Thursday, April 10, 2014

Will Paul Low be Transparent on New Highways?

Joint Media Statement by Yeo Bee Yin, Rajiv Rishyakaran, Ng Sze Han and Lau Weng San, State Assemblypersons of Damansara Utama, Bukit Gasing, Kinrara and Kampung Tunku on Sunday, 6 April 2014.  (BM and Chinese translation as below) 

We call upon the minister in the prime minister office, Datuk Paul Low to walk the talk of transparency and push for the disclosure of Kinrara-Damansara Expressway (KIDEX) concession agreement.

KIDEX is a 14.9km elevated highway project that is worth RM2.42 billion. The contract was awarded to Emrail Sdn Bhd and Zabima Engineering Sdn Bhd, which are linked to UMNO lawyer Datuk Hafarizam Harun and the wife of former Chief Justice Tun Zaki Azmi.

KIDEX Sdn Bhd, which was a company formed by Emrail Sdn Bhd and Zabima Engineering Sdn Bhd[1], has announced that KIDEX highway construction is to begin as early as beginning of next year. [2]

While it is debatable whether the contract is a ‘political reward’, there’s one thing we know – we have yet to see the concession agreement. How long will the concession be? How much is the toll rate? On what basis will the toll rate is to be computed?

We do welcome more highways that connect north and south of Klang Valley. Currently, there are 5 highways that serve the Klang Valley with an east-west alignment, which are SPRINT, Federal Highway, NPE, KESAS and the Bukit Jalil Highway; but only one highway with a north-south alignment, which is Lebuhraya Damansara Puchong (LDP). The aim of KIDEX is to help to alleviate traffic congestion on the LDP, which is good.

Nevertheless, will it become another LDP that rob people for obscene profit for the concessionaire in the name of infrastructure? The total capital cost of construction of the LDP highway is estimated at RM1.3 billion while the projected profit after tax over the 30-year concession period will be RM18.9 billion, which is 14 times the capital investment. [3] Giving the Barisan Nasional government the benefits of doubt, we do not know whether KIDEX is another highway robbery until we see the concession agreement.

Since assuming his role as the ‘transparency minister’ in the Prime Minister office, Datuk Paul Low has been singing the tune of transparency and accountability. He stressed the necessity of access of information and questioned the rationale of putting the highway concession under Official Secrets Act (OSA).[4] He also denied the label as a lame duck ‘transparency minister’.[5]

Therefore, we believe that Datuk Paul Low should push for disclosure of concession agreements of all the highways to be built in his tenure. And we suggest that he start with KIDEX concession agreement. This is definitely a golden opportunity for him to prove that he is after all not a lame duck ‘transparency minister’.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Reps lament Kidex secrecy, propose alternatives

Text Reference:
A group of DAP state assemblypersons have lamented the secrecy shrouding the planned Kinrara-Damansara Expressway (Kidex) and the federal government's apparent unwillingness to look at alternatives.

They are upset that the authorities have refused to release the project's Traffic Impact Assessment (TIA) report, saying that it is protected under the Official Secrets Act 1972.

"Why it under the OSA? This is not about submarine, battle ships or air force fighters, it is not a national security issue and there is no reason for the TIA to be kept secret," Bukit Gasing state assemblyperson R Rajiv told a press conference at Asia Jaya LRT station in Petaling Jaya this morning.

Rajiv, together with Lau Weng San (Kampung Tunku), Yeo Bee Yin (Damansara Utama) and NgSze Han (Kinrara) urged acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein to order the release of the information.

Yeo said the information is needed for the people to decide their stance on the project.

This comes as the Pakatan Rakyat-led Selangor government is being forced to take sides after local residents, faced with land acquisition by the federal-approved project, turned on it.

On Wednesday, residents protested outside the Selangor state secretariat and submitted a memorandum to Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim in the hope that the state which has powers over land matters can be a road block to Putrajaya's plan.

"We are refraining from opposing until we see the right facts and figures by an independent body, then we can make an educated and informed decision," she said, urging transparency from Putrajaya.

The 14.9km elevated highway will begin from the north at NKVE Damansara toll and run southwards to the Bukit Jalil Highway near Kinrara, passing through the heart of Petaling Jaya.

Highway needed at better place

Yeo conceded that there are five highways running from east to west but only one north to south highway which is the terribly congested Damansara-Puchong Highway (LDP).

As such, Yeo said she was not opposed to highways but the existing alignment of Kidex which cuts through a narrow corridor in a heavily populated area cannot not be taken lightly.

She added that Putrajaya must seriously consider alternatives such as LRT or Bus Rail Transit (BRT) for the narrow pathway while a north-south aligned highway like Kidex can be built somewhere more suitable such as over the existing LDP alignment.

Rajiv said if Putrajaya rushes through with the Kidex under the current alignment, it will occupy the air space, killing off the possibility of any public transport system for that area in future.

The state assemblypersons also presented an LRT alignment as a replacement for the planned Kidex, which they say will link up four existing public transport systems and provide greater connectivity.

If an LRT is constructed instead, it will link up with the MRT station due to be completed in Section 16, Petaling Jaya, the Asia Jaya LRT station, the Kampung Dato Harun KTM station and the extended Bandar Kinrara Section 2 LRT station.

LRT alternative cost a little higher

"The cost of Kidex is about RM170 million per kilometre while based on the cost of the LRT extension in Subang and Puchong, an LRT will cost RM205 million per kilometre, which is not too much of a difference," said Rajiv.

Rajiv added that the government must consider the issue of connectivity and not develop transportation systems onan ad-hoc basis.

"The problem now is the Transport Ministry is handling highways while the Land Public Transport Commission is doing railways, they are working separately," he said.

Kampung Tunku's Lau said that the government should not repeat the mistake when it first constructed the LDP and the Kelana Jaya line LRT without considering connectivity, resulting in today's congestion.

Meanwhile, Kinrara's Ng added that a public transportation system pathway will take up less space than a highway which may minimise the need for land acquisition.

As it is now, the Kidex project will see some 300 land acquisitions.

The assemblypersons urged Putrajaya to study carefully all alternatives before settling for a highway on the narrow north-south corridor cutting across Petaling Jaya.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Current Water Woe is Not an Act of God but a Man-made Crisis

Media Statement of Yeo Bee Yin, State Assemblywoman for Damansara Utama, on Wednesday 5 February 2013.

Current water woe is not an act of God but a man-made crisis. It wasn’t the dry spell that caused the water crisis but Syabas’s inability to reduce its non-revenue water in the past few years. We must embark on water restructuring exercise as soon as possible to ensure long-term water security for people in Klang Valley. 

Monday, January 27, 2014

Putrajaya Paid Generously to Supplier but Peanuts to the Firemen

Media Statement by Yeo Bee Yin, State Assemblywoman for Damansara Utama on Saturday, 25 January 2014 in Petaling Jaya.

The RM50 million the Finance Ministry spent in buying non-essential tools for Fire and Rescue Department will better be spent on compensating the 13,000 (mostly underpaid) firemen – it could well be a bonus of about RM3,800 per fireman.

As revealed by the Public Accounts Committee (PAC), the Barisan Nasional government has once again shown its lack of accountability in utilizing rakyat’s money by spending RM50 million in buying "CCS Cobra Cutting Extinguisher E300" through direct negotiation. This came even WITHOUT the Fire and Rescue Department requesting for it. 

We believe that the Fire Department will be better off if the money was used to compensate the firemen in the form of bonus or pay increment. As of now, many firemen have been underpaid - the basic salary of a junior fireman is lower than RM1,000 and even a Station Commander is only about RM3,800. Furthermore, they are not entitled to overtime claim. Under such a pay scheme, which is significantly lower than their PDRM counterpart, even with some other allowances, many firemen may still find it difficult to raise their families, especially those who are based in Klang Valley area.

Why did Putrajaya pay so generously to the supplier via direct negotiation but peanuts to the men and women who are standing at the forefront to protect the lives and property of the rakyat?  

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Women in Tudung Should be Free from Discrimination: UMNO Shows Two Faces in Tudung Incidents

Media Statement by Yeo Bee Yin, State Assemblywoman of Damansara Utama on Sunday, 19 January 2014 in Petaling Jaya.

Women in ‘tudung’ as a way of professing her Muslim faith should be free from any forms of discrimination in Malaysia, as guaranteed by the Federal Constitution. Nevertheless, UMNO’s different response to discrimination against women in ‘tudung’ in SRJK (C) Nan Ya to that of the multinational retailers in Kuala Lumpur City Centre (KLCC) clearly showed that it practices “One Malaysia Two Standards”. 

Is Putrajaya Trying to Cover up the Blocking of BBC's "Kangkung" Site

Media Statement by Yeo Bee Yin, DAP Social Media Strategist and State Assemblywoman for Damansara Utama on Friday, 17 Jan 2014 in Petaling Jaya.
The incident of BBC’s “kangkung” article being inaccessible raised red flag on Putrajaya’s commitment to Internet and social media freedom, which is crucial for Pakatan Rakyat victory in the next General Election.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Open Letter to Prime Minister: Be a Man, Make Your Stand

Dear Prime Minister, 

Since 2 January, our country has once again plunged into the "Allah" chaos, a unique scenario that can be found only in Malaysia. The whole world is laughing at us but that doesn't bother me. What bothers me is this question that keeps lingering in my mind: where does the future lie?

It breaks my heart when I see our country wasting time fighting over the name of God instead of focusing on saving the declining quality of education, the lack of opportunities for the young and the many thousands of rural villages in Sabah and Sarawak that are still deprived of basic necessities.

It also breaks my heart when I see the bond we built as a nation since independence now on the verge of ruin. The gaps between us have just become wider. We have now a situation in Malaysia where someone may have to accept permanent state of inferiority and find himself more like an exile in his own land. This is surely not what our forefathers wanted when they first started this nation.

Mr. Prime Minister,

Malaysia's biggest disease now is hypocrisy. Religion has been repeatedly used to stir up emotions and hatred among the people for political gain. This is not a new weapon, throughout the history it has been used by those who could not prevail, either by persuasion or deeds.

I hope you'll do better than that, don't resort to such schemes to hide your inability to lead and govern.

I remember that you once likened the struggle of UMNO to that of Nelson Mandela's. I would like to remind you that Nelson Mandela had never resorted to splitting his country to gain political power. He stood for what is right and just, even if that meant having to go to jail for 27 years.

I will be very grateful if you, the Prime Minister of Malaysia, posses even the slightest bit of his moral strength. Have you the nerve and the will to stand and speak for what is right?

Mr. Prime Minister,

We must put an end to this "Allah" war soonest possible or it will put an end to our dream as a great nation.

Why are you keeping quiet?

I hate to admit that, but you are the one that should give the final call on the "Allah" issue because only your words will not be twisted and played up by the mainstream media.

We have no time to fight over "Allah" again and again. It is time to fight poverty, corruption, ignorance and incompetency. It is time to build up a prosperous, democratic and progressive nation.

So I ask you now, for the good of all of us and for the love this great nation: please, tell us, how do we move forward?

Mr. Prime Minister,

For your information, my colleagues and I have made a stand as the lawmakers of Selangor after JAIS raided Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM). We stood on the promises of our forefathers as written in the Federal Constitution of Malaysia, that everyone has the right to profess, practice and manage his and her own religion.

As for you, you announced the 10-point solution before the election but kept incredibly silent after 2 January. Is the 10-point solution nothing but a tool for you to win power? Does Putrajaya still stand-by the 10-point solution? It is exactly 2 weeks from JAIS's raid but you've made no comment about this. Is this what the Prime Minister supposed to be?

As a lawmaker of Selangor, I have made my stand clear over this issue, the very obligation the people have voted me to do. I am expecting greater conviction and greater courage from you, the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

So, be a man, make your stand.

Thank you.

Yours Sincerely,

Yeo Bee Yin

State Assemblywoman of Damansara Utama
16 January 2014

Sunday, January 12, 2014

MCA has No Moral Standing To Criticise Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim

Media statement by Tony Pua, Member of Parliament for Petaling Jaya Utara and DAP National Publicity Secretary on Sunday, 12 January 2014 in Kuala Lumpur.
The MCA has no moral standing to criticise Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim over the measures being taken to return the Al-Kitabs seized by JAIS to the Bible Society of Malaysia.
The MCA has called on the Pakatan Rakyat-ruled Selangor government to order the immediate return of the Bibles which were seized from the Bible Society of Malaysia (BSM) by the state Islamic Religious Department (JAIS).
MCA has no moral standing at all to criticise the Pakatan Rakyat state government in Selangor who is trying its very best to resolve the issue in a highly-charged environment.  The whole problem arose because MCA had in 1988 passed the relevant controversial Non-Islamic Religions Enactment its significant other, UMNO.
It is the very enactment which was passed by Barisan Nasional, with the full support of MCA, which is giving rise to JAIS assertiveness today in curbing the rights of the non-Islamic religions.
Section 9 of the Enactment criminalises a person who in any published writing, in any public speech or statement uses the term “Allah” and 35 other phrases pertaining to any non-Islamic religion.
Worse, it was MCA, together with its paramour UMNO which passed Section 11 and 12 of the same Enactment which gives powers for “an authorised officer” to seize all relevant evidence and “may arrest without warrant any person suspected of having committed any such offence”.