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Saturday, November 19, 2011

School aid suggestive of vote-buying

Stephanie Sta Maria
November 17, 2011

Opposition MPs query ministry directive for BN reps to be present during the distribution of funds to schools.

PETALING JAYA: A recent Education Ministry directive for BN parliamentarians and assemblymen to be present at the distribution of schooling assistance to parents has raised eyebrows in the opposition camp.

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak had announced in the 2012 Budget that all primary and secondary students nationwide would receive RM100 by the end of this month.

The funds would be deposited into the Bank Simpanan Nasional (BSN) accounts of the schools and subsequently handed out to the students or their parents.

Last Sunday however, the ministry issued a circular requesting all BN representatives to be present during the distributions to act as a “touchpoint” between the government and the people.

PKR’s Subang MP, Sivarasa Rasiah, said that the one-off payment in itself is suggestive of vote-buying and that the presence of politicians appeared as an attempt to seal that connection between the “gift” and the intended vote.

“If this allocation was made a permanent benefit and the right of poorer familes, then these questions wouldn’t arise,” he said. “And this is the difference between the BN and Pakatan budget. Our aid programmes are continuous.”

“My other problem with this aid is that it is part of a budget that hasn’t yet been approved in its entirety which makes the distribution of funds inappropriate at this point.”

Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar, meanwhile, observed a contradiction between this new directive and an earlier one in in January barring all politicians from entering school compounds.

Education should be above politics’

She also noted that BN parties appear to be dominating government schools in the country and this isn’t welcome by all Malaysians.

“Look, while I appreciate the government fulfilling its promises to the people, you also have to look at the procedures involved,” she said. “It goes beyond the issue of vote buying and into clouding the governance of education.”

“It isn’t about whether this will affect my rice bowl as a politician but about the fact that a responsible government should prioritise education above politics.”

Bukit Bendera MP Liew Chin Tong added that the directive appeared to be part of a last- minute campaign before an election spurred by the belief that the gesture would garner votes.

“There is no need for their presence,” he said. “It won’t make a difference because it’s not about improving the system. What is needed is a genuine open policy on the country’s future.

“Instead of just being a touchpoint, there should be open engagement with parents. In this situation, it is not enough to literally stand there and be counted.”

According to Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng, a Taiping school board chairman had recently given the government a tongue lashing over politicians entering school grounds.

“He said that politicians don’t belong on a holistic campus and I fully support his stand,” he said. “Let the aid be distributed by the principals without any political presence or involvement.”

original source:

Friday, November 18, 2011

Natalie Wood Case Reopened

· The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Dept. announced Thursday that it will reopen its investigation into the 1981 drowning death of Natalie Wood. “Recently Sheriff’s homicide investigators were contacted by persons who stated they had additional information about the Natalie Wood Wagner drowning,” the office claimed in a statement.

“Due to the additional information, Sheriff’s homicide bureau has decided to take another look at the case.” Wood’s husband Robert Wagner, meanwhile, welcomes another look but hopes “that it comes from a credible source or sources other than those simply trying to profit from the 30-year anniversary of her tragic death.” Or the 50th anniversary of West Side Story. Ahem. [LAT, THR]


SYABAS Berniaga Secara Berhutang Bukan Ikut Kemampuan

Wednesday, 16 November 2011 | Ruangan: Berita

Oleh : Mat Zahari Ali

SHAH ALAM, 16 NOVEMBER : Menteri Besar , Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim mendedahkan tindakan beberapa syarikat konsesi air seperti Syabas yang menjalankan operasi perniagaan mereka secara berhutang dan bukannya berdasarkan kemampuan kewangan syarikat terbabit.

Kesan daripada itu mengakibatkan Syabas terpaksa menaikkan tarif air bagi membayar pelbagai tunggakkan kepada pihak yang memberi hutang.

Menurut Abdul Khalid, selepas Syabas mendapat kontrak bagi konsesi perbekalan air, syarikat tersebut menjadikan perjanjian kontrak tersebut sebagai cagaran untuk mendapatkan hutang dari pasaran-pasaran kewangan.

“Syabas telah berhutang sebanyak RM3 bilion dari syarikat-syarikat kewangan sejurus selepas memperoleh perjanjian konsasi tersebut.

“Ini menunjukkan asas perniagaan Syabas adalah dari sumber hutang bukannya dari kemampuan kewangan syabas sendiri.” kata beliau ketika menjawab soalan Adun Lembah Jaya, Abdul Khasim Abdul Aziz.

Beliau yang juga Adun Ijok berkata akibat dari bebanan hutang yang tinggi, bebanan tersebut terpaksa ditanggung oleh rakyat dengan cara Syabas menaikkan tarif air.

“Apabila hutang tidak dapat dibayar Syabas telah meminta dari kerajaan persekutuan.

“Disebabkan nak bantu syarikat kroni kerajaan pusat telah menggunakan wang rakyat dengan memberi pinjaman sebanyak RM300 juta tanpa faedah selama tujuh hingga lapan tahun.” jelas Abdul Khalid.

Menurut Abdul Khalid lagi akibat daripada ketidakcekapan Syabas serta beberapa syarikat konsasi air di Selangor ini menyebabkan kerajaan negeri terpaksa menggunakan dana yang tinggi untuk mengambil alih industri air di negeri ini.

“Selangor perlu menggunakan hampir RM10 bilion untuk mengambil alih air Selangor kerana kos tersebut turut melibatkan hutang-hutang syarikat konsasi tersebut dengan pasaran-pasaran kewangan.

“Walaupun bayarannya agak besar tetapi industri air ini perlu diselamatkan bagi menjamin tidak berlaku penguasaan yang sewenang-wenangnya oleh mereka yang tidak bertanggung jawab yang akhirnya dibebankan kepada rakyat.” ujar beliau lagi.


Note: use Google Chrome to translate this page.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

sopa - Stop Internet Piracy Act

SOPA — the Stop Internet Piracy Act — has been presented in the House of Representatives as a way to protect movie studios, record labels and others whose music and films are taken and copied online. There was a hearing on it today. Its Senate counterpart is called the Protect IP Act.

But others are calling them flawed bills that would lead to Internet censorship.

Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Google, said the bills would overdo it — giving copyright holders and government the power to cut off websites unreasonably. They could be shut down, and search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo could be stopped from linking to them.

“The solutions are draconian,” Schmidt said Tuesday at the MIT Sloan School of Management. “There’s a bill that would require ISPs [Internet service providers] to remove URLs from the Web, which is also known as censorship last time I checked.”

That said, Schmidt granted that Hollywood studios have a real problem — people are pirating their movies and threatening their business. The Motion Picture Association of America has posted promos on YouTube to plead its case.

Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who chairs the House Judiciary Committee and sponsored SOPA, has said his bill will help “stop the flow of revenue to rogue websites and ensures that the profits from American innovations go to American innovators.”

Now Tumblr, the microblogging website, has joined the opposition to the bills with a page called “ Protect the Net.”

“As written, they would betray more than a decade of US policy and advocacy of Internet freedom,” said a statement on Tumblr, “by establishing a censorship system using the same domain blacklisting technologies pioneered by China and Iran.”