Sunday, August 31, 2008

Potential water supplier - Star

Aug 31, 2008 By CLARA CHOOI

PERAK is looking into supplying water to Selangor and Penang. Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Nizar Jamaluddin said the Perak Water Board (LAP) was looking into the matter.

“We have been approached by Penang and we were told that the state may need additional sources of water besides what they are receiving from Kedah,” he said.

He added that the board had already convened a meeting with Penang Water Supply Corporation to discuss the technicalities.

“At this point, we are looking at channelling water from our sources in Kerian to Penang,” Nizar told reporters after launching the board’s Workers Union annual general meeting in Ipoh recently.

Nizar, who is also board chairman, also said the board was targeting to reduce its non-revenue water losses from 30% to 28% by 2010.

He said that currently the board was losing some RM60mil annually to non-revenue water.

“This includes burst pipes, stealing of water and so on.

“We hope the public will be more aware of this problem and report to us if they know of any incidents,” he said.

On a separate matter, Nizar said the board remained one of the few more “open-minded” government agencies in the state.

Recalling his experience during the campaign period of the 12th general election, Nizar said LAP was the only agency that allowed him to enter its premises while he was on his rounds.

“I was turned away from every other government agency simply because I was campaigning under the wrong colour.

“Only the LAP office in Manjung allowed me to greet its staff and even distribute my profile leaflets,” he said, triggering applause and laughter in the audience.

Nizar urged all LAP staff to continue their open-mindedness and not to fall into the “slave-master” system with its management staff.

“The management must also always be respectful of its staff.

“After all, all of you have been blessed with the privilege of managing the God-given gift of water.

“This is a noble duty that you are holding by handling one of the vital elements of life, so make sure that you do not misuse it,” he said.

Pakatan state govt still here, says Perak MB - Star

IPOH: Aug 31, 2008

Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin has debunked his predecessor's prediction that the Pakatan Rakyat government in Perak would fall today.

“I have been waiting for this date. It is Merdeka for us all. Today will be a day of true independence for all Perakians.

“On Aug 31, Pakatan will still have 31 state assemblymen and women and we are celebrating the true Merdeka,” he said.

Former mentri besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Tajol Rosli Ghazali made the prediction early last month.

Nizar, who launched the centennial celebration of SM Yuk Choy in Jelapang here yesterday, said the Perak Government had approved 1,000ha of land to be given to the state’s nine Chinese independent schools.

He said the state executive council had already approved the allocation in principle but had yet to identify a location.

“We are doing this to show the state’s recognition and appreciation of these nine si hua (independent) schools because we know that they have survived all these years without a single bit of government aid.

“Since the state government has limited funds, we decided to help the schools by giving land,” he said.

Later at a press conference, Nizar said the state government would ask the nine schools to form a company to manage the land.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

An offer to the hardcore poor - Star

Aug 28, 2008 By CHAN LI LEEN

THE Ipoh City Council is offering three months’ free rental to the hardcore poor who want to trade at the Central Market in the city.

Datuk Bandar Roshidi Hashim said there were still about 50 vacant stalls at the market and the council was prepared to offer them to those willing to make their own living.

Roshidi handing out aid from the council to some of the 245 hardcore poor at Stadium Indera Mulia in Ipoh.

“The council will even help them get the relevant licences needed to trade,” he said after handing out aid and cash to the hardcore poor in the Ipoh Barat and Ipoh Timor parliamentary constituencies yesterday.

Earlier in his speech, Roshidi encouraged those who were still young and physically capable to start small businesses to improve their earnings.

“Maybe, you can even pick up a skill or trade such as cropping hair to start your own business.

“We will help you and if anyone has other suggestions on what the council can do to help further, we can listen,” he told the 245 recipients present.

Each of them received RM100, 30kg rice, 5kg sugar and 2kg cooking oil.

According to Roshidi, the exercise was not a populist move by the council but rather part of its efforts and determination to help eradicate hardcore poverty in the state by year 2010.

On a separate matter, Roshidi said there were no plans to enforce the requirement for rubbish bins to be placed in front of residential and business premises for now.

“We have decided to relax the ruling because we are of the view that forcing it on the people will not make them realise that keeping clean is actually a joint responsibility of the council and the people,” he said.

Roshidi also said the council, together with the Welfare Department and police, would continue to carry out raids against illegal parking collectors in the city.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Orang asli seek more land - Star

Aug 27, 2008 By IVAN LOH

THE orang asli want the Perak Government to give them more land along with the titles previously announced for them.

Perak Network of Orang Asli Villages founder-adviser and secretary Tijah Yok Chopil said they were not happy with the pro-posed 3.34ha plot of land to be given to each orang asli family in the state.

Tijah said state senior excecutive councillor Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham had announced the news during the Hari Orang Asal Sedunia celebrations in Kampung Chang Sungai Gepor in Bidor, about 60km from Ipoh, on Aug 9.

“But we feel that the land proposed by the government was too little,” she told reporters in Ipoh on Monday.

Tijah said of the 3.34ha plot, 0.12ha was for each family’s home, 0.8ha for their orchard and 2.42ha for commercial farming.

“We not only need the land for economical purposes but also spiritually for our rituals and cultural activities,” she said.

“We appreciate the state go-vernment for giving us the land title but we want more land so that we won’t lose our heritage,” she added.

Tijah also said it was unclear whether the plot of land would be given w ithin their tanah adat (customary land).

“I believe I can speak for all the orang asli in the state,” Tijah said, adding that they have been visiting and getting feedbacks from orang asli villages.

She noted that there were about 45,000 orang asli in 203 villages throughout Perak.

Tijah said they were planning to have a discussion with the state government to come up with a win-win solution.

When contacted, Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin said he had not received any official letter from the orang asli and declined to comment.

Robbers’ reign of terror has residents riled up - Star

IPOH: Aug 27, 2008 By CHAN LI LEEN

Residents of Pasir Pinji and Pasir Puteh here are living in fear of a group of robbers that has been terrorising them over the past two weeks.

The group, believed to comprise four youths, not only rob them of their money but show their victims no mercy by thrashing them with helmets and metal chains.

Perak executive council member Thomas Su Kiong Seong said the attacks had created so much fear in residents that they are afraid to venture out into the streets.

Over the past two weeks, five people had been attacked in Pasir Pinji and Pasir Puteh.

“The attacks had taken place near the vicinity of markets in both areas, either in the wee hours of the morning or at around midnight,” the Pasir Pinji assemblyman told reporters here on Wednesday.

All the victims were either traders at the markets or working nearby, he added.

The robbers, who have been described as “tall, burly young men on two motorcycles,” are believed to have first preyed on Fong Lee Kian, 47, on Aug 6 as the restaurant worker was returning home from supper at about 11pm.

“They caught hold of me and started bashing my head with helmets and metal chains.

“Then they took my wallet with my identity card and RM140 inside, and fled,” said Fong, who received over 10 stitches on his head.

On Aug 19, the robbers struck again, this time at old newspaper collector Foong Chew Kheong and his hawker friend Loo Hing Meh.

The two 62-year-olds were chatting outside a house at the Pasir Pinji new village at about 3.20am before starting work at the nearby market when they were attacked.

Foong managed to get away and sustained minor facial and body injuries, but Loo received 30 stitches on his head.

Later that day at about 4am, vegetable seller Mah Yook Lin, 53, is believed to have been attacked by the same robbers near the Pasir Puteh market and suffered a broken leg, as well as head and body injuries.

“The fifth victim is still being warded at Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun for head injuries and broken ear bones,” said assemblyman Su.

At 4am on Tuesday, noodle deliveryman Foo Kwee Fong, 37, was working at Jalan Pasir Puteh when he was attacked.

Calling on police to step up security in both areas, Su said: “We ask the police to act fast and nab the perpetrators. This is getting out of hand.”

Su, who will meet Ipoh OCPD Asst Comm Azisman Alias to discuss the matter, said there was a need for more policemen to be assigned to the two areas.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Pakatan government on shaky ground - NST

Aug 21, 2008 By : M. Husairy Othman

THE precarious balance of power in Perak has been worsened with the detention of two state exco members by the Anti-Corruption agency (ACA)
for their alleged involvement in graft.
With only two state seats separating the Pakatan Rakyat state government and the Barisan Nasional, this sensational development has brought about knee-jerk reactions from both sides of the fence.

The offer made by Perak BN chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Tajol Rosli Ghazali last month for PKR and Pas state assemblymen to cross over and his prediction that the state government would fall by Aug 31 have only intensified the situation at hand.

Within amatter of hours, claims of a political ploy masterminded by BN were spreading through the grapevine, no thanks to rumours that both exco members were believed to be from Parti Keadilan Rakyat.

“With the Permatang Pauh byelection just round the corner, this is surely more than a coincidence,” said a staunch DAP member. “What do you think? Is it possible for them to abuse their powers after assuming office in less than five months? After all, it is an open secret that BN is desperate to regain control of the state.

They will not stop at anything.” His fear is very real as the Pakatan Rakyat state government has 31 seats, 18 of which are held by DAP, seven by PKR and six by Pas while BN has 28.

BN only needs two more seats to form a new government.

In the event that the duo are convicted, this will force a by-election in these two constituencies and pave the way for BN to form a new government if they win these seats.

While this might be the case, it must be noted that even if the duo are found guilty, they must exhaust all venues of appeal before a by-election can be held.

“For now, the case is only being handled by the magistrate’s court.

They can appeal to the higher courts and drag the cases for years. I will not be surprised if they plan to drag it until the next elections,” said a political obser ver.

Meanwhile, Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin said the arrests would not tarnish the state government’s image as they have not been officially charged yet.

“They remain innocent until proven guilty,” said a calm Nizar.

This might be so, but for the rakyat who have voted Pakatan Rakyat into power, this news will surely have shaken their faith in the state government’s pledge of an open, honest and transparent administration.

“Being caught red-handed with RM100,000 cash, how do you explain that to the people? This is definitely a trump card for BN and they should fully capitalise on it,” said an Umno l e a d e r.

Senior exco member and state DAP chairman Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham has described the arrests as victimisation of the Pakatan Rakyat state assemblymen and a bid to undermine the Pakatan Rakyat rule.

He said this could be BN’s ploy to lure Pakatan Rakyat exco members and state assemblyman to crossover after attempts to buy them failed.

His anger is understandable, but being a senior lawyer, he should al - low the law to run its course.

Five released on ACA bail as Ipoh High Court shortens remand - Star


Glad to be free: Mohd Osman (right) and his supporters raising their hands in jubilation after his release yesterday

Perak state executive councillor Mohd Osman Mohd Jailu and three others were released after the High Court shortened their remand order, from Friday to Thursday.

The four, and another man released earlier, had on Tuesday been detained for alleged graft involving a proposed housing project in Seri Iskandar, Perak Tengah, worth RM180mil.

Judicial Commissioner Ridwan Ibrahim ruled that the magistrate had issued the order on valid grounds.

"All the procedures were followed under the Criminal Procedure Code and I find that there was no injustice," he told a packed courtroom at about 5.15pm.

However, he said he felt that the three-day remand order was too long and as such revised it to end Thursday.

Counsel Mohamad Asri Othman and seven other lawyers argued that the magistrate had been wrong to issue the order and to fix the remand period for three days.

Mohamad Asri said this represented a grave injustice as the defence team could not "read the mind of the magistrate" who had supposedly failed to record the reasons for granting the order.

Earlier, Mohammad Asri created a stir when he implied that the arrests could be politically motivated to coincide with the Permatang Pauh by-election.

This provoked a vehement objection from Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) Senior DPP Mohamad Jazamuddin Ahmad Nawawi who said it had nothing to do with the application.

Lawyers Faizul Hilmy Ahmad Zamri and Dexter Mah Kok Leong also took issue with the revelation that an ACA investigating officer was appointed only after the arrests.

However, Senior DPP Mohamad Jazamuddin countered that such was usually the case after a sudden "accident" or catching a criminal after a rape, provoking grumbles from Pakatan Rakyat supporters.

"I urge the court to reject the application. The magistrate has the discretion on whether or not to allow the remand order," he said.

The four were then produced before a magistrate and later freed at the state Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) office on a RM20,000 bail each with one surety.

Fellow PKR member and former Bota assemblyman Kapt (Rtd) Usaili Alias hugged Mohd Osman after they were released at about 6.30pm.

Remand for another Perak Exco member Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi, who turned himself in on Wednesday to facilitate investigations into the case, ended Thursday.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Perak Exco reps Osman and Jamaluddin among 6 nabbed by ACA - Star

Two Perak state executive councillors are among six people arrested by the Anti Corruption Agency (ACA) for alleged graft, involving a proposed housing project in Seri Iskandar worth RM 180mil. The two Exco members are Changkat Jering assemblyman Kapt (Rtd) Mohd Osman Mohd Jailu (RIGHT), 57, and Behrang assemblyman Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi (LEFT)

IPOH: Aug 21, 2008

Two Perak state executive councillors are among six people arrested by the Anti Corruption Agency (ACA) for alleged graft, involving a proposed housing project in Seri Iskandar worth RM 180mil.

The two Exco members are Changkat Jering assemblyman Kapt (Rtd) Mohd Osman Mohd Jailu, 57, and Behrang assemblyman Jamaluddin Mohd Radzi, 52.

State Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) director Samsiah Abu Bakar confirmed the arrests.

Osman and four others were picked up at a hotel in Ipoh on Tuesday at 5.40pm while Jamaluddin was detained later when he went to the ACA office here.

Osman and the other four others - a PKR member, who stood and lost in the last general elections, a businessman, a Perak Development Corporation technician and a Perak Tengah district councillor - have been ordered to be remanded for three days to facilitate ACA officers in their investigations.

“We recovered RM100,000 in cash from the men but before that they have apparently been receiving (money) many times,” Samsiah told reporters at her office here Tuesday.

“They are also suspected to be involved in asking for sexual favours," she said, although she later confirmed that neither Osman or Jamaluddin had solicited sexual favours.

The RM100,000, she added, was supposedly found inside a bag in the Osman’s possession.

Samsiah estimated that the group had received altogether over RM120,000 from a contractor of the project in Seri Iskandar, Perak Tengah.

Samsiah said the ACA was first alerted about the solicitation of payments by “a member of the public” last week.

Jamaluddin turned himself in at the state ACA office here at about 10am to give his statement. At press time, there is no word of him being remanded as he was still under 24-hour detention by the ACA.

He appeared at the lower courts but left with lawyer Mohd Azri Osman for the state ACA office 10 minutes later.

The former postman turned politician appeared to be in good spirits and even greeted and joked with the media.

At about noon Tuesday, the five arrested at the hotel were taken to the magistrate’s court here to be remanded.They arrived at the courts in separate vehicles at 11am.

Reporters and members of the public were kept guessing over the identities of the five handcuffed suspects because they either had jackets over their heads or hands covering their faces.

They were immediately whisked inside and remained in the courtroom for over an hour.

The handcuffed Osman, who appeared panic-stricken, was the first to emerge but this time with his face uncovered at 12.24pm.

Magistrate Noor Aini Yusof issued a three-day remand order against each of the five pending investigations under Section 11(a) of the Anti-Corruption Act 1997.

State executive councillors Tai Sing Ng and Thomas Su Keong Siong and Ipoh Barat MP M. Kulasegaran were also present to lend moral support.

Two Perak exco members among six arrested for graft and sexual bribery - Sun

IPOH (Aug 20, 2008) By Humayun Kabir

Two Perak state executive councillors and a former state assemblyman from Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) were among six people arrested by the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) over the past two days for alleged graft in connection with the approval of a RM180 million housing project.

Perak ACA director Samsiah Abu Bakar who said the case involves more than RM100,000 bribe for approving the housing project, added that the suspects were "also believed to be involved in sexual bribery."

Five of them, aged between 30 years and 57 years were picked up yesterday between 6am and 9.15pm, while the sixth was arrested when he reported to the state ACA office here with his lawyer about 10.30am today.

Samsiah said three of the suspects including an Exco member were detained by ACA immediately after receiving a bribe of more than RM100,000 as a gratication to expedite the application process of the housing project in Seri Iskandar, Perak.

ACA sources said the five men arrested yesterday were a 57-year-old state executive councillor, a 56-year-old former state assemblyman, a 45 year-old Perak Tengah district councillor, a 30 year-old businessman and a 46 year-old technician from the State Economic Development Corporation.

The five suspects were produced at about 11 am today before Magistrate Noor Aini Yusof who upon an application by ACA prosecuting officer Hamzah Mohd Aris, issued remand orders for them to be detained for three days to assist investigations.

The sixth suspect, a state executive councillor who was arested today, will for now be held for 24 hours, to assist ACA in their investigations into the case.

Pressmen wholearnt of the corruption case involving several politicians staked out the courthouse from 8.30am despite being told by court officials that they were unaware of such a case.

At about 9.30am, a state exco councillor arrived at the courthouse with lawyer Asri Othman.

Asked why they were in court, Asri said "We do not know, but we were told to report to court at 9am today."

They then left the court complex saying they were going to the state ACA office to find out what was the matter was all about.

At about 11am five cars drove into the complex and five men who were handcuffed emerged with their faces covered and escorted into the court by ACA officers while press photographers scrambled to get their photos.

They were led to a courtroom on the first floor where the media was locked out until they emerged much later.

Meanwhile, Perak Menteri BesarDatuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin said the arrest of the two state executive councillors would not affect the administration of the state.

"At the moment they have only been remanded. If there is a charge on any of the exco members, we'll leave it to the court to decide so that the law will take its natural course.

"This is only an investigation. They are only being questioned and are giving their statements...everyone is innocent until proven guilty so we will let the court decide if they should be charged," he said after attending the presentation of Sukan Malaysia XII incentives here.

Mohammad Nizar said all the state executive councillors were prepared to cooperate in any investigation by the ACA.

Pakatan Rakyat (People's Front) holds 31 seats in the Perak state assembly -- 18 by DAP, PKR (seven) and PAS (six). The Barisan Nasional (BN) has 28 seats.

Perak MB: Let law run its course - Star

IPOH: Aug 20, 2008

Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin kept his composure, when pressed for comments that two of his Exco members had been arrested for graft.

Speaking to reporters at the state secretariat here Wednesday, Nizar said: "Let the law run its course. At this point, nothing can be said for every individual is innocent until proven guilty.

A grim-faced Nizar added that the Perak government would offer its full cooperation to the investigation.

"As far as I am concerned, any of our Exco members are open for investigation and should there be enough evidence to charge them, then they will be charged. Let the court decide," he said.

To a question on whether Pakatan's credibility would be tarnished by the arrests, Nizar said: "Anybody can get remanded.

"A remand is just for the purpose of recording statements and so on. It will not affect the government."

2 Perak PKR excos held in ACA dragnet - Malaysiakini

Aug 20, 08 12:52pm

Two Perak PKR state executive councillors and a former PKR state assemblyperson were among six people detained by the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) yesterday and this morning.

Several of them were spotted at the Ipoh Sessions Court today with handcuffs, however reporters at the scene could not ascertain their identities as their faces were covered.

It is learnt that five of them have been remanded for three days to facilitate investigations, which involved alleged corruption involving a RM180 million housing project.

Perak Menteri Besar Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin is expected to issue a statement on the matter later today.

The incident will bound to send the Perak government into turmoil as the Pakatan Rakyat government only holds a slim two-seat majority over Barisan Nasional.

Commenting on the matter, Perak DAP chairperson and senior state exco member Ngeh Koo Ham said the arrest of the two Pakatan leaders was a case of 'victimisation' by Barisan Nasional to undermine the state government.

"This is only an attempt to undermine Pakatan in Perak, and an attempt to send them to prison," said Ngeh, when met at the Parliament lobby today.

BN's political game blamed

Ngeh said that the two arrested exco members would not be suspended pending the ACA investigation.

"We have this great suspicion that they are being victimised. How could they be suspended?" he asserted.

He also raised his suspicion on the 'swift action' taken by ACA regarding cases involving opposition politicians.

"The most disappointing thing about this is, why is the ACA so swift in taking action against us while we have lodged so many reports about BN politicians on their corrupt practices?" asked Ngeh.

More news at:

ACA detains 6 over housing project kickback - Star

PUTRAJAYA: Aug 20, 2008

The ACA has arrested six people including two Perak state exco members for alleged graft, involving a housing project worth RM180mil.

Perak ACA director Samsiah Abu Bakar confirmed the arrests on Wednesday.

Five of them, including one exco member, were arrested on Tuesday in Perak following a report lodged by a complainant. The second exco member was arrested this morning.

Three of them were said to have collected RM100,000 as kickback to help process the housing application.

They are believed to have helped expedite and approve the application.

Five of the detained have been remanded for three days.

Monday, August 18, 2008

The ulama take charge again - Star

Aug 18, 2008 Analysis by JOCELINE TAN

By the time the PAS muktamar ended, the party’s three ulama superstars had shown that they were again in total control of the party.

THE Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammed Nizar Jamaluddin is much better looking in person than in pictures.

He is tall, has his mother’s fair Chinese skin and speaks Cantonese with the Chinese reporters covering the PAS muktamar in Ipoh. But it is his polished English that sets him apart.

He is also the new star of PAS and party members have been lining up to have their photographs taken with him.

Nizar, whom party people refer to rather quaintly as “Datuk Seri Engineer Nizar,” now ranks among the “professionals” in the party.
Nizar: Ranks among the 'professionals' in the party.

The professional group has been on the rise in PAS since 1998 when the Anwar Ibrahim sacking sent droves of well-educated Malays into PAS.

Their technocratic style and broader worldview was like fresh air blowing into a closed room.

This group did so well in the 2007 party polls they almost eclipsed the conservatives.

But the ascent of the professionals is about to be checked because the three-day muktamar ended yesterday with a clear mandate for the ulama (religious scholars) group to play a more influential role in the party’s future direction.

“The more conservative ulama group will be the ones to watch at next year’s party elections,” said Zulkifli Sulong, editor of the political newsletter Siasah.

The perception is that the young Turks, including deputy president Nasharudin Mat Isa, are a little too impetuous about taking the party forward. They think the party is in uncharted waters and needs the guiding hand of more experienced and conservative ulama.

“We were also dissatisfied with the way the leaders handled the issue. It caused a lot of confusion,” said PAS Youth exco member and lawyer Abdullah Abdul Karim from Pahang.

Members are still unhappy with Nasharudin’s role in the PAS-Umno talks although they have not attacked him directly at the muktamar.

His mistake was going alone to meet the Umno president even though he had the green light from the top. He has been the target of what his friends call fitnah or slander in cyberspace and he will take time to recover.

Nasharudin is seen as part of this new school of ulama who is too modern for the liking of some members.

At last year’s muktamar in Kota Baru, banners hung all over the Kelantan capital had featured Nasharudin alongside Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat and Datuk Seri Hadi Awang.

This year, the banners put up in Ipoh featured only the two senior Tok Gurus.

Nasharudin is no longer seen as a potential party president.

But this muktamar was successful in soothing the misgivings of members over a number of issues.

PAS Perak deputy chief and lawyer Asmuni Awi said the party’s top ulama figures were able to resolve the PAS-Umno talks or muzakarah issue by explaining that such engagement is perfectly permissible under Islam.

The grassroots also had a chance to tell the leaders that any engagement must not extend to joining or cooperating with Umno.

“We also made our stand on Pakatan Rakatan. We will stay with the coalition despite the problems,” said Asmuni.

Members were also assured that the party intends to be the dominant partner or king-maker in the coalition and that their party president Prime Ministerin-waiting.

“Many of us are not in favour of grabbing the federal government. If a party wants to leave the Barisan, that’s fine but I am against enticing individual MPs to jump,” said Asmuni.

Party leaders knew that they were facing an angry group of delegates when the muktamar began on Friday. But they managed things really well, getting their top ulama, including the highly respected Datuk Dr Haron Din to explain things.

“They are the creme de la creme in our party and they put things into the Islamic perspective,” said Kuala Lumpur delegate Dr Rayney Ali.

Members reacted well to Nik Aziz’s statement that any engagement with Umno would be done on PAS’ own terms. He was greeted with cheers from the floor when he said PAS leaders intend to ask Umno leaders why they had failed to implement Islam.

Nik Aziz was ill throughout the muktamar while Dr Haron has been suffering from heart problems for several years and Hadi has lost so much weight because of health problems.

The three ulama superstars are not in the pink of health but they are in total control of the party.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

10-point reformation for Perak - Star

Aug 12, 2008 By CLARA CHOOI

ALL the 15 local councils in Perak must allow the public and pressmen to attend their monthly full board meetings.

State Education, Local Government, Housing and Public Transport Committee chairman Nga Kor Ming said the state government made this mandatory to ensure transparency in the councils’ administration.

“Everyone must be allowed to attend the meetings so they can witness for themselves the decision-making process in the local councils,” he told reporters after an inaugural meeting with the state’s council presidents here recently.

Nga however advised those interested to attend the meetings to pre-register their attendance at the relevant local councils to reserve seats for themselves.

The new ruling is among the 10-point reformation to local government policies that was proposed during the meeting.

“We have also decided to have uniformity in the state’s coupon parking system by implementing the ‘one-state, one-system’ parking policy.

“By Jan 1 next year, motorists can use one type of parking coupon at all council parking lots statewide.”

He added that where there were parking meters, motorists would not have to buy parking coupons.

Nga said that the state had also made it compulsory for council presidents to “turun padang” (do fieldwork) every Wednesday and remain in their offices every Tuesday to receive public complaints.

“Each local council must also provide the state government with annual reports on its performances based on key performance indicators.

“From there, the state will evaluate each employee’s service records and identify areas which need to be improved on,” he said.

Nga said from next month, each local council would have a “muhibbah counter” manned by all three races to aid those who were unable to converse in Bahasa Malaysia.

Other reforms include all council enforcement staff in the state being required to wear similar uniforms from January next year, a committee to be set up amongst the local councils, Perak Water Board, Telekom Malaysia and Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) to coordinate the installation of services, each local government will identify sites such as new housing premises to collect assessments, and local authorities will only approve the construction of new housing schemes or buildings if they include built-in rubbish bin areas.

“For the old homes, we have temporarily decided to hold-off compounding those who do not have rubbish bins at their homes. However, the local councils will send remin-ders to owners of premises,” he said.

He reminded those applying for new cyber-cafe licences to stick to tight rules imposed by the state or risk being shut down.

Nizar: Let farmers carry on working on idle plots - Star

IPOH: Aug 12, 2008

Farmers toiling illegally on state land should be allowed to continue if the land they are on is not earmarked for development, said Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin.

Although there had been no decision on whether to allow such people to own the land or be given temporary occupational licence (TOL), Nizar said:

“If the land is not earmarked for development or identified in any masterplan, the people should be allowed to continue working on it.

“There is plenty of state land which does not have any planning for development.”

“We should encourage the people to use the land particularly if they are from Perak,” he said during a working visit to the state Land and Mines Office here yesterday.

Nizar said this when responding to a question by a state Land and Mines Office personnel who raised concerns that trespassers had been on the rise since the Pakatan Rakyat government took over power in Perak.

He added that the job of enforcement officers at the Land and Mines Office was to collect revenue from those who did not settle their payment after they were given TOLs.

“Don’t you think that even civil servants or their children from Perak should be given priority to own land in the state?” he asked.

Earlier, Nizar told the personnel to work hard to dispel negative perceptions of the people towards the Land and Mines Office.

“We want the people to look at this office and say that this is the office that resolves their problem,” he said.

He also urged the staff to not allow elected representatives to interfere with their duties.

“Don’t allow the elected representatives to dictate what they want from the Land Office,” he added.

Perak land sale via open tender - Star

IPOH: Aug 12, 2008 By HAH FOONG LIAN

Perak will sell state land via open tenders to enhance transparency in its administration.

It will also be the first state in the country to have a written set of guidelines, to be released later, for such sales.

Stacks of work: Mohammad Nizar visiting the state Land and Mines Office in Ipoh yesterday. With him is Perak Land and Mines Office director Datuk Abu Zar Omar (right).

Announcing the policy during a working visit to the state Land and Mines Office here yesterday, Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin said:

“We want to practise transparency and at the same time increase the state’s revenue.”

He said there were parcels of land which many people were interested in, and awarding these through the open tender system would prevent accusations from being hurled at the state government.

Nizar said the state Valuation Department would determine the reserve price, and bids must start at 25% above the reserve price. The land would go to the highest bidder.

Perak citizens, he said, would be given priority.

He said the state government had identified nine pieces of land in Hulu Kinta district to start off the open tender system.

“Some are 4ha, some 0.4ha and others 0.2ha, but they fetch high prices because they are centrally located,” he said.

An advertisement will be put up to announce the bidding.

A spokesman at the Land and Mines Office said Terengganu and Sabah also adopted the open tender system, but the two states did not have a set of written guidelines or policy on the matter.

Monday, August 11, 2008

To the aid of disabled siblings - Star

Aug 11, 2008 By RASLAN BAHAROM

HAPPIER days are in store for the three wheelchair-bound siblings who are among some 300 squatter families who have to move out to make way for the on-going electrified double-tracking project from Ipoh to Padang Besar.

The siblings - Ahmad Arbain Asri, 36, Mohd Ali, 26, and Mohd Isa, 27, have moved in to their new rented home at Taman Simpang Bakti in Simpang, Taiping, thanks to two elected representatives, Aulong assemblyman Yew Tian Hoe and Bukit Gantang MP Roslan Shaharum.

Yew, upon reading about the siblings’ plight in The Star, agreed to foot the TNB deposit and electrical wiring for the house amounting to RM500 while Roslan chipped in with RM100 to alleviate their predicament.

The siblings’ eldest sister, Salasiah Arbain, 40, thanked both the elected representatives for their assistance and donation, enabling them to move out from their squatter home.

New pal:Mohd Ali(second right)chatting with a neighbour,Faridah Musa.With him is Ahmad Arbain.

Salasiah, a divorcee with two children, said she was also informed recently that an Islamic religious body planned to build a house for them in Kampung Boyan soon.

“I hope it will materialise soon so that we don’t have to continue renting houses,” she said.

“A relative recently sold me a Proton Tiara cheaply to enable me to help my handicapped brothers move about easily,” said Salasiah, who runs a drink stall near their now-demolished squatter home off Jalan Raja Sulong.

Like other squatter families displaced by the double-tracking project, Salasiah re- cently received RM1,000 as transportation charges to shift to a new home and RM300 as monthly house rental allowance for two years.

Open tender system to sell state land in Perak - Star

IPOH: Aug 11, 2008 By HAH FOONG LIAN

Perak will adopt the open tender system to sell state land to increase its revenue and enhance transparency in its administration.

It is also the first state in the country to have a written set of guidelines, to be revealed later, for the open tender system when selling state land.

Announcing the policy during a working visit at the state Land and Mines Office here Monday, Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin said:

"We want to practise transparency and at the same time increase the state revenue."

He pointed out that there were parcels of land which many applicants were interested in and awarding them through the system would prevent various accusations from being hurled at the state government.

"We don't want to award to any individual because that would open ourselves to unnecessary problems. So we are going to award the land to the highest bidder," he said.

"If we were to award the land to any company A or B, we would be accused of cronyism and not being transparent," he added.

Nizar said the state Valuation Department would determine a reserve price and all bidders must pay 25% more than the reserve price.

Priority, he said, would be given to Perak citizens to take part in the bidding.

For a start, he said, the state government had identified nine pieces of land in the nearby Hulu Kinta district for the open tender system.

"Some of them are 0.4ha, some are 4ha and 0.2ha but they fetch a high price because they are centrally located," he said, adding that the system would be extended to land in other districts.

After the state had obtained the reserve price from the Valuation Department, he said, an advertisement would be put up to announce the bidding.

According to a spokesman at the Land and Mines Office, the guideline required a survey to be conducted on a particular piece of land and a land title would be issued.

Only after the highest bidder had successfully become the rightful owner, the person's name would be written on the land title, he said.

Terengganu and Sabah also conducted the open tender system but the two states did not have a set of written guidelines or policy on the matter, he added.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Court dismisses election petition for three state seats - Star

IPOH: Aug 8, 2008 By SYLVIA LOOI

The High Court here has dismissed the election petitions filed to strike out the election results of Kuala Sapetang, Kuala Kurau and Lubok Merbau state seats.

Election judge Wan Afrah Wan Ibrahim struck out with costs the petitions challenging the results of the three constituencies.

Petitioners See Tean Seng, Mohd Salleh Mat Disa and Datuk Jamal Nasir Rasdi, who stood under the Barisan Nasional ticket and lost in the battle for the state seats of Kuala Sapetang, Kuala Kurau and Lubok Merbau, respectively.

In dismissing the petition of Kuala Sapetang, Wan Afrah agreed with the Senior Federal Counsel that by allowing a person to push an incapacitated person on a wheelchair into the polling station is in accordance with the elections regulation.

The regulation, she said, allowed a relative of the incapacitated voter to enter the station with the voter, without the need to put in the request in writing.

"It also allows the relative to mark the ballot paper of the incapacitated voter in the manner dictated by the said person," she said.

She added that the fact the voter was present before the presiding officer in an incapacitated state with her relative was sufficient.

Wan Afrah noted that the petitioner failed to elaborate how one vote could have affected the result of the election as Tai Sing Ng of PKR had won by a 564-vote majority over See.

On claims by See that a ballot paper was intentionally inserted into a pocket containing rejected ballot papers, Wan Afrah said the facts and grounds were insufficient to support that it was the duty of the postal voter to return his vote to the correct returning officer.

"There are no provisions to make it a duty of the returning officer to return the wrongly channelled votes to the correct returning officer," she said, adding that the decision of the presiding officer whether to reject any ballot papers was final.

"Even if there is non-compliance with the related law, one ballot paper will not affect the result of the election," she said, adding that See also failed to identify the person who committed the alleged corrupt practices and to link it to Tai.

On the Kuala Kurau case, Wan Afrah said the act by agents of PKR's Ab Yunus to solicit for votes, persuade voters to vote for a particular candidate or loiter within 50m of the polling station could not fall within the conduct of any election.

"The acts are allowed in election but they only become an offence if on polling day they are carried out within 50m of a polling station," she said.

As for the three persons wearing yellow T-shirts as alleged by Mohd Salleh, Wan Afrah said there was nothing to show how their presence had affected the result.

On the Lubok Merbau case, Justice Wan Afrah said Jamal Nasir failed to show that Mohd Zainuddin Mohd Yusof of PAS had committed an offence.

Besides failing to highlight the specific offences allegedly committed by the Mohd Zainuddin, Wan Afrah said Jamal Nasir also failed to identify the person who had allegedly committed the corrupt practices and that they were committed in connection with the election.

Perak doesn't recognise federal village panels - NST

IPOH: Aug 8, 2008

The Pakatan Rakyat state government does not recognise Federal Village Development and Security Committees (JKKKP), claiming the bodies were set up to cause disunity among villagers.

Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin said residents having problems should contact the state-run Village, Development and Security Committees (JKKK), district offices or penghulu offices.

"We have given residents the opportunity to elect village heads whom they feel are capable and able to carry out their duties efficiently," he said after presenting appointment letters to 817 village heads here yesterday.

Present were state Education, Local Government, Housing and Public Transport Committee chairman Nga Kor Ming, Higher Education, Science, Technology and Communications Committee chairman Thomas Su and state secretary Datuk Abdul Rahman Hashim.

Of the number, 700 are new faces, comprising retired civil servants and politicians (some of whom are from Umno). They will serve for two years.
Previously,village heads were appointed by the menteri besar.

He said to avoid problems, the JKKKPs were barred from using public facilities as they had been instances of members abusing them.

Rural and Regional Development Minister Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib had said Federal Government-appointed village heads would not cause conflict as their duties would not overlap those appointed by the state government.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Fair Park residents complain of dust pollution again - Star

IPOH: Aug 7, 2008 By SYLVIA LOOI

Residents living around Fair Park here had a temporary reprieve from the dust pollution problem when a nearby cement factory stopped one of its plants for maintenance work.

However, the problem returned two weeks ago and it is now affecting them again.

Residents Action Committee secretary Sonny Leong said the committee recorded reduced dust pollution between June 12 and 27 when one of the factory's production lines was shut down for maintenance.

"But with the problem recurring, the people's health and property are suffering," he told a press conference here Thursday organised by Perak Health, Environment and Human Resources Committee chairman A. Sivanesan.

Leong noted that after the residents highlighted their plight to the Pakatan Rakyat state government in April, the situation saw a marked improvement to the 15-year-old problem.

"We hoped that the state would get the DOE (Department of Environment) and Health Department to help resolve the current situation," he said.

However, a representative of the factory, who was also present, refused to acknowledge that the dust pollution originated from the factory.

"Any industrial activity will generate dust," he said.

The representative pointed out that the factory had carried out remedial works worth more than RM1mil aimed at improving the situation.

He added that the DOE would visit the plant every month and so far there had been no negative feedback from the department's officers.

"Our door is always open and the residents should come and see us rather than going to the press," he said.

Expressing satisfaction that there had been improvement to the situation, Sivanesan said it could be further improved.

He also noted that over the years, the factory had been slapped with nine compounds from the DOE for failure to comply with regulations on dust emission.

"But from April until now, no compounds had been issued," he said.

New bus station for Jelapang - Star

Aug 6, 2008 By IVAN LOH

A NEW RM30mil bus terminal with environmentally-friendly landscaping is being planned for Bandar Meru Raya in Jelapang, Ipoh, after years of delay.

State Education, Local Govern-ment, Housing and Public Transport Committee chairman Nga Kor Ming said the project would be completely different from the one proposed earlier.

The terminal, he said, located on a 4.8ha plot next to the Jelapang North-South Expressway (PLUS) toll, will have a garden and surrounded by trees instead of a concrete fencing.

He said the greenery surrounding would make the terminal more pleasant.

Nga said they were in the final stages of negotiating with a consortium of bus operators on the proposed terminal.

“The consortium will fund the entire project,” he said.

If all goes well, the project will start at the end of the year. It will take two years to build the terminal.

Nga also said the consortium would also have to replace the aging city buses with 300 new vehicles, which were estimated to cost some RM180 million, to complement the terminal.

“With the new terminal, buses and new routes within the Kinta Valley, we hope to encourage more people to use public transport.”

He said the whole purpose of having a terminal next to the toll plaza was to enable express buses from Penang or Kuala Lumpur have quick access to Ipoh instead of having to enter the city and get caught in traffic jams.

Perak Omnibus Operators Association president Yeoh Choo Hoon, during its annual dinner on Friday, thanked the state government to let the operators plan, build and manage their own terminal.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Nizar to honour ICT blueprint - Star

IPOH: Aug 5, 2008

Perak’s Pakatan Rakyat government will honour the ICT blueprint launched by the previous Barisan Nasional government.

Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin said:

“We will stick to the policy. We are not amending the blueprint because it is in tune and in line with the Malaysian cybercentre in Cyberjaya.

“We believe the blueprint is practical, and the same blueprint is used in other centres in the whole country.

“So the existing government will honour the blueprint,” Nizar saod.

He was speaking to reporters after opening a seminar yesterday to promote MSC Malaysia status among ICT companies in Perak.

The Pakatan government had reportedly said in June that it was reviewing the ICT blueprint launched by the Barisan government three years ago.

Nizar also witnessed the exchange of four memorandums of understanding.

They were between KPerak INC Corporation and Emagin Sales Network Sdn Bhd to set up an international contact centre facility as well as a centre of excellence for outsourcing at Meru Raya here, between KPerak INC and Go Academy Sdn Bhd to set up a 3D animation production centre, and between PCB Development Sdn Bhd and Info Nanjung Sdn Bhd to build an ICT hub at Meru Raya.

Nizar also said that 11 companies and two institutions of higher learning in Perak had been awarded MSC status, and five companies were in the process of obtaining it.

MSC Malaysia Cybercities general manager Ng Wan Peng, who was at the event, said that more that 2,000 local and foreign companies at cybercentres nation-wide had received MSC status.

The country, she said, was now in the second phase of the MSC initiative covering 2004 to 2010; the third covers 2011 to 2020.

It is estimated that by 2010, MSC Malaysia would have created at least 100,000 jobs for skilled and knowledgeable workers, she added.

New bridge for residents - Star

Aug 5, 2008

RESIDENTS of Kampung Cina in Sitiawan finally have their wish come true. They will get a new bridge connecting the village to Seri Manjung town.

Perak senior state executive councillor member Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham said the residents had been applying for a new bridge to replace the existing wooden bridge for the past 10 years.

He noted that the wooden bridge, connecting the two areas, was narrow and was only accessible by motorcycles and bicycles.

“Three cars have fallen into the river because the bridge was too small,” said Ngeh after the groundbreaking ceremony for the bridge in Kampung Cina recently

Wider and safer: Workers preparing to build the new bridge after the groundbreaking ceremony.

He said the new bridge would also shorten each trip between Kampung Cina and Seri Manjung by 5km.

“It is only a short distance between the two areas but the people need to go one big round from one place to the other,” he added.

Construction of the new concrete bridge, measuring 3m wide and 15m long, would commence after the groundbreaking ceremony, said Ngeh, adding that it would be completed within two weeks.

“We will also install proper lighting near the bridge for the safety of users,” he said.

“Inclusive of a tar road that leads to the bridge, the whole project will cost about RM100,000,” said Ngeh.

He added that developer King Ong Development Sdn Bhd was willing to bear all the costs for the project to show gratitude to the state government for adopting a transparent policy.