Monday, March 21, 2016

Mahdzir explains why must-pass requirement for English in SPM postponed

The plan to make English a must-pass subject in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) was postponed because students and teachers were not ready for its implementation, said Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid. 

In his parliamentary reply, the Education Minister said this was based following a data surveillance and a specific simulation study on SPM results from 2011 until 2014.

"The results of that study showed that both the teachers and the students were not ready for the implementation of the must-pass requirement for the English subject.

"Therefore, the ministry had decided that the implementation would be postponed until SPM 2016," he said, adding that the move would give students and teachers the time to prepare.

He was answering to a question by Seputeh MP Theresa Kok who had asked when the ministry would implement the must-pass requirement for English in SPM, and at least a C for the Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR).

In January last year, the Education Ministry said it would go ahead with the plan to improve the standard of the English language in the country.

However, due to requests from several groups and teachers, the ministry had postponed its implementation.

Ridhuan Tee says treated like a terrorist by Singapore immigration

University lecturer Prof Mohd Ridhuan Tee Abdullah was barred from entering Singapore after he was questioned for two hours, claiming he was treated like a "terrorist".

Ridhuan said he was in Johor two months ago and "wanted to test the waters" if the Singapore authorities would allow him to enter.

"I wanted to test the waters and invited a friend to join me. At the time it was the school holidays and so the roads were jammed.

"When I was questioned by the officers, the jam got worse," Ridhuan told The Star Online.

"Those at the (Singapore) immigration counter told me that I had to go to the office. There, I was questioned for two hours.

"They took many mugshots of me and treated me like a terrorist. They did not only take my fingerprints, but took the prints from my whole hand!" he said.

Ridhuan, who wrote about the incident in his column in a Malay daily on Sunday, said the officers at Singapore immigration asked various questions. However, he was not told why he was denied entry.

"I was treated like a guilty person. They questioned me like I was a terrorist. What is my crime?

"I have never bothered others. I do not have any criminal record in Malaysia. They say that they are a democratic country with freedom of expression but the truth is that the situation there is much worse than Malaysia.

"Our system of democracy and freedom of expression is far superior than Singapore," he said.

According to Ridhuan, who lectures at a local university, the last time he visited Singapore was three years ago when he received an invitation for an event. He was pulled aside at the airport and questioned but was eventually allowed into Singapore.

"I believe this has something to do with my articles, because if you read my columns I always talk about Malaysian politics as my background is in political science.

"I always write about the 'ultra kiasu'. And as Singapore is known for their 'ultra kiasu' attitude, perhaps they they feel sensitive about this," said Ridhuan.

In December 2014, Tee was also barred from entering Sarawak.

Too many questions over Lim Guan Eng's bungalow deal

The Penang MCA has questioned if the sale of Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s house was genuinely on the basis of willing buyer-willing seller.

“This transaction raises too many doubts,” its deputy chairman Tan Teik Cheng said.

He said Guan Eng should clarify why the seller was willing to let go of the property at RM2.8mil.

Tan claimed that the seller had carried out renovations after buying the property in 2008 and that the property was reportedly worth RM6.5mil now with the soaring house prices in Penang.

He said Guan Eng paid about RM275 per sq ft for the 10,161 sq ft plot on which the double-storey bungalow sits.

Tan also said DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang should allow his son to be investigated rather than just only suggesting that Guan Eng open his house for a media inspection.

Meanwhile, Tasek Gelugor MP Datuk Shabudin Yahaya not only turned down an invitation for a one-on-one meeting with Guan Eng yesterday but called the invitation a cheap political gimmick which did not reflect the latter’s maturity as a chief minister.

“Why must the Bagan MP challenge me to a face-to-face debate? Or does he wish to have a coffee break with me?

“Sorry, I am not interested to entertain such an invitation.

“I am only interested to work with the MACC (Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission) for investigations into the house and the Taman Manggis land sale,” Shabudin told a brief press conference at his service centre in Tasek Gelugor.

He read from a prepared statement and did not take questions.

Shabudin also said he had never asked Guan Eng for a personal explanation when he raised the matter during the Parliament sitting on Thursday but was merely only raising the facts and questions for three parties to answer and explain.

He said the three parties were the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry; the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department who represented the MACC and the Property Evaluations and Development Department in the Finance Ministry.

“I feel Guan Eng is trying to divert the main focus from the issue raised in Parliament.

“The issue should not be lured out of Parliament and turned into a personal issue,” Shabudin said, adding that he was ready to be questioned by the MACC to disclose documents relevant to the case for investigation.

Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan also took to Twitter to slam Guan Eng’s house tour.

“Showing your house to reporters doesn’t mean the scandal is suddenly justifiable. It’s just gimmick. Just like when LGE boastfully says he is cleaner than clean because he declares his assets,” tweeted Abdul Rahman from his @mpkotabelud account.

Lim fired back, calling upon Abdul Rahman to declare his assets publicly.

“Failure is akin 2 a person killing his parents pleading 4mercy bcos he is an orphan,” he tweeted from his @cmlimguaneng account.

The twitter war continued with Rahman posting: “What’s the point of declaring asset publicly once every five years, and then buying a house wayyyyyyy below market price?”

Leaders: Dr M’s open letter won’t affect support for Najib

The open letter issued by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to Umno branch members will not affect Kelantan party members’ support for Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak as party president and Prime Minister, said state Umno chief Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.

He said the former premier’s action would not influence the members of the 2,000 Kelantan Umno branches.

“We have not found any branch leader who is not supporting Datuk Seri Najib’s leadership,” he told reporters at a gathering with the Wisma Persekutuan community here yesterday.

In an open letter via his blog on Friday, Dr Mahathir had called for a motion of no confidence to be tabled at the Umno branch meetings against Najib as party president and Prime Minister.

Supreme council member Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid, when asked to comment on Dr Mahathir’s action, said it was wrong as he was no longer an Umno member.

He believed Umno branch members would not be influenced by Dr Mahathir’s action.

Speaking after an event with Kelantan school heads and principals, he said he could not accept Dr Mahathir collaborating with DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang, who all this while had been labelled by Dr Mahathir himself as anti-Malay.

In Klang, another supreme council member, Datuk Irmohizam Ibrahim said party leaders and members would not be influenced by any effort to divide Umno and would stand solidly behind Najib.

“Umno members will uphold the party’s constitution,” he said.

Irmohizam, who is also the Member of Parliament for Kuala Selangor, said that Umno and the government should not be dragged into the political polemics of the Opposition, but new ideas should instead be sought to help the people.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Voice in viral video confirms conspiracy against PM

 A voice, believed to be that of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, has confirmed the existence of a conspiracy to topple the Prime Minister in a video clip that is going viral on social media.

However, the video only has a voice recording of an individual who sounds like the former Umno deputy president speaking over a montage of images, and the context behind his speech cannot be ascertained.

The words "9 Sept 2015. TSMY (Muhyiddin) admits that there is a conspiracy to topple Najib. TSMY admits that the special funds of Umno which is managed by the president is a routine practice going way back" appear at the beginning of the clip, which appears to be edited with the possibility that excerpts of speeches, or different parts of the same speech, have been stitched together.

The speech is believed to be at a closed-door meeting and it is unclear who is being addressed, but it is understood to be a group of people.

It is also assumed that the audio recording may have been taken before Muhyiddin's suspension from his party deputy president's post on Feb 26.

"Perhaps certain parties have predicted that there will be an extraordinary action from me, judging by Umno's history and the actions of Anwar Ibrahim after he was sacked, but I want to clarify that I am not Anwar Ibrahim. I am Muhyiddin Yassin," the voice says, to thumps from an audience.

"Regarding the issue of a conspiracy, here Datuk Zahid (inaudible), the conspiracy to topple the Government, I am not involved. Although that are efforts by certain parties who have invited me but I said no. I'm not a part of that. And thank you for your statement to say I am not involved in that.

"I know who is involved, I know what they want to do. Not to say that they want to topple the Government, but they want to change the Prime Minister. Even in that, I am not involved," he says.

At this point, a screen capture of a tweet by news portal Sarawak Report appears. It reads, "The charges against #Malaysian Prime Minister @NajibRazak" along with images of an alleged charge sheet which was later debunked by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

The sentence "Although he has denied involvement in the conspiracy but he has never reported this to the president or the Umno supreme council before he was sacked as deputy prime minister" appears edited above the image.

"In this, the deputy prime minister as (inaudible) must have Special Branch information and whatnot. I know that is the system of our government. The proof is that I am not involved. I know what I must do and I must be responsible over what I have done. If you (Datuk Seri) remember, I have never questioned, I have never asked. I became deputy president in 2009 until now, but I have never questioned the special funds. Because I know that the special funds are something that is managed by the president," the recording says.

On July 28 last year, Muhyiddin was sacked as deputy prime minister in a Cabinet reshuffle, after publicly questioning Najib. He was replaced by Home Minister and Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal was also dropped from his position as rural and regional development minister along with Muhyiddin in the reshuffle.

Barisan MP wants Guan Eng probed over land sale

A Barisan Nasional MP wants Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng to be investigated over the sale of a plot of state land originally allocated for low-cost housing projects.

Datuk Shabudin Yahaya (BN – Tasek Gelugor) claimed in the Dewan Rakyat that Lim, also Bagan MP, could be “directly or indirectly involved” in the sale of the land which was meant for low-cost houses to be rented out at RM100 a month for the hardcore poor.

“I was disappointed when I found out about this from sources. The land was sold by tender and is now slated for the building of a private hospital and a hotel suite,” Shabudin said during a debate on the Royal Address.

Shabudin also claimed that the sale of the land was linked to the purchase of a residential property in Georgetown by Lim on Oct 15 last year.

"Lim had rented a house owned by a Phang Li Koon, which he rented out for RM5,000 a month for seven years before buying it last year.

"At the time he rented the house it was worth RM2.5mil, but when he bought it after renovations and such, the house was sold to him for a mere RM2.8mil. How is that possible?” he said.

Shabudin alleged that the sale of land was carried out by a company owned by a person with connections to the house allegedly bought by Lim.

"Does the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry know of this? And did it have a discussion with the state government to allocate new plots of land as substitute for the one that was sold?

"I hope the ministry and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) do a thorough investigation into the matter,” he said.

Ex-elected reps start campaign against Dr M's citizen's declaration

The council of former elected representatives, Mubarak, and 42 non-governmental organisations have launched a joint statement to campaign against the citizens' declaration initiated by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Mubarak president Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Rahman said the declaration's intention to force Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to resign went against constitutional principles.

"The Citizens' Declaration is not a declaration of the people.

"Is it a haram (forbidden) declaration," Aziz told a press conference after signing the statement on Thursday.

The joint statement, among others, noted that attempts to remove the Prime Minister through the movement was unacceptable and could jeopardise national security.

It also noted that roadshows organised by the movement could incite the people to go against the government and cause instability like the Arab Spring in the Middle East.

Aziz said Dr Mahathir's position as Mubarak patron was automatically dissolved when he resigned from Umno.

Dr Mahathir, suspended Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang, PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, Amanah president Mohamad Sabu and former MCA president Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik were among those who signed the 37-point declaration seeking for the ousting of the Prime Minister.

Motion defeated, Najib's photo stays on wall of Nottingham University

A picture of Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will remain on the wall of King's Meadow Campus at his alma mater, University of Nottingham, in the United Kingdom.

The picture of the Prime Minister could have been removed had a motion by the Nottingham Malaysian Society calling for its removal was passed. But the motion tabled at the society's annual general assembly on Wednesday did not go through.

The motion, submitted by student Cassandra Chung, was to compel the society to lobby the university to remove the picture, following corruption allegations against the premier.

Chung was quoted as saying that the motion was "but a small step in changing the entire student activism landscape among Malaysians in the UK and Eire."

She hoped it was not the end of activism among Malaysian students in the UK.

It is understood that the debate on the motion centred around its impact on current and future government-sponsored scholars at the university.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

PAS, Ikatan seal 'third force' pact

PAS and Parti Ikatan Bangsa Malaysia (Ikatan) formally sealed an agreement on Wednesday to work towards political cooperation and to act as an opposition "by advising" the Government.

In announcing this at a joint press conference, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang said the new pact would focus on empowering the people and upholding the constitution.

He said the pact would take a mild approach in opposing the Government.

"We don’t want to be an Opposition which is extreme in going against the Government.

"We want to be a pact that opposes the Government by advising them. We will still give them credit when they do good for the people,” Hadi said.

Ikatan president Tan Sri Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir said Ikatan agreed to cooperate with PAS as it was not an “extreme” party.

"PAS practices Islam and Islam teaches its followers to respect other faiths. When we know what Islam is, we know that PAS is good for everyone,” he said.

Kadir said the new pact, seen as a third force in the local political scene, would engage the Government in solving the woes plaguing the people, especially when it comes to socio-economic matters.

On whether the cooperation signalled Ikatan’s agreement to PAS’ Islamic state agenda, Kadir said "it is not what PAS is about."

"There are so many things in Islam that we can focus on. But in certain circumstances, it could be better if (the implementation) is postponed.

"At the end of the day, it is the people who will decide. Islam also teaches its followers to tackle poverty, drugs abuse for example.

"Islam has a lot of other universal values that we should follow,” said Kadir, who is a former Federal minister, including holding the tourism and information portfolio.

Hadi, when asked of DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang's view that the bloc carried no weight to the political landscape, said: "Only God knows the future”.

Both parties signed a memorandum of understanding on the political cooperation.

PAS secretary-general Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan said the new group, which is led by PAS, comprised “like-minded political parties” and NGOs in a more neat and structured form.

“It is hoped that this new grouping will bring about a more mature political model that is clearly transparent, responsible and clean,” he said.

On contesting in the general election, PAS deputy president Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man said both parties had not made any decision.

"We have set up a secretariat consisting of a secretary-general, information chief, youth and women chiefs and election directors as well as five committee members.

"Only then we will decide,” he said.

Kadir said Ikatan will not be contesting in the upcoming Sarawak elections but will support their new ally.

Hisham: Anti-Najib campaigns won't shake Umno

Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein is confident that the anti-Najib campaigns to seek the removal for the Prime Minister will not hurt the party or the president.

Hishammuddin said that despite the many things that had been said against Umno and Malaysia last year, neither the party nor the country was affected.

"We just have to deal with it. They have been doing many rallies and  there have been many watersheds and predictions especially last year.

"With regards to the vote of no-confidence, (comments on ) budget not being approved,  world leaders not coming to Malaysia and that the Umno assembly was going to be messy but that didn't happen, none of it did," he told reporters at Parliament lobby.

Asked specifically on the 'Save Malaysia' gathering to be held on March 27, Hishammuddin, who is also Defence Minister, said 'it was just another rally'.

"We will deal with it. At the end of the day it is the public that makes the difference not the voices that are shouting loud.

"They do not represent the voices of the majority," he added.

On calls former Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyddin Yassin and former Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir to be sacked from the party, Hishammuddin said Umno members, not just the supreme council members, had urged him on the matter.

"Whatever it is, we have to wait until the meeting because we don't represent the supreme council.

"I have already said that the important thing with regards to this matter is party discipline and I think that will be an issue to be discussed at the supreme council meeting on March 25," he said.

He added that only the supreme council has the power to make a decision.

"Everyone can say whatever they like, but until the supreme council sit and deliberate nothing is confirmed," he said.

Najib chides Dr M now 'sitting together' with arch-enemies

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak hit back at Tun Mahathir Mohamad saying the former premier was now "sitting together" with his enemies who once labelled him a despot.

The Prime Minister said Dr Mahathir himself was faced strong opposition during his leadership.

"I know it's happening and there were a lot of things said about Tun Mahathir during his time too.
"He was addressed as 'maha zalim, maha firaun' (despot, pharoah) and now they are sitting together on the same table," Najib said in Parliament.

Rahman Dahlan: Bar's move against A-G 'can open up floodgates'

The Malaysian Bar's attempt to initiate a judicial review on the Attorney-General will open floodgates to other problems, Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan said.

"Malaysian Bar asking for judicial review on AG's exercise of his clearly discretionary powers could open up the Pandora box," Rahman, who is Barisan Nasional strategic communications director, tweeted on Wednesday via @mpkotabelud.

"If judicial review of AG's decision is allowed, then it is conceivable that those being accused by the AG will also ask for it!" he wrote.

The Bar filed a suit on Monday at the Kuala Lumpur High Court against Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali over his decision to close a corruption investigation into Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

The A-G and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission were named as respondents.

Rahman stressed on some facts of the case, and reiterated that the A-G's decision was consistent with Malaysia's laws.

"Now let's go specific on PM's case which Msian Bar is focusing on. The Bar should know some facts," he said.

Rahman, also Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister, explained that the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) donations and transactions were approved by Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM), therefore there was no way for the transactions to proceed without BNM's approvals.

"BNM approvals also meant the money was legitimate. The Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) then has very little reason to press for corruption," he said.

"Political donation is legal and Umno gives its President vast discretionary powers to raise and keep the money. MACC itself has concluded the donation came from Saudi Arabia.

"Malaysian Bar must state clearly where the AG has erred because the facts above show the AG's decision was consistent with the laws," he said.

The Bar sought to review the Jan 26 decisions that no criminal offence had been committed by Najib in respect of the three investigation papers submitted by MACC.

The A-G had also instructed the MACC to close the three investigation papers.

Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru said ensuring the power of the court to decide on the innocence or guilt of a suspect should not be usurped by the A-G, and was a matter critical to public interest.

Thiru said the discretionary prosecutorial powers conferred on the A-G by Article 145(3) of the Federal Constitution were not absolute or unfettered, and could be challenged via judicial review.

The review sought four court orders, including setting aside the A-G's decisions to exonerate the Prime Minister and instructing the MACC to close its three investigation papers.

It also sought to disqualify the A-G from making any further decision on matters covered by the MACC's three investigation papers.

Should the A-G be disqualified, the Bar would apply for the Solicitor-General to exercise the functions of the A-G in relation to the request by the MACC (as per the Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Act 2002) to complete its investigations into the RM2.6bil donation.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Adenan Satem recalls close shave with death

Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem spoke of his close shave with death due to a heart ailment three years ago and how he was "ready to go".

He said God had given him a new lease of life to "do what I have to do".

"Three years ago I was very sick. I was at the IJN (National Heart Institute in Kuala Lumpur) and in Singapore. And there was a time I thought I was going. I called all my relatives, my children and grandchildren.

"They all came and you know when you called all your children and grandchildren, you know what it's all about. I was ready to go. But God is great and I recovered and I was back to normal," he told Bernama in an interview at his office here.

"When God gives me a new lease of life, he must be trying to drop a message to give me a hint of what I have to do".

Adenan, who took over from Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud two years ago, went on to say that he had been very lucky in life and that God had been very kind to him.

"I have a very good life and so on, even a successful one, and I owe it (to myself) to help those who are less fortunate than I am," he said.

And he revealed his philosophy in life and in doing what he did as a leader, he would always ask himself if his late mother would have approved of it or not.

"That is my policy, I would ask myself until today if my mother would give her blessing," he added.

Sarawak government abolishes quit rent

Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem on Tuesday announced that the state government had abolished payment of certain land-quit rents.

"Referring to the announcement made on Feb 26 on 'The remission of land rent', I would like to specify that this remission will apply to smallholder agriculture land which is less than 100 acres and residential land.

"With effect from March 15 land rent shall no longer be charged on these land. All arrears and surcharges, if any are hereby waived," he told a press conference.

He said the decision would affect 360,422 titles with land rent amounting to RM8.58mil or 19% of total land rent.

"173,752 titles are smallholder agriculture land (less than 100 acres) with land rent amounting to RM3.62mil or eight percent of total land rent and 186,670 titles are residential land with land rent amounting to RM4.96mil or 11% of total land rent," he said.

According to Adenan, Sarawak is the first and only state to make such decision.

When asked about those who had already paid up in advance, he said the state government would refund them.

Meanwhile, he said the Cabinet would discuss matters relating to assessment rates for residential, commercial and industrial properties, from time to time.

"The Cabinet will discuss the matter and also whether July 22 should be made a public holiday in Sarawak to commemorate our self-government. I will make the announcement on these two matters later on," he said.

Adenan says sorry over 'Najib should get Iban wife' remark

Tan Sri Adenan Satem has apologised if his remark telling the Prime Minister to get an Iban wife offended anyone.

The Sarawak Chief Minister said it was just a joke and made in a light-hearted manner.

"Even the Prime Minister himself was laughing. He knew it was meant as a joke.

"But if some people are offended by it, I am sorry and I tender my apology," he said here on Tuesday.

At the launching ceremony of the "Inclusive Malaysia, A Digital Nation" in Kuching last Saturday, Adenan had jokingly said Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak should get an Iban wife.

Speaking in a mixture of Iban and Bahasa Sarawak, the Chief Minister was praising Najib for making frequent visits to the state, when he quipped: "Thank you, all corners of Sarawak, you have been to. The only thing left is that he can't speak Iban yet. He can speak Bahasa Malaysia, English but not Iban. I have advised him if he wants to find a new wife, go find an Iban. I'm just kidding."

Reaction to the joke had been mixed, with some finding it made in goodwill and others expressing unease.

On Monday, the Sarawak Dayak Association said it was an inappropriate statement for a Chief Minister to make, and that some had taken it as an insult.

"If no one from the community reacts negatively to his statement, then he might assume that all Ibans agree with his statement, even if it was just a joke for him," said its secretary Bill Kayong.

"He should not have made the statement at an official function.

"He should concede that it was a mistake, which some have considered an insult.

"The honourable CM should take back the statement and apologise," Kayong added.

Zeti: Malaysia economy is diversified

Malaysia is not affected by the drop in oil prices as much as the market had expected it to be, said Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz.

“The market did not really take into account that we have already restructured our economy, wherein the services sector now constitutes some 55% of our economy while the manufacturing sector is 25%,” Zeti told a press conference here yesterday.

“Therefore, 80% of our economy is not about oil and gas. Granted, we are affected to a certain extent when oil prices come down, but we are not devastated, and as a result, we are able to manage this to grow between 4% and 5%. In fact, in 2015 we had a growth of 5%,” she said.

She stressed that the country’s economy had successfully diversified itself long ago.

“It is the same with government finances. Previously, 40% of government revenue was from oil and energy, but now, the Government has introduced reforms to remove subsidies and this is only now 20% and reduced by half,” Zeti said.

Meanwhile, she expects the ringgit to more accurately reflect the country’s strong fundamentals over the medium term.

“Our fundamentals are now that we have a current account surplus and we have an inflow of foreign direct investments (FDIs) in our current account. Malaysia is a country that has always received FDIs for more than a hundred years,” she said.

“This has continued till now and we are a profit centre for investors. Having these two surpluses has supported our currency, and also our reserve levels are very healthy,” she added.

Zeti also said that Malaysia had a very solid banking sector that intermediates all sorts of financial flows.

Aussie journalists to be deported immediately

The two Australian journalists, who were told they would not be charged for trying to ask the Prime Minister questions on Saturday, are expected to leave the country immediately.

Their lawyer, Albert Tang, told The Star the duo from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation would be at the police station to settle their  bails, after which they would be heading straight to Kuching International Airport.

State CID chief Senior Asst Comm Dev Kumar in a statement Tuesday morning confirmed that ABC's Four Corners journalists Liston Besser and Louie Eroglu would not be charged.

"Police investigation papers were submitted to the Deputy Public Prosecutor on March 14 (Monday). The next day the police received instructions from the DPP that no charges will be filed against the two.

"Instead they will be deported from the country in pursuant with Section 18 (3) (h) of the Immigration Act 1959/63," he said.

The statement was an about turn from SAC Kumar's own comments to reporters around 11pm Monday when he said the duo would be charged and Tang had been informed to produce Besser and Eroglu in court by 8.30am.

The journalists were arrested at Kota Sentosa at 8.35pm on March 12 for failing to comply with police instructions not to breach the security line during the Prime Minister's visit to a mosque.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Cabinet halts intake of new foreign workers, says Zahid

The Cabinet has decided to halt the recruitment of new foreign workers into the country, said Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

The Deputy Prime Minister said this also meant that the initial plan to bring in 1.5 million Bangladeshi workers was officially scrapped.

"There will not be one, let alone 1.5 million new foreign workers coming into our country.

"Employers who need workers will have to apply to legalise existing foreigners in the country without work permits or whose permits have expired," he told reporters after handing letters of appointments to new village Chiefs in the Bagan Datoh parliamentary constituency.

Ahmad Zahid who is also Home Minister said employers had until June 30 to legalise such foreign workers.

"The Government is bringing forward the deadline from Dec 31 because employers continuously ignore the chances given to then.

"Instead, the Government is criticised and pressured. If they can't hire anyone, they should just get the Malaysian Employers Federation, Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers and Malaysian Trade Union Congress to help them find locals to do the job," he said sarcastically.

Ahmad Zahid said following this, employers and recruitment agents would be dealt with more severely.

"We will be pushing for those found guilty of trafficking and harbouring illegal workers to be caned.

"Right now, they are not afraid because they think they can get away by paying a fine but that will not be the case anymore," he said.

Ahmad Razif has support as Terengganu MB, says Idris Jusoh

Efforts to unseat Terengganu Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman have failed, said Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh. 
Idris, a former Terengganu Mentri Besar himself said the state is calm and supportive of Ahad Razif.
"Terengganu is calm and the support for Ahmad Razif is improving. I believe he will be able to govern the state smoothly during his time in office. 

"We will continue to support Ahmad Razif to carry out his duties as the Terengganu MB," he said during the Putra-Makna Run 2016 on Saturday. 

On Tuesday, Datuk Ahmad Said who was the previous Mentri Besar had moved a motion of no-confidence against his Umno colleague Ahmad Razif. 

Speaker Datuk Mohd Zubir Embong rejected Ahmad's motion, citing a two-week notice was not given when Ahmad proposed the motion. 

Ahmad Said, who is Kijal assemblyman, was replaced as Mentri Besar back in May 2014 by Ahmad Razif. 

Ahmad Said was appointed Mentri Besar of the state in the 2008 elections, taking over from Idris Jusoh.    

Najib: Citizens’ Declaration is all about Dr Mahathir’s personal agenda

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has pooh-poohed Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's "Citizens’ Declaration", labelling it a personal agenda.

Najib said the Dr M-led movement lacked representation from east Malaysia, and was not a "people's" declaration in the true sense of the word.

"There is a group led by a person, who the Sarawak Chief Minister referred to earlier, who was a leader for 22 years. He held an event to announce a people's declaration, but in truth, it is not a people's declaration.

"Don't make a people's declaration to confuse the people. Don't make a personal agenda a people's agenda. It is not about the people, it is about your personal agenda.”

"That declaration was neither determined, written nor agreed upon by the rakyat of Malaysia. A large portion of Sarawakians, for instance, do not agree with what has happened," Najib said at the launch of the ’Inclusive Malaysia, A Digital Nation’ (Minda) at the Kuching Waterfront on Saturday morning.

Najib said his own policies, such as building the Pan Borneo Highway in east Malaysia, was the real "rakyat's agenda".

He said states left behind in development must be brought forward.

"That is the agenda of the rakyat," he reiterated.

Earlier, Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem said Najib had visited Sarawak 46 times since becoming Prime Minister on April 2009. Adenan claimed this PM had visited the state more times than all five previous prime ministers put together.

"Forty-six times already. Today is his 47th visit, make it 50 soon. Why (does he keep coming)? Because he 'sayang' us. He never comes empty handed. His hands are always full. He has allocated millions, billions of funds for us. Thank you. Please add more," Adenan said.

Judging by the number of visits, what the Opposition has said about Najib only visiting when elections were near was untrue, Adenan added.

Without mentioning any names, Adenan then turned his attention to a former PM. He said there was a leader of 22 years who rarely visited the state.

"We love the Prime Minister because he loves us," Adenan said.

Najib is in Sarawak for a three-day visit. Last night, he visited Kubah Ria, near a popular weekend market at Petra Jaya. Later this afternoon, he will visit a PR1MA housing roadshow at the Old State Legislative Assembly Complex.

On Sunday, the PM, his deputy and Adenan will unveil details of the third Pan Borneo Highway package, which is from the Serian roundabout to Pantu junction.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Papagomo fined RM4,300 for assaulting foreign worker

Blogger Papagomo has been fined RM4,300 for three counts of assault of a foreign worker.

The controversial blogger, whose real name is Wan Mohd Azri Wan Deris, 33, pleaded guilty to all three charges read before Magistrate Husna Dzulkifly.

He was charged under Section 323 of the Penal Code for slapping, punching and kicking Pakistani worker Khuram Shahzad in front of ED-03-03A at Starparc mall, Wangsa Maju here at 1.30pm on Jan 29.

Court proceedings, which began at 11.30am, were adjourned until 2.30pm as technical difficulties were encountered when trying to replay a video of the assault.

The father of four was represented by lawyer Azizzul Shariman Mat Yusoff while Deputy Public Prosecutor Ahmad Zikri Jaafar acted for the prosecution.

In pleading for leniency, Azizzul said his client did not have any previous criminal records and did not commit the offence blindly as mentioned in the statement of facts.

Ahmad Zikri, however, argued that Wan Mohd Azri should not have taken matters into his own hands and should have respected the law.

The accused was ordered to pay RM1,000 or two months’ jail in default for the first charge, RM1,500 for the second charge and RM1,800 for the third charge.
It was earlier reported that Papagomo had assaulted a man believed to be a foreign worker in a four-minute video clip that went viral on social media.

Papagomo pleads guilty to assault of foreign worker

Blogger Papagomo has pleaded guilty to three charges of assault at the magistrate's court here.
The controversial blogger, whose real name is Wan Mohd Azri Wan Deris, nodded when asked if he understood the nature of all three charges before Magistrate Husna Dzulkifly here on Friday.

Court proceedings have been adjourned until 2.30pm as technical difficulties were encountered when trying to replay a video of the alleged assault.

He was charged under Section 323 of the Penal Code, which carries a maximum of one years' jail, a fine or both if convicted.

He was represented by lawyer Azizzul Shariman Mat Yusoff, while Deputy Public Prosecutor Ahmad Zikri Jaafar acted for the prosecution.

It was earlier reported that Wan Azri had assaulted a man believed to be a foreign worker in a four-minute video clip that went viral on social media.

He claimed that the man had harassed two of his younger sisters and two of their friends.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Taib’s son ordered to pay RM30mil

Sarawak governor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud's former daughter-in-law has been awarded RM30mil in mutaah claim by the Syariah High Court here.

Syarie judge Muhamad Abdul Karim Wahab delivered his verdict in the presence of Shahnaz A. Majid and Datuk Seri Mahmud Abu Bekir Taib, both 53, on Thursday.

Other than the RM100mil mutaah claim, Shahnaz had filed an application to get RM300mil in matrimonial property as divorce settlement and 50% of all assets owned by Mahmud and Shahnaz. These included luxury cars, houses in various locations, land in Sarawak and shares in several companies.

The couple married on Jan 9, 1992, and their divorce was confirmed by the Syariah High Court on May 11, 2011.

On Feb 26, 2013, the Syariah High Court granted an order by Shahnaz requiring Mahmud to pay an interim maintenance of RM902,746.69. This was for expenses incurred for their son, who was born in 1993, from the time she and Mahmud divorced on March 11, 2011.

Shahnaz had filed claims for an education trust fund of RM40mil, a RM60mil terrace house in London, seeking tuition fees in Britain amounting to RM315,000, two Aston Martin cars, air travel for six times a year, RM10,000 for books, RM72,000 pocket money, RM5mil medical insurance and monthly pocket money for two years totalling RM72,000.

Shahnaz later told reporters that she was happy with the verdict. Mahmud's Syarie counsel, Datuk Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar, said his client was very disappointed and would file an appeal and stay of execution tomorrow.

PAS to form new opposition bloc with multiracial party on March 16

 PAS will set up a new opposition bloc with a multiracial party on March 16, said its secretary-general Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan. 

He told reporters in Parliament Thursday that the Islamist party would only be working with those who have similar objectives.

The signing will be at the PAS headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

According to Takiyuddin, PAS would not be working with Pakatan Harapan. 

Asked if Umno was involved, he said PAS would only work with the party on issues relating to Islam.

"Umno is definitely not with us. They are fighting among themselves about Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir,” he said.

He added that more parties including NGOs would be joining the new pact to allow them to stand on par with Pakatan Harapan.

"We are quite big now, with over one million members," said Takiyuddin, adding that the new opposition bloc would be a "third force".

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Najib says won't answer to SRC queries based on news reports by loshana k shagar

The Finance Ministry has chosen not to answer two Opposition lawmakers’ questions about funds from SRC International Sdn Bhd allegedly channeled to the Prime Minister’s private bank account.

In written replies to Wong Chen (PKR – Kelana Jaya) and Tony Pua (DAP – Petaling Jaya Utara), Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the questions were based on news reports where the authenticity of information could not be determined.

“As per Standing Order 23(1)(i), this matter does not need to be answered because it is a question that seeks clarification based on a matter raised by the media,” said Najib, who is also Finance Minister.

Wong had queried which authority had approved the transfer of RM42mil from SRC International to a private account owned by Najib without his knowledge, and if the entire sum had been returned.

Pua had asked if SRC International made payments of RM170mil between July 8 and Aug 8, 2014 to Syarikat Putra Perdana Construction, and why RM27mil of that amount was channeled to Najib’s bank account.

“The RM170mil had been given to Syarikat Putra Perdana Construction as payment for a turnkey project, which was later cancelled, and the money returned in full to SRC International,” said Najib to Pua’s question.

Ahmad Said skips sitting after failed bid to oust MB

 Kijal assemblyman Datuk Seri Ahmad Said, who tabled a motion of no-confidence against the Mentri Besar, was nowhere to be seen at the state assembly sitting on Wednesday.

However, his aim to dethrone Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman is expected to be pursued by the 14 PAS and one PKR opposition assemblymen.

Ahmad, a former mentri besar, moved the motion of no-confidence against Ahmad Razif on Tuesday. It was rejected by the Speaker  Datuk Mohd Zubir Embong, sparking an uproar in the House.

The Opposition members are expected to press on for the motion to be accepted by the Speaker.

PAS assemblymen were tight-lipped over what they planned to do when the sitting resumed on Wednesday.

Outside of the Dewan, some 300 people from Umno and the public gathered to show their support for Ahmad Razif.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Speaker rejects no-confidence motion against Terengganu MB

The Terengganu state assembly speaker has rejected a no-confidence motion against Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman.

When the state assembly sitting resumed after lunch break at 2.50pm, Speaker Datuk Mohd Zubir Embong rejected the motion by former mentri besar, Datuk Seri Ahmad Said, citing Article 33 (3) and 33(11) of the state's Constitution.

Mohd Zubir said Ahmad Said did not follow procedures in that a two-week notice must be given when tabling the motion.

After going through the Constitution, he said, he came to the decision to reject the move and the ruling was final.

This caused a stir in the Dewan with the Opposition assemblymen questioning the Speaker's decision. They said Article 14(6) of the Constitution states that a motion can be brought before the Dewan without prior notice given to the Speaker.

Ahmad Said, who is Umno's Kijal assemblyman, tabled the motion while debating on the motion of thanks on the Sultan of Terengganu's speech. 

He claimed that the administration of Ahmad Razif of Umno had tried to ridicule him in matters relating to housing, the setting up of Kuala Nerus district and fast food outlet Chicken Cottage.

Najib, Zahid, Hisham on Daesh kidnap list

Daesh targetted the Prime Minister, Home Minister and Defence Minister for kidnapping last year.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, also Home Minister, said he, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein were targeted by the group.

"On Jan 30, 2015, a total of 13 people with ties to Daesh (IS) had planned to kidnap the leaders, including the Prime Minister (Najib), Home minister (Zahid) and Defence Minister (Hishamuddin Hussein)," Zahid told the Dewan Rakyat.

He said this in a reply to Datuk Abdul Manan Ismail (BN-Paya Besar) who asked the Home Ministry to state the success of police in preventing terrorist attacks planned by IS in the country.

Zahid said  police prevented four incidences of attacks in Malaysia by Daesh.

In September 2014, there was a plan by the group to test improvised explosive devices in Kedah.

Other attempts included attacking places of worship, and entertainment outlets in the country.

"They also wanted to destroy the Free Mason Lodge in Bukit Jalil," Zahid said.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Wan Azizah: It’s Dr M who needs Opposition’s support

 It is Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who needs the support of the Opposition, not the other way around, Pakatan Harapan says.

“How many MPs does he have? He needs us,” said Opposition leader Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail  at a press conference here in Parliament on Monday.

She added that the citizen’s declaration spearheaded Dr Mahathir served as admittance that the Barisan Nasional system had damaged the country.

“It does not change the views of Pakatan and the main agenda for us is to free Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim from prison.

“He is a political victim and he needs to be let out,” she said.

On whether Dr Mahathir was agreeable to it, the Permatang Pauh MP said it did not matter.

“It does not matter what he thinks about it. This has always been our agenda, along with government reforms.

“With regard to whether or not I have forgiven Tun, it’s not about vengeance, not about revenge. It’s about the country,” she said.

She added that for Pakatan, it is business as usual.

PKR strategic director Rafizi Ramli noted that the citizen’s declaration was just repeating what the Opposition had been talking about all along.

“What makes it significant is that Barisan and Umno leaders are a part of it,” he said

Dr Wan Azizah said Pakatan would be conducting roadshows around country to get the support of the people and extended invitations to Dr Mahathir and suspended Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyddin Yassin to join.

On an unrelated matter, she announced that Pakatan would hold a gathering on April 2 to protest against the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

“April 2 is the one year anniversary since (the tax) was implemented, so we want to have this gathering to protest against it here in KL,” she said.

Ku Li not supporting Citizens' Declaration

Umno veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah has denied signing the Citizens' Declaration, saying he does not support it and he did not even know about it.

Asked by reporters in Parliament on why his name was listed among the signatories, Tengku Razaleigh said he wasn't there.

"I did not go, I do not support (it), and I didn't even know about it," he said.

Asked about the online campaign to support the Prime Minister, Tengku Razaleigh said he supported it.

"I fully support Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his efforts because he has brought this country to a better place," he said.

Commenting about the suspension of Tan Sri Muhyddin Yassin as Umno deputy president, Tengku Razaleigh said the action was not necessary.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Annuar: Muhyiddin never raised issues, why now?

Tan Sri Annuar Musa questioned Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin's "sudden change" in attitude to become more outspoken, giving the perception he has "vested interest."
Annuar, recently appointed Umno information chief, said he never knew Muhyiddin to be vocal in raising issues within Umno throughout his political career.

He said Muhyiddin, who was suspended as deputy president last week, never raised issues he was concerned about at supreme council meetings.

"We all, in the supreme council, know that Muhyiddin had never made much noise in the meetings, let alone being outspoken.

"For the past 25 years that I have been in the council, Muhyiddin was never known to be vocal. But what he is doing now is a total opposite," Annuar, the Ketereh MP, said in a statement.

Because of this, Annuar said, many in Umno questioned Muhyiddin's sincerity in "this sudden change of attitude."

"Now there is a perception that Muhyiddin is doing all this because he has a vested interest.

"This is the reason why he is being rejected by almost all supreme council members and the divisions," he said.

Annuar welcomed Muhyiddin's decision to stay in the party, saying leaving would not be a "smart option" in the current political context.

"Now that he wants to remain in the party, we hope Muhyiddin can consider changing his behaviour," he said.

Annuar reminded Muhyiddin to assist the president, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, in navigating the party and not ruin the leadership.

"Don't get carried away with the idea that Najib should be toppled, as this could backfire," he said.

On Thursday, Muhyiddin told a press conference he would stay on in the party and "fight from within" and continue to criticise the leadership.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Salleh Said: No such thing as absolute freedom of speech

Freedom of speech and the expressing of one’s opinion must be treated as a privilege rather than an absolute right, says Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak .

“And privileges, if abused, can sometimes be withdrawn. There is no such thing as absolute freedom of speech,” the Communications and Multimedia Minister said in a blog post on Thursday.

Salleh said that even the West – where the limits of freedom have been pushed beyond “what we in the East can accept and consider as acceptable” – has laws that regulate matters concerning slander, defamation, degrading, racism, sexism, and more.

Advancement and learning is founded upon discourse, but the exchange of ideas and opinions has to be done in a constructive, civil, and mature manner and with decorum and decency.

“Running someone down or the hurling of insults would be the opposite to all this. You would be considered uncouth to not observe proper rules of engagement,” said Salleh.

He added that problems arise when people hide behind freedom of speech and pretend to seek discussion and debate, then disagree for the sake of disagreeing.

As politics is all about perception, the need to win the hearts and minds of the people intensifies as political disagreements escalate, he said.

“And this is when we adopt the Machiavellian doctrine of the end justifying the means by embarking on a campaign of lies and misinformation.

“We cannot claim the moral high ground and say that our cause is virtuous when we are neither noble or virtuous in our methods,” said Salleh.

He concurred with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s recent blog post, that people have a responsibility not to misuse the Internet as it is a shared property owned collectively by all global citizens.

“We must be able to differentiate between truths, half-truths, innuendoes, and lies and not regard everything as opinions that you are free to espouse,” said Salleh.

Adenan’s approval rating soars

The approval rating for Tan Sri Adenan Satem has soared to 85.5% as he prepares to face his maiden state election as Sarawak Chief Minister.

Adenan, who is widely expected to call the election in April, has received a thumbs-up across the board from Sarawak’s diverse ethnic groups, according to a recent survey headed by Assoc Prof Dr Jeniri Amir of Universiti Sarawak Malaysia.

His approval rating among the Iban, Bidayuh, Malay and Melanau is in the stratosphere zone of between 87% and 93%.

Dr Jeniri said the approval of these four native groups is crucial given that they comprise two-thirds of Sarawak’s 2.6 million population.

They like what Adenan has done so far such as abolishing bridge tolls, coming down on illegal logging and reducing electricity tariffs.

The survey also showed that 74% of Sarawakians approved of Adenan’s brand of Sarawak nationalism. They also want him to declare July 22, which marks the end of colonial rule in Sarawak, as their independence day.

However, Adenan’s standing among the Chinese stands at 64% compared with 74% for state DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen.

But Chong did not fare well among the native groups. His ratings among the four main native groups ranged from 35% to 51%.

State PKR chairman Baru Bian’s ratings among the native groups was better, ranging from 43% to 51%. The Bakelalan assemblyman’s approval rating among the Chinese stood at 61%.

“The Chinese like Adenan but the catch is that only 47% of the Chinese are expected to vote for Barisan Nasional in the state election,” said Jeniri.

The majority of the Chinese voters are likely to continue going for DAP even though they are not impressed with the opposition party’s Impian Sarawak, a programme aimed at reaching out to the rural voters.

The Chinese regard Chong, who is both an assemblyman and MP, as bold, vocal and able to voice issues of concern to the community. Some of them attribute policy changes taking place in the state to his check-and-balance role.

“The Chinese tsunami that began in the 2011 state election is still not over,” said Dr Jeniri, who is a leading authority on Sarawak politics.

Dr Jeniri said the current Chinese mood means that it would be tough for Barisan to take back any of the 12 seats that DAP won in 2011.

He said there will be a Chinese vote swing for Adenan but it may not be significant enough for the DAP seats to fall.

“Adenan has reached out to the Chinese. He said the Chinese are not pendatang. He gave funds to Chinese schools and the state has recognised the United Examination Certificate issued by Chinese schools. But they said it is not enough, they want real reform,” said Jeniri.

Barisan won 55 seats of the 71 state seats in 2011. The remainder were won by DAP (12), PKR (3) and an independent (1).

There will be a total of 81 seats up for grabs because an addition 11 seats were drawn out to accommodate the population changes.

Najib: Malaysia, Saudi ties at highest level

Ties between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia reached its highest level, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak after an audience with Saudi's King Salman AbdulAziz Al-Saud at his residence here on Wednesday.

Najib said his official visit to the kingdom had forged a stronger relationship between the two nations, which will bring many benefits from various perspectives.

Najib described the ties between the two countries as special and even family members, Cabinet Ministers and army top bras turned up at the luncheon hosted by the King.

"We were surprised by the warm welcome given to us, not only from His Majesty the King, but also from other royal members as well as Cabinet Ministers, top army, who turned up to welcome us.

"It symbolicly shows that the Saudi government has shown the utmost respect for Malaysia and the same message was conveyed during our meeting," he told the Malaysian community at a meeting.

He said King Salman conveyed the mesaage that the Kingdom was impressed with what Malaysia has achieved.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Dr Mahathir quote misconstrued, says Ismail Sabri

Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob says he was shocked to learn that people have criticised him for likening Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's quit move to a coma patient waiting for death.

The Rural and Regional Development Minister explained that he only used the analogy to describe the former prime minister's decision to leave Umno.

"I was only answering a question by the press, who asked me whether or not I was surprised by the move.

"I said I wasn't because his actions lately have clearly indicated that he could no longer be with the current leadership. Many expected him to leave the party.

"Hence, the analogy I made, which likened his move to a coma patient. If he dies, people would not be surprised because they have expected it," he said in a statement.

Ismail, who is also an Umno supreme council member, had drawn flak for his controversial remark against Dr Mahathir in an online portal report.

Ismail has, however, said it was unfair for people to attack him, as they were only "reading the misleading headline" without reading the whole article.

Dr Mahathir announced his resignation from Umno on Monday.

Najib: Umno unaffected by Dr M’s resignation

Umno will move forward and is not affected by the resignation of former party president Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Party president Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said that it was Dr Mahathir’s decision to quit but that the party will focus all its efforts on strengthening unity and preparing towards facing the general election.

“Usually if you want to resign, the biggest impact will be the first time.

“Many believe that it will not have a big impact or affect Umno’s position,” he told local media after speaking at the Jeddah Economic Forum (JEF) 2016 on Tuesday night.

He was asked to comment on Dr Mahathir’s decision to resign from the party.

Najib said that his mission now was to unite party members based on the mandate given to him.

“We must understand that I was elected via the most democratic and open process in Umno’s history from more than 160,000 delegates.

“I was not appointed based on the old constitution that requires at least 56 nominations from divisions to be nominated for the post,” he said.

Najib stressed that he is determined to carry on the mandate given by party members.

“I believe Tun Mahathir is not someone who will easily abandon something that he wants to do.

“However, it is his decision to resign. We will remain committed to our job and will not be distracted by anyone including him.

“Most importantly, we will continue to develop the country especially in facing the global economy and uncertainties,” he said.

Adopt right PPP model to ensure balance of interests, says Najib

The right public-private partnership model must be adopted in order for countries to achieve an equitable balance of public and private interests, says Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

He said Malaysia had learnt that one of the ways to reap maximum benefits from this approach was to have competitive bidding, and not a first come first served approach.

“As such, it is critical that right from the very onset, a right model is adopted. It is only with the right model that an equitable balance of public and private interests can be achieved,” he said in his keynote address at the Jeddah Economic Forum 2016, late Tuesday night.

The JEF 2016 is a platform that focuses on public-private partnerships, by debating solutions and discussing how to overcome challenges, explore business opportunities, and assess the economic benefits offered by Saudi Arabia.

Najib said that the public-private partnerships were essentially long-term concession agreements with long-term impact.

“Negotiators on the government side must match the capabilities and competencies from those representing the private sector. This is to ensure fair and well-balanced results,” he said.

Sharing the Malaysian experience, he said public-private partnerships were made one of the major thrusts of the 10th Malaysian Plan, along with the Economic Transformation Programme, which aimed to push the country into becoming high-income nation by the year 2020.

“In our country, the building of toll highways, ports, airports, flood tunnels, and Government offices, among others, have been made possible by PPP arrangements.

“As at Dec last year, Malaysia successfully implemented 754 PPP projects. Overall, the Government has saved a total capital expenditure of RM203.45bil and total operating expenditure of RM9.25bil. The total proceeds from sales of Government equity and assets stood at RM6.5bil,” he said.

Najib said that amid global uncertainties and turbulence, especially for oil and gas exporting countries, it was vital to diversify economies and increase the participation of the private sector.

“One of the key paths to achieve this is the development of public-private partnerships, and in Malaysia, we have a long history of successfully implementing this model.
“Projects like the North-South Highway, the Tanjung Pelepas port, the KL International Airport and the new administrative centre in Putrajaya have spurred Malaysia’s economic growth and created new areas of development, as well as improved accessibility and mobility,” he said.

Malaysia and Saudi partners in fight against extremism

Malaysia and Saudi Arabia will remain “inseparable partners” in the fight against extremism and terrorism, says Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

He said that both countries remain committed to fight forces that have unleashed chaos, death and destruction in the Middle East region.

“We stand shoulder-to-shoulder with you in this fight, and we will never tire in the battle to defend the true authentic Islam,” he said in his keynote address at the Jeddah Economic Forum (JEF) 2016 here, late Tuesday night.

The JEF 2016 is a platform that focuses on public-private partnerships, by debating solutions and discussing how to overcome challenges, explore business opportunities, and assess the economic benefits offered by Saudi Arabia.

Najib said the Malaysian Armed Forces has been proud to participate in the largest military exercise in the Middle East, called Northern Thunder.

The cooperation, said Najib, will further cement coordination and cooperation between the 20 countries which gathered under Saudi Arabia’s leadership.

He also noted that the ties between the two countries were longstanding and deep, dating from as far back as the Malacca Sultanate in the 15th century.

“It has always been characterised by respect and the very best of friendship. Indeed, I am proud to say that we are like brothers,” said Najib.

He said Malaysians have always felt welcome when they visit Saudi Arabia, especially when performing Umrah or Hajj.

“This country has provided so much assistance to Malaysians here in many areas, including visa facilities and emergency relocation of students, which has been much appreciated by our people.

“I would like to personally thank the Saudi royal family for all their support over many decades.

“We will always appreciate it, and we will never forget it, from the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman Abdulaziz Al-Saud, to the late King Abdullah Abdulaziz Al-Saud, and their esteemed predecessors, we in Malaysia have been so very fortunate to have constant and trusted friends,” he said.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

1MDB refutes US$1bil payment to Najib

State investment fund 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) has once again denied that it had paid any funds into the personal accounts of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

The Wall Street Journal had on Monday reported that deposits into the personal accounts of Najib totalled more than US$1bil (RM4.16bil), with global investigators believing that much of it originated from 1MDB.

“It has been reiterated by multiple lawful authorities including the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, the Malaysian Attorney-General, and various reputable international publications, who have confirmed that these funds came from Saudi Arabia,” 1MDB said in a statement Tuesday. 

The company said that while the Wall Street Journal continues to repeat the same disproven allegations, the publication has not offered any conclusive evidence to support its claims, with its information from unnamed and anonymous sources. 

“This reliance on anonymous sources, who may or may not exist, betrays a lack of basic journalistic standards on the part of the Wall Street Journal and the fact that the publication has lost all semblance of balanced reporting,” said 1MDB.

Dr Mahathir Goes Against Principle Of Party Unity - Political Analysts

The move by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to quit UMNO is seen as contradicting the principle of unity in UMNO which he himself fought for when he led the country for 22 years.

Political analysts were of the view that the action of the former prime minister was unwise and seen more of a personal matter of Dr Mahathir against the leadership of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

"What Tun Dr Mahathir has done today is in conflict with what he had said when he was the UMNO president.

"I see Tun Mahathir's action today as getting too personal against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak," said Assoc Prof Dr Jeniri Amir, who is Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) Social Science Faculty senior lecturer.

Dr Mahathir, 90, today announced he was once again resigning from UMNO.

Before this, Dr Mahathir left UMNO on May 19, 2008 after he reportedly lost confidence in the leadership of then prime minister and UMNO president, Datuk Seri (now Tun) Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

"Each leader has his own ways and principles and Dr Mahathir is seen as demanding the prime minister to follow how he led this country," he said.

Jeniri said while the nation was facing serious economic issues, the action of the former UMNO president was seen as only jeopardising the image of Malaysia.

"Now is the time for the country's leaders to be united in facing the economic challenges which to me is more important and not to continue politicking," he said.

Prof Dr Ahmad Fauzi Abd Hamid, a political science lecturer at Universiti Sains Malaysia was of the view that Mahathir's action was more personal in his effort to pressure the leadership of Najib.

"This is a political game, after he failed to pressure from inside the party, now he is trying to push from outside," he said.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia geopolitical analyst, Prof Dr Mohd Fuad Mat Jali believed the action was more of a personal move which would not affect the solidarity of UMNO members.

"From the suspension of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as UMNO deputy president, we could see only a small section of UMNO members who do not support the party leadership," he said.

Tun M Willing To Sacrifice UMNO To Achieve Personal Agenda

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has been seen as a politician who is willing to sacrifice his own party in order to achieve his personal agenda.

UMNO Information chief Tan Sri Annuar Musa said Dr Mahathir's announcement to quit UMNO today was his latest move to get Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to step down as Prime Minister.

"The announcement to quit UMNO is one of his many strategies to 'defeat' Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, after his efforts to influence Members of Parliament and UMNO divisions failed.

"This new strategy is to paralyse and kill UMNO as a final move to bring Najib down," he said in a statement here today.

Annuar said history had proved that Dr Mahathir would not hesitate in giving away power to the opposition as long as he could defeat and get rid of the people he disliked.

"The UMNO-led Kelantan government was killed in Dr Mahathir's bid to defeat Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah; the UMNO-led Selangor government was sacrificed in his efforts to defeat Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim; and the Penang government was also ruined in his bid to bring Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi down," he said.

Annuar said Dr Mahathir was now willing to give Malaysia away in order to retain his unbeaten record of getting rid of people he disliked.

As such, he said UMNO members should not feel threatened by the antics of just one particular individual as UMNO struggles and principles must be upheld.

Dr Mahathir, 90, today announced he was once again resigning from UMNO.

Before this, Dr Mahathir left UMNO on May 19, 2008 after he reportedly lost confidence in the leadership of then prime minister and UMNO president, Datuk Seri (now Tun) Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Pak Lah Confident Najib Capable Of Shaping Malaysia's Future

Former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is confident that Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is capable of continuing the legacy of his father, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, in shaping the future of Malaysia.

Abdullah said since Najib took over the country's leadership from him on April 3, 2009, various transformation had taken place to bring Malaysia to greater heights.

According to Abdullah, the transformation programmes were not mere talks, as some had been implemented while others were being implemented and have begun to show incredible progress.

"I hope Datuk Seri Najib will be able to focus on these matters, so that when the country celebrates its 100 years of formation, Malaysia remains as a country that adheres to the principles of democracy, a country with a formidable identity.

"Malaysia will emerge as a country with highly skilled, creative and innovative workforce in achieving a high income economy...a country which fulfills its vast potential," he said when launching the 'Najib Razak Berjiwa Besar: Empat Dekat Menongkah Arus Kepimpinan dan Politik (1976-Kini) book here today.

Also present were the Prime Minister's wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, several ministers, deputy ministers and menteri besar.

"I am sure if the late Tun Razak is with us today, he would be very pleased to see the achievement made by his eldest son in filling in the vast gap that he had left," said Abdullah.

Abdullah said Najib had faced many challenges after 40 years in politics and his actions, planning and leadership would determine the course of the nation in approaching 100 years of independence.

At the end of his speech, Abdullah, fondly known as Pak Lah, advised Najib: "Stay true to the principles of your father. You have done well for Malaysia. But always remember that the most important thing a leader leaves behind is character.

"Political stability and economic success are important but remember character - integrity, honesty and empathy. That is how I remember your father and how I want you to be remembered too.

"Take this as an advice from an old man. Be a leader that is loved and respected. Not one that is feared and obeyed. I pray to Allah you will be guided to the right path for the future of our beloved country."

The 467-page book authored by Prof Datuk Seri Dr Khairil Annas Jusoh and Dr Sabri Mohamad Shariff tells about the trials and tribulations faced by Najib in his political career beginning from 1976 until his emergence as a respected leader today.