Koon Swan honored

October 31, 2012

Koon Swan honored for Contributions to Politics and Business

by Teoh El Sen@http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com

Former MCA Chief Tan Koon Swan will be awarded a “Lifetime Achievement Award” for his contributions to politics and business at the 4th World Chinese Economic Forum (WCEF) next month, announced MCA President Dr Chua Soi Lek today.

Tan will be among seven others to be conferred the award at WCEF which will be held in Melbourne, Australia starting November 12.

Congratulating Tan, Chua said:”It is time for what we call redemption. He has gone through a very difficult time and he deserves the award. The prosecutor in his case has admitted to being wrong and has exonerated him… time has proven that he (Tan) is innocent.”

Chua added that it was high time that Tan, who he described as a “well-known corporate figure”, have his hard work and contributions recognised.

The Singapore Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) in 1985 slapped Tan with 15 charges, including criminal breach of trust (CBT) and share manipulation following the collapse of Pan-Electric

Industries, which temporarily halted the Malaysia and Singapore stock exchanges. Tan, who had a stake in Pan-Electric, was found guilty and jailed two years. He was MCA President between November 1985 and September 1986, before quitting after the scandal.

Glenn Knight, then Director of CAD, in his recently-launched book, “Glenn Knight: The Prosecutor”, apologised to Tan for the “wrongful prosecution”. In his words, Tan was “technically an innocent man”.

Knight’s book was disputed by Singapore’s Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC), which said that Tan’s conviction stood and he remains guilty of the crime that he had admitted to.

Others receiving the lifetime awards are Dr Jonathan Choi– Chairman of the Chinese General Chamber of Commerce (for Community Leadership); Jannie Chan – Vice Chairman of The Hour Glass Ltd & President, ASEAN Business Forum(for Women Leadership);Councillor Ken Ong – Melbourne City Council (for Community Leadership); Jenny McGregor – Founding Chief

Executive Officer, Asialink Centre, Australia (for Leadership in Asian Studies in Australia); Vincent Lee Fook Long – Executive Deputy Chairman, The Star Publications (Malaysia) Berhad(for Media and Communications); Vincent Lo – Chairman, Shui On Group (for Leadership in Property Sector); Liew Kee Sin – President/Chief Executive Officer, SP Setia Berhad Group (for Property Development Leadership).

Meanwhile, Chua said the WCEF, being the first time held outside of Malaysia, was a very significant event for both Asians and Western countries.

“The way to go, as Australia has identified, is to maximise and tap into the growing economy of Asia, China, India, Japan, and South Korea. It is often said that the centre of gravity of the economy has shifted from the West to the East.

“The economic growth in the next few years is very positive about this part of the world, rather than America and European Union, who have not put their house in order. Whereas in Asia, growth has remained uninterrupted,” he said.

Sorry, the Vacancy has been filled

October 31, 2012

Sorry, the Vacancy has been filled

by R. Nadeswaran (10-28-12)@ http://www.thesundaily.my

Last Monday, our columnist applied for a “dream job” with the Customs Department after discovering there are fool-proof measures to raise money for charitable causes.

A week later, since he did not get nor expected a reply, he decided to pen a reply (purportedly) from the department.

Dear R. Nadeswaran

I have been directed to reply to your application. First, we would like to thank you for showing interest in our department and the happenings within. However, we regret to inform you that the vacancy had been filled long before we received your application.

To be honest, it is the policy of this department to fill such “exciting” vacancies which involve procurement and money with internal promotions and as a matter of fact, such positions are reserved for officers from the inner sanctum. Perhaps, you will read about the heroics of such officers in future editions of the Auditor-General’s Report, probably in 2017, as you had indicated in your letter.

Having said that, we need to clarify some points in your application which seem to suggest that there’s a lot of wrongdoing in our department. This is far from the truth. On the contrary, we affirm that whatever claims you made in your application are true and can confirm that they are part of our work culture and customs (pun intended) which we have been exercising for decades. We may have a work-to-rule or other forms of industrial action if such systems which bring additional revenue are changed.

Ordering in excess of our requirements is one method we use to spend our budget allocated by the Treasury. Why should we save money which has been budgeted for our expenditure, even if we don’t need the equipment?

We will look silly if we save funds for the government and we can justify that by putting on record that we collect billions for the government and that expenditure on equipment can be considered small change or “weekend rojak money” as one former minister called it.

Because you have not worked in our department or any government agency, you would not know the mechanics when it comes to spending. Let me give you an example. If we need 1,000 torchlights, we normally put up a budget for 2,000 or in some cases, 3,000. Our finance section approves it and money has been budgeted.

If we use the money to buy only 1,000 torchlights, next year, money will only be allocated for the lower figure. So, going by our standard operating procedures (SOP), we buy 3,000 torchlights, irrespective of whether there is use for them. What is wrong in keeping them in our store? That’s how the government system works. And of course, buying such a quantity means there are hefty discounts and the invoice is adjusted accordingly.

We applaud your intention to raise money for charitable purposes. Let us state that such spirit and vigour are also with our officers, who also do their bit for the needy. Occasionally, they drop loose change in a container in the office. However, such efforts cannot be carried out in the same manner as you suggested. They cannot and never can emulate Robin Hood as they have their commitments.

Some of our officers have more than one wife and extended families to support, they have children studying overseas and some own two or more cars.

Some are members of several golf clubs but avoid the club meant for civil servants. This is because they don’t want to show off their RM40,000 golf sets which will cause envy among fellow civil servants. That’s why their luxury cars can only be seen being vacuumed and polished in the confines of some of the best clubs in the country.

But they do a little for society and their contributions are minimal because our officers have been trained to plan for the future. Hence on retirement, with their pensions, some of them live in bungalows in posh neighbourhoods and on the fringes of golf courses.

While some get used to living in cramped quarters provided by the government, there are some who live in bungalows or renting their properties to support their lifestyles. Thriftiness has enabled this latter group. Some of them start saving from the day they start their service and within 10 years, are able to own bungalows costing a million each. Others just have to make one swoop and are made for life.

In view of the above and the “family concept” that is in practice, we cannot accept you into our fold.

Saya Yang Menurut Perintah.

Bagi Pihak Ketua Pengarah
Jabatan Eksais dan Kastam diRaja

A Case for Academic Autonomy

October 31, 2012

A Case for Academic Autonomy in Malaysian Universities

by Azmi  Sharom@http://www.thestar.com

There is a growing obsession with form over substance and nowhere is this more evident than in the unhealthy interest taken with university rankings.

THIS month marks the 22nd year I have worked as an academic.In that time, I have seen many changes in the university. There have been, of course, some improvements since those early days. For one thing, technology has transformed things for the better.

Let’s take a trip down memory lane. The very first publication I wrote went through this rather painful process.

First, I had to go to the library and find the relevant cases and journal articles. Then having taken copious notes, I went back to my office where I proceeded to write out my thoughts with an ancient device known as a pen.

Having completed this task, I would send my scratching to a lovely lady in the general office downstairs whose job title was “steno”.

She would type out what I wrote, give it back to me to check and then I would return it to her with any corrections. Finally, it would be placed into a pocket made of paper known as a stamped envelope and posted to the publisher.

Now, all cases and statutes including many journals are online. I type my work myself (with the computer checking my spelling and grammar) and when I am done I e-mail the stuff to the publisher.

All in the comfort of my office where I can play Flight of the Hamsters in between constructing sentences filled with gems of wisdom.

I will be the first to admit that I am quite old-fashioned in many ways, but I can categorically say that I don’t miss the days before the Internet and Word.

Progress, unfortunately, is not always positive. And it saddens me to say that over these last two decades I have seen changes that in my opinion ring the death knell for higher education.

In my opinion, the key problem is that those who decide the direction of our universities have lost track of the values that have to underpin these institutions in order for them to play a meaningful role in society.

There is a growing obsession with form over substance and nowhere is this more evident than in the unhealthy interest taken with university rankings.

Politicians harp on about it, so the Government makes it a priority. Because the Government wants higher rankings, the Vice-Chancellors start ranting about it too.

Rankings have become the raison d’etre for universities.The quick fix then becomes the holy grail, hence universities look to the ranking criteria and they focus their efforts on doing all they can to meet those criteria.

This blinkered modus operandi then leads to some seriously contorted developments which ignore the principles that are necessary for the proper foundations of truly good universities.

Academic autonomy is one of those principles.A university is a complex organisation. It is unlike a factory where there is by and large one goal and usually one method with which to achieve the said goal with the best quality and efficiency.

Even in one faculty, there are many variations. Take, for example, the Faculty of Arts – you have departments as diverse as English and Geography; Urban Planning and Gender Studies; International Studies and Indian Studies; the list goes on.

You can’t possibly be laying down a single criterion for quality for such a diverse group. But that is what happened. Nowadays, if you want to prove your quality, the only way you can do it, which is embraced by universities, is if you publish in the journals recognised by the ranking organisations.

It doesn’t matter if you are an English professor who publishes well-received novels, or if you are a Gender Studies lecturer who uses your knowledge for women’s activism.

What about the fine arts? Shouldn’t the creation of new ideas in dance and theatre take precedence over an article in some obscure (but acknowledged by the rankers) journal which only a handful of people will read? Increasingly, the thinking of universities is it is our way or the highway.

Such a top down approach cannot work because each academic unit in a university has its own expertise and its own value system.

This has to be respected because they themselves should know how to advance their discipline both in an academically and socially meaningful manner.

Autonomy brings with it the necessary flexibility for each department and each academic to chart the necessary course which will improve themselves and their own disciplines.

And who should know better what that course should be than those who have trained in that discipline.

I am not against the publishing of works in reputable journals. I acknowledge that they are important to the advancement of academic thought.What I am saying is that the diversity of academia means that there are numerous methods to determine quality. And the best way to achieve quality is by having true academic autonomy so that those who know best are the ones who determine the way to achieve the best.

The Last of the Malaysian Newspaper Mohicans

October 30, 2012

My Friend Syed Nadzri: The Last of the Malaysian Newspaper Mohicans



Syed Nadzri Syed Harun, Group Editor of the New Straits Times, said farewell to the editorial staff this evening, at a sombre tea party on the 2nd Floor.

His impending departure had been talked about for the past month and word was that he would be taking up a directorship at a large corporation, but for the moment that is just shop talk.

The newsroom focus is more about who might replace him: next in rank is Managing Editor Nuraina Samad.

For the past year, however, it has been Group Managing Editor Jalil Hamid, former Press Secretary to the Prime Minister, who has been calling the shots in the newsroom, as Ahmad Talib did before him and occasionally still does.

Syed Nadzri’s departure comes against a backdrop of constant sniping from pro-UMNO bloggers, especially those allied to Mahathir Mohamad as well as Najib Razak, determined to root out anyone still at Balai Berita seen to be allied with former Deputy Chairman Kalimullah Hassan.

Syed Nadzri rose through the ranks, beginning as a sports reporter with The Star before he moved to Balai Berita on the News Desk. Even as group editor, he would often be at a terminal near the desk in the afternoons, going through copy, rather than in his office.

Last month he was honoured by the National Press Club with its Lifetime Achievement award for his contributions to the industry.

With his departure, the NST has probably seen the last of the professional journalists holding the position, although the appointment of NST editors has always been subject to approval by UMNO Presidents.

Political appointees as group editor-in-chief, responsible for both the NST and Berita Harian, have been the NST editor de jure for many years, with the NST Group Editor (editorially responsible for the New Straits Times and New Sunday Times) reduced to a figurehead position responsible for day-to-day affairs.

Now with the New Straits Times Press swallowed up into the bowels of Media Prima, with television revenues covering for NST losses, and the politicisation of the group media in preparation for the coming general election, it remains to be seen whether there will still be a group editor’s position to be filled.But they do say nature abhors a vacuum.

People of Malaysia Vs Mahathir Bin Mohamad

October 30, 2012

People of Malaysia Vs Mahathir Bin Mohamad

by Navin-Chandra Naidu @ www.malaysiakini.com

COMMENT :Suing Dr Mahathir Mohamad is impossible, unthinkable, undesirable, unwise, or difficult? I pose this riddle because I know I do not know the answer to it.

I have been advocating this for quite some time, but I don’t seem to get anywhere. Maybe our esteemed Malaysiakini subscribers will put on their usual thinking caps and help me understand this “problem” so that, maybe, we can get to get this man sued in a court of justice (not a court of law).

There is a great difference between a court of law and a court of justice. Justice is a blind bat. Justice OW Holmes of the US Supreme Court once chastised a lawyer, and told him sternly that he, the lawyer, was in a court of law, and not a court of justice.

You see, Justice Holmes was not given to philosophy of the law although he wallowed in it. He was a practical man who knew that the law is “how one could predict how a court would decide.” Lofty legal principles in many courts in many countries have been abandoned in the rash search for a political solution. The litigant does not count.

In the Malaysian context, when you walk into a court of law, it is a throw of the dice, especially after August 1988. If the judge is learned in the law, and not given to apple-polishing his or her political masters, the litigant has a shot at real justice. There will be equal justice under the law.

The litigant is no better off when he gets a judge concerned about his or her pension. This is not peculiar in Malaysia only. We have a bunch of loonies assigned to the Bench here in the United States, too. One judge was so obsessed he used a penis pump under his robes when a physically attractive female prosecutor showed up in his court.

Will judges rise to the occasion?

Suing Mahathir will require several thousand Malaysians gathering together a team of pro bono publicus lawyers – lawyers willing to work for free, yours truly included, of course – to unleash a shattering legal tsunami against the former prime minister for corrupt practices, wasting public funds with his warped sense of largesse and bigness, and perversion of justice through his unique cabalistic methods that resulted in the ruination of the country’s prospects for equal opportunities for all Malaysians which is still reverberating as a persistent and nagging reminder in the federal constitution (FC) as Article 8. The man has done more damage than anyone else in Malaysia.

The first and foremost criterion to take into account is whether our Malaysian judges, using Article 162(6) of FC, would care to dare to bare the truth of the citizens’ allegations against a former prime minister, and serve as judicial referees and umpires to a genuine trial that would make truth take centre stage instead of just proof and evidence that our police and the Attorney-General’s Chambers are so proud and adept at manufacturing, fabricating, altering, covering up, and delivering as factual reality.

Malaysian judges must take up the slack and deliver judgments that can withstand the after effects of an appeal. After all, the dreadful and dreaded Adorna Properties ruling and decision got overruled by Tan Ying Hong v Tan Sian San, which restored deferred indefeasibility of title and offered Section 340 of the National Land Code 1965 a new shine and polish.

Our appellate judges ought to hold up the scales of justice and not be caught cheating with misapplied thumb pressure upon these scales without checking, rechecking and cross-checking all the facts that were submitted by the lawyers. I wonder if our Malaysian judges conduct any independent investigations like our European counterparts on the Bench.

After all, one cannot simply take any lawyer’s submissions for the truth, because lawyers are not the only ones entitled to lie in court.

A-G the stumbling block

Such a case involving a Muslim Prime Minister could be initiated in a Syariah Court that would leave the Attorney-General (A-G) powerless under Article 145(3) FC. But that is exactly what is sorely desired. Malaysians do not relish the idea of the A-G agonising on whether or not to proffer charges against his boss.

The A-G is a stumbling block. Someday, he ought to be impeached being a federal judge and all. But that may already be happening. The burning question is whether the Syariah Court will be willing to adjudicate The People of Malaysia v Dr Mahathir Mohamad bin Iskandar. It ought to, especially if the defendant is a Muslim, as is the case.

At the same time, the native courts ought to file another motion against Mahathir for grabbing their lands during his 22-year watch. The Orang Asli’s motion would be rock solid given the fact that the United Nations Indigenous Peoples Forum’s representatives will have to attend these lawsuits as umpires and referees to make sure no plaintiff is forced to flee the lawsuit by the local thuggery enclaves admirably and efficiently run by the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM).

The Aboriginal Peoples Act of 1954 together with Article 8(5)(c) of the federal constitution would be a powerful combination against Mahathir in all 18 Orang Asli Native Courts as all 18 Orang Asli tribes will be suing the same man in 18 different Native Courts.

While the syariah and native courts effort is under way, lawsuits ought to be filed in the High Court in Kuala Lumpur, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching, at the same time by the natives of Sabah and Sarawak. An all-out concerted effort to bring this man down ought to be the most pleasurable thing any Malaysian can think or dream about.

NONEI wallow in the fun I may have as a lawyer see true blue justice done to an arrogant man who thinks he is beyond and above the law. Mahathir probably thinks he still wields untold power and pleasure in Malaysia. He may still enjoy a lot of power given the fact that the Ling Liong Sik-Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) case fizzled away like a flash in a pan without much fanfare.

Curtain time for Dr M

The task at hand is formidable amassing all the facts, details, data, particulars, proof and evidence to succeed in bringing this puppeteer down.

Subpoena everyone that was associated or affiliated with the man. You can forget about a criminal case being mounted. I am talking about a civil suit for unjust enrichment, violating the public trust, defaming the public thinking we are a bunch of fools, and a host of suitable causes of action, which I am sure we Malaysians will have absolutely no difficulty in marshalling together as a must-do and can-do fun exercise.

Royal commission of inquiries (RCIs) are a waste of time. Waiting for election results is another doleful exercise in patience with a crooked Election Commission to contend with. Writing books, articles, essays, ceramahs, and public debates aside, suing Mahathir is where the rubber meets the road. It’s time for action.

Talking about making Mahathir liable is what it will take, and I hope and pray we Malaysians can rally together and bring this suit against Mahathir to fruition. Powerful people in historical annals could not just get away with it. They had to pay. Some with their lives, some with long prison terms.

I believe a well-informed citizenry, like Malaysians today, can make the difference. The leaders of any country cannot get zilch done without the workers putting their effort together. Mahatma Gandhi shut out and shut down the British Empire with the simple “bandh” effort. “Shut it down,” he instructed, and every worker, soldier, cook, errand boy, gardener, cleaner, polisher, driver, dhobi, every other menial worker simply shut it down.

So, my fellow Malaysians, expose the man. Let’s shut down Mahathir. Let’s shut him up in prison. Let’s shut down his last show. It’s curtain time.

Putrajaya determined to recover NFC funds

October 29, 2012

Putrajaya says determined to recover NFC funds

by Clara Chooi @http://www.themalaysianinsider.com

Putrajaya said today it is determined to recover monies lost in the RM250 million National Feedlot Centre (NFC) project, the controversial cattle-farming scheme that hit media headlines last year after it was highlighted for mismanagement in the Auditor-General’s Report 2010.

Responding to several opposition lawmakers in the Dewan Rakyat here, Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Noh Omar  said discussions were still ongoing between the government and several companies on the best option that would ensure the government recovers the federal soft loan.

“We want to take over the management (of the NFC) and most importantly, we want to recover the government’s money,” he told the House.

Noh said the Najib Cabinet had elected Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to lead the discussions, adding that it was imperative that the federal cattle-farming scheme survives as it is an important project for the country’s future.

He stressed that despite the issues surrounding the NFC, the scheme is still operational with some 12,000 cattle reared at 38 out of 57 satellite farms.

When questioned on the financial assets of the National Feedlot Corporation (NFCorp), however, the firm in the centre of the scandal, the minister pointed out to Zuraida Kamaruddin (PKR-Ampang) that the matter was still in the courts.

“I cannot say any more, except that the firm did ask to lift the freeze on its assets… but this could not be approved,” he said.

PKR’s Rafizi Ramli recently said that Putrajaya was unlikely to see the return of the RM250 million in public funds lent to NFCorp even if it initiates a civil suit against the company.

The firm, owned by the family members of former minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil and picked to run the NFC cattle-farming project, hit the headlines last year when the Auditor-General in his 2010 report stated that it had missed production targets.

The Opposition Party’s strategy chief, who spearheaded corruption allegations against the company over the project, pointed out that the Auditor-General had in his 2011 report tabled this week in Parliament recommended legal action against NFCorp to claim back public money owed.

He claimed that it was the other companies fully-owned by Shahrizat’s family which had nothing to do with the national feedlot project and not NFCorp that had allegedly embezzled and bought luxury assets.

The Opposition had alleged that NFCorp directors used the loan meant for a federal cattle-farming scheme to buy or finance properties in Kazakhstan and Singapore worth at least RM45 million, and to siphon out at least RM12 million to their own companies in the island state.

PKR had also accused NFCorp of “hunting down” alleged whistleblowers to “put the lid on” claims the company abused the RM250 million federal loan to finance property, luxury cars and expenses unrelated to cattle farming.

Shahrizat, who had headed the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry when the project was awarded to her family in 2006, relinquished her Cabinet post in early April over the allegations against her family.