Khamis, 31 Oktober 2013

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'Bak Kut Teh' means 'meat bone tea' and not offensive to Muslims, Court hears

Posted: 30 Oct 2013 05:09 PM PDT

(The Star) - The word "Bak Kut Teh" means "meat bone tea" and the usage of the terminology does not cause humiliation to Islam, counsel Chong Joo Tian submitted to the High Court Thursday.

Chong, who is representing controversial sex bloggers Alvin Tan Jye Yee and Vivian Lee May Ling, said the feeling of humiliation was only caused by confusion and lack of knowledge.

He said Section 298A of the Penal Code was basically a legal provision to control, manage and ensure smoothness of the practice of Islam among its followers.

Chong argued that the prosecution's claim that the words used by Tan and Lee were an insult to Islam was not logical and baseless.

He said the allegation showed prejudicial thinking towards other ethnicities in Malaysia.

"Section 298A is basically and substantively not a law to control public order as claimed by the prosecution," he said.

Chong was giving his submission in a hearing to strike out a charge under Section 298A(1) of the Penal Code faced by Tan and Lee before High Court judge Justice Kamardin Hashim Thursday.

Meanwhile, Deputy Public Prosecutor Wan Shaharuddin Wan Ladin said Lee and Tan's act in inviting Muslims to break fast with Bak Kut Teh during the Ramadan month was clearly an insult to all Muslims.

Wan Shaharuddin said it would surely stir hatred, anger and cause disunity.

He said Section 298A was not exclusive to Muslims and was established to ensure harmony and unity among the multi-racial communities in Malaysia.

"The application by Tan and Lee is an attempt to prevent legal action against their act which threatens the harmony among the ethnicities in the country," he said.

Justice Kamardin adjourned the matter to Nov 14 for the decision.

On July 18, Tan, 25, and Lee, 24, were jointly charged under Subsection 5(1) of the Film Censorship Act 2002 (Act 620), Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act and Section 298A(1) of the Penal Code.

They were charged with displaying pornographic images on their blog between July 6 and 7.

For the second charge, they were accused of uploading content that could possibly stir hostility among those with different beliefs at a restaurant in Jalan Dang Wangi here between July 11 and 12.

They also faced a charge of publishing a seditious photograph and inviting Muslims to break fast with Bak Kut Teh, together with a halal logo.

The Facebook page was later shut down.

Tan and Lee later apologised for the posting in a 1:22 minute video on YouTube, and said that it was done in humour.


Pas will never agree to GST - Mahfuz

Posted: 30 Oct 2013 05:02 PM PDT

(NST) - Pas vice president Datuk Mahfuz Omar today took a contradictory stand over opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim's positive view on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) due for implementation in April 2015.

Mahfuz said Pas would never agreed to GST implementation as they felt the taxation system would create a massive leakage in the country economy.

The Kedah Pas commissioner and the party's election machinery director for Sungai Limau by-election refused to comment on Anwar's recent about-turn over the GST issue, several days after the PKR de-facto leader announced that the Pakatan Rakyat would go all out to object its implementation.

Anwar was yesterday quoted as acknowledging that GST was an efficient taxation system and that it could be a major contributor to the national economic growth.

Tycoon Halim Saad fails RM2b court bid against government

Posted: 30 Oct 2013 04:55 PM PDT

(MM) - The High Court threw out today tycoon Tan Sri Halim Saad's RM2 billion case against Putrajaya and state investment arm Khazanah Nasional over a deal on the Renong-UEM shares.

In explaining her decision, the judge found that there was no basis to say that there was fraudulent misrepresentation by former minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop over the compensation to Halim.

"But based on the core bundle, the documents before the court, the contemporaneous documents, in my view there is no basis for the matter to go on trial," High Court judge Datuk Hanipah Farikullah said after almost three hours of oral submissions by both sides.

She then ordered Halim to pay a total of RM50,000 in costs, with Nor Mohamed and the government to receive RM25,000 while the third defendant Khazanah Nasional would get RM25,000.

The lawyers who represented Halim today are Gopal Sreenevasan and Ranjit Singh.

When asked if Halim would be filing an appeal, Gopal said that they would consult their client first.

Halim filed the suit in April, claiming he had suffered losses due to alleged fraudulent misrepresentation and fraud by the three defendants against him.

Nor Mohamed was named the first defendant, with the Malaysian government and Khazanah Nasional listed as the second and third defendants respectively.

Nor Mohamed was the special economic adviser to the then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, between 2001 and 2003.

Halim claimed that he was "induced" by Nor Mohamed to enter into two agreements in 2001 and 2003 respectively despite the government and Khazanah's lack of intention to pay him in the acquisition of the shares.

The businessman claimed that he had only received RM165 million from Khazanah as a refund for the RM100 million he paid to purchase the Renong shares through a "put option" and an additional RM65 million.

In the suit, Halim had sought a compensation of RM1.3 billion for giving up his shares in the Renong and UEM group, as well as a separate sum of RM508 million.

But on July 8, the three defendants filed an application to strike out Halim's claim, arguing that no agreement was ever reached between the government and the magnate.

The lawyers for the defendants also argued that Halim had taken legal action too late, years after the six-year period under the Limitations Act of 1953 had expired.

Halim's lawyers argued today that their client had only found out through an August 2010 meeting with the now-retired Dr Mahathir that there was allegedly never an intention to pay Halim as the assets purportedly belonged to Umno.

But the judge today agreed with the defendants' argument that Halim had found out about a change of situation in 2002 and should have taken legal action then instead of waiting more than ten years.

Halim previously controlled around 70 per cent of the shares in Renong Berhad.

In October 2011, he gave up his posts as executive chairman and director in Renong, as well as other companies under the Renong and UEM Group.

UEM, which was then a listed company, was then taken off the stock market and is now a wholly-owned subsidiary under Khazanah. 


Ex-supreme councillor: Yes, there is money politics in Umno

Posted: 30 Oct 2013 04:51 PM PDT

(MM) - Amid a storm of claims and denials of money politics in Umno, Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah has confirmed its practice in the party's last election campaign as a tool to shore up support, but said its prevalence was "understandable".

The former Umno Supreme councillor said the revamp of Umno's electoral process in the Malay party's previous internal polls was meant to deter money politics, but had failed in its first execution and greater measures were needed to prevent repeats.

"The assumption was if you have more people, then there is less possibility of money politics," Saifuddin told The Malay Mail Online in an exclusive interview last week, referring to the bigger number of voters in the new system.

"Was there money politics? I say yes. But we need to qualify that statement... There is a difference between money spent for your own campaign machinery and money given to delegates as a sogokan (bribe), meaning buying votes."

Saifuddin explained that it had become an acceptable and expected practice in Umno for leaders to provide members with petrol money supposedly to cover transport costs, whenever they held an event such as during campaigning the day before the polls.

The questions to be addressed, he said, concerned the definition of "petrol money", and how much of "petrol money" can be distributed by Umno candidates before it was considered a violation of morals and ethics.

The former Temerloh MP also pointed out that the immense number of voters this time around had made it important for a candidate to gather his own political machinery.

"During the campaign, we realised that many grassroots leaders didn't really know who were running for supreme council," said Saifuddin, claiming that in a division, only around 100 members will recognise all the candidates.

As a way to remedy this problem, every division will come out with a list of either 20 or 30 candidates to guide its members on whom to vote into the 25-member Supreme Council, he said.

"There is this necessity, understandable, to come out with this guide. So how does a candidate get his name into the cai (menu)? That's where you need the machinery," he said, although admitting that the practice is wrong.

According to Saifuddin, this is where the ethical line can once again be crossed, as there is unclear distinction whether a candidate is paying division members either as part of his own machinery, or as vote buying.

The Umno man admitted that it will be very difficult to present hard proof of the practice, as none of those involved will gladly come out and admit it.

He also claimed that although the practice is less blatant this year due to an increase of voters, it has however become more dangerous as the practice has now reached more Umno members and gone deeper into the grassroots.

Saifuddin however refuted claims that he was only bringing this topic up after his double loss in the polls, both as a Supreme Council candidate, and as a candidate for the Temerloh deputy chief hat.

This is not the first time I'm talking about money politics... I'm not a crybaby, because I lost then I talk about money politics," said the Global Movement of Moderates Foundation (GMM) CEO.

He admitted that he had expected to lose his previous Supreme Council post, since he only kept a skeleton machinery of volunteers instead of a well-oiled machinery.

"When I campaigned, I met people in large numbers, in small numbers, on one-to-one basis, gave text message blasts. I presented delegates with my latest book 'Memacu Transformasi'... that's almost all that I did," he said of his campaign for the Temerloh post.

"Then I got this from a friend who is a delegate, somebody had told him, 'The other candidate gave me RM50... but Saifuddin only gave me a book!'," he related, laughing.

The Umno man however was reluctant to bring members who have admitted to receiving "petrol money" to justice, pointing out that educating party members would be more relevant in eradicating money politics instead of disciplinary action.

"This is not a legal matter, this is about habit, culture within the party. Because if you want to address it simply by looking at the legal view, it will be difficult," he explained.

"I don't blame the delegates. Money politics is about the candidates, not delegates ... They don't want to come out because they don't think it is a problem they should be faced with."

Saifuddin revealed that he will be meeting soon with Tan Sri Megat Najmuddin Megat Khas, acting chairman of the Special Committee of the Umno Disciplinary Board, to discuss the problem and disclose any knowledge that he has regarding the practice.

He said he will suggest for the party to have a guideline on the ceiling amount of "petrol money" that can be distributed as a token to members, and the maximum number of members each candidate can employ for his campaigning machinery.

"When we come out with this new election procedure, I thought we're already drawing the line.

"I would like to think that we've drawn a line .. (I guess) now we need to draw a second line. It has to be the last one otherwise the party will suffer," he stressed.

On Monday, former Umno president Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had claimed that undeserving candidates had emerged as winner is the recent party polls thanks to money politics.

Some Umno Supreme Council members have hit back at him in return this week, saying his remark was an insult to the 146,000 delegates who had cast their votes this month.

The Umno elections saw the three incumbent vice-presidents re-elected, with the post of president and deputy president left uncontested. 


Anwar: Pakatan would roll out GST, but only if fiscal position solid

Posted: 30 Oct 2013 04:47 PM PDT

(MM) - Pakatan Rakyat (PR) would consider rolling the controversial goods and services tax (GST) should it be elected to power, but only if the country's fiscal position is solid while Malaysians enjoy higher income, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said today.

The opposition leader was responding to allegations that the federal opposition bloc is against the consumption tax after they were seen opposing its implementation.

He dismissed the accusation and claimed he has been consistent about the issue — that PR agrees with the GST in principle but opposes Putrajaya's reasons for replacing the current services and sales tax with a more broadened tax scheme.

"End corruption and monopoly, pluck leakages and elevate the standard of living of the people, then we can consider the GST," he told reporters in Parliament here.

State-owned Utusan Malaysia ran a report today saying Anwar had backed proposals to roll out the tax system when he was the deputy prime minister in 1993.

In response, Anwar said he had never claimed to be against the GST in principle and admitted that the consumption tax was more efficient and transparent than the present form of taxation by way of the sales and service tax.

"I have been consistent on this issue and I have stated before that in principle, it (GST) is efficient and transparent. But what I am stressing on is that we should first stop leakages and real wage must increase," he said.

The PKR advisor said the GST idea was mooted by then finance minister Tun Daim Zainuddin.

Anwar said that although he agreed on the positives of the tax system, he was against its implementation in light of Malaysia's weak economy.

"Daim had said the GST should be in place and I said it is an efficient system but in a situation where the country's finances is bad... I never did implement it," he said.

The opposition leader and his allies in Pakatan Rakyat had been campaigning against the GST in the run-up to Election 2013.

While some observers said the implementation must coincide with an increase in disposable income and called for its delay, others have described it as a regressive tax hurtful to the poor and middle-income group.

Three days ago, Anwar said Malaysia may be heading towards an income cliff similar to that of the United States if it rolls out the contentious GST.

In his criticism of Budget 2014, the 66-year-old cited a purported warning by analysts that any economy that has a disproportionate income disparity is destined to doom.

"It is now mainstream discussion, that any economy which has a huge income gap, like that of the US, cannot survive," he told the Dewan Rakyat in his Budget 2014 debate, following up on previous claims that the consumption tax would reduce the purchasing power of the poor and middle income group.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in tabling Budget 2014 confirmed previous speculation on the impending implementation of the GST to help widen the government's tax base and slash its chronic deficit.

The GST, which will replace the current sales and services tax at a rate of 6 per cent in April 2015, comes, however, amid public concerns that it will increase the cost of living through a hike in the inflation rate, especially after a fuel subsidy cut in September.

In an immediate reaction to the announcement, Anwar said the new tax system would widen Malaysia's income gap. 


Stop being meek, Anwar tells goverment after spy scandal exposé

Posted: 30 Oct 2013 04:41 PM PDT

(MM) - Putrajaya's delay in protesting against the US and Australia for eavesdropping on its Malaysian ally does not bode well for the country's sovereignty, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim suggested today.

The opposition leader chided Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman for their silence towards the two global economic giants who were recently exposed as having spied on their allied nations, including Malaysia, though their diplomatic missions here.

"I am appalled by the meekness of the prime minister and the foreign minister for not able to respond to the issue of spying," he told reporters in Parliament here.

"We want Putrajaya to respond to this immediately and lodge a strong protest to the US ambassador. We do not condone or tolerate any spying in our country," Anwar added,

The Permatang Pauh MP pointed out that countries like Brazil had sent a strong protest signal against the US when its president cancelled a scheduled trip to Washington following allegations of American spying.

While Malaysia's neighbours Indonesia and Thailand have lodged formal protests, Putrajaya's reply has remained muted so far.

Yesterday, Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the government would "study" the spying allegations first before deciding its course of action.

On the heels of the US espionage storm, the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) today reported that Australia's electronic intelligence agency was using its diplomatic missions to spy on its Asian neighbours.

Citing new information disclosed by intelligence whistleblower Edward Snowden and a former Australian intelligence officer, the Australian newspaper also reported that clandestine surveillance facilities at embassies were carried out without the knowledge of most Australian diplomats.

SMH's revelations come as Washington D.C. was left red-faced by global news reports it had been eavesdropping on allies, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Australian Greens leader Christine Milne yesterday called for the Australian government to review its intelligence gathering methods.

Previously Anwar demanded that Putrajaya lodge a protest against the US for using its KL embassy to listen in on Malaysian leaders.

"People are disgusted with the way that the intelligence apparatus are being used to spy... latest of course in Spain," the opposition leader told The Malay Mail Online.

"I think the Malaysian intelligence, in particular the prime minister, should not be seen to be so submissive and not prepared to say anything.

"They must lodge a protest, there is no reason for any country, foreign country, whether it's United States or any other country to be involved in any internal espionage in any country."

Datuk Ismail Sabri Yaakob from the ruling Barisan Nasional has also criticised the US for using its KL embassy to run a monitoring station to tap telephones and monitor communications networks, describing it as "immoral" and called for protest should the allegation be true.

He said although the Cabinet will have the last say, the rural and aggro-based industries minister said Putrajaya should immediately send a protest note to Washington if the accusations are verified.


Malaysia Building Major Business District In Kuala Lumpur Amid Fiscal Struggles, Raises Doubts

Posted: 30 Oct 2013 02:00 PM PDT 

(International Business Times) - Malaysia is building an enormous business district in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, but its shaky finances raise doubts on whether the Southeast Asian nation is capable of such an ambitious undertaking just now.

The project, named the Tun Razak Exchange (TRX) after the country's second prime minister (and current Prime Minister Najib Razak's father), is part of Malaysia' plan to develop Kuala Lumpur into an international financial center, the Financial Times reported Monday.

But Malaysia may need to check its ambition because its finances are not in the best shape at the moment. Earlier in the year, Fitch downgraded its sovereign credit-rating outlook to negative, citing a growing debt pile and large fiscal deficit.

Najib, who also serves as finance minister, is well aware of the fiscal challenges his administration is facing, and last week promised to begin tackling the government debt problem by introducing a new consumption tax and trim subsidies. Even so, the problem will take time to address, and analysts are concerned that the government is overextending itself with the project, which is now inviting bids from developers and investors.

Phase one of the TRX will comprise of up to four office towers, a luxury hotel, a shopping mall and as many as five residential buildings, and real estate agents began soliciting bids of interest from investors and developers on Monday. The project is modeling itself after Canary Wharf, the financial center in London, and IFC, Hong Kong's financial center.

Aside from being taxing on the nation's already weak finances, the project could also worsen the oversupply of office space in Kuala Lumpur in the medium term, analysts from CIMB, a major Malaysian bank, told theFinancial Times. Occupancy of office space in the Klang Valley, which includes central Kuala Lumpur, fell for the fifth straight year in 2012.

Read more at: 

Khalid-Azmin tussle for real

Posted: 30 Oct 2013 01:31 PM PDT

(MM) - The tussle between two Parti Keadilan Rakyat strongmen — Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim and deputy party president Azmin Ali — is for real despite attempts to play it down and the straight-faced denials by both of them.

Khalid's administrative style, dubbed "stingy" by quarters close to Azmin, is said to be the crux of the problem, which is compounded by Azmin's hard-nosed style of politicking and support-gathering. 

The issue has been around since last year when talk surfaced that Azmin, the state assemblyman for Bukit Antarabangsa, might take over the helm in Selangor.

He is known to be loyal to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and is understood to be getting directives from the PKR de facto leader, although Anwar has denied this.

Anwar, who is Selangor economic adviser, also has anr "eye" in the menteri besar's office as he had appointed party secretary-general Datuk Saifuddin Nasution as the state government's political liaision officer.

It is understood that it was through this that Anwar came out to make strong comments regarding Khalid's administration which failed to spend more on state development from the estimated RM2.8 billion resources available.

Using the salvo, Azmin made two "enthusiastic" bids for the coveted position but he seemed to have lost on both counts with Khalid having the backing of PKR president Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.

It is a position he has been in since March 2008 when Pakatan Rakyat captured Selangor from BN and he was picked by Anwar to be state party chief as well as party general secretary.

He also received support from the other Pakatan Rakyat allies — DAP and PAS — and the Selangor Sultan.

During that time, Azmin made a vain attempt to lobby for the post but he failed to get enough support from state assemblymen.

This time the scenario could be different as it is believed that all 14 PKR assemblymen had lost hope in "stingy" menteri besar Khalid who, they claim, is only supported by his political secretary Faekah Husin.

Even Seri Setia assemblyman Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad — a loyalist and former special officer to the menteri besar — is said to be against him, just like PAS commissioner Dr Abdul Rani Osman and state DAP chief Lau Weng San.

Meanwhile, a state PKR insider threw further light on the tussle, saying it signalled a plot for next year's party polls which could possibly see Azmin taking on Wan Azizah for the party presidency.

He said the move to vote against Khalid to be replaced by Azmin may also materialise next year.



New Act allows Government to tap our phones

Posted: 30 Oct 2013 01:27 PM PDT 

( - Alarmingly, section 6(6) treads directly on Article 5 of the Federal Constitution no less - which deals with the fundamental liberty of a person – by asserting that it is to have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent with Article 5. 

While the European Union (EU) raged against the US last week following revelations that the National Security Agency (NSA) had tapped the phones of 70 million people across the continent, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, back home, the Government is trying to sneak in laws that will allow it to spy on its own citizens legally.

On Oct 23, the country saw the tabling in Parliament of the amendments to the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (SOSMA).

While, on the surface at least, the amended clauses that were tabled may not seem major, they are said to highlight a significant threat to privacy through the wielding of SOSMA, a legislation instituted to replace the Internal Security Act (ISA) which was repealed in April 2012.

Under the bill, two small amendments are to be made to sections 6 and 30 of the act's Malay language text, so as to be consistent with its English language text.

One needs to read just the heading of section 6 to understand its implication.

Titled "Power to intercept communication", Section 6 gives the Public Prosecutor the power to authorise any police officer to intercept any postal article, as well as any message or conversation being transmitted by any means at all, if he or she deems it to contain information relating to a "security offence".

It also gives the Public prosecutor the power to similarly require a communications service provider like telecommunications companies to intercept and retain a specified communication, if he or she considers that it is likely to contain any information related to "the communication of a security offence."

Additionally, it vests the Public Prosecutor with the power to authorise a police officer to enter any premises to install any device "for the interception and retention of a specified communication or communications."

Possible tapping on detractors

SUCH a scope of what the government can do in terms of intercepting people's messages is troubling – at least to those who understand its implication.

In particular, there are those who are anxious that it can be used to tap on detractors and political opponents.  

"Due to the vagueness and broadness of the ground for executing interception, this provision is surely open to abuse especially against political dissent," said Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim.

Stressing that the act does not provide any guidelines on the "interception", he added: "The government can legally 'bug' any private communication using any method, including through trespassing to implement the bugging device and there is not stipulated time frame such invasion of privacy is allowed".

"If that is not enough, service providers such as telcos and internet service providers are compelled by Section 6(2)(a) - which is now being amended to give a wider scope of meaning - to cooperate in the act of interception."

'BN's Watergate in the making'

SIM has even described the move as the ruling Barisan Nasional's own "Watergate" in the making - in reference to the infamous American scandal of the 70s in which phone lines of political opponents of then president Richard Nixon were actively wire-tapped with the complicity of the White House.

Alarmingly, section 6(6) treads directly on Article 5 of the Federal Constitution no less - which deals with the fundamental liberty of a person – by asserting that it is to have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent with Article 5. 

Sim also pointed to Section 24 of SOSMA, which exempts the police or any person from answering questions regarding the interception, including its methods.

"This would definitely jeopardise the interests of the accused who is not able to challenge the authenticity of the evidence obtained through interception," he said.


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