The Israeli In KL

When Israeli diplomat David Roet attended a United Nations conference in Kuala Lumpur recently, the Opposition went into full swing trying to discredit the government saying that it wants to establish diplomatic relations with Israel.

In a statement, the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) explicitly states that the invitations to the Israeli delegates was issued by the UN as per Article III of the Host Country Agreement signed by the organisation and Malaysia so that the UN is able to conduct its conferences away from any of its established headquarters.

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The Article states, in part, that the Forum shall be opened to all UN member states and its Specialised Agencies. This was confirmed by Israel’s Hadashot TV which reported that Malaysia was compelled to host the Israelis, since it was required to grant visas to all delegations in order to hold the international conference.  Therefore, it is immaterial whether or not Malaysia has diplomatic relations with Israel.  It is for the same reason that Fidel Castro was able to attend the UN summit in New York in 1976, 1995 and 2000.

Malaysia-Israeli Relations

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If you walk along Jalan Zainal Abidin in Pulau Pinang which is just off Burmah Road near the Tune Hotel, you will come across an old cemetery.  That is a Jewish Cemetery.  Jalan Zainal Abidin was once called Jalan Yahudi or Jew Street, the only evidence that a Jewish enclave once existed on the island.

Israel first established contact with our pre-independence government in 1956 when Israeli Prime Minister Moshe Sharett visited Malaya to propose the appointment of an Israeli consul in Malaya.  Israel also voted in favour of the Malayan bid to become a UN member in 1957.  Trade between the two countries was in place.  This was banned in 1974, after the Yom Kippur war, but indirect trade (through third countries) was in place.

An Opposition supporter was quick to point out that according to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, between 2008 and 2011 trade between the two countries fluctuated considerably.  Israel’s exports to Malaysia peaked at USD798 million in 2010 while imports from Malaysia peaked in 2011 at USD93.6 million.

Although the preriod shown above shows the statistics was for the period between the end of Abdullah Badawi’s administration and the commencement of the Najib Razak administration, the flourish in trade could be traced back to the Mahathir administration.  In December 1993, as a consequence of the Oslo I Accord, Mahathir wrote a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

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Mahathir’s letter to Yitzhak Rabin in December 1993

The photo of the letter may be a bit difficult to read but I shall provide the transcript here:

PRIME MINISTER, MALAYSIA

21 December 1993

His Excellency Mr Yitzhak Rabin Prime Minister of Israel, JERUSALEM

I would like to thank you for your letter of 17 October informing me about the Agreement of Principles and Mutual Recognition between Israel and the PLO.

My government supports this positive development and views it as a first step towards the realization of a comprehensive solution to the Middle East problem. As a demonstration of Malaysia’s support to this development my country was represented at the Donor’s Conference to support The Middle East Peace held in Washington and subsequently pledged a modest financial contribution to the Palestinians to assist in their new tasks. My government has also offered the Palestinians technical assistance under the Malaysian Technical Cooperation Programme.

Malaysia as a matter of general principle is prepared to develop relations with Israel at the appropriate time. In the meantime, we would like to see tangible progress in the implementation of the peace agreement.

The Middle East problem particularly the Palestinian issue has been a cause of instability to the region and I hope the recent agreement between Israel and PLO would contribute to lasting peace to the area.

I look forward to normal relations with Israel.

DR. MAHATHIR BIN MOHAMAD

I intentionally made bold the last line because, while the rest of the content which, obviously was drafted by someone else, Mahathir wrote that bold part saying he looked forward to normal relations with Israel himself.  Yes, it was handwritten.

In the most recent diplomatic history, Obama wished to have normal relations with Cuba.  Diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba was subsequently restored.  The following year, PKR’s Chua Jui Meng, who was the then-Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry, suggested that Israel could eventually become a destination for Malaysia’s investments (Shanti Nair, Routledge, 1997 p.252).

As a result, in 1999 Israeli exports to Malaysia totalled USD107 million.  In 2000, it was USD732 million, and USD615.5 million the following year.  In 2002, the Israel Ministry of Industry report on trade relations with Indonesia and Malaysia advised Israelis interested in conducting business with Malaysian companies that “there is no opposition to trade and commerce relations as long as a low profile is kept“.

Discretion is essential for these companies, not just in Malaysia but also in Indonesia.  Reputation and financial damage are the risks for companies in these two countries if they are known to be doing trade with Israel.  According to Emanuel Shahaf, the vice chairman of the Israel-Indonesia Chamber of Commerce, “There are two contradictory trends. The pro trend is that Indonesia demands more high-tech things… The negative trend is the political situation is not getting better (when it comes to Israel), in fact it’s getting worse.”

Mahathir’s son Mukhriz, who was the Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industry in 2011 confirmed that Malaysia has had bilateral trade relations with Israel since 1996.

Mukhriz tweeted “Upon request from large foreign investors here, in 1996 the Cabinet instructed MITI to approve import from and export to Israel.” The relevation came as a surprise, especially as the trade ties were established during the Mahathir administration.  Mahathir has been a vocal opponent of Israel and continues to project this false stand via his Perdana Leadership Foundation which openly opposes Israeli occupation of Palestinian land.  Najib took over from Abdullah only in 2009.

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So, thank you Mahathir for his eagerness to start a diplomatic relationship with Israel in 1993.

Congratulations also to the Opposition states as they received a lot of FDI from Israeli companies.  Don’t forget to thank Mukhriz for that information and confirmation.

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Shalom Alekhem!

Pakatan Hampas

Kerajaan Persekutuan berhasrat untuk membina sejuta rumah mampu milik di semua negeri di Malaysia, termasuk di negeri-negeri yang ditadbir oleh Pakatan Harapan.  Namun, nilai hartanah yang tinggi, terutamanya di negeri-negeri di bawah pentadbiran Pakatan Harapan, menjadi batu penghalang hasrat tersebut.

Masalah Di Selangor

Semasa di bawah pentadbiran Barisan Nasional, rumah mampu milik merupakan tanggungjawab badan-badan kerajaan negeri seperti Perbadanan Kemajuan Negeri Selangor (PKNS).  Namun, sejak pentadbiran diambil alih oleh Pakatan Rakyat pada tahun 2008, PKNS bertukar menjadi sebuah agensi yang mengejar keuntungan.

Pebangunan hartanah merupakan sumber hasil bagi kerajaan negeri dan pihak berkuasa tempatan melalui yuran tukar penggunaan tanah, pembahagian-pembahagian kecil dan lain-lain hal berkenaan dengan tanah.  Kesemua kos-kos ini telah meningkat sejak pengambil alihan pentadbiran oleh Pakatan.

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Kenaikan bayaran premium tanah di Selangor sahaja adalah sebanyak 299 peratus sejak 2008

Penjualan tanah di bawah harga pasaran adalah salah satu cara untuk mengadakan rumah kos murah.  Namun, kebiasaan tersebut telah dihapuskan.  Malah, PKNS sendiri kini terpaksa membida untuk tanah pada harga pasaran?

Kita perlu meneliti prosedur-prosedur yang dikenakan terhadap para pemaju oleh pelbagai jabatan kerajaan negeri dan pihak-pihak berkuasa tempatan.

Birokrasi dan sikap berdolak-dalik merupakan sebab-sebab lazim yang melambatkan proses dan ini menambahkan lagi kos.  Perbelanjaan dan faedah pinjaman bank perlu dibayar walaupun projek belum dapat dimulakan.  Kita belum lagi berbincang mengenai  rasuah dan ini boleh memberi kesan besar terhadap kos kerana kadar yang diminta oleh ‘orang-orang tengah’ untuk ‘melicinkan proses’ boleh menjadi besar dan untuk setiap tandatangan yang diperlukan.

Tidak meghairankanlah jika sebahagian besar pemaju berpendapat bahawa pihak kerajaan negeri dan pihak berkuasa tempatan merupakan batu halangan terhadap rumah mampu milik kerana tanah merupakan hak dan kuasa kerajaan negeri dan bukan kerajaan persekutuan.  Maka, kerajaan persekutuan tiada hak untuk memperbetulkan keadaan ini.

Masalah di Pulau Pinang

Kalau gambarajah di atas menunjukkan bayaran premium tanah yang meningkat di Selangor, kita lihat gambarajah seterusnya yang menunjukkan lonjakan caj cukai hartanah di Selangor dan Pulau Pinang sejak 2008:

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Lonjakan caj cukai hartanah kepada penduduk tempatan sejak Pakatan mentadbir Selangor dan Pulau Pinang

Kerajaan negeri dan pihak berkuasa tempatan perlu serius dalam mengotakan janji mereka untuk mengadakan rumah-rumah kos rendah dan rumah mampu milik.  Di penghujung penggal kedua berkuasa di Pulau Pinang, DAP masih belum menyerahkan rumah mampu miliknya yang pertama, malah menyalahkan kerajaan persekutuan di atas kegagalannya sendiri.

Kampung-kampung tradisi, terutamanya penempatan tradisi orang-orang Melayu, dirobohkan untuk memberi laluan kepada para pemaju membangunkan kondominium mampu tengok dan lain-lain pembangunan komersil.  Kerajaan negeri Pulau Pinang juga bersikap tidak bertanggung jawab menjual tanah-tanah milik kerajaan negeri kepada para pemaju hinggakan hanya tinggal baki tujuh peratus sahaja tanah kerajaan negeri di Pulau Pinang.  Ini bermakna peuang untuk mendirikan rumah-rumah mampu milik di Pulau Pinang semakin halus.

Para pemaju kecil juga tidak berpeluang untuk mengambil bahagian dalam pembangunan di Pulau Pinang akibat caj-caj yang dikenakan terhadap para pemaju begitu tinggi.  Kita lihat gambarajah seterusnya:

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Kenapa kerajaan negeri Pulau Pinang begitu galak menaikkan kadar caj-caj? Siapa yang membuat untung sedangkan rakyat tidak lagi mampu memiliki sebarang hartanah di dalam negeri tersebut?

Dari gambarajah di atas kita dapat lihat kerakusan kerajaan negeri Pulau Pinang di bawah pentadbiran DAP hanya mementingkan keuntungan dan membelakangkan keperluan rakyat.

Di bawah kerajaan DAP, sumbangan perumahan kos rendah dikenakan sebanyak RM150,000 bagi setiap unit.  Di bawah BN tiada caj dikenakan.  Setiap gerai penjaja dikenakan RM58,000 – kenaikan sebanyak RM55,000 berbanding dengan semasa di bawah pentadbiran BN.  Untuk penyediaan kemudahan komuniti seperti padang, dewan serbaguna, masjid dan surau dan sebagainya, kerajaan DAP mengenakan caj sebanyak RM500 sekaki persegi berbanding RM25 sekaki persegi di bawah BN.  Untuk infrastruktur seperti jalan dan saliran, kerajaan DAP mengenakan RM15 sekaki persegi berbanding tiada caj di bawah BN untuk jalan, dan RM50,000 seekar untuk saliran berbanding RM10,000 di bawah BN.

Satu lagi bukti kerajaan DAP tidak menghiraukan keperluan rakyat ialah mengenakan caj sebanyak RM500 sekaki persegi untuk setiap tadika yang disediakan.  Tiada caj dikenakan oleh pentadbiran BN Pulau Pinang sebelum ini.

Berapa pula premium tanah yang dikenakan oleh kerajaan DAP Pulau Pinang?  Kita telah melihat lonjakan dahsyat di negeri Selangor sejak 2008, kita lihat pula keadaannya di Pulau Pinang:

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1,671 peratus kenaikan sejak 2008. Beginilah rakusnya DAP apabila berkuasa

Nampak gayanya premium tanah yang dikenakan oleh kerajaan DAP Pulau Pinang melonjak dengan begitu banyak sekali berbanding semasa di bawah pentadbiran BN pada tahun 2007.  Pengurangan hanya berlaku dua kali iaitu pada tahun 2008 semasa mula-mula memegang pentadbiran negeri.  Mungkin ketika ini mereka hendakkan maklumbalas positif mengenai cara DAP mentadbir negeri.  Kemudian kenaikan dikenakan sedikit demi sedikit dan melonjak besar selepas memegang tampuk pentadbiran kerajaan negeri selepas 2013, kemudian turun sedikit pada tahun 2016 selepas Lim Guan Eng dihadapkan ke mahkamah di atas satu perbuatan rasuah – salahguna kuasa dan jawatan untuk kepentingan dirinya.

Ringkasannya

Caj-caj dan bayaran premium yang dikenakan terhadap para pemaju di Pulau Pinang menyebabkan rumah mampu milik di Pulau Pinang yang berkeluasan 1,000 kaki persegi menjadi RM120,000 seunit berbanding RM42,000 seunit semasa di bawah pentadbiran BN.  Apabila dikenakan kadar faedah sebanyak 5 peratus setahun untuk tempoh pinjaman 30 tahun, bayaran faedah akan menjadi RM116,569.73 atau RM671.03 setiap bulan.  Kos keseluruhan akan menjadi RM236,569.73 setiap unit.  Adakah kadar bulanan ini mampu dibayar oleh mereka yang dari golongan berpendapatan rendah?

Keengganan kerajaan negeri Selangor di bawah PKR memberi kerjasama dengan agensi perumahan kerajaan pusat seperti PR1MA dan PPR mendatangkan masalah untuk kerajaan pusat membantu kerajaan negeri membina rumah-rumah kos rendah dan mampu milik.  Setakat ini hanya 11,000 unit rumah sahaja yang daat didirikan berbanding sasaran 70,000.

Ini berbeza sekali dengan kerajaan negeri Kelantan di bawah PAS yang menerima bantuan kerajaan pusat dengan tangan terbuka.  Setakat Ogos 2017, 418 unit PPR telah dibina di Machang manakala 1,000 unit telah dibina di Kota Bharu.  Ini menunjukkan walaupun berlainan fahaman politik, kerajaan PAS sanggup mengenepikan perjuangan demi kesejahteraan rakyat, tidak seperti Pakatan Harapan yang tidak langsung memberi harapan kepada para pengundi.

Pandai-pandailah anda menilaikan sendiri siapa yang mendahulukan kepentingan rakyat dan siapa yang mendahulukan kepentingan keuntungan.

Reformasi Untuk Mahathir

Mahathir’s return to politics in 1973 was watched closely by other races, in particular the Chinese and Indians.  His meteoric rise to the Deputy Prime Minister’s post in 1976 was of grave concern by many.  His imminent Premiership caused a large number of migration by Malaysian Chinese.  Despite the economic growth in the late 1980s through 1997, some 42,000 Malaysian Chinese opted to work elsewhere.  This number includes some 14,000 Malaysian Chinese who were working illegally in Japan in 1993 (Shimada, 1994).

If citizenship is conferred on races other than the Malays, it is because the Malays consent to this,” wrote Mahathir in his book ‘The Malay Dilemma‘.

“The Chinese and Indians coming from countries with vast populations are less concerned about good behavior and manners. In their lives, nobility, which is always associated with breeding, was totally absent. Age and riches are the only things they defer to,” he added.

Calling for reforms such as the mandatory use of tamper-proof scales, Mahathir wrote of scales that can be used to shortchange customers and said, ”The small-time Chinese retailer is adept at this practice and unscrupulous enough to use it as a weapon in competition.”

Mahathir was the ultra-Malay to many including the Malays themselves.  Fears of race clashes haunted the voters during the run-up to the 1982 General Elections.  I remember being sent to Mimaland in Gombak with Datuk Latt Shariman (President, E-Sports Malaysia) on polling day in case something bad happens.  It was the first General Elections under Mahathir and it was called more than a year before the then-mandate ended.  Public rallies were banned citing ‘security’ reasons and only indoor gatherings and house-to-house canvassing were allowed (Lim Kit Siang, 22 March 1982).

Even though Malaysia’s economic growth peaked at 8 percent in the mid 1990s, it was mired in scandals involving the practice of cronyism and nepotism.  Lim Kit Siang wrote that Mirzan, Mokhzani and Mukhriz Mahathir – acted as companies’ directors, and that according to searches the DAP had made at the Registry of Companies at the end of 1994, Mirzan had interests in 98 companies, Mokhzani in 48 companies and Mukhriz in 67 companies (Lim Kit Siang, 16 June 1998).  Compared to the 213 companies his sons were directors in back in 1994, 488 is the number of companies Mahathir, daughter and sons are directors in as at end of 2016 (Wakeup Malaya, 6 January 2017).

The calls for Mahathir to resign in 1998 for practising nepotism and cronyism culminated in the sacking of Anwar Ibrahim as his deputy in September of the same year, accusing the latter not only of being a tool for George Soros’s attacks on the country’s financial system but also for leading a morally-corrupted life.  Lim Kit Siang and other Opposition leaders were quick to embrace Anwar, acccepting him into their fold when it was just a year earlier that the late Karpal Singh had made mention of allegations of sexual misconducts against Anwar in a Parliamentary sitting – a scene not much different to Lim Kit Siang’s immediate acceptance of Mahathir after decades of mudslinging the latter.

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Anti-Mahathir demonstrations were held almost daily and then held every Friday afternoon at the National Mosque.  These demonstrations were quelled using brute force.  The ‘Reformasi’ movement was born, and the likes of theatre-practitioners such as Jo Kukathas were seen on the streets and interviewed by Maria Ressa saying “Enough is Enough” to Mahathir.  Anwar and several other pro-Reformasi and UMNO leaders critical of Mahathir were arrested without trial under the ISA including current DPM Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Parti Keadilan Rakyat, then known by its acronym ADIL, was born out of hatred towards Mahathir, with the aim of toppling him and installing Anwar Ibrahim.  The 1999 General Elections saw how Mahathir suffered a pyrrhic victory, losing grounds in Kelantan and his homestate of Kedah, while losing Terengganu to PAS.  Mahathir-loyalists such as Ramli Ngah Talib, Megat Junid Megat Ayub and Sanusi Junid lost their seats.  That was the beginning of the sounding of the death knell for Mahathir’s virtually unchallenged reign.  During the UMNO General Assembly of 2002, he announced his resignation from party posts as well as Malaysia’s Prime Minister.

Ever since then, with the more open administrations of Pak Lah and Najib Razak, Mahathir became one of the targets of the Opposition in their blog posts, press statements as well as ceramahs.

In June 2012, Mahathir’s newly-made best friend even suggested that Mahathir is tried for his part in the BNM Forex scandal, hinting Egyptian Hosni Mubarak’s imprisonment as a comparison (Lim Kit Siang, 3 June 2012).

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But all is forgotten and forgiven now, even when Mahathir admitted that his apology was only customary and not sincere.  Despite veiled objections from Anwar and Azmin Ali’s camp, Mahathir was named at a Pakatan convention as their Prime Minister of choice albeit interim.   This underscores the fact that the leadership of Pakatans parties do not trust the younger generation to lead the coalition as the position of the elders and powers that come with the position, may be undermined by the younger ones.

The signal of dissent is clear.  Azmin only attended the convention for a while, not waiting for the announcement to be made while Karpal Singh’s daughter, Sangeet Kaur Deo,  has hit out at Pakatan which probably is suffering from a dearth of capable young leaders.  Even Mahathir once quipped that Anwar, who is 22 years his junior, may be too old to become a Prime Minister.

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On Facebook, we are seeing people in their 40s and 50s voicing out their concern over Pakatan’s choice of Prime Minister, alarmed that the monster they have put behind them, could very well jump out from underneath the bed and into their lives again.

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But it does not stop Mahathir from wanting to become the Prime Minister.  He once hinted that he may have to consider becoming the PM again, underscoring the fact that he does not trust anyone else.

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“I may be 93 but at 71 Anwar is much older!”

Wan Azizah may be blind to the fact that Mahathir had once denied the Premiership to her husband and went as far as making sure Anwar went to jail to keep him out of the way, while Lim Kit Siang is only friends with Mahathir because he needs the Malay votes to ensure Pakatan’s seats are sustained after the departure of PAS from the now-defunct Pakatan Rakyat.

Will Mahathir be willing to step aside for Anwar Ibrahim or whoever else younger who would be more acceptable to the younger and middle-aged generation aware of his antics?  I doubt.  But as Sangeet mentioned above, it will be a return to Mahathirism, an era of abuse of power, cronyism and nepotism that the Reformasi movement was totally against.

Somehow, it seems that the Reformasi movement has become a tool for what it was totally against – ushering Mahathir into the premiership and welcoming again abuse of pwer, nepotism and cronyism.

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Anwar is NOT going to be MY PM

 

DAP Benefitted From Military Camps

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Recently Kluang Member of Parliament Liew Chin Tong slammed Minister of Defence Hishammuddin Hussein for denying that an army camp was being built in Paloh, a state seat in the latter’s constituency of Sembrong.  Liew Chin Tong implied that the army camp is being built for political purposes.

“This proves that Barisan Nasional (BN) is using these army camps to increase voters in constituencies that it won with thin majorities in the 13th general election,” Liew told a press conference last week.

He said the inclusion of the army personnel in Paloh would increase the electorate by over 1,000 voters.

“In Paloh, DAP lost only by a few hundred votes and these new voters will result in another BN win,” he added.

The fact is that while members of the Malaysian Armed Forces swears its allegiance to the Yang DiPertuan Agong, His Majesty’s Government (the Government-of-the-Day), and the Country, each member of the Malaysian Armed Forces are free to vote for whom they are politically-inclined to support.  Therefore, having a military camp/base does not guarantee you any solid support for votes.  I had written at length on this issue of allegiance in a recent blog post.

Perhaps it would be good for Liew Chin Tong to admit that he won Kluang against the Barisan Nasional in 2013 because of the presence of a huge army camp, namely Kem Mahkota, that houses the 61st Royal Artillery Regiment as well as the 881st Regiment, Malaysian Army Aviation.

Come to think of it, out of the 89 Parliamentary seats won by the then-Pakatan Rakyat during the 13th General Elections four years ago, at least 18 parliamentary constituencies have major military camps/bases in them.  That is 20 percent of the total of parliamentary consituencies held by the Pakatan candidates. Here is the list that I have compiled:

Senarai Kem Tentera Bawah PH 2013

Let us take for example the Lumut Naval Base which is under PKR.  That base alone had 14,231 registered voters while PKR’s Mohamad Imran Abd Hamid won 40,308 votes.  Why didn’t Barisan Nasional win there?

Perhaps Liew Chin Tong should also inform all Malaysians that out of the 18 constituencies with major military camps/bases that was won by the Pakatan back in 2013, eight seats were won by the DAP. That is 44 percent!  Despite being the other “Malay” party within the Pakatan, PKR managed only seven seats or 38 percent. PAS could only get three then but one of those seats, Shah Alam, is now firmly under Khalid Samad of Amanah after he betrayed his oath to remain in PAS if nominated as a candidate and would divorce his wife if he jumps ship.  Shah Alam is the home of a major Royal Malaysian Air Force base – Subang.

Pakatan and its supporters should just stop politicising the Malaysian Armed Forces.  As towns and cities are developed, old camps and bases are no longer strategic nor conducive to be inhabited.  How could Pakatan, advertising that it is all for rights and stuff, allow military personnel to live and work in deplorable and antiquated conditions?  And as development creep into their surrounding areas, military bases are no longer of any strategic value.  I have addressed this issue in a posting of mine and so has my friend Danny Liew in his recent posting.

So, wouldn’t DAP now like to offer a piece of land in constituencies held by it for Hishammuddin to build military bases or camps?

BNM Forex Scandal: A Crime Against Malaysians Exposed By Lim Kit Siang

I simply do not comprehend the fuss that is being kicked up by Mahathir’s fanatics.  On one hand they want the transparency that none of us got when Mahathir was the Prime Minister; on the other they are fuming because Mahathir, Nor Mohamed Yackop and Anwar have been implicated in the findings of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) for the Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) foreign exchange scandal of the 1990s.

Mahathir’s long-time crony Daim Zainuddin, who served as finance minister from 14 July 1984 to 15 March 1991, for having aided and abetted Nor Mohamed by leaving BNM “to its own devices”.

Let us ask the very man whose perseverance has finally paid off:

This ought to be the reaction to the RCI findings if we are to ask Lim Kit Siang

Yes. The loss of RM31.5 billion through forex gambling was and still is a crime against the Malaysian people.  And if it weren’t for Lim Kit Siang’s persistence and perseverance, we would not have gotten where we are now.

Three people have been found principally liable for the criminal breach of trust and should be probed further over their involvement and liability.  They are the former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, his then-Finance Minister Anwar Ibrahim, and ex-BNM advisor Nor Mohamed Yackop.

The commission found in its 524-paged report that the Cabinet in the 1990s was not given the full picture by Anwar on the forex losses, adding that he had “deliberately concealed facts and information and made misleading statements“. It is also of the opinion that the then Prime Minister (Mahathir) had condoned the actions of the Finance Minister.

The RM31.5 billion losses, the report said, were hidden using “unconventional accounting treatments”, such as booking losses to reserves in the balance sheet and the absorption of the remaining losses by the transfer of shares from the Government to BNM as well as the creation of a “Deferred Expenditure” to be repaid in instalments over a decade.

The RCI noted that Anwar Ibrahim, the then Finance Minister, had been informed about the actual forex losses suffered by BNM. It also said that Mahathir was informed by Anwar together with then Treasury deputy secretary-general Tan Sri Clifford Francis Herbert in late 1993 that BNM had suffered estimated losses of RM30 billion on the forex dealings for 1992 and 1993.

However, in the extract of minutes from three Cabinet meetings on March 30, April 6 and 13 in 1994, Anwar had made “no mention of the actual losses of RM12.3 billion for 1992 and RM15.3 billion for 1993.”

Anwar had chaired the March 30 meeting as the deputy prime minister. The losses for 1993 were reported as RM 5.7 billion.

The RCI also noted that the prime minister, who chaired the meeting on April 6, did not correct or offer more information when the forex losses for 1993 were recorded as only RM5.7 billion.

The RCI report said as pointed out by Herbert, he had expected Mahathir to be outraged but his reaction was quite normal with him uttering “sometimes we make profit, sometimes we make losses”.

His reaction to and acceptance of the huge forex losses suggest that he could have been aware of the forex dealings and its magnitude,” said the report.

Why Did It Take So Long?

Of course supporters of Mahathir got their knickers in a knot over the RCI findings, mostly harp on the duration it took to have a RCI formed, whether it was formed to time itself with the looming general elections so that the Pakatan Harapan would be epitome of broken hopes?

Lim Kit Siang may have harped on the matter, trying to get an RCI formed since 1994, if not earlier.  Mahathir was the Prime Minister then until the end of 2003.  No one during Pak Lah’s time took up the issue as Mahathir was then breathing down Pak Lah’s neck watching the latter’s every move.  In the end, Mahathir got Pak Lah ousted for not playing his game his way.

When Najib Razak took over at the beginning of the second quarter of 2009, Malaysia’s economy had shrunk even though oil price was high.  The GDP growth rate for Malaysia in 2009 was -2.5 percent because of the global financial crisis then, hence Najib Razak’s priority then was to safeguard the economy and take measures to improve on the GDP growth.

Malaysia’s GDP growth rate for 2009 was -2.5%

And ever since then Najib had been fighting on all fronts to make sure that Malaysia goes through a sustainable growth, and that there would be enough government money to still help the people, especially those from the B40 income group.  Hence, we see various initiatives like the 1Malaysia Clinic, Kedai Rakyat 1Malaysia (which is now being revamped), BR1M, PR1MA and various other 1Malaysia initiatives.

And while all that was happening, Lim Kit Siang was still going around asking for an RCI to be formed for the BNM forex scandal.  In the run up to the 13th General Elections, Lim Kit Siang wrote this on the BNM forex scandal:

“I had estimated in Parliament two decades ago that Bank Negara lost a colossal RM30 billion from the Bank Negara foreign exchange scandal under Mahathir’s premiership. But Bank Negara claimed RM10.1 billion loss in 1992 and RM5.7 billion in 1993 while former Bank Negara Deputy Governor Dr. Rosli Yaakop estimated last year at a public forum that Bank Negara lost between USD27 to USD33 billion, which was five times more than its foreign reserves and its entire assets of USD20.7 billion in 1992.”

You can read more on what Dr Rosli Yaakop had said on the BNM forex scandal  HERE.

Lim Kit Siang also said that Malaysian voters should not only pass a verdict on Najib’s non-transformation in the past four years, but also pass judgment on Mahathir’s 22 years of authoritarian and corrupt policies when he was Prime Minister from 1981 – 2003.  He said:

“I am on public record as saying that if Pakatan Rakyat is to capture Putrajaya in the 13GE, we should re-open investigation not only on the RM30 billion Bank Negara forex scandal of 1992, there should be a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the RM100 billion losses suffered by the country in the financial scandals of the 22-year Mahathir era.”

Kit Siang added that the voters should decide whether they endorse the proposal to have a wide-ranging public inquiry into Mahathir’s financial scandals in 22 years which have cost the country RM100 billion of losses and for which the present generation of Malaysians are still paying the price – although there is totally no accountability and transparency about these glaring instances of corruption, cronyism and abuses of power for more than three decades.

He said all that HERE.  And we should not forget that Lim Kit Siang also wrote a book on the BNM forex scandal.

And finally, and only when the economic outlook had improved, did Najib Razak announced that an RCI would be formed to investigate the BNM forex scandal.

In June 2017, Lim Kit Siang even wanted the report recommending the RCI to be made public.  Finally, on 8 August 2017, the RCI commenced, and Kit Siang’s 25 years of wait ended.

Kit Siang’s hard work finally paid off

And one other Pakatan leader who had been lying very low beneath the BNM forex scandal radar is Anwar Ibrahim.  If anyone was to ask why did the government not do anything between 2004 and 2017, the answer would be why hadn’t Anwar, since 2 September 1998, asked for an RCI on the matter? Was he afraid that he might get implicated?

You and I know the answer to that now.

And what about the 1MDB scandal? Well, unlike the BNM forex scandal, the 1MDB case was investigated by the Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee, the Royal Malaysian Police, Bank Negara Malaysia and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.  Police reports were also made against 1MDB. But not a single sen had gone missing!

For the BNM forex scandal, this is the first time that it has been investigated – by the RCI, and soon by the Royal Malaysian Police.  And the first police report was made by a member of the RCI itself after the RCI findings report was published – 25 years after the whole thing happened.

So, we should all say our thank you to Lim Kit Siang for exposing this crime against ALL Malaysians. Thank you, Lim Kit Siang – for persistently asking for your good friends to be investigated.

A Flood Of Incompetence

I am surprised that a former Brigadier General doesn’t know that you cannot simply deploy the military without explicit instructions

Former army Brigadier turned politician, Arshad Raji, seems to like the attention the electronic media has been according him lately, and he speaks about a wide spectrum of issues – from falling for Mahathir’s fake news of the so-called withdrawal of his close police protection, to the management of the floods in Pulau Pinang.

In the latter issue it was as if he was trying to downplay the Deputy Prime Minister and the BN-led Federal Government’s involvement in the management of the floods.  He was right about some of it, though.  Under the National Security Council Directive No.20, when a state emergency is declared following a disaster affecting two districts or more, the State Disaster Management Committee can call for assistance in the form of assets, finance, and other resources on the state level, and limited form of assistance from federal agencies within the state – the police, armed forces, civil defence etc.  This does not require a call to the Deputy Prime Minister at all.

Look at Level II Disaster Management by the State

The State Disaster Management Committee is chaired by the Chief Minister or Menteri Besar while the Chief Executive is the State Secretary.  But what Arshad Raji did not know, or chose to not reveal during his “press conference” was the fact that until now Lim Guan Eng has not declared a state of emergency in Pulau Pinang despite floods inundating four out of five districts in Pulau Pinang namely Seberang Prai Utara, Seberang Prai Selatan, Barat Daya and Timur Laut.

Don’t blame the Federal Government. Tokong himself did not declare a state of emergency

I lived in Pulau Pinang, on the pulau itself for three years and four months in the late 1980s and never once saw floods affecting the state on this level.  The most I would see is pockets of areas in Datuk Keramat and the Green Lane (Jalan Masjid Negeri) – Jalan Air Itam junction near the State Mosque.  Even then you could still pass the areas on your motorcycle.  Having eight deaths because of floods in a year was unheard of (one died earlier in September while seven this time around).

No rain, no floods” seems to be the best of Lim Guan Eng’s quotes pertaining to floods in Pulau Pinang.  This time, the deluge is blamed on a tyhoon that is battering Vietnam, and rightfully so.  Every time a typhoon hits Vietnam, the northern Peninsular states would receive an extra amount of rainfall.  And since 1881, Vietnam has been battered by 68 typhoons excluding the one that has just hit them.  However, the shocking bit is where 119 flash floods have hit Pulau Pinang since 2013!  That is 2.5 flash floods per month for the last four years!

I wonder why this is the case of late?

It does not take an engineer to tell you that when you do excessive hillside developments, the soil cannot absorb the rainwater as the oxidised topsoil would be transformed into a clay-like material.  The run-offs would be washed into monsoon drains, clogging up the roadside gutters and making the storm sewers shallower as silt accumulates at the bottom.  These drains flow out to sea along natural coastlines, which is why monsoon drains act as gravity sewers.  In Pulau Pinang, you can hardly find a natural coastline as most beaches with gradient have been reclaimed, and the gradient tapers off, diminishing the gravity effect.  Storm water therefore does not flow into the sea but accumulates and saturates the flatter grounds causing floods.

But who cares about eight deaths this year due to floods and one last year when you can make money selling condominium units to the rich?  But it is this excessive development by the state government that was voted in by the Pulau Pinang people that is now killing the Pulau Pinang people and have caused untold miseries.

Everyone also knows that when it is the new moon or full moon, tides will be higher than usual, and that makes it harder for storm drains and rivers to flow water out to sea, what more when there is excessive water caused by the backlash of a typhoon.

Phases of the moon for November 2017

You can see that from 1 November 2017 the moon was in an advanced waxing gibbous phase and full moon over Georgetown, Pulau Pinang occured at 12.40am on Saturday, 4 November 2017.  The Malaysian Meteorological Department had issued a series of bad weather warnings for the northern Peninsular states from 31 October 2017, and every day from then on.

Met Department warning for the northern states on 31 October 2017
Met department warning the northern states that the bad weather was going to last at least four days from 1 November 2017
Another Met department warning on 2 November 2017 reminding the northern states that the bad weather was going to last at least four days until 4 November 2017
Another Met department warning issued on 3 November 2017 for the northern states that the bad weather was going to last at least until 4 November 2017

You can see that there was ample warning by the Malaysian Meteorological Department that the weather was going to be bad for four days.  What did Lim Guan Eng or his State Disaster Management Committee do?  Nothing, until it got really bad.  And at 3.00am, Lim Guan Eng became a cry baby and called the Deputy Prime Minister for help, without even declaring a state emergency.

Lim Guan Eng called the DPM for help at 3am on 5 November 2017, five days after the initial warning was issued by the Malaysian Meteorological Department

Where was his State Disaster Management Committee?  Why had they not sat down to make preparations to mitigate the situation?

Lim Guan Eng was quick to point fingers at Kelantan in the aftermath of the disastrous floods at the end of 2014.  He pointing out that corruption and the incompetency of the Kelantan state government, as well as the rampant hillside clearing as the causes of the floods.

Well, we know that there is rampant hillside clearing in Pulau Pinang.  We also know that the Chief Minister was charged on two accounts of corruption, and we also know now that it was the incompetency of the Pulau Pinang State Disaster Management Committee led by Lim Guan Eng himself as the Chairman that had caused the situation to be worse than it should be.

Lim Guan Eng’s government’s incompetence has killed one person in floods last year, 21 people in a landslide this year, and eight people in the recent floods.  This is the government that the Pulau Pinang people have voted in, and the Chief Minister chosen by them.

Pakatan’s promise
Pakatan’s promise
Pakatan’s promise

119 flash floods have occured since the promises above was made.  And Lim Guan Eng’s government is not worried.  Going by the rate the floods are killing people, there won’t be that many people left to complain about the floods – problem solved.

Pantywaist

Pakatan Cry Babies
Barely a few hours after Najib Razak’s announcing of the budget for 2018, the DAP came up with the above graphic to inform the people that (as usual) Najib Razak’s budget is a copycat budget.

But is it?

It must be remembered that the budget announced by Najib Razak will be implemented nationwide whereas the “Pakatan budget” mentioned in the graphic above is a pick-and-choose budget that only one has been implemented in just one state administered by Pakatan, and not a nationwide solution.

Abolish All Tolls

The Barisan Nasional (BN) -led government announced that from 1 January 2018, tolls at four locations, actually, will be abolished.  They are the Batu Tiga toll on the Federal Highway, the Sungai Rasau toll near Klang that is also on the Federal Highway, the EDL highway toll in Johor Bahru as well as the Bukit Kayu Hitam toll in Kedah.

Pakatan Harapan proposed to abolish all toll collections.  But it has not explained how they plan to compensate in the region of billions to the toll concessionaires for all the money that they have put into the highways they operate and loss of future earnings.

Furthermore, Pakatan promised since before GE12 to abolish toll collection at the Sungai Nyior toll plaza in Pulau Pinang but has not done so to-date.

Pakatan’s de facto a third of a leader, Anwar Ibrahim, had in fact made a promise not too long ago to not allow toll charges to be increased on highways they have shares in, namely, the LDP, KESAS and SPRINT.  So far they have done nothing. If they cannot even control the highways that they have substantial shares in how can we hope for them to abolish all tolls?

Anwar’s broken promise
Pakatan’s alternative budget is also unreliable when it comes to the abolishment of toll on highways.  Azmin Ali as the Menteri Besar of Selangor admitted that it was not going to be easy for them to reduce tolls let alone abolish them on highways where the state government has shares in.

Azmin Ali’s admission that it is difficult to reduce toll rates on highways Selangor has shares in
But instead of reducing or abolishing tolls, Azmin Ali introduced three new tolled highways namely the Sungai Besi-Ulu Klang Elevated Expressway (SUKE), the East Klang Valley Expressway (EKVE), and the Damansara-Shah Alam Elevated Expressway (DASH).  This is a total of 89 kilometres of new tolled highways offered by the Pakatan government versus the 2,083 kilometres  toll-free Pan Borneo Highway offered by the Barisan Nasional government.

Instead of reducing or scrapping tolls, Azmin introduced three more tolled highways in Selangor
So, who is Pakatan trying to kid when it says it wants to abolish tolls on highways?  What funds do they plan to use to acquire the concessions from concessionaires?  The government is able to abolish tolls at four locations because three of them are under PLUS which is 100 percent government-owned through UEM and EPF, and one under MRCB which has Bank Rakyat and Tabung Haji, both are government entities, as shareholders.

Another puzzling behaviour of the Pakatan is that while it claims that it will abolish tolls in total, or in Selangor or Sungai Nyior only, or just reduce the rates, it has been proven that they are just a bag filled with hot air. It has been almost a decade since their coming into power in Pulau Pinang and Selangor yet they have nothing to show. So when the BN government abolishes tolls at four locations, the reaction from them should be one of sheer happiness. Yet they seem to be otherwise. Why?

One example is Azmin’s communications director Yin Shao Loong who is unaware that the concession period for the Batu Tiga toll was extended to 2038 and not 2018.

Had the Batu Tiga toll concession period been extended, the rate users would be paying according to the original agreement signed during Mahathir’s period is RM2.40 instead of the RM1.10 users are enjoying now.

In a way, the recent offer by Maju Holdings Sdn Bhd to buy the PLUS Expressway from UEM and EPF and not increase toll rates on the highway for 20 years may have triggered the government’s decision to abolish toll collection at those four highways.  I still hope that the PM could bring all the relevant parties together to discuss the proposal as it surely benefits the rakyat if feasible.

Abolishing the GST

Prior to the introduction of the 6-percent Goods & Services Tax (GST), business owners were charged the 16-percent Sales & Services Tax (SST).  The Sales Tax was a federal consumption tax imposed on a wide variety of goods, and governed by the Sales Tax Act 1972. The Service Tax, also a federal consumption tax, was levied on customers who consumed certain taxable services, and was governed by the Service Tax Act 1975.

GST versus SST (courtesy of Bloomberg BNA)
The SST was a single stage of consumption tax where businesses cannot recover the tax paid on their purchases. This tax will be treated as a cost to business.  However, it was not a transparent form of taxation as many business owners fail to declare their taxes through transfer pricing.  The GST introduces transparency, curbs the inefficiencies, tax-payment and misappropriation issues  of the SST.

This incurred the wrath of big business owners as they can no longer hide actual sales figures to avoid being taxed.

As opposed to the SST where every single item is taxed 16 percent, household items such as but not limited to sugar, flour, cooking oil, vegetables, fish, meat, poultry and services such as healthcare, education, public transport, housing and agriculture land are exempted from the GST.  If there is a spike in the prices of these items, it is the business owners that are to be blamed for marking up prices, and consumers can report them to the KPDNKK.

It is the efficient way to collect tax from businesses that has helped the government to find an alternative form of income when price of oil have gone down tremendously.

Pakatan wants to either revert back to the SST system but has not mentioned how it plans to make up for the loss of income since oil prices cannot be depended upon, or zero-rate everything as per its alternative budget if it decides to keep the GST system, with the option to increase the rates later.

Again, Pakatan is not being transparent to the masses.

120-Day Maternity Leave versus 90-Day Maternity Leave

There are two aspects to look at when talking about maternity leaves.  First, on the employers’ side – a worker that is unable to perform her duty taxes the company as she receives full pay during her absence, and other workers have to double up to do her work.  Second, going by the concept of ‘iddah of a divorced woman – the waiting period is three menstrual cycles or three months.  I did not use the example of a widow’s waiting period because that includes a period to sufficiently overcome a huge part of grief.

Let us compare with other Muslims countries:

Bangladesh – 112 days: 8 weeks (56 days) before delivery and 8 weeks (56 days) after delivery.

Indonesia – 3 months (90 days)

Pakistan – 90 days (45 before delivery and 45 after)

Oman – 100 days (50 days before and 50 days after)

Qatar – 50 days

Saudi Arabia – 70 days

Syria – 50 days

UAE – 45 days

Yemen – 60 days

Pakatan wants to implement 120 days maternity leave, but evidence shows that after introducing a 90-day maternity leave for Selangor’s civil servants, only 30 employees have actually utilised the 90-day leave in full.

Not many took up the 90-day maternity leave provided by the Selangor state government

I guess 90 days about stretches the limit, especially for employers providing 100 percent pay during maternity leave.

TAWAS versus ADAM50

Tabung Warisan Selangor (TAWAS) is a RM100 one-off gift for every child born in Selangor with the hope of accumulating RM1,500 when they are eligible to withdraw the money when they turn 18.  Amanah Dana Anak Malaysia 2050 (ADAM50) is a 200-unit gift in the form of a trust fund for 2.8 million Malaysian babies born from 1 January 2018 to 31 December 2022. The 200 units will be credited automatically in the unit trust funds managed by Amanah Saham Nasional Bhd after the registration process is completed by their parents or guardian.

TAWAS was launched in 2008 as part of fulfilling Pakatan Rakyat Selangor’s manifesto promise. Between 2008 and 2011, RM588,391 was spent on advertising and promotion for TAWAS but less than 20 percent of newborns (60,972 out of 313,706) in Selangor were registered by the end of 2011.

The Selangor state government had no choice but to extend the registration deadline to allow for more participants but as at 22 July 2014, only 159,953 registration was collected.  The total number of live childbirths in Selangor was 421,652 by the end of 2012. By end of August 2017, TAWAS only managed to get 280,568 registrations.

TAWAS started off with funds amounting to RM13.5 million but the state government has had to spend RM22.87 million annually on TAWAS despite getting only 19.4 percent registration.  Why is there a need to spend so much on so few participants?

The Auditor-General reported that TAWAS, which was formed under the Menteri Besar Selangor (Pemerbadanan) through Yayasan Warisan Anak Selangor (YAWAS) failed to submit documents of issuance of Fixed Deposit Certificates (SST) between YAWAS and AmBank to the auditors.

There is no standard operating procedures (SOP) to fix a deadline for the issuance of SST to the participants from the date the registration was made or was approved. Audit checks found that there is no record of actual of issuance and receipt of actual SST to and from participants.

The TAWAS system only provides information on SST that had been prepared by AmBank, furthermore even YAWAS does not have detailed records on the interests received for each of the SST issued,” the report added.

ADAM50 is managed by Perbadanan Nasional Berhad (PNB) which has been managing funds such as Amanah Saham Nasional, Amanah Saham Bumiputra and Amanah Saham Malaysia.  The 200 incentive units and all dividends received on this initial amount of ADAM50 can only be redeemed when the child reaches 18 years of age.

Pakatan cannot even handle a far smaller fund efficiently and it wants to compare itself to a single corporation that handles funds in excess of RM265 billion.  Where has all the millions of Ringgits pumped into TAWAS gone to despite not getting the number of participants it had envisaged in 2008?

The Return of Petrol Subsidies

I won’t even go there. Everyone knows the removal of subsidies is so that it could be chanelled to the target groups instead of providing everyone, even foreigners, with subsidised petrol.

The Pakatan budget plans to subsidise only cars and motorcycles below 1,000cc. Only the Perodua Kancil and Perodua Viva would fit into the given category. How would the petrol pump know what cars are below 1,000cc and which ones are 1,000cc and above?

Other Pakatan Budget Jokes

While the BN government strives to lower taxes Pakatan’s alternative budget plans to introduce, on top of the 16 percent SST, an Inheritance Tax, Capital Gains Tax and increase Personal Income Tax to make up for the loss of income through the abolishment of the GST. Yet the pantywaist Pakatan have the cheek to cry foul and claim that the BN’s budget is oppressive.

So I will leave it up to you to decide whom to choose come GE14.