Archive for January 8th, 2015

Was Zahid’s infamous letter to FBI discussed at Cabinet yesterday – more likely not, as all Ministers who stay in glass houses have learnt not to throw stones

Was the Home Minister’s infamous letter to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), vouching for the integrity of an alleged Malaysian gambling kingpin Paul Phua standing trial in Las Vegas, Nevada in direct contradiction to the police’s earlier communication with FBI, discussed at the Cabinet meeting yesterday?

It should be if the Ministers care for the interests and international reputation of the country and if the Malaysian system of governance had undergone a national transformation, upholding the principles of accountability and good governance.

After all, Ministers like ordinary Malaysians must be piqued to know why Zahid’s letter was withdrawn in the Nevada District Court in Las Vegas after Putrajaya objected to it being used in Paul Puah’s defence.

Zahid’s letter was clearly in defence of Phua. Who objected to it being used in open court proceedings? Zahid, the Attorney-General, the Police or the Prime Minister himself?

Could it be that Malaysian Ministers are a special batch of politicians who, like the traditional three monkeys, have eyes that see not, ears that hear not, and mouth that speaks not – who are completely uninterested as to what other Ministers are doing or saying, though they are bound by the principle of collective Ministerial responsibility? Read the rest of this entry »

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Cabinet meeting yesterday a great disappointment as it did not address anyone of the five central issues I had highlighted in my email to Najib – in particular on emergency; Special Parliament and RCI on Flood Disaster Management Preparedness

The Cabinet yesterday, the first in three weeks since the worst floods catastrophe in living memory which has claimed at least 23 lives, evacuated a quarter of a million flood victim to relief centres, affected over a million people and caused losses to the tune of billions of ringgit, is a great disappointment and letdown.

It failed to address anyone of the five central issues of the floods catastrophe I had highlighted in my email to the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak on Sunday, in particular on the declaration of a state of emergency to more efficiently and swiftly deal with the post-flood challenges and dangers, the convening of a Special Parliament and a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Floods Disaster Management Preparedness, apart from setting up a Barisan Nasional-Pakatan Rakyat Flood Action Council and the allocation of RM500 million as interest-free loans to the flood victims to start life and business anew, ranging from RM1,000 to RM250,000 loans.

When Deputy Prime Minister and the Chairman of the National Security Council, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was in Kelantan on Tuesday to chair the Kelantan post-flood co-ordination plan committee, he said the damage to public properties amounted to RM932.4 million, but the damage data reported by the various ministries and government agencies in the following cases have already exceeded RM1.6 billion, viz:

(i) Damaged school properties in Kelantan and other states – RM500 million;

(ii) Repair of damaged roads and slopes – RM434 million;

(iii) Repair of damaged railway stations and tracks – RM250 million;

(iv) Ministry of Local Government clean-up operations only in Kelantan: RM200 million;

(v) Ministry of Health repair to hospitals and clinics – RM270 million

(vi) Repair of damaged police stations – RM15 million.

Not all Ministries and government agencies have announced their damage assessments and the above are not the final estimates of the of repair needed to restore to the position pre-flood situation. Read the rest of this entry »


Purging misogyny from Malaysian politics

By Syerleena Abdul Rashid
Jan 7, 2015

DAP made Malaysian history last month, by setting a minimum 30 percent women’s quota at the central executive committee (CEC) level. Many regard this as a positive step that will encourage more women to participate in politics, especially at decision-making levels.

Wanita DAP chief Chong Eng aptly described it as “an important step to begin paving the way for more women leaders, and thus policies that are reflective of women’s interests”.

Sadly, both PKR and PAS are still lagging in terms of women representation in politics. Even though PKR amended its constitution in 2009, which included a 30 percent quota for women representation at all levels, the party has yet to achieve this.

Meanwhile according to PAS’ Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud, PAS’ men leaders and part of the women leaders “are not ready to impose such a quota” – even if this was the wish of the party’s women’s wing.

Such reports are upsetting, but change is not impossible. The role of women in local politics must be given greater emphasis, and this can only been done by changing the mindset of our society.

I concur with Wanita PKR chief Zuraida Kamaruddin’s statement that although the party – and to an extent, the Pakatan Rakyat coalition – has successfully attracted numerous capable women, unfortunately, quite a number of women are still somewhat reluctant to “step up” and take on leadership roles. Read the rest of this entry »

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Fears grow over fallout from Petrobras corruption scandal

Samantha Pearson in São Paulo
Financial Times
January 7, 2015

Fears are growing over the systemic impact of the corruption scandal at Petrobras, Brazil’s state oil producer, as one of the construction firms linked to the allegations edges closer to default and the country’s credit rating comes under pressure.

OAS, which is building the world’s third-largest dam and revamping São Paulo’s international airport, has missed two debt payments over the past week after the scandal restricted its access to funding, forcing it to preserve cash to pay for operations.

Analysts said that similar difficulties across Brazil’s construction and oil industries could have knock-on effects on the world’s second-largest emerging market economy, especially if Petrobras itself cannot regain access to capital markets.

“The risk is that the government would have to provide financial support to Petrobras in the event of an acceleration of debt,” Mauro Leos, Moody’s sovereign analyst for Brazil, told the Financial Times. Such a scenario “could lead to a credit event”, affecting Brazil’s sovereign credit rating, he added.

The warning comes as President Dilma Rousseff is battling to protect Brazil’s coveted investment grade rating with a series of market-friendly measures — efforts that could be obscured by the prospect of bailing out Petrobras, Mr Leos said.

With more than $139bn in total debt, Petrobras ranks as the world’s most indebted oil producer, but it retains an investment grade credit rating. Read the rest of this entry »

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