Friday, March 19, 2010

Ku Li: Goodwill payments lead to graft, abuse

KUALA TERENGGANU, March 19 — Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah charged that the federal government’s goodwill payment has led to graft and power abuse, saying RM20 billion of Terengganu’s petro-dollars was spent although approved payments amounted to only RM1.6 billion in the last five years.

The founding chairman of Petronas last night stuck to his claims that the oil-producing states should get direct five per cent oil royalties rather than goodwill payments made by Putrajaya agencies, which he said were prone to abuse.

“I’ve heard that the current Terengganu government doesn’t want to take (the payment) as they can’t accept the accounts of how the money was spent five years ago.

“Because there were lots of abuses... build that, build this. Everything collapses, nothing remained standing,” the Umno veteran told a dialogue in Kuala Terengganu, referring to a string of government building collapses including a stadium.

The Terengganu government used to receive its five per cent royalty from national oil firm Petronas, from 1978 until when PAS captured the state in the 1999 elections. The royalty was then converted to goodwill payments, until Putrajaya agreed to revert to oil royalty payments in 2009, five years after Barisan Nasional retook the state.

Kelantan is insisting on the five per cent oil royalty, amounting to RM2 billion, but Putrajaya says it was not eligible as oil and gas was extracted beyond the three nautical miles that was the state’s territorial limits, but agreed to goodwill payments — similar to Terengganu’s — amounting to RM25 million.

The Kelantan prince has joined the fight for the state’s right to the payments, saying goodwill payments were unlawful and prone to abuse.

“We have to remember that with a lot of money, it can be used for corruption, a lot of things are priced higher to steal the money... that is what is called goodwill payments,” he told the Premier Dialogue on Oil Royalty at the Terengganu Equestrian Resort here.

Some 4,000 people crowded the 1,000-capacity hall for the dialogue, jointly organised by two groups seeking the return of oil royalties for both states.

Among those at the hall were PAS secretary-general Datuk Mustafa Ali, and Kelantan executive councillor Datuk Husam Musa, who leads a special state committee on oil royalty.

Tengku Razaleigh, who had spoken on the issue in Kelantan capital Kota Baru last Jan 28, touched on similar themes, saying goodwill payments might not follow procedures and cause leakages.

“Because there are leakages, there is corruption, abuse of power and such. In the end, the people end up with nothing,” said the Gua Musang Umno division chief popularly known as Ku Li.

Ku Li’s stand has put him at odds with his party, which initially chastised him but has taken to treating him royally for fear he might defect to political foes, Pakatan Rakyat, and provide leadership if de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is jailed for sodomy.

He also spoke about the differences between oil royalty and the goodwill payment offered by Putrajaya, noting the people were ready to accept direct payments of between RM200 and RM300 when they were entitled to more.

The Umno leader then revealed that the government had approved RM1.6 billion out of RM2.9 billion in goodwill payments in the past five years for Terengganu ,although some RM20 billion was actually spent. He did not give further details.

Tengku Razaleigh was questioned about his support for Kelantan’s campaign to get the oil royalty, as he had not done so when Terengganu faced a similar issue in 2000, but PAS officials came to his rescue.

Mustafa said the prince had played the same role in 2000 when he offered to be the state’s witness in its suit to regain the oil royalty from Putrajaya.

But he said the court declined Tengku Razaleigh as a witness.

To another question, Ku Li said he was puzzled with the government’s stand to link the Emergency Ordinance and the Petroleum Development Act 1974, but said the later law would supersede any ordinances.

“From what I understand, the ordinance was made in 1966, 1966 is earlier than 1974 when the Petroleum Development Act was approved by Parliament.

“Even if the ordinance was made after 1974, it cannot be superior to the Act made in 1974,” he added.

He also slammed Putrajaya for putting out newspaper advertisements to claim he was inconsistent in his stand over the oil royalty issue.

“Apparently it was a different talk then, it’s different talk now. The inconsistent ones are them, not me. I am still saying what I said then.

“I am trying to defend the law. I am here today to explain the law,” Ku Li said in his speech, adding the law was clear that oil-producing states were entitled to oil royalty or “cash payments”.

“The matter should not arise any more but it is still an issue,” he said when answering questions.

Asked for steps beyond the dialogue, Tengku Razaleigh said he had informed Husam that the issue can only be resolved if the prime minister himself admitted to getting wrong advice.

Otherwise, the state government will have to find a middleman to help change the status quo.

“I have said I can be the middleman for the state government — any state government, not just Kelantan — for free... for the federal government to solve the matter.

“If they are afraid that the money will be abused for politics or anything else, I am willing to be the middleman to ensure the benefit is for the people.

“That is one way. The other way is the interpretation of the law... like Perak, see what has happened, many interpretations,” he noted, saying it was up to the state government to decide its future moves.

Tengku Razaleigh said the best way was to use a middleman to convince both sides to follow current provisions or to go for arbitration.

“Otherwise, there is always war,” he joked.

By G Manimaran

Friday, March 12, 2010

Tengke Razaleigh : A federation in name only

Malaysia was formed in 1963, when the eleven states of the previous Malayan Federation came together with Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore to create the Federation of Malaysia.

Federalism is a system of government in which legislative power is divided between a central or federal legislature and a number of state legislatures. Both levels of government derive their authority from a written Constitution.

Unlike in a unitary state, sovereignty in a federal state is decentralized. Thus the rights of citizens are secured at two levels, federal and state. In Malaysia, Federation was a way to accommodate the different histories and pre-existing sovereignty of the member states of the Federation.

Federalism is a way of dividing and sharing power. In the system envisaged in our Constitution, this division and sharing of power is part of a system of checks and balances meant to protect the rights and freedoms of our citizens. The separation of powers between the judiciary, the legislature and the executive are part of that complex interlocking system.

People often remark at how complex this country is, made up as we are of a patchwork of ethnicities and religions. But we are also complex in our political history. The nine sultanates of peninsular Malaysia, did not suddenly acquire their sovereignty upon the Federation Agreement of 1948. Instead it is by their voluntary coming together in that agreement that the federal authority was created. Federal sovereignty and authority, although wider than that of the member states, is derived from the prior sovereignty of the states. In the nine sultanates of the peninsula, for example, we had sovereign states before we had a federation, and before the various forms of colonial rule. The Federation derives it powers by the voluntary and binding agreement of the states, not the other way around. This conviction was well tested in the way the Malayan Union proposal was rejected.

Thus we had an auspicious start as a country, because our political arrangement guaranteed our rights within a system that reflected and protected our cultural and historical diversity. Federalism provides for the right measure of local autonomy. Decision-making, particularly about the allocation of resources, could be made in a way that more closely reflected the interests of people on the ground, that is to say, more efficiently.

This system did was not born overnight. The sovereignty of our member states is hundreds of years old. Our Constitution was established on an 800 year old tradition of constitutional law. These are solid foundations for constitutional democracy. If Malaya were not already a Federation, Sabah and Sarawak would not have come together with us to form Malaysia in 1963. Federation is the only political basis on which Malaysia is a viable political venture.

In present company these facts must seem so well-established that I hope you will forgive me if I come across as stating the obvious. Today we find ourselves in the position of having to state and re-state foundational truths about our country.

As a country we have come unmoored from our foundations in constitutionalism and federalism. We are now, for most intents and purposes, a federation in name only. The central government hands out allocations that belong by right to the states as if these were gifts from on high. State governments are starved of resources, particularly if they are governed by the Opposition. How has this happened?

We have undergone two and a half decades in which, while hard infrastructure has sprung up everywhere, the deep infrastructure of the constitution has suffered great damage. Our federal arrangements provide for a fine balance between state and federal powers which provide multiple levels of assurance for the rights of citizens. That balance has been removed as power has been concentrated in the federal government. Within the federal government that power has come to be centralized in the executive. In the executive, that power is concentrated in the hands of the Prime Minister

This forum addresses the question “should states be given more power?” , but really what needs to be done is to restore the constitutional rights of the states first.

The constitutional rights of the states are clearly violated in the way petroleum profits are being distributed and managed.

The federal government says Kelantan and Terengganu have no right to the “cash payments” agreed between the states and Petronas. These denials have been published in the newspapers and are repeated by official representatives of the government. The full implications of their denial are not trivial. The Federal government’s authority over these resources, as in all other things, is an authority derived from the original sovereignty of the states. By the Federation Agreement of 1948, the states of the Malayan peninsula came voluntarily into a federation and created a common federal government. As part of that agreement, the Federal government had jurisdiction over waters beyond 3 nautical miles. The states had jurisdiction within 3 nautical miles. Oil had not been discovered in Malaya at the time. Had it been found, however, anything within 3 nautical miles would have belonged in its entirety to the state, and anything beyond that to the federal government. In 1974, we formed Petronas as a common trust between the federal and state governments for all petroleum found anywhere in Malaysia, onshore or offshore. We did this by persuading the states governments, one by one, to vest their entire rights and claims to petroleum, onshore or offshore, in perpetuity to Petronas. The federal government did the same. By design, this obliterated any considerations of whether the oil was found within or beyond 3 or 12 nautical miles. So long as Malaysia had any share in the oil, the profits would be divided between the federal government and the relevant state government according to a simple formula: five percent to each.

That series of vestings was secured through deeds signed according to the Petroleum Development Act. As the founding chairman of Petronas I signed these deeds with each chief minister and with the federal government.

The federal government’s refusal to pay Kelantan, and it’s arbitrary treatment of Terengganu’s oil money – on and off according to whether the state was in Opposition hands—is in violation of a solemn contract, sealed in an Act of Parliament, between the State governments and Petronas. The federal government is reneging on a contract and in contempt of Parliament. Its attitude to these oil payments is transparently based on one criterion: those states whose legislatures are not controlled by Barisan Nasional are denied payment. This practice punishes citizens for their choice of state government. This is an attack on the right of the people to choose their own government within our system of parliamentary democracy. Oil payments are just one form of selective denial of funds to the states.

Putrajaya behaves as if we are a unitary state and not a federation. Ironically we have become in practice the Malayan Union which an earlier generation resisted and defeated. The autonomy of the states, their rights to development and to the husbandry of their own resources, and the proper role of the rulers and the way in which religion is governed in public life are displaced in favour of increasingly centralized and absolute power. This is unconstitutional and must be resisted with just as much vigour as we resisted the Malayan Union. Malaysia is not viable in the long run as a unitary state.

source :

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

UDA Tutup Puduraya 4 Bulan Untuk Kerja Naik Taraf

KUALA LUMPUR: Hentian bas Puduraya akan ditutup selama empat bulan mulai 19 Mac ini untuk kerja-kerja menaik taraf terminal tersebut, demikian menurut kenyataan yang dikeluarkan oleh UDA hari ini.

UDA adalah pemilik dan pengurus kompleks terminal tersebut.