Saturday, April 28, 2012

Muhyiddin and Dodgy Education Surveys

On 30 March 2012, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin pronounced Malaysia as having better quality of education than United States (US), Britain and Germany.  He based his statement on one partial study in the World Competitiveness Report by World Economic Forum (WEF) on quality of education. In that specific study, Malaysia was ranked 14th as opposed to Germany (17th), Britain (20th) and United States (26th).

However the above "rankings" were arrived by surveying 87 local businessmen with the question: "How well does the educational system in your country meet the needs of a competitive economy?" by rating it between a scale of 1 to 7.

This particular survey question was never intended by the WEF, nor is it in any way adequate to provide conclusive ratings on the quality of the Malaysian education system.  However, the Education Minister, who is also our Deputy Prime Minister clutched at the straw to declare proudly that we have indeed performed better than Germany, Britain and the United States.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin has repeated the stunt 3 days ago when he cited a recent survey by Introspek Asia, which revealed yesterday that 55 per cent of Malaysian adults believe that our education system is comparable to other countries, while 35 per cent said it is “better than that of developed countries”.

Once again, when we peel through the “surface” conclusions of the survey, it became crystal clear that the survey is again fundamentally deficient in measuring the quality of our education.

After studying the survey in detail, which can be downloaded at, we can arrive at the conclusion that the results are pretty much meaningless because of the sample used for the survey.

The survey had 1,800 respondents, of which only 4.8% had qualifications of a university degree or more.  On the other hand, 85.3% of these respondents had either SPM qualifications or less.  Without prejudice to those who were unable to secure tertiary education due to circumstances beyond their control, this is perhaps the most inappropriate sample structure to ask about our Malaysian education system, if the intent was to have a measure of its quality.

Perhaps what is worse is, less than 5% of the sample has had no experience or even in-depth knowledge of education systems in developed countries.  Hence the outcome of the survey as to whether “Malaysian adults agree that our education standard are comparable, better or much better than developed countries” is at best a trivia to analyse how Malaysians are shut off from the real world out there.

Ironically, the income status of the respondents – with 73.2% earning less than RM3,000 per month in itself proved the inadequacy of our education system to enable them to earn a higher income.

In essence, Tan Sri Muhyiddin is relying on the opinions of those who didn’t get very far with their education to measure the standard of Malaysian education against those of developed countries.  And the Education Minister used the result to boast about the achievements of his Ministry.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin has chosen to ignore the latest Performance for International Students Assessments (PISA) study conducted in 2010 showed that we are ranked in the bottom third in the world, as well as the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) data over 1999, 2003 and 2007 which proved that the standards in education has been declining drastically over the past decade.
Tan Sri Muhyiddin’s complete lack of ability to understand simple surveys, the context of their conclusions and implications proves how unfit he is to become our Education Minister.  By choosing to ignore reality or failing to grasp the significance of survey results, we fear that our education system will be led into a cycle of perpetual decline that will cause irreparable damage to the future quality, productivity and earnings ability of our Malaysian students.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Muhyiddin Most Blinkered to Think Malaysian Education as "Highly Regarded"

After being ridiculed two weeks ago for claiming that Malaysia has a better education system than Britain, the United States and Germany, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has continued to give lavish praise on the Malaysian education system.

The Education Minister cited a recent survey by Introspek Asia, which revealed yesterday that 55 per cent of Malaysian adults believe that our education system is comparable to other countries, while 35 per cent said it is “better than that of developed countries”.

“This finding is interesting as it reflects a positive attitude among a majority of Malaysians toward our education system,” he said today in his keynote address at the Asian Strategy and Learning Institute’s (ASLI) 16th Malaysian Education Summit here.

This is despite the fact that PEMANDU has accepted the fact that our education system clearly lags behind most other countries.  Tengku Nurul Azian, the Education National Key Result Area (NKRA) Director has highlighted that based on the Programme for International Students Assessment (PISA) 2009+ study, Malaysian students were ranked in the bottom 30% when tested against students of 74 countries around the world on BFM89.9 yesterday evening.

In terms of reading literacy, we were ranked a poor 55th.  In Mathematics literacy, it was 57th and faring only marginally better in Science at 52nd.

The Deputy Prime Minister has intentionally chosen to ignore the above study, but also another more comprehensive study which proved that the standard of education outcome has continuously declined over the past decade.

In probably the world’s most comprehensive study on student performance (13-14 years old) and related factors for Mathematics and Science – Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS), the results in 1999, 2003 and 2007 showed a drastic decline in scores and rankings.

Between 2003 and 2007, Malaysia’s score for Mathematics declined from 508 to 474 points.  The 34 point drop was the highest suffered by the 60 countries studied. By comparing 2007 with 1999, our drop in score of 45 points was also the 2nd highest in the study.

Similarly for Science, Malaysia’s score dropped the highest by 40 points from 510 to 471 from 2003 to 2007.  From 1999 to 2007, we suffered a drop of 22 points, which was the second highest of all countries studied.

While the latest PISA study conducted in 2010 showed that we are ranked lowly in the world, the TIMMS data over 1999, 2003 and 2007 proved that the standards in education has been declining consistently and drastically over the past decade.  The next TIMSS report for 2011 is expected to be published later this year and we can only hope against hope that there will no longer be any bad news.

Instead of sounding the alarm bells and take urgent actions to arrest the decline in our education standards, Tan Sri Muhyiddin has chosen to lavish praise on our outstanding education system as an example of the Barisan Nasional government’s impeccable leadership.  This clearly demonstrate that our Education Minister is completely blinkered and chooses only to believe and rely on highly questionable survey reports.  If he continues to remain blinkered as he has over the past two weeks, then perhaps it is better that the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak will find a better replacement Minister.

We call upon Tan Sri Muhyiddin to provide his views on the above internationally accredited studies on our quality of education and to publish all recommendations by PEMANDU to his Ministry to ensure all recommended measures have been or are being implemented.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

UUCA Amendments Proved Meaningless

A student from Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UNIMAP) has been slapped with a 66-day academic suspension and RM100 fine for supposedly organising a programme to raise awareness of voting, allegedly linked with pro-opposition groups.

Mohd Zaini Izuwan (left), 25, said he was accused for organising the program at a restaurant in Kangar on Jan 13 which involved 14 student groups from Perlis, Kedah and Penang.  The program, named ‘Watch 13', is an initiative by the student coalition to raise public awareness of the importance of voting in the coming general election.

Mohd Zaini has protested his innocence that he was at the event as an observer and not an organiser.  He also complained that he was not allowed to bring any witnesses or to question the “prosecution” witnesses during the disciplinary hearing.

The above incident reported on 21 April, just 2 days after the Universities and University Colleges Act 1972 was “amended” to give students greater freedom proves beyond doubt the lack of genuine intent at reform by the Barisan Nasional government.  It also exposed how the amendments fell far short of what is required to give Malaysians students the necessary room to express themselves freely.

While the new Amendment Bill has taken the step forward by allowing students to join political parties, the new Act will still give absolute discretion to the University authorities to determine activities and societies deemed “detrimental” to the interest of the institution.

For example, Clause 15(2)(b) the amended UUCA Bill says explicitly that university students will not be allowed to join any organisations, societies or groups of persons (with the exception of political parties) deemed inappropriate by the University Board.

In addition, Clause 15(4)(b) also allows the university to deny the rights of its students to speak, even on his or her subject of study, in any symposium or seminar organised by any organisation or person(s) deemed inappropriate by the University.

I had moved a motion to make the relevant amendments to the above clauses in Parliament but was rejected by the Minister of Higher Education and the Barisan Nasional Members of Parliament.  The Minister had given an assurance that the new amendments will not be abused and that the Universities are sufficiently enlightened to use their discretions over the above matters.

However, as shown clearly over the above unjustified actions of UNIMAP, even if Mohd Zaini had indeed organised the event to “raise public awareness of the importance of voting” – which he has denied, the new amendments fell far short of granting academic and political freedom to the university students.

We call upon the Datuk Khaled Nordin to reprimand the UNIMAP authorities for taking such harsh and unjustified actions against a student of the university who did not commit any wrong against the institution.  At the same time, we call upon the Minister to immediately lift Mohd Zaini’s suspension to prove that he was sincere in his objective to make Malaysian universities premier institutions of holistic learning and not centres for thought imprisonment.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Port Klang Authority Covers Up for Minister

Port Klang Authority (PKA) Chairman Datuk Teh Kim Poh had called for a press conference on Friday 20 April in an attempt to absolve the current PKA board as well as the Minister of Transport Dato’ Seri Kong Cho Ha from blame over the recent criticism they faced.

Datuk Teh had during the press conference emphasized that the previous payments of RM660 million in 2009 and 2010 respectively to Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd (KDSB) bondholders were made and approved by the then PKA chairman Datuk Lee Hwa Beng, and was a continuation of the policies of Dato’ Seri Ong Tee Keat who was the Transport Minister in 2009.

He had further emphasized during the press conference that the current Transport Minister Dato’ Seri Kong Cho Ha did not at any point of time overturn any decision by the PKA to not pay KDSB’s debt.

Datuk Teh must be either completely clueless about what had happened in 2009 and 2010 or he is just lying through his teeth to protect the boss, Dato’ Seri Kong Cho Ha who appointed him to his current position.

It has been widely reported in all press on 28 July 2010 that Dato’ Seri Kong Cho Ha has demanded that PKA make the relevant payments to KDSB bondholder.  The Sun for example reported that “Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha today used his ministerial power to override yesterday's decision by the Port Klang Authority (PKA) to refuse to make the final payment of RM222.58 million to a special purpose vehicle (SPV) set up by Port Klang Free Zone turnkey contractor Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd (KDSB) to raise funds from the market.”

The report further added that “when met after the MCA presidential council today, Kong said: ‘We will pay according to what has been decided much earlier; according to the schedule that was set a long time ago. I will talk to them (PKA).’”

Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha had then refused to consider various suggestions to hold the payments due in escrow, to be made to the rightful parties only after the court case has been concluded.  Such recklessness can only be interpreted as an attempt to bail out KDSB from its predicament when its bondholders exercises the undertaking which has been issued by KDSB, where KDSB will be forced to make the hundreds of millions in outstanding bond repayments.

Hence Datuk Teh Kim Poh was clearly attempting to cover up for his boss with his lies by placing the blame on his predecessor. Instead of repeating his willingness to swear over the issue, I challenge Datuk Teh Kim Poh as well or Dato’ Seri Kong Cho Ha to make publicly available all PKA minutes of meetings pertaining to the above payments in 2009 and 2010 to prove that it was not the latter who overturned the payment decisions.

Based on Datuk Teh’s performance during the press conference where it was made obvious to anyone who watched it that he was completely incompetent and clueless over what was really going on in PKA and PKFZ, any sworn statements by him will carry very little value.  He did not even know the number of legal cases PKA has against KDSB, despite them carrying some RM1.6 billion in value.

If the minutes of meetings in PKA indeed proved that it was Dato’ Seri Ong Tee Keat and Datuk Lee Hwa Beng who approved the payments to KDSB bondholders, then surely there will be nothing to lose and all to gain with the public disclosure of the PKA meeting minutes.  In fact I would like to see Datuk Teh prove Dato’ Seri Ong Tee Keat wrong, when the latter claimed that it was the then Finance Minister, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak who overturned his decision not to pay the KDSB bondholders in 2009.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

FokusPRU13: Pilihanraya Bersih

Anthony Loke, DAPSY Youth Chief and MP for Rasah speaks about the inadequate electoral reforms and the need for a free and fair election in Malaysia. Exclusive on Fokus PRU13 hosted by Hata Wahari.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

More "Get-Rich-Quick" Highways

On 26 January this year, Kumpulan Europlus Bhd disclosed to Bursa Malaysia that West Coast Expressway Sdn Bhd (“WCE”), a 80% subsidiary company of the Company, has received an approval letter dated 26 January 2012 from the Public Private Partnership Unit of the Prime Minister’s Department for WCE to undertake the Proposed Privatization of the Construction of the West Coast Expressway.

The Concession from Banting in Selangor to Taiping in Perak will cover a distance of 316km with an estimated project cost is RM7.07 billion.   The lucrative terms of the project included a concession period of 60 years; a “Government Support Loan” of RM2.24 billion at an interest rate of 4% per annum, and an interest subsidy, of up to 3% from commercial loans for a period of 22 years.  What’s more the land acquisition cost of up to RM980 million for the Project will be borne by the Government.

The term of the new Concession agreement with WCE is a far cry from the original terms awarded in May 2007.  However, because WCE had been unable to fulfil the terms and conditions of the original concession, these terms were re-negotiated.  The result was an increase of 134.5% from the original RM3.0 billion and an extension of the concession period from 33 to 60 years.  The soft loans and interest subsidies on commercial loans were all new sweeteners added to the agreement terms to ensure a lucrative project for the concessionaire.

In fact the anticipation and ultimate award of this concession has caused Europlus stock price to leap from a low of 88 sen in September to a high of RM1.36 after the above announcement in January.  Today the stock is trading at RM1.24, still 41% above its lows last year.  The low stock price before the award of the highway concession was unsurprising, given that Europlus made RM50.8 million in losses on less than RM28 million of revenue for its financial year ending January 2011.

However, despite being the single largest shareholder of Europlus, Tan Sri Chan Ah Chye announced that he has resigned as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the company.  It was announced that “after working on the West Coast Expressway project for the last 16 years, now that the project has finally been awarded to Europlus’ 80%-owned subsidiary, West Coast Expressway Sdn Bhd, it is his desire to spend more time with his family and do things he has no time to do for the last so many years.”

The announcement came as a shock because it clearly signals the fact that Tan Sri Chan Ah Chye will soon be receiving a “golden handshake” for his 27.6% stake in the company, valued at RM178.1 million at current market prices.  There is no conceivable reason for him to resign from all positions in the company if he were to maintain his shareholdings.  I have received unconfirmed information that his shares will be acquired at more than 30% above the current market price amounting to approximately RM231 million.

The BN Government has once again chosen the fastest route to make instant multi-millionaires by awarding unbelievably lucrative concessions to its favourite business cronies.  By just securing the contract Tan Sri Chan Ah Chye has seen his wealth rise by leaps and bounds with an immediate exit in less than 3 months after the award before the construction works even commence.

We have seen how Tan Sri Abu Sahid Mohamed, the owner of Maju Expressways (MEX) made a killing by disposing of his interest in the highway for RM1.7 billion and netting a net profit of RM1.09 billion, despite having invested only RM60 million.  While the MEX was awarded by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed in 1997 (revised in 2003), the current concession is awarded by Dato’ Seri Najib Razak.  The current Prime Minister is obviously taking a leaf out of his predecessor’s play book, making a complete mockery of his clarion call for “economic transformation”.

We call upon the BN Government to stop making instant multi-million profits for its cronies by withdrawing the award of the WCE concession to Europlus and to conduct and open, transparent and competitive tender for the award of the project to ensure that only the best companies offering the lowest construction price and shortest concession period are given the contract.  Only then will the interest of tax-payers’ be protected and not fleeced like in all previous highway and privatisation contracts.

Friday, April 20, 2012

PKFZ: PKA Does Not Need to Pay KDSB

It was disclosed by former Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat that the Port Klang Authority (PKA) has continued to pay Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd (KDSB) bondholders despite the fact that PKA has filed RM1.6 billion worth of claims against KDSB for breaches of contract, particularly for making excessive, dubious and fraudulent claims, some of which was for works never commenced.  The last payment made was in June and July last year totally RM733.3 million.

PKA insisted yesterday it had paid holders of bonds issued by Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd (KDSB) to avoid breach of contract in light of on-going legal cases in the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal.

The defence is an outright lie because there is no contract term which requires payment by PKA to KDSB or its bondholders if the necessary construction works are not completed.  In fact it is the reverse, where a criminal breach of trust offence has been committed if PKA continued to make the relevant payments despite discovering that the works have not been executed or the claims were fraudulent!

It makes absolutely no sense for the Government to insist on making the payment when the Government itself disagrees that work has not been carried out.  The only possible reason for the PKA and the Minister of Transport, Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha to insist on making the payment is to protect KDSB.  This is to ensure that KDSB does not get into financial trouble with its bondholders.

This is because, as part of the bond agreement's security arrangements, KDSB has issued two letters of undertaking.  The first is for the construction, development and completion of the project on a turnkey basis; and the second, is to cover any shortfall in the amount payable by PKA vis-a-vis payment obligations under the bond after taking into account the credit balance in the Escrow Account.

KDSB has also granted a “Power of Attorney to [the bondholders] as security to ensure that the development works are completed pursuant to the terms and conditions of the agreements which can only be invoked and exercised by [the bondholders] upon KDSB having defaulted under the agreements.”

Based on the above letters and power of attorney, it basically means that should the Government fail to make payment for the project to the bondholders due to incomplete works, the bondholders will then demand from KDSB any shortfall in the amount payable by PKA, and on top of that undertake legal action against KDSB for failing to complete the project and for the bondholders to take over the development works of the project.

These actions will obviously mean substantial losses of profit by KDSB, a company owned by Barisan Nasional (BN) backbencher's chairman, Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing.

PKA’s claim also contradicts the advice from its legal advisors during the tenure of Datuk Lee Hwa Beng as its chairman who specifically advised withholding the payments to ensure maximum recoverability in the event of fraud proven.

Hence to avoid the above outcome, Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha has chosen to instruct PKA to make the payments which are “due” despite the on-going dispute and litigation, to ensure that one of the biggest beneficiaries of BN patronage projects remains an on-going concern.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Did Dr Mahathir Forget He Awarded the MEX Concession?

It was reported in newspapers on Wednesday that Dr Mahathir criticised the sale of Maju Expressway by concessionaire owner Tan Sri Abu Sahid Mohamed for essentially selling “what is not his” and making a huge killing in profits as a result.

Tan Sri Abu Sahid Mohamed who owns 96.8% of the highway has only effectively forked out RM60 million for the project, but with the proposed acquisition by EP Manufacturing Bhd (EPMB), he would effectively be making a NET profit of RM1.09 billion.  That works out to more than an astronomical 1,800% return on investment in less than 8 years since construction began in 2004 for MEX.

The rape of Malaysian tax-payers which made a billionaire out of Tan Sri Abu Sahid Mohamed on this exercise alone is simply outrageous and unacceptable because out of his “profit”, RM976.7 million was paid for by Malaysian tax-payers.  The grant hence constitutes 74% of the total cost of construction for the RM1.32 billion highway.

According to Dr Mahathir, the Maju Expressway sale appears to be an exercise of making money from government assistance and Tan Sri Abu Sahid Mohamed should explain himself to the public.  “You sell what is yours, you don’t sell what belongs to others. It could be as bad as selling APs,” Dr Mahathir told reporters, referring to the frowned upon practice of well-connected Bumiputera businessmen making quick profits from nothing more than selling import licences granted by the government.

Dr Mahathir’s argument is twisted and illogical on the simple basis that it was he himself who had awarded this lopsided concession agreement to Tan Sri Abu Sahid in 1997 and subsequent revised the agreement and terms of the concession in 2003 prior to his retirement.

Dr Mahathir did not offer a government loan amounting to RM976.7 million to Tan Sri Abu Sahid which will require repayment to the Government.  Dr Mahathir had instead given Maju Expressway a grant of the same amount from the tax-payer’s coffers which by definition, did not require any repayment by the concession.

Hence it is extremely rich, coming from our former prime minister to chastise Tan Sri Abu Sahid for making astronomical profits from the government concession, when it is in fact the Dr Mahathir who gave to him on a silver platter!

Whether Tan Sri Abu Sahid sells the concession valued at RM1.7 billion or decides to keep it for the remainder of the concession period ending 2037, he will still be making that ridiculous amount of profit in return for his tiny RM60 million investment.  In fact, if he were to keep the concession, he is expected to collect more than RM7.6 billion in toll over the next 25 years.

Hence whether Tan Sri Abu Sahid sells his concession today to realise RM1.09 billion in profits or to keep it over the next 25 years and realise even more profit is moot.  The issue is simply, the BN government has chosen to award outrageously lucrative concession contracts to its cronies and this practice has continued today with the award of the West Coast Expressway, despite the so-called Economic Transformation Programme by Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

Dr Mahathir Mohamed’s crying over spilled milk smacks of hypocrisy and self-righteousness, because it was his Government who awarded these unfair contracts to its cronies enabling them to make ludicrous profits at the expense of the man-on-the-street.  If Dr Mahathir is sincere about not allowing the concessionaires to make these crazy profits, he should support Pakatan Rakyat’s position to expropriate MEX per the concession contract at only RM400 million to ensure that the people’s welfare is protected.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

FokusPRU13: Perlombongan Lembu

 Pilot episode of DAP produced FokusPRU13 talk show, kicking off with everyone's favourite cows & condos scandal

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Forum: Economic Transformation Programme - Genuine or Good PR?

Check out the Facebook event page here and help us share the event!

Prime Minister Najib Razak's administration has promised an ambitious program of fundamentally restructuring the country's economy so that we will be able to escape the 'middle income trap' and catapult ourselves to the rank of a high income nation. The New Economic Model (NEM) and the Economic Transformation Program (ETP) are supposed to be the key drivers of Najib's economic policy.

Three years into his premiership, how has Najib fared on the economic front? Has the ETP been as successful as PEMANDU claims? Have the recommendations of the New Economic Model (NEM) been implemented fully? Is our economy heading on the right track? To answer these questions and more, please join us in a public forum entitled:

"Najib's Economic Transformation Record: Are we on the right track?"
Venue: Crown Crystal Hotel, Petaling Jaya.
Date: Monday, 16th April 2012
Time: 8pm to 11pm

  • YB Tony Pua, MP for PJ Utara, 
  • YB Lau Weng San, ADUN for Kampung Tunku, 
  • Dr. Ong Kian Ming, UCSI Lecturer, 
  • Mr Teh Chi Chang, Executive Director at REFSA

Organized by Kampung Tunku ADUN's Service Centre and Refsa (Research for Social Advancement)

Admission is free. All are welcomed!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

2012 DAP Internship Programme

The DAP "Know An MP" Youth Programme for the year 2012 is now open for application. The DAP Malaysia will be offering 10 places of attachment nationwide to various top national leaders, Member of Parliament and State Assemblymen (ADUN) in Malaysia.

What is this programme about?

Selected candidates will be matched based on compatibility to a Member of Parliament or State Assemblyman (ADUN). The candidate will attach on a full-time basis to the MP/ADUN and actively participate in their daily work.

Read some of the experiences of past interns - Michelle, Sara, Jason.

During the programme, candidates will have the opportunity to:

  • Assist and contribute to the work of the MP/ADUN
  • Gain first-hand experience and insight of being a national leader
  • Attend parliamentary sessions or state assembly sessions
  • Organize and participate in press conferences, discussions, political events etc.
  • As part of the programme, candidates are required to:
  • Submit a 300-word essay documenting their experience and insight gained
  • Contribute a 1000-word proposal on how to improve the office of an MP/ADUN or the operation of DAP Malaysia; OR a research topic of choice on a current issue for MP/ADUN debate during parliamentary or state assembly session
  • Initiate and organize a community event to engage sociopolitical awareness

Selection Criteria:

  • Youths between age 18-30 (students, fresh grads or young working adults)
  • Full-time attachment, minimum period of 1 month
  • Selection based on assessment of academic results and experience


  • Closing date of application: 30th April 2012 (Extended: 10 May 2012)
  • Start date of programme: Anytime after 1st May 2012
  • Successful candidates will be contacted via email

Application procedures:

Email resume / curriculum vitae (CV) and cover letter expressing interest to daprocket(at)rocketmail(dot)com

Include in your application the following:
  • Preferred location (ie. which state/city in Malaysia)
  • Preferred duration of your attachment
  • MP/ADUN of preference

For enquiries, kindly email daprocket(at)rocketmail(dot)com

Public Accounts Committee Probes Checked

Pakatan reps claim ‘political interference’ in PAC probes
By Clara Chooi Apr 10, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, April 10 — Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lawmakers alleged today the possibility of "political interference" in the bipartisan Public Accounts Committee's (PAC) ongoing investigation of four scandals involving top government officials.

The five PR members of the committee told a press conference today that it has been two weeks since a meeting was convened and expressed concern that orders have been handed down by Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders to postpone all investigations until after the coming elections.

DAP MP Tony Pua pointed out that at the start of the current parliamentary session, the PAC had listed four items on its agenda - the National Feedlot Centre (NFC), Tan Sri Tajudin Ramli's out-of-court settlement with Danaharta, 1 Malaysia Development Bhd's Petrosaudi investment and the bloated cost of KLIA2.

But, Pua complained, the PAC had only met on the NFC while the remaining issues on its agenda have yet to be raised.

"It has been two weeks since our last meeting and the PAC has not called for another since then. We have asked the secretariat and the PAC chairman for a meeting, but it looks as if we will not meet again during this session.

"Perhaps this is because of political interference by those above to stop the PAC from conducting any investigation," he said.

He noted that the committee had agreed that investigation into the RM250 million NFC scandal should proceed although the matter has reached the courts, pointing out that the PAC's investigation would not touch on issues to be raised in the courtroom.

"What is in court now is the purchase of the One Menerung condominium unit (by National Feedlot Corporation or NFCorp) and another is the issue of criminal breach of trust in involving RM40 million from the NFC's accounts.

"The PAC's investigation does not touch on both matters... we are looking at the administration of the ministry and other mismanagement not linked to that," he said.

Pua raised suspicion over a recent statement by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin that the NFC case should no longer be discussed as it is now in court.

"Did the DPM send orders for all PAC investigations to be postponed until after the polls?

"Is there a hand behind the scenes that is preventing the PAC (from investigating), to create a cover up, to prevent the prime minister from suffering in the polls?" he asked.

The NFCorp, a company run by former minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil's family that supervises the NFC, hit national headlines last year after the company made it into the Auditor-General’s Report last year for missing production targets.

Shahrizat's husband - NFCorp executive chairman Datuk Seri Mohamad Salleh Ismail was recently charged in court for alleged criminal breach of trust involving the use of the RM250 million federal loan.

He has denied the charge and maintained that he is innocent.

The PR MPs today also revealed that an initial plan to visit the NFC cattle-farming scheme in Gemas, Negri Sembilan, was called off suddenly without reason.

"For us to know more, we decided to do a site visit to Gemas. But even that was cancelled without us knowing why," Tumpat MP Kamaruddin Jaafar said.

DAP's Tan Seng Giaw noted that so long as Parliament has not been dissolved, the PAC should proceed with its responsibilities and investigate all matters on its agenda.

PKR's William Leong agreed, noting that "closure" on the scandals should be sought as it involves public monies.

"Perhaps there are orders from BN for the PAC to no longer proceed with its work," he said.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

NFC Cows Copper Poisoning

I have received documents which showed that testing on several dead cows from the NFCorp indicated severe copper poisoning.

These tests by Veterinary Services Department were conducted on half a dozen cows which died at the centre in June 2011.

All the tests indicated copper levels well-above what is the normal range for cattle.  For test subject RT6730 for example, its liver was found to have 172.98 parts per million (ppm) as opposed to a 25-100ppm for a normal healthy cattle.  Its kidneys fared even worse, containing 43.71ppm compared to a normal range of 4-6ppm.

Another test subject RT576 was found to have 721.24ppm of copper in its liver.

This is matter of serious concern as meat and meat products from the diseased cows may have been sold for human consumption in Malaysia.

Datuk Seri Noh Omar, the Minister of Agriculture and Agro-based products must confirm is a thorough test have been conducted on cows in the entire farm to ensure that the copper poisoning is not widespread and other cows have not been affected.  It can only be deduced that other cows would suffer from excessive levels of copper as well, but may not have died in the process.

The Minister must also confirm if all meat produced by NFCorp are free from copper toxicity and if the Ministry has conducted stringent inspections following the discovery of copper poisoning last year.

What Malaysians also need to know is how many cows have died at NFCorp under such circumstances, and if the numbers are significant, are these cows properly disposed of?  Malaysians will need the assurance from the Ministry of Agriculture that such carcasses will not be sold as fresh meat to unknowing Malaysians who rely on officers from the Ministry to enforce health standards.

We call upon the Ministry of Health to state if they have been notified of the above issues, and whether they have conducted independent checks on meat produced by NFCorp to ensure that they are healthy for Malaysians to consume.

The Barisan Nasional government must not attempt to cover up the entire NFCorp scandal, as in this case, not only is the tax-payers’ monies involved, the health of ordinary Malaysians are also at stake.

Thursday, April 05, 2012

2012 Supplementary Budget Speech Part 4: 1MDB - Tanjong Power

1MDB – Tanjong Power

Sebenarnya saya tak berapa faham apakah matlamat penubuhan syarikat 1MDB.  Laman web 1MDB berkata bahawa ia merupakan “strategic enabler for new ideas and new sources of growth, 1MDB leads in market-driven initiatives to help transform Malaysia into a thriving economy.”

Tapi yang kita lihat, 1MDB telah menjadi Ah-Long kepada syarikat yang diragui, pemaju hartanah kepada PUKL dan KLIFD yang tidak merupakan industry baru.

Tambahan lagi, 1MDB telah menandatangani perjanjian untuk membeli Tanjung Energy Holdings daripada Tan Sri Ananda Krishnan dengan harga RM8.5 bilion.

Malaysia sekarang mempunyai lebih daripada 10 penjanakuasa bebas (IPPs), adakah 1MDB yang tidak mempunyai pengalaman langsung dalam industri penjanaan kuasa akan menambah nilai kepada industri tersebut?  Adakah industri IPP ini merupakan “new idea” atau “new source of growth” yang dihebohkan sebagai visi 1MDB?

Kalau tidak, kenapa beli dari Ananda Krishnan? Adakah pembangunan PUKL dengan KLIFD yang belum benar-benar bermulapun, tidak mempunyai cabaran yang mencukupi untuk pihak pengurusan 1MDB?

Oleh kerana pengambil-alihan yang baru ini, 1MDB akan terpaksa mendapatkan pinjaman tambahan lagi sekurang-kurangnya RM9 bilion untuk membiayai kos IPP.

Saya berasa amat bimbang kerana 1MDB ini macam syarikat “neither here nor there”.  Ianya langsung tidak mempunyai modal tersendiri dan bergantung sepenuhnya dengan pinjaman yang dijamin oleh kerajaan.

Jika benar ada berlaku penyelewengan dalam transaksi-transaksi besar 1MDB, dan ianya tidak dihentikan dan dikawal dari awal lagi, 1MDB mungkin akan menjadi syarikat yang memerlukan rekod bailout daripada kerajaan persekutuan satu hari nanti.

Biar Menteri menjawab dan menindas perbahasan saya dengan angka-angka terperinci dan fakta-fakta yang tidak dapat dipersoalkan.  Tapi saya harap Menteri tidak akan menjawab hanya dengan sangkaan dan retorik “keyakinan kepada kerajaan Barisan Nasional” kerana ia tidak akan diterima baik dan ia akan membuktikan bahawa memang ada udang di sebalik batu.

2012 Supplementary Budget Speech Part 3: 1MDB "Profit"


Syarikat 1MDB melaporkan keuntungan yang bertambah berbanding dengan tahun sebelumnya dalam penyata kewangannya.  1MDB mencapai keuntungan sebanyak RM544 juta pada hujung tahun Mac 2011 berbanding dengan RM424 juta tahun lalu.

Kontroversi keuntungan RM424 tahun 2010 adalah atas sebab ia merupakan “paper gains” yang berasal daripada penukaran pegangan saham kepada pinjaman kepada syarikat usahasama Petrosaudi International.  Keuntungan ini langsung tidak bermakna jika pinjaman besar yang dibuat tidak dapat dipulangkan.

Macamana dengan keuntungan 2011 pula?  Bila kami meneliti penyata kewangan 1MDB, keuntungan dicapai dengan penilaian semula hartanah 1MDB yang meningkat sebanyak RM827 juta.  Maksudnya, tanpa mengambil-kira penilaian semula hartanah, 1MDB sebenarnya mengalami kerugian sebanyak RM283 juta!

Lebih menarik lagi, dalam balance sheet, nilai pelaburan hartanah adalah RM1.02 bilion.  Maksudnya nilai hartanah 1MDB telah meningkat sebanyak 426% dalam jangkamasa 1 tahun sahaja.  Adakah aset ini merupakan tanah di Jalan Cochrane yang telah dijual kepada 1MDB dengan harga yang cukup murah untuk pembinaan Kuala Lumpur International Financial District (KLIFD)?

Jika benar, ini merupakan “creative accounting of the highest order”. Kerajaan jual tanah kepada 1MDB dengan harga cukup murah. Selepas itu, tanah tersebut dinilai semula untuk memberikan gambaran bahawa 1MDB telah membawa keuntungan lumayan kepada rakyat Malaysia!

2012 Supplementary Budget Speech Part 2: 1MDB - Bandar Malaysia

1MDB-Sungai Besi

Masalahnya, lubang kewangan 1MDB semakin lama, menjadi semakin besar.  Wang diperlukan untuk “cover up” lubang tersebut daripada skandal Petrosaudi.

Selain daripada pinjaman RM5 bilion yang dibuat pada May 2009, 1MDB telah pada tahun lalu mengambil pinjaman tambahan sebanyak RM2.3 bilion.  Pinjaman tambahan ini merupakan pinjaman jangkamasa singkat dan pembayaran balik perlu dibuat tahun depan.
Nasib baik ada projek penyelamat – projek Bandar Malaysia sebesar 495 ekar, iaitu tanah Lapangan Terbang Sungai Besi Tentera Udara Diraja Malaysia.

Tanah tersebut dijual kepada 1MDB oleh kerajaan Malaysia dengan harga yang cukup murah, hanya RM74.20 setiap kaki per segi berjumlah RM1.6 bilion.  Tanah ini merupakan tanah “super-prime” kerana lokasinya dan infrastruktur yang sedia ada yang tiada bandingan.

Untuk perbandingan, tanah Bayan Mutiara di Pulau Pinang, dimana 40% merupakan laut atau tanah paya yang perlu ditambak telah dijual secara tender terbuka dengan harga RM240 kaki per segi.  Secara logiknya, tanah di Sungai Besi adalah jauh lebih mahal daripada tanah Bayan Mutiara, akan tetapi, tanah Sungai Besi telah dijual kepada 1MDB dengan nilai 31% nilai tanah Bayan Mutiara.

Cara suntikan dana ke dalam 1MDB adalah amat inovatif.  Oleh kerana TUDM perlu dipindahkan daripada kawasan Sungai Besi, 1MDB telah ditugaskan untuk menempat semula Pengkalan Udara Kuala Lumpur ke beberapa tempat baru termasuk Sendayan, Subang, Kuantan, Butterworth dan Gong Kedak.

Yang “shocking” ialah, kos penempatan semula adalah RM2.7 bilion.  Ini bermakna kos penempatan semula adalah RM1.1 bilion lebih mahal daripada tanah “super-prime” yang dijual kepada 1MDB.  Transaksi ini langsung tidak masuk akal. Kalau nilai kawasan penempatan semula begitu mahal, kenapa PUKL perlu dipindahkan? Buatlah pembangunan di kawasan penempatan semula dan bukan di Sungai Besi.

Atas sebab penilaian yang “totally don’t make sense” di atas, 1MDB tidak diperlukan untuk membayar 1 sen pun daripada pengambil-alihan tanah Sungai Besi yang dibeli dengan RM1.6 bilion.  Sebaliknya, kerajaan perlu membayar 1MDB sebanyak RM1.1 bilion untuk membuat penempatan semula PUKL.

Ini merupakan cara yang cukup licik untuk memberikan suntikan yang kepada 1MDB yang kini tidak mempunyai yang mencukupi.

2012 Supplementary Budget Speech Part 1: 1MDB-PetroSaudi


1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) merupakan sebuah syarikat yang dimiliki kerajaan sepenuhnya dan segala pinjaman yang diperolehi oleh 1MDB ini adalah dijamin oleh kerajaan persekutuan.

Dengan itu, segala perbelanjaan 1MDB sepatutnya tidak berbeza dengan perbelanjaan kerajaan secara langsung.  Akan tetapi, 1MDB diberikan kuasa mutlak untuk membuat pelbagai perbelanjaan atau pelaburan tanpa pantauan secara langsung daripada parlimen.
Ketua Pembangkang pernah dua kali membangkit kan isu “pelaburan” 1MDB ke dalam syarikat usahasama bersama Petrosaudi International Limited pada tahun lalu.  Akan tetapi tiap kali beliau tidak mendapat jawapan yang menyeluruh atau yang memberikan penjelasan terperinci mengenai pelaburan tersebut.

Saya ingin membangkitkan isu ini sekali lagi dengan maklutmat-maklumat baru kerana ini isu besar dan serious, dan memerlukan jawapan yang munasabah daripada kerajaan.

Pelaburan ini merupakan pelaburan wang rakyat yang cukup besar – US$1 bilion pada Sep 2009. Pelaburan ini adalah sebagai modal untuk pegangan saham 40% dalam syarikat usahasama 1MDB-Petrosaudi.

Walaupun PetroSaudi sepatutnya menyuntik US$1.5 bilion untuk memenuhi syarat ekuiti 60%, Petrosaudi dibenarkan menyuntik sebuah asset medan minyak tengah Laut Caspian yang “berpotensi”.  Maksudnya, yang disuntik bukannya wang tunai seperti pelaburan 1MDB.  Yang disuntik adalah satu kawasan laut yang mungkin ada minyak.

Yang anehnya, 1MDB membuat keputusan untuk melupuskan pegangan saham dalam syarikat usahasama tersebut dengan menukar ekuiti kepada pinjaman Nota Murabaha yang bernilai US$1.2 bilion.  Nota Murabaha ini bukannya pinjaman biasa di mana pinjaman dibayar balik secara beransur.  Untuk jangkamasa 11 tahun, Petrosaudi hanya perlu bayar balik nilai kupon sahaja sebanyak 8.67%, sebelum kesemua hutang dibayar dengan sepenuhnya selepas 11 tahun.

Adakah matlamat 1MDB ini untuk menjadi Ah-Long besar antarabangsa?  Kenapa kalau tak ingin lagi melabur dalam syarikat usahasama, kita tak minta wang dipulangkan kepada kita?

Siapa syarikat Petrosaudi ini sebenarnya?  Mengikut laman web Petrosaudi International – ia merupakan sebuah syarikat yang baru ditubuhkan pada tahun 2005, tak sampai 4 tahun pun apabila 1MDB membuat pelaburan sebanyak US$1 bilion.

Siapa yang memiliki syarikat Petrosaudi ini? Mengikut laman web Petrosaudi International diasaskan oleh Tarek Essam Ahmad Obaid bersama beberapa pelabur persendirian yang tidak dinamakan.

Siapa ini Tarek Essam Ahmad Obaid?  Yang pelik, jika kita buat carian Google – namanya hanya muncul selepas perjanjian antara 1MDB dan Petrosaudi dibuat.  Langsung tidak ada berita mengenai Sheikh Tarek Essam ini di mana-mana pun yang boleh memberikan latar belakang beliau dengan lebih jelas.

Dewan ini juga ingin mengetahui apakah perkembangan explorasi di medan minyak atas laut yang disuntik sebagai ekuiti kepada syarikat usahasama?  Ada dapat gali minyak?  Ataupun kesemuanya masih air laut sahaja?

Adakah syarikat Petrosaudi ini, yang ditubuhkan di kepulauan Seycelles, benar-benar sebuah syarikat yang “genuine”?  Sampai hari ini, tiada siapa pun dari kerajaan atau syarikat 1MDB – di media massa atau semasa dijemput oleh jawatankuasa kira-kira wang Negara (PAC) – memberikan keterangan mengenai nilai syarikat Petrosaudi ini.

Rakyat Malaysia tak tahu sama ada 1MDB telah pinjam US$1.2 bilion kepada sebuah syarikat kosong ataupun sebuah syarikat yang benar-benar bernilai berbilion-bilion US dolar.

Perkara ini amat penting kerana rakyat perlu diberikan keyakinan bahawa wang yang dipinjam kepada Petrosaudi akan dilabur dengan beramanah dan tidak akan hilang disonglap oleh pihak-pihak yang tertentu.  Kami percaya pihak 1MDB tentu ada rekod laporan kewangan syarikat Petrosaudi yang menyatakan aset-liabiliti dan juga untung-rugi syarikat tersebut.

Apa yang membimbangkan ialah pinjaman tersebut tidak dibuat dengan sebarang “ratings” oleh agensi penilaian tempatan atau antarabangsa.  Pinjaman bon atau sukuk yang dibuat dalam negeri pun memerlukan sokongan laporan dari Ratings Agency Malaysia (RAM) atau Malaysia Ratings Corporation (MARC).  Tetapi pinjaman sebanyak US$1.2 bilion yang dibuat dengan wang yang dijamin oleh rakyat Malaysia, langsung tidak memerlukan sebarang akreditasi daripada mana-mana pihak.

Keengganan kerajaan dan 1MDB untuk memberikan penjelasan yang menyeluruh membangkitkan rasa keraguan bahawan ini merupakan satu scam yang cukup besar dalam almari kerajaan Barisan Nasional.  Apakah yang diselindungi? Kalau Petrosaudi benar-benar hebat, bagi tahulah Dewan ini betapa hebat syarikat tersebut dengan angka-angka kunci kira-kira dan penyata kewangan.  Tapi jika diam membisu, ini bermaksud ada yang tidak mengena dan apa yang disyaki oleh pihak Pakatan Rakyat ini adalah berasas.

Apa yang lebih memeranjatkan adalah 1MDB bukan sahaja menukarkan equity kepada pinjaman pada  31 Mac 2010, 1MDB telah memberikan pinjaman tambahan sebanyak US$500 juta (atau RM1.6 bilion) kepada PetroSaudi International.

Kesemua maklumat ini terkandung dalam Penyata Kewangan 1MDB untuk tahun berakhiri Mac 2011 yang diperolehi daripada Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia (SSM). Penyata terkini ini dikemukakan kepada SSM pada October 2011.

Dan bila saya baca sampai hujung penyata, saya terkejut sekali lagi dalam seksyen “Subsequent events”, di mana dilaporkan bahawa 1MDB telah memberikan pinjaman tambahan sebanyak US$200 juta kepada anak syarikat Petrosaudi pada Mei 2011.

Maksudnya, walaupun anak syarikat Petrosaudi perlu membayar kadar kupon sebanyak US$105 juta setiap tahun kepada 1MDB, pinjaman tambahan yang dibuat adalah melebihi pulangan yang diterima.  Ini sudah nak jadi skim Ponzi haram.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Muhyiddin Says Our Education Outperforms US, UK & Germany!

It completely defies belief that our Minister of Education of pronounce Malaysia as having better quality of education than United States (US), Britain and Germany.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also our Deputy Prime Minister, based his statement on one partial study in the World Competitiveness Report by World Economic Forum (WEF) on quality of education. In that specific study, Malaysia was ranked 14th as opposed to Germany (17th), Britain (20th) and United States (26th).

However as an Education Minister, he must surely have found out how the above "rankings" were arrived at. In essence the survey asked 87 local businessmen "How well does the educational system in your country meet the needs of a competitive economy?" by rating it between a scale of 1 to 7.

Two agencies were entrusted to do the survey by WEF - government-linked Institute Strategic & International Studies (ISIS) and government-owned Malaysia Productivity Corporation (MPC).

Surely such a tiny survey with such "surprising" outcomes must be benchmarked against other credible international studies before it is accepted at face value. And surely, as the Education Minister, he would have seen many objective studies on the quality of our education and students.

In the latest Programme for International Students Assessment (PISA) 2009+ released late last year showed Malaysian 15 year olds being far behind the rest of the developed world. The PISA study reviewed the literacy, mathematics and scientific understanding of 522,000 students across 74 countries, with nearly 4,999 students coming from Malaysia.

Malaysian students were ranked well below the Organisation of Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD) average, and specifically against the US, UK and Germany in all 3 tested areas.

In terms of reading literacy, we were ranked a poor 55th out of 74 countries.  In Mathematics literacy, it was 57th and faring only marginally better in Science at 52nd.

The conclusion of the report on Malaysia was even more damaging when it was reported that “56% of students are estimated to have a proficiency in reading literacy that is at or above the baseline level needed to participate effectively and productively in life.”

For Mathematics, only “41% of students are proficient in mathematics at least to the baseline level at which they begin to demonstrate the kind of skills that enable them to use mathematics in ways considered fundamental for their future development.”  And for Science, “57% of students are proficient in science at least to the baseline level at which they begin to demonstrate the science competencies that will enable them to participate actively in life situations related to science and technology.”

Why did Muhyiddin not cite the PISA 2009+ study which he is fully aware of which is objective in its study across countries by using standardised tests?  PISA 2009+ was also conducted with the cooperation of the Ministry of Education. Instead Muhyiddin decided to endorse and boast of a survey of 87 local businessman on a single subjective question.

The Deputy Prime Minister appears to be suffering from the “jaguh kampung” syndrome where we only measure ourselves based on criteria which will make ourselves look good but fail to be objective in evaluating our performance and achievements which have been lacking and declining in the recent decades.