The Malaysian Anti-Corruption (MACC) movement underway on zero tolerance for graft


WE HAVE long grumbled that there should be stronger and swifter action against high-ranking officials who use their positions for personal gain instead of serving the public interest.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) ongoing streak of arrests and court cases involving senior officers in civil service and the private sector is encouraging, but even that may not satisfy the cynics, who are likely to point out that there are plenty more big fish out there and that there is no sign of a decline in corruption and abuse of power.

That is an easy thing to do – blame others when things do not go well and then expect the corruption fighters to clean up a huge and complex mess. But it surely cannot be the only thing we are capable of doing.

The MACC has a suggestion: to join the “revolutionary movement” against corruption.

That sounds like a lot of work, but Gerakan Revolusi Anti-Rasuah (Gerah) is actually a nationwide awareness campaign to change how people view corruption and abuse of power.

The ultimate aim is to enlist the support of the people in the war against corruption by shaping society to “hate, reject and fight corruption”.

“Our intention is to create a sense of fear and uneasiness so that wrongdoers will feel the heat. They should, for they are gambling away the peace, security and harmony of society, as well as jeopardising the country’s growth,” MACC chief commissioner Datuk Dzulkifli Ahmad told Sunday Star.

The commission will mobilise 2,000 officers from all over the country to meet the people and foster closer rapport and cooperation.

This is not a mere public relations exercise. Efforts to stamp out corruption cannot just focus on those who take the money.

In treating corruption and abuse of power as the country’s No. 1 enemy, we also have to acknow­ledge that we are partly responsible for sustaining this enemy.

Every time we offer a bribe, refuse to be a whistleblower or blithely dismiss corruption as “the Malaysian way”, we are strengthening the very thing that threatens to choke our nation’s development.

It is therefore fitting that Gerah incorporates the month-long 3J campaign, which the MACC launched on Monday in a partnership with Star Media Group Bhd.

The 3J name is shorthand for “Jangan Hulur, Jangan Kawtim, Jangan Settle”, which means “Don’t Give and Don’t Settle”.

It is a clever use of colloquial words that are synonymous with corruption, and there is little chance of misunderstanding the intent of the campaign.

“We hope this will pave the way for people to say no to corruption and create a society that has the courage to stand up and fight not only against corruption, but the corruptors,” said Dzulkifli at the launch.

Here is our choice: Be part of the “revolutionary movement” or do nothing and yet expect life to be better.

Source: Stay Say

Top zakat official among 11 held

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Wide net: MACC officers escorting Penang Tithes Management Centre personnel to the court in George Town to obtain their remand order.

GEORGE TOWN: A high-ranking Datuk from Pusat Zakat Negeri Pulau Pinang (ZPP) has been accused of misappropriating tithe money, including approving an annual scholarship for one of his children.

He is also alleged to have pocketed payments from contractors as an inducement to provide them with jobs involving ZPP community prog­rammes.

The man is among 11 people, including staff and contractors, who have been detained in a swoop by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) yesterday following an investigation that began last December.

The 50-year-old Datuk was picked up at the ZPP office in Bandar Perda, Bukit Mertajam, at 10.40am yesterday.

Three of his co-workers, including two ZPP department heads, and seven ZPP contractors were also detained in the operation codenamed Ops Miskin.

Penang MACC director Datuk Abdul Aziz Aban said the Datuk was detained on suspicion of accepting valuable items, cash and cheques from several companies and suppliers as inducements to award certain projects or works related to the state zakat community development programmes.

He added that the Datuk, who has held the position in ZPP since 1995, was believed to have also approved the annual scholarship without going through the Penang Religious Affairs Department for approval.

“We believe the four ZPP officials have been sharing the illegal payments among themselves between 2014 and 2016.

“We have been watching them since December last year,” Abdul Aziz said during a press conference at the state MACC headquarters here yesterday.

Wide net: MACC officers escorting Penang Tithes Management Centre personnel to the court in George Town to obtain their remand order.

Every Muslim with a certain amount of wealth is required to give zakat or alms to the poor and needy.

Abdul Aziz said the seven contractors, aged between 41 and 52, were believed to have often received projects or tenders from ZPP with the help of the Datuk.

He declined to elaborate on the amount of money seized in the operation, saying that it would be revealed after the investigation had been completed.

Apparently, the amount collected by the suspects totalled several million ringgit.

Abdul Aziz said the 11 suspects, who were remanded for a week, would be investigated under Section 17(a) and (b), as well as Section 23 of the MACC Act 2009.

“The offence carries a jail term of up to 20 years and five times the amount of bribes involved,” he added.

Earlier, the 11 were brought to the magistrate’s court here by the MACC at 3pm to be remanded.

Magistrate Mohamad Amin Shahul Hamid granted a seven-day remand, which began yesterday.

Source:  The Star by sharanpal singh randhawa, g.c. tan, sardi mahorm, logeiswary thevadass, chong kah yuan, hemananthani sivanandam, royce tan

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Mereka Rasuah Kita Bayar! 3J drive: Jangan Kautim, Jangan Hulur, Jangan Settle!



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Working together: Dzulkifli (third from left) and Wong (centre) sharing a light moment with The Star team after launching the 3J Campaign at Menara Star.

Star teams up with MACC for 3J drive

It is an arduous task but the battle against corruption involves all Malaysians.

For that reason, Star Media Group has partnered with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) for the nationwide “Jangan Hulur, Jangan Kawtim, Jangan Settle” (Don’t Give and Don’t Settle) 3J Campaign.

“The battle is neither quick nor easy. But with public support, this fight will end with us winning and our integrity intact,” said Star Media Group managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai.

The Star, he said, would be focusing on the youth as they were the “most crucial group”.

Speaking at the launch of the campaign at Menara Star yesterday, Wong cited an MACC study conducted last year among students which found that 16% of students in institutions of higher learning were willing to offer bribes.

The number was worrying as it had gone up from the 10.7% rate in 2015, he said.

To educate the next generation on values like integrity, The Star will be going all out to highlight the message of the campaign.

Other than spreading the word via Twitter and Facebook, Wong said it would be combining its media platforms such as The Star newspaper, The Star Online and StarTV as well as its Bahasa Malaysia news portal mStar and radio Suria FM.

Suria FM, which is part of the Star Media Radio Group, will broadcast the campaign message to the public via its road show team – the Suria FM Wheelers.

The month-long 3J Campaign came under the umbrella of the nationwide Gerakan Revolusi Anti-Rasuah or Gerah campaign, which was launched at the MACC headquarters in Putrajaya yesterday.

MACC chief commissioner Datuk Dzulkifli Ahmad said the battle against corruption and abuse of power would fail without a concerted effort.

“This is why I believe the fight should be our journey, our cause and our war together,” he said.

Dzulkifli voiced his hope for Malaysians to come together under the 3J Campaign and play an active role in battling the “cancer of corruption”.

He said the words “hulur, kawtim and settle” are synonymous with corruption and the MACC used these terms so that the people were aware of the aim of the campaign.

“We hope this will pave the way for the people to say no to corruption and to create a society that has the courage to stand up and fight not only against corruption but the corruptors too,” he said.

Dzulkifli said he made a bold promise to Malaysians earlier this year when he vowed that the MACC would make one arrest every week, but this had been delivered so far, he added.

He also commended the media for its role as “an important watchdog over corruption” and its effort in exposing such cases.

MACC – two campaigns and a swoop 

 

Ready for war: MACC chief commissioner Datuk Dzulkifli Ahmad (centre) and his officers pledging at their headquarters in Putrajaya to wipe out corruption.

PETALING JAYA: Two anti-corruption awareness campaigns were launched nationwide and, to show how serious the fight against corruption is, a swoop on corrupt Immigration officers was carried out too.

An aide of a chief minister, who is a Datuk, was also arrested and is expected to be charged today.

Sources said two senior immigration officers based in Complex ICQ Padang Besar, Perlis, were detained at about 11am yesterday under Ops Lavish.

The suspects, aged 35 and 37, were summoned to the Kedah Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commis­sion (MACC) office on suspicion of accepting bribes in relation to the approval of expatriate passes to hire skilled and professional workers. Also arrested was a 48-year-old contractor.

The contractor is believed to have abetted in the dealings since 2015 and acted as a middleman to transfer a huge sum of money into several bank accounts.

The amount involved was said to be over a million ringgit.

MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki confirmed the arrests.

The anti-graft officers also seized four luxury cars, a high-powered bike, a fixed deposit account with RM1mil, 13 luxury bags and 13 watches worth RM130,000.

All three suspects will be investigated under Section 17(a) of the MACC Act 2009, which carries a jail term of up to 20 years and five times the amount of bribes involved.

It is learnt the 37-year-old suspect, while taking charge of the expatriate services division in the Putrajaya Immigration Depart­ment, carried out the dubious dealings.

He was the division head from Feb 2015 to Dec 2015 and tasked with supervising, approving and cross checking all applicants information in the data system.

Star Media Group managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai and Dzulkifli go on a ride in the MACC FM mobile after launching the 3J Campaign at Menara Star in Petaling Jaya. — AZMAN GHANI/The Star

Within the short period there, he was said to have approved 339 applications involving 18,626 applicants.

“Some applicant companies were said to be non-existent.

“Initial investigations showed the suspect took a minimum of RM1,500 per applicant from agents as an inducement to approve their applications,” said a source.

Checks also showed that the suspect’s wife had played a role in the dealings by using her registered companies to issue cheques and to transfer money.

The latest move signalled a clean up of the Immigration Department by the anti-graft body.

Thumbs up: MACC enforcement officers meeting members of the public at various public places to spread the 3J anti-corruption campaign message of ‘Jangan hulur, jangan kawtim, jangan settle’ (Don’t give and don’t settle.

In March, at least 10 immigration officers who took up to RM5,000 each to allow illegals to enter Sarawak were nabbed. Six of them were women.

Early this year, four Selangor immigration officers were rounded-up to assist in investigations into dubious applications for international passports, causing losses of over RM1mil.

In Malacca, the former special officer to Malacca Historical City Council’s mayor implicated in a corruption case was arrested at 7.30pm yesterday at the Malacca MACC office.

The 56-year-old suspect faces 11 charges under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Finan­cing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act and another four under the Penal Code.

On Nov 28, the officer was arrested to help with a probe over alleged corruption and money laundering.

The MACC also seized more than RM100mil from the officer, comprising cash, assets and several vehicles.

Source: The Star/ANN

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Fighting corruption a decade later, Wars on graft widens


“Power doesn’t corrupt people, people corrupt power.”
William Gaddis

THE beginning of the year is as good a time as any to reflect upon the direction the country is heading towards.

Ten years ago, Malaysians were just beginning to appreciate the opening up of public space. Then prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, or more familiarly known as Pak Lah, had taken over in 2003, and then won a landslide victory for the ruling Barisan Nasional in 2004, riding on a wave of public confidence in his commitment to reforming a government that had lost a whopping 14 parliamentary seats in the previous 1999 general election.

What was most distinct about his administration was his promise to clamp down on corruption and therefore empowering the anti-corruption agencies. Related to this was the general change in the sociopolitical air – civil society felt freer and more able to organise public seminars related to various issues previously deemed sensitive.

More significantly, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) was established in 2004, an upgraded version of the previously known Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA), with the idea of being a regional hub for anti-corruption capacity and capability building to “fight corruption by promoting best practices in investigation, monitoring and enforcement …”

Modelled after Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), it was meant to be a more robust agency now given greater teeth to fight graft in the country.

The MACC did go through significant challenges, chief of which was the incident in 2006 during which political aide Teoh Beng Hock was found to have fallen to his death at the MACC Selangor headquarters in Shah Alam. Embroiled in controversy, the investigations and court cases eventually concluded that it was, in fact, a homicide that took place. Although the police did not eventually find the perpetrator, the MACC as an institution did take measures to improve itself after admitting there were flaws in its system.

One of the reform measures was to set up five independent committees, namely the Anti-Corruption Advisory Board, the Special Committee on Corruption, the Complaints Committee, the Operations Evaluation Panel, and the Consultation and Corruption Prevention Panel. These committees would be tasked to provide oversight to the operations and investigation processes of the MACC, and many individuals of good public standing were appointed to fill these positions subsequently, although these mechanisms did not sufficiently boost public confidence.

Over the last year, the MACC has been in the spotlight for numerous reasons, having investigated 1MDB and other cases related to it, but then later raided by the police for reportedly having leaked documents.

Has the anti-corruption commission that was initially promised to be reformed and strengthened all those years ago instead been eroded and weakened?

The MACC in fact ought to be an independent institution given the resources to fight corruption. But the 2017 budget saw a laundry list of financial cuts, including in investigation and surveillance, law and prosecution, prevention, administrative and forensic services, as well as record and information management, and community education. How is it possible for the MACC to continue functioning with the same expectations but with a much lower budget?

One of the core reforms that some of us in civil society have called for in recent years is an independent MACC that reports to Parliament and has greater autonomy both financially and in hiring and firing its own staff.

The MACC currently reports to the Prime Minister’s Department, which surely is a source of potential conflict of interest. Having a truly independent MACC would allow it to truly exercise its duties in an unbiased fashion without fear or favour.

The new MACC Chief Commissioner, Datuk Dzulkifli Ahmad, recently announced that he wants to combat corruption and abuse of power, saying that “for those who are still intoxicated by bribery, please listen to this warning: stop the corruption and power abuse, and surrender yourself!” In the same speech, he also urged Malaysians to support the agency in its mission. The MACC’s recent action in the Sabah Water Department corruption case is a good sign that it is taking steps in that direction.

However, the MACC simply cannot carry out this task alone. The experiences over the last decade would surely have taught the administration some lessons: that apart from the government it serves, positive public perception is crucial to achieving its goals. Working with, instead of against, the community that it tries to educate is crucial if it wants to seriously fight corruption all round.

This is where independent civil society organisations can in fact come in to support the MACC in its efforts to fight corruption. Other expert bodies like accountants and lawyers can also support MACC’s work as many investigations involve technical and forensic accounting matters. However, the MACC must also demonstrate its willingness to have frank discussions and dialogue with civil society.

The MACC has seen tremendous transformations over the last decade and more, but fighting corruption seems to be even more challenging than ever. It is hoped that it is in these trying times partnerships and collaborations can be forged; all those in favour of fighting corruption – and this must be a priority this year – should surely come together.

– Tricia Yeoh letters@thesundaily.com

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Wars on graft widens

Four officers nabbed for pocketing fees after altering passport applications

The tentacles in the war against graft are spreading wide. Four Immigration officers who listed normal people as disabled, pocketing the RM200 application fee in the process, have been nabbed; a senior official from the Malacca Historic City Council is under probe; policemen who took bribes have been charged; and the Inland Revenue Board has also joined the fray, striking up a partnership with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission. PETALING JAYA: Four Selangor Immigration officers were entrusted to receive and process applications for international passports.

Nabbed: Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission officers escorting four Immigration officers out from the Shah Alam magistrate’s court after they were remanded for six days.

Having access to the applicant database, they did much more than their job scope.

The quartet would pocket the RM200 international passport application fee received over the counter by “converting” the paid applications to that submitted by OKU (disabled) persons, who are entitled to free passports.

The officers had been pocketing large sums this way since 2014, with about RM1mil siphoned off.

An internal audit exposed the ruse recently.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) raided the Selangor Immigration Department office in Shah Alam at 3.30pm on Monday and detained the four officers, two of them women.

The four suspects were brought to the Shah Alam magistrate’s court to be remanded for six days.

The investigation is under Section 18 of the MACC Act 2009 which involves submission of false claims with intention to deceive.

MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki confirmed the arrests, describing the case as “very serious and warranting a very thorough probe.”

“We do not rule out the possibility that such fraud may also be occurring in other Immigration offices all over the country.

“This is not an isolated case and must be addressed,” he said.

An MACC official said the suspects were believed to be involved in the submission of payment vouchers with falsified information.

“The record is altered to show that the applicant is an OKU when he or she is not,’’ the official added.

Immigration director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali said full cooperation had been extended to MACC, and had shared the outcome of its internal audit. – The Star

Four immigration officers held for allegedly pocketing RM1m for falsifying passports

PETALING JAYA: Four Immigration Department front-line officers who are believed to have siphoned as much as RM1 million from the department have been detained by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

The suspects, aged between 31 and 39, include two female officers. They were arrested at the Selangor Immigration Department at 3.30pm on Monday and have been remanded for six days beginning today.

MACC sources said the officers took advantage of a fee waiver for people with disabilities (OKU) by fraudulently classifying normal applicants as OKU and pocketing the RM200 fee on each transaction.

Investigators learnt the suspects have been involved in the racket since 2014 and were only recently exposed after the Immigration Department conducted an internal audit.

The audit team became suspicious when it found a high number of passports issued to OKUs, and initiated a probe.

So far, the status of at least 100 normal passport holders have been found falsely classified as those belonging to OKU, and this is believed to be just the tip of the iceberg, and that there were some 5,000 more cases.

MACC investigators are probing assets amassed by the detained officers and believe such activities may also be prevalent at other passport issuing immigration offices nationwide.

MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki said today that an indepth probe on the case is ongoing.

“This cannot be taken lightly as it has caused losses in government revenue. Moreover, it breaches the special privileges accorded to the disabled by the government,” he said.

MACC chief commissioner Datuk Dzulkifli Ahmad said the agency will use every law in existence to prosecute those involved in graft to make it clear that crime does not pay.

“Let me issue a warning … we will not only pursue prosecution under the MACC Act, but also use the Anti-Money-Laundering Act and the Income Tax Act,” Dzulkifli said in a speech at the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) today after witnessing the signing of a corruption-free pledge by IRB – the first government agency to do so after signing the Corporate Integrity Pledge in 2013.

“I urge you to stop immediately or face the consequences,” said Dzulkifli, adding that even if MACC cannot prosecute a corrupt individual, he or she would not be able to escape the IRB.

– Charles Ramendran and Lee Choon Fai Newsdesk@thesundaily.com

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Four policemen charged with corruption

(From top left) A combo picture of policemen Mohd Zulkifly Mat Nor, 28, Jeffry Abdullah, 35, Zainoor Ariffin Rosli, 24 and Muhammad Farid Nordin, 28 when they were brought to George Town Session Court by Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) to face corruption charges under Section 17 of the MACC Act.

GEORGE TOWN: Four policemen were charged in the Sessions Court here today with corruption.

Corporal Jefry Abdullah, 35, from the Narcotics Department of the Northeast district police headquarters pleaded not guilty before Sessions Court Judge Roslan Hamid.

He is accused of trying to obtain RM1,000 for himself from Nor Esmawati Baharom as inducement not to take action against the latter’s brother in-law, Norhamni Haron by swapping a positive urine sample during a urine test at the district police headquarters.

He was alleged to have committed the offense at the Narcotics Department office of the Northeast district police headquarters about 4.40pm on Mac 1 last year.

Jefry was charged under Section 17(a) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 which carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence and fine not less than five times the bribe amount or RM10,000, whichever is higher.

The court fixed bail at RM8,000 with one surety.

In a separate charge, three policemen from the Datuk Keramat police station also claimed trial over a corruption charge.

Muhammad Farid Nordin, 28, Mohd Zulkifly Mat Nor, 28, and Zainoor Ariffin Rosli, 24, with another person still at large were charged with trying to obtain RM10,000 for themselves as an inducement not to take action against Norhamni Haron for possessing ganja.

They were alleged to have committed the offence at the Datuk Keramat police station on Mac 1, last year about 11.45am.

The trio were also charged under Section 17(a) of the MACC Act 2009.

MACC Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Ahmad Ghazali Mohd Nazri suggested bail of RM10,000 with one surety for each of the accused considering the seriousness of the case.

Roslan fixed bail at RM8,000 with one surety for each of them and set Feb 17 for mention.

V. Partiban represented all of the accused.

MACC DPP Amin Yaacub also appeared for the prosecution.

– Imran Hilmy newsdesk@thesundaily.com
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Immigration & education drive property prices; Secondary property sales may take lead


Immigration and education are two drivers of property prices in cities in the next 10 years to 2024, said property consultancy Knight Frank International.Its Asia-Pacific reaearch director Nicholas Holt said up to 76,000 Ultra High Net Worth Individuals (UHNWI) from China have immigrated the last 10 years – the highest – while up to 72% of Malaysia’s UHNWI send their children abroad, the highest. (See graphics below).

The cities include London, New York, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Holt was presenting his Wealth Report 2015 updated till third quarter 2015 at the 25th National Real Estate Convention in Kuala Lumpur.

He defined UHNWIs as those with US$30mil and above in investible income excluding their primary residence.

In an Attitudes Survey involving 600 advisors of UHNWIs by Knight Frank, the advisors – bankers included – said about 10% of their Malaysia’s ultra-high net worth clients were considering changing their domicile in the earlier part of this year.

“This compares with an overall 12% in Asia who are considering changing domicile,” said Holt.

Data show drop in primary market transactions

SUBANG JAYA: The ongoing slowdown in the local property sector could see transactions in the secondary property market overtaking that of the primary market.

Citing data from the National Property Information Centre (Napic), PPC International Sdn Bhd managing director Datuk Siders Sittampalam said the economic slowdown has affected transactions in the primary property market this year.

“Siders: ‘Total volume of transactions in the primary market has dropped, and this has also resulted in values dropping. >>

“Total volume of transactions in the primary market has dropped, and this has also resulted in values dropping.

“As such, there will come a time when the secondary market will lead the primary market,” he said at a press conference after the launch of the 25th National Real Estate Convention (NREC) 2015 yesterday.

Siders said it was difficult to provide a specific timeline on when he expected transactions in the secondary market to exceed that of the primary market.

“In terms of value, the primary market will find it harder to match the secondary market due to rising land and building costs,” he said.

Siders said he expected transactions in the primary market to improve once cooling measures imposed on the local property sector have been relaxed.

“Once the economy picks up and Bank Negara backs off on its cooling measures, the primary market will pick up again.”

He also said a drastic hike in interest rates will have an impact on the property sector.

“Over the last few years, the property market had been steadily growing due to various measures such as the developers interest bearing scheme (DIBS). Because of these measures, pricing in the market has been distorted.

“Now, when people have committed to their loans, especially youths and first time buyers, and there is a sudden hike in interest rates, there will be a dip in the market.

“Loans go bad and many properties will go under the hammer. This will not be a healthy market.” Siders said he was hopeful that any interest rate hike by the central bank would be a “sustainable increase.”

Bank Negara maintained its overnight policy rate in September at 3.25%.

The NREC was organised by the Royal Institution of Surveyors Malaysia and the Association of Valuers, Property Managers, Estate Agents and Property Consultants in the Private Sector, Malaysia.

The event highlighted major concerns for the future of the real estate industry in Malaysia during the current economic period.

BY EUGENE MAHALINGAM

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Ma’sian immigration blacklists: PTPTN loan defaulters among 1.14 mil barred from travels


Immigration entrydenied_star

PUTRAJAYA: A wide net has been cast on those barred from leaving the country by the Immigration Department.

And it is not just tax offenders and those with criminal records who face a rude shock at border checkpoints or at the airport.

The latest figures show some 85,000 National Higher Education Fund (PTPTN) beneficiaries who did not repay their loans on the department’s travel blacklist.

They are among 1.14 million people on the list which includes 701,266 Malaysians.

The department has advised Malaysians to check their Immigration status prior to making holiday plans overseas to avoid problems.

“It is the responsibility of the traveller to first check if they are cleared to leave the country.

“It doesn’t matter if you are planning to leave by flight, road, rail or sea.

“As long as you are on the blacklist, you will not be allowed to pass the Immigration checkpoint, even if you have a valid flight ticket,” Immigration security and passport division director Ibrahim Abdullah told The Star.

As of Sept 3, the department’s overseas travel restriction orders included those who have been declared with outstanding debt issues. There were 277,693 such Malaysians named by the Insolvency Department.

Malaysians who have violated a foreign country’s immigration laws, such as by overstaying or abusing their travel visas, are also not spared.

Ibrahim said the countries concerned may bar the defaulters from re-entering the country and this information would be shared with the local Immigration department, such as Malaysia’s, which would then put the defaulter on a watchlist.

A total of 32,516 Malaysians were in this category for having overstayed in another country, alongside 115,803 foreigners who have similarly overstayed in Malaysia and are now barred from leaving the country.

“If any Malaysians on the watchlist try to leave the country, they will be stopped and taken in for an interrogation until it is satisfied that they will not commit the same act in another country again,” said Ibrahim.

Stubborn tax defaulters make up a sizeable group on the travel blacklist, with 135,111 persons named by the Inland Revenue Board.

The Star has reported on Aug 26 that defaulters will not be allowed to travel abroad until they have settled their tax obligations.

The treatment will be the same for those with outstanding issues with the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), such as those who failed to file their EPF contributions. There were 10,219 Malaysians and 532 foreigners listed under this category.

Another 133,314 non-citizens have been barred from leaving the country for having their citizenship revoked or application rejected by the National Registration Depart­ment.

This is on top of 88,830 foreigners who had entered the country illegally and have been classified under the Immigration’s Kes Tanpa Izin.

An unusual cluster of 210 Malaysians were also placed under this category which, according to Ibrahim, had referred to those who have been identified by the Home Ministry as having been involved in activities involving illegal foreign workers.

Several other categories were criminally-linked, including those under police observation (15,699 cases) and for drug-related charges (7,673 cases) or crime (5,090 cases).

There were also 4,953 Malaysians barred from overseas travel for violating Customs regulations.

To find out if you are barred from travelling abroad, one needs only to enter the MyKad number on the department’s travel status check portal at http://sspi2.imi.gov.my/

“If they have been barred, they must be present in person at the nearest Immigration passport and security division, where they will be told why they are not allowed to leave.

“This is to avoid identity abuse by a third party as we do not want private information to be divulged to an impostor,” Ibrahim said.
Immigration entrydenied
Almost 85,000 PTPTN study loan defaulters barred from leaving Malaysia

PETALING JAYA: Almost 85,000 National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) recipients have been barred from leaving the country to date.

PTPTN chief executive officer Agos Cholan said the corporation had to resort to barring the defaulters from leaving because they had been ignoring repeated reminders to repay their loans.

He said the corporation would send borrowers a reminder to begin repaying their loans six months after graduation.

“If there is no payment after two months, the first notice would be sent,” he said.

This, he added, is followed subsequently by a second and third notice if there was still no repayment.

Agos said after this, the corporation would send a legal notice and subsequently blacklist the borrowers.

To lift the travel ban, Agos said they would need to make some payment immediately, depending on their income.

“They would also need to sign papers committing to pay monthly instalments and arrange for a bank’s standing instruction or salary deductions. Restructuring is allowed if they wish to vary instalment amount,” he said.

Agos said the number had reduced from some 130,000 in 2007 who were barred.

Since Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s announcement that borrowers could expect a 20% discount if they repay their loans in full by March 31 next year, Agos said there had been a few enquiries on the dates.

Najib, when tabling Budget 2015 last Friday, said borrowers who were unable to do so could still get a 10% off their loans if they made continuous payments for 12 months until Dec 31, 2015.

Borrowers were given similar discounts under the Budget 2013.

The travel ban is also imposed on 277,693 Malaysians listed under the Insolvency Department for failing to settle their debts.

Tax defaulters are also on the blacklist, with 135,111 persons named by the Inland Revenue Board.

Another 32,516 Malaysians who have violated laws in foreign countries, including overstaying, have also been barred from leaving the country.

Also blacklisted are 115,803 foreigners who have overstayed in Malaysia.

Immigration’s security and passport division director Ibrahim Abdullah told The Star that as long as a person was on the blacklist, they would not be allowed to pass the Immigration checkpoint, even if they have a valid flight ticket.

“It doesn’t matter if you are planning to leave by flight, rail, road or sea,” he told The Star.

The report added that the travel ban will also be imposed on those with outstanding Employees Provident Fund issues, including those who had failed to file their EPF contributions. A total of 10,219 Malaysians and 532 foreigners are listed under this category.

Meanwhile, The Star also reported PTPTN chief executive officer Agos Cholan as saying that they had to resort to barring the study loan defaulters from leaving the country as they had ignored repeated reminders to repay their loans.

Agos had also reportedly said that to lift the travel ban, defaulters would need to make some payment immediately, with the amount determined by their income. – October 14, 2014.

Source: The Star/Asia News Network

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Migrant wives kept like slaves by Aussies


By GLENDA KWEK

Aussie's hushandsLooking out for them: Case worker and former child bride Eman Sharobeem says victims are reluctant to pursue justice through legal means. – AFP

Unhappily married – In Australia, migrant wives in abusive marriages are all the more vulnerable as they are dependent on their husbands. 

KANYA thought she was starting a new life in Australia after arriving from India to marry her husband, but it quickly turned into a nightmare.

She was barred from going out on her own, forced to cook and clean for her partner’s family, and made to sleep outdoors if she did not complete her tasks.

The fate of the 18-year-old, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, mirrors that of others in “slave-like” relationships that Salvation Army worker Jenny Stanger has taken in at a Sydney refuge for trafficked people in recent years.

The women came to Australia under the promise of a happy marriage, only to be exploited by their partners.

“It’s an absolute deception on the part of the perpetrator,” said Stanger of a problem involving nearly a quarter of her safehouse’s residents. Immigration figures show women in such situations come from China, India, the Philippines and Vietnam among others.

“Marriage was the tool that was used to exploit the women for profit, gain or personal advantage.”

“In a typical case, the migrant wife would face extreme isolation, extreme denial of their basic rights around freedom of movement, possibly an exploitation of their labour … and being denied money,” she said.

Getting a sense of how many marriage visas under Australia’s partner migration programme are used to bring women in for exploitation is difficult. Social workers say victims are often deliberately isolated and threatened if they seek help.

Researcher Samantha Lyneham, co-author of the first Australian study looking into the exploitation of women through migrant relationships beyond forced marriages, said the reluctance of victims to report crimes was a problem – such is their dependence on their abusers.

Lyneham said the fear of being deported, which stemmed from the “precarious immigration status” the women faced, was a key barrier, along with language and also mistrust of police after bad experiences in their home countries.

An inaugural Global Slavery Index published by the Walk Free Foundation in October said roughly 30 million people were living in modern-day slavery, of whom up to 3,300 were in Australia.

Lyneham’s new Australian Institute of Criminology report recorded the experiences of eight female victims – including Kanya – aged 18 to 49, mostly from South-East Asia, but also the Pacific, the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

They found that while some women moved to Australia on marriage visas in search of economic opportunities, others did so for love and to start a family.

All the women had consented to their marriages, having met their spouses through arranged situations, family links, online dating sites and chance encounters. Seven of the women said they married their husbands outside Australia.

Case workers said the husbands – half of whom were from the same countries of origin as the women – were most likely to be dual-citizens.

One woman told of how her husband would lock her out of the house at night. “I would have to stay in the tree overnight,” she said.

Others told of sexual violence and coerced pregnancies, according to the report. The women said their passports were taken and they were blocked from using telephones or having access to money.

Clandestine crime

Lyneham said although the interviews showed cases had been “happening for some time”, it was also clear when she raised the issue with authorities that some were not aware of it.

“It’s a clandestine type of crime that people mistake for domestic violence,” Lyneham said.

The use of domestic violence laws to address cases highlights the difficulties in identifying and prosecuting such crimes, which cut across legislation separately targeting human trafficking, slavery and domestic abuse.

Official Australian data between July 2001 and June 2011 showed 337,127 people were granted partner migration visas, with Britain, China and India the most common countries of origin.

Between July 2006 and Dec 2011, 3,654 people on the visas obtained protection under the Family Violence Provision.

This allows them to apply for permanent residency if they or a family member are subjected to violence. About 12% came from China, 10% from the Philippines and 8% from Vietnam. Others came from India, Britain, Thailand and Fiji.

Lyneham said while the numbers appeared low, previous research showed under-reporting, particularly in migrant communities.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott in June announced more than A$100mil (RM298mil) to fight domestic violence, and vowed a “particular focus” on women from culturally diverse and indigenous backgrounds.

Forced marriages were criminalised and laws against forced labour were strengthened in 2013.

Case worker Eman Sharobeem, a former child bride who was abused during her marriage, said some women who approached her for help were not comfortable pursuing their husbands through the legal system.

While she worked with politicians to help formulate the 2013 laws, what “we are really interested in is educating the community more than just having a law to guide them”.

Her views are echoed by Salvation Army worker Stanger, who praised the legislation but added: “They (victims) are looking for a way out, so … the more doors we can open, the more likely someone is going to step through that door.” – AFP

Unhappily Married

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