Saturday, 31 December 2016

Year in review 2016 - MACC makes record haul in 49 years from top officers of Sabah Water dept

https://youtu.be/BL7sTmRnARk

Azam Baki (L4) and other MACC officials with the cash and jewelry seized, at a press conference on Oct 5, 2016. — BBX

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) landed its biggest haul since it was set up 49 years ago when it seized RM114.5 million from two senior officers from the Sabah Water Department (SWD) in October.

In a year when MACC bared its fangs, the commission detained the director and deputy director of SWD, which is a government department.

The top officials were alleged to have misused their power in handling infrastructure projects valued at RM3.3 billion. MACC also seized some RM53.7 million in cash.

A total of 19 engineers from the department were also arrested for allegedly receiving kickbacks of between 27% and 30% of the value of SWD projects and emergency response work awarded to contractors.

Meanwhile at MACC, Datuk Dzulkifli Ahmad was appointed the new chief commissioner and took his oath of office on Aug 23.

Dzulkifli, the former national revenue recovery enforcement team director from the Attorney-General’s Chambers, succeeded Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed who stepped down as MACC chief commissioner on Aug 1 after being appointed to the Austrian-based International Anti-Corruption Academy as a board member and visiting expert.

MACC director of investigations Datuk Azam Baki was also promoted as deputy chief commissioner (operations), while its community education division director Datuk Shamshun Baharin Mohd Jamil was appointed deputy chief commissioner (prevention).

Meanwhile, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng was investigated by MACC following complaints that he had corruptly purchased a bungalow for a “below market price” of RM2.8 million.

The actual value of the bungalow that Lim bought from a businesswoman Phang Li Koon, was said to be RM4.27 million. He was arrested on June 29 and charged with corruption at the Penang High Court on June 30 but claimed trial.

Statistics revealed that the number of people arrested for corruption from January to September, this year, was 727. This is an increase from 688 in the same period last year.

Other notable corruption cases this year include:

* Jan 18: MACC arrested 14 people, including three Road Transport Department officers, to facilitate investigations into the “sale” of driving licences for between RM2,500 and RM2,800 each in Sarawak. The suspects, aged between 19 and 50, were picked up in an operation in Limbang, Miri, Bintulu and Sibu since Jan 11. They were found to be trying to obtain the licences by submitting false documents to change Brunei driving licences into Malaysian ones.

* Aug 30: The chairman of a bank with the title of “Tan Sri” was remanded for seven days until Sept 5 to assist in the investigation into misappropriation of funds in a RM15 million book publishing contract. Four others, namely the managing director of the same bank with the title of “Datuk”, the bank’s former director of procurement and two publishing company owners were released by MACC on completion of investigations. A total of seven individuals had been arrested by the MACC to assist in investigations in the case. The chairman was charged in the sessions court with criminal breach of trust.

* Sept 20: MACC detained a 55-year-old doctor and 30-year-old general clerk from a district health department for allegedly being involved in fraudulent claims amounting to RM900,000. Johor MACC director Datuk Simi Abd Ghani had stated the suspects were allegedly involved in making 59 payment vouchers for some materials, amounting to RM900,000, between 2015 and 2016. However, the materials never reached the department and the vouchers involved six services’ companies.

*Oct 10: A Datuk Seri and his accomplice were arrested by the MACC for allegedly duping a 58-year-old woman into paying RM125,000 to make changes to erroneous entries in her husband’s death certificate.

The duo had supposedly offered to assist the woman and demanded the huge sum of money from the victim. They had supposedly claimed that the funds were to pay off an officer at the National Registration Department at Putrajaya.

This year, there were a number of charges involving high ranking officers by the MACC.

They included the cases of Kuala Lumpur City Hall project management executive director Datuk Seri Syed Affendy Ali charged with 18 counts of corruption and money laundering involving RM4 million; Kota Baru Tenaga Nasional Berhad manager Arman Che Othman charged with 13 counts corruption and money laundering amounting to RM125,200; and Malacca Public Works Department director Datuk Khalid Omar charged with two counts of corruption and money laundering amounting to RM4 million.

Source: Charles Ramendran newsdesk@thesundaily.com

Related:


Trio slapped with 34 money laundering charges involving more than RM61mil


KOTA KINABALU: A former Sabah Water Department director, his wife and his former deputy were slapped with 34 money laundering charges involving RM61.4mil in what the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission is calling the nation’s biggest graft probe so far.

The former director Ag Mohd Tahir Ag Mohd Talib, 54, was hit with 12 charges for a sum totalling RM56.9mil while his wife Fauziah Piut, 51, faced 19 similar charges involving cash and properties totalling RM2.2mil.

Ag Mohd Tahir’s former deputy Lim Lam Beng, 64, faced four charges involving property and cash totalling RM2.3mil.

All three claimed trial to the charges in the Special Corruption Court after being produced before Sessions Court judge Ummu Kalthom Abdul Samad.

Ag Mohd Tahir was the first to be charged when the hearing began at 10.15am.


 Ag Mohd Tahir Ag Mohd Talib, 54 (former Sabah Water Department director) 12 charges involving RM56.9mil.

He faced eight charges of being in possession of RM56.9mil cash and in four bank accounts, two charges of owning six luxury vehicles and a charge of owning 86 types of branded watches.

He also faced another charge of being directly involved in handing over RM14,000 to an individual, Cristine Fiona M. Ponsoi.

The charges were framed under Section 4(1) (b) and Section 4(1) (a) of the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (AMLA).

Fauziah faced 18 charges for being in possession of more than RM2.2mil in 18 bank accounts. She was also accused of using proceeds from illegal activities to own 93 branded hand bags.

Ag Mohd Tahir and Fauziah were also jointly charged with owning 575 pieces of gold jewellery and another charge of being in possession of 376 other types of jewellery acquired through illegal means.

They were represented by counsel Hairul Vairon Othman and Ariel C. Dasan who were acting for P. J. Pareira.



Fauziah Piut, 51 (Ag Mohd Tahir’s wife) 18 charges involving RM2.2mil.

Lim, who has been suspended as state Finance Ministry advisor, who was represented by counsel Chin Teck Ming, was accused of being in possession of more than RM2.38mil that was allegedly from the proceeds of illegal activities.

Ummu Kalthom subsequently allowed Ag Mohd Tahir to be released on a RM10mil bail – one of the country’s biggest bail amounts set in the country.

She also allowed Fauziah to be released on a RM2mil bail while Lim’s bail was set at RM1mil with the case management to be heard on Feb 28.

Ummu Kalthom also ordered their travel documents to be surrendered to the court.


Lim Lam Beng, 64 (Technical and Engineering advisor, Ag Mohd Tahir’s former deputy) 4 charges involving RM2.38mil

In arguing for the RM10mil bail for Ag Mohd Tahir, Deputy Public Prosecutor of the MACC Husmamuddin Hussin said the property seizures in the case were the largest so far made by the MACC and any other enforcement agency.

The offence is related to the corrupt act by a civil servant entrusted to manage an important resource – water, Husmamuddin said.

Hairul in arguing for Ag Mohd Tahir’s bail to be fixed at RM10,000 for each charge, said bail should not be excessive to the point of penalising his clients.

By Muguntan Vanar, ruben sario, Stephanie Lee The Star

Related stories:

Director and wife to appeal against record RM12mil bail
More to be charged in connection with the scandal
Three accused steer clear of media spotlight

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Monday, 26 December 2016

Penang Island City Council, MBPP councilor Dr Lim fed up change not happening in Penang

Stepping down: Dr Lim giving a speech at the council meeting at City Hall, Penang.

Dr. Lim tells why he walked


GEORGE TOWN: The only city councillor here who dared to go against the state government does not want to continue after his term ends on New Year’s Eve because he is disappointed with the Penang Island City Council (MBPP).

Dr Lim Mah Hui (pic) said he no longer wanted to serve because “the change in Penang that we want doesn’t seem to be happening”.

“I will remain active as a Penang Forum committee member. I will still speak up on public issues.

“I believe people in public offices should serve for limited terms. Perhaps it will take a fresher mind with new ideas and approaches to make things happen for the better,” he said.

Dr Lim, who has served as a councillor since 2011, also believed that the council should allow the public to observe council committee meetings.

“The committee meetings are where decisions are made. If people are watching the deliberations, then public scrutiny can help temper political interests,” he added.

The press and the public are allowed to witness full council meetings, but Dr Lim said these were formal meetings to confirm matters that had been decided upon.

Dr Lim is the sole city councillor out of 24 with no political ties. A former professor and international banker, he was nominated to MBPP by Penang Forum, a loose coalition of numerous NGOs in the state.

His appointment stemmed from the current government’s 2008 move to swear in councillors representing NGOs. Four such councillors were initially appointed but since 2012, although the official NGO councillors still stand at four, only Dr Lim is known to come strictly from civil society.

He made his maverick nature clear less than a year after being a councillor when he joined a group of 30 people to publicly protest against his own council outside City Hall months after being appointed.

In March this year, he was involved in a heated exchange with Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng during an NGO dialogue session over parking woes, road-widening projects and the council enforcement’s car-towing figures.

In July, Dr Lim criticised the state’s Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP) and suggested an alternative better, cheaper, faster transport master plan.

A month before that, he sent a letter to Unesco expressing fears that the PTMP would jeopardise George Town’s World Heritage Site status.

Throughout his tenure in MBPP, Dr Lim has been called a liar, back-stabber and betrayer of the state government by local politicians. NGO members, however, hold him in high regard.

“Nobody can live up to Mah Hui’s standard as an example of integrity and representing public interest without fear or favour.

“He had been talking about stepping down for some time.

“Maybe he needs to take a break and we hope he will accept the post again,” said fellow Penang Forum member Khoo Salma Nasution, whom the group has nominated to take Dr Lim’s place.

Former DAP member Roger Teoh, who was initially at loggerheads with Dr Lim over the PTMP, said it was a shame that local politicians had painted him in a negative light.

“Something was not right about how the state was reacting to Dr Lim’s Unesco letter. I felt he was unfairly labelled as treasonous. If his concerns were heard internally, would he have needed to write to Unesco?” he asked.

Teoh had initially supported the PTMP and openly criticised Dr Lim.

He changed his stand after doing a Masters thesis research on car use in 100 cities around the world, which led him to resign from DAP recently.

Sources: Arnold Loh The Star/Asian News Network

Dr Lim Mah Hui to make way for new blood 

 

                                                                     
GEORGE TOWN: Outspoken Penang Forum member Dr Lim Mah Hui (pic) will not seek another term as a Penang Island City councillor.

“I have declined to be nominated for the reappointment as a councillor next year. I have served six years.

“I think I have served long enough and we need new blood and new people to take up the cause,” he said at the council’s monthly meeting yesterday.

He later told a press conference that Penang Forum suggested Khoo Salma Nasution, the forum’s steering committee member and Penang Heritage Trust vice-president, as his replacement.

“We have nominated Khoo as the representative for Penang Forum and NGOs. We will have to wait for the state executive council to decide on the nominations.

“Nobody told me to step down. It was my own decision. Penang Forum wanted me to continue but I told them I had done more than my share.

“I will remain in the Penang Transport Council,” he said.

Dr Lim, however, said he would continue to be vocal and speak out.

He urged the Penang Island City Council to open its meetings to the public to promote greater transparency and participation.

“Section 23 of the Local Govern-ment Act 1976 gives the local council the power to do so.

“Members of the public can also be invited to sit in, possibly as observers, at the council’s committee and sub-committee meetings where decisions are made.

“This is the challenge I put forward. If they are truly taking about change and a new type of government, then they should do that,” said Dr Lim.

Dr Lim has raised various concerns during his stint as a councillor and forum member on issues related to hill clearing, land reclamation, heritage conservation and the proposed Penang Transport Master Plan. - The Star

Developers unafraid of Penang authorities, says activist group

 

CHANT cited the demolition of the 19th century Khaw Sim Bee Mansion and illegal hilltop clearing of Bukit Relau as examples of the developers’ fearlessness. — File picture by Bernama - See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/developers-unafraid-of-penang-authorities-says-activist-group#sthash.muMUgaNa.dpuf

GEORGE TOWN, March 16 — Developers in Penang no longer fear flouting the law as the authorities seem to be “toothless” in taking punitive actions, an activist group claimed.

Referring to the latest hill-clearing incident on Bukit Gambir and similar past incidents, Penang Citizens Awareness Chant Group (CHANT) coordinator Yan Lee said the developers knew they could easily get away with illegal earthworks or structural demolitions.

This was because the state government and the municipal council were not prepared to take stern punitive action against them, he said in a text message yesterday.

The council has come under fire in the past few days after a developer defied a stop-work order to carry out earthworks on the hill slope of Bukit Gambir in Gelugor.

CHANT cited the demolition of the 19th century Khaw Sim Bee Mansion and illegal hilltop clearing of Bukit Relau, commonly referred to as “Botak Hill”, as examples of the developers’ fearlessness.

Yan Lee claimed that the developers were fearless because they knew a contribution to the state heritage fund (SHF) “can do magic”.

A check by Malay Mail yesterday showed the developer had stopped work for two days on the hill slope, located behind the Gambier Heights apartments.

The council had issued the stop-work order on Thursday.

The hill was cleared to build a temporary 500m-long access road and fencing for a housing project site on the hill slope.

Trees were chopped down to make way for the road, while a lorry and an excavator were parked at the construction site.

According to some residents, the earthworks began early this month.

The residents also complained of pollution caused by dust, and noise caused by the frequent movement of vehicles.

Traffic management and flood mitigation committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow called on the council to take stern action against the developer for “jumping the gun”.

He said the developer should have waited for the council to issue a commencement of work certificate.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia urged the state authorities to stop the developer from clearing the hill, and to implement firm policies to protect the hills and greenery in the state.

It warned against a repeat of the “Botak Hill” incident.

An MPPP councillor also said the developers had no respect for the authorities.

“Even if the council were to haul them up for violating the law, they know they will get away with a token fine,” the councillor, who asked not to be named, said.

He cited a previous case where a developer completed a housing project despite the case for carrying out illegal earthworks pending in court.

Sources: Athi Shanka, MalayMail online

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Hopelessness among public after rampant fraud & corruption cases, says Auditor-General
 
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https://en.wikipedia.org


"First of all, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) can only compel someone to declare his assets. Once the assets are d...

Trump and China’s bumpy ride begins

Trump's diplomacy

Hot button: Trump’s unpredictability is making him a big topic in China.— AFP

THE rest of the world will have to fasten its seat belts while the current worrying clash of superpowers China and the United States plays itself out. Although the saga of the underwater drone ended peaceably earlier this week, the drama signalled that the competition between the two has entered a new era. With help from the ubiquitous social media, their diplomatic engagement is taking place in real time swiftly, unpredictably and amid considerable tension.

The inauguration of President Donald Trump on Jan 20 is expected to see US-China ties transformed into a guarded quasi-friendship requiring day-to-day reassessment. The stability that prevailed during the eight years of the Obama administration is unlikely to survive. Trump is given to knee-jerk reactions and ill-considered grandstanding for the sake of quick gain and publicity, as well as for his brash pursuit of the art of the deal, none of which bodes well for US’ relations with Beijing.

Still a month from taking office, Trump has already endangered his country’s long-standing recognition of the One China Policy by accepting a phone call from Taiwanese leader Tsai Ing-wan, a breach of protocol adopted after Washington formally recognised communist China in the early 1970s.

President Barack Obama immediately warned that any shift from this policy would have a serious impact on American dealings with Beijing, an important trading partner and backer of the US economy. Aiming to renegotiate extant overseas deals, Trump does not appear to care, and seems ready to test Chinese mettle on every issue.

China’s regional neighbours are aware that the nature of its relationship with the US increasingly depends on Beijing’s dealings with other countries, including the 10 nations of South-East Asia.

The attitude in the Philippines has radically changed. Whereas Manila traditionally regarded the US as the region’s military guardian, current President Rodrigo Duterte- taking umbrage at perceived American slights-has welcomed Chinese overtures. Thanks to Washington’s tendency to overreach in its authority, perceptions elsewhere are not so different.

Thus, its chief justification for wielding influence here to serve as a stopgap against China assertiveness is on the wane.

The Philippines’ abrupt refusal to be a pawn in either of the major powers games is admirable, even if it comes with risks. With sovereign territory in the South China Sea at stake, Duterte is taking a gamble in realigning with Beijing, but if those two countries can settle their differences amicably and equitably, it will have been worthwhile. The other South-East Asian claimants to maritime territories in dispute are sure to follow suit.

During the Trump presidency, more than at any time before, China has a golden opportunity to show the region and the world that it is rational and responsible in its overseas dealings. With goodwill and a commitment to peace and stability, it can take advantage of America’s loss of credibility over the election of a man who is ignorant of foreign affairs and absent in the spirit of international diplomacy. Patriotism and profit alone guide Trump, and nearly half the American electorate stands by him.

Also to be expected is a cautious realignment among the more developed Asian powers particularly Japan, India and South Korea which might pursue greater mutual cooperation as a safeguard against potential American error and affront under Trump.

No one will be surprised, meanwhile, if President Trump cosies up to Russia. While he and Vladimir Putin deny there is any special bond between them, evidence to the contrary has mounted. But using Russia as a foil against China would be detrimental to American financial and geopolitical interests. And, for Asia, while Russian investment is welcome and valued, Moscow has only a modicum of Beijing’s economic clout.

Sources: The Nation/Asia News Network

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Trump’s advisers may ignite trade war

The high interdependence of bilateral trade indicates that any form of trade war provoked by the US will ultimately hurt itself. It is probably difficult for the Trump team to figure out how much self-damage their country is able to withstand.



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Saturday, 24 December 2016

Childcare centre fees set to go up

Child care centre fees will likely increase by 10 per cent next year. — Picture by Zuraneeza Zulkifli

Operators expect 10% hike next year


SUNGAI BULOH: The fees for childcare centres across the country are expected to increase by at least 10% next year, says the Association of Childcare Centres Selangor.

This was due to the revised minimum wage, said association president Mahanom Basri.

“The increase depends on the management of the centre. If the rent, salaries and other expenditures have gone up, it will increase by between 5% and 10%.

“It won’t be a lot, but there will definitely be an increase,” she said here yesterday.

For example, Mahanom said a 10% increase from the RM300 fee per child would result in a new fee of RM330.

Besides the minimum wage, she said childcare centre operators also had to install CCTVs for extra security.

“Quality facilities require money so I hope parents are ready to pay for them,” she added.

The Government introduced the minimum wage policy in 2013.

On July 1, the monthly minimum wage was increased from RM900 to RM1,000 for peninsular Malaysia and from RM800 to RM920 for Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan.

Mahanom, together with more than 300 childcare centre operators, attended a dialogue session with Deputy Women, Family and Community Minister Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun yesterday.

One of the issues raised during the two-hour closed-door dialogue was the licensing fees charged by local councils.

“We have proposed to the local councils that they could treat childcare centres as community service instead of commercial business.

“By doing so, they can reduce the licensing fees,” Chew said.

She said the ministry was also looking into easing some regulations.

“We will be looking at the ratio; such as how many children should be cared by one minder without compromising on safety.

“Childcare service is important and the demand is big. Many families have both parents working so we need to have a strong childcare service,” she added.

By Nurbaiti Hamdan The Star/Asia News Network

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My home, my school  

Friday, 23 December 2016

Hopelessness among public after rampant fraud & corruption cases, says Auditor-General

RM2bil recovered from audits


The Government seldom receives dividends and whenever loans are given to these GLCs, they keep piling up', says Tan Sri Ambrin Buang

KUANTAN: Government agencies have recovered an estimated RM2bil in follow-up actions after the recent audits, said Auditor-General Tan Sri Ambrin Buang.

Ambrin said this was just based on a small sample size of agencies audited, so cases of misappropriated funds could have been a lot larger.

“If there had not been audits, the RM2bil would have been lost. People always ask me the extent of leakages in this country but I do not know because we only carry out audits on a limited sample size.

“For example, we did an audit on security in schools. The sample size is only 46 schools out of some 10,000 schools nationwide.

“Within that sample, there are already all kinds of weaknesses and leakages so imagine how widespread it is,” Ambrin said at an integrity talk programme here yesterday.

He said there was a feeling of hopelessness among the public when they kept reading about cases of fraud and corruption in the Auditor-General’s reports.

“There was a case where a 300m to 400m road construction contract was given to four contractors.

“Then there’s that incident at the Youth and Sports Ministry and that one at the Sabah Water Department.

“People are questioning how these things can happen and what kind of country we are living in where corruption like this can take place.

“Almost every day there are reports of government officials getting caught for corruption.

“I can’t deny there are officials with integrity but a few rotten apples destroy everything,” he said.

He also spoke about government-linked companies (GLCs) that were draining the Government’s resources without giving anything back in return.

“GLCs get all sorts of aid like projects, grants and financial assistance but what does the Government get out of it?

“The Government seldom receives dividends and whenever loans are given to these GLCs, they keep piling up.

“These GLCs burden the Government, so we must examine the cause. Those with experience should run a company but look at who are on the board of directors.

“I am sorry to say government officials cannot succeed in business because they have a different mindset,” he said.

Ambrin added that management could not be left as the dominant force without the supervision of the board of directors, but this would not be effective if the directors themselves did not contribute anything.

In his conclusion, Ambrin proposed that excellent work be made a culture in government service to repair the damaged public perception.

To achieve it, he said four aspects had to be looked into, which were attitude, skills, knowledge and integrity.

“Continuous improvement is humanly possible to achieve. The question is whether we want to improve or not,” he said.

By Ong Han Sean The Star/Asian News Network

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https://youtu.be/7FRTMX53TLc Sniffing out signs of life: The K-9 unit of the City Fire and Rescue operations looking for possible vict...




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Oct 8, 2016 ... Water theft: 60% of RM3.3bil project allocation stolen by senior officers ... the two senior Sabah Water Department officers, said there seemed to ...

No water but officials flush with funds: abuse of power ...
Oct 7, 2016 ... No water but officials flush with funds: abuse of power, nepotism, cronyism, bribery and money laundering. Logo Jabatan Air Negeri Sabah ...


Mar 10, 2016 ... KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's ranking dropped four places in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) last year. The index, released by ...

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Monday, 19 December 2016

Goodbye 2016, a strange and difficult year


The year will be remembered for the West ending its romance with globalisation, and its impact on the rest of the world.

JUST a few days before Christmas, it is time again to look back on the year that is about to pass.

What a strange year it has been, and not one we can celebrate!

The top event was Donald Trump’s unexpected victory. It became the biggest sign that the basic framework and values underpinning Western societies since the second world war have undergone a seismic change.

The established order represented by Hillary Clinton was defeated by the tumultuous wave Trump generated with his promise to stop the United States from pandering to other countries so that it could become “great again”.

Early in the year came the Brexit vote shock, taking Britain out of the European Union. It was the initial signal that the liberal order created by the West is now being quite effectively challenged by their own masses.

Openness to immigrants and foreigners is now opposed by citizens in Europe and the US who see them as threats to jobs, national culture and security rather than beneficial additions to the economy and society.

The long-held thesis that openness to trade and foreign investments is best for the economy and underpins political stability is crumbling under the weight of a sceptical public that blames job losses and the shift of industries abroad on ultra-liberal trade and investment agreements and policies.

Thus, 2016 which started with mega trade agreements completed (Trans-Pacific Partnership) or in the pipeline (the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the US and Europe) ended with both being dumped by the President Elect, a stunning reversal of the decades-old US position advocating the benefits of the open economy.

2016 will be remembered as the year when the romance in the West with “globalisation” was killed by a public disillusioned and outraged by the inequalities of an economic system tilted in favour of a rich minority, while a sizeable majority feel marginalised and discarded.

In Asia, the dismantling of the globalisation ideal in the Western world was greeted with a mixture of regret, alarm and a sense of opportunity.

Many in this region believe that trade and investment have served several of their countries well. There is fear that the anti-globalisation rebellion in the West will lead to a rapid rise of protectionism that will hit the exports and industries of Asia.

As Trump announced he would pull the US out of the TPP, China stepped into the vacuum vacated by the US and pledged to be among the torchbearers of trade liberalisation in the Asia-Pacific region and possibly the world.

The change of direction in the US and to some extent Europe poses an imminent threat to Asian exports, investors and economic growth. But it is also an opportunity for Asian countries to review their development strategies, rely more on themselves and the region, and take on a more active leadership role.

China made use of 2016 to prepare for this, with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank taking off and the immense Belt and Road Initiative gathering steam.

Many companies and governments are now latching on to the latter as the most promising source of future growth.

The closing months of 2016 also saw a surprising and remarkable shift in position by the Philippines, whose new President took big steps to reconcile with China over conflicting claims in the South China Sea, thus defusing the situation – at least for now.

Unfortunately, the year also saw heart-rending reports on the plight of the Rohingya in Myanmar, and the deaths of thousands of Syrians including those who perished or were injured in the end-game in Aleppo.

On the environmental front, it is likely 2016 will be the hottest year on record, overtaking 2015. This makes the coming into force in October of the Paris Agreement on climate change all the more meaningful.

But there are two big problems. First, the pledges in the agreement are grossly insufficient to meet the level of emissions cuts needed to keep the world safe from global warming, and there is also insufficient financing to support the developing countries’ climate actions, whether on mitigation or adaptation.

And secondly, there is a big question mark on the future of the Paris agreement as Trump had vowed to take the US out of it.

The biggest effect of 2016 could be that a climate skeptic was elected US President.

In the area of health, the dangers of antibiotic resistance went up on the global agenda with a declaration and day-long event involving political leaders at the United Nations in September.

There was growing evidence and stark warnings in 2016 that we are entering a post-antibiotic era where medicines will no longer work and millions will die from infection and ailments that could once be easily treated by antibiotics.

The world will also be closing in a mood of great economic uncertainty. In 2016 the world economy overall didn’t do well but also not too badly, with growth rates projected at 2.4 to 3%.

But for developing economies like Malaysia, the year ended with worries that the high capital inflows of recent years are reversing as money flows back to the US.

The first in an expected series of interest rate increases came last week.

All in all, there was not much to rejoice about in 2016, and worse still it built the foundation for more difficulties to come in 2017.

So we should enjoy the Christmas/New Year season while we can. Merry Christmas to all readers!

Global Trends By Martin Khor

Martin Khor (director@southcentre.org) is executive director of the South Centre. The views expressed here are entirely his own.


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Global Reset 2016~2017

Be wary of these four types of financial predators


REGRETTABLY Malaysia seems to be fertile ground for all sorts of scammers. Just yesterday I received a text message from Bank Negara Malaysia, warning me not to open emails that claim they are from BNM and ask for payment verification.

The newspapers report every month on hundreds of Malaysians losing millions of Ringgit to all sorts of financial predators.

These are the four types of financial predators you should be aware of.

Financial predators that are selling you something amazing (for them). Some financial predators are trying to sell you something and only later you find out that the item is not the best use of your money at all.

Watch out for these financial predators:

* The pyramid scheme operator who is selling you products which sound expensive and technologically sophisticated, but are worthless.

* The shop owner, who recommends expensive or high margin products, which turn out to be unpopular or old products to increase his profit or clear his inventory.

* The property agent, who pushes you to purchase a house despite knowing that there is a price correction coming. He just cares about getting his commission.

* Financial predators that want to make you rich (but make you poor instead).

Other financial predators are not selling you a product, but a dream: to be rich one day. You would be amazed to find out how much people are willing to spend in their pursuit of this dream. You can get rich in many ways, but not nearly as many, as ways in which you can get scammed.

For instance, consider:

*The investor or trader that is selling you currency, gold, stock or property with the promise of extremely high returns. Sometimes they don’t sell the assets, but a "secret" formula or (software) tool to always make a winning trade. Don’t fall for it!

* The prince, minister, lottery winner, retired general and other personalities which will reward you with a slice of their wealth. If first you pay some legal / custom fees.

* The fake lottery / contest predator, that tricks you into thinking you won a sizeable sum of money. You just need to pay up some administration fees before you can redeem your prize.

* The scratch & win agent and casino operator. “The house always wins.” You will bring more to the casino operator than he will give back.

* The (soccer) bookie, who extends upfront credit for you to place more bets and win back your losses. But if you keep losing, his friendly helpfulness will quickly vanish.

Financial predators that "just" want to help you (into bigger problems)

Some financial predators pretend they just want to help you – some may even say they have nothing to gain from it. Be aware of these sophists!

* The financial planner that gets more commission the more financial products you buy. Never mind whether you really need all that insurance and other financial products.

* The loan shark that will give you better rates or quicker disbursement than the bank, but asks much higher interest rates in return.

* The salesman that is selling you expensive insurance on top of your car / phone etc that already have guarantee from the manufacturer.

* The car dealerships and stores who encourage you to take their own (more expensive) financing plans instead of your bank's instalment plans.

* The financial predator that is in love with you (or is it your money)?

* And then finally, the financial predator that lures you with dreams of romance. This one is the saddest of all, because doesn’t everyone deserve more genuine love in their life?

And isn’t it heart-breaking to see how scammers toy with people’s strongest desires, just for monetary gains?

Be aware for online girlfriends and boyfriends that contact you out of nowhere. Don’t be surprised when you find scammers that try to deceive you with romantic talk in the darkest of alleyways on the Internet (or just around the corner on Facebook and other social media apps).

Especially be wary if you have never seen your new love in real life or (s)he is a foreigner and needs your money in order to pay for visa or flights or to pay off local debts before (s)he is allowed to leave.

As you can tell, Malaysia and the world are full of financial predators. Don’t fall prey to them and become their lunch.

By Mark Reijman The Star/ANN

Mark Reijman is co-founder and managing director of https://www.comparehero.my/dedicated to increasing financial literacy and to help you save time and money by comparing all credit cards, loans and broadband plans in Malaysia. Keen on joining the team as a writer, then email mark@comparehero.my

Friday, 16 December 2016

Settle Batang Kali massacre case, Britain told by the European Court of Human rights

International court orders amicable resolution over 1948 Batang Kali killings 


KUALA LUMPUR: The British government has been ordered by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) to seek an amicable settlement over the Batang Kali massacre, in which its soldiers killed 24 innocent villagers on Dec 11 and 12, 1948.

https://batangkalimassacre.wordpress.com/2015/04/20/batang-kali-killings-britain-in-the-dock-over-1948-massacre-in-malaysia/
Civilians lie dead in Batang Kali, in 1948

It was also told to submit a written explanation on the merits of the massacre and state its position for a friendly settlement by Feb 7, said MCA vice-president Datuk Dr Hou Kok Chung.

The ECHR made the order recently after conducting a preliminary examination of the complaint filed by the victims’ families that London had violated Article 2 of the Euro­pean Convention on Human Rights, which protects the right to life, by endorsing the massacre.

Britain has been a signatory to the European Convention since 1953, when Malaya was still its colony and its residents were considered subjects under British rule.

“The descendants of the victims have for years asked the British government for an apology, compensation and construction of a memorial, but all these have been ignored.

“So, they turned to the European Court. We hope the British government and the families can reach an out-of-court settlement,” said Hou yesterday at a press conference attended by the victims’ families and their lawyer Quek Ngee Meng.

Hou said the massacre, in which British courts had held their government responsible for the killings and ruled that the victims were not linked to communist insurgents, was “an issue too big to be ignored”.

“Though many years have passed, justice must be done and the inhumane killings must be recorded. There is a need for governments to learn from history. Let history educate people.

“During the Emergency in 1948, a lot of Chinese suffered and lived in fear,” said Hou.

The British declared emergency rule on June 18, 1948, after three estate managers were murdered in Perak by the Malayan Communist Party (MCP), an outgrowth of the anti-Japanese guerrilla movement which later turned anti-colonial.

During the 1948-60 emergency rule, Chinese were rounded up into “new villages” as they were suspected of being sympathetic to MCP. On Dec 11, 1948, British troops entered the plantation village of Batang Kali, Selangor, and questioned the rubber tappers about the MCP but to no avail.

The next day, they loaded the women and children on a military truck and shot dead 23 men, after killing one the day before.

This massacre was claimed by the British as the “biggest success” since the emergency began, and its official parliamentary record in 1949 described the killings as “justified”.

But in 1970, the episode was given a twist when several soldiers involved in the operation told British media of their guilt over shooting innocent civilians.

In July 1993, survivors of the massacre petitioned for justice after the British Broadcasting Corporation did an independent documentary on the saga.

The survivors took their battle to the British government and later to the British courts with the help of international human rights groups.

Now their descendants are continuing the struggle for justice, this time with the help of MCA.

By Ho Wah Foon The Star/ANN

Related posts:

British Massacre - Batang Kali Victims win UK court scrutiny 

Agony of British Massacre Victims' Descendants in Batang Kali, Malaysia 

Batang Kali massacre by the British: justice for the dead! 

Batang Kali massacre: British soldiers admitted unlawful killings 

Batang Kali British Massacre Victims have a legal respite 

British Massacre - Batang Kali Survivors and kin seek inquiry and damages 

 

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