Saturday, January 24, 2009

“Gong Xi, Gong Xi, Gong Xi Ni!”

As the Chinese New Year approaches, the people especially the chinese are having shopping frenzies from replacing wardrobes to moving into new house. They don’t even mind paying a higher “premium” during this.

Every Chinese New Year I will try to visit a charitable organisation. This year, I went to the office of Beautiful Gate Foundation For The Disabled. I made acquaintance with its Executive Director, Pastor Sia Siew Chin, after last year’s general election when she came to me for legal advice. During the visit, I gave the foundation some money as my “ang pow” to contribute in its operation cost. The foundation has 6 centres all over Klang Valley for the psychical-challenged people.

If you wish to assist the foundation, please call 03-7873 6579 or go to

Lim Lip Eng

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Pakatan duo lodge report over KT ‘corrupt acts’

Taken from Malaysiakini 22.1.2009

Two Pakatan Rakyat MPs have lodged a report with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) over alleged corrupt practices by Barisan Nasional during the Kuala Terengganu by-election. The report was lodged by Lim Lip Eng (DAP-Segambut) and Loh Gwo Burne (PKR-Kelana Jaya) at the Federal Territories MACC headquarters in Kuala Lumpur today. Their report was received by Federal Territorities MACC director Azni Hamzah.

In their report, the duo cited four instances of alleged corrupt practices and attached four newspaper clippings to support their claims. The four articles touched on:
(1) RM1 million fund for fishermen.
(2) RM23.8 million allocation for SJK (C) Chee Wen.
(3) RM15.8 million projects for Class F contractors.
(4) RM300 each for journalists covering the by-election.

Speaking to reporters later, Loh said the funding announced during the by-election appeared to be a method used to fish for votes using the government machinery. “The government and Barisan can say the funds were already approved. Our question is, why wait until the by-election to make the announcements?” he said. Loh said he hopes that the MACC would conduct public awareness campaigns in order to educate the public on what constitutes as corruption in order to discourage such practices during elections. Lim said that this report should be treated as a test case for the newly formed MACC as the anti-corruption watchdog has more power now since it is a full-fledged commission.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Flash floods a matter of ‘good faith’

Reported by P Stek in Malaysiakini on 20.1.2009

Civil servants and local authorities cannot be sued for the decisions they make, provided they act in “good faith”. Because the current legal interpretation of “good faith” is very narrow, it is very difficult to hold local governments accountable for their decisions. Even if federal planning and design guidelines are ignored, local authorities cannot be sued. “Section 95 of the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974 grants immunity to the state and immunity to civil servants if a decision is made in ‘good faith’, but is a decision in ‘good faith’ if it is in disregard of existing policies, and repeated complaints by residents or warnings by experts?” asks Derek Fernandez, city councillor for Petaling Jaya. Fernandez explains that civil servants often make bad planning decisions because of political pressure from city councillors or state officials. “Some are corrupt and close their eyes to the dangers,” says Fernandez, adding that local authorities often lack independent expertise. They rely heavily on the developers’ experts to make decisions. The consequences of planning failures are significant. Flash floods caused by poorly-planned development continue to cause significant damage. “These are not natural disasters. A natural disaster is when a river in a forest floods. These are our disasters, they are caused by human error,” says Piarapakaran Subramaniam from the Federation of Malaysian Consumer Associations (Fomca). “Old development areas were designed for their own water runoff generation. When huge drains from new developments are connected, the old drains are simply under-designed,” explained Subramaniam.

Once a flash flood occurs, the local government’s response is often inadequate.
“The way (Kuala Lumpur City Hall) solves the problem is that they unclog a particular drain, but they never look at the whole system. Following a heavy downpour the water simply has nowhere to go,” says Lim Lip Eng (DAP-Segambut), whose constituency is regularly hit by flash flooding. “City Hall overlooked drainage in the Draft Kuala Lumpur 2020 City Plan.
"They looked at the zoning of land, but how can Kuala Lumpur be a world class city without a good drainage system?” Lim asked, noting that he had repeatedly complained to City Hall about the matter.

Malaysia has some excellent guidelines related to flash flooding, including the Urban Stormwater Management Manual 2001 (MSMA) which requires “control at source” for runoff water generated by new developments. However these measures have failed to prevent flash floods in Kuala Lumpur as recently as Aug 2008.

Immunity is not acceptable
“Of course civil servants should not be sued if they are performing their duty to the best of their ability. But if there is gross negligence they should be held accountable,” said Lim. It is a sentiment that is shared by Fernandez and Subramaniam.

“It will cost more in the short term, but less in the long term,” Fernandez explains. He proposes local governments take three important steps: (1) In the planning and design stage, flood risks and other geohazards must be properly investigated. Local authorities must have the financial resources to hire independent expertise. The cost of these experts should be covered by a higher building permit application fee paid for by the developers. Engineers and local authorities should be publicly liable for their actions. (2) Someone should be held responsible for the construction and the work of sub-contractors. Currently, if standards are found to be lacking, no one takes responsibility. (3) Long term maintenance must be addressed. If a new development requires the construction of a retention pond, then the owners of the development must also be charged for its maintenance. If they are bankrupt their properties should be repossessed.
In addition, all three agreed that the immunity of civil servants is not acceptable.

Restoring trust in civil service
They insist on the abolition or amendment of certain laws, including the Public Authorities Protection Act 1948 or a re-interpretation of the term “good faith” by the courts.
Malaysiakini has tried to contact several civil servants about how they view their legal immunity, but all declined to comment. A better legal definition of ‘good faith’ is sorely needed. This is not to punish the civil servants but to restore trust in the civil service and the decisions that it makes.

Lim has asked the Works Ministry in Parliament for proof that the new SMART tunnel is actually working. The SMART tunnel was completed in 2007 at a cost of RM1.8 billion to prevent flash flooding of the Klang River in central Kuala Lumpur. When asked if the proof was really necessary, Lim said: “You can’t blame me. If you look at the majority of huge projects, they haven’t worked very well.”

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Money For Nothing

How many of them are useless?
From NST 20 Jan 2009, By K. Harinderan

A large number of electronic road signs installed under the city's Integrated Traffic Information System (ITIS) are spoilt. The number could be as high as 60 per cent of the 140 Variable Message Signs (VMS) installed to date, according to Segambut member of parliament Lim Lip Eng. The figure, however, is disputed by City Hall which said that only 30 per cent of the signs are not working. Lim said the spoilt signs were a waste of public funds as the material and installation cost for the VMS were more than RM67 million, which averaged out to about RM481,000 per sign. City Hall, he said, would have to spend another RM8 million over a period of two years to repair the spoilt signs and faulty closed circuit television cameras (CCTV) in the city. Lim said yesterday that a reply he received in parliament had stated that of 140 VMS installed in the city from 2007 to Oct 2008, 78 were not functioning. Lim, who feels that the cost was too high, said: "With this high fault rate over the last two years, why was ITIS not queried on the matter or had their contract terminated as they had failed to deliver?" The VMS units were installed to alleviate traffic congestion and display traffic information to road users, especially in areas with high traffic volume.

"Officials from the Transportation Department of City Hall had said that the problem was not due to any technical failure but was caused by thieves and road accidents. "I am curious to know how a vehicle can reach that height that it is able to damage a VMS?" said Lim, who also called on City Hall to be transparent and make public the actual amount invested in ITIS. Meanwhile, City Hall's director of Urban Transportation Leong Siew Mun said repairs were being carried out on the spoilt VMS. He blamed it on thieves who stole the copper wires leading to the communication cables. "The cables have been re-laid over the last few months and we have taken preventive measures to ensure that the problem does not occur again," added Leong.

Lim, together with 10 Pakatan Rakyat MPs whose constituencies fall within Kuala Lumpur, has called for a dialogue with KL mayor Datuk Ahmad Fuad Ismail. The dialogue is expected to be held tomorrow. "We have to monitor the feasibility of the ITIS project as it involves public funds and all aspects of the contract must be fulfilled. "For this, we call on the mayor to allow us to go through the contract to allow us to have a better understanding of the details involved," said Lim.

Raising a stink over smart public toilets

One of the six smart toilets installed by City Hall.

The smart public toilets installed by City Hall is causing grief among some users, claimed Segambut member of parliament Lim Lip Eng. Lim said many had complained that the toilets were not user-friendly as it had a time limit and infringed on a user's privacy. "I have received complaints about the smart toilets, which cost RM500,000 each to install in 2006," said Lim, adding the project was given to a third party. To date, six of the 20 smart toilets have been installed by a private company which was given the contract by City Hall. The hi-tech, self-cleaning toilets are placed in busy areas including in Bukit Bintang, Jalan P. Ramlee and Jalan Raja Laut. The total allocation for the project is RM10 million. Users have to pay between 20 sen and RM1 depending on the duration they use the toilets which measure 2.25m by 5.25m, with a height of 3.25m.

These complaints will be among the issues Lim will be raising with mayor Datuk Ahmad Fuad Ismail at a dialogue tomorrow in City Hall. He will be joined by nine other Pakatan Rakyat MPs. Lim had outlined 22 issues which he hoped to raise with the mayor. Among the issues is the award of parking contracts to four private companies which owe City Hall arrears amounting to RM7.5 million. Lim said the amount has been outstanding since 2004 and City Hall should have terminated the contracts and take legal action against them. He said City Hall had awarded a contract to keep the street pavements clean to a private company with a concession of more than 10 years. Lim claimed that the contract was not awarded through an open tender.

"We call on the mayor to follow the example of Works Minister Datuk Mohd Zin Mohamed by allowing the MPs to go through the contracts and awards. The implementation of the contract clauses have to be monitored and there should be more transparency." Other issues to be discussed include the status of the stop work order of the Damansara 21 project, illegal dumping and poor rubbish collection at many housing schemes in Segambut. Illegal telecom towers, soil erosion in Damansara Heights and the status of Bukit Kiara as a "green zone" are also among the issues to be discussed.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

City Hall's ang pow for flash flood victims

From NST, Wednesday, 14 January 2009

KUALA LUMPUR: The Year of the Ox will bring some good news to flash flood victims of Kampung Segambut Bahagia.

They will get the RM300 promised to them by City Hall around Chinese New Year.

"We wanted to have a proper function for the residents and we are considering distributing the money around Chinese New Year," said mayor Datuk Ahmad Fuad Ismail.

The residents had earlier complained that no further action was taken by City Hall since former mayor Datuk Ab Hakim Borhan visited them on Oct 29 and announced that RM300 would be given to each of the 193 families.

Hakim had also announced three flood-retention projects for the area.

One of the victims, Zori Hamid, 37, said none of the City Hall officers got in touch with them since the announcement was made.

"We have been complaining about frequent flash flood but the problem still persists. During the rainy season, we get flash floods two or three times a week.

"The worst was on Oct 17 last year when the water level was waist high. I suffered losses totalling RM7,000 as most of my electrical appliances were damaged," Zori said.

Residents of other nearby villages affected by the flash flood have asked if they would also be getting money from City Hall.

S. Chinapan, 53, of Segambut Estate, said about 30 families in his neighbourhood were affected by the floods.

"We had to throw away food items like rice as they were damaged during the flash flood and there was nothing we could do. I just want this problem to be solved as we have been forced to put up with the frequent flash floods long enough," he said.

Monday, January 12, 2009


After I lamented the non-disclosure of the newly launched Duta-Ulu Klang Expressway’s (DUKE) concessionaire agreement on Friday, the authority swiftly made it public at the Works Ministry library this morning and I have the honour for being the first “outsider” to read it. Compare to some other concessionaire agreements that I’ve read, Duke is a fairly good drafted agreement. At least the government didn’t have to pay the concession company via a loan involving hundreds of millions for the project. Another unique clause in the agreement is that it mentions of an initial cost of RM909,276,822.03, unlike other concessionaire agreements where the value of the project was silent. This is of great significant in two-fold; first, in the event that government decides to buy back the highway, the cost given will be referred to in calculating the compensation sum to the concession company. Second, in times of breach or dispute between the parties, that figures will be an indication of how much the damages are to be decided.

Can the government buy back Duke? Sure it can. The agreement provides that government may expropriate the concession if it is of “national interest” or “national security”. So now we know national security is not the special right of Internal Security Act (ISA). The government should consider invoking the “national interest” excuse to buy back Guthrie Corridor Expressway, the KESAS, LDP, KL-Karak, Grand Saga highways and etc… because it is outrageous that motorists in Klang Valley have to pay increased toll rates when there are in fact more traffic jams, poorer services and deterioration of roads on the highways.

Lim Lip Eng

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Dato Hakim, please pay up?

On 29.10.2008, former KL city mayor Dato’ Hakim b. Borhan promised to give RM300 to the 193 families at Kg Segambut Bahagia who were affected by floods. He also announced that city hall will build 3 flood retention ponds as the short term measure to avoid future flooding incident. Nothing has come through as of today and he has since “retired” last month. His successor, Datuk Ahmad Fuad, too has not replied to my letter dated 30.12.2008 inquiring into the progress of the ponds and the status of the money pledged. Yesterday, the frustrated flood victims had a protest, they give city hall until end of the month to deliver the goods. Failing which they will have more actions.

Lim Lip Eng

Friday, January 9, 2009

The ELITE Slaughterer

The ELITE (Expressway Lingkaran Tengah) highway was the last of the 22 concessionaire agreements made public at the Works Ministry library on Wednesday afternoon.

I went there yesterday to have a firsthand look at the long awaited agreement.

The compensation scheme by our government to the concession company for not to increase toll rate at year 2002 is a real slaughterer!

First, besides waiving all interest accrued from the original 100 millions loan, the concession company was granted another 300 millions interest free loan for the project. Second, the concession period to collect toll was extended twice from year 2018 to 2025 and again to 2030. Last but not least, the concession company is to collect levy throughout the concession period and to increase it by 10% every 3 year until its expiry on year 2030.

Of course, any feedback from the people on these agreements will be remained hooha and for academic arguments. The government should make public now the existing and upcoming toll concessionaire agreements, for instance the 90% completed DUKE (Duta-Ulu Klang Expressway) project, inviting constructive criticisms from the people so any wrong can be rectified before it’s too late.

Lim Lip Eng

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Who says Highway operators are privatised?

(Photo taken from Sin Chew Daily)

3 DAP MPs and I were at Works Ministry library yesterday morning 9am queuing up to view the toll concessionaire agreements, which were made public for the first time yesterday.

(Photo taken from The Star)

We were only allowed to read 1 agreement per appointment for 2 hours in the library. Frustrated but with no choice, I chose to view the Grand Saga (Cheras-Kajang highway) concessionaire agreement.

The starkest shock I gathered from the agreement is that the government has to provide a “Support Loan” of RM59 millions for the concession company who is already a 32-year concessionaire! And the terms and condition of the loan is provided in a separate “Support Loan Agreement” which is not declassified yet!

Simply interpretation is, on top of the parting of the goose that lays the golden eggs to Grand Saga, the government still has to lend RM59 millions to the private company for the project.

Isn’t this a fundamental breach of the concept of privatization?

Another lopsided clause provides that if Grand Saga violates the agreement, it is given 6 months to make good the breach and failing which, the government will still have to compensate Grand Saga before the agreement can be terminated.

Lim Lip Eng