Sunday, August 17, 2008

Gejala Rasuah dan Penyelewengan Korporat di Dubai

Terkejut sekali apabila membaca mengenai penahanan seorang rakan yang pernah menjadi ketua projek untuk siasatan kes penyelewengan baru-baru ini. Beliau sebelum ditahan adalah CEO sebuah syarikat kewangan perbankan Islam terbesar dan kini menjadi orang nombor dua dalam salah satu syarikat pelaburan terbesar.

Mengenali beliau secara dekat selama setahun memberikan gambaran perwatakan dan peribadi yang boleh dikira berwibawa. Kalau tiada bos nombor satu ketika itu, beliau akan menjadi imam setiap kali solat di pejabat.

Oleh kerana kami hanya berlima dalam team projek, perhubungan kami agak rapat. Dengan program projek (untuk feasibility study menubuhkan sebuah syarikat telekomunikasi, dipanggil kod babytel) yang padat dan mencabar, ada kalanya hubungan menjadi tegang, tetapi sebagai satu team, kami dapat bekerja secara profesional.

Kami mengenali satu sama lain dan memahami karenah masing-masing. Dia adalah seorang ketua walau lebih muda dari saya, dan dia mempunya daya kerja yang kuat. Jarang melihat anak tempatan atau Emirati yang bekerja tahap sebegitu, malah hujung minggu juga beliau datang ke pejabat untuk menyiapkan kerja.

Pernah kami berdua menghabiskan dua hari di pejabat untuk menyiapkan lapuran dan presentation kepada lembaga pengarah. Banyak juga belajar dari beliau walau beliau seperti saya, pernah menjadi pengurus IT.

Kenaikan mendadak beliau dalam tangga korporat tidak mengejutkan. Beliau adalah salah seorang bintang yang dianggap bersinar terang. Kali akhir beliau merasmikan urusniaga harian Bursa Saham New York mewakili Dubai.

Melihat gambar dan nama beliau terpampang sebagai seorang yang disyaki terlibat, sukar untuk mengambarkan perasaan saya. Walau beliau masih belum didakwa dan didapati bersalah, sekadar ditahun untuk siasatan lanjut, namanya sudah terpalit dan sukar untuk dibersihkan.

Sebenarnya berita itu cukup memberikan gambaran gejala rasuah dan penyelewengan yang semakin menjadi penyakit dalam pembangunan pesat Dubai. Sebelum ini, gejala ini selalu ditutup sebelah mata. Berlaku diperingkat pengurusan pertengahan.

Seorang lagi rakan sekerja juga sedang ditahan untuk kes rasuah. Sebelum itu seorang CEO sebuah syarikat kewangan hartanah juga masih ditahan sejak empat bulan lalu. Malah seorang menteri muda juga dibuang kerana terlibat dalam penipuan.

Berita perdana Dubai TV mengumumkan yang kerajaan Dubai sedang membuat tindakan lanjut demi membenteras gejala rasuah, penyelewengan, fraud/penipuan dsbnya untuk meyakinkan pelabur luar mengenai ketelusan dan ketegasan kerajaan.

Ini adalah sebahagian dari 'growing pain' dalam Dubai bergerak untuk menjadi sebuah negara maju dan pusat kewangan dunia.

Biar dibenteras dari sekarang sebelum menjadi 'budaya' yang menghancurkan. Cegah sebelum parah, cegah demi maruah!

Dubai's zero tolerance pledge on corruption

The Government of Dubai will take strict and prompt action against all acts of corruption and bribery wherever they occur in the emirate, Dubai's Public Prosecutor said on Sunday.

Commenting on the recent questioning of employees of listed and public companies on suspicion of exploiting their positions to make illegal profits, he said: "The government will continue to have a strict stance against all aspects of corruption and will take legal measures against violators."

He said fighting corruption is at the top of the government's priorities.

"Dubai Government follows a transparent and clear policy on such issues. There are strict directives to have zero-tolerance towards all aspects of corruption, bribing and taking advantage of official positions."

His comments came just days after Dubai mortgage lender Tamweel's former chief executive Adel Al Shirawi and head of investments were named as part of an investigation for alleged wrongdoing.

And Nakheel, the government-owned developer of manmade islands in the shape of palm trees, said on Friday one of its employees was under investigation on suspicion of bribe-taking. Earlier this year, investigations began into alleged irregularities by executives at Dubai Islamic Bank, the Gulf Arab state's biggest Islamic bank by market value, and its affiliate real estate firm Deyaar.

The Public Prosecutor added that the results of ongoing investigations about the accused employees will be announced once they are complete.

"Any employee exploiting his position to make illegal profits will not have immunity. The strictness with which some violations that emerged in the recent past were dealt with, confirms the government's commitment to maintaining the highest global standards in fighting corruption and enhancing its achievements in the economic, financial and legislative fields," he said.

He added that corruption and bribery are some of the most important issues that obstruct development in the World.

"The government has created an ideal environment here, which is supported by a legal and legislative structure that depends on the best global practices. The government will continue this policy, which made it gain the confidence of business leaders throughout the region and the world. There will be no tolerance shown to anybody who tries to exploit his position to make illegal profits," the Public Prosecutor added.

Meanwhile, Marwan Bin Ghalaita, chief executive of the Dubai Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA), said on Sunday that investigations into financial irregularities at property developer Nakheel and mortgage lender Tamweel are a sign that transparency in the real estate sector is improving.

“I think this is a good thing for the market,” Bin Ghalaita told radio station Dubai Eye.

He disagreed with this month’s Morgan Stanley report that claimed Dubai property prices could fall up to 10 percent in the next two years.

“The real estate market is very solid and the confidence is there,” he said.

The RERA head also said that companies need to educate their employees about the values and ethics of their business, as some of them come from countries where bribes are common in the industry and are seen as a form of commission. (Reuters)

Nakheel exec in bribery scandal named
UPDATE 1: Media reports say general manager of sales being questioned by police.

Police arrest Adel Al Shirawi
UPDATE 2: Tamweel says it is unaware of investigation into dealings of former chief executive.

Arab Nuclear renaissance

A nuclear renaissance. When I recently read that term, I was amused, because I never quite associated nuclear technology with a renaissance.
The nuclear industry is now into its sixth decade, and on the global front, US presidential candidate John McCain has called for the construction of 45 nuclear power plants in the US by 2030, as a solution for carbon-free power generation and to reduce America's reliance on oil imports.
France obtains nearly 80 per cent of its electricity from nuclear sources. However, in the Arab world, and specifically the Gulf, the proliferation of nuclear technology has just begun.
Six Arab nations, including Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Jordan, Libya, Algeria and Morocco have said they would like to have civilian nuclear programmes.
The US has already signed an initial nuclear cooperation agreement with Bahrain. France has signed similar agreements with Libya and Algeria. Syria and Jordan have also taken initiatives in this direction.
We in the UAE have gone farthest in developing feasibility plans, and have signed agreements with France, Britain and the US to work on nuclear programmes. The UAE is said to become the owner of the Arab world's first nuclear reactor.
We have ushered in a nuclear age in the Arab world, and the race is on.
If you're wondering why now, why this sudden rush to develop nuclear technology, the answer is very simple. The huge oil and gas reserves in the GCC states will start to face supply challenges within the next 20 to 25 years, particularly with the increasing domestic and international demands. This makes the aggressive development of alternative sources of energy necessary. Not to mention the ownership of nuclear technology undoubtedly contributes to the balance of power in our region.
Excessive consumption
In our society today, we are consumerists to the core, and our energy consumption is also on the rise, whether for lighting, transport, air conditioning, sewage treatment or desalination. This in itself is a component we need to address, as our excessive consumption of energy, due to our day-to-day behaviour, contributes to the depletion of our current major energy source (oil), and also to the increase of global warming which results from the consumption of oil for energy.
Eventually our excessive consumption of energy will also contribute to the accumulation of nuclear waste, resulting from nuclear power plants which will provide our future energy needs. Can you imagine living in a world with increasing global warming and increasing nuclear waste?
As we usher in this new age of energy, we must tread with caution. Nuclear technology has the power to create sustainable energy beyond the age of oil; it has the potential to create jobs in a new industry in our region, and potentially to promote the mastery of nuclear sciences in the Arab world.
In addition, nuclear energy is more fuel efficient than oil, as one ton of uranium can produce more energy than that produced by several million barrels of oil. Not to mention that oil consumption contributes to pollution and global warming, while a nuclear power plant, that is well managed, does not release pollutants into the environment.
But this technology also has the power to destroy human life. I recall the words of the scientist Robert Oppenheimer, who is known as "the father of the atomic bomb". Upon testing the atom bomb for the first time, Oppenheimer described it as "... death ... destroyer of worlds".
The atomic bomb is a product developed through nuclear technology, so the potential for mass destruction is also what nuclear technology offers, and this is something we should always be conscious of.
Nuclear energy also comes with the challenge of waste disposal, as nuclear power plants produce products which emit dangerous radiation that can kill, and so require special storage.
Also some of you may remember the Chernobyl disaster in 1986. It was the worst nuclear power plant accident in history. The explosion of that reactor resulted in a severe release of radiation or radioactive dust which was nearly 30 to 40 times more than the radiation released by the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
So while nuclear technology is a necessary strategy for our region, we must pursue this with much wisdom and regulation.
I believe that in moving forward the fundamental question we need to ask ourselves is what type of world do we want to live in, and that should dictate how we develop and use nuclear technology.
I believe in the decades to come we want to build an Arab region that is powerful because of the enlightened and progressive intellect of its people, its good systems of governance, its solid innovative economies, its capacity for self-defence when necessary with wisdom and restraint, and its wise and humane approach towards the use and development of powerful technologies such as that of nuclear power. That would be a renaissance.

Najla Al Awadhi is a member of the Federal National Council, Deputy CEO Dubai Media Incorporated and General Manager of Dubai One TV.

Pamela Anderson Bakal Jadi Muslimah?

Menurut seorang kawan yang berkawan dengan beberapa anak bumiputera UAE, Pamela memang kerap ke sini. Selalu dengan jet peribadi untuk hujung minggu.

Tetapi itu mungkin sekadar cerita atas cerita sahaja, kabar angin mahupun gosip semata-mata. Tiada Akuan Bersumpah mahupun angkat sumpah dengan Quran.

Lagipun, bukan urusan kita untuk ambil tahu.



Pamela Anderson finds her new love in the UAE
By Kevin Scott, Staff Reporter
Published: August 16, 2008, 23:51
Dubai: US glamour model Pamela Anderson is dating a prominent Emirati from Abu Dhabi, according to reports.
The blonde actress and producer, most famous for her role as C.J. Parker in TV's Baywatch, was spotted with her new beau at a bar in West Hollywood at the weekend, according to www.eonline.com
The couple apparently met each other when Anderson visited the UAE in June with the Make a Wish Foundation.
During her stay she announced plans to build an eco-friendly hotel in Abu Dhabi.It seems that she's also fallen in love with one of the residents.