Sunday, November 30, 2008

MCA Faces Identity Crisis?

It's sometimes hard to read MCA these days. At times, they'll try to play 'hero' to the public by voicing out on certain issues - which they should rightly do, but at other times, they'll contradict themselves especially it appears, when there is a possibility of angering their "big brother".

Newly elected political comeback kid, MCA deputy president Chua Soi Lek on Thursday said that "it was time to change the concept of power sharing within Barisan Nasional."
He said that the oft-used slogan of ‘Ketuanan Melayu', or Malay supremacy, that indicated a master and servant relationship was unacceptable.

"We accept Malay leadership, but not Malay supremacy... When we say we reject 'Ketuanan Melayu', we are not challenging the Malay special rights. It is enshrined in our constitution and nobody can take that away at the present moment."

Well, without taking into consideration who made the statement, the content of it sounds like a good statement to me, something that I would say too.
But 2 days later, the MCA president himself, Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat, the newly elected "maverick" seems to have surprisingly decided to put in all sorts of disclaimers to Chua's statement.
MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek's remark that the concept of Malay supremacy was no longer relevant, is not the party's stand, party president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat said today.

"It is his personal view. The MCA's stand will be based on a resolution made by its president or state chairmen," Ong told reporters after chairing the Johor MCA liaison committee meeting here today.
I actually raised my eyebrows when I read the above report, both in Utusan Online, Sinchew Online and in The Malaysian Insider. Now has it got anything to do with dotted lines connecting Datuk Seri Ong's statement to the following statement by UMNO leaders?

From Umno Youth chief Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein who
...described those questioning the Malay supremacy concept as insincere and only pursuing their personal political interest.
From former Negri Sembilan Menteri Besar Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad who asked MCA
...not raise issues which could hurt the feelings of other races but instead focus on efforts to rebuild the party."Umno could also bring up many issues, but what is the point? What is important is that we clean up our own houses.
Or from UMNO Secretary-General, Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor who said
...there is no point of ketuanan (supremacy) if Malays are not the masters... He should look at the incidents in Mumbai and Bangkok and not be emotional when making a statement.
Go figure.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

"2008 Celebrating Hope & Change" Dinner

As blogged earlier, and a gentle reminder, we look forward to your support to make this fund-raising dinner a success. The Chief Minister of Penang, Lim Guan Eng has also confirmed his attendance to speak at the function.

"2008 - Celebrating The Year of Hope & Change"
Venue: MBPJ Dewan Banquet
Date: 17 December 2008 (Wednesday)
Time: 7.30pm
Speakers: Lim Guan Eng, Gobind Singh, Tony Pua, Lau Weng San,
Dr Cheah Wing Yin, Hannah Yeoh
Halal Chinese food will be served, and the primary language for this dinner will be English.

The cost of the dinner will be RM60 per pax or RM600 per table. VIP tables are also available for RM1,500 a table. The funds raised from the dinner, anticipated to be approximately RM30,000 each will be used for running our respective service centres, and a portion donated to DAP Selangor and DAP Malaysia. Even for my office alone, it costs at least RM10,000 to operate monthly with 3-4 staff and any shortfall essentially comes from my own allowance as a Member of Parliament.

Hence we look forward to your generous support to help us provide our services to the public. For reservations, please email to or to me directly with your name, contact number, which dinner(s) and number of seats or tables (VIP or normal) required. We will then get back to you with further information.

For those who are not able to make the dinner, donations are also very much welcome ;-). Cheques should be written to "DAP Damansara Branch" or cash can be deposited at DAP Damansara Maybank account: 5141 9634 2008. Credit card payment is also available upon request.

Thank you once again for your continued support!

Arrested Development

My latest article for The NutGraph looked once again (no more after this, I assure you, as this was written just after the episode occurred), at my arrest by the Royal Malaysian Police for attending an alleged illegal gathering at the PJ Civic Centre (note also the irony of the venue).

Besides a personal take on the "experience", I also touched on the robust debate as to whether I should even have attended the event here, and would it have compromised my role as a member of parliament.
WELL, it was just going to be a sooner-or-later thing. Getting arrested is kinda like a serious occupational hazard for a politician, elected or otherwise, who belongs in the opposition camp in this country.

So when I was actually arrested on Sunday, 9 Nov 2008, at the candlelight vigil commemorating the first anniversary of the historic Bersih (Coalition for Clean and Fair Election) rally, I was certainly not mentally unprepared. Especially not after the ISA (Internal Security Act) "scare" just a few weeks earlier.

I still remember my very first interview with a senior journalist from a local paper when I was about to quit my job, sell my company and join the topsy-turvy world of politics with the DAP, some 18 months ago. As the interview ended, she said she really couldn't imagine me, this geeky, pseudo-intellectual (aka nerd), corporate personality involved in your "typical" opposition activities such as street rallies, protest demonstrations, and of course, getting arrested by the police.
Read the full article here and enjoy! ;-)

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

PAS & Prohibition

The storm over the issue of severely restricting the sale of alcohol in Selangor has since come to pass when the proposal which was to be tabled in the Majlis Perbandaran Klang (MPK) meeting this morning was withdrawn, and the Selangor Menteri Besar, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim gave a press conference to douse the fire later in the afternoon.

I had issued a media statement earlier in the morning with headlines on the issue appearing on all Chinese press. While, the matter may have come to a momentary pass, some of the points, which were also reported in Malaysiakini and The Malaysian Insider remain valid, so I'll repost my entire statement below.

PAS Selangor Needs A Crash Course on Coalition Politics

The Chinese vernacular press today had headlines screaming that PAS Selangor intends to impose a ban on the sale of alcohol throughout the state, which will involve stopping the sale of these products in 7-11 outlets, mini-markets as well as 'open' coffee shops.

It also appears that despite not having obtain approval for such a proposal in the Selangor state executive committee (EXCO), PAS Selangor has attempted to subvert the EXCO's authority by introducing such regulations in Selangor by instructing its municipal councillors to table such motions for approval at the local councils.

While PAS Selangor has every right to propose any regulations it feels is necessary, they must not forget that in Selangor, they are part of a coalition comprising of 2 other parties in the state whereby they possess 8 seats out of 36 seats won by the Pakatan Rakyat coalition. Therefore, any attempts by PAS Selangor to flex its muscles without due regard to its fellow coalition partners will be deemed as arrogant and uncooperative, which will only serve to weaken the governing coalition which was voted in by the Selangor citizens.

More critically, PAS must understand the fact that Selangor, perhaps more than any other state is one of the most multicultural and cosmopolitan states in the country, with non-Malays and non-Muslims comprising at least 49% of the population. PAS Selangor leadership under State Executive Councillor, Datuk Dr Mohd Hasan Ali must realise that it has won many seats in Selangor which are mixed constituencies such as Kota Raja parliamentary seat. PAS has won with a sizeable 8,329 votes majority, despite the fact that more than 50% of the population are non-Muslims – a feat which was previously unimaginable before March 8th.

Hence, if PAS Selangor choses to ignore the spirit of the multi-racial and multi-cultural mandate granted by the people of Selangor in the last elections, its continued unilateral attempts to impose its views in the Selangor administration will only lead to the break up in the state Pakatan Rakyat.

The DAP does not and will never support the sale of “haram” goods such as alcohol and spirits to Muslims, giving full respect to each their religious beliefs. However, the DAP will never support the blanket banning on the sale of alcohol in retail outlets, not because we encourage the promotion of alcohol consumption but because the proposed ban in essence infringes on the rights of others in state of Selangor.

We call upon the state PAS leadership to listen to the voice of reason not only from its coalition partners but also from within its own party which is not unanimous with the decision. PAS Selangor must understand that it is part of a coalition led by the Selangor Menteri Besar, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim and learn quickly the intricacies of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition which is vastly different from the Barisan Nasional, where UMNO lords over its coalition partners.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Who Is In Charge of Licensed Money Lenders?

Malaysia is flooded with many "licensed" money lenders who we read about often in the newspapers. They are often viewed as licensed "ah longs" who have legal basis to lend money but uses not necessary so legal means to recover debts.

Here's a little trivia for you. Which Ministry is in-charge of these "licensed money lenders"? Well, if you are "new" to Malaysian politics, it's not the Ministry of Finance, where it logically should be. After all, logic is not what is the strength of our Government's administration (e.g., 13 agencies under different ministries takes care of public transportation).

What is possibly most surprising when I discovered this fact about 2 years ago is that money lenders are actually licensed by Ministry of Housing and Local Government. Yes, you heard (read) me right. How on earth is money lending activities related to this Ministry, you are likely to ask. Well, to understand the above, you'll probably need to understand the background to the Barisan Nasional administration, that is the Housing & Local Government ministry has always been the domain of component party, Malaysia Chinese Association (MCA). So you can further infer the connection between the political party and the business the Ministry is tasked to "regulate".

Well, out of curiosity of what the official answer from the Ministry is going to be, I asked the Prime Minister the following question:
...[apakah] 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.
The reply from the Prime Minister's office is as follows:
Untuk makluman Ahli Yang Berhormat, perniagaan pinjaman wang dan pajak gadai merupakan peninggalan (atau legasi) dari sistem pentadbiran terdahulu.

Peniagaan ini tidak diletakkan di bawah kawal selia Kementerian Kewangan ataupun Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) kerana syarikat-syarikat yang menjalankan perniagaan tersebut tidak dibenarkan mengambil deposit dari para pelanggan. Untuk menjalankan perniagaan, syarikat-syarikat yang dilesenkan perlu mempunyai modal sendiri yang mencukupi untuk memberikan pinjaman. Oleh yang demikian, syarikat-syarikat yang menjalankan perniagaan pinjaman wang dan pajak gadai tidak terdedah kepada ancaman kewangan yang boleh menyebabkan "economic risk" (dengan izin) atau ketidakstabilan kewangan, seperti yang terdapat pada bank-bank dan institusi kewangan komersil.

Sekiranya terdapat cadang untuk memindahkan kuasa kawal selia syarikat-syarikat yang menjalankan perniagaan pinjaman wang dan pajak gadai ke Kementerian Kewangan, satu kajian yang menyeluruh perlu dilaksanakan oleh Kerajaan sebelum sebarang keputusan diambil. Ini adalah kerana satu persetujuan perlu dicapai oleh pihak kementerian dan syarikat-syarikat tersubut mengenai tatacara pengurusan risiko kredit (credit risk manangement practice) yang dipraktikkan.
Make what you will with the reply above. I found the argument that a money lenders' license is unconnected with the country's credit system just plain ignorant or even ludicrous , or even the fact that these licensees need to agree before a change in ministerial responsibilities is effected.

Released from Police Bail

The above is a 7 minute video shot by BK on the night of the his own arrest.

As you would probably have read in the online news reports yesterday, those who were arrested on 10th November for the peaceful candlelight vigil to protest against the Internal Security Act as well as to commemorate the 1st anniversary of the BERSIH rally, have all been released from police bail, after reporting ourselves to the PJ police station yesterday morning.

As the officer-in-charge stated, "we'll call you if you get charged". Otherwise, we don't have to report back to the police station. ;-)

Thursday, November 20, 2008


I've written a few times on public transportation in this country, but one of the issues which I'm extremely concerned about but have not really delve into is the issue of taxis in Malaysia.

I had the opportunity, and was in time (after being released from my arrest) to pose my question in Parliament during the oral question and answer session to the Minister of Entrepreneurship Development and Cooperatives (MEDC) on Monday last week on the state of affairs of the taxi system in the country at this point of time.
[PETALING JAYA UTARA] minta Menteri Pembangunan Usahawan dan Koperasi menyatakan sebab kegagalan kerajaan melaksanakan dan menguatkuasakan 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 Pudu Raya dan KL Sentral.
His response was the lengthiest I've received on the issue, as is also available from the Hansard here (pages 2-5).
Menteri Pembangunan Usahawan dan Koperasi [Dato’ Haji Noh bin Haji Omar]: Tuan Yang di-Pertua, untuk makluman Ahli Yang Berhormat, kegagalan kerajaan melaksanakan dan menguatkuasakan 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 Pudu Raya dan KL Sentral adalah disebabkan perkara-perkara seperti berikut:

(i) sikap pemandu yang berasa mereka mempunyai pilihan untuk mengaut keuntungan dalam jangka masa pendek tanpa memikirkan kesan jangka masa panjang di mana kemungkinan pemilik lesen dikenakan tindakan gantung atau batal lesen sekiranya sabit kesalahan hasil aduan atau tangkapan penguat kuasa LPKP atau JPJ;

(ii) sikap penumpang yang masih mempunyai persepsi yang kurang tepat tentang konsep menggunakan khidmat teksi di mana penumpang masih bertanyakan pemandu tentang harga tambang dan lokasi, sedangkan mereka sepatutnya hanya perlu terus masuk ke dalam teksi dan meminta pemandu ke destinasi yang diingini; dan

(iii) sikap pengadu yang kurang memberi kerjasama dalam menyampaikan maklumat secara lengkap untuk laporan terperinci disediakan serta mengelak untuk menjadi saksi atas kesalahan melibatkan pemandu.

Walau bagaimanapun, pihak kementerian serta agensi-agensi penguat kuasa lain terus
menguatkuasakan sistem tambang bermeter melalui:

(i) operasi harian dan berkala di kawasan zon teksi dengan mengambil tindakan terhadap teksi yang terbabit oleh LPKP; dan

(ii) operasi penyamaran dengan menaiki teksi bagi memastikan pemandu menggunakan meter oleh JPJ.

Secara keseluruhannya bagi tempoh Januari hingga Jun 2008 sebanyak 1,298 kes
tangkapan dibuat untuk pelbagai jenis kesalahan melibatkan teksi di Semenanjung Malaysia oleh LPKP. Daripada jumlah ini sebanyak 771 kes atau 60% merupakan kes tangkapan terhadap kesalahan enggan menggunakan meter. Terima kasih.
It was lengthy but it still did not really answer the question as to why it's happening today. Hence in my supplementary question, I wanted to push my point that the Ministry has failed after all these years, and a new paradigm is required to resolve this issue:
[Petaling Jaya Utara]: Terima kasih Tuan Yang di-Pertua, terima kasih Yang Berhormat Menteri. Masalah ini adalah satu masalah yang agak lama sejak saya pertama kali datang ke Kuala Lumpur 20 tahun yang lalu. Pertama kali datang kena tipu oleh pihak polis - pihak polis pulak - pihak pemandu teksi dengan harga yang mahal. [Ketawa]

Tahun ini juga saya melancong ke Pulau Pinang, perjalanan yang agak pendek dari KOMTAR ke Padang Brown yang memakan masa tidak melebihi 5 minit pun kena RM10 juga. Masalah ini sudah lama. Kenapa sampai sekarang ini belum lagi dapat selesai? 
Kenapa bila saya pergi ke negara lain walaupun bukannya negara maju seperti Singapore dan Hong Kong, pergi Thailand, pergi Vietnam, pergi Jakarta, semua pakai meter. Semua dapat pakai meter.
Timbalan Yang di-Pertua: Baik, Yang Berhormat. Soalan, Yang Berhormat.

[Petaling Jaya Utara]: Soalan saya, berapa antara yang ditangkap kerana tidak menggunakan meter telah pun digantung lesennya. Adakah kementerian terlalu lenient terhadap pemandu-pemandu teksi yang tidak mengikut peraturan dan adakah kementerian benar-benar berhasrat untuk menghapuskan masalah ini? Kalau tidak, adakah ianya lebih baik jika tugas ini diserahkan kepada...

[Batu Pahat]: Panjang sangat itu.

[Petaling Jaya Utara]: ...Kementerian Pengangkutan dan kalau tidak, boleh jadi tugas ini boleh diserahkan kepada kuasa negeri-negeri untuk menyelesaikan masalah ini.

Dato’ Dr. Mohamad Shahrum bin Osman [Lipis]: Patutlah kena pukul oleh polis.
Note the interjection by LIPIS displays the standard of government backbenchers you have in Parliament. The Minister's reply was as follows, and the little pandemonium in between:
Dato’ Haji Noh bin Haji Omar: Terima kasih Yang Berhormat. Seperti mana saya nyatakan tadi ada tiga sebab mengapa kita sukar mengambil tindakan. Salah satu sebabnya seperti Yang Berhormatlah, saya ingat. Ini masuk kategori yang ketiga iaitu sikap pengadu yang tidak memberikan kerjasama. Kalau Yang Berhormat sudah naik kereta teksi di Pulau Pinang, sepatutnya Yang Berhormat ambillah dia punya nombor – ambil nombor, ambil nama, beritahu jam pukul berapa – hantar kepada saya. Saya janji saya mesti ambil tindakan. Kita boleh gantung dan kita boleh batalkan. Tindakan kita sudah ambil.

Saya sudah kata tadi bahawa setengah daripada tangkapan yang kita buat, 771 kes kita telah ambil tindakan kerana tidak menggunakan meter dan soalan Yang Berhormat, kita di...

[Petaling Jaya Utara]: Ada digantung tidak?

Dato’ Haji Noh bin Haji Omar: Sabarlah. Itu yang polis pukul itu, belum habis jawab lagi sudah bangun. [Disorak]

Beberapa Ahli: [Menyampuk]

Tuan M. Kula Segaran [Ipoh Barat]: Apa ini cheap shotlah. What a cheap shot.

Tuan N. Gobalakrishnan [Padang Serai]: Menteri...

Dato’ Haji Lilah Yasin [Jempol]: Padan kena pukul.

Dato’ Haji Noh bin Haji Omar: Yang Berhormat...

Tuan N. Gobalakrishnan [Padang Serai]: Apa ini?

Dato’ Haji Noh bin Haji Omar: ...Yang Berhormat, patut Yang Berhormat nasihat dia. Ini my floor. Saya belum habis jawab lagi.

Tuan M. Kula Segaran [Ipoh Barat]: Ini jawab takutkah?

Dr. Dzulkefly Ahmad [Kuala Selangor]: Tak betul, tak betul.

Tuan M. Kula Segaran [Ipoh Barat]: We must understand.

Dato’ Haji Lilah bin Yasin [Jempol]: Orang jahat mesti kena pukul. [Dewan riuh]

Timbalan Yang di-Pertua [Datuk Dr. Haji Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar]: Baik Yang

Tuan M. Kula Segaran [Ipoh Barat]: We must understand the trouble went through.

Tuan N. Gobalakrishnan [Padang Serai]: [Bercakap tanpa pembesar suara]

Timbalan Yang di-Pertua [Datuk Dr. Haji Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar]: Yang Berhormat Padang Serai, Yang Berhormat Ipoh Barat minta tolong. Yang Berhormat Menteri jawab teruskanlah.

Dato’ Haji Noh bin Haji Omar: Bukan understand. Sama-samalah kena understand. Janganlah suruh kerajaan sahaja faham, pembangkang tak nak faham. Sama-sama kena faham. Bagi saya habis dahulu.


Dato’ Haji Noh bin Haji Omar: Tindakan yang telah kita ambil ialah sebanyak 1,173 iaitu, kita sudah beri amaran - 80, kita gantung – 23, kita batalkan lesen – 700 dan kita kompaun – 1,063. Bermakna tindakan telah diambil. Akan tetapi saya percaya Tuan Yang di-Pertua, kalau ramai lagi pengguna-pengguna teksi tampil ke hadapan memberikan maklumat lebih terperinci, kita akan mengambil tindakan yang lebih tegas. Terima kasih.
There's plenty more to say here, but this post is long enough, so I'll leave the readers to make their comments first and make my comments later. Suffice it to say, there's still plenty of question marks, and placing the onus on the MP to report any intransigent taxi drivers to solve the problems is just a non-starter.  Of course, the "kena pukul" pandemonium provided the unnecessary distraction. ;-)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Visit To Parliament

We've received many requests on whether we can arrange for visits to Parliament and sit in the public gallery to observe the parliamentary proceedings. We are now scheduling a trip, organised by DAP Petaling Jaya for a visit to parliament:
Date: 3 December 2008 (Wednesday)
Time: 10.00am
Venue: Parliament Lobby
For those who wish to participate the trip, please submit your details to ericahew (at) gmail (dot) com by the 25th November 2008 for us to register your names. Limited seats available, first come first serve.

Participants are required to submit their name (as per their identity cards), IC numbers, correspondence address, handphone numbers and email addresses. Visitors must follow strictly the dress code set by the administration of both Houses.

The particulars you submitted will be sent to the Public Relation Offices of Parliament to get clearance on the day of arrival. The PRO will explain to you briefly the function of Parliament. You will be then invited to sit in the public gallery to watch parliamentary debate. Normally you will be watching the questions and answers session in the morning.

Have fun and see you guys there!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Tokyo - A Livable Metropolis?

Tokyo skyscrapers

As blogged earlier, I've just gotten back from Tokyo early this morning. As most of the time, I was stuck in the hotel attending the conference, I didn't manage to do too much sight-seeing, but I did manage to squeeze some time out to do some (will post pictures later - pics posted here from public sources).

One thing however struck me really hard during my brief visit was how remarkably "livable" the metropolis was (for those who experienced otherwise, do share your views here). Lets get some facts out of the way:
Over eight million people live within Tokyo's 23 wards. During the daytime, the population swells by over 2.5 million as workers and students commute from adjacent areas. This effect is even more pronounced in the three central wards of Chiyoda, Chūō, and Minato, whose collective population is less than 300,000 at night, but over two million during the day. The entire prefecture has 12,790,000 residents in October 2007 (8,657,000 in 23 wards), with an increase of over 3 million in the day. (source: Wikipedia)
The population density for Tokyo is 5,796 persons per km². This doesn't take into account an additional 2-3 million workers who commute from outside Tokyo into the city. In addition, this number does not take into account the fact that officially, several outlying islands are official part of Tokyo "land area" as well, which means that the density is likely significantly higher. This compares also against 6,489 persons per km² in Singapore.

Now, given such immense density and skyscrapers within the inner city, one would certainly have expected a certain level of traffic congestion, and probably a significant number of highways criss-crossing the city.

More Tokyo skyscrapers

But no! Right in the city centre, during peak hours, I hardly see many cars on the road. All cars which stopped at traffic lights will get to clear them in one go, and the lights actually switches pretty fast to cater to pedestrians. Where did all the traffic go? And trust me, their skyscrapers are just humongous!

And in the Tokyo suburbs (e.g., Seputeh or Petaling Jaya), most amazingly, the roads are tiny, often barely enough for 1 vehicle to pass through in their residential roads. Yet at the same time, the city generously allocates and cordon off a sizeable portion of the road for pedestrians and cyclists' use. Throughout my stay there, I've never seen these residential roads streaming with motor vehicles.

Yet in Petaling Jaya, many neighbourhood residential roads are becoming main access roads, while access roads have become thoroughfares, and highways such as LDP become massive car parks, especially during peak perids. And we don't have the population, its density and the skyscrapers to match cities like Tokyo or Singapore.

Very simply, the solution is really in creating and building an efficient public transportation system. And this unfortunately, is rather non-existent in Petaling Jaya. If you need to get from Taman Mayang to SS2, there is no option except taking a taxi or your own private vehicle.

In Tokyo, I've never had to wait longer than 5 minutes for any train, even during off-peak hours (didn't get a chance to try their bus system, especially since I'd seriously lack the language skills!)

Hence, if businessmen, developers, some politicians and civil servants are to argue that we need to develop Petaling Jaya further to boost our economy, raise income and wealth levels, I do not totally disagree. In fact, I would agree also with the fact that Petaling Jaya still have plenty of room to "develop" further, especially when contrasted against cities of the developed world.

However, as highlighted in my earlier post yesterday, all new (yet to be approved) major developments must cease so that the city and the state can catch its breath and take stock of the cost of unplanned development, without the necessary mobility infrastructure in place. And as long as the various federal ministries in charge of public transportation do not get their act together and drastically reform and improve the current system, then development will unfortunately have to be limited to the low-rise horizontal sort, instead of the more profitable vertical sort.

The Paradigm - Where did the hills come from?

Looking for example, at the "visual illustration" of The Paradigm mega-development project next to Lebuhraya Damansara-Puchong (LDP), you would notice how it gives a false sense of space and tranquility with all four corners of its surroundings lined with open spaces and pretty trees. There are even trees-covered hills at a not too far distance away (no idea which part of PJ is that! ;-)).

The buildings are in no doubt top class buildings from a reputable developer listed on Bursa Malaysia. I'm not questioning their quality. I'm just asking, whether we, the city, is ready to cope with such projects cropping up all over the town. Or should it continue to be build first, cope later, like the policies of the previous government.

The trip to Tokyo, sponsored by the Asia Society, certainly opened my eyes a fair bit on how "good" things can still be, despite humongous developments. It's much better than even the state of affairs in enviable cities such as Hong Kong and Singapore.

Footnote: I've received a fair bit of response from volunteers who are willing to help me with the petition in PJ. I'm still looking for more, so email me if you are keen to help turn PJ into a more livable city.

Monday, November 17, 2008

MPs and Mamak Stalls

I've just received this email:
Dear YB Tony

I really really disappointed with the way u are performimg... when was the last time u actually take a drive around SS 2 at night... notice all the illegal seatings on the roads( mamak stalls)... or are u still waiting for Sep 16... please do SOMETHING !!!, take care of people who voted for u... me and a few thousand people..
What do you think? I don't know how to reply. It's not the first time I got complaints of such nature, and I'm sure it won't be the last.

Freeze High Density Development in PJ?

A daily sight, especially on LDP where the traffic load
has already exceeded the capacity it was built.

The Paradigm - A mega commerial high density project undergoing construction
next to the LDP which will lead to further congestion to LDP
and its neighbouring roads.  How did the traffic study get approved?

This issue was reported in The Star Metro a week or so ago, which highlighted the fact that Petaling Jaya faces real risks of becoming over-developed, if not already so. The journalist, Tan Karr Wei spoke to a few local councillors - Cynthia Gabriel and Robert Tan of MBPJ, and myself on the issue. My comments are as follows.
Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua feels that these kinds of developments would eventually lower the quality of life for PJ residents with many long-term implications such as the lack of open spaces, insufficient drainage, traffic congestions, increase in pollution, among others. Pua said that the city was starting to display traits of becoming overdeveloped.

“We are now finding big shopping centres approved by the previous government at busy traffic junctions, or in the middle of residential areas without appropriate access roads and even conversion of open spaces to large commercial and high density residential projects all around PJ. Comparatively, cities such as Singapore or Hong Kong are more built up than PJ but they have excellent accompanying infrastructure like public transportation to maximise convenience and increase livability. The problem for PJ is many of our new developments are approved without any consideration given to public transport infrastructure,” said Pua.

Pua echoed Tan’s concerns on traffic studies: “The fact that these studies were conducted by consultants appointed by developers clearly created a conflict of interest.”

“In addition, they are conducted on the basis that all other matters are equal. This is most often not the case. An example is the traffic study for Tropicana City, which was conducted without taking into account traffic created by a shopping centre a stone’s throw away in Section 19. To make matters worse, the plan is for additional traffic to be diverted into the old Jalan Damansara dividing SS20 and Taman Tun (Dr Ismail), which comes under two separate city councils (DBKL and MBPJ). It also does not take into account that construction work has already commenced for a commercial centre on the Taman Tun side,” said Pua.

He said that traffic study consultants should be answerable to the local council instead of to developers, at the cost of the latter.

Pua said the MBPJ has a role to play in ensuring that there is an overall city masterplan with total planning on the environment, traffic and public transportation network,

However, he felt that the council had a big task at hand where they have to deal with fragmented pieces of land which has been sold or alienated to private developers who would have little or no interest in sharing costs with each other to build public infrastructures like roads.
I'm thinking to coming up with a people petition to the state government to implement a freeze on all new (and yet to be approved) high-rise development (anything above 4 stories?) in Petaling Jaya until such a time when:
  1. The updated and revised Rancang Tempatan Petaling Jaya (RTPJ) is approved by MBPJ and the state government after all necessary due process such as consultation with the people of Petaling Jaya, and

  2. An efficient public transportation system of high quality and frequency is set up to drastically reduce traffic within the city. While by and large, the state government has only bit roles in setting up public transportation services, it can insist that development project plans will only be approved if public transportation issues have been resolved (e.g., new high density projects can only be approved if there will be buses/trains plying the route etc.)
By "freezing" the approval of new development orders, as well as placing strict restrictions on density on those which have unfortunately been approved (but detailed plans yet to be submitted), it will also incentivise the developers to lobby and negotiate with public transport companies such as RapidKL to increase route coverage.

If you stay in Petaling Jaya and are willing to campaign for this movement and promote the petition (e.g., going house-to-house to get signatures for support), and even better, lead the project, please do not hesitate to contact me @ tonypua (at) yahoo (dot) com. I'll then be more than happy to play the role to lobby the state government with your petition.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Najib: Liberate the Minds of Students

Here's what The Star reported this morning:
There should be an intellectual renaissance to open up and liberate the minds of students, and this should start in the universities, said Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

“Our education system must chan ge. Our children are just not curious enough. They must be curious about the world. They must ask questions,” the Deputy Prime Minister said.
This should really be posted on my Education blog, but I wasn't even going to discuss the merits of the statement, but just to put it up to show the sheer "audacity" of the Prime Minister-in-waiting, so this blog might be more appropriate.

Can you believe that he probably read his speech with a straight face without flinching at all?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Asia 21 Society Conference in Tokyo

I'm now in Tokyo for a 3 day conference - Asia 21 Young Leaders Initiative Summit - and should be back in Parliament on Monday morning. For those who are trying to reach me - my Malaysian number is incapacitated as I do not own a 3G phone (other systems don't work here, unfortunately).

For any urgent matters, please email me (I still get to check periodically) or call/sms the Damansara Service Centre Hotline 016-2208867.

Civil Dissent Debate

This is a letter which I received from one of my voters, who has kindly permitted me to publish it here. I do not wholly agree with the views expressed by him, but the point here is the space for discussion, which is what a mature democracy is all about.

At the same time, I would not go to the extent that we should go to the streets for every little protest. There needs to be a discretionary balance. In my opinion, the Bersih rally last year galvanised the nation, so should we not have had it?

We can certainly agree on certain issues, while agreeing to disagree on others.

Dear YBs,

We want you to be free to attend Parliament, State Assembly meetings. We don't want you to be behind bars or be found guilty of breaking the law.

Should this happen, we, the constituents will have no voice in the Dewan Rakyat or Dewan negeri. we will only be the losers.

I myself hate such laws, as much as you do. But the law is the law, and it's very clear about getting a permit for any public gathering for such purposes.

Agreed you may have tried many times to get permits from a biased Police force, and failed. Still it is no excuse to break the law. This is what the present authority wants you to do - break the law, then they try you, find you guilty, fine you or imprison you and deprive you of your seat in Parliament of the State assembly. The Police will act-with or without provocation. What will happen if your group has been infiltrated ? The saboteur will only need to throw a small stone, and all hell will break loose ! You'll be accused of trying to overthrow the Government by force, and IMMEDIATELY arrested under the ISA ! That's what the Police and especially Syed Hamid Albar wants. We don't want that to happen, do we ? The Police are not clean. They came with guns and knives, ready to throw these weapons among you and then accuse you of being heavily ARMED with dangerous weapons !

I am just as frustrated as you are. You were lucky, they decided to,let you out to allow you to ask your first question in Parliament. You may not be so lucky the next time. Then I'll be even more frustrated !

Until the day we have a new government, we cannot change the law. When there is a NEW government in place, with a 2/3 majority, then, and only then, we can make changes.

File reports against the Police, bring up the issue in Parliament, alert internation bodies , play up the issue in the press, internet, blogs, but please do not fall into their trap, call ILLEGAL ASSEMBLY !

The Negara ku, our NATIONAL anthem and our flag is the pride of our nation, The Negara Ku is meant to be sung at legal occasions with respect-not at an illegal demonstration. Get your permit - and you can sing it with patriotism and pride ! - without fear !

In the meantime, those who are opposed to the ISA,SEDITION ACT, POLICE ACT 27, ect ect, will have to be patient. We, the people of Malaysia, waited 51 years to see the BN lose it's 2/3 majority, and 5 states. We'll wait for the NEXT election to see further changes.

So please be careful next time, for they can even act if you hold it INDOOR !

"27A. (1) Where any activity takes place on or in any land or premises which do not constitute a public place and—
(a) the activity is directed to, or is intended to be witnessed or heard or participated in by, persons outside the land or premises, or is capable from all the circumstances of being understood as being so directed or intended; or

(b) the activity attracts the presence of twenty persons or more outside the land or premises; or

(c) the activity is likely to be prejudicial to the interest of the security of Malaysia or any part thereof or to excite a disturbance of the peace, any police officer may order the persons involved in the activity to stop the activity and may order all persons found on or in or outside the land or premises to disperse.
(2) Any person who disobeys any order given under subsection (1) shall be guilty of an offence.

(3) Where three or more persons neglect or refuse to obey any order given under subsection (1), the activity concerned shall be deemed to be an unlawful activity, and all persons taking part or concerned in the activity, or in organizing or directing the activity, shall be guilty of an offence."

I don't mean to educate you, for you should know better.

Stanley Teoh
PJ Utara

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Why SingThe National Anthem?

The Chief Police Officer (CPO) of Selangor, under heavy criticism, retorts to media questioning of police actions by asking "Why Sing The National Anthem?"

Well, the simple answer to his stupid question, if he ever was really looking for an answer, is "Why not?" Is there a law against singing the National Anthem to demonstrate our patriotism to the country, among many many other things? The police seems to have forgotten that the event was held in the interest of, and for the betterment the country.

Fact of the matter is, we have told the crowd to disperse after the anthem is sung, and the police had decided to take action while it was being sung, instead of waiting even a few seconds more.

We took pains to cut short all our speeches, which in total added to no more than 10 minutes (it's all recorded I'm sure, so it's easily verifiable) and told everyone to go home. None of us really have any interest in getting arrested or create problems for the police. But of course, the CPO had to show the nation who's the boss.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

DAP Petaling Jaya Dinners 2008/9

To all readers and supporters, DAP Damansara and Paramount branches will be jointly organising 2 fund-raising dinners over the next two months. We would also take the opportunity to celebrate the year end and new year's festive seasons. The details are as follows:

1. Dinner: "2008 - Celebrating The Year of Hope & Change"
Venue: MBPJ Dewan Banquet
Date: 17 December 2008 (Wednesday)
Time: 7.30pm
Speakers: Lim Guan Eng, Gobind Singh, Hannah Yeoh, Tony Pua, Lau Weng San,
Dr Cheah Wing Yin
Halal Chinese food will be served, and the primary language for this dinner will be English.

2. Dinner: "2009 - Anticipating What's In Store For Malaysia?"
Venue: Damansara Palace Restaurant, Kota Damansara
Date: 15 January 2009 (Thursday)
Time: 7.30pm
Speakers: Lim Kit Siang, Nga Kor Ming, Ean Yong Hian Wah, Tony Pua,
Lau Weng San, Cheah Wing Yin, Tiew Way Keng
Chinese food will be served, and the primary language for this dinner will be Chinese.

The cost of the dinner will be RM60 per pax or RM600 per table. VIP tables are also available for RM1,500 a table. The funds raised from the dinner, anticipated to be approximately RM30,000 each will be used for running our respective service centres, and a portion donated to DAP Selangor and DAP Malaysia. Even for my office alone, it costs at least RM10,000 to operate monthly with 3-4 staff and any shortfall essentially comes from my own allowance as a Member of Parliament.

Hence we look forward to your generous support to help us provide our services to the public. For reservations, please email to or to me directly with your name, contact number, which dinner(s) and number of seats or tables (VIP or normal) required. We will then get back to you with further information.

For those who are not able to make the dinner, donations are also very much welcome ;-). Cheques should be written to "DAP Damansara Branch" or cash can be deposited at DAP Damansara Maybank account: 5141 9634 2008. Credit card payment is also available upon request.

Thank you once again for your continued support!

Why The Unnecessary Force?

I'll just let these pictures taken on the evening of the arrest, and posted on and let them speak for itself. ;-)

Selangor State Assemblyman for Kg Tunku, Lau Weng San was seeking a situation update
from the police officers by their vehicles. For his troubles, despite having identified himself,
he was given two punches on the face and chucked into the police truck as well.

A victim who was pulled from behind and fell with her head first onto the pavement,
resulting in a immediate visit to the hospital. Note her hospital gear.

And these are her blood-stained clothes.
Present here with her is the Selangor State Exco, Ronnie Liu

A few more pictures of minor bruises are available at Penang Watch.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Lying Chief Police Officer

Well, you can read accounts from DAP state assemblyman for Kg Tunku, Lau Weng San and myself from here and here. I won't really repeat them here.

But have you read in Malaysiakini that the Chief Police Officer (CPO) of Selangor, denies outright that the police officers charged at the peacefully assembled citizens while the national anthem, Negaraku, was being sung.
Despite video evidence, Selangor police chief Khalid Abu Bakar has denied that the police moved in on participants at a candlelight vigil last night while they were singing the national anthem.

"That is what they (participants) are claiming," Khalid told reporters at the Petaling Jaya police district headquarters about midnight. When told that there was a video recording of the police action, Khalid replied: “I am denying it.”
Well, would you believe your own eyes or this lying chief police officer? Check it out with your own eyes at the video by Malaysiakini here:

Can you trust your police force when even the chiefs are lying to Malaysians? We have already cut short all our speeches, advised all who gathered there to disperse after the anthem was sung, and the Police couldn't even wait for 2-3 more lines of the song be sung.

Released and Back in Parliament

Just a quick note to everyone who have shown great concern, I'm out of the police station now on personal bond (I think that's what it is) and am currently in parliament, in time to ask my scheduled question for No. 2.

I'm due to check back with the police station together with the other 23 persons who were arrested on the 24th November.

I'm in good spirits, so no one needs to worry, will write more later. The Public Accounts Committee is schedule to convene at 11.30am as well to discuss further on the Eurocopter issues.


Was at the candlelight vigil against ISA as well as to commemorate the first anniversary of BERSIH gathering. the story you can read from Malaysiakini.

I was arrested while seeking out Ronnie Liu and the senior police officers in charge to make sure that everyone is ok.

the CPO Selangor issued the call to arrest me, and 2 guys came over to grab one arm each and pushed me towards the Black Maria.

I stated that I will walk, don't be rough but they tore my shirt instead. I repeated my call and 3 other police officers came at me, one with the knees into my belly while another attempted to kick my shin.

They then chucked me against the back of the Black Maria truck and shoved me up despite me stating that I can climb myself.

Apparently after waiting some 2 hours plus, it appears that they are going to keep us for the night here, and charge us tomorrow.

Weng San was also assaulted and had major bruises and some bleeding on the face. He saw the police who assaulted him here at the station, and Ronnie confronted him for his name. he appeared shaken by the demand and he refused to give his name and gave insted some very rude retorts.

Will update if I have sufficient battery. We are in good spirits and the lawyers have just been allowed in. So don't worry guys and gals :-)

Ah, and yes, its my first time. Not at all glamourous. :-)

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Sarah Palin: Video Spoofs

Like it or not, political campaigning in the United States can be rather innovative and ingenius. Even famous personalities make spoofs, and let their views be known.

The above is a video by P. Diddy, posted on his blog and had more than half a million views. In it, he "massacred" vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin over her "intelligent" answer over a simple question posted by a TV journalist - "what magazines or newspapers do you read to know what's happening in the world?" (Sounds familiar?)

In Malaysia, while we are certainly catching up in terms of making "political videos", and spreading the message via Facebook (I can't believe that one of my ceramah videos on YouTube, shot by Malaysiakini has received some 115,000 views!), I certainly look forward to the day when our students, and the public are able to come up with more creative and entertaining political video and satires in future elections. ;-)

Here's another one by college students, a la High School Musical ;-)

For more, check out the Top 10 Sarah Palin Spoofing list compiled by Time.

Oh, and in the mean time, while I'm the National Publicity Secretary for DAP, we are looking out for creative talents who would like to join us on our video broadcasting team. Write in to daprocket(at)rocketmail(dot)com.

Saturday, November 08, 2008

'Stateless' Malaysians

I held a press conference to highlight a few cases which I have received within my constituency in the last few months of Malaysians, young and old, being denied their rights to citizenship. Some cases are more complicated, but some are outright errors on the part of the National Registration Department (NRD). However, one thing is common, the lack of response, action or worse, a complete disregard of their rights by the NRD, which falls under the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Below is the relevant news report from The Malaysian Insider:

PETALING JAYA, Nov 7 — A three-year-old girl is among three people apparently denied citizenship in a growing number of what the DAP’s Tony Pua says are “systemic irregularities” in the National Registration Department.

Speaking at a press conference today, Pua highlighted the three cases which he hoped the government would look into and expedite the process of granting them citizenship.

"I think citizenship is a basic right for any human anywhere in the world. Based on our citizenship law if they qualify, the government should take every step to expedite the process," said Pua, who is also the DAP national publicity secretary.

Lai Jian Yo, 3, who has a Thai mother and a Malaysian father, has been erroneously listed as a non-Malaysian in her birth certificate.

Pua said: "By law, any person born in this country after Merdeka as long as the father or mother is a citizen or even a permanent resident of Malaysia, the child will qualify as a citizen."

(Check Federal Constitution Article 14(1)(b), and Part II of 2nd Schedule)

The child was born in 2005, and the parents only appealed in March last year as they were not aware of the law. The parents were asked to submit an application but up to this day there has not been any progress.

"It is not a matter of by application; if the error is in the birth certificate then all you need to do is change the birth certificate. You don't need to actually apply for new citizenship because she is not a foreigner," said Pua, who is also Petaling Jaya Utara MP.

The father is worried for the child's future because he is not able to register her for school. The girl will also not be able to work or move freely if she remains stateless.

The second case involves Thee Hin Yee, 19, who is an adopted child. She is unable to study or work due to her current situation.

She grew up having a temporary passport. (errata: this refers to Passport terhad, not temporary passport) However when she was 12, the NRD confiscated her birth certificate when she collected her identity card. The NRD deemed her birth certificate not legitimate and also retained her identity card. She submitted her application in 2002 but there has been no progress till now.

The third case highlighted by Pua was that of a 72-year-old mother Lam Khoi Tong, who has been denied a passport.

She was born before independence and has pre-independence identity papers. Due to misinformation during registration, she was issued a red identity card even though she was eligible for citizenship.

She has been applying ever since for citizenship.

Said Pua: "There are real systematic issues or problems in the NRD because you find people from the youngest to the oldest facing problems."

Friday, November 07, 2008

Where Is My Condensed Milk?

My latest column in the Nutgraph is a little more self-indulgent, lamenting the extinction of condensed milk off our shores... sob!
Most Malaysians of my generation, or even the generation before, grew up with sweetened condensed milk (susu pekat manis) as an essential additive to our daily beverages. It was an item I could not do without when drinking kopi at my local coffee shop, making my own cup of Milo at home, or having teh tarik at my favourite mamak stall. In fact, the brand of condensed milk could often make or break the taste of your favourite drink.

But alas, sweetened condensed milk faced a slow but inevitable extinction in Malaysia sometime early last year. What all of us are consuming today, and what is available widely in all hyper- and mini-markets, is an inferior substitute called sweetened condensed creamer (krimer pekat manis). You haven't noticed? Well, now you know.
Want to find out why? Check it out at the NutGraph ;-).

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Indonesia Passed Anti-Discrimination Bill

History is made when blacks, who were denied suffrage as late as half a century ago, could rise to become a democratically elected president of the United States of America. What's more, Barrack Obama is actually a first generation American, where his father had migrated from Kenya.

But lets not look so far across the Pacific Ocean for an inspiring example of positive nation-building. Just a few days ago, Indonesia, who often perceived as "inferior" and "backward" to Malaysia, has just last week passed a groundbreaking law to legislate against racial discrimination.

As reported by Jakarta Post, the Indonesian House of Representatives has unanimously passed a bill that terms ethnic and racial discrimination as serious crimes.
Deputy Speaker Muhaimin Iskandar, who presided over the House's plenary session to approve the draft law, said Indonesia no longer had any room for any form of racial or ethnic discrimination.

Chairman of the House's special committee deliberating the bill, Murdaya Poo, said the endorsement of the bill should put an end to the long-standing dichotomy between indigenous and non-indigenous people in the country.

"A man cannot choose to be born as part of a certain race or ethnic group, and therefore discrimination must cease to exist," said Murdaya, who is Indonesian-Chinese.

He said the House proposed the bill as part of its effort to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination, which has been enacted since 1999.

Under the new law, leaders of public institutions found guilty of adopting discriminatory policies would face jail terms one-third more severe than those stipulated in the Criminal Code.


"We decided to set prison as the minimum sentence to deter people from committing racial or ethnic discrimination," said Murdaya, a member of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P).
Will a bill as such see the light of day in our beloved country?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Najib Needs Better Economic Advisors

Firstly, I would like to congratulate the new Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak for having at least read the alternative budget presented by Pakatan Rakyat, as admitted during his budget wrap-up speech and his subsequent press conference.

However, he certainly needs a better understanding of public economics, or at the very least engage better economic advisors.

The designated future prime minister has during his speech claimed that we have tabled an alternative budget which was “contractionary” (speech item 25) in nature, while the one by the Barisan Nasional (BN) government was “expansionary” in nature.

We would like to point out to the Finance Minister that a “contractionary” budget is one which results in a budget surplus, whereby the government's expenditure is less than its revenue. However, the budget tabled by Pakatan Rakyat was clearly an expansionary budget as it will result in an estimated 3.0% in budget deficit.

The key difference between the BN budget and the PR budget is hence not that the latter is “contrationary” as alleged but the fact that the former is overly expansionary, which will result in a sizeable increase in budget deficit from the initially projected 3.6% to 4.8% or possibly even higher.

The Barisan Nasional government has over the past 5 years nearly doubled its operational expenditure from RM80 billion in 2004 to RM154 bill for 2009. In addition, the proposed government's operational expenditure for 2009 has exceeded even the total expenditure just 2 years ago in 2006, which amounted to RM136 million.

In the light of a sharp reduction in government revenues arising from significantly lower petroluem and corporate tax revenues due to falling oil and commodity prices, the Pakatan Rakyat budget has taken the responsible move to cut wastage and inefficiencies incurred in the operational budget. The RM24 billion savings in operational expenditure of the PR Budget, compared to the BN budget can hence be better and more effectively utilised in other development expendtires which will benefit the rakyat.

Hence, Datuk Seri Najib's insistence that he wasn't lying when he said Pakatan Rakyat's alternative budget a contractionary budget on the basis that "[PR] suggest an operating expenditure of RM130 billion when ours is RM154 billion," is completely baseless.

As the economy faces critical challenges in the coming months and possibly years, it is important for the government to not only spend money to strengthen and boost the economy, we must spend money effectively without wastage and corruption while at the same time be cognizant of our financial abilities, so as to not over-extend our expenditure which will result in a runaway deficit and its corresponding implications.

In the interest of Malaysians at large, we will hence be more than happy to explain our Pakatan Rakyat budget to the Finance Minister or his advisors, should he not have the necessary expertise to understand our budget document.

ValueCap: Stop the Half-Truths!

The New Finance Minister Should Stop Misleading Malaysians with Half-Truths

Two days ago, in a shocking expose by, it appears that the RM5 billion injection into ValueCap Sdn Bhd was not intended as “additional” investment to support the flailing stock market as suggested by the new Finance Minister – but instead it's a rescue package designed for ValueCap Sdn Bhd to repay its RM5.1 billion debt which is due in a few months.

We are now in possession of documents which are publicly available from the Securities Commission website, which include the Term Sheet as well as the Principal Terms & Conditions of the RM5.1 billion bond issued by ValueCap Sdn Bhd on 28 February 2003.
Issue Size : Up to RM9,950,000,000 nominal amount of Bonds.
Tenor of the issue:
Three (3) years from the date of the first issue of the Bonds. Upon maturity, the Bonds shall be renewable for up to three (3) years at the discretion of the Bondholders.

The Bonds will be issued over a a period of twelve (12) months from the first issue of the Bonds (or such later date as may be agreed by Valuecap and the Bondholders, but in any case not later than three (3) years from the date of the first issue of the Bonds).
The lastest Audited Report of ValueCap in 2007 also confirmed that there is an existing “long-term deferred liability” amounting to RM5.1 billion.

As the bond has already been extended by 3 years as allowed in the terms of the bond in 2006, ValueCap is required to return the monies to the 3 bondholders, EPF, Khazanah and Permodalan Nasional Berhad come February 2009.

Therefore, when the new finance minister, Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak said that “the Government has doubled the amount of money available to buy undervalued stocks to RM10bil and will also continue with its spending to boost the country’s economy,” as reported in the Star on October 21st, his statement can at best be described as a half-truth.

The injection of additional RM5 billions from EPF to ValueCap has been widely criticised as not being able to achieve its purported objective of “to boost the economy and protect Malaysia from the effects of the global financial turmoil” for the amount forms only an estimated 1% of the Bursa Malaysia stock market capitalisation and supporting the stock market only treats the surface impact of the global financial crisis, and not the fundamental elements of the economy.

Hence, the expose clearly provides the real rationale behind the sudden RM5 billion loan from EPF to ValueCap which is a mega bail-out of Valuecap whose investment lifespan has already ended nearly 3 years ago.

However, despite the expose and media coverage over the last 2 days, the new Finance Minister has refused to answer the allegations, and instead brushed them aside by saying that the involved parties knows best what to do with the new RM5 billion(!)
Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak defended the RM5 billion injection into ValueCap via a loan from the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) despite an outstanding RM5.1 billion debt, saying that the company has performed well so far.

"The shareholders are happy and have gotten returns. They will decide what is the best way to handle it," he said referring to the sum owed in interest-bearing unsecured bonds.
In addtion, we demand full and immediate accountability and transparency of ValueCap investment since 2003, as per all international investment funds to explain its inability to “repay” the initial loans from EPF, Khazanah and Permodalan Nasional Bhd.

We would like to call upon the new Minister of Finance to withdraw the RM5 billion injection to ValueCap which serves only deal with the symptoms of global financial crisis and does not in anyway serve to increase Malaysia's ability to face the challenges brought about by the crisis. What is worse, is that it puts at risk the hard-earned retirement savings of ordinary Malaysians.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Eurocopters - All Is Well?

(Update: Read also Sdr Lim Kit Siang's latest take on the issue.)

As a Public Accounts Committee member, it will be a breach of privilege for me to discuss here in detail inquiries which have or are being conducted. And the Eurocopter transaction is complicated further by the fact that certain information are classified as "military secrets". However, as I've been receiving emails asking as to whether an "all clear" has really been given, I'll just refer below to The Malaysian Insider report which gave a more balanced view of what transpired.
After several meetings stretched out over the past one week, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has cleared the federal government of scandal into the RM1.6 billion Eurocopter military deal.

However, the decision was not unanimous as some of its members felt that officials from the Defence Ministry had failed to address several key questions, notably what made the Eurocopter EC725 Cougar the preferred choice to replace the Royal Malaysian Air Force's 42-year-old fleet of Nuri helicopters.

Attempts to obtain detailed explanations from the ministry's top officials who were present at today's inquiry session were thwarted.

The questions had been submitted beforehand, but apparently the military top brass had chosen to ignore the queries or had responded merely that they were confidential military information and could not as such be disclosed.

ree made it to the final list but the Defence Ministry selected the Eurocopter which cost RM1.604 billion for 12 units. The other two packages cost RM1.262 billion and RM2.442 billion respectively.


The Malaysian Insider understands that while the Defence Ministry had abided by the regulations in the tender procedure, it had not followed the standard norms in calling up each of the helicopter manufacturers to clarify the details of their tender.

"Our concern is that this deal, to put it in a way, is made for Eurocopter. None of the tenderers were called in for tender clarification of the tender document during the entire tender process," noted a horrified PAC member.
I'm certain that my other party leaders will make the necessary comments on the issue.

Monday, November 03, 2008

Silterra: Never Ending Losses?

See Malaysiakini videoclip of the press conference this morning ;-)

The Ministry of Finance and Khazanah Nasional must explain both to the Parliament as well as to the Malaysian public in general on the calamitous performance of its wafer fabrication subsidiary, Silterra Malaysia Sdn Bhd.

As highlighted by the Member of Parliament for Labis, Chua Tee Yong in Parliament last Wednesday, Silterra has incurred losses of RM1 billion in the financial year 2007, despite the fact that the Government has invested more than RM5 billion in the company since 1994.

A check with the records in the Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM), the company also made losses of RM864 million and RM646 million in 2005 and 2006 respectively. The revenue generated by the company in these years were only RM461 million and RM551 million, lower than even the losses incurred!

What is most fearful is the fact that Silterra is seeking additional RM8.5 billion to fund its expansioin operations despite the fact that its shareholder capital have been reduced from RM5 billion to only RM798 million in 2006, possibly even lower in 2007.

Malaysia used to attract some of the biggest technological giants such as Intel, Motorola and Dell to develop and manufacture their latest technologies in the country. However, in the past decade, we have clearly fallen behind in terms of advancement in manufacturing technology.

For example, Malaysia's current leading semi-conductor wafer-fabricator, SilTerra Malaysia Sdn Bhd offers major foundry compatible CMOS logic, high-voltage and mixed-signal/RF technologies down to 130 nanometer feature size. SilTerra’s wafer fab has a design capacity of 40,000 eight-inch wafers per month.

In fact, in our DAP's 2008 budget statement, we have stated that the semi-conductor technology has advanced significantly with state-of-the-art 90-nm technology on 300-mm wafers, and 65-nm production. The 45-nm process technology is now under aggressive development.

Our neighbours, Singapore, for example, is attracting more of the ‘first-of-its-kind’ investments such as the chip used in the latest PlayStation3 and Xbox. A French semiconductor company, Soitec, is investing $700 million to set up in Singapore its first offshore facility to make the wafer for this chip in 2007. This advanced technology has wafers with alternating layers of silicon and insulator, unlike conventional wafers which use silicon throughout. Singapore became the only country in Asia that it trusts well enough to set up its first manufacturing campus outside of France.

Khazanah Nasional and the Finance Minister must explain to the parliament on the extraordinary losses incurred to date, the continued viability of Silterra and if viable, what are the critical measures being put in place to ensure that Silterra can be checked out from the "intensive care unit" (ICU).

Do we have what it takes to compete in this particular sector, or would it be more beneficial for Malaysia to lay emphasis and invest in high-technology sectors which it actually possess competitive advantages?

Saturday, November 01, 2008

MCA & Gerakan Chickens

Empty vassals make the most noise.

The proverb couldn't have been more appropriate for MCA and Gerakan, "key" component parties of the Barisan Nasional government.

Both parties made so much unbelievable noises at their respective party congress and conferences, that they are all for reform in the current draconian laws, the Internal Security Act, the Printing & Publications Act, the University & University Colleges Act and so on. The printed media gave them a field day to demonstrate that these parties have learnt their lesson from the March 8th elections.

However, when it comes to the crunch where it really counts, they scatter like frightened little chickens.

Two to three weeks ago, we initiated a signature campaign among Members of Parliament to request the Prime Minister to prioritise a motion to debate on the Internal Security Act (ISA) in parliament. Note that it was not even a motion to amend or change or abolish the Act. It was just a request to "debate" it.

Surprise, surprise, when we finally submitted the petition on 23 Oct, only 1 Parti Bangsa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS) BN MP, Billy Abit Joo of Hulu Rejang signed the petition. Where did all the 15 MCA and 2 Gerakan MPs disappear to?

As reported by The NutGraph, Deputy Education Minister, and new MCA Youth Chief, Dr Wee Ka Siong gave his excuse:
"If we (MCA MPs) did not sign the petition, it did not mean that we have no guts. It's just that the ruling coalition has a different way of doing things from the opposition," said Wee, who is also Deputy Education Minister and MP for Ayer Hitam.

He said debating an act, for it to be amended, was a passive way of solving the problem as all acts needed the cabinet's approval before amendment.

"Even if they are allowed to debate about it, they can keep debating until the cows come home but the law will still remain the same. We have to go back to the conventional structure, which is to go through the cabinet, if we want to amend any law," he said.

MCA's Chua Tee Yong, who took over his father, and the newly elected MCA Deputy President's former parliamentary seat, Labis "believed there would eventually be changes in the act but not now."
"MCA has called for the act to be reviewed because we believe that such law is needed in the country, just as in other countries, to keep law and order. But we want the act to be reviewed so that it will not be easily abused," he said.

Chua, however, said he could not recall if the caucus had approached him to sign the petition but he was confident that it was merely an attempt at gaining political mileage for the opposition.

Wanita Gerakan chief Datuk Tan Lian Hoe, MP for Gerik and Deputy Minister of Information claims that:
"I do not want to support the petition because I do not want other people to ride on us (Gerakan) for political mileage."
The above excuses are completely unacceptable for many many reasons:
  1. By claiming that only the Cabinet can initiate a review of the ISA (and not the Parliament), makes a complete mockery of the independence of the Parliament, which is the highest law-making body of the country. Are we MPs all subservient to the Executive and cannot have our own say? (Well, to the BN parties, it obviously is!)

  2. By claiming that there will "eventually" be changes in the act but not now, it's the clearest indication that MCA/Gerakan are not at all sincere in their attempts to amend or abolish the ISA! If it's an evil act, why wait? Why not now? Because it still serves the purpose of BN to suppress dissent?

  3. What's worse is that all the above comments flies in the face of statement issued by all the top UMNO leaders, that is the ISA will neither be repealed nor amended, and clearly MCA and Gerakan are just toeing the line. No more, no less.
MCA has elected a new Party President who is reputedly "brave" and "outspoken" and will do what is right for the people. I must say I'm disappointed that he has not taken up this opportune moment to mean what he says, and to signal that MCA will clearly depart from its broken past.

Since MCA and Gerakan are so happy to say that the opposition are just claiming political mileage in the above exercise.  On the contrary, it is when they actually refuse to join the petition that the opposition parties actually get to gain political mileage!

Regardless, I then hereby challenge that they lead the way and organise a petition, forum, signature campaign, or even a big walk, be it among MPs or the civil society in general to review, amend or even abolish ISA. I for one, and many others from DAP and other Pakatan parties will certainly be more than happy to cross the political divide and take full part in their campaign.

I don't care who the "political mileage" goes to, as long as the draconian ISA laws gets abolished. So who's politicising the issue? MCA and Gerakan's stand on these issues and their unwillingness to take concrete action merely demonstrates their hopelessness in furthering the cause for Malaysia.