Call for action on flooding solution


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

Irked residents to hold meeting with state representatives on Oct 29

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: by Intan Amalina Mohd Ali The Star

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That didn’t end well.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: By Simon Khoo The Star

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Humans Are Destroying the Environment

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Simon Khoo The Star/Asian News Network

Authorities fighting an uphill battle against ‘rape of hills’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Anti-graft officers out to stop illegal timber business

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

About RM1mil worth of illegally felled logs were also seized.

By Simon Khoo The Star/ANN
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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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The stalled building defects causing delays of relocation ..


Not ready: (Clockwise from top) The front view of the Batu Ferringhi market in Penang, exposed electrical sockets and cracked floor in the badminton court, and a leaking pipe in the washroom.

 
Defects causing delay of move to RM9mil Batu Ferringhi market

The scheduled relocation of traders to the RM9mil Batu Ferringhi market on Aug 14 is postponed to a later date until shortcomings such as leakage in the washrooms and cracks on the floor are fixed.

Lim checking on the condition of the market.- Photos: ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

SENIOR officers of the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) were left red-faced after Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng spotted several defects in the almost completed RM9mil Batu Ferringhi market during a site visit.

Lim, who was irked with the shortcomings, asked his officers to collect back copies of his text speech given earlier to reporters.

“Before I came in, I went to the washroom. I thought it would be ready.

“But the male washroom was locked and I had to use the unoccupied ladies washroom instead.

“If the market is considered ready (by the council), then it is unacceptable,” he said.

Washroom with missing taps
A leaking pipe pipe in the washroom

It is learnt that the ladies washroom was leaking and some of the taps had yet to be fixed.

Lim, who was walking to the dining area, was stopped by several traders who requested the council delay their relocation into the market which was earlier scheduled on Aug 14.

Speaking to newsmen, Lim said another date would be set.

“We cannot fix a date now until we are satisfied that the shortcomings have been rectified,” he said.

MBPP mayor Datuk Maimunah Mohd Sharif said she would hold discussions with the market contractor and architect.

“Cracks have also appeared on the floor of the badminton courts,” she said.

Maimunah said the council had issued the Certificate of Practical Completion (CPC) for the market but not the Certificate of Completion and Compliance (CCC).

The market was scheduled for completion by the end of last year.

There are 16 hawker stalls, 28 wet and dry market units, a multipurpose hall, a library, three badminton courts, playground, bicycle path, shower rooms and 90 parking bays.

Source: The Star/ANN by Intan Amalina Mohd Ali

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New Mayor for Penang Island City Council


 

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government today decided to appoint Datuk Maimunah Mohd Sharif as the new Penang Island City Council Mayor.

The Seberang Perai Municipal Council (MPSP) president will replace outgoing Mayor Datuk Patahiyah Ismail whose contract ends on June 30 this year.

State Local Government, Traffic Management, and Flood Mitigation Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the decision was made by the Exco today.

He thanked Patahiyah for her services to the state government in her various capacities over the years.

“The contract for Maimunah will be for two years beginning July 1 this year and will end on June 30, 2019,” he said in a press conference today.

Maimunah began her career as an officer in the Town Planning Department of the Council in 1995 and was promoted to the director of the same department in 2003.

In 2009 she was tapped to become the George Town World Heritage Inc (GTWHI) general manager before her appointment as Council president in 2011.

The Council presidency will be assumed by Rozali Mohamud who served as the secretary for the municipality.

He will be replaced by Rosnani Mahmod who served as the Urban Services director for the Council previously.

Rozali will be sworn in as the Council president next Monday (June 3) while Maimunah will assume the Mayorship the following day on June 4.

Aaron Ngui newsdesk@thesundaily.coms
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