Day 25 in Office - Update on the Government's Progress

Jun 04, 2018

We're closing into the first month with Pakatan Harapan in government.

Progress has taken a step back this week as the government announced five of the initiatives in the "10 Promises within 100 days" manifesto to be postponed until the country's financial situation recovers.

01. Abolish the GST ... achieved
02. Introduce targeted petrol subsidies ... partially achieved; other subsidies postponed
03. Abolish unnecessary debts imposed on FELDA settlers ... not started
04. Introduce EPF contribution for housewives ... postponed
05. Equalise the minimum wage nationally ... postponed
06. Restructuring PTPTN repayment & abolishing blacklisting policy ... postponed
07. Set up Royal Commissions of Inquiry on 1MDB, FELDA, MARA and Tabung Haji ... in progress
08. Enforcing the Malaysia Agreement 1963 ... not started
09. Introduce "Skim Peduli Sihat" ... postponed
10. Initiate a comprehensive review of all megaprojects ... in progress

PROMISE IN-JEOPARDY: Govt and Malay rulers in standoff over choice of new A-G

Jun 04, 2018

A CONSTITUTIONAL crisis could be looming between the newly-elected Pakatan Harapan government and the Malay rulers over the appointment of the new attorney-general.

More than 10 days ago, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad wrote to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong asking that he remove Apandi Ali as the A-G and replace him with top lawyer and constitutional expert Tommy Thomas, the unanimous choice of all PH leaders.

Amanah, Bersatu, DAP, and PKR felt that the appointment of a respected legal name would be the right signal to send to Malaysians and the rest of the world that the new government was serious about reforming the country's institutions.

Also, this appointment would ensure the presence of a skilled litigator in the chambers to handle all high-profile cases, including the prosecution of those involved in the 1MDB scandal.

But that letter from Dr Mahathir to the King has not been acted on, leading to a standoff between the popularly-elected government and the palace.

Instead, there have been messages relayed from the palace, seeking that PH drop its choice of Thomas.

Dr Mahathir was asked to consider several candidates, including a former high court judge and a serving court of appeal judge.

The Malaysian Insight understands that other Malay rulers have also supported the King's position, adamant that the A-G should be a Malay/Muslim.

This impasse and possible constitutional crisis was alluded to by two noted bloggers close to PH.

In a post titled "Another Crisis Brewing: Country is Not Out Of Danger Yet”, Syed Akbar Ali said that Dr Mahathir's choice for the A-G position was being blocked because he was not a Malay or Muslim.

"There is nothing in the federal constitution which says that non-Malays and non-Muslims cannot be appointed as the attorney-general, " he noted, adding that cabinet and key civil service appointments were the sole discretion of the PM.

Dr Mahathir and PH leaders have refused to back down. They still believe that Thomas is the best man for the job. The plan is to offer the 66-year-old a two-year contract as the A-G. He ‎wants to return to private practice after that.

At the core of this standoff is the question: Should key appointments to the government be the purview of a popularly-elected prime minister, or must he bow to the wishes of a constitutional monarch?

‎Blogger Kadir Jasin noted that the federal constitution puts clear limits on the authority of a constitutional monarch.

As for this notion that all key positions should be held by Malays, the former newspaper editor offered a scathing response.

"What's the use of having Malays in high positions if that Malay is cruel, corrupt, and someone who collaborates with thieves and speculators?” he asked, adding that integrity was more important than race.

Political observers said that the Malay rulers had no reason to worry about Malay rights being overlooked under a non-Malay A-G.

The duty of looking after Malay interests and Islam can easily be ‎handed over to the Solicitor-General.

Observers also warn that the Malay rulers should be careful because there is already a view among Malaysians that there was an unnecessary delay by the palace in swearing in Dr Mahathir as prime minister after GE14.

Given the euphoria in the country and the reservoir of goodwill and affection Dr Mahathir has earned from ordinary Malaysians for saving the country from Najib Razak, ‎it is clear who they will support in this impasse. – June 2, 2018.

PROMISE UPDATE: Govt to review at least RM10b worth of projects, says finance minister

Jun 04, 2018

PUTRAJAYA, May 31 — The federal government will review, defer and renegotiate at least RM10 billion worth of identified high-cost projects as part of the reallocation of expenditure priorities, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said.

These include projects that were awarded via direct negotiation or a limited tender exercise, some of which can be revoked.

Speaking at a press conference here, Lim said in the long term, the government would save billions of ringgit when these projects were re-tendered or scrapped altogether.

He cited as an example a RM350 million contract that was awarded to carry out renovation and rehabilitation of Sultan Abdul Samad Building in Kuala Lumpur.

Lim said the review would also cover non-essential operating expenditures such as professional and consulting services, refurbishments, events and promotional activities, selected information and communications technology systems upgrading, and certain big-ticket budget allocations for mega projects such as the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail and the Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit Line 3.

Other expenditure items, such as special projects under the Implementation Coordination Unit, capital injections to various funds, transfers to the authorities of the various development corridors and projects paid for under the facilitation fund, would also be reviewed, he added. — Bernama

PROMISE UPDATE: Rebranded ‘BR1M’ to maintain previous government’s payout

Jun 04, 2018

PUTRAJAYA, May 31 — The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government will maintain the previous administration’s payout rate and recipient categories, under its rebranded Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH), formerly known as 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M).

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said that the second payout of BSH 2018 will be made on June 6, just before Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations.

“For the time being, we will maintain as it is.

“If there are any amendments or changes, that will be evaluated for the next payment.

“We will maintain what is already there. We will not tweak it.

“Any tweaking will only be done in the future,” Lim said when questioned during a press conference today.

He said that BSH payments will be credited directly to its recipients’ bank accounts, and for those without an account, a letter of approval will be mailed directly to them, and they can collect the cash from any Bank Simpanan Nasional (BSN) branch.

Lim said that “only those who are qualified” will be receiving the assistance.

The government will be allocating RM1.6 billion in BSH payments, which will benefit 4.1 million people. In April this year, the then-Barisan Nasional (BN) administration approved a total of RM6.12 billion worth of cash aid under the federal government’s annual BR1M scheme, for seven million Malaysian households.

The Finance Ministry said that 7,084,726 applications for this year’s BR1M handout had been approved as of March 31.

These seven million-odd households are divided into three categories, including RM1,200 cash aid to 3,705,853, or over 3.7 million households with a monthly income of RM3,000 and below. This group takes up the biggest chunk with a total of over RM4.4 billion.

Those approved to receive a total of RM900 cash aid each are 324,973 households earning between RM3,001 to RM4,000 per month, while RM450 in aid will be given to 3,053,900, or just over three million individuals earning less than RM2,000 each month.

The group receiving the RM900 cash aid takes up around RM292.48 million of the RM6.12 billion allocation, while the category eligible for the RM450 aid accounts for the remaining RM1.37 billion.

PROMISE PARTIALLY ACHIEVED: No toll for KL-Seremban and Salak highways starting June 1

Jun 04, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR (May 31): Malaysian Highway Authority (LLM) announced that toll concessions for the Kuala Lumpur-Seremban expressway and Salak Expressway will end midnight today.

In a statement, LLM said there will be no toll collection for these two highways at Sungai Besi Toll Plaza beginning 12:00 am June 1 this year.

"With the ending of the concession period for the said stretch of expressways, toll payment at all entry and exit at Sungai Besi Toll Plaza will be reduced between 1% [and] 50% (or between 40 sen and RM1.70) depending on the journey distance and vehicle class," the statement read.

LLM said the end of the concessions will benefit nearly 130,000 vehicles using the toll plaza every day.

"Users who go through the Sungai Besi Toll Plaza now only have to pay a toll rate based on the distance travelled on the North-South Expressway," LLM said.

PROMISE UPDATE: Putrajaya terminates re-hiring services of MyEG, two other Immigration Department vendors

Jun 01, 2018

The services of all three vendor companies contracted by the Immigration Department to carry out its rehiring exercise of undocumented foreign workers will be terminated by the end of June. Malaysiakini reported that the three companies were MyEG Services Sdn Bhd, Iman Resources Sdn Bhd and Bukti Megah Sdn Bhd.

“As was mentioned earlier by Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, the re-hiring exercise currently carried out by the three vendors is scheduled to end on June 30,” Immigration Department director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali was quoted saying.

Critics had questioned the Barisan Nasional administration’s decision to grant the three companies with a monopoly to process the rehiring applications from undocumented migrant workers in the past. Among others, concerns were raised over how individuals purportedly linked to Umno had benefited from the appointment of these companies when the job could be performed directly by the Immigration Department.

The rehiring exercise was first launched on Feb 15, 2016, as part of government efforts to crackdown on undocumented migrant workers.Muhyiddin was quoted saying that there will be no extension after June 30 and all arrangements for the rehiring programme through vendors will be stopped.

“All dealings should be done directly with the Immigration Department,” he said yesterday when revealing that 744,942 migrant workers were registered and rehired by 83,919 employers as of May 28 this year.

Speaking to Malay Mail, MyEG said it has only stopped new registrations for re-hiring at the end of December last year, and was given until the end of this month to process all incomplete cases. “All other services under the Immigration Department are operating as normal,” said its managing director Wong Thean Soon.

PROMISE UPDATE: PTPTN defaulters to be removed from immigration blacklist by mid-June

May 31, 2018

The process of removing PTPTN loan defaulters from the immigration blacklist is progressing in stages and will be completed by mid-June, said the Education Minister Maszlee Malik.

He said the process started on May 24 and will continue until June 15, hence delivering one of Pakatan Harapan’s election promises

PROMISE UPDATE: Pakatan Harapan wants to resolve stateless Indians issue in Pahang

May 31, 2018

Efforts to address the issue of Indians who do not possess identification documents and those with red identification cards in Pahang will begin once the federal government gives the green light. Sabai state assemblyman D. Kamache said Pakatan Harapan (PH) in its manifesto had promised to resolve issues surrounding stateless Indians after assuming federal power, and they will keep their words.

“Once we receive the go ahead from the federal government, we will go to the ground to look into the matter from a bigger perspective. In fact, I have been doing it (looking into issues of those without identification documents) over the last 10 years and personally handled the cases by doing the necessary in Putrajaya (National Registration Department).“However, now with the support from the federal government along with the Home Ministry and relevant agencies, I am sure we can achieve more and ensure no one from the Indian community is being left out.

Those without identification documents or red identification cards can be assured that changes is coming their way,” she said when contacted today. Kamache, who is the PH coordinator for the Indian community in Pahang, said upon receiving the directives, she will meet those who faced problems related to birth, identity card and citizenship to ensure all their long-standing problems will finally come to an end.

“Instead of waiting at the service centres or setting up booths, we will go down to the ground to visit estates and plantations with a huge Indian population in Pahang. As the elected representative, we need to serve at their (voters) doorstep and look into ways to help them.

“Being without proper identification documents is a major problem as one cannot receive proper assistance, cannot enroll in school or receive medical aid and instead they might be treated as a foreigner.

So we want to investigate and ensure they have all the necessary supporting documents and we will do our best to provide them with proper identification documents so that they can live a normal life,” she said.

Kamache was responding to several viral WhatsApp messages over the past few days claiming that those with problems related to identification documents should contact her or her district representatives for immediate action.

Under its manifesto, PH had promised to resolve the issues surrounding stateless Indians within 100 days if it wins Putrajaya in the 14th General Election.

PROMISE UPDATE: More motorcycle parking bays to be created

May 31, 2018

SINCE February, walkways all around Brickfields in Kuala Lumpur have been broken up for a project to make the pavements wider for pedestrians.

The construction work has inadvertently taken away much needed parking bays in the township.

Motorcyclists have parked their two-wheelers at any vacant space they can find.

This messy situation has badly affected the blind community the most.


PROMISE UPDATE: Ensure government procurement produces the best value for taxpayer’s money

May 31, 2018

DBKL cancels PPR, public housing repainting contracts worth RM180m

The contracts of 10 firms appointed to repaint Public Housing and People’s Housing Project (PPR) buildings in Kuala Lumpur involving RM180 million have been cancelled with immediate effect. Cheras member of Parliament (MP) Tan Kok Wai said the move was decided by the Kuala Lumpur mayor Tan Sri Mhd Amin Nordin Abd Aziz in a meeting with 10 MPs in the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur here today.

Tan said the announcement was made following some disputes over the award of the contracts without going through open tender. “We (MPs) found that these 10 appointed contractors are the same contractors who carried out the renovations of the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) offices as well as those of the former Federal Territories Minister and his deputy.

“All the contractors for the repainting works were appointed before the 14th general election and we are questioning why these same contractors have been appointed without going through a more open process,” he said.

Meanwhile, Mhd Amin Nordin said repainting works that were ongoing would be allowed to be completed. — Bernama

PROMISE ACHIEVED: Stabilise the price of petrol and introduce targeted petrol subsidies

May 30, 2018

The government will retain the current price of RON95 and diesel at the pumps, but the price of the premium RON97 petrol will be subject to a float system, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today.

"The price for diesel and RON95 will be maintained, but the price for RON97 will be floated according to the market," Dr Mahathir told reporters after chairing the second weekly Cabinet meeting here today.

At present, RON95 and diesel are sold at RM2.20 per litre and RM2.18 per litre respectively, while that of RON97 is priced at RM2.47 per litre. The retail fuel prices have remained unchanged ahead of the 14th general election on May 9, despite crude oil prices rising to US$75.39 per barrel at the time of writing.


May 30, 2018

The Sales and Services Tax (SST) will be reintroduced in September, says Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (pic).

He was speaking at a press briefing after a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

The Goods and Services Tax will be zero-rated from June 1, and the SST reintroduced to make up for the shortfall in government revenue.

However, it will require legislation to be enacted in Parliament.


PROMISE UPDATE: PM Mahathir scraps KL-SG High Speed Railway

May 30, 2018

Promise: "Within 100 days, initiate a comprehensive review of all megaprojects"

Promise Status: "In Progress - PM Mahathir scraps KL-SG High Speed Railway project"

PROMISE UPDATE: World Cup 2018 Matches to be Aired for Free over RTM

May 30, 2018

As of 1300hrs May 30:

Promise: "Offer free broadcasts via RTM of all major sports leagues around the world, including the Premier League"

Promise update: "In Progress - World Cup 2018 to be aired FREE on RTM - Minister Gobind Singh Deo"

After 18 days in Office, here's how our Government is performing

May 28, 2018

18 days have passed. 82 more days (little less than 3 months) for the new government to fulfill their "10 Promises within 100 Days".

01. Abolish the GST ... in progress
02. Introduce targeted petrol subsidies ... in progress
03. Abolish unnecessary debts imposed on FELDA settlers
04. Introduce EPF contribution for housewives ... in progress
05. Equalise the minimum wage nationally
06. Restructuring PTPTN repayment & abolishing blacklisting policy ... in progress
07. Set up Royal Commissions of Inquiry on 1MDB, FELDA, MARA and Tabung Haji ... in progress
08. Enforcing the Malaysia Agreement 1963
09. Introduce "Skim Peduli Sihat"
10. Initiate a comprehensive review of all megaprojects ... in progress

So far, 6 out of 10 promises have been worked on, a promising sign.

Let's keep an eye out and track their promises on our tracker.