Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Najib, Meritocracy, Quotas & The NEP

At a dinner organised by the MCA and the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ACCCIM), the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak has not only announced a new “National Scholarship” category that will be based on merit, but more importantly he had also hinted at removing quotas in all economic sectors in Malaysia by admitting that “having quotas is not the right way and is not good for Bumiputeras”.

We fully supports all efforts to improve the economic livelihood of all poor bumiputeras and Malaysia, and believe that the quota system as has been implemented under BN's New Economic Policy (NEP) has failed the bumiputeras for it has promoted a rent-seeking culture, and entrenched cronyism and corruption among its politically connected beneficiaries.

Therefore, we are willing to provide full support to the Prime Minister to eliminate the inefficient and ineffective NEP quota system, and in its place promote meritocracy, not only for scholarships, but in all sectors including education and the economy. The policy on meritocracy should be complemented with an affirmative action policy based on needs, and not race.

However, the goodwill and sincerity of Najib's statement is put to question when on the very same evening, his Deputy Prime Minister, continued to stir Malay racial sentiments with the clarion call that “Umno will fight to the last drop of blood to protect Malay rights” in his speech in Pagoh, Johor. Taken together with the Prime Minister's own persistence in Malay and Muslim unity talks with PAS, raises the question as to whether the Barisan Nasional government is continuing the policy of singing a different song to a different racial audience.

This divide and rule concept also clearly flies in the face of the 1Malaysia concept being preached by Najib, as UMNO continues to place Malay unity and Malay rights above everything else under its “ketuanan Melayu” concept where all other BN component parties and ethnic groups are subjugated to the authority of UMNO.

We would like to call upon the Prime Minister to put his words into action by delivering a Ministerial statement in Parliament to call for the removal of the quota-based New Economic Policy and to replace it with a New Economic Agenda which promotes meritocracy and a needs-based affirmative action policy to help all poor, regardless of race, creed or religion.

I'm sure Pakatan Rakyat will give the Prime Minister our full support in Parliament to ensure that such a New Economic Agenda bill is approved as the new economic paradigm for Malaysia. We believe that a just, fair and equitable economic foundation will serve the interest of all Malaysians and will be the best approach to improve the competitiveness, competence and livelihood of the bumiputeras.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Forum: PKFZ Scandal - Still No Answers?

Despite the fact that the PKFZ scandal has bloated up to RM12.5 billion was exposed since February this year, the mystery of “Who's Dunnit?” remains completely unanswered.

Who - from the long list of current and ex-Minister of Transports, Port Klang Authority chairmans, and Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd (KDSB) chairpersons - is to be held responsible and accountable? Why has the blatant misuse of tax-payers monies not explained or revealed appropriately?

A concerted effort is being made to hide the truth. The Dewan Rakyat Speaker to immediately allow the full PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report to be to all MPs, the Transport Minister Ong Tee Keat escaped to the “prestigious” Paris Air Show returning only to give an 8-minute ministerial non-statement, the MACC's refusal to divulge their findings to the parliamentary public accounts committee (PAC), the refusal of the PAC to summon key witnesses like the former Transport Ministers, Tun Ling Liong Sik and Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy...

The seach to uncover the truth has hit a brickwall... should we let the matter rest?
We want you to come and share your sentiments at our forum:
RM12.5b PKFZ Scandal: No Competency, No Accountability & No Transparency!
Date : 1st July 2009 (Wed)
Time : 8pm
Venue : Civic Hall, Majlis Bandaraya Petaling Jaya (MBPJ)
Panelists will include:
  • Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary Leader
  • Tony Pua, MP for Petaling Jaya Utara
  • Charles Santiago, MP for Klang
  • Ronnie Liu, ADUN for Pandamaran, Selangor State EXCO
  • Dr Dzulkifli Ahmad, MP for Kuala Selangor
All are welcome and attendance is free.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

PKFZ: Questions for Attorney General

There will be a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meeting on Wednesday. We are meant to decide if we will summon the Attorney General (AG) to provide his opinions and views to the PAC with regards to the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal. There has been a reluctance by the PAC to summon the AG for one reason or other. The reluctance is to the extent that now, we have to submit our list of questions in advance, before deciding if the AG should even be summoned.

I've submitted my questions on Friday. I certainly hope that the AG will be summoned to answer the following questions which I'm certain are critical in uncovering the many wrongs in the administration and execution of the PKFZ project.

While I'm fully aware that the PAC has limited powers, but we should at the very least do our very responsible best to uncover the truth behind the largest financial misappropriation project costing up to RM12.5 billion in Malaysia.

1. Status surat sokongan daripada menteri-menteri pengangkutan

a. Apakah status surat sokong daripada menteri-menteri pengangkutan Tun Ling Liong Sik dan Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy? Adakah ke-empat-empat surat tersebut merupakan surat jaminan daripada pihak kerajaan?

b. Adakah seseorang Menteri mempunyai kuasa untuk mengeluarkan surat sebegitu bagi pihak Kerajaan?

c. Jika surat-surat tersebut merupakan surat jaminan, adakah kerajaaan diwajibkan untuk memenuhi jaminan dalam surat-surat tersebut, terutamanya jika seseorang menteri tidak mempunyai hak mengeluarkan surat jaminan?

d. Adakah terdapat keadaan di mana pihak kerajaan tidak perlu memenuhi syarat jaminan dalam surat tersebut? Apakah akibatnya jika kerajaan tidak memberikan sokongan kewangan kepada Lembaga Pelabuhan Kelang (LPK)?

2. Penyalah-gunaan kuasa

a. Apakah kesalahan dari segi undang-undang jika seseorang menteri (bukan kewangan) mengeluarkan sepohon surat jaminan bagi pihak kerajaan kepada pihak bank ataupun kontraktor? Apakah hukuman yang boleh dikenakan dari segi undang-undang Malaysia?

b. Adakah kesalahan (a) bertambah apabila surat jaminan diberi walaupun pihak audit negara telahpun kerap-kali memberi laporan bahawa status kewangan LPK adalah amat runcing?

c. Adakah ianya merupakan satu kesalahan jika seseorang pengurus menggunakan "seal" untuk menandatangani kontrak-kontrak bagi badan berkanun tanpa kebenaran daripada lembaga pengarah?

d. Adakah ianya merupakan satu kesalahan pengurusan LPK apabila mereka tidak mendapat kelulusan daripada Kabinet untuk membuat apa sahaja perbelanjaan yang melebihi RM100 juta, seperti yang diarahkan oleh Kabinet apabila projek Port Kelang Free Zone diluluskan?

e. Laporan audit PwC telahpun mengemukakan pelbagai kelemahan dari segi perundingan kontrak di mana kontrak pembangunan tidak menentukan secara teliti apa yang patut dan wajib diserahkan oleh pihak pembangun. Adakah ini merupakan sekurang-kurangnya "criminal negligence"?

f. Laporan audit PwC telah juga mengemukan pembayaran yang telah dibuat oleh pihak LPK untuk kerja pembangun yang tidak ditetapkan dalam kontrak. Adakah ini merupakan kesalahan?

g. Bagi soalan (d) dan (e) di atas, jika didapati ada kesalahan, siapakah yang bertanggungjawab ke atas kesalahan sebegitu - pengurus ataupun pengarah?

3. Pembelian Tanah PKFZ

a. Adakah pihak peguam negara telah menyeru pihak Kabinet secara rasmi, supaya membeli tanah tersebut mengikut "Land Acquisition Act" sebab:

(i) Tanah tersebut mempunyai terlalu banyak 'encumbrances', termasuk 8 caj dan 5 kaveat, dan pihak Kuala Dimensi telahpun membuat gambaran yang salah? Adakah pemberian 'gambaran' yang tidak tepat ini boleh merupakan kes pemalsuan ataupun penipuan (fraudulent misrepresentation)?

(ii) Pembelian tanah tersebut tidak sesuai/patut dijalankan secara "willing buyer, willing seller" kerana pihak Kuala Dimensi tidak dapat mengagihkan tanah kepada kerajaan bebas daripada 'encumbrance'

b. Jika peguam negara telah mengambil pendirian (a), apakah sebab-sebabnya.

c. Apakah kerumitan yang akan tertimbul dengan pembelian tanah secara "willing buyer, willing seller", dan adakah ia akan/boleh mengakibatkan apa-apa kesalahan undang-undang?

4. Kontrak Pembangunan Kuala Dimensi

a. Adakah terdapat klausa-klausa dalam perjanjian pembangunan (development contracts) di mana pihak kerajaan ataupun LPK mempunyai kuasa untuk menamatkan projek tersebut ataupun mengambil alih kerja-kerja daripada pihak pembangun?

5. Pengarah LPK dan PKFZ

a. Apakah kuasa dan tanggungjawab ahli-ahli lembaga yang telah dilantik oleh kerajaan ke dalam lembaga pengarah dari segi undang-undang?

b. Adakah kecuaian dan kelalaian menjalani tugas mereka, yang mengakibatkan kerugian besar seperti PKFZ, merupakan satu kesalahan dari segi undang-undang?

c. Pernahkah pihak peguam negara mengambil tindakan terhadap pihak pengarah badan berkanun kerana sebab-sebab seperti di atas.

6. Langkah Peguam Negara

a. Apakah langkah-langkah proaktif yang boleh diambil oleh pihak peguam negara untuk mempercepatkan pengurusan, siasatan dan tindakan dalam kes skandal PKFZ ini? Dan apakah halangan?

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Kicked Out of Parliament - Hansard

Here's the official Hansard version of what happened yesterday before I got kicked out. Judge for yourself whether I was even trying to be kicked out. The parliament Hansard is quoted verbatim, unabridged.
[I was standing waiting to be given the opportunity to seek clarification from Pasir Salak, who was speaking.]

Timbalan Yang di-Pertua [Datuk Dr. Haji Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar]: Yang Berhormat PJ Utara apa berdiri ini? Kalau hendak berdiri lama-lama macam itu kat luar berdiri. Dia tidak bagi peluang Yang Berhormat.

Tuan Pua Kiam Wee [Petaling Jaya Utara]: Dia tidak...

Timbalan Yang di-Pertua [Datuk Dr. Haji Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar]: Dia tidak bagi Yang Berhormat.

Dato' Haji Tajuddin Abdul Rahman [Pasir Salak]: Tuan Yang di-Pertua...

Timbalan Yang di-Pertua [Datuk Dr. Haji Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar]: Yang Berhormat, dia punya floor Yang Berhormat. Saya bagi peluang dia bercakap.

Dato' Haji Tajuddin Abdul Rahman [Pasir Salak]: Tuan Yang di-Pertua...

Tuan Pua Kiam Wee [Petaling Jaya Utara]: Saya berdiri di sini tunggu. Saya tidak bising!

Timbalan Yang di-Pertua [Datuk Dr. Haji Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar]: Yang Berhormat hendak gaduh dengan saya kah macam mana ini? Saya suruh Yang Berhormat duduk ataupun keluar Duduk ataupun keluar Yang Berhormat? Dia tidak bagi peluang dengan Yang Berhormat untuk mencelah.

Tuan Pua Kiam Wee [Petaling Jaya Utara]: Dia tidak kata tidak boleh!

Timbalan Yang di-Pertua [Datuk Dr. Haji Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar]: Yang Berhormat, tadi kita sudah dengar Yang Berhormat Ipoh Timur bercakap Yang Berhormat.

Tuan Pua Kiam Wee [Petaling Jaya Utara]: Saya tidak buat salah pun!

Timbalan Yang di-Pertua [Datuk Dr. Haji Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar]: Yang Berhormat, dengar cakap saya Yang Berhormat!

Tuan Pua Kiam Wee [Petaling Jaya Utara]: Saya tidak buat apa-apa!

Timbalan Yang di-Pertua [Datuk Dr. Haji Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar]: Duduk, duduk Yang Berhormat.

Tuan Pua Kiam Wee [Petaling Jaya Utara]: Saya berdiri di sini sahaja. Saya tunggu dia bagi peluang!

Timbalan Yang di-Pertua [Datuk Dr. Haji Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar]: Peraturan dalam Dewan tak boleh berdiri macam itu Yang Berhormat.

Tuan Pua Kiam Wee [Petaling Jaya Utara]: Dia tidak kata tidak boleh! Kalau tak boleh saya duduk. Kalau dia tidak kata tidak boleh saya berdiri minta jalan!

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

Dato' Haji Tajuddin Abdul Rahman [Pasir Salak]: Duduk sekejaplah.

Timbalan Yang di-Pertua [Datuk Dr. Haji Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar]: Dengar, dengar Yang Berhormat. Kalau saya suruh duduk Yang Berhormat kena duduk. Walaupun dia bagi, saya suruh duduk, duduk juga Yang Berhormat.

Seorang Ahli: Suruh dia keluar Tuan Yang di-Pertua! Lawan tauke pula.

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

Tuan Pua Kiam Wee [Petaling Jaya Utara]: [Bercakap tanpa menggunakan pembesar suara]

[This is the part where he switched off my mike. I was telling the speaker that I will sit if he asks me to sit, but don't scold me for something which I did not do wrong, and he should be fair to me. I sat down after having said my piece.]

Dato' Haji Tajuddin Abdul Rahman [Pasir Salak]: Terima kasih Tuan Yang di-Pertua.

Timbalan Yang di-Pertua [Datuk Dr. Haji Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar]: Kita kena berani dengar orang lain punya cakap juga Yang Berhormat.

[I immediately got pissed with the speaker's snide remarks, and stood up again]

Tuan Pua Kiam Wee [Petaling Jaya Utara]: Saya berani! Saya berani dengar, saya tidak buat bising.

Timbalan Yang di-Pertua [Datuk Dr. Haji Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar]: Yang Berhormat, saya minta Yang Berhormat keluar daripada Dewan sampai habis petang ini. Sila Yang Berhormat. Sila keluar Yang Berhormat.

[Dewan riuh]
The way I was thrown out, if the Speakers all maintain the same position, at least 5 MPs will be thrown out each day, if not more. It was just ridiculous.

If you want to see more, watch this Youtube clip of last year's session when Pasir Salak uttered "bloodily Bastard" at opposition MPs but this same speaker who suspended me, didn't even send him out for even half-a-day.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Kicked Out of Parliament II

As per my earlier post on the sequence of events leading to my being ejected from the house, the Deputy Speaker has confirmed to reporters that he suspended me because "he[Tony] was arguing with me."

Indeed I was! But I was protesting my innocence and protesting the fact that the Speaker was making unwarranted disparaging remarks about me while I was already seated.

I reiterate that I was only standing to wait for the opportunity to raise a clarification to Pasir Salak who was speaking, and little else. But the speaker chose to reprimand me for God knows what reason.

On the other hand, when Pasir Salak and Bintulu (the Kuala Dimensi owner in the PKFZ scandal) was creating a total ruckus in the house, shouting and banging tables when Lim Kit Siang was delivering his speech, absolutely nothing was handed to them. Not even a reprimand from the same Deputy Speaker!

Kicked Out of Parliament

Just a short note to say that I've been kicked out of the parliament today for the stupidest of reasons by the Deputy Speaker, Datuk Wan Junaidi.

The flash reports in The Star and Malaysiakini is just a little inaccurate, saying that I've been kicked out for refusing to sit when seeking clarification from Pasir Salak who was speaking.

Sequence of events:

Pasir Salak talks about Ong Tee Keat having already answered his questions on PKFZ. He follows that up with the fact that Proton is of such importance and is a critical success for Malaysia.

I stood up during that time to seek clarification. I remained standing while waiting for a signal from Pasir Salak whether I can or cannot interject. No signals from him.

After a couple of minutes, the Deputy Speaker got upset for one reason or other with me standing (I was the only one) and asked me to sit.

I replied that I'm standing to seek clarification, (and that's the protocol in parliament). I said that if Pasir Salak refuses to let me interject, I will sit. But he hasn't made known his intentions, so I wait.

The Deputy Speaker then went ahead to scold me for standing, telling me that it is Pasir Salak's floor. I told the speaker, I'm fully aware it is his floor, hence I stand up politely (e.g., without banging tables or shouting) to wait for him to provide me the opportunity to ask my questions.

The Deputy Speaker then scolded me again, to say that when the Speaker ask me to sit, I must listen to the speaker and sit.

I responded that if the Speaker asks me to sit, I will obey and sit. But please do not scold me for standing up to seek clarification, because I am not in the wrong. I asked him to be fair to me.

The Deputy Speaker then sternly asked me to sit. I sat i.e., I obeyed his instructions contrary to what he explained to the press.

Then the Deputy Speaker went on to make some unfair, cryptic remarks about misbehaving MPs etc (details which I'll get from the Hansard tomorrow) and I got upset.

I stood up again to say that his remarks were extremely unfair and uncalled for as I was not in the wrong at all.

The Deputy Speaker then suspended me for the day. I can only assume that it was because he couldn't stand losing face on the argument.

I shall end here for now and keep the rude language to myself.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Parliamentary Questions 2009 (II)

The 10-day second parliamentary session has just commenced today. Here is my set of 15 oral and written questions which have been submitted for reply this session. Toll, economy, oil and gas, crime, education, public transport issues are all touched upon.

Soalan Jawapan Lisan

1.Tony Pua meminta Menteri Kerjaraya menyatakan

i.apakah bayaran yang dikenakan jikalau kerajaan mengambil-alih Lebuhraya Damansara-Puchong (LDP) mengikut terma ekspropriasi dalam perjanjian konsesi.

ii.wang pampasan sebanyak RM150 juta yang telah dibayar adalah untuk penangguhan peningkatan harga tol LDP sehingga tahun apa?

2.Tony Pua meminta Menteri Kewangan menyatakan anggaran terkini bagi pendapatan kerajaan daripada sektor petroluem dan gas untuk tahun 2009 dan 2010 setelah mengambil kira harga pasaran yang jauh lebih rendah daripada apa yang dijangkai.

3.Tony Pua meminta Menteri Perdagangan Dalam Negeri dan Hal Ehwal Pengguna menyatakan sebab syarikat-syarikat stesen minyak tidak dibenar bersaing secara terbuka dan dibenarkan menjual petrol dengan harga yang lebih rendah daripada harga yang ditentukan oleh kerajaan.

4.Tony Pua meminta Menteri Perdagangan Dalam Negeri dan Hal Ehwal Pengguna menyatakan subsidi yang diberikan, ataupun cukai yang dikutip daripada pengguna untuk setiap liter petrol yang dijual, termasuk jenis RON98, RON95 dan diesel.

5.Tony Pua meminta Perdana Menteri menyatakan sebab Lembaga Perlesenan Kenderaan Perdagangan (LPKP) telah dialihkan kepada Jabatan Perdana Menteri walaupun Kementerian Pengangkutan merupakan kementerian yang lebih wajar untuk menghasilkan satu sistem pengangkutan di Malaysia yang lebih menyeluruh dan holistik.

6.Tony Pua meminta Perdana Menteri menyatakan langkah-langkah yang akan diambil untuk memperbaiki ekonomi Malaysia mengikut kenyataan yang diberikan kepada wartawan in Singapura bahawa “The traditional way of imposing quotas, for example, and equity restrictions, seems to be hampering restrictions and growth.”

7.Tony Pua meminta Menteri Dalam Negeri menyatakan sama ada Menteri bersedia menghenti bantahan terhadap penggunakan perkataan “Allah” oleh agama lain seperti Sikh dan Katholik kerana perkataan tersebut telahpun digunakan beratusan tahun dan bukannya untuk mengelirukan penganut agama lain.

8.Tony Pua meminta Menteri Pendidikan menyatakan tahap pencapaian dasar mengajar bahasa ibunda – Cina dan Tamil, dalam sekolah kebangsaan berbanding dengan matlamat Pelan Induk Pembangunan Pendidikan 2006-2010.

9.Tony Pua meminta Menteri Pelancongan menyatakan tindakan tegas yang akan diambil terhadap pekerja, pengurus dan pengarah Syarikat Pempena dahulu dan kini yang telah didapati menyeleweng, dan menyebabkan kerugian sekurang-kurangnya RM34 juta dalam laporan audit yang telahpun disiapkan.

10.Tony Pua meminta Menteri Pengangkutan menyatakan kedudukan pembinaan sebuah lapangan terbang kos rendah yang baru di KLIA, adakah ia akan disiapkan pada tahun 2011 seperti yang diumumkan dan berapakah kos pembinaan, kapasiti dan kelengkapan yang akan disediakan.

Soalan Jawapan Bertulis

1.Tony Pua meminta Menteri Kerjaraya menyatakan wang pampasan yang perlu dibayar kepada setiap syarikat konsesi lebuhraya untuk mengekspropriasi konsesi mengikut syarat kontrak.

2.Tony Pua meminta Perdana Menteri menyatakan langkah-langkah yang akan diambil untuk menyusun semula sektor perkhidmatan awam yang telah menjadi terlalu kembung dengan 1.2 juta pekerja dan mengurangkan perbelanjaan emolumen sebanyak RM41 bilion pada tahun 2008 pada tahun-tahun yang akan datang.

3.Tony Pua meminta Menteri Pengangkutan menyatakan:

i.Kos pembinaan lapangan terbang kos rendah (LCCT) yang asal di KLIA dan kos operasi dan penyelenggaraan setiap tahun sehingga 2008

ii.Pendapatan setiap tahun sejak permulaan sehingga 2008

4.Tony Pua meminta Perdana Menteri menyatakan dengan terperinci senarai universiti-universiti di Amerika Syarikat, Australia dan United Kingdom ke mana pemegang biasiswa JPA dihantar mengikut jumlah penuntut di setiap universiti pada tahun 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007 dan 2008.

5.Tony Pua meminta Menteri Kewangan menyatakan di bawah dana jaminan RM25 bilion dalam pakej rangsangan ekonomi kedua,

i.jumlah pinjaman yang telah dipohon oleh syarikat Malaysia
ii.jumlah pinjaman yang telah diluluskan dan
iii.jumlah pinjaman yang telah dikeluarkan ataupun “disbursed”

Friday, June 12, 2009

Double "Sexy" Standards

This blogger has in the past voiced out opposition to any attempt to severely restrict dress codes in public places, regardless of whether they were issued by universities or municipal councils.

So when Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun issued a statement against the Kota Bahru Municipal council for putting up restrictive dress codes, and got challenged by PKR renegade MP, Zulkifli Noordin, I was contemplating issuing a statement or blog post in support of the Deputy Minister.

However, before I could do so, the All Women's Action Group (AWAM) has issued a statement slamming Chew Mei Fun for double standards. See here and here.
MCA Wanita chief Chew Mei Fun has been accused of double standard for criticising PAS’ policies on women’s clothing while turning a blind eye on similar policies by the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition.

“We’d like to remind Chew that regulations on women’s clothing have flourished under the BN government, of which the MCA is a coalition member,” said All Women’s Action Society (Awam) president Sofia Lim.

“There currently exist dress codes in all public universities, and libraries, similarly for women presenters and entertainers on television, and women in public service.”
So, now instead, I'd like to hear from the MCA Wanita Chief on whether she will issue any challenges against existing government regulations e.g., those for RTM or other TV stations for all the restrictive dress codes, beyond just those affecting the PAS government or it's just another political gimmick.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Hanky-Panky With Alam Flora Contracts?

The DAP views the expose by MBPJ councillor, A Thiruvenggadam, alleging that the state divides Alam Flora's waste management contracts to political parties - 40 percent to PKR, 30 percent to PAS and 30 percent to DAP as reported in Malaysiakini a few days ago with grave and serious concern.

I've issued a press statement with regards to the above with regards to the issue, but it wasn't picked up by Malaysiakini. PKR Vice-President R Sivarasa had a response to the issue (which is not the position of the DAP) which is published yesterday.

The Selangor State Executive Council must immediately investigate the veracity of these claims which poses serious credibility threats to the Pakatan Rakyat state government. We would like to call upon the executive councillor for infrastructure and public amenities, Datuk Dr Hassan Mohd Ali, who is in-charge of Alam Flora waste management services to confirm or deny the allegations.

The allegations, if true, will put us on a slippery slope to become a Government which condones on patronage and cronyism, no different from Barisan Nasional. If the allegations are however, found to be false or misguided, then Thiruvenggadam must apologise for his allegations.

The DAP strongly condemns any move which condones patronage politics where politicians get to decide the contractors get the jobs for public services contracts. We are firm in our belief that these contracts must be tendered to all qualified parties in an open, transparent and competitive manner. Only then will the rakyat receive the best quality services at the lowest possible prices.

The DAP-led Pakatan Rakyat Government in Penang has taken great pains to ensure that politicians are not put in a position to indulge in patronage politics which promotes corruption and nepotism. Even in the face of strong political opposition within the Pakatan Rakyat component parties to reserve plum positions such as MPSP or MPPP president's post, the Penang government has stuck to its guns to promote worthy civil servants instead. This serves to ensure that our policy of competency, accountability and transparency (CAT) is not only preached, but practised.

Hence, regardless of the allegations, the Selangor Government must dismiss any lingering suspicions over the manner in which sub-contracts by Alam Flora are “allocated” by announcing implementation of a competitive tender, even if it's limited to Class F contractors, to ensure that corruption and cronyism will not take root under Pakatan's administration, and the rakyat receives the best deal.

As such, we disagree with the position taken by Sivarasa today who said "...we see nothing wrong in different parties recommending names, individuals recommending names or the parties themselves recommending names. But the fact that all the three parties recommend names, shows the work will be spread out. "

Political parties have no position, business or role in putting forward names of preferred contractors for the purposes of municipal council contracts.

PKFZ: Ong Tee Keat Under Pressure?

I read the Malaysiakini report on today's press conference where the Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat announced the set up of some all new task force to probe and resolve the Port Klang Free Zone issues with more than a slight tinge of amusement.
Asked if the transport ministry could take action against past transport ministers involved in the project, Ong replied: “I’m not going to put the cart before the horse”.
I was hoping for at least - "If they are found guilty, action will definitely be taken against them."
Asked why did PKA wait until now to act, despite the audit report being ready by February, Ong told reporters to refer to the website in the future for an answer.
Whoa! The answer speaks for itself.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Forum: RM12.5 billion PKFZ Scandal - Will Heads Roll?

The cost has blasted out of proportions. DAP Parliamentary Leader, Lim Kit Siang exclaims that it is an “astronomical rip-off, a can of worms that has turned out to be a pit of crocodiles and alligators.”

In 2007, the Ministry of Finance extended a RM4.6 billion soft loan at 4% interest rate to PKA to salvage the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) project. Now, it appears that they will have to extend an additional RM3.56 billion loan to cover the cashflow deficit over the next 20 years! As projected by PriceWaterhouse Coopers (PwC), this restructured financing will cost an additional RM5 billion in interest costs over the next 42 years!

The question now is, will heads roll over Malaysia's record bailout scandal, especially with existing Barisan Nasional leaders implicated by the project? Should the government continue to support the project with up to RM8.56 billion in tax payers' monies or should it cut losses and make better use of the funds for the rakyat in other more productive means?

A public forum is being organised on the issue as follows:

Venue : KL Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, Jalan Maharajalela, KL (MAP)
Date : 10 June 2009
Time : 8.00 pm

Panelist :

  • Tan Sri Dr Ramon Navaratnam - Transparency International Malaysia President, prominent Malaysian economist, former Transport Ministry Secretary-General
  • Captain Yusof Ahmad - former pilot superintendent of the Klang Port Authority and pioneer general manager of West Port
  • Teh Chi Chang - Economic Advisor to DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng
  • Tony Pua - DAP Publicity Secretary, MP for PJ Utara
  • Lim Kit Siang - DAP Parliamentary Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur
All are welcome! Please invite friends.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

New America, One Malaysia

I did a very simple and short 5 minutes opener for the "New America, One Malaysia" forum organised by Asia Society on Wednesday evening. I wanted the "miracle" of Obama, a black man, first generation American, capturing the White House which represents the "New America" to one day be possible in Malaysia. Only then, can we truly believe that we have achieved "One Malaysia".

The other panel speakers of the evening were Khairy Jamaluddin, Premesh Chandran, Jacqueline Ann Surin, and our guest from the United Stattes, Jamie Metzl, the Senior Vice-President of the Asia Society. Videos courtesy of Malaysiakini.com.

The fairly interesting 26 minutes edited Q&A session is also available to Malaysiakini subscribers here.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

PKFZ: Forward, March! At All Costs?

Ong Tee Keat knee-jerk reaction to reject a cost-benefit analysis of shutting down the Port Klang Free Zone to save the Government a further RM8.6 billion unhelpful to “make sure that the interest of the people are fully protected and that this Government walks the talk.”

The Minister of Transport, Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat has on 28th May stated that the Government needs to “seriously act on the findings of the report to make sure that the interest of the people are fully protected and that this Government walks the talk.”

Unfortunately, the DAP's suggestion for the Government to consider and to do a cost-benefit analysis of shutting down the scandalous Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) project which will cost the Government a further injection of RM8.6 billion of funds to keep alive, has been rejected by the Minister in a knee-jerk reaction.

Based on the latest existing cashflow forecast provided by the Port Klang Authority (PKA) to PriceWaterhouse Coopers (PwC) for their evaluation, PKA will be suffering a cashflow shortfall for the next 33 years until 2042. By 2029, it will have cumulative cashflow deficit amounting to RM3.56 billion.

This shortfall will require additional and restructured financing, which will result in an additional RM5 billion spent on interest payments. Hence the total additional burden the Government will have to bear will amount to RM8.56 billion. This amount can only be repaid by the year 2051, and that's assuming that the forecast provided by PKA has not been overly optimistic!

Which investor in the world, whether private or government would even consider taking part in such an investment with 33 years of cash shortfall, and that's not even talking about accounting profit which may take even longer to realise?

Therefore it will be an act of ultimate irresponsibility for Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat to immediately rule out shutting down PKFZ, and to pursue the project at all cost even if it is at the expense of the people he claims to want to protect.

Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat today announced that “closing down PKFZ as suggested by opposition is clearly a knee jerk reaction which spells of political agenda and defeatist attitude.”

Shutting down PKFZ as it is envisioned today allows the Government to start with a fresh sheet of paper, after salvaging whatever remaining assets in PKA and PKFZ and minimising the losses and commitment of the Government.

Our suggestion to consider closing down PKFZ certainly spells of a “political agenda” to ensure the tax payers are not ripped off. On the other hand, Ong's knee jerk outright rejection however, smacks of wanton recklesses in handling public funds.

Ong claims that he is “not sitting still and playing rhetoric” but up until the report was publicly released recently, we have never seen any concrete steps or measures taken by the Ministry of Transport or PKA to salvage the situation since he has been appointed as the Minister after 14 months.

All we are still hearing is the rhetoric that “professional experts and entrepreneurs have been roped in” or “let the financial consultants and management experts work out a more viable solution”. Ong has not shown us a concrete plan which can possibly be more beneficial to the tax-payers than shutting down PKFZ, salvaging its assets and starting from a fresh sheet.

Muhyiddin Needs His Head Inspected

I wrote on my Facebook update on Monday that 'Muhyiddin needs his head inspected. He said domestic and violent spousal abuse allegations by Manohara "is more of a personal matter" and the government would not investigate the claims.'

It attracted a response of 30 over comments, but what caught my eye was one by a pro-UMNO blogger, Azeeza Abdullah who asked "do you personally think so.. I dare u proceed with press statement on this... would u?"

Well, I thought about it for 2 seconds and said "yeah, that's not a bad idea!". So I issued the press statement and it's up on Malaysiakini and TheNutGraph (who did a cute image of our Deputy Prime Minister).

The Indonesian and international press have been extensively covering the story of the teenaged US-Indonesian model, Manohara Odelia Pinot, who has returned to her family in Indonesia with tales of abuse, rape and torture at the hands of a Malaysian prince, following her dramatic escape with the help of the Singapore police.

Manohara has claimed that she was subjected to a "daily routine" of rape, abuse, torture and occasional drug injections that made her vomit blood. She has even alleged that some parts of her body were cut by a razor.

Her mother, Daisy Fajarina, also blamed the Malaysian and Indonesian governments for trying to cover up the alleged abuse. Daisy has also alleged that the Malaysian government ignored her pleas for access to her daughter and blocked her from entering the country.

All of the above are extremely serious allegations, regardless of whether they were made by a local or a foreigner. However, we are even more shocked by the remarks given by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin when AFP reported him as saying that the Malaysian government would not investigate the allegations.

"I think this is more of a personal matter. To date we have not been dragged into it, so we want to leave it as it is," he told reporters in Kuala Lumpur.

(Here's a translated Indonesian version from Detik:

Deputi Perdana Menteri Malaysia Muhyiddin Yassin mengatakan, pemerintah tidak akan menyelidiki klaim Manohara tersebut. Demikian seperti dilansir kantor berita AFP, Senin (1/6/2009).

"Saya pikir ini lebih merupakan masalah pribadi. Sampai saat ini kami belum terbawa ke dalamnya, jadi kami ingin membiarkannya seperti itu," katanya kepada wartawan di Kuala Lumpur.)

The Minister of Women, Family and Community Development Senator Datuk Shahrizat Abdul Jalil or her deputy, Senator Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun, must immediately reprimand the deputy prime minister for such an irresponsible and callous statement on the issue of domestic violence.

While the truth of the matter has yet to be ascertained, the allegations of serious domestic violence must be investigated or Malaysia will be regarded as an international pariah for treating domestic violence as "a personal matter".

Shahrizat must inform Muhyiddin that domestic violence is a criminal offence under the Domestic Violence Act 521 (1994). Domestic violence includes causing physical injury to the victim by such an act that is known, or ought to have been known, would result in physical injury.

In addition, compelling the survivor by force or threat to engage in any conduct or act, sexual or otherwise, from which the survivor has a right to abstain is also criminal under Malaysian laws. Those found guilty of domestic violence are to be sentenced in accordance with our Penal Code.

To redeem our international reputation, Muhyiddin must immediately apologise and withdraw the remarks he has made. He must instead ensure that a thorough and independent investigation into the allegations is conducted to ensure that Malaysia's international image does not suffer from this ugly episode.

While no police reports have yet been made on the matter, that is not an impediment for the Malaysian police to commence investigations as the allegations have appeared around the world. The police could also file their own police reports on the matter, as they have done in many recent police investigations.

In addition, Shahrizat must take this critical opportunity to educate Barisan Nasional ministers on issues of domestic violence and crime against women to ensure that such contemptible statements tarnishing Malaysia's reputation are never ever issued again, especially by the country's top leaders.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

The Star: Fair Coverage on PKFZ?

I've in recent months been moaning a bit about the coverage and the slant that has been taken by The Star. I know many tell me to just forget about reading the paper and that it's irrelevant. However, my "job" doesn't allow me to do that for I need to find out what 'the other side' has been saying, and there's no better way than to read the papers they own. What's more, I'm supposed to be the national publicity secretary of the party ;-)

Anyway, most of you out there would have read about the mother of all scandals, or what Lim Kit Siang has termed as "a pit of crocodiles" as opposed to just a "can of worms". RM12.5 billion bailout is required by Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ), and it's not surprising that the DAP has been at the forefront (since 2006) in raising this issue, while Barisan Nasional continued to keep a lid on it.

But with RM12.5 billion, it was really a pit of crocodiles which couldn't be contained and the mainstream and online media had a field day reporting the scandal.

But interestingly enough, I could barely find any reported comments by Lim Kit Siang, Charles Santiago or myself who have all spoken fairly extensively on the issue via multiple press conferences in The Star. In fact, if you only read The Star, you would have had the impression that DAP has had nothing but good things to say about the publication of the report!

On 29th May, the day after the PKFZ report was released, Kit Siang was quoted as follows:
DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang welcomed the public release of the report and commended Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat for their efforts in publishing it. However, he had yet to read the full report on the PKFZ issue, he said yesterday afternoon.
If you have read his blog posts recently, Kit Siang has been relentless in pursuing full accountability for the project. Of course, he has been quoted extensively in all online and Chinese media. Even the NST had more coverage.  But absolutely nothing else in The Star.

Then we have our MP for Klang, Charles Santiago who had issued a statement entitled "PKFZ: Freeze the Accounts and Suspend those Involved" on 29th as well. It covered 7 major points of criticisms and questions filling probably 2 A4 pages. But guess how it was covered in The Star? They only took the very very first line of the statement in their report "Groups hail move by government to release PKFZ findings in entirety":
Selangor DAP vice-chairman Charles Santiago also welcomed the release of the report and its submission to the MACC.
That's bloody it! If that's not an attempt to mislead and give the wrong impression of what Charles delivered in his statement, I'm not sure what is.

We know that PKFZ is now Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat's baby. He's now the president of MCA which owns The Star. We know that this project isn't his baby and he wasn't involved in the shenanigans of the earlier years.

But we certainly have a right to demand accountability such that all those who were involved in the shenanigans be brought to book, charged in court and sent to jail if proven guilty, even if they were past presidents of his party or if it involves his colleagues in Barisan Nasional.

But it appears that the Transport Minister so fears his name tainted that The Star needs to ensure that opposition voices are not heard on this issue. For that matter, the DAP leaders are painted as if we unequivocally support Ong Tee Keat in this entire excercise. 

That, unfortunately, is such a disappointment, coming from a Minister who claims intent to pursue the interest of the rakyat to the very end, if if it were to cost him politically.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Forum: New America, One Malaysia

“New America, One Malaysia” Forum
A Prelude to the 2009 Asia 21 Young Leaders Summit

The Asia 21 Young Leaders Summit is an annual active network, since 2006, for some 200 dynamic emerging leaders from the Asia-Pacific and the US, to build relationships and engage in interdisciplinary dialogue and cultural exchange. The summit, is also the highlight of Asia Society’s Asia 21 Young Leaders Initiative, to gather exceptional young leaders of tomorrow from every country in the Asia-Pacific and US region and from various disciplines, and to provide a platform for these young leaders to network across geographic boundaries, develop collaborative approaches to shared challenges, and educating each other in the highest ideals of values-based leadership.

As a prelude to this year’s Asia 21 Young Leaders Summit 2009, which is hosted by Malaysia, a forum featuring outstanding Malaysian young leaders and Jamie Metzl, the Executive Vice President of Asia Society, will be held as follows:

“New America, One Malaysia:Young Leaders And The Global Agenda for Change”
Date : 3 Jun 2009 (Wed)
Time : 8pm
Venue : Bintang 1 & 2 Conference Rooms,
Relish Floor, JW Mariott Hotel,
183 Jalan Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur, Kuala Lumpur 55100
  • Jamie Metzl, Executive Vice- President, Asia Society
  • Khairy Jamaluddin, Member of Parliament for Rembau
  • Tony Pua, Member of Parliament for Petaling Jaya Utara
  • Premesh Chandran, Founder & CEO, Malaysiakini
  • Jacqueline Ann Surin, Co-Founder & Editor, The NutGraph
  • Suryani Senja Alias, Senior Vice-President, Khazanah Nasional
All are welcome and attendance is free.

About Jamie Metzl

The feature of the forum is Jamie Metzl, the Executive Vice President of Asia Society. During his government service in the White House, the Department of State and the U.S. Senate, Dr. Metzl has held important appointments including Director for Multilateral and Humanitarian Affairs on the National Security Council and Deputy Staff Director and Senior Counselor of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
At the White House, he coordinated U.S. government international public information campaigns for Iraq, Kosovo, and other crises. A Khmer speaker, he was a Human Rights Officer for the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) from 1991 to 1993, where he helped establish a nation-wide human rights investigation and monitoring unit for Cambodia.

He holds a Ph.D. in Southeast Asian history from Oxford University, a juris doctorate from Harvard Law School, and is a magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Brown University. Dr. Metzl has completed five ironman triathlons and 20 marathons.

About Asia Society

Asia Society is the leading global and pan-Asian organization working to strengthen relationships and promote understanding among the people, leaders, and institutions of the United States and Asia. We seek to increase knowledge and enhance dialogue, encourage creative expression, and generate new ideas across the fields of policy, business, education, arts, and culture.

Asia Society was founded in 1956 by John D. Rockefeller 3rd. Initially established to promote greater knowledge of Asia in the U.S., the Society today is a global institution.Asia Society is a nonpartisan, nonprofit educational institution with offices in Hong Kong, Houston, Seoul, Los Angeles, Manila, Melbourne, Mumbai, New York, San Francisco, Shanghai, and Washington, DC. As economies and cultures have become more interconnected, the Society's programs have expanded to address Asian American issues, the effects of globalization, and pressing concerns in Asia including human rights, the status of women, and environmental and global health issues such as HIV/AIDS.

"Kaum Pendatang" Again...

What "1Malaysia"?

UMNO mouthpiece Utusan Malaysia's weekend edition, Mingguan Malaysia just carried another editorial which was entitled "Melayu Dikhianati" or "Malays Betrayed".
Persoalannya, kini apakah pengorbanan Melayu dikhianati oleh kaum lain?
Who betrayed them? Apparently it's the "kaum pendatang" (again) who are ungrateful towards all the "kemurahan hati orang Melayu".

They even took an alleged quote from Tun Sambanthan from 1965 (source unknown):
Di manakah anda boleh mendapat layanan politik yang baik untuk kaum pendatang? Di manakah dalam sejarah dunia? Saya bertanya kepada anda. Ini adalah fakta. Siapakah anda untuk menjaga keselamatan kami? ... Persoalannya, kini apakah pengorbanan Melayu dikhianati oleh kaum lain?
The article even went to the extent of comparing ourselves with Burma, on the fact that Indians were chased out of the country!
“Di Burma, seperti yang kita semua sedia maklum, kaum India telah diusir keluar, di Ceylon mereka tidak diberikan taraf warganegara seperti juga di Burma. Saya tahu dan anda juga tahu. Apa yang sedang berlaku di Malaya?
So, Najib, this is your 1Malaysia you have been preaching about? That all minority races are still "kaum pendatang" that should be treated with continued discrimination and disdain but remain eternally grateful to UMNO for all it has done?

Tan Hoon Cheng, a reporter was detained under ISA for merely reporting the "kaum pendatang" comments by a racist UMNO leader in Penang. Now, the editors of Utusan Malaysia are openly preaching "kaum pendatang", will we see equal treatment here?

Najib, you preach your "1Malaysia" concept to the minorities in this country very hard to win back their hearts and sympathies. But behind our backs, via UMNO's very own Utusan Malaysia, you continue to preach hatred, division and discrimination. Your vision and implementation of "1Malaysia" is absolutely disgraceful!