Powerful signals expected from tommorow, Dec 8 ’18 rallies: advocating human rights, Malay rights, Islam to divide the nation


NGOs criticise govt on ICERD flip flop
At Malay Rights Rally, Lokman Calls D https://youtu.be/XJf8SfrO87s

THE line in the sand will be more clearly drawn than ever after tomorrow, with the predominantly Malay political opposition on one side and a more mixed ruling coalition on the other.

The anti-Icerd rally engineered by PAS and Umno has all the signs of being the biggest Malay-Muslim street protest the country has ever seen in recent times.

Parallels are being drawn to the mammoth Islamist rally in Jakarta last weekend that turned the biggest intersection in the Indonesian capital into a sea of people, all wearing white.

At the same time, an alternative rally organised by Suhakam to mark human rights day, aims to send out the message that Icerd or the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination also has support among fair-minded Malaysians.

Clarity is good in politics but not in this case because the line in the sand indicates the deepening cleavage in Malaysian politics.

The spark for the anti-Icerd rally was lit by opposition to the government’s move to ratify the United Nations’ human rights charter.

But it has since evolved into what looks to be a show of force by Malay-Muslim political parties and NGOs.

They want to tell the powers-that-be to be more sensitive and respectful when it comes to issues of race and religion.

“Let the Icerd issue be a lesson, so that there won’t be anything like that again in the future, said PAS deputy information chief Roslan Shahir.

There is also the deniable element of opportunistic politics, given that the main drivers of the rally are PAS and Umno.

It is no secret that both parties are keen to measure their support in New Malaysia.

“We are not going to pretend that it is not about politics.

“We want to show that two-thirds of Malays are not with Pakatan Harapan,” said Roslan.

And, as he pointed out, Bersih began as a movement for free and fair elections and grew into a movement to topple the Barisan Nasional government.

Size matters in politics, and everyone is anxious to see the turnout at the two rallies.

“I don’t think the wider Malay public is taking the (anti-Icerd) rally seriously now that the government has decided not to ratify Icerd.

“But it gives Umno and PAS supporters an outlet to vent their emotions against the government,” said Merdeka Centre director Ibrahim Suffian.

Given that, Ibrahim said ordinary Malays may not come out in large numbers, and the anti-Icerd rally is more likely to attract hardcore supporters of both parties.

However, if the level of organising behind the anti-Icerd rally is anything to go by, it will not be a small or quiet affair.

No less than former IGP Tan Sri Musa Hassan and retired Chief Justice Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad have expressed support.

Abdul Hamid, who is not in good health, had dramatised his support by arriving for an anti-Icerd forum in an ambulance and speaking on stage in a wheelchair.

The optics this Saturday will be quite powerful, and it will be exhilarating for some and worrying for others.

Just as the Bersih protests became a manifestation of the dislike for Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s government, the anti-Icerd rally will be a gauge of Malay sentiments towards Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s government.

According to a senior Malay journalist, the furor over Icerd also has to do with the build-up of Malay undercurrents over other issues such as the appointments of the Attorney General and Finance Minister.

“Then Icerd came along and it became too much for them to swallow.

“Dr Mahathir realised that if he pushed ahead with Icerd, his government will fall in the next general election,” said the journalist.

The Suhakam rally, to be held in Petaling Jaya, is likely to draw a moderate crowd but will reportedly feature Dr Mahathir and his Cabinet ministers.

“The Prime Minister has to show that no single side has monopoly over the Malay ground.

“He has to be seen out there because keeping quiet would suggest that you have surrendered or lost,” said political commentator Khaw Veon Szu.

Pakatan’s image has also been dented by its inability to defend Icerd.

Many equated New Malaysia with a future where there is greater equality and where policies are not based on race or religion.

They are disappointed that Dr Mahathir who took on the Malay Rulers and survived religiously-tinged issues like Memali, has been unable to push ahead with Icerd.

Likewise, DAP’s silence on Icerd has surprised its supporters given the party’s famous rallying cry of “Malaysian Malaysia”.

Critics out there complain that it took MCA 60 years to become cowed by Umno but it took DAP only six months to become like MCA.

Given the mix of emotions over Icerd, some are wondering whether it is a good idea for Dr Mahathir to launch the Suhakam gathering.

His coalition is struggling with Malay support and what he says at the rally will be misinterpreted and twisted in the less-than-wonderful world of social media.

For instance, Dr Mahathir’s latest blog posting, where he used a broad brush to paint Malay culture as corrupt drew caustic reactions from netizens asking him to justify the immense wealth of his children.

Dr Mahathir has been an experienced and reliable pair of hands in a Cabinet dominated by greenhorns and less than competent people but his second coming has not been as smooth as expected.

He is struggling to deliver.

In a sense, the anti-Icerd rally is a personal challenge to his leadership as the top Malay and Muslim leader.

The two biggest Malay political parties in the country are flexing their muscles and Dr M will have a chance to assess the extent of their support tomorrow.The Star by Joceline Tan

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Landslide nation, Malaysia ranks highly for landslides


We’re a country with the 10th highest number of landslides in the world. Heavy rainfall and rugged topography are the reasons – but these are secondary. The main cause is man-made.

 

Malaysia among countries especially prone to landslides

Malaysia sits among the top 10 countries that had a high number of landslides over the past decade.

According to data from the US National Aeronautics Space Administration (Nasa), Malaysia had 171 landslides between 2007 and March 2016, making the country ranked the 10th highest in frequency of landslides.

Ranked first is the United States (2,992), followed by India (1,265) and China (426).

Titled the Global Landslide Catalog (GLC), the one-of-its-kind dataset was compiled based on online and media reports, and scientific journals since 2007.

The Star analysed the dataset and found that the number of landslides have been increasing in Malaysia, almost with each year, reaching a peak of 33 occurrences in 2014.

On average, in the past 10 years, Malaysia experienced 18.5 landslides annually.

The high number of landslides means that Malaysia ranked 5th for landslides per square kilometre among countries that have a land area greater than 100,000sq km.

Nepal is the country with the highest number of landslides per square kilometre, followed by the Philippines, Britain and Guate­mala.

Most of Malaysia’s landslides occur between October and January, which coincides with the months with the highest rainfall. This is according to data on average monthly rainfall between 1991 and 2015 from the World Bank.

Sabah leads with the most number of landslides (42), followed by Kuala Lumpur (26), Sarawak (25), Selangor (22) and Penang (14).

Latitude and longitude data point towards certain areas that landslides commonly occur. These include Ranau in Sabah, Ringlet in Cameron Highlands, Bukit Antarabangsa in Selangor and Tanjung Bungah in Penang.

Nasa’s satellite view showed that most landslide occurrences in Malaysia are packed around the peninsula’s west coast, and Sabah and Sarawak.

Hardly any red dots could be seen in the Kalimantan region, south of Sabah and Sara­wak, which could indicate that the landslides are caused by over-development.

Based on Nasa’s GLC website, since 2007, it has recorded some 10,000 landslides around the world, leading to more than 20,000 deaths, mostly in South-East Asia.

Data on Malaysia showed that most landslide fatalities are in Kuala Lumpur (18), followed by Pahang (17) and Selangor (eight).

The GLC project, first published in 2010, was to provide scientists with a dataset to analyse how, why and where landslides are likely to occur.

It remains the largest publicly available repository of global landslides.

According to the Meteorological Department, the country will be experiencing the northeast monsoon until the end of March, with heavy rains forecast along the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia, eastern Johor and Pahang.

A higher than average rainfall level of between 250mm and 350mm is also forecast for certain places in Sabah such as Kudat and Sandakan. In Sarawak, Kuching, Samarahan, Bintulu and Kapit are forecast to receive an average rainfall level that exceeds 500mm.

‘Main cause is man-made’

Malay­sia’s rugged topography and high rainfall coupled with human activities are behind the country being among the top 10 countries with the most number of landslides.

Institute of Geology spokesman Ng Chak Soon said Nasa’s data was correct.

“This is due to a combination of natural factors and human activities. Natural factors comprise periods of high rainfall and rugged topography while human activities relate to the cutting of slopes,” he said in an interview.

Asked if the high frequency could also be due to the type of soil in Malaysia, Ng said this was true only for Sabah such as in Ranau.

“Sabahan soil seems to have a high percentage of expandable clay which absorbs more water and expands more when wet. It shrinks when dry,” he said, adding that earthquakes were also a new factor in the state.

Not a country with typhoon or volcanic eruptions, Ng said the country’s only threat came from landslides.

“And, this is mostly man-made.

“Practically every major landslide in this country is linked to engineering works where slopes have been cut or built or filled with material,” he said.

To a question whether Malaysia had to change its type of development work such as slope cutting to reduce landslides, Ng said: “Apart from the coastal plains, most of our country is hilly.

“That means slope cutting is inevitable.”

He said there was a lack of in-depth understanding of the underlying factors behind landslides among “experts” in the country.

Whenever a slope failed as part of engineering works, he said it was engineers who looked into the causes of failures or what could have been overlooked, overestimated or underestimated in their calculations.

“It is unfortunate that most of these reports (into landslides) are not freely available for public scrutiny,” said Ng, adding that this made it difficult to identify the causes and to prevent similar mistakes from recurring.

He also claimed there was a lack of appropriate geological input in the study into the causes of landslides.

In many countries landslides come under the ambit of their geological survey departments.

“Malaysia is the exception where the Geoscience and Minerals Department is not playing this key role and there is a very good reason for this,” said Ng. “Landslide as a geological phenomenon is a topic under engineering geology which is itself a branch of geology.

“Landslides began to be considered a problem only after the collapse of the Highland Towers in 1993.

“So, it is relatively new in Malaysia.

“To really have a better understanding of why slopes fail, we have to get the geologists involved,” he said.

Penang Apartment dwellers live in fear

 

Cause for concern: A view of the construction site where the paired road project is being built in Paya Terubong.

GEORGE TOWN: For the first time in the 10 years that he has stayed in his apartment near the Bukit Kukus paired road project, 62-year-old S. Santhara is worried.

That was where nine people died due to a landslide last month.

The retired fireman never had to worry about landslides because the hills behind his apartment in Paya Terubong were covered with trees.

“We knew the hills facing our block would not crumble as the trees held down the soil,” he said.

That was before the hills were cleared for the construction of the paired road project.

“As they started to clear the hills near my home last year, I worried about the stability of the slopes and whether there would be a landslide.

“Then, the Tanjung Bungah landslide occurred in October 2017 and I fear this place could be next,” he said.

On Oct 19, the landslide at the construction site for the paired road hit 12 containers that housed construction workers.

Besides the foreign workers who were killed after being buried alive, four others were injured.

The Tanjung Bungah landslide that struck the site of an affordable housing project in Lengkok Lembah Permai killed 11 workers, including a Malaysian.

A special committee, set up by the Penang state government, will begin investigations into the cause of the Nov 8 landslide at the Bukit Kukus project site in Paya Terubong.

Inquiry into the Tanjung Bungah landslide has yet to be completed.

The Bukit Kukus landslide, said Santhara, had taken place right behind the hill facing his apartment block.

Now, he said it was worrying whenever it rained.

“Anything can happen at any time. If I have the opportunity, I will move out,” he said at his home.

Already, he said, there was landslip on parts of the hill after the trees were cleared.

“There was erosion. It (the hill) has now been covered with sheets but we still worry when it rains.

“During rainfall, a lot of mud water wash down and drains overflow, spilling onto the road,” he said.

On the day of the landslide, K. Kalaiselvan, 43, who lives on the 18th floor of an apartment in the vicinity, heard a loud crash.

“It sounded like rocks and sand falling. Later, I realised it was a landslide.

“I am worried we could be next,” he said, adding that the slopes were bare and threatening.

“I run a coffee shop and have lived here for the past 15 years. This is my home.

“As I live on a really high floor, it is worrying whenever it rains,” he said.

Engineers: Put plan for a centralised agency into motion

PETALING JAYA: Set up a centra­lised national agency to really control slope safety, suggests the Institution of Engineers.

Its president David Lai (pic) said IEM had proposed the setting up of such a body years earlier and hoped that the government would look into this urgently.

“We had actually put in a position paper in 2002 on the classification of slopes into four categories according to the height and angle of the slope.

“We also had an update on the policy in 2009,” he said in an interview, adding that the two papers were conveyed to the Housing and Local Government Ministry that looked into building by-laws.

“We are still actively pursuing this matter,” said Lai.

He said there should also be a slope information management system put in place to identify risky zones.

“The government must take the lead in coming up with such a system. We can give recommendations but the government is the statutory body,” said Lai.

He was responding to Nasa data that put Malaysia among the top 10 countries with the most frequent landslides in the world between 2007 and 2016.

Lai said Malaysia should learn from Hong Kong which had to deal with several landslides in the 1980s until it set up a geo office.

“From then, they started to repair the old slopes and impose new guidelines. Now, they have managed to control slope failure,” he said.

He said IEM, which had some 48,000 members, had put in a recommendation that for development on critical slopes between 25° and more than 35° angle, there should not only be a submissions engineer but also a geo-technical specialist to check on the design.

Asked if there was a need for engineers to change their designs such as cutting or fortifying the slopes, Lai said: “We actually don’t need to change.

“We just need to make sure to put in place the required safety procedures.

“We just need to get the correct people and whether all these procedures have been implemented.”

He added that enforcement was a necessity.

He said with more hillside development, there was a need now for specialised geo-technical engineers, who knew soil conditions and behaviour, and incorporate this into slope design.

PWD working to keep landslides down

The Public Works Department (PWD) has been carrying out landslide prevention works on slopes along federal and state roads beginning this year.

The works, undertaken by its Slope Engineering Branch, will go on until 2020.

Among the measures being undertaken include evaluation, danger and risk mappings, and setting up of an early warning, real-time system for landslides.

Its director Zulkifly A. Ghani said the prevention works also included fortifying high-risk slopes along federal roads.

“For slopes along federal reserve and state roads, monitoring is being carried out by the district PWD via the visual method, such as site visits and inspections,” he said in an interview.

Zulkifly was responding to a question on the action taken by the department to monitor the slopes, particularly during the rainy season.

Last year, former works minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof said 946 of the 16,454 slopes along federal roads in Peninsular Malaysia were classified as “very high hazard” while 1,551 others were “high hazard”.

Zulkifly concluded this with the latest technology of Light Detection and Ranging and drones.

“The Early Warning System is being developed,” he said.

Zulkifly said the EWS was being developed using monitoring techniques such as rain gauge, robotic total stations as well as the Global Navigation Satellite System.

“The equipment will continuously monitor any slope movement and the data transmitted to a server for analysis and displayed on a special website.

“Should the movement reach the danger limit, it will send a message to the officer via SMS. The officer will then decide what to do,” he said.

Forty-eight rain gauges had been installed at risky slopes.

“The real time warning limit is displayed on a special early warning website for landslides, which however is still being developed and improved on by the branch,” he said.

Source: The Star by Sim Leoi Leoi, Adrian Chan, and N. Trisha

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Salary hike prospects ‘bleak’


THE Malaysian Employers Fund (MEF) announced its findings of four latest publications for 2018. The publications focus on the forecast of salary increases and bonuses for 2019. The outlook was “bleak”, according to the survey due to the global recession, increasing social costs and political uncertainties following GE14 which were among factors influencing the employers’ cautious attitude.

A few incentives were placed into the labour structure of the companies surveyed including productivity linked wage system (PLWS) and the Discrimination Reporting Procedure.

About 90% of companies and more indicated that the main reasons that they implemented PLWS was to reward good employees followed by aiming to improve productivity (which more than 80% responded) and to motivate average employees (more than 70%).

The findings also focused on the types of leaves provided where all participating companies provided annual leave and sick leave for top/senior managers, managers, execu- tives and non-executives.

The average total hours of total working hours per week for top/senior managers and managers were considered where they worked 41 hours compared to the executives where the average total working hours per week was 42 hours. In the case of non-executives the average total working hours was 43 hours.

About 42.5% of respondent companies implemented flexible working hours at the workplace. With implementation of flexible work arrangements 82.4% of the respondent companies indicated that there was increased employees’ engagement, commitment and satisfaction, quality of work and quantity of output (62.7%) and the company’s ability to retain talent (62.7%).

The survey for executives and non-executives were participated by 242 companies from manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors.

The executive report covered 160 benchmark positions of 14330 executives while the non-executives report covered 324654 non executives with 109 benchmark positions. – The Star

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Are you overpaying your property maintenance fee?


A property, no matter how great-looking it is, is only as good as its management and maintenance. It will look clean and polished when it is new but the good news is, it can still look as good even as it ages.

According to the Strata Management Act 2013 (SMA 2013) which came into effect in June 2015, a strata owner or occupier needs to pay a monthly maintenance fee or service charge to the Joint Management Body (JMB) or Management Corporation (MC) which will be used to manage and maintain the common property of the development.

Other than the maintenance fee, strata owners are also required to contribute to the sinking fund which is normally at the rate of 10% of the total amount of charges.

“A sinking fund is a reserve fund collected from the strata owner for future expenditure which is typically less predictable and cost a lot more than the usual maintenance fee. The sinking fund is usually used for large scale repairs such as a painting job or refurbishment of the interiors of common facilities,” says Chur Associates managing director Chris Tan.

However, some owners may feel that the maintenance fee is too much. But how much is too much? How is the fee amount calculated or set? Is there a formula or a guideline?

Formula to derive the share units

Under the SMA 2013 and Strata Titles Act 1985 (STA), a residential or commercial unit is technically known as a parcel and each parcel has a share value that is expressed in whole numbers under the STA.

“Upon the approval of computation and allocation of share units prepared by the licensed land surveyor, the director of Land and Mines will issue the Certificate of Share Unit. To derive the share units in a strata scheme, there is a standard formula under the Fourth Schedule of the Strata Titles Rules 2015,” explains Burgess Rawson Malaysia managing director Wong Kok Soo.

The standard formula for maintenance fee:

Refer to Table A for an example of how the share unit is derived for an apartment parcel.

What does the maintenance fee cover?

The MC chairman of Sri Penaga, one of Bangsar’s oldest condominiums, Khaw Chay Tee shares with EdgeProp.my that one of the biggest components in the operations expenditure of a residential condominium is security, followed by the property management staffing and cleaning.

“Normally these components make up 50% of your service charge. So at the end of the day, it really boils down to how well-managed that property is. If you are able to manage the property well, then you can keep the cost reasonable. There are some condominiums where the MC likes to carry out projects which incur costs, but that is a separate matter. As each condominium differs in its number of facilities and the density of the development, it is not so easy to compare and ask why this condominium in Bangsar is different from that condominium in Bangsar,” says Khaw.

Knight Frank senior executive director Kuruvilla Abraham concurs that the service charge will vary depending on the service level the JMB or MC requires.

“One can find cheaper options for the various services required which no doubt will result in lower service charges. However, don’t expect good service levels. The right thing to do is to get value-for-money services that commensurate with the expected service levels,” he says.

It also depends on the design of the development, he adds.

“The development with a reasonable number of facilities and a greater number of units will generally pay a lower proportion of service charge compared to one with similar facilities but with lower density.”

Furthermore, developments with more facilities such as fountains, gardens or swimming pools would naturally command a higher fee as more maintenance is needed.

When it comes to maintenance, the level of quality is subjective, reminds Chur Associates’ Tan. Hence, questions often arise on whether what they are paying is actually put to good use.

Kuruvilla points out that he has yet to come across a developer that has charged parcel owners more than what they are supposed to pay. (Photo by Knight Frank)

“What is the definition of “clean” to you? For some, clean means I don’t see any rubbish. For others, it means it has to be squeaky clean and sparkling. We cannot even come up with an industrial standard for door size and window size, how do we even budget the cleaning cost then? If I were the cleaning company, how would I charge you if your windows are bigger than others? Do I charge more? Or can I say the unit price is RM2 per window per cleaning [regardless of size]?” Tan questions.

He adds that the priorities of residents in different projects mean the maintenance fee charged for each development would be different.

“Some residents place a lot of emphasis on security, so they would rather [the JMB or MC] spend more money hiring guards from a prestigious company while there may be some who think that [the JMB or MC] should spend the money to clean the swimming pool daily because they use it often,” he explains.

Wong: To derive the share units in a strata scheme, there is a standard formula under the Fourth Schedule of the Strata Titles Rules 2015. (Photos by Low Yen Yeing/EdgeProp.my)

The problem with a low maintenance fee

The Malaysian Institute of Property and Facility Managers (MIPFM) president Sarkunan Subramaniam tells EdgeProp.my that problems often arise when the property developers set a lower-than-normal maintenance fee in the initial period to induce sales.

“During the first two years, the equipment is still under the defects and liability period, so if say, the swimming pool has an issue, you can just call the technician to come over for free. However, when the JMB or MC takes over when the warranty period has passed, cost will start to be incurred,” says Sarkunan.

Under the STA 2013, developers are not supposed to pass on any deficits or liabilities to the JMB and MC.

Chur Associate’s Tan says problems can also crop up later when a developer designs a very over-the-top facility or development but prices the property at a low selling price, hence attracting the wrong user/buyer profile to the project.

Sarkunan: Problems often arise when the property developers set a lower than normal maintenance fee in the initial period to induce sales.

“If I ask you what you want in your development, you will surely say you want everything. But nobody tells you that in order to have everything, moving forward, the monthly contribution will be higher. When the entry point is low, everybody wants to buy but nobody thinks about the maintenance fee in future.

“On many occasions, it is not about who gives the best facility but who is paying for it. Are you going to use it? How often do you go to your condo’s gym or would you rather go to a gym outside? Why? Maybe because you have your own personal trainer or you don’t want to be seen by your neighbour. So are we overdesigning and overproviding?” Tan questions.

In accordance with the Strata Management Act 2013 (Act 757) (SMA), developers shall hand over the maintenance and management of the strata development (common property) to the JMB not later than 12 months of vacant possession or the MC, should the strata titles be issued and transferred to the purchasers, whichever is earlier.

The items developers are required to hand over include the list of assets, fixtures and fittings, as-built plans, operation manuals as well as the audited accounts of the service charges, deposits and sinking fund as prescribed under the SMA via Form 4 (for JMB) and Form 13 (for MC).

The JMB and MC can then decide by votes or by appointing a registered property management company to suggest an amount for the maintenance fee.

“The owner has the right to request to see the accounts during the Annual General Meeting related to expenditure and raise the matter during the meeting,” says Knight Frank’s Kuruvilla.

However, he points out that he has yet to come across a developer that has charged the parcel owners more than what they are supposed to pay. In fact, the chances are higher that due to non-payment, the management account is likely to be in deficit resulting in there being insufficient funds to carry out proper maintenance and management of the development.

The problem with strata living is, everybody wants to have a well-maintained place to live but not everyone is prepared to pay for it.

“This is why the government passed the Strata Management Act 2013 (and Acts before this) so that after one year post development, it will give the parcel purchasers/proprietors the opportunity to manage the property and thereby giving them an understanding by getting first-hand knowledge in what it takes to maintain and manage a development well. Until one is directly involved, one will not be able to appreciate why service charges have to be paid on time to ensure there is sufficient funds to pay for the maintenance and management of the development.”

This story first appeared in the EdgeProp.my pullout on Nov 30, 2018. You can access back issues here..
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Politicising education hurts the Chinese


As Malaysia tackles a RM1 trillion national debt, it may be wise for Lim Guan Eng to focus on revitalising the economy than to whip up a confrontation with his own community over a RM30mil grant

WHEN Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, in his Budget 2019 presented early this month, removed the RM30mil matching grant for Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TAR UC), it hurt not just the MCA but also the Chinese community.

The government will provide a mere RM5.5mil as development fund to TAR UC. The fuming Chinese community is now taking up the issue as TAR UC, along with Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR), another institution of higher learning linked to MCA, has provided affordable education to many Chinese students over the past 50 years.

The removal of the matching grant to TAR UC – an annual amount given by the Barisan Nasional government to the university college previously to match the funds it raised – will negatively impact its continued survival.

Hence, emotive comments against Lim have been dominating the vernacular media since the grant issue emerged.

A petition against the Finance Ministry has also been launched.

Notably, though they are two non-profit institutions set up by MCA – TAR UC in 1969 and UTAR in 2001 – they are now seen as part and parcel of the Chinese community, which has been supporting their operation and expansion with billions in cash donations and land.

The late philanthropist of Penang, Tan Sri Loh Boon Siew, told me in an interview in 1991 that he had contributed land and cash to TAR UC. Other Chinese tycoons, too, have privately shared such information with me.

Together with the matching grants from the government totalling RM1.353bil over the last 50 years, MCA was able to expand the reach of the university college, from Setapak to Penang, Sabah and Pahang.

In the last 17 years, MCA also built UTAR campuses in Sungai Long (Selangor) and Kampar (Perak).

In the five decades since TAR UC started, children from poor Chinese families and other ethnic groups, regardless of political leanings, have benefitted from the education offered by it due to its affordable fees.

In fact, TAR UC and UTAR are two of MCA’s best non-political projects which have contributed tremendously to the Chinese society, to compensate for its past failure to safeguard Chinese rights in the Umno-dominated Barisan regime.

Putting into historical context, TAR UC – which started as TAR College before being upgraded to university college status in 2013 – was a product of political compromise when non-­bumiputra student intake into the five public universities then was limited by the introduction of the bumiputra quota. The one-to-one matching grant enabled TAR UC to provide an avenue for higher education for those from the lower-income group as well as performing students denied entry into public universities by the quota system.

Hence on Sept 15, 1972, Datuk Hussein Onn, the then-Education Minister, handed over the Instrument of Government to the institution.

A 77ha plot in Setapak was allocated for the construction of TAR College’s main campus.

Later, UTAR was set up and officially launched on Aug 13, 2002, by then Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad after higher education in the private sector was liberalised.

According to MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong, some 200,000 students have graduated from TAR UC/UTAR over the past 50 years.

Currently, the student population in the two institutions totals 28,000. Employees stand at 1,500 (60% Chinese, 40% non-Chinese).

These figures show that not just the Chinese have benefitted from the existence of UTAR and TAR UC but the Malays and Indians as well. Among the Pakatan Harapan leaders who were beneficiaries of the TAR affordable education are Cabinet ministers Teresa Kok, Datuk Salahuddin Ayub and Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail as well as Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow and exco member Chong Eng.

As these two institutions have become integral to the Chinese community, it is natural that vernacular newspapers are following closely the developments in this issue.

From the writing in the Chinese media, it can be seen that this issue is threatening to become a “Chinese community vs LGE/DAP” confrontation. This may not augur well for Lim.

While there are people who agree with Lim’s argument to separate education from politics, and that MCA must cut its links with these institutions, they form a miserable minority.

In a strongly worded comment piece “Play-killing UTAR”, Sin Chew Daily deputy editor-in-chief Tay Tian Yan points out that in speaking up on the grant issue, it is not meant to support MCA, but to show concern for the future generations of the Chinese community, particularly those from the poorer classes.

In response to Lim’s warning to MCA that the two institutions cannot raise tuition fees, Tay concludes: “UTAR will die an eventual death if it cannot raise fees and is not given a grant. What will be the future of our Chinese youth?”

Generally, Lim is seen as abusing his power to punish his political rivals and in the process undermine the interest of his very own community. Such political gimmicks should be stopped when dealing with taxpayers’ money, given that 80% of the country’s revenue is contributed by Chinese businesses and individuals in the form of taxes.

For many people, it is particularly repugnant when Lim threatened to “take action” against MCA if the institutions raise tuition fees.

In a China Press editorial yesterday, Lim was reminded that last year when he was Penang Chief Minister, he had said education allocations to schools should be given regardless of political backgrounds. And he acted fairly.

“But after LGE became Finance Minister, his statement last year on equality dissipated. Shouldn’t the former Penang CM give a big scolding to the current Finance Minister?” asks the writer mockingly.

The Pakatan government has also been reminded that 95% of Chinese voted them in to oust the previous administration in the May 9 general election. Their support should not be taken for granted and forgotten.

In short, TAR UC and UTAR should not be penalised just because of their parental link with MCA.

Looking at national development, these two institutions have nurtured much talent to serve the country, particularly in the field of accountancy.

File photo of UTAR's Faculty of Business and Finance in Kampar, Perak.
File photo of UTAR’s Faculty of Business and Finance in Kampar, Perak.

In fact, from my own observations, these institutions are more professionally run than many other private colleges and universities.

For this reason, and for their affordable fees, my husband and I sent our daughter to study in UTAR. She graduated last June.

As the country is confronted with a slowing economy and has to tackle a national debt of over RM1 trillion, it may be wiser for Lim to focus on revitalising the economy and other bigger national issues than to whip up a confrontation with his own community over a RM30mil grant.

By  Ho Wah Foon, The Star

Related post:
Ministers and leaders who benefited from UTAR & TAR UC, removed matching grants to varsity

https://youtu.be/AiIUc3spw-Y Varsity grads: Chew says he is disappointed with Lim for removing the matching grants when some lead..

 

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Ministers and leaders who benefited from UTAR UC & UTAR, removed matching grants to varsity


Varsity grads: Chew says he is disappointed with Lim for removing the matching grants when some leaders like (from left) Kok, Salahuddin and Saifuddin were products of the MCA-linked
institut
ions.

KUALA LUMPUR: MCA has pointed out that several Pakatan Harapan leaders were beneficiaries of MCA-linked institutions of higher learning.

MCA central committee member Datuk Chew Kok Woh named ministers Teresa Kok, Datuk Salahuddin Ayub and Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail as the beneficiaries.

He said even Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow and state executive councillor Chong Eng were products of Tunku Abdul Rahman University College, then known as KTAR, and now TAR UC.

Chew expressed disappointment that Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng had removed matching grants to TAR UC.

He said although TAR UC and Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman were set up by MCA, they were never used for political reasons, saying all the graduates could verify TAR UC and UTAR were apolitical.

He said these institutions were professionally run, adding Lim’s decision spoke volumes about his “politics of vindictiveness”.

In fact, he said, the decision was a timely reminder that DAP had done nothing for education except to criticise.

“What has DAP done for Chinese education? Name us one,” he said in a statement.

He said DAP should not punish parents and students by depriving them of affordable education because of political reasons.

Chew feared that Lim’s action would lead to higher tuition fees at these institutions.

He said many parents, who could not afford private colleges and universities, depended on TAR UC and UTAR.

Chew said the two institutions had produced more than 180,000 graduates of high calibre since its inception in 1969, while UTAR has 56,000 graduates since 2005.

“We need to put aside politics to help Malaysians, especially those from the lower-income background,” he said.

Chew said TAR UC and UTAR graduates, including these Pakatan leaders, could vouch that these two institutions were not “MCA indoctrination centres”.

It was recently announced by Lim that the government would only allocate a RM5.5mil development fund for UTAR and TAR UC, instead of a RM30mil matching grant for TAR UC.

Lim insisted that both education institutes break off ties with MCA before the government provides more allocation for the two institutions.

In the Dewan Rakyat, Ayer Hitam MP and MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong debated with Lim, stating that the matching grants were vital to help ensure lower student fees for the two institutions.

On Facebook, Dr Wee expressed his disappointment in the Finance Minister’s reply, adding that TAR UC was wholly owned by the TARC Education Foundation and should not be seen as part of MCA’s assets, and that the university college also submitted audited accounts to the Education Ministry every year.

Dr Wee also told reporters in Parliament House that TAR UC might have to increase its fees to cover operational costs.

Founded in February 1969 as KTAR, the institute was upgraded to university college status in May 2013 and renamed TAR UC.- The Star

Related News

 

Politicising education hurts the Chinese

 WHEN Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, in his Budget 2019 presented early this month, removed the RM30mil matching grant for Tunku Abdul Rahman University College (TAR UC), it hurt not just the MCA but also the Chinese community. The government will provide a mere RM5.5mil as development fund to TAR UC.
File photo of UTAR's Faculty of Business and Finance in Kampar, Perak.
UTAR’s Faculty of Business and Finance in Kampar, Perak.

 

ICERD: An universal pact against racial discrimination, to ratify or not to ratify no longer the question


Just look at the world today.:

MYANMAR, South Sudan, North Korea, Vanuatu… What do these countries have in common with Malaysia?

Yes, they all have not signed or ratified the United Nation’s International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD).

Malaysia is currently one of 14 countries in the world that have not recognised or signed the UN treaty.

The other countries in this exclusive club include the Cook Islands, the federated states of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Samoa, Niue and Tuvalu.

Out of 197 countries, 179 countries have ratified or acceded to the ICERD. Four countries – Angola, Bhutan, Nauru and Palau – have signed the ICERD but not ratified it.

The treaty was first mooted in the early 1960s in response to the growing racial discrimination and religious intolerance in the world.

In 1965, the ICERD was adopted unanimously by the UN General Assembly, with one abstention. The Convention came into force in 1969.

Malaysia and Brunei are the only Islamic-majority countries that have not signed ICERD. All 22 states of the Arab League, Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan and Indonesia, among others, have signed and ratified the treaty.

However, many countries only agreed to be bound by ICERD with certain reservations.

Reservations to parts of ICERD are allowed as long as they are not “incompatible with the object and purpose” of the treaty. Even the US has made a reservation: it does not accept any part of the Convention that would oblige it to criminalise hate speech.

Many – including China, India and Thailand – do not accept a provision that allows national ICERD disputes to be referred to the International Court of Justice. Singapore, which only ratified ICERD in November 2017, reserves the right to apply its own policies on foreign workers, “with a view to promoting integration and maintaining cohesion within its racially diverse society”.

Most of the Islamic states that have ratified ICERD state that they will not recognise or establish relations with Israel.

Saudi Arabia is the sole Islamic state that has a reservation that it will only implement the ICERD provisions that do not conflict with the Islamic Syariah.

Tonga and Fiji reserve the right on indigenous citizens’ land. In fact, many countries that have ratified the ICERD have affirmative action policies to ensure marginalised and indigenous groups are given some privileges to help them move up the social and economic ladder.

This is clearly stated in the treaty: state parties are allowed, “when the circumstances so warrant”… to use “positive discrimination policies” for specific racial groups to guarantee “the full and equal enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms”.

And while the treaty obliges signatories to “pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating racial discrimination in all its forms”, some have questioned its effectiveness in eliminating racism and hate crime.

To ratify or not to ratify no longer the question

But the ICERD remains a tempest in a political teapot, and so the discussion on the UN Convention must continue in Malaysia, a nation at the crossroads

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A NUMBER of individuals and groups denounced the proposal to ratify the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) on the ground that it will destroy Malay rights, weaken the position of Islam and erode the power of the Malay Rulers.

Most of the criticisms have no legal basis. However, as hate and fear are potent weapons in politics, the perpetrators have succeeded in polarising society and raising the spectre of violence. The Prime Minister has, therefore, strategically retracted the proposal to ratify.

The debate on this UN Convention will, however, continue and this necessitates a brief discussion of the Federal Constitution and the ICERD.

Equality

The Constitution in Articles 5-13 protects many human rights and these are available irrespective of race. Article 8(1) declares that all persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law. Article 8(2) states that except as expressly authorised, there shall be no discrimination on the ground of religion, race, descent, place of birth or gender.

Many other Articles explicitly forbid racial discrimination. Among them are Article 12(1) relating to education and Article 136 regarding impartial treatment of federal employees.

Citizenship (Articles 14-22); the electoral process; membership of Parliament; and positions in the Cabinet, public services, judiciary and the constitutional commissions are all free of racial differentiation.

Permissible exceptions: To the general rule of racial equality, a number of exceptions are explicitly provided. Foremost are protection for the aborigines (Article 8), Malay Regiment (Article 8), Malay Reserves (Article 89) and special position of the Malays and the natives of Sabah and Sarawak (Article 153). These preferential provisions are not based on the idea of racial superiority or exclusiveness but on a mixture of historical realities and the impulses of affirmative action. Their primary purpose is to engineer society through the law and to ensure that those left behind in socioeconomic development are able to catch up with the others.

Article 153’s provisions have much in common with India’s special provisions for the Scheduled Castes. Like in India, Article 153 provisions are hedged in by clear limits. For example, Article 153’s quotas do not apply across the board but only in four areas: positions in the public service; scholarships and educational and training facilities; licences and permits; and post-secondary education.

It is also notable that Article 153 enjoins the King to safeguard the “legitimate interests of other communities”.

Likewise, Article 89(2) requires that where land is reserved for Malays, an equal area shall be made available for general alienation.

ICERD

This piece of international law takes a strong stand against apartheid, segregation, discrimination and racial superiority. However, it recognises the need for affirmative action. It acknowledges the need to rectify historical injustices and to enrich formal equality with functional and substantive equality. Articles 1(4) and 2(2) of ICERD permit “special measures taken for the sole purpose of securing adequate advancement of certain racial or ethnic groups or individuals requiring such protection”.

This is quite in line with Articles 89 and 153 of Malaysia’s Constitution. However, the ICERD seeks to set limits on the duration for affirmative action. The measures “shall not be continued after the objectives for which they were taken have been achieved”.

This has riled up the ICERD critics because Articles 153 and 89 contain no time limits. It is submitted that for all practical purposes the differences between Article 153 and ICERD are insignificant. ICERD opposes “eternity clauses” but imposes no time limit. Article 153 imposes no time limit but is capable of amendment subject to the special procedures of Articles 159(5) and 38(4) – two-thirds majority plus the consent of the Conference of Rulers and the Governors of Sabah and Sarawak.

ICERD in Article 20 allows nations to ratify it with reservations. For example, the United States adopted ICERD but objected to any provision in the Convention that breached the US Constitution. Malaysia can do the same and indeed has done so in a number of situations.

We adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 in section 4(4) of our Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act 1999 but subjected it to our Federal Constitution. We adopted the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) but subjected it to our Constitution’s Article 8(5) which exempts personal laws from the Constitution’s gilt-edged provisions for gender equality.

ICERD and Islam

To bolster their opposition to the ICERD, its critics are claiming, amazingly, that ICERD will weaken the position of Islam. To give this claim any credibility requires a willing suspension of disbelief. The ICERD is against racial discrimination and does not address itself to official religions or secularism or theocracy. In any case, Islam promotes racial equality. The ICERD has been ratified by 179 nations, of which 48 are Muslim nations. Out of 50 Muslim countries, only Malaysia and Brunei are non-signatories.

ICERD and Malay Rulers

The ICERD is not anti-monarchial and in no way affects the honours and dignities of the 27 monarchies existing in the world today, six of whom are absolute monarchies.

International law is not law

Even if ratified by the executive, ICERD cannot displace Article 3 (Islam), Article 153 (special position of the Malays and natives) and Article 181 (prerogatives of Malay Rulers). This is due to the legal fact that our concept of “law” is defined narrowly in ArticIe 160(2) and does not include international law.

The constitutional position on the ICERD is, therefore, this: Even if the ICERD is ratified by the executive, it is not law unless incorporated into a parliamentary Act. Even if so legislated, it is subject to the supreme Constitution’s Articles 3, 153 and 181. Unless these Articles are amended by a special two-thirds majority and the consent of the Conference of Rulers and the Governors of Sabah and Sarawak, the existing constitutional provisions remain in operation.

The ICERD is not a law but only a pole star for action. Its ideals cannot invalidate national laws. The agitation against it is contrived for political purposes and perceptive Malaysians must not allow themselves to be exploited by politicians.

By Shad Saleem Faruqi

Emeritus Professor Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi is a holder of the Tunku Abdul Rahman Chair at Universiti Malaya.

 

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