Chinese projects in Malaysia may stay intact


 
Illustration: Liu Rui/GT

Newly-elected Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has decided to scrap the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore Railway project despite the huge losses. He also announced the overhaul of other big railway projects, including a Chinese company-led East Coast railway project. As a result, some are worried about the fate of Chinese-funded companies in Malaysia.

During the election, the style of governance that Mahathir-led Pakatan Harapan proposed was in contrast to many policies of the previous government. Since Mahathir was elected, there has been growing concern about the new policies. While Malaysia has brought in big Chinese-invested projects, people are also concerned about the new government’s attitude toward foreign funds.

To my knowledge, Mahathir has formed many consulting teams and task forces since his re-election, which shows his prudence in dealing with such affairs. The government will clarify core policies and strategy in the next few weeks.

Pakatan Harapan was the opposition before and during the election. Its attitude toward foreign capital, especially Chinese funds in Malaysia, was obviously not thorough enough. Its opposition to big projects was aimed at the large sums they involved, not the projects themselves. To be more specific, what the political alliance opposed was actually ex-prime minister Najib Razak’s improprieties when approving the projects. Other problems involved in this process can be addressed by talks.

In the first press conference after his swearing-in ceremony, Mahathir promised that reviewing Chinese-funded projects would not harm China-Malaysia relations, and said that the new government will support the Belt and Road initiative as usual.

But Malaysia’s new finance minister and minister of economic affairs both started overhauling the big projects that the former government had signed, and outsourcing government projects through direct bidding is no longer permitted, including railway projects. It shows that the new government wants to overhaul official projects, while private investment projects are not affected.

The new government’s re-examination of big projects shows its intention to win more bargaining chips for negotiations. Any party that wants to cooperate with the new government needs to be more patient to retain the contract. Malaysia’s further development is closely linked to other countries’ continued participation, and China is certainly included.

Although China hopes that the current projects will stay intact, the two countries might still strategically revise their contracts to satisfy both sides as politics in Malaysia has changed. Besides, abolishing a contract is bound to cause political and economic upheaval as the Malaysian people realize the importance of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore Railway and the East Coast railway projects. The new government will certainly evaluate the opinion in a prudent way.

The future of Chinese-funded enterprises in Malaysia may not change greatly. The previous discussion focused on big government projects, but neglected hundreds of Chinese-funded enterprises that have invested in Malaysia since the 1990s. Most of these firms operated under local laws and regulations. They purchased local materials and hired locals, and some even provided technology transfer and staff training.

They are model enterprises that aimed at developing the market in the long-term. This should have been given more publicity.

In the future, the Malaysian government will certainly welcome investment by foreign-funded enterprises that abide by the local laws, but will differ from practices in the past decades in terms of bidding and contract talks. Most importantly, all parties should believe in the principle that business is business, and win-win cooperation is the key to the issue. Malaysia will definitely let investors enjoy the dividends of its reform and development.

By Ling Tek Soon Source: Global Times – VIEWPOINT

The author is a research fellow with Institute of China Studies, University of Malaya. opinion@globaltimes.com.cn

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Malaysians hail the King for his consent on Tommy Thomas as AG


Video:

PETALING JAYA: The Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Muhammad V, has consented to the appointment of Tommy Thomas (pic) as the new Attorney-General (AG).

In a statement, the Comptroller of the Royal Household Datuk Wan Ahmad Dahlan Ab Aziz said the King, on the advice of the Prime Minister, has given the approval to the appointment of Thomas as the AG according to Article 145 (1) of the Federal Constitution.

The Agong, said Wan Ahmad, has also called on Malaysians to accept the appointment of the AG, adding it should not create conflict as every Malaysian should be treated fairly regardless of their race or religion.

“The appointment would still continue to uphold the special privileges of the Malays and bumiputra as well as Islam as the religion of the Federation,” said Wan Ahmad.

He said the Agong has also approved the termination of Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali as AG after taking into consideration the views of the Malay Rulers on three issues.

These issues are the appointment of the AG, the rights of the bumiputras, and the rule of the Council of Rulers as stated under Article 153 of the Federal Constitution.

“The King has also expressed his disappointment (dukacita) and worries on media reports of late that were inaccurate and negative in nature, which could threaten the peace and harmony in the nation.

“The King has the obligation to uphold the Federal Constitution and preserve the rights of the Malays and bumiputras, as well as to protect Islam,” he added.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, on May 14, announced that Apandi was told to go on leave and would be temporarily replaced by Solicitor-General Datuk Engku Nor Faizah Engku Atek.

The proposal to appoint Thomas as AG had sparked a disagreement with the King, but Dr Mahathir was adamant and submitted only Thomas’ name to the King.

However the Agong insisted on more than one name, according to sources close to the royalty.

Malaysians expressed their joy and gratitude to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Muhammad V, for giving his consent for Tommy Thomas to be appointed the new Attorney-General (AG).

On The Star Online Facebook page, Thomas’ announcement received 291 shares, and 2,100 likes within an hour of the news breaking early Tuesday morning.

John Doraisamy said Malaysia and Malaysians were moving in the right direction.

“Happy to be 1Malaysia without racism,” he posted.
“Thank you to His Majesty YDP Agong for your royal consent. Congratulations to the new AG!” he said.

Justin Tan said Malaysia had reached a new milestone with Thomas’ appointment.

“Everyone should be treated equally and fairly regardless of their race or religion.

“Hope this signifies a true Malaysian society based on merit that will push the country forward to becoming the next powerhouse in the region,” he said.

Meanwhile, Facebook user Rajasegaran Subramaniam called for the Federal Constitution to be made a compulsory subject in schools and universities due to the controversy surrounding Thomas’ appointment.

“It is pain in the eyes witnessing so called new Malaysia citizens commenting on sensitive issues without any ideas on what they are even commenting.

“(The) past two days was one hell of a rollercoaster ride because of ignorant comments from ‘new Malaysia’ citizens,” he said.

In a letter dated June 4, but released early Tuesday (June 5), the Comptroller of the Royal Household Datuk Wan Ahmad Dahlan Ab Aziz said the King, on the advice of the Prime Minister, has given the approval to the appointment of Thomas as the AG according to Article 145 (1) of the Federal Constitution.

The King, said Wan Ahmad, has also called on Malaysians to accept the appointment of the AG, adding it should not create conflict as every Malaysian should be treated fairly regardless of their race or religion.

“The appointment would still continue to uphold the special privileges of the Malays and bumiputera as well as Islam as the religion of the Federation,” said Wan Ahmad.  The Star
 Related: 

 

Experts: Nothing to bar Dr M from making Thomas the AG – Nation …

Najib’s US top lawyers, hiccup to choice of new AG as 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) probe widens


1MDB  EMBATTLED Najib Razak

Najib hires top American lawyers, including former US A-G – Nation …

John Ashcroft was the United States attorney-general during the George W. Bush presidency and oversaw the Department of Justice in the turbulent days after the September 11 terror attacks. – AFP pic, June 2,
2018.

面对人生最严峻的贪腐案指控,以及新政府倾全力的调查,纳吉不惜重金礼聘来自美国的“最强法律团队”,助他及家人洗脱“一马案”罪名。(图:透视大马)

 

Najib hires top US lawyers, including ex-AG, as 1MDB probe widens 

EMBATTLED Najib Razak has engaged the services of a team of top US lawyers, including former attorney-general John Ashcroft and star litigator David Boies, in a clear sign of concern that the widening global probe into 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) could snare him and his family members.

The United States Department of Justice (DOJ) has been investigating the alleged siphoning of funds from the state-owned entity for several years and even tagged Najib as Malaysian Official 1, but he had enjoyed immunity from criminal charges as the prime minister of Malaysia.

So, even though the DOJ probe stirred occasionally and captured the headlines, he was largely nonchalant about the US probe and even made a widely-publicised trip to the White House last September.

Things have changed drastically since May 9.

Najib is no longer the head of a foreign government, and, therefore, no longer enjoys full immunity from legal action.

Furthermore, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s administration’s vigour in nailing Najib for the 1MDB scandal and cooperating with US investigators, makes the former prime minister and even his wife, Rosmah Mansor, principal targets in the US.

In the past, the focus of the DOJ investigation was mainly on Najib’s son, Riza Aziz and businessman Low Taek Jho.

But without the immunity of a prime minister and with the focus of the investigation in Malaysia on him and his wife, Najib has moved to hire top lawyers in the US.

Ashcroft was the AG during the George W. Bush presidency and oversaw the DOJ during the difficult days after the September 11 terror attacks.

After the Bush presidency, he set up a powerful lobby group called The Ashcroft Group and The Ashcroft Law Firm.

Checks by The Malaysian Insight show that the law firm registered Najib Razak as client on the Foreign Agents Registration Act register last September. He was listed as the prime minister of Malaysia and under the category of financed by a foreign government/foreign political party and other foreign principal.

It is unclear whether that engagement was for lobby or legal work because the FARA usually covers lobbying work in the US.

The Malaysian Insight understands that in recent days, Najib has engaged Ashcroft as his lawyer. The former PM has also hired David Boies, one of America’s top courtroom lawyers.

He has acted for the US government in its anti-trust case against IT giant Microsoft and aided fallen financiers including AIG’s Hank Greenberg and Enron’s Andy Fastow.

Sources told The Malaysian Insight that also part of the high-powered legal team is Matthew Schwartz. He spent a decade as a prosecutor in New York and handled several high-profile cases including the investigation of ponzi king Bernie Madoff.

In 2013, he was named Prosecutor of the Year by the Federal Law Enforcement Foundation. Schwartz is now in private practice.

These lawyers are expected in Kuala Lumpur soon. – June 2, 2018. The Malaysian Insight
The Malaysian Insight

纳吉聘美法律界“最强团队”辩护 背水一战誓洗一马案罪名

即将面临人生中最严峻贪腐案指控的前首相纳吉,已经做好背水一战的完全准备,重金礼聘来自美国法律界多位传奇人物,包括美国前总检察长约翰阿什克罗夫与明星律师大卫博依斯等人,势必洒尽千金也要洗脱“一马发展公司”(1MDB)案所有指控!

据了解,自早前两名大马律师哈柏星及阿迪慕都从律师团队请辞后,纳吉似乎不太信任本地律师,转而向外国律师求援,这次他筹组的法律团队中,据悉皆为美国籍律师。

纳吉之所以大费周章筹备外国律师团,正是因为新上台的希盟政府,此刻也正倾全力搜集他在一马案中的罪证,不但成立两个特别调查委员会,还积极与美国联邦调查局和美国司法部合作。为应付这铺天盖地的检控网,纳吉务必打起全副精神迎战。

更重要的是,如今已失去免控权的纳吉,无法再张开保护伞,庇护同样受调查的家人,包括妻子罗斯玛及继子里扎等人。他唯有大手笔请来美国最具实力的律师团队,保护他及家人免于牢狱之灾。消息指,这支美国律师团将于近期抵马。

据悉,这个“地表最强”律师团队将由美国前总检长约翰阿什克罗夫带领。约翰是小布什总统任内的总检长,曾在2001年美国经历911恐袭事件后,领导美国司法部度过艰难时刻。

在卸任后,他成立属于自己的游说公司“阿什克罗夫集团”以及“阿什克罗夫法律事务所”,继续在美国政界及司法界发挥影响力。

《透视大马》查悉,“阿什克罗夫法律事务所”已于去年9月,根据美国“外国代理人登记法”(Foreign Agents Registration Act),在外国顾客一栏填上纳吉的大名。其上还注明纳吉的身份是“大马首相”,并由“外国政府/政党”出资。

不过,目前尚未清楚,双方的交易项目是游说事务或法律事务,因为“外国代理人登记法”的注册,常见于美国机构为外国领导人所进行的游说工作。

“外国代理人登记法”,是美国为保障国防,内部安全及对外关系而制定的联邦立法。要求凡为外国政府,外国政党或外国领导人进行宣传或其它活动的人,必须公开其身份,以便美国政府和人民知晓这些人的身份,并对其活动和言行作出考察。

除了约翰,据了解纳吉还聘请了数位知名美籍律师,他们每一位都擅长处理经济、财务及金融界的刑事案件。

纳吉的美国法律团队中,包括明星律师大卫博依斯,大卫曾代表美国政府在反失信案里与世界科技巨头微软对簿公堂。

他还曾担任不少臭名昭著的财经界丑闻人物法律顾问,包括美国国际集团(AIG)前首席执行长汉克格林伯格,以及安然集团(Enron)前首席财务执行长安德鲁法斯托。

消息指出,另一位律师马修史瓦哲也非省油的灯,他曾在纽约担任检控官长达10年,经受过不少知名大案,例如轰动国际的“庞氏骗局”案件。

至2013年,马修获得美国联邦执法基金会颁发“年度检察官”的荣誉,他目前已卸下检察官身份转任律师。- 透视大马

Hiccup to choice of Malaysia’s new AG

King prefers a Federal Court or Court of Appeal judge for top job

Senior lawyer Tommy Thomas as the country’s new Attorney General.

PETALING JAYA: A proposal by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to appoint senior lawyer Tommy Thomas as the Attorney General has sparked a major dis­agreement with the King.

Essentially, Dr Mahathir is adamant about replacing Tan Sri Apan­di Ali, submitting only Thomas’ name to Sultan Muhammad V.

However, the King insisted on more than one name, according to sources close to the royalty.

“The King has suggested four names to Dr Mahathir, including an existing Federal Court judge and a Court of Appeal judge,” said one of the sources.

“The King’s argument is that he wants somebody who has been a judge or even a retired judge. He does not care whether the AG is an Indian, Chinese or Malay,’’ said the source, adding that the King demonstrated this when he accepted DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng as the Finance Minister.

The sources also pointed out that the King had once even recommended Thomas to the Kelantan government to act in a case against Petronas.

“The King wants an AG who is able to advise him on Syariah matters too, but Dr Mahathir rebutted that the Solicitor General can handle that job.

“However, the King felt that the AG as the top officer should be the one advising him,’’ said the source.

The Palace felt that it was not right for the blogs to construe the issue as “a constitutional crisis”.

“This is just a difference in opi­nions. The King informed Dr Ma­­ha­thir that if he really wants some­one to prosecute the 1MDB case, he need not make Thomas the AG.

“Thomas could be appointed as a DPP (deputy public prosecutor) just like how it was done with lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee before this,’’ added the source.

Just two days ago, prominent pro-Dr Mahathir blogger Syed Akbar Ali wrote on Malaysia Today, saying that there seemed to be serious issues developing between the Government and “another party” over the AG’s appointment.

“There is a very strong rumour (which I heard from very strong people) that our Dr Mahathir has already shortlisted one candidate as the new Attorney General,” he wrote, adding that “the candidate is said to be a non-Muslim, male Indian” and “an expert on Federal Constitution”.

Syed Akbar ruled out eminent retired judge Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram as the candidate.

He further said that the appointment was being objected to on the grounds that the candidate was neither a Malay nor a Muslim.

He said the new AG was tipped to be on a strict two-year contract with a job focused on institutional re­forms.

Yesterday, news portal Malaysian Insight also reported that the new Government was headed for a clash with the Malay rulers over the appointment.

Thomas could not be contacted to confirm the matter. Neither the press nor his close friends could reach him yet.

A retired senior judge said the matter was far more complicated than it appeared to be.

“A candidate for the AG’s position would have to be as qualified as a Federal Court judge with no less than 15 years’ experience in legal practice.”

Senior lawyer Haniff Khatri Ab­­dulla said the three characteristics that an AG should have to be effective were that he should be able to give general advice on each and every legal policy of the country, assist the Government on every provision of the Federal Constitution and hold two roles as the AG as well as the Public Prosecutor.

“As a Public Prosecutor, the candidate must have experience in criminal practice in order to be effective and not end up being a lame duck.”

Malaysians have come out in support of Thomas as the new AG.

Social media users, in particular, said the Prime Minister’s choice of AG should be respected by the King, saying the Ruler must be above politics.

They also vouched for Thomas’ credibility for the top job, saying he is the most suitable candidate

Facebook user Hirzan Afifi said: “If Tommy Thomas is our new attorney general, I got nothing to oppose. He is the king.”

Another user, Ranendra Bhatta­chary­ya, said: “Haven’t we, Malay­sians, having put in place the Government of our choice, demand the best should be appointed into office for vital national interests. Tom­my Thomas for Attorney Gene­ral of Malaysia.”

Another user Lim Hwah Beng said “Tommy Thomas is the one preferred by PH to be AG. It’s good if they can succeed in appointing Tommy Thomas as AG but I doubt they can … Anyway, we will take it one step at a time.”

Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia su­­preme council member A Kadir Jasin said in his blog that the King should respect the Constitution and act on the Government’s advice. – By Wong Chun Wai – Star

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MCA had no room to say ‘no’, down but not out: HSR cancellation should have followed due process


 

In the driver’s seat: Dr Wee is widely seen to be the next to helm the party. — ONG SOON HIN/The Star

HIS office is a small room with a great view of the capital city’s central business district. Within its four corners, MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong is racing against time to plan the road ahead for the embattled party.

He is now MCA’s sole Member of Parliament after winning the Ayer Hitam seat in Johor.

The party also won the Titi Tinggi and Cheka state seats.

MCA contested 39 parliamentary seats and 90 state seats in the May 9 polls. The defeat has been bruising and Dr Wee has spent the last three weeks charting the road ahead for the 69-year-old party.

“Changing government is not a nightmare, not an impossible thing and can be done overnight,” says 50-year-old Dr Wee in his first media interview after the polls.

He adds that all is not lost following the party’s worst outing, and said MCA is ready to pick up from where it fell, and evolve as a completely reformed and independent entity.

“Our party is now our priority and not the coalition like before.

“There is no more political baggage. In the past there was no room to say ‘no’ or you would be deemed as going against the coalition’s whip.

From his office on the 9th floor of the MCA headquarters in Wisma MCA, Dr Wee says his major task is to put up a team that can move forward to rebuild the party.

“I have been encouraged by people to take up the challenge to provide the leadership, and I am duty-bound to do so,” he said during an interview.

Party president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai announced that he would not seek re-election at the party polls this November, and Dr Wee as his deputy and sole survivor of GE14 is widely seen as his successor.

Dr Wee, a civil engineer who joined MCA in 1992, rose to become the party’s Youth chief in 2008 and deputy president in 2013.

MCA is the second largest component party of Barisan Nasional which lost its hold on the government for the first time since Independence in 1957 following the crushing defeat in GE14.

As one of three MCA ministers in the last four years, the former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department explains that the party, bound by the Barisan Nasional spirit, seldom spoke openly on what transpired in the Cabinet.

This, unfortunately, was perceived by people that MCA had not been able to speak up for them or do anything for them.

Dr Wee said the perception had been compounded by negative statements on MCA and the Chinese community made by other Barisan component party leaders.

Statements which openly ridiculed the Chinese community and renowned figures like Robert Kuok and even MCA as a party in the run-up to the polls were certainly damaging.

The damage control also did not help at all.

“Saying that such issues had been voiced out or dealt with in the Cabinet were grossly insufficient.

“Some justice needs to be done and seen to be done.”

Dr Wee conceded that the Barisan spirit had also turned into a form of constraint on MCA and a baggage most of the time in a modern society where people demand openness and action against issues deemed unfair to the community.

At times, he adds, this “behind closed doors diplomacy” was done with the intention of not wanting to prolong an ugly episode and also to preserve harmony in a multiracial society.

“But obviously, this did not augur well for us.”

Going forward, Dr Wee says the role of the party is how to be an effective Opposition and provide the check and balance in the new regime.

He says he believes this is what the people want from the party and what the party can do for them now that it is in the Opposition.

Dr Wee says he will also be going to the ground to identify the party’s weaknesses and drawbacks that contributed to the defeat of the party.

He points out that these constitute important feedback in the party’s bid to reform itself and move forward.

The MCA central committee – the party’s highest decision-making body – has appointed him to helm the party’s reform committee following the GE14 defeat.

Dr Wee envisages a team of young and talented MCA leaders that can take on the new role of an effective Opposition in a new set-up.

The party, he adds, can provide a platform for them.

He says universal values, public policies and the party’s core struggle will remain the foundation.

Dr Wee also says the party will be rebuilt on all levels.

For instance, he says the party will be preparing for local elections (councillors) as the Pakatan Harapan Government has been pushing for it prior to GE14.

On Chinese education and Chinese new villages, of which MCA has been the guardian since its inception in 1949, Dr Wee says he hopes the new Government can do a better job in taking care of the two institutions close to the hearts of the Chinese.

He is willing and ready to provide help and cooperate with the new Government in the two areas upon their request.

“We (MCA) do what is best for the people. We exist because of the people.”

On the scrapping of two mega projects like the High Speed Rail between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore (HSR) and MRT 3 announced by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad just 22 days after Pakatan Harapan took over Putrajaya, Dr Wee feels the decisions needed in-depth study.

On the merits of HSR, he notes that Kuala Lumpur and Singapore are the two busiest Asean cities, and boosting their connectivity would be a step in the right direction and for mutual economic growth and benefits.

He points out that there are more than 30,000 flights between the two cities a year.

The HSR was scheduled to be completed in 2026, and it would have been just a 90-minute ride between the two cities.

The 350km track, which was to start in Bandar Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur and end in Jurong East, Singapore, would have passed through stations in Putrajaya, Seremban, Melaka, Muar, Batu Pahat and Iskandar Puteri.

On the MRT 3, Dr Wee said the people are enjoying the convenience of MRT 1 and looking forward to MRT 2 which is under construction.

Like any other big city in the world, Dr Wee said, MRTs are the desired mode of transportation.

He hopes the Pakatan Harapan Government can reconsider the scrapping of MRT 3 for the sake of the eight million Kuala Lumpur folk and the development of the capital city.

By Foong Pek Yee The Star

MCA think-tank: HSR cancellation should have followed due process – Centre For A Better Tomorrow (Cenbet)


 

CENBET – Centre For A Better Tomorrow  says the cancellation of the Kuala
Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail should have been announced after the
cabinet’s approval in accordance to due process. – The Malaysian Insight
pic by Najjua Zulkefli, June 1, 2018.

THE cancellation of the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail project should have been made by the cabinet prior to its announcement as a matter of good governance, said the Centre For A Better Tomorrow (Cenbet).


The think tank said while it supported the new government’s efforts to review potentially wasteful projects and lopsided deals, such decisions should have followed due process.

“If decision on a RM110 billion mega-project can be made without stringent due process, we are worried that this may set a bad precedent in deciding other government projects.

“Such decision undermines institutional integrity which should have never been compromised for political expediency,” said Cennbet co-president Gan Ping Sieu in a statement today.

Based on news reports, Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s May 28 announcement to call off the project was made after chairing his party’s supreme council meeting and not in his capacity as prime minister announcing a Cabinet decision.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke was also reportedly said that the matter was not discussed in a cabinet meeting prior to the Prime Minister’s May 28 announcement that the project would be shelved.

“Rightfully, cancelling a project of such magnitude, involving transnational interests, ought to have gone through a more structured decision-making process. This includes preparing a cabinet paper and getting feedback from all relevant agencies and state governments,” explained Gan.

He pointed out that the federal constitution was clear that the cabinet is the highest executive body and the manner in which the announcement was made contradicted the spirit of accountability and transparency pledged by the new federal government.

“The eventual May 30 cabinet decision can be perceived as an afterthought and clearly without going through sufficient consultation,” said Gan.

He added that institutional decision-making process was an integral part of good governance, which Cenbet promotes.

“All major national decisions must be made by the cabinet after due process and consultation to prevent abuse of power and leakages,” he added. – Bernama, June 1, 2018.

Source: The Malaysian Insight

Related post:

Chinese projects in Malaysia may stay intact

Newly-elected Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has decided to scrap the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore Rail

Related:

‘Cancellation of HSR should have followed due process’ – Nation 

Co-president Gan Ping Sieu –CENBET – Centre For A Better Tomorrow   MCA Think Tank

MEDIA STATEMENTS
Co-President Gan Ping Sieu on the Cancellation of the HSR Project

Friday, June 01, 2018

The cancellation of the High Speed Rail project should have been made by the Cabinet prior to its announcement, as a matter of good governance. While we support the new government’s efforts to review potentially wasteful projects and lop-sided deals, such decisions should have followed due process.  >> read more


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 Malaysia scraps MRT3 project, reviews HSR, ECRL mega projects to reduce borrowings

 

Chinese are the unsung heroes of South East Asia, Robert Kuok Memoirs

Malaysia scraps MRT3 project, reviews HSR, ECRL mega projects to reduce borrowings


PUTRAJAYA: The Klang Valley mass rapid transit line 3 (MRT 3 or Circle Line) project, reported to cost between RM40bil and RM45bil, will not proceed, says Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

The MRT3 or MRT Circle Line was planned as the third MRT line for the Greater Klang Valley area.

While the MRT1 connects Sungai Buloh and Kajang, the MRT2, which is now under construction, will run from Sungai Buloh to Serdang and Putrajaya.

MRT3 was planned as a loop line to integrate the lines, with most of its stations underground.

He also said the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail (HSR) was still being studied, while a review was being done on the East Cost Rail Link (ECRL).

He said Malaysia was open to re-considering its decision on the HSR if Singapore could convince Malaysia to proceed with it.

He said the Cabinet had agreed for the rail project to be scrapped, but it would also depend on discussions with Singapore.

“We want to do this as it has high financial implications. But we will listen to them (if Singapore wants to proceed). They are our good partners,” he told the media after chairing the Cabinet meeting yesterday.

He explained that Malaysia needed to reduce its borrowings, hence the decision to scrap HSR and review other mega projects that cost billions of ringgit.

“We have borrowed too much money. If this country is to avoid bankruptcy, we must learn how to manage our big debts by doing away with projects that are not beneficial to the country,” he added.

Later, at a buka puasa event at Putrajaya International Convention Centre, he said the money spent on the HSR project did not justify the number of jobs it could generate.

“If you are going to spend RM60bil to RM100bil so that thousands of people can work, that’s not very efficient,” he said in response to a Facebook post by former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who defended the HSR.

Najib, who asked the Government not to make “an emotional decision” to scrap the project, said the HSR was projected to create RM650bil in gross national income and 110,000 job opportunities, which could expand to 442,000 jobs by 2069.

On the fate of the ECRL, Dr Mahathir said the project has not been called off and a detailed review was being conducted.

“We haven’t cancelled ECRL. We have spent a lot of money on it and need to look at ways to handle this matter,” he said.

According to recent reports, the actual cost of the ECRL could be more than RM55bil.

Dr Mahathir also said the 11th Malaysia Plan mid-term review would be tabled in Parliament in November along with Budget 2019.

“The review will take into consideration the progress of projects carried out from 2016 to 2018, and the Government’s way forward for the remaining period of between this year and 2020,” he added.

Parliament is expected to start its meeting next month, but Dr Mahathir said the dates had yet to be fixed since the appointment of ministers had not been completed.

On whether the Cabinet had decided on the fate of the National Civics Bureau (BTN), he said the matter was still being studied.

The Prime Minister also said no decision had been made on whether the Department of Islamic Develop­ment (Jakim) would be closed.

 

Related post:

SST implementation date among key decisions made by Cabinet

 https://www.thestar.com.my/~/media/online/2018/05/16/04/35/1mdba.ashx/?w=620&h=413&crop=1&hash=ECE23B276AA140BA80725A657A4FE4303340DA4A

Penang new Chief Minister taking Penang to the next level


 

 

 

Man with a plan: Chow elaborating on his vision for Penang during an interview with The Star at Komtar in George Town.

Man with a plan: Chow elaborating on his vision for Penang during an interview with The Star at Komtar in George Town.

 

New CM Chow has a clear vision of how to develop the state into the next five years

 

“Economic growth with environmental sustainability would be an ideal situation rather than sacrificing the envoronment for the sake of development – Chow Kon Yeow”

 

GEORGE TOWN: It’s easy to understand why Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow is such a popular figure in Penang despite hailing from Kuala Lumpur.

Holding the exco portfolio of Local Government, Traffic Manage­ment and Flood Mitigation for the last two terms here was not an easy task, but Chow’s simple, frugal and austere ways won over the people and even his harshest critics.

Now he is in the hot seat as the chief executive. Here, he shares his thoughts on his plans to move Penang up another notch over the next five years, as well as personal and party matters. Below is an excerpt from the Q&A:

How are you keeping after more than two weeks into the top post in Penang?

It’s a continuation of where I left off for 10 years as a state executive councillor in 2008. At the Chief Minister’s office, I deal with a wider range of issues than my portfolios under Local Govern­ment, Traffic Management and Flood Mitigation, which were more focused.

As Chief Minister, I also have to look into investment and economic issues, besides being chairman of Penang Development Corporation, PBA Holdings Bhd and other state statutory bodies.

Which plans do you intend to see through in your first term?

Upon taking office on May 14, I took up the Transport portfolio because I intend to see to the implementation of at least some of the projects under the Penang Trans­port Master Plan (PTMP). It is too ambitious to say that we will implement all the projects, but they will be a priority.

On the projects by Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd (CZC) comprising the RM6.43bil undersea tunnel and three paired roads, we will likely begin construction for one of the three major roads.

As for SRS Consortium, the project delivery partner of PTMP, we will start the Light Rail Transit (LRT) project. Since it is tied to Penang South Reclamation (PSR) in the southern coast of Penang island, the reclamation of three man-made islands will have to start as well to finance the LRT project.

(The PSR is a massive plan to reclaim three islands totalling 1,800ha off the southern coast of Penang island. The success of PTMP, the state government’s multi-billion ringgit public transport project involving LRT, monorail, cable cars and water taxis, depends on funding from property development on the islands.)

One important element here is that people see the reclamation as solely financing the infrastructure projects, which is true in a sense. The man-made islands will not only finance the infrastructure projects, but the lands made available will help meet the development needs of Penang for the next 30 years.

It is near to the Bayan Lepas industrial electronic and electrical cluster. Taking it away from the cluster will not produce the synergy effect.

And preferably, the expansion of our industrial zone into the future must also be near to the cluster and Penang International Airport facilities.

So we can safely say that the three man-made islands are a sure thing?So we can safely say that the three man-made islands are a sure thing? /b>

It is subject to review by the Federal Government. We need approval from the Federal Govern­ment for any large-scale project and the reclamation is one of them. It has to be approved by the National Physical Planning Council. If we can get all the necessary reports to support our application, it will be tabled at the National Physical Planning Council for approval.

You said the LRT component of PTMP is your priority. When can we expect to see it materialise?

We have made a submission to the Land Public Transport Commis­sion (SPAD) since March 2016 for a railway scheme.

Besides the LRT line from Komtar to Bayan Lepas, we have also submitted the other alignment as a full package, as our depot will be built on one of the man-made islands that has yet to be reclaimed. We are still waiting for the environment impact assessment approval.

I believe our application is still active. Hopefully, it will be brought before the Transport Ministry for deliberation and approval.

Previously, it was either an undersea tunnel or a third bridge to link Bagan Ajam and Gurney Drive. What will it be now?

It is still too early to say. We can always make changes because of the cost factor. There is no firm decision on this. CZC will have to complete the feasibility studies first, which are now at 96%.

There is no hurry because even if we were to build the undersea tunnel, it would only take off in 2023.

Right now, CZC’s priority is to start building the 5.7km paired roads starting from Jalan Kampung Pisang in Ayer Itam and connecting with the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Express­way in Gelugor. It is one of the three major roads undertaken by CZC.


What are your thoughts on the claims that CZC paid RM22mil to cover up anti-graft investigations on the mega project comprising the undersea tunnel and three paired roads?

It is entirely up to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to investigate, as it has nothing to do with the state government. We are not the approving authorities.

The concession companies ap­pointed by us are responsible for getting all the approval. What CZC told us was that it was basically political extortion. They were under great duress and had no choice but to believe that the other party could help smooth the process of getting the necessary approval.

This had nothing to do with the state government and we had no prior knowledge of it until it was reported in the media.

Penangites have been plagued by floods on some occasions. What are your plans to resolve this?

The first phase of Sungai Pinang Flood Mitigation project was completed in the late ‘90s and it never went beyond that. This project has been delayed for 18 years.

We need about RM600mil to resolve the problem. The money can be used to build a barrage along the river near the People’s Housing Project in Sungai Pinang. If there is a barrage, backflow from the sea during high tide would not flow inland.

Other components include the construction of pump houses, retention ponds, collector drains along the river, deepening of rivers and the raising of bunds. All these measures are expected to be completed in three and a half years.

We believe these measures will help mitigate floods. All designs can only cater to a certain capacity, so we cannot say that there will be no floods after this.

It is important to secure approval and funding from the Federal Gov­ernment. The Sungai Pinang Flood Mitigation project is vital because it has impact upstream, as there are six tributaries linked to Sungai Pinang.


Many hillslope developments have taken shape, especially in the Tanjung Bungah area, which has drawn concern from environmental activists. What is your take on this?

The current state government will not change the tight guideline of restricting development 76m or 250ft above sea level, although the national guideline can go up to 500ft. The guideline is very restrictive as it will prevent a lot of hill lands from being developed.

This guideline only came into place under the Penang Structure Plan approved in 2007. Before that, approval had already been given to certain developments we can’t stop abruptly. Under this category, there are many projects approved that went beyond the restriction.

I will get the Penang Island City Council to brief me on how much land is still left that is restricted by the guideline. If there is not much land left, we will consider that the guideline will prohibit hillside deve­lopment in the future.

If the guideline is still in place, the people of Penang must confront the fact that there won’t be any development beyond this guideline. Land will become expensive. If there is no reclamation, what will the future hold for Penang island?

Gentrification is an issue in George Town, with foreigners snapping up properties within the Heritage zone. What do you think of this?

Prior to interest in our heritage buildings and before the inscription of the Unesco World Heritage Site, there were a few hundred houses in need of refurbishment. Some houses collapsed during storms.

If you look at the heritage site today, there are few dilapidated houses left due to the interest in heritage properties. The owners have greater appreciation of their value.

My personal stance is to save the house first. If there are buyers, we should save the buildings and negotiate on their use later.

The Opposition in Penang is down to only three representatives – two from Umno and one from PAS. Will they be given any allocation?

They will be given allocation, although the figure may not be the same as the Government’s assemblymen. They rejected it last time, thinking that we were setting a trap on them.

Previously we offered them RM40,000 in annual allocation, but it will be more this time. The funds can be used to support the community, as well as assist organisations in their work and in getting facilities such as fax machines. The funds are meant for the people.

The Opposition is weak in the state assembly. How do you view this matter?

In a healthy Western democracy, when there is a weak Opposition, backbenchers play a more active role in scrutinising government policy. It is a working mechanism. A new check-and-balance in the ruling coalition can emerge to play this role of checking the executives and government on the use of public funds and policy.

Regarding tourism, is there any new programme that your administration would like to introduce to attract visitors within the next five years?

We should be more selective not only in terms of quantity matters, but in terms of quality as well. We need to have niche tourism markets to get high spenders.

At the moment, we cannot be choosy as we need them to fill up our hotel rooms and patronise our local businesses. But there will come a time when it will negatively impact the local environment.

We should move up a notch by focusing on higher spending and business travellers rather than the usual travellers.

In your own opinion, what should an ideal Penang look like?

Economic growth with environmental sustainability would be an ideal situation rather than sacrificing the environment for the sake of development.

Development has to be balanced not only geographically, but also in the strata of society, meaning that the B40 class (households earning RM3,900 a month or less) must be able to benefit from the economic development.

There must be job opportunities and stable income for them. They must not be sidelined or living in poverty without jobs. If jobs can be made available to foreign workers, why can’t it be the same for locals?

You won the Pengkalan Kota state seat in 1990, but lost it in 1995. What was it like having to start from square one?

I was back to full-time party work in 1998 to lead the party after the “Knock Out Kit Siang” internal party strife. After 1999, I was picked as state DAP chairman to continue the party’s struggle in Penang.

What was it like being a DAP-elected representative before and after 2008?

Very different. The government representatives have more resources to serve the people better. But we keep instilling the idealism of our party struggle and the long-term vision to win Federal power into our representatives so that they see a bigger vision for the party and themselves.

Many Penang DAP leaders are now in their 60s. Has the state party leadership identified the next echelon of leaders?

The party made a bold decision by fielding many new candidates in the 14th General Election. They have potential for future development in the Government and party. This is a rejuvenation process to prepare them for the future.

Source: The Star by alex tengtan sin chow

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CM: Transport plan components will be fully funded – Metro … 

 

Rude awakening for storm victims – Metro News – Penang fresh flood again

 

All riled up over slow response – Metro News 

 

Huge landslide in Tg Bungah hill

To Malaysia with love, from the world

BTN up in the Air, the writing is on the wall for BTN


Video:

https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2018/05/29/the-writing-is-on-btns-wall-controversial-agency-has-a-good-chance-of-being-shut-down/

In the 44 years since it began, the National Civics Bureau has evolved into a racial and propaganda machine of sorts. The Biro Tatanegara may
be in its last days as the Government plans to review its relevance in multiracial Malaysia.

 The writing is on the wall for BTN

PETALING JAYA: The days of the National Civics Bureau or Biro Tatanegara (BTN) seem numbered with the Government to look into whether it should keep or abolish the controversial agency.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said BTN and several other government bodies had been turned into political tools by the previous Barisan Nasional government.

“All this will be studied, we may maintain or abolish it. We found that there are many agencies which have been set up not (to benefit) the government but Barisan; but they use government money to pay salaries,” Dr Mahathir told a media conference after chairing the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia supreme council meeting.

Dr Mahathir, who is Pribumi chairman, was responding to a question on the fate of BTN following the Government’s move to abolish several other taxpayer-supported bodies, namely the National Council of Professors and the Special Affairs Department (Jasa).
Set up in 1974 to promote patriotism, BTN has come under fire over the years after numerous complaints about it promoting racial hatred.

The Pakatan Harapan Government in its election manifesto has pledged to dissolve the agency which it said had become a political agent for Umno.

PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar said the abuse of BTN by the previous government was possible grounds to shut it down.

“How many propaganda and brainwashing agencies do we require? BTN has not done much to inculcate a sense of patriotism or belonging,” she said.

The bureau’s director-general Datuk Ibrahim Saad could not be reached for comment.

BTN, which is under the Prime Minister’s Department, conducts courses for civil servants, government scholarship holders and selected students from colleges and universities.

According to DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang, the budgets for BTN multiplied 10-fold in the 1990s (RM200mil) compared to the 1980s (RM20mil), and continued to increase.

From 2010 to 2015, the allocation for BTN totalled some RM365mil.

Veteran journalist Datuk A. Kadir Jasin said it would not be surprising for the bureau to be shuttered.

“If BTN performed a political task and if the Government has already decided to close down other (similar) agencies such as Jasa, then I would imagine that it’s not hard to predict that BTN would or should suffer a similar fate,” said Kadir.

The Pakatan election manifesto stated that Umno and Barisan had abused government programmes to spread narrow ethno-religious politics to influence youths.

“The Pakatan Harapan Government will dissolve the bureau, which over the years had become a cheap political agent for Umno,” it said.

PKR Youth leader Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, who has called for a shutdown of BTN, recounted his own experience with it.

He was a student when he attended one of the BTN camps back in 2003.

“I found the whole affair racial and political in nature. (There were) racial, religious bigotry and hatred against PKR, PAS, and DAP mainly.

“BTN was formed for political purposes. It is outdated. Schools, hospitals and universities need money, so let’s prioritise,” he said.

MCA publicity spokesman Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker said a thorough review of BTN should be conducted before a decision is made.

“There are institutions we can save instead of just being shut down. We need to ensure they are independent and free to pursue positive progressive ideas,” he said.

Ti said a number of institutions started out well but was hijacked along the way by the political masters.

“A lot of this happened during Dr Mahathir’s time, so it is good for him to remedy these issues,” he said.

Umno information chief Tan Sri Annuar Musa said the Government could do what it wished with the bureau.

“My view is very simple; they have the mandate, they are free to do it,” said Annuar.

Parti Rakyat Sarawak president Tan Sri James Masing said the functions of BTN needed to be reviewed in order to reflect Malaysian society.

“The multiracial nature of our society must be strengthened and reflected in every nook and corner of our nation. No one race can claim ownership of this nation,” he said.

Sarawak United People’s Party Youth chief Michael Tiang said any agency that promoted racism and intolerance should be reviewed or even abolished. “Racism and intolerance are never part of the Malaysian spirit,” he said.
Souces : The Star by razak ahmad, sharon ling, hemananthani sivanandam, rashvinjeet s. bedi, hanis zainal, n. trisha

BTN course was a nightmare, says participant

PETALING JAYA: She penned down her experiences attending a team-building course with Biro Tatanegara (BTN) in her diary. And it was not pleasant.
Sahana, as she wanted to be known, recounted how one of the lecturers had picked on her physical appearance.
During one session, the lecturer even poked fun at some of the participants as a way of engaging the class.
“He would say things like ‘ah yang pendek tu, bangun (you, the short one, stand up).”
“I as seated next to an Indian girl when he pointed at my direction. When
I turned to the girl next to me, he said ‘ awak lah, yang hitam, besar tu’ (you, the dark and big sized one) to indicate that he was directing the question to me,” said Sahana, who is now a communication executive.
Sahana, 36, was a first year college student then. Her college had informed the
students that they had to attend a series of lectures and team building
exercises at a camp in Johor.
“We were looking forward to it because we were there with our peers and it was a
long trip away from home. For some of us, it was our first excursion out
of state so we were excited,” she said.
However, the excitement did not last long. The lecturer’s comments embarrassed
Sahana, who cried in class but others including the lecturer just
laughed at her.
“I already had this complex about being a plus size, so naturally, when remarks like that were made, it really hurt me.
“It was a big hit to my self-confidence,” she said, adding that she felt that being dark skinned and large was a big sin.
Sahana wondered why physical appearance and skin colour were highlighted at
the camp that was actually meant to teach participants values and instil
patriotism.
Sahana also found insensitivity when it came to food being served as beef was given to them.
“Not that I am complaining but it made me wonder back then; how a Hindu,
Buddhist or vegetarian would survive when beef was the main dish
served?” she asked.
A parent wrote to The Star to complain that her son was “hounded” for being Indian.
“Throughout the five-day course, he and other Indian participants were constantly
hounded about the actions of the Hindraf movement.
“His friends and him are not supporters nor sympathisers of the group. Yet,
they felt disappointed at the way the instructors kept harping on the
issue at every turn and opportunity,” the mother wrote.
Another parent echoed the sentiment, saying that participants were repeatedly
reminded of the “social contact” in the formation of the country.
“Throughout the five days of the course, participants are repeatedly told not to
question Malay rights and so on,” said the parent, adding that even
Malay friends of the family were upset by the programme’s content.
There, however, were praises for the programme.
“I must say that there were many great people there, especially the
facilitator in my group. I have heard many unpleasant things about it
and I don’t understand why.
“During my stint, I learnt many things from my facilitator, not only of a better
understanding of Malaysia but also the spirit of a Malaysian.
“We, the non-Malays, really appreciated him as our facilitator. We never
felt aggrieved or hurt. Through him, we learnt unity, not disunity,”
wrote a participant.
Another participant wrote of learning more about Malaysia at the programme.
“I learnt more of our own country while having a great time throughout the
activities and group-learning sessions filled with good values,” the
participant said.
How many propaganda and brainwashing agencies do we require… BTN has not done much to inculcate a sense of patriotism or belonging. – Nurul Izzah, PKR vice-president

If the BTN performed a political task and if the Government has already decided to close down other (similar) agencies such as Jasa (Special  Affairs Department), then I would imagine that it’s not hard to predict that BTN would or should suffer a similar fate. – Datuk A. Kadir
Jasin, veteran journalist

I found the whole affair racial and political in nature. (There were)
racial, religious bigotry and hatred against PKR, PAS, and DAP mainly. –
Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, PKR Youth leader
There are institutions we can save instead of just being shut down. We need to ensure that they are independent and free to pursue positive progressive ideas. – Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker, MCA publicity spokesman

‘Move to shut down BTN unreasonable’

PETALING JAYA: While the National Civics Bureau or Biro Tatanegara (BTN)
has drawn flak over the years, there was an effort to improve the body.Umno member Datuk Lokman Noor Adam, who was involved in BTN, said complaints against the bureau had prompted the Government to set up a panel about three years ago to seek improvements.Lokman, who was on the panel, said new modules were then drawn up for BTN.He hit out at the current Government, which he claimed was out to shut
down all agencies perceived to have strengthened the position of Barisan
Nasional.“I am sure that their next target will include Jakim (Department of Islamic Development Malaysia), Mara, Tekun (Entrepreneur Development Centre), Mara Junior Science Colleges, Universiti Teknologi Mara and others,” said Lokman.

Former Kepong MP Dr Tan Seng Giaw, who was also on the panel to rebrand
BTN, said the bureau needed to represent the country’s plural society.“This is 2018 and yet there are Malays, Chinese and Indians whosay racial things. So I told the panel – let’s try to reduce this.“Let’s emphasise tatanegara, which means the discipline of a nation. Let’s make this whole thing non-racial.”He said he was not sure whether his suggestions were subsequentlytaken up, adding that other panellists also gave some good ideas.Dr Tan said BTN should only be closed if efforts to change it failed.

“If we are to shut down everything we don’t like, then why not close ministries and everything else?

“If it is impossible to revive the BTN, then it is reasonable to shut it down. But this is not a question that it cannot be revived but of getting the policy right,” said Dr Tan.

 

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