PKR comes of age

May 31, 2010

PKR  comes of age

By Hawkeye

KOTA BARU: As befits a party that is a partner in four state administrations, PKR used its congress this weekend more as an occasion to evaluate its performance than an opportunity to indulge in its traditional preoccupation of UMNO-bashing.

This was evident in both the issues raised in the speeches in the assembly hall and the comments made in media interviews on the sidelines.

Nearly all of the 40-odd speakers at the party’s sixth national congress here showed concern over such issues as the effectiveness of policies and their implementation and the quality of leadership that PKR had to offer.

The spotlight shone mostly on Selangor, the only Pakatan-ruled state where PKR is the leading partner.Vice-president Azmin Ali, in a highly charged speech that wound up the presidential keynote address, emphasised on improving the management of Selangor, which has lately been a target of much criticism resulting from revelations of alleged corruption in sand mining.

Azmin called for consistency and an unwavering attitude in the PKR struggle against corruption and power abuse.

He also said that the party must not let itself be too overwhelmed and distracted by defections and other obstacles its enemies were trying to place on its path. The road to Putrajaya, he added, must run through each of the four Pakatan states. “People want to see a proven track record before they commit themselves fully to supporting the alliance,” he said.

Secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, presenting his latest report, said PKR had recorded some 500,000 members to date. However, he devoted most of his speech to exhorting members to ensure that the party focused on good governance and on synergy between itself and the other two Pakatan parties — PAS and DAP.

Almost all of the 20-member supreme council, including former MCA leader Chua Jui Meng, addressed the controversy surrounding the leadership of Selangor Menteri Besar Khalid Ibrahim and many defended him.

Khalid explained at the podium that fighting corruption was the forte of his state administration. However, he chose not to dwell on issues specific to Selangor, devoting most of his speech to the need to groom the young to take over from the present generation of leaders.

Growing-up pains

V Arumugam, deputy chairman of Kedah PKR, spoke to reporters about the party’s growing-up pains, saying it was time to get over it.He said PKR must concentrate its efforts on playing an effective role as part of the parliamentary opposition while paying equal attention to governing Kedah, Penang, Selangor and Kelantan.

He also called for better coordination among all members of PKR, PAS and DAP. Even the upcoming party elections in December took a back seat as delegates pleaded for PKR leaders to give due attention to issues of governance and to listen more attentively to voices from the grassroots.

Party adviser Anwar Ibrahim, winding up the proceedings, urged the party to remain resolute and promised that he would give his “undivided attention” to Selangor.

Anwar, who is officially the economic adviser to the Selangor government, said the state must cut bureaucratic red tape in the interest of speeding up growth.”It is tough, 50 years under Barisan Nasional and only two years under PKR. But we must strive to improve ourselves in Selangor.”

UMNO and PKR under pressure from Malay Ultras

May 31, 2010

UMNO and PKR under pressure from Malay Ultras over Economic Policy

by Terence Netto

Last weekend, UMNO and archrivals PKR were eyeball-to-eyeball and both sides just blinked – and thereby lost a good opportunity to get ahead in the perception game.

If politics is also about perception, the rivals let slip a grand chance to decisively foist the ‘Lost it’ tag on the other in the battle to show voters which party ought to be trusted with Malaysia’s future.

UMNO was under pressure from Perkasa, who on Saturday had organised a one-day symposium on Prime Minister Najib Razak’s New Economic Model.

NONEThe Malay pressure group hosted the occasion to fortify opposition to NEM which is Najib’s bid to check UMN)’s sliding popularity with an economic agenda – incidentally, largely borrowed from PKR’s Malaysian Economic Agenda – that is more equitable than the four decade-old NEP.

Najib, by being present at the tail-end of the symposium and by assuring the audience that the NEP will not be consigned to oblivion, only succeeded in conveying the impression his much-touted NEM is going to be window-dressing.

However, he need not have worried too much about the effect of this seeming retreat.  Last weekend also saw a slip slide of sorts by UMNO’s rival PKR which held its sixth annual convention in opposition-friendly Kota Bharu.

Under pressure from by-election results from Bagan Pinang and Hulu Selangor where Malay support was seen to have slipped for the opposition and intent on countering Perkasa’s attempt at stirring Malay anxiety over their future under a Pakatan Rakyat government, PKR wavered from their stance of looking at issues without racial blinkers.

Conference on Malay poverty

Sections of the party felt that they had to throw a sop to Malay anxiety: they decided PKR must hold a congress on how to tackle Malay poverty.  Better still, this congress would canvass inputs from non-Malays on how to reduce poverty among bumiputeras. Presumably, the gesture would dim the racial overtones of the whole venture.

Never mind it has been said countless times that the majority of the poor in Malaysia are Malays and PKR’s touted Malaysian Economic Agenda is geared to reducing their numbers, irrespective of race.

pkr congress agm kota baru 300510 anwar saifuddinBut PKR last weekend appeared to have lacked faith in their largely accurate diagnosis and in their vote-winning prescription.

Thus both UMNO and PKR squandered a good chance to show the Malaysian electorate that their worldview – a decade into the 21st century when issues of race have become horribly passé – no longer revolves obsessively around the antic.

The irony in this was more marked for PKR than UMNO, which is widely viewed as the party of stagnation and resistance to change.

No less than PKR president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail had asked the party faithful to be bold about proclaiming that they are the party of the Malaysian future. That future would only be different from the Malaysian past if it is less obsessed with race.

TERENCE NETTO has been a journalist for close on four decades. He likes the occupation because it puts him in contact with the eminent without being under the necessity to admire them.

Khalid Ibrahim remains in charge of Selangor

May 31, 2010

Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim remains in charge of Selangor

By Neville Spykerman

The PKR leadership has saved Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim’s job despite severe internal criticism over a sand-mining scandal that has marred the party’s integrity and Selangor’s financial performance.

Delegates at the party’s sixth annual congress in Kota Baru over the weekend tore at the Selangor Mentri Besar, suggesting he should make way for someone else to manage and defend the country’s most-industrialised state in the next general election.

But PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his wife, party president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, stoutly defended the former corporate chief by saying some matters were beyond his control.

“If someone asks me how to evaluate the performance of Tan Sri Khalid or Pakatan Rakyat (PR), what we will say is that the first thing that we promised is a clean and transparent government. With that, we defend that Khalid has been successful,” Anwar said yesterday when closing the PKR annual congress.

But detractors say it was not clean in the lucrative but illegal sand-mining industry, and that this has tarnished the PR administration and was reportedly costing the state government some RM728,000 a month.

Over 30 illegal mines are believed to be extracting sand every month and the state seemed powerless to stop them.

The Khalid administration set up Kumpulan Semesta Sdn Bhd (KSSB) in September 2008, soon after PR took over Selangor, to put stop to illegal sand-mining in the state by extracting 75 million tonnes of sand annually, or over six million tonnes a month. But the state-owned sand-mining subsidiary was not the silver bullet Khalid had imagined it would be.

Under KSSB, which was the sole licensed concessionaire for sand-mining on land owned by the state and its subsidiaries, Selangor was forecast to generate between RM100 million and RM300 million annually.

The Selangor Mentri Besar had announced that all proceeds from KSSB would be channelled to state welfare programmes.

However, state officials have admitted to The Malaysian Insider that the calculations in the forecast were grossly wrong.

Under Datuk Seri Dr Khir Toyo’s administration in 2007, the state earned RM17 million but believed it should have been receiving well over RM100 million in royalties.

KSSB’s profits were also forecast based on demand for sand that year. But in the four months after KSSB was established in September 2008, the state only earned RM1.99 million. For the whole of 2009, KSSB received RM9.40 million, and RM1.11 million between January and March this year.

Officially, the discrepancy has been attributed to poor demand because of the economic downturn. But at the same time, KSSB has been plagued with claims of corruption and mismanagement.While acknowledging there are problems, state officials said it was overly simplistic to solely blame the state subsidiary.

“Illegal sand-mining occurs throughout the country and was prevalent long before PR assumed the helm in Selangor,” said an official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Sand-mining concessions were also frequently a form of largesse for the “politically connected.” In Selangor, KSSB’s “control” of sand-mining was regarded as a hindrance to the old system of political patronage.

It is understood that Khalid was under fire both from those who no longer enjoy this source of easy revenue as well as those within PR who expect to be “rewarded”. At the same time, the old problems of under-declaration of sand being mined and under-payment of royalties have not been solved.

While KSSB was established to overcome and streamline all sand-mining activities in the state, enforcement still falls under the jurisdiction of local, state and federal authorities. KSSB may have been a noble intention on the part of Khalid, but the state subsidiary’s failures are an Achilles’ heel to his administration.

Gasbags a plenty in the MIC

May 31, 2010

Gasbags a plenty in the MIC

by  toffeeturn

This huge GAS rally is nothing but GASS, a bunch of gasbags trying to fool the  already fooled Indian community who cannot see where their bread is buttered, or maybe ,where the sambar and chutney are for their Thosai.

Time for both to stay out of politics?

It is the vacuum being created by Samy’s exit that they intend to fill; they know the crowd are in a mood for change and they want to capitalise from this change to get maximum advantage and sadly this is the typical BN political hype and has been so for a very long time, we’ve seen it in UMNO, the MCA and now in the MIC. This is getting to look quite MCAish after the Ong Tee Keat debacle.

In the other Barisan parties, it is a race to become millionaire extraordinaire, by selling your community to UMNO and racial politics. This is Malaysia we should have no room for Indians, Chinese and Malays, only Malaysians and that is how our political landscape must be carved, that is the only way we will progress, to do we have to rid ourselves the MIC first.

Just take a look at what these gasbags are saying, V Subramaniam, more popularly known by the name Baratmaniam, blasted Samy for the loss of RM9 million of RM10 Telekom shares that were meant for the Indian community in 1990, and raised the MIED scandal, which is an Institute meant for the community and not one individual.

V Govindarajoo a veteran MIC leader apologized to the crowd for having brought Samy Veloo into MIC, he is reported to have said, “I’ve felt very sorry. Samy has betrayed the community and the nation. He did this not only to MIC, but to MCA and UMNO as well. I was the one who introduced Samy to MIC, and now, he must step down and get out,”

The sacked Central Working Committee member KP Samy, addressing the audience, alleged Samy Veloo to be the cause of the downfall and economic deprivation of Indians. Mugilan claimed that RM5 million had been spent to stop people from attending the GAS rally, implying some rough hand tactics used to stop members from attending, and even saying a member could have been kidnapped.

The anti-climax of the whole issue was when Mugilan asked the government to give Samy Veloo a “Senior Position” if he steps down; for all he has done, the government should contemplate arresting him instead, not rewarding him.

That is this Muligan, and he is aspiring to be a future MIC leader ;will anyone ever have him besides some ignorant Indians in this country, made ignorant by the BN government and the MIC. Like UMNO these people thrive on making the rakyat ignorant. Samy deserves to be kicked off, and MIC deserves the only next best thing to be cast into the dustbin of Malaysian political history.

Trust in Khalid Ibrahim, says Anwar Ibrahim

May 30, 2010

Anwar: Trust in Khalid Ibrahim

By Asrul Hadi Abdullah Sani (in Kota Bharu)

Trust this clean and sincere Menteri Besar, says Anwar

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim today urged PKR members to have patience and confidence in Selangor  Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, who faced criticism for mishandling the state.

Khalid has been under heavy scrutiny from his own party congress here after PKR’s loss in the Hulu Selangor by-election and a sand mining scandal. Several delegates have said that Khalid should be replaced if he is not capable of managing the country’s most industrialised state.

Anwar defended his close ally and said that Khalid was a “sincere and clean” leader. “When someone asked me how do I measure someone’s credibility? I said that it is very hard to some a leader who is sincere and clean. Where his record is clean and not corrupt,” the PKR de facto leader said when closing the congress.

He did admit that the state was plagued with problems. “I invited Tan Sri Khalid to join the party, two year later we see problems. What you don’t know is that he does not have the absolute power as the mentri besar. Every step taken there is problems from the University to government agencies.

“We still have problems with religious council. I do not want to use this as an excuse for our not performing because to the rakyat, we cannot say that we have problems. The people want solution. That is why the problem has to be solved,” he said.

Anwar said that slow implementation of policies in Selangor was due to the country’s stagnant economy. “The main problem is the slow implementation of the economic policies because the country’s dismal economy, investments is not coming in. Therefore Selangor must be more aggressive to ensure that projects approval will be expedited,” he said.

The former deputy prime minister also admitted that he needs to perform better as the state’s economic advisor. However he said that the Selangor government has fulfilled its promise of clean government.

“If someone asks me how to evaluate the performance of Tan Sri Khalid or Pakatan Rakyat, what we will say is that the first thing that we promised is a clean and transparent government. With that we defend that Khalid has been successful.

“This is the most important issue because the country is broken due to corruption. This country is broken because ministers and mentri besar take people’s money, shares, land and timber. This is our war because of corrupted leaders that steal from the people. This is will not happen under Tan Sri Khalid. We must explain this matter to the public,” he said.

Anwar also agreed with the delegates demands that the state appoint party members to local government. “I agree with the delegates but the candidate must be qualified. The candidate must only be a professional but have a clean track record. And we must be confident with the candidate because when he is at the helm of any GLCs, he would not be corrupt.  We must give space to Tan Sri Khalid to ensure the right candidate,” he said.

Earlier, party president Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail reiterated the need for the members to patient with Khaild.

“Like any renovation, we must do it slowly. If we want to do a proper renovation then we have to do many things. So give him time, please be patient,” she said.

Dr Wan Azizah also warned that party should not be blinded with Putrajaya and not forget the root of their struggle. “I want to give one message that we all have a stake in this party, you are not mere audience. How are you going to contribute to our struggle? Allah can’t change our fate, only we can” she said.

She also had a light moment with the delegates and joked about Anwar. “Syamsul Iskandar earlier said that Anwar belongs to party. Anwar belongs to the people. Hey, he is my man lah,” she said.

Later during a press conference, Anwar said that the party will be looking to strengthening its leadership. “I will discuss with President and deputy president on how we could strengthen the party leadership with new appointments. We will discuss on certain duties in several committees. We will decide on this matter in the next few days,” he said.

NEP and NEM: Najib’s Dilemma

May 30, 2010

NEP and NEM at Bumiputera Economic Congress:  Najib’s Dilemma

by Hazlan Zakaria

Faced with a 1,000-strong crowd of Malay grassroots and industry leaders, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak yesterday vowed never to betray his father’s legacy, the New Economic Policy (NEP).

NONEGiving the closing speech to the Bumiputera Economic Congress (BEC) that had debated his much-touted New Economic Model (NEM), the prime minister sought to allay fears that the pro-Malay affirmative action policies of the NEP would be done away with.

After all, said Najib, his NEM has not yet been finalised but is still in the process of being developed by economists and other experts who would consult with the relevant stakeholders.

Making much of the fact that the NEP was formulated during his father’s administration, Malaysia’s second premier Tun Razak Hussein, Najib stressed that he would never ‘betray’ the principles behind the NEP, let alone betray Malay interests.

“It is impossible that I, the son of NEP’s founder, will betray his father’s fight. It is impossible. In my heart, I want to see the Malays rise and prosper,” said an impassioned Najib.

“I hope no one will have doubts or worry that I will not pay attention to the concerns of the Malays. As UMNO president, I will not forsake the Malays who form the majority in Malaysia,” he thundered.

Earlier in the evening, the crowd that filled the Dewan Tun Hussein hall at the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur almost bristled with hostility against after a day of debates that saw speaker after speaker denouncing Najib’s NEM as an anti-Malay policy.

Among the main sponsors of the event was the Malaysian Association of Malay Automobile Importers (Pekema), whose members are still distressed over the government’s decision to stop Approved Permits for vehicle imports by 2015.

‘NEM rejected’

Kicking off the event, Malay Consultative Council (MPM) chairperson and Pasir Mas MP Ibrahim Ali in his opening speech summarised for Najib the grouses of Malay groups against his NEM before proceeding to list down their key points of contention.

“Sorry to say Datuk Seri (Najib), but the congress has rejected the NEM,” said a deadpan Ibrahim, whose speech was punctuated with cries of “Hidup Melayu!” Subsequently, more than 30 individual memorandums drafted by Malay NGOs were submitted to Najib, who was then presented with a 33-point resolution drawn up by the BEC against the NEM.