Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Suspected cholera outbreak: 50 hospitalised

KLANG: Fifty people, including a child, suspected of having cholera have been admitted to the hospital so far, said Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah director Dr Ghazali Hasni Md Hassan.

One patient is confirmed with cholera and is still receiving treatment at the hospital.

“We are investigating another 14 patients to see they are also down with cholera or just suffering from food poisoning,” he told reporters after Selangor Police Chief Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar visited the hospital in conjunction with the 202nd Police Day celebration.

Dr Ghazali said the patients were from various place in Klang and Shah Alam and were sent to the hospital after consuming contaminated food.

He said an investigation into the source was expected to take a few weeks.

He also advised members of public to ensure they only consumed hygenic and freshly-cooked food.

It’s the clenched fist for PSM

KUALA LUMPUR: Parti Socialis Malaysia will be using its “clenched fist” symbol for all elections now that it has been officially approved by the Election Commission.

Party chairman Dr Mohd Nasir Hashim said in previous general elections, it had used the logos of Opposition parties DAP in 1999 and PKR in 2004 and 2008.

He said the party would hold its three-day annual general meeting from May 29 to May 31.

Parti Socialis Malaysia, which claims 10,000 members, was founded to look into the welfare of workers, he said.

It was officially registered under the Society Act on Aug 19 2008 and on Sept 18 that same year, submitted an application to have its logo approved. The letter of approval was received on April 20 this year.

On the Penanti by-election scheduled for May 31, Dr Mohd Nasir said the party would be supporting PKR in its campaign.

Swine Flu Watch and FAQ

JAKARTA: Asean officials are looking at coordinating measures to address this latest public health emergency (Bernama)

WASHINGTON: US$870m stripped from flu-preparedness plan to feed economic stimulus package; US lawmakers to discuss (USA Today)

Why travel bans won't prevent a flu pandemic (New Scientist)

IPOH: A health department team has been stationed along the Malaysia-Thailand border to screen travellers entering the country through Pengkalan Hulu (The Star Online)

WASHINGTON: Government official confirms first US death from swine flu, a 23-month-old child from Texas (Reuters, updated)

PETALING JAYA: MAS issues SOPs for outbreak (The Star Online)

NEW YORK: Flu may have spread within New York City (New York Times)

ADELAIDE: Thermal scanners at Adelaide Airport (ABC News)

NORTH CAROLINA: Feared flu cases test negative (The News & Observer)

LONDON: Swine flu virus being tested in London labs (Sky News)

PUTRAJAYA: Some 200,000 frontliners including police and immigration personnel on duty at airports will be given flu jabs as a precautionary measure (The Star Online, Updated)

GENEVA: Swiss flu medicine producer Roche ups its preparedness (Earth Times)

BANGKOK: Public health offices ordered to stock up on flu drug nationwide (The Nation)

NEW YORK: 10 Countries Ban Pork Imports Over Swine Flu Fears (New York Times)

SEOUL: Five more Koreans being tested for swine flu (AP report in GMANews.TV)

SACRAMENTO: Sacramento scientists join race to decode new swine flu strain (The Sacramento Bee)

BEIJING: China offers Mexico US$5m in swine flu aid (China Daily)

LONDON: Every household in Britain is to receive a leaflet giving advice on preventing the spread of swine flu (

LONDON: Health Department orders 32 million face masks (The Telegraph)

NEW YORK: Experts says very low chance of swine flu outbreak becoming a pandemic (New York Times News Service)

MEXICO CITY: Mexico's Mystery: Why Is Swine Flu Deadlier There? (TIME Online)

KUALA LUMPUR: Overseas missions asked to monitor (The Star Online)

KINGSTON: Swine flu responds to antiviral drugs (Health editorial, The Gleaner, Jamaica)

EDINBURGH: Scotland ‘could help combat flu’ (BBC Online)

WELLINGTON: New Zealand confirms swine flu cases (Al-Jazeera)

MEXICO CITY: New swine flu infections intensify travel fears (Reuters)

BOSTON: Still few answers as swine flu, fear spread (The Boston Globe
Swine Flu FAQ

What is swine influenza?

It is a respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A strains of the influenza virus. It regularly causes high flu outbreaks in pigs but with low death rates. There are four main sub-types of the virus, but the most recent isolated influenza viruses from pigs have been H1N1 viruses.

How does it spread?

Swine flu viruses do not typically infect humans though they do occur through close proximity or contact with infected pigs or contaminated areas. Cases of human-to-human spread have been documented.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms are similar to those of regular flu:
- Fever
- Lethargy
- Runny nose
- Cough
- Sore throat
- Lack of appetite
- Vomiting and diarrhoea in some cases.

How common is swine flu infection in humans?

In the past reports of about one human swine flu virus infection had been received every one to two years in the United States. From December 2005 till February 2009, 12 cases have been reported.

Has this strain of flu been seen before?

No. Flu mutates constantly, so it is common for new strains to emerge. Pigs can also be infected with both human and avian influenza, and the current circulating swine flu strain appears to contain genetic elements from all three.

Can swine flu be treated with antiviral drugs and flu vaccine?

The swine flu is resistant to two common drugs – Amantadine and Rimantadine. The H1N1 swine flu viruses are very different from human H1N1 viruses. Therefore, vaccines for human seasonal flu would not provide protection. However, a “seed vaccine” has been specifically tailored to this swine flu and will be manufactured if officials deem it necessary.

Can people catch swine flu by eating pork?

No. Swine influenza viruses are not transmitted by food. Eating properly handled and cooked pork and pork products is safe. Cooking pork to an internal temperature of 70ÂșC and above kills the swine flu virus.

How long is someone with swine flu considered contagious?

People with swine influenza virus infection should be considered potentially contagious as long as they are symptomatic; possibly for up to seven days following the onset of the illness. Children, especially younger children, might potentially be contagious for longer periods.

What can I do to protect myself from the swine flu?

There is no vaccine available right now to protect against the swine flu.

However, you can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza by:

- Covering your nose and mouth with a disposable tissue or handkerchief when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the waste basket after you use it.

- Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also helpful

- Try to avoid close contact with sick people. - If you get sick with influenza, stay at home and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth.

- Consult your nearest healthcare facility if you think you have any of the symptoms.

Which countries have had cases of the swine flu?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has confirmed human cases of swine flu in Mexico, the United States, Canada and Spain. Only Mexico has reported deaths from the new strain.

Are there any travel restrictions or advisories for Malaysians?

The Health Ministry on April 27 advised Malaysians against travelling to certain places in the United States, Mexico and Canada which have been affected by the swine flu.

What precautions are in place in Malaysia?

- The Health Ministry’s operations room in Putrajaya has started a 24-hour monitoring of the situation. The public can call 03-8881 0200/300 for enquiries.

- Those returning from Latin American countries and found to have flu-like symptoms will be quarantined.

- Health Ministry officials are conducting health screenings on passengers arriving from the United States.

- Thermal scanners will be placed at international airports to speed up the screening process for swine flu.

- Public and private medical practitioners have been instructed to report to the district health office any patient with influenza-like illnesses or severe pneumonia symptoms and who had travelled to the affected countries after April 17.

- Owners of the 797 pig farms nationwide have been ordered to immediately contact the nearest Veterinary Services Department office or the Animal Disease Control Centre if their workers or animals show symptoms linked to the swine flu.

Where can I get more information?

For more information, go to the Health Ministry ( or call the Ministry's hotline at (03) 8881-0200/300.

Malay parties should unite under Barisan: Umno vets

KUALA LUMPUR: The Umno Veterans Council, formerly the Umno Veterans Club, wants Opposition Malay-based parties such as PAS to merge with it under Barisan Nasional “to ensure a better future for the Malays and Muslims in the country.”

“Today, we think that PAS can merge with Umno for the sake of the Malays and Muslims, like we had pushed for during the pre-Independence era,” Umno Veterans information head Datuk Dr Dzulkarnain Abdul Rahman.

“All the successes we had achieved previously was made possible because the Malays were united. It is our aspiration that the Malays remain united so that we are stronger.

“We should set aside all our political differences and agendas,” he said at a press conference after the Umno Veterans meeting at the Putra World Trade Centre here Wednesday.

He also asked for full support of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s 1Malaysia concept which, ironically, promotes Malaysia’s multiculturalism and the contributions of all races.

There were meetings between certain leaders from both parties after the 12th general election last March, but possible merger talks came to naught.

Umno Veterans deputy chairman Datuk Mohd Zaid Sirat proposed that the body be recognised by the party constitution like any other Umno wing, such as Wanita and Pemuda.

“We now have about 800,000 members. And we have served for so long.

“We want greater recognition and we also wish to suggest to party president and Prime Minister Najib that there are observers from the veterans group at every Umno level, from the Supreme Council, state and divisional levels,” Zaid said.

Dr Zambry files motion to kick out Speaker

IPOH: Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir has filed a motion with the State Assembly to remove Speaker V. Sivakumar from office.

The motion was apparently proposed last Thursday by Dr Zambry and supported by senior executive council member Datuk Hamidah Osman.

Following this, notices on the motion were delivered to all state elected representatives from Monday onwards by assembly secretary Abdullah Antong Sabri.

According to the notice, the motion would be brought into the assembly sitting on May 7 and if passed successfully, the next agenda in the House would be to appoint a new Speaker.

As such, all state assemblymen were told to propose a candidate’s name and submit it to Abdullah Antong by Thursday.

The secretary also noted in his letter that this was according to procedures under Article 4(1) and (2) of the state assembly’s Standing Orders.

When contacted Wednesday, Dr Zambry, who has been dodging questions on Barisan Nasional’s plans for the assembly for the past week, still declined to confirm whether he had filed the motion.

“You can write what you know but this is information that I cannot release,” he said.

Hamidah could not be reached for comments.

Several Pakatan Rakyat representatives however confirmed that they had received the notice.

Former senior exco member Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham said he received the notice on Tuesday.

He however said that since the Speaker had suspended Abdullah Antong, the notice was “illegal.”

Sivakumar had suspended Abdullah Antong earlier this month for sending out notices on the May 7 sitting without first informing him.

Ngeh added that such a notice was also contemptuous of the Speaker’s office.

“The House does not go on speculative missions,” he said.

Ngeh added that it was clear the Barisan had little or no confidence in deputy Speaker Hee Yit Foong for they had chosen to elect a new Speaker instead of promoting her to the post.

On whether Pakatan would heed the notice and nominate a name for a new Speaker, Ngeh said:

“Since the notice is illegal and hence void, we will not be responding to it. It is just another piece of paper, floating around.”

However, it is learnt that all Pakatan representatives and state leaders will meet Thursday evening to discuss their next course of action.

Meanwhile, attempts to contact both the Speaker and Abdullah Antong were futile.

According to several Pakatan representatives, the Speaker will remain out of public eye until further notice.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Swine Flu Holds A Grip On Malaysians In New York

WASHINGTON, April 29 (Bernama) -- The outbreak of swine flu in Queens, New York, has Malaysians living in the area worried about their health, especially when going out in public areas.

A Malaysian diplomat who does not want to be identified said his home was only a 20-minute drive from the St Francis Preparatory School, the epicentre of the swine flu outbreak, following the return of several students from Mexico over spring break.

The prep school is being shut down for clean up. More than 100 students were reported sick last week following the outbreak.

There are around five Malaysian families, whose spouses work at the Malaysian mission, living in Queens, and hundreds more of Malaysian origin who have made New York their home for many years.

No Malaysians have been reported ill from the virus so far.

"We're taking precautions - to wash our hands, and we've been informed by our children's schools to go immediately to the doctor should anyone start coughing or show symptoms of the flu," the diplomat said. The symptoms are coughing, aches, high fever and diarrhoea.

The Malaysian officer said he has a seven-year-old son going to a public school that is only eight minutes from the prep school.

"I drive him to school and my wife picks him up. I am worried, but everything seems to be under control for now," he added.

Another long-time Malaysian in New York said she continues her routine of going to work and coming home on the New York subway.

"People are scared of the flu, but yet I don't see anyone wearing a mask, not even during rush hour at Grand Central Station.

"In Queens, it is very quiet outside, nobody wants to hang around," she said.

"If you have to go, you have to go," she said, "but still you can't be too careful!"

The number of confirmed deaths in Mexico, where the flu started, is at 20. The suspected death toll has risen to about 150 and almost 2,000 have been hospitalised with pneumonia.

In the United States, the number of confirmed cases has doubled to 45, and the public have been advised to postpone trips to Mexico.

Swine flu cases in the United States have been identified in New York, Ohio, Kansas, Texas and California.

Meanwhile, in HAVANA, where the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) meeting is ongoing, Cuba has barred flights coming in and going to Mexico from Havana. Malaysian Foreign Minister Datuk Anifah Aman is attending the NAM meeting.

Dr Mansor Othman is PKR's choice for Penanti

GEORGE TOWN: Penang PKR deputy liaison chief Dr Mansor Othman is the party's choice to contest the Penanti by-election, says party leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on Tuesday.

Anwar said if Dr Mansor won in Penanti, the party will nominate him for the post of Deputy Chief Minister I.

TOL holders cannot expect payoff, says MB

SEREMBAN: People living on temporary occupation licence (TOL) land should not expect to be paid compensation when they are relocated because the state government owns the land, said Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan.

He said there was no reason for compensation even if they have been living on the land for decades.

“If the state government needs the land for a specific reason, the TOL holders must be relocated. Why must the state government pay them compensation when the land is owned by the state?” he said in reply to a question from Ng Chin Tsai (DAP-Temiang), who asked about the plight of TOL holders in Bukit Jong.

Mohamad, however, said the state government would give ex-gratia payments to TOL holders so that they would not face difficulties when relocating.

“In fact, we give them enough money to enable them to rent a better place for two years. I think that is more than fair,” he said, citing as example the payment given to some 80 families from Kg Abok in Rahang, near here, to relocate to make way for the construction of the Seremban Outer Ring Road.

He said 150 townhouses were built in the area and the previous residents were given priority to move in.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Saravanan "catches" two doctors not doing their jobs

KUALA LUMPUR: Deputy Federal Territories Minister Datuk M. Saravanan “caught” two doctors at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital emergency department reading newspapers and doing their own stuff instead of attending to more than 20 patients who were waiting for treatment.

Saravanan made the shocking discovery at about 10.30am on Sunday when he went to the hospital to visit a university student who was injured after he was knocked down by a car driven by his (Saravanan’s) driver.

“I, too, waited for a while for the girl to be treated and, realising that none of the patients were being called in by the doctors, I opened the door to the treatment room. I was shocked to find one doctor reading a newspaper and the other minding his own business and doing his own stuff.

“There were more than 20 patients outside waiting for treatment. This should not be the way doctors work. The patient should come first. Furthermore, it is an emergency unit, which is supposed to be fast in dispensing treatment,” the visibly irked Saravanan told Bernama.

The deputy minister said he reprimanded the doctors for their behaviour and demanded to see a superior who, he said, appeared after 30 minutes.

“After that, those waiting were promptly treated. Why couldn’t the doctors attend to the patients first? This should not be the way service at government hospitals is dispensed,” he said.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, in one of his surprise visits to the city centre on Saturday, said he wanted frontline government establishments in the federal capital to improve their services to the people.

Saravanan said although he had caught the doctors by chance, he would make it a point from now on, to conduct surprise visits to departments under his ministry to ensure that frontline staff did their job of serving the people.

“This is an eye-opener. We, as leaders, just cannot afford to pay lip service and not check whether work is done by the frontline government servants. We have to go down (to the ground) to ensure that speedy solutions are found for the people’s problems.

“What more in this case where people are in pain and are in agony due to the pain. If they were not suffering, they would not have come to the emergency unit. This is a lesson for all hospitals. Please work for the people if you are in the civil service,” he said.

Shahrizat slams youths who become Mat Rempit

KLANG: Senator Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil has slammed youths who become Mat Rempit and issued them a stern warning.

“Do not take the law in your hands,” the Women, Family and Community Development Minister told a press conference after attending a community programme at Taman Sri Menegun here on Sunday.

She added youths who were Mat Rempit have now become a serious menace as they were involved in crimes such as robbery, rape and molestation.

“They have even taken to harassing disabled people,” said a visibly angry Shahrizat referring to the case of deaf and mute women who was assaulted and robbed by Mat Rempit last week which was highlighted by The Star on Sunday.

In the incident, a big group of Mat Rempit had surrounded the 23-year-old woman at a petrol kiosk at 7.00pm on the said day. The group, who was unperturbed with the presence of other patrons and kiosk employees, had slapped and kicked the victim before making off with her handbag.

Shahrizat said it was time the Mat Rempit was duly dealt with given that the authorities had taken the soft approach to help the youths by even carrying out studies to understand them.

“Now, the police must institute the severest of action against the Mat Rempit,” she said.

“There should not be any compromise in dealing with them. They say they become Mat Rempit because they are bored. Why break the law just because they are bored?”

A government institute research revealed that 48 % of the youths polled said they became Mat Rempit out of boredom.

Shahrizat also questioned the role of the youths’ family members in ensuring that their children did not resort to becoming Mat Rempit.

Shahrizat said parents must play a pivotal role in ascertaining that their children did not resort to participating in anti-social and unlawful activities.

Government considering scrapping AP scheme

JOHOR BARU: The Government is considering the possibility of scrapping the controversial Approved Permit (AP) scheme for imported vehicles to ensure a system that is acceptable for all.

Deputy International Trade and Industries Minister Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir said scrapping the scheme was not the only option as there were many other ways to look at the matter.

“However, the basis of any solution is that, any levy or tax should benefit the Government.

“In the end, cost saving, if there is any, should go to the people,” he said adding that, the ministry expected to announce a decision soon.

He was commenting on the request of the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Car Dealers and Credit Companies Association, which asked the Government to open the AP scheme to everyone or give a 30% quota to the Bumiputra and have the rest open for auction.

He was speaking to pressmen after launching the Bumiputra Entrepreneurs Symposium held in conjunction with the Unit Trust Week here on Sunday.

Mukhriz explained that it was high on the ministry’s agenda to discuss and finally decide on a new mechanism on the AP issue, as it had long been a contentious one.

“We want to look at it in a very comprehensive manner and come up with a solution that is amiable to all,” he said adding that, the ministry should be given a little bit more time before the minister makes a decision with the approval of the Cabinet.

Meanwhile, commenting on the new liberalisation policy, Mukhriz said that he was confident that the new policy would attract more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) into the country.

“We have not estimated how much FDI would flow into the country with introduction of this new policy.

“It is certainly an added attraction for foreign companies to invest in the country,” he said.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Umno to decide Friday if it will contest Penanti polls

KUALA LUMPUR: Umno will discuss whether to contest the Penanti by-election at its supreme council meeting Friday.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said it was not a question of Barisan Nasional (BN) being afraid to contest.

“We will take part in any by-election irrespective of whether we lose or win,” he said after visiting SMK Setapak Indah.

Muhyiddin was responding to a statement by Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) strategic planning director Saifuddin Nasution Ismail that Barisan did not want to contest the seat as it was the underdog.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had said Barisan was considering staying out of the Penanti by-election as it would be a “sheer waste” of public funds.

The seat fell vacant after former Penang Deputy Chief Minister I Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin announced his resignation.

He had also stepped down as Deputy Chief Minister 1 earlier.

Meanwhile, in Putrajaya, the Election Commission sent out a stern warning to all parties that it intends to get tough to ensure the upcoming Penanti by-election proceeds as smoothly as possible.

Its chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Yusof said that it would strictly enforce the Elections Offences Act 1954 to prevent the rowdy atmosphere during campaigning that has apparently become the trend.

He said that political parties have not been observing the rules during the cooling-off period.

Abdul Aziz said he also wants to restrict the number of supporters who can gather during nomination and polling days, and during the announcement of results.

“The situation on the ground tends to get ‘scary’ as supporters come in the thousands,” he said at a press conference Thursday.

“They fight with each other and voters cannot cast their ballots in peace. The police too have had to maintain a heavy presence (in the last few by-elections),” he added.

There have already been five by-elections since the 12th general election in March last year.

Abdul Aziz said the Commission would seek the advice of the police on limiting the number of supporters according to the situation on the ground.

He said that he would also be meeting representatives from the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition and the opposition Pakatan Rakyat alliance to discuss the matter.

Arrest warrant out for Raja Petra

PETALING JAYA: The Sessions Court here issued a warrant of arrest against Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Kamarudin on Thursday after he failed to turn up for his sedition trial.

Judge Rozina Ayob issued the order after lead prosecutor DPP Shahidani Abd Aziz applied for the arrest warrant against the news portal editor for his absence.

DPP Shahidani said the prosecution had no choice but to get the order to proceed with the trial.

Rozina also issued a show cause notice for Raja Petra’s wife, Marina Lee Abdullah, as his bailor for failing to inform the court about the non-attendance.

Raja Petra's lawyer J. Chandra informed judge Rozina Ayob that his client did not turn up in court on the grounds he was on a self-imposed exile from the state for “reasons that are well known.”

“You know these ‘well known reasons,’ so please highlight them to the court,” Rozina said.

“The accused is posting his reasons on his website this morning,” said Chandra.

“You expect the court to go through that, is it?” the judge said.

Chandra then went out to explain that for over a month now, Raja Petra, 58, has posted articles or comments on issues in relation to the Selangor royal house that have angered some members of his own family who have demanded an apology.

On Malaysia Today, explaining why he did not attend court Thursday, Raja Petra wrote, “My family then gave me an ultimatum. I was to either make that public apology or else my family would insert an advertisement in the mainstream newspapers practically distancing itself from me, which could be interpreted as disowning me ....

“I went into exile outside Selangor ... . It has to be noted that this has always been the punishment for any member of the Selangor Royal Family who is considered durhaka (traitorous) since the beginning of the Selangor Sultanate more than 250 years ago.”

He also wrote that another reason why he did not attend court was the he did not expect to get a fair trial.

In court on Thursday, his lawyer Chandra added, “You have to bear in mind that he is a member of royalty and this self-imposed exile is a punishment he has handed out to himself.”

Rozina said Raja Petra had never produced a written order over the matter.

To this, Chandra said his client would appear in court “when the times permitted and the matter resolved”.

DPP Shahidani Aziz asked for a warrant of arrest to be issued against Raja Petra and a notice of showcause for his wife and bailor Marina. The judge granted both and set May 22 for mention.

Speaking to reporters later, his lawyer Gobind Singh Deo said the defence had been unable to contact Raja Petra for some time and his last conversation with him was during a habeas corpus appeal against the editor at the Federal Court.

Raja Petra, a former Internal Security Act detainee, had on May 6 2008 claimed trial to publishing a seditious article on his Malaysia Today news portal on April 25 of that same year.

He is accused of publishing the article Let’s send the Altantuya murderers to hell on the website

The charge under Section 4(1)(c) of the Sedition Act 1948 carries a maximum fine of RM5,000 or three years' jail or both upon conviction.

Barisan fears no one: Muhyiddin

KUALA LUMPUR: The Barisan Nasional does not fear anyone in facing a by-election, said Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

“We have never feared anyone. This question of elections is a normal matter to be faced. Winning and losing is customary in contesting and we will continue to face this,” Muhyiddin, who is also the Education Minister, told reporters after visiting SMK Setapak Indah here.

He was commenting on a statement by PKR strategy director Saifuddin Nasution Ismail that Barisan was reluctant to contest in the Penanti state constituency by-election in Penang as it was the underdog.

Muhyiddin, who is also Barisan deputy chairman, however said the matter of contesting or not had not been decided.

He said the Umno supreme council meeting Friday will discuss the matter and that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will also seek feedback from leaders of Barisan component parties.

Asked if there would be changes in Umno leadership in Friday’s meeting, Muhyiddin said: “The president will announce. Surely there will be changes as after elections, as usually done, there will be changes and renewal.

“What is important is that we strengthen our party. All this is to make our party’s performance better and stronger.”

On the issue of Umno’s leadership in Terengganu, Muhyiddin said he and the prime minister had understood the situation there after recently meeting leaders from the state.

“The president and I know what needs to be done to strengthen leadership there. If there are problems we do not wish to discuss in the open and we will resolve the problems as soon as possible.

“What is important is for party leaders and people’s representatives to give attention to the people’s welfare and interests,” he said. -- Bernama

Nizar vs Zambry: Court allows AG to intervene

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court on Thursday allowed Attorney General (AG) Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail to intervene in Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin's suit challenging the legitimacy of Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir's appointment as Perak mentri besar.

Justice Datuk Abdul Aziz Abd Rahim, in his oral decision, said the AG, as the guardian of the public interest, should be allowed to intervene as the issue was of public importance and public interest.

He also said that the issue involved interpretation of Article 16 of the Perak Constitution which was similiar to Article 43 of the Federal Constitution.

"Of course the court can invite the AG as a friend of court, but after considering the main issue here, it is my view to allow the AG to intervene and to help the court, more so when the issue here is a novel one.

One mentri besar is appointed and the other one has not resigned," said Abdul Aziz who is the third judge to hear the application after the Federal Court sent it back to the High Court. The first judge was Judicial Commissioner Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof who recused himself while the second judge, Lau Bee Lan, had referred the matter to the Federal Court for determination of constitutional issues.

Earlier, senior federal counsel Datuk Kamaluddin Md Said submitted that the AG should be allowed to intervene as the application for judicial review required the interpretation of the Perak Constitution which would also affect other state constitutions with similar provisions.

Sulaiman Abdullah, counsel for Mohammad Nizar, objected on the ground that the AG had failed to show any necessity for him to intervene in the proceeding.

"This is a Perak matter. The actual situation here is that the applicant (Mohammad Nizar) and the respondent (Zambry) are both claiming to be the mentri besar.

“There is no direct involvement of the federal government in this issue,” he said.

The judge also fixed May 4 to hear the application by Mohammad Nizar to cross-examine Perak legal advisor Datuk Kamal Md Shahid on the statement which he claimed was inconsistent with Mohammad Nizar's statement in the affidavit filed in the suit. - Bernama

Fairus will not be charged for corruption: MACC

GEORGE TOWN: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has decided statements recorded when investigating former Penang Deputy Chief Minister 1, Mohamad Fairus Khairuddin did not provide the basis for prosecution.

In a statement here Thursday, MACC said the decision was made after studying the case and considering the statements recorded in the course of investigation.

"MACC's legal and prosecuting division decided that the statements have no basis for prosecution. The Attorney-General also agreed with the decision," said the statement.

MACC opened investigation papers after an allegation was made against two state Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) leaders that they were involved in a corruption case pertaining to a quarry in Seberang Perai.

The allegation by Kepala Batas PKR youth chief Amizuddin Ahmat in February forced Mohammad Fairus to resign as Penang Deputy Chief Minister I and Penanti state assemblyman.

The MACC investigation found that Fairus' duty and responsibility under his portfolio did not have any connection with the quarry business in Penang.

"He was asked to investigate a case that involved the alienation of land at Lot 954 and 955, Mukim 20, Seberang Perai Tengah to an individual.

"MACC investigation found that he had asked and received funding from a quarry operator to attend an international course in London," said the statement.

However, MACC found that the quarry operator concerned had no connection with the investigation against Fairus.

"It also found that Fairus attended an international course in London in mid 2008 together with Penang Deputy Chief Minister II (P. Ramasamy) who was fully sponsored by the organiser and the state government," said the statement. MACC reminded state governments, ministries and departments to abide by the rules and procedures on requesting and accepting contributions from outside parties.

It would send officers to Penang to study ways to improve transparency and accountability based on the procedures on contributions from outside.

"MACC will propose that the outcome from the study be implemented in all states and ministries," said the statement. The move was in line with the duty and responsibility of MACC under section 7 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Act 2009. - Bernama

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Nizar to get first dibs on his Camry: Dr Zambry

IPOH: The Barisan Nasional-led state government will give former Perak mentri besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin first preference in the sale of the Toyota Camry AGS 10 he used as his official car.

Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir said that this was because the Barisan government was “courteous” and “did not believe in being confrontational.”

He said that since his predecessor had expressed an interest in bidding for the car, which had been the former Pakatan Rakyat government’s official mentri besar vehicle, the state would not stop the latter from making an offer during the auction.

“It is good that he wants to buy the car. At least then he wouldn’t be using it ‘secara haram’ (illegally) any more,” Dr Zambry told reporters after chairing the weekly executive committee meeting here Wednesday.

He added that while Nizar would still have to bid for the vehicle, first preference would be given to him since he was the state’s former mentri besar.

“Even if there is a higher bidder for the car, we will give him top priority out of respect to him as the former mentri besar,” he said.

On whether priority would be given to former exco members from Pakatan, Dr Zambry said:

“I don’t know, ask them if they are interested or not. Usually, we will give them priority -- it has been our policy from the start.

“But whatever it is, we must go for the highest bidder.”

Dr Zambry said the state government would revert to using Proton Perdanas as official vehicles and would soon purchase a fleet for all state excos and ex-officios.

“The Proton cars are our national pride. We can use whatever brand of cars for personal use but as official vehicles, we should use the Proton,” he said.

On previous complaints on the high cost of maintenance for the Proton Perdanas, Dr Zambry said:

“It is one of our concerns but we will speak with Proton to see how best to maintain the cars.”

It was reported Tuesday that the state government had decided to auction off the 16 Toyota Camrys that were used as official vehicles during Pakatan’s rule.

The auction will take place at the State Secretariat’s car park from 9.30am to 4pm from May 4 to 18.

The reserve price for the vehicles will be at RM148,000 each and those interested should submit their offers before noon on May 18.

Guan Eng: Anwar has apologised, matter settled

GEORGE TOWN: Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said on Wednesday that Pakatan Rakyat leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had apologised for failing to keep Lim informed about the resignation of Former Deputy Chief Minister 1 Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin as Penanti assemblyman.

“I do not want this matter to drag on,” he told reporters Wednesday, adding that heconsidered the matter settled.

Lim, who is also DAP secretary general, had expressed his disappointment Monday that Anwar had not told him about Mohammad Fairus’ resignaton.

Mohammad Fairus who quit at DCM1 effective April 8, later resigned as Penanti assemblyman on April 16. - Bernama

Pahang’s refusal pay RM63mil is against court order: Seruan

KUANTAN: The refusal of the Pahang government to pay compensation amounting to RM63mil is clearly going against the court order, plaintiff Seruan Gemilang Makmur Sdn Bhd claimed.

Its managing director Saiyeed Ali Al-Habsyee said Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob, as the defendant, should adhere to the order made in a writ of mandamus at the Kuantan High Court on Monday to pay up within 14 days.

“The order did not grant the Pahang government any privilege to defer paying the compensation.

“The mentri besar had claimed that the state government has new evidence to file a new application against the order.

“By right, Adnan should pay up first before submitting an appeal or any other action as defined in the law,” he told reporters during a press conference at the court’s premises Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Adnan said the state government had discovered new evidence involving perjury, fraud, forgery and conflict of interest which were not raised when the case was brought up at the Court of Appeal and Federal Court.

Saiyeed Ali said he was at the court Tuesday to witness the filing of an application for stay of execution by state legal adviser Datuk Mat Zara’ai Alias.

He said he would be engaging the services of prominent lawyer Karpal Singh to fight the case out in open court.

“I believe if the state government fails to adhere to the order, a warrant of arrest can be issued by the court,” he said, adding that he hoped Adnan would not go against the order to avoid a higher compounded interest.

On Dec 9, 2002, Seruan Gemilang had filed a suit against the state government and state forestry director seeking RM31mil in damages for breaching a logging concession contract relating to the extraction of timber logs from a 4,000ha plot of land belonging to Umno in Bebar, Pekan.

The Kuantan High Court decision on May 25 last year ordered them to pay RM37,127,471.60, with interest from April 5, 2000, to the company for breach of contract.

The Pahang government and state forestry director applied for leave to appeal against the decision, which was rejected by the Court of Appeal.

The Federal Court on Sept 17 last year affirmed the Court of Appeal decision.

Kuantan High Court had on Monday ordered Adnan and the state government to pay the damages to Seruan Gemilang Makmur Sdn Bhd after it failed to set aside the judgement and sum affirmed by the Federal Court on Sept 17, last year for breach of contract.

However, the state government had on Tuesday, filed a new application by including new evidence involving perjury, fraud, forgery and conflict of interest, details of which were not raised when the case was brought up at the Court of Appeal and Federal Court.

Adnan had also clarified that the order was issued not on him in a personal capacity but as an agent of the Government, adding that the state government would apply for a stay of execution

Meanwhile, Pahang PAS expressed concern over the court case.

Its secretary Roslan Zainal said the case had shown up the state government’s inefficiency and could plunge the state into worse financial turmoil.

“The state is already facing a RM98.61mil deficit. The people are now worried that this will result in Pahang having to face a much higher deficit.

“The state government must explain, in detail, to the people about what is happening. It must also explain to the public what system is used in awarding timber consession in the state,” he said in a statement Wednesday.

Govt lifts 30% bumi rule for 27 services sub-sectors

PUTRAJAYA: The government has removed the 30% bumiputra equity condition in 27 services sub-sectors, with immediate effect.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said that the Government would progressively undertake the liberalisation of other services sub-sectors on an ongoing basis.

Among the services sub-sectors immediately liberalised were health and social, tourism, business and computer related services, he said.

In a bid to develop Malaysia as an international Islamic financial hub, the legal profession would be liberalised to allow up to five international law firms with expertise in international Islamic finance to practise in Malaysia, Najib said.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Logging firm vs Pahang: It’s complicated

KUANTAN: The high-profile court case in which the Pahang government was ordered to pay RM63mil to a logging company has taken a new twist -- Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob claimed that the state government has new evidence and has filed a new application.

The Mentri Besar said the state government discovered new evidence involving perjury, fraud, forgery and conflict of interest which were not brought up when the case was brought up at the Court of Appeal and Federal Court.

“The state government’s case has been dismissed on technical grounds and we have not had the opportunity to properly present our case.

“We have filed a new application and it will be heard on April 24. The legal proceeding will continue,” Adnan told reporters during a tea-break of the state assembly sitting here Tuesday.

He called for the press conference in response to the Monday ruling after the state government failed in its bid to set aside the judgment sum which was affirmed by the Federal Court on Sept 17 last year.

Perak govt to auction off Toyota Camrys

IPOH: The Perak state government will auction off the 16 units of Toyota Camry 2.4 which were used as official cars by executive councillors under the previous coalition government.

According to a statement of an open tender sent to the advertising division of a Malay daily here Tuesday, the auction would be held from May 4 to 18.

The tender statement issued by the Perak State Secretariat said the auction would be carried out at the carpark of the Bangunan Perak Darul Ridzuan here from 9.30am until 4pm.

The statement said the vehicles could be purchased either in bulk or individually at a reserved price of RM148,000 each.

The cars, with the registration numbers AGS10, AFD11, AFD22, AFD33, AFD55, AFD66, AFD77, AFD88, AFD99, AFD333, AFD999, AFF33, AFF88, AFF99, AGS828 and AEU606, were all registered on Jan 9.

The statement also said that all the cars were bought new and used between one and two months with low mileage and under three-year warranty by the manufacturer.

However, it is learnt that the car with the registration number AGS10 which was used by former mentri besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin would not be auctioned off as he was said to have made a booking to buy the car.

Anyone intending to purchase the cars must submit their offer before noon on May 18. -- Bernama

BN calls for Abdul Malik to be made DCM I

GEORGE TOWN: An opposition assemblyman has called for Abdul Malik Abul Kassim (PKR-Batu Maung) to be made the state’s Deputy Chief Minister I.

Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya (BN-Teluk Bahang) made the call when debating the Yang Di-Pertua Negri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas’ speech at the state legislative assembly Tuesday.

Dr Hilmi made the suggestion in response to Sim Tze Tzin’s (PKR-Pantai Jerejak) invitation for him to join PKR so that he could participate in discussions with the party’s leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng on a replacement for former DCM I Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin.

“Over my dead body will I ever join a party that is so chaotic,” he said, before questioning why Abdul Malik was not appointed to the position.

“He is capable and hardworking. Why was he not chosen? What has he done wrong? If I were him, I’d quit (the party),” he said.

Abdul Malik has been speculated to be among the possible candidates to replace Mohammad Fairus who resigned from the post on April 8 following corruption investigations.

At this point, Koid Teng Guan (DAP-Sungai Pinang) chided him for raising political issues in the House instead of talking about things that benefit the rakyat (people). Dr Hilmi then suggested that Mohd Hamdan Abdul Rahman (PAS-Permatang Pasir) replace Abdul Malik as the state Religious Affairs Committee chairman.

“Why is PAS not represented in the state exco (executive committee) lineup? This is a suitable portfolio for the party,” he said

Gunning for Guan Eng

GEORGE TOWN: Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng once again came under fire for not filling a vacant position in the state, this time for the post of Penang Municipal Council president.

The seat fell vacant after its outgoing president Datuk Zainal Rahim Seman was promoted to state secretary effective Monday.

Lim has declined to name a replacement or appoint an acting president as yet.

At a press conference after Zainal Rahim was sworn in outside the State Legislative assembly sitting here Tuesday, Lim said he would name the new council president in due time.

Lim had recently come under strong criticism for not appointing a replacement for Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin, who quit as Deputy Chief Minister 1, effective April 8.

“It is not a problem for us, administratively (to pick a candidate for the council president’s post). I will definitely tell all of you (the media),” he said.

Asked to comment on Penang Gerakan’s proposal that its former deputy secretary-general Datuk Lee Kah Choon be considered for the post, Lim retorted that Gerakan had also proposed to abolish the ISA.

“Gerakan can make proposals, but we will decide after making necessary consultations within our leadership,” he said.

At a separate press conference, Penang Wanita MCA chief Tan Cheng Liang said Lim should make up his mind on the council president’s replacement and to not “take Penangites for a ride.”

She said he should also scrap the post of DCM 1 if he was unable to find a suitable replacement.

Tan said Lim often boasted that he looked at merit and not race or religion when appointing state government staff, but he instead allocated the DCM 1’s post to a Malay, from PKR.

“This is hypocrisy and a practice of double standards. PKR has two other state excos, Abdul Malik Abul Kassim and Law Choo Kiang.

“Are they not fit for the post, or are they leaders without merit?” she said.

Tan also said Lim owed Penangites an explanation on Mohammad Fairus’ sudden decision to quit as DCM 1 and Penanti assemblyman.

“As a leader who claims to advocate transparency, Lim should be transparent himself,” especially on that particular matter, she said.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Police officer caught with his pants down

BUTTERWORTH: The deputy chief of a police station who had his zipper down and a woman teacher were detained for indecent behaviour by religious department officers yesterday.

Penang Islamic Department officers detained them at the Bagan Ajam rest area on the Butterworth Outer Ring Road.

The police officer shouted abusive words at the religious department officers and refused to show his authority card after identifying himself as a policeman.

The department's operations unit chief, Khairul Azman Azizan, had to ask policemen who were accompanying them to help detain the police officer.

The police officer and his female companion, who is in her 40s, were taken to a police station.

They were released five hours later on bail.

Winning or losing makes no difference, says Penang BN

KEPALA BATAS: Winning or losing the Penanti by-election will not make a difference to the Penang Barisan Nasional.

State Umno secretary Datuk Azhar Ibrahim said winning the seat would not bring any major changes and it would not be a loss to the coalition if Barisan decided not to contest.

He said the Penang Barisan would not achieve anything major such as forming the state government if it contests and wins the seat.

Barisan’s number of seats would increase to 12 if it wins the by-election while Pakatan Rakyat has 28.

“It is not a loss to the BN if we decide not to contest in the by-election,” Azhar, who is also Penaga assemblyman, told reporters yesterday after handing over aid under a federal poverty eradication scheme to the poor at the Bertam Sports Complex.

He said this when asked to comment on Prime Minister and Barisan chairman Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s statement that the BN was considering staying out of the by-election as it would be a waste of public funds in view of the economic downturn.

Meanwhile, state MCA deputy chairman Eng Hiap Boon chided Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng for failing to take responsibility in causing the Penanti by-election.

“He doesn’t want anything to do with the by-election because he knows that the general sentiment is that the people are tired of by-elections.

“Once again he is pushing the blame. This time, instead of MCA and the Federal Government, he is blaming PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim,” he said.

He said it also showed that Lim did not have full authority as Chief Minister because he was not even informed of Fairus’ resignation as state assemblyman.

State Gerakan chairman Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan said Lim’s unhappiness reflected Pakatan Rakyat’s inability to work as a united front.

Umno members warned not to contest as independents

GEORGE TOWN: Disciplinary action will be taken against Penang Umno members who contest as independents in the coming Penanti by-election.

State Umno secretary Datuk Azhar Ibrahim said it was a stern warning as Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had yet to make a decision on whether the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition would skip the by-election.

Penang Umno had yet to receive any instructions on the by-elections, he told reporters after the Yang Di-Pertua Negeri Tuan Yang Terutama Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas opened the first meeting of the second session of the 12th state legislative assembly Monday.

“As for now we have not been not told anything, and we will wait until the Prime Minister makes an announcement after the Umno and Barisan supreme councils meet at the end of the month,” he said.

The Penanti by-election came about after former Deputy Chief Minister (DCM) I Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin, who officially quit his post on April 8, vacated his seat as well last week.

On Saturday, Najib said Barisan might not contest the by-election, which he described as merely a political ploy by the Opposition.

Azhar said the by-election would be a waste of time as it would not make any difference whether Barisan won or lost.

“Currently we have 11 state seats and if we win, we will have an additional seat -- still insufficient to form the state government. So it is not going to make any difference,’’ he said.

But he said that if Barisan were to contest, the state Umno machinery would be put into place.

BN afraid of bigger loss, say PKR and PAS

SHAH ALAM: PKR says that the possibility that Barisan Nasional may not field a candidate in Penanti shows that it is afraid of losing with a bigger majority.

Its deputy president, Dr Syed Hussin Ali, said Barisan knew that it would lose with a bigger majority if it placed a candidate in Penanti but it had now changed tactics and called it a sheer waste of public funds.

“People are for change and it goes to show that Barisan has no confidence because it is aware that the people will vote them out,” he said.

On Saturday, Barisan Nasional chairman Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was reported as saying that a decision to skip the by-election would only be made after the Umno and Barisan supreme councils meet at the end of the month.

In Alor Setar, Kedah Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak claimed the Barisan Nasional was afraid to contest because they feared losing to Pakatan Rakyat again.

He said Barisan might have realised that Penanti was a PAS and PKR stronghold, making it harder for them to penetrate.

In Muar, PAS Youth chief Sala- huddin Ayub said Barisan leaders had had enough of challenging the Opposition in by-elections and wanted to avoid another loss.

At a gathering with PAS supporters in Bakri at Kampung Jeram on Saturday, Salahuddin refuted allegations by Barisan leaders that the by-election was a Pakatan political ploy and that Penanti assemblyman Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin had been asked to resign.

Pahang MB ordered to pay logging firm RM63mil

KUANTAN: The Pahang Mentri Besar has been ordered to pay a logging firm RM63mil for breach of contract, after the state government failed in its bid at the High Court here to strike out a writ of mandamus pertaining to a judgement sum ruled by the Federal Court on Sept 17 last year.

The High Court also ordered the payment be made, with costs, to Seruan Gemilang Sdn Bhd within 14 days beginning Monday.

Seruan Gemilang, which filed the writ on Oct 15 last year, had named the Mentri Besar as respondent and stated that the Pahang government had failed or refused to pay the sum despite the Federal Court order.

On March 20, it was reported that the Pahang government refuted the writ because the state government and forestry department were named as parties in the original suit while the Mentri Besar was never a party in the cause.

Justice Abdul Halim Aman, in his written judgement, said a mandamus was a command that binded a person issued with the order to fulfill the obligation.

He added that at this stage, it was not a matter of litigation but a force of the order which made it mandatory for the state government to abide.

On Dec 9, 2002, Seruan Gemilang filed a suit against the Pahang government and the state forestry director seeking RM31mil in damages for breaching a logging concession contract relating to the extraction of timber logs from a 4,000ha land belonging to Umno in Bebar, Pekan.

The Kuantan High Court decision on May 25 last year ordered them to pay RM37,127,471.60, with interest from April 5, 2000, to the company for breach of contract.

The Pahang government and state forestry director applied for leave to appeal against the decision, which was rejected by the Court of Appeal.

The Federal Court on Sept 17 last year affirmed the Court of Appeal decision.

Meanwhile, state legal adviser Datuk Mat Zara’ai Alias said the Pahang government would file an application for a stay of execution on Tuesday, at the Kuantan High Court.

He said the state government would also file an appeal to the appellate court against the decision made by the High Court on Monday.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Hadi ready to face challenge to his PAS President's Post

KOTA BARU: PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang said here he is prepared to face any challenge to the post at the party's general assembly in June, amid talk of a leadership struggle that has allegedly created two camps in the party.

He would leave it to the members to decide whether they wanted to retain him as the president or elect another person to the post, he told reporters after delivering a talk at the Kota Mosque here last night.

He said he would remain with PAS - whether he was reelected president or otherwise - at the general assembly, expected to be held in Shah Alam in June.

The party's Spiritual Leader, Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, had said in a statement that he would leave it to the members to decide whom to elect as the party's president.

"Tok Guru" Nik Aziz had dismissed allegations of a leadership struggle that had created two camps - the Tok Guru Team and the President's Team - in the party, saying such claims were unfounded. - Bernama

Najib: BN may not contest Penanti by-election

PEKAN: Barisan Nasional might not contest the Penanti state by-election if it obtains the consensus of all component parties, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

In this context, Najib said he would hold a meeting with the Umno Supreme Council and meet with the presidents of the Barisan component parties to discuss the matter.

"I will raise the matter at the next Umno Supreme Council meeting. If I don't have the time, I will bring it up to the Political Bureau, and discuss with the Barisan component party presidents," he said.

Najib said he did not rule out the possibility of Barisan not contesting as the latest by-election in Penang was clearly a "political ploy" by the Opposition.

"No, we are not afraid of losing to them but it is a sheer waste of public funds.

"Whatever decision we make, we will take into consideration whether it benefits the people," he told reporters at a press conference at his residence near here on Saturday.

On the party’s new appointed office bearers and state Umno liaison chiefs, Najib said he would announce the names after the supreme council meeting.

“I need some time to consult several senior party leaders first as the appointment is the prerogative of the party president under the party’s constitution.

“I do not know yet if any of the Mentri Besar or Chief Minister will be replaced,” he said adding that no one should speculate as it would not be fair to the parties involved who might experience “sleepless nights.”

On the political storm in Terengganu, Najib said he would be monitoring the situation closely and had listened to explanations from both factions.

“I hope the state leadership can resolve the situation amicably,” he said, adding that it was important to have a strong team who could quell any tension and be acceptable to all Umno leaders in the state.

Najib reiterated that no decision had been made by the Government pertaining to the crooked bridge project.

He also expressed his support to a proposal by the Election Commission to limit the number of supporters allowed at nomination and polling centres.

“We want a smooth elections process and no disturbances by any party supporters,” he said.

Earlier, Najib was given a rousing welcome in his home state and parliamentary constituency by some 30,000 people of all races.

It was the first time Najib, the Pekan MP, returned to his constituency as the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Muslims Warned Of Indonesian Pork Floss

JAKARTA, April 17 (Bernama) - The Indonesian authority has warned Muslims to be wary of meat floss made from shredded dried pork sold in several cities in the republic.

Five of 35 meat floss sold in Jakarta, Jambi, Bogor, Semarang, Surabaya and Bandung had been discovered to be made from shredded dried pork by the Indonesian Agency of Drug and Food Control.

"Pork floss is lighter in colour and its texture is softer than beef floss.

"Actually it is quite difficult to tell the different until we tested them in the laboratory using the real-time polymerase chain reaction equipment," its head, Husniah Rubiana Thamrin was quoted as saying by Republika today.

She said ironically one of the products carried a halal logo purportedly issued by the Indonesian Ulama Council, one had a false manufacturer address while another without the manufacturer address.

The manufacturers had earlier claimed that their products were made from shredded dried beef until the test proved otherwise, she added.

pls take precaution to all muslim..

PM: Too much being spent on unnecessary by-elections

KLANG: National Resources are being wasted on calling for by-elections when the nation should be concentrating on strengthening its economy, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said.

“It is different if an elected representative has passed away, then he has to be replaced but resignations are political decisions which can also be regarded as a political play for specific reasons,” he said on Friday.

Speaking at a press conference, after opening the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysias (ACCCIM) 63rd annual general meeting, he said Malaysians did not like by-elections that were held deliberately.

He was commenting on impending Penanti state assembly by-election in Penang that fell vacant following the resignation of the Deputy Chief Minister I Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin.

By resigning, an elected representative has reneged on his commitment to serve for the duration of his tenure, he said.

“By right, efforts should be made to strengthen the country’s economy and protect the interest of the people. We must be moving forward for the nation’s future,” Najib said.

To a question if a recent article in a Malay vernacular paper contradicted the 1Malaysia concept when it called for Malays to unite and stand-up against the demands of non-Malays, , Najib said it depended on personal interpretation.

However, he did not want any form of extremism in the country, including racism.

He reminded the people that Islam was a religion that encouraged moderation in thoughts and actions.

Najib said 1Malaysia could be interpreted from many perspectives but the thrust of it was of staying together and developing trust and mutual respect among the races as well as working together as one nation.

Proton Exora prime concept

Proton Design showcased two modified Proton Exora MPVs at the launch of the Exora yesterday evening. Some of you may have already seen these cars during the live telecast on TV1, but here is a closer look at the two vehicles. This is the white one called the Proton Exora Prime. Here’s the stuff that Proton Design added to the Exora Prime:

Pearl White Exterior
Double Fin Front Bumper Grille
Corporate Graphic At FR Door Trim
High Gloss Black Side Mirrors
High Glass Black Roof
Wrap-around Satin Galvano Foglamp Garnish
Customised Side Skirts
Customised Rear Apron with Integrated Exhaust
Customised Satin Galvano Glass Trim
Clear Rear Brake Lamps
Tinted Glass
17 inch Wheels with 215/45R17 tyres
2-DIN DVD player with integrated GPS
Rear view mirror with integrated LCD for reverse camera
1st and 2nd row pilot seats with integrated LCD and mobile theater system
Cooler box for the floor console

Proton Exora Prestige Concept

This is the other concept Proton Exora which Proton Design whipped up in conjunction with the Exora’s launch. The Proton Exora Prestige converts the Exora into a VIP chauffeured car with a lounge behind where one can either continue to work on the move or relax on the way home after a stressful day.

There is of course a bodykit which includes a double fin front bumper grill, warp-around chrome foglamp garnish, a front lip, side skirts, rear apron with integrated quad exhausts, a rear roof spoiler, chrome glass trimming, chrome side protector moulding, a customised smoked rear brake lamp, tinted glass, and 18 inch wheels with 224/40R18 tyres.

the interior, the first row is separated from the rest of the vehicle via a glass panel to give the boss at the back some privacy. The rear passenger can communicate with the driver via an intercom. This privacy glass panel includes a 19 inch LCD TV.

The VIP seats have electric adjustments, a massage system, and a built-in working table. Other creature comforts include a nice sound system including two 8 inch subwoofers to match the 5.1 channel DVD player, a stow-away footrest and a cooler box.

Thai "yellow shirt" leader Sondhi survives shooting

BANGKOK (Reuters) - The founder of Thailand's "yellow shirt" protest movement, which was behind the week-long occupation of Bangkok's main airports last year, was shot and wounded on Friday, but a doctor said his life was not in danger.

A policeman looks at the car in which Sondhi Limthongkul, one of the founders of the People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD), was attacked in Bangkok April 17, 2009. (REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom)
The assassination attempt came hours before the government extended a state of emergency in the capital and the cabinet met to discuss the past week's political violence as well as the budget and a stimulus package for the beleaguered economy.

Sondhi Limthongkul received a bloody head wound but survived after gunmen riddled his car with bullets at a petrol station before dawn.

"He is safe now and able to talk," said Dr. Chaiwan Chareonchoktawee, director of Vajira hospital, after Sondhi had an operation to remove bullet fragments and bits of skull bone.

Bank of Thailand Deputy Governor Atchana Waiquamdee told reporters the political turmoil could affect government efforts to revive the economy and delay economic recovery.

"Political instability is affecting not only confidence, but also government policies," she said on Friday.

At the cabinet meeting on Friday, the government agreed to increase its borrowing in order to offset a revenue shortfall and get more funds to stimulate the economy.

The stock market rose 1.5 percent at one stage but then fell back and was down 0.1 percent at midsession. Some analysts expected selling from foreign investors later due to growing worries about the political situation.


Sondhi's yellow-shirted People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) is a motley collection of royalists, academics, ex-military people and Bangkok's middle classes united in their loathing of former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, deposed in a 2006 military coup.

Sondhi founded the PAD in 2005 after falling out with Thaksin, who used to be a business associate.

The "yellow shirts" have not been part of the latest political violence, which has involved Thaksin's red-shirted supporters, but protests severely undermined pro-Thaksin governments that ruled following a return to democracy in 2008.

On an alliance-run radio station, another PAD leader, Pipop Thongchai, quickly pointed the finger at "Thaksin's lieutenants who could not accept defeat after their setbacks" over the past week, when troops forced them to end a siege of Government House.

"I would like to point out that this involves only Thaksin and not the majority of his ordinary red shirts who should be separated from him in this incident," Pipop said.

Bangkok Metropolitan Police Commissioner Vorapong Chiewpreecha told television that 84 spent cartridges were found at the scene of Sondhi's assassination attempt.

"We also found an M-79 grenade that was fired but missed Mr. Sondhi's vehicle. It hit an empty public bus parked nearby but it did not go off," he said.

A bodyguard had minor injuries, but Sondhi's driver was seriously wounded and undergoing surgery at another hospital.

Finance Minister Korn Chatikavanij said on Thursday the turmoil meant big tax shortfalls as businesses delayed investment and the tourist sector faced more losses. He noted forecasts that the economy could shrink 5 percent this year.

After a 6.1 percent contraction in the economy in the final quarter of 2008, Thailand is almost certainly experiencing its first recession since the Asian economic crisis 11 years ago.

(Additional reporting by Vithoon Amorn, Viparat Jantraprap, Arada Therdthammakun, Kittipong Soonprasert and Orathai Sriring)
Copyright © 2008 Reuters

Chin aims to settle water assets issue quickly

PUTRAJAYA: Newly-appointed Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui will meet the Selangor government over the state’s intended takeover of water assets from the concessionaires.

As he had just taken over the portfolio, he said: “I understand the need for fast action as delays will only mean bigger expenditure for all parties involved. I will asked the ministry officers involved to brief me quickly and I will also seek comments from my predecessor Datuk Shaziman (Mansor).”

Earlier, Shaziman, the former Energy, Water and Telecommunications Minister, handed his duties over to Chin in a simple ceremony.

On the Selangor government’s call for former Energy, Water and Telecommunications Minister Tun Dr Lim Keng Yaik to represent the Federal Government in the takeover negotiations, Chin said he had no problems getting Dr Lim involved.

“But we must remember that this issue also involves dealings between the state and Federal governments so I have to look into the procedures to see if Dr Lim can be involved,” he said.

Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim on Wednesday call for Dr Lim’s involvement on grounds that he was familiar with the Water Services Industry Act 2006 and the country’s water industry.

The acquisition of the state’s water industry involves four concessionaires - Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas), Konsortium ABASS Sdn Bhd, Syarikat Pengeluar Air Sungai Selangor Sdn Bhd (Splash) and Puncak Niaga Holdings Bhd.

Fairus made decision to quit, says Penang PKR chief

GEORGE TOWN: It was former Penang Deputy Chief Minister I Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin, who made the decision to quit as Penanti assemblyman, said state PKR chief Datuk Zahrain Mohamed Hashim

He said that as such people should respect the decision and not speculate on it.

“It was his own decision. I am sure he has good reasons for resigning, and I am also sure that (PKR de facto leader) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has been briefed about it,” he said when contacted on Friday.

A statement bearing Mohammad Fairus’s signature, announcing his resignation and his reasons for it, was e-mailed to the media by the PKR headquarters in Petaling Jaya on Thursday.

The resignation comes a day after a scathing interview with a Chinese newspaper in which Fairus claimed he was being fixed by his own party.

Asked if Mohammad Fairus had alerted him about the decision, Zahrain said he (Mohammad Fairus) was dealing with Anwar directly.

“Datuk Seri had alerted me about the matter. I did not receive any letter from Mohammad Fairus,” he added.

Perak assembly to sit May 7

IPOH: It is set. The Perak state assembly will sit from May 7.

In confirming the news, state Health, Local Government, Consumer Affairs, Environment, Public Transportation and Non-Islamic Affairs committee chairman Dr Mah Hang Soon said his office received the letter, which was signed by assembly secretary Abdullah Antong Sabri at 1pm Friday.

“The letter did not state how many days the House will sit except that it will meet from May 7,” he said when contacted by The Star here.

Asked whether sitting arrangements were enclosed in the letter, Dr Mah said it was a normal letter with no other attachments.

Meanwhile, Pantai Remis assemblyman Nga Kor Ming, when contacted, slammed the setting of the date, which was done without the consent and knowledge of Assembly Speaker V. Sivakumar.

“This is the first time in history that the setting of state assembly sitting date was done without the speaker being informed,” he said, adding that Abdullah Antong’s letter was hand delivered to Wisma DAP here at 11am Friday.

Nga, who was former Pakatan Rakyat state exco member, questioned the setting of the assembly sitting date when the case of former Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin challenging the appointment of present Mentri Besar Datuk Dr Zambry Abd Kadir was still pending at the Kuala Lumpur High Court.

“In fact, the judge has fixed May 5 and 6 as the hearing date.

“Barisan Nasional should have waited until the outcome of the case before deciding on the sitting date,” he added.

Dr Zambry was quoted to have said Friday that the notice to convene the State Assembly would be issued to all representatives by next week.

He was also quoted to have said that according to the assembly regulations, a sitting must convene within six months of the last session in November 2008.

Nizar was quoted to have said last Tuesday that he expected a tussle for the Mentri Besar's seat during the assembly.

He said he should still occupy the Mentri Besar's chair as Pakatan Rakyat was still the legitimate government.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Fairus: Clear my name or prepare for expose

KUALA LUMPUR: Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin, who quit as Penang Deputy Chief Minister 1 and as Penanti assemblyman, has given PKR a two-week deadline to clear his name, saying he would otherwise expose a state government and party scandal.

In an exclusive interview with Chinese daily Nanyang Siang Pau, he said he had inside information related to the internal operation of the Pakatan Rakyat opposition alliance.

“That is the reason why the party still does not take any action against me,” he said, adding that it was not convenient for him to elaborate at present and urged the press to be patient.

Mohammad Fairus has been quizzed by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) for his alleged involvement with illegal quarry activities in the state, and has come under fire by his own party for supposed under-performance.

“I am innocent. They know what I can do. So do not push me (from taking such step)!” he said, claiming that he had been framed by party insiders.

He told Nanyang Siang Pau that he was unhappy with his party for not standing behind him as it had done for Bukit Lanjan assemblyman Elizabeth Wong and former Bukit Selambau assemblyman V. Arumugam.

“The two of them were just state executive council (exco) members, while I am not only a state exco member but also state Deputy Chief Minister,” he said, denying criticism that he had been neglectful of his constituency and absent from many state government functions.

He claimed that it was all part of a well-crafted plot to frame him.

“I have done my constituency work properly and have the support of my voters. Those on the outside may not understand this because my work and services for the constituency have not been reported in newspapers,” he said.

He added that he would cooperate with the MACC to clear his name over the illegal quarrying issue.

Over 30,000 Workers Retrenched Nationwide

SHAH ALAM, April 16 (Bernama) -- Some 30,650 foreign and local workers were retrenched nationwide as of Tuesday this year, Human Resources Deputy Minister Datuk Maznah Mazlan said.

They comprised 23,149 workers who were laid off under the retrenchment scheme while the rest had resigned on their own accord, she said.

However, some 2,900 of the retrenched local workers had been re-employed in the private and public sectors, she told Bernama after presenting prizes for a skills competition at the Advanced Technology Training Centre here today.

She said that the government was aware of the plight of workers and had made it among the priority under the second stimulus package.

Among the measures identified was the creation of some 163,000 training and employment opportunities in the public and private sectors.

She also said that the ministry was implementing existing and new training programmes in collaboration with the industry and companies, especially those in the electronic, welding, robotics and constructions.

"The ministry is also setting up 22 JobsMalaysia centres and improving the 109 existing centres to provide easy access to information about training and job openings," she said.

Court: Sivakumar has no power to suspend Zambry, excos

PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court ruled Thursday that Perak Assembly Speaker V. Sivakumar did not have the power to suspend Mentri Besar Datuk Dr Zambry Abd Kadir and his six executive council members from the assembly.
The Court then lifted the suspension on Dr Zambry and his six executive council members and said the seven could attend the next assembly sitting.
Court of Appeal president Justice Alauddin Mohd Sheriff, who chaired the five-man panel Thursday said that the decision was "unanimous".
Meanwhile, Dr Zamby said that the notice calling for state assembly would be issued Friday or next week.
Perak Speaker V. Sivakumar suspended Mentri Besar Datuk Dr Zambry Abd Kadir and his six excos from all State Assembly sittings for 18 months in February soon after Barisan took over Perak and appointed Zambry as new Mentri Besar.
State power moved from Pakatan Rakyat to Barisan Nasional when three Pakatan state assemblymen quit the party and became Barisan-friendly independents, tilting the power in favour of Barisan.
Barisan then obtained the Sultan of Perak’s assent to Dr Zambry as the new Mentri Besar and the six as excos.
Pakatan questioned the legitimacy of Dr Zambry as Mentri Besar and the matter went court.

Fairus quits his Penanti seat

GEORGE TOWN: After weeks of speculation, former Penang Deputy Chief Minister I Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin has quit his Penanti state seat, paving the way for a possible by-election.
He also took aim at PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, issuing an ultimatum through a Chinese daily: Help him clear his name or risk the exposure of a state and party scandal.
His resignation comes less than a week after he officially stepped down from the state’s No 2 post following allegations of his involvement in illegal activities with local quarry operators.
In a press statement, he said that he would now focus on his post-graduate studies and on clearing his name from the allegations hurled against him.
In an immediate response, the Election Commission said it was awaiting official notification of Fairus’s as Penanti assemblyman.
Its chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Yusof said the Commission would only start to look into the resignation and the possible by-election once it was officially informed of the resignation.
He said the state assembly speaker would usually notify the state Commission office of a vacancy or it could also be contacted by the representative involved, DHARMENDER SINGH reports.
“As yet, we have not received any notification to the effect from the Penang state assembly speaker or our state office so are unable to confirm the facts,” he said when contacted in PUTRAJAYA.
He said however that if Fairus had indeed quit then a by-election would be held to elect a new representative to replace him.
He said the commission’s machinery was always ready and would be able to handle another by-election if there was a need for one.
Falling starMohammad Fairus shot to stardom after the March 2008 general election on the strength of his confidence, extensive academic training and gift for languages. The double Masters degree holder has however been plagued by controversy after controversy since September last year.
After just six months on the job as Penang’s youngest ever Deputy Chief Minister, he was given a very public tongue-lashing by Anwar for apparently neglecting his constituency.
The young leader was humbled before Permatang Pauh PKR Wanita members during a breakfast gathering and later passed off the incident as a result of being publicity-shy with his activities and working with the wrong team of people.
He was dealt another strong blow later that month when the Football Association of Penang (FAP), which he was helming, called an emergency meeting to ask him to step down.
Mohammad Fairus, a former national athlete and silat (Malay martial arts) trainer, was accused of repeatedly postponing meetings and allowing the association’s coffers to dry up, resulting in state players not being paid for four months.
Under his watch, FAP -- running the oldest domestic league in the country -- was suspended for a month in July due to financial constraints.
He resigned his FAP post in October, which was later taken up by Penang PKR chairman Datuk Zahrain Mohamed Hashim.
In November, state Opposition members weighed in, calling for his resignation for under-performing.
Each time he faced such an obstacle, the charismatic former freelance human resource and corporate development consultant put on a brave front, saying his accusers were only “jealous” of his position and abilities.
Online reports quoting a few of his former aides and noting the high turnover of staff in his office painted a picture that he was difficult to work with.
A report also surfaced saying that Anwar had given him and fellow PKR state executive councillor Abdul Malik Abul Kassim a stern warning to bury the hatchet.
In late January, Mohammad Fairus, Abdul Malik and fellow PKR state executive council member Law Choo Kiang were dropped from the party’s liaison committee line-up.
Then Mohammad Fairus was stripped of the State Religious Affairs portfolio, which was given to Abdul Malik, in early February.
In March, PKR began investigating allegations that two party leaders were working hand-in-glove with several quarries in the state to cover up illegal activities. His name repeatedly came up.
While maintaining his innocence, Mohammad Fairus tended his resignation from the state government to Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng on March 21; it became effective on April 8.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Proton unveils its first MPV, the Exora

KUALA LUMPUR: Proton Holdings Bhd unveiled its first multipurpose vehicle (MPV), the Exora, to the public in a gala event here Wednesday night.
Launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, the 1.6-litre Exora has already received orders of 2,500 units, even before its public unveiling.
The seven-seater -- Proton’s most important model for the year -- also marks the company’s entry into the MPV market, which is growing domestically and regionally.
In addition to an interior that is easily more spacious than other MPVs in its engine class, the Exora also comes with a separate air-conditioner blower with ceiling mounted vents for the second and third row passengers.
Large doors allows for easy entry and exit while the second and third row seats can be folded for a flat floor layout when carrying bulky items.
The vehicle is also not short on safety features with dual front airbags, pretensioner seatbelts and an anti-lock braking system with electronic brake-force distribution.
In the safety department, the MPV has the equivalent of a four-star crash safety rating in the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP).
The vehicle also has a steering wheel with audio buttons, reverse sensors, an immobiliser and radio/ CD player that supports MP3 and WMA files and Bluetooth handsfree connectivity.
The Exora is a result of an investment of RM450mil and 18 months of intense in-house research and development, the company said.
It is powered by a 1.6-litre CamPro CPS engine with 125bhp and torque of 150Nm, and is available in a four-speed automatic version, in trim levels of Mid-Line and Hi-Line.
The Mid-Line Exora costs RM69,998 and the Hi-Line variant, RM75,998 for the metallic colours.
The Hi-Line variant gets additional features such as a rear DVD monitor, tinted glass, portable satellite navigation system, cruise control, fog lamps, rear spoiler, and leather seats and finishing.
Colour choices are Solid White, Genetic Silver, Tranquillity Black, Blue Haze, Pyrite Brown and Gaia Blue

Don’t polemicise ministry dissolution: Najib

KUALA LUMPUR: The dissolution of the Entrepreneur and Cooperative Development Ministry should not be turned into a “polemic” or a controversy.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said there should not be any problem with the move, which had merely been made with a more efficient and smaller government in mind.
Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara), he said, would be absorbed into the Rural and Regional Development Ministry while the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (CVLB) would be put under the Prime Minister’s Department.
“Mara used to be under that ministry during the time of (former Deputy Prime Minister) Tun Ghafar Baba. This time the minister in charge of it is an Umno vice-president so it’s not like we cannot depend on him to carry out his duties.
“Similarly, we decided to put the CVLB under the PM’s Department because we are going to set up a National Land Transport Authority which will have representation from various ministries,” he said, adding that the Government was in the process of finalising the legislation for its establishment and expected this to be completed by the end of the year.
The authority, which establishment had already been agreed on during Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s tenure as Prime Minister, would also be placed under the PM’s Department, said Najib.
Some quarters, including small businessmen and taxi drivers, had questioned the decision by Najib to dissolve the ministry, adding that it was still needed and urging him to reconsider.
It had been widely speculated that the CVLB would come under the Transport Ministry.
Earlier in a statement, the Premier announced that the Franchise Development and Encouragement and Vendor Scheme Development would be absorbed into the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry as well as the Cooperative Development, its Commission and College.
The National Entrepreuneur Institute, SME Bank and Bumiputra Trade and Industry Community Development will be incorporated into the International Trade and Industry Ministry while the Contractor Service Centre will be put under the purview of the Works Ministry.
Other bodies such as the respective state economic development corporations, the Urban Development Authority, Perbadanan Nasional Bhd and Bank Rakyat will be moved to the Finance Ministry; while Universiti Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia-Japan University will be transferred to the Higher Education Ministry.
Tekun Nasional -- a fund for entrepreneurs -- will be moved to the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry.
Najib said putting these agencies under the various ministries would ensure the continuity of their main role, particularly in creating entrepreneurs and traders among bumiputras, and to speed up their involment in the country’s economy.
“It will also help develop new growth areas and strengthen the cooperative movement,” he said.