The contentious bilateral talks over the Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) land in Singapore appears to have moved forward with a proposal to swap it for valuable land near the island state’s first casino in Marina South, instead of scattered pieces across the tiny republic.
The land swap has been contentious since the Malaysia-Singapore Points of Agreement (POA) was signed in 1990 over the issue of the future of the railway land. The POA was signed between former Singapore Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and former Malaysian Finance Minister Tun Daim Zanuddin.
Under the agreement, KTM was to vacate its historic station at Tanjong Pagar and move to Bukit Timah while all of KTM’s land between Bukit Timah and Tanjong Pagar would revert to Singapore. The land at Tanjong Pagar would be handed over to a private limited company for joint developmen
Today, the legend of Onam is more relevant to Tamil Nadu than Kerala. After all, it’s all about land grabbing.
For the uninitiated, here is the real story of the festival.
Once upon a time, Kerala was ruled by an asura king called Mahabali. A grandson of Prahlada, Mahabali ensured that his people had nothing to crib about. Not just the CPM leaders, every citizen was prosperous. There was no cheating, not even within the Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee.
This was too much for Aditi, the mother of all gods, to digest. She assigned Vishnu to finish off Mahabali, who incidentally was a devotee of Vishnu. The lord assumed the role of Vamana, a diminutive Brahmin, and approached Mahabali, requesting for a piece of land. The generous king he was, Mahabali readily agreed to give as much land Vamana wanted.
Vamana said he would take only as much land as his three steps could cover. Sukracharya, the royal advisor shrewder than Amar Singh, saw through Vishnu’s nasty game and advised Mahabali to withdraw his promise, but the asura of words would have none of it. “Get, set, go!” he said, and Vamana started growing in size till he became bigger than the Mayawati statues.
With one step, he covered more land than the DMK could grab in five years. With the second, he had the entire sky, some of our defunct satellites included. With nowhere to take the third step, Vamana flickered his eyebrows at Mahabali, as if asking, “Now what, mate?” Mahabali knelt and showed his head. Vamana put his foot down and Mahabali was pushed to ‘patala’, the nether world which would remain better than the Tihar jail till some of its inmates reach there.
When Vamana revealed his true self, Mahabali had just one wish—to see his wards once a year. Vishnu granted him the visiting rights on a day which came to be called Onam. And the people of Kerala lived happily never after.
Mahabali could never reclaim his lost land, but Kerala former chief minister V S Achuthanandan made a valiant attempt against the sharks of Munnar a couple of years ago. He had partial success. In the neighbouring Tamil Nadu, the AIADMK government is showing a better political will in restoring grabbed land to its rightful owners.
J Jayalalithaa is no Mahabali, but in the three months she has been in power, 700 acres worth Rs 450 crore have been restored. The exercise may smack of political vendetta in some cases, but there is no denying the fact that the Dravidian Vamanas are on a shaky ground.
By next Onam, let the land belong to the tiller—and to those who earn it by the sweat of their eyebrow. Wishing you a very happy Onam
The Najib administration has dismissed remarks by Singapore’s founding father Lee Kuan Yew who said yesterday that any attempt by Malaysia to retaliate over the return of the Tanjong Pagar railway land to the republiccould have led to war. The foreign ministry said the former prime minister of the island state was no longer … Read more BACUL UMNO SHOULD HAVE USED ISA TO DETAIN SINGAPORE’S FOUNDING FATHER LEE KUAN YEW INSTEAD SURRENDERING SINGAPORE
by Din Merican
The revelation by Raja Petra Kamarudin (RPK) inMalaysia-Today
that A-G Gani Patail had received gratification from Datuk Vincent Lye ,formerly of Ho Hup Bhd, caused quite a stir. But people were more interested to know who is AG Gani Patail’s second spouse whom he hides away in a Sri Carcosa bungalow in Seremban. Then things went quiet for a while.
That must have irritated former MACC Adviser, Tan Sri Robert Phang, who then issued a statement accusing the MACC of impotence. Finally, the MACC seemed to be woken from their slumber when the media reported yesterday that the MACC had raided Ho Hup’s office.
However, RPK sarcastically suggested that the raid was to collect and destroy evidence that may incriminate A-G Gani Patail. In a swift response to Malaysiakini, the MACC has denied that there was a raid on Ho Hup’s office. Instead, the MACC said that it was just a visit.
I am amused. Suddenly, the MACC is adopting diplomatic language in their dealings with the
public. They no longer conduct raids; they just make friendly visits!
From the grapevine, I also heard that the MACC “visit” to Ho Hup’s office was conducted by MACC IO Fikri with 3 other officers. Apparently, IO Fikri had told the Ho Hup staff that they are required to go to the MACC HQ in Putrajaya to give their statements. And this has caused some panic amongst the Ho Hup staff.
I can understand their apprehension. The public memory is still fresh as to what happened to Teoh Beng Hock and Ahmad Sarbaini when they were asked to go to the MACC’s office. Both ended up dead thrown out of the MACC’s windows. Their deaths still remain mysteries despite the Inquests and Royal Commission of Inquiry that were conducted. Their ghosts still haunts the MACC.
The Ho Hup staff were also curious what exactly that MACC IO Fikri was trying to convey to them when Fikri voluntarily announced that the house where the lightings and renovations were supplied to was not registered in Gani Patail’s name. Why did IO Fikri volunteer this unsolicited information? Was this a warning to them not to implicate A-G Gani Patail?
The Ho Hup staff became more frightened when it was reminded to them that their majority shareholder, Dato’ TC Low, had already faced one criminal charge for going against Dato’ Vincent Lye, a close friend of A-G Gani.
Apparently, Dato’ TC Low’s sister, Low Lai Yong, is now also facing 11 charges for various technical offences under the Companies Act and Securities Commission Act. Each charge is subject to a bail of RM 1 million. If this story is true, then that’s RM 11 million on bail money alone! That would surely bankrupt an ordinary person.It appears that the message is clear- that life can be made to be very miserable if anyone were to go against A-G Gani Patail.
A-G Gani Patail’s Appeal against Dato’ Ramli’s Acquittals
Let me caution that all these are information provided to me on condition of anonymity. To verify
if they were true, I tried to call Dato’ Ramli Yusuff, who is the Deputy Chairman of Ho Hup. Previously, I could not get through him as he was performing the Umrah and then went back to Sabah for Hari Raya. Again my attempts were unsuccessful.
Either Dato’ Ramli is avoiding me or he is being tightlipped about this whole affair. This is understandable. After all, the last of A-G Gani Patail’s appeal against Dato Ramli’s acquittals will come up for hearing on September 23, 2011.
Perhaps Dato’ Ramli wants to lie low until all these cases are over. Perhaps, Dato’ Ramli is wary of the omnipotent powers that A-G Gani Patail wields. On the other hand, A-G Gani Patail might just appeal again all the way to the Federal Court against Dato’ Ramli! Whatever it is, I wish Dato Ramli good luck.
September 9, 2011
PRESS STATEMENT BY-
TAN SRI DATUK ROBERT PHANG MIOW SIN. Justice of Peace
Chairman – Social Care Foundation
MACC OFFICERS MUST NOT BE DISHEARTENED BY CRITICISMS BUT MUST RISE TO THE OCCASION!
Following the revelation by Malaysia Today pertaining to allegations of corruption against AG Gani Patail involving Ho Hup Berhad, on 26th August 2011, I had issued a statement captioned “AG GANI PATAIL: MACC MUST SHOW INDEPENDENCE AND NOT IMPOTENCE”.
2. I am made to understand that my statement had caused many MACC officers to feel disheartened and demoralized believing that I had accused them of “IMPOTENCE” whereas I was once an Advisory member of the MACC Panel.
3. Let me clarify that my statement was never intended to demean nor demoralize the MACC or its officers. After all, I still regard myself as part of the MACC support group. Far from demeaning the MACC, my statement was intended to challenge, motivate, provoke and fire-up the MACC and its officers to act vigilantly in the genuine fight against corruption.
4. Thus, I am happy to note that the mainstream media has reported of the recent visit by MACC to Ho Hup’s office. This shows that an investigation is under way despite there being no official statement to that effect. It would be better if the MACC Chief Commissioner, Dato’ Seri Abu Kassim, issues a statement in conformity with his pledge that the MACC would not be intimidated or influenced by any person and that action would be taken to investigate any allegation regardless that the subject or suspect may be a “big fish” and not just some “ikan bilis”.
5. If only Dato Seri Abu Kassim would make that announcement, that would allay all public cynicism and skepticism. That would assure the public not to worry because MACC is vigilant and alert of allegations that are already circulating in the public domain. Thus, I call on all Malaysians to applaud the MACC’s quiet role in this new development. Let us give these officers a pat on the back and say “BRAVO to them with the hope that would spur them to act without fear or favor. This is the only way that MACC can regain the Rakyat’s trust and confidence.
6.It is noted that A-G Gani Patail has now publicly denied the allegations. That is in consonant with the rules of natural justice that a person must be given the right to defend himself against allegations. It would be more commendable for all parties if the investigation can be shown to be transparent. Already talk is rife that the visit and seizure of Ho Hup’s documents are to achieve some other ulterior objective namely to destroy evidence of any misconduct by the AG. That perception is unfortunate.
7. Thus, one way in which A-G Gani Patail, the MACC and the government can show transparency in this matter is to ask A-G Gani Patail to go on on leave of absence until the investigations is completed. This would sweep away all the dust of suspicion that otherwise would linger on. I ask A-G Gani Patail to be selfless in this and do what I had done when an unfounded allegation was made against me earlier this year. Then, AG Gani Patail would earn my respect as a true patriot.
8.Finally, I ask that the MACC officers must face up to reality that indeed its reputation is at its worst now. However, they must not be disheartened by these criticisms but must instead rise to the occasion!
“HUMBLENESS IS GOOD VIRTUE, ARROGANCE SHALL FALL, THE MEEK WILL RULE THE WORLD”.
Historically, the unanimous resolution adopted by both houses of parliament on August 27, 2011, committing the government to a strong Lokpal Bill, will be seen as heralding a new era in political reforms just as Dr. Manmohan Singh’s interim budget on July 24, 1991 marked the beginning of economic reforms. An empowered electorate will increasingly reward political parties that practice good internal governance and punish those that don’t.
The Congress party’s top leadership knows that the tide has turned: growing public anger against corruption could damage its electoral prospects both in the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections next summer and the 2014 Lok Sabha poll. Since 1996, the Congress has never won more than 28.80% national voteshare in a general election. If its national voteshare dips by just 3% in the next Lok Sabha poll, it could slip below 25.82%. That’s the voteshare the Congress received in 1998 when it won 141 seats – the second lowest in its history. The fear of losing power has sent a stab of fear through the Congress. That fear could yet prove productive if it ignites internal party reforms ahead of the next general election.
The Congress has less time than it thinks to reform itself. India underwent three quickfire general elections between 1996 and 1999. The Congress lost all three. The next Lok Sabha poll could give way to a midterm poll if the UPA government’s credibility continues to plummet over the politically lethal issues of corruption and inflation.
The architecture of misgovernance has been built over decades of feudal politics. In no modern democracy does a political party depend so heavily as the Congress on a centralised, opaque leadership. Key political decisions are made by a coterie who owe their positions to loyalty not merit. In a Westminster parliamentary democracy, there is only one centre of gravity, never two. In Britain, for example, the buck stops at 10 Downing Street. No caveats, no detours. In the UPA government, the buck does not stop at all: it skips between 7 Race Course Road, 10 Janpath and 24 Akbar Road.
The ambiguity is deliberate. Speaking in two voices – the government’s and the party’s – allows the Congress to be flexible with facts. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh bears full constitutional accountability for the government’s acts of omission and commission. But in practice he does not have absolute authority over those acts. The veto lies with 10 Janpath. At crucial times – including his statesmanlike address to parliament last Thursday saluting Anna Hazare and then, two days later, overruling hardline ministers on the wording of the resolution presented to both houses of parliament supporting a strong Lokpal Bill – the prime minister has shown that, given the authority, he can act wisely and decisively.
The Congress hasn’t held a serious internal election for the post of party president for 13 years. When you neglect democracy within, can you protect democracy without? If Rahul Gandhi is serious about transforming his party into a modern political organisation, he must implement three key reforms. First, ensure internal democracy by holding a free and fair election for party president in which, putting self-interest aside, no member of the Gandhi family offers to stand. Young, professional talent will then rise to the top. Second, give the prime minister unchallenged authority over all cabinet and policy decisions for the remainder of his term. Power must shift from 10 Janpath to 7 Race Course Road – where it belongs. Third, end the “tyranny of the elected”. Political parties give tickets to candidates with criminal backgrounds, fund their election campaigns with black money and cynically exploit voters on the basis of caste, religion and region.
According to self-attested affidavits submitted by members of parliament to the Election Commission (EC), 158 MPs (nearly 30% of the current Lok Sabha) have criminal chargesheets pending against them. Of these, 76 MPs (including 13 from the Congress) are charged with serious criminal offences: murder, kidnapping, extortion and rape. The tyranny of these elected MPs, and those who gave them tickets to stand for parliament, subverts our democracy – not the raised voice of citizens. Parliament represents the sovereign will of the people. “In a democracy,” as US Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter said, “the highest office is the office of the citizen.” The Congress must absorb that democratic axiom and shed its feudal skin – or risk defeat at the next general election.