Archive for September, 2009

‘najibby-no-economics’ – It’s laughable, says Zaid

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on September 30, 2009 by ckchew

Former federal minister Zaid Ibrahim has questioned the need for a tag line to give recognition to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s policies.

“To give a tag name of ‘Najibnomics’ to those minimal policy changes is laughable. He has done little by way of articulating serious economic policies to warrant a tag line,” said the former Umno stalwart who is now in opposition party PKR.

“I do not consider Najib as having enunciated any cohesive economic policy framework at all since he became PM, save for some announcement on bumiputera policy in the services sub-sector and the so-called liberalisation package which was rendered necessary to reverse the dwindling foreign direct investment and to placate the demands on us by our trading partners.”

Zaid  said Najib  has not been open in the way he implements his policies especially in the RM60 billion stimulus economic package, as well as how the government-linked private equity fund, Ekuiti Nasional Bhd (Ekuinas) functions.

“Najib did not dare give the details of where the money went, nor does he care to explain if the stimulus are adequate. How has Ekuinas Capital utilised the government funds? So much for his transparency and reforms,” said the former de facto law minister.

The setting up of Ekuinas was among Najib’s initiatives to acquire a controlling stake in unlisted local companies to raise the level of bumiputera participation in commercial activities.

Zaid also pointed out that Najib has yet to address the country’s drop in ranking in the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report for 2009-2010. Malaysia dropped from 17th to 43rd position within two years, according to the report released early this month.

“He has not set out to tell us on how we can be more competitive as a nation. Is he not concerned we have dropped to 43rd position and are rated poorly in this regard?” asked Zaid.

“What happens when the demand of our traditional trading partners are no longer sustainable? How does he plan to replace our dependency on exports of manufactured goods?”

He added that, to him, these are more fundamental questions rather than the ones that Najib is addressing.

Vested interests?

Putting the issue into context, Centre for Policy Initiatives director Lim Teck Ghee agreed with Zaid that the praise for ‘Najibnomics’ is premature.

“It has been coined by various business and consultancy oriented organisations such as the CLSA Asia-Pacific Markets for their clients and, in the case of the Harvard Business School, for its members and students,” Lim said when contacted.

“The Harvard case-study work will focus on the pros and cons of the so-called new policy regime of the BN government and what its impact is.

“I presume the study has not been completed yet. Let us await the results of the study and have its findings out in the open so we can have a proper analysis on whether the study is worth looking at.

“To me the jury is still out on how much of a breakthrough there has been in recent policy reforms and the extent to which it has benefitted the people.”

Lim also added that the objectivity of the study would be open to question if the foreign group has vested interests.

“It will be important to know whether the group or various individuals attached to the group have been advising the government on the stimulus package, and the kinds of business or consultancy deals that they have on an individual or organisational basis in the country or with the government. If they are interested parties, then the objectivity of the study is open to question.”

He downplayed the introduction of stimulus packages in Malaysia, saying that most if not all countries in the region have introduced similar measures in response to the financial and economic crisis.

“It is not only Malaysia that has been responsive. In fact, recent UN studies of these packages show that several countries in the region have had deeper, more people-oriented and reform- oriented packages than Malaysia,” he said.

In terms of the recent liberalisation policies announced by Najib, Lim said there is much concern that these may be “too little too late” and, in fact, that they “barely scratch at the surface of our deeply rooted social and economic problems”.

“As a result of 50 years of BN rule, we have income inequalities at some of their highest levels ever; the public health system eroded by privatisation, endemic and apparently uncontrollable high level as well as lower level corruption; an educational system that is not competitive and producing too many unemployable graduates; rising inflation and government deficits; a bloated civil service and government-linked companies that have been bleeding the treasury.”

He stressed that it will be important for the analysts of ‘Najibnomics’ to look at these negative indicators and ask whether the new policies are directly addressing them or whether “it is still very much the same business as usual despite the new marketing spin”.

Different take

However, RAM economist Yeah Leng Kim lauded it as a good move to enable the public to know the country’s economic direction and the new term signifies “regime change”.

“Najib’s reforms, policies and changes put in place political sensitive policies in order to overcome the fiscal challenges. The shift from quota-based to market-based income approaches are clearly bold reforms undertaken,” he explained.

“Because 2009-2010 are critical years that could raise deficit and government debt, Najib’s stimulus package is timely, targeted and specific in a sense that the plans are within a specific time period.”

Yeng claimed that, under ‘Najibnomics’, the liberalisation policies can provide a greater multiplier effect for higher economic activities in future.

When contacted, CLSA, the independent brokerage house that issued the report on Najib’s economic policies said this is a private special report prepared by its four-member research team in Malaysia and commissioned by a client.

“The report, which was done in July, is not for public circulation. We do not know how the national news agency got it,” said its spokesperson who declined to be named.

CLSA is a foreign brokerage house that does equity research. It has its headquarters in Hong Kong, with a branch in Malaysia and other major Asia-Pacific countries. CLSA is an aggregate firm formed by the merger of France’s Credit Agricole with Credit Lyonnais in 2003.

Yip Ai Tsin & Hazlan Zakaria/Mkini

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The reason Temasek sold BII to Maybank: because it was a bad investment

Posted in RPK with tags on September 29, 2009 by ckchew

THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

Raja Petra Kamarudin

Maybank should come clean and admit that the dilution in the RM 10.77 billion investments in PT Bank International Indonesia(BII) and Pakistan’s MCB Bank is RM 2.75 billion and not limited to the impairment losses of RM 1.97 billion. Maybank had reported that its 30 June 2009 fiscal year net profit plunged 76% to RM 692 million as a result of impairment losses of RM 1.62 billion for acquiring BII(in March 2008) and RM 353 million for acquiring MCB Bank.

This is not exactly true. If we consider other losses as revealed above due to exchange rate fluctuation and amortisation, Maybank lost not just RM 1.97 billion but RM 2.75 billion. This RM 780 million difference between RM 1.97 billion and RM 2.75 billion losses may not be big by banking standards but huge for Malaysian public interests.

Looking at the graph above (see at http://dapmalaysia.org/english/2009/sep09/lge/lge1014.htm), Maybank bought BII for RM 7.9 billion which is worth only RM 5.77 billion now and paid RM 2.87 billion for MCB Bank which is worth only RM 2.25 billion now. In other words Maybank incurred RM 2.13 billion loss for BII and RM 620 million loss for MCB Bank for a total loss of RM 2.75 billion.

Even though Maybank was advised not to proceed with the acquisition, Maybank had stubbornly and irresponsibly pressed on to spend an incredible RM 10.8 billion to acquire banks in Indonesia, Pakistan and Vietnam, months before the global financial crisis erupted last year. Now Maybank conceded that it has lost RM 2.75 billion in these investments in over a year.

Lim Kit Siang

READ MORE HERE: http://dapmalaysia.org/english/2009/sep09/lge/lge1014.htm

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Temasek gains $30bn from market rally

By Kevin Brown in Singapore, The Financial Times

Published: September 17 2009

The global market rally had added S$42bn (US$29.7bn) to the market value of Temasek’s investment portfolio since the end of March, Singapore’s state investment company said on Thursday.

The mark-to-market value of the portfolio fell to S$130bn at the end of the financial year in March, but recovered to S$172bn by the end of July — just 7 per cent below its peak of S$185bn in March last year.

Temasek said the recovery reflected its efforts to “continue to reshape our portfolio mix actively”. However, it also said the recovery since March was “broadly in line with the markets”.

In its annual review, the group said net profit fell to S$6bn for the financial year, compared with S$18bn in the previous year. Its total shareholder returns for the year fell by 30 per cent, measured by market value, but remained at 16 per cent over the 35 years since the group was founded.

The sharp fall in profits means that some Temasek executives will suffer cuts in remuneration as bonuses are clawed back for the first time in the company’s history.

However, S. Dhanabalan, chairman, said the worst of the global crisis was over, thanks to extraordinary fiscal and monetary measures set in place by the US and other governments. “These moves have averted extreme meltdown risks, but added the risks of inflation and asset misallocations in the medium term,” he said.

Temasek said the lower returns reflected the generally weaker operating performances of its portfolio companies as a result of the global slowdown, as well as gains and losses from S$16bn of divestments.

These included the sale of stakes in Bank of America and Barclays, the UK bank, as well as positions in Bank Internasional Indonesia and China Minsheng Bank, but not the proposed sale of a 62 per cent stake in Singapore’s loss making Chartered Semiconductor Manufacturing, which has yet to be completed.

Temasek defended its sale of the 3.8 per cent holding in BofA, which is estimated by analysts to have incurred a loss of between US$2.3bn and US$4.6bn and attracted unusual public criticism in Singapore.

The group said it decided to sell in spite of incurring a loss because the risk-return profile of its initial US$5.9bn holding in Merrill Lynch “shifted substantially” after the investment bank was acquired by BofA in January.

It made no comment on the sale of a stake of almost 2 per cent in Barclays, which is also thought by analysts to have incurred a loss. Other divestments included two power generating companies in Singapore, completing a divestment programme involving three generators that raised more than S$11bn.

The improvement in the value of the portfolio includes the impact of investments of nearly S$5bn in the nine months to the end of July as the group took up its share of rights issues in companies including Standard Chartered, the UK bank, Singapore’s DBS banking group and CapitaLand, the Singapore property group.

Temasek said it had invested a total of S$9bn during the financial year, including about S$700m for a stake of less than 5 per cent in Hong Kong-based Li & Fung, one of the world’s biggest supply chain managers.

The group did not directly address claims by critics that its portfolio losses last year reflected over-investment in western assets, including holdings in financial groups acquired as the global financial crisis was beginning.

However, it said its underlying exposure to Singapore and the 30 developed economies of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development had been reduced from more than 80 per cent to just over 50 per cent. OECD exposure now accounts for about 20 per cent of investments, mostly in Australia.

The group also said that returns from investments made since March 2002, when it began to invest widely in Asia following the appointment of Ho Ching as chief executive, had been significantly greater than returns on earlier investments, which were mostly in Singapore.

It said the annualised return on investments for the past seven years was 19 per cent, compared to 9 per cent for those made before the change in strategy. “We have increased our exposure to Asia since 2002, riding with its deep and long wave of growth and transformation,” it said.

The group said it was “optimistic” about Asia’s long term potential and would target exposure to the region at about 40 per cent of investments, including 20 per cent in China, with Singapore remaining steady at about 30 per cent, OECD countries at 20 per cent and other regions at 10 per cent.

It made no comment on possible listings for major holdings such as Singapore Power and PSA, the Singapore ports operator, which were last month identified by Ms Ho as possible candidates for public offerings.

Officials have said that decisions on when and whether to list will be left to the operating companies’ boards. Bankers in Singapore say any listing of PSA is unlikely for two to three years.

Berapakah Kg Buah Pala di Selangor?

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on September 28, 2009 by ckchew

Kampung Buah Pala yang mempunyai sejarah 200 tahun tidak dapat diselamatkan daripada nasib dirobohkan.  Sebelum perbalahan ini ditenteramkan, pembangunan dan pengusiran di Tanjong Tokong, Pulau Pinang sekali lagi menjadi tumpuan seluruh negara.

Sebenarnya, perkara mengenai setinggan dan perjuangan peneroka Bandar terjadi di seluruh Negara.  Kawasan perumahan setinggan di Chan Sow Lian, Kuala Lumpur akan dirobohkan; perbalahan pembangunan di Kampong Baru Plentong tidak dapat diselesaikan selama 20 tahun; Kampung Meru Tin di Perak menghadapi masalah harga tanah terlalu tinggi selepas tanah tersebut diambil balik oleh kerajaan negeri; Kampung Berembang, Jalan Papan dan Jalan Bukit Kerayong di Selangor menghadapi ancaman pengusiran paksa di bawah dasar setinggan sifar yang ditetapkan oleh bekas kerajaan negeri Selangor.

Apa yang telah berlaku di Kampung Buah Pala, ada kemungkinan berlaku lagi di negeri Selangor, ia akan mengakibatkan pertembungan dan merugikan semua pihak.  Bagaimanakah menangani masalah ini memang bergantung kepada kebijaksanaan pihak berkuasa, penduduk dan masyarakat madani.  Ia bukan sahaja menilai adakah kerajaan baru akan melaksanakan konsep demokrasi dan hak asasi manusia, tetapi juga mencabar kerajaan negeri mengubal dasar-dasar perumahan seragam yang “berorientasikan rakyat” dan bukan berorientasikan kumpulan-kumpulan kepentingan (interest group).

Jawatankuasa Hak Sivil berpendapat, semua pihak berkepentingan dalam isu setinggan di Selangor harus memulakan dialog dan perbincangan awam sebelum pengusiran paksa menjadi satu hakikat.  Perbincangan ini membenarkan semua rakyat yang prihatin memberi cadangan dan mencari jalan penyelesaian, melaksanakan kebudayaan rundingan demokrasi dan sebagai satu proses bagi menggubalkan dasar-dasar awam yang memanfaatkan rakyat.

Dengan ini, kami akan menganjurkan satu forum awam bertajuk “Berapakah Kampung Buah Pala di Selangor? – Dari Perbalahan Buah Pala Meninjau Dilema Setinggan di Selangor”.  Penceramah-penceramah ialah Iskandar Abdul Samad, Exco Kerajaan Negeri Selangor, Pengerusi Jawatankuasa Tetap Perumahan, Pengurusan Bangunan dan Setinggan; Tan Jo Hann, Pengerusi Permas merangkap Ahli Majlis MPSJ, Ang Mah Chye, wakil jawatankuasa penduduk Jalan Papan, Pandamaran Klang serta Noralizan bin Ali, wakil Kampung Berembang, Ampang.  Moderator ialah Ong Jing Cheng dari Persatuan EMPOWER.  Butir-butir forum adalah seperti berikut :

Tarikh: 30 Sept 2009(Rabu)
Masa:7:30 pm
Tempat: Auditorium, KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (Dekat stesen Monorail Maharajalela)
Penceramah:

1. Iskandar Abdul Samad(Exco Kerajaan Negeri Selangor, Pengerusi Jawatankuasa Tetap Perumahan, Pengurusan Bangunan dan Setinggan)

2. Tan Jo Hann(Pengerusi Permas merangkap Ahli Majlis MPSJ)

3. Ang Mah Chye(Wakil jawatankuasa penduduk Jalan Papan, Pandamaran Klang)

4. Noralizan bin Ali(Wakil Kampung Berembang, Ampang)

Moderator :Encik Ong Jing Cheng(Persatuan EMPOWER)
Bahasa:Bahasa Malaysia, Bahasa Inggeris

Forum awam ini adalah percuma, kedatangan orang awam dialu-alukan.  Jika ada sebarang pertanyaan, sila hubungi Encik Chia(03-2272 3519).  Sekian, terima kasih!

Pengerusi Jawatankuasa Hak Sivil KLSCAH
Liau Kok Fah

Another case under the OSA for the IGP to NFA: Who are the 2 army officers went to jibby Altantuya’s house the night Altantuya’s murdered?

Posted in RPK with tags on September 28, 2009 by ckchew

NO HOLDS BARRED

Raja Petra Kamarudin

The Malaysian government says Altantuya Shaariibuu was murdered between 10.00pm on October 19th and 1.00am on October 20th, 2006. That was the charge against Chief Inspector Azilah Hadri and Corporal Sirul Azhar Umar and that was what they were pronounced guilty of.

At 10.01pm on 19th October 2006, two unnamed army officers went to Najib Tun Razak’s house, according to log entry 6494 in the police guard book. (See log 1a and log 2a below). These same two unnamed army officers left Najib’s house at 6.05am on 20th October 2006, according to log entry 6498. (See log 1b and log 2b below).

The purpose of the visit was never clarified.

This means these two army officers were in the home of the then Deputy Prime Minister for about eight hours during the time Altantuya was supposed to have been murdered. Why they were there during those eight hours and who these two army officers are has not been revealed.

From 10.01pm the night Altantuya was murdered until 6.05am the following morning, two army officers visited the Deputy Prime Minister and/or his wife. This is certainly a most odd time to visit a Deputy Prime Minister and/or his wife in their home. And what does one do for eight hours in someone’s home during the time most people would be fast sleep?

According to Fauzi, a driver, Rosmah Mansor left the official residence of the Deputy Prime Minister in Putrajaya at 6.48am on 19th October 2006 using car registration number WLQ 11 to return to her private home in Taman Duta. The car odometer reading was 86,197. That same evening, Rosmah attended a function near the Tabung Haji building in Jalan Tun Razak in Kuala Lumpur

She did not return home until 11.20pm later that night, according to Fauzi.

The next day, 20th October 2006, Rosmah left her official residence in Putrajaya at 6.32am using the same car bearing registration number WLQ 11 to, again, return to Taman Duta. She also ran a few errands and did not return to Putrajaya until 1.01am the following morning.

The odometer reading was 86,315.

On the third day, Rosmah repeated the itinerary. She left Putrajaya at 6.40am to return to her Taman Duta home and to run some errands and did not go back to Putrajaya until 9.34pm that night. The odometer reading was 86,550.

Over three days, Rosmah travelled more than 350 kilometres to shuttle from Putrajajaya to Taman Duta, plus to some other places in between, according to the records.

I suggest the IGP investigate how these ‘officials secrets’ managed to leak out and whether the Official Secrets Act (OSA) has been breached. Or maybe the IGP would rather bury the whole issue and file it under No Further Action (NFA) to save the Prime Minister and his wife from having to answer some very embarrassing questions.

Hmm…I wonder who these two unnamed army officers are and whether they were really at the Deputy Prime Minister’s house those entire eight hours or whether they sneaked out and in again without any ‘official record’.

Ooh, I just love the OSA that protects the wrongdoer and instead sends the whistleblower to jail.

Log 1a

log1a

Log 2a

log2a

Log 1b

log1k

Log 2b

log2d

Police Log 19th-20th October 2006

img154

Bagan Pinang by election – umno in lose-lose situation: Uncertainty over candidate spells trouble for umno

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on September 27, 2009 by ckchew

Umno seems to be in a dilemma in selecting an appropriate candidate for the Bagan Pinang by-election, due to be held on Oct 11.

While the Teluk Kemang Umno division is insisting in naming only its chief and disgraced ex-Umno vice-president Isa Samad  for the state seat, the party’s deputy president Muhyiddin Yassin clearly expressed his stand on the matter by urging the division to come out with more choices.

Umno will have to sort out this mess over naming their candidate before nomination on Oct 4, just a week from today.

The party, which for long held the hegemony over all others, certainly needs to perform well in this by-election, the ninth in the series after the March 2008 general election, and ironically held in a state called Negeri Sembilan. In the previous eight by-elections, Umno and the Barisan Nasional by extension had only won one.

A victory in its home turf is a must for Umno, BN and Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak but at the moment the indecisiveness of the party in picking a candidate may just put an end to its hopes of retaining the seat.

This is also a situation which the opposition is watching with much interest.

Umno in lose-lose situation

PKR’s election machinery chief Saifuddin Nasution, at a ceramah held at Kampung Pokok Buluh in Pasir Mas, Kelantan on Friday night, was quick in noting Umno’s dilemma in choosing the right candidate.

“If they (Umno) do not choose Isa, the party machinery may face a boycott in the Teluk Kemang Umno machinery. This will result in a possible loss.

“If they choose Isa, then it would show that Umno does not have any credible candidates to lead the challenge, not a single credible person from the ranks of the present leadership in Teluk Kemang Umno, even in its Puteri, Umno Youth or putera divisions,” he told the crowd.

The PKR election director, who is also Machang MP, said even former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad had given the thumbs down to his former “blue-eyed boy” Isa as a candidate.

Mahathir had repeatedly expressed his views that Isa is not a suitable candidate as he had been found guilty of money politics in winning his vice-president’s post in the 2003 party polls and suspended from the party for three years.

PAS not spoilt for choice

Saifuddin was also quick to point out that BN’s problem ran deeper as other major component parties too faced leadership crisis, especially in both MCA and MIC which can result on the shift of the Chinese and Indian votes away from the BN to the Pakatan Rakyat.

On the other hand, Saifuddin said PAS’ choice of candidates for the by-election showed a list of capable candidates at its stable.

“One is an engineer, another one an economist and the third is a former candidate.”Certainly PAS does not have any problems of selecting the right candidate to represent the party and Pakatan,” he said without disclosing the identity of the potential candidate.

“The Chinese and Indians have also been receptive of PAS and credit should go to Kelantan Menteri Besar Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat in leading the state for 19 years. Under his stewardship the people’s acceptance of PAS has increased and this had broken down the racial barrier,” added the PKR strongman.

He also emphasised on the co-operation between PKR, PAS and DAP which had improved tremendously despite claims to the contrary by the Umn-linked mainstream media.

“We have managed to work together in strategising our move. In fact, in December each party will send 500 leaders to the Pakatan Rakyat’s national convention in Selangor to further strengthen the coalition and improve co-ordination.

Hard to get the postal voters

He also said that the election directors of PAS, PKR and DAP will be meeting on Tuesday to strategise a Pakatan victory on Oct 11.

While he said that it would be difficult in taking away the 4,000 over postal votes from the army camps located in the constituency, the strategy would be to tackle the normal voters.

“Our strategy is to try and overturn the 2,000 plus majority during the 2008 general election, by attracting more than 1,000 votes to Pakatan. We will be concentrating our efforts outside the army camps while you can be rest assured that BN will concentrate on the army camp,” he said.

Both PAS and Umno are expected to announce their candidates on Tuesday.

Hafiz Yatim/Mkini

The ‘conspiracy’ against MIC: ‘umno spreading hate messages’

Posted in Malaysia news with tags on September 27, 2009 by ckchew

A political wedlock that has spanned for more than five decades is now at the brink of a divorce. More than a year ago, the very mention of this would have been dismissed to the bins of preposterousness.

But the March 8 general election last year had tipped the scales for Barisan Nasional and the nightmare of losing power grows more dreadful with each sunset.

The ruling coalition, especially Umno, appears to be desperate.

According to observers, the denial syndrome is waning and the reality on the ground has left its leaders terrified of what the future might hold.

As the clock ticks down for the next general election, Umno is said to be looking for a ‘quick-fix’ solution even if this means burning bridges with its partners.

And MIC insiders believe that Umno has hatched a conspiracy against their party and its president S Samy Vellu, one that has been in the making even before the last general election.

According to them, Umno employed the antiquated strategy – the enemy of my enemy is my friend – to ensure that the MIC president was defeated in the polls.

“This was proven when a local Indian businessmen aligned to a former top MIC leader admitted that he and a former Umno minister conspired to ensure the defeat,” they said, without naming those involved.Back then, it was said that Umno wanted to seize control of the powerful Works Ministry and to do so, Samy Vellu had to be ousted.

True enough, in the post-March 8 cabinet, MIC was given the more junior human resources portfolio much to the chagrin of the president.

Severe repercussions

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the insiders alleged that the ‘conspiracy’ has now moved into high gear.

However, they warned that it could lead to severe repercussions, including the possibility of MIC leaving BN to operate independently or even joining forces with Pakatan Rakyat.

They also claimed that Umno was attempting to “split and confuse” the Indian community by approving and associating itself with many Indian-based parties.

This was in reference to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s open support for the Makkal Sakthi Party, which he is scheduled to launch on Oct 10.

“This is the divide and rule policy of the British that Umno has used since independence,” said the insiders.

Another strategy was to use the mainstream media, especially the Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia and Tamil papers aligned to Umno, to tarnish MIC’s image.

These media outfits are given the task of continuously publishing or airing negative stories regarding MIC and its president, said the insiders.

Stage three of the conspiracy was to paint Samy Vellu as the chief culprit for all the shortcomings related to the Indian community.

“They shift the blame to the MIC leadership for the government’s failure to look after the Indian community by constantly saying that Samy Vellu did nothing for the Indians and he is to be blamed solely,” alleged the insiders.

‘Spreading hate messages’

The party insiders claimed that Umno was also “spreading hate messages through the media and public speeches” in order to achieve its aim.

As an example, they cited Najib’s opening speech at the recently concluded MIC general assembly where the premier openly called on party delegates to back change.

“However, this approach backfired similar to the one by (former premier and Umno president) Dr Mahathir Mohamad on the eve of the MIC elections on Sept 12,” they said.

The insiders also accused Umno of “colluding with a certain former MIC top leader to popularise him through the media in an attempt to take control of MIC.”

This was an obvious referrence to defeated deputy presidential candidate and Samy Vellu’s political nemesis S Subramaniam.

The insiders stated that Umno leaders found it hard to digest Samy Vellu’s “outspokenness and direct confrontation against Umno” and therefore were attempting to weaken his grip on MIC.

“This move was intensified after they realised that Samy Vellu still had a strong command in MIC when the majority of his team won in the party elections,” they said.

In view of this, the insiders said the powers-that-be want to ensure that the president exits the party as soon as possible and be replaced with a leader who would “kow-tow” to Umno.

RK Anand/Mkini

DAP’s U-turn on PORR

Posted in Malaysia news with tags , on September 26, 2009 by ckchew

The Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) and Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) are disappointed that the government is proceeding with the construction of the Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) project.

It has been reported in the media that the project would be undertaken by a private company Daya Aliran Inovasi Sdn Bhd, whose appointment has been approved by the Economic Planning Unit (EPU).

The RM1.03 billion PORR project entails the construction of a 18-km toll highway cutting across the island from Tanjong Tokong to the Penang Bridge in Gelugor.

It is reported that the federal government funding for the project is RM150 million while the concessionaire is to come up with the rest. In return, the concessionaire is seeking rights to reclaim 150 acres in Gurney Drive and another 350 acres in Middle Bank, near Jelutong.

When asked if the state government was in favour of the project, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng reportedly said that the state government welcomed any project which would help reduce traffic congestion and generate economic growth and revenue for the state.

He also said that the Penang government is still waiting for feedback from the federal government on the project. On whether the state government would consult the public on the PORR, Lim had said public consultation had already been held, and there were differing views.

We are concerned of these new developments. Since the PORR was first announced in 2002, civil society groups and affected communities who had formed the No-PORR committee had been calling on the government to scrap the project because the environmental repercussions of this project are potentially disastrous, involving hill-cutting and coastal reclamation.

Many citizens and groups have expressed concern not for the sake of simply opposing the PORR, but out of a genuine concern that the social, environmental and economic costs of this project are way too high for an option that does not have long-term benefits. Besides this, the PORR project had been lacking in transparency right from the start. No public consultation was done before the government decided to implement the project.

Now we are exasperated that the Penang chief minister feels that there is no need to consult the public. Earlier when the public’s concerns were raised during several consultations with the previous government, it had not been seriously considered. Now, with the new government, civil society is not even being given an opportunity to raise their concerns.

We have been contending that the PORR is a futile attempt in reducing congestion on existing roads, as stressed by the Penang Urban Transport Study which was commissioned by the state and published in 1998.Based on the findings of the study pertaining to the effectiveness, usefulness and efficiency of the PORR, the report stated that PORR will not be of much use to alleviate traffic congestion in the long run.

We have been demanding for an integrated public transport system for more sustainable and cost-effective solution in the long-term. We suggest that the government put its energy and resources into upgrading public transportation in the State. With better public transport, there would be no necessity for the PORR as there would be less private vehicles on the road.

Thus, we urge the federal and Penang government to scrap the construction of the PORR and instead focus on implementing an efficient and integrated public transport system in the state.

SM Mohammad Idris, president of the Consumers Association of Penang and Sahabat Alam Malaysia