Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Deputy Election Commission Chairman An Ignoramus

Despite an overwhelming result where 92% of Malaysians survey by Merdeka Centre wants the electoral roll “cleaned” before the next general elections, EC Deputy Chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar has dismissed it as “trivial”.

When contacted by Malaysiakini, he claimed that the survey respondents were essentially ignorant and hence “might not know what they are talking about”.

He further insulted those who responded by saying that “it would be better if Merdeka Centre had surveyed voters who had just cast their ballots, rather than asking rempits from the side of the road”, as reported on The Malaysian Insider.

The sheer arrogance of the Election Commission proves that it has not desire of implementing free and fair elections in Malaysia and public opinion, no matter how negative, does not move them.  Instead, the Deputy EC Chairman had alluded that the respondents were randomly picked from the streets or “rempits from the side of the road”.

In fact, the comments from Datuk Wan Ahmad demonstrate that he is the ignoramous, and not the Malaysian public who participated in the Merdeka Center survey.  That is because he had made the scornful comments without first having read the actual survey itself!  And if he did, he obviously could not understand the survey or survey methodologies.

It was clear from the survey results that Merdeka Centre has taken pains to select voters “through random stratified sampling method along the lines of ethnicity, gender, age and state”.  They were certainly not randomly picked from the streets.  The survey margin of error estimated at ±3.07%

Datuk Wan Ahmad’s suggestion that these were mostly first time voters who did not know the law is also ignorant because only 22% of the sample is under the age of 30, which meant that the overwhelming majority of the sample respondents would have voted at least twice in their lives.

The fact that the EC is refusing to even investigate the survey results, as to why only 44% of Malaysians believed that our electoral system is free from irregularities also emphasizes the fact that the Commission is only interested in ensuring an unequal election system and campaign platform to rob Malaysians of their rightful choice.

It is clear that Malaysians have lost faith in the EC to carry out free and fair elections.  The Chairman and his Deputy of the EC, who are also members of Umno, have become biggest impediments to the transformation of our Malaysian electoral process.  It is also clear that they are in connivance with the Prime Minister, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak to ensure that whatever “reforms” executed will not remove the ability of UMNO and Barisan Nasional to win through cheating and fraud.

As a result, DAP and the Pakatan Rakyat component parties will continue to support the demands by Bersih for free and fair elections, justified with very strong empirical evidence from the Merdeka Centre survey.  We also call upon the EC chairman and his deputy to resign from their current positions for failing in their constitutional duties to ensure a clean, free and fair election system for Malaysians, and for acting as stooges of the Barisan Nasional government.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Survey Proves Malaysians Have No Faith in Najib's Political Transformation

Merdeka Center’s latest survey results gives damning evidence that the people has lost faith in the country’s electoral system, despite the “best effort” by the Prime Minister, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak to set a transformation agenda.

The results clearly showed that Malaysians have very little confidence in the half-hearted steps taken by the Prime Minister which was intended to give a better perception of our electoral process.

Only 44% of Malaysians surveyed were “confident” that the electoral process was free from irregularity despite the Election Commission’s repeated insistence that our electoral roll is “the cleanest in the world”.  Even so, only 5% of those surveyed did not think that an electoral roll clean-up before the next general election was necessary, while a whopping 92% thought a clean-up exercise is necessary.

Among the key reforms sought by Bersih was the abolishment of postal voting, and this was supported by the survey outcome where only 37% thought it was “transparent and free from political interference”. The Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on electoral reforms had in the last sitting agreed to amend the postal vote system for the army into an early-voting system, but at the same time added some 300,000 names to the postal voter list.

The distrust of the PSC can be seen from the results which showed that only 34% thought it was “a sincere effort” from the BN government “to reform” while 43% thought it was an “attempt to cover up or divert public attention”.

Similarly 81% of Peninsula Malaysians support the call for a Royal Commission of Inquiry on the Sabah illegal immigrants issue, but the Prime Minister has chosen to ignore the demand from the people.

From the data which was collected before hundreds of thousands of Malaysians poured onto the streets of Kuala Lumpur to demonstrate and demand for free and fair elections, it proves beyond doubt that the “political transformation programme” commenced since Merdeka celebrations last year has failed to move Malaysians.

The result also fully justified why it was necessary for Bersih to take to streets despite being denied the opportunity to gather peacefully in Merdeka Square to demand free and fair elections for all Malaysians.

We call upon the Prime Minister to go the whole nine yards in real political and electoral reforms.  The people does not want to see Dato’ Seri Najib put in place some pseudo-reforms which are in effect “1 step forward and 2 steps backward” type of new regulations.

The Prime Minister will have the opportunity to pass new laws seeking a full transformation of the electoral process when the Parliament commences its sitting on 11 June before dissolving it for the next General Election. Without true and thorough reforms from Dato’ Seri Najib, he will fail to win legitimacy even if he were to win the vote count in the 13th General Election as he will be seen as having won the elections through cheating and fraud, instead of via the support of the people.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Kong Cho Ha More Interested in Car Number Plates

Dato’ Seri Kong Cho Ha might very well be the most incompetent Transport Minister ever for failing to protect and defend public interest over multi-billion ringgit scandals happening right under his nose.   Instead, he chooses to hold multiple press conferences to announce record-breaking bids made for auctioned “WWW” car number plates which raised RM11.3 million in revenue for the Government, as reported by Bernama yesterday.

The Transport Minister has not provided answers nor has he reigned in the scandals which are happening right under his nose.  Instead, he has chosen to place the blame on others and claimed the scandals were not his responsibility.

For example, the cost of the new “low cost terminal” KLIA2 had increased drastically from the originally estimated RM1.7 billion in 2007 to RM3.9 billion last year.  The change in the site of KLIA2 has caused the cost of construction to bloat because the new spot was already identified as unsuitable for the construction of an airport due to it being a peat swamp.  Despite the RM2.2 billion cost overrun to date, Dato’ Seri Kong had the cheek to tell the media that “I don’t have much to answer because the decision was not made by MOT”.

In the case of the burgeoning Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal, Dato’ Seri Kong, who is also MCA Secretary-General had directed that payments be continued to be made to the bondholders of Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd (KDSB).  This is despite the fact that the Port Klang Authority has sued KDSB, owned by Barisan Nasional Backbencher Chairman (BNBBC) Dato’ Seri Tiong King Sing for the amount of RM1.6 billion for excessive and fraudulent claims.

Despite clearly being the Minister responsible to protect the rakyat’s interest, he pointed fingers at the PKA, saying that “…if PKA says that we pay although they have asked to stop the payments, but every time the figure to be paid is on advice from the PKA… The PKA actually advises us on what is the amount outstanding.”

More recently, the Business Times has earlier this week reported that MMC-Gamuda is due to submit a RM1.5 billion variation order to the government for cost overruns in the Ipoh-Padang Besar Electrified Double Track (EDTP).  Despite a subsequent denial from MMC-Gamuda, they admitted that it will be seeking claims for “expenses and losses” caused by the government.

The value of the EDTP is worth RM12.49 billion and an increase of RM1.5 billion will mean a significant 12% increase in the cost of the project.  These additional claims has raised fears and concerns that the Ipoh-Padang Besar stretch of the EDTP will suffer the same fate as the Ipoh-Rawang segment where the cost of the project increased from RM4.2 billion to RM6.6 billion, or by more than 50%.

However, the Transport Minister has remained irresponsibly silent on the above matter, asking instead for the contract to provide clarification to the public.

Malaysians want their Transport Minister to take control of the situation and demonstrate leadership to ensure that billions of ringgit of tax-payers’ monies are not abused and wasted.  We do not want a Transport Minister who takes the very first opportunity to shift responsibility and blame, especially by asking an interested party like the EDTP contractor to answer to the public instead.

Malaysians do not need a Transport Minister who is only interested in reporting to us how much the WWW1 number plate was auctioned for RM520,000; instead of resolving and bringing to book the people responsible for the RM3.9 billion KLIA2 scandal, RM12.5 Port Klang Free Zone fiasco or the impending cost overrun for the RM12.5 billion EDTP project.

It is high time for Datuk Seri Najib to demonstrate his seriousness about transformation by disposing of incompetent Ministers and appointing only those who are not only able, but has the interest of the people at heart.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Khairy Claims Tajuddin Paid Up Outstanding Debt to Government

Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin has claimed in his debate with PKR Director fo Strategy Rafizi Ramli 2 days ago that he is “certain that Danaharta didn't incur losses in the Tan Sri Tajudin Ramli case”.

In fact, the Umno Youth chief cited “sources” claimed that Tajudin may have even paid more than the amount owing, as a result of the undisclosed out-of-court settlement.

“We don't know the outcome as it was done out of court. (The opposition) says Tajuddin need not pay, but they don't say that maybe the settlement involved paying part of the debt or maybe more than the RM500 million owed.”

Khairy’s claim is completely unbelievable and lacks all credibility given the clandestine manner in which the Government has sought to cover up the entire episode and the refusal of any Minister to confirm or deny the claim that Danaharta had in fact written off all Tajuddin’s debt.

Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office had in November last year directed all Government-Linked Companies (GLCs) to withdraw all civil suits against former MAS owner and chairman, Tan Sri Tajuddin Ramli.  He wrote that “the government of Malaysia and the Finance Ministry has agreed to settle all civil claims against Tan Sri Tajuddin Ramli and others to be withdrawn immediately in view of the fact that the government and the Finance Ministry have agreed that the said cases will be settled out of court.”

The High Court had in December 2009 rule in favour of Danaharta and its two subsidiaries on the on the full amount outstanding – RM589.15 million – and had ordered Tajudin to pay an interest of 2% above the base lending rate of Malayan Banking Bhd until the date of full realisation.  The Court had also dismissed Tajudin’s counterclaim to the tune of over RM14 billion excluding damages and cost.

Danaharta’s claims are based on the claims that Tajudin had defaulted on a syndicated loan of RM1.792 billion, which he took in 1994 to acquire the Government’s 32% stake in Malaysian Airlines System (MAS).

Rafizi has rightly sniped that Khairy seems to be answering "as if he is Tajudin's lawyer" when even Cabinet Ministers were unable and unwilling to provide straight answers.

The Prime Minister and Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak must immediately confirm if indeed his UMNO Youth Chief is telling the truth or is lying to the public over the above scandal.  This is especially since it is the first time a BN politician has claimed that Tan Sri Tajuddin paid part or all of his outstanding debt as part of the settlement exercise.

If not, it will only prove that there is a conspiracy to cover up the fact that Danaharta has in effect written off the debt in order to protect BN’s long-time cronies.  It will be clear that under Najib’s administration, the cronies’ interests will be protected at all cost, at the expense of ordinary Malaysians.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Transport Minister Must Clarify Increase in RM12.5 billion Double Tracking Project Cost

The Business Times has reported yesterday that MMC-Gamuda is due to submit a RM1.5 billion variation order to the government for cost overruns in the Ipoh-Padang Besar Electrified Double Track (EDTP).

The report quoted an unnamed source claiming that “the civil works are 70 per cent completed, and the systems side, only 30 per cent. There are still land issues and other unresolved matters on MMC-Gamuda JV’s part.”

However, MMC-Gamuda has subsequently refuted the report, but admitted that it will be seeking claims for “expenses and losses” caused by the government.

Its Project Director, Datuk Paul Ha said that “MMC-Gamuda’s claim will be in accordance with the terms as stated in our contract, but it is too early at this point to even determine the amount and it will be nowhere near RM1.5 billion as stated in the New Straits Times.”

The value of the EDTP is worth RM12.49 billion and an increase of RM1.5 billion will mean a significant 12% increase in the cost of the project.  These additional claims has raised fears and concerns that the Ipoh-Padang Besar stretch of the EDTP will suffer the same fate as the Ipoh-Rawang segment where the cost of the project increased from RM4.2 billion to RM6.6 billion, or by more than 50%.

The Auditor-General has also in its 2009 report criticised the management of the project which involved a mid-term change of contractors – from DRB-Hicom which could not complete the works to MMC-Gamuda.  Despite failing to complete works agreed in the contractual terms, the Government had paid the DRB-Hicom consortium RM425 million as compensation or settlement for the termination of the agreement.  The Auditor-General had queried as to why the Government had not claimed liquidated and ascertained damages (LAD) from DRB-Hicom for failing to carry out its obligations in a time fashion.  The fiasco also resulted in a delay of the Ipoh-Rawang project by more than 5 years.

Therefore to prevent another repeat of the Ipoh-Rawang scandal, the Minister of Transport must explain the truth behind the above contradictory claims to ensure that the contractor, MMC-Gamuda is not attempting to conceal a possible variation order as an excessive “expenses and losses” claim against the Government.

Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha must view the matter seriously to prevent it from becoming the second big cost-overrun scandal under his watch after the new low-cost airport, KLIA2 saw its construction cost balloon from an initial RM1.7 billion to a whopping RM3.9 billion.  He must not become MCA’s most famous “don’t know anything” minister who knows nothing about the projects under his watch.

In fact, to ensure all matters are above board, and to demonstrate the transparency preached by the Prime Minister’s Government Transformation Programme (GTP), the Transport Minister should take the initiative to call upon the Auditor-General’s office to conduct an audit on the project.  Weaknesses identified could then be rectified and the recommendations could be implemented immediately.

We should not wait until the projects are completed at substantially higher costs and delays, before the Auditor-General starts his audit.  By then, like the case of the Ipoh-Rawang EDTP or the RM12.5 billion PKFZ mega-project scandal, it will be too late to prevent the abuse of the tax-payers’ funds.

Monday, May 07, 2012

Najib Should Not Shift the Blame

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak has once again tried to shift the blame over the chaos created by the Police during the Bersih rally to the decision by the Bersih committee to reject the use of Stadium Merdeka as the alternative venue.

Aside from the fact that the venue was only offered to Bersih at the very last minute, there is absolutely not good reason provided by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) for the rejection to use Dataran Merdeka.

As a result of the unreasonable rejection, the assembly participants were forced onto the streets and the police force had to be deployed to barricade and “secure” Dataran Merdeka perimeters.  It became a most ridiculous and ironical situation where the Bersih rally was tacitly allowed on the streets, but they were not allowed to gather on the field!

The Prime Minister had made the mistake of denying Bersih the right to assemble in Stadium Merdeka during the Bersih 2.0 rally in July last year which resulted in chaos in the streets where the Police force had trapped the protestors and even attacked the Tung Shin hospital with tear gas and water cannons.  He has once again made the same mistake of denying Bersih’s request to sit-in Dataran Merdeka which resulted in the unnecessary violence arising from the face-off between the Police, media and Bersih participants.

Dato’ Seri Najib Razak should look at himself in the mirror when he claimed that Bersih has breached the “principles and spirit of the Peaceful Assembly Act”.  It was the Prime Minister himself which failed to understand and embrace the principles and spirit of the Act to allow greater democratic space for expression and assembly by Malaysians.

His actions and denials have proven that that the “political transformation programme” has been a complete failure and was only a cosmetic public relations exercise aimed to lift the Prime Minister’s image and credentials.

Sunday, May 06, 2012

SUHAKAM Can Investigate Violence, Why New Panel?

Dato’ Seri Najib Razak has announced the cabinet decision to set up a special “independent” panel to investigate the various reported abuses and violent conduct by the Police force during the Bersih assembly last week.

Bernama also reported that he is looking for the “right people” to become members of this investigation panel.

The decision to set up a brand new panel to investigate the various claims of abuses is curious, to say the least.  The Government has already set up SUHAKAM under the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act 1999 which includes among its roles and responsibilities, inquiries into complaints regarding infringements of human rights.

The Commission under section 4(2) also has the power to “advise the Government and/or relevant authorities of complaints against them and to recommend appropriate measures to be taken”.

The Commission is headed today by Tan Sri Hasmy Agam. Other commissioners include Professor Dr Khaw Lake Tee, En. Mohd Sha’ani Abdullah, Professor Datuk Dr Mahmud Zuhdi Majid and Mr James Nagayam. These Commissioners have been appointed by Yang Di-Pertuan Agong on the recommendation of the Prime Minister to uphold human rights in the country.

Therefore why is it that SUHAKAM has been marginalised when it comes to the investigation of outright human rights abuses by the police force?  Why is there a need for the Prime Minister to set up a new “independent” committee which will require a fresh set up and selection of new panel members?  Is it because the Cabinet is worried that SUHAKAM findings will be detrimental to both the police force and the Government, and hence Dato’ Seri Najib is attempting to set up a new panel which will be more “sympathetic” towards the Government’s cause?

We call upon the Prime Minister to stop dragging his feet over the outrageous abuses and violence by police officers against journalists and ordinary Malaysians during the Bersih assembly.

Scores of Malaysians have been beaten up by these officers for no apparent reason, causing many serious injuries.  The Sun reporter Radzi Razak for example, fractured his cheekbone and has had his jaw “wired shut” as a result of police brutality.

The Cabinet should immediately appoint SUHAKAM as the independent investigation panel so that Malaysians can get to the bottom of this controversy as soon as possible.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Will the CID Investigate Police Who Broke The Law Too?

Bernama has also separately reported that Bukit Aman Crime Investigation Department director Mohd Bakri Zinin said police would release the pictures of those who attacked the police and members of the public, as well as caused damage to property during the rally.

“We have their pictures and we will release them to the media and the public soon to track them down,” he told reporters at the Bukit Aman police headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

We would like to state that we support all action by the Police to arrest those who have damaged public property and committed violence against police officers during the Bersih rally.

However, the Police cannot act by just arresting the few unruly Bersih participants but not taken immediate actions against scores of its police officers for committing violence against innocent participants and journalists.

In fact, it should be so much easier for the Police to track down all the errant police officers caught beating up innocent Malaysians on video and photographs than to track down Bersih participants.  The crime committed by these police officers is no less than those who damaged public property.

Hence if the Police force is only going after Bersih participants, it will show a clear abuse of power and a great injustice to the innocent Malaysians who were assembling peacefully to uphold their rights.

We call upon the CID to arrest all police officers who were caught on video and photographs clearly committing violence, suspend them during investigation and charge the guilty ones in court for violent conduct and failing to uphold their oath to protect the public.  The CID will only lose the confidence of ordinary Malaysians throughout the country if it shows itself to be biased, and fail to bring the guilty police officers to book.

Friday, May 04, 2012

The Most Insincere IGP Apology

Bernama reported that the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Tan Sri Ismail Omar has apologised to Malay Mail cameraman, Muhammad Arif Kartono for being “roughed up” by the police during the Bersih rally.

Muhammad Arif has testified in the Malay Mail on 30 April that he was hit hard on the head with a baton or a fist causing him to fall to the ground together with his camera.  He had said that “while on the ground, I saw seven to eight police personnel coming towards me. They kicked me in my face and on my legs, and stomped on my back” causing multiple injuries to the head and body.

The IGP reportedly said “The police apologises for the incident. In the chaos of the situation we could not tell the difference between the assembly participants and media”

The above statement is a complete lie and shows that the IGP is still not willing to embrace the truth and take all necessary actions to punish the guilty police officers.

Muhammad Arif has stated very clearly that he has identified himself with his media tag to the policemen who had tried to stop him from taking photos of a Bersih participant being manhandled. Instead, he was attacked ruthlessly and repeatedly despite him crying out “Saya hanya menjalankan tugas. Kenapa saya dibuat macam ini? (I am just doing my job. Why I am being treated like this?)”.

Muhammad Arif was not the only journalist who was a victim to police violence.  All other journalists who were either arrested or beaten up had identified themselves to the police with their media tag.  However the police had ignored the identifications and proceeded to hit these media personnel, destroy their photography equipment and in some cases confiscated their media tags.

Hence the IGP’s statement that the police officers were not able to differentiate between assembly participants and the media” is a complete lie to protect his guilty officers.  His apology is therefore clearly insincere and insufficient; as he should give an unreserved apology to the entire press corp for intimidation and abuse they have suffered as a result of reckless police action.

More importantly, the IGP is implying that had they not been journalists, then it is perfectly alright for the police officers to beat up the Bersih participants, despite the fact that most of them were not fighting the police or damaging public property.  It is an absolute tragedy for this so-called democratic country that our IGP who is supposed to uphold the law and protect ordinary Malaysians see it as completely acceptable for police officers to randomly hit and injure the very people they are sworn to protect.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Najib Must Apologies for Bersih Brutality

More and more victims have coming forward to provide rock solid video evidence as well as witness accounts of clear cut police brutality against both innocent journalists as well as ordinary Malaysians standing up for their rights. It has become clear and undeniable that the police force was on a ruthless rampage to beat people up.

The police force has gone well beyond even Malaysian norms of just using tear gas and water cannons to disperse a peaceful assembly.   Members of the public who participated in the Bersih 3.0 rally who have already dispersed and were having a meal in restaurants were beaten up for wearing yellow shirts. Some who were already in an LRT station to return home were chased, arrested and taken to narrow alleys to be beaten up silly.

In fact, anyone caught by the police force taking pictures of others being beaten up, were also beaten up badly.  It did not matter if some of these individuals were media personnel, local or foreign; or ordinary Malaysians.

Mohd Haijan Omar, who was assigned by Lawyers for Liberty to monitor the event was beaten up by the Police.  If even the officers of the Court are not immune to police brutality, then what chance does an ordinary member of the public has against a police force out of control?

These are not isolated cases of police brutality.  The police force was acting like unrestrained mobsters, often with 10 or more police officers beating up an individual or two.  It will not be an understatement to say that the police were creating a riot in the city.  The very people who were entrusted to protect innocent and ordinary Malaysians were turning on them.

While no Malaysian will blame the police for arresting those who damaged police or public property, such as the single incident of half a dozen people badly damaging a police vehicle, there is absolutely no justification for them to threaten and beat up every person they found in yellow, even if they were participating in the rally earlier.

This is especially since all who were beaten up were assembling peacefully and did not commit any acts of violence or vandalism.  Do the police have a license to beat up any person in the street as they like regardless of whether a crime has been committed?  Has our police force degenerated to become worse than the Gestapo?

The newly gazetted Peaceful Assembly Bill was meant to guarantee our constitutional right to assemble peacefully.  Those who breach public order destroy public property must be dealt with the full force of the law.  However, those who have assembled peacefully have committed no crime, were victimised with shocking ruthlessness and many were wrongfully arrested.

The unprecedented brutality by the police force requires the Prime Minister as well as the Home Minister to give an immediate and public apology to all ordinary Malaysians, especially the innocent journalists and Bersih participants who were wounded and traumatised by a police force gone beserk.

Nothing short of such an apology will be acceptable especially since it was the Prime Minister himself who has denied the Malaysian public to gather peacefully in Dataran Merdeka, which will have prevent any need for the unnecessary face-off with the police force.  The decision by the BN Government is an unmitigated disaster, and Dato’ Seri Najib Razak who portrays himself as a reformist premier must take full responsibility for the Police fiasco.