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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Auditor-General Report 2008 - Police Dept weakness

Police could have saved RM12 million per year

The Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) could have saved RM12.34 million of taxpayers' money per year if it had leased out the 315 lots of undeveloped land held by it , according to the newly-released Auditor-General's report for 2007.

According to the AG, the PDRM owned 2,453 lots of land, totalling 8,430 hectares in size nationwide, but 437 lots equivalent to 1,453 hectares in size were left abandoned.

Some of the lots leased out were also poorly managed, with unrenewed leases causing overdue payments.

The report laid the blame on the Home Ministry, the PDRM and the Director-General of Lands and Mines Department (JKPTG), saying all three parties should be held responsible for not making more efficient use of government resources.

That included developing the vacant land for productive use, or leasing out the idle lots to mitigate maintenance costs, the report added.

The AG pointed out that in accordance with 2007 circulars issued by JKPTG, lands no longer used by PDRM should be leased out to other agencies.

The report also said PDRM was granted sufficient yearly allocations for maintaining the undeveloped lands. While it did not specify the size of the yearly allocations, the AG report also advised the home ministry to draw specific five-year plans to obtain and disburse allocations.

The report also cited staff shortage as a cause for the poor maintenance, advising the ministry to add new positions to beef up supervision of the properties.

Other reasons that made it tough for the PDRM to manage the lands include trespassers, illegal squatters and also the presence of dense foliage.

Source: Malaysiakini


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Umno members at War (Part I)

Punches and chairs thrown at Felda Umno branch meet

Tuesday September 2, 2008

SEGAMAT: A fight broke out at the Felda Palong Timur 5 Umno branch meeting after several members claimed they were unhappy with the results of the nominations.

Punches were traded and chairs thrown during the commotion at 6pm on Saturday.

It is learnt that when the votes for the division chief post was tallied, incumbent Datuk Othman Jais lost to newcomer Shaifuddin Ali Hanafiah.

Othman, 61, in his sixth term, is the longest-serving state assemblyman in Johor.

Branch chief Poninan Panijo said Othman’s supporters were unhappy with the results and demanded that members cast their votes again.

“It was also agreed that after voting, all those who cast their votes for Othman would leave the hall,” he said.

At the end of the voting, it was found that only 28 people left the hall, leading to Shaifuddin’s victory once again, which sparked off the fight after a war of words.

Poninan said that in the fight, punches and harsh words were exchanged.

“The legs of several chairs were also broken,” he said.

He added that at the end of the fight, Othman, who is the Segamat division chief, instructed that the branch elections be valid, but the division post elections would be cancelled.

Shaifuddin, 47, a former Segamat Umno Youth chief, already has eight nominations in hand, and needs the nominations from this branch to be able to contest for the division chief post.

When contacted, Othman denied that there had been a fight and said only an argument had ensued when several voters who had allegedly not paid their membership fees voted.

The police confirmed that no police report had been lodged over the incident.

It was the second rowdy Umno meeting in the past few days. On Friday, rotten eggs were thrown during the Sungai Machang Hilir branch meeting near Seremban.

The meeting became unruly after a group of members started to protest against some financial statements, loss of membership forms and delays in sending out the notices for the meeting.

This is also the second time a fight has broken out during Umno branch meetings in Johor in the past month.

On Aug 3, the Sedili Kecil Umno branch meeting erupted into a war of words between a supporter of Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar and a supporter of Daing A. Malik Daing A. Rahman, who is vying for the position of Kota Tinggi division chief

Source: The Star


Monday, September 01, 2008

ACA naps an Umno ADUN

ACA nabs Umno Negri rep for RM2,000 bribe

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 31 — The Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) has arrested an Umno state assemblyman for allegedly accepting a RM2,000 bribe from a housing developer.

The arrest set off charges that the Negri Sembilan assemblyman was a victim of a political stitch-up. He is the third state legislator who has been picked up by the ACA in recent weeks.

Last week, two Parti Keadilan Rakyat state assemblymen were charged in court for accepting bribes to speed up approvals for a housing project.

The ACA has been on a sweep in recent weeks as it uses its expanded powers to root out corruption.

The agency has also nabbed 36 Puspakom officers and 21 runners for suspected graft to certify vehicles as roadworthy.

Source: Malaysian Insider

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Auditor-General Report: Bakun dam comes under fire

The Auditor-General’s Report 2007 has criticised the construction of the controversial Bakun hydro-electric dam project, which saw its cost ballooned from an initial RM4.5 billion to RM7.5 billion.

AG Ambrin Buang has urged the Finance Ministry and Sarawak Hydro Sdn Bhd (SHSB) - the company tasked to build the dam - to take action to ensure the project is completed on time and not incur any extra cost anymore.

“It is recommended that the Finance Ministry, especially the Finance Ministry Incorporated and SHSB to act more firmly and pro-actively to ensure that the contractor complete the project on time,” he said in the 858-page report tabled to Parliament yesterday.

The AG’s criticism came as a fresh blow to the project, which has already attracted fierce criticism because of its harmful impact on the environment while some 10,000 residents have had to evacuate the project site.

The 2,400-megawatt Bakum dam project involves flooding an area the size of Singapore.

A total of RM3.91 billion, out of the estimated RM7.5 billion cost, has been spent for the project as at the end of last year, according to the report. The project is due to be completed in 2010.

RM510.8m compensation request

In the report, the AG pointed out various financial management weaknesses of the project.

Topping the list is the construction of the main damn, which was awarded to the Malaysia China Hidro Joint Venture (MCHJV) (see chart) and worth RM1.79 billion - the biggest contract in the overall project.

Among the weaknesses noted by the AG’s report include:

- An additional RM708 million was approved by the Finance Ministry although the contract has clearly stated that any risk for additional cost should be borne by MCHJV.

- The package for the building of the main dam should be completed by September 2007 but it was given an extension until June 2010. Among the reasons for the delay was that there were 16 variation orders issued.

- The failure of MCHJV to complete the work on schedule has resulted in the contractors for the electro-mechanical works to demand for a sum of RM510.8 million in compensation. As of Dec 31, 2007, a total of RM100 million were approved by SHSB to be paid to the contractors.

- The failure of SHSB to pay MCHJV according to the formula as stipulated in its contract resulted in SHSB failing to collect RM9.02 million, which was transacted in US currency.

Despite the weaknesses, the AG noted that the construction of the diversion tunnel and cofferdam were carried out according to the terms of the contract.

The construction of the Bakun dam has a long history. The project was initially awarded to Sarawak-based Ekran Berhad and was to be built through privatisation.

However, it was taken over by the Finance Ministry Incorporated in Nov 1997 due to the economic downturn and Ekran no longer keen to carry out the multi-billion project.

In Jan 1998, the cabinet agreed to hand over the project to SHSB, a fully-owned subsidiary of the Finance Ministry Incorporated.

More recent in Nov 2007, the government has issued a letter of intent to Synergy Drive Berhad (now known as Sime Darby Berhad), which is a consortium of Sime Darby, Golden Hope Plantation Berhad and Guthrie Group Berhad to buy a 60 percent stake in SHSB.

Nevertheless, in June this year, Sime Darby had said that it will not take the equity stake in the Bakun project on ground that “the project economics do not fit in with our business strategy”.

Sime Darby however will continue its role as a contractor to complete the damn’s construction.

Source: Malaysiakini

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