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Kidex: something is rotten in Denmark

This is a long posting to make up for the lack of postings this week. It has been an extremely busy week for me and today I have another 4 meetings.

Firstly, thank you for your generous offers to help the Phang family (from my last posting). Those interested to help can write directly to Tim, my office manager with your pledges: timothykang.wanli@gmail.com.

My office is also looking to help out a kindergarten in the poor neighbourhood of Desaria. My volunteer Mr. Leong, my interns and I visited the kindergarten 2 days ago. The kindergarten needs several items and I have instructed the interns to prepare a project proposal and an implementation timetable. When the details are ready next week, I will post it up and anyone who wants to help can contact the interns. I am trying to make the interns “own” the project and be responsible and accountable for its delivery too.

Yesterday, I had 5 meetings: one with an academic specialising in poverty eradication, one in the HQ, one with Prasarana (briefing for LRT3- the project involves Glenmarie which is part of my constituency), a Ramadhan event in Ss13 and Surau Al-Huda.

On the LRT accident last week, the mayor of MBPJ has responded to my letter and request and she will pressure Prasarana to do a health and safety townhall briefing as soon as possible. The Prasarana executives that came to see me yesterday are from the LRT3 planning division and as such could not provide any answers on the accident but they took home our message to remind their HQ. YB Hannah also suggested that Prasarana should seriously question and review the main contractor, TRC Synergy Berhad’s health and safety records.

Lastly, I represented Wan Azizah (she had a few Ramadhan related events) in a meeting with the Anti-Kidex NGO from 8.30pm to 11 pm. In the meeting, 4 PKR MPs (William Leong, Hee Loy Sian, Tian Chua and I) listened to the legitimate concerns and complaints of the anti Kidex group. To their credit, the group is very well organised and very well informed.

I related back to them my own bad experience facing the MB on the water issues; from hidden letters kept in his drawer, to secret meetings with BN and Najib which resulted in the infamous MOU. The MOU was drafted by his office then presented to BN to approve (MB taking the initiative to draft but says it is BN who controls the deal, go figure that one!). Till today the infamous MOU has never been released to the public, despite MB’s empty promises to release it when political pressure was high. Eventually he said that an agreement has superseded it, so no need to disclose anymore the MOU. However the new agreement is now not available to us because of OSA!

As such, when the group described the run around given by the MB,  I really “felt their pain” (quoting Bill Clinton)! Such complaints raises deep concerns on the basic issue of governance and transparency in the MB’s administration. Similarly, the Christians have suffered the run around by the MB on the JAIS/MAIS bible raid issue (MB: I have no power, ask the AG, good bye Bible Society, I have no power, ask the Sultan, I have no power, ask the AG again). Some blame the EXCOs and ADUNs for not doing their job or not having the critical qualities or courage to speak up, but a case (albeit weak) can be made in their defence; that Selangor is actually run by the MB.

So it is really alarming that whilst we, the Pakatan Rakyat MPs train our guns at BN at the Federal level on governance issues, face the full federal machinery against us and deal with national legislative challenges, we should find our own home being run without consensus and with substandard governance.   

What was surprising in the meeting was when the anti Kidex group told us that the attitude of the BN Works Minister was so much better than the MB. The Minister had agreed to meet them on the first invitation. The MB has rejected 3 requests for meetings. In their meeting yesterday, the Minister also said that he is willing to revisit the Kidex concession agreement and will also intervene to ask the Selangor MB to release more documents to the anti Kidex group. The Minister may or may not be paying political lip service but at least that is still better than closing the door on the group.

The matter is covered here in this news article:

http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/works-minister-meets-with-kidex-opponents-agrees-to-revisit-highway-deal      

Girl has full chance of recovery

Yesterday we had our service night and I managed to catch up with Mr. Phang, a constituent from PJS 7. About a year ago, YB Hannah and I visited his little daughter who was just diagnosed with leukemia. The husband and wife have 2 other school going kids and also supporting an ageing parent. Back then, my office was still sorting out the accounts of the previous MP and as such we had no funds for her treatment. The mother quit her job as a restaurant worker. The father had taken on a second job and I bumped into him cleaning up the ss15 community hall late one night last year.

When we sorted out the accounts, my office gave the family RM1,000 as welfare aid. Hannah is also giving substantial support to the family too. Then a company came in and topped up another RM1,000 in Giant food voucher, which we give out in stages. He was there yesterday to collect some vouchers. The good news is the girl is doing very well. The father says that she is much more cheerful and she has another 1 year of treatment. If all goes well she may have full recovery.

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Visiting HQ with interns

I was at party HQ today to meet up with an international ratings agency. I also caught up with my boss, Anwar Ibrahim. My interns followed and got to chat with the boss. Earlier, I was with Hannah and the representatives from 18 masjids and suraus in Subang Jaya. Hannah presented to the masjids and suraus her community allocations for Ramadhan. Ramadhan starts this Sunday, so to all my Muslim readers “Selamat berpuasa”. I am gonna try to fast a few days myself. My wife tells me I am getting fat in the waist. Sad but true. Lastly, yesterday I was at Sunway Pyramid to officiate the Skate Malaysia event. So if you are in Sunway, do drop by and
watch (for free) ice skaters from 5 countries competing. It’s on until Sunday evening.

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Ahmad Maslan Not Telling the Whole Story

Below is my press statement regarding Ahmad Maslan’s statement that the IRB fund will not tap into our income tax revenue.

 

Ahmad Maslan as reported by Sin Chew Daily has said that the IRB fund will not tap into the income tax revenue. The minister said the IRB has a commission incentive of 1.5% of all tax collected. The IRB is expected to collect RM 140 billion of tax this year, therefore the IRB will get 1.5% of that which amounts to RM 2.1 billion for its operations this year.

The minister said that once all emoluments, bonuses and operation costs of the LHDN have been paid, only then will the remaining balance be invested in the IRB Fund. Therefore he concludes that indirectly that the amendments proposed by the government will not affect the remaining 98.5% of tax revenue collected.

What the Minister has said is only half of the story.

As I revealed yesterday, in 2011 only RM 255 million has been invested by the IRB. This number is relatively small but with the amendments I am certain that it will increase dramatically. The reason why is because the 1.5% that the Second Minister of Finance used is not a fixed percentage mandated by law. As such there is no guarantee that this sum will not increase to 3% or 5% in 2016. There is no legal limit to what percentage commission the IRB will receive.

However that is just a subsidiary issue, the main issue is really about Section 23 of the current IRB law. Section 23 of the current IRB law allows the Minister to increase the size of the funds by many means. The IRB fund may take on debts, may borrow, or it may receive grants from the Finance Minister.

In other words even if the 1.5% used by the minister is maintained, (this is not a legal guarantee) the Finance Minister has legal powers to expand the size of the IRB Funds by way of grants.

When we combine this legal fact with the proposed amendments, in particular Section 27 A and Section 28 (1) (c) (f), what we have is complete and unfettered powers of the Minister to create the next 1MDB.

Despite the best explanations given by the Second Finance Minister, the proposed amendments does not run from our original contention that these amendments are highly controversial and possibly unconstitutional.

The Second Finance Minister has also not provided an answers that contains any legal guarantee and safeguards to the rakyat. What he has described is the current practise of LHDN. It is not a guarantee that abuses may not happen if the amendments are passed.

I understand that the debate today on this bill has been pushed back to the next session in October 7th 2014. They won’t push back a bill so far back unless they sense that the goose is cooked and that they have to back pedal to avoid the wrath of the people. I hope the Minister will take this short reprieve to quickly repair these amendments by taking into consideration the issues that I have raised so that it may be more acceptable for Parliament’s consideration in the next session. This is a sweet victory for the rakyat and Keadilan will continue to be vigilant in Parliament.

 

Ahmad Maslan seperti yang dilaporkan oleh Sin Chew Daily telah berkata bahawa dana LHDN tidak akan meneroka ke dalam hasil cukai pendapatan. Menteri itu berkata LHDN mempunyai insentif komisen sebanyak 1.5% daripada semua cukai yang dipungut. LHDN dijangka mengutip RM 140 bilion cukai tahun ini, oleh itu 1.5% daripada kutipan tersebut adalah sebanyak RM 2.1 bilion untuk operasi tahun ini.

Menteri berkata, sebaik sahaja semua emolumen, bonus dan kos operasi LHDN telah dibayar, barulah baki 1.5% itu akan dilaburkan dalam Dana LHDN. Oleh itu beliau membuat kesimpulan secara tidak langsung bahawa pindaan-pindaan yang dicadangkan oleh kerajaan tidak akan menjejaskan baki 98.5% daripada hasil cukai yang dikutip.

Apa yang dikatakan oleh Menteri adalah hanya separuh cerita.

Seperti yang saya mendedahkan semalam, pada tahun 2011 hanya RM 255 juta telah dilaburkan oleh LHDN. Nombor ini adalah agak kecil tetapi dengan pindaan-pindaan ini saya pasti ia akan meningkat secara mendadak. Sebabnya adalah kerana 1.5% yang digunakan oleh Menteri Kewangan Kedua bukan peratusan tetap yang diberi mandat oleh undang-undang. Oleh itu tidak ada JAMINAN bahawa jumlah ini tidak akan meningkat kepada 3% atau 5% pada 2016. Tiada had undang-undang untuk komisen peratusan LHDN akan menerima.

Walau bagaimanapun ini hanya isu sambilan, isu utama adalah Seksyen 23 undang-undang LHDN semasa. Seksyen 23 undang-undang LHDN semasa membenarkan Menteri untuk meningkatkan saiz dana itu dengan banyak cara. Dana LHDN boleh mengambil hutang, boleh meminjam, atau ia boleh menerima geran daripada Menteri Kewangan.

Dalam erti kata lain walaupun 1.5% yang digunakan oleh menteri dikekalkan, (ini bukan satu jaminan undang-undang) Menteri Kewangan mempunyai kuasa undang-undang untuk mengembangkan saiz Dana LHDN melalui pemberian.

Apabila kami menggabungkan fakta undang-undang ini dengan pindaan yang dicadangkan itu, dalam Seksyen terutamanya 27 A dan Seksyen 28 (1) (c) (f), apa yang kita ada adalah kuasa yang lengkap dan tidak terhad kepada Menteri untuk mewujudkan 1MDB yang baru.

Walaupun penjelasan diberikan oleh Menteri Kewangan Kedua, pindaan-pindaan yang dicadangkan tidak lari dari perdebatan asal kita bahawa pindaan ini adalah sangat kontroversi dan mungkin bercanggah dengan perlembagaan.

Menteri Kewangan Kedua juga tidak menyediakan jawapan yang mengandungi apa-apa jaminan undang-undang dan perlindungan untuk rakyat. Apa yang telah diterangkan adalah amalan semasa LHDN. Ia bukan satu jaminan penyelewengan mungkin berlaku jika pindaan tersebut diluluskan.

Saya faham bahawa perbahasaan hari ini untuk bil ini telah ditolak ke sesi yang akan datang pada 7 Oktober 2014. Mereka tidak akan menolak bil ini ke sesi yang akan datang kecuali mereka rasa “the goose is cooked” dan bahawa mereka perlu menarik balik untuk mengelakkan murka rakyat. Saya harap Menteri akan mengambil penangguhan singkat ini untuk segera membaiki pindaan-pindaan ini dan mengambil kira isu-isu yang saya telah dibangkitkan supaya ia mungkin lebih diterima untuk pertimbangan Parlimen dalam sesi yang akan datang. Ini adalah kemenangan manis untuk rakyat dan Keadilan akan terus berwaspada di Parlimen.

News on IRB Investment Panel

My press statement on the Investment Panel in the IRB yesterday made the front pages of The Sun and The Financial Daily. Other than the local press, I have also been answering calls and emails from AWSJ, Financial Times and Reuters. I am also happy to note that prominent local economists are also raising similar concerns (see pics). Stay tuned to developing stories on this. I will continue to fight this legislation as an MP. I have also started speaking to BN Backbencher to oppose this bill. For once I hope these BN MPs will realise that this bill will infact hurt all MPs and their own Ministers. I will be issuing another press statement on Monday.

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