Thursday, July 9, 2009

High Chaparral: State documents declassified - Star

Jul 9, 2009 By ANDREA FILMER

GEORGE TOWN: The state government has declassified confidential state executive council (exco) minutes of the previous Barisan Nasional administration pertaining to the alienation of Kampung Buah Pala land to a co-operative.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the state exco decided at its meeting Wednesday to declassify the documents after consulting and getting approval from the state legal adviser.

He said the records showed that the state government land was approved to Koperasi Pegawai Kerajaan Pulau Pinang twice on Aug 18, 2004 and June 8, 2005.

“The premium of RM6.42mil or RM20 per sq ft was subsequently reduced to RM3.21mil or RM10 per sq ft.

“So far, (former chief minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon) has not explained why he approved this project without consulting the villagers or why he sold it to the co-operative at such a low price,” he said in a statement here Thursday.

“If Barisan was in power now and not Pakatan Rakyat, the residents would have been evicted and the village would have been demolished since last year,” he claimed.

The impending demolition of Kampung Buah Pala, popularly known as Penang’s High Chaparral and regarded by some as a cultural icon, has become the biggest headache facing the Pakatan Rakyat administration.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Penang: Glimpses of Hope

Watch the 3-Part video:



Part: 3

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Free WiFi on Rapid Penang buses - Star

May 13, 2009

GEORGE TOWN: Rapid Penang Sdn Bhd will be providing free WiFi access to its passengers, the first bus company in the country to do so, beginning with a three-month trial on two buses.

Its chief executive officer Azhar Ahmad said the company was installing the facility in two buses: The first plies the route between Balik Pulau and the Bayan Lepas International Airport, and the second on the Teluk Bahang-Batu Feringgi-Weld Key route.

He said use of the WiFi facility would be free and that the buses would have special stickers for easy identification by passengers.

“After three months, if response from passengers is good, we’ll have the facility installed in stages in all of our 180 buses, and also the additional 200 buses which will be delivered to us by the end of the year,” he told a press conference here Wednesday.

Azhar said the facility was provided to enable passengers to surf the Internet in the bus before arriving at their destinations. -- Bernama

Monday, April 27, 2009

Mansor tipped to be PKR candidate for Penanti - Sun

GEORGE TOWN (April 27, 2009) : Speculation has intensified that Penang PKR veteran Dr Mansor Othman will be nominated as the party's candidate in the Penanti state by-election.

Mansor, the former PKR Penang chief and a member of PKR since 1999, was missing when the Penang state assembly announced its two nominees as senators today.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng had announced Mansor and DAP vice-chairman Tunku Abdul Aziz Ibrahim as the state's choice for the vacant senators' seats last month.

Instead, the state assembly meeting adjourned today after approving Abdul Aziz and Penang PKR secretary Mustafa Kamal Mohd Yusoff as the nominees for the senators' posts.

PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is scheduled to hold a press conference tomorrow night at Yayasan Aman in Penanti, and it is widely speculated that Mansor will be revealed as the party's candidate for the by-election.

Anwar earlier said if the PKR candidate wins, he will take over the post of Penang deputy chief minister I.

Penanti by-election: Nomination on May 23; polling May 31 - Sun

by Maria J.Dass

PUTRAJAYA (April 27, 2009) : The Election Commission (EC) is gearing up for the sixth by-election to be held just a little more than a year after the March 2008 General Election in Penanti a constituency on Penang mainland. Nomination day is slated for May 23 while polling will be held on May 31.

The seat fell vacant following the resignation of its assemblyman Mohamad Fairuz who was also Penang Deputy Chief Minister I on April 16.

Mohamad Fairuz who was last week cleared of corruption allegations pertaining quarry operations in that state cited continuation of post graduate studies as his reason for leaving.

EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof who announced this at the EC headquarters in Putrajaya today, said this time around, the commission means business in enforcing election regulations and laws- which if broken could lead to the winner losing his seat or a campaigner losing their voting rights for five years.

Abdul Aziz said police are empowered to arrest campaigners who do not adhere to the law.

“We are giving ample campaigning time from May 23 to 30 but on the eve of polling day - Stop it!” he said.

“This will allow for a conducive environment for voters to go out and vote in a calm and peaceful atmosphere and not worry about tense situations at polling centers,” Abdul Aziz said adding that election workers can still speak to passengers being ferried in their cars to polling centers.

“We cannot control this, and messages being sent through SMS and over the internet,” he said.

Abdul Aziz said this time around the EC will be strict in enforcing regulations pertaining campaigning on polling day and said that “pondok panas” or voters reference stations set up by political parties just outside polling centers will be banned.

Abdul Aziz’s deputy Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said: “If this law is breached- the candidate is responsible, and EC through the Returning Officer (RO) can charge the candidate for going against the law.”

“This is serious because it can nullify a victory for the candidate involved, while a campaigners can lose voting rights for five years,” he said.

“We have informed political parties of this ban in our recent meetings with them,” he added.

These “pondok panas” have become a campaigning hubs which have resulted in tense and chaotic atmospheres around polling centers,” Wan Ahmad said.

“The police and RO will be tasked to ensure no “pondok panas” are set up, we can stop them and this is provided for by law,” he said.

Abdul Aziz earlier admitted that the commission had been lax in enforcing this in the past though this is a regulation in the Election Act.

“Because in the past we don’t see the number of people getting bigger and bigger and the behaviour of people… I don’t know how to describe it- sometime they are like possessed, not conscious, in a trance,” he said.

When we chide them they say we are being emotional, but this happens because they are in high spirits and in large numbers, Abdul Aziz said that the general perception was that a large crowd demonstrated the strength of a party.

“The whole country turns up at these constituencies to campaign causing traffic congestion in the area and inconvenience to genuine voters,” he said.

Abdul Aziz earlier said it was not necessary for the “pondok panas” to be in existence as the EC had ample avenues for voters to check their details and polling stations.

He said the electoral roll will be out on May 8 and voters can check their details on the EC website at www.spr, or via SMS by typing: SPR SEMAK (MyKad no) and send to 15888.

Alternatively they can call the EC office in Putrajaya at 03-88856500 or in Penang at 04-2617692.

Abdul Aziz also dismissed insinuation that the delay in announcing the dates was to accommodate the decision and outcome of the Umno Supreme Council meeting held on Friday.

“There was no postponement to accommodate the outcome of this Umno meeting, we just needed time to make sure that the arrangements with the Returning Officer (RO) and his assistants were settled and then we met with the political parties and had to work on securing the needed venues and facilities,” he said.

Our announcement today has nothing to do with the Umno supreme council meeting, he added.

“The Election Act states that a writ on the vacancy of a seat is to be produced no earlier than four days and no later than 10 days from the official date of the vacancy, thus the timing of our announcement is permitted and provided for by the law,” Abdul Aziz said.

Seberang Perai Tengah district officer Roslan Yahaya has been named as the RO. He will be assisted by assistant district officers Masirah Che Ani, Hisan Abu Bakar and Kamarul Haizal.

The 2008 electoral roll with 15,384 registered voters as at April 16, 2009 will be used for the by-election. Of these 72.68% are Malays, 24.22% Chinese, 2.39% Indians and 0.71% other races.

Approximately 15,360 are ordinary voters and 24 are postal voters.

The Dewan Besar Institut Kemahiran Belia Negara (IKBN) in Bukit Mertajam has been named as the nomination and vote tallying centre.

Abdul Aziz said the estimated cost incurred by the EC alone for the by-election is RM500,000, while other agencies like the police will decide on how many personnel they need to send, and money to be spent based on their intelligence report.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Fairus says it again: I quit - Malaysiakini

Apr 24, 09 4:03pm

Former Penang deputy chief minister Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin has reiterated his resignation as Penanti assemblyperson in a press statement today.

“I reaffirmed my position to resign as Adun N12 Penanti and pledge full support to the PKR leadership under de facto leader Ibrahim Anwar,” he said in a statement issued by the party’s information bureau at 3.30pm.

Fairus' Press Statement: (Click on pix to enlarge)

Thursday, April 23, 2009

MACC clears Fairus of corruption charges - Sun

PETALING JAYA (April 23, 2009) :

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) today said the statements it had taken in its probe on former Penang Deputy Chief Minister I Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin over alleged corrupt links with quarry operations in the state did not provide a basis for prosecution.

It said in a statement that its legal and prosecution section took into account all testimonies and found no grounds to prosecute Mohamad Fairuz, and that the Attorney-General too was informed and concurred with the decision.

Newspapers had on Wednesday reported that Mohammad Fairus, 33, claimed to have been cleared of corruption and that he was told this by a MACC officer.

Mohammad Fairus who had been linked to an investigation into corruption related to quarry operations resigned as Deputy Chief Minister I on April 8.

He also quit as Penanti state assemblyman on April 16 saying he wanted to continue post-graduate studies.

The MACC statement said Mohammad Fairus' portfolio in the state government did not directly cover quarry operations, but noted that he was given the task of handling an investigation into the award of Lot 954 and 955 in Mukim 20 of Seberang Perai Tengah to an individual.

"Investigations found that Mohammad Fairus had asked for and received sponsorship from a quarry operator to attend a course in London, but this operator has no direct link to the investigation undertaken by him."

The MACC said Mohammad Fairus had attended the international course in London together with the Penang Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P. Ramasamy who was funded by the organiser and the Penang government.

"With regards to this, the MACC wants to draw the attention of all state governments, ministries and departments towards the need to adhere to procedures and guidelines in the procurement and receiving of contributions from sponsors," the MACC said.

The Commission will be send an officer to Penang to conduct a study to enhance the transparency and accountability through guidelines and procedures when receiving contributions from sponsors.

The MACC will suggest that the results of the study be applied in other states and in ministries.

This is in line with the duties and responsibilitites of the MACC as provided for under Section 7 of the MACC Act 2009, the statement said.

The Election Commission has been informed of a vacancy in Penanti but is only expected to make an announcement on Monday.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Don't speculate on Fairus' resignation, says Penang PKR chief - Star

April 17, 2009

GEORGE TOWN: People should not speculate on former Penang Deputy Chief Minister I Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin’s decision to quit as the Penanti assemblyman, said state PKR chiefDatuk Zahrain Mohamed Hashim

He said the decision was made by Mohammad Fairus himself and people should respect it.

“I am sure he has good reasons for resigning, and I am also sure that (PKR de facto leader) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has been briefed about it,” he said when contacted on Friday.

A statement bearing Mohammad Fairus’s signature, announcing his resignation and his reasons for it, was e-mailed to the media by the PKR headquarters in Petaling Jaya on Thursday.

The resignation comes a day after a scathing interview with a Chinese newspaper in which Fairus claimed he was being fixed by his own party.

Asked if Mohammad Fairus had alerted him about the decision, Zahrain said he (Mohammad Fairus) was dealing with Anwar directly.

“Datuk Seri had alerted me about the matter. I did not receive any letter from Mohammad Fairus,” he added.

Fairus resigns as Penanti assemblyman; Another by-election imminent - Sun

By Opalyn Mok

GEORGE TOWN (April 16, 2009) : Former Penang deputy chief minister Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin yesterday resigned as Penanti state assemblyman, confirming weeks of speculation that a by-election for the Penanti state seat was likely.

In a press statement, Mohammad Fairus, 33, said he took this step to resign as a state representative to protect the interest of his party, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR).

He said he also wanted to give full attention to pursuing his doctorate, as well as spend more time with his family, something that had to take a back seat as he had to fulfill his duties as an assemblyman.

"This will also give me space to focus on efforts to clear my name from all accusations hurled at me all this time," said Mohammad Fairus who is under probe by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission for corruption.

He voiced his gratitude to his constituents for their support throughout his tenure as assemblyman.

Mohammad Fairus had been under media glare for all the wrong reasons in recent times, the latest being the MACC probe for aalleged corruption relating to quarry activities.

Over the past few days, reporters had waited at the Butterworth Sessions Court, just in case he is charged.

The politician tendered his resignation as DCM I and state executive councillor effective April 8 and since then, PKR has yet to name a replacement.

Just a day ago, Mohammad Fairus had issued a threat, through an interview with a Chinese daily, to PKR de-facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to clear his (Fairus's) name or else he will disclose a scandal involving the Penang state government and also PKR. (see page 8)

With Mohammad Fairus's resignation as the Penanti state assemblyman, the Election Commission will have to hold a by-election for the seat within 60 days of being informed by the State Assembly Speaker Abdul Halim Hussain.

Penang PKR chairman Datuk Zahrain Mohamad confirmed that Mohammad Fairus' resignation was sent to Abdul Halim today.

Abdul Halim later confirmed receiving Fairus' quit letter.

The Penanti seat is under the Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat, held by Anwar. It has an electorate of 15,421, of which 70% are Malays, 26.7% Chinese and 2.7% Indians.

It was reported that DAP and PAS, PKR's partners in the Pakatan Rakyat coalition, are not happy about forcing another by-election as the people were suffering from election fatique. There have already been five by-elections since the March 8 2008 general election.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Fairus quits his Penanti seat - Star

April 16, 2009

KUALA LUMPUR: Former Penang Deputy Chief Minister 1 Mohd Fairus Khairuddin resigned as Penanti assemblyman effective Thursday.

In a press statement, he said that he would now focus on his post-graduate studies and in clearing his name from the allegations hurled against him.

He also said that he looked forward to spending more time with his family.

He thanked his constituents for supporting him and said that he was quitting for the good of Pakatan Rakyat its struggle under the leadership of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Guan Eng: States ruled by Pakatan still strong - Star

Feb 10, 2009 By DERRICK VINESH

NIBONG TEBAL: States ruled by Pakatan Rakyat are still strong despite rumours that Barisan Nasional might topple the governments in those states, says DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng.

He said Pakatan had faith in its assemblymen and that they would not cross over as what had happened in Perak.

He said the party would also not ask its assemblymen and MPs to sign an “Aku Janji” document (pledge of loyalty) as was once practised by Barisan Nasional to prevent party-hopping.

“We have faith in our assemblymen and there is no need for an Aku Janji. Loyalty from the mouth is not as important as loyalty from the heart,” he told newsmen at Jawi assemblyman Tan Beng Huat’s Chinese New Year open house here Monday.

DAP won 29 parliamentary seats and 79 state seats in the last general election.

However, Jelapang assemblyman Hee Yit Foong quit the party last week and became an independent, pledging her support for Barisan.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Guan Eng: Don ‘t harp on funds allocation - Sun

GEORGE TOWN (Jan 18, 2009)

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has urged the Penang Chinese Town Hall (PCTH) not to harp on the state government’s priority in fund allocation.

He said the funds were limited and could only be used for social activities which benefitted the state government.

Speaking to reporters after putting up Chinese New Year cultural and heritage celebration banners in the city today, Lim reiterated that the PCTH celebration is a private function, not a state initiative.

It was reported last week that the state government did not give the allocation of RM15,000 to PCTH due to the economic crisis.

"The issue should be put to rest, as PCTH received the allocation from the federal government through the Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry recently," Lim added.

He said the state government will hold its Chinese New Year celebrations at Campbell Street from 6.30pm to 10.30pm on Jan 29.

The Chinese New Year cultural and heritage celebrations will be held in the George Town heritage area on Feb 1, from noon to midnight, and will feature cultural performances.