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Malaysia Today - Your Source of Independent News

Penang state assembly: Guan Eng apologises for no Q&A

Posted: 05 Jul 2013 06:44 PM PDT

(The Star) - Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has apologised for the lack of question and answer session during the current sitting, saying Jagdeep Singh Deo (DAP-Datuk Keramat) has been appointed to handle matters related to the state assembly.

Lim said Jagdeep would be fully responsible for the state legislative assembly to ensure that matter such as the Q&A session would not be dropped in future.

"Jagdeep Singh's role will be to review the recommendation and advice (from the state legal advisor) to ensure the effective functioning of parliamentary democracy as well as to hold talks with the opposition leader after receiving guidance from the Speaker," he said in his winding up speech at the 13th state legislative assembly sitting.

Earlier, Lim apologised for the lack of Q&A session for this sitting.

He said traditionally, the first sitting of the first term after the general election would start with the swearing-in ceremony without the Q&A session.

"This sitting is based on the tradition although the swearing-in ceremony is organised with the officiating of the first session of the sitting.

"However, if the sitting is not held together with the ceremony, then the Q&A session will be allowed.

"This happened in 2008 after the 12th general election when the ceremony was held on May 2 while the sitting only started 21 days later on July 5," he said.

His comments were in response to an explanation by State Assembly Speaker Law Choo Kiang who cited "lack of time" on Wednesday for not having the Q&A session.

Read more here: 


NGO leader harassed after exposé

Posted: 05 Jul 2013 06:34 PM PDT

(FMT) - An anti-crime non-governmental group (NGO) leader has lodged a report at the Sepang police station today claiming harassment by several individuals. 

MyWatch chairman R Sri Sanjeevan said he was followed by a group of five men when he was having drink with his friend at a popular coffee joint at the Low Cost Carrier Terminal (LCCT).

"Three men were watching us from the restaurant entrance and the other two monitoring us near an auto-teller machine.

"One of them approached my table but my friend and I immediately got out. However, they kept following us but disappeared a while later," he said.

Recently, Sanjeevan highlighted a case where an ex-drug dealer claimed to have bribed policemen for information on impending stakeouts.

The former drug dealer had claimed that he allegedly paid the cops between RM30,000 and RM50,000 a month.

The man, who is said to have turned over a new leaf, further alleged that some officers are persuading him to go back to his old activities and offered protection.

When contacted, Sanjeevan said the suspicious individuals tailing him earlier today could be linked to the drug syndicate.

"It is obviously linked to the exposé I made regarding the ex-drug pusher," he added.

Sanjeevan urged the police to look into the matter as he feared for his life.

"I have already lodged three police reports on threats against me but no action has been taken. I hope the police will take the matter seriously," he said.

Read more here:

Don’t give two thirds majority to BN or PR’

Posted: 05 Jul 2013 06:23 PM PDT

Calling Malaysia a secular state, an activist said that Malaysia could be turned into a theocratic state if any of the coalition were given too much power the the Parliament. 

K Pragalath, FMT

Malaysians are urged not to give neither the Barisan Nasional (BN) nor Pakatan Rakyat a two thirds majority in the Parliament to ensure Malaysia remains a secular state.

"Malaysia can be turned into an Islamic with two thirds majority. So, please do not give two thirds majority to any coalition, regardless whether they are BN or Pakatan," said Islamic Renaissance Front (IRF) chairman Dr Ahmad Farouk Musa, at a forum held by the Bar Council.

The forum was titled "How Secular is our constitution?"

Recently, the government received brickbats from various NGOs and BN MPs on the Administration of the Religion of Islam (Federal Territories) Bill 2013, which allows unilateral conversion of a child should one parent converts to Islam.

But on Wednesday, controversial Perak Mufti Harussani Zakaria defended the Bill saying the proposed legislation was only formalising a standard practice which was agreed upon "since Merdeka Day".

He also alleged that the Bill was being used by certain quarters to incite hatred towards the Muslim community.

The government subsequently withdrew the Bill citing the matter needed further study.

Ahmad Farouk said that based on historical facts, the Reid Commission drafted a secular constitution for the then-Malaya as people in power during that era envisioned a secular country.

"The report also stated that they should be no discrimination based on race, religion and creed," he said.

Citing court cases, Ahmad Farouk cited the case of Che Omar Che Soh vs Public Prosecutor in 1988, where then-Lord President Salleh Abas ruled that Malaysia is a secular state.

"He ruled that laws need not conform to Islamic principles," said Ahmad, adding that Islamic laws were only meant for to administer Muslim family issues.

Training his guns against the government, Ahmad Farouk criticised the religious authorities for attempting to regulate on how one manages religion.

"How can there be only one version of Islam – the Jakim and Jais style?" he asked, in regards to the government's move to restrict the practise of Islam based on other denominations.



PKR man complains BN workers not investigated over aide’s murder

Posted: 05 Jul 2013 06:19 PM PDT

(The Malay Mail) - Police have not questioned Barisan Nasional (BN) workers from MIC vice-president Datuk M. Saravanan's Election 2013 campaign on the murder of his opponent's aide during the poll, PKR's K. Vasantha Kumar complained today. 

 "So far, none from BN's side ― no investigations, no statement taken from M. Saravanan," Vasantha told reporters at the PKR headquarters here.

Instead, he said, police have focused their investigation on Pakatan Rakyat supporters.

"I got to know from the Batu Gajah IO (investigating officer) that 22 suspects have been remanded and investigated. The 22 are (K.) Murugan's friends and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) supporters," he added.

Vasantha, who lost the contest for the Tapah federal seat to Saravanan in the 13th general election, also alleged that three ballot boxes containing early and postal votes for Tapah and two state seats ― Ayer Kuning and Chenderoh ― had been removed by Election Commission (EC) officers from the Tapah police station on May 2, three days before the May 5 polling day.

But he conceded that the killing of his aide, K. Murugan, was likely not linked to the alleged polls fraud as the latter went missing earlier on May 1, before the body was discovered on Polling Day in Batu Gajah, Perak.

Vasantha also said that a suspect from BN fled to Indonesia after Perak deputy police chief Datuk A. Paramasivam released a statement last month that police was looking for two men to help in the murder case.

PKR strategic director Rafizi Ramli, who was also at the press conference, said the Tapah campaign was characterised by violence and constant brawls between the MIC and his party.

"Vasantha had to have security," said Rafizi.

Vasantha said Murugan had received threatening calls before disappearing on May 1 after a ceramah in Bidor at night.

Murugan's body was found four days later in a disused mining pool in Bemban Industrial Park, Batu Gajah.

Vasantha also revealed several photographs to the media showing men in black shirts with EC logos carrying a ballot box marked Ayer Kuning in the Tapah police station on May 2. He said that the photographs were taken by his aides.

One of them — D. Allapah @ Dr Raja — told reporters at the same press conference that the EC officers snubbed his questions on why they were moving the ballot boxes before Polling Day.

"It's none of your business. We're doing our duty," Allapah quoted them as saying. "They said we cannot snap photos."

Vasantha said six EC officers were involved in moving the three ballot boxes.

He added that the ballot box for Tapah contained 2,195 votes, but was unsure about the other two boxes.

Vasantha lost the Tapah seat to Saravanan who is now the youth and sports deputy minister, by 7,927 votes.

Read more here:

Disappointing wait for FOI implementation in Penang

Posted: 05 Jul 2013 06:08 PM PDT

( - More than a year after it was enacted, Penang's Freedom of Information (FOI) Enactment has still not been implemented.

Chief Minister today said the process is still being managed by the state Legal Advisor, who is incidentally appointed by the Attorney General.

Stressing that the state is uncomfortable with the progress, Lim told the Penang State Assembly that legal advisor Datuk Faiza Zulkifli needs to oversee some steps before it can be put into effect.

The lengthy wait is despite the legislation having been approved by the assembly as far back as in November 2011 and gazetted last year.

When it was first tabled in October 2010, it was referred to a select committee for revision.

It was also opposed by Barisan Nasional assembly members who called it unnecessary, maintaining that it flies in the face of the existing (federal) Official Secrets Act (OSA) 1972.

These steps by the legal advisor include examining the guidelines for implementation, as well as outlining and approving the procedures for the FOI appeals board and the regulations for accessing information.

"According to the Legal Advisor, this enactment will be put into force after all regulatory necessities and related fee payments are gazetted beforehand," Lim, who is Air Putih assembly member, said in his winding-up speech during the motion of support for the Governor's speech.

He stressed that the state is disappointed with the progress made so far.

"The state government still hopes that all the relevant affairs can be settled by the Legal Advisor in early 2014," he added.

He was responding to a question by Wong Hon Wai (DAP-Air Itam) on when the FOI would be up and running.

The Freedom of Information Enactment 2012 would allow Penangites to access various forms of documents, minutes and decisions of the government

Queried further by reporters at a press conference later on the role of the Legal Advisor, Lim said: "You know what the problems are. You can read between the lines."  

The state government had wanted to introduce the FOI since 2008.

However, Lim said that Faiza had advised him and the executive council against tabling the bill because it was considered ultra vires the Federal Constitution. Information comes under the federal government, she had reportedly asserted.

It was only when Selangor tabled its FOI bill in July 2010 and passed it in April 2011 that Penang used that as a precedent in getting around her objections.

Meanwhile, Lim also said the state would consider a suggestion by Teh Yee Cheu (DAP-Tanjung Bungah) that the administration set up a 'Big Data' system where all relevant information of the state government and its departments can be accessed from a single portal, in line with the FOI.

Read more here:

EC approves ballot count coverage, to study existing laws

Posted: 05 Jul 2013 06:01 PM PDT

(The Malay Mail) - The Election Commission (EC) has agreed to Putrajaya's proposal for live coverage of the ballot-counting process during elections but says it needs to study existing regulations before accommodating the request. 

EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof (picture) said the idea, mooted yesterday by minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, would help prove the transparency of the regulator's operations that has come under heavy fire since Election 2013.

"We have nothing to hide," he told The Malay Mail Online when contacted.

But Abdul Aziz also said the EC must check the law to see if government-owned Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) can be allowed to place its cameras in the vote-counting rooms.

He indicated that the EC currently has strict rules on those who are allowed to go into the tallying room.

"At the moment, a limited number are permitted in the counting room — candidate agent, [polling centre chief], EC clerks and a few others permitted by the EC," he said.

Despite the restrictions on entry into vote-tallying centres, Abdul Aziz said the matter could still be discussed with the EC, saying: "I don't see a problem with that, we can discuss with them. We have to discuss what's the implications."

The proposal yesterday by Ahmad Shabery, the new communications and multimedia minister, comes even as the EC remains under constant fire for its alleged failure to ensure a transparent and fair polls process.

Abdul Aziz and his deputy Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar are at the centre of allegations of vote fraud, which many opposition lawmakers and civil society activists believe had occurred during the just-concluded May 5 general election.

Among others, they have been put under the microscope for allegedly failing to implement key electoral reform demands effectively, from the running of the polls process to technical matters like the handling of the indelible ink that fell short of its name on Polling Day.

Opposition leaders and polls watchdog have been calling for the duo's resignations, while urging the government to carry out bolder and more decisive reforms to current practices in the polling process.

The struggle has resulted in several massive street protests over the years, many of which resulted in running battles on the streets of the capital and have even been credited for the major electoral losses suffered by the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) in the last two general elections — Election 2008 and 2013.

Electoral reform group Bersih's Maria Chin Abdullah yesterday said the live coverage would be nothing but "icing on rotten cake" if Putrajaya skips bold and major reforms such as the cleaning up of the electoral roll which purportedly contains numerous discrepancies.

Syed Ibrahim Syed Noh, president of another polls watchdog Mafrel, had also said the key issue was in the integrity of EC officers in conducting the polls rather than live coverage of the elections.

Tindak Malaysia's PY Wong has said live coverage does not address the alleged lack of public confidence in the EC.

Read more here:


Khalid: Selangor wants the rights to develop, operate and maintain Langat 2

Posted: 05 Jul 2013 03:37 PM PDT

(The Star) - The Selangor government wants the rights to develop, operate and maintain the Langat 2 water treatment plant.

Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim said on Saturday the state government had asked the Energy, Green Technology and Water Ministry to consider its request by giving the rights to its subsidiary companies.

Khalid said the state government, via its subsidiaries, would like to develop the main package of Langat 2, as well as operate and maintain the plant.

This is because the state government has allocated 179ha of state land out of the 400ha needed for the project without getting anything in return, he said.

"Selangor is also the signatory to the raw water purchase agreement with the Pahang state government, and all payments of raw water to Pahang will be borne by Selangor," he said.

He added that the raw water licence will also be issued by the Selangor state government, while the Cabinet had agreed on Jan 16, 2008, for state investment arm Kumpulan Darul Ehsan Berhad (KDEB) to be appointed as the "operating and maintenance company" when Langat 2 is complete.

The RM3bil Langat 2 water treatment plant will receive raw water from Pahang via an underground tunnel, which is almost complete, and can process 1,130 million litres per day (MLD).

On a related matter, he explained that the different figures of water reserve issued by state water distributor Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas) and the state government was due to different methods of calculation.

"Syabas claims that the water reserve is less than 1% as it used the current average production of 4,700 MLD compared to its distribution capacity of 4,661MLD.

"The state government based it on the maximum production capacity of 34 water treatment plants, which is 4,832MLD as opposed to the distribution capacity of 4,661MLD. That's how we estimated the water reserves to be at 3.5%," he said.


EGYPT UPDATE: At least 26 dead in protests across Egypt

Posted: 05 Jul 2013 03:16 PM PDT

(AFP/Bernama) - CAIRO - At least 26 people were killed in clashes across Egypt on Friday as tens of thousands of supporters of deposed president Mohamed Morsi turned out to protest his ouster by a popularly backed military coup.

A coalition of Islamist groups including Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood vowed  further "peaceful" protests in a statement early Saturday, demanding the  military restore the country's first democratically elected leader.

In the restive north of the Sinai peninsula, armed Morsi supporters stormed  the provincial headquarters in the town of El-Arish after a gunfight and raised  the black banner of Al-Qaeda-inspired Islamist militants, an AFP correspondent  said.

 At least 12 people were killed in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria as  Morsi's supporters and opponents fought a pitched street battle, the official  MENA news agency said.

 Police continued to round up top Islamists, announcing the arrest of  Khairat al-Shater, widely seen as the most powerful man behind Morsi in the  Muslim Brotherhood movement.

 A spokesman for UN chief  Ban Ki-moon quoted him calling for a peaceful end  to the crisis. "There is no place for retribution or for the exclusion of any  major party or community".    In Cairo's iconic Tahrir Square, at least two people were killed when Morsi  supporters traded fire with his opponents, state television reported.

The clashes subsided when the army separated the protesters using armoured  vehicles.

 "We are not taking sides. Our mission is to secure the lives of  protesters," military spokesman Colonel Ahmed Ali told AFP.

 Four protesters were killed outside the Republican Guard headquarters after  breaking away from a pro-Morsi demonstration, the official MENA news agency  reported.

 The bodies of two people were covered with sheets, said an AFP  correspondent, adding that another protester was shot in the head.

 Soldiers had warned a protester waving a picture of the ousted president  not to approach their barbed wire cordon.

 They opened fire when he ignored them, and shots were then heard from both  sides, an AFP reporter said.

 The Islamists accuse the military of conducting a brazen coup against  Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president, after millions called  for his ouster on the June 30 anniversary of his first turbulent year in power.
   Friday's violence came as the supreme guide of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood,  Mohammed Badie, vowed that members of the Islamist movement would throng the  streets in their millions until his presidency is restored.

   Badie appeared at Cairo's Rabaa al-Adawiya mosque to screams of joy from  jubilant supporters, following reports he had been detained after Wednesday's  ouster of the president.

   "Millions will remain in the squares until we carry our elected president,  Mohamed Morsi, on our shoulders," Badie told the crowd, before leading chants  of "Military coup!" and "Invalid!"

   Violence between Morsi's supporters and opponents also left one protester  dead at Assiut in central Egypt and another in Minya, officials said.
   In the Sinai, where gunmen killed five policemen and Islamists killed a  soldier in a machinegun and rocket attack.

   In El-Arish, at least 16 people were wounded in clashes before armed Morsi  supporters stormed the provincial HQ.

   The armed forces have already sworn in Adly Mansour as interim president,  and he issued his first decree on Friday, dissolving the Islamist-led  parliament and appointing a new intelligence chief.

   Before Friday's rallies, around a dozen low-flying military jets screamed  across Cairo, but the show of force failed to deter Morsi's supporters.

   Morsi, who has not been seen since Wednesday, had issued a defiant call for  supporters to protect his elected "legitimacy", in a recorded speech aired  hours after his removal.

   The military had said it supported the right to peaceful protest, but  warned against violence and acts of civil disobedience.

   Ahead of Friday's rallies, Mansour had called in a television interview for  unity.

   "All I can say to the Egyptian people is to be one body. We had enough of  division," he told Britain's Channel 4.
   Prominent liberal leader Mohamed ElBaradei defended the military's  intervention, saying "the other option was a civil war.

   "We were between a rock and a hard place, and people need to understand  that," the former UN nuclear watchdog chief told the BBC.

   Army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced Morsi's overthrow on  Wednesday night, citing his inability to end a deepening political crisis.
   Military police rounded up senior Brotherhood members, although two were  later released.

   Morsi himself was "preventively detained", a senior officer told AFP.

   A judicial source said the prosecution would on Monday begin questioning  Brotherhood members, including Morsi, for "insulting the judiciary".    Morsi's rule was marked by accusations that he concentrated power in the  hands of the Brotherhood.

   His supporters argue Morsi was confronted at every turn with a hostile  bureaucracy left over by Hosni Mubarak, overthrown in the Arab Spring-inspired  uprising of 2011.

Meanwhile, Deputy chief of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB), Khayrat al-Shater, was arrested Friday in Cairo on charges of inciting violence against opponents, China's Xinhua news agency said quoting the official Middle East News Agency (MENA)'s report.    

Also on Friday, the police arrested the official lawyer Abdel-Moneim Abdel-Maqsood of MB, to which the ousted President Mohamed Morsi belongs,and former Salafist presidential candidate Hazem Salah Abu Ismail.    

Earlier reports had said that MB's general guide Mohammed Badie had been arrested, but the man delivered a speech to throngs of Morsi's supporters in Rabia al-Adawiya Square in Cairo on Friday evening, denying the news as "fake."    

A number of MB and Islamist leaders have been arrested since the ouster of Morsi by the military on Wednesday and a couple of affiliated TV channels were also shut down.    

Security sources said the actions are meant to prevent the Islamist leaders from urging their supporters for acts of violence against the security forces or the public celebrating Morsi's removal. 


Taib has 14-year travel ban on my Sarawak lawyer, says activist Rewcastle Brown

Posted: 05 Jul 2013 12:21 PM PDT 

(TMI) - There is a curious twist to the story of the British activist banned from entering Sarawak.

The same security office of Chief Minister Tan Sri Taib Mahmud that would not let her enter the state last week to defend herself in a legal suit there, has apparently also banned her Malaysian lawyer from leaving the country – for the past 14 years.

Activist Clare Rewcastle Brown revealed this about her lawyer See Chee How in an exclusive interview with The Malaysian Insider.

"See is restricted from travelling outside Malaysia on similar orders from Sarawak CM, even though he is an elected member of the state assembly," she said.

See, the state assemblyman for the urban area of Batu Lintang in Sarawak, confirmed the ban on him when contacted by The Malaysian Insider yesterday by phone.

He said the last time he left Malaysia was to Myanmar 14 years ago for an international campaign.

"After I returned, I was then prohibited from leaving the country," he added.

Rewcastle Brown said in an email interview: "His offence was to show support many years ago for a demonstration requesting the liberation of Aung San Suu Kyi. It tells you all you need to know about Taib Mahmud and how he runs Sarawak."

See was with Rewcastle Brown when she tried to enter Sarawak to meet him to discuss the defamation suit brought against her.

But the way the lawyer and his client are handling their different bans is itself another twist to the tale.

The one-term assemblyman laughed off the ban, saying it was not a hindrance to his daily life, as "there was a lot of work to be done here."

His client, Rewcastle Brown, who is also the sister-in-law of former British prime minister Gordon Brown, said her entry ban into the state was "nothing personal" and it would not make her more determined to expose Taib's alleged wrongdoings.

The former BBC journalist is the founder of the influential blog, Sarawak Report and Radio Free Sarawak, which are both critical of the chief minister.

"I would not be criticising Taib out of some sort of wounded pride. I am just focused on exposing a great wrong that has taken place in Sarawak because it has not been adequately covered for a variety of reasons," Rewcastle Brown told The Malaysian Insider.

Read more at: 

Putting the contest in context: why only Shahrizat and Azalina for top Wanita

Posted: 05 Jul 2013 12:16 PM PDT

(TMI) - Call it the Umno dilemma: two spirited, headstrong women who believe they have unsullied reputations and are fit to contest the top position in Wanita Umno.

They are completely deaf to opinion outside the party and totally cheered their party's strong showing in the last general election, where it won the largest share of national seats – 88 out of 222.

What about Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil's critics? Malaysians remember that her family snared a RM250 million grant from the government for the National Feedlot Corporation project.

They also know of the expensive condominium purchases, luxury cars and how the venture failed miserably. She has critics from Perlis to Johor who think she should make way for younger leaders.

Shahrizat's response? "They can go to hell."

What about Datuk Azalina Othman's critics? Malaysians remember the reports about corruption in the Tourism Ministry, the allegations that ended her once promising ascent in Malaysian politics.

Azalina is equally nonchalant about the negativity surrounding her offer to contest the top position in Wanita Umno.

She said: "My records are clean. If I am on-the-go now, winning the Pengerang seat even, that means I do not 'owe' the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) anything.

"What wrong did I do when I was the Youth and Sports Minister? What did I do? I had executed my tasks very well!"

Read more at: 

Dr M: DAP destroyed racial power-sharing balance, rift will widen

Posted: 05 Jul 2013 12:13 PM PDT 

(The Malay Mail Online) - The indisputable fact is that the DAP has succeeded in destroying the collaboration or sharing between the different races as exemplified by the BN coalition

Malaysia's delicate racial power-sharing balance has been upset by the DAP and the Malay-Chinese schism exposed by the outcome of the May 5 polls will only deepen, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (picture) warned today.

The still-influential former prime minister continued to paint a dark future for this Southeast Asian melting pot despite Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's pledge reconcile a nation divided.

"The indisputable fact is that the DAP has succeeded in destroying the collaboration or sharing between the different races as exemplified by the BN coalition," he said in his blog post, of the racial power- and wealth-sharing formula long practised by the 13-member Barisan Nasional (BN).

The man who held office for 22 years has been leading a campaign of blame against the opposition party as being responsible for whipping up "hatred of the Malays" through its "Malaysian Malaysia" slogan as the nation's ethnic minorities grow more vocal in seeking affirmative action policies based on merit as proposed by the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) pact rather the racial policies long-practised by the ruling BN.

Dr Mahathir, who turns 88 on July 10, continued to weave the same spiel, accusing the minority Chinese of falling for the DAP ruse to enlarge the community's control not just of the nation's economy but its politics, which Dr Mahathir appeared to believe to be the territory of the Malays.

"If today the schism between the races is deeper it is because the DAP reject the Malay/Chinese/Indian 'kongsi'," Dr Mahathir said, using the Malay word for "sharing".

"The DAP wants the Chinese, who already dominate the economy, to dominate Malaysia's politics as well. It is clearly racist and reject inter-racial sharing of power and wealth as advocated by the BN," he added.

Read more at:  

New rules for property buyers

Posted: 05 Jul 2013 12:09 PM PDT 

(The Star) - Property buyers will no longer have the option to take loans for longer than 35 years. Anyone taking a personal loan can now only do so for a period of up to 10 years.

These are new rules set by Bank Negara with the aim of helping to reduce household debt in the country.

Before the new caps, property buyers could take loans for up to 45 years, while personal loans could be paid back over a period of up to 25 years.

Bank Negara is acting because Malaysia's household-debt-to-Gross Domestic Product (GDP) ratio is a high 83%. It is the highest in emerging Asia.

The stricter lending guidelines also saw the central bank prohibiting the offering of pre-approved personal financing products.

These new measures to tackle household debt will also be extended to all financial institutions and credit cooperatives regulated by Bank Negara, the Malaysia Co-operative Societies Commission, Malaysia Building Society Bhd, and Aeon Credit Service (M) Bhd.

All these institutions will also need to follow responsible lending limits. New borrowers, especially those with lower incomes, can only take on debt amounting to 60% of their monthly take home pay.

The new limits will not affect loan applications made before yesterday.

Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz, in a briefing yesterday, said the household debt was not yet at an alarming level, but based on present trends it would eventually be so.

Extremely long property loan periods "encourage excessive debt accumulation by households and increases the vulnerability of this (the household) sector," she said.

Industry players said the measures would have a limited impact on the property market because the older generation of Malaysians had already bought into the property cycle.

They said the latest caps would mainly affect the younger generation.

"They are the ones who will need loans with the extra tenure, not the older generation who are mainly able to afford (higher monthly repayments)," said IOI Properties' director Teh Chin Guan.

"In the short term, the level of affordability for the younger generation will be lower at today's prices," he added.

Elvin Fernandez, managing director at property consultant Khong & Jaafar, said these moves by the central bank should be applauded because property loans with a tenure of more than 40 years was not advisable.

Real Estate and Housing Developers' Association of Malaysia president Datuk Seri Michael K.C. Yam believed the measures were a "good pre-emptive move because Malaysians are not very disciplined when it comes to these matters".

"In other countries the maximum tenure is usually 25 years or until the person reaches the retirement age of 55," he added.

Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations president Datuk Marimuthu Nadason also supported the new measures.

"But I urge Bank Negara to work with civil societies like us on financial literacy education, which Malaysians sorely lack," he said, pointing out that 51 people were declared bankrupt daily in the country.

Korisatan Karu­ppiah, Penang Consumers Protection Asso­ciation president, said borrowers should be allowed to repay their loans ahead of schedule, without penalty.

"The lenders argue that they have already made plans with your money over the tenure you agreed with, and that paying back the sum early affects their plans," he said.

He said the penalty was a fine, of between RM10,000 and RM35,000, depending on the size of the loan. 

Matriculation intake: MIC hoodwinking everyone?

Posted: 05 Jul 2013 12:05 PM PDT 

(FMT) - In the future, Indians will only need to highlight their woes directly to the government for it to be addressed and attended to. And this will effectively render MIC, its ministers and deputy ministers irrelevant.

The party's failure to ensure 1,500 Indian students get matriculation seats points towards that direction.

Has MIC been hoodwinking the Malaysian Indian community? If the recent matriculation seat allocation fiasco is any measure then it seems so.

When Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak announced in 2011 that the government would allocate 1,500 matriculation seats for Indians from the 28,000 seats available nationwide, there was euphoria. But in actual fact only 900 Indian students were allocated seats in the 2012 intake.

The government gave no reason for the shortchange and MIC which claims to have 680,000 members said "nothing".

In 2013, an astounding 6,185 Indian students applied for the 1,500 seats but according to the Matriculation Department only 892 students took up the offer. But NGOs campaigning on the issue claimed the numbers were less.

The drop in numbers from the previous year sent shock waves in the community with many questioning why so few were picked. Many who obtained 10As in their Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) had not secured seats and were, strangely enough, deemed "unqualified."

The disclosure saw affected students, parents and NGOs protesting the injustice.

New truth?

Following the outcry, deputy Education Minister P Kamalanathan, who is also an MIC central working committee member, issued a statement defending his ministry.

He said 1,850 seats were allocated but only 892 students took it up.

Two days later on June 26, Education Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin confirmed that 1,800 Indian students were offered matriculation seats. He later reportedly said that the cabinet had discussed the issue and decided to fulfill the government's promise to allocate 1,500 seats for Indian students.

The question now is which one of the two elected Education Ministry official is lying?

Why is there an inconsistency in the numbers of seats allotted for Indian students?

A new 'controversy' arose yesterday when some 50 angry parents, NGO and opposition leaders gathered to protest in front of the Education Ministry in Putrajaya.

Their actions earned a response from the Matriculation Department, who until now had been silent on the issue.

While the department said it would re-look at 333 applications who were earlier rejected, a more interesting 'truth' emerged which further surprised parents and NGO leaders.

According to the protesters, they had compiled a list of eligible students who had applied but were rejected and had forwarded the list to MIC deputy president-cum Health Minister Dr S Subramaniam and Kamalanathan.

A copy of the list was also forwarded to the MIC headquarters.

Wealthy MIC leaders?

But according to the Matriculation Department, they had not received any list from MIC leaders. 

Read more at: 

Bung Mokhtar to quit politics if ...

Posted: 05 Jul 2013 12:00 PM PDT 

(The Star) - Controversial Kinabatangan MP Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin has issued a warning - he will quit politics if he sees no development in his constituency within the next five years.

This will be the last term for the Sabah Umno politician in his poverty-stricken constituency bigger than Pahang if the government did not meet the demands of his voters for basic infrastructure especial sealed roads.

"I have been told by my voters to make sure the government give enough money to build roads. If not, I'm worried.

"Maybe they won't vote for me or for BN again. I myself have decided that if the government doesn't give my people good kampung roads, I will not contest anymore," the 53-year-old firebrand MP told The Star Online.

The fourth-term MP said the current tanah merah (laterite) roads in the villages were flooded and became muddy whenever it rained, leaving villagers stranded for days.

Bung Mokhtar, who is married to actress Zizie Ezette, he had forwarded his voters' request to Putrajaya and he was waiting for a positive reply.

"They just need small roads for their daily use, not highways. They are not asking for mega projects like the second Penang Bridge or the LRT that costs billions of ringgits.

"The people gave us the mandate during the elections. Barisan National's tagline is Janji Ditepati (promises fulfilled), so I need this to be ditepati (fulfilled)," said the politician who is no stranger to controversy.

Bung Mokhtar hit the headlines for the wrong reasons and is often criticised for his uncouth remarks in Parliament.

On Wednesday when debating the motion of thanks on the Royal Address, Bung Mokhtar called Air Asia X chief Azran Osman Rani a Melayu biadap (an uncouth Malay) and said that he did not deserve to be a citizen for criticising Utusan Malaysia.

"If he said he is muak (disgusted) with Utusan I don't care, but threatening to cut off all business deals with them is a threat to Malays," he said.

Bung Mokhtar remains unapologetic for using the parliament space to attack Azran.  

"He used his position as a CEO to blast Utusan on his Twitter and Facebook. It's the same thing," he said.

Bung said he wouldn't change his style of dealing with issues, especially when it concerned the public. 

"If I try to be like Tan Sri Shahrir Abdul Samad (Johor Baru MP) maybe there is no more Kinabatangan or Bung Mokhtar. When I feel there is an issue I have to speak out, I will. I don't care if it's against the opposition, government or individuals," he said.

He said he recently criticised the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) for not being able to control social media and the police for not being able to curb the drug problem.

Bung Mokhtar said he was not affected by criticisms against him. 

"They have their right to condemn me but I also have my right to reply and condemn them. This is a democratic country," he said.

Denying that he was an attention seeker, Bung Mokhtar said it was the media that was sensationalising him.

"My voice is in the Dewan Rakyat, but the moment I speak, the reporters pick it up and put in the paper. I love some of it (the media coverage), but sometime I feel they put an ugly picture. But I don't care because they are making me more popular," he said. 


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