Penang Tunnel project to be scrapped, flood mitigation plans among BN manifesto


 

‘Tunnel project to be scrapped’

BUTTERWORTH: Six pledges and 60 initiatives – that’s what the Barisan Nasional will be armed with as it attempts to wrest Penang from the clasp of the Opposition.

In its “Save Penang” manifesto launched yesterday, the coalition listed resolving flooding, overcoming traffic congestion and halting hillside development as the top priorities.

State Barisan chairman Teng Chang Yeow said if it regained power in the state, the controversial undersea tunnel project to link the island to the mainland would be scrapped.

He said further land reclamation at Permatang Damar Laut and Gurney Drive would also be barred.

Teng also announced that areas 76m above sea-level would be declared permanent forest reserves to protect the hills.

On flooding, he said the Barisan would resolve the problem within three-and-a-half years, by installing water pumps and floodgates and implementing a Penang Flood Mitigation Plan.

Another priority was to build 65,000 affordable houses within five years, introduce rent-to-own housing scheme, set the price of a low-cost home to RM40,000 (including a free carpark) and between RM80,000 and RM120,000 for medium-cost units (including free carpark).

The other priorities were listed as economic development, people’s welfare, and tourism and heritage.

Among others, the Barisan pledged to remove toll charges for motorcycles, abolish the water surcharge, provide a special fund of RM2,000 to couples who tie the knot for the first time, provide school bus subsidy to eligible families, provide free parking at council roadsides and residential areas, and allocate RM15mil annually for national-type, religious and private Chinese schools.

The Barisan also pledged to abolish postage charges and other charges for bill payments, provide free water to hardcore poor, reintroduce traffic wardens in school areas, and not to increase water tariff for residential areas within five years.

Thousands of Barisan leaders and members who attended the launch cheered when Teng fired salvos at the DAP-led state government, claiming its leaders made 51 false promises over the last 10 years.

Also present were state Umno chairman Datuk Seri Zainal Abidin Osman, state MCA chairman Datuk Tan Teik Cheng, state MIC deputy chairman Datuk M. Nyanasegaran and leaders of Barisan-friendly parties.

Teng (middle) getting waves of support as he launches the Penang Barisan Nasional manifesto at The Light Hotel in Seberang Jaya, Penang. With him are Penang Umno liaison committee chairman Datuk Seri Zainal Abidin Osman (on Teng’s right) and Penang MCA chairman Datuk Tan Teik Cheng. — Photos: ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star
Teng (middle) getting waves of support as he launches the Penang Barisan Nasional manifesto at The Light Hotel in Seberang Jaya, Penang. With him are Penang Umno liaison committee chairman Datuk Seri Zainal Abidin Osman (on Teng’s right) and Penang MCA chairman Datuk Tan Teik Cheng. — Photos: ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

Flood Mitigation plans among BN manifesto

BARISAN Nasional will get allocation from the Federal Government to alleviate flooding woes in Penang within three and a half years if it secures the mandate from the people.

Penang Barisan chairman Teng Chang Yeow, a former state exco member, said detailed infographics would be required to come up with an action plan as well as a drainage masterplan to resolve the problem.

“We have experience in formulating flood mitigation plans in the past.

“From there, we will take the matter up to the Federal Government to negotiate for the amount of funds needed.

“We also have an emergency manual outlining standard operating procedures for a state to manage when struck by floods, and this goes in tandem with the Federal  Government’s guidelines to create a clear chain of command. “We noticed that in recent years, places in Penang that had never been flooded suddenly experienced floods.

“This is due to poor planning, lack of drainage and failure to identify hotspots.

“The people have suffered because of poor coordination and help could not reach them in time,” he said at a press conference after unveiling Barisan’s manifesto at a hotel in Seberang Jaya.

Commenting on the pledge for 50% of Penang island city councillors and Seberang Prai municipal councillors to be appointed from independent bodies, he said the  representatives could join the planning committee to give their ideas.

Teng said that although landowners had the right to plan projects, those staying next door could voice their views including objecting to the projects if they were affected.

“But today, planners are not planning.

“Instead, politicians are doing the planning,” he said.

Teng said planning should be left to planners with expertise while politicians should only make policies.

‘Can fulfil promises’

Teng: Penang will receive more allocation if voted into power

 

//players.brightcove.net/4405352761001/default_default/index.html?videoId=5770690231001

DESPITE being an Opposition state, Penang has received RM2.08bil as allocation from the Federal Government between 2013 and 2017.

Penang Barisan Nasional chairman Teng Chang Yeow said the amount was the highest among the northern states.

He said Kedah received RM1.76bil followed by Perak (RM1.25bil) and Perlis (RM360mil) during the same period.

“We can fulfil all our promises in the manifesto. The state will receive more allocation if we win the state from Pakatan Harapan,” he told reporters after launching the Penang Barisan manifesto at a hotel in Seberang Jaya yesterday.

Asked why the monorail and LRT projects which were in the 2013 manifesto were missing from the present one, Teng said the people in the state had rejected both projects as Penang Barisan was not voted into power then.

“However, we are open to consultation with the people and those from the civil movements to revive such projects if we are voted into power in the upcoming general election,” he said.

On another matter, Teng said Penang never had it easy during the 22-year tenure of former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“Penang was bypassed most of the time when it came to development projects.

“It was difficult for then Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon to get allocation for projects in Penang as the funds would not come.

“Dr Mahathir, for reasons best known to himself, did not allocate sufficient funds for Penang and most of the time we were bypassed,” said Teng, who was once a state executive councillor.

Click to view details

 

– By K. Suthakar, Lo Tern Chern, and R. Sekaran, The Star

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Aye to Barisan’s manifesto

Barisan Nasional Youth volunteers posing for a group photo at the recent Penang Barisan Nasional manifesto launching ceremony at The Light Hotel in Seberang Jaya, Penang. — Photos: ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star
Barisan Nasional Youth volunteers posing for a group photo at the recent Penang Barisan Nasional manifesto launching ceremony at The Light Hotel in Seberang Jaya, Penang. — Photos: ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

 

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More worms open up from Penang Undersea Tunnel project as Datuk Seri photos hots up


Pricey seizure: The luxury vehicles,
(clockwise from top left) a Toyota Vellfire, a Mercedes-Benz, a Land
Rover and a Hyundai Starex, seized from the Datuk Seri.
Happy meeting: In a picture that has appeared in cyberspace, Lim and the ‘Datuk Seri’ are seen in the back seat of a car.

PETALING JAYA: Another photo of Lim Guan Eng with a man who resembles the Datuk Seri being investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has emerged on cyberspace.

The photo shows the Penang Chief Minister and the 37-year-old Datuk Seri who is being investigated for allegedly receiving RM19mil to “help settle” the MACC’s probe on Penang’s controversial undersea tunnel and three highways project.

The photo was taken in a car with Lim and the Datuk Seri together in the back seat, both smiling widely. A caption that went with the photograph claimed that it was taken in August last year.

In early March, a photo of Lim and the Datuk Seri showing both of them wearing socks but no shoes standing on a carpeted floor, went viral.

The photo is believed to have been taken at a private residence.

MCA publicity spokesman Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker pointed out that when the first photograph emerged on social media, the chief minister conveniently brushed it off, claiming that he had taken photographs with numerous personalities and denied having any dealings with the Datuk Seri.

“He even retaliated by showing a picture of the same Datuk Seri posing for a photograph with Star Media Group managing director and CEO Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai.

“Wong responded by saying that there were many pictures of him taken with people he barely knew at events he attended and noted he was wearing shoes in the photograph,” Ti said in a statement.

But now with a second photograph of Lim and the Datuk Seri emerging so soon, Ti said, “so, what is Guan Eng’s excuse this time?”

Datuk Seri photo issue hots up

Pictured response: Lim revealing the pictures of the Datuk Seri’s wife with a Barisan leader at a press
conference in Komtar, Penang.

PETALING JAYA: Lim Guan Eng’s refusal to come clean on his relationship with the Datuk Seri being investigated for graft and his “revelation” of photos of the latter’s wife with Barisan leaders are acts of desperation, says Barisan Nasional Strategic Communications deputy director Datuk Eric See-To.

He slammed the Penang Chief Minister for not explaining his relationship with the Datuk Seri, who allegedly received RM19mil to help close the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) investigation files on Penang’s RM6.34bil undersea tunnel and three paired roads project.

“Firstly, the wife is a media personality whose job would invariably include meeting government leaders.

“Secondly, those photos were uploaded to her public social media account by her, unlike Guan Eng,” he said.

Two photos of Lim and the Datuk Seri have emerged so far.

The first showed both wearing socks, but no shoes, standing on a carpeted floor, while the second was a wefie of both men smiling widely in the back seat of a car.

At a press conference in George Town yesterday, Lim distributed photos of the Datuk Seri’s wife with Barisan leaders to the press in response to the claims that he was close to the Datuk Seri.

“Looking at so many photos of his wife with Barisan leaders, it is clear that both of them are strong Barisan supporters.

“Do not throw stones when you live in glass houses,” Lim said.

However, See-To pointed out that none of the two Barisan ministers who took the photos with the wife had any involvement in the controversial Penang project.

“The Chief Minister’s office had brushed off the first photo implying that he is not close to the suspect, only for a second one to emerge which shows that the relationship is deeper than his office suggested,” he said.

Meanwhile, Lim also told the press conference that the wefie of him and the Datuk Seri was taken with the latter’s handphone.

He added that the real question was who leaked the photos when only the Datuk Seri had them in his handphone.

“Even I do not have them,” he said.

Lim reiterated that he had “taken many photographs with many personalities” and could not recall how many times or where they were taken.

He said there may be more photos of him and the Datuk Seri, the latter’s wife and family members.

“Does taking photos with him, his wife and family make us close buddies?” he asked.

On the same issue, Datuk Seri S. Vell Paari called on Penang Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P. Ramasamy to stop being an apologist for Lim.

The MIC treasurer-general said Dr Ramasamy should have joined him in questioning Lim’s role in the Penang project.

“Ramasamy should now be brave and encourage his boss to make police reports if those two photos are fake, or he should insist that his boss sue me if he believes I had slandered him,” he said in a statement.

Vell Paari claimed that he knew with certainty that the first photo was taken at the Datuk Seri’s lavish house in Petaling Jaya in July last year.

He also claimed that the wefie of Lim and the Datuk Seri was taken in August last year.

The car belongs to the owner of the special purpose vehicle set up for the tunnel project, he claimed.

MIC wants Lim to explain relationship with Datuk Seri

Vell Paari appointed as new MIC Treas

PETALING JAYA: Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng must explain his relationship with a Datuk Seri being investigated in the Penang undersea tunnel project graft probe, said MIC treasurer-general Datuk Seri S. Vell Paari.

Vell Paari said Lim and his party DAP had a duty to the Indian community to “explain” their relationship with this suspect, who had “betrayed the trust of and cheated” the community.

“That suspect is involved in a case where many Malaysian Indians were cheated of their hard-earned money and savings.

“Datuk R. Ramanan and I had exposed him less than two years ago.

“As such, many individuals who are familiar with the suspect have told me that the photo of the Penang Chief Minister with the suspect was indeed taken in the lavish private home of the suspect,” said Vell Paari.

He said Lim and DAP must explain “when and why” the chief minister had visited the suspect’s house.

The 37-year-old Datuk Seri is being investigated by MACC for allegedly receiving RM19mil from the project’s main contractor Consortium Zenith Construction to “help settle” the commission’s probe into the controversial RM6.34bil project comprising an undersea tunnel and three main highways.

Lim’s office subsequently issued a statement saying that linking the Chief Minister to the Datuk Seri was a “disgusting smear attempt”.

“What dealings or businesses does he have with this Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission suspect?

“If the photo was indeed not from the suspect’s house, the Penang CM and DAP are more than welcome to sue me,” said Vell Paari.

Sources: The Star

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Make environment our 2018 priority


Our Environment is Our Life – YouTube

THE year has barely started, and already we have so many reports of weather and climate-related events.

Heavy wind, snow storms and below-freezing temperatures paralysed cities in the United States’ East Coast. New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport was in chaos with hundreds of flights suspended.

Yet, just weeks previously, big fires linked to a heat wave were sweeping through parts of California on the West Coast, burning 112.000ha of forest and threatening lives and homes.

Colder weather in one place and hotter temperatures in another are signs of global climate change, which can also cause heavier rainfall and drought in different regions.

While it is difficult to pin down any particular incident as a direct result of climate change, it is recognised scientifically that climate change generally exacerbates extreme weather events and may cause some of them.

We can expect the weather, and more broadly the environment, to figure prominently this year.

The alarm bells sounded long ago on the environmental crisis. But it is not easy to achieve a continuous high level of concern among political leaders.

After a calamity and public outrage, there are pledges to correct the situation. However, the interest fades after a while, and not much action is taken, until the next disaster happens.

In Malaysia, people are now looking at the sky constantly to anticipate whether it is going to rain.

Heavy rainfall has been causing floods in Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Johor, Negri Sembilan, Kedah, Selangor, Sabah and Sarawak.

In Penang, severe state-wide flash floods seem to be occurring every few months, with localised flooding in several areas in between. The mud brought down from eroded hill-slopes into overflowing rivers and then into houses, makes floods an even worse nightmare for those affected.

For some unlucky ones, hardly have their houses and furniture been cleaned than they are under one metre of water again through a new flood.

Heavier rain and more floods is the new normal in Malaysia. There has been an increase in rainfall for most parts of the country in 2000-2009 compared to 1970-1999, with the major increase in 2005-2009, according to a 2012 paper by Yap Kok Seng, then the head of the Malaysian Meteorological Depart­ment (MMD), and his colleagues.

The global temperature increase has led to changes in weather including major wind patterns, amount and intensity of precipitation, and increased frequency of severe storms and weather extremes, according to the paper, Malaysia Climate Change Scenarios.

In Malaysia since the 1980s, there had been increasing number of days of extreme rainfall events, extreme wind events and annual thunderstorm days, added the paper.

Unfortunately the situation will worsen. A study published on Jan 10, whose authors are affiliated with Germany’s Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, predicted that millions more people will be affected by river flooding as global warming increases severe rainfall in the next 20 years.

In Asia, the most affected region, people at risk from floods will rise to 156 million from the present 70 million in the next 20 years.

Global warming increases the risk of flooding because rain during an extreme downpour “increases exponentially” as temperatures rise, the institute’s Anders Levermann told Reuters.

“We have to adapt to global warming. Doing nothing will be dangerous,” he said.

Countries will have to act urgently and make major investments in flood protection to boost their flood defences, according to the report.

This advice surely applies to Malaysia as one of the countries already being affected by heavier rainfall and extensive river flooding.

Flood mitigation measures must be increased, including de-silting, widening and deepening rivers, improving urban drainage, strengthening river banks, redirecting water flows, constructing tidal gates, and pumping excess water into ponds.

Even more important is flood prevention. A main cause of the floods is deforestation, leading to the loss of the forests’ valuable roles in soil and water retention and climate regulation.

It is really short-sighted and irrational to damage and destroy forests, especially forest reserves and water catchment areas.

Exposed soils are swept by rain into rivers, clogging up streams and drains with mud and causing floods downstream in the towns and villages, while also depriving us of much-needed water supply.

There is a great deal of public concern over recent developments that threaten forests and hill lands in the country.

These include the de-gazetting of the Ulu Muda water catchment area in Kedah; the de-gazetting of hill lands in Penang that previously were protected under the Land Conservation Act and which are now being “developed” with the aid of higher permitted density ratio; the conversion of 4,515ha forest reserve to cultivate oil palm plantations in Terengganu (being opposed by WWF-Malaysia); and protests over the imminent loss of a forested park in Taman Rimba Kiara in Kuala Lumpur to make way for housing.

Federal, state and local governments should give priority to environmental rehabilitation of damaged forests and hills, prevent damage to the coastal ecosystem including mangroves, and take comprehensive flood prevention and mitigation measures.

They should stop approving environmentally harmful projects in ecologically sensitive areas.

They must make major financial allocations to protect and rehabilitate the environment, and implement finance measures to prevent and manage the floods.

As so many scientists are warning, and as more and more local communities and citizen groups are demanding, the time to act on the environment is now. Let us hope that in 2018 these calls will be heeded.

Global trends by Martin Khor

Martin Khor is executive director of the South Centre. The views expressed here are entirely his own.

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Who is sabotaging Penang undersea tunnel project?


Penang govt to blame, says Lau

PETALING JAYA: Barisan Nasional should not be blamed as it is DAP’s own doing that “sabotaged” the Penang undersea tunnel project, said Gerakan vice-president Datuk Dr Dominic Lau (pic).

He added it began when the DAP-led Penang government failed to provide feasibility reports on the project, which were supposed to be completed by April 2016.

“You missed the deadline and in October 2017, the special purpose vehicle (SPV) said there is no more urgency to complete the reports.

“Based on the original timeline, the first phase of the project was supposed to start construction in the first quarter of 2015 and completed by this year.

“As of now, this first phase has not even started construction,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Despite the multiple delays in the reports and the construction starting date, he said the Penang government did not appear to have penalised the SPV.

He said when the project was awarded, a statement was issued stating that shareholders of the SPV consortium are China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC), Beijing Urban Construction Group (BUCG), Zenith Construction, Juteras Sdn Bhd and Sri Tinggi Sdn Bhd.

“But today, CRCC, BUCG and Sri Tinggi were no longer listed as shareholders while Juteras Sdn Bhd is listed as winding up – leaving only one (Zenith Construction) out of the four shareholders in the agreement.

“Despite a material change of the financial and technical strength promised during the award and what it is now, the Penang government still does not appear to want to cancel the project or penalise the SPV,” he said.

“Even five years after the contract was awarded, the SPV still only has paid-up capital of RM26.5mil – way below the RM381mil minimum paid-up capital required by the Penang government to deliver the project.

“Meanwhile, the SPV is on course to make billions in two property projects valued at RM800mil and RM15bil respectively,” he said.

Meanwhile, Barisan Nasional Strategic Communications deputy director Datuk Eric See-To said the agreement shown to the media by Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng was different from the one MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong said was not stamped.

The agreement shown by Lim in a press conference on Friday was between the Penang state government with Consortium Zenith-BUCG; and not between the state and CRCC.

Previously, the Penang state government had shown a copy of a letter of support from the CRCC to prove that it is a party to the SPV awarded to undertake the undersea tunnel project.

On Tuesday, Dr Wee’s statement noted that the Acknowledgement of Commitment signed by the state government with CRCC was not a legally binding document and was hence not stamped.



Related Link:


Penang has enough roads and linkages, say activists – Nation

 

I was referring to three paired road projects, says Guan Eng – Nation …


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Dismayed over the exorbitant engineering 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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It is a Malaysian tsunami not Chinese tsunami, based on new aspirations and reality reflected in GE 13 outcome


GE13_popular_votes

BN fared worse this time around compared to 2008. The number of its parliamentary seats dwindled to 133 from 140. As for state legislative assemblies, the figure was even less impressive with 275 compared to 306 previously although the ruling coalition managed to recapture Kedah and legitimise its control over Perak.

For the first time since the 1969 general election, BN garnered less popular votes than the opposition. I agree with debaters who asserted that this is not a “Chinese tsunami” given the fact that the BN’s performance had also worsened in Malay majority states such as Terengganu.

“Please accept the results.” That was the closing remark of the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, in his media conference when accepting the Barisan Nasional’s victory in the 13th general elaction at the Umno headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

Briefly, my preliminary observation is BN cannot be proud or, more so, swollen-headed with its achievement because prior to this it had boasted openly about winning big and securing a two-third majority in the Dewan Rakyat and recapturing states held by the Pakatan Rakyat.

Instead, its achievement is worse than in the 2008 GE because the PR had succeeded in penetrating Johor and won more seats in Sarawak – two states deemed as BN’s fixed deposit – and won additional seats in state legislative assemblies nationwide.

Although the PR had failed in its “Ubah” and “Ini Kalilah” campaign to wrest control of the Federal Government, the pact had nevertheless expanded its presence to all states.

BN had successfully recaptured Kedah and defended Perak, but failed in its attempt to win back Selangor and Kelantan although its propaganda machinery had given the impression that Selangor was already in its hand and there were hopes of winning Kelantan.

With regard to Selangor, its defeat is a major slap in the face for being so boastful.

Penang needs no mention. Both the Gerakan and MCA were totally destroyed.

The bait Najib put before the Chinese produced no results. They openly rejected BN.

Najib was stunned by the outcome and promised changes to Umno. But the poor showing compared to 2008 has made his position vulnerable.

Also, is the outcome of this general election a “tsunami Cina” (Chinese tsunami) as Najib had described them or were they the manifestation of something more significant i.e. a large number of voters no longer accept the BN and the BN-led government as it exists today?

Is it not possible that this is not a Chinese tsunami or ethnic chauvinism but instead a Malaysian tsunami that is based on new aspirations and reality, especially among the young voters?

Although BN has recaptured Kedah, its strength in all state legislative assemblies had fallen.

It almost lost Terengganu as well as surrendered many seats to PR in all states.

On the PR side, it must accept the choice of voters and any dissatisfaction and dispute must be settled in accordance with laws and regulations, and not via street protests.

Wallahualam. – Akadirjasin.blogspot.com/akadirjasin.com.
> A. Kadir Jasin is Editor-in-Chief of magazine publishing company, Berita Publishing Sdn Bhd

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Malaysian election: Relooking ideals of democracy, How to casting Your Vote?


The workings of electoral democracy face many challenges that separate the democracy’s virtues from the sordid realities that need to be admitted and rectified.

Transformation Malaysia

IN a democracy, the government must be representative of the people and answerable, responsible and accountable to the wishes of society. Elections are one aspect of this accountability.

Unfortunately, the electoral exercise in all democracies is so colossal, involves so many details, so many people (240,000 workers for the forthcoming elections) and so much money (RM400mil) that it is extremely vulnerable to manipulation and malpractices.

Despite democracy’s undoubted virtues, the sordid realities of the electoral exercise need to be noted and rectified.

A genuinely democratic electoral process must possess the following salient features.

First, there must be in existence constitutional provisions for the existence, composition and tenure of legislative assemblies. These are provided for in detail in our federal and state constitutions.

Second, the electoral system must translate votes into parliamentary seats.

Two main types of electoral systems exist – the simple plurality system and the system of proportional representation. In the simple plurality system, the candidate obtaining the most votes is declared elected.

There is no requirement that he must obtain more than 50% of the votes polled. In a three-cornered contest, the “winner” may capture the seat with only a minority of the votes.

In addition to non-representative outcomes in individual constituencies, the simple plurality system permits a massive disparity at the national level between the percentage of votes polled and the percentage of parliamentary seats won.

For example in 2004, Barisan Nasional won 63.9% of the popular vote but 90.4% of the Dewan Rakyat seats. In Britain in the 70s, the victorious Labour party won only 37% of the popular vote but a working majority in Parliament.

In contrast, in the proportional representation system, parliamentary seats are given to parties in proportion to the percentage of popular votes obtained by them.

The positive outcome is that the legislature is truly representative.

But the negative feature of a proportional representation system is that a large number of political parties join the fray and none command a firm majority in the legislature. Instability, frequent change of government and gridlock result.

Third, democracy requires that a fair and impartial machinery for delineating and revising electoral constituencies must be in place.

Every citizen’s vote must carry equal weight. This means that in principle, all constituencies must be approximately equal in population size.

Unfortunately, if this ideal were to be strictly followed, all constituencies in rural areas, in hilly terrains as in Pahang, and in territorially large but thinly populated states as in Sabah and Sarawak will have very few MPs.

The Constitution in 1957, therefore, allowed a measure of weightage to be given to rural constituencies. Unfortunately, how much weightage may be given is no where specified and wide disparities exist.

The largest parliamentary constituency is Kapar, Selangor, with 144,369 voters; the smallest is Putrajaya with 15,355 voters – i.e. 9.4 times smaller. In Perak, the largest is Gopeng with 97,243 electors; the smallest is Padang Rengas with 28,572 – a difference of 3.4.

Fourth, a fair and impartial machinery for drawing up an electoral register is necessary.

In Malaysia, it is the job of the Election Commission to draw up the electoral register impartially, to ensure that no one is denied the right to vote, that there are no phantom voters or persons who have died, that no non-citizens are allowed to register, that voters satisfy the requirement of residence in their constituency and that no one registers in more than one electoral district.

Fifth, the law must permit universal adult franchise (right to vote). Regrettably, our voting age (21 on the date of registration) is very high. Consequently, nearly 55% of the population is rendered ineligible to vote. We need to reduce this proportion. There is also no automatic registration.

Many citizens are apathetic and do not register as voters. Some who do fail to show up on election day because voting is not compulsory.

We have 13.3 million registered voters who constitute only 46% of our population of 28.9 million.

If one were to deduct those who do not show up, this leaves only 34.5% of the population that participates in democracy’s showcase event! We must find ways to increase this proportion.

Sixth, there must be legal rules for the eligibility of candidates and for the nomination of contestants. These exist in detail.

Seventh, there must be rules about the limits on the powers of caretaker governments. In the case of PP v Mohd Amin Razali (2002), the court provided some guidance. We could also emulate conventions from the Common­wealth.

Eighth, legal and conventional rules exist for the conduct of election campaigns, duration of the campaign period and rights of political parties to reach out to the electorate. Ninth, election expenses are controlled so that the electoral exercise does not degenerate into a battle of cheque books.

In Malaysia, the law puts a ceiling on the expenditure by individual candidates (RM100,000 for state and RM200,000 for federal seats) and imposes a duty to maintain a record of contributions and filing of audited statements of expenditure.

However, there is no control on what political parties may spend or receive by way of donation.

Tenth, the Constitution confers safeguards for freedom of speech, assembly and association.

In many democratic countries, there are provisions for equal access to the media for all contestants. In Malaysia, media monopoly is a serious problem.

The Internet is, however, open to everyone and provides an alternative, though not always reliable, source of information.

In sum, though democracy is the best form of government, there can be no denying that behind the folklore of electoral democracy stand many myths and many utilitarian compromises. Every where in the world electoral reform is being called for. Unfortunately, there are no quick-fix, simple solutions.

For this GE, many improvements, like extension of postal votes to those abroad and use of indelible ink, speak well of the recognition of the need for reform. But the challenges are many and, in some cases, fundamental.

What one can hope for is that as in the past our electoral exercise will remain peaceful and that its result will provide a strong and stable government to lead us forward.

Reflecting On The Law by SHAD SALEEM FARUQI
> Shad Saleem Faruqi is Emeritus Professor of Law at UiTM

How to casting Your Vote?

Check & Print out:
Check on-line first (http://daftarj.spr.gov.my/semakpru13.aspx) and print out your details before going to the voting center. You may be able to by-pass the Barung counter since you have a printout and know where to go and thus short cut your time. 

How to hold your ballot paper?How to hold ballot paper

Shaken indelible ink: 
Failure to shake the bottles vigorously has caused the ink used for polling to be washed off easily, the Election Commission clarified, referring to several cases during advance voting which are causing a stir in the social media. The EC gave assurance that those who have cast their ballots will not vote again on Sunday. Failure to shake the bottles vigorously has caused the ink used for polling to be washed off easily, the Election Commission clarified, referring to several cases during advance voting which are causing a stir in the social media. The EC gave assurance that those who have cast their ballots will not vote again on Sunday.

Why should we be afraid of Hudud Law? (Must Watch)?

Anwar Ibrahim at Han Chiang Hig

 

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