Archive for February, 2017

28
Feb
17

Former HK chief executive jailed 20 months for misconduct in public office

Former Hong Kong leader jailed 20 months for misconduct in public office

HONG KONG, Feb 22 — Former Hong Kong chief executive Donald Tsang, the highest-ranking ex-official to be charged in the city’s history, was jailed for 20 months today for misconduct in public office.

The sentence brings to an ignominious end what had been a long and stellar career for Tsang in the Asian financial hub before and after the 1997 handover to Chinese rule, and reaffirmed what some observers said was Hong Kong’s strong rule of law in bringing even the most powerful to justice.

Tsang, famous for his bow ties, was escorted in handcuffs to the court from hospital where he’d been staying since Monday night after experiencing breathing difficulties and chest pains.

Scores of establishment Hong Kong figures including top former officials had wrote letters vouching for Tsang’s good character and longstanding public service over four decades in a bid for mitigation ahead of sentencing.

The nine-person jury had earlier found Tsang guilty of a charge of misconduct in public office.

He had deliberately concealed private rental negotiations with property tycoon Bill Wong Cho-bau while his cabinet discussed and approved a digital broadcasting licence for a now defunct radio company, Wave Media, in which Wong was a major shareholder.

…more
Former Hong Kong leader jailed 20 months for misconduct in public office
February 22, 2017 – MMO

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27
Feb
17

C4: Madinah not qualified to be auditor-general

C4: Madinah not qualified to be auditor-general

Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism says Madinah Mohamad has zero auditing experience.

PETALING JAYA: The Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) has questioned the decision to appoint Madinah Mohamad as auditor-general, highlighting her lack of auditing experience.

C4 said the role of auditor-general must be filled by someone with the specific knowledge and capability, skills and practical experience in key areas related to auditing, accounting and financial management.

Given this, the NGO said it was “baffled” by the choice of Madinah, who “clearly does not meet the above criteria and requirements”.

“Madinah may have the qualifications suitable for other posts, but most glaringly she has no auditing experience.

“What were the process and consideration taken by Prime Minister Najib Razak in recommending her appointment? We ask for an explanation in this regard,” C4 executive director Cynthia Gabriel said in a statement today.

Madinah, who was secretary-general of the education ministry until she went on mandatory retirement from September last year, will take over from Ambrin Buang whose tenure as auditor-general expires today.

Chief Secretary to the Government Ali Hamsa said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V had consented to Madinah’s appointment upon the advice of the prime minister and following consultation with the Conference of Rulers in accordance with Clause (1) Article 105 of the Federal Constitution.

Madinah, 60, holds a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Political Science from Universiti Sains Malaysia as well as a Master of Science in human resource development and a doctorate in human resource management from Universiti Putra Malaysia.

In May 2013, she was transferred to the education ministry from the science, technology and innovation ministry, where she was also the secretary-general. She has been with the civil service for the past 35 years.

Gabriel said Madinah’s appointment “greatly worried” C4, and called for the Auditor-General’s Office to be independent and report directly to Parliament to ensure its independence and credibility.

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C4: Madinah not qualified to be auditor-general
February 22, 2017 – FMT

26
Feb
17

CIJ slams conviction of activist for screening documentary

CIJ slams conviction of activist for screening documentary

The Centre for Independent Journalism says conviction of Lena Hendry demonstrates the targeting of civil society for promoting discussions on human rights.

KUALA LUMPUR: The Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) is the latest to criticise the conviction of activist Lena Hendry for screening a documentary on the carnage that took place in the last months of the Sri Lankan civil war.

CIJ said in a statement that Hendry’s conviction was a serious violation of the fundamental human right to access information and of freedom of expression.

“This demonstrates the targeting of civil society by the Malaysian government for promoting discussions on human rights and expression of political viewpoints.

“Censorship laws – whether impacting journalism or creative content – are drawn up and implemented arbitrarily, and historically abused to silence critical content.”

The statement also criticised “the politically motivated pressure” that led to the crackdown on the screening and eventual persecution of Hendry.

‘Human Rights Watch stated in its statement in 2013 that prior to the screening by Pusat Komas, where Hendry was working as a programme coordinator, an official from the Sri Lankan embassy in Kuala Lumpur met with the venue management and tried to persuade them to stop the screening.

“The Sri Lanka embassy was said to have communicated with the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Censorship Board to urge the film not be shown.”

On Feb 21, the Magistrates’ Court convicted Hendry for screening the documentary, “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka”, without the permission of the official film censors in July 2013.

She was charged under Section 6(1)(b) of the Film Censorship Act 2002, which carries a jail term of up to three years or a fine of up to RM30,000 or both. The court will decide on sentencing on March 22.

CIJ said the award-winning film, produced by Outsider Films in collaboration with Britain’s Channel 4 and ITN productions, had been screened globally and had influenced decisions made at the UN Human Rights Council.

CIJ noted that it had a limited screening for parliamentarians and members of civil society in Malaysia with no incident.

“Freedom of expression is a critical right and freedom in a functioning and healthy democracy, as guaranteed by the Federal Constitution. CIJ calls for the end of intimidation to the work of civil society in advancing and promoting fundamental human rights in this country through the use of disproportionate and punitive legislative apparatus,” the statement added.

Yesterday, Suaram and Human Rights Watch condemned what they said was an attempt to punish Hendry for simply screening a documentary, saying this was a violation of freedom of information and expression.

…more
CIJ slams conviction of activist for screening documentary
February 23, 2017 – FMT

25
Feb
17

Auditor-General appointment: You don’t ask a plumber to do a doctor’s job

You don’t ask a plumber to do a doctor’s job

….

The most important aspect of an auditor’s role is to lend credibility to the published statutory financial reports. How will a non-accountant auditor-general lend any credibility to the auditor-general’s reports? Audit is a specialised field. You don’t ask a plumber to do a doctor’s job, do you? It makes a mockery of years of professional training.

Were there no more suitable candidates with the pertinent qualifications for this very important post? Why was Madinah Mohamad, who graduated with a degree in political science, chosen? I think the public has a right to know.

Little credibility

In scandal-prone Malaysia, a highly respected and credible auditor-general will make all the difference in making public accounts trustworthy. The job demands an understanding of auditing. General knowledge is not enough. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing as the saying goes.

The auditor has also to be seen to be independent. The independence of the auditor adds to the credibility of the role. How will it help the independence aspect in the role of the new auditor-general, she being the wife of an active Umno politician?

The heavy cost to the government and the auditor-general’s office will be their credibility. Whatever the auditor-general does will be cast with doubts and accusations of cronyism, and that’s the last thing you want with published audit reports and financial statements. The role of auditor-general cannot afford to be bogged in controversy.

The government risks coming under a cloud if the auditor-general is not seen to be independent. Like justice, independence must not only be real but be seen to be real. That is why judges recuse themselves if they cannot be seen to be independent in a case before them in court.

The training of an auditor takes many years. Auditing is both an art and science. A basic qualification in accountancy is a requirement and a government auditor must have the professional qualities of the proverbial hound dog and watchdog. The incumbent must be one of proven impeccable moral character in public and capable of acting without fear or favour in a very important role and specialised field.

It is unlikely a non-auditor will have the technical expertise, the professional acumen and auditor’s DNA to do a proper job, even with the best of intentions and nicest other attributes. You cannot simply transplant anyone to be an auditor-general.

If non-accountants can be auditors, it is an insult to the auditing and accountancy profession. I am speaking from my past experience as a public accountant with an audit licence, and knowing how stringent the rules and requirements are in getting an audit licence.

If it is hard for accountants to become company auditors (who must have the requisite auditing qualifications and experience), why is it possible for one without direct audit experience to take up the role of the country’s highest audit office? Will we then expect airline stewards to pilot aircraft?

The role of auditor-general is not a rubber stamp but a formidable check and balance so vital in ensuring the financial integrity of governance and indirectly, the proper functioning of democracy. An accountable government is a democratic government.

In light of the humongous scandals of 1MDB and other scandals involving corruption in government departments, I would have thought the government, if dead serious about strengthening the role of the auditor-general as an exigent move to curb the many inherent financial scandals within the government, would have appointed a more appropriate and less potentially controversial person with the relevant and requisite professional qualifications and experience.

A credible auditor-general must not be a political appointee per se but a meritocrat and appropriately qualified technocrat.

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You don’t ask a plumber to do a doctor’s job
Steve Oh
24 Feb 2017 – malaysiakini

24
Feb
17

Proposed Kra Canal a big risk to RM200 billion Carey Island proposal

Will Carey Island port lift Malaysia’s sea fortunes?

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 24 — The plan to develop Selangor’s Carey Island into a giant port city on the Malacca Strait has been touted by as a maritime game changer for Malaysia that has long been overshadowed by Singapore as a global shipping hub.

The new port-city project, Kong said, will comprise the development of an integrated port and related infrastructure, industrial parks and free trade zones, commercial and residential buildings in an area over 100sq km or double the size of Putrajaya.

He also said it will be able to handle 30 million TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) more container cargo than Northport and Westports combined.

The first phase of development is expected to take about six to seven years if the project is launched now.

Kong said while the project is open to interested parties from port operators, shipping lines and infrastructure developers from all over the world, he indicated that a Chinese firm has specifically expressed its interest in the project.

However, other captains of industry have expressed reservations over the scale of the project and its timeline in the desire to supplant Singapore as the next global sea trade hub.

Former PKA chairman Datuk Lee Hwa Beng said the PKA and Transport Ministry need to consider four aspects carefully before deciding on a third seaport within the Port Klang area that already has the Northport and Westport in operation.

Infrastructure: Who will pay?

“First it is to understand whether there is really a demand for such a facility. After that, it is to test if it is feasible to set up a port there because if it is not, it could translate to huge government subsidies,” Westports chief executive Ruben Gnanalingam told Malay Mail Online.

In the case of Carey Island, Ruben also said a port in the area would need a lot of infrastructure.

He pointed that apart from constructing an expensive breakwater structure, the authorities would also be required to conduct massive dredging works to build terminals.

“This may challenge its feasibility to do transshipment containers at a cost effective rate without some kind of government support like subsidies or grants,” he said.

On giving an operator license to run a port, Lee claimed that PKA would provide initial funds for an operator to build the basic infrastructure, while subsequent developments would be undertaken by the latter.

“Port operators will then have to pay PKA some amount every month like a tenant paying to his landlord in a 30 years lease which the lease is renewable after that,” he said.

Thailand’s Kra Canal

The construction of the canal has been an ongoing talk by the Thais since the 1600s when its king sought to shorten shipping time around Asia. It was put off for various reasons ever since.

According to initial reports, the artificial canal would cut through southern Thailand, connecting the Gulf of Thailand with the Andaman Sea. This will allow vessels heading to China from Europe or vice versa to bypass the Malacca Straits.

The construction of the canal does not involve works on Malaysian land.

News reports said the project, once started, will take a decade or so for completion and would incur a cost of more than RM1.2 trillion.

It was reported that China and Thailand have signed a memorandum of understanding on May 15, 2015. However, after the signing of the agreement, both countries have yet to begin construction works of the canal.

Lee pointed that if the proposed Kra Canal or the Thai Canal goes through, it would significantly reduce traffic in the Malacca Straits and thus leaving the Penang, Port Klang and Johor ports, including the Singapore port, a less likely destination to disembark transshipment cargos.

“If the Thai Canal comes up, let’s not even talk about the Carey Island port, the available ports in the west coast will ‘die’,” he said.

China-UK overland freight rail route

Lee also pointed that the recently launched rail service between China and European cities as another factor that could likely affect operations of the Carey Island port “to a certain extent” should it be given the green-light for construction.

“Currently, many European vessels go through the Strait of Malacca to get to China and with this new train service, I am sure that in time, it will result in lesser traffic at the Malacca channel because the rail service is touted to be cheaper than air and faster than sea,” he said.

…more
Will Carey Island port lift Malaysia’s sea fortunes?
January 24, 2017 – MMO

23
Feb
17

Umno will dig its own grave deeper with its forex scandal blitz

Umno will dig its own grave deeper with its forex scandal blitz

COMMENT Annuar Musa appears optimistic that the nationwide information blitz that he is putting together next month on the foreign exchange scandal will garner more support for Umno.

For once, I could see the Umno information chief saying, “Bingo!”

All along, Umno has only attracted all the bad vibes especially with the display of allegedly thuggish behaviour by leaders such as the Sungai Besar Umno division leader, Jamal Mohd Yunos.

(After all, how many people really believed that Jamal had quit all his positions within Umno? Most of us were just waiting for the shadow play (wayang kulit) to unfold and behold, it happened as predicted that Jamal’s resignation letter was later rejected by Umno Selangor. They say, “Birds of the same feather flock together”).

It will only backfire

Now, on Anuar’s optimism, I beg to differ. With the level of scepticism that is already there regarding the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal, any attempt by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s administration to go back to the Bank Negara scandal will only backfire on Umno.

People will ask why the whole scandal was swept under the carpet for the past two decades. And if it involved such a magnitude of financial losses, why is a royal commission of inquiry (RCI) not set up for both the 1MDB and the forex scandals, respectively? Strange, right?

What is going to happen is that the task force will use whatever information it obtains to bad-mouth former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad in order to discredit him, just before the coming general election.

The same strategy was used to attempt to discredit Anwar Ibrahim in the lead up towards the last general election. No one believed the propaganda. Very quickly people saw through all the lies propagated about Anwar.

Anwar was accused of being a spy for Russia; the next moment, footage of what we know was nothing but a man disguised as Anwar with a China doll started hitting the screen. Anwar was also accused of sodomy. In other words, despite having a slipped disc, Anwar was still capable of doing what he was accused of. He must be a superman!

In the same breath, most Malaysians will not be so gullible as to believe in whatever the task force has to say about the forex scandal. This will be a sheer waste of time. It may hit the headlines in some local dailies, but people will just give it a snub.

From my understanding, most people by now have made up their minds who to vote for in the coming general election.

The fence-sitters in the rural areas would have realised something is not right, after nearly two years of exposure of the 1MDB scandal, especially since it has also greatly disappointed Dr Mahathir.

…more
Umno will dig its own grave deeper with its forex scandal blitz
Stephen Ng
Malaysiakini

22
Feb
17

PAS’ Act 355 rally a big flop?

PAS’ Act 355 rally a big flop?

COMMENT The recent PAS rally in support of the private member’s bill tabled by PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965 turned out to be a damp squib – or in simple English – a big flop!

It was a flop in several ways. Firstly, although PAS had targeted a crowd of 300,000 to show the country that the Malay electorate was behind the controversial amendment, police and analysts estimated the crowd at only 20,000.

The turnout – so much smaller than even Bersih – or Hindraf-organised past rallies – not only shows that this issue does not resonate with the Malay public. It also shows that the reputed grassroots support for PAS has been overrated.

Although in the past we have seen the organisational ability of PAS in drawing the Malay Muslim crowd to rally alongside non-Muslims in Bersih and Pakatan rallies, this time round the Malay public stayed away.

If the thinking in PAS ulama leaders led by Hadi is that his proposed amendments would serve as its main political strategy in order to attract greater support, it is clear that grassroots supporters do not want to give wider powers to the syariah court and to be made use of by Hadi in his ambition to push for an Islamic state in Malaysia.

Which Malay in his right mind wants to see an increase in maximum punishment for syariah offences to 30 years’ jail, fine of up to RM100,000 and up to 100 strokes of the cane for offences?

Which rational Malaysian wants to see the introduction of a two-tier legal system, in which Muslims will be discriminated against as proposed by Hadi and his men, and which could also result in hudud being a reality in our multiracial Malaysia?

I am sure that many, if not most Malays, will agree with lawyer activist Siti Kasim (photo), who has pointed out that PAS’ statement that the syariah laws are God’s law is incorrect. Siti has noted:

“As a Malay, I am the most oppressed. We are told what to wear, what to drink, what to eat and even how to think. Every aspect of our life, we are told what to do.

“If it’s truly God’s law, I will not go against it. But I know for sure that this is not God’s law, this is Hadi’s law.”

The rally’s poor attendance was not only a big slap in the face for Hadi. It was also a similar slap in the face for Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and Umno.

The Malay public is well aware that Najib has been playing footsie with Hadi on Islamic issues as a quid pro quo for Hadi keeping quiet on the 1MDB, donation into the Prime Minister’s account and other scandals which have caused Najib and Umno to lose popular support.

During the rally, Minister in the PM’s Department Jamil Khir Baharom said he attended the PAS rally after getting the green light from Najib. Besides Jamil, his deputy, Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki, was also there in a show of strength by the present leadership of Umno to show off its new found solidarity with PAS.

Growing disillusionment of Umno members

But the ordinary Umno members, despite given the go ahead to attend the rally refused to do so. This accounts for the small crowd in what was in effect a combined PAS-Umno rally. To me this shows the growing disillusionment of Umno members with Najib’s and Hadi’s marriage of convenience.

Umno members must have known that they were being made use of. Thus, despite the presence of two senior Umno ministers at the rally, they preferred to stay at home!

If the Act 355 rally was a flop for PAS and Umno, the opposition should take heart and feel encouraged. Amanah leaders, especially, should be comforted that the Muslim support for Act 355 has been overrated.

They should now go into the kampung with a campaign that shows that Hadi has little moral or religious standing or integrity because of his silence on Felda scandals, corruption, the goods and services tax (GST) and the many other issues that affect the Malay rural masses.

…more
PAS’ Act 355 rally a big flop?
Koon Yew Yin
21 Feb 2017 – malaysiakin




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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