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


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.