Rabu, 18 September 2013

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Malaysia Today - Your Source of Independent News

Malaysia Today - Your Source of Independent News

Muslimah World is Islam's retort to Miss World beauty pageant

Posted: 17 Sep 2013 09:17 PM PDT


Alternative role models for Muslim women ... Contestants of the Muslimah World contest in Jakarta, Indonesia 

(The Daily Telegraph) - THE finale of a beauty pageant exclusively for Muslim women will take place in the Indonesian capital, in a riposte to the Miss World contest in Bali that has drawn fierce opposition from Islamic radicals.

Twenty contestants will show off the latest Islamic fashion trends in theMuslimah World pageant and will also take part in other activities, such as reciting the Koran, aimed at demonstrating their piety.

"We're just trying to show the world that Islam is beautiful,'' said Obabiyi Aishah Ajibola, a 21-year-old contestant from Nigeria, one of six countries represented at the pageant.

"We are free and the hijab (Muslim headscarf) is our pride.''

The contestants - who can only enter the competition if they wear a headscarf - have undergone three days of "spiritual training'' in the run-up to the final in Jakarta, waking up before dawn to pray together and sharpen their Koranic reading skills.

Organisers say they want to show Muslim women there is an alternative to the idea of beauty put forward by the British-run Miss World pageant, and also want to show that opposition to the pageant can be expressed nonviolently.

Organiser Eka Shanti, who founded the pageant three years ago after losing her job as TV news anchor for refusing to remove her headscarf, bills the contest as "Islam's answer to Miss World''.

Read more at: http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/lifestyle/fashion-beauty/muslimah-world-is-islam8217s-retort-to-miss-world-beauty-pageant/story-fni0df3j-1226722349281 

Court allows Umno lawyer Shafee to lead government’s Sodomy II appeal

Posted: 17 Sep 2013 05:14 PM PDT

(MM) - The Court of Appeal unanimously ruled today to allow Datuk Seri Mohd Shafee Abdullah to lead Putrajaya's appeal against Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's acquittal of a second sodomy charge.

The three-man panel of judges led by Datuk Ramly Ali said they found no issues with the prominent Umno lawyer's appointment by the Attorney-General, adding there were mo substantial grounds to prove that Shafee is unfit to assume the duties of a deputy public prosecutor (DPP).

The panel, which also included Datuk Mohd Zawawi Salleh and Datuk Rohana Yusof, said provisions under the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) governing appointments of private lawyers must be read together and not individually.



Coal plant idea being revived

Posted: 17 Sep 2013 02:43 PM PDT


(Daily Express) - The Federal Government plans to revive the controversial coal-fired power plant that was scrapped in 2011 as part of a long-term plan to solve the State's power woes.

The proposed RM1.3 billion 300MW project which was cancelled on Feb. 26, 2011 after being heavily opposed by a local environmental group is now being discussed at ministerial-level, said Energy, Green Technology and Water Deputy Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid, Monday.

He named Tawau as the plant's new location but later stated the project would be within the East Coast as "there are still various issues to be concluded and details of the plan are not yet available."

Mahdzir said this after chairing the first meeting of a task force that was set up to ensure the roadmap to the implementation of better electricity supply in Sabah is achieved.

He added Sabahans would be enjoying better supply by now if the coal-fired plant project had followed through five years ago, laying the blame on the leader of an environmental group who has since left Sabah.

"Because of this NGO leader, Sabah is still facing a power supply problem," he said, adding that the Ministry is now prepared for another round of opposition over the said plan.

Without naming the group's leader, Mahdzir said the leader left Sabah to the peninsula to head a peninsula-based environmental group and subsequently became a politician, in a veiled reference to Wong Tack who headed Sepa and thereafter Himpunan Hijau. Soon after the plan was scrapped, another lady activist also decided to claim credit on the Internet for the Government's decision.

Mahdzir said the country is now facing the possibility of higher electricity tariff and there is a need to find another venue to solve the issue from now and beyond 2020. He said the task force was set up to ensure the implementation of all the long, medium and short-term plans, including monitoring the implementation of electrical supply projects, advice on power-generating capacity and affordability and others.

Short-term plans include power generation from the 300MW Kimanis Power Project and the SPR Energy Power Projects which are expected to come on stream by end of this year and by 2014 respectively.

Also, an additional 14MW capacity from 5-9MW from the Sepanggar Bay Power Corporation, 20MW from Batu Sapi since March and 64MW from the Kubota Power plant.

All of which, he said, will cover Sandakan, Tawau and Kota Kinabalu in the short-term range from 2013 to 2015.

Medium-term, he said, involved 180MW from the Upper Padas Hydro Electric project which would begin end of next year, a 30MW Renewable Energy (geothermal) plant in Tawau and the Southern link transmission from Sipitang and to Kalumpang, which will link loops in the middle of the State crossing underneath the Crocker Range.

The project would be from 2013 to 2019, while the long-term plan would go beyond 2020, said Mahdzir, adding that it depends on the demand of local industries, which are expanding.

The taskforce comprises the Energy Commission, Sustainable Energy Development Authority Malaysia, Tenaga Nasional Bhd, Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd, Rural Electric Supply Projects under the Rural Development and Regional Ministry and various related State agencies.

When contacted, State Culture, Tourism and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said he was not aware of the plan. He said the State Government has made a commitment to safeguard the environment in view of the strategic importance of the tourism industry to the economy of the State.


Mahathir's denials not surprising: Bumburing

Posted: 17 Sep 2013 02:38 PM PDT


(Daily Express) -  Denials by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on his alled involvement in granting ICs to illegals at the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on illegal immigrants in Sabah recently were to be expected.

"I am not at all surprised by the statement given by Mahathir and I believe the people of Sabah are not surprised at all, albeit disappointed," said Sabah Reform Movement chief, Datuk Wilfred Bumburing.

"I had expected all this while the kind of lies and denials by Mahathir on the illegal immigrant issue in Sabah," he said, Tuesday.

Bumburing who is also Tamparuli Assemblyman said all the evidence given by most of those called to testify earlier except for a few people like former Chief Minister Tan Sri Harris Salleh and the Deputy Director of Immigration, all pointed to the invisible hand of Mahathir.

"He had either lied or is suffering from dementia or is senile.

I believe no Sabahan in their right frame of mind would believe whatever testimonies given by Mahathir," he said.

Bumburing said during Mahathir's long tenure at the helm of the government he had been denying that the government was giving out ICs to the illegal immigrant while at sametime justifying that these ICs were given only to those who were qualified.

"He had used his tight grip on the government to do whatever he liked.

He had also lied when he said that there is no immigration policy.

"While his government clearly encouraged or ignored the influx of foreigners in Sabah he had announced the infamous policy of "shoo or shoot" the Vietnamese boat people who fled their country in the late seventies and early eighties.

"This indeed is a double-standard immigration policy said Bumburing.

"The people of Sabah had agreed to join in the formation of Malaysia on the promise of security, justice, equality and prosperity of the local people.

Clearly to this date, this promise had not been fulfilled.

"The government had abandoned Sabah and left it to fend for itself in all fields competing daily with the influx of immigrants, which had suited their political agenda.

"The government also practised discriminatory policy, even among the bumiputeras, in all sectors by way of the undeclared silent policy of "Malay first".

"Ask any ordinary Kadazandusun, for example, and they feel that they have been treated as third class bumiputeras. The revenue from the oil from Sabah was used by Mahathir to build infrastructures in Semenanjung Malaysia and to finance his many mega projects leaving Sabah the poorest state in the country.

"I came to know about a recent unpublished report that Sabah is sliding down in the poverty ladder," he claimed.

He recalled when Mahathir was invited to officiate a function jointly-organised by the Kadazandusun Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Dayak Chamber of Commerce in Kuala Lumpur some years back.

In response to a point raised by the leaders of these two chambers as to why the Kadazandusun and Dayak did not equitably benefit from the new economic policy that the government had introduced, he simply said " terlimpas pandang" or oversight.

This proved that the two communities were not important in his government policy.

"His promise on special programmes to help the two communities is an empty promise until his retirement into "emeritus prime minister" status," he said.

Bumburing said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's message to the people of Sabah on the occasion of the "50th National Day" that the government would not neglect Sabah and Sarawak proved that for 50 years the two states had not been at par with Malaya in terms development.

"His (Najib) statement also alludes to the notion that for 50 years Sabah indeed has been indirectly neglected by the Federal Government.

"If the government is serious and sincere in pulling Sabah and Sarawak out of their under-developed status and place them on the same level with the rest of the states in the country then the government must offer the people a very clear policy on the three main problems, especially in Sabah, namely the illegal immigrant issues, backward development and poverty.


Komas activist in court over Sri Lankan film

Posted: 17 Sep 2013 02:31 PM PDT


(FMT) - Human rights NGO Pusat Komas today slammed Putrajaya for "the utmost form of harassment," for charging its activist for screening the controversial documentary "No Fire Zone, the Killing Fields of Sri Lanka" on July 3.

Its director Tan Jo Hann today said its programme director Lena Hendry – one of the three arrested during the screening of the film – was asked to be in the KL Magistrate's Court tomorrow (Sept 19) to face charges.

"This is the Malaysian authorities' utmost form of harassment and direct violation of freedom of speech, assembly and association, which is guaranteed under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution," Tan said in a statement.

"It is sad that Malaysia being part of the Human Rights Council should, in fact, be defenders instead of persecutors of human rights activists," he added.

Tan urged the Home Ministry (KDN) and Attorney-General Chambers (AGC) to "come to their senses and immediately drop the charges and cease all investigations into the screening of the film."

"There is definitely no cause to prolong this intimidation and harassment with strong arm tactics of the law and abusing government agencies against human rights defenders," he said.

He claimed that, "No Fire Zone" was a credible and highly regarded documentary, which highlighted the atrocities committed by the government and military against its citizens.

"It did seem that the Sri Lankan government told the Malaysian authorities to stop the screening on July 3. Also, Sri Lanka embassy representatives went to the venue to try stop the screening," he said.

"Ironically, the Malaysia authorities seemed to be sending the message that they are "closing one eye" and sometimes both eyes to films that actually incite racism and discrimination," he said, adding that "the government often endorsed and even funded these productions, which were also allowed to be screened in public cinemas nationwide."

Home Ministry, police and Immigration Department personnel raided the venue on July 3, leading to the arrest of Lena, Komas executive director Arul Prakash and director Anna Har.

The trio were released on bail and slated to appear at the Magistrates' court on Aug 6. However, Arul received a call from KDN officer Akilah Bakri on Aug 5 informing them that charges had not been filed against them thus, were not required to appear at the court the next day.

Read more at : http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/nation/2013/09/18/komas-activist-in-court-over-sri-lankan-film/ 

Miss World Organizers Outraged As Govt Submits to Hard-Liners

Posted: 17 Sep 2013 10:54 AM PDT


(Jakarta Globe) - Outraged Miss World organizers and human rights activists have condemned the Indonesian government for its lack of support for the event, saying the last-minute decision to keep the entire pageant in Bali is yet another example of authorities bowing to religious extremists.

On Monday, the MNC Group, the country's largest media company and the main organizer of Miss World 2013, announced it would move the pageant's grand final, slated for Sept. 28, from Bogor, south of Jakarta, to Nusa Dua in Bali at the request of the government, after the strong urging of Muslim hard-line groups.

Liliana Tanoesoedibjo, the event's head organizer who was forced to find a new venue in the space of four days after spending more than three years preparing for the event, expressed disappointment in the nation's leaders and the lack of effort from religious groups to compromise.

"They [those opposing the event] don't understand what Miss World is about, and they don't want to compromise," Liliana, the chairwoman of the Miss Indonesia group — which is the organizing committee for Miss World 2013 — told the Jakarta Globe.

"Maybe if the government was stronger something could be done, but it's because the government is not strong," said Liliana, the wife of MNC Group owner Hary Tanoesoedibjo, one of Indonesia's wealthiest individuals and a vice presidential candidate for next year's election.

In a statement, MNC said that it had suffered heavy financial losses due to the Miss World relocation, having to rearrange activities at the last minute and moving the accommodations for the 129 contestants, their supporters and family members.

Not deterred

Liliana said the criticism the event had garnered had not deterred her but conceded she was growing increasingly frustrated by those in opposition to the pageant, believing they were using its widespread global attention to promote their own agendas.

"We know that some people are criticizing because they want to be acknowledged in the world. They want to have their own opinion so they take advantage of this event to make their name big," she said, adding "if their motive was right they would want to talk with us."

In the lead-up to the event many religious groups, including the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) and the Islamic People's Forum (FUI), have spoken out, held demonstrations throughout the country and accused Miss World of damaging women's dignity by exploiting their bodies and degrading Islamic teachings.

In response to the negativity surrounding the event and the increasing threats of violence by Islamic extremists, Liliana said it was "sad," because the very reason to hold the competition was to "promote unity and Indonesia to the world."

"We all give the best for Indonesia, we have the passion for Indonesia, we love our country. We don't want to degrade Indonesia," she said, highlighting the benefits the international competition would bring to the nation, especially to the tourism sector and other industries including fashion, as well as promoting social causes.

Miss World is very happy with how MNC has managed the event despite the criticism it has received and the lack of government support, Liliana said.

"In other countries, Miss World is managed by the government, but we have done everything ourselves," she added.

Speaking from Bali, Andreas Harsono, head researcher for Human Rights Watch Indonesia, said the only message the competition is currently sending to the world was that Indonesia was undergoing a "radicalization of Islam."

Read more at: http://www.thejakartaglobe.com/news/miss-world-organizers-outraged-as-govt-submits-to-hard-liners/ 

NGO staff to be charged for “war crimes” documentary screening

Posted: 17 Sep 2013 10:48 AM PDT


(TMI) - A Pusat Komas staffer will be charged in court soon over the screening of the documentary  No Fire Zone, which is allegedly based on the atrocities by the Sri Lankan forces in the final days of the country's civil war.

Komas programme coordinator Lena Hendry is believed to have been ordered to present herself at the Kuala Lumpur magistrate's court tomorrow.

Two other coordinators, Anna Har and Arul Prakash were also arrested during a raid by the Home Ministry at the screening of the documentary on July 8 but it is understood that only Lena will be charged under the Film Censorship Act 2002.

In a statement released today, Komas director Tan Jo Hann said, "This is the utmost form of harassment and direct violation of freedom of speech, assembly and association by the Malaysian authorities guaranteed for under Article 10 of the Malaysian Constitution."

The documentary No Fire Zone: In the Killing Fields of Sri Lanka is said to cover the war crimes committed by the Sri Lankan government during the civil war in 2009.

Read more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/ngo-staff-to-be-charged-for-war-crimes-documentary-screening 

Majority of Malaysian businesses not GST-ready

Posted: 17 Sep 2013 10:27 AM PDT


(The Sun Daily) - FMM said local businesses, especially the small and medium enterprises (SMEs), are still adjusting to higher costs of production following the introduction of the minimum wage, the minimum retirement age for private sector employees, increased Employees Provident Fund contributions beyond 55 years and rising costs of transport, including port charges.

As the push for the implementation of the much-awaited goods and services tax (GST) gathers pace, it is found that as low as 5% of Malaysian businesses are prepared for the consumption tax.

According to the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM), local manufacturers are not preparing themselves for GST as the government is still evaluating the pros and cons and readiness of the population to accept the new tax regime.

"We understand that a number of companies do not have any allocation in their annual budget to prepare for the GST," FMM told SunBiz.

A survey by FMM in April 2012 to assess the readiness of businesses in implementing GST showed that over 60% of businesses that responded were not ready for GST. The remaining 40% indicated that they have made some preparations, such as attending seminars and training to familiarise themselves with the GST scheme.

However, the FMM survey noted that multinational corporations would have the least problems adopting GST as they can leverage on the expertise from their global network of offices.

FMM said local businesses, especially the small and medium enterprises (SMEs), are still adjusting to higher costs of production following the introduction of the minimum wage, the minimum retirement age for private sector employees, increased Employees Provident Fund contributions beyond 55 years and rising costs of transport, including port charges.

The federation is of the view that the GST implementation should be deferred as it imposes heavy tax administration burden on industries, in particular the SMEs.

Deloitte Malaysia country GST leader Tan Eng Yew (pix) told SunBiz most businesses are undecided whether to embark on any GST readiness exercise pending affirmative announcement by the government.

Tan observed that less than 5% of the businesses have started getting themselves ready.

He said GST preparation has wide-ranging implications requiring the involvement of people, processes and technology as all these components would be critical for businesses to be GST-ready.

Tan said top of the wish list of businesses is to allow a deduction of all GST implementation cost. Smaller businesses are also hoping that the government will provide free software to assist them to be GST-compliant.

What would be the appropriate GST rate to begin with?

Tan believes it should be 6% to justify a tax system revamp of this magnitude to replace the existing narrow-based service tax of 6% and sales tax of generally 10%.

When it was mooted in 2004, he said, the proposed GST rate was 4% but based on the Performance Management & Delivery Unit's simulation at 5%, it may generate additional revenue of up to RM8 billion.

"We anticipate the introduction of GST will be followed by a reduction in corporate and individual income tax rates, which would make our tax structure more competitive regionally," said Tan.

He added that export-oriented businesses will benefit tremendously since the GST system zero rates all exports of goods and services, thereby enhancing price competitiveness.

For the government, the wider base of GST ensures a fairer tax system.

Meanwhile, FMM said GST will not only add to the tax burden but will also lead to a manifold increase in the volume of administrative work.

"We do not see GST benefiting businesses in the manufacturing sector. We acknowledge that the government has to take steps to reduce the budget deficit. However, introducing GST to deal with the persistent budget deficit may not be the only way forward," it said.

"We are of the view that reducing wastages or leakages in government expenditure, ensuring better value for every ringgit spent and improving efficiency in utilising public funds to reduce the current deficit should be given priority over the introduction of GST, which would hurt the economy, especially given the weak external environment," it added.

The federation said, instead, the government must ensure that the export sector remains vibrant and competitive given the intense competition in global and regional markets.

It added that all forms of help should be given to Malaysian exporters and SMEs to achieve the required cost and productivity efficiency. 

Malaysians Brace for Austerity as Najib Cools Spending: Economy

Posted: 17 Sep 2013 10:17 AM PDT


(Bloomberg) - Najib went on a spending binge to woo voters before the May election, including smartphone rebates for youths, household electricity subsidies and higher wages for civil servants. He's now focusing government spending on more specific areas, saying public projects with low import content will continue while those requiring more imports will be "sequenced accordingly." 

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak returned to power this year with the help of a spending spree that boosted consumption. Now voters could feel the pinch as he tries to appease a different group: rating companies.

Najib's government raised subsidized fuel prices for the first time since 2010 this month and has said it will delay some infrastructure projects, seeking to contain the budget gap and shore up the current account after Fitch Ratings cut Malaysia's credit outlook to negative in July. It is also considering a goods and services tax in the 2014 fiscal plan due Oct. 25.

The shift toward austerity could cool the domestic demand and investment that kept Malaysia's gross domestic product rising an average 6 percent in the three years through 2012. The country joins Asian emerging markets such as Indonesia in confronting slower growth as they deal with the side effects of spurring local consumption, undermining the region's role as the main driver of global expansion.

"It's payback time," said Santitarn Sathirathai, a Singapore-based economist at Credit Suisse Group AG, who cut Malaysia's 2013 growth forecast to 4.4 percent from 5 percent this month. "Current-account deterioration, fiscal balance deterioration, higher leverage, all these things are the price you have to pay" for boosting domestic demand, he said.

Along with rising national debt and a dwindling current-account surplus, Malaysians have also accumulated Southeast Asia's highest level of household borrowings at 80.5 percent of GDP, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch. The central bank in July imposed curbs including a shorter maximum tenure for mortgages, saying household indebtedness has expanded by an average of 12 percent per annum in the past five years.

Read more at: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-09-16/malaysians-brace-for-shift-to-austerity-as-najib-cools-spending.html 

Kredit: www.malaysia-today.net

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