DAP’s ‘king vs king’ strategy will rob the community of the worthy talents


GE14 will be about race, warn analysts |

‘The outcome of such a strategy will deprive the Chinese community of some good politicians’ – Tan Sri Pheng Yin Huah

Leaders against rocking the boat

This Saturday’s nomination day, DAP is facing increa­sing pressure from Chinese so­­cie­ty to drop its strategy to jiao mie (wipe out) outstanding Chinese lea­ders within the Barisan Nasional.

In the past two weeks, several Chinese guilds – which claim to be apolitical – have come out openly to oppose this DAP stunt which will see the DAP fielding its strong candidates against leading Chinese po­­liticians from Barisan’s MCA and Gerakan.

Many commentators within the community have also published their views in Chinese media ­ar­­guing against the DAP plan.

Most Chinese newspapers have also voiced their stand against this strategy.

In essence, many see this “king versus king” plan advocated by DAP as wiping out the limited number of outstanding political talents within the community.

Whoever wins or loses in the election, the Chinese community will lose a talent and the ultimate loser is the community, they argue.

The decision by DAP to transfer its political strategist Liew Chin Tong from Kluang to the Ayer Hitam parliamentary seat to collide head-on with MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Seong has not been well received from the start.

Neither is the move to send Perak DAP chief Nga Kor Ming from Taiping to Teluk Intan to rock the parliamentary seat held by Gerakan president Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong.

Among the Chinese associations that have made their opposing stand known are the Federation of Chinese Guilds in Malaysia (Hua Zong), the normally low-profile Federation of Kwang Xi clans and the Federation of Heng Hua clans.

Hua Zong’s president Tan Sri Pheng Yin Huah tells The Star: “We cannot interfere with DAP politics, but as a community leader I hope DAP can consider our views to change this election strategy.

“The outcome of such a strategy will deprive the Chinese community of some good politicians – ­whe­ther they are from Barisan or Opposition, and this is a loss to the community.”

Last Monday, Pheng issued a media statement to this effect. But in response, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng alleged that Hua Zong was an “external organisation” of MCA.

Lim, in justifying the DAP strategy, said it would help the Opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan to win more parliament seats so as to take over Putrajaya to rule the country.

It appears that DAP is unlikely to change this unpopular strategy.

While Lim can ignore Pheng and the other Chinese community lea­ders who are not voters in Ayer Hitam and Teluk Intan, he should listen to the voices on the ground.

A professional in Ayer Hitam, who was my high school classmate in Batu Pahat, told me in my recent trip down south: “I normally support the Opposition, but this time I am going to vote for Wee Ka Siong.

“He is a good minister and has done so much work for the people. Everybody here can see.”

His feelings are shared by my other former Batu Pahat high school friends.

Prominent commentator Tang Ah Chai, who is normally more pro-Opposition in his analysis, has warned DAP to handle the discontent from Chinese society with caution to avoid backlash in the coming election.

“The Chinese community is worried that if there is little or no re­pre­sentation in government, their aspirations and voice cannot be effectively channelled to the top and their interest will be undermined. They experienced this when MCA did not join the Cabinet,” Tang commented last Friday.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has warned that there will be a cut in the number of Chinese ministers, in the event Barisan wins the election, if Chinese support for MCA and Gerakan dwindles.

While Pheng does not expect Lim to change DAP’s strategy, which has also been employed in Sarawak, other leaders hope Lim can turn a page on DAP history.

“Look at what happened in 1982 when Seremban sent a strong ­message that voters wanted MCA leader to stay on,” said one.

In the 1982 general election, in response to a taunt by DAP to contest in a Chinese-majority area, the then MCA president Tan Sri Lee San Choon contested in Seremban to face DAP chairman Dr Chen Man Hin, who had held that parliamentary seat since 1969.

Not only did Lee win in the battle, MCA scored a landslide victory – winning 24 out of 28 parliamentary seats and 55 out of 62 state seats it contested.

DAP was nearly wiped out in that general election.

One of Lee’s projects that have benefited many Chinese is TAR College to expand tertiary education opportunities for the Chinese at the time.

While the 1982 election has come to pass, the sentiment of Chinese against “king versus king” is still present.

by Ho Wah Foo The Star

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Penang Tunnel project to be scrapped, flood mitigation plans among BN manifesto


 

‘Tunnel project to be scrapped’

BUTTERWORTH: Six pledges and 60 initiatives – that’s what the Barisan Nasional will be armed with as it attempts to wrest Penang from the clasp of the Opposition.

In its “Save Penang” manifesto launched yesterday, the coalition listed resolving flooding, overcoming traffic congestion and halting hillside development as the top priorities.

State Barisan chairman Teng Chang Yeow said if it regained power in the state, the controversial undersea tunnel project to link the island to the mainland would be scrapped.

He said further land reclamation at Permatang Damar Laut and Gurney Drive would also be barred.

Teng also announced that areas 76m above sea-level would be declared permanent forest reserves to protect the hills.

On flooding, he said the Barisan would resolve the problem within three-and-a-half years, by installing water pumps and floodgates and implementing a Penang Flood Mitigation Plan.

Another priority was to build 65,000 affordable houses within five years, introduce rent-to-own housing scheme, set the price of a low-cost home to RM40,000 (including a free carpark) and between RM80,000 and RM120,000 for medium-cost units (including free carpark).

The other priorities were listed as economic development, people’s welfare, and tourism and heritage.

Among others, the Barisan pledged to remove toll charges for motorcycles, abolish the water surcharge, provide a special fund of RM2,000 to couples who tie the knot for the first time, provide school bus subsidy to eligible families, provide free parking at council roadsides and residential areas, and allocate RM15mil annually for national-type, religious and private Chinese schools.

The Barisan also pledged to abolish postage charges and other charges for bill payments, provide free water to hardcore poor, reintroduce traffic wardens in school areas, and not to increase water tariff for residential areas within five years.

Thousands of Barisan leaders and members who attended the launch cheered when Teng fired salvos at the DAP-led state government, claiming its leaders made 51 false promises over the last 10 years.

Also present were state Umno chairman Datuk Seri Zainal Abidin Osman, state MCA chairman Datuk Tan Teik Cheng, state MIC deputy chairman Datuk M. Nyanasegaran and leaders of Barisan-friendly parties.

Teng (middle) getting waves of support as he launches the Penang Barisan Nasional manifesto at The Light Hotel in Seberang Jaya, Penang. With him are Penang Umno liaison committee chairman Datuk Seri Zainal Abidin Osman (on Teng’s right) and Penang MCA chairman Datuk Tan Teik Cheng. — Photos: ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star
Teng (middle) getting waves of support as he launches the Penang Barisan Nasional manifesto at The Light Hotel in Seberang Jaya, Penang. With him are Penang Umno liaison committee chairman Datuk Seri Zainal Abidin Osman (on Teng’s right) and Penang MCA chairman Datuk Tan Teik Cheng. — Photos: ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

Flood Mitigation plans among BN manifesto

BARISAN Nasional will get allocation from the Federal Government to alleviate flooding woes in Penang within three and a half years if it secures the mandate from the people.

Penang Barisan chairman Teng Chang Yeow, a former state exco member, said detailed infographics would be required to come up with an action plan as well as a drainage masterplan to resolve the problem.

“We have experience in formulating flood mitigation plans in the past.

“From there, we will take the matter up to the Federal Government to negotiate for the amount of funds needed.

“We also have an emergency manual outlining standard operating procedures for a state to manage when struck by floods, and this goes in tandem with the Federal  Government’s guidelines to create a clear chain of command. “We noticed that in recent years, places in Penang that had never been flooded suddenly experienced floods.

“This is due to poor planning, lack of drainage and failure to identify hotspots.

“The people have suffered because of poor coordination and help could not reach them in time,” he said at a press conference after unveiling Barisan’s manifesto at a hotel in Seberang Jaya.

Commenting on the pledge for 50% of Penang island city councillors and Seberang Prai municipal councillors to be appointed from independent bodies, he said the  representatives could join the planning committee to give their ideas.

Teng said that although landowners had the right to plan projects, those staying next door could voice their views including objecting to the projects if they were affected.

“But today, planners are not planning.

“Instead, politicians are doing the planning,” he said.

Teng said planning should be left to planners with expertise while politicians should only make policies.

‘Can fulfil promises’

Teng: Penang will receive more allocation if voted into power

 

//players.brightcove.net/4405352761001/default_default/index.html?videoId=5770690231001

DESPITE being an Opposition state, Penang has received RM2.08bil as allocation from the Federal Government between 2013 and 2017.

Penang Barisan Nasional chairman Teng Chang Yeow said the amount was the highest among the northern states.

He said Kedah received RM1.76bil followed by Perak (RM1.25bil) and Perlis (RM360mil) during the same period.

“We can fulfil all our promises in the manifesto. The state will receive more allocation if we win the state from Pakatan Harapan,” he told reporters after launching the Penang Barisan manifesto at a hotel in Seberang Jaya yesterday.

Asked why the monorail and LRT projects which were in the 2013 manifesto were missing from the present one, Teng said the people in the state had rejected both projects as Penang Barisan was not voted into power then.

“However, we are open to consultation with the people and those from the civil movements to revive such projects if we are voted into power in the upcoming general election,” he said.

On another matter, Teng said Penang never had it easy during the 22-year tenure of former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“Penang was bypassed most of the time when it came to development projects.

“It was difficult for then Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon to get allocation for projects in Penang as the funds would not come.

“Dr Mahathir, for reasons best known to himself, did not allocate sufficient funds for Penang and most of the time we were bypassed,” said Teng, who was once a state executive councillor.

Click to view details

 

– By K. Suthakar, Lo Tern Chern, and R. Sekaran, The Star

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Barisan Nasional Youth volunteers posing for a group photo at the recent Penang Barisan Nasional manifesto launching ceremony at The Light Hotel in Seberang Jaya, Penang. — Photos: ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star
Barisan Nasional Youth volunteers posing for a group photo at the recent Penang Barisan Nasional manifesto launching ceremony at The Light Hotel in Seberang Jaya, Penang. — Photos: ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

 

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Malay & bumiputra rural voters will determine the winners or losers of coming Malaysia’s GE14


Down the wire with the Malays

– With urbanites caught up in social media debates, it will be the quiet rural folks who determine the winners (and losers) of GE14

IF you haven’t already heard this one before, it will be the Malay and bumiputra voters, mainly in rural areas, who will determine what the next government looks like.

Despite the racket from urbanites, be it in private discussions or from the many irate postings on social media, it will come down to the relatively quiet rural folks who make up the decisive voices.

Out of the 222 parliamentary seats, there are now 117 rural Malay seats in Peninsular Malaysia, following the delineation exercise – up from the previous 114 Malay majority seats in the previous general election. There are 19 seats each in Sabah and Sarawak, with predominantly bumiputra voters.

These 117 seats include the 52 constituencies in Felda settlements regarded the heartland of the Malays, where the primary concerns are racial and religious in nature.

Another election monitoring group, Tindak Malaysia, reportedly estimated the Malay majority seats at 115 – up one seat from the previous 114, before the delineation.

To form the government, all that’s needed is a simple majority of 112 seats. Prior to the dissolution of Parliament, the Barisan Nasional had 130.

Donald Trump won the United States presidency firmly backed by the rural areas, and not from that of New York, Los Angeles or Washington DC. In fact, he lost the popular vote by a bigger margin than any other US president in history, but he won, via the country’s electoral system, which saw each state assigned several votes that go to the candidate who wins the public vote in that state.

His Republican party won in what is regarded as swing states, such as North Carolina and Ohio, with huge rural votes. In fact, he won 67% of the rural American votes.

In Malaysia, our voting system is much simpler with its “first past the post” format, based after the British electoral system. Again, popular votes don’t count. But like in the United States, it will be the rural folks who will be the determinants. In Malaysia, it won’t be the traditionally anti-establishment Chinese voters in cities.

In the 2013 elections, there were 30 Chinese majority seats or 13.5% of the parliamentary seats, according to a recent news report, quoting social media analytics firm Politweet.

“The proportion of ethnic Chinese voters in these seats ranged from 52.27% (Beruas) to as high as 90.94% in Bandar Kuching.

“These seats can be found in Penang (7), Perak (5), Kuala Lumpur (5), Selangor (1), Melaka (1), Johor (3), Sarawak (6) and Sabah (2),” it said. From the 30 Chinese majority seats, the DAP won 29 and PKR one.

But Tindak Malaysia has claimed that the number of Chinese majority seats has dropped to 24. There is also another stark fact; even without the delineation exercise, the number of Chinese voters has continued to shrink sharply.

According to Malay Mail Online, despite blaming Chinese voters for the decline in votes for Barisan, they, in fact, only formed about four million of the total 13.3 million registered voters. It quoted Politweet founder Ahmed Kamal Nava as saying that the Chinese vote “is going to become less relevant to both Barisan/Pakatan Harapan over time because the Chinese majority seats are going to become mixed seats and eventually, Malay majority seats”.

The report also said that a comparison between the GE13 electoral roll and the electoral roll for 2017’s first quarter showed that the Chinese voters’ projection has already fallen by over one percentage point in seven states and in 79 of the 165 seats in the peninsula.

Going by current trends, the projection is that the number of non-Malays will continue to drop further, with some saying that by 2050, there could be 80% bumiputras and just 15% Chinese and about 5% Indians.

In 2014, 75.5% from the live birth total were bumiputras, followed by Chinese, at only 14% with Indians 4.5%, and others 6%.

Based on calculations, the Chinese birth rate at 1.4 babies per family in 2015 from 7.4% in 1957 means that their position in Malaysia will fall from 24.6% in 2010, 21.4% in 2015 to 18.4% or less in 2040.

In the 2013 elections, realising that it is the majority Malay votes that will tip the scale, the DAP readily tied up with PAS, hoping they would be able to capture Putrajaya. The DAP aggressively pushed the Chinese to vote for PAS, and many did willingly, but the pact failed to materialise. PAS paid a heavy price for sleeping with the enemy, because the rural Malays simply couldn’t accept the Rocket.

A random survey on PAS’ core voter base – rural Malays – by online portal FMT, found that many viewed its alliance with the “kafir” party DAP suspiciously.

PAS emerged a major loser in the 13th general election, managing to grab only 21 of the 73 parliamentary seats it contested. It even lost Kedah. In the 2008 polls, it secured 23 parliamentary seats.

PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang must have found his dabbling with danger a painful one. It didn’t help that the relationship between the DAP and PAS had soured following the elections.

Fast forward to 2018. The DAP, again, is explicitly aware the Chinese cannot hope to dump Umno without the Malays, so a new pact with PKR, Parti Pribumi Malaysia and Parti Amanah Negara has been forged.

It is even prepared to drop its iconic Rocket symbol, its organising secretary Anthony Loke admitting the Malays are wary of it.

The test now is whether the Malays in the rural areas will accept the idea of having Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Lim Kit Siang, whom the former had demonised the past 30 years of his political life, as emblems of a party taking care of their interest.

If no Malay tsunami materialises, and if the Chinese, again, place their chips on the Opposition – which seems to be the sentiment currently in urban areas – then, it will be the third consecutive elections in which the Chinese would have bet on the losing side.

The implications will be far-reaching for the community, especially if the Chinese representation in the government is weakened or non-existent when it involves legislation with religious overtones. It will also mean the possibility of being cut off from the mainstream involvement in crucial policy making and areas of development.

More so with whispers of a tie up between Umno and PAS, in some form, after the general election.

If the Barisan continues to get the mandate, as expected, DAP could end up occupying the biggest seats on the opposition bench since the rest of the Malay parties are generally untested, with PKR the exception.

Not many city folk, with the rising political temperature, want to hear or accept that this is simply a fight in the rural Malay heartland. Reality check: it will be the Malays and bumiputras who will have our fate in their hands.


By Wong Chun Wai, who 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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Datuk Shafie Apdal nabbed in MACC investigation


KOTA KINABALU: Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal has been arrested, a day before his 60th birthday and after nearly four hours of questioning by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

Shafie, who was arrested at 9pm yesterday, is expected to be taken to the Kota Kinabalu High Court to be remanded today. MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki confirmed the arrest.

The Parti Warisan Sabah president arrived at the MACC office at about 5.15pm yesterday, after flying in from Kuala Lumpur, to be questioned over projects implemented during his watch as Rural and Regional Development Minister between 2009 and 2015.

In a white shirt, Shafie Apdal was accompanied by his wife Datin Seri Shuryani Shuaib; Warisan vice-president Datuk Peter Anthony who was detained earlier and released on bail; and their lawyers Martin Tommy and Loretto Padua.

Before he left for the MACC office, Shafie told reporters at his Taman Gold View home: “We are willing to facilitate and when they called me, I flew back from Kuala Lumpur.

“It’s a process of law and we need to give our cooperation. We are not going to obstruct and I know that MACC is just doing its job.”

He also said that he was saddened by the detention of his two siblings – Hamid and Yusof – in the investigation but reiterated that MACC was just doing its job.

Urging his supporters to remain calm and to continue the party’s work, Shafie and a relative led a short prayer before heading to the MACC office.

Earlier, a crowd of supporters gathered at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport to greet him.

Later, Shafie was taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital for overnight observation for having high blood pressure, said his lawyer and Warisan deputy president Darell Leiking.

MACC has so far arrested 10 people, including Shafie’s brothers, his nephew Warisan Youth chief Azis Jamman, Peter, Tenom Umno Youth chief Jamawi Jaafar and his Tawau counterpart Ariffin Kassim, Warisan media representative Armarjit Singh, Hamid’s son-in-law Manzur Hussein Awal Khan, a 52-year-old local contractor and a 40-year-old senior civil servant in Putrajaya, over the case.

Hamid, who was warded at Damai Specialist Hospital for health problems since Sunday has been released on MACC bail.

Magistrate Stephanie Sherron Abbie, granted Hamid bail at RM50,000 in two sureties.

MACC prosecuting officer Mohd Faliq Basirudin said Hamid’s remand was supposed to only end today but he was released earlier because the investigation on him was complete.

Stephanie went to Gleneagles Hospital later, for the release of Manzur, 37, who is also warded over health issues.

He was granted bail at RM30,000 in two sureties and ordered to report once a month to the MACC office.

Yusof is still in MACC custody.

 Source: by stephanie leeruben sario The Star





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1MDB business model relied on debt to form capital is not sustainable


PETALING JAYA: 1MDB was unsustainable from the start, relying heavily on financial assistance to stay afloat.

The PAC observed that 1MDB’s capital financing structure and financial performance were both unsatisfactory.

“1MDB relied on debt (bank loans, bonds and sukuk) to form its capital, a chunk of which had been sanctioned or supported by the Government.

“Initially, the debt stood at RM5bil in 2009, and went up to RM42bil, compared to its assets of RM51bil in the financial year ending March 31, 2014, and it spent RM2.4bil to pay off interests.

“In January 2016, its debt was RM50bil, compared to its assets of RM53bil, where 1MDB spent RM3.3bil to pay off interests between April 1, 2013, and March 31, 2015,” said the report.

The PAC report also stated that 1MDB had paid RM3.3bil in interests on the loans it took from April 1, 2014, to March 31, 2015, which 1MDB said had yet to be audited.

“It is obvious that the debt amount and repayment of interest are too high compared to the company’s cash flow,” said the committee.

1MDB had also heavily relied on the refinancing exercise to settle matured debts and take new loans, which were used to settle interests on previous loans, among others.

The PAC report also found that 1MDB began facing an imbalance in cash flow in November 2014, five years after it started operations.

“The management and board of directors relied on the Initial Public Offerings (IPO) of Edra Energy Berhad to generate funds, but the IPO could not be carried out,” said PAC.

In the same month that year, 1MDB announced its first loss of RM665mil, resulting in its inability to pay off its almost matu­ring debts which stood at RM2bil, through its refinancing exercise.

“The company’s business model is overly dependent on loans and this caused a burden on the company as it did not have enough income to sustain operational costs and pay off its loans,” read the report.

The PAC also said that as a state investment arm, 1MDB should have focused on best practices, and raised examples of weaknesses in its administration.

“For instance, the board of directors was too dependent and often accepted explanations by the management without delving into the details.

“Indeed 1MDB’s experience is a lesson to all government-linked corporations on the importance of effective administration and integrity,” said the committee. – The Star/ANN

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Let there be a better year ahead


It’s not been a year to shout about with a litany of woes plaguing the country and much of the world. But as 2015 comes to an end, it’s time to count of blessings and hope for better times ahead.

IT feels like only days ago that we were wishing everyone a Happy New Year and suddenly it’s time for Merry Christmas. But between Happy and Merry, there has been little joy, has there?

It’s not been a year to look back upon with much fondness.

The ringgit is down, oil prices are down, the economy is down, and many of the people are feeling down, too. And it’s not just in Malaysia. Throughout much of Asia and many countries around the world, it has not been good news.

For us, there was the GST, an all-encompassing tax that has had many people grumbling.

But it brought a hitherto little-known Customs officer to fame. Datuk Subromaniam Tholasy was the face of the tax as the GST director and the man truly believes that this value-added tax is the way to go for the country.

Thus, he worked very hard for it despite the many brickbats. But it was not without its problems. There was the on-off-and-on again prepaid phone card tax problems.

The latest to make the rounds is the supposed GST on tolls. It has been clarified that GST will be charged on the 50sen service charge on Touch ‘N Go top-ups. So, it’s now 53 sen.

Tolls rates may go up soon. And the electricity tariff, too. It’s not going to get lighter on the pocket anytime soon.

Politically, it’s been a problematic year. Almost all parties are in turmoil. The 1MDB controversy and a RM2.6bil donation haunted Umno and saw the Deputy Prime Minister being ousted, only the second time that this has happened in the country. The first deputy prime minister to be ousted was also in the news – he has been sent to jail.

The man who first ousted a deputy, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, is also in the news. He wants to oust the current Prime Minister who ousted his deputy. It’s a merry-go-round that’s not so merry. This intense bickering is something that will go down in history.

Talking of history, Tan Sri Wong Pow Nee has been left out of the history books. This man was a true leader. I remember meeting him as a boy when he was the first Chief Minister of Penang. He came over to where the children were, patted them on their heads and told them all to study hard – and he spoke in Tamil! The man was a linguist and one who truly cared for all.

Great man: Wong was the first chief minister of Penang.

The first chief minister of Penang and a member of the Cobbold Commission that first drew up a working Constitution has been ignored in our history books. The reason? They didn’t want too many figures from the peninsula in the books, and wanted to balance the numbers with those in Sabah and Sarawak.

It makes no sense to me. History is history, it’s not a Maths lesson on the law of probabilities. MCA and MIC leaders were there at the birth of the nation and deserve to be recognised. The MCA is now fighting hard to have Wong, who made the declaration of Independence in Penang, recognised as one of the leaders involved in the early years of the nation.

The MIC is also, well … fighting. Why they are fighting is hard to figure out as there are two factions, each claiming to be the rightful leadership.

It’s not just the Barisan Nasional. Things are even stranger on the other side. PKR is working with PAS to ensure the Selangor government is not rocked although PAS leaders are getting friendlier and friendlier with PKR’s arch-enemy Umno. DAP is at loggerheaders with PAS but works with PKR, again to ensure the Selangor government is not shaken.

In Penang, DAP has no time for PAS and PKR leaders are not happy with DAP. It’s a bit confusing. The ongoing rapid development is not helping things either.

Penangites love the island as it is, with as little change as possible. After all, the people are the living heritage of the place. I should know – I am a Penangite myself.

Elsewhere, too, there has been much misery. The two great Penangite sporting Datuks – Nicol David and Lee Chong Wei – have had a forgettable year.

Nicol is no longer the invincible girl she once was and has dropped out of the world No 1 ranking while Chong Wei was embroiled in a doping scandal, and spent the early half of the year serving out a suspension.

His return wasn’t remarkable and after some spectacular flops, he is finally picking himself up and could bring us all good news next year.

And never rule Nicol out. That lass has it in her to come back fighting every time she falls.

So, while much of the major news has been bad, it is the little people who have delivered the good news – those who continued feeding the poor even when the authorities wanted to ban them and throw the homeless into “reservations”, those who continue to teach the needy in the streets and in their homes and those who reach out to help regardless of age, race and religion.

And the year also saw the advent of G25, a moderate movement to stem the tide of extremism. Racial ties have not been at their best with some loud-mouthed leaders but the common folk are the ones rallying together.

The education system has again been called into question with several flip-flop decisions on English and the deaths of five orang asli children in Pos Tohoi. But even out of that came heroes who cared for the rural folk, the poor and the indigenous.

These are the people who we can depend on to keep the country intact – the way it was intended to be by our founding fathers.

Let’s hope the new year brings up better tidings, even if it is the common man who has to deliver them.

Why not?  By Dorairaj Nadason  – The writer, who can be reached at raj@thestar.com.my, wishes all readers Salam Maulidur Rasul, Merry Christmas and, yes, a Happy New Year once again.

1MDB probe gains momentum, a sensitive time for PM and Umno


PETALING JAYA: The probe into claims that funds  were channelled into the personal accounts of Prime Minister Datuk Seri
Najib Tun Razak heated up when the task force investigating the matter froze six bank accounts and said it was looking into 17 others.The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) meanwhile revealed documents that it claimed were the basis of its controversial story.

The freeze on the six accounts was issued on Monday, according to a statement issued jointly by Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, Bank Negara Malaysia governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief commissioner Tan Sri Abu Kassim
Mohamed.

“Several documents over the issue of non-compliance with Bank Negara’s rules and procedures have also been seized,” it read.

“As the investigations are still under way, we appeal to all parties to give their fullest cooperation to complete the probe.”

It is learnt that the 17 accounts belonged to various companies and individuals.

While neither the banks involved nor the holders of the accounts were named, several portals claimed they had received confirmation that three of the accounts belonged to Najib.

Hours after the statement was released, WSJ uploaded nine documents on its claim that US$700mil (RM2.6bil) were channelled into three personal accounts of Najib.

The nine documents comprised three flow charts, three remittance forms, two credit transfer notices and a letter of authorisation by Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil, the former chief investment officer of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

However, Najib’s name appeared only in the flow charts. It was not in any of the banking documents in which the last few digits of the account numbers were blanked out.

A banker said it was normal that entire bank account numbers were not made public for fear that the accounts could be hacked.

“What is important is the codes in the documents are correct,” said the banker.

The charts detail funds flowing from SRC International Sdn Bhd, a company that used to be under 1MDB but was subsequently taken over by the Finance Ministry in 2012, into personal accounts supposedly belonging to Najib.

According to the charts, the funds flowed into AmPrivate Banking in AmBank Islamic and the beneficiary, it claimed, was Najib.

Based on one chart, the funds flowed out of SRC International’s account in AmBank Islamic into Gandingan Mentari Sdn Bhd, also in Ambank
Islamic.

Subsequently, the money was transferred to Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd, whose account is in Affin Bank. From there, the funds were moved to AmPrivate Banking in AmBank Islamic.

There were three accounts under AmPrivate Banking in AmBank Islamic supposedly belonging to Najib. The last few digits of the accounts were blanked out.

The Prime Minister’s name was not to be found in any remittance transfer forms from Affin Bank to AmBank Islamic.

The total amount transferred from Affin Bank to AmBank Islamic was RM42mil and the transactions were done in three tranches.

There were two transactions on Dec 26, 2014 and one on Feb 9, 2015. The reasons for the transfer of funds by Ihsan Perdana to the AmPrivate Banking account were stated as CSR programmes.

Najib’s name is also not visible in the two credit transfer notices from Wells Fargo Bank in the United States to the AmPrivate Banking account under AmBank Islamic.

But a banker said it was normal for the beneficiary’s name to be left out of remittance forms or credit transfer notices.

“The identity of the beneficiary does not need to appear if it is a familiar name. The banks only need the necessary codes and account numbers,” said the banker.

The funds from Well Fargo amounted to US$681mil and were transferred in two tranches, on March 21 and March 25, 2013, according to the documents.

The transaction order came from Tanore Finance Corp in British Virgin Island. The funds were transferred to AmPrivate Banking account in AmBank                                                Islamic under the Swift Output Code of Single Customer Credit Transfer.

“A Single Customer Credit Transfer means the account is held by an individual,” said the banker. – The Star

Sensitive time for PM and Umno

DATUK Seri Najib Tun Razak has been out and about every day since the start of the fasting month.

He has been seen at a number of Ramadan bazaars, he has been the VIP guest at various buka puasa functions and he has joined the congregation for evening prayers after the breaking of fast.

The fasting month is a test for all Muslims and even more so for the Prime Minister given the issues surrounding him.

The 1MDB issue has snowballed into a political monster for his administration and he is fighting what could be the biggest battle of his political career.

Allegations in The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) that billions of ringgit went into what is believed to be his personal bank account are still reverberating among the financial and political circles.

Najib has responded to the report, calling it wild allegations and insisting that he has never taken funds for personal gain. It was not quite the explanation or answer that people were expecting and it has raised more questions than provided answers.

But many in Umno are prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt even though they are unsure what to make of it.

Najib has a lot of support in his party and up until the recent allegations, he was said to have won over some 75% of the 191 Umno division heads.

They want to rally around him but they need clear answers in order to defend him.

Najib has made it very clear that he intends to sue WSJ and his lawyers are preparing a case to be filed soon against Dow Jones, the publisher of WSJ, in the United States. That is the way to go to clear his name.

The pressure mounted yesterday when four of the country’s top regulators and law enforcers issued a joint statement, saying that the special task force probing 1MDB had frozen six bank accounts related to the case.

The affected bank accounts were not identified but the signatories comprised the Attorney-General, Bank Negara Governor, Inspector-General of Police and the MACC chief.

It was unprecedented and it was a sign that the investigations had become more serious and complicated. The snowball has grown bigger.

Najib’s deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has added to the pressure. He had asked the authorities to look into the WSJ allegations and Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal has joined in.

Their move confirms the political divide in the party that the Umno crowd has been talking about.

Umno politicians also noticed that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has been rather restrained after months of relentless attacks and it could mean two things.

One, he feels that he has achieved his desired objective – he has got Najib up against the wall.

Two, Dr Mahathir might have realised that in his determination to remove the head of the house, the entire house may come down too.

His campaign against Pak Lah contributed to the 2008 political tsunami and his attacks against Najib has damaged Umno even more.

A group of Umno supreme council members met Najib at his official residence on Sunday night. It was very hush-hush and none of those who attended picked up or returned the calls of reporters, let alone spoke about what transpired.

The speculation is that the meeting was probably not about declaring support for the boss, otherwise they would not be so secretive.

The group was there to seek answers about what Najib plans to do and where he intends to go from here. This is a very sensitive time for Umno and especially for Muhyiddin. He played a leading role in Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s exit and he is again in the spotlight.

It is doubly sensitive for Muhyiddin this time around because he is an interested party.

Muhyiddin is being extra cautious because he understands the powers of incumbency and is aware of what the Prime Minister could do to those who are not with him.

Moreover, Najib’s tentacles in the party go back a long way and whoever wants to take him on has to consider the repercussions from his hardcore supporters.


By Joceline  Tan Analysis The Star

Related stories:

Go out and explain 1MDB issue, Umno leaders told

Umno lawyers preparing lawsuit against WSJ

Call to probe how WSJ obtained private banking documents

Opposition Members of Parliament call for snap polls
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