Stop denying the undeniable high engineering consultancy fees for 3 Penang roads, says minister



The works minister, Datuk Seri Fadillah Yosof says compared to what the JKR recently paid for pre-construction consulting fees for a project in Johor (RM19mil of pre-construction consulting cost represents 2.67% of RM718,570,500 for roads totalling 30km in length), the Penang government’s consultancy fees for the three roads project is exorbitant to the total RM220mil pre-construction fees that was already fully paid by the Penang government, which represented 11.06% of the RM1.99bil construction cost for the three roads totalling 20km in length and has yet to start construction despite a three-and-a-half-year delay.”

PETALING JAYA: The Penang government has been urged to “stop denying the undeniable” over the exorbitant consultancy fees for the three roads project.

Works Minister Fadillah Yusof said the Public Works Depart­­ment (JKR) recently paid RM19 million in total for pre-construction consulting fees for a paired road highway project in Jo­­hor.

He compared this with the exorbitant consultancy fees for the three roads project in Penang.

“The fees comprise all required services and include the fees for all surveys, soil investigation, preliminary environmental impact assessment and all civil, structural, electrical and mechanical designs,” The Star quoted Fadillah as saying.

He said the RM19 million of pre-construction consulting cost represents 2.67% of RM718,570,500 for roads totalling 30km in length.

He added that in accordance with the Board of Engineers Malaysia’s (BEM) guidelines, not all of the fees for the project were paid before construction began as a quarter of the payment was withheld for the tendering and construction stages.

“Compare this to the total RM220 million pre-construction fees that was already fully paid by the Penang government, which represented 11.06% of the RM1.99 billion construction cost for the three roads totalling 20km in length and has yet to start construction despite a three-and-a-half-year delay,” Fadillah said.

The three paired roads are meant to be the traffic dispersal system of Penang’s proposed undersea tunnel project.

The cost of the consultation fees for the three paired roads has been a point of contention between the state and federal government, whereby the latter says that the Penang government has significantly overpaid the fees.

The Penang government has maintained that the fees paid is not excessive. – FMT news, The Star

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The judge also fixed July 5 for next mention.

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

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

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

The Star by kathleen ann kili

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Fighting corruption a decade later; Wars on graft widens

Johor’s biggest corruption cases: land and housing scandal, slapped with 33 counts of graft


TWO IN COURT: Abd Latif (right) being brought to the Johor Baru Sessions Court by anti-graft officers. He is alleged to have abetted property consultant Amir Shariffuddin Abd Raud (left) in the land development scandal.

After weeks of investigation, state executive councillor Datuk Abd Latif Bandi is finally brought to court to face 33 counts of graft. The land and housing scandal – one of Johor’s biggest corruption cases – is however set to widen as graft busters warn of more suspects to be charged soon.


MACC expected to haul up more people in land and housing scandal

JOHOR BARU: One of the state’s largest corruption scandals is about to get bigger as more people are expected to be hauled up to court in the coming weeks.

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki said they might be charged with the case involving Johor executive councillor Datuk Abd Latif Bandi either this month or next.

Among those to be charged, he said, were those who had been arrested previously.

However, he declined to reveal their names so as not to jeopardise MACC’s investigation, saying that no VIPs were involved.

“We are in the midst of completing our probe with the Deputy Public Prosecutor before charging them in court soon,” he told reporters after meeting MACC investigation director Datuk Simi Abd Ghani and Johor MACC director Datuk Azmi Alias here yesterday.

Azam said it was also possible for Abd Latif, who was jointly accused with property consultant Amir Shariffuddin Abd Raud of committing 33 counts of graft yesterday, to face another round of charges then.

It was reported that eight suspects, including Abd Latiff ’s eldest son as well as his special officer, were nabbed by the MACC on Feb 24.

Anti-graft officers detained them after sifting through stacks of documents seized from the state government and developers.

They also seized luxury goods, including 21 cars such as Bentley, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, five high-powered motorcycles and 150 handbags.

On its probe into the purchase of real estate in Australia by Mara Incorporated Sdn Bhd, Azam said MACC called up 24 witnesses and visited seven premises, including a law firm, the offices of both Mara Inc and an appraiser, and their associates.

“All related documents have also been seized. We have gathered more new information, and it is a continuous investigation from the previous case in 2015,” he said.

“We need more time to complete this case as it involves another country.

“We have put in a request under a mutual legal assistance with the Australian AttorneyGeneral’s office but have yet to receive any response.

“We will also prepare the documents to be sent to Australia,” he said.

MACC had previously recorded the state- ment of suspended Mara chairman Tan Sri Annuar Musa over the same investigation.

Annuar also handed over several documents relevant to the case.

The issue came to light after Australian newspaper The Age claimed that several senior Mara officials and a former politician had spent millions of Malaysian Government funds to buy an apartment block, known as Dudley International House, in Melbourne

Azam said his officers were also in the midst of preparing a report into alleged match fixing by football players from the Malaysian Indian Sports Council-Malaysia Indian Football Association.

“We expect this case to be completed within two to three weeks after we hand over the report to the deputy public prosecutor for charging.

Source:The Star headline news

Slapped with 33 counts of graft

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JOHOR BARU: State executive councillor Datuk Abd Latif Bandi has been charged in the Sessions Court here with 33 counts of graft, the earliest of which stretches back to just six months after he assumed office.

TWO IN COURT: Abd Latif (above) being brought to the Johor Baru Sessions Court by anti-graft officers. He is alleged to have abetted property consultant Amir Shariffuddin Abd Raud (below) in the land development scandal.

Abd Latif, 51, was sworn in to his post as Johor Housing and Local Government Committee chairman in 2013 and according to the list of charges, he allegedly abetted property consultant Amir Shariffuddin Abd Raud on Nov 13 that same year to convert bumiputra lots into non-bumiputra lots.

Yesterday, the court interpreter took about 15 minutes to read the list of charges to each of the accused in the case, considered one of the biggest corruption scandals in the state.

In total, Abd Latif is said to have abetted Amir, 44, to convert 1,480 houses.

He is also accused of helping to reduce the quantum of payment that developers had to contribute towards the Johor Housing Fund for converting these lots.

The offences, the last of which supposedly took place on Sept 13, 2016, involved payments of between RM100,000 and RM3.7mil.

Totalling some RM30.3mil, this involved development projects in Kota Masai, Tebrau, Kulai, Kempas, Nusajaya and Johor Baru.

Among the converted lots were apartments, double-storey terrace homes, cluster houses, cluster industrial lots, semi-Ds and bungalows.

Abd Latif was charged under Section 28 (1) (c) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act for abetment, which was read together with Section 16 (a)(B) for accepting bribes.

Amir was charged with 33 counts under Section 16 (a)(B) for accepting bribes for himself and Abdul Latif.

Judge Mohd Fauzi Mohd Nasir set bail at RM2mil in one surety for each of the accused and ordered their passports to be surrendered until the trial was over. He also fixed May 23 for mention.

At press time, only Amir posted bail while Abd Latif, who was unable to raise the amount, was sent to the Ulu Choh detention centre.

Earlier, 15 minutes after Abd Latif and Amir were ushered into the packed courtroom, a defence lawyer stood up and asked for their “Lokap SPRM” orange T-shirts to be removed.

Both Abd Latif, who took time to hug and shake the hands of several people, and Amir then changed into long-sleeved shirts.

Abd Latif was represented by a six-man legal team led by Datuk Hasnal Rezua Merican while two lawyers, headed by Azrul Zulkifli Stork, stood for Amir.

The case was prosecuted by MACC director Datuk Masri Mohd Daud, with assistance from Raja Amir Nasruddin.

Source: The Star by Nelson Benjamin and Norbaiti phaharoradzi

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EduCity project, Iskandar Malaysia


EduCity_Iskandar MalaysiaMuhyiddin looking at a model of the MDIS campus during the ceremony in Nusajaya. Looking on is MDIS secretarygeneral Dr R. Theyvendran (second from right) and other dignitaries. 

NUSAJAYA: The EduCity project in Iskandar Malaysia has attracted some RM700mil in investments with the setting up of several international universities, says Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Muhyiddin who is also Education Minister, said that 70% of Educity has been developed with three university campuses and two shared facilities.

“Besides EduCity, the Government is also developing Pagoh into a multi-varsity education hub and Bandar Sri Alam in Pasir Gudang as a ‘City of Knowledge’,” he said at the ground-breaking ceremony of Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS) here yesterday.

MDIS, founded in 1956, is Singapore’s oldest non-profit professional institute for lifelong learning. It will invest RM300mil for its campus, which is expected to open in 2015.

Muhyididn said EduCity, which covers an area of 121ha, was now drawing the attention of many international investors.

He stressed that the cross-border investments between Malaysia and Singapore were complementing each country’s economy and it was not a rivalry.

“Singapore boasts some of the best tertiary learning institutions in the world. There is much we can gain by joining forces to woo the best brains to study within our shores instead of competing with each other,” he added.

Malaysia is currently ranked the 11th largest exporter of educational services, providing a place to study for more than 90,000 students from over 100 nations.

Muhyiddin said the country hoped to more than double the figure to 200,000 students by 2020.

The integrated MDIS green campus would have state-of-the-art facilities to accommodate 2,000 students and this will be MDIS’ third campus after its headquarters and main campus in Singapore and its sister campus in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

Other campuses within the EduCity include Newcastle University, Malborough College Malaysia and University of Southampton, while the Netherlands Maritime Institute of Technology is expected to open next month.

Later during a meet-the-people session at Kampung Maju Jaya in Kempas, Muhyiddin said the move to increase the price of RON95 and diesel by 20 sen has been positively received by investors and economists.

“Although it was a painful decision it had to be made to ensure the country’s economy is stable,” he said.

He said that if the Government did not take the necessary steps to increase the price of fuel, it would be worse for the country’s economy.

– Contributed by The Star/Asia News Network.

Malaysia Aims To Attract 200,000 International Students By 2020

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin looking at MDIS campus model after ground breaking ceremony of the campus at Educity Nusajaya Johor

NUSAJAYA, Sept 5 (Bernama) — The government aims to attract at least 200,000 international students to Malaysia by 2020, further cementing the country’s status as one of the world’s largest exporters of educational services, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said Thursday.

The deputy prime minister and education minister said Malaysia had increased its attractiveness as a tertiary education provider in the global market place.

The country is currently the world’s 11th largest exporter of educational services, providing a place to study for over 90,000 students from over 100 nations, he said.

Muhyiddin spoke at the ground-breaking of the Nusajaya campus of the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS) at Educity, Nusajaya, here.

The RM300-million MDIS campus is the largest overseas investment for the Singapore-based educational institution.

Muhyiddin said the education services sector was one of the targeted nine economic pillars in the Comprehensive Development Plan of the Iskandar Malaysia development corridor, offering excellent investment opportunities for local and foreign investors.

The government, he said, had made a conscious decision to prioritise the private education sector.

“One of the Entry Point Projects identified under Malaysia’s Economic Transformation Programme is to transform the economic growth corridor in Johor into Asia’s choice destination for education by attracting renowned international universities and colleges,” he said.

Educity in Nusajaya will make world-class education more accessible to Malaysians and other people in the region, he said, adding that the education enclave was expected to accommodate 16,000 students at full capacity.

The deputy prime minister said 214 acres (86.6 hectares) or 70 per cent of the total 300 acres (121.4 hectares) of Educity had been developed, with three campuses and two shared facilities currently in full operation.

These include the campuses of Newcastle University, Marlborough College Malaysia and University of Southampton, while the Netherlands Maritime Institute of Technology is scheduled to open its campus next month.

“We will see more institutions operating in Educity in the next three years,” said Muhyiddin.

He said he was pleased that the tertiary education sector in Iskandar Malaysia was now drawing the attention of many international investors, including those from Singapore.

Besides MDIS, another Singapore group, Raffles Education Corp, is developing a RM200-million self-contained dedicated campus known as the Raffles University Iskandar, which is due to open in 2015.

Muhyiddin welcomed such cross-border investments from Singapore, saying the republic boasted some of the best tertiary institutions in the world and Educity in Nusajaya could complement the republic’s attractiveness as an education hub.

“There is much we can gain by joining forces to woo the best brains to study within our shores, instead of competing against one another, which will only result in lost opportunities and failure to capitalise on our strategic strengths,” he said. — BERNAMA

MDIS makes S$116m footprint in Iskandar

JOHOR — Singapore has increased its presence in the Iskandar area across the border, with private education provider Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS) breaking ground on its RM300 million (S$116 million) Malaysia campus yesterday.

At almost five times the size of its Singapore campus, MDIS Iskandar is an example of the keen interest in Malaysia’s first economic growth corridor. Singapore firms — such as Temasek, Ascendas and CapitaLand — have invested about S$2.5 billion in Iskandar since it was set up in 2006, making the country the largest foreign investor, according to the Iskandar Regional Development Authority.

“We welcome such cross-border investments … Students from various countries have long found it attractive and convenient to pursue their higher-education goals in Singapore. The demand for seats has risen in Singapore, herein lies the strategic advantage of Johor’s EduCity in terms of strategic location, land availability as well as excellent logistical network,” said Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin bin Mohd Yassin, who was the guest of honour at the groundbreaking ceremony.

The 12ha freehold site in EduCity, Nusajaya, will be the second overseas MDIS campus and its largest to date. Its first campus abroad was set up in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, in 2008 for US$20 million (S$25.5 million).

“MDIS Malaysia represents another major step in the firm’s overall strategy to expand our global footprint,” said Dr R Theyvendran, Secretary-General of MDIS.

The Malaysia campus will offer nine diploma courses in business and accounting, information technology and mass communications.

The first phase of MDIS Malaysia is expected to be ready by 2015 to accommodate 2,000 students. Meanwhile, the first batch of about 100 Malaysian students will begin lessons in business management and mass communications at the end of this month at a temporary campus in Johor Bahru City Square, MDIS said. When fully completed in 2023, the campus will be able to enrol 10,000 students.

MDIS said initial enrolment will focus on Malaysian students, with admission of international students at a later phase. The institution is eyeing students from Africa and the Middle East for the Malaysia campus, said Dr Theyvendran.

Malaysia aims to have at least 200,000 international students pursuing higher education in the country by 2020, up from about 90,000 now.

“The education enclave in EduCity will make world-class education more accessible to Malaysians and other people in the region,” Mr Muhyiddin said. He added that EduCity will have institutions at pre-school, primary and secondary levels, making it an “integrated world-class academic hub”.

The 121ha EduCity@Iskandar is a major flagship development in Johor’s Iskandar area, and has attracted more than RM700 million in investments. At full capacity, EduCity is expected to admit 16,000 students.

Eleven educational institutions have committed to developing campuses there, according to EduCity’s website, while the University of Southampton, Newcastle University and Marlborough College Malaysia have already started full operations.

Singapore’s Raffles Education Corp is also developing an RM200 million campus at EduCity.

– Contributed by Lee Yen Nee  Today

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Malaysia’s property market still growing strongly


malaysia-property-news
KENNY TanMalaysia’s property market still has much room to grow and will benefit from the high property prices in Singapore, said founder and principal trainer of Singapore-based School of Infinite Potential, Kenny Tan (pix).

“Malaysia(‘s property market) still has much growth. The market here is exciting and there is a lot of potential and resources. Malaysia can become a really solid country with its hardworking people,” he told SunBiz in an interview.

Tan, who is also ERA Realty Network Pte Ltd group division director and a practising real estate agent, said property prices in Singapore have driven buyers to Malaysia due to its closeness in terms of proximity and culture.

“A lot of Singaporeans buy their second home or investment properties here. There is a lot of interest here, especially in Iskandar Malaysia (Johor). There is a lot of interest from Singaporeans, but we always advise them to do research prior to investing,” he said.

Tan said while Singapore’s property market has gone through a few rounds of corrections, property prices in Kuala Lumpur have been constantly rising since 2004.

Although the issues in Europe and the US have resulted in expatriates pulling out and weakening the rental market, there has been a good influx of foreign interest from South Korea and Japan.

“There is still a lot of opportunities for real estate agents in this segment,” he added.

Meanwhile, the cooling measures introduced by the Singapore government has also helped attract interest to Malaysia, with Malaysian property developers taking the opportunity to ramp up their marketing efforts in Singapore.

However, there is still strong demand in Singapore’s properties despite the cooling measures, especially from Chinese investors, said Tan.

“(It’s just that Singaporean) investors are now taking their time to buy instead of rushing in and chasing prices. There are still transactions (in Singapore properties),” he added.

On property buying trends in Malaysia, Tan said it is moving towards online buying, selling and marketing.

“Technology provides convenience and productivity, one can search for properties online at any time and anywhere. This is already happening in Singapore and we foresee that happening in Kuala Lumpur over the next two to three years.

“There is an evident trend that Malaysia is moving towards that direction with the various online forums and property portals,” he said.

Tan said going online means buyers can do research before viewing properties or meeting up with agents, saving time and money. At the same time, real estate agents know the calls they get are more likely to be hot leads rather than cold calls.

“However, there is still a segment of buyers who still use newspapers to search for properties. For example, the older generation and those who are less internet-savvy.

“In Singapore, buyers who want to buy landed properties do not search online. There is still a certain type of buyer who like traditional media thus it is important to have both (mediums),” he added.

By Eva Yeong  sunbiz@thesundaily.com

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DAP strongman Lim Kit Siang’s biggest political gamble


Lim Kit Siang

A victory against Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman would mean the first time in the DAP veteran’s 50-year political career that he has defeated a major Malay challenger. A loss would see him packing out of Johor and, probably, out of politics as well.

Lim Kit Siang's recordDAP adviser Lim Kit Siang, who is contesting in Gelang Patah, is not as invincible as he might seem. He has been defeated before – not once but five times in a career that spans nearly five decades.

Besides, Kit Siang and his junior – DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng – have upset the apple cart in Johor and sparked the sudden disbanding of the three-man state DAP candidate selection committee.

State DAP chairman Dr Boo Cheng Hau, one of the panel members, has told friends he had invited Kit Siang in good faith to fight in Gelang Patah, which he had earlier been eyeing.

The veteran politician accepted but he is bringing along his “cronies” and this has caused bitter in-fighting and dissension among state leaders.

Kit Siang would need all the support and help he can get from Dr Boo, the current assemblyman for Skudai, one of the two state seats in the parliamentary constituency. (The other is Nusajaya.)

If he crosses the Johor chief, as he and Guan Eng had done, Kit Siang could hurt his chances in Gelang Patah.

The Lims, who control the party, are also bringing Liew Chin Tong from Bukit Bendera in Penang to Kulai and fielding “Superman” Hew Kuan Yaw in Labis.

Kit Siang and son, who is the Penang Chief Minister, had also used their “central power” to move current elected representatives from one seat to another in Johor.

All these moves, insiders say, is to cut Dr Boo down to size, as he seldom sees eye to eye with Guan Eng.

Besides, if Barisan Nasional fields Mentri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman in Gelang Patah, as is widely speculated, Kit Siang will probably face the toughest political fight of his life.

A victory would see him make history by defeating a Malay candidate and capturing a constituency that is synonymous with the ambitions of Umno.

On the other hand, a defeat would send the DAP stalwart packing – not only out of Johor but, probably, also out of politics.

Kit Siang is pushing 72 and a defeat may well sound the death knell of his long and illustrious career.

He has contested in 10 parliamentary and eight state seats, the first in a by-election in Serdang, Selangor in 1968.

He moved to Malacca, then back to Selangor, and, after that, to a disastrous showing in Penang with his failed Tanjung projects to wrest the state from the Barisan.

After his defeat in 1999, he emerged in Ipoh Timur in the 2004 general election and remained there for another term.

He is trying out Johor, as he did in Penang and Perak – a tried and tested strategy to expand the DAP’s reach, to find new territories for the party and to help the opposition front capture Putrajaya.

His nomadic political lifestyle is part of a strategy to also centralise national attention on himself and to make the state he migrates to the focal point of his party’s national election battle.

He never contested to serve as MP but, always, to expand the party among mostly Chinese voters.

While his political enemies have coined for him the phrase “touch and go politician” to describe his migratory practices, Kit Siang remains confident of his politics.

He hopes his venture into Johor, designed to take the Barisan by surprise, would have the “awe and wow” effect for the upcoming “mother of all battles”.

By his calculation, Kit Siang is sure of the Chinese voters, who form a slight majority in Gelang Patah. But he had not banked on the Barisan pulling a surprise of its own.

Ghani entering the fray, if it indeed happens, is wholly unexpected and is fraught with danger for Kit Siang.

This would make it a “Malay vs Chinese” electoral fight, the first time in Lim’s 50-year political life that he would be facing a major Malay challenger.

Besides, Ghani is mild-mannered, soft-spoken and enjoys a special relationship with the Chinese in Johor who, unlike their cousins elsewhere, did not wholly contribute to the 2008 political tsunami.

Kit Siang’s confidence is drawn from the party’s performance in Sarawak in the 2006 state polls, where it contested in 15 state seats and won 12, 10 of them with big majorities.

The DAP also won the Sibu seat by a slim majority in a hard-fought battle with the Barisan in a by-election.

With such a performance behind him, the hardcore politician is tuned to the possible – confident and willing to bet everything in one throw of the dice.

But the Lim dynasty, in their over-confidence, has upset the apple cart that had been carefully nurtured by Dr Boo in Johor.

Not only is the Gelang Patah contest much in doubt now, the party’s entire foray into Johor is being questioned by state DAP leaders.

Comment By Baradan Kuppusamy

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Generation Election 13: ‘Victory’ at any cost? 

General-Election-13_PRU-13

Pilihanraya Umum 13 PRU 13 General Election 13  

The DAP strategy of targeting MCA candidates could make the Chinese community the unwitting victim.

THE 2008 general election was significant as a “political tsunami” – the Opposition achieved its best ever gains, with the promise of an emerging two-coalition system.

That election would have been even more historic had it also achieved what many thought it would: end communal politics for good.

But it failed miserably, with no political party blameless. Perhaps it was too much to expect qualitative change in addition to quantitative change (seat numbers in state assemblies and Parliament).

Communal politics has been a bane of this country for as long as there have been elections.

That remains a fundamental reality into the foreseeable future.

For Barisan Nasional (and its predecessor the Alliance) as well as the Op­­p­o­sition, race-based politics is practised if not always acknowledged. It takes far more to turn that around than many have imagined.
Whether party membership is defined by ethnicity or not, one race or another dominates and characterises each party.

Parties that are multiracial in theory are just less transparent in their ethnic politics.

However, what turns an unfortunate situation tragic is when those parties most vehement about having “turned the corner” of communal politics are also doing the most to perpetuate it.

PAS as the Islamist party has set new standards in trying to ram Islamist-style restrictions down the throats of all Malaysians – Muslim and non-Muslim. It now does so with more gusto and less hesitation.

PKR as another Muslim and Malay-majority party chooses indifference and complacency in the face of the PAS onslaught.

It has even supported the idea of turning Kelantan into an Islamic state.

The DAP prefers silence and inaction amid PAS’ swagger. Elsewhere it would wield its non-Muslim credentials, sometimes to the point of playing the Christian card.

None of this helps to tone down Malaysia’s sweltering communal politics. And since this reinforces the problem in Pakatan itself, it could prompt more of the same in Barisan as well.

The DAP’s latest move sees party adviser Lim Kit Siang contesting the Gelang Patah seat in Johor. It would be the latest “stop” in a long and roving parliamentary career.

MCA, which has half (seven out of 15) of its parliamentary seats in the state, sees Johor as its stronghold.

MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek condemned this as DAP’s strategy of “Chinese killing off the Chinese”.

Both Chinese-based parties are natural rivals whose mutual rivalry has now reached a new high.

DAP leaders may dismiss this alarm as predictable melodrama, but it contains a hard kernel of truth.

The DAP’s drive for power is not above pitting Chinese candidates against other Chinese candidates, which is likely to reduce further the number of ethnic minority MPs.

Johor is also Umno’s home state. There is virtually no prospect of the DAP snatching the state from Barisan.

However, DAP efforts to unseat MCA parliamentarians in Johor could produce a strong Malay-based Umno in the state government contending with a Chinese-based DAP in the Opposition.

That would be bad and dangerous for politics, race relations and the Chinese community’s representation in governance. It would be a regression, precariously setting an unhealthy precedent.

In recent years Malaysian political discourse became more multiracial as both Government and Opposition coalitions became more racially mixed.

With both Barisan and Pakatan led by Malay-majority parties, political differences were distanced from racial differences.

In the absence of thoroughly multiracial politics, that seems the next best option. The prospect of political fault lines coinciding with ethnic fault lines, raising the possibility of an ethnic conflagration as in 1969, has thus become more remote.

But the risk of returning to such political volatility remains. Respon­sible leaders of every party need to be cognizant of these realities.

Besides, the cause of shedding the racial element in party politics cannot be furthered by recourse to more racial politics.

Under a veneer of multiracial rhetoric, the DAP has been known to practise communal politics in its seat choices and allocations.

Lim’s foray into Gelang Patah to battle the MCA incumbent there is the latest example of this approach. Instead of creating a more multiracial two-coalition system, this communal cannibalism could promote an unhealthy and perilous two-race system.

Apparently, the DAP’s objective is simply to unseat MCA candidates, seen as soft targets since 2008, regardless of the cost to the people. That can only come at the expense of deepening racial politics in electoral outcomes.

Perhaps the DAP’s Chinese candidates are thought to have better chances in challenging MCA’s Chinese candidates than Umno’s Malay candidates. But that is still a tricky calculation depending on the circumstances at the time.

Thoughtful and responsible leaders may not consider that a risk worth taking, much less a cost worth paying.

BEHIND THE HEADLINES  By BUNN NAGARA
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