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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Dr M: PM candidate internal matter, no need for press to know

Pakatan Harapan's candidate for prime minister is an internal matter, said the man saddled with the job, Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
As such, he said, there was no need for the press to know about disagreements over the matter.
"We are not rejecting anyone, there is sure to be someone who does not agree.
"We can take this into consideration... who is their replacement candidate.
"This is an internal matter, there’s no need to for the press to know," he said at a press conference in Petaling Jaya this afternoon.
Mahathir was responding to a query on Selangor PKR’s disagreement over his nomination for the job.
The nonagenarian, who led the country for 22 years, was named as Harapan’s prime minister candidate at the coalition's congress on Jan 7.

Selangor PKR leaders had expressed disagreement with the move, although its chief Mohamed Azmin Ali (photo) has said that Mahathir is the best candidate for the job.
Some proposed that Azmin should have been made the prime ministerial candidate instead.
Mahathir said the Selangor menteri besar was capable of being the candidate, but was simply not chosen for it.- Mkini

Mahathir, Wan Azizah to tour nation ahead of GE14

Pakatan Harapan's candidates for the prime minister and deputy prime minister's posts, Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, will embark on a nationwide tour starting next month.
Mahathir, 93, said the roadshow to all states would take place on a weekly basis.
"We only have 14 weeks if we assume that the election is in May,” the former premier told a press conference in Petaling Jaya this afternoon.
The roadshow would comprise ceramah featuring Harapan's top leaders and walkabouts to meet voters to explain the coalition's policies and rebut accusations from the ruling-BN government.
While the tour would be held under the Harapan banner, it remains unclear if the coalition's logo could be used in the next election.
Mahathir said Harapan had yet to receive news from the Registrar of Societies (ROS) on their application to become a formal coalition.
"They said there were problems with Bersatu and DAP, we have tried to fix it but until now there has been no response," he added.
The Home Ministry, which oversees the ROS, told Harapan in November last year that their application had been delayed due to DAP's central executive committee re-election and Bersatu not having held their annual general meeting.
Both parties have since resolved these pending issues.
Mahathir, who is Harapan chairperson, cannot wait for the ROS as campaigning takes time.
Asked if the coalition had considered contesting under a single logo of one of the member parties, the former premier said this had yet to be discussed.- Mkini

No more confrontational diplomacy, says Najib of ties with Singapore

"We certainly don't want to return to the era of confrontational diplomacy and barb rhetoric between the two countries,” said Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak in referring to Malaysia-Singapore relations.
“It was an era that we want to forget; we certainly don't want to come back to that era,” said Najib at a joint press conference on the occasion of the 8th Malaysia-Singapore Leaders' Retreat at the Istana in Singapore on Tuesday.
“We believe that the position of the current government is a position that will bring mutual benefit to both Singapore and Malaysia and we stand by our policy, by our agenda and by our ability to deliver real and tangible benefits to the peoples of Malaysia and Singapore,” he said.
Najib and his Singapore counterpart Lee Hsien Loong were asked whether the two governments could give an assurance that the Rapid Transit System (RTS) and High-Speed Rail (HSR) would still proceed despite any change in the political environment, taking into account the coming Malaysian general election.

Lee, in his response, said all projects which involved more than one country and spanned more than one term of a government “requires long-term commitment”.
"The commitment is formalised, and the agreements which we signed between the two governments today are a binding agreement and whoever the government is on either side, well, this is the agreement which they have to inherit and which they are a party to.
"(But) I don't have any doubt on the Singapore side (that) we have every intention to implement what we signed and what we committed to today," he said.
The two countries had signed two bilateral agreements related to RTS and HSR, with the projects expected to be completed in 2024 and 2026, respectively.

PLO not a terrorist organisation, Hisham Rais tells court

Activist Hishamuddin Rais today rejected the assertion by a lawyer representing Sungai Besar Umno division leader Jamal Md Yunos that the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) was a terrorist group.
Hishamuddin, 67, who was testifying as a witness in Bersih chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah's defamation suit against Jamal at the High Court in Kuala Lumpur, admitted he knew Maria's husband, the late Yusuf Lebai Ali, who joined the PLO in 1977.
The witness told the court that he joined the organisation on two occasions - in 1975, where he stayed for several months and left, and then in 1977 until 1978.
Hishamuddin and Yusuf (photo) were students at Universiti Malaya and members of the university's socialist club.

The activist was cross-examined by lawyer Mohd Nasser Yusof over their involvement with the PLO.
Nasser: Do you agree that Yusuf was trained as a commando?
Hishamuddin: Yes.
Nasser: Is Al Fattah part of PLO?
Hishamuddin: Yes.
Nasser: Isn't PLO a terrorist organisation?
Hishamuddin: I disagree.
Nasser: However, PLO was involved in the Munich Olympics attack on Black September and others?
Hishamuddin: I strongly disagree that PLO is a terrorist organisation.
Nasser: This despite the United States labelling it so?
Hishamuddin: Yes.
Meeting with Chin Peng
Hishamuddin also testified that he, along with Yusuf, had met Parti Komunis Malaya secretary-general Chin Peng in Beijing during the 1980s.

“I went there because Chin Peng (photo) wanted to get our views as the younger generation on the peace talks with the Malaysian government (the Hatyai peace accord). We gave our views to him and those who were willing to listen,” said the former student leader.
The activist, who was once part of the Bersih steering committee, denied that he supported communism.
Hishamuddin also admitted that he was detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) in 1995, and again in 2001 for participating in the Reformasi movement.
The witness said he supports street demonstrations but denied that the intention was to overthrow the government.
Hishamuddin, who participated in all Bersih rallies except the first one, agreed that Bersih 3 rally was "slightly chaotic" but dismissed that participants were rough against the police.
Questioned by lawyer Latheefa Koya about a photo tendered by Jamal's lawyer showing people stomping on a police car, he said Bersih supporters were trying to prevent any untoward incident and that they were not troublemakers.
“There is a footage where the police car had struck a protester and they (Bersih supporters) were trying to lift the car to save the protester. They also broke the car window to save the police (officers) who may have got injured,” Hishamuddin said.
Maria had filed the suit against Jamal for claiming on two occasions, in September and October 2016, that Bersih was infiltrated by the militant Islamic State.
The hearing continues tomorrow, with Justice Mohd Zaki Abdul Wahab hearing Dr Mahathir Mohamad's application to set aside a subpoena served by Jamal.- Mkini

Malaysian gov't among parties that spent at Trump properties - report

Sixty-four trade groups, foreign governments, Republican candidates and others stayed at or held events at properties linked to US President Donald
Trump during Trump's first year in office, a political watchdog group said in a report released on Tuesday.
The arrangements represented "unprecedented conflicts of interest" because Trump oversees the federal government and has not divested from properties he owns or that carry his name, Public Citizen, a nonpartisan group, said in the report.
Shortly before taking office last year, Trump said he would hand off control of his global business empire to his sons Donald Jr and Eric, and move his assets into a trust to help ensure that he would not consciously take actions as president that would benefit him personally.
Many government and private ethics watchdogs said the president should have gone farther, divesting assets that could cause a conflict of interest.
The White House declined to comment on the Public Citizen report, which is based on filings with the US Federal Election Commission and news stories. It referred the issue to the Trump Organization. A spokesperson there did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Representatives of four foreign governments - Kuwait, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey - held events at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, the report said. That hotel, just blocks from the White House, was the most popular Trump property, accounting for more than half the 64 events.
Public Citizen has joined 17 Democratic lawmakers in suing the US General Services Administration for documents regarding the Trump Organization's 2013 lease of the property from the US government.
FEC records, which require disclosing campaign expenditures over US$100, show that 24 groups backing candidates for Congress held events, most of them fundraisers, at Trump properties. All, like the US president, were Republicans.

Also holding events at Trump properties were oil and mining interests, representatives of the vaping industry and a college football team, the report said. It did not cite a figure for the combined spending of the 64 groups at Trump properties.

Teng queries why RM11m paid to consultant if zero paid for tunnel

Is the Penang state government lying, asked state BN chief Teng Chang Yeow in his response to Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng's claim that not a single cent was paid for the undersea tunnel project.
At a press conference in Penang today, Teng pointed to a written reply by state executive councillor Lim Hock Seng at the state legislative assembly on Nov 2, that RM11.2 million was paid in cash to HSSI Sdn Bhd.
"If not a single cent was paid for the project, why did the Penang government pay RM11.2 million to HSSI Sdn Bhd, an independent technical consultant, to verify and certify claims made by the project contractor - Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd (Zenith)," asked the state Gerakan chief.
"Everything you paid for a particular project, whether A, B or C, contributes to the total cost of the project.
"It is part and parcel of the full cost. You cannot say you did not pay a single cent, you have paid," Teng added.

A video clip of Guan Eng (photo) saying on Jan 12 that "not a single cent" was paid for the undersea tunnel was shown at the press conference. Copies of his remarks on his Facebook page were also distributed to the press.
The chief minister had said that only RM208 million was paid (via a land swap of two plots of land) for EIA reports on the three major highway, which is related to the undersea tunnel, linking the island on Gurney Drive to Bagan Ajam on the mainland.
Teng also queried why there was a need to appoint a company and pay RM11.2 million just to review and certify claims made by the contractor.
"This is part and parcel of the total cost of the whole project. It is not a separate thing.
"At the end of the day, when you do the accounting, when you close your account, this would all be taken into account," Teng said.
He further questioned why 50 acres of land, which were part of land swapped to pay for the EIA report, as stated by Guan Eng, was sold by the contractor (Zenith) to its subsidiary.
"Why was it allowed to be sold when work for the project has not started yet?" Teng asked.
Why did gov't pay for report?
He then asked why the state government paid for the EIA report when it was stated in the Public Accounts Committee that the contractor would pay for it.
Teng further queried why the consultant HSSI was paid when Guan Eng had said that the feasibility study for the tunnel was only 92 percent completed.
"The Penang government is not telling the truth. Along the way, is there someone lying? Is the state government lying? We want to know, what is paid, how was it paid and who paid for what," he stressed.

The RM6.3 billion undersea tunnel and three major highway projects are currently the subject of a major probe by MACC, where two high-ranking bosses of private companies linked to the project have been remanded for 11 days to assist in the investigations.
Asked to point out the element of corruption and illegality of paying for the feasibility study of the tunnel and EIA reports of the three highways, Teng said he was not qualified to do so.
"This is not for me to say, as I am not the authority on it. I am not trained on investigating corruption, but what I am disclosing is said by the state government, and contained in the official reply in the state assembly.
"Whether there is (an) element of corruption or not, the authorities or the competent authority have to investigate," he added.
BN not undermining traffic woes
Asked to respond to claims that BN is undermining the undersea tunnel project and not interested in solving traffic problems, Teng begged to differ.
He said that questioning the way payments are made or tenders are awarded does not mean BN is challenging the state government's seriousness in resolving the traffic congestion.
He added that traffic congestion can be solved in many ways and that the state had offered a proposal.
"Questioning does not mean not supporting the project, this is not the right thing to say in a democratic country. What more, DAP says it is upholding the principles of democracy, that means, check and balance is very important."
"We can also ask them why they made a hue and cry and questioned the PORR (Penang Outer Ring Road project during BN's rule prior to 2008). Did we ever say they are not supportive? They should have supported instead of putting a motion in the state assembly to defer the PORR. That is truly not supporting," Teng argued.
He said the BN assemblypersons never filed a motion to halt the undersea tunnel project at the state assembly.
"All we are saying is, just be transparent as you claim to be CAT (competent, accountable and transparent)," said Teng.
"Now the C is not visible, the A has run away, and T is very dark. What kind of CAT is this? CAT has died and is buried."- Mkini

Open crystal ball consultancy, Dr M tells pundits

Pakatan Harapan chairperson Dr Mahathir Mohamad has hit back at political pundits and analysts, telling them to open up a consultancy firm to predict the future.
"These people should open up a consultancy firm on how to predict the future.
"They know more about what can happen than normal humans," the former premier told a press conference in Petaling Jaya this afternoon.
Mahathir said this when asked to comment on a Politweet simulation that Bersatu can only win up to six seats if voter sentiments in the next election are similar to that in 2013.
"Yes, we are only going to contest six seats," Mahathir said in response.
Politweet's simulation also predicted that PKR would win 34 seats, DAP 34, and Amanah 19.
The simulation does not take into account PAS splitting opposition votes, nor the Election Commission's redelineation exercise.
At the Harapan convention on Jan 7, it was announced that Bersatu would be contesting the lion's share of parliamentary seats in the peninsula with 52 seats, one more than PKR.
On another matter, Mahathir who is also Harapan's prime ministerial candidate, said the coalition would be seeking a meeting with the Election Commission so that it can get a copy of the latest electoral roll.
He claimed the coalition had found discrepancies in the copy they had, such as 3.9 million voters not having complete addresses.
He also said that Harapan would ask the government to call on international observers to monitor the upcoming general election.
"This has to be done by the government, so we will ask the government to make a request to the Commonwealth, the UN and so on," he said.

- Mkini