Jumping To Conclusion

Arul Kanda was spotted at the opening of the UMNO General Assembly

I don’t know why Arul Kanda’s presence at the opening ceremony of the UMNO General Assembly is made a fuss.  So did Khazanah Nasional Bhd managing director Azman Mokhtar, Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) group chairperson Abdul Wahid Omar, CEO Abdul Rahman Ahmad and Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera (LTAT) CEO Lodin Wok Kamaruddin.

It has always been a tradition for CEOs of Government-linked companies to be invited to the opening ceremony to listen to the UMNO President’s speech where it always touches socio-economic concerns.  Even President of BN component parties are invited.  In fact, among those who attended the final UMNO General Assembly with Mahathir as President were MCA’s then-President Ong Ka Ting and also PPP’s M Kayveas. So, what is the big deal?

Not too long ago, an archnemesis of the Opposition attended DAP’s Convention.  There, those who swore to spit on his grave lined up to smile, bow and shake hands with the man they all had wanted to send to prison for being a corrupt dictator.

Heil Mahathir!

Behind Mahathir in the screen capture above is the very man who used to go around the country calling the former a PEROMPAK (robber).

Of course, now Mahathir is forgiven.  All the RM100 billion according to both Lim Kit Siang and Barry Wain that Mahathir squandered have been forgotten, all in the name of politics.  And in the name of politics, all those with past sins are forgiven the moment they work hand-in-hand with Pakatan.

Arul Kanda, President of BN component parties, all sat with the rest of the guests an delegations. Mahathir, however, was given a seat on the stage with DAP’s central executive committee members.

DAP Member 001A was given a seat on the stage

So, is Mahathir a DAP member?  Maybe, Malaysiakini can answer this question.

Non Compos Mentis

Zaid Ibrahim on a campaign trail (courtesy of parpukari.blogspot.my)

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.

 

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.

BNM Forex: Congratulations, Lim Kit Siang

The Singapore Times report on the BNM FOREX issue

For two decades DAP’s Supremo, Emperor Lim Kit Siang, fought to bring to justice those responsible for the loss of RM30 billion (RM45.25 billion in today’s terms) through foreign gambling exchange by the Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) back in the early 1990s.  The greed of those responsible saw the BNM increase its trading volume to USD50 million lots (RM74.46 million or RM205.65 million today) compared to the market norm then of USD5 million (RM7.45 million or RM20.56 million today) to USD10 million (RM14.90 million or RM41.12 million today), amounting to billions of Dollars per day!

BNM’s maximum exposure in the foreign exchange markets then reached as high as RM270 billion – three times the country’s GDP and more than five times the country’s foreign reserves at the time!

Imagine what would have happened had we lost all that!  But imagine what RM30 billion then could have done to arrest the massive fall of the Ringgit from RM2.4765 to the USD on 1 April 1997 to RM4.88 to the USD in early January 1998.

But despite pressing for someone to be accountable, Kit Siang is far from happy.  In September of this year he Tweeted this:

Has Lim Kit Siang accepted the loss of the RM30 billion he’s been screaming about?

Now Lim Kit Siang plays innocent saying he has nothing to do with wanting a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the BNM Forex scandal.  Is it because he and Mahathir are good friends now? Or is it because Mahathir’s involvement means that the DAP has lost one of its Malay political mules?

Best friends forever

If I recall correctly, it was Lim Kit Siang who mentioned that Mahathir has to answer for the Forex loss, and that if Pakatan captures Putrajaya, he would re-open the BNM Forex scandal.  He even asked if (former Egyptian President Hosni) Mubarak got life imprisonment, then why should Mahathir go scot-free?

Lim Kit Siang’s demands re the BNM Forex Scandal

Has Lim Kit Siang forgotten all the above?  If he has, has he gone senile due to his age? If he has problems retaining his memory, then I don’t think he ought to contest in the next general elections.

Whatever it is, the biggest winner would be Anwar. Not only does he get to see his jailor jailed, but he won’t be lonely anymore.

Let’s hope they get to share the same cell.

Bedmates

The Government Should Offload Its Burdens

Will we see the re-introduction of fuel subsidies?

I find it puzzling that the government has shut its doors on Maju Holdings’s intention of buying the PLUS concessions (Govt Shuts Door On Maju’s Bid for PLUS – Malaysian Digest, 26 November 2017) when I don’t think they have actually met with Maju Holdings to discuss the proposed deal.

Although the Second Finance Minister said in September that the Finance Ministry would first and foremost get some clarification from Maju Holdings on how they plan to execute the no-toll-hike deal before deciding whether or not to allow the deal to happen, I can bet my bottom dollar that at the time of writing this post, they have not met.

The Second Finance Minister wants to obtain clarification from Maju Holdings before deciding

I have written on this matter before and I have laid down my reasons and Tan Sri Abu Sahid’s explanation that he made to the press during his interview sessions, but I am writing this again because I am alarmed at how the government has made a decision without even doing its due diligence on the matter.

The government’s decision to do away with four tolls beginning 1 January 2018 may be good news for those in the Klang Valley and those who go shopping at Bukit Kayu Hitam or drive into Thailand, but we also know that it costs 20 sen to 30 sen to use a public toilet.  So, nothing is for free.  While the people in the areas mentioned above enjoy their toll-free highway, the rest are made to pay in the form of an extension to the conclusion of the concession of other highways operated by PLUS beyond 2038.

That is not all.  The government would have to fork out RM110 million a year as compensation to PLUS, not inclusive of the compensation the government would have to pay every time they disallow a toll rate hike.  Multiply that figure alone by 20 years, it would come up to RM2.2 billion.  Now that is not a small sum of money.  RM2.2 billion could get you 22 80-bed hospitals that could benefit especially the rural areas of Sabah and Sarawak, or in a term that I am more familiar with, four squadrons of the KAI FA-50 supersonic advanced trainers and light combat aircraft. That is almost 50 badly-needed aircraft altogether.

Not only does the government have to think about finding money to compensate PLUS every year for the loss of income from the four tolls, the government also has to think about compensating PLUS and other concessionaires every time they are allowed to increase their rates.

With the global oil price rebounding, the government has also announced that it would think of a measure to not allow retail petrol (RON95). That sounds like more money flying away in the form of a subsidy – something the government has fought hard to do away with.

The proposed deal by Maju Holdings sounds sweet to me now.  Question is, what is the Finance Ministry and/or Khazanah afraid of?

Is it because Abu Sahid is perceived as Mahathir’s crony?  Then again, which owner of a Malaysian conglomerate isn’t a crony of Mahathir’s?  Out of the 10 richest persons in Malaysia in 2016 perhaps only a couple are not Mahathir’s cronies.

Is it because the Finance Ministry and/or Khazanah thinks that Abu Sahid does not know what he is talking about because he only operates a 26-kilometre highway therefore what does he know about a 800-kilometre one?  The question is what highway did UEM even operate before it was given PLUS? How different is Maju Holdings to MTD Prime and Anih Berhad that are now running the 358-kilometre East Coast Highway after running only the 60-kilometre KL-Karak highway?

Or are people on different levels making PLUS their cash cow? I’m just throwing my thoughts here because I cannot see what are they so afraid of if someone can help them lower their financial burdens.

The Finance Ministry keeps saying that it does not want to have to bail out Maju Holdings should the deal go wrong in the future, I ask myself, and perhaps the Finance Ministry and Khazanah too, should they not pray for the Maju Holdings to fail?  Abu Sahid wants to give the UEM and EPF RM4 billion in cash for free as a return on investments made in PLUS. That is a 20 percent Internal Rate of Return (IRR).

On top of that Abu Sahid through Maju Holdings, with the backing of his financiers, seeks to forfeit the government’s compensation of about RM900 million owed to the toll road operator, which arose as a result of toll hikes not being implemented.  Imagine what the government could do by chanelling this money to sectors that badly need such funds.

In other words, the government should pray for Abu Sahid to fail after giving him PLUS – the government takes back the highway which is already toll-free then as there would not be any concessionaire, while Maju Holdings would have to face its financiers.  The highway and all its infrastructures already belong to the government no matter what, and the government can still impose tolls albeit minimal to help maintain the PLUS highways.  So, what has the government got to lose?

Loss of income by EPF that affects its contributors?  I find that hard to swallow.  EPF has so much money that it would seek to re-invest in PLUS even after the deal takes place.  EPF needs to make money for its contributors. Or it could just seek to invest in another company.  EPF has so much money that it is investing in both money-making and money-losing companies as it is now.

Therefore, as a rakyat, I reiterate my concerns taking into account the amount of money needed to compensate PLUS for abolishing the four tolls, the amount of money needed to compensate PLUS and other concessionaires to not increase toll prices, and the imminent need to subsidise RON95 – has the government seen the assumptions made by Maju Holdings? Has the government called Maju Holdings or its financial adviser Evercore for a meeting like it said it would, before even deciding to shut the door on Maju Holdings? Has the government done a due diligence on the proposal by Maju Holdings?

The government should seriously rethink its stance in this issue.  There is just too much money that needs to be involved if the government continues to keep PLUS.  This is money that could be used to pay the other concessionaires to not hike up their rates as PLUS under Maju Holdings would not be increasing theirs until the concession agreement runs out.  Or the savings could go to building more schools, hospitals or buy more fighters for the Air Force.

The government has an opportunity to offload its financial burdens.  But why is it so afraid to take that step?

Forest City: Sustaining The Future

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.

Almost, if not all the issues have been addressed in a recent posting of mine on the matter, but it seems that these politicians are hell bent on flogging an already decomposing horse.

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.

Forest City wins the Global Model of Green Building Industrial Park award for its industrial park which has boosted the construction industry

 

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).

Dr. Arab Hoballah (right), former Chief of the Sustainable Lifestyles, Cities and Industry Branch at United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP) presents the Global Model of Green Building Industrial Park award to Forest City

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.

A throwback at the Sultan of Johor’s displease of Mahathir’s lies about the Forest City project

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 Rotten Core

Rotting Apple Core (courtesy of Science Learning Hub)

It is no surprise that the recent DAP CEC election has retained some 90 percent of its line up.  Despite being a dinosaur and having manouvered the DAP through its mother-of-all-U-turns by working with arch-nemesis Mahathir Mohamad, Lim Kit Siang emerged victorious with the most number of votes.  His son, Guan Eng, despite being charged on two counts of corruption, came out third and was returned as the Secretary-General of the party.

Returned after being missing for a term is Selangor’s Ronnie Liu who is famous for trying to stop the authorities from raiding brothels and gambling dens in Selangor before DAP came into power.  The ousted included the man who is the symbol of cleanliness, moderation and a corrupt-free DAP – Tan Seng Giaw.

And as for its multiracial image, only two Indians and one Punjabi were elected but not one Malay made it to the Top 20 – again, but former DAP Pahang Chairman Tengku Zulpuri Shah bin Tengku Puji was appointed Vice-Chairman.  He is the sole Malay in the CEC line-up.  Christopher Ross Lim, the Chinese man masquerading as Malay going by the name Zairil Khir Johari, made it at No. 19. He was born a Chinese and remains a Chinese.

Only 54 percent or 1,356 delegates attended the CEC elections out of 2,514 delegates in 2013.  This shows that the support for the Lim Dynasty is waning. They can bask in party glory now but whether that will translate into actual votes especially in Pulau Pinang remains to be seen.  With only 450,000 registered members, DAP relies more on its propaganda to win over the masses, who of late are drowning in flood waters and overwhelmed by landslides due to the over-development of the hills and reclamation works in Pulau Pinang.

And to appease the spirit of a dead man, the three-year dead Karpal Singh managed to get 43 votes, more than any of the Malay candidates.  How Karpal could still get votes baffles me.

This sums up the image of the DAP – rotten to the core.