Tuesday, June 29, 2021

The King repeats himself, again: Reconvene Parliament NOW

KL, 29 June 21: Anywhere else in the world, or in a better Malaysia not too long ago, the King only needs to say it once. 

Here in Mahiaddin's Malaysia, His Majesty has to repeat himself. And the only reason our YDPA has to repeat himself is because some people just don't understand, or rather do not want to understand, what His Majesty wishes to do that is in the best interest of the people and the nation. Keywords: Some people, Everybody else understands very clearly what the King, the Council of Rulers, and the Rakyat want. 

Some people are just morons.

The Vibes has the story on the King's latest statement, for the benefit of the Prime Minister and the people around him who seem to have problems with comprehension:


 - Sitting must happen as soon as possible, says King

For good measure, let us reproduce the Istana Negara statement here so everyone can cross-check:

KENYATAAN MEDIA Kuala Lumpur, 29 Jun, 2021  
Adalah dimaklumkan bahawa KDYMM Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah Ibni Almarhum Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah Al-Musta’in Billah berkenan menerima menghadap Yang di-Pertua Dewan Negara YB Senator Tan Sri Dr. Rais bin Yatim dan Yang di-Pertua Dewan Rakyat YB Datuk Azhar bin Harun di Istana Negara, hari ini. Turut hadir pada sesi yang berlangsung selama satu jam bermula pada jam 11.00 pagi ini ialah Timbalan Yang di-Pertua Dewan Negara YB Senator Dato' Seri Haji Mohamad Ali bin Haji Mohamad serta kedua-dua Timbalan Yang di-Pertua Dewan Rakyat, YB Dato' Haji Mohd Rashid bin Hasnon dan YB Dato' Sri Azalina binti Othman Said. 
Susulan sesi menghadap ini dan lanjutan daripada sesi Perbincangan Khas Raja-Raja Melayu yang telah berlangsung pada 16 Jun, 2021 lalu, Seri Paduka Baginda menzahirkan pandangan bahawa persidangan Parlimen perlu diadakan secepat mungkin dengan mengikut garis panduan dan prosedur operasi standard COVID-19 yang ditetapkan oleh Kerajaan dan Parlimen Malaysia. Ini bagi membolehkan Proklamasi Darurat dan Ordinan-ordinan Darurat yang telah dikeluarkan dapat dibentang di Parlimen seperti yang termaktub dalam Perkara 150 (3) Perlembagaan Persekutuan. 
Selain itu, Seri Paduka Baginda menzahirkan pandangan bahawa semua Jawatankuasa-Jawatankuasa Pilihan Parlimen Ke-14 hendaklah meneruskan sesisesi mesyuaratnya untuk pelaksanaan mekanisme semak dan imbang bagi menjamin berlakunya tadbir urus yang telus, berintegriti dan bertanggungjawab khususnya menangani isu-isu dasar awam dan kemasyarakatan serta hal ehwal kewangan dan perbelanjaan negara. 
Semasa sesi menghadap tersebut, Seri Paduka Baginda menzahirkan penghargaan dan terima kasih atas komitmen dan kesediaan pihak Parlimen untuk mengadakan persidangan Parlimen secepat mungkin. 
Perlu diperjelaskan juga di sini bahawa pandangan dan seruan-seruan yang dinyatakan ini merupakan pendirian Seri Paduka Baginda dan Duli-Duli Yang Maha Mulia Raja-Raja Melayu yang bertindak sebagai Raja Berperlembagaan berlandaskan prinsip keluhuran Perlembagaan Persekutuan dan kedaulatan undang-undangnya. Seri Paduka Baginda turut mengambil kesempatan ini menyeru rakyat untuk bersama mendoakan agar negara sentiasa berada di bawah lindungan Allah SWT, dijauhi dari sebarang musibah dan wabak COVID-19 dapat dibendung serta diakhiri dengan segera. 
Dato’ Indera Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin, Datuk Pengelola Bijaya Diraja Istana Negara

Now, please, Mr Prime Minister, do the right thing: advise the King to reconvene Parliament. Don't let those morons drag you - and the people and the country - down any further.

Monday, June 28, 2021

In Malaysia, a company claiming to have been wronged by KPMG takes on one of the world's Big Four accounting firms

Burn, Big 4, Burn!

KL, 28 June 21: Serba Dinamik is a big corporation, by Malaysian standards. But compared with KPMG, it is tiny. In the eyes of the world's giant accounting firms, the Bumiputera entity is puny. Smaller than tiny. Therefore, news that the Sarawak-based MRO company has decided to sue KPMG, its own auditor until recently, is I-almost-fell-of -the-chair huge, shocking. What were the people at Serba Dinamik thinking? Have they gone mad? Suicidal? In all my years as a journalist - half that time as a financial reporter - no Malaysian company had dared defy the Big Four, let alone take them to court!

But that's what makes it interesting, right? David vs Golliath. The Underdogs vs, the, er,  Undergods.

So I asked a very seasoned accountant's take on the matter. The quality of the response, I must say, took me aback:

"I think it's time for corporations to fight back. For too long, they have abused their positions. Some have even held companies to ransom. Good time for the Big Four to burn."

Interesting, indeed.

Read: Serba Dinamic vs KPMG, a "shoplot auditor" case? - NST 

Saturday, June 26, 2021

The question is, Zafrul, will the government sell out MAHB (and the people) and let that property fella take over Subang airport?

Doublespeak is language that deliberately obscures, disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words. ... It may also refer to intentional ambiguity in language or to actual inversions of meaning. In such cases, doublespeak disguises the nature of the truth. - Wikipedia

Subang, 26 June 21: Some of us were actually lulled into believing, upon reading Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul's statement yesterday, that the Government had rejected, or will not entertain, the proposal by a property tycoon to take over the entire operations of Subang airport, the country's second main gateway, from MAHB. 

But that turned out to be wishful thinking. It was soon made clear that Zafrul was just stating a non-issue: Putrajaya has no plans to sell Subang Airport property

A non-issue because from the very beginning, the sale of LTSAAS was never an issue or the issue. 

The issue is very simple: A company with political links but zero track record in aviation submitted a proposal in March to develop LTSAAS into a city airport. The property tycoon who heads the company would be given a lease up to 2092 if the government approves the proposal. 

The question the people have is also simple: Is the Government going to allow this tycoon and his small band of wealthy shareholders to take over the operations of LTSAAS and develop the Subang Airport property as it likes?

Zafrul, in his statement issued on his birthday yesterday (Happy belated birthday, YB), did not answer the above simple question and therefore did nothing to resolve the simple issue at hand. 

Read the MOF's full statement:

My favourite quotes? 

“In this regard, the Ministry of Finance (MoF) would like to advise all parties to not spread false news and rumors about this (sale of the Subang Airport), and the government will not hesitate to take appropriate action against the parties that do so,” 

Back to the LTSAAS issue, the Minister of Transport Wee Ka Siong also made a statement yesterday but it was a lame one. Read MOF will explain on LTSAAS issue soon.

Neither Zafrul nor Wee said that the tycoon's proposal to take over Subang airport from MAHB until 2092 has been rejected or will be rejected by the Cabinet. 

In other words, something  is still cooking for someone's port of gold.

Read alsoMAHB awaits not from government to implement Subang Airport Regeneration Plan

Thursday, June 24, 2021

UMNO, PKR against Subang airport takeover

Puchong, 24 June: They say Tok Mat is more popular among Malaysians than in his own party. I think it is easy to see why. The Umno No 2 spends little time politicking (not to say that he doesn't dabble at all) and more time addressing issues that affect not just his party members but the people. Mohamad Hasan's take on the takeover attempt of LTSAAS, involving a rich few and ministers in the Cabinet, is timely, compelling, a breath of fresh air. If politicians can balance their penchant for wine, women and themselves with an honest interest to overcome the struggle and suffering of the rakyat, this world will be a better place.

Hats off also to the PKR MP (How will takeover benefit Subang airport strategic plans?). for coming out boldly to support the workers' cause. 

p.s Who said Umno and PKR can't work together for the people's interest?

Mat Hasan supports airport workers’ protest against Subang takeover plan

KUALA LUMPUR, June 23, 2021: The protest by airport workers against a proposed takeover of the Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport (LTSAAS) in Subang has gain the attention of Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan.

Mohamad, in a Facebook post today, expressed his support for the Malaysia Airports Workers Union (Kesma), which on Monday threatened to go on strike over the matter.

He said the government should not consider the proposal as the airport is a strategic asset own by Malaysia Airport Holdings Bhd (MAHB), which is a government-linked company entrusted with the people’s interests.

He stressed that the proposal to hand over the airport to rich individuals could be harmful to national interests.

“Many have forgotten that the LTSAAS is the nearest airport to Kuala Lumpur and other major cities such as Shah Alam, Klang and Petaling Jaya. We have lost the airport in Sungai Besi.

“In the event of a national emergency, LTSAAS is the nearest airport that we could utilise for emergency missions, humanitarian assistance, and evacuations. Due to this strategic interest, the airport should remain as a government’s asset,” he said.

Mohamad said the government should be transparent on any such proposal as the people have the right to be informed as they were the actual main stakeholders of LTSAAS.

He also advised the government not to be swayed by profit projections by private entities, especially since the proposal to take over the airport was made by a property developer with no real experience in air transport industry

He also called on the government to accept MAHB’s ‘Regeneration Plan’ for the airport which will double the number of global and local aviation operators there to more than 100 from the current 35.

The takeover of the airport was proposed by WCT Holdings Bhd, through its subsidiary Subang Skypark Sdn Bhd for the acquisition and rights to operate the airport until 2092.

Critics of the proposal have warned of possible losses of up to RM11.9 billion.

The airport is one of 39 currently being managed by MAHB.

MAHB group chief executive officer Datuk Mohd Shukrie Mohd Salleh had said that a comprehensive strategic plan for the long-term development of LTSAAS has been submitted to the government.

He also stated that MAHB has sufficient internal cash reserves to execute the project, which requires infrastructure investment of RM300 million staggered over the next five years. - The Mole

Read also whatSharan Raj had to say in (\PSM backs MAHB unions, calls for Subang airport deal to be scrapped

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

With Darurat coming to an end comes a mad rush to fast-track the approval of mega projects

The case of the "hostile" takeover of Subang airport  

KL, 22 June: Malaysian workers threatening to go on strike is NOT something you read about everyday. But in the case of the ultimatum issued to the Government yesterday by Kesma, the airport workers' trade union, the writing has been on the wall. [Read Airport workers threaten to strike over proposed Subang airport takeover]. 

Already faced with the worst of times brought about by the pandemic, a proposal  to take over the LTSAAS by a property tycoon with strong ties with the current government has made it unbearable for the airport workers. 

In the context of making ton of money for the tycoon, his company and already well-off shareholders, the proposal is, of course, an excellent one. But the union reckons its members will end up losers. The workers say they speak for their employers, the MAHB, too. The MAHB, to its credit, has retrenched NOT a single employee since the first Movement Control Order (MCO) was imposed in March last year. A private entity driven purely by profits may not be as compassionate. 

The questions that need to be asked are simple:

1. Why does the Government seem keen - too keen, if you ask me - to let WCT take over the operations of LTSAAS? WCT is a property developer and tycoon Desmond Lim, who is synonymous with Pavilion KL, does not have a track record of operating airports (not that I know of). 

2. Was MAHB running LTSAAS poorly? From what I know, Subang Airport has grown by four-fold between 2005 and 2019, generated some RM5.7 b in revenues, and created about 4,000 high-end jobs that pay between RM4k and RM25k a month. LTSAAS is today home for the who's who in aerospace and aviation sector, including Dassault, Collins Aerospace, SR Technics, Skyports, and DAviation. Half the companies operating in Subang are Bumiputera enterprises.

3. Do we need another mammoth commercial development? (Pavilion Subang, anyone?)

A Minister or two in this Government have been hinting that MAHB does not have the means to continue running LTSAAS. That's laughable. MAHB operates 39 airports in the country (and some overseas). In 2019 alone, it contributed more than RM460 million to our coffers and paid RM100 mil in taxes. Despite the pandemic, MAHB has raised more than RM3 billion in funds. In recent years, it spent RM4 billion to build the KLIA 2.

There are other aspects, including national security, tied up with MAHB's running of LTSAAS under the current agreement that is supposed to end only in 2069.

Kesma leaders told reporters the other day that they've heard talk that the Transport Minister and the Minister of Finance were going to 'bulldoze' the idea of a takeover of LTSAAS by WCT via a joint Cabinet paper. Some may call it paranoia on their part but think again: this Government is running out of time,. There are less than 40 days to the end of the Darurat, a period where transparency may take a back seat and projects may be rushed before the window of opportunity shuts.

If the union goes on strike, I will quietly support them even though I wish it doesn't have to come to that. If they organise a picket to oppose the takeover, I will walk with them for sure. National interest is at stake.

Saturday, June 12, 2021

The Council of Rulers needs to do one thing and one thing only: get Parliament to reconvene

Not a unity government but LEGITIMATE one needed to save Malaysia

Putrajaya, 12 June: You may or may not agree that Anwar Ibrahim is, really and truly, Malaysia's only real and true hope standing. But having seen Mahathir Mohamad. Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Najib Razak, Mahathir Mohamad again, and now Muhyiddin Yassin bring this nation to its knees, even DSAI's biggest detractors have begun to wonder if they had not made a mistake about the man. The other day, a seasoned journalist getting her Sinovac jab told me we really and truly should consider giving the Saudara a chance. "Let him not be the best Prime Minister we never had". 

Umno's two strongmen Najib Razak and Zahid Hamidi are clearly not averse to the idea of Anwar leading. Mahathir had no qualms about holding up Anwar's hand in 2018 to "save" Malaysia (and to make himself PM again) and we all know he will make promises to hand over the reign to Anwar again if Anwar asks him. And if PAS, Amanah, the most chauvinist in DAP, and the parties in Sabah and Sarawak have had no problems working with this man because they thought he was THE ONE, who am I to tell them not to this time? Maybe Anwar really is the only one who can take us out of this Mother of all Doldrums. Maybe I'm starting to think that way, too ...

But I don't believe the decision on who should be Prime Minister should be left the King. Or to the Council of Rulers, which will be meeting this week. 

It pains me, therefore, to see the YDPA currently granting audience to the leaders of the political parties again to (maybe) decide on who has the numbers and, therefore, who should be PM. The King did that last year and that resulted in the "backdoor" government which, we all can agree, has failed really and truly miserably. 

It didn't work then and there's no reason to believe it will work this time. We can't be doing the same thing and expecting different results this time, kan?

If the King had asked me, I would have said this: he Council of Rulers has do do one thing and one thing only -  get Parliament to reconvene. 

Democracy will do the rest.

It's that simple, really.

With Parliament in session, the MPs who are representatives of the people can decide at the Dewan Rakyat (or even outside Parliament, as precedence would show) who should lead them from now till the next general election. Let them pick the one among them who should be the new Prime Minister.

Needless to say, retaining a failed government is not an option. 

Edited 3pm MAGERAN  is NOT an option, either. It is just a tool of Darurat/Emergency. This is not 69, for heaven's sake. And we need to end this Darurat.

With Parliament in session, The King can finally proclaim the end of the so-called political Darurat*, which is what he has been wanting to do, or so I was told. 

(The Agong had written to PM Muhyiddin twice since the Emergency Ordinance was proclaimed at the start of 2021. In the first letter in January, I was told, The King had asked the Government to engage the people and get their buy-in to the Darurat. The Palace felt that the Muhyiddin Administration was doing little to defend it against the people's burgeoning anger. In April, the Agong wrote to Muhyiddin again asking his Prime Minister if the Darurat should not be lifted already). 

Wednesday, June 09, 2021

Will Bombardier still get it? (Zambery's first test after appointment as BN sec-gen)

KL, 9 June: Zambery Kadir, the newly appointed secretary general of Barisan Nasional (if you needed reminding, BN was the coalition that ruled this country since time immemorial till 2018), faces his first test tomorrow. Not as a powerful sec-gen of the still mighty coalition but as Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd. Because tomorrow MAHB decides on which company will be awarded the RM400 million aerotrain project. No measly amount, especially under the current period.
Bombardier, despite being linked to the May 24 LRT crash in Kelana Jaya, is still said to be the favourites to bag the project. The Canadian outfit partners Pestech International Berhad. 
Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, whose local partner is MMC Corp Bhd, is the other front-runner in the race for the aerotrain project.
Local boys SMH Rail Sdn Bhd is said to be the third company to have made the final list. A clear underdog. The absence of a big name as a 'foreign' partner could be a blessing or a nuisance, they'll find out soon enough. 
The May 24 Kelana Jaya LRT collision injured 213 people, 47 of them serious. According to the blogger A Voice, Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong has received the preliminary report on the horrific crash. 
"The finding was submitted to Cabinet today. Was it a human error of structural one for the automated Bombardier system?" 
A Voice may or may not have the answer to his question when MAHB decides tomorrow on who gets the aerotrain project. 

Malaysian journalists get their vaccines, at long last, BUT ...

KL, June 9: BUT get this: only 23 media personnel, including the Bernama editor-in-chief, got their Covid-19 jabs today. And know what? This after some 1.18 million Malaysians and foreign workers have been vaccinated under a government program that has been criticised as being super-slow. Better late than never? Sure, sure. Bukan nak ungkit, but I first made the call to the Muhyiddin Administration to vaccinate journalists quick exactly today 3 months ago (Why hasn't a single journalist been vaccinated - March 9). It has taken this long. I haven't gotten my date for the jab yet but editors, arm-chair columnists, and journalists like me can wait. My poor colleagues who are out in the field and exposed to the virus and other elements should have gotten theirs a long time ago, though. So much for being "frontliners". 

Sunday, June 06, 2021

Wee Ka Siong and Zafrul may face an unexpected Zambery "hurdle" over sale of Subang airport to Pavilion KL tycoon

And of the RM400 mil aerotrain tender, the other sword over the MAHB chairman's head

Puchong, 6/6/21: Word is the Transport Ministry and the Ministry of Finance will make a big, final push this week for Subang airport to be given, on a silver platter, to tycoon Desmond Lim of the Pavilion KL fame.

It is a move the unions in Malaysia Airports Holding Bhd, which owns Subang, have described  as "most foul", given that the PM himself has just given an assurance that the Cabinet will not decide until after it has consulted MAHB. "They are trying to go behind our back".

Subang counts as one of the most lucrative airports owned and run by MAHB so, naturally, it is not keen. Moreover, it already has its own plans to revamp the airport. Khazanah, however, is the major shareholder (33.2 per cent) of MAHB and Khazanah answers to Tengku Zafrul, the Minister of Finance. Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong, who is said to be quite sympathetic towards Desmond, is in the picture as airport operations come under his ministry's purview.

Only Zambery Kadir, the former Perak MB who is now chairman of MAHB, stands in their way, it seems. 

I know a source who know people at Kesma, the 2,000-strong trade union, and I asked if the union leaders were absolutely sure that Zambery was with them on this. "Yes, praise the Lord, brother, the Chairman is. Both the Board and the Management of MAHB are against Wee Ka Siong's plans. They (the unions) got word that MOT and MOF would be trying to get the deal for Desmond done this week so they are rather anxious, but they are sure they have the support of their Chairman," the source told me. 

Zambery should be losing sleep, too. Up against two key ministers in Muhyiddin's Cabinet, he will need all the luck in the world to "save" Subang airport. Regardless of the PM's assurance (read MAHB to have a say in Subang airport redevelopment).

Subang is not the only sword hanging over Zambery's head.

The Edge carried a report last week about some last minute changes to a RM400 tender process that created a lot of unhappiness - and, naturally, suspicions - among the companies taking part in the bid. You may read all about it in A Voice's posting MAHB's Aerotrain, Corporate Governance, and Zalekha.

Jose Barrock asks, is the tender done in an above board manner?

The blogger A Voice trains his spotlight on MAHB's procurement committee, in particular its chairman Zalekha Hassan. He refers to a move by former MAHB chairman, the retired judge Zainon Ali, to limit the chairmanship of the procurement committee to 3 years, in the name of good governance and transparency.

The blogger says:

Nothing against Zulekha, but this is strictly demanding accountability on politicians and corporate governance. She has to be duly replaced to enable Zambery not being perceived by the public as typical politician kowtowing to their boss. 

The responsibility rest on Zambery's shoulder to prove politicians can make decisions to the best interest of the company and its stakeholders, thus not for “other” consideration.



Read also:

Sacking politicians put politicians at GLC under spotlight /// Now airport workers want the Sultan to intervene in Subang airport sale /// 

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

The good DG, too?

KL, 2 June 2021: It was a given: sooner or later, some blogger was going to write about Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah (born Yew Ming Seong) and link him to the purported Malaysian 'vaccine cartel'. And sure enough, SteadyAku47, a Malaysian blogger Down Under, has come forth with Is Tan Sri Dr. Noor Hisham part of the cartel? To be fair to the blogger, he isn't accusing the DG of Health of any wrong doing (well, not yet, at least). Read his comments:

In my experience with the govt, companies under which the govt has shares the govt will place their people as directors who are supposed to protect the govt’s interest in the company. These are usually the Secretary General (KSU) of the company or a relevant Director General. Many ministries have companies under their purview, like Finance, Housing, Defence, etc that have KSUs as a director in the company. It is written in the Act governing their existence. So if Protect health is a govt company it is not wrong for the KSU of Health and the DG of Health to be appointed a Director. Study the relevant Act to ascertain this.

Still,  the question he posts in his blog post heading still begs an answer. There have been horrifying gossips about the DG's involvement and interest in this billion-ringgit procurement of vaccines by the Government of Malaysia. Understandably so, I suppose: the people are fed-up, suspicious, angry with the entire Administration, from Rina Harun to Tajudin Rahman (no hyperlinks needed) to Azmin Ali and dear KJ

The MACC should do the DG - and us, and this Administration - a favour by opening an investigation paper into the talk of this so-called 'cartel'. In the name of protecting the good name of those good people implicated. In the name of finding out the truth. It can do so without having to wait for a police report to be filed. Unless it has to wait for someone up there to give the instruction ...

Related: Is there a 'Vaccine Cartel'?