Inconsistencies and incompetence in handling the flight MH370 disappearance is showing that 50 years under one coalition and tight control over information is a mismatch for Malaysia in handling a rapidly growing crisis followed across the world, Bloomberg reported today.
It said China was calling on Malaysia to be more transparent as “Prime Minister (Datuk Seri) Najib Razak lets his cousin, acting Transport Minister (Datuk Seri) Hishammuddin Hussein, be the face of the investigation” into why a Malaysia Airlines plane vanished on March 8.
The Boeing 777-200ER jet was en route to Beijing with 239 people onboard when it went missing. Investigators from at least nine countries are trying to locate the jet.
“They’re handling a huge global issue as if it was domestic politics,” said Clive Kessler, Emeritus Professor of Sociology and Anthropology at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, who has analysed the nation’s politics for half a century.
“With the cause of the disappearance still unknown, you can understand the need for discretion and caution but it’s being perceived in Malaysia and elsewhere in the region as a bid to hide the truth.
“Najib’s administration is sending the message that people should let the ‘government tell them what they need to know, when they need to know it, and not before’,” Kessler said.
“That’s the way they’ve acted for generations and they are starting to find out it doesn’t work any more.”
Bloomberg pointed out that Najib’s Umno leads the coalition ruling the Southeast Asian nation.
“Only in recent years has it seen a move towards more competitive elections, in some districts, that put a premium on public speaking. The government’s lack of a clear message, compounded by a series of
false leads on the plane’s whereabouts and questions on coordination, risks undermining its image internationally,” the report said.
Many newspapers and television networks in Malaysia are controlled by the government directly or indirectly.
And Najib, 60, has yet to make good on a pledge to replace the nation’s Sedition Act with legislation that would protect free speech while preventing incitement of religious or ethnic hatred, the news agency said.
The law, which dates back to 1948 when Malaysia was under British control, mandates jail sentences of at least three years for words deemed seditious, including those that “excite dissatisfaction” against the government.
Government-controlled Malaysia Airlines said in a statement yesterday it would “continue to be transparent in communicating with the general public via the media” on all matters affecting flight 370.
Nations searching for the plane had little to go on with no distress calls, emergency-beacon signals, bad weather or other signs why an airliner would lose touch in one of the safest phases of flight.
Air patrols resumed for a fifth day as planes and ships prowled waters on both sides of the peninsula after failing to find debris along the jet’s route.
The discovery that two passengers boarded the missing flight using stolen passports raised concern about Malaysia’s immigration security practices, the Bloomberg report said.
“The Malaysian side cannot shirk its responsibilities,” the Global Times, a Chinese government-controlled newspaper, said in an editorial on Monday.
“The initial response from Malaysia was not swift enough. There are loopholes in the work of Malaysia Airlines and security authorities.”
Faced with pressure from families of the 153 Chinese nationals who were on the flight, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang for a second day yesterday noted the lack of progress in finding the Boeing 777-200.
“We once again request and urge the Malaysia side to enhance and strengthen rescue and searching efforts,” Qin told reporters in Beijing.
“The Chinese government is under quite a lot of pressure,” said Xu Liping, senior fellow at the National Institute of International Strategy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing.
Ordinary people in China feel the investigation “has not been professional”.
Broader ties between Malaysia and China probably won’t suffer, he said, citing a phone conversation between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Najib on March 8 about the missing flight.
“This channel has been unimpeded.”
China accounted for RM8.262 billion of Malaysia’s exports in January, the second-largest amount after Singapore.
Malaysia approved US$920 million (RM3.03 billion) of foreign investment from China in the manufacturing sector in 2013, up from US$646 million the year earlier, according to the Malaysian Investment Development Authority, the report said.
Najib’s government has a RM1.4 trillion 10-year plan to build roads, ports and utilities plants to elevate the country to developed-nation status by 2020.
It is understandable that Najib doesn’t want a high profile in this situation given his cautious personality, said Joseph Liow, associate dean of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.
“He’s not one who would go to the front of the camera and do lots of chest thumping and wave the flag and all that without being certain that there’s substantive” progress in the investigation, he was quoted as saying by Bloomberg.
“Hisham is very different from his cousin. He’s someone who is not uncomfortable with the limelight,” he said, referring to Hishammuddin.
Hishammuddin, 52, has been the acting minister since the general election last May.
He is unable to formally take the role given internal coalition rules on which party assumes particular posts in cabinet. Other Asian leaders have faced questions for not reacting to crises immediately.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino was criticised for taking two days to visit victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan last year.
So was China’s former premier, Wen Jiabao, when he took more than two weeks to visit the site of the country’s worst snow storms in 50 years in 2008. In the US, president George W. Bush was criticised for his handling of damage caused by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 after he remained on holiday as New Orleans flooded.
He cut short the break by two days to survey the damage from the air, something he later said was a “huge mistake” since it made him look “detached and uncaring”.
Najib needs to assure Malaysians and the international community that his government was doing all it can, said Vishnu Varathan, an economist at Mizuho Bank Ltd in Singapore.
“What could have been done was the prime minister delegating the transport secretary to locating the plane and assigning one other person in charge of investigating the security breach and another to handle international relations,” Bloomberg quoted him as saying.
“It’s not easy to convey all that is happening in the background and the government needs to highlight these things.”
Compounding the image that authorities leading the investigation were struggling to communicate effectively, Malaysian Airlines issued three versions of a press statement yesterday to correct several errors. One was a reference to an “expensive” rescue operation, which it meant to call “extensive”.
“There are big issues – transparency, information sharing, questions associated with security,” said Bridget Welsh, a political science professor at Singapore Management University.
“They are not in control of the discussion and the problem is they’re not instilling confidence. Everyone wants to give them the benefit of the doubt but this is a crisis of credibility for the administration.”
Najib postponed a trip to Mauritius, according to the state-run news service Bernama. He also met the families of the crew from the missing plane at Kuala Lumpur International Airport, his press office said on Twitter on March 8.
“I assure you we are doing everything possible within our means,” Najib said on Twitter on March 9. “We thank you for your prayers, assistance and show of solidarity.”
Najib’s office directed queries on China’s concerns about the handling of the incident to authorities involved in the investigation.
Hishammuddin, who is also defence minister, was elected a vice-president of Umno in October, putting him in line to possibly succeed Najib. He is the nephew of Malaysia’s second prime minister, Najib’s father, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein.
“It’s a lack of experience, anybody would be tested,” said Welsh.
“This is Hisham’s test, and Najib’s government’s test.” Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who led the country through the 1998 Asian financial crisis, “was a stronger leader,” said Liow.
Dr Mahathir responded with capital controls when investors fled Asian economies during the crisis.
He called billionaire financier George Soros a “moron” who was trying to destroy growth through speculative attacks on the currency.
In honouring its end of the water restructuring deal with the Selangor government, the federal government will exercise its powers to coerce Selangor water concessionaires to accept the RM9.65 billion acquisition offer by the state.
The Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry said it will exercise its rights under the Water Services Industry Act 2006 (WSIA).
This comes after three of four water concessionaires rejected the offer.
“In line with the terms of the MOU, the federal government through the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water shall now pursue the exercise of its rights and powers under the WSIA as well as any other relevant acts, statutes or regulations to assist the state government in implementing the proposed restructuring and consolidation of the Selangor water supply industry.
“This includes invoking Section 114 of WSIA in order to address issues of national interest to ensure security, sustainability and viability of the water supply industry in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya,” read a joint statement issued by the ministry and Menteri Besar’s Office today.
The move was agreed upon following a meeting between minister Dr Maximus Johnity Ongkili (above) and Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim today.
Yesterday, concessionaires Puncak Niaga Sdn Bhd, Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas) and Syarikat Pengeluar Air Selangor Holdings (Splash) rejected the RM9.65 billion offer by Selangor state investment arm Kumpulan Darul Ehsan Berhad (KDEB).
Only state government’s subsidiary Konsortium Abass Sdn Bhd (Abass) gave the nod to the offer which will see the Selangor government take control of its equity and debts.
Under the deal inked on Feb 26, Selangor agreed to allow the federal government to construct the Langat 2 water treatment plant, in exchange for being allowed to acquire water facilities from the private concessionaires.
Many, including Pakatan Rakyat leaders have expressed reservation over the deal, largely seen as biased towards the federal government.
Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua had previously warned that the state can deny necessary approvals needed for Langat 2 to proceed should the federal government “fail to cajole” the water companies to sell their concessions back at the agreed sum.
- Mar 11, 2014
KUALA LUMPUR: Sementara Kerajaan Negeri Selangor menunjukkan komitmen tinggi untuk menyelesaikan kemelut air di negeri itu dengan menandatangani Memorandum Persefahaman (MoU), namun Kerajaan Pusat dilihat mula ‘bermain wayang’.
Semalam, 10 Mac merupakan tarikh akhir bagi empat syarikat konsesi air iaitu Puncak Niaga Sdn Bhd (PNSB), Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn. Bhd. dan Syarikat Pengeluar Air Selangor Sdn. Bhd. (Splash) dan Konsortium ABBAS Sdn. Bhd. untuk memberi jawapan balas terhadap tawaran pengambilalihan RM9.65 bilion dari kerajaan negeri.
Bagaimanapun dalam laporan Bursa Malaysia semalam menyebut, tiga daripada syarikat konsesi itu iaitu Splash, PNSB dan Syabas menolak tawaran itu dan hanya ABBAS menerimanya.
Splash didakwa menolak terus tawaran itu manakala PNSB dan Syabas menolaknya dengan bersyarat.
Adalah menjadi tanggungjawab kerajaan pusat untuk memastikan kesemua syarikat konsesi ini menerima tawaran kerajaan negeri seperti yang diputuskan dan dipersetujui dalam MoU yang ditandatangan kedua-dua pihak 26 Februari lalu.
Ahli Parlimen DAP Petaling Jaya Utara, Tony Pua berkata dengan kegagalan kerajaan pusat ‘memujuk’ syarikat konsesi itu, maka kerajaan negeri Selangor tidak perlu lagi mempercepat kelulusan untuk penerusan pembinaan projek Langat 2.
Ianya termasuk kelulusan seperti hak tanah, kebenaran akses dan permit lain biarpun ianya perlu dibuat dalam tempoh 30 hari dari menandatangani MoU itu .
“Seperti yang dinyatakan diatas, kerajaan persekutuan telah gagal untuk memujuk syarikat konsesi ini untuk menerima tawaran di atas .
“(Oleh itu) Kerajaan Negeri Selangor tidak lagi perlu untuk memberikan semua kelulusan tambahan yang diperlukan Langat 2 untuk hak tanah, kebenaran akses dan permit lain,” kata beliau dalam satu kenyataan.
MoU air Selangor dan Pusat ditandatangan oleh Abdul Khalid dan Menteri Tenaga, Air dan Teknologi Hijau Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili bulan lepas dengan disaksikan oleh Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Di bawah MoU itu, Selangor akan mengambil alih operasi empat syarikat konsesi air – SYARIKAT Bekalan Air Selangor Bhd (Syabas) , Puncak Niaga Sdn Bhd ( PNSB ), Konsortium Abbas Sdn Bhd dan SYARIKAT Pengeluar Air Selangor Holdings Bhd (Splash ) – dan letakkan bawah milik Kumpulan Darul Ehsan Sdn Bhd
Sebagai pertukaran, Selangor bersetuju untuk meluluskan perintah pembangunan bagi loji rawatan air Langat 2 dan memastikan semua kelulusan yang diperlukan akan diberikan dalam tempoh 30 hari dari tarikh MoU dimeterai.
“Kini terpulang kepada kerajaan persekutuan untuk mengumumkan komitmennya dengan mengumumkan bahawa ia akan segera menjalankan semua kuasanya di bawah Akta Industri Perkhidmatan Air (WSIA ), terutamanya menggunakan Fasal 114 untuk mengambil alih secara wajib syarikat-syarikat air ini berdasarkan model pampasan yang dinyatakan di dalam perjanjian konsesi, “kata Pua.
Sementara itu, AJK PAS Pusat Dr Dzulkifly Ahmad pula berkata, penolakan tawaran oleh syarikat konsesi itu menunjukkan bahawa kerajaan negeri berisiko “dipermainkan” oleh Pusat.
Ianya sekaligus akan menjejaskan kepentingan rakyat negeri Selangor, kata Dzulkefly lagi.
“Saya menyokong penuh pandangan Tony Pua. Ternyata pusat telah membelakangi komitmen awal yang dimeterai dalam MoU sebelum ini. Ini yang kita khuatirkan sebelum ini.
“Kini pusat perlu tunjuk komitmen dengan menggunakan Fasal 114 dan 191 WSIA dan kerajaan Selangor perlu menggunakan haknya melalui klausa 6 dalam MoU tersebut,” tegasnya.
The image from Flightradar24.com which shows the last known position of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. – The Malaysian Insider graphics by Kamarularif Husain, March 9, 2014.ASingapore search team has notified spotting a suspicious object floating 100km south-southwest of Vietnam’s Tho Chu island, said the country’s search and rescue unit coordinating the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370.
The Wall Street Journal reported the Hanoi-based coordinators said Vietnamese forces have sent three vessels to the site, the first of which is expected to arrive by 7pm local time (8pm Malaysian time).
The MAS Boeing 777-200 disappeared with 239 people on board, including 12 crew, early Saturday morning while on its way to Beijing.
The Vietnamese navy had earlier reported two oil slicks near the island while the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) has also spotted oil slicks 20 nautical miles (37km) away from the passenger jet’s last known position.
A Chinese passenger in a plane flying over the area has also taken pictures of what is possibly debris near where flight MH370 lost contact with air traffic controllers.
The business paper also said a team of American aviation accident investigators, led by National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) experts, is en route to Asia to provide assistance regarding the missing jetliner.
China’s navy said today that it had sent two warships to help with the search. Beijing had already sent at least one coast guard vessel and two search and rescue ships toward the area, according to state media.
“Once the aircraft location is identified, international accident rules will determine what country will formally lead the probe,” the NTSB said.
The NTSB announcement is the latest sign of the intense international interest in trying to quickly determine what caused the Boeing 777 to disappear from the sky in good weather.
The team, including technical advisers from Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration, left the US Saturday and would “be positioned to offer US assistance,” the NTSB added.
The NTSB is unlikely to lead what is bound to be a complex and extensive probe, but the board’s expertise is likely to play a big role in establishing the chain of events. China, Malaysia and Vietnam, which are currently searching for signs of wreckage, could formally request certain types of help from the US.
The NTSB’s decision, according to air-safety officials, indicates that at least at this point, US aviation regulators and safety watchdogs are treating the plane’s disappearance and presumed crash as an accident rather than an act of terrorism.
The officials stressed that could change as more details surface, the paper said.
For now, though, it is the NTSB investigators, rather than law-enforcement or anti-terrorism officials, who are leading Washington’s public response. – March 9, 2014.
By V. ANBALAGAN (MI)
March 08, 2014
The judiciary must be above politics or there will be dire consequences, including a civil war as history has shown, warned constitutional law expert Abdul Aziz Bari (pic).
Aziz’s reminder came in the wake of the Court of Appeal decision yesterday which found opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim guilty of sodomy.
Anwar was sentenced to five years’ jail but the sentenced was stayed pending a final appeal in the Federal Ccourt.
The appellate court yesterday set aside the High Court ruling which acquitted Anwar following an appeal by Putrajaya.
Anwar’s lawyer Karpal Singh had complained that the appeal was rushed and his client was denied every opportunity to exhaust his appeal to stop Umno lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee from prosecuting the case in his capacity as deputy public prosecutor.
The verdict was pronounced immediately after two days of proceedings.
The appellate court judges also refused Karpal’s application to adjourn the sentencing date to a week later in order to get Anwar’s medical reports.
“It is a pity that the judges prefer to take the route taken by a former US Supreme Court chief justice Roger Tanney, who was condemned for upholding slavery by using the US constitution in 1865, a decision that triggered the US civil war,” Malaysiakini quoted Aziz as saying in a statement today.
Aziz said the hurried proceedings in Anwar’s case raised various concerns and this was in total contrast when compared to the cautious handling of the Allah case.
In the Allah row, the Federal Court heard parties over whether to grant leave to appeal a Court of Appeal ruling but reserved judgment.
“The court must stay above politics to protect its independence and integrity.
“In Anwar’s case, the court chose not to disassociate itself from a government that has lost its legitimacy to rule, a government that seems unable to play on a level playing field,” he said
Pakatan Rakyat, which has accused Putrajaya of using the courts to surpress the opposition, has vowed to start Reformasi 2.0 in a show of protest against how the sodomy case was conducted.
Karpal, who is the DAP national chairman, is due to be sentenced on Tuesday for sedition against the Sultan of Perak at the height of a political crisis.
The 73-year-old wheelchair-bound lawyer is facing a possible jail term of up to three year or RM5,000 or both.
Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) executive director Eric Paulsen said the Kajang by-election would act as a referendum on the present state of affairs, including the judiciary.
“As judicial reform under the present government is futile, it is hoped voters in Kajang will send the strongest rebuke to the judiciary,” he said. – March 8, 2014.
- Mar 07, 2014
KUALA LUMPUR: Majlis Presiden Pakatan Rakyat sebulat suara menyokong usaha Menteri Besar Selangor, Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim untuk menstrukturkan semula industri air negeri Selangor, tegas Ketua Pembangkang Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
Keputusan sebulat suara itu dicapai pada mesyuarat Majlis Presiden Pakatan Rakyat, 6 Mac lalu setelah menerima penjelasan Abdul Khalid (gambar) yang dipanggil kkusus untuk menyampaikan taklimat.
Hadir pada mesyuarat tertinggi Pakatan Rakyat itu ialah Presiden PAS, Datuk Seri Tuan Guru Abdul Hadi Awang, Penasihat DAP, Lim Kit Siang, dan Anwar selaku Ketua Umum PKR.
“Di dalam mesyuarat tersebut, pimpinan Pakatan Rakyat telah menunjukkan keprihatinan yang tinggi serta memberikan nasihat dan pandangan bagi memastikan proses penstrukturan industri air ini memberikan pulangan dan natijah yang terbaik kepada Kerajaan Negeri Selangor serta rakyat Selangor, termasuk perkara-perkara yang disentuh di dalam MoU di antara Kerajaan Selangor dan Kerajaan Persekutuan,” jelas Anwar dalam satu kenyataan media yang dikeluarkan hari ini.
Beliau menambah, di dalam konteks penstrukturan industri air ini Kerajaan Negeri Selangor juga akan terus mendapatkan maklum balas daripada jawatankuasa khas Pakatan Rakyat yang diwakili Rafizi Ramli (PKR), Tony Pua (DAP)dan Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (PAS).
Menurut Anwar, pimpinan Pakatan Rakyat juga bersetuju agar pakar perundangan, Tommy Thomas dilantik sebagai wakil bebas mewakili rakyat Selangor bagi memastikan perjanjian yang kukuh di sisi undang-undang guna menjaga kepentingan rakyat Selangor.
“Mereka akan bertanggungjawab bekerjasama dengan Kerajaan Selangor di dalam pelaksanaan penstrukturan industri air ini termasuklah menyemak dan memberi maklum balas kepada perjanjian-perjanjian yang bakal ditandatangani oleh Kerajaan Selangor di dalam isu ini,” tegas Anwar.
Kenyataan media Anwar ini dikeluarkan bagi menjawab dakwaan liar media massa pro-BN khususnya Utusan Malaysia semalam yang mendakwa kononnya wujud perbalahan antara Abdul Khalid dan para pemimpin Pakatan Rakyat khususnya Anwar dalam proses penstrukturan semula industri air Selangor.
KUALA LUMPUR: A water crisis that left parts of Selangor without supply for three weeks has not deterred the state administration from possibly degazetting forest reserves — vital water catchment zones for the Klang Valley — for a proposed highway.
Environmental activists are scrambling to rally the public in submitting objections to the opening up of four forest reserves in Selangor to make way for the 38.1km-llong East Klang Valley Expressway (EKVE).
The state has proposed to degazette portions of the Ampang, Bukit Seputeh, Ulu Gombak and Ulu Langat forest reserves.
Malaysia Nature Society’s (MNS) head of conservation, Balu Perumal, pointed out that two of the four forest reserves, Ampang and Ulu Gombak, form part of the Selangor State Park and are important water catchments for the Klang Valley.
“This is part of the main range, Banjaran Titiwangsa, the catchment area for Selangor.
“If they are going to disturb this area, it will definitely disrupt the water supply and quality,” he told The Malay Mail Online when contacted.
Depleting water reserves due to a prolonged dry spell has forced authorities to begin water rationing in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Negri Sembilan this month.
The situation could also deteriorate as the hot and dry weather is expected to persist until the middle of this month, before possibly improving when the weather pattern changes to the wetter inter-monsoon season.
Balu said most of the 106.65 hectares of the proposed area earmarked for the degazettement is part of the Selangor State Park and a coalition made up of MNS, World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Malaysia, Treat Every Environment Special (TrEES) and Save our Sungai (S.O.S.) Selangor is now on a petition drive to object to the encroachment into the park.
He said the coalition’s target is to get between 100,000 to 300,000 individuals to submit their protests to the Selangor Forestry Department.
“They say if you are a citizen staying within the district of Gombak and also Ulu Langat, then you can submit your objection, but for us the road is going to encroach into the Selangor State Park and this park is the third largest state park in the peninsula, after Taman Negara and Royal Belum.
“It’s a huge area so there is definitely of national interest,” he said.
Selangor Tourism, Consumer Affairs and Environment executive councillor Elizabeth Wong said the public has until March 26 to submit their objections and pledged that every complainant will be heard during a public enquiry.
“I’m very sure there would be some effect [on the water catchment area], they have to come up with mitigation plan,” she said, adding that the Department of Environment (DoE) has not received an environment management plan as well as several necessary documents from the concessionaire.
This is despite a detailed environmental impact assessment (DEIA) being approved by the DoE late last year.
The Bukit Lanjan MP said there are requests to extend the objection deadline, but said she must first discuss the matter with the Forestry Department.
Seeking to deflect criticism, Wong said while the decision ultimately lies with the state government, it was the highway concessionaire that submitted the application to de-gazette the forest reserves.
It is understood that it was Dr Yunus Hairi, the executive councillor in charge of Youth and Sports, Infrastructure and Public Utilities, who tabled the proposal. He could not be reached for comment as he is abroad.
Wong stressed that while it is not easy for her as she is against the degazettement on principle, she said she has to be “professional” and hear all arguments.
The former activist will be on the panel for the public enquiry, along with a Selangor Water Management Authority (LUAS) representative, another from the state planning committee and experts from the Mineral and Geoscience Department, among others.
She said the state’s decision will depend on the strength of the people’s argument.
Wong noted that this is the country’s first public inquiry on degazetting forest reserves, as Selangor is the only state with such a law.
“Almost all the states in Malaysia are quite hesitant to put in the provision for any public enquiry for any degazettement.
“We have to show it’s a civil process and it helps the state and management of forest reserve and if we do it well, then the rest of the states will put in this amendment in their state law,” she said, of the amendment to the National Forestry Act 1985 which was passed in 2011.
PIC: LatarThe EKVE forms the final section of the KL Outer Ring Road (KLORR) which currently comprises the LATAR Highway, Guthrie Corridor Expressway, ELITE Highway, South Klang Valley Expressway and SILK Expressway.
Construction is expected to begin next year.
An ongoing dry spell has shone a light on the vulnerability of water supply in Selangor, which has been the hardest hit by the weather.
The state was forced to institute water rationing affecting over 2 million consumers after water levels at two dams fell near critical marks due to lack of rainfall.