Monday, January 14, 2019

Unconscionable for banks to seek refuge behind exclusion clauses

The Star
by Roger Tan 

Protection needed: It is time for the government to introduce a legislation or extend the protection currently given to consumers under  the Consumer Protection act, 1999  to all types of contracts, including financial dealings and transactions, involving, particularly, purchasers and borrowers of a housing  development.
In April 2008, a British couple living in the United Kingdom obtained a loan facility of RM715,487 to finance the purchase of their property in Malaysia. It was a term of the loan facility that the bank would make progressive payments to the developer against certificates of completion issued by the architect at each progress billing.

In March 2014, the developer sent a notice for a progressive payment to the bank, supported by an architect’s certificate.

The bank’s disbursement department then sent several internal emails to its branch to conduct site visit inspection on the property.

The branch did not do anything, and meanwhile, the due date for payment had also expired on March 25, 2014.

Neither did the bank notify the developer nor the couple that a site visit inspection was an additional condition precedent to drawdown.

The bank also did not request for any extension of time to make the payment pending the completion of the site visit.

On April 10, 2015, the developer terminated the sale and purchase agreement (SPA), after about one year from the issuance of the invoice.

The couple then sued the bank for breach of agreement and/or negligence.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Working together for a cleaner world

The Sunday Star 
by Roger Tan


Not wasting time: Pushing for sustainable waste management, the writer (centre) standing beside Ho, who is leading the organising committee of ISWA 2018.
Malaysians still have a lot to learn about solid waste management.

FROM Oct 22 to Oct 24, an important world event, which took place at Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, almost went unnoticed by the general public. 

The event was the congregation of the best in the waste management industry at the World Congress of the International Solid Waste Association (ISWA). Some 1700 over participants from 64 countries took part. 

Four years ago, the Waste Management Association of Malaysia (WMAM), the national member of the ISWA, led by its Chairman, Ho De Leong, had gone to great lengths to bid successfully for this most important annual event of ISWA to be held here. 

Regrettably, when it came to the big day, the Housing and Local Government Minister, Zuraida Kamaruddin was not able to officiate it due to her parliamentary obligations. She was represented by her deputy, Datuk Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah Raja Ahmad. However, the Secretary General of the ministry, Datuk Seri Mohammad Mentek, was most supportive by making an effort to be present at several sessions. The Secretary General of the Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry Datuk Dr Tan Yew Chong was equally supportive. And what is most gratifying to note is that 99% of the participants who were surveyed said they were most satisfied with our beautiful Malaysia being the destination for this year’s world congress. 

But then again, what is most alarming is Malaysians are generally ignorant about solid waste management. Most will immediately ask what is actually “solid waste”. In simple terms, it is any unwanted material or substance which is required to be disposed of, but does not include sewage, hazardous and radioactive wastes. The most common types are household and commercial solid wastes, that is, solid waste generated from a household or any commercial activity. 

Malaysians too have little knowledge about or regard for generation, collection, transportation, recovery, treatment and disposal of solid waste. This explains why our drains and rivers are always clogged up by solid waste, and every day workers have to clear the litter trapped in floating booms installed in rivers throughout the country in order to prevent and minimise pollution and flood. 

The situation is exacerbated by us generating more waste over the years. Three years ago, Malaysians generated about 19,000 tonnes of solid waste daily (TPD). Today, the figure has reached two-fold, 38,000 TPD. Out of this amount, waste separation and recycling rates only account for 24%. The remaining 76% goes to 160 landfills, of which about 15 of them are sanitary landfills. A sanitary landfill, unlike dumpsites, is a properly engineered landfill where solid waste is safely isolated from the environment with lining materials and designs to prevent leakage of leachate and contamination of groundwater and surrounding soils as well as making it possible for landfill gas to be captured and converted into a renewable energy resource. So, in developed countries, it is quite a common sight for golf courses and public parks to be built and landscaped on sanitary landfills that have been closed. 

Monday, July 2, 2018

Senior lawyer: Shake-up a welcome change for now

The Star
by Royce Tan

PETALING JAYA: The rationalisation proposal to make nine agencies independent entities and which reports directly to Parliament is seen as a welcome change by many. 

However, several concerns have been raised, especially in the event of an elective “dictatorship”.

Senior lawyer Datuk Roger Tan said if there was an absolute majority in Parliament one day, the issue of an Executive dominance would arise. 

He called for the Committee of Institutional Reforms to look into how to prevent this from happening. 

“It is a good move to preserve the independence of institutions, such as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and the Election Commission, but it may not necessarily be good if one day the Government has an absolute majority in Parliament. 

“We must have necessary safeguards against any abuse, especially by the Government of the day that controls Parliament. 

“If one day we have an elective dictatorship, the Government will then be able to take control of these institutions,” he said. 

Tan said that posts such as the MACC chief commissioner or the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) commissioners should be elected by a bipartisan committee, comprising MPs from both divides. 

He said there was also a need to amend the Acts of the respective commissions for them to be appointed by the committee. 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

The beginning of a new Malaysia

The Sunday Star
by Roger Tan

The new government’s priorities should be to restore the rule of law, redress miscarriages of justice and bring about reforms to our public institutions.

ON May 10, Malaysians woke up to a new country, signaling the dawn of a new era.

The unprecedented GE14 results have obviously proved to the world that we the citizens are the masters of our own ship – we decide when and whether to repair, sink and rebuild it, let alone rock it! We should also take pride in the smooth and peaceful transfer of power. 

But GE14 victors should not use it to exact revenge on the vanquished in that they have received their comeuppance or take delight in their political schadenfreude. Instead, the new government’s priorities should be to restore the rule of law, redress miscarriages of justice and bring about reforms to our institutions of government. 

What then is the rule of law? This concept of the rule of law is also the fourth guiding principle of our Rukun Negara. To make it simple for our readers, it is best summed up in the words of Dr Thomas Fuller, who wrote in 1733, “Be you never so high, the law is above you.” In other words, no one including the king could disregard the law with impunity. As the English jurist, Henry Bracton (c. 1210 – c. 1268) put it, “the king is under no man but under God and the law because the law makes the king”. 

In Malaysia, the ascendancy of the law is also enshrined in Article 8 of the Federal Constitution that all persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law. 

It is ironic that the reforms are now being pursued at great pace by the new Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who was also the old Prime Minister who had pursued Machiavellian policies and undermined some of the institutions during his previous rule. 

But he is now one person most loved by Malaysians and best suited to undertake this restoration, and rightly so because without him, whether one likes it or not, Pakatan Harapan would not have won GE14. 

What is most gratifying, however, is what Tun Mahathir said when he first took office, that the component parties in Pakatan are of equal standing, regardless of the number of seats respectively secured by them. This is unlike the component parties in Barisan Nasional who had to kowtow to the dominant party UMNO. 

Likewise, the Prime Minister’s relationship with his cabinet will be governed by the concept of primus inter pares or first among equals. 

It is hoped that Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who has turned 70 will be now wiser. My generation remembers the damage caused by his pursuit of ethnocentric policies and ‘crony capitalism’ when he was a deputy prime minister. 

It is also good for him to always remember that when he was at his lowest ebb when first arrested on September 20, 1998, it was those from the opposition such as Lim Kit Siang and Karpal Singh who had gone to his aid. Hence, it remains a prayer of all Malaysians that when he takes over the reins, he will be a benevolent leader pursuing inclusive policies, making every Malaysian feel that they have a sense of belonging in this great nation. After all, it is a Malaysian tsunami that swept Pakatan into power.