Citizens’ frustrations, Malaysian youths worry about future; MCA dares to face criticism


Citizen Liow’ plays dual role in National Day video
Myself and I: Citizen Liow (left) comes face-to-face with the politician in ‘Citizens’ in conjunction with National Day.

Malaysia is all about us – On The Beat

‘Citizen Liow’ vents his frustration in short film

KUALA LUMPUR: It is Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai as we have never seen him before – shabby, dispirited and a little rude.

Without his signature full-rim spectacles, Liow, playing an ordinary citizen in a video with a poignant but powerful message, vents his spleen about the country’s current mood.

From the hurtful balik tongsan comment to corrupt practices, Citizen Liow is determined to get his frustrations off his chest.

He even throws a fistful of sweets at a guest in his home. The guest is also played by Liow, who essentially portrays his everyday role of a politician.

The on-screen sparring between both Liows is a creative, yet brutally frank, account of the general sentiments of the local Chinese community.

It is almost painful to watch the heated encounter, but that is exactly why the six minute-long video Citizens is so compelling.

Producers Pete Teo and Liew Seng Tat did not attempt to paint a rosy and glowing picture even though the clip was meant for the upcoming National Day celebrations.

The video boldly addresses the grievances and fears of the Chinese community in Malaysia, which means there will inevitably be “anger, helplessness and conflict”, as Teo explained on his Facebook.

Liow, in his real life as Transport Minister, Bentong MP and especially MCA president, must have often been at the receiving end of the kind of harsh comments hurled by “Citizen Liow” in the clip.

“Politicians only know how to talk!” is perhaps the most common sweeping statement that disregards the efforts and contributions of community and government leaders. In the video, Liow the politician admits there are shortcomings.

The seasoned politician says: “I can find excuses and try to defend ourselves by saying that circumstances do not work in our favour, but no, I won’t do that.”

“We didn’t say there weren’t mistakes. We did not handle many things well, but it is not easy to rule a country.”

“We have seen many politicians from both sides dwelling on the negatives when support for them fades. This alienates the people even further,” he said.

With the National Day just days away, the video is a timely reminder to those with political ambitions to reflect on their vision for the country.

Similarly, the public can look back at the past 60 years of the country’s development, from a mining and agricultural-based economy to today’s multi-sector economy anchored in manufacturing and services.

Of course, there will always be challenges and sacrifices as we progress. Good governance is a must if we are to continue on that path of growth and prosperity.

But as Citizens reminds us, it is important not to lose hope. We must believe that our founding father Tunku Abdul Rahman’s vision of Malaysia will come true.

At the end of the video, “Citizen Liow” has a change of heart. He quietly retrieves the Jalur Gemilang from storage and displays it on his balcony, with his real-life wife Datin Seri Lee Sun Loo at his side.

When met by reporters yesterday, Liow was visibly pleased with how the video has turned out. He said the message he wanted to send through the video was for Malaysians to unite and work together to make the country a progressive nation.

“We love this nation. We are proud to be Malaysians and we are working hard to make this country a stronger nation. That’s the aspiration and message we want to send out,” he said.

By Tho Xin Yi The Star/ANN

‘Youths worry about future, not politics’

Future wave: Liow and Chong (second from left) sharing a light moment with students after the TN50 DialogueUTAR in the Sungai Long Campus.

CHERAS: Youths are more concerned about their future than politics. This is the feedback gathered during the recent TN50 dialogues with students from several universities, said MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

“However, I don’t think they are indifferent towards politics. They are aware of issues.

“For instance, they know that this is about TN50 and about a future that they want,” Liow said after attending a TN50 Dialogue @UTAR with 700 students at UTAR Sungai Long Campus here yesterday.

He cited education and health issues, including the ability to earn a decent living, as some of the aspirations raised by the students during the hour-long dialogue session.

Liow said it is crucial for youths to continue upholding the core value system practised by Barisan Nasional.

He added that Barisan’s core values such as consensus, mutual respect, unity, cooperation and harmony are shared by Malaysians.

“Barisan upholds values of consensus and mutual respect but DAP is sowing the seeds of hatred. The party is also sowing the seeds of anger towards the Government which is causing a split in our society,” he said.

Liow added that the Opposition lacked the core values and was now in a chaotic state.

There was a casual air about the dialogue session where students were asked by moderator MCA youth chief Datuk Chong Sin Woon to address Liow as “Ah Liow” and himself as “Ah Chong”.

Earlier during the dialogue, Chong warned students to be wary of fake news on social media.

“The reality is that most news on social media are fake.

“You should check the source and not blindly believe all that you read,” he said.

He also said that youths were more concerned about “bread and butter” issues rather that politics.

At another function, Liow said more skilled workers were needed as the country progresses.

“It is important for us to train more technical professionals. For MCA, we would like to expand VTAR Institute because of our significant growth in students from 100 to 700 in these few years.

“We will find the right place to expand VTAR and we hope to have more than 1,000 students here,” he told reporters after launching the PW2 wireman competency licence course at the institute in Setapak here yesterday.

VTAR is the vocational education arm of MCA.

Earlier during the function, VTAR CEO Tan Cheng Liang signed a memorandum of understanding with the Federation of Malaysian Electrical Appliances Dealers Association (Fomeda) president Gan Cheng Swee to run the PW2 programme. – The Star

‘Citizen Liow’ plays dual role in National Day video

国民 CITIZENS

A screengrab from the video short “Citizens”.

PETALING JAYA: You’re not seeing double – it really is Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai playing two roles in a National Day video by producers Pete Teo and Liew Seng Tat.

The six minute-long video short entitled Citizens was released on Monday in conjunction with the upcoming National Day celebrations.

In the video, he portrays himself in his everyday role as Transport Minister, having a no-holds-barred conversation with a citizen who has grouses about the way the country is run – a role also played by Liow.

Liow, the minister, is smartly dressed in a long-sleeved shirt and slacks, while “Citizen Liow” is dressed very casually, with his hair a little unkempt and wearing a grey T-shirt, without spectacles.

Teo, in a Facebook post on Friday, said the project took months to put together.

“Largely this was because the script required a Federal Minister who had the gumption to submit to what we wanted to shoot.

“We kept trying and eventually found our man,” he said.

Teo said they did not want to make a film that could be confused for a “tourism video.”

Citizens reflects the current mood of the country, especially the fears of the Chinese community.

“It would therefore have to contain anger, helplessness and conflict. Yet it must contain hope – for we are even now not without hope – and so the film should also unite us in hope across the political spectrum,” said Teo.

This is not Liow’s first film. He previously acted in other 15Malaysia and Hari Malaysia shorts, also produced by Teo.

“What is different this time is that while he was civilly treated as a cabinet minister before, he will be brutalised this time; and while he was stereotyped as a politician before, he is now a human being – filled with the same fears, regret, conflicts and hope as all of us,” said Teo, adding that he thought long and hard about the casting.

Also making an appearance in the film is Liow’s wife Datin Seri Lee Sun Loo.

Teo said that it took courage for Liow, who is MCA president, to act in the film especially since he and MCA “are deeply maligned in sections of the Chinese community”.

‘Citizens’ Liow trends at second spot

PETALING JAYA: As Pete Teo expected, his National Day video in which Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai plays two roles is gaining traction among Malaysians.

The six-minute clip Citizens clinched the second spot on YouTube’s Malaysian trending list as at yesterday afternoon. It had 127,766 views, trailing Taylor Swift’s new music video. The rest were content related to SEA Games.

In the video, Liow, 56, portrays himself as the Transport Minister having an honest conversation with a citizen, also played by Liow, who has grouses about the way the country is run.

Teo, who produced the video with Liew Seng Tat, was glad to see it attracting attention.

“We expect the video to do well, because we think it is a good video and it has something important to say that goes beyond party politics,” he told The Star.

Teo said there were twice as many likes as dislikes.

He applauded Liow for being able to rise above his persona as MCA president and act as an ordinary citizen.

The video was released on Monday in conjunction with National Day celebrations.

Meanwhile, Tan Sri Pheng Yin Huah said the video was “unpretentious and right to the point” and therefore, was well received by the community.

The Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Hua Zong) president said it rightly captured the country’s current situation.

“A main point stressed is that the situation warrants the need for us to listen to each other, consolidate our strengths, stay united and be loyal to our country.

“This is a way to overcome the challenges, instead of just venting our frustrations,” Pheng said.

Apart from acknowledging the people’s disappointments and empathising with them, he said Liow had been tirelessly reaching out to the community to guide and help them in whatever ways possible.

Pheng pointed out that Liow had to draw on the party’s strengths and his role in the Government to help the community effectively.

In conjunction with National Day, Pheng said it was timely for all Malaysians to reinforce respect, love and tolerance among themselves and for the country so as to move forward together.

‘Citizen’ producer all praise for Liow – Nation


PETALING JAYA: The producer of the National Day video titled Citizen says it was brave of Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai to come onboard a production which had an “edgy” script.

Saying he would absolutely cast the Transport Minister in such a role again, filmmaker Pete Teo (pic) brushed aside some of the adverse comments on the casting choice.

“We think he did a great job playing the dual role of minister and citizen.

“That his casting is controversial has nothing to do with the job he does.

“We hope Datuk Seri Liow’s contribution will at least be acknowledged in the good spirit that it was given,” Teo said when contacted.

Teo, who produced the clip with writer-director Liew Seng Tat, said they had expected some form of backlash as soon as they decided that the role would be best played by a real-life politician.

“The fact that we eventually cast a Barisan National politician is besides the point, really. If we had picked an Opposition politician, the situation would be the same, except the accusations would be from Barisan supporters.

“So in a way, it was a no-win for us unless we had cast an actor,” he pointed out.

According to Teo, the film would have lost immediacy if they had cast an actor to play the role.

“So the decision was made to cast a politician. In fact, our choices were more limited than that because the script ideally required a Federal Minister.

“This narrowed down the choice to only several people. In the end, Datuk Seri Liow agreed to play the role and we went with him,” he added.

Teo said through the film, he and Liew wanted to drive home the message that it was important not to lose hope and to stay united when the going got tough.

“As said in the film’s opening lines, the last decade or more have been tough for the country. Non-Malay communities, in particular have felt alienated, helpless and fearful.

“That is why we are getting such hyper-emotive response to a Merdeka PSA film promoting hope and unity featuring a serving Cabinet minister from the MCA.

It would be easy to dismiss these aggressive social media outbursts as rantings of opposition cybertroopers, but these are real people with real grievances,’’ he added.

Teo, a multiple award-winning singer-songwriter, also praised Liow for having the courage to be involved in a film with “brutally frank dialogue”.

“Many have ignored the fact that the minister explicitly said in the film that he doesn’t mind who citizens voted for as long as they let their conscience be their guide.

“This is a massively important statement. It underlines our film’s non-partisan credentials,” Teo said.

In the six-minute video, Liow portrays himself in his everyday role as Transport Minister, having a no-holds barred conversation with a citizen who has grouses about the way the country is run – a role also played by Liow.

The video clocked in more than 200,000 views in four days since it was uploaded on YouTube.

 

‘MCA dares to face criticisms’ , Liow: We understand the voices and feelings of the people

 

Liow chatting with China’s Ambassador to Malaysia Dr Huang Huikang.

KUALA LUMPUR: MCA understands the voices and feelings of the people and dares to face criticism, said Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

The party president said having understood the people’s grievances, MCA is committed to overcoming the problems.

“I must stress here that I am aware of the people’s opinions and feelings. Therefore, I am willing to face the reality as I know that is the only way for us to change for the better,” he said.

Liow, speaking at the Blossom Arts Festival Malaysia (BAFM) 2017 awards ceremony and closing at Wisma MCA last night, was responding to some of the responses towards his double role in “Citizens”, a National Day video.

In the clip produced by Pete Teo and Liew Seng Tat, Liow portrays himself as the Transport Minister having an honest conversation with a citizen, also played by Liow, who has grouses about the way the country is run.

Liow also explained that the video aimed at telling people to have faith in the country and never give up, besides showcasing the inner voices of a Cabinet minister and a layman.

Liow added that MCA is steadfast in performing its role in Barisan Nasional.

“We will continue to be the defender of the Federal Constitution, the corrector and the balancing force against hegemony.

“History would reveal that during critical moments, be it fighting for citizenship, persistency on multi-stream education, pushing for the establishment of National Economic Action Council or the recent movement against PAS’ Private Member’s Bill to amend Act 355, MCA has been consistent in playing its role in Barisan,” he said.

Meanwhile, MCA vice-president Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun said the next edition of BAFM would be put on hold pending the general election.

“My comrades and I, as well as MCA staff, must turn our full attention towards preparing for the coming general election,” Chew, who is also the Malaysian Chinese Culture and Arts Consultative Council chairman and BAFM organising chairman, said.

Big celebration: Drummers performing during the closing ceremony of the Blossom Arts Festival Malaysia at Wisma MCA. (Right) Liow chatting with China’s Ambassador to Malaysia Dr Huang Huikang.

She said BAFM has received the attention of foreign academicians.

Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Department of Cultural and Religious Studies, for instance, sent professors and students to observe the event, she added.

“If we persevere, we are confident of becoming a household name and a premier event among artists,” she said in her speech.

The month-long BAFM concluded yesterday. Also present at the event was China’s ambassador to Malaysia Dr Huang Huikang.

By Yimie Yong The Star Online

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Head to Bentong to refresh your lungs

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Corruption has no place in any culture


LATELY, we have been seeing many photographs and a lot of video footage of handcuffed men and women in orange T-shirts bearing the words “Lokap SPRM”.

These are people who have been arrested by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in connection with its investigations. Lokap SPRM is the Bahasa Malaysia term for the MACC lock-up.

Some of these men and women have been or will be charged in court for offences such as offering or soliciting bribes and abuse of power. If they are guilty, they will be punished.
But what if the wrongdoing is partly to do with how the private sector operates?

If businessmen believe that greasing someone’s palm is an acceptable way to get ahead of the competition, and if a company’s culture tolerates or even encourages corrupt practices, why should the employees be the only ones held accountable when the authorities enforce the law?

It is not easy, however, to prove that a company has criminal intent.

This will matter less if there are provisions in the law that deem companies responsible if employees commit certain offences in the course of their work.

This concept of corporate liability for the crimes of employees has been introduced in countries such as the United States, Britain and Australia.

Malaysia has long talked about introducing such provisions.

In July 2013, for example, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Paul Low said the Government wanted to introduce a “corporate liability law”.

The idea is to hold boards of directors and CEOs of companies responsible for bribes given by their employees unless it is proven that there are measures in place within the organisation to prevent corruption.

Since then, Low and senior MACC officers have several times brought up this matter.

It appears that the plan is to either amend the MACC Act or to come up with a fresh piece of legislation.

At one point, Low said the Bill would be tabled by March this year and that the new provisions would come into effect in 2018.

However, the draft legislation has yet to reach Parliament.

The latest update was from MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki, who was quoted in a Sin Chew Daily report this week saying that the Cabinet had approved the Bill for the Corporate Liability Act and that it would be tabled in October.

It is understandable if the business community is less than enthusiastic about this.

There is always the fear that an employer will be unfairly blamed for an employee’s lack of integrity.

There is also the well-worn argument that complying with additional rules and regulations will increase costs amid already challenging conditions.

It is likely, however, that the new provisions are applicable only if the companies cannot demonstrate that they have done all they can to prevent the offences, or if they are negligent in addressing the risks of such offences being committed.

We will have to wait and see.

Meanwhile, businesses should examine their practices and procedures.

It is definitely in the best interest of a company to ensure that its employees understand well that corruption is not part of its corporate culture.

For that matter, corruption should not be part of any culture.

– Sunday Star Says

Amend MACC Act to give it more bite

TRANSPARENCY International Malaysia (TI-M) hails the call by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to amend Section 23 of the MACC Act 2009 to give it greater clarity so that corrupt practices and other related offences could be better tackled especially in state-owned enterprises (SOEs).

As stated by MACC deputy commissioner (Operations) Datuk Azam Baki, MACC needs more bite to act against corrupt public officials including ministers, assemblymen and politicians.

TI-M also supports MACC on the recently proposed new law known as “Misconduct for Civil Service Act”, where civil servants who caused substantial financial losses to the Government due to negligent acts or non-compliance with official policies or procedures would face criminal charges under this proposed new Act.

TI-M has been advocating for these amendments to the existing MACC Act for the past several years and hopes to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Section 23 of the MACC Act 2009 prohibits “an officer of a public body” or public officials from abusing their power for any gratification for themselves or for their relatives. TI-M shares Azam’s opinion that many politicians are being appointed into SOEs and public interest entities (PIEs).

In addition, TI-M is also looking forward to the inclusion of the corporate liability provisions into the MACC Act 2009, which will ultimately hold companies accountable for corruption cases involving their employees.

Currently, when an employee is caught for corruption or bribery, he or she will face the consequences and can be charged individually. The company which the respective employee works for is not held liable for its employees’ acts, as in law the company not being a human person is not capable of having criminal intent.

With the introduction of the corporate liability provisions, companies can be held accountable for their employees’ involvement in corruption or bribery if they are found to have failed to take adequate steps to prevent such corrupt acts by their employees.

When this becomes a reality, employers in the private sector would have no choice but to initiate anti-corruption programmes in their companies/organisations to mitigate and eventually eradicate corrupt practices.

TI-M, meanwhile, has been encouraging companies in the private sector to adopt the ISO 37001 Anti Bribery Management System as an initiative to put in place all the preventive controls and systems while simultaneously getting the top management to commit to the elimination of any form of bribery in their organisations.

On the proposed Misconduct for Civil Service Act, any effort or law to address misconduct which results in loss of taxpayers’ money should be lauded.

However, we would like to raise the issue of whether the proposed law should only apply to civil servants. What about instances where orders or instructions come from politicians or persons in elected positions? Should they not also be held liable if proven to be involved?

Any proposed law should fairly apply to everyone involved in the decision-making process, and that includes politicians.

Azam has been reported saying that each year, the AuditorGeneral’s Report reveals a litany of malpractices among government departments and agencies, some of which are outrageous, for which the civil servants responsible should be charged with criminal offences instead of just disciplinary action under the domestic rules applicable to them.

TI-M supports these new measures proposed by the MACC and hopes that the Government will give due consideration and also fully support the same by effecting the necessary changes in the law. This would ensure that we plug the existing loopholes in our anti-corruption laws.

DATUK AKHBAR SATAR President Transparency International Malaysia

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Fake Awards Scam for Penang Island City Council, Seberang Perai Municipal Council !


Dubious honours: (Above) Former Penang Island City Council mayor Patahiyah Ismail with the trophy and certificate for Best Municipal Manager awards in 2013 while her Seberang Prai counterpart Maimunah (pictured here with the Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and his aide Wong Hon Wai) received the same latter award in 2014

Penang local councils ‘fell for vanity awards scam’

GEORGE TOWN: Two European NGOs have exposed the European Business Assembly (EBA) which piled honours on Penang’s local councils as a vanity awards scam.

It is on a list of 10 organisations in Europe and China that hold elaborate ceremonies and create beautiful trophies to go with hundreds of awards.

“In many cases, those awards are bogus, sold by unscrupulous organisations that prey on hu­­man vanity,” the Center for Investigative Reporting of Serbia (CINS) and the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) researchers wrote in a 2014 report.

The report states that such organisations sent solicitation letters to companies and government agencies in the world, telling them that they had been nominated for various awards.

“Anyone who replies, shows interest and agrees to pay gets an award. Most of the letters contain the ceremony programme generally held in an attractive European capital, pictures of the trophies and information about costs,” the report added.

CINS was founded in 2007 by the Independent Journalists’ As­­so­­ciation of Serbia to support investigative journalism.

OCCRP comprises investigative reporters throughout Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America.

The two local councils in Penang were left red-faced for getting EBA awards in 2013 and 2014.

The now retired Penang Island City Council (MBPP) mayor Datuk Patahiyah Ismail was awarded the Best Municipal Manager while the council was given the Best Municipality Award in 2013.

A year later, Seberang Prai Municipal Council got the Best City award while its then president Datuk Maimunah Mohd Sharif won the Best Municipal Manager award.

On Monday, it was reported that EBA was generating millions of pounds by selling fake Uni­ver­­sity of Oxford awards and cer­ti­ficates.

Pulau Betong assemblyman Da­­tuk Muhammad Farid Saad said he found many articles on­­line exposing EBA as a vanity awards organisation.

“Did they spend ratepayers’ money to get those honours? It’s like buying fake academic degrees,” he said in a statement.

Penang MCA secretary Tang Heap Seng said the state government should explain to the people whether it had purchased the awards to enhance its reputation.

In a statement, MBPP said it regretted that the awards were suspected of being false and had applied to the organiser to reaffirm the recognitions.

State Local Government Com­­mit­­tee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said he hoped both councils would be more discerning and careful in future.

Source: The Star/ANN by Tan Sin Chow

Councils: We won EBA awards after paying entry fees

Mayor: I apologise if accolade not genuine

//players.brightcove.net/4405352761001/default_default/index.html?videoId=5525452533001

GEORGE TOWN: Two councils in Penang have admitted that they won the awards given by the Europe Business Assembly (EBA) without any assessment after paying a total of 7,800 euros (RM39,088) in entry fees.

Penang Island City Council (MBPP) mayor Datuk Maimunah Mohd Sharif said EBA did not send any auditor or judge to review the performances of the then Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) and Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP).

“We received letters via email from EBA that we were nominated for the awards. We then corresponded on the matter.

“EBA stated their judging criteria in the letters which they would be basing their assessment on.

“As far as I know, they did not come and talk to us but assessed us (themselves),” Maimunah told reporters yesterday, adding that the MPPP and MPSP had paid £4,400 (RM20,680) and £3,400 (RM18,408.10) for the entry fees.

Maimunah, who just returned from a conference in Manila, was commenting on the EBA controversy which was reported as a vanity awards scam.

It was reported that in 2014, the Centre for Investigative Reporting of Serbia and the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project researchers had exposed the EBA for giving out the awards.

“If it is true that the award is not genuine, then I apologise. I wish to stress that the local councils do not have any intention to spend taxpayers’ money to buy any award or recognition from any group,” said Maimunah.

She said at that time, both MPPP and MPSP had considered the awards as a prestigious recognition based on the assessment criteria, which included economic environment, educational infrastructure, public services and transport, recreation and entertainment.

“The entry fee is a package inclusive of the participation cost for the conference. Both of us (Patahiyah and herself) went alone and we flew economy class although we were both entitled to business class.

“We did check on the awards but we did not receive any information which would have raised suspicions.

“There are other Malaysian local authorities, agencies, universities and individuals who have received the EBA awards before us.

“As such, the councils were of the opinion that the awards ceremony were worth joining,” she said.

Both councils, she said, were still waiting for a reply from EBA to clarify the matter.

Source: The Star by Chong Kah Yuan

MPSP to participate in awards despite ‘vanity awards’ controversy

BUKIT MERTAJAM: The Seberang Perai Municipal Council (MPSP) will continue to participate in international awards despite the controversy on so-called ‘vanity awards’ received by the council from the Europe Business Assembly (EBA).

The council’s newly appointed president Datuk Rozali Mohamud said they would continue to take part in international awards, but would heed the advice of state Local Government, Traffic Management and Flood Mitigation exco Chow Kon Yeow to be more cautious.

“Up to this moment, we have decided to take part in the Wego (World e-Governments Organisation of Cities and Local Governments).

“The awards are held annually, and it is free. We do not have to pay any entry fee,” he told reporters at a press conference.

On July 24, it was reported that the EBA was generating millions of pounds by selling fake University of Oxford awards and certificates.

Researchers from two NGOs wrote in a 2014 report that such organisations sent solicitation letters to companies and government agencies in the world, telling them that they had been nominated for various awards.

“Anyone who replies, shows interest and agrees to pay gets an award,” the report stated.

The now retired Penang Island City Council (MBPP) mayor Datuk Patahiyah Ismail was awarded the Best Municipal Manager award while the council was given the Best Municipality Award in 2013.

A year later, MPSP got the Best City award while its then president Datuk Maimunah Mohd Sharif won the Best Municipal Manager award. Maimunah is now MBPP mayor.

 

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Councillors ready to serve Penangites to make a difference?

 



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

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Reject corrupt practices, weed out the bad apples, don’t hesitate reporting bribery


PENANG Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas has urged public servants to defend the good name of the civil service by rejecting corruption and misuse of power.

“I fully support efforts in eradicating corruption among public servants by taking strict action against those found guilty, including termination of service,” he said in his speech when opening the fifth term of the 13th state assembly at the state legislative assembly building in George Town yesterday.

Abdul Rahman evoked the example of Prophet Sulaiman (Solomon), who spurned bribes, as an inspiration for civil servants in carrying out their duties.

On the economy, Abdul Rahman said Penang received RM4.3bil in investments, with 106 projects approved last year.

“From that amount, RM3.1bil was from foreign investment while RM1.2bil was from domestic investment,” he added.

In agriculture, he said livestock production value increased from RM827.96mil in 2015 to RM842.55mil last year, with the amount expected to continue growing and exceed RM850mil by 2018.

Abdul Rahman praised the state for its efforts to promote medical tourism by establishing the Penang Center of Medical Tourism (PMED) involving 10 private hospitals in the state.

He said the number of tourists seeking medical services in Penang increased by 14.77% from 302,000 in 2015 to 347,000 last year.

“Income also increased by 17.92% in the same period, from RM391mil in 2015 to RM458mil last year,” he added.

Earlier, Abdul Rahman inspected a guard-of-honour by 102 Federal Reserve Unit personnel.

The state assembly sitting is scheduled to start at 9.30am on Monday.

Pulau Betong assemblyman Datuk Farid Saad was earlier quoted as saying that it was unfair to reject the Opposition’s two motions, one asking Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng to step down pending his corruption trial while the other called for civil servants to take leave if they are charged with corruption.

“We will bring it up during our debate in the assembly and let the people decide if the state government practised what it preached,” he had said.

It was also reported that a motion would be tabled by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng or a state exco member to censure Tasek Gelugor MP Datuk Shabudin Yahaya over his controversial remarks in Parliament on child marriages.

Source: The Star by Lo Tern Chern

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The Malaysian Anti-Corruption (MACC) movement underway on zero tolerance for graft


WE HAVE long grumbled that there should be stronger and swifter action against high-ranking officials who use their positions for personal gain instead of serving the public interest.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) ongoing streak of arrests and court cases involving senior officers in civil service and the private sector is encouraging, but even that may not satisfy the cynics, who are likely to point out that there are plenty more big fish out there and that there is no sign of a decline in corruption and abuse of power.

That is an easy thing to do – blame others when things do not go well and then expect the corruption fighters to clean up a huge and complex mess. But it surely cannot be the only thing we are capable of doing.

The MACC has a suggestion: to join the “revolutionary movement” against corruption.

That sounds like a lot of work, but Gerakan Revolusi Anti-Rasuah (Gerah) is actually a nationwide awareness campaign to change how people view corruption and abuse of power.

The ultimate aim is to enlist the support of the people in the war against corruption by shaping society to “hate, reject and fight corruption”.

“Our intention is to create a sense of fear and uneasiness so that wrongdoers will feel the heat. They should, for they are gambling away the peace, security and harmony of society, as well as jeopardising the country’s growth,” MACC chief commissioner Datuk Dzulkifli Ahmad told Sunday Star.

The commission will mobilise 2,000 officers from all over the country to meet the people and foster closer rapport and cooperation.

This is not a mere public relations exercise. Efforts to stamp out corruption cannot just focus on those who take the money.

In treating corruption and abuse of power as the country’s No. 1 enemy, we also have to acknow­ledge that we are partly responsible for sustaining this enemy.

Every time we offer a bribe, refuse to be a whistleblower or blithely dismiss corruption as “the Malaysian way”, we are strengthening the very thing that threatens to choke our nation’s development.

It is therefore fitting that Gerah incorporates the month-long 3J campaign, which the MACC launched on Monday in a partnership with Star Media Group Bhd.

The 3J name is shorthand for “Jangan Hulur, Jangan Kawtim, Jangan Settle”, which means “Don’t Give and Don’t Settle”.

It is a clever use of colloquial words that are synonymous with corruption, and there is little chance of misunderstanding the intent of the campaign.

“We hope this will pave the way for people to say no to corruption and create a society that has the courage to stand up and fight not only against corruption, but the corruptors,” said Dzulkifli at the launch.

Here is our choice: Be part of the “revolutionary movement” or do nothing and yet expect life to be better.

Source: Stay Say

Top zakat official among 11 held

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Wide net: MACC officers escorting Penang Tithes Management Centre personnel to the court in George Town to obtain their remand order.

GEORGE TOWN: A high-ranking Datuk from Pusat Zakat Negeri Pulau Pinang (ZPP) has been accused of misappropriating tithe money, including approving an annual scholarship for one of his children.

He is also alleged to have pocketed payments from contractors as an inducement to provide them with jobs involving ZPP community prog­rammes.

The man is among 11 people, including staff and contractors, who have been detained in a swoop by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) yesterday following an investigation that began last December.

The 50-year-old Datuk was picked up at the ZPP office in Bandar Perda, Bukit Mertajam, at 10.40am yesterday.

Three of his co-workers, including two ZPP department heads, and seven ZPP contractors were also detained in the operation codenamed Ops Miskin.

Penang MACC director Datuk Abdul Aziz Aban said the Datuk was detained on suspicion of accepting valuable items, cash and cheques from several companies and suppliers as inducements to award certain projects or works related to the state zakat community development programmes.

He added that the Datuk, who has held the position in ZPP since 1995, was believed to have also approved the annual scholarship without going through the Penang Religious Affairs Department for approval.

“We believe the four ZPP officials have been sharing the illegal payments among themselves between 2014 and 2016.

“We have been watching them since December last year,” Abdul Aziz said during a press conference at the state MACC headquarters here yesterday.

Wide net: MACC officers escorting Penang Tithes Management Centre personnel to the court in George Town to obtain their remand order.

Every Muslim with a certain amount of wealth is required to give zakat or alms to the poor and needy.

Abdul Aziz said the seven contractors, aged between 41 and 52, were believed to have often received projects or tenders from ZPP with the help of the Datuk.

He declined to elaborate on the amount of money seized in the operation, saying that it would be revealed after the investigation had been completed.

Apparently, the amount collected by the suspects totalled several million ringgit.

Abdul Aziz said the 11 suspects, who were remanded for a week, would be investigated under Section 17(a) and (b), as well as Section 23 of the MACC Act 2009.

“The offence carries a jail term of up to 20 years and five times the amount of bribes involved,” he added.

Earlier, the 11 were brought to the magistrate’s court here by the MACC at 3pm to be remanded.

Magistrate Mohamad Amin Shahul Hamid granted a seven-day remand, which began yesterday.

Source:  The Star by sharanpal singh randhawa, g.c. tan, sardi mahorm, logeiswary thevadass, chong kah yuan, hemananthani sivanandam, royce tan

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Datuk Adam Rosly amassed so much wealth under scrutiny by corruption agency


Anti-graft investigators looking into the case of Ampang PKR Youth chief Datuk Adam Rosly’s “unusual” wealth are trying to determine how the 29-year-old amassed a substantial amount of cash and property at his age.

Officers who went to Adam’s house, dubbed by many as “Disneyland castle” in Ampang, seized five cars – a Mini Cooper, a BMW 5 Series, a Mercedes C200, an Audi A6 and a Toyota Vellfire.

Eight accounts under Adam and his wife’s name, with money amounting to RM212,461.41, were frozen.

Adam, who was detained after his statement was recorded at the MACC headquarters on Thurs

day, has been remanded for five days to allow the commission to investigate him.

He arrived at the court complex at 9.30am yesterday, clad in the MACC orange lock-up attire and smiled to the waiting cameramen.

Lawyers Nik Zarith Nik Moustapha and Asyraf Othman, as well as his mother, wife, baby daughter and a group of friends were waiting for him in the courtroom.

Magistrate Nik Isfahanie Tasnim Wan Ab Rahman granted prosecutors’ request for him to be remanded until April 18.

The MACC is investigating the case under the Anti-Money Laun­dering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act.

Adam’s wealth came to the public’s attention after his political opponents questioned how he was able to afford his castle-style bungalow which they claimed cost RM7mil.

The special officer to Ampang MP Zuraida Kamaruddin, however, said he bought the house for RM1mil at an auction.

He also claimed that his money came from business ventures and family inheritance.

A source said the big question was whether Adam was actually involved in “proper” business ventures that brought him that much profit.

“Does he really have a business, did he really inherit a substantial amount of money or did he obtain it from ‘brokering’ or some kind of borrowings. We are sure there are ways for MACC to get to the bottom of this,” said the source.

MACC deputy chief commissioner Datuk Azam Baki said officers were still investigating the case.

“They are still finding more evidence and going through documents.

“Let them probe and we will see what comes out of it,” he added.

Source: The Star/ANN

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