Call for action on flooding solution


Some representatives of the 24 residents associations and management corporations showing messages urging the state to resolve the flood issues in Penang. — Photos: ASRI ABDUL GHANI /The Star
Meenakshi (right) speaking on the group’s concerns at the press conference.

Irked residents to hold meeting with state representatives on Oct 29

FRUSTRATED by the never-ending flood problems in Penang, a group has got together to arrange a meeting with state representatives on Oct 29.

The group of 24 residents associations and management corporations believes that the blame game between Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Harapan politicians should be stopped as the floods have caused a lot of hardship to the people.

Spokesperson Meenakshi Raman said the group would have experts share data collected on floods in their respective areas at the briefing.

“We want to make a collective call to the state government to take the flood and hill erosion issues very seriously,” she said at a press conference at the Consumers Association of Penang in Jalan Masjid Negeri yesterday.

Meenakshi said the state representatives could use the data gathered at the briefing titled ‘Penang Flood: Call for Action’ and discuss the matter during the upcoming state assembly in November.

The briefing is open to the public and the venue and time will be announced later.

“Flood mitigation alone is inadequate. We want comprehensive action and a stop to unsafe overdevelopment at hill slopes,” said Meenakshi.

Representatives of residents groups from Bandar Baru Ayer Itam attended the press conference to voice their dissatisfaction over the repeated flooding in the township, especially in Lebuhraya Thean Tek, Jalan Thean Tek and Lintang Thean Tek.

The groups are from Tanjung Court Condominium, Desa Delima (Tower Blocks), Sri Impian, Fortune Court, Treasure Ville and Desa Baiduri.

Tanjung Court Condominium residents ad-hoc group representative K. Suthakar said Lebuhraya Thean Tek in Bandar Baru Ayer Itam would be badly hit by floods every time there was heavy rain.

“The state government keeps saying that the Federal Government doesn’t give them enough money.

“Will the flooding problems go on for five or 10 more years? How long is this going to continue? We are suffering,” he said.

He urged MPs to attend the briefing as well so that they could bring up the flood issue in Parliament.

Later, the group showed photos of landslides that happened during the Sept 15 flooding at Fettes Park, Solok Tembaga and Sungai Ara.

They urged Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng to focus on resolving the flood issues.

Penang Opposition leader Datuk Jahara Hamid said it was a good initiative to hold the briefing as there was a need to better understand the concerns of the people.

“I can only confirm attendance after the venue and time have been fixed,” she said.

Meanwhile, PKR Penanti assemblyman Dr Norlela Ariffin said she would attend the briefing.

Source: by Intan Amalina Mohd Ali The Star

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China top paper warns officials against ‘spiritual anaesthesia’, the root of corruptions


The founder of modern China chairman Mao Zedong.

 

BEIJING: China’s top newspaper warned Communist Party officials not to “pray to God and worship Buddha”, because communism is about atheism and superstition is at the root of many corrupt officials who fall from grace.

China officially guarantees freedom of religion for major belief systems like Christianity, Buddhism and Islam, but party members are meant to be atheists and are especially banned from participating in what China calls superstitious practices like visiting soothsayers.

The party’s official People’s Daily yesterday said in a commentary it had not been uncommon over the past few years to see officials taken down for corruption to have also participated in “feudalistic superstitious activities”.

“In fact, some officials often go to monasteries, pray to God and worship Buddha,” it said.

“Some officials are obsessed with rubbing shoulders with masters, fraternising with them as brothers and becoming their lackeys and their money-trees.”

Chinese people, especially the country’s leaders, have a long tradition of putting their faith in soothsaying and geomancy, looking for answers in times of doubt, need and chaos.

The practice has grown more risky amid a sweeping crackdown on deep-seated corruption launched by President Xi Jinping upon assuming power in late 2012, in which dozens of senior officials have been imprisoned.

The People’s Daily pointed to the example of Li Chuncheng, a former deputy party chief in Sichuan who was jailed for 13 years in 2015 for bribery and abuse of power, who it said was an enthusiastic user of the traditional Chinese geomancy practice of feng shui.

“As an official, if you spend all your time fixating on crooked ways, sooner or later you’ll come to grief,” it said.

The People’s Daily said officials must remember Marx’s guiding words that “Communism begins from the outset with atheism”.

“Superstition is thought pollution and spiritual anaesthesia that cannot be underestimated and must be thoroughly purged,” it said. — Reuters

 

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Another government department, seriously? Beef up the existing enforcement agencies !


YET another government department is going to be set up. Isn’t it common knowledge that the Government has serious budget constraints and is not recruiting to add to an already bloated civil service? And now, another tale of bureaucracy is being spun.

No wonder Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief commissioner Tan Sri Dzulkifli Ahmad is upset over the planned formation of the National Integrity and Good Governance Department (JITN)

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Paul Low has said the proposed department is expected to improve good governance in the civil service.

How would the JITN as a new and probably tiny department be able to do the job? It would probably involve plenty of miracles since there is a reported 1.6 million civil servants to deal with, although Cuepacs says the figure is only at 500,000. It will be a Herculean task to move this mountain of manpower for what’s needed.

Low must surely have good intentions in wanting to set up the JITN, but its objectives and plans remain, at best, vague, at this point.

Its name and role seem almost identical to that of the Integrity Institute of Malaysia (IIM) and Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission.

The IIM, the brainchild of then Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, was set up in 2004 and continues to function.

Its website reads: “IIM’s role is to facilitate the aims and objectives of the National Integrity Plan (NIP). The main objective of IIM is to act as a machinery in the implementation of the NIP towards developing a nation that is of high integrity, resilient and that embraces universal good values.”

The key roles of the institute are: to conduct research related to the integrity of institutions and that of the community; to organise conferences, seminars and forums; to elicit opinions from various sectors on the progress made or on the obstacles faced in implementing integrity; to publish and circulate printed materials as well as formulating and implementing training and educational programmes; to recommend new policies for the enhancement of integrity and ethics; and to advise the Government on strategies and programmes in enhancing integrity.

The voice of cynicism is growing loud and people are questioning the functions of this department, more so if it has no bite. MACC has strongly objected to it, with Dzulkifli labelling it a waste of public funds.

Who can blame the graft buster for being disgruntled? His investigators are overworked and the department understaffed, under budget and now, suddenly, the MACC learns that a new department is to be set up.

If it has no powers and does not concern the MACC, then it is on its way to being another government department which publishes more reports that nobody reads and which will most likely end up gathering dust.

Dzulkifli, who is hard-pressed to secure a heftier budget for his department, has publicly objected to the setting up of JITN, saying the funds could be better used to enhance current enforcement agencies and the wellbeing of its staff.

“What needs to be done is improve and strengthen the laws, human resources and welfare of existing agencies.

“The Government should oversee the welfare of law enforcers. Go and see the conditions of police barracks. They are poorly maintained,” he said.

Dzulkifli urged the Government to re-examine the salaries and housing schemes of law enforcers.

“If we want to decrease corruption and abuse of power in enforcement agencies, the problem will not be solved if law enforcers do not have their welfare taken care of.

“I will defend them (law enforcers) when needed, and take action against them (if they do wrong).

“But we also need to see the state of their welfare,” he told reporters at a corruption-free pledge signing ceremony in Sungai Petani recently.

“Forming a new department will be costly and require hiring new staff. Their scope of duties will be similar to (that of) other law enforcers,” he added.

And even in less-than-ideal circumstances, the MACC has continued with its crime-busting duty, its stats backing up its hard work. Up to last month this year alone, the commission has arrested 728 individuals, including 349 civil servants, 215 members of the public and 151 from the private sector.

So far, 316 people have been accused of corrupt practices this year. Nearly half of them – 155 individuals – are from the civil service. Last year, only 113 civil servants had the long arm of the law catch up with them.

MACC statistics reveal that 1,629 cases (up to last month this year) involved civil servants, compared to 2,008 the whole of last year, with 654 cases concerning members of the public and 174 involving those from the private sector.

Until September this year, 432 investigation papers were opened against civil servants, compared to 526 last year. Half of that figure – 215 – implicated members of the public, 102 members of the private sector, and seven from other categories, including politics.

Up until last month, 756 investigation papers were opened.

Low said the Cabinet has given the green light for the setting-up of JITN to serve as a coordinating body to lead transformational changes in the public and private sectors.

He said the department would focus on good governance, integrity and human rights. How it will co-exist with Suhakam (Human Rights Commission of Malaysia) is something which needs explaining.

JITN received the Cabinet’s nod on July 28, and is currently under review by the Public Service Department pending final approval. The department was previously a division under Low in the Prime Minister’s Department.

There isn’t much the MACC can do now since the Cabinet has already approved the move.

But what the Government should consider doing is to beef up the MACC where manpower and resources are concerned, given the flurry of cases flying its way.

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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JPMorgan CEO warns he will fire any employee trading Bitcoin for being “stupid.”


 
Tough stand: Dimon has warned that he will fire JPMorgan traders who traded in bitcoin ‘in a second. For two reasons: It’s against our rules, and they’re stupid. And both are dangerous.’ — AFP

NEW YORK: JPMorgan Chase & Co chief executive officer Jamie Dimon said he will fire any employee trading bitcoin for being “stupid.”

The cryptocurrency “won’t end well,” he told an investor conference in New York on Tuesday, predicting it will eventually blow up. “It’s a fraud” and “worse than tulip bulbs.”

If a JPMorgan trader began trading in bitcoin, he said: “I’d fire them in a second. For two reasons: It’s against our rules, and they’re stupid. And both are dangerous.”

Bitcoin has soared in recent months, spurred by greater acceptance of the blockchain technology that underpins the exchange method and optimism that faster transaction times will encourage broader use of the cryptocurrency.

Prices have climbed more than four-fold this year – a run that has drawn debate over whether that’s a bubble.

Bitcoin initially slipped after Dimon’s remarks. It was down as much as 2.7% before recovering.

Last week, it slumped after reports that China plans to ban trading of virtual currencies on domestic exchanges, dealing another blow to the US$150bil cryptocurrency market.

Tulips are a reference to the mania that swept Holland in the 17th century, with speculators driving up prices of virtually worthless tulip bulbs to exorbitant levels.

That didn’t end well.

In bitcoin’s case, Dimon said he’s sceptical authorities will allow a currency to exist without state oversight, especially if something goes wrong.

“Someone’s going to get killed and then the government’s going to come down,” he said.

“You just saw in China, governments like to control their money supply.”

Dimon differentiated between the bitcoin currency and the underlying blockchain technology, which he said can be useful.

Still, he said banks’ application of blockchain “won’t be overnight.”

The bank chief said he wouldn’t short bitcoin because there’s no telling how high it will go before it collapses.

The best argument he’s heard, he said, is that it can be useful to people in places with no other options – so long as the supply of coins doesn’t surge.

“If you were in Venezuela or Ecuador or North Korea or a bunch of parts like that, or if you were a drug dealer, a murderer, stuff like that, you are better off doing it in bitcoin than US dollars,” he said.

“So there may be a market for that, but it’d be a limited market.”— Bloomberg

 

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Living at the edge of chaos, climate change is not fake science


 

Nature’s fury: A car dealership is covered by Hurricane Harvey floodwaters near Houston, Texas. The chaos caused by the hurricane proves that climate change is not fake science. — Reuters

THIS month, two Category 4 hurricanes hit the United States within 17 days of each other. In Asia, North Korea is threatening nuclear Armageddon, and floods and famine are putting thousands of lives at risk from Bangladesh to Yemen. How can one survive in this chaotic era?

A first step must be to make sense of the apparent chaos. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma have proved that climate change is not fake science, but real threats to home and security. When hailstones the size of golf balls hit Istanbul in the middle of summer, even the agnostics accept that climate change is serious business.

The biggest uncertainty that has hit Asia recently is the shock that North Korea has not only developed possibly a hydrogen bomb, but also the missile capability to deliver it even to the United States. This has changed the geopolitical balance not only in North Asia, but globally because it is no longer possible for the United States alone to contain nuclear proliferation.

Physics teaches us that chaos is often a characteristic of transition from one order to another. Chaos is also a pattern in which there is apparently no discernible pattern.

But there is a seismic transition from a unipolar world led by the United States to a multi-polar world of competing powers and ideology, particularly after the 2007 global financial crisis. As the share of US GDP in the world declines relative to the rest, the rise of China, India and increasing assertion by Russia and non-state players like IS means that the United States’ ability to dominate militarily and ideologically is being challenged.

At the same time, increasing stresses from social inequalities and paranoia of terror, immigration and job loss have tilted the United States to become more inward looking. The Trump administration has dramatically begun to dismantle the neoliberal order of multilateral trade and finance that shaped US foreign policy since the end of the Second World War.

There is a raw open division within the United States in outlook and values. The Democratic Left believes in maintaining the old order of moral leadership on human rights, democracy and multilateral global stability and prosperity. The Republican Right questions these beliefs and prefers America First, negotiating bilaterally to achieve that premier status.

Earlier this year, the Pentagon asked the Rand Corporation to conduct a review on “Alternative Options for US Policy toward the International Order”. The key questions for the New Global Order are: Who sets the rules and how binding are the rules?

The study breaks the future order into two camps of rule-makers – the US and its allies or a concert of great powers. Under such a division, there are two conditions where rules are binding – one dominated by the US camp to enforce rules and the other where the great powers agree to a global constitutional order enforced by institutions. The other two conditions where rules are not binding involve a coalition of states aligned to counteract against revisionism and a new concert of great powers.

The immediate problem with the Rand categorisation of New Order Visions is that the existing liberal, rules-based order is not being challenged by others, but by the US itself.

First, after German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s comment earlier this year that Europe must begin to look after its own interests, it is no longer clear that America’s traditional allies are going to follow the US leadership when there are serious disagreements on trade, climate change and immigration. It is no coincidence that the largest trade imbalances are no longer between China or oil producers with the US, but between Europe and the United States. Germany alone is running a current account surplus equivalent to around 8% of GDP.

Second, within the Middle East, alliances are shifting almost by the day. The quarrel between Saudi Arabia and Qatar has riven the Gulf Cooperation Council, while Turkey is playing an increasingly pivotal role within the shifting alliances.

Third, North Korea’s bid for nuclear power membership, despite being a small state, means that Great Powers may have to accommodate new players whether they like it or not.

Fourth, climate change in the form of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma demonstrate that nature can impose larger and larger economic losses on nations and regions, which will require global public goods that the current order is neither willing to fund, nor able to agree on how to address. The economic losses from Harvey alone is estimated at US$180bil, equivalent to the annual GDP of a middle-income economy. The existing multilateral bodies such as the United Nations and the World Bank are facing serious resource shortages relative to these new global demands.

The bottom line is that the current order has neither the resources nor the collective will to enforce rules when the human population growth puts increasing competition for scarce water, food and territorial spaces. Chaos arises from the breakdown of rules and borderlines.

In short, globalisation of trade, information and human migration has meant that traditional borders in many regions are becoming non-enforceable. For example, it is 101 years since the 1916 Sykes-Picot Agreement divided up the collapsing Ottoman Empire into British, French and Russian spheres of interest and eventual control. These borders were drawn and enforced by the Great Powers through their military superiority.

Seen from the long lens of history, with the Great Powers being unwilling to put troops on the ground to enforce borders drawn up under the colonial era, these artificial borders are failing.

A hallmark of the times is that even the best of think tanks cannot map out how to navigate through this era of disruptive technology, unpredictable climate and shifting alliances and interests. What history teaches us is that the fault lines will be at the borderlands, at the confluence of emerging forces and stresses.

We should therefore be prepared for not only disruption at the borderlands of physical space, but within the realms of cyberspace.

By Andrew Sheng

Tan Sri Andrew Sheng writes on global issues from an Asian perspective.

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RM40mil siphoned off from the Malaysian Human Resources, Skills Development Fund Corp !



PETALING JAYA: Some RM40mil from the Skills Development Fund Corp is believed to have been siphoned off by those tasked with utilising it for the benefit of the people, sources revealed.

Anti-graft officers detained the cor­­­poration’s 58-year-old chief execu­­tive, who is a Datuk, over the alleged misappropriation of funds.

Others detained included the corporation’s 34-year-old secretary, a 32-year-old assistant financial officer and a 38-year-old director of a company who goes by the honorific “Dr” title.

All of them were picked up in seve­ral places in Kuala Lumpur between 4.30pm and 6pm yesterday.

One of the suspects is said to be an office-bearer with a state Umno division.

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Com­mission deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki confirmed the arrests.

Sources said the suspects were said to have collaborated with the company director to siphon the allocation provided by the Government.

The corporation is a statutory body under the Human Resources Mi­nistry. It is responsible for provi­ding financial assistance in the form of loans to individuals, such as school­-­leavers, graduates and others who are interested in pursuing Ma­­laysian Skills Certification, Malaysian Skills Diploma and Malaysian Ad­­van­ced Skills Diploma at public or private skills training institutions.

It is learnt that the misappropriation of funds has been going on since last year.

In 2016, the Government allocated RM35mil to the corporation and another RM40mil this year to carry out training programmes.

“Initial investigations showed RM15mil was believed to have been siphoned off last year. Another RM25mil is believed to have been misappropriated this year,” said a source.

It is learnt that three of the suspects had also collaborated with the company director to allow 15 of his registered companies to manage the training programmes.

But none of his companies was said to have been equipped with the expertise to conduct such training.

Azam said the MACC would be calling up several witnesses “very soon and that more arrests could be expected”.

“We will carry out a thorough probe as it involves public funds. Our officers will also be sei­zing relevant documents related to the case,” he said.

Source: By Simon Khoo The Star

‘Reward them to curb graft’ – It is not wrong to give cash to whistleblowers, says MACC chief

Video:
//players.brightcove.net/4405352761001/default_default/index.html?videoId=5574722710001

KUALA LUMPUR: Rewarding civil servants with cash for exposing corruption is not wrong but it should not be the sole focus, says Tan Sri Dzulkifli Ahmad.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Com­mis­sion (MACC) chief commissioner pointed out that offering cash incentives to whistleblowers was just one of the many initiatives in tackling corruption.

“There are many more activities and campaigns done by us which should be taken into account. Is it wrong for us to reward those who refuse to accept a bribe? We are showing our appreciation to those who choose to remain clean, and we look up to these people,” he said after launching the MACC’s anti-corruption posters and painted messages on three Mara Liner buses at Terminal Bersepadu Selatan yesterday.

Civil servants who report cases of corruption are entitled to receive an incentive equal to the amount offered in the bribes, with the lowest sum set at RM500.

However, of the 1.6 million civil servants, only 0.01% have reported cases so far.

In acknowledging this, Dzulkifli said it should not be equated to many civil servants on the take or that they were not serious about eradicating corruption.

“As a matter of fact, we do have a number of them coming directly to provide information but they do not want to lodge an official report.

“Some refuse the bribes offered to them but choose to just tip us off without eyeing a reward,” he said.

On another matter, Dzulkifli opined that “sharks” were now fearful of the MACC due to the “aggressive action” against offenders.

“Clearly, we managed to instil a sense of fear. Many people I meet say they can see fewer giving or taking bribes.

“We see this as a positive sign. We will continue with new arrests, probes and charges every week,” he said.

Later in Putrajaya, Dzulkifli said they would wage a war against illegal gambling den operators and put a stop to their illegal business.

He said the time had come for the issue to be looked into seriously and aggressively, including licensed outlets and cybercafes which al­­lowed online gambling in their premises.

“The issue of gambling dens operating illegally is not new. In fact, even the Deputy Prime Minis­ter has spoken about it. But we don’t see the number of these outlets decreasing.

“I think it is about time we take aggressive action against the operators and those who protect them,” he said after a dialogue with NGO Fight Against Illegal Activities Movement or GBAH.- The Star

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Graft destroys nature as Corrupt officers see no evil as environment is being ravaged


Humans Are Destroying the Environment

PETALING JAYA: They are supposed to be guardians of the environment, and yet “certain enforcement officers” are found to be tolerating illegal activities that are detrimental to nature – all for personal gain.

Pollution and unauthorised felling of trees, for instance, could be traced to those working in cahoots with the culprits, according to sources.

Several recent cases such as the illegal bauxite mining in Kuantan, flash floods in Cameron Highlands and the illegal sawdust factory in Kampung Sungai Lembu, Penanti, Butterworth, were all linked to abuse of power and corruption.

“Some of them are more inclined to soliciting and receiving monetary gains in lieu of their responsibilities in protecting the natural surroundings.

“As a result, it has created greater problems to the fragile environment at the expense of future generations,” said a source.

The source added that stern action needed to be meted out against these irresponsible officers in order to put a stop to the wanton destruction.

If nothing was done, it could lead to adverse effects to the people in terms of public health and safety, the source said.

“All enforcement agencies tasked to preserve the environment must be serious in discharging their duties diligently.

“In this regard, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has done its part to send out a stern warning with numerous arrests and prosecutions in court,” the source said.

Over the past few months, scores of enforcement officers including those from the Customs, Land Office and local councils were nabbed on suspicion of receiving bribes to turn a blind eye on illegal activities detrimental to the environment.

The MACC also held several dialogues with NGOs and environmental groups through an Environmental Protection and Anti-Corruption Caucus to share information on corruption issues.

With this strategic collaboration, illegal activities such as illegal logging, river pollution and clearing of land could be prevented from recurring.

By Simon Khoo The Star/Asian News Network

Authorities fighting an uphill battle against ‘rape of hills’

PETALING JAYA: The authorities are waging an endless war against illegal loggers, with some enforcement officers even labelling the wanton destruction of trees as “raping the hills”.

Cases of such destructive activities in recent years include uncontrolled logging and illegal farming in Cameron Highlands, which polluted several rivers.

In April this year, a former Terengganu Forestry Department director was charged with accepting RM60,000 from a timber contractor four years ago as an inducement to approve a logging application for Hulu Terengganu Forest Reserve.

Two men were detained in the Bukit Bauk Forest Reserve in Dungun in November last year for removing evidence of illegal logging during an ambush by the Forestry Department. Some 400 tonnes of logs were reportedly seized.

In August last year, a Datuk Seri and two others were arrested in connection with illegal logging in the Cerul forest reserve in Terengganu. They produced a letter from a “high-ranking officer” to evade arrest but failed.

In Pahang, 11 people were detained by the Forestry Department for trespassing into forest reserves with the intent to steal high-value timber.

The Auditor-General’s Report 2015 highlighted illegal logging and encroachment in Perak forest reserves and said it was due to the lack of monitoring and effective enforcement by the Perak Forestry Department.

Logging in Kelantan has also come under scrutiny following allegations of illegal and uncontrolled logging being a possible cause of the 2014 floods in Kuala Krai.

In 2013, Kelantan-based NGO Young People against Corruption (Ombak) discovered rampant land clearing and wanton destruction of virgin forests in Kuala Krai and Gua Musang, affecting at least five hills stretching from the Pahang-Kelantan and Kelantan-Perak borders.

Ombak president Wan Khairul Ihsan Wan Muhammad described the destruction as the “rape of the forested hills”, adding that the activities were stealthily done in the middle of forest reserves to avoid detection.

Anti-graft officers out to stop illegal timber business

PETALING JAYA: Illegal logging, which has cost the country billions of ringgit in losses in taxes and revenue, is the latest target of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

Remote area: A file picture of a suspected illegal logging site in Bakun, Sarawak, that was raided by the MACC.

Anti-graft officers will be focusing on this issue after tackling illegal land clearing, bauxite mining and unlicensed factories.

It is learnt that incidents of illegal logging are “quite rampant and extensive”, causing a lot of destruction to the nation’s fragile eco-system and environment.

Some of the illegal activities are believed to be taking place deep in the jungle, including forest reserves and catchment areas, hidden from public view.

The problem is made worse when some enforcement officers tasked with taking action against illegal loggers are believed to have turned a blind eye and worked in cahoots with illegal loggers.

In return, the officers are said to be promised a certain percentage from profits from the illegal activities every month, paying no heed to the destruction of the country’s forests.

It is learnt that these unethical officers are raking in tens of thousand of ringgit every month as kickback and side income to finance their lavish lifestyle.

MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki said such illegal activities must be nipped in the bud before they cause irreparable damage.

“We have received very reliable information from the public on illegal logging.

“It is not just in one particular area, but in several states throughout the country, including Sabah and Sarawak.

“We have set up a few flying squads and they are now collecting evidence on the ground,” he said when contacted yesterday.

He said illegal logging has caused serious pollution, while natural disasters, such as flash floods and landslides could occur more rapidly, endangering the lives of the people.

Azam said the main focus of investigations will be on elements of corruption and abuse of power involving several enforcement agencies, their officers and logging companies.

“Once we have gathered all the necessary evidence, a sting operation will be launched to nab the culprits,” he added.

He said MACC would be moving into several states “very soon”, adding that “we are pretty serious in tackling this issue”.

He welcomed tip-offs from the people to assist in putting a stop to illegal logging and other activities detrimental to the environment.

“We will also work closely with NGOs and environmental groups to collect information,” he added.

In November 2014, the then Sarawak chief minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem declared war on illegal logging, saying Sarawakians must not tolerate corruption anymore because millions in revenue had been lost.

The state, he said, had gained a bad reputation internationally because of “this robbery which is carried out in broad daylight”.

The MACC swung into action with a massive crackdown dubbed Ops Gergaji the following year, and together with several agencies, some 400 bank accounts belonging to companies and individuals with about RM600mil were frozen.

About RM1mil worth of illegally felled logs were also seized.

By Simon Khoo The Star/ANN
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