including interest) is payable over 8 years at 7.5% interest per annum.

To facilitate the funding of the development costs, KDSB setup another special purposes company, Transshipment Megahub Bhd (TMB) which in turn issued RM1.095 billion fixed-rate serial bonds and up to RM360 million commercial papers/medium commercial papers/medium term (CP/MTN) notes (to finance the development of the PKFZ) from November 2004 to August 2006.

As part of the DA1 agreement, PKA paid RM100 million in 2004 to KDSB as initial payment for the development of PKFZ with the balance being payable on a deferred basis, stretching up to 2017.

The first of the ADW agreements (ADW1) was signed on 30 November 2005 for additional development works encompassing junction improvements and construction of electrical infrastructure and a business class hotel. To facilitate funding of these additional works, another KDSB company, Valid Ventures Berhad, was utilised to issue bonds worth RM510 million and up to RM85 million CP/MTN (30 March 2006 to 12 December 2008). The total contract value is estimated at RM510.38 million, excluding the variation order. The actual cost is in fact RM677.1 million inclusive of professional fees, variation order and interest accrued on work done. Payments from the PKA is on a deferred basis, amounting to RM150 million per annum from 2007 to 2009, RM120 million in 2010 and the last payment in 2011. The payment comprises interest accrued on balance payable to KDSB at 5% per annum.

The second of the ADW agreements (ADW2) and the NADW agreement was signed on 26 April 2006 for additional development works at the PKFZ, comprising concrete trenching for electric cables, electrical works for 33KV power supply to designated precincts, civil infrastructure works to the main intake station, direct access pad from the project site to Westport and a link road from the site’s main access roads to Westport. To facilitate funding of these additional works, yet another KDSB company, Free Zone Capital Berhad, was established for the purpose of issuing bonds worth RM410 million and up to RM 70 million CP/MTN. The ADW2 was estimated to cost RM335.8 million, excluding the variation order and professional fees. The issuance of CP/MTN up to RM70 million was meant to finance the variation order and the corresponding professional fees for the additional development works. Furthermore, ADW2 also specified that the interest rate is now being raised from 5% per annum to 7.5% per annum.

The total amount raised so far by Special Port Vehicle Bhd (RM1.31 billion), Transshipment Megahub Bhd (RM1.42 billion), Valid Ventures Bhd (RM545 million) and Free Zone Capital Bhd (RM410 million) amounts to RM3.685 billion. Four bond issues, four illegal letters of support (get it?) At this stage (September 2006) the PKFZ project cost had already rose from the original RM1.8 billion (2002) to RM5.495 billion (RM3.685 billion development cost + RM1.01 billion land cost + RM800 million interest cost) and not the RM4.6 billion as reported.

In June 2007, PKA made payments of RM130 million to Special Port Vehicle Bhd and RM230 million to Transshipment Megahub Bhd after obtaining a RM4.632 billion soft loan from the Government (20 years at 4% pa). The first tranche drawdown of RM920 million was made on the same day the soft loan was approved.

In July 2007, JAFZI decided to terminate the 15-year contract to operate and manage the free trade zone effective from July 18, 2007. The Ministry of Transport saw this as an opportunity to apply the blame elsewhere and put out a press release blaming JAFZI for the mismanagement. Can one believe that JAFZI (the company that also manages Port of Kalang at the ultra-successful 11,860 acres Jebel Ali Free Zone at Dubai) could have been capable of the alleged “mismanagement” if PKA had been actively involved in the overall control of PKFZ? JAFZI’s reason for terminating the agreement was that they have a disagreement on how to manage the PKFZ with PKA.

On 6 September 2007, PKA general manager Datin Paduka OC Phang and officials from the Transport Ministry appeared before the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) but PAC chairman Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad was not satisfied with answers pertaining to the project’s financing. PAC investigators revisited PKFZ on 18 October but left with more questions than answers.

On 3 October 2007, PKA appointed QS4 (a consortium of quantity surveyors) to provide consultancy services with regards to the work done in accordance to agreements ADW1, ADW2 and NADW. The professional fees? Another RM5.04 million.

In November 2007, Transport Minister Chan Kong Choy dismisses suggestions that the RM4.6 million government soft loan is a bailout, saying that it would be paid back as the lifespan of the free trade zone is about 50 to 60 years. (The repayment schedule exhibited a time frame from 2010 until 2036, and not the 20-year loan as specified by OTK.)

Then came the Political Tsunami in 2008 and the MCA hierarchy was in dire straits. Chan Kong Choy had earlier stepped down as a candidate for the federal elections stating ill health. Party president Ong Ka Ting declined to be a minister and Umno blamed MCA for the bad election results. From this morass came OTK as the new MCA President who had made a solemn promise to “tell all”.

On 5 May 2008, Datuk Lee Hwa Beng took over as the new PKA chairman from Dato’ Chor Chee Heung and Lim Thean Shiang took over from OC Phang as PKA general manager and executive chairman of PKFZ on 6 June 2008.

Then came the damning PwC report which revealed mismanagement, clandestine deals, conflicts of interest and a total disregard for transparency and accountability for a project which was supposed to cost RM1.845 billion but ended up at RM12.5 billion. From here on, blame was dished out arbitrarily like candies on a Halloween night. It was OTK in the one corner against Tiong on the opposite corner of the ring. A copy of the PwC report was also forwarded to MACC.

Datuk Lee and Mr Lim then proceeded to scrutinize the contracts against work completed and came out with their version of the scandal. They named five parties involved in the conspiracy to defraud PKA and PKFZ. They are (1) KDSB, (2) Datuk Seri Tiong, (3) Datin Paduka OC Phang, (4) BTA Architect and (5) Bernard Tan Seng Swee (consultant for development work).

Amongst the alleged unsubstantiated claims (amounting to RM1.5 billion) include:

  1. Procurement of Performance Bond and insurance Premiums which KDSB was not entitled to claim - RM5,016,000.
  2. Monsoon drain works and water supply works which KDSB was not entitled to claim under DA3 - RM254,850,000.
  3. Over claiming of professional fees based on Public Works Department (JKR) Standard Form of Agreement For Consultancy Services Between Contractor And Consultants For Design & Build Contract - RM76,056,101.08.
  4. Physical Construction of the electrical infrastructure for 33kv system works which had yet to commence - RM55,767,000.
  5. Over claiming for the hotels works - RM24,934,244.14
  6. Variation works claim which KDSB was not entitled to as the procedural requirement under the additional development works (ADW) has not been complied with - RM62,189,000.
  7. Providing 33kv supply to Precinct 2 and 8 and the civil and infrastructure work to Main Intake Station which had yet to be carried out - RM83,000,000.
  8. Cost difference from re-measurement by JUBC Sdn Bhd of the Office Blocks and Light Industries Units - RM93,000,000.
  9. Failure to make contributions to authorities for the basic infrastructure works as required under Land Agreement 1 - RM2,249,742.29

Datin Paduka OC Phang was also reproached for:

  1. Failing to consider PKA's ability to self-finance the purchase of the land and continuing to enter into significant and expensive development contracts with KDSB on November 30, 2005 and April 26, 2006 totaling RM1.055 billion.
  2. Failing to consider that the special value of RM25 psf had included interest, instead of RM25 psf on a deferred basis with further or additional interest of 7.5%.
  3. Refusing to heed the advice of her officers and other professionals, to appoint quantity surveyors for DA3, ADW1 and NADW delaying the appointment of the quantity surveyors and thereafter limiting and restricting their role;
  4. Insisting that Perunding BE Sdn Bhd be appointed as the sole quantity surveyor with the knowledge that the firm had a conflict of interest, having been engaged by KDSB and/or its subcontractor for the same Project;
  5. And, generally, in making unilateral decisions without the approval of the PKA members.

The relationship between OTK and Tiong soured after the latter alleged that he had contributed RM10 million in cash (in 3 separate contributions) to MCA in 2007 via OTK, a fact vehemently refuted by OTK and MCA. MCA treasurer Tan Sri Tee Hock Seng told reporters that MCA had not received any donations from Tiong since he became party treasurer last year. The “free” jet setting life of OTK just went up in smoke.

And then came the allegations by OTK that Datuk Tiong was conspiring with sacked MCA VP Chua Soi Lek to topple him as MCA President and to conceal the PKFZ scandal (or rather to perform damage control on it). It was also alleged that Datuk Tiong was in fact the numero uno taiko of the Hua Kiew Road Gang and that the underworld has already put a price on OTK’s head (which explains why PDRM assigned two UTK bodyguards to protect him). Furthermore, it was alleged that Tiong was bankrolling Chua to the tune of RM100 million “to get things done”.

On 18 August 2009 MACC announced that they will assign a 30 member panel to probe the PKFZ scandal. The PDRM subsequently froze the accounts held by KDSB with funds of roughly RM140 million, pending their own investigations into the scandal. Tiong has been interviewed by MACC investigators twice (at his air-conditioned office as opposed to Teoh’s treatment at MACC offices) since.

On 9 September 2009 the Cabinet sat down to discuss a confidential report of the PKFZ prepared by a government-appointed task force headed by senior Malaysian lawyer Vinayak Pradhan, a report that singled out former Transport Minister Chan Kong Choy; OC Phang, Tiong King Sing and the board directors of the port agency, for not carrying out their duties with adequate care.

Will this confidential report be released to the public? The saga continues.

Footnotes:

  • The real purchase price of the 999.5-acre project land was estimated at RM1.81 billion (inclusive of the 7.5% interest) and not RM1.09 billion.
  • Only the Ministry of Finance is legally authorised to issue Letters of Support.
  • Jabatan Penilaian dan Perkhidmatan Harta, Kementerian Kewangan valued the land at the market values of RM17 psf (November 1998) and RM18 psf (May 2000) with access road and infrastructure. (RM13.50 without access road and infrastructure.)
  • Agreement DA3 specified a RM1.303 billion project (including interest at 7.5%) but has ballooned to RM1.85 billion. KDSB claimed professional fees of RM121.592 million, an item not specified in the DA3 agreement.
  • PKA’s cash flow projections show that PKFZ is expected to be in cash deficit from 2012 and will not be in the black again until 2042. This projection was prepared by PKA and PKFZ on the assumption that PKFZ will achieve full tenancy by 2018. PwC did not perform an audit on it because it was not included in the specified terms of reference.
  • Both Tiong and Chua denied the conspiracy allegations made by OTK.
  • Under the government’s general orders, a civil servant is not allowed the use of the jets.
  • While the PwC report and subsequent findings by the new PKA management named many individuals, none has been charged with a crime so far.
  • So far, the PM and DPM have not publicly given their support to OTK. Datuk Tiong is rumoured to be “close” to the PM.

Inquest put off, MACC makes second try for review

By Debra Chong - The Malaysian Insider

Abdul Razak filed for an appeal against yesterday’s High Court decision to allow Sivanesan’s testimony. — Picture by Choo Choy May

SHAH ALAM, Sept 11 — The inquest into the death of DAP political aide Teoh Beng Hock was postponed today to Thursday.

Magistrate Azmil Muntapha Abas, who is acting as coroner, called for an adjournment to enable the police to supply a medical report and photographs recording the injuries of a new key witness in Teoh’s inquest.

The lawyer for Teoh’s family, Gobind Singh Deo, had two days ago introduced Sivanesan Tanggavelu as a witness to prove that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers who had been called to testify earlier were lying when they denied torturing people during interrogation.

Famed Thai pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand, who was supposed to testify as an expert witness on Monday, will now attend the inquest only after the Aidilfitri holidays, Gobind told reporters after the inquest.

Teoh’s family and his employer, the Selangor state government, believe foul play was involved and that the political secretary had been assaulted by Selangor graft busters before he fell to his death on July 16.

MACC lawyer, Datuk Abdul Razak Musa, also told the coroner’s court this morning that he had filed an appeal to review and revise magistrate Azmil Muntapha Abas’ decision to admit Sivanesan as a witness with the Court of Appeal in Putrajaya.

The national anti-graft body had tried and failed to get the high court to remove Sivanesan’s testimony and police report alleging torture from the court records.

High Court judge Yeoh Wee Siam noted that the magistrate’s ruling was not “illegal, incorrect or improper” and threw out the MACC’s bid.

She also rejected its request to stay the inquest. Instead, she ordered it to continue immediately.

Abdul Razak tried to hold off the inquest from carrying on with cross-examining the witness today. He asked Azmil to stay the proceedings pending the result of their appeal to be heard. Gobind objected.

However, the inquest has been effectively postponed to enable the police to get the documents for the court.

Abdul Razak told reporters later that he hopes to hear from the appeals court by early next week whether it will hear their second bid to review and revise the magistrate’s ruling.

Dr M shakes up MIC polls

By Baradan Kuppusamy - The Malaysian Insider

Mahathir (right) has thrown his support behind Subramaniam, in an obvious slight against Samy Vellu. — file pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 11 — Like an electric shock, a great shudder is coursing through the MIC after former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad waded into the party election campaign by attacking his one-time supporter and urging delegates to elect good, clean leaders like challenger Datuk S. Subramaniam.

Dr Mahathir said delegates should remove Samy Vellu, who was “elected” unopposed for an 11th term as president in March.

His remarks in an interview — published in Subramaniam’s Makkal Osai yesterday, with a second installment on the front page today, and possibly a third and final installment on polling day tomorrow — are the talk of the MIC.

“Everyone is asking what would be the impact of Tun’s stand against Samy Vellu? Will delegates heed Tun’s call to make changes?” said former Petronas senior manager and veteran MIC-man S. Masilamani.

“There is great expectation,” he told The Malaysian Insider at a major gathering of Subramaniam supporters in Klang last night. “The shock effect of the statement is absolutely staggering.”

Dr Mahathir said in the interview that the Indian community voted for the opposition in the 2008 general election because of their anger towards Samy Vellu.

“He (Samy Vellu) has been too long in the party and had never allowed any leader to grow…he was always focused on exacting revenge against his opponents,” the paper quoted Dr Mahathir as saying yesterday.

“If the Indian community wants to progress and go forward they should remove Samy Vellu,” Dr Mahathir said.

Makkal Osai went to town with the second installment today on the front page with the headline “Samy Destroyed Legitimate Leaders, says Tun Mahathir” along with a photograph of Dr Mahathir holding a Makkal Osai newspaper.

Mahathir also referred to a now-famous statement by Samy Vellu in 2008 where he says Dr Mahathir “did nothing” for the Indian community after the former PM said Samy Vellu never asked “anything” for the community.

“How cheap and desperate can a man be?” Samy Vellu said reacting to the report.

“Subramaniam is so desperate that he had to seek the mandate from Dr Mahathir to win in the party elections. He has brought shame to the MIC members and the party,” he added in a statement.

The impact of Dr Mahathir’s statement on the MIC mindset can be seen in the volatile and vitriolic reaction from Samy Vellu, who issued a long statement yesterday roundly condemning as a traitor, a person who uses Dr Mahathir to attack MIC but then comes to the party to beg for votes.

Samy Vellu labeled Subramaniam “desperate” for seeking help from Mahathir. — file pic

Today his Tamil Nesan newspaper in a front page headline story described his anger against Subramaniam in one just Tamil word, “Vekkakedu” (Shame).

Dr Mahathir’s calculated entry against Samy Vellu has significantly shaken the president’s camp, with some key leaders keeping a distance from his counter attack.

While Samy Vellu lambasted Dr Mahathir and Subramaniam, others including his deputy president candidate Datuk G. Palanivel and all three vice-presidential candidates — Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam, Datuk SK Devamany and Datuk S. Sothinathan — all distanced themselves from Samy Vellu.

“He is like a lone giant in his final death throes,” an MIC insider said. “Mahathir’s statement tells delegates that official support for Samy Vellu is long gone.”

“We know the government has told him to pack up and leave but he is refusing… so from now on the delegates know push will come to shove,” the delegate said.

“But it would be a slow process to force him out because of the way he has manipulated the party to serve his interest,” the insider said.

MIC insiders said Dr Mahathir’s statement, together with internal and outside pressure, is helping to force Samy Vellu to step down.

“Ultimately it is in the hands of the 1,446 delegates to make their wishes known,” said Masilamani. “If they elect Subramaniam on Saturday it would be the clearest signal yet that the party wants Samy Vellu to step down.”

“Considering all the circumstances…I expect a very close tight race,” he said adding that Subramaniam and his team have an edge if the election is free and fair.

What was Hindraf singing during their vigil?

By Malaysian Heart
I believe that if we take the trouble to understand our fellow humans better, we will find that they feel exactly what we feel, and that what they want for their children is exactly what we want for ours. However, we first need to get over our own prejudices and speak (and act) against the subtle (and often not so subtle) racism that our fellow Malaysians still suffer in our midst.
Those of us who have seen the video of Hindraf's candle light vigil on 5/9/09, and the subsequent arrests by our police, would have heard the vigillers singing a song as they tried to get to Dataran Merdeka. For the benefit of those of us who would like to understand what they were singing, and why, here is some info.
The title of the song is Tholvi nilayena ninaithaal, and it is from the 1986 movie Oomai Vizhigal. In the movie, politically connected thugs (who had earlier killed a journalist), destroy the printing press of a newspaper, in order to silence their investigative reporting. This song is what the editor sings to motivate his team after the attack. Here is a translation in English:

If we only dwell on on our defeated condition, how can we even hope of living?
If we consider this life a burden, isn't that trampling upon our mothers' dreams?
Having lost our rights, having lost our belongings, shall we give up our humanity too?
Being human, and still alive, how can we forget our dreams?
When dawn is about to break, why should our hearts be heavy?
When our hearts are full of courage, why should our eyes have tears?
Even if they oppose us, even if they spill our blood, can we ever change our path?
Our blood will only drive our fear away, then can our principles ever die?

Here is the song in full, as sung in the movie by P.B. Srinivas and Abavaanan:
Tholvi nilayena ninaithaal from Oomai Vizhigal
Some people find that anything which is unfamiliar to them makes them uncomfortable; hence they become intolerant towards it.
Read more at: What was Hindraf singing during their vigil?

Umno has failed!

By Hussein Hamid

I am an individual.

The state of affairs now seen on our country leaves us with no other conclusion then that UMNO has failed. It has failed in its effort to justify their demand that we Malaysian should allow them to continue for another fifty years with their tinkering of our democratic values and principals as a trade off to the ongoing development of our country and the yet to be achieved uplifting of the Malay race to be a developed ethnic community. Two remarkable and truly laudable goals — economic development and the rise and rise of the Malays – but arguments that are fundamentally flawed.

The Government insists that the particularity of Malaysian Politics, its multi ethnic divides and its religious enclaves make a need for the ISA to be enforced arbitrarily over its people. It continues to dominate over its people who live defenseless under its shadows. And in all this there is no political accountability in what they do.

I say that the Politics of Barisan Nasional is no longer appropriate for our people, for our country. I say that a multi ethnic, multi party democracy is what we need. We no longer want a trade-off between democracy and development. Between freedoms to demonstrate responsibly as against what the Government perceives as our inability to do so without causing riot and chaos in the streets.

We no longer tolerate domination of the affairs of our country by UMNO. We reject that premise. We say that the failure of the Malays to advance their cause can be linked directly to UMNO. I say that what obstacle that have been put in place to prevent the coming together of the races and to prevent the ability of the opposition to effectively governed in the state that they were elected in are just the mechanism by which UMNO uses to impose political and economic hegemony over its own people. And their repeated accusation that we as nation are not politically mature enough to weather the complexities of multi ethnic politics is wearing a bit thin. It is time that Barisan stop being patronizing us and begins to understand that the country needs to be return to its people. There is no more need to seek for the Malays historical dispensation on the grounds of a colonial legacy that is flawed. The time for that no longer holds credence with the Malays or the others.

The current situation that we are in now is a damming indictment of the failure of UMNO. It has also resulted in confrontation between the Government and its own people in which the state has in some fundamental way been steadily losing.

You must understand that power only comes from the people that allow its leaders to govern them if they so desire. The people have a political role to play not as Chinese, Indian or the others but as autonomous individuals.

The people are matured politically do not want to be patronized. Look at us as individuals rather then as Malays, Indian, Chinese and others.

You can claim your right to rule as decided by the ballot box in the last election – but the people will hold you politically accountable on the premise that the relationship between the constituent and its representative is ultimately that between you and me – the rulers and the ruled on a one to one basis. Your disregard for this premise is at your own peril. Understand also that the structures and instruments of democracy are not yours to abuse in pursuit of your own vested interest.

We no longer accept your interpretation of your desired ‘ideal polity’ to serve your own purpose. We demand a change to a higher and morally superior political order. Do not use the flawed multi partyism of Barisan as a weapon to subjugate Pakatan because you know that Barisan in itself is not a shining example of a liberal democratic order. We know that what you practice bear no relation to the political reality you profess to champion – Democracy. May you have the intelligence to understand that for UMNO the beginning of the end started at the last General election and will run its course by the time of the next. Amen.

Injecting Reason Back Into Indonesia-Malaysia Relations

By Farish A. Noor

It would appear as if Reason and Rationality have gone on holiday in Southeast Asia recently: In Malaysia a group of angry residents who wished to protest against the construction of a Hindu temple in their neighborhood decided to demonstrate their anger by marching to the government offices in Selangor with a severed cow’s head, a gesture that was guaranteed to offend the sensibility of pious Hindus who regard the cow as a sacred animal. In Indonesia a misunderstanding over a tourism ad commissioned from a non-Malaysian company has angered scores of Indonesians, simply because it mistakenly featured a scene from a Balinese pendet dance which the Indonesians regard as being exclusively theirs: The net result being a new round of anti-Malaysian protests leading to local vigilante groups harrassing tourists in Jakarta and going out into the streets to ’sweep’ the country of Malaysians.

In both Malaysia and Indonesia, tempers seem to be rising out of control and for all the wrong reasons. Making matters worse is the fact that in both countries these mob actions are neither accidental nor unavoidable. Mobs do not form themselves and move into the streets for no reason; vigilante groups do not miraculously form themselves out of this air without funding and political support.

And so we need to ask the question: How and why is it that in the year 2009, more than half a century after the independence of both countries, is the state of politics and society in both Malaysia and Indonesia still rooted in primordial essentialisms and sentiments that are based on intuition and emotionalism, rather than reason?

To be sure, mob actions such as what we have seen in Malaysia and Indonesia today are not new to Southeast Asia. We often forget that Southeast Asia has historically been one of the most violent parts of the world and that since the 1950s there have been a succession of orchestrated and engineered campaigns of mob violence. In Indonesia the anti-Communist campaign of the mid-1960s led to the slaughter of hundreds of thousands, and the campaign against Malaysia (then Malaya) known as the Konfrontasi was likewise a bloody affair. Malaysia too has experienced campaigns of demonisation and violence, including the sustained campaign to demonise the so-called ‘Communist threat’ in the 1960s to the racial violence of May 1969.

In all these cases we can see that mob violence and public anger are never accidental or arbitrary. There were, and are, clearly defined and identifiable actors and agents involved, including politicians, political parties, NGOs, lobby groups and the media. Also in many of these cases we see the unhealthy and dangerous collusion between right-wing ethno-nationalist forces and the instruments of the state, leading to a marriage of convenience made in hell which results in pogroms, mass killings and victimisation on a horrific scale.

What was missing in all these instances was Reason and rational debate: Ethnic and religious conflicts can only be resolved when communities respectfully engage with each other; and in instances where there can be no resolution, then take the rational path of accepting that they simply have to learn to live with differences. Likewise misunderstandings over issues like cultural appropriation and misappropriation can only be resolved when we take a rational approach to culture and history, and to reasonably accept that all cultures are composite complex entities that cannot be monopolised and copyrighted by any community. For Indonesians to claim batik as being exclusively Indonesian, for instance, is both historically and logically wrong – for batik was produced all over Southeast Asia and up to China, India, Africa and even Europe. To claim that one country has the right to patent something as universal as batik is as absurd as to claim that the United States of America has the right to patent all cars since they were the first to mass-produce them!

But reason and rational discourse can only be re-injected back into the current Malaysian-Indonesian debate if we allow it to. This entails some degree of responsibility on the part of Malaysian and Indonesian politicians, who are morally and politically obliged to restore order in their own societies. The Malaysian authorities should never have allowed the protesters against the Hindu temple to march with a cow’s head in the first place; and the Malaysian authorities likewise have an obligation to ensure that Indonesian workers – like all foreign workers – are protected while working in Indonesia.

The Indonesian government likewise has an obligation to stop the spread and escalation of the anti-Malaysian demonstrations that seem to be led by mainly right-wing hoodlums and thugs who hide behind the mask of patriotism and nationalism, while in reality are no different from the preman gangs who have terrorised the Indonesian public for decades.

Reason and rational debate only work in softer climes where the voices of reason can be heard. Thus far, neither the Malaysian nor Indonesian governments have done anything effective to restore some degree of sanity to the debate. Standing idly by and passively allowing things to get out of hand means that both governments are negatively responsible for what might follow. And if this latest round of Malaysian-Indonesian misunderstanding escalates further to hysteria and violence, both governments will have to be held into account, like firemen who stood by and did nothing while the building before them was burnt down to ashes.

Samy slams Subra again

The Star, Sep 11 2009
KUALA LUMPUR: MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu has levelled another accusation against his former deputy Datuk S. Subramaniam, saying the challenger for the MIC deputy presidency had disgraced the party by seeking the endorsement of former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.


He said Subramaniam’s move to seek the help of Dr Mahathir in his bid to win the post was a “desperate act”, adding that this had incurred the wrath of many branch and division leaders.

“How cheap and desperate can a man be?” he asked, referring to a report in the Tamil daily Makkal Osai which quoted Dr Mahathir as saying that MIC delegates should vote for Subramaniam.

“It appears that Subramaniam has lost his support in the MIC and has to seek outside help to prop up his support among the delegates. He has lost whatever credibility that was left in him,” he added in a statement.

Samy Vellu said that he was extremely angry and sad that Subramaniam had allowed an outsider to meddle in the party’s affairs.

*************

Teagarajan banking on members' loyalty

2009/09/11, NST

KUALA LUMPUR: "Great men will tell you where to go, greater men will take you there. Vote for vice-presidential candidate Datuk V.K.K. Teagarajan."

This is the SMS sent by the former Federal Territory party chief to the nearly 1,500 delegates to the MIC elections on Saturday.

It is part of a campaign strategy by the prominent businessman in the community tailored to tell delegates that he meant business in the fight for one of the three vice-presidencies.

He is banking on his years of experience in the Malaysian Indian Chamber of Commerce to uplift the economic status of members and Indians in general.


"I've submitted many business proposals before but they have fallen on idle ground.

"I need this vice-president's platform to implement these ideas," said the former ally of party chief, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, who broke ranks with the party supremo several years ago.

"I want to bring my business talent into the party. Otherwise, my 30 years in the Indian Chambers of Commerce would be wasted.

"Without this platform, I cannot do much," added Teagarajan who has been seen as being a supporter of Datuk S. Subramaniam, Samy Vellu's arch-rival.

On speculation by party insiders that he did not stand much of a chance at snatching victory from the six other contenders who include party heavyweights, Teagarajan said he had cultivated numerous contacts in the party in his three decades of being a member.

"In the 30 years of Samy Vellu's rule, I have cultivated deep loyalty among members," said the former party information chief.

Teagarajan said the "one-man-show" (referring to Samy Vellu) must be removed forever so that a team could run the party.

"There are winds of change in the party now. We have to work as a team to rebuild the party."

He said he was not going after the post to make money as "I have already made my money as a businesman".


"I just want to leave my legacy behind by contributing to the community," said Teagarajan who contested for a vice-presidency in 2006, coming out fourth with 468 votes.

He admitted that many were still sore with him for pulling out of the race for a vice-presidency in 2003 after being "coaxed" by Samy Vellu who gave him the information chief's post after that.

"Many have not forgiven or forgotten me when I backed out in 2003. I hope things will be different this time around," he added.

Teagarajan, who is contesting against a minister and two deputy ministers, said although he respected them, he thought they would be too bogged down with their work and responsibilities to be burdened with party work.

"They have their hands full. Why would anyone want to be overloaded with more work? They should give a chance to others to contribute to the party."

Sothinathan stakes all in contest for No. 2 post

2009/09/11, NST

PORT DICKSON: Datuk S. Sothinathan may be putting his political career on the line in taking on incumbent Datuk G. Palanivel and veteran leader Datuk S. Subramaniam for the MIC deputy presidency tomorrow.

The former Natural Resources and Environment deputy minister said he was going for broke and that a loss would mean that he would no longer have a position in the party.

"I am not going for any other post in the elections except that of deputy president. I am putting everything at stake in this race," said the 49-year-old incumbent vice-president who won the post in 2006.

Sothinathan is taking on heavyweights in both Palanivel who has party chief Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu's blessings and Subramaniam, who was deputy president for 27 years until 2006.

I am not going for any other post in the elections except that of deputy president. I am putting everything at stake in this race. You have to be courageous and have the confidence in order to lead. — Datuk S. Sothinathan
I am not going for any other post in the elections except that of deputy president. I am putting everything at stake in this race. You have to be courageous and have the confidence in order to lead. — Datuk S. Sothinathan


The University Malaya first-class honours graduate in business administration who became an MIC member in 1981, burst into national prominence when he stood as a candidate in the 2000 Teluk Kemang parliamentary by-election. This came about after the death of parliamentary secretary to the health ministry, S.A. Anpalagan, who died of kidney failure.

He defended the seat in the 2004 general election but lost last year when MIC members of parliament, including party president Samy Vellu, fell like tenpins in the face of an opposition assault.

Sothinathan, who was given a hand up the ladder in the party by the party chief but who fell afoul of him by challenging Palanivel, rose over the years to become secretary-general.

Though a lightweight in the deputy presidential race, he relishes the tag of underdog.

"As an underdog I relish the position," said the erstwhile Samy Vellu ally, adding that despite this, he felt confident of victory at the party polls.

He said having been placed in charge of the party's re-branding exercise last year after the disasterous general election outing had enabled him to make inroads with the grassroots.

"I have done this in the course of seminars for grassroots party leaders. As such, I believe that the grassroots understand me well and will support my bid for the party number two post."

Sothinathan, who was once a political secretary to Samy Vellu, said that being an "independent" candidate this time around did not pose problems for him.

"You have to be courageous and have the confidence in order to lead," he said when met at his service centre office here.


Sothinathan believes he has the credentials for the deputy presidency which usually leads to the presidency as he had the requisite experience, qualifications and ability to speak out for the community.

"We are talking about a new leadership. To remain relevant, society looks for young leadership. Given my advantage in those areas and my experience, I am sure these will be advantageous for me."

Friday September 11, 2009, The Star

Everything in place for MIC polls


KUALA LUMPUR: Ballot papers to be used for the MIC polls tomorrow will have security markings to prevent fraud, election committee chairman Datuk K. Vijayanathan said.

“I will explain the markings to the delegates before the start of voting,” he told The Star.

The markings will ensure no duplication of the ballot papers.

Vijayanathan said everything was in place to ensure a fair, transparent and smooth election.

“I don’t think any of the 71 candidates contesting for the various posts should be unduly worried. Everything will be transparent,” he said.

Vijayanathan added that delegates would be barred from taking their handphones along when they went to cast their votes.

“This is to ensure that no one tries to photograph their ballot papers,” he said.

Incumbent Datuk G. Palanivel is facing a three-way fight for the deputy presidency against former deputy president Datuk S. Subramaniam and vice-president Datuk S. Sothinathan.

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Friday September 11, 2009

Mahathir spoke his mind, says Subra


KLANG: Datuk S. Subramaniam said Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s endorsement of him as the deputy president of the MIC was a “fair comment” by the former Prime Minister.

“We can’t suppress a fair comment and I feel Dr Mahathir is just being fair as he spoke his mind without fear or favour.

“I did not orchestrate the news and it was the newspaper that had come out with the report,” he said.

He was commenting on a front-page report of Makkal Osai yesterday which quoted Dr Mahathir as taking a swipe at MIC president S. Samy Vellu for being “too long” in the party.

Speaking to reporters after meeting about 900 supporters and delegates at the Lourdes Hall at Jalan Tengku Kelana here, Subramaniam said Samy Vellu could not accept it that Dr Mahathir had supported him.

The former MIC deputy president said the Indians should heed Dr Mahathir’s calls for them to progress by removing the party president.

“For the Indian community to progress, we must bring a change in MIC,” he said.

Samy Vellu: I have hydrogen bomb

No Islamic prohibition against temple

By Ding Jo-Ann
thenutgraph.com

PARTICIPANTS of the 28 Aug 2009 cow-head protest claim that a Hindu temple cannot be built in a Muslim-majority area as this would affect the way they function as Muslims. Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim was even labelled a "traitor to the Malay race and Islam" because of the state government's proposal to relocate the temple to Section 23 in Shah Alam.

The question that is yet to be answered, however, is whether it is actually un-Islamic for a temple, and by extension any other house of worship, to be built among Muslims.


Anwar Fazal
The Nut Graph interviewed by e-mail Penang-based Datuk Dr Anwar Fazal, chairperson of the Malaysian Interfaith Network (MIN), on whether Islam prohibits its ummah from living in close proximity with the houses of worship of other faiths.

MIN was set up in 2002 to promote dialogue between the different faith organisations in Malaysia and to foster better understanding of common concerns and values.

TNG: Some residents say that because of the Muslim-majority nature of their neighbourhood, the temple should not be relocated to their area. To the best of your knowledge, does Islam discourage Muslims to live in areas where there are places of worship of other faiths?

Anwar Fazal: There is nothing in the religion of Islam towards that effect. The greatness of Islam has been a glorious history of interfaith accommodation and models of living together in peace, harmony, compassion and justice. My hope and prayer is for Malaysia to continue as a beacon of that spirit.

Do you agree that since there is a Muslim majority in that area (Section 23, Shah Alam), then the temple should not be relocated there?

Certainly not.

As with any development, be it a supermarket, petrol station or religious institution, a careful, sensitive and systemic assessment of the environmental and social impact should be taken. Clear guidelines and processes are needed as set out in Local Agenda 21 (which focuses on achieving balanced and sustainable development). We also need constructive methods for listening to and addressing contentious issues, with avenues for fair adjudication and resolution in the event of differing views and interests.

There should be zero tolerance for slurs, bigotry and racism. Also, civility should be the norm, and gangsterism and thuggish behaviour frowned upon!

Personally, as a Muslim, would you be offended if a temple or church was built in your area of residence?

Certainly not. Where I live, there is a church, Buddhist temple and Hindu temple within a 400m radius.

Throughout the year, Chinese festivals are held with the usual stage performances, music and songs. Everyone also hears the beautiful breeze-like azan, five times a day from one, and sometimes, two mosques. Sometimes, we can hear the morning siren call when parades are held at a government establishment nearby.

The beautiful intermingling of the diverse sounds of community life makes for such a beautiful reminder of what make this place on earth so special.

The Street of Harmony in Penang has a church, Buddhist temple, Indian Muslim mosque, Malay mosque and Hindu temple all in the same place. As a resident of Penang, have there been any problems with all these different places of worship being so close together?

I have never encountered any such problems. I grew up in that very area; we had a family business there. We used to play in the courtyard of the Teo Chew clan house, which has a whole row of Muslim Endowment Board Flats overlooking it.

The area has been given the rare distinction of being a Unesco world heritage site for its intercultural and multicultural character. It is a beacon of universal values that Islam and all the religions in this country can be proud of.

In fact, I had the pleasure of taking the former President of India, Dr APJ Kalam, a Muslim and world-renowned scientist, to visit the Street of Harmony. Dr Kalam told the people that this was a wonderful place where there is unity of hearts and minds, and a "school of learning" for the whole world. He visited every major religious institution there and made a speech on peace and compassion at each of them.

He also shared the St Francis of Assisi prayer for peace when he visited St George's Church.


Sri Mariammann Temple, Guan Imm Teng and Acheen Street mosque in Penang
(Pics courtesy of IGeorgetown Penang)

What role can the Malaysian Interfaith Network play in this situation? What needs to happen before a workable solution can be reached?

The Malaysian Interfaith Network is working to build understanding and trust in a small way, hoping to inspire more beacons of hope, compassion and universal values in a world that is so wrecked by violence, hate, bigotry and racism.

We hope more and more people will set up like-minded goodwill groups to promote universal values particularly, the Golden Rule — "Treat others as you would like to be treated". We need to be more proactive about this if we are to have a happy and just future.

Ultimately, however, there must be clear and strong leadership to set up constructive mechanisms for dialogue, reconciliation and resolution. The issues and tensions on inter-religious issues have dragged on for too long. This perhaps emboldens the ignorant, the vicious and the violent.

Our hope is that the new leadership and the "1Malaysia" spirit can take a strong quantum leap forward and that the institution of royalty, which serves as our symbol of national unity, can be assertive about this dire need.

What steps should be taken by Muslims who may not agree with the actions of the cow-head protesters to make their views known?

Speak out at every opportunity that slurring, condemning and insulting other religions and animals is not in accordance with the true teachings of Islam.

And don't forget to vote for those who truly support the tenets of peace, justice and compassion, which are the core of the Islamic faith.

Demolition of shophouses along Magazine Road - Anil Netto

Photos by Penang Media

The Penang Heritage Trust has come up with the following statement on the demolition of several shop-houses in George Town.

The PHT regrets the initial demolition by the state government of the traditional shop-houses along Magazine Road which is part of the historic ‘Sia Boey’ enclave.

We had earlier inspected the buildings and spoken to the residents of the area on their invitation. While these buildings are not situated strictly within the heritage enclave (which is bordered by the Prangin Canal), they nevertheless form part of the established communities living and providing services in the inner city.

PHT is very concerned with the rapid depopulation of many precincts in the city which may lead to a completely new population taking over and changing the traditional cultural life of the city. This is a concern that conservation experts in Unesco would definitely share.

We have alerted the YB Chow and appealed to him to consider integrating these buildings and their residents in their proposal to make the Sia Boey area into a public park. There is no reason why these attractive buildings cannot be restored and upgraded and the traditional businesses allowed to carry on in the vicinity of a public park.

PHT has also been working with like-minded group like CHAT (Cultural Heritage Advisory Team) over this issue and several Aduns have also been alerted. We are happy to note that the PDC (the landlords) have finally decided to put this action on hold pending further discussions and investigations ‘unless they become a threat to public safety’.

We hope to convene a meeting with the local authorities and PDC soon future, to discuss a possible development plan that would include revitalising the Prangin Canal area as a recreational public space while integrating the buildings and communities along Magazine Road .

THE LESSON FROM JAPAN

1. The Liberal Democratic Party of Japan which had ruled the country since World War II has been trounced by the Democratic Party of Japan in the recent election.

2. This follows the trend which many political parties which had struggled and achieved independence had undergone. The Mashumi Party of Indonesia, the Muslim League of Pakistan, the parties which wrested independence for numerous African countries have all but disappeared.

3. It seems as if the people no longer cared for the struggles and the sacrifices that had been made by those parties and their leaders. It seems as if the beneficiaries of these struggles do not know how to be grateful.

4. But is it true that they are ungrateful? There is some truth but if we care to examine we will find that the independence fighters, and their successors, the builders of the countries after independence have changed almost completely.

5. They have almost all become greedy and arrogant. They no longer care for the country or the people.They are almost invariably preoccupied with their status and their selfish needs. They have lost touch with their followers or the descendants of their followers. The spirit which had moved their founders seem no longer to be there.

6. Will UMNO and the BN - the successors of the Alliance which had wrested independence for Malaysia escape the fate that had befallen all these pioneer parties? From present showing it is likely that they would share the same fate.

7. That the rot has set in there can be no doubt. Corruption is now rampant in UMNO and the other component parties. Power struggles have emasculated them. Leaders have a strong desire to stay in office even though they have outlived their usefulness.

8. With such leaders the country and the people have been neglected. In the last decade despite talks of billions of Ringgit being allocated for corridors etc. there is no visible or tangible evidence. There is nothing to show for the 250 billion Ringgit extra that Petronas had paid to the Government.

9. It is strange to find that Malaysia has been outstripped by its neighbours. It is no longer the leading nation in the region. Certainly it is no longer regarded as a model.

10. Malaysia's voters, especially the Malays have always been strongly loyal. Yet there is evidence that in 2008 many of these loyalists had voted for the opposition. States which had been Barisan Nasional strongholds are now ruled by the opposition.

11. Will the next election see the same phenomenon as in Japan? It is not entirely impossible. The younger voters are said to be disenchanted by the party that won the independence. That was history and it has less meaning for the young.

12. The only thing that would save the BN is the lack-luster performance of the opposition. The alternative is not a real alternative. But if the performance of the BN Government and parties fails to gain confidence, the frustrated voters might just do what the Japanese voters did - dump the party they had supported for more than half a century.

13. It behoves the BN to take notice of the inevitability of the demise of the party which had gained independence for the country. It had staved off the fate before. Can it do so again?

14. In just three years' time the new elections will be held. Time is obviously running short. Unless some drastic change is shown in the way the country is run and the people are served, the BN will join the other grand old party in the rubbish heap of history.

Subramanian Denies Getting Outside Help In Mic Election Bid

KLANG, Sept 11 (Bernama) -- Former MIC deputy president Datuk S. Subramaniam has denied he is banking on external influence to canvass for votes in his bid to recapture the deputy presidency in the party elections on Saturday.

He said it was beyond his control should any political party leader outside the MIC make favourable statements about him.

"He (MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu) gets upset whenever somebody praises me ... everyone has the right to speak," Subramaniam told reporters after attending a gathering with about 900 members and delegates of the Klang MIC Divison near here on Thursday night.

An online news portal yesterday carried an article published on the front page of a local Tamil daily which had quoted former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as praising Subramaniam, among other things.

In a statement later published on the portal, Samy Vellu was reported as saying that Subramaniam had lost whatever credibility that was left in him by seeking the help of people outside the MIC.

"Subramaniam is so desperate that he has to seek the mandate from Mahathir to win in the party elections. He has brought shame to the MIC members and the party," he was quoted as saying.

Subramaniam said Dr Mahathir spoke his mind without fear or favour and the paper just published what he had said.

"I had nothing to do with it. I am grateful to him (Dr Mahathir) because he had said something nice about me," he said.

Subramaniam is challenging incumbent deputy president Datuk G. Palanivel for the post of deputy president. Another candidate for the post is vice-president Datuk S. Sothinathan.

A political analyst from Universiti Sains Malaysia, Dr Sivamurugan Pandian, told Bernama that the chances were there for Subramaniam to get sympathy votes in the party elections following the decision of the MIC Central Working Committee (CWC) to refer Subramaniam to the disciplinary committee.

Samy Vellu had said the disciplinary action against Subramaniam and legal action against former vice-president Datuk V. Govindaraj were for making a media statement that he (Samy Vellu) defeated Subramaniam in the election for the MIC deputy presidency in 1977 by using dirty tactics.

Cow Head: Umno 7, PAS 4, PKR 1

By Jeff Ooi,

Two editors-in-chief put a same thing in context.

The 12 charged under Sedition Act, more relevant for religious instigation, related to the August 28 cow’s head protest at the state secretariat building in Shah Alam seem all have political affiliations of their own.

"Seven of them were from Umno, four from PAS and one was from PKR." The Star reported September 9, the day the daily was born 38 years ago and now in search of new strategies.


Wong Chun Wai
spotted it, and Rocky's Bru echoed.

But Rocky's Bru was inaccurate by saying colossally it was "Barisan 7, Pakatan 5".

My party DAP, though in Pakatan Rakyat, did NOT join any of the fanatics to step on the cow head and hurl profanities at the Malaysian community.

Neither did we see other Barisan component parties, eg. MCA, MIC and Gerakan members, join Umno in the cow head incident.

Nevertheless, I do hope PAS and PKR will sack their members who violated the sanctity of this peaceful country in this ugly episode of Malaysian infamy.

Umno can die on its own device.

Cow head prosecution, Double Standards by Attorney General

ReUMNO linked cow head racist and religious extremists. : 1) Double Standard Prosecution for Hindraf Lawyers and supporters as opposed to the

2) Seriousness in Attorney General’s prosecution questionable and left to be seen?

We refer to the above matter and to the prosecution yesterday of the twelve UMNO linked infamous cow head racist and religious extremist for amongst others creating racial and religious hatred and threatening violence and bloodshed to the Hindus.

Article 8 of the Malaysian Federal Constitution provides for equality before the law and equal protection for all citizens under the law.

In the case of Hindraf legal adviser P.Uthayakumar and the 231 Hindraf peaceful assemblers’ 25th November 2007 case who were arrested and/or charged for Sedition and unlawful assembly etc :-

1) the Attorney General (A.G) appeared in person at the Subordinate Sessions Court and threw the whole weight and might of the UMNO state against this politically and economically weak and tiny 8% minority. Thereafter very senior Deputy Public Prosecutors are continuing with the prosecution which is running for years causing many to lose their jobs, suffering financial constraints, families broken up etc.

2) The A.G opposed bail for the Batu Caves peaceful assemblers for the alleged baseless charge of attempted murder and the Malaysian Court actually denied them bail until an appeal was filed at the High Court and the subsequent withdrawing of the said attempted murder charged.

3) The Attorney General again personally appeared in the Subordinate courts and opposed bail for P.Uthayakumar for the Sedition charge. And the Sessions Court imposed a bail of RM50,000.00 and his passport was ordered to be impounded. Stepping out of the Court he was immediately rearrested, manhandled, detained overnight and the day after he was also detained under the Internal Security Act for 514 days.

4) But for the twelve UMNO linked cow head racial and religious extremists a different standard was applied, A bail of a mere RM4,000.00 was imposed for the Sedition charge and RM500.00 and RM300.00 bail for the unlawful assembly charge. There was no application opposing bail impounding their passports or attempted murder of the Indians charge (with their threat of bloodshed if the Hindu temple was relocated to Section 23 of Shah Alam).

All this can only happen in the UMNO Prime Minister Najib Razak’s One Malaysia

The actual serious and genuine prosecution of these UMNO linked cow head racial and religious extremists are questionable and yet to be seen.

Malaysians have not forgotten that in the March 2001 UMNO linked Kg. Medan racial attacks on the innocent and peacefully living working class Indians, 5 Indians were killed and 100 over caused grievous bodily injuries (gory photographs enclosed).

But after nine years, this worst case of human rights violations in the history of Malaysia never saw the light of the day. Neither did we see any conviction of these UMNO linked murderers and grievous bodily harm criminals because the victims were “merely Indians”. Thus the questionable administration of justice in Malaysia? Further up to this day no Inquest into the said five murdered were ever held, no Royal Commission of Inquiry was held no white paper presented in Parliament and even Suhakam refused to hold and Inquiry and the High Courts dismissed our case to compel Suhakam to hold an Inquiry.

Kindly ensure that history does not repeat itself in this cow head case.

We once again call for the removal of the Attorney General and the Inspector General of Police and to be replaced by more professional and Independent of UMNO personalities.

Thank you.

Your faithfully,

________________________

P.Uthayakumar

Secretary (pro-tem)

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MCMC 'visit' Malaysiakini

Group condemns Subra

Umno to do away with Mahathir's vote quota?

(Bernama) -- In less than a month, Umno will be amending its constitution, which is seen by some political observers as an effort to win back the people's support for the party.

Much awaited is the abolishment of the nomination quota system -- a system which is said does not reflect the grassroots' aspirations, besides contributing to money politics in the party.

This is because those (2,500 party delegates) given the power to choose the Umno President and Deputy President are the same people that choose the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister.

So, which proposal will Umno take up to improve its election system? Will it increase the number of delegates or give the "one member, one vote" right to the 2.3 party members nationwide?

To some political analysts, the amendments to be made to the party's constitution at the special general assembly on Oct 13 will determine the party's survival in the country's political landscape.

"As the dominant political party in the country, such change is important for Umno to regain the trust and confidence of the people, especially the party members," political science lecturer at Universiti Sains Malaysia, Dr Sivamurugan Pandian, said.

He said although it was difficult to tackle negative perceptions about Umno, like being linked to money politics, the amendments would at least give new hope to the party's grassroot members.

"If in the past it was as though the grassroots had been denied their voice by the 2,500 delegates to the general assembly, who might have chosen leaders who were not the grassroots' choice, this change may give them new hope."

He was referring to the situation where a popular candidate receiving the highest number of nominations from the divisions, might not necessarily be chosen by the delegates for a top post under the present circumstances.

For instance, the contest for the Youth post in the last party elections saw Khairy Jamaluddin winning the post although his two challengers, Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo and Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, received more nominations than him.

The idea of abolishing the nomination quota system by amending the party constitution had been voiced by Umno President Datuk Seri Najib Razak even before the party's supreme council decided on the proposal, aimed at making the party elections more transparent, open and democratic.

Two commitees were formed -- the Umno Constitution Amendments Main Committee and Umno Constitution Amendments Technical Committee -- which are responsible to obtain feedback from the grassroots.

Chairman of the main committee, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, said the amendments were proposed based on five rationales, namely empowering the grassroot members, making it easier for members to contest for posts, making Umno more inclusive to all groups, shortening the campaign period and easing the party membership process.

Among the proposals for empowering the grassroots was by increasing the number of delegates from 2,500 to between 60,000 and 650,000 from the divisions in choosing the party leadership line-up, said the Umno vice-president.

For that, Article 9.5 of the party constitution which has been in use for over 10 years now and which had fixed the nomination quota for the party's top posts needs to be amended.

Like Sivamurugan, political analyst Assoc Prof Dr Ahmad Nidzammuddin from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia said the amendments must be practical although drastic.

"In making the party elections more transparent and democratic, the proposal to give all party members the right to choose the top leaders can be taken up, but it is less practical than increasing the number of delegates to 60,000, for instance," he said.

Ahmad Nidzammuddin said such a change could still curb money politics even if not 100 per cent.

"It will reduce room for manipulation and the selection will now be based on a candidate's capability and popularity. The power to choose no longer lies with the 13 delegates from each division."

He said the proposal to give one member one vote would cost time and a lot of money, besides making monitoring difficult.

"Cheating may still be possible, except if you run the party election like the general election where there's the percentage of voter turnout and so on," he added.

It is understood that there is also a proposal for 60,000 divisional delegates to choose the leaders for the top posts and for the 2.3 party members to choose the leaders at the divisional level.

Umno Youth deputy chief Datuk Razali Ibrahim said any decision on the proposed amendments must take into consideration the voice of the grassroots, including the youths.

Sivamurugan and Ahmad Nidzammuddin shared this view as they believed that support from the younger generation in and outside the party would determine Umno's resilience in the years ahead.

"This is because today's young generation do not blindly support a party. They will assess an individual's capability, leadership qualities and integrity before giving their support," said Sivamurugan.

"This aspiraton must be considered by Umno in making the amendments to ensure the party remains relevant for all quarters and not just for a certain group like the elitist Malays," he added.

Whatever decision made on the proposed amendments will be keenly watched by all quarters in and outside the country, as Umno has been one party that has remained in power for so long -- over five decades.

"The amendments may be the initial step forward, but it all depends on how far Umno can prove to the people its seriousness in serving them, just like what it had been in the early years after the country's independence," said Ahmad Nidzammuddin.

The Umno supreme council tomorrow will discuss the feedback from grassroot members on the proposed amendments before the decision is made by the party at its special general assembly next month.