Monday, January 12, 2009

Will The K.T. Electorate Vote For Change?

Will The K.T. Electorate Vote For Change? - Laman M@RHAEN By: Kim Quek Jan 12, 2009

In the most daring act to bribe the electorate of Kuala Terengganu (K.T.) to date, Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak dished out 583 government contracts in a “lucky draw” fashion to each and every Class F contractor present at the Wisma Darul Iman in Kuala Terengganu on Jan 10, the fifth day of the K. T. by-election campaign.

These contracts (valued between RM 30,000 to RM 200,000 each), which were claimed to be for infrastructure works in the local township, were distributed in random by having the contractor to come on stage to click on the computer. And upon pressing the button, a contract would be awarded to the contractor, details of which – nature of works and contract price - would instantly appear in a big screen in the hall. Thus the contractor would walk home with his “prize” (a contract with a pre-determined price), with no question asked on his track record or suitability for the works assigned.

Najib Razak, who launched these innovative awards, proudly claimed this as “a world record”, saying that “In this lucky draw, everyone wins. Every one gets a contract.” He further added that if Barisan Nasional wins in the coming Kuala Terengganu by-election, there would be more and bigger such contracts, so that the Class F contractors (confined to Malays, for small contracts) would “continue to make money and the country’s economy would continue to grow”.
While Najib may be entitled to claim he has scored “the world’s first” for having satisfied every one of the hundreds of contractors present, few can share his pride over such bizarre method of disposing government infrastructure projects.

For a start, contracts for infrastructure works are usually awarded gradually over a period of time, as and when the needs for such works arise, as determined and initiated by the engineers and the local authorities. These contracts are never awarded in a torrent of hundreds within a single day any where in the world. Granted that this may be part of the stimulus package announced earlier to counter current economic hardship, there is no possible justification to cram such a staggering number projects in one go, especially when these are confined in a small township like Kuala Terengganu. Needless to say, massive wastages and redundancies will be the inevitable consequences.

Then, what about the track records and skill compatibility of the contractors with respect to the projects at hand? Without proper interview and scrutiny of the awardees, how can the government be certain that the projects are awarded to the right contractors?

Next, there is the question of price. Without tenders or negotiation, how can the government ensure fair pricing? In fact, over-generous pricing is expected, or else Najib would not have said: “I see everyone present here is jubilant and clapping his hands, every one has got a government contract, how can they be not grateful to the government and not strongly support Barisan Nasional?” (Sin Chew, Jan 11)

It is clear that this “lucky draw” award of contracts is an irresponsible act of public squandering aimed at inducing voters to support BN. For this move, BN was promptly condemned by the National Institute of Electoral Integrity as abusing government machinery to dish out financial benefits during election campaign.

Deplorable as the act is, this is but one of an endless series of similar monetary inducement amounting to tens of millions of ringgit in the form of cash payments and allocations handed out by BN in the K.T. constituency since the run up to polling which will be held on Jan 17.

In fact, on the same day (Jan 10) as Najib handed out the “lucky draw”, he also handed out RM 8 million to 20 religious schools, which are mainly located in Terengganu state.

Recognizing the minority 8,787 Chinese votes (11% of total) as pivotal in this election, the Chinese community has been bombarded almost daily with allocations and cash payments totaling no less than RM 12 million, such as:
RM 3.3 million for construction of a new community hall.
RM 2.8 million for furbishing a completed hall in a Chinese school.
RM 3 million for 10 Chinese schools
RM 2.7 million cash distribution to 9,000 Chinese for the coming Chinese New year (this annual payment was brought forward to reap the goodwill of Chinese electorate for the coming poll).
Miscellaneous payments to temples, guilds and other communal bodies.

All these financial bonanzas, handed out within the few days since nominations on Jan 5, are clearly intended to induce voters to vote in favour of the BN candidate, and therefore constitute “bribery” as defined in paragraph 10 of the Election Offences Act 1954, for which the culprits are punishable as prescribed in paragraph 11 of the same Act. Regrettably, the election commission under the new chairman Abdul Aziz Yusof, who vowed to ensure clean and fair election, has remained silent over these BN offences. Neither has the newly formed Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), which prides itself as a replica of the famed Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) of Hong Kong, appears to have been stirred by such glaring corrupt practices.

Such monetary assault on the electorate, combined with the daily brainwashing by BN’s propaganda machines, also known as the main stream media (local newspapers and TV channels), has once again made a complete mockery of our election as cornerstone of a democratic system of government.

With all the institutions tasked to uphold the rule of law either unwilling or incapable of fulfilling their constitutional roles, it is now left to the 80,000 electorate of Kuala Terengganu to play as guardians to uphold justice and democracy by disciplining the wayward ruling party with a negative vote.

In this connection, it is heartening to take note of how the neighbouring Kelantan state has valiantly fought off similar corrupt assault by UMNO/BN for the past two decades. Under the corruption-free administration of PAS, the people of Kelantan, who are almost completely Malay Muslims, have proven themselves to be people of high moral fibre as they have successfully overcome the persistent coercion and temptation presented by the UMNO/BN federal government through abuse of federal authority and improper monetary inducement. No doubt, their devotion to Islam, which abhors corruption as a grave sin, must have been an important factor that contributes to their moral courage.

Will the Terengganu Muslim constituents, who form 88% of the K.T. electorate, prove to have the same moral strength as their Kelantan brothers by rejecting the decadent values of UMNO/BN?

And will the minority Chinese constituents gaze beyond the immediate monetary gains to vote for change – a change that would mean the rejection of a defunct political power and one step closer to turning a new leaf for the nation?

Coming at a time of power transition following the political tsunami of the 8 Mar 2008 elections, the outcome of this K.T. by-election will have significant impact on the future direction of country’s political development. It is therefore earnestly hoped that the people of K.T. will rise to the occasion to make the right choice for the nation.

- Kim Quek

Monday, July 14, 2008

Sabah migrant workers often deported after polls: labor leader

Sabah migrant workers often deported after polls: labor leader


An Asian trade unionist said the mass repatriation of undocumented migrants in Sabah crops up when Sabah politicians don't need voters, but disappears during elections when politicians need their votes.

"They only deport the undocumented migrants in Sabah after the elections," Ambet Yuson, a Filipino regional director of the global union, Building and Wood Workers International (BWI), said in an interview with

Yuson will be representing this global union in a migration forum to be conducted by international civil society organizations, which will coincide with the United Nations Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) in October.

Yuson likened the situation of undocumented migrants in Sabah to those of informal settlers in Metro Manila cities. During an election campaign, all of their issues are addressed by politicians. But the dwellings of these squatters are no longer safe after an election season.

Many Filipinos, mostly from the southern-most Mindanao provinces go to Sabah to work, mostly as plantation workers, forestry and wood workers, Yuson said.

A study on Malaysian labor by the BWI placed the number of legal foreign workers in Malaysia as of end 2006 at 1.85 million, of whom 22,000 were Filipinos.

The BWI study estimated that undocumented foreign workers have reached half a million, who work mostly in Sabah.

The BWI study said Malaysia’s total legal workforce has reached 11.3 million out of a total population of 26.75 million.

Growing foreign workforce

In 2006, Malaysia began to feel a labor shortage. Malaysian Human Resources Minister Dr. Fong Chan Onn then said Malaysian employers "were submitting a large number of applications monthly to the Home Affairs Ministry to employ more foreign workers."

"If this problem (of labor shortage) is not addressed now, it is highly probable that the number of foreign workers in this country may well exceed five million by 2010," he said.

Yuson said foreign workers account for about 16 percent of the total employed work force. They are in manufacturing (22.48% or 591,363), plantation work (22.68% or 412,923), domestic work (17.54% or 319,383), construction (15.51% or 282,361), services (8.84% or 161,015), and agriculture (2.95% or 53,635).

According to BMI figures, "we can conclude that Malaysia is the largest importer of labor in the region."

Timber industry

Yuson said most wood workers in Malaysia are in Sabah and Sarawak.

More than 70 percent of the 154 plywood mills are located in Sabah and Sarawak.

For moldings, out of the 177 mills in operation, 85 are in Sabah and 26 in Sarawak.

The downstream processing mills for the production of moldings, fiber board, BCJ as well as furniture and furniture components are mainly located in Peninsular Malaysia. These mills mainly utilise rubber wood (Malaysian Oak), which are sourced from sustainable plantations.

The timber industry is one of the sectors contributing significantly to the Malaysian economy.

Malaysia is one of the major countries exporting tropical wood products, especially to Europe, Japan, Thailand, Singapore and the Middle East.

Total export earnings of wood-based products from Malaysia amounted to RM21.4 billion in 2005 compared to RM19.7 billion the previous year.

In 2003, the industry generated about 4.4% of total export earnings, and Malaysia was the world's third leading exporter of logs after Russia and the United States. It was also the second largest exporter of plywood after Indonesia and eighth leading exporter of sawn timber.

The timber industry’s contribution to the country’s GDP is approximately 5%. It offers job opportunities to about 337,000 people or nearly 3.4% of the country’s work force.

Highly dependent

The industry is highly dependent on foreign workers.

The wood-based industry in Malaysia can be classified into wood and wood products, and furniture fixtures. The wood and wood products sub-sector includes saw milling, plywood/veneer and blackboard, moldings, builder carpentry and joinery, and reconstituted wood-based panels.

Currently, there are more than 5,000 manufacturers involved in the industry. It is estimated that more than 80% of these companies are SMEs and predominantly Malaysian-owned.

The SMEs in the wood-based sector provide the largest employment followed by the food and textiles sectors.

The wooden furniture sub-sector is one of the major contributors in the wood-based industry, accounting for 33 percent of total export earnings in 2005 for the wood sector.

In 2004, Malaysia exported RM5.4 billion worth of wooden furniture mainly to the USA, United Kingdom, Japan, Australia and Singapore.

Malaysia is the world's 10th largest exporter of furniture and the third in Asia after China and Indonesia, with exports to more than 160 countries.

Malaysian furniture companies numbering more than 2,000 are mainly located in Peninsular Malaysia. A high concentration of furniture establishments are in Johor (Muar and Kluang), Selangor (Klang and Sungai Buloh) and Melaka (Bukit Rambai).

The size of these mills ranges from 1,000 to 130,000 square meters. The number of workers employed by these plants ranges from 30 to 1,300 workers with 70% of factories employing between 100 to 200 workers.

The total workforce is about 150,000 to 170,000 and almost 90% are migrants from the Nepal, Vietnam, Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Seperti Medan Perang: Polis Bersenjata Kepung Parlimen

Isnin, 14 Julai 2008

Seperti medan perang! Begitulah gambaran situasi di Parlimen hari ini berikutan kepungan polis. Dengan anggota bersenjata mengawal setiap laluan menuju ke mercu rakyat tersebut, ratusan dan mungkin ribuan kereta ditahan, diperiksa dan dipaksa mengambil laluan lain menuju destinasi masing-masing.

Dari dalam premis Parlimen, kumpulan-kumpulan peronda terdiri tiga anggota pegawai keselamatan bersenjata sub-mesingan meronda dan memantau pergerakan wartawan dan Ahli-Ahli Parlimen.

Di Dewan Rakyat, Pakatan Rakyat mempersoalkan keperluan kawalan ini, walaubagaimanapun ia dihalang Speaker Parlimen Pandikar Amin Mulia. Katanya, risikan pihak berkuasa memaklumkan pentadbiran Parlimen bahawa wujudnya anasir-anasir tertentu yang berkomplot untuk mengadakan demonstrasi di Parlimen.

Atas nama keselamatan, Pandikar berkata pihak Pakatan Rakyat tidak perlu mempersoalkan keputusan Ketua Polis Negara mengerah anggota polis bersenjata, unit anti-rusuhan dan polis trafik mengepung kawasan Parlimen.

Pakatan Rakyat bagaimanapun berkata Menteri Dalam Negeri Syed Hamid Albar yang hadir di Dewan Rakyat hari ini menjelaskan kepada Parlimen siapa, dan atas bukti apa, yang kononnya akan menganjurkan demonstrasi itu.

Ketua Whip Pembangkang Azmin Ali berkata tuduhan bahawa Pakatan Rakyat akan menganjurkan demonstrasi tersebut berniat jahat, dan ia cubaan provokasi dari pihak BN. Jelas beliau lagi, sekatan-sekatan ini dibuat bagi menghalang Ketua Umum KeADILan Anwar Ibrahim dari menghadiri perbahasan Parlimen hari ini.

MP Lim Kit Siang juga berkata sekatan ini telah menyalahi Peraturan Parlimen kerana kepungan ini menghalang pergerakan wakil rakyat ke Parlimen. Ia juga menyebabkan laluan trafik di Lembah Klang menuju Pusat Bandar Kuala Lumpur hampir lumpuh.

Syed Hamid Albar bagaimanapun mendiamkan diri.

Usul Pakatan terhadap PM ditolak

Jul 14, 08 12:03pm
Usul tergempar hilang keyakinan pada perdana menteri yang dibawa oleh ahli-ahli parlimen Pakatan Rakyat ditolak sebentar tadi.

Yang dipertua Dewan Rakyat Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia menolak usul yang difailkan oleh ketua pembangkang Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

Usul itu diserahkan untuk dibahaskan Khamis lalu.

Gabungan pembangkang - Pakatan Rakyat - mengemukakan usul tidak percaya terhadap Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Antara lain, usul tersebut menyatakan bahawa pilihanraya umum ke-12 menyaksikan tsunami politik apabila lima negeri dan Wilayah Persekutuan jatuh ke tangan Pakatan Rakyat dan BN gagal mempertahankan majoriti dua pertiga di Dewan Rakyat.

Menurutnya, BN mencapai kemenangan tipis dengan memanipulasi Suruhanjaya Pilihanraya (SPR) dan melalui pembohongan.

Harga minyak pula, tambahnya, dinaikkan dengan tiba-tiba selepas pilihanraya walaupun timbalan perdana menteri Datuk Seri Najib Razak - ketika melancarkan manifesto pilihanraya - berjanji ia tidak akan berlaku.

Manakala ahli-ahli parlimen BN, katanya, yang menolak sikap tidak bertanggungjawab pemimpin mereka, telah diancam dan dipaksa berdiam diri.

Perkembangan tersebut, tambahnya, telah menimbulkan krisis keyakinan terhadap perdana menteri dan anggota kabinetnya.

Rakyat, menurut usul itu lagi, berdepan dengan beberapa krisis seperti kenaikan harga bahan bakar makanan.

Menurutnya lagi, keyakinan rakyat terhadap polis, peguam negara dan badan kehakiman telah merosot, dan jenayah dan rasuah semakin meningkat.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

'Komplot' 3 Tan Sri batal dakwat kekal

'Komplot' 3 Tan Sri batal dakwat kekal
May 22, 08 1:42pm

Pembatalan dakwat kekal menjelang pilihanraya umum lalu hasil "komplot" tiga badan utama negara untuk "menggagalkan usaha memastikan pilihanraya itu tidak dicemari penipuan", dakwa Gabungan Pilihanraya Bersih dan Adil (Bersih).
Dalam laporan polisnya, jurucakap gabungan itu Faisal Mustaffa mendakwa usaha terancang itu melibatkan
pengerusi Suruhanjaya Pilihanraya (SPR) Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman,
peguam negara Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail dan
ketua polis negara Tan Sri Musa Hassan."
Saya meminta agar pihak berkuasa Polis Diraja Malaysia untuk membuat penyiasatan ke atas pengerusi SPR, perdana menteri dan ketua polis negara demi kepentingan seluruh rakyat Malaysia," kata Faisal.
Aduan polis itu dibuat di ibu pejabat polis daerah Dang Wangi, Kuala Lumpur pagi tadi.
Minggu lepas Abdul Rashid mendedahkan, kabinet memutuskan pada hari pembubaran parlimen 13 Februari untuk menolak pelaksanaan dakwat kekal di jari pengundi dalam pilihanraya umum 8 Mac.
Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi pada hari yang sama bagaimanapun menafikan kabinet mengarahkan suruhanjaya itu berbuat demikian.
Tahun lalu SPR bersetuju melaksanakan langkah tersebut dalam pilihanraya umum ke-12 tetapi kemudian membatalkannya empat hari menjelang pengundian dengan alasan keselamatan.
Kira-kira RM2.9 juta dibelanjakan untuk membeli 48,000 botol dakwat tidak mudah padam dari India tetapi pelaksanaannya dibatalkan kerana bimbang wujud unsur sabotaj seperti telah dikesan oleh polis.
Menteri keselamatan dalam negeri Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar minggu lepas memberitahu Dewan Rakyat bahawa SPR membatalkan cadangan dakwat kekal berdasarkan "bukti khabar angin".
Abdul Rashid juga mendedahkan bahawa kabinet telah terpengaruh dengan maklumat polis bahawa wujud parti-parti politik yang membeli sendiri dakwat-dakwat kekal dari luar negara.
"Saya dimaklumkan bahawa PAS di pantai timur membeli dakwat dari Thailand.
Kemudian Umno mendapat tahu (mengenainya) dan Umno juga membeli dakwat tersebut.
"(Maklumat) ini diberikan kepada saya secara hitam putih oleh polis dan laporan yang sama diberikan kepada kabinet dan mereka (menteri) percaya ia memang benar-benar wujud," katanya Sabtu lepas di satu seminar di Universiti Islam Antarabangsa (UIA).
Dalam aduan polisnya, Bersih melampirkan 12 keratan akhbar berhubung kontroversi ini, termasuk laporan Bernama, The Star dan Malaysiakini.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Status Siasatan Isu Dakwat Kekal SPR Dipersoal

Status Siasatan Isu Dakwat Kekal SPR Dipersoal

Ditulis oleh MatStringer
Friday, 09 May 2008

Bermula daripada cadangan penggunaan, hinggalah keputusan pembatalannya, isu penggunaan dakwat kekal pada kuku dalam pilihan raya umum Mac lepas terus menjadi topik hangat dalam kalangan ahli politik tempatan.

Laporan Bernama hari ini menyatakan setelah genap dua bulan pilihan raya umum berlalu, seorang anggota Parlimen membangkitkan pula persoalan yang didakwa masih tidak terjawab, iaitu status siasatan isu berkenaan dan di mana dakwat yang menelan belanja RM2.4 juta itu berada?

Fong Po Kuan (DAP-Batu Gajah) ketika membahaskan usul terima kasih atas titah Yang Dipertuan Agong hari ini menuntut agar penjelasan terperinci diberikan kepada anggota Parlimen mengenai status siasatan yang telah dibuat."

Dulu alasan yang diberikan ialah untuk ketenteraman dan (supaya) proses pilihan raya berjalan lancar. Kononnya cadangan untuk guna dakwat tidak boleh diteruskan kerana wujud individu tertentu yang telah membawa masuk dakwat dari negara jiran untuk membuat kacau dan menipu dalam pilihan raya itu."

Tiada keterangan saksi, tiada individu, sindiket atau pihak tertentu yang dikemukakan dan akhirnya ia dikatakan hanya khabar angin.

Bila kertas siasatan dirujuk ke kamar Timbalan Pendakwa raya pada 14 Mac, dalam masa tujuh hari (21hb Mac) kes diklasifikasikan sebagai "no further action" (tiada tindakan lanjut), siapa telah menipu di sini?" soalnya.

Pengerusi Suruhanjaya Pilihanraya (SPR) Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman ketika mengumumkan keputusan membatalkan penggunaan dakwat kekal pada kuku dalam pilihan raya lepas berkata ia dibuat berikutan nasihat undang-undang dan bagi memastikan keselamatan serta ketenteraman awam.

Pembatalan itu juga dibuat setelah siasatan polis mendapati ada cubaan pihak tertentu membawa masuk dakwat itu untuk diguna pada hari pengundian bagi menimbulkan kekeliruan dan syak wasangka mengenai status pengundi berkenaan.

Fong mahu anggota dewan diberikan bukti kukuh sehingga pihak polis boleh membuat kesimpulan adanya pihak tertentu yang berhasrat membuat plot untuk menipu dalam pilihan raya itu.

Beliau juga membangkitkan persoalan mengenai apa yang terjadi kepada dakwat berkenaan kerana ia hanya mempunyai tempoh hayat selama enam bulan