Ahad, 24 November 2013

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Anwar: I defended Bumiputera paddy farmers with Bernas

Posted: 24 Nov 2013 12:22 AM PST

(MM) - Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim renewed today his attack against a privatisation bid of Padiberas Nasional Bhd (Bernas), claiming he had used the rice distribution firm to protect the interests of largely-Bumiputera farmers.

When rice industry regulator National Padi and Rice Board (LPN) was corporatised into Bernas in 1996, Anwar said he had wielded his powers as the country's then finance minister to ensure that poor farmers and fishermen took up part of a total of 45 per cent stake in the firm.

"Forty-five per cent held by paddy planters, fishermen and Bernas staff," the PKR de facto leader said in his winding up speech at the party's special congress here.

He explained that the privatisation of LPN was carried out by the Economic Planning Unit in the Prime Minister's Department, while tenders were under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Finance that he was then heading.

While saying that his insistence on the "condition" for LPN's privatisation had guaranteed the interests of 170,000 paddy planters that were also overwhelmingly Bumiputera or Malays, Anwar said it had also attracted the ire of influential Umno leaders.

"At that time, it caused tension with a few Umno leaders including Tun Daim Zainuddin who menegurkan (chided) me through Tun Mahathir, why give up to 45 per cent to farmers' cooperatives, companies that don't know how to do business," the former Umno minister said, referring to former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Anwar, who is now Opposition Leader, then took a jab at federal lawmakers from Barisan Nasional (BN) who had defended the ruling coalition's New Economic Policy (NEP).

Late this year, the prime minister had unveiled a plan to provide over RM31 billion in aid and loans to help the Bumiputera - the country's largest ethnic community - to empower and boost their participation in the economy.

"Dasar Ekonomi Baru (New Economic Policy), Hidup Melayu. Which Malays? I choose 170,000 paddy planters, you choose Syed Mokhtar," Anwar said when mocking the BN MPs, receiving loud claps from party members.

Anwar and other opposition politicians had recently raised doubts over the proposed takeover of Bernas by majority shareholders linked to tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary.

Today Anwar resumed his attacks on Syed Mokhtar, whom he views as profiting from Bernas's lucrative concession to distribute rice throughout Malaysia.

Earlier this month, Bernas proposed a voluntary withdrawal from Bursa Malaysia after it failed to get 90 per cent acceptance support from shareholders to privatise the company.

In an exchange filing on November 6, the company said the joint offerers and parties acting in concert to take it private had only managed to obtain 83.69 per cent shareholders' support as of November 4, 2013.

This means that the company does not comply with Bursa's listing requirements of having at least 25 per cent public shareholding spread.

Syed Mokhtar, who holds the controlling stake, is trying to take Bernas private using his four companies — Perspective Lane Sdn Bhd, Kelana Venture Sdn Bhd, Seaport Terminal (Johor) Sdn Bhd and Acara Kreatif Sdn Bhd — who are the joint offerors.

Following the failure of the privatisation bid earlier this month, Bernas's shareholders will decide on the proposed voluntary delisting from Bursa in an extraordinary general meeting.

The Edge reported that three minority shareholders in Bernas - Batu Bara Resources Corp Sdn Bhd (4.8 per cent), the National Farmers Organization (3.71 per cent) and the National Fishermen's Association (3.42 per cent) — will be key to Syed Mokhtar and his nominees' bid to take over the rice producer.

A lawsuit could also put brakes on a bid by the main shareholders connected to tycoon Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary to take over and privatise the profit-making Padiberas Nasional Bhd (Bernas), The Edge has reported.

According to the financial news weekly, minority shareholder Ilustrasi Hikmat Holdings Sdn Bhd (IHSB) had filed the case in April, disputing Syed Mokhtar and his companies' right to take over ownership of Bernas.

IHSB, which held 3.53 million shares in Bernas as of May this year, is saying that the company cannot be controlled and owned by a single person.

The minority shareholder is basing its claims on contracts signed between Putrajaya and other stakeholders when rice industry regulator National Padi and Rice Board (LPN) was turned into a corporation, with Bernas assuming LPN's role as regulator in 1996.

In March, Syed Mokhtar's initial bid to take the rice distributor private failed as the tycoon was unable to receive sufficient shares acceptance from the minority shareholders.

The bulk of Bernas shares is controlled by Syed Mokhtar through Tradewinds (M) Bhd (72.7 per cent of Bernas shares), which he privatised in March this year.

The privatisation of Tradewinds triggered a mandatory general offer for Bernas and Tradewind Plantations Bhd.

The cash-rich Bernas has RM612.67 million in the bank as of September 30, which is double the RM398.6 million it held in January this year, The Edge reported.

On April 26, 2011, the government has announced that Bernas' exclusive contract of rice distribution has been extended for 10 years starting from January 11, 2011 to January 10, 2021.

Bernas currently controls 24 per cent of the paddy market and 45 per cent of the local rice demand. 


Anwar criticises Khalid again, says Selangor MB is slow in taking action that benefits people

Posted: 23 Nov 2013 06:41 PM PST

Lee Shi-Ian, TMI

Once again Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim has been publicly criticised by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim over his tardiness in taking action and implementing measures for the benefit of the people.

"Pakatan Rakyat's achievements are not measured in terms of whether there is a surplus or deficit in the budget but how we prioritise the needs of the public," Anwar said.

"Khalid is one of the most loyal and attentive friend and colleague compared to other PKR leaders. However, there are times when he is among the slowest leaders to take action," he said.

"I admonish a leader for a reason, I point out mistakes and errors so that he will tighten the loose screws," Anwar said during the closing ceremony of the special PKR national congress in Shah Alam.

"Khalid is very attentive to other people's ideas and opinions, especially from his fellow PKR colleagues. Unfortunately, he does not put what has been said into practice," Anwar, who is the party's supreme leader, admonished Khalid who looked on unperturbed.

Last month at a forum in Petaling Jaya, Anwar had criticised Khalid over the latter's failure to use Selangor's surplus funds to help the needy, resulting in some party members labelling him as "stingy".

Prior to the opposition leader's closing remarks, the 800-strong crowd comprising PKR delegates and observers unanimously approved several amendments to the party's constitution.

The amendments to PKR's constitution will be sent to the Registrar of Societies (RoS) next week to be rubber-stamped.

Anwar had the attention of the 800-strong crowd at the Dewan Raja Muda Musa in Section 7, Shah Alam as he described the challenges facing PKR, DAP and PAS.

"We are facing a mighty political opponent who has billions of ringgit in their treasury. They will spend millions of ringgit to ensure that they remain in power," Anwar said.

He said Pakatan Rakyat had to intensify their efforts to woo support from the rural voters, who remember Barisan Nasional whenever they receive gifts and handouts.

"We are talking about a very strong political party who has money to burn and a mighty election machinery ready to steamroll any opposition," he said.

"But one of our advantages is that we have a lot of young, talented politicians who can reach out to the masses," he said.



Blogger 'KTemoc Konsiders' in hot water over 'Allah' posting

Posted: 23 Nov 2013 05:05 PM PST

(Bernama) - A non-governmental organisation, Ikatan Rakyat Insan Muslim Malaysia (IRIMM), today lodged a police report against a blogger for allegedly making a mockery of the word Allah.

IRIMM president, Amir Amsaa Alla Pitchay, said the blogger had on Nov 17 posted an article, with the title 'Can Sing But Cannot Read Allah In Selangor'.

He said the article also contained a picture of a woman clad in an attire that symbolises a satan and holding a cane while saying "AAAAAaaaLLL".

"The action hurts the feelings of Muslims in the country. Such a picture should not have been posted," he said when met by reporters after lodging the report at the Dang Wangi police station.

He said the Home Ministry should issue guidelines to the media and bloggers on publication of articles which touched on the sensitivity of Muslims in the country.

IRIMM also lodged a report against MCA Youth leader Wee Ka Siong over a statement issued by the latter on Nov 15 in response to an order by Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah of Selangor over the use of the word 'Allah'.

Police report in Penang

Meanwhile, another NGO known as Persatuan Mukabuku Pulau Pinang today lodged a police report against a Facebook account holder for allegedly insulting the Malay rulers.

The association chairperson, Salleh Ismail, claimed that the comments by the Facebook account holder, who used the name 'Kumaran Muthiah', on the Seven Wills of the Malay Rulers were rude and could threaten the peace and harmony in the country.

He told reporters after lodging the report at the Lebuh Pantai police station in George Town today that such an action could also create a rift among the various races in the country.

Malaysian citizens should realise that the Seven Wills of the Malay Rulers were the foundation for peace and prosperity, he added. 


Hadi: Karpal has right to voice out opinion against hudud

Posted: 23 Nov 2013 05:00 PM PST

(The Star) - PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang said his DAP comrade Karpal Singh has a right to voice his opinion against the implementation of Islamic criminal law in Kelantan.

"They have the right to their opinion and we have our right to continue what we have been fighting for although it is not in Pakatan Rakyat's common policy," he told reporters.

"Each of us have our own ideology and differing views, but we will work together on common interests," he added.

Karpal, who is the DAP national chairman, had appealed PAS not to pursue with its intention to enforce hudud in Kelantan.

Karpal said should the law be enacted by the state, it will be unconstitutional and those charged under it can challenge it.

Hadi also renewed calls for muzakarah (discussion) with Umno in implementing Islamic policies in the country.  

In his winding-up speech on the last day of 59th PAS Muktamar here, Hadi said the party's religious leaders would take part in the discussion to show the seriousness of their invitation.

"We have (Datuk) Harun Taib (PAS Dewan Ulama chief), we have Nik Abduh (Nik Abdul Aziz, PAS central committee member). We even have lawyers.

"We can even talk about the economy," he added, that the discussion can also touch on the security issues plaguing the nation.

He said it has always been the priority for the party to uphold Islam and put it on the frontline. 

This was not the first time the Islamist party has called for muzakarah with Umno, but the idea was shot down by various opposition leaders.
But Hadi had insisted that the party had never "closed door" to have discussions on Islamic policies with Umno.
Hadi also said that there were no deviant teachings in the party, in an apparent attempt to dismiss allegations that some of the leaders were Syiah followers.
"In PAS, there are no liberal Muslims, orthodox Muslims or protestant Muslims. Don't listen to the outsiders," he said.

Mat Sabu’s win at PAS polls, a win for PKR, DAP instead, says Utusan

Posted: 23 Nov 2013 01:25 PM PST

Lee Shi-Ian, TMI

Mohamad Sabu's successful defence of his PAS deputy president position was described by Utusan Malaysia today as a victory for both PKR and the DAP, in what is seen as an attempt by the Umno-owned newspaper to chip away at the Islamist party's support among the Malay community.

Columnist Awang Selamat continued Utusan Malaysia's campaign to portray the Islamist party as a stooge in Pakatan Rakyat, sarcastically congratulating Mohamad Sabu, or Mat Sabu, on his victory in yesterday's party polls.

Awang Selamat, the pseudonym for Utusan Malaysia's collective editorial team, said it accepted the decision made by PAS members at the 59th PAS Muktamar with an open heart.

"The news of Mat Sabu successfully defending his position will be greeted with huge applause and relief by PAS and DAP," Awang said.

"Even before the official results were announced, a senior DAP leader had already congratulated him via social media."

Awang said based on the results of the PAS Muktamar, it seemed that many of the pro-DAP PAS nominees, including Mat Sabu, had either defended or won the positions they contested.

"As long as Mat Sabu reflects the PAS leadership, DAP's hopes and vision will shine brightly." 

Awang said the decision by PAS members to support Mat Sabu, who won by 980 votes against Nik Amar's 490 votes, indicated the direction they had chosen for their party to take.

"Although a faction of PAS was disgruntled with the result as they felt Mat Sabu was not an appropriate candidate for the position due to his involvement in moral issues, it is too late now.

"The pro-clerics hopes of bringing about change in the party have been dashed as the PAS members have made their choice."

This is the second time Mat Sabu has proven that he is the most qualified individual to be the PAS deputy president.

The Utusan columnist speculated that perhaps someday, Mat Sabu might even rise to become the party president, adding that PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang was seen as preferring to take the safe route to safeguard his position.

"There does not seem to be any way for the PAS leadership to free itself from the influence of the Pakatan Rakyat alliance."



PKR pledges to fight for Sabah, Sarawak autonomy

Posted: 23 Nov 2013 01:20 PM PST

Lee She-Ian, TMI

Parti Keadilan Rakyat has pledged to fight for autonomy in Sabah and Sarawak, including a fairer distribution of oil royalty, its president Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said today.

Addressing PKR members during a special national congress in Shah Alam, Dr Wan Azizah noted that Barisan Nasional managed to maintain its grip on Putrajaya because it won in Sabah and Sarawak.

"However, it is pertinent to note that although we have enjoyed 56 years of independence, Sabah and Sarawak still lag behind Peninsular Malaysia in terms of infrastructure," she said.

"BN made many promises to the people of Sabah and Sarawak in the run-up to the 13th General Election and in the previous polls. Have these pledges been kept?"

She cited Budget 2014 as an example, where development in Sabah and Sarawak was low on the list of priorities for Putrajaya.

PKR, PAS and DAP all hailed Sept 16 as a historical date in Malaysia's history as it signified Sabah and Sarawak joining the Federation of Malaya.

The three parties launched the Kuching Declaration at the 55th Merdeka Day celebrations.

"PKR, PAS and DAP agreed unanimously to insert the Kuching Declaration into our constitution, which is on the verge of being approved," she added.

Pakatan Rakyat is also determined to fight for 20% oil royalty to be paid to Sabah, Sarawak, Kelantan and Terengganu.



PAS admits decline in Malay support

Posted: 23 Nov 2013 01:07 PM PST

Malay support for the Islamist party declined in the last general election but increased for the majority Chinese party, DAP.

Alyaa Ashar, FMT

Malay support for PAS and PKR declined in the last general election as opposed to the DAP, noted Dzulkefly Ahmad who heads the PAS general election postmortem committee.

In the winding speech for PAS' 59th Muktamar, Dzulkefly said although Pakatan Rakyat can be proud of the popularity vote, the reality is: "Pakatan Rakyat is still not occupying Putrajaya".

"Our hope to replace Umno as the main Malay party has therefore not been achieved," he said.

Other than losing Kedah, PAS had lost many seats in the last general election, including the parliamentary seat of Kuala Selangor where Dzulkefly was the previous MP.

"PAS had a decline in Malay support at 2% while PKR's Malay support declined at 7%. DAP however had an increased support of 2%," he said.

He also pointed out how the female support for PAS is still low, at only 30%.

"As with the general support, we need to increase it from 40% to 44% if we want to be victorious in the next general election," he said.

He was however optimistic for PAS' future as the trend is still positive for the party, especially since its support increased in Terengganu and Johor.

Dzulkefly then said that wooing young Malay voters becomes priority as their number will increase in the coming general election.

The young voters' current support for PAS is at 45%.



In Mat Sabu win, proof PAS doesn’t run on faith alone

Posted: 23 Nov 2013 09:44 AM PST


All eyes will now be on the results for the vice-presidents' fight, which will be announced this morning, where the three incumbent vice-presidents seen as progressives, were faced with two veteran challengers from the ulama group.

Zurairi AR, The Malay Mail 

While clerics have advanced into PAS's top leadership tier, Mohamad Sabu's success in keeping his deputy president seat in heated polls yesterday proved the Islamic party is acutely aware it cannot steer straight in Malaysia's current political reality propped up by one faction over the other.

The popular rally speaker, nicknamed Mat Sabu, faced a tough challenger in Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah, but managed to edge out the Kelantan deputy mentri besar by a 98-vote majority, which to Professor Datuk Dr Mohamad Abu Bakar showed equal support within PAS for both the ulama, the Islamic clerics who make up the party's soul, and the so-called progressives faction, consisting largely of professionals and seen as its brains.

"Whether Mat Sabu or Nik Amar won, especially if it was a slim win, it shows that PAS depends on the strength and the support of both groups," the Universiti Malaya political analyst told The Malay Mail Online.

"This also shows that PAS has remained the same since before, where there is a fair alliance of the ulama and the professionals," added the history lecturer of two decades.

At PAS's 59th annual muktamar (conference) held here since Friday, party president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang had insisted that the synergy between the two groups has been the "secret" to PAS' success.

Delegates also spoke proudly of the evolution of PAS's image, perceived previously as a party of yokels and religious teachers, to its present vibrant mix of clerics, political activists, and technocrats.

Abdul Hadi's remarks also comes as the party's ulama wing approved a motion on Thursday, calling for the posts of president, deputy president, and one of the three vice-presidents to be reserved for the clergy class.

According the wing's chief Datuk Harun Taib, the ulama group understands the Islamist party's struggle best as they are more knowledgeable in the Quranic teachings that form PAS's core values.



Christians seek time off for Sunday services in Johor

Posted: 23 Nov 2013 09:33 AM PST


(Asiaone) - The Council of Churches Malaysia (CCM) will seek time off for Christians in Johor to fulfil their religious obligations on Sundays following the change of the state's rest days to Friday and Saturday.

"We will request for time off for both workers and students to attend church services on Sunday," said CCM general secretary Rev Dr Hermen Shastri.

Hermen, who is not from Johor, said he does not know how Christians in the state managed or went to church prior to 1994 when Friday and Saturday were non-working days.

However, he said all stakeholders in state should have been consulted before the decision was made.

"There should have been broad-based discussions with political parties, civil society and other religious communities," said Hermen.

This view was echoed by the Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism.

Council president Jagir Singh said it is always best to have consultations so there is a better understanding of the views of other parties and faiths.

Kredit: www.malaysia-today.net

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