Friday, January 30, 2009

Do We Live in The Simpsons Country?

For those who have not watched Malaysiakini's video on the 21 of us being charged by the Attorney General's office for gathering to light candles and sing the national anthem, here it is.

More interestingly, K Anand, who writes at The Malaysian Insider brings back memories of a 2006 episode of The Simpsons entitled "The Monkey Suit", where Lisa attempted to bring the Theory of Evolution into schools, and got arrested for her troubles. The parody is just frighteningly similar to what's happening to our Bolehland today...
Lisa then decides to go underground, organising a class after regular school hours to teach her classmates about Darwin and his book “The Origin of the Species”.

As she starts her first class, the door of the room is busted open by Police Chief Wiggum of the Springfield Police Department and his two deputies, guns drawn, arresting a young girl who was just trying to educate her fellow students.

Lisa says something to the effect that “there are harden criminals out there and you want to arrest me”, to which Wiggum replies “we only work based on the last law passed”, which was the one made at the town hall meeting above.

As they are talking, the scene shifts to the Kwik-E-Mart where a machine-gun toting criminal is randomly shooting at passersby from the rooftop. Looking through the window, Chief Wiggum just shrugs and says “ahhh... on another day we would have been all over that scene”.
Way to go, Malaysia.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Questions for Parliament 2009

Finally with all the festivities since the end of last year coming to an end, I'll probably be able to jolt myself from inertia, restart my engine again to start blogging more frequently ;-)

In particular, parliament will reconvene early this year on 16th February (it usually starts in March, but our outgoing prime minister wants to put in a few more laws to be passed before he hands over, hence it was brought forward). I've submitted my list of questions to the parliament before the Chinese New Year. I'll list them down below. Apologies for not having gathered some feedback before submitting, but with all the things which were happening, I didn't get around to giving sufficient notice. ;-)

List of questions for oral reply (subjected to maximum of 40 words each):
  1. Tony Pua meminta Menteri Koperasi dan Pembangunan Usahawan menyatakan sebab Syarikat Airport Limosin Malaysia menyewakan teksi KLIA dengan harga mahal sebanyak RM166 setiap hari. Manakala, sewa teksi bandar adalah hanya RM60 setiap hari untuk kenderaan yang sama. Apakah tindakan yang akan diambil supaya nasib pemandu teksi KLIA dapat dipeliharakan?

  2. Tony Pua meminta Menteri Kerjaraya menyatakan apakah bayaran yang dikenakan jikalau kerajaan mengambil-alih Lebuhraya Damansara-Puchong (LDP) mengikut terma ekspropriasi dalam perjanjian konsesi. Adakah ianya lebih wajar untuk mengekspropriasi LDP, ataupun membayar wang gantirugi RM75 juta setiap tahun kepada pihak konsesi diteruskan sehingga konsesi tamat.

  3. Tony Pua meminta Menteri Dalam Negeri menyatakan adakah keadaan keselamatan di Malaysia adalah amat serius kerana kes rompakan setiap 100,000 penduduk adalah 90.49 di Malaysia, manakala di Hong Kong dan Jepun hanya 17.56 dan 4.78. Kes rogol pula, index Malaysia 11.47, manakala Hong Kong dan Jepun hanya 1.54 dan 1.62.

  4. Tony Pua meminta Menteri Kewangan menyatakan pencapaian pelaburan dari luar negeri di Iskandar Malaysia dari segi jumlah yang telahpun dijanji berbanding dengan jumlah yang telah dilabur. Apakah impek kemerosotan ekonomi kepada Iskandar pada tahun-tahun yang akan datang?

  5. Tony Pua meminta Perdana Menteri menyatakan kedudukan penubuhan Suruhanjaya Pengangkutan Awam dan dana pengangkutan awam sebanyak RM35 billion yang telah diumumkan sejak June tahun lalu. Senaraikan jumlah perbelanjaan daripada dana ini yang akan dibelanjakan mengikut projek pembangunan perkhidmatan pengangkutan awam pada tahun 2009 dan 2010.

  6. Tony Pua meminta Menteri Tenaga, Air dan Komunikasi menyatakan samada kementerian akan mengubah status kesulitan perjanjian konsesi penjana tenaga bebas (IPP) seperti apa yang telah dilakukan oleh Kementerian Kerjaraya. Adakah perjanjian-perjanjian tersebut mempunyai peruntukan yang membolehkan kerajaan mengekspropriasi konsesi dan apakah terma pampasan yang perlu dibayar mengikut perjanjian?

  7. Tony Pua meminta Menteri Kerjaraya menyatakan hasil kajian pakar perunding mengenai konsesi Lebuhraya Damansara Puchong. Adakah pihak syarikat konsesi telah mematuhi kesemua syarat rekacipta dan pembinaan lebuhraya di dalam perjanjian, termasuklah syarat “divided dual three-lane carriageway with design speed of 80kph”?

  8. Tony Pua meminta Menteri Kewangan menyatakan adakah ianya lebih wajar untuk Khazanah Nasional yang memiliki 63.9% syarikat PLUS, untuk membuat tawaran am untuk membeli ekuiti daripada pemilik minoriti supaya perjanjian PLUS dapat dirombak untuk mencapai persetujuan harga tol yang lebih munasabah dengan kos pembinaan dan penyenggaraan.

  9. Tony Pua meminta Perdana Menteri menyatakan langkah-langkah yang akan diambil oleh pihak kerajaan untuk membetulkan segala “bottleneck” dari segi kelemahan rekabentuk CIQ Johor Bahru yang baru kerana pembukaan CIQ ini telahpun menyulitkan pengguna-pengguna tambak Johor biarpun pemandu kereta, penumpang bas ataupun pejalan kaki.

  10. Tony Pua meminta Menteri Dalam Negeri menyatakan hasil laporan daripada pakar jenayah daripada sebuah universiti tempat untuk menyelidik kadar jenayah di Malaysia untuk memberi keyakinan kepada rakyat bahawa Malaysia adalah lebih selamat daripada negara seperti Jepun dan Hong Kong, seperti yang diumumkan oleh Menteri pada 4hb Disember.

List of Questions for Written Reply:
  1. Tony Pua meminta Menteri Kerjaraya menyatakan wang pampasan yang perlu dibayar kepada setiap syarikat konsesi sekiranya kerajaan mengambil keputusan untuk mengekspropriasi konsesi mengikut syarat kontrak. Apakah wang pampasan yang dibayar kepada setiap konsesi setiap tahun untuk menampung kadar tol yang lebih rendah daripada apa yang dipersetujui.

  2. Tony Pua meminta Menteri Dalam Negeri menyatakan:

    i.Kadar jenayah di Selangor dari tahun 2000 sehingga 2008 mengikut tahun, jenis jenayah dan kawasan daerah.

    ii.Kadar jenayah di Malaysia dari tahun 2000 sehingga 2008 mengikut tahun, jenis jenayah dan negeri.

  3. Tony Pua miminta Menteri Dalam Negeri menyatakan 

    i.jumlah anggota polis di Petaling Jaya dari tahun 2000 sehingga 2008 mengikut tahun dan jawatan

    ii.jumlah anggota polis yang akan ditambah ke Petaling Jaya dari tahun 2009 sehingga 2012 berbanding dengan jumlah yang akan bersara mengikut tahun dan jawatan.

  4. Tony Pua meminta Menteri Kewangan menyatakan 

    i.saham-saham yang dimiliki oleh syarikat ValueCap mengikut tarikh pelaburan, jumlah syer, harga yang diperolehi dan harga semasa pada akhir tahun 2008.

    ii.kunci kira-kira terperinci syarikat ValueCap pada akhir tahun 2008

  5. Tony Pua meminta Menteri Kewangan menyatakan keduduk pelaburan EPF memerolehi Bank RHB pada tahun 2007 dan memberikan:

    i.Jumlah perbelanjaan mengikut jenis aset dan ekuiti

    ii.Jumlah nilai mengikut jenis aset dan ekuiti, termasuk wang daripada syer yang telah jual kepada pihak lain

Saturday, January 24, 2009


Tony sheds a tear on Haris' big shoulders  as he enters the courtroom
as an accused for the first time... sob! (Pic courtesy of Sinchew

Heh, as many of you would have read by now, the Government decided to offer us big "ang pow" before Chinese New Year by charging us for our presence at the candlelight vigil commemorating the first anniversary of the BERSIH rally as well as to oppose the continued use of ISA.

Of course, you've read all about our arrest here and here. Both Weng San and I have yet to charge the police of assault, and yet they've decided to proceed to prosecute us "under instructions from the top".

In the past, one could "almost" understand that action is taken if we march the streets, stop traffic, sit on the roads that actions would be taken. But in this case, we were on MBPJ property with councillors and Selangor state government exco present, lighting candles and singing the national anthem, and yet the police came in to beat up people without arms and charge them in court.  Of course, when the UMNO thugs take the streets, the police will give them security escort instead ;-)

It is of course, a classic case of intimidation. If any of us elected representatives are found guilty, under the law, the judge has no choice but to impose a minimum RM2,000 fine, and we'll all be disqualified from our elected positions. Yes, it's a concern, but I do know of other newly elected reps who have their charges outstanding since 1999 reformasi days... so yes, I'll remain PJU MP for a while more yet ;-)

More importantly, as the Bar Council President, stated in the Malaysian Insider:
Bar Council president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, who had shown up in support of the accused, said the charges were "completely ridiculous" and transgressed against the public's right to participate in a peaceful demonstration.

She added that it was a waste of taxpayers' money to prosecute the 21.
While in Malaysiakini:
Ambiga told reporters that the attorney-general should drop the charges and put in efforts to prosecute real crimes and not people exercising freedom of expression which is protected under the Federal Constitution.

"These people are not dangerous," she said, adding that there are better ways where the government could have utilised the taxpayers' money rather than to charge them.

I can't agree more. With crime rates soaring, I'm sure we must one of the biggest criminal gangs in town, or worse, national security threats which required the Attorney-General's office from Putrajaya to personal send of the "rising star" Deputy Public Prosecutors to handle the charges.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Take Back Highways?

Article today in The Sun

DAP's Ops RESTORE ("Restructure Toll Rates & Equity") Team handed over our preliminary findings on the toll concessions to the Ministry of Works yesterday morning - will blog the contents later.

But I thought it was rather interesting that I received another anonymous email, in it which suggested that the RM75 million compensation for LITRAK was only for 2007 and 2008 (which I'll further verify with the works minister) and another interesting comment as follows:
If the toll rates are imposed as per the CA (Concession Agreement), there will be ZERO compensation and I do not understand why the Government would even think of spending RM1.4 Billion for expropriation, as per you statement.
Ummm... if the government doesn't pay the compensation, the rakyat will have to pay to make up the extra 50 sen no?

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Cheaper to Expropriate LDP

Article published in The Sun today, pg 6

ex⋅pro⋅pri⋅ate   [eks-proh-pree-eyt]
–verb (used with object), -at⋅ed, -at⋅ing.
  1. to take possession of, esp. for public use by the right of eminent domain, thus divesting the title of the private owner: The government expropriated the land for a recreation area.

  2. to dispossess (a person) of ownership: The revolutionary government expropriated the landowners from their estates.

  3. to take (something) from another's possession for one's own use: He expropriated my ideas for his own article.
I have blogged earlier that after reviewing the agreement of several toll concessions, including Lebuhraya Damansara-Puchong (LDP), Cheras Grand Saga Highway, KESAS and Butterworth Outer Ring Road (BORR), the Government is able to 'expropriate' these highways by giving between 3 to 6 months' notice at 'reasonable' prices.

Lets lay out the facts and figures for LDP here.

1. Cost of expropriation
  • Cost of Construction: RM1.327 billion 
    (inclusive of capitalised interest as published in Litrak's listing prospectus)

  • Interest to shareholder loans to Litrak @ 12% per annum, if any, net of interest and dividends already paid. Pending further investigation and number crunching, I'm going to assume negligible amount due for this item as all existing loans/bonds are taken from 3rd parties and not from shareholders.
2. Government compensation to LDP for 'lower' toll rates:
  • Approximately RM628 million as of 2008

  • Annual payments of RM75 million (compensation for lowering the toll rate from RM2.10 to RM1.60)

  • Contract runs to 2028, i.e., 20 more years of compensation to maintain lower toll rates. Assuming continued 'subsidy' of RM0.50 per annum and constant traffic volume, compensation will amount to RM1.5 billion over the next 20 years.

  • Total compensation 'paid' by 2028 will be approximately RM2.2 billion
Simple mathematics say that RM2.2 billion in compensation for lowering toll rates is much higher than the cost of expropriating the LDP concession. Even if we were to write off the RM628 million which has already been paid, future estimated compensation of RM1.5 billion alone is sufficient to cover the cost.

The Government cannot then say that they don't have the funds to expropriate the highway(s). If they have the money to pay the compensation, they certainly have more than enough money to pay for the expropriation.

What's more, the compensation rate may increase further after 2016 as the toll rate is scheduled to be increased to RM3.10 then. And after appropriation, the Government can either lower the toll rate substantially and its revenues be used to expand its public transportation infrastructure.

So, what say you, Barisan Nasional?

MCA Man Fined For Attempted Bribe...

... in Singapore!!

This story certainly had me cracking up!
A Malaysian community leader initially fined S$15,000 (RM36,000) for offering a bribe to a traffic policeman was yesterday sentenced to jail for six weeks following an appeal by the prosecution.


Rajah added that the jail term meted out to Lim Teck Choon, 56, took into account mitigating factors raised by his lawyer. He would otherwise have been jailed two to three months.

Lim, who has business interests on both sides of the Causeway, is a member of the MCA and the party's deputy chairman in the town of Kampong Jawa in Johor. A philanthropist, he regularly donates money to temples and an orphanage; in 1988, he donated a building for a school.

A traffic police officer caught Lim making an illegal U-turn on Woodlands Road and driving against the flow of traffic for 50m. While waiting for a vehicle to take Lim back to the police station, Sergeant Pah Wenxiang tried to defuse the tense situation by starting a conversation.

Lim told the police officer that he owned a few plantations in Malaysia and knew high-ranking officials.

During the conversation, he abruptly asked Pah in Mandarin: “Why want to do this? Be enemy? You should let me go. We can be friends. Next time you come to Malaysia, I will take care of you. Still got good things.”

He also made a gesture that the officer took as an offer of money.
Read the full story in The Malaysian Insider. ;-)

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

RM18 Billion Profit Not Too Much?

Just got this in my mailbox, thought its worth a blog post. Have a read and share your thoughts ;-)

Dear Tony Pua,

I am a Malaysian Chinese businessman. I have read your article about LDP. Why do you think 14.2 times return on capital over 30 years is too much? If you look at the PAT figures, the real profit only comes from Year 2016 onwards.

I think most people look at figures without relative thinking. That means when you see RM18.865 billion, you will think, that’s a lot of money and it is not fair for this money to be given to a single individual, a company or a group of people. The cost is only RM1.327 billion. 30 Years is not that long. And then, do a reverse calculation and finds that the Return on capital is 14.2 times over 30 years. It must be too high!

People who do this type of calculations do not really understand and comprehend the numbers. They don’t know who much billion is. What it can buy and how the money looks like because they never have that kind of money. Only the rich truly understands the number.

Let’s take a look at the numbers where small people can easily understand. Say for example you are 20 years old and you come out with a capital of RM10,000.00 to start a web, consulting, SEO type of businesses. You bought a notebook, a printer, rent a small office, etc. 30 years with 14.2 times return on capital means at the age of 50, you have earned RM142,000.00 with your start up capital 30 years ago. That translate to RM4,733.33 profit per year and RM394.44 profit per month. Now, do you still think the return is really that high?

Not many companies can come out with RM1.327 billion of investment. Even those who have that kind of money many not be too keen to invest since the return is really slow and have lots of uncertainties. For example, DAP in this case, is an uncertainty to them. All countries needs companies to invest money, but you cannot stop them to make money. If DAP continues to stop businesses from making money, and count beans all the time, the economy will continue to fall. Nothing is fair in this world. You and I cannot complain because we do not have RM1.327 billion in our pocket.

Malaysia is really not business friendly anymore. We see government officials constantly saying things like “profiteering, indiscrimatly increase prices, excessive profiteering, unscrupulous traders”, etc. It is as if they are tying to brand businesses as evil. Companies are not supposed to make money, but help the “rakyat”. The economy cycle is still the same. First, companies must be rich. When companies are rich, employees gets more pay and government get more taxes. Companies, employees and government will all spent more in the economy.

But, in order to be politically correct, politicians want government to save money, companies to make less “excessive” profits, but at the same time want the rakyat which are mostly employees to have more disposable income. Do you really think bosses pay employees based on performance? I think they pay employees based on how much profit they made.

Hey, you were the CEO of a listed company in Singapore. I am sure these are no rocket science to you.


We Want Our Highways Back!

In the past, our previous Works Minister, Datuk Seri Samy Vellu will brush off suggestions by opposition politicians to take over the highway concessionaires to relieve the burden of the people by saying that it'll cost the government RM100 billion to take over all the highways in the country. It's a ridiculous figure of course, but you know how Samy Vellu is.

Hence we are thankful to the new Works Minister, Datuk Mohd Zin Mohamed for declassifying the majority of the toll concession agreements for public viewing, which will allow us at the same time to study if it's even feasible for the Government to terminate or take over these concessions. (Although I must say, only 5 persons at a time, up to 1 agreement each time for up to 2 hours is a little impractical).

I had the opportunity to have an early look at the agreement for Lebuhraya Damansara-Puchong (LDP) which cuts right across my constituency, a source of complaints and dissatisfaction among my voters in Petaling Jaya, and those in Puchong to Kepong. After all, we have highlighted previously these cases of highway robberies, and the excessive profits which LDP is making.

My comments on my brief visit this morning has been reported widely in the Chinese press (including the Chinese Malaysiakini) and also The Malaysian Insider.

I'll just add here the terms as per the contract on possibility of the Government taking over the concession. Readers who are corporate lawyers would probably be better placed to add further comments:

Under Clause 25.4 on Expropriation:
Notwithstanding any provision in this Agreement, the Government may [exterminate] this Agreement by expropriation of the Concession Company or expropriation of the Concession at any time by giving (3) months written notice to the Concession Company if it considers that such expropriation is in the national interest.

(You bet it is!!)

And in the event of expropriation, the terms of compensation is as follows under 26.3.2:

(a) the amount (if any) by which the Value of the Construciton Works exceeds the aggregate of the amounts paid or the liabilities and obligations assumed by the Government pursuant to Clause 26.1 and all amounts as at the date of compulsory purchase or acquisition owing to the Government by the Concession Company.

(b) an amount equal to:
  1. (i) the amount of interst which would have accrued on the moneys invested in or lent to the Concession Company by shareholders of the Concession Company as if the interest had accrued on such amounts from the relevant dates of payment to the date of payment by the Government on an accural basis of 12%; less

  2. (ii) any net dividends or interest received by the shareholders of the Concession Company
In simple terms, my understanding of the above clauses is that
  1. the Government can at any time terminate and acquire the LDP highway concession

  2. the Government just have to pay for the "Value of Construction Works" which will include capitalised interest costs (which for LDP as declared in their listing prospectus is RM1.327 billion)

  3. the Government will also have to pay interest of 12% to any loan extended by the shareholders of the concession, net of whatever interest or dividends which have already been paid.
The clause looks completely reasonable and given that the LDP concessionaires have to date refused to voluntarily reduce toll rates, the Government should immediately exercise these clauses.

After all, as of 2008, the Government would have already paid toll compensation amounting to RM628 million to date to Litrak, the LDP concessionaire! What's more, the Government will continues to pay RM75 million in compensation yearly til 2016 when the toll rate is scheduled to be increased to RM3.10 (from RM2.10 currently before Government compensation).

Simple mathematics (but we should however, never overestimate the mathematical competence of the BN government) tells you that it's actually cheaper to expropriate the Highway than to continue paying compensation over the next 20 years!! And that doesn't even take into account the fact that besides the compensation received (which is RM0.50 per passing vehicle), the road users still pay an exhorbitant RM1.60 each to sit in the very congested LDP, especially during peak hours!

I've also glimpsed through the above terms for KESAS and Grand Saga highways as well, and they say exactly the same thing! (Will look at more agreements tomorrow)

So please, stop the charade about it being too expensive to take back our highways. It's even more expensive to continue paying compensation to these concessionaires!