Monday, August 30, 2010

Award of Contracts to Umno-Owned Companies: Conflict of Interest?

Pakatan seeks probe on Umno-corporate nexus
By Boo Su-Lyn August 29, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 29 — Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders are demanding a probe into Umno-linked companies being awarded lucrative government contracts, but conceded to the complexities in such an exercise and the difficulty in proving that corruption was involved
The links between Umno and certain conglomerates were revealed further in a High Court hearing last week involving the past shareholders of Realmild Sdn Bhd, the shadowy company that took over media giant The New Straits Times Press (Malaysia) Bhd in 1993, and Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad (MRCB).

“There has to be a comprehensive investigation because for the last 30 years, there has been such a far-ranging nexus of Umno companies and the role they play not only in corporate but also government-linked company (GLC) transactions,” DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang told The Malaysian Insider.

“There is no proper accountability in the whole process,” said Lim, adding that this was the reason why Malaysia’s integrity rating took a nosedive in the past three decades.

The Ipoh Timur MP pointed out that it was difficult to identify the boundaries involving the government, the political party, and the individual in companies owned by Barisan Nasional (BN) parties.

DAP national publicity secretary Tony Pua said that there was a clear conflict of interest when the government awards contracts to Umno-linked companies.

“Whatever the government awards benefits companies [owned] by Umno and other ruling coalition parties,” said Pua.

Realmild, originally a RM2 company, was the majority shareholder of MRCB, which is now developing the KL Sentral commercial and transport hub in Brickfields.

The Petaling Jaya Utara MP added that the probe should focus on identifying the stakes in the Umno-linked companies.

“The National Audit Department should run a check on all companies where Umno holds a stake, direct or indirect, and verify them against contracts awarded by the government,” he said, adding that this must apply to all ruling parties including PR if they should capture Putrajaya.

Pua, however, admitted that the probe would be a “complicated” exercise as he claimed Umno hides their holdings under various companies.

“Trying to unravel the entire network of Umno’s ownership in many companies would be a major exercise,” he said, pointing out that the complexity was shown by the court dispute where some shares that were meant to be proxy shares were retained as personal shares.


Pua said that laws should be put in place to ban or restrict political party involvement or ownership in business interests as mere guidelines were unlikely to prevent abuses.

“In a case where the government is awarding contracts to an Umno company, it becomes complicated. The minister may step away from (making) the decision, but civil servants are under pressure to award the contract as they are under the purview of the minister,” he said.

Pua also noted that although companies participating in government tenders could be forced to disclose political party ownership, most Umno-linked companies avoided such disclosures as their shares were usually held in proxy.

For the full article, click here.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

DAP Strengthens Relations with Malay-Muslims; Umno Edgy

Mosque visits reflect deeper PAS-DAP ties, makes Umno edgy
By Neville Spykerman August 29, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 28 — The furore over Lim Guan Eng’s name being mentioned in Friday sermons and now the visit of a DAP MP to a surau is a reflection of deeper PAS-DAP ties that has made Umno uncomfortable ahead of the next general elections, say analysts and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) politicians.

PAS has stoutly defended both incidents and point out that only Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia and state news agency Bernama are championing the issues but not by others on the ground.

“Umno is afraid of deeper PAS-DAP ties so the only way is to wreck it where possible,” Harakahdaily website editor Zulkifli Sulong told The Malaysian Insider.

He pointed out that PAS leaders see nothing wrong with the twin issues, adding even PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat has backed the outreach to non-Muslims.

“There is nothing wrong except in the eyes of Umno and Utusan,” said the editor of the PAS news portal.

Klang MP Charles Santiago agreed with Zulkifli’s assessment of the issue that began at the onset of the Ramadan fasting month.

“The uproar in the Umno-owned press are calculated moves to drive a wedge between DAP, PAS and the Malay community,” Santiago said..

The DAP MP described the issue as “high level bigotry” and said Umno was concern by the party’s growing acceptance by PAS and the Malay community.

His sentiments were echoed by Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua who pointed out that DAP was working well not only with PAS but PKR.

He added Umno was wary because DAP has been breaking down the perception it was a Chinese chauvinist party concern with only Chinese or Indian issues.

“Umno is clearly worried,” said Pua.

For the full article, click here.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


This has to be a classic - the MACC lawyer, Abdul Razak Musa attempting self-strangulation. Check out the full 805MB video on the Attorney-General's website.

Monday, August 23, 2010

MACC Attacks Pornthip

MACC removes ‘offensive’ blog post attacking Dr Pornthip
By Boo Su-Lyn August 23, 2010

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 23 — The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) was forced today to remove from its official blog an offensive posting describing Thai forensic expert Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand as a fortune teller, and which the DAP said was prejudicial to the Teoh Beng Hock inquest.

The blog at had posted an article entitled “Dr Porntip Ahli Nujum?” (Dr Porntip a Fortune-Teller), complete with an altered picture of Dr Pornthip as a gypsy fortune teller gazing into a crystal ball.

The MACC’s “Dr Pornthip a Fortune-Teller?” blog post, which was taken from an anonymous blog at, accused Dr Pornthip of being hired by the Selangor government to testify just to “inflame the rakyat’s anger”.

“The article is prejudicial to the on-going inquest and is a clear attempt to disclaim any responsibility and prevent the discovery of the truth behind Teoh Beng Hock’s death at MACC’s premises,” DAP national publicity secretary Tony Pua told The Malaysian Insider today.

“The use of an anonymous post to make baseless allegations against the credibility of Dr Pornthip is an offensive tactic by MACC to cover up its own mess,” he added.

The national anti-graft body’s official blog at was launched in May this year to fight negative public perception since the mysterious death of Teoh, a DAP political aide, at MACC’s Selangor headquarters in Shah Alam last July.

MACC deputy chief commissioner (Prevention) Datuk Hajah Sutinah Sutan had cited the abundance of “gossip and inaccurate information” about the agency as the reason for launching their blog, Facebook page, and Twitter micro-blogging account this year.

The anti-graft body took down the “Dr Porntip Ahli Nujum?” post shortly after The Malaysian Insider requested an explanation on why they posted articles from anonymous blogs.

MACC’s corporate communications director however could not be reached for comment.

Pua, also the Petaling Jaya Utara MP, said that MACC’s blog post showed the agency’s insincerity in its letter of regret to the Teoh family, noting that it was nothing but “crocodile tears” on their part.

On the anniversary of Teoh’s death, MACC chief commissioner Datuk Seri Abu Kassim Mohamed had issued a condolence statement to the Teoh family written in Chinese, pledging not to “cover up” the actions of anyone who may have been involved in causing the DAP political aide’s death.

“MACC has neither demonstrated any remorse or regret in its deeds,” said Pua, adding that the agency seemed to be interested in discrediting witnesses at the inquest instead of determining the truth behind Teoh’s death which has caused a public uproar.

Click here for the full article, and here for a follow up article by The Malaysian Insider.

More Racist Investigation Committees Required?

Tan Sri Muhyiddin has set a ridiculous precedent of setting up a high-level taskforce to investigate allegations of racist remarks by a school principal and he will now have no choice but to set up a committee to investigate every such remarks.

The Education Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has belatedly announced the set up of a taskforce specifically to investigate the allegations regarding highly racist remarks made by the principal of SMK SMK Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, Siti Inshah Mansor, after remaining silent for 1 whole week since the incident.

The setting up of the investigation taskforce is clearly an afterthought by the Minister after the attempt by the ministry's Director-General Tan Sri Alimuddin Mohd Dom to waive away the issue by claiming that the issue has been “resolved” as it was due to a “misunderstanding” backfired when the public voiced their outrage at the cover up by the Ministry of Education.

Unfortunately, the public does not have any confidence at all that the taskforce will be able to produce a satisfactory outcome as the Minister himself has set the tone for the taskforce.

1.Despite this being a simple issue of determining if such words were spoken, especially with tens of witnesses as reflected by the police reports filed against Siti Inshah, Tan Sri Muhyiddin chose to “complicate” matters by emphasising on a “full and thorough investigation which my cross several agencies”. While it is certainly fair for the principal to receive a “full and thorough investigation”, the emphasis by the Minister that it'll involve several agencies is a clear attempt to unnecessarily prolong the investigation despite the obvious fact that Siti Inshah has apologised to the students for the offence.

2.Unlike his Deputy Minister, Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong, who had at the very least tweeted publicly that it was “not appropriate for principal to pass those remarks, shd be sensitive living in a multiracial society”, Tan Sri Muhyiddin has still refused to condemn such remarks, if truly uttered.

The question is, why is he, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister, so reluctant to condemn such remarks and warn others in the Education Ministry from ever doing the same or face the harshest of consequences? His action, or in this case, inaction, has further damaged the “1Malaysia” concept proposed by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak to promote national unity.

3.What is perhaps most telling in Tan Sri Muhyiddin's setting up of this investigation taskforce is fact that there was no deadline set for the taskforce to present its findings and recommendations when a week would have been more than sufficient time to investigate and determine the outcome.

The above shows that the Deputy Prime Minister is not serious about getting to the bottom of this issue quickly and in such a way to demonstrate that the Ministry of Education will not tolerate any such serious offences by anyone under its payroll. The setting up of the taskforce is just meant to temporarily placate the furious parents and upset Malaysians while the Ministry buys time for itself to “resolve” the issue the second time.

However, the precedent of setting up such a taskforce of teachers or headmasters uttering racist remarks may just create a tidal wave of such taskforce for now there is a new case of a principal and teacher committing the same offence in a school in Sg Petani, Kedah. Will the Education Minister announce another taskforce to investigate these claims? Will more taskforces be set up as more such offences gets reported?

We call upon the Tan Sri Muhyiddin to stop pussyfooting over the issue and demonstrate his commitment to “1Malaysia” by condemning outright such remarks and giving a warning to all teachers and principals that those found guilty of doing so will be punished most severely including being sacked from the profession. If Tan Sri Muhyiddin still refuses to take quick action on the above, then it is imperative for the Prime Minister himself to take all necessary steps to hold together his fragile “1Malaysia” brainchild, if the concept still means anything to him.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Racist Headmaster, Muhyiddin Silent

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is again proving to fail “1Malaysia” with inept handling of the racist remarks by the principal of SMK Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra

Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin punctured the “1Malaysia” euphoria when he went against the Government's official definition of the concept which called for “a nation where, it is hoped, every Malaysian perceives himself or herself as Malaysian first, and by race, religion, geographical region or socio-economic background second” earlier in March this year.

The Deputy Prime Minister had chosen to reject the goal of 1Malaysia, by insisting that he is “Malay first” and subsequently ridiculing the concept of “Malaysian first” by saying “How can I say I'm Malaysian first and Malay second? All the Malays will shun me... and it's not proper.”

Now, when the principal of SMK Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, Siti Inshah Mansor is alleged to have uttered completely racist statements during school assembly to young Malaysian students a week ago on the 12 August 2010, Tan Sri Muhyiddin who is also the Minister of Education has chosen to remain elegantly silent on the matter of utmost national importance.

During the National Day celebration launch, she was alleged to have said “Pelajar Cina tidak diperlukan di sini dan boleh pulang ke China atau Sekolah Foon Yew. Kepada pelajar India, rantai keagamaan yang dipakai di leher dan tangan membuatkan mereka kelihatan seperti anjing kerana hanya anjing diikat sebegitu”, seriously insulting all Malaysian Chinese and Indians.

Such a statement must be condemned immediately and without reservation for it tantamounts to an attempt to divide Malaysians, and opposes the “1Malaysia” ideals. By choosing to remain silent, Tan Sri Muhyiddin has again demonstrated his reluctance in endorsing the 1Malaysia concept beyond just paying it lip service.

The “1Malaysia” concept is further debased when Tan Sri Muhyiddin's Director-General for Education told the press yesterday that “there is no change, the issue was only a misunderstanding and the problem has been solved between the principal and students,” indicating also that the principal will not even be transferred as a punishment.

Malaysians fail to see how the uttering of such a crude and completely insensitive statement could be caused by any “misunderstanding” and see the action by the Ministry of Education as a complete cover up, and an attempt sweep the matter under the carpet.

Deputy Minister of Education, Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong explained in his tweet last night that “the principal is on leave now, she has to face the probe by police. She did apologise to students.”

Datuk Dr Wee's explanation invited a repartee from UMNO Youth Chief, Khairy Jamaluddin who tweeted “We cannot drag our feet or prevaricate on things like this. Blatant racism. By a school principal no less. And if proven that she said those things (which I'm told is a certainty) she must be sacked & charged appropriately. She shouldn't be allowed back pending the result of the investigation, which shouldn't have to take long.” Khairy is absolutely right in this case, therefore stern and immediate action must be taken to demonstrate that the Government has no room and tolerates no racism, especially in our schools.

Tan Sri Muhyiddin must immediately reprimand the Director-General for Education for claiming that “the problem has been resolved”, especially since it is now known that the principal has apologised to the students. He must also demonstrate his commitment to “1Malaysia” by issuing a public condemnation of the principal's actions and mete out the appropriate punishment to her. Otherwise, inaction by the Deputy Prime Minister will show without doubt, his own prejudice against “1Malaysia”.

Bonus for Old Folks: Welfare or Bribe?

There's a difference: Tony Pua on DAP's Putrajaya promise

PETALING JAYA, Aug 16: Petaling Jaya Utara member of parliament Tony Pua has defended DAP’s three people-friendly plans it promised would be implemented if voted into power the next general election, saying they are not election bribery.

He was responding to a suggestion by UMNO Youth leader Khairy Jamaluddin that the announcement by DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng last week showed the party was also committing election bribery, an accusation it made against UMNO president Najib Razak when he made by-election promises during the recent Sibu election.

“Basically, we'll give you a thousand bucks if you vote for us. You guys the pot or the kettle? This is a promise of a specific benefit to a specific group if you vote a certain way. Same thing,” Khairy had said.

Lim last week had announced three major policy initiatives if Pakatan Rakyat manages to capture Federal government, among them are the abolishment of the ‘saman ekor’ and practice of blacklisting owners of vehicles, annual allowance of RM1,000 for the elderly and free wi-fi connection throughout Malaysia.

In a Twitter posting, Pua took pains to show the difference between DAP's announcement and Najib's infamous speech in Sibu, where he said he would release RM5 million if BN won.

“Big difference - Najib's deal – RM 5 million only if BN wins in Sibu even though BN already both state and federal government. That's abuse and enticement.

“Offering bribes is when BN is already (the) government, but promises of development only if a candidate wins in by-election,” said Pua, stressing that giving welfare benefit was the duty of the government.

“By the way, the Senior Malaysian Bonus policy has been in our alternative budget policy since 2007. Not something 'new'," Pua added.

Guan Eng had said the initiatives were not a form of vote-buying as there was no election in sight.

“What vote-buying? We are not even having an election now. Why is it wrong to give money to the people? To the BN, giving money to themselves is not wrong but giving money to the people is,” said the Penang Chief Minister.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


Much have been said, but here are the photos which speak for themselves.

M16 5.56mm live bullet

Threats from a coward

Posted in a brown envelope to my office

Postmarked from Tangkak, Johor

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Hadi v Pua?

Utusan Malaysia had a field day claiming that Datuk Seri Hadi Awang, PAS President specifically opposed my position with regards to the "controversial" suggestion at the Selangor state budget dialogue to remove discounts for luxury properties for bumiputeras.

UMNO's Muhyiddin and MCA leaders joined in the fun by claiming that Pakatan is inherently unstable due to policy or opinion differences. MCA's criticism's quite funny because, they don't have any opinion on any issues deemed controversial and will just submit to UMNO's views.

But before, we get into the act of throwing daggers at one another, here's a relook at what exactly Datuk Seri Hadi Awang said, as reported by HarakahDaily. In fact, if you don't trust the reporting by Harakah, then view the interview video for yourself here.

Hadi: Race-based policies to help poor un-Islamic

KUALA TERENGGANU, Aug 9: PAS president Tuan Guru Abdul Hadi Awang has reiterated his stance that any policy to help the poor should not be race-based, and similarly the issue of giving discount for properties should be looked at in the same perspective.

Commenting on a proposal by Petaling Jaya Utara member of parliament Tony Pua to abolish Bumiputera discount for luxury residential properties above RM500,000, Hadi said although the suggestion was yet to be discussed, it was agreed that the focus should be on helping the poor regardless of race and address the mismanagement of the economy.

“We have yet to discuss anything on it in Pakatan Rakyat. We need to discuss it in the top leaderships council,” Hadi told reporters at a launching event of his latest book in Terengganu.

On whether he agreed that the current practice of giving discount to Bumiputeras even for high-end residential and commercial properties should be abolished, Hadi stressed that discounts for purchase of properties should be extended to all Malaysians and not just Malays.

“What’s happening today is that it did not reach the target group, it only benefited UMNO leaders,” he said.

'Not at the cost of others'

Saying it was understandable that most of the lower-income group were found among the Bumiputera who formed the majority in the country, Hadi said it helping them should not be at the cost of other communities.

“We need to consider the majority of the people who is plagued by poverty.

"At the same time, we (Muslims) must help other races which are also poor and in need of defence,” he added, saying it was wrong for Muslims to oppress other races while protecting the interest of the Malays only.

He further pointed out that the root of the problem could be found in Barisan Nasional's mismanagement of the economic system.

“I cannot understand the principles and the economic system adopted by the Barisan Nasional.

"We have a lot of subsidies, but there are too many mismanagement and leakages – hence, the problems are not subsidies but poor management."

Hadi also said Pua's suggestion may have stemmed out of unhappiness such mismanagement.

“Maybe he is not pleased with the management (of Bumi’s discount) but we need to look into implementation," he said.

Earlier, Hadi's statement appeared to have been taken out of context, with UMNO mouthpiece Utusan Malaysia reporting that he supported the practice of giving discounts for Bumiputeras to purchase high-end properties.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

DAP Damansara Golf Tournament 2010

This will be the 3rd year which we are running our golf tournament, for the purpose of raising funds to help run my Petaling Jaya Utara constituency's service centre.

I have 3-4 staff in the office at the moment to help with constituency, research and parliamentary work, plus operational expenses - rental, utilities etc., it costs our office approximately RM12,000 per month to maintain.

The Selangor state government subsidises RM50,000 per annum of an MP's office expenses, but that'll still leave us with about RM100,000 short, which are funded by public donations, as well as from my own allowance.

We hope to raise approximately RM25,000 from this event, and we look forward to your generous support!

The details are as follows:
Date: 2 Sep 2010 (Thu)
Time: 7.30 am (shot gun)
Venue: Kelab Golf Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah (KGSAAS)
Entry fee: RM350 per pax.

Closing date: 25th Aug or up to 120 participants (1st come 1st served).
There will be plenty of prizes for golfing and lucky draw winners, as well as items for auction. While the list of prizes have not been finalised, the top prizes will include air tickets to destinations overseas ;-)

Plus, if you are lucky (or unlucky) enough, we could be on the same flight ;-)

Please contact Billy Wong at our service centre hotline: 016-2208867 if you are interested to play or to sponsor the event. Or you can email billywss(at)gmail(dot)com.

Friday, August 06, 2010

Umno Incapable of Change

Ever since I had first suggested certain reforms to the Selangor state economic policies to create a more business-friendly environment to attract more investors as well as to become more equitable to the poor and less fortunate in the state, I've come under daily attacks by Umno leaders as well as their mouthpiece, Utusan Malaysia.

The attacks have culminated in all 22 Umno Youth divisions in Selangor filing police reports against me yesterday, charging that my suggestion was "dangerous, sensitive and provocative while inciting hatred and dissatisfaction against government policies" and of course, "threatening public order and peace".

The suggestion, one of many proposed, which triggered the uproar among the Umno leaders was to abolish bumiputera discounts for luxury property purchase, and that savings from such a move be better utilised for corporate social responsibility programmes for the poor.

The Prime Minister himself has proposed in the New Economic Model (NEM) as well as the 10th Malaysia Plan (10MP) that affirmative action programmes will be reformed to be "market-friendly and merit-based" and will be focused on the "bottom 40% lower income earners".

I would have thought that my proposal was completely in line with both the NEM and 10MP proposed by the Government. Why should the Government impose a policy to continue to subsidise those who can already afford a property costing millions of ringgit?

The police report by Umno Youth proves beyond reasonable doubt that Umno and its youth wing, despite the loud reform rhetoric by the wings' leaders to be inclusive, progressive and focused on the poor, the Party is only interested protecting the interests of those who have benefited lucratively from their connections to Umno.

The Umno President as well as the Umno Youth Chief have been doing the song and dance on how their party's capable of change and reform, like their slogan in the Hulu Selangor by-elections "BN Mampu Berubah". However these are proving to be empty rhetoric, for its now demonstrated clearly that Umno leaders are only interested in upholding 'ketuanan Melayu', even if it is at the expense of public policy, principles of social and distributive justice as well, as well as the greater needs of the poorer bumiputeras.

The police report by Umno Youth is completely frivilous and childish, and the party that is really "dangerous and provocative" is Umno itself.

I will not be threatened by the report for making positive suggestions to improve both the economy of the state as well as the welfare of the poor. I strongly believe that the majority of the population, including the majority of bumiputera community will understand and support the proposals to promote greater equity for bumiputera and Malaysians.

Thursday, August 05, 2010

Muhyiddin Instrumental To 1Malaysia's Failure

It was certainly ironical when the Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin agreed with former Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir that Malaysians have yet to understand the 1Malaysia concept and argued that the public needed more time to fully understand 1Malaysia. It couldn't have been more apt when the Deputy Prime Minister admitted that “certain groups are “purposely sabotaging the 1Malaysia concept”.

There is probably at present, no bigger saboteur of the 1Malaysia concept than Tan Sri Muhyiddin himself for he had sought to expound a completely different interpretation of 1Malaysia compared to the official definition provided by the Government in the official documents.

While the Government Transformation Programme approved by the Cabinet and published in December last year defined the goal of 1Malaysia as “a nation where, it is hoped, every Malaysian perceives himself or herself as Malaysian first, and by race, religion, geographical region or socio-economic background second”. It was a definition which was clear and concise.

However, despite the above, the Deputy Prime Minister had chosen to reject the goal of 1Malaysia, by by insisting that he is “Malay first” and subsequently ridiculing the concept of “Malaysian first” by saying “How can I say I'm Malaysian first and Malay second? All the Malays will shun me... and it's not proper.”

The impact of Tan Sri Muhyiddin's contempt for the Malaysian first concept as defined by the Government sounded the death knell for a unifying “1Malaysia” and is best epitomised by the complete refusal til today for the President of Gerakan, Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon, who is also the Minister in-charge of the Government Transformation Programme, as well as the President of MCA, Datuk Seri Chua Soi Lek to declare themselves “Malaysian first”.

It is hence completely unsurprising that Malaysians fail to understand the concept of 1Malaysia, and Tun Dr Mahathir had lamented that the concept is interpreted differently by different people.

The Deputy Prime Minister's strident support for “ketuanan Melayu” as being a pillar for 1Malaysia and the complicit and complete acquiesce of Barisan Nasional component parties, MCA, MIC and Gerakan to UMNO's demands ensures that there will be no chance of a “Malaysian first” goal of being achieved.

For example, despite an initial attempt by MCA to defend the rights of Christians to use the term “Allah” in their prayers, the MCA President, Datuk Seri Chua Soi Lek wasted no time backing down from its initial position once MCA received a rebuke and warning from the Deputy Prime Minister. Instead of fighting for an inclusive “1Malaysia” which took into consideration the rights and interests of all Malaysians, Datuk Seri Chua changed the party's position, claiming that they were “merely echoing the wishes of non-governmental organisation Christian Federation of Malaysia”. This is to say that MCA themselves have no opinions or position about the issue.

Hence the Tan Sri Muhyiddin has no one else to blame but himself for disparaging the initially noble concept of “1Malaysia” by failing to take into consideration the rights and interest of all Malaysians. The non-UMNO Barisan Nasional component parties on the other hand, perpetuate the failure by refusing to take a position in the interest of all Malaysians, by refusing to challenge Umno, even if the latter is acting against the official government policy or the interest of all Malaysians at large.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Do We Need "Freedom of Information"?

A public forum on freedom of information act
Date: 12/8/2010 (Thursday)
Time: 8.00pm
Venue: KL Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
Jalan Maharajalela, KL
  • Ms Gayathry Venkiteswaran, Executive Director–Centre of Independent Journalism (CIJ)
  • Mr. Tony Pua, Member of Parliament-PJ Utara
  • Mr. Andrew Khoo, Chairman- Human Rights Council, Bar Council Malaysia
  • Ms Ngeow Chow Ying, Vice-Chair of KLSCAH-CRC, practicing lawyer
Jointly organised by:
  • The Civil Rights Committee- KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall
  • The Centre for Independent Journalism
Supported by:
  • A 20 Year Plan of Action (A20YrPoA)
  • The Coalition for Good Governance (CGG)
For further information, please contact:
  • Ms Fanny Chew, Huazong 20YrPoA Secretariat, 03 - 2273 4008

Will Kong Cho Ha be Charged if Government Loses RM1.4 billion?

Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha must be held ministerially accountable for decreeing payments to be made to PKFZ bondholders.

Over the past week, we saw the former president of MCA and former Transport Minister charged in court for allegedly committing fraud and misleading the Cabinet over the valuation of the land purchased for the purposes of building the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ). It is clear that in this case, the Cabinet will be feigning ignorance and innocence, and claiming that Tun Ling Liong Sik had committed the alleged crime on his own.

Last week, the current Transport Minister and MCA's appointed secretary-general had exercised his Ministerial powers and decreed the Board of Directors of Port Klang Authority (PKA) to make repayments to the bondholders amounting to RM372 million. This was despite the fact that the PKA Board was of the view that a payment of RM222.58 million should be witheld due to on-going dispute and litigation against the main contractor of PKFZ, Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd (KDSB) who raised the bond. The full payment was eventually made last Friday, on the 30th July 2010.

In the event where PKA were successful in its RM1.4 billion litigation and claims against KDSB, owned by BN Backbencher Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing, and PKA is unable to claim the necessary “refunds” from the latter, it will result in a huge loss of RM1.4 billion to the Malaysian government and its people, even without including any interest cost.

The question then is, who will be responsible for this loss of RM1.4 billion to the country? The Board of Directors, on advice of its lawyers have already made known its position that they are against making any payments to the KDSB bondholders pending the litigation outcomes, with the fear that the amount will be irrecoverable from KDSB once the bond has been paid even if PKA were to win their case in court.

Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha has single-handedly made the decision to make this payment and he must be held ministerially accountable and responsible for this payment to the bondholders. Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha must also clarify if he has made full and proper respresentation of the prevailing issues to the Prime Minister and the Cabinet before this decision is arrived.

Or has the Prime Minister and the Cabinet been misled as well by Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha into believing that the Government has no choice but to make the payment, despite the various letters of undertaking given by KDSB to its bondholders where in the eventuality where there is shortfall of payment from the Government, KDSB will make up for such a shortfall?

Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha has even refused to consider various suggestions to hold the payments due in escrow, to be made to the rightful parties only after the court case has been concluded. Such recklessness can only be interpreted as an attempt to bail out KDSB from its predicament when its bondholders exercises the undertaking which has been issued by KDSB, where KDSB will be forced to make the hundreds of millions in outstanding bond repayments.

If the Transport Minister has failed to brief the Cabinet of the pertinent points with regards to the bond and the on-going litigation against KDSB by PKA, and should PKA be unable to reclaim the RM1.4 billion fraudulently claimed by KDSB, then Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha must be similarly charged in court like the former Transport Minister, Tun Ling Liong Sik for allegedly defrauding the cabinet and possibly even consipiring to cause massive losses to the Government of Malaysia.

Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha must not evade accountability, and must immediately declare his willingness to take full responsibility for his actions in decreeing the payments to KDSB bondholders.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Where's NEM's "Market-Friendly" Affirmative Action Programme?

The Prime Minister should drop all pretense of implementing a “market-friendly and merit-based affirmative action programme” under the 10th Malaysia Plan

Over the past week, I've been vilified by Utusan Malaysia and Umno leaders for having suggested that one of the steps to renew investor confidence in the country's economic policies is to remove the bumiputera discount applied to luxury property purchases. The most recent threat comes from the Deputy Minister from the Prime Minister's Department and UMNO Information Chief, Datuk Ahmad Maslan who warned me not to “play with fire”, using the defense of the Federal Constitution and the “social contract” as the basis for the race-based property discount policy.

The most disappointing of criticisms however, came directly from none other than the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak himself. Instead of commenting on the merits of the policy, he warned DAP leaders “against continuing to place pressure on the Malays and Bumiputeras on this matter because it could cause anger and dissatisfaction among them."

In coming up with the above suggestion, I had no intention of fanning racial sentiments or taking away the rights of bumiputeras as defined in the Constitution. I was looking at the policy strictly from the perspective of economic distributive justice. A person who purchases a RM2 million property under the current scheme of say, 7% discount will receive a benefit of RM140,000. However, a lower income person who purchases a property of RM100,000 will only receive a benefit of RM7,000, a fraction of the benefit enjoyed by the rich. The current policy is skewed towards greater benefit or “subsidy” for the wealthier community, which runs against the spirit of affirmative action policies.

The Prime Minister had in his inaugural speech on March 30 to local and foreign investors on the New Economic Model (NEM) said that the new “affirmative action approach based on “transparent and market-friendly affirmative action programmes” “will mean greater support for the Bumiputera, a greater support based on needs, not race”. It is as opposed to the previous New Economic Policy (NEP) of “imposing conditions to meet specific quotas or targets”.

Datuk Seri Najib has since backtracked from the above NEM proposal of not “imposing conditions to meet specific quotas or targets” in the 10th Malaysia Plan launched in June. However he had maintained that while the race-based 30% quota or target for bumiputeras will be retained, the race-based affirmative action policy will be “targetted primarily at improving the livelihoods of Bumiputera in the bottom 40% households” through “more transparent, market-friendly and merit-based instruments”.

However, his latest outright rejection of the proposal to remove race-based discounts for luxury properties flies direct in the face of not only the original NEM objectives, but also the watered-down affirmative action reforms outlined in the 10th Malaysia Plan. There is nothing that is “market-friendly” or “merit-based” in the race-based affirmative action policy of granting property discounts to wealthy individuals who could afford properties in the range of millions of ringgit.

UMNO, its mouth-piece Utusan Malaysia and Datuk Seri Najib has instead chosen to racialise and politicise the issue, inflaming racial sentiments to achieve short-term political mileage at the expense of the economy.

The above is the perfect example of what Datuk Seri Nazir Razak, the CEO of CIMB Bank had lamented recently where “wrangling over affirmative action in the proposed New Economic Model (NEM) is causing uncertainty among investors.” He had added that the time has come for the government to protect the interest of the majority of the Malays and not just selected few.

Both local and foreign investors are confused by not only the indecision and ambiguity over the proposed reforms over the decades old affirmative action programme, they are also turned off by the clear indications that the deeds and policies of the Government often do not match their words, as expressed in the NEM as well as the 10MP.

If the Government has no intention to reform its affirmative action policies as it stands today, then the Prime Minister and UMNO leaders should stop the hypocrisy and pretense that the Government is going to implement a “New Economic Model” which will be based on “market-friendly” or “merit-based programmes”. It'll only prove to investors that the Government is “all talk, no action” and that the Barisan Nasional is completely incapable of change, much less the transformation that is required to take us to a developed nation status by 2020.