Archive for November 28th, 2007

High-handed police action at Hindraf rally — Indian diaspora reacts

Monday’s press carried reports and photographs of a foreign woman tourist in the Kuala Lumpur centre on Sunday who was the victim of indiscriminate police tear gas attacks which aggravated her asthmatic condition.

In the era of globalization, the earth has become a global village and it is impossible for Malaysia to disregard international reactions to local events if we are to enhance our international competitiveness whether in attracting tourists or foreign investors.

Peaceful demonstrations do not scare tourists. It is high-handed police actions and the mishandling of peaceful demonstrations as happened with regard to the Hindraf rally in Kuala Lumpur on Sunday which drive away tourists and investors.

For example, in countries with a very flourishing tourist industry like the United Kingdom, Australia and United States, peaceful demonstrations are quite common and do not have any effect in scaring away tourists.

During question time this morning, I had asked the Parliamentary Secretary to the Foreign Ministry, Datuk Ahmad Shabery Chik whether there had been adverse reactions from the Indian diaspora or whether the Ministry is expecting any from the police mishandling of the Hindraf rally.

Although Ahmad Shabery replied in the negative, the truth is otherwise. The Indian media have reported adverse reactions to the government handling of the Hindraf demonstration — media like Hindu India, Hindustan Times India, Times of India, CNN-IBN India, Zee News India, News Today India and The Tribune India. Read the rest of this entry »

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RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal – Chan Kong Choy still Minister-on-the-run

MCA Deputy President and Transport Minister, Datuk Chan Kong Choy has confirmed that he is a Minister-on-the-run from his sheer inability to answer five simplified questions on the RM4.6 billion Port Klang Free Zone scandal in Parliament yesterday.

When moving a RM10 salary-cut motion for the Transport Minister yesterday, I tried to make things easy for Chan by reducing the public furore over the RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal into five simplified questions, viz:

1. Was it true that when the Port Klang Authority and the Transport Ministry insisted on buying the 1,000 acres of Pulau Indah land for PKFZ at RM25 psf on a “willing buyer, willing seller” basis, in the face of strong objection by the Attorney-General’s Chambers and the Treasury which had recommended that the land be acquired at RM10 psf, the Cabinet had given its approval subject to two conditions: (i) categorical assurance by the Transport Minister that the PKFZ proposal was feasible and self-financing and would not require any public funding; and (ii) that every RM100 million variation in the development costs of PKFZ would require prior Cabinet approval.

2. In the event, the first condition was breached when the PKFZ project ballooned from RM1.1 billion to RM4.6 billion requiring government intervention and bailout while the second condition was breached with the original PKFZ development costs of RM400 million ballooning to RM2.8 billion without any prior Cabinet approval ever been sought for every RM100 million increase in development costs.

3. The Transport Minister had unlawfully issued four Letters of Support to Kuala Dimensi Sdn. Bhd (KDSB), the PKFZ turnkey contractor — to raise RM4 billion bonds, which were regarded as government guarantees by the market. The Transport Minister had no such powers to issue financial guarantees committing the government, as it could only be issued by the Finance Minister and only after Cabinet approval. The first Letter of Support was issued by the former Transport Minister, Tun Dr. Ling Liong Sik on May 28, 2003, which was Liong Sik’s last day as Transport Minister while the other three were issued by Kong Choy.

4. Whether it wasn’t true that in recognition that the four unlawful “Letters of Support” of the Transport Minister had nonetheless given implicit government guarantee to the market that the Cabinet had in mid-year to give retrospective approval for the unlawful and unauthorized four Letters of Support by the Transport Ministers in the past four years creating RM4.6 billion liability for the government in the bailout of PKFZ.

5. Why no action had been taken against the Transport Minister, both Liong Sik and Kong Choy, as well as the government officials responsible for the unlawful issue of the four “Letters of Support”. Kong Choy had said that he did not know that he had no power as Transport Minister to issue such Letters of Support. Was this acceptable explanation for getting the government embroiled in the RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal?

After each question, I specifically asked Chan to give a “yes or not” answer — to deny if the facts I had mentioned were untrue, and to explain and justify what he and the government had done if what I had said was undisputed and true.

In his reply, Chan completely ignored the five simplified questions on the core issues of the RM4.6 billion PKFZ scandal, as well as other questions which I had posed, including: Read the rest of this entry »

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Abdullah’s threat to use ISA – nadir in 4 years of broken pledges on democracy, human rights, accountability, integrity

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi returned from the Kampala Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) and threatened to use the nefarious law, the Internal Security Act (ISA), against peaceful demonstrators — marking a new nadir of the four-year broken pledges by the Abdullah premiership on democracy, human rights, accountability, incorruptibility and preparedness to hear the truth from the people.

Yesterday, Aljazeera reported the controversy in Japan over the Education Ministry’s latest effort to revise school history textbooks on one of the most notorious wartime incidents in Japan, where the Japanese military ordered and sometimes forced the islanders to commit suicide during the US invasion of Okinawa in the closing days of the second world war. There was a peaceful demonstration of more than 100,000 people in Okinawa to protest against the Japanese Education Ministry’s instruction to textbook publishers to edit out all references to the military’s role in the mass suicides.

Abdullah wants Malaysians to have “First-World Infrastructure, First-World Mentality” and not “First-World Infrastructure, Third-World Mentality” and it is time for the government to set the example of such “First-World Mentality” and mindset by accepting the important role of peaceful demonstrations in a first-world developed nation like Japan, United Kingdom, Australia and United States for their citizenry to exercise their democratic rights on freedom of expression and assembly.

What chance and hope of Malaysia becoming a nation with “First-World Mentality” when the government is the worst culprit of having “Third-World” and even “Fourth-World” mindsets, as in threatening to invoke the notorious Internal Security Act?

Many have asked whether mass ISA arrests like the infamous Operation Lalang in 1987, which led to major assaults on the independence and integrity of the judiciary, the emasculation of press freedom and the suppression of a vibrant civil society, is possible under Abdullah’s premiership.

With Abdullah’s threat to use the ISA yesterday, such a scenario now appears more and more likely – and I call on Abdullah to make clear his real stand on democracy, human rights, accountability, incorruptibility and preparedness to hear the truth from the people. Read the rest of this entry »

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