- RM6 billion for 6 Offshore Patrol Vessels - Deal?
- Malaysia is "Tanah Melayu"?
- Pakatan 100-Day Reforms
- Penang Port to be Privatised?
Posted: 07 Feb 2011 06:57 AM PST
Defence Minister Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi announced the order for 6 units of offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) for the amount of RM6 billion from Boustead Naval Shipyard Sdn Bhd two days ago.
While it is understood that the price is yet to be "finalised", it brings to questions the practice by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to award contracts well before the terms of the contract, including the price, have been finalised. Last year, MoD awarded another RM8 billion contract to purchase 257 8x8 Armoured-Wheeled Vehicles (AWVs) from a DRB-Hicom subsidiary when the latter has not even built a prototype vehicle for testing. These contracts were also awarded with no competitive bids which raise the likelihood of massive leakages in the process.
What is the point of making major announcements on such awards, including the value of the contracts when the Government will subsequently explain that "everything is still subject to finalisation of specifications and negotiations on price"? In that case, isn't it better to finalise the specifications, conclude the price before the relevant announcements?
A cursory check on the prices of OPVs revealed a wide range in prices per ship. The Royal New Zealand Navy (RNZN) took delivery of its 85-metres 1,500 tonnes OPVs from world-renown global defence and security company, BAE Systems last year at the cost of NZ$90 million each or approximately RM210 million. The OPVs were built for maritime counter-terrorism, surveillance and reconnaissance, surface contact detection, apprehension and escort of vessels as well as maritime search And rescue (SAR).
The Irish Roisin class will cost US$34 million (RM103m), the Greek Super Vita US$108 million (RM329m), the German Type 130 US$188 million (RM572m) and the Israeli Saar V US$260 million (RM791m) each. The MoD's price tag of RM1 billion per OPV is between 26% and 870% above the cost of the various international-class OPVs listed above.
Even at the very top of the range, ships were to be built by Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics, two of the best and biggest military companies in the world were to build the US "Littoral Combat Ships (LCS)" at a budget of less than US$300 million (RM913m) in 2004. These ships are sized at 115 metres and 3,000 tonnes and fully equipped for full-scale anti-mine warfare, anti-submarine warfare as well as surface warfare. The ships will even have helicopter hangers built on its deck and equipped with the most sophisticated combat data weapons system.
The obvious question then, is whether the Government is procuring the construction of OPVs nearer the Irish Roisin class or closer to the US LCS? And if we are indeed making an order for the best-in-class LCS type ships capable of fighting a full scale surface and submarine warfare, does Boustead even have the skills and technology to make these ships?
Finally, it should be noted that even the most advanced defence countries in the world such as the United States procure military construction and defence equipment via competitive bids, open to world class international companies from Canada, Australia and Europe to achieve the best value for its money. In addition, the defence budget and expenditure is not only monitored by the Congressional Committee on Defence, it is also the approving authority for specific budgets for weapons related development including the LCS.
The MoD must practise increased transparency and professionalism in its award of contracts to ensure that the interest of the rakyat are fully protected and money taxed from the people are not wasted on over-priced projects. Otherwise, the call by the BN government for the people to absorb subsidy cuts on basic goods and services to rein in the widening budget deficit only smacks of hypocrisy.
Posted: 06 Feb 2011 10:04 PM PST
Pakatan wants Najib's reply to Dr M's Tanah Melayu remarks
By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal February 04, 2011
In a speech on Tuesday, Dr Mahathir told Malaysians to admit that the country belonged to the Malays and that they had to accept the culture and language of the dominant community. The former prime minister said that the country's forefathers gave the Chinese and Indians citizenship because they expected the communities to respect Malay sovereignty.
"This country belongs to the Malay race. Peninsular Malaysia was known as Tanah Melayu but this cannot be said because it will be considered racist. We must be sincere and accept that the country is Tanah Melayu," he said.
DAP national publicity secretary Tony Pua called Dr Mahathir's views "supremacist", saying there were no provisions in the Federal Constitution which supported Dr Mahahir's views.
"Najib and Mahathir should perhaps enlighten Malaysians where Mahathir's supremacist concept is found in the Federal Constitution as designed by our forefathers. Najib will also have to explain how his 1 Malaysia fits into Mahathir's scheme of things," Pua told The Malaysian Insider.
According to another DAP leader, Lim Kit Siang, Dr Mahathir was "contradicting" himself as his remarks went against not only the 1 Malaysia concept, but also the "Bangsa Malaysia" concept bandied around during the Mahathir administration.
"What he said was full of contradictions... it contradicts his (Dr Mahathir's) own Bangsa Malaysia concept and 1 Malaysia.
"The aim for Vision 2020 was to create a Malaysia full of people committed to the nation, all races working together on the same platform," the DAP parliamentary leader told The Malaysian Insider.
Click here for the full article.
Posted: 26 Dec 2010 10:07 PM PST
For Pakatan, '100 day' reforms weapon to counter Najib's popularity
By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal December 26, 2010
KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 26 — Pakatan Rakyat (PR) is hoping to counter Datuk Seri Najib Razak's high approval ratings by touting the merits of its "100 day" reform agenda which promise more money for civil servants and repealing repressive laws.
They also intend to utilise the successes of two PR states, Penang and Selangor, as fodder for the counter-offensive campaign against the prime minister's approval ratings which stood at 69 per cent this month among voters in peninsular Malaysia, slipping slightly from 72 per cent in May.
The Merdeka Centre poll showed that 74 per cent of Malays, 54 per cent of Chinese and 85 per cent of Indians were satisfied with the prime minister's performance, in a major boost for Najib as he mulls the possibility of snap polls.
"It is important for us to be able to demonstrate to voters that we are able to function as an effective coalition. The only way to do that is for the voters to see substance in our policies," said DAP National Publicity Secretary Tony Pua, citing the need to highlight successes in Penang and Selangor as an example.
Pua told The Malaysian Insider that Najib's high ratings as an individual could be "challenged" if PR could convince voters that it could deliver results as a cohesive unit, and just through the actions of a single individual.
"We need to push our reform policies inked out during last week's convention, and we need to back it up with our successes in the state administration. Penang is doing well, it's getting investments, corruption-free, people are getting bonuses, its these sort of ideas that need to be carried across the board.
"We also have to continue to chip at the programmes that are being implemented by BN — we have to show voters that Najib's programmes are not really that different from the BN of the past," he added, referring to the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.
PR's policy framework, titled the "Pakatan agenda", is seen as an answer and solution to questions surrounding the opposition's administrative plans in comparison to BN.
Speculation is rife that a general election will be held as early as next year although BN's mandate does not expire until May 2013
Among the instant reforms promised by the PR coalition, within the first 100 days of taking over Putrajaya, is acknowledging the role and sacrifices of civil servants by studying the current pay schemes and increasing the incentives for teachers by RM500 a month.
PR leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has claimed that a PR federal government could afford to pay for a proposed allowance for teachers — projected to be RM3.2 billion annually — by eliminating the "wastages" of the BN administration.
Other "instant" reforms include the repeal of the Internal Security Act (ISA), abolishing the toll system by instructing Khazanah Berhad, Employees' Provident Fund (EPF) and other government bodies to take over highway assets from the concessionaires, as well as offering free wireless Internet access to those in urban and semi-urban areas.
"We have already shown that we can govern better than BN on a state level. We just need to make voters aware of the changes that we can bring on a federal level. When PR takes over federal power, there will be differences in terms of financial management of federal funds and the governance of all states," said DAP Youth Chief (Dapsy) Anthony Loke.
Loke claimed that the most effective way to counter Najib's popularity was to work with "tangible issues."
"We have to work with tangle issues, what people are looking forward to. ISA, reform of legislative laws is important but people want change to issues which affect them on a daily basis.
"For urban folks, the political will to restructure the toll system is the best way to go. If we can reduce the toll rate, we can eventually abolish the toll system. That way, we will be able to increase people's disposable income, and this will sway votes our way," Loke told The Malaysian Insider.
For the full article, click here
Posted: 25 Nov 2010 10:20 PM PST
DAP seeks details on Penang Port takeover
UPDATED @ 05:11:46 PM 24-11-2010By Clara Chooi November 24, 2010
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 24 — DAP raised questions today over the widely-speculated takeover of the troubled Penang Port by tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary and demanded that the government disclose the full details of the privatisation process.
Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua pointed out to reporters in Parliament today that the port operations was already fraught with malpractice and irregularities, as underlined in the recent Auditor-General's 2009 report, and was poised for a probe by the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) in about two weeks' time.
Pointing to a speculative report carried in Singapore's Business Times on Monday, Pua noted that if the takeover did take place, it would be yet another direct affront to the government's many promises of transparency and public accountability as underlined under Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's New Economic Model (NEM).
Pua described the move as another privatisation process "ala-Dr Mahathir" and questioned why the government had not conducted an open tender to allow the best bidder to develop the Penang Port.
"What we are disappointed so far with Najib, in terms of his economic policy and his privatisation policies, there has been zero change as government entities are being privatised despite various failures that have been carried out in the 1980s and the 1990s. We have seen failures in the LRT system, the bus system, water companies and unfair contracts with the Independent Power Producers (IPPs). The same way of privatising government entities are continuing... why isn't there an open tender to see who can best develop the Penang Port? How much investment can they bring to the port, to upgrade it into a world-class port in the region?" he asked.
According to the news report, the government was likely to give the nod to port magnate Syed Mokhtar to take over ownership of Penang Port.
Syed Mokhtar is presently known as the biggest port operator in the country with his flagship company MMC Corporation, and owns two of the country's busiest ports — Tanjung Pelepas and the Johor Port in Pasir Gudang.
Pua questioned the government's agreement with Syed Mokhtar in the impending handover and demanded that all details be fully disclosed for public consumption.
"It seems now that all you need to do is know BN before you can get a contract. We do not know the terms and conditions of this privatisation process and we call upon the government to disclose all details. What type of site infrastructures will they have to pay, what kind of guarantee does Syed Mokhtar have to give and also, what type of guarantee the government has to give to Syed Mokhtar," he said.
He noted that Najib was not sticking to his guns on his promises of transparency and accused the premier of carrying out policies similar to his predecessor in the government, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
"We hope this privattisation will improve the performance of Penang, and not require assistance from the government, in terms of guarantees, letters of support and so on," he said.
Jelutong MP Jeff Ooi said that the Penang government felt "insulted and shortchanged" that the handover of Penang Port was not being done via open tender.
"The first right of refusal of any form of privatisation should be given to the Penang state government," he said.
Ooi also called for the suspension of Penang Port chief executive officer Datuk Ahmad Ibni Hajar over reports of malpractices and irregularities in the port operations.
"The Penang government has suffered and contributed a lot through concessions given to the port authority, including the valuable prime land that has been alienated to them... notably, the one that is at the North Butterworth Container Terminal.
"According to the A-G's report, there were a lot of malpractices here and the failure of the management has contributed to the sorry state of affairs. We want the CEO to be investigated by the CEO and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission," he said.
He added that Ahmad was also the Umno division chief for Tanjong since 2001 and between 1999 and 2001, he was also appointed the executive chairman of the company.
Penang Port's board of directors chairman, he added, was Datuk Hilmi Yahya, the former parliamentary secretary in the Finance Ministry and a current state assemblyman in Pahang. Penang Port Sdn Bhd is a wholly government-owned subsidiary under the Finance Ministry.
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