30 January, 2010


I refer to the reported statement by Higher Education Minister, Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin that the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) requires RM5 billion a year to ensure those qualified to pursue higher education are not deprived of the opportunity. He foresee that the current allocation of RM3 billion a year by the federal government is insufficient by the year 2013 following the increase of the number of students pursuing higher education.

He added that well-to-do parents should take the responsibility to finance their children's education and not rely on the government alone. The government has provided the infrastructure and other facilities and those who are rich should be able to finance their children's education. As such, the ministry is studying how to make the PTPTN sustainable and to ensure loans are given only those who really need them.

In relation to the call by the Higher Education Minister requesting “well-to-do” parents to take responsibility to finance their children’s education, it should be noted that the PTPTN loans are subject to repayment by all the students upon their graduation (unless they have obtained 1st class degrees). The PTPTN loans are unlike “scholarships” which are not subject to repayment. Thus, scholarships should be given based on merits and parent’s financial condition.

It is not feasible for PTPTN to consider its grant of loan based on parent’s financial condition.

There could be instances where “well-to-do” parents refuse to finance their children’s education as they may not place their child’s education as priority. There could also be situation whereby those “well-to-do” parents have a large number of children and it is beyond their means to finance every single child in the family.

It would be unfortunate if those students with merits are taken away from their opportunity to pursue higher education due to the poor definition of “well-to-do” parents.

Instead, I would call upon the government to increase the allocation to PTPTN when the fund for disbursement of the PTPTN loan is insufficient.

The government’s budget should place higher priority in increasing the allocation to PTPTN to ensure all Malaysians are given an opportunity to pursue higher education. Higher education is the backbone for human capital development in our country.

Based on the budget for year 2010, the increase of allocation to PTPTN by RM2 billion would only represent approximately 1% of the total RM200 billion annual budget of our country. That’s a small percentage to pay to ensure all Malaysians are given an opportunity to take out PTPTN loan to pursue their higher education.

25 January, 2010


I refer to my statement last week calling for the automatic registration for voters attaining 21 years old and the reported statement today by Datuk Wira Wan Ahmad Wan Omar, Election Commission (EC) Deputy Chairman that an automatic voter registration would not be feasible because some 30% Malaysians failed to update their address in MyKad after they moved houses or states.

He explained that the commission conducted a study after the 2004 elections on the pros and cons of having an automatic voter registration and found it was not ‘suitable’.

According to him, automatic voter registration would cause problems on polling day and the people would blame the Commission for not having their latest residential address.

With due respect to the Election Commission Deputy Chairman, under the current registration system, there are also tons of eligible voters who did not update their latest residential address.

The current registration system is also based on the residential address on MyKad of the people, even if they did not update their address after they have moved houses or states.

Thus, in whatever system that EC decides to adopt, any changes of address of the voters would still require updating of their address in their respective MyKad with the National Registration Department.

It would be unfortunate that a large number of Malaysians would be deprieved of their voting rights under the current manual registration system. As was announced last week by the EC, there are some 28% or 4.39 million Malaysians over the age of 21years old who have yet to register as voters as of end of last year.

In line with the EC’s objective to enable more people to vote (which led to their recent proposal for “early votings”), I would suggest the EC to restudy in allowing “automatic registration for Malaysians who attain 21 years old”.

It is time now for the Election Commission to consider studying ways to improve the current system to enable all Malaysians to vote.

Under the automatic registration system, the default constituency should be based on the last known address given by the National Registration Department unless it is updated by the voters within one (1) year before the election date.

Instead of organizing events to register voters, the EC would then be focusing in promoting Malaysians to update their latest address with the National Registration Department (which would in any event be required in whatever system that the EC adopts).

The launch of the “address update campaign” will create awareness to the people and the eligible voters will not blame the EC for not having their latest residential address.

20 January, 2010

'No' to pricey water in Kedah - extracted from Malaysiakini

'No' to pricey water in Kedah
By Athi Shankar from Malaysiakini
Jan 12, 10 5:46pm

The Kedah government, led by Pakatan Rakyat, has come under pressure not to increase the water tariff up to 2020.

Gerakan Youth state chief Tan Keng Liang said Menteri Besar Azizan Abdul Razak should give an assurance that consumers will not have to pay more for water.

Concern about a possible hike arose when water supply was corporatised under Syarikat Air Darul Aman (Sada) on Jan 1. This was previously managed by the waterworks department.

“Kedahans are worried that they will have to fork out more for water supply. I cannot understand why the state government is so hesitant about guaranteeing that there will be no (increase in price) until 2020,” said Tan in a statement yesterday.

He pointed out that, under Pakatan's common policy framework (CPF) unveiled on Dec 19last year, the coalition had guaranteed clean water supply to Malaysians at a reasonable rate.

He said the CPF also declares that it is the government's responsibility to provide, upgrade and maintain good public infrastructure, and that implementation should not burden the people.

Yesterday, when fielding questions from reporters, Azizan (left) declined to give any assurance, saying it is “a non-issue” and that any increase will be decided by the Sada board after repairs to pipes.

Exception to rule?

Tan subsequently described Azizan's statement as neither a denial nor confirmation, and called for a study on whether the tariff could go up on completion of the corporatisation exercise.

He said Kedahans “have a right to know” whether they will bear the burden of the state policy.

Tan also questioned why Pakatan's top leaders have allowed the Kedah government to corporatise water supply without ensuring that the tariff would remain unchanged.

"Was it an exception to the rule under the CPF?” he asked, calling for the assurance to be provided instead by Anwar Ibrahim, Lim Kit Siang and Abdul Hadi Awang.

“If the state government and Pakatan leaders cannot guarantee this, then it would be best to cancel the corporatisation exercise that may burden Kedahans in the future.”

p/s: I only paste this article after a week from the date it being published as I believe that readers should subscribe to Malaysiakini for latest news.

18 January, 2010


I refer to the statement today by Datuk Wira Wan Ahmad Wan Omar, Election Commission (EC) Deputy Chairman that there are some 28% or 4.39 million Malaysians over the age of 21years old who have yet to register as voters as of end of last year.

The EC Deputy Chairman also said that the EC would intensify their effort to register voters through their various activities, including cooperation with non-governmental organizations and appointing deputy registrars from political parties.

With due respect and notwithstanding the EC’s continuous effort, the statistics of non-registration of Malaysians as voters would always repeat themselves.

The pertinent question that the Election Commission should ask is why do Malaysians have to register themselves as voters?
Every Malaysians should have the right to vote upon attaining the age of 21 years old.

The existence of the current manual registration system would only serve to deprive certain Malaysians from voting in the General Elections. Currently, those unfortunate people stand at 28% of all Malaysians, from the statistics given as of end of last year.

Furthermore, the manual registration of Malaysians as voters is a waste of national resources and time.

It is time now for the Election Commission to consider studying ways to improve the current system to enable all Malaysians to vote.

As such, I would like to suggest to the Election Commission to consider the implementation of an automatic voter registration for all Malaysians who attain the age of 21 years old, based on the information obtained from the National Registration Department (NRD).

The default constituency should be based on the last known address given by the NRD unless it is updated by the voter.

13 January, 2010


I refer to the announcement today by MACC Chief Commissioner Datuk Abu Kassim Mohammed that with immediate effect, the Commission would enforce an existing ruling which prohibits those who lodge reports with the MACC to inform the public, including the media, on the matter, so that it would not be “common knowledge” who and what the anti-graft authorities were investigating.

Under Section 29(4) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009, a report to the Commission shall be “kept secret and shall not be disclosed by any person to any person other than officers of the commission and the Public Prosecutor until an accused person has been charged in court for an offence under this Act or any other written law in consequence of such report, unless the disclosure is made with the consent of the Public Prosecutor or an officer of the commission of the rank of commissioner and above.”

It is clear under the law that any person, including the media, is prohibited to disclose the report lodge with the MACC before the accused being charged in court.

I fully understand that there is a need by the Commission to keep certain cases private as the element of secrecy may be crucial in their investigation.

However, at the same time, Malaysians have a right to know if there is any report made to the Commission, in particular those cases involving government departments and states agencies, be it under Barisan Nasional or Pakatan Rakyat.

Eradication of corruption in Malaysia should be transparent.

Such transparency will also serve as a “check & balance” on the efficiency of the Commission.

If the reputation of the accused person is unjustly affected by the publication of the reported case, then the accused could always file a civil suit in court for damages under defamatory action.

Thus, I would propose that:-

1. the government should consider repealing Section 29(4) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Act 2009 to promote transparency in eradicating corruption in Malaysia; and

2. MACC should not invoke Section 29(4) of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Act.

12 January, 2010

Reply to Menteri Besar of Kedah - Please Focus On The Issue And Give Assurance to Kedahans That Water Tariff Will Not Be Increased For Next 10 years

1. In my press conference yesterday, I have mentioned that the state is going to corporatise the water supply department and to be known as Syarikat Air Darul Aman. I have not mentioned anything about privatization, which is totally different from corporatisation. Thus, I have no idea why Menteri Besar keep on talking about privatization, which is reported in a few local newspaper today.

2. There is also no mention about government will increase the water tariff. Instead, I have said after the corporatisation, there is a lot of Kedahans who are worried that the water tariff may be increased.

3. In any event, the issue that had been raised is “the PAS-led state government must give an assurance to Kedahans that the water tariff will not be increased after the corporatisation” so that Kedahans will not be burden. This is in line with the Pakatan Rakyat Common Policies which was announced recently and should be implemented at Pakatan Rakyat led states (unless PAS is above Pakatan Rakyat).

4. If there is no intention by the PAS-led state government to increase the water tariff after the corporatisation, then I would like to ask the Menteri Besar of Kedah WHY THE PAS-LED KEDAH STATE GOVERNMENT CANNOT GIVE ASSURANCE OR GUARANTEE TO KEDAHANS THAT THE WATER TARIFF WILL NOT BE INCREASED AFTER THE CORPORATISATION.

5. The PAS-led Kedah state government should give an assurance that Syarikat Air Darul Aman (SADA) will not increase the water tariff in the next 10 years.

6. On the statement by MB Kedah requesting me to investigate a company known as “Teleworks”, I would say that there is no such need. MB Kedah should just focus on the issue of giving assurance to the people that the water tariff will not be increased after the corporatisation.

11 January, 2010


On 19th December, 2009, Pakatan Rakyat announced their Common Policy Framework at their first national convention. Among the things that was declared were, Pakatan Rakyat will guarantee clean water at reasonable rates to every family in Malaysia.

Pakatan Rakyat also declared that providing and maintaining good public infrastructure is the government’s responsibility and the implementation should not burden the people.

However, it was announced that the PAS-led Kedah government will corporatise the state’s water supply department and shall be known as Syarikat Air Darul Aman (SADA) as on 1st January, 2010.

A lot of Kedahans are now worried that the corporatisation may lead to the increase of water tariff in the state, which would burden them.

Dato Seri Azizan Abdul Razak, Menteri Besar of Kedah, had announced last week that any water tariff increase would be decided by the board of directors of SADA only after the repair of the water piping system in the state. He had not confirmed nor denied any water tariff increase after the corporatisation under SADA.

1. Water Tariff Increase Must Be Decided By The State (not SADA)

For the information of the PAS-led Kedah state government, water is one of the most important utility to Kedahans. As such, the state government must have the final say in all increase of the water tariff. SADA and their board of directors should not be allowed to decide on any water tariff increase, except to make proposals to the state.

It is important for the Kedah state government to immediately review the agreement, state laws and other documents which governs the relationship between SADA and the state government to ensure all increase of water tariff must seek the approval of the state government.

2. Kedah Government Must Give Assurance No Increase In Water Tariff

It is unfortunate that the Menteri Besar of Kedah failed to give any assurance to Kedahans that there will not be any increase of water tariff after the corporatisation.

To avoid any further uncertainty, the state government must immediately conduct a feasibility study whether there may be water tariff increase after the completion of the corporatisation exercise under SADA. There must be transparency in the state’s administration and Kedahans deserve to know whether they would be burdened by the corporatisation of the state’s water supply department.

3. Pakatan Rakyat Must Ensure That Corporatisation Will Not Burden Kedahans

As was declared by national leaders of Pakatan Rakyat, Pakatan Rakyat will guarantee clean water at reasonable rates to every family in Malaysia and that the implementation should not burden the people.

I would question why Pakatan Rakyat had allowed the PAS-led Kedah state government to proceed with the corporatisation of SADA without assurance that there will not be any increase in water tariff after the exercise, which would surely burden Kedahans?

Is there any exception to the implementation of Pakatan Rakyat’s Common Policies Framework which the people in Kedah should know?

As I have said last month, Pakatan Rakyat must implement their Common Policies Framework in Pakatan Rakyat states if they are sincere in showing Malaysians that those policies are real for implementation and not merely talks.

As such, I would call upon Pakatan Rakyat national leaders, in particular Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Dato Seri Hadi Awang and YB Lim Kit Siang to give assurance to Kedahans that the corporatisation of the water supply department in one of their Pakatan Rakyat states would not lead to any water tariff increase, which would surely burdens Kedahans.

If neither the Pakatan Rakyat national leaders nor the PAS-led Kedah government can give an assurance that there will not be any increase of the water tariff after the corporatisation, then it would be best to cancel the corporatisation that may burden Kedahans in the future.

This would then be a lesson for Pakatan Rakyat and the Kedah state government, to learn to make a feasibility study before making any decision on matters that will affect the people in Kedah.

08 January, 2010


I refer to the arson attacks on 3 churches in our country.

Kedah Gerakan Youth condemns the despicable and shameful act of causing damages to the churches.

It is sad to see that there are cowards that are trying to cause disunity in our country, especially in time of controversy over the usage of the word “Allah”.

Our country had came a long way since independence in promoting unity among Malaysians, despite the differences in race and religion.

As such, Malaysians (in spite of any political differences) should all unite to condemn these cowardly attacks that threaten national unity.

We should not let the cowards celebrate in causing losses to the churches.

As an act of good faith in condemning the arson attacks, I hope that the government would consider assisting, including providing financial assistance to the churches, in repairing the damage caused by the despicable act of arson.

This should be in addition to taking extra security measures to protect the churches and all other place of worship in our country.

07 January, 2010


In the year 2008, the PAS-led Kedah government had announced that the bumiputera quota for all housing developments in the state involving swapped “Malay Reserve land” would be increased from 30% for 50%.

The process of swapping Malay Reserve land involves conversion of a Malay Reserve land into a non-Malay Reserve land. Previously, this process involves swapping the land’s Malay Reserve status with a similar size non-Malay reserve land (plus 5%). Thus, every swapping process would actually lead to the increase of 5% in size of the Malay Reserve land and there is no decrease of Malay Reserve land in Kedah.

Under the previous administration of the state by Barisan Nasional, the housing development on such swapped Malay Reserve land is subject to a 30% Bumiputera Quota. The swapping normally occurs in the area of Alor Star whereby majority of the land in the city are designated as “Malay Reserve” area. It is done to promote housing development and to create more affordable houses in the city.

After continuous protest by all corners in the state, it was announced on 6th December, 2009 by the PAS-led Kedah state government that they would defer the implementation of the increase of the 50% bumiputera quota for housing development in Kedah involving swapped “Malay Reserve land”. Thus, on the following day, I have congratulated the PAS-led Kedah state government for putting a hold on the implementation of their policy to increase the bumi quota from 30% to 50%, which would have otherwise cause further damage to the housing industry and the overall development in Kedah.

Unfortunately, the PAS-led Kedah state government had immediately introduce a new set of guidelines for the swapping of the “Malay Reserve land”. Under this new guideline, a Malay Reserve land can only be swapped with an equivalent value of non-Malay Reserve land (for example, a RM100,000 land can only be swapped with a RM100,000 land).

This new guidelines is yet to be gazetted officially by the state government but almost all application and approval for housing development in Alor Star involving swapped Malay Reserve land had again been deferred (since the increase of the Bumiputera Quota to 50%).

I further understand that this new policy is not practicable as it is near to impossible to find a non-Malay reserve land of same value to qualify for the swapping process, in particular in Alor Star whereby more than 90% of the land area is under Malay reservation. On the other hand, the land located outside Alor Star would not fetch the same high value as the city.

The previous calls to cancel the increase of the bumiputera quota of 50% were meant to ensure continuous development of the housing industry in Kedah, in particular in area such as Alor Star, where non-Malay Reserve land are scarce.

Based on the introduction of this new guideline for swapping of Malay Reserve land, I would like to question the sincerity of the PAS-led Kedah state government in resolving the predicament faced by the housing industry in Kedah since the increase of the bumiputera quota to 50% over a year ago.

By replacing an old irrational policy with a new irrational policy would continue to make things worse in Kedah.

Is this how Pakatan Rakyat solves issues in Pakatan Rakyat states?

The creation of more irrational policy in Kedah would only cause the housing industry and developments in Kedah to continue to be stagnant. At the end, it is the people in Kedah that would suffer from such irrational policy.