Posted: 25 May 2011 10:34 PM PDT
BN Government's RM6.5 billion bailout of Selangor privatised water companies has jeopardised the people's chance of securing a long-term deal to enjoy quality water supply at the lowest water prices.
It has been reported in the media that the BN Federal Government has decided to bail out the debts of the Selangor privatised water companies to the tune of RM6.5 billion. This move has in effect killed any remaining possibility of the Selangor state government striking a deal with these companies to restructure and take over the water industry in Selangor.
The debts of these water companies were at risk of default after they were unable to meet their installment earlier this year. Of the four companies, Puncak Niaga Sdn Bhd and its subsidiary, Syarikat Bekalan Air Negeri Selangor (SYABAS), had debts amounting to more than RM4.2 billion.
The failure of these companies to service their debts, had no bailout been offered by the BN Administration, would have necessitated these companies to come to the table and negotiate the terms of restructuring with the Selangor state government or other parties which has made offers to acquire the businesses and assets.
The Selangor state government has made a third offer amounting to RM6.3 billion into acquire these water companies, and taking over their debts obligations. In addition, the state government is able to ensure that there will be no water tariff hikes post restructuring. Gamuda, through its subsidiary Pengeluaran Air Selangor Holdings (SPLASH) has also made an offer to acquire the same companies for RM10.8 billion, a figure including the existing debts.
However as a result of the Federal Government bailing out the massive debts, they have relieved these companies of their cash flow problems. This will mean that there is now no urgency for these companies to agree to any form of restructuring as desired under the Water Services Industry Act (2006) as they now have the upper hand at the negotiating table at the expense of the rakyat.
In fact the likely outcome from the bailout is that the Federal Government will follow up with the taking over water-related assets will be these privatised water concessionaires will continue to able to operate and profit from the provision of water services in Selangor, without having to be burden by debts which have been accumulated over the years.
The result is clearly a loss for the people of Selangor for they have lost an opportunity for the privatised water industry to be truly restructured to ensure quality water prices are to be provided at the lowest possible prices.
The Minister of Energy, Water and Green Technologies, Datuk Peter Chin must immediately provide clarifications for the move to bail out the debts of the water concessionaires before a restructuring deal is finalised, at the expense of the people's interest. He must also fully disclose at the same time the means and terms of repayment to the Government by these concessionaires with the Government taking over these debts.
Finally, the bailout debunks all earlier claims by the BN Government that it is acting in the interest of the rakyat, and serves to prove that it is only interested in protecting the interest of its political cronies above everything else.
Posted: 25 May 2011 09:40 AM PDT
Talent Corporation should take over the function of awarding Government scholarships given the total failure of Public Service Department to award scholarships in a fair and equitable manner after all these years
The Public Service Department (PSD) has proven itself to be a complete disaster in managing the award of government scholarships to the young and brightest Malaysians, particularly to those seeking the opportunity to pursue their education overseas. Over the past decades, it has never failed to attract controversy by failing to award scholarships in a fair and just manner resulting in hundreds of top students failing to secure the scholarships they deserve.
After last year's fiasco, the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced that there will be 20% of overseas scholarships will be awarded entirely based on merit. However, Najib's promise was made a complete mockery when top students with 10 or more A+ for their SPM failed to secure the overseas PSD scholarship, but were instead only local matriculation programmes.
In fact, the PSD defied the decisions of the Cabinet by creating completely new scholarship categories, such as the 'Open' scholarship as well as scholarships for diploma programmes to circumvent the directive of the Cabinet. The outcome is a circus where Barisan Nasional component parties such as the MCA, Gerakan and MIC becoming a public complaints bureau and the de facto channel for appeals from disappointed scholarship applicants.
In addition, the never-ending scholarship controversies have led to as well as further exacerbate the serious brain drain crisis facing the country. Students and families who are unjustly treated will be persuaded to leave the country to greener pastures who will not hesitate to poach our top talents. The worsening brain drain crisis will also lead to the failure to meet our high income nation goals under the New Economic Model and Economic Transformation Programme.
In the face of massive public uproar, Deputy Minister of Education, Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong who came under heavy fire, had openly blamed the little Napoleons in the PSD for openly defying Cabinet directives. His accusations were supported by various other Ministers, Deputy Ministers and BN component parties.
Despite the obvious need to take strong disciplinary actions against top PSD officials, based on past experiences, there will be little or no political will from the BN Ministers to take any action against them.
Therefore, to prevent future scholarship fiascos arising from the failure or sabotage by the PSD, we'd like to propose to the Cabinet to transfer the Government scholarship award role to the newly set up Talent Corporation.
The transfer of this critical role and responsibility will be particularly fitting given the crucial role of attracting and retaining talent in Malaysia. They will also be the most appropriate agency to manage the best and brightest talents of our future given their close links with the industry. With the single-minded objective of harnessing talent for the country, the Talent Corporation will stand a better chance in succeeding with honouring our best and brightest as opposed to the PSD whose role is complicated and confused, made worse by vested interest and little Napoleons.
We call upon all parties, not just those in Pakatan Rakyat, but also MCA, Gerakan and MIC who has verbally expressed their frustrations with the PSD. The proposal is made in the interest of all Malaysians and there should be bipartisanship in ensuring the annual scholarship circus will never see the light of day again.
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