Sunday, January 31, 2016

'Shameful for Malays to still depend on crutches...?' - reliance on special status?

Interesting for all Malaysians to reflect on this news report...

Personally, I believe government should still practice positive discrimination in favour of the poor - not on based on any particular ethnic, religious or cultural basis.

We need to seriously evaluate who the 'special status' policy really benefited over the years? The rich few, or the poor - given the fact that many Malay households remain poor till today. 



Shameful for Malays to still depend on crutches, says Rafidah

Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz (right) with author and social critic Dr M. Bakri Musa at the launch of his book in Shah Alam, today. Rafidah says it is time Malays stop thinking they are 'special' and must continue getting help from government policies. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Kamal Ariffin, January 30, 2016.Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz (right) with author and social critic Dr M. Bakri Musa at the launch of his book in Shah Alam, today. Rafidah says it is time Malays stop thinking they are 'special' and must continue getting help from government policies. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Kamal Ariffin, January 30, 2016. 


Malays are still imprisoned by the thinking that they are "special" and deserving of certain privileges, says former minister Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz.
Speaking at the launch of a book titled "Liberating The Malay Mind" by author Dr M. Bakri Musa, the former Wanita Umno chief said it was shameful that after all these years, the community still wanted to depend on their "special status".
She added that such dependency detracted from the spirit of the New Economic Policy, which was a social engineering of society to help those who had fallen behind in terms of economy and education.

"That was why the government undertook the restructuring, because the Malays were very underprivileged, not because you deserved it because you are Malay. "You deserved it at that time because you were so far behind, you needed the scholarships, you needed the MRSM (Mara Junior Science College), and so on.
"But today, we still want tongkat (crutches) when our legs are okay, and want to depend on the special status as Malays, so shameful," she said.
Rafidah said she was concerned that Malays were not ready for the future, and stressed the need to nurture the young with good universal values such as integrity, trustworthiness, responsibility, accountability and respect for others.
"We have to nurture these values among Malays, otherwise, we will be stuck in a time warp and will not move.
"We have to liberate young minds from all that is negative," she added.
Rafidah also spoke of the need to nurture leadership values and qualities in the younger generation.
"They must have global minds and earn respect not because they are Malays, but because they are Malaysians and the country can be proud of them," she added. – January 30, 2016.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Public Prosecutor should be independent and receive no other income or be a Company Director?

The Attorney General of Malaysia (who is also the Public Prosecutor), just like judges, should be independent, and perceived to be independent. 

As such, they should definitely not be holding any other positions, including Directorships in a company.

The Attorney General (Public Prosecutor), more that judges, is only one. He/she makes the ultimate decision on whether to prosecute a particular person, or some legal entity for breaches of Malaysian laws. This naturally also includes the decision whether to prosecute the Prime Minister, Ministers, Menteri Besar, Chief Minister, and even political parties. Malaysians need an Independent Public Prosecutor, who acts to uphold the cause of justice without fear or favour.

Further, most Company Directors do get paid Director's allowances, and/or other payments.

Now, it was revealed that the current AG Apandi Ali, that he is a Director of the Lembaga Tabung Haji. One report gave the impression that he was recently appointed. Checking the website of the Lembaga Tabung Haji, it showed that he was listed as a Director - but no mention when he was appointed. [See earlier post -   AG Apandi Ali - Director of LUTH? Was this 'gratification' for how he dealt with criminal allegations against PM? Explain please.. 

Then, there were also questions raised in the media whether the immediate past Attorney General, who was suddenly replaced by this new AG in the midst of the investigation on the alleged corruption of Najib Tun Razak, and matters concerning 1MDB and its related companies, was also a Director.

In any even in a recent media report, immediate past AG Ghani Patail allegedly said that his appointment was long before the start of the 1MDB investigations.

But the fact remains, that he was the Chairman of the Board of Directors or a Director of a company (allegedly Sarawak Hidro) long before. The fact that he was appointed allegedly in October 2014 still does not make it right.

The timing of the appointment, according to some was material - but for me, the timing is irrelevant.It was wrong that he was a Director when he was the Public Prosecutor.If it happened when he/she was Public Prosecutor, it may very well be corruption - for corruption is not just about cash money...

When a report is filed about the wrongdoing of the Company, its Directors or even its shareholders, certainly the fact that the Public Prosecutor is a Director of the said company, may result in a different treatment, or may even affect the decision to 'close investigation', to prosecute or not to prosecute. 

At the same time, opponents  to the business, may also be treated differently.

If the said company, is one where the government has influence, or owns, it is even worse. Was that the reason why maybe no Prime Minister or others were prosecuted? Did it also influence the treatment of the relevant political party and prominent party members and/or their cronies?

In my opinion, the Attorney General (who is also the Public Prosecutor) should hold no other offices, positions or interests in other companies/GLCs, etc. In fact, he should have NO other source of income other than his salary and allowances as AG.

I would go further to say that when he becomes AG, it would be good if he also dispossess off all shares/stocks and other investment. Alternatively, there should be no dealings in them for as long as he is AG - freeze of assets. There must also be a FULL DISCLOSURE of all his, his families and close relatives interest, and this disclosure is not a 'secret disclosure' just to the Prime Minister - but rather a public disclosure, that should appear in the Attorney General's website.

Apandi Ali, our new Attorney General (also Public Prosecutor) must now make FULL DISCLOSURE of his assets and interests.

AG Mohamed Apandi Ali must immediately resign from all Directorship, and other positions. He should also declare openly, the amount of monies received to date.

In fact, Malaysia must have a law, that clearly states that the Attorney General(also Public Prosecutor) cannot receive any other monies/remuneration/allowance from any other sources. Of course, he should not be a Director, Board Member, etc...

In fact, the law should also state the same for the Prime Minister, Ministers and those holding public office - their income for so long as they hold office must only come from their salary and allowance of the office they hold. If they are Member of Parliament, they are entitled to receive also their MP pay and allowance. 

In Thailand, a Prime Minister was removed because he received some payment for taking part in a TV cooking show. Such clear provisions in law is good for Malaysia - so no more can RM2.6 billion end up in their accounts?

Malaysia, in my opinion, also has a bad reputation when it comes to prosecuting persons linked to government and government personalities, or rich. Kasitah Gaddam & Eric Chia - Prosecution's failure to call witnesses - Was it just incompetence OR....?

Remember also that Malaysia's Federal Constitution guarantees equality - "All persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law.".Now, was Najib Tun Razak treated in the same was as any other suspect?

One member of the Cabinet suggested that workers get more than 1 job to get more income. But, this should not apply to the Attorney General/Public Prosecutor, Judges, Prime Minister, Chief Ministers, Menteri Besars, Cabinet Members, State Exco, Heads of government departments, and public servants generally. The perception of independence is very important...



Ex-AG Gani quashes speculation on GLC appointment

Published     Updated  

Former attorney-general Abdul Gani Patail has refuted speculation about his appointment to the board of wholly-owned Minister of Finance Incorporated subsidiary Sarawak Hidro Sdn Bhd.

In a text message to Malaysiakini, Gani said he was appointed “long before the investigation into 1MDB”.
A check with the Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM) also confirmed that he was appointed in October 2014.

According to the company website, Gani was listed as its chairperson.

This information made the rounds on social media with some posts querying if this is the reason behind his silence since being replaced as attorney-general last July.

Gani, who was then heading a joint task force investigating 1MDB, was replaced on grounds of poor health.
The move came in the wake of the Wall Street Journal and whistleblower website Sarawak Report exposing the RM2.6 billion and SRC International’s RM24 million which were transferred into Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak’s private bank accounts.

The reports were based on documents leaked by Malaysian investigators.

This ignited speculation that Gani was removed in order to impede investigations, which the government denied.

On Tuesday, Gani’s successor Mohamed Apandi Ali cleared the prime minister of any wrongdoing based on the investigation papers submitted by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

Najib has repeatedly denied abusing public funds for personal gain and blamed the allegations of corruption against him on those plotting to topple him from power.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Parti Rakyat Malaysia(PRM) says 'NO' to TPPA - PRM Menolak TPPA

Kenyataan Media – 27/1/2016
PRM Menolak TPPA

Parti Rakyat Malaysia(PRM)  dengan  tegasnya   menolak TPPA.

TPPA mula  dirangka dan dirunding dalam kotak hitam oleh 500 “penasihat” syarikat   multinasional terbesar dunia pada 2005 di bawah inisiatif pentadbiran  Presiden Bush.

PRM telah mengambil kira teks Perjanjian, dan  hujahan mengenai kebaikan TPPA dan  keburukan TPPA. Walaupun ada perkara yang mungkin baik bagi sesetengah pihak, nyata juga terkandung banyak aspek yang akan membawa kesan negative kepada banyak pihak lain.

Menurut seorang professor  political economist Amerika yang pernah menjadi Menteri Buruh di bawah pentadbiran Presiden Bill Clinton Robert Reich, antara 29 bab TPPA, hanya 5 bab menyentuh perdagangan, selebihnya meletak had-had (restrictions) pada kerajaan anggota TPPA, menyusutkan kualiti persekitaran, merendahkan standard keselamatan makanan dan orang-perseorangan atau berkenaan polisi dan peraturan kewangan, tenaga, cuaca dan sebagainya. Dengan TPPA, kuasa baru akan diberikan dan dipertingkatkan kepada syarikat multinasional yang kawal semua sumber di dunia.

Justeru, demi menerima apa yang baik, PRM tidak boleh bersetuju kepada perkara yang tidak baik yang akan memberikan implikasi buruk kepada rakyat Malaysia keseluruhannya pada masa akan datang. Oleh sebab itu, PRM menolak TPPA.

TPPA ada  peruntukan mengenai pelaburan dan mekanisme penguatkuasaannya, iaitu klausa Penyelesaian Pertikaian Pelabur-Negara (‘Investor State Dispute Settlement’ (ISDS)).

Klausa ini memberikan pelabur asing di Malaysia satu kaedah tuntutan gantirugi undang-undang yang baru, dan  hak perlindungan luar biasa dan tambahan berkenaan pelaburan dan keuntungan mereka iaitu satu  tribunal yang akan mendengar tuntutan mereka. Tribunal ini bukan di Malaysia tetapi di luar negara. Mereka boleh mencabar polisi dan undang-undang baru Malaysia yang dilaksanakan untuk melindungi kesihatan dan kebajikan rakyat dan alam sekitar yang  akan  menyekat  keuntungan mereka.

Hak  untuk ambil tindakan terhadap kerajaan Malaysia di tribunal luar negara ini tidak  diberikan kepada pelabur, syarikat dan perniagaan milik rakyat Malaysia. Ini adalah diskriminasi terhadap rakyat Malaysia yang hanya boleh ambil tindakan di Mahkamah  Malaysia terhadap kerajaan Malaysia. Ini tidak adil. Apa-apa tuntutan terhadap kerajaan Malaysia oleh syarikat asing harus di buat  Mahkamah Malaysia.

Pemberian hak ini kepada pelabur asing serta risiko bahawa Malaysia  akan disaman di tribunal luar negara jika Malaysia melalui undang-undang atau polisi melindungi  rakyat  dan pekerja tidak boleh diterima langsung. PRM, setelah melihat impak peruntukan ISDS yang terkandung dalam perjanjian lain yang telah dikuatkuasakan yang  akan menyebabkan negara takut membawa polisi dan undang-undang baru  menjaga kebajikan rakyat dan negara.

Contohnya, jika Malaysia cuba menaikkan gaji minima pekerja selepas menandatangani TPPA,  Malaysia boleh disaman berjuta-juta atau berbillion ringgit oleh syarikat asing kerana menghakis keuntungsn mereka. 
Risiko klausa ISDS bukan lagi teori atau kemungkinan sahaja, kerana sudahpun berlaku di negara Mesir yang disaman syarikat Peranchis berasaskan klausa ISDS. Kerajaan  Kanada , Amerika Syarikat, Argentina, Australia, El Salvador  atau Guatemala disaman oleh syarikat multinasional kerana melaksanakan undang-undang atau polisi yang dikatakan menghakis  keuntungannya.

Perjanjian TPPA dikatakan akan menyebabkan barangan, produk dan perkhidmatan luar negara lebih mudah masuk ke dalam pasaran Malaysia, lalu membawa kesan positif, dan mungkin rakyat akan dapat lebih akses kepada  lebih banyak pilihan dan juga lebih murah. Menurut laporan berita,  sebanyak 30% peniaga dan syarikat Malaysia terpaksa tutup kedai. Petani juga akan terjejas sekiranya hasil tanaman mereka tidak dapat bersaing  dengan produk sama yang datang dari luar negara. Justeru, TPPA harus ditolak demi kepentingan rakyat Malaysia.

PRM mahu rakyat Malaysia diutamakan dalam  perniagaan, bukan sekadar  menjadi pekerja, ataupun hanya menjalankan perniagaan francais,  dan sebenarnya syarikat memberikan francais mmilikan luar negara. KFC dan 7 Eleven  adalah contoh syarikat Amerika Syarikat. 

Pelabur atau syarikat asing  biasanya hanya mencari keuntungan dan tidak tetap di Malaysia. Justeru, ini memberikan impak serius kepada pekerja yang tidak ada mempunyai jaminan kerja dan pendapatan, serta juga syarikat tempatan yang memberikan khidmat kepada syarikat asing ini kerana bila-bila sahaja mereka boleh berpindah ke negara lain..

PRM juga ingin menyatakan bahawa perjanjian yang telah ditandatangani kerajaan BN Malaysia sudah memberikan kesan negative. Kini perniagaan asing boleh membawa masuk semua pekerja utama mereka dari luar. Ini bermakna tiada pemindahan  teknologi dan kemahiran kepada rakyat Malaysia. 

Perjanjian dahulu juga sudah menamatkan kewajiban bagi pelabur asing gunakan peratusan tertentu ‘bahan tempatan atau local content’. Kini  kesan TPPA akan lebih teruk daripada kesan perjanjian yang ditandatangani kerajaan BN Malaysia.

Banyak pakar juga telah meluahkan kebimbangan akan kesan kemudaratan TPPA terhadap hak kesihatan dan hak kehidupan pengguna, terutamanya kesusahan akses kepada ubat-ubatan  pada kadar yang munasabah atau produk yang selamat; hak bekerja dan hak di tempat kerja; hak untuk menikmati taraf hidup yang memadai, termasuk akses kepada tempat tinggal, makanan dan air yang selamat; hak terhadap harta intelek; hak kumpulan minoriti tertentu dan kewajipan negara untuk melindungi mereka contohnya kanak-kanak, terutamanya yang miskin, dan juga Orang Asli.

PRM juga ingin menyatakan bahawa kerajaan Malaysia dalam hal perkara TPPA harus menjaga kepentingan semua rakyat Malaysia, bukan hanya kepentingan syarikat dan golongan tertentu sahaja seperti syarikat milik kerajaan dan GLC. Adalah kewajiban kerajaan negara menjaga kepentingan dan kebajikan rakyat dan syarikat Malaysia yang berbilang bangsa dan agama.

Justeru, PRM tetap dengan pendirian membantah Malaysia menandatangani TPPA, dan seterusnya meratifikasi TPPA.

Koh Swe Yong
Setiausaha Agung PRM

Source: PRM Blog

PRM Menolak TPPA


Thursday, January 28, 2016

EPF:- Workers suffer again BN Government proposes reduction of EPF contribution?

Najib Tun Razak and the BN government is now proposing that the workers contribution to the Employees Provident Fund(EPF) will be reduced by 3%. 

Sounds great - but wait a minute. This would mean that the amount of monthly monies paid into the Worker's EPF Account would reduce...and this is not right as the EPF is the 'Simpanan Hari Tua' (Savings for old age) - this money is to sustain the livelihood of the worker and his family/dependents in their old age when the worker is no longer able to work and earn....until the day he/she dies.

Public servants generally will get pensions right up to the day they die, and thereafter pension will still be paid out to their spouses, and children who have yet to reach the age of majority. These workers, under the EPF scheme, do not have this guaranteed pension payments. It will be the money that they have in their EPF accounts that is expected to support them in the old age.

As it is, it has already been acknowledged, that for most workers in Malaysia, the amount of money that will be in their accounts will now be insufficient to be able to provide for the livelihood of the worker in his old age, In fact, I believe the government is trying to deal with this very real problem with some form of a 'pension scheme' - but it is all work in progress.

So, this BN government is asking poor workers to reduce the save for their old age - and spend that money now. This is so irresponsible.

If Najib is saying that the workers mandatory contribution is reduced by 3%, whilst the employer's contribution is increased - which results in the same amount of monthly contribution to the EPF accounts, then it is OK.

If Najib is saying that the worker's mandatory contribution is reduced by 3%, and the government will bank in the said 3%- which results in the same amount of monthly contribution to the EPF accounts, then it is OK.

But certainly not, this 'save less for your old age' proposal is absurd, and at the end of the day, it is workers under the EPF/KWSP scheme that loses out in the long run.

WHY? So workers will have more money to spend to help the Malaysian economy. This logic was also used in the past by the BN government in the past - when they started allowing workers to take out money from the 'old age savings account'(EPF Account) to spend now for houses, etc...Then also, the rationale, I believe, was to ensure that more money will be spend now by these workers for the sake of the Malaysian economy... 

How much really should a worker be having in his/her EPF account when he/she reaches 55/60/65 to allow him to be able to survive and sustain his/her and dependents livelihood until he/she dies? RM250,000 - RM300,000? Well, we know that for most workers, they will not have even that amount. Factor in the ever increasing cost of living, and also the other monthly loan-repayment obligations. Some workers who purchased homes, will still be repaying loans even after they reach the age they can withdraw from the EPF (old age savings account).

A perusal of the workers, who have already withdrawn from the EPF account, will also show that many of them now do not enough money to sustain their lives until they die.

Hence, Najib's proposal is short-sighted and do not take into account the future lives of workers and their families.

Remember, the EPF scheme affects all private sector workers - and, this BN government, has been shown to be not bothered. While, government employees minimum wages are raised now to RM1,200, the private sector minimum wage will be raised maybe in the middle of the year to just RM1,000. Government employees have COLA[Cost of Living Allowances], private sector workers do not have this. Government employess enjoy access to very low interest loans, but private sector workers do not.

Government employees generally enjoy regular employment until retirement - but in the private sector the government is allowing the unfettered rice of precarious employment practices - short fixed term employment contracts, the unjust contractor for labour systems,...

Now, Saudi Arabia allegedly gave Najib a RM2 billion 'donation' - but he allegedly returned a large amount of it to the donor - that could have been donated by Najib Tun Razak to the government...?

Our target must be that the workers earn MORE and that is sufficient for the livelihood, and for their spending now. They should not be forced, to reduce the contribution to their 'savings for their old age'.

It is the government itself that is to be blamed for the increase of cost of living - so, what needs to be done is to reduce that, so the monies earned by workers now is sufficient...

When a worker takes a loan, he pays high interest to the bank - but if he saves his money in the bank, he receives such low interest. Then, the government allowed banks to impose other charges for withdrawals, for bank statements, etc .. In short, it looks like the Malaysian BN government discourages savings and encourages spending...and for the future of the worker and their family, this smells trouble...

So, Malaysia must increase subsidies for the basic minimal items required by the worker and family for survival. 

Maybe, the government should abolish road tols... reduce water and electricity rate...

Maybe, the recent increase in MP, Senators and ADUNs allowances should be reduced... PM and Ministers pays should be cut. GLC CEOs, Directors and

Sadly, the rich feels it not - but please do consider the majority who are poor... 

Worker earning RM1,000 - with reduction of EPF contribution by 3%, he will take home an extra RM30 a month, RM360 a year. 

RM360 a year - with, say an EPF interest of 6%, he gets  RM21 in interest per year.

So, happily the government said that all this will be spent - RM8billion. Hello, that is the workers' money not being saved but spent... 

REVISED BUDGET 2016: Workers’ EPF contribution cut 3%

EPF contribution by employees will be reduced by 3% under the revised Budget 2016. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, January 28, 2016.EPF contribution by employees will be reduced by 3% under the revised Budget 2016. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, January 28, 2016.


Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced the following measures under Putrajaya's recalibration of Budget 2016:
  • EPF contributions by employees to be reduced by 3% from March this year until December 2017. Contribution rate by employers, however, remains the same.
  • Najib said the reduced contributions would boost spending by an estimated RM8 billion.
  • Tax exemption of RM2,000 for Malaysians earning RM8,000 and below for the financial year of 2015, a move that would affect two million tax payers.
Food and cost of living
  • To reduce the cost of daily food items, approved permits (APs) for agricultural products, including coffee beans and meats, will be liberalised.
  • The Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority (Fama) will open MyFarm outlets to sell produce direct from farmers to consumers at prices between 5 to 20% cheaper.
  • Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry to increase the number of affordable shopping outlets like hypermarkets.
  • RM50 incentive for every metric tonne of rice for paddy farmers.
  • MyBeras programme introduced – 20kg of free rice for every registered hardcore poor household.
  • GST to remain at the same rate (6%).
  • Cash aid programme BR1M will be continued: "The government will not compromise on what is right for the country and people," Najib said.
  • For new housing developments, sale of houses priced not more RM300,000 to be limited to first-time house buyers.
  • Bank Simpanan Nasional and Bank Rakyat to offer assistance packages at 4% for homes costing RM35,000 under the People's Housing Projects or PR1MA.

Human resources
  • 30% of levy contributed to the Human Resources Development Fund will be used to improve workers' skills and competency, including for those retrenched.
  • Government to continue fine-tuning foreign worker management system. Foreign workers' levy will be clustered into two categories but will not include domestic helpers.
  • To implement a relocation and rehiring programme for undocumented workers so that they can get valid work permits.
Datuk Seri Najib Razak addresses senior government officials in Putrajaya today to announce changes to Budget 2016. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Afif Abd Halim, January 28, 2016.Datuk Seri Najib Razak addresses senior government officials in Putrajaya today to announce changes to Budget 2016. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Afif Abd Halim, January 28, 2016.Improving revenue collection
  • Government to increase action against tax evaders; late-filing penalties to be reduced.
  • Sale of alcohol and cigarettes on tax-free islands to be limited to licensed, tax-free stores, in order to reduce leakage of up to RM1 billion in revenue.
  • Tighten taxes on exemptions for imported vehicles on tax-free islands.
  • Optimise revenue from telecommunications by redistributing bidding processes.
  • Develop government-owned strategic areas through a bidding process. 
Development spending
  • Priority to be given to affordable housing, hospitals, schools, roads, public transportation and security.
  • Non-physical projects and projects that are still at planning stage will be postponed. This move is expected to save the government RM5 billion.
Civil service and government-linked companies
  • Government to keep its promise of July 1, 2016 additional salary increase for civil servants.
  • Government will not touch civil service emoluments and will not stop the services of contract staff in the public sector.
  • GLCs urged to reduce salary gap between top management and staff. This will be monitored by the Economic Planning Unit.
  • Government to keep its promise of July 1, 2016 additional salary increase for civil servants.
Education and scholarships
  • Government to continue the following four Public Service Department (JPA) scholarships for 2016:
1. The National Scholarship Programme (Program Biasiswa Nasional) will allow 20 top SPM-scorers to pursue their studies in universities abroad;
2. The Engineering Special Programme (Program Khas Kejuruteraan) for 200 students to pursue their studies in Germany, France, Korea and Japan;
3. The Bursary Programme (Program Lepasan Bursary) for 744 students to pursue their undergraduate degrees in public and private higher education institutions in the country; and
4. Scholarships for 8,000 students to pursue undergraduate degrees locally.
  • The National Higher Education Fund Loan (PTPTN) allocation of RM5 billion will remain.
  • Offers to enroll in MyMaster programme to increase by 15,000, MyPhd by 5,000 and IPTA (public universities) Academic Training Scheme by 300. Government to boost allocation by RM300 million.
  • MyBrain1 and the Bumiputera Academic Training Scheme will be continued. – January 28, 2016.
- See more at:

Thursday, 28 January 2016 | MYT 12:11 PM

Najib presents revised 2016 Budget

PETALING JAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak (pic) has announced a revised Budget 2016 to optimise the country's developmental and operational expenditures in the face of slower economic growth.

The revised budget will include precautionary and proactive measures in managing national revenue and expenditures, while ensuring that the well-being of the people remained a priority.

Najib said the recalibration is necessary due to a slump in global oil prices and a slower economic growth in the United States and China.

When Budget 2016 was unveiled in Parliament last October, the crude oil price was at US$48 (RM203) per barrel.

However, the current price per barrel stands at US$30 (RM127), a sharp fall since the Budget was presented.

- The 2016 global economy expected to be more challenging and economic groweth expected to fall from 3.6% to 3.4%.

- Malaysia not alone in facing global economic challenges. Current crude oil price stands at US$31 (RM131) per barrel.

- Latest developments indicate that the global economy is at a very volatile stage and requires a proactive move to revise Budget 2016.

- We are not in a recession, neither are we in a technical recession.

- Eleven recalibrated measures announced.

- 1. EPF contributions by employees to be reduced by 3%. This is expected to increase private sector spending by RM8bil.

- 2. Tax relief of up to RM2,000 to those with income RM8,000 a month or lower. Two million taxpayers to benefit.

- 3. To reduce cost of living, Govt to liberalise APs for agricultural products including coffee beans and meats.

- 4. Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry ordered to increase enforcement and action against unethical traders.

- 5. 30% of contributions to the human resource development fund to be utilised for skills training, including those who are unemployed.

- 6. MyBeras programme to be introduced until Dec 2016. Each hardcore poor family will be given 20kg of rice every month.

- 7. The Government will update the management system of foreign workers, with levies clustered into two categories, not including foreign maids.

- 8. Government will exercise prudent spending on supplies and services and to continue with grant rationalisation.

- 9. Development budget to focus on projects and programmes that place the people first, have high multiplier effect and reduce imports.

- 10. Development financial institutions and Government venture capital funds to increase allocations by RM6bil for benefit of start-ups and SMEs.

- 11. GLCs urged to implement initiatives to reduce the income gap between senior management and workers, to be monitored by the Economic Planning Unit.

Najib said Thursday's recalibrated budget was based on the approach of "shared responsibility" by certain segments of society.

He said lower-income groups will not be affected, and continue to benefit from measures such as the 1Malaysia People's Aid (BR1M).

"The present rate of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) will also be retained at 6%. The Government has no plans to increase this," said Najib at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC).

He also said that Malaysia would not resort to imposing capital controls and pegging the Ringgit, such as was done during the 1997-1998 financial crisis.

"The Government remains committed to maintaining the fiscal consolidation measures for 2016, which is to achieve a GDP target of 3.1%.

"Our country's debt will be reduced and will not exceed 55% of the GDP. The Government also has no plans to impose capital controls and peg the Ringgit," he said.

Najib also made mention of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), which had been debated at a special Parliamentary sitting on Tuesday and Wednesday.

He provided assurances that with the signing of the free trade agreement, there would be no compromise on the country's sovereignty.

"The Bumiputera agenda remains intact. In fact, it is no longer a national agenda. With the TPPA, it has reached a global scale," he added. - Star, 28/1/2016

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

AG Apandi Ali - Director of LUTH? Was this 'gratification' for how he dealt with criminal allegations against PM? Explain please..

Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali, is the Public Prosecutor of Malaysia. As such,  his duty is to prosecute persons who allegedly commit offences in Malaysia. His is not to judge the guilt or innocence - that it the role of the Courts and judges.

A public prosecutor is not a Judge - but somehow, this former Judge, seems to be uncertain about his role.

As Public Prosecutor, he does not have the right to pass judgment on the guilt or innocence of Najib Tun Razak, for that is the duty of the Courts. He should confine himself to just saying that there was no evidence, or 'insufficient evidence' for the prosecution to charge Najib Tun Razak in court for corruption. The case remains 'open' - for maybe in the future sufficient evidence may be found.

In fact, it was reported that he did say that.. there was insufficient evidence to implicate the Prime Minister. For me, that would mean that there was some evidence and not enough... and, as such the case is still open. Maybe, in the future, when there is 'sufficient evidence', the Public Prosecutor can still proceed and charge Najib Tun Razak for corruption..

Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali, who is also public prosecutor, today told a packed press conference at his office in Putrajaya there was “insufficient evidence” to implicate the prime minister.

It would be good for Malaysians to have access to the full statement of the Public Prosecutor. Reliance only on news reports may not give the full picture. 

I hope to discuss further on this matter about the law and other related matters in a later post. 

For, now I would like to say that I am most disturbed with another media report saying that Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali has been made a Director in Lembaga Urusan Tabung Haji(LUTH).

I checked the LUTH website, and it is true that he is listed as a member of the Board of Directors [But no indication as to when the appointment happened]-

This is scandalous because, amongst others, this may generate a negative public perception:-

a) That the appointment of the AG as Director of LUTH (most so if he is also paid Director's allowances, etc) can be perceived as a form of 'gratification' for the way he handled(or was handling) the investigation on the possible corruption of Najib Tun Razak, and the 1MDB related matters. If so, the AG Apandi Ali himself may have himself committed an offence of corruption - and, who will be investigating and deciding whether to prosecute or not the Public Prosecutor Apandi Ali?

b) Now some people in LUTH are been alleged to be linked to 1MDB (based on an earlier report by Malaysiakini), and that the LUTH itself may be involved in the 1MDB (or transactions of 1MDB and/or its subsidiaries).

c) As the Attorney General of Malaysia, also the Public Prosecutor, it is so wrong for him to be holding any position in any other companies, statutory bodies, etc... - It surely may affect his independence in his work as Public Prosecutor. Being a Director of LUTH, how will be deal with allegations against LUTH, or any of its Directors/officers/etc?    

* Well, it may be shown later, that this appointment happened long ago before he even became the AG of Malaysia, but then he was a Judge. It does not matter, in my opinion, for no Judge also should be sitting as a Director of any company or statutory body. When appointed Judge or AG, he should have immediately resigned his Directorship? He should just have one job - and one source of income only - that is, being AG or judge.

I believe, when someone becomes a Judge or the Attorney General, there must be full disclosure of his/her and immediate families interest, and this information should be made available online on the relevant website. 

In fact for an AG(Public Prosecutor), Judges and senior public officials, I believe, there must be a 'cooling off' period of at least 3 years even after their retirement before they accept such positions in companies, statutory bodies or government. 

Perception of independence is most important in the administration of justice, and government administration. 

I recently heard that our former AG is currently doing his pupilage in a law firm, as a step to be admitted to the Bar. He can maybe be admitted to the Bar, but I do not think it is right for him to commence practice thereafter, at least not until the "cooling off" period has lapsed.

So, I call upon AG Apandi Ali to provide an explanation. He must also immediately RESIGN as the Director of LUTH. I also want him to tell us whether he received any monetary or benefit being a Director of LUTH. I would suggest that he immediately returns the said monies - or better still, pass it on to our financially struggling government.

AG Apandi Ali named as a Tabung Haji director

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Attorney-general Mohamed Apandi Ali has been appointed to the board of directors of Lembaga Tabung Haji.

He is listed as a director of the pilgrimage fund on its website.

This comes as the fund is reported to have slipping reserves, raising alarm among its depositors.

"Yes, we can confirm the appointment of Apandi Ali on Tabung Haji's board of directors recently," Tabung Haji communications and public affairs division general manager Anis Zuhani Ahmad told The Malaysian Reserve.

Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki this morning assured that all is well in Tabung Haji, and further details will be released later today.

He said this in response to a leaked letter allegedly from Bank Negara Malaysia warning Tabung Haji of its slipping reserves.

BNM warned that this could undermine the fund's ability to pay dividends, which could result in mass withdrawals from depositors.

The news also comes as Apandi announced that no charges will be made against Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.

This is regarding the RM2.6 billion found in Najib's bank accounts and RM42 million alleged to be channelled to Najib from state-owned firm SRC International.

Apandi said all the cases are now closed. - Malaysiakini, 26/1/2016,


No criminal offence over RM2.6 billion in Najib’s accounts, case closed, says A-G

Datuk Seri Najib Razak has been cleared of any criminal wrongdoing, the attorney-general said today, after close to six months of investigations into the RM2.6 billion channelled into the prime minister’s bank accounts and into Finance Ministry-owned firm, SRC International Sdn Bhd.

Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali, who is also public prosecutor, today told a packed press conference at his office in Putrajaya there was “insufficient evidence” to implicate the prime minister.

“Based on facts and evidence, no criminal offences have been committed by the PM in relation to three investigation papers.

“I hereby order the MACC (Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission) to close the investigation papers,” 
Apandi said. 
The three papers are one on the RM2.6 billion donation and two on SRC International which had taken a RM4 billion loan from the Retirement Fund Inc or KWAP. Apandi today also cleared Najib of any wrongdoing in relation to SRC International.

Apandi said that based on evidence from witnesses and supporting documents submitted by the MACC, the sum of US681 million (RM2.08 billion) deposited into the personal accounts of the prime minister between March 22, 2013 and April 10, 2013 was a personal donation to Najib from the Saudi royal family which "was given to him without any consideration".

"MACC in their investigation personally met and recorded statements from witnesses, including the donor, which confirmed that the donation was given to the PM personally," he said.

Apandi said he was satisfied that there was no evidence to show that the donation was a form of gratification given corruptly.

"Evidence obtained from the investigation does not show that the donation was given as an inducement or reward for doing of forbearing to do anything in relation to his capacity as a prime minister," said Apandi who read a statement from a prepared text.

Furthermore, the A-G said the prime minister returned US$620 million (RM2.03 billion) to the Saudi royal family in August 2013 because the money was not utilised.

“There (is) no evidence to show that Yang Amat Berhormat PM had any knowledge and, or was informed that the monies had been transferred into his personal accounts from the accounts of SRC International.

“There (is) no evidence that YAB PM had given any approval for the transfer of monies from the account of SRC International into his personal accounts,” Apandi said.

Based on the evidence, the A-G said he was satisfied that no criminal offence had been committed in relation to the said RM2.08 billion.

MACC last year opened investigations following reports in The Wall Street Journal and Sarawak Report in July last year alleging that of the RM2.6 billion donation, RM42 million had originated from SRC International, a subsidiary of Najib’s brainchild, 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB).

This was according to documents on the money trail provided by Malaysian investigators, WSJ and Sarawak Report said.

A larger tranche of US$681 million was also transferred ino Najib’s accounts, originating from a British Virgin Islands company and going through Falcon Private Bank in Singapore, they reported.
MACC had recorded statements from more than 100 witnesses, including Najib and the individual who allegedly gave RM2.6 billion.
The agency first submitted investigation papers to the A-G on December 31, and had the papers returned with requests for more explanations on January 18. It resubmitted the papers last week.
MACC’s deputy director of operations Datuk Sri Mohd Shukri Abdull earlier said the RM2.6 billion probe was still incomplete as investigators needed to collect documents and statements from individuals from several overseas financial institutions.
Shukri said the commission filed a request with the A-G to obtain mutual legal assistance (MLA).
Apandi said today since no criminal offence had been committed, there was “no necessity” for Malaysia to make a request for an MLA to any foreign states to complete the investigation by the MACC in relation to the donation. – January 26, 201, Malaysian Insider..

AG says no criminal offence committed in relation to SRC, RM2.6bil donation

PUTRAJAYA: The Attorney-General’s Chambers has found that no criminal offence was committed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in relation to SRC International and the alleged RM2.6bil donation.

Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali said at a press conference Tuesday that he found no evidence to show that the donation was "an inducement or reward for doing or forbearing to do anything in relation to his capacity as Prime Minister".

"Based on the evidence from witnesses and supporting documents submitted, I am satisfied that no criminal offence has been committed in the relation to the said donation," said Apandi.

He said the donation, which was actually RM2.08bil, was a personal donation from the Saudi royal family and given without any consideration.

On the two investigation papers on SRC International, Apandi said there were no evidences to prove that Najib had any knowledge nor had he given any approval for the transfer of the monies from the account of SRC International into his personal accounts.

"Based on the facts and evidences as a whole, I as the Public Prosecutor am satisfied that no criminal offence has been committed by the Prime Minister in relation to the three investigation papers.

"I will return the relevant investigation papers to MACC today at noon with instructions to close the three papers," he said. - Star, 26/1/2016


The Tabung Haji trio with 1MDB links

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Three top officials in Tabung Haji are directly involved with debt-laden 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB), which raises the question of conflict of interest in a recent deal involving the two entities.

Yesterday, Tabung Haji admitted that it is acquiring a plot of land in the Tun Razak Exchange site from 1MDB for a sum of RM188 million.

This sparked controversy because it is widely known that 1MDB bought the land for the Tun Razak Exchange project from the federal government at a price that was far below market value.

Following this, Umno Youth and Umno supreme council member Saifuddin Abdullah zeroed in on the fact that this deal could be tainted by conflict of interest.

The three figures are:

Ismee Ismail

Ismee is the Tabung Haji group managing director and CEO. He also sits on the 1MDB board.

Johan Abdullah

Johan is the Tabung Haji deputy group managing director and deputy CEO.

He is also the chairperson of 1MDB subsidiary Edra Global Energy Sdn Bhd.

Edra acquired power assets from Powertek (formerly known as Tanjong Energy), Genting Sanyen and Jimah.

Abdul Samad Alias

Abdul Samad sits on the Tabung Haji investment panel.

He also sits on the 1MDB advisory board, which is chaired by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak. - Malaysiakini, Updated 23/5/2015