Monday, February 29, 2016

Dr Mahathir quits Umno, again

Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has resigned from Umno.

He said that he made the decision in light on Umno's support of he actions of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

He said he will not start a new party nor will he join a new party.

This is the second time Dr Mahathir is quiting the party, which he led from 1981 to 2003 when he was Prime Minister.

He first quit in May 2008 during the tenure of Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Najib to begin four-day working visit to Saudi Arabia

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will be on a four-day working visit to Saudi Arabia from Monday.

Najib will be delivering a keynote address on Private Public Partnership at the Jeddah Economic Forum (JEF) on Tuesday.

The Jeddah Economic Forum has become a leading hub for leaders, economists and businessmen from around the world to discuss and exchange views on various global key issues.

Najib is also expected to have an audience with King Salman Abdulaziz Al-Saud, Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Naif Al-Saud and Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Al-Saud.

He is also scheduled to visit the Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM) currently based at Hafar Al Batin.

Najib will be accompanied by his wife Datin Sri Rosmah Mansor, Defence Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, and two Ministers in the Prime Minister's Department namely Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Bin Baharom and Datuk Sri Abdul Wahid Omar together with senior government officials.

Saudi Arabia is one of Malaysia’s largest trading partners in the Middle East. Total bilateral trade for 2015 was valued at RM3.42bil with imports of RM7.53bil and exports of RM3.42bil.

Najib urges Sarawakians to support Adenan in coming polls

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak wants the people of Sarawak to give Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem a strong mandate in the coming 11th state election.

In calling the people to support Adenan’s team in the election, Najib said they needed a strong state go­­vernment so that the Federal Government would also be strong.

“With a strong mandate from the people, the state government under Adenan will have more bargaining power to negotiate with the Federal Government for better empowerment and more allocation,” he said at the launch of the Sejiwa Senada programme yesterday.

A good understanding between the state and federal governments, he said, was important so that pro­blems of the state could be solved.

Najib said their choice was for their own future and if they elected Barisan Nasional, their needs would be well taken care of, be they small or big projects such as the RM16bil Pan Borneo Highway and the RM241mil Batang Sadong Bridge.

He added that he had since 2009, given an extra RM1bil besides the two mega projects as the large size of the state needed more for basic infrastructure which included basic amenities like treated water and electricity.

Najib said his next two visits to the state would be in March and April to launch part of the Pan Borneo Highway in Serian and Julau junctions.

Also present at the launch were Adenan and his wife Puan Sri Jamilah Anu as well as federal and state ministers.

Adenan, who celebrated his se­­cond anniversary as Sarawak chief minister yesterday, has effected numerous changes during his te­nure.

“The two-year duration is not sufficient for him to implement everything for the people.

“Give him another five years to bring more development to Sarawak,” Bernama quoted Najib as saying.

He reminded the people that if they erred in making their choice in the next state election, whatever negotiations carried out between the state and federal governments on empowerment would face difficulty.

“The negotiation will be simple if it is done between the Federal Government and a strong state go­vernment under the leadership of Adenan,” he said .

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Salleh Keruak: Muhyiddin's suspension not to split Umno

The decision to suspend Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin from the post of Umno deputy president was not aimed at splitting the party, said Communications and Multimedia Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak.
On the contrary, he said, it was to ensure that every party member was bound by the party discipline, no matter what post he or she held.

Salleh, who is a supreme council member, said he believed the decision was made in total, including after considering the actual task of a deputy president.

"A deputy president should be capable of assisting the president in strengthening the party.

"But in this case, they (supreme council members) felt that Tan Sri Muhyiddin had failed to do so. That's why they felt that his post as deputy president should be suspended.

On Friday, the supreme council unanimously suspended Muhyiddin until the next party elections. He was deemed not to have discharged his obligations as required under the party constitution. He, however, retained his position as Pagoh Umno chief.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Nazri: Johor Umno will not be affected if Muhyiddin suspended

Umno's performance in Johor will not be affected if Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is suspended from the party, said supreme council member Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz. 

He said this is because Muhyiddin, who is party deputy president and Pagoh division chief, did not represent the majority voice of Johor Umno, which is lead by Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Khaled Nordin. 

"Since when did Muhyiddin represent Johor?" he told a press conference at Istana Budaya here on Thursday.   

Nazri was asked to comment on the remarks made by Pagoh Umno youth chief Mohd Zaid Abdul Rahman, who asked Nazri to apologise to all Johoreans for his “disrespectful” remarks towards Muhyiddin. 

"I am not concern about the remarks as Muhyiddin does not represent Johoreans," he said.

Earlier, Nazri said he would be submitting a motion to suspend Muhyiddin at the supreme council meeting on Friday for allegedly failing his duty to support the president. 

Nazri also said Muhyiddin should learn from Pagoh Umno deputy division chief Ismail Mohamed, who defended him when he came under attack. 

"As a deputy division chief, it is good that he came to defend his chief. It is the job of the deputy to defend his chief. 

"Muhyiddin has to learn from him," said Nazri.

He had said that as an ordinary member, Muhyiddin had the right to voice his criticism against the leadership, but as deputy president, his job was to support Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

DAP hits back at PKR

DAP has now hit back at PKR, saying it was “out of norm” for Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azmin Ali to interfere openly in the internal affairs of another state.

Wong Hon Wai, the political secretary of Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, said the removal of two PKR assemblymen from the boards of state government-linked companies (GLCs) was similar in nature to the sacking of Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim by PKR in 2014.

“Khalid said one thing during a meeting and acted the other way after that.

“DAP respected PKR’s decision to sack Khalid then and did not start a war of words with PKR.

“We have to be consistent as both situations are similar in nature.

“But why is PKR having daily statements on this very same scenario?” he said in a statement on Wednesday.

Wong was responding to Mat Suhaimi Shafie, Azmin’s political secretary, who had told Lim to stop “twisting and diverting” Azmin’s statement on the sacking of two PKR assemblymen from Penang GLCs.

His statement alleged that Lim always gave the opposite perception of any issue.

Lim sacked Ong Chin Wen and Cheah Kah Peng, who the Bukit Tengah and Kebun Bunga assemblymen, from the GLCs for not voting against an Umno motion during the Penang state legislative assembly sitting last year.

Umno had tabled a motion to stop all government reclamation projects in the island.

Police record Dr M's statement

Police are recording the statement of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad  over his blog posts, said Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar.

"We have arranged to record his statement. I think it is going on now," Khalid told reporters after an event at the Bukit Aman police headquarters on Wednesday.

When asked by reporters, Khalid refused to reveal the venue of the police meeting with Dr Mahathir, saying that it was at "a public place arranged by the former premier."

Asked if the location was Dr Mahathir's office in Putrajaya, Khalid said: "Might be."

PKR-DAP war of words heats up

The war of words between the Selangor Mentri Besar and the Penang Chief Minister is heating up.

In the latest salvo, Datuk Seri Azmin Ali's political secretary Mat Shuhaimi Shafie told Lim Guan Eng to stop “twisting and diverting” Azmin's statement on the sacking of two PKR assemblymen from Penang government linked companies (GLCs).

"Lim Guan Eng always gives an opposite perception of any issue.

"This time we urge him to be honest in line with the spirit of Pakatan Harapan," said Mat Shuhaimi when contacted.

He reiterated that Azmin's statement was conveying PKR's decision and was not his stand as the Selangor Mentri Besar.

"What Azmin had stated has nothing to do with his position as mentri besar but was made in his capacity as the PKR deputy president," he said.

Mat Shuhaimi was responding to Lim's latest comments that Azmin's statement was out of the norm and that Pakatan leaders never interfered in matters involving other state leaders whether it is the chief minister or mentri besar.

He said differences in opinion in Pakatan should be reflective of political maturity and not weakness in the partnership.

Lim sacked Ong Chin Wen and Cheah Kah Peng, who are Bukit Tengah and Kebun Bunga assemblymen respectively, from the GLCs for not voting against an Umno motion during the Penang state legislative assembly sitting end of last year.
Umno had tabled a motion to stop all government reclamation projects in the island. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Rafidah's history, criticisms won't affect us, says Nazri

Former Cabinet minister Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz's criticisms will not affect the government and Umno said Tourism Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz.

“She is an ordinary member and we are a democratic party. Let her talk. It is not going to affect us in anyway,” Nazri told The Star Online on Tuesday.

Rafidah has of late been critical of how Umno and the government have been functioning.

Nazri said Rafidah, former International Trade and Industry Minister, "is history," and Wanita Umno had rejected her when they voted in Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil as its chief during the wing’s elections in 2009.

Nazri said he had in the past defended Rafidah.

“There is a lot of hypocrisy. The rakyat can see that when they were in the government, they were doing things far from democratic.

"People like us had to defend them. We were trained to always support our leaders.

“They are just old people seeking attention…it doesn’t bother us. Even the opposition doesn’t want to use them because of the negative stigma associated with them,” he said.

Malaysia a safe place to invest, says Tok Pa

There is no need for potential foreign investors to fear coming to Malaysia because the country has always been civil and peaceful.

“Our security personnel have been on the ball, especially since the Jakarta bombing recently, so we think there is no reason for investors to fear,” said Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.

“Also, seeing as there are at least 40 foreign investors gathered in this place today, I think they are wise enough not to unnecessarily worry either,” he told reporters during the MIDA – Spirit Aerospace Suppliers Symposium here yesterday.

A total of 40 international participants had flown in to join 65 potential suppliers from Malaysia for the symposium, which discusses the future of the aerospace sector and promote Malaysia as a base for foreign companies.

Malaysia has been on high alert since a bomb and gun attack in Jakarta last month, which was claimed by the Islamic State militant group.

Malaysia had also arrested a suspected militant who confessed to be planning an attack in the country.

An Australian travel advisory over the weekend warned that terrorists may be planing “indiscriminate” attacks in and around Kuala Lumpur, which may target Western interests or locations frequented by Westerners.

It also recommended Australians avoid travelling to the coastal region of eastern Sabah, where the beaches and islands are popular with foreign tourists and diving enthusiasts.

In an immediate reaction, City police chief Comm Datuk Tajuddin Md Isa assured the public that the city is secure despite the terror alert issued by the Australian government.

“We have not received any intelligence to indicate a terror threat.

“We are on constant vigilance and security has been increased over the past few months. The city is safe from any terror threat so far,” he had said.

On another matter, Mustapa said the Malaysian Investment Deve­lopment Authority (MIDA) had approved RM8.7bil in investments in Malaysia’s aerospace sector since 2011.

“Of this amount, half came from last year alone because 2015 was an exceptionally good year for the aerospace industry,” he said.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Nazri wants Muhyiddin suspended

Stern action should be taken against Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin for his continuous attacks against the party president.

Umno supreme council member Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said he will propose at the upcoming supreme council meeting that Muhyiddin be suspended for is alleged role in undermining the president.

"He has to remember that he is not an ordinary member. He is the party deputy president.

"According to the party constitution, he is suppose to assist the president.

"However, I think he has gone overboard this time," he said at the Sg Haji Dorani homestay here on Monday.

Nazri claimed that Muhyiddin had criticised the party leadership when he openly spoke to a group of party critics and the public right before the last Umno general assembly.

He urged Muhyiddin to quit his party post if "he no longer can become a team player".

"If he thinks he is doing the right thing, he should just leave and fight in the open.

"I think his actions have gone beyond what is considered reasonable," said Nazri.

Muhyiddin had repeatedly expressed concerns over the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) issue over the last month.
A day before the Umno general assembly in December last year, he gave a speech to the public at a gathering at Kelab Sultan Sulaiman which was attended by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Malaysia safe for tourists despite Australian travel advisory, says Nazri

Tourism and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz has assured Malaysians that the country is still safe for tourists, despite a travel advisory by the Australian government on a possible terror threat.

He said that such travel advisories were normal and the Government had taken necessary steps to protect popular tourist sites.

"The authorities have put in place security personnel, like the police and army, to manage the situation.

"Things are under control and we are aware of it.

"Our security is tight," he told reporters after visiting the Sg Haji Dorani homestay, here, on Monday.

On Sunday, the Australian government issued a travel advisory warning of a possible terror attack in the city.

The travel advisory posted on the Australian Foreign Affairs and Trade Department website said "attacks could be indiscriminate and may target Western interests or locations frequented by Westerners".

Nazri said the tourism industry would not be affected and downplayed the advisory, saying that no city in the world was safe from terror attacks.

"Other governments have issued similar advisory against going to Paris, London and other cities.

"No one city is completely safe from terror attacks," he said.

New Kedah exco line-up sworn in

The new Kedah state executive council line-up under the leadership of Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah was sworn in before the state Regency Council on Monday.

Nine assemblymen were sworn in to the state executive council at 10.30am.

The nine are the same executive councillors who resigned on Feb 3 after Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir lost the confidence of the majority of state assemblymen.

The list includes Datuk Norsabrina Mohd Noor, Datuk Suraya Yaacob and Datuk Aminuddin Omar who stood by Mukhriz.

The remaining members are Datuk Dr Leong Yong Kong, Datuk Tajul Urus Mat Zain, Datuk Dr Ku Abd Rahman Ku Ismail, Datuk Mohd Rawi Abd Hamid, Datuk Badrol Hisham Hashim and Datuk Tajuddin Abdullah.

It is understood that while the line-up is unchanged, there will be a reshuffling in the portfolios held by the exco members.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Salleh Said: WSJ making baseless allegations again

The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) editor who refuted the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) findings is making baseless allegations again on questions already answered, says Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak .

"It was clearly proven that no offence had taken place. It also shows that the Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak) is clean from all the allegations thrown at him," said the Communications and Multimedia Minister.

He also questioned intention of WSJ finance editor Ken Brown for making such statements.

"Right now, a foreigner is making those allegations based on tampered documents that came from questionable sources.

"What is the motive? Why are they trying to interfere in the country's administration? Of course they have their own agenda," he said in his speech at a book launch here Friday.

Dr Salleh was commenting on the recent new interview given by Brown to ABC News Australia on Feb 12.

Brown had refuted the AGC's findings that the money deposited into Najib's private accounts was a donation from the Saudi royal family.

He told ABC's Beverley O'Connor that the WSJ news report has not been called into question yet and that WSJ had "loads of evidence to back that up".

Zahid Hamidi: Government freezes intake of all foreign workers, including Bangladeshis

The Government has decided to suspend the recruitment of all foreign workers to Malaysia, including those from Bangladesh, says Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (pic).

"We urge all employers to recruit local workers," said Dr Ahmad Zahid, who is also Home Minister, after meeting Army personnel at Kem Muara Tuang here on Friday.

He said the suspension would be in place while the Government reviewed the two-tier levy programme for foreign workers.

Dr Ahmad Zahid added that existing illegal workers in Malaysia would be detained and deported.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Najib: Govt to decide soon on succession plan for new Bank Negara governor

The Government will decide soon on the succession plan for a new Bank Negara governor, says Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Speaking to Malaysian journalists at the end of his week-long working visit to the United States here Wednesday (Thursday in Malaysia), Najib said the decision was for the Government to make.

Najib was asked to comment on the succession plan and a news report quoting Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz as saying she did not want any politician to take over the position at the central bank.

Zeti, who is due to retire in April, had said in Kuala Lumpur that she would not stay for another term.

She said the process of finding a successor was being undertaken by the Governance Committee of the Bank Negara Malaysia Board, which comprises independent directors from the private sector.

Replying to another question, Najib said that upon his return to Malaysia he would discuss with Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi the plan for the country to recruit 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers which has raised concerns.

"I think we need to make sure that whatever move we make will fulfil the needs of the economy. Some sectors of the economy need workers, like the plantation industry," he said.

However, he cautioned that the government needed to address the concerns over any social fallout in terms of problems created by the large inflow of workers.

Dr Ahmad Zahid had said that the Government planned to bring in 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers over the next three to five years to meet the needs of industries, but many quarters have raised concerns over the impact of such a move.

On the view of the Conference of Rulers that some provisions of the National Security Council Bill 2015 should be refined, Najib said the Government took note of the matter.

Najib said the legislation did not at all usurp the powers of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

It was aimed at tackling security threats, he said.

He added that like in the case of the Lahad Datu intrusion of 2013, such additional powers are necessary.

Najib speaks to major US fund managers

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who is on the last leg of his one-week working trip to California, started Wednesday by promoting Malaysia as a good prospect for investment to American fund managers managing US$4.5tril (RM18.77tril).

The Prime Minister said Malaysia was a good prospect and its economy was still growing fairly well despite the challenging global economic situation.

"Malaysia is a good prospect and under adverse conditions we are still able to perform.

"Moving forward, I still believe that our performance can continue with the political stability and Government policies.

"I know there is a lot of noise, but if you look beyond and deeper into Malaysia, we do have strong fundamentals. It is only a question of time before the markets realise it," he said as he addressed 16 fund managers from 11 organisations.

This is the first time San Francisco-based investors have been given access to the Prime Minister in a closed-door session.

San Francisco is the fourth stop of the Invest Malaysia 2016 Conversation Series by Bursa Malaysia after Hong Kong, Singapore and London.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Rani Kulup: I'm taking a rest from police reports

It has been more than two months since Abdul Rani Kulup Abdullah, or the “king of police reports”, last lodged a police report.

The last report the president of Martabat Jalinan Muhibbah Malaysia (MJMM) made was in December last year.

Asked why he was taking a break, the army veteran told The Star Online that there were many older cases that had yet to be solved by the police.

“Let the police investigate them first, I’m taking a rest. I am busy with other things such as shows, advertisements, acting and dramas. But I will make reports,” said Abdul Rani.

Many have wondered whether he was still making them as this has been the longest stretch without a police report lodged by him since 2011.

Asked when he would be making his next report, Abdul Rani said he was planning to lodge one in March.

“Many people have asked me when I am going to make a report as they miss my reports. They say if I make a report, it looks grand,” said Abdul Rani.

Abdul Rani, who is known for his “Kipidap” line and paramilitary uniform, denied that police had asked him to not make any more reports.

He said police want the people to cooperate with them.

“The police encourage us to make reports,” said Abdul Rani.

Among others, he has lodged reports against PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar, G25 member Datuk Noor Farida Arrifin and even people who have shared doctored photos of leaders.

He claims to have made close to 1,000 reports since 2011, and expects to reach the magic number of 1,000 by 2018.

Rani himself was at the end of a police investigation in January for accepting a “Datukship” from the self-proclaimed Malacca sultan Noor Jan Shah Tuah.

On Jan 5, he gave his statement to the police at the Gombak district police headquarters.

“There were no problems at all. It’s not like they caught me. It was more of a chat,” he said.

When asked why he accepted the Datukship from Noor Jan, Abdul Rani said he didn’t see any problem if anyone wanted to give him one.

“It doesn’t matter who gave me the Datukship. Anyway, I am already a datuk as I have grandchildren. That is the orginal datukship given by Allah,” said Abdul Rani, who has nine children and 14 grandchildren.

“He wanted to give it to me, so I accepted it. It’s not that I had to pay anything, and it’s not as if I was the only who got a Datukship from him. Many others got it as well,” he added.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Proton recalls three models to fix cooler hoses

Proton Holdings Bhd will recall almost 100,000 units of its Exora, Preve and Suprima models to fix the CFE oil cooler hoses starting Tuesday.

Its chief executive officer, Datuk Abdul Harith Abdullah, said these models faced problems of the oil cooler hoses, which would break down when the cars reach an average mileage of 40,000 kilometres (km), due to the degration of internal hose/tube material.

"We will call the owners and the priority will be given to the cars with mileage of 40,000 km and above. We hope to finish this in the next six months," he told reporters at the preview of the new Proton Perdana here on Tuesday.

Monday, February 15, 2016

IGP: Police probing reports against Dr M over blog post

Police are investigating reports lodged against former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad over a recent blog post.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said the investigation against Dr Mahathir for defamation had already begun.

“Police have received several reports over a controversial blog post by Dr Mahathir.

“We will refer it to the Attorney-General if there is a case,” he told a press conference at the Penang police headquarters on Monday.

Ringgit opens higher against US dollar early Monday

The ringgit rebounded from last Friday's weaker close to open higher against the US dollar early Monday, lifted by stronger oil prices, dealers said.

At 9am, the ringgit was traded at 4.1545/1605 from 4.1650/1750 on last Friday.

A dealer said sentiment in the global foreign exchange and equity markets was positive after the United Arab Emirates raised hopes of a coordinated oil production cut, sending prices to a better level, with a 12 per cent jump seen last Friday.

The ringgit also traded higher against other major currencies.

It rose against the Singapore dollar to 2.9722/9780 from the 2.9831/9918 registered on Friday, and strengthened versus the yen to 3.6642/6711 from 3.6979/6081.

The local unit appreciated vis-a-vis the Euro to 4.6676/6747 from 4.6973/6102 and expanded against the British pound to 6.0282/0373 from 6.0422/0583.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Najib: No regrets over unpopular decisions

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak says he has no regrets of the unpopular decisions he took to put the country's economy back on track.

Admitting that the Government lost "brownie points" in implementing unpopular moves, the Prime Minister said they were necessary with the fall of oil prices and other commodities.

He said the situation was beyond the Government's control and the steps taken were necessary.

"Sometimes in politics and even in life, you need to take the tough and difficult situation, decisions which you know would be good for you and the country in the medium and long term.

"I always akin this to when you are not well, you have to take antibiotic, some are not so pleasant but you have to take and have to stay the course.

"You must complete your antibiotic course and when you complete it, you will recover and become fit once again," Najib said in his address during a get together with Malaysian students and those living in California during his one-week working visit here.

The Prime Minister said the Goods and Services Tax (GST) was necessary, saying that without GST, it would have impacted the economy and welfare of Malaysians.

"It was the right decision, I don't regret it. I just want people to understand and appreciate that it is very much like taking medicine when it is necessary," he added.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

PAS to field non-Muslim candidates in Sarawak elections

PAS will field non-Muslim candidates in the upcoming Sarawak elections, its deputy president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said.

He said the party had identified several individuals from the PAS Supporters Club who had the potential to become candidates, and would refer their names to the Syura council for approval.

"For the first time ever, the central committee has identified several non-Muslim candidates from the PAS Supporters Club.

"An official announcement will be made in Sarawak on March 12," he told reporters after chairing the party's central committee meeting, here, Saturday.

Tuan Ibrahim also confirmed that the Islamist party will be contesting 11 seats in the state election, adding that the constituencies would be made known later.

"The entire state election machinery is ready. We will contest in areas where we know there is a potential for victory," he added.

The Sarawak election is highly expected to take place in April, with the five-year state assembly term automatically ending on June 19 this year.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Ahmad Bashah replaces Mukhriz as Kedah Umno chief

 Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah (pic) was on Thursday appointed the new chairman of the Kedah Umno liaison committee, replacing Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir.

The appointment was announced by Umno secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor in a statement.       

Tengku Adnan also said that Education Minister and Padang Terap MP Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid had been appointed deputy chairman of the committee, also effective today. Ahmad Bashah had been the deputy chairman.

Muhkriz, who resigned as the Kedah mentri besar on Feb 3, had said that he would leave it to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to determine his position as the chairman of the committee.

Ahmad Bashah was sworn in as the new Mentri Besar on Feb 4.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Rahman Dahlan: Rafidah's comments on party loyalty 'strange'

Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan says he finds Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz’s comments regarding party loyalty “strange”, considering her past actions when serving as Wanita Umno chief. 

In a Facebook post on Saturday, Rafidah, a former Cabinet minister, said that loyalty should be given to the nation and the party, and not blindly to any individuals. 

Responding to this, Abdul Rahman, who is the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister, said that he found her comments odd since Rafidah herself, when serving as Wanita Umno chief, had never made a single remark about the party’s funds being in the hands of foreign proxies. 

He questioned Rafidah’s decision not to question the then Umno president on why funds were in the hands of proxies, or how it was being spent. 

He said Rafidah had never voiced any concern at that time concerning funds kept by proxies whom Umno members themselves did not know.  

“Did the ‘Iron Lady’ not support the nation and the party at the time? Or was she supporting individuals?” asked Abdul Rahman on his Twitter account on Sunday. 

Recently, Wanita Umno chief Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said that she was puzzled by Rafidah's posts on Facebook concerning Malaysia’s political situation. 

"I shake my head and am puzzled when reading her posts. For 22 years that Rafidah led Wanita, we were always reminded to be disciplined and loyal to the party leadership, especially to the president,” she was reported to have said. 

In response, Rafidah stressed that she was a loyal Umno member who “will die as Umno member”.

Dr Mahathir’s attacks against Najib seditious, says Annuar Musa

Former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad should know that his attacks against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak are of a seditious nature, says Tan Sri Annuar Musa.

The Umno information chief Tan Sri Annuar Musa in a press statement on Saturday alleged that Dr Mahathir was clearly trying to mobilise support for his cause to get the Prime Minister removed from office.

“Having known him for quite a long time, I don’t really know what his real intention was in writing such a post,” said Annuar, adding he was surprised to read Dr Mahathir’s blog posting entitled “AG to AG” dated Feb 3 as it contained words which were seditious.

“Having been prime minister for a very long time, Tun Dr Mahathir must have known that those words are seditious in nature, what more when the Federal Government under his stewardship used to frequently charge people for the same offence,” the Ketereh MP said.

Annuar added that it could also be that Tun Dr Mahathir thinks that being a former prime minister and a former Umno president may make him immune from prosecution.

“Whatever the case, no one cannot deny that Article 8(1) of the Federal Constitution clearly stipulates that all persons are equal before the law,” Annuar said.

As for Dr Mahathir’s allegations that former Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail was removed from office improperly, Annuar said that if there was any fault in the system, the former premier should blame himself.

“The problem with Dr Mahathir is that just because he acted in certain ways when he was in power, he thinks that others in power also act in those ways,” he said.

On Dr Mahathir’s allegations against current Attorney-General Tan Sri Apandi Ali with regard to the Swiss Attorney-General’s investigations, Annuar said the former prime minister had levelled accusations without providing any evidence.

A-G: Late Saudi king’s son donated RM2.6bil

 A son of the late Saudi king donated the RM2.6bil to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, says Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali (pic).

The Attorney-General, however, declined to provide the identity of the donor.

“We know his name. He is not the late Saudi king but the son of the king. He is still alive,” he said in an interview with Sin Chew Daily.

Mohamed Apandi added that Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission officers had recorded a statement from the donor and that he had read the report.

“Why are the people asking for the reason of the donation? This question has to be asked to the donor. He has billions. He wanted to give money to whoever, so what?

“This is his money. This is his personal matter. Our country does not have any laws to state that receiving political donations is illegal,” he said.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Ahmad Bashah can bring more progress to Kedah, says Najib

New Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah has the capability to bring more progress to the state, says Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

The Prime Minister added that he believes Ahmad Bashah can carry out his duties effectively for the welfare and betterment of the people.

"My colleagues and I (in the Federal Government) extend our congratulations to Ahmad Bashah as the new Mentri Besar and wish him well in carrying out his duties," he said at the outset of his speech when opening SJK Tamil Paya Besar in Lunas, here, on Friday.

Ahmad Bashah, Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid, Health Minister and MIC president Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam and Deputy Education Minister Datuk P. Kamalanathan were also present at the event.

Ahmad Bashah, 66, who is the state assemblyman for Bakar Bata, was sworn in on Thursday as the 12th Kedah Mentri Besar at Istana Anak Bukit in Alor Setar, replacing Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir, who resigned a day earlier citing loss of majority support in the state legislative assembly.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Zahid: 100 days for Ahmad Bashah to prove himself

Let’s give Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah 100 days to prove his abilities, says Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. 

Commenting on criticisms against the new Kedah Mentri Besar, the Deputy Prime Minister said a politician should not be judged only on his qualifications.

“His other positive attributes have to be taken into consideration as well.

“Ahmad Bashah has served as a state executive councillor and a deputy minister, so he has experience at both state and federal levels. Don’t forget that he has been in politics for more than 35 years,” Dr Ahmad Zahid said Thursday during a four-day visit to Beijing. 

He said Ahmad Bashah should be given the chance to show his abilities in managing Kedah.

“Because of his good ties with the Federal Government, perhaps allocations that were not budgeted for can be given (to Kedah).

“I can also ask the Prime Minister to help develop Kedah,” Dr Ahmad Zahid added.

Tabung Haji announces dividends for depositors

Lembaga Tabung Haji will distribute RM3.23bil in bonuses to their depositors, according to Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom (pic). 

The Minister in the Prime Minister's Department announced that the 2015 dividend rate was 5% in addition to a further 3% for depositors who have yet to perform the haj. 

He said the combine 8% dividend would benefit 8.23 million Tabung Haji depositors who have yet to perform their pilgrimage.  

Jamil Khir said this at the Tabung Haji headquarters here Thursday. Also present were Tabung Haji chief executive officer Tan Sri Ismee Ismail and chairman Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim.

In 2014, depositors received an annual dividend of 6.25% in addition to 2% for those who had not performed their haj.

Rahman Dahlan: Mukhriz did not have the ‘numbers’

Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir had to step down as Kedah mentri besar because he did not have the “numbers”, said Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan.

"Politics is a game of numbers, when you don't have the numbers, your days are numbered," the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister said during a visit to the Bukit Tagar sanitary landfill here Thursday. 

Abdul Rahman, who is also the Barisan Nasional strategic communications director, said it was difficult for Mukhriz to work in conditions where he had lost support of majority of the state leaders. 

Asked if Umno's dominance would be affected by Mukhriz's departure, he said: "Barisan Nasional is not made up of one person. We still have to maintain our presence in Kedah."

He also said Mukhriz was a good friend and felt sad that he had to leave. 

Abdul Rahman, however, said Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah should be given a chance to prove his leadership as the new Kedah Mentri Besar.

How Malaysia will benefit from TPPA

Following are some of the benefits that Malaysia will derive from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA), signed Thursday in Auckland, New Zealand. 

* Malaysia's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is projected to increase by US$107bil (RM444bil) to US$211bil (RM876bil) over 2018-2027, which would raise GDP growth between 0.6 and 1.15% in 2027 

* Investments projected to rise by US$136bil (RM565bil) to US$239bil (RM993bil) over 2018-2027 - attributable largely to higher investment growth in textiles, construction and distributive trade 

* More than 90% of the economic gains will be attributable to lower non-tariff measures 

* Hike in export growth is projected to be outpaced by increase in import growth - therefore trade surplus is projected to narrow between 4.3 and 5.2% of GDP in 2027 

* Sectors which contributed over 20% of Malaysia’s GDP in 2014 are now expected to register higher output growth, especially the manufacturing sub-sector 

* Export-oriented firms will benefit from greater market access, especially with countries that Malaysia is yet to have a trade pact namely Canada, Mexico, Peru and US 

* Firms to benefit from access to US government procurement, greater digital liberalisation and stronger enforcement of trade secret protection 

* Wage growth for unskilled labour is projected to increase between 0.45 and 0.91% and for skilled labour between 0.38 and 0.78% 

* Investor state dispute settlement may increase cost to the Malaysian government but safeguards are in place to mitigate nuisance suits and preserve policy space in setting decisions on health, security and environment. It will also increase protection for Malaysian firms investing abroad. 

* Bumiputra and SME policies will remain unchanged.

Zahid draws from own experience in advising Mukhriz

Drawing from his own experiences, Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi advised outgoing Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir to engage in self-reflection and be istiqamah (steadfast).

The Deputy Prime Minister said he faced a similar crisis in 1998 but was re-elected as MP and then appointed Deputy Tourism Minister after the 2004 general elections.

“We shouldn’t make decisions when we are sad or angry because those are fuelled by emotions.

“We should remain calm and accept the qada dan qadar (predestination) and God willing, there will be a blessing for us,” he said.

Dr Ahmad Zahid, who is in Beijing on a four-day visit, said politicians should accept the reality of their situation instead of pointing fingers at others when their positions were taken away and given to someone else.

He said politicians should hold fast to their party’s principles while maintaining their credibility.

“We have to give priority to party unity and political stability for state and nation,” he said.

Dr Ahmad Zahid urged old and new leaders to set aside their differences for the sake of Umno and Barisan Nasional.

He congratulated Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah on his appointment as the new mentri besar.

In PUTRAJAYA, MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong said Ahmad Bashah should work hard to strengthen the state Barisan Nasional now that the political crisis in the state has been resolved.

“People are concerned about their bread and butter. This is also an issue that the Barisan needs to address,” he said after attending his ministry’s post-Cabinet meeting yesterday.

He said although Mukhriz was no longer the mentri besar, he was still an assemblyman.

“He has the responsibility to look after the people in his state seat (Jerlun),” he said.

Dr Wee also said in a democracy, a mentri besar needed to have the support of half the total number of assemblymen in the state.

“Everyone knows that all Barisan assemblymen (in Kedah) did not support him,” he added.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Ahmad Bashah: I was not out to grab MB post

Newly-appointed mentri besar, Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah, will tender his resignation as senator and deputy minister.

"I'm thankful to the Sultan and the Regency Council for consenting to my appointment as Mentri Besar.

"l also wish to thank Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak for recommending my name to the Sultan," Ahmad Bashah told a press conference hours after State Secretary Datuk Bakar Din announced that he would take over the state's top job from Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir.

Present were state exco member Datuk Tajuddin Abdullah and other Umno leaders.

Ahmad Bashah declined to comment on a reshuffle of the state executive council.

"Please wait as I have not been sworn in yet, " he said.

Earlier, Bakar said Ahmad Bashah, who is Bakar Batu assemblyman, would be sworn in at Istana Anak Bukit on Thursday.

Ahmad Bashah said he was "not eager" on "grabbing" the post of mentri besar.

"But Umno leaders and assemblymen want a change in the state leadership," he said.

He said Mukhriz was a good man whom he had worked with for many years.

"I hope Mukhriz and his supporters will extend their cooperation to me for the sake of the party and Kedah," he said.

Ahmad Bashah said he would talk about his future plans after the swearing in ceremony.

To a question that Mukhriz had cheekily said that he hoped Ahmad Bashah would not fall asleep during the swearing-in ceremony, Ahmad Bashah said: "Never mind, lah. I have nothing to comment."

Mukhriz resigns as mentri besar

Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir announced his resignation as the Kedah Mentri Besar on Wednesday.

At a packed press conference held at his office in Wisma Darul Aman, Mukhriz said the resignation will take effect immediately.

He said he made the decision to resign as he has lost the majority support of assemblymen in the state assembly.

Mukhriz said he informed the Kedah Regency Council of his resignation on Tuesday.

"I feel a heavy burden shifted off my shoulders," he said. He said he also rejected an offer to be a deputy minister.

Kedah state secretary to announce new MB today , Mukhriz to hold PC at 10am

State Secretary Datuk Bakar Din is scheduled to give a press conference on the new appointment of the Mentri Besar at 11am at Wisma Darul Aman.

Reporters received  a message at 8.30am Wednesday informing them that another press conference would be held "regarding the issue of appointing the menteri besar" immediately after Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir has his press conference over his position.

Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir is scheduled to give a press conference at his office at 10am Wednesday over his position as Mentri Besar.

It is believed that he would officially announce his resignation from the post after defending it over the last two weeks.

The announcement that the press conference would be held later today was sent to the media at about 11pm Tuesday, shortly after the Kedah Regency Council was believed to have adjourned.

It was learnt that the council had deliberated the issue of the mentri besar's position late into the night after meeting Opposition assemblymen on Tuesday afternoon.

The Star reported that Mukhriz had agreed to resign after a dramatic fortnight full of political twists and turns.

The pressure on Mukhriz reached a new level on Tuesday when he was asked for the third time in a week to sign the resignation letter.

Highly-placed sources indicated that Mukhriz was presented with the prepared resignation letter a little after 6pm.

The third attempt to have him sign the letter came after the three members of the Regency Council huddled in a closed-door discussion among themselves in the Regency Council office located at Wisma Darul Aman.

After that, the state secretary and the state legal adviser met with Mukhriz regarding the resignation letter.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Dr Asri says accusations in purported Johor ban proposal slanderous

Perlis Mufti Datuk Dr Asri Zainul Abidin has threatened to sue those responsible over a purported proposal calling for several religious leaders to be banned from preaching in Johor.

The document, which is being circulated on social media, is said to have been submitted by the Johor religious department to the Johor Palace.

It proposes that the state ban 16 religious preachers who are deemed to have caused confusion through their deviant teachings.

Besides Dr Asri, the document names Umno Youth exco Fathul Bari Mat Jahya and several other preachers, such as Rasul Dahari, Fadhlan Othman and Dr Abu Anas Madani.

The proposal said that Dr Asri should be banned from preaching in the state for, among others, maligning the mufti’s institution and belittling the Shafie school of thought.

When contacted, Dr Asri described the accusations levelled against him as "slander" and challenged those responsible to prove the allegations.

"I think they should also be sued. In fact, everyone named (in the proposal) should take a legal action.

"People can judge my writings and talks. I don't think they can find that I have uttered such remarks," he said on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Fathul Bari said that even if the proposal is proven to be authentic, there was still no reason to ban the 16 from preaching in the state.

"This is a huge lie. They cannot simply label us just because there are differing views on Islamic principles," he said when contacted.

"I recently brought an imam of Masjid Nabawi to see Johor Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar. I don't think I have any problem with the palace," he said.

Johor Mufti Datuk Tahrir Shamsuddin refused comment when asked to verify the authenticity of the document.

"I am really sorry I cannot give any comment on this matter," he said.

Kedah opposition reps call for assembly vote on MB's position

Kedah Opposition assemblymen want the state legislative assembly to meet to decide on the Mentri Besar's position.

Hours before they are to meet at the Kedah Regency Council, summoned by the latter, the 15 assemblymen issued a statement that the state's laws should respected and the top office be determined by the state assembly.

"We praise the palace for summoning us to get our views. The Council is upholding democratic principles and the people's rights," the assemblymen said.

On Monday, the Council, after a meeting with representatives from Barisan Nasional, summoned the assemblymen for a meeting at Wisma Darul Aman at 2pm today.

It is learnt that the meeting between the Council and Barisan assemblymen turned out to be inconclusive.

The Barisan assemblymen have been told to gather at a hotel while the opposition representatives meet at the Council on Tuesday.

The opposition comprised eight PAS assemblymen, four from PKR, two DAP and one Amanah.

PKR's four assemblymen said they would vote to retain Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir as mentri besar should there be a vote at the state assembly.

State chief Dr Azman Ismail said the party was opposed to any change in the state leadership as it was not done in the interest of the people.

State Amanah chairman Dr Ismail Salleh said the party's sole representative would abstain from voting.

"We agree that the problem must be solved in the assembly, but Amanah would not cast its vote because we neither support Mukhriz nor others from Umno."

In Penang, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said while the party supported the move to call for a vote, it was premature to speculate on what took place at the Council meeting.

Swiss A-G: Najib not a suspect in US$4bil probe

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is not a suspect in the US$4bil probe into 1Malaysia Development Bhd, said the Office of the Attorney-General in Switzerland.

"In the ongoing criminal proceeding of the OAG, Mr. Najib Razak is not one of the public officials under accusation," Andre Marty, the spokesman for OAG, told the Nikkei Asian Review.

Marty added that the phrase "persons unknown" in Swiss law refers to  criminal proceedings where there is a reasonable suspicion that an offence has been committed, but the accused is not known.

The OAG had opened criminal proceedings last August against two former 1MDB officials as well as "persons unknown."

Last week, Switzerland's chief prosecutor Attorney General Michael Lauber  said he had formally asked Malaysia for help with his probe into possible violations of Swiss law by 1MDB, saying suspected misappropriations amounted to about US$4bil.

Lauber said the request pertained to possible violations of Swiss laws related to bribery of foreign officials, misconduct in public office, money laundering and criminal mismanagement at 1MDB.

Lauber's statement came after A-G Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali absolved Najib of any criminal wrongdoing in the probe in SRC International Sdn Bhd and RM2.6bil political donation.

Apandi later responded to Lauber saying his office would take all possible steps to follow up and collaborate with Switzerland and we look forward to their investigations and materials through the normal channels.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Mukhriz likely to be sacked this evening

Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir may be sacked as Kedah Mentri Besar by Monday evening, according to highly-placed sources.

The Regency Council reportedly met him shortly after midday to ask him to resign.

However, the defiant Mentri Besar refused to sign the resignation letter that had been prepared by state officials.

It is learnt that this is the second time he had refused to step down.  The first instance was on Friday. 

The Regency Council is, at this moment, meeting the Barisan Nasional assemblymen individually to assess where they stand on the issue.

If the Regency Council is satisfied that at least 19 assemblymen are not with Mukhriz, then a termination notice is likely to be issued to remove him from office.

A simple majority of 19 assemblymen is required in the 36-seat state legislative assembly as a declaration that Mukhriz no longer has the support of the state assembly.

In a related development, Mukhriz's supporters have planted dozens of banners around the stadium area criticising those out to unseat him, and accusing them of disrespecting the monarch.

The banners are believed to have been placed to set the mood ahead of a football match scheduled for Monday night.

Kedah sources said they expect Mukhriz to make a political speech at the stadium to rally support for his dilemma.

The Kedah political crisis erupted after 14 state Umno division chiefs and the heads of the party's three wings launched a mutiny against Mukhriz, saying they had lost confidence in his leadership.

Ahmad Bashah: Kedah BN assemblymen stand by call for change of MB

All 19 Kedah Barisan Nasional assemblymen maintained their call for a change of Mentri Besar during a meeting with the Prime Minister in Kuala Lumpur, says Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah.

Ahmad Bashah, who is Kedah Umno deputy chairman, added, however, that the assemblymen would accept whatever decision is made by Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

“All the 19 assemblymen who were at the meeting on Sunday afternoon maintained their stand.

“The speaker was also there, making the total 20 people present,” he told reporters after arriving at the Sultan Abdul Halim airport on Monday.

Asked on whether the stand of the14 Kedah Umno division chiefs would be conveyed to the Regency Council as well at the meeting later Monday, Ahmad Bashah said that it would, if requested.

He, however, declined to comment on the statement issued by embattled Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir on Sunday, calling for those plotting to oust him to apologise to Kedah Sultan Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah, the reigning Yang di-Pertuan Agong, for marring the Ruler’s birthday celebrations.

“If possible, we wish for the issue to be resolved soon as it’s been going on for long,” Ahmad Bashah said.

It was reported that Najib had met the Barisan reps at his private residence in Jalan Duta, Kuala Lumpur on Sunday.

Mukhriz, who is Ayer Hitam assemblyman, as well as Jitra assemblyman Datuk Aminuddin Omar were not present.

Sarawak polls: Announcement gives Adenan upper hand, says analyst

The decision by Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem to "announce in advance" the dates for the 11th state election has set the whole town talking.

Even tough he is no stranger to making bold decisions, Adenan, still managed to catch many by surprise when, at a function in Santubong late Friday night, he announced candidly that the state election is to be held on April 30 with April 18 set for nominations.

With the announcement, Adenan chose to move away from the norm of his contemporaries, who had preferred to keep the date a top secret until much later.

According to political scientist Assoc Prof Dr Jeniri Amir, the announcement indicated two things – one, that the 71-year-old 'supremo uno' was not only confident of winning the state election, but also of winning with a bigger majority. And secondly, that the state Barisan Nasional is already very well prepared to face the election.

This will be the first state election that Adenan leads as Chief Minister.

"What I can say is that he is confident. By choosing to reveal the proposed date a couple of months early, Adenan also intends to stop all speculation regarding the date," said the dean of the social science faculty of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas).

Jeniri told Bernama that the announcement also provides a level playing field to political parties from all sides ample time to get into gear.

"This is unprecedented. I think this should be the way forward for a mature democracy," he said.

In an immediate response to the announcement, the Election Commission said only it has the power to decide on the dates for nomination and polling, after the State Assembly is dissolved.    

"However, it is worth to note the EC will decide based on the proposed date submitted by the Chief Minister," Jeniri said.

He added that the preferred date was also strategically timed with the second 'Senada Sejiwa' programme, a state government programme that aims to boost the people's support for the government.

The programme was launched in early January with the finale scheduled to be held in Mukah on March 20.

"That was the biggest indicator that the state election will be held in April. The programme is also used to gauge the people's support for the ruling government," he said.

'Senada Sejiwa' was held as a prelude to the 10th state election in April in 2011.

In the last election, Barisan Nasional won 55 out of 71 state seats contested. A total of 82 state seats will be contested this time.

Salleh: Rakyat’s interests given priority despite economic challenges

The Federal Government will continue to give priority to the interests and welfare of the people even though the country is faced with challenging economic conditions, says Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak.

The Communications and Multimedia Minister said this was evident in the revised Budget 2016 tabled by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, which had taken into account the concerns of the people over current rising costs.

"Under any circumstances and situation, the interest of the people is top priority to the Government. In fact, this was emphasised by the Prime Minister when tabling the recalibrated Budget 2016.

"I believe a clear explanation must be given to the people, including to those in rural areas, so as to prevent them from being confused or misguided or diverted or deflected by those trying to fish in troubled waters," he said.

Salleh was speaking at a dinner in honour of Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob who was visiting the Kota Belud district, in Kampung Taun Gusi, here, on Sunday night.

Salleh said his ministry was ready to cooperate with all the relevant ministries, including the Rural and Regional Development Ministry, to explain to the people at grassroots level, about the revised Budget.

He said he believed that his ministry and the Rural and Regional Development Ministry had the responsibility to provide information to the people due to their extensive networks in rural areas.

Salleh added that he was confident the Rural and Regional Development Ministry could bring about major changes to rural communities through the transformation programmes such as “Membandarkan kawasan luar Bandar”, besides continuing efforts to defend Bumiputra interests.