Archive for September 11th, 2007

Liong Sik’s last act as Transport Minister on May 28, 2003 – unlawfully signing first of four “Letters of Support” for KDSB bonds resulting in RM4.6b PKFZ bailout scandal?

The Prime Minister-cum-Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi began his 2008 budget speech reminding Malaysians of its significance and historic circumstances — on the occasion of the nation’s 50th Merdeka anniversary celebrations and the first Budget as the nation enters the second 50-year phase as an independent state.

To me, the 2008 budget was even more significant — as it was an acid test as to whether the Prime Minister was finally going to “walk the talk” of his National Integrity Plan and keep his pledge to Malaysians that he would lead a clean, incorruptible, accountable, transparent, trustworthy and responsible administration and that he would not countenance the culture of impunity among his Ministers and public officials — or whether he would break his final pledge that he would not approve mega-billion-ringgit bailout of “white-elephant” projects (as all his other pledges of good governance have already been broken).

I was very disappointed by Abdullah’s 2008 Budget, for he had failed this acid test.

There was not a word about the RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) bailout scandal — the largest financial scandal at the start of any Prime Minister in Malaysia, even bigger than the RM2.5 billion Bumiputra Malaysia Finance (BMF) scandal which led off the Mahathir premiership more than two decades ago.

Tun Dr. Mahathir had said at the time that the RM2.5 billion BMF scandal was a “heinous crime without criminals”. Are we having another bigger “heinous crime without criminals” in the form of the RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal under the Abdullah administration?

Abdullah had failed as both Prime Minister and Finance Minister in not giving a full and satisfactory accounting of the government bailout of the RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal to set an example of government accountability and financial integrity to all Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries.

This is because in the past two weeks, the Transport Minister, Datuk Chan Kong Choy (before he suddenly went on medical leave, sparking political speculation whether he is resigning from the Cabinet), the Deputy Finance Minister, Datuk Dr. Awang Adek bin Husin and the Parliamentary Secretary to the Finance Ministry, Datuk Seri Dr. Helmi bin Yahaya had been misleading Parliament and the nation about the true nature and character of the RM4.6 billion PKFZ bailout scandal. Read the rest of this entry »


E-kesihatan – another parasitic rent-seeking monopoly?

The medical profession is up in arms against the latest e-Kesihatan scheme which was officially announced by the Road Transport Department (JPJ) deputy director-general Solah Mat Hassan yesterday, requiring drivers of commercial vehicles from next month to pass a medical test done at clinics appointed by an associate company of Fomema Sdn. Bhd, Supremme Systems Sdn Bhd.

Supremme Systems Sdn. Bhd has been awarded a monopoly to carry out such medical tests which would enable it to make profits in the region of hundreds of millions of ringgit in the 15-year monopoly awarded by the Transport Ministry.

This appears to be the latest example of a parasitic rent-seeking rip-off at the expense of the public as there is already a system in place to provide medical tests for commercial drivers involving medical practitioners with the JPJ directly, which can be further improved to deal with abuses or weaknesses instead of creating a new system which is more rent-seeking in nature than entrepreneurial.

I have received an email from an infuriated medical practitioner on the letter of registration sent by Supremme Systems Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Pantai Holding Sdn Bhd to primarycare doctors in the Klang Valley to pay RM100.00 as registration fee and requesting particulars of each clinic.

The letter states that to participate in the medical examination of Goods Drivers Licence (GDL) and Public Service Vehicle (PSC) licence renewal annually by commercial vehicle drivers, the private doctors must use their ICT. This letter demands reply and payment within 10 days. Read the rest of this entry »


AG’s exposes of fund mismanagement – “chicken-feed” compared to RM4.6 billion PKFZ bailout scandal

In his budget speech, Prime Minister-cum-Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said raising the level of performance of the civil service is critical in sustaining the competitiveness of the nation, especially in the context of globalization. He said it is timely for best practices and the culture of high performance to be adopted in the civil service to drive further improvements in performance.

However, the 2006 Auditor-General’s Report on the third full year of the Abdullah premiership with its litany of waste and abuse of public funds running into tens and hundreds of million of ringgit shows that far from an improvement, there is probably a worsening, in public service culture — with Parliament being reminded constantly with the disgraceful leakage despite RM200 million renovation, with a small waterfall at the media room yesterday.

Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak said on Sunday that ministries must answer for the instances of mismanagement disclosed in the Auditor-General’s Report and the Second Finance Minister, Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop ordered all departments in the Treasury to check cases highlighted in the Auditor-General’s Report.

One Minister after another is trying to rebut he strictures contained in the Auditor-General’s report, like the payment of RM224 for a RM32 set of screwdrivers, paying RM1,146 for a set of pens costing RM 160, paying RM5,700 for a car jack worth RMN50, the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) paying RM5.59 million in advance to 4,183 students who did not apply for a loan and other horror stories.

All the reactions by Ministers are not only locking the stable door after the horses have bolted, but empty public posturings — including that of Najib as he is also Defence Minister who has to fully explain the largest single case of misuse of funds in the 2006 Auditor-General’s Report — the RM6.75 billion scandal of six Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) that have either not been delivered or not operational and the increase of their contract price twice from RM4.9 billion to RM6.75 billion or 38 percent. Read the rest of this entry »


The Pathologisation of Muslims in Europe

By Farish A. Noor

‘No we are not racist. It is just that we need to preserve and protect our German identity and culture, and our Judeo-Christian heritage. The more Turkish Muslims come here, the less we know who and what we are. We cannot allow our identity and culture to be confused like that…’

How many times have I been fed such pedestrian drivel, and how long have I been trying to play the role of bridge-builder between communities, only to find my efforts reduced to naught thanks to the asinine and facile platitidues that spill forth time and again? The gem quoted above was the comment made by a rather ordinary German at a public debate on Islam and the Rule of Law in Berlin; and just one week after an equally gruelling series of public talks in Amsterdam I could not help but feel as if Europe’s slide to the right is accelerating faster than ever.

That a public forum on Islam and the rule of law could degenerate into a senseless round of Turk-bashing speaks volumes about the shallowness of public debate in some parts of Europe these days. That the debate took place in Berlin, the much-hyped cosmopolitan capital of Germany was itself a less than startling revelation: Judging by some of the comments uttered it might as well have been a local talk in some village tavern in the deepest recesses of the Black Forest. The only things that were missing were the leather shorts and bust of the Kaiser on the mantlepiece… for those present had reduced themselves to caricatural stereotypes of the worst order.

What was most alarming, however, was the manner in which a host of complex issues and dilemmas were reduced and pathologised to a single problem: The Muslims and their non-Western culture and belief system. That some of the commentators were right-wing politicians was bad enough, worse still was the evident lack of self-critique, irony and objective distance to the things that were meant to be discussed in the first place. Read the rest of this entry »