Sebentar tadi saya terbaca sebuah mesej dalam group WhatsApp yang dikirimkan oleh seorang bekas pegawai kerajaan. Katanya, hancurlah Barisan Nasional di Pasir Gudang kerana program Khaled Nordin tidak mendapat sambutan.
Beliau sertakan gambar berikut:
Kalau tengok, memang malang nasib Khaled. Kalau saya seorang zombie Pakatan yang tiada berotak (lazimnya memang begitu), saya akan kongsikan mesej tersebut dengan semua kenalan saya yang tersenarai dalam telefon.
Malang bagi mereka dan tidak seperti mereka, saya dilahirkan normal dan cukup sifat. Lantas saya dapatkan kepastian daripada mereka di pejabat Khaled. Dan berikut adalah gambar-gambar yang diambil di program tersebut beberapa minit kemudian:
Gambaran yang diberikan oleh bekas pegawai kerajaan yang menyokong Pakatan itu hanyalah 10 peratus daripada keadaan sebenar. Pakatan suka menjaja cerita dongeng. Mereka yang tidak berakal sahaja yang akan terima bulat-bulat pembohongan mereka ini.
Program ini dijalankan pada hari Selasa malam Rabu. Esoknya hari kerja, dan hari anak-anak bersekolah. Sudah tentu jumlah kehadiran tidak seramai pada malam-malam hujung minggu.
Pun begitu, hampir kesemua tempat duduk telah dipenuhkan.
Para pengundi di Pasir Gudang adalah dari kalangan mereka yang kuat bekerja, tidak seperti para penyokong Pakatan yang hanya menunggu duit BR1M daripada Najib Razak untuk hidup.
Pada mulanya saya ingat saya hendak menulis mengenai Manifesto Barisan Nasional yang diumumkan oleh Perdana Menteri siang tadi. Namun, saya terbaca sesuatu yang lebih menarik – nukilan mengenai Mahathir Mohamad oleh DYAM Tengku Mahkota Johor dalam laman Facebook Johor Southern Tigers.
PANDANGAN IKHLAS SAYA UNTUK RAKYAT JOHOR YANG SAYA SAYANGI
Hanya pandangan peribadi saya untuk rakyat Johor.
Assalamualaikum W.B.T. Saya ingin mengambil kesempatan ini untuk berkongsi pandangan dan pesanan saya kepada rakyat Johor yang saya kasihi sekalian. Saya memberi nasihat dan berkongsi pendapat saya bukan sebagai ahli politik yang perlukan undian, tetapi ia datang dari hati saya sebagai seorang anak Raja yang berkhidmat kepada rakyatnya. Taat setia saya adalah kepada Sultan saya, negeri Johor dan rakyat saya. DYMM Sultan Johor dan saya saling berkongsi pandangan dan inisiatif apa yang terbaik buat masa hadapan negeri Johor. Bukan sahaja dalam segi pentadbiran kerajaan tetapi untuk memperbaikinya dan menjadi kuasa ekonomi dalam negara, menangani mentaliti ektrimis, menaiktaraf sistem pendidikan dan sistem kesihatan.
Dengan senario politik yang berlaku sekarang dalam negara, tidak kiralah parti yang memerintah atau parti pembangkang, rakyat perlu pandai menilai apa yang terbaik untuk negeri kita dan negara. Dalam situasi politik, rakyat hanya dengar apa yang disampaikan oleh ahli politik di dalam ucapan mereka atau di media sosial. Tetapi yang tahu situasi sebenar adalah DYMM Sultan Johor dan saya sendiri. Apa sahaja rahsia sulit dan agenda mereka kami tahu. Semua maklum bahawa ahli politik ini apabila inginkan sesuatu, mereka akan menabur janji-janji manis. Saya bukan ahli politik tetapi saya juga ada agenda saya sendiri dan agenda saya adalah untuk kedaulatan negeri Johor dan kesejahteraan rakyat Johor.
Semua maklum bahawa UMNO dilahirkan di negeri Johor, di dalam istana negeri Johor. Saya tahu buat masa ini rakyat semua berkecil hati terhadap kepimpinan negara dan saya faham. Bagi pandangan saya, UMNO perlu lebih aset daripada liabiliti. Ia bermakna UMNO perlu bertukar cara pentadbiran dan pemikiran serta polisi terutama sekali sistem hirarki. Kita perlu lebih aset iaitu orang-orang muda yang ingin berkhidmat kepada negara dan berkongsi pengetahuan mereka yang berpotensi.
Saya juga tidak akan lupa siapa yang merosakkan UMNO, yang menjadi peneraju dan melahirkan kroni-kroni, melahirkan korupsi, melahirkan proksi dan juga siapa yang cuba menarik kuasa-kuasa Diraja termasuklah cuba untuk membubarkan Askar Timbalan Setia Negeri Johor (JMF) yang kami semua sayangi. Kedaulatan negeri Johor jangan dipersoalkan. Kami telah wujud dari tahun 1885 sehingga kerajaan persekutuan juga belajar protokol, pentadbiran dan perlembagaan daripada kami. Kami adalah negeri pertama yang mempunyai perlembagaan sendiri dan ia menjadi contoh kepada negara. Kadangkala kita tidak boleh menyalahkan sesebuah organisasi atau parti oleh kerana hanya seorang yang bermasalah.
Saya tidak lupa pada tahun 1992 ketika saya kecil dahulu dan nakal di sekolah, cikgu akan bercakap kepada saya, “Awak jangan main-main, awak tu kerabat diraja. Jika saya mengadu kepada Mahathir, habis awak.” Begitu juga dengan kisah Prebet Adam dimana Almarhum Sultan Iskandar iaitu datuk saya yang tidak ada peluang untuk mempertegakkan diri kerana ketika zaman itu tiada kemudahan internet, semua media dikawal oleh kerajaan.
Media mengeluarkan kenyataan kononnya prebet Adam mengamuk apabila mendapat tahu adik beliau dibunuh oleh Sultan Johor ketika itu. Sedangkan Prebet Adam tiada adik lelaki dan hanya ada adik perempuan yang meninggal dunia ketika berumur 2 tahun dalam tragedi rumah terbakar. Saya juga ada berjumpa dengan seorang individu berasal dari Kedah pada tahun lepas. Beliau yang bercerita kepada saya yang beliau berjumpa dengan Prebet Adam dan Prebet Adam menceritakan bagaimana dia dipaksa sepanjang 10 hari di dalam bilik sel yang gelap oleh anggota polis untuk mengaku yang Sultan Johor membunuh adiknya. Inilah yang sanggup dilakukan oleh kepimpinan tertinggi kerajaan ketika itu demi mendapatkan kuasa sepenuhya di dalam negara.
Rakyat jangan mudah tertipu dengan individu lidah bercabang dua seperti ular. Buat masa ini individu tersebut bukan ingin selamatkan negara tetapi apa yang dia sedang lakukan sekarang adalah kerana takut apa akan terjadi kepada anak-anaknya pada masa akan datang. Sedangkan orang yang paling kaya di dalam dunia pun belum pasti mampu untuk melahirkan tiga orang anak yang ‘billionaire’. Nasihat saya kepada rakyat Johor, jikalau kita tidak suka sesuatu dengan kerajaan, laungkan suara kita untuk pastikan mereka tahu apa yang kita inginkan. Anda semua mempunyai DYMM Sultan Johor dan saya di mana kami boleh sampaikan suara rakyat kepada kerajaan yang memerintah dan kepimpinan tertinggi dalam negara. Jangan sesekali anda sangka yang kami tiada inisiatif untuk memperbaiki sistem yang berada didalam kerajaan.
Tuan-tuan dan puan-puan yang saya hormati. Jikalau anda mahu berperang atau mahukan pertembungan antara kerajaan negeri Johor dan kerajaan persekutuan ia tidak akan mendatangkan apa-apa faedah. Jikalau kami mampu melahirkan ramai lagi anak muda yang ada potensi, sanggup berkhidmat kepada negara dan kami boleh pastikan yang dia mampu mewakili kerajaan, kita boleh mengubah segala-galanya daripada dalam.
DYMM Sultan Johor dan saya mempunyai agenda dan perancangan tersendiri. Agenda utama kami adalah untuk negeri Johor tetapi apa cara untuk kami sampai ke Putrajaya, kami tidak boleh kongsikan kepada anda semua. Ia adalah sulit dan rahsia. Saya bukan ingin menyokong mana-mana parti politik tetapi untuk mengubah nasib negara dan memperbaiki sistem, bukan untuk menjatuhkan kerajaan. Kita perlu mengubahnya daripada dalam.
Jadi, saya dan negara-negara jiran kami berpandangan, jika kapal ini telah berjalan dengan baik selama berpuluh tahun dan mempunyai masalah oleh kerana nakhodanya yang bermasalah, tidak perlu tukar kepada enjin yang baharu. Duduk di dalam kapal yang sama, dan membimbing nakhoda tersebut dan beritahu ke mana kita mahu pergi. Cukup ini sahajalah yang dapat saya kongsikan bersama rakyat. Tetapi rakyat Johor perlu percaya kepada visi DYMM Sultan Johor dan saya sendiri. Tidak perlu banyak perkara untuk dijadikan contoh. Cukup satu perkara kecil sahaja yang boleh saya beritahu anda semua untuk dijadikan sebagai contoh.
Apa yang anda lihat dengan apa yang saya lakukan dalam pentadbiran Persatuan Bolasepak Malaysia (FAM) adalah sama apa yang kami akan lakukan di pentadbiran peringkat tertinggi. Bola sepak hanyalah minat saya. Pada 30hb Jun 2016, saya ada mengeluarkan satu kenyataan dalam laman rasmi JOHOR Southern Tigers yang mengatakan kami akan memusnahkan apa yang anda bina dan kami akan bina yang lebih baik. Ia adalah satu pembayang apa yang ingin saya lakukan kepada sistem pentadbiran FAM ketika itu. Saya tidak kongsikan perkara ini kepada ramai pihak tetapi hari ini saya akan kongsikan kepada semua. Misi saya ketika menyertai FAM adalah untuk memperbaiki dan mempertingkatkan struktur sedia ada. Ia juga untuk menukar struktur perlembagaan dalam FAM bagi memastikan kuasa Presiden FAM dan Persatuan Bolasepak adalah terhad. Mereka hanya menjaga Jawatankuasa Tatatertib, pengadil dan pasukan kebangsaan. FAM juga tidak lagi memberi arahan dan terlibat dengan apa yang berlaku kepada pasukan, kelab, kewangan dan pentadbiran liga. Apa yang saya lakukan adalah saya mengubah perlembagaan di mana kami melabur kepada FAM, melabur kepada semua pasukan dan kami menjaga kepentingan Malaysian Football League (MFL). Ini adalah sebab mengapa saya keluar daripada FAM kerana kuasa tiada kepada Persatuan Bolasepak sama seperti di negara-negara luar. Kuasa berada pada badan berkecuali yang menguruskan liga seperti LaLiga (Sepanyol), Seria A (Itali), English Premier League (England), Bundesliga (Jerman) dan sekarang di Malaysia adalah MFL. Tetapi jangan salah tafsir dengan menganggap Presiden FAM sebagai proksi. Beliau bukan proksi tetapi adalah individu yang layak dan boleh bekerjasama dengan MFL. Ini diibaratkan seperti latihan saya sebelum agenda saya yang lebih besar di peringkat tertinggi melibatkan pentadbiran sistem negeri dan kerajaan.
Tuan-tuan dan puan-puan, saya datang dari keluarga dan hidup di dunia yang anda tidak boleh lihat dan dunia itu dikawal rapi. Anda lihat bagaimana pergerakan sesuatu rejim dan organisasi sulit mengawal dunia. Kami juga mempunyai sistem yang sama tetapi kami organisasi yang berbeza. Jika anda lihat bagaimana organisasi sulit mengawal negara-negara besar daripada sebuah tanah kecil di Timur Tengah dan inilah yang kami lakukan disini untuk mengawal takdir sesebuah negara. Ia telah dilakukan sejak zaman nenek moyang saya dan kami akan meneruskannya untuk rakyat bagi ‘restore the order’ apabila ia terkeluar daripada ‘order’ tersebut. Itulah tanggungjawab kami dan ia akan sentiasa menjadi tugas kami.
Sekarang ini, di dalam negara situasi politik agak berkucar kacir. Tetapi ia tidak semestinya adalah pengakhiran dunia (kiamat). Inilah masanya untuk ‘restore the order’ dan melaksanakannya kepada sistem yang telah dirosakkan oleh individu yang berumur 93 tahun ingin menjadi Perdana Menteri sekarang ini. Jangan tertipu, buka mata anda, gunakan akal fikiran dan ikut bayangan yang akan saya berikan kerana saya tahu apa yang anda tidak tahu. Anda perlu percaya kepada saya kerana saya tahu apa yang ingin saya lakukan. Inilah masanya untuk bumi selatan mengawal sesetengah situasi dan memulihkan semula ‘order’ yang telah dirosakkan oleh individu yang tamakkan kuasa dan duit. Jangan mudah terpengaruh dan percaya dengan apa yang anda dengar semalam di Pasir Gudang. Negeri Johor tidak akan pernah lupa kepada individu yang ingin membubarkan Angkatan Setia Negeri Johor (JMF) yang telah wujud sejak 1886 dan berangan mahu menarik kuasa Sultan Johor yang memerintah serta memperkecilkan perlembagaan negeri Johor yang telah wujud sebelum adanya negara bernama Malaysia.
Ingatlah wahai rakyat Johor yang saya kasihi sekalian. Bersatu kita teguh bercerai kita roboh. Selagi rakyat Johor bersatu bersama-sama dengan kepimpinan DYMM Sultan Johor termasuk saya, pelbagai perkara yang kita mahukan boleh dicapai untuk masa hadapan anak cucu cicit kita. Jangan kita berpecah belah dan mudah dipermainkan dengan anasir-anasir luar yang mahu menghancurkan kedaulatan negeri ini. Lihatlah apa yang telah saya lakukan terhadap bola sepak. Bola sepak ini hanyalah latihan. Ia ibarat saya ke ‘driving range’ sebelum pertandingan golf sebenar.
Jangan tukar kapal jika enjin masih berfungsi dengan baik. Jangan menukar nakhoda kapal tetapi benarkan sultan saya dan saya membimbing nakhoda tersebut demi anda.
Ubah dan pertingkatkan apa yang perlu diubah dan apa yang perlu dipertingkatkan untuk negeri dan negara yang tercinta.
DYAM Mejar Jeneral Tunku Ismail Ibni Sultan Ibrahim, Tunku Mahkota Johor
I see several Sarawak-related pages claiming that no one, including the mainstream media, cares or has given coverage to the flood situation in Sarawak.
Comparing the response both the government and non-governmental organisations gave to the floods on Kelantan and Pahang to the ones now in Sarawak, the Sarawak-related pages say that there is very little that is being done by the Federal Government.
All Federal Government agencies in Sarawak have been put on flood watch standby as early as December 2017. This includes, but not limited to, the Army 1st Division, the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM), and the Fire and Rescue Services Department (FRSD).
The FRSD has been evacuating people from flooded areas, and in one particular instance, evacuated Suriah Bakar, 35, of Kampung Parong, Kota Marudu, who was in labour.
Prime Minister Najib Razak himself is constantly monitoring the flood situation in Sarawak and has promised to ensure that relief reaches all flood victims.
As at noon today (Thursday 8 Feb 2018), only five areas in three divisions in Sarawak have recorded water level above the Alert level. They are in the Miri, Bintulu and Kapit districts.
Only the Bintulu-Belaga road in Bintulu, and Long Jegan and Long Panai in Miri have water levels that are above the Danger level, while Ng Merurung in Kapit and Kuala Binyo in Bintulu have water levels that are above the Alert level.
The areas that are affected by the floods are Samarahan. Sarikei, Sibu, Serian, Bintulu, Mukah and Limbang.
While the Borneo Post has been actively updating the flood situations in Sarawak, Sarawakians complain that the Peninsular-based media, especially the electronic media, have not been giving ample coverage.
This is absolutely not true. Just yesterday I pointed to a Sarawakian friend URLs of mainstream media reports on the flood situations there, including the ones by NST, Berita Harian and Utusan Malaysia.
BERNAMA and RTM have been airing the plight of Sarawak flood victims. Even the station most hated by the Opposition, TV3, has been consistently reporting on the flood situations in Sarawak, covering flood relief centers as well as the latest evacuation operation this morning by the Civil Defence Force (APM) involving a woman in labour at Klinik Entabai, in Julau, Sarikei.
Social Media and Floods Fever
As far as social media is concerned, there is very little that the ordinary Semenanjung folks can do. While we can start collection centers here, sending stuff over there would not be economical at all.
Whilst there have been many flooding in the Peninsular, I made myself available for three – the Johor floods of 2006-2007, the Pahang floods of 2013, and the Kelantan floods of 2014. Those were the flood disasters that Peninsular people got together and helped government agencies to provide assistance to flood victims.
In Johor, I provided assistance between Parit Botak and Rengit. In Pahang, I assisted Her Highness the Tengku Puan Pahang in the Kuantan and Pekan areas. In Kelantan, my former classmates and I brought supplies from Putrajaya to the hospitals in Gua Musang, Kuala Krai and Jeli.
In Johor back in 2006-2007, two waves of floods hit the state. In the first wave, 90,000 people were evacuated. Just when they thought it was safe to return home, a second wave struck and caused 109,831 people to evacuate.
In 2013 Pahang, 40,819 people were evacuated.
In 2014 Kelantan, more than 170,000 had to be evacuated. The scale of destruction that I saw with my own eyes in Gua Musang, Manek Urai and Kuala Krai was just beyond comprehension. Even Kuala Muda in the aftermath of the 2004 Tsunami did not look as bad. Yes, I was there too in 2004 with a Malaysia Airlines aircraft captain friend (he now flies for Air Asia).
I took the above photo at Kampung Bukit Tebuk near Chiku while on the way from Kuala Krai to Gua Musang on 31 December 2014 because I saw this man at the Manek Urai relief center queuing for food for his family earlier in the morning. At this point he had walked 14 kilometres to get home.
Pulau Pinang in November 2017 saw 71,294 people evacuated. This was when Lim Guan Eng was seen crying for help…literally.
In comparison, the total number of evacuees in Sarawak as of last night was 4,859 people. It is a number that is still very manageable by the state government and its NGOs.
I have not seen any NGO in Sarawak running a donation campaign to collect cash and kind for flood victims there. If there is such a fund I am sure people in Malaya (a term fondly used by Sarawakians for Peninsular people which isn’t a nice term) would be glad to chip in. After all, I have relatives in Samarahan, Kuching, Miri, and friends working on the Pan Borneo Highway project that are affected by the floods.
Nor do I see throngs of 4X4 vehicles (which happens to be in abundance in Sarawak) carrying relief items to affected areas like it was done in the Peninsular.
How can anyone start anything if the Sarawakians themselves don’t do anything for fellow Sarawakians? I promise not to ask how many Sarawakians actually donated to flood victims and relief missions in Kelantan, Pulau Pinang, Johor and Pahang. To where should we Malayans send our donations to?
So, the feverish pace you saw in the Peninsular was because of the magnitude of the floods and the destruction they caused. The absence of any social media hype by socmed practitioners in Sarawak on the flood situation says all that.
I am not saying that the flood situation in Sarawak is not bad. Any flood is bad. But it doesn’t do justice when people sit and complain about it on social media expecting to be spoon fed. Just start something instead of whining. There are many here on this side of the South China Sea who would want to help.
When the development of Forest City commenced, it came under fire by many including the surrounding communities. This is because of the concerns regarding the impact to the environment as well as the negative publicities fed on how livelihoods would be affected. But my recent article has put that to rest.
Despite having only 245 registered fishermen in a community of 11,000 Country Garden Pacificview (CGPV) finds it of utmost importance that the fishermen would be able to continue conducting sustainable fishing in the waters off Forest City and its surroundings.
Kelab Alami, an NGO concerned with environment conservation, was born out of these concerns in 2008. CGPV works hand-in-hand with Kelab Alami by funding its awareness and research activities.
For 2018, Kelab Alami have lined up a series of activities including the spreading of wider awareness pupils in Sekolah Kebangsaan Tanjung Kupang and Sekolah Kebangsaan Tanjung Adang, both in Gelang Patah.
Kelab Alami founder Shalan Jum’at, 30, said plans for 2018 also include mussel farming, habitat documentation and monitoring of various marine species found in the surrounding area of Kampung Pendas and the other nearby villages.
“With development such as Forest City, which is near to Kg Pendas, it is a boom in eco-tourism. The project have presented challenges as well as the potential of the natural wonders in the sea and rivers that lie just at our doorstep,” said Shalan Jum’at.
“Development has changed the face of Tanjung Kupang for the better and spurred the birth of Kelab Alami, which provided opportunities for the local fishermen to diversify their skills as well as given the children a chance to become citizen researchers as well as act as eco-tour guides to tourists and visitors to the villages here,” he said.
Muhamad Sofi Juhari, 19, who joined the club when it was first set up, said he would have been a youth without any goal in life if not for the club.
“I currently work at a motorcycle repair workshop, which is managed by Anak Alami Enterprise. Shalan showed me the ropes in acquiring entrepreneurial skills. Business is good at the motorcycle repair shop with about 300 customers a day,” Muhamad Sofi said.
“Kelab Alami not only helps me to gain self-confidence and knowledge about the natural wonders of the surrounding environment, I also get to hone my entrepreneurial skills and am able to earn an income that I can contribute to my family,” he added.
Another club member, Mohammad Irfan Yazid, 19, who joined Kelab Alami when he was 7 years old, has a different passion. He operates a ikan bakar (grilled fish) and burger food stalls near Muhamad Sofi’s workshop.
“I can sell about 100 burgers and about 10 grilled fishes per day. With more people coming to work in Forest City, my food business is also improving by the day,” said Mohammad Irfan.
“Forest City has also funded Kelab Alami which has organised activities such as youth ranger training and entrepreneurship seed funding as well as fishermen’s seed funding, among others,” he added.
Another member Muhd Arif Aiman Fazail, 17, who joined Kelab Alami at age 11, said he has forged friendship with the other neighbourhood children through club activities.
“I have learnt to appreciate the different species of snakes, lobsters and other creatures of the sea since becoming a club member. Former club members who have left the village in pursuit of higher education come back to see us whenever they can to share their experiences and knowledge with us,” Muhd Arif said.
Meanwhile, Datuk Md Othman Yusof, executive director of CGPV, who visited Kelab Alami in Kampung Pendas Laut recently, applauded the efforts and achievements of Kelab Alami.
“Kelab Alami can also organise community workshops which offer skills to make handicrafts or build items such as wooden chairs and tables. We can emulate Thailand by manufacturing souvenirs in a local cottage industry to present as gifts to visitors. This would generate income for the village where the profit can be enjoyed by the local community,” Md Othman said.
Md Othman, who was at the clubhouse to hand over a cheque of RM194,450 to the non- governmental organisation, also spent some time to chat with the kids of Kelab Alami.
Md Othman, impressed by the knowledge of these youths and confidence exuded by them, was encouraging them to keep up their good work and continue to strive for a brighter future.
Meanwhile, 90 students of Sekolah Kebangsaan Kampung Simpang Arang who come from low-income families, were treated to to a ‘Back to School’ shopping spree at Giant Hypermarket in Tampoi, courtesy of CGPV.
CGPV corporate communications director Aeron Munajat said the Back to School programme is intended to alleviate their families’ financial burden as they prepare for the new school term.
“We do not want the local folk to feel left out due to the development around their village,” she said.
Aeron added that it was an eye-opening experience for some volunteers who were employees from China.
The programme also allows volunteers to interact with the local community, giving them exposure to the lives of the indigenous people.
Chen Hao, 27, who is an assistant legal advisor at Country Garden Pacificview’s legal department, was among the volunteers who overcame the language barrier to communicate with the Orang Asli children.
“We did not speak the same language, but the children and I found ways to communicate through body or sign language. The children would point at something they wanted to buy for school, (for instance). It is my first time meeting Orang Asli children, and I find that they are as bright and bubbly as any other child I know,” said Chen, who has been working at Forest City in Johor for the past two years.
The treats were not limited to Giant Hypermarket, as the Orang Asli children were also treated to lunch after their shopping excursion.
Country Garden Pacificview plans to adopt SK Kampung Simpang Arang next year, making it an addition to the five primary schools it has adopted since 2015.
The five primary schools are SK Morni Pok, SK Tanjung Adang, SK Tiram Duku, SK Tanjung Kupang and SK Pendas Laut.
Besides youth development and education, Forest City focuses on two other pillars, namely societal development and environmental awareness.
His Royal Highness Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah Alhaj, the Sultan of Selangor from my observation is a calm and very private person. He rarely makes any statement or gives interviews to the media except during his birthday celebration. Only once in a blue moon would Sultan Sharafuddin voice out his concern, especially during the Kajang Move, because it was affecting the efficiency of His Royal Highness’s state government. The Sultan had also expressed his concern over the rudeness of the Opposition and its supporters towards the late Sultan Azlan Shah of Perak during the Perak constitutional crisis of 2009.
The latest episode involves the adverse reaction by DAP’s Zaid Ibrahim to the Sultan’s statement on Mahathir’s remark on the Bugis people. The statement was made as part of an interview with The Star for this year’s celebration of the Sultan’s birthday. In his Twitter postings, Zaid said that when some Rulers play politics, they must know the consequences. Do not think there is no price for partisanship.
What earned Zaid the wrath of many was when he also Tweeted a warning to Sultan Sharafuddin saying the Sultan should be careful with his words (as) no one is immune when (the) country burns.
That is typical of Zaid, when he displays the usual non compos mentis character. Often displaying his republican attitude, Zaid suits well in the DAP – a party known historically for its rash behaviour when it comes to respecting the Rulers Institution. It is also well that he is a Malay, from Kelantan, as it would appeal to the fence-sitting Malays in Kelantan who are politically torn after the departure of PAS from Pakatan Rakyat effectively ending the coalition.
The late Karpal Singh once petitioned to sue Sultan Sharafuddin’s late father, Almarhum Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Alhaj, in 1987 over a speech by Sultan Salahuddin to the Selangor branch of the Ex-Servicemen’s Association saying that he would not pardon drug traffickers in Selangor. The petition was rejected on the grounds that there was no lis. In 2009, Karpal Singh had intended to sue Sultan Azlan Shah of Perak for appointing Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir as the new Menteri Besar, replacing DAP’s choice Nizar Jamaluddin. Karpal was found guilty of sedition in 2014.
Since gaining some grounds after the 2008 general elections, the DAP has time and again displayed its disrespect to the Rulers Institution by not abiding by the dress code at state assembly openings. One good example is of DAP’s Gwee Tong Hiang who was the Johor state assemblyman for Bentayan who did not wear a songkok at the state assembly opening. The late Sultan of Johor, Almarhum Sultan Iskandar Ismail was not amused.
“Two days ago someone here tried to be a hero by refusing to dress accordingly. If he wants (to differ), then get out of here now!” the late Sultan chastised. Tong Hiang, unfortunately, was not present then.
The DAP had wised up since then. Seen as a Chinese chauvinist party, such rude behaviour turned them into punching bags of the Malays, especially those from UMNO who had a feast turning the DAP into cheap meals. The DAP quickly recruited liberal Malays into its fold, including Zaid, to do their dirty jobs for them. This keeps the heat off the Chinese in DAP, but pit Malays against Malays.
What the authorities should realise is that such behaviour displayed most recently by Zaid Ibrahim sends the wrong signal that it is alright to reject Malay traditions including respect for the elders and the Rulers to the younger Malaysian who, at their age, would be mostly anti-establishment by nature. If this goes unchecked, it would certainly give birth to more Zaid Ibrahims.
The authorities should take cue from Sultan Sharafuddin.
“I am aware that Zaid had long been making false and incorrect accusations against me. He is a politician and a former minister whom I understand is against the royal institution. My advice to Zaid is simple, do not forget where you come from,” the Sultan said.
Forest City was under a considerable amount of pressure when it first started due to the knee-jerk reactions of some environmentalists and half-baked as well as over-ripe politicians seeking quick publicity to remain relevant. While the environmental concerns have been addressed and continues to be addressed as the project progresses, it is notable that the political concerns seem to originate only from the Malay politicians. It seems that the Chinese politicians realise the potential this development brings.
In the meantime, Forest City continues to develop and progress, in very notable ways.
A UN Global Model
On the 31st October 2017, Forest City won the Global Model of Green Building Industrial Park for the second consecutive year. The award was part of the Sustainable Cities and Human Settlements Award (SCAHSA) ceremony held in New York.
The SCAHSA award established by the Global Forum on Human Settlement (GFHS), a non-profit organisation with Special Consultative Status within the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It is a trend setter for urban construction everywhere that respects sustainable development.
Forest City, China’s Wuyi County and Indonesia’s Surabaya City were among the winning entries submitted from 23 countries and regions worldwide. Forest City won the SCAHSA Global Human Settlements Award on Planning and Design at the 11th Global Forum on Human Settlements (GFHS – XI).
Forest City, by taking full advantage of its technical resources, is creating a 1.7-square-kilometer construction-focused industrial park, to promote the development of a green building industry and improve building precision and quality, said Dr. Wang Jiying, vice general manager for overseas business at Country Garden.
Forest City will include several support facilities and a powerful water transportation system, all of which are expected to be operational in 2019, with the aim of creating a truly industrialised manufacturing base for the construction industry over the next three to five years.
Creating Potential Future Workforce
A month and a half ago when I was at Forest City, I was brought to visit one of five schools adopted by Forest City where children are given free Mandarin lessons for three months. This is one of the ways by Forest City to ensure that the local community, especially those in the Tanjung Kupang area, have roles to play in the development.
The result is excellent:
The student above is from the first batch of students who started their Mandarin language course in August 2017 and has graduated. Forest City is not stopping there. Forest City’s master developer, Country Garden Pacificview Sdn Bhd (CGPV), aims to give back to the community by offering three-month basic Mandarin language courses to some 100 school children there.
CGPV plans to continue to offer the Mandarin courses in the future as part of its corporate social responsibility effort for the community here.
“The second intake will be conducted from January until March next year,” Country Garden Pacificview Sdn Bhd corporate communications head Aeron Munajat told reporters when met at SK Tanjong Adang here today where she handed over certificates to the participants.
Aeron said that apart from learning Mandarin as a third language, the three-month language course will also help the students develop self-confidence which will further enhance their competitiveness in the job market in the future.
She said the course involved students and teachers from five schools, namely SK Morni Pok, SK Tanjong Adang, SK Tiram Duku, SK Tanjung Kupang and SK Pendas Laut.
“The classes are conducted every Friday and Saturday from 10am to 12 noon, at the community centre in Kampung Pok,” she added.
Forest City Does Not Pawn Johor Land
The continued but futile attacks on Forest City by Malaysia’s Mugabe and his followers have again earned the ire of His Majesty The Sultan of Johor.
“Has Johor ever pawned its land? What is the meaning of pawning? With Forest City, the state of Johor has increased in size. It is not about seizing land to be pawned. In Johor, there are international lots and Malay reserve land. Anyone can buy at the international zone, be it the Mat Salleh from England or people from India, Japan, China. All of them can purchase it. They can buy (property), but it does not mean they purchase the land to bring it back to their respective home country,” chided the Sultan.
“In Johor, we have an international zone, which means that foreigners could buy. It has international status. In Forest City, we do not sell the land, we sell the strata (titles) and these strata (titles) are for permanent ownership in Johor,” he remarked.
The Sultan added that 40 percent of the investors in Forest City are Malaysians and that even the government has shares in the project, and that the project gave a lot of revenue for the state government, including quit rent and assessment, which the state of Johor benefits.
“How much revenue will the Johor government get? When Forest City is completed, the assessment, quit rent will go to who? Who will get the jobs? There are transportation (initiatives), businesses and job opportunities. Don’t be narrow minded about this,” said the Sultan.
The Sultan also said that the most visible benefit of the Forest City project was the boost it has given to the value of real estate in its surrounding areas, particularly in Pontian district, which is now developing at a rapid pace.
He gave an example of how in the past, the people of Pontian were only picking buah duku (lanzones), but now people in Pontian own Mercedes Benz cars.
“It means that Pontian has become a district that will see rapid development,” the Sultan stressed. “In the past, an acre (0.4 hectares) of land used to cost RM100,000, but now, it is valued up to RM3 million.”
It is no doubt that Forest City will boost the Iskandar region’s marketability. With consumer prices 100 percent higher than in Malaysia, rent prices 500 percent higher than in Malaysia, many companies in Singapore were driven to relocate to Iskandar, while Johor Bahru’s shopping malls, food outlets and amusement parks have become a favourite for Singaporeans. Bangkok’s recent wish for Malaysia to extend its High Speed Rail into Thailand will soon make the Iskandar Econmic Region attractive to the millionaires and billionaires of Indochina. And the green, affordable buildings of Forest City will definitely be a hit.
While they all win, the real winners will be the people of Johor and Malaysia.
The development of Forest City, one of Johor’s iconic development on the western half of the southern coast of the state, is proceeding well and is on time. When completed, the southern-most man-made island of the project will be just two kilometers away from Singapore’s Tuas.
A little over two years ago, the project area was under three meters deep of sea water. Now, a hotel stands completed as do a commercial block as well as an office block, with a beach fronting Tuas. Aptly named “Hotel Phoenix”, the 280-room four-star hotel has already begun to receive guests, and is now one of the favourite venues in southern Johor for international conferences and events. Even Jack Ma’s Alibaba had an event here in late September 2017.
This 20-year development is already into its second year, but has been the subject of several controversies, depending on which side of the fence you are viewing the issue from.
700,000 New Citizens
One of the issues raised by the Opposition is the prospect of 700,000 mainland Chinese obtaining Malaysian citizenship after staying at Forest City for several years. Opposition fear-mongers have been selling this idea to the worried locals who fear that their voice would be drowned by these prospective new citizens.
I threw this idea to an English friend of mine who is married to a Malay woman and have four children, to see if the fear is real.
“Bo****ks!” he exclaimed, scoffing at the idea. “I’ve been married and staying here in Malaysia for 22 years now and I still haven’t got my citizenship. If they think it’s that easy, I will gladly pay the person who could give me my Malaysian identity card.”
But will there actually be 700,000 Chinese from China residing at Forest City? Apparently not. Buyers include people from the Middle East, Thailand, India and Singapore. Forest City was already attracting these buyers even before China tightened the outflow of its currency. Buyers from China have snapped up 70 percent of the early-sale properties there before the measure by China came into effect.
“The number of withdrawals caused by the cashflow controls is about 60, compared with the 15,000-unit sales by the end of 2016, the bulk of which were sold to Chinese buyers. We have to look at the issue in perspective. If we are not confident about Forest City, we will not be investing some RM470 million to build a factory to manufacture ready-to-assemble concrete structures like staircases, beams and columns,” said Dr Yu Runze, President and Chief Strategy Officer of Country Garden Pacific View Sdn Bhd., the developer of the project.
Carving Out Malaysia’s Land To Make It China’s
As a state, Johor has jurisdiction of its land including the foreshore according to the National Land Code, 1965 and its territorial sea jutting out 3 nautical miles according to Section 3(3) of the Territorial Sea Act, 2012.
While Section 76 of the National Land Code includes a proviso that does not allow the foreshore and part of the sea bed to be disposed by the state authority for a period exceeding ninety-nine years, Forest City’s reclamation starts beyond the low-water mark of ordinary spring tides. Unlike the reclamations off Pulau Pinang, a bridge connects the man-made island to the mainland rendering it possible for the Johor state government to allow the developer to obtain a freehold status for the reclaimed portion, anything within the three-nautical mile limit.
Therefore, no part of the mainland was ever carved to become part of Forest City, nor was there a major displacement of people to make way for the apartment buildings and hotels of the development. A freehold land does not mean that it belongs to another country. As mentioned, anything that is within 3 nautical miles including the seabed comes under the state authority while from that point up until 12 nautical miles comes under the Federal authority. The state has the power to acquire the land under the Land Acquisition Act, 1960. hence the sovereignty of the nation is not compromised in any manner.
Forest City Is A China Project And Employs Only Chinese Citizens
The project is being developed by Country Garden Pacific View Sdn Bhd (CGPV), a Johor-China joint-venture company where the China partner has 60 percent equity in the JV, while the Malaysian partners hold 40.
CGPV executive director Datuk Md Othman Yusof said that as at end of September 2017, 859 out of 1397, or 61.4 percent of its workers are Malaysians. This includes the staff at the CGPV Industrial Building System plant in Tanjung Kupang.
Datuk Othman said that it was a decree by His Majesty the Sultan of Johor himself that there should be at least 70 percent staff that are Malaysians. “After only two years we already have 61.4 percent,” he added. “The only difficult part is getting Malaysians who could work as well under intense pressure on the construction side. Many joined but left as they could not match the discipline of the Chinese workers.”
Dr Yu added that of its RM4.7 billion (S$1.5 billion) capital expenditure (capex) spent between early 2015 and December 2016, about RM2 billion, or 42.55 per cent, was spent on the services provided by local consultancy firms and construction materials.
“Cement, sand and other materials were bought locally. We did not import them from China. We also use consultancies such as law firms, planners and architects, to name some. So, it is untrue to say that Forest City has not benefited Malaysia or its people,” he remarked.
Forest City Is The Cause Of Pollution?
To blame the pollution of the Tebrau Strait solely on Forest City alone is not fair. There was already pollution in that area because of the Port of Tanjung Pelepas (PTP), and 60-odd projects taking place along the Sungai Danga and Sungai Pulai which too affect the Tebrau Strait.
According to Dr Serina Rahman of Kelab Alami, an environmental NGO based in Tanjung Kupang, intially the reclamation works for the Forest City project was worrisome as the waters off Tanjung Kupang is rich with marine life including sea grass.
“The sea grass has spread to the left of the development where there is more water movement. The seahorses are still there, the dugongs are still there, it’s just that they don’t come near the sand barges as they are noisy. There are other patches of sea grass closer to the port (PTP) so the dugongs are there,” she said in an interview.
“The waters off this area isn’t deep. Where Forest City is now was a place for the prawn fishermen to fish for prawns. When the reclamation started, their catch was affected,” she added. “However, the number of prawns have increased tremendously in this area and if you ask any of the fishermen, they will tell you that they are getting more prawns nowadays. Somehow, the sand that is being used to reclaim the area has brought more prawn species here. They may be invasive but I don’t think the fishermen are complaining.”
According to Dr Yu, Forest City was planned as a single 20-square kilometer island. “However, after doing the Environmental Impact Assessment we found that there is a huge patch of sea grass in the middle of where the island should be and decided to preserve it. So, we made Forest City into a four-island development instead – just for the sea grass,” he explained.
“We strive to protect the environment, knowing how important it is for the ecosystem to be able to flourish,” he said. “And because of what we are doing for the sea grass, our neighbour the PTP is also taking measures to protect the aquatic environment.”
I was happy to be shown photos of marine life off the Forest City project that include the Hippocampus kuda seahorses and the Jorunna funebris nudibranch.
Investing In Future Employees
‘Prosper Thy Neighbour’ is something that the management at CGPV holds on to. To increase the chances of employability, Forest City has embarked on several initiatives including providing free Mandarin and English language classes for the fishermen of Tanjung Kupang.
According to Shalan Jum’at, co-founder of Kelab Alami, Forest City has given funds to assist the local fishing community to buy nets and tools to repair them, and have set up a net-service centre at the Kelab Alami clubhouse. The fishermen would gather there to learn English and Mandarin from tutors provided by Forest City. This prepares the fishermen for the possibility of providing eco-tourism services for foreign tourists and future residents of Forest City.
Five local schools have also been adopted by Forest City where the children are being given Mandarin language classes financed by Forest City. Schools such as SK Tiram Duku in Tanjung Kupang are being prepared as future employees and service providers for the foreigners residing at Forest City.
“We would like to be inclusive and ask the Orang Asli in the surrounding areas to provide guides for eco-tourists but it is so difficult to change their mindset.” explained Dr Yu when asked about the involvement of the local Orang Asli at Forest City.
This was confirmed by Encik Noore bin Kasi, the Tok Batin or village headman of Kampung Orang Asli Simpang Arang.
“We would like to get involved in eco-tourism but it is difficult because the Orang Asli have difficulty to change their way of life,” he said of the difficulty faced. “They think that this (Forest City) project does not benefit them. They are wrong! Eco-tourism will definitely benefit them. Development comes at a very fast pace but the mindset of the Orang Asli is too slow to catch up.”
He stressed that the situation is made worse by the presence of outsiders, in particular NGOs that are anti-government that have been coming in and out of the village to spread negative views about the project and the government to the Orang Asli community. He is afraid that the opportunity to benefit from the project will get lesser as time go by, and if the Orang Asli are being bombarded with lies continuously, they will lose out.
How would Forest City help the locals? According to Datuk Md Othman, Forest City is aimed at foreign buyers, not Malaysians. This is to ensure that foreigners take up only what is being sold at Forest City, leaving the development on mainland Johor up for grabs by the locals.
“This is how Johor ensures that the local market is not spoilt,” he added.
Whether or not there is cashflow controls imposed by China, the rich Chinese who already have investments worldwide would still come to Forest City to buy properties.
Dr Yu is equally optimistic. “Forest City is within the One Belt, One Road initiative area. The High Speed Rail ensures connectivity between Forest City and the rest of Asia especially Thailand, and India. People with investments here from the Middle East or China can fly into Senai airport direct and not have to transit at KLIA. I am certain the cashflow control is just a temporary measure to make sure that they know where are the money being invested, and Forest City being a China-involved development project will surely see a surge in investors from China once everything has been consolidated.”
With more sales offices being opened in the Middle East and in Indonesia, Forest City will definitely achieve its target.
Dr Yu said, unlike Langkawi, Tioman or nearby Stulang, the island was not duty-free, but has a portion that is designated as a duty-free area. Within this duty-free area is a township, so that its population will be able to enjoy a lower cost of living because the retail goods and consumables will cost a lot less.
“Many things in Forest City will be “unprecedented”, so in that sense, the project will be exciting,” Yu said.
And for as long as Forest City exists, it will surely continue give good life to the people of southern Johor.