Dismayed over the exorbitant engineering consultancy fees, 4 times higher !


GEORGE TOWN: Barisan Nasional leaders have criticised the Penang Government for allegedly over-paying, by four times, the detailed design fees of three road projects.

“Construction is not a new industry. Many people are puzzled by the exorbitant consultancy fees,” said Penang MCA secretary Tang Heap Seng in a press statement yesterday.

He said the Board of Engineers Malaysia (BEM) devised a standardised gazetted scale of fees for professional engineering consultancy in accordance with Section 4(1)(d) of the Registration of Engineers Act 1967 (Act 138), and it was highly irregular to deviate from it.

Yesterday, it was reported that Barisan’s strategic communication team sought the professional opinion of BEM on the costing of the three paired roads.

The board was said to have replied that the RM177mil in detailed design costs was four times higher than the maximum allowed under the gazetted scale of fees, which the board calculated to be RM41mil.

The three roads are from Teluk Bahang to Tanjung Bungah, Air Itam to Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway and Gurney Drive to the expressway. They are meant to be a traffic dispersal system for the proposed Penang Undersea Tunnel.

Penang MCA Youth chief Datuk Michael Lee Beng Seng also issued a statement, pointing out that the alleged overpaid amount of RM136mil was more than the reported RM100mil the state spent on flood mitigation in the last eight years.

“We are shocked that the Penang government has put the well-being and safety of the rakyat behind the interests of consultants and contractors.”

Gerakan vice-president Datuk Dr Dominic Lau highlighted that affordable housing, flash floods and landslides were issues that concerned Penangites.

On Tuesday, Barisan strategic communications director Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan announced that he was giving the Penang Government a week to explain BEM’s findings, failing which the matter would be referred to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

When asked to comment, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng replied: “Another day.” – The Star

 
Related Links

Chow: No truth to bloated fee claim – Nation | The Star Online

Penang has one week to explain tunnel consultancy fee: Rahman …

Penang govt overpaid undersea tunnel consultation fees by 400 pct …

‘Did Penang govt overpay tunnel consultants by 400%?’ | Berita Daily

Disputes spill into the open

Disputes spill into the open

Our permanent forest reserves left untouched, says Guan Eng – Nation

 

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Singapore’s PM Lee family feud


A feud between the children of Singapore’s late founder Lee Kuan Yew has intensified. The family dispute first became public last year on the anniversary of Mr Lee’s death, when the prime minister Lee Hsien Loong’s sister, Lee Wei Ling, accused him of exploiting the late leader’s legacy for personal gain.

This time, Lee Wei Ling and another brother have publicly accused Prime Minister Lee of disobeying their father’s last wishes

 Is Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong Dishonest?! 

 

 

 

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PETALING JAYA: A public spat between the late Lee Kuan Yew’s children has shattered the usually serene political landscape in Sin…

Singapore PM Lee family feud explodes into open, gets more heated


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PETALING JAYA: A public spat between the late Lee Kuan Yew’s children has shattered the usually serene political landscape in Singapore, with two siblings accusing their brother Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of abusing his powers.

Kuan Yew’s daughter Dr Lee Wei Ling and son Lee Hsien Yang accused their big brother Hsien Loong of, well, acting like “Big Brother”, with Hsien Yang going so far as to say he was fleeing the country.

“We are concerned that the system has few checks and balances to prevent the abuse of government.

“We feel big brother omnipresent. We fear the use of the organs of state against us and Hsien Yang’s wife, Suet Fern,” the two said in a six-page statement that was also posted on Facebook early yesterday morning.

Hsien Yang’s son, Li Shengwu, said the situation had become so bad that the family planned to relocate overseas.

“In the last few years, my immediate family has become increasingly worried about the lack of checks on abuse of power.

“The situation is now such that my parents have made plans to relocate to another country, a painful decision that they have not made lightly,” he said on Facebook.

Wei Ling and Hsien Yang also accused their brother of trying to establish a political dynasty and wanting to “milk” their father’s legacy.

They said Hsien Loong and his wife Ho Ching – the CEO of state investor Temasek Holdings – harboured political ambitions for their son Li Hongyi, who works at government agency GovTech Singapore.

The heart of the matter seems to be the siblings’ unhappiness that Hsien Loong was not following their father’s wishes in demolishing the family home at 38 Oxley Road.

Before he passed away in March 2015, Kuan Yew had already expressed his desire that the house he moved into and lived in since 1945 be demolished because he did not want it becoming a “political shrine”.

That desire was part of his last will and testament, but the current prime minister has declined to follow through.

His siblings have attributed this refusal to Hsien Loong’s political ambition.

“Indeed, Hsien Loong and Ho Ching expressed plans to move with their family into the house as soon as possible after Kuan Yew’s passing,” said Wei Ling and Hsien Yang.

“This move would have strengthened Hsien Loong’s inherited mandate for himself and his family.

“Moreover, even if Hsien Loong did not live at 38 Oxley Road, the preservation of the house would enhance his political capital,” they said.

Hsien Loong, who is travelling overseas with his family, said he was disappointed and saddened by his siblings for “publicising private family matters”.

“I am deeply saddened by the unfortunate allegations that they have made.

“Ho Ching and I deny these allegations, especially the absurd claim that I have political ambitions for my son.

“Since my father’s passing in March 2015, as the eldest son I have tried my best to resolve the issues among us within the family, out of respect for our parents.

“My siblings’ statement has hurt our father’s legacy,” Hsien Loong said in a statement posted on Facebook.

Singaporeans seem divided on the matter.

On Hsien Yang’s Facebook page, he was greeted by more criticism than praise, with some accusing him of being the one who had tainted his father’s legacy.

“A family feud that is aired so openly is a sad thing to see,” said Dolpzy Do.

On Hsien Loong’s Facebook, it was generally the opposite.

Pointing out that Kuan Yew had passed away over two years ago, Jacq Low said, “His last will should have been settled by now.”

While such a public spat is rare in Singapore, it is not unprecedented. Last year, as the island-republic commemorated the first anniversary of Kuan Yew’s death, Wei Ling went public with similar concerns.

In a family feud that played out on Facebook, she said the elaborate events were not what her father would have wanted, and that he would have cringed at such “hero worship”.

Wei Ling, a neurosurgeon, also accused Hsien Loong of abusing his power and using the anniversary to try and establish a political dynasty.

Hsien Loong replied via Facebook, saying he was “deeply saddened” by the accusations, describing them as “completely untrue”.

Source: The Star

 

PM Lee’s family feud becomes more heated

 

PETALING JAYA: The public spat between Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (pic) and his siblings became more heated Thursday, with the younger brother accusing the older of not being truthful.

The two younger children of Singapore’s founder and longest-serving premier Lee Kuan Yew, Dr Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang, took to Facebook to air their grievances.

Hsien Yang accused his brother of not being truthful over the issue of their father’s wish to have the family home demolished.

Before he passed away in March, 2015, Lee Kuan Yew had expressed his desire that the house at 38 Oxley Road be demolished because he did not want it becoming a “political shrine.”

He had made that part of his last will and testament.

In a Facebook post, Hsien Yang compared what he said were Hsien Loong’s statements in public and those in private.

Hsien Yang said that despite the prime minister saying in public that the decision to demolish the house did not need to be taken immediately, a “secret committee” of ministers was set up to explore and make recommendations.

When Lee Kuan Yew’s will was recognised as final and legally binding, Hsien Loong did not mount a legal challenge.

However, he privately wrote to the above committee to say that there was no evidence their father knew that the demolition clause “had been reinstated into the last will,” the younger brother alleged.

Hsien Yang also claimed that the prime minister even swore this under oath in a statutory declaration.

Finally, while saying in public that he hoped the government would respect their father’s wish to have the house demolished, Hsien Loong told the committee in private that Lee Kuan Yew would have “accepted any decision to preserve it.”

“The will is final and binding. We have no confidence in Lee Hsien Loong or his secret committee,” Hsien Yang said in his Facebook post.

The tiff between Lee Kuan Yew’s children, simmering since their father’s death, had its lid blown open on Wednesday when the two younger siblings posted an explosive six-page statement saying that they had lost confidence in their elder brother.

Wei Ling and Hsien Yang also accused Hsien Loong of using the state machinery against them.

“We fear the use of the organs of state against us and Hsien Yang’s wife, Suet Fern,” they said.

Hsien Yang, chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, said it had got so bad that he and his family intended to move out of the country.

Wei Ling and Hsien Yang also accused their older sibling of trying to establish a political dynasty and wanting to “milk” their father’s legacy.

They said Hsien Loong and his wife Ho Ching – the chief executive officer of state investor Temasek Holdings – harboured political ambitions for their son Li Hongyi.

In an immediate response on Wednesday, Hsien Loong said he was “deeply saddened by the unfortunate allegations that they have made.”

“Ho Ching and I deny these allegations, especially the absurd claim that I have political ambitions for my son,” he said, adding that he was disappointed in his siblings for publicising private family matters.

However, in a Facebook post on Thursday, his sister Wei Ling said she and her brother would not have issued a public statement if the dispute over their late father’s house was “merely a family affair”.

Source: The Star/ANN

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PM Lee releases summary of statutory declarations over Oxley Road house

Lee Hsien Loong’s son says he is not interested in politics

Dispute with Lee Hsien Loong more than a family affair, says sister

Lee Suet Fern says she and husband Lee Hsien Yang are in process of ‘preparing to leave Singapore’

 

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Boost for Bayan Lepas: Global biz hub for Penang


Hi-tech facility aims at rejuvenating economy in Bayan Lepas

 

An artist’s impression of the proposed GBS By The Sea project in Bayan Lepas.

Penang Development Corporation (PDC) general manager Datuk Rosli Jaafar said the RM200mil project dubbed ‘GBS By The Sea’ would be part of a rejuvenation exercise for the Bayan Lepas industrial area.Hi-tech facility aims at rejuvenating economy in Bayan Lepas

“The project, which will be located beside the Motorola factory, will also be used as a catalyst to rejuvenate the economy.

“Under the first phase, 2.7ha of space will be developed and will feature a nine-storey seafont building which will house the Multimedia Super Corridor Malaysia Cybercentre,” he said after announcing the project in Komtar on Tuesday.

Rosli added that there would be a multi-storey 2,500-bay car park complex, retail and F&B outlets, and also an integrated centre for IT and R&D activities.

“The futuristic hub will also have a central meeting place for people to meet up.

“It will also harness natural sunlight as lighting, making it an environment-friendly development.

“When completed in 2020, the project will create some 3,000 jobs,” he said.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who was present, said the project would provide higher value jobs in the manufacturing industry through expansion and diversification of the GBS business.

“Penang aims to be part of the Industry 4.0 Transformation, which revolves around big data analytics, e-commerce, crowdsourcing, cloud computing and the Internet of Things.

“GBS By The Sea is expected to attract many key international players into the state,” he said.

Lim added that according to a study by Outsourcing Malaysia, the country’s GBS sector is expected to see a compounded annual growth rate of 10% to 15% over the next three years.

Global biz hub for Penang 

 

\Part of the buildings to be built at the GBS centre.

PENANG has identified a 72.8ha site in Bayan Lepas to be turned into a Global Business Services (GBS) centre.

Penang Development Corporation (PDC) general manager Datuk Rosli Jaafar said the RM200mil project dubbed ‘GBS By The Sea’ would be part of a rejuvenation exercise for the Bayan Lepas industrial area.

“The project, which will be located beside the Motorola factory, will also be used as a catalyst to rejuvenate the economy.

“Under the first phase, 2.7ha of space will be developed and will feature a nine-storey seafont building which will house the Multimedia Super Corridor Malaysia Cybercentre,” he said after announcing the project in Komtar on Tuesday.

Rosli added that there would be a multi-storey 2,500-bay car park complex, retail and F&B outlets, and also an integrated centre for IT and R&D activities.

“The futuristic hub will also have a central meeting place for people to meet up.

“It will also harness natural sunlight as lighting, making it an environment-friendly development.

“When completed in 2020, the project will create some 3,000 jobs,” he said.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who was present, said the project would provide higher value jobs in the manufacturing industry through expansion and diversification of the GBS business.

“Penang aims to be part of the Industry 4.0 Transformation, which revolves around big data analytics, e-commerce, crowdsourcing, cloud computing and the Internet of Things.

“GBS By The Sea is expected to attract many key international players into the state,” he said.

Lim added that according to a study by Outsourcing Malaysia, the country’s GBS sector is expected to see a compounded annual growth rate of 10% to 15% over the next three years.

Also present were Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon, investPenang general manager Loo Lee Lian and other state exco members.

Penang homes priced beyond reach of most youths 

 

More than 90% of respondents surveyed hope to own property but only half believe that it is possible.

THE majority of youths in Penang have no choice but to rent due to high property prices.

Most (73.2%) are staying in a property owned by a family member or a relative and many (93.7%) are hoping to own a house within the next five years.

These are some of the findings of an opinion poll carried out by the state government on a sample group of 606 youths, aged 18 to 29.

Penang Institute senior analyst Yeong Pey Jung (pic) said an overwhelming 90.2% of respondents found it difficult to purchase property in Penang while 43.4% revealed that it was not difficult to rent a property here.

“In looking at the responses on perception towards property prices, 91.8% found prices in Penang to be considerably expensive while 69.3% are of the opinion that affordable housing in Penang is not affordable.

“If we look into the 24 to 29 age group, who have a higher purchasing power, 81.7% conclude that affordable housing is unaffordable. This is a phenomenon observed throughout Malaysia especially in urban areas,” she told a press conference on the outcome of the Penang youth survey in Komtar on Tuesday.

Yeong added that more than 90% of respondents hoped to own property but only half of them believe that it is possible.

“The telephone survey, which was conducted in February this year, was to find out how Penang youths feel towards social, economic and political concerns.”

The survey also showed that over 70% of youths involved in community projects were not interested in taking up leadership roles.

They also expressed a general disinterest in politics.

In terms of health, more than half of youths engaged in regular exercise.

About 56.4% found difficulty in gaining employment, a sentiment shared by their peers and immediate social circle.

Penang Youth and Sports, Women, Family and Community Development Committee chairman Chong Eng said the survey was an initiative towards the Penang Youth Development Blueprint.

“The blueprint will be inclusive and function as a guide to encourage social upward mobility and enhance the youths’ development socially, economically and politically.”

The next phase is to conduct a focus group discussion and in-depth interviews with all sectors of the youth community.

Sources: The Star/ANN



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Mind your words, please!


The colour orange: Oren refers to the orange colour of the T-shirts that those arrested by the MACC have to wear when they are brought to court.

 

THE Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has been in the news almost daily with its arrests of politicians and businessmen, many carrying the Tan Sri and Datuk Seri titles.

This has become the subject of conversation among Malaysians.

To help foreigners, especially those doing business here in Malaysia, below is a compilation of terms that are often used to denote corrupt practices. To the clueless, these words could easily be misunderstood.

Worse, it could land unsuspecting expatriates in serious trouble with the law, especially with the MACC, if they use these seemingly innocent terms without realising their implications.

Here’s a list of everyday words and how they are used.

Jalan – this is a Bahasa Malaysia word for “road”. On the surface, it sounds simple and straightforward. Every road sign begins, mostly, with this word to denote, well, road. If only it was that simple. In reality, it could be the beginning of a corrupt offer.

If someone asks you: “You got jalan ah?” It doesn’t mean seeking assistance for a road direction. In the Malaysian context, it probably means “is there a way to resolve a complicated situation?” Some may argue the word need not necessarily be “illegal” as it could also mean finding a clever way out of a problem.

Kabel – the Malay word for “cable”. Cables are strong, thick wires, which are usually twisted or braided together. Well, in Malaysia, it also means someone in position – a very powerful person, often a politician in high office, or a senior government officer, who is able to help secure a big contract or deal. So, if someone asks whether “you have kabel?” you shouldn’t look puzzled or confused.

It simply means you need to have the support of an influential figure who is as strong as a cable. It’s no longer good enough to “pull strings” but you must be able to “pull cable” for your plans to get off.

Lubang – it literally means a hole. Most Malaysians grumble about lubang or the numerous pot holes along our badly maintained roads. The vulgar ones uses this word with a sexual connotation.

But in the more sleazy world of bribery, lubang means an opportunity, usually an illegal way, to make money. It has nothing to do with holes, as the word suggests.

Kau tim – this is a Cantonese word, which has actually become a Malaysian word, used by all races. It means finished, done or resolved. As simple as that.

But it is also a way of expressing agreement, or to settle a problem with bribery. For example, if you are stopped by a traffic cop for a traffic offence, you may say “boleh kau tim ah?” or the policeman may suggest “macam mana mau selesai, mau kau tim kah?

Lu tak mau kau tim, mesti susah punya. Nanti kena pi balai, pi court.” (If you do not wish to settle, it can be difficult. You may have to go to the police station or even the court.)

Ta pau – I always thought that this Chinese word means to pack food or a take-away, but it has come to mean a greedy corrupt person who wants to take away the entire loot all for himself without sharing with anyone, as in “he wants to ta pau everything, how can? So greedy one.”

So, no expatriate who has just arrived in town should go around telling everyone that he wants to “ta pau” everything he can lay his hands on. He can be sure of getting strange, hostile stares.

Selesai – it means to end or the end. It could be the end of a movie, the end of a meal or the end of a relationship. It’s a really simple word but in the Malaysian context of corruption, it means “how to resolve this?” or “it has been settled.”

Usually, the act of corruption will begin with a simple question – “So, macam mana mau selesai?” or “how do we settle this?”. For sure, it won’t be a challenge to a fight or a gentlemanly end to a problem with a handshake. Don’t be stupid. It’s an invitation to begin negotiation for, errr, a bribe.

The English version is also often used, as in “can settle ah?”

Lesen kopi – This has to be the Corruption 101 lesson for our young drivers. It is the first step into the world of corruption in Malaysia. Nobody wants to admit it but going by hearsay and unsubstantiated remarks, many Malaysians taking their driving test believe that they need to bribe the examiner in order to pass the very first time. Lesen kopi means bribing to get a driving licence.

So, they earn what is known as “lesen kopi” or licences obtained via corrupt ways, or duit kopi. Small gratification for “coffee” for the testers. Coffee, not tea. Strangely, there is no such term despite our fondness for teh tarik.

It may sound terribly confusing to tea drinking foreigners but please don’t think that this is the reason why so many Malaysians kill themselves or each other on our roads.

Ikan bilis – it refers to anchovies, those tiny fish, usually fried, found in our national food, the nasi lemak. But it also means small fry. So when low-ranking government officers are arrested for corruption, the MACC is often criticised for just going after the ikan bilis and not the bigwigs, known as sharks in the Malaysian context.

Makan duitMakan essentially means to eat. There’s no way, literally, that a person can eat a ringgit note. But it is synonymous with taking a bribe. It may be confusing to a foreigner as it may seem impossible to eat stacks of ringgit notes but this is Malaysia. We are versatile as well as adaptive. Many people will tell foreigners that they are able to, well, makan duit. Can one, who say cannot?

Oren – It’s not orange juice. It refers to the colour of the round-collared T-shirts that those arrested by the MACC have to wear.

This is the dreaded colour for all suspects, in handcuffs, being led to court in full view of the press.

You can be in red or yellow but orange is a no-no. The new term now is “jangan oren” or “don’t be in orange.”

On The Beat by Wong Chun Wai, The Star

Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various capacities and roles. He is now the group’s managing director/chief executive officer and formerly the group chief editor.

On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.

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The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) needs strong finishing


Biggest seizure: A case that caught the attention of the nation was the seizure of cash, jewellery and other expensive items from the homes of two former top Sabah Water Department officials in October last year.

ONE need not go far to see how effective the Government can be when dealing with highly problematic issues involving people who blatantly do not comply with the rules.

After the National Higher Education Fund Corp (PTPTN) issued a warning to loan defaulters that they would be blacklisted and may not be able to travel abroad, the repayment of their loans increased. There is almost a 300% jump in withdrawals from the Employees Provident Fund’s (EPF) account for education purposes – rising from RM578mil in 2015 to RM1.48bil last year.

According to officials from the EPF, the bulk of the money withdrawn has been channelled toward the repayment of loans owed to PTPTN.

Clearly, the prospects of being blacklisted – a record that will remain forever – and the possibility of being stopped at the airport before leaving overseas for a holiday are reasons enough for them to repay their loans.

The lackadaisical attitude of those who have taken student loans is just another sign of apathy. The former students who are now young working adults know very well that they have an obligation to repay the loans.

However, they do not bother to do so until measures are put in place to hit them hard where it matters.

On a larger scale, corruption is a big problem in Malaysia. It is a major problem that has reached a state where most companies set aside a certain amount to “grease” key people to get jobs.

Everybody knows the danger of getting caught but the practice continues. Towards this end, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has, in recent months, been on overdrive to nab those suspected of corrupt activities.

But has the message that the MACC means business been drilled down?

In South Korea, former president Park Geun-hye was detained on April 1 ahead of her trial. Prosecutors said the allegations against her were grave and the other suspects in the case, including her confidante Choi Soon-sil and Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong, have already been arrested.

In that country, it’s clear that corruption will not be tolerated. Those being investigated will be put behind bars even before the trial starts.

In the last few months, a regular feature in newspapers is the string of high-profile personalities who have been arrested for allegations involving bribery or money laundering.

They include politicians, civil servants, heads of government-linked funds and businessmen. Those who solicit bribes and the parties that give the money or even facilitate bribery have been arrested and remanded.

Some of them have been charged before being let off on bail.

Pictures of the persons involved are all over the newspapers and social media. In some cases, names are mentioned.

The “shaming and naming” of the people hauled up and being investigated is damaging. It is the talk of the town – especially among the private-sector businessmen.

However, there are some reservations on whether the efforts by the MACC would pay off.

At the end of the day, what would matter is seeing how many get prosecuted successfully; how many are handed down custodial sentences.

And most importantly, the speed in which these cases are disposed of by the courts.

For now, most of these MACC cases are already being filed in court and some have been charged. But the trial proper is a process that is likely to take a long time.

And the danger is the momentum will slow down when there is no speedy end to the cases.

There is also the issue of managing perception when there are delays in the outcome.

For instance, two senior officials of the Federal Land development Authority (Felda) were charged with criminal breach of trust involving RM47.6mil for a sturgeon-breeding project in March this year. The offences were allegedly committed between January and July 2014. The hearing will probably start in a few months.

In the meantime, Felda continues to fight the battle to improve its perception on improving governance and returns on its investments.

The share price of Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd is a far cry from the valuations it fetched during its listing in 2012. The returns from the RM2bil that Felda has invested in Felda Investment Corp is nothing much to shout about.

One case that has caught the attention of the nation was the seizure of cash, jewellery and other expensive items from the homes of two former top Sabah Water Department officials in October last year.

According to reports, it took 30 MACC officers and 15 hours to count the cash of more than RM53mil that was seized.

The display of the stacks of bank notes seized from the homes is still an image that is popular on social media. The case, touted as the nation’s biggest corruption case involving RM61.4mil in cash and other assets, has been fixed for hearing in July and August this year. According to reports, some 200 witnesses will be called for the case.

When the case will be concluded is anyone’s guess. In the meantime, it leaves many wondering if the MACC would be successful in its efforts.

Corruption affects the country as a whole. It is estimated that there is a leakage of about 20% of the annual spending for projects and procurement. For instance, the Federal Government development expenditure for 2016 was about RM50bil and 20% is easily RM10bil.

Larger sums are budgeted for government agencies that are not part of the Federal Government balance sheet. This includes the likes of Mass Rapid Transit Corp Sdn Bhd that handles the rail infrastructure projects running into 10s of billions of ringgit. The government-linked companies are another set of entities with big budgets.

What the MACC needs now is a speedy end to such high-profile cases.

Whether the prosecution is successful or otherwise, a quick closure to such cases will help MACC instil public confidence in it. A strong finish to the investigations is much needed.

By M.Shanmugam The Star

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Johor’s biggest corruption cases: land and housing scandal, slapped with 33 counts of graft


TWO IN COURT: Abd Latif (right) being brought to the Johor Baru Sessions Court by anti-graft officers. He is alleged to have abetted property consultant Amir Shariffuddin Abd Raud (left) in the land development scandal.

After weeks of investigation, state executive councillor Datuk Abd Latif Bandi is finally brought to court to face 33 counts of graft. The land and housing scandal – one of Johor’s biggest corruption cases – is however set to widen as graft busters warn of more suspects to be charged soon.


MACC expected to haul up more people in land and housing scandal

JOHOR BARU: One of the state’s largest corruption scandals is about to get bigger as more people are expected to be hauled up to court in the coming weeks.

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki said they might be charged with the case involving Johor executive councillor Datuk Abd Latif Bandi either this month or next.

Among those to be charged, he said, were those who had been arrested previously.

However, he declined to reveal their names so as not to jeopardise MACC’s investigation, saying that no VIPs were involved.

“We are in the midst of completing our probe with the Deputy Public Prosecutor before charging them in court soon,” he told reporters after meeting MACC investigation director Datuk Simi Abd Ghani and Johor MACC director Datuk Azmi Alias here yesterday.

Azam said it was also possible for Abd Latif, who was jointly accused with property consultant Amir Shariffuddin Abd Raud of committing 33 counts of graft yesterday, to face another round of charges then.

It was reported that eight suspects, including Abd Latiff ’s eldest son as well as his special officer, were nabbed by the MACC on Feb 24.

Anti-graft officers detained them after sifting through stacks of documents seized from the state government and developers.

They also seized luxury goods, including 21 cars such as Bentley, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, five high-powered motorcycles and 150 handbags.

On its probe into the purchase of real estate in Australia by Mara Incorporated Sdn Bhd, Azam said MACC called up 24 witnesses and visited seven premises, including a law firm, the offices of both Mara Inc and an appraiser, and their associates.

“All related documents have also been seized. We have gathered more new information, and it is a continuous investigation from the previous case in 2015,” he said.

“We need more time to complete this case as it involves another country.

“We have put in a request under a mutual legal assistance with the Australian AttorneyGeneral’s office but have yet to receive any response.

“We will also prepare the documents to be sent to Australia,” he said.

MACC had previously recorded the state- ment of suspended Mara chairman Tan Sri Annuar Musa over the same investigation.

Annuar also handed over several documents relevant to the case.

The issue came to light after Australian newspaper The Age claimed that several senior Mara officials and a former politician had spent millions of Malaysian Government funds to buy an apartment block, known as Dudley International House, in Melbourne

Azam said his officers were also in the midst of preparing a report into alleged match fixing by football players from the Malaysian Indian Sports Council-Malaysia Indian Football Association.

“We expect this case to be completed within two to three weeks after we hand over the report to the deputy public prosecutor for charging.

Source:The Star headline news

Slapped with 33 counts of graft

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JOHOR BARU: State executive councillor Datuk Abd Latif Bandi has been charged in the Sessions Court here with 33 counts of graft, the earliest of which stretches back to just six months after he assumed office.

TWO IN COURT: Abd Latif (above) being brought to the Johor Baru Sessions Court by anti-graft officers. He is alleged to have abetted property consultant Amir Shariffuddin Abd Raud (below) in the land development scandal.

Abd Latif, 51, was sworn in to his post as Johor Housing and Local Government Committee chairman in 2013 and according to the list of charges, he allegedly abetted property consultant Amir Shariffuddin Abd Raud on Nov 13 that same year to convert bumiputra lots into non-bumiputra lots.

Yesterday, the court interpreter took about 15 minutes to read the list of charges to each of the accused in the case, considered one of the biggest corruption scandals in the state.

In total, Abd Latif is said to have abetted Amir, 44, to convert 1,480 houses.

He is also accused of helping to reduce the quantum of payment that developers had to contribute towards the Johor Housing Fund for converting these lots.

The offences, the last of which supposedly took place on Sept 13, 2016, involved payments of between RM100,000 and RM3.7mil.

Totalling some RM30.3mil, this involved development projects in Kota Masai, Tebrau, Kulai, Kempas, Nusajaya and Johor Baru.

Among the converted lots were apartments, double-storey terrace homes, cluster houses, cluster industrial lots, semi-Ds and bungalows.

Abd Latif was charged under Section 28 (1) (c) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act for abetment, which was read together with Section 16 (a)(B) for accepting bribes.

Amir was charged with 33 counts under Section 16 (a)(B) for accepting bribes for himself and Abdul Latif.

Judge Mohd Fauzi Mohd Nasir set bail at RM2mil in one surety for each of the accused and ordered their passports to be surrendered until the trial was over. He also fixed May 23 for mention.

At press time, only Amir posted bail while Abd Latif, who was unable to raise the amount, was sent to the Ulu Choh detention centre.

Earlier, 15 minutes after Abd Latif and Amir were ushered into the packed courtroom, a defence lawyer stood up and asked for their “Lokap SPRM” orange T-shirts to be removed.

Both Abd Latif, who took time to hug and shake the hands of several people, and Amir then changed into long-sleeved shirts.

Abd Latif was represented by a six-man legal team led by Datuk Hasnal Rezua Merican while two lawyers, headed by Azrul Zulkifli Stork, stood for Amir.

The case was prosecuted by MACC director Datuk Masri Mohd Daud, with assistance from Raja Amir Nasruddin.

Source: The Star by Nelson Benjamin and Norbaiti phaharoradzi

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