Pay to win the dubious vanity awards


BBB Tip: Vanity Awards

Allure of vanity awards hard to dismiss

Your organisation may deserve an award but be aware of vanity awards disguised as legitimate prizes.

A vanity award is less of an honour because the recipient essentially has to fork out money for it. An organisation is asked to purchase the award by paying a high entry fee, sponsorship or other charges.

It is a business model that transcends borders and industries with US non-profit organisation Better Business Bureau issuing warnings about such schemes in the United States and Canada since 2008.

Even government bodies have been known to pay for vanity awards.

In 2017, The Star reported the Penang Municipal Council and Seberang Prai Municipal Council had revealed that they might have fallen for a vanity awards scheme by the Europe Business Assembly (EBA) in 2013 and 2014. (See related posts below)

Penang Island City Council mayor Datuk Maimunah Mohd said they won the EBA awards without assessment by any judges after paying a total of €7,800 (RM39,088) in entry fees.

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

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

Two European NGOs – the Center for Investigative Reporting of Serbia (CINS) and the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) – exposed the EBA titles as a vanity awards scam.

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

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

In 2011, The Star highlighted the proliferation of dubious awards due to high demand for such prizes.

The report said some organisers were giving out less-than-credible awards and then asking the “winners” to sponsor or buy dinner tables at lavish presentation events.

The asking price for such sponsorships ranged from RM4,000 to RM30,000, with some companies admitting they paid up for fear of business rivals getting the awards instead.

The organisers also banked on these companies’ need for recognition to boost their business. These companies treated such sponsorship as investments.

The Star reported that when demand for such awards increased, the “supply” can be raised simply by creating new categories.

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Having to pay for a ‘win’ 

Legitimacy of money-making awards ceremonies questioned

 

‘Honours’ list: Adeva giving a speech at its awards ceremony in Kuala Lumpur. Screencap from APTTF’s Facebook page.
‘Honours’ list: Adeva giving a speech at its awards ceremony in Kuala Lumpur. Screencap from APTTF’s Facebook page.

Like most other people, leaders in the business world take pride in receiving recognition for their hard work and achievements. They also see value in being considered as among the best. These sentiments have helped spawn a lucrative mini industry built on award ceremonies that are more about earning money than honouring and encouraging excellence.

Businessmen have raised questions over the growing number of award programmes whose organisers demand payments from those who are supposedly nominated for prizes. The charges range from administrative fees to sponsorship.

Entrepreneur Jan Wong said he had been contacted by 10 different award organisers congratulating him on winning their awards but with one big condition.

“I was told that to qualify for the awards, I needed to pay for the nomination, a table (at the awards ceremony), marketing exposure or the trophy ,” said Wong, who was in Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list in 2017.

“If I don’t want to pay, I won’t win,” he added. He questioned the prestige of such awards.

There are similar concerns about a recent travel industry awards ceremony in Malaysia by a little-known organisation called the Asia Pacific Tourism and Travel Federation (APTTF).

Participants said they had doubts about the Asia Pacific Tourism and Travel Awards after the event turned disorderly. The Tourism Minister did not show up although the organiser said he would. Some winners received the wrong awards, while several others were not given their awards that day.

“The chief executive officer’s explanation as to why they did not present our awards was that they had misplaced a box of trophies in the office,” participant Melissa (not her real name) said.

“When he was closing the event on stage he even asked if he had missed out any awards. But we were too polite to speak up.”Melissa said many award categories had five winners each. There was one category with about 30 winners, she added.

She said the event was supposed to be a prestigious gala dinner but it turned out to be a low-budget conference-style luncheon.

Participants paid RM575 to RM755 per seat or RM4,500 per table to attend the April 11 ceremony in a Kuala Lumpur hotel. There were about 200 award recipients.

In its promotional materials and conversations with participants, the APTTF claimed that Tourism Malaysia and Malaysia Airlines (MAS) had endorsed and supported the awards ceremony.

However, both organisations have denied any such affiliation.

“Malaysia Airlines is not associated, has not endorsed nor has any involvement with the APTTF,” MAS told The Star.

Tourism Malaysia said it is not a member of the federation and that the APTTF Malaysian Chapter is not a recognised travel association.

“The APTTF Malaysian Chapter is not registered with the Registrar of Societies and is not found in the Companies Commission of Malaysia’s MYDATA portal,” said Tourism Malaysia, adding that it had declined the invitation to attend the awards ceremony.

Further checks by The Star revealed that the website photo of the APTTF chairman is a stock image (an image provided by an agency that can be used for a fee).

The website also has the text of a speech by the chairman addressing the award winners. He has a Japanese name that does not show up elsewhere in an Internet search.

According to former APTTF employees, the people behind the Asia Pacific Tourism and Travel Awards had also organised the Asia Lifestyle Tourism Awards (ALTA) through an organisation called Asian Sports Group.

“My job was to call hotels all over South-East Asia to convince them to join the APTTF as a member. The hotels had to pay a fee and an award would be given when they joined,” said Jeff (not his real name).

“We actively name-dropped tourism ministries to convince the hotels and tour operators to sign up,” he said, adding that the organiser also operated under the name ASG Management Group Sdn Bhd

.Sarah (not her real name) said she was tasked to organise ALTA 2018 which was supposed to be held in Shenzhen in September 2018. However, the event was cancelled although participants had purchased tickets to the event.

“The event didn’t happen because the company didn’t exist,” she said.

Thailand-based hotel operator Paisal Panchalad, who is among those affected by the cancellation of ALTA 2018, said the company did not reimburse the US$1,605 (RM6,638) he had paid despite multiple assurances from the CEO.

“CEO Adeva Sangkuni informed us that he would refund all money but he did not do that,” he said, adding that there were many others with the same complaint.

Sarah was not surprised that several winners of the KL awards ceremony last month did not receive their prizes. She said a similar thing happened in ALTA 2017, leading to a big hotel brand in Malaysia boycotting the organiser.

Sarah and Jeff said they suspected something was amiss with the company after discovering that many of the officials listed on the websites were fake.

The former employees claimed that the company did not pay their salaries during the one to two months that they worked there in mid-2018.

Last year, they lodged reports with the Companies Commission of Malaysia, Labour Department and the police against APTTF and ASG Management Group over the companies’ unregistered operations and the unpaid salaries

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Related stories:

APTTF’s CEO claims event received verbal support from ministry

‘Award winners’ feel the burn after falling for prestigious prize scam



Related posts:

 

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

Malaysian Public varsities, companies, GLC execs also recipients of EBA fake awards

 

Malaysian Public varsities, companies, GLC execs also recipients of EBA fake awards

New Mayor for Penang Island City Council

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

 

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Check on coming monsoon floods in Penang !


Wake-up call: The floods that hit Penang in 2017 exposed its lack of flood mitigation and disaster  preparedness.

GEORGE TOWN: The south-west monsoon season is expected to start sometime this month, prompting fears of flooding and falling trees here.

As dark clouds hang over Penang almost every morning now to herald the coming monsoon, talk of flooding in the state assembly sitting on Tuesday led to several lawmakers and the Speaker himself wanting to have a say.

“I am aware that some government agencies belittle the efforts of assemblymen who highlight flooding and other problems.

“As legislators who face the rakyat, they are carrying out their duties and I hope that the relevant agencies will take them seriously and not make fun of them,” said Speaker Datuk Law Choo Kiang during the day’s proceedings.

Lim Siew Khim (PH-Sungai Pinang) told the assembly how she and Ong Ah Teong (PH-Batu Lanchang) suffered verbal insults when visiting flood victims in Kampung Bukit Dumbar, where homes were flooded seven times, including a few days before the recent Chinese New Year.

This led to Dr Norlela Ariffin (PH-Penanti), Ong and Teh Lai Heng (PH-Komtar) to also stand up and voice their grouses.

Outside the hall, Ong said government officers handling flood problems tend to ignore the pleas of assemblymen.

“We are all in the same WhatsApp groups. When we highlight floods, they never respond,” he said.

Teh told the assembly that government officers don’t face the residents but the assemblymen bear all the insults from flood victims in their constituencies.

Dr Norlela said when she attended the monthly district meetings and called for strict enforcement to end the source of floodings such as deforestation, her pleas were often met with silence.

While the Sungai Pinang Flood Mitigation Plan – delayed for 20 years – has begun again with renewed federal funding, many are worried that the south-west monsoon will still bring back the floods this year.

Scientists Sheeba Nettukandy Chenoli and Chai Heng Lim, in a research paper published last November in the “Journal of Atmospheric and Solar-Terrestrial Physics”, found that the onset of the mid-year monsoon will be on May 19 with a standard deviation of eight days.

State Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said this was the season when rain coinciding with extra high tides fuelled by the super full moon could lead to severe flooding.

“Between May and June, strong winds stir up huge tidal waves that are not safe for small boats,” he said.

A freak storm on Sunday caused several trees to fall on Penang island, one of them in Tanjung Bungah falling on a passing car.

To keep falling trees in check, State Works Committee chairman Zairil Khir Johari said a special committee was ironing out a method to pass the care of public trees from the Public Works Department (JKR) to Penang Island City Council (MBPP).

“JKR specialises in building and caring for roads and bridges but MBPP has a full landscaping team that includes arborists.

“This team has the know-how to care for public trees and recognise diseased trees that must be felled before they become a hazard.

“We are finalising a method for MBPP’s landscapers to have island-wide jurisdiction of roadside trees and be granted access to federal grants for their maintenance,” he said.

By Arnold Loh and R. Sekaran The Star
Read more ..

 

Expecting the unexpected

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It’s time for Penang to reinvent itself; RM70bil to be raised from the 3 man-made islands to finance LRT, PIL infrastruture under PTMP


Looking ahead: An aerial view of Penang’s Free Industrial Zone. Penang
is banking on land reclamation to the south of the island to help fund
the state’s economic development.

ALMOST three decades ago, my then news editor Nizam Mohamad tried to convince me to work in Kuala Lumpur instead of remaining content in Penang, but like most Penangites, I enjoyed the slower pace of life on the island.

The food was good, the beach was marvellous, and I could be with my sweetheart, now my wife. I had my friends, who were my schoolmates, and my family members.

Finally, when the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit was held in KL in 1990, Nizam asked me to “help out with the coverage”.

When I reported for duty, he handed me my transfer letter on the spot. It was as simple as that, and I remember he told me that “you would go nowhere if you remain in Penang”.

For decades, skills migration and brain drain, and the lack of high-quality job opportunities, has been Penang’s Achilles heel.

Shoe designer Datuk Jimmy Choo wouldn’t have become a world icon had he remained in George Town. The same fate could have befallen sports personalities Datuk Lee Chong Wei and Datuk Nicol David had they, too, not moved to KL.

Munich-based Datuk Ooi Chean See would have no renowned orchestra to conduct if she were still in Penang, and Hong Kong-based fund manager, Datuk Seri Cheah Cheng Hye, wouldn’t be a billionaire had he stayed put in the state.

Nizam was right, and I am thankful for his foresight. Like many of my fellow islanders, our careers have moved up and onwards since moving to the nation’s capital, given its greater opportunities.

Penangites, many of whom now work outside the state, generally also lack properties in the state because we no longer live there. The rental yield simply doesn’t make business sense for investment.

The truth is, Penang is stagnating and hasn’t been able to reinvent itself. The state remains dependent on the electrical and electronics (E&E) sector. Putting it more accurately, with a GDP of RM80bil, half of Penang’s economy is reliant on this sector with the other half on tourism and the services industry.

Despite having achieved a high growth rate of 11% per annum between 1970 and 2008, growing from RM790mil in 1970 to RM49bil in 2008, GDP growth rate has slowed down to 5% for the past 10 years.

The past decade also saw GDP per capita easing off to 4% per annum, and with inflation at 3% per annum, the standard of living for Penangites has been on the decline, relative to the past four decades.

Growing up on the island, where I spent much time at the Batu Ferringhi beaches, we all know why it’s now hard for Penang to compete against the likes of Bali, Phuket and Koh Lipe as its beaches and water have simply lost their lustre.

Penang can no longer call itself the “The Pearl Of The Orient” or even “Penang Leads”, a tagline locals revelled in during the era of then Chief Minister Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu.

The state is losing ground in tourism, especially with it having not invested sufficiently in this sector, a situation compounded by how cities around the world are reinventing themselves.

In the E&E sector, we are trapped between China and Vietnam, two fast-moving low-cost locations, while Singapore and Taiwan portray highly skilled research and design centres. Basically, we’ve lost out on both ends.

More discouraging is how Penang, especially the island side with its premium value, has run out of land for safe development, open spaces and infrastructure.

Much of the state’s people are unaware that almost 40% of Penang’s land is classified as Class III or above. This classification means that the terrain is sloped at more than 25 degrees, measured from a horizontal plane.

These are the foliaged hilly and sloppy terrains subjected to undue pressure from hillside developments. Recent catastrophes of landslides, floods and fatalities remain etched in our minds.

It has become increasingly difficult to buy homes on the island, and it’s common knowledge how rich Singaporeans have snapped up the pre-war homes in heritage sites there for a song.

As land becomes scarcer, the manufacturing and services sector will not be able to grow and will remain stunted.

That could all change soon with the state and federal governments now under the rule of the same political coalition. The state needs to accelerate its inevitable transformation which will fundamentally change the way Penangites live and work, and it needs to embrace digital economy, globalisation and urbanisation. To put it succinctly, Penang must brand itself a Smart City.

In other countries, there is always a second city – Beijing and Shanghai, Sydney and Melbourne, Hanoi and Ho Chin Minh, New York and Los Angeles. However, George Town has never been able to capture the second city status (partnering KL), and it must now compete with Johor Baru for that prestigious identity. Penang has severely lagged.

Understandably, most Penangites are averse to change. Putting up buildings doesn’t mean development, and besides, no one comes to Penang to see skyscrapers. The quality of life is important, and it’s fortunate that Penang has a vibrant civil society.

The non-governmental organisations are alert and outspoken, and that’s what a mature democracy should be like – keeping a close eye on politicians.

But Penang can’t remain stagnant, so it needs land. All around the world, land reclamation is a norm. Just look at Singapore and Hong Kong. Manhattan wouldn’t exist if New York didn’t add land to it. And if Johor hadn’t done the same, Singaporeans can see Johoreans from their flats, as they reclaim without any debates.

“Location, location, location” is the mantra of land developers. The plan to create three man-made islands, totalling 1,821ha (4,500 acres) under the Penang South Reclamation Scheme (PSR) is proof of heading in the right direction. The RM70bil deal involves the construction of the RM9bil rail transit (LRT) line, the RM9.6bil Pan Island Link 1 (PIL1) and other supporting infrastructure projects under the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP). see more below …

Land may be in abundance on the mainland, but the island is the preferred choice, because in terms of value, it has always fetched higher prices. Having the three islands next to the Bayan Lepas Industrial Zone, the Penang International Airport and the Second Penang Bridge is the right thing to do.

Malaysia’s E&E industry is centred in Bayan Lepas, contributing RM120bil in exports, and these islands will help boost this crucial sector further, and encourage Penang to reinvent itself as a digital economy.

A properly planned transport link is long overdue. For years, I have made it a point to return to Penang for the reunion dinner days ahead of Chinese New Year, simply because I can no longer handle the stress of traffic jams on the island.

The final straw was when a jaga kereta boy demanded RM10 for my car, which was parked near Kek Lok Si temple where my wife used to live, because “you have a KL number plate” and “you are not a Penangite”.

Although Penang was the first state in Malaya to introduce a tram system (in the 1880s), the streets there are simply too narrow. So, while it sounds good in theory, it’s just not practical.

Going above the streets – like what modern rails do – is the right thing, and such an “elevated” move will remove the chaos each time it rains and transforms George Town into a huge canal.

The bottom line is, the E&E sector is stagnant, tourism earnings have reduced, Penang isn’t on the global business map, traffic congestion is horrendous, housing on the island is unsustainable and worse, the best brains will not come to Penang for career advancement.

You can have investments, but it doesn’t make sense if the best talents are not attracted to work in the state. There is only so much char koay teow one can eat in Penang.

It’s no good for Penang to be a pick for expatriate retirees. Instead, we need it to be a choice for the workforce, both Malaysian and foreign, from the knowledge economy, supporting services, manufacturing and renewed tourism industries. Penang must move up the value chain to reclaim its lost stature of “Penang Leads”.

By Wong Chun Wai – comment The Star

RM70bil will be flowing in from here 

 

Penang can expect to raise over RM70bil through projects

This is the plan – set up three man-made islands under the Penang South Reclamation Scheme and then, rake in enough to finance the state’s economic development for the next 30 years.

GEORGE TOWN: Over RM70bil is expected to be raised from the three man-made islands under the Penang South Reclamation Scheme (PSR), enough to spearhead the state’s economic development for the next 30 years.

Sources told The Star that out of the more than RM70bil, about RM46bil would be used for the construction of the RM9bil light rail transit (LRT) line, the RM9.6bil Pan Island Link 1 (PIL 1), and other supporting infrastructure projects under the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).

According to a prominent Penang developer, the present price of industrial land on the island would be around RM70-RM200psf, depending on its status as leasehold or freehold land.

Because the industrial lots on the island are freehold land, the pricing is around RM20psf.

“When the reclamation of the islands starts in 2020, there could be at a 10% appreciation. The island will be sold via an open tender process,” he said.

It will take at least six years for the reclamation, which will be done in stages, to be completed.

It was previously reported that sources had said that about 75% of the three islands were for sale, with some 30% of the enquiries received so far being for industrial land.

When contacted, a local manufacturing company said it would be interested to bid for the lots once an open tender was called.

“There’s currently a slowdown in the manufacturing sector. When the reclamation is done, the global economy should also see a recovery,” said its spokesman.

The National Physical Planning Council is expected to approve the reclamation of the three islands, totalling 1,821ha (4,500acres), before the end of this month.

The SRS Consortium – a 60:20:20 joint venture involving Gamuda Bhd, Loh Phoy Yen Holdings Sdn Bhd and Ideal Property Development Sdn Bhd – is the project delivery partner, appointed by the state government to oversee the implementation of the LRT, PIL 1 and PSR scheme, components of the PTMP.

It was also earlier reported that the tender to reclaim the island would be out in the third quarter of this year.

Island A will house industrial projects – which lots will be developed for sale to foreign and local investors to generate funds for PTMP – and residential development, while Island B will accommodate the state administrative offices and commercial properties.

Residential properties will be developed on Island C.

The LRT is an integrated transport solution comprising a monorail link, cable cars and water taxis to solve traffic congestion in Penang while the 19.5km PIL highway project connects Gurney Drive to the Penang International Airport.

The LRT begins from Komtar in the northeast corner of the island and passes through Jelutong, Gelugor, Bayan Lepas and the airport before ending at Island B.  – The Star

Read more  

 

Risky business of overseas ‘jobs’ , Don’t get conned, Malaysians warned !


The promise of lucrative salaries are luring many Malaysians abroad but most are scams leaving these job seekers cheated and in need of rescuing.

The promise of lucrative salaries are luring many Malaysians abroad but most are scams leaving these job seekers cheated and in need of rescuing.

IT is ironic that at the same time there is an ongoing crackdown on illegal immigrants in the country, Malaysians are being detained in countries like Cambodia, South Korea and even Liberia.

These detentions have increased in frequency to the extent that Wisma Putra has issued a warning to “remind all Malaysians to be cautious of opportunities offered in foreign countries, and always verify the prospective employers”.

It used to be that foreigners (read: South Asians and South-East Asians) were drawn to Malaysia’s booming property and service sectors for better paying jobs.

They still are. On Monday, as part of operations codenamed Ops Mega 3.0, some 73 illegal immigrants, from Bangladesh, Indonesia, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Myanmar, were held by the police under the Immigration Act. These foreigners were working at the Selangor wholesale market without proper work documents.

But how times have changed. The roles appear to be reversed, the Malaysians that have been detained overseas were for exactly similar offences – no proper work documents.

This time last year, The Star’s Bahasa Malaysia news portal mStar Online revealed that there was an estimated 5,000 Malaysians working and staying illegally in South Korea. The less fortunate ones were forced to live like refugees, always on the run from the authorities.

These Malaysians were lured by job advertisements that claimed they could earn a lucrative living in the land of K-pop. They paid recruitment agents thousands of ringgit in fees and entered South Korea with tourist visas.

Some of these Malaysians interviewed by mStar spoke about the hardships they faced including poor living conditions, tough working environment and employers holding back their salaries.

The Korean police and its justice ministry have begun cracking down on these illegals, starting from last month. Those without proper documentation will be immediately deported.

But Malaysians never learn. Two recent cases highlight the need for employees to be more vigilant and for the authorities to crack down on fly-by-night recruitment agents.

First, the case of the 47 Sarawa­kians who were detained in Cambo­dia since Dec 11 last year on charges of cheating and initiating and carrying out illegal online gambling activities.

It was reported that the Malay­sians were promised jobs with lucrative salaries up to US$1,500 (RM6,100), and only found out that it was a scam when they arrived in Cambodia.

Their plight was highlighted in local media, and Wisma Putra, other leaders and representatives from Sarawak flew to Cambodia to secure their release. They were finally released on Feb 15.

The second recent case also involved Sarawakians. Eight of them were left stranded in Monro­via, Liberia, since Feb 4 after being offered logging jobs with wages up to RM9,000.

They were left stranded in the African nation without any money, and managed to survive because they were given rice by Malaysians working with Sime Darby in Liberia.

“If not for the rice, we would definitely be dead,” said Aji Surau, 39, after arriving at KL International Airport on March 4, one month after their ordeal.

He said they were abandoned in a house with no water and electricity and even resorted to eating papaya leaves to survive.

All these cases have one thing in common – dodgy job syndicates.

These unscrupulous agents rake in thousands of ringgit by promising the world to gullible locals.

“I want to advise Malaysians to be cautious when getting job offers overseas because this is not the first such incident.

“Check with the authorities concerned, especially the Malaysian representatives, whether the company offering the job is legitimate or not,” Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah told reporters after the Liberian detainees were released.

The Cambodia and Liberia incidences appear to be genuine cases of people who were promised legitimate work contracts. But for every genuine case, there are five others who play the “victim” card.

In some countries where Malay­sians are caught working illegally, they claimed that they were lured there with guarantees of proper employment with legal documentation. But the reality is that these people went overseas on tourist visas with the sole intention of getting a job, by whatever means.

Did you know that Malaysians are the worst visa abusers when it comes to overstaying in Australia?

According to a 2018 report from the Australian Department of Home Affairs, there were 62,000 people overstaying their visas and living illegally in Australia, with Malay­sians making up the largest number. Between 2016 and 2017 alone, 10,000 Malaysians had overstayed!

As a result of this blatant abuse of tourist visas, the Australian authorities have made it harder for Malaysians to enter the country.

Australian-based news site news.com.au quoted a source from the Malaysian mission in Australia as saying that more Malaysians are being turned away at the airports, despite having the necessary visas approved before departure.

These visa scams are not only giving us a bad name, but also making it more difficult for genuine Malay­sian tourists to visit Australia.

The latest “tourist” scam is via social media where syndicates are luring people to become drug mules by offering them cash and opportunities to go for tours abroad. But beware, if you’re caught deportation is the least of your problems. A stiff jail sentence or even the death penalty awaits.

Brian Martin

Brian Martin

Brian Martin, executive editor of The Star, would like to come
clean. He has vested interest in the proposed assessment rate hike since
he’s a resident of Kuala Lumpur.

Don’t get conned, Malaysians warned

 Labour Dept: Only use services of licensed private recruitment companies

From “interviews” in coffeeshops to being persuaded to work in war-torn countries with lucrative salaries, Malaysians are being increasingly conned into travelling to work overseas, only to run into trouble.

This has prompted the Labour Department to advise those wishing to work overseas to only use the services of licensed private recruitment companies.

Seeking the services of licensed private job agencies under the Labour Department as provided in the Private Employment Agencies Act (1981) would help one avoid being conned or exploited by unscrupulous agents or employers overseas, it said.

“There’s a possibility that high salaries offered has become a pull factor in enticing Malaysians to work overseas.

“The Labour Department is always carrying out enforcement activities under the Private Employment Agencies Act (1981) to monitor the activities of illegitimate agencies and agents,” it said in response to questions by The Star.

The Labour Department, which is under the Human Resources Minis­try, was responding to queries about the increasing media reports highlighting Malaysians being conned in overseas jobs.

While the Labour Department said it did not have any records on the numbers of overseas job scam cases affecting Malaysians, it encou­rages those with information on such cases to come forward.

“We have not received reports on job scams. However, victims can file a report with the Labour Department, including in Sabah and Sarawak for any job scams issues so that we can act accordingly,” it said.

MCA Public Services and Com­plaints Department head Datuk Seri Michael Chong said many of the job scam victims he encountered were enticed to work in Afri­can or Middle Eastern countries.

“Many of these countries are war-torn and so these ‘employment agents’ would tell the victims there is a lot of construction work to rebuild the country.

“These victims are mostly semi-skilled or unskilled workers who are attracted to the salaries which are supposedly from RM6,000 to RM10,000 a month,” he said.

However, he said, these victims were then cheated out of their salaries and left with little to no protection in a foreign country.

To stop these scams from occurring, he urged those interested to find work to carry out background checks on the company.

“You must make sure that there is an incorporated company so if anything happened to you, there is a company we could look for,” he said.

He also advised people to be wary if the salary offered is too good to be true, or if the job interview doesn’t take place in the company’s office.

“There are some ‘interviews’ which are even being conducted in coffeeshops,” said Chong.

He said he noticed more of such cases in recent years, especially as many Malaysians want to go overseas to eke out a livelihood.

Last December, 47 Malaysians were detained in Cambodia for being involved in illegal online gambling activities.

It was reported that they were offered jobs with lucrative salaries but had only found out that it was a scam when they arrived in Cam­bo­dia.

In February, eight Sarawakians were stranded in Liberia after allegedly being cheated by an employment syndicate.

The Malaysian Em­­ployers Fede­ration called for a dedicated government agency to help protect the welfare of Malaysians who go overseas to work.

Its executive director Datuk Sham­suddin Bardan said this was to prevent them from being exploited and falling prey to illegal job syndicates.

“We have more than one million Malaysians working overseas but we have no proper body to monitor their affairs,” he said yesterday.

He noted that the Filippine government would ensure that their citizens who are sent overseas to work are properly trained and that they are employed by a legitimate company.

“The Filipino government would ensure that there is a proper document signed between the employer and agent, and if anything happens to the worker, the agent will be held responsible.

“We should emulate the Philip­pines to help our workers who aspire to work overseas,” he said.

However, he said the grim reality was that many Malaysian workers were enticed to work overseas because of the attractive pay, even if the details surrounding the employment were unclear.

“Employees are attracted to the higher wages offered in those countries, where the income promised triple or even quadruple what they are earning in Malaysia – and most of these jobs do not require high level of skills such as picking fruit.

“A difficult economic situation in Malaysia with the rising costs of living also contribute to the problem.

“We must re-look at our employment practices, how we remunerate our employees and develop our talent,” he said.

Malaysian Trades Union Congress secretary-general J. Solomon agreed that better policies and enforcement were needed to monitor the outflow of Malaysian workers to other countries.

“The authorities and their relevant agencies need to know where Malaysian workers are going when they travel overseas,” he said.

He said tighter enforcement was especially needed as more false job advertisements were disseminated easily on various social media platforms.

“It is high time the Cabinet review and encourage companies to comply with minimum wage level,” he said.

The low wages in Malaysia and the stigma of 3D (dirty, dangerous and difficult) jobs cause Malaysians to desperately seek employment outside the country, he added.

“These factors are causing Malay­sians to go elsewhere to find alternative sources of income,” he said.

By Fatimah zainal and Clarissa Chung The Star

 

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A RM53mil road in Balik Pulau no one wants, now a township will be taking shape there on dangerously unstable mangrove swamps, and the Penang govt isn’t aware of it !!


Ongoing work: A general view of the road project linking Kampung Sungai Pinang to Kampung Pulau Betong.

Ongoing work: A general view of the road project linking Kampung Sungai Pinang to Kampung Pulau Betong.


It’s is unnecessary and the money is better spent elsewhere, says locals

BALIK PULAU: The government’s move to build a RM53mil road linking Kampung Sungai Pinang in the north to Kampung Pulau Betong on the south-western end of the island has got local folks fuming.

Fisherman Wan Mohizan Wan Hussein is one such person. The 52-year-old said the project would threaten Balik Pulau’s image of being “one with nature”.

“It would be better to spend the money on flood mitigation in the area,” he suggested.

“If it rains for two hours straight, there will definitely be flooding. That’s something that should be addressed,” he said.

Wan Mohizan said furthermore, the new road would be built along an existing narrow dirt trail and he felt that prices of land in the vicinity would increase.

“What if developers start coming here and offer to buy Balik Pulau farmland for development? Can we stop them?

“This side of the island is flat and easy to develop. The road can change Balik Pulau,” he said.

Balik Pulau is the “last hinterland” of Penang island, a flat farmland of about 1,000ha with narrow dirt trails.

For the first time since Penang was founded in 1786, this land on the island’s rustic eastern side will get a two-way tarred 10.2km road stretching almost the entire north-south length.

But the road construction has left many wondering why this road was being built through mangrove swamps, padi fields, shrimp ponds and oil palm estates.

Another fisherman, Mazlan Sahib, 48, said the new road was unnecessary and it would only welcome over-development.

“There are hardly any residents living there so it doesn’t make sense to have it at all.

“The project might also be a threat to the mangrove swamps along the coast,” he added.

Balik Pulau’s Simpang Empat resi­dent Zainudin Ahad wondered why the government planned to build a new road when the existing Jalan Baru that ran parallel to the new road about 3km away never experienced traffic congestion.

“I thought we need new roads only when existing roads are congested.

“The only traffic jam we get in Balik Pulau is in the town itself.

“There is never any traffic jam in the kampung area, so why give us a new road?” Zainudin questioned.

Kuala Sungai Burung Fishermen’s Association committee member Abd Malik Man, 55, said there was talk about the road project since the Barisan Nasional government.

“We thought that the project would be shelved. I didn’t think the new government would go ahead with it,” he said.

Abd Malik said many residents in the area around the new road were living or farming on government land and their leases might be over soon.

“The government has all the right to develop the land but the long-term impact should be taken into consideration,” he cautioned.

Even Balik Pulau MP Muhammad Bakthiar Wan Chik was dumbfounded by the new road.

He urged the Rural Development Ministry to look into more pressing areas that need the funds, beginning with flood mitigation, a new hospital and traffic snarls in the heart of Balik Pulau town.

“The new road is not top priority and does not serve much purpose,” he pointed out.

“I hope the ministry will practise stakeholder consultation with the locals and hold town hall meetings to see what the residents want.

“Neither the locals nor me knew that the road project was approved and the construction had begun,” he said.

He also appealed to the ministry to foster entrepreneurial projects for Balik Pulau’s numerous cottage industry products including bedak sejuk (cooling powder, a traditional facial treatment product), nutmeg, otak udang (prawn paste) and salted eggs.

By arnold loh and intan amalina mohd ali The Star

Parts of controversial road run along mangrove swamps

BALIK PULAU: The state government had tried to stall plans for a new road in Balik Pulau’s coastal farmland by insisting on an application for planning permission.

State Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said he had asked for realignment proposals of the road because stretches of this new road will run along the edge of the mangrove swamps.

“When the 2004 tsunami hit us, the mangrove swamp saved Balik Pulau from the worst effect.

“We also agree that the swamps are vital breeding grounds for the jumbo prawns that our inshore fisherman can catch when they are in season.

“So we want the road to be away from the swamps,” he said.

State Works Committee chairman Zairil Khir Johari said the requirement for an environmental assessment (EIA) impact report was initially done away with because the proposed road was to run along the existing dirt trail and the footprint was therefore too small to need an EIA.

“If there is proof that a tarred road through the western coastline of the island will impact the environment, we will not hesitate to require an EIA,” he said.

When told of the sentiments of the locals, a senior officer in the Rural Development Ministry declared that the ministry would immediately conduct a stakeholder consultation on the road construction.

“We renegotiated the road project because it was first proposed in 2016 and we did not want any more delays.

“But since there are signs that locals find the road unnecessary, we will go to the ground at once and find out what the Balik Pulau community wants,” the spokesman assured.

It is understood that the budget for the road comes from the 10th Malaysia Plan in 2015 and the state was willing to surrender 11.5ha of land along the route without asking for the premium, which came up to RM18mil, for the 10.2km two-way street.

Things changed after the general election when the Rural Develop­ment Ministry renegotiated with contractors and brought the price down to RM53mil from the initial ceiling budget that was over RM78mil.

As is permissible for government projects, the state government subsequently waived the need for planning permission and state approval was given late last month.

Rural Development Minister Datuk Seri Rina Mohd Harun visited the newly begun road construction last month.

Meanwhile, cycling enthusiasts were disappointed that the new road would be built over a dirt trail that made up the Balik Pulau Eco Bike Trail.

“This is a popular route for cyclists to enjoy some light off-road mountain biking across Balik Pulau’s rustic farmland,” one cyclist said.

A netizen, Adrian Chan, also wrote on Balik Pulau MP Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik’s Facebook page: “We already have Jalan Baru (a two-way street serving villages in Balik Pulau). Just upgrade or widen it.

“We should keep the cycling trail. That is the only (rural) asset in Penang island.

“Batu Maung, Bayan Lepas all gone with the concrete like Queens Bay.

“Visitors from overseas really admire that we have a cycling trail with the nature view.”

Balik Pulau residents riled after finding out about latest development

 

BALIK PULAU: While residents in Balik Pulau are unhappy with a new road being built, it has been revealed that there’s actually a proposal to set up a new township on this last hinterland of the island.

A developer from Kuala Lumpur has promised farmers a payout of at least RM120mil to turn a strip of rural land on western Penang island into a township with nearly 600 houses, four blocks of high-rise buildings and two blocks of shoplots on top of community amenities.

It wants to develop 36ha of oil palm estates along which will soon be a new road for which the Rural Development Ministry is spending RM53mil to build.

When the road project was announced by the federal government last mid-December, many Balik Pulau residents were left wondering why the 10.2km road was needed along 1,000ha of oil palm land, shrimp ponds and mangroves, with hardly anyone living there.

Even the state government is left dumbfounded and completely unaware of plans to develop this countryside.

“This is something new to me. I don’t remember ever seeing a proposal to develop that area or to convert the land use.

“We have got to find out what is being planned. Is the ministry building that road for the developer?

“At first, we were unhappy that the road is being built right beside the mangrove swamp and we wanted another alignment away from it.

“And now we find out a developer has plans to build a township there.

“We will find out what is going on,” state Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh told The Star, stressing that the road was a federal project and the state was kept in the loop about it on a “for-your-info” basis.

In a filing to Bursa Malaysia on Jan 30, the public-listed developer announced that it has entered into a joint-venture development agreement with Koperasi Kampung Melayu Balik Pulau Berhad to build 276 terraced houses, 214 semi-detached houses, 91 double-storey bungalows, two 16-storey blocks of condominiums, two 16-storey blocks of low-cost flats, two blocks of retail shoplots, a school, mosque, community hall and other public amenities on land which the co-op owns.

The 36ha is specified as being on Lots 254, 804 and 803 of the area.

A check with the Malaysia Co-operative Societies Commission database shows that the co-op exists though no other information on its members are available.

The developer guarantees in writing that the co-op will earn RM120mil, out of which RM45mil will be in cash payouts and the remaining will be given in the form of units built on the land.

It will be an 80-20 joint venture between the developer and the co-op, respectively.

The developer informed Bursa Malaysia that the gross development value of the joint venture deal is RM600mil.

In its Bursa Malaysia filing, the developer specified that the deal is conditional upon the successful extension of the land lease to 99 years, re-zoning of the land use category, and approval of all relevant building plans. The current status of the land is unclear.

For the first time since Penang was founded in 1786, the island’s rustic western coastline will get a two-way tarred road stretching almost the entire north-south length, from Bagan Sungai Pinang to Pulau Betong.

The road was first proposed by the federal government in 2016 and initially, the state Town and Country Planning Department requested the Public Works Department to apply for planning permission from Penang Island City Council.

The initial budget for the project was RM78mil and after the general election, the new government renegotiated with contractors and brought the price down to RM53mil.

Earlier, state Works Committee chairman Zairil Khir Johari said that the state waived the planning permission requirement after being convinced that the footprint of the road, which will be built along an existing dirt trail that villagers have used for decades, would be small.

The road construction began in December.

‘Risky to build on ex-mangrove swamps land

BALIK PULAU: A mangrove ecologist has warned of the risk of development encroaching into mangrove swamps, and the risks are for people and buildings.

Dr Foong Swee Yeok predicted that the road or planned property development on the eastern coastline of Penang island would not endanger the swamp or wildlife.

But she said the future road and buildings might suffer because the land on Balik Pulau’s coastline is all ex-mangrove swamp land, and there could be as deep as 25m of mud and clay down below.

“Developers will know how to pile deeply until they reach the bedrock for high rises, but there is no piling requirement for two-storey homes.

“You see nothing wrong in the first 10 years or so, but after that, things start sinking.

“Roads become wavy, uneven and start breaking apart,” she warned.

Dr Foong, who has been studying mangrove swamps since 1996, explained that the thick column of peat, mud and clay below the swamp is high in organic matter and once disturbed, it is prone to shifting over a long period after development.

“Waterlogged and anaerobic peat in the swamp becomes aerobic when drained. Then you get biological oxidation or mineralisation of the organic deposits. That is why the soil will sink,” she pointed out.

She said in developed ex-mangrove swamps on the island, such as parts of Bayan Lepas and Batu Maung, there have been numerous instances of buildings sinking and cracking after a few decades and this was due to the slow shifting of the mud and clay below.

Dr Foong also urged authorities to look into the operations of over 40 shrimp or fish dugout ponds fronting the land which a developer from Kuala Lumpur plans to build 276 terraced houses, 214 semi-detached houses, 91 double-storey bungalows, two 16-storey blocks of condominiums, two 16-storey blocks of low-cost flats, two blocks of retail shoplots, a school, mosque, community hall and other public amenities.

She said the tens of tonnes of shrimp and fish reared in the ponds produced vast amounts of nitrate and ammonia pollution.- The Star

 

Related:

MBPP, contractor, engineers and DOSH named as responsible in fatal Penang landslide

MBPP, contractor, engineers and DOSH named as responsible in fatal Penang landslide


https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/02/14/landslide-report-blames-contractor-mbpp-and-dosh/?jwsource=cl

Deputy Chief Minister I Datuk Ahmad Zakiyuddin Abdul Rahman, who is the committee chairman, said the MBPP as the owner of the project had failed in its overall responsibility to supervise the project despite having appointed Jurutera Perunding GEA as representative of the superintendent officer. NSTP/MIKAIL ONG

MBPP among four named as responsible in fatal Penang landslide

GEORGE TOWN: Four parties have been identified as being responsible for the fatal landslide at the construction site of the paired road at Jalan Bukit Kukus last October incident, including the Penang Island City Council (MBPP).

A special investigation committee set up by the Penang government following the fatal landslide at the construction site also named the other three parties, namely the contractor Yuta Maju Sdn Bhd, the consultant, Jurutera Perunding GEA (M) Sdn Bhd and the independent checking engineer G&P Professional Sdn Bhd.

Deputy Chief Minister I Datuk Ahmad Zakiyuddin Abdul Rahman, who is the committee chairman, said the MBPP as the owner of the project had failed in its overall responsibility to supervise the project despite having appointed Jurutera Perunding GEA as representative of the superintendent officer.

“By appointing Jurutera Perunding GEA, it does not mean that the council is free from responsibilities to ensure the success of the project from all aspects.

“As such, any actions to be taken against the council will depend on the outcome of investigations by the police, the Department of Occupational Safety and Heath (DOSH) and the Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) into the incident,” he said when making public findings of the investigation committee.

Ahmad Zakiyuddin said as for Yuta Maju, it had failed to ensure satisfactory mitigation works at the project site, and that the temporary slope constructed at the project site was not endorsed or designed by accredited consultants, which was a violation of the Board of Engineers Malaysia (BEM) guidelines.

“It also failed to ensure site safety by removing the empty containers at the project site, where nine bodies were recovered,” he added.

As for Jurutera Perunding GEA, Ahmad Zakiyuddin said the party had failed to ensure that the contractor abide by the guidelines set out by the BEM, while G&P Professional had failed to abide by the job scope given by the council.

“Following our findings, we have recommended that the contractor, consultant and independent checking engineer be blacklisted from any tender consideration for projects in the future.

“That said, they will still have to continue their works for the paired road project, until the project completion, slated for May next year,” he added.

The landslide at the Bukit Kukus paired roads project site on Oct 19 last year killed nine site workers and left four others injured.

The search and rescue (SAR) operation was called off after five days. The project’s stop-work orders, separately issued by DOSH, CIDB and the council, were lifted up recently.

Ahmad Zakiyuddin said the special investigation committee also identified 10 main factors which had contributed the to fatal landslide, particularly not fully adopting best practices in construction work.

Other factors included:

* heavy rain on the morning of the incident at 55mm

* the contractor was unable to enter the project site to carry out mitigation works as stop-work order was issued by DOSH two days prior to the incident following a worksite accident

* unsafe construction processes

* failure to recognise the significance of an earlier incident (falling beams at another part of the project site two days prior to the landslide);

* lack of supervision

* failure to identify risk due to the change of process

* lack of comprehensive inspection and testing

* failure in risk communication

* poor management of sub-contractors.

Asked on why the services of the contractor, consultant and independent checking engineer were not immediately terminated following the incident, Ahmad Zakiyuddin said from what he understood, the stop-work orders issued on the three were only for one part of the project and not the entire project.

“Also, there was no record of safety issues prior to the landslide,” he said.

He called on efforts to protect the remaining part of the project as a resu

lt of a negative perception.

“Any delay will put the project at greater risks.”

To another question if the special investigation committee’s findings would be made public, he there had been no plans to do so as the report served as a guideline for the state. – By Audrey Dermawan, NST >

‘MBPP hired resident engineer for Bukit Kukus project’

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang Island City Council (MBPP) appointed a resident engineer and an independent checking engineer even before the start of the Bukit Kukus paired road project, says Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.

“If you see the action taken by MBPP, they understand their technical insufficiency in terms of a geotechnical engineer. That’s why in the contract, they required the main contractor to appoint a resident engineer, who was paid by MBPP to monitor the project on MBPP’s behalf.

“The independent checking engineers were also paid by MBPP. So, it was a measure taken by MBPP even before the start of the project, knowing that this is a big project.

“They did not have the capacity to monitor the project as they have only two or three engineers who have to be looking at other matters besides this project.

“So, they took action to appoint a resident engineer as well as independent checking enginners to act on behalf of MBPP,” he told reporters at the Penang Development Corp­oration Chinese New Year celebration at the PDC office in Bayan Lepas yesterday.

Chow also said the state would wait for the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) report first.

“We will leave it to DOSH’s findings. Let DOSH come out with the report and we will take the necessary action after that,” he said.

Asked if MBPP had to bear necessary compensation for families of the victims of the landslide last October, Chow said MBPP had not received any claim so far.

Chow was asked to respond to the Con­sumers Association of Penang’s (CAP) call for stern action to be taken against the wrongdoers responsible for the tragedy.

CAP president S.M. Mohamed Idris in a statement yesterday said: “While we welcome the investigation committee’s findings as to who is responsible for the tragedy, we are concerned that apart from recommending the blacklisting of the contractor, consultant and independent checking engineer from any tender consideration for future projects, it appears that no further stern action has been recommended.

“In particular, we want to know what action will be taken against MBPP,” he said.

Deputy Chief Minister I Datuk Ahmad Zaki­yuddin Abdul Rahman, who headed the investigation panel, was reported yesterday as saying that MBPP and other parties involved in the construction of the Jalan Bukit Kukus paired road project had not adhered to construction and engineering best practices.

Meanwhile, MBPP acknowledged responsibility for the Bukit Kukus landslide tragedy as it is the council’s project.

MBPP mayor Datuk Yew Tung Seang said the council was not pushing away any responsibility or negative comments on the council and project, and that it would be taken seriously. – By Cavina Lim and Intan Amalina Mohd Ali, The Star

Penang landslide report blames contractor, MBPP and DOSH

The special investigative panel report on the Bukit Kukus landslide had not been made public, but excerpts of the findings were made available by the state.

However, it has raised more questions than answers as the state blamed the contractor, Penang Island City Council (MBPP) and the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH).

In an immediate response, DOSH Penang director Jaafar Leman denied the department was to be blamed for the landslide.

“We were not even invited to be part of the investigative panel to give our views. How could we be blamed?” he asked.

According to the statement by Deputy Chief Minister 1 Datuk Ahmad Zakiyuddin Abdul Rahman who headed the investigative panel, the stop-work order on Oct 17 prevented contractors from entering the site to do maintenance works.

As a result, the temporary toe drain overflowed and water was retained on the reclaimed land contributing to the collapse of the slopes.

“How could a stop order which was issued on Oct 17 contribute to the landslide which occurred on Oct 19?” asked Jaafar.

He said the slopes would have been risky from the beginning as the contractor did not do any mitigation works to strengthen them and it does not make sense to blame DOSH.

The stop-work order was issued on Oct 17 after 14 beams fell in a ravine.

Earlier, during a press conference, Ahmad Zakiyuddin said MBPP and other parties involved in the construction of the Jalan Bukit Kukus paired roads project, had not adhered to construction and engineering best practices.

“The landslide was caused by many factors, which included a temporary construction of a platform to place machinery which was not constructed properly. The temporary platform was created to allow heavy vehicles lift beams for the paired road project.

“MBPP, as owners of the project, had failed to ensure all the hired parties carried out their job.

“MBPP had failed to hire a professional engineer for temporary works to design and supervise the site,” he said yesterday.

Ahmad Zakiyuddin said another factor was the downpour in the morning of the day of the landslide.- The Star

Related News

Kudos to Deputy Chief Minister I Datuk Ahmad Zakiyuddin for holding the four parties accountable for the Bukit Kukus landslide tragedy. The inquiry still begs a lot of questions, e.g. why was the contract given to Yuta Maju from Terengganu? Could the accident have been prevented if a proper EIA was done? It is not just a “bureaucratic hurdle” but supposed to identify risks and advise mitigation. If the authorities wish to go on with the project, it is not too late to commissi
See more

“This is no simple incident as nine deaths resulted from it. Very stern action must be taken against the MBPP, and that includes strong disciplinary action against the mayor and officers responsible.

“Otherwise, it will be business-as-usual in the MBPP as the officers will be allowed to go scot-free with impunity.

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

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

Integrity should be no compromise! Malu apa, bro! Queries over credentials, Wee presses on quizzing Lim


Weighing in: (Clockwise from top left) Ramon, Marina, Hassan, Anas and  Marimuthu
‘There should be no compromise on integrity’

Honesty and integrity should take centre stage in the debate that is swirling over the legitimacy of certain university degrees of politicians.

Asli’s Centre for Public Policy Studies chairman Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam said good political leaders need not be graduates but some academic credentials would be an asset to them.

“What we need are politicians with keen critical thinking, dedication and sincerity to serve the rakyat,” he said yesterday.

Ramon said that politicians who had “cheated” should confess and let the people decide if they still want them to carry on serving or quit their posts.

Several politicians have come under fire after their academic qualifications were questioned by the public.

Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Marzuki Yahya found himself in hot water following the controversy over his “Cambridge University” degree.

Others included Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu, Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin, Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Osman Sapian and Perak state executive councillor Paul Yong Choo Kiong.

Several Barisan Nasional leaders too had their qualifications scrutinised in the past. Among them were former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot.

Former UiTM vice-chancellor Emeritus Prof Datuk Dr Hassan Said said in other countries, leaders would have been asked to resign or they would voluntarily quit if they were found using dubious credentials.

“Honesty and integrity values are more important to those who are dealing with public trust and responsibility.

“The nation will collapse if its leaders are not honest or have integrity,” he said.

Educationist Prof Tan Sri Dr T. Marimuthu said politicians must come clean about their academic credentials as they are serving the public.

“Otherwise, how else can you serve the people?

“If you ask someone to write your thesis for you or use dubious ways to earn your credentials, you are just being dishonest to yourself and the public,” he said.

Moderation advocate Anas Zubedy concurred, saying that there should be no compromise when it comes to leadership and integrity.

“No matter how brilliant, knowledgeable or successful you are, a lack of integrity disqualifies any and all talent for any leadership position. We must check their track record for any propensity to lie, practise double standards, or to say one thing and do the other.

“New Malaysia must not compromise on integrity,” he said.

Writer and social activist Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir said it was better to own up in not possessing a degree than to pretend to have one.

“No, it’s not a crime nor is it essential to serve in the government but it’s a matter of trust. If you can misrepresent this, what else can you misrepresent?” she asked.

G25 group of eminent Malays said it is best to be honest about one’s academic credentials so that doubts are not raised on their integrity.

“A politician who lies about his personal details to win an election or get a ministerial position will raise doubts about his integrity. He will also create a bad image for the government and the country,” it said in a statement.

Najib asked whether it was the national news agency Bernama or officers of the ministers that had misrepresented the academic credentials of Pakatan Harapan ministers.

“But what is more strange is that the false news that the ministers were graduates came from the biodata published from Bernama in its infographics and was spread when they were appointed as ministers about nine months ago.

“As far as I know, normally Bernama would request the biodata from the special aides or the press secretaries of ministers when they are appointed to be published in its reports,” he said on Facebook.

Reports by Star team: TARRANCE TAN, HEMANANTHANI SIVANANDAM, RAHIMY RAHIM, NURBAITI HAMDAN, RASHVINJEET S.BEDI and SARBAN SINGH

Malu apa, bro!

WE seem to be heading towards a dangerous edge. There is now an emerging culture of shamelessness.

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak may have been slapped with countless charges of corruption and money laundering, but his campaign, Malu apa, bossku (“Why the shame, boss?” in Bahasa Malaysia), has surprisingly attracted millions of likes on social media.

The scandal-smeared former prime minister has traded in his tailored suits, impeccable English and political elite-aristocratic crowd for the Mat Rempit and Malay working class.

As part of his makeover, he is now decked in black parka, black jeans and black sneakers.

He is even hanging out with the young Mat Rempit and posting wefies with them. He is also happily showing off a black-and-red Yamaha Y15ZR 150cc moped that is all the rage with the youths of today.

And the registration plate on his bike is 8055KU, which insinuates “BOSSKU”, and to these newfound supporters, Najib is called Boss kita! (Our Boss.)

The key phrase here is Malu apa bossku, and while many learned Malaysians are cringing over this new culture, it barely seems wrong for our embattled former PM, who is basking in it and promoting the malaise.

But a similar show is also surfacing on the other side of the political divide.

One Pakatan Harapan leader after another is having his or her dubious education credentials exposed after Deputy Foreign Minister Marzuki Yahya was questioned over his.

Johor Mentri Besar Osman Sapian’s education history has come under the spotlight with the allegation that he didn’t obtain a degree from Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), as claimed.

Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin’s social science degree from the National University of Singapore (NUS), as reported when she became a minister, has also come into question. Now, she’s washed her hands of ever having had one.

DAP Assemblyman from Tronoh Paul Yong Choo Kiong claimed to have a masters in business administration from Akamai University – an alleged degree mill in Hawaii – among his academic qualifications.

None of these politicians have apologised for not correcting these errors when they were revealed, but now, they have conveniently shrugged off the news reports, claiming no knowledge of such revelations.

Worse, Marzuki passed the buck to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, saying it is now up to his boss to decide. The Johor MB chose to remain silent, hoping that the storm would blow over.

The central issue here isn’t whether an elected representative should have a tertiary education – the point here is, should we put our trust in anyone who lies to themselves?

If some of these individuals buy dubious online diplomas, they are only cheating themselves. Worse, the electorate has also fallen for this charade hook, line and sinker.

Instead of working hard, like most university students, these individuals apparently chose the easy way out. Are we expected to believe them when they talk about accountability and integrity from now on?

What’s worse is, most Pakatan leaders have chosen to look the other way or have lamely justified these dishonest transgressions.

If they were in the private sector, the sack would be a foregone conclusion, but then they are “Yang Berhormat”, despite these dishonourable acts.

Apa nak malu, YB! Aku ada SPM aje, bro!

And of course, that’s not the end. PAS leaders have found themselves in unfamiliar waters.

With their turbans and goatees, they like to appear pious and holier than thou. However, they are now seeing their names flying on social media, associated with a taste for sports cars and bikes, and not just under their names, but those of their children and spouses.

A report filed with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) over allegations of PAS leaders getting RM90mil from Umno under the previous administration involved “a list of expensive cars”, properties, high-powered motorcycles and “the purchase of number plates at exorbitant prices”, it has been widely reported.

According to the report, several PAS leaders were accused of using these funds to acquire the cars and properties.

The cars include BMW, Mini Cooper, Toyota Vellfire, Range Rover, Porsche Cayman, Audi Q7, Audi A6, Toyota Camry, Toyota Fortuner, Volkswagen Passat, Mercedes Benz, and a BMW motorcycle, according to a report.

“As for the properties, this includes a bungalow in Bangi worth RM3mil,” says a report. The only item missing is camel ownership.

PAS Mursyidul Am (spiritual leader) Datuk Hashim Jasin has admitted to owning a Porsche Cayman, but said his son was the real owner, who was entitled to an Approved Permit (AP) when he served as the Arau MP between 1998 and 1999.

Every one of them has branded these accusations as part of some grand political conspiracy, pleading innocence and insisting they are virginal and pure instead.

But we are sure they will be okay, and they will continue to preach accountability and transparency, and possibly continue to look – invoking race, religion and God – to their faithful followers, who will readily give away their savings and, brave the rain and scorching sun to support them.

Malu Apa Bossku? Tatap Sokong Boss (as the Sabahans will say).

by Wong Chun Wai

 

Queries over credentials

 

DEPUTY FOREIGN MINISTER DATUK MARZUKI YAHYA

It was reported by Bernama that Marzuki pursued a Bachelor’s degree in business administration, majoring in logistics via a long-distance learning programme at the University of Cambridge.

Response: “When I was asked by the media, I clearly said that I was from Cambridge International University (CIU) in US and not the University of Cambridge in UK.”

FINANCE MINISTER LIM GUAN ENG

MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong questioned Lim’s credential as a qualified professional accountant

Response: Lim’s political secretary Tony Pua rebutted the allegations by producing Lim’s degree certificate from Monash University, Australia on April 11, 1984, together with a copy of his “Certificate of Membership” in the Australian Society of Accountants dated Feb 21, 1984.

DEFENCE MINISTER MOHAMAD SABU

Accused of faking a degree in culinary arts.

Response: “Some people say I have a degree in culinary arts. I never said that. Truth is, I never completed my studies at UiTM. They kicked me out.”

But Mohamad was quick to add that despite this, he was still a “good cook”.

HOUSING AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT MINISTER ZURAIDA KAMARUDDIN

A Twitter user claimed he could not find her name on the National University of Singapore’s online degree verification portal.

Response: “I have never claimed or held myself to be a graduate of NUS and I have never authorised anyone else to do so,” she said.

JOHOR MENTRI BESAR DATUK OSMAN SAPIAN

A Facebook page questioned the validity of his UPM Bachelor in Accounting obtained in 1985.
Response: He has yet to comment on the matter.

TRONOH ASSEMBLYMAN PAUL YONG CHOO KIONG

Yong was questioned over his Masters in Business Administration (MBA) from Akamai University, United States by MCA’s Dr Wee.

Response: Yong said he felt calm and had nothing much to comment as his certificate is real and he had a convocation 16 years ago.

“My main interest now is to do the best for my voters,” said Yong.

FORMER PRIME MINISTER DATUK SERI NAJIB TUN RAZAK

DAP highlighted a video circulating online alleging that Najib never completed his studies at UK’s Nottingham University in the 70s.

Response: “Of course my degree is legitimate.”

FORMER HUMAN RESOURCES MINISTER DATUK SERI RICHARD RIOT

Riot was questioned in 2013 over his Bachelor of Business Administration from the Chartered Insitute of Business Administration (Ireland) and a Masters in Business Administration from Preston University in the United States.

Response: “As (former) prime minister, he (Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak) has used his wisdom to find out whether I am fit to be a minister, and that includes my academic qualification, by tasking me to be in charge of the human resources portfolio, which is a very a challenging ministry with 13 agencies.

“There is a difference between fake degree and qualifications from unrecognised universities. I worked very hard for it because I believe in life-long learning”, he said.

Wee presses on quizzing Lim

Wee: No evidence showing that Lim ever worked in any accounting firms.
Wee: No evidence showing that Lim ever worked in any accounting firms.

KUALA LUMPUR: Despite threats of being sued, MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong continues to raise questions on Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng’s credentials as an accountant.

Dr Wee said that “Lim is far from even being a certified or a chartered accountant”.

The Ayer Hitam MP, while referring to documents released by Lim’s political secretary Tony Pua yesterday, pointed out that Lim’s membership into the Australian Society of Accountants on Feb 21, 1984, merely stated that he was admitted as a provisional member.

A provisional membership, Dr Wee said, was one of the steps required to enrol into programme modules and examination in order to qualify as an accountant, and to qualify for a full membership into the Australian Society of Accoun­tants.

Therefore, a provisional membership is far from being a fully certified chartered accountant or even an accountant.

“You cannot call yourself using either designation,” said Dr Wee in a Facebook posting yesterday.

The Australian Society of Accoun­tants is now known as CPA Australia (Certified Practicing Accountant).

Checks online showed that a full membership is only awarded to individuals if they have successfully passed the CPA examination – which also requires a bachelor’s degree in accounting and a year of supervised working experience under a CPA licence holder.

At the same time, Dr Wee, in the same Facebook posting, pointed out that Lim was quoted by news portal MalaysiaKini in a report on March 2012 as saying that he was a failed accountant and had spent less than a week in an accounting firm in Malaysia before he was sacked.

Dr Wee said there was no evidence showing that Lim ever worked in any accounting firms, or having enrolled for any necessary education requirements to qualify as a certified accountant or a chartered accountant.

“In fact, online checks with the Malaysian Institute of Accoun­tants (MIA) does not show Lim as being a member.

“In Malaysia, you cannot misrepresent yourself as an accountant unless you are a member of MIA.

“It is a criminal offence under Section 25(e) of the Accountants Act 1967 for any individual or organisation to call himself or herself an accountant unless he or she is registered with the MIA,” said Dr Wee.

At the same time, Dr Wee said that a report by New Straits Times in June 2018 also pointed out that Lim had claimed to be a former accountant.

Meanwhile, Dr Wee also said that DAP’s website had misrepresented Lim as a certified accountant.

“Neither MCA nor myself have any interest in pursuing this matter any further as the declining economy right now is a more important issue to address.

“We leave it to DAP and the rakyat to judge if a legal offence has been committed,” said Dr Wee.

Lim’s qualification in accounting is the latest to come under scrutiny after a series of alleged false education credentials involving Pakatan Harapan leaders, including Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Marzuki Yahya, Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Osman Sapian and Tronoh assemblyman Paul Yong Choo Kiong. – The Star.

Related:

Guan Eng mulls legal action against naysayers  

https://youtu.be/s6nOmgkJXx4

Integrity at stake – Letters

 

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