Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Rail frustration at delay

Wednesday July 30, 2008 THESTAR


THOUSANDS of LRT users reached their destinations late yesterday when services on the Kelana Jaya LRT Line were disrupted from 6am to 3.30pm.

Fortunately, the inconvenience was reduced when Rapid KL deployed 22 buses to provide an alternative mode of transport to the commuters at the affected stations. The buses mainly went to KLCC.

According to LRT operator RapidKL, the line encountered track system problems between the Gombak and Setiawangsa stations. The technical glitches caused the fail-safe safety feature to be activated, which then disabled the automated driving feature.

During the disruption period, the trains were manually driven between the Gombak and Setiawangsa stations by RapidKL employees.

Waiting in line: The passengers at Kl Sentral rushing into the LRT after waiting longer than usual at the station.

The trains were also driven at a slower speed to ensure public safety. As a result, the speed of LRT trains throughout the Kelana Jaya Line was reduced.

Rangkaian Pengangkutan Integrasi Deras Sdn Bhd (RapidKL) communications general manager Ebi Azly Abdullah said in a fully-automated system, the tolerance level of the fail-safe feature was tight and any disruption would cause the system to stop.

“The trains at the affected stretches would be driven manually with adherence to a stringent set of operating procedures.” he said.

At the same time, RapidKL took several measures to reduce the level of inconvenience faced by the commuters, including the deployment of 22 buses with extended routes at the affected stations.

All aboard: People rushing in and out of the LRT in hopes of getting to their destination in time.

However, commuters still expressed their frustrations.

“I didn’t know about the delay in the service or I would have used another form of transport to get to college,” said Belinda Lim, 19.

Lim, who is a student at Tunku Abdul Rahman College was late for class as a result of waiting for the next train that would take her to the Wangsa Maju station.

“I’m so nervous now because I’m late, I wish they told us at the counter about the delay,” she said.

French tourist Lesauvage Oliver was also unhappy that the personnel at the counter failed to inform them of the delay.

Checking up:
RapidKl staff on board the trains to ensure the safety of the passengers.

“We only heard of the delay after we bought the tickets. If we had known earlier, we would have opted for another mode of transportation to Batu Caves,” Oliver said.

Oliver also mentioned that the information provided over the intercom was insufficient and passengers were clueless about the interruptions.

Another passenger, who declined to be named, said she had opted for a taxi after she heard the announcement at 6.45am.

“I was at the Wangsa Maju LRT station and I quickly ran down for a cab but the taxi drivers refused to take me because of the traffic jam,” she said.

There were frequent public announcements over the PA system at the stations and in the trains to update commuters on the delays.

The Ampang Line of the LRT network was not affected by the disruption and service was operating as normal.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Open letter to PM on Scomi

I've heard about SCOMI, but wasn't sure of what are the company's core activities. It was yesterday when I talked to a friend that I found out he was in Penang during the bidding phase of the Penang Monorail to work out the estimates, and the project was eventually given to Malaysian Resources Corporation Bhd (MRCB) with Scomi being part of it. I did a search on Scomi and found this interesting letter:

Sulaiman Rejab | Aug 15, 06 3:49pm

Dear Mr Prime Minister,

I used to refer to you as ‘Pak Lah’ but I don't think I want to do that anymore because I think you lost all your endearing qualities the moment you took over as prime minister. My friends and I (all of whom wish that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was still our prime minister) deliberately didn't want watch you on the ‘Bersemuka dengan Perdana Menteri’ programme over TV3 last week.

But I almost jumped out of my skin the next day when I read all about it in the newspapers, especially the part about you claiming that your son Kamaluddin had to seek business opportunities overseas because he couldn't get projects here in Malaysia.

Well, explain these Mr Prime Minister:

1. In March, The Malay Mail reported that KTM had in 2005 awarded a five-year RM50 million contract to Scomi Group ‘to overhaul and maintain’ as many as 1,000 wagons.

2. Also in March, Business Times reported that Scomi Group was going to submit a bid for a RM120 million contract ‘to make body parts for about 400 buses for state-owned Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd’.

3. Then in April, The Edge reported that Scomi Engineering Bhd is acquiring a 51% stake in MTrans Transportation Systems Sdn Bhd for RM30 million to provide it a platform to be a key player in urban transportation.

Scomi Engineering had on April 28 signed an agreement with Kiara Kilau Sdn Bhd, which owns 100% stake in MTrans, to acquire the 51% stake. MTrans owns bus manufacturer MTRans Bus Sdn Bhd and MTRans Technology Bhd, which specialises in monorail systems and technology. This is, of course, for the Penang monorail project.

So the five-time hike in petroleum prices over the last year on the pretext of improving public transportation is certainly benefitting some parties - your son's Scomi Engineering, to be specific.

What have you done to improve the public transportation in Kuala Lumpur since then? The LRT is still madly congested and the city buses are still breaking down in the middle of already congested roads.

4. Recently, Scomi Marine Bhd received a letter of intent from TNB Fuel Services Sdn Bhd for a coal shipment contract for three years from Oct 1, with an option to extend for another two years, the company said. Scomi Marine announced to Bursa Malaysia on April 14 that under the contract, it would be required to transport 500,000 tonnes (with 20% variation) of coal from Australia, Indonesia and South Africa yearly.

It said TNB Fuel Services would determine the actual quantity of coal to be transported and from which country upon finalisation of the contract, The Edge reported.

5. Also recently, Scomi Group Bhd, an oil services company, won a contract from Petronas Carigali (Turkmenistan) Sdn Bhd to provide drilling fluids and other services for exploration works in Block 1, offshore Turkmenistan.

In a statement issued by Scomi which was published by Business Times, Scomi said the contract would contribute about RM57 million a year to its coffers.

With all these projects, and more to come under your brilliantly devised Ninth Malaysia Plan, why does Kamaluddin have to go overseas to secure projects? Well, I know that Turkmenistan is in central Asia, but the contract was secured here in Kuala Lumpur from Petronas.

All these reek of a scandal in you humble abode, don't you think, Mr Prime Minister?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Penang launches ePerolehan for open bidding of projects

Thursday July 17, 2008 MYT 4:46:18 PM THESTAR

GEORGE TOWN: The state government has launched the ePerolehan system to ensure transparency in the tender awarding process.
The system is equipped with an eBidding site for interested contractors to place their bids and eBantahan for the public to voice objections.
"We want to award projects using computer cables, not political cables. Penang is the first to produce such an application to enhance efficiency, save cost, reduce red tape and reduce risks in decision-making," Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said Thursday when launching the system at Dome Komtar here.
"This is in line with our CAT (competence, accountability and transparency) policy," he said, adding that RM360,985 was spent on developing the system which can be accessed at
Lim said the tender selection process and quotation could be made through the normal channels via the technical evaluation committee, the procurement board and quotation committee.
"Through eBantahan, a two-week grace period is given for the public to raise objections. If there are no objections, we will award the tender.
"eBantahan provides a platform to give out tenders openly, quelling public doubts and negative perceptions as encountered by the previous administration."
Lim called on all contractors to register online, adding transactions could be made online.
Registration fees would be used to cover the cost, management and maintenance of the system, he added.
Lim said last year, the state government awarded projects worth RM99mil encompassing 4,041 indent jobs and 14,353 local orders.
"Up to July 15, the state government had approved projects worth RM27,687,238.10 for 1,554 indent jobs and 5,689 local orders," he said.
He urged other relevant authorities including the Penang Water Supply Corporation, the Penang Development Corporation and the local councils to implement a similar system to promote CAT.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

July 16, 2008

Malaysia's Anwar likely to be charged: lawyer
The arrest was made as Mr Anwar was returning home from the administrative capital of Putrajaya. -- PHOTO: THE STAR
View more photos
KUALA LUMPUR - MALAYSIAN opposition figure Anwar Ibrahim is likely to be charged with sodomy, one of his lawyers said on Wednesday, as his supporters warned of massive street protests that could further alarm foreign investors.
Painting Mr Anwar's arrest as a political conspiracy, lawyer William Leong said the authorities had acted extraordinarily by arresting Anwar instead of allowing him to voluntarily assist police with their investigations.
'I would expect them to charge him, because they have taken extraordinary lengths,' Mr Leong said.
'If it had been an ordinary investigation, then they should have allowed him to go to the police headquarters as has been agreed and they should have allowed him to take his statement.'
The former deputy premier had agreed to meet investigators on Wednesday in connection with a sodomy complaint lodged by a former aide but was arrested before he went to the police.
Sodomy is a crime punishable by up to 20 years in prison in mainly Muslim Malaysia and the court may grant bail at its discretion.

Mr Anwar, who is leading a charge by the opposition to seize power by September, is fighting the accusation, in a replay of events a decade ago when he was jailed for sodomy and corruption.
Federal criminal investigation chief Bakri Zinin confirmed that Mr Anwar had been arrested, adding that he was helping in investigations in a sodomy case.
'We would like to give an assurance to all the relevant parties that Anwar Ibrahim is safe in police custody,' he said.
Mr Sankara Nair, another Anwar lawyer, said police could detain Mr Anwar for up to 24 hours, after which they would have to obtain a remand order from the court to allow further detention for up to 14 days without charging him.

The authorities sealed off roads to the police headquarters where Mr Anwar had been taken, while a water cannon was on standby, as the authorities braced for a possible repeat of 1998 protests when Mr Anwar's arrest brought tens of thousands onto the streets.
About 400 Anwar supporters outside the police headquarters carried banners demanding his release and the arrest of deputy premier Najib Razak, while police in riot gear warned the crowd to disperse or face arrest.
'Don't provoke the people ... why are police trying to test the people's patience?' Azmin Ali, a leader of Anwar's People Justice Party, said. 'I am giving a very strong reminder to the police, don't provoke us.' -- REUTERS


The arrest is likely to spark more tremors in financial markets, which have groaned under the weight of a protracted political drama that includes allegations of sex and murder against a senior government politician. 'Investors will probably shy away for a while until these things settle,' said Mr Wee Kim Hong, head of research at M&A Securities. 'I don't think anybody will want to commit to a long position for now.' Malaysia's ringgit fell to 3.2250 to the dollar from 3.2160 on Tuesday. Shares ended down 0.7 per cent. Mr Anwar was sacked as deputy prime minister in 1998 and later jailed for corruption and sodomy after leading street protests against then premier Mahathir Mohamad's government during the Asian financial crisis. The supreme court overturned the sodomy conviction six years later. Other opposition leaders rallied behind Mr Anwar. 'We will still work together very well,' said Nasharudin Mat Isa, a leader of Parti Islam se-Malaysia (PAS). 'This is going to even strengthen the coalition. This issue is going to create a new kind of movement among the public.' Anwar had earlier on Wednesday appealed for his supporters to remain calm if he was arrested. -- REUTERS