When tongues wag and tales grow: be aware of politicians gone to the dogs!


With the GE imminent, politicians are already snarling at each other, hoping to score points early.

I love dogs. I’ve always had one, from since I was a child, and now, I have three – two Siberian huskies and a poodle.

Despite their differences – in age and breed – they truly love each other, and it’s a real blessing to have this trio of girls in our family.

But I can’t echo that sentiment for some of our politicians. Politics in Malaysia has gone to the dogs. The concerned players are already in dog fights and the general election hasn’t even been called yet.

It’s still early days, although everyone reckons polling is on the horizon. And we’re all too familiar with the dog-eat-dog nature of politics.

Politicians are already snarling, slobbering and barking at each other. Everyone seems to be calling each other liars and running dogs daily.

Therefore, this has left many of us confused. Who is telling the truth? The incessant snapping doesn’t seem to be seeing an end. There is no light at the end of the tunnel, so to speak.

Well, it was the Penang undersea tunnel that got the ball of nastiness rolling. There’s no resolution in sight, for sure, and if you think we should only cross the bridge when we get there, forget it. It’s under-utilised, at least one of them, anyway.

Well, as the saying goes, every dog has its day, but at some point, it’s going to be dog-gone for any politician who can’t stick to the truth or remember the lies he told. For certain, it will be one hell of a dog day afternoon when that happens.

Meanwhile, opposition leader Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has been criss-crossing the country telling his audience that Malaysia will go to the dogs if Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak remains Prime Minister. Yes, those are his exact words – go to the dogs.

There’s still plenty of fire in his belly, like a dog with a bone on issues, although he called off a few functions last week, presumably because of health reasons.

On Friday night, he was admitted to the National Heart Institute. Guess he must be dog tired. He’s still a crowd puller and has the knack of explaining issues in simple language and in a low, calm voice, as opposed to the thunder and lightning approach favoured by his DAP partners.

His deadpan expressions and trademark sarcasm are enough to draw laughter and keep the crowds entertained. But he has been continuously dogged by the ghosts of his past. The palaces are in an unforgiving mood for what he has done previously, when he was at the helm for 22 years.

It was Dr Mahathir who launched the campaign to amend the Federal Constitution to remove the Sultans’ immunity in the 1990s.

Dr Mahathir has also been asked to return his DK (Darjah Kerabat Yang Amat Dihormati) title, the highest award in the state, which was conferred on him in 2002. The move by the Kelantan palace to revoke the Datukships of two top Parti Amanah Negara leaders from the state has sent ripples through political circles.

Amanah vice-president Husam Musa and his state chief, Wan Abdul Rahim Wan Abdullah, returned their titles to the palace several days ago after being instructed by the State Secretary’s office to do so.

In December, Dr Mahathir returned the two awards he received from the Selangor Sultan, a move believed to be related to the palace’s outrage over his remark on the Bugis, whom he describes as pirates, irking many, including several Sultans.

The chairman of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Pribumi) was the recipient of two medals of honour from then Selangor Sultan in 1978 and 2003. One of them was the Darjah Kebesaran Seri Paduka Mahkota Selangor (SPMS) (First Class).

Dr Mahathir reportedly told a Pakatan Harapan rally that Malaysia was being led by a prime minister who is a descendant of “Bugis pirates”.

That comment triggered outrage from the Johor Palace, Bugis community and associations in Malaysia, and even from some parts of Indonesia.

Selangor Ruler Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah was also incensed by Dr Mahathir’s remarks in an interview with The Star.

Last January, the Sultan of Johor said he was “deeply offended and hurt” by the political spin used by certain politicians against mainland Chinese investments in the state, saying if left unchecked, would drive away investors. A visibly upset Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar singled out the nonagenarian for “putting political interests above Malaysian interests, particularly Johor”.

To put it simply, it appears that Dr Mahathir has run into serious problems with the powerful Rulers, and anyone who understands Malay politics will surely appreciate the relationship between the executive and the Rulers.

The Pakatan Harapan may feel that they should unleash our former PM since he was their top dog to best reach the Malay audience, but plans have run aground somewhat.

Politicians come and go, but Rulers remain, at least for longer than politicians. Rulers determine the laws, in many ways, and it would be foolish for a politician to take on these highly-respected royalty.

It will be hard for Dr Mahathir’s younger party colleagues to communicate with him – he comes from another generation all together. And as the adage goes, it’s hard to teach old dogs new tricks. He’s known to be stubborn and one who will doggedly talk about the issues of his choice.

The odd situation is that it is unlikely that any of the Pakatan Harapan leaders will come out openly to defend him. It’s a classic case of tucking their tails between their legs, with the whining kept private.

It’s truly the Year of The Dog. Let’s hope the GE will be called soon because most Malaysians just want to get it over and done with. We have already let the dogs out, and we hope to bring them home soon!

A happy Chinese New Year to all Malaysians celebrating. Gong Xi Fa Cai.

Wong Chun Wai

Wong Chun Wai

Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in
Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various capacities nd roles. He is now the group’s managing director/chief executive officer and formerly the group chief editor.

On The Beat made its debut on Feb 23 1997 and Chun Wai has penned the column weekly
without a break, except for the occasional press holiday when the paper was not published. In May 2011, a compilation of selected articles of On The Beat was published as a book and launched in conjunction with his 50th birthday. Chun Wai also comments on current issues in The Star.
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Opening up a can of worms from Penang Undersea Tunnel project to Ayer Hitam …


‘In the very first place, does Penang really need an undersea tunnel and
three main highways? Are the new infrastructures going to solve the congestion in Penang or bring in more vehicles?

THE trend for P148 looks promising and it will definitely be very hot.

No, I am not giving you any lucky numbers. P148 refers to Ayer Hitam parliamentary constituency in central Johor.

Ayer Hitam did not draw much attention before this. It is seen as a “safe seat” for Barisan Nasional, and has been held by MCA’s Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong for several terms.

Pakatan Harapan has allocated P148 to DAP. DAP, which was at first reluctant to contest there, told Amanah: “You can contest here under the DAP logo.”

It goes to show that DAP initially did not want to commit to a war it has no full confidence of winning.

But things have changed. Recently, DAP’s top leaders have upgraded the status of P148. Its adviser Lim Kit Siang said if (Pakatan) wants to take over Putrajaya, it has to wrestle Ayer Hitam.

People cannot really comprehend what the direct link is between Ayer Hitam and taking control of Putrajaya.

It would be easier to understand that the Opposition coalition is one step closer to Putrajaya if former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad wins Pulau Langkawi or Kubang Pasu.

But P148 Ayer Hitam? It is not the seat of (Prime Minister) Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, (Deputy Prime Minister) Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi or (Defence Minister) Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein. It is not special at all.

As for Dr Wee, it is still fresh on people’s minds that he has been aggressive in questioning the Penang undersea tunnel project.

Is DAP listing Ayer Hitam as their primary battleground because they want to topple Dr Wee? Does it want to take the MCA deputy president down because he has been critical of the project?

Is this a strategy to attack Dr Wee in order to save Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and force Dr Wee to stop harping on the tunnel project?

Or perhaps, it is an “act of revenge” to show Dr Wee some colours?

Frankly speaking, I don’t think Dr Wee will back off as he is known for his tough personality.

Quite the contrary, this will further boost his fighting will, prompting him to investigate the undersea tunnel issue further by diving 3km into the deep blue sea to seek answers.

From the people’s point of view, I think the focus should not be on the two personalities.

This does not have to be a battle between Guan Eng and Dr Wee. This should go beyond a spat between them.

It should be an issue of public interest. The public can analyse the case and be the judge.

DAP’s intention to conquer Ayer Hitam will bring the tunnel project issue to a bigger platform for it to be scrutinised and debated. This will be a positive development.

People are interested to know why the feasibility study and detailed designs for the undersea tunnel and three main roads would cost RM305mil.

A point to note is the feasibility study and detailed designs for the three main roads cost more than RM200mil.

A back-of-the-envelope calculation showed that the cost for every kilometre is about RM10mil, based on the total length of 20.3km.

The engineering industry said the cost was “extraordinarily high”. Is the feasibility study so detailed that it will find out how many worms there are in every inch of the land?

The construction cost of the undersea tunnel is RM3.6bil, with the feasibility study and detailed design priced at RM96mil.

Why is the feasibility study for the three roads higher than that of the tunnel when the roads are supposedly easier and cheaper to build?

Guan Eng insisted that not a single sen has been paid. But then, why has the state government transferred parcels of land to the investors involved?

With the exit of the builder from China and the entrance of a local fashion company (in the project’s special purpose vehicle), there is a change in the paid-up capital. This does not match the requirement set earlier. How will the state government handle this?

The reports have yet to be completed and the project has not yet started. Will the tunnel still be built? Penang state executive councillor Chow Kon Yeow said the three main roads would be built first but will this go against the overall concept of the project?

In the very first place, does Penang really need an undersea tunnel and three main highways? Are the new infrastructures going to solve the congestion in Penang or bring in more vehicles? Why doesn’t the state government build a metro rail? Wouldn’t it better suit the needs of Penangites?

From undersea tunnel to Ayer Hitam, a series of questions and doubts has emerged.

This should not be a dispute between Guan Eng and Dr Wee but an issue of public interest that ought to be explained and clarified.

By Tay Tian Yan, The Star – The writer is Sin Chew Daily deputy editor-in-chief..

Related Links:

NGOs: Rail link better, not tunnel – Nation

Lim told state assembly CRCC part of SPV, says Wee – Nation

‘Paid-up capital only RM26.5m’ – Nation

Wee: Lim must explain the 10% share as claimed – Nation

https://youtu.be/fW6TE27jpuQ

Penang CM refutes tunnel claims

CRCC did not ink contract, says Liow – Nation

Penang has enough roads and linkages, say activists – Nation

Penang has enough roads and linkages, say activists – Nation

Tunnel project given to 82-day-old firm – Nation

Clear air once and for all, Wee tells Penang government – Nation

Penang govt confusing the public with conflicting claims, says Teng …

Gerakan questions ‘early promotion’ of property – Nation

 

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Anti corruption agency MACC to interview Lim, and Norlela who did the right thing


Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) will call up Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and Penanti assemblyman Dr Norlela Ariffin to facilitate investigations into the Sungai Lembu’s illegal factory case.

GEORGE TOWN: Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and Penanti assemblyman Dr Norlela Ariffin are ex­­pected to be called up by the Ma­­­laysian Anti-Corruption Com­mis­­sion (MACC) to give statements over the illegal factory in Kampung Sungai Lembu, Bukit Mertajam.

MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki con­­firmed that both would have their statements recorded at a suitable time.

“This is a normal procedure to call up them up as they have talked about the matter publicly.

“Their statements are needed to complete the investigations,” he said.

Sunday Star reported that the MACC is investigating two letters, which appear to have originated from state executive Councillor Phee Boon Poh, asking that no ac­­tion be taken against an illegal factory.

The letters, written in 2015 and 2016, directed the Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP) from shutting down the carbon filter-processing factory which has been operating illegally for the past 10 years.

Phee was remanded five days since Saturday together with factory director Edmund Gan Eu Leong, 37, and his father Gan Buck Hee, 70, who is the factory mana­ger.

It is understood that a third MPSP officer has also been summoned to give his statement.

On Friday, two officers from the Enforcement Department and the Licensing Department were also called up.

“They were not arrested,” Azam said.

He added that the MACC also conducted several raids and seized do­cuments from Phee’s office at Kom­­tar and his house in Sungai Puyu.

Yesterday, MACC officers spent more than an hour at his service centre in Jalan Ong Yi How in Butterworth. With them was Phee.

It was learnt that the MACC also raided two of his houses in But­­terworth yesterday.

In Alor Setar, an attempt by lawyers representing Phee and two others to quash their remand order was rejected by the High Court.

Judge Hashim Hamzah told Ramkarpal Singh, R.S.N Rayer and Dev Kumaraendran that their application should have been filed at the Penang High Court as it was the “suitable forum” for the matter.

Ramkarpal said they would file an application at Penang High Court today.

The MACC and several enforcement agencies first raided the factory on Thursday following complaints from villagers that its fumes could affect their health.

Meanwhile, MCA religious harmony bureau chairman Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker criticised DAP for “bullying and blaming” Dr Norlela for her request to the authorities to take action against the factory.

He said DAP cannot play the victim card now because Malaysians are beginning to see the party’s hypocrisy when it comes to corruption issues.

“DAP should allow the MACC to do its work without any hindrance and own up when their leaders are embroiled in corruption,” Ti said in a statement.

Transparency International Ma­­laysia president Datuk Akhbar Sa­­tar said MACC should be allowed to investigate the case professionally and fairly without fear or favour.

“Let the due process take its course and let us wait for the outcome of the investigations,” he said.

Source: The Star by Crystal Chiam Shiying and Lo Tern Chern

Norlela did the right thing – She’s merely fulfilling her duty to constituents, says state Gerakan Chief

Geroge Town – State Gerakan chairman Teng Chang Yeow has defended Penanti’s PKR assemblyman Dr Norlela Ariffin, who has been voicing out concerns on the illegal factory operation in Kampung Sungai Lembu.

“What we are concerned about is that the matter had been dragged on for so long.



“Her complaints fell on deaf ears for so long, so you can’t penalized her.



“She has raised it many times, in the state assembly, to the authorities and Village Security and Development Committee, but there was no action,” he told a press conference after attending the State Delegates’ Conference 2017 at the state Gerakan Heeadquaters in Macalister Road yesterday.

It was reported that Dr. Norlela denied that she was responsible for the action being taken against an illegal carbon filter processing factory in Kampung Sungai Lembu.

She refuted the accusations in a Facebook post on Saturday, saying that she had highlighted complaints from her constituents.

Dr. Norlela said she was disappointed that she was blamed for the arrest of state exco member Phee Boon Poh.

Commenting on several past actions against Dr. Norlela, including having a state allocation to her constituency withheld pending her written explanation for not attending the Yang di-Pertua Negri’s swearing-in ceremony in May, Teng said Gerakan may have differences with other Barisan National component parties, but it never penalized them.

He said that when Gerakan led the government, he had faced criticisms from MCA representatives but no action was taken against them.

Gerakan president Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong opened the event. – The Star

Gerakan defends PKR’s Norlela over Penang illegal factory issue

GEORGE TOWN: Penanti assemblyman Dr Norlela Ariffin should not be penalised for speaking up on the illegal factory in Kampung Sungai Lembu, said state Gerakan chairman Teng Chang Yeow today.

“Being the state assemblyman of the constituency, she had every right to raise questions about the illegal factory.

“She was merely performing her duty,” he said during a press conference here, today.

He was responding to Norlela’s claim that she was treated like a criminal after expressing her gratitude to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) for taking action against the illegal factory.

“Thank you to the MACC for solving the issues which have been plaguing the villagers there. We have been doing our best to help the villagers,” she had said in a Facebook posting recently.

She had said that in May this year, she received an 18-page petition, signed by 180 villagers, objecting against the illegal carbon filter factory.

“I raised several questions at the state legislative assembly sitting the same month. The state environment committee chairman had said the factory was burning 2,000 tonnes of sawdust monthly to be turned into activated carbon for water filters,” she had said.

On Thursday, MACC and other agencies raided the factory in Bukit Mertajam after numerous complaints to the authorities fell on deaf ears.

This was followed by further raids at the Seberang Perai Municipal Council licensing department offices and state Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh’s office, service centre and houses.

Phee is being remanded for five days pending investigations into an illegal factory in Kampung Sungai Lembu in Bukit Mertajam.

He was detained after he went to MACC’s office to have his statement recorded on Friday.

Yesterday, Norlela revealed that she had been treated like a criminal since Phee’s arrest.

Source: NST By BALVIN KAUR

MACC gets more statements in illegal factory case

BUKIT MERTAJAM: No one has yet to be charged over the illegal carbon filter processing factory in Sungai Lembu as graft-busters are still investigating the case and gathering evidence.

Three Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers showed up at the village yesterday and were seen talking to several residents there for about an hour in a coffeeshop.

Sungai Lembu Village Development and Security Committee (JKKK) chairman Tan Sing Lee and some businessmen staying and running businesses near the factory were later summoned to the MACC office in Butterworth to give statements.

“Initially, they wanted to record our statements at the coffeeshop but on seeing the press, they told us to go to their office instead,” Tan said.

Tan arrived at the MACC office with JKKK secretary Yeo Keng Chuan at about 1.30pm and left about 45 minutes later.

A spokesman for the MACC said it had recorded statements from several people, and that no arrest was made.

“We are still investigating,” he said.

Penang state executive councillor Phee Boon Poh, together with factory director Edmund Gan Eu Lee, 37, and his father Gan Buck Hee, 70, were arrested by the MACC on Aug 11.

But all walked free last Monday after their remand orders were set aside by the High Court.

The spokesman said the MACC would be appealing the court decision.

Meanwhile, Gerakan took Penang PKR assemblymen to task for not defending Penanti assemblyman Dr Norlela Ariffin against the barrage of attacks that came after she exposed the illegal factory.

“Why haven’t the men in PKR come to her aid? Are they so afraid of being victimised by DAP?” said state Gerakan vice-chairman Oh Tong Keong.

“What is also baffling is that the incident happened in the PKR fortress of Permatang Pauh,” he told a press conference.

He claimed that what happened to Dr Norlela was nothing new because Tanjung Bungah DAP assemblyman Teh Yee Cheu was also sidelined for speaking the truth.

Meanwhile in Kota Kinabalu, MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki said no investigation paper has been opened in the acquisition of the Grand Borneo Hotel by Felda Investment Corporation (FIC), purportedly at a higher market price.

He said it was still premature to suspect any wrongdoings in the purchase of the three-star hotel (in Kota Kinabalu).

“We are not moving in as yet. Our focus is still on the ongoing probe on FIC’s purchases of the two hotels in London and Kuching.

“Besides, there is still a need to compare the valuation reports during the time of purchase and the actual value of the Kota Kinabalu hotel,” he said when contacted.

Azam was asked to comment on a report suggesting that the MACC was to conduct a probe on a third hotel managed by FIC.

The Grand Borneo was said to have been acquired by Felda for RM86.4mil in 2012.

Azam said there were no plans to send MACC officers to Sabah.

Sabah MACC director Datuk Sazali Salbi also said that his state officers were not involved in any probe over the matter.

It is learnt the MACC would focus on completing the ongoing probe first as the remand order for Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad ends tomorrow.

On Tuesday, the former Felda chairman was arrested by the MACC after he was called in to give his statements over FIC’s purchase of hotels in London and Kuching.

The MACC is investigating suspicion of power abuse and corruption in the purchases of the two hotels.

So far, anti-graft officers have visited Mohd Isa’s houses in Selangor, Nilai, Linggi and Seremban, as well as his office at the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) headquarters. Mohd Isa is acting SPAD chairman.

It was reported that cash amounting to RM100,000 was seized from a safe in one of his houses. – The Star.

Related Links:

Those involved in ongoing corruption cases have been warned by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission not to make public statements. Its chief commissioner Datuk
Dzulkifli Ahmad said such acts can be deemed as interfering with investigations and are pun

 Wee: Stop the double standards – Nation

Lawyer: MACC did not notify Phee about action taken on bank …  Clueless about freezing order

Phee: I don’t have RM2mil in my bank accounts – Nation

Phee’s accounts with RM2mil frozen for a few months – Nation

MACC gets more statements in illegal factory case: Read on the original site

 

Stop blaming past Penang govt’

 

 

Factory’s burning sawdust pits greet DoE inspection team

Phee freed but MACC plans to appeal High Court’s decision

 

No protection for corrupt in Penang govt, says Guan Eng | Free …

 The Penang government will not protect any of its officials … Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng says he believes state exco man Phee Boon … Phee, who is in charge of the welfare, caring society and environment portfolio, was arrested yesterday by the MACC over alleged misuse of power.

PKR rep Norlela blamed for Phee’s arrest 
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Malaysian MACC Act’s Sect.62 declared unconstitutional will be challenged by prosecution



Court of Appeal: Section 62 of MACC Act unconstitutional


PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal has ruled that Section 62 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009 is unconstitutional.

Justice Datuk Umi Kalthum Abdul Majid, who chaired a three-man bench, made the ruling after allowing the appeals by Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and businesswoman Phang Li Koon to declare Section 62 as unconstitutional in their corruption cases.

The panel held that Section 62 was ultra vires when read against Article 5(1) and 8(1) of the Federal Constitution.

Section 62 requires accused persons to disclose their defence statements to the prosecution before the beginning of the trial.

However, Article 5(1) states that no person shall be deprived of his life and personal liberty save in accordance with law, while 8(1) states for equal protection under the law.

“We allow the appeals and set aside the order of the High Court,” said Umi Kalthum, who heard the appeals with Datuk Ahmadi Asnawi and Datuk Abdul Rahman Sebli on Monday.

The Court of Appeal granted DPP Datuk Masri Mohd Daud’s oral application to stay the proceedings in the Penang High Court pending the prosecution’s appeal over the decision.

On March 7 this year, the High Court dismissed Lim and Phang’s application after ruling that Section 62 of the MACC Act was constitutional and valid as it did not impede the accused’s right to a fair trial.

Lim pleaded not guilty to charges of corruption in relation to the conversion of land from agricultural to residential and the purchase of a plot of land and bungalow at below-market value on June 30 last year.

Lim was charged with using his position as Chief Minister to gain gratification for himself and his wife, Betty Chew Gek Cheng, by approving the application for conversion of agriculture land to a public housing zone in south-west Penang to a company, Magnificient Emblem Sdn Bhd.

He allegedly committed the offence while chairing the Penang State Planning Committee meeting at the operations room, Level 28, Komtar building here, on July 18, 2014.

The charge under Section 23 of the MACC Act 2009 provides for imprisonment of up to 20 years and a fine of up to five times the sum or value of the bribe, or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.

Lim faces a second charge of using his position to obtain for himself a plot of land and a bungalow located at No, 25, Jalan Pinhorn, George Town on July 28, 2015 from Phang for RM2.8mil, below market value.

The charge under Section 165 of the Penal Code provides for a jail term of up to two years, or a fine, or both, upon conviction.

Phang pleaded not guilty to abetting Lim in obtaining the bungalow at an undervalued cost.

She allegedly committed the offence at the same place and date.

The charge under Section 109 of the Penal Code read together with Section 165, provides for imprisonment of up to two years, or a fine, or both, upon conviction. – Bernama

MACC will appeal against ruling that Section 62 is unconstitutional


PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) will be appealing the Court of Appeal’s ruling that Section 62 of the MACC Act is unconstitutional.

The MACC stated in a statement on Tuesday that its prosecutors would be filing an appeal to the Federal Court “as soon as possible”.

“The MACC also wishes to clarify that this decision by the Court of Appeal does not affect the prosecution of Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and businesswoman Phang Li Koon,” it said.

On Monday, the Court of Appeal ruled that Section 62 of the MACC Act was ultra vires when read against Article 5(1) and 8(1) of the Federal Constitution, thus deeming it unconstitutional.

Section 62 of the Act requires accused persons to disclose their defence statements to the prosecution before the beginning of the trial.

However, Article 5(1) states that no person shall be deprived of his life and personal liberty save in accordance with law, while Article 8(1) states that all persons are entitled to equal protection under the law.

The ruling was made after allowing the appeals by Lim and Phang to declare Section 62 as unconstitutional in their corruption cases.

Lim currently faces charges for obtaining gratification for himself and his wife related to the conversion of land into residential development and another charge for using his position to purchase a bungalow below market value. Phang has been charged with abetment. – The Star

MACC: ‘Decision has no bearing’

PETALING JAYA: The Court of Appeal’s decision to declare a section of the Malaysian Anti-Corrup­tion Commission (MACC) Act as unconstitutional does not affect the prosecution of the Penang chief minister and a businesswoman, the graft busting body said.

The MACC said in a statement that its pro­secutors would be filing an appeal to the Federal Court “as soon as possible”.

“The MACC also wishes to clarify that this decision by the Court of Appeal does not affect the prosecution of Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and businesswoman Phang Li Koon,” it said.

On Monday, the Court of Appeal ruled that Section 62 of the MACC Act was ultra vires when read against Article 5(1) and 8(1) of the Federal Constitution, thus deeming it unconstitutional. Section 62 requires accused persons to disclose their defence statements to the prosecution before the trial begins.

But Article 5(1) states that no person shall be deprived of his life and personal liberty save in accordance with law, while Article 8(1) states that all persons are entitled to equal protection under the law.

The ruling was made after allowing the appeals by Lim and Phang who sought to declare Section 62 as unconstitutional.

Lim currently faces charges for allegedly obtaining gratification for himself and his wife related to the conversion of land into residential development and another charge for allegedly using his position to purchase a bungalow below market value.

Phang has been charged with abetment.

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Political tone at Penang heritage do


Politics was the name of the game at George Town heritage event involving a wealthy Chinese community leader and the current and former Chief ministers of Penang.

IT is rare to see the current and former chief ministers of Penang together but there they were, sharing the same stage at a heritage event at one of the most historical sites in George Town.

But going by the expressions on their faces, they seemed less than thrilled unlike the host of the occasion, Zhang Wei Lu, who was seated between them.

Zhang, a wealthy and good-looking businessman and currently chairman of the Penang Chinese Clans Association, looked buoyant and confident even though he is embroiled in a brewing dispute with the state government. His composure was all the more remarkable given the news reports in the Chinese vernacular press about his personal life just days earlier.

At the heart of Zhang’s dispute with the state government is a heritage property in George Town known as “50, Love Lane” which is historically connected to the Ghee Hin secret society in the 1800s.

The trustees who oversaw the property have died, leaving behind a backlog of unpaid property charges that resulted in the property being forfeited by the state.

The association has been trying for years to redeem the property but things took on an accelerated tone after Zhang came into the picture and discussions with the state government became strained along the way. The ties were also marred by disputes over state allocations for the association’s cultural events.

Things came to a head last week at the association’s annual heritage festival.

The Chinese clans and guilds have long been a part of local politics in Penang and politicians tend to dance around them because of their perceived clout over the community.

Over the years, it has been the practice for the chief minister of the day to attend but relations with the state government had grown so awkward this year that Zhang’s invitations to the state exco drew a blank. Only one state exco said he would be there.

As a result, the association turned to former chief minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon to launch its event.

Dr Koh was said to be quite reluctant because he had made a clinical cut with all things political after retiring from politics. His status on Facebook is listed as “Writer” and he has been working on his memoirs.

It is understood that Dr Koh only agreed to attend after Zhang told him that Lim Guan Eng would not be able to make it. Dr Koh is not the confrontational type and he was not interested in getting into a conflict.

But according to Zhang, a day before the event, he was informed that Lim would be attending. It was too late to change the arrangements and that was how Zhang found himself sandwiched between the sitting and former chief ministers.

That was when things took a rather political turn. Zhang made what some thought was a rather political speech. He praised Dr Koh for his contributions to the state and thanked him and the former state government for laying the foundation for George Town’s Heritage City status.

There is a Chinese saying, jie dao sha ren (borrow a knife to slay someone), and those watching on could see that Zhang was using Dr Koh to hit out at the state government.

It was a significant moment because members of the former state government had been treated like the proverbial black sheep since 2008 and Dr Koh had been like some kind of invisible man in Penang where he lives.

“It was the first time a big Chinese association had openly acknow­ledged and thanked Dr Koh for his contributions,” said Gerakan politician Dr Thor Teong Ghee.

Zhang also used the occasion to hit out at politicians for their “dirty politics” and for attacking him on personal matters.

He was referring to Chinese press reports quoting some DAP politicians who had dug into Zhang’s academic background.

The Chinese media often refers to him as “Dr Zhang” but checks by the DAP side showed that he did not complete his medical studies in Taiwan and they also questioned reports that he had furthered his studies in the Philippines.

There was also an awkward protocol moment which some thought was disrespectful to the Chief Minister. Normally, the highest ranking guest speaks last but Dr Koh was the final speaker.

The former and current chief ministers are as different as night and day and it was reflected in their respective speeches.

Lim was his usual combative self. He elaborated on his achievements for Penang and at one point, he sort of challenged Dr Koh to contest the general election and let the people decide on who they wanted.

But he did indicate that the state government would abide by the law on the “50, Love Lane” issue and he urged the association to consult their lawyers to find a solution.

Dr Koh played the gentleman po­li­tician. He said Penang’s Heritage City status was a long and challenging effort that would not have been possible without the input of his state exco members and the backing of the federal authorities.

“It is also the success of the people, of the different races, so we have to preserve it for the future generations,” he said.

The issue of “50, Love Lane” has become more complicated now that it has strayed into political waters.

Jelutong MP Jeff Ooi, who has a weekly column in the Penang-based Kwong Wah Yit Poh newspaper, had written on the issue: “Politicians and office-bearers come and go but the assets of the community are forever. We have to think of the long-term interests of the community. We have our expiry date and his (Zhang) expiry date is May next year.”

It was a signal to Zhang that his term as association chairman will end in May and he should not delay the legal process if he wants to be part of the solution.

Is the “50, Love Lane” issue a sign of the shifting tides in Penang Chinese politics?

Source: The Star by Joceline Tan

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Dismayed over the exorbitant engineering consultancy fees, 4 times higher !


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

When asked to comment, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng replied: “Another day.” – The Star

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


 

CM may have too much on his plate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Be fair when sharing power’‘

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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