Dismayed over the exorbitant consultancy fees, 4 times higher !


GEORGE TOWN: Barisan Nasional leaders have criticised the Penang Government for allegedly over-paying, by four times, the detailed design fees of three road projects.

“Construction is not a new industry. Many people are puzzled by the exorbitant consultancy fees,” said Penang MCA secretary Tang Heap Seng in a press statement yesterday.

He said the Board of Engineers Malaysia (BEM) devised a standardised gazetted scale of fees for professional engineering consultancy in accordance with Section 4(1)(d) of the Registration of Engineers Act 1967 (Act 138), and it was highly irregular to deviate from it.

Yesterday, it was reported that Barisan’s strategic communication team sought the professional opinion of BEM on the costing of the three paired roads.

The board was said to have replied that the RM177mil in detailed design costs was four times higher than the maximum allowed under the gazetted scale of fees, which the board calculated to be RM41mil.

The three roads are from Teluk Bahang to Tanjung Bungah, Air Itam to Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway and Gurney Drive to the expressway. They are meant to be a traffic dispersal system for the proposed Penang Undersea Tunnel.

Penang MCA Youth chief Datuk Michael Lee Beng Seng also issued a statement, pointing out that the alleged overpaid amount of RM136mil was more than the reported RM100mil the state spent on flood mitigation in the last eight years.

“We are shocked that the Penang government has put the well-being and safety of the rakyat behind the interests of consultants and contractors.”

Gerakan vice-president Datuk Dr Dominic Lau highlighted that affordable housing, flash floods and landslides were issues that concerned Penangites.

On Tuesday, Barisan strategic communications director Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan announced that he was giving the Penang Government a week to explain BEM’s findings, failing which the matter would be referred to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

When asked to comment, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng replied: “Another day.” – The Star
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Singapore’s PM Lee family feud


A feud between the children of Singapore’s late founder Lee Kuan Yew has intensified. The family dispute first became public last year on the anniversary of Mr Lee’s death, when the prime minister Lee Hsien Loong’s sister, Lee Wei Ling, accused him of exploiting the late leader’s legacy for personal gain.

This time, Lee Wei Ling and another brother have publicly accused Prime Minister Lee of disobeying their father’s last wishes

 Is Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong Dishonest?! 

 

 

 

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PETALING JAYA: A public spat between the late Lee Kuan Yew’s children has shattered the usually serene political landscape in Sin…

Ex-Johor exco man, son and consultant face 21 counts amounting to RM36m


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JOHOR BARU: Former state executive councillor Datuk Abd Latif Bandi, his eldest son and a property consultant have been charged with a total of 21 counts of money laundering amounting to RM35.78mil in connection with the massive Johor land scandal that broke out in March.
The former state Housing and Local Government Committee chairman was charged with 13 counts of money laundering amounting to RM17.59mil.

His son Ahmad Fauzan Hatim, 25, and Amir Shariffuddin Abd Raub, 44, were charged with four counts each involving RM735,000 and RM17.46mil respectively.

They are said to have committed the offences via cheque transactions at five major banks around Johor Baru between November 2013 and December 2016.

Abd Latif, 51, pleaded not guilty to seven counts under Section 4(1) (b) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities 2001 (AMLA) (Act 613).

If found guilty, he can be sentenced to 15 years in jail and fined five times the amount or RM5mil, whichever is higher.

He also claimed trial to six counts under Section 4(1)(a) of the same Act, which carries a jail term of up to five years and a maximum fine of RM5mil, if convicted.

Ahmad Fauzan and Amir Sharifuddin also pleaded not guilty to four counts each under the Section 4(1) (b) and Section 4(1)(a) of the same Act, respectively.

Sessions Court judge Mohd Fauzi Mohd Nasir set bail at RM500,000 for Abd Latif, RM200,000 for Ahmad Fauzan and RM400,000 for Amir Shariffuddin in one surety each, to run concurrently with previously charged offences.

He was referring to the 33 counts of graft that Abd Latif and Amir Shariffuddin had claimed trial to on April 19 for allegedly converting bumiputra lots to non-bumiputra lots involving a total of RM30.3mil in Kota Masai, Tebrau, Kulai, Kempas, Nusajaya and Johor Baru.

The judge also fixed July 5 for next mention.

Abd Latif and Ahmad Fauzan were represented by a five-man legal team led by Datuk Hasnal Rezua Merican while lawyer Azrul Zulkifli Stork stood for Amir Shariffuddin.

The case was prosecuted by Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) DPP Mohd Asnawi Abu Hanifah.

Earlier, the three accused arrived clad in orange lockup T-shirts and were escorted by MACC officers into the court at around 8.40am.

The Star by kathleen ann kili

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Singapore PM Lee family feud explodes into open, gets more heated


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PETALING JAYA: A public spat between the late Lee Kuan Yew’s children has shattered the usually serene political landscape in Singapore, with two siblings accusing their brother Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of abusing his powers.

Kuan Yew’s daughter Dr Lee Wei Ling and son Lee Hsien Yang accused their big brother Hsien Loong of, well, acting like “Big Brother”, with Hsien Yang going so far as to say he was fleeing the country.

“We are concerned that the system has few checks and balances to prevent the abuse of government.

“We feel big brother omnipresent. We fear the use of the organs of state against us and Hsien Yang’s wife, Suet Fern,” the two said in a six-page statement that was also posted on Facebook early yesterday morning.

Hsien Yang’s son, Li Shengwu, said the situation had become so bad that the family planned to relocate overseas.

“In the last few years, my immediate family has become increasingly worried about the lack of checks on abuse of power.

“The situation is now such that my parents have made plans to relocate to another country, a painful decision that they have not made lightly,” he said on Facebook.

Wei Ling and Hsien Yang also accused their brother of trying to establish a political dynasty and wanting to “milk” their father’s legacy.

They said Hsien Loong and his wife Ho Ching – the CEO of state investor Temasek Holdings – harboured political ambitions for their son Li Hongyi, who works at government agency GovTech Singapore.

The heart of the matter seems to be the siblings’ unhappiness that Hsien Loong was not following their father’s wishes in demolishing the family home at 38 Oxley Road.

Before he passed away in March 2015, Kuan Yew had already expressed his desire that the house he moved into and lived in since 1945 be demolished because he did not want it becoming a “political shrine”.

That desire was part of his last will and testament, but the current prime minister has declined to follow through.

His siblings have attributed this refusal to Hsien Loong’s political ambition.

“Indeed, Hsien Loong and Ho Ching expressed plans to move with their family into the house as soon as possible after Kuan Yew’s passing,” said Wei Ling and Hsien Yang.

“This move would have strengthened Hsien Loong’s inherited mandate for himself and his family.

“Moreover, even if Hsien Loong did not live at 38 Oxley Road, the preservation of the house would enhance his political capital,” they said.

Hsien Loong, who is travelling overseas with his family, said he was disappointed and saddened by his siblings for “publicising private family matters”.

“I am deeply saddened by the unfortunate allegations that they have made.

“Ho Ching and I deny these allegations, especially the absurd claim that I have political ambitions for my son.

“Since my father’s passing in March 2015, as the eldest son I have tried my best to resolve the issues among us within the family, out of respect for our parents.

“My siblings’ statement has hurt our father’s legacy,” Hsien Loong said in a statement posted on Facebook.

Singaporeans seem divided on the matter.

On Hsien Yang’s Facebook page, he was greeted by more criticism than praise, with some accusing him of being the one who had tainted his father’s legacy.

“A family feud that is aired so openly is a sad thing to see,” said Dolpzy Do.

On Hsien Loong’s Facebook, it was generally the opposite.

Pointing out that Kuan Yew had passed away over two years ago, Jacq Low said, “His last will should have been settled by now.”

While such a public spat is rare in Singapore, it is not unprecedented. Last year, as the island-republic commemorated the first anniversary of Kuan Yew’s death, Wei Ling went public with similar concerns.

In a family feud that played out on Facebook, she said the elaborate events were not what her father would have wanted, and that he would have cringed at such “hero worship”.

Wei Ling, a neurosurgeon, also accused Hsien Loong of abusing his power and using the anniversary to try and establish a political dynasty.

Hsien Loong replied via Facebook, saying he was “deeply saddened” by the accusations, describing them as “completely untrue”.

Source: The Star

 

PM Lee’s family feud becomes more heated

 

PETALING JAYA: The public spat between Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (pic) and his siblings became more heated Thursday, with the younger brother accusing the older of not being truthful.

The two younger children of Singapore’s founder and longest-serving premier Lee Kuan Yew, Dr Lee Wei Ling and Lee Hsien Yang, took to Facebook to air their grievances.

Hsien Yang accused his brother of not being truthful over the issue of their father’s wish to have the family home demolished.

Before he passed away in March, 2015, Lee Kuan Yew had expressed his desire that the house at 38 Oxley Road be demolished because he did not want it becoming a “political shrine.”

He had made that part of his last will and testament.

In a Facebook post, Hsien Yang compared what he said were Hsien Loong’s statements in public and those in private.

Hsien Yang said that despite the prime minister saying in public that the decision to demolish the house did not need to be taken immediately, a “secret committee” of ministers was set up to explore and make recommendations.

When Lee Kuan Yew’s will was recognised as final and legally binding, Hsien Loong did not mount a legal challenge.

However, he privately wrote to the above committee to say that there was no evidence their father knew that the demolition clause “had been reinstated into the last will,” the younger brother alleged.

Hsien Yang also claimed that the prime minister even swore this under oath in a statutory declaration.

Finally, while saying in public that he hoped the government would respect their father’s wish to have the house demolished, Hsien Loong told the committee in private that Lee Kuan Yew would have “accepted any decision to preserve it.”

“The will is final and binding. We have no confidence in Lee Hsien Loong or his secret committee,” Hsien Yang said in his Facebook post.

The tiff between Lee Kuan Yew’s children, simmering since their father’s death, had its lid blown open on Wednesday when the two younger siblings posted an explosive six-page statement saying that they had lost confidence in their elder brother.

Wei Ling and Hsien Yang also accused Hsien Loong of using the state machinery against them.

“We fear the use of the organs of state against us and Hsien Yang’s wife, Suet Fern,” they said.

Hsien Yang, chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, said it had got so bad that he and his family intended to move out of the country.

Wei Ling and Hsien Yang also accused their older sibling of trying to establish a political dynasty and wanting to “milk” their father’s legacy.

They said Hsien Loong and his wife Ho Ching – the chief executive officer of state investor Temasek Holdings – harboured political ambitions for their son Li Hongyi.

In an immediate response on Wednesday, Hsien Loong said he was “deeply saddened by the unfortunate allegations that they have made.”

“Ho Ching and I deny these allegations, especially the absurd claim that I have political ambitions for my son,” he said, adding that he was disappointed in his siblings for publicising private family matters.

However, in a Facebook post on Thursday, his sister Wei Ling said she and her brother would not have issued a public statement if the dispute over their late father’s house was “merely a family affair”.

Source: The Star/ANN

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Penang Chief Minister may have too much on his plate, be fair when sharing power


 

CM may have too much on his plate

GEORGE TOWN: Penang Gerakan has questioned the efficiency of Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng as the chairman of numerous state-linked agencies and departments.

Its publicity bureau chief Ooi Zhi Yi said that besides being the chief minister, the Bagan MP and Air Putih assemblyman chairs 11 agencies and departments.

“He was recently also appointed chairman of the Penang Stadium Corporation And Open Spaces at the state assembly sitting,” he said.

Ooi asked what had happened to the DAP’s decentralisation of administration and power-sharing policy which it claimed to advocate?

“Is Lim able to handle various responsibilities in different agencies and departments simultaneously?

“Why can’t the state government identify any state executive councillor or assemblyman to hold some of the posts?” he further asked at a press conference at the Gerakan headquarters yesterday

The 11 state agencies and departments which Lim heads are the Penang Development Corporation (PDC), PBA Holdings Bhd (PBAHB) and its unit Perbadanan Bekalan Air Pulau Pinang (PBAPP), Penang Global Tourism (PGT), Penang Hill Corporation (PHC), Penang Convention and Exhibition Bureau (PCEB), George Town World Heritage Inc (GTWHI), the Penang State Museum, investPenang and two subsidiaries under PDC namely the BPO Premier Sdn Bhd and Premier Horizon Ventures Snd Bhd.

When contacted yesterday, Wong Hon Wai, who is Lim’s political secretary, said it is a customary process for a state leader to hold important positions in all the government statutory bodies.

“It is similar to how the Prime Minister and Mentri Besar chair important government bodies,” he explained. – Tbe Star

‘Be fair when sharing power’‘

GEORGE TOWN: The MCA wants the Penang government to create a check-and-balance to counter the Chief Minister’s influence in 19-state linked agencies, statutory bodies and government subsidiaries which he helms.

Penang MCA organising secretary Dr Tan Chuan Hong said the mechanism must include NGOs such as the Penang Forum, Consumers Association of Penang and Penang Heritage Trust.

He said the NGOs should have the right to oppose and express their views whenever needed.

He said Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had in a written reply to Sungai Dua assemblyman Muhamad Yusoff Mohd Noor at the recent state legislative assembly sitting revealed that he was the chairman of 19 bodies.

“This is not only shocking but also contradicts the CAT principles of Competency, Accountability and Transparency which the DAP-led state claims to practise.

“Where is a person’s credibility if he holds all positions which are closely associated with his position as chief minister. And what about the power-sharing principle advocated by the state government?” Tan asked.

He said since Lim ‘monopolised’ most of the chairman positions, state exco members such as Chow Kon Yeow, Danny Law and Jagdeep Singh seemed to be given merely supplementary roles to play.

Among the bodies helmed by Lim are the Penang Development Corp (PDC), Penang Global Tourism, PICEB Sdn Bhd, PGC Strategies Sdn Bhd, Penang Water Supply Corp Bhd (PBAPP), PBA Holdings Bhd, Penang Hill Corp, Invest Penang and the state museum board.

He gets an annual RM10,000 allowance as PDC chairman, RM3,000 monthly allowance as PBAPP chairman and RM500 monthly allowance as PBA Holdings Bhd chairman.

Lim also gets allowances which range from RM250 to RM500 per meeting that he attends in some of the statutory bodies and subsidiaries that he helms. – The Star

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Prospering with Belt and Road to reap the benefits of China’s initiative


Malaysia is one of 64 countries to reap the benefits of China’s initiative.

CAN money grow on fruit trees?

Yes, that is as far as Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek is concerned.

After witnessing the signing of a deal worth US$1.53bil (RM6.65bil) between Malaysia’s AgroFresh International and China’s Dashang Group for the export of local Cavendish bananas and tropical fruits to China, he said:

“Money does grow on fruit trees if our agriculture products could open up China’s market.”

The deal was part of the nine memorandums of understanding (MoUs) and agreements, with value totalling more than US$7.22bil (RM31.26bil), which were signed between Malaysian and Chinese companies on May 14.

But Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan, International Trade and Industry Minister II, sees more money flooding in once Malaysia is linked up with other Asean nations, China and Europe via rail connection under China’s Belt and Road Initiative, now termed as the New Silk Road project.

“Our trade figures can jump by three to four folds once Malaysia can export and import goods to our major trade partners (such as China, Europe and Middle East) overland via rail systems,” he tells Sunday Star.

Both ministers are among Cabinet members in the Malaysian delegation led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to attend the Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation held in Beijing from May 14 to 15.

Malaysia is one of the 64 countries outside China that have benefited from the Belt and Road Initiative, propounded by Chinese President Xi Jinping in the autumn of 2013.

One project to be launched soon will be the RM55bil East Coast Rail Link. Examples of existing projects include Xiamen University and the deepening of Kuantan Port.

At the opening ceremony of the forum, Xi injected fresh impetus to his pet project by announcing hundreds of billions in new funds for infrastructure investment in Belt and Road countries that span Asia, Middle East and Europe.

According to some estimates, Chinese funds allocated for investing in Belt and Road countries – which include several exiting funds announced since 2013 – total around US$900bil (about RM4 trillion) now.

“Model of regional cooperation”

From Mongolia to Malaysia, Thailand to Pakistan and Laos to Uzbekistan, many projects, including high-speed railways, bridges, ports, industrial parks, oil pipelines and power grids, are being built, Xi said.

Since 2013, Chinese private businesses have invested more than US$60bil (RM260bil) in countries along the Belt and Road, in addition to the US$50bil invested by the Chinese government.

Xi’s speech also reveals that China will expand China-Europe railway cargo services, which are stirring up excitement in European nations – particularly Britain.

Belt-road: Ong signing Belt and Road MoU with Vice Chairman of National Development and Reform Commission of China Zhong Yong on May 13, 2017. Witnessing are Najib and China’s Premier Li Keqiang.

Calling his brand of globalisation as “project of the century” to achieve a win-win situation for all, Xi has committed to importing US$2 trillion (RM8.7bil) of goods from the 64 Belt and Road countries – many of which are under-developed and impoverished nations hungry for infrastructure and industrial investments.

The Chinese leader’s pledge of “non-interference” with the domestic politics of other countries is comforting, given that there are concerns that China could aim to be a hegemony with its economic and military might.

“What we hope is to create a big family where we can co-exist harmoniously,” Xi said last Sunday in his speech that also focused on connectivity in policy, infrastructure, trade, finance and people.

The forum is by far the most important and largest meeting on the Belt and Road Initiative since 2013.

About 130 countries were represented at the forum and they accounted for two thirds of the world’s population. Their combined gross domestic product accounts for 90% of the world’s total, according to Xinhua.

Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, regards the Belt and Road Initiative as “a shining model for regional collaboration, development and growth”.

“This initiative respects the differences between countries and their various paths for development, not imposing a specific plan or ideological framework, but seeking to create common ground for cooperation and mutual benefit,” Schwab told Xinhua.

UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres, also told Xinhua: “China will play a very important role in multi-lateralism with the Belt and Road. The initiative reflects a new model of international cooperation and interaction with mutually beneficial cooperation through the connection of policies and development strategies.”

And Jack Ma, executive chairman of Alibaba Group, shared: “The initiative goes far beyond the economic strategy of any single country or region. Its mission is to make the world more innovative, dynamic, and equal.”

Big step: Fernandes is excited that China has allowed AirAsia to be the first low-cost carrier to set up shop in the Middle Kingdom.

AirAsia deal – another first in China

On the sideline of the forum, Malaysian and Chinese leaders took the opportunity to clinch more agreements that brought bilateral ties to another new high.

While the deals signed last November were far more than this round and higher in total value, the Chinese Government continued to grant “first” to Malaysia. This was reflected in a project given to Tan Sri Tony Fernandes, group chief executive officer and founder of AirAsia Bhd. Soon, the sky will see AirAsia China.

“It is the first time a foreign airline is given permission to establish and operate a low-cost carrier in China. We are the first country to be granted such licence,” Najib told reporters at the conclusion of his visit to China.

AirAsia is establishing a joint venture with China Everbright Group, with an initial stake of 22%. However, AirAsia may raise its stake in future.

China Everbright is a government-owned financial services conglomerate, which is a major shareholder in China Aircraft Leasing Group Holdings Ltd and the Henan Government Working Group.

The plan is to set up AirAsia China to be based in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan, to ply domestic and international flights.

“Tony Fernandes was very excited because he was able to meet the top transport and aviation officials, whom he could not secure appointments with previously. He has been working on this project for years,” a minister told Sunday Star.

Other Cabinet ministers are also upbeat after attending the Belt and Road Forum.

“I have witnessed the fruits of the close diplomatic ties between Malaysia and China, and between Najib and Xi Jinping during this trip,” says Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, who signed a MoU on infrastructure cooperation with China.

“In China, economic developments are influenced by government policies. Now that our leaders have good ties with China, it is very timely for Malaysian businessmen to enter China, and vice versa,” he tells Sunday Star.

Important talks: Liow (second from left) leading a Malaysian delegation at a meeting with his Chinese counterpart at China’s Transport Ministry in Beijing on May 12 morning. From left are Transport Ministry deputy secretary-general Datuk Chua Kok Ching, MCA vice president Datuk Dr Hou Kok Chung and Fernandes.

“We have to promote economic growth fast enough so that we can harvest the fruits of the Belt and Road Initiative.

“The opportunities for Malaysia to develop the infrastructure and boost economic growth would not be available if not for the Belt and Road Initiative pushed forward by China,” he adds.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong observes: “There are quite a number of business-to-business MoUs signed during this trip, in addition to the nine witnessed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

“I was also invited to attend many discussions and meetings, sometimes I had to have many meals a day! (as discussions were held over meals).”

Wee, whose ministerial portfolio covers development of Chinese small and medium enterprises (SMEs), has personally requested Ma to reduce charges for Malaysian SMEs when they use Alibaba’s platform to sell products.

Ma, an e-commerce wizard and China’s second richest man, is expected to give consideration to the proposal as he has pledged to help Malaysia develop its digital economy. Ma will set up the Asean data centre in Malaysia before the end of the year.

Analysing Belt and Road Initiative, Shabery Cheek says: “Belt and Road is a different form of cooperation from other pacts, such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and World Trade Organisation (WTO). Those emphasised on what goods were tax-free and what were not, which sectors to open up and which could not. Essentially, they focused on how to protect the self-interests of individual countries.

“However, the Belt and Road talks about infrastructure networking, which is very important. They take the cue from the ancient Silk Road, which was not only a channel to transport goods, but also to spread Islam and Buddhism. That is a great thing.”

Source: Sunday Star by Ho Wah FoonTho Xin Yi

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MACC starts probe on Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV)



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PUTRAJAYA: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission has begun its investigation into alleged im­­proprieties involving Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV), a day after its group president and CEO Datuk Zakaria Arshad was told to take an indefinite leave of absence.

The MACC took a statement from Zakaria, who was called to its headquarters here yesterday.

The commission’s next move will be to send investigators to FGV headquarters in Kuala Lumpur to “see what they can find” and determine if there is a case.

Zakaria, 57, arrived at the MACC headquarters at 2.20pm alone, with no lawyers or associates accompanying him.

He brought along a stack of files, which he claimed were documents on FGV.

Zakaria looked calm when he arrived and maintained the same demeanour when he left some four hours later.

“The MACC asked me to come today. I’m also here to hand over some documents to them,” he told reporters, adding that his session was not over.

“I will be called again to give my statement, and I will give my full co-operation.”

MACC deputy chief commis­sioner Datuk Azam Baki told The Star: “We will go through his statement and will decide what to do next.”

Azam also confirmed that anti-graft investigators would go to FGV headquarters at 10am today to get hold of more documents.

On Tuesday, Zakaria and three other FGV officers were asked to take a leave of absence, which chairman Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad said was a decision made by the board.

The other three are FGV chief financial officer Ahmad Tifli Mohd Talha, FGV Trading CEO Ahmad Salman Omar and Delima Oil Products senior general manager Kamarzaman Abd Karim.

The board’s decision came a day after Zakaria was told to resign by Isa following a series of board meetings since May 31 concerning delayed payments owed to Delima Oil Products Sdn Bhd by Safitex Trading LLC, an Afghan company with an array of businesses and headquartered in Du­­bai.

Zakaria subsequently urged the MACC to investigate allegations of improprieties in FGV and asked the commission to probe the parties behind the contracts.

Sources: The Star  by mazwin nik anis, he mananthini sivanandam, syed azhar

 

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