Tuesday 31 May 2011

Ustaz video clip attacks Chinese, Indians

PETALING JAYA: Even before the dust has settled over the controversial “Christian plot”, a new video clip has surfaced attacking the Chinese and Indians for “questioning Malay rights”.

The video clip features a religious teacher urging Muslims not to betray their own religion by giving in to the Chinese and Indians, who he claimed are beginning to question Islamic and Malay rights.

The clip was uploaded to video-sharing site YouTube on Saturday.

It comes at a time when the country is still seething over the controversial Utusan Malaysia’s report of a “Christian plot” to overthrow Islam as the official religion.

“Today, their races (Chinese and Indians) are questioning ketuanan Melayu (Malay supremacy)… that’s rubbish… we are the ones who have given them the space to speak. The Malays have been very generous with them. We share the country with them. Give them land. Give them positions. They are not satisfied still?” said Ustaz Mohammad Kazim Elias Al Hafiz in the video titled “Ustaz Kazim Elias kutuk Cina India? (Ustaz Kazim Elias criticises Chinese and Indians?)

“Why is it like this? The answer is simple. Because there are Malays who support them. If they ruled us, they wouldn’t get what we’re giving them now,” said Mohammad Kazim, who is the president of Pusat Pendidiakan Al Barakah, a private learning centre based in Perak.

He urged his audience, believed to be in a mosque, to “return to Islam”, saying that “if we become the minority religion, they won’t build mosques for us”.

‘Temples everywhere’

He said that in foreign countries, religions other than the country’s official religion do not enjoy as much freedom as in Malaysia.

“Look at the temples: the Chinese here are so few but temples everywhere. The Hindu temples are all over the roads. Even then they are not thankful, still need to dispute over it,” he said.

“Look at the Hindus in Malaysia, which Hindus have been stopped from building a temple? Everywhere they build their temples. We have tolerated… them. Don’t let it reach a point where we fight. Don’t reach a point where they step on our heads,” he said.

Mohammad Kazim said that non-Malays were questioning Malay supremacy because they have not tasted how it felt to be slaves.

“You look at the Chinese people: what do they do at night? They loiter around the shops, ignorantly drink alcohol and ignorantly go to the discos,” he said.

On the other hand, he cited the conditions of the navy men who lived in deplorable conditions in warships, saying “all of them are Malays and (followers of) Islam”.

“There are also Malay soldiers who sleep in the forest and guard the seas. Now who actually is the master and who the slave?” he said.

Mohammad Kazim also questioned whether the non-Malays were willing to be soldiers and police.

“Look at the police: how many percentage of them are Chinese? Those who patrol at night, take the risk of being shot, killed, not sleeping at night. Who are they? Are they not Malays? What do the taukeh (bosses), the Chinese, do? Who are the people in the fire department, the people who wash the toilets and takes the trash?”

Pua: Tariff hike will backfire on government

Stephanie Sta Maria | May 31, 2011

Tony Pua slams the government for punishing the people instead of tackling the lopsidede PPAs.
PETALING JAYA: Petaling Jaya Utara MP, Tony Pua, has predicted that the government’s decision to raise electricity tariff will backfire by fuelling further distortions in the market.

Starting tomorrow, electricity prices in Peninsular Malaysia will increase by an average of 7.12% in a government move to reduce subsidies.

Petronas’ sale of natural gas to electricity companies would rise to RM13.70 per Million Metric British Thermal unit (mmBtu ) from RM10.70, and increase by RM3 every six months until 2015.

In a statement today, Pua pointed out that the tariff hike was not matched by a corresponding restructuring of the power industry.

“The government is using the excuse of the need to reduce subsidy bills as the basis for the tariff hike in order to reduce the ‘misallocation of resources’,” said the DAP publicity chief.

“But it has ignored the fact that the source of the ‘misallocation of resources’ is the lucrative Independent Power Producers (IPPs) power purchasing agreements (PPA) with Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB).”
According to Pua, Malaysia and Thailand share similar power industry structures with natural gas making up about 70% of the fuel-mix for electricity generation.

Unfair PPAs

Thailand’s natural gas prices are more than double that of Malaysia’s but its commercial electricity tariff is only 0.4% higher at at RM38.01kWH compared with Malaysia’s 37.85 mmBtu.

“Electricity rates for our commercial sector will now be higher than Thailand’s despite natural gas prices for the sector in Malaysia still being 68.6% cheaper,” Pua said. “Using Thailand as a benchmark, our electricity prices should be 16.9% cheaper based on existing subsidy rates.”

“Our problem isn’t with electricity prices but with the power producing sector which charges high prices despite the lower cost of production. And the key reason for that is the unfair PPAs which have resulted in ridiculously high levels of electricity reserve margins.”

“According to TNB, our reserve margin was 54.6% in 2008 and 52.6% in 2010. This is double that of Thailand and Java, Indonesia. TNB is forced to purchase electricity that it does not need. This translates to inflated costs for TNB and inflated profits for the IPPs.”

Pua described the raised electricity tariff as an attempt by the government to right a “wrong” with another “wrong” which would inadvertently deal a huge blow to the country’s export industries.

The Najib administration has assured that the tariff hike will not affect 75% of Malaysians who use less than 300kWh or pay a monthly rate of about RM77.

But Pua predicted that industrial and commercial consumers would suffer an average increase of 8.35% in power bills which would fuel inflation and reduce the country’s competitiveness.

“The only and proper way to correct the distortions in our power sector is to restructure the lobsided PPAs,” Pua said. “By doing so it can reduce its subsidies, correct inefficiencies in the power sector and maintain existing electricity rates.”

The fact that it chooses to punish consumers and industries without laying a finger on the IPPs proves that it has no political will to implement the necessary economic reforms,” he said.

Early polls unlikely as PM tackles subsidy cuts

Malaysia's increase in power tariffs and the possibility of a similar move on fuel as global oil prices surge make any chance of an early general election extremely slim as Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak will have to first tackle a public backlash.

The government yesterday announced a rise in electricity prices by an average of 7.1 percent as the country's subsidy bill doubled to nearly $6.9 billion this year, but, as yet, there is no move to tinker with fuel subsidies which are much more sensitive but have a bigger impact on the fiscal deficit.

NONEAnalysts, however, said a fuel price increase was on the cards.

"The electricity tariff hike is a political trial balloon for Najib to gauge public unhappiness before he decides on a fuel price hike," said Bridget Welsh (left), a Malaysia specialist at Singapore Management University.

Najib in a recent speech likened Malaysia's fuel subsidies to opium but he has been wary of upsetting voters with steep fuel price increases as he tries to rebuild support for his ruling coalition which was hit by record losses in the last general election in 2008.

The next general election is not due until mid-2013 but many observers were expecting Najib to call for one as early as late this year on the back of strong gross domestic product (GDP) growth which hit a decade-high of 7.2 percent in 2010.

But HwangDBS and JP Morgan said in research notes that timetable is now unlikely.

"Monday's announcement shows that the government is willing to make some politically unpopular but economically positive moves in the near term, which probably means elections will be postponed until 2012," HwangDBS said.

Opposition to gather strength

A delay in the elections gives more space to the opposition to gather strength. The opposition is not likely to win the next election but it could chip away at the ruling party's margin of victory, making reform more difficult.

NONENajib is seeking a strong election win to consolidate his own position within the ruling coalition, and a delay puts that off.

But delaying rationalising subsidies could imperil government finances and further disillusion investors already impatient with the slow pace of reform.

Since taking office in 2009, Najib has pledged to cut subsidies and widen the tax base to trim a fiscal deficit which hit a 20-year high of 7 percent of GDP in 2009.

The deficit was at 5.6 percent in 2010 and is officially targeted to be 5.4 percent this year, which analysts say will be easily met target if prices for fuel and electricity are raised, even incrementally.

The government estimates that the electricity tariff increase will raise inflation by 0.27 percentage point. That signals average inflation through 2011 will be within the government's 2.5-3.5 percent target, with annual inflation in April coming in at 3.2 percent.

A US6 cents increase in the price of the popularly used RON95 gasoline blend which is now priced at US63 cents a litre, on the other hand, will increase inflation by an additional 0.5 percentage point, said Kit Wei Zheng, an economist with Citigroup.

"From a fiscal perspective, if the government chooses to do nothing other than raise electricity tariffs, then it would just be a hedge and a poor substitute to a fuel price hike," said Kit.

Risky for the government

Analysts say that while cutting subsidies further ahead of the general election is risky for the government, it could try to offset anger by increasing spending next year on social safety net programmes for the poor.

Analysts say it will be a choice that the government will have to make soon.

NONEA deputy minister was quoted on Thursday last week saying the government would review fuel prices if the price of oil hit $110-$120 per barrel. Crude oil was trading 0.5 percent higher at $101.05 per barrel as of 0414 GMT.

The opposition, led by former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahim, has promised to lower fuel prices if it is voted into power.

The opposition scored historic wins in the last general election, in 2008, winning five of the country's 13 states and denying the ruling coalition a two-thirds control of parliament.

But the opposition coalition has since been marred by infighting, with Anwar tied up in court on a charge of sodomising a male aide in a case which he says is a political conspiracy.

While Najib has seen support from the country's majority ethnic Malays rise since he took power, his coalition suffered a
setback in elections in April in the state of Sarawak, where it won a majority but got the fewest number of seats in 24 years.

That would make a decision to raise the fuel price more difficult.

"With elections at least six months away or longer, the effect of inflation could yet shift the political terrain away
from him," said Welsh.

Video alone can't prove vote-buying claims'

Any video recording purported to show voters receiving money is not enough evidence to prove in court that votes had been bought.

This is according to an independent body that reviews cases investigated but closed by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

hadenan abdul jalil 310511"Anyone can act in a video. We can't only rely on (such recordings) because anybody can act," MACC operations review panel chairperson Hadenan Abdul Jalil told a press conference today in Kuala Lumpur.

Hadenan, a former auditor-general, said it would be unfair to charge anyone just based on allegations and without strong evidence.

"At the end of the day, a charge must (be backed with) strong evidence and (must be) in line with the law. We practise the principle of equality (to both the accused and accuser)."

Hadenan was responding to allegations that vote-buying has been rampant during by-elections in the past, as well as during the Sarawak election last month.

NONEAn election watchdog has revealed 'video and photographic evidence' linked to the Tamin state seat in Sarawak. However, the winning candidate - BN's Joseph Mauh Ikeh - countered that the cash payments were meant as 'travel allowances' for voters.

Hadenan said that many cases related to apparent vote-buying could not be acted upon because there were no witnesses to substantiate the claims, or the witnesses had withdrawn their statements.

Asked if loopholes in the law should be closed to prevent vote-buying, he said the issue of regulating political funding should be discussed among the "political masters".

The press conference was held following the panel's quarterly meeting to review MACC's decisions in cases it has closed.

"(We were told) that all investigations had been conducted in a transparent and professional way. All the (initial) decisions were studied thoroughly before the final decisions were made," he said.

Four politicians nabbed in 2010

The MACC operations review panel, made up of seven professionals, also discussed its own 2010 annual report.

According to the report, the MACC had received a total of 5,646 tip-offs on elements of alleged corruption in 2010.

azlanIt investigated 1,220 or 21.6 percent of these, with 900 cases being concluded within a year.

This led to 944 arrests involving 545 members of public, 293 civil servants, 102 private employees and four politicians.

Between Jan 1 and May 30 this year, the MACC made 131 arrests, with 53 individuals being taken to court.

On the issue of anonymous complaints, Hadenan said the MACC has wasted much of its resources and time on matters that were not supported by evidence.

The anti-graft body received 8,149 anonymous complaints from 2009-2010 and opened 1,758 files. While 80-100 of its officers were involved in checking on the complaints, they only managed to take one case to court.

"Therefore the panel has advised the MACC to focus only on anonymous complaints that have substantive evidence. It should not entertain anonymous letters which only contain one page," Hadenan added.

Give up unfair contracts, Nurul Izzah tells IPPs

 By Yow Hong Chieh

KUALA LUMPUR, May 31 — Independent power producers (IPPs) should give up their contracts which allow them to profit “obscenely” at the expense of the people, PKR vice president Nurul Izzah Anwar has said.

While stressing that the party believed strongly in the sanctity of contract, she said the power purchasing agreements (PPAs) were “unconscionable” as they not only burdened the people but also discouraged competition, efficiency and innovation.

“We have no quarrel with IPPs on making a decent profit, but we do not subscribe to the idea that they are entitled to make super and obscene profits at the expense of the rakyat and nation,” she said in a statement today.

Nurul Izzah (picture) pointed out that IPPs were only able to make “mountains of super profits” through lopsided agreements at the expense of Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) and Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas), the cost of which was now being passed directly to the public via the latest electricity tariff hike.

She said it was therefore necessary to fully understand the contracts’ terms and conditions to see if there were “alternative legal routes” that could be used to terminate the PPAs without impacting market sentiment.
The Lembah Pantai MP slammed the Najib administration for being so “overly concerned” about honouring the contracts that it had forgotten the greater obligation it had to govern with transparency, responsibility and accountability.

“Is this great tendency to airbrush the issue and take the side of IPPs driven by something more sinister? Perhaps to cover unconscionable dealings and possible corrupt practices?” she said.

The Najib administration announced yesterday it will raise electricity prices by an average of 7.1 per cent from June 1.

The price charged by Petronas to power companies for the natural gas will rise to RM13.70 per mmBtu from RM10.70, and go up by RM3.00 every month until December 2015, after which market rates apply.