Saturday, May 30, 2009

PKFZ Conspiracy Theories

In the loo of the Subang Lake View Club recently, a well known journo friend who was at the forefront of the expoof the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal, told me how put off he was at the talk of "conspiracy theories". I agreed with him. The RM12 billion fiasco was simply driven by one word: greed.

Now that the MSM and online media have gone to town with the story, there are calls to probe the big-time "puppet masters", sell off the PKFZ "black hole" etc., and the developers of the project are also threatening to sue. The latter I find very amusing since this will be akin to thieves suing a house owner for calling the cops!

My immediate concern is for the fate of my young former colleagues in the Klang Port Authority, especially now in the government search for scapegoats. Many were forced to do things which were against their principles and had signed cheques under protest etc. A few had resigned in disgust thereby losing their pension benefits.

Transport Minister Ong Tee Kiat has vowed that any "any decision on the PKFZ project will be made in the interest of the people." Lets hope that the decision will not jeopardise the interests of these little people.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

PKFZ: Report to be Released

In a breaking news, Malaysiakini reported yesterday, here, that the government has given the go-ahead for the controversial Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) audit report to be released in its entirety.

Klang Port Authority chairperson Lee Hwa Beng would be calling a press conference at 3.30 p.m. today to reveal the report, an independent audit done by PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC).

In his latest blog posting, here, Transport Minister Ong Tee Kiat suggested that he had fought a hard battle in his quest to get to the bottom of the controversy. “That journey does not end with the release of the report, which I have now directed Klang Port Authority to do so as soon as possible, once everything is in order."

"We have a lot of work to do to make sure that the findings of the report are acted upon and the interests of the people are protected,” he added.

Now this I have got to see.

UPDATE on Thursday May 28 2009 at 2000hrs:

The PwC report can now be viewed, here.

As the appendices are voluminous, they will only be made available for public viewing during office hours at Port Klang Authority at Jalan Pelabuhan, 42005 Port Klang for 2 weeks till 10th June, 2009.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Malay Rights

My old MCKK classmate Dr Nik Azam in Kelantan sent this interesting take on "Malay Rights" to our alumni website which I think is certainly food for thought:

It cannot be wrong to say that we are in our present position because of the above. Every country has its uniqueness and peculiarities, Malaysia is no exception. Many in the world will find it odd that the majority group in Malaysia has special rights above other groups. This came about due to incidents in Malaysian history.

It is a basic human trait that every individual will always want something more than the next individual. This urge for empowerment is a bigger drive than just seeking simple survival. Man had fought duels, battles and wars and in the process he died young. He would have survive longer if he did not fight in the first place, but surviving and living under what terms?

The non Malays now clamour for the abolishment of these rights. Rightly so for them, they also seek empowerment. As a group we have to find smart ways to keep on to these rights but at the same time not to be seen as unfair. Our generation had benefited from them, it is our duty that our beloved ones who come after us are not deprived because of our follies. Do not read special rights here to mean just simple rent seeking.

America, Britain, Japan all have what they call as their foreign policies and strategic interests and the military muscle to back them up. They speak of equality of opportunity and equal rights but the basic is they want more for themselves and to safeguard what they already have.

All of us here are very Malay, is not our old school, the Malay College. So this subject cut across political party affiliations. We have to see that the present politicking do not affect Malay Rights. Party Keadilan is open to all races but 60% of voters are Malays, so they have to give leeway to this. Our classmate is not going to be the future PM if he does not come out with something clever on this issue.

UMNO by its very name is the party of the Malays and should champion our rights. But in the last general elections they received less than 50% of Malay votes. Very strange and food for thought for all of us and UMNO. The reasons are well known, UMNO to the majority of Malays is no longer the champion of the ordinary Malay, but are self serving for themselves. There had been so much wastage of the resources of the country. The non Malays shout that their children with strings of As do not get scholarships, but there are also Malay students with strings of As without scholarships. After the recent political setbacks, UMNO in the name of liberalisation had been giving away what in an indirect manner may touch on what before were considered as Malay Rights. In business and finance about 30 such changes were made, Hindraf leaders had been freed. They were the people who accused Malays of practicing apartheid.

The latest political happening in Malaysia, the Court of Appeal decision on the Perak DUN had been a victory for UMNO and BN, but is there any thought given to how the majority of Malaysians and Malays think about it. Are they not the voters who will decide future elections. The victory may prove costly in the long run.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Causeway to Remain

Prime minister Najib has proposed to his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong, a new 'straight' bridge to link Johor and Singapore in his first official visit to the island state. The bridge, which will be built on the eastern side of Johor, will be the third link between the two countries.

Najib said the third link will help bring development to the eastern side of Johor, in areas such as Pengerang and Desaru. This will also mean that the Causeway will remain as it is and the controversial crooked bridge will not be pursued further. Lee has even suggested that the Causeway be widened and the rail link improved to further ease traffic movement. Read the Malaysiakini report, here.

Read also my earlier posting: "Stupid Bridge", here.

This must surely come as a slap in the face of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir who has been pushing for a 'dog-leg' or crooked bridge to replace the Causeway. During the recent Bloggers Universe Malaysia 2009 (BUM 2009) dialogue in Subang Jaya, he had wisecracked that 'everyone' in Johor Baru wants his crooked bridge except for former minister Shahrir Samad.

I didnt think it was funny. I also thought that it was bloody presumptuous of him and most unfair to Shahrir, a long time Member of Parliament for JB who should be in a better position to gauge the opinions of his constituents.

Lets hope that this is going to be the last time that we will hear of the stupid bridge, but I am not taking any bets here.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

PKFZ: Cabinet to Decide

And I thought it has already been decided by the previous cabinet to make the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) audit report on the RM12 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) fiasco available in its entirety to the general public!

Unless of course this is going to be just another merry here we go round the mulberry bush.

News reports has it that transport minister Ong Tee Kiat seems to be the only government official who is adamant that the report is made public without any more delays. If this is true, then I will have to take back everything I have said about him.

Minister Ong, I do humbly beg to apologise.

The Klang Port Authority (KPA) board meets this morning to deliberate on general manager Lim Thean Shiang 's sudden resignation. Rumour has it that Lim has gone to meet Najib to retract his letter but Ong, who has accepted Lim's resignation last week has already appointed 2 new GMs to fill in both the KPA and PKFZ posts.

Meanwhile, the rakyat waits and waits ...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

PKFZ: Day of Reckoning

My sources tell me that Lim Thean Shiang (photo), the young general manager of Klang Port Authority (KPA) who took over from the controversial O.C. Phang barely a year ago, has tendered his resignation to the KPA board. A lawyer by training, Lim is also executive chairman of KPA subsidiary Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) Sdn Bhd. But unlike former transport minister Chan Kong Choy, I bet his hasty departure cannot be because of "health reasons" but certainly over the RM12 billion PKFZ scandal which has necessitated a government bailout.

I believe PKFZ will feature prominently in tomorrow's cabinet meeting. As such, I wouldnt be surprised if no action will be taken and more excuses be found to further delay or even stop the release of the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) audit report in its entirety to the general public. PwC has asked KPA for indemnification of the report and this seems pretty reasonable to me under the circumstances.

It is believed that the PwC audit has uncovered practices contrary to rules and regulations, gross abuse of power, conflicts of interest, no accountability or transparency etc. etc. The culprits allegedly include politicians, members of the KPA and PKFZ boards (which unfortunately include my former boss Gnanalingam of Westport who was a member of both!) and also the then Minister of Transport.

It boggles the mind that the KPA board apparently was unaware of the agreements to form a subsidiary company for the land purchase! Neither was it aware of "corporate advisory services" for the 405-hectare PKFZ project until it was handed a RM130 million bill by a local consultancy firm recently.

Now dammit sirs, this isnt funny.

Other sources have also informed me that independent quantity surveyors have confirmed that the cost for the 4-star hotel in PKFZ should only be RM50 million instead of the RM90 million claimed by the contractor.

There is also a major dispute between TNB and KPA over the building of a sub station in PKFZ costing many RM millions. It seems that TNB has refused to cooperate, claiming that it should be only for less than half the cost!

Pray tell, what the bloody hell is going on here?

In view of all the above, I would like to urge the government to release the PwC audit report immediately, including all the appendices. I would also strongly recommend that steps are taken to initiate criminal and civil proceedings for breach of trust and to recover costs against all those responsible for this shameful episode.

Anything less would be simply unacceptable.

UPDATE on Wednesday May 20, 2009 at 0930hrs:
Read also the report from today's the Sun, here.

(Photo source: Business Times)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

B.U.M. 2009: The Event

As a member of the organising committee for Bloggers Universe Malaysia 2009 (BUM 2009) Dialogue, in conjunction with World Press Freedom Day, I shared chairperson Desiderata YL Chong's concern that we may not be able to fill in the limited 200-seat capacity at Subang's Lake View Club yesterday. This was especially with the Man U vs Arsenal match being telecast live on TV at about the same time. But our fears quickly dissipated with the arrival of our special 'surprise' guest, popular blogger and former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir (TDM) a.k.a. Che Det (photo, right) and the national press corps turning out in full force.

Aside from pushing for his controversial crooked bridge to Singapore again, among other things TDM spoke about in his 30-minute speech was the fact that during his long tenure as PM, he never imposed censorship on the mainstream media (MSM) or curtailed press freedom. He suggested that perhaps the MSM practised self censorship because it tried to 'second guess' what government leaders want.

Read reports from Malaysiakini, here and The Malaysian Insider, here. On the other hand, perhaps as a measure or indication of this 'self-censorship' he was talking about, I couldnt find anything about our event in today's NST or the Star online.

P.S: TDM also admitted at a press conference later that he has stopped reading the NST, so perhaps this is something we do have in common!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Perak: Let's Go Back to the People

You will agree with me that this business in Perak is getting a bit tiresome.

What boggles the mind is the foot dragging by the Perak royalty to dissolve the state assembly after repeated calls by many parties which now include Suhakam, Bar Council, Gerakan, MCA, Ku Li and the Senate president among others.

Even former PM Tun Dr Mahathir has said that the Sultan's role in the BN hasty takeover of the state was certainly not par for the course. And the Tun should know, for he was the man behind the many changes in the Federal Constitution affecting the Rulers' functions and responsibilities some years ago.

Meanwhile, Malaysiakini reports, here, that opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim has challenged Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak to hold a snap elections in Perak to solve the political crisis in the state.

"I want to ask why he is afraid of holding an elections?" he told the some 3,000 people who packed the Civic Centre Hall in Petaling Jaya last night.

Why, indeed.

(Costs? RM12 billion of taxpayers money is going down the drain at the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) and you want to talk about costs?)

Saturday, May 09, 2009

A Day of Infamy at Perak State Assembly!

(Source: The Star)

by Capt. Abdul Aziz Abdullah

The Prince was made to wait, while Assemblymen castigate;
Hurling abuses ingrate, at each other and officials of State;
In resplendent uniform innate, behaving more like primates;
'Tis a sad day for the State, whose Ruler was once prime adjudicate!

Why it came to this, do not require a thesis;
Once Rakyat's will dismiss, it invites action remiss;
What ought be basis, to prevent further crisis;
Many know what it is, few dare to act on this!

To assume ignorance, of pent up indignance;
With numbers imbalance, claiming governance;
May provide dominance, temporary sustenance;
Not for long continuance, nor stability assurance!

Why not dissolution, initiate state election;
Let Rakyat provide determination, their preference of faction;
To be in administration, to be governing sans confusion;
Bring state to progression, economic and political suasion!

The longer the acrimony, with semblance of anarchy;
Deeper into quandary, the state will be;
Sense ought be seen clearly, fair play epitome of integrity;
Resolve current ignominy, settle present ambiguity!

I pray to Almighty, provide 'em thought clarity;
'Tis the masses we pity, when elected reps be greedy;
Power-hungry they may be, heavy is their responsibility;
Never shirk accountability, do best for State & Country!

(A former colleague in Klang Port Authority, Capt. Aziz may just be Malaysia's answer to John Masefield. He now lectures at a local maritime academy)

UPDATE on Sunday May 10, 2009 (MOTHERS' DAY) at 1030 hrs:

A Homily to all Mummies!
by Capt. Abdul Aziz Abdullah

You nurtured me well, in your warm womb I dwell;
Causing you be unwell, nausea and others as well;
Yet you never tell, you never did spell;
The discomforts that befell, pregnancy unlike in eggshell!

When I entered this world, you treated me like gold;
Protected me from cold, sheltered me from dangers untold;
Mesmerised me with songs of old, cuddled me, oh, so bold;
You were savior to behold, you were epitome of love in whole!

When I was growing, you provide me everything;
At times saving scrapping, to ensure I had trappings,
Of a youth developing, to manhood so enterprising;
None was prohibiting, all my wants fulfilling!

The day I left home, to boarding school so lonesome;
You wept so woesome, unwilling to break our twosome;
I missed you awesome, longed for food so wholesome;
Yet, knowing you’re home, made me feel not worrisome!

You, in your wisdom, chose a spouse to end my bachelordom;
You ensured proper tandem, you prepared compatibility quorum;
Once own family became my forum, I visited you seldom;
Yet, ne’er you showed antagonism, granted me total freedom!

I focused on working, on earning a living;
Career concentrating, you appeared only in passing;
Occasions of joy missing, celebrations forfeiting;
Thought you were satisfying, monthly allowance receiving!

Call came unsuspecting, “Mum wishes you be accompanying”;
“To her grave!” – so startling, so very shocking;
I dropped everything, rushed home sans thinking;
Stayed with you till departing, fulfilled your wish – oh, ‘twas so hurting!

Mum, if only you can hear me – on this day so specially;
Moulded me successfully, though we’re just a level above poverty;
If I can only whisper softly, “I MISSED YOU, MUM, OH, SO DEARLY!”

(an orphan)

(Hmmm ... orphan or not, this guy now owe me a nasi kandaq!)

Friday, May 08, 2009

The One

My old buddy and former shipmate Capt. Jimmy Shroff in Mumbai wrote me about the implications of a belief in the reality of the One. Jimmy belongs to the small ethnic Parsi community in India and is a devout follower of the ancient Persian religion of Zoroaster. He wrote:

A central theme of most religions and most science is UNITY.

Religion names the unity as God or rather when we speak of the Unit in religious tones, we name the unit God. When the shy scientists disclose their passion they define their belief as the unity of forces.

What if this idea is true?
If there is just One, let us list the possible implications of a belief in the reality of the One, even if some of the implications appear astounding to us..


To read more, click here.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

PKFZ: Damning Disclosure

A day before the report on the controversial Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) project is due to be made public, Barisan Nasional MPs were briefed by the Port Klang Authority (PKA) yesterday and told that the cost of the project is now expected to be more than RM10 billion*!

The Sun also reports, here, that among the findings of Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC) audit report are that:

» No proper studies were undertaken before embarking on the project;

» Major decisions on the project were made without prior approval of PKA board;

» The PKA chairman and general manager entered into agreements without seeking the advice of the relevant government authorities;

» There was a failure to exercise adequate governance and implement checks and balances in the implementation of the project.

(These are things I have been frothing at the mouth harping for some time).

The report also detailed a series of conflict of interest situations, which include:

» Sementa assemblyman Abdul Rahman Palil was both the Pulau Lumut Development Co-operative (KPPL) chairman and a PKA director in 2002 when the land for PKFZ was sold by KPPL to PKA;

» Rashid Asari & Co, the legal firm retained by PKA, was also the same firm overseeing the inking of the sales and purchase agreement between KPPL and turnkey contractor Kuala Dimensi Sdn Bhd (KDSB).

(Interestingly, current BN Backbenchers’ Club chairman, Bintulu MP Tiong King Sing holds a controlling stake in KDSB. Former UMNO Treasurer Azim Zabidi is also a director of KDSB!)

One contributory aspect to the PKFZ mess, sources added, was that several Finance Ministry regulations on transparent accounting practices were not complied with and that the advice of the Attorney-General (A-G) was not sought.

The audit report also paints a troubling picture of officials in the Transport Ministry, noting that so-called "letters of support" signed by a former Minister of Transport for the issuance of the bonds could be construed as a guarantee and that PKA would have to meet its financial obligations under such an arrangement.

The PWC report is expected to be made public today, with strong evidence of massive corruption, shameless cronyism and blatant abuse of power by those involved. I say we throw the book at them, make 'em walk the plank, or whatever.

* I was told that if nothing is done quickly, this may even balloon to RM12 billion!

UPDATE at 1930 hrs: In a breaking news, Malaysiakini reports, here, that the audit report into the scandal-hit Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) was not released today as scheduled, due to “technical reasons”. PKA chairman Lee Hwa Beng has now put the blame on PWC which he says has "restricted access" to the report.

Didnt these morons specify the terms of reference of the audit?

My sources tell me that all that PWC insisted was that the report should not be used against them and that they are not responsible for the accuracy of the documents made available. This seems pretty reasonable to me under the circumstances.

I urge the Minister of Transport, Chairman and GM of KPA to resign ... NOW !

Monday, May 04, 2009

B.U.M. 2009: Update

Bloggers United Malaysia (BUM) 2009.
United with Universe ... Seats are limited to only 200 pax and 12 days to go. Have you signed up yet?

Date: Saturday 16 May 2009
Venue: Lake View Club, Subang Jaya
Theme: 4th and 5th Estates — on Collision Course?
1. Morning Session: 10.30AM – 12.30PM
Topic: The Media - Civil Society’s Perspectives

(a) Welcome address by Dr Lim Teck Ghee, Director, CPI
(b) Din Merican, Programme Director to PKR chief
(c) Dr KJ John, Civil Society activist
(d) Philip Koh, Lawyer
(e)Tentative: Art Harun, Lawyer-Blogger

Q and A Session (30 minutes)

**** Buffet Lunch *****

2. Afternoon (Bahasa Malaysia) Session: 2.30PM – 4.30PM
Topik: Bagaimanakah Media Baru boleh menggalakkan pemikiran kritis masyarakat?

(a) Faisal Mustaffa, Special aide to a DAP MP
(b) Fathi Aris Omar, Online Editor
(c) Fahri Azzat, Lawyer (updated 29/4)
(d) Dr Mustafa K Anuar, asst. Aliran secretary & Lecturer (updated 29/4)

Q and A Session (30 minutes)

******** Hi-Tea **********

3. Evening Session: 6.00PM – 8.15PM
Topic: Has The Old Media Failed Civil Society?

(a) YB Jeff Ooi, DAP MP for Jelutong, Pulau Pinang
(b) Ahirudin Attan aka Rockybru, All-Blogs Interim President
(c) YB Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, ADUN of Seri Setia, Selangor
(d) Steven Gan, Editor-in-chief,
(e) R Nadeswaran, Editor (Special reports and investigations), The Sun
(f) SURPRISE BLOGGER-SPEAKER to helicopter in?

Q and A Session (45 minutes)

****** BUFFET DINNER ********

More updates and details here: