Thursday, March 16, 2017

Don't “thank” the Domestic Trade Minister for raising sugar prices by “only 11 sen” - facts proved that the BN Government has allowed Malaysia’s sugar duopoly to make super-profits over the past 2 years

Two days ago, Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin said Malaysians should be thankful for the minimal hike in sugar price.  He said the hike, at only 3.8%, was minor compared with what was proposed.

This followed the ministry’s recent announcement that the new price of coarse granulated white sugar from March 1 onwards was RM2.95 per kg, up from the previous RM2.84.

“In fact, when we did the calculation, the millers had been asking us to increase the price to RM3.20, which is a jump of 40 sen. But from our calculation, we took the average and set it at the minimum of 11 sen,” he told reporters at the Dewan Rakyat.

“Malaysians should thank me instead of being angry with me,” Hamzah said.

An arrogant statement like that by the Minister is an open invitation for a fact-check.  In keeping with the current fad of “fact-checks” as epitomised by Malaysia Communications and Multimedia Commission’s (MCMC) “Sebenarnya” portal, I dug up the historical prices of global raw sugar prices, Malaysia government’s “Long-Term Contracts” (LTC) for raw sugar supply, our historical subsidies for processed white sugar and the Manufacturer’s white sugar price (before subsidy). (Please refer to table attached.)

Prior to 2015, Malaysia’s two sole sugar manufacturers purchased raw sugar via Malaysia government’s LTC for imported raw sugar supply.  For 2009-2011, the fixed raw sugar price was US$17.50 per 100lbs, while for 2012-2014, the price per 100lbs was US$26.00.

The LTC raw sugar purchasing system was subsequently abolished and manufacturers purchased import their raw sugar supply directly based on global market raw sugar prices.

I have also calculated the Manufacturer’s white sugar price, which is the sum of retail white sugar price plus any subsidy paid by the Government.  This will be the price that the two manufacturers receive per kilogram of sugar sold.

Very simply, I put the manufacturer’s raw sugar purchasing price and the processed sugar selling price historical trends from 2010 to date together in a single chart as shown in Chart A below.

The Chart itself speaks a thousand words.

Between January 2012 to December 2014, the manufacturer’s raw sugar supply price was US$26 per 100lbs.  They could sell processed sugar at RM2.84/kg and had no problems making a profit.

The question that needs to be asked is, today, the global market raw sugar price is approximately US$18.16 per 100lbs, why is it that the BN government see it fit to further increase the retail sugar price to RM2.95/kg?

Even after accounting for the differences in exchange rate over the period of time, the price of sugar should have been reduced, and not increased!

Chart A:


Worse, if you look at the raw sugar supply price in 2015, it dipped for the manufacturers immediately from US$26 in December 2014 to US$15.06 in January 2015, and further to a low of only US$10.67 in August 2015, why did the Government allow the manufacturers to continue making astronomical profits at RM2.84/kg?

Why hadn’t the Government reduced the price of sugar drastically in 2015 when the raw sugar supply price hit rock bottom?  As a comparison, even when the manufacturers bought raw sugar for US$17.50 prior between 2009 and 2011, the manufacturer’s sugar price was only between RM2.05 and RM2.50.

The data proved beyond doubt that there is absolutely no need for Malaysians to “thank” the Domestic Trade Minister as demanded by Dato’ Seri Hamzah Zainuddin.  Instead, Malaysians should perhaps be cursing and swearing at the Minister and the BN Government for stupidly (or perhaps intentionally) allowing the two Malaysian sugar manufacturers for profiteering via a Government-imposed selling price at the expense of ordinary suffering Malaysians.

We call upon the Government to not only withdraw the recent price hike of 11 sen for the retail price of sugar, but instead further lower the ceiling price from RM2.84/kg to reflect the substantially lower global price of raw sugar over the past 2 years.  This should be done immediately without any compensation or subsidies paid to the manufacturers.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Finance Minister’s convoluted answer on MoF takeover of 1MDB’s real estate assets was a blatant attempt to mask at least a RM3.2 billion bailout

I had submitted a question last week to the Finance Minister, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak which only required a simple straightforward, possibly 2-sentence answer.  I have asked the Finance Minister to “list the 1MDB real estate assets taken over by the Ministry of Finance (MoF) and the consideration paid for them”.

More importantly, I asked “did MoF take over the borrowings associated with these assets including, the RM800 million from SOCSO and RM2.4 billion in sukuk bonds”.  This question only required a simple “yes or no” reply, with the total borrowings assumed by the MoF, if any.

What I received was a long grandmother story which tried to obviously obfuscate the answer.

The Finance Minister tried to pin the blame or responsibility for the take over of assets on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).  The PAC had indeed recommended that the MoF takeover these assets and I have no problems with that.
Anak-anak syarikat dan aset milik kumpulan 1MDB (TRX, Bandar Malaysia, tanah Air Itam, tanah Pulau Indah) seharusnya diserahkan kepada MKD, supaya dapat dikawal selia dan diuruskan dengan lebih rapi dan teliti. (pg 106)

To the second part of my question, again he shifted to responsibility to the PAC by quoting page 81 of the PAC report which stated that
…pinjaman SOCSO sebanyak RM800 juta oleh TRX City Sdn Bhd dan sukuk sebanyak RM2.4 bilion oleh Bandar Malaysia Sdn Bhd akan diuruskan, di mana ia akan kekal ditanggung oleh aliran tunai projek TRX dan projek Bandar Malaysia.

That was a most blatant slight of hand, and I actually had to double-check my own copy of the PAC Report because I didn’t recall any such recommendations. My memory certainly did not fail me because the statement on pg 81 was actually the proposal submitted by 1MDB to the PAC and not, a recommendation by the PAC!


However, while Dato’ Seri Najib Razak did not explicitly say “yes” or “no” to the above question, it is now clear as day that the MoF has effectively bailed out 1MDB to the tune of RM3.2 billion by taking over these debts!

It also meant that the Second Finance Minister, Dato’ Seri Abdul Johari Ghani’s prior insistence to the media that there was no taking over of 1MDB debts planned over the assets takeover was a blatant lie.

Malaysians are being raped two-times over the above transaction because these pieces of land were “sold” to 1MDB by the MoF at bargain basement prices.  The land for the 70-acre TRX was priced at RM64 per square feet (psf) for a total of RM194 million, while the 486-acre Bandar Malaysia was at RM72psf for a total of RM1.67 billion.

However, 1MDB has already sold parts of TRX to Tabung Haji and Armed Forces Pension Fund-owned Affin Bank for more than RM2,700 and RM4,500psf.  In total, 30.5 acre of TRX was sold for approximately RM3.5 billion.  At the same time 40% of Bandar Malaysia has been sold for more than RM1,000psf.  The proceeds of these sale has already gone into the pockets of 1MDB to service its mountain of debt unrelated to its property division.

Hence we were screwed first time when we practically gave the super-prime land to 1MDB for free, allowing 1MDB to blindly profit for billions of ringgit.  We are now screwed the second time, when MoF takes back the balance of the assets from 1MDB, now attached with a mega RM3.2 billion debt.

Malaysians can now understand why former Second Finance Minister, Dato’ Seri Husni Hanadzlah decided to quit the Cabinet.  The brazen bailout horrors which are taking place today are just mind-blowing – and the above refers only to the real estate transactions.

No Minister with an iota of integrity or credibility would want to remain in this Cabinet, bent on using billions of ringgit of tax-payers’ money to cover up the single largest kleptocratic crime by the Najib administration.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

1MDB Chairman, Tan Sri Irwan Serigar must answer as to why his fellow Directors are so tardy in making urgent and critical decisions on the financial audit of scandal-ridden 1MDB

The last audited financial statements filed by 1MDB was for the accounts for the year-ending March 2014.  1MDB has failed to file their financial statements for 2 consecutive years, March 2015 and March 2016 which were due to by October 2015 and 2016 respectively.

Even so, Deloitte Malaysia has since July last year, withdrawn its endorsements for the financial statements of March 2013 and 2014.  At the same time, the disgraced audit firm announced that it had resigned as the auditors of 1MDB as at February 2016.

The new auditors, Parker Randall, which is operated locally by a four-partner Afrizan Tarmili Khairul Azhar (aftaas) was appointed in January this year.

I had asked in my parliamentary question to the Finance Minister last week as to whether Parker Randall will re-audit the 1MDB financial statements for March 2013 and 2014.

The Minister of Finance responded that the Board of Directors will make a decision on the above on “after further discussions with the new auditor”.

The reply also stated that the last time the Board of Directors met to discuss the implications of the US Department of Justice asset-seizure kleptocracy suit was prior to 26 July 2016 when 1MDB had issued a press statement.

Malaysians are shocked that for exactly 1 year after Treasurer-General, Tan Sri Irwan Serigar took over the 1MDB Chairmanship from the disgraced Tan Sri Lodin Wok Kamaruddin, the Board of Directors had basically sat on their backsides and demonstrated little or no urgency over the 1MDB fiasco.

Allegations and evidence have been produced and made available globally by the US Department of Justice which showed that more than US$5 billion have been misappropriation from 1MDB and laundered around the world and yet our Treasurer-General acts as if it is no big deal.  These allegations and evidence have been supported since by court prosecutions which took place in Singapore and Switzerland against banks which had facilitated the money-laundering transactions.

Worse, it has also been discovered that at least US$731 million from the above misappropriated sum had found its way into the Prime Minister, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak’s personal bank account.  Despite the gravity of the crime, our Treasurer-General, the most senior civil servant responsible for managing our hundreds of billions of ringgit of annual tax revenue has shown only nonchalance in the scandal.

Any auditor worth their salt would immediately tell you that they will not be able to complete a financial audit for the year without the “opening balance” or prior year accounts.  In this case, it is clear that there have been no audited and certified accounts for March 2013 and 2014 given that Deloitte has withdrawn its endorsement.

What’s more, the Companies Act requires the annual submission of financial statements endorsed by an appointed external auditor to the Registrar of Companies.  It is the statutory requirement for the independent auditor to carry out the above task and Directors who fail to ensure that the above are duly completed in a timely matter may be punishable by up to 5 years’ jail or thirty thousand ringgit.

The only resolution for the above matter is for the accounts for March 2013 and 2014 to be re-audited and re-stated.

Hence, what is the point of appointing Parker Randall as the new auditors if they cannot properly perform their duties? Why is the 1MDB Board of Directors dragging its feet under the chairmanship of the Treasurer-General?

We call upon Tan Sri Irwan Serigar to do what he is being paid to do by the Malaysian tax-payers properly.  He must remember that his job is to protect the integrity of his office and not to protect those who have misappropriated and stolen billions of ringgit from the Government and the people.

Monday, March 13, 2017

There’s nothing personal about a Tun Dr Mahathir – Dato’ Seri Nazri Aziz 1MDB Debate

A public spat between former Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the Minister of Tourism, Dato’ Seri Nazri Aziz has led to a 1MDB debate challenge which has been duly accepted by the latter.

The Tourism Minister even took a dig at his colleague, EPU Minister, Dato’ Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan, who withdrew at the last minute after agreeing to a highly anticipated debate with the Penang Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng.

Dato’ Seri Nazri said he would not budge. "Why should I? I am Nazri Aziz, you should know me better, I am not Rahman Dahlan," he told Malaysiakini when contacted.

The Minister’s bravado has apparently put the Najib Cabinet in a panic mode as the debate on 1MDB has been a subject matter which they have taken great pains to hide and cover up.

Even 1MDB CEO, Arul Kanda withdrew from a debate with me last year, after accepting a similar challenge with much bravado – holding a press conference in a hotel to say “Bring it on!”

They are so worried about the negative fallout for the Najib administration that Finance Minister II, Dato’ Seri Johari Abdul Ghani had to declare that the proposed debate between Tun Dr Mahathir and Dato’ Seri Nazri had “nothing to do” with the Government.


How ridiculous is it for the Finance Minister II to claim that the RM50 billion corruption scandal has “nothing to do” with the Government?

The 1MDB debate has everything to do with the Government, and in particular the Prime Minister, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak.  The latter, who is also Finance Minister I, has been found to have received US$731 million which had originated from 1MDB based on the documents and evidence produced by the United States Department of Justice (US DOJ).  The 1MDB scandal has made Malaysia the kleptocratic capital of the world and put Malaysians to shame.

In fact, it is shocking that to date, since the US DOJ filed the suit to seize assets acquired with money laundered from 1MDB in July 2016, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak has not once denied the allegations that he has received the US$731 million misappropriated from 1MDB.

Dato’ Seri Johari Abdul Ghani tried to argue that the matter had purportedly already been “debated extensively in Parliament”.

He told the reporters that “the report that (was) prepared by the auditor general, (the) public accounts committee (PAC), have been deliberated extensively in Parliament, all questions have been answered in Parliament.”

However, the Finance Minister II failed to also clarify that the Parliament Speaker has forbidden any answers on questions relating to the 1MDB US DOJ suit, preposterously claiming “subjudice”.  At the same time, the then newly appointed PAC Chairman, Dato’ Hasan Arifin took pains to unilaterally make amendments to the PAC Report and refused any attempts during the meetings to investigate links between the scandal and the Prime Minister.  Worse, if all questions on 1MDB has allegedly been answered, then why is the Cabinet hiding the Auditor-General’s Report under the Official Secrets Act (OSA)?

Even the Finance Minister II himself failed to answer questions raised in Parliament on the scandal during the last sitting.

Hence with the utter failure of the Parliament, the next best thing Malaysians can hope for to gain the truth is via a debate. And one between the former premier and one of the harshest critic of the Najib administration, versus one of the most senior Minister’s in Najib’s cabinet could not have come at a better time.

In fact, if the Government has nothing to hide, we call upon the Cabinet to insist that the debate be broadcast live on RTM or TV3, for there could not be a better opportunity for the Najib administration to destroy the opposition’s allegations on 1MDB and clear its tainted reputation.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Dato’ Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan failed to convince anyone that he has not abused his powers to benefit developers while he was the Housing Minister

Dato’ Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan has been embroiled in the controversy of granting an extension of time (EOT) for the construction of condominium projects by BHL Group of Companies.  The former Urban Well-Being, Housing and Local Government (KPKT) Minister’s move has resulted in the house-buyers failing to secure Liquidated and Ascertained Damages (LAD) from the developer as stipulated in the Sale and Purchase Agreements (SPAs).

The aggrieved house-buyers have filed a judicial review against the Housing Controller and the Minister for the above decision last year.

Last Tuesday, the High Court ruled that the Housing Controller has no power to grant an extension of time to developers who delay the completion of housing projects.  Justice Hanipah Farikullah, who allowed the judicial review application by 71 house buyers, said the minister’s decision to rely on a regulation to allow the extension was against the Housing Development (Control & Licensing) Act.

We have called upon Dato’ Seri Rahman Dahlan to explain why he abused his powers to benefit the developers who have failed to deliver their projects on a timely basis for the house-buyers.

Worse, it has been discovered that the appeal by BHL approved by the Minister was supported by a letter from the wife of the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Apandi Ali, masquerading as a Director of the company.  The existence of the letter raises valid suspicions of bias, cronyism and impropriety.

Yesterday, the former Minister, Dato’ Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan denied that he has abused his power in the process.



"The decision I took was based on the powers clearly given to KPKT minister as stated in Act 118 (Housing Development (Control and Licensing) Act 1966)," he said.  He added that the decision in granting EOT was based on merit and was not influenced by support letters.

However, the Court ruling has stated clearly that the Minister has no power under Section 24 of the Housing and Development (Control and Licensing) Act, to empower housing controllers to waive or change any of the terms and conditions of the prescribed statutory agreement.  What “power” is the Minister harping about?

What is however most important, is the fact that Dato’ Seri Rahman Dahlan had insisted that his decision was based on the “merits” of the case.  However, in his statement, the Minister failed to specify even a single instance of such a “merit” to justify his decision which had rubbed salt onto the wounds of the house-buyers.

What could be so convincing and justifiable in the appeal by the developer, other than the fact that it was put forth by the wife of the Attorney-General, which moved the Minister to arbitrarily extend the completion date of the housing project by 12 months resulting in millions of ringgit of losses by the house-buyers?

Among the primary roles of the Minister is to safeguard the interest of Malaysian home-buyers against incompetent and unscrupulous developers.  Barring perhaps acts of God, the Minister should never interfere in a transaction, especially if it were to clearly result in substantial losses to the house-buyers.

Instead of granting approvals for extensions to Developers and penalising house-buyers, the Minister should have instead given warnings to the Developers that the Government will not hesitate to assist home-buyers in asserting their rights should the former fail to deliver their promises.