Archive for May, 2011


Lynas review ignores public health

Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh said today suggestions by the panel reviewing the controversial RM700 million rare earth plant here must be rejected as the team does not address the issue of public health.

“They admitted a gap in their scope as there is no public health expert on the panel. Their suggestions cannot be enforced. No matter how good, their scope is purely technical, not holistic,” said the PKR vice president, who has been leading protests against the refinery being built in the Gebeng industrial zone.

Fuziah told reporters this after her 30-minute meeting with the nine international experts in which she submitted a referendum on behalf of 51,000 signatories.

In the referendum, she said that “whatever technical solutions and recommendations being proposed to the government… will not function as a working model here in Malaysia.”

She told reporters later that the project by Australian miner Lynas Corp could not be judged purely on radioactive emissions and needed to include environmental factors as well.

Continue reading ‘Lynas review ignores public health’


Putrajaya not property of any political party

Putrajaya is no private property of any political party, but a public asset that belongs to all Malaysians. So no one is entitled to talk about defending Putrajaya, unless the country is facing an invasion by a foreign power.

In fact, Umno is only a guest tenant to Putrajaya, invited by the people to administer the country for a stipulated period. Upon termination of that term of office, the landlord, who is the people, will invite bidders, who are the political parties, to tender their bids for the next term of office. The successful bidder will then be invited to take tenancy in Putrajaya and run the federal government for the next term.

Hence, there is nothing for Umno to defend, except the transient power which ends upon expiration or termination of the term.

It is totally out of order for Najib to talk about defending Putrajaya, least of all its defence with blood and dead bodies.

How would Americans think, if President Obama calls for the defence of Washington DC when facing his adversary in the next presidential election? Surely they would be thinking their President has gone mad! And if he goes on to talk about shedding lives, l bet many will begin to faint.

The concept of lordship over the administrative capital as exclusive private domain by any political power is so alien to the principles of democracy that none would even dream that it could ever be uttered by a contestant for political power.

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Privatising profits and socialising losses

The DAP has condemned the federal government’s decision to acquire the downgraded bonds issued by Selangor water concessionaires at a price 73.2 percent higher than the market value, calling it “outrageous and an abuse of taxpayers’ monies”.

“It is inexplicable that the government has decided to settle the outstanding bonds of these privatised water companies when the shareholders of these companies themselves should be responsible for their own debt,” said DAP national publicity secretary Tony Pua.

It was reported earlier that the federal government-owned Pengurusan Aset Air Bhd (PAAB) had set up Acqua SPV Bhd to buy over the bonds which have been heavily downgraded by the rating agencies.

This is because all four Selangor water concessionaires – Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas), Puncak Niaga Sdn Bhd (PNSB), Syarikat Pengeluaran Air Sungai Selangor Sdn Bhd (Splash) and Konsortium ABASS – are unable to pay their bondholders.

Media had reported that Acqua SPV will offer to take over the bonds for RM6.5 billion, against the issued value of RM9.02 billion.

However, according to a report published by The Edge Financial Daily on Wednesday, the offer price is at RM94.49 against the market value of only RM54.54 at the end of last month, which Pua claimed is 73.2 percent higher than the market value.

He pointed out that the water concessionaires had declared handsome dividends for their shareholders when they raked in profits.

Among the concessionaires, Splash, whose parent company is Gamuda Bhd, declared dividends of RM578.6 million in 2007 while PNSB had declared dividends amounting to RM214 million between 2006 and 2010.

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When belts cannot be tightened anymore

I chatted with an old patient of mine after a consultation yesterday. He was probably suffering from the side effect of stress and not enough rest. I enquired about his job and he told me that he is working two jobs now; a daytime office job and part- time taxi driving at night. He had to do this to make ends meet.

So I told him what any doctor would tell his patient under these circumstances– to rest more.

Then he started to pour out his woes to me: that he has already been tightening his belt over the past few years, that he dreads to think of ways to tighten it some more, since the cost of living is creeping up and food prices are going to shoot up. He told me that there would come a point that the belt cannot be tightened anymore, and that point is fast being reached.

With so much news on the need to cut subsidies in the newspaper (it was even equated to opium), the government is in fact building up a case to cut subsidies further. It is just a matter of time that subsidies on petrol will be cut further. When that happens, petrol prices as well as electricity tariffs will go up.

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Cabinet dithers over English

The Najib administration has not decided on switching back to English for Science and Mathematics (PPSMI) because several Cabinet ministers feel any change would be another embarrassing flip-flop.

The Malaysian Insider understands the Cabinet has discussed the issue but ministers are still divided, leaving Datuk Seri Najib Razak to ask the Education Ministry to work out the various options.

“They don’t want to appear to flip-flop like the Abdullah government,” a government source told The Malaysian Insider recently.

Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s rule was marked by several policy U-turns that led to him being mocked by predecessor Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and other critics.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz confirmed yesterday that the matter had been discussed in Cabinet prior to the Sarawak state polls last month.

“But we have made no decision yet. Cabinet views were divided so we still have to study the option,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

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Tunku on Science and Mathematics in English

Another matter which is causing me concern is the need to provide our people with the right type of education, bearing in mind that the official language of this new nation is Bahasa Malaysia.

At this stage of our development we cannot afford to do away with the core of higher education; to which every parent or studious boy and girl aspire. So whether we like it or not, the study of science and mathematics should be continued in English for a long time — perhaps for many, many years to come.

It is education which helps to build a nation, and if the future of this country is to be safeguarded, then we must depend on the intellectuals to give their support. The right kind of education is a necessity for the nation.

I risked my political career when I stood firm on the issue of making English the second language of this country. I gave all the reasons why it should be, and finally it was accepted. Though I gave my opponents reasons to attack and denounce me, I stood my ground.

Whatever changes are considered necessary for our new nation to achieve progress, careful thought must always be given to how policies and planning are carried out. One wrong move can bring untold harm both to our people and to our country.

The people have an unquestionable right to expect that the government and members of Parliament they elect, and the officers of the civil service, whose salaries they pay, shall, in return for the confidence and trust they have received, honour the obligations they have to the people, and that means to all the citizens of Malaysia.

– Tunku Abdul Rahman

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Chua Soi Lek supports RM19bil subsidy for IPPs?

It looks like MCA president Chua Soi Lek has decided to play the role of the contrarian. Amid growing calls for Prime Minister Najib Razak to slash the subsidies granted to huge power producer firms controlled by tycoons such Francis Yeoh, Ananda Krishnan and Syed Mokhtar Albukhary, he has opted to stand on their side.

“The government is tied up in a lot of agreements, this cannot just be abolished like DAP says or Anwar says,” Soi Lek told reporters on Wednesday. “Then Malaysia will be seen by the world as a government that does not honour its agreements. That’s wrong.”

Chua was immediately crucified by Pakatan Rakyat leaders who lambasted his “shallow excuses” and slammed him for his uncaring attitude towards the man in the street.

“The agreements that Chua is referring to were very lopsided. But I don’t hear any mention of that. We don’t hear him talk about the cost burden to the rakyat (populace)) at all,” PKR strategy director Rafizi Ramli told Malaysia Chronicle. ”

“Neither has he given any suggestion of how to revamp the agreements or offer a solution. Or is it Chua Soi Lek’s intention that Malaysians pay through their noses for the next 10 or 20 years? Is he a leader for the people or is he the self-appointed spokesman for the IPPs?”

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MMA concerned about Lynas plant

The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) stepped into the controversy today over Australian miner Lynas’ rare earth plant near Kuantan, expressing “grave concern” that waste products could wreak harm on those living nearby.

The association, representing the country’s 13,000 doctors, stressed that the possible health risks presented by radiation from “extremely toxic” thorium outweighed the economic benefits from the project.

“Thorium-232, for example, has a half-life of some 14 billion years and gives off alpha particles. This radionuclide residue is recognised as being extremely hazardous for humans and life forms,” MMA president Dr David Quek said in a statement today.

“Due to the various refining processes, thorium will be enriched and concentrated to levels which could reach quantities that are difficult to contain or be safely sequestrated.”

Dr Quek also said the MMA shared public concern about government reticence over the project despite its controversial nature, pointing out that most Malaysians only learned of the plant’s existence when it was first disclosed in a New York Times article three months ago.

He said the government should have instead placed greater emphasis on public engagement, environmental impact studies, public safety guarantees and “impregnable” long-term waste disposal management, particularly since the plant was located so close to human habitation.

“That such a project has been allowed to be developed, to near completion all these many months, in ‘surreptitious’ concealment or without adequate and forthright disclosure, is troubling and unconscionable,” Dr Quek said.

Continue reading ‘MMA concerned about Lynas plant’


An Australian speaks up against Lynas

Continue reading ‘An Australian speaks up against Lynas’


BN govt bailout for Selangor privatised water companies

It has been reported in the media that the BN Federal Government has decided to bail out the debts of the Selangor privatised water companies to the tune of RM6.5 billion. This move has in effect killed any remaining possibility of the Selangor state government striking a deal with these companies to restructure and take over the water industry in Selangor.

The debts of these water companies were at risk of default after they were unable to meet their installment earlier this year. Of the four companies, Puncak Niaga Sdn Bhd and its subsidiary, Syarikat Bekalan Air Negeri Selangor (SYABAS), had debts amounting to more than RM4.2 billion.

The failure of these companies to service their debts, had no bailout been offered by the BN Administration, would have necessitated these companies to come to the table and negotiate the terms of restructuring with the Selangor state government or other parties which has made offers to acquire the businesses and assets.

Continue reading ‘BN govt bailout for Selangor privatised water companies’

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All that is necessary
for the triumph of evil
is for good men
to do nothing.

- Edmund Burke
When the people
fears their government,
there is TYRANNY;
when the government
fears the people,
there is LIBERTY.

- Thomas Jefferson
Do you hear the people sing?