Thursday, March 31, 2016
GEORGE TOWN: A Penang Umno leader wants police to investigate the link between a former city councillor and businesswoman Phang Li Koon, the previous owner of a bungalow sold to Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.
State Umno Youth vice-chairman Jasmin Noordin said Tan Chiew Choon, a former councillor with the Penang Island City Council is currently a senior manager with a foreign employment agency co-owned by Phang.
“We want police to investigate the Tan and Phang connection.
“Phang holds a 20 per cent share with Windbond Management & Consultant Sdn Bhd.
“The remaining 80 per cent share is held by a Tang Yong Chew, who in turn holds a 70 per cent share in Kuala Lumpur International Dental Centre Sdn Bhd (KLIDC),” he said outside of the Pattani Road police station here today.
Jasmin did not elaborate on Tan and Phang’s links, saying instead he preferred to leave it to the police to investigate. He lodged a report at 9am.
KLIDC won the open tender bid for the 0.4 ha Taman Manggis government land in 2010 while Phang sold Lim the bungalow he was previously renting from her in Jalan Pinhorn, George Town for RM2.8 million, allegedly below market value.
In a recent Parliamentary sitting, Shabudin Yahaya, MP for Tasek Gelugor, quoted a figure of RM6-RM6.5 million for comparable houses.
Phang, in a statutory declaration following the revelation, said she had no links with Lim or his government, and did not receive any benefits from the state administration.
Lim meanwhile has also repeatedly denied any wrongdoing in the transaction.
Meanwhile, Tan told FMT that he would reserve his comments as he was not aware a police report had even been lodged.
LUMUT: A Filipino married couple were among 18 foreigners detained in an operation at Taman Samudera, Manjung, here early today for alleged involvement in a syndicate which falsify personal documents.
National Registration Department (NRD) Director (Investigation and Enforcement) Mohamad Yusri Hashim said the couple was detained after authorities found hundreds of copies of identity cards and birth certificates in their house.
The team also found false Construction Industry Development Board (CIDB) cards in the house, he added.
“We believe they have been involved in falsifying of personal documents for a long time, but it went undetected because they keep moving from one house to another,” he told reporters after the operation which ended about 7 am today.
The operation which began about midnight involved NRD officers from Putrajaya and Perak, and also the State Immigration Department.
Mohamad Yusri said the couple would be detained for investigation under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act and the Prevention of Crime Act.
The others would be detained for possession of false identity cards or identity cards belonging to others, he added.
Kinabatangan MP Bung Moktar Raden gets a lesson in democracy from Asia's top debater Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman who said democratic process does not stop after voters elect their representatives.
In fact, it is a continuous process to ensure the elected representatives do not deviate from their promises.
Syed Saddiq said this in his Facebook posting after Bung challenged him to contest in an election in order to debate with the controversial Umno man from Sabah.
He added that all Malaysians have the right to question the government of the day.
“The right is enshrined in the Federal Constitution with freedom of speech (Article 10) that helps to define us as a nation which is free. It is our patriotic duty to voice out against any element of corruption in our beloved nation.
“I also believe if we apply Bung Moktar's principle, more than a million people would have to stand for election in Pekan (Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's seat) alone,” Syed Saddiq said.
Bung had challenged Syed Saddiq to contest in the election if he wants to debate, and they can do so in Parliament if he wins.
The lawmaker added that he is not interested in debating with Syed Saddiq.
According to Bung, being a good debater does not mean one is good at everything.
“If he’s really interested, find a place to contest in the election and I will debate him in Dewan Rakyat,” Bung told The Star Online on Friday.
The MP was reported to be puzzled as to why Syed Saddiq wanted to debate with him on 1MDB, saying the debater "is someone who thinks he is smart".
“He’s just stirring up the youth into hating the government. As ‘Asia’s top debater’ icon, he should be well behaved, charismatic, and be of good character. He’s a good leader, but the way he carries himself is no different from youths and teens with no direction in life,” said Bung.
He also decried Syed Saddiq’s choice of debate topics, saying "if you want to know about the RM2.6 billion political donation, The Wall Street Journal already agreed and confirmed the money is from Saudi Arabia".
“Then regarding 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), I think Arul Kanda Kandasamy is ready for Syed Saddiq anytime he wants,” Bung added.
Defeats purpose of democracy
Syed Saddiq said as a normal human being, he expects anyone to correct him if he was wrong.
“If I had done a criminal offence, report me to the authorities. But do not deny my right to speak up, as I merely want to find the truth,” he added.
“I am aggrieved by Bung's challenge to contest in an election against him. If anyone who dares to question a politician must run for election, it defeats the purpose of democracy,” he said, adding that the lawmaker must realise that as a politician, he is there to serve the people and not a ruler who is free from criticism.
Syed Saddiq reminded Bung that it is the people who voted him and they can take away his power.
“Hence, my advice is do not be too arrogant as the election is far away. In the mean time, I would like to invite YB to have a debate or dialogue session with me. It will be about 1MDB or SRC (International Sdn Bhd) or RM2.6 billion (many more, who knows...).
“This can be done in the open or private, that's your choice, At least you will know what many of the rakyat are feeling now,” he said, ending his posting by saying that he hoped Bung has fully recovered from his surgery. -Mkini
A strong earthquake with a preliminary magnitude of 6.1 struck off the coast of Mie Prefecture, part of the Kansai region on the main Honshu island of Japan, the weather agency said today, although no tsunami warning has been issued, China's Xinhua news agency reported.
According to the Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA), the temblor was relatively shallow at a depth of just 10km, with the epicentre located at 33.4 degrees north latitude and 136.4 degrees east longitude, and struck at 11.39am.
While local media broadcast pictures of shaking buildings, the weather agency said that no tsunami warning had been issued following the quake, which registered level 4 on Japan's seismic intensity scale which peaks at 7.
As of 12 noon there had been no reports of injury or damage to buildings or other infrastructure, or disruption to transport networks, Xinhua said.
Mie Prefecture has some 1,000km of Pacific coastline and while commonly regarded as being in Kansai, is also in the Tokai region of Japan.
What are the common denominations of public entities such as Employees Provident Fund (EPF), Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (Diperbadankan) (KWAP), Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera (LTAT), Tabung Haji and Social Security Organization (Socso)? Yes, they are part of our social security funds.
Each of these funds is regulated by its own special legislation. Each law was specifically designed in order to ensure the organisation would operate within the specified boundaries which were prescribed for it.
Since the sources of these funds originate from the people, it goes without saying that the money should only be used and utilised for the specified purposes designed for them. In a nutshell, these funds are the trust funds.
It is common knowledge that on many occasions, we have witnessed how these social security funds were arbitrarily used, going beyond the mandated scope, such as bailing out certain ambiguous and dubious businesses.
In a society where the principles of accountability, transparency and trustworthiness is extremely low, the social security funds can become easy prey of ferocious political predators.
We have seen how a sizable chunk of money from EPF, KWAP, LTAT and Tabung Haji were arbitrarily used before in order to bail out some irresponsible elements in the country.
Fortunately, so far, we have not heard of or seen any bailout coming from the Socso's fund. It is everybody's wish and hope, especially the contributors to the fund, that Socso will forever keep on track insofar as the management of the workers' money is concerned.
Whether the Socso's huge and valuable assets remain secured and safe is questionable now, given the fact that some controversial amendments have been introduced by BN government to the Employees' Social Security Act 1969 ("Act"). A new section of 74a,which is inserted in the Act, has raised some eyebrows due to its deep impact on the security of the fund.
I don't have the current figures of Socso's assets but according to the Socso annual report of 2014, the value of its current assets (mostly cash) was RM 11 billion and its non current assets stood at RM 11billion. With the new amendments of the Act, all the employees, regardless of their salaries, are obligated to contribute to Socso. Be that as it may, we expect its current assets would be steadily increased manifold.
The new provision of section 74a allows Socso to establish or take over any company, with the approval of Minister of Human Resources and Minister of Finance respectively.
Two days were allocated by Parliament for the debate and ministerial reply respectively on the amendments of the Act. Many Pakatan Harapan members of parliament (MPs) who participated in the debate, I included, strenuously objected to this controversial section of 74a. As expected, BN MPs accepted this section without demur.
Apart from section 74a, many also raised the issue of the removal of Bank Negara's representative from the Socso's panel of investment. The government justified such a removal by using the excuse of conflict of interest. We raised legitimate concerns that such a removal would jeopardise the internal mechanism of checks and balance.
But my focus in this article is more on the new section of 74a. As far as I am concerned, this provision has far reaching repercussions on the survivability and longevity of this social security fund.
Room for misappropriation
Our reason for the objection was very clear. Why should the government drag Socso to do something which it was not designed for in the first place? Why is there a need to derail Socso from its original objectives and statutory functions? What is the underlying rationale stimulating the government to introduce such a mind-boggling provision?
We believe all these questions are legitimate and they demand truthful and honest answers from the government, considering the sizable chunk of money in Socso’s fund.
When I debated, I raised the concerns that this new section would possibly expose the trust money in the Socso fund to a very high risk. Not only that. Section 74a, I contended, would also possibly give room for the misappropriation of such a fund for any undesignated purpose. Using the fund for establishing or taking over any company is definitely outside the purview of Socso’s roles and functions.
In my debate, I queried the minister, "Can you give us the guarantee or assurance that not even a single penny would be taken from the Socso’s fund for the purpose of establishing and running a new company or taking over any existing company?”
Unfortunately, the minister did not answer my question. In fact, many other questions by my colleagues also remained unanswered.
I dare to say that the way minister replied to our questions, he seemed to have lost direction and gone off tangent so much so we had a hard time understanding him, let alone his reasons.
When we asked him what was really the rationale for allowing Socso to establish or take over a company, his reply was, "Socso established a rehab centre in Malacca and I have visited the place. When I looked at the patients therein, my tears fell down."
An irrelevant reply to a fairly simple question. With such a reply, I believe, all the Malaysians have more reasons to be concerned with the future of the Socso's fund.
MOHAMED HANIPA MAIDIN is Sepang MP. -Mkini
COMMENT You can call him brave and praise him for keeping his word. I would agree. Call him foolish? That, I would not disagree.
Let's meet Rafizi Ramli, the PKR vice-president and Pandan MP. He is a first-term parliamentarian, a young and vibrant politician.
He has done a great job for the opposition, keeping the ruling BN on its toes.
However, you can see a certain amount of political immaturity when he exposed a classified document under Official Secrets Act (OSA) purportedly linking the Armed Forces Fund Board (LTAT) with problematic sovereign fund 1MDB.
The MP alleged that the document proved that LTAT’s ability to pay gratuity to armed forces retirees was compromised by late-payments from 1MDB to the military retirement fund’s subsidiary for an airbase redevelopment and relocation project.
According to Rafizi, he was forced to reveal the OSA information after LTAT refused to answer his queries.
I did say to my colleague: “This fella has threatened to expose it twice. He’d better keep his word.”
He kept his words all right. For that, he can be investigated possibly under Section 8(1) of the OSA, an offence which is punishable with imprisonment for up to seven years, if convicted.
Whether Rafizi knew exactly what he was doing does not really matter now. He did what he did. His fight for the army veterans would certainly win many hearts. But was it a wise move? Did he make a mistake?
For me, the simple rule of thumb is this: If you are a lawmaker (or anyone for that matter), don’t intentionally break the law. However, if you choose to do so, make sure you know the consequences and willing to face it.
At times like this, the question arises whether we should all always obey the law.
St Thomas Aquinas said that human law ought to be obeyed unless it contravened natural law. Something to ponder, but I don’t wish to go into the subject of jurisprudence and argue whether there is a moral duty to obey the law. That’s another topic for another day.
Rafizi is not the first politician to do so and certainly won’t be the last. In history, some had their political careers cut short for breaking the law and others became top leaders, even presidents and prime ministers - after much suffering.
Inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar has said the police are checking if the document falls under the OSA. He said if it is proven to be an OSA document, then they would have no choice but to take action based on law.
Will he face the full brunt of the law?
Will Rafizi, who is in his late 30s, face the full brunt of the law? Time will tell.
I was also asked what would happen if the document is declassified. Can Rafizi escape prosecution?
On that, I pointed to the ever powerful words in the federal constitution - Article 145(3) - which gives the attorney-general the discretion to institute, conduct or discontinue any proceedings for an offence.
It is fair to say that Rafizi is now at the mercy of AG’s discretionary power (some say absolute), the very power which exonerated Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak of wrongdoings.
Rafizi, I am sure you gave a deep thought before you exposed the details of a classified document. But you have to get real.
You are more valuable outside prison than inside, counting bars. We already have one prisoner of conscience in Sungai Buloh.
You must be around to fight another day. Take it from me, there are people who are disappointed with you. These are your supporters.
Having said that, it is good to have politicians like Rafizi in our midst. Like many, he is someone who is known to fight for justice. But unfortunately, justice itself is another subjective matter.
Law and justice - it’s serious stuff, and yet can be funny!
I don’t know whether Rafizi would read this article or agree with some of things I’ve said. It’s just a small piece of advice.
Nobody knows what the future holds for him, something he must be pondering now. But I do hope he can come out of this so that he can continue pursuing his dreams, whatever that may be.
I like Rafizi the politician, although some may say I am not supposed to. Well, he studied in Malay College Kuala Kangsar, and I am a hardcore Old Cliffordian (seriously-rival schools, you see). Now I am being foolish here.
Whatever it is, I still consider Rafizi prime minister material.
I am just afraid he may not be able to contest the next general election.
G JEGATHESAN is a member of Team Malaysiakini.
Former ex-premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad took a breather from plotting to oust Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, to catch renown pianist Richard Clayderman in concert last night.
He was spotted with his wife Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali and former culture minister Sabbaruddin Chik at concert at Istana Budaya in Kuala Lumpur.
Speaking to Malaysiakini, he said he wanted to find some peace in the midst of his busy daily routine.
“I feel calmer after attending the Richard Clayderman concert.
“Such concerts bring a lot of good to the local music industry and should be conducted more often,” he said.
Mahathir has been on the forefront of the ‘Save Malaysia’ agenda to topple Najib, for alleged corruption.
If Mahathir’s presence in their midst was not excitement enough, lucky audience members last night managed to go home with a copy of Clayderman’s music sheets.
The pianist flung his sheets to the audience three times during the show, which saw him play 14 of his hits, while accompanied by the National Symphony Orchestra.
The hits include Murmures, A Comme Amour, Eleana, Ballade pur Adeline, Corazon de Niño, Coup De Coeur, Root Beer Rag, Simfonia Titanic and Dream a Little Dream of me.
Clayderman’s 90-minute performance was interspersed with the pianist’s funny antics given Frenchman’s lack of English fluency.
A gunman was reported to have fired six shots at the prison guardhouse in Alor Star and another four at the watchtower at 10.45 last night.
Prison warden Mohd Fitri Abdul Zaman, 31, said he was on duty alone at the guardhouse when he realised the presence of two men on a motorcycle about 10 metres away.
"At the time I was seated inside and saw one of the men get down from the motorcycle and fire six shots at the guardhouse. The suspect then fired four shots at the watchtower," he told Bernama in Alor Star today.
He was not hit by any of the shots as he had immediately got down and laid flat on the floor; the two guards at the watchtower were also not hit.
"The two suspects then left and I immediately contacted the prison officer who then informed the police," Mohd Fitri said.
Meanwhile, Kedah Criminal Investigation Department chief SAC Mohd Nashir Ya said police received a report on the incident at 11.02pm.
"The case is being investigated under Section 307 of the Penal Code, for murder attempt," Nashir said.