Archive for January, 2015

30
Jan
15

Najib duping Malaysians over 1MDB, says DAP

DAP today said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was insulting the intelligence of Malaysians with his “incredulous” claims about 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).

Its national publicity chief Tony Pua questioned Najib’s justification that Putrajaya had only committed RM1 million to the controversial sovereign fund.

“While it is technically true that the government only invested RM1 million in cash to the company, Najib who is also the finance minister failed to highlight that it also explicitly guaranteed RM5.8 billion of loans as well as issued another ‘letter of support’ which, for all intents and purposes, guaranteed another US$3 billion (RM10.8 billion) of borrowings.

“Hence at the very least, the federal government’s commitment to 1MDB is RM16.6 billion, and not the miserly RM1 million claimed by Najib,” Pua said in a statement.

“Does Najib seriously believe that he could take Malaysians for fools by making such incredulous justifications of the dire performance and imminent debt crisis of 1MDB?”

Pua rejected Najib’s claim that Malaysia would receive huge returns if 1MDB’s assets were fully utilised by the company.

“Malaysian taxpayers would have received huge returns if the country’s assets were not used to bailout 1MDB and wasted on the company’s gross mismanagement and excesses.”

Yesterday, interviewed by TV3, Najib claimed that many people did not realise the government’s commitment for 1MDB was only RM1 million in terms of shares.

Najib said that today, 1MDB has assets worth RM50 billion, which Pua claimed was an attempt to dishonestly represent the fund’s current state of affairs.

“Nothing can be more incredulous than Najib’s attempt at grossly inflating and dishonestly representing the dire state of affairs in 1MDB, a wholly-owed Ministry of Finance subsidiary,” said Pua.

He said credit ratings firm Fitch Ratings had warned of uncertainty over 1MDB’s financial position.

Fitch viewed “1MDB as a close contingent liability of the sovereign fund because of the nature of its operations and leadership, as well as explicit sovereign guarantees of some RM5.8 billion of the entity’s RM41.9 billion debt”, added Pua.

The DAP lawmaker said although the balance of 1MDB’s debts were not explicitly guaranteed, Putrajaya would still be obliged to repay these debts to avoid a total collapse of Malaysia’s credit ratings.

…more
Najib duping Malaysians over 1MDB, says DAP
22 January 2015 – TMI

29
Jan
15

Red lights blinking on Malaysia’s economic dashboard

Tumbling oil prices are putting pressure on Malaysia’s commodity-driven economy, not merely by hurting its exports and currency but more so by putting an unwelcome spotlight on the huge debts that the country runs.

Malaysia, a major exporter of liquefied natural gas and oil, is suddenly faced with the risk that the cheapness of oil and other commodities will drive the current account into a deficit.

That would be the fourth red light blinking on the dashboard of an economy running on debt on all fronts: government, households and the capital account.

The possibility has unnerved foreign investors who have US$45 billion (RM160 billion) parked in the country’s bonds and have lent a total of US$208 billion (RM741 billion) to the high-yielding Southeast Asian country.

The current account surplus narrowed by almost a third to RM7.6 billion between the first and third quarter of 2014, and the prospects of a deficit are looming as oil and gas export earnings fall.

Malaysia already is a net importer of foreign capital.

Its households are bursting at the seams with debt.

And the government, which until recently could always count on generous oil revenues to fund pet projects, has borrowings that amount to 53 percent of economic output, almost equalling Asian giants India and China.

Digging a little deeper, it is easy to understand why credit markets now rank Malaysia the riskiest in Southeast Asia and why the ringgit has plunged to a six-year lows.

“A move into current account deficit, or even a more finely balanced position, would make the ringgit even more acutely sensitive to capital flows,” said Sameer Goel, head of Asia macro strategy, Deutsche Bank.

“Malaysia’s external debt is a source of large currency risk as the dollar uptrend gathers steam. All the three, four areas of risk have now become relevant.”

Stress in any one sector could easily feed into other areas, and if a crisis of confidence were to develop it would severely test the country’s financial buffers.

“Malaysia was a net lender to the world until 2012, but it has gone the opposite way since 2013,” said Mirza Baig, head of Asian rates and currency strategy at BNP Paribas in Singapore.

“When they are in that kind of a position, then any kind of a catalyst that comes along can expose them to market volatility.”

“Now they have less reserves, still very high amounts of debt and the possibility of a current account deficit. That is where the tipping point lies.”

…more
Red lights blinking on Malaysia’s economic dashboard
21 January 2015 – TMI

28
Jan
15

EC’s delineation proposal for Sarawak defies logic

COMMENT Rise of Sarawak Efforts (Rose), a group of concerned citizens, is unhappy with the unequalised constituencies proposed by the Election Commission (EC) in its recent electoral delineation and delimitation exercise for Sarawak.

After detailed analysis of the EC proposals to increase Sarawak’s state assembly seats by 11 constituencies (from 71 to 82), Rose believes that the EC has failed to comply with its constitutional obligations as defined by Section 2 (c), Part 1 of the 13th Schedule to the Federal Constitution, which states:

“The number of electors within each constituency in a state ought to be approximately equal except that having regard to the greater difficulty of reaching electors in the country districts and the other disadvantages facing rural constituencies, a measure of weightage for area ought to be given to such constituencies.”

Although duty-bound to adhere to this key principle, the EC has not done so for reasons unknown.

To date, despite repeated requests by political parties and interested civil society groups, the EC has not provided voters and the general public with any rationale as to how it arrived at its proposals.

State constituencies with huge numbers of electors, like Pelawan (N54 – 31,388 voters) and Pending (N10 – 30,881 voters) did not see their boundaries redrawn or any reduction in the number of voters.

Instead, areas redrawn are rural constituencies like Murum (N66 – 7,648 voters), Telang Usan (N77 – 6,691 voters) and Gedong (N26 – 6,340 voters).

Furthermore, blatant discrepancies like Padungan (N9 – 22,873 voters) and Satok (N8 – 13,580 voters) which are urban state assembly seats within Kuching City and situated just next to each other, were not redrawn for reasons only known to the EC.

The entrenched democratic principle of ‘One Vote, One Value’ has been further eroded. If based on 82 state seats and 31 parliamentary seats and the number of voters on EC’s electoral roll as at April 30, 2014, the average number of voters for each state constituency, is 13,526 while for Parliament it is 35,778.

To ensure compliance with the above constitutional principle and to ensure each voter has a vote of equal value, the number of voters in each state seat should not deviate too far from this Electoral Quotient (EQ).

With the new EC proposals, one vote in Telang Usan is now worth 4.69 times that of a vote in Pelawan. One vote in Gedong is now worth nearly five times (4.95 times) that of a vote in Pelawan.

The EC’s proposals hence do not improve the variations from the said average, but instead have worsened them.

Instead of enhancing democracy by equalising the value of votes, the EC has undermined democracy by unfairly redrawing constituency boundaries. EC’s proposals are thus defective, unfair and undemocratic.

…more
Jan 21, 2015 – Malaysiakini
By Rise of Sarawak Efforts
EC’s delineation proposal for Sarawak defies logic

27
Jan
15

Amnesty International’s deep concern on alarming use of Sedition Act

Amnesty Int’l writes to Najib on Sedition Act

Prime Minister,

I am writing to express Amnesty International’s deep concern about the alarming use of the colonial era 1948 Sedition Act to stifle peaceful dissent in Malaysia, as part of a recent crackdown on freedom of expression in the country.

Our organization is particularly disappointed with your announcement of Nov 27, 2014, in which you said that Malaysia will retain and expand the Sedition Act.

We note that, in July 2012, you publicly committed to repealing the Act, and over the last two years have given numerous assurances to the Malaysian public and the international community that the Act would be repealed.

We urge you to reconsider your recent decision, and to take immediate steps to repeal the Sedition Act, release all those currently detained under its provisions and drop all charges brought under the Act.

Criminalising freedom of expression

Amnesty International is aware of at least 44 people who have been investigated, charged or convicted under the Sedition Act since 2013.

Amnesty International is aware of at least a further 16 people currently facing charges under the Sedition Act.

Investigations fostering a climate of fear

Amnesty International is also concerned about an increasing number of “investigations” under the Sedition Act. Among those investigated for so-called “seditious” actions are opposition politicians, journalists, and in one case, a teenager who did nothing more than click ‘like’ on a social media page entitled ‘I Love Israel’.

Amnesty International is concerned that these investigations are an attempt to silence critical voices and dissent by creating a climate of fear.

The investigations and any further proceedings under the Sedition Act against these people should be immediately abandoned.

…more
Jan 15, 2015 – Malaysiakini
By Salil Shetty, Amnesty International
Amnesty Int’l writes to Najib on Sedition Act

26
Jan
15

10 years on, defence academy’s completion date remains a mystery

Ten years after a project to build Puspahanas, a Defence Ministry academy, was awarded to an Umno-linked developer with no track record in construction, the government is no clearer on when the building, already beset by delays, will be completed.

Deputy defence minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri when asked by The Malaysian Insider for the latest update, said he had no information on the expected completion date, but added that it would be finished at some point.

“It’s alright, it will be finished, so don’t worry. The project is to build a college for the ministry, so we are monitoring it,” he said when approached on the sidelines of a ministry event recently.

Located in Precinct 1 in the federal administrative capital of Putrajaya, Puspahanas, or the National Defence Education Centre, will house the National Defence College and the Armed Forces’ Command and Staff Training College.

Awan Megah Sdn Bhd, which was given the project in 2005, is owned by Umno’s Selangor senator, Datuk Raja Ropiaah Abdullah. The academy was slated for completion in 2011 but has been delayed numerous times, invoking criticism from opposition lawmakers and the public.

The controversy lies in the manner Raja Ropiaah was awarded the project. She won it in exchange for some 80 hectares of land in Bukit Raja, Selangor, and RM27 million.

PKR politician Rafizi Ramli had scrutinised the deal and claimed it made no commercial sense since Awang Megah had no track record in construction.

Rafizi had also done a check with the Companies Commission of Malaysia and found the filings made by Awan Megah showed that its last activity was on December 31, 1993. This was 12 years before it won the Puspahanas deal.

A check in December last year with the consulting engineering firm working on the project found that Puspahanas was now some 70% completed.

An engineer with the firm KTA Tenaga Sdn Bhd, who refused to be named, said it could be completed by the middle of this year.

“We are not sure of the date when it can be fully operational yet,” he said.

…more
10 years on, defence academy’s completion date remains a mystery
18 January 2015 – TMI

25
Jan
15

‘How long, not long’ – Martin Luther King

Martin Luther King and poor Malays


I don’t know whether the new film ‘Selma’ will be shown in Malaysia or not. It has just been nominated for the Academy Award as Best Picture of the Year. The film shows King as a man who is fallible, but who nevertheless was able to separate his own personal failings and misgivings from the mission that he had set for himself and his people.

It shows a man who kept going forward – no matter the challenge, no matter the personal threats, no matter the self-doubt, no matter the family problems.

Reminiscent of M’sia

At the end of the film, King arrives at the State Capitol building in southern Alabama to confront the white power structure. He makes a speech on the Capitol steps. It was interesting to watch, because some of the lines reminded me of the situation in Malaysia today. So I went to the Internet and read the actual speech he made.

It is called his ‘How long, not long’ speech, because he said this:

“How long? Not long, because no lie can live forever.

“How long? Not long, because you shall reap what you sow.

“How long? Not long, because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”

Comparison with Malaysia?

I have often thought about the poor Malays, and how they are told time and time again by the Malay political elite (read Umno) that their race and their religion are under threat, so vote for us. We will protect you.

In Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s days, the threat came from the Americans, the ‘orang putih’, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, Wall Street, and other evil “people in the West who want to recolonise us.”

Under Najib, the threat is now the Chinese tsunami, the opposition, and anyone who spouts Western, humanist, or liberal views.

So it’s a very simple question. When Umno has ruled and controlled the country for almost six decades, how can the Malay race and the Muslim religion be under threat? Why are the Malays still poor overall, when KL has more millionaires than any city in the world?

How long? It is something to think about on Martin Luther King Day.

…more
Jan 19, 2015 – Malaysiakini
By John Malott
Martin Luther King and poor Malays

24
Jan
15

Indelible ink: Zaidi sacked, EC gets off scot-free

Bersih: Zaidi sacked, EC gets off scot-free

While serviceman Major Zaidi Ahmad was sacked today after telling the press the indelible ink used by the Election Commission rubbed off, no action was taken on the EC over the ink, electoral watchdog group Bersih said.

The military court today dismissed the Air Force pilot of 26 years from service after he was found guilty of making a press statement without approval from the Armed Forces Council.

“Despite his valiant efforts, no action has been taken on the EC till this very day, and no one from the EC has ever had to account for this sham.

“Nothing has ever come from the hundreds of police report lodged against the EC over this except for this particular one, which resulted in punishment for the whistleblower instead of the wrongdoer,” it said in a statement.

It said that the faulty ink was “the biggest scandal among the irregularities that marred the 13th general election”.

“For that, he has paid a heavy price, while Malaysia, too, has lost a fine soldier today.”

The fact that the military court did not wait for the judicial review challenging the court’s authority on the matter is also unfair, it said.

Zaidi does not want to appeal the decision, but Bersih said the judicial review could bring some measure of justice for the pilot.

…more
Jan 12, 2015 – Malaysiakini
Bersih: Zaidi sacked, EC gets off scot-free

23
Jan
15

Plenty of smoking guns on illegal migrants in Sabah

COMMENT On page 267 of the royal commission of inquiry (RCI) report, it is stated that “Indeed, as far back as 1999, it was already reported in local newspapers in Sabah that it was a lucrative business being involved in fake ICs or genuine ICs illegally issued. There was much money to be made by syndicates or individuals or corrupt officials because a false IC could fetch between RM400 and RM500, and a Malaysian passport could cost up to RM50,000.”

Some people have claimed that a lot of activities associated with the illegal immigrants in Sabah represent an industry, and present opportunities and temptation for corruption. Corruption is a big problem in this country. It is also very costly.

I also hear of illegal immigrants becoming victims of enforcement personnel. They become part of the problem rather than the solution. Their vulnerability is often taken advantage of. I have heard stories that very often enforcement personnel, usually towards the end of the month, demand to inspect the purses of illegal immigrants and take away some or all their monies.

Let me briefly make some comments on the RCI and its report. The RCI is the latest attempt by the federal government to show the public that it is doing something to resolve what is perceived to be a government-created problem for Sabah. Perception, being what it is, could be real or imagined.

But in the Sabah case, there are many signs of smoking guns. The problems associated with the illegal immigrants are often described as the mother of all problems. The unusually large population of foreigners, both legal and illegal, has permanently changed the economic, social, cultural, political and demographic landscape of the state. Many of them were initially illegal but became legal, rightly or wrongly.

By my reckoning there are in Sabah more foreigners than locals, who feel fearful and threatened. I have some indicators for this but time does not permit me to elaborate. This is not surprising because this issue was in the making for more than 30 years.

There appears to be lack of political will on the part of the government to resolve the problem once and for all. More and more Sabahans are convinced that this is a deliberate move or agenda for Sabah by the federal government.

In short, the RCI has cleared the real culprits, the government and political parties of any wrongdoing. Instead, the RCI pointed the finger at civil servants. This is very surprising. The main function and responsibilities of civil servants is to translate government decisions and policies into action. They operate under the principle of ‘I am your obedient servant’.

Even if they are doing wrong, either deliberately or inadvertently, surely they cannot escape from government notice and attention for over 30 years.

Experience and events also indicate that the government was aware of what was happening. For example, the decision to establish the federal task force was made by the PM himself. I was present when the decision was made. I welcomed the move but I was disappointed that it took about one year just to create the post of the head of the task force. Yet the task force was supposed to resolve the issue once and for all.

That is why I am convinced that the federal government is not serious in solving the problem. There is so much disconnect between declared intention and actual action. It has been said ‘a man of words and not of deeds is like a garden full of weeds’.

I believe the task force is still in existence but so is the problem, only bigger and more complex.

In so far as the ‘Projek IC’ is concerned, the RCI concluded that it “probably existed” despite the availability of hard evidence to suggest that it definitely existed. The question of probability should not arise. The existence of ‘Projek IC’ is an open secret to the ordinary Sabahans.

Report not signed

Right-minded Sabahans who were looking for relief and justice would be shocked and disgusted with the report. It is a very disappointing report, to say the least.

It looks odd that in the report the term ‘royal commission of inquiry’ appears, yet on the cover it is being referred to as report of commission of enquiry. The chairperson and the commissioners also did not sign the report. Other reports which I have seen are much more dignified.

…more
Dec 27, 2014 – Malaysiakini
By Simon Sipaun
Plenty of smoking guns on illegal migrants in Sabah

22
Jan
15

RM4,000 millions to invest in non-existent Mongolian venture!

1MDB subsidiary borrowed RM4 billion to invest in non-existent Mongolian venture, says Rafizi

Government-linked strategic investment company 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), through its subsidiary, had borrowed RM4 billion from the Retirement Fund Incorporated (KWAP), PKR’s Rafizi Ramli revealed today.

He said the RM4 billion loan taken by the controversial sovereign fund’s subsidiary, SRC International Sdn Bhd, in 2011 was to purchase a mining company in Mongolia.

However, the PKR secretary-general said his investigations into the matter revealed that the said company did not exist, raising questions on where the money was actually spent.

“Initially, the money was meant for buying a mining company called Gobi Coal & Energy as an investment in Mongolia, as reported in the Business Times,” he said in a press conference at the party’s headquarters in Petaling Jaya today.

Rafizi said Putrajaya was a guarantor for the funds borrowed by SRC, just as it was for 1MDB.

“The investment has not happened until now and it is not known how the RM4 billion was spent,” he said.

The Pandan MP urged the newly-appointed president and group executive director of 1MDB, Arul Kanda, to explain the issue.

“This is an early test of Arul Kanda’s leadership in 1MDB to assess if he will be transparent in handling the people’s important questions on 1MDB.

“If he is transparent, he can explain how the RM4 billion in loan was spent so far and how has it contributed to the country as it is the people’s money,” he said.


…more
1MDB subsidiary borrowed RM4 billion to invest in non-existent Mongolian venture, says Rafizi
BY DIYANA IBRAHIM
13 January 2015 – TMI

21
Jan
15

Why isn’t the soaring budget for PM’s dept reduced in budget revision?

PM’s Department budget allocation has been INCREASED by RM2.6 billion in the Budget 2015 for a grand total of RM19 billion!

PM’s Department gobbles up 25% of budget but lacks accountability, says lawmaker

A DAP lawmaker has questioned the ballooning amount of funds allocated for the Prime Minister’s Department (PMD) in Budget 2015, claiming the “unprecedented” sum also includes hidden “slush funds” that could be used without public accountability.

Kluang MP Liew Chin Tong said the RM19 billion allocated for the PMD had many unexplained items which left the bulk of the money for “discretionary” usage by the prime minister without clear accounting as to what it would be used for.

“There are so many items in the budget that amounts to billions of ringgit that the PM can just sign off. These discretionary funds are wholly in the hands of the PM,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

“And these are things that would be difficult to account for as we don’t know what these projects are.”

Liew said that the PMD was taking 25% of the development budget. RM50.5 billion, or 18% of the total 2015 budget of RM273.9 billion, was allocated for development.

“This leaves very little for the other ministries to get by,” he said.

The PMD received RM16.5 billion in allocations for this year, which was an increase of 13% from Budget 2013.

For 2015, it would be getting RM19 billion, a 15% increase from this year’s allocation.

Liew said some of the expenditure listed under the PMD for next year are for TV Al Hijrah (RM40 million), the controversial National Civics Bureau (RM58.6 million), Societal restructuring programmes or “Penyusunan Semula Masyarakat” (RM750 million) and the Permata Negara early education programme (RM30.1 million), which is led by the prime minister’s wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor.

Liew has over the last few years tracked what he calls “slush funds” in allocations to the PMD.

He had said the details of the allocations were sketchy and had called on Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Idris Jala to provide an explaination.

He pointed out that a “facilitation fund” was first introduced in Budget 2011 with a RM1 billion allocation, followed by RM2.5 billion for 2012, and maintained at RM2.5 billion in Budget 2013.

The facilitation fund went up to a whopping RM4 billion in Budget 2014 but was reduced to RM2.5 billion for this year.

Liew, who is also DAP’s political education director, said that he had also noticed several allocations under the Finance Ministry in the 2015 Budget which seemed “fishy”.

“These funds are named under things like ‘Projek Kecil’ (small projects). But what is that? This can be defined in any way the PM chooses,” he added.

He also revealed that the allocations under PMD had shown a sharp increase from 2008 onwards, lamenting that this was not how the budget used to be distributed.

“I’ve had the liberty of speaking to several former ministers who said that there were much less discretionary funds in previous budgets, even during the time of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.” – October 12, 2014.

…more
PM’s Department gobbles up 25% of budget but lacks accountability, says lawmaker
12 October 2014 – TMI





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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?

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