Sunday, January 22, 2017

The world at a T-junction


Jan 20, 2017, marked the inauguration of the 45th President of the United States, Donald J Trump. Next week, the Lunar Year of the Monkey ends, ushering in the Year of the Rooster. This is where monkey business ends and the chickens come home to roost.

Trump’s election marks a watershed between the old liberal order and a new populist phase that is clearly a rejection of the old order. Former German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer defined this change as “Goodbye to the West” – a concept that the US was committed to the defence of its allies, mostly Western Europe, Australia and Japan.

Trump has turned the old establishment on its head. Policy is not made by consensus, but by tweets. World thought leader Mohamed El-Erian, whom I had the great fortune to moderate at his keynote address to the Asian Financial Forum in Hong Kong earlier this week, argued that the world is at a T-junction.

The old order has come to a dead-end. It is not even at the cross-roads, where you have the option of moving forward. At a T-junction, you either move right or move left. Volatility and the range of possibilities have increased, because no one knows which policy and which rule will change with the next tweet.

There is, of course, no difficulty in picking where Trump will move. Indeed, anyone who said Trump is unpredictable is wrong – he is very predictable.

He will do whatever is in his best interest, saying that it is in America’s interest. He will move right, because the populist sentiment has rejected the old leftist liberal order. Our only concern is – how far right will he go? Based upon the inclinations of his appointees so far, it looks pretty far right.

Trump’s election marks a very important juncture in Pax Americana. Two Democratic presidents marked the rise of the present American Exceptionalism – Franklin D Roosevelt (1933-1945) and John F Kennedy (1961-1963). The first brought in the New Deal to get America out of the Great Recession and then won the Second World War, confirming the new American order. The second inaugurated a more inclusive America, ushering global idealism of the American dream, providing aid, trade and culturally, an Age of Camelot.

New deal

Trump’s ascension signals the end of the rule-based era for the public good, with a new era of clear and present self-interest, changing allies and allegiances by the tweet. Allies and foes alike do not know how to react to this new Art of the Deal.

Crossing the river by feeling the stones is possible, when there are still some stones. But crossing the swamp where waters are murky with crocodiles and leeches will be much more complicated.

I was forced to dust off my copy of German historian Oscar Spengler’s Decline of the West, written between 1911 and 1922, to get a sense of how we should think about this era from a long-term historical perspective. Vastly simplifying his magnum opus, Spengler’s thesis is that when parlimentarian politics fail, history tends to replace disorder with great men like Julius Caesar or Napoleon.

Of course, one has to recognise that troubled times do not always get great statesmen, but may get little despots and decadent failures like Caligula or Nero, who eventually bankrupted Rome.

A significant minority of Americans voted for Trump because he argued that he could make America great again. But the irony is not that America is weak, but that America is strong and on the verge of achieving the strongest recovery among the advanced economies.

The perceived weakness comes from the insecurity of a significant majority of the working class that has become disadvantaged, not by globalisation, but by the benign neglect of the Washington/Wall Street elite who favoured themselves at the expense of the working class.

Globalisation has not failed. It is the high priests of globalisation trying to deflect the populist anger against anyone but themselves that created Trump. The same high priests are joining the Trump camp, cheering the markets for the greater suckers.

What are Asians going to do in this Trumpian Reality Show?

First, we need to distinguish the signal from the noise.

All the breast-beating at the Davos World Economic Forum this week was about how the caviar-champagne-forecasters got it all wrong. They were simply too self-congratulatory, self-referential and self-satisfied. They did not do the reality checks of simply looking at what was truly happening – the anger of the masses.

Second, despite the fact that the dollar is strong and will remain strong if Trump gets his economic policies right, the US is still funded by global savings – mostly from Asia. Asia remains the world’s largest and fastest growing region with the highest savings. What we need to do is to channel that savings to Asian markets, even as the US and European banks retreat home.

Third, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was always an empty promise because going forward, technology and moving manufacturing jobs back to the US will not create greater exports for US trading partners.

The Asian global supply chain is changing very fast from all points-to-one market (US) to point-to-point; South-to-South, because with more than half of world population and a growing middle class, the potential for global trade, investment and financial expansion is still in trade between India, China, Indonesia and all the emerging markets of the world.

If the US turns inward under Trump, then Asians need to heed Franklin Roosevelt’s wake-up call at his inauguration, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”.

Under Trump, we have much to fear, but remember, it’s “his dollar, but our savings”. The US Bureau of Economic Analysis data showed that the US had net foreign liabilities of US$7.8 trillion or 41.8% of GDP at the end of the third quarter 2016. In the Year of the Rooster, this is not chicken-feed.

As America moves to a new T-(for Trump) junction, the choice is not between left or right, but between a Great America or a small-minded America.

Time for Asians to think and act for themselves.

By Andrew Sheng

Tan Sri Andrew Sheng writes on global issues from an Asian perspective.


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Saturday, January 14, 2017

Fighting corruption a decade later; Wars on graft widens

“Power doesn't corrupt people, people corrupt power.” William Gaddis

THE beginning of the year is as good a time as any to reflect upon the direction the country is heading towards.

Ten years ago, Malaysians were just beginning to appreciate the opening up of public space. Then prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, or more familiarly known as Pak Lah, had taken over in 2003, and then won a landslide victory for the ruling Barisan Nasional in 2004, riding on a wave of public confidence in his commitment to reforming a government that had lost a whopping 14 parliamentary seats in the previous 1999 general election.

What was most distinct about his administration was his promise to clamp down on corruption and therefore empowering the anti-corruption agencies. Related to this was the general change in the sociopolitical air – civil society felt freer and more able to organise public seminars related to various issues previously deemed sensitive.

More significantly, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) was established in 2004, an upgraded version of the previously known Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA), with the idea of being a regional hub for anti-corruption capacity and capability building to “fight corruption by promoting best practices in investigation, monitoring and enforcement …”

Modelled after Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC), it was meant to be a more robust agency now given greater teeth to fight graft in the country.

The MACC did go through significant challenges, chief of which was the incident in 2006 during which political aide Teoh Beng Hock was found to have fallen to his death at the MACC Selangor headquarters in Shah Alam. Embroiled in controversy, the investigations and court cases eventually concluded that it was, in fact, a homicide that took place. Although the police did not eventually find the perpetrator, the MACC as an institution did take measures to improve itself after admitting there were flaws in its system.

One of the reform measures was to set up five independent committees, namely the Anti-Corruption Advisory Board, the Special Committee on Corruption, the Complaints Committee, the Operations Evaluation Panel, and the Consultation and Corruption Prevention Panel. These committees would be tasked to provide oversight to the operations and investigation processes of the MACC, and many individuals of good public standing were appointed to fill these positions subsequently, although these mechanisms did not sufficiently boost public confidence.

Over the last year, the MACC has been in the spotlight for numerous reasons, having investigated 1MDB and other cases related to it, but then later raided by the police for reportedly having leaked documents.

Has the anti-corruption commission that was initially promised to be reformed and strengthened all those years ago instead been eroded and weakened?

The MACC in fact ought to be an independent institution given the resources to fight corruption. But the 2017 budget saw a laundry list of financial cuts, including in investigation and surveillance, law and prosecution, prevention, administrative and forensic services, as well as record and information management, and community education. How is it possible for the MACC to continue functioning with the same expectations but with a much lower budget?

One of the core reforms that some of us in civil society have called for in recent years is an independent MACC that reports to Parliament and has greater autonomy both financially and in hiring and firing its own staff.

The MACC currently reports to the Prime Minister’s Department, which surely is a source of potential conflict of interest. Having a truly independent MACC would allow it to truly exercise its duties in an unbiased fashion without fear or favour.

The new MACC Chief Commissioner, Datuk Dzulkifli Ahmad, recently announced that he wants to combat corruption and abuse of power, saying that “for those who are still intoxicated by bribery, please listen to this warning: stop the corruption and power abuse, and surrender yourself!” In the same speech, he also urged Malaysians to support the agency in its mission. The MACC’s recent action in the Sabah Water Department corruption case is a good sign that it is taking steps in that direction.

However, the MACC simply cannot carry out this task alone. The experiences over the last decade would surely have taught the administration some lessons: that apart from the government it serves, positive public perception is crucial to achieving its goals. Working with, instead of against, the community that it tries to educate is crucial if it wants to seriously fight corruption all round.

This is where independent civil society organisations can in fact come in to support the MACC in its efforts to fight corruption. Other expert bodies like accountants and lawyers can also support MACC’s work as many investigations involve technical and forensic accounting matters. However, the MACC must also demonstrate its willingness to have frank discussions and dialogue with civil society.

The MACC has seen tremendous transformations over the last decade and more, but fighting corruption seems to be even more challenging than ever. It is hoped that it is in these trying times partnerships and collaborations can be forged; all those in favour of fighting corruption – and this must be a priority this year – should surely come together.

- Tricia Yeoh letters@thesundaily.com

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Wars on graft widens


Four officers nabbed for pocketing fees after altering passport applications


The tentacles in the war against graft are spreading wide. Four Immigration officers who listed normal people as disabled, pocketing the RM200 application fee in the process, have been nabbed; a senior official from the Malacca Historic City Council is under probe; policemen who took bribes have been charged; and the Inland Revenue Board has also joined the fray, striking up a partnership with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission. PETALING JAYA: Four Selangor Immigration officers were entrusted to receive and process applications for international passports.

Nabbed: Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission officers escorting four Immigration officers out from the Shah Alam magistrate’s court after they were remanded for six days.
Having access to the applicant database, they did much more than their job scope.

The quartet would pocket the RM200 international passport application fee received over the counter by “converting” the paid applications to that submitted by OKU (disabled) persons, who are entitled to free passports.

The officers had been pocketing large sums this way since 2014, with about RM1mil siphoned off.

An internal audit exposed the ruse recently.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) raided the Selangor Immigration Department office in Shah Alam at 3.30pm on Monday and detained the four officers, two of them women.

The four suspects were brought to the Shah Alam magistrate’s court to be remanded for six days.

The investigation is under Section 18 of the MACC Act 2009 which involves submission of false claims with intention to deceive.

MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki confirmed the arrests, describing the case as “very serious and warranting a very thorough probe.”

“We do not rule out the possibility that such fraud may also be occurring in other Immigration offices all over the country.

“This is not an isolated case and must be addressed,” he said.

An MACC official said the suspects were believed to be involved in the submission of payment vouchers with falsified information.

“The record is altered to show that the applicant is an OKU when he or she is not,’’ the official added.

Immigration director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali said full cooperation had been extended to MACC, and had shared the outcome of its internal audit. - The Star

Four immigration officers held for allegedly pocketing RM1m for falsifying passports


PETALING JAYA: Four Immigration Department front-line officers who are believed to have siphoned as much as RM1 million from the department have been detained by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

The suspects, aged between 31 and 39, include two female officers. They were arrested at the Selangor Immigration Department at 3.30pm on Monday and have been remanded for six days beginning today.

MACC sources said the officers took advantage of a fee waiver for people with disabilities (OKU) by fraudulently classifying normal applicants as OKU and pocketing the RM200 fee on each transaction.

Investigators learnt the suspects have been involved in the racket since 2014 and were only recently exposed after the Immigration Department conducted an internal audit.

The audit team became suspicious when it found a high number of passports issued to OKUs, and initiated a probe.

So far, the status of at least 100 normal passport holders have been found falsely classified as those belonging to OKU, and this is believed to be just the tip of the iceberg, and that there were some 5,000 more cases.

MACC investigators are probing assets amassed by the detained officers and believe such activities may also be prevalent at other passport issuing immigration offices nationwide.

MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki said today that an indepth probe on the case is ongoing.

“This cannot be taken lightly as it has caused losses in government revenue. Moreover, it breaches the special privileges accorded to the disabled by the government,” he said.

MACC chief commissioner Datuk Dzulkifli Ahmad said the agency will use every law in existence to prosecute those involved in graft to make it clear that crime does not pay.

"Let me issue a warning ... we will not only pursue prosecution under the MACC Act, but also use the Anti-Money-Laundering Act and the Income Tax Act," Dzulkifli said in a speech at the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) today after witnessing the signing of a corruption-free pledge by IRB – the first government agency to do so after signing the Corporate Integrity Pledge in 2013.

“I urge you to stop immediately or face the consequences,” said Dzulkifli, adding that even if MACC cannot prosecute a corrupt individual, he or she would not be able to escape the IRB.

- Charles Ramendran and Lee Choon Fai Newsdesk@thesundaily.com

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Four policemen charged with corruption

(From top left) A combo picture of policemen Mohd Zulkifly Mat Nor, 28, Jeffry Abdullah, 35, Zainoor Ariffin Rosli, 24 and Muhammad Farid Nordin, 28 when they were brought to George Town Session Court by Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) to face corruption charges under Section 17 of the MACC Act.

GEORGE TOWN: Four policemen were charged in the Sessions Court here today with corruption.

Corporal Jefry Abdullah, 35, from the Narcotics Department of the Northeast district police headquarters pleaded not guilty before Sessions Court Judge Roslan Hamid.

He is accused of trying to obtain RM1,000 for himself from Nor Esmawati Baharom as inducement not to take action against the latter’s brother in-law, Norhamni Haron by swapping a positive urine sample during a urine test at the district police headquarters.

He was alleged to have committed the offense at the Narcotics Department office of the Northeast district police headquarters about 4.40pm on Mac 1 last year.

Jefry was charged under Section 17(a) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009 which carries a maximum 20-year prison sentence and fine not less than five times the bribe amount or RM10,000, whichever is higher.

The court fixed bail at RM8,000 with one surety.

In a separate charge, three policemen from the Datuk Keramat police station also claimed trial over a corruption charge.

Muhammad Farid Nordin, 28, Mohd Zulkifly Mat Nor, 28, and Zainoor Ariffin Rosli, 24, with another person still at large were charged with trying to obtain RM10,000 for themselves as an inducement not to take action against Norhamni Haron for possessing ganja.

They were alleged to have committed the offence at the Datuk Keramat police station on Mac 1, last year about 11.45am.

The trio were also charged under Section 17(a) of the MACC Act 2009.

MACC Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Ahmad Ghazali Mohd Nazri suggested bail of RM10,000 with one surety for each of the accused considering the seriousness of the case.

Roslan fixed bail at RM8,000 with one surety for each of them and set Feb 17 for mention.

V. Partiban represented all of the accused.

MACC DPP Amin Yaacub also appeared for the prosecution.

- Imran Hilmy newsdesk@thesundaily.com


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Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Tekun National, a financial services agency's ex-CEO charged with corruption

https://youtu.be/2AENwxAVtaA
Abdul Rahim escorted to the court room in Shah Alam

SHAH ALAM: Former Tekun Nasional managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Abdul Rahim Hassan was charged at the Sessions Court here with two counts of corruption.

He pleaded not guilty to the first charge of soliciting a bribe of RM36,000 via a text message from Abdul Muhsin Abdul Rahman between 8.30pm and 9pm on Jan 13, 2015, as an inducement to help speed up claims made by Pasadana Sdn Bhd, a registered debt collection company.

He also claimed trial to a second charge of accepting a bribe in the form of cash from Abdul Muhsin at about 9.30pm on Jan 15, the same year at Kelab Shah Alam Selangor in Seksyen 13 here.

Both offences were under Section 16(a)(A) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009.

The bribe is equivalent to 10% of the outstanding amount due to Tekun for November 2014.

It is learnt that the company was appointed by the accused to carry out debt collection from defaulters with over two years of outstanding dues.

Tekun Nasional is a financial services agency for micro and small entrepreneurs under the Agriculture & Agro-based Industry Ministry.

Clad in a dark green polo T-shirt and black pants, Abdul Rahim nodded after the charges were read to him by a court interpreter.

The MACC deputy public prosecutor Aida Adhha Abu Bakar suggested that bail be set at RM20,000 for each charge. She also asked that Abdul Rahim be ordered to surrender his passport to the court until the case is over.

Counsel Datuk Hasnal Redzua Merican, assisted by Muzzamir Merican, requested for a single bail sum.

Judge Asmadi Hussin then set bail at RM18,000 with one surety and ordered the accused to surrender his passport.

He also set Feb 8, for case management and set March 13 to 17, for trial.

On Sunday, a team of MACC officers detained the 62-year-old at his house in Bukit Bandaraya, Shah Alam, at 5.15pm.

He was first picked up in Kelab Shah Alam on Jan 15, 2015, after receiving the alleged bribes and was released after the remand order had lapsed.

The MACC only recently obtained consent to charge him.

It was not the first time Abdul Rahim was charged. In November 2015, he was slapped with two corruption charges linked to his family members.

It is learnt that the charges had been withdrawn by the prosecution.

Sources: By Allison Lai The Star/Asia News Network

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Tekun Nasional

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 USAHAWAN TEKUN ... SKIM PEMBIAYAAN TEKUN NASIONALTEMAN TEKUNAR-RAHNU TEKUNI-FACTORINGINSTITUT KEUSAHAWANAN TEKUN

Former Tekun boss faces graft charges

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Saturday, January 7, 2017

Councillors ready to serve Penangites to make a difference?

THE Penang Island City Council (MBPP) and the Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP) see 10 new faces among the list of councillors who sworn in Jan 5 and 6 for the 2017 term.

State Local Government Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the lineup for the 24 MBPP and 23 MPSP councillors is effective Jan 1 till Dec 31.

The new faces appointed as councillors (from left) Tan, Shahrudin, Seow, Loh, Khoo Salma, Noor Syazwani, Shung and Woo at a press conference in Komtar.

He said three of the five new faces in MBPP are from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), namely writer Khoo Salma Nasution, 53, (Penang Forum), insurance and corporate risk consultant Shung Yin Ni, 31, (Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce) and marketing officer Noor Syazwani Md Amin, 30, (Persatuan Peniaga Melayu Pasar Malam Pulau Pinang).

The other two are senior marketing manager Tan Chiew Choon, 45, and businessman Shahrudin Mohamed Sahriff, 47, both from PKR.

Chiew Choon had served as a councillor before with the MBPP between 2013 and 2015. He was not retained the following term.

The five replace Eric Lim Seng Keat (NGO), Dr Lim Mah Hui (NGO), Mohamed Yusoff Mohamed Noor (NGO), Felix Ooi Keat Hin (PKR) and Shahul Hameed M. K. Mohamed Ishack (PKR).

The 19 councillors who were retained are Goh Choon Keong, Gooi Seong Kin, Grace Teoh Koon Gee, Harvindar Singh, Joseph Ng Soon Siang, D. R. Kala, Chris Lee Chun Kit, Ong Ah Teong, Syerleena Abdul Rashid, Wong Yuee Harng, J. Francis, Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik, Nur Zarina Zakaria, A. Kumaresan, Ahmad Razaaim Azimi, Ahmad Azrizal Tahir, Mhd Nasir Yahya, Saiful Azwan Abd Malik and Gan Ay Ling.

MPSP also has five new faces including lawyer Thomas Loh Wei Pheng, 33, (DAP), special officer Woo Sze Zeng, 34, (DAP), company director Dr Seow Kweng Tian, 37, (PKR), entrepreneur Fadzil Abdullah, 60, (Amanah) and clerk Hamizah Abdul Manab, 26, (NGO).

They replace Siti Nur Shazreen Mohd Jilani (DAP), Tan Chong Hee (DAP), Goh Choon Aik (PKR), Alias Wan Chek (PKR), Mohd Suzuki Ahmad (Amanah) and Ahmad Tarmizi Abdullah (NGO), whose terms were not extended.

Chow said one more vacancy in the lineup for MPSP will be decided in the next state exco meeting.

The other 18 MPSP councillors are P. David Marshel, Heng Yeh Shiuan, H’ng Mooi Lye, K. Kumar, Mohamad Shaipol Ismail, M. Satees, Tan Chee Teong, Tan Cheong Heng, Zulkifli Ibrahim, Mohd Sharmizan Mohamad Nor, Zaini Awang, Ong Jing Cheng, Anuar Yussoff, Dr Amar Pritpal Abdullah, Shuhada Abdul Rahim, Zulkiply Ishak, Dr Tiun Ling Ta and Wong Chee Keet.

Shung, who is from a corporate background, said she hoped to assist in providing a better environment for business undertakings in Penang.

Shahrudin said the appointment would encourage him to step up efforts to serve the people better.

The Jelutong PKR branch deputy chief said he hoped to take on his role as a councillor more efficiently through various state initiatives and policies.

Dr Seow hopes to resolve issues related to public transportation and community welfare.

He said that he hoped to resolve traffic congestion, plant more trees and maintain cleanliness.

“I hope to be able to introduce more community-based activities as a councillor,” said Dr Seow, who is a PhD holder.

Speaking at a press conference in Komtar yesterday, Chow said the allowances for the councillors would remain at RM2,500 each.

“They are also eligible for allowances for attending meetings up to RM1,200, which is about RM100 for every meeting they attend. There is also a RM300 mobile phone allowance,” he added.

Also present was Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.

By Chong Kah Yuan Intan Amalina The Star/ANN

Newly sworn-in MBPP councillors ready to make a difference

(From left) Tan, Noor Syazwani, Shung, Salma and Shahrudin posing for a photo after the swearing-in ceremony at the City Hall in George Town, Penang.

MARKETING officer Noor Syazwani Md Amin is eagerly waiting to serve the people as one of Penang Island City Council’s (MBPP) five new councillors.

The 30-year-old, who is with a non-governmental organisation (NGO) Penggerak Komuniti Muda Pulau Pinang (Peka), said one of the issues close to her heart is the flood woes in the state.

“I live in the flood-prone Jalan P. Ramlee, so I definitely hope it’s one of the issues that can be solved for the sake of the people.

“There will be the flood mitigation projects which are going to be carried out. So, hopefully I can make use of that for the community, especially those staying in Sungai Pinang, Jelutong and Jalan P. Ramlee,” she said when met after the MBPP councillors’ swearing-in ceremony for the 2017 term at the City Hall in George Town, Penang, yesterday.

Noor Syazwani said her priority is always about placing the people first.

“Helping people excites me.

“Hopefully, I can give my best because I’m still new,” she added.

She is among 24 MBPP councillors, who took their oath at the City Hall yesterday.

Three of the five new faces are from NGOs. They are writer Khoo Salma Nasution, 53, (Penang Forum), insurance and corporate risk consultant Shung Yin Ni, 31, (Penang Chinese Chamber of Commerce) and Noor Syazwani.

The other two are senior marketing manager Tan Chiew Choon, 45, and businessman Shahrudin Mohamed Shariff, 47, both from PKR.

Meanwhile, Shung said she hoped to enhance conduciveness of Penang as an excellent business centre with her appointment in the MBPP.

“This is so that when the economy blooms, everyone gets to benefit from it.

“I would also like to emphasise on sustainable development, which does not only mean taking care of the environment but also the needs of the people. Therefore, I hope to find a balance,” she added.

The five replace Eric Lim Seng Keat (NGO), Dr Lim Mah Hui (NGO), Mohamed Yusoff Mohamed Noor (NGO), Felix Ooi Keat Hin (PKR) and Shahul Hameed M.K. Mohamed Ishack (PKR).

The 19 councillors retained are Goh Choon Keong, Gooi Seong Kin, Grace Teoh Koon Gee, Harvindar Singh, Joseph Ng Soon Siang, D.R. Kala, Chris Lee Chun Kit, Ong Ah Teong, Syerleena Abdul Rashid, Wong Yuee Harng, J. Francis, Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik, Nur Zarina Zakaria, A. Kumaresan, Ahmad Razaaim Azimi, Ahmad Azrizal Tahir, Mhd Nasir Yahya, Saiful Azwan Abd Malik and Gan Ay Ling.

The new MBPP lineup comprises 10 from DAP, eight from PKR, two from Amanah and four from NGOs.

The tenure for the councillors is from Jan 1 until Dec 31.

In her speech, MBPP mayor Datuk Patahiyah Ismail congratulated all the appointed councillors.

State Local Government Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the role of a councillor is very extensive.

“Apart from representing the general public and local community, a member of the council is also an intermediate between the community and local authority,” he said in his speech.

Chow also congratulated the council on its success in getting various awards and victories at state, national and international levels.

The achievements include being the Earth City Hour Challenge 2016 finalist.

MBPP also received the Tourism Promotion Organisation for Asia Pacific (TPO) Tourism Industry Leader Award in Tourism Promotion for Asia Pacific Forum 2016.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, who was also present, said MBPP’s success not only depended solely on a credible and effective management, but also the support, commitment and team work from all councillors, officers and staff.

He said MBPP practised prudent spending and governance based on the principles of CAT (competency, accountability and transparency) that successfully recorded an excellent financial performance with budget surplus in the financial statements for three consecutive years, which is RM47.57mil for 2013, RM177.95mil for 2014 and RM146.04mil for 2015.

“The success of the council in maintaining good financial performance enables efforts to improve the provision of public facilities.

“MBPP will implement several development projects at a cost of RM5.2mil.

“Among the proposed projects to improve the comfort of the people, include the construction of a public market in Batu Ferringhi,” he added.

By Cavina Lim The Star/ANN

Outspoken author among five new faces at MBPP


New faces appointed as the councillor in Penang Island City Council (MBPP) for 2017. (oriental daily/04 Jan 2017)

GEORGE TOWN: An outspoken author of over a dozen history books is among five new faces appointed as Penang Island City (MBPP) councillors.

Khoo Salma Nasution represents Penang Forum and is taking over from her equally vocal counterpart Dr Lim Mah Hui, who opted out of being re-appointed this year after serving six terms.

Penang Forum is a loose coalition of non-political civil society groups, often critical of the state government’s plans and policies.

The city’s councillors are appointed yearly and comprise a small number of NGO representatives, including one from Penang Forum.

During his term, Dr Lim vocife­rously highlighted governance issues to the point of incurring the annoyance of the state administration.

Khoo planned to keep public pressure on MBPP and wished that more seats were allotted to NGOs.

She is eager to see what committees are in the council and hoped to play a role especially in fostering sustainable development, transport planning, environmental issues and heritage conservation.

“I feel there is not enough awareness on these. I want to see what I can do about making people more conscious of them, not just indivi­duals but at an institutional level,” she said.

The former journalist of The Star who did a 20-year research into Penang’s history and development to write her books, believes that the council needs environmental goals and key performance indicators to monitor Penang’s green progress.

“We need to collect more information about how Penang is doing to track our environmental and heritage conservation efforts,” she said.

Khoo was in Komtar yesterday when Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and state exco member Chow Kon Yeow announced the appointments of the new councillors.

Dr Lim said he was glad that the state government accepted Penang Forum’s nomination of Khoo.

“Her decades of study on Pe­­nang’s growth will help the council manage development while preserving our cultural and heritage values,” he said.

Dr Lim added that he declined his re-appointment because he felt “the change in Penang that we want doesn’t seem to be happening”. Other new faces are Tan Chiew Choon (PKR), Shahrudin Mohamed Sahriff (PKR), Shung Yin Ni (NGO) and Noor Syazwani Mohd Amin (NGO).

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Thursday, January 5, 2017

Another big fish nabbed for corruption, graft rampant and serious!

https://youtu.be/0-0b0CwFquk

MACC arrests ministry sec-gen


PETALING JAYA: Three months after trailing him, the Malaysian-Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) moved in and arrested Rural and Regional Development Ministry secretary-general Datuk Mohd Arif Ab Rahman at his home just as he was about to leave for work.

Gold bars, 150 luxury handbags, branded watches and foreign currencies were found after officers searched the property in USJ3, Subang Jaya, for 12 hours.

The gold bars and Australian and Euro currencies seized were estimated at RM3mil.

The designer handbags were from brands such as Chanel, Hermes, Dior, Louis Vuitton and Gucci.

Prices for some of these bags range from RM7,000 to RM100,000 each.

When contacted, MACC deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki confirmed the arrests of Mohd Arif, 59, and his 29-year-old son at their home at 8am yesterday.

He said the case was being investigated for abuse of power, corruption and money laundering.

Raid target: MACC officers arrested Mohd Arif at his house in Subang Jaya as he was about to leave for work.

The MACC is said to be investigating whe­ther all his overseas trips and other expenses incurred there were paid for by “certain individuals”.

A source said Mohd Arif just returned from a golfing trip to the United States.

“More suspects will be picked up soon to assist in the probe,” Azam said.

Mohd Arif and his son are expected to be remanded this morning.

It is understood that MACC is investigating 38 savings and current accounts and at least three safe deposit boxes in several banks in connection with the case.

The probe also covers several plots of lands.

The source said several documents from a lawyer’s office in Puchong related to the plots of land were also seized.

It is learnt that statements had also been recorded from Mohd Arif’s 57-year-old wife, his 32-year-old daughter and another son aged 34.

The couple has six children.

Car and cash: A Proton Perdana is seen parked outside the house of Mohd Arif.

Attempts to contact Mohd Arif for comments were unsuccessful.

A visit to his double-storey terrace corner lot home at about 7pm showed that no one was present.

Three luxury cars were parked in the porch. The housing area is a gated and guarded community.

A Proton Perdana was parked in front of the house.

Mohd Arif was appointed to the ministry post on Oct 16, 2015. He also sits in the board of a government-linked company.

Prior to that, he also served as a secretary-general in another ministry and was a deputy secretary-general and state financial officer.

He joined the civil service in 1981 as an administrative and diplomatic officer and is a Universiti Malaya graduate.

Sources: Simon Khoo, Mazwin Nik Anis, Andaustin Camoens The Star/Asian News Network

MACC: Sec-gen is from Rural and Regional Development Ministry 

 


PETALING JAYA: The suspect who was arrested earlier Wednesday for alleged graft is from the Rural and Regional Development Ministry, confirms Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Azam Baki.

When contacted to verify the identity of the suspect, Azam confirmed that it was the current Ministry secretary-general, Datuk Mohd Arif Ab Rahman.

In a statement earlier, Azam said that Mohd Arif was arrested at his house in USJ Subang Jaya at 8am.

Also arrested was a 29-year-old male suspect.

Mohd Arif is suspected to have abused his power and position since 2010 to solicit bribes.

Initial investigations showed he had a direct hand in appointing contractors, suppliers and vendors.

The MACC has also confiscated cash and gold bars worth about RM3mil.


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Sec-gen nabbed for corruption

Luxury watches seized from the family.

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Anti- Corruption Commission (MACC) has seized gold bars and cash amounting to some RM3 million from the secretary-general of a federal ministry, who was arrested for suspected graft today.

The 59-year-old “datuk” was detained at his home in Subang Jaya by an MACC raiding team at 8am today. Also arrested was his 29-year-old son.

It is learnt that investigators have also quizzed the secretary-general’s wife, two daughters and another son.

Members of the raiding party spent 12 hours searching their house where they seized 150 luxury handbags and dozens of luxury watches.

The MACC also raided his lawyer’s office in Puchong where investigators took away an undisclosed number of documents related to the case.

In confirming the arrest, MACC deputy Chief Commissioner (Operations) Datuk Azam Baki hinted at the possibility of more arrests to come in connection with the case.

He said the Datuk is suspected of having received bribes from selected contractors, vendors and suppliers whom he had awarded government work and contracts.

The Datuk, who was previously secretary-general of another ministry before being appointed to his current position where he is directly involved in the award of government work contracts, is also a director in a government-linked company (GLC).

He is alleged to have recently taken a trip to play golf in the United States, for which MACC investigators learnt the expenses were paid by certain individuals with vested interests in projects by the Datuk’s ministry. The arrest comes days after MACC chief commissioner Datuk Dzulkifli Ahmad on Sunday had advised senior civil servants to stop their golfing trips abroad as it can be opportunities for corruption.

On Tuesday, during an interview with the MACC.fm, Azam had reiterated his boss’ advice, saying that golf often offers an opportunity for those in upper society to establish contacts, whether they are public figures, government officials or businessmen.

“Golf by itself is not wrong and those who join others to play golf are not wrong, too. I also play golf. But in Malaysia, golf involves high-ranking officials, public figures and people in high-society.

“An entourage on overseas golfing trips often include contractors, suppliers ... sometimes the whole (government official’s) office go along on these trips,” he said.

Azam said this does not only happen at the federal level but has also involved state, district and local government officials.

By Charles Ramendran newsdesk@thesundaily.com

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