Congrats to Tommy Thomas, our new Attorney General.

(5-6-2018)

Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V has given his consent to the appointment of Tommy Thomas as the new attorney-general.Comptroller of the Royal Household Wan Ahmad Dahlan Abdul Aziz said His Majesty had, on the advice of Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, given his consent to the appointment according to Article 145 (1) of the Federal Constitution.

“The Yang di-Pertuan Agong also called on all Malaysians to accept that the appointment of the attorney-general should not create religious or racial conflict as every Malaysian should be fairly treated regardless of race and religion,” he said.In a statement dated June 4 and issued by Istana Negara to Bernama early this morning, Wan Ahmad Dahlan said the appointment would continue to preserve the special rights and privileges of the Malays and Bumiputeras, as well as the status of Islam as the the federal religion.“After taking into account the opinions of the Malay Rulers on (i) the appointment of attorney-general, (ii) the rights of Bumiputeras and (iii) the roles of the Council of Rulers as stated under Article 153 of the Federal Constitution, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong also consented to Apandi Ali’s termination of service as attorney-general by the federal government,” he said.Wan Ahmad Dahlan also said that Sultan Muhammad V had expressed his disappointment and worry about inaccurate and negative media reports of late which could threaten peace and harmony in the country.

“His Majesty said that he has an obligation to uphold the Federal Constitution and preserve the special rights of the Malays and Bumiputeras, as well as to protect Islam,” he added.Dr Mahathir Mohamad had recently proposed to nominate renowned lawyer Thomas as attorney-general to replace Apandi.

Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V telah memperkenankan pelantikan Tommy Thomas sebagai Peguam Negara.Datuk Pengelola Bijaya Diraja Istana Negara Datuk Wan Ahmad Dahlan Abdul Aziz berkata atas nasihat Perdana Menteri Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Agong telah menitahkan perkara itu mengikut Perkara 145 (1) Perlembagaan Persekutuan.“Ke bawah Duli Yang Maha Mulia Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong XV menyeru semua rakyat Malaysia untuk menerima bahawa pelantikan Peguam Negara Malaysia tidak patut menimbulkan konflik ke atas kaum atau agama, kerana semua rakyat Malaysia harus dilayan dengan adil tanpa mengira bangsa dan agama,” katanya.

Dalam kenyataan bertarikh 4 Jun yang dihantar Istana Negara kepada Bernama awal pagi ini, Wan Ahmad Dahlan berkata Agong bertitah bahawa pelantikan tersebut tetap memelihara hak keistimewaan orang Melayu dan bumiputera serta kedudukan Islam sebagai agama Persekutuan.”Setelah mengambil kira pandangan Duli-Duli Yang Maha Mulia Raja-Raja tentang pelantikan (i) Peguam Negara Malaysia, (ii) hak Bumiputera serta (iii) peranan Majlis Raja-Raja di bawah Perkara 153 Perlembagaan Persekutuan, Kebawah Duli Yang Maha Mulia Seri Paduka Baginda Tuanku juga memperkenan penamatan perkhidmatan Tan Sri Mohamad Apandi Ali sebagai Peguam Negara oleh kerajaan Malaysia,” katanya.Wan Ahmad Dahlan berkata Yang di-Pertuan Agong turut menzahirkan rasa dukacita dan bimbang terhadap laporan media yang tidak tepat dan bersifat negatif kebelakangan ini, yang dilihat boleh mengancam keamanan dan keharmonian Malaysia.“Seri Paduka Baginda menitahkan bahawa baginda mempunyai kewajipan untuk menegakkan peruntukan-peruntukan Perlembagaan Persekutuan dan memelihara hak-hak orang Melayu dan Bumiputera serta melindungi agama Islam,” katanya.

Baru-baru ini, Dr Mahathir telah mencadangkan peguam terkemuka Tommy Thomas sebagai calon Peguam Negara bagi menggantikan Mohamad Apandi, kepada Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

In a new Malaysia, mosque opens doors for a multi-faith buka puasa

(4-6-2018)

IN rural Sungai Acheh in Nibong Tebal, Penang, reconciliation in a new Malaysia began as some 30 non-Muslims learnt the meaning of Ramadan.They had never been inside a mosque, let alone joined Muslims to break their fast in one. They did not know that they could, until yesterday evening.Youth group Penggerak Komuniti Muda (Peka) in Penang had organised a gotong-royong and buka puasa at Masjid Jamek Sungai Acheh in Nibong Tebal.Some of its Chinese members helped locals cook “bubur lambuk” at the mosque in the afternoon and went into Kg Sungai Chenaam with their Muslim friends to distribute the porridge door-to-door.

“I had never helped people cook in a mosque before. It was a special experience,” Tunku Abdul Rahman College student Chuah Tiong Yee, 21, a Peka member said.The quantity surveying student said his takeaway from the event was that he learnt why Muslims distributed bubur lambuk (rice porridge) during Ramadan.”Giving the porridge means sharing good will, extending well wishes…it is like why we Chinese give mandarin oranges during Chinese New Year. I thought ‘wow’,” he said.Another Peka member, engineer Ho Man Yee, 27, said she felt happy helping out at the mosque and learning about the traditions of Ramadan.”It was my first time breaking fast with Muslims in a mosque. I used to think I couldn’t do this in the mosque as a non-Muslim.”The local community is also very friendly and welcoming. We all worked and helped each other prepare for buka puasa without caring whether we were Muslim or not,” she said.For buka puasa in the evening, the mosque prepared a “nasi talam” style meal, with rice, chicken, mutton and watermelon served in large trays that up to four people will share.

By then, 27 northern region Junior Chamber International (JCI) Malaysia chapter leaders invited by Peka had arrived to join the locals to break the fast. They helped carry the large trays of food to the dining area.Then, Sungai Acheh locals and guests – who also included Permatang Pauh MP Nurul Izzah Anwar, Batu Kawan MP P. Kasthuriraani, Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim, Sungai Acheh assemblyman Zulkifli Ibrahim and Jawi rep Jason H’ng – sat on the floor in small mixed groups and ate together from the trays. JCI Malaysia national executive vice-president Chew Hooi Mei said the chapter presidents and top office bearers had a lot of fun at the eye-opening event, as it was the first time for any of them to enter a mosque to break fast with Muslims. “Such invitations are very rare. This is such a great opportunity to understand the Malay and Muslim culture during Ramadan,” she told The Malaysian Insight. Chew said she hoped this would open new opportunities for JCI, whose members are youths aged 18 to 40, and Peka to work together in multiracial community programmes.

Peka’s Adam Adli Abdul Halim said this Ramadan in a new Malaysia was a good time for reconciliation, and for Malays to give their non-Malay and non-Muslim friends a chance to experience something different.”Someone had said somewhere that the leaders are fine but the people are disunited. In the past, there was little chance to get the people to come together.”Today (yesterday), we are starting from this small community in Sungai Acheh. We should encourage this culture. Even the Quran tells us to make friends and know each other,” he said.

It was also a first time for Peka to organise a multiracial buka puasa event in a mosque.Locals in the predominantly Malay Sungai Acheh were amused that the non-Muslim youths had never been to a mosque and were unused to eating with their hands, but largely enjoyed the interaction.”I want to thank them for coming to join us and helping out,” said Kampung Sungai Chenaam village security and development chairman Hamidah Sahad, 51, who had taken the Peka youths into her village to distribute porridge.Norizan Ishak, 53, who also helped the youths in their door-to-door visits, praised them for making the effort to promote better interracial ties.

In praising the event, Nurul Izzah said mosques were not only houses of worship, but also institutions that built communities.Sim said such events would allow people of different races and faiths to interact, and take part in each others’ cultures actively instead of being mere observers.The DAP MP said the victory of Pakatan Harapan in the 14th general election proved that Malaysians were no longer divided by race and religion.”The first step now is for us to interact personally, like how this buka puasa event has brought Malaysians together, with non-Muslims learning and experiencing what Ramadan means to Muslims, and seeing what a mosque looks like.”At the end of the event, nobody became less Malay, less Chinese, less Indian…we all shared a part of each other, including our saliva,” he joked, referring to the dining style.”This is what a new Malaysian society should be like.” –  June 3, 2018.

Malaysia has $250 billion of debt. The government is trying to crowdfund it.

(3-6-2018)

When Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad unexpectedly won his bid for office in May, he pledged to do his best to find money that went missing in a massive corruption scandal under his predecessor. Former Prime Minister Najib Razak has been accused of stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from a state fund known as 1MDB.

Mahathir’s other priority was get the country’s $250 billion worth of debt under control. And this week, he announced the government had found a way to at least get started: crowdfunding.Within 24 hours, the “Malaysia Hope Fund” raised almost $2 million, the BBC reported.”The rakyat (people) voluntarily want to share their earnings with the government to help ease the burden,” the finance ministry said in a statement, announcing that it would be accepting donations to a special fund set up to help relieve the country’s debt.The ministry asked all willing citizens to donate to the cause. The government hopes it can ride on the wave of patriotism Malaysians are feeling after the peaceful transition of power last month. “There are many Malaysians who were willing to donate to the government when they found out how bad our country’s financial situation is,” the prime minister said. “We welcome their patriotic stand.” The country’s national debt amounts to around 80 percent of its GDP.

The crowdfunding idea started with a 27-year-old named Nik Shazarina Bakti, who recently launched a private crowdfunding initiative to help relieve Malaysia’s debt. She raised around $3,500 before the government stepped in.In a sense, the effort is a version of what she said Malaysians did during their struggle for independence from Britain, when they donated jewelry, money and valuables. It’s also similar to what South Korea did as it attempted to pull itself out of economic crisis in the late 1990s, and regular citizens lined up to donate their most prized possessions to the government, including wedding rings and trophies.

“We can tell our children and grandchildren of this initiative that we all took part in to save Negaraku (my country) Malaysia,” she said.

Pembinaan PFI the next 1MDB?

(31-5-2018)

Goodness gracious, more scams and evil schemes to plunder Malaysia by Najib and cohorts being exposed: Quote KUALA LUMPUR: As the government-owned strategic investment fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) goes under the microscope, DAP has highlighted another company that has accumulated huge debts in recent years. Serdang MP Dr Ong Kian Ming said a little known company owned by the Finance Ministry, Pembinaan PFI Sdn Bhd, recorded RM27.9 billion in debts at the end of 2012, but the amount could have reached RM47.4 billion at the end of 2014.

The spending of Pembinaan PFI did not appear anywhere in any of the federal government’s budget accounts, which meant all expenditure was for “off-budget” items, he said in a statement yesterday. The company’s debts were listed as part of the federal government’s contingent liabilities. “Without accountability on how Pembinaan PFI is spending its borrowings, transparency on how it is servicing its debts, and vigilance from Finance Minister and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, the company can easily turn into another 1MDB,” Ong said. Pembinaan PFI is 99.9% owned by Finance Ministry Inc. The Federal Land Commission (FLC) holds one share in Pembinaan PFI. According to the Auditor-General’s (AG) Report in 2013 (series 3), Pembinaan PFI had the third-highest liabilities among all government-owned entities at the end of 2012. Its total liabilities were RM27.9 billion, behind two well-known companies with huge assets, revenues and profits, namely Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) (RM152 billion) and Khazanah Nasional Bhd (RM69 billion).

“But unlike Petronas and Khazanah, Pembinaan PFI does not have any operational income as shown by the same Auditor-General’s Report,” Ong said. “Its RM1.94 million revenue in 2012 was derived from interest income. This means that Pembinaan PFI cannot service its liabilities without help from somewhere else, namely the federal government.” The DAP MP said although Pembinaan PFI is listed in the AG’s report as having the third-most assets among all government-owned companies, its assets consisting of land leased from FLC. This, Ong said, was part of a complicated deal, where Pembinaan PFI then subleased the land back to the FLC in exchange for rent totalling RM29 billion, which was to be paid over 25 years. “In other words, unlike Petronas and Khazanah, which actually have their own assets, Pembinaan PFI doesn’t really have any real assets of its own. Pembinaan PFI’s liabilities would almost certainly have gone up in 2013. Unfortunately, three months into 2015, Pembinaan PFI still has not filed its company accounts for 2013 at the time of writing.”

Ong also highlighted that Pembinaan PFI also took out a Bai Muajjal Islamic loan facility with the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) on Aug 22, 2014, with a maximum amount of RM19.5 billion. The terms of this facility were not disclosed in Pembinaan PFI’s submission to the Companies Commission of Malaysia, he said. “In the interest of transparency, Najib as finance minister must ensure transparency in the spending, borrowings and debt repayment involving Pembinaan PFI to avoid another 1MDB scandal.” — The Malaysian Insider This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on March 12, 2015.

Cancelling HSR will cost a ‘very large sum of money’ – Dr M

(27-5-2018)

Cancelling the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore high-speed rail (HSR) project will cost the government a “very large sum of money”, says Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.Thus, he said the government is looking into ways to lower the compensation needed to be paid to Singapore should the project be cancelled.

“The terms and agreement for the HSR are such that if we decide to drop the project, it would cost us a lot of money. We have entered into an agreement with Singapore. If we break the agreement, we have to pay a very large sum of money,” Mahathir was quoted as saying by The Edge Weekly. The HSR, worth RM100 billion, is one of several mega-projects initiated by former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak’s administration that Putrajaya is in the midst of reviewing. Another mega-project that could end up on the chopping block is the RM60 billion East Coast Rail Link (ECRL). Mahathir said it was “crazy” that Najib rolled out both projects at the same time.

“He didn’t seem to think about how we were going to pay for all these,” he said. “(He) knew very well that the ECRL, for example, is something we could not afford. It is not going to serve any purpose. It is not going to give us any returns. And yet, he went ahead and decided to build it,” he added. The prime minister said that the ECRL contract was “strange” as Malaysia had to fund the project with a loan from China, while also hiring contractors from that country. However, while the ECRL might be scrapped, the new Mahathir administration is not distancing itself from China.

The South China Morning Post reported that an internal memo from Mahathir dated May 14 to Foreign Ministry secretary-general Ramlan Ibrahim said that “our strong ties with China … will continue to flourish”.