Tuesday, June 7, 2011

‘I want my flat or I’ll stay here till I die’

The two longhouse residents who had their homes demolished vow to stay near the rubble until developer delivers on pledge
PETALING JAYA: The two residents of PJS 1 longhouses, whose homes were demolished last Friday, vowed to stay put at the site until a promise made to them by the developer is honoured.

V Mahalingam, a 56-year-old disabled man and A Pushparani are living in a makeshift tent where their homes once stood pledged to stay put until Peter Brickworks provides them the low cost flat it promised eight years ago.

“I want my flat. If not I will stay here until I die,” said Mahalingam, a 56-year old disabled. “Life as a disabled is hard enough and Peter Brickworks has made it worse for me. They must answer for the misery I’m going through.”

After nearly a week-long tussle with the residents, Petaling Jaya City Hall (MBPJ) and the state government, Peter Brickworks ignored numerous pleas and demolished their homes on June 3.
Mahalingam and Pushparani received eviction orders from the developer on May 23 and given a seven-day deadline to make way for a condominium project.

The eviction was postponed after MBPJ issued a stop-work order against Peter Brickworks in an attempt to compel the developer to find an amicable solution with the residents.

Mahalingam said today that the MBPJ had offered him a low cost flat at Lembah Subang on June 1 but he rejected the offer because it was a temporary solution to his predicament.

“Lembah Subang is too far away. I receive medications from a nearby medical facility. How am I to travel all the way from there to PJS 1 if I take up the unit there?”asked Mahalingam.

As both he and his wife S Tamilchelvi were not working, Mahalingam said he relied a lot on assistance from friends and well-wishers who live near PJS 1. Tamilchelvi, 53, is partially blind.

“I also receive monthly provisions from a nearby spiritual organisation. Who will help me in Lembah Subang?” asked Mahalingam, who gets a monthly RM110 from the Welfare Department.

Mahalingam said he had no other place to go. “We have a son but we lost contact after he got married four years ago,” said Mahalingam who was reluctant to delve into the matter.

Pushparani, 44, lamented that the developer went ahead with the demolition despite promising not to at a meeting with Selangor state exco Iskandar Abdul Samad on June 2.

“We can only hope that the state government will help us now,” said a teary Pushparani.

‘We fear for our safety’

Pushparani, who ekes out living ferrying children to school by a mini van to make ends meet said she had to send her six children to stay with friends.

“My husband V Balakrishnan and I now camp out in the makeshift tent or in our van,” said Pushparani.

She added that she also feared for her safety as several unidentified men were lurking around the area where their homes once stood.

“I hold Peter Brickworks responsible should anything untoward happen to us,” said Pushparani.

Residents action committee chairman, M Sugumaran, said he received a text message from Iskandar this morning saying the state government would seize the land from Peter Brickworks.

During a walkabout this morning, FMT team saw two individuals taking pictures of the makeshift tent of the two families and the FMT journalists.

Sugumaran said that one of them was the general manager of Peter Brickworks while the other was the project manager of the condominium project.

Sugumaran urged the state government to speedily provide alternative housing for the residents, especially for Mahalingam.

“I also hope the state assemblyman (Haniza Talha) and the MP for Petaling Jaya Selatan Hee Loy Sean will continue with their effort to assist the residents,” said Sugumaran.

In a latest development, Sugumaran said several men started baricading the area with wire fencing around the demolished area at about 2pm.

Meanwhile, Iskandar, who is in charge of the state housing portfolio, said that the state would acquire the three plots of land at the site because of Peter Brickworks’ defiance.

“The mentri besar (Abdul Khalid Ibrahim) had instructed state secretary Khusrin Munawi to acquire the plots under state laws on Friday,” said Iskandar.

However, Iskandar could not confirm whether the notice has been issued to the developer.

Another example of how the UMNOPutra’s operate behind the scenes.

Haris Onn Hussein is well connected – his cousin is the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak, and his brother is Home Affairs Minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, who is expected in Canberra soon to sign the deal under which Australia will transfer 800 asylum seekers to Malaysia and accept 4000 refugees in return.
By Richard Baker and Nick McKenzie, The Age.Melbourne
THE Reserve Bank firm Securency hired a company owned by a close relative of Malaysia’s Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister – the two men with whom the Gillard government is negotiating to swap asylum seekers – to help win banknote contracts.
The revelation comes amid growing sensitivity within the federal government about the Australian Federal Police investigation of Securency and the potential for Australia’s international relations to be harmed if foreign officials allegedly linked to the RBA firm’s bribes are named.
The Age has learned that Securency signed Kuala Lumpur firm Liberal Technology as its Malaysian agent in 2009. The biggest individual shareholder in Liberal Technology is businessman Haris Onn Hussein.
Haris Onn Hussein is well connected – his cousin is the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak, and his brother is Home Affairs Minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein, who is expected in Canberra soon to sign the deal under which Australia will transfer 800 asylum seekers to Malaysia and accept 4000 refugees in return.
Securency hired Haris Onn Hussein in the hope he would offer it access to, and influence over, Malaysia’s top politicians.
It is a common in parts of Asia for the relatives of politicians to be hired by foreign companies as agents.
The Age understands that some officials in the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and other agencies are keen for the AFP not to identify certain foreign dignitaries or their relatives who are alleged to be linked to Securency in order to protect Australia’s broader overseas interests.
Securency, half-owned and supervised by the Reserve Bank, has for two years been investigated by the AFP and the British Serious Fraud Office for allegedly bribing public officials in Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia and Nigeria to win banknote supply contracts.
Under Australian law, it is a criminal offence for a company or individual to pay, or offer a benefit to, a foreign government official or their close relatives to obtain a business advantage.
Australia is yet to prosecute a foreign bribery case, but Securency – which has four RBA-appointed directors on its board – may be the first, given the two-year AFP investigation and the arrest and questioning of some employees and agents last year. No charges have yet been laid.
Haris Onn Hussein and Hishammuddin Tun Hussein are political royalty in Malaysia. Their father, the late Tun Hussein Onn, was Malaysia’s prime minister between 1976 and 1981. He was succeeded as prime minister by Mahathir Mohamad. Their grandfather, Dato Onn Jaafar, was the founder of Malaysia’s ruling United Malays National Organisation political party.
Hishammuddin Tun Hussein is vice president of UMNO.
Haris Onn Hussein owns shares in or sits on the board of several companies that have benefited from Malaysian government concessions.
In 2006, the Malaysian finance ministry told cigarette and alcohol manufacturers that they would need to buy security labels provided by Haris Onn Hussein’s Liberal Technology to legally sell their products. Haris Onn Hussein is also associated with a company given a 34-year concession to operate a major Malaysian toll road.
Under Securency’s corporate structure, its board should have been informed and approved of Mr Haris Onn’s company being signed as an agent.
The Age can also reveal Securency engaged Malaysian state MP and a former UMNO branch treasurer, Dato Abdullah Hasnan Kamaruddin, as another agent. Mr Kamaruddin was the UNMO party treasurer in Dr Mahathir’s home state of Kedah, a position that gave him substantial influence.
Despite engaging the extremely well-connected Liberal Technology as agent in 2009, Securency is believed not to have won any further banknote supply contracts.
The company won its last major Malaysian contract in 2004. At that time, Mr Razak was the country’s defence minister and Hishammuddin Tun Hussein the education minister. It also won a smaller contract in 1998.
The Age is not suggesting Mr Razak nor Hishammuddin Tun Hussein were involved in Securency’s deals.
The company’s 1998 and 2004 contracts involved another Malaysian agent, businessman, arms broker and former UMNO official, Abdul Kayum Syed Ahmad.
He has since been arrested and questioned by Malaysia’s Anti-Corruption Commission over the Securency deals and his use of commissions paid by the RBA firms.
The AFP began investigating Securency in May 2009 after The Age revealed its payment of tens-of-millions-of-dollars in commissions to politically connected middlemen to win contracts in Nigeria, Vietnam and India.
The company wired millions of dollars into tax haven bank accounts in an effort to conceal the beneficiaries of its payments in an apparent breach of the RBA’s rules.
The AFP and Britain’s Serious Fraud Office have conducted several raids on the offices of Securency and its British half-owner, Innovia Films. Properties owned by serving and former executives and agents have been raided and several arrests made. No charges have been laid yet.
Securency’s managing director, Myles Curtis, and chief financial officer, John Ellery, were forced out of the company in March last year. Securency’s deputy chairman, English businessman Bill Lowther, resigned in October following his arrest by the Serious Fraud Office.
RBA governor Glenn Stevens has defended his bank’s appointees who have chaired and sat on the Securency board since 1996, telling a federal parliamentary committee in November that he had not seen any evidence to suggest they had acted inappropriately.
The RBA plans to sell Securency.

Dato’ Haris Onn Bin Tun Hussein
is also a Director of Scomi Berhad
Dato’ Haris Onn, a Malaysian, is an Independent Non-Executive Drector of the Company and was appointed to the Board on 5 April 2006.  Dato’ Haris Onn graduated from Cambridge University, United Kingdom, with a Bachelor of Art Degree in Economics. 
Dato’ Haris Onn started his working career with Touche Ross & Co, London, an accounting firm, in 1989.  In 1992, Dato’ Haris Onn returned to Malaysia to work with D & C Sakura Merchant Bankers Berhad (now known as RHB Investment Bank Berhad) and he subsequently joined Rohas Sdn Bhd as the General Manager.  Dato’ Haris Onn then became a director of Bell & Order Berhad (now known as Scomi Engineering Bhd) in 1996.  Currently Dato’ Haris Onn is the Managing Director of Konsortium Lebuhraya Utara-Timur KL Sdn Bhd and the Chairman of Lembah Sari Sdn Bhd (formerly known as Liberal Technology Sdn Bhd).  Other Malaysian public company in which he is a director is Shangri-La Hotels (Malaysia) Berhad. 
Dato’ Haris Onn is a member of Audit and Risk Management Committee of the Board.