Wednesday, April 30, 2008

YAB MB Selangor - Dual Roles - The Star

Fiasco of the factories to end - The Star

April 30, 2008 By GEETHA KRISHNAN

MAJOR changes are in the offing for the Illegal Factories Rehabilitation Programme introduced by the previous Selangor state government in 2006.

According to Selangor State New Village Development and Illegal Factory Task Force Committee chairman Ean Yong Hian Wah, the policy reviews are necessary because the illegal factories legalisation programme has flaws.

Ean Yong: 'It must benefit entrepreneurs and citizens of the state which isn't the case now'
“It must benefit entrepreneurs and citizens of the state which isn't the case now,” Ean Yong told the StarMetro during a recent interview at the state secretariat in Shah Alam.

“Factory owners feel that the premiums being charged for land use conversions are too high while those living near the factories are complaining about pollution, fire hazards, non-existent buffer zones and social issues,” he said.

“The process will take time because we intend to pursue this on a case-to-case basis to draw up new rules and regulations,” Ean Yong said.

By definition, factories operating without permits, business licences or certificates of completion and compliance (CCC) on land meant for residential, agricultural or commercial purposes or on government reserve land are illegal.

Responding to a question on illegal factories during The Star's Cafe Latte Chat in March, Selangor Mentri Besar Khalid Ibrahim said: “I’m not closing them down. I’m trying to work with them, to make them follow us. The existence of illegal factories is due to corrupt practices”.

A 2006 census recorded 3,165 illegal factories in Selangor with exports worth RM4bil annually and 150,000 job opportunities for locals and foreigners.

But Selangor State Local Government, Study and Research Committee chairman Ronnie Liu said the number of illegal factories was more than 4,000 because cottage industries were also involved. (See table for comprehensive data).

Under the incentive package offered, factory owners will enjoy a 50% discount on land premiums paid within three months of the conversion approval while those paying within six months are entitled to a 30% discount and 10% discount for those who pay up within nine months.

According to Balakong Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Balakong Jaya Industrial Area Land and Factory Owners Associa-tion joint chairman Lam Koong Sum, factory owners are forced to pay higher premiums due to the higher value of industrial land.

“Furthermore, light industries were told to pay premiums for medium industries and medium industries for heavy industries. This has affected the small players,” he said.

Under the incentive package, temporary operating licences and temporary building permits are issued yearly for a maximum of three years to premises located in industrial zones or areas to be rezoned for industrial use.

Owners and operators must first submit land usage conversion applications, planning permits and build ing plans to be reviewed by authorities such as the Fire and Rescue Department, Environment Depart-ment, state water supplier Syabas and Tenaga Nasional Berhad.

For premises not in industrial zones or in areas that cannot be rezoned, temporary licences and permits would still be issued on a yearly basis for a maximum of three years but operators would either have to move to an industrial zone or cease operations within the time.

The ultimate agenda should be to create a win-win situation for residents, factory owners and the state that also stands to benefit from collecting quit rent.

Selangor Govt To Submit More Reasonable Compensation For Syabas

SHAH ALAM, April 30, 2008 (Bernama)

The Selangor government will submit a more reasonable compensation payment for Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas) for the provision of free water for the first 20 cubic metres monthly to each household in the state effective this June 1.

Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim said the compensation payment would be discussed with Syabas, with him submitting a more reasonable figure than that quoted previously.

"We have made our calculations... for the people to benefit from this move," he told reporters after opening an exhibition at Muzium Sultan Alam Shah here Tuesday.

Recently, former Menteri Besar and Sungai Panjang assemblyman Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo said the state government needed to pay monthly compensation of about RM17 million to Syabas if it implemented the move.

Dr Mohamad Khir, who is also the opposition leader in the state assembly, said the amount was based on the charge for 20 cubic metres of water, which was RM11.40 and the 1.5 million consumers with individual water meters.

Abdul Khalid said discussions had been held and an indepth study made with Syabas and an agreement signed earlier between the state government and Syabas on the matter.

"We will implement the plan on June 1. I have sent a letter to Syabas on the the state government's decision and of course we will work on the implementation," he added.

On the dissolution of Balkis (Welfare Association of Wives of Selangor Elected Representatives) and the transfer of its funds, Abdul Khalid said the state government would only lodge a police report after getting clarification from the Registrar of Societies on the matter.

"Only then can we decide on what action to take. I need to be sure of the process before taking any action."

He said the state government so far had been receiving letters from companies which gave contributions to Balkis, with some wanting to know how the association was dissolved and whether it was done in accordance with its constitution.

It was earlier reported that Balkis' funds amounting to RM9.9 million had been transferred to Bakti, the Association of Wives of Barisan Nasional Ministers and Deputy Ministers, and that the new state government was investigating the matter.

Selangor government agencies like Kumpulan Darul Ehsan Berhad (KDEB) had contributed RM268,862 in 2007 and the Selangor State Development Corporation, RM590,379 between 2006 and 2007, for Balkis to carry out welfare and community service programmes.

Stop it, Samy Vellu and Khir told - The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: April 30, 2008

MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu and former Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Khir Toyo have been told to stop their war of words.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said a directive would be issued to ensure all component parties and members stop pointing fingers at each other and warned them of disciplinary action.

When asked whether the warning would restrict freedom among the component parties, Abdullah said: “We have discipline in the party. Which party does not have discipline? It will be a problem if the party does not have discipline.”

The war of words between Samy Vellu and Dr Khir took place after the latter said in an interview with Malaysiakini that the MIC president had asked him on Nov 15 to demolish the Kampung Rimba Jaya Hindu temple near Shah Alam.

Samy Vellu defended himself by saying that the temple had been “demolished” in October when devotees removed deities from the temple and that what remained was just a structure and Dr Khir was to be blamed for the demolition.

Residents sure surveyor report will favour them - The Star


The Bandar Mahkota Cheras Open Access Road Committee is confident the outcome of today's meeting at the Kajang Municipal Council (MPKj) will be in its favour.

At a press conference yesterday, independent surveyor Khoo Leong Hok pointed out that the barricade demolished on April 21 was erected outside the Malaysian Highway Authority road reserve. Khoo had volunteered his services to the committee.

Seri Kembangan assemblyman Ean Yong Hian Wah produced a letter from the Hulu Langat Land Office that stated the land originally belonged to Bandar Mahkota Cheras developer Narajaya Sdn Bhd because it was obtained through land acquisition as detailed in the Government Circular No 1007, dated May 27, 2003. The road was subsequently delivered to the council.

Last week, Selangor State Local Government, Study and Research Committee chairman Ronnie Liu gave the surveyor on the council's panel another week to present a report on who had the right of way, Bandar Mahkota Cheras or Cheras-Kajang highway concessionaire Grand Saga Sdn Bhd. Another surveyor was appointed by the panel to provide a fair perspective on the matter.

The toll-free access road has been the subject of controversy between both parties since Grand Saga closed the road in 2005.

Swearing-in for Manoharan on May 8 - The Star

KLANG: April 30, 2008

M. Manoharan, the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) legal adviser detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA), is expected to take his oath as Kota Alam Shah state assemblyman at the Kamunting camp on May 8.

Selangor state assembly speaker Teng Chang Khim said he had received a letter from Manoharan through the camp two days ago requesting him to go to the camp for the swearing-in.

“I have consulted our state legal adviser and made the necessary arrangements for the swearing-in which is fixed for the morning on May 8 at the detention camp,” he said when contacted yesterday.

In 1978, ISA detainees Chian Heng Kai and Chan Kok Kit, who won the Batu Gajah and Sungai Besi parliamentary seats respectively, were sworn-in at the detention camp.

Manoharan stood on a DAP ticket and won the Kota Alam Shah state seat by a 7,184-vote majority beating the incumbent Ching Su Chen (Gerakan) in the March 8 general election.

Teng added that Manoharan must be sworn-in within six months after the state legislative assembly was formed on April 22 or forced to lose his seat and face a by-election.

Manoharan’s wife S. Pushpaneela said she was relieved and happy that her husband would be taking his oath.

“I will go to the camp on Friday and bring a suit and tie for the ceremony.

“This is a historic moment for all Malaysians especially the constituents of Kota Alam Shah. We are hoping for his release as soon as possible so that he can serve them,” she said.

Pushpaneela also urged the Government to act with compassion and release not just her husband but also all the 80 ISA detainees

'Samy Vellu ordered temple demolition' - Malaysiakini

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

'Not right for judge to act as adviser to Bakti' - The Sun

PETALING JAYA (April 29, 2008): By Maria J .Dass

It is inappropriate and wholly unacceptable for any member of the judiciary to act as legal adviser or in any legal capacity for any body or person while holding the office of a judge, says the Bar Council.

"More so if the body or person is associated with a state or federal government or a political party," said its president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan today.

“The Bar Council is deeply concerned by the report in theSun that suggests the involvement of a Court of Appeal judge as legal adviser to Bakti on matters pertaining to the transfer of funds from Association of Wives of State Assemblymen and Members of Parliament in Selangor (Balkis) and its Penang equivalent - Bunga Tanjung,” she told theSun.

The two organisations reportedly transferred the funds to Bakti, the Federal Association of Wives of Ministers and Deputy Ministers, after Barisan Nasional (BN) lost the elections in the states to Pakatan Rakyat on March 8.

“Such conduct is inconsistent with his or her position as a serving judge and has a direct impact on the issue of conflict and the independence and impartiality of the judge,” said Ambiga.

"In the circumstances and given the severity of the consequences of the allegations, it is important that the facts be established and that the judge be accorded a fair opportunity to respond to the allegations in an appropriate manner," she added.

Ambiga was responding to a report in theSun today which named Court of Appeal Judge Datuk Helilah Yusof as Bakti’s legal adviser. This was stated in the minutes of a Bakti Council meeting.

Former UN Special Rapporteur on the Independence of Judges and Lawyers Param Cumaraswamy said in a letter published in theSun the involvement of a sitting judge in the transfer of funds from Balkis to Bakti is likely to cause a reasonable suspicion that the judge allowed private interests to come into conflict with judicial duties.

This amounts to breach of the Judges’ Code of ethics 1994.

He said the conduct of the judge should be referred to the Chief Justice who in turn should take appropriate action against the judge concerned.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA) president Nik Mohd Hasyudeen said the legality of transferring the funds of an organisation depends on the constitution of the organisation itself as normally, there is no mandatory need for funds to be audited before a transfer is made.

However, since MIA has no access to Balkis constitution "we are unable to comment on this", he said.

“What we can say is, the auditor’s responsibility is to ensure that the financial statements of an organisation reflect a true and fair position,” said Nik Mohd.

Therefore, if they have not been engaged to conduct an audit prior to the transferring of funds, then the auditor has nothing to do with the process, he added.

Nik Mohd said generally, when transferring funds, adherence to good corporate governance practices is paramount.

It would be important to ensure that the purpose for transferring the funds is in line with the objectives and constitution of the organisation.

The process should be transparent and backed by the necessary justification and evidence to aid in disclosure, he said.

Nik Mohd was commenting on a report which quoted external auditors for Balkis as saying the charity's accounts for 2007 were never audited or finalised, contrary to claims by former mentri besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo.

Yee Choon Kong & Co said the financial statement of Balkis was unaudited and the accounts not finalised before the funds were transferred. Company principal Yee Choon Kong said he never issued a duly signed audit report in respect of the conduct and financial affairs of Balkis for the financial year ending last Dec 31.

The firm said it had called the treasurer of Balkis, Datin Suraimi Sapuan, to send financial records for auditing but the calls remained unanswered.

Yee said they had no knowledge of new auditors being appointed to replace his firm and that even if this was the case, the Institute of Accountants by-laws impose an obligation on new auditors not to accept the role without consulting existing auditors. He said his firm had received no inquiries from any new firm of auditors.

State assemblymen should be accountable for every sen they get - The Star

April 29, 2008 By BRIAN MARTIN

TWO weeks ago the new Pakatan Rakyat-led Selangor government disbursed RM500,000 to each of its 36 assemblymen.

This large amount is not a gift from a grateful government; rather it will be used for the benefit of the people and the respective constituencies. Tellingly though, the amount is to be used at the DISCRETION of the assemblymen.

Last month, State Local Government, Study and Research Committee chairman Ronnie Liu raised the issue of the 54 Barisan Nasional assemblymen in the previous state administration who used up a combined allocation of RM27mil for 2008 in just two months.

“We want to know how they could spend a huge sum in such a short time and about the projects and beneficiaries of the funds, including associations,” Liu was reported to have said.

Liu is right. There should have been detailed records as to how the RM500,000 allocation was used. The amount was an annual allocation and the previous Barisan-led state govern-ment should have come up with a transparent disbursement method so that the public would be aware of how the funds were used.

The matter now resides with the state legal advisor who may compel the assemblymen involved to disclose details of the money spent.

One person who kept detailed records of his expenditure was former Subang Jaya assemblyman Datuk Lee Hwa Beng. A visit to his website - will show that the two-term representative has listed in detail how his RM375,000 was spent. (The balance is with the Petaling District Office).

“It is illegal to put the money in your own pocket. This (using his website to show details) has been my practice over the last few years,'' he said.

But just how does the disbursement of funds work? The RM500,000 is parked in the district office of the assemblyman. He or she has to apply to the office for allocations. For instance, if an orphanage was in need of RM10,000, the assemblyman is able to apply for the sum and disburse it. The elected representatives are also allowed to use their own money for their constituents and claim it from the fund later.

The money can be used for a wide variety of reasons - non-government organisations, resident associations, guilds and schools - are just some of the beneficiaries, and the funds are also used for infrastructure works, in times of calamity, like floods and fire and also for scholarships.

Subang Jaya assemblyman Hannah Yeoh should also be commended for taking the initiative to put up her funds distribution in her weblog - Yeoh says the poor will be her priority.

“In terms of maintenance, the Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) has more than enough funds. I will ensure more prudent spending and that no organisation is given money more than once,'' she said.

How this money is spent will of course be a source of concern to the people, but questions must also be asked about constituencies and NGOs that are dependent on allocations from their elected representatives. It is well within the rights of the present state government to only disburse funds to Pakatan Rakyat assemblymen. But what about the 20 constituen-cies that have Barisan assembly-men?

First time Kuang assemblyman Abdul Shukur Idrus feels that the distribution of RM500,000 is un-fair. “Why should only Pakatan Rakyat assemblymen be given RM500,000? If the money is given to me, I will use it to initiate a poverty eradication programme in Kuang. At the end of the day, the money will benefit the people, not us,'' he said.

The new state government, with Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim at the helm, has so far preached accountability and moderation in all its under-takings, but I believe the time has come for Selangor to walk the talk. In short, each assemblyman must account for every sen of the RM500,000 spent for their constituents.

Ng a maverick assemblyman - The Star

April 29, 2008 By DEBBIE CHAN

Ng: ‘I was very close to the Javanese families’


Name: Ng Suee Lim (DAP).
Age: 37.
Marital Status: Married with three children.
Hometown: Kapar, Klang.
Constituency: The Sekinchan state seat under the Sungai Besar parliamentary constituency in Selangor.
Party post: Pekan Kapar DAP branch chairman.
Profession: Full-time politician.

RE-ELECTED Sekinchan state assemblyman Ng Suee Lim, a father of two boys and a girl, is a maverick character, with a penchant for music, dancing and singing.

Ng is obviously one who is able to balance leisure and work very well to keep himself on track.

He has a strong passion for politics and spends much time in reading, particularly history books and related topics, to learn how he can effectively serve his Sekinchan community.

What is especially unique is that Ng is among the few non-Javanese who can speak the Java language.

“Our family house was the last one in a Chinese village which bordered another village that was predominantly Javanese and I was close to the Javanese families,” he said.

Ng, the Pekan Kapar DAP branch chairman, was the opposition representative in the Public Accounts Committee of the previous Selangor state assembly.

He was the key figure in the controversial eight-day study tour to Egypt proposed by the Selangor Public Accounts Committee that he pulled out from, alleging that the trip was filled with leisure and entertainment activities rather than work- related activities.

Ng was re-elected for a second term as the Sekinchan state assemblyman in the recent 12th general election, fending off a challenge from Barisan Nasional candidate Phuah Boon Choon of the MCA by a slim majority of 190 votes.

Ng polled 5,403 votes, while Phuah obtained 5,213.

He is now all set to embark on a cyber outreach programme via the worldwide web to reach out to his constituents.

StarMetro: How much time to do you spend on the computer?

Ng: About two hours a day.

StarMetro: Do you blog?

Ng: I’m working on it and my blog should be up soon.

StarMetro: Do you have a website?

Ng: The website will be linked to the blog, so it will be up soon. Do look out for it.

StarMetro: Do you play a musical instrument, dance or sing?

Ng: Yes, I love dancing and singing.

StarMetro: What kind of music do you listen to?

Ng: I like sentimental songs and oldies as well as dangdut music and jazz. I’m more of a music person rather than a movie fan.

StarMetro: Name a favourite song.

Ng: Madu dan Racun and Si Jantung Hati. These are some dangdut selections which I love.

StarMetro: What do you read?

Ng: I read a lot of magazines and history books.

StarMetro: What was the last book you read?

Ng: The Chinese section of the May 13th chapter in some history write-up.

StarMetro: Are you into English Premier League footbalI?

Ng: Yes, my favourite team is Manchester United and my favourite player is C. Ronaldo.

Starmetro: Other than football, what's your favourite sport?

Ng: My favourite sports are badminton and table-tennis.

StarMetro: What do you play?

Ng: I play badminton a lot.

StarMetro: Who is your favourite sports star?

Ng: China’s world number one badminton star Li Dan.

StarMetro: Got a nickname? How did it come about?

Ng: Cina Java, because I can speak Javanese.

StarMetro: What languages can you speak?

Ng: Hokkien, Mandarin, English, Malay and Javanese.

StarMetro: What's your favourite food?

Ng: I love bak kut teh (pork rib soup) and definitely the local favourite of sambal belacan (chilli with prawn paste).

StarMetro: You have a weakness for ....

Ng: The latest model of mobile phones. I always keep a lookout for them.

StarMetro:What car do you drive and how long have you had it?

Ng: Nissan Xtrail 4WD, just three-months old.

StarMetro: What is your contribution to environmental conservation?

Ng: I will support any programme to protect and safeguard our environment.

StarMetro: Name an idol, dead or alive, whom you look up to and why.

Ng: Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Lim Kit Siang, because they fight for justice, equality and a better life for all Malaysians.

StarMetro: Your favourite actor and why?

Ng: Jackie Chan. He is a top actor in the world.

StarMetro: Favourite actress, and why?

Ng: I can’t say why but I really like Maggie Cheung.

Hannah all out to ensure smooth traffic flow - The Star

April 29, 2008

SUBANG Jaya assemblyman Hannah Yeoh is looking into proposing to the Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) to retime its traffic lights to help resolve the infamous congestion of Jalan Tujuan.

She said while traffic lights belonging to the council could be re-timed, she was also looking into other possibilities like closing off certain junctions or turnings for a smoother traffic flow.

Yeoh: Has arranged for a meeting between residents and the MPSJ
“We still don't know for sure what works or what doesn't but we are definitely looking at ways to address problems like jams which are affecting the lifestyle of people and which is one of my primary concerns for Subang Jaya,” Yeoh said.

Yeoh said this at the 3rd annual general meeting of the Taman Wangsa Baiduri Residents Association held on Saturday at the Sri KL school in SS15 Subang Jaya.

At the meeting, residents representatives brought up various matters affecting their daily lives.

Among the issues raised were the dengue issue and roadside parking on the public road where residents use the route daily to get in and out of their homes.

Also present at the meeting were developer Emko Properties general manager Chai Kian Soon and assistant manager Adrian Tan.

While some residents called for Emko to do something against cars parked along the road, Chai pointed out that it was not within the developer's jurisdiction to do anything as it was a public road and maintenance of the road had been handed to the MPSJ.

“We are getting fed up with the cars parked on the roads. It is haphazard, narrowing the main road and creating extra congestion, so perhaps the developer could look into this to prevent people from parking,” one resident said.

Chai said that only the MPSJ enforcement officers could take action on the cars.

“Usually these cars belong to the condominium unit owners or tenants that the owners rent out to. We have provided 2.5 car park spaces per one condo unit but many people seem to be having more than two cars these days,” Chai said.

“We can take action only if the vehicles are parked haphazardly inside the condominium premise since it is our land,” he said.

Residents association chairman Eddy Ch'ng also pointed out the need for the MPSJ to repair broken drains inside the housing area that were trapping water.

“The council has replied saying it has no money for repair works although it will do fogging periodically. However, the water contained may be breeding mosquitoes,” Ch'ng said.

Yeoh later announced that she has arranged for a meeting between residents and the MPSJ tomorrow to discuss the problems raised.

At the AGM, Ch'ng was re-elected chairman for the 2008-2009 term. The other incumbent office-bearers re-elected are Michael Leong as vice chairman, Yew Kian Teong as secretary (1), Tan Siok Kim as secretary (2) and Addie@Eddie Ismail as treasurer.

In addition to some incumbent committee members, several new faces were elected as committee members.

Yeoh also she would discuss with Kesas and other contractors on the link road between the Kesas highway and USJ 1 to consider making it a two-way route instead of a one-way traffic for which approval had been given.

Bus service terminated since last year - The Star

April 29, 2008 by LIM CHIA YING

THE residents of Rumah Panjang Kampung Bunga Raya in Kampung Subang, Shah Alam, are in a fix as the bus service they have used for years has been stopped.

The residents claimed that the City Liner bus that used to pick up passengers at the bus stop just outside their village had stopped its services since late last year.

The villagers said they were not told why the bus company had terminated the service all of a sudden.

No bus: The villagers at the bus stop where the buses to Shah Alam and Klang used to pick up passengers.

According to village head Murugan Arumugam, without the bus service, many poor families are facing difficulties travelling to and from their workplaces each day.

“As a result of this, many of the villagers have missed going to work, and some have been forced to quit their jobs.

“Previously, residents relied on the bus to go to Klang and Shah Alam, where they worked at factories.

“There are also many old folks and pregnant women who take the bus to go for treatment or medical check-ups at the Klang hospital,” he said.

Murugan said for the past few months, people were forced to take taxis or pay a monthly fee of RM100 to use a van to go to work or get to the hospital.

“The only bus available now is the one that only goes to Kuala Lumpur. But many of us need to go to Klang, which is where we also do our shopping for Deepavali and Hari Raya,” he said.

“Now just to go to Klang, we have to take three buses, thus wasting a lot of time. What happens if a pregnant woman is to deliver and has no car to take her to the hospital in Klang?” he asked.

According to resident Pathmanathan Raman, many of the villagers are poor, and earning a meagre income of RM400 to RM500 monthly.

“With bills to pay, food to buy, how can they still afford to pay the RM100 van rental? What more when some of them are jobless now,” he said.

“The bus was an easy and cheap mode of travel for us,” Pathmanathan said.

He said that besides the Kampung Bunga Raya villagers, people in nearby residential estates like Ladang Subang, Bukit Subang and Bukit Jelutong also used the bus service.

Vedachi Alagumalai, 74, and her husband Muniandy Kumarandy, 82, are among those finding the going tough without the bus service now.

Vedachi has to take Muniandy to the Klang hospital twice a month as he has eye problems that require frequent treatment.

“We receive about RM200 monthly from the welfare department and from it, RM40 goes for taxi fare (for one return trip).

“When we took the bus last time, we could save so much,” Vedachi said.

Single mother Rukkumani Subramaniam works as a cleaner in a school in Glenmarie. She has to walk home daily for an hour from Bukit Jelutong, the point where a bus drops her off.

“We have highlighted our case to the authorities and elected representatives several times but our pleas have gone unheard,” Murugan said.

“All we want is just a bus service. If the Rapid KL bus, which also services Shah Alam, could come here too, it would be a great relief to us all,” he said.

When contacted, City Liner Selangor regional manager Mohamad Razali Latib said as far as he knew, the bus services were already terminated when he took over the post in September last year.

“What I heard was that our buses were making a loss as the daily collection could not cover the cost of the diesel used to go to the village,” he said.

“I was told that the buses can only collect over RM100 a day when the diesel cost more than RM200.

“In the past, when there were more foreigners taking the bus, we could cover the cost,” Razali said.

He said, however, that he would review the route to see what could be done for the villagers.

Rapid KL communications division manager Chellam Vasudevan said the company would need to study the matter before it could commit itself to operate any bus service there.

“The villagers’ representative can call us via our hotline number at 03-7625 6999 during office hours (Monday to Friday) from 8.30am to 5.30pm.

“We'll have to study the exact location to see if our bus service can accommodate them,” she said.

When contacted, Kota Damansara assemblyman Dr Mohd Nasir Hashim said he had arranged a meeting with the Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) today to look into the issue.

He said the council should be able to do something since it was its responsibility in monitoring developments in the area.

“We want to sort out with the officers what the problem is and why there is no bus service there.

“This should be a social responsibility and must not be just about making profits,” Nasir said.

Requirement for EGM not met, says Kok - NST

KUALA LUMPUR: April 29, 2008

More questions have been raised on the manner in which the Wives of Selangor Assemblymen and MPs Welfare and Charity Organisation (Balkis) held an extraordinary general meeting three days after the general election to dissolve the group and transfer its funds, totalling RM9.9 million, to another body.

Selangor executive councillor Teresa Kok said according to the constitution of Balkis, members of the organisation would have to be notified through a written notice not less than 14 days before the day of the EGM.

Kok, who is also the DAP MP for Seputeh, was speaking to reporters after taking her oath at the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.

She said less than 14 days' notice was given to members for the Balkis EGM on March 11.

On Sunday, former Selangor menteri besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo defended his wife, Datin Seri Zaharah Kechik, the past president of Balkis, for calling the EGM to dissolve the organisation.

He maintained that the dissolution of Balkis and transfer of funds to the Association of Wives of Ministers and Deputy Ministers (Bakti) was done in accordance with the charity's constitution.

He said the EGM was convened after one-fifth of Balkis members requested for it, while the dissolution and transfer of funds to Bakti received approval from two-thirds of the members.

He said there was no need for auditors of Balkis to be informed or consulted before the charity was dissolved and the funds transferred.

"The role of auditors is to ensure the accounts are according to financial standards."

Dr Khir disputed a statement by Selangor Tourism, Consumer Affairs and Environment committee chairman Elizabeth Wong that Balkis accounts for last year had yet to be finalised.

"Everything was finalised before the funds were transferred," he said.

Kok, however, questioned whether Zahara had fullfilled the constitutional requirements of Balkis.

"The EGM on March 11 is illegal. This is because on March 11 Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo was no longer the menteri besar, and as such she was no longer the chairman of Balkis," she said.

Thus, she had no right to transfer the funds, Kok said.

She called on Zahara to hold an EGM of Balkis and transfer the funds back to the organisation and its new office bearers.

Traffic nightmare for Pantai Dalam folks - The Star

April 29, 2008 By DEBBIE CHAN

TRAFFIC has been a nightmare for the past three weeks during peak hours at the road leading to Kg Kerinchi, Pantai Dalam, due to construction work to widen the stretch.

Before the road-widening exercise, the stretch had always been congested due to inconsiderate motorists parking their cars along the road but the construction work has aggravated the situation.

“It is so bad during peak hours that traffic is barely moving. On one occasion, an ambulance with the siren on was trying to get through but the other vehicles had nowhere to move to make way.

“It was such a dangerous situation,” Pantai Hillpark resident Rachel Tan said.

“A lot of cars are parked near the Vista Angkasa apartments while the construction workers have blocked off half the lane with concrete blocks, leaving us with almost no space to move,” she added.

“Getting out is a problem and this is a high density area with many people commuting to work and children going to school every morning.

“In the evening, residents also find it difficult to get home and it is frustrating,” Tan said.

The congestion has also led to slow traffic on the road leading to the New Pantai Expressway, which is usually clear, and the alternative route for many motorists going to Petaling Jaya and Bandar Sunway.

The construction work has also damaged part of the road creating a big hole that becomes flooded on rainy days.

With the frequent rain in Kuala Lumpur for the past two weeks, the flooded pothole has become worse and is not helping the traffic.

Balkis' accounts not finalised before funds transferred out - The Star


The external auditors for the Wives of Selangor Assemblymen and MPs Welfare and Charity Organisation (Balkis) said yesterday they were not consulted before the body transferred its RM9.9mil funds.

Yee Choon Kong & Co principal Yee Choon Kong said the firm was never consulted by Balkis president Datin Seri Zahrah Kechik, its executive committee members or former Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo prior to the transfer.

He said the organisation’s financial statements remained unaudited till now and the firm had not issued a signed Audit Report on Balkis’ conduct and financial affairs for the financial year ending Dec 31, 2007.

“My firm had on a number of occasions called the organisation’s treasurer Datin Suraimi Sapuan to send the financial records including bank statements, official receipt books, payment vouchers, supporting documents, fixed deposit receipts, minutes of meetings and the details of membership and subscription for 2007,” he said in a statement yesterday.

He said Balkis ignored the requests, adding that contrary to press reports, the accounts had not been finalised before the funds were transferred out.

Yee was commenting on a recent statement by Dr Khir that Balkis had consulted its auditors and legal advisors before transferring the funds to the Association of Wives of Ministers and Deputy Ministers (Bakti) and there was no “hanky panky” involved.

Balkis has come under fire from the Selangor Government over its controversial dissolution and the transfer of RM9.9mil from its coffers several days after Pakatan Rakyat came into power.

Yee said the firm was appointed as Balkis’ external auditor at the body’s last AGM held on June 30, 2007, in accordance with its constitution which required an external auditor licensed by the Finance Ministry to be appointed as its statutory auditor.

He added that he had no knowledge if a new auditor was hired by the body but pointed out that the law stipulated that any new firm hired was obliged to seek the reasons for the change from the previously hired firm.

Yee said the company had not received any such enquiry.

Selangor senior executive councillor Teresa Kok also questioned the validity of the Balkis emergency meeting on March 11.

She said Clause 12(c) of the Balkis constitution stipulated that the secretary must issue letters to members at least 14 days before holding the meeting.

“As the meeting was held on March 11, then the letters must have been sent out towards the end of February, which seems quite impossible as it was election campaigning time,” said Kok.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Breath of fresh air - The Sun

April 17, 2008

SELANGOR Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid should be congratulated for a sterling interview (Conversations, April 17). The interview was a breath of fresh air and helped to remove a lot of cobwebs in the policies to bring about a new era in Malaysian governance.

Khalid, your assertion to make

the government "transparent" is wonderful and it will be great if you can "unlock the secrets" so that there will be enhanced

integrity and accountability in Selangor. Indeed all our state governments could follow your sound leadership in good governance.

As a member of TI-M and a Selangor national, let me say that we are truly proud of your early initiatives and we wish you all the very best in moving Selangor forward as the only developed state in Malaysia; and to show the way ahead for the whole country.

I hope you will be able to find time to address TI-M at a future date.

Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam
President TI-M

Association: No need for public hearing on pig farming - The Sun

PETALING JAYA (April 28, 2008): By Giam Say Khoon

There is no necessity to hold a public hearing on the proposed modern pig farming area in Ladang Tumbuk, Selangor Livestock Farmers' Association's pig unit chief Sim Ah Hock said today.

He said the project, originally initiated by the former Barisan Nasional (BN) state government, had received the go-ahead.

"After the trip to Germany organised by the former state government to visit the modern pig farms there last year, I was assured by former state exco member Datuk Ch'ng Toh Eng that the project will be carried out, and that the village head (Mohamad Tarmudi Tushiran) of Kampung Ladang Tumbuk, who also went on the trip with me, had agreed the project was a good one and it should be done," Sim said.

"So I do not understand why they would go against the project now. It (the objection) is not logical at all."

He was commenting on a call by former mentri besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo to the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) state government to hold a public hearing to listen to the voices of the local residents on the project.

"There is no reason to object because this is the best solution to overcome the pollution problems caused by traditional pig farms in the state," Sim said.

He said the only reason he could think of for these people to object was because they would no longer "benefit" from the project.

Asked about the developments on the project, Sim said the association met the PR state government for the first time on April 18 and there were still a lot of details to be discussed.

He said pig farmers had generally agreed to the project as there is no choice for them if they still want to do business in the state.

Asked how they would control the number of pigs if the state allows them to rear only 250,000 pigs in the modern pig farm, Sim said there are currently about 280,000 pigs in the state.

"I am quite sure that the state government will cut down the quota of some pig farmers to achieve the 250,000-pig target and if that is the case, we will need to control the reproduction of pigs," he said.

"Our situation is different from Malacca, where the pig farmers were required to move their pigs out from the state last year because of a drastic decrease in quota. Such a situation will not happen in Selangor and we do not have to send our pigs to other states."

Last week, Mohd Khir Toyo had demanded that the state government hold a public hearing in line with "Local Government Agenda 21" to listen to the local residents affected by the project.

He insisted a public hearing be conducted by Tanjung Sepat assemblyman Datuk Abdul Karim Mansor if the state government fails to do so.

Agriculture, Modernisation, Natural Resources and Entrepreneurial Development Committee chairman Yaakob Sapari was not available for comment.

Two weeks ago, Yaakob had said the state government will not spend a sen on the project as the cost will be entirely borne by the pig farmers and private investors, and the modern pig farm will only supply pork for consumption in the state.

Penyapu bukan punca BN hilang S'gor - Malaysiakini

Oleh Fathi Aris Omar | Apr 28, 08 5:14pm

Bekas menteri besar Selangor menafikan "anugerah penyapu" kepada seorang pegawai pihak berkuasa tempatan (PBT) menjadi punca BN kalah teruk sehingga negeri itu kini jatuh ke tangan Pakatan Rakyat.

Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo berkata sebahagian besar faktor tidak ditentukan oleh negeri tetapi "akibat faktor-faktor nasional" di luar pengaruh negeri itu.

"Saya tidak bersetuju, kalau faktor penyapu menyumbang kepada kekalahan negeri Selangor.

"Apa telah berlaku di Pulau Pinang, apa telah berlaku di Kedah, Perak dan juga Wilayah Persekutuan? Itu semua isu politik bila mana kita menafikan, sindrom sangkalan kita," katanya dalam wawancara dengan Malaysiakini minggu lalu.

Beliau diminta mengulas tuduhan dua akhbar utama Akhbar Berita Harian, senada dengan New Straits Times, pada 16 April yang mendakwa isu anugerah penyapu, keris dan perobohan kuil sebagai punca-punca yang menyumbang ketewasan teruk BN dalam pilihanraya umum ke-12.

Melalui lidah pengarang yang jarang-jarang dimuatkan di halaman muka depan, dua akhbar itu menyatakan: "Ada yang mahu (Datuk Seri) Abdullah (Ahmad Badawi) seorang saja bertanggungjawab atas kekalahan (pilihanraya umum 8 Mac) itu sedangkan mereka terlepas daripada tanggungjawab itu.

"Mereka seolah-olah cuba menafikan hakikat bahawa kebencian sebahagian pengundi kepada BN dan Umno yang berputik sejak sekian lama, disuburkan oleh tindak-tanduk mereka sendiri sehingga menghasilkan buah busuk pada pilihan raya umum lalu."

Tindak-tanduk yang dimaksudkan itu termasuklah upacara menghunuskan keris oleh Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein di persidangan agung Pemuda yang "mengguris hati masyarakat bukan Melayu sehingga pengundi Cina tidak mengundi BN".

Harian itu, yang dianggap dekat dengan perdana menteri, juga mendakwa kejadian merobohkan kuil di Selangor dan menghadiahkan penyapu kepada kakitangan awam sehingga "menyebabkan ramai kakitangan awam dan pengundi Melayu mengundi pembangkang sehingga negeri itu kini bertukar kerajaan."

Anugerah penyapu itu disampaikan Dr Mohamad Khir kepada yang dipertua Majlis Daerah Hulu Selangor, Tukiman Nail pada 17 November lepas sebagai lambang pengajaran akibat memberi perkhidmatan yang paling tidak memuaskan daripada keseluruhan PBT di negeri itu.

Dalam wawancara Khamis lalu, mantan menteri besar itu berkata:

"Apabila saya bincang, setahun yang lepas, mereka setuju. Ada cadangan memberi (anugerah) selipar, gantung selipar di leher. Ada pula yang mencadangkan, suruh kita pakaikan baju koyak dan ada mencadangkan beri penyapu.

"Cuma mungkin kesilapan (saya, menganugerahkan) penyapu (yang) tidak dibalut. Itu sebab yang siapkan (anugerah) itu bukan saya. Pegawai kerajaan yang siapkan semua ini. Dan dah dipersetujui sebelum itu," katanya.

Tidak lama selepas wawancara tersebut, Dr Mohamad Khir juga menyentuh isu yang sama di blognya.

"Hadiah penyapu dipilih kerana ia merupakan simbolik sebagai usaha untuk membersihkan sikap buruk dan masalah di PBT tersebut," coretnya.

"Perkara ini turut diberitahu oleh salah seorang pegawai (bahawa menjadi amalan) biasa dilakukan di negara-negara yang mempunyai produktiviti tinggi seperti di Korea Selatan.

"Dan saya telah mengarahkan supaya mesyuarat membuat pilihan, akhirnya penyapu telah dipersetujui sebagai hadiah kepada PBT yang gagal mencapai tahap pungutan cukai minima."

Keputusan setahun lebih awal itu, tambahnya lagi, dibuat agar PBT mempunyai masa yang cukup untuk meningkatkan tahap kecekapan mereka.

SS15 the latest dengue hotspot - The Star

April 28, 2008 By LIM CHIA YING

THE SS15 area of Subang Jaya has become the latest hotspot for dengue over the past week after dengue cases reportedly decreased in SS14 and SS18.

The Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) confirmed that at Jalan SS15/5F, there had been four reported cases.

Recently, council officers took to the streets together with Subang Jaya assemblyman Hannah Yeoh during her weekly dengue operation to remind residents the importance of spending 10 minutes to check their compounds.

According to Yeoh, many of the houses along the street were being rented out to college students and she believes they many not feel as compelled to clean up the compounds.

“They may be too caught up with their studies and assignments or might not feel a sense of belonging.

“I’m hoping to approach the colleges to carry out dengue awareness talks or campaigns for the students,” Yeoh said.

While the drains were mostly dry, residents pointed out that drain junctions located at the end of a row of homes were trapping water.

Residents also showed Yeoh and the officers the bumpy field at Jalan SS15/5E, where they claimed the park’s uneven terrain caused water to stagnate.

“Children come to play at this park while adults jog here in the evenings. After a downpour, the water won’t drain away.

“Ground levelling works need to be done here,” the residents said.

The MPSJ officers present took note of the issue and said they would revert to Yeoh on the immediate actions taken to rectify the problem.

Meanwhile, the roof and gutter designs of the homes were also found wanting, as they are flat and could easily trap water.

Yeoh said she would continue meeting the people to spread the dengue message over the next few weeks and urge them to cooperate.

“We should never assume our homes are dengue free as lives are at risk,” she said.

The residents also took the opportunity to highlight several problems including the need for speed humps to prevent cars from speeding as they said several accidents had already occurred.

Teng says state assembly should be more than just a rubber stamp - The Star

April 28, 2008

A MORE proactive change is needed to transform the state assembly to a more governance-oriented entity, newly-appointed speaker Teng Chang Khim said.

Speaking at a talk entitled ‘What do the speaker and executive councillors do’ organised by China Press on Thursday night, Teng said the state assembly’s traditional passive role was not in keeping with current times.

Teng: ‘I’m looking forward to seeing a livelier state assembly’.
Change, he said, was crucial to improve the overall delivery system.

“I’m looking forward to seeing a livelier state assembly. It should be more than just a ‘rubber stamp’, as practiced by the previous government.

“Bills and policies are easily passed by the House because the members of the House feel the exco and Mentri Besar are their bosses,” he said, adding that it was a wrong perception of the representatives.

“Who gives them (exco and Mentri Besar) the power? It is the House that gives them the power.

Teng also said the major focus of the legislature was to monitor and ensure the executives perform as anticipated.

“The members of the house have the right to query and seek explanations from the government official if there is any wrong conduct or slowness to act,” he said.

To achieve the purpose effectively, Teng suggested that committees such as the Privileged Committee and Standing Order Committee be set up to supervise the executive roles.

Teng added that he would also suggest to the state government to establish a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to scrutinise auditors reports on government departments.

Another committee, the Select Committee, could also be formed on an ad hoc basis based on specific subjects or bills to enlarge the participation of the people.

Teng also said he was looking into longer debate as well as question-and-answer sessions for the house.

He would also make a proposal to the state government to allow live telecast of the house sitting by the local TV stations.

He said the state would continue with its previous practice of webcasting through the net.

Abused women and kids to get state help - The Star

April 28, 2008 By Christina Tan

THE Selangor state government is planning to set up one-stop centres at all government hospitals to provide resources and support for abused women and children.

State welfare, women’s affairs, science technology and innovation committee chairman Rodziah Ismail said victims of domestic violence, rape and abuse cases required attention during the crisis period.

“Comprehensive assistance is needed from protection and safe accommodation to emotional support, counselling and legal aid,” she said after chairing a dialogue with representatives from 60 women's non-governmental organisations (NGOs) recently.

Rodziah said the centre would seek help from the police, religious departments, NGOs, hospitals and the welfare department.

“The centre will provide medical treatment and all forms of help the victims need at one place,” she said, adding that at present, victims had to go and lodge police reports, seek legal advice and counselling on their own.

The establishment of the centres would take some time as it involved legal procedures, she said.

Rodziah added that the centres would be set up in areas with higher crime rates like the Klang Valley initially.

“The idea was started by the Federal Government and we feel that we can endorse it because it is a good solution to help women in trouble,” she said.

Rodziah also said the state government has formed a task force to study the possibility of given a RM75 monthly allowance to children in government nurseries.

She said priority would be given to children from underprivileged families with a household income RM1,200 and below.

Khir: Balkis didn't need approval - NST

Datin Seri Zaharah Kechik will take action against those who made false accusations against Balkis

SHAH ALAM: April 28, 2008 By Neville Spykerman

Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo has challenged the state government to take legal action over the dissolution of Balkis (Wives of Selangor Assemblymen and MPs Welfare and Charity Organisation) and the transfer of RM9.9 million funds.

In response to criticisms of the transfer the former menteri besar said: "Please don't talk rubbish and refer to our lawyer."

Dr Khir was defending his wife, Datin Seri Zaharah Kechik, the past president of Balkis, who has come under fire for calling an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) on March 11 to dissolve the charity.

He said the dissolution of Balkis and transfer of funds to the Association of Wives of Ministers and Deputy Ministers (Bakti) was done in accordance with the charity's constitution.

An EGM was convened after one-fifth of Balkis members requested for it, while the dissolution and transfer of funds to Bakti received approval from two-thirds of members, he said.

He said there was no need for auditors of Balkis to be informed or consulted before the charity was dissolved and the funds transferred.

"The role of auditors is to ensure the accounts are according to financial standards."

Dr Khir yesterday also disputed a statement by Selangor executive councillor for tourism, consumer affairs and environment Elizabeth Wong that Balkis accounts for last year had yet to be finalised.

"Everything was finalised before the funds were transferred."

Dr Khir also rejected Wong's view that Balkis needed the approval of the Internal Revenue Board (IRB) before transferring the funds.

Dr Khir said the Balkis constitution stated that funds could be transferred to any organisation with similar objectives and which had tax-exemption status by the IRB.

He said Balkis was a charity and the money raised was for the benefit of orphans and underprivileged students adopted by the charity.

He also lambasted the Bar Council for saying that the dissolution and transfer of funds could be tantamount to criminal breach of trust.

"They (the Bar Council) are lawyers and should not give opinions without studying the constitution of Balkis."

His wife, Zaharah also threatened to take legal action against those who continued to make "false accusations and unfounded allegations" against Balkis.

When contacted, Bar Council vice-president Ragunath Kesavan said Balkis was not a private company but a charitable body which received public funds.

"The dissolution and transfer of the huge amount of public funds are a matter of public interest."

Ragunath questioned the need to dissolve the charity.

"There was a general election and the people have spoken for change.

"New members should take over the charity and continue its purpose."

He said the dissolution of Balkis and the transfer of funds should be investigated.

"Those being investigated have nothing to fear if everything was done in accordance with the law."

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Balkis Dissolved According To Constitution, Says Zahrah

SHAH ALAM, April 27 (Bernama)

The wife of former Selangor menteri besar, Datin Seri Zahrah Kechik, said Sunday that the dissolution of the Wives of Selangor Assemblymen and MPs Welfare and Charity Organisation (Balkis) was according to its constitution.

The dissolution took place on March 11 before Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim was sworn-in as Selangor Menteri Besar on March 13, she told a press conference here.

"It means, I was the president at the time and had not relinguished the president's post. Therefore, the question of me not having to power to chair the general meeting called for the purpose Balkis' dissolution does not arise," she said.

She said Balkis was dissolved with the consent of over two-thirds its ordinary members during the special general meeting which was called by more than one-fifths of its ordinary members.

"The special general meeting and Balkis' dissolution were in line with Article 15(1) and 12 of Balkis Constitution and minutes of the meeting can confirm that all legal provisions have been complied with," she said.

Following the dissolution, Balkis' funds totalling RM9.9 million were transferred to the Wives of Ministers Welfare and Charity Organisation (Bakti) according to Article 15(2) of Balkis Constitution, Zahrah said.

"All decisions relating to the dissolution and donation of Balkis' money were made by ordinary members during an extraordinary general meeting and it was not my decision as the president or the Balkis committee's decision, and they were made by complying all legal provisions," she said.

She hoped that with the explanation, no one would make baseless accusations and slanders. Legal action would be taken of they did, she said.

Yesterday, Khalid requested for Balkis' dissolution to be withdrawn and the RM9.9 million transferred to Bakti to be returned.

Zahrah said that under Article 8 of Balkis constitution, the organisation could receive contributions from the government and government-linked companies.

"When Balkis received a contribution, it became Balkis'. Therefore, the question of the money being channelled out or returned to the government or any government-linked companies does not arise," she said.

Zahrah husband, Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo, who was present at the press conference said the state government should talk to the legal firm appointed by Balkis, Sallehudin & Co, if it was not satisfied with the issue.

Getting a legal advice would be better, he said.

"They are trying to politicise the issue and do not read Balkis Constitution correctly," he said.

He said the RM9.9 million was donated specially for students adopted by Balkis and it was transferred straight to Bakti following Balkis' dissolution and Bakti gave a written reply that it had received the money.

A newspaper report which said the money went to the account of a third party before it was tranferred to Bakti was incorrect, he said.

He said Balkis account for 2007 had been audited and under Balkis Constitution, it had the right to tranfer funds without the auditor's approval.


It’s ‘our’ money, not yours - The Sun

April 27, 2008 By R. Nadeswaran

TWENTY-EIGHT days before Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo was unseated as Selangor mentri besar, he asserted that the Selangor Economic Development Corporation (PKNS) was a private company and that its money and assets do not belong to the people.

At a pow-wow over lunch with this writer and his colleagues, he charged: “You wrote that the fine paid by PKNS was people’s money. No, PKNS is a private company.” (For the record, PKNS was imposed fines totalling RM330,000 for illegal clearing of land around the Bukit Cahaya Agricultural Park and at all material times, Mohd Khir was its chairman.)

Then he made a remarkable statement: “The fine goes back to the state coffin! (I’m sure he meant “coffers” but those at the lunch looked stunned when he used the word a second time). The money comes back to us.” Not wanting to argue with someone who has little knowledge of where the fines imposed by a court of justice end up and not wanting to give him a free lesson in financial procedures, I reserved my comments.

Today, PKNS is in the news again. Here’s a summary of what it paid out to Balkis, the organisation of wives of state assemblymen and MPs in Selangor.

• RM218,719 for the opening ceremony of Komplex Wawasan Balkis;

• RM200,000 for the Balkis dinner;

• RM10,000 for a table at the same dinner; and

• RM161,660 for programmes organised by Balkis.

If you thought that people’s money – not a private company’s money as Mohamad Khir sees it – was being handed out like candy, PKNS also sold 43,560 sq ft of land in Section 7 in Shah Alam at RM5.74 per sq ft – a bargain whichever way you look at it.

But no money changed hands. A contra deal for amount payable – RM250,000 – was made. The amount was off-set as a loan from PKNS to the state government and this was duly endorsed at the meeting of the State Financial Committee on Oct 19, 2000. Has this loan been settled?

And the deal was between PKNS and the state government. How did Balkis come into the picture?

Balkis for all intent and purposes was an organisation that received funds and other forms of financial help from the state government. The mentri besar’s wife occupies the seat of the president and the members of the committee are elected among the wives.

Just like Mohamad Khir deemed PKNS a private entity, his wife Datin Seri Zaharah Kechik saw Balkis as a “sendirian berhad”. How else could she call for a meeting and dissolve the organisation and transfer funds running into millions?

Doesn’t the constitution say that the president should be the mentri besar’s wife? As of March 9, her hubby was no longer the mentri besar and therefore, she automatically relinquishes her post. But no, giving up power and influence does not come easy.

Leaving that issue aside, where else did our money, (oops! PKNS money as Mohamad Khir sees it) end up? Special number plates for its officers, for one. Should the people pay for their employees to drive around in cars with fancy number plates? It can be argued that this exercise involved a few thousand ringgit, but it’s the principle that matters.

On a larger scale, PKNS built what was termed as a public golf course, which has since been privatised. Since it was built with people’s money running into millions, why should the rakyat pay commercial rates at the Seri Selangor Golf Club? Were open tenders called for the privatisation deal or was it handed on a platter to some uncle or brother-in-law’s sister’s son?

What about the joint-venture deals and other questionable agreements which could have committed us? Shouldn’t we, the rakyat be entitled to know? Or should we remain silent with folded arms as those who raped and plundered the state coffers get away scot-free?

That is why there is a dire need for accountability and transparency in all matters involving public money. Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim has done the right thing by ordering an audit of Balkis, but what about the state-owned companies and agencies, who are flaunting our money as if it is theirs?

The goings-on within Balkis are just the small fish that’s visible on the surface in shallow waters. Deep down, there are even bigger ones who have used our money without having to account for it and even stolen our money. Shouldn’t these thieves be brought to book? Shouldn’t we file civil suits to recover what rightfully belongs to us?

Abdul Khalid, on taking office, promised reports every quarter or 100 days. The clock is ticking, and by the end of next month, can we expect that report and see a few heads roll?

Balkis auditors 'not consulted' - NST

SHAH ALAM: April 27, 2008

The auditors for the Selangor Wives Welfare and Charity Organisation (Balkis) were not consulted before its past president dissolved the charity and transferred RM9.9 million to another association.

State executive councillor for tourism, consumer affairs and environment Elizabeth Wong said the auditors had not met Datin Seri Zahrah Kechik, wife of former menteri besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo, on the matter.

"The auditors have informed us that no meeting was held with Balkis (or Zahrah) prior to the attempt to dissolve the charity and no advice given in respect of dissolving or transferring funds."

Wong said the auditors had also disclosed that Balkis' accounts for last year had yet to be finalised.

She said the auditors would be releasing a statement to the press next week on the issue which saw Balkis transferring the funds to the Association of Wives of Ministers and Deputy Ministers (Bakti).

Wong said the matter was serious as it may amount not only to breach of trust but an example of flight of funds.

"We have written to the Registrar of Societies and are waiting for a response on Balkis' dissolution.

"We are confident that the ROS will agree that an extraordinary general meeting (EGM) be held with new and old members and for an official handing over to Puan Sri Salbiah Tunut, the wife of Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim."

Wong believes the decision to dissolve the charity was made by a small group of people and was not unanimous.

"In the event the charity is dissolved by a unanimous decision, its funds can only be transferred to the state government or a similar charity with the same objectives, upon the approval of the Inland Revenue Board.

'Thus far, we believe there has been no approval from the IRB to transfer the assets."

She also disputed a statement by Zahrah that the charity was formed by wives of Barisan Nasional assemblymen.

Wong said Balkis was a charity which received tax exemption and, therefore, had to be apolitical.

"They cannot consider the funds as their own piggybank which they can move it around as they wish."

Wong said membership in Balkis was open not only to the wives of elected representatives but also to past and present Selangor women elected representatives and even women elected representatives who stay in the state.

On Dr Mohd Khir's contention that Zahrah was still Balkis president on March 11 as he was still the caretaker menteri besar then, she said the objective of a caretaker government was to manage and not remove funds.

Meanwhile, Abdul Khalid yesterday urged Zahrah to withdraw the application to dissolve the charity and to resolve the matter amicably.

He said Balkis was only a trustee of the money and did not have the right to transfer its funds.

"Even the Bar Council (in a published statement) is of the opinion that the move was a breach of trust."

Return cash, Khir's wife told - The Star

SHAH ALAM: April 27, 2008

Give back the RM9.9mil, withdraw the application to dissolve the Wives of Selangor Assemblymen and MPs Welfare and Charity Organisation (Balkis) and the matter is settled.

This is Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim's offer to Datin Seri Zahrah Kechik who was the organisation's head when she and the other members decided to transfer the RM9.9mil from its coffers after Barisan Nasional lost the state during the March general election.

The group also decided to dissolve the organisation.

Khalid said his offer was the best solution to resolve the controversy.

“If not, the state will pursue the matter because the people want us to be correct. If there has been misconduct, then justice will take its course,” he told reporters yesterday.

The issue blew up when it was revealed that Balkis, lead by Zahrah, who is the wife of former Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo, transferred RM9.9mil to the Association of Wives of Ministers and Deputy Ministers (Bakti) three days after the state fell to Pakatan Rakyat.

Zahrah said she had had legal advice on the matter and did it to prevent the funds from falling into the hands of the new government.

Khir was quoted as saying they were worried that the money, which was raised for the welfare of children, would not be used for the correct purpose.

In an immediate response yesterday, Zahrah said the current state government should contact Bakti since the RM9.9mil was in its hands. As for revoking the dissolution of Balkis, she said the state government could pursue the matter with the Registrar of Societies (ROS).

“Every step of the way, from holding the emergency meeting on March 11 to transferring the money to Bakti as a donation, we sought the advice of our lawyers because we wanted to be legally correct in what we did,” said Zahrah.

Dr Khir said Zahrah and Balkis were open to any investigation by the Anti-Corruption Agency, the ROS or any other party because “they have nothing to hide”.

“It is not as if Zahrah planned the whole thing. On March 11, when she held the emergency meeting, it was the members who called for Balkis to be dissolved.

“It was also the members who unanimously decided for the RM9.9mil to be donated to Bakti,” he said.

Earlier yesterday, Khalid’s wife Puan Sri Salbiah Tunut said she should be Balkis president as she was the Mentri Besar’s wife.

“We are ready to continue with the good work of Balkis for single mothers, underprivileged children and other needy groups,” she said during a press conference at the Mentri Besar’s official residence in Section 7 here.

She also questioned the legality of Zahrah's actions.

Selangor executive councillor Teresa Kok said there was suspicion that the emergency meeting on March 11 was not conducted legally.

Firm says barricade was legal - The Star

KAJANG: April 27, 2008

The Cheras-Kajang Highway concessionaire, Grand Saga Sdn Bhd, has maintained that the barricade that formerly stood at the Bandar Mahkota Cheras toll-free access road was legally constructed.

Grand Saga business development and corporate affairs executive director Zainal Abidin Ali said demolishing the barricade on April 21 was unlawful.

The Bandar Mahkota Cheras Open Access Road Committee carried out the demolition by claiming the barricade was illegal.

Zainal also said the issue could not be debated because the barricade is the subject matter of a legal suit between township developer Narajaya Sdn Bhd, the Malaysian Highway Authority (MHA) and the concessionaire, pending a decision by the High Court. The hearing is scheduled for May 21.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Siasat hakim kes pindah RM10 juta

Apr 25, 08 9:55pm - Malaysiakini

Seorang hakim dilaporkan terlibat memberi nasihat kepada Badan Amal dan Kebajikan Tenaga Isteri-isteri Menteri (Bakti) dalam kontroversi penyaluran wang RM9.9 juta dari Badan Kebajikan Isteri-isteri Wakil Rakyat Selangor (Balkis) selepas ia cuba dibubarkan pada 13 Mac.

Perpindahan wang Balkis, yang dipengerusikan oleh isteri bekas menteri besar Datuk Mohamad Khir Toyo, kini dipertikaikan kerajaan Selangor, lapor The Sun di halaman depan hari ini.

Sambil menggesa siasatan dijalankan terhadap hakim tersebut, bekas pegawai khas Pertubuhan Bangsa-bangsa Bersatu (PBB) Datuk Param Cumaraswamy berkata perkembangan itu "luar biasa"

"Jika ia benar-benar terjadi (seperti dilaporkan), hakim itu mesti dipanggil untuk menjelaskan tindakannya itu," katanya, mengulas laporan tentang skandal tersebut.

"Perilaku hakim itu boleh menimbulkan perasaan curiga bahawa beliau membenarkan kepentingan peribadinya bercanggahan dengan tugas kehakimannya yang boleh membawa kesan pelanggaran Kod Etika Hakim 1994."

Akhbar itu melaporkan Bakti menerima wang Balkis, satu persatuan negeri yang bergabung bawahnya, sebanyak itu untuk disalurkan pula kepada sebuah badan lain yang akan ditubuhkan oleh bekas ahli-ahlinya.

Zaharah Kechik, yang memegang jawatan presiden Balkis atas sifatnya isteri menteri besar Selangor itu sebelum pilihanraya umum 8 Mac, dilaporkan cuba membubarkan badan itu dan menubuhkan sebuah badan lain, antaranya mungkin dicadangkan diberi nama "Balkis-BN".

Laporan itu menyebut, Zaharah memanggil mesyuarat tergempar exco Balkis pada 11 Mac untuk tujuan itu, dan keesokannya akaun badan itu ditutup dan wang sebesar itu dipindahkan ke sebuah akaun lain sebelum sampai kepada Bakti.

Dalam satu kenyataan hari ini, Param menambah:

"Pihak berkuasa yang menyiasat percubaan membubarkan Balkis dan memindahkan dananya harus memaklumkan perilaku hakim tersebut kepada ketua hakim negara yang kemudiannya harus mengambil tindakan sewajarnya terhadap hakim tersebut," katanya .

Fireworks at opening of centre - The Star

April 26, 2008 By CHRISTINA TAN

Pandamaran state assemblyman Ronnie Liu has pledged to spend as much time as possible with his constituents despite his busy schedule as a Selangor executive councillor.

To fulfil the promises he made during last month’s general election, Liu has opened his service centre in Jalan Pandamaran, Klang.

The centre was officially opened by DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang recently in a grand ceremony that included fireworks and a lion dance witnessed by hundreds of people.

Liu said it took him a month to set up the centre and prepare for the opening ceremony.

“With the establishment of this centre I hope we can provide the best services to the people,” he said in his speech.

He said his three special assistants, comprising a Malay, a Chinese and an Indian, would be helping him run the centre.

Also present at the event were Pakatan Rakyat leaders, Chinese community leaders, Klang Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Indus-try chairman Ter Leong Yap and Klang residents.

Liu said he would also extend his services to the constituents of Kota Alam Shah whose elected representative M. Manoharan was still under ISA detention.

“I will help to sort out problems faced by the people of Kota Alam Shah until Manoharan is released,” he said.

Liu also apologised to his constituents if he was unable to attend to each and everyone of them due to his tight schedule.

“My three special assistants at this centre will be here if you have any complaints or need help. They are very helpful,” he said.

Liu’s special assistants could be contacted at:

019-332 9092 -- Tee Boon Hock

019-223 9053 -- Appu

019-312 4444 -- Fauzi

Liu’s service centre is open from Monday to Saturday. For details, call the centre at 03-3166 8706.

It was either politics or business for Ean Yong - The Star



Name: Ean Yong Hian Wah (DAP)
Age: 29
Marital status: Married
Hometown: Semenyih
Constituency: N28 Seri Kembangan
Profession: Full-time politician

SERI KEMBANGAN assemblyman Ean Yong Hiah Wah would be running his family manufacturing business in Semenyih had he lost in the general election.

However his second attempt proved to be fruitful as he not only beat two others for the seat, he is now the state executive councillor in charge of New Village Develop-ment and Illegal Factory Task-force.

“I was ready to run the family business if I had lost. Instead, I find myself crafting out a good management plan as both an exco member and an assemblyman,” said the 29-year-old accountancy graduate.

Ean Yong, who is also known as Au Yong to others, must thank his college mate Bukit Bendera MP Liew Chin Tong (with whom he attended the New Era College in Kajang), for helping him to make his inroad into politics.

“He was the one who introduced me to DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang six years ago. I was made chairman of the state DAP two years ago although I lost in the 2004 general election in Kampung Tunku,” he added.

Ean Yong has a penchant for mountain climbing. His last outing was up Gunung Tahan.

If mountaineering is easy for Ean Yong, his new position as an exco member would not be as easy as it comes with the heavy responsibilities of serving the rakyat.

StarMetro: How much time do you spend on the computer?

Ean Yong: I normally spend around six to seven hours a day on the computer both at the office and at home.

StarMetro: Do you play a musical instrument, dance or sing?

Ean Yong: I play acoustic guitar. I enjoy it and I’m glad that I chose it.

StarMetro: What kind of music do you listen to? Name a favourite song?

Ean Yong: I love Mariah Carey and David Tao. Hero is one of my favourites.

StarMetro: Are you into movies. Name a favourite movie?

Ean Yong: I love “Star Wars”. I have the whole collection.

StarMetro: How do you stay healthy?

Ean Yong: I love mountain climbing. I’ve climbed Gunung Tahan four times since I was 13.

StarMetro: What do you read. What was the last book you read?

Ean Yong: I read The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman.

StarMetro: Coffee or Tea?

Ean Yong: I like cappuccino.

On top of things: Ean Yong working on his laptop in his office at the State Secretariat building in Shah Alam.

StarMetro: What languages can you speak?

Ean Yong: I speak English, Malay, Mandarin, Hakka and Cantonese.

StarMetro: What is the gadget you can’t do without?

Ean Yong: At this moment, I think hand phone is the “must”.

StarMetro: What is your contribution to environmental conservation?

Ean Yong: I love the rainforest and islands of Malaysia. I’d hate to see it destroyed.

StarMetro: What is your favourite food and drink?

Ean Yong: Any food that is typical Malaysian and it must go well with water (my favourite drink)

High-rise living not suitable for estate workers - The Star

April 26, 2008 by GEETHA KRISHNAN

Housing displaced estate workers in high-rise flats should be shelved because it can give rise to a different set of social problems, said Selangor Health, Plantation Workers, Poverty and Caring Government Committee chairman Dr A. Xavier Jayakumar.

Dr Jayakumar said high-rise living broke the social network of these people who were drawn together owing to poverty.

“Just because they are asked to provide housing, estate owners should not simply build flats,” he said, following visits to the Semenyih Estate in Semenyih and Abaco Estate in Beranang on Thursday.

He also said the state was drawing up by-laws to ensure estate owners build suitable living quarters and care for the welfare of their employees following displacement.

“Estate owners have no right to shirk their responsibility simply because the land is sold or earmarked for development.

“They should not forget that these employees have slogged for them for decades,” said Jayakumar who grew up in an estate.

He was particularly appalled and saddened with the living condition of the rubber tappers in Abaco Estate.

He said the wooden houses were reminiscent of the poor accommodation provided in the 60s.

Dr Jayakumar felt angry after stepping into seventy-year-old widow M. Rajamah’s dilapidated home where the former estate worker lived alone.

Her sole possessions were a bed and some clothes.

“These conditions are simply inhumane and unacceptable in present time.

“How can the estate owner allow his employees to live this way without piped water, electricity and toilets for the past 40 years, forcing the workers to relieve themselves in the jungle?” he asked, adding that the houses fell way below the minimum housing standard.

All the 14 families living and working in the rubber estate earn an average of RM500 and below monthly which puts them in the hardcore poor bracket because the country’s poverty line is RM650.

The workers are paid daily wages where one kilogramme of rubber is bought for 50 sen but they cannot tap rubber if it rains.

One worker said she only earned RM42 last month although the Malayan Agricultural Producers Association (Mapa) has set the guaranteed minimum wage at RM420.

The workers who spoke to Dr Jayakumar also said they were threatened not to lodge reports with the authorities by the estate owner.

Social worker S. Arutchelvan, who visits Abaco regularly, said the workers were further enslaved to the estate through micro loans that they could not afford to repay or take decades to settle due to their dismal income.

He said many complaints were filed with the Labour Department but an official who was present claimed there were no reports from Abaco.

He added that an immediate effort to improve life in the estate would be to offer skills training for the youth and to obtain birth certificates and MyKads for those without documents.

Dr Jayakumar, who also visited Semenyih Estate with Hulu Selangor assemblyman Datuk Dr Zainal Abidin Ahmad and Kajang assemblyman Lee Kim Sin, found the living conditions better there.

Only foreign contract workers were hired and the company had provided accommodation for the displaced estate workers elsewhere. Only a few families remain at the estate.

Resident M. Uma said they wanted better public amenities like drinking water. The storage tank where the water was stored emitted a foul smell and Zainal Abidin pointed out that worms could be seen at the bottom.

Dr Jayakumar said drainage in the estate would be improved while clean water would be provided.

He also said all estate owners were invited for a high-tea at a hotel in Shah Alam at 4pm on April 29.

Khalid Calls On Abdullah

SHAH ALAM, April 25 (Bernama)

Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim Friday paid a courtesy call on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in Putrajaya.

According to a statement issued here, among issues discussed were the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ), the Subang airport utilisation as well as foreign workers issue in Selangor.

Abdullah had advised the Selangor government to discuss the PKFZ and Subang airport issues with the Transport Ministry, the statement said.

It said the prime minister had also given a positive response on the proposal for a halal hub at the airport's area.

The state government was reported to be keen in developing the hub within the airport's area.

The statement said Abdullah also told Abdul Khalid that the state government should resolve issues related to water supply with the Economic Planning Unit as well as with the Energy, Water and Communications Ministry.

Selangor Government to seek legal advice on Balkis affair - The Star

PETALING JAYA: April 26, 2008

The Selangor Government will seek legal advice on the controversy involving the Wives of Selangor Assemblymen and MPs Welfare and Charity Organisation (Balkis) and its funds.

Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, the political secretary to Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim, said the MB did not want to make any further statement on the matter as the state was currently consulting its lawyers.

“We are looking into the legal aspects of the application to dissolve Balkis and also the transfer of its funds before we decide on the next course of action,” he said, adding that the state would take legal action against the organisation’s office bearers if there was any wrongdoing.

In the meantime, the state government has asked the Registrar of Societies (ROS) to ignore the application to disband Balkis made by its previous president Datin Seri Zahrah Kechik, the wife of former Selangor MB Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo.

The state government said in a statement on Thursday that Balkis made the application following a decision during an emergency meeting held on March 11.

It argued that Zahrah could not hold office after the March 8 general election as Dr Khir was no longer MB.

It said that the organisation’s constitution clearly stated that the president had to be the Selangor MB's wife and after the Barisan Nasional lost the state, Zahrah did not have the right to represent Balkis or make the application, and even her right to chair the emergency meeting was questionable.

The state government also felt that disbanding Balkis under such circumstances was against the spirit behind its formation in 1985 to help the needy, provide ideas to the government on welfare issues and help Malaysians of all races and religions.

The statement said a Balkis official had informed the state government that RM9.9mil was moved from the organisation to the Association of Wives of Ministers and Deputy Ministers (Bakti).

It said the MB's office had also been informed that part of the funds under Balkis came from state-owned companies like Kumpulan Darul Ehsan Bhd which contributed over RM268,000 last year and the Selangor State Development Corporation which contributed more than RM590,000 in 2006 and 2007.

“The state government, therefore, is asking the ROS not to approve the application (to disband Balkis) until the contributions from all the state-owned companies have been ascertained,” the statement continued.

The state government said that it and all its companies would soon request that all contributions made to Balkis be returned, as the organisation was only acting as a trustee for the funds that were to be used for welfare purposes.

Bar Council vice-chairman Ragunath Kesavan said the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) must investigate Balkis for removing almost RM9.9mil from its bank account.

“There is a potential criminal breach of trust (element) or corruption, therefore the ACA must act fast. The money belongs to the association members, not to the office bearers.

“There are rules and regulations to be followed under the Registrar of Societies,” he said.

Selangor has no need to pay concessionaire RM200m - The Star

April 26, 2008 By ELAN PERUMAL

THE Selangor Government will not pay any compensation to highway concessionaire Grand Saga Sdn Bhd.

State Local Government committee chairman Ronnie Liu said the state government had no contract with Grand Saga, the concessionaire for the Cheras-Kajang Highway in Cheras.

Under the circumstance, he said the state government had the right to open the access road in Bandar Mahkota Cheras so that the residents would be provided with the option of a toll-free access to the area.

“It is absurd to pay compensation totalling RM200mil to the concessionaire when there is no contract.

Liu: ‘It is absurd to pay compensation’
“The contract is between Grand Saga and the Federal Government and therefore there is no reason why we cannot provide an access road on our land,'' he told StarMetro.

He stressed that the state was determined to open the access road, adding that the Selangor government was firm in its decision on the matter.

“We are the people's government and our stand will favour the people and there is no way things will change on our side,'' he said

Besides that, Liu said the highway builder, Narajaya Sbd Bhd, had not obtained approval for the construction of the highway from the Kajang Municipal Council.

He said they had in fact failed to get the nod from the Malaysian Highway Authority before the highway was constructed.

“To make matters worse, the developer did not submit an application to the council for the construction of the highway,'' he said

He added that after detailed research, he found former Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo's claim that the concessionaire must be compensated RM200mil if the access is to be opened as baseless.

Dr Khir was quoted as saying that when the road was first opened in 2005, the concessionaire had asked for RM200mil in compensation for loss of toll collection based on the formula in the concession agreement.

“That is why we decided that the toll-free access road should be closed as it would be unfair to use taxpayers money to pay such a huge sum,” he said at a press conference this week.

He said the state had asked the developer, Narajaya Sdn Bhd, to pay the sum but the company also found the figure too high.

The present state government, he said, had promised to open the access road recently but added that it should not use public funds as it was unfair to the rest of the taxpayers in the state who would not benefit from it.

Friday, April 25, 2008

'Syabas to lose RM17m' - NST

SHAH ALAM: April 25, 2008

Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas) will lose RM17 million as a result of the Selangor government's decision to provide the first 20 cubic metres of water free to the public from June.

State opposition leader Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo said Syabas would have to absorb the losses if the state did not compensate the company.

Mohd Khir said the state government had also promised to reduce assessment rates by 20 per cent for households and 10 per cent for commercial property.

He said this would cost the state government RM170 million a year.

State government tries to block funds transfer - NST

SHAH ALAM: April 25, 2008

The state government is challenging a move to dissolve the organisation by the Selangor Wives Welfare and Charity Organisation (Balkis). Balkis is an association for the wives of past and serving Selangor elected representatives.

The state government is also moving to block a move by members to transfer RM9.9 million of the organisation's funds to the Association of Wives of Ministers and Deputy Ministers (Bakti).

According to a statement from the menteri besar's press secretariat, the move to dissolve the organisation was made after the change of state government following the general election.

The statement questioned the legality of the decision as Datin Seri Zahrah Kechik, the wife of former menteri besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo, was the one who wrote to the Registrar of Societies and Bakti informing them of the decision.

The president of Balkis is the wife of the serving menteri besar. Since Dr Mohd Khir is no longer the state's leader, Zahrah is also no longer the organisation's president.

The state government is questioning the validity of the meeting on March 11 which decided on the dissolution.

RM10m gone in 3 days - The Sun

PETALING JAYA (April 24, 2008): By R. Nadeswaran and Terence Fernandez

Three days after their husbands lost power to rule Selangor, the wives got into the act – plotting to dissolve a welfare body and remove almost RM10 million from its bank accounts.

But their attempts have been thwarted by Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim who wrote to the Registrar of Societies (ROS) to question the validity of the decision to dissolve the Association of Wives of State Assemblymen and Members of Parliament in Selangor (Balkis).

It is learnt that Abdul Khalid has ordered a thorough investigation and audit into the affairs of the association which was set up in 1985 to undertake welfare work.

According to documents sighted by theSun, Datin Seri Zaharah Kechik, the wife of former mentri besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo had on March 11 convened an extraordinary general meeting of the committee to dissolve Balkis and close its bank accounts. The following day, the accounts were closed, with the money transferred to another account and then to Bakti – the federal Organisation of Wives of Ministers which Balkis is affiliated to.

On March 13, the former exco members of Balkis issued a notice of dissolution to the ROS, which included amending the constitution of Balkis and establishing a new organisation – Balkis-BN, is among the names suggested.

“This was to prevent the Balkis premises (Kompleks Wawasan Balksi - KWB) and the association itself from being taken over by the new state government,” said an insider.

“Once this was done, then the money will be transferred back to the new organisation,” the insider added.

However, the ROS in a letter stated that Balkis' application for dissolution was incomplete and gave it 30 days to furnish additional information.

The constitution of Balkis states that the mentri besar's wife should be the president. Sources in the state government argue that since Mohamad Khir is no longer MB, Zaharah is no longer the president and has no power whatsoever to dissolve the association or liquidate its funds. Incidentally, the constitution also states that the organisation must remain apolitical.

Legal experts say by right, following the events of March 8, the exco headed by Zaharah should have convened an emergency meeting to discuss the handing over of Balkis to a new exco – with the new president being Abdul Khalid’s wife Puan Sri Salbiah Tunut.

Bakti, meanwhile, according to minutes of a recent meeting it held, had under advice of a sitting judge received the RM9.9 million from Balkis, which it has placed in a fixed deposit. The money would then be transferred back to the new organisation set up by the former Balkis members.

Bakti would also take over a Special Education Project involving millions of ringgit until the “new” Balkis is formed.

This is clearly goes against Balkis’ constitution which states that in the event of a dissolution, all monies must be transferred to the government or a similar fund, with the approval of the Inland Revenue Board director-general.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that Abdul Khalid had in his letter to the ROS on Wednesday (April 23) said of the amount in Balkis’ accounts, about RM850,000 was donated by state government companies – Kumpulan Darul Ehsan Bhd which gave RM268,862 last year and Perbadanan Kemajuan Negri Selangor (PKNS) which contributed RM590,379.50 between 2006 and 2007.

It is understood that Abdul Khalid is also investigating the transfer of 43,560sq ft of land in Section 7, Shah Alam, which the state government had in 2002 offered to Balkis at a nominal cost of RM250,000 (RM5.74/sq ft) for the setting up of a shelter home for women that cost RM5 million.

The saga continues - The Star

April 25, 2008 By GEETHA KRISHNAN

IN a new development to the Bandar Mahkota Cheras access road issue, Cheras-Kajang Highway concessionaire Grand Saga Sdn Bhd has issued a warning letter to the company that owns the heavy machinery used in dismantling the barricade.

Residents of the township brought down the barricade blocking their toll-free access to the highway on Monday after mounting frustration against Grand Saga for closing the road in 2005.

The highway concessionaire issued the letter to Wing Sing Tractor Work through a legal firm based in Kuala Lumpur.

Among the contents was this phrase, “Take notice that you are to cease and desist from further causing and/or assisting in the damage and/or demolishing of the said barricade lawfully constructed/erected by our client”.

At a press conference on Thursday, Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng who is one of the legal advisers for the Bandar Mahkota Cheras Open Access Road Committee said the letter would be ignored.

Another legal adviser Keppy Wong said no party could claim the legal right to erect the barricade and in doing so Grand Saga had overlooked the lawsuit filed by township developer Narajaya Sdn Bhd and scheduled for a court hearing on May 21.

Cheras MP Tan Kok Wai who chaired the press conference called on the intervention of the Federal Government because the Selangor state government had repeatedly stated its stand on the issue.

“We hope the government would review all highway concession agreements. The Cheras-Kajang Highway was built at a cost of RM286mil but toll collection to-date has exceeded RM300mil. The concession agreement is till 2027 so imagine the profits,” he said.

Residents have been maintaining a 24-hour vigil at the Bandar Mahkota Cheras-Bandar Tun Hussein Onn junction since Monday, fearing the road would be blocked again.

They also take turns to control the traffic flow.

In a special meeting held at Menara MPKj on Wednesday, the surveyor hired by the Kajang Munici-pal Council to determine who has right of way over the road and to clarify ownership of the land asked for more time to announce his findings.

“We are confident the land belongs to the state. But if the outcome proves that the land belongs to Federal government, we hope residents' civil rights would be considered and the matter put to rest with a positive outcome,” said Selangor executive councillor Ronnie Liu who chaired the meeting.

Another surveyor will also be appointed and the results of the report would be revealed on Apr 30.

Be prepared to pay - The Star

April 25, 2008 By DHARMENDER SINGH

THE Selangor government will have to ensure that highway concessionaire Grand Saga Sdn Bhd is paid RM200mil in compensation if it allows the access road in Bandar Mahkota Cheras, Kajang to be opened.

Former Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo said when the road was first opened in 2005 the concessionaire had asked for RM200mil in compensation for loss of toll collection based on the formula in the concession agreement.

“That is why we decided that the toll-free access road should be closed as it would be unfair to use taxpayers money to pay such a huge sum,” he said at a press conference.

He said the state had asked the developer, Narajaya Sdn Bhd to pay the sum but the company too found the figure too high.

The current state government, he said, had however promised to open the access road recently but it should not use public funds as it was unfair to the rest of the taxpayers in the state who would not benefit from it.

Dr Khir, who is also the Opposition Leader, also called on the state government to ensure that it kept its promise to offer the first 20 cubic metre of water free to consumers by June 1.

He said the offer would cost water distribution concessionaire Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas) RM17mil a month.

“We do not want to see problems inthe implementation as people are eagerly waiting for the free water that was listed as part of their (Pakatan Rakyat’s) election promises,” he said, adding that changes also needed to be made to the billing system.

He said the state government had initially said it would provide free water by April but then postponed it to June 1.

Dr Khir also asked the state government to deliver on its promise during the General Election to give the people a 20% discount on assessment charges on homes and 10% for commercial properties.

He said annual assessment collection in the state stood at RM889mil and providing the discounts would reduce the government’s revenue by RM170mil per year but the pledge to lessen the people’s burden with the discount should be kept by the current government.

“I have also had many come up to my service centre to enquire where and how to apply for the RM1,000 aid that they (Pakatan Rakyat) promised to give each Selangor born university student during the election campaign,” he said.

He said the new intake for students at local universities was in July and people wanted to know the procedures involved in getting the aid.

On the integrated high-tech pig-rearing farm in Ladang Tumbuk, Dr Khir said, the state government should hold a public hearing to get the opinions of nearby villagers and pig rearers before carrying out the project.

He said the Barisan Nasional assemblymen would lend its support too if the government got at least two-thirds of the people and farmers to agree.

“Although it was proposed during our time, it is being implemented under the Pakatan Rakyat government and they need to convince the people it is for in their own good before they go on,” he said.

He said Barisan assemblymen would conduct a public hearing on the matter if the state government failed.