Saturday, July 12, 2014

Blackmails and the immunity of the political secretary

After much push and shove from the MACC and those in the know of this diamond profile case, the second guy without a Datukship was charged in court last month. 

A former officer with the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry was charged in the Shah Alam Sessions Court today with soliciting bribes for projects under the National Key Result Area NKRA, worth RM18 million four years ago. NTV7 reported.

This high profile corruption and siphoning case was closely linked to NFC scandal tainted Wanita Umno chief Shahrizat Jalil and the 1Azam poverty eradication program under the Ministry when she was Minister.

The Datuk who is yet to be charged is Shahrizat's former political secretary. The MACC, The Benchmark was told, had a strong case against both the culprits but only one was charged. 

Why was the Datuk not charged? 

Before the public start pointing fingers at the MACC and aim to tarnish their image once again it would be wise for those who decided against charging the Datuk to speak up. 

Please spell it out if the Datuk enjoys some kind of immunity that we the public are not aware of. 

If there is no immunity, both for the Datuk and his BOSSes, stop interfering in the name of national interest. Dump political blackmails into the bin and charge the culprits.

National interest cannot be about protecting the corrupt. In this case the bloody corrupt who  allegedly siphoned funds meant for the poor. 

We are watching you.  

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Jailed conman and a Syariah compliant partner

Divorces are fun, except for the people and families involved.  Divorces of the rich are particularly stimulating as couples fight over money, and argue about interpretations and accuracy.

So the divorce hearing of Datuk Seri Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib looked to get itself a certain amount of notoriety.  However, it is turning out to be remarkable for reasons far away from the personal life of a long-separated and honestly rather boring couple.  For Datuk Seri Mahmud Taib is the son of Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud, who when this marriage started was a powerful Chief Minister of Sarawak, and as the divorce started was under increasing energetic attack for corruption, and as it drags on is the Governor of that state.

When one looks hard – as the MACC has apparently been doing – the evidence of corruption is hard to find, while the slick and extraordinarily funded (how much DOES it cost to run a radio station based in Taiwan, or the South Pacific, or wherever Radio Free Sarawak is?[1]) campaign gets shriller and shriller. 

And yet, when the evidence is examined the smoking gun is not immediately apparent.  The anti Taib shriekers will tell you that his brother Onn Mahmud was controlling the sales of timber to Japan.   It turns out that he wasn’t, and the Japanese tax authorities proved this.  When Malaysiakini repeated the allegation it lost a lawsuit, and had to retract and apologise[2] (not that you would know that it had been disproved, if you just read Sarawak Report - they keep reporting the story as if it had never been disproved by two court cases in two different countries).

Then came the revelations in this case, where the wife, Shahnaz Abdul Majid, produced testimony that her ex husband had billions of ringgit in over a hundred offshore bank accounts, mainly in Switzerland.  As he denied this, the implication was that these were SECRET accounts, and we were all told that this is where the family stored its corrupt money.  Oh, and they didn’t just tell US:  the evidence from that case was used in a blanket campaign in Switzerland where it became the basis of a motion by outraged MPs, and the same evidence was circulated, if the activists are to be believed, to law enforcement and companies and compliance officers and banks and newspapers across the globe[3].
But the court in which the evidence was given never actually SAW the evidence.  It was never tested:  It was not subject to any of the tests that such damning and important evidence should be.  And now, at last we are hearing Datuk Seri Mahmud’s side.  He doesn’t just claim it was exaggerated, or twisted, or misrepresented.  He explains that the whole lot was completely made up by a notorious Canadian forger, Cullen Johnson who alternated between hacking bank accounts and – when he failed – forging the results for his clients.  Not once, but maybe a hundred times over a decade. 

If Datuk Seri Mahmud is wrong, no doubt Shahnaz and her legal team will publish the evidence in full, as he is challenging them to do.  What a coup for them:  To prove that Datuk Seri Mahmud is not only extraordinarily rich, but a liar in court.  So far, they haven’t done so, and the evidence elsewhere seems to indicate that Datuk Seri Mahmud may be telling the truth.  Cullen Johnson, you see, was arrested for these crimes, and the US Government extradited him from the Turks and Caicos Islands, from where, on the run, he seems to have supplied the Shahnaz camp with the “evidence”…[4]

And now Mr Johnson and his accomplices have done a plea bargain with the Feds, and explained how he worked for so long as a hacker and forger.

So presumably his evidence on individual cases is leaking out, and Datuk Seri Mahmud can stand up and be taken seriously.  But this raises three questions:

Who is responsible for the evidence brought by the Shahnaz camp, in a case which increasingly looks more like a political circus than a court?  When they asked Mr Johnson to get them the evidence they used, were they thinking that they were hiring a criminal hacker, or a criminal forger?  In producing the apparent product of this in a Malaysian court, how many professional and criminal lines did they cross?
Is that the 'Dr' in songkok?
We should be impressed by Shahnaz’s legal team led by Dr Mohd Rafie bin Shafie, who is in close orbit of Anwar Ibrahim.  Surely he wouldn’t have used Shahnaz and this cobbled together evidence to pursue a political vendetta?  Surely he would know his responsibilities?  And surely he would know a fake when he saw it?  This is, after all a man who proudly calls himself Doctor Rafie, based upon a PhD from Washington International University.  No, not Washington State. Washington International University.   I would commend readers to Google “Washington International University” and scam or accreditation[5].  Surely this is a man we can trust?

And in terms of defamation, given that this story echoed round the world and started a handful of corruption enquiries, who is liable …  ?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

People's hero or corporate champion?

While we continue to wait and speculate on who will win the 2000 MW coal fired power plant Project 3B, Tony Pua the people’s hero has decided to wade in today and champion the “real winner” YTL Corp.

Mr Pua, in his blog, is worried that if project 3B end in the hands of YTL’s closest competitor, 1MDB, it will be because of an unfair decision colored by political influence, and the rakyat will be paying the price. YTL must therefore win.

Really Mr Pua? Isn’t the rakyat already paying the price all these years precisely because YTL won?

Maybe we need to refresh Mr Pua’s memory a little, what with age catching up on him and all. YTL was the first among the blood sucking first generation IPPs to sign the punishing, lopsided PPAs with TNB in 1995 that guaranteed its power plants returns of 20% for a period of 21-year.

Do you remember what you were doing in 1995? Because you are still paying the price for the agreement YTL signed during that time today, and will continue to pay all the way up till next year.

With its concession finally ending in 2015, YTL is desperate to get Project 3B in the bag. They brought in the lowest bid at 25.12 sen/kwh, and 1MDB’s bid stood at 25.33sen/kwh, a difference of 0.21 sen or just 1 per cent. (This is a lot closer than 0.42 sen difference that Mr Pua quoted from the Edge who quoted from “some” documents??).

TNB and Malakoff put in around 28 sen/kwh and 26 sen/kw respectively.

It is an open secret in the industry that YTL managed to get this lower price by bringing in an inferior boiler maker. How far off is the standard? Well, on paper, Doosan from South Korea did not qualify for the main requirements lined up in the RFP documents issued by the EC.

Do Doosan’s boilers have a proven track record in ultra supercritical (USC) category? Nope. Its first ever USC boiler will only be completed and commencing in 2017. That’s two years away.

Do Doosan boilers have adequate track record for the supercritical category? Nope. For it to be adequate, it has to have five or more units operating for at least three years. Doosan falls short both in number of units as well as number of years in operations.

But I reiterate, this is on paper. How YTL’s bid got through is a question we need to ask the EC.

Mr Pua keeps harping on lower bid price though. That should be the main contention for choosing a winner, right? If we go by his argument, 1MDB would have won Track 3A, the 1,000 MW coal fired plant awarded to TNB in 2013. But it didn’t, despite having the lowest bid, because there is always a wider consideration.

For Project 3B, YTL is unfortunate to choose a plant site that is much further away from the major load center in Klang Valley. Most electricity consumers are in the central region. The electricity supply has to travel 160km from Tanjong Tohor to get to its main consumers, at least three times the journey from any other proposed plants, all of which are in the central region.

The transmission losses occurring during the journey, even at estimated conservative 2 per cent loss, would have already bumped up YTL’s bid to more than what 1MDB’s bids are.

On top of that, new transmission line to be built all the way to Tanjung Tohor is going to cost TNB some pretty penny. How pretty? Cost of transmission line ONLY, not accounting for transmission losses that is sure to happen, can break RM700 million.

Now 1MDB is not without criticism – who really knows what’s going on in there. For this particular bid though, when you look at the overall picture, that 1 per cent difference in bid price between YTL and 1MDB would have been more than completely erased. The “real” price that would have to be borne by TNB and the Government, and ultimately the people, is much higher if YTL win.

Over the years YTL have also secured, with varying degree of controversy:

· a 30 year concession to finance, build, maintain and control the operations of the ERL in 1997 at an estimated RM2.4billion. You’ll be glad to know that you are still subsidizing this operation via a RM2 and RM6 tax for every domestic and international passenger respectively. YTL is also doing ERL extension for KLIA2

· a RM1 billion river cleaning contract in 2007.

· and most recently, the 1Bestarinet project to wire up schools costing RM1.5billion, which have been criticised for being utilized as a means of expansion for YTL’s 4G network.

· Many, many more. Mostly awarded due to their close relationship to the powers that be.

Do we really need to reward YTL with even more? Let me spell it out to Mr Pua – YTL brings in a nominally lower bid for 3B – but with an additional cost in hundred millions ringgits to be borne by Tenaga and the Government, for a plant that will have inferior machinery (thus higher risk of breaking down), at the expense of the Rakyat.

So why is Mr Pua championing YTL?

YTL, long the favoured corporate behemoth for big ticket contracts. Don’t suddenly clothe them as doing service to the rakyat – it is lazy and hypocritical.

'Awarding coal-powered plant to 1MDB a burden'