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Malaysia Today - Your Source of Independent News

Halim Saad's ex-aide in NFC takeover

Posted: 03 Dec 2013 08:38 AM PST

Cynthia Blemin and Terence Fernandez,

Businessman Datuk Anuar Othman is making a comeback to the corporate world in the potential takeover the National Feedlot Corporation (NFCorp) Sdn Bhd's cattle farming project.

Anuar, the right-hand man of corporate kingpin, Tan Sri Halim Saad (picture), back in the 90's is said to have vested interest in the takeover via an investment-linked company, VC Mahawangsa Sdn Bhd.
A source close to the deal said Anuar who holds the position as the executive chairman of VC Mahawangsa, has offered to takeover NFCorp's assets and liabilities.
It is not known if this news confirms that Anuar and Halim have kissed and made up following their acrimonious parting of ways. 
However, according to sources, Halim Saad was present in at least one meeting with senior NFC officials.
"The beef business is a RM2 billion a year industry and annual profits are RM400 million.
"So even if NFC gets 10%, you are talking about RM40 million," said an industry source.
The business could have taken off if the government had fulfilled its obligations of the agreement by building the abattoirs as it was supposed to, the source added.  
A press conference to announce the sale of shares between NFCorp and VC Mahawangsa was scheduled to take place at Doubletree by Hilton here yesterday. However, the event was called off by organisers.
"The press conference was called off because the deal has yet to be properly finalised. 
"There are still issues that need to be trashed out and once those concerns are addressed, a proper announcement would be made.
"One party was probably too eager to make the announcement … which is premature at this point," the source added.
NFCorp, the company that runs the controversial National Feedlot Centre (NFC) is owned and operated by Wanita Umno chief Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil's family.
On March 12, last year, Shahrizat's husband Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Salleh Ismail, in his capacity as the director of NFCorp was charged with CBT amounting to RM9,758,140 to fund part purchase of two units of condominium in Kuala Lumpur and transferring RM40 million into the account of National Meat & Livestock Corporation Sdn Bhd in 2009.
Mohamad Salleh who is also NFCorp executive chairman, has maintained that not all the RM250 million soft loan from the government was utilised, and the company was in fact still servicing the loan.
He had argued that the purchases of high-end condominiums were investments to reap profits to service the loan.
Supporters of Salleh and his wife have blamed the failure of the Agriculture Ministry to build export quality abattoirs for NFC's inability to make the project a success.
The resurfacing of both Umno-linked businessmen Halim and Anuar in NFCorp, is a clear indication that Putrajaya's had given their nod in an attempt to make the company commercially viable.  
In October, this year, the Finance Ministry announced the potential takeover of NFCorp by Japanese company Kirimitonas Agro Sdn Bhd (KASB). But the deal fell through and ended due to failure to reach an agreement.
In 2006, both Halim and Anuar made headlines when Justice Sri Gopal Sri Ram, in his judgment, remarked that the duo from Metramac Corp Sdn Bhd, had enjoyed the patronage of former finance minister Tun Daim Zainuddin. Halim who was the executive chairman of Renong and in turn controls UEM Group, was  highly connected to former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad and Daim.
Halim also denied that he and his former business partner, Anuar had siphoned RM32.5 million from toll operator Metramac (formerly Syarikat Teratai KG Sdn Bhd or STKG). 
He also denied that they had patronage of Daim, who was said to have conspired with them to oppress a construction company.
It is interesting to note that when Umno was deregistered in 1998, all of its assets were vested in the Official Assignee. 
Following the de-registration of Umno, the Official Asignee not only took over Fleet Group, Umno's main investment arm, but also Hatibudi Sdn Bhd, which had acquired a significant stake in politically-linked United Engineers Malaysia (UEM) Bhd, which was then awarded the privatised North-South Highway project. 
The shareholders of Hatibudi were Halim and Anuar, who held the shareholdings in trust for Umno leaders.
But by early 1994, Anuar had already relinquished his interest in Renong and UEM, reportedly after a disagreement with Halim.

Archaeology expert: Still hope for razed Lembah Bujang temple

Posted: 03 Dec 2013 08:26 AM PST

(MM) - Armed with blueprints from historical texts and research papers, an archaeological expert believes it possible to rebuild the millennia-old temple in Lembah Bujang, Kedah that was torn down by a housing developer.

According to director of the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Centre for Global Archaeological Research (CGAR) Professor Dr Mokhtar Saidin, who leads a team that has excavated 46 sites in the area, there exists sufficient information to allow the prehistoric structure to be reconstructed, hopefully, where it once stood.

"We can reconstruct it again because I saw some of the publication before and there is a plan, so we can reconstruct again, the best is to construct on the original site," Mokhtar said, referring to plans of the ancient temple contained in published works.

The candi in question had been restored once in 1974. The archaeology expert said the restoration commissioned by the then-Museum Department had been minor as the candi was only "naturally disturbed", but it would require a complete reconstruction this time around.

"The developer should help because it's just a small area and I think Jabatan Warisan should too and if they want USM to help, no problem," he told The Malay Mail Online when contacted.

Yesterday, Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Mukhiz Mahathir also spoke of the possibility to rebuilding the demolished candi number 11.

"The ruins can be reconstructed on its original site with the agreement of the company or near the Universiti Sains Malaysia excavation site at Sungai Batu," he was quoted as saying by national news agency Bernama last night.

The recent discovery of the demolition of the 1,200-year-old candi number 11 at Sungai Batu triggered national outrage over the callous treatment of the country's historical monuments.

A candi, short for candigarh, has been described as a place of worship with elements of either Hinduism or Buddhism; about 50 are peppered across the Kedah valley and believed to date back to between the 8th and 13th centuries.

Lembah Bujang is also thought to be the foundation for the rise of the Malay kingdom in Southeast Asia, and the region's foremost entrepot and trading centre in ancient times.

Earlier yesterday, Mukhriz said the state government has appealed to the Tourism and Culture Ministry to gazette over 100 archaeological sites as national heritage sites.

"The state places the utmost importance in preserving all heritage sites in Kedah so we are saddened over the recent destruction of candi number 11," he said.

However, Mokhtar said even if the historical sites are not gazetted as such, future development plans in the Merbok area should be referred to the local authorities and the National Heritage Department to prevent the destruction of other historical locations.

Recounting a previous visit in 2007 to what was then an oil palm estate, the professor said the candi had still been intact. He added that had the land status not been changed from agricultural to residential, the tragedy might not have taken place.

"Before this, as far as I know, all candis are in private land, usually in plantation area, the owners know the sites shouldn't be disturbed, but for site 11, they want to develop housing, so they bulldoze all the trees and everything there.

"It is very sad; it serves as a lesson for us ― for all of us ― to be responsible [and] to take care of such historical sites."

According to Mukhriz, the developer had obtained planning permission to develop the land back in 1993 but only started clearing works this August.

On Monday, the Lembah Bujang Archaeological Museum — the candi's former caretakers — said it informed National Heritage Department of the destruction in September.

It is unclear if the department did anything to stop the developer, as its director-general, Datin Paduka Prof Siti Zuraina Abdul Majid could not be reached as she is currently abroad for the month.

Lembah Bujang is the richest archaeological site in Malaysia and the home of the oldest man-made structure recorded in Southeast Asia — a clay brick monument nearly 1,900 years old.

Excavations on the site have also uncovered jetty remains, iron smelting sites and relics with Hindu and Buddhist influences that point towards a Hindu-Buddhist kingdom there as early as 110 CE. 


Candi 11 in Sungai Batu can be reconstructed, says Mukhriz

Posted: 03 Dec 2013 08:22 AM PST

(Bernama) - Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir today expressed the state government's disappointment over the destruction of the ancient candi or temple ruins in Sungai Batu, Bujang Valley, Merbok. 

"These Bujang Valley ruins should be preserved as national heritage sites.  They have not been used as places of worship for centuries," he said in a statement here.   

He said the company which owned the land had obtained the approval to develop it in 1993 but only started clearing the site this August and ended up destroying the temple ruins in the process.

The state government and Ministry of Tourism and Culture have ordered the company to halt clearing works at the Candi 11 site immediately, he said.

"The ruins can be reconstructed on its original site with the agreement of the company or near the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) excavation site at Sungai Batu.

"The Candi 11 plans can be used as a reference to ensure its design and material are the same as the original," he said.

The destroyed Candi 11 in Sungai Batu was a 1974 reconstruction at the original site which dated back to between the 8th and 11th centuries.  


Candi destruction shocks former Kedah MB

Posted: 03 Dec 2013 08:15 AM PST

(The Star) - It started as a dream to create a tourist attraction with an ancient candi of Bujang Valley as its centrepiece. Two decades on, it's now an archaeological nightmare.

Former Kedah Mentri Besar Tan Sri Osman Aroff said he had made preservation of all the candi a "strict condition" when approving the Kedah International Resort City project in Bujang Valley in 1993.

The project never saw the light of the day. However, things have spiralled out of control.

"I am devastated to learn that a candi in Sungai Batu was destroyed by a private developer recently.

"This begs the question of how the state land ended up in private hands," said Osman.

That is the burning question, because his successors as Mentris Besar have also denied selling the land to any developer.

Bandar Saujana Sdn Bhd project manager Saw Guan Keat had said that the company bought eight lots of land in Sungai Batu from another developer earlier this year.

The new developer destroyed the candi while clearing the land for a housing project.

Osman said the Kedah Inter-national Resort City project was a joint venture between a Qatar-based company and Mentri Besar Inc. The state had a 40% stake while the company held the remaining shares.

"The state also acquired the surrounding piece of land for the project covering about 400ha," he added.

Osman said he was surprised to learn that a private developer now owned part of the land.

"The project was supposed to comprise an agriculture park and a hotel amid the preserved ruins of an ancient civilisation," said Osman who was Mentri Besar from 1985 to 1996.

Another former Mentri Besar, Tan Sri Sanusi Junid (1996-1999), said he had rejected the request of a foreign company to be recognised as a local one. Sanusi told the company to abide by the country's rules and regulations.

"But after one meeting with me, they never came back," he said.

Former executive councillor Datuk Amiruddin Hamzah of the Pakatan Rakyat state government (2008-2013) said the company had threatened to sue the state for rejecting its proposal to build houses in the area.

Amiruddin said the late Kedah Mentri Besar Tan Sri Azizan Abdul Razak rejected the company's proposal because it involved building thousands of housing units in the area.

"We do not need a foreign company to build houses here."



PISA: Malaysia up in maths, down in science and reading

Posted: 03 Dec 2013 08:04 AM PST

(MM) - Malaysian students scored higher in mathematics but registered declines in both reading ability and science, according to the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) survey released today.

In the 2012 edition of the global education benchmark, Malaysian students recorded an average score of 421 for mathematics, which was below the 494 mean for countries within the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) but above the 404 the country registered in the 2009+ edition.

Reading ability fell the most, plunging to an average of 398 in the 2012. Malaysian students in the previous edition had recorded a score of 414, while the current OECD average was 496.

Science scores saw a minor decline versus the older findings, with Malaysians weighing at an average of 420 marks against the 422 that the batch three years ago managed. Students in the 34 OECD countries received an average of 501.

Malaysia was now ranked 55th for science, down two spots from the previous assessment.

The combined results meant Malaysia was 52nd overall out of the 65 countries, and firmly entrenched in the bottom third of the survey.

Neighbours Singapore were placed second in the assessment, behind top-scorers from Shanghai in China. Thailand is two places above Malaysia while Indonesia was second from bottom.

The 2012 PISA assessed 510,000 students between the ages of 15 years 3 months and 16 years 2 months in the 65 participating countries.

This is the second time Malaysia has been included in the survey that first began tracking students worldwide on the three subjects in 2000. The country was listed in the 2009+ edition, which was an expanded version of the 2009 results that tested new entrants in 2010.

The latest results is set to trigger another round of finger-pointing over the state of Malaysia's education, which is due for a major overhaul under the Malaysian Education Blueprint 2013-2025 that was launched last month.

Among the stated aims of the education master plan was to put Malaysia in the upper third of the PISA benchmark as well as the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), another widely-used global yardstick.

Critics have accused the government of allowing political interests to creep into decisions on education policy, most notably the decision to abandon of the Policy of Teaching Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI) in 2010 that is alleged to have been a nod to Malay nationalists.

Parents and education lobbyists, including the outspoken Parents Action Group for Education (PAGE), say the inconsistencies in education and a refusal to put greater emphasis on English was to blame for the  country's prolonged drop in standards. 


Which way is Umno headed to?

Posted: 03 Dec 2013 07:58 AM PST

Lim Sue Goan, TMI

The limelight of Malaysian politics this week falls on the Umno general assembly which could determine the direction of the party post-GE13.

Former Supreme Council member Saifuddin Abdullah said frankly during an exclusive interview with Sin Chew Daily that party president-cum-prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was under tremendous pressure from within the party during the Umno elections, resulting in him declaring to make the bumiputera agenda a key national agenda on September 14 in a bid to win broader support from Umno delegates.

If the bumiputera empowerment policy was only a contingency plan put forward during the party elections, then Najib would possibly reactivate the New Economic Model as soon as this pressure is removed.

I personally feel that Najib's presidential address, the Umno assembly atmosphere and the base tone would determine whether Umno would eventually move towards moderation or more fundamentalism (further clinging onto its traditional support base).

GE13 is now seven months behind us, and over the past seven months, the political climate in this country has been gloomy, with racist remarks making occasional resurgence every now and then and transformation program laid aside. In its stead, bumi empowerment has taken the driver seat as if to herald the return of racist politics.

Having suffered the electoral setback, how will Najib instruct party leaders and members to take heed of the lacklustre response from urban, young and Chinese voters? Will they call for more assistance for the Malays?

If the focus of Umno assembly debates falls on how to reward the supporters of BN, then there will be no way for the New Economic Model running on meritocracy model to ever have a possible comeback again.

To connect with the international community, Umno has over the past few years organized international forums on the eve of the Umno assemblies. The theme for this year's forum is "adopting moderation and principles of balanced politics towards peace and stability." Among those attending this year's event are heavyweight local and foreign leaders such as Hamas' political bureau chairman Khaled Mashal.

Since Najib has been loudly advocating moderation here and abroad, his party must therefore move towards this end in a bid to accomplish the goal of national reconciliation.

Unfortunately, the 2013 undergraduates' assembly, a precursor event of the Umno general assembly, passed 36 motions on Sunday, including a proposal to adopt a single stream education system and for the GLCs to give priority to bumiputera or bumiputera companies, among others. This shows that many people still subscribe to populism.



Slur on Auditor-General’s credibility

Posted: 03 Dec 2013 07:49 AM PST

Ravinder Singh, MM

According to Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Shabery Cheek, there was "no misappropriation of funds by RTM in its purchase of a clock for RM3,810"  as it is "a special "precision clock" or "atomic clock", which is connected to the Department of Time in the United States of America to ensure all time is standardised".

This statement casts a very strong slur on the credibility of the Auditor-General's team of auditors. Had this "fact" been explained to the auditors, could they not have understood the reasonableness of the price paid? 

Why this explanation only months after the Auditor-General's report was published? By the way, how many clocks were purchased at the price of RM3,810.00 – "a clock" or 20 clocks as reported earlier?

The term "atomic clock" sounds very great, but these clocks are very common these days. American online marketing sites advertise these for as low as US$19.95 and pricier ones at around US$70. How much do these figures translate into Malaysian Ringgit?

This is a challenge to the credibility of the Auditor-General. If he remains silent in the face of this 'explanation', then his department is seen to be inefficient in carrying out proper auditing. Any auditor worth his salt should have questioned the person(s) responsible for the purchase and if the purchase was justified, then it should not have been highlighted in the A-G's report as "excessively priced".

Now who is to be believed, the A-G or the minister? The political master having spoken, is the A-G at liberty to tell us whether the minister is right or wrong?

If right, then the A-G would be admitting that his auditors were not competent in carrying out their duties.

This is also a challenge to the independence of the A-G. If he is not beholden to the political masters, then it behoves the A-G to clarify the 'clarification' of the minister. This statement brings disrepute to the whole of the A-G's report as people will be wondering how many more 'glaring mistakes' (like this one) are contained in the report.

The A-G, if he is truly independent, should rise to the occasion and speak the truth, i.e. is the minister right or wrong?

His silence will only mean to the public that his much acclaimed audit reports have been reduced to trash by the minister's explanation.


Pakatan leaders demand that Khalid review proposed Selangor hike

Posted: 03 Dec 2013 07:44 AM PST

(The Star) - The Pakatan Rakyat top leadership has demanded that Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim review the proposed salary hike for the state government leaders and lawmakers.

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and Lim Kit Siang collectively said while the pay rise was necessary, the quantum should be determined carefully.

"A study should be done on the pay rise decision, and while we leave it to Khalid and the state government for the final decision, we generally agree that the amount can be reduced before the hike is implemented," said Anwar at a joint press conference in Parliament.

On Khalid's firm stance that there will be no change in the pay rise and recipients who did not want to accept it could donate the excess to charity, Anwar said it was merely a "spur of the moment response".

"I have already met him about this, and he is amenable to our proposal to review the proposed new salaries," he said.

Both Abdul Hadi and Lim agreed, adding that the state government also needed to consider its financial position and the rakyat's sentiments before making a final call.

Under the new salary structure, the pay of assemblymen will be upped 87% from RM6,000 to RM11,250 a month, the Speaker from RM6,109.29 to RM22,500 (268%), and the deputy Speaker from RM3,327.50 to RM15,750 (373%).

The salary of exco members will go up 231% from RM6,109.29 to RM20,250 while the Mentri Besar will have a pay rise of 106.4% from RM14,175 to RM29,250.

Meanwhile, Tan Sri Shahrir Samad (BN-Johor Bahru) told a press conference that Selangor state government should base the pay of its leaders and lawmakers on the state's income per capita.

"They should index the salaries based on the state economy, and doing this by GDP per capita is the best way as they should adjust salaries to a measure acceptable to public domain, and GDP is in the public domain," he said.

Shahrir also lashed out at Khalid's reason for the salary raise, which was so that the recipients will be able to work without worrying about sourcing money from elsewhere.

"It does not mean that the lesser money you receive the more possible it is for you to become corrupt.

"Corruption is a matter of greed and lack of morals, not about a lack of money. If other MPs, for example, can lead a more moderate life, why can't they?" he said.


Anwar's defamation suit against blogger on Jan 27-28

Posted: 02 Dec 2013 11:06 PM PST

(NST) - The hearing of opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's defamation suit against blogger "Papa Gomo" over alleged defamatory postings implying he was engaged in indecent acts with a man will begin on January 27.

High Court judicial commissioner Rosilah Yop fixed the hearing date after meeting the  lawyers from both parties while in chambers today. 
When met outside the court, Anwar's counsel Muhammad Afiq Mohd Noor clarified that the trial is scheduled from January 27 till 28.
"The court has also fixed January 20 for case management," he said.
Counsel S. Parvinder Kaur acted for the blogger whose real name is Wan Muhammad Azri Wan Deris, 30.
In his suit filed at the High Court registry on March 21, Anwar, 66, claimed that the defendant had posted defamatory statements and uploaded certain images on his website at
He claimed the website could be accessed by anyone surfing the Internet in Malaysia and the world.
He alleged  the statements meant that he was a person without morals and was not fit to hold public office.
He further stated that the defamatory words implied that he was not fit to be the prime minister and that he was irresponsible and could not be trusted.
Anwar alleged that since Malaysia was a country with a Muslim majority, the defamatory words and images impacted him negatively.
He is seeking general, aggravated and exemplary damages and for an injunction to stop the defamatory postings from being repeated or reproduced.

Khalid tetap membisu sama ada cabar Azmin dalam pemilihan PKR

Posted: 02 Dec 2013 10:48 PM PST

(Bernama) - Menteri Besar Selangor Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim enggan mengulas sama ada beliau akan mencabar Timbalan Presiden Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Mohamed Azmin Ali dalam pemilihan parti itu tahun hadapan.

"Perkara itu tidak pernah kita bincangkan di khalayak ramai dan saya rasa parti kita perlu mempunyai tata tertib dan membuat pengumuman apabila kita perlu untuk mengumumkannya," katanya ketika ditanya mengenainya selepas merasmikan Forum Masyarakat Ekonomi Asean (AEC) 2015 anjuran SSIC Bhd di sini, hari ini.

Ditanya sama ada beliau akan mencabar Mohamed Azmin jika ada permintaan, beliau juga enggan mengulas.

Abdul Khalid turut menafikan bahawa kritikan Mohamed Azmin mengenai pengumuman kenaikan gaji dan elaun Anggota Dewan Undangan Negeri, Menteri Besar, Anggota Majlis Mesyuarat Kerajaan Negeri, Speaker dan Timbalan Speaker minggu lepas yang dikatakan tinggi, ada kaitan dengan pemilihan akan datang.

Sebelum ini, hubungan di antara Abdul Khalid dan Mohamed Azmin yang juga Pengerusi Kelab Penyokong Kerajaan Negeri (BBC) Selangor digambarkan pihak tertentu sebagai tidak begitu 'mesra' apabila Mohamed Azmin sering mengkritik pentadbiran Abdul Khalid.


AG: Good marks for Terengganu

Posted: 02 Dec 2013 10:26 PM PST

Sean Augustin,

Terengganu earned good marks for its financial performance and management as well as development spending, including recording a surplus in combined revenue in 2012.

The Auditor General's report noted that the oil-rich state posted a surplus of RM293 million last year, an improvement over 2011's surplus of RM263 million.

"The surplus means the collated balance of the combined revenue surge to a RM60 million surplus, compared to the RM233 million deficits recorded in 2011," the report stated

The state government also managed to implement 593 of the 721 projects under the 10th Malaysia Plan.

Among the projects completed included a kindergarten in Kijal, Kemaman; a multipurpose hall in Setiu  and a tunnel in Kuala Terengganu.

The state also managed to spend RM1.04 billion of the RM1.22 billion allocation to complete the projects.

However, the national audit department was 'less satisfied' with the state's management of the Ladang Gemilang apartments and the road maintenance works in Setiu.

The project, which is divided into two phases and located on a 4.91 acre land, comes under the purview of the state's Heritage Board.

It was constructed to aid residents in affected by development plans for Ladang.

Among the faults, the audit noted was that payment was given despite incomplete works, while the quality was 'unsatisfactory'.

"The design was not suitable, while the security service was irregular," the report stated.

As for maintenance works on roads in Setiu, the department observed that the maintenance cost exceeded the contract, while works were also 'unsatisfactory'.


Leave if DAP stays with PAS, Karpal told

Posted: 02 Dec 2013 10:19 PM PST

A former DAP vice-chairman is challenging Karpal Singh to leave the party should it maintain its alliance with PAS.

Anisah Shukry, FMT

DAP chairman Karpal Singh to should leave to save his reputation and high standing if he cannot convince his party to end ties with PAS, said Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim.

"We have lost count of the number of times Karpal has bemoaned the fact that PAS leaders, his political allies, have remained defiantly unrepentant for their single-minded push for an Islamic Malaysia.

"Karpal should get his party out of the morally impossible situation because there is no future in a fragile, loveless and dishonest relationship with PAS, kept barely alive by mutual deception and political expediency," Tunku Aziz said at a press conference today.

Aziz said Karpal was well aware the party was not with him and that the Bukit Jelutong MP was only regarded as the titular head of the DAP.

He said the real power was with secretary-general Lim Guan Eng and "his handpicked inner circle."

He noted that Karpal's colleagues were "embarrassed" by his comments regarding PAS, and had distanced themselves by suggesting they were made in his personal capacity.

"Given his high profile and standing in country, a chairman in an important political party, Karpal in my view does not enjoy the luxury of privacy in what he says and does. Karpal cannot have his chapatti and eat it too," he said.

Tunku Aziz urged the DAP to come clean and admit that its chairman spoke for the party.

"If the DAP does not agree officially with what Karpal says, then the party agrees with the official position of the Islamic state that PAS has been unceasingly been propagating since the first day of its life.

"Malaysians urge DAP to come out openly and declare its official position on the Islamic state. Does it accept the Islamic state or does it reject it? he asked.

"It is a simple question requiring a simple, unvarnished answer. But it does not look as if DAP has the moral strength and courage to answer," he added.


The politics of hypocrisy

Posted: 02 Dec 2013 08:55 PM PST 

Free Malaysia Today 

If we were to have a law governing good taste, it should provide for the punishment of hypocrites who denounce other hypocrites. Certainly, no political organisation in Malaysia has a monopoly on the hypocrisy business, but if we had a device to measure hypocrisy, it would show that Prime Minister Najib went way ahead of his competitors with his recent comment about the pay rise for members of the Selangor state assembly.

What can be more hypocritical than an accusation of hypocrisy that comes from someone who has yet to give a plausible explanation for the wasteful ways not only of his administration and party, but even his wife? He probably thinks the Malaysian public is gullible enough to swallow Shahidan Kassim's justification of her use of the official executive jet. That's bad taste upon bad taste.

The way the BN papers went to town with Najib's outburst makes one wonder whether they have only now learned that hypocrisy happens in Malaysian politics. The rest of us know that it is one of the defining characteristics of political discourse in this country. Listen, for instance, to Umno leaders when they denounce DAP for having only Chinese interest at heart. Often enough, they would in the same speech assert Umno's credentials as a champion of Malay interests and ignore the reality that one of its bedfellows is an all-Chinese party.

As for the Selangor pay rise, we don't know exactly how to react to Khalid Ibrahim's explanation that he wanted the assemblymen to dedicate themselves to their duties and not seek other sources of income. Should we admire him for his candor or curse him for his audacity? How much does an assemblyman need to satisfy his greed? The current salary is already enough to inspire envy in the average Malaysian. And would Khalid care to explain how the assemblymen have been supplementing their income in the last five years? After all, Pakatan Rakyat is all for transparency.

Rather than give piecemeal responses to knee-jerk reactions, Khalid must explain to Selangor citizens how the extra expense incurred in the pay hike would translate into a better quality of life for them, manifested, for instance, in cleaner rivers or a reduction in poverty, thanks to well-paid and hard-working assemblymen. A man of his corporate and political experience should not find it too hard to provide a comprehensive explanation.


Corruption in Malaysia Shows Little Improvement

Posted: 02 Dec 2013 08:14 PM PST 

(WSJ) - Corruption in Malaysia has barely inched forward over the last year, according to a global anti-corruption index that shows despite efforts by the government to fight graft, Malaysia remains stuck at the halfway point between being highly corrupt and squeaky clean.

Malaysia ranked 53rd out of 177 countries in anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International's latest corruption perceptions index, with a score of 50 on a scale of zero to 100, with 100 being very clean.

This year Malaysia tied with Turkey, and improved by one point over its 54th place ranking in 2012. Regionally it placed 3rd, behind Singapore at No. 5 and Brunei at No. 38, but fared far better than the Philippines (94) and neighboring Thailand (102) and Indonesia (114).

Indonesia's rank improved by four places, while the Philippines jumped 11 spots to achieve its highest rank since 2004. Over the past year, however, both countries have been embroiled in a series of corruption cases involving past and present lawmakers and other high officials.

In September the Philippine Department of Justice filed graft and bribery complaintsagainst several lawmakers for allegedly misusing public funds – often derisively referred to as pork barrel – intended for roads, bridges and the poor.

Indonesia's anti-corruption commission, meanwhile, has detained a number of officials, including a top judge and the head of the country's oil-and-gas regulator for alleged corruption following investigations.

Comparatively, Malaysia has done better. But the small bump in rank also underscores the challenge the Malaysian government faces in cutting corruption in one of Southeast Asia's most developed economies.




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