New Malaysia’s civil servants must keep it civil of multi-racialism !


Brave new world: The civil service needs to get used to the New Malaysia approach while our ministers need to snap out of the Opposition mode and get down to work.

Wake Up Malaysian Civil Servants: Duty Beckons

by dinobeano

August 16, 2018 Wake Up Malaysian Civil Servants: Duty Beckons by Dr Amar-Singh HSS http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com These Civil Servants pledge to feather their own nest We need to get rid of the culture of censuring those in the civil service who speak up when they see wrong being done. I found the courage to write this […]

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Keeping it civil: The civil service makes up the backbone of any nation, yet the concept of its implementation continues to elude some of the powers that be.

IT’S often said that ministers come and go, but civil servants stay forever. And the good old government machinery runs as before, a fact some of our new ministers will probably be clued into by now.

Ministers who have no experience at state government level may have pre-conceived notions of the privileges they enjoy, like unlimited authority and knowing what they decree would suffice to overrule the bureaucrats.

And that is the biggest mistake they could make as newcomers to Putrajaya, because nothing exemplifies shooting oneself in the foot more than putting down civil servants – they run the ministries, after all.

Making its rounds on the grapevine these days is how some ministers put down their secretaries-general at meetings, believing they know better, or quite possibly, that they can do a better job at improving the performance of their charges.

Some of our ministers were probably not born when British sitcom Yes, Minister (which later became Yes, Prime Minister) aired on BBC Two, and on RTM, from 1980 to 1984.

Set principally in the private office of a British Cabinet Minister in the fictional Department of Administrative Affairs in Whitehall, it follows the ministerial career of the Right Honourable Jim Hacker.

In it, he attempts, or rather, struggles to formulate and enact laws or effect departmental changes and meets with resistance from the civil service, in particularly his Permanent Secretary Sir Humphrey Appleby.

The obstructions (sabotages, some would say) were often carried out so deftly that the minister would often rarely know what hit him or possess a trail of evidence to prove insubordination.

In fact, the delays (such as total rejection of policy) were cited to impress upon the minster that the shenanigans were for the benefit of his political mileage.

But of course, the sitcom was totally fictional and in real life, not all civil servants could get away like that.

Respected banker and commentator Tan Sri Dr Munir Majid wrote that Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had put together a Cabinet with a mix of races and genders, and a range of ages, which is unprecedented in the political governance of our country. However, except for a handful of ministers, the Cabinet falls short on experience.

Dr Munir urged Pakatan ministers to get out of “Opposition mode” so they can function and deliver with all the advice and support available.

“They would need to get the government machinery – the civil service – to implement their decisions effectively.

“Here, there is another problem. The largely Malay civil service is not used to having political masters committed to a multi-racial Malaysia and a no-nonsense regime,” he wrote.

That simply means our ministers, who have been used to merely delivering fiery speeches, now need to roll up their sleeves and get down to work and show the fruits of their labour. They can only blame the ills and corruption of the previous government to an extent.

A few ministers, and even the Attorney-General Tommy Thomas, must now grapple with all the documents being in Bahasa Malaysia, unlike in the private sector where the medium of communication is English.

Their staff would most likely be entirely Malay, except for their aides, who are political appointees. Directives would be issued in an entirely different way, obviously reflected by the work culture and style of communication.

That is just how the civil service works, so, they simply need get used to it. Of course, stories of all this being a culture shock for some have surfaced recently.

Dr Munir reminded that “there is still some way to go to arrive at a New Malaysia in terms of multi-racialism. After two generations of ‘Malay First’ and subsequently ‘Malay and Muslim First’ political ethic, there is a mountain to climb to make it New Malaysia.”

The reality is that about 75% of the Malay electorate in GE14 voted for Umno or PAS, in comparison to 95% of the Chinese voters who voted for Pakatan Harapan (an increase from the 85% who supported the now-defunct Pakatan Rakyat coalition in 2013). About 70% – 75% of Indians voted for PH, the figures show.

It has been reported that only 25% – 30% of Malays voted for PH, according to figures from Merdeka Centre. Apparently, 35% – 40% of Malays voted for Barisan Nasional while 30% – 33% supported PAS.

The findings displayed that although a higher percentage of Malays voted for Pakatan Harapan in Johor and in west coast states such as Melaka and Negri Sembilan, the coalition’s overall Malay support was diminished by its weak performance in Kelantan and Terengganu.

It’s no secret that as the new government reaches its 100-day mark, some ministers are still struggling to assemble their offices.

It’s just as well that some have yet to meet the press or make statements, because they are still learning to juggle the workload as others continue their scramble to find the ideal personnel.

The job has been so overwhelming that they have been unable to meet their key officers to solidify plans and directions.

With no appointments in sight, some staff are wondering if they are being snubbed, or simply that the ministers are too busy with other engagements. It doesn’t help that they don’t even reply messages.

But the civil service needs to accept that this is New Malaysia. There is no turning back. The culture of openness, accountability, engagement and success must take centre stage, with any form of prejudice left by the wayside.

The strategy of using race and religion to stir emotions seems hollow now.

Millions of ringgit were stolen from the people by those in power, and as the facts have revealed, they weren’t Chinese, Indians or Christians, contrary to what these politicians still want the Malays to believe.

And certainly, the civil servants who sniffed out the moral decay under their very noses knew exactly what was happening.

Clean, trustworthy and competent ministers, and a loyal, non-corrupt and efficient civil service will make Malaysia great.

After all, as the saying goes, it doesn’t matter what colour the cat is, as long it catches the mice.

In this context, what’s important is surely them being good Malaysians.

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 and 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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Pooch and prejudice: years of the Dog 2018 and Pig 2019


No puppy love: To immortalise Hachiko’s loyalty, a shiny bronze sculpture stands near the Shibuya train station.

I decided to celebrate Chinese New Year away from Malaysia this year, so my wife and I chose Tokyo as our destination.

We wanted somewhere that was a short flight’s distance for a brief getaway to celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary, an occasion marked auspiciously by Valentine’s Day and of course, this time around, the Chinese New Year holidays too.

Now, the problem with Tokyo is the absence of any form of Chinese New Year mood there since it is not observed by the Japanese. But the cool weather was a refreshing change from the stifling heat currently enveloping Malaysia.

That said, the Year of the Dog would not be complete without tipping the hat to Japan’s most revered dog at Tokyo’s Shibuya metro station.

There, a statue of the faithful and fabled canine Hachiko has been erected as a homage, where selfie opportunities are mandatory for anyone visiting Tokyo to realise their trip.

The dog, from the Akita prefecture, has long become a symbol of faithfulness, a trait familiar with dog lovers.

This legendary canine was born in the city of Odate but ended up being owned by university professor Hidesaburo Ueno, who lived in the Shiba neighbourhood.

Hachiko would wait patiently at the same spot in the train station for his owner to return on the 4pm train from his workplace, the Tokyo Imperial University.

But one day in May 1925, the professor never returned to greet his loyal friend after suffering a fatal cerebral haemorrhage on campus.

A forlorn Hachiko would return to that same spot for the next 10 years, hoping to be reunited with his master.

“It is said that the dog would wait outside the station every evening – a model of fidelity and patience,” the Japan Times reported.

To immortalise the canine’s loyalty, a shiny bronze sculpture stands at the Shibuya station. The art fixture was put up in 1934 and has since become one of the area’s main tourist attractions.

The story inspired the 2009 film Hachi: A Dog’s Tale, starring Richard Gere. And less known, perhaps, is Hachiko Monogatari from 1987, which relates the same tale.

The body of golden-brown Hachiko, which has been described as the most faithful dog in history, was found in a Tokyo street in 1935. He had died of old age. To keep his memory alive, he was preserved and placed on display at the National Science Museum.

He also has his own memorial beside his master’s grave at the Aoyam cemetery.

In 2015, a new statue was installed at the University of Tokyo, the new name of the imperial university, to mark the 90th anniversary of Ueno’s death and the 80th of his dog’s.

“The statue depicts a joyous image of the professor and his loyal dog being reunited. It tells a happy tale of master and dog reunited forever at last,” a news article reported.

As we celebrate the Year of the Dog, the Malaysian Islamic Development Department must be applauded for assuring Muslims that using images of dogs for Chinese New Year celebrations “is something that must be respected by all” and “according to the Islamic concept of co-existence, as well as Malaysia’s practice of moderate Islam”.

Jakim director-general Tan Sri Othman Mustapha’s statement was certainly welcome and was even a pleasant surprise for many non-Muslims, who often view the authority as conservative.

After all, this is the same agency that insisted popular pretzel chain Auntie Anne change the name of its “Pretzel Dog” to “Pretzel Sausage”.

Non-Muslims have always been respectful of how Muslims consider dogs unclean under Islamic tradition.

Some have gone to ridiculous lengths to ensure that such sensitivity is observed – even leaving out the likeness of two animals, the dog and pig, from the Chinese zodiac!

Believe it or not, a T-shirt maker printed tops like these to represent the 12 zodiac animals for the Chinese New Year recently.

And some malls even chose not to use image of dogs in their Chinese New Year decorations.

Not surprisingly, the over-reaction of these business entities have irked their Chinese customers, judging from the response on social media.

It may seem surprising that Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) has produced some of the best veterinary doctors in this country, the majority of them Muslim.

My late dog Jezz, a gorgeous white Spitz, lived for 16 years and endured that long because of the loving affection of a Muslim vet at UPM.

She showed her care, not just as an animal doctor, but as someone who consistently reminded her students and visiting pet owners that dogs are also God’s creations.

A young tudung-clad Muslim vet from a clinic in Aman Suria, Petaling Jaya, has also been doing a wonderful job of looking after the health of my poodle, Paris.

In all my visits to consult these two doctors, neither has ever displayed any apprehension or disdain in handling my pets. They have always been professional and are true animal lovers, even graciously accepting dogs.

Next year, the Chinese will celebrate the Year of the Pig. For whatever reason, we have become more afraid these days, a situation far different from the past.

Well, the last time we celebrated the Year of the Pig in 2008, nothing untoward happened and the chubby animal didn’t disappear into thin air then either.

I have always had complete faith in the sense of reasoning and maturity of our people, and I believe no one will lose their head over a zodiac sign.

Wong Chun WaiBy 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 and 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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China top paper warns officials against ‘spiritual anaesthesia’, the root of corruptions


The founder of modern China chairman Mao Zedong.

 

BEIJING: China’s top newspaper warned Communist Party officials not to “pray to God and worship Buddha”, because communism is about atheism and superstition is at the root of many corrupt officials who fall from grace.

China officially guarantees freedom of religion for major belief systems like Christianity, Buddhism and Islam, but party members are meant to be atheists and are especially banned from participating in what China calls superstitious practices like visiting soothsayers.

The party’s official People’s Daily yesterday said in a commentary it had not been uncommon over the past few years to see officials taken down for corruption to have also participated in “feudalistic superstitious activities”.

“In fact, some officials often go to monasteries, pray to God and worship Buddha,” it said.

“Some officials are obsessed with rubbing shoulders with masters, fraternising with them as brothers and becoming their lackeys and their money-trees.”

Chinese people, especially the country’s leaders, have a long tradition of putting their faith in soothsaying and geomancy, looking for answers in times of doubt, need and chaos.

The practice has grown more risky amid a sweeping crackdown on deep-seated corruption launched by President Xi Jinping upon assuming power in late 2012, in which dozens of senior officials have been imprisoned.

The People’s Daily pointed to the example of Li Chuncheng, a former deputy party chief in Sichuan who was jailed for 13 years in 2015 for bribery and abuse of power, who it said was an enthusiastic user of the traditional Chinese geomancy practice of feng shui.

“As an official, if you spend all your time fixating on crooked ways, sooner or later you’ll come to grief,” it said.

The People’s Daily said officials must remember Marx’s guiding words that “Communism begins from the outset with atheism”.

“Superstition is thought pollution and spiritual anaesthesia that cannot be underestimated and must be thoroughly purged,” it said. — Reuters

 

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YBs, please lend us your ears


Some of our lawmakers should re-focus their attention and find ways to help ease the cost of living.

IT’S disturbing, to say the least. We have economic issues that Malaysia needs to deal with seriously like the continuing uncertainty in the price of oil, market slowdown and slide in the value of our ringgit which is affecting our country’s coffers.

The cost of doing business has shot up against the backdrop of declining revenue and profits, which worries most Malaysians.

All of us, especially those in the middle and lower income groups, are grappling with the increasing cost of living. The worst hit are the wage earners living in major cities such as Kuala Lumpur, Johor Baru and Penang.

If our elected lawmakers have any idea of what the rakyat is going through, they should be focusing on ways to help ease the cost of living.

Never mind if they have to talk in the Dewan Rakyat till 5am. And to our Yang Berhormats, don’t expect us to sympathise with you, because get this – no one pressured you to be a Member of Parliament. You chose to stand for elections yourself.

But sadly for us, instead of having the chance to listen to top quality debates on ways to help Malaysia find new sources of revenue and not just depend on oil and palm oil, again, we find some of our legislators preferring to channel their energy into religious matters.

Not that religion isn’t a priority for us. It is, but the reality is this: we will never reach common ground.

So, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang has managed to table the controversial Private Member’s Bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act or RUU355, but the debate on it has been deferred. That’s the furthest he gets.

He can keep saying that it will not affect non-Muslims, but the majority of non-Muslims know this to be untrue.

We are a plural society and no one community lives in isolation. Our lives are intertwined and entangled as Malaysians. There’s no such thing as laws that do not affect the entire community.

Abdul Hadi says it isn’t hudud, but hudud is written all over the Kelantan Syariah Criminal Code (II) Enactment (1993) (Amended 2015) and if Abdul Hadi’s Bill is passed, it will only give life to such laws on a national level.

Remember, even a poster of a Bollywood actress pinned up at a watch shop in Kelantan resulted in a non-Muslim shopkeeper being fined because the authorities thought the photograph was sexy. And not to mention the unisex hair salons which have long been penalised.

Abdul Hadi expects us to believe him when he says that non-Muslims will not be affected. And if we go by his “logic”, non-Muslims have no say over the matter.

The majority of Barisan Nasional component parties do not want this Bill – it is that simple – and we are glad that the Prime Minister understands that the coalition operates on consensus.

The fact is that the MCA and MIC have stood by Umno, even when it was at its lowest, since our independence. These are proven friends of more than six decades and not newfound pals who got together because of common political expediency.

Let’s get real. Umno isn’t going to move aside and allow PAS to contest in any constituency in the general election, nor will PAS allow the same for Umno.

Malaysia is a multicultural country founded on the principles of moderation. This is not a Middle East nation, even though the Muslims make up the majority of the population. We should be proud of our unique Malaysian way of life.

I studied Malay Literature for two years in the Sixth Form, sat for the examination (and passed) and when I entered university, I signed up for the Malay Letters Department courses at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.

I wanted to deepen my understanding and appreciation of the Malay arts. Not Arab arts. Malays are Muslims, not Arabs.

Over at the august House, even as Abdul Hadi became the focus of attention after tabling the Bill, we had to put up with Tasek Gelugor MP Datuk Shabudin Yahaya, who at one point suggested that rapists be allowed to marry their child victims as a solution to social problems.

He can keep blaming the press, claiming that he was quoted out of context, but there are certain basic remarks he made that he cannot run away from.

You can watch the video recording of what he said a few times and pause at certain parts of the video. It is pretty clear.

A girl who is nine years old may have reached puberty, but is she old enough to have sexual intercourse after she marries? A rational person would say that she is a child and should be in school or the playground with her friends.

This YB has put Malaysia in the international news for the wrong reason yet again (shame, shame) …. and so soon after the Beauty and The Beast fiasco too.

We can only cringe when we imagine what the world thinks of Malaysia. This is not to say that we wouldn’t readily refute any suggestion that our beautiful country is swamped by paedophiles or nutty lawmakers who are apologists for child marriages.

So, in the end, when Parliament found itself running out of time, we will remember this meeting as one where religious issues were the main concern.

As far as I recall, at least from media reports, no one talked about how we could take advantage of our weak ringgit to get more tourists to come visit us and how we could carry this out with limited funds for international promotions. We also didn’t hear how we could boost the soft economy after two years.

Maybe financial and economic matters are just too complicated for some of these MPs, with their limited knowledge. And these are YBs we have entrusted to speak up for us. After all, we put the future of Malaysia in their hands.

by Wong chun wai On the beat The Star/ANN

Wong Chun Wai began his career as a journalist in Penang, and has served The Star for over 27 years in various capacities and 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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https://right-waystan.blogspot.my/2017/04/ybs-please-lend-us-your-ears.html

PETALING JAYA: A video of Datuk Shabudin Yahaya’s controversial statement about child marriages in Parliament has gone viral, which appears to raise questions on his claim that his remarks were taken out of context.

After coming under fire for suggesting in the Dewan Rakyat on Tues­day that it is all right for rapists to marry their child victims, the Te­­luk Gelugor MP issued a statement the next day to say that his words had been taken out of context.

In a three-page statement yesterday, Sha­budin continued to blame the media for the outcry over his re­­marks, even saying that their reports bordered on fake news.

In the Parliament recording, Sha­budin argued that it is not a pro­blem for children under 16 years old to marry as their body are phy­sically mature enough for marriage

He said a child who has reached puberty, even at nine years old, could be considered mature.

In some cases, he said, someone aged 12 and 15 could physically look like they were 18, and thus would be ready for marriage.

“In some instances, it is not im­­possible that they get married if they have reached puberty at the age of nine. A 12-year-old may have the body of an 18-year-old which means some girls are ‘physically and spiri­tually’ ready for marriage,” he said.

The former Syariah Court judge is mulling over legal action against the media.

In yesterday’s statement, Shabu­din said his remarks during the debate on the Sexual Offences Against Children Bill 2017 on Tues­day led to an unnecessary outcry after they were inaccurately interpreted in reports by both local and international news organisations.

“In their reports and headlines, both the local and international media gave the perception that I had condoned rapists being allowed to marry underage victims to avoid punishment.

“This is inaccurate and misleading and borders on fake news,” he said.

The Barisan Nasional MP said he had stressed during the debate that rape is a crime whether consensual or otherwise.

“At no point in time did I suggest that the rapists are forced to marry the victims nor did I say that the crime of rape is automatically dropped after marriage.

Shabudin explained that he had given his opinion that the courts should be allowed to rule on cases of statutory rape involving consenting partners, and treat such cases diffe­rently from non-consensual rape, as opposed to an outright ban on underage marriages.

He made the remarks in response to the suggestion by Kulai DAP MP Teo Nie Ching to include child marriage as an offence in the proposed law.

The legal age for marriage in Malaysia is 21 without parental consent, and 18 with parental consent, while the legal age of consent is 16.

However, in certain cases, those below the legal age can marry if given a special marriage licence from the head of their state government or approved by the court.

In a related development, Women, Family and Community Develop­ment Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim defended Shabudin, saying that being a former Syariah Court judge, he had encountered all these scenarios.

“He was not implying that a nine-year-old girl can get married, but rather, he was being detailed in his explanation,” Rohani told reporters at a function yesterday.

She said Shabudin has been “very supportive” of the Bill as he himself had presided over cases of sexual crimes against children.

In Ipoh, Gerakan adviser Tan Sri Chang Ko Youn urged Shabudin to do the right thing and apologise.

“What he said is outrageous. No matter what he tries to say now, the damage has already been done. He should apologise,” he said.

“Otherwise he would present himself as a subject of ridicule and be a liability to Barisan Nasional in the next general election.

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Year in review 2016 – MACC makes record haul in 49 years from top officers of Sabah Water dept


Azam Baki (L4) and other MACC officials with the cash and jewelry seized, at a press conference on Oct 5, 2016. — BBX

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) landed its biggest haul since it was set up 49 years ago when it seized RM114.5 million from two senior officers from the Sabah Water Department (SWD) in October.

In a year when MACC bared its fangs, the commission detained the director and deputy director of SWD, which is a government department.

The top officials were alleged to have misused their power in handling infrastructure projects valued at RM3.3 billion. MACC also seized some RM53.7 million in cash.

A total of 19 engineers from the department were also arrested for allegedly receiving kickbacks of between 27% and 30% of the value of SWD projects and emergency response work awarded to contractors.

Meanwhile at MACC, Datuk Dzulkifli Ahmad was appointed the new chief commissioner and took his oath of office on Aug 23.

Dzulkifli, the former national revenue recovery enforcement team director from the Attorney-General’s Chambers, succeeded Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed who stepped down as MACC chief commissioner on Aug 1 after being appointed to the Austrian-based International Anti-Corruption Academy as a board member and visiting expert.

MACC director of investigations Datuk Azam Baki was also promoted as deputy chief commissioner (operations), while its community education division director Datuk Shamshun Baharin Mohd Jamil was appointed deputy chief commissioner (prevention).

Meanwhile, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng was investigated by MACC following complaints that he had corruptly purchased a bungalow for a “below market price” of RM2.8 million.

The actual value of the bungalow that Lim bought from a businesswoman Phang Li Koon, was said to be RM4.27 million. He was arrested on June 29 and charged with corruption at the Penang High Court on June 30 but claimed trial.

Statistics revealed that the number of people arrested for corruption from January to September, this year, was 727. This is an increase from 688 in the same period last year.

Other notable corruption cases this year include:

* Jan 18: MACC arrested 14 people, including three Road Transport Department officers, to facilitate investigations into the “sale” of driving licences for between RM2,500 and RM2,800 each in Sarawak. The suspects, aged between 19 and 50, were picked up in an operation in Limbang, Miri, Bintulu and Sibu since Jan 11. They were found to be trying to obtain the licences by submitting false documents to change Brunei driving licences into Malaysian ones.

* Aug 30: The chairman of a bank with the title of “Tan Sri” was remanded for seven days until Sept 5 to assist in the investigation into misappropriation of funds in a RM15 million book publishing contract. Four others, namely the managing director of the same bank with the title of “Datuk”, the bank’s former director of procurement and two publishing company owners were released by MACC on completion of investigations. A total of seven individuals had been arrested by the MACC to assist in investigations in the case. The chairman was charged in the sessions court with criminal breach of trust.

* Sept 20: MACC detained a 55-year-old doctor and 30-year-old general clerk from a district health department for allegedly being involved in fraudulent claims amounting to RM900,000. Johor MACC director Datuk Simi Abd Ghani had stated the suspects were allegedly involved in making 59 payment vouchers for some materials, amounting to RM900,000, between 2015 and 2016. However, the materials never reached the department and the vouchers involved six services’ companies.

*Oct 10: A Datuk Seri and his accomplice were arrested by the MACC for allegedly duping a 58-year-old woman into paying RM125,000 to make changes to erroneous entries in her husband’s death certificate.

The duo had supposedly offered to assist the woman and demanded the huge sum of money from the victim. They had supposedly claimed that the funds were to pay off an officer at the National Registration Department at Putrajaya.

This year, there were a number of charges involving high ranking officers by the MACC.

They included the cases of Kuala Lumpur City Hall project management executive director Datuk Seri Syed Affendy Ali charged with 18 counts of corruption and money laundering involving RM4 million; Kota Baru Tenaga Nasional Berhad manager Arman Che Othman charged with 13 counts corruption and money laundering amounting to RM125,200; and Malacca Public Works Department director Datuk Khalid Omar charged with two counts of corruption and money laundering amounting to RM4 million.

Source: Charles Ramendran newsdesk@thesundaily.com

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Trio slapped with 34 money laundering charges involving more than RM61mil

KOTA KINABALU: A former Sabah Water Department director, his wife and his former deputy were slapped with 34 money laundering charges involving RM61.4mil in what the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission is calling the nation’s biggest graft probe so far.

The former director Ag Mohd Tahir Ag Mohd Talib, 54, was hit with 12 charges for a sum totalling RM56.9mil while his wife Fauziah Piut, 51, faced 19 similar charges involving cash and properties totalling RM2.2mil.

Ag Mohd Tahir’s former deputy Lim Lam Beng, 64, faced four charges involving property and cash totalling RM2.3mil.

All three claimed trial to the charges in the Special Corruption Court after being produced before Sessions Court judge Ummu Kalthom Abdul Samad.

Ag Mohd Tahir was the first to be charged when the hearing began at 10.15am.

Ag Mohd Tahir Ag Mohd Talib, 54 (former Sabah Water Department director) 12 charges involving RM56.9mil.

He faced eight charges of being in possession of RM56.9mil cash and in four bank accounts, two charges of owning six luxury vehicles and a charge of owning 86 types of branded watches.

He also faced another charge of being directly involved in handing over RM14,000 to an individual, Cristine Fiona M. Ponsoi.

The charges were framed under Section 4(1) (b) and Section 4(1) (a) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (AMLA).

Fauziah faced 18 charges for being in possession of more than RM2.2mil in 18 bank accounts. She was also accused of using proceeds from illegal activities to own 93 branded hand bags.

Ag Mohd Tahir and Fauziah were also jointly charged with owning 575 pieces of gold jewellery and another charge of being in possession of 376 other types of jewellery acquired through illegal means.

They were represented by counsel Hairul Vairon Othman and Ariel C. Dasan who were acting for P. J. Pareira.

Fauziah Piut, 51 (Ag Mohd Tahir’s wife) 18 charges involving RM2.2mil.

Lim, who has been suspended as state Finance Ministry advisor, who was represented by counsel Chin Teck Ming, was accused of being in possession of more than RM2.38mil that was allegedly from the proceeds of illegal activities.

Ummu Kalthom subsequently allowed Ag Mohd Tahir to be released on a RM10mil bail – one of the country’s biggest bail amounts set in the country.

She also allowed Fauziah to be released on a RM2mil bail while Lim’s bail was set at RM1mil with the case management to be heard on Feb 28.

Ummu Kalthom also ordered their travel documents to be surrendered to the court.

Lim Lam Beng, 64 (Technical and Engineering advisor, Ag Mohd Tahir’s former deputy) 4 charges involving RM2.38mil

In arguing for the RM10mil bail for Ag Mohd Tahir, Deputy Public Prosecutor of the MACC Husmamuddin Hussin said the property seizures in the case were the largest so far made by the MACC and any other enforcement agency.

The offence is related to the corrupt act by a civil servant entrusted to manage an important resource – water, Husmamuddin said.

Hairul in arguing for Ag Mohd Tahir’s bail to be fixed at RM10,000 for each charge, said bail should not be excessive to the point of penalising his clients.

By Muguntan Vanar, ruben sario, Stephanie Lee The Star

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RM2bil recovered from audits

The Government seldom receives dividends and whenever loans are given to these GLCs, they keep piling up’, says Tan Sri Ambrin Buang

KUANTAN: Government agencies have recovered an estimated RM2bil in follow-up actions after the recent audits, said Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang.

Ambrin said this was just based on a small sample size of agencies audited, so cases of misappropriated funds could have been a lot larger.

“If there had not been audits, the RM2bil would have been lost. People always ask me the extent of leakages in this country but I do not know because we only carry out audits on a limited sample size.

“For example, we did an audit on security in schools. The sample size is only 46 schools out of some 10,000 schools nationwide.

“Within that sample, there are already all kinds of weaknesses and leakages so imagine how widespread it is,” Ambrin said at an integrity talk programme here yesterday.

He said there was a feeling of hopelessness among the public when they kept reading about cases of fraud and corruption in the Auditor-General’s reports.

“There was a case where a 300m to 400m road construction contract was given to four contractors.

“Then there’s that incident at the Youth and Sports Ministry and that one at the Sabah Water Department.

“People are questioning how these things can happen and what kind of country we are living in where corruption like this can take place.

“Almost every day there are reports of government officials getting caught for corruption.

“I can’t deny there are officials with integrity but a few rotten apples destroy everything,” he said.

He also spoke about government-linked companies (GLCs) that were draining the Government’s resources without giving anything back in return.

“GLCs get all sorts of aid like projects, grants and financial assistance but what does the Government get out of it?

“The Government seldom receives dividends and whenever loans are given to these GLCs, they keep piling up.

“These GLCs burden the Government, so we must examine the cause. Those with experience should run a company but look at who are on the board of directors.

“I am sorry to say government officials cannot succeed in business because they have a different mindset,” he said.

Ambrin added that management could not be left as the dominant force without the supervision of the board of directors, but this would not be effective if the directors themselves did not contribute anything.

In his conclusion, Ambrin proposed that excellent work be made a culture in government service to repair the damaged public perception.

To achieve it, he said four aspects had to be looked into, which were attitude, skills, knowledge and integrity.

“Continuous improvement is humanly possible to achieve. The question is whether we want to improve or not,” he said.

By Ong Han Sean The Star/Asian News Network

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Perak Ruler warns against corruption committed by high-ranking individuals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Source: The Star/ANN

Graft probe in Sabah almost done

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

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

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

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

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

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

MACC also recorded statements from 200 witnesses, Azam added.

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Ruben Sario The Star/ANN

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