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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Graft-busting to expand after Selangor Unisel deal and Penang cases


MACC raids Unisel, MBI and contractor’s office … – The Sun Daily

MACC officers conducting raids on University Selangor, Shah Alam on Aug 22, 2017. — Sunpix by Zulfadhli Zaki

 KUALA LUMPUR: After Penang and Selangor, more states can expect to come under the scrutiny of graft-busters.

“It has been ‘hot’ these days. What other states after this? Let’s wait and see,” hinted Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner Datuk Dzulkifli Ahmad during his speech at the launch of a play, Bahara Emas, which will be held from October to December nationwide in conjunction with the commission’s 50th anniversary.

He said more arrests and charges against the corrupt would take place from now until the end of the year, adding that the days were numbered for those still blinded by material possessions and money.

On allegations that the MACC’s actions on certain parties were “planned”, Dzulkifli stressed that they were not biased in their investigations.

“We don’t choose our targets. Whoever it is, whether they are politicians, civil servants or corporate figures, we will take action.

“Once a report is received and we have determined that it has a strong basis, we will carry out raids and seize documents.

“Once there is enough evidence, only then will we make arrests,” he said, adding that proper planning must be done before his officers moved in “at the right time”.

Earlier in his speech, Dzulkifli revealed his inspiration to make weekly arrests came from a 2015 Indian action movie called Gabbar Is Back, depicting the protagonist’s mission to rid corrupt officials.

“We want to empower the people to stand up and say no to corruption.

“Why? Because the MACC is here with you.

“We are the people’s voice and machinery,” he said.

Citing a case in Penang which caused pollution and another in Pahang over illegal bauxite mining, Dzulkifli said these cases happened due to issues of corruption and abuse of power.

He pointed out that those greatly affected by corruption were the people and not the ones in power, which was why “the MACC is here to carry out a probe”.

By Royce Tan The Star

MACC probes Unisel campus

 

 

 

 

SHAH ALAM: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is currently conducting a raid at Universiti Selangor (Unisel) in Section 7 here.

Six uniformed officers from the national anti-graft body arrived at the campus here at 9.50am on Tuesday in two separate vehicles.

Upon entering the campus’ administrative building, the officers were greeted by staff members who brought them up to the offices.

The MACC is simultaneously raiding four other offices of Unisel, Mentri Besar Incorporated (MBI) and Jana Niaga Sdn Bhd offices in connection with the case.

Several uniformed officers from the MACC going in to the Unisel main campus’ administration office at 11.10am.

Uniformed MACC officers were also at the Unisel main campus in Bestari Jaya.

They are currently conducting a raid at the university’s administration office which is located inside the library building.

Three officers, meanwhile, arrived at the Mentri Besar Incorporated (MBI) office at Bangunan Darul Ehsan, in Shah Alam to conduct a raid.

In KUALA LUMPUR, anti-graft officers are raiding a Jana Niaga office on Jalan 4/76C.

Four officers arrived at 10.25am in a vehicle with heavily tinted windows to conduct the raid.

It is believed the MACC is acting on a report lodged with it against Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azmin Ali and MBI over a dispute between Unisel and its contractor Jana Niaga.

It had been reported that Jana Niaga allegedly received monetary compensation and a new contract from Unisel, despite failing to complete a previous contract.

Source: The Star by danial albakri, m. kumar, andallison lai

Commission raids Unisel, MBI and contractor’s premises to investigate RM16mil payment

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SHAH ALAM: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) carried out simultaneous raids on five locations in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur in its probe of RM16mil allegedly paid by a Selangor government-owned company to a private firm for maintenance work.

The places raided included the Universiti Selangor (Unisel) main campus and office, two offices belonging to the contractor – Jana Niaga Sdn Bhd – and the Menteri Besar Selangor Incorporated (MBI) office.

In all, officers took away 10 boxes and one suitcase filled with documents relating to the payment made by MBI to Jana Niaga for maintenance work of student accommodations at the Unisel main campus in Bestari Jaya.

MACC officers leaving the Jana Niaga office in Desa Pandan after the raid. Jana Niaga was responsible for maintenance work on student accommodations at the Unisel main campus in Bestari Jaya.

Sources said MBI had allegedly made the payment to Jana Niaga via two transactions of RM10mil and RM6mil in 2015 and 2016 respectively.

Initial reports received by MACC showed that MBI had paid Jana Niaga even though its contract had been terminated by Unisel.

The sources added that the MACC probe focused on the reasons why the payments were made even though Jana Niaga had failed to fulfil the contract agreement for the work done in Unisel in 2012.

MACC director of investigations Datuk Simi Abd Ghani said the investigating teams seized documents related to the case from the different locations.

“We’re still in the early stage of our investigations and we will gather strong and sufficient evidence before we proceed,” he added.

MACC officers raided the Unisel main campus in Bestari Jaya and office here, Jana Niaga’s offices in Desa Pandan and Bestari Jaya, and MBI’s office in Bangunan Darul Ehsan here.

At the MBI office, five MACC officers started their inspection at 10.45am and left at 5.50pm with a medium-sized suitcase and a box filled with documents.

Four boxes of documents were taken from the Unisel Treasurer’s office in Section 7 here at 4.30pm after the officers spent nearly seven hours there.

Other MACC officers also went to the Unisel main campus in Bestari Jaya, Kuala Selangor, and left with three boxes of documents at 4.50pm.

A Unisel spokesman said it would give its fullest cooperation to the MACC investigation.

In Kuala Lumpur, four uniformed officers went to Jana Niaga’s office in Jalan 4/76C in Desa Pandan at 10.25am and left carrying two large boxes of documents at 4.26pm.

When approached, one of the officers said the documents were from 2011 onwards. – The Star

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NGO alleges abuse of power by MBPP councillors


GEORGE TOWN: A non-governmental organisation has lodged a report with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) against two Penang Island City Council (MBPP) councillors for alleged abuse of power.

Persatuan Surplus Pulau Pinang chairman Sophian Mohd Zain urged the commission to probe the matter thoroughly.

He said the first case involved councillor Sharuddin Shariff who lives in a public housing unit in Sungai Pinang despite receiving a monthly allowance of RM4,000 from the council.

“This is not right at all,” he said before lodging the report accompanied by former MBPP councillor Syazwani Mohd Amin.

Sophian also lodged another report against councillor Azrizal Tahir whom he alleged held two state-appointed posts.

He said Azrizal as a councillor should not have held the Village and Security Development Committee (JKKK) post and receive allowances from both positions.

When contacted, Azrizal urged the complainant not to trouble the MACC by asking them to probe cases with no basis.

He said those who lodge such reports should do their homework first.

“A press conference will be arranged to explain the matter soon,” he said briefly.

Source: Edmund Lee newsdesk@thesundaily.com


MACC reports filed against PKR duo

GEORGE TOWN: Two PKR’s Penang Island city councillors have denied any wrongdoings as alleged by two non-governmental organisations which lodged reports with the state anti-graft body.

One of them, a four-term councillor, said there were no rules or regulations to prevent a councillor from becoming a village development and security committee (JKKK) chairman.

“But under a state policy which was enforced last year, we were advised not to hold the two positions at the same time.

“I have since let go of my JKKK post. I urge the complainants to check with the district office first and not to hurl baseless allegations against us,” he said when contacted.

Earlier, two NGOs – Persatuan Kebajikan Surplus Pulau Pinang and Kota – lodged reports with the Penang MACC over the alleged wrongdoings of the two councillors in Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah yesterday.

Persatuan Kebajikan Surplus chairman Sophian Mohd Zain claimed one councillor was the JKKK chairman of Permatang Damar Laut.

“A councillor receives allowance from the local government while a JKKK post is appointed by the state government. This is a conflict of interest.

“We hope the state government will clear the air in the name of CAT (Competency, Accountability and Transparency),” he said.

Also present was former councillor Noor Syazwani Md Amin, who was terminated from her post in April.

Sophian also claimed that a first-term councillor still had a People’s Housing Programme (PPR) flat in Sungai Pinang despite having an allowance of RM4,000.

The maximum eligible household monthly income for a PPR applicant is RM2,500.

A councillor is entitled up to RM1,200 in allowances for attending meetings and a RM300 mobile phone subsidy.

“How could he still be holding the key to a PPR flat for a RM100 monthly rental? The PPR flats are meant for the poor.

“The councillors are the policy makers in the local government while the PPR flats are under the purview of the council.

“I don’t think the council staff would dare to act against the councillors,” he added.

Sophian hoped the MACC would investigate the matter.

The said councillor could not be reached for comment.

Source: by Tan Sin Chow he Star

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Anti corruption agency MACC to interview Lim, and Norlela who did the right thing


Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) will call up Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and Penanti assemblyman Dr Norlela Ariffin to facilitate investigations into the Sungai Lembu’s illegal factory case.

GEORGE TOWN: Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and Penanti assemblyman Dr Norlela Ariffin are ex­­pected to be called up by the Ma­­­laysian Anti-Corruption Com­mis­­sion (MACC) to give statements over the illegal factory in Kampung Sungai Lembu, Bukit Mertajam.

MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki con­­firmed that both would have their statements recorded at a suitable time.

“This is a normal procedure to call up them up as they have talked about the matter publicly.

“Their statements are needed to complete the investigations,” he said.

Sunday Star reported that the MACC is investigating two letters, which appear to have originated from state executive Councillor Phee Boon Poh, asking that no ac­­tion be taken against an illegal factory.

The letters, written in 2015 and 2016, directed the Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP) from shutting down the carbon filter-processing factory which has been operating illegally for the past 10 years.

Phee was remanded five days since Saturday together with factory director Edmund Gan Eu Leong, 37, and his father Gan Buck Hee, 70, who is the factory mana­ger.

It is understood that a third MPSP officer has also been summoned to give his statement.

On Friday, two officers from the Enforcement Department and the Licensing Department were also called up.

“They were not arrested,” Azam said.

He added that the MACC also conducted several raids and seized do­cuments from Phee’s office at Kom­­tar and his house in Sungai Puyu.

Yesterday, MACC officers spent more than an hour at his service centre in Jalan Ong Yi How in Butterworth. With them was Phee.

It was learnt that the MACC also raided two of his houses in But­­terworth yesterday.

In Alor Setar, an attempt by lawyers representing Phee and two others to quash their remand order was rejected by the High Court.

Judge Hashim Hamzah told Ramkarpal Singh, R.S.N Rayer and Dev Kumaraendran that their application should have been filed at the Penang High Court as it was the “suitable forum” for the matter.

Ramkarpal said they would file an application at Penang High Court today.

The MACC and several enforcement agencies first raided the factory on Thursday following complaints from villagers that its fumes could affect their health.

Meanwhile, MCA religious harmony bureau chairman Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker criticised DAP for “bullying and blaming” Dr Norlela for her request to the authorities to take action against the factory.

He said DAP cannot play the victim card now because Malaysians are beginning to see the party’s hypocrisy when it comes to corruption issues.

“DAP should allow the MACC to do its work without any hindrance and own up when their leaders are embroiled in corruption,” Ti said in a statement.

Transparency International Ma­­laysia president Datuk Akhbar Sa­­tar said MACC should be allowed to investigate the case professionally and fairly without fear or favour.

“Let the due process take its course and let us wait for the outcome of the investigations,” he said.

Source: The Star by Crystal Chiam Shiying and Lo Tern Chern

Norlela did the right thing – She’s merely fulfilling her duty to constituents, says state Gerakan Chief

Geroge Town – State Gerakan chairman Teng Chang Yeow has defended Penanti’s PKR assemblyman Dr Norlela Ariffin, who has been voicing out concerns on the illegal factory operation in Kampung Sungai Lembu.

“What we are concerned about is that the matter had been dragged on for so long.



“Her complaints fell on deaf ears for so long, so you can’t penalized her.



“She has raised it many times, in the state assembly, to the authorities and Village Security and Development Committee, but there was no action,” he told a press conference after attending the State Delegates’ Conference 2017 at the state Gerakan Heeadquaters in Macalister Road yesterday.

It was reported that Dr. Norlela denied that she was responsible for the action being taken against an illegal carbon filter processing factory in Kampung Sungai Lembu.

She refuted the accusations in a Facebook post on Saturday, saying that she had highlighted complaints from her constituents.

Dr. Norlela said she was disappointed that she was blamed for the arrest of state exco member Phee Boon Poh.

Commenting on several past actions against Dr. Norlela, including having a state allocation to her constituency withheld pending her written explanation for not attending the Yang di-Pertua Negri’s swearing-in ceremony in May, Teng said Gerakan may have differences with other Barisan National component parties, but it never penalized them.

He said that when Gerakan led the government, he had faced criticisms from MCA representatives but no action was taken against them.

Gerakan president Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong opened the event. – The Star

Gerakan defends PKR’s Norlela over Penang illegal factory issue

GEORGE TOWN: Penanti assemblyman Dr Norlela Ariffin should not be penalised for speaking up on the illegal factory in Kampung Sungai Lembu, said state Gerakan chairman Teng Chang Yeow today.

“Being the state assemblyman of the constituency, she had every right to raise questions about the illegal factory.

“She was merely performing her duty,” he said during a press conference here, today.

He was responding to Norlela’s claim that she was treated like a criminal after expressing her gratitude to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) for taking action against the illegal factory.

“Thank you to the MACC for solving the issues which have been plaguing the villagers there. We have been doing our best to help the villagers,” she had said in a Facebook posting recently.

She had said that in May this year, she received an 18-page petition, signed by 180 villagers, objecting against the illegal carbon filter factory.

“I raised several questions at the state legislative assembly sitting the same month. The state environment committee chairman had said the factory was burning 2,000 tonnes of sawdust monthly to be turned into activated carbon for water filters,” she had said.

On Thursday, MACC and other agencies raided the factory in Bukit Mertajam after numerous complaints to the authorities fell on deaf ears.

This was followed by further raids at the Seberang Perai Municipal Council licensing department offices and state Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh’s office, service centre and houses.

Phee is being remanded for five days pending investigations into an illegal factory in Kampung Sungai Lembu in Bukit Mertajam.

He was detained after he went to MACC’s office to have his statement recorded on Friday.

Yesterday, Norlela revealed that she had been treated like a criminal since Phee’s arrest.

Source: NST By BALVIN KAUR

MACC gets more statements in illegal factory case

BUKIT MERTAJAM: No one has yet to be charged over the illegal carbon filter processing factory in Sungai Lembu as graft-busters are still investigating the case and gathering evidence.

Three Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers showed up at the village yesterday and were seen talking to several residents there for about an hour in a coffeeshop.

Sungai Lembu Village Development and Security Committee (JKKK) chairman Tan Sing Lee and some businessmen staying and running businesses near the factory were later summoned to the MACC office in Butterworth to give statements.

“Initially, they wanted to record our statements at the coffeeshop but on seeing the press, they told us to go to their office instead,” Tan said.

Tan arrived at the MACC office with JKKK secretary Yeo Keng Chuan at about 1.30pm and left about 45 minutes later.

A spokesman for the MACC said it had recorded statements from several people, and that no arrest was made.

“We are still investigating,” he said.

Penang state executive councillor Phee Boon Poh, together with factory director Edmund Gan Eu Lee, 37, and his father Gan Buck Hee, 70, were arrested by the MACC on Aug 11.

But all walked free last Monday after their remand orders were set aside by the High Court.

The spokesman said the MACC would be appealing the court decision.

Meanwhile, Gerakan took Penang PKR assemblymen to task for not defending Penanti assemblyman Dr Norlela Ariffin against the barrage of attacks that came after she exposed the illegal factory.

“Why haven’t the men in PKR come to her aid? Are they so afraid of being victimised by DAP?” said state Gerakan vice-chairman Oh Tong Keong.

“What is also baffling is that the incident happened in the PKR fortress of Permatang Pauh,” he told a press conference.

He claimed that what happened to Dr Norlela was nothing new because Tanjung Bungah DAP assemblyman Teh Yee Cheu was also sidelined for speaking the truth.

Meanwhile in Kota Kinabalu, MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki said no investigation paper has been opened in the acquisition of the Grand Borneo Hotel by Felda Investment Corporation (FIC), purportedly at a higher market price.

He said it was still premature to suspect any wrongdoings in the purchase of the three-star hotel (in Kota Kinabalu).

“We are not moving in as yet. Our focus is still on the ongoing probe on FIC’s purchases of the two hotels in London and Kuching.

“Besides, there is still a need to compare the valuation reports during the time of purchase and the actual value of the Kota Kinabalu hotel,” he said when contacted.

Azam was asked to comment on a report suggesting that the MACC was to conduct a probe on a third hotel managed by FIC.

The Grand Borneo was said to have been acquired by Felda for RM86.4mil in 2012.

Azam said there were no plans to send MACC officers to Sabah.

Sabah MACC director Datuk Sazali Salbi also said that his state officers were not involved in any probe over the matter.

It is learnt the MACC would focus on completing the ongoing probe first as the remand order for Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad ends tomorrow.

On Tuesday, the former Felda chairman was arrested by the MACC after he was called in to give his statements over FIC’s purchase of hotels in London and Kuching.

The MACC is investigating suspicion of power abuse and corruption in the purchases of the two hotels.

So far, anti-graft officers have visited Mohd Isa’s houses in Selangor, Nilai, Linggi and Seremban, as well as his office at the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) headquarters. Mohd Isa is acting SPAD chairman.

It was reported that cash amounting to RM100,000 was seized from a safe in one of his houses. – The Star.

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Stop blaming past Penang govt’

 

 

Factory’s burning sawdust pits greet DoE inspection team

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No protection for corrupt in Penang govt, says Guan Eng | Free …

 The Penang government will not protect any of its officials … Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng says he believes state exco man Phee Boon … Phee, who is in charge of the welfare, caring society and environment portfolio, was arrested yesterday by the MACC over alleged misuse of power.

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Too good to be true? Think twice


 

HAVE you ever grabbed an offer without any hesitation, simply because the price is too cheap to resist?

Many of us have this experience especially during sales or promotional campaigns. We tend to spend more at the end or buy things which we are uncertain of their quality when the deal seems too good to say no.

It may be harmless if the amount involved is insignificant. However, when we apply the same approach to big ticket items, it can cause vast implications.

Recently, I heard a case which reinforces this belief.

A friend shared that a property project which was selling for RM300,000 a few years ago is now stuck. Although the whole project was sold out, the developer has problem delivering the units on time.

The developer is calling all purchasers to renegotiate the liquidated and ascertained damages (LAD), a compensation for late delivery.

One of the homeowners said he is owed RM50,000 of LAD, which means the project is 1½ years late. When we chatted, we found that he purchased the unit solely due to its cheap pricing without doing much research in the first place.

The incident is a real-life example of paying too low for an item which can leave us as losers, especially when it involves huge sum of investment, such as property.

To many, buying a house maybe a once-in-a-lifetime experience, a decision made can make or break the happiness of a family.

A good decision ensures a roof over the head and a great living environment, while an imprudent move may incur long-term financial woes if the house is left uncompleted.

Nowadays, it is common to see people do research when they plan to buy a phone, household item, or other smaller ticket items.

Looking at the amount involved and implication of buying a house, we should apply the same discretion if not more.

It is always important for house buyers to study the background of a developer and project, consult experienced homeowners regarding the good and bad of a project before committing.

I have seen many people buy a house merely based on price consideration.

In fact, there are more to be deliberated when we commit for a roof over our heads. The location, project type, reputation of a developer, the workmanship, the future maintenance of the property etc, are all important factors for a good decision as they would affect the future value of a project.

Beware when a discount or a rebate sounds too good to be true, it may be just too good to be true and never materialised. If the collection or revenue of a housing project is not sufficient to fund the building cost, the developer may not be able to complete the project or deliver the house as per promised terms. At the end of the day, the “price” paid by homeowners would be far more expensive.

In general, the same principle applies elsewhere. It is a known fact that when we pay a premium for a quality product from a reliable producer, we have a peace of mind that the product could last longer and end up saving us money. Some lucky ones will end up gaining much more.

For instance, when we purchase a car, we should consider its resale value as some cars hold up well, while others collapse after a short period. Other determining factors include the specifications of the car, the after sales service, and the availability of spare parts.

Quality products always come with a higher price tag due to the research, effort, materials and services involved.

In addition to buying a house or big ticket items, other incidents that can tantamount to losing huge sums are like money games, get-rich-quick scheme, or the purchase of stolen cars or houses with caveats.

When an offer or a rebate sounds dodgy, the “good deal” can be a scam.

Years of experience tells me that when what is too good to be true, we should think twice. I always remind myself with a quote from John Ruskin (1819-1900) who was an art critic, an artist, an architect and a philosopher. “It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money – that’s all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do.

“The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot – it can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.”

Food for thought by Alan Tong

Datuk Alan Tong has over 50 years of experience in property development. He was the world president of FIABCI International for 2005/2006 and awarded the Property Man of the Year 2010 at FIABCI Malaysia Property Award. He is also the group chairman of Bukit Kiara Properties. For feedback, please email feedback@fiabci-asiapacific.com.

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Penang exco man held in graft probe for abuse of power


 

 

Arrest linked to illegal operation of carbon filter factory in Bukit Mertajam

For 10 years, a factory has been illegally burning sawdust to produce carbon for filters, forcing villagers and schoolchildren in parts of Bukit Mertajam to breathe dust-laden smoke every day. The matter has now flared up with the arrest of Penang exco man Phee Boon Poh and two of the factory’s directors by the MACC. All three are set to be remanded today.

GEORGE TOWN: An illegal carbon filter processing factory has become a burning issue in Penang with the arrest of state executive councillor Phee Boon Poh and two factory di­­rectors by graft-busters from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commis­­sion (MACC).

All three are expected to be remanded today.

The factory in Kampung Sungai Lembu in Bukit Mertajam was in the news on Wednesday when MACC officers raided its premises and seized several documents.

Yesterday, a team of five MACC officers raided Phee’s office at Level 53 in Komtar at about 11.30am and took away more documents.

Phee, who chairs the state Wel­­fare, Caring Society and Envi­­ron­­ment Committee, was asked to report to the Penang MACC headquarters in Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah. He was arrested at 3.30pm when he turned up at the MACC building.

MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki said Phee was detained under Section 23 of the MACC Act for abuse of power.

The section provides for a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine of up to five times the value of the bribe or RM10,000, whichever is higher.

The 66-year-old Phee was brought back to his house in Butterworth at about 5pm in his car and escorted by two MACC vehicles. It is learnt that he packed some personal be­­longings from his house before lea­­ving for the state MACC headquarters at 7.05pm.

The MACC also arrested a 70-year-old man and his 37-year-old son, the manager and director of the factory, at 6.05pm and 6.35pm respectively.

The two were summoned to the state MACC headquarters to give their statements before they were detained.

Lawyer R.S.N. Rayer, who accompanied Phee to the Penang MACC headquarters, said the exco man was asked to meet MACC officers after 2pm.

“I was informed that they (MACC officers) went to his office and took some documents including letters that he wrote. They wanted to re­­cord his statement regarding the documents.

“He gave his full cooperation and presented himself at the MACC office. I am surprised that he was arrested,” he said before leaving the state MACC building at about 4.30pm.

Earlier, the five MACC officers spent more than an hour in Phee’s office.

Shortly after they left, Phee and four assistants walked out of the office.

Phee declined to comment on the raid.

He is the second member of the current Penang state administration to be arrested by the MACC.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng was arrested in June last year over the purchase of a RM2.8mil bungalow in Pinhorn Road.

He was subsequently charged with using his position as the Chief Minister of Penang to gain gratification for himself and his wife, Betty Chew Gek Cheng, by approving the application for conversion of agriculture land to a public housing zone in south-west Penang to the com­­pany, Magnificient Emblem Sdn Bhd.

He allegedly committed the of­­fence while chairing the Penang State Planning Committee meeting at the operations room in the Komtar building on July 18, 2014.

The charge under Section 23 of the MACC Act 2009 provides for imprisonment of up to 20 years and a fine of up to five times the sum or value of the bribe, or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.

Lim faces a second charge of using his position to obtain a plot of land and a bungalow located at No 25 Jalan Pinhorn, George Town, on July 28, 2015, from businesswoman Phang Li Koon for RM2.8mil, a price which he allegedly knew did not commensurate with the property’s market value at the time of RM4.27mil.

The charge, under Section 165 of the Penal Code, provides for a jail term of up to two years or a fine, or both, upon conviction.

Late last night, Lim was among several DAP leaders and members who turned up outside the state MACC headquarters to stage a candlelight vigil in support of Phee.

Source: The Star by crystal chiam shiying, chong kah yuan, lo tern chern, andlogeiswary thevadass

10 years of smoke in the eyes for villagers

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BUKIT MERTAJAM: For about 10 years now, the villagers of Kampung Sungai Lembu have been forced to breathe air laden with pollutants. Children going to school at SJK(C) Kampung Sungai Lembu also have had to put up with the thick dust.

The air is thick with a burning smell from the processing activities at an illegal carbon filter processing factory, just 1km away from the school.

The 5,000sq-m factory, about the size of a football field, has piles upon piles of sawdust, much of it burning in deep pits.

The tall chimneys spout white pollutant-filled smoke into the air which is carried to the nearby villages by the slight breeze.

A source from the Department of Environment revealed that the factory also did not have an air pollution control system.

Kampung Sungai Lembu Deve­lop­ment and Security Committee chairman Tan Sing Lee, 58, said the factory also carried out open burning of sawdust to produce carbon.

“Every time the wind blows our way especially in December, the air is polluted. At night, the air is foggy and villagers complain about the smell,” he said.

“We reported the matter to Penanti assemblyman Dr Norlela Ariffin but no action was taken in the past two years,” he said.

The factory is also situated inside an oil palm estate, on land designated for agriculture.

Tan claimed a man in his 30s died in 2015 after he fell into one of the pits while filling it with sawdust.

A check by The Star at the factory yesterday found 20 pits, each measuring about 3m across. The pits were filled with burning sawdust and there was smoke everywhere. The sawdust is burnt to produce carbon which is then used in filters.

Permatang Pauh Umno chief Da­­tuk Mohd Zaidi Mohd Said claimed there may have been people in­­volved in covering up the issue before the raid on the factory by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commis­­sion (MACC) on Thursday.

“Several reports have been lodged against the factory.

It is impossible for the Seberang Prai Municipal Council to not be aware of it,” he said during a press conference in Kampung Sungai Lembu.

Also present was Parti Cinta Malaysia deputy president Datuk Huan Cheng Guan.

PKR rep Norlela glad over action against illegal factory

 

BUKIT MERTAJAM: Penan­ti’s PKR assemblyman Dr Norlela Ariffin (pic) is pleased that action is finally being taken by the MACC over an illegal factory in Kampung Sungai Lembu.

Dr Norlela said she raised the issue of the carbon filter processing factory more than two years ago. “The villagers told me about their concerns in February 2015. I raised the matter at the state assembly sitting but no ac­­tion was taken for two years,” she said.

It was in November that Dr Norlela broke down and sobbed uncontrollably at the assembly, clai­­ming the state government had failed to respond to her queries.

She lamented then that she had complained of many woes like illegal factories, frequent flooding and the lack of infrastructure like roads and proper jetties for fishermen.

“Early this year, before the state assembly sitting, villagers handed me an 18-page petition, appealing for the factory to be closed as they claimed it was affecting their health.

“It was also found that the factory was not operating according to guide­­­­lines,” she said yesterday.

In May, her allocation was withheld after she did not show up at the Yang di-Pertua Negri’s swearing-in ceremony.

Earlier this month, she complained that funds collected for flood mitigation had not been used to help her constituents.

“In Penanti alone, there are nine flood-prone areas that could greatly benefit from these funds,” she re­­portedly said, citing the Auditor Ge­­­ne­­ral’s Report 2016 Series 1 which revealed that the Seberang Prai Municipal Council had only used RM2.2mil of RM63.39mil collected from 2008 to June 2016.

Dr Norlela is among several as­­sem­­blymen who have been at loggerheads with the state leadership, often criticising it for not carrying out its duties or for not caring about the environment,

Last month, she praised the Sungai Buloh-Kajang MRT project and took a swipe at the Penang Transport Master Plan by comparing the construction cost of both projects in a video she posted on social media.


DAP’s lone ranger faces his biggest test

GEORGE TOWN: Two-term Pe­­nang executive councillor Phee Boon Poh, 66, gained fame as a vocal opposition leader when he took on 38 Barisan Nasional representatives in the state assembly when he was the sole DAP assemblyman from 2004 until 2008.

Despite being overwhelmed, the “lone ranger” raised many issues.

Although PAS was represented by Mohd Hamdan Abdul Rahman, it was Phee who questioned the policies of the state administration headed by Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon.

Phee began his political career by winning the Bagan Jermal state seat in 1990, only to lose it to Barisan’s Tan Sri Dr Sak Cheng Lum in 1995.

In 1999, he contested the Sungai Puyu seat but lost to Barisan’s Loo Ah Dee. In 2004, he wrested it from Loo with a 607-vote majority.

In 2008, he retained his state seat with a 9,201-vote majority and was appointed state Welfare and Caring Society chairman.

He later took over the environment portfolio from state exco member Chow Kon Yeow.

In the 2013 general election, he beat MCA’s Sum Yoo Keong by 16,207 votes.

Phee is a distant relative of businesswoman Phang Li Koon, who has been charged with abetment in the two corruption cases against Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.


MACC probes Phee’s letters – Directing council to ‘stay away’ under investigation

Phee Boon Poh mobbed by the media after he was remanded in George Town. — ZAINUDIN AHAD and ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

PENANG: The Malaysian Anti-Corrup­tion Commission (MACC) is investigating two letters, which appear to have originated from state executive councillor Phee Boon Poh, asking that no action be taken against an illegal factory.

The letters, written in 2015 and 2016, directed the Seberang Prai Municipal Council from shutting down the carbon filter-processing factory which had been operating illegally for the past 10 years.

The MACC is also investigating whether Phee or his officials had authorised the letters telling the council to back off.

As Phee and two of the company’s directors were remanded yesterday, the MACC is expected to call up a DAP state assemblyman for questioning.

The MACC is believed to be investigating the role of this state assemblyman in the case.

It is understood that MACC is also probing the relationship between Phee and the factory owners.

It wants to find out how the factory could operate openly despite complaints from the villagers nearby.

“The illegal factory is on an agro-based land. (We want to know) why it has been able to operate without any action (taken against it),” a source told Sunday Star.

 

Too close for comfort: The illegal carbon filter-processing factory still operating and its proximity to Kampung Sungai Lembu and surrounding areas near Bukit Mertajam. 

When contacted, MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki said the anti-graft body will carry out a thorough probe and look into all angles.

Azam said investigations will focus on the element of abuse of power.

“We have opened an investigation paper under Section 23 of the MACC Act.

“We will look into whether one of the suspects has given (any form of) protection to the illegal factory to enable it to continue operating the last 10 years,” he said.

He declined to elaborate further as investigations were ongoing.

Sources said anti-graft officers revisited the house of the state exco member in Sungai Puyu on the mainland to look for more evidence to assist in the probe.

It is not immediately known if documents were seized.

The homes and offices of two other suspects will also be revisited as part of the probe.

More arrests are expected in the coming days as investigations into the case widen.

Source: The Star by simon khoo, crystal chiam shiying, lo tern chern, akil yunus

Related Links:

No protection for corrupt in Penang govt, says Guan Eng | Free …

 The Penang government will not protect any of its officials … Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng says he believes state exco man Phee Boon … Phee, who is in charge of the welfare, caring society and environment portfolio, was arrested yesterday by the MACC over alleged misuse of power.

 

Phee and two others remanded for five days

 

Ilegal factory caused dirty air, say villagers

 

Arrest is to whitewash corruption, claims Kit Siang

 

Two MPSP officers hauled up

 

PKR rep Norlela blamed for Phee’s arrest

 

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Malaysia must retool education, skills to adapt to knowledge economy

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Malaysia must retool education, skills to adapt to knowledge economy


KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia needs to reinvent its education system to adapt to the knowledge economy, which has led to a sharp reduction in unskilled jobs and spike in demand for data analysts.

Tan Sri Andrew Sheng, Distinguished Fellow of Asia Global Institute, University of Hong Kong, said Malaysia needs to retool its education and skills, and experiment across the spectrum, in positioning itself in the new economy.

“Formal education is outdated because of the speed of new knowledge. Companies do not spend on ‘on the job’ training, because of cost cuts and staff turnover,” he said during his presentation at the NCCIM Economic Forum 2017 yesterday.

Between 2007 and 2015, the loss of unskilled jobs was 55% relative to other jobs while demand for data analysts over the last five years has increased 372%.

In the global supply chain, old economy companies are quickly losing their edge as digitisation moves faster than physical goods while unskilled jobs will be quickly replaced by robotics due to the fast adoption of artificial intelligence (AI).

“Moving up the global value chain is about moving up knowledge intensity. If you don’t get smarter you won’t get the business.

“We are already plugged into the global value chain. We are very successful in that area but we cannot stay where we are. Remaining still is no longer an option. We need to move from tasks to value added growth to high value added production. In order to do that, we need to learn to learn.”

Sheng said the Malaysian economy is doing well but faces many challenges, including subdued energy prices, growing trade protectionism, geopolitical tensions and is still very reliant on foreign labour.

“Are we ready for the new economy? The way trade is growing is phenomenal but the new economy’s challenges are great and very complicated politically because technology is great for us as it gives us whatever we want but at the cost of our jobs,” he said.

When education fails to keep pace with technology, the result is inequality, populism and major political upheaval.

“What the new economy tells us is that robotics or AI (artificial intelligence) calls for Education 4.0, which means that we have to learn for life,” he said.

Sheng noted that Malaysia has successfully moved quietly into education services, medical tourism, higher quality foods, all through upgrading skills, branding and marketing.

“But formal education has become bureaucratised, whereas we are not spending enough on upgrading our labour force, prefering to hire imported labour,” he said.

Although Malaysia cannot compete in terms of scale and speed, especially against giants such as China, it can compete in terms of scope with strength in diversity, soft skills and adaptability.

“We are winners … but have we got the mindset?” Sheng questioned.

He said Malaysia must upgrade its physical technology through research and development, harness its unique social technology and digitise its business model in order to create wealth.

While the government can help, he added, true success comes from community self-help irrespective of race or creed, and retired baby boomers who have wealth of experience must mentor the youth to start thinking about the new economy.

Eva Yeong, sunbiz@thesundaily.com
Related Links:

 Andrew Sheng – Institute for New Economic Thinking

Andrew Sheng
is a distinguished fellow at Fung Global Institute, chief adviser …
member of Khazanah Nasional Berhad, the sovereign wealth fund of Malaysia.

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Andrew Sheng – Project Syndicate

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