Sunday, December 16, 2012

TIMSS 2011 Proves Malaysian Examination Results Manipulated

The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study has proven that the Ministry of Education has deliberately dumbed down our education syllabus and lowered our examination standards in order to produce more student passes and distinctions

In the recently released 2011 Trends in International Math and Science Study (TIMSS), Malaysia’s ranking in Math fell from 20th in 2007 to 26th in 2011 while our ranking in Science fell by an ever greater margin, from 21st in 2007 to 32nd in 2011.

In terms of marks scored, Malaysia was the worst performing nation of the 59 countries survey by showing the biggest decline since the study was first conducted in 1999. Malaysia's average score for mathematics fell 79 points from 519 in 1999 to 440 in 2011.  By comparison, the next worst country Thailand posted an average score decrease of 40 points for mathematics.  Similarly, Malaysia's average score for science meanwhile dropped 66 points from 492 in 1999 to 426 in 2011.  This decrease is higher than the next worst country, Macedonia whose average score for science fell 51 points.

However, while the disastrous TIMSS results proved the failure of our education system, surprisingly our students continue to score better results annually for their Mathematics and Science examinations for the PMR and SPM papers.

For example, the PMR results over the years, as measured by the Average National Grade (or GPN) has been steadily improving from 2.83 in 2008 to 2.78 in 2009 to 2.74 in 2010 and mostly recently to 2.71 in 2011 (the lower the grade, the better the score).  More specifically, those obtaining As in Mathematics increased from 26.7% in 2010 to 28.9% in 2011 and those obtaining As in Science increased from 18.5% in 2010 to 21.7% in 2011.

At the same time, our SPM results in 2011 was reported to have been the best recorded in five years with the overall National Average Grade improving from 5.19 in 2010 to 5.04 in 2011 (the lower the grade, the better the score).

In addition, the pass rate for Math and Science at the SPM level have also steadily increased since 2007 as indicated in Table 1 below.  For example, the pass rate for Math for those in the rural areas increased from 70% in 2007 to 77.5% in 2010 and the pass rate for Science for those in the urban areas increased from 85.9% in 2007 to 91% in 2010.

Table 1: Pass rate for Math & Science SPM
for those in the rural and urban areas (2007 to 2010)

Source: Ministry of Education
The steep fall in our TIMSS 2011 scores which are measured objectively across 59 countries clearly contradicts the astounding achievements by the same students in our PMR and SPM examinations.

One cannot help but to conclude that firstly, the Ministry of Education has been deliberately manipulating the Math and Sciences standards for the PMR and SPM examinations to artificially increase the pass rate.  Secondly, it also raises the obvious question that our education syllabus has been “dumbed down” so that more students will be able to do better for their examinations.

In fact, this deliberate attempt to dumb down our syllabus and lowering the passing marks for the examination subjects is a key reason for the declining standard of our education system.  The Ministry of Education has over the years simplified the syllabus and lowered passing marks in order to give the perception of improving performance, which is measured by the number of passes and “A”s achieved in these examinations.

The obvious outcome to such a skewed education policy is that our Malaysian young will learn less in school, while needing to know and understand even less to secure a pass or obtain an “A” in the examinations.  This saddening outcome is now proven by the TIMSS,  which showed how Malaysia is the country where its students suffer from the fastest declining standards for both Mathematics and Science.

The New Education Blueprint (NEB) must openly admit and aggressively address the deliberate “dumbing down” of our education system.  The Preliminary NEB report has not only completely neglected the above, it has to the contrary, sung praises for our students’ academic achievements in the PMR and SPM examinations.  If the Minister of Education, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin fails to reverse the dumbing down process and start increasing standards in our examinations and syllabus, then he can be assured that not only the NEB will fail miserably, Malaysia will continue to drop down the TIMSS scores and ranking in the future.

Friday, December 14, 2012

MCMC Defends 4G-LTE Spectrum Award: No Track Record Needed

MCMC's defence of the award of the biggest share of the 4G-LTE spectrum to Puncak Semangat is lame, and the excuse not to auction the license doesn't even begin to make sense.

Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) has defended its decision to award the biggest share of the 4G-LTE spectrum to Puncak Semangat Sdn Bhd which is owned by tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary.

Its chairman, Datuk Mohd Sharil Tarmizi said on Tuesday that the award is to "introduce additional competition".  He said "look at the market now, if we left those 8 players on their own, where would the solutions, applications and innovation be?"

Datuk Mohd Sharil Tarmizi also said that MCMC has the power to "take back the spectrum" should players fail to meet their targets.

The MCMC Chairman's response defies all logic because, if the 8 existing players are "not" competing by providing "innovation" today, then MCMC must be responsible for allowing the collusion between the 8 parties. Under the Malaysia Communications & Multimedia Act, the MCMC is the authority to promote competition and bar collusion between telecommunication players. And certainly, by international standards, 8 players are more than sufficient to generate a highly competitive environment. Most other developed nations have far fewer than 8 players in the industry, and yet remain highly competitive and innovative.

While we are all for competition in the industry, the manner in which the license and quota is awarded must be questioned.  Some of the companies awarded with 3G and WIMAX licenses by MCMC have failed miserably, proving that MCMC is not an all-seeing "oracle".

The fact that MCMC has the power to retract its award at any time does not give basis to an award of the largest share of the bandwidth to a completely new player in the industry.

Furthermore, a regulator's role is certainly not to play "judge" in evaluating business plans, but to facilitate competition, prevent monopolistic practices and ensuring quality service provision.

If the argument that the arbitrary award to Puncak Semangat is to improve competition rest on shaky grounds, then Datuk Sharil's statement that MCMC decided against an auction for the bandwidth because "the highest bidder may not necessarily be the one with the best ideas" holds even less water.

MCMC's decision against an auction for the bandwidth is contrary to international best practices where both developed and developing countries have raised valuable income for the Government while promoting a highly competitive telecommunications industry. UK, Germany, Sweden and even Thailand have held auctions, raising billions of ringgit in proceeds, while Singapore, Taiwan and Brazil are planning their auctions for next year.

Datuk Sharil was quoted by The Edge Financial Daily that "an auction is best when the spectrum is convenient and quality of the spectrum is not a problem" does not even  make any sense. It sounds like a response designed to confound the people, without even beginning to answer the question.

A company that is committed and believes it will trump the competition will be more than able to participate in an auction for the new spectrum. And should the company fail, the MCMC still has the power to withdraw its award while keeping the proceeds of the auction. Hence under such circumstances, there is even greater incentive for the players to compete and innovate to ensure a successful business. This will at the same time benefit consumers.

MCMC must commit to the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's own slogan that "the era where the Government knows best is over", and let the market play its part in determining the winner.  MCMC should instead focus on its role to prevent collusion between industry players, punish players who fail to provide quality services and create an even playing field for all parties in the industry.

Otherwise, it becomes clear that MCMC is over-extending its regulatory role to play "god" of the industry by deciding which company's profit to fatten, and ignoring the interest of the millions of telecommunication users in Malaysia.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

TIMSS 2011 Proved Malaysian Education Disaster

The International Mathematics & Science Study (TIMSS) 2011 proved beyond doubt that the Barisan Nasional Government has completely destroyed our education system, causing Malaysia to suffer the biggest drop in results among all tested countries in the world for both subjects.

The 2011 Trends in International Math and Science Study (TIMSS) which was released on the 11th of December showed a worrying and unacceptable fall in Malaysia’s ranking and average scores in Math and Science.

Malaysia’s ranking in Math fell from 20th in 2007 to 26th in 2011 while its ranking in Science fell by an ever greater margin, from 21st in 2007 to 32nd in 2011. Our average Math score fell from 474 in 2007 to 440 and our average Science score fell by an even greater degree from 471 in 2007 to 426 in 2011. The results are summarized in Table 1a and 1b below.

Table 1a: 
Fall in Malaysia’s TIMMs ranking in Science and Math, 2007 to 2011

Table 1b: 
Fall in Malaysia’s TIMMs average score in Science and Math, 2007 to 2011

When we compare the results across all the countries, we suffer the ignominy of being the only country other than Jordan which suffered declines in scores in all tested domains for Mathematics (3 areas – Knowledge, Application, Reasoning) and Science (4 areas – Biology, Physics, Chemistry, Earth sciences).

However, the most damning outcome of the test is that Malaysia has suffered the biggest drop in test scores among all countries for both Mathematics and Science between 1999 and 2011.

For Mathematics, our score dropped by 79 points, compared to the next worst country, Thailand, by 40 points.  For Science, our score dropped by 66 points, compared to Macedonia, which fell by 51 points.

The poor achievement of Malaysians students in Math and Science is clearly seen in the % of students scoring full credit for what should be basic Math and Science questions.

For example, for the simple algebra question of  “What does xy +1 mean” (The answer is “multiply x by y, then add 1”), only 43% of Malaysian students answered this question correctly, ranking us 37 out of 42 countries.

In comparison, 94% of students in Hong Kong answered this question correctly. For a relatively simple Chemistry question, “What is the chemical formula for Carbon Dixoide” (The answer is “CO2), only 67% of Malaysian students answered this question correctly, ranking us 43 out of 45 countries. (See Appendix 2 below) In comparison 99% of Japanese students answered this question correctly.

Given the above, it is no wonder that many parents are voting with their feet and their wallets by enrolling in private primary and secondary schools at an alarmingly increasing rate.

The drop in our Math and Science scores as measured by TIMSS an unmitigated disaster our national education system which has been destroyed by the Barisan Nasional education policies.

In the context of the extent of our failing education system, the National Education Blueprint (Peliminary report) is clearly half-hearted in its attempted to reverse the decline and it has failed to address the primary issues of the severe in standards.

The Ministers of Education for Malaysia over this period, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad (1999-2004), Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein (2004-2009) and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (since 2009) must bear full responsibility for failing Malaysia’s young and the future of this country.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

DAP PJ Election Fund-Raising Dinner 2013

We would like to invite you to join us in our 2013 DAP Petaling Jaya Utara Election Fund Raising Dinner. You may check out the Facebook event page here.
Theme: "Ini Kali-lah... the Final Countdown to Putrajaya"Venue: Petaling Jaya Hockey Stadium, Jalan Selangor, Seksyen 3, Petaling Jaya
Date: 19 January 2013 (Saturday)
Time: 7.30pm
The speakers will include:

  • Lim Guan Eng, Penang Chief Minister 
  • Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Parliamentary Opposition Leader
  • Mohd Sabu, PAS Deputy President
  • Tony Pua, MP Petaling Jaya Utara
  • Lau Weng San, ADUN Kg Tunku
  • Kasthuri Patto, DUN Bukit Gasing Co-ordinator
  • Yeo Bee Yin, DAP Social Media Strategist

The primary language for this dinner will be English and Bahasa Malaysia. Halal food is available upon request.

The cost of the dinner will be RM60 per pax or RM600 per table. Gold and Platinum sponsorship tables are available for RM1,500 and RM3,000 per table respectively.

For reservations, please email to or to me directly with your name, contact number, which dinner(s) and number of seats or tables (Platinum, Gold or Silver) required.

If you have any more questions, you can call Chew 016 8782472.

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

The funds raised from the dinner will be used for the upcoming election campaign for Petaling Jaya Utara parliamentary seat; and Bukit Gasing, Kg Tunku and Damansara Utama state seats. Any excess from the fund will be contributed to contested seats which require additional support.

Monday, December 10, 2012

4G-LTE Spectrum Award: No Track Record Needed

It is become endemic of the Malaysian regulatory authorities to award quotas and licences to companies with questionable financial credentials and without any track record in the relevant industries.

Last week, Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) announced the allocation of the 4G-LTE spectrum where all 7 existing broadband players in the market – Maxis Broadband Sdn Bhd, Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd, Celcom Axiata Bhd, U Mobile Sdn Bhd, Redtone Marketing Sdn Bhd, YTL Communications and Packet One Networks (M) Sdn Bhd were granted 20MHz of bandwidth.

However, what took the industry by surprise was the award of the largest share of the bandwith of 40MHz to a little known entity Puncak Semangat Sdn Bhd, owned by tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary.

The most straightforward question to ask MCMC is – why is it that a company with zero track record in the industry has been given the privilege of securing the largest chunk of the bandwidth?

It appears that MCMC which has landed in controversy in the past, is persisting in awarding licenses to companies with little track record or financial capabilities.  In the past award of bandwidth for the 3G and WIMAX spectrum, several companies have failed to deliver the services or have effectively sold their license for a quick profit.

What is most disappointing the the award of licenses in Malaysia is there is not auction requirement as practised in most other developed countries.  The auction process will not only ensure the most committed companies to take part in the exercise, but will also raise valuable revenue for the Government.

For example, the Office of Communications, the independent telecommunications regulator in the United Kingdom has set a reserve auction price of GBP1.3 billion for the 4G-LTE licences and the industry expects the Government to raise between GBP3 to 4 billion!

In 2010, the highest bid in the German spectrum auction was 7.5 Million Euros for two blocks in the 800 MHz band.

In 2008 Sweden concluded an electronic 16-day auction for nine 15-year 4G-licenses for a total bandwidth of 190 MHz in the 2,6 GHz band. The total required minimum bids were SEK 50,000,000, but the total winning bids were USD314 million.

Other countries such as Taiwan, Singapore, Brazil are planning for 4G auctions in 2013.  Similarly, Thailand has only just concluded their 3G auction, netting their Government US$1.4 billion in the process despite a more depressed market environment, and alleged collusion to lower the auction price.

It appears that in Malaysia, our regulators are more interested in enhancing the profits of our telecommunication companies, and even then favouring certain connected parties despite their lack of track record.

The above is the clear cut case of lost opportunity for the Government to raise valuable funds to provide much needed services and facilities for Malaysians, such as toll-free highways and affordable homes.

Pakatan Rakyat will ensure that all licenses granted by our various regulatory bodies, particularly in the energy and telecommunication will be awarded in an open, transparent and competitive manner to ensure that the best bids will win the licences and the Government will also be able to maximise its revenue in the interest of the rakyat.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

UMNO Leaders Passes The Buck Over Land Grab

It is so hopelessly hilarious to see how UMNO Selangor leaders scrambling to disclaim responsibility and knowledge over their role in the state land grab scandal.

We have on Tuesday exposed a 87,188 square feet of land which was given to UMNO Subang at dirt cheap nominal prices in Ara Damansara in 2004.  This piece of land has since been developed into a 200-unit Suria Damansra Condomium launched in 2006.  This condominium is worth an estimated RM90 million based on today’s prices.

UMNO and MCA state assemblymen, Abdul Shukor Idrus and Wong Koon Mun had explained during the last state assembly sitting that the land they received on the cheap were used for the community, such as kindergartens or public community halls.

We had called on them to explain where exactly is the kindergarten and the community halls in this 87,188 sq ft of land.  This is the first of the 24 parcels of land which we will expose as a clear cut case of abuse of power and corruption by the Barisan Nasional government during their reign from 2000 to 2008.

Having been caught with their pants down, UMNO leaders are now fumbling to deny their complicity in the land-grab, and blame other UMNO leaders.

When contacted by the press, Subang Umno division chief Muhammad Bushro Mat Johor, said there is no such land in possession of Subang Umno.  “No, there is not even a single piece of land listed in Subang Umno’s asset list since I became the division chief,” he said.  However when pressed with evidence, the Paya Jaras assemblyperson pointed that any query on the land is best directed to the previous division chief.

However, the previous division chief, Datuk Mokhtar Dahlan when queried, then passed the buck to Kelana Jaya Umno acting chief Yahya Bujang.  He claimed that although it was Subang UMO which received the land, “the land was handed over to Kelana Jaya Umno after a constituency re-delineation exercise in 2004.”

Unfortunately, and coincidentally, Yahya Bujang is out of the country and is hence unable to respond immediately to the allegations.  Datuk Mokhtar Dahlan had disclosed however, that the land was originally intended for the construction of UMNO Subang’s Division Headquarters.  It is a clear admission that BN had abused its powers to benefit the interest of its component parties.

At the same time, the Opposition Leader in Selangor Datuk Satim Diman pleaded ignorance when queried and responded that said the matter should be referred instead to Umno Selangor secretary Datuk Mohd Zin Mohamed.

Mohd Zin, then with great finesse , responded that he “needs some time and will respond in due time after his researcher gathers more information on the allegation.”

The passing the buck game cannot be any more comical than the above.  UMNO knows that they’ve been caught red-handed putting their hands into cookie jar, and no one wants to accept responsibility for robbing the people’s land for their own profit.

The biggest disappointment for all Malaysians, and particularly Selangorians, is the fact that the Prime Minister has remained steadfastly silent on the above issue, despite his insistence that UMNO has “transformed”.  Datuk Seri Najib Razak who is also the Selangor UMNO Chief must get his house in order by explaining the land grab scandal and accepting responsility for UMNO’s sins.  He must make amends for UMNO’s corrupt policies of the past be returning all such ill-gained profits to the state government for the benefit of the rakyat.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Official Invite to Datuk Chua Tee Yong to Visit BN Land Grab Sites

Datuk Chua Tee Yong has proven himself to be obsessed with “land scandals” especially in Selangor.

The independent audit by the international reputable auditing firm, KPMG as well as the Selangor state government White Paper tabled at the latest state assembly sitting proving beyond doubt that the Government under the leadership of Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim has collected back every single sen of the RM392 million debt oustanding from Talam Corporation.  These debts were incurred during the reign of Barisan Nasional (BN) and was never collected while BN wa in power.

Despite the above, Datuk Chua is remarkably persistent in his jihad to find the elusive needle in the haystack to prove his RM1 billion non-existent land scandal in Selangor under Pakatan Rakyat.

Given his insatiable quest for “land scandals” in Selangor and the obvious need to lead the ineffective Selangor MCA leadership, I would like to offer the perfect opportunity to Datuk Chua to uncover the real land scandals in Selangor.

I would like to invite Datuk Chua Tee Yong, the MCA “land scandals” and accounting expert, to jointly visit the 24 parcels of state land which which were given to Barisan Nasional component parties – UMNO, MCA, MIC and Gerakan – between 2000 and 2008.  These pieces of land were transferred to BN parties for nominal sums despite being worth in excess of RM200 million.

Selangor Barisan Nasional component parties have been quick to defend the land-grab despite the obvious corruption, abuse of power and conflict of interests involved.  Selangor UMNO Information Chief Abdul Shukor Idrus, who is also the state assemblyman for Kuang who argued that “what’s wrong with giving the land to UMNO” as reward for the “contributions by UMNO in fighting for indepedence and developing this country”.

MCA Selangor Secretary and ADUN for Kuala Kubu Baru, Datuk Wong Koon Mun agreed with is UMNO colleague, claiming that there’s nothing wrong with alienating land to MCA, by comparing the political party to “temples and schools” which were also given land on the cheap.  Wong even added that the sites served as de facto centres for community life, including as community hall and even as schools and kindergartens, in lieu of purpose-built buildings.

The joint bi-partisan visits to the 24 sites will confirm if the land given to UMNO, MCA, MIC and Gerakan were indeed utilised for the “community” or were they a clear cut abuse of power to profit the party and its cronies.

During the site visit with DAP state assembly persons, Ng Suee Lim and Hannah Yeoh to a 87,188 square feet piece of land in Ara Damansara given to UMNO Bahagian Subang yesterday, we found no kindergarten or community hall for use by local residents.  Instead we found a 200-unit condominium – Suria Damansara Condominium worth more than RM500 million when it was first launched in 2006.

The purpose of the site visits will be:

1. To confirm if these sites were indeed used for the community, or were they like the UMNO land above, sold or developed commercially for profit.

2. Where profit was made – 23 out of the 24 pieces of land were commercial land – to determine how much profit did UMNO, MCA, MIC and Gerakan made from these land, as a result of getting them dirt cheap from the BN state government

It is critical for Datuk Chua to agree to the joint site visits to prove that there is no element of corruption and abuse of power by BN in the award of these land to themselves, and more important there was zero element of profit resulting from the above transactions.

And if the bi-partisan visits are able to prove that UMNO, MCA, MIC and Gerakan have profited hundreds of millions of ringgit from these “land scandals”, then as the shining light within MCA fighting for justice for Selangorians and integrity in Government, Datuk Chua must declare that all the unethically obtained profits must be returned to the Selangor state government for the benefit of her citizens.

If not, then it will be unfortunate that Datuk Chua will prove himself as another dye-in-the-wool hypocrite from MCA and Barisan Nasional, who seeks only to protect his own interest and that of his party, at the expense of the ordinary man-on-the-street.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Najib Compares Himself to Mubarak?

By comparing himself to Egypt’s Mubarak, Datuk Seri Najib Razak publicly admits that Barisan Nasional is running a corrupt and authoritarian regime

UMNO President, Datuk Seri Najib Razak first warned Malaysians against the Arab Spring during the UMNO Hari Raya Open House in September. “Look at the countries in north Africa and the Middle East. We can learn from them that change is not always good,” he said.

He repeated his warning against yesterday at the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) Annual Convention, warning against “change” or “Ubah” propagated by Pakatan Rakyat.

 “If we change, are we sure we’re getting something better? (The people involved in Arab Spring) are not enjoying the ‘spring weather’. They’re still in the winter of discontent,” Najib said.

By attempting to rally Malaysians against change as seen in the Middle East, is Najib not associating himself with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s corrupt and authoritarian 30-year reign?

Isn’t Najib not saying that no matter how corrupt, how authoritarian and how much abuse of power happens in the country, it is better to stick to Dr Mahathir’s “devil that you know” than to bring about “change” which is deemed “uncertain”?

What is different however, about change in Malaysia is the fact that it will be conducted through the ballot box to rid the country of a corrupt regime which has rule for the past 55 years, unlike the Arab Spring which was conducted to violent protests.

What is perhaps the critical differentiator between the impending change in Malaysia, which is so feared by BN, and that of the Middle East, is the fact that Pakatan Rakyat has already proven ourselves to be competent, accountable and transparent in our administration of the states we won in the 2008 general elections.

The recent BN land-grab expose by Sekinchan state assemblyman, Ng Swee Lim is a case in point.  While BN component parties were alienated land by the Selangor state during BN’s reign from 2000 to 2008 worth an estimated RM200 million, BN leaders have shown absolutely no remorse in such corrupt practices.

Selangor UMNO Information Chief Abdul Shukor Idrus, who is also the state assemblyman for Kuang who argued that “what’s wrong with giving the land to UMNO” as reward for the “contributions by UMNO in fighting for indepedence and developing this country”.

MCA Selangor Secretary and ADUN for Kuala Kubu Baru, Datuk Wong Koon Mun agreed with is UMNO colleague, claiming that there’s nothing wrong with alienating land to MCA, by comparing the political party to “temples and schools” which were also given land on the cheap.  He also insinuated that such land grab is justified by the effort of the party to register Chinese Malaysians to obtain their citizenship and “fighting for their rights”.

Datuk Seri Najib himself has chosen to remain completely silent over the scandal and refused to chastise his leaders for their “untransformed” feudal and corrupt mentality.

On the other hand, Pakatan Rakyat administration has made it a point not to alienate any land whether its component parties or its state assemblymen.  In fact, the Penang state government made it an explicit point that all its leaders will be banned from applying for land from the state to prevent the abuses seen during BN administration.

The transparent and accountable administration by the Pakatan Rakyat state governments have resulted in repeated surpluses in both the Penang and Selangor administrations.  Penang achieved a record budget surplus of RM138 million in 2011 after successive surpluses since 2008.  Similarly, the Auditor-General has also confirmed a surplus of RM180.5 million in 2011, a 45% increse from RM124.2 million achieved in 2010.  The finacial reserves of the Selangor state government has also increased from a mere RM400 million in 2008 to a whopping RM2.4 billion today.

Hence, the threat of a violent “winter of discontent” is nothing but an empty threat from an increasingly panicky Prime Minister and Barisan Nasional.  The threat, repeated umpteen times by UMNO leaders and its delegates during the just concluded UMNO general assembly appears to be their only weapon left, that is to scare the Malaysian voters in to submission and to prevent the corrupt BN government from being toppled in the coming general election.

Saturday, December 01, 2012

BN Will Bankrupt Malaysia, Not PR

UMNO President, Datuk Seri Najib Razak attempted to scare Malaysian voters that by voting Pakatan Rakyat, the latter will bankrupt the country in 3 years.

Najib said, the opposition under Anwar’s leadership was espousing poor policies, pointing to its plans to ensure an average of RM4,000 a month as household income, abolition of tolls and the PTPTN debt, RM500 special allowance for teachers and hiking the royalty payment to 20 percent for oil-producing states.

“If all these are done in the first year, the federal budget deficit will spiral to almost 30 percent. By 2015, our debt to GDP will sky-rocket to 140 percent.

“In three years time, we will reach a critical stage where we will lose our economic sovereignty, like Greece,” he said.

Without even going into the details of the accusations over Pakatan Rakyat policies which have been well rebutted by my colleagues previously, Najib’s claims are completely preposterous.

Pakatan Rakyat has unveiled our Alternative Budget for 2013 which has clearly spelt out our expenditure proposals which are much less extravagant and much more prudent than that by the Barisan Nasional (BN) Government.  We have proposed an expenditure of RM234 billion and projected a deficit of 3.5%, as opposed to BN’s RM252 billion and a 4% deficit.  How did Najib pluck a 30% or a incredulous RM300 billion deficit from thin air?

In fact, if the BN Federal Government scandals are anything to go by, it is the current administration’s continued profligacy which will cause the country to be "bankrupt" if they are voted back into power.

We have seen how the BN Government provide all sorts of unacceptable excuses not to collect back RM250 million of soft loan extended to UMNO Wanita Chief Datuk Shahrizat Jalil’s family in the failed National Feedlot Corporation projects where the money was abused to purchase luxury condominiums.  Similarly, Datuk Seri Najib has instructed that RM589.6 million of outstanding debt from Tan Sri Tajuddin Ramli to Federal Government subsidiaries be completely written off for no good reason.

At the same time, we have surfaced RM140.2 billion worth of contingent liabilities or Federal Government guaranteed debts which are not included in our official debts of RM502 billion.  The contingent liabilities or hidden debts are rising at an exponential rate as a means for the BN Government to bail out its cronies and failing GLCs such as the RM12.5 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ).  In fact, the heavily indebted Port Klang Authority has officially requested the Finance Ministry to write up RM2.1 billion out of its RM4.6 billion debt incurred as a result of government guarantee.

On the other hand, Pakatan Rakyat Governments have proven our prudence in managing state finances.  The Selangor State Government for example has successfully recovered RM392 million worth of debt from Talam Corporation incurred during BN’s administration.  Similarly, open and transparent policies have resulted in repeated surpluses in both the Penang and Selangor administrations.  Penang achieved a record budget surplus of RM138 million in 2011 after successive surpluses since 2008.  Similarly, the Auditor-General has also confirmed a surplus of RM180.5 million in 2011, a 45% increse from RM124.2 million achieved in 2010.  The finacial reserves of the Selangor state government has also increased from a mere RM400 million in 2008 to a whopping RM2.4 billion today.

Pakatan Rakyat will implement prudent spending and will reallocate funds for our proposed expenditure, by cutting wasteful expenditure, restructuring subsidies target groups and eliminating corruption via open, transparent and competitive tenders and procurement systems.

Hence the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and Malaysians throughout the country can evaluate and compare the performance of the BN administration versus the Pakatan state administrations over the past 5 years and make informed judgements.  Pakatan Rakyat has more than proven that we are more than capable of strengthening the country’s finances and economy, while on the other hand, the continued corruption, abuse of power and profligacy under BN will inevitably lead to economic disaster for the nation.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

UMNO Is Shameless Despite Being Caught for Land Grab

It has been a week since DAP State Assemblyman for Sekinchan, Ng Swee Lim exposed that Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties secured at least 24 pieces of valuable land from the state government while they were in power between 2000 to 2008.  These pieces of land which are mostly in commercial areas, amounting to 34.5 acres were “sold” to UMNO, MCA, MIC and Gerakan for a pitiful RM1 per square feet.  These pieces of land are estimated to be worth as much as RM200 million.

Selangor Barisan Nasional component parties have been quick to defend the land-grab despite the obvious corruption, abuse of power and conflict of interests involved.  Selangor UMNO Information Chief Abdul Shukor Idrus, who is also the state assemblyman for Kuang who argued that “what’s wrong with giving the land to UMNO” as reward for the “contributions by UMNO in fighting for indepedence and developing this country”.

MCA Selangor Secretary and ADUN for Kuala Kubu Baru, Datuk Wong Koon Mun agreed with is UMNO colleague, claiming that there’s nothing wrong with alienating land to MCA, by comparing the political party to “temples and schools” which were also given land on the cheap.  He also insinuated that such land grab is justified by the effort of the party to register Chinese Malaysians to obtain their citizenship and “fighting for their rights”.

Such responses are the clearest proof that BN leaders not only do not understand what is corruption and abuse of power,  they are completely shameless even after being caught red-handed by the authorities.  Ordinary Malaysians know that political parties have no right to benefit themselves, at the expense of the rakyat when they are in power, or it will be a clear breach of trust.

Wong had the cheek to say that all the properties “…belong to the party. All MCA land in the new villages belong to party headquarters, not personal. Nothing wrong (with that).”

However, the Prime Minister who is also the UMNO Selangor Chief, Datuk Seri Najib Razak had continued to plead to Malaysians to give BN a chance because “…BN is not a party that is inflexible. We are ready to change.”

“Change can happen in our country and we have proven that not necessarily we change government, but we can bring big change with the same government,” Najib said at the Barisan 1 Malaysia gathering at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) on Saturday 24 November 2012.

Najib had asked Malaysians, “why fix it when it is not broken?”

The very fact that BN leaders continue to defend their corrupt actions of the past proves that BN is not only “broken” but is umable to “change”.  What is worse is, the Prime Minister himself has refused to comment on the above corrupt practice, much less condemn his Selangor state assemblymen for their complete lack of integrity, despite arguing that “we can bring big change with the same government”.

Hence if the BN gets re-elected as the state government of Selangor as Najib predicted, then Malaysians will be assured that state government assets will continue to be raped and pillaged by UMNO, MCA, Gerakan and MIC under his leadership, at the expense of the ordinary man on the street.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Najib Must State Stand On BN Land Grab

It did not come as a shock to anybody when DAP State Assemblyman for Sekinchan, Ng Swee Lim exposed on Tuesday that Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties secured at least 24 pieces of valuable land from the state government while they were in power between 2000 to 2008.  These pieces of land which are mostly in commercial areas, amounting to 34.5 acres were “sold” to UMNO, MCA, MIC and Gerakan for a pitiful RM1 per square feet.

What is perhaps more surprising is that such information was somehow kept under wraps for such a long time after they lost their hold on power.

But what is most shocking is the response by Selangor UMNO Information Chief Abdul Shukor Idrus, who is also the state assemblyman for Kuang who argued that “what’s wrong with giving the land to UMNO” as reward for the “contributions by UMNO in fighting for indepedence and developing this country”.

His response to Ng during the sitting as recorded in the Hansard was “…Kalau dipandangkan jasa UMNO menuntut kemerdekaan dan akhirnya Sekinchan (Ng) boleh jadi lawa macam ni, kalau tak kerana UMNO menuntut kemerdekaan dan memajukan negari ini, saya ingat Sekinchan (Ng) pakai baju daun sekarang ini… apa halnya kalau diberi kepada UMNO”

Abdul Shukor attempted to control the fallout with a press conference yesterday (Wednesday), only to dig a deeper hole for UMNO and himself.  He tried to justify that “UMNO is rakyat” and hence there’s absolutely nothing wrong in giving state land to an “organisation that represents 400,000 people”.

The above proves that despite all attempts at “transforming” UMNO and Barisan Nasional to be “people first”, and all the rhetoric on accountability and integrity under the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak’s Government Transformation Programme, UMNO leaders still regard the tax-payers’ monies as their own.  After all “UMNO is rakyat” and hence there is nothing wrong with UMNO robbing what belongs to the rakyat.

UMNO and Barisan Nasional leaders clearly has no moral sense of right and wrong, and are completely uneducated in the ability to differentiate between what belongs to the government/people as opposed to what belongs to the political parties.

The response by UMNO leaders tells Selangorians that if UMNO were to be elected back into power in the coming general election, then they will continue to rape the state by carving out valuable pieces of state land to be alienated to UMNO, MCA, MIC and Gerakan at dirt cheap prices.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak, as the Selangor UMNO Chief who had declared that Selangor must be “returned” to BN “at all costs” must state his stand on the land grab by the coalition he leads.  Does the Prime Minister also condone the land grab exercises and agree with his Selangor UMNO Information Chief?  Or does Datuk Seri Najib hold the “transformed” belief that such blatant land grab by BN is corrupt, an abuse of power and a serious breach of the people’s trust?

If Datuk Seri Najib wants Malaysians to believe that BN has really “transformed” and can be trusted, then he must declare that such land grab exercises by BN component parties must not only be banned, all land that has previously been alienated to them on the cheap, must be returned to the state.

Otherwise, Datuk Seri Najib Razak will be exposed as a “transformation” fraud – where it talks about integrity, transparency and accountability on the one hand but continues to allow his party and coalition to rob the rakyat blind on the other.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Fitch Warned of Weak Public Finances

The Malaysian Government must heed the warning call by Fitch Ratings on our debt levels or face the risk of a slowly but surely route to a Greek-style financial crisis

In a statement issued yesterday (19 November 2012) in London, global ratings agency, Fitch Ratings warned that “Malaysia's public finances are a weakness relative to rating peers and offer limited scope for counter-cyclical fiscal stimulus at the current rating level of 'A-'/Stable.”

Fitch added that “while this has not hindered the public sector's capacity to contribute to GDP, which grew 5.2% yoy in the third quarter according to Bank Negara Malaysia Friday, the growing provision of guarantees to government-linked borrowers is concerning.”

The report expressed the view that much of the growth was a direct result of higher than desired levels of government consumption and investment.  More specifically, the government’s expenditure is funded by “greater drawdown of existing federal government guarantees of debt issued by public sector enterprises suggests increasing use of quasi-fiscal policy to support economic activity and may apply further pressure on the sovereign credit profile.”

Hence despite the official government statistics that Federal Government debt is “only” at 53.7% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the number does not include the sky-rocketing quasi-government debt or our contingent liabilities.

As at December 2011, our contingent liabilities have increased by 20.5% to RM116.8 billion from RM96.9 billion the previous year.  However, as reported by Fitch Ratings, this figure has increased by another RM23.4 billion or 20% to RM140.2 billion as at September 2012.  Such debt is now equivalent to 15% of GDP compared with just 9% at end-2008.

The rate of increase is also much higher than the 10% – 12% rate of increase of the official Federal Government debt over the past 5 years, signalling a clear attempt by the Government to hide its debts off the official balance sheet.

In fact, Fitch Ratings stated the obvious when it said “the increasing reliance on off-balance sheet funding could potentially call into question the meaningfulness of the 55% of GDP federal debt ceiling.”

CIMB Investment Bank economist Lee Heng Guie has also recently wrote that the computation of public debt should also include outstanding borrowings guaranteed by the federal government to give a clearer picture of policymakers’ debt dynamics.

We call upon the Government to follow the reform its outdated accounting practice of “off-balance sheet financing” and recognise fully these hidden debts as the Federal Government debt commitments.  This is especially since much of these debts are not financing projects which are commercially viable and hence will ultimately require Government repayment at some point in the future, such as the RM24 billion and RM11 billion of debt owed by PTPTN and Syarikat Prasarana Negara respectively.

Furthermore, the market is anticipating additional hikes in our contingent liabilities as the Government embarks on many mega-projects off its balance sheet – such as the RM50 billion MRT project which has yet to raise the necessary financing, and the RM25 billion Tun Razak Exchange spearheaded by 1MDB.
Without proper accountability, the apparent abuse by the current government in circumventing the legislated 55% limit of Federal Government debt by recklessly issuing debt guarantees to wholly-owned government agencies or GLCs, will only lead to Malaysia finding itself trapped in financial quicksand sooner or later.

Fitch had already in August 2012 warned that “fiscal trends may eventually lead to some form of negative rating action” and the BN administration must pay heed to its advice to prevent Malaysians from enduring another Greek tragedy.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Ceramah: The Ubah Dream Machine

Don't miss it! Speakers include Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, Tony Pua, Gobind Singh and Rafizi Ramli. Be there 8pm tonight @ Civic Centre, MBPJ Jalan Yong Shook Lin, Petaling Jaya! 

See you there! Bring friends ;-)

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Donald Lim Talks Rubbish on Selangor Affordable Housing

On Tuesday 23 October 2012, Datuk Donald Lim claimed in parliament that the Selangor state government has not built a single unit of low-cost or medium cost housing during its four years of administration.

He said "Di Selangor sudah lebih empat tahun, sebiji rumah pun tidak dibina untuk rakyat Selangor sama ada kos rendah atau sederhana. Memang ini... " (Hansard 23/10/12)

After being "corrected" in Parliament, Datuk Donald Lim attempted to change his allegations in Parliament with a press conference yesterday.

This time, he alleged that of the 23,637 units of affordable homes planned for Selangor, only 287 have been built. He said that is barely 1% of the total number and hence it is as good as zero built.  He stated that this information is disclosed in the reply by the Selangor State Executive Council to the state assembly sitting in April this year.

We have checked the official response by the State Exco. It is true that "only" 287 units of low-cost units have been completed while 826 are under construction.

However, Datuk Donald Lim appears to have conveniently read only half the response by the state government.  The same reply to the Dewan also stated that 5,526 units of low-medium and medium cost housing have been completed!  The Minister had claimed that there were none built at all!

So out of the total of 23,637 low and medium cost homes planned by the state government, 5,813 has already been completed. This is a commendable 25% completion within a few years of administration. As a civil engineer himself, sure Datuk Lim would know that planning, approving and constructing houses isn't like ordering a plate of char koay teow, where you will be served in 10 minutes.

The 25% is a far cry from the 1% alleged by the Deputy Finance Minister and definitely not "zero" as misled by him in Parliament.

Today, we have made a site visit to Seksyen 3, Bandar Baru Bangi within the Serdang constituency with Bangi ADUN Shafie bin Abu Bakar on one of the soon-to-be-completed 124 units of affordable homes (picture attached). We have made an open invitation to the Selangor MCA Chief to visit the site or any other sites in Selangor since he claimed that he is completely clueless about low-cost and affordable housing projects in Selangor.

The Selangor Government is also building 135 units of affordable homes at Sungai Long (within Serdang constituency) to be completed before the end of the year. Other affordable projects in the state include one in Seksyen U10, Shah Alam, where 536 units will be built.  As an initial step, the state has set the price for affordable houses (800-1,000 sq feet) for middle-income earners at between RM85,000 and RM120,000.  Selangor residents with households between RM2,500 and RM5,000 can apply for it.  Those interested may purchase the application form at Level 5 of SUK Building, Shah Alam at the price of RM5.

We would also like to remind the Minister of 2 further issues. Firstly, the statistics above only covers projects directly under the state government and the subsidiaries it own.  It does not include the thousands of units built by the private sector as mandated by the state government.

Secondly, we would like to emphasize in no uncertain terms that the responsibility to build affordable housing is that of the Federal Government under the Ministry of Housing and Local Government, headed by Datuk Lim's colleague, Datuk Wira Chor Chee Heung.  It is because the Federal Government has failed to fulfil its obligations that the state governments of Selangor and Penang are forced to step in to build affordable homes to ease the burden of the rakyat.

Datuk Donald Lim should hence get his own house in order first before attempting to discredit the Selangor Government under Pakatan Rakyat. He should also stop digging a deeper hole for himself by conceding that he has made a blunder in Parliament and withdraw his irresponsible remark that the Selangor government has not built a single unit of low or medium cost housing in the state.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Jamaluddin Jarjis' Kids Got Stake in Malindo

Malindo part-owned by JJ’s kids, MP alleges
UPDATED @ 07:06:10 PM 24-10-2012 By Clara Chooi
Assistant News Editor October 24, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 24 ― The children of senior Barisan Nasional (BN) politician Datuk Jamaluddin Jarjis have an indirect stake in Malindo Airways, a newly set-up airline that has been criticised for the lack of clarity surrounding its financial and safety records, a lawmaker alleged today

Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua drew the link through a search with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM), which showed that one of Malindo’s investors ― Malaysia’s National Aerospace and Defence Industries Sdn Bhd (NADI) ― is part owned by DZJJ Sdn Bhd, which in turn lists Jamaluddin’s two children as directors [and shareholders].

Pua added that according to CCM’s information on NADI, the firm had failed to file is audited accounts from 2007, casting even more suspicion on the state of its finances.

Documents obtained from CCM showed that for the year 2007, NADI reported revenue of RM307.3 million and post-tax profit of RM90.5 million.

It also had RM684 million in current assets and RM496 million in current liabilities in 2007.

He repeated his earlier allegation that NADI’s partner in Malindo ― Indonesia’s Indonesia’s PT Lion Grup, which operates Lion Air ― has also run afoul of the industry authorities numerous times over its failure to comply with safety guidelines.

Pua had previously pointed out that Lion Air is on the list of airlines banned in the European Union since 2007 due to safety concerns.

According to previous media reports, Lion Air has also been denied membership in the International Air Transport Association (IATA). A search on IATA’s website confirmed that Lion Air is not a member.

“These issues were raised before but until today, no response has been given,” Pua said.

For the full story on The Malaysian Insider, click here.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Donald Lim Lied That Selangor Did Not Build Low-Cost Homes

Pakatan flays MCA deputy minister for ‘lying’ about Selangor low-cost housing
By Clara Chooi, Assistant News Editor 
October 23, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 23 — An MCA deputy minister found himself the target of criticism from angry Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lawmakers in Parliament today when he declared that the Selangor government has not built a single low-cost home in the state since it took over in 2008.

Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Donald Lim made the claim when praising the federal administration for being considerate of the needs of the country’s lower-income group.

Tony Pua (DAP-Petaling Jaya Utara) immediately stood up to demand that Lim correct his statement, accusing the Selangor MCA chairman of lying to the House.

Other PR MPs rapped on their tables to support Pua, with several standing to record their disapproval of Lim’s remarks.

But Lim ignored the protests and told Pua to sit down, even calling the DAP publicity secretary and other PR lawmakers “uneducated”.

When the House resumed committee stage debates on Budget 2013, Pua rose from his seat again to cite Standing Order 36(12) against Lim for allegedly misleading the House with an incorrect statement.

Standing Order 36(12) stipulates: “Any member who imputes statements that mislead the House is deemed to be in contempt of the House and the member may be referred to the Committee of Privileges for the offence.”

“I refer to the deputy minister’s answer to the House where he said that Selangor never built any low-cost housing for Selangor folk.

“I request that he correct this statement because Selangor has built 23,637 low-cost housing units, including reviving 9,176 units of homes from abandoned housing projects,” he told the House, to loud table thumps from his fellow PR MPs.

But Deputy Speaker Datuk Ronald Kiandee refused to entertain Pua’s request, saying that he does not agree that Lim had violated the Standing Orders.

Interjecting, Khalid Samad (PAS-Shah Alam) said that Lim had not only violated the Standing Orders but had deliberately issued a statement to mislead the Dewan Rakyat.

He pointed out that as a deputy minister, Lim would have full access to information to ensure that all his replies in the House are accurate.

“This is the reality. I urge the Speaker to giver serious consideration to this issue so that we can make sure that all future replies in the House are issued responsibly,” he said.

Speaking at a press conference late, Pua pointed out that apart from Selangor, the PR-led government in Penang has also built some 12,000 low-cost homes and allocated RM500 million for the construction of another 18,000 units.

Claiming that this is the largest allocation in the country, Pua stressed that the responsibility of providing low-cost homes to the poor lies with the federal government and not the state.

Motion to Cut Minister's Pay Allowed in UK

Pandikar says does not want to look ‘stupid’ by allowing pay-cut motions 
UPDATED @ 07:24:00 PM 23-10-2012 By Clara Chooi
Assistant News Editor October 23, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 23 — Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia today upheld his decision to reject pay-cut motions during debates on the budget, telling opposition MPs that he did not want to be seen as “stupid” by allowing it.

He insisted that such motions should not be permitted in the budget process, pointing out that it was merely meant as a “token cut” to a minister’s salary and this was not a substantial enough reason.

“My issue is that — is this an action by leaders in my country that I should abet? I had to make a stand,” Pandikar said.

“And this motion is not substantial... I do not want to be seen as though I am stupid or I am not a good person.”

He said he does not want other parliaments in the world to observe Malaysia’s Lower House and find that “we do not know what we are doing”.

He said he agreed with Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Ipoh Timor) that there were many provisions in the Standing Orders that needed to be explained further to MPs to prevent future disagreements on which motions should be allowed.

“This is what I am doing here. So you can still send me a notice on Standing Order 66(9) but do not use it to cut a minister’s salary,” he told the Lower House today.

Pandikar was responding after Tony Pua (DAP-Petaling Jaya Utara) stood to protest yesterday’s ban on pay-cut motions, claiming the Speaker had been wrong when he said that that no other parliamentary democracies in the world allow such motions.

Pua told the House that the British Parliament had just last week debated a pay-cut motion against Conservative Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell, requesting to slash the minister’s pay by £1,000 (RM5,000).

According to media reports, Mitchell was facing censure for allegedly losing his temper and using the derogatory word “plebs” on two police officers who refused to allow him to cycle through the main gates at Downing Street.

The term “pleb” is used by upper-class English to describe those below them in the social pecking order.

“Not only was this motion approved by the UK Parliament for debates, but this caused the Chief Whip to resign... and this only involved a case of him speaking roughly to the police,” Pua said.

He added that this was not the first pay-cut motion to be debated in parliaments outside Malaysia.

“There was another case in 1976 where the opposition even won the vote count.

“So I would like to put on record that this is not something that is unique to Malaysia, or something that is not practised by other countries,” he said.

But Pandikar insisted that the example given by Pua on Mitchell was inappropriate as it involved a criminal matter, which he said that Parliament has the power to punish the MP.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Speaker Bans Pay Cut Motions

I think you know when the other side starts getting paranoid and scared when they try to stop you at every possible opportunity to expose their wrongdoings, incompetence and mismanagement, and not to want to answer for them.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dr Chua Soi Lek Insults Voters

Soi Lek risks votes with audit report gaffe
By Clara Chooi
Assistant News Editor October 19, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 19 — Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek displayed ignorance and insulted the intelligence of Malaysians when he said the Auditor-General’s Report would not affect Barisan Nasional’s (BN) electoral support, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lawmakers have charged.

The lawmakers said Dr Chua was underestimating today’s electorate and reminded the MCA president that the BN-led administration no longer has a monopoly on the dissemination of information to the masses.

On the flip side, they agreed that Dr Chua’s assertion would only serve the opposition well in the coming polls as if all BN leaders were of the same thinking, it was clear that they have failed to take cognisance of their past failures.

DAP publicity secretary Tony Pua reminded Dr Chua (picture) of the Election 2008 results, where BN and particularly the MCA had suffered its worst electoral losses to date, even losing five states and its coveted two-thirds parliamentary majority to PR.

“The times have changed,” the Petaling Jaya Utara MP told Dr Chua. “The MSM (mainstream media) no longer has a monopoly over information, and the reported abuses tabled by the A-G can easily and quickly reach the ears of the voters... sentiments change quickly as witnessed in 2008.

“Hence the fact that CSL (Soi Lek) can still think that the AG report is trivial and a mere temporary distraction only proves that MCA has elected for themselves a leader who is trapped in the past, and a complete inability to connect and relate to the voters of today,” he told The Malaysian Insider over Blackberry Messenger.

For the full story on The Malaysian Insider, click here.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Ismail Sabri Called Me "Bacul"

Barisan Nasional Ministers will stoop to calling names when Pakatan Rakyat exposed their failure to carry out their responsibilities competently, without fear or favour

I read with great amusement that the Minister of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism, Datuk Ismail Sabri called me a "bacul" or coward for submitting a motion to deduct RM10 from his pay to be debated in Parlaiment in the coming weeks.

Datuk Ismail Sabri denied he practised selective prosecution when he chose to persecute Suara Initiatif Sdn Bhd (Suaram) on dubious and unsubstantiated allegations while at the same time allowing Umno-linked companies to violate the Companies' Act 1965 for failing to submit their financial accounts and annual returns, some since 2006.

The fact that these companies failed to submit their accounts for years with absolutely no action taken has never been denied and the proof is available on the website of Companies Commission of Malaysia, under Datuk Ismail's purview.

Even when pressed by MP for Lembah Pantai, Nurul Izzah Anwar in Parliament yesterday during the winding up of the Budget policy stage debate, the Minister had dithered on whether concrete action will be taken against the directors of these companies which flouted the law, including UMNO Members of Parliament, Khairy Jamaluddin and Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan, as well as the family members of Datuk Shahrizat Jalil.

However he had the cheek to tell the media, "I hope that Tony Pua will meet me, and he can teach me about procedures. I do not know whether he's a lawyer or not, but if he is not a lawyer, perhaps I can help him to understand the Companies Act 1965."

The Companies Act requirement for financial accounts and annual returns to be submitted annually is understood by all in Malaysia and do not require any "lessons" from the Minister.  These offences are clear breached of Section 169A of the Companies Act, which carries the penalty 5 years in prison and/or RM30,000.

What justifies the motion I had submitted is the damning findings by the recently released Auditor General's Report where the CCM has failed to prosecute directors which have been fined millions of ringgit.  In addition, the prosecution rate was only only 1.5 percent or RM8.59 million worth in compound fines, out of a total of RM554.94 million worth of uncollected compounds in Kuala Lumpur.

The Auditor General also listed an example where  a director who registered a whopping 683 companies and chalked up 135 compounds for a total of RM640,000 in fines without any further actions was taken.

In four other similar cases, the company directors had between 85 and 135 compound fines issued against them, amounting to between RM640,000 and RM490,000 in fines.  Despite the huge sum of compound fines due, the report said, these directors were still actively registering new companies, and without any hurdle.

Hence there is absolutely no necessity to meet the Minister, although I will be more than happy to meet him if he makes the request.  All the Minister needs to do really is to charge and prosecute all companies, including all the cited Umno-linked companies without fear or favour.

Otherwise, Datuk Ismail Sabri has clearly abused his powers to selectively prosecute Suara Inisiatif Sdn Bhd (Suaram) to serve Barisan Nasional’s political agenda.  Under such circumstances, a motion to deduct RM10 from the Minister’s pay is certainly more than justified.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Mindef - Incorrigible Culprit in Auditor General's Report

The Minister of Defence must be answerable for the incorrigible and repeated breaches discovered by the Auditor-General on an annual basis

It no longer comes as a surprise that the Ministry of Defence is one of the biggest culprits found by the annual Auditor General Report for bad governance in its procurement and projects resulting in billions, if not billions of ringgit of losses to the Malaysian Government.

For consecutive years, the Auditor-General has discovered inexcusable practices of incompetency, mismanagement and possibly collusion or corruption with unscrupulous suppliers and contractors.  They have included maggots and expired food served to our army,

In the report for 2010 for example, the Auditor-General found that the maintenance contracts for the aged AGSVs did not have the necessary expertise to repair the vehicles and late penalties were not meted out to these contractors when they failed to repair the vehicles within the necessary time frame.

The Auditor-General had also criticised the “improper payments” of allowance to the Territorial Reserve Army personnel who according to the records, did not attend the relevant training. He had even recommended that the relevant officers be punished via “surcharge” as permitted under Section 18(b) of the Akta Tatacara Kewangan 1957.

Similarly in 2009, one of the biggest scandal exposed was the construction of a new RM256 million Skudai 7th Brigade Army Camp which was awarded in 1997 but has only achieved 18.3% completion.  This was despite the fact that the contractor, Kausar Corporation has collected their construction fees in full via a land swap deal where the company was already given the ownership of a 153 hectares piece of land.

Kausar was able to pledge this piece of land to a bank for the amount of RM465 million showing that the land which could be worth as much as RM800 million, which is well above the cost of construction of the camp.  Despite the above, to date no action to date has been taken against the developer, including terminating the contract, charging late penalties or reclaiming the land which has been awarded to them.

In the latest Auditor-General Report, the Ministry of Defence has among the transgressions cited, awarded 12 contracts to build living quarters for married military personnel has not only incurred a cost overrun of 84%.  Instead of costing RM1.74 billion, the Ministry paid RM3.21 billion, despite the delivery of shoddy units.  The most glaring aspect of the above lapse, is the fact that only 1 of the 12 contracts was awarded via open tender.

All these offenses are on top of the multi-billion ringgit scandals which have been exposed to date, including the “commissions” paid for the acquisition of Scorpene submarines amounting to more than RM600 million, the increase in the cost of acquiring 6 naval patrol vessels from RM6 billion to RM9 billion or the purchase of 257 armoured personnel vehicles for RM7.55 billion from DRB-Hicom when the latter procured these units, less certain accessories and system software from a Turkish defence company for only RM1.7 billion.

The was also the questionable deal involving the acquisition of 12 “customised” Eurocopters for RM2.3 billion or RM192 million each, when Brazil was able to procure the same helicopter, presumably “uncustomised”, for only RM82 million each.  Even the Johor Sultan has chipped in with the criticism that the Ministry of Defence has acquired four Rapid Intervention Vehicles (RIV) for RM2.76mil or RM690,000 each by the Ministry of Defence despite the fact that the Sultan was able to procure a better vehicle for only RM150,000.
Despite the above, the Defence Minister, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was only concerned that “the opposition's action aimed at gaining public support for their own political interest could undermine the image of Malaysia's defence among the international community,” as reported in the media on 14 October.

The Minister has expressed regret over the opposition using the issue for “political expediency as the general election is approaching, without considering the implications.”

The Minister of Defence must not attempt to sweep all the multi-billion ringgit scandals under his watch under the carpet by citing the fear that it will “undermine the image of Malaysia’s defence” or question “the capability of our armed forces”.

In fact, what we have harped on continuously over these scandals are specifically to raise the capability of our armed forces to ensure that they are better trained and equipped to secure our borders.  Had the above procurements be conducted with billions of ringgit of savings via open and transparent processes, without wastages, mismanagement and astronomical profits for the suppliers, the same billions of ringgit could have been utilised to acquire even more defence equipment for the army, navy and air force.

Given the flagrant breaches in the Ministry of Defence, we repeat our call to the Ministry of Defence to set up a Parliamentary Oversight Committee into Defence Procurement to ensure that our defence personnel will not be shortchanged and to ensure that every sen of our tax-payers’ monies are properly spent.  We call upon the Minister to keep his promise to “consider” the above proposal at our meeting held in January this year.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pay Cut Motion for Minister of Domestic Trade

I have filed today a motion to deduct the remuneration of Minister of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism by RM10.

As highlighted in my earlier press statements, the Minister Datuk Ismail Sabri has abused his powers to selectively prosecute Suara Inisiatif Sdn Bhd (Suaram) to serve Barisan Nasional’s political agenda.  The Minister has used the Companies Comission of Malaysia (CCM) to go on a fishing trip to “investigate” an unsubstantiated “misleading accounts” allegation.

On the other hand he has failed to take any against the list of 5 Umno-linked companies we have cited which clearly failed to submit their financial accounts on a timely manner, some since 2007.  The companies and their directors, including Umno Members of Parliament, Khairy Jamaluddin and Abdul Rahman Dahlan, are listed below.  We are convinced that there are perhaps hundreds of other companies which have blatantly flouted the Companies Act 1965 with little or no action taken by CCM.

In fact, the decision to file the above motion is further justified by the findings of the Auditor-General Report which highlighted that the CCM failed to go after directors who owed more than half a million ringgit in compound fines.

An example listed in the report is that of a director who registered a whopping 683 companies and chalked up 135 compounds for a total of RM640,000 in fines, but no action was taken.

The report also listed out four other similar cases where company directors had between 85 and 135 compound fines issued against them, amounting to between RM640,000 and RM490,000 in fines.

Despite the huge sum of compound fines due, the report said, these directors were still actively registering new companies, and without any hurdle.

The irony of the Suaram persecution is the criticism by the Auditor-General that the numbers of cases referred to the prosecution department of CCM were very low.  The cases referred by the KL branch for prosecution came to only 1.5 percent or RM8.59 million worth in compound fines, out of a total of RM554.94 million worth of uncollected compounds.

The Minister must hence answer in Parliament to the sheer lack of competence in the administration of Companies Commission of Malaysia.  Datuk Ismail Sabri must answer to Malaysians why the Umno-linked companies have never been prosecuted by the authorities despite blatant breaches of the law, and yet the Government is seeking to persecute Suaram with highly dubious and unsubstantiated allegations of “misleading accounts”.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Forum: Economic Vision for Malaysia

THE Chevening Alumni of Malaysia will be hosting a public forum on "Vision for Economic Development for Malaysia" on October 17.

They are:

  • Khairy Jamaluddin, MP for Rembau
  • Tony Pua, MP for Petaling Jaya Utara
  • Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj, MP for Sungai Siput

Details of the forum are as follows:
Date:     Wednesday, October 17
Time:     7.45-10.00pm (Dinner will be served from 6.45pm)
Venue:   Auditorium (2nd Floor, Menara), Bangunan Getah Asli, 148 Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur (opposite KLCC)
Admission is free!  Please register with with your name and contact details if you would like to attend the forum.

See you there! ;-)

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Cheaper Cars: Fantasy or Reality?

BN, Pakatan spar over car prices
Nigel Aw
11:55AM Oct 11, 2012

The issue of cheaper cars heated up yesterday as the topic dominated a budget forum between Barisan Nasional's Kota Belud MP Abdul Rahman Dahlan and Pakatan Rakyat's Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua.

Pua (left), who began by comparing Pakatan's shadow budget with the federal budget, pointed out that the former focussed on increasing disposable income rather than providing one-off assistance.

"Most households have a median income of between RM1,500 to RM2,500 only. We looked at what is their largest monthly expenses and it was paying for car loan. Just a Myvi may cost RM600 to RM700 a month.

"If we reduce excise tax by 20 percent - we start with 20 percent first or the second-hand car industry may collapse - households can save RM70 to RM100 a month, that's a saving of RM1,000 per year," he told the forum in Shah Alam last night.

Adding on, Pua said the second highest expense was for housing loan, and on top of building more affordable housing, Pakatan will go a step further than BN by also breaking up the monopoly in the cement and steel sectors to make building materials cheaper.

'Contradiction of the highest degree'

However, Abdul Rahman accused Pakatan of taking on the issue in "silo" by failing to consider the myriad of issues that would also be impacted from the reduction of car prices.

"If you close a hole here then another hole will open up there. For example, you have not explained how you are going to solve the petrol subsidy problem when cars flood Klang Valley (and consume more petrol).

“I am also not confident that reducing excise duty will help reduce car prices... If excise duty goes down, cars like Honda may still maintain their prices because there is demand in Malaysia," he said.

He added that even though car prices in Malaysia were more costly, other related expenses such as petrol, insurance and road tax were still among the relatively cheap.

Abdul Rahman (right) also blasted Pakatan for wanting to make Kuala Lumpur a liveable city but concurrently would allow large number of vehicles to flood the city with cheaper cars.

"This is a contradiction of the highest degree," he said.

Responding to this, Pua pointed out that the car to population ratio had already exceeded one to one.

"Even if we make cars cheaper, there would be no marked increase because a person can only drive one car at a time, no one can drive two at a time and the maximum number of cars are already on the road," he said.

Improve public transportation first

He added that Pakatan planned to increase the number of buses in Klang Valley by the thousands to compliment the MRT system that is being constructed.

Abdul Rahman rebutted the argument that car numbers would not significantly increase, stating that this was merely an assumption.

"There are many people using buses and LRT, this means many people in Klang Valley still do not have a vehicle," he said.

To this, Pua replied that the public would still opt for public transport even if they have their own vehicles to get to work and a car was mostly for family leisure.

"It is not that anyone who starts work wants to buy a car, some people buy a car because they have no choice, or else they cannot go to work," he said.

He added that only after people have a real choice between public and private transport, after the former is adequately improved, considerations could be made to slash petrol subsidies.

Another panellist at the forum was Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) chief executive officer Wan Saiful Wan Jan and the session was moderated by Universiti Islam Antarabangsa (UIA) lecturer Maszlee Malik.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Home Ministry Hides Crime Stats

‘Not suitable’ to reveal detailed crime stats, says Home Ministry
By Clara Chooi October 11, 2012

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 11 — Putrajaya has refused a lawmaker’s request to release to Parliament a breakdown of the country’s crime statistics, saying it was “not suitable” to disclose details according to the various crime categories.

In a written reply released today to a question from DAP MP Tony Pua yesterday, the Home Ministry told the lawmaker that it was “more relevant” to reveal details of the country’s index crime cases as it has a more significant impact on public safety.

“For your information, there are hundreds of different categories of crimes recorded under the Royal Malaysian Police’s (RMP) statistics annually, which include both index and non-index crimes.

“Therefore, the ministry is of the view that it is not plausible to present the detailed statistics for each crime category according to the various districts in Selangor and all states,” the ministry said.

Pua had asked Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein to state the reasons why his ministry was yet to disclose a detailed schedule on annual crime statistics according to crime categories and districts in Selangor and all states.

“It is more relevant to release the number of index crime cases as they have a more significant impact on public safety.

“The number of index crime cases for Selangor and the country were released to Yang Berhormat through written reply in the first parliamentary meeting this year,” the ministry replied.

Speaking at a press conference here, Pua railed against the ministry for its reply, saying the government was duty bound to release the details to any parliamentarian.

“This is clearly a show of disrespect to the Dewan Rakyat,” he said.

“Even if I had asked for the number of cows there are in the country, they should furnish a reply if they have the details.”

The DAP publicity secretary repeated accusations by fellow opposition lawmakers that the government was attempting to paint a false picture of the country’s crime rate, hoping to calm public fears.

“This shows they are hiding something. The government has been claiming that index crime statistics show that the rate has dipped over the past three years... but then again, non-index crime has increased.

“This is what I wanted to prove but I wanted the detailed statistics.”

For the full story on The Malaysian Insider, click here.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Why EU-banned Lion Air Given License in Malaysia?

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on Tuesday announced the setting up of a new low-cost airline known as Malindo Airways.

Najib had said that the airline was “borne out of a collaboration between National Aerospace and Defence Industries Sdn Bhd (Nadi) and Indonesia's PT Lion Group”, and would begin operations on May 1 next year and be based in KLIA 2.

We would like to question the basis the Prime Minister for awarding the the airline license to Malindo, given the many questionable circumstances surrounding both the joint-venture partners of the airlines.

Firstly, as exposed earlier, Nadi has not even filed their audited accounts since December 2007. On that basis alone, the any application for an airline license must be rejected outright as no company who has failed to file their accounts could possibly be trusted to securely finance a capital intensive airline company.

Secondly, any airline before being granted license must have been thoroughly vetted to ensure that they have complied with the most stringent global safety requirements.

Given that Nadi have zero experience in operating an airline, we can only assume that the main airline operating partner is PT Lion Group which runs Lion Mentari Air in Indonesia and the latter is seeking to expand its presence into Malaysia.

Is the Prime Minister aware that Lion Mentari Air is subject to a complete ban in the European Union because of “safety concerns due to alleged poor maintenance and regulatory oversight standards on the part of the EU, preventing them from entering the airspace of any member state”.  [The complete list of globally banned airlines are available here]

In fact, Lion Air ran into numerous problems with the Indonesian government regularly over safety issues.

As recent as early this year, many Lion Air pilots were caught for drug use. In January 2012, the Indonesian Transportation Ministry said that it sanctioned Lion Air because some of its pilots and crew members were found in recent months to be in possession of crystal methamphetamine.

In late 2011 Muhammad Nasri along with two other co-pilots were arrested at a party in Tangerang; and in early 2012 a pilot was caught in possession of crystal meth in Makassar. On 4 February 2012, another pilot of Lion Air was arrested following an positive urinalysis test for use of methamphetamine.

In July 2011, Lion Air had to ground 13 planes due to sanction caused by bad on-time performance (OTP). The Indonesian transportation ministry recorded that Lion Air's OTP of 66.45 percent was the worst of six airlines in an assessment conducted from January to April 2011 at 24 airports in Indonesia.

Lion Air also had numerous accidents before that –

  • November 2010, Lion Air Flight 712 overran the runway on landing at Supadio Airport, Pontianak, coming to rest on its belly and sustaining damage to its nose gear.  
  • December 2006, Lion Air Flight 792 landed hard and skidded along the runway causing the right main landing gear to detach, the left gear to protrude through the wing and some of the aircraft fuselage to be wrinkled. No one was killed but the aircraft was written off.
  • March 2006, Lion Air Flight 8987, crashed after landing at Juanda International Airport.

All of the above incidents and many more before that are publicly available information from Aviation Safety Network.

We are completely for a more competitive airline industry in Malaysia. We strongly believe that with real competition, the ultimate beneficiaries are the Malaysians at large, who will receive better quality services at significantly lower prices.

The question is whether the Prime Minister had done his due diligence in awarding the new airline license to Malindo.  There is genuine concern over the financial integrity and credibility of a company which has failed to submit audited accounts over the past 5 years as well as the operational credibility of Lion Air in ensuring an efficient and most importantly safety of our passengers.

Hence the Prime Minister must explain why was the license awarded to Malindo in such haste, and what was the basis of the award.

KLIA2 Cost Now RM4 billion

No guarantee KLIA2 cost won't balloon further
Nigel Aw 4:43PM Oct 8, 2012

Despite the massive cost overruns and delays to the new low cost terminal KLIA2, the Transport Ministry today did not provide assurance that the project would be finished on time, and without further cost.

"At the end of last year the cost was RM3.6 billion to RM3.9 billion, now it has clearly exceeded this at RM4 billion.

"Even the deputy minister (of transport Abdul Rahim Bakri) did not appear confident that it will be completed on time at the estimated cost," Petaling Jaya MP Tony Pua (left) told a press conference at the Parliament lobby this morning.

Pua was commenting on Abdul Rahim's reply to his question in the house earlier on whether KLIA2 will be completed on time.

Abdul Rahim, in his response, said the latest estimated cost of KLIA2 now stood at RM4 billion from the initial estimated of RM1.7billion when the project commenced in 2009.

"For now, based on the commitment given by the contractors - this information is given to me by the MAHB (Malaysian Airports Holdings Berhad), so if they give me this I must accept as it is because I'm representing the government - they said they can complete it according to schedule," Abdul Rahim said.

He added that the project was ahead of time at 61.9 percent completion compared to the 56.9 percent required in the schedule.

'Delayed, but ahead of time'

At this, Pua took the deputy minister to task for misleading statements.

"Ahead of schedule is confusing, this project was supposed to be completed in 2011, then it became 2012 and now April 2013," he said.

Acknowledging this, Abdul Rahim (right) clarified that he meant "ahead of schedule" in terms of the revised time frame for KLIA2's completion for April 2013.

Abdul Rahim explained the drastic increase in cost was due to various upgrades to KLIA2 to meet future demands of the airline industry.

"These upgrades are for the comfort of passengers and to allow the low cost carrier industry to grow. When we do such infrastructure, it is not for the needs of today but for future needs," he said.

He added that despite the ballooning cost, it was not being paid by the government.

"This does not involve government money, MAHB is getting its own sukuk bond where they have to pay according to their revenue," he said.

For the full story on Malaysiakini, click here!

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Why is RM386m exclusive for KR1M?

Datuk Ismail Sabri has yet to respond why the RM386 million allocated to reduce the prices of goods in Sabah and Sarawak is channelled exclusively to Mydin through the setting up of Kedai Rakyat 1Malaysia (KR1M)

The Prime Minister proudly announced that the Federal Government will allocate RM386 million to set up 57 Kedai Rakyat 1Malaysia (KR1M) next year to “ensure the prices of essential goods in Sabah and Sarawak as well as in Labuan are sold at lower prices”.

We have criticised the above plan as being extremely expensive costing a whopping RM6.77 million each store.  This is in contrast to the RM40 million allocated in the 2012 Budget in the previous year, which averages RM471,000 each of the 85 stores.

Ministers of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism, Datuk Ismail Sabri has responded last Friday that the government only allocated RM87 million to build the 57 shops in the three states [Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan].

The balance of the RM299 million allocated is to cover “the overall cost for the initiative, including the cost of delivery and distribution of products…. [taking] into consideration the price uniformity programme between the peninsula and Sabah and Sarawak.”

The replies by Datuk Ismail Sabri does not in any way reply the original questions as to why Mydin will receive exclusive benefits from the Budget 2013 amounting to RM386 million.

Firstly, the allocation of RM87 million to set up 57 shops till cost RM1.53 million for each store on average.  Why is the setting up of a retail store selling basic goods and necessities so expensive even after taking into account the higher cost involved in Sabah and Sarawak?  This is especially since we have previously alloacted only RM471,000 for each store.

Secondly, the balance of the RM299 million mean for the “cost of delivery and distribution” is essentially a subsidy on the goods to be sold in KR1M.  For 57 outlets, that works out to a whopping RM5.25 million of subsidies for each store!

In fact the RM299 million of subsidy to Mydin exceeds the RM278 million sugar subsidy budgeted for the entire country for 2013!

The question remains as to why is it that this benefit will not be extended to all other shops in Sabah and Sarawak offering these “basic necessities”?

In fact, since the RM386 million grant and/or subsidy is given only to Mydin, the Government is in effect killing off all of Mydin’s competitors – from big hypermarkets to small mom-and-pop shops.  Mydin will have the monopolistic right to sell certain products at substantially cheaper prices than its competitors due to the exclusive RM386 million from the Federal Government.

We call upon the Government to make available the RM386 million all small retail outlets already in existence throughout Sabah and Sarawak to ensure that the maximum number of retailers and consumers will benefit from the programme to sell basic necessities at lower prices.  There is absolutely no need for the Government to sponsor its crony to open up new shops in these areas to compete unfairly and kill of local shop-owners.

We are in complete support of any measure by the Government to reduce the prices of goods and services in East Malaysia, especially over the longer term to ease the burden of Malaysians living in these states.

However, we are disgusted by the fact that even in a programme ostensibly designed to lower the cost of living of the poor, the Barisan Nasional Government chosen a mechanism to profit its cronies at the expense of the man-on-the-street. The approach taken by Datuk Seri Najib Razak is clearly designed to profit only Mydin Mohamed Holdings Bhd as the allocation goes direct to the company to set up these stores.

Dr Mahathir Senile or Scheming?

Pakatan: We don't even know George Soros
Nigel Aw
1:33PM Oct 8, 2012

Pakatan Rakyat MPs have rubbished former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad's claim that a vote for the opposition would be akin to a vote for billionaire and former currency speculator George Soros.

"I don't want to involve the former premier because he is no longer relevant in our politics, but the words are those of someone who is senile,”  Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua told a press conference at the Parliament lobby this morning.

"We have no relationship whatsoever with George Soros. We don't know George Soros."

He said Pakatan has no Jewish agenda and that it, like the government, has always been supportive of the Palestinian struggle and against Israeli oppression of the state.

In a commentary published in the New Sunday Times yesterday, Mahathir had warned that voting for the opposition would be like voting for Soros, who he claimed was attempting to colonise Malaysia.

Pua also hit out at Mahathir for double standards on the matter.

"When Mahathir met Soros, he shook his hand and asked him to support his organisation (the Perdana Global Peace Foundation) to combat war crimes.

"When he asks for Soros' help, there was no problem. But when people vote for Pakatan, that's a ‘vote for Soros’ - there is no logic in this.”

For the full story on Malaysiakini, click here.