THE beginning of the year is as good a time as any to reflect upon the direction the country is heading towards.
Ten years ago, Malaysians were just beginning to appreciate the opening up of public space. Then prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, or more familiarly known as Pak Lah, had taken over in 2003, and then won a landslide victory for the ruling Barisan Nasional in 2004, riding on a wave of public confidence in his commitment to reforming a government that had lost a whopping 14 parliamentary seats in the previous 1999 general election.
What was most distinct about his administration was his promise to clamp down on corruption and therefore empowering the anti-corruption agencies. Related to this was the general change in the sociopolitical air – civil society felt freer and more able to organise public seminars related to various issues previously deemed sensitive.
More significantly, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) was established in 2004, an upgraded version of the previously known Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA), with the idea of being a regional hub for anti-corruption capacity and capability building to “fight corruption by promoting best practices in investigation, monitoring and enforcement …”
Modelled after Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), it was meant to be a more robust agency now given greater teeth to fight graft in the country.
The MACC did go through significant challenges, chief of which was the incident in 2006 during which political aide Teoh Beng Hock was found to have fallen to his death at the MACC Selangor headquarters in Shah Alam. Embroiled in controversy, the investigations and court cases eventually concluded that it was, in fact, a homicide that took place. Although the police did not eventually find the perpetrator, the MACC as an institution did take measures to improve itself after admitting there were flaws in its system.
One of the reform measures was to set up five independent committees, namely the Anti-Corruption Advisory Board, the Special Committee on Corruption, the Complaints Committee, the Operations Evaluation Panel, and the Consultation and Corruption Prevention Panel. These committees would be tasked to provide oversight to the operations and investigation processes of the MACC, and many individuals of good public standing were appointed to fill these positions subsequently, although these mechanisms did not sufficiently boost public confidence.
Over the last year, the MACC has been in the spotlight for numerous reasons, having investigated 1MDB and other cases related to it, but then later raided by the police for reportedly having leaked documents.
Has the anti-corruption commission that was initially promised to be reformed and strengthened all those years ago instead been eroded and weakened?
The MACC in fact ought to be an independent institution given the resources to fight corruption. But the 2017 budget saw a laundry list of financial cuts, including in investigation and surveillance, law and prosecution, prevention, administrative and forensic services, as well as record and information management, and community education. How is it possible for the MACC to continue functioning with the same expectations but with a much lower budget?
One of the core reforms that some of us in civil society have called for in recent years is an independent MACC that reports to Parliament and has greater autonomy both financially and in hiring and firing its own staff.
The MACC currently reports to the Prime Minister’s Department, which surely is a source of potential conflict of interest. Having a truly independent MACC would allow it to truly exercise its duties in an unbiased fashion without fear or favour.
The new MACC Chief Commissioner, Datuk Dzulkifli Ahmad, recently announced that he wants to combat corruption and abuse of power, saying that “for those who are still intoxicated by bribery, please listen to this warning: stop the corruption and power abuse, and surrender yourself!” In the same speech, he also urged Malaysians to support the agency in its mission. The MACC’s recent action in the Sabah Water Department corruption case is a good sign that it is taking steps in that direction.
However, the MACC simply cannot carry out this task alone. The experiences over the last decade would surely have taught the administration some lessons: that apart from the government it serves, positive public perception is crucial to achieving its goals. Working with, instead of against, the community that it tries to educate is crucial if it wants to seriously fight corruption all round.
This is where independent civil society organisations can in fact come in to support the MACC in its efforts to fight corruption. Other expert bodies like accountants and lawyers can also support MACC’s work as many investigations involve technical and forensic accounting matters. However, the MACC must also demonstrate its willingness to have frank discussions and dialogue with civil society.
The MACC has seen tremendous transformations over the last decade and more, but fighting corruption seems to be even more challenging than ever. It is hoped that it is in these trying times partnerships and collaborations can be forged; all those in favour of fighting corruption – and this must be a priority this year – should surely come together.
– Tricia Yeoh firstname.lastname@example.org
The tentacles in the war against graft are spreading wide. Four Immigration officers who listed normal people as disabled, pocketing the RM200 application fee in the process, have been nabbed; a senior official from the Malacca Historic City Council is under probe; policemen who took bribes have been charged; and the Inland Revenue Board has also joined the fray, striking up a partnership with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission. PETALING JAYA: Four Selangor Immigration officers were entrusted to receive and process applications for international passports.
Nabbed: Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission officers escorting four Immigration officers out from the Shah Alam magistrate’s court after they were remanded for six days.
Having access to the applicant database, they did much more than their job scope.
The quartet would pocket the RM200 international passport application fee received over the counter by “converting” the paid applications to that submitted by OKU (disabled) persons, who are entitled to free passports.
The officers had been pocketing large sums this way since 2014, with about RM1mil siphoned off.
An internal audit exposed the ruse recently.
The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) raided the Selangor Immigration Department office in Shah Alam at 3.30pm on Monday and detained the four officers, two of them women.
The four suspects were brought to the Shah Alam magistrate’s court to be remanded for six days.
The investigation is under Section 18 of the MACC Act 2009 which involves submission of false claims with intention to deceive.
MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki confirmed the arrests, describing the case as “very serious and warranting a very thorough probe.”
“We do not rule out the possibility that such fraud may also be occurring in other Immigration offices all over the country.
“This is not an isolated case and must be addressed,” he said.
An MACC official said the suspects were believed to be involved in the submission of payment vouchers with falsified information.
“The record is altered to show that the applicant is an OKU when he or she is not,’’ the official added.
Immigration director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali said full cooperation had been extended to MACC, and had shared the outcome of its internal audit. – The Star
PETALING JAYA: Four Immigration Department front-line officers who are believed to have siphoned as much as RM1 million from the department have been detained by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
The suspects, aged between 31 and 39, include two female officers. They were arrested at the Selangor Immigration Department at 3.30pm on Monday and have been remanded for six days beginning today.
MACC sources said the officers took advantage of a fee waiver for people with disabilities (OKU) by fraudulently classifying normal applicants as OKU and pocketing the RM200 fee on each transaction.
Investigators learnt the suspects have been involved in the racket since 2014 and were only recently exposed after the Immigration Department conducted an internal audit.
The audit team became suspicious when it found a high number of passports issued to OKUs, and initiated a probe.
So far, the status of at least 100 normal passport holders have been found falsely classified as those belonging to OKU, and this is believed to be just the tip of the iceberg, and that there were some 5,000 more cases.
MACC investigators are probing assets amassed by the detained officers and believe such activities may also be prevalent at other passport issuing immigration offices nationwide.
MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki said today that an indepth probe on the case is ongoing.
“This cannot be taken lightly as it has caused losses in government revenue. Moreover, it breaches the special privileges accorded to the disabled by the government,” he said.
MACC chief commissioner Datuk Dzulkifli Ahmad said the agency will use every law in existence to prosecute those involved in graft to make it clear that crime does not pay.
“Let me issue a warning … we will not only pursue prosecution under the MACC Act, but also use the Anti-Money-Laundering Act and the Income Tax Act,” Dzulkifli said in a speech at the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) today after witnessing the signing of a corruption-free pledge by IRB – the first government agency to do so after signing the Corporate Integrity Pledge in 2013.
“I urge you to stop immediately or face the consequences,” said Dzulkifli, adding that even if MACC cannot prosecute a corrupt individual, he or she would not be able to escape the IRB.
– Charles Ramendran and Lee Choon Fai Newsdesk@thesundaily.com
GEORGE TOWN: Four policemen were charged in the Sessions Court here today with corruption.
Corporal Jefry Abdullah, 35, from the Narcotics Department of the Northeast district police headquarters pleaded not guilty before Sessions Court Judge Roslan Hamid.
He is accused of trying to obtain RM1,000 for himself from Nor Esmawati Baharom as inducement not to take action against the latter’s brother in-law, Norhamni Haron by swapping a positive urine sample during a urine test at the district police headquarters.
He was alleged to have committed the offense at the Narcotics Department office of the Northeast district police headquarters about 4.40pm on Mac 1 last year.
Jefry was charged under Section 17(a) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 which carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence and fine not less than five times the bribe amount or RM10,000, whichever is higher.
The court fixed bail at RM8,000 with one surety.
In a separate charge, three policemen from the Datuk Keramat police station also claimed trial over a corruption charge.
Muhammad Farid Nordin, 28, Mohd Zulkifly Mat Nor, 28, and Zainoor Ariffin Rosli, 24, with another person still at large were charged with trying to obtain RM10,000 for themselves as an inducement not to take action against Norhamni Haron for possessing ganja.
They were alleged to have committed the offence at the Datuk Keramat police station on Mac 1, last year about 11.45am.
The trio were also charged under Section 17(a) of the MACC Act 2009.
MACC Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Ahmad Ghazali Mohd Nazri suggested bail of RM10,000 with one surety for each of the accused considering the seriousness of the case.
Roslan fixed bail at RM8,000 with one surety for each of them and set Feb 17 for mention.
V. Partiban represented all of the accused.
MACC DPP Amin Yaacub also appeared for the prosecution.
– Imran Hilmy email@example.com
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GEORGE TOWN: The only city councillor here who dared to go against the state government does not want to continue after his term ends on New Year’s Eve because he is disappointed with the Penang Island City Council (MBPP).
Dr Lim Mah Hui (pic) said he no longer wanted to serve because “the change in Penang that we want doesn’t seem to be happening”.
“I will remain active as a Penang Forum committee member. I will still speak up on public issues.
“I believe people in public offices should serve for limited terms. Perhaps it will take a fresher mind with new ideas and approaches to make things happen for the better,” he said.
Dr Lim, who has served as a councillor since 2011, also believed that the council should allow the public to observe council committee meetings.
“The committee meetings are where decisions are made. If people are watching the deliberations, then public scrutiny can help temper political interests,” he added.
The press and the public are allowed to witness full council meetings, but Dr Lim said these were formal meetings to confirm matters that had been decided upon.
Dr Lim is the sole city councillor out of 24 with no political ties. A former professor and international banker, he was nominated to MBPP by Penang Forum, a loose coalition of numerous NGOs in the state.
His appointment stemmed from the current government’s 2008 move to swear in councillors representing NGOs. Four such councillors were initially appointed but since 2012, although the official NGO councillors still stand at four, only Dr Lim is known to come strictly from civil society.
He made his maverick nature clear less than a year after being a councillor when he joined a group of 30 people to publicly protest against his own council outside City Hall months after being appointed.
In March this year, he was involved in a heated exchange with Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng during an NGO dialogue session over parking woes, road-widening projects and the council enforcement’s car-towing figures.
In July, Dr Lim criticised the state’s Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) and suggested an alternative better, cheaper, faster transport master plan.
A month before that, he sent a letter to Unesco expressing fears that the PTMP would jeopardise George Town’s World Heritage Site status.
Throughout his tenure in MBPP, Dr Lim has been called a liar, back-stabber and betrayer of the state government by local politicians. NGO members, however, hold him in high regard.
“Nobody can live up to Mah Hui’s standard as an example of integrity and representing public interest without fear or favour.
“He had been talking about stepping down for some time.
“Maybe he needs to take a break and we hope he will accept the post again,” said fellow Penang Forum member Khoo Salma Nasution, whom the group has nominated to take Dr Lim’s place.
Former DAP member Roger Teoh, who was initially at loggerheads with Dr Lim over the PTMP, said it was a shame that local politicians had painted him in a negative light.
“Something was not right about how the state was reacting to Dr Lim’s Unesco letter. I felt he was unfairly labelled as treasonous. If his concerns were heard internally, would he have needed to write to Unesco?” he asked.
Teoh had initially supported the PTMP and openly criticised Dr Lim.
He changed his stand after doing a Masters thesis research on car use in 100 cities around the world, which led him to resign from DAP recently.
Sources: Arnold Loh The Star/Asian News Network
“I have declined to be nominated for the reappointment as a councillor next year. I have served six years.
“I think I have served long enough and we need new blood and new people to take up the cause,” he said at the council’s monthly meeting yesterday.
He later told a press conference that Penang Forum suggested Khoo Salma Nasution, the forum’s steering committee member and Penang Heritage Trust vice-president, as his replacement.
“We have nominated Khoo as the representative for Penang Forum and NGOs. We will have to wait for the state executive council to decide on the nominations.
“Nobody told me to step down. It was my own decision. Penang Forum wanted me to continue but I told them I had done more than my share.
“I will remain in the Penang Transport Council,” he said.
Dr Lim, however, said he would continue to be vocal and speak out.
He urged the Penang Island City Council to open its meetings to the public to promote greater transparency and participation.
“Section 23 of the Local Govern-ment Act 1976 gives the local council the power to do so.
“Members of the public can also be invited to sit in, possibly as observers, at the council’s committee and sub-committee meetings where decisions are made.
“This is the challenge I put forward. If they are truly taking about change and a new type of government, then they should do that,” said Dr Lim.
Dr Lim has raised various concerns during his stint as a councillor and forum member on issues related to hill clearing, land reclamation, heritage conservation and the proposed Penang Transport Master Plan. – The Star
GEORGE TOWN, March 16 — Developers in Penang no longer fear flouting the law as the authorities seem to be “toothless” in taking punitive actions, an activist group claimed.
Referring to the latest hill-clearing incident on Bukit Gambir and similar past incidents, Penang Citizens Awareness Chant Group (CHANT) coordinator Yan Lee said the developers knew they could easily get away with illegal earthworks or structural demolitions.
This was because the state government and the municipal council were not prepared to take stern punitive action against them, he said in a text message yesterday.
The council has come under fire in the past few days after a developer defied a stop-work order to carry out earthworks on the hill slope of Bukit Gambir in Gelugor.
CHANT cited the demolition of the 19th century Khaw Sim Bee Mansion and illegal hilltop clearing of Bukit Relau, commonly referred to as “Botak Hill”, as examples of the developers’ fearlessness.
Yan Lee claimed that the developers were fearless because they knew a contribution to the state heritage fund (SHF) “can do magic”.
A check by Malay Mail yesterday showed the developer had stopped work for two days on the hill slope, located behind the Gambier Heights apartments.
The council had issued the stop-work order on Thursday.
The hill was cleared to build a temporary 500m-long access road and fencing for a housing project site on the hill slope.
Trees were chopped down to make way for the road, while a lorry and an excavator were parked at the construction site.
According to some residents, the earthworks began early this month.
The residents also complained of pollution caused by dust, and noise caused by the frequent movement of vehicles.
Traffic management and flood mitigation committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow called on the council to take stern action against the developer for “jumping the gun”.
He said the developer should have waited for the council to issue a commencement of work certificate.
Sahabat Alam Malaysia urged the state authorities to stop the developer from clearing the hill, and to implement firm policies to protect the hills and greenery in the state.
It warned against a repeat of the “Botak Hill” incident.
An MPPP councillor also said the developers had no respect for the authorities.
“Even if the council were to haul them up for violating the law, they know they will get away with a token fine,” the councillor, who asked not to be named, said.
He cited a previous case where a developer completed a housing project despite the case for carrying out illegal earthworks pending in court.
Sources: Athi Shanka, MalayMail online
“First of all, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) can only compel someone to declare his assets. Once the assets are d…
Seeking justice: (Front row, from left) Adviser Tan Kai Hee, Lim Kok, a descendant of one of the victims, Dr Hou, Quek and MCA central committee member Datuk Toh Chin Yaw along with other descendants of the victims at the press conference.
KUALA LUMPUR: The British government has been ordered by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to seek an amicable settlement over the Batang Kali massacre, in which its soldiers killed 24 innocent villagers on Dec 11 and 12, 1948.
It was also told to submit a written explanation on the merits of the massacre and state its position for a friendly settlement by Feb 7, said MCA vice-president Datuk Dr Hou Kok Chung.
The ECHR made the order recently after conducting a preliminary examination of the complaint filed by the victims’ families that London had violated Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which protects the right to life, by endorsing the massacre.
Britain has been a signatory to the European Convention since 1953, when Malaya was still its colony and its residents were considered subjects under British rule.
“The descendants of the victims have for years asked the British government for an apology, compensation and construction of a memorial, but all these have been ignored.
“So, they turned to the European Court. We hope the British government and the families can reach an out-of-court settlement,” said Hou yesterday at a press conference attended by the victims’ families and their lawyer Quek Ngee Meng.
Hou said the massacre, in which British courts had held their government responsible for the killings and ruled that the victims were not linked to communist insurgents, was “an issue too big to be ignored”.
“Though many years have passed, justice must be done and the inhumane killings must be recorded. There is a need for governments to learn from history. Let history educate people.
“During the Emergency in 1948, a lot of Chinese suffered and lived in fear,” said Hou.
The British declared emergency rule on June 18, 1948, after three estate managers were murdered in Perak by the Malayan Communist Party (MCP), an outgrowth of the anti-Japanese guerrilla movement which later turned anti-colonial.
During the 1948-60 emergency rule, Chinese were rounded up into “new villages” as they were suspected of being sympathetic to MCP.
On Dec 11, 1948, British troops entered the plantation village of Batang Kali, Selangor, and questioned the rubber tappers about the MCP but to no avail.
The next day, they loaded the women and children on a military truck and shot dead 23 men, after killing one the day before.
This massacre was claimed by the British as the “biggest success” since the emergency began, and its official parliamentary record in 1949 described the killings as “justified”.
But in 1970, the episode was given a twist when several soldiers involved in the operation told British media of their guilt over shooting innocent civilians.
In July 1993, survivors of the massacre petitioned for justice after the British Broadcasting Corporation did an independent documentary on the saga.
The survivors took their battle to the British government and later to the British courts with the help of international human rights groups.
Now their descendants are continuing the struggle for justice, this time with the help of MCA.
By Ho Wah Foon The Star/ANN
Revealed: how Britain tried to legitimise Batang Kali massacre (guardian.co.uk)
KUALA LUMPUR: Structural failure possibly caused the collapse of an under-construction pedestrian bridge at KL Eco City near Kampung Haji Abdullah Hukum here.
Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) director-general Datuk Mohtar Musri said the initial investigation suggested that a defective structure could have led to the disaster on Wednesday.
He said the department would refer to the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) and Kuala Lumpur City Hall regarding the quality of materials used in the construction of the bridge.
Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof said a task force has been set up to probe the incident.
He said the result of the investigation was expected to be made public in a month, and that tough action could be taken against the developer if it was found to have flouted safety regulations.
“We can bring them to court, not just under DOSH but CIDB too. Under the CIDB Malaysia Act 1994, they can face a RM500,000 fine or a two-year jail sentence,” he said.
The RM7mil pedestrian bridge linking the planned KL Eco City project to the Gardens Shopping Mall in Mid Valley, which was still under construction, collapsed and killed one worker and injured five others on Wednesday.
The search-and-rescue operation at the site of the incident was halted after it was confirmed that there was no worker trapped underneath the mangled brick-and-iron structure.
City Fire and Rescue Department deputy operations chief Ruhisha Haris said K-9 teams had confirmed that there were no signs of a body.
However, the mystery of the missing construction worker remains.
“We first received information that a worker might have been trapped because a colleague saw him under the bridge minutes before it collapsed.
“A head count by the developer also revealed a missing worker, but they were unable to give us a name,” he said.
The dead victim has been identified as Tran Xuan Vang, 21, from Vietnam. Two other Vietnamese, Tran Van Hai and Luong Van Guyet, as well as Indonesian Nor Syamsi, Bangladeshi MD Jashim and Pakistan national Rais Aman Majid were injured and are currently being treated at Universiti Malaya Medical Centre.
Medical staff were forced to amputate Rais’ left leg on site to save his life.
In a statement issued on the day of the incident, SP Setia, the developer of the project, said it deeply regretted the incident and was working with the authorities in the investigation.
“The project team is still assessing the situation,” it said.
Work on the KL Eco City project – a mixed development comprising three residential towers, one serviced apartments tower, three corporate office towers, 12 boutique office blocks and one retail podium – started in 2011 and is scheduled to be fully completed by 2023.
Commenting on the incident, National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said the time had come for players in the construction industry to practise their commitment to safety.
“All these accidents are preventable if the person in charge puts into practice good occupational and safety health measures and the site safety supervisor makes sure work is done properly,” he said.
By M. kumar and Nicholas Cheng The Star/Asian News Network
THE Consumers’ Association of Penang (CAP) is horrified with the news of the collapse of the incomplete pedestrian bridge meant to connect KL Eco City and Mid Valley Megamall in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur.
Not even a month after a couple was crushed by a piling rig that fell on them at a construction site along Persiaran Astana, Klang, another tragic incident leading to serious injury and death has occurred.
If all the parties involved in the building industry – including the local councils, developers, contractors, architects, quantity surveyors, structural engineers, DOSH and all the others – had carried out their roles and functions efficiently, this could have been prevented.
Despite our repeated calls for the Government to conduct a full inquiry into the operations of the Department of Safety and Health (DOSH), it would seem like the relevant authorities are unable to comprehend the gravity of the situation.
When incidents like this happen, it becomes clear to us that DOSH and developers do not have their priorities right.
Instead of working on preventing such incidents, they wait until it happens before scrambling to take corrective measures to fix the problem.
The issue here is that there are no corrective measures that can be taken once a life is lost; that is not something that can be recovered.
Universiti Sains Malaysia’s (USM) Professor Datuk Dr Mahyuddin Ramli has been reported saying that incidents of this nature can happen when contractors do not comply with safety standards.
In this case, he said that concrete takes at least a week to dry and harden; the wet weather we have been experiencing means it will take even longer.
The USM professor also said that another way something like this can happen is if contractors do not use proper scaffolding during the construction process.
The distance between scaffolds and the size of the scaffolds used are very important as they will vary according to the structure they are meant to hold up.
DOSH’s director-general, Datuk Mohtar Musri, has stated that their initial investigation suggested that the incident happened because the structure was defective.
He said that they need to look into the quality of the materials that were used to construct the pedestrian bridge.
Whatever the cause, the relevant authorities and the public need to be aware that this is just history repeating itself.
If the incident did truly happen because of a structural defect, then it needs to be made clear that nobody can plead ignorance.
DOSH safety officers and onsite safety inspectors should have known about the structural defects if they did exist.
This begs the question of whether or not proper safety inspections were done at the appropriate stages by the relevant parties.
We ask that the results of the investigation into the latest incident be shared with the general public.
CAP would also like to know what happened to the findings from the investigation of previous incidents.
Why has this information not been shared with the public when their lives are also put in danger by the conduct of those at construction sites?
In view of this, CAP calls for penal action to be taken against all parties who have been involved in the project. They should all be held accountable even if they were not directly involved.
By S. M. MOHAMED IDRIS President Consumers Association of Penang
KUALA LUMPUR: A Vietnamese construction worker was killed and five others were injured when a 70m yet-to-be-completed bridge near Jalan Kampung Haji Abdullah Hukum and Mid Valley Megamall collapsed.
The victim was buried in the rubble of the collapsed pedestrian bridge.
As of press time, rescue workers were still searching for a Bangladeshi worker believed to be trapped in the rubble.
The authorities have since mobilised the K9 unit to locate him.
The firemen and paramedics were seen changing shift as the rescue mission continued into the night. Some were heard saying that locating the victim would be challenging.
However, all the rescuers were resolute in their attempt to find the last victim, never once giving up hope.
The five injured workers – two Vietnamese, two Bangladeshis and an Indonesian – were sent to the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre for treatment.
Brickfields OCPD Asst Comm Sharul Othman Mansor said the bridge was 80% completed when the incident occurred.
“We are still investigating the incident.
“We were alerted at about 4pm of the incident and quickly mobilised a search-and-rescue team,” he said at the scene.
Four roads were also affected by massive jams due to the incident.
According to Star Media Radio Traffic, the affected roads were the Federal Highway from the arch, the Kerinchi Link after the Pantai toll plaza, Kerinchi Intersection from Bangsar South or Pantai Medical Centre and Jalan Syed Putra from the Kuen Cheng School till the Robson Intersection.
While the main reason for the traffic congestion was due to certain road closures to make way for rescue workers, traffic was backed up near the mall due to many motorists slowing down to see the collapsed bridge.
Mall patrons, construction workers and curious onlookers were seen crowding the area near the bridge, where it was cordoned off for safety precautions.
By Farik Zolkepli, Jastin Ahmad Tarmizi, and Austin Camoens The Star/ANN
KUALA LUMPUR: The Government would like to take over the job of monitoring safety at construction sites away from developers following a string of deaths as a result of mishaps in the last three months.
Those duties, said Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof, may be entrusted to third party organisations that will be given autonomy in the planning, execution and supervision of workplace safety at construction sites.
Usually, these jobs are handled by contractors hired by the project developers but Fadillah said that this would mean the monitoring process was not independent.
Speaking at the launch of the Sustainable Construction Excellence Centre (Mampan), the minister said the suggestion for independent monitoring was brought up by the experts at the centre.
Mampan is headed by the Construction Research Institute of Malaysia (Cream), a subsidiary of the Government’s Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB).
Fadillah said the proposal to appoint third party safety monitors would be implemented first in Government construction projects.
He added that he hoped the private sector construction industry would do the same.
Currently, the Department of Occupational and Safety Hazard (DOSH) monitors government projects but it is reportedly too understaffed to keep track of every project.
For now we will have to make do with existing laws. This is why we need a commitment from the industry players,” he told reporters after the launch.
For now we will have to make do with existing laws. This is why we need a commitment from the industry players. Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof
He said that Mampan would be a key organisation under the Government’s environmental sustainability initiative for its Construction Industry Transformation Programme.
The centre will undertake research with Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Sains Malaysia and the Rehda Institute to instil better industry practices, certification and awareness in the construction industry.
“We don’t want to build bridges that have no resilience and collapse when there is a flood.
“Our short-term goal is to position Malaysia as a regional leader in sustainability in construction and to raise the perception of sustainability in construction here,” he said.
Fadillah witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between Cream chairman Tan Sri Dr Ahmad Tajuddin Ali and academics from the four universities and research institutes which will be a part of the new centre.
By NICHOLAS CHENG The Star/ANN
China’s financial technology (fintech) firms continue to lead globally, securing four positions in the top five in a recent industrial ranking.
Alibaba’s third-party payment platform Ant Financial tops the global ranking for the 100 best performing fintech companies, with micro-loan firm Qudian, wealth management company Lufax and insurance enterprise Zhong An entering the top five, according to a report by international accounting firm KPMG and investment firm H2 Ventures.
The firms are rated according to their capital raising volume and ratio, geographic and sector diversity, and consumer and marketplace traction.
“It is no surprise to see four Chinese companies in the top five. Fintech in China has seen rapid development, fuelled by the demand to address domestic needs,” said James McKeogh, Partner with KPMG China. “It is likely that we will see more of these players move to the international markets in the future.”
A total of eight Chinese fintech companies are on the list, a remarkable rise from just one company in the top 100 in the 2014 ranking.
“We have seen significant investment in China’s fintech sector in recent years, and an increasing appetite for innovative products, supported by the rapid pace of technology development,” according to Raymond Cheong, another KPMG China Partner.
China pledged in October to improve supervision in online finance, including peer-to-peer platforms, to contain risks, improve competitiveness and increase risk awareness.
Companies related to lending and insurance are gaining larger share in the full Fintech 100 list, while the creation of value in new sub-sectors such as regulatory technology as well as data and analytics make the fintech sector more diverse, according to the report.
The commercialization of rocket launches will boost the industry by bringing space tourism income and attracting private investment, experts said.
ChinaRocket Co. Ltd, a subsidiary of China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, the country’s largest developer of ballistic missiles and carrier rockets, was established on Wednesday, marking the commercialization of China’s space industry, the Xinhua News Agency reported.
“Chinese commercial space enterprises are lagging behind the global market due to lack of complete production chain in the commercial space industry and experience in commercial space activities like space tourism,” Li Hong, president of the academy, said at a press conference on Wednesday.
“Commercializing rocket launches will help develop the industry as many private companies will be interested in the sector,” Jiao Weixin, a professor at the School of Earth and Space Science of Peking University, told the Global Times on Thursday.
Jiao said the establishment of the company signals that State-controlled space industry is stepping into ordinary people’s daily life.
Han Qingping, president of ChinaRocket, said at the press conference that the company would focus on keeping the cost 30 percent lower than an average launch through the “standardization of the interface between satellite and rocket as well as advance preparation.”
According to Han, China will develop reusable sub-orbital vehicles in five to 10 years.
Han said the company will launch individual space travel services like “space taxi, free space ride and space shuttle bus” to promote the space economy.
According to Xinhua, ChinaRocket’s individual space travel package would cost about $200,000.
Huang Jun, a professor at the School of Aeronautic Science and Engineering at Beihang University, said that “many countries have been studying the reusability of carrier devices and aircraft, but it will take at least one to two decades before visitors can afford a space trip.”
The market value of commercial space in China would reach 30 billion yuan ($4.6 billion) annually by 2020, Xinhua reported, citing Hu Shengyun, a senior rocket engineer at China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp.
By Leng Shumei Global Times
China’s cold atomic clock is the most precise time-keeping device ever built. The clock only weighs a couple kilograms and could fit comfortably in the boot of a car. And because it is powered by atoms, it won’t have to be reset for another 30 million years.
China’s cold atomic clock is the most precise time-keeping device ever built. The clock only weighs a couple kilograms and could fit comfortably in the boot of a car. And because it is powered by atoms, it won’t have to be reset for another 30 million years.
Cold atomic clocks are the most accurate clocks in the world. Low-frequency lasers lower their internal temperatures to 273 degrees centigrade below zero, and slow down the movement of atoms inside. Slow-moving atoms decrease the likelihood of counting errors, and result in a more accurate counting of time.
“The frequency of the atom will not change. It is the same wherever it is. Unlike in mechanical clocks and electric clocks, atomic clocks aren’t drastically affected by their surrounding environment. We are going to operate the most accurate cold atomic clock in space. It is the first time ever, not only for our country, but also for the world,” Liu Liang, chief designer of Shanghai Institute of Optics and Fine Mechanics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, said.
Rubidium atoms count time inside China’s cold atomic clock. Atoms are usually affected by gravity, but the low level of gravity in space will weaken the earth’s gravitational pull and increase the accuracy of China’s cold atomic clock.
“Atoms usually fall because of gravity, making it difficult to keep track of time for a long time. But up in space, we don’t have that problem,” Liu said.
The launch of Tiangong-2 marks China’s transition from a follower in space research, to a pioneer. China’s cold atomic clock project is a good example of that transition.
“The initial plan was brought up in 2006. We have made great efforts over the past ten years. We have been through a lot… and we have been successful” Liu said.
It took years of scientific work to get China’s cold atomic clock into space. Researchers are now devising ways how to use the clock to benefit people down on earth.
Rendez-vous By Wang Xiaoying https://youtu.be/35B4d_3qCd0 Shenzhou-11 docks with Tiangong-2 space station …