Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Pak Lah: Muhyiddin’s political plans will have no impact on Umno

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s plan to continue his political struggle by joining another party or setting up a new party will have no impact on Umno, says Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

“The support for Umno is still strong,” the former prime minister told reporters when met at a breaking of fast event organised by the Federation of Peninsula Malaysia Malay Students Association (GPMS) here, Tuesday night.

Also present was Higher Education Minister and GPMS adviser Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh and GPMS president, Zambri Mohd Isa.

On Sunday, Muhyiddin, in a media conference with Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, stated his intention to continue his political struggle via a new political platform.

However, both of them did not state in detail concerning the new platform, whether they would join another political party or set up a new party.

On Muhyiddin’s claim that he was loyal to Umno, Abdullah said: “If he is good, he will still be in Umno.”

Last Friday, the Umno supreme council sacked Muhyiddin and former Kedah mentri besar Mukhriz for indiscipline and for sharing the same stage with Opposition leaders to attack the Umno leadership.

Dr Mahathir questioned by police in Putrajaya

Police are currently questioning former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad at his office in Putrajaya.

Lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla confirmed that Dr Mahathir was being questioned by police at his office at the Perdana Leadership Foundation.

“It’s still ongoing. My team are there in the session. I was having a trial so I am on my way there now,” Mohamed Haniff told The Star Online.

As he was not yet present at the session, he could not share what exactly Dr Mahathir was being questioned about.

This is the second time this month that the former premier has been questioned by the authorities.

Earlier in June, Dr Mahathir was questioned at Yayasan Albukhary over his statement that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and Malay Rulers had been “placed under house arrest”.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Najib announces Cabinet reshuffle

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is set to announce a number of changes to the Federal Cabinet today.

In a press conference at about 3.15pm, he made the following announcements.

Second Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadzlah has resigned from his cabinet post.

His portfolio will be taken up by Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani.

"Husni has informed me of his wish to retire, so I respect that. He is quite ready to retire," said Najib.

He added that although there were no women in the reshuffle, they could be included at some point in time.

Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan has taken over from Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Wahid Omar in charge of the Economic Planning Unit.

Rahman’s former portfolio as Minister of Housing, Urban Wellbeing and Local Government will be taken over by Datuk Seri Mohamad Noh Omar.

Najib also said that Datuk Lee Chee Leong would be taking up the Deputy Finance Minister portfolio along with Datuk Othman Aziz.

Gerakan president Datuk Seri Mah Siew Kiong has been appointed Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister, replacing Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah.

Uggah who resigned to contest in the Sarawak elections was then appointed as one of the three deputy Sarawak chief ministers.

This Cabinet reshuffle by Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is the third since he retained his position as prime minister after the 13th General Election.

After arranging his Cabinet following the elections, the Pekan MP first reshuffled his cabinet in June 2014.

His Cabinet, the biggest in the Malaysian history was then reshuffled again in July 2015 where his deputy prime minister  Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was replaced by Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Abu Kassim: I was not pressured to step down

Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohammad says he was not pressured to step down as Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner, and the decision to do so was his own.

Abu Kassim said he chose to shorten his tenure as MACC chief two years ahead of time because he was offered to serve as a visiting expert at the International Anti-Corruption Academy (IACA).

"I said before that I would not step down due to pressure. This decision was my own to make.

"I have an opportunity to represent the country at an international level by serving at the IACA. It is a golden opportunity I could not ignore," said Abu Kassim at a press conference at the MACC headquarters here Thursday.

Abu Kassim's contract as chief commissioner was supposed to end on Dec 4, 2018, but the date was brought forward to Aug 1 this year.

When asked who would be his successor, he replied that the successor would be appointed by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, upon the advice of the Prime Minister, as per the MACC Act.

He said deputy chief commissioner (operations) Datuk Seri Mohd Shukri Abdull would be retiring in October.

"There have been many cases throughout my six years as chief commissioner. I am satisfied with how all of it has been handled.

"We have brought many changes to the MACC, and over the years we have received a lot of international acclaim for the way we do things here," he said.

Najib: Don't demean act of providing aid to the needy

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is disappointed with the increasingly excessive language employed by some parties during the holy month of Ramadan.

The Prime Minister said that Government aid, which is distributed to help the rakyat, was labelled as "memberi dedak kepada haiwan".

The phrase is a derogatory Malay term meaning "giving feed to animals", possibly implying that people, like livestock animals, follow whoever feeds them.

"The Barisan Nasional Government builds schools, houses and roads, all for the people, not to give them "makan dedak".

"'Dedak' is animal food, and it should not be likened with the aid provided as we are concerned with the rakyat's needs," wrote Najib on his Facebook page on Thursday morning.

He said those "without political clout" should not play with rhetoric and rough language, nor make fun of aid provided to the needy.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Kedah MB chairs state exco meeting at Penang Hospital

Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah, who is recuperating after a surgery, chaired the state executive council (exco) meeting at the Penang Hospital Wednesday.

From 10am, nine exco members were seen entering the meeting room in stages for the meeting at the hospital.

Also present was state secretary Datuk Bakar Din.

On June 4, Ahmad Bashah, 66, was rushed to the Kedah Medical Centre after he became unconscious while briefing a group of state Umno members who would be helping Barisan Nasional in the Kuala Kangsar parliamentary by-election, in Mergong at about 7pm.

He was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit of the Penang General Hospital around 2.30pm on June 5.

He underwent a five-hour surgery for intestinal complication the next day.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

AirAsia’s Aireen Omar takes MAHB to task

AirAsia’s growth has been stunted since it moved to its new base in 2014, after restrictions placed by Malaysian Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB), ranging from how to run its check-ins to the design of KLIA2, said chief executive officer Aireen Omar.

She said AirAsia have not been allowed to use their own automated check-in system that was used at the previous low-cost carrier terminal (LCCT).

This caused the airline to run long on their ideal turnover period of getting passengers through checkpoints in less than 25-minutes, she said.

"Even now you see people queuing in long lines, it’s a real nightmare for anyone to check in durng the peak perod because there are so many people.

“We don't understand the delay (by MAHB) to facilitate traffic.

“They forced us to use their check-in system, we refuse to use it but they made us.

“Their check-in system is less superior than ours and we were able to automate from end to end (in LCCT).

“But here they gave us a very basic system and for them to enhance it they charge us.

“This is something we are very, very frustrated with," Aireen told a press conference.

Aireen elaborated on the long-running issues of potholes and pondings on KLIA2's tarmac that further drives up its cost of maintaining their operations there.

"Its like we are running an airline in an airport that is still under construction," she said.

The woes do not stop there for AirAsia, she said.

Despite moving to KLIA2, its headquarters is still in the old LCCT, which has become a ghost town albeit the current construction work to redevelop the area into a logistics and cargo hub.

She said staff had to work in poorly maintained offices with construction work going on in the same building.

She said AirAsia still pays the RM260,000 monthly rent to operate in the vacant building, despite its value dropping since its closure.

On top of that, AirAsia pays for its own cleaners and maintenance of the building.

Aireen lamented that staff were made to walk long distances from the carpark and parking was also charged by MAHB.

"The building of our headquarters in LCCT2 was delayed because the DCA tower had to be moved. We are expecting to move in in October.

“In the meantime, we are telling MAHB that they have to let us stay here.

“Because it wasn't our fault that the whole thing got delayed. But unforunately, the state of the building has been neglected. They have forgotten there is a tenant here," she said.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Divorce case linked to top politician postponed

A divorce case involving former deputy public prosecutor Stanley Clement Augustin and his wife Nika Gee Siew Yee at a High Court here has been postponed.

A new date for the proceedings has yet to be fixed. Neither the parties nor their lawyers were present on Monday morning. The case was to be heard before Justice Datuk Siti Mariah Ahmad.

Augustin had applied for a divorce last year after alleging that his wife had an affair.

He had on Dec 7, 2015, made a Statutory Declaration (SD) claiming that his wife had engaged in an intimate relationship with a prominent political figure from Johor(name as Muhyiddin by RPK).

The SD claimed that Gee met the politician overseas and had received financial and material benefits from him.

The accused politician has, however, called the allegations slanderous, adding that it was ill-intentioned and unfounded.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Rafizi to be questioned today over ‘atomic bomb’ remark

Rafizi Ramli will be questioned by police on Thursday over his “atomic bomb” remarks at a recent ceramah.

In a statement, the Pandan MP said he would need to report in at the Kuala Kangsar district police headquarters at 2pm to give his statement.

He will be accompanied by lawyer Saiful Izham Ramli.

At a recent ceramah in conjunction with the by-election here, Rafizi had urged residents to vote for Amanah candidate Dr Ahmad Termizi Ramli, who is a former nuclear physicist, so that the latter could hurl an “atomic bomb” at the country’s leadership in Parliament.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Rosmah’s aide stopped from meeting Rafizi

A brief commotion occurred outside the Amanah operations centre here on Wednesday when an aide to Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor showed up for the press conference by PKR vice-president Rafizi Ramli.

 Rafizi had been scheduled to reveal further allegations regarding the use of a private jet by Rosmah, wife of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Reporters were aware last night that Rosmah’s aide, Datuk Rizal Mansor, planned to turn up at the press conference to rebut the allegations by Rafizi in person.

Rizal arrived around noon together with several other unidentified men and was seen shaking hands with Amanah candidate Dr Ahmad Termizi Ramli. However, when they asked to enter the building, Amanah staff stopped them from doing so. A verbal confrontation ensued between the two parties as Rafizi arrived and proceeded upstairs for the press conference. Rizal and his companions later left the premises after being repeatedly told that they could not enter on grounds that only media personnel were invited.

 Members of the media waiting in the room upstairs were subsequently asked by an Amanah representative to produce their media tags to verify their identities. “We just want to make sure that there aren't those who wish to cause disturbance," Rafizi said before the start of the press conference.

Malacca MCA slams DAP for 'bleaching' Amanah

Malacca MCA has slammed DAP for using the same tactics to promote Amanah to the non-Muslim community that it previously used on PAS.

Its secretary Datuk Koh Chin Han said in a statement that DAP had guaranteed that PAS would not be able to implement hudud law and that the Islamist party’s leaders were liberal and progressive.

“Once being in a untouchable position of power after GE13, PAS had shed its sheep’s wool and revealed its true colours by insisting on the implementation of Syariah criminal codes,” he said.

He said DAP was now using the same "bleaching tactics" on Amanah despite the fact that the party’s leaders had voiced their support for the implementation of hudud.

Koh pointed out that Amanah is an Islamist party and committed to reforming the secular and democratic system under the Federal Constitution.

“What makes the DAP leaders so confident that Amanah is upholding a secular and democratic system under the Federal Constitution?

“Which campaign leaflet of the party actually shows that?” he asked.
“Amanah is no different from PAS. DAP has empowered ‘one’ PAS, and Malaysia does not need another PAS in the future!” he said.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Najib: Proton’s golden era will be restored without Dr Mahathir

The golden era of Proton Holdings Bhd (Proton) is expected to be restored now that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s political interference in the national carmaker has come to an end, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

He said there had been too much political interference in Proton’s strategy management when the former prime minister was holding the Proton chairman post.

“Now, I am pleased to say, there have been significant changes at the top levels of Proton. Tun Mahathir’s era of political interference has come to an end.

“We saw the results of that early this year. A manufacturer which should be a source of national pride was facing a very difficult situation,” he said at the launch of the fourth generation of Proton Perdana here on Tuesday.

Dr Mahathir resigned as chairman of Proton effective March 30. He had held the post since 2014.

According to Najib, the Government had to step in again to assist Proton in order to protect Malaysian jobs, families who rely on Proton, and to protect the company’s business partners.

“We stepped in because the well-being of the people is always our first concern. We will never fail to support Malaysian workers and suppliers. We will always fight to ensure that no one is left behind,” he explained.

Najib, who is also Finance Minister, said it was time for lessons to be learned, and for serious measures and reforms to be put in place for Proton to get back on track and realise its potential once again.

“I am told that in anticipation of its launch, 900 units of the Perdana were pre-booked which shows the confidence that people have in this new model, and their desire for Proton to succeed,” he added.

“Proton’s new management tells me that they are confident that customers will not only like the Perdana’s elegant looks, they will also love the drive. 

“I am looking to getting behind the wheel myself before too long!” he said.

He added: “Let the new car and the new management of Proton be judged on their merits.

“I know that we all wish them every success in growing their sales, in leading in innovation, and ensuring the company has a bright future, both in terms of its products and the well-being of its hard-working employees.”

Najib: I never abused my position for personal interest

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has contended that he never abused his position for his personal interest.

The Prime Minister said that he does not exercise control over ministers, police, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission officers in carrying out their duties.

Besides that, Najib said he has not exercised any control over the powers and duties of the Attorney-General, who had on Jan 26 found that no criminal offence was committed by him in relation to SRC International and the alleged RM2.6bil donation.

Najib said he held the position of chairman of the board of advisors of 1Malaysia Development Board (1MDB) at all material times, and had announced that the Auditor-General would carry out an audit of 1MDB but was not responsible for the appointment of the Special Task Force.

He said this in his statement of defence over a lawsuit filed by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and two others against him for alleged misfeasance in public office.

Dr Mahathir, former Batu Kawan Umno division vice-chief Datuk Seri Khairuddin Abu Hassan and former Langkawi Wanita Umno member Anina Saadudin want Najib to pay RM42mil in aggravated damages to the Government.

In addition, Najib in his defence statement dated June 13, made available to media today, said he had not interfered with the due process of law.

“The defendant will further contend that he has not abused his position as the Prime Minister, Finance Minister, Barisan Nasional chairman and Umno president to further his alleged corrupt practices,” he said.

On Dr Mahathir, Najib said the former premier had the right to withdraw support for him and was entitled to voice his criticism on his weblog.

Najib added that police are entitled to question Dr Mahathir if an offence of criminal defamation is committed by the former prime minister and that it was not due to him.

Apart from that, he said the fact that Dr Mahathir had had his position as Petronas advisor terminated did not give rise to the filing of a suit.

On Khairuddin’s arrest on Sept 23 last year for an offence under the Securities Offences Special Measures Act 2012, Najib contended that it was not due to him.

On Anina, Najib said if she had any cause of action, action should be against the party or its office bearers.

In asking for the claim to be dismissed with costs, Najib said the plaintiffs had not suffered any personal losses.

He said that the claim for payment of exemplary and aggravated damages was directed to the Government, which was not a party to the claim.

High Court judge Justice Abu Bakar Jais set June 23 to hear an application by Dr Mahathir and two others to obtain leave to cross-examine Najib over content of his affidavit.

In the lawsuit filed in March, the plaintiffs also sought for the High Court to order the Prime Minister to pay RM2.6bil in exemplary damages to the Government.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Huan Cheng Guan sues Penang govt for defamation

Datuk Huan Cheng Guan is initiating legal action against the Penang government and Consortium Zenith-BUCG (CZBUZG) for defamation.

"I will see you in court," said the Parti Cinta Malaysia vice president Parti Cinta Malaysia in a statement on Friday.

Huan said this as a response to an announcement by CZBUZG on Thursday that they were going to sue Huan for defamation for making unsubstantiated accusations and disparaging remarks.

"Their press conference implies that I have lied when I had quoted known sources - including from the the Companies Commission (SSM) and various press statements from the DAP Penang state government.

"Instead of properly answering the valid questions asked and the concerns raised by various quarters including myself on the mega RM6.34bil Penang Tunnel mega-project, they had decided to threaten a lawsuit on me based on frivolous grounds," he said.

He pointed out that it was his right as a politician and a Penang resident to question on the matter.

"Let me remind the Penang government that these are billions of ringgit worth of public funds and state land that you are giving," he said.

Huan stressed that the act of CZBUZG announcing their intent to sue him gives out a perception that he was not being truthful.

"I have fought for the interest of the public with all the evidence I had gathered and forwarded it to the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC). If my evidence is based on falsehood, let the MACC punish me with their laws.

"I am forced to take this move to initiate legal action on both the company and the Penang government to protect my integrity and to avoid them tarnishing my reputation.

"By bringing this matter to court, I will be able to force the Penang Government to reveal the documents they refuse to declassify," he said adding that he can now get the answers to the many questions currently being asked.

CZBUZG is the special purpose vehicle set up to undertake certain infrastructure projects in Penang.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Rahman Dahlan: Guan Eng 'beating about the bush' with tunnel answers

The answers provided by the Penang state government in response to the many questions related to the Penang undersea tunnel remain unsatisfactory, said Barisan Nasional strategic communications director Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan.

Abdul Rahman, also Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister, said the responses to his queries appeared to be “beating about the bush” and “irresponsible”.

He pointed out that the answers given were unsatisfactory despite Penang Works Committee chairman and Bagan Jermal assemblyman Lim Hock Seng’s media statements and press conference on May 25.

“On three occasions I had asked whether it was true that the land given to Consortium Zenith-BUCG (CZBUCG) was immediately sold or agreed to be sold at prices between RM845 psf to RM1,300 psf. I also cited proof of such an agreement,” Abdul Rahman said in a statement.

“Instead of giving me a proper answer, YB Lim persisted with his insistence that the Valuation and Property Services Department (JPPH) valuation had valued the land in question at RM475 psf - and left it at that. Upon being pressed a fourth time, YB Lim then gave the surprising answer that any sale of land between CZBUCG and third-parties were 'private transactions',” he said.

Abdul Rahman said he found the answer “irresponsible” as the Penang DAP government had already paid in part and had agreed to transfer state land to the private company.

“That company then immediately signed to sell the land to another company at prices up to three times higher than the JPPH valuation. This was the very same valuation that YB Lim insisted was the land value. He then brushed me off by saying that sale were 'private transactions',” said Abdul Rahman.

Abdul Rahman also pointed out that the Penang government seemed to be paying for the full construction cost of the project, but still allowed the company to collect on a 30-year toll concession.

“I then suggested that this was an unprecedented arrangement never before seen in any other concession agreement in Malaysia - or the world,” he said.

“When asked if the full construction cost was paid for via the land transfer, YB Lim gave differing answers. At first he said the reason was that the Penang government had no expertise in maintaining the tunnel. In a later press statement, however, he said the company was also funding the construction cost and that it needed the toll revenue to recover their investment,” said Abdul Rahman.

He added that when pressed even further, Guan Eng "flip-flopped" in announcing that he may consider dropping the tunnel project to save RM2bil and do away with the 30-year toll if the Federal Government approves a third bridge instead.

“This is indeed a bizarre turn of events. At first, YB Lim (Guan Eng) had accused the Federal Government of not approving a third bridge. But when the Works Minister denied that there was any such application or request from the Penang government, YAB Lim said it was because he was not brave enough to send the request in the first place,” he said.

Abdul Rahman explained that Guan Eng subsequently wrote a letter to the Prime Minister instead of the Works Ministry, which is the usual process, to seek approval for a third bridge.

“However, he refuses to submit any documents to support his application. This highly-politicised application letter, together with the refusal to submit any documents to support the application leads us to conclude that YAB Lim (Guan Eng) is not sincere about the third bridge,” he said.

“According to YAB Lim, the Penang Government had to impose 30-year toll at the same rate as the Second Penang Bridge in order not to sabotage the Second Penang Bridge.

"Now that he is proposing a third bridge without tolls, does it mean that his position has changed and that now doesn’t mind ‘sabotaging’ the Second Penang Bridge?” he said.

Najib trades suit for hoodie

It was a light-hearted moment at the Wild Digital Conference when Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak traded his suit for a hoodie and shared his passion for music, food and social media.

Some 450 of Southeast Asia’s leading digital entrepreneurs, investors and top senior executives had a pleasant surprise when the Prime Minister readily agreed to don a hoodie with the words ‘#DABOSS’ on the back.

Catcha Group’s co-founder Patrick Grove presented the hoodie to Najib on stage before the start of a 40-minute question and answer session to mark the launch of the conference.

Grove, the chairman of Iflix, candidly threw questions to Najib including if he bought anything online lately.

“Yes I bought some music from iTunes but I’m not going to tell you what songs they are,” Najib said, drawing laughter from the crowd.

Najib went on to say that he enjoyed ‘Motown’ and music from the 1970s but also like to listen to contemporary singers such as Bruno Mars.

Grove, who kept the pace of questions lively, asked Najib of his experiences of getting a drive with US president Barack Obama in his personal limousine the ‘Beast’ and meeting Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg.

“I was told that apart from his wife, the only two persons who ever rode in the Beast with Obama was you and Jerry Seinfeld,” Grove said.

Najib quipped that the "Beast" was more comfortable than a Proton and bullet and bomb-proof car had room to hold a conference for four people.

On his experience with Zuckerberg during his trip to the United States, Najib jokingly said that he thought that Zuckerberg didn’t look very smart in his appearance owing the casual style of dressing and work pace of those working in the IT industry there.

“My initial reaction, he doesn’t look very smart. But actually, he is very smart. He is super smart but doesn’t look very smart.

“But when you talk to him, you begin to realise that this guy (Zuckerberg) has really got it in him,” Najib said, drawing laughter from the crowd.

Grove also quipped that Najib beat Obama, British prime minister David Cameron and Singapore prime minister Lee Hsien Loong in tweeting, although a lot of it were about food.

Najib replied that although he had a media team to handle his social media posting, he would personally tweet if time permits.
Grove later invited Najib to pose for a selfie with the crowd. Najib later tweeted: ‘Rocking at Wild Digital @PatrickGrove in my new hoodie #daboss #boom’.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Adenan speaks of grandson killed in car accident

KUCHING: Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem has finally spoken up about the death of his grandson, 22-year-old Azreal Mahmud , over a week after a fatal accident near his home at Santubong, about 30km from here.

He "always thought I would be the one to go first," Adenan wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday night.

"Mere words cannot express the grief when we have to say goodbye to our young ones," Adenan, 72, wrote under a black and white photograph of his late grandson.

Adenan - who has spoken many times publicly about his own brush with death due to heart disease before becoming the Chief Minister two years ago - said the passing of young ones was particularly heart-wrenching as they are "taken away before their prime".

"It has been a week since your passing and I will continue to pray."

The post was linked to Yatie A Bedos, Adenan's daughter. Yatie's profile photo was of her and Azreal, who was one of three boys and a girl.

It is believed Azreal was killed at about 3.30am on May 29 after a collision between a Toyota Vios and a motorcycle. The car slammed into a tree and burst into flames.

Thousands of condolences have poured onto Adenan's Facebook page since his post last night.
Although awareness of the tragedy had spread after the accident - which was reported in local Chinese dailies but without naming the victim - the Chief Minister's post last night was the first official comment from the family.

Other family members have also begun posting photographs and their own mourning messages.
Over Gawai Dayak, which began on June 1, some had wondered why Adenan had not made any visits to open houses, which is the customary practise for those in high office during major festive seasons.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Hadi: We negotiated with Federal to table Bill

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Datuk Seri Hadi Awang has admitted that negotiations were held between the Kelantan and Federal governments for his Private Member’s Bill on Syariah court amendments to be read in Parliament.

Hadi, who is PAS president, said, however, the priority during the negotiations was only to allow for the bill to be read in Parliament.

“It's just about reading out the law, not passing it or even debating it,” Hadi told reporters at the party’s annual general meeting on Thursday.

Hadi said as an Islamist leader he was obliged to push for the reading of the bill as Islam was slowly becoming a “restricted religion” in the nation.

“Yes, PAS and the Kelantan state government negotiated with the ruling government for the reading to take place.

“It is to improve and enforce the position of the Syariah court. Following independence, it was declared that Islam is the Federal religion and other religions are free (to be practiced).

“Now Islam has become restricted, that is not right and needs to be corrected,” he said, adding that the bill was about improving the status and the jurisdiction of the Syariah court and not its ability to mete sentences.

On May 26, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said had moved for the Bill to be brought forward in the Order Paper.

Hadi said the negotiations involved Umno members because the matter only concerned the Muslims.

“It does not involve non-Muslims at all, so why should DAP disturb us? The negotiations were dependant on individual views of a party.

“We (DAP and PAS) are both opposition but we have our own views and practices," he said adding that the second reading of the Bill would take place in the October meeting.

He explained that the law required that a minister table and approve a Bill before it can it be brought forward and read by the member.

Asked why the Federal government had a sudden change of heart in allowing the bill to be read out now after rejecting it three times, Hadi said it was because the negotiations were over improving the status of the Syariah court.

Kedah exco retracts resignation

Kedah state exco member Dr Leong Yong Kong, who resigned in protest over PAS’ Private Member's Bill, have retracted his resignation from MCA.

Dr Leong said in a statement he made the decision to return to MCA after seeing the party leadership's commitment with other Barisan Nasional component parties in opposing the Bill.

He had announced his resignation and become a Barisan-friendly independent last week over what he claimed was the party's failure to stop the tabling of the Bill by PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang in Parliament.

“I have decided to withdraw my resignation to quit the party due to the request from the grassroots and support the president and central committee in defending the Federal constitution," said Dr Leong.

He said MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai had assured him that the party would remain firm in fighting the Bill.