Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sue lah but no moolah

Malaysiakini today reports, here, that the Port Klang Authority is ready to face litigations by withholding RM660 million due to Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd for the Port Klang Free Zone project. PKA chairperson Lee Hwa Beng said the amount would not be paid to Kuala Dimensi until a full review has been done by a task force established on June 10.

The PKA was supposed to have paid RM660 million - alleged debts in the words of Lee - to Kuala Dimensi's Special Port Vehicle Bhd, Transhipment Megahub Bhd, Valid Ventures Bhd and Free Zone Capital Bhd in four parts this and next month. A total of RM330 million is due to be paid to KDSB by today (June 30) while a further RM300 million will be due in July.

An audit report by PricewaterhouseCoopers has revealed that Kuala Dimensi had so far received total payments of more than RM1 billion from PKA since 2007 for the PKFZ project. But KDSB's Faizal Abdullah was reported to have said that they have received only RM300 million or thereabouts. So in the words of my friend Shar101 ... what gives?

The following are the payment schedules obtained from a DAP website::

2007 - RM510 million
2008 - RM660 million
2009 - RM660 million
2010 - RM772 million
2011 - RM487 million
2012 - RM733 million
2013/2016 - RM170 million per annum
2017 - RM179 million

Total - RM4,681 million.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

KDSB to Sue

The Malay Mail yesterday quoted Faizal Abdullah (photo), the deputy CEO of Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd (KDSB), that the turnkey contractor of the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) has decided to set the record straight by taking the Port Klang Authority (PKA) and Transport Minister Ong Tee Keat to court three weeks from now.

He said the suit would be filed on the basis that PKA and Ong had allegedly painted "a bad picture" of the company that "damaged its credibility" despite it having delivered its end of the deal. Read about it, here.

The company also claimed that the PwC report insinuated that KDSB had colluded to defraud the government in the sale of land and the development of PKFZ.

Bully for you, Faizal.

To the uninitiated, Faizal is Kapar UMNO division youth head and son-in-law of my old friend Onn Ismail, the permanent chairman of UMNO and who at one time was both in the PKA board and chairman of the Pulau Lumut Development Cooperative, the original owner of the PKFZ land. Also in case everyone has forgotten, "Cikgu" Onn was also well known for having discharged his pistol in the air trying to quell a particularly boisterous UMNO division meeting in Port Klang some years ago ...

Never a dull moment, eh wot?

Friday, June 19, 2009

Bloggers Anonymous

I have always been somewhat "uncomfortable" with anonymous bloggers and commentors who hide behind pseudonyms, unless I happen to know them personally. Although I respect their rights and reasons for privacy, especially in the case of whistle blowers, I have always felt that it is rather unfair to us bloggers who are very transparent and stand by what we say and write about. The very damaging proliferation of faceless "cyber troopers" who spread lies and hatred with impunity in the internet is a case in point. Baling batu, sorok tangan* as we say in Malay.

Recently however, the expoof the true identities and photographs of some very controversial local bloggers leave a very bad taste in the mouth.

There is a rich history in the United States of protecting anonymous free speech. In attempting to maintain their anonymity, bloggers there have always claimed protection under the First Amendment. However, a High Court in London has ruled that bloggers have no right to privacy under British law since blogging is essentially a "public" rather than a "private" activity. Read about it, here.

Of course, certain aspects of free speech, like libel and defamation, are not protected anywhere. So to all my venomous anonymous blogger friends and acquaintances, clear the decks and watch your step.

* (Lit.) Throw stone, hide hand.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

MACC Chief No Show

In a breaking news, The Edge today reports, here, that the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) meeting on the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) affair was called off after Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief’s no-show today.

Despite getting a near-full quorum of 13 members of Parliament, PAC chairman Azmi Khalid decided to postpone the meeting to June 23 after MACC decided to send its investigation director instead of chairman Ahmad Said Hamdan.

On Ahmad Said’s absence, Azmi said that he probably has more "important things to attend to".

And I do hope that he was just being sarcastic ...

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Hybrid-Malay Woes

(In response to Shanon Shah's recent article about Dr. Farish Noor's "The Hybrid-Malay Malaysian Dilemma" in the The Nut Graph, here, my old friend, retired ambassador Dato Kadir Deen, sent this thoughtful note to his son Umran in London. Umran had asked, "Aren't we all hybrids?")


Many, if not most of us are. Our family is definitely hybrid. Farish's story reminds me somewhat of my own circumstances when I was growing up.

I was born smack in the middle of Chinatown in Ipoh, spoke Cantonese (and swore!) as fluently as any Cantonese child and lived there until my teens. My mean Chinese neighbours (but most were good ones and you know some that I'm still friends with even today) used to call us "chee san" (pig worshippers because we don't eat pork) and a whole lot of other things. First school I attended was a Malay school, where I was called a "Mamak" or "Bengali" because of my skin colour and features (we are hybrids you see!).

I later went to the Anglo Chinese School (ACS) and in my class of 40 there were only 4 Malays. We were often picked on until we made some good Chinese friends who helped us defend ourselves. In fact I became a bit of a thug myself, captained the school rugby 1st. team when I was in Form 3 and not many would dare pick on me. I remember a Chinese teacher who didn't like me who once said to me: "You stupid Malays shouldn't come to school, like elephants you belong to the jungle!".

Later when I went to university in England I also experienced racism. Even when I worked as a diplomat in 8 different countries I would come up against racists. So my experience in life tells me that no one race has the monopoly of racism, we are all exposed to it.

Like Farish I would like to see a Malaysia where every Malaysian child, irrespective of race or religion, can aspire to be the Prime Minister.

Love always...

Friday, June 12, 2009

No PAC Probe

Malaysiakini reported late yesterday, here, that the four key players in the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) debacle have been let off the hook by the parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) and will not be called in for questioning.

The four are former PKFZ general manager OC Phang, former Port Klang Authority chairperson and current Deputy Finance Minister Chor Chee Hueng and two former Transport Ministers Ling Liong Sik and Chan Kong Choy. The reason? Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is the rightful authority to probe the four. "We feel it is unnecessary," said PAC chairperson Nazri Khalid.

Which passeth all understanding.

At the recent DAP forum PKFZ: Will Heads Roll? I had vowed that if nothing comes to naught with these high profile probes etc., I will take it upon myself, together with a few former Klang Port Authority colleagues, to initiate a class action suit or public interest litigation or whatever to see justice done. We believe that perhaps we do have some measure of locus standi as concerned citizens and former employees of the port to start both criminal and civil proceedings for breach of trust and to recover the monies from those involved in this heinous crime.

Not that we have much faith in the judicial system either.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

PKFZ: Will Heads Roll?

In 2007, the Ministry of Finance has already extended a RM4.6 billion soft loan at 4% interest rate to Klang Port Authority to salvage the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) project. Now it appears that they will have to extend an additional RM3.56 billion loan to cover the cash flow deficit over the next 20 years! As projected by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC), this restructured financing will cost an additional RM5 billion in interest costs over the next 42 years!

The question now is, will heads roll over Malaysia's record bailout scandal, especially with existing Barisan Nasional leaders implicated by the project? Should the government continue to support the project with up to RM8.56 billion in tax payers' monies or should it cut losses and make better use of the funds for the rakyat in other more productive means?

I have been invited to speak at a forum organised by DAP Malaysia to discuss the above and to shed some light on the issue. Panelists will include DAP Parliamentary Leader Lim Kit Siang, Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua, DAP Economic Advisor Teh Chi Chang and Transparency International's Tan Sri Dr. Ramon Navaratnam.

Date : Wednesday 10 June 2009.
Time : 8 pm.
Venue : 2nd floor, The KL & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall, No. 1, Jalan Maharajalela, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (See map below)

All are welcome.

View Jalan Maharajalela in a larger map