- MRT: SPAD Concedes Underground Land Acquisition Possible
- Automatic Registration Must be Top of Poll Reform Agenda
- BN Must End Politics by Race
- TV1 False "Murtad" Report
- Election Commission Must Punish Errant Registrars
- Remove Religion from Voter Registration Forms
- MRT: Bumi Quota
- Chua Soi Lek Gets a "Slap"
Posted: 12 Sep 2011 07:56 AM PDT
The Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) has finally admitted land underground can be acquired under the National Land Code without affecting existing landowners in the cases affected by the MRT tunneling project.
The Chief Executive Officer of SPAD, Mohd Nur Kamal has conceded as much in its letter to the press where "all affected individual land owners [can] apply for stratum titles to be issued to the Government".
This is because as highlighted many times during the controversy, the National Land Code 1965 had been specifically amended in 1990 to allow for the acquisition of underground land without affecting surface property by inserting Part Five (A) (section 92A to 92G) under Clause 3. The amendment enables the disposal of "underground land", which can then either be alienated or leased for the use to construct tunnels, car parks and to lay pipes.
SPAD then claimed in its letter that in the interest of expediency - "criticality of the project timetable, the benefit of the Government instead of each individual owner handling the process" – the Government has chosen to acquire all land first, and decide whether to return the surface land later. SPAD emphasized specifically that the government "is in no position to make guarantees of the return of these properties", the properties referring to those being acquired in Chinatown.
Hence it is clear from the above admission and convoluted explanation that the Government's actions stink of bad faith and ill-intent. When the law clearly enables the Government to acquire the stratum or underground land without affecting the surface, it still chooses to acquire all land – surface and underground – at one go. Expediency is not a valid reason to abuse the law, especially when the rights of the property owners are significantly jeopardized.
On top of that, on the one hand, SPAD argued that the acquisition process is just a matter of convenience. But on the other it says that it may not want to return the land after acquiring it – how more hypocritical can one get?
The reasoning provided that what was most important was that the government had "listened" to feedback from the affected parties and had agreed to a mutually acceptable outcome rang completely hollow in the light of the above, as it showed that the "listening" was just merely a public relations exercise.
All the various untenable excuses being raised leads only to a single possible conclusion – the land acquisition exercises proposed in Chinatown, Bukit Bintang and other prime locations are nothing but poorly masked attempts at profiteering and land grab.
They are in breach of the spirit of the Land Acquisition Act 1960 where the Government is only to acquire private land, and only that which is necessary for public use and benefit, and not for profit.
SPAD should stop tunneling a deeper hole for itself and stick to its role of independently regulating and ensuring an efficient and effective public transport system. It should not become a partner-in-crime for the Government to justify its "land grab" exercises, which is completely irrelevant to the planning and design of the MRT system.
Posted: 09 Sep 2011 07:56 AM PDT
DAP wants automatic registration to be top of poll reform agenda
By Shannon Teoh September 08, 2011
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 8 — The DAP has called for automatic voter registration to be implemented before a general election expected as soon as November after dismissing the Election Commission's (EC) excuses for discrepancies in the electoral roll as "data entry errors."
Lawmakers from the opposition party dismissed today deputy EC chief Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar's explanation for 22 cases of "same-sex marriages" in an army camp in Rasah as isolated cases which were accidentally "overlooked."
"The parliamentary select committee into electoral reforms must make automatic voter registration its number one priority," DAP publicity chief Tony Pua said after claiming over 117 cases of old identity card (IC) holders that have spawned two new IC numbers on the electoral roll.
The Petaling Jaya Utara MP added that "we are talking about thousands of such data entry errors. There is a simple way to eliminate all this and that is to automatically register all voters" when they reach the voting age of 21.
Rasah MP Anthony Loke had also claimed today a dozen more cases where spouses of army personnel in Rembau, Gemas and his own constituency held ICs whose numbers indicated the wrong gender.
He had said on Tuesday that as the IC numbers clearly did not belong to the spouses, their "own IC numbers can still be registered elsewhere and someone can vote twice. It doesn't matter who. The issue is an extra vote can be made."
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng also said that "they already have the database at the National Registration Department (NRD) and with computers everything can be done very quickly."
"Why doesn't the EC want to implement automatic registration? In the next election Barisan Nasional (BN) will cheat bigger than in the previous one and do anything and everything, including resorting to phantom voters," the Penang chief minister added.
Pua also said that under the Election Act, the EC had the power to decide how the electoral roll was constituted but as it has so far refused to make any changes, Parliament had to amend the law to implement automatic voter registration.
Pakatan Rakyat (PR) has continued to highlight discrepancies in the electoral roll since the July 9 Bersih rally which saw tens of thousands pouring into the capital calling for free and fair elections.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced last month a parliamentary select committee to improve the electoral system but the federal opposition has insisted that the prime minister guarantee that the panel's findings be implemented before a general election expected within the year.
PR had previously claimed that over 1,600 foreigners had been given ICs and inserted into the electoral roll before Loke on Tuesday raised the issue of spouses of army officers being given postal voting rights despite irregularities in their IC numbers and birthdates.
He claimed that the 30-odd examples he had produced so far were registered using the IC of the military personnel as nearly all shared the same birth date as their husband or wife.
"We do not even know whether the spouses really exist," the DAP Youth chief said.
Posted: 08 Sep 2011 08:02 AM PDT
Pakatan dares BN to end race formula
By Clara Chooi September 07, 2011
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 7 — Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders have challenged Datuk Seri Najib Razak to abolish Barisan Nasional's (BN) race-based formula by turning the coalition into a multiracial party, saying this would resolve the quandary over maintaining Chinese representation in government.
DAP national publicity secretary Tony Pua pointed out to The Malaysian Insider that it was BN's race-based system that is now causing it to gripe over MCA's decision to reject Cabinet posts if it were to fare worse in future general elections than it did in Election 2008.
If BN should turn into a multi-racial party, he said, MCA's threat would not cause any headache to the party's coalition partners, especially Umno.
"The squabble between Umno and MCA is simple ... the root cause to the dispute is the fact that the BN formula for one party to represent each race does not work for this country.
"The only way for BN to resolve this problem of marginalising a particular community in government is by transforming themselves from a race-based coalition to a multiracial one, banning all race-based parties," he said when contacted here.
Pua was responding to a statement by senior Umno minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz carried by The Malaysian Insider yesterday, in which the latter said it would be unfair to "punish" the Chinese if they chose not to vote for BN Chinese-centric parties like MCA or Gerakan.
For the full article, read it on The Malaysian Insider here
Posted: 28 Aug 2011 07:51 AM PDT
TV1 last nite reported in its 8pm prime-time news on the existence of "Murtads in Malaysia & Singapore" Facebook group. What is most despicable and sickening is TV1 highlighting the alleged association of DAP leaders such as Tan Kok Wai, Charles Santiago, Dr Boo Cheng Hau, Ean Yong Hian Wah with the Group. TV1 even placed the spotlight on the chairman of Parti Socialis Malaysia (PSM) and ADUN for Kota Damansara Dr Nasir Hashim insinuating the betrayal of his own faith.
The "news" report is obviously calculated to inflame sentiments and anger among Malays and Muslims in the country, especially towards Pakatan Rakyat whose leaders' names were "found" to be part of the group.
The problem is those responsible in TV1 obviously did not bother to find the truth to the story but went ahead to make the baseless insinuations above. TV1 either were too ignorant to know, or did not want to know the fact that the "add to group" function in Facebook is such that you cannot prevent a group administrator from adding you to any group. There is no requirement to secure one's permission or approval for adding a Facebook member to a Group.
Therefore all of the accused "supporters" of the Facebook page did not intend to, or never knew they had "joined" the Group. TV1 was completely unethical in its reporting by not first verifying the above information with the relevant people who were "implicated" by the Facebook page, especially since they were Pakatan Rakyat leaders who were easily accessible.
Hence instead of making a news report to cite the existence of the "Murtads in Malaysia & Singapore" Facebook page and criticising the administrators for wantonly adding Pakatan Rakyat leaders to the page and to cause anger among the people, TV1 chose to emphasize the supposed support shown by these leaders to the page. TV1 must be charged for making and disseminating false news to incite hatred among ordinary Malaysians.
The false TV1 news report follows closely another fake news aired by TV3 on 21 August which claimed the proselytization by a tuition centre in Old Klang Road after complaints by a non-existent "Surau Al-Musyrikin".
It is absolutely clear that the above incendiary and seditious false news reports by the Government-owned and UMNO-associated media organisations are part of a systematic and orchestrated campaign to divide the people and retain power for Barisan Nasional in the next general elections. The desperation of the Najib administration is so deep that "to win at all cost", BN is willing to not only spread false news, but also to use the highly-charged religious sentiments to tear the country apart.
We condemn the actions of the TV stations in the strongest possible terms and demand that the Minister of Information, Communications and Culture Dato' Seri Dr Rais Yatim apologise on behalf of the TV stations for making false and seditious news reports. Dr Rais must also conduct an immediate investigation into the completely lack of professionalism in both TV1 and TV3 and insist that the responsible parties are removed from the posts.
Posted: 27 Aug 2011 08:08 AM PDT
Reveal and punish errant registrars, DAP tells EC
UPDATED @ 01:40:13 PM 26-08-2011 By Clara Chooi August 26, 2011
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 26 — DAP today demanded the Selangor Election Commission (EC) reveal the political parties which have been registering permanent residents as voters and penalise those found responsible.
DAP national publicity secretary Tony Pua suggested that errant assistant registrars should be punished by having their licenses stripped or suspended for six months if at least 30 per cent of their voter registration forms were found with errors like the registration of permanent residents or the dead, incorrect addresses and dual registrations.
He told a press conference here that the Selangor EC's letter on Monday to political parties was a clear admission that certain political parties have been attempting to register such un-eligible voters.
In the letter distributed to reporters today, the Selangor EC had complained that "nearly 50 per cent" of voters registered by assistant registrars recently had to be rejected as some applicants were found to be already deceased; their addresses did not reflect their MyKad details; they were registered twice before; and some were found to be permanent residents with no voting rights.
To curb a repeat of such discrepancies, the Selangor EC ordered all assistant registrars to submit a photocopy of the voters' MyKads along with their application forms.
But Pua lamented the solution, saying this would not only punish the errant registrars but also the honest ones.
"With this new regulation, it makes it hard for us to register voters and it slows down the process.
"We go to supermarkets, malls, offices, night markets and so on for our voter registration drives ... where are we to find power points and photocopy machines to make a copy of their MyKads? And what if the voters refuse to produce the copies because they are afraid that we may use it for something else?" he said.
He claimed that only about 10 per cent of forms submitted by the DAP's 60 registrars in Selangor contained errors compared to 70 per cent by some undisclosed parties.
Pua added that with automatic voter registration, the commission would not have to hire thousands of data entry clerks to record voter details or appoint assistant registrars to help with the new voter registration process. At present, each political party is allowed to appoint two registrars for every state constituency.
"If you want to talk about freedom of choice, that some voters may not want to be registered at all, then what about having MyKads ... do we have freedom of choice there? In any case, they are merely turned into eligible voters automatically when they turn 21 but they can still choose not to vote," he said.
Pua said that in order to implement automatic voter registration, the EC does not need to amend any election law as the present legislation already grants the commission authority to decide how voters are registered.
Automatic voter registration is one of the key demands made by election watchdog Bersih 2.0.
Posted: 27 Aug 2011 08:05 AM PDT
Remove religion from voter registration forms, Pua tells EC
UPDATED @ 02:17:10 PM 26-08-2011 By Clara Chooi August 26, 2011
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 26 — DAP MP Tony Pua appealed to the Election Commission (EC) today to remove religion column from voter registration forms, pointing out that a person's faith is irrelevant to his right to vote.
He claimed that at least one in 20 or 30 of those registered were rejected by the EC for writing "no religion" in their forms or when their religions did not match the one stated in their MyKad details.
"The numbers may be small but it affects a citizen's right to vote. I find the requirement onerous as a person's religion is irrelevant to his or her citizenship," Pua told a press conference this morning.
He added that the authorities should also acknowledge that some Malaysians choose not to profess any faith and this should not affect their eligibility to be registered voters.
"They must take that it is possible for people here not to have a religion ... to be either agnostic or an atheist. It is a frivolous reason to reject their applications," he said.
Pua added that many Malaysians were unaware that their religion is recorded in their MyKads and may state a different faith when registering to be a voter, resulting in their applications being rejected.
He cited the case of a man who professes Christianity but had his application rejected after it was discovered that his MyKad states that he does not practise any faith.
"It is understandable that they need a voter's MyKad number, his exact name and address but why bother with the religion?
"Also, what happens if a non-Muslim, for example, wants to change his or her religion? It would be a hassle to keep having to go to the NRD (National Registration Department) to change your MyKad details every time you change your faith," said Pua.
Posted: 25 Aug 2011 08:10 AM PDT
MRT Bumi quota shows NEM like NEP, say Pakatan leaders
By Boo Su-Lyn August 24, 2011
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 24 — The 30 per cent Bumiputera quota for the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) construction packages shows that the New Economic Model (NEM) is no different than the New Economic Policy (NEP), Pakatan Rakyat (PR) lawmakers charge.
Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd (Prasarana) said yesterday that the nation's largest construction project ever will have fixed reservations for Bumiputera.
The MRT is due to begin operations in January 2017.
"This proves beyond doubt that the NEM is not in the least bit different from the NEP," DAP publicity chief Tony Pua told The Malaysian Insider last night.
"All the associated problems arising and related to the NEP over the past few decades — such as declining competitiveness, brain drain — will continue to be aggrieved, if not made worse, by such policies," added the Petaling Jaya Utara MP.
Abdul Malik Azman, Prasarana's head of the MRT Procurement Management Department, told The Malaysian Insider that the quota was part of the government's "national agenda".
The Malaysian Malay Chamber of Commerce and Industry and also Malay rights groups had previously demanded Prasarana's stringent contractors requirements were relaxed so that more Bumiputera companies qualified.
Read the full article at The Malaysian Insider here.
Posted: 25 Aug 2011 07:48 AM PDT
On 24 August, Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek proudly told all affected property owners in Chinatown as well as reporters after his meeting with Suruhanjaya Pengangkutan Awam Darat (SPAD) Chairman, Tan Sri Syed Hamid Albar that the land acquisition controversy has been resolved.
Chua told the reporters that "an agreement in principle had been reached" after a one-hour meeting this afternoon with the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD).
According to Chua, the compromise will see the government acquiring only the strata title for the property 100 feet below ground required for the MRT tunnel, while the buildings, many of which are nearly a hundred years old, and land above ground will remain in the current owners' hands.
His role as a hero was unfortunately a most short-lived one, for Syed Hamid has given the MCA President a figurative "tight slap in the face" by insisting that Chinatown would be acquired to make way for the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit (KVMRT) and there was no guarantee at all that it would be returned to the owners.
Chua has turned from hero to zero within 24 hours but what is perhaps most telling is how shocking flip-flop and ad-hoc decisions are being made by this administration on a daily basis which affects the lives and livelihood of the man-on-the-street.
Syed Hamid has reverted back to the "original" argument that compulsory acquisition of the Jalan Sultan lots — where the KVMRT would run underground — was necessary because under land law, landowners also owned the land that lies below ground.
Once again, this is complete and utter nonsense. The National Land Code 1965 had been specifically amended in 1990 to allow for the acquisition of underground land without affecting surface property by inserting Part Five (A) (section 92A to 92G) under Clause 3. The amendment enables the disposal of "underground land", which can then either be alienated or leased for the use to construct tunnels, car parks and to lay pipes.
Even Dr Chua agreed with the above after I raised it earlier in the media. Clearly Prasarana is attempting to hijack the land affecting the heritage shop lots in Kuala Lumpur's Chinatown for the purposes of profit and not for the purposes of MRT construction works 100 feet underground. Such action for profit is clearly bad faith on the part of the Government.
The Government must not abuse the powers in its hands to profiteer at the expense of the existing property owners and is against the spirit of the law. Given that it is possible for Prasarana to acquire the use of land underground without having to acquire property on the surface, it must immediately withdraw its order to the affected landowners without causing any further inconvenience to them.
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