13:41 28May09 RTRS-Q+A-Why is Malaysia Port Klang scandal important?

  1. KUALA LUMPUR, May 28 (Reuters) - Malaysia's government is to unveil later on Thursday an independent auditors report into the construction of a free trade zone in Port Klang, a project aimed at boosting capacity in the port.
  2. What started off as a 1.8 billion Malaysian ringgit ($516.2 million) project has ballooned into one which could cost more than 10 billion ringgit following an acrimonious pullout by the project's Dubai-based international partner. The issue raises the question of risk foreign investors face when doing business in Malaysia. It has been used to attack the integrity of the government by the opposition at a time when Malaysia's new prime minister is still reeling from losses in the 2008 general election.
  3. The port authority is due to release the auditor's report at 3.30pm (0730GMT). Some members of the ruling coalition have been pressing for disclosure to prevent the project from tarnishing the government's image. Transparency in the way Malaysia does business will be a major factor in whether it can attract much-needed foreign direct investment.
  4. WHAT IS PKFZ? - The Port Klang Free Trade Zone (PKFZ) started as a joint venture between the Port Klang Authority and the promoters of the Jebel Ali Free Trade Zone in 1999 to attract foreign investment and promote Malaysia's main ports situated near Kuala Lumpur.
  5. HOW DID THE SCANDAL UNFOLD? Land for the project was acquired by a company, Kuala Dimensi, whose shareholders include senior politicians from the ruling United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the lead party in the National Front coalition that has ruled Malaysia for 51 years, as well as politicians from other Front component parties.
  6. The port authority reportedly ignored advice from the government chief legal adviser and bought the land from the company in 2002 for 1 billion ringgit, or about 25 ringgit per square foot, compared with the 3 ringgit per square foot which the company acquired the land for.
  7. The company was later awarded sole rights to develop the zone without competitive bidding. Kuala Dimensi later raised funds through the issuance of bonds backed by the Transport Ministry.
  8. PricewaterhouseCoopers was later called in by the Port Klang Autrhority (PKA) to prepare a report amid mounting public anger. PKFZ came under public scrutiny due to its escalating cost. Previously, the government had said the project would not cost more than 4.6 billion ringgit. On 5 May, MPs briefed by the authority told reporters that the cost of the project could exceed 10 billion ringgit.
  9. WHY DID THE FOREIGN PARTNER PULL OUT? Jebel Ali Free Zone Internation (Jafza), the Dubai-based company appointed to managed PKFZ terminated its 15 year-contract, withdrew from the project in July 2007, citing "strategic purposes". A newspaper report on Jafza's pullout, which cited documents relating to the project, said the separation was acrimonious and due among others to interference by politicians and others with vested interests.
  10. BOND LIABILITIES The Port Klang Authority (PKA) paid RM1.09 billion for the land to be settled over 15 years in a deal that was backed by a government guarantee and Kuala Dimensi sold bonds worth 1.3 billion ringgit. Kuala Dimensi sold 1.4 billion ringgit of bonds, again backed by a government guarantee to develop the site. Two more tranches of bonds with a total face value of more than one billion ringgit were then sold.
  11. POLITICAL DIMENSION - The heads of the PKA have all been senior leaders from the Malaysian Chinese Association, the second largest party in the National Front coalition. Among its board members, Kuala Dimensi has Azim Zabidi, who was a one-time treasurer of UMNO. Tiong King Sing is director of Kuala Dimensi and treasurer of the Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party, another member of the coalition.
  12. Also involved in the project are a former UMNO youth leader from Selangor state, Faizal Abdullah, whose father-in-law, Onn Ismail, is another influential figure in Selangor UMNO, was a former chairman of the cooperative that sold the land to Kuala Dimensi. (Reporting by Razak Ahmad; Editing by Valerie Lee)

18:57 27May09 RTRS-UPDATE 1-Malaysia economy slumps in Q1 most in decade

* Biggest annual fall in GDP since Asian financial crisis * HSBC says GDP dropped s/adj 5.1 pct from previous quarter * Short-term, economy relies on global recovery * Longer term, Malaysia looking at economic reform (Adds quotes from central bank, analysts) By Loh Li Lian and Soo Ai Peng
KUALA LUMPUR, May 27 (Reuters) - Malaysia's economy shrank by 6.2 percent in the first quarter from a year ago, the central bank said, the largest fall since the fourth quarter of 1998, and it will likely contract by the same amount in the second quarter.
The fall was more than the 4 percent drop predicted in a Reuters poll although it was smaller than declines seen in neighbouring Singapore, where the economy contracted 10.1 percent in the same period, and Thailand's 7.1 percent fall. "Despite early signs of improvement... (the second-quarter will be) very similar to the first quarter," Bank Negara Governor Akhtar Aziz told a press conference on Wednesday.
The government has already said it will revise down its forecast that Asia's third-most export-dependent country would shrink by 1 percent at most this year. Malaysia's short-term growth hopes rest on a global recovery boosting demand for its electronics, oil and commodities exports and on Chinese demand holding up, thanks to that country's huge budget stimulus.
But after a prolonged period of not hitting its economic growth targets, which had envisioned the country joining the club of rich nations like fellow Asian tiger South Korea, Malaysia is now looking at big reforms to its economic model. Zeti stressed that some measures had already been taken and the data released on Wednesday showed that domestic consumption contracted by just 0.2 percent from a year ago, compared with a 15.2 percent drop in exports in the quarter.
Public sector consumption rose 2.1 percent from a year ago, reflecting the country's initial timid stimulus package that was later augmented by a 60 billion ringgit ($17.21 billion) boost in March. HSBC calculated that in seasonally adjusted terms, Malaysia's economy shrank in the first quarter by 5.1 percent from the fourth quarter but it doubted the GDP data would prompt any action from the central bank.
"The central bank will have known the GDP number when it opted to leave the overnight policy rate unchanged at yesterday's meeting," economist Robert Prior-Wandesforde said in a note referring to the central bank's decision to leave rates unchanged at 2 percent.
REFORM? Longer-term it wants to boost domestic demand and diversify into services so as to reduce its dependence on what are often low value added products made using cheap migrant labour.Malaysia's economy has grown less quickly than anticipated over a long period of time and economists say that its biggest challenge is taking advantage of the current global downturn to abandon ethnic-based policies that critics say have hampered growth and encouraged graft.

The country's current economic plan envisioned average annual growth of 6.0 percent between 2006-10, a figure that has only been achieved in 2007. If the economy contracts by 1 percent this year annual average growth from 2006 will be just 4.14 percent, a Reuters calculation shows based on annual published data.
"In my view, Malaysia needs to urgently fine-tune its economy and design a whole new growth model that is not too dependent on exports or even FDIs (foreign direct investment), giving a bigger role to domestic demand to play as a major growth engine," said Azrul Azwar Ahmad Tajudin, economist at Bank Islam in Kuala Lumpur.

At the same time as implementing economic reforms and reinvigorating the National Front coalition that has ruled Malaysia for 51 years, Prime Minister Najib Razak will soon have to deal with a debt overhang due to pump priming. The budget deficit in Malaysia is expected by the government to hit 7.5 percent of gross domestic product in 2009 and new bond issuance will be in the region of 90 billion ringgit, investment banks estimate.

Even if there is a global rebound, Malaysia's government is dependent on oil for about 40 percent of its revenues. The only way to bridge the fiscal gap, given the political and economic risks of raising new taxes and of cutting government spending, is a bold set of economic reforms, including ending an entrenched system of economic privileges for the country's majority ethnic Malay population.
The policies have done little to reduce inequality and Malaysia has the most unequal income distributions of any Asian country outside Papua New Guinea, United Nations data shows."This would be crucial... not just in positioning the country for more accelerated growth in the future, but also as a sound method to tackle the fiscal deficit problems in the country, which is threatening to balloon out of proportion if insufficient attention is paid to it," Citigroup said in a recent report.

Pergolakan Politik Yang Banyak Membuang Masa, Tenaga Dan Buah Fikiran

  1. Satu-satunya perkara yang kita boleh bersetuju dengan apa yang berlaku di Perak adalah ianya satu kekecohan yang menuntut begitu banyak masa, tenaga dan buah fikiran untuk satu tujuan, iaitu tujuan yang sia-sia dan tidak bermanfaat. Biarlah di pihak mana pun kita, dan apapun perspektif kita terhadapnya, percayalah, ianya satu yang sia-sia.
  2. Begitu banyak persoalan, jawapan, debat dan bahas yang dilakukan oleh mana-mana stesen tv, seminar, majlis penerangan, ceramah-ceramah semi -politik hanyalah untuk tujuan yang sia-sia. kesungguhan dan ketajaman daya fikir panelist-panelist juga adalah untuk sesuatu yang sia-sia.

Kalau Mencari Tempat Mandi Dan Kalau Mencari Pemimpin Sejati

Kalau mencari tempat mandi
pertama teluk, kedua pantai
Kalau mencari pemimpin sejati
Pertama elok, kedua pandai
  1. Di atas itu satu pantun lama, panduan orang Melayu terdahulu kepada generasi akan datang. Berdasarkan isi dan susunan pantan itu, terbukti sudah masalah mencari pemimpin ini memang menjadi satu masalah yang besar kepada orang Melayu. Maka, orang-orang Melayu lama, (mungkin zaman kesultanan Melaka) sepakat untuk meninggalkan pesan kepada anak-cucu mereka dimasa depan, faktor-faktor utama yang diperlukan untuk memilih pemimpin secara amnya agar dapat melindung dan menyelamatkan agama, harta benda, tanah-tanah dan maruah orang Melayu.
  2. Elok itu, pastilah elok serba serbi. Namun, bagi aku, pemimpin itu tak perlulah pandai serba-serbi. Kalau pandai serba-serbi pun tak jadi apa, kalau buduh serba-serbi pun tak jadi apa. Yang penting, elok serba-serbi. Fikirannya elok, Perasaan dan belasnya elok, jiwanya besar, mendahulukan orang lain dari anak-beranak sendiri (dalam hal-hal meluluskan kontraklah.)
  3. Bagi yang bergelut di Perak itu, ada baiknya dikenang-kenang pantun di atas. Kalau dikenang-kenang, lama-lama muncul juga rasa bersalah kamu itu. Muncul juga rasa haram-jadah kamu itu. Lama-lama, muncul juga rasa ralat yang teramat sangat.
  4. Cukup-cukuplah mendera dan memperbuduhkan orang melayu. kelangsungan politik bukan lagi terletak ditangan ibu-bapa, tetapi terletak ditangan anak-anak mereka. Adakah kamu tengok statistik pecahan umur rakyat Malaysia yang baru? Bagian umur 21-40 tahun adalah yang terbesar sekali. Bagian ini ada pusingannya, dan tetaplah pusingan itu begitu. Dalam setiap 50 tahun, sekali datang pusingannya. Kamu perlu fikir balik, dalam tempoh 10 tahun belakang ini, kamu itu silapnya dimana. Bukannya mencari silap orang itu dimana.
  5. Cara mehnah berpolitik kamu ini sekarang amat berbahaya kepada diri kamu sendiri.
  6. Kembalilah kepada yang haq. Yang batil dan Haq itu terpisah dengan garisan kebenaran yang jelas. Disebabkan itulah ianya tidak tercampur. Jika tercampur sekalipun, yang batil pasti musnah. Aku takut kamu sendiri terlupa dan jauh dari sedar bahawasanya yang kamu itu adalah di pihak yang batil.
  7. Tinggalkanlah yang batil, kembalikanlah yang Haq.

Kong-Kali-Kong: Mengapa Perlu Dipanjangkan Kacau Celaru Ini Tuan?

  1. Wahai tuan yang budiman, apa perlu kita membuat kacau celaru sampai sebegini rupa? Banyak sangatkah tanah-tanah, projek-projek, tender-tender, komisen-komisen yang hendak direbut-rebut? Atau adakah kerana pentingnya maruah kepartian dari maruah perjuangan? Atau, kekuasaan dan keupayaan memerintah itu, memerintah ini, memang melampau manisnya, sampai berduka setiap ketika jika terlepaskannya?
  2. Wahai tuan-tuan yang budiman, yang dipilih, dipilih sudah. Yang belot, sudah pun membelot. Yang huru-hara, sudah pun huru hara. Yang diputuskan mahkamah, sudah tertulis sudah. Yang menyondol merayu itu buat apa? Mengapa cuba mengeruh dihulu sedang dihilir sudah mula menjernih? Kalau setakat mengukuhkan kuasa itu, tidak mengapa, tetapi jangan sampai melupakan hakikat.
  3. Haram tidak bercampur dengan halal. Kalau kepalanya haram, ekor halal, dikira haram seluruhnya. Kepala halal, ekor haram, dikira haram seluruhnya. Semalam dah tentu haram, hari ini halal, tetap dikira haram. Semudah itu, walaupun di'halal'kan oleh sumpah.
  4. Perlembagaan kata apa? MB asal yang sah. Istana kata apa? Istana kata MB baru yang sah. Rakyat kata apa? Kalau diikut keputusan PRU 12, rakyat kata MB asal yang sah. Nampak tak kat mana yang tak kena untuk krisis politik sekarang? Ya, tiadanya kata putus oleh rakyat. Oleh itu, jangan bertangguh lagi siapa yang bergelar jantan, sahutlah seruan rakyat, sebab rakyat memang sudah lama menunggu-nunggu hingga khabarnya sudah ada yang siang-malam mengigau nak memangkah.
  5. Jangan bertangguh-tangguh!

Nizar Dan Zambry: Sepatutnya Ada Lagu Khas Untuk Mereka Ini.

  1. Mahkamah Tinggi di sini mengisytiharkan Datuk Seri Mohamad Nizar Jamaluddin sebagai Menteri Besar Perak yang sah, bukannya Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir. Keputusan itu dibacakan Hakim Mahkamah Tinggi (Bahagian Rayuan dan Kuasa-Kuasa Khas), Datuk Abdul Aziz Abd Rahim, di sini, sebentar tadi.
  2. Ini yang dikatakan yang dikendong berciciran (ya, tercicir) dan yang dikejar tak dapat. Dan inilah juga yang dikatakan cencaru makan petang. Bila semuanya nampak sudah tinggal nak membasuh tangan, datang lagi satu hidangan yang tidak kurang enak dari sebelumnya. Mungkin tambah manis. Jadi dingatkan, jangan makan banyak sangat, nanti jadi gumuk dan terpaksa masuk 'The Biggest Loser', gila rancangan ni, dari segumuk-gumuk manusia jadi sekurus-kurus manusia.
  3. Sayembara politik Zambry-Nizar ini baiknya bila dilagu dan dipuisikan, selayakknya sayembara agung dunia yang lain. Siapa yang disisi gelap, dan siapa disisi putih, biarlah pendengar yang menilainya. kedua-duanya bukan strategis ulung, dan kedua-duanya pun bukan politikus ulung. Dalam papan catur, mereka ini hanya kuda yang boleh diperkudakan. tetapi, persoalannya oleh siapa?
  4. Kini, Perak pasti bergolak semula. Strategi pasti disusun. Naga Chini sudah terbangun tidur. Harimau Malaya sudah tercedera. Gajah berjuang sesama sendiri, pelanduk juga ditangkap ISA. Mohon perlindungan agar Negeriku dijauhkan musibah. Mohon perlindungan kemurnian akal dan kelembutan tatasusila masih mengakar dalam diri mereka.
  5. Sekarang, siapa tertindas, siapa menindas?


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