Archive for September, 2011


Bukit Bintang traders protest MRT land grab

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 17 — Several traders in Bukit Bintang, the capital’s main shopping district, affected by the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) project staged a protest today against the proposed acquisition of their properties for the project.

Among the 30-odd protestors were DAP MPs Tony Pua, Tan Kok Wai, Lim Lip Eng and Fong Kui Lun, who is also Bukit Bintang MP.

Datuk Chong Peng Wah, 74, chairman of the Bukit Bintang Protem Action Committee, told reporters that two MRT stations were proposed to be built at both ends of Jalan Bukit Bintang on existing vacant plots, known as BB West and BB East, near the Pavilion mall.

“We are not anti-development, we are not anti-establishment, we are only seeking and pleading with the government that our legitimate grievances, our interests, are adequately reflected in that decision,” he said, describing the 30 affected shops the heart of business in Bukit Bintang.

“Since land is a constitutional right, it should not be taken from us without adequate consideration of the actual need to acquire.”

MRT operator Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd (Prasarana) had said on August 22 that 20 lots in Bukit Bintang will be acquired for the MRT to make way for tunnelling work and an underground station.

Prasarana project development director Zulkifli Mohd Yusoff had said the lots along Jalan Bukit Bintang, Jalan Imbi, Jalan Jati, Jalan Inai, Jalan Kamuning, Jalan Kampung and Jalan Utara would be acquired under the Land Acquisition Act 1960.

Zulkifli, however, denied that the government would develop the prime land in the Golden Triangle, citing “the safety of the tunnel”.

The Malaysian Insider understands that the lots include two fast-food restaurants — McDonald’s and KFC — a Porsche car showroom, a batik gallery, a private club, offices and residential properties.

Landowners told reporters that their properties were not included during the three-month public display of the MRT project in February, while some of them had yet to receive official notices.
“We are the people who made Bukit Bintang what it is today. Bukit Bintang became a market place for tourists long before mega projects and malls were established in this area.

“Now with one stroke of a pen, the government is adopting a flip-flop policy where in the name of mega projects they are going to reduce us to nothing,” Chong said.

Bukit Bintang traders protest MRT land grab
September 17, 2011


Hasty deadlines, languid decisions marring MRT project

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 14 — Rushed tender deadlines, slow decision-making and an abrupt change of project owners is blighting the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) project that is already reeling from controversial land acquisitions along the Sungai Buloh-Kajang line, critics say.

The Malaysian Insider understands that the key independent check engineer (ICE) job has finally been issued — eight months after it was first put up for tender in the last week of December 2010 — just before the change of project owners.

It was one of many tenders that had short deadlines, much to the dismay of many engineering companies interested in taking part in the bidding.

“The ICE tender was on the last week of December 2010 when most people are on holiday. If that is not bad enough, it took them eight months to finally send out the official award letter,” an industry source told The Malaysian Insider.

“And what is strange is the award was given out so late by Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd (Prasarana) but just days before the project was transferred to MRT Co as the new owners,” he added, referring to the switch in project owners by Putrajaya.

Putrajaya had announced last month that MRT Co would take over as project owners effective September 1, with former managing director of Sime Darby Plantation, Datuk Azhar Abdul Hamid, as the chief executive officer.

“They might as well have waited for MRT Co to relook and sign the contracts as they are the new project owners,” the industry source said.

The Malaysian Insider reported on April 14 that the Prasarana board was to meet on that day to award the contract for two per cent of the undetermined project cost, which is reportedly above market rates.

The report said the consortium of HSSI, Hong Kong’s MTR Corp Ltd and Canadian SNC-Lavalin was likely to land the contract despite being rejected by SPNB earlier for not putting a price to its brief — which usually costs up to 0.8 per cent of the total project.

It was understood that the matter was taken off the agenda at the last minute. Prasarana later admitted that HSSI and SNC-Lavalin were already working on the project since February while waiting for the formal award letter.

It is now learnt that the contract price has been revised from RM700 million to RM200 million. The engineering consortium is also seeing a reduced role for SNC-Lavalin while MTR Corp Ltd has pulled out. A key component of the tender requirements is a partnership with an MRT operator.

Hasty deadlines, languid decisions marring MRT project
September 14, 2011 – Malaysian Insider


The Real Cost of Nuclear Power

The UK government apparently believes that nuclear energy will provide low-carbon electricity safely and at no cost to the taxpayer and a competitive price to the consumer. I wouldn’t put money on that, and neither, it seems, will the major financial institutions.

Unless it changes its mind soon, the government will commit us to nuclear power and only later accept that it will have to provide the subsidies it promised were not going to be needed. It may do this directly by large handouts to the companies, but it could also try to conceal it by various devices. It could provide finance for construction at favourable rates or offer loan guarantees, it could agree to buy large amounts of electricity at above-market prices, it could take a very optimistic view of the costs of decommissioning and waste disposal. The nuclear industry will have become too important (if not too big) to fail and, one way or another, the taxpayer will be called upon to make sure that it doesn’t. Having chosen nuclear because we were told it was cheaper than other sources, we will find ourselves paying more.

We do not need to build a new generation of nuclear power plants. We can satisfy our energy needs by a combination of renewable sources [5] as Germany is already planning to do. It’s worth bearing in mind that nuclear currently produces only about 13 per cent of the UK’s electricity, and that this will fall to 8 per cent by 2020 as old plants reach the end of their useful lives. By then, even the government expects that renewables will be supplying 30 per cent.

We must greatly improve energy efficiency and reduce high carbon activities in such areas as transport, which is currently responsible for a fifth of our greenhouse gas emissions. Farming, changes in land use and waste together account for 11 per cent, and we need to make changes here as well (see [22] Food Futures Now: *Organic *Sustainable *Fossil Fuel Free, ISIS Publication).

Nuclear energy is clearly not necessary. Moreover, if the UK rushes ahead with nuclear we are likely to find other countries doing better by concentrating on renewables and we will end up having to buy electricity generating equipment from them. Already both China and Germany are setting out to be world leaders in the field. And despite what our government and the industry would have us believe, nuclear energy is also hazardous (see [23] Close-up on Nuclear Safety , SiS 40).

The Real Cost of Nuclear Power
Debunking UK government estimates on the low cost of nuclear power
Prof. Peter Saunders
ISIS Report 12/05/10


Lessons of Fukushima and Chernobyl

The explosions and fires at the Fukushima Daiichi reactors, almost exactly on the twenty-fifth anniversary of Chernobyl, have made most of us even more worried about the hazards of nuclear energy (see [1] Fukushima Nuclear Crisis, SiS 50). The nuclear lobby see things differently: the explosion at Chernobyl was due to the poor design and incompetent operation of the reactor under the Soviet system, and hardly anyone died as a result; as for Fukushima, it was hit by a tsunami far larger than anyone could possibly have anticipated, and the good management of its owners, the Tokyo Energy and Power Company (TEPCO) and the brave efforts of the Japanese emergency services ensured that little harm was done.

That story is very far from the truth.

As Fuksuhima reminds us, nuclear power is inherently dangerous. It is also not economical; no nuclear plant has ever operated without a government subsidy and no one seriously expects that any will in the future ([20] The Real Cost of Nuclear Power, SiS 47). The subsidy may be visible or it may be concealed as a cheap loan, a permanent low-carbon premium, an open cheque for the cost of disposing of the waste, or in some other form. Furthermore, we do not need it even as “part of a basket of technologies”: on the most optimistic estimates, nuclear energy could not produce more than 8 percent of the UK’s total energy requirement in the foreseeable future. This could easily be made up by renewables if we choose to invest in wind, solar, biogas and other technologies that already exist and are becoming ever more efficient and cost effective ([21] Green Energies – 100% Renewable by 2050, ISIS publication).

The nuclear industry is asking us to give it large sums of money to build power plants that we do not need and cannot afford, at great risk to our health and safety. If we use the money to develop renewables instead, we will have low carbon energy that is safe, economical, and genuinely sustainable. Countries that shift their investment from nuclear to renewables now will reap the further economic benefit of becoming leaders in the key technologies of the twenty-first century.

Lessons of Fukushima and Chernobyl
Prof. Peter Saunders
ISIS Report 03/05/11


Anything But Umno

SEPT 10 — Raja Petra Kamarudin (RPK), the blogger, is right. We don’t know if Pakatan Rakyat will be able to govern our beloved country responsibly or walk the talk.

But we do know that they will not be worse than the plundering and blundering hordes of Umno. I say Umno and not BN because in reality the BN component parties such as the MCA, MIC, etc are subsidiaries of Umno. They may have a different flag, motto and even president but their mission statement is to be subservient to Umno.

The elections are around the corner. How do we know that? Simple, the clamour for allocations and funds is getting louder in Umno. Soon, we will be asked to make a choice and by my reckoning the choice is clear: Anything But Umno.

Just let us examine what these Umno types have done to our country. I have no doubt that the likes of Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Dr Ismail, Hussein Onn, Tan Siew Sin were men of integrity and served the rakyat.

But from the Mahathir era onwards it has been looting, corruption and using race and religion to divide Malaysians. We are sliding down a slippery slope in this country and we have a choice to either go with the flow and do nothing or change the direction of this country.

Please don’t expect Najib Razak and Umno to do anything. Najib is too weak-willed to ever be a reformer, and plus he seems to be caught by institutional paralysis. What he or any Umno president of late is doing is governing the country for the party and its crony capitalists.

It is an open secret that the biometric scanning system deal benefited an Umno minister, the son-in-law of a top Umno leader and businessmen close to Putrajaya.

And now we are told of the secret plan to privatise IWK by 1MDB and Puncak Niaga. So secret that even the minister in charge did not know about it.

As reported in The Malaysian Insider, this deal was given the greenlight by the Economic Council. Then you have the PM saying that a good portion of MRT contracts will be set aside for Bumiputera contractors.

This is an euphemism for Umno warlords and contractors connected to the party.

The plundering does not stop there. National Service camps are given to Umno politicians and their supporters and smaller contracts are farmed out to Class F contractors, nearly 90 per cent of them Umno members.

The government-sanctioned looting has reached such a crazy stage that members of the inner circle of PM and supporters linked to Muhyiddin Yassin are fighting over the economic largesse.

I have not even touched on the notoriety of the First Family and their friends and hangers-on. Some people may think that excesses are okay as long as the economy is growing.

Well, it is not and nothing can justify expensive shopping trips or diamond rings in a country where many still find it hard to make ends meet.

Malaysia must be the only country in the world besides Zimbabwe where a top government official can remain in his job despite facing countless allegations which strike at the core of the man’s honesty. The man in question is the Attorney-General Gani Patail.

Anything But Umno — Ali Kadir
September 10, 2011 – Malaysian Insider


The haze and the malaise – The Economist

SKYSCRAPERS and lampposts in Kuala Lumpur are still festooned with flags left over from independence day festivities at the end of August. Fittingly, this week they were shrouded in the annual “haze” of smog from forest fires on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. Malaysia’s politicians are not in the mood to celebrate nationhood and unity. Rather, with an election in the offing, everything is a chance for political point-scoring.

That includes independence itself. One huge banner in the centre of the capital shows the country’s six prime ministers since the British left in 1957, with the incumbent, Najib Razak, in the foreground, gazing into a visionary future. All six hailed from the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), which has led the “Barisan Nasional” (BN) coalition government ever since 1957. Some opposition politicians now complain that the official narrative of Malaysia’s history ignores the role of non-UMNO freedom fighters. Since the most recent general election, in March 2008, the opposition has had a real chance of winning power. For the first time since independence in 1957, the BN lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament that allowed it to amend the constitution on its own. No longer a one-coalition state, the opposition argues, Malaysia has to rethink its own history.

The next election is not due until 2013. But, out of tradition and political calculation, Mr Najib is expected to call it earlier—and to win it. Some think it could come this year, after a generous government budget in October. A crowded calendar of regional summitry makes that awkward, and Mr Najib has other reasons for delay. Since he took over in 2009, he has launched a plethora of initiatives to improve Malaysians’ lives and a “Performance and Delivery Unit” to implement them. Results take time.

Three factors, however, argue for a hasty dash to the polls. The first is that Mr Najib, who took over UMNO and the prime ministership after the BN’s unprecedentedly poor showing in 2008, still had an approval rating of 59% in a recent survey. That is well below his initial popularity, however, and he will not want to mimic Britain’s Gordon Brown in delaying too long before seeking his own mandate. Second, economic storm clouds are gathering in the West. Malaysia’s economy is still growing at over 4% a year, but is vulnerable to a downturn in external demand.

Third, the opposition coalition is in some disarray. Its figurehead, Anwar Ibrahim, is on trial for sodomy, illegal in Malaysia, and many expect him to go back to jail soon, as he did (for the same alleged offence) in 1998. He is a divisive figure. But without him, there is no obvious opposition candidate for prime minister. The president of his party is his wife, and its most impressive politician is his 30-year-old daughter, Nurul Izzah. The other components of the coalition are the Democratic Action Party, which draws its support from the Chinese minority, and an Islamic party known as PAS, whose religious conservatism alienates many liberal Malays. So there is even talk of a revival of the prime ministerial ambitions of Razaleigh Hamzah, a veteran UMNO rebel, as an opposition rallying point.

The haze and the malaise
Ethnic politics makes Malaysia’s transition to a contested democracy fraught and ugly
Sep 10th 2011 – The Economist


A judicial misadventure

SEPT 27 — Thank you The Malaysian Insider for that report on how MACC lawyer Shafee Abdullah absolved the agency of any blame in the death of Customs officer Ahmad Sarbaini Mohamed.

I say thank you because MACC represents the government and as their representative, Shafee stands as the voice of the MACC and the Najib government.

Instead of showing humility and understanding that a life was lost, the lawyer was gloating in a Pyrrhic victory and in that moment let me know all I needed to know about these people.

It is astounding that MACC and Shafee can offer a rubbish storyline about how Sarbaini’s death happened — and expect us to swallow it.

Let me put it down simply: Sarbaini and his Customs team are under probe for corruption. A day after giving a statement, he voluntarily goes to the MACC office and is waiting to meet his handler or investigator.

He falls to his death. MACC says that Sarbaini fell to his death while exiting through a window, which essentially leads to nowhere. He enters through the front door voluntarily and is not under arrest but decides to leave through the window like Superman.

And during the coroner’s inquiry we hear that critical CCTV footage has been erased.

As expected the coroner returns a verdict of misadventure.

Actually the only misadventure was Sarbaini’s folly of walking into the MACC office and believing that a seriously compromised government agency could be of help to him.

The whole storyline during the inquiry was so juvenile and absurd that only the MACC guys and their lawyer believed it. And yet there was Shafee telling all and sundry about how MACC was absolved.

I suppose this is what the government wanted: closure before the elections!!

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication. The Malaysian Insider does not endorse the view unless specified

A judicial misadventure — Ali Kadir
September 27, 2011 – Malaysian Insider


PKR unhappy with Sarbaini verdict, wants royal probe

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 27 — PKR is not satisfied with yesterday’s inquest verdict on senior Customs officer Ahmad Sarbaini Mohamad’s death and wants the government set up a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) to conduct another probe into his fatal fall.

In a statement, PKR vice-president N. Surendran said the coroner’s verdict that Ahmad Sarbaini’s death was by “misadventure” was “unbelievable, unacceptable and inconsistent with the full facts of the case”.

Surendran insisted that the government had to take the blame for failing to provide real answers on how the Customs officer fell to his death, saying that this was not the first such incident to occur under the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) watch.

“It beggars belief that having voluntarily gone to the MACC’s Cheras office, Sarbaini would then try to leave by crawling out the third-floor window.

“There is also no explanation as to how and why 22 hours of crucial CCTV footage was erased, which covered the period during which he died,” he said.

Surendran also criticised the MACC’s conduct during the inquest, saying the agency had acted like a “private individual” desperately attempting to clear its name.

“The MACC even went to the extent of hiring Umno-linked lawyer Shafee Abdullah to defend them during the inquest,” he said.

PKR unhappy with Sarbaini verdict, wants royal probe
September 27, 2011 – Malaysian Insider


Najib and Malaysia’s Civil Liberties

Seemingly dramatic changes may not be very dramatic but very political

The announcement Thursday of changes to Malaysian civil liberty laws appears to be a major coup for Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, putting the opposition on the back foot by taking away long-standing demands for expanded civil freedoms that were potent campaign tools.

Much, however, depends on what replaces the laws. There is considerable scope for political theater and not much more in a campaign year, especially if, as expected, the replacements are modeled on US or UK laws, neither of which are particularly liberal despite the perception of liberal democracy in both countries.

National elections are expected in the first quarter of 2012, perhaps in March during school holidays when schools can be used as polling stations. The apparent changes need to be seen in the context of the elections, Najib’s rhetoric about freedom of expression to the contrary. There appears to be no move to abandon either the Sedition Act or the Official Secrets Act, for instance, which are routinely used against opposition figures and bloggers and journalists.

The reforms were announced by Najib on television Thursday night. They include abolition of the colonial-era Internal Security Act, which allows for indefinite detention of suspects, as well as the repeal of the Emergency Ordinance allowing for detention without charge for two years. Another provision does away with the annual renewal of press and publication permits. Laws governing right of assembly are to be reviewed “to bring Malaysia into line with international standards” while ensuring that police retain power to prevent violence, he said.

“They will formulate other laws,” an UMNO source told Asia Sentinel. “Other countries have provisions for detention without trial. Since the ISA has been stigmatized as draconian, they can just get another law. The model they will take from America’s anti-terrorism law. The UK also has a new law for detention without trial.”

The US’s Patriot Act on which Najib may model his new laws was jammed through the US Congress amid hysteria surrounding the destruction of the World Trade Center in New York and the attack on the Pentagon in Washington, DC on September 11, 2001. The other possibility is that the security law would be modeled on the United Kingdom’s law, which allows for detention for 28 days without charge for terrorism suspects. In neither case are the laws particularly liberal, nor would they expand civil liberties by much.

The US’s Patriot Act has been under fire from civil libertarians since it was passed, as it vastly expanded police powers, creating new crimes, new penalties and new procedures for use against suspected domestic and international terrorists. It authorized the indefinite detention of immigrants, allowed for searches of homes and businesses without the owner’s or occupant’s permission or knowledge, expanded FBI authority for warrantless wiretaps and expanded access to business records, even including the authority to see what books suspects checked out of public libraries. Although the law has been amended slightly, it has been allowed to stand largely in its original form.

There is probably one important change. The new laws will take powers away from the Home Ministry and its feared Special Branch police and vest them in the judiciary, as they are in the United States, the United Kingdom and many other countries. That means law enforcement officials presumably would now have to seek the permission of the judiciary before conducting arrests or surveillance. Malaysia has a notoriously compliant judiciary, which bends to the wishes of the government and which means that probably there will be little change for now. But should elections deliver up a future government that appoints an independent judiciary, the changes could be beneficial.

Najib and Malaysia’s Civil Liberties
16 SEPTEMBER 2011 – Asia Sentinel


S’gor Pakatan rule a torture only to BN cronies

The Selangor government said they agreed with Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin that Pakatan Rakyat’s rule in the state has been a torture to certain segments, namely the “Umno-BN cronies”.

“This sector (who are said to have suffered under Pakatan rule) are the cronies and family members of the Umno-BN, who have been reaping their wealth from the state through directly being awarded projects, acting as middlemen or through their lobbying,” said Faekah Husin in a statement today.

The political secretary to the Selangor Menteri Besar (left) was commenting on Muhyiddin’s statement yesterday, that she said showed that the ruling party was “increasingly desperate to gain the sympathy of the people”.

“Maybe this is what the prime minister meant when he said that Umno members like to ‘syok sendiri’,” she quipped.

Muhyiddin had said at BN State Assembly Backbenchers Club’s retreat in Selangor that the people of the state had had enough of life under Pakatan rule and were ready to support the BN again.

Faekah commented that such people would include businessmen who were fond of bribing public officers and politicians to get help and special treatment, and to take advantage of certain policies such as the low cost housing policies that had been abused by some to reap huge profits.

“What’s worse, under the Umno-BN government projects were completed with an eye to oppressing the poor even further,” she said.

Cronies ‘beyond the law’

Faekah said that during Umno rule of the state the businessmen allied to the ruling party had become “all too powerful”.

“While Umno-BN was in power, these businessmen were all too powerful that they did not fear the law, as they knew they had the permission and ‘protection’ of the policians who condone such criminal activities.

These parties did not have the capital nor the expertise, she said, and only needed to flatter the ruling politicians to get the jobs.

“These types are not ashamed to visit and hang out at the politicians’ offices. This scenario has been taking place since Muhyiddin was Johor Menteri Besar and the filthy practice still continues till today,” she said.

The political secretary elaborated on how cronies would get huge projects to the tune of millions of ringgit, and immediately sell it off to the highest bidder to reap a tidy commission.

She said such days were over with the Pakatan government and that most Selangor residents were happy with their administration for this.

‘S’gor Pakatan rule a torture only to BN cronies’
Sep 24, 2011 – Malaysiakini

The dawn of A Better Malaysia!
Rafidah Aziz, Hannah Yeoh, Ambiga at TTDI ceramah


Mahathir in Putrajaya ceramah


What happened to 1MDB’s money? – CNBC Video
Nuclear lessons for Malaysia (Part 1) (Part 2)
BN govt is directing attention to distant past and distant future, in order to distract people from present misdeeds and poor governance
Felda - A picture is worth a thousand words
How the 1MDB Scandal Spread Across the World (WSJ)
We cannot afford ridiculously expensive RM55 Billion ECRL!
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?