View issues with Tan Seng Giaw

Monday, July 31, 2006

Prevent railway reserve from being used as criminal conduit

DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong Dr Tan Seng Giaw urges the City Hall, Kuala Lumpur CHKL), and the Transport Ministry jointly to attempt to prevent criminals from using railway reserve that adjoins residential areas as conduit to entering these areas to commit crimes.

In the evening of 30 July, 2006, Dr Tan met some residents at Jalan Raya, Taman Kepong, beside the Taman Kepong-Bukit Maluri flyover, and taken round the area.

Just as other places, residents of Jalan Raya face security problems such as snatch thefts and break-ins. In fact, during the last Chinese New Year, one male university student was killed by criminals at Taman Petaling, a stone’s throw away.

On 16 May, 2006, media reported that Jalan Raya residents formed a Residents’ Association with a MCA Federal Territory Youth Deputy leader Mr Yee as an advisor. The association has appointed a security firm to look after 258 houses in the area.

I have proposed that the IGP set up guidelines and monitoring procedures for security firms in the country.

A few residents insist that each house pays RM150 security fee every three months, that is, RM50 a month. After listening to complaints from residents, the Residents’ Association will adjust accordingly.

This residential area has two little bridges astride a monsoon drain. It adjoins a railway reserve of about 500 yards, not far from the Commuter Station. During early hours, suspects use this reserve land as conduit to enter the area to commit crimes. Hence, we hope that CHKL and the Transport Ministry work jointly and quickly, to prevent criminals using the reserve land as conduit.

IGP must have guidelines for private security system

DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong proposes that the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohd Bakri formulate guidelines for private security system such as for housing areas. There should be effective measures to monitor security firms.

Dr Tan has received complaints about private security system in residential areas. Making the above proposals, he hopes that the Government look into the laws for private security in the interest of the people.

Crimes in the country are rampant: snatch thefts, rapes, murders, break-ins, robberies and so forth. The people are concerned. Private security system exists. Residential areas employ security firms in the hope that the incidence of crimes falls. Finding unusual activities, security guards inform the police. As long as there are no complaints, the police seem happy to let security guards take over some of their duties.

For example, the media report that some people in the residential area of Jalan Raya, Kepong Garden, beside the Kepong Garden-Bukit Malauri flyover, has formed a Residents' Association which has engaged a security firm. The firm has seven guards to patrol eight roads with 258 houses. The association collects RM150 for every three months from each house. Roads are closed from 9 pm to 6 am, checking identity cards and vehicles at the guard house. It will adjust to complaints from residents.

Some residents have raised the questions: under what circumstance has the Residents' Association been formed? Why has it appointed the particular security firm? What regulations have the guards used to search ICs? Has the Internal Security Ministry ceded some of its responsibility to security firms? The legal status? If any resident refuses to participate in the private system, will he or she be penalised? What is the attitude of the police towards scurity firms and their guards? If a ruthless robber appears, what will these guards do?

The Internal Security Ministry protects and maintains public order, tranquility and national security against any internal threat. It has an annual allocation of over RM3 billion to look after the Royal Malaysian Police. The police safeguard and maintain peace, public order and national security against threat from any elements within or without the country, that intend to destroy the nation. Under what laws and procedures have the police handed some of its power to private security firms?

As the police is short of personnel, private security guards who can help to reduce minor crimes such as thefts are welcomed. But, the police must formulate guidelines and monitor procedures for private security firms, in order to protect the basic rights of the people.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Does Petronas care for Malaysians? 27.7.2006.

DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong Dr Tan Seng Giaw urges Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas), to improve its contributions to the country, such as in health, education, environemnt, human resource and social responsiblity, as a truly global player.

After reading through the 2006 annual report of Petronas Gas, Dr Tan urges the company to do so. The financial year of the company ends on 31 March each year.

Petronas's revenue has increased from RM1.9496 billion in 2002 to RM 2.3073 billion in 2005 and RM2.8393 billion in 2006. In 2006, the total assets and profit before tax are RM9.3972 billion and RM1.0249 billion respectively.

Petronas engages in domestic operations, export and international operations in 31 countries. Last week, it bought US$1.1 billion shares in the Russian petrolium company, OAO Rosnet. Petronas president and chief executive officer Tan Sri Mohd Hassan Merican said that Russia has huge oil and gas resources.

"As Petronas aspires to become a global player, it is a logical thing for us to do as the opportunity is there," he added.

According to the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Abdul Rahman Suliman, last year Petronas contributed RM31.2 billion while this year it had so far contributed RM41.7 billion in the form of taxes, dividends, royalties as well as export duties.

As Petronas is becoming a global player, we hope that it steps up its corporate responsibilities such as in health, education, environment, human resource and social responsibility. As world petrol prices continue to go up, the Government reduces petrol subsidies and the business atmosphere is not that good, Petronas continues to make profits. The company should contribute more to the nation.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Will the 35-year-old Puspahanas project ever be implemented?

DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong Dr Tan Seng Giaw urges the Government to implement the National Defence Education Centre (Puspahanas) project that is estimated to cost nearly Rm100 million.

Let us not simply relocate the project from near the Templer Park, Rawang, to Putrajaya. Doing so will mean cancelling the agreement and terrible implications.

Recently, Dr Tan receives public complaint that the Defence Ministry has put up signboards on the Puspahanas project adjacent to the Templer Park with hardly any work done in over a year. The project consists of two military colleges.

On 20 July, 2006, the Secretary-General of the Defence Ministry Datuk Ahmad Latiff Hashim led his senior officers to explain to the Public Accounts Committee in Parliament about the Puspahanas project. This centre is for two military colleges, namely, the National Defence College (MPN) and the Armed Forces Administration and Senior Officers' College (MPTAT). The former is for officers above Colonel and Brigadier General on the grand military and the latter is to train majors and leftenant Colonels on military strategy and operation. The students include foreign military officers and senior civil servants. The two colleges are in the old buildings of Mindef in Kuala Lumpur.

The concept of new Puspahanas buildings was conceived in 1971. The following year, the Armed Forces Council passed the resolution to site these buildings in an area of 221.365 acres, near the Templer Park. Basically, several private individuals owned the land which is not a forest reserve. It is in natural surroundings with captivating views. From 1972 to 1985, the Government proceeded with the land acquisitions. In 1980, the Armed Forces Conference approved the project. In 1993, the Armed Forces Defence College Board decided to privatize it. In 1996, the Defence Ministry applied to the Economic Planning Unit in the Prime Minister's Department for the privatization.

In 1997, the Cabinet approved on principle the privatization of the Puspahanas project by Syarikat Awan Megah Sdn Bhd and, in return, 223 acres of government land in Bukit Raja, Klang, was transferred to the company for commercial development. In the same year, regional economic crisis affected the company which faced problems such as in drawing up the project plan and the Kuala Lumpur-Rawang highway was meant to go through the same land. By 2002, these problems were overcome. Then, the Defence Ministry estimated the cost of the project as RM85,946,850.96, whereas the contractor calculated as RM117,578,761.81. After several dicussions and counter proposals, the Government signed agreement on the project with the contractor on 14 march, 2005, at RM99,366,280, to be completed in 36 months.

Meanwhile, the company faces obstacles such as the Environment Department imposing mitigating conditions on the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) report as the project is on category 3 & 4 slope. The Selayang Municipality has yet to issue the Development Order (D.O.).

As the contractor is waiting for the D.O., the Defence Ministry has a new proposal to transfer the project from the present site to Putrajaya where it has a 40-acre land. After 35 years, the propject is on the verge of being implemented, the relocation will have serious implications including compensation for the contractor and further delay.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Truly open tender & monitoring of the 880 projects under 9MP,19.7.2006.

DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong Dr Tan Seng Giaw reiterates that the Government should adopt international criteria for the open tender of the preliminary list of 880 projects under the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP).

This should be followed by truly effective monitoring. With the National Implementation Task Force headed by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, we hope that these projects will be value for money; they should be completed at specified time.

Dr Tan pays great attention to the preliminary list of 880 projects announced by the Prime Minister on 18 July, 2006.

From the 880 projects worth RM15 billion, more than 450 primary and secondary schools will be built. Almost half are projects according to the private finance initiative (PFI). In the 1990s, many projects were based on Build-Operate-Transfer(BOT). Now, the Government is introducing Build-Lease-Transfer (BLT) and Build-Own-Operate (BOO). Are they effective?

Abdullah says:"All ministries and agencies, as well as the Public Works Department, have been directed to take action immediately so the projects can be implemented as soon as possible." We expect all concerned will heed the Prime Minister, making a success of every project. Fair, effective and timely implementation of these projects will help to turn around the sluggish economy.

During the debate of the 9MP in Parliament in May and June this year, the Prime Minister was very serious on it. He mentioned transparency, open and fair tender as well as better monitoring. Now is the time to show that all projects including those for Bumiputera are genuinely subjected to open tender, following international standard.

As we do not want to see cronyism, wastage, corruption and endless delays in these projects, we look forward to the credible methods of management. Abdullah refers to a project and planning management methodology, to be used by the Implementation Co-ordination Unit and the National Implementation Directorate.

Only those contractors who are able to complete the projects, as specified, should be selected. We don't want failures.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Malaysian universities, Univerisities and University Colleges' Act (AUKU),educational excellence?

DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong Dr Tan Seng Giaw proposes that the Government put the 138 recommendations of the 2006 Higher Education Report into a timed shcedule to ensure their implementation, so that Malaysian universities will become centres of excellence.

Dr Tan made the proposal at the briefing from AUKU Review Committee in Parliament on 13.7.2006.

Every Malaysian who has real intelligence in his or her brain, should have opportunities to be discovered, so that he or she can realize the full potential. This is a factor in promoting the country to be a developed nation.

In 2005, the former Higher Education MInister Dato' Dr Haji Shafie appointed Tan Sri Dato' Wan Mohd Zahid to chair the Committee to study, review and make recommendations concerning the development and direction of higher education in Malaysia. This year, the report with 138 recommendations is presented to the House. These include the philosophy of higher education, review of the laws governing higher education such as AUKU and project MyBrain 15 to produce 100,000 Ph.Ds by 2020.

The Government must implement these recommendations, including putting them into a timed schedule. The current Higher Education Minister Dato' Mustapa must pay special attention to this. It must be remembered that in 2001, the Government published the Education Development 2001-2010 Report. Despite the action plans in the report, there has been precious little real action.

We shall present definite proposals for the amendment to AUKU, consistent with the objective of creating the country into a world-class centre of excellence in education.

Higher education must move towards excellence. Vice-chancellors, professors and lecturers must change with the time. Granted, it is easy to profer change by others, while the person himself or herself resists change. He or she keeps to the status quo -- the vested interest.

Laws governing higher education must be amended: AUKU must be able to cope with the need for cross-fertilization between our universities and leading universities in the world. The present number of foreign professors and lecturers of over 600 must be increased. The academic world that remains insular can only suffocate.

We cannot allow any form of extremism to surface in our universities. Nevertheless, we must let hundred flowers bloom and hundred schools of thought contend. Sccieties which are not extreme must be permitted to exist in students' unions such as a Marxist society. As universitiy students, we were exposed to Marxism and Leninism. As these are idealism and utopian, we are not Communist.

Apart from AUKU, we must amend other related laws, so that higher education in Malaysia can be more vibrant. We should achieve world-class excellence by 2020.

Monday, July 10, 2006

60% professors and lecturers have Ph.D.s by 2010?

DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong Dr Tan Seng Giaw urges the Government to ensure that the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) or its equivalent obtained by professors and lecturers are of high standard which is recognized internationally.

The Government must let us know how far it has gone with the Project MyBrain 15 to produce 100,000 Ph.Ds by 2020 in the country.

Dr Tan comments on the Government's objective of increasing the percentage of teaching staff holding Ph.Ds from the present 30% to 60% by 2010.

In the 18 public universities in Malaysia, there are 9,600 professors and lecturers, 30% of whom have Ph.Ds and 857 are from overseas.

The Government allocates RM1.2 billion to help lecturers do research to obtain Ph.Ds within or outside this country. Hitherto, it sponsors 6,700 Ph.D students. Some can spend two years in Malaysia and two outside the country.

Universities depend on research, among other things, to achieve high standard. Ensuring most of the teaching staff members getting Ph.Ds is a sensible step. This must be based on merits. A scientist may produce work recognized internationally. Yet, he or she may not possess Ph.D. This should not stop him or her getting promoted.

When YB Dato' Dr Haji Shafie bin Haji Mohd Salleh was Minister of Higher Education, he entrusted a committee to study, review and make recommendations concerning the development and direction of higher education in Malaysia. This year, the Committee publishes a report to make this country the centre of educational excellence. It recommends that MyBrain 15 be designed and implemented for the development of national human capital. It should be planned and implemented towards producing 100,000 Ph.D graduates within the next 15 years.
Hitherto, we have not seen the Government announcing the formation of MyBrain 15. Although aiming at 60% Ph.Ds by 2010 for university teaching staff is a positive step, it would need more efforts to move forward. All Ph.Ds must be recognized internationally.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Transparency in assessing the compensations for the cancellation of the Johor half-bridge project

DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong reiterates that the Government should be truly transparent in assessing compensations for the cancellation of the scenic Johor half bridge, so that Malaysians will not be short-changed.

Dr Tan comments on the scenic bridge contractor, Gerbang Perdana's claim of RM360 million, for the cancellation of the bridge project as reported in the media on 3 July, 2006. Gerbang Perdana Selatan Bersepadu Sdn Bhd has done some works before the cancellation and the consortium has been paid over RM100 million. How many of the eight scopes of works after the cancellation are given to Gerbang Perdana?

As the Johor bridge project has been cancelled since March, 2006, controversies over the amount of compensation for the loss of profits loom. When the sum of RM100 million appeared in the media after the meeting of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu was unhappy. Now, the figure escalates to RM360 million. The minister said that the contractor had asked for all sorts of compensations which the ministry could not entertain.

Samy has directed Public Works Department (PWD) director-general Datuk Dr Wahid Omar to conduct an investigation into the claims.

"Everything will be done like an Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) probe. I have instructed Dr Wahid not to be afraid of anybody and to do what he thinks is right, and to report only to me," he added.

Dr Wahid heads the Claims Committe that handles the claims from the contractor. We hope that he is truly thorough in his assessment.

PAC has asked the Auditor-General, the Works Ministry and the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) to present the criteria and the practice of managing claims from contractors and tolled road concessionaires. We need transparency.

What will be the final amount approved by the Government from the claims of Gerbang Perdana for the loss of profits due to cancellation of the scenic bridge? What are the justifications. The public like to know.