Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Najib Said Cops Will Get “Whatever Needed” to Fight Crime. Really?

We fully welcome the Prime Minister’s statement yesterday which said that “the government is prepared to give the police whatever is needed within reason and affordability to raise the effectiveness of the force in fighting crime, particularly serious crime in the country”.

It is also for the first time that Dato’ Seri Najib has made reference to specific incidences of crime which have terrorised Malaysians particularly over “a spate of killings using firearms lately”, and finally admitted that “it affected public confidence and increased fear with regard to security and serious crime”.

Unfortunately, the Prime Minister appears to be barking up the wrong tree in terms of the remedial measures required to fight rampant crime in Malaysia. He said that the Government " will provide the police (with the necessary tools) to fight organized crime and serious crime in the country…. We are prepared to consider the request and requirements of the police as long as there is a guarantee to safeguard against abuse of power and human rights.”

Dato’ Seri Najib appears to continue to place emphasis over the fact that some form of “Emergency Ordinance” which allows for detention without trial is the all-important, one-size-fits-all tool to kill crime in the country. If the Government were to concede to the Police requests for such powers as perhaps “the” solution to fighting crime, the we will only be curing the symptoms, without resolving our weaknesses.

Instead of the Police asking for “whatever needed”, the Government should be the one which must execute “whatever needed” to reform the police force to be more professional, efficient and clean. And by “whatever needed”, it means all sacred cows need to be slaughtered as well, including those vehemently objected to by the police force themselves.

The Prime Minister must carry out his order that “now police must train themselves how to look for evidence.” Dato’ Seri Najib had asked the police to now “provide evidence to charge them in court”. This can only be done if the Government has the political will to enforce reforms onto the police force.

The Government must start by shifting 22,000 police officers from non-crime-fighting division to crime-fighting duties as recommended by the Tun Dzaiddin 2005 Royal Commission of Inquiry. This is because less than 9% of the police force are placed in the criminal investigation department. Instead “internal security force” such as the Federal Reserve Unit, the Light Strike Force and the General Operations Forces forms 31%, while the Administrative, Management and Logistic Units form 40% of the police force.

Secondly, the Police force must also reallocate its officers to urban centres. Currently despite the fact that urban centres are more crime prone than rural areas, the former receives proportionately less allocations than the latter. For example, in Petaling Jaya city, the police to population ratio is 1:470 despite the fact that the national ratio is 1:270.

Thirdly, the Home Ministry must also support the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) as recommended by the Royal Commission of Inquiry, to help improve the professionalism and effectiveness of the Police force and regain the confidence and trust of the people in the force. Without an IPCMC to provide the necessary check and balance, it is unsurprising that Police scored four on a scale five – five being most corrupt in Transparency International’s Global Corruption Barometer survey for Malaysia. Corruption will inevitability destroy all efforts to fight crime in the country.

If the Government continues to ignore and hesitate over the above police reforms and restructuirng to be carried out, then Dato’ Seri Najib’s statement of doing “whatever needed” to fight crime will just be another empty promise. The ultimate victims will be Malaysians who will continue to live in fear of their properties and their lives.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

When National Schools Cultivates Schism and Seggregation

I am a proud product of a Malaysian national school and continues to harbour romantic notions of how the school was able to bring various races of different religions together under a single roof.

However today, such thoughts are mere nostalgic reminiscenes of days long past.  Instead of bringing Malaysians together, the national schools have become the ironic reason, directly and indirectly for our young to be seggregated by race and religion.

There are two key reasons why the non-Malays of this country, particularly the Chinese community has chosen to shun the national schools today.  This will include parents who have gone through the national school system, who often don’t even speak a word of Chinese besides their own name.

The first and perhaps the most dominant reason is the drastic decline in the quality of teaching at the national schools.  Parents who can’t afford private schools would prefer to send their children to the Chinese vernacular schools to ensure that they receive an education of sufficient rigour and quality.  National test results have proven that the Chinese vernacular schools outperform the national schools significantly.

However, the quality of education isn’t the only factor.  No parents would want to send their children to a school where their child will be seggregated and discriminated against, by teachers, schoolmates and the school administration.

Malaysians are up in arms over the news reports yesterday of photographs which have emerged online allegedly showing non-Muslim students of a primary school being made to eat in a shower room during fasting month.  The pictures show students of SK Seri Pristina in Sungai Buloh sitting around tables set up in the school’s changing or shower room.

The school authorities have made the students eat in the makeshift dining room, located next to the toilets.  No food is believed to be served in the canteen, which is said to be closed during Ramadan.

Although the Ministry of Education has “pledged” action on this matter, the above while extreme in its nature, is certainly not the first case, nor will it be expected to be the last.  Over the past few years, we have read many such reports, including a principal in Kedah telling off the Chinese pupils for being insensitive towards their Muslim peers by eating in the school compound during Ramadan and telling them to “balik Cina”.

There were equally ridiculous cases of cheerleading teams being disbanded, decrees for lion dance without drums during Chinese New Year as well as blanket bans on Christian fellowship groups.  And certainly, if one were to pay a visit to practically any national school today during the month of Ramadan, non-Muslim students are seggregated in secluded corners during recess, to “respect” their Muslim peers.

Even during normal months, students in many schools are seggregated so as not to contaminate Muslim food and utensils.  What’s more, many students have in the past complained that they were forced to take Arabic or attend Islamic classes despite being non-Muslims.

Is this the “respect” that our national education system seeks to cultivate?  Shouldn’t it be such that while non-Muslims understand and give respect to Muslims who are fasting, Muslims should equally understand and respect non-Muslim who are not?

The “transformation” of our national schools into such religious hardline schools has major negative ramifications for the country’s future.  Not only are non-Malays extremely deterred from sending their children to these national schools, those who do – both Malays and non-Malays – will be scarred for life.

The non-Malays who attend these schools, such as SK Sri Pristina above, will see the entire country’s system as biased against non-Malays and they will forever be discriminated as unworthy second class citizens.  The Malay students who attend these schools will on the other hand deem it is right and proper to subject other races, religions and cultures to their own beliefs and practices.

If the BN Government is serious about making the national schools, the school of choice for Malaysians and the grounds to breed national unity, then some very drastic reforms need to take place.

We call on the Ministry of Education to mete out swift and severe punishment to the school authorities who had the audacity to come up with policies demeaning our Malaysian children in SK Sri Pristina.  More importantly, we call upon the Ministry to come out of strict guidelines on these matters in our schools.  For example, non-Muslim students must be allowed to eat in school canteens during fasting month, and the canteen must be operated instead of being closed.  The failure to even come up with, and enforce such guidelines would only mean that the Ministry is granting tacit approvals for such actions, and will almost certainly make racial polarisation in Malaysia an irreversible process.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Maybank Must Explain BII Investment Losses

On 20 June 2013, Maybank has quietly announced that the Bank “has disposed of 5,065,380,000 ordinary shares in BII, representing approximately 9% of the issued and paid-up share capital of BII, to a third party investor”.

Maybank has been under pressure to sell its stake in BII due to the Indonesian stock market regulation which requires that at least 20% of BII’s shares to be “free float”.  This was a condition imposed by the Indonesian authorities and accept by Maybank when BII was acquired in 2008.  With the completion of the disposal, the free float of BII shares has increased from around 2.7% to 11.7% of the issued and paid-up share capital of BII.

The curious question was raised however when there was surreptitiously no mention of the price of the transaction, and no mention of who this 3rd party investor was.  The price of the transaction is crucial because that will determine if Maybank had made and realised losses in the sale in the light of the fierce criticisms it received from all parties during the acquisition.

BII was acquired at the cost of RM8.25 billion at approximately Rp455 per share. Maybank was flayed by critics for paying more than 4 times the asset value of BII.

In May 2008, the then Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Badawi defended the acquisition claiming that "the government is confident that the management of Maybank and its Board of Directors have made the purchase not only in the best interest of Maybank but also for the country."  Later in October 2008, the then Finance Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Razak insisted that “the move was still a good one for the country”.

In fact, as late a  January 2012, Maybank Chairman Tan Seri Megat Zaharuddin bin Megat Mohd Nor told Reuters that Maybank is “not going to sell down if we're going to make a loss compared to what we thought it should be.”  The Chairman argued that “we don't think we need to give a discount.”  Zaharuddin, who is also BII's president commissioner, said the bank will not sell BII's stake below Rp510 per share, the price it paid to buy the bank in 2008 before discount.

However, in the 1st July 2013 issue of The Edge, it was revealed “according to banking sources” that the 9% stake had been sold at Rp355 per share, or a significant 21.9% lower than the cost of acquisition.  This 9% stake sale will immediately translate to an estimated realised loss of RM157 million.  And if these loss is extrapolated, Maybank could be looking at a potential loss of RM1.74 billion.

What is worse is if we were to look at BII’s stock price performance since the acquisition 5 years ago.  As at last week, BII shares closed at Rp315 or a 30.7% drop from the acquisition price.  This is despite the global equity markets hitting record highs currently.  At this price, Maybank is already staring at staggering paper losses of RM2.5 billion as a result of the BII acquisition.

This is despite assurances by Bank Negara, represented by Assistant Governor Puan Nor Shamsiah binti Mohd Yunos to the Public Accounts Committee on 18th November 2008 that the acquisition “will result in very minimal impairment to Maybank”.  Despite myself expressing reservations during the meeting then over the potential impairment value, the Deputy Governor Dato’ Zamani bin Abdul Ghani supported Puan Nor Shamsiah’s assessment that any impairment will be minimal or at most “in the region of RM300 million” if the conditions don’t improve.  In reality, as at 31 December 2012, Maybank has already made impairments of RM1.62 billion for the acquisition.

In fact since the acquistion, the return on Maybank’s investment in BII has been abysmal at -0.17%, 1.86%, 2.31% and 6.27% in 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012 respectively.

Despite the above, in the announcement to Bursa Malaysia, Maybank has claimed that the disposal will not result in any material financial impact to the Group.  However, evidence points to the contrary and in the light of billions of ringgit of losses incurred by Maybank as a result BII’s acquisition, it is crucial now for Maybank to come clean, particularly with regards to the most recent disposal of 9% of BII’s shares at Rp355 per share.  More losses will likely be realised when Maybank is forced to sell another 8.3% of BII shares to third parties by 31 December 2013, the new extended deadine granted.

We also call upon the Finance Minister, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak to personally look into this matter, whether the cause of the losses was “a bad business decision” or possibly a reckless abuse of power.  Whichever the cause, action must be taken against those found at fault so that the rakyat’s interest in Maybank Bhd will continue to be protected.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Rahim Noor Exemplifies Why EO Should Not Be Reinstated

Disgraced former Inspector-General of Police (IGP), Tan Sri Abdul Rahim Noor has argued over the weekend in Mingguan Malaysia that the new law to replace the Emergency Ordinance (EO) must permit “preventive detention”.

He claimed the police have admitted that gangsterism is on the rise and even gone “out of control”.  According to the former IGP, the police turned into mere observers, becoming completely helpless in crime prevention since the repeal of the EO.

“They see the situation as having gone out of control. Preventive arrests cannot be made because the laws no longer permit it. Gangsterism is getting worse but they cannot keep it contained,” he said.  Tan Sri Rahim painted a bleak picture of the Royal Malaysian Police today, “it’s like they have broken wings. Things are no longer like they were before. Intelligence gathered can only be documented”.

Instead of justifying the EO, the above admission by the former IGP is the most damning piece of testimony of the competence and professionalism of the Royal Malaysian Police has declined to deplorable standards.  Tan Sri Rahim argued that "the information gathering and tracking is done by the police. They know more deeply about the crime world”.  However, the “intelligence gathered can only be documented” with no further action possible. As a result, these criminals “are free to extort businessmen and rob businesses. Gang fights also keep happening around Klang Valley and Malacca where they kill each other.”

That however, can only mean that either the “intelligence” isn’t very intelligent, or there isn’t anyone intelligent to exercise the “intelligence” to fight crime.

Hence the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak was in this case, absolutely spot on when he decreed that “now police must train themselves how to look for evidence” upon repealing the EO.  Instead of just catching suspects and chucking them into EO detention, Dato’ Seri Najib demanded the police to now “provide evidence to charge them in court”.

The former IGP also dismissed the views of the Attorney General (AG) claiming he “does not know fully about the twist and turns and modus operandi of criminals especially those involved in gangsterism”.

Perhaps Malaysians really do not understand the twist and turns of those involved in gangsterism, it was Tan Sri Rahim Noor himself who had beaten former Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to pulp while the latter was in custody. Despite evidence to the contrary, the Police had for the longest period denied any abuse on their part, and even suggested that Datuk Seri Anwar had given himself the infamous black eye.

Instead of taking his advice on the EO, Tan Sri Rahim Noor’s action instead exemplifies the need to repeal the EO as the police, and even the IGP lacks the competence and cannot be trusted to decide who is or is not guilty before a person is charged in Court.  Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim for example, has been acquited of all charges against him.

We ask that the Government adopts the AG’s position in this matter, that “the existing laws are sufficient to tackle criminals”, and that “it is better to let more guilty people go free than to send the innocent to jail”.

Therefore, the Police must start to lose their dependence on the EO like a crutch and instead, both the Home Minister and the Police must immediately focus the crime-fighting efforts such as restructuring the police force by reallocating more personnel to fight crime and setting up the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC).

Monday, July 22, 2013

1Malaysia Or 1Race-1Religion?

Housing & Local Government’s Minister’s Defence of Ibrahim Ali’s Bible-burning call proves there is no 1Malaysia, but only Malaysia for 1Race and 1Religion

For those who are familiar with the antics of Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan, Member of Parliament for Kota Belud and new Housing and Local Government Minister, he will be the first in the House to stand up and concoct a reason to defend “why the chicken cross the road?”

However his latest response as to why Perkasa chief Ibrahim Ali's urging to burn bibles containing the word ‘Allah’ cannot be compared with the present case against the sex bloggers Alvin Tan and Vivian Lee for insulting Muslims certainly takes the cake.

Datuk Rahman Dahlan argued that Ibrahim’s remark was merely to “correct the error of printing the said bibles”, and hence “burning them was the proper thing to do” just as Muslims burn copies of the Quran that have misprints.

He further added that "what Ibrahim Ali said was normal”, but has been “twisted”.

No right-thinking Malaysian would believe the explanation that Ibrahim’s fiery and emotional remark was just an innocent and virtuous attempt to “correct the error of printing” in the bibles.  And even in the unlikely earth-shattering event that it was, that is no defence against the current Sedition Act.

For example in the landmark case of Public Prosecutor v Mark Koding, Justice Azmi Kamaruddin in the course of his judgment said: “... It is immaterial whether the accused intention or motive was honourable or evil when making the speech” when finding the latter guilty of sedition.  All the judge has to do is to see whether the words are likely to create disaffection against the government, the ruler or the people.

What Datuk Rahman Dahlan has done is to defend the indefensible attempt by the right-wing Perkasa leader, Ibrahim Ali in his attempt to incite Malays and Muslims in the country to burn the holy books of Christians.

However, in the case of the bloggers Alvin Tan and Vivian Lee, better known as “Alvivi”, who probably thought it was “funny” to ridicule fasting Muslims, “justice” was meted out before those charged has an opportunity to defend themselves.

Make no mistake, those found guilty must be punished accordingly and the acts of insulting another’s religion is not acceptable.  However, in the case of Alvivi, they have been denied bail on the basis that “both accused had a tendency to upload pictures that could arouse public outrage”, making them guilty before their defence is called.

The clear-cut double-standards in Malaysian prosecution system proves the hypocrisy of “1Malaysia”, a slogan preached by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak himself.  It also makes a mockery of our Federal Constitution which provides that all Malaysians are equal before the law.

The fact that Ibrahim Ali who the open and defiant call for bibles to be burnt was not only left uncharged, but also now defended by the UMNO Minister, while summary punishment was meted out to the blogging duo who carried out the tasteless prank confirms that the Federal Government practices not “1Malaysia” but Malaysia for 1Race and 1Religion.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

"Private Sector Initiative" Not Justification for Direct Negotiations

Earlier this week, I have questioned the award of the RM1 billion Johor commuter train project to Metropolitan Commuter Network (MCN), a subsidiary of Malaysia Steel Works (KL) Bhd (Masteel) by the Malaysian government without open tender.

Masteel has responded via a press statement to say that “other bidders had not been prevented from submitting their bids to the government”.  It added that “it was a private sector initiative, as opposed to a government-driven project”.

Let me first make it clear that it is the right for any private company to submit any number of unsolicited bids for any types of projects to the Government.  However, the unsolicited bids by these companies do not in themselves justify direct negotiations between the Government and these companies.

The Federal Government, in this case represented by Public-Private Partnership Agency (UKAS) in the Prime Minister’s Department, must still place emphasis on transparency and accountability in the award of any contracts. And the best mechanism to ensure that the interest of the public are fully protected especially in projects such as this, is via open, transparent and competitive tenders.

What is more, this RM1 billion project involves the provision of a 20-year RM700 million soft loan to the concessionaire.  The question that needs to be asked to the Prime Minister’s Department is, if the Government has to fund 70% of the project, why bother privatising it in the first place to a 37-year concession?

As admitted by Masteel CEO, Datuk Seri Tai Hean Leng himself, MCN will take “12 to 13 years to recover its costs”, which means that the concessionaire will have the remaining 24 to 25 years to make lucrative returns for their project.

Masteel has also defended itself in our claim that the company is mainly involved in steel manufacturing, and has no prior experience in train services.  The company argued that it has “experience in complex mechanical and electrical hardware and automation” which gives them “the relevant experience in operating trains are trains are relatively simple mechanical system compared to steel mills”.

It is not my place to judge the competence of Masteel and whether it will be able to manage rail systems despite having no prior experience in such projects.  However, based on the company’s own reply that “experience in complex mechanical and electrical hardware and automation” is sufficient, then I am certain that scores of other companies would be equal to the job.  Certainly in this case, there would then be little justification for a direct negotiation because the project apparently requires very little specialised expertiese as “trains are relatively simple mechanical systems”.

Therefore given Masteel feedback, the direct negotiations must stop immediately and the Prime Minister, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak himself must insist that the project be tendered openly and competitively.

Despite news articles being posted on Masteel on website entitled “Masteel Gets Nod for Iskandar-Singapore Rail Link”, the company has now clarified that “at the time of writing, MCN is still undergoing the process of obtaining the necessary approvals fro various ministries and has not been granted full approval to undertake the project.”

This clarification is welcome as we can now call upon the Government to ensure that this RM1 billion project which has yet to be awarded, be tendered openly instead of being directly negotiated.  It is only by ensuring that all projects awarded by the Government are at the best value, can the interest of the commuters and Malaysians be protected – e.g., the commuter fares will be at the lowest possible.

In the open tender exercise, we would strongly encourage the Government to invite Masteel to take part in the tender to prove that it is the most competent party offering the lowest prices to implement the project.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

How Many Deaths Before IPCMC?

On Wednesday, Member of Parliament for Batu Gajah, V Sivakumar highlighted another death in custody under the police on Tuesday 16 July 2013.  This is the the 11th reported case this year involving a 26-year-old Chew Siang Giap, who was detained for 60 days at the Kangar district police headquarters, was sent to the Batu Gajah rehabilitation centre on July 12.

According to the police report made by the son’s father, "when identifying the body at the Batu Gajah Hospital, he found bruises on the victim's body. Upon confirming that the victim was his son, the father said there were black patches that looked like bruises on the victim's ear, shoulder and thigh".

The question that needs to be asked now is whether the Najib administration is so completely heartless as to see Malaysians die in custody, that no urgent and drastic actions need to be taken to remedy the situation.  Malaysians are certainly beginning to think so as the authorities have shown a complete lack of remorse in these deaths where there have been substantial evidence of the victims being tortured.

The frequency of deaths under police custody is increasing at such a pace that it is imperative for the Federal Government to establish the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) immediately to check on police professionalism.

The Home Minister who was responding in Parliament on the 10th July continued to insist that the proposed IPCMC is unconstitutional and that the existing Enforcement Agencies Integrity Commission (EAIC) is sufficient to resolve the above tragedies.

If the EAIC which was set up since 2011 is indeed effective in improving police professionalism, then surely we would not have seen the number of unnatural deaths under police custody today.  In fact since 2011, none of the deaths under police custody have been investigated by the EAIC.  It is of course not helped by the fact that the Government has never been serious about EAIC in the first place, leaving the agency severely understaffed and under-budget.

Most importantly however, the EAIC is not seen as a threat or deterrent to the rogue police officers.  The EAIC for example, can only refer complaints to disciplinary authorities of the relevant agency.  It has no prosecution powers and has to refer findings on criminal prosecution to the public prosecutor.

On the other hand, the proposed IPCMC has inherent powers to act on officers found guilty of misconduct.  The IPCMC is empowered to mete out caution, discharge, deprive good conduct badges and allowances, stop increment, demote, severely reprimand, transfer or dismiss.  The IPCMC also has the power to institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for an offence commenced by the commission.

In other words, the IPCMC has teeth to enforce discipline, while the EAIC basically has its hands tied behind its back.  The Government has rejected the IPCMC in 2006 essentially due to an open revolt by the Police against its implementation.

What’s more, the argument by the Home Minister that the IPCMC is “unconstitutional” and was “against the concept of justice” are just flimsy excuses.  Even the former Chief Justice, Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin Abdullah who chaired the Royal Commission Inquiry on the Royal Malaysia Police which first recommended the IPCMC has refuted the Home Minister’s argument that the IPCMC is “unconstitutional”.

He referred to Article 140 which “provides that Parliament may, by law, provide for the exercise of Police Force Commission's disciplinary control over members of the police force in such manner and such authority as may be provided in that law”.

He further added that the establishment of an external oversight body “has been adopted by many modern policing systems whose experience has been that internal mechanisms alone are inadequate, unreliable and frequently ineffective."

Therefore it is important for the Najib administration to demonstrate that it is truly a “transformative” government seeking to reform injustices in the system by setting up the IPCMC.  The issue isn’t just one of increasing the number of investigating officers in the EAIC (although it will certainly help), but one which is about giving teeth to the relevant Commission.  The Government is free to rename the IPCMC as the EAIC, and expand the Commission to include as many agencies as it wants.  However, if the Commission doesn’t have teeth, then it is certainly designed to fail.

Friday, July 19, 2013

DAP Supports AG Against Preventive Detention

Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail has given his unequivocal opinion yesterday that he “will never agree to preventive detention".

Tan Sri Abdul Gani further stressed that “the existing laws are sufficient to tackle criminals”, and that “it is better to let more guilty people go free than to send the innocent to jail”. He cited laws which included the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act (Sosma), Prevention of Crime Act, the Penal Code, the Criminal Procedure Code and Evidence Act.

The DAP fully welcome the Attorney-General’s position on this matter just as we supported the move by the Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Razak in his move to repeal the Emergency Ordinance (EO) at the end of 2011.

We are fully against the move by the Home Minister, Dato’ Seri Zahid Hamidi to bring back the Emergency Ordinance or laws which involve detention without trial.  The Home Minister has claimed that he has statistics from a recent study on crime which justifies the need to revive the EO, to allow the Police to place suspects under detention without trial for 2 years.

He claimed that according to the study, 90% of organised crimes were carried out by ex-detainees who were released from Simpang Renggam where they were held under the EO.

We have written earlier to dismiss the Minister’s claim as a figment of his imagination and challenged him to produce the report immediately.  We have also shown using the Police’s own statistics that despite the EO, the crime index rose the fastest to its peak in 2008.  At the same time, despite the EO’s repeal at the end of 2011, the Government has insisted that crime rates were down in 2012.

However, even if in the hypothetical scenario that his allegations are true, the solution isn’t about giving the powers to the police to put people into detention without trial but instead to beef up and improve the police force to be able to charge them in court for their crimes.

It is certainly fair for Malaysians to ask, that if the police force isn’t sufficiently competent to investigate and charge a criminal for his offences, then why should we believe that they will be sufficiently competent to send only those who are “guilty” to detention centres without a fair trial?

Therefore, we would like to call upon the Home Minister and the Inspector General of Police (IGP) to accept the Prime Minister’s advice that “now police must train themselves how to look for evidence.”  Instead of just catching suspects and chucking them into EO detention, Dato’ Seri Najib asked the police to now “provide evidence to charge them in court”.

Instead of whining like cry babies losing their pacifiers, the Police must start to lose their dependence on the EO like a crutch.  Instead both the Home Minister and the Police must immediately focus the crime-fighting efforts on the following:
  1. Start shifting 22,000 police officers from non-crime-fighting division to crime-fighting duties as recommended by the Tun Dzaiddin 2005 Royal Commission of Inquiry.  This is because less than 9% of the police force are placed in the criminal investigation department.  Instead “internal security force” such as the Federal Reserve Unit, the Light Strike Force and the General Operations Forces forms 31%, while the Administrative, Management and Logistic Units form 40% of the police force.
  2. The Police force must also reallocate its officers to urban centres.  Currently despite the fact that urban centres are more crime prone than rural areas, the former receives proportionately less allocations than the latter. For example, in Petaling Jaya city, the police to population ratio is 1:470 despite the fact that the national ratio is 1:270.
  3. The Home Ministry must also support the establishment of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission as recommended by the Royal Commission of Inquiry, to help improve the professionalism and effectiveness of the Police force and regain the confidence and trust of the people in the force
With the rejection of the EO by the Attorney-General, we hope that the lobbying for its return by the BN hardliners will end.  Countries such as Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and the Western countries are able to keep crime at very low levels without unjust laws on preventive detention. We believe that Malaysia can be equal to their achievements as long as our Police force makes crime-fighting their primary objective, and by improving their effectiveness and professionalism.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

KTMB's RM85m Automated Fare Collection Failure: Heads Must Roll

On 18 January 2011, I had issued a press statement seeking the then Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha to explain why a RM85 million Automated Fare Collection (AFC) System for KTM Berhad (KTMB) was awarded to a company without the necessary track record.

In fact it was then confirmed by both the Transport Minister as well as KTMB officials that KTMB is facing investigations by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission over irregularities over the award of the RM85 million “Design, manufacture, supply, installation, testing and commissioning of automatic fare collection (AFC) system for KTMB's Commuter Stations”.

KTMB was being investigated for alleged fraud in rigging the tender evaluation process to award the contract to Hopetech Sdn Bhd, despite being 18% more expensive than 2 other bidders.

However, instead of suspending the project pending investigations, the Transport Minister, who is also the MCA Secretary-General, Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha had immediately decreed that the project must proceed with the awarded contractor without delay.

The project was supposed to have been completed in April 2012 but the deadline has been extended multiple times at the request of Hopetech Sdn Bhd.  The last “go-live” date was in January 2013 this year but the AFC system is no where near completion.  I have received reliable information that the situation is so bad that hardware that was procured for the project have since been damaged, stolen or lost as a result of neglect and prolonged extension.

The new Transport Minister, Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein must immediately take action and bring those responsible for the above fiasco to book.  This is especially since the Ministry has been specifically warned on the competence of Hopetech, as well as the irregularities in the contract award highlighted.

In fact, I had pointed out more than 2 years ago that the Directors of Hopetech had terrible track records and were in major financial trouble.  The CEO and Executive Director,  Mohamed Zafril bin Mohamed Zabdin and the Managing Director, Hairul Ridza Hayata bin Hayata Elias are both directors of other companies which are either facing winding up petitions or have been wound up on orders by the court.

Despite the above warnings, Datuk Seri Kong and his team at the Transport Ministry persisted with the award, without any further action from MACC.  The outcome is a disaster and tax-payers’ monies are burnt.  The questions which need to be answered today are:

  1. Why is the Ministry of Transport persisting with the existing contractor instead of terminating the contract based on non-performance?
  2. Why hasn’t the Ministry of Transport imposed “Liquidated Ascertained Damages” on Hopetech for the severe delays caused?
  3. Why was there no action by the MACC despite all the evidence presented on the irregularities of the award?

All the above proves the complete failure by the Government to tackle and enforce transparency and integrity, and the failure of the MACC to serve as an effective institution to fight corruption.  While in this case, “nasi sudah jadi bubur”, it will serve as a good platform to demonstrate the government’s commitment to fight incompetence and corruption by punishing the responsible officials for the project.

It will then serve as a warning to other officers to ensure that no waste of tax-payers’ monies will be tolerated, and the Najib administration has the necessary political will to institutionalise transparency and accountability.  The move will also go a long way towards redeeming the severely tarnish image of the Government as reflected in the latest results of the Global Corruption Barometer where Malaysian’s perception of corruption has plunged from 49% to 31%.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Sistem Rel Iskandar RM1 billion Diswastakan Secara Rundingan Terus

Perdana Menteri Dato’ Seri Najib Razak telah berjanji untuk menjalankan sistem tender terbuka dalam semua perolehan kerajaan untuk meningkatkan ketelusan dan mengurangkan rasuah. Akan tetapi kontrak kerajaan bernilai berbilion-bilion ringgit masih ditawarkan secara rundingan terus tanpa sebarang tender terbuka selepas pilihanraya umum ke-13.

Syarikat Malaysian Steel Works (Masteel) Bhd telah mengumumkan pada 31hb Mei 2013 melalui Bursa Malaysia bahawa mereka telah menghadiri satu mesyuarat dengan Jawatan Kerjasama Awam Swasta (UKAS) yang dipengerusi oleh Menteri Kewangan Kedua, Dato’ Ahmad Husni Hussain.

Dalam mesyuarat tersebut, anak syarikat Masteel iaitu Metropolitan Commuter Network (MCN) telah diberikan kebenaran untuk memuktamadan struktur pinjaman mudah sebanyak RM700 juta daripada pihak kerajaan untuk membina satu sistem rail yang baru di Iskandar Malaysia. Sistem rel ini akan melingkungi 20 stesyen termasuk Kulai, Gelang Patah, Nusajaya, Johor Baru dan Masai.

MCN merupakan satu syarikat usahasama di mana Masteel memiliki 60%, manakala syarikat KUB Bhd di mana UMNO mempunyai kepentingan, memiliki 40%.

Dalam satu temuramah dengan The Edge Malaysia bertarikh Jun 17, CEO Masteel, Dtauk Seri Tai Hean Leng telah menjelaskan bahawa MCN akan melabur sebanyak RM300 juta untuk melaksanakan projek ini dengan pinjaman “soft loan” RM700 juta daripada kerajaan.  Mereka akan diberikan konsesi untuk menjalankan sistem komuter ini selama 37 tahun walaupun MCN akan dapat “break even” selepas 12 tahun.

Sebahagian daripada konsesi tersebut termasak sekeping tanah sebesar 14.3ha di Kempas, Johor yang akan diberikan kepada MCN untuk bukan sahaja membina depot, tetapi juga untuk membina bangunan komersil.  Mengikut kata Datuk Seri Tai, “tanah ini adalah tanah pilihan kerana ia bersebelahan dengan Setia Tropicana”.

Kami ingin mempersoalkan asas pihak kerajaan telah memilih syarikat Masteel untuk projek rel ini secara rundingan terus.  Mengapa pihak kerajaan tidak menjalankan tender terbuka untuk projek sebegini? Soalan juga tertimbul di mana apakah keperluan untuk menswastakan projek ini jika kerajaan perlu membiayai 70% daripada kos pembinaan melalui pemberian pinjaman mudah?

Tambahan lagi, syarikat Masteel bukan merupakan syarikat yang berpengalaman dalam bidang rel.  Aktiviti utama Masteel adalah pembuatan dan pembekalan pelbagai jenis keluli di Malaysia.  Syarikat tersebut yang hanya memperolehi keuntungan bersih RM24 juta pada tahun 2012 tidak pernah terlibat dalam kerja-kerja pembinaan dan pengoperasian rel.  Adakah syarikat Masteel merupakan syarikat yang terbaik untuk melaksanakan projek RM1 bilion ini dengan bantuan kerajaan sebanyak RM700 juta?

Pihak kerajaan perlu menjelaskan rasional untuk meneruskan tawaran projek secara rundingan terus, terutamanya bila ia kerap-kali ditawarkan kepada syarikat-syarikat yang tiada berpengalaman dan tidak mempunyai dana kewangan yang mencukupi. Apatah lagi pihak kerajaan perlu memperuntukkan pinjaman yang cukup besar walaupun pihak konsesi akan dapat menerima pulangan modal dalam jangka masa singkat.

Pihak PEMANDU telah mengemukakan Pelan Transformasi Kerajaan (GTP) pada tahun 2009 untuk mempertingkatkan ketelusan dan akauntabiliti dalam segala perolehan kerajaan, demi mengurangkan pembaziran dan rasuah.  Akan tetapi sampai hari ini, kita dapat melihat bahawa kerajaan hanya cakap tak serupa bikin.

Pada masa yang sama, Perdana Menteri Dato’ Seri Najib Razak sendiri telah berjanji supaya “reformasi” akan diteruskan jika BN dipilih semula sebagai kerajaan.  Adakah kesemua ini merupakan janji-janji kosong di mana pihak kroni BN akan diberikan kepentingan dan kekayaan.

Najib, Where Are You?

It has only been 10 weeks since the 13th General Election was concluded, but the Prime Minister, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak who won with a fairly comfortable 44 seat majority in Parliament, appears to have completely lost his bearings.  The Government of the day, instead of seizing the initiative and giving direction to the country, is stumbling and fumbling from one controversy to another.

During the entire election campaign, Dato’ Seri Najib has presented himself as a reformist to all Malaysians, as the man who will make Malaysia the “best democracy in the world”.  However, Dato’ Seri Najib has been unable to put his own house in order with Cabinet Ministers split into 2 factions, one claiming no intent to repeal the Sedition Act, while the other still maintaining that the Cabinet has decided to repeal it.  The most obvious signal that the Act will not be repealed as promised is the fact that it has been used repeatedly over the past 10 weeks to charge political activists.

Then we have found Cabinet Ministers and Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties publicly squabbling over the tabling of the Adminstration of Islamic Law (Federal Territories) Amendment Bill 2013 which allowed for the conversion of an underaged child to a Muslim by a single parent.  This Bill is significant as it is the very first piece of legislation sought to be passed by the BN Government, which sets the tone and agenda for the 13th Parliament. The spat is also serious because the Cabinet has actually “approved” the Bill to be tabled, before the subsequent volte-face which proved to be a major embarrassment for the ruling party.  Throughout the entire heated controversy, the Prime Minister remained silent as a mouse.

While publicly calling for a post-election “national reconciliation”, the Prime Minister has failed to condemn the extremist elements in UMNO and BN, particularly via their mouthpiece, Utusan Malaysia for continuing to spew racist insults against the minorities, and inflammatory comments to incite hatred among the majority Malays.  Instead of defending the right thinking Malaysians such as the CEO of AirAsiaX, Azran Osman who expressed disgust over Utusan’s anti-Chinese stance, Dato’ Seri Najib allowed the unfettered demonisation of Azran as a traitor to the Malays by UMNO’s Members of Parliements.

When there is a crisis of confidence in the Royal Malaysian Police occuring with 10 deaths in custody within just 6 months, while violent crimes have become a norm in the cities, Dato’ Seri Najib has let the debate over the set up of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), as well as the reversal of his earlier reforms such as the repeal of the Emergency Ordinance (EO) rage unchecked.

Dato’ Seri Najib has let his new Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Paul Low fumble over the justification of Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) as opposed to the IPCMC.  He has let the new Home Minister, Dato’ Seri Zahid Hamidi go on a rampage in blaming the repeal of the Emergency Ordinance by Dato’ Seri Najib himself, for the apparent rise in crime.

The Prime Minister has called upon Malaysians to give him the mandate to carry out his promised reforms, and yet the reverse seems to be happening with Dato’ Seri Najib quietly conceding to the party hardliners.

And when Transparency International released the latest Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) report which indicated a severe deterioration on the perception of corruption by Malaysians in the country  from 49% in 2011 to 31% in 2013, Dato’ Seri Najib did not make a squeal.  This is despite the fact that the GCB is a Key Performance Indicator for his flagship Reducing Corruption National Key Result Area (NKRA).

He only let his Performance Management and Delivery Unit admit that the Government has not done enough to battle corruption and concede that “radical reforms” are needed. However, there are no “radical reforms” to be seen as measures to improve transparency and accountability such as the public declaration of assets by Ministers, open and competitive tenders for multi-billion ringgit privatisation contracts are rejected outright.

Malaysians are asking, “where is our Prime Minister?” The are beginning to wonder if he has gone into hiding to avoid having to confront the difficult controversies engulfing the country.  The nation is like a rudderless ship crying out for a leader to put his foot down, and yet what Malaysians are getting are fueding first officers in the absence of their captain.

We call upon Datuk Seri Najib Razak to pick up his courage and demonstrate his political will in ensuring that Malaysia remains on the path to reforms and transformation has he has promised.  The problems Malaysians face today will not go away quietly if he were to remain tongue-tied.  Instead he will lose not only the confidence of ordinary Malaysians, but even that of his own political party.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Show Us Crime Stats Now, Why Wait Till September?

If Home Minister Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi has proof that former Emergency Ordinance detainess account for 90% of the rise in crime, show Malaysians now.  Why wait until September?

Yesterday, Home Minister Dato’ Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi claimed he will present statistics from a recent study on crime in full at the next Parliament session to justify the need to revive the Emergency Ordinance (EO), to allow the Police to place suspects under detention without trial for 2 years.

He said “I obtained the statistics, which were derived empirically, that in Selangor, 90% of organised crimes were carried out by ex-detainees who were released from Simpang Renggam where they were held under the EO. I will present the statistics and the study in the Dewan Rakyat in the coming session, the September session, to prove the need for the EO.”

The perplexing question for us to ask the Home Minister is, if the study is already concluded, and he already have in his possession the study, why does he need to wait 2 months before the report is presented to the Parliament?  Why not present it next week while the Parliament is still in session?  In fact, even if the report isn’t yet presentable next week, he could always call for a press conference and release the results of the study.  There is absolutely no necessity to wait a whole 2 months “to prove the need for the EO”.

However, if you read into Dato’ Seri Zahid’s statement, one can only deduce that it is completely oxymoronic.  If the “study” even exists, then surely for a shocking 90% of the crimes to be identified as being carried out by ex-detainees who were released from Simpang Renggam, these “criminals” would have been identified, arrested, investigated and possibly even charged already.  But if they have been arrested and investigated – and there have been very few reports of such, then how come crime is still rampant and the Police still needs the EO?

Is the Minister trying to tell us that they have identified all the suspects of all the crime incidences over the past year but are unable to arrest and charge them?

In fact if Dato’ Seri Zahid’s allegation that 90% of these crimes were committed by former EO detainees were true, it actually doesn’t “prove the need for the EO”.  On the contrary, it only proved that the police force to be totally incompetent!  The question needs to be asked, that if the Police is indeed so certain of who committed 90% of these crimes, then why can’t they be charged in court and put in jail?  If the Police is unable to charge all of them, surely the Police is able to garner evidence and charge half or even a quarter of them?

However, based on the Home Minister’s argument, the Police are absolutely helpless without the EO to put these “criminals” to jail via our criminal justice system.  Hence the need for the Police to take the easy way out, by becoming the witness, prosecutor and judge to place these “criminals” under detention without trial.

Unlike Dato’ Seri Zahid who seems to have trouble coming up with concrete statistics, we have shown using past published police statistics have shown that the EO was completely ineffective in fighting rising crime. For example, the Malaysian crime index was rising rapidly from 2003 to 2008. At the peak, with the crime rate rose by 34.0% from 2004 to 2007.  During this period, the EO was readily available at the Police’s disposal and yet, crime was seemingly unstoppable.

However, despite the EO repeal at the end of 2011, the Police and the Home Ministry were claiming victory in the fight against crime, with the crime index declining by 7.6% in 2012.  Hence, based on the above official crime statistics presented by the Police themselves, how can the Home Minister, Dato’ Seri Zahid Hamidi, now claim that the cause of rising crime is almost entirely due to the repeal of the Emergency Ordinance?

Therefore, just like Dato’ Seri Zahid’s utter nonsense over the “Red Bean Army” allegedly funded with hundreds of millions of ringgit by the DAP, this so-called study which shows 90% of organised crimes being committed by ex-EO detainees is a complete figment of Zahid’s imagination.  This study does not exist.

We are seriously concerned that the Home Minister is taking advantage of the public fear of rising crime to bring back draconian laws for sinister purposes in Malaysia, instead of focusing on how to improve the professionalism, efficiency and effectiveness of the Police in fighting crime.

We call upon both the IGP and the Home Minister to heed Dato’ Seri Najib Razak’s advice when he announced the repeal of the EO, that “now police must train themselves how to look for evidence.”  Instead of just catching suspects and chucking them into EO detention, Dato’ Seri Najib asked the police to now “provide evidence to charge them in court”.

Friday, July 12, 2013

PEMANDU, So Where Are The "Radical" Reforms?

We welcome the statement by Performance Management and Delivery Unit of the Prime Minister’s Department (Pemandu) which admitted that the Government has not done enough to battle corruption and that “radical reforms” are needed.  This comes after the latest Global Corruption Barometer (GCB) report which showed that the people's perception of the government's effectiveness in combatting corruption has plunged significantly from 49% previously in 2011 to a shocking low of 31%.

Director of Anti-Corruption NKRA of Pemandu, Ravindran Devagunam said Pemandu acknowledged the results, saying “the survey clearly shows that what we have done is not enough. We need to intensify efforts and continue to push for improvements across the social, political and business arenas.”  This is a complete reversal from earlier in April this year, when Ravindran’s fellow NKRA director Datuk Hisham Nordin told Bernama, that the NKRA has exceeded the target of the KPI set to fight corruption in the country.

In the same statement, Ravindran said among the new measures being implemented are that “Ministers are currently required to declare their assets to the prime minister as well as to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC)”.  In addition, Special Officers to the Ministers would declare their assets to their respective minister as well as to MACC starting this year.

Pemandu has also suggested that “to increased transparency and accountability by ministries, Ravindran said the Auditor-General’s Performance Audit Report would be tabled at every Parliament sitting instead of just once a year.”

All of the above are fine proposals, but they are hardly radical, and clearly do not go far enough to demonstrate an impact against corruption.  When Penang state executive councillors are already publicly declaring their assets, the policy for Ministers disclose assets privately to the MACC falls far short of creating a ripple.  What’s more, the MACC to date has been part of the corruption problem and not the solution.  Hence until such a time when MACC is able to show its teeth and prove its worth, such assets disclosures to MACC will be viewed with disdain.

The move to table the Auditor-General’s Performance Audit Report at every Parliament sitting is certainly welcomed.  However, if the Government isn’t even able to resolve the scandals, and punish the responsible culprits arising from the annual tabling of the Auditor-General’s Report previously, how would increased frequency of the report improve the Government’s commitment to fight corruption?

Perhaps the least credible element of the statement was when Ravindran said the appointment of Datuk Paul Low, his superior as Minister of Governance and Integrity in the cabinet line-up is “a clear manifestation of the prime minister’s commitment towards fighting corruption”.

Ravindran said “with Low leading the coalition across ministries, NGOs, professional bodies and business and the Rakyat at large, we believed that the war on corruption will intensify, bringing about radical changes and deliver greater results.”
Such endorsement for Datuk Paul Low in itself will extinguish any flickering hopes Malaysians have for real transformation.

Datuk Paul Low, despite his past experience as the President of Transparency International, has at every practical opportunity become the apologist for the Najib administration, justifying continuity and not change.  He has gone on record to reject the Independnent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC), public declaration of assets by Ministers, offering of the Public Accounts Committee chairmanship to the parliamentary opposition and even supported the return of Emergency Ordinance for detention without trial.

To quote The Malaysian Insider, Datuk Paul Low also “did not do himself any favours last night when reacting to the survey results that showed that the public’s confidence in the government’s anti-corruption effort had dropped sharply in 2012. Low said that corruption is a global menace and not unique to Malaysia.”

He said that “the Malaysian finding is consistent with the worldwide results where 36 countries viewed the police as the most corrupt.”  These answers are in sharp contrast to his statements when commenting on graft surveys in his capacity as TI-M president.  Then, he pointed out that the MACC and other reforms introduced by the government were ineffective in fighting corruption.

Let us be clear that Pakatan Rakyat wants to see the fight against corruption succeed.  However if the above measures are the standards by which Pemandu deem as “radical”, then certainly Najib’s administration’s attempts to reduce corruption will fail miserably.  Being “radical” in this case, doesn’t have to be “out of this world”.

The Government just needs political will to ensure open, competitive and transparent tenders for mega-privatisation contracts, public declaration of assets by Ministers, giving teeth to regulatory agencies such as MACC and IPCMC and promoting check and balance within the Parliamentary system.  The implementation of these measures will go a long way towards redeeming the decling corruption barometer in the country.

Apakah Sebab Malindo Air Diberikan Layanan Istimewa Daripada Najib?

Perdana Menteri Dato’ Seri Najib Razak telah melancarkan syarikat penerbangan Malindo pada tahun lalu 12hb September.  Malindo Air yang merupakan hasil usahasama antara National Aerospace and Defence Industries Sdn Bhd (NADI) dan PT Lion Group, diumumkan oleh Perdana Menteri bahawa akan mula beroperasi pada 1 Mei 2014.

Masalah percanggahan kepentingan telah berlaku dalam jawapan yang telah diberikan oleh Kementerian Pengangkutan kepada saya pada minggu lalu, 4hb Julai 2013, di mana pihak Menteri memaklumkan bahawa Malindo Air hanya diberikan Lesen Perkhidmatan Udara oleh Jabatan Penerbang Awam (DCA) pada 28 Februari tahun ini.

Maksudnya, Dato’ Seri Najib Razak telah melancarkan dan mengumumkan tarikh operasi sebelum DCA dapat menjalankan audit ke atas kelayakan syarikat tersebut untuk memperolehi lesen berkenaan.  Kejadian ini telah memberikan bukti yang lebih kukuh bahawa Malindo Air telah diberikan sokongan luarbiasa daripada Perdana Menteri sendiri sehingga kekurangan-kekurang lain syarikat tersebut diabaikan.

Mengikut jawapan Menteri Pengangkutan, antara kriteria dalam memberikan lesen perkhidmatan udara adalah “kedudukan kewangan yang kukuh” dan “lulus dalam menjalani audit teknikal”.

Mengikut laporan Suruhanjaya Syarikat Malaysia (SSM) terkini, Malindo Air hanya mempunyai “paid up capital” sebanyak RM1 juta sahaja.  Pemilik saham utama Malindo Air, syarikat NADI, seperti yang telah dibongkarkan tahun lalu, telah melanggari Akta Syarikat 1965 kerana tidak memfailkan penyata kewangan mereka sejak tahun 2007, atau 6 tahun berturut-turut!

Saya ini bertanya kepada pihak Kementerian Pengangkutan, adakah sebuah syarikat yang hanya berkapita sebanyak RM5 juta, yang dimiliki oleh sebuah syarikat yang melanggari undang-undang dan tidak mempunyai penyata kewangan terkini, layak untuk diiktiraf “berkedudukan kewangan yang kukuh”?

Apatah lagi, syarikat usahasama PT Lion Group merupakan syarikat penerbangan yang mempunyai trek rekod yang amat diragui di Indonesia dan antarabangsa.

Adakah Kementerian sedar bahawa Lion Mentari Air adalah syarikat penerbangan yang diharamkan di European Union atas sebab “safety concerns due to alleged poor maintenance and regulatory oversight standards on the part of the EU, preventing them from entering the airspace of any member state”.

[Senarai penuh syarikat penerbangan yang diharamkan boleh diperolehi di sini.

Baru-baru ini, pada bulan April, sebuah kapal terbang Lion Air terhempas di Bali (gambar dibawah).  Tahun lalu, ramai juruterbang Lion Air ditahan kerana menagih dadah dan syarikat tersebut dihukum oleh Kementerian Pengangkuatan Indonesia.  Dan pada Julai 2011, perkhidmatan Lion Air digantung beberapa bulan atas “on-time performance” yang terlalu teruk.  Isu-isu di atas masih belum mengambilkira banyak kemalangan yang telah berlaku sebelum 2011.

Kami mengalu-alukan persaingan yang lebih sengit dalam sektor penerbangan di Malaysia.  Rakyat Malaysia akan lebih beruntung dengan tambang penerbangan yang lebih murah dan kompetitif.  Akan tetapi, lesen yang ditawarkan kepada Malindo Air ini amat diragui dan soalan-soalan integriti tertimbul atas isu-isu kewangan dan keselamatan yang telah saya bangkitkan.

Soalan yang paling perlu dijawab oleh Datuk Seri Najib Razak, adalah sama ada Lesen Perkhidmatan Penerbangan ini telah diluluskan atas pemilikan saham 10.5% syarikat NADI oleh DZJJ Sdn Bhd, yang dimiliki oleh anak-anak Datuk Seri Jamaluddin Jarjis, Nur Anis binti Jamaluddin dan Ikhwan Hafiz bin Jamaluddin, yang berumur 27 dan 25. 5.7% syarikat NADI juga dimiliki oleh Kementerian Kewangan.

Soalan ini penting kerana ini menunjukkan bahawa Malaysia, selepas “transformasi” Datuk Seri Najib Razak, masak dipengaruhi dengan gejala kroni Barisan Nasional.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Najib Losing the Fight Against Corruption

Malaysia’s drastic decline in Transparency International’s Corruption Barometer exposes the bare-bones underneath the razzmatazz of the “Fighting Corruption” NKRA.

The Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has staked his premiership on 6 National Key Result Areas (NKRA), of which “Reducing Corruption” was one of the most important, if not the most.  Over the past four years, the Prime Minister and his team has razzled and dazzled Malaysians and foreigners over the “efforts” and “successes” in achieving the key performance indicators (KPIs) for the NKRA.

In 2011, Pemandu had boasted that the initiatives taken have shown tremendous results in eradicating the crime of corruption. The Government also pointed out that “the effectiveness of the actions taken is being slowly felt and acknowledged by the general public”.

Pemandu had cited that according to the Transparency International (TI-M) Global Corruption Barometer Survey (GCB), corruption rate in Malaysia has slightly increased from 48% in 2010 to 49% in 2011, proving the improvements.  In fact, the Reducing Corruption NKRA director Datuk Hisham Nordin told Bernama in April, that the NKRA has exceeded the target of the KPI set to fight corruption in the country.

However, in the latest GCB report, the people's perception of the government's effectiveness in combatting corruption has plunged significantly from 49% previously in 2011 to a shocking low of 31%.  This is a far cry from the official objective of the NKRA to raise Malaysia’s GCB to 70% by 2015.  The last time the perception of effectiveness of the government in this area was this low was in 2009, at 28% when the Prime Minister first launched the NKRAs with much fanfare.

According to the survey, only a miserable 14% of respondents thought that corruption in the last two years had decreased, 39% thought that it had increased and 47% thought that it remained unchanged.

The survey indicates that Malaysians are perhaps seeing through all the razzmatazz, the song and dance and the gorgeous packaging for the NKRA after more than 3 years, discovering that nothing much has really changed.  Very little effort is placed in punishing the corrupt among the rich, powerful and politically-connected, while every effort is made to thwart whistleblowing and exposes by opposition politicians and civic-minded individuals.

What rubs salt to wound is the fact that the annual budget allocations to the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) before and after 2009 respectively have increased by leaps and bounds over the past decade.  In 2003 when we were best placed over the decade in the TI Corruption Perception Index (CPI) at number 33 in the world, the budget for ACA was RM67.7 million.

In 2008 before Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi handed over the reigns to Datuk Seri Najib Razak, we were then ranked 47th in the world with a budget of RM146.7 million.  In 2012, after the “massive” MACC reforms, the “Reducing Corruption” NKRA and an increased budget of RM211.2 million, we are now ranked a lowly 56th in the world.

It would appear that the bigger the budget and more staffing and resources given to MACC, the more corrupt Malaysia has become.

If Datuk Seri Najib Razak is serious about fighting and reducing corruption, then his administration must certainly get their act together with the necessary political will to slaughter all sacred cows. It is time to do away with the razzmatazz and multitude of self-praise and excuses for the lack of action, to ensure that those guilty of corruption, particularly of grand corruption are punished accordingly. Frivolous and sorry remarks by the Prime Minister’s new recruit, the former TI-M President, Datuk Paul Low like “political stunts had led to numerous baseless graft complaints being filed [which] had in turn caused the low rate of probes by MACC” isn’t helpful at all to the cause against corruption.

Jaminan Hishamuddin Untuk KLIA2 Tidak Meyakinkan

Menteri Pengangkutan Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein telah memberikan jaminan bahawa lapang terbang kos rendah KLIA2 akan bermula operasi pada 2hb Mei 2014 dan tidak akan ditunda lagi.  Malangnya jaminan beliau langsung tidak menyakinkan kerana beberapa jaminan serupa telah diberikan oleh Menteri-Menteri sebelum ini.

Malah, Perdana Menteri sendiri, Datuk Seri Najib Razak telah mengumumkan selewat-lewatnya pada 5hb Januari tahun ini bahawa KLIA2 akan sedia beroperasi pada 28hb Jun, walaupun kerja-kerja pembinaan akan siap pada bulan Mei, sebulan sebelum pelancaran.

“Ia sepatutnya siap Mei ini. Saya sudah menyuarakan pandangan kita tidak perlu tergesa-gesa membuka KLIA2 (apabila ia siap). Tetapi sebagai mana disasarkan, saya memutuskan ia harus bertepatan tarikh pembukaan KLIA (sebelum ini) iaitu pada 28 Jun (1998).”

Pengarah Urusan MAHB Tan Sri Bashir Ahmad pada masa yang sama mengalu-alukan keputusan Perdana Menteri dan berkata semua isu berkaitan dengan lapangan terbang baru itu dijangka diselesaikan sebelum tarikh pembukaan.

Akan tetapi, bukan sahaja KLIA2 tidak dapat dilancarkan pada bulan lalu, projek tersebut ditunda selama 1 tahun akibat pembinaan yang lewat.  Kalaulah jaminan daripada Perdana Menteri pun tak boleh pakai, rakyat Malaysia tidak mungkin dapat menerima jaminan Menteri Pengangkutan yang baru bahawa KLIA2 dapat siap 1 tahun kemudian secara bulat-bulat.

Kita dapat perhati bahawa sikap MAHB selama ini adalah untuk menuding jari kepada pihak lain selama ini tanpa mengakui bahawa keputusan-keputusan MAHB untuk memindahkan tapak KLIA2 dan juga ketidakcekapan pengurusan projek telah menyebabkan penundaan projek berkali-kali sejak tarikh asal pada September 2011, lebih kurang 2 tahun yang lalu.

Sehingga minggu lalu, MAHB melalui Pengurus Besarnya, Datuk Azmi Murad telah menyalahkan pihak AirAsia kerana berkeras dalam permintaan mereka untuk sistem bagasi berotomatik, pihak Jabatan Penerbangan Awam yang meminta supaya satu menara kawalan baru dibina dan pihak kontraktor terminal utama, UEM-Bina Puri JV atas kelewatan pembinaan.

Kesemua pihak di atas telah menafikan tuduhan daripada MAHB dan rakyat masih berkabur dan tidak mendapat kebenaran dalam skandal yang telah memakan perbelanjaan sebanyak RM4 billion ini.

Akan tetapi, yang paling penting sekali adalah percanggahan antara penundaan selama 1 tahun projek dan kadar persiapan pembinaan yang dikatakan sudah mencapai tahap 93%.  Jika KLIA2 pada keseluruhannya telah mencapai persiapan 93%, mengapa kita memerlukan 1 tahun lagi sebelum lapangan terbang yang baru ini dapat dilancarkan?

Kami nak tanya kepada pihak MAHB mengapa kontraktor-kontraktor lain untuk Menara Kawalan (Control Tower), kawasan persinggahan kapal terbang (apron) dan juga landasan penerbangan (runway), yang kesemuanya masih belum siap hari ini, tidak pernah dibangkitkan oleh MAHB?  Apakah sebabnya kontraktor-kontraktor ini yang termasuk KUB Berhad tidak dikenakan “Liquidated Ascertained Damages” (LAD), seperti tindakan yang diambil ke atas UEM-Binapuri?

KUB, iaitu kontraktor untuk landasan penerbangan, telah mengakui pada 6hb Jun 2013 bahawa kerja hanya siap 80% sahaja. Adakah kontraktor-kontraktor tertentu diberikan layanan istimewa atau perlindungan luarbiasa oleh MAHB?

Sehingga hari ini, walaupun perkara ini telah dibangkit berkali-kali, pihak MAHB atau kementerian masih tidak menjawab bila kerja-kerja Control Tower, apron dan runway akan disiapkan.

Sikap kerahsiaan daripada MAHB dan kementerian menunjukkan bahawa segala jaminan yang diberi oleh kedua-dua pihak adalah jaminan kosong dan ada isu-isu besar yang ingin dikuburkan supaya rakyat tidak akan mengetahui kebenaran atau pihak yang bersalah tidak akan dikenakan sebarang hukuman.

Oleh itu, tindakan Datuk Seri Hishamuddin untuk menubuhkan satu jawatankuasa baru, yang sepatutnya ditubuhkan 2 tahun yang lalu, yang akan diketuai oleh Timbalan Menteri Datuk Abdul Aziz Kaprawi untuk memantau projek KLIA2, merupakan tindakan yang tidak mencukupi.

Kami sekali lagi menyeru supaya Datuk Seri Hishamuddin akan menubuhkan satu jawatankuasa siasat yang BEBAS untuk memberikan kebenaran kepada rakyat Malaysia yang cukup kecewa dengan kedudukan KLIA2.  Jika MAHB menganggap bahawa mereka tidak bersalah, mereka patut menyetujui cadangan daripada Pakatan Rakyat kerana siasatan tersebut akan membuktikan kepada semua bahawa mereka telah menjalankan tanggungjawab mereka secara telus dan cekap.  MAHB sepatutnya berani kerana benar.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Police Says Crime Falling, But Blames EO for Rising Crime?

How can the repeal of Emergency Ordinance (EO) be the cause of rising crime, when our official crime index was at its peak before the EO was repealed?

The repeal of the Emergency Ordinance (EO) at the end of 2011 has been blamed by both the Government and the Royal Malaysian Police as the sole cause of rising crime in Malaysia, particularly in the urban centres.

The repeal of the Act has denied the Police the power to detain “suspects” without trial.  The Police has gone on the record that because they can’t put this criminals away bypassing the criminal justice system, these criminals are hence walking free in our streets to create havoc, resulting in the rising crime rate.

The issue at hand is whether the repeal of the EO is indeed the cause of rising crime, or has it become the convenient whipping boy for the Police to cover up the lack of professionalism and competence in solving crime cases as well as prevent crime incidences?

Despite all the sound and fury, the Police has yet to present a shred of evidence that the recent spate of rising crime is due to “hardened criminals” released from the Simpang Renggam detention centre.  It does not appear that the police has caught anyone involved in the recent spate of armed robberies which points strongly to the repeal of the EO as being the “cause”.

In fact, if we were to study the crime statistics over the past decade, it will actually show that during the years when the EO was in place, crime was still rising aggressively.

As shown in the Chart above, the Malaysian crime index was rising rapidly from 2003 to 2008. At the peak, with the crime rate rose by 34.0% from 2004 to 2007.  During this period, the EO was readily available at the Police’s disposal and yet, crime was seemingly unstoppable.

After the launch of the “Reducing Crime” National Key Result Area (NKRA) in 2009, the official crime index according to the Government has dropped significantly, from 209,417 in 2009 to 157,891 in 2011.  This was attributed under the Government Transformation Plan to greater allocation of resources to patrolling and fighting street crimes.  The “achievement” if true, was never ever attributed by the Police to perhaps, the increased use of the EO to detain alleged criminals without trial.

While we dispute the accuracy and completeness of the Police crime index, the Police has presented that crime levels in 2012 was the lowest in a decade at 145,891 or a decline of 7.6% from 2011.  Most tellingly, the decline of crime, according the police’s own statistics, was achieved despite the fact that the EO was repealed during the year.

Hence, based on the above official crime statistics presented by the Police themselves, how can the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar and the Home Minister, Dato’ Seri Zahid Hamidi, now claim that the cause of rising crime is almost entirely due to the repeal of the Emergency Ordinance?

We call upon both the IGP and the Home Minister to heed Dato’ Seri Najib Razak’s advice when he announced the repeal of the EO, that “now police must train themselves how to look for evidence.”  Instead of just catching suspects and chucking them into EO detention, Dato’ Seri Najib asked the police to now “provide evidence to charge them in court”.

The focus of the debate to fight rising crime must be on how to improve the professionalism, efficiency and effectiveness of the Police in fighting crime.  It should not be on how new laws to allow for detention without trial can be drafted to overcome police incompetence.

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Datuk Paul Low Fears PAC Abused for Political Mileage

Datuk Paul Low’s trivialisation and politicisation of the Public Accounts Committee chairmanship confirms his BN partisanship and stains his reputation for transparency and accountability

The Pakatan Rakyat state government has made an offer for the Selangor Barisan Nasional (BN) opposition leader to chair the powerful Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to create a first world assembly, in the interest of check and balance, transparency and accountability.  The unconditional offer has been rejected by the Selangor opposition leader, Datuk Mohd Shamsuddin Lias.

I have written to implore the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak to instruct Selangor BN to accept the post to prove that he is serious about his transformation programme to make Malaysia “the best democracy in the world” and his pledge to ensure transparency and accountability.

I have made the call on the Datuk Seri Najib Razak to do so, regardless of whether he will offer the Parliament’s PAC chairmanship to Pakatan Rakyat, although he should if he is serious about a first-world parliament.

However, the new Minister in the Prime Minister’s department, Datuk Paul Low has been quick to the draw to dismiss the idea as unnecessary and unimportant.  He told the Malay Mail that because “Malaysia, unlike other Commonwealth countries, may not have the political maturity to have an opposition member chair its parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC).”

The Minister seemingly without any political affiliation now claims that “such positions could be abused for political mileage”.

He said that “it depends on political maturity. To what extent can politicians give constructive criticism? Overseas, the opposition joins constructive and bipartisan discussions, so maybe they can do it there.”  Low said that in Malaysia the opposition would have to note that the seat was meant to be used for constructive criticism and not just to condemn the government.

Datuk Paul Low’s negative response only proves that he has completely shedded his impartial non-governmental organisation (NGO) skin and has fully embraced BN partisanship.  It appears that the former Transparency International President for the Malaysian chapter is now be more worried  about the government being condemned for its abuses and scandals, than about uncovering the wrongs of the abuses and scandals.

Datuk Paul Low is indeed correct to note that “overseas, the opposition joins constructive and bipartisan discussions”.  But that is because in their parliaments, dozens of bipartisan select committees are set up to discuss the drafting of laws in the country.  Here in Malaysia, the BN government will not set up of any such committee to deny the involvement of opposition politicians in the law-making process.  BN treats the Parliament like a rubber stamp where whatever amendments sought by the other side of the fence, regardless of whether it is constructive or otherwise, gets rejected by the tyranny of the majority.

The Selangor Pakatan Rakyat Government, by Datuk Paul Low’s own definition, obviously has greater political maturity compared to the BN Federal Government.  The state government welcomes criticism, positive or negative, constructive or political, from the BN opposition to improve itself further.  After all, if the state government is completely transparent and accountable, the PAC chairman will have no issue or basis to “condemn the government”.
Datuk Paul Low further provided the flimsy excuse that “it was not imperative that an opposition member chair the parliamentary PAC, which already consisted of those from both sides of the political divide and with the chairman serving just as a facilitator”.

His excuse not only trivialises the position of the PAC chairman who gets the say to set the agenda, the excuse doesn’t make any sense.  If indeed the chairman is just a facilitator, then why not give it to the Opposition, why shouldn’t BN accept the role in Selangor?

Malaysians had hoped that Datuk Paul Low will set new standards for transparency and accountability in the new Najib Cabinet.  Instead, as shown in the previous issues on the set up of the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) and the declaration of assets by Cabinet Ministers, not only will no new standards be set, Datuk Paul Low has disappointingly become  the apologist for the BN administration to justifyt its opacity and abuses.

Monday, July 08, 2013

Home Minister and Inspector General of Police Should Stop Being Crybabies over EO

When the Emergency Ordinance (EO) was repealed in 2011, the Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Razak announced that it had to be done away with as “technological improvements has rendered exile less then useful a deterrent to crime”.

In a speech to civil servants at the Razak School of Government in July 2012, he said that “in the old days, it was easy, if someone was bad, we just catch them and send them to places like Pasir Puteh, or maybe Jerantut.  But nowadays, it is useless as no matter how far you send them, with their cellphones, they can still do their work (commit crime).”

In fact the Prime Minister went so far as to call for the Malaysian police must now change they way they work.  He said that “now police must train themselves how to look for evidence.”  Instead of just catching suspects and chucking them into EO detention, Dato’ Seri Najib asked the police to now provide evidence to charge them in court.

Earlier in April 2012, Dato’ Seri Najib also argued in his speech at the the installation of Sultan of Kedah Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah as the 14th Yang di-Pertuan Agong that “the Government believes that after more than half a century of practising democracy since Independence, Malaysians have reached a high level of maturity… In view of this, we are now ready to enter a new era where the function of Government is no longer seen as limiting freedom of the individual but, instead, of ensuring that the basic rights as enshrined in the Constitution are protected”.

However, now both the Home Minister, Dato’ Seri Zahid Hamidi and the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar are telling us that we need a return of the EO, or something similar to the EO with elements of detention without trial, in order to arrest rising crime in the country.

It appears that both Dato’ Seri Zahid Hamidi and Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar are telling both the Prime Minister and Malaysians at large that the Royal Malaysian Police, after being “pampered” by the EO for the past 42 years, are completely unable to “look for evidence.. and provide evidence to charge [criminals] in court”.

The Home Ministry appears to be fighting hard to reverse the political reforms put in place by Dato’ Seri Najib, by claiming that the rising rate of crime nationally was due to the lack of preventive laws to tackle these criminals and insiting that “the police must be given enough power” to deal with these “criminals”.

According to a Berita Harian report yesterday, Tan Sri Khalid also said that those who had criticised the police in its crime-busting capability should back this new law.

Malaysians are telling Tan Sri Khalid and all the supporters of the EO that criticising the police in its crime-busing capability is a call for them to improve their efficiency and professionalism.  It is certainly not a call to provide the police with unreasonable powers to detain “suspects” without those accused for crime a day in court.

There have been many case of abuse of the EO in the past where youths in their teens were first detained for 60 days and subsequently banished to Johor, Kedah and Pahang separately for two years, simply for alleged motorcycle theft.  These abuses and injustice occurs because the police force is so short handed in the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), that they banished most of them to various detention centres throughout the country without ever completing their investigations, or collecting the necessary evidence to charge these suspects in a court of law.  The police were in effect, a law unto themselves.

We must never let these incidents of injustice happen again.  The Home Minister have announced that Ministers in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Paul Low and Nancy Shukri will lead in the drafting of the replacement EO Bill.  We call upon both of these Ministers to strongly reject any attempts to insert vague clauses with allows the Police discretionary powers to detain a person for any period of time without a fair trial.

In this case, we strongly endorse the Prime Minister’s call that “the police must now train themselves how to look for evidence… Instead of just catching suspects and chucking them into EO detention”.  The IGP should stop whining incessantly about the inability to throw any suspect he likes into detention and start whipping the Royal Malaysian Police into shape, particularly by undertaking the reforms recommended in the 2005 Tun Dzaiddin Royal Commission of Inquiry Report.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

BN Selangor Rejects PAC Chairmanship: An Abdication of Duty

For the second term running, Barisan Nasional (BN) state assemblymen are again abdicating from their duties to the rakyat to act as an effective opposition to check and balance the Pakatan Rakyat state government.

For this new term, the unconditional offer to chair the powerful Public Account Committee (PAC) has been offered to the state Opposition Leader, Datuk Mohd Shamsuddin Lias.  However the latter has indicated that he will not take up the position giving the ridiculous excuse that the offer was “politically motivated”.

BN has also rejected the PAC chairmanship offer in 2008, after initially accepting it then.  However, after being firmly entrenched to the state opposition with fewer numbers for the second term, it is time for them to accept their role and perform their functions dutifully.

There is no point in the BN opposition making all sorts of wild allegations against the state government when the Pakatan Rakyat are giving the PAC chairmanship to BN on a silver platter.  As the chairman of the PAC, he will be able to set the agenda for the PAC meetings, review alleged misconduct and controversies, secure all relevant documents and interview any officer involved including State Executive Councillors.

Hence we find it completely inexplicable that BN is rejecting the position for the second time, unless the rejection is “politically motivated”.  BN is rejecting the position because it does not want to endorse the practice of transparency and accountability.

Despite the slew of rhetoric and slogans in the Government Transformation Programme (GTP) to increase transparency and accountability, the BN government led by Datuk Seri Najib Razak has consistently refused to accept the first world parliamentary best practice of an opposition leader leading the PAC.

Hence even though the unconditional offer of the PAC chairmanship is to promote first world legislative assemblies, Datuk Seri Najib Razak has instructed that the position not be accepted because it will make him look bad in the Parliament.

It appears that Datuk Seri Najib Razak will not be able to live down the fact that a Pakatan Rakyat government accepts a BN PAC Chairman, while he is unable to practise what he preach in the Parliament.  The Prime Minister obviously fears a Pakatan-led PAC in Parliament which will be more pro-active and meticulous in uncovering various abuses, scandals and corruption in the BN government.

We call upon the Ministers in-charge of GTP, Datuk Idris Jala and Datuk Paul Low to play their part to push the Government to not only accept the PAC chairmanship in Selangor, but also to offer the Parliament’s PAC chairmanship to Pakatan Rakyat.  Datuk Seri Najib Razak must realise that he lost the trust of 51% of the rakyat in the last general election due to a poor record in transparency and accountability.  By offering the PAC chairmanship to Pakatan Rakyat, he will be able to prove that he is indeed walking the talk about fighting corruption and abuse of power.

However, regardless of whether the Parliament’s PAC chairmanship position is offered to Pakatan Rakyat, Datuk Seri Najib Razak must at the very least instruct Datuk Mohd Shamsuddin Lias to accept the Selangor state assembly’s PAC chairmanship, to act its role as a responsible opposition in ensuring transparency and accountability.

There is no more valid excuses that Selangorians can accept in the rejection of the role.  In fact, the failure of accepting the role will only permanently cement BN as the opposition in Selangor for the 14th General Election.  The rakyat will be able to tell that Pakatan Rakyat governments practice what we preach, while the BN Governments led by the Prime Minister is only good with the song and dance, with no earnest effort in making real transformation.

Friday, July 05, 2013

Tan Sri Rozali Ismail Deserves RM33.4 million Pay-off?

Was the Puncak Niaga Minority Shareholders Watchdog Group joking when they claimed its Executive Chairman Tan Sri Rozali Ismail fully deserved the RM33.4 million in fees despite the company’s losses in recent years?

I nearly fell off my chair when I read in the news reports that the Puncak Niaga (PNHB) Minority Shareholders Watchdog Group (MSWG) chairperson, Muhammad Imran Abdullah claimed that its Executive Chairman, Tan Sri Rozali Ismail fully deserved his RM33.4 million payout.

He told reporters that "it was tabled at the PNHB's annual general meeting, we approved it” and added that “we are only concerned with our dividends and returns”, without elaborating further.

This group, which was interestingly formed coincidentally only 1 week ago, did not seem to notice that Puncak Niaga is under serious financial stress and has not performed well over the last 5 years.

On paper, PNHB recorded a net profit of RM233 million for the financial year 2012.  However, it should be highlighted that PNHB achieved profitability only because it recognised a RM1,024 million “water tariff compensation” from the Selangor State Government.

This compensation is never agreed to by the state government because PNHB and its subsidiary, SYABAS has failed to fulfil its obligations under the water concession agreement.  The failure includes but is not limited to SYABAS’s failure to repair and replace aging pipes, and consequently to reduce the percentage of non-revenue water in Selangor.  In fact, the “compensation” is being disputed in court and hence should not be recognised as “revenue” for PNHB in the first place.

Without the compensation payment, PNHB would have made massive losses of up to RM791 million.

For the previous financial year 2011, PNHB made net losses of RM83 million, despite recognising RM458 million in “water tariff compensation”.  Hence the total losses without the “compensation” would have been as high as RM541 million.  The above figures are found in the PNHB Annual Report 2012, on pages 150 and 198 respectively.

Going back further, PNSB made losses of RM92 million (2010) after recognising “water tariff compensation” of RM419 million (2010).  The above figures are summarised in the Table 1 below.

Table 1: Puncak Niaga Holdings Bhd Profits & Water Tariff Compensation 2008-2012

2012 2011 2010
Net Profit/Loss after Tax 232,680,075 (83,130,994) (91,589,556)
Water Tariff Compensation 1,023,940,987 458,150,923 418,717,266
Estimated Net Loss without Compensation (791,260,912) (541,281,917) (510,306,822)

Therefore, without recognising the disputed and highly controversial “water tariff compensation” from the Selangor state government, the losses in PNHB in 2012 would have been RM250 million worse than in 2011.

As such, PNSB has been making consistent losses in recent year and only managed to eke out a profit in 2012 purely because of a massive increase of recognised “water tariff compensation” from less than RM500 million in prior years to a massive RM1,024 million in 2012.

Given such underlying performance in the company, does the MSWG really believe that Tan Sri Rozali Ismail fully deserves the RM33.4 million payoff?  In fact under normal MSWG circumstances, they should logically be calling for the company’s top management to be axed, and not in this case, lucratively rewarded!

Or is the MSWG which was only hastily formed last week meant to serve the interest of PNHB’s largest shareholder, and its executive chairman in the light of an impending takeover of PNHB by the Selangor government?

The RM33.4 million payout to Tan Sri Rozali Ismail is a serious issue because it involves Puncak Niaga and its subsidiary, Syabas, which have been awarded monopolistic concessions by the Barisan Nasional governments to operate water treatment plants and to distribute water in the state of Selangor.  Water is an essential basic utility for every single Malaysian and we are completely flabbergasted that these concessions have been abused to outrageously enrich inidividuals who are cronies of the BN regime.

Therefore Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Air Negara (SPAN) must investigate this payout immediately and take all necessary actions to protect the interest of Malaysians.  In fact, the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water must immediately stop all extraordinary and non-operational payouts in the water concessionaires pending the restructuring exercise, particularly if these companies still owe billions of ringgit to the Federal Government.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

RM33.4 million Golden Parachute for Tan Sri Rozali Ismail?

Is the outrageous RM33.4 million payout to Tan Sri Rozali Ismail a pre-emptive golden handshake in anticipation of the Selangor state takeover of water concessionaires in the state?

Right-thinking Malaysians are completely outraged by the shocking RM33.4 million remuneration package for the executive chairman of Puncak Niaga Holdings Bhd and its subsidiary, Syarikat Bekalan Air Selanagor, Tan Sri Rozali Ismail.

Malaysians are outraged because Tan Sri Rozali’s companies have been awarded monopolistic concessions by the Barisan Nasional governments to operate water treatment plants and to distribute water in the state of Selangor.  Water is an essential basic utility for every single Malaysian and we are completely flabbergasted that these concessions have been abused to outrageously enrich inidividuals who are cronies of the BN regime.

As a comparison, the remuneration package of the Chief Executive Officer of Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB), the country’s biggest utility is only RM7 million. For the financial year 2012, TNB recorded a revenue of RM35.85 billion compared to only RM2.5 billion of Puncak Niaga Holdings Bhd.

What makes the RM33.4 million award to Tan Sri Rozali Ismail is the fact that Puncak Niaga is heavily laden with billions of ringgit of debt, and had to be bailed out by the Government repeatedly in the last few years.

Because Puncak Niaga and Syabas was unable to repay their RM1.3 billion and RM2.9 billion respectively and these debts were “taken over” by the Federal Government in 2011 in order to prevent these companies from defaulting.  Based on the 2012 Puncak Niaga financial statement, the Group has RM937 million in near-term loans and borrowings, and RM4,719 million in non-current loans and borrowings.

What is more, Puncak Niaga carries in its books a RM304 million debt to the Government due to soft loans given the its group of companies to carry out its concession obligations in the state of Selangor.  This does not include the fact that the Federal Government has also provided grants amounting to RM726 million to Syabas, including the latest RM120 million granted in January this year.

For the Selangor residents, the excessive remuneration package for Tan Sri Rozali is rubbing salt on the people’s wounds as Syabas has failed to consistently provide quality water supply and services to its consumers particularly over the past 2 years.  This year, Syabas has admitted that it has received a staggering 4,186 complaint calls daily since the start of the year as a result of constant water disruption, usually relating to poor pipe and reservoir maintenance.

We would like to question the company and the Federal Government if this RM33.4 million payout is a pre-emptive “golden handshake” payment to the Executive Chairman of Puncak Niaga in anticipation of the impending Selangor state government’s take over of water concessionaires in the state.

Since the last general election where the people of Selangor voted overwhelmingly in favour of Pakatan Rakyat despite BN using “water” as its key campaign message, it appears that the Federal Government may concede to the wishes of the people to return to water management rights to the state government.  The Selangor Menteri Besar, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim has announced in the Selangor State Assembly earlier this week that he has received a letter from the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak that the latter has finally agreeed for the state to take over water concessionaires, although details are still lacking at this point of time.

We call upon Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Air Negara (SPAN) to investigate this payout immediately and take all necessary actions to protect the interest of Malaysians.  In fact, the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water must immediately stop all extraordinary and non-operational payouts in the water concessionaires pending the restructuring exercise, particularly if these companies still owe billions of ringgit to the Federal Government.

At the same time, the Selangor State Government must deduct all inapppropriate and “unapproved” expenses, such as this RM33.4 million “durian runtuh” for Tan Sri Rozali Ismail by these concessionaires from the proposed acquisition cost of these companies.  Cronies of Barisan Nasional must not profit unfairly beyond what they have already earned to date, at the expense of the rakyat, especially under Pakatan Rakyat’s watch.

Wednesday, July 03, 2013

Menteri Pengangkutan Tidak Mengambil Berat Skandal RM4 bilion KLIA2

Jawapan Menteri Pengangkutan kepada soalan skandal RM4 bilion KLIA2 menonjolkan sikap tidak kesah ke atas isu ketirisan, kebertanggungjawaban dan pembaziran dalam projek kawalan kementerian

Dalam soalan lisan saya bertarikh 1 Julai 2013, saya telah meminta Menteri Pengangkutan menyatakan tarikh baru KLIA2 akan disiapkan dan impak kos kepada MAHB atas kelewatan projek tersebut.

Menteri Pengangkutan telah menjawab bahawa walaupun tarikh pembukaan KLIA2 telah ditunda ke 2 Mei 2014, “kelewatan KLIA2 tidak langsung menjejaskan keuntungan MAHB kerana ianya tidak ada kesan langsung pada urusan perniagaan syarikat MAHB”.

Menteri juga berkata bahwa “kelewatan tersebut juga tidak menjejaskan operasi dimana syarikat masih mengekalkan “Triple A” rating… berdasarkan agensi penarafan RAM Rating Services Sdn Bhd.

Jawapan yang ringkas di atas, terhadap skandal KLIA2 yang kos telah meningkat dari peruntukan awal sebanyak RM1.7 bilion ke anggaran RM4 bilion sekarang menunjukkan bahawa Menteri Pengangkutan langsung tidak mengambil berat atau serius untuk mengatasi masalah ini.  Apatah lagi, projek gergasi ini telah ditunda berkali-kali sejak tarikh siap bina asal yang dijadualkan pada September 2011.

Kalau benar-benar “kelewatan KLIA2 tidak langsung menjejaskan keuntungan MAHB”, maka biarlah pembinaan KLIA2 mengambil masa 3 sehingga 4 tahun lagi.  Apa perlunya kita nak tergesa-gesa menyiapkan lapangan terbang “kos rendah” yang baru ini?  Jawapan Menteri adalah langsung tidak masuk akal dan menyifatkan sikap tidak bertanggungjawab ke atas pelaburan dan perbelanjaan syarikat milik kerajaan.

Walaupun saya bukan Menteri, saya boleh senaraikan beberapa impak yang serius ke atas keuntungan MAHB.  Jika kos pembinaan KLIA2 terus meningkat akibat kelewatan projek, keuntungan MAHB tak mungkin tak terjejas.  Adalah perlu ditekan di sini, bahawa Menteri juga telah mengelak daripada memberikan sebarang jaminan kos tidak akan melebihi RM4 bilion seperti yang telah diumumkan sebelum ini, walaupun beliau disoal.

Kedua, MAHB telah pun mengambil pinjaman sebanyak RM3.1 bilion untuk menampung kos pembinaan KLIA2 dan mereka perlu membayar faedah tiap-tiap tahun kepada pihak peminjam.  Tanpa pendapatan daripada KLIA2 yang telah ditunda pembukaannya melebihi 2 tahun, ini sekali lagi menjejaskan secara langsung keuntungan MAHB.

Ketiga, oleh kerana LCCT sekarang hanya mampu menampung pengguna seramai 15 juta orang, MAHB juga kehilangan peluang untuk meningkatkan keuntungan syarikat daripada berjuta-juta pihak pengguna yang baru melalui peningkatan jumlah kapal terbang yang boleh menggunakan kemudahan baru di KLIA2.

Keempat, kelewatan dan peningkatan kos pembinaan KLIA2 hanya akan memberikan kesan negatif kepada rancangan kerajaan untuk menjadikan Kuala Lumpur sebagai hub penerbangan kos rendah di perantauan Asia.

Akhir sekali, MAHB dapat mengekalkan “Triple A” rating bukannya kerana MAHB berada di “kedudukan kewangan yang baik” tetapi kerana agensi-agensi penarafan faham bahawa, jika ada apa-apa kekurangan dari segi kewangan, pihak kerajaan Malaysia sudah tentunya akan memberikan bantuan “bailout” kepada MAHB.  Tambahan pula, walaupun kos KLIA2 telah meningkat secara mendadak, kos ini hanya akan “dipindahkan” kepada pihak pengguna dengan “airport tax” yang lebih tinggi. Sebenarnya, cukai lapangan terbang telahpun meningkat sebanyak 28% pada November 2011 dari RM25 ke RM32 di LCCT untuk menanggung kos pembinaan KLIA2 yang meningkat.

Menteri Pengangkutan mesti bertanggungjawab ke atas skandal KLIA2 ini, terutamanya sebab Setiausaha Agung Kementerian Pengangkutan, Datuk Long See Wool merupakan Pengarah syarikat MAHB selama ini.  Sekali lagi, kami berharap Menteri Pengangkutan yang baru, Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Hussein tidak akan bertidak serupa dengan bekas Menteri, Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha yang tidak memberikan keprihatinan langsung kepada projek ini, dan menyebabkan KLIA2 terus bermasalah.  Kami menyeru supaya Datuk Seri Hishamuddin akan menubuhkan satu jawatankuasa siasat yang bebas untuk memberikan kebenaran kepada rakyat Malaysia yang cukup kecewa dengan kedudukan KLIA2.