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Tuesday, June 30, 2015

ASK LIOW, SAYS RTD: Who are the CRONIES, is Patriot plate another Umno-BN get-rich-quick scam?

ASK LIOW, SAYS RTD: Who are the CRONIES, is Patriot plate another Umno-BN get-rich-quick scam?
Yayasan Patriot Negara Malaysia (YPN) is targeting between RM10 million and RM15 million in profit from selling a set of vanity vehicle number plates bearing the word "Patriot".
However, this scheme is raising eyebrows because the auction for the number plates is being conducted by an obscure NGO and not by the government.
Furthermore, the reserve price for "Patriot 1" is RM1 million, which will make it the most expensive vehicle number plate in Malaysian history.
According to recent news reports, the Road Transport Department (RTD) commissioned YPN to conduct the auction. Proceeds are to be used by YPN to promote "patriotism".
Successful bidders will be issued a letter by YPN that will be exchanged for their number plate at the RTD headquarters in Wangsa Maju, Kuala Lumpur.
When contacted, YPN deputy chairperson Nadzim Johan (photo) revealed the NGO's financial goals from this scheme, but declined to elaborate on how profits would be shared with RTD.
"We hope we can get as much as possible to finance our activities," Nadzim said.
Five vying for Patriot 1
He revealed that there have been five bids for the "Patriot 1" plate. At the time of writing, the bid had reached RM1.3 million. The bids can be viewed on the YPN website.
Thus far, the record holder for the most expensive car number plate is Sultan Ibrahim Ismail, the Sultan of Johor, who paid RM520,000 for the "WWW 1" number plate in 2012. Two years later, Sultan Ibrahim won the 'W1N' registration number with a bid of RM748,000.
To participate in the YPN auction, one will have to pay a RM20 membership fee to become a member of Briged Patriot, according to the YPN website.
Details of the membership, such as obligations and responsibilities, are not listed.
Upon placing a bid, a 20 percent deposit based on the bid would have to be placed. The deposit is refundable if the bid is lost.
Bidding started on June 1 and ends today.
RTD remains tight-lipped
RTD has not been forthcoming on why such a lucrative business was handed over to YPN.
The department's director-general Ismail Ahmad declined to comment on the matter and said questions should be directed to Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai.
This lack of disclosure has given rise to criticisms and questions on whether cronyism is involved.
When Malaysia's most popular automative blog paultan.org wrote about the scheme, the article was met with scores of comments casting aspersions on the scheme.
"NGO or cronies? Approved by JPJ (RTD). This are indeed fishy," wrote one commentator by the name of ‘George Abdul’.
"When does 1MDB plate start bidding?" wrote another with the handle ‘cendol’.
"Bidding starts at RM42, RM4,200 and RM42,000 and RM420,000 and RM42 million and RM42 billion," said another commentator with the handle ‘Irresponsible Government’.
‘Umno man involved’
It is clear that these commentators believed that the scheme has some form of political involvement, a charge that Nadzim denied.
Nadzim explained that YPN was established in April 2013 to promote programmes to foster unity among Malaysia's multiethnic population and instil patriotism.
One programme is dubbed "Go for three" - a multilingual education campaign to produce students conversant in "at least three languages" to help break language barriers in Malaysia, he said.
"It has nothing to do with politics. We are also fed up with the present political trends. It does not contribute to patriotism nor productivity," he added.
Despite Nadzim's reassurance of YPN's apolitical stance, the group's list of office bearers, obtained from the Registry of Societies, shows the group to be led by politically-linked individuals.
YPN is headed by Brig-Gen (R) Husainay Hasim, who was Umno executive secretary when former prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was Umno president.
Nadzim himself is the head of Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia (PPIM), a group which appears friendly with Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
Need for transparency
Cynthia Gabriel
Of the seven-member committee, three of them bear the same paternal name "Nadim Johor". Several of them are involved in PPIM and have waded into the political sphere before.
Muhammad Zharif Johor Nadim Johor lodged a police report against religious preacher Wan Ji Wan Hussin for allegedly "insulting" the monarchy for holding a lecture on Malaysia's prospects as a republic.
PPIM has also called for a boycott of pro-Pakatan Rakyat companies and demanded criminal action against Gerakan member Tan Lai Soon for claiming that Malays were "pendatang".
The group has also called for vernacular schools to be dissolved to foster national unity.
When contacted, Centre to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4) founding director Cynthia Gabriel said the sheer scale of the potential profits by YPN warranted public scrutiny.
"In this case, YPN is dealing with millions of ringgit and therefore, transparency in how the money raised and will eventually be used is of utmost importance.
"Guidelines for monitoring use of the money collected is also crucial in ensuring accountability," Cynthia said. - M'kini

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