Tuesday, July 29, 2008

One for You, Two for Me

Barisan Nasional governments tend to set the best examples. On the surface, they'll tell you that the government and its leaders will share the burden of the people, "ringan sama dijinjing, berat sama dipikul" or "有难同当,有福同享", but in practice, it's often "one for you, two for me".

And that cannot be more obvious that what is happening with the Terengganu state government, the state with the second highest poverty rate in Peninsula Malaysia, when the state executive councillors purchased their brand new spanking Mercedes Benz to "cut cost", as blogged here earlier.

And in a remarkable show that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has lost total control over its administration, his directive that these new vehicles shall be used only for VIPs in Terengganu was immediately and totally disregarded with utter contempt by the Terengganu state cabinet. The brand new cars already found their way on the road with their proud new owners.

While the official reason for the switch from Proton Perdanas to Mercedes-Benz was due to "cost cutting measures", it is interesting to note that last minute calculations were made to justify the RM3.4 million expenditure which showed inflated repair figures for their old Perdanas. It took the former Menteri Besar to threaten a legal suit for the current administration to admit that the repair bill was only half of what was proclaimed! Hence was the decision to purchase new Mercedes-Benz made on errorneous figures or was there even a study before the decision was made?

And the state government has the cheek to blame the media for sensationalising the issue!

But the cherry on the pie must be the following announcement, in their attempt to control the damage they have imposed on the reputation of the national car manufacturer, that taxi drivers in Terengganu will receive incentives for switching over to the national car(!)
Criticised for not supporting the national car, the state government has announced special packages for taxi drivers to buy new Proton cars to replace ageing Nissans and Toyotas. The package in the form of monetary aid is for legitimate taxi drivers and those refurbishing their Proton taxis... Under the package, each taxi driver would be given RM10,000 to buy a new Proton Saga or Wira to be used as taxis.
My goodness! If that is not the clearest indication that such inferior products are only suitable for taxis in the state and obviously not good enough for the state government leaders, then I don't know what is. Much good that will do to the reputation of their beloved Proton.

These newly installed state government leaders are clearly intoxicated with the policy of "one for the people, two for us" that has symbolised Barisan Nasional administration over the decades.

Expensive Gifts

As Pakatan Rakyat formed the state government in Selangor, its elected representatives have received increasing demands from corporate entities ranging from property developers to slimming centres to be the guest of honour at their launching ceremonies.

Some of the younger assemblymen have asked for advice as to whether they should accept such invitations. I told them to use their discretion, and by all means, if it is a reputable company with no intent of "using" you to endorse their products, feel free to attend such functions.

Corporations and businesses form the backbone of our economy and it is often useful to hear what are the challenges which they face. If some of the requests are valid such as unreasonable delays in processing normal business applications (whether to approve or reject), then we must certainly play our role to assist them in expediting the process. However, if we are asked to help secure approval for a particular project as they do not fully comply with existing by-laws and guidelines, then by all means ask them to follow proper channels.

I was the Guest-of-Honour at one such function last weekend, to launch a commercial property development project in Petaling Jaya. I was asked to replace one of the state executive councillor at the last minute due to certain urgent matters arising.

While I must say that I'm not at my most comfortable position doing so, I took the opportunity to add in my speech that as a part of the local community now, the developer and its management must have more dialogue and consultations with the local residents to ensure a balance between development and livability. While well-planned commercial development promotes vibrancy, excessive development kills livability.

Typically in such functions, the host will present us with tokens of appreciation, often things like plaques, pens or pewter mugs. But after having reached home and opening the gift parcel, I was taken aback by what was given. Yes, as the picture above shows, I received a Nokia E90 Communicator, worth approximately RM3,500.

Make no mistake, I love the phone and have been looking at it ever since it was first launched late last year. But surely, receiving such a "gift" for attending a launching function and saying a few words is more than a little excessive!

Subsequently, I did find out however, that it's not uncommon for certain elected representatives to receive these gifts, which ranges from luxury cars to Rolex watches(!)

The question then is, do I return the gift to the developer with apologies? Or do I sell the phone and use the proceeds for community purposes?

I wasn't the only party who received the gift. Loh Gwo-Burne of Kelana Jaya received the same item for attending the function. I had a quick discussion with him on what's the next best step.

After pondering over the issue for a short while, we agreed to sell/auction off the 2 phones to the highest bidders and use the proceeds to fund our respective service centres. After all, the financing of our service centres (rental, staff, equipment etc.) comes not from the Government (unlike Barisan Nasional MPs, opposition MPs gets zero assistance to set up such offices), but from public donations and out of our own pockets.

So, for all of you out there who are interested in a (or two) brand new Nokia E90 Communicator at a discounted price, please feel free to email me @ tonypua (at) yahoo (dot) com with your bid. Cheques should be written to "DAP Damansara Branch". Its for a good cause too! ;-)

Monday, July 28, 2008

Questions for Parliamentary 2008 (III)

Well, I wouldn't say I forgot about it, but the need to submit questions sort of fleeted in and out of my mind over the past 2 weeks. Hence, I didn't have the opportunity to solicit for possible questions for the coming parliamentary session starting August 18.

I did however, review the various posts and comments made here and my Education blog in the past few weeks to come up with the 15 questions which were submitted today. Which also reminds me that I haven't blogged on the replies provided in the last session for my previous set of questions. I'll do so over the next few days but, regardless, here are the questions for the upcoming session.

(Oh, and corrections to any glaring language errors are welcome)

Oral Questions:

  1. Tony Pua meminta Menteri Kewangan menyatakan langkah yang akan diambil oleh kerajaan untuk meningkatkan prestasi syarikat Proton sedangkan kerajaan negeri BN telahpun memberi “undi ketidak-percayaan” kepada kereta Proton, yang membuktikan kegagalan dasar automotif negara. Adakah Proton akan terus mengalami kerugian sehingga tahun 2010?

(18 Ogos 2008)

(What are steps taken by the Government to improve the fortunes of Proton given that the Barisan Nasional state governments have also condemned and given the vote of no confidence to Proton's most expensive models, marking the biggest set back for the national car industry? Will Proton continue to be loss-making untuk 2010?)

  1. Tony Pua meminta Menteri Kerjaraya menyatakan hasil kajian pakar perunding mengenai perjanjian kerajaan dengan pihak konsesi tol, terutamanya pihak yang telah mendapat peruntungan lumayan ataupun yang telah mendapat kembali kos pembinaan. Adakah pihak konsesi akan dikehendaki mengurangkan tol tanpa memerlukan tambahan wang gantirugi daripada kerajaan.

(19 Ogos 2008)

(What is the outcome of the consultant's study on the contracts of the toll operators, particularly those who made lucrative contracts or have even recovered their cost of construction? Will these toll operators to required to reduce their toll rates, without further compensation by the Government?)

  1. Tony Pua meminta Menteri Kewangan menyatakan adakah kerajaan bercadang untuk melaksanakan “windfall tax” untuk syarikat minyak dan syarikat konsesi tol lebuhraya kerana cukai tambahan telahpun dikenakan ke atas syarikat minyak sawit sebanyak 15% untuk keuntungan semasa harga minyak sawit melebihi RM2,000 satu ton. Jika tidak, kenapa?

(20 Ogos 2008)

(Given that the Government has chosen to impose a windfall tax of 15% on oil palm companies for making excessive profits when market-determined CPO prices are above RM2,000 per tonne, should the Government impose a similar tax on oil & gas companies, as well as toll concenssionaires?)

  1. Tony Pua meminta Menteri Kewangan menyatakan bila aliran rel RapidKL yang baru Kota Damansara dan aliran tambahan Puchong dan Subang Jaya yang dicadangkan akan bermula dibina, dan siap beroperasi? Apakah pecahan kos untuk pembinaan setiap aliran dan adalah perolehan ini akan dibuat secara tender terbuka?

(21 Ogos 2008)

(When are the proposed new LRT line to Kota Damansara and extended lines to Puchong and Subang Jaya scheduled to commence construction work and begin operations? What is the breakdown of costs estimated for the respective lines, and will there be open tenders called for its construction and procurement of equipment?)

  1. Tony Pua meminta Perdana Menteri menyatakan adakah Menteri Pengangkutan akan memimpin Suruhanjaya Pengangkutan Awan yang dicadangkan dan adakah suruhanjaya tersebut akan termasuk pihak pakar bidang pengangkutan. Apakah kuasa suruhanjaya ke atas 13 jabatan kerajaan yang berkenaan, ataupun mencadangkan gabungan jabatan-jabatan ini ke dalam satu kementerian?

(26 Ogos 2008)

(Will the Minister of Transport lead the proposed new Public Transport Commission and will its members comprise of interested parties and experts in the field. To what extent will the commission have powers to instruct the 13 government agencies involved, or even recommend a consolidation of the agencies in-charge of public transport under a single ministry.)

  1. Tony Pua meminta Menteri Kewangan menyatakan sebab kos pembinaan Jambatan Pulau Pinang Kedua adalah RM179 juta setiap kilometer, 20% lebih mahal berbanding dengan jambatan serupa di Shanghai yang bernilai RM149j setiap kilometer. Adakah ianya benar bahawa kos jambatan akan meningkat sehingga RM4.8bilion ataupun RM200j setiap kilometer?

(27 Ogos 2008)

(Why is the cost of constructing the 2nd Penang bridge at RM179 million per kilometre, 20% more expensive than a similar bridge in Shanghai, which cost RM149 million per kilometre? Is it true that the Government is considering increasing the cost of building the bridge to RM4.8 billion, which means RM200 million per kilometre?)

  1. Tony Pua meminta Perdana Menteri menyatakan tindakan yang akan diambil ke atas pihak pensyarah Biro Tatanegara yang menggalakkan fikiran “racist” apabila mendesak bahawa “kalau ular dengan India depan mata, ketuk India dulu” dan menayangan video menuduh pemimpin Teresa Kok dan Ezam Mohd Noor sebagai penyokong “Zionist”.

(Will the Prime Minister take appropriate action against lecturers in Biro Tatanegara who promotes racism in his lectures to Malaysian students with statements such as “Kalau ular dengan India depan mata, ketuk India dulu” and displays videos with Teresa Kok and Ezam Md Noor as “zionist” supporters?)

  1. Tony Pua meminta Perdana Menteri menyatakan sebab kerajaan telah menambahkan jumlah pekerja perkhidmatan awam sebanyak 23.5% ke 1.14juta sejak tahun 2000. Nisbah pekerja perkhidmatan awam per capita Malaysia adalah antara yang tertinggi di dunia. Bukankah hakikat ini mencerminkan ketidak berkesanan dan kegagalan pendekatan penswastaan kerajaan?

(Why has the Government increase the number of civil servants by 23.5% to 1.14 juta in 2007 since 2000, making Malaysia one of the civil servants per capita ratio in the entire world? Does this not reflect its inefficiency, as well as the complete failure of Malaysia's privatisation programme to reduce the dependence on civil servants?)

  1. Tony Pua meminta Menteri Koperasi dan Pembangunan Usahawan menyatakan sebab kegagalan kerajaan melaksanakan dan mengguatkuasa kegunaan sistem tambang bermeter untuk perkhidmatan teksi, terutamanya di bandar-bandar pelancongan seperti Pulau Pinang, Melaka dan Johor Bahru, dan juga tempat tertentu di Lembah Klang seperti perhentian bas Puduraya dan KL Sentral.

(What are the reasons for the complete failure of the Government to implement and enforce the use of meters for Malaysian taxi operators, particularly in cities which attract many tourists such as Penang, Melaka and Johor Bahru, as well as certain hotspots in the Klang Valley such as Pudu bus and KL Sentral bus terminal?)

  1. Tony Pua meminta Perdana Menteri menyatakan sebab kuasa perlesenan syarikat pinjaman wang berada dalam Kementerian Perumahan dan Kerajaan Tempatan dan bukannya satu fungsi Kementerian Kewangan, yang lebih berpengaruh dan berkepakaran dalam bidang kewangan.

(Why is the licensing of money-lenders the responsibility of the Minister of Housing and Local Government and not the function of the Ministry of Finance when the latter has greater expertise and influence over the financial sector?)

Written Questions:

  1. Tony Pua meminta Perdana Menteri menyatakan apakah tindakan yang telah diambil oleh kerajaan terhadap 236 pemegang biasiswa bidang perdoktoran yang enggan pulang berkhidmat di tanahair. Apakah pencapaian tindakan yang telah diambil dan adakah ia berkesan? Berapakah pemegang biasiswa dalam bidang lain yang telah gagal pulang berkhidmat?

(What are the steps taken by the Government against the 236 medical scholarship holders to date and please detail what has been the result of the actions taken so far, and whether they have been effective. How many other scholars in other fields who have failed to return to serve?)

  1. Tony Pua meminta Perdana Menteri menyatakan secara terperinci, senarai universiti-universiti luar negeri di mana pemegang biasiswa undergraduate JPA dihantar mengikut pecahan ketiga-tiga tahun yang lalu, jumlah pelajar dan kursus ataupun bidang yang dikaji.

(Please list in detail the overseas universities which JPA undergraduate scholars have been sent to over the past 3 years, with breakdowns by year, number of students and courses undertaken.)

  1. Tony Pua meminta Perdana Menteri menyatakan berapa ramai pemegang biasiswa yang telah selesai pengajian pada 5 tahun yang lepas. Antara mereka, berapakah yang telah berkhidmat untuk kerajaan mengikut syarat perjanjian biasiswa, berapakah yang enggan menunaikan perjanjian dan berapakah yang telah dilepaskan daripada tanggungjawab mereka?

(Please provide the figures of overseas and local JPA scholars who have graduated over the past 5 years on how many have been employed by the Government in accordance to their scholarship bond, how many have refused to work in the Government, and how many have been released by the Government from their obligations?)

  1. Tony Pua meminta Menteri Pengajian Tinggi menyatakan sebab jumlah pelajar mengikut aliran STPM yang diterima dalam bidang perdoktoran di Universiti Malaya telah merosot dari 63 pada tahun 2000 sehingga 28 pada 2008, walaupun jumlah penuntut yang diterima telahpun meningkat daripada 173 ke 205. Adakah sistem STPM dipinggirkan?

(The total number of students accepted into the medical faculty of Universiti Malaya via the STPM route has declined from 63 students in 2000 to 28 students in 2008 despite an overall increase of intake from 173 to 205 students. Isn't this clear-cut result of the Government's marginalisation of STPM students?)

  1. Tony Pua meminta Menteri Perumahan dan Kerajaan Tempatan menyatakan sama ada kerajaan akan membantah ataupun menghalang negeri-negeri yang dipimpin oleh DAP, PKR dan PAS melaksanakan pilihanraya kerajaan tempatan yang merupakan ruang lingkup kuasa kerajaan negeri? Jika ya, sila memberikan penjelasan yang terperinci.

(Will the Government object to or prevent the states led by DAP, PKR and PAS in implementing local council elections which is under the purview of the state government? If so, please explain in detail how and why?)

Friday, July 25, 2008

The Maid

This is hilarious. We members of parliament do often trade horror stories of our experiences with some of our constituents on the type of complaints we receive in our respective offices. Having heard many, I dare say, this one by Gobind Singh, MP for Puchong must rank right up there.

This lady walks into Gobind's service centre with a stack of documents to file a complaint. She started the tedious process showing her documents of her maid application, receipts of payments, the maid's photo and medical report made as well as other documentation to Gobind.

After a while, puzzled by the lady, Gobind then asked, "Well, everything looks to be in order, and you have got your maid. So what's the problem?"

The lady replied, "You see, this maid that I got, she wakes up at 7am. How can a maid wake up at 7am? "

Gobind raised his eyebrows, "Yes...?"

"She should be waking up latest 6.30am! Where got maid wake up at 7am one!" the lady complained.

Absolutely stunned, but maintaining his ice-cool composure, Gobind asked, "Ummm... yes, and how may I help?"

Without missing a beat, the lady responded, "Well, I voted for you in the last elections, so you must come to my house and knock some sense into the maid's head!"



And when the lady left later, Gobinds assistants who heard the conversation outside came into his office sheepishly with tears in their eyes. I certainly have tears in mine now!

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Furry Friends Farm Charity

This is a charity public announcement post, particularly since I'm also a dog lover. ;-)

THE founder of a dog sanctuary is worried that the farm's latest fund raising efforts may be in vain. According to Furry Friends Farm (FFF) founder Sabrina Yeap, only a handful of tickets have been sold for a performance held to raise money for FFF.

"The Operafest Children's Choir, Kuala Lumpur and The Nyonya-Baba Golden Voices will perform at the The Royal Lake Club, Kuala Lumpur on July 25 to raise funds for FFF as well as another animal shelter in Taiping, Perak, but the response has been very slow,'' said Yeap.

She added that besides buying food for the dogs at the farm, the funds raised at the performance was also needed for the medical care of the almost 100 dogs at the sanctuary.

So, kind people out there, please help out by taking your entire family to the performance which is scheduled to start at 8.30pm. Tickets are only priced at RM30.00 each.

For reservations please call:
  1. Tracy Ho : 016- 3323382
  2. Wong Huai Chiing : 012- 2021008
  3. Chris Ng : 012-3112257
  4. Chris Chan : 019-3803650
  5. Sabrina Yeap : 016-6319018

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Cost-Cutting Mercedes

The Government tells us to tighten our belts. Prices are up and inflation is at record levels. The Cabinet even made a show of "sacrifice" by cutting 10% of their entertainment allowance. However, it's certainly clear that this philosophy isn't fully subscribed by the Barisan Nasional government.

The Member of Parliament for MUAR, noted in his speech in Parliament supporting the Government's motion to reduce subsidy and increase fuel prices that will share the burden with the rakyat - "ringan sama dijinjing, berat sama dipikul". Lets reflect this against the little drama in Terengganu over Perdanas and Mercedes for state executive councillors.

The state government has defended the purchase of 14 Mercedes E200 Kompressor cars at RM3.43mil for the use of its state executive councillors and senior officials.

The Menteri Besar of Terengganu, Datuk Ahmad Said had the cheek to suggest that the measure to purchase Mercedes cars was a "cost-cutting measure". Does he take Malaysians for idiots?

What is perhaps more enlightening is our UMNO's leaders honesty with regards to the quality of Proton vehicles.
“We are not saying that the national car is not good but in reality we are coughing up more money for maintaining the Proton Perdanas, particularly the gear boxes,” he said.
In essence, what this new MB is saying is that anybody who purchases a Proton Perdana is an idiot as well, because, money will actually be better spent buying a Mercedes which cost double a Perdana. (Great advertisement for Proton, I'm sure)

Despite the Deputy Prime Minister, otherwise also known as Mr "Tighten Your Belt" among other things, insistence that only Proton Perdanas are acceptable, it misses the point of why 4-year old executive cars must all be replaced wholesale.

Is this part of a "new Menteri Besar, new cars" philosophy, regardless of how much the people are suffering?

Without wanting to sound like we are blowing our own trumpets, the move by the Barisan Nasional state government in Terengganu stands in stark contrast to the new government in Penang, where vehicles ordered by the previous administration worth more than RM600,000 were cancelled. And that's barely a-fifh of what Terengganu is spending.

Is this a direct implication of a Malaysian government being flushed with windfall cash, in this case from record petrol revenues?

Besar periuk, besar keraknya.

Or to the right honourable member from Muar, I think the more appropriate description of the Barisan Nasional government's policy should be "ringan kerajaan jinjing, berat rakyat yang pikul".

Monday, July 21, 2008

Of Faith and Dialogues

Generally, I try to steer clear of blogging religious issues due to its obvious sensitivity, unless the relevant issue is clear cut or outrageous. But I've read several articles published by The Star, based on opinions of a muslim sociologist, Dr Syed Farid Alatas, which I found plenty interesting, and is certainly fresh knowledge for myself.

So I thought to share some of the points made here. The first, published about 2 weeks ago, was with regards to an "Education System Polarising Us", while the latest one on "Taking it Over is good for all", published yesterday, were all relating to the benefits of dialogues between civilisations. These comments were given at a lecture entitled "An Islamic Perspective on the Commitment to Inter-Religious Dialogue"

On inter-faith dialogues
Dr Syed Farid said although the general impression here was that Islam/Muslims were indifferent to dialogue, he said the Quran and the life of Prophet Muhammad showed otherwise.

Citing verse 64 of Surah Al-Imran and verse 125 of Surah An-Nahl, he said the Quran asked Muslims to engage in interfaith dialogue and in inter-civilisational dialogue with reason and evidence.

He added the prophet entered into agreements with Jews and Christians in Medina and they were referred to as ummah.“The term ummah in Malaysia today, however, is exclusive to Muslims. Imagine if we used it as in the prophet’s time to include all Malaysians and not just a part of.”
On objections to dialogues:
“As for ulamas who are against dialogue, that comes from a misplaced feeling of superiority because they are the majority and Islam is the religion of the state.” He said it should be a requirement for dialogue that one does not have to dilute one’s belief in one’s religion.

“One should be able to hold on to one’s belief while establishing common ground and recognising the differences and even fault lines. Muslims with a deep sense of tradition are always for dialogue. The sufis are more open and have a harmonious view of society. The ulamas against dialogue are usually those who are legalistic in thinking and narrow-minded in their views.”
On helping other religions:
Muslims should help Christians solve their problems, for example, if they want to display a cross on their buildings and it is not allowed.

Asked on what basis a Muslim should do that, he said that being the majority group, Muslims should be committed to help people of all faiths with their problems as Islam provides for the protection of the rights of others.

“It is not just a concession granted to minority groups. Rather, there is a Quranic basis, prophetic tradition and centuries of Islamic practice to support this
On culture vs religion:
At a public forum on freedom of thought, conscience and religion in June 2004, Harcharan Singh, then president of the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism and Sikhism, had disclosed that although many Sikh gurdwaras, including a 100-year-old one in Kuantan, had dome-shaped roofs, they were told new temples could not have one because Muslims might mistake them for a mosque.

Why take this stand when the Hagia Sophia with its dome-shaped roof - which became the inspiration for other mosques after the Ottomans invaded Constantinople - was originally a church during the Byzantine Empire?

“In that case, there should be a campaign to remove domes from mosques because they come from outside Islam,” he said in a rare chuckle.

Such decisions reflected insecurity or a misplaced feeling of superiority and a lack of historical knowledge, he added. “In China, the mosques look like Buddhist temples from the outside. Architecture should not be the central factor. All religions indigenise themselves to culture and climate.

“We should celebrate that diversity. If Muslims want to claim the dome for themselves, then they should stop cultivating logic, refrain from drinking tea, and give up Kentucky Fried Chicken because these are all alien practices!”
Now, that's certainly an enlightening view, and provides plenty of food for thought.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Speech on Public Transportation

I had blogged earlier that as the 9th Malaysia Plan review debate time allocation was cut when I had my turn, I had to cut short my speech as well, and left out the portion on the public transportation mess.

On Wednesday, as we were debating the Supplementary Budget for 2008, I got my chance to speak as there was a period just after lunch break whereby many opposition MPs had not yet returned from a visit to the KL Police Station over Anwar's arrest that day. Hence, I was able to deliver my speech on public transportation in Malaysia. This is also the first time I had the opportunity to deliver a speech early in the day (when there are actually more MPs around, than say 10pm in the evening. Heh).

I won't repost my speech here, which was blogged earlier, but I had a few "minta penjelasan"s from Barisan Nasional (BN) MPs which I thought was interesting, which you can also read from the Hansard here, page 73.

The first was a question posed by former Minister, PADANG BESAR.
Dato' Seri Azmi bin Khalid [Padang Besar]: Boleh celah sikit?

Tuan Pua Kiam Wee [Petaling Jaya Utara]: Sikit ya.

Dato' Seri Azmi bin Khalid [Padang Besar]: Saya ingin penjelasan. Petaling Jaya Utara datang ke negeri Selangor, negeri Selangor sudah diperintah oleh Parti Pakatan dan negeri
Pulau Pinang diperintah oleh DAP yang mana Yang Berhormat daripada DAP. Jadi, buatlah saja.
Kenapa dok blame kerajaan yang lama ini? Yang tak buat, tak mengapa, okey tapi kenapa
blame? Buat sekarang kerana kita dah memerintah negeri, tunjukkan teladan. Kita negeri kaya,
bukan negeri miskin. Kalau Perlis itu miskin tapi Penang dan Selangor negeri kaya. Buatlah.

Tuan Pua Kiam Wee [Petaling Jaya Utara]: Itu masalah senang saja. Sebab negeri
Selangor, dia punya annual budget, satu budget RM1.3 bilion. Annual budget bagi Pulau Pinang
RM380 juta sahaja. Menteri Pengangkutan, dia punya bajet RM23 bilion. Apa nak buat? Mana
boleh bagi.

Dato' Seri Azmi bin Khalid [Padang Besar]: Itu bajet yang tak termasuk pengangkutan.
Masukkan pengangkutan, besarkan bajet.

Tuan Pua Kiam Wee [Petaling Jaya Utara]: Pengangkutan satu tanggungjawab pihak
persekutuan. Bukan tanggungjawab dalam negeri.
Then, it was followed by REMBAU, who sought clarification in the later part of my speech:
Tuan Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar [Rembau]: [Bangun]

Timbalan Yang di-Pertua [Datuk Ronald Kiandee]: Ya Yang Berhormat Rembau Yang Berhormat. Nak bagi jalan?

Tuan Pua Kiam Wee [Petaling Jaya Utara]: Sikit ya?

(We always ask "sikit ya?" because these interruptions actually eat into your allocated speech time of 10 minutes, so if these "penjelasan" turn into mini-speeches by the other guys, then you will have no time to finish your speech.)

Tuan Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar [Rembau]: Terima kasih. Tadi Yang Berhormat daripada PJ Utara ada sebut tentang penjimatan daripada penstrukturan semula subsidi ini dan
sebahagian daripada itu digunakan untuk pengangkutan awam. Ini soal keutamaan daripada segi
penjimatan yang didapati oleh kerajaan. Sama ada kerajaan akan membelanjakan duit itu untuk
pengangkutan awam ataupun untuk perkara-perkara yang lain. Kerajaan Barisan Nasional telah
putuskan untuk membelanjakan duit tersebut sebahagian besar dalam bentuk subsidi makanan
dan juga dasar keselamatan makanan. Jadi adakah Yang Berhormat daripada PJ Utara
menyarankan agar duit untuk menampung subsidi bagi seluruh rakyat Malaysia untuk memberi
makanan yang cukup dengan harga yang munasabah itu diambil untuk pengangkutan awam bagi
rakyat yang ada di Lembah Kelang. Ini adalah trade-off Saya minta penjelasan daripada YB.

[Fong Kui Lun (BUKIT BINTANG) then interjected here to repeat that the RM4.4b allocated for public transport disappeared since petrol prices were increased 30 sen in 2006]

Tuan Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar [Rembau]: Saya pohon laluan sebab ini dituju kepada kerajaan, saya Ahli Parlimen kerajaan. Saya minta laluan.

Tuan Pua Kiam Wee [Petaling Jaya Utara]: Saya dah bagi tadi, saya dah bagi tadi.

Tuan Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar [Rembau]: Sikit saja, sikit saja.

Tuan Pua Kiam Wee [Petaling Jaya Utara]: Saya tahu, faham you nak kata harga minyak dah naik sebab itu RM4.4 bilion itu sudah tidak ada. Saya tahu, saya tahu.

Tuan Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar [Rembau]: Ya, memang betul. Jadi jawablah. Tolong didik sikit kepada Yang Berhormat .... sama.

Tuan Pua Kiam Wee [Petaling Jaya Utara]: Tadi Yang Berhormat Rembau, Yang Berhormat Rembau....

Timbalan Yang di-Pertua [Datuk Ronald Kiandee]: Ya, teruskan Yang Berhormat.

Tuan Pua Kiam Wee [Petaling Jaya Utara]: .....telah berkata bahawa subsidi makanan lebih penting. Subsidi makanan yang ditambah hanya tak sampai RM2 bilion, tak sampai RM2

Tuan Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar [Rembau]: Dasar Keselamatan...

Timbalan Yang di-Pertua [Datuk Ronald Kiandee]: Nak bagi Yang Berhormat?

Tuan Pua Kiam Wee [Petaling Jaya Utara]: Tak bagi jalan.

Tuan Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar [Rembau]: ...Makanan Negara adalah sebanyak RM4 bilion.

Tuan Pua Kiam Wee [Petaling Jaya Utara]: Subsidi makanan tak sampai RM2 bilion. Mana boleh kata...

Tuan Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar [Rembau]: Dasar Keselamatan Negara...

Timbalan Yang di-Pertua [Datuk Ronald Kiandee]: Yang Berhormat.

Tuan Pua Kiam Wee [Petaling Jaya Utara]: ...mengutamakan perbelanjaan terhadap subsidi makanan.

Tuan Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar [Rembau]: ...Food Security Policy...

Timbalan Yang di-Pertua [Datuk Ronald Kiandee]: Yang Berhormat Rembau, cukuplah Yang Berhormat Rembau.

Tuan Pua Kiam Wee [Petaling Jaya Utara]: .....Jangan macam inilah. Saya gentleman selalu. Saya tak bagi, duduk dulu.

Tuan Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar [Rembau]: Kenapa Yang Berhormat PJ Utara tak baca RM4 bilion untuk Dasar Keselamatan Makanan?

Tuan Pua Kiam Wee [Petaling Jaya Utara]: Inilah dia. Tuan Yang di-Pertua.

Timbalan Yang di-Pertua [Datuk Ronald Kiandee]: Ya teruskan, teruskan Yang Berhormat PJ Utara.

Tuan Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar [Rembau]: Tak, saya tak nak orang putar belitkan fakta.

Timbalan Yang di-Pertua [Datuk Ronald Kiandee]: Tak apalah Yang Berhormat.

Tuan Pua Kiam Wee [Petaling Jaya Utara]: Eh, saya nak berikan fakta. You tak bagi saya jawab, saya nak jawab ini.

Tuan Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar [Rembau]: RM4 bilion untuk Dasar Keselamatan Makanan.

Puan Fong Po Kuan [Batu Gajah]: [Menyampuk] Jangan bisinglah Yang Berhormat Rembau.

Timbalan Yang di-Pertua [Datuk Ronald Kiandee]: Ya teruskan Yang Berhormat PJ Utara.

Tuan Pua Kiam Wee [Petaling Jaya Utara]: Okey, perkara yang satu. Subsidi makanan tak sampai ....

Tuan N. Gobalakrishnan [Padang Serai]: [Menyampuk] Yang Berhormat Rembau jadi menteri senang. Bapa mertua Perdana Menteri.

Timbalan Yang di-Pertua [Datuk Ronald Kiandee]: Minta jalan Yang Berhormat ya.

Tuan Pua Kiam Wee [Petaling Jaya Utara]: ....subsidi makanan tak sampai RM2 bilion.

Yang kedua, maksud Yang Berhormat Rembau itu sistem pengangkutan awam di kawasan
Lembah Kelang, di Johor Bahru, di Pulau Pinang tidak penting, tidak penting. Oleh sebab itu
dipinggirkan oleh kerajaan Barisan Nasional.

Yang ketiga, walaupun minyak petrol, harga minyak petrol pasaran seluruh dunia telah meningkat, akan tetapi bajet negara kita sejak tahun 2005 telah meningkat sekurang-kurangnya RM40 bilion. Kenapa tak boleh berikan sedikit, lebih sikit untuk pengangkutan awam. Kenapa tak boleh? Kegagalan sistem pengangkutan awam di Malaysia hari ini siapa yang patut bertanggungjawab?

Timbalan Yang di-Pertua [Datuk Ronald Kiandee]: Gulung Yang Berhormat, gulung.

Tuan Pua Kiam Wee [Petaling Jaya Utara]: Okey. Hakikat ini, hakikat yang dijelaskan
Yang Berhormat Perdana Menteri telah mengumumkan satu lagi suruhanjaya yang baru iaitu
Suruhanjaya Pengangkutan Awam. Penubuhan suruhanjaya ini nampaknya lucu sedikit kerana
kita sudah ada Kementerian Pengangkutan. Kenapa pula perlu sebuah Suruhanjaya
Pengangkutan lagi? Sebenarnya Yang Amat Berhormat Perdana Menteri menubuhkan
suruhanjaya baru ini adalah sebab Kerajaan Barisan Nasional ini mempunyai cara
And now, I don't think I'll ever finish a speech in parliament without our PASIR SALAK friend raising the issue of blogs. It's quite farcical actually... ;-)
Dato' Haji Tajuddin Abdul Rahman [Pasir Salak]: [Menyampuk] Main blog saja lah.

Tuan Pua Kiam Wee [Petaling Jaya Utara]: Terima kasih Yang Berhormat Pasir Salak. Saya tahu [Pasir Salak] tak ada blog.

Timbalan Yang di-Pertua [Datuk Ronald Kiandee]: Ya gulung Yang Berhormat, gulung.

Dato' Haji Tajuddin Abdul Rahman [Pasir Salak]: [Menyampuk] Tak layak jadi wakil rakyat pun. Main bloglah.
Anyway, it's certainly a better speech compared to some others I've made in Parliament (in terms of delivery, the last one being quite poor). Will see if I can put up a video of it somewhere. ;-) As mentioned earlier, the full text of the actual speech is here.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Deja Vu

Anwar has been taken in by the police.

It feels a little like 1998 all over again.

I won't write in detail because the issue is being discussed right now all over blogosphere ad nauseam.

My little wish:

1. The Royal Malaysian Police with conduct its investigations in a fair, controlled and professional manner.

2. That Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim will be treated with total respect and decorum as an individual who is innocent until proven guilty under Malaysian laws. We do not need another black eye for Malaysia.

3. That if he is charged, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim will be given a expedious, fair and just trial under an independent judge of integrity. Justice must not only be served by be seen to be served.

All the political brinkmanship, drama and threats today while superficial, has downgraded the perceived stability of this country which will only result in a further weakening economic situation, especially in the light of the existing turmoil in the global economy.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Blogging Pasir Salak

I wrote about the Yang Berhormat from Pasir Salak at the start of the previous parliamentary session, on the fact that he's an unapologetic Malay nationalist of the ketuanan Melayu mold. Together with the so-called independent, Yang Berhormat from Pasir Mas, Ibrahim Ali, they lead the charge of Malay rights in the parliament, taking no prisoners, be they ministers or opposition MPs.

About a week or two after my blog post, he confronted (not in the violent sense) me on my blog post which "hentam" him, to which I said, if need to "hentam", must "hentam"-lah. It was quite amusing because he carried the print out of my blog post with him (and wanted to show it to me ;-)). He went on to gripe the fact that I spend my time blogging in parliament instead of debating, which is what I should be doing. I didn't bother challenging his views.

Then I had another "bow and scrape" with him at the end of last session blogged here.

Last week, there was another little amusing, shake-your-head, laugh-out-loud-inside type incident. Check out the text from the Hansard here, and posted below. It all started when Pasir Salak started his spill on the fact that while the public universities (IPTA) have a majority of bumiputera students, the private universities (IPTS) have very few of them i.e., he wanted the Ministry of Higher Education to ensure that there are "proportionate" numbers of bumiputera students in these institutions as well(!)
Dato' Haji Tajuddin Abdul Rahman [Pasir Salak]: Saya minta penjelasan. Yang
Berhormat Menteri, saya ingat tidak tahulah saya, mungkin saya salah ataupun Yang Berhormat macam mana, angka itu saya rasa tidak berapa tepat. Sebab saya juga mengikuti perkembangan sektor pelajaran dalam sektor swasta, private education. Boleh dikatakan kalau macam HELP, ambil contoh HELP, ambil contoh Taylor College, ambil contoh Sunway College. All these colleges almost 90% dengan izin, student dia bukan bumiputera. Jadi macam mana boleh over all tadi disebut bahawa bumiputera ada 53% dalam private education. Tolong bagi contoh mana dia kolej-kolej swasta atau universiti kolej swasta yang bumiputeranya ramai? Give me an example please, dengan izin.

Tuan Pua Kiam Wee [Petaling Jaya Utara]: [Bercakap tanpa pembesar suara]
(This was the part I kept shouting "Kosmopoint" as an example of such a private university - I didn't switch on my mic)

Dato' Haji Tajuddin Abdul Rahman [Pasir Salak]: Ya? Apa dia?

Tuan Pua Kiam Wee [Petaling Jaya Utara]: [Bercakap tanpa pembesar suara]
(This was the part I repeated "Kosmopoint" as an example of such a private university)

Dato' Haji Tajuddin Abdul Rahman [Pasir Salak]: Belum jadi menteri lagi, jangan
jawab! [Ketawa]

Dato' Seri Mohamed Khaled bin Nordin: Menteri ada pembantu... [Ketawa]

Shortly after that, came another short episode:
Dato' Haji Tajuddin Abdul Rahman [Pasir Salak]: Okey, okey, sedikit sahaja.
Penjelasan Yang Berhormat, Yang Berhormat kan hendak habis? Saya minta, okeylah. UNITEN termasuk kategori IPTS dan begitu ramai sekali pelajar bumiputera. Akan tetapi, saya hendak tahu sekarang ini, apa tindakan kerajaan untuk memastikan populasi pelajar bumiputera dalam institusi-institusi pengajian tinggi swasta yang bukan kerajaan. Taylor College, Sunway College, HELP, KDU dan banyak lagi. Saya hendak kolej-kolej ini yang pelajar dia...

Dato' Ibrahim Ali [Pasir Mas]: [Bangun]

Tuan Pua Kiam Wee [Petaling Jaya Utara]: [Bangun]

(I got up at this stage with the intention to "fry" Pasir Salak on his dangerously race-based approach whereby the free market where students have a choice in choosing their schools have also to come under quota controls. Unfortunately the Minister of Higher Education didn't give me the floor to rebutt.)

Timbalan Yang di-Pertua [Datuk Ronald Kiandee]: Ahli Yang Berhormat, tidak boleh bangun masa sekarang Yang Berhormat. Menteri menjawab, baru Yang Berhormat bangun.

Dato' Haji Tajuddin Abdul Rahman [Pasir Salak]: Main bloglah kat situ. Buka komputer itu, do the blogging. That is your job, blogging. [Ketawa] Blog sahaja tidak habis-habis. Daripada dahulu sampai hari ini...

Puan Fong Po Kuan [Batu Gajah]: [Menyampuk]

Dato' Haji Tajuddin Abdul Rahman [Pasir Salak]: ...Pengundi bukan pilih untuk main blog dalam itu...

Tuan Pua Kiam Wee [Petaling Jaya Utara]: Okeylah.. [main blog] tetap boleh menang tu!
So, essentially, Pasir Salak has 2 problems. First, he has a problem with the fact that non-bumiputeras deserves equal rights to quality education in this country. And second, he has a problem with blogging as a valid and progressive means of communication with our constituency, and our form of dialogue/discussion with Malaysians and voters.

One would have thought that for someone who lives in one of the wealthiest districts in Kuala Lumpur, would have better sense than that. He had boasted (pg 132) in parliament that he was the former founder of DRB Hicom and an expert in the automotive industry as well (!).
Dato' Haji Tajuddin Abdul Rahman [Pasir Salak]: Saya bercakap asalnya dahulu. Di
mana teknologi syarikat-syarikat automotif Jepun ini memperoleh teknologi dan belajar daripada mana. Synergy dengan syarikat mana. Yang Berhormat budak lagi saya dah dalam industri automotif.

Beberapa Ahli: Woo!

Dato' Haji Tajuddin Abdul Rahman [Pasir Salak]: Ya. I was the founder of DRB Group for your information. You jangan main-main, 30 tahun dahulu saya sudah melawat semua kilang-kilang kereta di negeri Jepun, Korea, Seoul dengan izin, you don’t know me, you don’t talk. Your experience is nothing just like this.

Tuan Haji Mahfuz bin Omar [Pokok Sena]: Hey, angin nampak hari ini.

Dato' Haji Tajuddin bin Abdul Rahman [Pasir Salak]: Tak. Dia cuba under estimate,
what do you know about automotive industry?, I want to ask you!

Timbalan Yang di-Pertua [Datuk Ronald Kiandee]: Yang Berhormat.

Dato' Haji Tajuddin bin Abdul Rahman [Pasir Salak]: Berbalik kepada soal Proton.

Timbalan Yang di-Pertua [Datuk Ronald Kiandee]: MITI Yang Berhormat, MITI.
It's really quite hilarious sometimes. But he is fortunate that he contested in Pasir Salak (Perak) and not say, Kota Raja or Titiwangsa in the Klang Valley.

Regardless, I did receive a beautiful invitation card from him for his daughter's wedding dinner last weekend, which I was unfortunately unable to attend. Congratulations are due nevertheless. ;-)

ADUN Banned from School Reunion (II) - Minister's Reply

As promised, I raised the issue with regards to the state assemblywoman for Subang Jaya, Hannah Yeoh, being prevented from attending even her own prefects' reunion of her secondary school, SMK Subang Utama, just because she doesn't obviously belong to the "right" party.

The Deputy Minister for Education, Dr Wee Ka Siong who kindly waited for me in parliament late in the evening despite the absence of opposition MPs in the afternoon yesterday, replied to my question posted here.

In a gist, his reply stated and insisted that:
  1. No one is barred from attending functions in schools, including opposition MPs or non-Barisan Nasional ADUNs. Specifically Hannah was never "banned" from the prefects' reunion.

  2. There is however a circular which reinforces the need for prior permission to be obtained from the state education authorities before VIPs are allowed to be present in the school.
I disagree with the bureaucratic approach of "approving" VIPs, but I leave the issue aside first. Hence based on the above expected reply, there can only be a few possibilities:
  1. The Ministry of Education is lying that no instructions were given.

  2. The principal of SMK Subang Utama is lying that instructions were given.
I spoke to the Deputy Minister privately after the session and informed him that the principal sepcifically told Hannah that she is not permitted to attend the prefects' reunion held outside the school under instructions from the Ministry.

And I specifically asked him that if no such instructions were given, is the principal in error, and have clearly made judgement calls beyond his or her authority, which has resulting in the ridiculous situation of Hannah forbidden from attending a private function held by her own alumni. He replied affirmative, and he said that he'll have a word with the principal (which I hope he'll carry out).

He also added that we can take his parliamentary reply to the principal and insist to any other principal that non-BN MPs and ADUNs being "banned" from schools is not the policy of the Ministry and demand the necessary corrections. Alma maters of SMK Subang Utama are hence encouraged to write to the principal citing his reply on the matter to reprimand the principal for abusing his/her authority.

In future, should any parent face similar problems, please let me know in advance (with details) such that I can obtain the necessary clarification or even approval from the Ministry of Education.

Below is the Deputy Ministers' reply in full (you can also check out the Hansard, pg 186):
Tuan Yang di-Pertua, pada kesempatan ini izinkan saya memberi penjelasan terhadap perkara yang telah dibangkitkan oleh Yang Berhormat Petaling Jaya Utara berkaitan dengan undangan menghadiri majlis rasmi di sekolah. Tuan Yang di-Pertua, Kementerian Pelajaran Malaysia telah mengeluarkan beberapa pekeliling berkaitan dengan undang kepada tetamu kehormat ke majlis-majlis rasmi di sekolah.

Antaranya Surat Pekeliling Ikhtisas Bilangan 10/1989, Atur cara Majlis Rasmi Sekolah bertarikh 5 Oktober 1989, Surat Pekeliling Ikhtisas Bilangan 3/1991, mengundang orang-orang kenamaan ke upacara sekolah, institusi pendidikan bertarikh 16 Mei 1991 dan yang terbaru berhubung dengan perkara ini adalah Surat pekeliling Ikhtisas Bilangan 3/2008, mengundang orang-orang kenamaan ke upacara sekolah dan penggunaan premis sekolah yang bertarikh 31 Mac 2008.

KPM sedia maklum dalam kalendar sekolah lazimnya terdapat beberapa peristiwa
tertentu yang dianggap penting serta diberi keutamaan sebagai majlis rasmi sekolah. Di antara majlis tersebut termasuklah Hari Anugerah Kecemerlangan, Hari Terbuka Sukan Tahunan dan Mesyuarat Agung PIBG yang kesemuanya melibatkan kehadiran jemputan khas, sering kali pihak sekolah akan mengundang pembesar-pembesar negeri, orang-orang kenamaan, wakil rakyat ataupun pegawai kanan jabatan atau kementerian untuk merasmikan majlis tersebut.

Mengenai dakwaan Ahli Yang Berhormat, berhubung dengan larangan wakil rakyat menghadiri majlis pertemuan semula ataupun reunion pengawas sekolah tersebut, seperti yang telah saya jelaskan pada ucapan penggulungan Kajian Separuh Penggal yang lalu, bahawa setakat ini Kementerian Pelajaran tidak pernah mengeluarkan arahan secara spesifik yang melarang Ahli Parlimen atau wakil rakyat pembangkang untuk menyertai ataupun memasuki sekolah untuk menyertai program tersebut.

Namun untuk makluman Ahli Yang Berhormat, KPM telah menetapkan bahawa semua majlis rasmi di sekolah yang melibatkan majlis perasmian oleh orang-orang kenamaan atau individu-individu tertentu hendaklah mendapat kebenaran daripada KPM melalui pengarah
pelajaran negeri masing-masing terlebih dahulu bagi memastikan majlis yang dianjurkan bukan untuk tujuan politik serta tidak mengganggu pengajaran dan pembelajaran murid.

Sehubungan dengan itu, perkara ini usahlah dipolitikkan kerana apa yang paling penting adalah untuk memastikan institusi pendidikan berjalan dengan baik dan tidak dipengaruhi dengan unsur-unsur yang boleh merosakkan pemikiran murid-murid.

Jika kita benar-benar ikhlas dalam membangunkan institusi pendidikan, sama-samalah kita mencari satu jalan untuk menyumbang kepada perkara-perkara yang memberi kebaikan dan faedah untuk anak-anak kita. Sekian, Terima kasih.

I will also discuss with Hannah on the next steps, on whether this issue needs to be pursued further. ;-)

Monday, July 14, 2008

ADUN Banned from School Reunion (II)

I promised in my earlier posts - here and here - that I will bring up the issue of our state assemblywoman, Hannah Yeoh of Subang Jaya being banned from attending a gathering of school prefect alumni by her school, SMK Subang Utama, in parliament.

Read also her update given on the issue on 25th June on her blog where she wrote that she has "met up with the principal of SMK Subang Utama. An explanation has been sought. They have conveyed to me that they are required to comply with the instructions given by the Education Ministry."

Well, despite a walkout by parliamentarians from the opposition earlier today, I'll be returning to parliament later this evening to deliver the pre-scheduled adjournment speech on the above issue address to the Ministry of Education. There, I'll receive a formal and immediate reply from either the Minister or Deputy Minister (they have about 14 days advance notice to prepare the reply).

The following is the text of my speech, and I'll post the Minister's reply once it's put up in the Hansard tomorrow.
Pada hujung bulan lalu, ADUN Negeri Selangor untuk Subang Jaya, YB Hannah Yeoh dilarang menghadiri satu majlis perjumpaan semula, dengan izin, reunion pengawas Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan, SMK Subang Utama di luar kawasan sekolah.

Apatah lagi, YB Subang Jaya merupakan seorang bekas Ketua Pengawas sekolah tersebut. YB Subang Jaya telah dilarang daripada menghadiri majlis reunion pengawas sekolah asalnya kerana dia kini seorang wakil rakyat bukan Barisan Nasional. Ini adalah satu perkara yang langsung tidak masuk akal.

Perjumpaan reunion bukan majlis yang dianjurkan oleh pihak sekolah dan tidak menggunakan wang sekolah. Kos majlis ini dibiayai oleh wang peribadi pengawas.

Namun, cikgu-cikgu dan pengawas-pengawas sekolah diberi amaran bahawa tindakan tegas akan diambil jika YB Subang Jaya menghadiri majlis tersebut. Mengapakah kerajaan sekarang bersikap begitu kebudak-budakan sehingga memilih kehadiran ke majlis peribadi pelajar-pelajar sekolah?

Apabila ADUN mendapatkan penjelasan daripada gurubesar sekolah, YB Subang Jaya diberitahu bahawa arahan telah diberikan oleh Kementerian Pendidikan.

Ada juga pihak persatuan ibu-bapa guru yang telah meminta peruntukan daripada YB Subang Jaya, akan tetapi pada masa yang sama, secara langsung tidak membenarkan nya untuk menghadiri jamuan malam yang berkenan.

Saya ingin memohon Kementerian Pendidikan memberi penjelasan terhadap keputusan pihak berkuasa di sekolah yang melarang kehadiran wakil rakyat bukan Barisan Nasional menyertai aktiviti-aktiviti sekolah. Malah aktiviti luar sekolah yang tidak dianjur oleh sekolah, seperti prefects reunion pun sama sekali dilarang.

Kementerian Pendidikan telah kerap kali mengumumkan bahawa kementerian tidak mengeluarkan arahan seperti di atas dan hanya memerlukan kebenaran diperolehi dahulu.

Akan tetapi, jikalau kementerian sebenarnya ingin mengecualikan topik politik daripada sekolah-sekolah kita, keluarkanlah pekeliling mengenai perkara-perkara yang dilarang diucap dalam sekolah dan bukannya menghadkan penjemputan mengikut kenamaan seseorang.

Kalau kementerian tidak berniat meminggirkan wakil rakyat daripada Pakatan Rakyat, apakah tindakan yang akan diambil oleh Kementerian ke atas pihak gurubesar yang telah menyalahkan kementerian dalam perkara ini.

Akhir sekali, apakah langkah yang akan diambil oleh Kementerian supaya hal seperti ini tidak akan tertimbul lagi pada masa yang akan datang?
I don't know about you, but frankly, I'm going to expect the typical "BN government is fair and is not discriminating against anyone" reply.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Transportation Priorities

The following is an article forwarded to me with regards to concerns over the mixed-up priorities of the BN government over transportation infrastructure investments. The RM16 billion double-tracking project goes ahead but the RM3.6 monorail in Penang gets shelved.

The author is a Director of Research with a fund management company, and with his kind permission, I'll post his analysis here.

Can we really afford RM16bn in double tracking railways?
Choong Khuat Hock

Trains have transformed transportation and boosted economic activities since steam locomotives were introduced in 1800s. Lately fast train services between cities have linked cities thereby enhancing economic linkages. Examples include the Shinkansen trains in Japan with speeds of up to 300km per hour, the Taiwan High Speed Rail which reduced the travel time of the 335.5km Taipei to Kaohsiung route from 4.5 hours to 90 minutes and the French high speed TGV trains which connect major French cities. TGV trainsets travel at up to 320 km/h in commercial use.

A specially modified TGV trainset attained 574.8 km/h on test runs, narrowly missed beating the overall world train speed record of 581km/h which was reached in 2003 by a Japanese magnetic levitation or maglev trains. Unfortunately, the proposed high speed train from KL to Singapore taking only 90 minutes has been cancelled.

The fast train proposal from KL to Johor/Singapore linking metropolitan areas with a population of 11m would have boosted property prices in KL and Johor and enhance the services sector of both cities. With private sector participation in a bankable project, the cost to taxpayers would have been minimised.

Instead at a time when the people are being asked to make sacrifices to reduce subsidies for the sake of development projects, one has to question the economic benefits arising from the Double Tracking Railway from Ipoh to the Thai border that will cost taxpayer RM12.5bn, of which RM5bn is just for signaling.

This project was initially supposed to be a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) funded by the private sector but as the financial return from the project is bad, it was decided that the funding will come from the government (i.e. taxpayers). The 329km Ipoh to Padang Besar railway will cost a massive RM38m per km which is 62% higher than RM23.5km for the 179km double-tracking railway from Rawang to Ipoh, completed for only RM4.2bn.

It is difficult to justify the economics of the project especially when KTMB only generated RM70.7m from their intercity services and RM113.0m from freight services in 2006. The freight services are less sensitive to travel time so the main benefit is likely to be shorter commuting time for passengers. Cutting the travelling time to 2.5 hours is hardly an irrestible proposition as the journey by road is only 2 hours. KTMB which made a net loss of RM99.2m at the group level in 2006, is definitely not in a position to fund the double tracking railway.

The double tracking project from Ipoh to Padang Besar has been awarded to Gamuda and MMC. Margins for the project have been squeezed by rising steel, cement and other building material costs. The project requires 400,000 tonnes of steel.

In addition to that, the government has also awarded a RM3.5bn contract to build a double track from Seremban to Gemas. The contract was awarded to an Indian company, IRCON International, which in turn subcontracted infrastructure works to a JV between IJM and Norwest which won a RM490.1m contract and a JV between Loh & Loh and Pasti Abad isdn Bhd which won a RM273.0m contract.

At a time when there is a need to enhance public transport within cities to relieve congestion and to reduce vehicle use, spending a total of RM16bn (largest among government development projects) on rails from Ipoh to the Thai border and Seremban to Gemas is rather perplexing.

In the meantime, the much needed RM1.6bn Penang monorail has been deferred. The monorail or an alternative system would have helped to relieve acute traffic congestion in George Town. For the project to happen, the co-operation of the Ministry of Transport and the Penang State Government is required. In the mid-term review of the 9th Malaysian Plan, the government has deferred the much needed project while proceeding with the less economically viable double tracking railway projects.

The LRT and monorails in the Klang Valley which were completed in 1998 do not have a good track record. Star and PUTRA had to be bailed out by the government through the issue of RM5.5bn of bonds backed by government-owned Syarikat Prasarana Negara Malaysia (SPNB) in 2001 as the traffic volumes were less than one third of forecast demand. The LRT operations were leased back to the management of PUTRA and STAR while taxpayers bore the debt. The KL Monorail which started operations in 2003 was also loss-making and its RM882m loan has to be assumed by SPNB in November 2007.

Criticisms of the KL urban rail systems include the lack of connectivity and capacity constraints. The Bangkok Transit System (BTS), HK’s Mass Transit Railway (MTR) and the Singapore Mass Rapid Transit (SMRT) appear to be better planned and enjoy superior capacity and connectivity.

It is true that the government needs to spend on infrastructure but it is important that taxpayers’ money is spent on projects that generate economic returns for the country. Construction companies being awarded the massive railway jobs may not be smiling as rises in building material prices have eaten into margins. Cost overruns are likely to increase the price tags of these mega-projects while further rises in oil prices have whittled away savings in subsidies arising from the fuel price hike.

This is clearly a time when unnecessary mega-projects need to be derailed.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Adjournment Speech on Crime in PJ - Ministerial Response

I blogged on my adjournment speech on crime in Petaling Jaya earlier, and I have received the verbal reply by the Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Dato' Chor Chee Heung on the issue.

By and large, I was disappointed with the Deputy Minister's reply on 2 aspects.

Firstly, with 1-2 exceptions, the Deputy Minister didn't give specific answers, especially with regards to Petaling Jaya but instead just gave very generic answers such as "the government will increase police staff", without mentioning how many are planned for Petaling Jaya. Without such information, we can never tell if the government's plans will or will not be sufficient.

Secondly, the Ministry appears to continue the emphasis that part of the blame for the high crime rates has to fall on the victims themselves for being careless, and the solution to that is to have more seminars. In addition, the Ministry and the police kept also harping on the fact that they need public co-operation to reduce and resolve crime. While I'll agree that yes, co-operation is necessary, it's not the most important of factors which is causing the high crime rates. There is little or no mention on how the police force can be made more efficient or more effective in fighting and preventing crime.

Anyway, read his reply copied here as a whole and judge for yourself his response.
Tuan Yang di-Pertua, Ahli Yang Berhormat Petaling Jaya Utara adalah membangkitkan isu-isu mengenai situasi jenayah yang semakin berleluasa di negara ini termasuk di Petaling Jaya dan langkah-langkah bagi menangani.

Sebagai maklumat Ahli Yang Berhormat, indeks jenayah bagi Petaling Jaya untuk tahun 2007 adalah sebanyak 10,357 kes ataupun 17.67% daripada jumlah indeks jenayah bagi negeri Selangor. Dari jumlah tersebut, 2,241 kes melibatkan jenayah kekerasan dan 8,116 kes adalah merupakan jenayah harta benda.

Tuan Yang di-Pertua, jumlah keanggotaan anggota polis Ibu Pejabat Daerah Petaling Jaya pada 31 Mei 2008 adalah seramai 1,338 anggota daripada 10,246 anggota di seluruh Kontinjen Selangor. Nisbah anggota polis dengan penduduk bagi daerah Petaling Jaya bagi tahun 2007 adalah nisbahnya setiap seorang anggota polis untuk 1,300 orang penduduk dan sehingga Mei 2008 adalah setiap seorang anggota dan penduduknya ialah 1,279.

Polis Diraja Malaysia sedang berusaha untuk menambah perjawatan keanggotaan polis di seluruh negara terutamanya yang melibatkan perkhidmatan kepada masyarakat.

Cadangan penambahan perjawatan di semua balai polis seluruh negara telah dikemukakan kepada agensi pusat dan akan dipertimbangkan mengikut keutamaan. Bagi Kontinjen Selangor terdapat 55 buah balai polis dinaiktarafkan dan penambahan perjawatan anggota polis dilaksanakan bagi mengurangkan beban tugas pegawai dan anggota.

Ini secara tidak langsungnya dapat mengurangkan nisbah antara penduduk dan polis negeri Selangor.

Tuan Yang di-Pertua, Polis Diraja Malaysia juga sentiasa berusaha menyelesaikan kes-kes jenayah. Walau bagaimanapun penglibatan dan komitmen daripada masyarakat juga perlu bagi membantu pihak polis dalam mencegah jenayah daripada berlaku.

Berdasarkan kajian, pihak polis mendapati bahawa terdapatnya peluang yang membolehkan jenayah itu berlaku. Kelalaian dan kecuaian pemilik harta contohnya penyebab utama kepada jenayah harta benda. Sehubungan itu, kesedaran masyarakat perlu ditingkatkan lagi agar menyedari betapa kerjasama daripada mereka dapat membantu pihak polis dalam mencegah sesuatu jenayah.

Dalam mengurangkan kadar jenayah, Polis Diraja Malaysia mengambil beberapa langkah dengan meningkatkan lagi perondaan bit, MPV dan motosikal, mewujudkan balai ataupun pondok polis baru dengan sewaan bangunan, kedai ataupun perumahan di kawasan yang mempunyai kekerapan berlakunya kejadian jenayah. Maklumat melalui Rakan Cop dengan penghantaran sistem pesanan ringkas dan sistem pesanan multimedia dan menambah kehadiran polis di kawasan-kawasan yang berkenaan.

Polis Diraja Malaysia juga mengadakan kerjasama yang erat dengan Kerajaan Tempatan dan lain-lain agensi kerajaan seperti JKKK Daerah, Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri dan Ahli Parlimen, mengadakan kempen-kempen ceramah dan pameran-pameran berkaitan senario jenayah, menggunakan sistem kamera litar tertutup CCTV di kawasan tertentu, mengadakan kerjasama dengan NGO dan juga Malaysian Grant Prevention Foundation dan juga mengenakan tindakan undang-undang termasuk Undang-undang Pencegahan terhadap penjenayahpenjenayah.

Tuan Yang di-Pertua, pembukaan 60 balai polis dan 55 pondok polis komuniti baru bagi kontinjen Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Johor dan Pulau Pinang adalah merupakan strategi pendekatan oleh Polis Diraja Malaysia dalam usaha membanteras jenayah dan mengawal
keselamatan penduduk bandar. Dengan kewujudan balai polis dan pondok polis komuniti ini, dapat menempatkan anggota-anggota polis di kalangan masyarakat dan dengan secara tidak langsung, kehadiran polis dapat menghalang kegiatan penjenayah dan meningkatkan lagi keyakinan masyarakat.

Selain daripada itu, kewujudan balai polis dan pondok polis komuniti ini juga dapat mendekatkan masyarakat dengan pihak polis serta memudahkan masyarakat mendapat perkhidmatan polis. Masyarakat boleh turut membantu pihak polis dalam menyalurkan maklumat. Melalui kewujudan balai polis dan pondok polis komuniti ini, pihak polis dapat bertindak dengan pantas dalam menangani sesuatu isu. Polis Diraja Malaysia juga merangka Pelaksanaan Command Control Communication and Computer Integration System di bilik-bilik gerakan setiap kontinjen di seluruh Malaysia agar bantuan dapat disalurkan dengan lebih cepat dan sistematik. Dengan adanya sistem ini, respond time dapat dipendekkan dengan purata lapan minit bagi setiap laporan.

Sekian, terima kasih.
To be frank, I'm feeling a little helpless on how to help reduce crime, besides getting the residents to take the necessary measures to protect themselves. The government don't seem to have any specific directions in do so. I did speak to the Deputy Minister after that to request for specific numbers for PJ, and he said to write in again for the numbers.

So, what can we do next?

Adjournment Speech on Crime in PJ

I delivered my first adjournment speech on crime in Petaling Jaya 2 days ago in Parliament. It was focused on crime because that's probably the most pressing issue in my constituency, and in all likelihood, many others.

Basically, in this session of parliament, 2 MPs are given opportunities to present problems or issues to specific ministries for a reply by the Minister or his deputy. This is done at the end of each day, when the Dewan is nearly empty, but you'd need to book at least 7 days in advance, including submission of the speech text, subject to availability of time-slots. And it's limited to about 400 words

My speech is as follows:
Walaupun, saya hanya menjadi ahli parlimen selama 4 bulan, saya telah menerima banyak aduan mengenai kes-kes jenayah di kawasan PJU melalui emel, telefon dan pusat perkhidmatan saya.

Sebanyak empat puluh peratus semua aduan-aduan yang saya terima daripada penduduk Petaling Jaya Utara menglibatkan masalah-masalah jenayah, dan saya percaya, ahli-ahli lain di dewan di sini juga menghadapi masalah yang sama.

Kadang-kala saya berasa amat tidak berdaya kerana kuasa mengatasi masalah ini bukan berada di tangan saya.

Bilangan tinggi kes jenayah di Petaling Jaya adalah antara yang tertinggi di seluruh Malaysia. Di kawasan Petaling Jaya Utara sahaja, banyak kes yang dilaporkan setiap hari seperti pemandu-pemandu kereta dirompak semasa meletak kereta dan apabila berjalan-jalan. Adik saya dirampas ugut, isteri saya pun baru-baru dirompak di hadapan rumah!

Antara beberapa kawasan bawah Petaling Jaya Utara, terutamanya Damansara Jaya, Damansara Utama, SS20 and kawasan pinggiran, Bandar Utama, Mutiara Damansara, Bandar Sri Damansara, terdapatnya lebih daripada 200,000 orang penduduk, akan tetapi ahli-ahli polis yang ditempatkan di kawasan Damansara cumanya 124 orang.

Apakah langkah-langkah yang akan diambil oleh kementerian untuk menambahkan bilangan ahli polis dan juga pondok polis di kawasan Petaling Jaya, khususnya di kawasan yang mencatatkan bilangan kes jenayah yang tinggi?

Mengikut OCPD Petaling Jaya, nisbah anggota polis kepada rakyat di Petaling Jaya adalah kira-kira seorang anggota polis untuk 1800 penduduk, mengikut OCPD. Malah ada kawasan di Petaling Jaya di mana nisbah seteruk seorang polis untuk 4000 orang penduduk. Ini adalah jauh kurang daripada piawai dunia iaitu seorang bagi 250 orang penduduk.

Pada masa yang sama, OCPD berkata, untuk mengurangkan kadar jenayah sebanyak 30%, nisbah ini hendaklah dikurangkan ke 1:350 – soalannya, adakah kerajaan kita mempunyai tekad untuk melaksanakan langkah-langkah yang berpatutan? Apakah nisbah sasaran untuk PJ bagi setiap tahun yang akan datang sebelum tahun 2012?

Selain daripada itu, antara aduan yang sering sekali adalah masalah anggota polis yang bersikap “tidak kesah” ataupun dengan izin, apathetic kerana tiada "urgency" untuk menyelesaikan kes-kes, terutamanya semasa menerima laporan kes. Banyak juga mengambil masa yang tidak munasabah dalam memberi prihatin kepada kes-kes yang sedang berlaku, seperti masa tiga puluh minit untuk pergi ke kawasan jenayah.

Baru sahaja pagi ini, saya mendapat aduan mengenai Pejabat Polis Sea Park melayan seorang mangsa pembokaran dari Taman Paramount dengan cara yang kurang bersopan dan menyinggungkan perasaan. Walaupun penjenayah dapat melarikan dirinya apabila dikejar, akan tetapi, dia tertinggal kasutnya. Akan tetapi pihak polis enggan menerima bahan bukti tersebut dan enggan mengambil sebarang kesan cap jari di rumahnya.

[The paragraph above was added impromptu, which wasn't actually allowed, as the adjournment speech text was to have been provided a week earlier, but I wanted to make the point with an example]

Saya, dan juga keramai ahli parlimen di Dewan ini berasa, kes baru ini akan juga menjadi fail-fail yang kian bertambah yang tidak akan mendapat penyelesaian.

Oleh itu, saya meminta Kementerian Dalam Negeri menjelaskan langkah-langkah yang terperinci untuk mengatasi masalah jenayah di Petaling Jaya, terutamanya untuk menambahkan anggota polis yang mencukupi untuk menjalankan tugas polis dengan berkesan. Adakah pelan-pelan ini tengah dilaksanakan dan bagaimanakah perkembangan pelan-pelan tersebut?
The Deputy Minister of Home Affairs, Dato' Chor Chee Heung responded to the issue raised, which is available here in the Hansard on page 187. I wasn't too impressed with the response, a fair bit of regurgitation of information without any real zeal to resolve the issue. I'll blog about it in the next post.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Damansara Uptown Charity Carnival

The spastic children delivered a rasa sayang performance

Just to lend support to the charity carnival at Damansara Uptown, right behind my service centre, which is being held for the Spastic Children's Association of Selangor and Federal Territory (SCAS &FT), and organised by See Hoy Chan Sdn Bhd Group.

The carnival will take place on July 27 (Sunday) from 9am to 2pm at the Uptown public car park in Damansara Uptown (opposite Uptown 37).

The following is the press report by The Star:
AT A time when many people are prudent with their spending, charitable organisations are in greater need of donations.


According to SCAS&FT president Datuk Dr Lam Peng Chong, the association needs about RM2mil a year to provide transport, food, education and living skills training to about 300 children.

The association is also trying to raise RM12mil to redevelop its 47-year-old building into a twin six-storey building, which would have rental space to generate revenue for the centre.

Also present at the press conference were See Hoy Chan executive vice-president Joe Tan, Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua and Damansara Utama assemblyman Dr Cheah Wing Yin.

Armed with a keyboard, drums and tambourines, about 10 children from the home then put on a musical performance for the guests.

Pua, who took time out from the parliamentary sitting to attend the event, said issues at the Parliament bogged him down as he was on his way to the event.

“When I saw them performing, I knew that other matters can wait. We sometimes lose focus on the important things in life,” said Pua, who was moved by the performance.

See you there! ;-)

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Billboard in SS2 II

Following my post here on the billboard which carried the contacts for Damansara Utama ADUN as well as mine on the controversial SS2 billboard, The Star Metro has taken the case up once again last Friday.
“The company has never asked us for permission to do so. I'm not against them putting up our numbers but I think it was rather discourteous of them not to ask us first,” Pua said.

He also said the company should specify on the billboard that it was sponsored for and not paid for with money from the state or the elected representatives.

According to Dr Cheah, there was no communication between the company and him before they printed his phone numbers. “They even got the name of my constituency wrong. It says Damansara Damai instead of Damansara Utama,” Cheah said.

Setia Media officials could not be reached for comments.
I've yet to receive any communications from Setia Media since the article was published, and I've not yet seen any change to the billboard. We'll see what happens. ;-)

Public Transportation Mess

This was the Part 2 of my speech to debate the 9th Malaysia Plan mid-term review, which would have been delivered, had the time to speak not been cut to 10 minutes. As I mentioned earlier, on hindsight I probably should have spoken on this Part 2 which covered the issue of transportation and not Part 1 on economy which many have spoken about.

Anyway, I wanted to highlight the complete overhaul which is needed to solve our public transportation problems in this country. I had also voiced my disappointment to the policies (if any) which was put forward by the Prime Minister in the mid-term review.

Di kalangan pertubuhan bukan kerajaan (NGO), cadangan YB Perdana Menteri untuk mewujudkan satu Pelan Induk Pengangkutan amat menggelikan (amused). Ini bermaksud selama 50 tahun ini, kerajaan telah lalai dalam tanggungjawabnya kerana kerajaan telah mengurus tanpa sebarang pelan untuk mewujudkan satu sistem pengangkutan yang terpadu.

Sekarang, harga minyak telah meningkat dengan cepat sekali, apanya alternatif kepada rakyat Malaysia? Manakah sistem pengangkutan awam berkesan yang sering dijanji oleh kerajaan?

Penggunaan sistem pengangkutan awam di Lembah Klang telah menurun sehingga 16% sahaja berbanding dengan 40% pada tahun 1980an. Sepatutnya, bagi bandaraya negara yang maju, penggunaan sistem pengangkutan awam adalah melebihi 70%.

Sekarang, kita nak datang ke parlimen pun takda bas yang boleh dinaiki kecuali menggunakan teksi.

Pada tahun 2006, semasa harga petrol dinaiki 30 sen, kerajaan berjanji memperuntukkan RM4.4 bilion kepada dana sistem pengangkutan awam. Apa telah jadi dengan dana ini?

Pada masa itu juga, kerajaan mengemukakan pelan LRT yang baru, di mana satu aliran baru ditubuhkan ke Kota Damansara, and aliran yang sedia ada dipanjangkan ke Puchong. Akan tetapi bukan sahaja kerja ke atas projek LRT langsung tidak bergerak selama 3 tahun ini, sekarang, kerajaan sekali lagi mengemukakan pelan yang sama sebagai jawab kenaikan harga petrol. Suratkhabar The Star dan lain-lain pun menerbitkan pelan LRT yang dikemukakan sebagai satu pelan yang baru, memberikan berita baik kepada penduduk-penduduk di Lembah Klang.

YB Perdana Menteri mengumumkan bahawa kajian separuh penggal rancangan Malaysia akan memberi tumpuan kepada sistem pengangkutan awam. Tetapi, seperti yang telah dijanjikan sebelum ini, cakap kerajaan tak serupa bikin.

Peningkatan harga petrol bulan lalu dianggar menjimatkan kerajaan sebanyak RM13.7 bilion. Akan tetapi, hanya 11% ataupun 1.6 bilion sahaja daripada penjimatan tersebut diperuntukkan untuk menaik tarafkan sistem pengangkutan awam di Malaysia. Walaupun peruntukan baru sebanyak RM30 bilion telah diumumkan, tiada peruntukan tambahan diberi untuk sistem pengangkutan awam. Jumlah RM1.6 bilion langsung tidak mencukup untuk memberikan pengangkutan alternatif yang memuaskan untuk rakyat terutamanya di kawasan bandar seperti Lembah Klang, Johor Bahru dan Pulau Pinang.

Kegagalan sistem pengangkutan awam di Malaysia hari ini, siapa yang patut bertanggungjawab? Adakah kementerian Pengangkutan dan menteri-menterinya yang sebelum ini yang bertanggungjawab?

Selepas tsunami politik yang baru berlepas, kita bertuah mendapat seorang Menteri Pengangkutan baru, tapi saya kesian sama dia. Bukan sahaja dia kena menghadapi cabaran yang sukar sekali untuk memulihkan maruah MCA selepas dilantik Presiden pada bulan Oktober yang akan datang, dia telah dilantik sebagai Menteri Pengangkutan yang langsung tidak berkuasa untuk menaiktarafkan sistem pengangkutan awam di Malaysia.

Hakikat ini jelas kerana YB Perdana Menteri telah mengumumkan satu lagi suruhanjaya yang baru, iaitu Suruhanjaya Pengangkutan Awam. Pertubuhan suruhanjaya ini nampaknya lucu sedikit, kerana kita sudah ada Kementerian Pengangkutan, kenapa pula perlu sebuah lagi suruhanjaya pengangkutan?

Sebenarnya, YB Perdana Menteri menubuhkan suruhanjaya yang baru ini adalah sebab kerajaan Barisan Nasional ini mempunyai cara mengurus sistem pengangkutan awam yang tidak masuk akal dan barangkali yang terkekok di seluruh dunia.

Pengurusan sistem pengangkutan awam di Malaysia bukannya bertumpu di Kementerian Pengangkutan tetapi dibahagi kepada 13 agensi kerajaan di kementerian yang tidak berkaitan. Terutamanya Lembaga Perlesenan Kenderaan Perdagangan (LPKP) bawah Kementerian Pembangunan Usahawan dan Koperasi, yang menguasai pengendalian lesen bas dan teksi, Kementerian Kewangan yang menguasai bas dan LRT RapidKL dan Kementerian Pengangkutan yang menguruskan keretapi KTM.

Oleh sebab itu, saya menyeru supaya kerajaan mengenepikan faktor kepentingan politik, dan fikiran yang kolot, dan mengambil langkah untuk menggabungkan kesemua badan dan agensi yang melibatkan sistem pengangkutan awam ke bawah pimpinan YB Menteri Pengangkutan.

Kita yakin, YB akan dapat menjalankan tanggungjawab dengan lebih berkesan jika diberikan kuasa yang berpatutan. Kalau tidak, apa gunanya kerajaan menubuhkan suruhanjaya-suruhanjaya yang yang baru ini, yang hanya menunjuk bahawa peralatan kerajaan telahpun gagal menyelesaikan masalah rakyat selama ini.

New Fare Structure for RapidKL?

Since we are on the subject of petrol hikes, and it has always been this author's position that we should focus on building alternative transport systems to alleviate the cost, and increasing convenience, particularly with regards to living in the city.

The following is a letter from Moaz, a fervent public transport advocate on the recent cabinets (in)decision to withdraw subsidies from RapidKL, which I thought was worth antithetical to exactly what the government needs to do with public transport at this point of time.
It is interesting to know that the recent decision by the Cabinet Commitee to withdraw the RapidKL operations subsidy was made at the same time that a court case that same subsidy was still pending. You may recall the lawsuit announced by Metrobus in March 2008. Metrobus named the CVLB as a defendant and indicated in the court proceedings that the CVLB had breached their own regulations by allowing RapidKL to offer a lower fare than the other operators. The court case was to be mentioned in late April, but I presume it still pending. In any case, the Cabinet Committee has effectively decided on the court case in favour of Metrobus.

It is ironic that the pressure on RapidKL is coming from their offering fares that were "too low" for the industry. It is ironic because normally the Malaysian government focuses on prices that are too high. In this era of inflation, one would think that a company offering low prices would be applauded. Well, Air Asia and Malaysia Airlines are applauded, but for some reason, RapidKL has their operations subsidy withdrawn. The new fare structure has been decided in Putrajaya, with very little consultation with RapidKL and clearly, very little interest in the wishes or the needs of passengers.

This kind of interference by the Cabinet Committee and the federal government, combined with their ignorance and lack of interest in local affairs, suggest a serious mismanagement of public transportation in this country.

That is why I am quite surprised to hear that the Cabinet is still continuing with the withdrawal of the operations subsidy to RapidKL, especially at this time when there should be a greater boost for public transportation.
In most places throughout the world, it is accepted that it is very very tough for public transport operators to make a profit without sacrificing service. Most countries and cities provide funds for their public transport operators. Here in Malaysia, it seems that the government wants to do the opposite, pushing bus operators to sacrifice service in order to make a profit.
How can the government talk about improving public transportation when they cannot even provide operations funding (let's not call it a subsidy) for the bus operators?

In fact, the government should be increasing the funds available to public transport operators, either through capital or operations funds. Perhaps this would lead the other bus operators to improve the frequency, punctuality, and reliability of their services. RapidKL may have a long way to go in terms for frequency, punctuality and reliability but they are miles ahead of the bus operators.
Finally, the government should be using this opportunity to implement KUTA, the proposed Klang Valley Urban Transport Authority, which was suggested more than 10 years ago. The presence of a Regional/Local Public Transport Authority for the Klang Valley will make a huge difference. With the cooperation of local government and the Public Transport Authority, we could see a huge increase in the quality of public transport services, in a very short time.

With the recent increase in petrol prices, the rakyat would expect that their government would act to show Malaysians that they are actually taking real steps to improve public transport. The withdrawal of the RapidKL operations funds, the long delay of the proposed Klang Valley Urban Transport Authority, and the continued investment in LRT and monorail construction show us that the government is either not ready or not willing to take these real steps and prefers instead to dream the "LRT Dream" and ignore the "bus nightmare."


Moaz Yusuf Ahmad
moaz.ahmad (at) gmail (dot) com

Monday, July 07, 2008

Debating 9th Malaysia Plan Mid-Term Review

Today is the last day to deliver my speech to take part in the debate on the above topic. I finally got called to make my speech at 9.50pm (yes, the sitting will probably end at midnight tonight) despite being ready since Tuesday last week. The time to deliver the speech however, has been cut from 20 minutes to 10. Hence essentially, I managed to deliver only part 1 of my speech.

On reflection, I should probably have just skipped part 1 'cos some other MPs have touched on the subject. Anyway, what's done is done. I'll post the Part 1 of my speech which I actually managed to deliver here, and put up the Part 2 later.

Here you go:

Terima kasih diucapkan kepada Tuan Yang DiPertua kerana memberi peluang kepada saya untuk menyertai perbahasan kajian separuh penggal rancangan Malaysia ke-9.

Tuan Yang DiPertua, saya berasa amat kecewa dengan ucapan kajian yang diberi oleh Yang Berhormat Perdana Menteri mengenai pencapaian dan langkah-langkah yang akan diambil oleh Kerajaan pada 2-3 tahun yang akan datang.

Kajian separuh penggal ini merupakan peluang keemasan bagi kerajaan Barisan Nasional untuk membetulkan banyak kesilapan dasar pada tahun-tahun yang lalu. Kajian ini memberikan peluang kepada kerajaan untuk menunjukkan keiklasan dan kesumbuhan politik ataupun dengan izin, political will, untuk menaiktarafkan kualiti kehidupan rakyat, terutamanya dalam suasana kadar inflasi dan harga barang keperluan kian meningkat.

Akan tetapi, YB Perdana Menteri telahpun melepaskan peluang ini dengan memberikan satu ucapan yang tidak bersubstance, yang tidak tentu hara dan tidak mempunyai dasar yang cukup konkrit untuk menghadapi cabaran kepada ekonomi dan masyarakat kita.

Tighten Belt

YB Perdana Menteri, YB Timbalan Perdana Menteri dan kerajaan pada keseluruhannya telah menyeru supaya rakyat jelata menyesuaikan cara hidup ataupun dengan izin, change lifestyle mereka untuk menghadapi cabaran inflasi. Kami kerap kali diminta supaya mengetatkan tali pinggan, tighten our belts, apakah tindakan kerajaan selaras dengan seruan tersebut?

YB Perdana Menteri mengumumkan, dan diterbitkan secara besar-besaran dalam suratkhabar tempatan, bahawa elaun hiburan menteri-menteri akan ditolak 10%. Langkah tersebut, bersama dengan beberapa langkah yang lain, dianggar akan menjimatkan sebanyak RM2 billion.

Walaupun elaun hiburan ditolak hanya 10% nampaknya amat kurang, kalau nak tolak, tolaklah 50%, kami masih berharap YB Perdana Menteri akan mengambil langkah-langkah yang lain, yang akan lebih menjimatkan perbelanjaan kerajaan.

Akan tetapi, setelah menganalisa ucapan YB Perdana Menteri dan laporan kajian dengan teliti, saya tidak nampak dasar yang menyeluruh untuk menjimatkan, terutamanya, perbelanjaan operasi.

Rakyat jelata dan juga ahli-ahli parlimen yang mengutamakan kepentingan rakyat ingin mendengar daripada kerajaan Barisan Nasional adalah pembatalan dasar bersikap kroni, seperti penawaran “Approved Permits” ataupun APs kepada pihak elit yang tertentu, yang lebih dikenali sebagai “AP Kings”.

“AP Kings” telah mencapai kekayaan yang tidak dapat dibayangkan dan mereka tidak lagi memerlukan bantuan daripada kerajaan atas alasan Dasar Ekonomi Baru untuk menjadi lebih kaya.

Rakyat ingin kerajan melaksanakan tender terbuka secara bersaing yang telus supaya kerajaan akan mendapat pendapatan yang lebih banyak. Jika setiap AP bernilai pasaran sebanyak RM30,000, 70,000 AP yang ditawar setiap tahun akan membawa hasil melebihi RM2 bilion yang boleh digunakan untuk meningkatkan sistem pengangkutan awam.

Kalau kerajaan perlu membangun pihak usahaan kaum bumiputera, laksanalah tender terbuka secara bersaing yang telus untuk SEMUA syarikat bumiputera dan bukannya ditawarkan secara percuma kepada pihak kroni yang tertentu sahaja. Kerajaan perlu membangunkan semangat persaingan syarikat bumiputera dan Malaysia, dan bukannya menghapuskan semangat tersebut.

Pada masa yang sama, Malaysia memerlukan budaya tender terbuka secara bersaing yang telus diperluaskan kepada semua projek yang dijalankan oleh kerajaan. Hanya dengan sistem persaingan terbuka ini, kerajaan akan mendapat penjimatan yang maksima dan mewujudkan kualiti yang lebih tinggi.

Sekali lagi, kalau kerajaan berpandangan syarikat tempatan perlu diberikan lindungan, maka laksanakan tender terbuka tempatan. Dan kalau kerajaan ingin memberikan peluang kepada syarikat bumiputera, laksanakan tender terbuka bumiputera. Akan tetapi, budaya rundingan terus yang selalu membawa hakikat ataupun persepsi rasuah dan kroni, mestilah dihapuskan.

Jikalau sebuah syarikat seperti UEM yang telah berjaya membina Jambatan Pulau Pinang yang ketiga panjang di Asia 10 tahun yang lalu masih tidak dapat bertanding dalam satu tender antarabangsa, dan masih memerlukan sedekah kerajaan, ia menunjukkan kegagalan Dasar Ekonomi Malaysia.

Dengan tender yang terbuka, kerajaan dianggar akan dapat menjimat sebanyak 20% jika berbanding dengan kos pembinaan jambatan-jambatan yang lain. Misalnya jambatan 36km di Shanghai akan dibina dengan kos RM149 juta setiap kilometer jauh lebih murah berbanding dengan RM179 juta setiap kilometer bagi Jambatan Pulau Pinang ke-dua. Ini belum lagi mengambil kira permintaan syarikat UEM untuk meningkatkan harga pembinaan dari RM4.3 bilion ke RM4.8 bilion, yang tengah dipertimbangkan oleh kerajaan Barisan Nasional.

Budaya tender terbuka akan benar-benar menjimatkan perbelanjaan kerajaan dan bukannya satu langkah yang tidak bersungguh-sungguh seperti pemotong elaun hiburan menteri sebanyak 10%.

Kerajaan selalu memberi sebab bahawa wang tidak mencukupi dan oleh itu subsidi perlu dikurangkan. Akan tetapi, pada masa yang sama, dalam 10 tahun yang lalu, perbelanjaan mengurus (operational expenditure) yang hanya berjumlah 46 bilion ringgit telahpun meningkat dekat 3 kali ganda ke 129 bilion ringgit. Pada masa yang sama, perbelanjaan pembangunan hanya meningkat lebih kurang 2 kali ganda dari 19 bilion ke 41 bilion ringgit.

Perbelanjaan mengurus meningkat dengan begitu dahsyat sekali membukti bahawa kerajaan memang mempunyai wang yang amat mencukupi. Cukai-cukai terutamanya berasal dari sektor minyak dan gas, yang pada tahun ini dianggar menyumbang sebanyak 37% kepada hasil yang dikutip kerajaan kerana Malaysia beruntung apabila harga minyak meningkat.

Akan tetapi, pendapatan kerajaan yang meningkat dengan begitu cepat selalunya dibazirkan dengan sia-sia sahaja. Banyak kementerian telah diperuntukkan belanjawan yang terlalu banyak sehingga tidak tahu apa yang patut dibeli. Misalnya, kementerian menggunakan wang kelebihan untuk membeli set pemutar skru dengan kos RM224 berbanding dengan kos sebenar RM40, set pen teknikal dengan harga RM1,146.56 berbanding dengan kos sebenar RM160, membeli “car jack” yang bernilai RM50 dengan kos RM5,700.

Pihak polis juga membeli helikopter bernilai sebanyak RM117 juta yang tidak dapat digunakan kerana ianya tidak mengikut spesifikasi, and RM15 juta lagi untuk melatih juruterbang helikopter ini.

Pihak kastam pula membeli sebuah sistem yang baru berjumlah RM451 juta walaupun sistem yang baru sahaja disiapkan yang bernilai RM290 juta masih belum diguna secara penuh.

Sehingga hari ini, ramai pihak yang bertanggungjawab ke atas pembaziran dan rasuah perkara-perkara di atas masih belum diambil tindakan, dan siasatan macam sudah tidak lagi diberi kepentingan.

Oleh kerana pendapatan meningkat, kerajaan juga telah membina sebuah perkhidmatan awam gergasi. Sejak tahun 2000, jumlah pekerja perkhidmatan awam yang tidak termasuk pekerja kerajaan negeri dan GLC, telah meningkat sebanyak 23.5% ke 1,142,783. Apakah yang perlu dijalankan oleh kerajaan dalam 6 tahun yang lalu yang memerlukan penambahan anggota perkhidmatan awam dengan begitu ramai? Sepatutnya, jumlah anggota perkhidmatan awam tidak perlu meningkat kerana polisi kerajaan penswastaan syarikat-syarikat kerajaan patut mengurangkan anggota perkhidmatan awam.

Berbanding dengan negara-negara lain, nisbah anggota perkhidmatan awam di Malaysia dengan bilangan penduduk teramat tinggi. 4.68% penduduk Malaysia merupakan pekerja kerajaan persekutuaan berbanding dengan 1.79% di Indonesia, 1.85% di Korea Selatan dan 2.69% di Taiwan. Kenapa Malaysia memerlukan anggota perkhidmatan awam yang begitu besar, begitu ramai? Adakah ianya disebabkan oleh kekurangan keberkesanan ataupun dasar kerajaan untuk memberikan pekerjaan kepada siswazah universiti Malaysia yang mengganggur?

Oleh itu, jelas bahawa, kerajaan bukannya kekurangan modal, akan tetapi menghadapi masalah terlalu banyak wang dan tidak tahu nak taruh di mana.

Walaupun kerajaan telah menambahkan peruntukan pembangunan sebanyak RM30 bilion, pada masa yang sama kerajaan telah mengambil langkah untuk membatalkan pembangunan yang akan membawa manfaat kepada orang ramai, terutamanya yang menghadapi harga petrol yang telahpun meningkat dengan melampau.

Misalnya, projek monorail yang amat dialu-alukan oleh rakyat Pulau Pinang untuk mengurangkan kesesakan jalanraya telah dibatalkan dan TIADA projek alternatif diumumkan untuk meringankan beban rakyat Pulau Pinang dengan sistem pengangkutan awan yang lebih berkesan. Rakyat Pulau Pinang telahpun dipinggirkan dalam pembangunan negara, dan ini rupanya sikap kerajaan persekutuaan yang tidak hormat terhadap keputusan rakyat dalam tsunami politik 4 bulan lalu.

Apa lagi, peruntukan untuk memperbaiki dan menaiktarafkan keretapi yang sudah nak luput, Bukit Bendera pun dipotong. Sikap keinginan untuk membalas dendam terhadap rakyat seperti ini bukan sahaja akan memperkuatkan semangat rakyat Pulau Pinang menolak Barisan Nasional, tetapi akan juga akan menimbulkan kesan buruk kepada industri pelancongan di Malaysia – dan bukan sahaja di negeri, terutamanya pelancong luar negeri.

Nampaknya, YB Perdana Menteri dan YB Menteri Kewangan Kedua, yang berasal dari negeri Pulau Pinang, pun sanggup mengorbankan pembangunan negeri asal mereka, dan meminggirkan rakyat negeri yang sedang menghadapi cabaran yang sengit.

YB Muar pada minggu yang lalu menyokong usul kerajaan untuk menaikkan harga petrol dan elektrik dengan simpulan “Yang berat sama dipikul, yang ringan sama dijinjing”. Saya tidak setuju dengan pendapat YB kerana, seperti yang telah pun dihujah, simpulan yang lebih tepat adalah “Yang ringan kerajaan menjinjing, yang berat rakyat yang memikul”.