Posted: 11 Oct 2011 12:31 AM PDT
SPAD must stop trying to deceive the public with half-truths and start acting in the interest of ordinary Malaysians instead of the politically-connected elite
SPAD CEO Mohd Nur Kamal has responded to our press conference held on Wednesday last week exposing the fact that the Klang Valley MRT tunnel has been realigned to save the bungalow residence of a VIP late on Thursday evening.
In a long-winded reply that tried hard to steer away from the subject at hand, SPAD has essentially confirmed that the tunnel has indeed been realigned at the site which we had pointed out. In the statement, SPAD said that:
"Following the feedback from the land owners given before the final approval of the alignment by the government, SPAD evaluated the alternatives and accepted the option of moving the original alignment further to the edge of the plot of land.One almost needs to shake his or her head with incredulity that SPAD has decided that the tunnel realignment was necessary as it could reduce land acquisition by some 1,000 square meters. At prime residential land prices, the land could be worth just above RM5,000 per square meter, meaning a "saving" of just about only RM5 million ringgit. We call upon SPAD to disclose in full the total cost incurred for the realignment especially since tunnelling works have already commenced on the initial alignment by the relevant contractors.
SPAD even had the cheek to be sneaky by claiming that the original alignment did not affect the bungalow residence and that our "allegation is totally false and the item marked on the map as the "VIP House" is totally incorrect."
I have attached once again the original alignment plan for the tunnel, this time the plan issued directly by SPAD and Syarikat Prasarana Bhd above. It is beyond the doubt of anyone with reasonable eyesight that the tunnel had cut through underneath the swimming pool and an ancillary building at the bungalow residence. Is the SPAD CEO trying to wriggle out of the issue by claiming that the swimming pool is not strictly speaking the bungalow?
SPAD should stop giving incongruous, unbelievable and contradictory excuses in the entire land acquisition exercise. SPAD claims close consultation with all affected parties before decisions on the alignment was finalised, including we assume, the above VIP bungalow-owner. However, that is completely untrue in the case of the Bukit Bintang and Jalan Sultan shop-owners where the notices for land acquisition caught them by complete surprise.
SPAD CEO has also admitted in an earlier statement that the underground stratum can be acquired without affecting the land use and ownership of the surface land 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.
Hence even the rationale for realignment of the tunnel below the bungalow residence is based on a false premise, that the Government will "save" from the acquisition of 1,000 square metres of land (or 32m x 32m) as the acquisition of surface land is completely unnecessary.
The flimsy reply provided by SPAD is completely unacceptable and only serves to confirm the fears of ordinary Malaysians that special privileges are accorded only to the very privileged few, while the rights of the honest man trying to make a living on the street are trampled upon indiscriminately.
Posted: 10 Oct 2011 07:52 PM PDT
It is difficult not to "feel good" after a record-breaking pre-election budget where goodies big and small, were liberally handed out to practically all segments of society. The question is, beneath the sweeteners, are there substantive reforms proposed in the Budget 2012 to make "transformative" changes to our economy to achieve the goal of becoming a "high-income nation" by 2020.
The answer, when compared side by side with Pakatan Rakyat (PR) Alternative Budget is obvious. There is little in the Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government's budget that indicates a determination to slaughter sacred cows and take the Malaysian economy to the next level.
Both the PR and BN's budgets had proposed cash grants to various deserving segments of society in order to help alleviate their increasingly heavy burdens. However, PR matched its welfare benefits with policies to rectify the distortions created by the current government to reduce inflationary pressures and the cost of living over the longer term.
PR has called for the abolition of artificial monopolies licensed by the Government such as Bernas which monopolises the sale and distribution of local and imported rice. In addition, predatory market strategies by Telekom Malaysia to stifle competition will be made illegal while the monopoly of satellite and cable television will be abolished.
On top of that we will dismantle cartels in the telecommunication, media, airline, oil and gas as well as other industries to ensure a genuine competitive market which will benefit the man on the street with lower prices.
What's more, we have promised drastic changes to the current privatisation policies which are opaque, uncompetitive and clearly benefit the concessionaires at the expense of the Government and the rakyat. The 2-prong strategy demands the renegotiation or expropriation of current concession assets such as independent power producers, highway and water companies, while putting in place an open, transparent and competitive framework to ensure only the parties with the best services at the lowest price will be awarded the relevant contracts in the future.
Under PR for example, all Approved Permits to import cars will be auctioned not only to increase government revenue, but also to ensure only genuine businessmen and not rent-seeking middle-men secure the rights.
PR has also committed to transform our labour market in the interest those who are paid suppressed wages by instituting a minimum wage of RM1,100 per month. This will ensure that all workers will receive a humane subsistence wage. The measure will not only stimulate domestic demand in our economy, it will also increase the attractiveness of hiring local workers as opposed to foreign workers while phasing out low value-added industries.
It is only with these institutional and structural changes, can we be assured of lower cost of living in the middle and longer term. The budget announced by the Prime Minister has instead chosen to prescribe pain-killers which will ease the rakyat's suffering in the short term, without the medication to cure the actual illness.
In fact when comparing the two budgets, had PR used the more optimistic BN revenue assumptions of RM186.9 billion and our planned expenditure of RM220 billion, the projected deficit of PR's budget would further decline to 3.8%, significantly lower and healthier than BN's 4.7%. This proves that PR can provide not just the "pain-killers" with welfare grants and "cure" the economy by removing artificial barriers to lower cost of living; we can do it all by spending less, and incurring lower debts than BN.
The above also shows that with good governance and the necessary political will to reform and restructure our economy, there will be no need for the Government to further tax the rakyat via BN's proposed Goods and Services Tax (GST). Therein lies the fundamental difference between BN and PR's budget – the former prescribes a sugar-coated placebo that makes you feel good in the short term only to tax you more later, while the latter seek to ease the pain and cure the illness at the lowest possible cost.
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