Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Selangor risking public funds in Batu Caves condo row

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 31 — Selangor is risking legal action that will see taxpayers picking up the tab for compensation to the developer of a controversial condominium project that has sparked protests from the Hindu community, by halting construction on the project it had previously approved.

“If the developer has complied with all approvals, it can seek legal recourse. Similarly and irrespective of whether the developer is right or wrong, the buyers can sue the latter if the project is delayed,” Datuk Eddy Chen, a former president of the Real Estate and Housing Developers Association (REHDA), told The Malaysian Insider.

The 29-storey Dolomite Park Avenue condominium project has turned into a political crisis as Batu Caves is the religious focal point of Hindu Indians, who form the majority of the 1.7 million Indians and are a key voting group in many urban seats in Selangor.

On Friday, about 300 Hindu and non-governmental activists joined a “Save Batu Caves” rally in the Batu Caves temple complex to protest against the condominium construction, saying it was an environmental risk that would jeopardise the temple grounds but did not furnish proof to substantiate their allegations.

The project was given the nod by state authorities in 2007, but MIC and Barisan Nasional (BN) have in recent weeks pressured the current Pakatan Rakyat (PR) administration into calling a halt to the project amid a battle for Indian votes.

Chen said there should be a technical or legal basis for the temporary stop-work order, adding that it could “lead to project abandonment” if not resolved quickly, making the buyers the “main victims”.

He said the state government must be “careful” not to “penalise” the developer or its buyer, saying that Selangor should lift the stop work order immediately if all the requirements have been fulfilled.

REHDA also issued a warning that reversals of government decisions due to public objection alone is frightening for business interests.

Delays or cancellation of a valid development order would indicate that technically sound decisions can easily be “reversed” by “popular objection”, a REHDA spokesman told The Malaysian Insider.

“If this country is going to degenerate to a process where objectors overturn the government’s decision, it really frightens me,” the spokesman said.

“At least that is some step forward,” he said, when it was pointed out that Selangor plans to set up an independent taskforce to ensure that the developer Dolomite Properties Sdn Bhd has complied with all regulations.

But he asked whether those who protested would be “prepared to compensate” the developer for its losses, if the findings show that the granting of the development order was “absolutely ok”.

The state government should resolve the matter “very quickly” and not let it “drag into a political affair”, he said.

Ignore AES summonses, PAS urges the people

  • Hazlan Zakaria
  • 8:00PM Oct 31, 2012
PAS has called on the public to ignore traffic fines issued through the automated traffic enforcement system (AES) on grounds that the system is unjust and will benefit crony companies.

At a press conference today, PAS vice-president Mahfuz Omar said that his call is limited only to summonses issued under the AES and not regular traffic police summonses.

Mahfuz, who heads pressure group campaigning against the abolishment of postal summonses for traffic offences called Kase, added that the AES system would become a burden for the public.

He said that that Kase has prepared 100 lawyers to help those who have been penalised through AES.

"The federal government should void all summonses issued since Oct 13.

"If the government refuses to do so, I urge those who received AES summonses to not pay the fines which amounts RM300 (each).

"Follow the instructions on the summons notice and go to court. Kase will have lawyers to help," Mahfuz, the Pokok Sena MP, told reporters at the Parliament lobby today.

He added that summons issued under the system is misleading as they are issued under Section 79(2) of the Road Transport Act for speeding offences.

Mahfuz insists that Section 79(2) refers not to speeding but for not obeying traffic rules and signs.

He also pointed out that while AES summonses are a flat rate of RM300 as printed on copies sent to road users, Section 79(2) specify fines of "up to RM500" which means that there should be discretion on the part of traffic court judges to reduce the fines.

This was among one of the provisions of the law that Kase intends to test in court.

8th Bersih member stopped by Immigration

  • Aidila Razak
  • 5:53PM Oct 31, 2012
Yet another Bersih steering committee member was stopped from passing through immigration gates prior to leaving the country, bringing the total to eight.

NONEAccording to committee member Arul Prakkash (right), he was stopped at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal last Saturday on police instructions.

“The immigration officers stopped me at the gates because I was on the blacklist... and when I asked why, they said it was instructions from police,” he said when contacted.

Arul, who was traveling overseas on a business trip, said that immigration had held him back for about 30 minutes and made copies of his passport and boarding pass before letting him through.

“I kept reminding them I had a flight to catch and did not ask too many questions about the situation. I only took down the immigration officer's name for later checks with police.

“I barely managed to board my flight,” said the activist, who is also executive director of the NGO Pusat Komas.

Travelling to Sarawak next

He said that this was his first overseas trip since the steering committee was sued by the government for damages allegedly caused during the mammoth rally for clean and fair elections last April.

“I believe it is because of my involvement in Bersih. I don't have a criminal record or student loans to settle.

NONE“My next trip is to Sarawak, so we shall see if I'm allowed in. I have decided to buy a one-way ticket first, just in case,” he quipped.

Others who have been briefly stopped by immigration prior to leaving the country were Bersih co-chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan (left, in photo) and committee members Maria Chin Abdullah (right, in photo), Wong Chin Huat, Andrew Khoo, Yeo Yang Poh, Toh Kim Woon and K Arumugam.

Wong, Ambiga and Maria also found themselves barred form entering Sarawak while committee member Ahmad Syukri Ab Razab was not allowed to enter Sabah, the state where he was born.

Bersih have decried these “unnecessary delays” as harrasment and demands it be stopped immediately.

Overseas vote - crawling to the finish line

  • William de Cruz
  • 10:51AM Oct 31, 2012
COMMENT The court case that has seen six overseas Malaysians fight the Election Commission (EC) after it rejected their application to become postal voters has moved tantalisingly toward some form of closure.

The litigants, all living in Britain, had on Oct 24 called for an adjournment after the commission's senior federal counsel (SFC) verbally notified them that the EC would change the regulations.

Although no formal statement was presented in court, the SFC told Justice Clement Allan Skinner that the EC was working to allow the litigants (and other eligible overseas Malaysians) to vote by post.

On Oct 27, three days after the adjournment was fixed for Feb 28, 2013, Malaysiakini reported that the Foreign Affairs Ministry was set to introduce postal voting for all overseas Malaysians, after being notified that the EC would amend the relevant rules and that implementation would follow shortly after.

The ministry said the amendments had not been distributed to parliamentarians and gazetted, "but our staff at all embassies and representative offices are ever ready".

NONEDeputy Foreign Affairs Minister A Kohilan Pillay (left) told Berita Harian that action would be taken once the amendments were adopted and gazetted, to ensure information on postal voting reaches Malaysians overseas.

The amendments are now expected to be tabled during the current sitting of the Dewan Rakyat.

However, the case launched by the Malaysians - Teo Hoon Seong, Vinesh Vijayan, Paramjeet Singh, Yolanda Augustin, Sim Tze Wei and Leong See See - has not concluded formally.

The long-running saga behind Teo vs EC began in 2011, soon after the six formally applied to the EC to be registered as postal voters. The applications were rejected and the legal challenge against the commission's decision not to recognise their voting rights - which are supported in the federal constitution - was lodged.

On Jan 6 this year, the Kuala Lumpur High Court threw out their case in a decision that was decried by lawyers who argued that the judge, Justice Rohana Yusof, had missed the point of their legal challenge.

My Overseas Vote (MOV), which is supporting the six Malaysians and advising the case, maintains on its website that the court appears to have misunderstood the challenge, which struck at the heart of the 2002 Elections (Registration of Electors) Regulations.

azlanPapers presented in the case state that the regulations are arbitrary and discriminatory because the EC had prescribed to only allow government servants, military personnel and students (and their spouses) to be considered as absent voters, while depriving all other eligible Malaysians living overseas that same right to vote by post.

More importantly, the six have argued that the regulations stood as a violation of the constitution, which explicitly allows for voting by absent voters who are not resident in a constituency, including themselves.

The litigants asked the court to declare that they are entitled to be absent voters or, alternatively, to direct the EC to extend ‘absent voter’ definitions in its regulations so they would include the six citizens and other Malaysians resident overseas.

Nevertheless, Justice Rohana stated in her written judgment that the court cannot order the EC to make regulations to include the six as overseas voters because the court's duty is only to interpret the laws.

This stunned the litigants, their lawyer Edmund Bon who continues to represent his clients pro bono, and the legal fraternity.

‘Duty toward fair vote’

The Oct 27 announcement and the EC's about-turn in court three days earlier implies that the commission has discriminated against the litigants in spite of their constitutional rights, and it would appear that the six have won the argument.

NONELead litigant Teo (right), asked why she had put herself forward in the case, said: "There is only so long that you can sit back and watch your country go down the drain."

Co-litigant and trustee in the matter See-See Leong said: "We don't see the EC amending the regulations as a bonus. It is their duty to ensure voting is fair to all the electorate.

"They had over a year to amend the current regulations, which discriminates voters on the basis of their profession.

"The EC now has less than a month to amend, gazette and lay the regulations before the Dewan Rakyat before the parliamentary sitting ends on Nov 27. Will they struggle to fulfil their duty again?"

MOV says fighting for 1 million Malaysians abroad to become postal voters remains its top priority.

"Inseparable from this is our insistence on a longer campaign period and secure means of handling the ballot,” it said.

"If the regulations are not amended before the parliamentary sitting ends, we will apply to bring forward the hearing at the Court of Appeal."

Until the events of last week, the EC had not been seen to have acted on the parliamentary directive to recognise nearly 1 million overseas citizens as postal voters.

NONEMalaysians may now rightfully ask: Has EC chairperson Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof (left) shown himself as unqualified for his all-important job, or has he chosen to discriminate within those powers?

MOV considers it is "inconceivable" that the EC does not know its powers, considering its own legal staff and an annual budget of RM700 million.

The actions of its chairperson, measured against matters of law and the constitution, until recently depicted a very disturbing pattern of arbitrary discrimination, ignorance of the very legislation he must work to and, above all, contempt of the Dewan Rakyat itself.

Consider that the Elections Act 1958 empowers the commission to regulate to register voters, including the ability to determine electors. Specifically, it also allows the commission to ‘prescribe the facilities to be provided for voting by post and the persons entitled to vote by post’.

But while the chairperson and his commission continued to spite the six Malaysians in Teo vs EC and, by extension, nearly 1 million Malaysians overseas, Abdul Aziz used his power to grant postal-voter status to previously ineligible spouses of police officers in the General Operations Forces.

High stakes

As farcical as all this may sound, the fact remains that six lone Malaysians continue to risk great financial pain and immeasurable personal strain for the crime of demanding their constitutional rights of the EC.

The electoral numbers behind extending postal-vote status to all eligible Malaysians go towards explaining why the EC has avoided doing the right thing, perhaps because its chairperson views himself as a government servant, when he is in fact in service of the public.

azlanAccording to MOV, which has supported the legal challenge, introducing 1 million Malaysians as voters will mean an increase of up to 9 percent to the electoral roll - a surge in voter numbers that spells disaster for BN, which lost its two-thirds parliamentary majority in the now historic elections of 2008.

There is now every indication that the 13th general election will be called after the Chinese New Year in February 2013.

It still remains to be seen how fast the EC will meaningfully act to allow 1 million overseas Malaysians to vote by post in that general election.

The stakes are high for Malaysia, considering how such a huge voting bloc may spell the difference between a slim majority and a landslide win for Pakatan Rakyat.

At the same time, Malaysians once again face being denied a clear and present chance to democratically change government after 55 years of Umno-dominated rule under the BN.

In the wake of denial of their constitutional rights, the travesty of voter discrimination by Abdul Aziz, contempt of Parliament and mounting legal costs, the six Malaysians in Britain insist they will fight on.

Leong said: "We are fighting alongside Ambiga Sreenevasan and Bersih. Like them, we treat this as a job we have to do."

WILLIAM DE CRUZ is a Malaysian who resides in Sydney. He fully intends to fly home to Malaysia to vote in the 13th general election.

Free dinners not barometer of support

YOURSAY 'If not for the pretext of donations to the Chinese school, I reckon only MCA members and their cronies will attend the function.'

'Exodus at MCA dinner not sign of flaccid support'

your sayOdin: MCA deputy president Liow Tiong Lai, you fellows in the BN are all suffering from diseases called lying and self-deluding, besides those called stealing, deceiving and bullying.

Three thousand of your guests walking out when your president was delivering his speech after all the dinner courses had been served tells us that they have no respect for your party chief, and they were not interested to hear what he had got to say.

They attended the dinner only to enjoy a meal paid for. They are certainly no supporters. But go on living in your world of self-delusion.

Anonymous #41809171: "It doesn't mean that if someone leaves (the event), there must be a serious issue. It doesn't mean that they (the crowd) are not giving us support," said Liow.

Really? Even if 20 percent of the crowd stage a walk-out right in the middle of the MCA president's speech? You guys are more deluded than I imagined.

Ctrich: When MCA president Chua Soi Lek was talking, I noticed many diners were busy talking among themselves and not listening at all. Many tables were empty too and lots of tables are occupied by fewer than five persons.

I was told MCA members went around distributing dinner tickets free but many people turned them down and instead preferred to buy the RM100 tickets to attend a DAP dinner the next day.

If not for the pretext of donations to the Chinese school, I reckon only MCA members and their cronies would have attended the function.

YF: Umno, you heard that? Chua is willing to abandon Umno when Johor gets a Chinese MB. Not only has Chua insulted Islam, Chua now confesses he will leave Umno when Umno loses power.

So Umno, you still want to stick around with Chua and MCA? They are opportunists rather than loyal partners.

Bluemountains: There is no need for you to claim to have the people's support. MCA will know where it stands once the ballots are counted.

Free dinners are not a good indication of support. But one thing that is certain to happen is that many of MCA parliamentarians and ministers must prepare themselves for early retirement.

Armageddon: People attending the MCA dinner (or any other BN-sponsored dinner) because either the dinner is free or they get pocket money or they are afraid of repercussion by the authority for not attending the dinner.

Go ahead and dream, MCA. Try organise a dinner and ask for donations just like Pakatan Rakyat is doing, and see how many show up.

Queenie: Liow, next time you want to have a large crowd, just announce that the dinner is to say farewell to MCA. People will be stumbling over one another to get a seat. You can even charge the diners.

Gov't stays committed to recover NFC money

Changeagent: If the government is seriously committed to recovering the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) money, they should talk to Wanita Umno chief Shahrizat Abdul Jalil's family members.

Tell them to liquidate all the purchased assets like the Bangsar and Scott Road super-condominiums, Mercedes Benz, Putrajaya prime land and shop-house buildings for cash so that it can be repaid to the government.

There is no point in talking to the so-called other companies because they are not the guilty parties which have misappropriated RM250 million of public funds to fund their own lavish and obscenely corrupt lifestyles.

Anonymous_3e86: How much time does the BN government wants to recover the money? 10 years? 20 years?

Freeze the assets of Shahrizat and her family since they are NFC shareholders. Then auction off their assets to recover the RM250 million. What's so difficult?

Odin: As we are all aware by now, Agriculture Minister Noh Omar's words are as valueless as the prawn droppings on his prawn farms.

The whole affair shows opacity to obfuscate wrongdoings and incompetency - two of the ugly features synonymous with the BN government and the way the ‘first-class bumiputeras' do business - and no real desire to act against the pseudo-cowboys and recover the money.

LittleGiant: The agriculture minister's statement that "may be they have their own way to continue..." only shows that he is completely clueless and has zero knowledge about what is actually happening in NFC.

A responsible minister would have all the facts and information ready at his fingertips, especially when it involves a high-profile issue of public interest.

Onyourtoes: Noh Omar, just stop the project. It is useless to continue. Talking with other companies will not help the government to recover the money.
Who would want to start a business with minus RM250 million. So please don't talk as if the government will lose nothing if other companies were to take over the project.

Supplying high quality beef is not a national strategic issue. Leave it to the private sector and open up more lands for cattle farming to genuine operators. Make them totally responsible and take their own risks.

That is how enterprise and industry evolve - businessmen take risks, make profits and expand over time.

Kolopilah: In any failed transaction, the banks will normally recall the loans. In this case, if the family cannot repay, the banks will immediately initiate proceedings for bankruptcy.

For once, let the whole family go bankrupt so as to remind politicians like you and so many other Umno leaders that it does not pay to be corrupt.

Warisan Merdeka tower to be 118 storeys, says ministry

  • Hazlan Zakaria
  • Oct 31, 2012
Despite earlier denials by developer PNB Merdeka Ventures Sdn Bhd, the Federal Territories and Urban Wellbeing Ministry has confirmed that the proposed Warisan Merdeka tower will indeed be increased to 118 storeys from the planned 100 levels.

The ministry disclosed this in a parliamentary written answer to Bukit Bintang MP Fong Kui Lun yesterday.
The answer described that the Development Order for the tower is being withheld by KL City Hall pending certain conditions being met, which included the need for the 118-storey tower antenna design to be re-worked to increase its esthetics to be on par with its planned facade.

PNB had earlier denied claims by heritage activitist Teoh Chee Keong that the height of the tower will be increased to about 120 floors.

“At the inception of this project, the original height of the building was envisaged to be approximately 509 metres. Since then, we have revised the height to 600 metres and the extra height is purely for the spire,” a PNB spokesperson said in response to Malaysiakini’s inquiry.

The written reply also confirmed that the project will involve the acquisition of private lands surrounding the proposed tower site as well as government land for the project, as well as the construction of additional access roads.

It was specified in the answer that one of the conditions for the release of the DBKL Development Order is pending PNB providing notification to the Federal Territories Land and Minerals Office to handle the land acquisitions that will occur.

Again, this contradicted with PNB’s denial that no private land will be involved.

azlan“For road improvement purposes, there are road widening plans for the existing roads. However, this will be carried out within the road reserves and using part of Menara Warisan’s land,” the company had said.
The formerly 100-storey Warisan Merdeka Tower, with an estimated cost of RM5 billion, was announced by Prime Minister and Finance Minister Najib Abdul Razak in his Budget speech in 2010.

The announcement sparked strong protests among netizens and the opposition, claiming that the building was a typical example of the federal government’s spendthrift ways and the RM5 billion cost would be better spent on welfare, education and on improving the public transport system.

Najib has stoutly defended the project, stressing that it was not a waste and that it would have a multiplier effect on the economy.

Penang trashes 'crony contract' for solid waste

  • Susan Loone
  • 2:08PM Oct 31, 2012
The Penang government has signed a contract with PLB Terang Sdn Bhd to manage the disposal of solid waste in Pulau Burung.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the state has managed to do away with a "crony project”, under which people were being charged too much without gaining any benefit.

NONE"The state conducted consultations with the company managing the waste when the contract ended in July 2009," Lim (right) said at a ceremony today to sign the contract.

"(We have) managed to reduce the cost (by) as much as RM11.2 million yearly or (by) 42.4 percent (over) three years.”

Lim said the two local councils (Penang and Seberang Perai) have saved RM33.5 million in this area, proving once again the effectiveness of the state’s CAT (competency, accountability and transparency) policy.

NONEThe change in concessionaire was made possible by Penang withdrawing from the solid waste management privatisation scheme under Act 672, and deciding to carry out the job through the local councils’ own mechanism.
Meanwhile, Lim said that the management cost for solid waste since 2001 was about RM500 million, when prices were much lower then.

"With the new contract, the cost is about RM300 (million), even when prices are much higher now. We are able to save at least RM200 million. That is the beauty of open tender. It helps you to save money".
Integrity pact
State executive councillor Chow Kon Yeow said PLB Terang had been selected from 13 companies that had bid for the project.

NONEOf the 13 who had put in a bid via a ‘request for proposal’ (RFP), five were shortlisted.

"The RFP was closed last August, after being opened for a month for applications," said Chow (left).

"To ensure transparency and good governance, and to ensure a culture of integrity in government administration, all applicants were required to sign an integrity pact.”
When asked, Chow said facilities and the requirements in the new contract signed with PLB Terang are able to meet the project's challenges for the next 20 years.

The landfill capacity, he added, will be extended to about 20 years or more.

He further dismissed the possibility of incinerators being built for at least 30 years, saying, “Let the new state exco in the next government (30 years later) think of that". 

'No confidence' the reason for 'trumpet-blowing'

  • Aidila Razak
  • 4:30PM Oct 31, 2012
Malaysians leak information to the opposition, instead of going straight to the authorities, because there is "an issue with confidence" in the authorities, Transparency International-Malaysia says.

However, this situation renders the whistleblower vulnerable to repercussions as the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010 only provides a shield for those who go straight toNONE enforcement agencies.

"There is a weakness in the Act, and there is now a question as to whether those who blow the whistle (to parties) outside of enforcement agencies will be given protection," TI-M president Paul Low (right) said today.

Low said whistleblowers have provided information to opposition political parties instead as they feared their identity would be revealed or that they would receive a hostile reception from the enforcement agencies.

"They also have no confidence that their complaints will be investigated," he said when contacted.

In other countries, Low said, an independent agency is set up to receive all whistleblower complaints.

"We have the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC), but it was not set up to receive complaints from whistleblowers," he added.

However, whistleblowing should not be done to gain publicity or politicise a matter, as in the case of the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) exposes.

"For NFC, it was highly-politicised. If it was just to blow the whistle, the information would be revealed at once and not bit by bit," he said.

Low was commenting on de facto law minister Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz's statement to Parliament that protection could not be given to those who exposed information on the NFC scandal.

Nazri said PKR director of strategy Rafizi Ramli, who was at the forefront of the expose, was not a whistleblower, but a "trumpet-blower" as he had raised the red flag publicly.

'AG can choose who to prosecute'

Rafizi and a former bank employee have since been charged under the Banking and Financial Institutions Act 1989 for exposing banking records of the NFC and its directors.

NFC chairperson Mohamad Salleh Ismail has since been charged with criminal breach of trust and violations of the Companies Act 1965.

NONEMeanwhile, Bar Council president Lim Chee Wee (left) said even if the Whistleblowers Act could not apply to Rafizi, the attorney-general still had "almost absolute discretion" on whether to charge Rafizi.

"Over and beyond the issue of technical compliance with the Act, the AG has almost absolute discretion in law in prosecution.

"One wonders whether this is an appropriate case for charges not to proceed because of the public interest served by Rafizi's public disclosure of the NFC scandal," Lim said in an email to Malaysiakini.

However, he added, Rafizi's team should seek to challenge the decision to prosecute the PKR leader "if it is able to show that he is, in fact and in law, a whistleblower".

Planned mandatory mosques law may cause polarisation, says Sabah church group

The Putra Mosque is seen shrouded with smog in Putrajaya June 12, 2009. — Reuters pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 31 ― An influential Sabah Christian group has objected to a proposed state law that will make it compulsory for mosques to be built in new housing areas, saying such a move may drive a bigger wedge between Muslims and non-Muslims in the Borneo state.
The National Fellowship (NECF) Commission on Sabah Affairs (COSA) said that the proposal for such a blanket policy was misguided as there has never been any problem in gaining approval for the building of mosques and Muslim prayer halls in the state, unlike for non-Muslim places of worship that it says have been subjected to unnecessary delays in obtaining approval for their building plans and in land acquisition applications.
NECF-COSA chairman Reverend Datuk Jerry Dusing said the current building by-laws are already working and saw no necessity for a change in the status quo
“Why put (the building of mosques as) mandatory, as if Malaysia is only (made up of practitioners of) one kind of religion?” he told The Malaysian Insider after the NECF-COSA issued a media statement to highlight the issue.
Sabah Assistant Finance Minister Datuk Tawfiq Abu Bakar Titingan had proposed that local authorities enforce the requirement of providing a mosque site for each low- and medium-cost housing project in Sabah to ensure Muslims residents could carry out their religious obligations with ease, state news agency Bernama had reported on September 21.
Dusing, who is also president of the Sabah branch of Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB), said church leaders had not been consulted prior to the proposal and only recently found out about it from reading newspaper reports.
He said that previously, the state government would seek the views of the different religious groups before making a decision on such a “sensitive matter”.
He pointed to the 2007 controversy over the construction of a 108-foot high statue of Mazu ― as Taoists in Sabah call the patron deity protecting seafarers ― in mainly Muslim Kudat, a coastal town in the northern tip of Sabah
He claimed the Sabah chief minister had discussed the matter with the different religious group leaders before deciding to cancel its approval first granted to the project in 2006.
Dusing also said the state Barisan Nasional (BN) government had consulted church leaders when Muslims wanted to build a mosque in Penampang, which had met with objections as the western Sabah town was predominantly Christian.
“Rather than making it mandatory, wouldn’t it be better to have a discussion first to see the views of all religious groups and go on an approval process? Let those in the local authority decide,” he said, adding that NECF-COSA was also concerned that non-Muslim house buyers may eventually end up having to shoulder the added cost to build the mosques passed on to them by developers.
Muslims make up some 60 per cent of Malaysia’s 28 million population, but the country’s 9 per cent Christian minority mostly hail from Sabah and Sarawak, considered the “fixed deposit” vote bank for the ruling BN coalition.
The Christian community there has grown increasingly vocal in recent years in standing up for what it perceives as an encroachment on their constitutional religious rights following the continued legal tussle over the use of the word “Allah”; the Catholic Church was barred from publishing the word in its weekly newspaper despite it being allowed to do so following a High Court decision on December 31, 2009.
Last year, shipments of the al-kitab, the Malay-language Bible catering to the Bahasa Malaysia-speaking Bumiputera Christians, were blocked or confiscated at ports, before the government finally bowed to pressure.

Kohilan washes his hands of Batu Caves condo

  • Abdul Rahim Sabri
  • 9:14AM Oct 31, 2012
Deputy Foreign Minister A Kohilan Pillay has contended that he was not involved in the approval of a controversial 29-storey condominium near the Batu Caves temple although he was a local councillor when the decision was made.

Denying the allegation by Selangor state exco Ronnie Liu, the senator claimed that the approval was given by the One Stop Center (OSC) of Selayang Municipal council (MPS).

protest at batu cave temple 261012 former selayang counsellor a kohilan pillay"I was only a councillor. It was not me who gave the approval. It was the OSC in the council that gave the approval. I was not involved. If he (Liu) wants to accuse, (he should provide) the facts...

"Many facts have been spun. There was nothing to show (that I) gave the approval. I have checked the files. I was not involved in giving the approval," he told Malaysiakini yesterday.

According to the MPS official website, the function of OSC is to receive and process applications of building plans, land work plans and project planning for the approval of the local council.

Kohilan was a councillor in MPS for 11 years, serving from 1997 to 2008.

The construction of a massive condominium near the iconic Subramaniar Temple in Batu Caves came under the spotlight after the temple committee, backed by MIC top guns including former president S Samy Vellu, led a protest against the Selangor government last week.

Batu caves condo near temple ronnie liu with mapHowever, Liu later revealed documents to show that BN had approved the tower block - considered by many as an eyesore - when it controlled Selangor in 2007.

Last Wednesday, Liu reportedly alleged that Kohilan and Hulu Selangor MP P Kamalanathan were among those responsible for approving the project.

However, Kamalanathan denied the accusation yesterday and lodged a police report on the matter. Kohilan has also lodged a similar report last night at the Batu Caves police station.

About-turn by Kohilan

Kohilan told Malaysiakini that he found out that he and Kamalanathan were linked to the condo approval after this was raised by the temple committee recently.

He described the allegation as "baseless" and "reckless".

"See who actually made (the decision in approving the project). Don't simply guess. This (allegation) smelled of political agenda."

Wprotest at batu cave temple 261012 05hile Kohilan conceded that the approval for the project was given during the BN administration - an about-turn from his earlier allegation which he made last Friday - he nevertheless ticked off the existing councillors appointed by the Pakatan government.

"Did they monitor it (the project) or are they not aware of the issue... What have the councillors been doing (after Pakatan took over Selangor)?" he asked.

Of eggs and AES - Selena tay

If the government feels like it, they will toss some silly explanation at us. Otherwise they just ignore us.

The price of eggs is a great indicator of a nation’s economy. When the price of eggs go up tremendously in a short space of time, then it is an indication that not all is well.

From the week before Hari Raya Aidil Fitri which is the third week of August to the third week of October, the price of eggs had shot up from RM2.90 to RM3.65 for a tray of 10.

If the government can no longer afford to subsidise the most basic foodstuff, then it is a warning sign that all is not well with the nation’s economy no matter how much the government tries to deny it.

The mismanagement of the nation’s economy is at its most critical stage during the tenure of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak. This is because it is only during his tenure that the national debt has surpassed the RM500 billion mark. And if contingent liabilities amounting to over RM100 billion is added, it will be over RM600 billion. Clearly the economic skills of the Najib administration is sorely lacking.

And yet the prime minister still insists on holding on to the posts of finance minister and minister for women, family and community development. Is there no capable woman in BN able to head the Women’s Ministry?

Are we putting ourselves up as the world’s laughing stock?

This is certainly not the hallmark of a nation marching towards Vision 2020 nor a nation which aspires to achieve first world status.

Is Najib proving himself to be the end of the RAHMAN legacy with his incompetence?

And not only him but also Transport Minister Kong Cho Ha is another minister who has got a lot of explanation to do. And this is pertaining to the AES (Automated Enforcement System) which is part and parcel of the government’s efforts to reduce road accidents.

Although it is a noble move, the fine of RM300 as a blanket sum is steep to say the least. Is this an Activated Easy Scam to generate income? One zap by the camera and RM300 disappears from the rakyat’s pockets!
The whole project needs further explanation instead of just being rushed through as it creates an impression that certain parties want to earn a fast buck.

The government’s motives to reduce deaths on the highways must of course be lauded as a good move but there should be some leeway on the fine and the amount should be between RM100 to RM300 instead of a fixed sum of RM300. The public should be allowed to negotiate on the sum on a case to case basis.

Explanations needed

From eggs to AES, the Najib administration has definitely got some explanation to do. The rakyat are not as dumb these days although there are still some gullible ones around.

New laws should not be rushed through, for example the Peaceful Assembly Act 2011 which was bulldozed through in Parliament in November last year and Section 114A of the Evidence (Amendment) Act 2012 (with regard to postings made on the internet) that was rammed through by the BN MPs in April this year.

From ground surveys conducted, many citizens are unhappy with the way things are being run and many city folk now opine that the BR1M cash aid is the people’s money and so we have the right to take it without feeling obligated to vote for BN.

Actually what the government is giving is just a pittance to placate the low-wage earners who are unhappy with the ever-rising cost of living and this might lower the number of votes BN may obtain at the ballot box. Therefore BR1M is a sort of incentive to safeguard the government’s popularity.

And as prices of basic necessities are soaring even before the Goods & Services Tax (GST) is implemented, what can we expect post-GST?!

The assurance given by the federal government that prices of basic necessities will be controlled is thus highly doubtful.

For a long time now, the incumbent government has engaged in double-talk. At the end of November two years ago, a local English daily reported that the government will not be increasing the price of RON95 but in early December the price of RON95 went up. In the social media, many citizens had put up the daily’s news report side by side with the December news report on the price increase to highlight the government’s duplicity.

Therefore, now the government has wisen-up and price increases will at times not be highlighted in the press.
No one must forget the way the prime minister had played what can be labelled as the “Stadium Trick” last year when he told the Bersih organisers to gather in a stadium but at the end of it, the request made by the Bersih organisers to use Stadium Merdeka was flatly denied.

This means that whatever the government says must be taken with a large pinch of salt. There is always a lot of play on words and vagueness in what they say.

Their explanations pertaining to scandals and fiascoes belie belief due to a lack of logic in their statements. Blanket statements are also the norm as in the case of the Ampang LRT contract.

Global conditions are always blamed for the increase in the price of goods. When the mood suits them, the government just keeps silent and ignores the rakyat’s demands. Take for example the request made by the rakyat to the government to clean up the electoral roll. Till today are they still not keeping quiet on this?
Overall to sum up, if the government feels like it, they will toss some silly explanation at us. Otherwise they just ignore us.

After 55 years, is this what we deserve?

Selena Tay is a FMT columnist.

No let-up for Penan at Murum blockade

  • Ahmad Fadli KC
  • 8:06AM Oct 31, 2012
Penan community leaders have resolved to continue their blockade to prevent construction vehicles from entering or leaving the Murum Dam site in Sarawak following a meeting on Saturday.

Contacted yesterday, Save Sarawak's Rivers Network (Save Rivers) chairperson Peter Kallang said he was informed of the decision after visiting the Penan leaders.

NONE"Yes, (they) will continue (with the blockade)," said Kallang, an activist from the indigenous community rights advocacy group.

Kallang said that the Penan leaders had also agreed to participate in a discussion with the Sarawak government scheduled for November.

There have been repeated announcements by state government leaders that the Penan leaders had dismantled the two-month long blockade.

Among others, Belaga state assemblyperson Liwan Lagang had claimed last Saturday that the Penan leaders had reached an agreement with the government following a meeting between the two parties.

According to state land development minister James Jemut Masing, the government had agreed to seriously look into the Penan demand involving land and compensation issues.

Thousands to be displaced

The RM3 billion Murum Dam, now 70 percent complete, is located at the uppermost part of the Rajang River.

penan lands in sarawak 060208It is part of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (Score) project - a network of electricity generation projects designed to power economic development in central Sarawak.

A total of 250 square kilometres - the size of Kenyir Lake - will be flooded, displacing thousands of indigenous people.

On Sept 26, between 200 and 300 Penans, together with some Kenyah Badeng from eight settlements - directly or indirectly affected by the dam - took part in the blockade at Sungai Seping, the entrance to the dam construction site.

The natives are demanding, among others, 25 hectares of land for each of the 300 families there on top of RM500,000 compensation per family

Education for quick success and instant benefits — Lim Sue Goa

OCT 30 — The people’s first reaction to the SMK Sacred Heart’s announcement of awarding a new Perodua Myvi car to the Best Teacher and Best Student of the school was — will it cause the deterioration of education?
After awarding cars today, would they give diamond rings or sport cars tomorrow? Awarding such expensive gifts for students might distort the purpose of education. If children study only to receive gifts and rewards, would they understand the true meaning of studying? Would they study for themselves, or to receive material rewards?
In fact, not only the above mentioned school, but many other schools nationwide have gradually tended to seek for quick success and instant benefits. 
For example, some of the so-called “elite schools” stress so much on examination results and refuse to let students with poor results take government examinations to prevent them from pulling down the school’s average grade. Shouldn’t schools teach all children without discrimination?
If school education stresses data and achievements like business and highlights only the number of As the students get and how high the passing rate is, what would be left if this data is taken away?
The Education Ministry has spent large sums of money to issue the Outstanding School Award, Outstanding Principal Award and Outstanding Student Award. Have they brought a positive effect? 
Education director-general Tan Sri Abd Ghafar Mahmud said the Education Ministry issues the Outstanding School Award to schools with excellent performance in the SPM, based on their school average grades (GPS). He added that the performance of a school can be reflected by the number of students getting straight As in government examinations.
The move of issuing awards based on the results of government examinations has encouraged the emphasis on results while neglecting the nurturing of moral conduct. If the success or failure of education is determined by how many As students get, it will be a sad day for education.
Other countries and regions also issue education awards. However, academic result is not the sole criterion. For example, the Teaching Excellence Award in Taiwan is awarded to, firstly, those who are committed to develop and promote innovative teaching methods; secondly, those who excellently activate classroom management and counsel students on adaptive development; and, thirdly, those who excellently develop teaching programmes based on education policy.
Education is to improve students’ learning outcome through improving teaching performance and teaching quality in innovative ways. Our education awards here, however, do not pay attention to creative but instead focus on spoonfeeding teaching methods. If such a trend becomes the mainstream, the goal of enhancing students’ ability to think, as stated in the Malaysia Education Blueprint, will then remain an idle theory.
Everyone recognises only students with excellent performance and their teachers while those with poor academic performance might be “abandoned” and eventually drop out of school, go astray and get involve in criminal acts.
The failure of education in schools is one of the factors causing so many social problems and crimes. If education goes towards the pursuit of material rewards and honour, morality standards might continue to fall.
I miss the days when I was studying in a Chinese independent school. I can still remember that our teachers asked us why we should read and study. It is indeed also a question that today’s educators and students should ask themselves.
As Confucius said: “The responsibilities of teachers are to preach, teach and clear doubts.” If students are confused about life, can we still call our education successful? —

Controversial May 13 ‘Tanda Putera’ film release shelved indefinitely, say sources

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 31 ― The public release of the “Tanda Putera” film that deals with the May 13 race riots has been put off indefinitely and now may hit the silver screen after the next general election, say sources.
The Malaysian Insider understands that senior government officials and the Najib administration did not want any distractions and potential flashpoints in the run up to the polls, which is likely to be held in the first quarter of 2013 after the Bantuan Rakyat 1 Malaysian 2.0 (BR1M) is paid out.
The RM4.8 million film, financed with public funds, was first due to be released last September 13 but it was later pushed to November 17.
“There is too much controversy about the film and the authorities have decided on a later release date,” a government source told The Malaysian Insider.
One source added the government had no say in the script although it financed the film that had caused an uproar over the unflattering portrayal of people based on several opposition leaders.
“Putrajaya just wants to head off a potential problem. The people’s feelings are more important than the film production company,” he said.
“Tanda Putera” depicts second prime minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein and his deputy, Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman, during the post-May 13 period. It was produced by Pesona Pictures Sdn Bhd in collaboration with the National Film Development Corporation (FINAS), which provided the financing together with the Multimedia Development Corporation (MDEC).
Abdul Razak’s eldest son, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, is the current prime minister.
The film’s director, Datuk Shuhaimi Baba, confirmed yesterday that the film will not be screened on November 15 as previously planned.
“No screening, because (the) Nov 15 (date) has been cancelled. The new date will be in 2013. There is no more slots for this year,” Shuhaimi told the Malaysiakini news portal in a text message.
But she and producer Aida Fitri Buyong declined to state the reasons for the postponement.
“It is better if this matter is referred to the FINAS director Naguib Razak or (Information, Communications And Culture Ministry) secretary-general Datuk Seri Kamaruddin Siaraf for reasons (for the delay),” Shuhaimi said.
A focus group had previewed the film in July while its online trailer received considerable brickbats over some of the scenes depicting May 13. Shuhaimi had previously denied claims that the release date for the film was linked to the general election.
Last week, Putrajaya had defended its approval of “Tanda Putera”, saying it felt it was necessary to remind Malaysians of the bloody tragedy in 1969.
Deputy Minister Senator Datuk Maglin Dennis D’Cruz told the Dewan Rakyat on October 23 that the government believed that with the level of maturity of today’s youths, such historical events should be depicted in a most “effective and realistic” manner.
“Although it touches on a sensitive racial issue, the May 13 tragedy has become an important incident that Malaysians must take heed of and use as an example of how important racial harmony is to the country,” he said during Question Time.
He also gave his assurance that the government, through FINAS, reserved the right to reject any film production that violates the guidelines of local censors.
Shuhaimi had denied that “Tanda Putera” promoted a pro-Malay agenda or that it featured a character based on DAP lawmaker Lim Kit Siang who was portrayed in a negative light in scenes depicting the May 13, 1969 race riots, as suggested by some Umno blogs to the chagrin of Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders.
Earlier this year, an administrator of film-makers Pesona Pictures’ Facebook fan page had posted a photograph of Lim being “manhandled”, with a caption asserting it was taken after the opposition leader allegedly urinated on the flagpole in the then-Selangor mentri besar’s residential compound in Kuala Lumpur before the May 13, 1969 riots.
The picture was removed last month, after personal attacks and threats were allegedly made against the cast and crew of “Tanda Putera”.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Deceit on the 'Islamic state'

  • KJ John
  • 11:31AM Oct 30, 2012
Marina Mahathir wrote in a recent column that for any candidate seeking to be voted in this general election, the following are good and civil traits:

1. Be nice, be gracious, be polite - rudeness makes you look ugly.

2. If you disagree with someone, fine. But disagree courteously and intelligently, and do not just bad-mouth them.

3. If you do not think that someone is right, give your reasons why.

4. At least pretend that your audience is smart, and live up to them.

5. If you really think violence is the answer, we will find you a ticket to Syria, where you can indulge in all that you want to.

6. If you really think you are a defender of Islam, we will get you a ticket to trail the Republicans on their election campaign. We will even get you a spot on Rush Limbaugh’s show, where you can do your defending thing.

7. Do suddenly stop kissing babies and hugging old people. Seriously, we are not buying it.

8. Leave your expensive watch at home if you are going to sympathise with how people are coping with their monthly expenses. Unless you are going to donate the cost of the watch to some worthwhile cause.

9. Lower your volume. Shouting something stupid does not make it smarter.

10. Tell us what your principles in life are, and how you aim to stick to them.

My only addition is that no serving member of parliament should lie publicly. It is worse if one is a member of the cabinet. And because of such lies, I would argue that we need a ‘truth-o-meter’ which the CNN uses to validate claims by US presidential candidates.

NONEI am boiling mad because Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz (right), the so-called minister responsible for parliamentary and legal matters, was quoted by theSun as saying: “None of the nation’s past prime minister (have) ever declared Malaysia a secular state ...  the only sitting prime minister who (has) made a statement on the issue was ... (Dr) Mahathir Mohamad, who declared that Malaysia is an Islamic state.”

Since we do not have the privilege of a truth-o-meter service in Malaysia, allow me to assume that role since my column is also called ‘Truth Matters’.

The ‘Islamic state’ lie

I was first educated on the Islamic state issue when the Muslim Professionals Association hosted a public talk on ‘Who needs an Islamic state?’.

They had a guest speaker from the UK, obviously well versed on the political dialogue on the Islamic state issue and who argued that in modern civil society, no one really needs an Islamic state. It has never really existed, other than in the minds of idealists and proponents.

While I support all kinds of idealists, there must be enough realism when we translate ideals into ideas, with all the political implications and ramifications considered. I have already written a number of columns on this issue.

And together with the Islamic Renaissance Front, OHMSI will co-host a dialogue on this issue, especially to educate Christian voters. Those interested may register to attend. The venue can welcome up to 2,000 participants.

Nazri is no young and upcoming politician. He is a moderate in Umno and a firm supporter of the party leadership, but I cannot excuse his gaffe - because he is a minister, a lawyer and, worst of all, the minister assigned responsibility for Parliament.

Therefore, I conclude he is merely being an idiocrat; like many others in Umno. Basically, an idiocrat reinterprets the truths of law, by refusing to submit to the original context of historical evidence, and instead promotes a truth by law; by the sheer force of interpretive privilege of authority.

That shift in the presumption of ‘truth interpretations’ is reinforced by sheer authority power and the execution of interpretation. Then, these promoters seek enforcement agency compliance of all such interpretive bias of truths.

Two examples will make my anti-thesis. First, when Mahathir was PM, he was smart enough never to use the words ‘the Islamic state’ because all his speech-writers knew the full implications of this idealistic concept in the history of Islamic dialogue.

mahathir pak lah angry 190508Recently through he did, at least as reported by mainstream newspapers, the same ones which refused to publish anything he said when he was opposed to Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s leadership of the government.

So, is Mahathir really serious, especially when he is speaking off the cuff and appears to agree with ‘the two Alis’ who have lost much credibility?

Second, does not the so-called minister of parliament know about the Supreme Court decision in the case referred to by Karpal Singh in the Malaysiakini report: “A five-man bench of the Supreme Court (equivalent of the present Federal Court which replaced the Privy Council) presided by then head of the judiciary Salleh Abbas in 1988 in Che Omar bin Che Soh vs Public Prosecutor, clearly stated the law in the country was secular.

“That being the position declared by (the) high authority, it must follow inevitably that the country was a secular state and not an Islamic state, as a country having secular laws could not be an Islamic state.”

My own argument is that the framers of the constitution were very smart people and even included a Islamic judge from Pakistan but they chose to avoid the two concepts of secular and sacred.

Did they not know what they were doing, or do we assume that we are smarter than them?

KJ JOHN is part of a community of thinkers and actors who want to see truth and reconciliation in the broken world of ours. His NGO for this work is the Malaysian Institute of Development and Asian Studies or MiDAS@universities.

Local council says BN government gave nod to Batu Caves condo

UPDATED @ 04:37:43 PM 30-10-2012
October 30, 2012
Zainal Abidin gestures when speaking on the Batu Caves condominium 
project on October 30, 2012. — Picture by Choo Choy May
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 30 — A controversial condominium project in Batu Caves that has sparked protests from the Hindu community was not approved by the Pakatan Rakyat government, the local council said today.
 This comes after MIC lawmaker P. Kamalanathan denied yesterday that he was with the Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) in 2007, when the Dolomite Park Avenue project was approved.

In a press conference after a MPS meeting today, president Datuk Zainal Abidin Aala said that the “Planning Approval” given on November 30, 2007 was key to every construction awarded by the council.

“This project involves two phases, both of them awarded in 2007, and the completed construction of shoplots was the first phase. The second phase is the construction of the condo units,” he explained.

Zainal Abidin also revealed that the project by Dolomite Properties Sdn Bhd was approved by the Mineral and Geoscience Department during BN’s rule of Selangor despite disapproval from Department of Environment in its initial report.

The councilman plans to solve the issue by bringing it up to the State Planning Council (SPC) which will proceed accordingly.

Meanwhile, Selangor has ordered a temporary halt to the construction of the 29-storey condominium pending the findings of an independent state-level task force to be set up tomorrow, Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said today.

He, however, offered the state’s assurance that the matter would be resolved as soon as possible, admitting that the stop-work order would cost the developers financial losses.

The Bandar Tun Razak MP said members of the proposed independent task force will be selected during the Selangor state executive council meeting tomorrow.

MIC and Gerakan have been leading protests against the 29-storey condominium development that they say was approved by the current Pakatan Rakyat (PR) government, a stone’s throw from the limestone cave that houses the popular Sri Subramaniar Temple and the venue of Malaysia’s largest gathering to celebrate Thaipusam, a Hindu festival.

In response, Selangor executive councillor Ronnie Liu revealed over the weekend that the project was given a “planning approval” in 2007 when the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition was still governing Selangor, the country’s wealthiest state.

The Dolomite Park Avenue condominium project is a sensitive issue as Batu Caves is the religious focal point of Hindu Indians, who form the majority of the 1.7 million Indians and are a key voting group in many urban seats in Selangor.

On Friday, about 300 Hindu and non-governmental activists joined a “Save Batu Caves” rally in the Batu Caves temple complex to protest against the condominium construction, saying it was an environmental risk that would jeopardise the temple grounds but did not furnish proof to substantiate their allegations.

Former MPS councillor Senator A. Kohillan Pillay had claimed on Friday that the current PR government, which gained control of Selangor after it defeated BN in the 2008 general election, was behind the approval of Dolomite’s plans to develop the land.

The Gerakan politician admitted he had been aware of the project since 2007 but stressed that MPS had only given approval for a commercial development proposal on “Lot 622”.

S'gor MB and deputy minister butt heads over Langat 2

  • Hazlan Zakaria
  • 5:52PM Oct 30, 2012
Selangor Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim (PKR-Bandar Tun Razak) today threw down the gauntlet to the Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry for a data-duel, to see who has more facts on their side in their ongoing dispute over the proposed Langat 2 water treatment plant.

"I show my data, they show their data... If I can prove that membrane technology is (a better solution), will the government agree?

khalid ibrahim selangor water“Will the minister agree to defer from pursuing the (Langat 2) project?" asked Khalid in a supplementary question during Question Time in the Dewan Rakyat today.

Khalid (left) elaborated that he had earlier written a letter calling for such a match-up but has yet to receive any response.

His question came following Deputy Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Noriah Kasnon's answer to the main question from Khairy Jamaluddin (BN-Rembau) on the status of the project, which she said is being impeded by the withholding of a development order from the state.

In her answer, Noriah had lamented that the people of Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya will ultimately pay the price of Khalid's refusal to cooperate, when water runs out in the state come 2013.

In their resulting exchange, the MB, however, maintained that fitting existing 10 selected water treatment plants out of the 27 in the state with membrane technology to increase water yields will cost less than the "high cost" of the Langat 2 plant, insisting that it is his duty to protect public interest and look for the most cost-effective solution.

S’gor playing ‘footsie’ with the issue

In response, Noriah was adamant that the Langat 2 plant is the best answer to the state's impending water woes and is the result of a long-term government study which had already discounted membrane technology as a viable option.

NONE"YB (Khalid) can say we are stupid, if we say you are stupid, you cannot except, we have done research since the 90s. All information points to our decision that the most economical and viable (option) is to transfer water from Pahang to Selangor."

She accused Khalid's administration of playing footsie with the issue, saying that by agreeing to cooperate with the government in the upgrading works on the Selangor water supply infrastructure, the state is indirectly admitting that a water shortage is coming.

Noriah (above) also discounted Khalid's much-touted membrane technology plans, saying that experts consulted by her ministry found the technology to be way more expensive then the Langat 2 project and is not viable in the long term as the real concern would not be processing capability, but where to get more raw water from the state's allegedly dwindling water supply.

Despite this, the PKR leader maintained that membrane technology remained one of other more viable alternatives to the plant.

Khalid was also heckled by Khairy and other BN MPs over his "recalcitrance" over the matter, although the MB defended his "stubbornness" as being for the good of the rakyat and to protect their interests, unlike "Umno's stubbornness" which he claimed is about stealing the rakyat's money.

Later, Khalid reiterated that the Selangor government is willing to accept the Langat 2 project if the federal government would agree to a water restructuring exercise.

"I already have the offer paper ready," he told a press conference at the Parliament lobby later.
He added that he had requested to meet with Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin over the matter two weeks ago but has yet to receive a reply.

"But considering the Hari Raya holiday, we will send another letter soon but we hope to get this done by Nov 19 before the state legislative assembly sitting," he said.

Putrajaya snubs Selangor’s water plans, insists Langat 2 best option

October 30, 2012
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 30 — Putrajaya today refused again to back down from its plan to construct the multibillion ringgit Langat 2 treatment plant in Selangor, declaring in Parliament that it was the best option to prevent what it says will be an impending water shortage in the country’s richest state.

Deputy Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Noriah Kasnon told the Dewan Rakyat that the Selangor government’s proposed alternative to use the “membrane technology” at existing water plants may only boost production in the short term but may not meet the state’s long-term projection.

“Additionally, if there is need to upgrade the existing plant in order to use this membrane technology, I suspect the cost would be high,” she said when replying to Khairy Jamaluddin (BN-Rembau) during Question Time.

The Sungai Besar MP later dismissed remarks from Selangor Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim (picture) who stood later to interject and challenge the federal government to accept the state’s proposal if he could prove that it is cheaper than the estimated RM3 billion Langat 2 treatment plant.

Without replying the Bandar Tun Razak MP, the deputy minister told the House that the federal government has been studying all options on how to alleviate a possible water crisis in Selangor since the 1990s.

“YB, you can say we are not smart, but if we say you are not smart, you can’t accept it.

“We started our research since the late 1990s and we have calculated all possibilities.

“The federal government has already made a decision that the most economic and viable option is by transferring water from Pahang to Selangor,” she said.

The controversial Langat 2 plant, which the Selangor Pakatan Rakyat (PR) have been determined to reject, will treat water brought in from Pahang and is expected to produce some 1.3 million litres of water daily.

But when rebutting Noriah, Khalid pointed out to the Dewan Rakyat that there was no need for the Langat 2 plant as the state’s current production of treated water is already at five million litres a day.

He explained that the state also records non-revenue water (NRW) wastage of 1.5 million daily, which far surpasses the 1.3 million litres to be produced by Langat 2.

“In my research, the cost of upgrading our 10 of 27 treatment plants only comes up to RM800 million... compared to the RM3 billion for Langat 2,” he said

Rafizi: Come clean on logging concession or face expose

  • Nigel Aw
  • 3:25PM Oct 30, 2012
PKR director of strategy Rafizi Ramli today issued an ultimatum to Negri Sembilan Menteri Besar Mohamad Hasan to come clean on the state’s logging concessions or face an expose of Umno-linked companies responsible for rapidly consuming the state’s forest reserves.

“The rakyat deserves to know who got these logging concessions, how much revenue the government is getting and the ownership status of the lands,” he told a press conference at the Parliament lobby this morning.

azlanThis, Rafizi said, follows Mohamad’s unsatisfactory response to the former’s expose that the state government had illegally allowed Umno-linked companies to log in the Padang Selatan forest reserve.

While Mohamad had said that 2,400 hectares of forest reserve had been replaced to compensate for the logging, Rafizi pointed out that the menteri besar had completed ignored addressing the illegality of the move.

“Mohamad had failed to explain the exco’s decision to nullify the permanent forest reserve status of the Padang Selatan forest reserve which is illegal under the Town and Country Planning Act 1976,” he said.

 The Jeram Padang Selatan forest reserve area is marked as an environmentally sensitive area (ESA), Class 1, which means no development is allowed.