Archive for March, 2007

RM60 million “palace” in Perth for AAB?

March 31, 2007

30/03: Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s RM60 million home in Perth

Category: General

Posted by: Raja Petra -Malaysia-today.net

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said that Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has a RM60 million home in Perth, Australia.

Extract of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s speech in Kulai, Johor, on 29 March 2007 (VIDEO BEST VIEWED WITH BROADBAND)

According to what Malaysia Today found out, the home is in the exclusive and expensive residential area of Mosman Park, overlooking the serene Swan River, and close to the St Hilda’s Anglican high-class all-girls school.

Mosman Park, Western Australia

Mosman Park is one of Perth’s most pleasant, and expensive, suburbs, on a narrow strip of land with Mosman Bay in the Swan River as its eastern border and the city beaches defining the western boundary. To the east of the Stirling Highway, about 14 kilometres south-west of Perth’s CBD, Mosman Park is characterised by expansive homes set in manicured gardens, many with delightful views over the river. Neighbouring it is the equally-prestigious suburb of Peppermint Grove. Popular Cottesloe Beach is just a kilometre or so from the centre of Mosman Park and the great port city of Fremantle, with some of Australia’s most interesting restaurants and watering holes, is just 3 kilometres down the road. Mosman Park’s largest industry could be said to be its education establishments. Within the town council’s narrow boundaries there are no less than six schools, three of which have boarding facilities. When settlers first came to this area in about 1835, the land was thickly wooded with tuarts, jarrahs, red gum, banksia, native pines, hollies and the beautiful peppermint trees which inspired the name of Mosman Park’s neighbouring suburb. Brumbies roamed the area, along with native cats, wallabies and an abundance of birds.

Mosman Park website

St Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls, Mosman Park, Perth, Western Australia


The St Hilda’s Chapel

More on the school here

Khairy: Aussie mansion belongs to PM’s son
Muda Mohd Noor
Apr 3, 07 5:49pm
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Umno Youth deputy chief Khairy Jamaluddin today clarified the allegation that his father-in-law, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, owns a ‘RM60 million’ house in Australia.

According to him, the house belongs to Abdullah’s son and prominent businessman Kamaludin

However, Khairy is not certain about the price of the sprawling mansion located in an elite suburb in Perth.

“May be it (the price) does not reach RM60 million … may be it is lower than that,” he told malaysiakini when met at Machap, Malacca.

Khairy was asked to respond to former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad who recently said a ‘top leader’ in Malaysia has a house worth RM60 million in Australia.

Mahathir, whose ties with Abdullah has been strained since last year, made the allegation during an Umno gathering in Johor last week.

Elaborating, Khairy said the former premier did not provide any proof to back his allegation.

Not afraid of Singapore

The Umno Youth deputy chief denied another claim by Mahathir that Malaysian leaders are afraid of their counterparts in Singapore.

According to him, fear is not a factor and foreign policies are crafted with the interest of the nation taking precedence.

“Malaysia’s foreign policy is based on the principles of strictness and courage with all nations, including Singapore,” he said.

He added that the government cancelled the crooked bridge project, mooted by Mahathir, for the interest of the nation and not because of pressure from Singapore.

The former premier had lambasted Abdullah over this issue and accused his handpicked successor of pandering to the demands of the republic.

Meanwhile, Khairy also stressed that Umno Youth had taken into account the interest of the Malays in Johor in relation to the Iskandar Development Region (IDR) project.

“I have written two articles on the IDR in the local dailies … concerning the benefits and opportunities for them (Malays in the state).

“I have explained what we should be wary of about the IDR and the Free Trade Agreement with the United States,” he said.

“I presume he (Mahathir) did not read the articles, so he does not know,” he added.

Mahathir claimed that the IDR project will allow foreigners to come in and trample over the locals in Johor.

Unhealthy alliance

Asked to comment on the cooperation between DAP and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) for the Machap by-election, Khairy said the opposition parties are lying to each other.

He said in the 1999 general elections, DAP and PKR worked closely together but broke off in the 2004 polls and are now cooperating again.

“If they can lie to each other, they can also lie to the people. They don’t have a formula for themselves, so how can they rule the country,” he added.

In a related development, Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, who was also present in Machap, declined to comment on the RM60 million mansion allegation.

He said the issue has nothing to do with the by-election.

Karpal: Resolve Civil-Syariah overlapping issues

March 31, 2007

DAP Chairman Sdr Karpal Singh, who’s also the MP for Bukit Gelugor, has taken the Umno-led BN Government to task on the issue of ” directing Non-Muslims to seek remedy in the Syariah Courts, thus disallowing them to seek justice with the Civil Courts”.

Karpal is right. It’s not the question of whether the Syariah Courts were able to dispense justice. It’s the rights of the people of different faith not to be subjected to by a set of laws tailored for the Muslims. Such judgement has caused much disquiet and unhappiness among the people of differenth faiths and could be very damaging for our multiracial and multi-religious society. It’s the duty and responsibility of the Umno-led BN Government to resolve this highly sensitive issue.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Cousultative Council on Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism issued a statement on the same matter. I have reproduced the statement by the Chairman of MCCBCHST in this blog.

Karpal Singh: Resolve Civil-Syariah overlapping issue

B.Suresh Ram
The Sun

An opposition Dewan Rakyat member has called on the government to take up and resolve issues involving the overlapping of civil and Syariah court jurisdiction.

Karpal Singh (DAP-Bukit Gelugor) said it was about time the matter be looked at and a solution found.

Referring to the case of R. Subashini, he said it was perplexing that the Court of Appeal could ask the plaintiff, who is a Hindu, to seek remedy in the Syariah Court in regards to the dissolution of their civil marriage and the conversion of their child.

“Does this mean there is an extension of Syariah laws to non-Muslims?” he queried in his debate on a Motion of Thanks on the Royal Address.

Karpal, who is DAP chairman, also said the time had come for Parliament to take up the matter and resolve it.

“This matter, though sensitive, must be discussed in this hall in an objective manner,” he pleaded.

He added this was essential as other similar cases, like that involving the late S. Rayappan, have been on the increase of late.

Touching on corruption and the judiciary, Karpal said Chief Justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim had spoken out against corruption in the Judiciary.

“This shows that there is corruption in the judiciary,” he said, adding that was a need to now establish an Independent Judicial Commission.

Earlier, the wheelchair-bound Karpal took on several BN MPs who criticised him for belittling the King’s speech.

Karpal had said the speech was not the King’s own, because as a Constitutional Monarch, it was the government which drafted his speech. He had said there was no mention of anything on corruption.

Md Alwi Che Ahmad (BN-Ketereh) pointed out that paragraph 40 ofthe King’s speech did touch on integrity and corruption.

Karpal replied: “But there is nothing specifically of cases that were mentioned.”

Karpal refused to give way after being pressed by Md Alwi who then retorted: “You have been here for 20 years and you do not know the rules ah!”

Both BN MPs and opposition MPs then mixed it up.

Deputy Speaker Yusof Yaacob had a tough time controlling the situation, prompting Karpal to tell him: “Can you control these creatures (makhluk)”.

As things began to settle, Karpal touched on the corruption of the national language.

“Bahasa Jiwa Bangsa. However the national language is littered with words corrupted, particularly from the English language,” he said.

He took to task Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka for allowing the national language to be corrupted.

“Are there no other words than coming up with Integrasi, Innovasi or Reformasi. Are all these not from the English language?,” he asked.

“Even when I refer to Tuan Speaker, it is corrupted,” he said much to the amusement of all in the Dewan.

Karpal then targetted Barisan Nasional component leaders, first with People’s Progressive Party (PPP) president Datuk M.Kayveas, saying he was nothing more than a political con man.

“Barisan Nasional in the coming election should give the PPP seats in the Kinta Valley,” he said.

He also criticised Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu and Deputy Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi for not being exemplary leaders.

MAJLIS PERUNDINGAN MALAYSIA AGAMA BUDDHA, KRISTIAN, HINDU, SIKH DAN TAO

MALAYSIAN CONSULTATIVE COUNCIL OF BUDDHISM, CHRISTIANITY, HINDUISM, SIKHISM AND TAOISM

Secretariat: Buddhist Maha Vihara, 123 Jalan Berhala, Brickfields, 50470 Kuala Lumpur Fax 03 22739307 Email: mccbchst@yahoo.com

PRESS STATEMENT ON COURT OF APPEAL DECISION ON SARAVANAN v. SUBASHINI

In the wake of the majority decision of the Court of Appeal in the case of Saravanan A/L Thangathony v. Subashini A/P Rajasingam [Rayuan Sivil No. W-02-955-2006] we, the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism, are greatly disappointed that once again, the non-converting non-Muslim wife of a convert to Islam has failed to get relief from our Civil Courts.

Hitherto, in the case of Shamala a/p Sathiaseelan she was told by the High Court that it had no jurisdiction to declare as unlawful her young children’s conversion into Islam without her knowledge or consent and was advised to seek the assistance of the Islamic authorities.

Then the widow of Everest hero, Sgt. M. Moorthy also failed to get relief from the High Court on the ground of jurisdiction. Following an uproar from civil society, the Right Honorable Prime Minister had declared that although Article 121(1A) of the Constitution would not be amended, laws will be amended to remedy the situation.

Though it has been more than a year since then, there have been no amendments to any law as yet to clarify the jurisdiction of the Courts.

It is our duty to inform the authorities that there is growing discomfort amongst the non Muslim citizens of Malaysia, who form 45% of the population, many of whom feel that the judiciary are failing in their constitutional duty to ensure the equal protection of the law for all Malaysians.

In Subashini’s case, the husband converted to Islam and converted the eldest son, aged 3, to Islam without the wife’s knowledge or consent. The husband then applied to the Syariah Court for custody of the son, again with no notice to the wife. The wife then presented a petition for divorce and ancillary relief and applied to the High Court for an injunction restraining the husband from (i) converting the children of the marriage to Islam and (ii) commencing or continuing with any proceedings in any Syariah Court with regard to the marriage or the children of the marriage.

The High Court initially granted an injunction after hearing only the wife who at that time did not know of the substance of the Husband’s applications in the Syariah courts. This injunction was continued whilst the case was heard in the High Court. After the husband submitted his evidence, and after the High Court heard both parties, it refused to give the injunction. However, the High Court granted an interim injunction to the wife pending the hearing of an appeal to the Court of Appeal, known as an “Erinford Injunction”.

The majority decision of the Court of Appeal dismissed the wife’s appeal and set aside the Erinford Injunction with costs, effectively shutting the door on Subashini’s rights as a mother to prevent the Syariah court making a determination as to her marriage and as to the custody of her children.

To add to her problem, the majority have ruled that Subashini, a non-Muslim, must apply to the Syariah Court, instead of applying to the High Court. Of particular concern to us is the statement by YA Dato’ Hasan Lah, JCA that the High Court and the Syariah Court must be regarded as having the same standing in this country.

We are also concerned to note that in his grounds of judgment YA Datuk Suriyadi Halim Omar, JCA quoted a verse from the Quran and appeared to be elevating the role and prominence of Islamic law and the Islamic judicial system in Malaysia. We would respectfully remind members of the Judiciary that the Federal Court, Court of Appeal and the High Courts in Malaya and in Sabah and Sarawak are all civil courts and Judges of those courts take an oath of office to uphold the Federal Constitution, which guarantees all persons, including non Muslims, the fundamental liberty of professing and practising their faiths in peace and harmony. It is very clear and specific in the State legislative list in the 9th Schedule of the Federal Constitution that the “Syariah Courts … shall have jurisdiction only over persons professing the religion of Islam …”.

The learned Judges in the majority appear to note that requirement in their judgments, but with respect appear to contradict themselves by then requiring the non Muslim wife to go to the Syariah courts. We express our objection to any requirement for non-Muslims to have to go to the Syariah Court for relief as such courts apply Islamic theological law. Religious laws cannot be applied to people who do not profess that religion.

The Court of Appeal in this case and civil courts are expanding Article 121(1A) of the Federal Constitution. We are also concerned that Syariah Courts are usurping functions which are not theirs. Consequently, non-Muslims are unable to obtain relief when the Syariah Court makes an order which interferes with their fundamental liberties guaranteed by the Federal Constitution.

The Federal Constitution is the supreme law of Malaysia. Our highest court had declared in the case of Che Omar bin Che Soh v. P.P. (1988) 2 MLJ 55 that Article 3 of the Constitution was never intended to extend the application of Syaria to the sphere of public law. We object to any interpretation of our Constitution or our laws that deprive any person of his fundamental liberties, and deny access to a non Muslim to the High Court applying the general civil law.

We urgently call on the Government to immediately make the necessary legislative amendments to safeguard the rights of all Malaysians and to ensure non Muslims have full and proper access to justice in the civil courts.

Dato’ Chee Peck Kiat, President

23.03.2007

Dr Kumar: Health Care Model neo-liberal to the core

March 31, 2007

Health Financing Reform

The Consultant’s Interim Report 

Dr Kumar of PSM (right bottom) has been in the forefront of the struggle for a just public health care system for all Malaysians. He has a strong view on the Consultant’s Interim Report – Health Financing Reform. Please take to time to read his in-depth report.

 

 

The study commissioned by the EPU and the Ministry of Health with financial sponsorship from the UNDP appears to progressing on schedule. An Interim Report was released in August 2006, and another updated 250* page Interim Report was released in February 2007. There have also been meetings of a “Steering Committee” which has representatives from the Doctors Associations, the Insurance Association, the Association of Private Hospitals and other bodies. Sadly, the government has not seen it necessary to invite any of the consumer bodies in the country to sit on this committee. Neither have health advocacy groups such the Citizens Health Initiative or the GMPPK (Coalition Against the Privatisation of health Care) been invited, although the latter has been most pro-active in presenting ideas regarding Health Care Reform. The Final Report is expected in May 2007.

 

What is the thrust of the Consultant’s recommendations? Will the recommendations lead to an amelioration of the problems besetting our Health Care System? Or do we have cause to be worried?

The Consultant’s Main Recommendations 

The Consultant, Karl Karol from Australia, has done a thorough review of the various studies and surveys that have been done prior to this, and to his credit, has summarized the major findings of these previous studies clearly. However he has then has gone on to endorse the Government’s conception of the future Health Care Model for Malaysia, with only a few minor refinements. The main features of the model being proposed are neo-liberal to the core in that

         the funding for health care is to be from the people and not from general taxation;.

         government hospitals are to be corporatised so that they will function like companies, so that they may be rendered more efficient through market discipline;

         there will be integration of the primary care sector, the government hospitals and the private hospitals under this scheme;

         the “internal market”, financial incentives and the profit motive shall be the main driver of the system;

The diagram below summarises the main features of the model proposed by the consultant.

Health Financing Model; The Consultant’s Proposal 


 

 

 

 

 

 

The main features of the Health Financing Model proposed by the Consultant are

1. A National Health Financing Fund that will be owned by and controlled by the government through the “National Health Financing Authority” that will be set up by Parliament.

2. This Fund will receive income from an “ear-marked” VAT (Value Added Tax or GST). It may also receive some input from General Taxation especially in the initial period.

3. The National Health Fund will pay for all treatment of the illnesses listed under the Essential Health Care Benefit (EHBP) with the proviso that the patients must first go to the GP he is designated to. If Specialist Referral or Hospital admission is required it must be done by the patient’s GP. The fund will not pay up if the patient by-passes the GP and goes straight to the specialist or hospital himself.

4. All GPs in the country will be brought under the scheme, and they will all be allocated a certain number of patients. The GPs will be paid a capitation sum based on the number of patients registered under them. They will get the same income per patient whether the patient comes to their clinic 10 times in a year or not at all. They have to treat the patients registered under them for free.

5. Government Hospitals will no longer get an annual budget. They will be paid by the amount of clinical service they provide. All illnesses listed in the EHBP will be classified as Diagnosis Related Groups (DRGs). Each DRG will be rewarded a certain payment that will be specified in the EHBP. For example, treatment for Appendicitis may be RM 1000, and this will be irrespective of whether there are any complications or the length of the hospital stay. APrivate
Hospital that handles an appendix case will also get the same payment from the National Health Fund. The idea is that this competition with Private Hospitals will help make Government Hospitals “leaner” and more “efficient”.

5(b) To prevent over investigation and treatment by the Specialists, the Model envisages that the GPs will become “Fund Managers” for the initial part of specialist care for the patients registered under them. In other words each GP will be given a fund for referring patients to specialists. If they stay within their budget, the GP will get a hefty bonus. If the GP exceeds this referral budget, he may face a financial penalty! The purpose of this mechanism is to make GPs efficient Gate-Keepers and to prevent abuse of the system by both patients and the specialists!

6. Private Insurance will be allowed for illnesses that are not covered by the EHBP as well as to cover specialist costs that are not through the proper GP referral system.

GMPPK Critique 

The GMPPK is strongly against several aspects of the Health System Model proposed by the Consultant. Our reasons are –

A. The GST is a regressive tax. 

Income distribution in Malaysia is getting increasingly skewed in favour of the rich in all communities. At present the richest 20% of the population get more than 50% of the National income whereas the bottom 40% only gets 12.5%. A GST would further worsen the situation because a GST burdens the poor proportionately more.

 

Table One: Impact of GST of 10%

Economic Class

% of Income spent

% of income invested or saved

% of income taxed by GST

Richest 10%

40%

60%

4%

Poorest 40 %

90%

10%

9%

Poorest 10%

130%

13%

As illustrated in the table above, a GST would widen the income gap between the rich and the poor.

 

The GMPPK therefore calls for

         no new taxes on ordinary citizens;         Increase of the health allocation from the current 2% of GDP to at least 3%.         Siphon RM 5 billion from Petronas profits to the Health Budget every year. (Petronas profits were some RM 80 billion in 2006)         Channel a portion of the RM 2 billion worth of levy collected from foreign workers to the Health Budget and give all foreign workers subsidized health care at the same charges as Malaysian citizens;         Stop all out-sourcing or privatization of health care delivery.   

B. Using the National Health Fund to subsidise treatment in Private Hospitals will aggravate the Brain Drain.  

            Table Two: Distribution of Specialists in Malaysia 1999

 

                                 

Table Two above highlights one of the key problems affecting the Public Health Sector now – the depletion of the specialist pool who are drawn to the private hospitals which are able to offer incomes that 5 to 10 times higher than the government sector. Using the National Health Fund to subsidise treatment in Private Hospitals will expand the market as now more patients can afford going to the private sector. This will aggravate the brain drain and might lead to the collapse of the public hospitals.  

However we must not forget the crucial role of the Public Sector in the over-all health system

         not only does it now cater for 70% of the in-patient load in
Malaysia;

         it is the training ground for housemen, junior specialists as well as paramedical staff;

         the distribution of government hospitals is much wider and much more equitable compared to Private Hospitals;

         Treatment costs are much cheaper because staff are salaried and not paid fee-for–service as in the private sector.

The GMPPK therefore calls for

         using the 60% increase in funding to rehabilitate the Public health sector;         setting up of a separate Service Commission for the Public Health Sector staff.         A Moratorium on building or expanding the Private Hospitals.         Shelving of Health tourism. 

C. Creating financial disincentives to discourage consultation/referral by the Family GP 

The GMPPK agrees that good Primary Health Care will help cut over-all costs and that patients should be encouraged to seek treatment with family doctors first before going to  specialists. However the creation of “fund-holding” mechanisms and financial penalties for referring too many patients will undermine the patient-doctor relationship and may lead to delays in referral.

“Homo Economicus” : Over-Reliance on Economic Incentives. 

There is an over-emphasis on economic incentives and “market discipline” in the model proposed by Mr Karl Karol. This appears to be based on the following beliefs which are shared by neo-liberal economists and planners

         People respond best to monetary incentives.

         Ordinary men and women pursuing their self-interest in maximizing earnings will result in the efficient delivery of a public good, in this case Health Care.

         The role of government in society should be reduced for it impairs the allocative efficiency of the free-market.

         A corporatised government hospital operating like a private company will perform more efficiently than centrally funded government hospitals that exist now.

         Creating an “internal market” within the health care system will help allocate resources in a more efficient manner, and will lead to better output.

However in the consultant’s own report there is an awareness that relying on financial incentives and market mechanisms will make the main players more money minded. This in turn may lead to abuse and over-use of the system. Therefore there is a need to create safeguards. For example, the proposal that GPs should become “fund-holders’ for specialist treatment rises out of an explicitly stated perception that specialists will otherwise over-investigate and over-treat!

To counter these perceptions the GMPPK would like to point out that

1. Doctors and other health staff have been working sincerely in the public hospitals for the past 50 years and more. Many doctors and other health staff work past their official hours as they want to get the job done. Financial reward is not the only motivation for work. People take pride in their work, in improving their skill and competence, and in solving problems. Peer recognition and patient satisfaction are also important incentives. Of course people like to get a decent income, and the GMPPK wants a review of the pay-scales for public sector health staff. But this is far removed from the consultant’s thrust to revamp the entire system to make it run on the financial incentive alone.

2. The Public Health care System in
Malaysia has performed fairly well up till now. We have achieved a reasonably high of health care at fairly low costs – 2% of GDP is really very good – compared to 9.8% of the GDP in the UK and 14.5% of GDP in the
US! The weaknesses that have developed in the welfarist model were not internal to the model, but were brought on by the promotion of for-profit private hospitals on a large scale since the 1980’s. This is what led to the exodus of experienced specialists and trained staff from the public sector, and this is the main cause of the perception that treatment in government hospitals is inferior to that in the private sector. It is indeed ironic that free-market solutions are being suggested to solve problems that arose in the first instance from the implementation of free-market policies in the health care sector 25 years ago!

3. Health care is a “merit good”. The medical treatment of an individual leads to benefit for the community through

– decreasing the risk of transmission in the case of infections;

– decreasing the dependency ratio by getting the individual back on his feet;

– reinforcing a sense of social solidarity through sharing the risks associated with ill-health.

For the above reasons the GMPPK proposes the following –

1. It is the responsibility of the Government to ensure that all citizens and other residents of
Malaysia have equitable access to safe and adequate health care. No one must be denied proper care because of lack of means.
 2. The Government Health Budget must be increased to 3% of the GDP. Currently it is barely 2%. This increase should come from General Taxation as well as from Petronas Revenue. There should not be any GST or Special Pay-roll taxes to supplement the Health Budget as such taxes are not appropriate given the deterioration in the Malaysian Gini Coefficient.  3. The Public Health Care System must be strengthened as it is both cost-effective and equitably distributed. The measures that the Government should implement to achieve this area/ Set up a separate Service Commission for Health Personnel so that they remuneration can be improved.b/ Allocate a larger budget to offset co-payments that are now being borne by patients, the degree of subsidy depending on the economic status of the patient. c/ Freeze the development of Private Hospitals – Do not permit the setting up of any more new private hospitals and control the expansion of the existing hospitals.d/ Do not promote Health Tourism. The main focus of our health sector should be to cater to the health needs of our population, and not to bring in foreign exchange. e/ Implement schemes whereby the expertise in the Private Sector is drawn to teach the young doctors and other paramedical staff.    4. A team of independent academicians should be set up to evaluate the cost effectiveness of the privatization exercises involving the Public Health Sector. The findings of this team should be made available to the Malaysian Public so that we can make an informed decision whether we wish to have any further privatization of the Health Services in this country. 5. Until such time the above study is released to the Public, there must be a strict Moratorium on all further privatization and/or “outsourcing” of components of the Public Health Care Sector. 6. A National Health Financing Over-sight Committee must be set up to ensure that the funds allocated to Health Care are properly utilized. Adequate funds should be made available for this committee to perform its watch-dog function effectively. The SUHAKAM model of staffing and funding can be considered, but at least 50% of the members of this committee should be elected by the public. It should be mandatory that Parliament allocates time to debate the annual report of this committee.  7. The Health Status of the 2 million foreign workers in
Malaysia should be of concern to us all. The Government must reverse the current policy of charging these patients higher rates when they come to government health facilities, as this will lead to delays in diagnosis and treatment. A portion of the RM 2 billion levy collected from foreign workers should be channeled to the Public Health Sector, and foreign workers should be charged no more than our citizens. 
  8. Any future reform of the Public Health Care System must only be undertaken after informing and getting the feed-back of the Malaysian public. 

 

 

Jeyakumar Devaraj

30/3/07

Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj is the secretary of the Coalition Against the Privatisation of Health Services.

DongJiaoZong is right. The ultimate objective was to do away with mother tongue education.

March 29, 2007

Loot Laoshi used to ask me this question- If the SJKCs were left with one subject in Chinese, and the rest of the major subjects were either in Malay or English, can you still call them Chinese primary schools?

DongJiaoZong, the umbrella body of Chinese education organisations, today issued a statement to air its disagreement on the issue of using English as a medium of instruction as well as examination for Math and Science subjects in Chinese primary schools.

I too believe that the Education Ministry has the intention to use English as the only medium of examination come 2008.

The ultimate objective of the Umno-led BN Government has always been doing away with mother tongue education in this country. By using English as the medium of instruction and examination for these two subjects would certainly help to get rid of the mother tongue education in this country. 

Thanks to Datuk S.Samy Vellu and the MIC, the Tamil primary school system has “gone with the ” since 2002. Only one major subject is in Tamil. The other major subjects like Math and Science were changed to English. Today, some 800 Tamil education activists staged a demonstration outside the Parliament House to voice their protest. They wanted the BN Government to preserve their mother tongue education.

Would you still call it a Chinese primary school if it was left with one subject in Chinese and the rest of the subjects were either in Malay or English? Chinese Educationist Cikgu Loot Ting Yee has been asking this question time and again.

To me, if the general elections is held before 2008, the BN government would not hesitate to adopt English as the only medium of examination for Math and Science for all SJKCs from 2008. Such measure is certainly in lined with the ultimate objective of Umno, i.e. getting rid of mother tongue education system in Malaysia. Do you think the spineless MCA, Gerakan and SUPP leaders would have the courage to say No to Umno?  

MerdekaReview  and Malaysiakini have the reports…

“四年过去了,还在研究中”
董教总怀疑教育部施缓兵之计
■日期/Mar 30, 2007   ■时间/12:37:03 am
■新闻/家国风云   ■作者/本刊记者
           
【本刊记者撰述】马来西亚华校董事联合会总会(董总)主席叶新田与马来西亚华校教师会总会(教总)主席王超群联名发表文告,非议教育部从2003年开始,就对外宣称2008年华小数理科考试媒介语还未定夺。董教总说,四年过去了,该部对这项议题的答案依然是“还在研究当中”,不得不让人怀疑这只不过是“缓兵之计”。

董教总昨日是针对教长希山慕丁(Hishammuddin Hussein)于327日在国会的书面答复,发表文告。马华公会务边区(Gopeng)国会议员陈祖排当时提问,2008年华小数理科考试将使用什么媒介语时,教长如是回答:“内阁于20027月召开的特别会议中,针对英语教导数理的制度已作出决定,即所有政府学校考试,如小六评估考试、初中评估考试、马来西亚教育文凭考试和马来西亚高级学校文凭考试的数理科,将全面使用英语出题。”

教长然后补充道:“至于华小数理科的考试媒介语,教育部还在研究当中。”

有鉴于20025月,当教育部宣布小学数理教学改用英文教学措施时,华裔副教育部长多次发布“小学数理科以英文教学的措施只限国小,不包括华小和淡小”的声明,结果却背道而驰,董教总因此不表乐观。

董教总的文告全文如下:

一、董教总认为,从2003年开始,当局就已对外宣称2008年华小数理科考试媒介语还未决定,四年过去了对这项议题依然“还在研究当中”,不得不让人怀疑这只不过是“缓兵之计”;正如20025月当局宣布小学数理教学改用英文教学措施时,华裔副教育部长多次发布“小学数理科以英文教学的措施只限国小,不包括华小和淡小”的声明,结果如何,不言而喻。

二、董教总重申,认同政府致力于提高国人掌握英语的努力的立场,同时要明确的指出,英文作为一种重要的科技及国际通用语,其地位是重要的,但对英文这项语文教育问题,若没有从语言学习的规律而针对性,不分层次或领域去应对与学习,反而妄想以越俎代庖的方式,以作为知识科目的数理科来学习英文知识,这不仅是一项不科学,也是一项不明智的决策。

董教总本着母语教育的基本原则,坚决反对各源流学校的数学、科学两科以英文教学与考试。董教总认为,这项课题绝非仅是单一源流学校及族群的课题,而是涉及违反教育原理,褫夺人民以母语传授知识的基本人权,甚至影响国家数理人才培养的重大课题。

三、董教总促请政府在当前面临经济全球一体化,国际的大格局将朝多元开放的趋势发展,我国欲在2020年达致先进国宏愿,必须尽速调整长期以来所推行的单元化国家政策,在语文政策方面,在肯定马来语作为国家语言的同时,应公平对待我国各族母语教育的发展,鼓励国民掌握多种语文,致力于培养具全球化视野与观念的国民,才能使我国在各领域既有所承传,也能发挥优势,有效地融入国际社会,在激烈的国际竞争中占一席之地。

四、董教总吁请各华小董家教三机构及家长站稳立场,坚持要求教育部必须以华文作为华小六年级评估考试数理科的媒介语,以确保学生在符合教育原理的环境下,通过母语学习和掌握数理知识,这不但是最直接和最有效的教学管道,同时也确保各民族的母语教育体系获得良好的发展

 Thanks to MCA leaders, Bai Xiao (SJKC Damansara) has been forced to shut down for 7 years now. The students are still using cabins as their classrooms. The struggle continues…

五百印裔家长齐聚国会前怒吼
疾呼停止将淡小视为“继子”
郭史光庆
07年3月29日 傍晚6:05
调整字体大小:
“伯拉!救救我们的学校!”,来自全国各地的500名印裔家长,今早在通往国会大厦的大路上进行近3句钟的请愿活动。他们要以行动证明,自己是具有尊严的公民,而非可以随意歧视的乞丐,他们要求首相阿都拉公平对待淡小,停止将淡小视为“继子”。奈何身在国外的阿都拉无法亲耳听见他们的心声,只能委派首相署部长纳兹里代收备忘录,而后者基于部门职责不同,只能答应充当传讯者。

歧视淡小等于否决印裔孩子前途

这些来自雪兰莪、柔佛、吉打、彭亨等地的家长,今天放下手上的工作、申请假期,大清早摸黑上路,目的就是要把心声清楚传达给政府。

其中一名协调者查尔斯(Charles Santiago)神情激昂地向记者表示,“为什么我们在这里?因为我们受够了!我们真的受够了!”

他们申诉,第9大马计划公布已一年,但是淡小依然没有获得足够的拨款,许多淡小连基本的设施都没有。

要阿都拉停止歧视母语教育

家长们的代表--淡米尔教育运动分子阿鲁慕甘(K Arumugam,左图)指出,92%就读淡小的学生,都来自月入少于900令吉的贫困家庭,教育是他们摆脱贫穷的唯一管道。

“政府忽略淡小的发展,就等于否决印裔孩子的未来。请聆听印裔孩子的呐喊,给他们一个光明的未来。”

他表示,根据他们的统计,政府只要拨出区区的2亿令吉,就能够让全国淡小拥有完整的基本设施,奈何政府连这一点都做不到。

“这已经让我们沦为乞丐,我们就是要来这里告诉政府,我们不是乞丐,我们是有尊严、受尊敬的马来西亚公民!”

淡米尔基金主席马诺加兰(M Manogaran )更强烈要求阿都拉,停止发出将国小列为首选小学的歧视性言论,“所有的小学都是平等的,各族人民都有交税,因此没有所谓谁比较首要的问题”。

布条口号夹道“欢迎”议员

家长们是在今早10时开始聚集在国会大门口,向进出国会的议员汽车展示海报与布条,要他们关注淡米尔教育的前景。这群乘搭巴士到国会的家长几乎都来自中下阶层,与进出国会的黑玻璃豪华进口房车,形成强烈的对比。

警方派出数十名镇暴队、交通警察、制服警察和政治部人员监视与维持秩序,惟没有阻止请愿活动。

一些来自董总、白沙罗华小(白小)保校工委会和青年组织的成员也前来参与请愿,他们连同数名印裔青年来回走动带领群众高喊口号,“伯拉!救救我们的学校!”、“斗争!斗争!为淡米尔斗争到底!”、“身躯属于土地,灵魂属于淡米尔!”。

他们也在布条和海报上表达强烈的不满,“设备不足的淡小,对首相是一项污辱!”、“我们投下85%的选票,你的拨款只有1%”、“教育大蓝图里不见淡小,为什么?”

林吉祥下周一国会提动议

在国会里开会的行动党领袖几乎倾巢而出,包括林吉祥、郭素沁、陈国伟、方贵伦、章瑛和古拉(M Kulasegaran),其他政党的领袖有回青团团长沙拉勿丁(Salahuddin Ayub)以及公正党的西韦尔(Xavier Jayakumar)。他们出来与群众握手,并发表简短的演讲。

家长们也将一份由108个团体签署支持的备忘录呈交给林吉祥,后者答应将在下周一的国会里提呈临时动议,要求辩论淡小问题。人群一直到中午12时30分下起大雨才解散。

纳兹里将向内阁反映

首相署部长纳兹里予中午12时,在国会会议室内接见家长代表,代首相接收备忘录,章瑛、古拉和公正党主席旺阿兹莎也有出席是项会议。阿都拉目前身在沙地阿拉伯出席会议。

纳兹里在聆听代表们的诉求后表示,由于淡小问题不属于其部门管辖范围,他只能答应将讯息转达予首相和教育部长希山慕丁,并在内阁里向同僚提出此事。

“对我来说,我相信教育民主化,不管是什么语文,你如果喜欢淡米尔,就进入淡小;喜欢华语,就进入华小。现在已经是2007年,不应该再谈论你是什么种族,教育是所有人的权利。我会尽可能在能力范围内协助你们。”

家长坚持让孩子学习淡文

《当今大马》访问了数名参与者,其中来自柔佛士姑来的姗蒂(37岁)与其姐姐慕妮雅玛(40岁),今天特地向厂方请假,前来参与这次的请愿活动。

“政府不顾我们的感受,给予淡小的设施不足。许多家长都要把孩子送入淡小,但是设施却不足。”

受询及为何她们坚持送孩子进入淡小就读时,育有3名孩子的姗蒂表示,“我们要孩子用淡米尔文学习,这样他们才能掌握其他的科目,因为淡米尔文是他们容易了解的语文,而且淡小也有教导马来文和英语”。

慕妮雅玛也让其14岁女儿登玛拉向校方请假,前来为“校”请命。

国大党2004年备忘录无回音

淡小面对的问题包括:

- 拨款微不足道,第9大马计划拨出6千484万令吉予淡小,只占小学拨款总额的1.34%;

- 超过六分之一的淡小老师未经培训;

- 72%的淡小是半津贴学校,必须自行筹集经费维修校舍与添购设备;

- 约三分之一的淡小缺乏自来水供应;

- 数理英化政策让淡小学生无法跟上课程进度。

自称代表印裔社群的国大党曾在2004年向政府呈交一份要求改善淡小的备忘录,但是政府至今未有行动。

 

“伯拉,救救我们的淡小!”
六百印裔国会大厦前请愿救校
■日期/Mar 29, 2007   ■时间/07:28:04 pm
■新闻/家国风云   ■作者/本刊陈慧思
           
【本刊陈慧思撰述】600印度人今日聚集在国会大厦门前,向首相阿都拉巴达威和众国会议员发出求救呼声:“救救淡米尔小学!”

来自全国各地的印裔同胞今早井然有序地聚合在国会大厦前,以谦卑的姿态,呼吁首相阿都拉救救病入膏肓的淡米尔小学。他们以数十条布条,反映淡米尔小学窘迫的状况,吁请政府全津目前占总数72%的半津淡小,予淡小一条生路、许印裔孩子一个光明的未来。

印裔社群在关心公民组织(Group of Concerned Citizens)的领导下,向国会在野党领袖林吉祥和首相署部长纳兹里(Nazri Aziz)提呈备忘录,要求首相、内阁和在野党议员立即关注淡小的问题。

教育是基本人权,可是因政策的偏颇,非马来源流的学校长期遭边缘化。由于印裔社群自力更生的能力有限,淡小的情况也最为严峻。

请愿者在备忘录中指出,占淡小总数72%的半津淡小陷入年久失修、设备严缺的状态;政策的偏颇也导致淡小严缺、师资不足、教师缺乏培训等问题。这份题名《停止把淡小当油瓶子》(Berhenti Melayan Sekolah-sekolah Tamil sebagai Anak Tiri)的备忘录获得108个团体联署支持,足见印裔社群的问题取得社会广泛的同情、认同和共鸣。

烈日下请愿两小时

关心公民组织协调员、请愿活动发起人阿鲁姆干(Arumugam Kalimuthu,右图)接受记者采访时表示,今日距离第九马来西亚计划去年三月在国会通过已足有一年,可是国会却无法拨出足够的拨款予淡小,因此,关心淡小发展印裔人士今日聚集在国会门前,告知一众国会议员:这个国家是全体马来西亚人的,国家应该发放足够的教育拨款,让每一个孩童接受教育!

他表示:“淡小为贫穷的印裔学生提供了摆脱贫穷的希望,淡小不存在了,孩子成功的机会也将被削薄。请聆听我们孩子的哭声!请留给他们一个希望!”

请愿者要求政府把所有半津淡小转成全津政府学校,并要求政府立即拨款装修、扩建及增建淡小,以创造一个适当的环境予淡小学生追求知识。此外,备忘录也促政府培训更多教师,以解决师资不足及不良的问题。印裔社群也促政府恢复以母语教数理政策。

来自全国各地的印裔请愿者高举写着“让我们活下去,莫漠视淡小”、“我们投你一票,首相你投一票给淡小”、“不要糖果红包,给钱淡小”、“莫抹煞我们的权利”、“我们要全津淡小”、“1957年,888淡小;2007年,523淡小”标语的布条、喊出“伯拉,救救淡小”、“斗争,为淡小斗争”等口号,在烈日下请愿约两小时,希望首相和一众国会议员倾听他们压抑已久的心声。

白小保校工委会成员和关心母语教育的华裔青年也到场支持印裔社群的请愿行动。

我们真的受够了!”

淡米尔基金会主席马诺嘉(M.Manogar)对记者发言时表示:“别当淡小是油瓶子,每个公民都有均等的权利接受教育!我们要求政府莫再予以淡小橱窗摆设,淡小没有像样的食堂、没有足够的课室,市区也面对淡小缺乏的问题,我们不应拒绝增建淡小!”

他指出,92%的淡小学生来自月收入低于900元的家庭,政府拒绝发展淡小,等于剥夺他们受教育的机会。因此,政府必须予以印裔社群一个清晰的答复:增建淡小。

关心公民组织协调员查尔斯圣地亚哥(Charles Santiago)表示,淡小目前陷入破落不堪的境地,许多学校桌椅尚且不足,老师被迫在破了大洞的黑板上写字;在21世纪的今天,淡小的学生们仍在19世纪的课堂上上课,这一切,都因为政府没有遵守承诺,予以淡小应有的拨款。

他说:“我们已经受够了,我们真的已经受够了,大部份到淡小求学的孩子都是穷孩子,你这样对待淡小,只会让穷者愈穷。第九马来西亚计划下,政府拨出6400万的款额予淡小,可是一年后只发出了50万的拨款,剩余的那些去了哪里?我们不求多,我们只要回我们的份。”

行动党下周一提紧急动议

林吉祥在11时半率领回教党古邦阁亮区国会议员沙拉胡丁阿育(Salahuddin Ayub)、民主行动党怡保西区国会议员古拉(M. Kulasegaran)、大山脚区国会议员章瑛、士布爹区国会议员郭素沁、武吉免登区国会议员方贵伦等在野国会议员与一众次序井然地守候在国会大厦门口的请愿者握手会面。

众在野议员皆对淡小的状况表示同情,并承诺全力以赴,捍卫印裔同胞接受母语教育的权利。林吉祥发言前率领众人高喊三声:“我们要淡小!”随之表示:“淡小已经被欺压、遭受不公平对待很久了,我们要更多拨款、更多老师、更多淡小!我们有接受母语教育的权利!”

他高呼:“我们要国会、内阁、首相听听我们的心声!民主行动党和回教党会在国会上代为传达你们的讯息。古拉将在下周一提呈紧急动议,以便国会探讨淡小的问题。”

也是回教党青年团团长的沙拉胡丁阿育表示,教育是基本权利,国民应该不分宗教和种族,获得最好的教育;阿都拉应该从沉睡中苏醒,公平对待国民。他也指出,若国会通过古拉的紧急动议,回教党国会议员将全力以赴,为印裔社群争取权益。

纳兹里认同母语教育

请愿者原已去信首相,要求首相亲自接见他们,可是去函始终没有回音。今日首相派出纳兹里接见印裔代表。

纳兹里代首相接领备忘录后指出,他并非教育部长,无权插手教育问题,但他保证会转交备忘录予首相以及代请愿者向首相传达心声。他也承诺会把问题带上内阁,向其同僚反映印裔的问题。

淡米尔基金会委员拉古(Ragu)在会上愤然说:“生成是淡米尔人并不是我们选择的,这是我们的天命。这些年来,我们活像是一座孤岛,首相也曾表示对印裔的问题毫不知情,我们的文化、教育都是用自己的钱维持的,到底我们做这个国家的国民为的是什么?”

他失望地表示:我们是活在这儿,还是非洲国家?我尽我的能力爱国,但我却从未被国家重视过,我们没有希望…”

在场的人民公正党主席旺阿兹莎(Wan Azizah)听了请愿者的心声之后,对印裔社群表示同情。她认为,政府应该关注母语教育的发展;人民公正党强力支持印裔社群的诉求。

纳兹里(左二)则表示:“我相信民主教育,我认为,无论你选择在什么语文的学校受教育,只要你喜欢,你就应该获得。我会尽我的能力,任何以我之名能办到的事,我都会去做、会去帮忙。”

他也说:“这已是21世纪,已经没有人会再在意你的肤色,最重要的是,为所有人提供教育。”

请愿者提呈的备忘录指出,政府承诺在第九马来西亚计划下拨出6484万元发展淡小,平均每年1300万元,可是去年政府拨予淡小的拨款仅有50万元,相对淡小严峻的情况,简直就是杯水车薪。此外,在1990年至2005年期间,淡小的拨款总额只占小学拨款总额的0.26%2.4%,可见一直以来国家都在系统化地摧毁淡小。

备忘录曝露,超过六份之一的淡小老师从未受过训练、三份之一淡小没有自来水供应、90%淡小没有学前教育设施。在2004年,国大党曾提呈涵盖11个项目的备忘录予政府,反映淡小的困境,可是迄今当局仍未作出令人满意的回应。

Ulu Yam MCA local warlord becomes land grabber?

March 29, 2007

 

Low Kim Chai (sitting next to LKS) and other land-grabbing victims from Ulu Yam took their plight to the Parliament today. Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang and Tanjung MP Chow Kuan Yew took up their complaints and hopefully something positive would come out of this meeting.

Low and other victims lost their land rights to a local MCA warlord. In a reply from the KKB land office, Lim Ba Lee lost her land right to Tan Kim Peing, the special assistant to Datk Ch’ng Toh Eng, The Selangor State Exco member. Tan is also the MCA deputy chairman for Kuala Selangor Division and a district councillor. Instead of helping out the villagers with the documents entrusted to him, Tan made use of them to his own benefits. No action was taken to Tan neither by MCA nor the authority despite of numerous police reports and ACA report were made against him over the last two years. What have happened to our police force and ACA, Mr Prime Minister?

The local MCA warlord has allegedly collaborated with certain land office senior officers, turning land rights belong to these villagers into titles but these titles were registered in his name or people closed or connected to him. He either keep the titles or sold them for profits.

By Lim Kit Siang

Adorna, post-Adorna, Adorna-like injustices and malpractices in Land Offices

Injustices and malpractices in Land Offices?

Two days ago, I had issued a statement calling on the Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Azmi Khalid to stop sleeping on his job as he had neither done nor said a single word in his three years as Minister in charge of the land portfolio about the gross injustice of the land law which allowed forgery and fraudulent issue and fraudulent transfer of land titles, with hundreds of landowners who have become victims running into tens or even hundreds of millions of ringgit.

It is common sense that an innocent purchaser cannot obtain good title from an impostor, impersonator or forger. Very importantly, a forger cannot pass title by using a fraudulently procured document of title so that even a subsequent innocent purchaser does not get any good title.

However, in land law, as a result of the 2001 Federal Court decision in Adorna Properties Sdn Bhd v Boonsom Bunyanit, there is now a shocking exception – with Section 340 of the National Land Code (NLC) interpreted to favour innocent buyers of land transferred through forgery or fraud, which has destroyed the integrity of land titles and the sanctity of property, leaving the original owners without any means to recover their land.

When Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi became Prime Minister, he issued a ”wake up call” to all land offices telling them to buck up to do justice to the rightful landowners.

Why has Azmi as the Minister in charge of the land office in the past three years failed to take any action to end the gross injustice in the Adorna case, at least to stop any post-Adorna development with hundreds of landowners falling victim to fraudsters, forgers, impostors and impersonators becoming the “new Adornas” by amending the National Land Code?

I have today another batch of cases involving gross injustices in land administration – involving some 280 plots of land, both residential and agricultural, which changed hands without the knowledge of the landowners in Ulu Yam, Selangor.

Low Kim Chai and 15 other landowners in Ulu Yam are among the complainants that their plots were transferred to family members and relatives of a local MCA leader and another former village head without their knowledge.

Their predicaments were quite similar with the 18 landowners in Kapar, where plots of land given to them under the Rancangan Buku Hijau (Green revolution) were transferred to a local MCA Datuk without their knowledge (Malay Mail cover story, 19 March 2005).

The local land office officials have told the villagers about the bad news but they were unable to give details relating to the respective new landowners. Some of the landowners have made police reports. They have given the names of the suspected MCA leaders to the police. The police were urged to start investigations immediately as the scam involves so many villagers and landowners but there was no response from the police until today.

The victims were subsequently brought to the Selangor Menteri Besar’s office as well as the public complaints bureau in Shah Alam. Following the complaint, the letter, Encik Tukiman (the land office chief) confirmed that some of the victims’ plots had indeed changed hands but he too failed to give further details except confirming that the name of the alleged MCA local leader Tan Kim Peing was indeed in the list of “new ” landowners. But there was no action taken against Tan by either the authority or his party, MCA.

Reports to the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) were also a waste of time and effort, bringing no results.

Azmi should explain why there is so much hanky-panky, abuses of power and even corruption nvolving the Land Office, which is regarded by Malaysians as one of the government departments topping the list of “most corrupt” departments.

I call on Azmi to give a full statement on these cases of injustices in land administration and law in the country, starting with his reply in Parliament next week during the winding-up of the debate on the Royal Address.

When is Azmi going to implement the Prime Minister’s directive that the Land Office to “buck up” and “clean up” so that it would no more be regarded as one of the top “corrupt” government departments in the country – to end the injustices and malpractices of the Adorna, post-Adorna and Adorna-like cases in land administration

BERSIH: Shame on you, Rashid.

March 28, 2007

In the press conference this morning held at the PKR’s headquarters, I described the Election Commission under Tan Sri Rashid as the “additional component party of the Barisan Nasional”.

I also commented that Rashid has been talking nonsense all the times and the Malaysian public must not take his words seriously.

The examples I gave today were:

1. Rashid was the one who convinced the opposition to do away with the “pondok panas” (electoral rolls checking and canvassing booth) ,but he allows the BN parties to set up pondok panas at the eleventh hour without informing the opposition earlier;

2. Rashid was the one who extended the voting hours by two hours in Selangor at the eleventh hour in GE 2004;

3. Rashid was notified that there were more than 90 phantom voters registered under a same address(a double-storey link house in PJ Selatan) and yet he has the cheeks to say that the claim made by us was totally untrue;

4.Rashid was the one who allowed the lopsided delineation exercise that killed off many opposition (esp PAS) candidates in GE 2004;

5. Rashid was the one who refused to use indelible ink for the prevention of multiple voting by phantom/ BN voters;

6. Rashid has said and done nothing about the abuse of government machinery in the Batu Talam by-election despite of hard evidence and proofs such as video clips, photos and police reports were submitted to his office.

I have forgotten to mention that Rashid again sabotage the opposition in the impending Machap by-election by fixing Tuesday and Thursday as the day of nomination and polling day respectively in order to cause inconvenience to DAP supporters and workers.

Arul of PSM and K Shan of Suaram both commented that Rashid has been very evasive on questions and criticisms aired by the opposition.

Dr Dzulkifli Ahmad of Pas reiterates the three-point demands made by Bersih in November last year. There are 1. adoption of indelible ink 2. removal of the postal vote system except for diplomats and citizens residing overseas and 3. clean up the electoral rolls before the next general elections.

R. Sivarasa of PKR read out the official statement on behalf of Bersih.

Here’s the statement…

Integrity of EC and Tan Sri Abdul Rashid in question

————————————————————————–

The Election Commission chairman Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman has once again misled the public with his latest statement on 21 March 2007.  The Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (BERSIH) is extremely disappointed that he has avoided answering the serious concerns and issues raised by BERSIH on 13 March 2007. As a public servant, Tan Sri Rashid is, by the powers bestowed on him by the  Federal Constitution, responsible for the conduct of elections and has  a duty to address the concerns of the Malaysian public.

BERSIH is of the opinion that Tan Sri Abdul Rashid’s statement 

intentionally ignored certain recent developments where the Courts 

have addressed the role of the Election Commission, and the process 

and conduct of elections as a whole. In 2001, Justice Datuk Muhammad Kamil Awang nullified the election result of Likas, Sabah on the ground that the 1998 electoral roll for the state seat was illegal as phantom voters, including non-citizens, had cast their votes on  polling day. In his judgement, Justice Muhammad Kamil took the EC to task for its role in certifying and gazetting a questionable electoral roll, in spite of the numerous complaints made to the EC and the Government to carry out investigations into the existence of  non-citizens in the electoral roll. He then went on to say that “it was unthinkable that the Election Commission should shut off the objections without inquiry” and “a constitutional wrong for SPR to have rejected the objections outright”.

According to the Election (Registration of Electors) Regulations 

(Sabah) 1971, if a voter files an official objection against the 

inclusion of a particular person, the EC has to hold a Public Inquiry 

to which both the objectors as well as the ‘objectee’ are invited.

However, after the Likas judgment, the Government with the consent of  the EC made an  amendment to the Election Act 1954 in June 2002 whereby the electoral roll — once certified or recertified — shall  be “deemed to be final and binding” and not “be questioned or

appealed against in, or reviewed, quashed or set aside by, any court.” This amendment has effectively removed all legal avenues to challenge the credibility of the electoral roll. When he was in part responsible for immunizing the electoral roll from any challenge in a election petition, why is Tan Sri Abdul Rashid asking his critics to take him to court?

Tan Sri Rashid is also aware of the judicial review case initiated by 

Parti Keadilan Rakyat against the EC in April 2004 in respect of some  of the irregularities that occurred during the 11th General Elections. Parti Keadilan Rakyat applied for rulings from the court with regard to several issues — the use of several versions of electoral rolls by the EC, allowing “pondok panas” at the last minute in contravention of the law, the extension of voting time in Selangor up to 7 pm, the practice of writing the voter’s serial number on the counterfoil of  the ballot paper and whether candidates could still run for elections if convicted but had an appeal pending.

What did the EC do? Through the Attorney-General who appeared for the EC in court, it objected to PKR’s application on the grounds that it was a back-door way to challenge the election and said that any  challenge regarding the conduct of an election had to be by way of an  election petition. PKR had expressly said in its affidavit that it was  not seeking to nullify the result of the general election in the way that a election petition would nullify the outcome in a particular  constituency but was seeking rulings from the court to clarify the law for the future guidance of the EC and for the benefit of the Malaysian electorate. Tan Sri Abdul Rashid’s call for his critics to take him to court is therefore completely hypocritical when he had then instructed the Attorney-General to object to PKR’s challenge in that way.

We would also like to challenge him to answer the following queries.

1.    10,254 missing ballot papers in P36 Kuala Terengganu

According to the provisional results announced by the EC and covered by the mainstream press immediately after the 2004 elections, 71,322 voters or 98.39% of the registered electorate turned out at the polling stations and collected their ballots. However, 10,254 ballots were not returned, in another words, they went missing somewhere between the issuing desk and the ballot box. Interestingly, the provisional result also showed that 10,130 voters turned out to collect only their parliamentary ballot papers and not their state papers.

Tan Sri Abdul Rashid’s explanation then was that the ballot papers 

were taken home by ‘collectors’. It is simply beyond our

comprehension that there were more than 10,000 ‘ballot paper collectors’ in Kuala Terengganu, when ‘normal’ people usually collect coins, stamps and so on.

Then in an even more bizarre twist to the whole episode, the final 

result gazetted on 12 April 2004 showed that the parliamentary ballot papers collected were reduced by 10,237 and the missing ones by 10,004 to only 240. So, what caused the original discrepancy? There was no recount in Kuala Terengganu, according to EC’s own report.

Now, Tan Sri Abdul Rashid has righteously claimed, “What is it that we are not transparent about… when we count, display results, announce results? Everything is seen and done in the open…” We want him to explain what the EC did to make 10,114 ‘ballot collectors’ disappear in Kuala Terengganu. How can the EC convince the public that there was  no possibility of ballot stuffing or number tampering in the electoral  process?

2.    5,486 missing ballots in P74 Lumut

In a similar fashion, 5,486 ballot papers were collected but not  

returned in Lumut (P74). Tan Sri Abdul Rashid’s explanation for that on 13 April 2004 was that “… many navy personnel [there] were out patrolling at sea, so they could not make it (in time for the postal balloting exercise)”. According to his own book, The Conduct of  Elections in Malaysia (1994), postal votes were normally delivered three to four days in advance. The public is still interested to know about the patrolling operation that involved over 5,000 personnel for three to four days during the election period.

In addition to that, Tan Sri Rashid further revealed that 67,000postal ballot papers or one-third of the 200,712 issued were not returned nationwide. Technically, if these ballots were systematically transferred to marginal constituencies for ballot-stuffing purposes, the number would be sufficient to overturn the results of 38 constituencies.

Is this not a concern for the Election Commission chairperson whose top priority is by right the probity of elections? Should he not 

support BERSIH’s proposition to abolish domestic postal voting?

3.    The misinformation that “EC do not make laws”

While parliamentary laws have to be made and amended by Parliament, the proposals for any electoral law amendment come from the EC in practice. In fact, Section 16 of the Elections Act 1958 authorizes the EC to make by-laws called regulations and under Section 17, these regulations need only to be laid before Parliament, which may choose to annul them. In practice, the Election Commission has made amended three regulations on the Conduct of Election, Registration of Electors and Postal voting. All three regulations, available at http://www.spr.gov.my/index/legislation.htm , begin with this line: 

“IN exercise of the powers conferred by Section 16 of the Elections 

Act 1958 [Act 19], the Election Commission, with the approval of the 

Yang di-Pertuan Agong, makes the following regulations:”

Is the EC chairman not ashamed that he has misinformed the public?

The only way for Tan Sri Abdul Rashid is out

——————————————————

As one of the institutions that governs the functioning of our 

democracy, the Election Commission and its officials are as important  as the judiciary and must therefore possess the highest level of integrity and credibility. In his desperate move to defend his and the EC’s reputation, it is most unfortunate that Tan Sri Abdul Rashid has  only further demonstrated the EC’s weakness and inability to conduct elections freely and fairly, and his own dishonesty.

In the interest of the nation and democracy, we urge Tan Sri Abdul 

Rashid to resign now, honourably.

Bersih to EC: Here’s the proof!
Andrew Ong
Mar 28, 07 4:40pm Adjust font size:

While Election Commission chairperson Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman claims that his detractors have ‘no proof’ of the commission’s faults, election reform movement Bersih said he had ignored the obvious.

Bersih, comprising 26 NGOs and five opposition political parties, today listed several recent glaring election irregularities:

Releasing electoral rolls to candidates three days before polling

Releasing electoral rolls to candidates that are starkly different from the ones held by EC officials at polling centres

Not publishing electoral rolls for public scrutiny prior to the general elections

Missing ballot papers in the Kuala Terengganu and Lumut parliamentary seats

Existence of non-citizens in the electoral roll during the 2001 Likas by-election
Judicial review

Furthermore, Bersih pointed out that several allegations pertaining to the 2004 general elections brought up in a judicial review case initiated by Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), also remains unanswered.

Among the issues raised in the case were:

Use of several versions of electoral rolls by the EC

Allowing pondok panas (campaign booths at polling centres) at the last minute in contravention of the law

The extension of voting time in Selangor up to 7pm

The practice of writing the voter’s serial number on the counterfoil of the ballot paper

Whether candidates could still run for elections if convicted but had an appeal pending
(The application for judicial review was struck out after the attorney-general, representing the EC, argued that all challenges pertaining to elections had to be made in form of an election petition according to Article 118 of the Federal Constitution)

Insincere challenge

On March 21, Abdul Rashid claimed that his critics did not furnish proof that the EC was not transparent in its actions and challenged them to take him and the commission to court.

At a press conference in Kuala Lumpur this morning, Bersih committee member and PKR vice-president Sivarasa Rasiah said the challenge was not sincere as Abdul Rashid was well aware that the public could not take the EC to court.

Sivarasa said the government with the consent of the EC had on June 2002, amended the Election Act 1954 making the electoral roll “final and binding” – effectively removing all legal avenues to challenge the credibility of the roll.

“When he was in part responsible for immunising the electoral roll from any challenge in an election petition, why is Abdul Rashid asking his critics to take him to court?” asked Sivarasa, a practising lawyer.

Quoting the judgement in the Likas by-election petition in 2001, Sivarasa said the Election Court then had found the electoral roll to be tainted but the EC-initiated legal amendments in 2002 no longer allowed proper public scrutiny of the roll.

See-through ballot boxes

On claims by Abdul Rashid that the EC’s hands were tied because it merely functions within the confines of the law, Sivarasa said the EC was still capable of formulating election regulations.

“If he wants to, he can make new regulations next week. The rules doesn’t even need to be passed by Parliament. So please don’t confuse the public by claiming that the EC cannot make election rules,” he said.

Among the regulations which the EC have produced thus far include the Elections (Conduct of Elections) regulations 1981, Elections (Registration of Electors) Regulations and Elections (Postal Voting) Regulations 2003.

Among Bersih’s core demands are the abolishment of postal voting, the use of indelible ink to mark voters who have cast their ballots and ensuring a ‘clean’ electoral rolls.

Bersih would be conducting its inaugural workshop on clean and fair elections on April 2 at Ceruk To’ Kun and Skudai. The second leg of the workshop would be in Kota Bharu on April 7.

Other Bersih members who attended the press conference were PAS strategist Dr Dzulkifli Ahmad, Suaram secretariat member K Shan, PSM pro-tem secretary general S Arutchelvan and DAP NGO liaison chief Ronnie Liu.

Meanwhile, the EC today announced that see-through ballot boxes will be introduced at the next general elections.

These new boxes are one of the demands made by poll watchdog groups to ensure transparency and avoid possible cheating.

Round one goes to Rawang villagers

March 27, 2007

Selangoe State Exco Datuk Abdul Fatah decided to cancell the cheque presentation ceremony after our objection.

The villagers affected by the TNB high-tension transmission towers upgradation plan won their first battle this morning. They managed to knock out the scheduled cheques presentation ceremony at the Gombak Land Office when the chairman of the meeting Datuk Fatah (Selangor state Exco incharged of infrastructure), the DO (Ghani )and the representatives from TNB and MCA could not answer the questions raised by me as the advisor to the five-men action committee.

The questions we asked include why there were only 37 families received the notice when a total of 62 houses were affected, what were the amount of compensation for these families, and the reasons for rejecting the two alternative plans submitted by the action committee when even minister Datuk Lim Keng Yaik had agreed to it. Ghani then explained that the total number of families affected were 51 and the cheques for the remaining 14 were not ready. He aslo said that the compensation ranges from RM31,000 to RM167,000 per family. He could not answer why the alternative plans were rejected but he said that the Selangor state Exco have rejected the proposal.

TNB’s representative replied that the company have surveyed and studied the alternative plans together with MCA local state assemblyman Tang See Hang (also an Exco member) and even Tang has agreed that the present plan was most suitable. He said even Tang has agreed with TNB. At this point, the villagers were very upset when they learned that they were betrayed by their own wakil rakyat.

Our lawyer said that the Gombak land office has made a serious mistake by making ex-parte decision on the issue of compensation. They could not prove in the meeting that they have followed the proper procedures..

After seeing the disastrous response and reply from his men, Abdul Fatah, as a seasoned politician, quickly cut short the meeting and cancelled the cheques presentation ceremony. He also suggested to meet the five-men committee and its lawyer and advisor in two weeks to find a solution.

Tang did not attend the meeting today because he has not recovered from an unusual accident he met last Sunday. His arm was badly burned by some exploded balloons during an opening ceremony at a Tamil school. Was that a warning sign of “divine punishment”? 

Villagers blamed Tang for not supporting the alternative plans. They also suspected Tang for having personal interest over the project.

The villagers earlier also hit out at their local MP Datuk Chan Kong Choy. Chan is also the Transport Minister and Deputy President of MCA.

The villagers have decided not to move out because they strongly believe that TNB should change the route of the transmission towers.

In the meeting, I have pointed out that RM31,000 was not even sufficient to buy a low-cost house in Selangor ( a unit cost RM42,000). Many of the affected homeowners were senior citizens. There’s no way they could get a bank loan or able to service the loan. With this kind of “chicken – feed” compensations, the villagers now have an added reason not to move out of their vaillage. 

The villagers staged a peaceful demonstration outside the land office before the meeting this morning. They also planned to present a memorandum to the Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang on coming Monday. They also hope to meet up with ministers and MPs in the Parliamentary House, seeking their help and assistance.

They have earlier raised some fund and now ready to bring their case to courts for a judiciary review. Selamat berjuang, orang kampung!

Bernama TV , Nanyang, Sinchew, China Press and oriental Daily have the reports…

土地局自行发搬迁赔偿函 万挠村民拒领领支票

2007/03/27 17:56:44
●南洋商报

(鹅麦27日讯)万挠新村由于扩建高压电缆被令搬迁的逾50名居民,仓促接获鹅麦土地局通知,要求居民前往索取土地赔偿金,令根本不愿搬迁的居民一头雾水,最终在会议上集体反对领取支票,并择日再谈。

这场仓促的领取支票会议星期二在鹅麦土地局举行,受通知领取支票的居民只有37户,大多在3月24日接获当局公函,共有逾50名村民出席今日的会议。

会议由掌管基本设施及公共服务的雪州行政议员拿督阿都法达主持。出席者包括鹅麦县长阿都加尼、万挠区州议员拿督邓诗汉代表吴亚岭、万挠新村反对建立高压电缆5人小组顾问刘天球及国能代表等。

一意孤行引不满

许多居民对于当局一意孤行要居民搬迁,甚至直接召集居民领取赔偿金的做法感到不满,尤其当局由始至终没有透露赔偿金的数额,居民也深感疑惑,因此纷纷出席会议了解详情。

国家能源公司在今次的土地赔偿金,一共支付423万8千874令吉44仙,但出席居民较后全体拒绝领取当局发出的支票。

阿都法达在席上已确定会在两个星期内召见5人小组,以商讨居民的搬迁意愿。

万挠新村居民是在2005年4月接获土地局的搬迁令,以便国能展开提升高压电缆的工程。

由于电缆将从3万3千瓦特提升至27万瓦特,居民皆担心有辐射的隐忧。而大部分居民都拥有地契,遂与土地局和国能展开冗长的拉锯战,风波至今都没有解决。

– 雪隆 –

国能声称4次召集对话 村民质疑会议有效性

2007/03/27 17:56:45

●南洋商报

国能代表在今次会议上声称已举行4次会议召集受影响村民对话,并且公布会议获得“出席村民”所同意的赔偿金,在数额公布后,即刻遭到村民炮轰。

万挠新村反对建立高压电缆5人小组的代表律师陈辉泉在会议上率先质疑当局召开会议的有效性。

不晓得谁出席会议

陈辉泉指出,几乎没有听闻居民接获当局发出的公函,也不晓得究竟谁出席了会议,并且同意搬迁、接受当局的土地赔偿金。

顾问刘天球则指出,当局公布的赔偿金根本不合理,而村民最终的意愿就是不搬迁。如今却罔顾村民的意愿,贸然号召村民领取支票。

阿都法达聆听出席村民的意见后,同意延后发赔偿金。

“既然村民说重要的5人小组没有出席之前的会议,那么我会再召开一次会议,确保村民代表都出席。”

阿都法达表示,这场由他主持的会议会在两周内召开,他希望到时能取得完满解决的方案

今日焦點-China Press
建高壓電纜獲賠
37戶拒簽收逾423萬

● 地點:萬撓新村

林成錩展示部份居民在本月24日收到,接領賠償支票的通知書。
(士拉央27日訊)鵝嘜縣土地局今日召見萬繞新村37戶,受高壓電纜計劃影響的居民,以移交總值423萬8874令吉44仙的賠償支票;惟所有出席居民拒絕簽收,要求進一步談判。

萬撓新村反對建立高壓電纜5人小組決定採取雙管齊下的行動,並訂于4月2日,召集所有受影響的居民,到國會大廈進行和平請願,以尋求國會議員及首相關注。

同時,他們也計劃採取法律行動,入稟法庭爭取權益。

拒絕接領支票

在會議上,居民代表以3大理由,拒絕接領支票,即(1)不曾談判,居民不知道賠償數額、(2)不是所有受影響的居民,被通知在今日接領賠償支票及(3)堅持不搬,要高壓電纜計劃進行繞道。

他們是在上午9時30分,出席在鵝嘜縣土地局行動室,由雪州行政議員拿督阿都法達主持歷時兩小時的會議上,如是披露。

出席者包括鵝嘜縣長阿都干尼沙烈、萬撓新村反對建立高壓電纜5人小組代表、顧問劉天球、萬撓新村村長唐可鏵、士拉央區國州議員代表吳亞嶺、鵝嘜縣新村發展官陳德璋、居民代表律師陳輝泉、國能代表等,出席居民約50人。

影響學生求學環境

萬撓新村反對建立高壓電纜5人小組發言人林成錩強調,高壓電纜影響的不單是住家,還有鄰近三育華小學生的求學環境。

“我們看不出任何理由,為何政府推翻繞道建議,並質疑當中可能涉及個人利益問題。”

他促請受該計劃影響的居民,為了其他居民及學生的學習環境著想,應拒絕搬遷,堅持到底維護共有的利益。

“但若有居民欲接受賠償支票的話,那是他們的自由,我們無可奈何。”

不過,他表示,5人小組並不因此罷休,相反的會採取雙管齊下的行動,即4月2日到國會大廈和平請願,另外也採取法律行動。

4度召見談賠償
鵝嘜縣長:僅37戶資料完整

鵝嘜縣長阿都干尼沙烈指出,縣土地局在過去一年曾4度召見受高壓電纜計劃影響的萬撓新村居民,商討賠償事宜,但一些居民沒有出席才不知情。

“我們曾與他們商討賠償事宜,他們也知道相關的賠償數額。”

他說,國能在今日準備了37張支票,賠償額介于3萬1000令吉至16萬7000令吉之間,總值423萬8874令吉44仙。

同時,他也澄清,根據國能的普查顯示,受影響的居民共有51戶,但基于國能沒有部份土地聯絡人的資料,故此只發出接領賠償支票通知書,給資料完整的37戶居民。

他說,資料不完整的土地包括空置住家、神廟、民眾會堂等,並非縣土地局忽略他們,有關單位的負責人可以主動聯絡縣土地局或國能。

不過,他拒談繞道的建議,只表示高壓電纜是政府的計劃。

此外,針對政府推翻高壓電纜繞道建議,雪州行政議員拿督阿都法達解釋,這是由于繞道地點不適合,涉及其他發展計劃,一旦徵用土地所需費用將倍增。

他聲明,州政府在州行政議會會議,以大多數人的意見通過議決,並不會受少部份人影響。

“政府並無意刁難居民,我們要與居民好好坐下解決問題,不希望事件被政治化。”

他表示,本身會在未來兩星期召見萬撓新村反對建立高壓電纜5人小組,進一步商討相關事宜。

同時,他指出,居民如果有意接受賠償,但不滿意賠償數額的話,可以透過代表律師提出上訴,由縣土地局及國能做出考量。

All,not just the Chinese, should vote against Umno-led BN!

March 26, 2007
Should Machap voters vote for the Umno-led BN candidate from MCA? NO!Not only the Chinese voters in Machap have no reasons to vote for BN; even the Indians, Malays and other Malaysians should not vote for BN.Every one of them, whether they are members of Umno, MIC, MCA or not affliated with any BN parties, should vote against the BN in this by-election.

Why?

Because BN only serves the interest of its leaders. And these top leaders have screwed up the entire country after 50 years of power.

Umno claims that they are the protector of the Malay race. That’s a bullshit. Umno leaders only care for their families and cronies, not even the Umnoputras. Ordinary members of Umno get peanuts. All the free shares and equity went to the top leaders.

MCA claims that they are the custodians of the Chinese race. Bullshit! All their top leaders care were their own pockets. Datukship, land titles, contracts and business opportunities… you name it.

MIC? What S. Samy Vellu could do was to dish out a few hundred ringgit here and there for some desperate Hindu temples and Tamil schools. Even collections during Deepavali celebration at Batu Caves were said to be unaccounted for. The entire Indian community was marginalised all these years, leaving the community worse off than the Chinese and Malay communities.

The Chinese can never forget the way they were treated by the racist Umno. The systematic marginalisation mentioned by Lee Kuan Yew was not untrue. NEP and racial quotas were just a few examples. If you want a new Chinese primary school, you have to wait for one to close shop first. Ong Ka Ting call it “qian xiao”- moving to a new school. They even persuaded the Umno minister to close down a Chinese school in Damansara because their friends were eyeing the land for development.

The Chinese can never forget Hisham and the Umno youth gang waving the Malay keris when giving speeches full of hatred and racial undertones. They also cannot forget the MCA leaders-Youth or Wanita or the Main party-keeping quite and do nothing. All so disgustingly timid and spineless. And now they have the cheeks to come to Machap,and talk big too! Have MCA forgotten about the pig farms issue? They don’t even have guts to protect the animals they love to eat!

The Malays with brains are asking,” where’s my share of APs?” And ” where’s my bumi equity?” And “why is it so difficult for my children to get a job after graduation?” And ” only their menantus and anak get all the benefits? How about my menantus and my sons?”

And many Indian are still asking about Maika Holding scandal. They were cheated with their life savings by their own leaders. They are now very angry with the authority for tearing down their temples all to fast and merciless. And too many of their youths have died in police lock-ups each year. Many of them are now involved in gangsterism as a result of marginalisation. And many of their schools are in poor conditions. Funds from the government were always hard to to come by.

Other races in Malaysia were more or less being treated the same way. All the goodies and benefits were confined to the inner circle of BN leaders.

When the price of petrol, diesel and cooking gas went up, BN members were no different from DAP members. They too have to bear with the burden.

And who says MCA members no need to pay tolls?

Those who think Machap could escape the petrol and toll hikes better rethink. All the lorries that carry food and goods from outside have to go through the tolled highways. The cost of transportation must be paid by the Machap people.

We urge all voters in Machap to wake up. Ask them questions when these BN top guns come to you house to shake hands with you. If you don’t like their face, close the door right in front of them. If you don’t want to be hypocrites, you need not shake their dirty hands.

Teach them a lesson on behalf of all Malaysians, ok?

Anyway, read what Najib has got to say if you have time…

 BN confident of Chinese support in Machap

Mar 26, 07 10:41am Malaysiakini
Deputy premier Najib Abdul Razak expressed confidence that the country’s minority ethnic Chinese population will support the national coalition in an upcoming by-election.The by-election in the Machap constituency in Malacca will be held on April 12 following the death of its state assembly member, Poh Ah Tiam.Najib, who is also the deputy chairman of the Barisan Nasional (BN) and the ruling Umno, said that past by-elections has proven that the Chinese backed the coalition.

“There are certain parties trying to portray that the BN no longer garners good support from Chinese voters. The fact is that they (Chinese voters) understand very well that their well-being lies with the BN,” Najib said.

The Barisan Nasional coalition that has ruled Malaysia for almost half a century consists of the dominant Umno, the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) and other smaller parties.

In a recent by-election in the Batu Talam constituency in Pahang state, the BN candidate had trounced an independent with a majority win. The opposition camps had boycotted the vote.

In 2004, prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi led the coalition to a landslide victory, winning 198 out of 219 parliamentary seats during the general elections.
The coalition has won all the by-elections held since then.

Good dry-run

However Najib has said that retaining “extraordinary achievement” in the general elections will not be easy, state Bernama news agency reported.

Parliamentary opposition leader Lim Kit Siang told AFP that the Machap by-election would be a “good dry-run” for both the opposition and the national front ahead of an expected early elections.

“It is a dry run of sorts but the important distinction is that it is a rural constituency so it is not that difficult for the BN as they have a considerable influence here,” said the DAP leader Lim.

“It will be a sort of barometer to determine Chinese support,” he added.

Machap is a predominantly Chinese constituency, accounting for 45.7 percent of the population, with a 39.5 percent Malay electorate.

– AFP

NO to privitasation of public health care system

March 26, 2007

Health Minister Dr Chua Soi Lek is a typical MCA politician. He refuses to meet the Coalition and keeps all the interim reports away from the NGOs. He is even thinking about privatising the ambulance service in Malaysia. Public health care under his leadership is very worrying. Malaysians must act together to prevent the system from being destroyed by such politician.

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Forum on Health Care Financing

“No” to any more new taxes on the rakyat!

“No” to any measures that will weaken the Government Hospitals further!

“No” to schemes that penalize GP’s for referring patients to Specialists.

“Yes!” A separate Health Commission for Health Care Personnel so that their pay scales can be improved.

“Yes!” Government allocation to health should be increased from RM 10 billion per year which is 2% of GDP, to at least RM 16 billion.

“Yes!” There should be a Moratorium on the setting up of any more Private Hospitals.

 

These were some of the decisions that emanated from the Forum on Health Financing Reform held today 25/3/07 at the Univ. Malaya, Post Graduate Centre Auditorium.

A Consultant, Mr Karl Karol, was appointed in June 2006 to plan Health Financing Reform for Malaysia. Although he has come up with 2 Interim Reports, neither of these have been released to any Consumer Group nor to the GMPPK. They have been chopped “sulit” and kept from public eye. The Final Report is due in April 2007, but still the Malaysian Public has not been given any idea as to the direction of the proposed changes.

It is for this reason that FOMCA, the GMPPK (Coalition Against the Privatisation of Health Services) and the UM General Staff Union decided that the issues being discussed by the Consultant and the Malaysian Government should be exposed to the Malaysian Public.

Although the Ministry of Health and the EPU declined to participate in this Forum, the GMPPK defied the OSA and presented a detailed analysis of the 200 page Interim Report that was submitted by the Consultant in February 2007

As Dr Subra, the GMPPK Chairman said, ” This not about building a nuclear bomb. This is about a basic need, and the public has the right to have a say!”  

The 90 odd participants who attended this Forum were disturbed to hear that the Consultant is proposing a slate of neo-liberal measures and mechanisms. An ear-marked VAT (GST) is to be implemented to raise money for the National Health Fund which will then pay for treatment in both Government and in Private Hospitals. All government hospitals are to be corporatised so that they will behave like efficient businesses. Patients can only access the system through their designated GP. If they bypass their GP they will have to meet the costs themselves. Over use of the facilities will be curtailed by penalising the GPs who refer more than their quota!

The speakers, Ms Indrani (FOMCA), Dato Dr Toh Kin Woon (Penang State EXCO), Dr Subramaniam (GMPPK/Aliran) and Dr Kumar (GMPPK/PSM) stressed that Malaysia had a good and efficient health care system up till the 1980’s. The promotion of private hospitals after 1980 led to a severe brain drain such that at present only 30% of the specialists in the country are in government service, although 70% of inpatients still are admitted to government hospitals. Privatisation of pharmaceutical procurement and the 5 support services are among the main causes of rising costs.  

  

The implementation of neo-liberal measures have created the current problems in our health care system ,” Dr Kumar declared. “Now the Consultant is proposing even more neo-liberal changes claiming that these will correct the harm done by the first batch of neo-liberal changes!”

Dr Toh explained that health, like education, is a “merit good” – the benefit of which goes far beyond just the immediate consumer of that good. It has to be delivered by the government and not by for-profit businesses.  

Many questions and ideas came up from the audience at discussion time. Kiren (CAP) felt that the government should be more open, and that the private sector should be controlled. Dr Chan Chee Khoon (Citizen Health Initiative) pointed out that the biggest 2 private hospital chains are controlled by government through the Johor SEDC and Khazanah. What is the role of government he asked.

Dr Rafael, a visitor from Puerto Rica, shared how neo-liberal measures like the ones in the Consultants Report have wrecked the Health Care System in his country and urged us to be vigilant. Dato Dr McCoy (Former President of the MMA) said that the root of the problem is the collapse of the Soviet Union and the discreditation of Socialism. The problem the whole world is facing is unfettered American Capitalism that has become arrogant as there is no longer any Socialist opposition. He argued that corporate tax in Malaysia is far too low, and that government should increase corporate tax if it needed more funds.

The consensus was that it is important that we act together to save our Health Care System. We need to take the message to our friends and families. Only by working together can we safeguard our health.

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by Dr Kumar (PSM)

How about “Badawi Development Region” for Penang?

March 25, 2007
 Johor Bahru seafront

Iskandar Development Region (IDR) is seen as “Shenzhen for China” to many businessmen. It’s in a way a special region for development with special incentives unavailable in other Malaysian economic centres. Some businessmen has described the IDR as “one nation,two systems”. Because only investors in IDR enjoys the exemption of the usual 30% bumi quota.

Following the disclosure of some special incentives schemes by the prime minister, one of the advisors of IDR Tun Musa Hitam openly proposed to do away with the usual 30% racial quota. It was reported in the press that the PM has decided to accept the proposal but it was said that the exemption was meant for foreign investments. Another report said that the exemption was only meant for six selected sectors, i.e. creative industries, logistics, education, tourism, financial advisory and consulting and health care. It was not for all industries. The IRD Authority has not explained why only six selected industries were given the special exemption and why these six were selected.

It was also not clear at this point whether the exemption also covers domestic investments. We hope it does cover local investors for all fairness; if the answer is otherwise, the local investors may have to set up companies in Singapore and use them as their investment arms for the IDR. That will be the biggest joke of the day!

IDR, as a concept, should work for the southern region. It will certainly attract some if not many investors from Singapore and Indonesia. Those who believe the IDR is flood-proned would not come. Likewise with those who dislike the racial quota(Remembered? Only six industries were exempted according to Najib)

But how about the northen region of Peninsular Malaysia? Umno has been complaining day and night about Penang being left out as an economic centre and how the Malays were being marginalised in Penang. Why don’t we set our eyes on Balik Pulau, which is said to be backward with no development?

Why don’t Abdullah Ahmad Badawi kick start a similar plan for Balik Pulau? Call it Badawi Development Region and provide similar incentive schemes and exemption of racial quota like what they did with IDR. Such “Shenzhen-like” special development region should be attractive to investors from Thailand and India. after all, Penang is a natural port with a great potential nothing less than South Johore.No?

A businessman I know asked me a question which even AAB and Najib would not dare to answer – why don’t we do away with the 30% bumi quota to promote economic development throughout Malaysia? It’s a question only opposition leaders like Anwar Ibrahim and Lim Kit Siang can answer.

Roundup: Malaysia announces incentives for Iskandar Development Region

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Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Thursday announced a package of policy incentives to spur the development of the South Johor Economic Region, also known as “Iskandar Development Region”.These incentives apply to qualifying companies in six targeted sectors, namely, creative industry, educational services, financial advisory and consulting, healthcare, logistics and tourism related services.Badawi unveiled the incentives, the first package announced for the Iskandar Development Region (IDR), at the Investment Malaysia Conference 2007 here.Firstly, those qualifying companies will be exempted from corporate income tax for activities within these zones and outside Malaysia for 10 years upon commencement of operations.Secondly, qualifying companies will be exempted from withholding tax on certain payments for 10 years upon commencement of operations.The condition for the above-mentioned two incentives is that those companies should commence their operation before the end of year 2015.Thirdly, qualifying companies in the six sectors will enjoy exemption from Foreign Investment Committee rules, have freedom to source capital globally and can employ foreign employees within the approved zones without employment restrictions.”Further details of the incentives and support package will be announced in due course by the one-stop-center Iskandar Regional Development Authority,” the prime minister said.He added the Malaysian government will continue to review those incentives to ensure the competitiveness of the IDR.Meanwhile, Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) released a media statement after Badawi’s speech to clarify those incentives.

IRDA said to qualify for those incentives, companies must be approved by IRDA and carry out the qualifying activities in designated zones, for customers within the zones and outside Malaysia. These companies will be known as IRDA-status companies.

In lieu of exemption from the Foreign Investment Committee rules, IRDA-status companies will be required to make a contribution to the Social Projects Fund. The fund will be administered by IRDA for social welfare development in IDR.

While qualifying companies will be free to employ foreign employees in these zones, IRDA said it expects Malaysians to make up the large majority of the workforce.

Located in the southernmost Johor state, the IDR encompasses 2, 217 square kilometers of land, covering the logistic triangle of Senai Airport to the north, Port of Tanjung Pelepas to the southwest, and Johor Port in Pasir Gudang to the southeast. The state capital city of Johor Bahru and Nusajaya, the planned state new administrative center, are located within this region.

Envisioned to be the leading new growth engine in the country, the economic region was officially launched by Badawi on Nov. 4, 2006.

Malaysian government targets a total investment of 50 billion ringgit (14.29 billion U.S. dollars) in the first five years for IDR. Badawi on Thursday said the first batch of investment worth approximately 4 billion ringgit (1.14 billion U.S. dollars) is currently being finalized.

Source: Xinhua