Philosophy Politics Economics

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Philosophy Politics Economics

Defence Ministry Yet to Resolve Last Year's Scandals

Posted: 01 Nov 2011 07:58 AM PDT

Site visit with Johor Bahru DAP Members to
Skudai 7th Brigade Army Camp

The Minister of Defence should not be mischievous in asking the Federal Opposition to stop objecting to defence procurement but instead answer for the complete lack of action against irregularities raised by the Auditor-General in its annual reports

Bernama has reported that the Defence Minister, Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi has stated that the Royal Malaysian Air Force will buy new aviation ground support vehicles (AGSV) next year as the existing fleet was becoming too costly to maintain. He said that "The majority of AGSV are old and need to be replaced. The Auditor-General's Report clearly shows the critical need for the new assets."

He urged further for the federal opposition not to question his ministry's need to spend on new assets during times of peace, saying the Auditor-General's report should "open their eyes" to reality.

Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi should not be so mischievous as to blame the federal opposition for objecting to defence procurement such as to purchase new equipment to replace items which are no longer usable or safe to use.

We have never protested against the Ministry of Defence from purchasing new equipment or vehicles. What we have protested strongly is the complete lack of transparency in the manner where these items are purchased, which appear to cost substantially higher that the necessary spend.

Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi for example, in his reply to my question in parliament, has refused to clarify what makes the difference between the RM7.55 billion procurement of 257 armoured personnel carriers from Deftech Sdn Bhd and the price which the latter paid to acquire these vehicles from FNSS Defence Systems, a Turkish defense manufacturer for RM1.7 billion. The Minister had claimed ignorance over the RM5.9 billion difference, despite the fact that he witness the signing of the agreement between the 2 companies in Turkey earlier this year.

What is more important is the fact that while Datuk Seri Zahid was quick to state his intent to acquire new AGSVs, he has failed to explain or take action against all various discrepancies and potential abuse cited in the Auditor-General's report. In the report for 2010 for example, the Auditor-General found that the maintenance contracts for the aged AGSVs did not have the necessary expertise to repair the vehicles and late penalties were not meted out to these contractors when they failed to repair the vehicles within the necessary time frame.

The Auditor-General had also criticised the "improper payments" of allowance to the Territorial Reserve Army personnel who according to the records, did not attend the relevant training. He had even recommended that the relevant officers be punished via "surcharge" as permitted under Section 18(b) of the Akta Tatacara Kewangan 1957.

While the Ministry of Defence may need time to "sort out" the problems highlighted by the Auditor-General in the current report, the Minister has no such excuse for not having dealt with the problems raised in the 2009 report. One of the scandals arising from the previous year's report is the construction of a new RM256 million Skudai 7th Brigade Army Camp which was awarded in 1997 but has only achieved 18.3% completion.

I've personally visited the site (see photos) yesterday and found the construction site to be still in deplorable conditions, with massive soil erosion causing major mud floods in neighbouring residential areas and abandoned "ruins and relics" peppering the site. And yet, despite the massive delay, and recommendations by the Auditor-General to do so, the contract with the developer Kausar Corporation Sdn Bhd has yet to be terminated.

The Grand Canyon of Malaysia (1)

The Grand Canyon of Malaysia (2)

The Ancient Ruins of Skudai (1)

The Ancient Ruins of Skudai (2)

The Ancient Ruins of Skudai (3)

What is worse is the fact that Kausar Corporation has collected their construction fees in full via a land swap deal where the company was already given the ownership of a 153 hectares piece of land. Kausar was able to pledge this piece of land to a bank for the amount of RM465 million showing that the land which could be worth as much as RM800 million is well above the cost of construction of the camp.

It is the Army and the tax payers who have to suffer as the Ministry of Defence has already (over)paid for the construction works in full, and yet after more than 15 years, the Army is still awaiting its "new" camp to be completed. Despite the above, no action to date has been taken against the developer, including terminating the contract, charging late penalties or reclaiming the land which has been awarded to them.

The Minister of Defence, Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi must answer for all of these major scandals instead of just putting his priority gleefully to procure new vehicles, and blaming the federal opposition for taking him to task.

Let Schools Decide over PPSMI

Posted: 31 Oct 2011 08:14 AM PDT

The DAP wishes to state our position in support of the teaching of Mathematics and Science in English (PPSMI) in schools where a determined majority of parents have expressed a preference for it. This is especially in urban schools where the level of competency in English is substantially higher than the rural districts.

DAP Parliamentary Leader Lim Kit Siang had 2 years ago called upon the Cabinet to endorse "the call of Parents Action Group for Education (Page) that schools should be given the option to teach science and mathematics in Bahasa Malaysia or English or in one's mother tongue" and maintain "the use of English as medium of instruction for mathematics and science in secondary schools".

The key reasons why the PPSMI policy was withdrawn by the Government are the inadequacy of the teachers as well as the inability of students, particularly from rural background to cope with the use of English at such a young age.

Therefore the reversal of the 10 year old PPSMI policy should not be a complete one - one that throws out the baby with the bath water - but one which takes into account the advantages and disadvantages learnt over the past 2 decades. The new policy must incorporate the flexibility where PPSMI remains an option for schools in the country where parents express support for it.

We reject the excuse given by Deputy Prime Minister who argued that giving the option to schools will create havoc "kacau-bilau" to our education system. Firstly, these schools have already been conducting their lessons for Mathematics and Science in English over the past 10 years, hence there will be no extra effort incurred to retain PPSMI in these schools. Instead more effort will be required to withdraw PPSMI.

Secondly, and more importantly, every effort should be made to ensure that our schools are able to produce the best human capital for Malaysia as we seek to be part of the knowledge economy, to become a high income nation.

The important principle that the Ministry of Education must adopt is that advanced students should not be held back because of students who lagged behind academically. If parents prefer English as the medium of instruction and the students are more than able to cope, then every effort should be made to allow such schools to continue with PPSMI.

Therefore the argument of administrative hassle as a result of providing the option to parents and students is completely unacceptable as the quality of education our students receive is of paramount importance.

We call upon the Ministry of Education to review its decision to withdraw its decision to withdraw PPSMI completely and to allow room for certain schools to proceed subject to meeting certain requirements such as parental approval and students' performance.

Rahim Noor and Perkasa Starts Facism Movement

Posted: 29 Oct 2011 07:36 AM PDT

It comes as a complete shock that one of the country's former Inspector General of Police (IGP) had the nerve to "liken the rise of the human rights movement in Malaysia to communism".

Disgraced Tan Sri Rahim Noor who gave Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim the infamous "black eye", had referred to the human rights movement as a new "religion". He warned that civil liberties activists saw the US and UK as their spiritual home and drew parallels to how the Comintern had engineered the global spread of communism from its Moscow base.

If human rights can be akin to communism, then surely what Tan Sri Rahim Noor is attempting to do during his speech at the 2nd Perkasa General Assembly is to seed and grow the fascism movement in Malaysia. "Fascism" is described in the Oxford English dictionary to include "a belief in the supremacy of one national or ethnic group, a contempt for democracy, an insistence on obedience to a powerful leader, and a strong demagogic approach".

The United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 had emphasized among other things, the fact that "all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights", that "all are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law", that "no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile" and that "the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage".

Tan Sri Rahim Noor's speech and reception at the right-wing Perkasa assembly marks the second time the movement is attempting to derail "reforms" put forth by the Prime Minister, since the latter's inauguration in 2009.

In the first instance, Perkasa was able to force the Prime Minister to reverse his landmark "New Economic Model" (NEM) which sought to reform the country's race-based affirmative action system. The NEM when launched in March 2010, had called for an "affirmative action approach based on "transparent and market-friendly affirmative action programmes", which "will mean greater support for the Bumiputera, a greater support based on needs, not race". It is as opposed to the previous New Economic Policy (NEP) of "imposing conditions to meet specific quotas or targets".

However, within 3 months from the launch of the NEP, the affirmative action policy reform was reversed when the 10th Malaysia Plan re-incorporated the race-based agenda and quota system. Even at the earlier Malay Consultative Council (MPM) lead by Perkasa in May 2010, the Prime Minister had already referred to the NEM as a only a "trial balloon", a clear reversal from the bold reforms announced.

The latest attacks against the human rights movement deemed as subversive is clearly an attempt to reverse Najib's capitulation to civil society movements such as Bersih. Such movements have recently led to the setup of a Parliamentary Select Committee for Electoral Reforms as well as the proposed abolishment and amendment of several draconian such as the Internal Security Act (ISA) and the Printing, Presses and Publications Act (PPPA). These measures are opposed by Perkasa, comprising of many hardliners within UMNO.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak must immediately put a stop to this fascism movement and openly condemn the former IGP and Perkasa's attempt to allude the human rights movement to communism. He must also openly declare his full support for the human rights objectives, as enshrined in the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, if he is sincere about his "political transformation programme".

Otherwise, the latest hype surrounding the "political transformation programme" will just become a "trial balloon" like the NEM, where the promised reforms will be severely curtailed or worse, equally draconian laws will be adopted to replace existing ones such as the ISA.

Set Up Financial Accountability Commission

Posted: 26 Oct 2011 07:33 AM PDT

Every year Malaysians are treated to a series of "tall tales" in the Auditor-General Report, which are unfortunately true stories. This year, despite an "upgrade" in ratings for the overall financial management by Government departments and agencies, the tales of financial abuse and degrees of incompetence is no less fantastic than previous years.

In previous years, we had screw drivers worth RM32 was purchased at RM224 or a car jack worth RM50 purchased at RM5,700 making a complete mockery of the Government's procurement process. Last year, Kolej Kemahiran Tinggi Mara in Balik Pulau purchased a whole list of products for its computer laboratory at prices well above that of the market, including 2 Acer computer laptops at RM84,640 when it is worth only be a tenth of the price paid.

This year is no different with the Marine Parks Department taking the leading role by purchasing binoculars worth not more than RM1,940 was purchased at RM56,350, more than 28 times the market price. It was of course not the only offending item – the Department purchased RM192,694 worth of products including common items such as laptops, printers, LCD TV, DVD Player when their total value should not exceed RM20,193.

There were many repeat offenders as well in the current year's report. Of note is the construction of computer laboratories by the Ministry of Education throughout the country. In Sabah, a RM160.7 million project was awarded to equip 300 schools by 2008. However, as at the end of 2010, only 2 computer laboratories were completed.

Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara), an agency tasked to uplift the welfare of bumiputeras is again chastised for making high-priced purchases such as an oven worth RM419 for RM1,200, folding beds worth RM100 for RM500 among other things.

What is perhaps more illuminating is the fact that everyone the Auditor-General only has the necessary resources to audit a small sample of Government procurement and projects. And despite that, such tales of incompetence and abuse are in abundance.

The logical conclusion from the Auditor-General's report is that heads must roll, but it rarely or never happens. The Government's Chief Secretary Tan Sri Sidek Hassan has the all-important role to take the necessary disciplinary actions against the relevant offenders, including the supervising officers who failed in exercising their responsibility in a diligent fashion. However, as informed by the Auditor-General during our Public Accounts Committee briefing yesterday, most of these offending officers are only given a letter of reprimand "surat teguran" before the cases were closed.

The natural outcome is, there is little disincentive for government officers to increase its level of competence or reduce the amount of waste, mismanagement and abuse since the "rewards" far outweigh the potential punishment, even if their deeds are hung out to dry in the Auditor-General's Report.

While the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has the powers to call upon the relevant Ministries and officers to explain their actions and conduct, the PAC has no powers whatsoever to mete out punishment except to make "recommendations" to the Government. This has proven to be completely ineffective, made worse by the fact that the PAC is only able to focus on a handful of the misdeeds highlighted in the Auditor-General's report.

Therefore, given the inability of the Chief Secretary of the Government, the absence of powers endowed upon the PAC as well as the lack of political will from the Prime Minister and his Cabinet to mete out effective punishment and deterrence to offending civil servants, we would like to call for a independent Financial Accountability Commission (FAC) set up via an Act of Parliament to be created.

The FAC should not be staffed with any civil servant to avoid conflicts of interest, but instead by headed by leading professionals in the field of audit and integrity such as the Malaysian Institute of Certified Public Accountants (MICPA) and Transparency International (TI) Malaysia. The proposed Commission should be made answerable only to the Parliament and granted the powers to take punitive and disciplinary actions against officers guilty of misconduct, negligence and sheer incompetence highlighted in the Auditor-General's Report.

MinDef must explain the RM6 billion difference

Posted: 25 Oct 2011 08:08 AM PDT

Pua demands MinDef explain extra RM6b for APCs
By Yow Hong Chieh October 24, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 24 — The Defence Ministry must explain why it paid RM7.6 billion for armoured personnel carriers (APC) procured by DRB-Hicom Bhd for only US$559 million (RM1.7 billion), Tony Pua said today.

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi told Parliament last Tuesday his ministry did not have any information about the deal between DRB-Hicom unit Defence Technologies Sdn Bhd (Deftech) and Turkish firm FMC-Nurol Defense System (FNSS) for 257 units of Pars 8x8 APCs.

But Pua said today it was unacceptable for Zahid to say he knew nothing about the deal as the minister had witnessed its signing in February, according to the Turkish press.

"How can he claim to know nothing about the difference in price when he was there (in Turkey) witnessing the signing between the two parties?"

"And the difference in price is so big, surely a responsible government must ask... what are the differences that make up the gap?" the DAP publicity chief told reporters in the Parliament lobby here.

Pua stressed that any government that wanted to rein in its expenditure must be able to account for the RM6 billion difference in pricing.

He added that Zahid should give a proper response in Parliament and not just brush off the question while "acting stupid".

"I don't know whether he's pretending to be stupid or really the ministry doesn't know anything," Pua said.

Deftech chief executive Abdul Harith Abdullah said last year the cost of the FNSS contract includes manufacturing and other costs associated with the production of a new combat vehicle.

The Malaysian-developed APC is built from the Pars APC produced by FNSS of Turkey, in co-operation with US company, General Purpose Vehicle.

Deftech is to build 12 variants from the base vehicle, including personnel carriers, anti-tank weapon carriers, command and control as well as anti-aircraft weapon vehicles.

Muhyiddin's Support for UMNO Bloggers Must Receive Reprimand

Posted: 23 Oct 2011 07:31 AM PDT

Datuk Seri Najib Razak must reprimand his Deputy, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin for giving implicit support to the UMNO bloggers to defame and destroy an innocent 16 year old child

We are shocked and appalled by by the Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who reportedly said that if the Penang chief minister "thinks it is important to correct the information, then he has to come up with a strong statement. Mere denial is not enough."

Tan Sri Muhyiddin was commenting on the case where Penang Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng's 16 year old son was accused of sexual harassment by a plethora of UMNO bloggers which resulted in him being transferred to another school this year.

The Deputy Prime Minister needs to have his head seriously inspected – not only did Lim strongly denied the above incident in the strongest possible terms by calling the allegations by the UMNO bloggers "barbaric lies", we have proven that the case is entirely fictitious when the alleged victim is a 21 year old university student in the United States from Hong Kong who never went to school in Penang.

The alleged victim has even sent a statement to all press, stating clearly that she has not been to Malaysia for the past 7 years, and "the only way in which my 'modesty was outraged' has been the publication of my picture in connection with these scurrilous and unfounded rumours."

The principal of SMK Heng Ee, where Lim's son was studying until the end of last year, Mr Goh Boon Poh has also come out to state that he was shocked by the allegations that Lim Guan Eng's son had sexually harassed a female student of the school, and it is "completely untrue."

Despite Lim having nothing else to prove, Tan Sri Muhyiddin has chosen to lend credence to the despicable rumours and give support implicit to the UMNO bloggers by stating that "mere denial is not enough".

Instead of taking stern action against those perpetrating the evil lies to humiliate the Penang Chief Minister's family, especially since they are all UMNO leaders and members, Tan Sri Muhyiddin has chosen to defend the indefensible. The onus to prove the scurrilous allegations are on the accusers, and not those unjustly maligned.

To protect the image of the Government, the Prime Minister and UMNO President, Datuk Seri Najib Razak must immediately put a stop to this madness by sternly reprimanding his Deputy and all his members from making further unfounded claims against an innocent 16 year old boy. Otherwise, it'll prove to all Malaysians that UMNO has become morally bankrupt in its pursuit to hold on power at all cost, including attacking innocent children.

Stop Intimidation of Malaysian Academics

Posted: 21 Oct 2011 07:27 AM PDT

The Government and University authorities must stop the intimidation of academics who expresses views and opinions differing from the ruling establishment

It is extremely disturbing that academic Professor Dr Aziz Bari has been subjected to rapid fire intimidation by the Malaysia Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), followed by the Royal Malaysian Police and now asked to show cause by the Universiti Islam Antarabangsa (UIA). All the above over-the-top action was a result of Dr Aziz having expressed his learned opinion of the Malaysian Constitution and its laws, which is his area of expertise.

We are not in agreement with the opinions expressed by Dr Aziz all of the time, but we believe that everyone, what more academics in the relevant fields of study, must have the right to voice their views on all matters relating to the Constitution. After all, Malaysia is a country founded on the rule of law, and not one which is enslaved to an absolute authority.

The actions by the Government and University authorities will only prove that there is little room for academic freedom in our tertiary institutions, and that the University and University Colleges Act (UUCA) is used as the tool to ensure rigid conformity among the academics and the students.

The recent release of the Times Higher Education (THE) 400 Top World University Ranking 2011/12, where not a single Malaysian university is included has shown the dire circumstances of our local universities.

On the other hand, only 1 university, Universiti Malaya out of more than 50 universities in Malaysia made it into the QS 200 World University Rankings 2011/12, and that is because the "high impact research and citations" criteria is much lower than that of THE methodology.

In contrast, 60 Asian Universities made it into the THE 400 Top World University Ranking, with 16 from Japan, 10 from China, eight from Taiwan, seven from South Korea, six from Hong Kong, two from Singapore, and one each from India and Thailand.

The poor quality of our universities is a clear outcome from the fact that top Malaysian academics are turned off by the way Malaysian universities are managed, and often prefer to migrate to top universities in the region and the world to pursue their academic career. As a result, our Malaysian students face the double whammy of not only having weaker academics as their lecturers and tutors, they are prevented from exercising their critical thinking and analytical faculties as a result of the restrictive UUCA.

In the interest of arresting the decline in standards of our universities, we call upon the authorities to stop applying undue pressure on Malaysian academics from speaking their minds. The MCMC and police should immediately withdraw their attempt to harass Dr Aziz Bari for merely providing his opinions of the law. At the same time, UIA must withdraw their show cause letter which has added credence to the common perception that university authorities in Malaysia lacks independence and serves merely as a cat's paw for the ruling party to suppress dissenting opinions.

UMNO Must Apologise to Guan Eng's Son

Posted: 20 Oct 2011 07:23 AM PDT

Khairy Jamaluddin must apologise and UMNO must take stern actions against its members
The UMNO bloggers are individuals with absolutely no scruples or morals. They are willing to sink to despicable depths to achieve their political goals. They are the bottom feeders of the society, and are a complete disgrace to their race, religion and country.

They have attempted to defame the 16 year old son of Penang Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng and humiliate his family with a completely fictitious sexual harassment story. These bloggers even attempted to lend credibility to the concoction by putting up the picture of a young girl.
Nobody from the school of Lim's son knew who she was, including the principal and teachers. It is not surprising, especially since, the girl never studied in Penang, and "better" still, is not even a Malaysian resident!

With some quick sleuthing work by Goh Kheng Teong, our IT Manager at the DAP Headquarters, we soon discovered that the girl in question is not only a foreigner, but also a high achiever. Anya Corke has been Hong Kong's national champion of chess for many years as a teenager, and is now a 21 year old 3rd year student at a top liberal arts college in the United States.

The above proves beyond doubt that all the accusations by these UMNO cybertroopers are nothing by barbaric lies. They are willing to destroy the life of an innocent 16 year old and bring the country into disrepute by defaming a foreign top achiever for political ends.

UMNO Youth Chief Khairy Jamaluddin must immediately withdraw his tweet yesterday which said "Mungkin dia roboh Kampung Buah Pala sebab nak ganti dengan Kampung Buah Dada". His snide remark was not only crass, he was perpetuating the vicious lies to his 64,000 followers on Twitter.

As an UMNO Youth Chief who is a role-model for many Malaysian youths, and who claim to be an example of "new politics", he must take responsibility for his callous action and publicly apologise, especially to the victimised 16-year-old son of Lim Guan Eng. The failure to do so will only further taint his character in the eyes of Malaysians.

We would also like to call upon all UMNO cybertroopers who have concocted the lies and making Malaysia a centre for gutter politics to repent for their actions.

The UMNO disciplinary committee must also take harsh and stern actions against the UMNO members and leaders who perpetrators of the above slander to prove that UMNO is not beyond redemption. The failure to take actions against these rogue and vulgar members such as Dr Novandri Hassan Basri and "Papagomo" will only lead to the conclusion that UMNO is the real culprits behind these concerted efforts to slander and libel Pakatan Rakyat leaders, even if young innocent boys and girls become collateral damage in the process.

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