Taylor's Drops Contract With Bus Company After "Red Shirts" Rally. What About PLKN Buses?

Despite claims from Taylor's and the National Service Department that they did not authorise their buses to be used as a mode of transportation for the "red shirts" rally, many questions remain unanswered on how the buses ended up at the rally.

Cover image via Malaysiakini

MARA cancels sponsorship for Taylor’s University students

Minister for Rural and Regional Development Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob

Image via The Rakyat Post

Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) will terminate the sponsorship for the next intake of students to Taylor’s University, said Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob (pic).

The Minister for Rural and Regional Development did not name the reasons behind the revocation.

However, Ismail clarified that it was not him who made such a statement.

“I did not make such statement, it was discussed in the Telegram messaging group with Umno division chiefs,” he said.

“But I would like to clarify that we will not terminate the sponsorship for existing students, as they could carry on with their studies. Only the next intake will be affected,” said Ismail.

However, Taylor's University claimed that they have not received any official notification on this sudden termination of scholarship for its students starting next term

Taylors University said it had yet to receive official word of the termination from Mara or the Ministry.

"We will reserve comment for now as we have yet to hear from Mara on this matter," a spokesperson for the university said when contacted.

18 SEPT: Buses have allegedly been misused to ferry protesters for the "red shirts" rally

Taylor's University bus sighted by Malaysiakini, was transporting protesters during the 'red shirts' rally

Image via Malaysiakini

The "red shirts" rally has been soaring with attention from Malaysians due to its flaky, mysterious nature.

One of the many confusions that sparked over the "red shirts" rally, was the authorisation of buses used to ferry the "reds" to different gathering points during the rally on Malaysia Day.

The issue first surfaced when an image of "red shirts" rally protesters walking out of a bus with Taylor's University logo stamped on it. The university's students and the people started reacting angrily and posed a question to Taylor's, asking if they promote the racially slanted rally.

Taylor's University was quick to respond right after the matter was brought up, refuting the claims of connection with the rally and clarified that the buses belonged to a third party bus operator, Wawasan Sutera Travel & Tours Sdn. Bhd.

Taylor's University's updated statement regarding bus issue

Image via Taylor's University/Facebook

Wawasan Sutera Travel & Tours apologised and claimed that the incident was merely a case of human error

In a Facebook post, dated 16 September, at 3:41 p.m. Wawasan Sutera released an official statement on their Facebook page, stressing that there is absolutely no link between Taylor's University and the 'red shirts' rally.

Wawasan Sutera's Facebook post following the Taylor's bus issue.

Image via Wawasan Sutera Travel & Tours/Facebook

However, Wawasan Sutera's public apology was met with Malaysians lamenting about Taylor's University's name being dragged through the mud due to this incident

Following raging comments from users, the bus operator agency responded with somewhat similar replies, claiming that they overlooked the fact that the buses used during the rally had Taylor's University logo on them

In one of the replies by Wawasan Sutera, they stated that they have contracts from two parties. However, when contacted by SAYS for comments and details regarding the contracts, Wawasan Sutera Sdn. Bhd. has so far, not provided any reply on the matter.

Taylor's University has canceled its contract with Wawasan Sutera following the misuse of a bus with their logo for the "red shirts" rally

The private varsity was forced to explain that it did not authorise the use of the bus service for this purpose, and it was not used to ferry their students to the rally, after a picture of protesters alighting from a bus bearing the logo was circulated online.

"We would like to reiterate that we did not authorise the service of the bus bearing our logo belonging to third party, Wawasan Sutera, to ferry rally-goers and the bus was not used to ferry our students to the rally," it said in a statement.

Wawasan Sutera will continue running the shuttle bus service for Taylor's University until Nov 16, 2015 in compliance with the contract, it added.

Taylor's University bus wasn't the only one that got into this messy ordeal. Around 50 National Service Training Program (PLKN) buses were sighted during the rally too.

It was brought to our attention that one of the PLKN buses used for the "red shirts" rally had a label on its screen that read, "Bukit Gantang"

Image via Free Malaysia Today

Government assets in the form of buses for the National Service Training Programme (PLKN), are being used to ferry supporters to the Red Shirts rally.

However, the National Service Department (JLKN) has denied authorising the PLKN buses to ferry protesters to Himpunan Rakyat Bersatu meeting points

The National Service Department (JLKN) today denied that it had anything to do with the reported use of National Service (NS) buses to ferry participants of the Himpunan Rakyat Bersatu or United People’s Rally to the event venue at Padang Merbok.

The department noted that it is not responsible for the use of any other buses that are not in its fleet, regardless of whether the vehicles continue to sport its name and logo.

“JLKN also did not approve any application for the use of any buses under its care for the Himpunan Rakyat,” the statement read.

Earlier today (16 September), it was reported that buses bearing JLKN’s name and logo were spotted at the Federal Territory Mosque near Jalan Duta, ostensibly ferrying outstation participants of the rally, according to news portal Malaysiakini.

The PLKN buses belong to GPB Corporation Sdn. Bhd. that was acquired by a government-linked company (GLC), Gunung Capital Berhad in 2010

PLKN buses that are owned by GPB Corporation Sdn. Bhd.

Image via Gunung Capital Berhad

Gunung Capital Berhad (formerly known as Taiping Super Berhad) is a public company listed on the Main Board of Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange (Bursa Malaysia).

Furthermore, in year 2010, Gunung acquired a new business, namely GPB Corporation Sdn Bhd, which primarily charters its fleet of land-based passenger transportation assets and specialty vehicles. Now, through its wholly owned subsidiaries GPB Corporation Sdn Bhd, Gunung Resources Sdn Bhd, and its indirect subsidiary, Bas Rakyat Sdn Bhd, Gunung is focused on chartering its transportation assets.

Gunung Capital's current Executive Chairman Dato’ Syed Abu Hussin bin Hafiz Syed Abdul Fasal was previously the deputy head of the Bukit Gantang UMNO division (2001-2005)

Dato’ Syed Abu Hussin bin Hafiz Syed Abdul Fasal

Image via Gunung Capital Berhad

The company that owns PLKN's buses, GPB Corporation Sdn. Bhd is an organisation that focuses on providing a range of bus transportation services

GPB Corporation's official site

Image via GPB Corporation Sdn. Bhd.

The ownership of PLKN buses was brought to light after the Malaysian government decided to temporarily suspend the National Service (NS) program as a cost-cutting measure

"A suspension of the National Service programme for 2015 will save RM400mil, and will allow for the programme to be re-examined and improved," said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak , who announced revisions to Budget 2015 on Tuesday.

Najib also said that the awarding of grants to statutory bodies, government-linked corporations and government trust funds, especially those that have consistent income and large reserves is expected to save about RM3.2bil.

Following that, PKR’s National Oversight and Whistleblowers (NOW), questioned the government on why GPB Corporation Sdn. Bhd. was given this year's service contract for NS despite the fact that the program has been stopped

Akmal Nasir the Director of PKR’s National Oversight and Whistleblowers (NOW)

Image via Malay Mail Online

The Opposition is surprised that GPB Corporation Sdn Bhd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Gunung Capital Berhad, received a “Letter of Award and Acceptance” on December 26 from the Ministry of Defense for a Service Contract worth RM164,951,885.70 although the National Service Scheme has been suspended under revisions to Budget 2015, and may even be scrapped.

“Under the revised Budget, RM400 million would be saved,” said Akmal Nasir, the Director of PKR’s National Oversight and Whistleblowers (NOW). “The original Budget 2016 provides RM612 million.”

Now Akmal wants to know whether this means the government will suffer losses of RM212 million, being the difference between the RM612 million original allocation and the RM400 million saved under the revised Budget.

“This raises the question of whether the contract would be fulfilled by the provision of the required services. It’s important to note that the company is headed by Syed Abu Hussin Hafiz Syed Abdul Fasal who is the Umno Bukit Gantang Division Chief.”

This issue has sparked one main question that remains unanswered: who authorised the buses to be used for the "red shirts" rally?

SAYS' attempts to contact GPB Corporation Sdn. Bhd. multiple times for comments on this matter was to no avail

The events surrounding Himpunan Rakyat Bersatu have been a confusing affair. Read all the details about it here:

Adding to the racial sentiments being invoked heavily recently, UMNO Supreme Council member Tan Sri Annuar Musa a couple of days ago, confessed that he is a "racist":