Bankers Pay Hikes And Bonuses During Covid-19

There has been much controversy lately over senior bank officers in Malaysia receiving pay hikes, bonuses and other incentives despite the Covid-19 pandemic and the socio-economic straits it has put our country in, including many rakyat experiencing pay cuts or losing their jobs.

It is not wrong for companies—including government-linked ones—to reward and incentivise their talent, even in times of economic difficulty or crisis.

The question we should be asking rather is whether these benefits are justifiable against the performance of these banks.

It is true most of them turned a healthy profit. But we must also not forget that Malaysia’s banking sector is highly regulated now.

Turning a profit is, logically, the bare minimum in terms of how we judge the “performance” of our bankers.

So, what did they do to deserve these magnificent sums?

Also, the fact that the banks were able to pay out benefits like bonuses is surely empirical proof that the 2020 MCO loan moratorium had a negligible impact on the profitability of the banks.

Indeed, the moratorium arguably also helped stave off a deluge of non-performing loans (NPL) from their balance sheets.

As such, it is very strange that the banks and the current administration, particularly the Ministry of Finance, was adamant that the blanket loan moratorium should have been ended.

Why end it if they could still pay out these bonuses?

Why not—especially for the GLC banks who also have a national mission—be more compassionate and not hurt the livelihoods of millions of the rakyat in the pursuit of additional marginal revenue, whose purpose seems to be to fund high bonuses for the selected few?

Again, these are questions that the Boards of these banks and the Ministry of Finance must answer.


Where Does The PM Stand In Rais Yatim’s Attack On Undi18?

The President of the Dewan Negara Tan Sri Rais Yatim has been spending his downtime scraping the bottom of the barrel to come up with frankly laughable excuses over why Malaysia’s voting age should not be lowered to 18.

The so-called “Undi 18” bill to amend the Constitution had been passed by both Houses of Parliament in 2019 via a bipartisan vote and gazetted, although the lowering of the voting age and automatic voter registration will reportedly only be implemented from July 2021.

In his latest broadside, Rais has claimed that the reforms are impractical because it supposedly will take up too much time and resources.

However, the Election Commission (EC) has stated that it is confident it will be able to carry out the processes involved. As such, Rais should not cast doubt or aspersions on the competence of the EC.

He should also realise that the bill that enabled the changes was passed virtually unanimously, including by members of his own party, particularly the MP who is currently the Prime Minister.

It is increasingly clear that Rais, for whatever reason, is simply against 18-year-olds having the vote and appears to be trying to build up a case for the government to not go along with it.

If so, he should have the decency to come out and say so and face the youth of Malaysia who he is attempting to disenfranchise. If he will not do so, he should respect the Constitution as well as the parliamentary process and cease his Quixotic attempts to undermine the lowering of the voting age.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin (who as noted, voted for the amendment) should clarify where he stands on Rais’ attacks on the Undi 18 reforms. I also challenge him to commit to not call for elections until the automatic voter registration process is completed and 18-year-old Malaysians are eligible to vote.

I also note reports that as many as 6 states have yet to amend their state Constitutions to lower the voting age for their legislatures to 18.

This should be done as soon as possible to support the strengthening of democracy in Malaysia—and hence, yet another reason for the Prime Minister to expedite the lifting of the Emergency to facilitate this.

Young Malaysians, especially the 18-year-old cohort, should follow as well as judge the actions of these politicians very carefully, to question whether our country’s democracy is in safe hands and vote accordingly—when they are able to.


Federal Territory Day

Today, we celebrate Federal Territory Day. Today, we celebrate Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya—not only these very special cities but also the diverse, hardworking and virtuous people who make them come alive.
This year’s celebrations unfortunately take place during the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the on-going Movement Control Order (MCO) and Emergency.
The Prime Minister has spoken and in his remarks outlined the various initiatives his government has undertaken to assist the people of the Federal Territories.
Unfortunately, the fact is that his government’s inadequate, flip-flopping response to both the public health and socio-economic crises triggered by the pandemic has negated whatever good the initiatives he has introduced may do.
Indeed, the lives of Malaysians in the Federal Territories and other urban areas in key sectors—including employment, education, infrastructure, the environment and public safety—leave much to be desired, especially for the B40s and M40s.
The best “gift” the current government can give Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya this Federal Territory Day is to commit to work more closely with its elected MPs and civil society, to listen and implement the mountains of sensible advice given in good faith, including on how to bring the pandemic under control.
This cannot take place while Parliament is not sitting, nor when members of his administration seem determined to take an adversarial relationship with a great many of the FT MPs.
The voices of the people of the FT appear to be ignored, including the most vulnerable and disadvantaged such as the young, single parents, the homeless, mentally ill and migrant workers.
The FT needs change desperately. There is no use talking about all the aid given when the MCO—which has yet to show positive results despite several weeks—hurts livelihoods without helping to bring down the soaring infections. There is still time to reverse the perilous course we are still on.
In the longer term, self-governance ought to be returned to Kuala Lumpur, in the form of restoring local council elections in the city. The best way to ensure its continued development as a world-class city will be to allow Kuala Lumpur to be governed in the interest of its residents.
The recent Court of Appeal judgement in the Taman Rimba Kiara case is proof that the Federal Government does not always know best when it comes to the lives of our great cities.
In Setiawangsa, we have the Taman Tiara Titiwangsa case, where the residents have won at the Court of Appeal level.
The Federal Territories can definitely emerge as international hubs that draw people from all over the world. But it must first be able to take care of its own people—to keep them healthy, safe and employed and that requires real leadership that has the people at its heart.
Kuala Lumpur and the Federal Territories are special cities. And their people are special. With wisdom, cooperation and genuine leadership, there’s no reason why it will not be able to recover and eventually, thrive.

Notice Of Demand From Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan In Relation To Taman Tiara Titiwangsa

I received a Notice of Demand from Yayasan Wilayah Persekutuan (YWP) dated 4 December 2020 through their law firm, Shahul Hamidi & Haziq.

The Notice is with regards to a press conference held in Parliament on 18 November 2020, in response to the Report of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) entitled “Penjualan Tanah Milik Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL), Kementerian Wilayah Persekutuan (KWP)”.

Amongst other demands, YWP is requesting RM10 million as compensation for statements I made on the above matter.

In pages 19-20 of the Report, PAC concluded that the Federal Territories Minister and the Mayor of Kuala Lumpur are exposed in a potential position of conflict of interest. This is because by virtue of their posts as the Federal Territories Minister and the Mayor of Kuala Lumpur, they both automatically hold the positions of Chairperson and Trustee of YWP respectively.

The PAC proposed that YWP’s structure be looked into and that the entity be reconstituted as a statutory body for it to be accountable to the government.

The PAC Report was based on proceedings held in 2019, when YB Dato’ Dr Noraini Ahmad (Parit Sulong) was the Chair of PAC. She is currently Minister of Higher Education and UMNO Wanita Chief.

YWP has an ongoing project in my constituency in Taman Tiara Titiwangsa. I have worked with the Taman Tiara Titiwangsa Residents Association prior to the 2018 elections, which continued during the Pakatan Harapan era until today.

The residents have been opposing the project.

For the record, the residents have won the case on the project against DBKL at the High Court and Court of Appeal.

YWP has similarly issued notices to four other MPs YB Wong Kah Who (current PAC Chairperson and Ipoh Timur MP), YB Tan Kok Wai (Cheras), YB Hannah Yeoh (Segambut), YB Lim Lip Eng (Kepong) as well as myself for our press statements where we were merely commenting on conclusions and recommendations made on the PAC Report.

On 26 December 2020, our lawyer, Syahredzan Johan, replied to YWP’s lawyers.

Why has YWP not taken any action against other members of the PAC including Noraini Ahmad who is both a fellow Cabinet minister and UMNO leader like Federal Territories Minister and YWP Chairperson YB Tan Sri Annuar Musa?

I will not be intimidated by their action and will continue to exercise my duties as a legislator and stand up for my constituents.


All Parties Have Stated Their Positions , Focus Should Be On The Rakyat

The Opposition should not be focused on positions but on defending the interests of the rakyat in these difficult times.

We should not be trying to relitigate the past but focused on the future. Still, it cannot be denied that Pakatan Harapan’s victory in the 2018 General Elections was not the sole work of any one individual or party.

It was a collective effort, borne by the sacrifices of many, which came to fruition because of the support of the people of Malaysia.

The rakyat backed us because of our Buku Harapan manifesto as well as our pledge that a transition of power would take place. That is what defeated UMNO-Barisan Nasional. That is why KEADILAN won 47 seats, DAP 42, BERSATU 13, AMANAH 11 and our ally WARISAN 8 in that election.

Again, we should not be preoccupied with questions about who our next Prime Ministerial candidate should be. Each party, including Pakatan Harapan has stated its position. The Leader of the Opposition in Parliament has also been named. These facts should be respected.

The crucial thing is for the parties in Opposition to concentrate on working to hold the government accountable for its actions as well as to ensure that there are wise policies in place to facilitate an economic recovery.

We were sent to Parliament to make sure that Malaysians have the jobs, education, aid and opportunities they deserve.


The Way Forward For Malaysian Policing

By Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, Setiawangsa MP.

Cities across the United States are continuing to seethe with mass protests over the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed African American man by police in Minneapolis, Minnesota. This also follows a string of other killings of African Americans such as Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and others.

These protests are just the latest eruption against America’s systemic racial and socio-economic injustice as well as police brutality.

Matters have been exacerbated by the outright racism and gross incompetence of their President, Donald Trump.

The US, which prides itself in lecturing other countries about freedom, needs to take a good, hard look at itself.

It has no right to pontificate while its ethnic minorities, indigenous citizens, disadvantaged and vulnerable peoples, peaceful protestors and refugees seeking succour in its shores are brutalised by its so-called law enforcement agencies.

This is above and beyond the horrific suffering the foreign policies undertaken by its predatory elite have caused in Palestine and other countries.

Many Malaysians have been angered by the events that led to the George Floyd protests—and rightfully so.

It been pointed out—also correctly—that our own human rights record, especially in relation to policing—is likewise far from ideal.

It is hypocritical for us to condemn what is going on in America, while ignoring our own shortcomings.

Police cannot function effectively without the trust and confidence of the communities they serve. It is a two-way street.

Victims of police brutality and abuse can be found across all ethnic groups, such as the cases of N Dharmendran and Aminulrasyid Amzah.

Even one death—whatever the race or faith of the victims—is too many.

Any wrongdoing, abuse or malpractice by authorities must be exposed, brought to justice and corrected immediately if the rule of law is to have any credibility in our country.

Yes, Malaysia is—thankfully—very different from America. But what is going on there right now is a warning to Malaysia of what could happen if we keep ignoring or kicking the can of these problems down the road.

The Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) deserves the respect and support of all our people.

Their personnel have served honourably and rendered sacrifices in all major national crises our country has faced—including during the on-going Covid-19 novel coronavirus pandemic and the Movement Control Order (MCO) period.

Making our police more professional, as well as responsive to human rights is in everyone’s interest—especially the PDRM’s personnel.

In 2004 Tun Mohamed Dzaiddin Haji Abdullah, the former Chief Justice of Malaysia was appointed by the Yang Dipertuan Agong to chair the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operation and Management of the Royal Malaysian Police.

The Commission’s findings, which became known as the “Tun Dzaiddin Report”, was published a year later with more than 600 pages and 125 suggestions to make the PDRM more people-centric.

The report’s Strategic Objective argued that Malaysia’s police:

“…must continue to uphold the law, maintain law and order and combat crime, but must pursue these ends in compliance with human rights, restricting and infringing upon them only when necessary and permissible in law. PDRM must see itself more as a ‘service’ than as a ‘force’ and the guardian of the people’s rights though it will need to retain some of its paramilitary capabilities and characteristics. Finally, PDRM must be more transparent and accountable, especially to independent bodies established by the government and to the people.”

The report talks about democratising the police force to engage all stakeholders in society, thereby capturing the PDRM spirit of “polis dan masyarakat berpisah tiada”. It also talks of a dignified police service, that acts for the national good, not narrow partisan interests and enjoying better working and living conditions.

This brings me to the proposed Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC) which was one of the 125 suggestions of the Tun Dzaiddin Report.

This proposal—for better or for worse—became the main point of debate arising from the Commission and its Report.

14 years later, a Bill to create it up was finally tabled by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government in 2019.

While the Second Reading was postponed in December that year, it was still a step in the right direction.

All stakeholders—including the leadership of the PDRM—have had opportunities to give feedback on it.

Certainly, existing mechanisms like the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) are inadequate in relation to the PDRM. The EAIC’s shortcomings are well known, including the fact that it lacks the ability to independently sanction misconduct.

Any coalition that runs the government – Perikatan Nasional, Muafakat Nasional or PH Plus must take up the IPCMC Bill. This is yet another piece of urgent parliamentary business that it is being neglected.

My colleagues and I will certainly rigorously debate the Bill when it comes before us in Parliament to ensure that the reasonable interests of all stakeholders are protected.

All feedback can be considered. For instance, new names can be considered if “IPCMC” has become too divisive or if it makes the police and their supporters feel overly defensive.

But the key is that the Bill should be passed and the body that the Tun Dzaiddin Report called for comes to life as soon as possible—in letter and spirit.

But improving policing in Malaysia cannot just end with the setting up of the IPCMC.

After all, it was just one of the 125 recommendations of the Tun Dzaiddin Report. A PDRM that is able to keep Malaysians safe, as well as free from corruption and other abuses will require the recommendations of the Report to be implemented in full—including its suggestions regarding recruitment, training, equipping and the improvement of the welfare of personnel.

As the Report noted:

“The Commission is of the view that human resources should be significantly increased in certain sections of PDRM, such as in CID and in the Commercial Crime Investigation Department…The Commission also notes that modern policing is increasingly becoming more complex and sophisticated, requiring diverse professional competencies that are not part of conventional police competencies.”

And that:

“The Commission considers remuneration for PDRM personnel as well as promotion prospects relatively satisfactory because they are comparable to the situation in the Malaysian Armed Forces and the general public service. The Commission however recommends a special allowance for all police personnel who are posted to urban areas where the cost of living is higher.”


“…PDRM will need to implement comprehensive and integrated programmes for the effective utilisation of lCT solutions in police operations. Similar IT methods and means are required with respect to asset management including transportation to ensure that available resources are adequate and sustainable. These are vital factors in determining the effectiveness and efficiency of PDRM.”


“…one of the major problems afflicting PDRM is inadequate housing and the poor condition of its housing and work premises, although there are modern and comfortable structures as well…The poor living and working conditions of a significant portion of police personnel cannot but have a negative impact on their morale and self-esteem. The condition also affects their performance. Equally important, the poor condition of a number of police stations, administrative offices and training institutions as well as inadequate facilities create a negative impression of the police among the public. The situation aggravates public perceptions of poor police efficiency and service. This unsatisfactory state of affairs cannot be allowed to continue.”

Today, now 15 years after the Tun Dzaiddin Report, Malaysia’s policemen and women are still facing these issues.

Pushing to implement the recommendations of the Tun Dzaiddin Report holistically would help to win over many of those who are resistant to transformation in the police service to make it equipped to face 21st Century Malaysia.

The George Floyd protests have revived global debates about the role and nature of policing.

Clearly change is needed, including in Malaysia.

One gets a sense that not only the public and civil society, but also politicians and the police themselves understand this.

With political will—there is no reason why this cannot be a positive change for stakeholders across the board.