Sunday, June 28, 2009

Stop sending mixed signals on race and quotas

KUALA LUMPUR, June 28- The DAP backs Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s reform plans but is concerned with the administration’s mixed signals on Malay rights.

Tony Pua, the party’s national publicity secretary, pointed out that while the prime minister spoke last night about removing quotas and merit-based national scholarships his deputy had promised on the same day that “Umno would fight to the last drop of blood to protect Malay rights”.

He said that although the DAP welcomes Najib’s announcement in Putrajaya last night, Barisan Nasional (BN) should stop the policy of divide and rule among Malaysians of all races.

During the dinner hosted by the MCA and the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ACCCIM), Najib acknowledged that the quota system was flawed and did not benefit Bumiputeras.

Datuk Seri Muhyiddin Yassin was present at the same dinner but according to Pua, he had stirred up Malay racial sentiments in his speech earlier in Pagoh, Johor.

“Taken together with the Prime Minister’s own persistence in Malay-Muslim unity talks with PAS, it raises the question as to whether BN is continuing the policy of “singing a different song to a different racial audience”.

He said this flies in the face of the 1 Malaysia concept being preached by Najib.

Pua said that Umno continues to place Malay unity and Malay rights above all else under its “Ketuanan Melayu” banner while all other BN component parties and ethnic groups are subjugated to its authority.

However, he said the DAP was willing to fully support the prime minister to remove the inefficient and ineffective quota system and replace it with a policy which promotes meritocracy in all sectors including education and the economy.

The policy on meritocracy should be complemented with an affirmative

action policy based on needs and not race.

“We would fully support all efforts to improve the economic livelihood of all poor Bumiputeras and Malaysians.”

He agreed with the PM that the quota system under the New Economic Policy (NEP) has failed the Bumiputeras.

The NEP promotes a rent-seeking culture, cronyism and corruption while benefiting only those who are politically connected, he said.

“We call on the Prime Minister to put his words into action by delivering a ministerial statement in Parliament to call for the removal of the quota-based NEP.”

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Ex-Welfare dept director charged with graft

Mastor at the courthouse Friday

KOTA KINABALU: Retired Sabah Welfare Department director Datuk Mastor Samin pleaded not guilty to corruption charges for approving RM10,000 worth of contracts to a company owned by his wife.

Mastor, 57, who retired in April last year, was allowed bail of RM5,000 with one surety by Sessions Court judge Caroline Be Majanil, who also set March 1 to 5 for the trial.

He is charged with abusing his position as director of the state Welfare Department by directing one Dosmin Lojum to hand over RM8,000 under the then Bantuan Geran Pelancaran (launching grant) for the purchase of a sewing machine, cloth and thread from Rodeah Enterprise, a company owned by his wife Rohani Abdul Rahman.

He allegedly committed the offence at the fifth floor of Wisma Kebajikan in Sembulan on Feb 25, 2002.

On the second charge, Mastor is alleged to have ordered one Shamsuri Al-Malek to get RM2,000 worth of sewing material, including cloth and thread, also from Rodeah Enterprise, at the same place on Feb 27, 2002.

Mastor was charged under Section 15(1) of the Anti-Corruption Act 1997 and if found guilty, could face a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine.

Mastor, who was unrepresented, posted bail.

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commis-sion deputy public prosecutor Kevin Morais prosecuted.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Port Klang Authority scoffs at Kit Siang’s allegations

KUALA LUMPUR, June 26 — Lim Kit Siang’s accusations that the Minister of Transport and Port Klang Authority (PKA) had failed to submit 300 copies of the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) report to the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) are preposterous, PKA chairman Datuk Lee Hwa Beng said.

In a press statement faxed to Bernama today, Lee said the PKFZ report prepared by Pricewaterhouse Coopers Advisory Services Sdn Bhd (PwCAS) was delivered to the PAC Secretary, who is also the Parliament Secretary, Datuk Roosme Hamzah on June 15, 2009.

He said the PKA also received a signed acknowledgement from the Parliament office for the delivered report.

The PKA wished to clarify that Lim's statements were baseless, he said.

“The PKA received a letter from the PAC Secretary on June 12, 2009, requesting for 300 copies of the PKFZ report for the Members of Parliament and on the same day, consent was obtained from the Minister of Transport to deliver the reports to Parliament,” he said.

He said the PKA acted in a prompt and professional manner following the instruction from the Minister of Transport to deliver the PKFZ report and appendices to Parliament as requested.

The letter from the PAC and relevant documents were also appended with the press statement.

Lee hoped that his statement would clarify the confusion pertaining to the delivery of the PKFZ report. – Bernama

Catholic Church’s challenge to use ‘Allah’ to be heard on July 7

KUALA LUMPUR, June 26 — The Roman Catholic Church has withdrawn its 2008 judicial review application, due to the expiry of the review period, but maintains its challenge to use the term “Allah” in its weekly publication with the fresh application filed on February 16 this year.

High Court judge Lau Bee Lan struck out the 2008 application in chambers.

Counsel S.Selvarajah for the Titular Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur, Tan Sri Murphy Pakiam, informed the media that the church withdrew the application as the permit for the Herald publication for the period January 1 to December 31, 2008, had expired.

As such, the judicial review sought in 2008 had become academic.

On May 5 last year, Pakiam, as publisher of The Herald, named the Home Ministry and Government of Malaysia as respondents in his action for a declaration that the decision of the respondents dated February 12, 2008, prohibiting him from using the word “Allah” in the Herald - The Catholic Weekly is illegal.

He also sought a declaration that he is entitled to use the word “Allah” and that the word “Allah” is not exclusive to the religion of Islam.

Selvarajah said Pakiam’s fresh application for judicial review which was filed on February 16 this year, would be heard on July 7.

Dr M wants Najib to use 'crooked bridge' as bargaining chip

KUALA LUMPUR, June 26 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has stepped up his campaign to revive the idea of a crooked bridge to replace the Johore Causeway connecting Malaysia with Singapore, by calling on the government to once again use it as leverage in resolving outstanding bilateral issues with the republic.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has come under considerable pressure since he proposed a third bridge to connect the two countries earlier this month, instead of reviving Dr Mahathir’s scenic bridge proposal to replace the Malaysian portion of the Causeway.

But a number of Umno politicians have already objected to the third bridge, especially since it is likely that Singapore would want Johor to lift its ban on the sale of sand to the republic before agreeing to it.

Last week the Johore Sultan also rejected the third bridge proposal.

Writing in his blog today, Dr Mahathir said that since Singapore would only agree to a straight bridge to replace the Causeway if the ban on selling sand was lifted and that considering Johoreans were against the sale, the government’s only option was to build the crooked bridge.

“This is the sovereign right of an independent nation,” said Dr Mahathir.

The crooked bridge was the brainchild of Dr Mahathir before he left office in 2003.

His administration had decided to unilaterally build a crooked bridge and demolish the Malaysian portion of the Causeway.

But in 2006 his successor Tun Abdullah Badawi’s government decided to scrap the plan, leading to the souring of ties between the two men.

Dr Mahathir began an intense political campaign against Tun Abdullah and eventually left Umno last year, returning to the party only recently when Najib took office.

But Najib is now beginning to come under pressure from Dr Mahathir even though the latter has not openly criticised the current administration yet.

The former PM continued to single out Abdullah for blame in his blog entry today.

“Tun Abdullah decided not only to not build the bridge but to stop negotiating over all the other issues,” he wrote.

Dr Mahathir cited the package of outstanding bilateral issues, including Singapore’s refusal to release CPF contributions to Malaysians, the railway land issue and the low rate in which the island republic pays for water from Malaysia.

“All these issues are in Singapore’s favour and not negotiating better terms because the Johore people refuse to sell sand is like cutting one’s nose to spite one’s face.

“We are the losers. I think it is a very stupid way of punishing Singapore.”

Last week, Najib said no firm decision had been made yet on whether to go ahead with the proposed third bridge.
-- MalaysianInsider

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

MACC chief plays coy, frustrates PAC probe into PKFZ

KUALA LUMPUR, June 23- Tempers flared today during the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) inquiry into the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal when the head of the anti-graft agency refused to answer most questions thrown at him over its ongoing probe.

The Malaysian Insider understands Datuk Seri Ahmad Said Hamdan had stonewalled the bipartisan parliamentary committee by repeatedly citing legal provisions which he said prevented him from giving specific answers to questions from the lawmakers.

According to sources, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief's stance frustrated Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua to such an extent that he lost his cool and shouted at the government officer, accusing him of being in contempt of Parliament.

Pua also accused the MACC chief of double standards, citing Ahmad Said’s eagerness recently to make public statements about an ongoing investigations for alleged graft against Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim.

Ahmad Said remained silent and refused to respond to the accusations.

When asked about previous reports on corruption and abuse of power lodged in relation to PKFZ in 2004, Ahmad Said said the old files had all been closed because it was concluded that there was no wrongdoing.

These included reports alleging a former transport minister had provided financial guarantees from the government for the project when he was not authorised to do so.

Asked if he still stood by the findings of the earlier investigation, Ahmad Said said he could not comment because the matter was still being investigated.

Ahmad Said also refused to disclose the identities of the 15 witness called so far by the MACC to assist in the probe.

He said the MACC would take up to six months to complete the probe.

The PAC was supposed be briefed last week on the MACC’s investigation into how PKFZ’s initial cost of nearly RM2 billion could rise to RM12.5 billion because of various discrepancies.

However the PAC inquiry was delayed when Ahmad Said failed to appear before the committee, sending MACC investigation director Datuk Mohd Shukri Abdul instead.

When contacted after the session, Pua refused to comment on what had transpired, saying only “Wait for the report”.

Briefing reporters later, PAC deputy chairman Dr Tan Seng Giaw said the committee was briefed on the land acquisition for PKFZ as well as the letters on guarantees provided by a minister.

When asked if the committee was satisfied with Ahmad Said’s explanation, Dr Tan said it was not a matter of being satisfied as the inquiry was an ongoing process.

He said the committee would meet again next Tuesday to decide if the Attorney-General (AG) should be called to the inquiry.
--malaysianinsider

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Gerakan VP: Party out to finish me

GEORGE TOWN: Gerakan vice-president Huan Cheng Guan is crying foul over his three-year suspension for openly attacking the party and its leadership.

Huan said he was not given a chance to defend himself as he was not asked to attend the party’s central working committee (CWC) meeting on Friday night.

“I was only informed about my suspension via a letter from party secretary-general Teng Chang Yeow (yesterday morning).

“Usually when the party decides on a suspension, the person involved is allowed to defend herself or himself but I was not asked to be present and neither did anyone call me,” he said.

“I don’t even know what transpired at the meeting, or whether the allegations made against me had any basis.”

Asked about his next course of action, Huan said he needed a few days to make a decision as his supporters were angry.

“Three years is a long period. This means my political career is finished.” Huan also claimed that a national Youth leader had, at the meeting, alleged that he had met PKR members recently to negotiate positions.

“Don’t use such lines to finish me off. Don’t stoop so low to play such politics,” he said.

On May 29, Huan had told the media that he would quit the party in three weeks, citing disillusionment with the leadership for refusing to heed the lessons from losing Penang to the DAP in last year’s general election.

The CWC then gave him two weeks to reply to a show-cause letter, dated June 1, demanding an explanation for his outburst.

On June 15, Huan said he would remain in the party and was willing to face the consequences.

Teng in a statement said the action was taken since Huan had openly attacked the party leadership by declaring his resignation and threatening to bring his supporters out of the party.

“All these detrimental remarks in the media were made just because he and some of the grassroots leaders had objected to the appointment of a coordinator in one of the constituencies in the state,” he said.

Teng said the CWC decided to suspend him after having considered his written apology to party president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon and the party.

If he is not satisfied, Huan has the right to appeal within 14 days.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

July 30 hearing on suit against Umno by supplier

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court has set July 30 to hear the striking out of a civil suit filed by a supplier against Umno treasurer Datuk Seri Abdul Azim Mohd Zabidi for printed materials, transportation and mineral water used by the party in the 2004 general election.

The matter will be heard by High Court judge Justice Azhar Mohamed.

High Court deputy registrar Aziati Jaafar set the date when the case was mentioned in chambers Wednesday.

Lawyer Mohd Nazruddin Abdullah appeared for the supplier in the court proceedings.

On Aug 11 last year a High Court had ordered Umno to pay RM218mil to Elegant Advisory Sdn Bhd over the supply of the items to the party.

High Court deputy registrar Ahmad Faizadh Yahaya had on July 17 last year issued the judgment in default.

The supplier sought the judgment after Umno failed to respond to its suit. It also had to pay RM225 in costs.

Elegant Advisory had on June 23 last year filed a civil suit against Abdul Azim over the supply of the 11th general election campaign materials, which also included posters, banners, buntings, flags and souvenirs.

However, on Jan 21 this year, Umno succeeded in its bid to set aside the judgment in default.

In an endorsement of claim, the plaintiff (the supplier) said the defendant was sued based on him being an official of the party.

The plaintiff sought damages worth RM218,013,475 and other costs deemed fit by the court.

In response, Abdul Azim filed an application on July 24 to set aside the judgment saying that it was a wrongful action and an abuse of the court process.

In his affidavit supporting the application to set aside the judgment, Abdul Azim said the suit should have named the party’s public officer as defendant instead of him.

He said that it was Barisan Nasional and not Umno, which contested in the 11th general election.

Umno legal advisor Datuk Mohd Hafarizam Harun, who acted for defendant, said that he had immediately filed a summons in chambers to strike out the supplier’s suit.

Hungary to close embassy in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: Hungary has confirmed that it is closing its embassy in Malaysia.

Its deputy Head of Mission here, Robert Papp, told Bernama in a telephone interview Wednesday that Hungary’s Foreign Ministry had informed Wisma Putra on the decision.

He declined to give details when asked about the closure date and which of Hungary’s missions would be in charge in Malaysia.

On Tuesday, Hungary Foreign Minister Peter Balazs was reported as saying that his country was closing four embassies and eight consulates around the world to cut state spending.

The move involved one embassy in Europe (Luxembourg), one in Asia (Malaysia) and two in South America.

The eight consulates included those in Hong Kong, Sydney, Chicago and Duesseldorf.

The central European republic of about 10 million people had been hard hit by the global economic crisis, forcing it to seek a massive international bailout package last October.

Located at Menara Tan & Tan in Jalan Tun Razak here, the Hungarian embassy has three staff and is headed by ambassador Tamas Toth.

The embassy was established in 1991. Malaysia set up its embassy in Budapest in 1993. Kuala Lumpur and Budapest established diplomatic ties in 1969.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Special task force, committees set up on PKFZ audit report

PUTRAJAYA: A special task force has been set up to give the Port Klang Authority (PKA) recommendations on how to rectify the wrongs and pursue appropriate legal action in respect to the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) audit report.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat said the task force, which was formed on Wednesday together with a corporate governance committee and an executive committee, has two months to produce the recommendations.

The corporate governance committee has been tasked with putting in place a long-term control mechanism to ensure the PKA board and management follow good governance rules and regulations.

The executive committee meanwhile has been tasked with reviving the PKFZ.

Ong also said he would also not engage in a tit-for-tat with the Opposition, who has been harping on a number of issues surrounding the PKFZ project.

"A new website, www.pkfznews.com.my, will address all these questions," he said.

Ong said the website would be completely transparent in addressing all questions, such as the audit report actually being ready in February, which was pointed out by a reporter.

"There should be no apprehension. "I understand that the whole nation is watching the development as it unfolds. We are mindful that we must act in the best interest of the people," he said at a press conference in his office on Wednesday.

When asked if this meant that the ministry was serious in taking action against those responsible for the escalating cost, Ong said the it would have to work within its jurisdiction.

When asked if the results from the task force would eventually lead to long drawn out legal battles, Ong said it was not fair to pre-judge the matter at this juncture.

According to a statement by PKA, the task force is to be headed by senior lawyer, Vinayak Pradhan, from legal firm Skrine.

He is to be assisted by Lim Chee Wee, partner of Skrine, PricewaterhouseCoopers Advisory Services (PwCAS) managing director, Chin Kwai Fatt, and PwCAS senior executive director Lim San Peen.

As for the two committees, the corporate governance committee is to be headed by Transparency-International Malaysia president Datuk Paul Low while the executive committee is to be headed jointly by PKA chairman Datuk Lee Hwa Beng and Chartered Institute of Marketing Malaysia president Tan Sri Dr James Alfred.

Lee said the only cost involved in setting up the committees and task force would be professional fees to be paid to the task force.

"Those in the committees would only be getting meeting allowances," he said, adding that it would take two weeks to decide on the terms of reference for the task force.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Mokhzani Mahathir

Son of former pm Mahathir Mohamad runs petroleum company Kencana; former chairman switched roles and was redesignated chief executive in September. Investors include Quek Leng Chan (No. 6). Recently became chairman of fiber optic cable outfit Opcom Holdings, replacing his brother, its founder, who was named deputy international trade and industry minister. Also Malaysian Grand Prix chief, authorized Porsche dealer.

Read More Here