Saturday, October 10, 2009

Iskandar, IRDA, Johor, UMNO, 1Malaysia....

Di Cityscape Dubai 2009 minggu lalu, saya berkesempatan melawat booth pameran besar Iskandar Malaysia. Dalam situasi ekonomi yang merudum, Cityscape kehilangan 30% dari ruang dan kehadiran Iskandar Malaysia setidaknya membantu penganjur untuk kelihatan lebih bersifat antarabangsa.

Sebagai seorang rakyat Malaysia, saya bangga melihat kehadiran astaka besar Iskandar Malaysia di Cityscape. Satu iklan yang menonjol ditengah-tengah kelesuan industri pembangunan hartanah di Dubai. Nampak agresif dan ada daya saing dengan syarikat pembangunan hartanah lain di Timur Tengah.

Iskandar Malaysia mempunyai wawasan yang hebat sebagai salah satu penjana ekonomi dan pembangunan negara. Saya sendiri mempunyai keyakinan, sekiranya, Iskandar Malaysia melalui agensi-agensi seperti Iskandar Investment, IRDA dsbnya memberi fokus dan komitment tidak berbelah bagi dalam menjayakan gagasan besar ini, keuntungan kepada generasi Malaysia akan datang.

Begitupun, banyak perkara yang kurang sedap didengar mengenai Iskandar Investment dan IRDA dari mereka yang terlibat. Saya tidak mahu memanjangkan cerita-cerita ini tanpa fakta, tetapi blog seperti yang diberitahu oleh seorang rakan di Iskandar dikatakan memberi gambaran jelas mengenai kepincangan dalam projek Barisan Nasional dan UMNO ini.

Kepimpinan kedua Iskandar Investment dan IRDA dikatakan terlalu politikal dengan kronisme, malah ada 'spouse' yang menguasai pentadbiran sebagai president & CEO, dan ada CEO yang bergaji RM60 ribu sebulan (duit rakyat) tetapi lebih banyak bercakap, tidur dari bekerja.

Dikatakan Iskandar dikuasai oleh orang luar Johor manakala ramai peniaga bumiputera Johor yang diabaikan. Ada pegawai IRDA menyarankan peniaga bumiputera 'berniaga goreng pisang' di Legoland.

Malah salah satu dari projek waterfront dalam kelam kabut kerana ada dua CEO...dikatatakan terpaksa membahagikan kawasan kerana CEO lama yang juga pelabur tidak mahu melepaskan jawatan.

Allahualam, yang penting kita tidak mahu melihat satu lagi kegagalan sesudah berbilion wang dileburkan (setakat ini dikatakan RM42 Bilion) atas nama pembangunan oleh mereka yang lebih mementingkan survival diri dari bangsa, agama dan negara. Cukuplah dengan trilion ringgit pembaziran yang mengambarkan pelbagai kelemahan dipelbagai peringkat pentadbiran negara, selain amalan rasuah, penyelewengan dan lain-lain atas nama DEB, ketuanan Melayu dsbnya.

Jangan menang sorak, Johor tergadai. Berat tanggungjawab para pendukung Iskandar Malaysia dan diharapkan mereka akan berhasil dengan cemerlang, gemilang dan terbilang.

Berikut ialah surat Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar kepada staf IRDA dari lapuran di

Sunday 26th July 2009

To the staff of IRDA

Assalamulaikum wrb and selamat sejahtera

I am sure you will agree there are probably better ways to spend a weekend than to be sifting through the so-called blogwatch on IRDA that I am sure all of you have been made aware of. As the matter has taken a public airing I thought it’s important that the staff gets proper information so that you can make up your own minds as to what is the exact state of affairs.

I thought I should start by offering my overview as a member of your board that to my mind IRDA has come a long way in a little over two years. It’s a huge task, and all of you have done a lot to develop it to the point that IRDA and Iskandar is progressing well overall, alhamdullilah. Cynics may look at this as propaganda, hence it’s best that you judge by looking at facts. I also note that it is not uncommon that organizations that go through rapid changes especially those on big mandates like IRDA has a very challenging task of maintaining internal cohesion and harmony. We - IRDA, IIB, Khazanah etc - are not perfect, but we must strive to be "perfect" for each other. I believe that all of you were drawn into IRDA and Iskandar to serve, to build something special for future generations. To me, that has not changed and we should be helping each other to go for that still. I appreciate some may well feel unhappy inside IRDA and so on but I believe your management led by En Harun has tried to be very open to ask you where you think IRDA can do better. Be constructive. Please consider all the great efforts everyone has done to build the platform that has been done to date. Amat senang to binasa as they say amat susah untuk membina. Please be careful and please check carefully sources of what we hear and then what we say. Hear, see and do no evil as they say. If some are angry, I am reminding myself and many will know better than me of the ayat in the Quran that says that be careful when you hate something or someone that you do so judiciously as that is closer to taqwa (God-fearing). That's important. Help to jernihkan not keruhkan as they say. On Management's side, there must be channels for staff to air their concerns safely and without fear of unfair retribution. I have indeed discussed this with En Harun and indeed with any CEO on which I am a board member of. To my understanding En. Harun has asked very openly for your feedback. As mentioned, we are not perfect, nobody is, but let us try and resolve the issues that we have in a proper way, insyaAllah.

I will now go straight to address the major points made by the blog site which can be summarized as follows:

1. That YAB MB, your co-chair, has asked me to remove En. Harun, your CEO. Well, what can I say except to say categorically that this is not true, and that I have just had a meeting with YAB MB less than a week ago. Period. To be sure, I will state that again: MB did not ask me to remove En Harun, period. In any case, I hope all of you recognize that power to appoint or remove rests with the board, not anyone else.

2. There were some reference to YABhg. Datin Seri Rosmah receiving a flying letter. This I have no information on and certainly in my various meetings with the YAB Prime Minister, even if this is true, this has never been raised, unlike in other cases I should add in some GLCs - unfortunately this surat layang culture is there.

3. Staff should also know that the recent board meeting, the first one co-chaired by YAB PM, also alhamdullilah by and large ended well. Sure, we can do better in some parts, but by and large it went well alhamdullilah.

4. That En. Harun has brought in senior hires from Shell and MCKK old boys. This is easy to verify factually. To my understanding, of the recent senior hires, both En Hilmi and En Ahmad Suhaili were actually appointed by Dato' Ikmal, our previous CEO. No doubt this may well have been in consultation with En Harun but nonetheless that is the case. Haji Jameson is the only senior hire to my knowledge that En. Harun has brought in since his tenure as CEO started. You know IRDA better; just look at the facts. Nonetheless, more importantly to my mind, what is the real issue is that everyone, new hires, old hires, or otherwise, all need to perform, that is what matters.

5. On this MCKK thing, I am compelled to also address this. As you know, I am an MCKK old boy ... I should add, first and last, and for the record, fiercely loyal, thankful and honoured to be one - not for MCKK per se but for what we were taught: that is to be honest, fair, brave and unflinching in the pursuit of truth, among others. I hope this message to you, in a small way, lives up to those ideals. But let’s be clear, I am also a Malaysian first and last, also a Muslim first and last and also a citizen of the world first and last. It’s not a contradiction, it is perfectly possible, required actually, to be all of the above. In short, there is no undue preference for MCKK or any other affiliations for that matter - in fact, this comment got me thinking that I would like to share that as it turns out in Khazanah, of my next layer of nine Executive Directors, it so happens that not a single one is an MCKK old boy. They must have been discriminated perhaps?! In IRDA, certainly I believe we all want a meritocratic organisation and indeed as your board member I will insyaAllah do my part to ensure that this is the case. En. Harun I know subscribes to this 110%.

6. Moving on to other assertions and accusations on Iskandar

* that the investment numbers are wrong or misleading. This is also quite simple to verify. The CDP (Comprehensive Development Plan) calls for investments (both FDI and DDI (Domestic Direct Investment)) of RM47bn for the first five years. The normal definition of FDI that is always used is indeed investment commitments, hence there is absolutely no issue. MITI, MIDA numbers always looks at commitments and approvals. IRDA's communications has always referred to these as commitments. Alhamdullilah, we are indeed ahead of schedule. The 30% number quoted is additional information volunteered. It’s not a bad conversion rate to date, alhamdullilah. On top of that we know that the calculations have been reasonably conservatively done and that as part of the crisis managing work, the various sides have all been working hard this last 10 months or so to ensure that the earlier commitments are intact. A lot of work has gone in and apart from Damac's recent withdrawal - which was thankfully relatively small - alhamdullilah, we are well on track.

* that there is undue preference for Node 1 and Khazanah's projects, at least that's broadly the assertion. Well, again, what can I say except that this is not true. As the blogger rightly points out, there are other Khazanah interests - notably UEM Land (where incidentally Khazanah owns more at 77% vs 60% at IIB and even less at Medini) - that does not enjoy the benefits of Node 1 / Medini. I acknowledge that this has been periodically brought up by various parties. The truth of the matter is that the Medini investment is a commitment to GDV running into USD4bn for the first 7 years and rising significantly higher over 20 years. Whoever can bring that kind of investments in, provided the strategic and socio-economic fit is of the right type - can and should be given the same or more consideration. That was always the case. While we are on this subject, you will also know as IRDA does the AIC approval facilitation, that there are also cases such as Acerinox and Genting's Premium Outlet investments that have been given some incentives and fast-track approvals. While we are on the subject, I wanted to also share last week's announcement by IIB for the award of a RM766m infra works for Medini to WCT Engineering. I am both proud and "unhappy" that WCT (totally unrelated to Khazanah as you know), won this on a very detailed open tender where one of the shall I say strong contenders and eventually losing out was none other than UEM Builders (100% owned by Khazanah now). For UEM, the new CEO has and will be briefed - as all those that lose out in our tender process - of why they did not win in the real hope that they will one day insyaAllah.

* the role of IRDA, as if implying that IRDA is not doing much. That's totally unfair to the many things you all are doing. As anyone reasonably familiar with IRDA will know that the act clearly specifies several important roles of IRDA - off the top of my head: planning, approval facilitation, social development, promotion and communications. Just planning alone for example, there are all the multiple detailed blueprints. Social development is very important and some of you will know I have been harping that we need to step up on this and indeed the work on public housing and training of human capital for example is an important step. Communications and external relations is pretty challenging as this blog episode no doubt underscores; but hey rejoice in the great feedback from the Open Day that IRDA and others organized recently. We should do more.

* there were some references to people who posted including supposedly Dato' Param, Dato' Lim, Dato' Sidik, The Chi Chang and even Tun Dr Mahathir. I know for a fact that at least one, Ambassador Dato' Param has denied by way of email today. I will leave it to you to judge on the veracity of the other posts or indeed if this is more lies.

* the reference to Teh Chi Chang as "DAP"s top economic advisor" - incidentally, our team knows Chi Chang quite well and he knows us - he actually replaced me as Head of Research at Salomon Smith Barney/ Citigroup several years ago. All it needs is for Chi Chang to call anyone of us and I am sure a simple conversation will settle matters. More importantly, you should know that the official channel for something like this for political parties to oversee our work is through Parliament and to the extent that is within their scope, the Public Accounts Committee which is a select committee of Parliament which consists of members of both BN and the opposition. Incidentally just this last week as many of you know, the PAC visited Iskandar, hosted by IRDA and IIB and alhamdullilah, they actually gave a glowing report on us - including from the PAC Deputy Chairman, YB from Kepong Dr Tan of DAP.

Anyway, I have written at some length here as I believe it’s important to clear the air when blatant and unfortunately what seems like malicious lies are made. Sure, we are not perfect, and yes, some of you may not be happy, but please I ask that you please consider carefully that to please channel whatever unhappiness through constructive means. For the blogger, I do not know who you are and who your contacts are; insyaAllah Iskandar is not perfect but it’s certainly trying its best and alhamdullilah, there has been good progress. The people of Johor and Malaysia more broadly are and will continue to benefit further. If you have concerns as I am sure you do I am sure there is a proper way to address them. For IRDA staff I hope you are able to come together and solve our issues together. As it turns out, there is a mid year retreat later this coming week and hence this is good in a sense to address these matters together. On my part, insyaAllah I will do my best to help including working with both En. Harun and YAB MB, insyaAllah starting this coming week. I look forward to all of you doing your respective contributions, insyaAllah

Thank you.

Wassalam and best regards,

Azman Mokhtar

Few Muslim inmates in New Zealand but jails buy only halal meat

Saya di depan masjid Christchurh, September 2009. Gambar oleh Yahaya.

While in New Zealand a week ago, some memories edged in my mind. One was my own experience staying with foster parents which during that period, one of the major problems was to get halal meat supply. Most of us, esp those staying in school hostels were in 'darurat' and had to bear with the situation in delicate manners.

To eat or not to eat....

A friend in Hamilton informed me that there were plenty of HALAL butcher shops and restaurants in Hamilton nowadays, even in the university campus. I had my lunch at the Indonesian gerai (operated by Pak Ali & family) in the campus cafeteria. Lunch set for NZD10 enough to cover for 2 days with its big portions of halal meat and chicken.

Cities like Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch have more options and while walking in these cities, I could see the 'HALAL' signs pasted on the restaurants' walls. Even there is a chain of fast food restaurants which offers Halal food all over the world.

However, the news below is extraordinary indeed.....I guess, that's why we call respect.

Few Muslim inmates but jails buy only halal meat

4:00AM Friday Oct 09, 2009

All 8500 prisoners in the New Zealand prison system eat halal-certified meat, despite only 82 prisoners identifying themselves as Muslim.

For a meat processor to be halal-certified, meat must be slaughtered by Muslims and cannot be contaminated by alcohol or pig products.

Corrections rehabilitation general manager Phil McCarthy confirmed, in response to an Official Information Act request, that the department had bought meat from a halal-accredited supplier since 2005.

Mr McCarthy said the department had a national supply agreement with Napier-based Bay Cuisine.

After a 2004 national menu review, it was decided tenderers for the meat contract needed to have halal certification.

It did not cost the department more to buy food from a halal-credited supplier, despite extra costs linked to certification.

New Zealand Islamic Meat Management and the Federation of Islamic Associations provide halal certification in New Zealand.

A federation spokesman said it cost up to $2000 for a processing firm to be halal-certified. The premises were then checked by a supervisor about every fortnight. The certification was also renewed every year.

Mr McCarthy said when providing food the department made allowances "as far as practicable in the circumstances" for the religious and spiritual needs of prisoners. Prisoners could choose a vegetarian or vegan menu or a non-pork diet, he said.

"The Department of Corrections acknowledges that food is an important part of the religious observances of many prisoners and endeavours to meet their needs by the provision of alternative options to the standard menu."

The department needed large volumes of food and could therefore reduce costs through economy of scale.

In the 2007-08 year, 8,333,515 meals were provided from prison kitchens, at an average cost of $4.12 a prisoner a day for three meals.

* The animal must be slaughtered by Muslims in accordance with the Islamic Shariah (religious guidelines).
* The meat must not be contaminated by non-Halal meat during transportation, storage or display.
* Alcohol and intoxicants must not be used in the preparation or storage of products.
* Pig or pig products must not be used in the making/preparation of individual products.


MCA, Mesyuarat Agung Luar Biasa dan Bahasa Melayu

Tidak peduli menang atau kalah Ong Tee Kiat dan Chua Soi Lek. Keduanya adalah ahli politik Barisan Nasional yang tidak pernah menjadi pemimpin. Keduanya menjadi pengikut parti perkauman UMNO.

Yang jelas kalah adalah Bahasa Melayu.

Lihat gambar di atas dari akhbar Star.

Tiada tempat untuk Bahasa Melayu dalam Mesyuarat Agung Luar Biasa parti perkauman MCA. Apa kata ahli politik UMNO yang sesekali berjuang untuk Bahasa Melayu walau nama parti perkauman terbesar itu masih dalam bahasa Inggeris selepas lebih 50 tahun merdeka.