Monday, October 31, 2011

Anwar’s ‘passionate plea’ for change


Clare Rewcastle Brown

October 31, 2011
Anwar Ibrahim wowed a packed audience at a hall in London with his eloquence and knowledge.
COMMENT
Anwar Ibrahim’s choice of a University College London lecture hall for his speech this weekend on behalf of the Al Gore Foundation: “The Struggle for Justice and Democracy in Malaysia”, was hardly coincidental.
He was appealing to the young and to the future leaders, on a platform of reform and a clean government.
Anwar is an international politician. In fact, he has been often criticised for his ability to forge relationships across religious and racial divides.
At the packed hall on the night of Oct 29, he ably communicated with the varied London crowd.
The audience was impressed at his knowledge and being able to quote from the Classics, the Quran, Thomas Jefferson and De Toqueville.
But the speaker drew a laugh when he self-deprecatingly pointed out that six years in prison “gives you plenty of time for reading”!
I myself was reminded of Winston Churchill, who gained his own intellectual education through reading during four years of interminable evenings, stuck out on military duty in the backwoods of 19th Century India. Tough times can make you or break you.
Angry Anwar
Anwar gave a wide-ranging and non-scripted speech. But his focus came from what he revealed to have been lengthy conversations earlier in the day with the newly-elected leader of Tunisia Hamadi Jebali.
Jebali’s moderate Islamic party, Ennahda, had just won the country’s post-Arab Spring election.
Jebali is clearly a delightful role model for the man who wants to lead Malaysia.
A Muslim who has received the support of the majority of his people by pledging tolerance and equality towards all, whatever their race or religion – all following a largely bloodless revolution.
The passion in Anwar’s speech came from his anger towards the constant accusations by those currently in power in Malaysia that he is betraying the majority, because he also wants to see justice for the minority.
The concept of rule by the majority, but respect and equal opportunities for the minority is, he reminded us, at the heart of justice and democracy, his subject of that evening.
It is clearly also his ambition for a modern Malaysia:
“Yes, we are better than Zimbabwe and yes we are better than Burma”, he conceded “but I hope that in Malaysia we aspire to more than just that!”
It was a statement that might also have been appealing to De Toqueville’s own core analysis of progress in the matter of democracy, which the 18th century French political writer famously termed as “the Revolution of Rising Expectations”.
Malaysians want more
Malaysians are now expecting more than law and order and calm streets, Anwar suggested.
They are demanding to be treated not as children or slaves, but as grown adults with the freedom that entails.
“Let me say what I want to say and feel free to go home and disagree” was his message. Let people have the freedom and dignity to choose what to believe.
It was a gamble. Has Malaysia reached that point in history? That intangible moment when genuine democracy starts to take hold, as opposed to the limited, pretend democracy that Anwar described exist in Malaysia today?
Anwar clearly hopes so and he was taking comfort in the developments in Muslim countries across the Middle East.
The audience chortled as he pointed out that when Tunisia shook off their own dictator, the Egyptians next door had pronounced that they were a different system and it wouldn’t happen to them.
When Hosni Mubarak went, the Yemenis said they would not be affected.
When Yemen went, the Lybians asserted that Muammar Gaddafi could never be prised from office.
Now Gaddafi has gone, the Malaysians are insisting that matters are very different with Barisan Nasional!
Everyone must change
But Anwar did also seem to impart the lesson that will, determination and effort among ordinary folk, including those sitting in that hall, would be needed if change were to come.
Are too many Malaysians just too resigned and too indolent?
It will be interesting to see, but Anwar made it plain that he has a clear and considered understanding of the fundamentals of democracy and justice, which would be needed to bring those institutions to Malaysia in fact and not just in name.
His own experiences with the judicial system and in opposition politics facing BN’s economic grasp over the country have clearly been educative.
He urged the students before him not to be intimidated and controlled by corrupted institutions.
In fact, he related the extraordinary lengths to which BN would abuse their power to attempt to sabotage his and other pro-democracy speaking tours.
In Indonesia, even in Melbourne, Australia, letters will go out to Malaysian students warning them that if they showed up at the speech, their grants and scholarships would be cancelled.
What could be more symbolic of Malaysia’s fundamental lack of democracy?
Embassy retracted threat
In Michigan, US, it had also happened at one of his own speeches, Anwar told us.
The Malaysian Embassy had sent out the same series of threatening letters to students. However, freedom is keenly guarded in such places.
A strongly-worded letter from the university dean, reminding the embassy their action was illegal, produced a hasty retraction.
The students were told they could attend, after all, and for the first time Anwar found hundreds of young Malaysians attending his lecture!
There were also plenty of Malaysians in the audience at University College, but by now this writer was beginning to wonder how many of them were students and how many of them embassy staff, taking down names!
Anwar addressed the latter by saying they were welcome to be there, but if they behaved in an intimidating fashion, there would have to be further recourse to the British “bobbies”.
He explained that earlier in the day, police had been called to his hotel to move on Malaysian “goons”, who had been parked for several hours outside.
NEP only for rich Malays
Anwar outlined the causes behind this repression… the fantastic corruption that has grown up around a ruling clique who have held power for over half a century – one of the oldest regimes in the world.
He outlined the excesses and the hypocrisy.
A regime that could arrest and try to cane a young girl for drinking a beer, while the son of one of its leading figures has somehow come by with billions to invest in a whole beer-producing industry in Indonesia!
He defended his desire to dismantle the New Economic Policy (NEP), for which BN has tried to criticise him by saying he no longer wanted to favour Malays.
The current arrangement, he pointed out, only favours a very few Malays, not the majority!
“The New Economic Policy is designed to help the richest Malays. But the poorest in Malaysia are the Malays.
“They say Malaysia is stolen by the non-Malays, but I am saying it is stolen by the Malay leaders – RM52 billion last year taken by ministers and their family members.”
The former finance minister exhibited his keen continuing interest in the management of the economy.
He had produced a surplus in his last budget, which has not been achieved since he was sacked and sent to prison.
He had written off loans from the World Bank, but BN has subsequently gone back cap in hand – an oil-rich country posing as a developing nation.
Deafening silence
Anwar pointed out the sickening corruption of the Agricultural Fund – or Agricultural Rural Transfer Fund, as it has been re-named.
It is meant to help poor farmers, but who got the first grant? The first beneficiary was a son of a minister who received RM250 million.
“It is a crime. It is corruption,” thundered Anwar.
But, although he has raised the matter countless times in the so-called Parliament, no BN representative or ministry has provided a response. Deafening silence.
As with the case of the threats to students, this story symbolised the depth of the sham that Malaysia’s “democratic government” has become.
“The fund which is meant to help the poor Malays is stolen and squandered by the Malay leaders”, repeated Anwar.
Therefore, their attempts to accuse him of taking from the Malays and giving to the Chinese, because of his call for equal treatment for all, was doubly deceitful.
They privatised rice, he explained further. This gave a monopoly control to one other BN minister, who promptly sold it to Hong Kong businessmen for RM128 million a year.
That is money being made out of poor paddy farmers, 95% of whom are Malays!
It was an eloquent and deeply felt plea for reform and for the return of honest administration in a country which we all know now tops the world’s corruption leagues.
Campbell must explain
Malaysia is lucky to have an opposition leader with such an incisive understanding of the problems the country faces and what is needed to solve them.
However, those who pretend to be democrats and have hired Western PR agents to help them pose as such, will not give up easily.
During the questions session, one journalist asked what Anwar thought of Alastair Campbell’s denials of the stories that he was part of a Tony Blair team hired to brush up Najib’s world image?
Anwar replied that he would like to hear more than a denial. He would like to hear what Campbell’s opinions are on the regime in Malaysia.
What does he think of their human rights, election rigging, imprisonment without trial, corruption and compromised judiciary?
Maybe we will hear something on Twitter?
Meanwhile, those British in the audience came away from this formidable lecture with a fuller understanding of just how pervasive the repression is, in a country that pretends to be part of the free world.
Malaysians, hopefully, will be left with a realisation that the only way to defeat such oppression is to stand up to it and refuse to be treated like children any longer.
Clare Rewcastle Brown is the founder-editor of SarawakReport and an FMT columnist.
Source: Free Malaysia Today

Overseas Malaysians file suit against EC


A group of Malaysians working overseas have filed an application in the Kuala Lumpur High Court to compel the Election Commission (EC) to register them as voters.

The six, all of who work in the UK, had applied to be registered as absent voters in order to be able to vote in the 13th general election.

NONEThey were instead registered by the EC as ordinary voters, who must return to Malaysia to vote in person.

One of the litigants, Dr Teo Hoon Seong, said in a statement that the right to vote is the fundamental cornerstone of democracy.

“It is the absolute duty of government to ensure that each and every citizen is treated equally within the law in a manner which allows them to exercise this right.”Current regulations allow only overseas civil servants, full-time students, members of the armed forces, and their spouses to register as absent voters.

One of the litigants, Dr Teo Hoon Seong, said in a statement today that the right to vote is the fundamental cornerstone of democracy.

“It is the absolute duty of government to ensure that each and every citizen is treated equally within the law in a manner which allows them to exercise this right.”

MyOverseasVote, a lobby group for overseas Malaysian voters that supports the litigation, said few Malaysian expatriates are able to fly back to vote on short notice.

bersih rally in perth 3"And why should they have to, when the EC is already organising diplomatic pouches to send postal ballots to Malaysian embassies and consulates in London, Sydney, New York, Hong Kong, Tokyo, etc., to enable government servants and students to vote?” asked the group.

On August 25, EC chairperson Abdul Aziz Yusof said the rules are currently being amended to allow all overseas Malaysians to vote via post.

However, the litigants said that action had not been forthcoming, and are seeking to compel the EC to amend the regulations within 14 days.

The suit was filed at the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Tuesday last week. The court has set Nov 14 to hear the application for judicial review.

"It’s time for us to be allowed a stake in our countries future. I want all Malaysians to remember this: the government works for us, not the other way round," said Teo.

Source: Malaysiakini

Section 15 of UUCA unconstitutional, rules court


The Court of Appeal today ruled that Section 15 (5) of the Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA) is unconstitutional and violates freedom of expression.
The provision allows public universities to take disciplinary action against students found to be involved in political activities.
ukm 4 challenge auku uuca 280910 bannersIn a landmark majority decision, two Court of Appeal judges overturned the Kuala Lumpur High Court decision that declared the UUCA as constitutional in imposing restrictions.

Today's ruling was a majority decision.
Justice Mohd Hishamudin Mohd Yunus and Justice Linton Albert allowed the appeal by four former Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) students.

Justice Low Hop Bing, who led the three-member panel, dissented.

Low upheld the KL High Court's decision on Sept 28 last year, ruling Section 15(5) of the UUCA as being in accordance with the federal constitution.

The four students had sought a declaration that the UUCA is unconstitutional. Their application had been dismissed by the Kuala Lumpur High Court’s Appellate and Special Powers Division.

The High Court’s Justice Aziah Ali ruled that Section 15 of the UUCA does not infringe Article 10 of the federal constitution which deals with freedom of expression.
NONEMohd Hilman Idham, Ismail Aminuddin, Azlin Shafina Mohamad Adza and Wong King Chai had been arrested by police during the Hulu Selangor by-election campaign for taking part in political events, an activity barred by the UUCA.

Popularly dubbed the ‘UKM Four’, they had faced disciplinary proceeding initiated by the university on July 4 this year.

However, they were found not guilty by the board. All political science students, they graduated last month. The four students had named the Malaysian government, the higher education minister and UKM as the respondents.
NONEWhat the decision means is that university students can now freely express their opinions as long as they do not violate public security.
The four UKM students were represented by lawyers Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, Ashok Kandiah and Jenine Gill.

UKM, which was represented by Muhammad Shafee Abdullah (
left), has indicated that they will appeal the decision.
'For all individuals to enjoy'
Justice Hishamudin, in his 21-page judgment, wrote that freedom of expression is a fundamental right that all individuals should enjoy.

"It is fundamental to the existence of democracy and the respect of human dignity. This basic right is recognised in numerous human rights documents such as Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

"Free speech is accorded pre-eminent status in the constitutions of many countries."

Hishamudin said he fails to see how the section of the UUCA in question relates to public order or morality.

"I am at a loss to understand in what manner a student, who expresses support for, or opposition against a political party, could harm or bring about an adverse effect in public order or public morality," he said.

"Are not political parties legal entities carrying out legitimate political activities? Are not political leaders, including ministers and members of the federal and state legislatures, members of political parties?"

He said most university students are of the age of majority.
NONE"They can enter into contracts. They can sue and be sued. They can marry, become parents and undertake parental responsibilities. They can vote in general elections if they are 21 years old. They can be directors of company. They can be office-bearers of societies.

“Yet - and herein lies the irony - they are told that legally they cannot say anything that can be construed as supporting or opposing a political party," he noted.

Justice Hishamudin said that, in his opinion, Section 15 impedes the healthy development of the critical mind and original thought of students - objectives that seats of higher learning should strive to achieve.

"Universities should be the breeding ground of reformers and thinkers and not institutions to produce students trained as robots. Clearly the provision is not only counter-productive but repressive in nature."
Hishamudin also noted that in the parliamentary Hansard cited by the senior federal counsel representing the government, there was no mention of public order or morality.Linton: Section 15 manifest absurdity

Justice Linton in his 15 page written judgment described the enactment of section 15 (5) (a) of UUCA as of manifest absurdity.

“It is not necessary to embark on a judicial scrutiny to determine its reasonableness because it is in itself not reasonable. What better illustration can there be of the utter absurdity of Section 15 (5) (a) than the facts of this case where students of universities and university colleges face disciplinary proceedings with the grim prospect of expulsion simply because of their presence at a parliamentary by-election.”

“A legislative enactment that prohibits such participation in a vital aspect of democracy cannot by any standard be said to be reasonable. In my judgment therefore because of its unreasonableness, section 15 (5) (a) of the UUCA does not come within the restrictions permitted under Article 10 (2) (a) of the federal constitution and is accordingly in violation of Article 10 (1) (1) and consequently void by virtue of Article 4(1) of the federal constitution.”

He pointed out Article 4 (1) states the constitution is the supreme law of the federation and any law passed after Merdeka Day which is inconsistent with this constitution shall to the extent of the inconsistency be void.

“Notwithstanding the presumption of constitutionality of a legislative enactment and the rule that the court must endeavour to sustain its validity, the validity of Section 15 (5) (a) of the UUCA is nevertheless patently unsustainable,” he said.

“For the reasons aforesaid, the appeal (by the students) is allowed with costs. The orders made by the High Court are set aside. The declarations prayed for in the appellants originating summons are according allowed,” he said.

Following the majority judgment, lawyer Ashok Kandiah, representing the students, asked that costs not be imposed as this was a vital case.

Justice Low made no order as to costs and noted Shafee’s application to appeal the matter at the Federal Court.

Certainly today’s decision manifests the university students’ rights to freedom of expression as protected under the constitution. It is seen to have severe ramifications on university administrations which so far had restrict students’ involvement, especially in opposition politics.
Judgements
Mohd Hishamudin Mohd Yunus
Linton Albert
Low Hop Bing
VIDEO| 4.19 mins

Source: Malaysiakini

Sunday, October 30, 2011

From zero to hero: Pakatan states prove their mettle in financial management

Written by  Moaz Nair, Malaysia Chronicle



The debt of the country has risen to RM407 billion. National debt is up by 12 per cent while foreign debt has risen by 22 per cent. We have yet to see an efficient delivery system and good governance of the country. When taxpayers’ money is used without proper accountability the government in charge has to answer to the electorate. Almost for all the past years it had been officially reported of numerous cases of mismanagement of public funds by irresponsible and incompetent government bodies and agencies.

Ironically, no obvious and harsh actions have been taken against the wrongdoers for reasons only the incumbent government would know.

54 years in power

Despite being in power for over 5 decades the Auditor-General’s Report 2010, which was released 17 “mysterious” days late, has shown numerous cases of how taxpayers’ money was not managed watchfully by the responsible bodies. Financial management has gone through defects and leakages and this has caused a great financial loss to the country.

The Report showed that most of the failed cases involved contracts which were awarded without open tender where a substantial sum of money was unnecessarily involved. The contract prices offered were unnecessarily high and not competitive and the process of awarding lacked transparency, which would naturally proffer less value for money. In numerous other cases, the procurement process - even through submitted tenders - saw prices of quoted items bloated many times higher than the market price. Yet the deals went through for some “mysterious” reasons. Numerous such cases have caused barefaced misappropriation of allocated fund to the ministries involved. Among the many shortcomings in the delivery system involved huge sum contracts given to those who had little experience in the related business.

Money was promised to the farmers

The electorate are keen to know - as shown in the Auditor-General’s (AG) Report - what happened to the RM110.67 million owed to 73,291 farmers under a special scheme to boost a high rice production. The Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry was reported as still owing the RM110million worth of incentives promised to paddy farmers. The money was promised to the farmers who were successful in increasing their rice production.

According to the Report, the farmers were eligible to receive RM341.29 million between January 2007 and January 2010. Bernas (PadiBernas Nasional Berhad), which controls 24 percent of the race market and 45 percent of the local rice demand, only managed to pay incentives worth RM230.62 million at end 2010. The cited reason in the Report was “lack of funds”. The electorate, however, would want to know where the taxpayer’s money amounting to RM110 has gone to.

Poor management and incompetency

A RM73.64 million beef-cattle government project Valley – involving a farmland of 5, 000 acres in Gemas - has not lived up to its mark. The NFC (National Feedlot Centre) is a joint-venture between Negri Sembilan and Federal Government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry (MoA) to commercially produce more beef domestically and cut down import of meat.

The farmland is now overgrown with shrubs and bushes The project must be handled by those who know little about cattle industry. The AG’s Report showed that the NFC which was set up in 2008 failed to meet the target of breeding 8,000 cattle last year. The Report showed only 41.1 percent (3,289) was produced. Poor management was cited as the reason for this failure, such as poor use and maintenance of its facilities. The electorate would want to know why and who the incompetent people managing this project were, as it involved a huge sum of taxpayers’ money.

Even the Public Service Department (PSD) was not spared by the AG’s Report. More than RM4.5 million was overpaid to pensioners – both alive and dead - from 2007 to 2010. The Report found that one of the reasons for overpaid pension was that the records on the pensioners’ deaths were not correctly updated in the Post Service Department’s (BP) computer system. The electorate deserve to know why such an incompetency among government servants when it involves taxpayer’s money.

Contractors had shoddy track records

Contractors given the responsibility to provide services to the government gave some implausible excuses such as lack of expertise, no spare parts and that they could not find what was the problem with a vehicle. This smacks of incompetency on the part of those who were awarded contracts. According to AG’s report some of these contractors had shoddy track records. One company took more than a year to repair and return a towing truck to a ministry. Despite so many reminders by the AG’s Office, the Defence Ministry still kept irresponsible contractors to provide services to them. It was reported that 10 disreputable contractors were awarded RM67 million for work delays despite being notified by the AG’s Office. These were the type of contractors awarded multi-million ringgit projects under the Ministry of Defence. The electorate would want to know how this could be possible as it involves projects worth millions of ringgit and the money is from the taxpayers.

The Report also mentioned that these companies recorded various levels of delay in repairing the Air Force’s Aviation Ground Support Vehicles (AGSV). The ministry did nothing more than issue these disreputable contractors warning letters. Surprisingly their contracts were extended till Dec 6 2010 when their contracts were supposed to expire on June 5. It noted four companies most disreputable for their delay in delivery of repaired vehicles. The electorate would want to know why these contractors were given special treatments.


Standard procedures were not adhered to

According to the AG’s Report, the ultimate budget allocations for 2010 increased to RM149.06 billion from the initial allocation of RM138.28 billion. This was an increase of RM10.78 billion. However, this amount was still insufficient to cover the operating expenses for 2010 that came to RM151.63 billion – RM2.57 billion more than that was allocated. The standard procedures were not adhered to by some ministries and departments when they spent more than what was allocated. It was reported that there were 138 weaknesses in financial management involving RM360.96 million. 75 cases of overspending their operating allocation totalling RM306.01 million involved 14 ministries and departments encompassing payments for services, procurements, increased activities and unscheduled payments. In some cases equipment such as computers, LCDs and other utilities and office equipment ware were bought at bloated prices. The electorate would want to know why the standard operating and procurement procedures were not adhered to in these situations that resulted in huge loss in taxpayers’ money.

Direct bookings instead open tenders

The AG’ Report stated that the Tourism Ministry overpaid nearly RM270 million for advertisements when it opted to use direct bookings instead of open tenders. This procedure itself breached the Treasury’s regulations. It was stated that an open tender would have seen its advertising spending cost RM75 38 million. The ministry also spent RM195 million to buy 1000 racks – RM1 950 per rack - to hold its tourism pamphlets for the Visit Malaysia Year 2007 campaign done without the treasury’s approval. It was also unable to confirm the distribution of 22 of the 1 000 racks as the ministry could not supply the note of delivery as proof of claim while another 127 racks were also not accounted for. It noted the ministry’s explanation that 622 racks had been distributed to hotels, 127 were “expired” by the contracted company due to “financial complications” and lack of storage space and as many as 85 racks were locked in the company’s storage hold.

The above cited incompetence and gross financial mismanagement cases that have sapped taxpayers’ money are just the tip of the iceberg. Going through the AG Report could see copious cases in government’s financial and management negligence. The electorate are not too pleased with the government that has been there for almost 6 decades and yet not being able to draw from experience on how to address many of the weaknesses found in the delivery system. These misdemeanors and wastage have indubitably involved taxpayers’ hard earned money.

Only 3 years in power

The Opposition-ruled states have proved to be more prudent in managing taxpayers’ money despite still being new to governance and the Federal Government often giving them a cold-shoulder.
The Selangor state government received an overall ‘satisfactory’ rating from the Auditor General for its financial position ending 2010. The state has been extolled in the report for its good performance in decreasing public debts. Public dept dropped by RM58.91 million whereas loan repayment areas were reduced by RM173..47 million. The Report showed that in 2010, the state’s debt to the Federal government had decreased by 5.5% (RM58.91 million) – from RM1,004.64 million (2010 ) compared to RM1,063.55million (2009). The loan repayment arrears were reduced by 20.9% from RM829.86 million (2009) to RM656.39 million (2010).

It was reported that the state’s consolidated revenue increased by RM266.91 million or 20.2 percent, from RM1,319.97 million in 2009 to RM1,586.88 million in 2010. This is despite the state registering a 10.9 percent or RM192.36 million drop to RM1,571.50 million in state’s revenue in 2009 (RM1,763.86 million). The operating expenditure had also decreased by RM382.56 million or (20.9 percent) to RM1,447.26 million in 2010 compared to RM1,829.82 million in 2009, The state government was commended for reduction in revenue arrears by RM99.87 million or 16.6 percent, from RM601.92 million in 2009 to RM502.05 million in 2010.

The Report rated as 'very good' the financial management for four state agencies - the State Treasury, Ampang Jaya Municipal Council, Selayang Municipal Council, and Urban and Rural Planning Department. According to the report, 11 agencies were ‘good’ and one agency was 'satisfactory'. This marked an improvement compared to 2009, where only one agency was listed as ‘very good’, 14 as ‘good’ and one satisfactory.

The Kedah state government achieved a 135.8 percent increase in state revenue with a record surplus budget for 2010 at RM22.50 million, compared to deficit of RM62.89 million in 2009. The state expenditure only increased by RM2.55 million or 0.6 percent. This attributed to a surplus for the state government in 2010. The Report rated Kedah’s financial position as satisfactory with a consolidated revenue increase of 23.9, from RM265.52 million to RM328.28 million in 2009. This increase has reduced the balance of the Consolidated Revenue Account deficit in 2010 by a total of RM22.50 million or 7 percent, from RM320.73 million down to RM298.23 in 2009.

The Report also praises the state government for improving the financial management of its agencies compared to 2009, with four agencies getting the ‘very good’ rate, 12 ‘good’ and one as 'satisfactory'. Overall, the financial management of the state’s agencies improved compared to 2009.

The AG’s Report has rated the Kelantan state government’s financial position in 2010 as satisfactory. The state saw a revenue increase of RM51.07 million or 52.5 percent, from RM97.23 million in 2009 to RM148.30 million in 2010. Scrutiny of 5 years into the consolidated revenue from 2006 to 2010 revealed a drop in 2007 and 2008 and then increase in 2009 and 2010. Cash reserves and investment increased in 2010, with the balance of RM97.23 million in 2009 increasing to RM148.30 million in 2010.

The Report lauded financial management of all government agencies in Kelantan, with four state agencies being rated as ‘very good’ and the other 15 as ‘good’. This indicates improvement in financial management of the state compared to 2009 where only two agencies were rated as ‘very good’ and 12 as ‘good’.

The Penang state government was highly commended in the AG’s Report for its improved financial position in 2010 compared to 2009. Penang's consolidated revenue increased by 2.7 percent, from RM1,101.89 million for 2009 to RM1,131.17 million in 2010. The consolidated cash reserve increased by 6.2 percent to RM572.49 million, up from RM538.95 million in 2009. The state’s revenue for 2010 had increased by RM34.19 million or 9.1 percent compared to 2009 from RM376.51 million to RM410.70 million.

On development under the Ninth Malaysia Plan, the Report rated the state’s performance as satisfactory with a total of RM787.17 or 77.8 percent being spent from the allocated RM1.01 billion. In terms of implementation of projects, the report praised the state's performance as 'very good' with 99 percent of the 9,003 projects successfully carried out.

In 2010, 3 agencies were in ‘very good’ category. 10 agencies were considered ‘good’ and one at satisfactory level. For three successive years, 13 state agencies audited at least twice between 2007 to 2010 have shown ‘very good’ financial management by the state treasury and development body. The report concluded that the financial management of state agencies remained good for 2010.

The gulf of difference in governance

54 years of governance by Barisan Nasional (BN) have not made much impact in reducing weaknesses in the financial management of the country. The lack of competency, accountability and transparency has caused huge sum of taxpayers’ money being abused. Since the electorate are seeing the same weaknesses every year in the past, they have all the rights to voice and protest against such gross incompetence by the incumbent government. On the contrary, It takes a mere 3 years of efficient governance by Pakatan-controlled states – Penang, Selangor, Kedah - and human uprightness in the state government of Kelantan to see tremendous financial success despite all the difficulties these states have to wade through and confront with politically. The Federal government under Barisan Nasional may not be too responsive to the needs of these states, yet the latter have managed to prove to the electorate that with honesty and integrity they could manage the states and taxpayers’ money better and with success.

Malaysia Chronicle

Sikap tidak konsisten terhadap institusi Raja

Jika tahun 1993 mereka menghapuskan kekebalan raja-raja, kali ini tahun 2011 mereka bermati-matian menyokong dan melindungi institusi tersebut.

 
Oleh Idzuafi Hadi Kamilan
 
Penulis kali ini mengambil pendirian yang cukup berhati-hati untuk menulis isu ini setelah apa yang berlaku terhadap Profesor Dr Abdul Aziz Bari apabila teguran beliau di dalam Malaysiakini dilihat sebagai mengaibkan dan menghina Sultan Selangor Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah

Ini mengenai titah Tuanku berhubung serbuan yang dibuat terhadap Gereja Methodist Damansara Utama (DUMC) oleh Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor (Jais).

Justeru, penulis memulakan pandangan ini berdasarkan pendekatan historis dan perbandingan di mana merujuk apa yang telah tertulis di dalam Hansard Parlimen supaya tulisan ini berautoriti dan dilihat dan diangkat sebagai pandangan akademik semata-mata berdasarkan rujukan penulis sahaja.
Pelbagai konotasi ditimbulkan khususnya di meja Utusan Malaysia dan beberapa badan bukan kerajaan (NGO) apabila Aziz Bari menerangkan kenyataannya.

Apa yang ditimbulkan Utusan Malaysia, mantan perdana menteri Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad dan seangkatan dengannya menyebabkan penulis merujuk kembali Penyata Rasmi parlimen pada tanggal 18 Januari 1993.

Ketika itu Dr Mahathir membentangkan Pindaan Perlembagaan berhubung kekebalan Raja-raja yang membawa kepada peruntukan pindaan perlembagaan terhadap Perkara 181 (2) di mana immuniti raja-raja ditarik balik dan raja/sultan boleh dibawa dan dibicarakan di Mahkamah Khas sesuai dengan peruntukan baru yang digubal dalam Perkara 183.

Ketika mana bacaan kali kedua dibentangkan ini, Dr Mahathir telah berhujah ketika membentangkan rang pindaan tersebut dengan katanya ‘menegur dan mengkritik Raja kita tidak bermakna ia akan menghapuskan kedaulatan Raja-raja Melayu’.

Media massa serang institusi Raja

Walau pun begitu serangan-serangan terhadap institusi Raja-raja telah pun di palu beberapa bulan sebelum itu dengan media massa memainkan peranan yang penting.

Ketika itu segala-galanya seolah-olah ‘dihalalkan’ oleh kerajaan untuk mengkritik Raja-raja Melayu jauh lebih berat tentang apa yang diungkap Aziz Bari ketika ini.

Menyorot kembali lapan tahun (1984) sebelum itu, apabila Karpal Singh cuba membawa isu yang sama dalam dewan Parlimen berhubung salah laku seorang Sultan di Malaysia. Beliau telah dikenakan tatatertib dan tidak dibenarkan hadir ke Parlimen sehingga akhir sesi.

Justeru, diposisi mana kerajaan pemerintah berpihak sebenarnya? Mengangkat dan mempertahankan Raja-raja Melayu atau memalukannya?

Jika dilihat berdasarkan kronologi sejarah, Sultan hanya diangkat dan dipertahankan apabila terdapatnya merit terhadap kerajaan pemerintah.

Aziz Bari tidak perlu diperkenalkan lagi apabila menyebut tentang Perlembagaan Persekutuan. Beliau yang menulis tesis PhDnya di Birmingham University bertajuk ‘The Development and Role of Constitutional Monarchy’ (1996) dan sudah menulis hampir 200 artikel journal dan kertas kerja berhubung Perlembagaan Malaysia pastinya arif dengan bidang kepakaran beliau.

Namun, kenyataan beliau menjadi kontroversi apabila disanggah beberapa orang yang tidak ‘cerdik’ berhubung komentar beliau mengenai titah Sultan Selangor mengenai serbuan terhadap DUMC.

Kenyataan Aziz Bari

Apa yang diungkap Aziz Bari bahawa tindakan Sultan Selangor campur tangan berhubung isu pemeriksaan gereja tersebut bukan sesuatu tindakan yang lazim.

Sebagai ketua agama Islam negeri itu baginda mempunyai hak untuk campur tangan tetapi ia perlu dilakukan selaras dengan ajaran Islam. Selain itu, beliau dilihat cuba menyatakan tindakan Sultan ini tidak konsisten.
Jarang sekali kita melihat Yang Dipertuan Agong, Raja atau Sultan mengeluarkan kenyataan begitu spesifik berhubung sesuatu isu yang melibatkan rakyat.

Kebiasaannya kenyataan Raja atau Sultan hanya dilihat ketika pembukaan Dewan Parlimen atau Dewan Undangan Negeri di mana kebiasaannya teks itu disediakan kerajaan yang memerintah.
Justeru, bila baginda bertitah terhadap sesuatu isu yang spesifik itu walaupun baginda mempunyai hak namun itu yang dikatakan sesuatu tindakan yang tidak lazim.

Namun persoalannya sama ada kenyataan beliau (Aziz Bari) terhadap titah Sultan boleh didakwa di bawah peruntukan undang-undang boleh dilihat dan dirungkai sepertimana di bawah iaitu:

Kecenderungan menghasut dikatakan apabila Seksyen 3 di dalam Akta Hasutan 1948 menyatakan bahawa seseorang boleh didakwa apabila ada kecenderungan (a) bagi mendatangkan kebencian atau penghinaan atau bagi membangkitkan perasaan tidak setia terhadap mana-mana Raja atau Kerajaan atau (d) bagi menimbulkan perasaan tidak puas hati atau tidak setia di kalangan rakyat Yang di-Pertuan Agong atau rakyat Raja mana-mana Negeri atau di kalangan penduduk Malaysia atau penduduk mana-mana Negeri.

Berdasarkan peruntukan undang-undang sedia ada ini, maka seharusnya ia juga perlu dibaca bersama-sama dengan Perkara 63 (5) Perlembagaan Persekutuan di mana dakwaan terhadap seseorang itu hanya boleh disabitkan ke atas beliau jika sekiranya ia menganjurkan atau membangkitkan perasaan ke arah penghapusan institusi Raja-raja.

Justeru, ia bermaksud jika warganegara itu cuba menyarankan atau membuat apa-apa tindakan ke arah ingin menghapuskan sistem beraja maka Seksyen 3, Akta Hasutan harus dikena pakai ke atasnya.

Bagi pandangan penulis, tidak salah beliau memberikan komentar sesuai dengan bidang kepakaran beliau. Pada masa yang sama harus kita ingat kita tidak lagi berada di dalam kekuasaan raja yang berkuasa mutlak sepertimana di ungkap oleh Sir Robert Filmer dalam Patriarcha ‘Natural Power of a King’ (1680).

Malahan kita harus menerima kita hidup di dalam sebuah kerajaan yang mengamalkan sistem demokratik yang dihujahkan John Locke dalam ‘Two Treatises of Government’ yang juga pengkritik hebat buku Filmer tersebut.

Kuasa Raja

John Locke berhujah dalam keadaan di mana sistem demokratik mengambil alih tanggungjawab kerajaan daripada sebuah sistem pemerintahan feudal maka rakyat juga seolah-olah telah menyerahkan hak untuk memerintah dan diperintah di bawah sistem demokrasi. Oleh itu, kuasa Raja telah dilimitasikan dengan cara sebegitu.

Jika dirujuk kenyataan Aziz Bari itu dengan apa yang dilakukan kerajaan pemerintah ketika krisis Perlembagaan pada tahun 1993 itu lebih teruk namun tiada siapa peduli institusi raja pada ketika itu.
Ini kerana menurut Prof. Mark R. Gillen dalam artikelnya yang bertajuk ’The Malay Rulers’ Loss of Immunity’ menyebut kerajaan pemerintah ketika itu parti yang sedang mendapat sokongan rakyat yang majoritinya Melayu menunjukkan sokongan bertambah dari rakyatnya khususnya apabila berhadapan isu yang melibatkan Sultan dan raja Melayu. Oleh itu, segenap lapisan masyarakat hampir dikatakan menyokong tindakan Barisan Nasional ketika itu. Namun apa yang pasti, berdasarkan pemerhatian Gillen, salah perkiraan pada tahun 1993 akan menghilangkan undi masyarakat Melayu memandangkan institusi Raja dekat dihati rakyat.

Oleh itu apabila fenomena ‘Aziz Bari’ berlaku sekali lagi berkemungkinan mereka mengharapkan sokongan majoriti orang Melayu terhadap apa yang pernah dilakukan mereka walau pun keadaan telah terbalik 360 darjah di mana jika tahun 1993 mereka menghapuskan kekebalan raja-raja, kali ini tahun 2011 mereka bermati-matian menyokong dan melindungi institusi tersebut.

Untunglah Raja-raja kita, kita mempunyai rakyat sedemikian rupa……

*Penulis ialah seorang calon doktor falsafah di Fakulti Undang-Undang UKM dan juga Setiausaha Grup Peguam Abim.