Call on the Government to downsize the country’s bloated civil service


Sheriff: ‘Government bureaucracy has grown so big that it’s not only taking up too much resources but creating many failures in our finance economy

KUALA LUMPUR: One of Malaysia’s former top civil servants has called on the Government to consider downsizing the country’s bloated civil service, while it still can.

Malaysia has the highest civil servants to population ratio in the Asia-Pacific, employing 1.6 million people or 11% of the country’s labour force.

And that could be a problem Malaysia may not be able to sustain if it runs into a financial crisis, said Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim, the former Finance Ministry secretary-general and Economic Planning Unit director-general.

He said if the Government was really set on keeping the national deficit at 3%, it needed to look at retrenching employees, particularly in the lower levels of the civil service, to cut spending.

“Government bureaucracy has grown so big that it’s not only taking up too much resources but creating many failures in our finance economy. There are just too many rules and regulations that the public and private sector have to live with,” he told a delegation of economists, politicians and government officials at the Malaysian Economic Association’s forum on public sector governance.

He advised Malaysia to begin downsizing the civil service, “better sooner than later” if it wanted to avoid running the risk of falling into a Greece-like crisis, where the European country had to cut salaries and was unable to pay pensions for its civil service.

Drawing examples from the recent Malaysia Airlines restructuring, where 6,000 people were retrenched, Mohd Sheriff said it was better to let staff go now and compensate them with retrenchment packages while the Government can still afford it.

“It may cost the Government a heavy expenditure now but it is worthwhile to do it now while we can still afford it and not until we are forced into a financial crisis like Greece.

“We don’t want to be in that situation. I think we should do it gradually. It is kinder to do it now with incentives than to suddenly cut their salaries and pensions at a time when they can least afford it,” he said.

Malaysia is expected to spend RM76bil in salaries and allowances for the civil service this year, on top of another RM21bil for pensions. Efficiency and corruption dominated talks on the civil service at the forum, held at Bank Negara’s Sasana Kijang.

Mohd Sheriff, who is also former president of the Malaysian Economic Association, said these issues have been around since his time in the civil service decades ago though not much has changed due to a lack of political will.

In jest, he suggested Malaysia emulate United States President Donald Trump’s idea on downsizing the US civil service by closing down two departments of the Government if it wanted to open another one.

He also suggested that Parliament create a committee to monitor the performance of top civil servants and give them the ability to retrench these officers if they fail to meet their marks.

“In many countries, even Indonesia, they have committees to hold Government leaders to any shortcomings on policy implementations and projects.

“These are the kinds of checks and balance we need to make our civil servants aware that they are being monitored for their work and they can be pulled out at any time,” he said.

Finance Minister II Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani had said Malaysia’s ratio of civil servants is one to 19.37 civilians and that the high number of Government staff had caused expenditures to balloon yearly.

As a comparison, the ratio in Indonesia is 1:110, in China it is 1:108, in Singapore it’s 1:71.4 and in South Korea the ratio is 1:50.

Despite this, Johari said there were no plans to reduce the number of civil servants.

By Nicholas Ccheng The Star

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Penang CM corruption case, Court to rule on motion anti-corruption act ‘unconstitutional’


In this file photo taken on 30 June 2016, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and business woman Phang Li Khoon was seen in Penang Sessions Court. Lim was charged with two counts of corruption. The High Court here today fixed March 7 to unveil its decision on a motion filed by two accused parties in the corruption case of Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who are seeking a declaration that Section 62 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Act is unconstitutional. Pix by Danial Saad
Men of law: DPP Masri (right) leading the prosecution team out of the courtroom after the day’s proceedings.

Court to rule on ‘violation’ motion ahead of CM corruption trial

GEORGE TOWN: The High Court here will rule on March 7 whether Section 62 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 is in violation of the Federal Constitution.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and businesswoman Phang Li Khoon want Section 62 to be declared unconstitutional as they claim it is against the tenet of “considered innocent unless proven guilty.”

Penang High Court judge Datuk Hadhariah Syed Ismail set the date after the defence and prosecution made their arguments.

Lim and Phang are facing charges under the MACC Act in relation to the sale and purchase of a bungalow in 2014 and separately filed the motion to declare Section 62 a violation of the Federal Constitution in early January.

Phang’s counsel Datuk V. Sithambaram said Section 62 must be struck down as “it is contrary to a right to fair trial and is in violation of the fundamental rights of the accused.”

He argued that the section infringes the accused’s constitutional right under Article 5(1) and Article 8(1) of the Federal Constitution.

“Section 62 of the MACC Act requires the defence’s statement and documents, which would be tendered as evidence, to be delivered to the prosecution before the start of trial.

“However, the right of an accused to be presumed innocent and right to silence are encapsulated in the Federal Constitution.

“Article 5(1) declares that no person shall be deprived of life or liberty save in accordance with law and Article 8(1) dictates that all persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law.

“The court has not called for defence and yet the prosecution is asking for the statement of defence, even before the court decides. This is against the presumption of innocence,” he told the court yesterday.

Gobind Singh, acting for Lim, said the provision favours the prosecution and discriminates against the rights of the accused.

He argued that Section 62 restricted the defence of the accused person by excluding the right of an accused to expand his defence further and produce further documents at the trial.

“It is against the provisions of equality under Article 8 of the Federal Constitution.

He also said the accused could be subjected to criminal consequences under Section 68 of the MACC Act for failing to comply with the Act’s provisions and be penalised under Section 69 of the MACC Act.

DPP Masri Mohd Daud said Section 62 of the MACC Act is not discriminatory and is procedural and a general provision.

“The Act does not stop the defence from making further submissions other than those which had been submitted,” said Masry.

“The arguments that Section 62 contradicts Article 5 of the Con-stitution is far-fetched! Article 5 refers to, among others, the rights to consult a lawyer and the rights to be informed of the grounds for an arrest.”

On June 30, last year, Lim was charged with obtaining gratification for himself and his wife Betty Chew by approving the conversion of two lots of agricultural land belonging to Magnificent Emblem into residential development while chairing a state Planning Committee meeting on July 18, 2014.

The offence under Section 23 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act, carries a jail term of up to 20 years and a fine of at least five times the value of gratification or RM10,000, whichever is higher.

He faces another charge under Section 165 of the Penal Code for using his position to obtain gratification by purchasing his bungalow in Pinhorn Road from Phang at RM2.8mil, below the market value of RM4.27mil, on July 28, 2015. The offence is punishable by a maximum of two years in jail or a fine, or both.

Phang, who is charged with abetment, faces up to two years in jail or a fine, or both.

Both Lim and Phang have pleaded not guilty. Their cases will be jointly heard between March and July.

Phang is respresented by Sithambaram, Hisyam Teh Poh Teik and A. Ruebankumar, while Lim by Gobind, Ramkarpal Singh Deo, R.S.N Rayer and Terence Naidu.

By Chong Kah Yuan The Star/Asia News Network

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MALAYSIAN ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSION ACT 2009 – SPRM

http://www.sprm.gov.my/…/1059-malaysiananticorruptioncommissionact2009act-694

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More big corrupt officials nabbed: Datuk among those busted for graft & mismanagement


Sitting in the lap of luxury: A Mercedes Benz belonging to one of the suspects

https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/LYHqhmC5oeknocookie.com/embed/Hap2yFzhxG0 https://youtu.be/LYHqhmC5oek

Five people, including two former senior officers of Felda, are in remand for seven days from today for investigations into alleged misappropriation in connection with a sturgeon fish rearing project worth RM47.6 million. — Bernama

Five Felda officials linked to Felda, one of them a ‘Datuk’ have been arrested in a sting operation dubbed ‘Ops Caviar’ , as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission zeroes in on a RM47.6 million sturgeon farming project which failed to take off in Pahang.

PETALING JAYA: Felda is the latest government-linked company (GLC) to be investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), which saw three current and two former officers, one of them a Datuk, being arrested for alleged corruption over a project worth RM47.6mil.

Three of them were former senior executives, who held positions of power when they were still with the GLC.

They are the GLC’s former director-general, ex-deputy director-general (strategic resources), and the former operations officer in charge of the sturgeon project.

Two others detained were its head of London Properties and an assistant administration officer.

All five were picked up in a sting operation, dubbed Ops Caviar, by officers from the anti-graft body between 11.30am and 6pm in several locations around Klang Valley yesterday.

Many valuable items were seized during the raids, including a luxury car and jewellery, estimated to be worth millions of ringgit.

More items are expected to be seized as anti-graft officers visit their homes and obtain details of their assets and personal accounts of their immediate family members to be frozen as part of investigations.

They are being investigated for alleged corruption, abuse of positions and using the GLC for personal gain.

It is learnt that the investigation was zeroing in on the implementation of technology transfer in relation to the sturgeon fish rearing project with a Korean firm.

“We believe all the five suspects are directly involved in the project worth US$10mil (RM47.6mil) since 2014.

Penchant for bling bling: Some of the jewellery seized from the suspects.
Major haul: Some of the items sized by MACC

“Checks showed that in early 2013, a meeting was held to discuss the project.

“But the Felda board of directors told the 53-year-old suspect to first come up with a detailed report and a proposal on the amount of investments for the project before making a decision,” said a source.

But unknown to the Felda directors, financial and legal divisions, a company – Felda Carviative Sdn Bhd (FCSB) – was set up in January 2014.

An agreement, worth US$45mil (RM146.25mil), was then signed between the company and a Korean firm, in relation to sturgeon rearing deal.

Checks by the MACC showed the project did not receive accreditation from the Pahang Department of Environment as per the SOP.

“We found payment made to the Korean firm about one week after the FCSB was set up.

“This was despite no approval being obtained from the Felda directors,” added the source.

So far, funds amounting to RM47.6mil from Felda have been disbursed by the suspects.

It is learnt the deal with the foreign firm involved technology transfer, service agreement and design and construction agreement.

The agreement was said to have been inked by the Datuk and the 53-year-old suspect, both of whom were former directors of FCSB.

Then, the financial division was also under the purview of both suspects.

MACC director of investigations Datuk Simi Abd Ghani confirmed the arrests of the five.

Simi said stacks of documents relating to the project had been seized to assist in the probe.

“The investigation is still in the initial stage. We will need time to sift through the documents and call in more witnesses to gather evidence. Give us some time to work on the case,” he said.

All the five suspects, held overnight at the MACC Putrajaya headquarters, will be remanded today.

Source: The Star/ANN

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Auditor General Ambrin: Losses in publicly funded projects due to graft

Tan Sri Ambrin Buang

KUALA LUMPUR: Mismanage­ment and corruption in publicly funded construction projects have caused potential losses of up to 30% of a project’s investment value, according to the Auditor-General (pic).

Tan Sri Ambrin Buang said a study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank showed how corruption in the infrastructure and extractive sectors had led to misallocation of public funds and services that were substandard and insufficient.

“It is difficult to measure the exact cost, but it has been estimated that between 10% and 30% of the investment in publicly funded construction projects may be lost through mismanagement, and about 20% to 30% of project value is lost through corruption,” he said at the Combating Procurement Fraud in the Public and Private Sectors Forum 2017 yesterday.

The forum highlighted the issues in public procurements in Malaysia – a process where the government obtains works, goods or services from companies and one that Ambrin said is most vulnerable to corruption.

Ambrin’s speech was read out by the National Audit Department’s research, corporate and international relations division director Roslan Abu Bakar.

Ambrin also observed that procurement fraud in the public sector is a complex issue, covering a wide range of illegal activities from bid-rigging during the pre-contract award phase through to false invoicing in the post-contract award phase.

He noted that last year, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Com­mission had opened up a series of investigations involving government procurements.

“One of these involved senior government officials making false claims and fraud amounting to RM20mil last year, and this was followed by a case involving a senior Youth and Sports Ministry official amounting to RM107mil.

“Another case involved a Sabah Water Department official for fraud amounting to RM153mil, and the latest arrest involved a federal ministry secretary-general,” he said.

The Auditor-General added that based on experience, he could not entirely dismiss the existence of bid-rigging in Malaysia’s public procurement.

“One of the signs is when an equipment price is quoted higher than market value.

“If procurement officers do not research market prices, they will believe that the given price is reasonable.

“For example, in the Audit Report, we highlighted significant differences in prices of certain equipment, ranging from RM1,000 to RM7,200 additional cost for the same types and specifications,” he said.

Post-contract fraud is also a common problem, and Ambrin said the department had identified cases where payment control systems were bypassed to allow for fraud to occur.

Source: The Star/ANN



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Another big fish nabbed for corruption, graft rampant and serious!


PETALING JAYA: Three months after trailing him, the Malaysian-Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) moved in and arrested Rural and Regional Development Ministry secretary-general Datuk Mohd Arif Ab Rahman at his home just as he was about to leave for work.

Gold bars, 150 luxury handbags, branded watches and foreign currencies were found after officers searched the property in USJ3, Subang Jaya, for 12 hours.

The gold bars and Australian and Euro currencies seized were estimated at RM3mil.

The designer handbags were from brands such as Chanel, Hermes, Dior, Louis Vuitton and Gucci.

Prices for some of these bags range from RM7,000 to RM100,000 each.

When contacted, MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki confirmed the arrests of Mohd Arif, 59, and his 29-year-old son at their home at 8am yesterday.

He said the case was being investigated for abuse of power, corruption and money laundering.

Raid target: MACC officers arrested Mohd Arif at his house in Subang Jaya as he was about to leave for work.

The MACC is said to be investigating whe­ther all his overseas trips and other expenses incurred there were paid for by “certain individuals”.

A source said Mohd Arif just returned from a golfing trip to the United States.

“More suspects will be picked up soon to assist in the probe,” Azam said.

Mohd Arif and his son are expected to be remanded this morning.

It is understood that MACC is investigating 38 savings and current accounts and at least three safe deposit boxes in several banks in connection with the case.

The probe also covers several plots of lands.

The source said several documents from a lawyer’s office in Puchong related to the plots of land were also seized.

It is learnt that statements had also been recorded from Mohd Arif’s 57-year-old wife, his 32-year-old daughter and another son aged 34.

The couple has six children.

Car and cash: A Proton Perdana is seen parked outside the house of Mohd Arif.

Attempts to contact Mohd Arif for comments were unsuccessful.

A visit to his double-storey terrace corner lot home at about 7pm showed that no one was present.

Three luxury cars were parked in the porch. The housing area is a gated and guarded community.

A Proton Perdana was parked in front of the house.

Mohd Arif was appointed to the ministry post on Oct 16, 2015. He also sits in the board of a government-linked company.

Prior to that, he also served as a secretary-general in another ministry and was a deputy secretary-general and state financial officer.

He joined the civil service in 1981 as an administrative and diplomatic officer and is a Universiti Malaya graduate.

Sources: Simon Khoo, Mazwin Nik Anis, Andaustin Camoens The Star/Asian News Network

MACC: Sec-gen is from Rural and Regional Development Ministry 

 

PETALING JAYA: The suspect who was arrested earlier Wednesday for alleged graft is from the Rural and Regional Development Ministry, confirms Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki.

When contacted to verify the identity of the suspect, Azam confirmed that it was the current Ministry secretary-general, Datuk Mohd Arif Ab Rahman.

In a statement earlier, Azam said that Mohd Arif was arrested at his house in USJ Subang Jaya at 8am.

Also arrested was a 29-year-old male suspect.

Mohd Arif is suspected to have abused his power and position since 2010 to solicit bribes.

Initial investigations showed he had a direct hand in appointing contractors, suppliers and vendors.

The MACC has also confiscated cash and gold bars worth about RM3mil.


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Luxury watches seized from the family.

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Anti- Corruption Commission (MACC) has seized gold bars and cash amounting to some RM3 million from the secretary-general of a federal ministry, who was arrested for suspected graft today.

The 59-year-old “datuk” was detained at his home in Subang Jaya by an MACC raiding team at 8am today. Also arrested was his 29-year-old son.

It is learnt that investigators have also quizzed the secretary-general’s wife, two daughters and another son.

Members of the raiding party spent 12 hours searching their house where they seized 150 luxury handbags and dozens of luxury watches.

The MACC also raided his lawyer’s office in Puchong where investigators took away an undisclosed number of documents related to the case.

In confirming the arrest, MACC deputy Chief Commissioner (Operations) Datuk Azam Baki hinted at the possibility of more arrests to come in connection with the case.

He said the Datuk is suspected of having received bribes from selected contractors, vendors and suppliers whom he had awarded government work and contracts.

The Datuk, who was previously secretary-general of another ministry before being appointed to his current position where he is directly involved in the award of government work contracts, is also a director in a government-linked company (GLC).

He is alleged to have recently taken a trip to play golf in the United States, for which MACC investigators learnt the expenses were paid by certain individuals with vested interests in projects by the Datuk’s ministry.

The arrest comes days after MACC chief commissioner Datuk Dzulkifli Ahmad on Sunday had advised senior civil servants to stop their golfing trips abroad as it can be opportunities for corruption.

On Tuesday, during an interview with the MACC.fm, Azam had reiterated his boss’ advice, saying that golf often offers an opportunity for those in upper society to establish contacts, whether they are public figures, government officials or businessmen.

“Golf by itself is not wrong and those who join others to play golf are not wrong, too. I also play golf. But in Malaysia, golf involves high-ranking officials, public figures and people in high-society.

“An entourage on overseas golfing trips often include contractors, suppliers … sometimes the whole (government official’s) office go along on these trips,” he said.

Azam said this does not only happen at the federal level but has also involved state, district and local government officials.

By Charles Ramendran newsdesk@thesundaily.com

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2017 – expect a bumpy year ahead worldwide


This will be a year like no other, as there will be a thunderous clash of policies, economies and politics worldwide. We should prepare for the challenges ahead and not be only spectators.

THE new year has dawned. Everyone agrees 2017 will be very interesting.

It will also be most problematic. From politics to economics and finance, we’ll be on a roller-coaster ride.

With his extreme views and bulldozing style, President-elect Donald Trump is set to create an upheaval, if not revolution, in the United States and the world.

He is installing an oil company chief as the Secretary of State, investment bankers in key finance positions, climate sceptics and anti-environmentalists in environmental and energy agencies and an extreme rightwing internet media mogul as his chief strategist.

US-China relations, the most im­­por­­tant for global stability, could change from big-power co-existen­ce, with a careful combination of competition and cooperation, to outright crisis.

Trump, through his phone call with the Taiwanese president and after, signalled he could withdraw the longstanding US adherence to the One China policy and instead use Taiwan as a negotiating card in overall relations with China. The Chinese perceive this as an extreme provocation.

He has appointed as head of the new National Trade Council an economist known for his many books demonising China, including Death by China: Confronting the Dragon.

Trump seems intent on doing an about-turn on US trade policies. Measures being considered include a 45% duty on Chinese products, extra duties and taxes on American companies located abroad, and even a 10% tariff on all imports.

Thus 2017 will see protectionism rise in the United States, the extent still unknown. That is bad news for many developing countries whose economies have grown on the back of exports and international investments.

Europe in 2017 will also be pre­occupied with its own regional problems. The Brexit shock of 2016 will continue to reverberate and other countries facing elections will be less open to the world and become more inward-looking.

As protectionism, xenophobia and narrow nationalism grow in Western societies, Asian countries should devise development strategies based more on domestic and regional demand and investments.

2017 may be the year when resource-rich China, with its deve­lopment banks and its Belt and Road Initiative, fills in the economic void created by Western trade and investment protectionism.

But this may not be sufficient to prevent a finance shock in many developing countries now beginning to suffer a reversal of capital flowing back to the United States, attracted by the prospect of higher interest rates and economic growth.

In 2017 Malaysia will be among the countries most vulnerable to this, due to the large foreign ownership of local bonds and shares.

As capital flows out and the currency depreciates further, the affected countries’ companies will have to pay more for servicing loans contracted in foreign currencies and imported machinery and parts, while consumers grumble about the rising cost of living.

On the positive side, exporters will earn more in local currency terms and tourism will increase, but this may not be enough to offset the negative effects.

Thus 2017 will not be kind to the economy, business and the pockets of the common man and woman. It might even spark a new financial crisis.

The old year ended with mixed blessings for Palestinians. On one hand, they won a significant victory when the outgoing President Barack Obama allowed the adoption of a United Nations Security Council re­solution condemning Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories by not exercising a veto.

The resolution will spur international actions against the expansion of settlements which have become a big obstacle to peace talks.

On the other hand, the Israeli lea­dership, which responded defiantly with plans for more settlements, will find in Trump a much more sympathetic president. He is appointing a pro-Israel hawk as the US ambassador to Israel.

With Trump also indicating he will tear up the nuclear power deal with Iran, the Middle East will have an even more tumultuous time in 2017.

The commencement of floods in some parts of Malaysia during the holiday season, ironically following days of the taps going dry for millions in the Klang Valley, is a pre­lude to the environment continuing to be a critical issue in 2017.

Unfortunately, low priority is given to the environment. Hundreds of billions of dollars are allocated for highways, railways and urban buildings but only a trickle for conservation and rehabilitation of hills, watersheds, forests, mangroves, coastal areas, biodiversity or for serious climate change actions.

2017 should be the year when priorities change, that when people talk about infrastructure or deve­lopment, they put actions to protect and promote the environment as the first items for allocation of funds.

This new year will also be make-or-break for climate change. The momentum for action painfully built up in recent years will find a roadblock in the United States as the new president dismantles Oba­ma-initiated policies and measures.

But Trump and his team will face resistance domestically, including from state governments and muni­cipalities that have their own climate plans, and from other countries determined to carry on without the United States on board.

Indeed, if 2017 will bring big changes initiated by the new US administration, it will also generate many counter-actions to fill in the void left in the world by a withdrawing United States or to counter its new unsettling actions.

There are opportunities to think through and alternatives and re­forms that are needed on global and national economies, on the environment and on geo-­politics.

Most of the main levers of power and decision-making are still in the hands of a few countries and a few people, but there has also been the emergence of many new centres of economic, environmental and intellectual capabilities and community-based organising.

2017 will be a year in which ideas, policies, economies and politics will clash, thunderously, and we should be prepared for the challenges ahead, not just be spectators.

Global Trends By Martin Khor

Martin Khor (director@southcentre.org) is executive director of the South Centre. The views expressed here are entirely his own.

 

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Penang Island City Council, MBPP councilor Dr Lim fed up change not happening in Penang


Stepping down: Dr Lim giving a speech at the council meeting at City Hall, Penang.

Dr. Lim tells why he walked

GEORGE TOWN: The only city councillor here who dared to go against the state government does not want to continue after his term ends on New Year’s Eve because he is disappointed with the Penang Island City Council (MBPP).

Dr Lim Mah Hui (pic) said he no longer wanted to serve because “the change in Penang that we want doesn’t seem to be happening”.

“I will remain active as a Penang Forum committee member. I will still speak up on public issues.

“I believe people in public offices should serve for limited terms. Perhaps it will take a fresher mind with new ideas and approaches to make things happen for the better,” he said.

Dr Lim, who has served as a councillor since 2011, also believed that the council should allow the public to observe council committee meetings.

“The committee meetings are where decisions are made. If people are watching the deliberations, then public scrutiny can help temper political interests,” he added.

The press and the public are allowed to witness full council meetings, but Dr Lim said these were formal meetings to confirm matters that had been decided upon.

Dr Lim is the sole city councillor out of 24 with no political ties. A former professor and international banker, he was nominated to MBPP by Penang Forum, a loose coalition of numerous NGOs in the state.

His appointment stemmed from the current government’s 2008 move to swear in councillors representing NGOs. Four such councillors were initially appointed but since 2012, although the official NGO councillors still stand at four, only Dr Lim is known to come strictly from civil society.

He made his maverick nature clear less than a year after being a councillor when he joined a group of 30 people to publicly protest against his own council outside City Hall months after being appointed.

In March this year, he was involved in a heated exchange with Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng during an NGO dialogue session over parking woes, road-widening projects and the council enforcement’s car-towing figures.

In July, Dr Lim criticised the state’s Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) and suggested an alternative better, cheaper, faster transport master plan.

A month before that, he sent a letter to Unesco expressing fears that the PTMP would jeopardise George Town’s World Heritage Site status.

Throughout his tenure in MBPP, Dr Lim has been called a liar, back-stabber and betrayer of the state government by local politicians. NGO members, however, hold him in high regard.

“Nobody can live up to Mah Hui’s standard as an example of integrity and representing public interest without fear or favour.

“He had been talking about stepping down for some time.

“Maybe he needs to take a break and we hope he will accept the post again,” said fellow Penang Forum member Khoo Salma Nasution, whom the group has nominated to take Dr Lim’s place.

Former DAP member Roger Teoh, who was initially at loggerheads with Dr Lim over the PTMP, said it was a shame that local politicians had painted him in a negative light.

“Something was not right about how the state was reacting to Dr Lim’s Unesco letter. I felt he was unfairly labelled as treasonous. If his concerns were heard internally, would he have needed to write to Unesco?” he asked.

Teoh had initially supported the PTMP and openly criticised Dr Lim.

He changed his stand after doing a Masters thesis research on car use in 100 cities around the world, which led him to resign from DAP recently.

Sources: Arnold Loh The Star/Asian News Network

Dr Lim Mah Hui to make way for new blood 

                                                                          GEORGE TOWN: Outspoken Penang Forum member Dr Lim Mah Hui (pic) will not seek another term as a Penang Island City councillor.

“I have declined to be nominated for the reappointment as a councillor next year. I have served six years.

“I think I have served long enough and we need new blood and new people to take up the cause,” he said at the council’s monthly meeting yesterday.

He later told a press conference that Penang Forum suggested Khoo Salma Nasution, the forum’s steering committee member and Penang Heritage Trust vice-president, as his replacement.

“We have nominated Khoo as the representative for Penang Forum and NGOs. We will have to wait for the state executive council to decide on the nominations.

“Nobody told me to step down. It was my own decision. Penang Forum wanted me to continue but I told them I had done more than my share.

“I will remain in the Penang Transport Council,” he said.

Dr Lim, however, said he would continue to be vocal and speak out.

He urged the Penang Island City Council to open its meetings to the public to promote greater transparency and participation.

“Section 23 of the Local Govern-ment Act 1976 gives the local council the power to do so.

“Members of the public can also be invited to sit in, possibly as observers, at the council’s committee and sub-committee meetings where decisions are made.

“This is the challenge I put forward. If they are truly taking about change and a new type of government, then they should do that,” said Dr Lim.

Dr Lim has raised various concerns during his stint as a councillor and forum member on issues related to hill clearing, land reclamation, heritage conservation and the proposed Penang Transport Master Plan. – The Star

Developers unafraid of Penang authorities, says activist group

 

CHANT cited the demolition of the 19th century Khaw Sim Bee Mansion and illegal hilltop clearing of Bukit Relau as examples of the developers’ fearlessness. — File picture by Bernama – See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/developers-unafraid-of-penang-authorities-says-activist-group#sthash.muMUgaNa.dpuf

GEORGE TOWN, March 16 — Developers in Penang no longer fear flouting the law as the authorities seem to be “toothless” in taking punitive actions, an activist group claimed.

Referring to the latest hill-clearing incident on Bukit Gambir and similar past incidents, Penang Citizens Awareness Chant Group (CHANT) coordinator Yan Lee said the developers knew they could easily get away with illegal earthworks or structural demolitions.

This was because the state government and the municipal council were not prepared to take stern punitive action against them, he said in a text message yesterday.

The council has come under fire in the past few days after a developer defied a stop-work order to carry out earthworks on the hill slope of Bukit Gambir in Gelugor.

CHANT cited the demolition of the 19th century Khaw Sim Bee Mansion and illegal hilltop clearing of Bukit Relau, commonly referred to as “Botak Hill”, as examples of the developers’ fearlessness.

Yan Lee claimed that the developers were fearless because they knew a contribution to the state heritage fund (SHF) “can do magic”.

A check by Malay Mail yesterday showed the developer had stopped work for two days on the hill slope, located behind the Gambier Heights apartments.

The council had issued the stop-work order on Thursday.

The hill was cleared to build a temporary 500m-long access road and fencing for a housing project site on the hill slope.

Trees were chopped down to make way for the road, while a lorry and an excavator were parked at the construction site.

According to some residents, the earthworks began early this month.

The residents also complained of pollution caused by dust, and noise caused by the frequent movement of vehicles.

Traffic management and flood mitigation committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow called on the council to take stern action against the developer for “jumping the gun”.

He said the developer should have waited for the council to issue a commencement of work certificate.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia urged the state authorities to stop the developer from clearing the hill, and to implement firm policies to protect the hills and greenery in the state.

It warned against a repeat of the “Botak Hill” incident.

An MPPP councillor also said the developers had no respect for the authorities.

“Even if the council were to haul them up for violating the law, they know they will get away with a token fine,” the councillor, who asked not to be named, said.

He cited a previous case where a developer completed a housing project despite the case for carrying out illegal earthworks pending in court.

Sources: Athi Shanka, MalayMail online

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Corruption among the privileged rampant! Graft probe in Sabah almost done

 Let us do more against graft, bring corrupt culprits to court fast !

https://en.wikipedia.org

 

 

“First of all, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) can only compel someone to declare his assets. Once the assets are d…

Corruption among the privileged rampant! Graft probe in Sabah almost done


Perak Ruler warns against corruption committed by high-ranking individuals

TANJUNG MALIM: The Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah, is concerned about the corruption and criminal breach of trust committed wantonly by highly-educated and high-ranking individuals and on a large scale.

“Allah has stressed that humans should not take for themselves the property of others through methods disallowed by Islamic law.

“It is equally wrong for one to hire false witnesses or give bribes to judges with the intention of influencing a decision to enrich oneself.

“Property acquired through such methods is tantamount to cruelty and oppression of others,” he said at the state-level Maulidur Rasul 1438H celebration here.

On judges, Sultan Nazrin said that a human being, conscious and fearful of God, would realise that his duty was entrusted to him by God.

“A judge should not be so bold as to change the law in his judgment to wrong what is right and to right what is wrong because it is a sin in Allah’s eyes to do so.”

Sultan Nazrin said history had shown many a government and civilisation collapse because of acts of embezzlement and corruption, greed for material possessions and abuse of power.

“In the history of Islamic governments, many among the leaders of the Bani Umaiyyah (Umayyad Caliphate) and Bani Abbas (Abbasid Caliphate) were preoccupied with worldly pleasures and willing to use their wealth to remain in power.”

He said that as followers of Prophet Muhammad, every Muslim should instil in themselves the determination and willpower to be incorruptible and trustworthy.

In Kuala Terengganu, the Sultan of Terengganu, Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin, urged Muslims to avoid quarrelling among themselves and forming factions, reports Bernama.

He said Muslims should have an open attitude and practise tolerance so they can live in peace with each other, hence receiving the blessings of Allah.

“With the theme of the Maulidur Rasul celebration this year being ‘Islamic Solidarity: The Foundation of Muslim Unity’, it is only apt to use Prophet Muhammad as the best example.

“The Prophet did not use force, but changed people by being exemplary and with the spirit of brotherhood, love and care for the welfare of the community, which led to the formation of a sovereign Islamic community in Madinah.”

He said Prophet Muhammad had left mankind two legacies, namely the Quran and the Sunnah (sayings and teachings of the prophet).

Source: The Star/ANN

Graft probe in Sabah almost done

KOTA KINABALU: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is one step closer to completing its probe on the suspected graft and abuse of power in the Sabah Water Department.

MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki said investigators had pored over nearly 12 tonnes of documents and would be submitting the investigation papers to the Attorney-General’s Chambers soon.

He said MACC officials had spent nearly a month analysing 8,000 payment vouchers between 2008 and 2016 from tens of thousands of documents.

The documents were seized from 30 locations around Sabah, including Kota Kinabalu, Tawau, Sandakan and Lahad Datu.

Azam said 28 people including the department’s director and two of his deputies were detained during the course of their investigations since early October.

Also detained were 23 divisional and district engineers and two more individuals who are involved in the case.

MACC also recorded statements from 200 witnesses, Azam added.

He said MACC also seized properties and cash and froze bank accounts, unit trusts and other assets totalling some RM114.5mil within and outside the country.

Azam said 137 MACC officers from headquarters as well as various divisions and states were involved in the investigations.

In the scandal, several Sabah Water Department officials are being investigated over allegations that they abused their power by awarding contracts to 38 companies owned by their families or cronies to siphon off federal funds.

MACC investigators have implicated top department officials in connection with the siphoning of RM3.3bil worth of federal allocations for state rural water projects since 2010.

Azam had been reported as saying that certain individuals in the department may have collected as much as 27% to 30% in kickbacks from the contracts awarded.

MACC investigators are also looking into suspected money laundering activities in their bid to recover some of the RM30mil that has reportedly been stashed in overseas accounts.

By Ruben Sario The Star/ANN

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