Thursday, 20 December 2018

HONG KONG BASED URBAN PLANNING EXPERT TELLS PENANG NOT COPYCAT HONG KONG

Ha Ha!!! Now didn't I say so in my blog post of 16th November 2018???

"WHAT HAS PENANG LEARNED FROM HONG KONG, Y.B. CHOW KON YEOW?"

Penang Chief Minister, Y.B. Chow Kon Yeow may choose to ignore IT.Scheiss and other Malaysians in Penang but will he listen to this expert from Hong Kong Alain Chiaradia who advises Penang with facts and figures why it should not try to be a cut and paste of Hong Kong?

However, from my experience of Malaysians, many of us are very good at cutting and pasting and of not using our brains. I suppose that's due to our rote learning education system which has been going downhill into the abyss since I left school.

It's no rocket science to come to such a conclusion. All it requires is to study the historical materialist differences between Penang and Hong Kong to understand the materialist (real world) differences between the two island cities with regard to public and private transport to be able to derive a viable solution to real-world problems in Penang.

Some years back, a well-known Malaysian sociologist and NGO activist with a PhD, argued that Penang should not install an LRT network on elevated tracks but instead should install trams running at grade on the roads.

Sure, Penang had trams running at grade (at road level) circa in the1890s but did it not occur to this sociologist and NGO activist that Penang had few cars on the roads back then which allowed those trams to run relatively unimpeded along relatively clear roads?

Did it not occur to this sociologist and NGO activist that trams would not be able to move freely at grade along Penang's roads which are already clogged with traffic today and moreover that they would only add to traffic congestion on Penang's roads already clogged with cars, buses, lorries and motorcycles?

Free Malaysia Today article follows. 



We are not a model, HK expert tells why Penang shouldn't copy it


Wednesday, 19 December 2018

WHAT A BIG MESS IN MALAYSIAN POLITICS RIGHT NOW!

When the Pakatan Harapan (Pact of Hope) won the federal government in Malaysia's 14th general elections on 9 May 2018, members and supporters of the four-party pack (Amanah, DAP, PKR and Pribumi) were ecstatic and looked forward to the much awaited reforms which would save Malaysia from the effects of two or more decades of alleged kleptocracy under Barisan Nasional rule, including the supposed dire effects on Malaysia's economy due to the 1MDB issue.

The Barisan Nasional (National Front) coalition of 13 parties (UMNO, MCA, MIC, Gerakan, PPP and other in Sabah and Sarawak) broke up, with the Sarawak and Sabah members of the coalition leaving, followed by PPP and Gerakan, leaving a rump of three members - UMNO with 76 seats, MIC with 2 seats and MCA with 1 seat, with another opposition party PAS with 18 seats.

Recently, Prime Minister Tun Dr. Mahathir said he was open to some UMNO members of parliament first resigning from UMNO to become independents, after which they can apply to join his party Pribumi and will be duly considered for suitability.

They can also choose to join other Pakatan Harapan components parties which will accept them.


(Graphic - source Sin Chew Daily)

Lim Kit Siang, DAP advisor and a prominent leading member from the party's founding also welcome former UMNO members to join the Pakatan Harapan. 

By their defection, apart from strengthening Pakatan's reach into the crucial predominantly ethnic Malay heartlands in rural and semi-rural areas, it is also believed the Pakatan Harapan hopes to gain a two-thirds majority in parliament, thus allowing it to amend Malaysia's constitution and also that it would be able to gain a majority in the still Barisan Nasional dominated Senate, which right now can refuse to approve bills passed by the Pakatan Harapan dominated parliament.

A shocker came on 18th December 2018 when PKR President, Anwar Ibrahim's daughter Nurul Izzah announced her resignation as PKR vice-president, as Penang PKR head and relinquished her various roles in the federal government, to focus her duties as PKR member of parliament for Permatang Pauh.

Heck! News and speculation over this has gone regional, if not international.


Nurul did not give clear reasons for her shock resignation from leading PKR party positions, though her tweets and postings on social media, speculation has it that it has to do with her unhappiness with the direction PKR and more broadly, Pakatan Harapan is going in. 

The next day (19th December 2018), various media were abuzz with reports that Nurul, Rafizi Ramil, her fellow prominent PKR party comrade and former PKR member of parliament for Pandan and tad-a-a--a-a-a-a - Khairi Jamaluddin, UMNO member of parliament for Rembau were photographed having lunch together at the Alexis Bistro in Bangsar Shopping Centre in Kuala Lumpur.

This led to speculation that the threesome were discussing the formation of a new political party but Rafizi has denied that.

So Malaysians are left guessing what the trio from both sides of the political divide were up to apart from having lunch together.

Meanwhile, earlier on 18 December 2018, UMNO president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamid, who is facing a number of graft charges in court, stepped aside and handed over his duties to UMNO deputy-president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan.

However, not all members and leaders of the respective Pakatan Harapan component parties welcome this move and especially leading DAP politicians have spoken up against it.

For instance, today - 20th December 2018, The Star reported that Ramkarpal Singh, DAP member of parliament for Bukit Gelugor, Penang, warned that the Pakatan Harapan government is falling apart, due to the issue of possible acceptance of up to 40 UMNO members of parliament who cross over.

Pakatan government is failing, DAP MP warns

Published 3 hours ago on 20 December 2018

By Justin Ong

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 20 ― Public meetings of PKR and Umno leaders are distracting attention from Pakatan Harapan's possible absorption of nearly 40 lawmakers from the Malay nationalist party, Ramkarpal Singh asserted today.

The Bukit Gelugor MP urged both the public and the ruling coalition not to let themselves be drawn by the public meetings involving Nurul Izzah Anwar, Rafizi Ramli and Khairy Jamaluddin, calling these "wayang" that pulled focus away from impending disaster.

"Well, let me remind you, what's going on is dire. What's going on is a new PH government failing," he said in a statement today.

Ramkarpal said he was being plied with questions on rumours that PH parties were contemplating the entry of Umno lawmakers who have left or will leave the party as well as the ruling coalition's stewardship of the country.

The Malay nationalist party has lost 17 federal lawmakers since the general election and some, such as former minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed and former Puteri Umno chief Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin, have since found their way into PH component PPBM.

The issue has split the ruling coalition in two, with DAP and PKR resistant to the idea, PPBM open to accepting the former Umno leaders, and Amanah saying it would consider this.

Ramkarpal stressed today that taking in the Umno representatives would be to betray the will of voters from the general election, asserting that he was recently asked by a constituent why the coalition was even thinking of taking in the defectors.

"He was absolutely right. Why? Because we are no different from Umno if we can consider accepting the very people we voted out, all of whom so far are from Umno, into PH.

"It is like saying to the Rakyat, 'Thank you for your vote but to hell with you. I have my own plans,'" he said.

Some including PH component leaders have expressed concern that Umno lawmakers were seeking to join PH via PPBM to escape possible prosecution for corrupt practices they may have indulged in while Barisan Nasional had been in power.

Senior BN figures such as former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, former minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor, and former Sabah chief minister Tan Sri Musa Aman, among others, have all been charged with corruption.

PPBM president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin previously gave his assurance that entry into his party would not prevent these lawmakers from being prosecuted if they were previously corrupt.

There are only 37 Umno MPs left now, down from the 54 after the May 9 polls.


In a more detailed opinion piece in the English language section of Sin Chew Daily on 18th December 2018, the daily speculates:-

Now, who's breaking up PH?

By LIM SUE GOAN

Sin Chew Daily
The mass exodus in Umno has spawned the conspiracy theory of an imminent ouster of PM Mahathir.

I have tried to figure out why Umno has been divided into three different sects and why Mahathir's ouster to pave the way for Anwar Ibrahim to take over when the parliament sitting resumes next March has been implicated.

A group of Umno leaders have been meeting over their court cases and possible dissolution of Umno. Those against Mahathir argue that the PM is not someone you can negotiate and they are therefore more inclined to support Anwar's early ascension to power because they believe Anwar will keep Umno and help them with their cases.

As for those without court cases or are unhappy with Anwar, they are more likely to continue supporting Mahathir as PM because they don't trust Anwar.

The meeting of these Umno leaders ended with no conclusion, and soon afterward we have all kinds of rumors.

It has been reported that Umno president Ahmad Zahid is more towards supporting Anwar, and may have instructed Padang Rengas MP Mohamed Nazri to talk divisional leaders into supporting the PKR president. and to form a coalition government with PKR and DAP.

The move has nevertheless backfired among the grassroots.

Larut MP Hamzah Zainudin is strongly against Anwar. He claims that 36 BN reps have signed a letter in support of Mahathir.

It is also said that Hishammuddin called a secret meeting last week that included among others Hamzah and PKR's deputy president Azmin Ali, who was accused of trying to stop Anwar from becoming PM during the recent party elections.

If Pakatan Harapan remains disunited, it will not be able to focus on dealing with Umno, allowing the latter to take advantage of the chaos to gain a backdoor access to federal administration.
PH will become BN 2.0 if these people were to be allowed to join the coalition and have their court cases forgiven. This will deal a lethal blow to the country's judiciary.

Why are PH component parties still willing to accept worthless Umno politicians? Very simple: they want to strengthen themselves by absorbing Umno MPs and Malay votes will go to them if Umno is eventually dissolved.

Doing so will also ensure that PH secures a two-thirds majority advantage in Dewan Rakyat so that the Constitution can be amended and their political agendas fulfilled.

Also, bills tabled by the PH government will no longer risk rejection in Dewan Negara following the side-changing of Umno senators.

If these Umno reps are not allowed to join PH, they may eventually defect to PAS, making the Islamic party all the harder to fight in future.

That said, ship-jumping will have very severe impact on the country, as the acceptance of political frogs will invariably trigger renewed political tug-of-war within PH in addition to betraying the public mandate.

Can Lim Kit Siang sit alongside Abdul Rahim Thamby Chik, who has applied to join PPBM and who he said was the culprit for his son Guan Eng's imprisonment for helping an underage Malay girl? Will Anwar pardon someone who in 2011 wickedly 
distributed his fake sex video clip?

We can judge from their recent public comments that indeed some PH leaders' stand has already softened. They are more willing now to accept these frogs on the grounds of political interest.

As a matter of fact, the PH leadership's position has swung away from that of ordinary citizens who are frustrated that corrupt Umno leaders can be whitewashed and allowed to join PH. This has contravened the coalition's pledge of battling corruption and upholding clean governance.

Unfortunately, the PH leadership appears to have turned a deaf ear to the rakyat's views dutifully reflected by the elected reps from DAP and PKR.

If Umno eventually goes bust and the opposition is significantly weakened, who are there to oversee the government?

Lest we forget, BN was so powerful in the past and could deliberately amend the Constitution because we had a weak opposition.

PH leaders are humans and are thus susceptible to temptation. The country's reforms will never materialize in the absence of a healthy checks and balances mechanism.

New Malaysia must reject immoral political deals. The new government must draw a line between itself and treacherous politicians.

Some PH leaders seem to have lost their directions as they are engrossed with the game of engaging Umno reps, putting behind their priority of revitalizing the country's economy.

PH will have nowhere to go but down if it steers off course and forgoes its principles.


All this politischeiss is happening when the Pakatan Harapan government should be focussing its efforts and energies on addressing Malaysia's economic and other issues affecting the Malaysian people, instead of politicking amongst themselves.

Then again, who knows what Mahathir has up his sleeve for Malaysia, should Pakatan Harapan manage to gain a two-thirds majority in parliament with the help of its former rivals and be able to amend the constitution.

We can only stay tuned and watch what results from all these political wheelings and dealings.

Malaysian politics is a more than world-class reality soap opera (reality show and soap opera) which can beat the BBC's Yes Prime Minister TV series hands down.

Yours truly

POLITISCHEISS


Saturday, 15 December 2018

MALAYSIA'S 1,049 BILLION RINGGIT WHALE?

Postings and forwardings gone viral on social media both before and after Malaysia's 14th General Elections on 9 May 2018 created the perception in many people's minds that all of Malaysia's financial and economic troubles are due to RM42.26 billion debt owed by the 1MDB sovereign wealth fund owned 100% by the Malaysian government .

However, according to this infographic by The Edge Markets article of 25 May 2018 based upon a breakdown of Malaysia's over RM1 trillion national debt provided by the Finance Ministry, 1MDB contributes only RM38 billion to Malaysia's national debt, whilst federal government debt is worth RM686.6 billion, plus debt due to other government companies, mostly infrastructure-related, whilst the rest are attributed to government guarantees and commitment to lease payments for public-private partnership (PPP) projects.



So that RM38 billion debt owed by 1MDB is around 3.8% of Malaysia's RM1.087 trillion national debt and financial commitments, and is small change compared to Malaysia's total national debt.

Also, now that former Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng has been arrested on allegations related to 1MDB and the US Department of Justice (DoJ) has charged his former colleague Tim Leissner and Jho Low over alleged wrongdoing related to 1MDB, doesn't Malaysia have legal grounds to not repay whatever debt 1MDB owes Goldman Sachs or a substantial part of that debt?

The Star wrote of 2 November 2018:-

"Leissner pleaded guilty to conspiring to launder money and to violating anti-bribery laws. He has been ordered to forfeit $43.7mil (RM182.27mil) as a result of his crimes."

Heck! RM182.27 million is small change compared to RM38 billion, let alone RM1 trillion.

And:-

"In 2016, the DOJ had reportedly recovered over US$1bil (RM4.17bil – current conversion rate) that was allegedly stolen and sought the forfeiture of property including a Bombardier private jet, a Manhattan penthouse, a Beverly Hills mansion and paintings by Vincent Van Gogh and Claude Monet."

OK! RM4.17 billion is more substantial but still is just 10.97% of RM38 billion. 


The EDGE Markets of 18 January 2018, gives us a breakdown of government guaranteed loans.


Yet the public perception created by the politicians, coffee shop and tea shop politicians, bar politicians, social media politicians, the mainstream media and the alternative media all paint the 1MDB issue as the scapegoat for all of Malaysia's current financial woes, when whilst the RM38 billion owned by 1MDB and the issue itself is significant, it's not big enough to almost bankrupt Malaysia.

However, I expect that the chattering classes will continue to chatter on social media, coffee and tea shops, in bars and so forth about how 1MDB's debt owed is "solely responsible" for Malaysia's current financial woes, even though the anti-ICERD rally on 8 December 2018, the riots at the temple in Seafield in late November, the resignations of members of parliament from the UMNO party and the possibility that they will later join Prime Minister Mahathir's Pribumi party have somewhat overshadowed 1MDB in public discourse lately.

Anyway, as I've oftentimes said - Malaysian politics is full of scheiss. 

Meanwhile, for a refreshing change from politisceiss, let's take a look at what the Gilets Jaunes (Yellow Vests) movement in France is doing.

15 décembre : Edition spéciale RT France. Suivez en direct les manifestations des Gilets jaunes

LIVE: Yellow Vests march under 'Macron resign' motto, huge numbers of police deployed

Down with that neo-liberal globalist Macron !

Yours trully

POLITISCHEISS

Wednesday, 12 December 2018

CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS WORLD BANK CRAP?



Malaysia on track to high-income status, says World Bank
Bernama - December 12, 2018 2:35 PM

KUALA LUMPUR: The World Bank today said Malaysia is well on its way to becoming a high-income and developed country.

Vice-president for East Asia and Pacific, Victoria Kwakwa, in a statement, said Malaysia's economy was well diversified and stood on solid foundations, which were primed to take the country to the next level.

"We welcome the government's efforts as part of this process to strengthen institutions, develop human capital and protect the vulnerable in the society. The World Bank Group stands ready to support Malaysia during this important transition process," she said.

Kwakwa concluded an official four-day visit to Malaysia on Monday during which she met Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng and Bank Negara Malaysia governor Nor Shamsiah Mohd Yunus.

The World Bank senior official and her delegation also met Deputy Yang Di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah with whom they exchanged ideas about development trends in Malaysia and the wider region.

These trends include the rising significance of the digital economy and skills development for future competitiveness in all countries in the region.


My questions:

"....primed to take the country to the next level."

By when, 100 years time?

Also,what does "the next level" mean?

And,

"....with whom they exchanged ideas about development trends in Malaysia and the wider region."

"These trends include the rising significance of the digital economy and skills development for future competitiveness in all countries in the region."

How far has Malaysia progressed in our development of the "digital economy" and in "skills development for future competitiveness" after the over 20 years in which these terms have been bandied around by national decision makers?

Last night, I was chatting with a friend who had worked and developed training programmes at a Malaysian government vocational training centre back in the 1990s and he was disappointed at the state which vocational training in Malaysia had descended to today, especially with the privatisation of vocational training.

At the same time, Malaysia has allowed for the mushrooming of whole slew of private universities and university colleges and we now read and hear much about graduate unemployment, whilst graduates complain about their inability to repay their PTPTN study loans due to starting income levels which have not risen much - an issue which has been much in the news recently.

Does "rising significance of the digital economy" include people going around with faces buried in their smartphone screens, their competency and addiction to social media?

I know people who know access to social media on their smartphones and tablets backward but can't even check their e-mail, do a Google search or write a letter with a word processor on their PC. So what rubbish is Ms Kwakwa talking?

Anyway, knowing how send and receive e-mail, to use a word processor (such as Microsoft Word), a spreadsheet (such as Microsoft Excel) and presentation graphics (such as Microsoft Power Point) on a PC, as well as photocopying, basic printing, scanning and filing away of documents and other content on the PC are all latter day clerical and secretarial skills, similar to typing and filing skills back when there were no desktop PC's smartphones or tablets.

What is the World Bank?

According to its website, the World Bank is an international development organisation of over 189 member countries, with its headquarters in Washington DC.

"With 189 member countries, staff from more than 170 countries, and offices in over 130 locations, the World Bank Group is a unique global partnership: five institutions working for sustainable solutions that reduce poverty and build shared prosperity in developing countries."


Wikipedia provides more information about the World Bank's history:-

"The World Bank was created at the 1944 Bretton Woods Conference along with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The president of the World Bank is, traditionally, an American The World Bank and the IMF are both based in Washington, D.C., and work closely with each other."

"Although many countries were represented at the Bretton Woods Conference, the United States and United Kingdom were the most powerful in attendance and dominated the negotiations. The intention behind the founding of the World Bank was to provide temporary loans to low-income countries which were unable to obtain loans commercially. The Bank may also make loans and demand policy reforms from recipients."

"The first country to receive a World Bank loan was France. The Bank's president at the time, John McCloy, chose France over two other applicants, Poland and Chile. The loan was for US$250 million, half the amount requested, and it came with strict conditions. France had to agree to produce a balanced budget and give priority of debt repayment to the World Bank over other governments. World Bank staff closely monitored the use of the funds to ensure that the French government met the conditions. In addition, before the loan was approved, the United States State Department told the French government that its members associated with the Communist Party would first have to be removed. The French government complied and removed the Communist coalition government - the so-called tripartite. Within hours, the loan to France was approved."

"When the Marshall Plan went into effect in 1947, many European countries began receiving aid from other sources. Faced with this competition, the World Bank shifted its focus to non-European countries. Until 1968, its loans were earmarked for the construction of infrastructure works, such as seaports, highway systems, and power plants, that would generate enough income to enable a borrower country to repay the loan. In 1960, the International Development Association was formed (as opposed to a UN fund named SUNFED), providing soft loans to developing countries."


So it is pretty clear that the World Bank was established after World War II to provide funds for post-war redevelopment of countries in Europe which had been devastated by the war and it's scope was later extended to countries outside Europe.

The World Bank can and has also dictated terms to recipients of its loans, as we can see with its first loan recipient - i.e. France, and based purely on political grounds.

As for the Bretton Woods Conference where the World Bank was established:-

"The Bretton Woods Conference, formally known as the United Nations Monetary and Financial Conference, was the gathering of 730 delegates from all 44 Allied nations at the Mount Washington Hotel, situated in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, United States, to regulate the international monetary and financial order after the conclusion of World War II."

"The conference was held from July 1–22, 1944. Agreements were signed that, after legislative ratification by member governments, established the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)."


"... to regulate the international monetary and financial order"

Yes. They give you a loan to a country and then dictate to that country how it should be run.

Whilst the Washington DC based World Bank is in principle a multi-lateral, membership-based organisation of countries around the world, it in practice, western imperialist countries have the biggest say in the World Bank, which dictates the politics of its Third World member countries through pressure of finance capital.

This is just a more "refined" form of old-style colonialism, or what is called neo-colonialism, in which these western imperialist powers control Third World member countries - their neo-colonies through the dictates of finance capital to force them to implement neo-liberal economic policies.

I have avoided using the politically correct term "emerging markets" to refer to Third World countries and the more palatable sounding term "globalisation", which in reality is imperialism.

Remember, that Anwar Ibrahim was a good friend of neo-conservative Paul Wolfowitz, one of those who supported the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq and Anwar supported Paul Wolfowitz chairmanship of the World Bank.

"Indeed, Wolfowitz's desire to overthrow Saddam Hussein's regime and replace it with a democratic government in the mold of a Western power was shared by the Washington foreign-policy establishment. We tend to forget, for instance, that President Bill Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act , which made regime change U.S. policy. In Wolfowitz's eyes, the Bush administration was merely implementing a policy that a Democratic president signed into law five years prior."

"What grates on many realists is that Wolfowitz, twelve years removed from the U.S. government and over fourteen years since Operation Iraqi Freedom commenced, still refuses to admit that the Iraq War was a mistake. Wolfowitz's belief has been stubbornly consistent: Saddam, a bloody tyrant, a war criminal and a human-rights abuser—who gassed the Kurds, gassed the Iranians, invaded two of his neighbors and took pot-shots at U.S. planes patrolling no-fly zones—deserved to be taken down. If bad decisions were made, they occurred during the execution of the strategy"

"Wolfowitz's long interview today with Politico's Susan B. Glasser demonstrates that he indeed hasn't learned many lessons from the past fifteen years."

"He suggests that the Trump administration could use its Tomahawk missile attack on an Assad regime air base as a jumping-off point to initiate a Dayton-like peace agreement to end the civil war."


And here is the full transcript of the interview with Wolfowitz:-

The Neo-conservatives are liberal interventionists who want U.S. imperialism to use its military force to impose "democracy". "human rights", "free speech", "free press" and so forth on other countries, including through military invasion to topple governments, irrespective of local conditions and circumstances faced by those governments.

Many of Malaysia's liberal, liberal-left or social democratic NGOs and political parties have accepted funds from various western imperialist funding organisations such as the United States-based, very much governmental "non-governmental" organisations such as the National Endowment for Democracy and non-profit organisations such as the International Republican Institute, the National Democratic Institute, Freedom House and so forth, as well a non-profits associated or funded by the likes of George Soros.

Many of them hate me for highlighting this video:-

"IRI chief admits helping M'sian opposition since 2002"

Screw them!

This is not to deny that there are no genuine domestic grievances in Malaysia. There certainly are, and such foreign imperialist funding organisations exploit these domestic grievances to achieve their own imperialist geo-political and economic agenda in various countries, including Malaysia.

This is how modern imperialism works and we have many useful idiots here who either innocently fall for it or knowingly go along with it.

Yours trully

POLITISCHEISS

Friday, 16 November 2018

WHAT HAS PENANG LEARNED FROM HONG KONG, Y.B. CHOW KON YEOW?

Free Malaysia Today of 16th November 2018 reported Penang Chief Minister (Menteri Besar) Y.B. Chow Kon Yeow saying that if Hong Kong had listened to the advice of Penang's pro-environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs), Hong Kong would  not be developed as it is today still be backward, and that Penang state would learn nothing if the state government which he leads listens to those NGOs - thus implying that Penang would not develop as fast if it listed to the advice of those NGOs.



Chow also cited that Hong Kong had suffered a landslide back in the 1970s in which resulted in the death of a hundred people but Hong Kong learned from their mistakes and come up with solutions to prevent future landslides.

Chow also referred to the landslide at the construction of the elevated Paya Terubong "paired road", resulting the death and injury of several people.

This recent comes almost a year after the 21 October 2018 landslide at the Granito housing construction site in Tanjung Bungah, which took 11 lives, mostly migrants workers.

I have three questions for The Right Honourable (Y.B.) Chow Kon Yeow.

1. You say that Hong Kong learned from its landslide tragedy in the 1970s, with studies which have developed means to avoid future landslides.

     My question then is what has Penang learned from Hong Kong's studies and measures which could have been applied to hill slope development in Penang, taking into consideration similarities and differences between hill slope geology, soil structure, soil stability, rainfall volume, risk from earthquakes and so forth of hills in Penang
      and Hong Kong?

2.  Are more and more high-rise buildings and construction in Penang, including on its hill slopes your sole measure of "development". What about development of more inventive and innovative industries which produce higher quality, higher value-added products which can bring more revenue to Penang's economy and provide more jobs,
      what about more affordable housing for Penang's people, what about quality of life issues for Penang residents?

3.  Whose interest are you serving, Y.B. Chow - those of the developers or those of Penang's people?

Free Malaysia Today article follows below:-

Chow: If HK had to take advice of Penang NGOs, it would still be backward

Predeep Nambiar - November 16, 2018 11:38 PM

GEORGE TOWN: Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow (DAP-Padang Kota) today said the state would learn nothing if it took advice from parties urging it to stop all development projects following the recent landslide.

Taking the case of Hong Kong, which had a major landslide in the 1970s which killed nearly a hundred, he said the island learnt from its mistakes and decided to move on to come up with solutions.

Chow said as a result, they have become resilient in matters of hill development and have formed a geotechnical department much envied by others in the world.

He said although the Bukit Kukus incident was regrettable, there is a lesson to be learnt by all and the government is doing all it can to prevent a repeat.

Chow said the state was committed to improving worksite safety and compliance and would commit to taking the Hong Kong path.

"If NGOs like those in Penang were in Hong Kong, asking for development to be stopped over a landslide, Hong Kong would not be as developed as it is today.

"I can imagine them saying 'okay incidents happened, stop everything; state must stop all development projects'.

"The other option is to admit the faults and recognise the need to improve and move on.

"Now you see Hong Kong building on the steepest slopes without much fuss," he said during his winding-up speech at the state assembly today.

Last month, nine workers died in a landslide at a road construction site on a hill slope in Bukit Kukus.

The official cause of the incident is yet to be known pending a state and police investigation. Experts claim proper hill-cutting procedures were not adhered to.

'NGOs plucking figures from sky

Chow also addressed another thorny topic involving Penang's projected population in the next 10 to 20 years in the Penang Transport Master Plan (PTMP).

The Penang Forum has claimed the estimates were too high and unrealistic to justify an expensive transport system, such as the Light Rail Transit (LRT).

An expert had reportedly said the population density for the reclaimed islands, at 21,636 people per square km was unrealistic, which was higher than London city centre (11,522 people per square km), Paris (20,909 people per square km) and Hong Kong (17,000 people per square km).

Chow said the population projection by the project delivery partner of the PTMP was based on data from the Statistics Department.

He said official numbers show Penang had a population of 1.7 million last year and this is expected to grow by 25,000 to 30,000, or at a 1.5-2.5% rate each year in coming years.

Chow said by the time the PTMP projects are completed, around 2030, Penang would have "at least 2.3 million people", as revealed by the country's statisticians.

"NGOs sometimes pluck figures from the sky, without referring to official statistics. The PTMP population estimate was based on the number available when the projection was made, which was in 2015.

"Based on population growth data and the current population, by 2030, we will have 2.2 to 2.4 million people.

"So how are we going to cater to that many people? Can the island hold these many people?" he asked, saying this was where the reclaimed islands came into play.

Chow said with the reclaimed islands, Penang will have more space to house its extra population.

"Maybe the NGOs are not responsible for the future 2.4 million Penangites but as the government, we need to take care of the future population.

"The PTMP will spur growth and create jobs from an excellent public transport system and other measures," he said.

PTMP will see a series of highways and transit lines built in the state in the next 20 to 30 years at a cost of RM46 billion.

It would be financed through the creation of three artificial islands on the south of Penang Island, which would later be auctioned off to interested parties. However, the plan has yet to be approved by environmental regulators.

The Penang government is eager to kickstart two of its main projects, the Pan Island Link 1 highway (costing RM8 billion) and the Komtar-Bayan Lepas LRT line (RM8.4 billion).

The state has requested for a soft loan of RM1 billion to kick-start both the projects so they can proceed concurrently, without having to wait for the islands to be reclaimed.


Yours trully


Politischeiss

Thursday, 1 November 2018

AT LONG LAST, THE US DoJ IS MOVING ON 1MDB, AND WITH CRIMINAL CHARGES

It's been well over two years now, since then U.S. Attorney General, Loretta A. Lynch announced on 20 July, 2016, the filing of civil forfeiture complaints seeking the forfeiture and recovery of more than US$1 billion in assets associated with an international conspiracy to launder funds misappropriated from a Malaysian sovereign wealth fund (a.k.a. 1MDB), the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) announced in a statement on its website that day.


After that, nothing much happened in this regard for a long time. Meanwhile, Donald Trump won the U.S. presidency in November 2016, Loretta Lynch is no longer U.S. Attorney General, whilst there was a revolving door of U.S. Attorneys General under President Trump and reports that further action on the DoJ's civil forfeiture suit would be suspended so as not to jeopardise criminal proceedings which would take place but still, nothing much happened after that - until on 1 November 2018, when  The Malay Mail reported:-

Report: US to announce charges against former Goldman bankers for 1MDB

Published 48 minutes ago on 01 November 2018



WASHINGTON, Nov 1 — The US Justice Department is set to announce multiple criminal charges today against two former Goldman Sachs bankers and Malaysian financier Jho Low tied to the Malaysia 1MDB sovereign wealth fund scandal, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Citing sources familiar with the case, the Wall Street Journal said Tim Leissner, former partner for Goldman Sachs in Asia, is expected to plead guilty to conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and will forfeit US$43.7 million (RM182.5 million).

Roger Ng, the other former Goldman banker, was arrested in Malaysia and Jho Low, last seen in China, will be indicted. He was last seen in China.

Goldman, which generated about US$600 million in fees for its work with 1MDB, has in the past repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and said it is fully cooperating with authorities. — Reuters


Followed shortly after by:-

Report: US to announce charges against former Goldman bankers for 1MDB

Published 45 minutes ago on 01 November 2018

WASHINGTON, Nov 1 — The US Justice Department is set to announce multiple criminal charges today against two former Goldman Sachs bankers and Malaysian financier Jho Low tied to the Malaysia 1MDB sovereign wealth fund scandal, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Citing sources familiar with the case, the Wall Street Journal said Tim Leissner, former partner for Goldman Sachs in Asia, is expected to plead guilty to conspiracy to launder money and conspiracy to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and will forfeit US$43.7 million (RM182.5 million).

Roger Ng, the other former Goldman banker, was arrested in Malaysia and Jho Low, last seen in China, will be indicted. He was last seen in China.

Goldman, which generated about US$600 million in fees for its work with 1MDB, has in the past repeatedly denied any wrongdoing and said it is fully cooperating with authorities. — Reuters


Followed by:-

US unveils indictments in 1MDB scandal

Published 35 minutes ago on 01 November 2018

NEW YORK, Nov 1 — US officials unveiled criminal indictments today against a former official with scandal-plagued Malaysian sovereign wealth fund 1MDB and a former Goldman Sachs banker involved in an elaborate alleged bribery scheme.

The US Justice Department arrested former Goldman Sachs banker Roger Ng Chong Hwa in Malaysia today, while the former 1MDB official, Low Taek Jho, remains at large, officials said in a press release.

Another ex-Goldman official, Tim Leissner, pleaded guilty and agreed to pay US$43.7 million (RM182.5 million) in ill-gotten gains.

The 1MDB scandal has roiled politics in Malaysia, leading to criminal charges against former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. — AFP


Followed by a long and more detailed article:-

US DoJ confirms Jho Low, ex-banker Roger Ng indicted over 1MDB scandal

Published 25 minutes ago on 01 November 2018

NEW YORK, Nov 1 — A three-count criminal indictment was unsealed today in federal court in the Eastern District of New York charging Low Taek Jho, also known as "Jho Low," and Ng Chong Hwa, also known as "Roger Ng," with conspiring to launder billions of dollars embezzled from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), Malaysia's investment development fund, and conspiring to violate the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) by paying bribes to various Malaysian and Abu Dhabi officials. As part of the three-count indictment, Ng is also charged with conspiring to violate the FCPA by circumventing the internal accounting controls of a major New York-headquartered financial institution (Financial Institution), which underwrote more than US$6 billion (RM25 billion) in bonds issued by 1MDB in three separate bond offerings in 2012 and 2013, while Ng was employed at the Financial Institution as a managing director. Ng was arrested earlier today in Malaysia, pursuant to a provisional arrest warrant issued at the request of the United States. Low remains at large.

Also unsealed today in federal court in the Eastern District of New York was the guilty plea of Tim Leissner, the former South-east Asia Chairman and participating managing director of the Financial Institution, to a two-count criminal information charging Leissner with conspiring to launder money and conspiring to violate the FCPA by both paying bribes to various Malaysian and Abu Dhabi officials and circumventing the internal accounting controls of the Financial Institution while he was employed by it. According to court filings, Leissner has been ordered to forfeit US$43,700,000 as a result of his crimes.

Richard P. Donoghue, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, John P. Cronan, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Department of Justice's Criminal Division, William F. Sweeney, Jr, Assistant Director-in-Charge, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York Field Office (FBI), and R. Damon Rowe, Special Agent-in-Charge, Internal Revenue Service-Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI), Los Angeles Field Office, announced the charges.

The criminal scheme

1MDB is a Malaysian state-owned and controlled fund created to pursue investment and development projects for the economic benefit of Malaysia and its people. As alleged in court filings, between approximately 2009 and 2014, as 1MDB raised money to fund its projects, billions of dollars were misappropriated and fraudulently diverted from 1MDB, including funds 1MDB raised in 2012 and 2013 through three bond transactions that it executed with the Financial Institution. As part of the scheme, and as alleged in court filings, Low, Ng, Leissner and others conspired to bribe government officials in Malaysia, including at 1MDB, and Abu Dhabi to obtain and retain lucrative business for the Financial Institution, including the 2012 and 2013 bond deals. They also allegedly conspired to launder the proceeds of their criminal conduct through the US financial system by purchasing, among other things, luxury residential real estate in New York City and elsewhere, and artwork from a New York-based auction house, and by funding major Hollywood films.

As alleged, Low's close relationships with high-ranking government officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi were central to the scheme. Ng, Leissner, and others at the Financial Institution allegedly knew Low was close to these government officials, including a high-ranking Malaysian government official who had authority to approve 1MDB business decisions (Malaysian Official #1). According to allegations in court filings, beginning in approximately 2009 and continuing through 2014, Low, Ng, Leissner and the other co-conspirators used Low's relationships to obtain and retain business for the Financial Institution through the promise and payment of hundreds of millions of dollars in bribes, including to ensure 1MDB awarded the Financial Institution a role on three bond transactions known internally at the Financial Institution as "Project Magnolia," "Project Maximus" and "Project Catalyze." As a result of its work for 1MDB during that time, the Financial Institution allegedly received approximately US$600 million in fees and revenues along with increased reputational prestige. At the same time, Ng, Leissner and others allegedly received large bonuses and enhanced their own reputations at the Financial Institution. In total, according to allegations in court filings, more than US$2.7 billion was misappropriated from 1MDB and Low, Ng, Leissner and others conspired to launder this money through the US financial system to pay bribes to foreign officials and for the personal benefit of themselves and their relatives.

Project Magnolia

In early 2012, according to allegations in court filings, following a series of meetings in Malaysia and the United Kingdom, Low, Leissner, Ng and the co-conspirators agreed that, with the assistance of the Financial Institution, 1MDB would issue US$1.75 billion in bonds guaranteed by an entity wholly owned and controlled by the government of Abu Dhabi. Low allegedly explained to Ng, Leissner and others at the time that, to complete the transaction, bribes would need to be paid to officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi and, as alleged, hundreds of millions of dollars were actually paid to officials in these countries. Low, Ng, Leissner and other co-conspirators also knew that Low intended to use funds misappropriated from the bond transaction to bribe and influence the officials to obtain the necessary approvals and any additional assistance needed to execute Project Magnolia for the Financial Institution and to pay kickbacks to Ng, Leissner and others.

In or around March 2012, 1MDB allegedly selected the Financial Institution to be the sole bookrunner and arranger for Project Magnolia. As part of the scheme, Low and other co-conspirators enlisted the assistance of 1MDB officials, promising to pay them bribes and kickbacks. In one instance, as alleged in court filings, in connection with Project Magnolia, Low told one 1MDB official that he would "[g]ive [the official a] big present" when the transaction closed. According to allegations in court documents, the fact that bribes and kickbacks were being paid in connection with Project Magnolia was known to Ng, Leissner and other employees of the Financial Institution.

After Project Magnolia closed on or about May 21, 2012, more than US$500 million of the bond proceeds were misappropriated and diverted from 1MDB through numerous wire transfers to bank accounts in the name of shell companies beneficially owned and controlled by Low, Leissner, Ng and other co-conspirators, including a high-level official at the Abu Dhabi entity that guaranteed the Project Magnolia bonds and a close relative of Malaysian Official #1.  As alleged, the bond proceeds transferred to Malaysian Official #1's close relative were later used by the relative's US motion picture company to assist in the production of the film "The Wolf of Wall Street," a movie based on a previous Eastern District of New York prosecution.  

Project Maximus and Project Catalyze

Court filings further allege that from May 2012 and continuing through 2013, Low, Ng, Leissner and their co-conspirators continued to work to ensure that the Financial Institution obtained and retained additional 1MDB business, including the bond transactions known as "Project Maximus" and "Project Catalyze," which transactions generated substantial fees and revenues for the Financial Institution.  As alleged, although both transactions were designed to raise more than US$4 billion for 1MDB's investment and development projects, Low, Ng, Leissner and other co-conspirators allegedly used the transactions to further the criminal scheme, ultimately laundering hundreds of millions of dollars of diverted funds from these transactions into bank accounts beneficially owned and controlled by, among others, the co-conspirators, including Low, Leissner and officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi. As alleged in court filings, throughout this time, Ng, Leissner, and at least one other employee of the Financial Institution knew that Low would and did pay bribes to influence officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi to obtain the necessary approvals to execute Project Maximus and Project Catalyze. Low, Ng, Leissner and others allegedly knew that large portions of the bond proceeds would be illegally diverted to themselves and others, including to foreign government officials. 

As part of the scheme alleged in court filings, Low, Ng, Leissner and other co-conspirators again used a series of wire transfers to launder billions of dollars of misappropriated and fraudulently diverted funds from Project Maximus and Project Catalyze. As alleged, following the close of Project Maximus, approximately US$790 million of the bond proceeds was transferred through a series of shell company accounts beneficially owned and controlled by Low, Leissner and others, including accounts of officials in Malaysia and Abu Dhabi. In particular, Leissner and Ng caused millions of dollars of these funds to be transferred to accounts of 1MDB officials or relatives of such officials in exchange for their assistance in obtaining and retaining business for the Financial Institution. Over US$35 million of the bond proceeds also allegedly was used by a co-conspirator to help acquire a condominium in New York, New York beneficially owned by Low.

Similarly, according to allegations in court filings, after Project Catalyze closed in March 2013, more than US$1 billion dollars of diverted funds, traceable to the transaction, were laundered, at Low's direction, to bank accounts in the name of entities beneficially owned and controlled by Low, Leissner and others, including 1MDB officials. As alleged, more than US$4 million of the funds were transferred to a bank account beneficially owned by a relative of Ng. Additionally, as part of the scheme, Low used a shell company account to receive more than US$1 billion of the Project Catalyze bond proceeds and spent approximately US$137 million of these funds to purchase works of art at a high-end art auction house in New York, New York.

Post-Catalyze 1MDB transactions at the Financial Institution

The Financial Institution continued to seek business from 1MDB after Project Catalyze. As alleged, Leissner and others were particularly focused on securing a role for the Financial Institution on a proposed initial public offering ("IPO") of 1MDB's energy assets. To influence certain officials to award the Financial Institution a role in the proposed IPO, Low and Leissner allegedly continued to pay bribes to certain officials at 1MDB.

For example, as alleged, in an online chat between Low and Leissner in June 2014, Low and Leissner discussed the need to "suck up to" a 1MDB official and to send "cakes" to a person believed to be the wife of Malaysian Official #1. A few months after this chat, a bank account owned and controlled by Leissner and his relative was used to transfer approximately US$4.1 million to a high-end New York jeweller, in part, to pay for gold jewellery for the wife of Malaysian Official #1.

The charges in the indictment as to Low and Ng are allegations, and those defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The investigation was jointly conducted by the FBI's International Corruption Unit and IRS-Criminal Investigation. The government's criminal case is being handled by the Business and Securities Fraud Section of the United States Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York and the Criminal Division's Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section (MLARS) and Fraud Section. Assistant United States Attorneys Jacquelyn M. Kasulis and Drew Rolle and Trial Attorneys Jennifer E. Ambuehl, Woo S. Lee, Mary Ann McCarthy, Katherine A. Nielsen and Nikhila Raj are prosecuting the case. Additional Criminal Division Trial Attorneys and Assistant US Attorneys within US Attorney's Offices for the Eastern District of New York and Central District of California have provided valuable assistance with various aspects of this investigation, including with civil and criminal forfeitures.

The Criminal Division's Office of International Affairs provided critical assistance in this case. The Department also appreciates the significant cooperation and assistance provided by the US Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System along with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The Department also appreciates the significant assistance provided by the Attorney General's Chambers of Malaysia, the Royal Malaysian Police, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, the Attorney General's Chambers of Singapore, the Singapore Police Force-Commercial Affairs Division, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland, the Judicial Investigating Authority of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, and the Criminal Investigation Department of the Grand-Ducal Police of Luxembourg.

The defendants:

LOW TAEK JHO

Age: 36

NG CHONG HWA

Age: 51

EDNY Docket No. 18-CR-538 (MKB)

TIM LEISSNER

Age: 48

EDNY Docket No. 18-CR-439 (MKB)


BILLION DOLLAR WHALE

Whilst I would not accept everything in it as gospel truth, however, anyone who wants to refresh their memory on the high living and lavish partying  antics of Jho Low, his alleged involvement related to 1MDB, the alleged  involvement of Goldman Sachs bankers, Switzerland's BSI bank and its Singapore subsidiary, the alleged complicity of former Malaysian Prime Minister Dato' Sri Najib Tun Razak, the U.S. DoJ's actions and so forth may want to read the book Billion Dollar Whale by Tom Wright & Bradley Hope, which I purchased on 20 October 2018 for RM79.90 from MPH Bookstore in the Nu Sentral mall in Kuala Lumpur.

Billion Dollar Whale draws upon multiple sources, such as media reports, official statements, testimonies of various people and so forth over the years leading up to this and will give you a more comprehensive background behind the above actions and charges laid by the DoJ against various individuals mentioned in the articles above, and provides some insight into what this whole 1MDB issue is about.

  

On thing though, in Billion Dollar Whale, Wright and Bradley portray Jho Lo as the main culprit behind the whole issue, whilst Najib, though portrayed as somewhat complicit, appears to have been somewhat of a sucker who was played like a fiddle by Jho Low to serve his (Jho Low's) interests.

In its epilogue, Billion Dollar Whale says that the millions or billions of dollars or ringgit involved in the 1MDB scandal did not come from the Malaysian public purse but from loans from and debts to international banks and financial institutions but that's cold comfort, unless Malaysia can legally get out of having to honour those debts on grounds that they were fraudulent.

Billion Dollar Whale also reveals the complex goings on within the labyrnthine world of global banking and finance, offshore tax havens, in private banking and so forth, as well as how world famous actors, musicians and personalities willingly sell themselves at big fees to be a guest at parties. Welcome to the services economy!

Graduates from the U.K.'s elite public school Harrow ("public school" is the British term for what in reality is an elite private school) , the London School of Economics, the University of California at Los Angeles and the University of Pennsylvania's business-oriented Wharton School will be honoured to have Jho Low amongst their fellow alumni.

Other notable Wharton alumni include U.S. President Donald Trump, U.S. First Lady Ivanka (Trump's wife), Warren Buffet, Elon Musk and many other notable persons. Harrow alumni include several of the U.K.'s prime ministers. 
  
Meanwhile, back in Malaysia, Najib Tun Razak faces a slew of criminal charges, mostly related to alleged money laundering, which have been laid against him by Malaysia's courts, and his trials related to these charges are scheduled to begin from February 2019.

Well, I expect that the series of trials, as well as the appeals which will follow, could well drag on up to and perhaps even beyond Malaysia's next general elections.

Meanwhile, I remain open minded on all this and will wait to see the verdicts of the Malaysian, U.S. and any other nation's courts, if these other nation's courts come forward and lay charges.

Also, Malaysia has to first find Jho Low and extradite him back to Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Malaysia's government, especially the cabinet ministers must not allow themselves to become too preoccupied and distracted by the 1MDB issue, since there are many more important national issues such as the economy, the high cost of living, employment, industry, education, healthcare, affordable housing, public transit and so forth which they must deal with. 

Yours trully


Politischeiss