View issues with Tan Seng Giaw

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Request Jakim to interpret the meaning of 'azan' in the Koran

DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong Dr Tan Seng Giaw urges the Malaysian Department for the Advancement of Islam (Jakim), Prime Minister's Department, to interpret the meaning of azan (a Muslim call for prayer by a muezzin) in the Koran.

A religious issue is often very sensitive, more so in a multi-religious society such as Malaysia. Hence, we have to handle it with extreme care.

On 27 September, 2005, I spoke in the House on the complaints by non-Muslims of azan being too loud especially the call at dawn. Then, some newspapers carried the news with titles such as 'People should not raise the azan issue' (Bertita Harian).

On 30 September, 2005, Berita Harian said that Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department rejected the perception of Tan Seng Giaw, a member of Parliament, as baseless. The MP claimed that azan affected the image of Islam as well as interfered with local residents so much so that little children of different faiths were distrubed.

On 28 September, 2005, The Star carried the news as "House astir over 'azan' proposal". It quoted:"I (Dr Tan Seng Giaw) have received complaints from people in my constituency, which has a majority of non-Muslims, that the azan for subuh (dawn) prayers is too loud and wakes them up abruptly. I hope the Government will regulate this," he said to objections and shouts from several MPs.

Today (25 October, 2005) while debating the budgetary allocation for the Prime Minister's Department such as RM225,905,000 for Jakim, I asked the department to interpret azan which arises from a revelation through a dream.

Azan is from al-i'lam (announcement) or an-nida (call). I hope Jakim will interpret the term as it appears in the Koran such as Surah IX Repentence,3; Surah XXII The Pilgrimage,27; Surah V The Table Spread, 58; Surah XVIII The Children of Israel, 110 and The Story of Bukhari and Muslim.

Surah IX Repentence, 3: "And a proclamation from Allah and His messenger to all men on the day of the Greater Pilgrimage.....". Surah XXII, The Pilgrimage, 27: "And proclaim unto mankind the Pilgrimage....." Surah V, The Table Spread, 58:" And when ye call for prayer....." Surah XVIII, The Children of Israel, 110: Say (unto mankind): Cry unto Allah, or cry unto the Beneficent, unto whichsoever ye cry (it is the same). His are the most beautiful names. And thou (Muhammad), be not loud voiced in thy worship nor yet silence therein, but follow a way between."

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Pay more attention to the feeling of parents in student placement

DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong Dr Tan Seng Giaw urges the Malaysian Education Ministry to consider the views and feeling of parents before placing students in particular schools in the whole country.

Many Year VI students at SJK(C) Jinjang Utara have been placed in SMK Menjalara for either Form I or Remove next year. This school is over five miles away from Jinjang. Parents are unhappy because there is SMK Jinjang; some are staying very near the school.

I have just raised this issue with the Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishamuddin Tun Hussein who is replying to questions raised on his ministry during the 2006 Budget debate in Parliament today. The minister should pay more attention to this problem of student placement.

This issue occurs every year in the whole country. Popular schools such as SMK Jinjang and SMK Kepong Baru are bursting at the seams. Next year, the school will have 12 Form I classes and 4 Remove classes with each class having 40-46 students. Yet, as there are several primary schools in Jinjang, the school cannot cope. Parents are requesting that the Education Department increases the number of classes in SMK Jinjang further.

Other schools such as SMK Raja Abdullah, Jinjang South, SMK Raja Ali, 5th Mile Ipoh Road and SMK Menjalara are less popular. They can take in more students.

I have contacted Encik Hamzah at the Education Department, KL, over the matter. The person in charge of registration of students is Encik Abdul Malik, telephone 62036326.

Treat all students who are Malaysian citizens equally.

Datuk Hishamuddin should also look into the matter in which students, who are citizens, have to fill in forms and pay a fee of RM240 at the department for permission to continue with their education. These students have fathers who are citizens, but mothers who are not. Since they are citizens, why should they be treated differently? SMK Jinjang has given a letter to such parents for them to go to the department to obtain the permission.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

What happens to the advice of Halcrow to waterproof the Kepong viaduct immediately?

The Malaysian Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu should explain to the public why the Public Works Department (JKR) has not followed the advice of Halcrow, the British consultant, to waterproof the Kepong viaduct or overhead bridge immediately?

It is encouraging that the minister makes sure that he is in the House to answer questions on his ministry. Energy, Water and Communications Minister is the next minister to reply to the questions raised by members of Parliament during the debate on the 2006 budget at the policy stage.

This bridge is Package 11A of the Middle Ring Road, Kuala Lumpur(MRR2). Works began in 1999. At least eight foreign engineering consultants have been appointed on this package for the design and then the cracks which were noticed in August 2000. Referring to the matter in Parliament today, Samy would like to check just how many consultants have been appointed for the Kepong bridge.

On 8 August, 2004, the Works Minister announced the closure of the bridge to all traffic. On 12 August, 2005, Halcrow was appointed as the new consultant. Since 12 November, 2004, the bridge has been reopened. On what criteria was the bridge closed? Who gave the advice?Without repair it has been reopened. Samy says it was closed because of cracks and reopened on the advice of Halcrow.

On 26 January, 2005 Halcrow advised that the bridge be waterproofed immediately owing to Delayed Ettringite Formation (DEF). DEF aggravates the extensive cracks. It needs water. Why has JKR not acted on the advice to prevent further seepage of water in the past eight mnonths?

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The Malaysian PWD or JKR must waterproof the Keong viaduct immediately

DAP National Deputy Chairman urges the Malaysian Public Works Department (JKR) to waterproof the Kepong overhead bridge (Middle Ring Road, MRR2) immediately. JKR must leave no stone unturned by summoning all resources to do it.

We have repeatedly called on JKR to take action on the RM 238 million bridge. It has known that cracks have appeared on 31 of the 32 crossbeams since 2000. After the British consultant, Halcrow Group gave a report in January, 2005, why has it not taken action?

Halcrow has found a rare phenomenon--the expansion of a chemical compound, ettringite, to cause serious cracks. The compound contains calcium, aluminium, oxygen, sulphate, water and so forth. On 25 February, 2005, Halcrow recommended to JKR to waterproof the bridge immediately, so that the delayed ettringite formation (DEF) would not result in further cracks.

Kepong bridge and Malaysia have made history, because DEF has not been reported in road building in the world. According to Halcrow that has sought the service of Glascow University, ettringite is found in cement. Usually, it does no harm. But, under rare conditions such as during concrete hardening, temperature reaching over 70 degree Centigrade in the presence of sulphate and plenty of water, ettringite is formed, expanding dangerously.

If all the cracks are not waterproofed, more water seeps into them, aggravating the situation. JKR must stop the water.

Unfortunately, JKR seems to be at a loss. True, it appointed Halcrow on 12 August, 2004 to study the cracks. The consultant discovered the DEF.

Since 1999, when the MRR2 project started, over eight consultants from overseas have been appointed for the design of the project and investigation of the cracks.

On 26 April, 2005, Halcrow again recommended to JKR to waterproof the cracks. But, JKR remains unmoved. Is it becuase the main contractor, Bumihiway has not cooperated? Or, is JKR looking for another contractor? Can it not go ahead with the waterproofing, and then charge the contractor for the expenses?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Lend your ear to members of Malaysian Parliament

The Minister for Parliament in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz should listen attentively to members of the House and refrain from appointing a Director or Manager with Superscale B over the Clerk (Setiausaha) of Parliament with Superscale C. Now that he has done it, has he the courage to undo the damage?

After hearing Nazri defending his decision to appoint a Director or Parliament Head of Administration with Superscale B to manage the affairs of Parliament, Dr Tan Seng Giaw, DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong, is amazed at the heedless enthusiasm with which Nazri pursues his objective. His stated aim is to improve services in Parliament. If he really believes in it, he should get the views of 218 other members who should have a say in how the institution is run. Instead, he has run roughshod over them.

Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang has congratulated the Malaysian Senate House Committee for scheduling a meeting on the issue on 11 November, 2005. It would be interesting to know their decision on Nazri's fait accompli.

Nazri can explain to members whether he has sought permission from the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and then the approval of the Cabinet, hoping that he would upgrade services in Parliament. Has Nazri an ulterior motive?

Has he enlightened the Prime Minister that putting a Superescale B officer over the Superscale C Clerk is doing thing upside down? His prattling about the principle of separation of powers and the independence of Legislature has been contradicted by his appointment of the Head of Adminstration or Director Datuk Kamaruddin before consulting members. The latter has come to Parliament, looking for his office. A room is being renovated for him as soon as possible.

Members are in favour of establishing Parliamentary Services Committee as proposed by President of Backbenchers' Club Datuk Sharir Samad. It is more logical to reenact Parliamentary Services Act that was repealed in 1993 after the constituional amendment the year before.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

No compromise with the independence of Parliament

The Malaysian Minister for Parliament in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz must be frank, transparent and accountable to ensure that there is true separation of powers, that is, the Legislature, the Judiciary and the Executive.

If Nazri had consulted members before he made the following announcement, we might be able to avoid the roundtable mentioned below. He should have known that we are against any attempt to take away the independence of Parliament.

On 6 October, 2005, Datuk Seri Nazri announced that there would be a Director to manage Parliament. The media reported the proposal of a Department. People have been alarmed.

On 11 October, 2005, the Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang organized a roundtable conference on the matter in Parliament. Many people such as Keadilan Chairperson Datin Seri Aziza, PAS MPs Salahuddin Ayub and Dr Mohd. Hayati Othman and Malaysian Trade Union Congress President attended.

Kit Siang and Nazri spoke at length. They are lawyers.

Nazri said that the media quoted Jabatan (Department). He means small j not capital J. The Director can be called manager. He stressed that he would not go against the separation of powers.

The Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi believes in the independence of Parliament that is based on the Westminster model. Out of 219 members, 90 are front benchers, 101 are back benchers, 27 are opposition members and one indpendent.

Nazri insists that he is only interested in improving the management of Parliament. He needs a special group of staff members to carry out his duties to make Parliament better. He is not interfering with the duties of the Clerk (Setiausaha) of Parliament.

It is encouraging that Nazri attended the roundtable. After he continues to speak so much, he should show that he is genuinely frank, transparent and accountable. He must not lay down any foundation for the erosion of the indeopendence of Parliament.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Review import duties and Approved Permit (AP) for steel

It is important that the Government consider seriously to do away with 50% import duty and AP for steel sheets, plates and coils, including steel materials not produced in this country.

This is a comment by Dr Tan Seng Giaw, and MP for Kepong on steel AP that has been overwhelmed in the media by AP for cars issue.

While we are waiting for the Minister for International Trade and Industry Datuk Paduka Rafidah Aziz to explain further unanswered questions on car AP, we would like her to tell us the rationale for steel AP. Is there gross injustice?

Since April, 1999, the Government has imposed 50% import duty on steel coils, sheets and plates with thickness below 30 mm. Then, companies such as Megasteel Sdn Bhd, Lion Plates and Ji Kang, Pahang, have been given AP to import these materials.

The measures result in more expensive steel materials for importers. Hence, companies using above-stated steel materials may not be competitive. We would like to know how many local and foreign companies have left Malaysia because of these measures since 1999.

China has become a major producer and user of steel. Steel price shoots up. Malaysia must look again at the steel situation and come up with a fairer policy on streel import.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Hear the people of Sri Petaling, Kuala Lumpur

The consultants investigating the highway project at Sri Petaling should submit the report as soon as possible.

Dr Tan Seng Giaw, DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong believes that the affected people should be treated fairly.

Kuala Lumpur City Hall and Malaysian Highway Board are appointing consultants respectively to study the effects of the construction of the elevated highway at the Bandar Baru (New Town)Sri Petaling on the environment, especially the cracks on some of the houses.

On 16 April, 2005, the Malaysian Government appointed the contractor, Kosortium Lapangan Terjaya Sdn Bhd (KLT) to build the Kuala Lumpur-Putrajaya-Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) highway. The concession agreement between the Works Ministry and KLT was signed on 22 October, 1997. But, on 29 December 1998, the Ministry informed KLT that the project was deferred.

On 2 July, 2002, the Government reactivated the project and on 28 October, 2003 the Ministry had an additional agreement with KLT. The project is to build the highway from KL to Putrajaya.

In 2003, KLT had an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) that recommended acquisition of the houses nearby or elevation of the highway. It has chosen the latter.

Before KLT began works in Sri Petaling, it conducted a survey at Jalan 2/149 between 30 April, 2005 and 28 May, 2005.

Meanwhile, KL City Hall approved the Sri Petaling housing plan on 12 April 1976. By 1996 when the KL-Putrajaya highway project was mooted and then deferred, the developer had built the houses along the alignment of the highway. Zones L and N are affected by the highway. The Development Order for the zones was issued on 16 April, 1996.

KLCH has known about the project since 1996 and the Highway Board, which acts as the regulator, has EIA and survey of the affected zones. Nevertheless, several houses along the alignment of the highway show severe cracks.

All concerned should hear the people affected by the RM 1.3 billion project. Let there be justice.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Rafidah is still going through fire and water with AP

The Malaysian Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Paduka Rafidah Aziz should come to the House often to answer questions and to understand the feeling of the members.

Spending 45 minutes in the House on 4 October, 2005 to answer questions on AP, permit to import cars, is hardly enough. It only whets the appetite of members to know more of what she can offer.

This is a comment by Dr Tan Seng Giaw, DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong on Rafidah's perception that she has answered everything about AP to her satisfaction.

After months of controvesy on AP, Rafidah finally turned up in Parliament on 4 October, 2005 to answer questions on AP. Although she has patted herself on the back, members feel that there are still something amiss. For instance, after implementing the AP policy to help Malays to have a foothold in the automotive industry, has it achieved the objective? What are the abuses? How serious are they?

AP is not just for car, it is also for other things such as steel. Are there irregularities in steel import? The minister has to explain all these to the House.

True, she has been doing her duty to attract foreign trade to Malaysia. But, she can juggle her time to come to Parliament as often as possible. If she still cannot do it, she should ask the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who slips into the House more frequently than her. She can bow down her ear.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Show Great Foresight in Malaysian Economy

The Malaysian Prime Minister must create a clear vision in the Malaysian economy, not just nibbling at the edges, mouthing the 2020 Vision.

There are many good things in the 2020 Vision, the international aspect of which is also embraced by ASEAN. We look forward to becoming a developed nation by 2020, if possible. But, factors like September 11 terrorist attack in USA, Bali and London bombings, the high crude oil price and the emergence of Chinese and Indian economies have changed the scenario. Will our country be a net importer of petroleum by 2008 as mentioned in the Third Outline Perspective Plan?

This is a view put forward by Dr Tan Seng Giaw, DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong on the relative lack of vision of the 2006 'interim' budget on 6 October, 2005.

When the Prime Minister and Finance Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi presented the budget on 30 September, 2005, he rightly kept education and training at RM29 billion and agriculture at RM3.26 billion. There was no excitement. Although the Government is bent on implementing Goods and Services Tax (GST or Value Added Tax, VAT) starting from 1 April, 2006, the budget does not even mention it. How does it want the people to understand the intricate nature of this indirect tax? It touches on the margin such as 50% stamp exemption on loan documentation for borrowed sum not exceeding RM1.0 million and pioneer status with tax exemption of 50% of statutory income for 5 years. The incomes tax rates remain the same.

There is no clear vision on the direction of our economy. Leaders like the Education Minister Datuk Hishammuddin wants to re-introduce NEP (1971--1990); he has not explained how he is going to implement the policy, the quotas and the regulations laid down 34 years ago. He tries to tone down on certain occasions. How would international organizations such as World Trade Organization (WTO) deal with this type of old regulations?

We believe in merits and needs. In the efforts to eradicate poverty and to restructure society, there should not be abuses like the rentier system that goes out of hand.

Facing the challenges of the modern world, we have to review all sectors including the the tax system and the 2020Vision, and come up with a clear vision especially for the economy. A clear vision means taking brave steps to overcome old regulations and quotas.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

The hand that gives to biotechnology, gathers.

Malaysia needs more concerted efforts to develop the biotechnology sector such as at least RM300 million for meaningful research in the sector this year, not just RM100 million to set up a Malaysian Life Sciences Capital Fund.

We need billions of ringgit and productive research culture. We must attract funds and experts from within and outside the country. Can the Malaysian Biotechnology Development Corporation attract more investments and joint ventures? It will manage Malaysian Life Sciences Capital Fund that will be launched with a RM100 million contribution from the Government.

The 2006 Budget mentions the Fund, the National Biotechnology Policy and the RM30 million Bioproducts Validation Centre. This is encouraging. But, the shortage of fund, scientists and technologists and the retirement age of 56 are stumbling blocks.

It allocates RM868 million under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation. The Research and Development Grant Scheme will focus on biotechnology, advanced manufacturing, advanced materials, ICT, nanotechnology and alternative sources of energy, including solar, to encourage innovation among local companies and developing new products. How much will biotechnology get? What criteria does the ministry use to decide on R & D projects?

The National Biotechnology Policy launched in April 2005 outlines strategies and initiatives to develop biotechnology. The Malaysian Biotechnology Corporation spearheads the development.
We would like to see the corporation succeed.

We should make the best use of our scientists and other experts. The retirement age should gradually be increased from 56 to at least 65. At 56, a scientists are at the acme of their career. Then, there must be conducive milieu for them. They cannot tolerate mediocrity, feudal mentality and bloodymindedness.