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Malaysia Today - Your Source of Independent News

‘Malaysia Named Second Most Dynamic’

Posted: 16 Sep 2013 05:18 PM PDT

(BT) - Malaysia has been ranked the second most dynamic country in Asean after Singapore by the Grand Thornton Global Dynamism index (GDI) 2013, after scoring best in key areas such as business operating and financing environment for growing business.

Datuk N.K. Jasani, the independent assurance tax and advisory firm's managing partner, said Malaysia also provides good financing environment as it scored the highest in Asean for access to medium-term capital.

The GDI, now in its second year, ranks 60 of the world's largest economies on their dynamism, drawing on both economic and business survey data. It marks each economy across five key areas of dynamism to produce an overall score.

The index ranks economies by how much their business growth environment improved in 2012. The 2013 index evaluates where countries stand in relation to one another with regards to their dynamismlevel.

According to Grant Thornton, dynamism is defined as a combination of factors that highlight countries' growth potential. It refers to the changes in an economy over the past 12 months which are likely to lead a fast rate of future growth.

In the GDI 2013, Singapore scored 61.9, the highest in Asean, followed by Malaysia with 59.5 and Thailand, 56.4.

Jasani said Malaysia is ranked 13th globally by the GDI in terms of global position, which is a major improvement of 11 places from the year before. Australia is at the top position, followed by Chile and China.

He added that Malaysia is performing strongly in key areas such as economics and growth (eighth spot), labour and human capital (11th) and financing environment (16th), compared with the other countries.

"We have climbed to rank eighth on economics and growth, boosted by higher gross domestic product (GDP) and consumption growth. Our real GDP growth is ranked ninth in the world," Jasani said, adding that Malaysia's position in labour and human capital has gained 13 places and ranked 11th globally.

He said the country has moved up seven spots in the financing environment ranking to 16, thanks to improvements in the corporate tax burden and access of firms to medium-term capital.

Meanwhile, Malaysia's labour productivity growth has risen six notches to 12th spot in the world, Jasani said in a statement.  

Anti-Shi’a Sectarianism Spreads to Malaysia

Posted: 16 Sep 2013 04:54 PM PDT

"Shiism could be regarded as a 'poison' that can destroy the harmony and security of the country as what is happening in some other countries, including Iran, Iraq and Pakistan," Wan Zahidi said, BBC Monitoring reported, citing a report in the Malaysian paper, Berita Harian, one of the country's oldest papers.

The bitter sectarianism that has been engulfing the Middle East appears to be spreading to parts of Southeast Asia.

Mufti Datuk Wan Zahidi Wan Teh, a radical Islamist in Malaysia, called for cutting all ties to Iran because of its adherence to Shi'a Islam.

"Shiism could be regarded as a 'poison' that can destroy the harmony and security of the country as what is happening in some other countries, including Iran, Iraq and Pakistan," Wan Zahidi said, BBC Monitoring reported, citing a report in the Malaysian paper, Berita Harian, one of the country's oldest papers.

The report added that Wan Zahidi said Malaysia should emulate Morocco is severing ties with Iran, and said that "The Shiite teachings must be blocked, just as we restricted the spread of Communism in this country some time ago."

The radical Islamist reportedly made the remarks at the Islamic Center in Kuala Lumpur over the weekend, which was holding a seminar titled "Facing the Shiite Virus."

Wan Zahidi is known for his controversial comments and claims. Earlier this year, he made global headlines when he issued a fatwa declaring that participating in beauty pageants was forbidden (haram) for Muslim women. As a result of the fatwa, four Muslim women were forced to drop out of the Miss Malaysian contest.

Wan Zahidi's comments and the anti-Shi'a conference seem to reflect a growing anti-Shi'a trend in Malaysia, which is over 60 percent Islamic and about 20 percent Buddhist.

Last month, a minister from the Prime Minister's Department told reporters that Shi'a inside Malaysia were not allowed to propagate their religion.

"It is not wrong for them to practice Shia Islam, just like it isn't wrong for Malaysian Chinese to practice Buddhism," the minister said at a press conference. "But they can't spread the ideology to the local Muslims, who are Sunnis."

Reports in the Malaysian media have also said that persons in possession of Shi'a religious materials had been arrested and faced up to two years in prison along with fines.

There has always been a degree of sectarianism in Malaysian society, although this could be increasing because of increased Iranian immigration to the country as well as the growing sectarianism in the Middle East.

Recent years have seen an influx of Iranian nationals into the Southeast Asian country. According to one estimate by the Middle East Institute, more than 100,000 Iranian nationals are living in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur alone. The MEI report also noted that many Sunni Malaysians have chosen to convert to Shi'ism voluntarily. This is especially controversial among Malaysian religious authorities.

Indeed, the BBC Monitoring report quotes one participant at this weekend's seminar as saying he had been tricked into worshipping Shi'ism for six years but had since converted back. The individual said the Iranian Revolution in 1979 had been particularly influential in convincing him to adopt the Shi'a faith.

Zachary Keck is Associate Editor of The Diplomat.


Retract statement, Rayer tells Chang

Posted: 16 Sep 2013 04:47 PM PDT

(The Star) - A state assemblyman has threatened to sue Gerakan acting president Datuk Chang Ko Youn if he does not retract a statement that Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng favoured only the rich and the well-connected in Penang's government policies.

Seri Delima assemblyman R.S.N. Rayer gave Chang 48 hours from yesterday to retract the alleged defamatory statement.

Chang had also allegedly stated that Lim had made decisions without the approval of his state executive councillors and the state planning committee.

Rayer claimed Lim had performed better than his predecessor, Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon.

He singled out the Kampung Buah Pala issue, where the former residents were each compensated with a double-storey terrace house, and a recent illegal hill clearing where a prominent developer was charged in court for his action.

"I hope Chang would act gentlemanly and retract his statement," Rayer said at a press conference here yesterday.

Rayer said he would also file a complaint with the Penang Bar committee against lawyer Ranjit Singh Dhillon, who is the committee's criminal law chairman, for allegedly meddling in DAP's matters.

This followed reports that Ranjit had asked DAP national chairman Karpal Singh to declare his assets over allegations that Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had given him RM50mil to bribe judges and prosecutors.

Ranjit had reportedly also hit out at DAP over its alleged failure to submit the original letters from the 500 delegates who purportedly confirmed that they were not attending the party's elections here last year.

"He is not a politician. He is not authorised by the Bar Committee to speak to the press on politics," Rayer said of Ranjit.


Forgive Chin Peng, let him be buried back home, Putrajaya urged

Posted: 16 Sep 2013 04:15 PM PDT

(MM) - Adopting a softer approach, PAS and PKR pleaded today with the Najib administration to soften its stance and let exiled Malayan communist leader Chin Peng be buried in his Sitiawan, Perak hometown.

PAS central committee member Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (pic) told The Malay Mail Online he disagreed with the late communist's ideology, but said the government should acknowledge the contribution of the man born Ong Boon Hua, to the country's struggle for independence from colonial British rule and put into perspective.

"If we are able to forgive and forget the atrocities of the Japanese as well as the British, why aren't we able to magnanimously forgive Chin Peng?" Dzulkefly asked.

"The Japanese plundered even worse, and so did the British... There is a need to rewrite the history of our struggle for independence and put in perspective all those who struggled and contributed in their respective ways," added the director of the PAS research centre.

Chin Peng died on Malaysia Day yesterday in Bangkok, Thailand, in exile.

The Bangkok Post had reported the 88-year-old's death was due to old age.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said yesterday that Putrajaya would not allow Chin Peng to be laid to rest in Malaysia, calling him a "terrorist leader that waged war on the nation".

Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar also said that security has been heightened at borders and entry points to prevent attempts to smuggle Chin Peng's remains into the country.

PKR vice-president N. Surendran reminded Putrajaya that the Malaysian government had signed a peace treaty with Chin Peng in 1989 that allowed members of the now-defunct Malayan Communist Party (CPM) to return to their homeland if they laid down arms.

"It's wrong of us as a nation to go back on the terms and spirit of the agreement," Surendran told The Malay Mail Online.

"He's dead now, surely we should be magnanimous," added the Padang Serai MP.

Yesterday, DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang said it was time to "move on" from the past and noted that it was Chin Peng's wish to have his ashes returned to his birth place in Sitiawan, Perak.

"Whether one agrees or not with his struggle, his place in history is assured," said Lim.

In a statement yesterday, former CPM chairman Abdullah CD said Chin Peng had loved Malaysia very much.

"He had the wisdom and courage to bring peace to our country," said Abdullah, who had remained a close comrade and friend to Chin Peng over the years.

"We fought to death to defend our country against foreign aggressors. Together we mustered the courage to fight against evil forces and injustices in society," he added in the statement representing several peace villages formed in Southern Thailand after

Chin Peng, who was then the CPM secretary-general, had led a violent 12-year insurgency from 1948 to 1960 against British colonial rule and continued his battle even after Malaya achieved independence in 1957, and after Malaysia was formed in 1963.

Malayan Communist guerrilla fighters had burned villages, orchestrated assassinations and attacked police stations before the military force provided by British Commonwealth nations forced his movement into the jungle.

The violence left more than 10,000 people dead and led the British to isolate and resettle more than 400,000 Chinese in "new villages" to cut Chin Peng's presumed base of support, US daily, Washington Post reported today.

Chua Tian Chang, another PKR vice-president, also said today there was no reason for the government to prohibit Chin Peng's ashes from being brought back to Malaysia.

"Why do we have new villages? We have ISA (Internal Security Act). We have the Emergency Ordinance. We have Rela. We have Rukun Tetangga. All these things, have one way or another, to do with the movement led by Chin Peng," Chua told The Malay Mail Online.

"We cannot erase all this and come into a historical vacuum," added the Batu MP.

The Kumpulan Aktivis Mahasiswa Independen (KAMI) said yesterday that they were willing to make arrangements to bring back Chin Peng's remains.

"He is still an independence fighter for students and the youth, especially in KAMI," the student group said in statement yesterday.

"Tunku Abdul Rahman himself acknowledged Chin Peng's contributions, but why are those who took up arms not getting the honour they deserve?" it added. 


Have a heart, Karpal tells Putrajaya on Chin Peng

Posted: 16 Sep 2013 04:08 PM PDT

V. Anbalagan, TMI

DAP national chairman Karpal Singh (pic) said Putrajaya should allow the ashes of Chin Peng to be buried in his hometown in Sitiawan, Perak.

"The government must be magnanimous after his death. They did not allow him to return during his lifetime," he said in response to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's statement that Putrajaya would not entertain any application by Chin Peng's family members to bring back his body to Malaysia for burial.

Chin Peng, who would have been 90 next month, died in a Bangkok hospital yesterday morning.

Karpal said once a person was dead his past was irrelevant.

He said it was a well-known fact that Chin Peng was born in Sitiawan although he had lost his birth certificate while escaping from the British during a raid.

"He was definitely born in Sitiawan and there is no doubt about that. This could have been proved from available records and witnesses like family friends," he told reporters after attending the sodomy appeal of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in Putrajaya.

Karpal said politicians, historians and individuals judged Chin Peng differently but it could not be denied that the communist leader had expedited Malaya's attainment of independence.

"He fought the Japanese with the British, and later the British," he said.



No way Chin Peng’s remains can return to Malaysia, says former police chief Hanif

Posted: 16 Sep 2013 04:02 PM PDT

Lee Shi-Ian, TMI

"We don't owe Chin Peng anything. He caused Malaysia and its people a lot of harm which resulted in more than 10,000 deaths and untold misery for the families of those who died," said former Inspector-General of Police Tun Hanif Omar (pic) in dismissing calls for the remains of the former Communist Party of Malaya leader to be brought back to Malaysia.

According to Hanif, Chin Peng and his followers had refused an offer to return to the country within a year of signing the peace accord in 1989.

"When Chin Peng finally applied in 2005 to return to Malaysia, the boat had sailed and there was absolutely no reason to admit him back into the country unless he could prove that he had applied to return within that one-year window, which he couldn't," Hanif told The Malaysian Insider in a text message yesterday.

The former IGP who served from 1974 to 1994 instead called for more focus on those who had fought and defeated Chin Peng and his party, insisting that the families of security personnel who fought the communists should be looked after.

"Chin Peng and his followers refused the chance we gave them to return to Malaysia in 1989 and 1990, so they should be left outside our country. Under the terms of the Haadyai peace accord signed in 1989, we forgave them for their crimes," Hanif said, adding that while he had no love for Chin Peng, he would would have fought for his return so as to honour the peace accord terms.

Hanif claimed that one of the former CPM members who refused to return includes the man who assassinated his predecessor, Malaysia's third IGP Tan Sri Abdul Rahman Hashim.

He said the country did not want the assassin to return without facing murder charges.

Hanif rejected any debate on whether Chin Peng's remains or ashes should be allowed to return to Malaysia. He accused Chin Peng's sympathisers of supporting the CPM's armed insurrection to seize power in Malaysia, adding that they have misplaced loyalties.

Following the Japanese invasion of China in the late 1930s, Chin Peng dedicated himself to the Communist Internationale, an organisation created by communist icon Vladimir Lenin to bring together communists worldwide.

Chin Peng and CPM then joined hands with the British Force 136 to fight the Japanese in Malaya.

Hanif accused Chin Peng of plunging Malaya "into a cruel insurrection" lasting four decades at the behest of the USSR.



‘Revisit position of Islam, Malays in constitution’

Posted: 16 Sep 2013 03:41 PM PDT

A think-tank's CEO says the government is constantly emphasising on Articles 3 and 153 of the Federal Constitution, resulting in policies that are skewed to favour one community. 

K Pragalath, FMT

Institute of Democracy Economic and Social Affairs (Ideas) Chief Executive Officer Wan Saiful Wan Jan today called for the revisiting of the position of Islam and the Malays in the Federal Constitution as it had began dividing instead of uniting the society.

Since Article 153 safeguarded the special position of the Malays and natives in Sabah and Sarawak, and with article 3 stating that Islam was the official religion of the federation, the government had been reiterating that one group was superior and overemphasising on Islam.

In the light of that, the Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak had announced on Saturday the latest economic plan, Bumiputera Economic Empowerment Agenda (BEEA), to provide a bigger slice of the economic pie to the Malays and natives of Sabah and Sarawak.

"Hopefully, the articles can be removed in 10 to 15 years," Wan Saiful said when he spoke on how the clauses in the federal constitution affected the balance of power during a forum entitled, "Fifty years of democracy: Has it weakened or strengthened our federal constitution."

Wan Saiful also spoke on Najib's previous economic policy – the New Economic Model – which he said was, "liberalising but not much towards creating a 1Malaysia."

"Najib, through the BEEA, is steering the people towards viewing the government as further moving away from 1Malaysia concept crafted by the PM," he said, while urging the Malays who were not comfortable with Malay-favouring policies to speak up and influence other fellow Malays against it.



Kee’s new book prepares readers for GE14

Posted: 16 Sep 2013 03:36 PM PDT

Book re-energises the people because many have become disheartened when the change during GE13 did not take place.

K Pragalath, FMT

Malaysians clamouring for change must begin their work on the ground now to make their dream a reality, said The Elections Bullshit author Kee Thuan Chye.

"If you want change for a better Malaysia you will have to work for it," Kee said at the review of his book, the 10th in the Bullshit series.

"This book re-energises the people to work for change because many have become disheartened and lethargic when the change they had hoped for during 13th general election (GE13) did not take place," he told FMT.

He has also written a feature on GE13 which stands out from the other polls.

The feature refers to "comrade for change", a loose coalition of common people without political party affiliation and leaders who are grouped together to bring out change.

"They are total strangers but when they speak to one another about change, they become old friends," said Kee.

He said the issues raised during the 13th GE such as loyalty to Barisan Nasional and political violence would return prominently in the next polls.

Kee also told FMT that The Elections Bullshit was his way of campaigning for change.

The book is a 291-page compilation of articles previously published in websites such as Malaysian Digest, MSN Malaysia, Yahoo! Malaysia, Malaysiakini and Penang Monthly.

The book, which hit the bookstores a fortnight ago, is divided into pre-GE 13 to post- GE13 with 49 articles on various issues. It is targeted at the urban, English-educated tech-savvy fence sitters.

Kee spent about six weeks to compile and write the book.

He admitted that his books were unable to penetrate into the Malay-speaking rural areas.



Mukhriz likely to go for Umno VP post, upsetting party call for status quo

Posted: 16 Sep 2013 02:56 PM PDT 

(TMI) - In the past few days, Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak has been sending out feelers to party delegates and power brokers: he would like the current slate of Umno vice-presidents to be returned at the upcoming party polls. 

But this neat plan of helping Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal and Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein retain their positions is likely to be muddled with Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir (pic, below) almost certain to decide tonight on putting his name in for one of the three vice-presidents' slots.

Sources told The Malaysian Insider that Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad's son is meeting Kedah party chieftains today and will later make an announcement about his ambitions in the party.

His decision to enter the fray will put Najib in an uncomfortable position. If the current party president stays neutral, it is likely that his cousin, Hishammuddin, could be a loser when votes are tallied.

If his aides and operatives continue making the rounds and indicating that he wants the status quo, he could upset the Dr Mahathir camp.

In recent weeks, bloggers aligned to the former prime minister have been talking up Mukhriz's chances of securing one of the three vice-presidential slots, which is seen as a step closer to being at the top of the party leadership.

The 48-year-old became Kedah mentri besar after winning a state seat in the May 5 general election and pro-Umno bloggers feel that he should take a shot at the vice-presidency or lose out in seniority to other upcoming leaders in Umno.

Others in the running to be vice-presidents are Felda chairman Tan Sri Isa Samad and former Malacca chief minister Datuk Seri Ali Rustam, although the latter is said to have been offered a senatorship and a plum corporate post to withdraw from the race.

Ali was knocked out of the deputy president's race in the last party elections in 2009 after claims of money politics.

But Dr Mahathir has said the party needs renewal and younger leaders, in what is seen as a call to party veterans to allow Mukhriz and those his age to move up in the party.



Judge recused from Anwar’s Sodomy II appeal

Posted: 16 Sep 2013 02:31 PM PDT 

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and wife Datuk Seri Wan Azizah arrive for the hearing of the government's appeal against Anwar's acquittal in the Sodomy II case at the Court of Appeal 

The case has been adjourned to tomorrow, when a new judge will replace Maimun on the Bench and decide on another earlier application by Anwar's lawyers to recuse prominent lawyer Datuk Seri Mohamed Shafee Abdullah from representing the government in its appeal.

Joseph Sipalan, The Malay Mail 

PUTRAJAYA, Sept 17 — The Court of Appeal today recused one of the three judges presiding over the government's appeal against Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's acquittal in his second sodomy trial.

The three-member bench, chaired by Datuk Ramly Ali, allowed the application by Anwar's lawyers to recuse Datuk Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat on grounds that she would be biased in her judgment.

Anwar's lead counsel, Karpal Singh said it was in the interest of the court to recuse Maimun as she had previously presided over and struck out the opposition leader's defamation suit against ex-Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed in the High Court in 2007.

Karpal argued that Maimun had at that time adopted the 2004 majority decision by a Federal Court that ruled to acquit Anwar of the then-deputy prime minister's first sodomy charge in the late 1990.

But then-Chief Justice Tun Abdul Hamid Mohamad, who chaired the Bench then, had taken note of evidence of Anwar's "homosexual tendencies".

"By adopting the judgment, she is bound by it and that would make her biased as a member of the quorum," Karpal later told reporters outside the courtroom, referring to Maimun, after the appellate court decided to recuse her from the Bench.

"The court would also have to deal with the public perception that if she sits on the panel, she would be biased and public perception will be against her sitting on the panel," the lawyer added.

The case has been adjourned to tomorrow, when a new judge will replace Maimun on the Bench and decide on another earlier application by Anwar's lawyers to recuse prominent lawyer Datuk Seri Mohamed Shafee Abdullah from representing the government in its appeal.

It was earlier reported that Shafee's appointment was made under Section 376(c) of the Criminal Procedure Code, which allows the public prosecutor to appoint "proper persons" to be deputy public prosecutors under his control and to exercise all rights and powers vested by the prosecutor.

Anwar claimed in his application that the Attorney-General's Chambers should be able to find another lawyer to represent the prosecution, as Shafee had been involved in previous cases against him.

Ramly indicated the Court of Appeal would likely set a later date to hear the appeal after deciding on Shafee's position as the judges did not think there would be enough time to hear all submissions on the same day.


Malaysia to erect wall along river border

Posted: 16 Sep 2013 02:20 PM PDT

(Bangkok Post) - Thailand has expressed support for Malaysia's plan to build a wall and perimeter fencing along the banks of the Kolok River, which separates Malaysia's Kelantan state from Thailand's Narathiwat province.

Thai-Malaysian Regional Border Committee secretary Adisak Prachakittikul said Thailand did not see any problem with Malaysia's plan because the construction would not encroach on Thai territory.

Kelantan state is opposite Narathiwat's Sukhirin, Sungai Kolok, Tak Bai and Waeng districts.

"We believe it will be good for the countries in preventing the smuggling of contraband goods," Col Adisak said.

Col Adisak said Thailand had a similar plan to build a wall and fence along the border to prevent smuggling and other forms of border crime. "The Internal Security Operations Command's Region 4 is conducting an aerial survey to assess the feasibility of a wall and fence on the Thai side," he said.

Army chief Prayuth Chan-ocha said the construction of border walls and fences is standard international practice.

On Sunday, the New Straits Times newspaper reported on its website that Malaysia's Home Ministry plans to declare areas connected to the 121-kilometre Kelantan border as security zones, to prevent trans-national crime.

Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the wall and fence programme should be speeded up, as the problems in Kelantan were worse than in other states.

"The idea was proposed by the state police, and I agreed it should proceed quickly," he said after visiting the Kelantan police contingent headquarters on Saturday.

"I will apply for a special allocation from the prime minister, as he understands the limitations faced by the police and other enforcement agencies.

"I think a long-term solution to the problem is to build a wall and declare the border as a security area."

Dr Zahid said the wall and fence would deter drugs and firearms smuggling as well as stop criminals from fleeing across territories.

He said residents living along the river would not be relocated, but all illegal jetties would be destroyed and more policemen would be assigned to the area.

"I realise the livelihoods of people living along the border will be affected by the proposed plan," Dr Zahid said.

"But we have to stop the smuggling of firearms and drugs and prevent criminals escaping across the border. The country's security must be a priority." 


Malaysia Cites Muslim Peace-Broking Record in UN Council Push

Posted: 16 Sep 2013 02:14 PM PDT 

(Bloomberg) - Malaysia said its track-record as a moderate Muslim nation and peace facilitator makes it well-suited to be chosen as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council.

The Southeast Asian nation is lobbying to hold the rotating seat for a year from 2015, Malaysia's foreign ministry said in a statement today. A decision isn't expected until the UN General Assembly in October 2014.

Malaysia hosted the first round of formal peace talks between the Thai government and Muslim separatists this year in a bid to stem violence that has killed more than 5,000 people in the past decade. It's also mediating with some Islamic rebel groups seeking autonomy in the southern Philippines.

"If Malaysia is chosen as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, we will show our unanimous support with other member countries in finding a peaceful and lasting solution in world conflicts," Anifah Aman, Malaysia's foreign minister, said in an e-mailed statement today. "The acceptance will allow Malaysia to share its experience in resolving conflicts."

The Philippines launched air strikes against Muslim rebels yesterday as President Benigno Aquino sought to bring an end to a standoff that has killed 87 people and complicated efforts to bring peace to the south. Seventy-one Moro National Liberation Front fighters have died in recent clashes, and 64 have surrendered or been captured, military spokesman Major Angelo Guzman said in a mobile-phone message. 

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