Wednesday, December 30, 2015

One of the best news of 2015 and we almost missed it!


Common sense prevails in TH's TRX parcel. Just read the good news that, in effect, implies that Tabung Haji would not be selling off the TRX parcel that it bought from 1MDB, after all. The pilgrims fund had been accused of having bought the property to bail out 1MDB, which was totally bollocks as everyone knew that the deal was a sweet one for Tabung Haji. Nevertheless, the management and the board were pressured to sell it off to avoid yet another controversy for PM Najib Razak. 

Well, if Tabung Haji had gone ahead and sold the parcel back in May, it would have been really stupid and it won't be me calling them stupid but the very people who claimed the deal was a bail out!

Gotta thank the guys at the Malay Mail Online and the Malaysiakini for the good news. And Big Dog for not missing it. Read his latest posting A Sound Decision

You can read the MMO's article yesterday (29/12) LTH's land in TRX too profitable to sell.



KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 29 — It would be unwise for Lembaga Tabung Haji (LTH) to sell off its plot of land in the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) as it is a great investment with promising returns, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom said. 
According to Malaysiakini, the minister said this in a parliamentary reply on December 3 when explaining the delay behind the fund’s plan in May to sell the 1.56-acre plot. 
"The land at TRX has high value in terms of integrated development, strategic location and return on investments," Jamil Khir was quoted saying in the reply to PAS's Temerloh MP Nasrudin Hassan. 
The minister, citing news reports, also said that LTH had purchased the plot for RM2,773 per square foot (psf) when other buyers paid between RM3,000psf and RM4,500psf.
He added that the purchase is expected to rake in an estimated profit of about RM177.5 million. 
Nasrudin had reportedly asked Putrajaya to explain why LTH had delayed selling the TRX land. 
LTH had purchased the land from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) for RM188.5 million in April but was subjected to much scrutiny from various parties for allegedly using public funds to bail out the state investor. 
The pilgrimage fund made a decision to immediately sell off the land soon after but Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak insisted in August that LTH was making a mistake by doing so. 
He instead said the negative perception towards TRX and the land deal was created by people with bad intentions, who wanted to "create negative perception on the deal".
LTH has yet to sell off the land despite promising to do so by end of May.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Sultan of Johor

"Every PM has made his mistakes." - Tuanku Yem in Give Najib A Chance, Says Sultan Johor, MMO 27 Dec 2015

AsH called from Leicester, enquiring as to why I hadn't been blogging as regularly of late, if I was alright or been struck by brain damage after growing yet another year older. "Tired, Miss Hamid," I told my former teacher. Oh, I sounded like Annie of the Life of Annie fame, I thought, but the truth is everyone who hasn't gone mad ought to be tired of the politics that have dogged the nation and bogged all of us down for the whole of 2015. The message from the Sultan Johor - for the nation to be fair to Najib Razak as they have been with previous Prime Ministers - is, therefore, refreshing for a change. Just what the nation's tired soul and spirit need. Or, rather, just what a tired older blogger needs to put up another posting. 

Tomorrow or next year the Sultan will say something I may totally disagree with, but that's for another day. For now, I am interested in the response of only one man - Dr Mahathir Mohamad - to the Sultan's call. 




Give Najib a chance, says Johor Sultan 
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 27 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak should get the same chance his predecessors were given to rectify any mistakes, said Johor Sultan Tuanku Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar.
He said although the prime minister has come under criticism, it was time that the nation “move on”, although he also stressed that there are still issues that the Najib administration must address and explain. 
“I must say every prime minister has made his mistakes… I know the prime minister has come under much criticism but I say give him a chance. 
“The year has come to an end, and we must move on… there are issues that still need to be tackled, that need to convince the people, that need answers, but I must say they also need closure,” the Sultan said in an interview with the Sunday Star
He also dismissed claims that he was not in favour of Najib, saying that as the Johor Sultan, he does not favour anyone as it was his duty to stay out of politics. 
Claims that the Johor royal house was unhappy with Putrajaya emerged after Najib dismissed his deputy, former Johor mentri besar Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, from the Cabinet in July. 
The two fell out purportedly over the former’s handling of the 1 Malaysia Development Bhd. 
The Johor ruler revealed that Muhyiddin did express his unhappiness when the two met following the latter’s dismissal, but said the meeting was not in anyway political. 
“I listen and keep it to myself. I have also met up with the prime minister and avoid speaking to him about politics. 
“Let the politician handle politics. I am above politics,” he said.  

Saturday, December 19, 2015

PAC member slams his colleagues for misleading public, defends Arul Kanda

"[What they did] is dangerous as it will cast doubts on the integrity of the PAC commitee and our current and future investigations whether on 1MDB or on other inquiries." - YB Liang Teck Meng

Thank you, YB Liang Teck Meng for having the guts to tell off his own colleagues in the PAC. It can't be easy, I'm sure, but what they did deserve a telling off. And members of the public deserve to know the truth.


Press Statement by Liang Teck Meng, member of the Parliament Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

Despite agreeing that the PAC Chairman will be the only authorised person to issue statements about PAC sessions, I note with increasing concern that two of my fellow PAC members have ignored this understanding that we collectively agreed on.

For reasons that I cannot explain, two of my fellow PAC members saw fit to make statements after the PAC session yesterday that were misleading and designed to prejudice the public on PAC proceedings.

It seems these people are more interested to politicize the proceedings rather than in finding out the actual truth of the subject of our inquiry.

As a member of the PAC committee, I am truly disappointed and upset with their behavior. It is full of lies and misleading.

I am confident that the full transcript of this session in the Hansard will confirm what I have said.

For example, it is not true that 1MDB President Mr. Arul Kanda was unable to answer questions which put to him.

Throughout the 3 hour session yesterday and the previous 5 hour session with Mr Arul Kanda, there was only one question that he chose not to fully answer because that was related to an allegation in the media a day before on matters that relates to an external party.

In my opinion, Mr Arul Kanda is not in a position to comment on that particular question as it relates to a third party and it was from a speculative unproven media article instead of the Auditor General report on 1MDB.

This selective and partial release of information by these parties does not give a true and fair picture of what transpired in the proceedings yesterday. In my opinion, such selective release of information seems designed to politicize the proceedings again, and again mislead the public and prejudice our proceedings.

And unfortunately it seems that certain media organizations - especially certain online English and Chinese media have bought into this hook, line and sinker.

This is dangerous as it will cast doubts on the integrity of the PAC commitee and our current and future investigations whether on 1MDB or on other inquiries.

If this blatant disregard for the PAC rules and continued deliberate prejudicing of the PAC proceedings should occur again, I strongly urge the speaker of the house to take appropriate action on them and even we shoud consider to refer them to the Parliament's Rights and Privileges Committee.


Liang Teck Meng,
MP for Simpang Renggam,
Member of the Parliament's Public Accounts Committee

Friday, December 18, 2015

Drones


Well, no drone in Malaysia is likely to be as lucky as the drone in the video above, but you'll get my drift when I say that, yes, drones should be regulated. Or, rather, the guys operating the drone should be regulated. Or maybe both.

And that's exactly what our Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) is planning on doing, I hear.

Drones (or UAVs, which stands for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) are growing in popularity worldwide, not just in Malaysia. Drones can carry out naughty or even evil missions (when used by military madmen, especially), and drones can be used for good things, even save lives. 

During last year's great floods in the East Coast, for example, drones replaced helicopters  for monitoring and surveillance, reducing the risks faced by operators and rescue workers and helping them save time and lives. Not many Malaysians knew it then but at any one time during the disaster, easily six or seven drones were deployed by our authorities instead of helicopters.

I'm not sure how many drones there are out (or up) there now but the number is surely increasing.

Regulating the UAVs will help:

1. Ensure the application is in the hands of the persons who are qualified and proper to own and operate one; 
2. Prevent the abuse of drones in high-security or/and sensitive areas, such as police stations, military installations, and prisons etc); and 
3. Avoid mid-air accidents by ensuring that drones (especially the more advanced UAVs) are not operated in commercial as well as non-commercial airspace routes and patterns.

Currently, any UAV weighing more than 20kg maximum take off weight (MTOW) requires to be under airworthiness certification process issued by DCA. Only persons with private pilot license A (which is MTOW not more than 2.400kg) is allowed to operate the UAV. This is in line with the Civil Aviation Act and the Chicago Convention, under ICAO.

The advancement of technology means that the UAV is getting smaller and able to carry payloads, such as camera, surveillance apparatus and mobile sensitive scientific measurement equipment. 

What I hear is DCA plans to regulate all UAVs, even lesser than 20kg MTOW ones.  It is the function of the UAV, rather than the physical measurement, which defines the mobile aerial transport unit. The base stations may also be regulated.

Drones are popular with entertainment, sports and event management, broadcasting, film  and production companies, security and traffic management, environment and natural resources management and property and construction.

Various government agencies and authorities are also using drones as a tool of productivity and efficiency. The application would also cover large plantations and agriculture industry,

A good example is local authority. The enforcement to monitor traffic, parking, cleanliness, waste and water reticulation management, petty traders, pasar malams and pasar tanis and park and public spaces management would be improved and become more efficient.

Imagine a port authority would efficiently manage the berthing and cargo management of merchant shipping, fishing and recreational vessels and special purpose structures such as the one used for oil and gas industry.

Of course there will always be the adventurers among us who will use drones for more creative purposes, other than trying to catch the neighbour sunbathing in her balcony!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

"Reckless" Gambero: Who's Italian connection?

“PR1MA is a total failure. It is not delivering homes at the right value in the right place. The government is not happy about it, developers are not happy about it, the market is not happy about it." - Daniele Gambero, Italian property consultant at the PropertyGuru's Property Market Outlook 2016

RECKLESS is what PR1MA called Gambero's allegation. Me, I think Mr (Dr?) Gambero takes the title "property guru" too seriously. We Malaysians may love spaghetti and pizza but we also know what's crap, whether it's Italian, French or British. Funnily, those Malaysians who claimed to be allergic towards foreign consultants serving the government are lapping up what this so-called Italian guru is dishing out.  
Anyway, I'm glad PR1MA did respond to the Malay Mail Online's story quoting Gambero and several Malaysian property gooroos who were takng potshots at it. I missed their response yesterday until I read it at The Mole h e r e.
Now, can we have someone from the Government of Malaysia respond to Gambero's allegations, please? That bit about "the government is not happy" is so intriguing. I wonder if this was the first time Mr Gambero had spoken on behalf of the Malaysiain Government? 
Google search will tell you that The Star newspaper quotes Gambero quite a bit, usuallly describing him as "a marketing and strategic consultant for developers". Developers unhappy with PR1MA's initiative to provide affordable homes to millions of Malaysians.


Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Merajuk Bloggers Part 2: So now it's PR1MA?


The 1MDB issue is as good as dead. I mean, the idea of using 1MDB and the lost RM42 billion to bring down Najib Razak as Prime Minister has clearly failed. Just read the latest edition of The Edge, which is owned by Tong Kooi Ong, the man who has no love whatsoever for 1MDB. The business weekly's cover story on Edra, the plus-minus RM18 billion energy giant that China's CGN Power Group bought from 1MDB just three weeks ago, confirms what most of us suspected all along - that Edra was indeed a gold mine that 1MDB had never been given the chance to work on. Say what you like about how flawed the business model of the 1MDB might have been: the point is, the scandals manufactured from it are no longer good enough to bring down a PM.

So now some merajuk bloggers are aiming their guns on PR1MA, in the hope that people will believe that what Najib Razak is trying to do, really, is to steal money from the rakyat and not to build them homes.
Same shit these people have been trying to sell, to no avail, with 1MDB.
This time, though, they are getting some help from an incredibly obscure Italian property consultant who somehow thinks he can come into this country and declare a massive socio-economic project like PR1MA a "total failure" three years after its inception.
This Mario says "the government is not happy (with PR1MA), the developers are not happy, the market is not happy".
And guess who is happy that this Mario is shooting his mouth like he'd had too much grappa? People who stand to lose out from the PR1MA initiative, of course. Plus one or two merajuk bloggers and, - this one I can't explain - the publisher of a local property magazine!

Fuyooh!
  
All of these agents and consultants call one another "property guru" so no surprise there why some of our Malaysians are so ready to swallow every word they say. 

For the record, PR1MA has obtained government approval for 230,000 affordable homes and is poised to achieve the target of 240,000 homes for the three years since PR1MA's inception. A total of 190 projects nationwide are underway, simultaneously, to deliver these homes. 
Many of the "usual suspects" in the well-guarded cartel know as our housing industry will not get to earn a single sen out of this initiative by the Najib Administration simply because PR1MA sells its homes direct to home buyers, thus obliterating the role of speculators, middlemen, property agents, consultants, maybe even magazine publishers, and other bloodsuckers.
PR1MA was meant to do away with these elements in the first place, anyway. Otherwise, how could the government afford to build affordable homes and, as one of the experts below put it, "take care of social welfare"? The housing developers that we have - at least most of them - aren't going to do that, not in a thousand years!



The Malay Mail Online's story:

PR1MA initiative a ‘total failure’, consultant  claims

Not only is Gambero not happy with PR1MA,
he claims the Malaysian government is not happy with PR1MA

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 14 — Government-owned PR1MA Corporation Malaysia (PR1MA) has failed in its mission to provide affordable housing in the right locations, property consultant Dr Daniele Gambero alleged today.
Daniele, CEO of consultancy group REI Group of Companies, said the Perumahan Rakyat 1Malaysia (PR1MA) initiative started as a good idea but the company running the programme has not been meeting the government’s set targets.
“PR1MA is a total failure. It is not delivering homes at the right value in the right place.
“The government is not happy about it, developers are not happy about it, the market is not happy about it.
“It’s not to be laughed about or joked about unfortunately,” he said during a question-and-answer session at PropertyGuru’s Property Market Outlook 2016 forum today.
He questioned Putrajaya’s promise of churning out thousands of PR1MA units, highlighting that even all the developers in Malaysia combined would only be able deliver less than 160,000 units per year.
Property magazine publisher KK Chua, who was also a panellist at the forum, said the government has only approved 72 PR1MA projects that can deliver 50,000 units, a mere 10 per cent of Putrajaya’s target of 500,000 units by 2020.
Tiew also not happy with PR1MA
“Of course, out of the 50,000, none has been delivered, we don’t know when it will be delivered. We can forget about the pricing, the location of the projects is a bit far-flung,” the managing director of Property Insight’s publisher Armani Media said.
Andaman Property Management managing director Datuk Dr Vincent Tiew said, however, that there are PR1MA units being built in prime locations but noted that the firm has failed to create public awareness on its project locations.
He also said that PR1MA has changed the nature of its joint venture with private developers as it has begun to see the increasing difficulty in obtaining funds to buy land and build affordable housing units.
Siva Shanker, CEO of property agency PPC International, said the presence of too many government agencies overseeing different aspects of affordable housing was hampering Putrajaya’s success, noting that no one has been able to even agree on the price range of “affordable” housing.
“We need to define that first and then we need to put all these agencies under one agency that will drive this and I believe the way to do this is not to blackmail or twist the arm of developers,” the panellist said.
Private developers should not be forced to do social responsibility work or be asked to partner the government in doing so, as it would not generate good results, he added.
“If the government seriously believes that is a problem, then the problem needs to be tackled by the government, leave the developer to do his job and let the government take care of social welfare,” he said.
Under the Budget 2016, the government said it intends to allocate RM1.6 billion for PR1MA to build 175,000 houses with a total of 10,000 units expected to be completed by next year.
Among the list of measures for housing for Malaysians of various incomes, Putrajaya said SPNB will have RM200 million to build 10,000 units of Rumah Mesra Rakyat with a RM20,000 subsidy each, while KPKT will be given RM863 million to build 22,300 units of apartments and 9,800 units of terrace houses under the People’s Housing Programme (PPR). 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Annie, LSS, Jebat Must Die, Grandmarquis and other Anon Bloggers

Not all Anon Bloggers crap all the time ...

Respecting anonymity in Blogosphere. I have been receiving quite a number of comments from people who seem to think they need to "expose" the real identities of "Anonymous Bloggers" like Life of Annie, Jebat Must Die and Lim Sian See.  
Mainly, their aim with these exposés is to discredit these bloggers. To paint these Anon Bloggers like the Unspinners, Seademon, Parpukari and A Voice as machais, people with low morals, girlfriends/boyfriends keliling pinggang, merajuk tak dapat project,  alcoholics, mengampu sebab dapat project, etc. 
Most of the unsolicited info are not true at all. How would I know? I know because I happen to know Annie, Jebat. LSS and many other Anons personally or by association.  But even the few info that may be factual about these Anon Bloggers are not going to see publication, at least not on my blog.  
That's because I've always believed we should respect these individuals' desire to write freely as Anons or as whatever pseudonyms they fancy. Even Blogspot, Wordpress and most blogsites allow for the use of anonymity, so WTF are we to say otherwise? 
In fact  - and this is where it's so ironical that it's funny - even those who are trying to expose Annie, Jebat and LSS wrote to me as Anonymous or some silly nicknames! 
Since I started blogging in 2006, I have always encouraged people to write using their own names. That way, you are compelled to be accounttable for whatever you write. Anonymity tends to make you feel reckless in the they-won't-catch-me way. Some Anons have defamed and lied in their writings thinking that Anonymity would conceal their true identity. Well, we have seen our authorities charge bloggers whom everyone thought were "Anons". A few have served jailed terms and fined for their crimes.  
Yes, the truth is nobody in cyberspace is truly anonymous: someone will always know someone who knows Annie or Jebat or Lim Sian See.   
Or Grandmarquis.
I recently discovered Grandmarquis's Blog belonging to another Anon. This chap doesn't blog often but he is worth reading. His latest piece is on the NFC issue but it's his scathing attack on Wong Chun Wai's "moderates" and his defence of the "real moderates" back in September that caught my attention. Go on, ask yourself, Are 90% of Malays extremist?




Saturday, December 12, 2015

BENGAP? I didn't say it was Zahid: Mukhriz (and LSS vs JMD)


Stupid ... If you haven't read TMI's report on Mukhriz Mahathir calling Zahid Hamidi "bengap" over the Deputy Prime Minister's answers on the RM2.6 b issue, do it while you can. Becauase Mukhriz has denied this morning that it was Zahid he meant to call "bengap". Mukhriz said the word was meant for 1MDB Arul Kanda's failure to provide direct answers to questions asked*

[Pls read Mukhriz vs Zahid for No 2? I have put the TMI's report and Mukhriz's response side-by-sde for easier reference].

To many, though, it just doesn't make sense for Mukhriz to not mention Arul Kanda by name if the 1MDB boss was really who he was referring to in his speech. Arul is just the CEO who took up the job only earlier this year. He's not a hot-shot politician who might deserve another politician's carefully couched and bashful indirect references ...

So, to many, the picture of Mukhriz taking on Zahid Hamid for the No 2 position in Umno at the next party elections would have taken shape in their minds following last night's "bengap" speech. Umno No 2 and axed DPM Muhyiddin Yassin, who was present when Mukhriz made the speech, will go for the No 1, of course.

Just like '87 again!?


In the meantime ... 

Is LSS calling JMD a moron?

... and Morons. I see fire on Lim Sian See's facebook posting. The pro-Najib LSS said Tun Mahathir's camp, in particular their current No 1 blogger JMD, is showing symptoms of a great desperation. Only morons would say that Malaysia is a failed state or pengemis country, LSS wrote.  

"... Lim Kit Siang has said the very same thing for 40 years already - but yet, we have not become failed, bankrupt or beggars."

This is not the first ime LSS has poked JMD and it promises to be a very interesting shoot-out between two well-known Anons. 

I hope they keep it fair and clean. Remember, cyberspace is not a vacuum where we can write whatever we like. Bloggers have been charged for defamation, sedition, plagiarism, stupidity, etc ... Dan mesti berhemah bila kritik pemimpin, as Dr M used to tell us. Frankly, though, the politicians  don't need bloggers to call them names, they are doing fine calling one another all sorts! 


* Worth comparing Mukhriz's opinion of Arul Kanda with with Public Accounts Committee's We are satisfied, but want more details from Arul, Dec 1.




Thursday, December 10, 2015

If you have just ONE word to describe Umno, what would it be?


CALM. Met a young talk host from a radio station at a media night recently who asked me a question that he'd been asked earlier by a co-host: "If you are limited to just one word to sum up the current situation in Umno, what woud that one word be?"
"Calm", the young man told me before I could even put on my thinking cap, was the word he'd use.
Calm before the storm?
No, calm as in composed.
Look, he said, look at how calm the entire party was in the face of adversary: the split between the president and his deputy, the never-ending attack by the unhappy former PM (Dr M pens "get rid of Najib" opn letter ahead of Umno assembly) and his supporters, including the Opposition, the economic challenges which were about to become even more challenging in 2016, etc.
I told him that, yes, if one were to measure Umno by how the big boss conducts himself, then calm would be an apt word to paint a picture of the party. PM Najib Razak, also the president of Umno, had remained focused and steady throughout the year despite everything that was thrown to him. Najib and his poker face.
POKER. That could be a game to describe Umno. No?
Back to the young man who saw calm in Umno, who was asking me if I'd decided on the one word that would describe Umno.
HOPE, I said.
I'm thinking that if Umno can appeal to more sensible young men and women like my new radio host friend, who is obviously NOT an Umno member, there could be hope for the future of the party yet. 


Selamat Bersidang, Umno.


p.s. So, if you have one word to describe Umno today, what would it be? Four letter words like calm and hope are allowed ...


Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Sulking bloggers suck (Blogger merajuk)


 Updated:
So someone sent me two attachments after reading this posting and suggested that perhaps the Merajuk Bloggers referred to by the Umno president could be found in there. What I discovered is that this is part of a poster war between the pro-Najib and pro-Mahathir supporters/cyber warriors. How amusing!


Poster War No 1

Original Posting:

So, someone asked me last night if I was attending PAU, the Malay abbr for the annual Umno General Assembly. 

I said I've given PAU a miss for several years now and I'm likely to skip it this year as well. It has been one big year-after-year TTS (Malay abbr for a chitchat session over teh tarik, (a favourite Malaysian non-aloholic but addictive beverage) and this year's PAU is likely going to be no difference except for the RM2.6 billion donation PM and Umno president Najib Razak receieved back in 2013. And I've said and written in this blog that I didn't see any problem in explaining that to the party delegates. The money was for the party and the imporant thing is not a single sen was duit rakyat (taxpayers' money) or "stolen" from 1MDB as alleged. Former presidents or/and treasures have by convention received money on behalf of the party before but this time it has been made into an issue because someone saw it as a great opportunity to bring Najib down. 


“Generally, I think the president has 99% of support within the party. But there will be people who disagree with him, but the majority is with the president.” 

But what's more interesting to me is some the things not highlighted by the Press or the portals. Specifically, Najib mentioned bloggers who merajuk (sulk) because they don't get paid or they don't get what they asked for. Mmmm.

11. Friends of BN pun minta pada saya, bloggers pun nak, tak bagi merajuk. Ini perlu pd ini (duit) tapi jangan berjuang untuk ini (duit) tapi berjuang pada agama dan negara.  - Read more h e r e

Siapa blogger-blogger yang merajuk ni, Datuk Seri? 

Any of the above? Or the following, perhaps? 



Poster War No 2

Monday, December 07, 2015

RPK and OutSyed The Box: Permanent friends or enemies?

Happier days: Bloggers' 100-day party post-GE 13, 6/7/2008

I haven't spoken with Syed Akbar Ali in three years, at least, and with Raja Petra Kamaruddin a while longer. About a decade ago, when blogs were fab and the Government hated and even feared bloggers, RPK, Syed and I and others (including our lawyers!) would meet regularly at the National Press Club where I was president, at police stations and legal firms and sometimes in court, the Chinese Assembly Hall, and events featuring ex PM Dr Mahathir Mohamad. I've been to Syed and RPK's homes, that's how close I was to them. 

But Syed and RPK, they were closer to each other. On 6 May 2008, their fates would interlock forever when both were charged with sedition by a growingly desperate Administration.

Months before that, during the run-up to the 2008 general election, by which time RPK had "suddenly" left Mahathir's camp to go back to Anwar Ibrahim's, RPK and Syed would be seen attending Opposition rallies and campaigns together. 

Syed hadn't started his OutSyed The Box blog but he was a regular contributor to RPK's The Malaysia Today, which had a very big following in those days. 

At a clandestine meeting of the biggest and most influential bloggers one evening at the NPC, Syed chaired and RPK presided. These were Umno, PAS, PKR, DAP and independent bloggers who believed they could force a change in the government in the GE if they were more united in their approach, online as well as in real life (the first Bersih, Bloggers United, National Blogs Alliance, etc).

After Abdullah Ahmad Badawi stepped down, the sedition charges against RPK and Syed were DNA-ed (Dismissed Not Amounting to Acquittal) by Attorney-General Gani Patail.

Syed went on to open his hard-hitting blog and became the first president of the Blog House Malaysia and sat on the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) for two terms, remaining close to Dr Mahathir all the time. 

RPK opened a cafe in England and today runs the still-influential Malaysia Today from afar, emerging as one of the more intelligent and effective voices in the on-going, if waning, Mahathir-Najib battle royale.

Raja Petra's How Syed Conned Mahathir and Muhyiddin (The Malaysia Today, Dec 6) is not just a posting on 1MDB and how Dr Mahathir got it so wrong (or so says RPK),. It is also about rifts and break-ups the Mahathir-Najib split has caused between old friends and comrades. 

In politics, they say there are no permanent friends or enemies, just permanent interests. But I'm afraid that most bloggers are not in politics, and their friendship, or enmity, could be more permanent, regardless of what their interests may be. 

And, so, we await Syed Akbar's response to RPK's serious allegations in that article. It's highly unlikely he will or can take it quietly. For this is not just about him.  

Exceprts:
"What (Dr Mahathir) knows about 1MDB is what Syed Akbar Ali, a.k.a. OutSyed The Box, told him. And either Syed does not know accounting or corporate finance or he has been taking Dr Mahathir for a ride — a long ride to nowhere." RPK, 6/12/15 

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Najib gives statement to MACC

Updated: The dictator has gone soft?!
-- a tongue-in-cheek by 1. Zakhir Mohamad, Dec 5
Related posting by 2. Bujai, quoting the No 2: No absoute power to PM 


Original posting, Dec 5
KENYATAAN MEDIA
SURUHANJAYA PENCEGAHAN RASUAH MALAYSIA 
PERKEMBANGAN SIASATAN  KES SRC INTERNATIONAL DAN DANA RM2.6 BILION

Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia (SPRM) telah mengambil keterangan daripada YAB Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak hari ini, 5 Disember 2015 berhubung isu SRC International dan dana RM2.6 bilion.
Pertemuan hari ini berlangsung selama dua setengah jam. Perdana Menteri telah memberi kerjasama yang baik kepada SPRM.
SPRM akan memaklumkan perkembangan susulan dari semasa ke semasa.
SURUHANJAYA PENCEGAHAN RASUAH MALAYSIA
PUTRAJAYA
5 DISEMBER 2015


And they said the Prime Minister was doing everything to ensure that the investigators - the police, the anti-graft body, the central bank, etc - can't touch him!?

"Privilege, my foot, Americk!"


"This is the result of lawyers engaging in politics alongside their practice as lawyers and not knowing where to draw the line." - Gopal Raj Kumar in SD's and the Siddhu Factor, Dec 1

IGP vs Morais and his lawyer Americk

The blog Gopal Raj Kumar has been around for quite a while. Seasoned blogger Mahaguru found him to be "a welcome relief from all the hate filled hype that is being bandied about nowadays laced with pure hatred and chauvinism out there in the pretext of fighting against injustice and racism" ["Going against the grain" blogger, 5 Sept 2009].  That was six years ago. With more and more online scribes turning into hate-mongers and moronic machais these days, Gopal Raj Kumar has made himself even more relevant.

His latest posting on laywer Morais Statutory Declaration is contemptuous of lawyers like Americk Singh, the dude who helped draft PI Bala's SD, and the "mostly ignorant" officials who run the usually political Malaysian Bar today. 

The most egregious example of Amrick’s conduct in this regard was the abuse of his client, the late Balasubramaniam Perumal whose “SD” he admits to having drafted in no uncertain terms with scant regard ‘for the truth or otherwise to what was contained in it’Lawyers who engage in politics whilst in practice will have to account for their failures like everyone else. It is a risk they assume for reward.

Gopal Raj Kumar will be on my Blogs That Rock blogroll from today. I'm sure you'd agree that the blog, a contrarion sometimes, a comformist at other times, is worth it, if only to help us look at the issues that concern us more objectively. He gives me a reason to do a bit of housekeeping to my blogroll, too. 

The haters (and the inactive) will have to make way for a better, sunnier , and love-filled 2016 ...


Friday, December 04, 2015

Why EAIC's "offer" to oversee MACC is not clever, it's sinister


"Where is our grey matter when we now suddenly opine that MACC should be under the EAICís watch?"

EAIC should uphold MACC model

By Walter Sandosam

THE Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) was established seven years ago. This is a commendable initiative from the authorities especially with regard to issues of integrity with respect to our enforcement agencies who, in certain instances, have been seen to be wanting on this front.

Currently the enforcement agencies that come under the EAIC's purview include the Royal Malaysian Police, Immigration Department, National Anti-Drugs Agency, Customs Department, Occupational Safety and Health Department, Civil Aviation Department and the Road Transport Department.

Based on the history of the establishment of the EAIC seven years ago, it was made to known to all parties that the MACC was to be excluded from the monitoring by the EAIC. Why was this so? Is it a case of special preference or is the MACC above the law and accountable to no one. 

Surely some rational thought must have been put in before this decision was taken. If one thinks otherwise, it is an insult to the intelligence to those who had decided on the exclusion of the MACC from the purview of the EAIC. Let us take a step back and consider the facts from a holistic view. 

The MACC currently has its own independent oversight bodies. The formation of MACC in 2009 was accompanied by the establishment of five independent overseeing bodies which monitor the activities of the MACC. As a recapitulation, the five bodies are the Special Committee on Corruption which consists of seven Members of Parliament, the Anti-Corruption Advisory Board, the Complaints Committee, Operations Review Panel and Consultation and Corruption Prevention Panel. 
Hence with so many oversight bodies monitoring the MACC, it follows logically that the MACC should be excluded. 

Where is our grey matter when we now suddenly opine that MACC should be under the EAICís watch? It is not only a monumental waste of time but sadly reflects the state of our inability to rationalise effectively.

Yaacob
EAIC chairman, Datuk Yaacob Md Sam has been quoted by the media that they want to expand the list of government agencies under their purview.  They will suggest to the government to bring more agencies under them including the Welfare Department and the Securities Commission.  It is also being recommended that the MACC should be included. Datuk Yaacob further added that proposed amendments to EAIC Act are scheduled to be tabled in Parliament early next year.

What is the rational for this? The EAIC Chairman has reportedly said they received a lot of questions about MACC's non-inclusion. They want exemptions on MACC to be abolished. 

What needs to be done here is to re-educate those who ask the questions as obviously they are ill informed as to the facts behind the exemption. We need to exercise some intelligent thought here before we jump the gun.

Although the EAIC may have its own reasons for recommending the idea to bring more agencies under their family, one cannot help but wonder as to how many of the complaints received by the EAIC have been resolved. Self- examination has to be attended to first before biting off more than one can possibly chew on - much less digest!

There is nothing wrong for EAIC to include more law enforcement agencies under their supervision but it should not include the MACC as it is superfluous. The reasons are simple. MACC has reflected a clear distinction from other agencies and one should maintain that independence.

MACC was established via the MACC Act 2009 as an independent commission in line with the people's expectations. It was advised in Parliament that the MACC adopted the model of Hong Kong's independent anti-corruption commission to create five independent bodies. In fact, the establishment of independent oversight bodies is recognized by the international community especially the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) too. 

At the domestic level, the MACC is the only government institution that has five independent oversight bodies. It is high time for the nation to adopt the MACC model and apply it to other enforcement agencies. 

EAIC should in fact uphold the existing system or model of the MACC - not vice versa. One should look at the positive side of the MACC model to help improve the culture of integrity.

As stated by the MACC Anti-Corruption Advisory Board Chairman, Tunku Abdul Aziz, MACC was
Tunku Aziz
already "well served" by independent panels and committees. The proposal of EAIC is "superfluous and irrelevant". An independent Complaints Committee already exists to deal with complaints by members of the public against misconduct by MACC officers.

The government should thus maintain the current set-up and scenario. If the recommendation of EAIC is accepted the nation will, in essence, be reverting to the old scenario which does not augur well for the image of the government and our nation.

We do not need more structural changes. All that is needed is to work within the given structure and elevate the national integrity level to that which is admirable. Malaysia needs more action rather than more bureaucratic reform.  

Ends

My take: Mr Sandosam and Tunku Aziz aren't the only Malaysians suspicious of the wisdom and sincerity of Yaacob Mat Sam's suggestion that the MACC be brought under his agency's purview. I wonder if the EAIC chairman was misquoted, but if he was serious about putting a fiercely independent insitution under the agency, he needs serious help. What Najib Razak wants to do is to provide even more room for the MACC to exercise its independence. Yaacob's suggestion could be misconstrued. There are many people out there ready to believe that Yaacob was doing this on the orders of the Prime Minister!

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Smart people rode the train ... before Dec 2: Is SPAD's fare increase justified?

"Smart people ride the train." - Anonymous

For a million or so Komuter, Monorail and LRT daily users, December brings a crappy end to a year that hasn't offered them much to be happy about in the first place. Reason: their fares have not only gone up, in some cases they've gone up by way too much. The monorail ride form Titiwangsa to Raja Chulan, for example is RM3.10 now, up from RM1.60 last week. 

Is that acceptable? No, it isn't. If the people at the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) think it is OK, there's something wrong with them.


SPAD chairman Syed Hamid Albar said the increase was necessary because the fares had remained unchanged since 2002. While that's true (and Syed Hamid only took charge five years ago), that little piece of information is not going to make people feel better or lighten their extra load.


If the authorities had done their job and not wait 13 years to move their butts, the fare from Titiwangsa to Raja Chulan would have eased up by maybe 5 sen or 10 sen every year. That would be a lot less painful.

Prasarana's idea of consolation was no better  [LRT, Monorail fares to be charged by distance from Dec 2, The Star, Nov 2]. What are they trying to say: that the folks in Keramat, Sentul, and Wangsa Maju should move to Puchong or Bangi to take advantage of the cheaper, longer rides?

We have been clamouring for better public transportation for decades. I think the Government is making great strides in providing that and meeting the people's expectations. Even Puchong is connected by LRT today something nobody thought was going to happen 10 years ago. And we are all looking forward to the MRT because it will change not just the way we move around within the city. it will improve our quality of life as well. 

The fare rationalisation is needed, no doubt, but SPAD has to be mroe reasonable and seen to be making more sense. If the government is prepared to review the ERL's new fares (which will affect fewer people, actually, and benefit YTL more than anyone else, I'm quite sure), the more reason for this Administration to take another, closer look at the whole fare rationalisation and make adjustments to ensure that it is fair to all users. Don't forget the KTM Komuter, I think that's a real time-bomb.

Let's not turn our dream into a nightmare, Tan Sri Syed. 

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Why Pua not satisfied that his own PAC boss is satisfied?


TONY PUA: PAC CHAIR'S SATISFACTION WITH 1MDB BOSS' TESTIMONY ONLY PERSONAL OPINION 
 
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 1 — Public Accounts Committee (PAC) member Tony Pua disputes committee chairman Datuk Hasan Arifin’s statement that PAC is satisfied so far with 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) president Arul Kanda Kandasamy’s testimony.
Pua, who is Petaling Jaya Utara MP from the DAP, said it was merely Hasan himself who was satisfied halfway through questioning Arul Kanda this morning.
Arul is expected to continue his testimony before the PAC this afternoon.
“It is not the PAC's opinion as we have not deliberated on his answers and we have not heard from the other parties,” Pua wrote on his Facebook page today.
Yesterday, the PAC concluded two days of grilling former 1MDB chief executive Datuk Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi in its investigation into the debt-laden state investment firm.
Once the PAC finishes questioning Arul Kanda, the committee will call 1MDB chairman Tan Sri Lodin Wak Kamaruddin to give his statement.
The committee was briefed by the Auditor-General on his final report on the audit on 1MDB.


Guess who's getting personal?  The 1MDB issue, to YB Tony Pua, is beyond political. It's personal now. Eversince he backed down from his own debate challenge in October. You see, Arul Kanda, the 1MDB boss, wasn't supposed to accept that challenge, he was supposed to freeze and be scared shit like everybody else would be. Instead, Arul accepted the challenge and the rest, as they say, was history. No, actually, Pua became history. As many see it, Pua will take a while to recover from that misadventure.

What did PAC chairman Datuk Hasan Arifin really say yesterday? That he was "satisfied, for now" with Arul's answers. He didn't say Arul scored perfect As and or Arul was an angel; he told the Press, after the first two-hour grilling by the parliamentary watchdog, that "So far, the explanations are satisfactory".  (TMI, Dec 1)

At the end of yesterday's session, YB Hasan said: "The probe is not over yet. We are satisfied but we want to have more details". (NST, Dec 1). 

Arul will be called again by the PAC on Dec 18 (The Star, Dec 1). I suggest YB Pua prepare all out for that session and make it really count. Last shot at glory. 

Monday, November 30, 2015

Sultan and the Vape and why some things are best left to the relevant authorities

Banned in Johor by royal decree? No, not this Vape!
Ok, so I was having a bit of fun on Twitter yesterday after reading the news that HRH the Sultan of Johor had willed that vape to be banned in the state by 1 Jan 2016. So forgive me, or in the Melayu lingo of utter respect for the raja, ampun tuanku ... 

But seriously, this is not the kind of things I wish the Istana would try to do. It is one thing for the Sultan to nicely advise the Rakyat not to vape because it's a health hazard or it's not cool or it's a waste of money and vaping leaves a bad influence on the kids. Just like or worse than smoking. Or bingeing. Or doing weed and drugs and beating up your wives and leaving them for dead. The Sultan's advice to the "subjects" will go a long, long way ...

But to actually issue a my-wish-is-your-order decree? Mmm.

Gigars are sexier, no?
Let's be clear about one thing: I don't vape so I don't really care if it's halal or haram in Johor or elsewhere.

But I disagree with this decree thing. What if the Sultan wakes up tomorrow morning and decides to issue another decree - SMOKING is banned (oh, I don't smoke, either) - and then another one the following morning? I am sure Tuanku Yem won't do that but someone else might. I am from Melaka, the former kingdom without  a raja, but we have a Governor: what if the Governor wakes up tomorrow and decides he, too, wants to do decrees?

We are not Brunei or Saudi Arabia. This is Malaysia. Notwithstanding the Health Minister's response to the Johor Sultan's decree h e r e (Dr S Subramaniam is a Johorean, if you must know), the MoH is the correct authority to ban vape and the Ministry's position on vape is it would wait for scientific studies (Astro Awani, 28 Nov) on the pros and cos of vaping before making any official decision to ban vaping. 

We should wait for a proper study to be done and then let the MoH issue its executive decree. If you disagree - and a lot of people will disagree, either way - you take it out on the Minister or the Ministry or, as is the practice these days, blame Najib Razak!

That way, you spare the Palace from yet another unncessary exposure to ridicule and scorn.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

From problem to profit: The day the "notorious" 1MDB moves markets

The BBC report

The anti-Arul movers and shakers will be shaking their hands in anger reading this BBC article but I hope they can calm down and accept the facts as just that - facts. The fact is, the sale of Edra power assets was a major coup. Even the timing of the deal - done while the presidents and prime ministers of the US, China, India, etc were here in KL - was great, coincidental or not. The 1MDB's rationalisation plan looks to be on course, with some sources saying that Arul Kanda, the 1MDB chief, may just end up making a cool couple of billion US dollars in profit at the end of the day (plus TRX!). I don't wish to be too confident on behalf of the 1MDB but, well, things are, really, looking up.


Jo: Ok, maybe with a bit of help ...
Johari: 1MDB can resolve debt issue without Government help 
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 25: 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) is confident of resolving its debt and cash flow issue more quickly without help from the Government, the Dewan Rakyat was told Wednesday.
The 1MDB issue is not a cause for the fall of the ringgit, said Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani.
"On the contrary, several external factors, such as the fall in crude oil prices and a global economy dependent on exports, are exerting pressure on the ringgit," he said when replying to an oral question from Siti Zailah Mohd Yusoff (PAS-Rantau Panjang).
Johari said all strategic planning under the 1MDB rationalisation plan were being implemented quickly towards reducing the debt-incurred interest of the company.
"1MDB has planned and is implementing the rationalisation measures, including asset sale and equity partnership. We are confident of resolving the amount of debt incurred without government financial assistance," he said.
1MDB said recently the rationalisation plan involves, among others, debt-for-assets exchange with International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC), sale of equity in Edra Energy and Bandar Malaysia, sale of land in TRX (Tun Razak Exchange) and disposal of non-core assets. - Bernama
 

Barring media coverage: Umno can learn from Guan Eng

Behave, and assembly may be open, Ku Nan tells media



My view is that Ku Nan's flip flop on the issue  is the main problem here, not whether Umno would resttrict media access to next week's Umno general assembly or keep it a free-for-all. 

If Ku Nan can't decide, let someone else decide one way or another.  And explain why. If if it is because Malaysiakini is an Opposition mouthpiece, or the Insider has an axe to grind with the party, or because Malaysian Chronicle is crap, just be brave to say so. Then stick to your decision. If there's anything Malaysians especially netizens don't like, it's your inability to be decisive and stick to your guns.

Learn from Lim Guan Eng, if you must. The DAP boss didn't even flich when he barred Utusan Malaysia and New Straits Times from covering the Penang State government's official functions soon after becoming Chief Minister in 2008. Why did he say he had to bar these two? Because they are Umno mouthpieces, according to him. It was absurd but dd Guan Eng care? 

Guan Eng went on to sue and threaten to sue newspapers and journalists he deemed hostile towards him. The latest court case was just last week: LGE & Gang vs Terence Fernandez and Others (FTM, Nov 17). For context, read MACC begins probe on Merc purchase (Malaysia Today, Jan 3, 2014). 



p.s. Interestingly, Umno minister Rahman Dahlan is said to be taking Malaysiakini to court over the portal's deliberate campaign to tarnish his image, allegedly of course. Read Straw that broke the camel's back: Pro-portal Umno minister sues Malaysiakini.

Do you think there will be an outcry as a result of Rahman's action? Was there any when Guan Eng sued all those journalists? Me, I'd ask Rahman if he really thinks he has the will and the stamina to see through his threat of suing Kini to serve as a lesson to other portals and online media to be truthful and professional. They won't make it easy for you ...