Thursday, December 31, 2020

Agama Minister: Un-Halal Meat? No one knows - Up to you

MM Online:

Up to individuals to avoid consuming imported meat, says minister

A worker arranging imported frozen meat at a meat shop in Ipoh December 28, 2020. Muslims have the option not to eat imported meat especially if they have doubts about the halal status of the product, said Datuk Seri Zulkifli Mohamad. — Picture by Farhan Najib

KUALA NERUS, Dec 30 — Muslims have the option not to eat imported meat especially if they have doubts about the halal status of the product, Datuk Seri Zulkifli Mohamad said.

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) said it has been mentioned in the hadith, “Leave that which makes you doubt for that which does not make you doubt.”

“As such to be certain, I visited the two frozen meat factories two days ago to ensure that the requirements on imported meat are according to the import regulations and standards,” he told reporters after the Inspirasiku programme at Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (UniSZA), here today.

He said this when asked to comment on the statement by Perak deputy mufti Datuk Zamri Hashim who reportedly urged Muslims to exercise their buying power by staying away from imported meat, especially beef, until the issue affecting the halal status of imported meat is resolved.

Zulkifli said this was Zamri’s view and recommendation on exercising caution if people have doubts and cannot establish whether the imported meat they are eating is halal.

However, he said the authorities related to this issue including the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP) and the Malaysian Islamic Development Department (Jakim) have already given clear explanation to alleviate the anxieties and doubts of the Muslim community.

Deputy Minister (KPDNHEP) Datuk Rosol Wahid in a programme yesterday said, the country’s three largest frozen meat suppliers, namely the Allana Group, Amroon and Al-Aali are among those that are guaranteed halal and Muslims in the country should not worry about purchasing meat from the three companies.

In a related development, Zulkifli said it was still too early for him to decide on a major overhaul for Jakim.

“It is too early for us to say anything now, I prefer making improvements and increasing quality...we will look into this more thoroughly from various aspects. As I have said, we will cooperate with several parties and update the SOP (standard operating procedures) implemented by Jakim and others, involved in the import of meat,” he said.

He said this in response to a proposal from Malay Consultative Council (MPM) advisory board member Tun Hanif Omar, who had called for a major reshuffling of Jakim and to appoint those who are more competent, capable and with integrity to lead the department. — Bernama

Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Karim: Mahathir toks kok on his Malay support


Previously, With just 13 MPs I had shown the World of 101% Malay support for me.

Anwar's influence, not Mahathir, attracted Malay voters in GE14

Pakatan Harapan's increased Malay support in the 14th general election had nothing to do with Dr Mahathir Mohamad's influence, said Pasir Gudang MP Hassan Karim.

The PKR lawmaker rubbished the former premier's claims that Harapan may not be able to secure Malay supporting the future without the latter's involvement in the coalition.

Mahathir claimed to have been instrumental in attracting Malay support during the 2018 general election but Hassan stressed that based on Mahathir's previous party Bersatu's electoral record, it failed to secure Malay support notably in the rural and Felda areas.

"Bersatu contested 52 parliamentary seats in the peninsular especially in Malay-majority areas but they lost badly to Umno.

"From 52 seats, Bersatu, led by Mahathir, only won 13," he said in a statement.

Hassan added that this is in contrast with PKR which contested 50 seats and emerged victorious in 48, making it the party with the most seats in Harapan.

He said that Bersatu had also lost in fights for state seats.

"For instance, in Johor, from 56 assembly seats, Bersatu fought in 18 which were Malay-majority, but it only won eight.

"Where is Mahathir's strength among the Malays?"

Mahathir had promised to hand over power to PKR president Anwar Ibrahim. However, the 22-month-old Harapan government collapsed in February this year after Bersatu withdrew itself from the coalition.

Mahathir had opposed Bersatu's move but he and his faction were eventually kicked out from the party, now led by Muhyiddin Yassin. He then formed a new party called Pejuang.

He reiterated that he is ready to work with Harapan again but alleged that Anwar has now refused to work with him.

In an interview with China Press, Mahathir said that even DAP managed to win 42 seats because of the Malay support which he brought in and stated that excluding him from Harapan amounts to excluding Malay support.

However, Hassan disagreed with the nonagenarian's confidence in his ability to attract Malay voters.

He said the increase in Malay support in the last election was due to Harapan rejecting the Najib Razak-led BN government as well as the voters sympathising with Anwar who was oppressed by the government.

"The suggestion to lift Anwar as the prime minister if Harapan managed to topple Najib and BN had resulted in the support of young Malay voters and the educated middle-income Malay segment.

"It's clear that Anwar's influence in these two groups had helped Harapan. It's not because of Mahathir's influence," he said.

Hassan added that, in fact, it was PKR and DAP that helped Bersatu candidates to win the polls.

Mahathir eff BERSATU for being a multiracial party

MM Online:

Perikatan govt not ‘Malay-Muslim’ as support lies with non-Muslim MPs, Dr Mahathir says

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad speaking during the Amanat Perjuangan 2021 event, in Shah Alam, December 31, 2020. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 31 — Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s claim that it had formed a “majority Malay-Muslim government” under the Perikatan Nasional administration is a “lie”, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has said today.

The Parti Pejuang Tanah Air chairman said the majority held by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is only possible following Bersatu accepting non-Malay and non-Muslim MPs defecting from PKR.

“The other members, coming from PKR they are non-Muslims and they claimed they want to form a Malay-Muslim government. We never claimed that,’’ said Dr Mahathir, referring to Bersatu’s stance under his stewardship in the then Pakatan Harapan coalition.

“Of course we need to have our own dominance perhaps but Malay interest will be looked after by us in the context of a multiracial government. That has been the case of Malaysia since independence. There has never been a Malay-Muslim government.

“Now is proven to be a lie, because Bersatu which is a Malay-Muslim party is now a multiracial party,’’ he said, referring to the party’s recent admission of non-Bumiputera members.

Happy New Year


Prasarana chairperson Tajuddin Abdul Rahman MUST answer on non-payment to LRT3 contractors


LRT3 firms want govt’s help as Tajuddin-led Prasarana withholds RM700m payments

The top executives of 17 contractors and consulting firms involved in the LRT3 project have turned to the government for help as they are owed more than RM700 million for work done since July and this amount is expected to break RM1 billion this month.

According to a joint-letter which the companies sent to Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz and Transport Minister Wee Ka Siong today, they said Prasarana has not paid them for the work done on the LRT3 project from July to December and are now facing difficulty to continue with the rail construction.

"Dato' Seri, in order to ensure the project meets the deadline of development progress as set by Prasarana, we have tried our best to fund the works through our own internal funds.

"However, we can no longer do so as the outstanding sum owed is quite huge. This is putting major pressure on our finances and has impacted the development progress of this project," according to the letters sighted by Malaysiakini.

It is understood that the same letter will also be sent to Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin on Monday.

Sources familiar with the matter said Prasarana chairperson Tajuddin Abdul Rahman has been turning the screws as he wants a say on the appointment of subcontractors for the LRT3 project.

Tajuddin Abdul Rahman

The Umno leader was appointed as the Prasarana chairperson in May.

At the time of writing, Tajuddin has yet to respond to Malaysiakini's requests for comment.

"We have no comments on this subject for now," said a Prasarana official in a text message.

One of the sources told Malaysiakini that the delays were despite Prasarana having the funds to make the payments owed to MRCB-George Kent as the project's main contractor.

"The project progress by the 17 companies has reached 43.4 percent as of the end of November.

"What is the rationale of withholding the payment to MRCB-George Kent when the companies have worked hard to achieve the progress and exceeded target?" asked the source.

The 43.4 percent progress on the 37.6km-long LRT3 is ahead of the 40 percent target by the end of the year.

The source said an RM280 million received on Oct 3 was only for work done between February until June.

Prasarana, a wholly-owned unit of the Finance Ministry, is the owner of the LRT3 project.

Meanwhile, MRCB-George Kent, a 50-50 joint venture of Malaysian Resources Corp Bhd and George Kent (M) Bhd, is the turnkey contractor.

A total of 17 companies, including MRCB-George Kent, are involved in the construction of the LRT3 line.

According to the letters, the withheld payments have led to a chain of delayed payments not only to suppliers and other stakeholders, but also commitments with financial institutions.

The situation is also made worse by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic to local businesses and their overall operations involving over 10,000 workers, they said.

Documents sighted by Malaysiakini stated that payments from Prasarana to MRCB-George Kent is due on the eighth of every month for immediate release to the subcontractors.

Prasarana had previously declined to comment on a report by The Edge which questioned the leadership and direction of the company since Tajuddin's appointment as chairperson.

Earlier this month, The Malaysian Reserve reported that Prasarana had demanded more say in the appointment of subcontractors, but their request was rejected by MRCB-George Kent, resulting in the withheld payments.

The financial daily also quoted a source who alleged that a high-ranking individual in Prasarana had asked MRCB-George Kent to award a work package worth some RM300 million to a particular firm linked to the individual.

The LRT3 project started in August 2015 with an initial budget of RM10 billion to serve some two million people along the Bandar Utama-Johan Setia route but the costs tripled to a whopping RM31.65 billion.

It was among several mega infrastructure projects reviewed by the federal government after Pakatan Harapan came into power in May 2018.

In July 2018, the LRT3 project resumed with the final total costs reportedly reduced by 47 percent to RM16.63 billion.

Among the changes include replacing the project delivery partner model with the turnkey model.

The completion date of the 37.6km rail track was also extended from 2020 to 2024.

With just 13 MPs I had shown the World of 101% Malay support for me


Dr M: Excluding me from opposition coalition means no Malay support

Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad claimed that Pakatan Harapan may not be able to secure Malay support in the next general election if it refuses to cooperate with him.

Mahathir said this is based on the fact that his involvement in Harapan during the 2018 general election helped bolster the opposition coalition's Malay support.

"I had helped the opposition to win (in GE14) because I brought in Malay support. You know DAP, which could never get more than 18 seats, get 42 seats because of the Malay support I brought in," he said in an interview with China Press.

"So, if you exclude me, you are going to exclude Malay support, you are going to lose," he added.

For the record, Harapan won 89 seats in the 2013 general election with DAP securing 38 parliamentary seats. The coalition, with the help of Bersatu which Mahathir founded, won a total 113 parliamentary seats in the 2018 general election.

While Harapan's Malay support did increase, helping to put the Harapan parties across the finishing line in marginal seats with substantial Malay population, its inroads in the Malay rural heartland was still limited with Bersatu only winning 13 seats.

While Amanah and DAP still want to continue cooperating with Mahathir, PKR president Anwar Ibrahim is less keen.

Mahathir said he wants to cooperate with Anwar but the latter had rejected all his proposals.

"What have I done to him? I released him (from prison) and I wasn't due to step down. And yet I stepped down earlier.

"I didn't stop him, I wanted to work with him, I told him that, 'Okay, if you don't like me, let me have six months because if you don't have the Malay support, the opposition cannot win’," said Mahathir.

Mahathir was made prime minister after Harapan and its Sabah-based ally Warisan won in the 2018 general election.

However, the government collapsed after 22 months following Bersatu's withdrawal from the coalition and a series of defections.

Mahathir, who was opposed to Bersatu's move, was eventually expelled from the party. He is now forming a new party called Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang).

He was supposed to eventually hand over power to Anwar but the collapse of the Harapan government made the agreement moot.

Revelations that Mahathir had planned to fulfil his promise by resigning as prime minister but did not intend to rally the backing of Bersatu MPs for Anwar, thus possibly allowing him to return as prime minister when Anwar cannot muster enough support, also soured the relations between the two men.

Anwar must make sure he has the support to become the next prime minister, said Mahathir.

"But look at the record, how many times had he claimed to secure the support? But he doesn't have the support," he said.

He also revealed that many of Anwar's staunch supporters asked him not to let Anwar take over the premiership.

"As such, I made up my mind, in case (we) don't want Anwar to succeed, then let the Dewan Rakyat make the call," he said.

Among the defectors that helped bring down the Harapan government included Anwar's own party deputy Azmin Ali, who is also the Gombak MP.

Mahathir noted that even when Anwar claimed to have secured majority support in September - which did not materialise - the Port Dickson MP had also made clear that he will exclude him.

"When Anwar said he had the support, he has made it clear that he would exclude me. If he has the support, then show it, but he does not have it.

"They (government MPs) pledged to support Anwar probably because of the promises made by him. But those who are part of the ruling coalition know well that by ousting Muhyiddin Yassin, they will have to step down too and their future is pretty uncertain," he said.

During the Budget 2021 vote, Anwar was only able to garner a maximum of 108 MPs, three shy of defeating the fiscal document.

At present, there are 220 MPs in the 222-member Dewan Rakyat and two vacancies.

Amanah and DAP have been working to break the stalemate between Anwar and Mahathir but with little success.

Amanah touted a grand coalition to unite all opposition forces, while Selangor PKR Youth said it is open to discussing the possibility but insisted that the arrangement cannot include Mahathir.

Anwar had expressed willingness to work with "anyone" - including Mahathir - as long as the coalition’s principles are honoured and the collaborators must not bring forth "personal agendas".

However, Mahathir noted that what Anwar expected was for blanket support from him which he cannot do.

Are DAP, PKR listening to Teng and Rafizi?


Are DAP, PKR listening to Teng and Rafizi?

I think it’s about time that political parties seriously adopt a ‘speak-up culture’ within their ranks. What I meant by “seriously” is that all party members and cadres must be encouraged to speak up even against their top leaders when there is a pressing need to do so.

Party leaders can argue that their members are already doing so, but is there really a mechanism put in place to encourage such a culture? I don’t think so.

Recently, I read an article about the speak-up culture, in which compliance experts share practical insights on how to establish such a culture in the workplace.

The writer notes that speaking up in the face of problems is not as welcomed and practised as it could, should and needs to be for the health of an organisation and all its stakeholders.

“A speak-up culture is not accomplished without its value first being recognised and a detailed plan for accomplishing it being implemented, supported, reviewed, adjusted and carried out skillfully and in a way that employees trust,” he adds.

I see the need and relevance for such a culture in political parties too. A successful speak-up culture must be consistent and aligned with the party’s objectives and values and be an integral part of the overall party culture.

Of late, two senior leaders of DAP and PKR, Teng Chang Khim and Rafizi Ramli respectively, have been very vocal.

I bother to pay attention to what they say because they are not the known lame and weak politicians who thrive on politicking and issue stale and monotonous statements like many of their colleagues. When they see the need to bring up their concerns to the public domain, particularly on party matters, they came out with their guns blazing.

No, I was not at all surprised with Teng’s statement urging his party veteran leader Lim Kit Siang and secretary-general Lim Guan Eng to make way for new leaders.

Selangor exco member Teng Chang Khim

The Selangor exco member gave his reasons which I think are valid and compelling although I do not necessarily agree with them.

On the other hand, Rafizi issued a stern warning to his party president, Anwar Ibrahim, to act immediately against certain individuals in the party whom he considers to be "scoundrels and opportunists".

According to the PKR veep, these people have surrounded Anwar and had brought a dangerous culture to the party.

But are the party leaders listening to the concerns expressed by Teng and Rafizi? They could have in private, but it has been eerily silent in the media.

Political reset

I think that the top leadership of the two parties should examine the duo’s concerns and act upon them where necessary. I think Teng and Rafizi meant well in airing their grouses even if their party bosses resent them for doing so publicly.

Teng is not known to be in the inner circle of the Lims; this is probably why he is more at ease speaking up on what is probably a taboo subject in the DAP.

On the coming DAP elections, I support Teng’s suggestion that Gobind Singh Deo be the next party’s secretary-general.

Guan Eng has recently proposed a “political reset” for Pakatan Harapan. What about implementing the new reset at home first, in the DAP?

If Gobind is elected the sec-gen, he will be the first non-Chinese to lead the DAP. That, to me, is a real political reset. Perhaps, it will also erase the ‘racist Chinese’ stigma (which is not true, of course) associated with the party.

Gobind is senior and experienced enough to hold the top DAP post. If I must add, the Singh family has also sacrificed as much as the Lims for DAP and the people. That is undeniable. (God bless Karpal Singh.)

As for Rafizi’s claim of scoundrels and opportunists in PKR, I take that as a fair warning to Anwar. Many are aware of a certain shady character within the president’s circle who has been in the news for getting into trouble with the law.

PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli

Rafizi is also a PKR vice-president and supposedly Anwar’s second-in-command. Given his position, he has the right and responsibility too to help put things right in the party.

Harapan partners have been shouting about establishing a ‘grand coalition’ of the opposition to face Perikatan Nasional in GE15.

Before that, it only makes sense to put your own house in order first. When there is nothing ‘grand’ within your party, it is silly and a waste of time to talk about building something grand outside with other parties.

The talk of an opposition grand coalition, to me, is a syiok sendiri sound bite at the moment. It’s a familiar old tune which we have heard all too often. I doubt that will ever succeed with the messy situation Harapan is in today, both internally and in its inter-party relations.

I say, promote and encourage the speak-up culture in your parties. Leaders may soon learn that ordinary party members who are usually quiet are equally responsible and passionate in giving ideas on moving forward.

But first, they must be given the avenue and opportunity and be encouraged to speak up, even if it means taking on the top party leadership.

A party without ‘blind, deaf and dumb’ followers will most surely progress and succeed.

FRANCIS PAUL SIAH is the author of ‘Hijack in Malaysia: The Fall of Pakatan Harapan’. Obtain autographed copies from

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Yanks ban import of M'sian palm oil

MM Online:

Citing forced labour, US bans import of Sime Darby’s palm oil, related products

A general view of the Sime Darby Plantation headquarters in Petaling Jaya October 2, 2019. In a statement, the CBP said a withhold release order was issued based on information that Sime Darby Plantation has 11 of the mark of forced labour designated by the International Labour Organisation. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 30 — The United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has announced today that its personnel will detain any palm oil and products manufactured by Sime Darby Plantation Bhd and its subsidiaries or affiliates.

In a statement, the CBP said a withhold release order was issued based on information that Sime Darby Plantation has 11 of the mark of forced labour designated by the International Labour Organisation.

“American consumers can help end modern slavery by choosing to buy products they know are ethically and humanely sourced,” its acting commissioner Mark A. Morgan said in the statement.

In July, a Hong Kong-based anti-trafficking NGO called Liberty Shared had petitioned against Malaysian palm oil giant Sime Darby Plantation Bhd due to alleged child and forced labour.

In the petition filed with the US Customs and Border Protection agency in April, the group urged a ban on imports of the firm’s palm oil products.

The petition’s summary said workers and civil society it interviewed revealed complaints of arbitrary penalties, threats of and actual sexual harassment, physical threats and abuse, various and inconsistent deductions in pay, varying conditions of accommodation, and fees charged for basic facilities.

The report also pointed at mistreatment of foreign workers, and unlawful practices by recruitment agents.

Malaysia is the world’s second largest producer of palm oil, the most consumed edible oil, with Sime Darby Plantation one of the largest in the industry here with a history stretching back to the 1800s.

Malay Mail is contacting Sime Darby Plantation and its parent company Sime Darby Group Bhd for comment over this latest decision.

It had in July said it would reach out to anti-trafficking group Liberty Shared as it is concerned over the serious allegations made by the Hong Kong-based group that were submitted to the CBP.

The firm also admitted to the challenges and complexity of the supply chains across the industry, but said it was committed to the No Deforestation, No Peat and No Exploitation (NDPE) approach.

Last year, the CBP had already issued a separate order against another Malaysian palm oil giant, FGV Holdings Bhd, following claims of child and forced labour, following two petitions — by the Grant & Eisenhofer ESG Institute, and International Labor Rights Forum, Rainforest Action Network and SumOfUs.

The US is one of the largest importers of Malaysian palm oil products. In 2019, exports of Malaysian palm oil products to the US were worth RM3.1 billion (1.1 million tonnes).

A PM and his billionaire sons


Mukhriz’s crass hypocrisy ignores father’s role in rising corruption

He must remember that he and two of his siblings were involved in questionable cases

It was Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s (left) actions that resulted in profligate corruption in Malaysia, and his sons may well have benefited from them, too. – Bernama pic, December 30, 2020

Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir’s assertion that Pejuang will not support a prime minister installed via statutory declarations (SDs) from corrupt Umno leaders is hypocrisy of the highest order. It ignores the fact that his father, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, was largely responsible for the profligate corruption in Malaysia.

Mukhriz should also have no need for reminders that he and two of his siblings were involved in cases that could well have involved corruption, but were spared because investigating authorities reported to the prime minister. More on that later.

If it was a consistent stand of Pejuang and its leaders, including Mukhriz’s father, it may be acceptable and laudable. But further examination shows that the statement is both hypocritical and ignorant of recent history, as well the more distant ones of corruption in Malaysia.

It was Dr Mahathir, whose Bersatu then won a dismal 13 seats at the end of the 14th general election in May 2018, who first wooed people, especially from Umno, to join Bersatu to eventually increase the numbers to some 36. So was it OK to admit Umno MPs then, but not work with them now? The only reason for the current stance is the obsessive desire of Dr Mahathir and allies to deny Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim the prime minister’s position.

Remember also that, if Dr Mahathir had just kept his promise to be only the interim prime minister, Anwar would have long succeeded him and none of these SD problems would have emerged. Pakatan would have been firmly ensconced in power and carrying out promised reforms.

Where were the reforms?

Talking of reforms, Mukhriz surely must be able to recall that, given the second chance to right things, Dr Mahathir never made any attempt thwarting it at every return. The net result: the effort to curb corrupt practices by removing over-concentration of power in the hands of one man never happened. The current back-door government is using this to the hilt.

And, don’t forget the unfettered power that Dr Mahathir assigned himself after the 1987 Op Lalang, when he shamelessly used oppressive legislation to detain over 100 key people, silence the media and brutally quell dissent after engineering racial dissent earlier.

This was preceded by a bruising battle for control of Umno when Dr Mahathir narrowly beat Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah for the president’s post. Ironically, the one who tipped the balance was vacillating Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who was prevailed upon by Anwar to cast his vote and those of his supporters for Dr Mahathir.

Dr Mahathir set up Umno Baru, admitting only those whom he favoured and excluding the Razaleigh faction, which went on to form Semangat 46. Dr Mahathir made it next to impossible to dislodge an incumbent Umno president and an incumbent prime minister, setting the stage for a series of decisions that was highly questionable in nature and would have been corrupt had authorities been free to investigate.

Before we go on to that, let’s talk first about the cases involving three of Dr Mahathir’s sons, including Mukhriz.

Mirzan and Konsortium Perkapalan

Mukhriz’s brother, Mirzan, was an upcoming logistics player, including in shipping, until his Korsortium Perkapalan became heavily laden with debt. Some analysts said it was too much debt. So, what did he do?

In May 1998, at the height of the Asian Financial Crisis (AFC), he made a deal with the Malaysian International Shipping Corp to sell Perkapalan’s shipping assets for US$220 million in cold, hard cash. MISC was owned by national oil company Petronas, which comes directly under the Prime Minister’s Department – Dr Mahathir was prime minister then. Mirzan had a 51% stake in Perkapalan.

In one fell swoop, he extinguished Perkapalan’s debt by that sale made during a very difficult time to a Petronas subsidiary. Many touted it as a bail-out for Mirzan, who may have gone bankrupt otherwise as economic conditions deteriorated following the AFC.

In 1998, when the AFC was peaking and businesses were facing enormous problems, the prime minister’s son had the good fortune of being saved by a national corporation under the Prime Minister’s Department. Does that not strike you as possible corruption, Mukhriz?

How Mokhzani became a billionaire

Another brother, Mokhzani, was involved in other businesses – in Phileo Land, part of the Phileo group of companies owned by businessman Tong Kooi Ong, who was close to Anwar in the 1990s.

Phileo Land was subsequently renamed Avenue Assets. It had, according to reports, an 18.4% stake in Phileo Allied, which in turn, wholly owned Phileo Allied Bank. In 2000, the bank was effectively sold to Malayan Banking for RM1.3 billion cash. Mokhzani’s publicly listed company, Tongkah Holdings, had cross-holdings with another quoted company, Pantai Holdings, in Phileo Allied. Pantai and Tongkah jointly owned a 28% stake in Phileo Land, a listed company.

There is considerable intrigue in the entire episode, with many linking the deal with a so-called split between former finance minister and Dr Mahathir crony, Tun Daim Zainuddin, and Dr Mahathir. Somehow, the prime minister's son was caught in the middle of it. The interest in Phileo Allied was the cash that would accrue to it from the sale of the bank. Mokhzani claimed then that he was exiting the business scene by selling his assets, but later reappeared in the petroleum industry.

His company was Kencana Petroleum, which, you guessed it, became a major Petronas contractor, during which time his father was an adviser to Petronas (Dr Mahathir was prime minister from 1981 to 2003, after which he came Petronas’ adviser). In 2012, Kencana merged with Sapura-Crest (which was set up by Dr Mahathir crony Tan Sri Shamsuddin Kadir) to become one of the largest oil-field services contractors in the world.

In 2017, Mokhzani exited the industry by selling his shares, but he had already attained billionaire status long before then. Malaysian Business magazine put him as the ninth richest man in Malaysia with a wealth of RM4.22 billion in 2014.

Mukhriz and Sarawak timber

And then, there is Mukhriz himself. It was reported in August last year that legal adviser to the Sarawak government Fong Joo Chung accused Mukhriz of obtaining logging rights from Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud in 1994 when Dr Mahathir was in power.

The Sarawak Report showed correspondence giving approval for the clearance of 1,000ha to Mukhriz, who was at the time chairman of a company called Tanjung Tiara Sdn Bhd.

Surely that should arouse suspicion, but the matter ended there, with Dr Mahathir being prime minister again when the disclosure was made.

The other deals

Dr Mahathir’s first term (1981 to 2003) was replete with other happenings that should be investigated, including major privatisation projects. Former Tenaga Nasional chairman Tan Sri Ani Arope told the story of how he was forced out of Tenaga Nasional Bhd when he refused to sign lopsided power purchase agreements that made billionaires of people such as the Yeoh family of YTL Power and later Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary.

Daim’s cronies, such as Tan Sri Tajudin Ramli, got huge telecommunications and airline privatisations (Malaysia Airlines), but much of it came back to the state after he got into trouble during the AFC, being bought back at the same price in the case of Malaysia Airlines despite a substantial erosion in value.

There was the example of an RM24.3 billion contract for the supply of naval vessels to another Daim crony, Tan Sri Amin Shah Omar Shah, which ended in grief. Tan Sri Vincent Tan got a privatisation deal for Sports Toto and Ananda Krishnan got the valuable turf club land, on which he erected the Twin Towers, which he subsequently sold to Petronas, as well as licences for Astro (satellite TV) and Maxis (telecommunications).

When Dr Mahathir was asked about Mirzan and the state rescue of his son, he said in his trademark sarcastic manner that all businessmen were his cronies. Fact is, many of them were. Question is, how much did he benefit from them and how much was his judgement as prime minister impaired by such proximity?

So when Mukhriz talks about corruption and how it is the No. 1 enemy of the Malays, he is right but terribly disingenuous and hypocritical. It was what his father did that resulted in profligate corruption in Malaysia. Mukhriz and his siblings may well have benefited from this, too.

It was Dr Mahathir who rigged the system to remove transparency, good governance and accountability. It was he who refused to give independence and expertise to investigating agencies to control corruption so that he could be the one to dispense patronage.

It was he who contributed to the rise of despots and dictators like himself who threw good behaviour out the window simply because they could get away with the plundering of billions of ringgit.

Najib, through Jho Taek Low, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor and others, simply followed, albeit more stupidly, and did what Dr Mahathir had done before. They indulged because the system was rigged in favour of the top politicians – by Dr Mahathir.

When there was real hope that Malaysia could finally crush corruption with the victory of Pakatan in GE14, Dr Mahathir unceremoniously snuffed it out under his boot – he ignored reform, he reinstated multi-billion ringgit projects, he brought Daim back.

And now, Mukhriz has the gall to talk about not aligning Pejuang with the corrupt. If he wants to do that, he needs to get rid of Mahathir first and himself after that and hope, impossibly, that the rest of Pejuang are indeed incorruptible.

The only reason Pejuang does not want to support the SDs is because Dr Mahathir does not want Anwar to be prime minister. Nothing more. Nothing moral. – The Vibes, December 30, 2020

P. Gunasegaram, editorial consultant of The Vibes, says that the line between corruption and patronage is invisible

Ministerial Kok-Pep-Tok on un-halal meat scandal

MM Online:

Meat cartel: Ministry still keeping an eye on firms, distributors, says deputy minister

Datuk Rosol Wahid said the ministry has not ‘washed its hands’ over the issue and will continue monitoring to ensure all meat imported into Malaysia is halal. — Bernama pic

KUALA BERANG, Dec 30 — The Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP) will conduct continuous monitoring and periodic raids on companies or distributors related to imported meat without notice.

Its Deputy Minister, Datuk Rosol Wahid said the ministry has not "washed its hands" over the issue and will continue monitoring to ensure all meat imported into Malaysia is halal.

“The ministry also guarantees that all imported meat available in the market at this time is halal, we have been able to contain and identify the illicit meat, in fact one company (involved in forging halal logo in illegal meat cartel case) was charged in court today.

“The assurance is given because all the meat from the affected premises have already been confiscated. Our responsibility is to ensure that all meat entering Malaysia must be halal except pork which is in another category,” he said.

He told reporters after inspecting compliance with the maximum price scheme for the Christmas festive season which was also attended by Terengganu KPDNHEP director, Saharuddin Mohd Kia at a supermarket here today.

In another development, he said a total of 9,629 business premises nationwide were inspected by KPDNHEP from December 22 to Dec 29 for the maximum price scheme during Christmas.

Rosol said only 10 cases involving a total compound of RM1,100 and a total forfeiture of RM386 were recorded in the inspection during the period.

“In one case, it was the failure to display the special price tag (pink) while in another nine cases, there were no price tag displayed. Actions were taken in accordance with the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act 2011.

“This shows that the price monitoring scheme is efficient because traders have followed the stipulated rules so as not to take advantage of the festive season,” he said.

Bloke (Rosol Wahid) is a typical BERSATU kerbau-er.

I know he is trying to assuage the Muslim public that all's well and eight bells, by more kerbau plus unsubstantiated factoids.

For example, by saying his "ministry has not ‘washed its hands’ over the issue and will continue monitoring to ensure all meat imported into Malaysia is halal", he intends to pass the impression the un-halal meat scandal is a mere blip on the halal horizon, and is quite 'hands washable', wakakaka.

The company charged was about its illegal use of the halal logo when the real issue in the 40-year fraudulent meat scandal was about the kerbau-ness of the so-called halal meat, possibly being that of kangaroos, horses and god-knows-what-else.

He then changed landscape and talked about some businesses being fined for their failures to display the special price tag and ... yadda yadda yadda ... actions were taken in accordance with the Price Control and Anti-Profiteering Act 2011.

What the eff has the price control (or lack of ) has to do with the 40-years of non-kosher and even diseased meat being sold 5to and consumed by Muslims in our country.

Yesterday or was it the day before, he came forth like a Islamic Warrior and declared (with what proof, evidence or professional authority?) that products of 3 meat dealers are guaranteed halal. On what basis did he say that?

In the mean eff-ing time, Menteri Agama mulled over a RCI, then proposed it whilst this and that JAKIM senior officers continue their (halal?) kok-tok, besides earlier attempting to wash their Pontius Pilate appendages off the meat.

JAKIM is incompetent, useless and wastes taxpayers' money. Shut it down.

Gerakan Rep blamed Batu Pahat man for failing to prepare dossier on Penang's hawker culture for UNESCO

MM Online:

Gerakan rep: Penang state government had 12 years to prepare dossier on hawker culture but sat on its hands

Gerakan Penang State Secretary Hng Chee Wey speaks to reporters at its Penang office in George Town December 30, 2020. ― Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

GEORGE TOWN, Dec 30 — The Pakatan Harapan (PH) state government had 12 years to prepare a dossier on Penang's hawker culture for submission to Unesco but it failed to do so, said Penang Gerakan's H'ng Chee Wey.

The Penang Gerakan secretary said the previous state government, under Barisan Nasional (BN) with Gerakan at its helm, took 10 years to prepare a one-metre thick dossier on George Town for submission to Unesco.

“It took the previous state government from 1996 to 2006 to prepare the dossier on George Town and submit it to the federal government to submit to Unesco and George Town was inscribed as a World Heritage Site in 2008,” he said during a press conference at the Penang Gerakan headquarters today.

He said PH took over the state administration in 2008 and it had until now to prepare a dossier on the state's unique hawker culture but did not do anything.

“The state has George Town World Heritage Incorporated, what are they doing? All they do is take care of old buildings. Why not take the lead in conducting proper full research to compile a dossier on Penang's hawker culture?” he asked.

He said Penang's hawker food, including its famed Penang laksa, was often listed as the top 10 food to try in the world by international news portals and magazines.

“Penang has been known as a food haven for many years. Everyone knows about our hawker food but instead of doing something to get our hawker culture recognised, the state government only wrote a letter to the federal government about this after Singapore applied for their hawker culture to be recognised by Unesco,” he said.

He said a one-page letter could barely describe the vast amount of data and information on Penang's hawker culture and its variety of hawker food.

“The tourism exco wrote only a letter to the federal government. What do they expect the federal government to do?” he asked.

He said any submission for nomination to Unesco has to be backed by full documentation, research and data for the federal government to consider and not a mere letter.

Unesco recently added hawker culture in Singapore to the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list.

Penang had tried to piggyback Singapore's application by writing to the federal government to submit a joint application with Singapore.

However, state Tourism and Creative Economy Committee chairman Yeoh Soon Hin claimed that the federal government had replied that it was not ready to submit the application as preparation for submission involved a lengthy process that included detailed studies, complete inventories and preservation plans.

Gone are the days of His Almightiness, wakakaka

MM Online:

Report: High Court strikes out suit by Dr Mahathir, four others challenging appointment of Speaker and his deputy

On July 23, Dr Mahathir and the four MPs filed an originating summons to challenge the appointment of Azhar and Azalina as the Speaker and deputy Speaker respectively. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 30 — The High Court here today allowed an application by Dewan Rakyat speaker Datuk Azhar Azizan Harun and his deputies to strike out a lawsuit filed by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and four other MPs questioning the validity of the formers’ appointments.

In delivering the High Court’s decision, High Court Judge Datuk Ahmad Kamal Md Shahid said the court was prohibited from questioning the business of the Dewan Rakyat since only Parliament has the sole power and jurisdiction to decide on the issue of the appointment.

“The appointments of the Speaker and deputies were debated and voted on during the sitting on July 13, where 111 MPs voted in favour while 109 MPs voted against.

“The appointments are part of the Dewan Rakyat proceedings,” Ahmad Kamal was quoted as saying by Free Malaysia Today.

The application to strike out the lawsuit of Dr Mahathir, Jerlun MP Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir, Simpang Renggam MP Maszlee Malik, Kubang Pasu MP Datuk Amiruddin Hamzah and Sri Gading MP Datuk Shaharuddin Md Salleh was fixed for the decision on the striking-out bids today.

Besides Azhar and Azalina, deputy Speakers Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon and Parliament secretary Nizam Mydin Bacha Mydin were also named as respondents in the suit.

On July 23, Dr Mahathir and the four MPs filed an originating summons to challenge the appointment of Azhar and Azalina as the Speaker and deputy Speaker respectively.

They were seeking a declaration that the two posts have remained vacant since July 13 and the appointments of Azhar and Azalina were void as they are unconstitutional.

Ku Li: My heart is with Umno


My heart is with Umno, says Ku Li

Umno stalwart Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah said his heart is with Umno and he will continue to serve the party.

Recently, the Gua Musang MP made an unpopular move by sharing the stage with former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, where the duo predicted the fall of the Perikatan Nasional government by losing Budget 2021's final vote in its third reading.

However, the budget was passed with only a three-vote majority.

Tengku Razaleigh's move had triggered criticism from Umno leaders and the grassroots who called for the 83-year-old to be referred to the party's disciplinary committee or be sacked.

So far, no action has been taken against the veteran politician who is widely known as Ku Li.

At the same time, Tengku Razaleigh told Malaysiakini that he has no plan to quit Umno.

"Why should I leave Umno? I am very close to Umno, that's why I'm with the party," he said when asked about the probability of him leaving it.

The Umno advisory board chairperson also dismissed his critics who accused him of abandoning Umno back when he formed a new party called Semangat 46.

In his defence, Ku Li claimed that Semangat 46 was established after the court banned Umno in 1988 and that the idea to set up another party was based on first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman's suggestion, since he and some former Umno members were not allowed to join the new Umno formed by Mahathir.

"But when Mahathir invited us all back into Umno, we dissolved Semangat 46," he said.

Of late, Tengku Razaleigh has been vocal against Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin. In attempts to dethrone Muhyiddin, he sent a letter to Dewan Rakyat Speaker Azhar Azizan Harun to allow for a no-confidence motion against the prime minister to be debated.

He also sent letters to lawmakers urging them to support the no-confidence motion.

However, Azhar did not entertain his request, asking Ku Li to consult de facto Law Minister Takiyuddin Hassan on the matter.

Ku Li stressed that majority support for the prime minister has to be proven in the Dewan Rakyat, not only based on the budget votes or statutory declarations.

"This is about confidence (in the leadership and the country) which is able to stabilise the political situation. Outsiders will have a positive reaction to us if the government is legitimate. This is important.

"If they are confident, their amount of investment will multiply, job and business opportunities will increase.

"The economy will get better and the political situation will be stable. Won't this benefit us all?"

Asked if he would contest in the next general election, Ku Li said he would leave it to the party and the people to decide on the matter.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

UMNO to contest GE-15 without Muafakat or Perikatan but as BN?


Umno strong enough without PAS and Bersatu, could face GE15 alone

Umno is strong enough to contest in the next general election (GE) without having to work with either PAS or Bersatu, said the party's advisory board chairperson Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.

In an interview with Malaysiakini, Razaleigh, known as Ku Li, didn't rule out the possibility of the party charting its own course under BN, based on its electoral track record.

With PAS now seen as favouring Bersatu more than Umno, the Gua Musang MP said this could affect Umno's chances to reclaim the federal government.

"Remember, before this we didn't rely on them (PAS and Bersatu). We contested, or faced the GE, as BN. And we won many seats.

"We won in the south as well as the west coast. We have proven our strength in the previous GEs," Ku Li said.

In the 14th GE, Umno clinched 54 seats but, since then, 16 of them had defected to Umno-splinter party Bersatu.

Umno and PAS had formed an alliance - Muafakat Nasional - last year when the Pakatan Harapan federal government was still in power.

The duo combined forces with Bersatu, which left Harapan in February this year through what is now called the Sheraton Move.

They were joined by former PKR deputy president Azmin Ali's camp and several other parties to topple Harapan. They formed the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government with Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin becoming the prime minister.

Subsequently, PAS also officially joined the PN coalition but Umno had opted out.

Despite the party being in the government, several Umno leaders had openly vented their frustrations with Bersatu for apparently sidelining Umno.

In the latest series of frustrations, the PN government was said to have compromised Umno conditions to support the 2021 Budget, which was to allow a one-off RM10,000 withdrawal from EPF Account 1 fund without condition as well as an automatic loan moratorium.

Muafakat Nasional

For now, Ku Li said the party has yet to decide whether it will join hands with PAS and Bersatu in the 15th GE.

"Besides, we do not know if the cooperation (with PAS) will be accepted by the public, generally," he said.

For the record, BN secretary-general Annuar Musa recently said seat distribution discussions for the general election between Umno and PAS have reached 60 to 70 percent, but a detailed discussion with Bersatu has yet to begin.

Portraying Umno as a "national movement", Ku Li stressed that the party represents everyone, regardless of race.

"All these while, we portrayed our position as a national movement which represents all races. Everybody is included in our movement.

"So, for now, we let the leadership decide (the party's direction)," he said.

Muhyiddin had revealed that the country would have a general election after the Covid-19 pandemic subsides. The first batch of vaccines for Covid-19 is expected to arrive in February next year.

Najib to Zeti: Speak up on receiving 1MDB funds


Speak up on receiving 1MDB funds, Najib tells Zeti

Former prime minister Najib Razak claims it was former Bank Negara Malaysia governor Zeti Aziz who asked him to open an account in which RM2.6 billion was found.

PETALING JAYA: Former prime minister Najib Razak has urged former Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) governor Zeti Akhtar Aziz to respond to a blogpost that claimed her family had received over RM100 million from fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, which included 1MDB funds.

The Pekan MP recalled that Zeti had released a statement shortly after the 14th general election to declare that she was unaware of the existence of funds or transactions in his BNM account.

Najib said he was surprised by the statement, as Zeti was the one who had advised him to open an account under his own name.

“… how could a BNM governor not know about billions of foreign funds entering the account of a prime minister, when every major transaction from abroad requires BNM’s approval?” he questioned in a Facebook post.

A MalaysiaToday report yesterday claimed that a senior officer at AmInvestment Bank Bhd allegedly conspired to help two companies linked to Low to generate millions in profits from 1MDB bonds.

The issuance of RM5 billion worth of bonds, supposedly for the development of Pulau Bidong together with the United Arab Emirates government’s investment arm, Mubadala, was conducted on the advice of the Terengganu Investment Authority.

The money earned from the bond was used to pay US$1 billion for a PetroSaudi joint venture. Investigators of the case confirmed that US$700 million was transferred to Good Star Ltd, a company also linked to Low.

Low was later charged with transferring millions of dollars to various individuals and entities including Zeti’s husband, Tawfiq Ayman, through Cutting Edge Industries Ltd, in a letter dated March 13, 2019.

In July 2018, Zeti, who is also Permodalan Nasional Bhd chairman, had openly denied her involvement in the RM2.6 billion found in Najib’s BNM account.

Previously, Najib told Malaysiakini that Zeti was in fact aware of the large sum of money in his account even before the 2013 general election, but never questioned the matter.

Attempts by FMT to contact Zeti for a response were unsuccessful, as it is understood that she is currently on vacation.


Zeti Aziz’s Family Received Millions From Jho Low

Source: Malaysia-Today

Kerbau-ish Lim KS exposed


2021 - Harapan’s reckoning

by S Thayaparan

“Totalitarian solutions may well survive the fall of totalitarian regimes in the form of strong temptations which will come up whenever it seems impossible to alleviate political, social, or economic misery in a manner worthy of man.”

- Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism

COMMENT | Mukhriz Mahathir said that corruption is the
"number one enemy" of the Malays, which is somewhat queer for many reasons, the most important of which is that he is wrong. Forget about who is saying this for a minute but the number one enemy of the Malays is religious extremism.

Recall that great photo of the old maverick standing shoulder to shoulder with Zakir Naik. If a picture says a thousand words, that photo probably said millions.

Zakir said it is better for Muslims to vote for corrupt Muslim leaders instead of honest non-Muslim leaders. Now if a preacher who said this – and he has said worse – is embraced by the political establishment, what message does it send to the fractured Malay polity, especially when it comes to state-sponsored religious dogma?

Malaysians have voted in successive corrupt regimes for decades and the opposition by first breaking the two-thirds majority and winning certain states demonstrated that it had an alternative narrative which resonated especially amongst the urban and semi-urban polities.

Since then, political attitudes for whatever reasons have changed. So this idea of working with kleptocrats is just so noughties.

The fact that Pejuang borne from the treachery of Bersatu can declare the demise of Pakatan Harapan is demonstrative of how ineffectual Harapan is.

Anwar Ibrahim should concentrate on strengthening the opposition but if the opposition cannot even declare with certainty that he is their prime minister candidate and instead engage in subterfuge when it comes to this issue, all the more incentive for Anwar to seek the backing of outsiders.

All these legacy coalitions, which are actually a facsimile of the BN formula, have caused too many problems for the DAP and multiracial parties.

Zaid Ibrahim – can I say Zaid Ibrahim or do I have to ask someone for permission, to use his name? – tweeted it best when he wrote: "Lim Kit Siang should stop labelling Umno as a kleptocratic party. He was in bed with kleptocrats. He is still probably in bed with them. Just because these kleptocrats were not charged and left Umno does not mean they are 'cleaner' than Umno."

I also like what Zaid tweeted about Jakim. He said: "Jakim should be given more powers. Why stop at certifying halal cake shops? Let's certify all Malay men - if they are worthy of being certified halal." Which, truth be told, is kind of what all this rampant religious extremism has always been about, the certification of the Malay polity by the state. But this is a topic for another polemic.

Since hooking up with the old maverick to dethrone the Najib Abdul Razak regime, the slippery slope has reached its logical end, with the DAP working with Umno in Perak.

Mind you, I have no real issue with that equation and have written about how bipartisanship is the way forward from all this Manichean nonsense that passes as political discourse.

The year 2021 will determine how badly the dysfunctionality of Harapan has affected the base. Mohamad Sabu is right when he said that the Muhyiddin Yassin regime is firming up its support. The only reason why it can do this is because it knows that Harapan is in the manure house.

Anwar’s problem is not that he was willing to work with Umno, but he had failed to get the numbers. This screwed up not only his credibility but also Harapan’s.

The fact is that many folks in Harapan were spooked with all these manoeuvres because they believed that if Anwar was successful, Umno would have such a hold over him, that his allies would suffer.

And by “suffer” I mean to be denied the position of influence within the new administration. So you better believe it that when Anwar’s ploy failed, there were sighs of relief in Harapan.

Even Anwar’s rhetoric of PKR having a Malay/Muslim core is not as problematic as it sounds. What is problematic is the fact that Anwar has failed to articulate beyond political bromides what the agenda of his Malay Muslim core is.

Harapan was not interested in creating a counter-narrative. A counter-narrative that Harapan's Islam was about promoting a first-class education for Muslims, weeding out corruption in the political and religious class, ensuring the healthcare system is one of the best in the region and ensuring a plurality of Islamic voices so that young people do not join extremist groups that pose a danger to the citizens of this country. You could, if you were smart, define this as a "Malay" right.

Jeyakumar Devaraj

As PSM's Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj said - and here is someone who has actually worked and learnt from the disenfranchised Malay polity - "If you stop affirmative action for the rich Malays, even the poor Malays would accept it," and added, "... that if policies are focused on the B40 community, regardless of race, the Malays would still benefit the most as they make up the majority of the lower-income group.”

Think about this. We are going into 2021, with the still unknown consequences of the pandemic hanging over our heads. Economic and social vagaries brought upon by the pandemic will be a major issue.

The Islamic deep state is already drawing up an agenda that would mean more repression for the majority community, which ultimately means that the social and economic ecosystems of non-Malays will be affected. With all this going on, Harapan is squabbling over who will lead Harapan?

What does Harapan want? The one good thing about PN coming into power is that we know what a Malay uber alles government looks like. Granted this pandemic took everyone by surprise and PN would have to temper its racial and religious impulses, if not for the deep Islamic state.

If there was no pandemic, it would have been worse because Umno would realise that it could destroy PN at any moment and it would still be to their advantage.

What is Harapan at the moment? Harapan sure as hell could not tell you. Political operatives are busy writing about the kleptocrats and attempting to paint an idealised picture of the past when the reality is that corruption has always been with us, but now we have the added toxicity of religious extremism, which only exists to serve the political class.

There will be a realignment of Malay and non-Malay power structures in 2021 and whether this means the end of Harapan remains to be seen.

One could argue that a realignment means the end of Harapan as the base envisioned. Harapan was owed this reckoning.

Have a productive and safe 2021, Malaysia, whoever you are.

S THAYAPARAN is Commander (Rtd) of the Royal Malaysian Navy. A retired barrister-at-law, he hopes young people will assume the mantle of leadership – if there is to be any hope for this country.