MAS Bill: Protecting Suppliers

- Breaking news to the MAS bill. This morning the govt snuck in a committee stage amendment to the MAS bill. The amendment essentially protects the current suppliers of MAS and allows them to continue at the same rate. This will allow RM40 nasi lemak to continue.

MAS bill is being debated. It’s a very serious subject matter.

But Kinabatangan Bung Mokhtar is debating that what makes him most unhappy on the matter is that everytime before he boards an airplane, security will search him by hand. Bung is angry because in other countries they use electronic scanner. He says he is sensitive to people touching him. MAS has lost billions and this BN MP’s main debate point is he doesn’t want security to touch his body. God save Malaysia!

– Here is the picture of the foul committee stage amendment. This amendment will continue to make sure that Brahim, Badawi’s brother and Khairy Jamaluddin’s uncle will continue to supply MAS with overpriced food. All Pakatan Rakyat MPs must fight this amendment.

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Press Conference: Creative Accounting for MDV & Prasarana

I did a quick press conference this morning in Parliament exposing an attempt by govt to tidy up their loan exposure. See below.

My press statement was also picked up by the Edge. Here is the link.

Ministry of Finance’s RM875 million Creative Accounting for Malaysia Debt Ventures and Prasarana

Items 14 and 18 in the Orders of the Day reveal that the Ministry of Finance intends to convert its loans to Malaysia Debt Ventures Berhad (MDV) and Prasarana Malaysia Berhad (PMB) into shares.

The loan amount to be converted are as follows:

· RM400 million for MDV

· RM475 million to PMB.

A debt to shares swap is not unusual for arms’ length deals between lender and borrower corporations. However it is unusual when both entities are related, in this case the Minister of Finance (Incorporation) owns both MDV and PMB. Even more intriguing is the fact that both MDV and PMB are not for profit corporations but government bodies to facilitate developments in their respective fields. So when a loan which is repayable is converted to shares (no longer repayable), how will the government ever recover the RM875 million loans, since MDV and PMB are not for profit therefore will not likely ever to pay any dividends back to the Ministry of Finance.

So what is the purpose of this loan to shares swap plans of the Ministry of Finance? It is obviously an attempt to artificially reduce government loan exposure, because with this debt to share swap, an outstanding loan will be converted into an investment of the government. It will artificially create a rosier picture of the state of Malaysian government finances. This is a blatant exercise of creative accounting and it is yet another attempt to hide and subvert crucial fiscal data from the rakyat.

PKR calls upon the Ministry of Finance to cease this unusual practice. We also urge the government to reveal how many government loans have been converted to shares in the last ten years, not limited to loans to government bodies but also to private companies. The government will also need to come clean on what return in dividends have they received from such a debt to share swap.

 

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White Paper on ISIS Threat

PM Najib read his white paper on ISIS. Then as Anwar Ibrahim stood to speak, Najib made a quick exit. Typical of Najib, Mr.Read and Run. At least DPM Muhyiddin has the courtesy to sit through the debate.

Why is the ISIS white paper (white paper is not law but a position paper that may lead to a new legislation) being discussed? Will this herald a series of tougher anti democratic laws, which is what Noh Omar is suggesting, to bring back more ISA type laws. Or is this white paper suppose to be a PR whitewash of Najib’s gaff that UMNO should be more like ISIS?

Whatever the story behind this, I am shocked that this Parliament document has graphic pictures of beheading and executions included. It is of extremely poor taste. Is a Parliament document the same level as a sensationalist tabloid paper?

 

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Parliamentary Debates: Corporatisation of Customs & IRB

This morning I took on Ahmad Maslan, Deputy Minister of Finance over the corporatisation of customs.

Deputy Finance Minister Ahmad Maslan (the infamous I forgot six words on 1MDB letter of support fiasco) says the government will corporatise the Customs department next year. I asked him if the Malaysian government intend to pay any commission on collection of duties by this new corporate entity. The Minister avoided the question and started talking about chicken and ikan bilis prices. I had to interject him again and ask him to answer my question. He mumbled that its under consideration. Then he continued talking about chicken and ikan bilis.

At 5.30pm I took on the other Deputy Finance Minister, YB Chua Tee Yong also on the issue of corporatisation. This time the debate was about the corporatisation of Inland Revenue Board.

UMNO MP Kuala Selangor had asked the Deputy Minister to explain how has the corporatisation of LHDN benefited the country. Then, another UMNO MP Pasir Gudang asked the Deputy Minister to elaborate further. All three were under the wrong impression that LHDN has been corporatised. LHDN has never ever been corporatised nor is there any plan to do so in the near future.

YB Chua happily defended the fictional corporatisation saga for about 10 minutes. When he finished I asked him if he had in fact made a gigantic mistake. He was caught out and agreed that LHDN has never been corporatised. I suggested that he retract his corporatisation answers from Hansards.

How can a Minister not know such a basic fact from his own ministry?

 

Parliamentary Replies IV: Bad to Worse

Parliamentary answers from Ministers are getting from bad to worse. Today I got another totally empty reply to my question on the MAS restructuring.

I asked how many mid managers and upper management of MAS will be amongst the 6,000 MAS employees that will lose their jobs. Are the managers also sharing the pain of normal employees? I have been informed by employees in MAS that there are just too many managers in MAS.
I also asked if any directors of MAS will lose their posts.

The answer I got from the Finance Ministry was NOTHING but verbiage on retraining and the need to form a new MAS.

What is wrong with the Minister? Can he not read and understand a simple question? Why give me an answer that avoids my question totally? This is the 2nd totally irrelevant answer I got from the Minister on the MAS restructuring for this Parliament session.

 

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One of my constituent wrote in to ask me to ask about the tapir population in Malaysia. This is a politically non sensitive question and to the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment’s credit, he gave a short but decent enough reply. Much better than the answers to my MAS questions. There are around 1,000 to 1,500 tapirs and the govt have a few programs to help protect the species. If only the Ministry will do more for our tapirs than the borrowed pandas.

 

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TPPA Caucus; Parliamentary Briefing

Yesterday my research officer Gillian gave a briefing to 7 PKR MPs on the Accrual Accounting and Income Tax legislations due for debate this Wednesday and Thursday. She did a great job. Today, we are briefing other Pakatan Rakyat MPs at lunch on the same legislations.

This morning I attended a TPPA Caucus meeting with the MITI Minister. We are looking at a possible special Parliament session in the 1st Quarter of 2015 on TPPA. This means that the agreement could be in its final stages. The Minister said that prior to the special Parliamentary session the cost benefit studies will be made available to us.

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Losing the plot

The infamous Bung Mokhtar laments in Parliament today that Malaysia recently lost to South Korea in Sepak Takraw.

He said that when he asked officials, the officials told him that the Koreans beat us because they practice Tae Kwon Do whereas we do silat! Tae Kwon Do has fast kicks and chops whereas silat is a “slow moving” martial arts. So hence the Koreans can beat us with faster kicks in Sepak Takraw! He concluded that Malaysian sports is becoming “sayur”.

Bung is just Bung but I think he may have a point here that our sports officials are losing the plot.

Gerakan Mansuh Akta Hasutan

Pakatan Rakyat MPs greeted the Mansuh Akta Hasutan NGOs in Parliament today.

YB Khalid Samad attempted to introduce a petition in Dewan Rakyat but the petition was shot down by the Speaker.

A bit of drama ensued earlier when the Speaker refused to allow the representatives of NGOs to make the walk up the hill to Parliament. YB Gooi and I joined the NGOs at the gate to help them sign in.

After the petition was rejected, several MPs called a press conference to push the matter. Members of the NGOs also called a press conference immediately after that.

We are of the view that Najib must honour his promise of abolishing the Sedition Act. He must do so during this UMNO AGM.

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Office Matters

I am in my office today (no Parliament today). Next week we will go into the last week of Parliament for the year. Coming up on Wednesday and Thursday are 2 important legislations; an Income Tax Bill and a Finance Bill to introduce accrual accounting for Federal and state governments.

My research officer Gillian and my interns William and Ying Ning have been working on these legislations for the past 3 weeks, dissecting and analysing the rationales. We also had a few tax expert volunteers come to our office to brief my team.

Last Tuesday, I gave a short briefing to PKR MPs and next Monday my team will give a full briefing to PKR MPs. We will also give an open briefing to PAS and DAP MPs thereafter.

Today will be a normal office day. Papers to sign, calls to make and emails to reply. I also have to send in my wife’s car for repairs. Luckily the repair workshop is next door!

As usual I take my Friday breakfast in ss14 and try to get a street sense of how things are. I sat down with a couple from Ss17 to discuss community issues. I also went to the mini market to buy soup ingredients (lotus and tree root) and asked the shopkeeper and patrons for feedback.

We could expect the unintended consequence of increase in vege prices soon due to the landslides and illegal land crackdown in Cameron highlands.