Thursday, December 17, 2009

MACC can question witnesses after office hours

PUTRAJAYA: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) can interrogate witnesses beyond office hours, the Court of Appeal ruled on Thursday.

Court of Appeal Judge Justice Hasan Lah, who sat together with judges Justice Ahmad Maarop and Justice Syed Ahmad Helmy Syed Ahmad, said the decision was unanimous.

Last month, High Court judge Justice Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof had declared in a landmark ruling that witnesses could only be questioned by MACC from 8.30am to 5.30pm each day.

The ruling was made following a lawsuit brought by Kajang municipal councillor Tan Boon Wah challenging MACC's interrogation procedures.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Health Minister’s wife at MACC, statement on car gift

PUTRAJAYA, Dec 15 — The Health Minister’s wife, Datin Seri Lee Su Loo, came to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) headquarters here today to give her statement over the gift of a RM600,000 car for her, allegedly from a company.

It is understood that Lee arrived at the MACC office at about 10am and left four hours later.

MACC director of investigations Datuk Mohd Shukri Abdull, when contacted, confirmed the matter but declined to elaborate.

A letter published on the Internet on Oct 14 alleged that Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai had given his wife a Toyota Alphard that cost almost RM600,000 as a birthday present in January.

According to the letter, the car was sponsored by a company which won tenders for the ministry’s projects. — Bernama




Najib failed to walk the talk on Chinese schools

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 15 — It was pointless for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to sing praises of independent Chinese schools if he’s not backing it up with concrete action, DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang said today.

Lim told a press conference in Parliament that while Najib proudly declared the independently-financed schools as “national assets”, he has not indicated the federal government’s willingness to “institutionalise support” for them.

The Ipoh Timur MP also said Najib was silent when it comes to recognising the United Examination Certificate, the independent schools’ version of the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examinations used for government schools.

Najib made the statement at the Chong Hwa Independent High School’s 90th anniversary dinner last night. It was given front page coverage by the Chinese press today.

“There was neither announcement of recognition of the Unified Examination Certificate which is recognised by reputable universities worldwide or concrete action..to institutionalise government support and funding for the 60 Chinese independent schools (nationwide),” commented Lim on Najib’s statement.

“It will be most regrettable if all this is just for propaganda to score political points without any political will to translate them into government policies and practices,” added the Ipoh Timur MP.

The opposition, especially the DAP, have long decried the lack of support by the government towards independent schools and many of them believe the reasons behind it are racist and political.

Independent Chinese schools on the other hand have been accused by the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) of being breeding grounds for the opposition but the government denies neglecting them.

Pakatan tones down electoral reforms

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 15 — Pakatan Rakyat (PR) has backtracked on its commitment to electoral reforms as the coalition of three parties tried to seal an agreement on a common policy framework.

The Malaysian Insider understands that the policy framework scheduled to be launched at the PR national convention this weekend will make no commitment to restore local elections, but will merely declare its intention to “strengthen local democracy.”

Such a choice of words was made to appease party leaders who are critical of local government elections and to allow the coalition more options to handle the matter.

According to PR insiders familiar with the policy framework, opposition to local elections by party leaders is not new.

“Some party leaders believe that having local elections will make councillors dependent on the party machinery,” said a PR official who spoke on condition on anonymity.

The opponents of local elections in the federal opposition are also concerned with the “racial composition in major towns”, the administration centre of most local councils.

However, another PR leader denied that the coalition has dropped its commitment to restore the third vote arguing that the framework is merely a blueprint on how PR should move forward and details of policy implementations are not necessary at this point.

“Basically it is a commitment on issues by the three parties, once it has been endorsed, we will come out with the mechanism, on how to handle them,” a PR leader told The Malaysian Insider.

“There is no question of our commitment to local elections... it is a matter of semantics, it is about how we are saying it,” he added.

Since the suspension of local elections in the 1960s, councillors are appointed directly by the state government and this has since turned into a political reward for ruling party officials.

The restoration of local elections is one of the demands made by electoral reforms coalition, Bersih, which PR parties are part of.

In November 2007, the group organised the largest street demonstration in the city in a decade, mobilising some 60,000 protesters to demand for free and fair elections.

The coalition’s effort in mobilising support contributed to Barisan Nasional’s (BN) worst electoral performance in Election 2008, which was held just four months later.


Wednesday, December 9, 2009

PAC says rail project badly-managed

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 9 — The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has found no embezzlement in the double-tracking project, saying bad management has led to cost over-runs of RM1.14 billion.

The cost over-runs came from variation orders (VO) for the turnkey project without the approval from the Treasury.

“We have called up representatives from Transport Ministry, KTM, consultants including contractors that implemented the project. Our focus from PAC was to why there was a cost overrun of RM1.14 billion or 32.9 per cent higher than the original value of the project just reported in the AG report,”PAC chairman Datuk Azmi Khalid told reporters.

“Based on our findings, the PAC could not detect any misappropriation this time, although this project involves a double tracking project, implementation was not tidy and issues that will be raised to the government is to improve the standard operation procedures, complete the checklist properly, and look to whether the design and build could still be used or not,” he told reporters during a press conference in parliament.

According to this year’s audit report, the government may have to bear part of the RM1.14 billion loss in the RM6 billion double-tracking rail contract between Rawang and Ipoh, as the project was poorly managed.

He added that there were weaknesses in all levels of management in the project.

“The most obvious weakness was the delay in acquiring and utilisation of land. The problem was decision from the city halls which required deliberation and approvals. This has caused the project to be delayed which led to the increase in cost,” he said.

Azmi pointed out that the poor planning has incurred the project with unexpected costs.

“This project has two phases, infrastructure and system. The two have to be planned before hand but what happened was that the two was not planned before hand.

“Again there were requirements that were not seen in the earlier part because when you introduce new items it will cost more money. Delayed contracts also cost money to the contractors and suppliers. So there is money everywhere,” he said.

He also revealed that the VO in the double-tracking had cost RM588 million.

“We found that there was a VO of about RM588 million that was approved but not paid by the government and that also caused delay. The contractors have done their work but not yet paid,” he said.

The Rawang to Ipoh (southern) double-tracking and electrification project was completed in 2008, while the Ipoh to Padang Besar portion was proposed in 2002 as a continuation of the existing tracks.

In 2003, former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced that the government had decided to postpone the project, which drew heavy criticism from his predecessor Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

However, the project was revived when then Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced that the Cabinet Committee on Public Transport had decided to revive the shelved northern section double-tracking project in 2007.

The Rawang to Ipoh (southern) double-tracking and electrification project was completed in 2008 while the Ipoh to Padang Besar portion was proposed in 2002 as a continuation of the existing tracks.

The project was awarded to Gamuda Berhad and MMC Corporation Berhad. The major stakeholders of Gamuda and MMC are Raja Datuk Seri Eleena Sultan Azlan Shah and Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary respectively

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Nazri finds another backer in tiff with Dr M

PETALING JAYA, Dec 8 — Gerakan President Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon has supported Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz’s stand that the National Civics Bureau (BTN) should be revamped to be in accordance with the spirit and principles of 1 Malaysia.

Koh who is also the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of Unity and Performance Management, came forward to defend his colleague Nazri.

“The prime minister is aware and this (revamps) was discussed,” he said.

Koh said the thrust of 1 Malaysia as enunciated by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak encompasses acceptance and appreciation of diversity.

“The principle of nationhood according to our constitution and Rukun Negara, as well as justice and fairness for all.

“As 1 Malaysia is clearly all-inclusive, there is no room for any form of racism, extremism and hatred,” said Koh in a statement released today.

He added this principle should be the basis for the training programme to guide the attitude and behaviour of all members of the civil service and university students.

Surprised by the remarks from the Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Koh said that the former prime minister may not be aware of the latest slant in the BTN courses.

Koh himself participated in one such course with other political and corporate leaders in the mid-90s, presided personally by Dr Mahathir.

“The content of the courses emphasised on unity and understanding as well as the need to handle all issues with great care and sensitivity.

“However, recent feedback from participants since last year showed that the BTN course has diverted from its earlier version.

“Participants, including JPA scholars, felt very upset and disheartened,” he said and added that the need to revamp is based on such feedback.

The BTN runs compulsory courses for civil servants and undergraduates and has been accused of promoting hatred and racism by Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders.

The PR-led Selangor government recently imposed a ban on its civil servants and students within its state-run educational institutions from attending BTN courses, while Penang — another PR- governed state — is said to be considering similar action.

But the hawks in Umno, through Malay-based dailies like Berita Harian and Utusan Malaysia, have moved to defend BTN and attacked its critics as “traitors” who are trying to politicise the issue.

On Sunday Mingguan Malaysia urged the government not to “bow down” to the opposition on BTN.

Nazri had said that BTN training modules would be revamped to better reflect the 1 Malaysia concept introduced by Najib.

However, Dr Mahathir has been defending the BTN courses, saying that the criticism against them has been exaggerated.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Negri MB’s RM10m tip of hot money iceberg

KUALA LUMPUR Dec 4 — When aides to the Negri Sembilan mentri besar sent RM10 million to London via a money changer recently, they were just following in the footsteps of many who have sought the hawala system to move ill-gotten gains and wealth to more secure locations.

Apart from flouting exchange laws and possibly the Anti-Money Laundering Act, the trail of money outside the country betrays a lack of confidence in the future of Malaysia as they are basically transferring funds outside the country through underground channels.

Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) is unlikely to charge any of them because the list contains a number of prominent Malaysians, including top businessmen, chiefs of some government-linked companies (GLCs), politicians and several ordinary people either sending money for their children's needs abroad or just plain distrustful of Malaysia's future.

And the list is too long as BNM has discovered that these well-heeled tycoons, cutting across all racial lines, and the rest have been using the network of Indian-Muslim money changers across the world to remit millions of ringgit every month to offshore accounts.

The only thing BNM has done is to cancel the licences of the money changers, with some 40 licences taken back this year.

The case came out in the open when Batu MP Chua Tian Chang revealed that Negri Sembilan MB Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan had used Salamath Ali money changers in KLCC Suria to send RM10 million to London. The money changer lost its licence and its shoplot is now closed, ostensibly for renovations.

Several Indian-Muslim money changers and opposition leaders say Mohamad's transfer is just one of many transacted daily to move millions of ringgit to "safe havens" abroad, potentially depriving the nation of capital and breaking local laws in the process.

Chua, who is also PKR strategy chief, told The Malaysian Insider he has access to a list of high-profile personalities who used the money changer transfer services, also known as hawala as practised in India.

He claimed among them is a senior minister's wife who allegedly had money transferred to her overseas and a major GLC chief who apparently moved £3.2 million (RM18 million) worth of funds to London.

But Chua said that he will not reveal the names until he is "absolutely sure".

“This is only the tip of the iceberg," Chua said. "Millions of dollars are going out and I think it is affecting the economy."

Money changers say however that authorities should not focus on the hawala system but rather on why some politicians have access to so much money and moving it abroad.

"We are just doing a service and the commission is very little," said a prominent money changer in central Kuala Lumpur.

Others added that it will be difficult to prove that the money has moved as transactions are in cash and politicians will not appear in person at the money changer but send runners to do the deed.

In Mohamad's case, he blamed the RM10 million transfer on an aide who chose Salamath Ali Money Changer, which later had its licence revoked on Oct 26 for contravening Section 30 of the Money-Changing Act 1998 which states that no licensee may remit or transfer funds outside Malaysia.

The hawala system has been described as a "subsystem" of the conventional banking system. It is run on trust where money given to a money changer in one country will be paid out by a money changer in another with just one phone call.

This network of money changers will settle outstanding debts later using coded chits or notes via their own clearinghouse system which could involve contra of funds, exchange of jewellery or even runners moving bags of cash.

The use of hawala in Malaysia grew after capital controls were imposed in the wake of the 1998 Asian financial crisis where the movement of large sums of money to locations outside Malaysia required Bank Negara's approval.

Some individuals also prefer it as it is cheaper and faster than using conventional banks and leaves no trail.

The United Nations had promised to eradicate hawala as a potential conduit for financing global terrorism and crime and Bank Negara has been quietly working to ensure the integrity of the local banking system particularly the independent money changing system.

In April this year, Bank Negara revoked the licences of 19 money changers and another 20, including Salamath, in October.

The list of money changers whose licences have been revoked can be found here.
- MalaysianInsider

Friday, November 27, 2009

The Most Corrupted Malaysian

Malaysia has squandered an estimated RM100 billion on financial scandals under the 22-year rule of Dr Mahathir Mohamad, according to a new book about the former prime minister.

According to Barry Wain, author of the soon-to-be launched ‘Malaysian Maverick: Mahathir Mohamad in Turbulent Times’, direct financial losses amounted to about RM50 billion.

This doubled once the invisible costs, such as unrecorded write-offs, were taken into account. The RM100 billion total loss was equivalent to US$40 billion at then prevailing exchange rates.

Friday, November 20, 2009

MACC can’t quiz witnesses beyond office hours, High Court rules

Tan Boon Wah (right) was detained overnight at the same time as Teoh Beng Hock. — file pic

By Debra Chong

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 19 — The High Court here today delivered a stunning rebuff to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) investigative procedures by ruling that it has no right to question witnesses in an investigation beyond normal office hours, namely from 8.30am to 5.30pm.

It also found the MACC to have acted illegally when it detained Kajang town councillor Tan Boon Wah overnight at its Selangor head office in Plaza Masalam, Shah Alam.

Judicial Commissioner (JC) Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof stressed that the meaning of the phrase “day to day” as laid down in Section 30(3)(a) of the MACC Act – which is at the core of the dispute between Tan and the MACC – “cannot mean round the clock” investigation, which includes recording statements from the witness.

Mohamad Ariff explained that to do so would “offend the legislative purpose” and limit the fundamental liberties of a person, which are clearly laid down in the Federal Constitution, under Article 5, and which the Federal Court had recently upheld must be interpreted in the “widest sense” possible.

He remarked that the MACC may have realised this when they ordered Tan to return to help in further investigations at 10am on July 20, which is well within normal working hours.

The High Court ordered the MACC to pay damages to Tan for “false imprisonment” between 9.45pm on July 15 and 2.53am on July 16, but left it up to the court registrar’s office to determine the amount, which will include interest.

Tan was taken in for questioning as a witness by Selangor graft busters investigating claims of an abuse of state funds involving DAP state executive councillor, Ean Yong Hian Wah, about 9pm on July 15, the same day as political aide Teoh Beng Hock.

Teoh, who was Ean Yong’s secretary, was also interrogated overnight and found dead the next afternoon on a fifth-floor landing outside the MACC office in Plaza Masalam, Shah Alam. His mysterious death is currently the subject of an on-going inquest.

Tan was interrogated until nearly 3am the next day and then told to go home, but stayed on to have his statement recorded later at about 11am. He finally left the MACC office around lunch time.

The suit against the national anti-graft body was filed on July 22.

Tan’s lawyer, Karpal Singh, told reporters later that it was a landmark case which held great consequences on how interrogations of both witnesses and suspects in an investigation would be carried out in future.

“This affects across the board every investigation in the country; every police investigation and even the Criminal Procedure Code,” the veteran said and added that it was no longer limited to the MACC’s way of handling things.

“For the first time, we get a definitive ruling to the phrase ‘day to day’,” Karpal added, referring to the JC’s stress that the law was silent on how the phrase should be read and resorted to consulting the dictionary meaning of it.

Asked to comment on the impact the High Court’s decision in relation to the dead political secretary, Karpal said: “In the case of Teoh Beng Hock, death was involved. The MACC has to be sued in a wider range and not limited to just the questioning.”

Karpal, who is also the MP for Bukit Gelugor, noted that the authorities had always thought they could question anyone at any time.

He marked that today’s ruling paved the way for others who had been similarly affected in the past to sue the authorities for holding them beyond regular hours.

But he said that those looking to claim damages must do so quickly because the Public Authorities Protection Act limits legal action being taken against such public institutions to within the last three years.

The Kajang councillor who was in court when the decision was read out looked highly relieved. He said he had filed the suit hoping to stop the MACC’s practice of questioning people at odd hours, especially after what had happened to Teoh.

“It’s good for all Malaysians,” Tan said.

It is unknown at this point if the MACC will appeal the High Court’s decision.

While lawyers from the Attorney-General’s Chambers representing the commission did not indicate whether they accepted the ruling or not, Karpal thinks they are likely to appeal because of the implications on other public authorities.

He added that they have one month to file their appeal.

In an immediate reaction, DAP Parliamentary Leader Lim Kit Siang lamented that political aide Teoh Beng Hock would still be alive if the MACC had followed the law.

“Teoh Beng Hock would not have died if MACC had followed the law,” the Ipoh Timur MP said in a statement.

He said the landmark decision today was an added reason for MACC Chief Commissioner Datuk Seri Ahmad Said Hamdan to resign, following Malaysia’s worst Corruption Perception Index (CPI) ranking and score in 15 years in the Transparency International CPI 2009.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

RM12K for each computer

KUALA LUMPUR: The new computers installed for Members of Parliament in the Dewan Rakyat cost a whopping RM11,916 each.

In a written reply to Fong Po Kuan (DAP-Batu Gajah), the Prime Minister’s Department said the touchscreen computers, including the cost of installation, cost RM11,233 each.

Furthermore, an additional RM320 was paid for the keyboard, mouse and tilting bracket, while an 80GB hard disk cost RM363.

The computers were installed before the current Parliament started on Oct 19 for all 222 MPs, which brought the total bill to more than RM2.6mil.

At the Parliament lobby, Lim Lip Eng (DAP-Segambut) said the cost of the computers was exorbitant and handed out price lists from computer shops to prove his point.

”The 80GB hard disk has been phased out early this year. For twice the capacity, you can get a 160GB hard disk at RM150.

”The keyboard and mouse are not branded and are made in China. A Microsoft combo pack of keyboard and mouse costs only RM55,” he said.

Lim said Parliament could have instead invested in a simple laptop for MPs, which would only cost RM2,000 per unit.

Chong Chieng Jen (DAP-Bandar Kuching) said it boiled down to whether a proper tender was called for the purchase, or if the procurement was done through direct negotiations without proper comparison of prices.

Court: MACC can only question witnesses during office hours

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court has ruled that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) can only question witnesses during office hours.

Businessman Tan Boon Wah, 39, filed a suit on July 22 claiming that the MACC had falsely imprisoned him when he was detained for late at night along with the deceased political aide Teoh Beng Hock on July 16.

He also named MACC chief commissioner Datuk Seri Ahmad Said Hamdan and Selangor MACC assis­tant superintendent Mohammad Hassan Zulkifli as defendants.

Tan, also the Kajang councillor, was said to be the last person to have seen Teoh alive at the MACC office at Plaza Masalam, Shah Alam. Teoh was found dead at the service corridor of the fifth floor of the building on July 16 and an inquest into his controversial death is ongoing at the Shah Alam Coroner’s Court.

The MACC argued that it had the right to interrogate witnesses at odd hours.

On Thursday, Justice Mohd Ariff Md Yusof ruled that it was illegal for the MACC to question its witnesses at night as such questioning must be done during the daytime.

“The term day to day as stipulated in the MACC Act cannot mean round the clock. Following this, the court allows the application for the declaration,” he said.

He also ordered costs to be paid to the plaintiff.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Perak graft trial: Duty to fight corruption

IPOH: The star prosecution witness in the trial of two former PKR state executive council (exco) members told the Sessions Court that he has a responsibility to help fight misuse of power, misconduct and graft.

When re-examined by the head of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) prosecution unit, Datuk Abdul Razak Musa, agent provocateur Mohamad Imran Abdullah denied that he was after the monetary gains for helping the Commission.

”It is not true that I want the Commission’s money,” he told Sessions judge Azhaniz Teh Azman Teh on Wednesday.

Mohamad Imran, 34, further testified that he earns enough as a car salesman to support his family.

This drew sniggers and snide remarks from the five accused in the dock -- former PKR state exco members Mohd Osman Mohd Jailu, 57, and Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi, 52, two former Perak Tengah district councillors Zul Hassan, 45, and Usaili Alias, 56; businessman Fairul Azrim Ismail, 31.

The charge pertains to their helping Imran obtain a multimillion-ringgit development project in Seri Iskandar.

Mohamad Imran also told the court that he had helped the Commission in six cases since 2007 but only three were successful.

”Some of the cases just involved confirming tip-offs,” he said.

Earlier, when cross-examined by defence lawyer Surjan Singh, Mohamad Imran said he could produce the logbook detailing his involvement with the Commission but he would need to get its clearance before revealing it in court.

”Off-hand, I cannot remember the details of each and every case that I was involved in,” he said.

Surjan retorted that the court has higher authority than the Commission in this instance.

This made Abdul Razak complain about Surjan’s statement and he wanted the court to remind him to be professional.

Abdul Razak later told the court that the details of Mohamad Imran’s logbook could not be revealed as some information involved ongoing cases.

When questioned by Surjan earlier, Mohamad Imran said sometimes before the start of the trial, he would go through the statements he gave to the Commission regarding this case.

”That is why I can remember its details now,” he said.

The clarity of the video recording of what transpired in Jamaluddin’s office in the State Secretariat building here on Aug 14 2008 became a bone of contention by the defence lawyers during Wednesday’s hearing.

Surjan Singh claimed that the quality of the recording shown in Wednesday’s trial was so much better compared with the one shown to the defence during cross-examination.

”It has given the prosecution an unfair advantage,” he said.

Hearing continues Thursday.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Malaysia seen as more corrupt than ever

(from left) TI-M president Datuk Paul Low, secretary general Ngooi Chiu Ing and deputy president Datuk Mohamad Ali Hasan explaining how people see Malaysia as growing more corrupt over the years.

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 17 - Malaysia is now seen to be more corrupt than ever, anti-graft watchdog Transparency International (TI) said in its global Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 2009 launched today.

Malaysia now ranks 56 out of 180 countries in the world with a corruption index score of 4.5 out of 10, with 10 being the least corrupt, said the world corruption watchdog. Last year, it placed 47 with a CPI score of 5.1.

The annual TI CPI measures how corrupt a country is in the public sector based on data sourced from 13 different polls and surveys from 10 independent institutions over a period of two years. The three least corrupt countries in the world are, in order, New Zealand, Denmark and Singapore.

In an immediate reaction, DAP Parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang called Malaysia’s ranking the worst in 15 years and said it was a major blow to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s administration.

“This is a national shame and major blow for Najib’s premiership,” the Ipoh Timur MP said in a statement.

He said that he had expected poor results for Malaysia both in CPI ranking and score, with the country slipping further in ranking from 47 to perhaps 50 and score a lowest CPI of 4.8.

“But my worst fears had been exceeded when the Berlin-based TI just announced that Malaysia had plunged nine places from last year’s 47th CPI ranking to 56th position while Malaysia CPI index score plunged to the lowest in 15 years to 4.5,” he added.

Malaysia’s previous worst scores below 5 were 4.8 in 2000 and 4.9 in 2002.

Lim said the mysterious death of DAP political aide Teoh Beng Hock on July 16 at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Selangor head office was among the major factors for Malaysia’s worst-ever TI CPI ranking and score.

“Will there be any response from Najib to the shocking TI CPI 2009 ranking and score?” he asked.

Malaysia's all-time low puts it on par with Namibia, Samoa, Slovakia and Latvia.

“A fall of 0.6 from 5.1 in 2008 to 4.5 in 2009 is alarming not only to the people of Malaysia but also the government of the day,” said Datuk Paul Low, the country president of the local branch of TI.

He lay a large portion of blame squarely on the federal government’s lap, singling out its lack of political will in enforcing tight anti-graft measures.

He said intense scrutiny surrounding public scandals exposing money siphoned off public funds, from the long drawn-out multi-billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) project to the more recent double-tracking railway project, which went overboard by a whopping RM1.3 billion were clear examples that affected the increasing poor perception.

He said the impression the public gets is of double standards and selective prosecution, adding that the newly empowered Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is only seen to be catching “small fish” and focusing on Barisan Nasional’s (BN) rival political parties.

“The Auditor General’s annual report highlights extraordinary public procurement abuses, but no action appears to have been taken,” he stressed.

Low noted the plunge was serious not only when compared to the country’s perceived past performances but, more importantly, in relation to other countries worldwide and especially those within the Asean region.

At first place is Singapore with far and away the best score, topping 9.0. Even tiny Brunei which was included in the CPI for the first time this year, outstripped Malaysia at 5.5.

Drawing special attention to neighbouring Indonesia, Low marked that though it ranks 111 and scored 2.8 on the CPI, the country’s corruption level is seen to be improving steadily under the administration of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Indonesia, which once scored less than 2.0, rose to 2.6 last year and this year, claimed 0.2 points in the CPI.

Low noted that the latest survey by local independent pollster Merdeka Centre showed that 74 per cent of citizens here were not satisfied with the way the government was dealing with fighting graft, while a separate survey carried out in Indonesia showed 79 per cent of its population satisfied with its government’s tactics to combat corruption.

In his personal mini survey, Low noted that eight out of 10 Malaysians he spoke to were of the view that there was “no alternative but to pay your way through” to get service from public institutions.

Corruption, as defined by TI, means “any abuse of power for personal gain”, Low said. - Malaysian Insider

Thursday, November 12, 2009

MACC agent wanted to make political donation?

IPOH, Nov 11 – Former PKR state executive councillor Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi, who is on trial for corruption, was under the impression that the agent provocateur who caused his arrest was just interested in helping his party in the Permatang Pauh by-election when he met him last year.

In fact, on the day he had supposedly received a bribe from the agent, there had only been discussion of the by-election and nothing about the RM180mil housing project he had been arrested over.

The startling evidence submitted by the agent himself, Mohamad Imran Abdullah, in court today, throws light on just how far Jamaluddin was involved in the case, and is a departure from the former's original statement.

Jamaluddin was charged alongside his colleague, another former PKR state executive councillor Mohd Osman Mohd Jailu, and three others, for allegedly receiving bribes in exchange with helping Mohamad Imran obtain the RM180mil housing development in Seri Iskandar last year.

Jamaluddin however merely faces a single charge involving RM5,000 in cash, which Mohamad Imran had allegedly given to him on Aug 14, 2008, at his office in the Perak State Seceretariat.

The money was allegedly given as gratification to Jamaluddin to help Mohamad Imran secure the project.

During cross-examination of the star witness today however, Mohamad Imran admitted that in his only meeting with Jamaluddin, which was on Aug 14 itself, he had been introduced to the latter as a person who was “interested in helping with the Permatang Pauh by-election”.

The question was put to him by defence counsel Surjan Singh, who asked if his client, another accused, PKR politician Usaili Alias, had made the introduction.

Surjan Singh: Did Usaili tell Jamaluddin that you came to meet him because you were interested in the Permatang Pauh by-election?

Mohamad Imran: Yes, that is true.

Surjan Singh: Did Usaili ask you to bring RM5,000 to give to Jamaluddin.

Mohamad Imran: No, he did not ask.

Surjan Singh: Who was the one who told you that the money was to go to Permatang Pauh as well as to help secure the project?

Mohamad Imran: (Another accused former Perak Development Corporation technician) Ruslan (Sahat) was the one who asked for it.

Surjan Singh: Whatever Ruslan asked for, we would never know, but to Usaili, Ruslan had said that it was for the Permatang Pauh by-election.

Mohamad Imran: That, I do not know.

Surjan Singh then drew the court’s attention to a report that Mohamad Imran had met with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) after his meeting with Jamaluddin at the latter’s office on Aug 14.

Surjan Singh: You said in your report that the money was for Permatang Pauh and to help secure the project but actually, during your meeting, they never once spoke about your project. It was you who brought up the topic of the project but they never spoke about it. Only you did.

Mohamad Imran gave a long pause and appeared to be trying to recall the events of Aug 14 and when he finally responded, he agreed with Surjan Singh.

In his testimony yesterday, Mohamad Imran had also said that both Jamaluddin and Usaili had been avidly discussing the by-election and political matters during his meeting.

He said that when he mentioned his project, Jamaluddin had merely nodded his head.

During the earlier hearings in court, Mohamad Imran had also mentioned that when he had produced the RM5,000 in marked ringgit notes to Jamaluddin, the latter had not touched the money.

He had also admitted that the words “contribution for Permatang Pauh” had been used during the exchange of the money.

The money, Mohamad Imran had added, had subsequently been passed to Usaili, under orders from Jamaluddin.

At the time of the incident, Usaili was the election director for the Permatang Pauh by-election.

During the hearing later today, Surjan Singh decided several times to give a “Bahasa Malaysia” lesson to Mohamad Imran whom he claimed was having trouble understanding the language.

Mohamad Imran had claimed that the words “dalam pertemuan sama” (in the same meeting), which were used in his report on Aug 14, had meant the entire events that had taken place in the Perak State Secretariat that day and not just his meeting with Jamaluddin.

Surjan Singh: In your report, you said “in the same meeting, Usaili had asked for another RM5,000 and told me to meet him tomorrow.” But this is not true because during the meeting with Jamaluddin, Usaili never asked for the money.

Mohamad Imran: In the (Jamaluddin’s) room, he did not. But he asked for it on the way out towards the lift.

Surjan Singh: Mr Imran, the words “in the same meeting”, it refers to the meeting with Jamaluddin. Are you stupid? If you cannot understand Bahasa Malaysia, don’t you worry, I can teach it to you.

Looking angry, Mohamad Imran replied that he disagreed with Surjan Singh.

Later the witness and the counsel clashed again over another discrepancy in Mohamad Imran’s report, causing Surjan Singh to tell him again that he needed to learn Bahasa Malaysia.

In his report on the events of Aug 14 at the Sri Sayang Apartments in Penang, Mohamad Imran had claimed that he had given RM2,000 to Ruslan and two other accused, former Perak Tengah district councillor Zul Hassan and businessman Fairul Azrim Ismail.

Despite admitting that the money had not only been requested by Ruslan but also given directly into his hands, Mohamad Imran still maintained that his report was accurate.

Surjan Singh: Your report that you gave the cash to all three men was not true because in the videos, you were seen only giving the money to Ruslan.

Mohamad Imran: The report is correct because the others were there too.

Surjan Singh: Imran, Ruslan was alone in the living room when you gave him the money.

Mohamad Imran: Yes, he was alone. But the others were around in the apartment unit.

Judge Azhaniz Teh Azman Teh looked up at this and repeated Surjan Singh’s question on behalf of the counsel.

“So you are saying that your report is accurate?” he asked Mohamad Imran.

Mohamad Imran: Correct, Tuan. Because they (Ruslan, Zul, Fairul) were all in the unit. Including (MACC officer) Norliza (Musa).

Norliza had gone undercover in the case as Mohamad Imran’s girlfriend.

At this testimony, Surjan Singh stared at Mohamad Imran and said, much to the amusement of everyone in court, “Oh? You say Liza was in the unit too, right? And that just because the others were in the room, they too received the RM2,000 bribe from you? So you are saying that Liza is one of them now? She too received the money? Then why isn’t she sitting here in this dock with the others?”

As he spoke, Surjan Singh gestured to where the five accused were seated.

Mohamad Imran look stumped at the exclamation and took some time before he answered, “What I meant was that they were all inside the unit.”

The hearing proceeds tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Anwar sues NST for RM100m

Anwars (left) has filed a RM100 million suit against the NST. — Picture by Jack Ooi

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 11 — Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is suing the News Straits Times for RM100 million in damages, for insinuating he is an American agent in an article written six years ago.

The English-language daily’s former deputy group editor Datin Rose Ismail today denied defaming Anwar in the article.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court which heard both their testimonies today fixed submissions for tomorrow.

By Debra Chong


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Royal Commission To Check MACC

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission has formed a special team to check corruption, abuse of power and misappropriation of funds by elected representatives.

The special team, managed by its inspection and consulting division will conduct an overall study of the rules, procedures and systems used by state assemblymen and Members of Parliament in spending the allocations to close the avenues and opportunities for corruption. - Bernama.

Hello 1 Malaysia, The Commission you should form is "The Royal Commission To Check The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC)" They are the commission where most culprit gether.



Corruption costs $56b a year

'Now what we need to do is move to action,' managing director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

DOHA - CORRUPTION costs developing nations US$20 to US$40 billion (S$28 billion to S$56 billion) each year, while emerging markets and financial centres are increasingly havens for stolen assets, a top World Bank official said on Saturday.

Managing director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said 'concerted global action' by both developed and developing states was needed to stem the flow of illicit funds and urged governments to ratify the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC).

There's an estimate that US$20-US$40 billion a year, in terms of corruptly stolen assets, leaves developing countries to go to developed countries each year,' Ms Okonjo-Iweala, a former Nigerian finance minister, told Reuters ahead of an anti-corruption conference in the Qatari capital. 'Now increasingly, we find that emerging market countries (and) financial centres are also harbours for this money.'

The World Bank official said the pledge by the Group of 20 nations (G-20), meeting this weekend in Scotland, to help prevent illicit outflows of capital and seek the return of stolen assets to developing countries, was a welcome first step.

'Now what we need to do is move to action,' she said. 'Developed countries that have these assets have to implement the UNCAC convention and send these assets back, and developing countries need to make the move to request the assistance from developed countries.'

Adopting the UN convention would provide a framework to fight corruption, she said, and help overcome thorny legal hurdles in different jurisdictions. -- REUTERS

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Double-tracking project the next PKFZ?

By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 5 — With former Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy implicated in the Port Klang Free Trade (PKFZ) scandal yesterday, will the RM6 billion double-tracking project be the next?

The Public Accounts Committee yesterday recommended that Chan and former Port Klang Authority (PKA) general manager Datin Paduka O.C. Phang to be investigated for criminal breach of trust in the PKFZ scandal.



According to the report by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC), it said the project outlay of RM4.947 billion will go up to RM7.453 billion due to interest payments and PKA must restructure the loan or it will balloon to RM12.453 billion by 2051.

But PAC also recently announced that it was planning to investigate the RM6 billion double-tracking project, after recent revelations that the project has been managed poorly, resulting in losses amounting to more than RM1 billion so far.

According to this year’s audit report, the government may have to bear part of the RM1.14 billion loss in the 179km double-tracking rail contract between Rawang and Ipoh as the project was poorly managed.

But Chan told the PAC that the double-tracking project is “three times the size” of PKFZ.

“No, it is not the biggest (project under the Ministry of Transport). Double-tracking project is much bigger. It is 12 almost 13 billion? It is three times the size of this project (PKFZ).

“We are talking only the northern, the southern part is almost four billion,” he said in his testimony to PAC on PKFZ.

The Rawang to Ipoh (southern) double-tracking and electrification project was completed in 2008 while the Ipoh to Padang Besar portion was proposed in 2002 as a continuation of the existing tracks.

In 2003, former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced that the government had decided to postpone the project which drew heavy criticism from his predecessor Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

However, the project was revived when then Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced that the Cabinet Committee on Public Transport had decided to revive the shelved northern section double-tracking project in 2007.

Dr Mahathir had said the cancellation was a wastage of public funds.

"When the double-tracking and electrification of the railway from Johor Baru to Padang Besar was proposed the lowest proposal cost RM14 billion and would take six years to build. Roughly the government would need RM2 billion a year for the project. It could be started in 2004.

“But upon taking over the Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi government decided to postpone it for some reason or other, although Abdullah had promised the former prime minister to go ahead with the project.

“Now the government has found that there is a need to go ahead. Unfortunately the cost has gone up. To build the double tracks and electrification of the portion from Ipoh to Padang Besar alone would cost RM12 billion, an increase of roughly 50 per cent or roughly RM7 billion if the line from Johor Baru to Padang Besar is to be constructed (as it must)," he wrote in his blog on June 24, 2008.

The project was awarded to Gamuda Berhad and MMC Corporation Berhad.

The major stakeholders of Gamuda and MMC are Raja Datuk Seri Eleena Sultan Azlan Shah and Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary respectively.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Mahathir dashes hopes of groups eyeing Proton sale

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 3 – Malaysia’s former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad has dismissed news reports that national car maker Proton Holdings is for sale, writing in his blog that he has told the company’s chairman and chief executive that it “is not for sale”.

Dr Mahathir’s influence has soared in the new administration of Prime Minister Najib Razak, and the former PM indicated that he is back as Proton’s adviser and “busy on a plan to resuscitate the company”.

Under the previous administration of Abdullah Badawi, Dr Mahathir hinted that he had no role in Proton as “no one asks me for advice”.

His unequivocal statement that Proton is not for sale will dash the hopes of at least three parties said to be interested in the company. They are the DRB- Hicom conglomerate, the Naza auto group and the management of Proton itself, whose chairman suggested it two weeks ago.

Dr Mahathir began by saying that Proton is returning to profitability given the number of new cars he keeps seeing on the roads. “I know that a new car is not noticed on the roads until a certain volume of sales is achieved,” he said in his blog.

“Since Proton acquired a new chairman in the person of Nadzmi Salleh, I find it easier to perform the work of Proton adviser,” he continued. “The Prime Minister has also indicated that Proton’s affairs should be referred to me. Accordingly, I have been busy on a plan to resuscitate the company and have been talking to potential technology partners for Proton.”

Then he got to the point. “Lately I have been disturbed by media reports that Proton is to be sold to certain parties. This talk has agitated the staff of Proton. Their worry affects their performance. I have told the chairman and the chief executive that Proton is not for sale – and there is no plan to sell Proton in the foreseeable future.

“The need is to restructure the company and reach agreement with the potential partner,” said the former premier. “After that, work has to be done to ensure Proton fully recovers.”

Dr Mahathir’s comments are likely to have been noted seriously by the government, as Proton was his brainchild back in 1984. They would also have been noted with regret by Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, the controlling shareholder of DRB-Hicom, which news reports indicated was front runner for the car firm.

The tycoon bid for Proton six years ago but his bid was rejected by the-then premier Abdullah. DRB-Hicom was thought to be looking at buying 32 per cent of Proton.

The car firm posted a net loss of RM320 million for the year to March 31, 2009 but is expected to be back in the black in the current financial year. Its sales have climbed steeply and it expects to sell 155,000 units by the time its financial year closes in March 2010. – Business Times Singapore

Anwar slams poor effort to fight graft

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 3 – Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today slammed the ruling coalition for what he alleges are cases of “selective prosecution”.

The arrest of maverick ex-Perlis mufti Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin on Sunday night allegedly for delivering a lecture in Ampang without permission from the Selangor Islamic Affairs Department (Jais) was a case in point, the PKR adviser said.

Anwar, who was in court today for his sodomy case to be mentioned, explained that he had just been updated on the happenings in the country by Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim.

The high-profile politician, who is fond of quoting from the Quran during his many public lectures, noted there was no valid reason for the Dr Asri's arrest.

“We do not condone those measures,” the PKR adviser stressed.

The former Umno man appeared cynical of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commision’s (MACC) seriousness about fighting graft when asked to comment on yesterday’s arrest of several lawmakers for corruption, including one from his rival Barisan Nasional (BN) faction.

He noted that they were merely hauling up the “small fry” instead of catching the “big fish.”

Anwar named several highly-controversial BN government business deals as cases the MACC should prioritise for prosecution; from the ongoing hulabaloo over the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) project to old stuff such as the Defence Ministry's submarine and Sukhoi fighter jet purchases and state-owned Perwaja Steel corporation calamity.

“You can’t ignore these major cases,” he said.

“If they are serious in combating corruption, we will support them,” Anwar said.

Sabak Bernam MP and five others charged with graft

FINAL UPDATE

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid

SHAH ALAM, Nov 3 — After waiting for hours at the Shah Alam Sessions Court this morning, Sabak Bernam Umno MP and former Sg Air Tawar assemblyman Datuk Abdul Rahman Bakri was charged with graft.

He claimed trial to the eight charges for abusing funds worth RM10,000 and producing a fake invoice for a bogus event in his former state constituency.

In the charge sheet, the Sabak Bernam MP was accused of submitting a form with fake details including the purchase of gifts requesting for allocations for several public events which did not take place.

The court set bail at RM30,000, with guarantor, for all charges and hearing has been fixed for Dec 14.

Rahman was accompanied in court by a large crowd of supporters from Sabak Bernam, along with several MPs.

Charged alongside Abdul Rahman is his aide, Mohd Rosli Bushra, who claim trial to similar charges as the former. He was charged at a separate court here and posted bail which was set at RM 9,000.

The same court also set bail of RM5,000 for Wong Choon Hau, a special aide to Selangor exco Ronnie Liu, who was accused of committing criminal breach of trust.

The first charge involves the alleged abuse of allocation for a public event in Sg Pelek worth RM5,000, the second for producing a fake invoice for the supply of car flags worth RM2,500 and the third for another abuse of state allocation worth RM2,500.

Hearing has been set from March 29 to April 9, 2010. Nine witnesses will be called to testify.

Meanwhile, the former aide to Selangor Mentri Besar, Yahya Saari, claims trial to two charges of tricking a donor to donate RM50,000 for a Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) event and for producing a fake involice for another PKR event.

Court set bail at RM10,000 with surety. Hearing date for the first charge is set at April 12 to 16, 2010 and the second charge from April 19 to 23, 2010.

Two others were also charged with graft today. Firdaus Abu Karim, a director with a GLC, claimed trial to seven charges of graft.

He was charged with providing fake invoices to an accomplice who allegedly abused state allocations through a fake state government application from worth RM 10,000 for several bogus events.

His accomplice, former Gerakan Teratai state lawmaker, Yap Soo Soon, was charged with the same charges as Firdaus in a separate court here.

Bail for Firdaus was set at RM8,000 for all charges with a guarantor and Yap at RM 25,000. Both Firdaus and Yap will be tried together.

Mention date has been set for Dec 14 with the hearing fixed for April 26 to May 7, 2010 for Firdaus, while Yap will face trial from May 3 to 7 next year.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

MACC arrests ex-sec-gen of ministry over RM10mil projec

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has arrested a former secretary-general of a ministry for alleged graft involving a project worth more than RM10mil.

It is believed the 56 year-old Datuk, who was seconded to the Public Services Department pending investigations, was arrested at his office at about 10am Tuesday by a combined MACC task force headed by Penang MACC director Latifah Md Yatim.

Sources said the former secretary-general, who was alleged to have accepted kickbacks over a government grant for a technology project in Penang, is expected to be charged Wednesday.

They said MACC had been investigating the man from early this year and was also expected to slap him with no less then eight charges under the MACC Act.

A MACC statement later confirmed the deatils and said that he would be charged in Shah Alam.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Jailed a day for RM5,000 bribe

SHAH ALAM: A sand-mining operator was sentenced by a Sessions Court here to a day’s jail and fined RM30,000 for giving a RM5,000 bribe to an assistant enforcement officer six months ago.

Lee Kui Sun, 47, was charged on May 8 with bribing Nor Zaini Ratiman, of the Hulu Langat district office, as an inducement not to take action against him for transferring and selling sand illegally.

He was accused of committing the offence at Sungai Long quarry in PN8602 Lot 7700 Hulu Langat about 7.30am on April 3.

He was charged under Section 17(b) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009.

During mitigation, Lee’s counsel Lim Kien Huat said his client, a father of seven, was only a subcontractor as well as being the sole breadwinner for his family.

According to the facts of the case, the MACC Putrajaya, Hulu Langat Land Office and Rela were in a joint operation to check the Sungai Long quarry about 4am on April 3.

During the operation, the enforcement team caught lorries carrying sand out of the area without permit.

About 7am, Lee had approached Nor Zaini and another enforcement officer Mohd Shahril Che Saad, admitted that the sand activities had been carried out without a permit and begged them to settle the matter there.

He then offered RM5,000 to Nor Zaini so that no action would be taken against him.

Lee insisted on giving the money although he was told it was wrong for him to do so, calling his wife to get the money.

The MACC enforcement officer arrested Lee after he handed the money to Nor Zaini.

Judge Mat Ghani Abdullah ordered Lee to be jailed six months if he failed to pay the fine.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Malaysia Boleh: Corruption Case

KUALA LUMPUR - MALAYSIA has said it will not prosecute a lawyer who featured in a sensational video where he appeared to broker judges' appointments.

The footage of lawyer V.K. Lingam, released by opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in 2007, unleashed a furore in Malaysia and cast a shadow over the reputation of the judiciary.

But cabinet minister Nazri Abdul Aziz told parliament on Wednesday that no legal action would be taken because an official probe into the affair had failed to turn up sufficient evidence or proper testimony.

'After (the anti-corruption authorities) investigated those involved in the Lingam tape, there was no evidence to show a criminal offence was committed in relation to abuse of power in the appointment of judges,' he said. 'Therefore the attorney-general's chambers decided there was no further action required.'

At a 2008 Royal Commission into the video, Mr Lingam said he was too drunk to remember the telephone conversation in which he appeared to discuss judicial appointments and also denied he had ever tried to influence the selection of judges.

In the phone call Mr Lingam purportedly assured Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim, who was then a judge, that he would push him for a top position, with the help of a prominent businessman and a politician. Ahmad Fairuz went on to be appointed to the nation's number-two post and was quickly elevated to the top position of chief justice. He completed his term and stood down in 2007. -- AFP

RM42,320 for a laptop

KUALA LUMPUR: Who in their right mind would pay RM42,320 for a laptop?

Kolej Kemahiran Tinggi Mara Balik Pulau in Penang not only paid the price but bought two units of the same brand – Acer Aspire-5052ANWXMI, at a whopping price of RM84,640, said the Auditor-General’s Report.

In addition, the college purchased 450 units of computer CAD with network card at RM3.45mil for 12 labs. Each 19-inch monitor costs RM8,500 while a 17-inch monitor costs RM7,500.

“A check with local companies showed that the market price for the latest model is between RM5,350 to RM6,500 each. Worse still the computers, Precision 390 Dell, that were supplied are no longer in the market,” it said.

Also purchased were 15 laser printers, Hewlet Packard P3005X, at the price of RM7,722 each when the market price was about RM5,000 per unit.

In reply, Mara said the equipment were purchased in a lump sump and there was no price breakdown for the laptops.

The price breakdown was only done after the equipment was supplied for the purpose assets record and it could not be used as a basis for reference.

“Nevertheless, Mara has created a task force and is conducting a price adjustment for all the equipment,” it said.

The report also stated that the college had paid between RM1,398 and RM2,945 for 204 teaching manuals.

“Checks found that the teaching manuals supplied were bound using comb binding. The teaching manuals obtained at a cost of RM358,476 is a waste because they were never used,” it said, adding that the supplier has been notified to provide the original version of the teaching manual in hard cover.

Mara also spent RM2.08mil buying computer software it didn’t need.

Audits also found many discrepancies in prices paid for the same equipment, including the same LCD projectors that costs RM3,500 and RM8,000 for two different laboratories.

“Swivel stools were also purchased at three different prices – RM340, RM350 and RM450 per unit and they did not even meet the agreed specifications in the agreement.

“Other swivel chairs were bought for between RM810 to RM1,050 per unit when the college had bought the same chair previously at RM336 per unit,” it said.

The report also stated that the German-Malaysian Institute which was picked as the consultant, had proposed a ceiling price of RM84.5mil for the purchase of equipment for the college while the Economic Planing Unit (EPU) fixed the price at RM127.65mil.

“The reason for the higher price was to speed up the process of obtaining the supplies. In the end the agreed contract was fixed at RM112.42mil. Mara had submitted a letter to the Finance Ministry to say that the figure was reasonable.

“Audit found that the agreed price for the purchase of equipment is not reasonable. This is because the approach taken by Mara did not fufill the criteria set by the Finance Ministry, which is to negotiate for the lowest price possible.

'Teoh was killed': Expert

Dr Pornthip, head of the Thai Central Institute of Forensic Science, outside the courtroom in Shah Alam yesterday. -- PHOTO: ASSOCIATED PRESS

KUALA LUMPUR - THE inquest into the mysterious death of political aide Teoh Beng Hock took a dramatic turn on Wednesday, after a well-known Thai pathologist said that it was most likely a killing.

Pathologist Pornthip Rojanasunand said the likelihood of a killing was 80 per cent.

Her testimony at the coroner's court is at odds with that of the two government-appointed pathologists involved in the inquest. They felt that Mr Teoh, 30, committed suicide.

Dr Pornthip was hired as an expert witness by the Selangor state government - which is ruled by the Pakatan Rakyat alliance - and her views yesterday suggested that he had suffered injuries before he fell to his death. He was then under detention by a federal anti-corruption commission.

She pointed out that Mr Teoh's skull fracture was not typical of an injury suffered from a fall. Instead, it appeared as if the skull was hit by a blunt force.

She added that, before his fall, Mr Teoh also suffered anal penetration and that he could have been strangled as there were bruises around his neck.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

DAP man wants cops to probe graft allegations against MCA’s Liow

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 18 - Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng wants police to investigate MCA’s newly appointed deputy president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai over graft allegations posted on the Malaysia Today website.
Giving Ringgit 500 million for ‘services rendered’ to your running dog? You have done it.

The website alleges an inappropriate relationship between the Health Minister and a company which has dealings with the ministry.

“We are lodging a police report today because we want to find out the truth ... whether the allegations posted on Malaysia Today on October 14 are true, or whether it is fabricated,” said Lim, who was accompanied by Kelana Jaya MP Loh Gwo-Burne at the Sentul police station here today.

Lim said he had waited till today to lodge a report because he wanted the health minister to answer the allegations. He claimed that after waiting for five days, no answer had been given by Liow (picture) over the matter.

“We have no concerns at all with MCA internal fighting. We don’t bother and do not want to interfere,” said the Pakatan Rakyat MP.

“It is understood that the letter was penned by a self-proclaimed “Ong Tee Keat Supporter.”

When asked why was the report not lodged with the MACC, Lim said that they were uncertain of the validity of the letter.

“We don’t know if it’s true. If it is, the police should forward the investigation to the MACC. If it is false, the police should take action against the publisher as well as the writer of the article.”

The Segambut MP felt that the letter looked authentic as it was very detailed, and this view was echoed by Kelana Jaya MP Loh.

“I hope that the police will do their job and come up with the facts. What we are asking for is a bit more transparency so that we know whether the allegations are true or not,” said Loh.

Media exaggerating PKR problems

By Neville Spykerman

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 18 — PKR’s de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim played down today Datuk Zaid Ibrahim’s six months’ leave of absence from the party, but conceded there were problems in the opposition party.

“He is still in the party and still in the leadership.” said Anwar, who added the former Umno law minister would be going to perform the Haj during his leave of absence.
Murder most foul. You have done it.

Anwar said he did not understand why Zaid's leave was being interpreted in such a negative manner.

“I concede, yes we have to address this, if there are issues to be discuss.” said Anwar, but he blamed the media for sending the negative signal that there was serious infighting in the party and that PKR was unravelling.

Anwar said the problems in PKR were not as major as those in MCA, MIC or even in Umno.

On Friday, Zaid said he would not be attending PKR political bureau meetings because he did not want to be “constrained” and instead wanted to concentrate on his primary purpose of establishing a common platform for the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition.

PKR insiders have indicated that Zaid’s decision stems from infighting and his decision to visit Sabah where local leaders are in open revolt over PKR vice-president Azmin Ali's appointment as state chief.

"He (Zaid) is very much in touch with us. He is now in Sabah and later, will be joining the PKR president in Sarawak for a function," said Anwar, who was speaking at the Hari Raya open house of his daughter Nurul Izzah Anwar, the Lembah Pantai MP.

Anwar said there was no problem with Zaid being in Sabah.

He said the party’s stand was that national leaders should only attend functions organised by branches or divisions which had been endorsed by the state leadership.

Anwar said the reports about the open revolt in Sabah and Sarawak, where local PKR leaders oppose the appointment of Peninsular Malaysia-based vice-presidents Mustafa Kamil Ayub and Azmin as state leaders, were exaggerated and misleading.

He said the appointment of both leaders was a temporary measure and they have been given till the end of the month to obtain consensus on who locals want to lead them.

Meanwhile, Anwar said Zaid may have taken his leave of absence because he is under pressure to strengthen PR as a formal coalition which was the main priority entrusted to him.

“The leaders of all the component parties have agreed that this is our priority.”

However, he said no time frame has been set.

Anwar also denied the problems in PKR were contributed because he had taken his foot off the pedal by travelling overseas rather than handling party matters.

Anwar said he only started going overseas in October and that most of his trips were during the weekends and there was no disruption in his party’s affairs.

He defended his trips and said the international networking was important in the interest of civil society, democracy and international understanding.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

MACC closes case on Lunas assemblyman

ALOR SETAR: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has closed its investigation on Lunas assemblyman Mohd Radzhi Salleh who was alleged to have made excessive claims amounting to more than RM148,000 in a 12-month period beginning in March last year.

Kedah MACC director Idrus Jaafar said the decision was made after the Commission found that the claims were valid.

“All his claims were supported with documents, witnesses and recipes and we did not find any ‘hanky-panky’ involved,” he said after the state MACC Raya Open House here on Thursday.

Who's The Real Traitor?

Idrus said that Mohd Radzhi, the former state Tourism, Community Development and Human Resources Committee chairman, was among four politicians in Kedah investigated by the Commission this year.

He said the investigation into the three others would end soon, but declined to elaborate.

In June, Mohd Radzi came out to say he was being investigated by MACC for allegedly making excessive claims.

The allegation was first raised in May by a blogger known only as “penyiasat persendirian” who said that Mohd Radzhi had made 36 trips to Langkawi between March 2008 and March this year, making a whopping RM148,922.65 in claims during the period.

Following the allegation, the state government was reported to have conducted an internal investigation.

On Aug 23, Mohd Radzhi announced that he had quit PKR and declared himself an independent, saying he had lost confidence in the party’s leadership.

On Aug 26, the Sultan of Kedah Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah consented to a request by Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak to strip Mohd Radzhi of his post.

I did not force the bribe

IPOH: A prosecution witness told a corruption trial he did not force RM9,000 on a former Perak Tengah district councillor in exchange for help in obtaining a project in Seri Iskandar.

Businessman Mohamad Imran Abdullah, 34, whose testimony was based on a video recording shown in the Sessions Court here Thrusday, said PKR politician Usaili Alias did not push away the money that was handed over to him on the evening of Aug 11, 2008.

Mohamad Imran, who acted as the agent provocateur for the then Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA), said he had recorded the transaction at the Excelsior Hotel coffee house here with a pinhole camera given to him by officials from the agency.
Who's The Real Traitor?

”I took out RM9,000 from my briefcase and counted the money into stacks of RM1,000 before handing it to Usaili.

”He did not refuse the money and I did not force him to accept it,” Mohamad Imran said, adding that ACA officer Norliza Musa, who was posing as his girlfriend, Usaili’s wife and Perak Development Corporation technician Ruslan Sahat were also present at the time.

Mohamad Imran was testifying against Usaili, 56, who with former PKR executive councillors Mohd Osman Mohd Jailu, 57, and Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi, 52, former Perak Tengah district councillor Zul Hassan, 45, and businessman Fairul Azrim Ismail, 31, face various corruption charges over the proposed multimillion-ringgit development project.

They allegedly committed the offences to help Mohamad Imran obtain the project.

Ruslan was previously charged along with the five accused but the charges against him were dropped following his death in August.

Earlier, the court had watched from the same recording how Mohamad Imran handed over RM1,400 to Ruslan before Usaili and his wife arrived at the coffee house.

”The video shows me counting the money and handing it over to Ruslan. He put the money in his shirt pocket,” Mohamad Imran testified.

The court was shown a total of four video recordings during Thursday’s trial.

According to Mohamad Imran, the first recording was taken during a meeting with Ruslan at the same hotel on Aug 6, 2008, while the second was of their meeting at the First Coffee House here two days later.

Both recordings were made using pinhole cameras.

The third recording, made using a video camera from the ACA, was of a site visit at the location of the proposed project with Ruslan, Usaili and Zul on Aug 10, 2008.

Mohamad Imran told the court he had handed over RM1,000 to Usaili during the site visit but failed to catch it on tape as he was holding the video camera at the time.

Hearing before Judge Azhaniz Teh Azman Teh continues next Tuesday.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Umno Youth chief proposes RM200 cash gift

KUALA LUMPUR: Umno Youth has proposed that the Government gives a one-off RM200 cash gift for the firstborn of all families as an initial deposit to the National Education Savings Scheme Fund.

The movement also proposed that the Government gives a special discount for the purchase of national cars to first-time parents who have yet to own a car.

These are among the list of initiatives proposed by the movement to help alleviate problems faced by those who have only recently begun working and started their own families.

With numerous responsibilities to bear, including paying off study loans and looking after ageing parents, Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin said the Government should provide certain incentives in order for these people to get a good head start.

In his first address at the Umno Youth annual general assembly on Wednesday, Khairy said the Government should also set up a fund to give housing loans with the lowest interest rates for the first few years upon marriage so that newlyweds could afford their own home.

The Government, he added, should also offer vouchers to parents with infants for purchases such as milk and diapers.

He said as an inclusive party, Umno Youth wanted to be the voice of the younger generation within and outside the party.

"This is what people-friendly should mean in Umno Youth," he said, adding that the list, which had been put forward by the movement in the run-up to the tabling of the 2010 Budget, was specifically geared to the needs of young people.

He said other suggestions include urging the Government to ensure increased job opportunities, especially in strategic sectors like service, information technology and biotechnology.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Bagan Pinang: Indian Support For BN?

PORT DICKSON, Oct 10 - Indications are that Indian voters in the Bagan Pinang state constituency will help the Barisan Nasional (BN) win the by-election tomorrow, according to a member of the BN Supporters Club.

R. Nantha Kumar, former Kedah MIC chief, said this was based on the number of members the club had secured in the constituency.

He said the club was set up after many Indians, angry with the MIC, gave their support to the opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), adding that the club provided a platform for the Indians who disliked the MIC to express support for the government.

Nantha Kumar said members of the club comprised people of all communities but the Indian members numbered about 2,000.

He said the Indians were disappointed with the PKR leadership which he claimed failed to fulfill its promises after the party had won in the elections, alleging that Teluk Kemang Member of Parliament Datuk Kamarul Baharin Abbas, whom the Indians had helped to win in the general election, never interacted with the constituents.

"Many now realise that the PKR will not help the Indians. They do not think the PKR will administer the country. Only the BN can help the Indians through Umno," he said.

Another club member, K. Sanjkaram, 32, said he joined the club after being disappointed with the unfulfilled promises of the PKR.

"The Indians have begun to have confidence in the credibility of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. Previously, the support could have been 50:50 but now it looks like it is more than 60 per cent," he said.

The Bagan Pinang by-election is a straight fight between Tan Sri Mohd Isa Samad of the BN and Zulkefly Omar of PAS. The by-election has been necessitated by the death of state assemblyman, Azman Mohd Noor of the BN, on Sept 4.

-- BERNAMA

Friday, October 9, 2009

Dr M wants MCA delegates to vote for a clean leader

KUALA LUMPUR: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad wants MCA delegates to vote for a clean leader at the party’s extraordinary general meeting Saturday.

The former Prime Minister said leaders must be clean, adding that it was not the views of the leader’s supporters that were important.

“We have had tainted leaders who appeared to be accepted by the party but general election results will verify or reject the appearance of support,’’ he said in an interview with news portal, Malaysian Mirror.

He said “leaders must be as clean as possible and that it is not one’s supporters opinion that is important.”

Dr Mahathir was asked to give his comments ahead of the MCA EGM where 2,380 delegates will decide the fate of its two leaders, Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat and Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek.

“MCA may go to greater heights under your leadership but acceptance by Malaysia’s multi-racial votes is more important,’’ he said.

Dr Mahathir said the winner needed to quickly accommodate those in the losing camp to ensure that the party regained its lost strength and be an “attractive” party again for the Chinese community.

Pahang MB need not pay RM63mil to logging company: Court

PUTRAJAYA: Pahang Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob need not pay the judgement debt of RM63mil to logging company Seruan Gemilang Makmur Sdn Bhd for breach of agreement, the Court of Appeal ruled.

Justice Datin Paduka Zaleha Zahari, who sat with Datuk Sulaiman Daud and Datuk Jeffrey Tan Kok Wha, held that Adnan was wrongly named as the respondent in the judicial review proceeding at the High Court, initiated by Seruan Gemilang, to demand the judgment sum from the state government.

“We allow the appeal with costs, on the principal ground that a wrong entity was named as the respondent in the judicial review proceeding,” Zaleha said in her oral decision Friday.

However, the sum of RM63mil owed to Seruan Gemilang would still need to be paid as the decision would not affect the main judgement ordering the Pahang government to pay RM63mil made by the High Court in 2007, the court held.

Karpal Singh, for Seruan Gemilang, told the media later that he would file for leave to appeal against the Appeal Court’s decision next week, and would issue a fresh certificate to demand debt payment from the Pahang financial officer.

On April 20 this year, Adnan appealed against the Kuantan High Court’s decision, ordering him to pay RM63mil to Seruan Gemilang after allowing the company’s application for a writ of mandamus (compelling order).

Seruan Gemilang filed the mandamus application last year, saying that it had demanded the judgement sum with interest, through a solicitor’s letter, and had furnished an endorsement letter under Section 33 of the Government Proceedings Act 1956, but did not receive any payment.

On May 25, 2007, the Pahang Government was ordered by the Kuantan High Court to pay the company RM37,127,471.60, at eight percent interest per annum from Dec 31, 2000.

Seruan Gemilang filed the suit against the state government and the state forestry director on Dec 2, 2002, seeking RM31 million in damages for breaching a logging concession contract relating to the extraction of timber logs from a 10,000acre plot of land belonging to Umno in Mukim Bebar, Pekan district.

In their statement of defence, the defendants said that Seruan Gemilang was only given a licence to log 7,000 acres because they found that the company was not interested in logging the remaining 3,000 acres.

Counsel Datuk Shafee Abdullah and state legal adviser Datuk Mat Zara’ai Alias acted for Adnan. - Bernama

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Makkal Shakti: An alternative or just pressure group on MIC ?

KUALA LUMPUR: News of the launch on Saturday of new political party Makkal Sakti has raised questions among the Indian community over a hidden agenda.

Will Makkal Sakti become an alternative party or is it just to push for change in the MIC which has represented the Indian community for 63 years, they ask.

Dr S. Sivamurugan, political analyst at the Social Science Faculty of Universiti Sains Malaysia, said Makkal Sakti should not be seen as an alternative party to MIC.

"There is no chance for another party to replace MIC. Makkal Sakti can be an alternative party to address problems of the public which had been overlooked by MIC," he said.

Makkal Sakti could function as a platform to get component Indian parties like the Indian Progressive Front and People's Progressive Party, which refused to cooperate with MIC but which still support the Barisan Nasional, to contribute to the community, Sivamurugan said.

"Indian political parties can cooperate to help the 30% of Indians living below the poverty line. They can help the younger generation get access to job opportunities, educational and welfare aid."

A random survey on Jalan Brickfields and Lebuh Ampang, two shopping areas popular with Indians, yielded similar reactions.

"The MIC had been championing the rights of Indians for a long time but is now disliked as several leaders refuse to allow change in the party.

"The anger of the Indian community is directed at the leadership, not the party," former teacher S. Thiagarajah, 40, said.

M. Alice, 58, hoped the presence of a new party would make MIC leaders and members sit up.

"They have been awakened from their sleep and now realise the importance of support from the Indians. If not, they will forget their responsibility as it is the people who put them there," she said.

Nanthini, 33, an officer in the private sector, said the new party would give the MIC competition, which was good for the party.

S. Tamilmagan, 28, a private sector employee, said: "If a new party can bring the Indians together, why not?"

P. Ganesh, 23, a student at a private college, said the emergence of Makkal Sakti would make MIC leaders realise that the party needed change. - Bernama

PAS may seek to postpone Bagan Pinang by-election

PORT DICKSON: PAS may seek an injunction to postpone the by-election in Bagan Pinang on Sunday if it does not receive a favourable response from the Election Commission (EC) on cleaning up the names of voters on the electoral roll.

PAS Bagan Pinang by-election director Salahuddin Ayub said today the party would decide on the appropriate action after a meeting with EC chairman at Putrajaya.

"The names of these 'double voters' have been in existence for many years. We estimate there are about two million names nationwide but no action has been taken by the EC," Salahuddin told reporters at the PAS command centre.

Asked why the party had waited so long to take legal action, the Kubang Kerian MP said it was the right time now as it also involved the voters.

"It’s very relevant because it also involves the voters in Bagan Pinang," he said.

PAS vice-president Datuk Mahfuz Omar cited a report from Bernama which quoted the president of ex-servicemen’s association, Datuk Muhammad Abdul Ghani, who urged retired servicemen to change their voting status from postal to ordinary voters.

Muhammad also urged retired servicemen to return to Bagan Pinang and vote on Sunday.

Mahfuz questioned whether the retired servicemen will return to vote "or will somebody vote on their behalf?"

PAS has been questioning the transparency of postal votes, which account for 4,604 of the 13,664 voters in Bagan Pinang.

Last week, PAS secretary general Datuk Mustafa Ali said there were only 1,200 servicemen registered as postal voters in the Bagan Pinang constituency.

PKR election director Saifuddin Nasution, who was present, said the party will send an invitation to Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to attend a forum with party adviser and Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Saifuddin said the forum would be an outlet to explain to the public"who the Malay traitor really is".

"This will let allow parties to explain themselves. We hope Muhyiddin will not continue to attack Anwar and call him a Malay traitor," Saifuddin said.

In August, Muhyiddin reportedly callled Anwar a traitor and refused to apologise to Anwar.

Anwar had demanded an apology and a retraction of the statement, reportedly made at opening of the Sri Gading Umno division meeting.

He also made a similar demand to Utusan Malaysia, which reported the statement and demanded RM100 million from both parties in damages caused by the statement.

Saifuddin also said he welcomed Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin to lodge a police report against Anwar on allegations that Anwar had RM3 billion in several master accounts.

Register as a legal entity, Pakatan Rakyat advised

KUALA KRAI: Election Commission (EC) chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof has suggested that the opposition parties register Pakatan Rakyat as a legal entity like the Barisan Nasional to enable them to campaign as a coalition.

"Register with the Registrar of Societies as Pakatan Rakyat and the EC will not disturb any more," he said, referring to the EC's action in taking down the campaign materials of parties that are not contesting in Bagan Pinang on Monday, which turned ugly when opposition supporters surrounded the EC enforcement staff.

The contesting parties in the Bagan Pinang state by-election are PAS and the Barisan Nasional (BN). The other parties did not pay the deposit and have no permit to campaign, Abdul Aziz told reporters after an Aidilfitri celebration here on Monday night.

"That's why our monitoring team took down the flags, symbols and pictures of the parties which were not contesting," he said.

Abdul Aziz said the EC had advised all the parties about this prohibition but many still persisted.

"When we take stern action, I hope that they will accept it with open hearts," he said.

Abdul Aziz also said his vehicle was surrounded during nomination day in Bagan Pinang on Saturday.

"Our vehicle was stopped. We were verbally abused and money was shoved at our faces. I was frightened to look at their faces and worried for our safety, like the vehicle being overturned," he said.

He said that was why the EC had advised the contesting parties not to bring along too many supporters, not more than 5,000, to accompany their supporters on nomination day but it was not heeded. -- Bernama

Friday, September 25, 2009

Migrants die in detention

KUALA LUMPUR (Malaysia) - AN OFFICIAL says six Myanmar migrants have died while in detention in Malaysia because of a suspected waterborne disease caused by rat urine.

The immigration department official says the six men - detained for being in Malaysia illegally - fell ill last month. They died in hospital days later. All six had complained of severe internal aches.

The official said on Friday the detainees were believed to have contracted leptospirosis, a disease from water contaminated by rat urine.

He said the detainees likely contracted the disease in another centre. They were transferred together with some 700 others after a riot there.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity, citing protocol. -- AP

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Corruption-free candidate, Ada Ka??

Umno should pick a candidate who is free of money politics for the Bagan Pinang state by-election, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.

Where can we find one????. Oh yes! find them at the graveyard. The only UMNO branch without any corruption - UMNO CAWANGAN KUBUR

He believes that the Barisan Nasional can win the by-election on Oct 11 with a big majority because the seat is an Umno's stronghold.

Having corruption-free candidates would be a very important factor in Bagan Pinang as well as in the next general election, he told reporters after attending Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan's Aidilfitri open house in Rantau here.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Official Secrets Act

Today, we are going to reveal the 18-page Cabinet paper on the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) fiasco that has thus far cost the Malaysian taxpayers RM12.5 billion of our hard-earned money. Not only three Prime Ministers, but the entire Cabinet was briefed about the status of the project. In the end, the Cabinet endorsed what was going on rather than bring to book those responsible for the disaster that need not have happened. Be reminded that this Cabinet paper is covered by the Official Secrets Act, which means it is a crime to be in possession of it.

THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
Raja Petra Kamarudin