Sunday, August 20, 2006

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Najib's wife, Rosmah Mansor, will be chancellor of Unisel

Najib's wife, Rosmah Mansor, is going to be proclaimed as the chancellor of Universiti Industri Selangor (Unisel) on Augsut 21, 2006!
I have received the invitation to attend the proclamation ceremony to be held at the Grand Lagoon Ballroom, Level 15 of the Sunway Lagoon Resort Hotel.

But I am puzzled.
What academic credentials and achievement does Rosmah Mansor have, besides being the wife of the Deputy Prime Minister, to become the chancellor of Unisel, a university owned by Kumpulan Darul Ehsan Selangor (KDEB) which is Selangor state investment arm?
According to the agenda of the ceremony, Selangor Menteri Besar, Khir Toyo, will deliver the appointment speech after the proclamation is made and followed by the acceptance speech by Rosmah Mansor.
I was informed that the Selangor state executive council (Exco) was not informed of the choice of the chancellor and of course did not discuss it although decision had been made and invitation sent out.
If this were to be true, that would mean Khir Toyo, who is also the chairman of KDEB, had approved it without even informing the state exco.
Why is Rosmah Mansor? Is it because she is the wife of the next Prime Minister Malaysia?
How would Rosman's appointment enchance the quality and image of tertairy education in Malaysia? Let's Khir Toyo tell the people.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

PSM lost in Court of Appeal

Tommy Thomas, Ragunathan Kesavan and I were unable to convince to Court of Appeal to allow the Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) led by Dr Mohd Nasir Hashim to be registered as a national political party.
Dato Gapal Sri Ram in his judgment, as concurred by the other 2 judges, ruled that the Registrar of Societies was not unreasonble to request that 7 representatives from different states were required in the pro-tem committee in order to register as a political party at the national leve.
However, the court ruled that the second ground of national security as alleged by the Minister of Home Affairs, was unsupported by any evidence and as such the ground of national security was bad in rejecting the application.
As the ground of national security was not the overriding factor that refused the application, the decision of the Minister of Home Affairs to reject the application on the first ground was upheld .

The Malaysiakini reported as follows:-

No injustice has been occasioned in the government’s refusal to register Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) as a national political party, the Court of Appeal ruled in an unanimous decision today in dismissing an appeal from the pro-tem party.

Justice Gopal Sri Ram said that, “it is crystal clear that the reason advanced on grounds of national security was not the predominant reason for the minister’s decision”. This was one of two main points of contention, the other involving registration criteria which the court upheld.

“It (national security) stands as a separate and distinct ground for refusing registration at the national level. It is not entangled and mixed up with other reasons. It did not therefore materially affect the decision based on grounds of departmental policy,” he told a courtroom packed with PSM supporters.

“Accordingly, this is a case in which the minister’s decision to deny PSM registration at the national level may be upheld, and I would do so.” He dismissed the appeal with costs.

Party supporters were visibly upset on hearing the unanimous decision of the three-member bench, which also comprised Justices Mohd Ghazali Mohd Yusoff and Hashim Yusoff.

Elaborating on the government’s argument that “national security” was at risk if registration were granted to the socialist party, Gopal said there was “not a scintilla of evidence” to show that issues of national security were involved.

“All we have is the mere ipse dixit (unsupported assertion) of the minister based on information given by the police to him, nothing else. On the authorities this is insufficient, the appellant’s complaint is therefore justified,” he said.

The appellant, PSM pro-tem chairperson Dr Nasir Hashim, had sought to set aside the home minister’s written order rejecting the application for registration and to direct for a registration within seven days.

Seven representatives

In his 34-page judgement today, Gopal said he was satisfied with the departmental policy stated by the Registrar of Societies (ROS) in relation to the requirement for the registration of a national political party.

The ROS requires a national-level political party to have representatives in at least seven states, failing which the party will only be registered at the state level. The appellant had contested this, saying the requirement is baseless and exceeds constitutional provisions regulating freedom of association.

Gopal, however, ruled that it was not unreasonable exercise of the statutory power conferred upon the ROS under Section 7 of the Societies Act.

“Since Malaysia has 13 states, the ROS probably had in mind that a political party seeking registration at the national level must seek to represent 50 percent plus one state in the federation,” said the judge.

“There is nothing unreasonable about this. Some policy is necessary to guide conferred by Section 7 (of the Societies Act), otherwise it may become an unprincipled discretion.”

The judge stressed that no injustice had been occasioned in the refusal to grant PSM registration. “The ROS granted PSM registration in the state of Selangor. As advised by counsel on both sides, this does not prevent PSM from contesting in national elections, neither is PSM prevented from seeking registration at the national level if it is able to meet the ROS’ requirement.

“So, even if the ROS and the minister were wrong in refusing PSM national level registration - and I hasten to add that they were not - no injustice has been occasioned. This underpins the nature of judicial review.

“It is not enough that a decision of a public decision maker is not in accordance with law. The error must be one that has caused an applicant for judicial review some harm or injustice in a broad and general sense.”

The appellant was represented by Tommy Thomas, Ragunath Kesavan (photo) and Teng Chang Kim while the government was represented by senior federal counsel Mary Lim, who was recently promoted as the industrial court president.

Watching briefs are being held for the Bar Council by Amer Hamzah Arshad, M Vengkatraman for the Malaysian Human Rights Society and Edward Saw for local human rights watchdog Suaram.

‘We’re not disheartened’

Outside the courtroom, Nasir vowed to fight on. With him were some 80 PSM members and supporters, some of whom had arrived from Perak and Seremban this morning.

“We will appeal, we are not disheartened. We feel sad but this is not the end. We know we will face all these problems but we will never stop fighting or be affected by this, we will go on to do what is right,” Nasir said.

He said he would re-submit seven names to the ROS, to meet the criteria of representation in the states. PSM has claimed that it complied with this requirement earlier but that the ROS did not clarify such representation should be based on addresses based on place of birth or work.

Pro-tem secretary-general S Arutchelvan said the verdict was a minor victory as it cleared a major hurdle for the party - over the national security threat - ahead of its next appeal to the federal court.

But he registered disappointment with the decision, saying: “Article 10 (freedom of association) is a fundamental right. By not allowing PSM to be registered, what is the state implying? Do they want us to go underground? It doesn’t make sense at all.”

Ragunath, meanwhile, described the reason for dismissing the appeal as based on a “feeble reason”, since it did not go into the merits of the application.

Since the formal application in April 1998 which was rejected in September 1999, PSM and its supporters have persisted on a long-haul struggle to be registered and recognised. The home minister then was Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is now the prime minister.

In a judgment on Jan 13, 2003, the Kuala Lumpur High Court agreed with the government’s policy of non-compliance and national security to reject PSM’s application for judicial review.

The case is the first time a political party has sought judicial review of the government’s rejection of an application to register itself.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Forum on Mahathir vs Abdullah in Kota Baru

(Tian Chua)
I attended the forum on "Mahathir versus Abdullah" as speaker organized by Keadilan together with Keadilan Publicity Director, Tian Chua, in Kota Baru on Aug 12, 2006.
About 100 people attended and respoended warmly to our speeches and the answers to their quiries from 8.15 pm to 10.30 pm.
Before the forum, the Kelantan Pas Non-Muslims Liaison Committee Chairman, P.K. Foo, offered us a "bak-kut-teh" (pork with herbal soup) dinner in the Kota Baru downtown, once propagandized by the MCA as the no-pork zone after the PAS took over the state government in 1990.

(From the left, P.K. Foo, myself and Tian Chua having "bak-kut-teh" in Kota Baru)

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

RM12 million diverted from PISB

I held a press conference on Monday on Perangsang International Sdn Bhd again. Below is the report by the Malaysiakini today.
RM12 mil ‘missing’ from PISB records
Kuek Ser Kuang KengAug 9, 06 11:31am

Did the Selangor government divert RM12.11 million in revenue from Perangsang International Sdn Bhd (PISB) to other channels after the subsidiary company was sold? Teng Chang Khim, the DAP assemblyperson for Sungai Pinang, has claimed to have obtained new information showing that the sum was due to PISB from completed projects. However, the revenue was not recorded in relevant documents, he told malaysiakini.
This, he said, has raised suspicion that moves were made to relieve PISB of financial liability and to divert its revenue before it was sold to a ‘shell company’. It was then renamed and liquidated in 2004, apparently in order to free the state government of creditors and losses.

Teng said he has submitted the information to the Securities Commission (SC). It is already investigating issues linked to delayed construction of the Malaysian External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) building, for which PISB was the original contractor.
Explaining, Teng said PISB could have claimed a retention sum and performance bond amounting to
RM12,110,937.98 this year from two unrelated projects.
The first was the Sungai Selangor Water Supply Scheme Phase 3, for which the performance bond and retention sum amounted to RM3,330,468.99. It was completed in June 2004.
The second project was a distribution piping system in Bukit Badong Phase 1 and 2, for which the retention sum was RM5,450,000.00. This was completed last year. (A performance bond and retention sum are deposits paid by a contractor when it is awarded a government project.
Both deposits are only refunded when the project is completed without defects.)
‘Allegation proved’
PISB - a subsidiary company of the Selangor government’s investment arm Kumpulan Hartanah Selangor Bhd (KHSB) - was awarded a contract in 1994 to construct the Matrade building by 1997.
By the time the building was completed last month by other contractors, the cost had shot up to RM287.5 million, with RM64.8 million being spent on repairs and another RM95 million owed in late delivery charges.
In the meantime, PISB was sold to RM2 ‘shell company’ Tajuk Modal Sdn Bhd, which was later renamed and wound up before it could be forced to pay off its debts. This not only freed the company from paying a penalty of RM159.8 million imposed by the federal government, but also a debt of
RM22 million to creditors.
Teng claimed that the sum was not recorded either in the KHSB financial report 2004 or the acquisition agreement between KHSB and Tajuk Modal.
In fact, the acquisition agreement states that all projects handled by PISB had been completed and that there would be ‘no further revenue’ to be claimed by PISB.
“This information proves my allegation that this was a plan premeditated since 2003 by the state government,” alleged Teng, He had earlier questioned if the sale, renaming and winding-up process was intended to ‘cheat’ the federal government of compensation.
The Anti-Corruption Agency and Companies Commission of Malaysia are other agencies involved in investigations, following Teng’s reports lodged in June.
Work Minister S Samy Vellu has pledged to get to the bottom of the matter and take action against the PISB directors.
The KHSB management has remained tightlipped, while one of the two directors of Tajuk Modal has claimed that he knows nothing about the deal.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Penang UMNO Youth wants CM post rotated

Penang UMNO Youth raised an old issue today (Malaysiakini). They wanted the Penang Chief Minister post to be rotated among the state Barisan Nasional component parties. There are a few state BN component parties in Penang, namely, the Gerakan which presently holding the CM post, UMNO, MCA and MIC.
There is nothing wrong in their reasoning, on the face of it. However, if one peruses further, the UMNO Youth, like their forefathers in UMNO, are only interested to take all major political posts to satisfy their shameless political greed.
The UMNO Youth loves to take about and always holds tightly to racial quota systems. But then, on the same token, why can't they allow only 1 out of 13 chief minister posts to be held by a non-UMNO leaders in the BN?
When UMNO attempted to win power in Sabah, they promised and subsequently implemented the rotation system for the chief minister post in Sabah. But not for too long after that, UMNO's greed for power and racist instinct rear their ugly heads and now the chief minister post belong to UMNO solely. No more rotation, fairness or sharing of powers.
They always uphold the racial quota system based on the racial proportion in the country. But at the same time, they have no complaint when none of the vice-chancellorships of the local universities have ever been given to the non-Malays since independence. They have never questioned why, after we took over from the British, non-Malays in this country have never been qualified to be appointed to the highest offices in the judiciary (except for the first one), army, security force, public service and etc.
I have no qualm if a non-Chinese were to be the Penang Chief Minister. After all, why should the post be reserved for the Chinese only? The same applies to other states in Malaysia governed by the BN where only UMNO-Malays seem to be qualified. I am talking about meritocracy and nation building. Discard the racial policy. Get the best man or woman to do the job.
The present episode again manifests the fact that the UMNO Youth does not seem to have grown up since the 1940's although they are now led by the Cambridge, Oxford and other British graduates. That is sad, for the UMNO, and the country.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Monorail and second bridge for Penang, no credit to Gerakan

As the New Straits Times today succintly put it, "[t]he long suffering people of Penang, held ransom by taxi drivers and poor bus service, will get an alternative — the monorail.", the monorail and the second bridge project have certainly been overdue.
A businessman, Swaran Singh, told the New Straits Times that the "people have been tolerating on the traffic jams on the existing Penang bridge for the last ten years".
All point to the same direction, the governments have been slow to response to the needs of the people in Penang.
As usual, we will see that soon after the Prime Minister is highly praised for his vision on the Penang development, the Gerakan will launch a campaign to praise its state government led by Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon for bringing development to Penang.
This is imperative for the Gerakan. Koh Tsu Koon's 16-year record as Chief Minister for Penang since 1990 has been dismal compared to his predecessor, Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu.
Chong Eu was proclaimed the leader who had brought new lease of life to Penang by bringing in the electronic industry after Penang lost its status as the free port in the 1970s'. The Komtar skyscraper and the Penang bridge have been known as the landmarks for Chong Eu's contribution to the state. They were the contents and missions of the Gerakan's election manifesto accomplished.
The subsequent question is: what has Tsu Koon done for Penang for the past 16 years?
Tsu Koon or the Gerakan did not pledge anything concrete to the people in the past election since 1990. As such, they did not achieve anything concrete.
The Gerakan has to rely heavily on the monorail and the second bridge to boost Tsu Koon's image in Penang not only because Tsu Koon needs to be seen to go over to the federal cabinet with a big bang after Keng Yaik's retirement but more importantly both the projects will help the Gerakan retain its power in Penang considering the poor performance the Gerakan has in Penang under Tsu Koon's leadership.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

DAP Kuching dinner attracted 1500

DAP Kuching branch organized an open-air dinner last Saturday evening and attracted a crowd of 1,500 supporters, a record for the DAP Kuching.
This was the first dinner organized after the DAP Sarawak won its historic 6 seats in the Sarawak state election on May 20. All the 6 DAP elected representatives attended the dinner and spoke to the jubilant crowd.
Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, and I attended the dinner as speakers from the DAP Central Executive Committee (CEC).

Where is Mahathir's moral authority?

While speaking in Kota Bahru last Friday, Tun Mahathir again hit at Abdullah, his family and his advisors, as reported by Malaysiakini today.
No one would say Mahathir did not do the right things by raising those issues. However, if one looked closely, it would be discovered that those were some of the issues raised against Mahathir himself during his tenure as Prime Minister for as long as 22 years.
What did mahthir do when the similar accusations were hurled against him? He did not do anything special to address those issues.
In short, although those issues were of public interest and required Abdullah's response, Mahathir had lost the moral authority to raise them and claimed hero for so doing.
Mahathir said there was freedom of press during his time as Prime Minister but he had forgotten that the Printing and Publication Act has been hanging over the heads of the press every days all these years. What is the difference?
He accused Abdullah's son for his involvement in business. This sound familiar when his son was similarly accused of not too long ago.
Mahathir has not, until today, suggested a revamp in the system to which he was once part of it. The present poor governance is a continuation of a system tightly controlled by him for 22 years. Unless Mahathir is prepared to admit that, he cannot be percieved as being honest and genuine in his criticism.
(Photograph by courtesy of Malaysiakini)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

New PJ court house on the way

On March 20, I wrote on the condition of the Petaling Jaya court house and I quote:-
It may be a surprise to many but the cruel fact is that there is no civil court in Petaling Jaya! All civil matters within the jurisdiction of subordinate courts, namely the Sessions Court which has the jurisdiction to adjudicate matters involve disputed sum below RM250,00.00 and the Magistrate's Court which has the jurisdiction to try matters below the sum of RM25,000.00, will have to be filed in Shah Alam courts. I have yet to come across any city in the world that does not have a civil court within its local jurisdiction.
The present court house for criminal matters is in a pathetic condition. The Sessions Court and Magistrate's Court (1) and Court (2) are housed in the main court house with court (1) in a container-like structure and court (2) at the first floor of an old buiding within the same compound. Magistrate's Court (3) is in the Federal House building about 500 meters away and the Municipal Court is being housed under the MPPJ multi-level car park next to the hawker centre also about 500 meter from the main court house.

I attended Petaling Jaya court this morning and found that the government had started to construct a new court complex at the car park adjacent to the present court house. According to the signboard at the site, the work is expected to be completed by August next year. That is a good news!