Ahad, 6 Oktober 2013

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GST is payment for 'free dinners'

Posted: 06 Oct 2013 11:31 AM PDT


But if the government cannot cut expenditure because it has to give "free dinners" every five years, Woo quipped, then it is basically imposing such taxes to make people "pay for their dinners" after the election is over.

Himanshu Bhatt, fz.com

Slowly but surely, across the nation the jitters are rising as the days inch closer towards Oct 25 – when the Prime Minister is expected to announce a new Goods and Services Tax (GST) while tabling Budget 2014.

Many quarters are of course very worried about the burden of double or multiple taxes with the introduction of such a tax. There are also concerns that businesses will increase their prices and thereby create a spiral inflation effect.
Certainly, the burden will be biggest on the poor.
According to a study by the Penang Institute, the GST is expected to raise RM7.5 billion from households alone.
Assuming that the tax rate would be 7%, each household would end up paying RM104 per month on average.
This is based on the latest Household Expenditure Survey which says that the average household pays 4.41% of expenditure or 2.6% of income.
But there are wider implications, including inflation spiking by 3.86%.
Whatever the rate is, there is going to be a secondary impact, the study shows.
Dr Lim Kim Hwa, a fellow with the institute and a fellow in Finance and Financial Reporting at the University of Cambridge, recently said that passing on costs to consumers is a very likely consequence of the GST.
"It's the secondary impact, where people start passing the amount by charging more," he told a forum on the GST organised by the Penang Institute here, recently.
"After the implementation of the GST we expect there will be a sustained period of high inflation."
One important element is commercial property, Lim pointed out.
While residential properties will not be subjected to GST, nothing has been said of commercial properties.
"And that has implications," he said. For example, when owners add GST to rentals, it would definitely increase the cost of doing business in Malaysia.

Read more at: http://www.fz.com/content/gst-payment-free-dinners 

Menteri Bawak Budak Naik Moto Tak Pakai Helmet Jadi Isu

Posted: 06 Oct 2013 11:23 AM PDT


(mynewshub) - Rasaya kalau di kampung-kampung tu normal la keluar makan angin naik motorsikal tak pakai topi keledar. Adakalanya polis trafik pun tak tegur pasal benda tu dah jadi macam budaya yang susah nak dikikis. Namun, bila seorang bertaraf menteri buat camtu, lain pulak la jadinya kan.

Kelakukan yang tak ada siapa nak kisah mula diulas dari pelbagai segi.

"Yang salah tetap salah…"

Itulah antara baris ayat yang muncul selepas sekeping gambar memperlihatkan Menteri Belia dan Sukan, Khairy Jamaluddin yang juga Ahli Parlimen Rembau bersiar-siar dengan seorang anak kecil tanpa memakai topi keledar muncul.

Entah gambar bila… namun tetap juga dijadikan isu. 

Many Malays learning Mandarin in Kelantan

Posted: 06 Oct 2013 11:17 AM PDT


(ST) - Proportionately more Malays study Chinese in this state than in others

IN A recent two-hour class in one of Kelantan's religious schools, female students in veils and loose-fitting baju kurungs - traditional Malay wear - learn how to read and speak in Mandarin and write in Chinese.


Their teacher is Mr Wang Yin Kang, a Chinese-Muslim teacher from Yunnan, China.


Some of his students in the Tarbiyah Mardhiyah Religious Secondary School, which means "Upbringing that pleases Allah" in Arabic, are also members of the Chinese Language society, where they take up drama classes and carry out dialogues in Mandarin, supervised by Mr Wang.


There is a famous saying in Islam: "Seek knowledge even as far as China." It appears that Malay-Muslims in Kelantan are, as closely as possible, trying to do just that.


Kelantan is the most Malay state in the country, yet there are proportionately more Malays studying Chinese here than in other states.


It is common to find Malays enrolling their children in Chinese-language schools or attending Chinese-language classes offered in religious schools.


The state government under Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) funds Mandarin classes in schools. It even sent three Malay-Muslim teaching college graduates to study Mandarin in Guangzhou, China in 2009 and has hired a few teachers from China to conduct Mandarin classes.


Many Kelantanese take the lead from their revered former menteri besar, said Mr Hu Pang Chaw, chairman of the PAS Supporters Congress, the party's non-Muslim wing.


"The Kelantanese see the party's spiritual leader Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat as the prime example of someone who encourages the younger generation to take up the Chinese language, as five of his grandchildren attend Chinese schools," he said.


Located in the north-east of Peninsular Malaysia bordering Thailand and looking out to the South China Sea, Kelantan's population is 95 per cent ethnic Malay. Chinese, Thais and Indians make up the rest of the state's population of 1.6 million.


All around Malaysia, more parents are sending their children to Chinese schools and Chinese tuition classes. But in Kelantan, the concentration of Malay students in these schools is much higher.


Statistics on Malays' enrolment in Chinese vernacular schools funded by the government are not publicly released.

But according to Mr Hu, between 20 per cent and 50 per cent of the student population in Kelantan's 15 Chinese vernacular primary schools and two secondary schools are Malay. In a Chinese primary school in Rantau Panjang on the outskirts of Kelantan, two- thirds of the students are Malays.


In other parts of Malaysia, there is an average of about 10 per cent Malay students in Chinese schools.


Read more at: http://www.stasiareport.com/the-big-story/asia-report/malaysia/story/many-malays-learning-mandarin-kelantan-20131007 

Snubbed by welfare dept, disabled man crawls up stairs

Posted: 06 Oct 2013 11:14 AM PDT


(National Express) - Kulim JKM director Rohana Yusof refused to receive the memorandum and instead chose to remain at the department's office on the first floor of the municipal council building complex.

A disabled man resorted to crawling up a flight of stairs in a bid to submit a memorandum to the Kulim Welfare Department (JKM) after its director snubbed his association.

When contacted, Padang Serai MP N Surendran said some 50 members from the Persatuan OKU Setia Daerah Kulim had protested outside JKM to voice their grouses about welfare benefits around 1.30pm today.

kulim welfare department 061013 surendran disabledHowever, he said Kulim JKM director Rohana Yusof refused to receive the memorandum and instead chose to remain at the department's office on the first floor of the municipal council building complex.

After waiting for over an hour under the hot sun, Surendran said one of the association's committee members, 53-year-old Gnana Pragasan (left), who cannot walk, decided to personally go up to the first floor and hand the memorandum to Rohana.

"With the memorandum in his mouth, he used his hands to climb all the way up and banged the door until the director finally came out to receive the memorandum," he said.

Surendran said the incident today illustrated the welfare department's insensitivity towards the disabled and elderly in the country.

kulim welfare department 061013 surendran disabled"It is a sucker punch for the disabled community, it is a national shame... the (Woman, Family and Community Development) minister must answer," he said.

Surendran said among the grouses in the memorandum was the fact that the Kulim JKM office was on the first floor where disabled people found it difficult to access.

They were also upset that JKM officers have refused conduct site visits to disabled people who cannot personally visit the department's office for assessment, while others were unhappy that they were not receiving their welfare allowance.

Also present at the scene were Lunas state assemblyperson Azman Nasrudin and PKR legal bureau chief Latheefa Koya. 

I was just stating the obvious, Pua says of “Umno running dogs” remark

Posted: 05 Oct 2013 07:11 PM PDT

Yiswaree Palansamy, TMI

DAP national publicity chief Tony Pua (pic) said he was merely stating the obvious when he described both the Registrar of Societies (ROS) and Umno mouthpiece Utusan Malaysia as Umno's running dogs.

"Isn't Utusan proud to be doing Umno's bidding after all? So why are they complaining? I was just stating the obvious," Pua told The Malaysian Insider in answer to Utusan's criticism of him in a report earlier today.

Pua said the Bahasa Malaysia daily had for weeks been suggesting that the party's secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, veteran member and adviser Lim Kit Siang and several of its top leaders would be discarded by delegates in the central executive committee (CEC) polls.

He said the outcome, however, proved Utusan to be "a frivolous gossip rag and nothing but an unscrupulous Umno mouthpiece".

"So where was I wrong in what I said? Our DAP delegates made Utusan swallow its own vomit and forced them to eat humble pie, and that is the reality," he said.

"My colours have remained true and the same, dulu, kini dan selamanya. So, I would like to thank Utusan for pointing out the obvious," he said in taking a jibe at the daily.

Pua posted the remarks on the night of DAP's September 29 special congress, when all the CEC members were elected without any change.

The DAP was instructed by ROS to hold the fresh election after allegations of vote manipulation in last year's December party polls.

Utusan had led the charge against DAP, demanding the party hold a fresh election after some members complained to the ROS of irregularities in the party election last year. 

In a commentary today, Awang Selamat, the moniker for the collective voice of the paper's editors, said he did not know what Pua's problem was.

"Once again he has shown his true colours when he called the ROS and Utusan Malaysia Umno's dogs.

"It is proven that Tony Pua does not have the confidence to make an orderly argument," said Awang Selamat in the paper's weekend edition, Mingguan Malaysia.

Awang also said he "does not need to stoop so low to become like Pua in using harsh words".

Pua has had a history of run-ins with Utusan Malaysia and in the past complained that the paper had distorted his statements.



LDP crisis: EGM sacks party chief, endorses his deputy

Posted: 05 Oct 2013 05:38 PM PDT

(The Star) - Over 60% of the 761 delegates at the Liberal Democratic Party extraordinary general meeting endorsed the rival faction led by sacked deputy president senator Datuk Chin Su Phin.

The 468 delegates, who turned up for the EGM here on Sunday, also endorsed the removal of embattled party president Datuk V.K. Liew.

In a series of moves since late August, Liew had sacked Chin and 27 of the 35 supreme council members to stave off any challenge to his leadership.

The delegates, who included from Liew's Tanjung Papat division, approved eight resolutions, including revoking all the sackings and suspensions of supreme council members and new appointments by Liew.

State Special Affairs Minister Datuk Teo Chee Kang, who was sacked by Liew as the party secretary general, said that 61.5% turnout of party's legal delegates was a clear signal to Liew and his faction to accept the voice of the majority.

"It is obvious from the results that Liew Vui Keong (VK Liew) has lost the support of the majority. This EGM is the turning point as all uncertainties has been made certain. I urge Liew's faction to face the political reality," Teo said.

Teo said they welcomed any move for reconciliation and admitted that they have been approached by senior Barisan Nasional leaders to work out a compromise.

"It is too early to comment on it," Teo said after the EGM that saw delegates from 26 of party's 31 divisions turning up.

As signs are becoming clear that Liew is not planning to give up his team's positions to the rival faction, both groups are likely to hold their respective annual general meeting on Oct 20.

Liew's faction will be holding their AGM in Sandakan while Chin's group will hold theirs in Kota Kinabalu.

It is understood that the Registrar of Societies have started investigations into the internal problems of LDP and have interviewed the leaders involved.


Same old shameful story

Posted: 05 Oct 2013 05:26 PM PDT

Every year, we recoil in shock when we read the Auditor-General's Report and yet we hear little about punishment being meted out to those responsible for the colossal loss of billions of ringgit.

Wong Chun Wai, The Star

IT'S simply disgusting and shameful. Whether the colossal loss of billions of ringgit is due to negligence, slipshod decisions, incompetence, stupidity, criminal breach of trust or, worse, plain corruption, Malaysians are finding it too painful to bear.

Every year, we read of such horrible accounts and yet we hear little about punishment being meted out to those responsible.

Who can blame taxpayers if they have the perception that the Auditor-General's reports are tabled in Parliament yearly only because it is mandated by law? Aside from the fiery debates, for a little while at least, there is really not much that can be done.

Rightly or wrongly, many of us think the recalcitrant civil servants do not have any fear of the consequences of their actions in, for example, approving the purchase of over-priced items.

How can one explain the purchase of 20 wall clocks at RM3,810 each when the actual price is only RM100 a piece?

The crappy answer given by the Informa­tion, Communications and Culture Ministry was "that the board of procurement awarded contractors which provided the best value for money".

Yes, that was the reply – "the best value for money". And here's the best part, the ministry also told the Auditor-General that "the ministry obtained the best technical evaluation grades board to compare prices of items offered by companies online before making its decision".

I doubt any of us sees the need for "technical evaluation" in the purchase of 20 wall clocks. And we shudder at the thought that "having the best technical evaluation" resulted in a decision to buy those clocks at such an exorbitant price!

Seriously, the whole board needs to be sacked because what was needed was plain common sense. That, however, seems to be uncommon at that level. Well, we are told these are "branded" clocks, thus the difference in price.

But try explaining to the people how three A4-sized scanners were bought for RM14,670 per unit, which was more than 70 times the estimated price of RM200 each.

Seriously, where is that sense of responsibility, dignity, accountability and credibility? How can such blatant wastage of funds be allowed to continue year in year out?

The reports of Health Ministry staff filing dubious claims for RM550,000 to RM600,000 on tailoring and footwear must surely be a clear-cut case for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency to investigate

Audit checks had revealed that 1,014 of the ministry's employees in 10 centres responsible for the tailoring claims had produced dubious receipts. The premises stated in the receipts simply do not exist.

Then there is the RM1.3mil in police assets lost over three years, including 136 pairs of handcuffs, 44 firearms, 27 cars, 26 walkie-talkies and 22 radios.

Let's put this in context. There are over 100,000 policemen in our country. It is a huge machinery and the loss of these handcuffs, walkie-talkies and radios is actually a tiny figure. Policemen are humans too and the loss of such items in a rough operating environment is not unusual.

We also acknowledge that our policemen put their lives at risk daily to keep our streets and homes safe.

But the loss of firearms is serious, more so when the current spate of serious crime has been attributed to the ease in getting weapons. Surely, we do not want the criminals to be using guns that belong to the police.

What we would also like to know is how 27 cars can go missing. Hopefully, we will not only get to know the answer but also the clear-cut actions taken on those responsible.

The burning question that Malaysians continue to ask is: "Has the civil service learnt from the weaknesses highlighted by the Auditor-General?"

The Public Accounts Committee, which under parliamentary tradition is the most powerful committee in the august House, must also do more than just deliberate on the alarming findings in the Auditor-General's reports.

In other countries, ministers and civil servants shudder when they are called up by the PAC to explain anything amiss in the money allocated to them for spending.

The Auditor-General is one institution which has stood the test of time, from the days of the late Tan Sri Ahmad Nordin Zakaria. And credit should be given to the government for not tampering with the report and releasing it as it is. Only constant, at least in the eyes of the public, is the lack of action taken against the culprits.

The MACC must be proactive and commence investigations to get to those who not only inflate the prices of purchased items but also receive kickbacks in the process. It's plain corruption at the expense of taxpayers' money.

All the efforts to reduce government subsidies on essential items and calls for the people to be prudent are meaningless if such blatant wastage and leakages continue unchecked.


Child marriages on the rise in Malaysia

Posted: 05 Oct 2013 05:09 PM PDT

According to Islamic Development Malaysia Department (Jakim) director-general Haji Othman Mus­tapha (pic), getting married at an early age "is not forbidden in Islam but the marrying couple have to be mature enough to understand that with matrimony comes great responsibility".

Hariati Azizan, The Star

Malaysia, girls under the age of 16 cannot legally drive or buy cigarettes. They can't even watch certain movies or go clubbing. But they can marry--lawfully at that.

And many are increasingly doing so, according to statistics from the Malaysian Syariah Judiciary Depart­ment (JKSM).

In 2012, there were around 1,165 applications for marriage in which one party, usually the bride, is younger than the legal marrying age.

The Syariah Courts approved 1,022 of them. This is an increase from the 2011 record, when some 900 marriages involving at least one Muslim minor were approved.

As of May this year, JKSM received 600 marriage applications, of which 446 had been approved.

In Malaysia, the legal minimum marriage age is 18, but it is 16 for Muslim girls. Those aged below 16 can marry with the consent of the Syariah Court.

Malaysia, along with over 90 other countries, adopted a United Nations resolution to end child, early or forced marriages, at the Human Rights Council last week.

However, JKSM's data shows that child marriage is very much rampant in Malaysia.

Sisters in Islam said it was shocking that child marriage still existed in the country because of loopholes in the marriage laws and a con-tinuing belief that girls should be married off once they reached puberty.

"We stand by the UN findings that child marriage is harmful to children and girls, in particular, are vulnerable to abuse, health problems, difficulty in accessing education and loss of childhood and adolescence," said SIS legal officer Kartina Mohd Sobri.

Given the significant number, the Government needed to review the provisions in secular, customary and Syariah law that currently permitted girls under the age of 18 to marry, said United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Malaysia programme adviser Saira Sha­meem.

"We need to develop alternatives and more progressive options that will allow our young to achieve the fullest extent of their potentials.

"There is also a risk to the physical health of girls who marry and conceive too early.

"As a result, we have underaged girls in Malaysia today who die of maternal health complications during delivery," she said.

"This is unacceptable, and efforts must be taken to provide genuine alternatives and life-saving choices to these young people."

According to Islamic Development Malaysia Department (Jakim) director-general Haji Othman Mustapha (pic), getting married at an early age "is not forbidden in Islam but the marrying couple have to be mature enough to understand that with matrimony comes great responsibility".

"The couple has to know if they are prepared for married life and if they are equipped with the right knowledge, especially what it means to be a husband or wife in Islam. Most importantly, they need to understand the real reason why they are marrying," he said.

"If it is just to satisfy their sexual desires, they need to know that it will not lead to a happy and lasting union."

He pointed out that Section 8 of the Islamic Family Law (Federal Territories) Act stated that the minimum legal age for Muslim boys is 18, and Muslim girls is 16.

"Those younger are allowed to marry with the written permission from the Syariah Court after both sets of parents put in an application to formalise their nuptials," he pointed out.

"Marriage and starting a family is a big responsibility, one that is not to be taken lightly," Othman said, conceding that the question of whether young people today were able to handle marriage at an early age did arise.

"But the Syariah Court will do a thorough assessment of their readiness," he said, adding that the Syariah Court would also do a check on the parents before giving its approval.

Chief Syariah Judge and Malaysian Judiciary Department director-general Ibrahim Lembut declined to comment.


Leave Pakatan, members tell PAS

Posted: 05 Oct 2013 05:05 PM PDT

Malay–Muslims are losing confidence and trust in PAS because its leadership flip-flopped on various Islamic issue merely to please the DAP.

Athi Shankar, FMT

A group of PAS members here have called on the party to severe its ties with Pakatan Rakyat and continue its Islamist political struggle on its own.

Only then, said the group spokesman Hafiz Nordin, PAS can ever restore the confidence and regain support of Malay–Muslims.

He pointed out that PAS had lost ground in Malay–Muslim heartland across the country during the May general election.

He reasoned that this was mainly because Pakatan partners – PKR and DAP, have proven to be hindrance for PAS to expand and implement its Islamist agenda, especially the hudud law.

He said the "Kalimah Allah" issue had also been a major reason behind the decline of support of Malay–Muslims to PAS.

He said Malay–Muslims lost confidence and trust in PAS because its leadership flip-flopped on various Islamic issue merely to please the DAP.

He noted that the relationship with DAP and also PKR, was a loss to PAS.

He said the DAP particularly had been a major obstacle in blocking and undermining PAS struggle and credibility.

He said PKR too advocate different Islamic agenda than PAS.

"The general election showed that majority Malay Muslims in the country have deserted PAS due its ties with the DAP.

"Cooperation with DAP has proved to be detrimental to PAS.

"Political marriage is for convenience. If it is not to our convenient, we should just divorce and reassess our position and options," Hafiz told a press conference today.

He also ticked off DAP for advocating racist policy and pointed out that the party's re-election last week proved it.

In the re-election held on Sept 29, Hafiz noted that "genuine" Malay–Muslim candidates were not elected into the central executive committee (CEC).

He said the DAP re-election also showed the party had not been trustworthy and honest to its own members, let alone PAS.

'PAS now must severe its ties with DAP and PKR before its too late.

"PAS must leave Pakatan now before it completely loses the trust and support of all Malay–Muslims," cautioned Hafiz.

He also called on delegates to vote in an ulama-based leadership to helm PAS in the coming party Muktamar on Nov 22.

"Only ulama leadership can return the party back to its original Islamist struggle," said Hafiz.


Does BN care about the AG Report?

Posted: 05 Oct 2013 04:58 PM PDT

Had the Auditor-General's Report carried any weight, it would have played a role in bringing about the much needed changes.

Jeswan Kaur, FMT

Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has wasted RM28.8 million to rent and another RM5.5 million as maintenance costs on for his private jet for a year – this is just the tip of the iceberg coming from the Auditor-General's 2012 Report.

Unlike Najib, Singapore premier Lee Hsien Loong has no qualms travelling first class on Singapore Airlines and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng on economy class. So why does Najib and the other VVIPs be pampered with a private jet?

Malaysia has seven executive jets for official use by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, to carry out official businesses of the nation.

If pampering the seven VVIPs with one jet each was not sinful enough, the government between 2010 and 2012 gladly wasted US$25.2 million (RM80.53 million) for rental, RM16.515 million for maintenance and RM3.32 million on improvement of the VVIP jets.

This is not all. If Najib is all for digging into the nation's coffers, the Royal Malaysia Police on the other hand needs a rapping for its being highly irresponsible, to the extent that it lost assets worth RM1.33 million in the past three years, including firearms, handcuffs and even vehicles.

The AG report noted that between 2010 and 2012, the police lost 156 units of handcuffs, 44 units of firearms, 29 vehicles, 26 walkie-talkies, 22 radios, six cameras, four computers, one cell-phone and 21 unspecified items.

Now, how does the Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar expects the rakyat to digest this piece of news, of comprehending the fact that the police and 'safety' do notgo hand in hand?

If this piece of revelation was not damaging enough to the already battered and bruised PDRM, the IGP in his folly took the foolish way out when he decided to placate worried Malaysians that the missing guns did not fall into the hands of criminals and had instead fallen into the sea during certain operations.

How sure is Khalid that criminals are not in possession of police weapons? Or for that matter does it not give Khalid sleepless nights that his subordinates recklessly 'lose' their firearms during operations?

Khalid later clarified that 37 and not 44 guns belonging to police personnel went still missing, with seven having been recovered post- the AG's report.

Would Khalid have made the attempt to retrieve the stolen guns had the matter not been made public by the AG report?

Khalid also told FMT that the missing guns could also be due to police negligence and car break-ins.

"There are also cases involving car break-ins and negligence from our officers," he added.

In other words, the PDRM has a big problem in not just keeping the country but also its possessions safe, does it not?

AG report not taken seriously

While the Audtor-General's Report has done it again – detailing with brutal truth the the ineffiency of the federal government and the splurges by prime minister Najib and other VVIPs, it sadly will once again be dismissed by the BN government.

Had the AG report carried any weight, it would have played a role in bringing about the much needed changes. It was the AG report that revealed the misappropriation of RM250 million loan meant for the cattle rearing project carried out by the National Feedlot Centre ( NFC) which was headed by Dr Mohamad Salleh Ismail and who is spouse of former Women, Family and Community Development Minister, Shahrizat Jalil.

It was the NFC fiasco that brought down the curtains on Shahrizat's political career. Despite that, Najib went against the rakyat's wishes and reappointed the Wanita Umno chief as his advisor on women affairs.

Throwing his support behind a politician rejected by the people to safeguard his political survival puts paid to the question as to whether the AG report is given due respect by the BN government.



Mukhriz Ready To Face Off Vice-Presidential Candidates In Televised Debate

Posted: 05 Oct 2013 03:35 PM PDT


(Bernama) - Datuk Mukhriz Tun Dr Mahathir is ready to participate in a joint debate with other Umno vice-presidential candidates on television to give delegates an opportunity to decide on the correct choice.

The Kedah Menteri Besar said it will give space to candidates to share their ideas in contributing to the party, in the event the forum is agreed to be conducted by the Umno headquarters.

"If it is considered fitting that a forum involving all six candidates is to be held, then I'm willing to participate," he told reporters after a meeting with community leaders at the Melaka International Trade Centre here, last night.

He said this when asked to comment on a suggestion by former deputy president of Umno Tun Musa Hitam that all six vice-presidential candidates debate their ideas which will be broadcast simultaneously on television.

The three incumbents, Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal and Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein are being challenged by Mukhriz, Felda chairman Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad and former chief minister of Melaka Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam for the three vice-presidents' posts.

Mukhriz also said he had to reduce his time campaigning for the party elections to focus on the Sungai Limau state seat by-election to be held on Nov 4.

Sugar, flour subsidies may be cut after Budget, says minister

Posted: 05 Oct 2013 03:30 PM PDT


(MMO) - Consumers still reeling from last month's fuel price hike could be in for another hit after a minister hinted that Putrajaya may slash subsidies for flour and sugar in Budget 2014.

Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Datuk Hasan Malek said price support for the two items will be addressed when the Budget is tabled on October 25, according to the New Straits Times on its website today.

"The government's intention is to strengthen the economy. We do not want to be like the United States, where its economy has been shut down," he was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

"Sometimes certain actions need to be carried out. For me, the country's interest is paramount."

The US government is currently in a partial stasis after its political parties failed to agree on the federal budget and spending limits. 

Speaking at a consumerism campaign in Ipoh, the minister repeated the government line that blanket subsidies were not effective as they did not discriminate between the rich and the poor. 

"From a person who owns 10 houses or 10 cars to foreign workers, they are all enjoying our subsidy," he was quoted further in the report.

Last month, Putrajaya moved to slash fuel subsidies for RON95 petrol and diesel by 20 sen per litre, raising their pump prices to RM2.10 and RM2.00 respectively.

The unpopular move is expected to save the government RM3.3 billion annually if oil prices remain stable.

Shortly after the fuel subsidy cut, Maybank Investment Bank Research predicted that gas and electricity prices would be the next to go up.

In a report on September 19, Maybank IB said it saw further subsidy rollbacks since the total savings from the Performance Management and Delivery Unit's (PEMANDU) Subsidy Rationalisation Roadmap in 2010 has been lower than intended.

"Total savings since 2010, at RM9 billion into 2014, is a pale comparison to what was intended in the 2010 Roadmap.

"Considering its inflationary impact and the need to sustain domestic consumption, we take the view that upcoming subsidy rollbacks will remain gradual. We think gas and electricity prices will be next to be addressed," said the report here.

Launched in May 2010, the roadmap detailed a five-year period of subsidy rationalisation to save RM103 billion by cutting subsidies mostly for fuel (petrol, diesel, and liquefied petroleum gas), gas, electricity, toll roads, and food (sugar, flour, cooking oil). 


Despite five-way, Khairy seen strolling to Umno Youth win

Posted: 05 Oct 2013 03:25 PM PDT


(MMO) - The race to lead Umno Youth is set to be a predictable affair unless incumbent Khairy Jamaluddin throws his four challengers a bone with a "blunder" in the run up to next week's election, said political observers. 

Although Bendang Baru Umno Youth chief Akhramsyah Muammar Ubaidah Sanusi has emerged as a credible contender in the crowded race, Professor Dr Jayum Jawan of Universiti Putra Malaysia saw the youth and sports minister strolling across the finishing line.

"I don't think it will be tight race unless Khairy makes a mistake leading up to the election; [if he] makes a blunder, then it could be a tight race," Jayum told The Malay Mail Online yesterday.

Akhramsyah, the leading underdog in the contest, is trying to make an impact with his "Hidup Melayu" slogan in a bid to rally the movement's grassroots members on his side.

He is also believed to have the backing of party members loyal to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad

"I think he is young, he has some idea in the process transforming Umno, he might be the one that will fit the bill although he himself does not have ability or vision in how to transform the Youth and how the Youth can play role in Umno," the professor said of the son of the former Umno secretary-general and former agriculture minister Tan Sri Sanusi Junid. 

"There is not a lot to back [Akhramsyah] to unseat Khairy."

Separately, a senior Umno leader, who declined to be named, agreed with Jayum when contacted by The Malay Mail Online and said he was "right on the dot" that Khairy should have no trouble keeping the post.

Despite the rosy outlook for his campaign, Khairy will not find himself entirely bereft of obstacles from now until next Saturday.


NSA proves Internet users cannot expect anonimity

Posted: 05 Oct 2013 02:40 PM PDT


(Malaysia Sun) - A popular service which protected the anonymity of Internet users has been breached by the NSA, according to a leak from former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden. 

• Snowden reveals more disturbing information

• Private Internet users were under the watch of NSA

• So-called security sites were breached


More documents have emerged that show the US National Security Agency has been homing in on Internet users who attempt to remain anonymous.


A popular service which protected the anonymity of Internet users has been breached by the NSA, according to a leak from former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden.


Snowden has given up documents that show the US official spy agency targeted users of The Onion Router, or Tor.


Documents obtained from Snowden support his allegations that the names, IT addresses and physical locations of millions of users of Tor have been identified.


The NSA did not directly access Tor's anonymous network but instead came in through the back door of advertising engines, where it diverted users to insecure channels, which could be observed from a distance by the agency's operatives.


Many Tor users are state security and businesspeople who like to keep their work secret.


Tor claims to help people defend against the sort of network surveillance the NSA has allegedly been using.

The far-reaching powers of the NSA were first revealed by Edward Snowden in June.


He initially leaked confidential information that showed the NSA collects data of phone records and Internet communications of American citizens.

Since then Americans have been surprised at the complexity and scope of the surveillance.


Malaysia is worse

Posted: 05 Oct 2013 02:20 PM PDT


In Malaysia alone, 253 Nepalis migrants died last year (officially), making it easily the deadliest destination for Nepali workers.  

Ishwar Rauniyar, Republica 

Recent revelations on the state of Nepali migrant workers in Qatar garnered worldwide attention. They revealed how Nepali workers are needlessly losing their lives in Qatar and are routinely exploited by their employers who burden them with extra work, but offer little in return. 

The news comes at a time Qatar is preparing for the 2022 football World Cup. Though the issue was not new for Nepal, the way it was reported in one of the prestigious international newspapers forced national and international officials, human rights activists and Qatar government to take it seriously. 

Now the debate is whether Qatar should host the 2022 event at all. As in Qatar, the situation of Nepalis migrant workers in Malaysia and other Gulf countries is pathetic as well. Neither the receiving countries nor the sending country has been able to properly manage migrant workers, though both are deriving huge 'benefits' from them. 

Nepal has sent a record number of workers abroad in the past few years. On average, around 1,600 leave the country every day to work in the Gulf, Malaysia and South Korea. The money sent home by more than 2.5 million Nepali migrant workers is the largest foreign exchange earner for the country. 

More than 400,000 people come into the job market every year; ninety percent of them find employment overseas. Money sent home by workers makes up a big chunk of the Nepali economy. Last year, remittances were worth roughly US $4.5 billion, almost a quarter of Nepali GDP.

Recently Maya Kumari Sharma, former ambassador to Qatar, got dismissed from her post after commenting that "Qatar is an open jail" in BBC Sajha Sawal a few months ago. Her statement invited huge controversy both in Nepal and Qatar. Since then, the Qatar government has asked her to leave the country. But Qatar is only the tip of the iceberg. 

A recent report released by the Foreign Employment Promotion Board (FEPB) claims that at least 726 Nepalis migrant workers died in the East Asian and Gulf countries in last one year. The actual numbers are likely to be higher still as these statistics discount illegal workers. In Malaysia alone, 253 Nepalis migrants died last year (officially), making it easily the deadliest destination for Nepali workers. 

The Guardian reports highlight the pathetic state Nepalis workers are forced to live under in Qatar as well as their wretched work conditions. Similar is the case with Malaysia. 
Studies have shown that a migrant worker is cheated an average of 16 times during his journey from his village to the foreign destination of his choice. It starts with the loan shark in the village, then it's the turn of the manpower company to profit, all the way to the profiteers in the final destination. 

One of my colleague's brothers was asked for Rs 125,000 to go to Malaysia, though the government rate is only Rs 80,000. Looking for help, he contacted the Director General of the Department of Foreign Employment; however the DG failed to do anything claiming he simply didn't have enough staff. 

Later, when the Secretary at the Labor Ministry was contacted, he too expressed his helplessness. The issue was taken to the prime minister's office. But even so, nothing could be done. You can imagine the plight of those who don't have such robust connections. 

How can common people get justice in this country? Poor migrants become the victims of this government apathy. Not only are they overcharged during the application process, they don't even get the promised jobs and salaries when abroad. 

Read more at: http://www.myrepublica.com/portal/index.php?action=news_details&news_id=62586 

Perkasa chief warns of fresh race riot if Malays not helped economically

Posted: 05 Oct 2013 02:17 PM PDT


(TMI) - Right-wing group Perkasa has warned of another racial riot if the majority Malays remained poor, saying the Najib administration had done the right thing by introducing a new affirmative action programme.

The RM31 billion Bumiputera Economic Empowerment Plan (BEEP) is meant to raise the economic status of the Malays after the failures of previous plans but critics say it repudiates the market liberalisation moves in Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's New Economic Model (NEM) launched three years ago.

"What guarantees can you give that if the situation remains and nothing is done to help the Malays there will not be another May 13?" Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali asked, referring to the 1969 race riots, Malaysia's worst in history.

The one-time government deputy minister said the welfare of the Malays, who form about 60% of the 29 million population, must be taken care of to guarantee security and political stability.

"The racial riots on May 13, 1969 occurred because Malays were not satisfied," he told The Malaysian Insider in an interview in Kuala Lumpur.

Ibrahim said less than 30% of the nation's wealth was in the hands of the Malays despite more than 50 years of independence.

"This is what I am repeatedly telling Umno leaders. What is the use of having tall buildings and excellent infrastructure when the Malays continue to remain poor in their country," he said, referring to the iconic 88-storey Petronas Twin Towers.

He said the Malays needed help now because the business environment had become more challenging as the world had become borderless.

Read more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/perkasa-chief-warns-of-fresh-race-riot-if-malays-not-helped-economically 

Kill National Service Before It Kills Again

Posted: 05 Oct 2013 02:07 PM PDT


In years to come, how many more are going to suffer eating food infested with maggots, how many more are going to be sexually harassed, how many more are going to die? Whose child will it be next?

Kee Thuan Chye 

Let me be upfront about this. I've never been in favour of our National Service (NS) programme, and I think it should be scrapped immediately.
From the day it was implemented in December 2003 – in fact, even when it was first proposed about two years before that – I had thought of it as nothing but a propaganda opportunity for the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government, as another medium it could exploit to pollute young minds with its warped ideas about nationalism and patriotism. And goodness knows what else.
In fact, one of its declared objectives is – brace yourself for it – developing a generation that is obedient and loyal to the Government.
This of course is totally uncalled-for and misplaced. And it confirms my fear that our young are getting wrongfully indoctrinated during their NS stint. Loyal to the country – yes. But loyal to the Government (and it may not just be the BN government; it could one day be the Pakatan Rakyat one) – an absolute no. There is a big difference between country and government.
I had also thought of NS as nothing but another money-making scheme for the Government's money-grubbing cronies. Think of the extra ringgit embedded in the marked-up costing for the provision of camps, trainers, supplies, etc. Extra ringgit that would go into the pockets of those involved in the racket as kickbacks. Extra ringgit that would be duly paid by the unsuspecting public, i.e. you and me. And all for what?
Compared to Singapore's National Service, ours is a farce. There, the trainees are attached to the armed forces or the police or the Civil Defence Force and trained for two years. When they come out, they are ready to take up arms if they are called upon to defend their country, or to serve as emergency rescue personnel.
Here, our boys and girls undergo a three-month programme that does not quite train them to be battle-ready. How could you do that in three months anyway? Instead, our orientation is towards developing a young generation who are patriotic, caring, willing to volunteer, active, intelligent, confident and imbued with positive characteristics and good values.

Wow! That's a big job to do! And again, how could it be accomplished in three months? Whoever thought up those aims must have had unrealistic ambitions.

Read more at: http://news.malaysia.msn.com/community/blogs/blog-kill-national-service-before-it-kills-again#page=1 

Kredit: www.malaysia-today.net

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