Share |

Friday, July 30, 2010

GAS leaders see Ling’s prosecution as BN clean-up

KUALA LUMPUR, July 30 — Supporters and leaders of the Gerakan Anti-Samy Vellu (GAS) see the prosecution of former MCA president Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik as a strong indication of the government’s determination to “clean up” Barisan Nasional ahead of the next general election.
“We are excited and we hope the government follows through with its investigation of the numerous reports we have lodged against Samy Vellu,” said GAS founder V. Mugilan.

“We need our faith in the MACC and the police restored,” he said.

He said numerous reports had been lodged against Datuk Seri Samy Vellu over the mismanagement of Maika Holdings and Maju Institute of Education Development (MIED), the education arm of the MIC, as well as the RM1 billion AIMST university scandals.

“We want the government to act without fear or favour,” Mugilan said, but added they had not heard any positive outcome.

“It’s as if complaints have all disappeared into a deep, dark hole,” he explained.

Various reports and lawsuits have been filed against Samy Vellu, and directors of Maika Holdings and MIED alleging mismanagement and corruption but while police and the MACC have are investigating these allegations, nobody has been charged despite millions in losses.

The exception is former MIED CEO Chitrakala Vasu, who was close to Samy Vellu but fell out with the MIC leader last year, and was charged in May with three counts of cheating MIED of RM4 million.

Mugilan said he is not against Dr Ling in any way but is heartened that even such a well-connected politician has been brought to the dock.

“It shows the government under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is not hesitant to charge a VVIP even though the Barisan name will be tarnished,” Mugilan said. “We look forward to more individuals facing the music for what they have done.”

Another GAS leader K.P. Samy said he lodged a police report against Samy Vellu and Maika Holdings as early as 2004 but to date nothing has come of it.

“If a person like Dr Ling can be charged, what about lesser individuals,” Samy said. “I was told Samy Vellu has left for Australia.”

Both Mugilan and Samy were sacked from the MIC for demanding that Samy Vellu, who has been party president since 1979, resign immediately.

They want Samy Vellu to leave now and not in September 2012 to give the MIC time to reform and regroup under a new, untainted leadership. This is so the party can try to win back the support of the Indian community.

Sources say the prime minister’s patience is wearing thin and that he wants Samy Vellu to leave by December at the latest.

A job as ambassador at large for South Asia with ministerial rank is there for Samy Vellu’s taking to sweeten his departure, Barisan Nasional sources said.

But the charging of Dr Ling, GAS sources said, indicates time is running out for Samy Vellu and others who are clinging on as party leaders although they have been discredited in the eyes of the electorate.

“Najib needs to tie up the loose ends, and show a new and united team to the voters. He is not going to carry dead wood with him into the next election,” said sources. “It is a do or die battle and every vote counts.”

UDA Holding's Malay dilemma

By Muda Mohd Nor and Syed Jaymal Zahiid - Free Malaysia Today,

FMT INTERVIEW KUALA LUMPUR: Malays are not responding to investments made by property conglomerate UDA Holdings Bhd, forcing it to depend on government contracts for survival, said its newly minted chairman Nur Jazlan Mohamed.

He said efforts to cement Malay property ownership, the reason why UDA was set up, in urban areas in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Ipoh and Johor Baru are not materialising and UDA is now in a dilemma between balancing its accounts and realising its objective.

"UDA's development projects are not getting good response among the Malays and we are not making money from the investments we make," the Pulai MP told FMT.

"This forces UDA to depend on the financial resources of the government. UDA must make money and cannot just depend on government money alone," he added.

Nur Jazlan replaced Hilmi Abdul Rashid as UDA's new chairman on June 16.

The company's situation is made worse by the fact that the government has yet to decide if UDA is to become fully privatised or corporatised which has left the agency in doubt over the future of its commercial viability.

UDA or Urban Development Authority, started as a government set up in 1971, was tasked to oversee urban property developments, management and the leisure industry. It is also responsible for conservation of historic urban buildings.

It was recently awarded the contract to preserve the historical Pudu Prison's arch after the building was controversially torn down following the government's refusal to recognise the colonial-era infrastructure as a "heritage" site.

UDA can't do everything for the Malays

UDA was one of the major government agencies, before its incorporation in 1996, to help thrust the Malays into the commercial arena under the New Economic Policy (NEP).

The NEP, however, has been blamed for fattening the Malay largesse which in turn, weakened the commercial competitiveness of the race.

Components of the Najib administration have openly admitted to NEP's failure and prompted Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to introduce the New Economic Model (NEM).

It is meant to be Najib's hallmark economic blueprint, tasked to steer the nation out of its wage-stagnancy crisis and turn Malaysia into a high-income nation. Abolishing Bumiputera quotas in several key economic sectors was one such measure.

But this has met fierce opposition from influential Malay groups like Perkasa.

Fearing voter backlash, Najib was forced to backtrack on his liberal economic proposals and said that Bumiputera quotas are here to stay.

This, observers noted, has tarnished the country's sixth premier's reform credentials.

UDA to go 1Malaysia way

However, Nur Jazlan's statement was a reflection of Najib's concerns - that the Malays are overly dependent on government contracts and exploiting the quota system for mass profiteering.

"UDA has no money to develop properties in urban areas like KL (because its investments are not making money). Malays buy houses or commercial properties with very low price but resell it for a profit to non-Malays," he said.

An example of this is UDA's project, the Bandar Tun Hussein Onn housing estate, in Cheras.

The UDA chairman said the housing estate was fully owned by Malays initially, but now 40% of the properties there are owned by non-Malays.

This has forced UDA to reconsider its business model.

Nur Jazlan said under the 1Malaysia concept, UDA "may have to develop urban projects with 60% targetted towards Malay ownership and the rest for non-Malays".

But Nur Jazlan is already anticipating a backlash, saying that he expected "certain quarters", presumably referring to Perkasa, to accuse UDA of betraying its objective.

"If we do that, they will say we have failed. To the Malays, please, you cannot depend 100% on UDA," he said, reasoning that UDA must maintain profitability in order to continue to help the Malays.

Parents to protest against Tamil school's relocation

By B Nantha Kumar - Free Malaysia Today

SUNGAI BULOH: The parents of students in Ladang Coalfied Tamil school here will stage a protest on Sunday against the plantation owner and a housing developer.

The estate workers, who claimed that they are being “tortured” after defying an order to vacate their homes, are now facing a similar predicament with the school.

A spokesperson for the parents, Lobat Raj, slammed the management and developer KL-Kepong Sdn Bhd, for using various tactics to shift the school and two places of worship, a church and a temple.The oil palm estate has been earmarked for a housing project.

“The developer and the management have never considered our hardship, and are only interested in making profits,” a vexed Raj told FMT.

He also disputed a letter produced by the developer which purportedly showed that 60 parents have consented to the school being shifted some 4km from its present location.

“Who are these 60 parents? Can the developer show them to us?” he asked, alleging that the majority of the signatories were outsiders.

According to Raj, the parents' demand is simple. They want the school to be located near their houses.

“It is easier for us to send the children to school,” he said, adding that it will be dangerous for the children to cross the main road to go to the proposed new location.

“Last week alone, three children were hurt in accidents along the road,” he revealed.

'No faith in PKR's Xavier, MIC's Parthiban invited'

As for the protest, Raj said some 400 people, comprising parents and locals, will gather at the school field to vent their frustration.

He also mentioned that no state government representatives have been invited, “because the parents have no trust in the exco in charge of Indian affairs, PKR's Dr Xavier Jeyakumar”.

Instead, the residents have invited MIC's former Ijok state assemblyman K Parthibhan.

Meanwhile, another resident Robert Vanapiah said the developer has not revealed the new site for the school.

“Our children walk to school, we have no buses. Imagine if they have to walk for 4km,” he said.

Last week, newly appointed Plantation Industries and Commodities Deputy Minister G Palanivel promised to resolve the issue when he visited the estate.

A ministry spokesman told FMT that Palanivel brought the matter to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak's attention, and the latter promised to look into it.

Lawyers debate DPP's alleged affair with Saiful

(Malaysiakini) Some lawyers hold the view the Attorney-General's Chambers' reputation had been badly tarnished by the allegation that one of its prosecutors had been involved in a romantic affair with star witness Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.

However, others feel that the damage is minor as the DPP's role in the case was limited to just taking down notes during the trial.

Lawyer Baljit Singh Sidhu, when met, said the alleged affair will certainly have serious repercussion for the AG's Chambers.

"This allegation is serious and it does not look good for the prosecution. It leads to the issue of the prosecution team's integrity. People view the case as being politically trumped-up.

"If the allegation is true, it shows the DPP was acting unethically and unprofessionally in having an affair with the complainant," he said, adding that he did not want to be judgmental on this issue.

Baljit, who is also a lecturer, said DPP Farah Azlina Latif's role being minor was not the issue.

"The fact remains that she is part of the prosecution's team and this should not have happened," he added.

Baljit, (right) however, commended the swift action taken by attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail to remove her from Anwar's prosecution team as something proper to dispel negative perceptions.

Another senior lawyer who wanted to remain anonymous when asked laughed, saying this can only happen in Malaysia.

Prosecution's image tainted

Another senior lawyer who requested anonymity said where the bigger picture was concerned people would question the ethics and conduct of the prosecution, especially with the involvement of a DPP, if the allegations proved to be true.

"She should have known better than engaging in a relationship with the complainant and star witness as she is also a lawyer. But people sometimes do not look at this bigger picture," he said.

He added on the other hand, if her role is limited to taking notes, than it should not affect the prosecution team that much.

As long as, he said, she was not involved in the prosecution or handling exhibits it would be all right.

However, he noted that for a lawyer to have a relationship with a witness is not ethical.

David Matthews (left) said it was improper and will cast a doubt on the transparency of the prosecution team as this is a politically charged case.

"Most importantly, the public expects a very high level of ethics and prosecutarial conduct. Anything wrong done will certainly taint the prosecution's image," the young laywer said.

Following her alleged affair, it is learnt that Farah has been laterally transferred from the Commercial Crime unit of the Prosecution Division to the Law Revision and Reform Division.

She has been in the spotlight following allegations made by blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin about her affair with Saiful.

On Wednesday, it was also reported that before the matter became public, she had cancelled her wedding plans to her fiance about a week before the scheduled date.

No postponement, trial resumes on Monday

In a related development, High Court judge Justice Mohammad Zabidin Mohd Diah had rejected a defence team application to defer Monday's trial following the Court of Appeal setting a hearing date for their appeal to get the doctors' notes of the Kuala Lumpur Hospital's three physicians who had examined Saiful.

Justice Zabidin despatched the rejection letter to Anwar's solicitor Sankara Nair yesterday.

On another note, Sankara (right) said he has asked lead prosecutor solicitor-general II Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden to either confirm or deny the so-called "affair" between Farah and Saiful.

"As such we have sent a reminder to him yesterday, and this time by adding that if we do not get his reply by (4pm) today July 30, 2010.

"We shall then proceed to assume that the allegations are deemed to be true," he said in a statement.

Will Dr M and his 2002 crew take the stand?

KUALA LUMPUR: DAP's veteran leader Lim Kit Siang asked if former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad or any of his ministers from the 2002 Cabinet would testify in court when it hears the case against former transport minister and MCA president Dr Ling Liong Sik?

Ling was accused of misleading the government into approving Port Klang Authority's purchase of the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) land with a 15-year repayment with compound interest instead of 10 years.

"Who were the ministers in the 2002 Cabinet. The deputy prime minister was Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Other ministers who are still ministers include Najib Tun Razak, Muhyiddin Yassin, Hishammuddin Hussein, Nazri Abdul Aziz, Rais Yatim and Bernard Dompok.

"Other ministers who are no longer in the Cabinet include Rafidah Aziz, Azmi Khalid; three MCA ministers at the time -- Chua Jui Meng, Fong Chan Onn, and Ong Ka Ting -- Lim Keng Yaik, S Samy Vellu and Law Hieng Ding," Lim said in a statement.

Still waiting for A-G to act

The Ipoh Timor MP noted that as far back as three years ago in Parliament, during the budget debate, he had focused on the main issues of the PKFZ scandal:

1. PKA's purchase of 1,000 acres of Pulau Indah land from Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd for PKFZ at RM25 psf when the Treasury and Attorney-General’s Chambers proposed acquisition under the Land Acquisition Act at RM10psf.

2. The ballooning of the PKFZ cost from RM1.1 billion to RM4.6 billion and its development costs from RM400 million to RM2.8 billion.

3. The four illegal "letters of support" by then transport ministers Ling and (former MCA deputy president) Chan Kong Choy for the RM4.6 billion bonds issued by KDSB through special purpose vehicles.

"These issues have not been adequately dealt with despite the promise by Attorney-General Abdul Gani Patail last December and the country is still waiting for him to fulfil his pledge to leave no stone unturned to haul in the 'big fish' implicated in the PKFZ scandal," said Lim.

Yesterday, Ling was charged at the Sessions Court under Sections 417 and 418 of the Penal Code with cheating and could face a jail term if found guilty.

The 67-year-old medical doctor-turned-politician, who was bestowed with a Tun -- the highest honorific title in the country -- after his retirement in 2003, had pleaded not guilty.

The case, dubbed as the most high-profile corruption case in Malaysian history, would be mentioned in September.

Ling, a long-time minister and MCA's sixth president, was known to be close to Mahathir during his tenure in government.

The charge against Ling reads:

“That you, between Sept 25 and Nov 6, 2002, at Level 4 of the Prime Minister’s Office in Bangunan Perdana Putra, cheated the Government by deceiving the Cabinet into approving a land purchase in Pulau Indah for a Mega Distribution Hub project in Port Klang according to the terms agreed between Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd and Port Klang Authority which, among others, are:

1. The size of the land being 999.5 acres or 43,538,200 sq ft

2. The purchase price for the land being RM25 per sq ft amounting to a total of RM1,088,456,000

3. The repayment period being based on a “deferred payment” of 15 years with an interest rate of 7.5% per annum (total RM720,014,600), and thereby dishonestly hiding the fact that the valuation by the Valuation and Property Service Department on the land was RM25 per sq ft for a repayment period of 10 years or RM25.82 per sq ft for a repayment period of 15 years, including coupon/interest that could be charged for the repayment period.

And as such, you purposely induced the Cabinet to give its consent to the purchase, whereas the Cabinet would not have given its consent if the fact had been told to the Cabinet, and the fraud was committed with the knowledge that you could cause a loss to the Government, where you have an interest in the transaction pertaining to the fraud and you are bound under the law to protect it and, as such, you have committed an offence punishable under Section 418 of the Penal Code.”

Jui Meng: Umno controls the minds of the Malays

By Fazy Sahir - Free Malaysia Today,

FMT EXCLUSIVE PETALING JAYA: Umno, being the largest political party in the country which has ruled over the last 50 years, has poisoned the minds of the Malays, feeding them lies that their position is under threat from the non-Malays, former health minister and MCA vice-president Chua Jui Meng said.
"All these years Umno has brought about this propaganda that the Malays were under threat. They try to control the hearts and minds of the Malays, telling them that the advancement of other races would make them poor. This propaganda to poison the minds of the Malays has resulted in the Malays not being able to see the true picture.
"The problem is not the other races but Umno itself. This message is important for all Malays in Malaysia. They must be aware of the truth. We have to break their mindset,” he said in an exclusive interview with FMT recently.
He was quick to add that the Malays in urban areas were realising the truth of Umno's political game plan. However, he said, the Malays in the outskirts, such as in his home state of Johor, still had the orthodox mentality that Umno was Malay and Malay is Umno.
“This kind of propaganda poisons the minds of the Malays," said the 67-year-old lawyer-turned- politician.
He added that access to the new media as well as a paradign shift in the mindset of the urban Malays would enable them to break away from the Umno mentality.
He stressed that Pakatan Rakyat should aspire to bring about the change in the mindset of rural Malays in order to see a change in the country.
"I have told (Opposition leader) Anwar (Ibrahim) that I am a Chinese leader in Pakatan wanting to help poor Malays. My heart goes out to them... we need to help these Malays.
“In Johor, there is a huge information gap. We have to narrow this gap. After 50 years in power, Umno is still spreading lies to the people through the mainstream media which is under Umno control,” he said.
Chua, however, said that Pakatan should not be only concentrating on uplifting the Malay community's economic status.
"We tend to forget other races. Like the Indians, they too have problems. Even when they are citizens of this country, their rights are denied. This is the way of Umno," said Chua, who was in MCA for 35 years before deciding to join PKR late last year.
Plans for Johor
Asked on his plans for Johor as the new state PKR chief, he said he was not a novice in politics and knows the ways of the BN from a political perspective, which uses the mainstream media to win votes.
He said since joining the opposition front, he had become more open to the alternative media.
He said on the part of the Chinese, the community had repented and now had an open mindset knowing that they could live in this country without being dependent on Umno.
"The Chinese community works hard and are smart. Their priority is education... although they only receive minimal assistance from Umno, they don't give up. When they are educated, they can be critical and analytical in the way they think," said the veteran politician.
He also revealed that there was no racial issue in Malaysia, although Umno insists on racialising each and every issue that crops up.
"The Malays are blinded by Umno. Look at the education system. It does not allow our students to be independent and become critical of things. We still have laws to control university students... all these are meant to control the mindset of the Malays.
He also slammed Umno for using Islam to further their political agenda despite indulging in immoral activities like corruption.
"Umno talks about religion. Do they really know what they are talking about? If they know what they are talking about, then why are they still doing wrong? If they hold on to the Quran, then they should also know that corruption takes them to hell... but they still go ahead and do it.
“This message should be sent to the Malays in rural areas: the rich in the country are not the Chinese but those in Umno and their cronies.”

Khairy supporters dismiss mutiny talk

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid
KUALA LUMPUR: Grassroots support for Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin remains strong amid widespread talk of a revolt against his fledgling leadership, party leaders said today.
Sources close to the Rembau MP, who is also the son-in-law of former premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, admitted that there was simmering dissatisfaction within the Umno wing, confirming FMT's report of upheavals, especially in Selangor and Perak.

They spoke of mutinous tendencies in Selangor and Perak, but said these were against the Umno Youth chiefs of the two states.

Some 14 Youth chiefs in Selangor are said to have prepared a memorandum demanding the resignation of Suhaimi Ghazali for his alleged ineffectiveness as leader. Suhaimi is a staunch Khairy supporter.

Some sources said the protest against Suhaimi was a reveberation of discontent with Khairy, but some Umno Youth divisional leaders, like Ampang’s Safarizul Mustafa, rejected the claim.

"Yes there was factionalism in Umno Youth, especially during the wing's election in 2009, when we were split into three camps,” Safarizul told FMT. “But now there is no such thing. We are behind our leader and it is because of him that the wing is moving effectively."

Suhaimi has denied reports that he has tendered his resignation following the news of the protest memorandum. He said he was still very much the Selangor Umno Youth chief.

The three camps are those of Khairy, former Selangor menteri besar Dr Mohd Khir Toyo, and Deputy International Trade Minister Mukhriz Mahathir. The three fought each other for the Umno Youth leadership.

Safarizul was Khir’s campaign manager and is known to be a loyal follower of the former MB.
Political ploy
Khairy was unpopular in the early days of his leadership, but has since proven his mettle, according to Safarizal.

"In Selangor, Khairy was the one who tried to bring the warring camps together under a programme called Perpaduan (Unity), in which clean leaders acceptable to all camps were chosen for the state's top Umno Youth posts," said a division chief who did not want to be named.

Khairy saw Suhaimi as a leader who could be accepted by at least half of Khir's supporters and who was "tolerable" to those aligned to Mukhriz.

"But one or two leaders aligned with Khir have been eyeing Suhaimi's post,” he said. “Hence the so-called mutiny against him, which is just another political ploy to oust a leader who is not accommodating the old Umno mentality that expects positions to come with projects."

Khairy also used the Perpaduan scheme to appoint leaders from each of the rival camps to the wing's top posts in each state, said Ungku Salleh Ungku Jamal, the Serdang Umno Youth chief.

"There is no question of any mutiny,” he told FMT. “I believe he receives tremendous support from the ground, especially from the youth."

Kayveas' 3-step dare for 'liar-traitor' Murugiah

By S Rutra
PETALING JAYA: PPP president M Kayveas did not mince his words when he accused his former youth chief T Murugiah of concocting tales and challenged the latter to prove him otherwise.
Speaking to FMT, the veteran politician said Murugiah, who is Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department, was only interested in safeguarding his government position.

He said Murugiah, "who had lived under my shadows", had lied when he announced that he had some 200,000 supporters who would follow him to MIC.

"It's an utter lie. Even if we assume that he has the support, I would  like to challenge him to take three simple steps if he is really serious in bringing some credibility to his claim,” he added.

First, Kayveas said Murugiah needed to collect some 200,000 forms from the PPP headquarters.
Second, fill it up, and third, once their memberships are verified, surrender all their membership cards.

"If his claim is true, then some 200,000 PPP members would have left the party when we sacked him two years ago.

“But this never happened which is an indication that he never enjoyed such support from the grassroots, espceially the Indian community," added Kayveas, who was clearly irked with his former youth chief's statement.

Kayveas and Murugiah had been at loggerheads ever since the 2008 general election, in which the PPP president failed to defend his Taiping parliamentary seat under the Barisan Nasional banner.

Murugiah was then appointed senator and given a deputy minister's post under the PPP quota.

However,  when things came to a boil, the PPP supreme council decided to sack Murugiah last year for working against the interest of the party.

The sacking was contested by Murugiah and the case was referred to the Registrar or Societies, who ruled that Kayveas was the rightful president and had acted in accordance with the PPP constitution in sacking Murugiah.

The deputy minister remained "partyless" for more than a year.

Last week, MIC president S Samy Vellu announced that Murugiah would be allowed to become an ordinary MIC member without any other posts in the party.

'Almost zero contribution, good luck MIC'
Meanwhile, Kayveas said Murugiah had enjoyed some support from PPP members but this was because most of them thought that he had the full blessings of the president and not because of his own clout.

Kayveas, who had just returned from a 10-day overseas trip, said Murugiah joined MIC because he needed another BN component party to extend his senatorship, which is renewed every two years.

"That's all. As far as I know most BN component parties had rejected him. He is actually a nobody and a total write-off. People like me, even though not holding any position in the cabinet still enjoy support from party members and BN component leaders," he said.

Asked on Murugiah's contribution to PPP,  Kayveas said it was "almost zero" as Murugiah had failed to deliver in all positions he had held.

"During his last six years in the party, he had even failed to renew his membership at the Selibin branch in Ipoh which later led to the party headquarters deregistering the branch.

“For nearly 17 years, I built the party but people like Murugiah, their only achievement was dividing the party but now it is all over," he added.

Saying that Murugiah's departure was not a loss to PPP, the lawyer-turned-politician said:"I brought him into the party, I discouraged him from migrating to Australia when he was in some financial difficulty but now he betrayed me and the party.”

"I will leave it to people to judge him (Murugiah), I am not going to pass a judgement on him," he said, admitting that it was his mistake in the first place for bringing Murugiah into the party and that in the last 10 years Murugiah was in PPP, he had only managed to bring in some 30 members.

"He was not fit for the job and I should not have offered him the post. Murugiah has been a thorn in the party and I'm happy now that everything is over. It's a blessing for the party which had strengthened further after members were devided into two factions for almost two years. I wish good luck to him and MIC," he added.

On Samy Vellu's announcement, the PPP supremo said that at this moment he was “not prepared" to be at loggerheads with the MIC president or any other BN component party leader "even though I am not happy from the beginning on the manner this issue was handled."

"I just view Samy Vellu's announcement as a general statement that six ex-PPP members are being accepted into MIC. The announcement failed to state which PPP branch or division they were from," he added.

'Is there no honour among thieving friends?'

By Mohd Ariff Sabri Abdul Aziz - Free Malaysia Today,

COMMENT Former Transport Minister Ling Liong Sik was charged in court yesterday. It sent shocks through the MCA. MCA must now feel betrayed.
After all Ling was one of us - us being one of more important leaders of the Barisan Nsional in those halcyon days.
Indeed, Ling was PM of Malaysia for a few hours when Dr Mahathir Mohamad was partyless for the “few hours” when old Umno was deregistered and a new Umno was being formed.
What if Ling had at the time said “go and fly kite. Saya PM sekarang. You orang keluar BN”?
So, personally for Ling – this must feel like a betrayal. He must be feeling most betrayed.
There was one piece of news however that attracted my attention. It was s statement in his charge sheet.
According to the charge sheet, the Finance Ministry had already valued the land at RM25psf - inclusive of compounded interest - and this fact was withheld from the Cabinet by the accused.
(NB: Ling was charged under Section 418 of the Penal Code with misleading the Cabinet between Sept 25 and Nov 6, 2002, into agreeing to purchase 999.5 acres of land on Pulau Indah for a project, now known as PKFZ, at a price of RM25psf on a deferred payment basis for a 15-year period, at a 7.5 percent interest rate. The cumulative interest paid would total RM720 million at the end of the repayment period. He was also offered an alternative charge, under Section 417 of the Penal Code, for the same offence.)
Expect to be stabbed
I am not sure how a Cabinet meeting is conducted. Usually in an exco meeting for example, all papers would be prepared by the secretary to that meeting.
For a Dewan Undangan Negeri (state assembly), the papers are prepared by the MMK secretary, who is the secretary to the exco, usually a state administrative officer.
I am thinking, the principle must be the same- files and papers prepared by the Cabinet secretary.
That being the case, a copy of the file note containing the valuation price of the land must be in all the files.
Unless, the file for the PKFZ topic for that day was prepared by Ling alone and that the only information for decision that fateful day, came from Ling alone. That would be highly unusual.
Unusual because at all material time, the Finance Minister at that time, had in his possession all information about the land to be bought by PKFZ.
He would make this information available to all Cabinet members at that meeting. Or in preceding meetings.
The Finance Minister would have spotted the blatant discrepancy unless he went along with Ling. Other alert members would have spotted it too.
All Cabinet members liable too?
All Cabinet members present at that meeting at that time would now have to discover that particular document provided by whoever it was at that time, from his/her own personal files, and produce them in court. So all you SUSK (private secretaries) prepare to look for the file of that meeting for your minister.
This means everyone at that meeting on the day Ling presented his notes would have to appear before court to testify. Now everyone will stab Ling.
If the only paper informing the value of the land came from Ling, then everyone was deceived.
Or did everyone agree in unison with the facts presented by Ling. It would be interesting also to know, whether the Finance Minister then, who had the real information, went along with Ling. Or did he object?
If the entire Cabinet agreed with Ling despite having the real facts, then the entire Cabinet is vicariously liable. Ling is now feeling, most betrayed. Is there is no honour among thieving friends?
(Note: Ling is the second MCA president to be charged. The first was Tan Koon Swan)

Education and the agenda of political parties

By Deborah Loh | 30 July 2010 | The Nut Graph
(Blackboard by ilco / sxc.hu)
(Blackboard by ilco / sxc.hu)
THE year 2010 is the year of creativity and innovation for Malaysia. And yet, a common lament when discussing the country’s state of affairs or the quality of education is that we lack in precisely these areas. What, then, of the government’s plans to make Malaysia a high-income nation? Where do we even begin in order to revive our education system and help the nation climb out of the middle-income rut?
In an interview with The Nut Graph on 13 July 2010, educationist Prof Datuk Dr Ibrahim Ahmad Bajunid echoes the need for politics to be taken out of education if meaningful changes are to occur.
Ibrahim was recently awarded the Tokoh Kepimpinan Pendidikan 2010 for his contributions to education. One of the founders and a former director of the Institut Aminuddin Baki, Ibrahim’s work in education has been in both the international and local arenas. He is currently deputy president/deputy vice-chancellor of the INTI-UC Laureate International Universities, and a professor of management, education and social sciences.
TNG: How do you feel about political decision-making in higher education? For example, appointments of university vice-chancellors are made by politicians.
Ibrahim Ahmad Bajunid: So far, political decision-making has been prudent, wise and consultative. Decisions may be made by the prime minister and the higher education minister, but there has been consultation with and input from academia in the selection process.
If you leave it just to the respective universities, everyone will have their own candidates and the nation will not have the opportunity for a broader, wider national search for the right person, with the right mindset for change leadership.
Following that, do you think there is enough autonomy for public universities?
There are different areas [where we need] autonomy, starting first with autonomy in the classroom – in the method of teaching, in developing research interests, and in the overall pursuit of knowledge and truth.
There should also be autonomy with regards to publication, consultancy, and creating new programmes for the university. There is also autonomy with regards to the relationships the university has with its immediate community, or the public service element.
Those who focus on research in the sciences do not usually have autonomy problems, except when there are areas such as stem-cell research. However, when a university reaches out to society, it extends out of its borders, and in come other actors or stakeholders – for example, when an academician goes on a TV forum to discuss politics, and takes a stand against the ruling government. Is that person taking a stand as an academician, or as a member of a political party?
It is usually in the overlapping areas when a university reaches out to society, especially in the political and ideological realms – the humanities and social science – where autonomy becomes an issue. Academicians have the right and responsibility to take [a position of advocacy] based on values and knowledge in the [people’s interest].
Ibrahim
Ibrahim
Is the lack of autonomy for academics to speak out, especially those in the humanities and social sciences, one reason why our university culture is said to lack critical thought?
To some extent that’s true. But there is no lack of autonomy if you are professional and nonpartisan. Then you can boldly say the same thing consistently in different contexts.
We need to develop a critical mass of first-class academicians who write, research and share their knowledge objectively. In academia, there are partisan spokes[persons] of political parties who present only one-sided views on any issue, and this is one of the problems.
Typically, academicians present all, or parts of, the arguments and positions of various schools of thought for other scholars to evaluate and understand. Advocates take a particular stance, aggressively or subtly, and promote a particular political party, and so things get confused and the matter of autonomy gets detracted.
What can we – both the people and the government – do about the lack of quality human resource and lack of quality mindsets and culture that are necessary to building world-class learning institutions?
For one, we must break the myth that all things related to education are the sole responsibilities of the education and higher education ministries. There are other governmental, private and non-governmental organisations and stakeholders involved. Others that have strategic roles to play include the human resources, and women, family and community development [ministries].
We need planning and synergy across ministries. There is, but the problem is that we only have “ministerial champions”— people who champion their issues under their own ministry only.
We need cross-ministry champions if we are to have integrated, long-term planning for education. We often lament the lack of numbers or quality of competencies, but Malaysia actually has a large number of talented people in all domains. What is not happening may be the mobilisation [of this talent].
There is no one spearheading any dialogue about an education revolution. We’re only hearing reactionary statements.
No, there is no one leading this dialogue. It’s political. The same people who supported (Tun) Dr Mahathir (Mohamad) on his policy to teach mathematics and science in English are the same ones who opposed the policy after he stepped down. At the same time, we have [politically and racially oriented leaders] taking stances on educational matters, while informed educational decisions are marginalised and trivialised.
In some other countries, education is a non-issue because political parties decide as policy to have a united stand regarding education. Also, education is a state and local matter to some extent in other countries.
But education in Malaysia is related to the agenda of political parties.
Do you see any first steps that could be taken to de-politicise education?
Get all parties to agree on ways to move education forward and not use education as a means to score political points. Underlying this is the need to grow a new breed of leaders – 1Malaysia leaders, so to speak – who care about the larger picture and the country as a whole

Restructuring federal-state relations: Critical issue in next polls

Aliran

Power must be devolved, decision-making must be decentralised, and development funds must be shared all the way down, asserts Francis Loh.

An important issue in the next general election, no doubt, must be the restructuring of federal-state relations. Our federal system of government needs to be transformed from a highly centralised to a more equal and co-operative one. Indeed, cooperative federal systems are the norm throughout the world, not only in Canada, Australia and Switzerland, but also in India, South Africa and Nigeria.

This means that more devolution of power must occur. As well, decentralisation of decision-making and of course disbursement of development funds from the federal government to the state governments. And the civil service must act more professionally to serve the government of the day, regardless of party affiliation.

Two years of Pakatan Rakyat (PR) rule especially in Penang and Selangor has highlighted how centralised our political system is. It has also highlighted how the BN federal government can dominate PR-led state governments as a result of the former’s control of development funds.

Whereas such funds are channelled to the state governments as in the cases of Pahang, Johore and Malacca which are BN-led, the same development funds are channelled to federal-appointed State Development Officers in the cases of PR-led states. This is so although PR state governments have been duly elected into office by the rakyat.

The recent war of words between Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and the federally appointed State Development Officer Nik Ali bin Yunus on 20-21 July over the Botanical Gardens expansion project highlights how the federal government dominates the state government.

First, the Garden’s expansion project falls under the control of the Tourism Ministry rather than the Penang state government or the Penang Municipal Council. To any Penangite, surely the state or municipal authority would be better informed of how best to carry out the expansion of the Garden!

And even if the federal Ministry was in charge, why did it not devolve power and funds to the state and local authorities? One can imagine that if the state-government was BN-led, there might have been more consultation and perhaps even decentralisation of decision-making. In this regard, we should recall how the federal government had disbursed to the BN-led Malacca state government its share of the heritage conservation funds but had denied the PR-led Penang state government its share of the same, channelling it instead to the Penang Representative Office of Khazanah Nasional Berhad, which is owned by the Finance Ministry. Yet Malacca and George Town share joint listing as Unesco heritage sites!

This episode also highlights a second way of federal domination. Lim blamed Nik Ali, who is responsible for overseeing the channelling of all federal allocations for projects in Penang, for ‘openly and blatantly sabotaging the state government’. It is significant that the SDO chose to declare the Chief Minister as ‘biadap’ at a press conference called by Penang Umno leaders! Isn’t a civil servant supposed to serve the government of the day? And in the case of Nik Ali, should he not be serving the interests of the Penang state government to which he has been appointed State Development Officer, notwithstanding he is a federal appointee?

Indeed, it is not only Nik Ali who has facilitated federal domination over Penang, the SDOs in the other PR-led states have also been giving the PR-led governments in Selangor, Kelantan and Kedah a hard time, as the Menteri Besars of those states have complained from time to time.

In this matter, we need to recall how the Pas-led Kelantan government and the Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS)-led Sabah governments were bullied by the federal government authorities during the 1990s. Then, so-called Federal Development Offices were set up in both states in order to bypass the state governments too.

No wonder, federal appointees like Nik Ali consider it their duty to serve the BN federal government over the PR-state governments. Yet, no amount of ill-mannered name-calling by the SDO will whitewash popular opinion that most federal appointees to the state government have been acting very unprofessionally. They have been biased towards the BN government rather than acting fairly towards the PR state governments.

Underlying the recent exchange of words between the Penang CM and the SDO, therefore, is this discriminatory way by which the PR-led states are treated by the federal BN government. In effect, they have not given due recognition to the wishes of the rakyat who voted PR-led governments into office in five states in the 2008 election.

In the recent case concerning the construction of two monstrous arches at the entrance to the Botanic Gardens, which look completely out of place and one of which is tilting, there had been minimum consultation with the rakyat prior to their construction. Concerned NGOs had complained to the Penang state government about the cutting of trees, the cementing over of various parts of
the gardens to build a car park and hawker complex and the construction of the arches.

Now that the Tourism Ministry has declared that the arches will be brought down, it is clear to the NGOs and concerned Penangites that the Garden expansion project is indeed a federal project, and that the SDO does, in fact, have oversight of the project and should be held responsible for this wastage.

In this regard, perhaps the NGOs should have directed their complaints to the federal authorities in the first place. Whichever the case, there was no consultation with the rakyat by the federal Ministry of Tourism until it had become obvious that a disaster was in the making, when it was discovered that one of the ugly arches was tilting. And of course, there had been no consultation whatsoever on the part of the federal-appointed SDO even up till now. (Of course, he would plead that it is not his job to do so since he is only involved in disbursing the funds)

That said, the NGOs believe that the Penang state government could have been more pro-active and acted more responsibly in the face of such ill-conceived projects, even if they were federally funded. It could have intervened to prevent this wastage of M150,000 and the destruction of the local Botanic Garden environment. In this regard, it must share a part of the blame.

One way to prevent such wastage is to make sure that restructuring of federal-state elections become a priority for all the parties in the next elections. Power must be devolved, decision-making must be decentralised, and development funds must be shared all the way down.

Francis Loh is honorary secretary of Aliran.

Panellists give human rights low rating

The Star
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s human rights record received between a one-and-a-half and five out of 10 rating by local panellists in the Hard Talk on Human Rights session at the 15th Malaysian Law Conference here yesterday.

While former de facto law minister and current PKR member Datuk Zaid Ibrahim gave a rating of between one-and-half and two, Musawah director and SIS board member Zainah Anwar gave a two and Suhakam commissioner James Nayagam a three, theSun editor R. Nadeswaran and former transport minister and MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat set it at between four and five.

They were responding to former Bar Council chair Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, who moderated the session in the style of BBC television’s Hardtalk.

Ambiga, who had grilled the panellists on several matters, asked them to rate Malaysia and whether it deserved its place in the United Nations Human Rights Council.

Zaid contended that Malaysia had the trappings of a democracy but the people lived in fear, while Zainah put human rights violations down to a lack of political will, commitment and courage on the part of the Government.

Nayagam’s low ranking was based on his years of being a child advocate, and having seen raped children having to wait “years and years” for their case to come to court despite his appeals to the relevant agencies and Members of Parliament.

Former Australian High Court judge Michael Kirby was spared the exercise, however, and awarded a 10 to Ambiga who easily gave Tim Sebastian – former Hardtalk interviewer – a run for his money.

Gender paradox

Girls and women are excelling in education and tertiary education; yet formal women’s participation in public life and major decision-making remains lower. Why is that?
This is a piece I wrote for IPS:
It is a paradox, all right. Women make up more than half of those who take part in protests and other activities organised by her political party on issues affecting low-income workers, says Rani Rasiah of the Socialist Party of Malaysia.
But when it comes to holding official positions at the party’s local branches, more than half of the officials happen to be men, she observes.
“Maybe the womenfolk feel they have responsibilities at home and are unable to attend regular party meetings and the demands that come with them,” reasons the party’s deputy secretary general.
”There is also a certain degree of control at home about women going out at night or leaving the household to attend regular meetings,” she continues. ”Maybe the women themselves lack self esteem and self-confidence to play a leadership role.”
Full article in IPS here.

Indonesian woman gets 3 years for harboring terrorists

Putri Munawaroh during her trial in a court room in Jakarta on Thursday. She was sentenced to three years in jail.
Putri Munawaroh during her trial in a court room in
Jakarta on Thursday. She was sentenced to three years in jail.
 
Jakarta, Indonesia (CNN) -- An Indonesian woman was sentenced to three years in prison Thursday for aiding and harboring terrorists accused of suicide bombings and other attacks.

Putri Munawaroh was charged with harboring Noordin Top, the suspected mastermind of major strikes in Indonesia, and a few other suspected terrorists.

Top was killed in a standoff with police last September at a rented house that Munawaroh shared with her husband, Hadi Susilo. Top is believed to have orchestrated attacks on luxury hotels in Jakarta last July that left nine people dead, including two suicide bombers.

All of the men in the house were killed in the raid, including Munawaroh's husband -- who shielded his wife with his body.

Munawaroh was then pregnant with their first child. Munawaroh gave birth to a son, who's since lived with her in detention. She is one of the few women who've been tried for terrorism in Indonesia.

In a July 13 interview with CNN, at the South Jakarta District Court, Munawaroh insisted all she knew about one of her husband's house guests was that he was a cleric.

"My husband said once he finished his business, he would go. He wouldn't stay for long," Munawaroh said.

She says the guest, who turned out to be Top, came to their house near Solo, central Java, in June 2009. Two other men, also suspected terrorists, arrived at a later date, she said.

"As a wife, I was also blamed," she said. "The judges said I was helping those people. I wasn't involved in any bombings."

Experts said that while he was on the run, Noordin Top used his inner circle of militants, many with current or past affiliations with Southeast Asia's homegrown terror network, Jemaah Islamiyah or JI.

While many didn't agree with Top's methods, he benefited from his close associate's personal networks of JI family and friends.

"I'm accused of helping and hiding terrorists but all I did was to follow my husband. I was implicated because of my husband," said Munawaroh. "I survived then because it was God's will. If I died, I would've died a martyr. I didn't do anything wrong."

Her attorneys say they will appeal Munawaroh's conviction. It's unclear if her child will continue to live with her in jail.

PKFZ scandal: Ex-transport minister Ling charged

Aduan tatatertib pada sarjan 'peras ugut'

'Sign of more big fish to be hauled'

By FMT Staff
FULL REPORT KUALA LUMPUR: Opposition leaders today welcomed the decision to charge former MCA president Dr Ling Liong Sik, with DAP's Tony Pua stating that it indicated “more big fish” would be hauled to court.
"It's good to see the Attorney-General finally charge the big fish. This is the biggest corruption case in Malaysian history," he said.

"It's a sign that more big fish are coming," added the party's chief economist and Petaling Jaya Utara MP.

"This shows that the prosecution is more competent, especially when previous prosecutions have either botched or failed," he added.

This evening, Ling, the former transport minister, was charged with two counts of cheating in relation to the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal.

The 67-year-old former MCA boss, who could face a jail term if found convicted, pleaded not guilty to both charges.

Meanwhile, Pua, who noted that other high-profile figures were involved, said: "Ling cannot be acting alone."

Asked if he had expected the news, he said: "No, it's a surprise, and a sign of a positive prosecution."

He also agreed when asked if the latest development was a sign that the general election was around the corner.

“You spotted the right question, well done,” he said, without elaborating.

Can of worms

Meanwhile, PAS research head Dzulkefly Ahmad, who also welcomed the move to charge Ling, however, reminded Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak that it would not have a bearing on the next election.

“If Najib thinks that by bringing Ling to justice will shore up support for himself and Barisan Nasional, he must be reminded of his own baggage that is hanging over his head,” he said.

“He can call for a general election soon if he believes in his own illusion,” he added.

The PAS leader also said that Ling's trial could open up a can of worms for the ruling coalition.

“We must remember that PKFZ was an Umno-MCA project. By charging him, he will reveal how corrupt the BN government is. All the ones involved should not be allowed to get away scot-free,” he said, calling it a “good start”.

In an another immediate reaction, PKR vice-president Azmin Ali also lauded the move, saying however that Ling should be given a fair trial to defend himself.

"As a matter of principle, though, we would also like to see action taken against those responsible, without fear or favour, to protect the rights of the people," he told FMT.

Although the latest move has raised speculation that Ling may be made a scapegoat, the Gombak MP disagreed, saying Ling "was instrumental in the project".

"He is not a scapegoat. In fact, before his departure from his ministry, he signed a letter of support for this particular project which was used as a collateral by the government.

"I think he must be responsible for it as he was a Cabinet minister representing the government," he said.

He, however, refused to speculate how many more “big fish” will be brought to court over the multi-billion scandal.

"We do not want to speculate but the investigation has taken a long time and I am sure the Attorney-General's Chambers will bring those responsible to court to face the music," said Azmin.
Public interest must be protected
Meanwhile, former MCA president Ong Tee Keat said that no one should be above the law, even if it involved his party senior like Ling.

"The law must be upheld and no one should be above it," he said, adding, however, that he was not interested in specific personalities.

"My only hope is that the interests of the general public, especially the taxpayers, are protected," he told reporters after speaking at 15th Malaysian Law Conference in Kuala Lumpur.

Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin described the move (to prosecute Ling) as "bold" and "proactive" but said Ling and the prosecutor should be given an opportunity in court.

"(But) the question of the bond payment has to be answered," he said in in his Twitter.

Stunned PAC chief: We never saw him as a culprit

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid - Free Malaysia Today,

KUALA LUMPUR: Public Accounts Committee (PAC) chairman Azmi Khalid said that former transport minister Dr Ling Liong Sik, who was charged over his role in the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal today, was never identified as a culprit by the committee.

"It is unfortunate to hear this. I am quite surprised. We never identified him (as a perpetrator). We just called him for clarification," he told FMT in an immediate reaction to the news.

The 67-year-old medical doctor-turned-politician pleaded not guilty to two charges under Section 417 and 418 of the Penal Code for cheating.

The PKFZ project was introduced during his tenure as transport minister and the cost of the project, initially estimated at less than RM2 billion, ballooned to RM4.6 billion by 2007.

Sessions Court judge Suzana Hussin then set bail at RM1 million and mention was fixed for Sept 3.

Legal action against Ling, the former MCA president, could have negative implications on the second biggest component party in Barisan Nasional which is struggling to regain lost Chinese support.

Opposition leaders, particularly DAP's Lim Kit Siang, have long called for a probe on Ling but the authorities have been slow to react.
PAC, which probed the PKFZ scandal, had summoned Ling to facilitate investigations.
'Mother of all scandals'

Azmi said the former MCA supremo, who issued the support letters instructing the PKFZ project to be given to turnkey contractor KDSB Sdn Bhd, was never considered a culprit.

"It is unfortunate that (Ling has been charged)... he is my senior colleague," said the former minister.

"Whatever it is, the prosecution is the result of police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigation," he added.

Azmi, PAC, the MACC and the police have been under severe pressure to net the "big fish" involved in what is considered by opposition leaders as the "mother of all scandals".

Charging Ling would help neutralise the accusations that Najib's administration lacked the political will to arrest influential figures involved in corruption.

Perak Pakatan slams Zambry for record deficit

Zambry was accused of frittering away Perak’s funds and landing the state in the red. — file pic

KUALA LUMPUR, July 29 — Perak Pakatan Rakyat (PR) accused the Barisan Nasional (BN) state government today of recklessly emptying the state’s coffers, claiming Perak was headed towards financial ruin with a record budget deficit of RM104 million this year.

Sitiawan assemblyman Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham slammed the BN state administration for its plan to table a RM80 million supplementary budget during the Perak assembly next Tuesday, saying the request for additional funds only proved the administration’s inefficiency.

The former senior state executive councillor claimed that the BN administration, in its short rule under Mentri Besar Datuk Dr Zambry Abd Kadir, had ruined the hard work of its predecessors.

“PR’s 10-month rule saw Perak’s revenue touch a historic high with an additional RM103 million.

“Ten months of BN’s rule sees Perak facing its highest deficit in history, with RM104 Million in deficit.

“The request by the BN government for an additional RM80 million proves PR governs the state better than the BN,” he claimed in a statement today.

Ngeh cast aspersions on the mentri besar’s financial management.
Ngeh said that before PR helmed the state in 2008, the previous BN government had presented a deficit budget of RM39,998,870 for 2008.

“When we took over, we collected an additional revenue of RM103 million without increasing any form of taxes or charges on the people. Therefore, there was a surplus amount of about RM63 million in 2008,” he said.

He noted that to be prudent, the PR state government presented a budget with a reduced deficit of RM25 million for 2009.

Last year, the new BN government further reduced the deficit to RM23,890,000 when it tabled the 2010 budget.

“But as expect with its corrupt and non-transparent administration, the BN government chalked up additional expenditure and it is now asking the state assembly to approve another RM80 million for its administration.

“In the circumstances, the BN government is expected to register RM103,890,000 in deficit for 2010, which is the highest in Perak history,” he said.

Ngeh alleged that BN had squandered away the state’s revenue on useless frivolities that only benefitted its cronies.

He cited the example of how the Zambry had created posts for three advisors to the state government and one information officer, and allotted them salaries and benefits equivalent to those of the state executive councillors.

The three are former Jalong assemblyman Datuk Chang Ko Youn as advisor for Chinese affairs, former Sungkai assemblyman Datuk S. Veerasingam as advisor for Indian affairs, Batu Kurau assemblyman Captain (rtd) Najmuddin Elias Al-Hafiz as advisor for Islamic affairs, and Pengkalan Baru assemblyman Datuk Hamdi Abu Bakar as the information chief.

“Why does the government need to pay Chang and Veerasingam as state advisors with exco pays and benefits? Is Zambry, the BN mentri besar, admitting that he is not competent to govern the state or is he just trying to benefit BN candidates who have lost in the elections?

“These are public funds and not his personal money,” he said.

Ngeh further accused Zambry of attempting to garner personal support by plastering thousands of promotional posters of him across the state.

“The government also announced [it was] giving RM50,000 to each MCA division. We believe that the government is secretly doing the same for Umno divisions.

“They also wasted state funds to promote the BN government by advertising in the media and sending ‘Teachers’ Day’ cards every teacher,” he claimed.

Ngeh called on Zambry to itemise his proposal for the RM80 million supplementary budget and list down what the money would be used for.

“The people have the right to know the details to ensure that it does not go to dubious projects,” he said.

He also urged the BN government to practice open tenders for government projects and the award timber concessions.

“This has proven to bring in a huge increase of revenue to the state,” he said.

Another former state executive councillor, Nga Kor Ming, said Zambry should resign for his incompetency in handling state funds.

“If he still has some moral values with him and before more damage is done to our beloved state, Zambry should resign and dissolve the assembly,” he said in a statement.

The Pantai Remis assemblyman added that if the assembly approved the supplementary supply bill for RM80 million, Perak’s deficit would reach 14.2 per cent of its budget, which is three times worse than the federal government’s 5.6 per cent and 4.3 times worse than the 3.3 per cent international benchmark fixed by the European Union for sustainable development.

Dato' Zaid Ibrahim interview in Sarawak

Rakyat benci ISA. Mansuhkan sahaja. Tak payah pinda

UPDATE : Details of the venue for the vigil in the other states are as follows :
PENANG : at Speakers Square. For details, call Jing Cheng @ 012-7583779
PERAK : at Dataran Bandaraya Ipoh. For details, call Dr Kumar @ 019-5616807
KEDAH : at Dataran Zero KM, Sg Petani. For details, call Simon Ooi @ 012- 4202264
KELANTAN : at Taman Hijau, Jalan Sultanah Zainab ( after Merdeka field ). For details, call Zaidi @ 012-3840415
SEREMBAN : at Dataran Seremban. For details, call Veron @ 016-6687900
SIBU : No.25, Pusat Tanah Wang, Jalan Perdada, 96000 Sibu, Sarawak. For details, call George @ 019-8873535
Kuching : at Lots 468-469, Bangunan Al Idrus Commercial Centre, Jalan Satok, 93400 Kuching. For details, call See Chee How @ 019-8886509 or Zulkifli @ 013-8958174
_______________________________________________________
This Sunday, 1st August, 2010, many of us will meet in solidarity at 8pm at the Selangor Dataran MBPJ ( Padang Timur ) to light a candle and renew our call to repeal the ISA.
In 2008, when our beloved RPK was taken to Kamunting, many of us met here in solidarity , calling for his and every detainees release, and for the repeal of this draconian and much abused law.
Last year, on 1st August, thousands thronged the streets of KL calling for the end to this law.
Join us in sending a message to the government that the rakyat have had enough of the ISA.
See you there.
Details of the vigil can be found on Facebook HERE.

THE FREE MARKET 2


1. When I wrote about the free market, I was not thinking of wanting to make money from the United States. It is good if we can but without the US market Malaysian palm oil is doing extremely well.

2. I just wanted to show the hypocrisy of America. We do not go around the world preaching free market, so if we are not so free as alleged, we are not being hypocritical. I had always been sceptical of ideas coming from the rich. They are all self-serving.

3. They preach and fiercely demand that all Governments stop regulating their trade. Yet they are the ones most guilty of protecting their trade.

4. In fact the US has gone beyond that. Trade is to them a political instrument for the promotion of their agenda for the world. By applying sanctions in trade they will try to force countries to submit to their policies. If a country does not support their sanction they have means of squeezing companies or banks from that country.

5. Sanctions is denial of free trade in totality and in Iraq before the 2003 invasion it caused the deaths of 500,000 children. That is how far the abuse of free trade is indulged in by the US. But they talk all the time that trade must be free. If this is not hypocrisy, then what is hypocrisy?

6. Incidentally they talk much about democracy i.e. the freedom to choose one's own Government. But they have no hesitation about warring and killing hundreds of thousands of Iraqis in order to force them to accept democracy. Is this the free choice as advocated by democracy?

7. Is there democracy in the United Nations where one country can negate the will of 190 other member countries? Yet this same country talks so much about democracy and the good that democracy will bring. Practise first, then talk.

8. In my time I had often enough said that Malaysia was not and did not aspire to be a liberal democracy. And when we did things which did not seem to be in keeping with liberal democracy it is because we did not promise to be a liberal democracy.

EDUCATION

9. Some have asked me to comment on our education policy. While we have concentrated on making education available to almost everyone, the quality of education is obviously in need of improving.

10. It is not having examination which is wrong. It is the kind of examination we conduct which is wrong. We need to study the kind of examination and improve it rather than simply abolishing examinations.

Who pays our political parties?

By Ding Jo-Ann | 29 July 2010 | The Nut Graph

EVER wondered where political parties get their money? And what they use it for? While skeptics may think that political parties just use their money for handouts and bribes, in fact, they also legitimately need money to carry out proper functions.
For example, political parties need to maintain their party machinery, conduct voter education and identify and train new candidates. During elections, they legitimately need to run operation centres, publish advertisements, print banners, hold public events, and incur other miscellaneous expenses such as transportation and accommodation.
Malaysian political parties, however, receive no state funding, unlike in other countries such as South Africa and Germany. There are also no requirements for political parties in Malaysia to declare their sources of funding. This means political parties are mostly left to their own devices to look for sufficient financing. With this in mind, how have Malaysian political parties been funding themselves, and how has the financing of parties influenced the political landscape?
Rich parties, poor parties
Political parties such as Umno traditionally relied on membership fees and donations from private individuals, as documented in Transparency International (TI)-Malaysia’s new book Reforming Political Financing in Malaysia, launched in May 2010. Over the years, however, Umno became more reliant on its investments and its business interests through ownership of corporations and shares.
TI’s book describes how Umno’s membership base changed considerably over the years. “In its early years, about half the members were teachers and another quarter was from the civil service,” it said. “However, by 1987, the number of teachers had been reduced to about a fifth of the membership, and the majority is now made up of business [figures], entrepreneurs and corporate figures.”
Tengku Razaleigh
Tengku Razaleigh (Wiki commons)
Former Umno treasurer Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah revealed to TI that Umno was initially receiving funds from coalition partner MCA, which was then more connected to the business world. Razaleigh recounted how he was tasked with finding investments for Umno to ensure the party’s financial independence. He also acknowledged the existence of a covert Umno political fund which academic Barry Wain said was worth RM88.6 million in 1984.
Umno’s assets have grown considerably since then. Former Umno president and Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad told TI that when he stepped down in 2004, he handed his predecessor Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi RM1.4 billion worth of property, shares and cash.
TI also interviewed current MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek, who said the MCA profited from The Star, which contributes about RM50 to RM60 million annually to the party’s income. TI estimates the MCA’s current assets to amount to about RM2 billion.
“No money to invest”
TI also interviewed Pakatan Rakyat members, who painted a rather contrasting picture. When asked about the party’s investment, DAP national publicity secretary Tony Pua answered thus: “The only thing close to commercial that DAP does is own properties … in some cases they are rented out so there are some rental incomes here and there. It is marginal … We don’t have anything to invest. There is no money to invest, so we don’t have ventures.”
PAS’s Kamarudin Jaafar also said the party had no business venture or any corporate enterprise. “If we have properties, it is for our own use,” he said.
TI’s research indicates that Pakatan Rakyat parties still depend largely on grassroots support. They raise funds through a combination of membership fees, fundraising dinners, donations, publications and forums. Additionally, the DAP’s elected representatives are required to contribute a portion of their official allowance to the party coffers.
'How money can influence politics', from TI's book; Chapter One: Introduction, page 23 (Click on image for full view)
'How money can influence politics', from TI's book: Chapter One: Introduction, page 23 (Click on image for full view)
Broader phenomenon
So how did Umno, the MCA and other BN parties such as Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu Sarawak (PBB) accumulate so many assets compared with their comparatively impoverished Pakatan Rakyat compatriots?
TI says that money politics goes beyond buying votes during elections and is actually a much broader phenomenon. It documents how Umno, the MCA and MIC were all heavily involved in business, creating abundant opportunities to “[strengthen] the nexus between politics and corrupt money.”
“Business[people] or wealthy individuals with vested interests are eager to give money to politicians in return for securing business favours,” the TI book says. Moreover, it continues, the fact that contributions can be made covertly allows vested interests to control political parties and exert undue pressure on public policies.
As the cost of political campaigns and party activities increases with rising inflation and a growing population, having adequate funding becomes crucial in determining who will emerge victorious in an election. In such an environment, the pressure on PR state governments to use whatever connections and resources to help increase party funding must be intense.
The way forward
What changes must be instituted if we are to prevent money politics from swallowing Malaysian democracy whole?
TI’s book gives 22 helpful recommendations, a few of which are summarised below.
Require all political parties to disclose sources of financing and expenditure
The public should be given complete access to political party accounts. Individual and corporate donations should all be subject to scrutiny to determine whether the government is favouring its big donors in the awarding of projects.
Limit the amount of money an individual can donate
In the UK, a cap of £50,000 on individual donations was proposed. The rationale is that this will decrease the possibility of political parties becoming beholden to wealthy individuals or organisations. This should also push political parties to solicit funds from a wider, more democratic base.
Introduce direct state funding for political parties to finance their activities
The assumption is that once public money is involved, accountability will increase. State funding also levels the playing field by ensuring that not only the wealthy and well-connected can contest in elections. Funding can also be provided in kind.
In the UK, for example, parties get free air-time on state-owned media. The opposition also requires funding for administration costs to level the playing field since the government has the publicly funded civil service to help them.
Empower the Election Commission (EC)
At the moment, the EC only has limited powers to scrutinise election expenses. It should be made truly independent of the ruling party and be given qualified personnel such as accountants to audit and verify the election expenses accounts submitted by representatives.
These are just four baby steps, which, if implemented, would already take us a long way towards better transparency and accountability in political financing than what we have now. Political parties on both sides, however, may not have the impetus to push for these reforms as it may cut off important streams of income for them. The task of calling for these reforms is therefore up to us, the electorate.
Otherwise, as Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim once said in relation to the Umno elections, if money politics takes further hold, it might be better to just have a tender system so that anyone who contributes the highest amount can be a leader.

Nazir Lebih Tahu Mengapa FDI Penting Untuk Najib.

Oleh YB Dr.Dzulkefly Ahmad, MP Kuala Selangor

Saya ditanya oleh pihak media mengapalah FDI begitu penting sangat untuk Malaysia dalam situasi kini, sejurus selepas penglibatan saya dalam Forum Ekonomi Negeri Selangor sempena Majlis Dialog Bejt 2011. Saya cuba rumuskan di sini jawapan tersebut untuk pengetahuan umum.

Benar, mengikut Laporan Pelaburan Dunia (WIR, 2009), yang diterbitkan baru baru ini oleh Perdagangan dan Pelaburan Pertubuhan Bangsa-bangsa Bersatu (UNCTAD) telah mengesahkan bahawa pelaburan asing langsung (FDI) Malaysia merosot 81 peratus kepada US$1.38 bilion (RM4.43 bilion) pada 2009 daripada US$7.32 bilion (RM23.47 bilion) pada 2008.

Meskipun negara-negara ASEAN juga mengalami penurunan kemasukan FDI, ternyata tidaklah separah Malaysia. Thailand mendapat pelaburan sebanyak US$4.44 atau RM14.24 bilion sementara Indonesia sebanyak US$2.60 billion atau RM8.32 billion sekaligus meletakkan Malasyia, antara negara tercorot sebagai negara pilihan pelaburan pelabur asing langsung bersama dengan Cambodia, Brunei dan Timor-Leste. Vietnam juga mendahului kita sekarang ini.Keadaan menjadi lebih buruk lagi tatkala diperhatikan bahawa bukan sahaja kemasukan FDI menjunam, pengaliran keluar dana tempatan adalah juga yang terbesar berbanding semua negara ASEAN sebanyak RM25.77 bilion.

Apakah makna semua ini? Mengapa FDI faktor penting dalam ekonomi negara?

Jawapannya mudah. Ketika negara tidak mampu lagi melakukan perbelanjaan besar (G-factor, termasuk mengepam ekonomi atau pump-priming)) kerana telah terbeban dengan hutang awam (kerajaan) sehingga ke paras 52.6% dari KDNK (RM362bilion), maka pertumbuhan negara mesti dipacu oleh pelaburan pihak swasta.

Pihak pelaburan swasta ada dua komponen. Satu pelaburan tempatan dan kedua pihak luar. Kini apa yang kita tahu ialah bukan sahaja dari luar kurang masuk (FDI) dari dalam pun banyak yang keluar. Antara lain ini bermaksud, keyakinan terhadap negara sebagai destinasi pelaburan yang baik, belum pulih.

Apabila ini berlaku ia membawa dua kesan besar. Satu, kesan pada pertumbuhan. Kerana kekurangan dana untuk memacu kegiatan ekonomi dan pelaburan dalam pelbagai bidang khsususnya pembuatan dan perkhidmatan, maka pertumbuhan 6% yang disasar tidak akan dapat dipacu. Keadaan akan menjadu lebih buruk apabila permintaan global dan serantau merosot kerana akan menjejaskan faktor Ekspot dalam KDNK.

Lebih parah lagi kalau sentimen pengguna juga turut terjejas. Terkini laporan MIER (Malaysian Institute of Economic Reserach) turut menunjukkan bahawa indeks sentimen pengguna merosot. Faktor Penggunaan (Consumption) akan turut memberi kesan negatif terhadap pertumbuhan. Penarikan subsidi terkini bahkan pengenalan GST nanti, tentunya akan memburukkan faktor Perbelanjaan khususnya ketika tercetusnya inflasi.

Apabila sasaran 6% pertumbuhan gagal dicapai, ini meninggalkan kesan lansung secara negatif kepada usaha untuk menjana pendapatan per kapita yang tinggi seperti yang diharapkan PM. Situasi ini jelas adalah tidak selesa sama-sekali untuk Najib bahkan ini mencemaskan dan berpotensi menyebabkan kesemua ’target-makro’ dalam RMK-10 tersasar.

Oleh kerana Malaysia adalah sebuah model ekonomi terbuka yang kecil (KDNK sebanyak ~RM700 bilion) serta bergantung kepada kegiatan ekspot maka menghasilkan barangan ekspot yang bernilai-tambah tinggi adalah penting untuk mengekalkan dayasaing negara.

Lain kiranya kalau kita mampu memacu pertumbuhan secara permintaan dan dana domestik seperti negara negara Scandinavia yang punya ekonomi kecil seperti Denmark, Norway atau Sweden yang mampu memacu pertumbuhan ekonomi dengan permintaan domestik.

Untuk memenuhi matlamat pertumbuhan negara, dana untuk pelaburan adalah cukup kritikal. Dana itu datang dari luar(FDI) atau dari pelabur tempatan. Kedua-dua ini mengikut laporan UNCTAD ini jelas merosot.

Itulah sebabnya pimpinan Najib dan BN mesti melihat apakah faktor-faktor yang menyebabkan situasi ini berlaku ataukah kita akan kekal dalam penafian seperti yang ditanggapi umum oleh kenyataan adik Najib, DS Nazir Razak, boss atau CEO CIMB itu, sebuah Investment Bank yang terulung di negara ini yang banyak mendapat habuan besar dari kegiatan kewangan korporat seperti M&A, IPO, terbitan Bon dan Sukuk dsbnya.

Sementara saya memahami apa yang beliau maksudkan dengan ‘quality investment’ dan ‘timing’nya, namun komentarnya itu tidak dapat menyangkal bahawa Malaysia, sebagai destinasi pelaburan, sudah tidak lagi berada dalam ‘radar utama pelabur’ asing dan juga tempatan.

Ada dua bentuk pelaburan asing; satu FDI dan kedua pelaburan ‘Portfolio’ dalam Bursa Malaysia. Kedua-dua penting. Yang lebih penting ialah FDI melalui Syarikat Multi-Nasional (MNCs) kerana ianya bersifat jangka-jauh dan terkadangkali membawa perpindahan teknologi disamping menjana pekerjaan.

Namun portfolio atau ‘hot-money’ juga penting dalam Pasaran Saham. Ia berperanan mengagihkan dana untuk syarikat-syarikat tersenarai (PLCs) untuk membuat pengembangan bisnes dan juga R&D&C dengan suntikan dana yang dilabur oleh pengurus-pengurus dana. Malangnya aliran masuk dana ke dalam Pasaran Saham juga muram dan akhirnya pelabur institusi tempatan juga yang melabur seperti KWSP, Tabung Haji, KWAP, LTAT dsbnya.

Tidak dapat dielakkan komentar Nazir semacam mahu membela abangnya. Ia agak tampak tak kena atau misplaced, dengan izin.

Call for reports of the PKFZ scandal “super taskforce” to be made public to account for actions taken by Najib administration in past year

By Lim Kit Siang,

The decision by the Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha to override the decision of the Port Klang Authority (PKA) and direct it to pay its Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) bond obligation of RM222.58 million to Freezone Capital Bhd (FZCB) is another proof that his topmost concern and those of the Najib Cabinet is to bail out the PKFZ turnkey contractor Kuala Dimensi Sdn. Bhd (KDSB) rather than to do justice to the 27 million Malaysian people in the RM12.5 billion PKFZ scandal.

The PKA Board had acted properly in expressing reservations on the payment of RM222.58 million to KDSB’s special purpose vehicle, FZCB, because of an RM1.4 billion ongoing suit and considering withholding payment because of its worry that it may not be able to recover funds from KDSB.

Kong’s decision is all the more deplorable as it has now been revealed that KDSB had given undertakings that it will cover any shortfall in bond repayments should PKA fail to do so, making it KDSB’s problem and not that of Malaysian taxpayers.

It has been a full year since the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced the formation of a 11-member PKFZ “super taskforce” headed by the Chief Secretary Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan which, among other things, would determine the type of misconduct or criminal element on the part of individuals or entities involved in the project and recommend actions to be taken against them.

However, action on this front in the past year had been minimal, apart from the prosecution of four mid-level officials.

Not a single “big fish” had been arrested although there is hot buzz on the grapevine that “a big fish” would be hauled into court today.

The PKFZ “super task force” is also entrusted with recommending measures to improve governance as well as PKFZ’s management; assess PKA and PKFZ’s financial situation, prepare a restructuring plan for the PKFZ, formulate business models for the PKA and PKFZ, and recommend strategic plans to attract local and foreign investors.

Although the PKFZ “super taskforce” is required to submit reports to the government within six months and from time to time, nothing is known about its activities and reports.

The time has come for all the reports of the PKFZ “super taskforce” to be made public to account for actions taken by Najib administration on the RM12.5 billion PKFZ scandal in the past year.