Thursday 2 June 2011

Khairy: IPP contracts of the 90s 'lopsided'

Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar has slammed the highly secretive legal contracts with independent power producers (IPPs), calling them 'lopsided' and 'unfair'.

When participating in a Yahoo! Malaysia chat session this morning, a participant had asked the Rembau MP for his take on the IPPs, and whether there was a need for them.

NONE“Yes, we do because (national power supplier) Tenaga Nasional Berhad cannot be the sole generator but we need a better system to buy power from the IPPs.

“Look at transparent auction systems for power in the future, not lopsided Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) like those signed early on in the 90s. Those were unfair to the government and ultimately the people,” Khairy (right) said.

A PPA is a is a legal contract between an electricity generator and a power purchaser. In this case, the PPA is often signed between the IPPs and TNB.

It is likely that the PPA would detail rates and price of fuel purchased by Petronas, the national oil and gas company.

However, Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Peter Chin previously said that the federal government cannot declassify the PPAs as it was a legal contract between two private entities.

azlanCritics, in particular opposition parties, have been pressuring for the government to disclose the PPA to justify its refusal to restructure the contracts.

They argue that IPPs stand to make guaranteed profits from this venture and yet they are entitled to gas subsidies by tax payers.

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng claims that the fuel subsidies enjoyed by IPPs and TNB are as high as RM19 billion and formed the bulk of subsidies dished out by the government.

But previously, Chin denied this and claimed that the RM19 billion is profit forgone by Petronas by selling at below market price to IPPs and TNB.

Of Perkasa, Anwar and his father-in-law

Despite the discussion about the IPPs, the most popular topic on the one-and-a-half hour chat session still remained Khairy's views on the current political climate of the country and his future plans in Umno.

In fact, Khairy, who appeared to be a more moderate Umno leader in recent times, was asked head-on if his 'rhetoric' was merely to gain votes from the moderate Malays.

“I think I have been consistent. Malay community issues are still important but I have always maintained that the national interest comes first. I believe in a politics for all Malaysians, not one that is divisive,” he said.

He was also asked for his views on right-wing Malay rights NGO Perkasa, something which he has voiced out against consistently in the past.

azlanCalling himself the voice of the young fence-sitters, he did not seem to be too worried about issues concerning Perkasa behind the facade of the computer screen when chatting from his office in Bukit Damansara.

He was also forced by several chat participants to confront the perception that he is losing support from his own movement or that the NGOs have overtaken the Umno Youth in championing Malay causes.

“This is not how I want to position Umno/BN Youth in this day and age. I want to move beyond racial rhetoric. Malay issues are important but not in the way conveyed by the groups you've mentioned.

“I want to safeguard Malaysia and make politics more progressive. I believe the majority of young people are with my approach and not with the past dreams of old-timers...

“I bring the voice of the younger generation, especially those who are not party members and are fence-sitters. This is the new reality. The old-timers should understand that times have changed. This is new politics,” he said.

Unable to dodge the 'father-in-law' topic, Khairy was also asked about the perception that he had used his relationship with his father-in-law and former prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to gain political leverage.

“I won the Umno Youth chief's post when Pak Lah had announced his retirement. There were no advantages of any sort and in fact, it was seen as a handicap. Three-cornered fight and a great contest. I will continue to fight despite the comments and brickbats,” he said.

And continue, he just might, dropping hints that he may seek re-election for his party post when fielding a question on the age limit for the Umno Youth chief.

“Umno Youth leader age is limitless. Rest of Umno Youth must be under 40. I would like to introduce age limit to youth chief post but then people will say that I am protecting my position from those over 40.

“So I will suggest it when I am about to leave Umno Youth (one more term, if I win),” he said.

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