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Rafik Hariri UN-Habitat award for Dr Mahathir

By Cindi Loo of The Sun
PETALING JAYA (July 8, 2012): Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has been named as recipient of the 2012 Rafik Hariri UN-Habitat Memorial Award as a recognition of his leadership, statesmanship and good governance.

He was selected out of 13 other nominations from Dubai, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, United States, Canada, El Salvador, Nicaragua, India, Bangladesh, UK, Japan and the Philippines by the award steering committee on June 29.

He will be honoured in an award ceremony in New York on Sept 28.

"The per capita income in Malaysia during his time increased eight times. The model of thinking to get out of problems and crisis was almost the same as that of prime minister Rafik Hariri," said International Jury chairman Mervat Tallawy in a press statement on the UN-Habitat website.

The statement noted that during Mahathir's time in office, Malaysia underwent rapid modernisation and economic progress. He was a dominant political figure and won five consecutive general elections, and remains politically active after retirement.

"Malaysia was on the way to considerable economic progress during Mahathir's time. It is recognised that he significantly influenced other developing countries to show how it is possible to develop rapidly in a very short time," said UN-Habitat scientific adviser Professor Banji Oyelaran-Oyeyinka.
The Rafik Hariri UN-Habitat Memorial Award was jointly established with the Rafik Hariri Foundation and UN-Habitat in March 2009 in memory of the late Lebanese prime minister.

It is given to individuals, organisations or institutions anywhere in the world for significant accomplishments in the areas of: leadership, statesmanship and good governance, construction and benevolent activities in fighting urban poverty, and the implementation of the Habitat Agenda.

The award is presented biennially and the prize consists of a cash award of US$200,000, a trophy and a certificate. 

The previous winner of the award was Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.


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    In September last year, four directors of Pembangunan Perlancongan Nasional Sdn Bhd (Pempena) Datuk Yip Kum Fook (MCA GOMBAK, who is BAD name in Buddhist) Datuk Donald Lim Siang Chai, Syed Abdul Rahman and Jaigani Jaafar – were served with letters of demand for payment of more than RM12.4 million owed by the company.
    The letters from lawyer Joginder Singh, who was acting for Kah Bintang Auto Sdn Bhd were sent by registered post. On receiving the letter, one of them, Lim, the former deputy toursim minister and current deputy finance minister, contacted the CEO of Pempena and asked him to act on the demand.
    For a good eight months, nothing happened. No effort was made to contact the motor company or negotiate a settlement. Failing to get a response, Kah Bintang published notice of an intended winding up petition in two national newspapers on May 28. The petition was set to be heard on June 13.
    At the hearing, the petition was undefended as neither Pempena nor its lawyers made an appearance. The court allowed the petition and asked that Pempena be given another 14 days to pay up. On June 27, that short lease of life for the company expired and Pempena ceased to exist.
    Yesterday, akin to closing the stable door after the horses have bolted, Malaysian Tourism Board chairman Datuk Victor Wee announced that Pempena would be applying for a stay of the winding up order this week.
    The decision, he said, was made after a meeting with the management of Pempena last Friday. A new solicitor will be appointed to apply for a stay and work out an amicable settlement.
    He was responding to theSun’s front page report which said the High Court had ordered the company to be wound up after failing to pay RM12.4 million for the purchase of 120 units of Hyundai Sonata.
    When asked if these actions and the subsequent embarrassment to the government could have been avoided if Pempena had complied or responded to letters from Kah Bintang and its lawyer, Wee declined to comment, saying: “This is something that only Pempena can answer.”
    So, the questions are: “Why did the Pempena CEO ignore the letters, and the call from Lim who was then a director of the company? Was it incompetency or sheer arrogance or total defiance of a lawful directive? Why did Pempena not act after the notice was published?
    More importantly, where is Pempena going to find RM13 million (including interests and costs) to pay the motor company? Why should it come from the tourism promotion budget when all fingers point to the directors, who by virtue of their positions should be held responsible for this fiasco?
    There’s no benefit in keeping Pempena afloat as it has not contributed in anyway to enhance tourism and related products. In short, it has been bleeding financially and has become a burden to Tourism Malaysia.
    The best option is to dispose the assets, settle the debts and close shop so that it does not lose more money. Throwing good money after bad does not make good business sense.

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