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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

PM dispels fears of possible bankruptcy

Malaysian Insider


KUALA LUMPUR, June 8 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today moved to quell fears raised by a minister that Malaysia would one day go the way of Greece and Iceland and become a bankrupt nation.

In a written response to a question by Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Ipoh Timor) in Parliament, the premier gave an assurance that the government was taking steps to ensure that Malaysia’s debts would be reduced and maintained at a manageable level.

“Malaysia will not face problems like what is happening at present in Greece and Iceland.

“The financial position of the federal government will continue to be monitored and controlled responsibly.

“Our deficit is expected to be reduced and our debt level will continue to be controlled in the medium, long and short terms.

“These efforts will help to ensure that the level of deficit and debt of the government will not rise to a point that it affects the ability of the country to repay them,” he said in his reply.

In his query, Lim had voiced concerns that Malaysia would go the way of Greece and Iceland and had asked the prime minister to explain the government’s efforts in ensuring that the country would not have to seek the aid from regional and international communities.

Najib explained that the country’s debt level had reduced in 2009 to RM233.92 billion from RM236.18 billion in 2008.

“The country’s debt ratio to GDP between 2004 and 2009 remained manageable with an average of 34.6 per cent.

“In 2009, the country’s debt level was reduced although the ratio rose a little. The reduction was caused by the full repayment of medium- and short-term loans by the federal government and the private sector, which better balanced out the net takings by non-financial public enterprises,” he said.

He added that the strengthening of the ringgit to the US dollar had also contributed to the reduction of the country’s foreign debt levels.

“The ratio of foreign debt as at Dec 31, 2009 was estimated at 7 per cent and this mirrors the strengthening of export revenue to repay our debt obligations.

“The ratio of international reserves to foreign short-term debts is more than enough to accommodate 4.2 times of our short-term debts,” he said.

Najib said the government would continue to be prudent and pragmatic in managing Malaysia’s foreign debts in order to facilitate the diversification of external borrowings by the public sector and to minimise risk in large external obligations and the capacity to service debts.

“For the private sector, external borrowings will only be done if it is needed to finance productive economic activities capable of generating foreign currency receivables to repay loans,” he said.

To reduce foreign debts, Najib said the government was embarking on several proactive measures including the prioritisation of domestic borrowings that do not contribute to inflation.

“Also, to encourage financial and monetary stability while at the same time preserve balance of payment positions, foreign debt management is supported by a comprehensive monitoring and debt surveillance system. This is to enable early detection of any risk and weaknesses that could be caused by national debt exposure,” he said.

Najib also said the government was currently studying the restructuring of fuel subsidies, which is in line with its objective of consolidating the country’s staggered fiscal position.

“The 2010 Budget will stress steps taken to increase effectiveness, income efficiencies and the government’s expenditures,” he said.

The government, added Najib, would also continue to intensify public-private partnership programmes for several high-impact projects including high-speed broadband, federal development corridors and public transportation infrastructure.

“To strengthen our stream of income, the government is also taking efforts to introduce the Goods and Services Tax. Through this, the government’s earnings base will be broadened and it will further shelter us from fluctuating oil prices,” he said.

Malaysia Will Not Go Bankrupt Like Iceland And Greece, Assures Najib

KUALA LUMPUR, June 8 (Bernama) -- Malaysia will not go bankrupt like Iceland and Greece following the nation's success in maintaining its debt level under control and prudent measures taken to reduce debt rate, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak told the Dewan Rakyat Tuesday.

He said the federal government's financial position will be carefully planned, constantly monitored and strictly controlled with full responsibility.

"The deficit level is expected to dwindle while the debt level will be kept under control in the medium-and long-term.

"These measures will help ensure the debt level and the federal government's deficit will not increase to the extent of jeopardising the country's financial capacity to repay its debts," said Najib, who is also Finance Minister, in his written reply to Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Ipoh Timur).

Kit Siang had asked Najib on the actions taken to ensure Malaysia would not suffer a similar fate like Iceland and Greece and become a bankrupt nation, requiring a bailout from regional and international communities.

The Prime Minister said Malaysia's debts dwindled to RM233.92 billion last year as compared with RM236.18 billion in 2008 although the percentage rose slightly.

He said the debts reduced considerably following the federal government's promptness in repaying the medium-and long-term loans and more balanced repayment by the private sector's non-financial public enterprises.

"A stronger ringgit than the US dollar also contributed to the decline in external debts. The external debt service ratio at an estimated 7.0 per cent as at Dec 31 2009 reflected the strong export earnings to repay the loans.

"The international reserve ratio was more than enough to sustain 4.2 times short-term external debts," he said.

Najib said the government would continue to implement prudent and pragmatic management of external debts to facilitate public and private sectors to minimise risks and extend capacity to settle debts promptly.

For the private sector, he said, external loans are sourced only to finance productive economic activities that could generate foreign exchange to repay the loan.

The prime minister said among measures taken by the government to reduce external debts are the current government policy to give priority to domestic loans that would not cause inflation.

"This is because of the high cashflow in the domestic market and cheaper borrowing cost," he said.

It is also to encourage monetary and financial stability besides maintaining balance of payment position, efficient management of external debts supported by a comprehensive control and monitoring system.

This is to facilitate early risk detection and weaknesses in the financial system, he said.

In line with the objective to consolidate fiscal position in stages, Najib said the 2010 Budget stressed on improved measures towards effective and efficient management of government revenue and expenditure.

"The government is studying restructuring of the fuel subsidy system which form the bulk of the government's annual expenditure," he said.

To continuously sustain the fiscal position without affecting overall growth and development objectives, the prime minister said the government would intensify public-private partnership programme for several high-impact projects including the High-Speed Broad Band project, regional development corridors and public transport infrastructures.

To boost revenue, he said, the government was working to introduce goods and services tax (GST)).

Under GST, the government's revenue base would be expanded and better protected by the upswing in fuel prices, he said.

The national debt percentage to the gross domestic product from 2004 to 2009 remained well managed at an average of 34.6 per cent, he added.

Berjaya told Bursa sports betting licence approved...

By Anil Netto,

… “upon certain terms and condition”. The government is now saying that it has not yet decided on the sports betting licence for Ascot.

Berjaya Corp made an announcement to Bursa on 12 May 2010. Look at Item 2.2 under background to Ascot: “The Minister of Finance has given its approval for the re-issuance to Ascot of the licence to carry out sports betting operations upon certain terms and conditions.”

But under item 8, “approvals required”, it states: The Proposals are conditional upon approvals being obtained from the following:
d) The Minister of Finance for the re-issuance of the sports betting license and the changes in shareholders and directors in Ascot, if required;…

There’s also item 2.5, (a) “TSVT’s guarantee of the profit after tax of Ascot that it shall be at least RM375.0 million in aggregate for the three (3) financial years ending 30 April 2011 to 30 April 2013. This translates into an average profit after tax of RM125.0 million per annum;…”

Berjaya Corp’s full announcement to Bursa on 12 May 2010:

BERJAYA CORPORATION BERHAD (“BCORPORATION” OR “COMPANY”)
(A) PROPOSED ACQUISITION OF 70% EQUITY INTEREST IN ASCOT SPORTS SDN BHD
(“ASCOT”) FOR A TOTAL CASH CONSIDERATION OF RM525 MILLION (“PROPOSED
ACQUISITION”); AND

(B) PROPOSED RENOUNCEABLE RIGHTS ISSUE OF UP TO RM614,455,933 NOMINAL VALUE
OF 10-YEAR 8% IRREDEEMABLE CONVERTIBLE UNSECURED LOAN STOCKS (“ICULS”)
AT 100% OF ITS NOMINAL VALUE ON THE BASIS OF ONE (1) RM1.00 NOMINAL VALUE
OF ICULS FOR EVERY EIGHT (8) EXISTING ORDINARY SHARES OF RM1.00 EACH HELD
IN BCORPORATION (“BCORPORATION SHARES”) (“PROPOSED RIGHTS ISSUE”)

1. INTRODUCTION
On behalf of the Board of Directors of BCorporation (“Board”), AmInvestment Bank Berhad (a
member of the AmInvestment Bank Group) is pleased to announce that the Company had on 12
May 2010, entered into a conditional Sale and Purchase Agreement (“SPA”) with Tan Sri Dato’
Seri Vincent Tan Chee Yioun, a major shareholder of BCorporation (“TSVT” or “Vendor”) for
the proposed acquisition by BCorporation of 70% equity interest in Ascot comprising 56,000,000
ordinary shares of RM1.00 each (“Sale Shares”) for a total cash consideration of RM525.0
million (“Proposed Acquisition”).
BCorporation is also proposing to undertake a renounceable rights issue of up to RM614,455,933
nominal value of ICULS on the basis of one (1) RM1.00 nominal value of ICULS for every eight
(8) BCorporation Shares held on an entitlement date to be determined later (“Entitlement Date”)
(“Proposed Rights Issue”).
(The Proposed Acquisition and the Proposed Rights Issue shall hereinafter collectively be
referred to as “Proposals”)
The Proposed Rights Issue is not conditional upon the Proposed Acquisition and vice versa.
2. DETAILS OF THE PROPOSED ACQUISITION
2.1 Background Information On The Proposed Acquisition
The Proposed Acquisition entails the acquisition by BCorporation of the Sale Shares from
the Vendor for a total cash consideration of RM525.0 million.
2.2 Background Information on Ascot
Ascot is a private limited company incorporated under the Companies Act, 1965 (“Act”)
on 15 March 1984 under the name of Nautilus Development Sdn Bhd. It adopted its
present name on 2 August 1988. As at 12 May 2010, the authorised share capital of
Ascot is RM100,000,000, comprising of 100,000,000 ordinary shares of RM1.00 each
(“Ascot Shares”) of which 80,000,000 Ascot Shares have been issued and fully paid-up.
Ascot is currently an investment holding company. Its subsidiary, Ascot Sports (IOM)
Limited, a licensed bookmaker incorporated in the Isle of Man (United Kingdom), ceased
its operations in 2008. Presently, Ascot is a dormant company.
Ascot is presently 70% owned by TSVT and the remaining 30% is owned by his son,
Dato’ Robin Tan Yeong Ching.
BERJAYA CORPORATION BERHAD
PROPOSALS
Page 2 of 15
During the financial year ended (“FYE”) 31 December 2008, Ascot Group recorded a
consolidated net liabilities and loss after tax of RM11.2 million and RM4.6 million
respectively.
The Minister of Finance has given its approval for the re-issuance to Ascot of the licence
to carry out sports betting operations upon certain terms and conditions.
Ascot proposes to commence its sports betting operation in the 2nd half of the year 2010
with its retail betting operations being housed at 220 selected Sports Toto outlets, subject
to relevant approvals being obtained. In addition, Ascot also proposes to provide
telephone betting services to customers who wish to register accounts with them. The
primary focus of Ascot will be on sports betting on soccer games in the initial stages with
the aim of increasing their product service offering to other sports in the future subject to
the terms and conditions of the licence.
2.3 Background Information on the Vendor
TSVT is the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer and a major shareholder of BCorporation.
2.4 Salient Terms of the SPA
The salient terms of the SPA includes, inter-alia the following:-
2.4.1 Acquisition of Sale Shares and Settlement of the Cash Consideration
BCorporation shall purchase the Sale Shares from TSVT free from all
encumbrances and with all rights and benefits of whatsoever nature attaching
thereto as from the completion date of the SPA (“Completion Date”).
The amount of the cash consideration shall be paid in the following manner:-
(a) RM400.0 million shall be paid within twelve (12) months from Completion
Date or any such extension thereof; and
(b) the balance of RM125.0 million (“Deferred Amount”) shall be paid within
seven (7) days from date of the Certification (as defined in Section 2.4.3
below).
.
The amount of Deferred Amount,if any, actually payable shall be less such
Deferred Amount applied and/or paid pursuant to Section 2.4.3 below and any
such application and/or payment of the Deferred Amount shall constitute as and
be deemed full payment and discharge of all BCorporation’s obligations (or, as
the case may be, to the extent of that amount of the Deferred Amount so applied
or paid).
2.4.2 Conditions Precedent
The Proposed Acquisition is conditional on, amongst others, fulfilment or
satisfaction of the following conditions:-
(a) The re-issuance of the licence pursuant to Section 5(1) of the Pool
Betting Act, 1967 (revised 1983) or such other laws or legislation that
regulate or govern the conduct and operation of the sports betting
operations of Ascot by the Minister of Finance to Ascot and, if required,
BERJAYA CORPORATION BERHAD
PROPOSALS
Page 3 of 15
together with the Minister’s consent for the changes in shareholding and
board of directors of Ascot being obtained on terms and conditions that
are acceptable to BCorporation and not withdrawn or revoked;
(b) The execution of an agreement between Ascot and Sports Toto Malaysia
Sdn Bhd (“Sports Toto”) in relation to the use of certain Sports Toto’s
outlets by Ascot to conduct and carry out the sports betting operation on
terms and conditions acceptable to BCorporation and is valid and
subsisting;
(c) The approval of the shareholders of BCorporation in an extraordinary
general meeting (“EGM”) to be convened; and
(d) The approval of any other relevant authority.
(collectively referred to as “Condition Precedents”)
If all and any of the Conditions Precedent is not satisfied, fulfilled or waived within
six (6) months from the date of the SPA or any extended period, then the SPA
shall ipso facto cease and determine and be null and void and of no further force
and effect. In such event, none of the parties shall thereafter have any claim
whatsoever against the other under the SPA save and except in respect of any
antecedent breach.
The Conditions Precedent set out above are for the sole benefit of BCorporation
and may be waived by BCorporation in whole or in part and with or without terms
and conditions at BCorporation’s absolute discretion without prejudicing its rights
thereunder.
BERJAYA CORPORATION BERHAD
PROPOSALS
Page 4 of 15
2.4.3 Profit Guarantee
TSVT agrees, undertakes and guarantees that the aggregated profits after tax of
Ascot for the three (3) financial years ending 30 April 2011, 2012 and 2013 (“Profit
Guarantee Period”) (“Aggregated Profits After Tax”) shall not be less than the
sum of RM375.0 million (“Guaranteed Total Minimum Profit”) (hereafter, the
“Profit Guarantee”). The auditors shall certify as to the Aggregated Profits After
Tax achieved for the Profit Guarantee Period and the parties agree that such
certification by the Auditors shall be final and binding on the parties.
If following the certification by the auditors that the Aggregated Profits After Tax for
the Profit Guarantee Period is less than the Guaranteed Total Minimum Profit
(“Shortfall”), TSVT agrees and undertakes to indemnify and pay BCorporation
that amount that shall be equivalent to 70% (being the Ascot stake acquired by
BCorporation) of the Shortfall (“Indemnity Amount”).
TSVT agrees as follows:-
(a) The Company is authorised to utilise and apply from time to time the
Deferred Amount towards settlement of the Indemnity Amount.
(b) Concurrently on the Completion Date TSVT will provide and/or cause to be
provided to an escrow agent, certain quoted shares and/or securities to
provide a cover equal in market value to at least 1.3 times of the amount of
RM62.5 million (“Escrow Securities”) and thereafter, at RM62.5 million
less any value of such number of Total Securities returned to TSVT
pursuant to Section 2.4.3(aa) and (bb) below.
The Escrow Securities and such other shares and/or securities (“the Total
Securities”), firstly and thereafter the Deferred Amount, in that order, shall be
returned and/or paid to TSVT subject to the extent and circumstances set out
below:
(aa) If the audited profit after tax of Ascot and its subsidiary (“Ascot Group”)
for the financial year ending 30 April 2011 is equal to or exceeds RM30.0
million, such amount of the Total Securities and/or Deferred Amount that is
equivalent to 50% of the amount of the audited profit after tax of that
financial year (“Returned Amount”) shall be returned and/or paid to
TSVT;
(bb) If the cumulative audited profit after tax of the Ascot Group for the financial
years ending 30 April 2011 and 2012 is equal to or exceeds RM162.0
million, such amount of the Total Securities and/or Deferred Amount that is
equivalent to 50% of the total amount of audited profit after tax for the two
(2) financial years ending 30 April 2011 and 2012 of the Ascot Group less,
if any, the Returned Amount shall be returned and/or paid to TSVT; and
(cc) If after the financial year ending 30 April 2013, the Aggregated Profits After
Tax for the Profit Guarantee Period is equal to or exceeds the Guaranteed
Total Minimum Profit, all remaining Total Securities and/or Deferred
Amount (as the case may be) shall be returned and/or paid to TSVT.
BERJAYA CORPORATION BERHAD
PROPOSALS
Page 5 of 15
2.5 Basis of Arriving at the Cash Consideration
The cash consideration of RM525.0 million was arrived at on a “willing-buyer willingseller”
basis after taking into consideration the following:-
(a) TSVT’s guarantee of the profit after tax of Ascot that it shall be at least RM375.0
million in aggregate for the three (3) financial years ending 30 April 2011 to 30
April 2013. This translates into an average profit after tax of RM125.0 million per
annum; and
(b) The earnings potential and future prospects of Ascot.
The value accorded to Ascot based on 100% equity interest is RM750.0 million.
Accordingly, based on the average profit after tax per year of RM125.0 million, the cash
consideration represents a price-to-earnings multiple of 6.0 times.
2.6 Source of Funding
The Proposed Acquisition is proposed to be financed from the proceeds of the Proposed
Rights Issue. The exact proportion between the said sources of funding will be dependent
on the actual amount of proceeds raised from the Proposed Rights Issue.
In the event the Proposed Rights Issue is not implemented for whatsoever reason, the
Proposed Acquisition will be funded by borrowings and/or internally generated funds.
2.7 Liabilities to be Assumed
There are no liabilities, including contingent liabilities and guarantees, to be assumed by
BCorporation pursuant to the Proposed Acquisition.
BERJAYA CORPORATION BERHAD
PROPOSALS
Page 6 of 15
3. DETAILS OF THE PROPOSED RIGHTS ISSUE
3.1 Details of the Proposed Rights Issue
The proposed rights issue of up to RM614,455,933 nominal value of ICULS is to be
implemented on a renounceable basis of one (1) RM1.00 nominal value of ICULS for
every eight (8) existing BCorporation Shares held on an Entitlement Date.
The actual number of ICULS to be issued pursuant to the Proposed Rights Issue is
dependent on the total voting shares of the Company on the Entitlement Date.
Based on the potential enlarged issued and paid-up share capital of BCorporation of
RM4,915,647,468 comprising 4,915,647,468 voting BCorporation Shares which has been
arrived at based on the following:-
(a) Issued and paid-up share capital of BCorporation (excluding treasury shares) as
at 3 May 2010 of RM4,018,905,825 comprising 4,018,905,825 BCorporation
Shares;
(b) assuming a disposal of a total of 2,980,000 Treasury BCorporation Shares; and
(c) assuming full conversion of all the existing RM446,880,821.50 nominal value of
RM0.50 0% irredeemable convertible unsecured loan stocks 2005/2015
(“Existing ICULS”) by way of surrendering RM0.50 nominal value of Existing
ICULS together with cash payment of RM0.50 for one (1) BCorporation Share
up to a maximum of RM614,455,933 nominal value of ICULS will be made available for
subscription by entitled shareholders pursuant to the Proposed Rights Issue (“Maximum
Scenario”).
Shareholders of BCorporation may subscribe for their respective entitlements of the
ICULS in full or in part.
In determining shareholders’ entitlement to the Proposed Rights Issue, fractional
entitlements, if any, will be disregarded and will be dealt with in such manner as the
Board shall think expedient or in the interest of the Company.
3.2 Basis of Determining the Issue Price of the ICULS and Justification for the Pricing
The ICULS shall be issued at RM1.00 nominal value per ICULS at 100% of its nominal
value. The conversion price for the ICULS is fixed at RM1.00 for every 1 new
BCorporation Share.
The conversion price was arrived at after taking into consideration the five (5)-day volume
weighted average market price (“VWAP”) up to and including 11 May 2010, being the
last market day prior to the date of this Announcement of RM1.56 representing a discount
of 35.9% to the five (5)-day VWAP of BCorporation Shares.
BERJAYA CORPORATION BERHAD
PROPOSALS
Page 7 of 15
3.3 Shareholders’ Undertaking and Underwriting Arrangements
The Proposed Rights Issue will be undertaken on a minimum subscription level basis.
The minimum subscription level is RM400,000,000 nominal value of ICULS and will raise
gross proceeds of RM400.00 million (“Minimum Subscription Level”).
TSVT has agreed to and will also procure his privately held companies to subscribe for
their respective entitlements and/or excess applications to achieve the Minimum
Subscription Level.
The remaining ICULS will not be underwritten.
3.4 Salient terms of the ICULS
The salient terms of the ICULS is set out in Table 1 of this Announcement.
3.6 Ranking of the New BCorporation Shares Arising from the Conversion of the
ICULS
The new BCorporation Shares to be issued arising from the conversion of the ICULS
shall, upon allotment and issue, rank equally in all respects with the existing issued and
fully paid-up BCorporation Shares save and except that they shall not be entitled to any
dividends, rights, allotments and/or other distributions, the entitlement date of which is
prior to the allotment date of the new BCorporation Shares to be issued pursuant to the
conversion of the ICULS.
3.7 Listing and Quotation
An application will be made for the listing of and quotation for the ICULS and the new
BCorporation Shares to be issued pursuant to the conversion of the ICULS on Bursa
Malaysia Securities Berhad (“Bursa Securities”).
3.8 Utilisation of Proceeds
The maximum gross proceeds to be raised from the Proposed Rights Issue amount to
approximately RM614.5 million. The said proceeds are proposed to be utilised to finance
the Proposed Acquisition, working capital and to defray estimated expenses relating to
the Proposals. In the event the Proposed Acquisition is not implemented for whatsoever
reason, the amount allocated for the Proposed Acquisition will be utilised to repay
borrowings and/or for working capital purposes.
The details of the proposed utilisation of gross proceeds raised from the Proposed Rights
Issue are set out in Table 2 of this Announcement.
On the basis that both the Proposed Acquisition and Proposed Rights Issue are
implemented, it is proposed that the subscription monies due from TSVT and/or his
privately held companies in respect of their entitlements and/or excess applications made
by TSVT and/or his privately held companies pursuant to the Proposed Rights Issue be
set off against the cash consideration payable to TSVT for the Proposed Acquisition.
BERJAYA CORPORATION BERHAD
PROPOSALS
Page 8 of 15
4. RATIONALE FOR THE PROPOSALS
4.1 Proposed Acquisition
BCorporation, via its subsidiary Berjaya Sports Toto Berhad (“BToto”) is already an
established local industry leader in the numbers forecast operator (“NFO”) industry. The
Proposed Acquisition represents an opportunity for BCorporation to venture directly into
another segment of the gaming industry namely the sports betting market in Malaysia.
4.2 Proposed Rights Issue
The Proposed Rights Issue is undertaken to part finance the Proposed Acquisition and/or
for working capital requirements and/or repayment of bank borrowings of BCorporation
Group as detailed in Section 3.8 above.
The Board is of the opinion that raising funds by way of the Proposed Rights Issue is the
most suitable for the following reasons:-
(a) the issuance of ICULS minimises the immediate dilution effect on the earnings
per BCorporation Share (“EPS”), which would otherwise arise from a full equity
issue; and
(b) the ICULS will also provide shareholders of BCorporation with the option to
further participate in the equity of the Company from the conversion of the new
ICULS at attractive price whilst being able to enjoy interest payment of 8% per
annum in the new ICULS.
5. PROSPECTS OF THE PROPOSED ACQUISITION
5.1 Overview of the Malaysian Economy
The Malaysian economy registered a growth of 4.5% in the fourth quarter (3Q 09: -1.2%),
amid strengthened domestic demand and external demand. Sustained expansion in
private consumption and increased public sector spending contributed to higher domestic
demand. The implementation of the fiscal stimulus measures had gained further
momentum during the quarter, providing additional impetus to growth. Meanwhile,
Malaysia’s export performance benefited from improvements in external demand,
particularly from the regional economies as well as stronger commodity prices. On the
supply side, all economic sectors recorded improved performance. Overall, the economy
contracted by 1.7% in 2009 (2008: +4.6%).
Domestic demand grew by 3% in the fourth quarter (3Q 09:0.4%), due to both higher
private consumption and public sector spending. Meanwhile, private sector capital
spending activity remained weak although business sentiment has improved.
Private consumption expanded by 1.7% (3Q 09: 1.5%), supported by better conditions in
the labour market and a low level of inflation. Consumer spending was also encouraged
by various promotions held during the festive period and long school holidays in
December. Major consumption goods, credit card spending, bank lending to households
and sales of new passenger cars improved further, pointing to higher consumer
spending. In addition, consumer confidence also improved, as the MIER Consumer
Sentiments Index increased further to 109.6 points in the fourth quarter (3Q 09: 105.4
points).
BERJAYA CORPORATION BERHAD
PROPOSALS
Page 9 of 15
Meanwhile, public consumption expanded more moderately by 1.3%, supported by the
expenditure on emoluments as well as supplies and services.
Gross fixed capital formation registered a higher growth of 8.2% (3Q 09: -7.9%), due
mainly to the acceleration in public sector capital spending as implementation of fiscal
stimulus measures gained momentum. The bulk of the development expenditure
continued to be channelled into trade and industry, public utilities, education and
transportation sectors. Meanwhile, private sector capital spending remained weak but
showed some signs of stabilisation as reflected in major investment indicators. During the
quarter, there was notable improvement in indicators such as imports of capital goods,
sales of commercial vehicles, production of construction-related products and loans
disbursed to businesses. In addition, MIER Business Conditions Index increased further
to 118.8 points during the quarter (3Q 09: 113.7 points).
On the supply side, all economic sectors registered improved performance during the
quarter. Growth in the services sector was broad-based with almost all sub-sectors
registering higher growth rates, while the manufacturing sector recovered to register a
positive growth, reflecting the improvements in both external and domestic demand. The
construction sector continued to expand, supported mainly by further progress in the
implementation of projects under the fiscal stimulus packages. Growth in the agriculture
sector was positive due mainly to the higher production of industrial crops, while the
mining sector contracted at a slower rate during the quarter due to lower production of
crude oil.
(Source: Bank Negara Malaysia Quarterly Bulletin for the Fourth Quarter of 2009)
5.2 Prospects and Future Plans of Ascot
Presently, subject to relevant approvals being obtained, Ascot shall be the only legal
sports betting company in Malaysia. There is no other licensed sports betting
organisation in Malaysia. BCorporation believes that the high barriers to entry and low
competitive pressure would provide a highly stable business environment for Ascot to
sustain and grow its business.
Ascot should have the benefit of a first-mover advantage in setting up licensed sports
betting operations in Malaysia. Ascot with its past experiences stands in good stead to
establish a notable presence in the local gaming industry.
6. RISK FACTORS IN RELATION TO THE PROPOSED ACQUISITION
BCorporation via BToto is already involved in the gaming industry and is expected to be further
exposed to the associated inherent risks in the industry as a result of the Proposed Acquisition.
Such risks include changes in general economic conditions such as, but not limited to, inflation,
taxation, interest rates, fraud, changes in business and credit condition and other operational
risks which may occur during the course of business.
The Proposed Acquisition will also expose BCorporation to certain specific risks, inter-alia,
competition from the existing number forecast operators, risk of the sports betting licence not
being renewed as well as the risk of a prolonged gestation period to start-up the sports betting
business.
BERJAYA CORPORATION BERHAD
PROPOSALS
Page 10 of 15
7. FINANCIAL EFFECTS OF THE PROPOSALS
Minimum Scenario
Assuming that none of the Existing ICULS are converted into new BCorporation Shares prior to
the Entitlement Date and the Proposed Rights Issue will be subscribed based on the Minimum
Subscription Level.
Maximum Scenario
Assuming full conversion of the Existing ICULS (including those held by subsidiaries of
BCorporation are disposed in the open market) and disposal of all BCorporation Shares held in
treasury prior to the Entitlement Date.
7.1 Share Capital and Substantial Shareholders’ Shareholdings
As the Proposed Acquisition will be satisfied wholly in cash, it will not have any effect on
the issued and paid-up share capital and substantial shareholders’ shareholdings of
BCorporation.
The proforma effects of the Proposed Rights Issue on the issued and paid-up share
capital of BCorporation and the substantial shareholders’ shareholdings as at 3 May 2010
are set out in Table 3 and Table 4 respectively.
7.2 Net Assets (“NA”) and Gearing
Based on the audited consolidated balance sheets of BCorporation for the financial year
ended 30 April 2009, the proforma effects of the Proposals on the consolidated NA and
gearing of the BCorporation Group are set out in Table 5.
7.3 Earnings and EPS
The Proposed Acquisition is expected to contribute positively to the earnings of the
Group in future financial years based on TSVT’s profit guarantee of RM375.0 million for
the initial three (3) years ending 30 April 2013.
The Proposed Rights Issue is not expected to have any material effect on the earnings of
the BCorporation Group for the financial year ending 30 April 2011. However, over time
the Proposed Rights Issue is expected to contribute positively to the future earnings of
BCorporation Group arising from the proposed utilisation of the proceeds which may
include the Proposed Acquisition.
Subject to the level of return generated from the use of proceeds from the Proposed
Rights Issue, the EPS may correspondingly be impacted in future financial years upon
the conversion of ICULS into new BCorporation Shares.
In addition, the interest expense for the ICULS of 8% per annum representing
approximately RM32.0 million per annum under the Minimum Scenario or RM49.2 million
per annum under the Maximum Scenario will correspondingly lead to a decrease in the
earnings and EPS of BCorporation. However, shareholders should note that if the
Company were to resort to bank borrowings to fund the Proposed Acquisition, there will
also be interest cost to be paid.
BERJAYA CORPORATION BERHAD
PROPOSALS
Page 11 of 15
7.4 Dividend
The Board has not deliberated or proposed any other dividend payment for the financial
year ending 30 April 2011 save for the announcement on the proposed declaration and
payment of a special single-tier dividend of RM0.045 per BCorporation Share for the FYE
30 April 2011.
The Board does not expect the Proposals to have any impact on the dividend policy of
the BCorporation Group. The decision to declare and pay dividends in the future financial
years would depend on the financial performance, cashflow position and financing
requirements of the BCorporation Group.
7.5 Convertible Securities
Pursuant to the provisions of the trust deed for the Existing ICULS, no adjustment is
required to be made to the conversion price of the Existing ICULS.
8. APPROVALS REQUIRED
The Proposals are conditional upon approvals being obtained from the following:-
(a) Securities Commission (“SC”), for the issuance of the ICULS pursuant to the Proposed
Rights Issue;
(b) Bursa Securities, for the listing of and quotation for the ICULS to be issued and the new
BCorporation Shares to be issued upon conversion of the ICULS on Bursa Securities;
(c) shareholders of BCorporation at an EGM to be convened for the Proposals;
(d) The Minister of Finance for the re-issuance of the sports betting license and the changes
in shareholders and directors in Ascot, if required; and
(e) any other relevant authority (if required).
The Proposed Rights Issue is not conditional upon the Proposed Acquisition and vice versa.
The Proposals are not conditional upon any other proposals.
BERJAYA CORPORATION BERHAD
PROPOSALS
Page 12 of 15
9. DIRECTORS’ AND MAJOR SHAREHOLDERS’ INTERESTS
None of the Directors and/or major shareholders of BCorporation and persons connected to them
have any interest, either direct or indirect, in the Proposed Rights Issue beyond their respective
entitlements and their rights to subscribe for excess ICULS under the Proposed Rights Issue for
which all shareholders of BCorporation are entitled to.
Save as disclosed below, none of the other Directors and/or major shareholders of the Company
and/or persons connected to them have any interest, direct and/or indirect in the Proposed
Acquisition:-
9.1 Interested Major Shareholders
The following major shareholders are deemed to be interested in the Proposed
Acquisition by virtue of the following-
(a) TSVT being the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer and a major shareholder of the
Company is also a Director and substantial shareholder of Ascot. TSVT is also
the Vendor of the Proposed Acquisition.
(b) Hotel Resort Enterprise Sdn Bhd (“HRE”), a major shareholder of the Company,
is a company controlled by TSVT.
(collectively be referred to as “Interested Major Shareholders”).
As at 3 May 2010, the Interested Major Shareholders and their shareholdings in
BCorporation are as follows:-
<---------Direct---------> <---------Indirect-------->
No. of Shares (%) No. of Shares (%)
TSVT 888,265,000 22.10 1,022,718,021(a) 25.45
HRE 644,441,995 16.04 – -
Note:
(a) Deemed interested by virtue of his interests held through B & B Enterprise Sdn Bhd, HQZ
Credit Sdn Bhd, HRE, Nostalgia Kiara Sdn Bhd, Berjaya Assets Berhad (formerly known as
Matrix International Berhad), Berjaya Media Berhad, Superior Structure Sdn Bhd and his
deemed interests in Lengkap Bahagia Sdn Bhd, Nautilus Corporation Sdn Bhd, Desiran Unggul
Sdn Bhd, Sublime Cartel Sdn Bhd, Berjaya Times Square Sdn Bhd, Premier Mechandise Sdn
Bhd and Gemtech (M) Sdn Bhd pursuant to Section 6A of the Act.
BERJAYA CORPORATION BERHAD
PROPOSALS
Page 13 of 15
9.2 Interested Directors
The following Directors of BCorporation do not consider themselves independent in
respect of the Proposed Acquisition by virtue of the following:-
(a) TSVT being the Chairman/Chief Executive Officer and a major shareholder of the
Company is also a Director and substantial shareholder of Ascot. TSVT is also
the Vendor of the Proposed Acquisition;
(b) Dato’ Robin Tan Yeong Ching and Rayvin Tan Yeong Sheik, who are the
Executive Directors of the Company, are also Directors of Ascot. They are the
children of TSVT; and
(c) Tan Sri Dato’ Tan Chee Sing, the Deputy Chairman of BCorporation, is a brother
of TSVT.
(collectively be referred to as “Interested Directors”).
As at 3 May 2010, the shareholdings of the Interested Directors in BCorporation are as
follows:-
——– Direct —— ——-Indirect—–
No. Of
Shares
(%) No. Of Shares (%)
TSVT 888,265,000 22.10 1,022,718,021(a) 25.45
Tan Sri Dato’ Tan Chee Sing 57,752,691 1.44 17,750,000(b)
1,352,568(c)
0.44
0.03
Dato’ Robin Tan Yeong Ching 722,847 0.02 5,000(c) *
Rayvin Tan Yeong Sheik 316,000 0.01 – -
Notes:-
* Less than 0.01%
(a) Deemed interested by virtue of his interests held through B & B Enterprise Sdn Bhd, HQZ
Credit Sdn Bhd, HRE, Nostalgia Kiara Sdn Bhd, Berjaya Assets Berhad (formerly known as
Matrix International Berhad), Berjaya Media Berhad, Superior Structure Sdn Bhd and his
deemed interests in Lengkap Bahagia Sdn Bhd, Nautilus Corporation Sdn Bhd, Desiran Unggul
Sdn Bhd, Sublime Cartel Sdn Bhd, Berjaya Times Square Sdn Bhd, Premier Mechandise Sdn
Bhd, and Gemtech (M) Sdn Bhd pursuant to Section 6A of the Act.
(b) Deemed interested by virtue of his deemed interests held in Terbit Berkat Sdn Bhd
(c) Indirect interest held pursuant to section 134(12)(c) of the Act.
BERJAYA CORPORATION BERHAD
PROPOSALS
Page 14 of 15
The Interested Directors have abstained and will continue to abstain from deliberating and voting
at the relevant Board meetings of BCorporation in relation to the Proposed Acquisition.
The Interested Directors and Interested Major Shareholders will abstain from voting on the
resolution to approve the Proposed Acquisition in respect of their direct and/or indirect
shareholdings at the EGM to be convened. They will undertake to ensure that persons connected
to them will abstain from voting on the resolution to approve the Proposed Acquisition in respect
of their direct and/or indirect shareholdings in BCorporation at the EGM to be convened.
Save for the above, none of the other Directors and/or major shareholders of BCorporation or any
person connected with them have any interest, direct or indirect, in the Proposed Acquisition.
10. DIRECTORS’ STATEMENT
The Board (save for the Interested Directors), after having considered all aspects of the
Proposals (including but not limited to the rationale, financial effects and valuation) and the
fairness evaluation of the independent adviser, is of the opinion that the terms of the Proposed
Acquisition are fair, reasonable and on normal commercial terms and are not detrimental to the
interest of the minority shareholders. The Board (save for the Interested Directors) is also of the
opinion that the Proposals are in the best interest of the Company.
11. AUDIT COMMITTEE’S STATEMENT
The Audit Committee of the Company after having considered all aspects of the Proposed
Acquisition (including but not limited to the rationale, financial effects and valuation) and the
fairness evaluation of the independent adviser, is of the opinion that the terms of the Proposed
Acquisition is fair, reasonable and on normal commercial terms and are not detrimental to the
interest of the minority shareholders.
12. ADVISER
AmInvestment Bank has been appointed as Adviser to the Company for the Proposals.
13. RELATED PARTY TRANSACTION
In view of the interests of the Interested Major Shareholders and Interested Directors as set out in
Section 9 above, the Proposed Acquisition is deemed to be a related party transaction under
Chapter 10 of the Main Market Listing Requirements of Bursa Malaysia Securities Berhad
(“Listing Requirements”).
OSK Investment Bank Berhad has been appointed as the independent adviser by the Board to
advise the non-interested Directors and the non-interested shareholders of BCorporation on
whether the terms of the Proposed Acquisition are fair and reasonable and whether the
transaction is to the detriment of the non-interested shareholders of BCorporation.
BERJAYA CORPORATION BERHAD
PROPOSALS
Page 15 of 15
14. ESTIMATED TIMEFRAME FOR THE COMPLETION OF THE PROPOSALS
The Company intends to submit the Application to the SC within three (3) months from the date of
this Announcement. The Proposals are expected to be completed in the year 2010.
16. CIRCULAR TO SHAREHOLDERS
A circular to shareholders setting out the details of the Proposals will be despatched to
shareholders of the Company in due course.
17. OTHER INFORMATION
The highest percentage ratio applicable to the Proposed Acquisition as per Paragraph 10.02(g)
Chapter 10 of the Listing Requirements is the consideration compared with the NA of
BCorporation which amounts to approximately 10.24% based on the latest audited consolidated
financial statements of BCorporation for the FYE 30 April 2009.
The Company has not transacted (not being a transaction within the ordinary course of business)
with Ascot for the preceding twelve (12) months from the date of this Announcement.
18. DEPARTURE FROM THE EQUITY GUIDELINES OF SECURITIES COMMISSION (“SC
GUIDELINES”)
To the best of the knowledge of the Board, the Proposed Acquisition does not depart from the SC
Guidelines. The Proposed Acquisition does not require the approval of the SC.
19. DOCUMENTS FOR INSPECTION
The SPA will be made available for inspection at the Registered Office of the Company at Lot 13-
01A, Level 13 (East Wing), Berjaya Times Square, No.1, Jalan Imbi, 55100 Kuala Lumpur from
Mondays to Fridays (except public holidays) for a period of three (3) months from the date of this
Announcement.
This Announcement is dated 12 May 2010.

Indian Poor: Simple WHY…? Prime Minister Sir

For the past several weeks we are seeing helpless, but brilliant and innocent students Who achieved outstanding results in their 2009 SPM examinations. Unfortunately they were not running to us with cheers and joy on their faces reflecting the victory of their challenging 11 years of non stop educational war. But they came with tears in eyes and disappointment on their faces, totally demoralized as their dreams and ambitions shattered into millions of pieces. These young achievers who have yet to step into their adulthood looked into our eyes and asked “why….?”
These students have answered thousands of tough and tricky questions before they achieved 7,8,9,10,11,12 and 13 As in their SPM examinations at the age of 17 . And now they are asking a simple question “why….?” ,we could not find any logical answers available within our capability and capacity. The only person can answer for this simple “why…?” is non other than the mighty Prime Minister Of Malaysia !
Therefore we are posting their questions to you Mr. Prime Minister sir !
The Malaysian government has made it mandatory for parents to send their children to standard one at the age of 7. From there onwards a child will go through 11 years of free education in public schools funded by the government (does all these schools are equally funded is another big topic, so I will reserve it for another day). The intention of the government to do this must be for a noble cause which one can never have a second opinion. Needles to say such an educational policy beside cultivating educated society is also to identify the future generation who would lead this country in various sectors such as administration , health , finance , education , science , technology , research and so on.
Now ,Prime Minister sir the questions are ,
1.what is the purpose of your administration spending millions of dollars in free education if the best of the best students with extraordinary results have got no way to continue their higher education?
2. You have the structures and facilities such as Scholarships , Matriculation courses and Public Universities. You too have the qualified students ! why then you are denying their rights to pursue their studies in the field they wish to ? Why on earth a democratic government which propagates equal rights for every citizen without any biasness would deny the future generation’s higher educational rights?
You may say sir , “no …they can proceed to form six , sit for STPM examinations and still win a chance to local universities” .
But you see sir the point is , the poor kids are asking ;
3.“ why is that my fellow friend who was sitting beside me only scored 2 As and Ds for rest of subjects was given a choice to make between a PSD scholarship , Matriculation courses and a place in Public University , whereas me, with a better results was not given any of those three choices ?” A person who believes in fair and justice must be able to answer this question. Would you Prime Minister Sir?
In any country the best will be given the opportunity, be it education or anything else. But here the best students are denied .The students and parents just wish to know how else to get qualified that your administration will give them the opportunity to make their dreams come true. One of the student with flying colors and represented the state in sports , has this question;
4.“they ( Your administrators Prime Minister sir ) said academic qualifications alone will not secure my future , I must also be active in co curricular activities . Accepting the challenge I was managed to balance my time and affords in both academic and extra curricular activities. I scored 10As and I am a state hockey player , HOW ELSE I’M SUPPOSED TO QUALIFY MYSELF ?? You answer her Prime Minister Sir!
There was another group of straight A students who just returned from their “Kem Latihan khidmat Negara” looked puzzled and confused.
“We were made to scream and chant “1 Malaysia” in every single activity. We were made to believe it is indeed a “1 Malaysia“ in front of us. But when we came to know all our applications to UPU , Matriculation and JPA scholarships were turned down we are totally lost. This was not the “1 Malaysia “ we were taught !!
They were also suggesting Prime Minister sir , to stop wasting the money spend on “Kem Latihan Khidmat Negara” and channel the funds to provide them scholarships. They belief “1 Malaysia” cannot be forced into anyone rather it must bloom within .
We have a long list of questions but knowing your busy schedule we are stopping here for now.
Prime Minister Sir , these children are from poor and lower middle class families. The parents sacrificed a lot and worked hard day and night just to secure a bright future for their children. The students too never had any short cuts to achieve these beautiful results. These teenagers are slowly regenerating themselves as the future pillars of their beloved country Malaysia. They are willing to take Malaysia to the highest level possible.
Do not betray them just because they are Indians as it was not their choice to be one !!!

W.Sambulingam
HINDRAF & HRP
National Coordinator

Apartheid system in the Malaysian image.


There is a terrible and fundamental flaw in the working of the Malaysian system. The majority garners and keeps to themselves all the resources of the nation and deny the minority all access to the resources of the nation..
The Indians are citizens of Malaysia. The Indians are not going anywhere. This is their home. This where they live and die.They must have the same rights as anybody else in this country.

It is time that THE UMNO government recognises this basic fact and abandons their anachronistic position of Indigeneous Malays and migrant Indians.
If they do not and continue in this manner, this leads to just one conclusion - the consolidation of an Apartheid system in the Malaysian image.

What is happening in Malaysia is exactly how it worked under the Whites in Apartheid South Africa, except that the Whites were the Tuans there. Morally the situation is the same.

Watch the video and see how gross the situation is.

'Ghost' of Altantuya stuns Hishammuddin

By FMT Staff

KUALA LUMPUR: An opposition MP left Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein momentarily stunned when he asked him how travel records of murdered Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu was erased from the Immigration Department records in 2006.

According to Gombak MP Azmin Ali, the situation was even more tensed because with Hishammuddin in Parliament yesterday was his cousin Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, who has been reportedly linked to the model’s death.

“It was obvious that my question caught him off-guard. But he [Hishammuddin] is rarely present in Parliament and I was curious as to how Immigration Department ran its operations,” he told FMT team yesterday.

Azmin said he had first asked Hishammuddin to explain the Immigration Department’s role and responsibilities in monitoring the movement of foreigners into and out of the country.

“I asked Hishammuddin about how Immigration monitored the movements of foreigners in the country.

“Hishammuddin said the department was responsible for monitoring movements based on possible security and national threats.

“Based on his answer, it is obvious that the department had a database to ensure all information regarding foreigners are kept safely allowing for easy reference and action, if and when necessary,” he said.

Bearing this in mind, Azmin then shot Hishammuddin with this question: “Does the Immigration Department’s scope of authority include erasing or losing travel records of foreign nationals such as Altantuya?

“If her records were erased, then who was responsible and what actions have been taken by the government so that a repeat will not occur?” he asked.

'Hishammuddin fumbled'

Azmin said Hishammuddin had fumbled with the answer and kept making contradictory statements.

“I am disappointed with Hishammuddin’s reply. He fumbled and kept looking at Najib for a signal.

“Why did he need to wait for a signal from Najib? And what is Najib’s link to the issue?

“Isn’t this the responsibility of the Immigration Department under the Home Ministry?” he asked.

Azmin said the Home Ministry had failed to provide him with answers as to how the entry and exit records of the Mongolian national were erased.

“The ministry’s reluctance has only created more questions as to what actually happened. We need answers from the ministry.

“We all know Altantuya was present in Malaysia but her travel records to Malaysia have been erased. The ministry must be brave enough to face the situation,” Azmin said, adding that the act of erasing travel records of foreign nationals was a big crime and must be viewed seriously.

Dr M: Opposition wants a bankrupt nation

By FMT Staff

KUALA LUMPUR: Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad believes that the opposition is against the government's move to cut subsidies because it wants the country to go bankrupt.

If this happens, he said, the Barisan Nasional would be defeated in the general election.

However, the 84-year-old statesman added a note of caution. “You may defeat the government but if you inherit a bankrupt country, you will not be able to turn around the country either.”

Mahathir was responding to the criticism concerning Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Idris Jala's statement that Malaysia could go bankrupt if the government continues with the high subsidies for various items.

“Everybody must have read about the fate of Greece whose borrowings exceeded its GDP. The European Union had to bail out Greece to the tune of 300 billion euro [RM1.2 trillion] to prevent it from going bankrupt and pulling down the European Union with it.

“Already the euro has depreciated substantially and many are predicting the demise of this European common currency. The European economy, once powerful and rich, faces the possibility of a recession, simply because of the bankruptcy of one of its members,” he said in his blog.

Borrowing money is not the answer

Mahathir also pointed out that Idris was not predicting bankruptcy anytime soon, as the latter had said if the debt goes up by 12% per annum, Malaysia would be bankrupt by 2019 when its debt equals its GDP.

“What Idris is saying is that if we continue with the present level of subsidy [already reaching RM74 billion per annum] and we cannot pay our debts, we will certainly not be able to arrest the slide.

“To pay our debts we must cut back on spending, A big item is the subsidies for food, fuel and power, health, education and tolls,” he said.

However, Mahathir believes the government will not cut subsidy, “or at least not much”, on food, health and education but the subsidies for fuel and power and toll payments should be gradually reduced.

“When I was prime minister, the price for one barrel of oil was only US$30. The subsidy was not too big. It is now US$80. To keep the same price would mean to increase the amount of subsidy to make up the difference.

“Similarly when the government agreed not to increase toll rates it has to reimburse the losses sustained by the operators. This cost a lot of money,” he said.

“Borrowing money to pay for the increasing cost of subsidy is not the answer. A good government must ensure that servicing loans is sustainable,” he added.

Roman gladiator cemetery found in England

The project was led by Kurt Hunter-Mann (right) from York Archaeological Trust.
The project was led by Kurt Hunter-Mann (right) from York Archaeological TrustLondon, England (CNN) -- Heads hacked off, a bite from a lion, tiger or bear, massive muscles on massive men -- all clues that an ancient cemetery uncovered in northern England is the final resting place of gladiators, scientists have announced after seven years of investigations.

The archeological dig has found "what may be the world's only well-preserved Roman gladiator cemetery," the York Archaeological Trust said.

Scientists have found 80 skeletons in the "unique" cemetery under the city of York, northern England, since 2003.

They announced their discoveries on Sunday, ahead of a documentary about the site due to air in Britain on June 14. This was one of two big archaeological developments, with Israeli scientists announcing the discovery of a huge cache of ancient religious objects.

They first thought the graveyard might contain the remains of criminals or political purges.

But that doesn't explain the teeth mark.

"One of the most significant items of evidence is a large carnivore bite mark - probably inflicted by a lion, tiger or bear -- an injury which must have been sustained in an arena context, " said Kurt Hunter-Mann, the lead archeologist on the dig.

"Nothing like them has ever been identified before on a Roman skeleton," said Michael Wysocki, who examined the remains in the forensic anthropology laboratory at the University of Central Lancashire.

He said the bite marks suggest the remains were of someone who fought as a gladiator.

"It would seem highly unlikely that this individual was attacked by a tiger as he was walking home from the pub in York 2,000 years ago," he said.

One arm was bigger than the other in many remains, the scientists found -- a suggestion that the men were gladiators who trained from a young age with a weapon in one hand.

Other clues include healed and unhealed weapon injuries, possible hammer blows to the head, and burial with "grave goods" such joints of meat or pottery -- a sign of respect.

It's not certain that the men were gladiators, Hunter-Mann cautioned.

"The research is continuing and we must, therefore, keep an open mind," the archeologist said.

But "almost all the individuals are male, very robust and mostly above average height -- features which would also be consistent with a gladiator interpretation. Many also have muscle attachment marks on their arm bones suggesting severe muscle stress," he said.

They also appear to come from all over the Roman empire, which straddled the Mediterranean for hundreds of years, starting more than 2,000 years ago.

"These are internationally important discoveries. We don't have any other potential gladiator cemeteries with this level of preservation anywhere else in the world," Wysocki said.

The skeletons are between 1,600 and 1,900 years old.

The most impressive grave was that of a tall man aged between 18 and 23, buried, probably in a coffin, in a large oval grave about 1,700 years ago. He had been decapitated by several sword blows to the neck, the scientists said.

Buried with him were what appear to have been the remains of substantial joints of meat from at least four horses -- that left behind 424 horse bones -- possibly consumed at the funeral, plus some cow and pig remains.

Other graves also had joints of horse, sheep or chicken, possibly remains of funeral feasts, the archeologists speculated.

The site was first discovered when archeologists probed an area scheduled for a housing development in 2003.

Also on Monday, Israeli archeologists announced the discovery of a huge cache of religious objects about 3,500 years old -- older than the Bible itself, and nearly twice the age of the Roman skeletons.

"It would appear that the vessels were used in a pagan cult that worshipped idols. During this period it was customary that each city had a temple of its own where special cultic vessels were used," said archaeologists Uzi Ad and Edwin van den Brink.

They include a vessel that was used for burning incense, a sculpted face of a woman that was part of a cultic cup used in dedicating a libation to a god, goblets and bowls with high bases and tableware that was intended for eating and drinking, the Israel Antiquities Authority said.

Scientists called the discovery "extremely rare" -- both because it is so old and because the objects are so well preserved.

Some of them had been brought from Mycenae in Greece, including a storage vessel for precious oils -- evidence of the ancient trade relations that existed with Greece, they said.

ISA review done, over to AG

The Home Ministry hopes to table amendments to six repressive acts including the Internal Security Act 1960 (ISA) and Emergency Ordinance during the current sitting of the Dewan Rakyat.

Deputy Home Ministry Abu Seman Yusop told a press conference this morning that the documents have been sent to the attorney-general's department for approval.

He also said the ISA with be streamlined with current circumstances. Amendments have been made to five key areas:
  • Ministerial powers
  • Duration of detention
  • Police power
  • Rights and treatment of detainees
  • Abolition of several sections

DAP wants Najib cited over Ascot deal

KUALA LUMPUR, June 8 — The DAP demanded today that Finance Minister and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak be referred to the Rights and Privileges Committee for allegedly misleading Parliament over a sports betting licence purportedly issued to a company controlled by tycoon Tan Sri Vincent Tan.

Its Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua claimed that the Finance Ministry had misled Parliament when in its written reply to a question it denied awarding a sports betting licence to Tan’s Ascot Sports Sdn Bhd.

Pua pointed out that Berjaya Corporation, a public-listed company controlled by Tan, had confirmed that the Finance Minister has awarded the license to Ascot in a filing last month to Bursa Malaysia about its acquisition of Ascot Sports Sdn Bhd.

“The Minister of Finance has given its approval for the re-issuance to Ascot of the license to carry out sports betting operations upon certain terms and conditions,” Berjaya Corporation said in its filing.

Pua said that the Ministry of Finance reply was in direct contradiction to Berjaya’s filing.

“This is in direct contradiction to what the finance minister had announced yesterday. It is a clear and direct contradiction. One of the terms announced by the Finance Minister yesterday was that public feedback was required.

“If public feedback was required I think Berjaya Group would have put that necessary announcement. However, they made no reference to that,” he said.

He also urged Najib to clarify the status of the betting license.

“We want the Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib to clarify and state clearly if they have actually issued an approval and what are the conditions. The conditions could not have included public feedback.

“If he has then it is a serious breach of parliamentary privileges and I think there is no reason why he should not be referred to the Rights and Privileges Committee for this particular error,” he said.

It was reported last month that the government had re-issued the licence to Tan’s Ascot Sports after the original licence was cancelled by the previous administration of Tun Abdullah Badawi. The tycoon’s son — Datuk Robin Tan Yeong Ching — will retain his 30 per cent stake in Ascot Sports after a 70 per cent is sold to Berjaya Corporation.

Tan had first obtained the licence in 1987 but had “asked the government to take it back” when the venture was unsuccessful. But he retained the right of first refusal if the government decided to re-issue the licence.

Berjaya Corp, a gaming, property and hospitality group, told Bursa Malaysia on May 12 that it plans to purchase a controlling stake in Ascot Sports, which has been re-issued a conditional sports betting licence by the Finance Ministry.

It said Tan has also agreed to guarantee that the company will make a cumulative net profit of at least RM375 million for the first three years of operation and had backed it by offering to deposit RM81.25 million worth of listed securities while Berjaya Corp will withhold RM125 million cash from the total purchase price.

Berjaya Corp said it will finance the initial consideration of RM400 million by undertaking a renounceable rights issue of up to RM614.46 million nominal value of 10-year eight per cent irredeemable convertible unsecured loan stocks (Iculs), done on the basis of one RM1 nominal value of Iculs for every eight Berjaya Corp shares owned.

It added that Tan has undertaken to subscribe to his private companies’ entitlements in full, which would amount to at least RM400 million.

Ascot Sports, which is currently a dormant company, recorded net liabilities and net loss of RM11.2 million and RM4.6 million respectively for the financial year ended December 31, 2008.

Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Dr Awang Adek Hussein told reporters on May 6 that the government was considering issuing the licence to curb illegal gambling.

Pua said that the confusion over the license would affect investor confidence.

“On the 12 of May when the announcement was made, Berjaya Corporation shares traded at its highest volume for the year. It traded at 44,680,000 shares. Highest for the year and that day the shares hit a high of RM1.72. Today after the Finance Minister’s announcement, the price is RM1.39. It has dropped by 19 per cent, who will bear the cost?” he asked.

Rasah MP Anthony Loke questioned why the government has chosen to remain silent.

“Why is there not a single official from the finance ministry to come out and deny that the license had not been given. The impression given to the whole world is that the license has been given and this has confused the members of the public especially the investor community.

“If the license has not been given, why is the prime minister so afraid in denying it? He has not once answered over this issue and remains mum on this issue.”

Anwar takes on discipline committee over Apco

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid
FMT ALERT KUALA LUMPUR: PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim faces the prospect of suspension as he faces the Rights and Privileges Committee today.
The Opposition Leader is facing the parliamentary disciplinary committee over his accusation in the Dewan Rakyat that public relations outfit APCO Worlwide is linked to Israel.
He is represented by prominent lawyer and former Bar Council president Ambiga Sreenevasan, and was flanked by other Pakatan Rakyat leaders as he walked to the "trial" room.
Anwar had requested yesterday for a public hearing and not the usual closed-door proceeding.

PAS to chart new course to win over non-Muslims

By Zainal Epi - Free Malaysia Today,

KUALA LUMPUR: PAS is expected to chart a new course that will see the party open its doors to non-Muslims as it gears itself up to face the challenges ahead.
It will propose guidelines on how the non-Muslims could contribute and strengthen the party base without compromising its Islamic principles.
This is one of the issues that will be highlighted when the party's high command meets for a three-day assembly beginning this Friday.
PAS president Hadi Awang mooted the idea of setting up the Dewan Penyokong Bukan Islam (non-Muslims support wing) last month, with the aim of roping in the non-Muslims. This move, considered crucial for the next general election, is expected to take centre-stage at the assembly.
Numbers game
Delegates are expected to stress the importance of having such a wing to give the party a wider support base, given that Malay support has declined.
PAS leaders and members had admitted that despite the good showing in the 2008 general election, the party was said to have received only 35% of the Malay electorate.
Delegates are also expected to emphasise the point that DAP is the strongest party in Pakatan Rakyat, capturing about 65% of the Chinese votes.
Given such a background, delegates are expected to debate on how best the party could accommodate the non-Muslim supporters so that they could add up to the numbers game that could make the party a formidable force in Pakatan.
The party had succeeded in bagging the non-Muslim vote bank in the 2008 general election, but it has never decided on how far the non-Muslims could be accepted in the 45-year-old Islamic-based party.
Nevertheless, PAS has been making attempts to change its dour image to make it more appealing to the non-Muslims. For example, it has been playing down its Islamic state dream to allay the fears of the non-Muslims.
PAS-ruled states such as Kelantan and Kedah have also proven to the non-Muslims that the party, despite its religious outlook, is open to adopting the lifestyle of the non-Muslims.
Party discipline
PAS’ attempts to win over the non-Muslims could be traced back to the 1980s when it set up a Chinese Consultative Council (CCC).
At that time, the party wanted the non-Muslims to merely understand its struggles and objectives without shedding its clerical aura.
Besides, the stern appearance of its leaders with their skull caps, long beard and green robes didn't help their cause – the non-Muslims shunned the party.
Meanwhile, the CCC simply disappeared from the radar screen.
But things began to brighten up when PAS joined the loose alliance of Pakatan and went to battle in 2008. That historic event saw a large swing of non-Muslim voters to PAS.
Thus, delegates to the upcoming PAS assembly will want to reinforce the party by making it easier for more non-Muslims to join its ranks.
The delegates are also expected to debate on party discipline in view of the defections of several PKR elected representatives. So far, no PAS MPs or assemblmen had hopped over to the Barisan Nasional camp and the party wants to ensure this disciplined rank is not broken.
On economy, the delegates are unlikely to dwell much on it as the party has yet to come out with a viable Islamic economic plan to counter the current economic system of the ruling BN.

New political alliance declares itself in Parliament

(The Malay Mail) KUALA LUMPUR: There’s a new political alliance in the country. In an unprecedented move, five independent Members of Parliament announced in Parliament today the formation of "Konsensus Bebas" as the new official platform for united independent MPs.
The five MPs, formerly of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) — Datuk Seri Zahrain Mohd Hashim (Bayan Baru), Tan Tee Beng (Nibong Tebal) Mohsin Fadzli Samsuri (Bagan Serai), Zulkifli Nordin (Kulim- Bandar Baru) and Wee Choo Keong (Wangsa Maju) — have vowed to play an effective role as MPs through the new alliance.
"We believe the formation of Konsensus Bebas is the best solution for us as MPs to present issues of national and public interest. We want to offer an effective voice for the rakyat in Parliament through Konsensus Bebas," Wee said.
He said they would support the government and opposition conditionally during their course of work.
Wee said political parties have failed the rakyat and in reformation as manifested by the 2008 General Elections. Konsensus Bebas will strive to restore the rakyat's hope and conviction for reformation.
Wee described the political landscape in the country as changed and is matured enough to accept a new dimension in the democratic process.
"We intend to present ideas and policies for the rakyat based on the true spirit of reformation. Political parties always work based on party agenda and inter-party conflicts for power and position, aggravating the 'brown-nursing culture'.
"Konsensus Bebas is all about the  rakyat. We are working for them and the country," said Wee, adding that Konsesus Bebas will act without any political self-interest but solely for the interests of the rakyat and nation.

WHO ARE THE MPs?

• Mohsin Fadzli Samsuri, Bagan Serai MP, 65

Mohsin is currently the MP for the Bagan Serai constituency in Perak. He was elected to Parliament in 2008. Mohsin, representing PKR, beat former Deputy Defence Minister Datuk Zainal Abidin Zin by 3,413 votes.
Mohsin was appointed on the ticket of PKR but quit the party in March this year to sit as an independent, saying he felt "betrayed and sabotaged". His resignation from PKR followed the resignations of fellow PKR MPs Zahrain Mohamed Hashim and Tan Tee Beng.
Date left PKR: March 3, 2010

• Tan Tee Beng, Nibong Tebal MP, 38

Tan Tee Beng is a Malaysian politician and is currently the MP for the Nibong Tebal constituency in Penang. He holds the seat as an independent. Tee Beng was elected to Parliament in 2008 for the PKR party, unseating Zainal Abidin Osman, a government minister.
Three months ago, Tee Beng announced he was leaving PKR to sit as an independent MP.
His resignation from PKR followed the instigation of disciplinary action against him by the party after he criticised Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng. Tee Beng's father, Datuk Tan Gim Hwa, was a founding member of the Gerakan party (part of the Barisan Nasional coalition), and Tee Beng himself is a former official in Gerakan's youth wing.
Before entering politics, Tee Beng was a stockbroker and lawyer. He obtained a Bachelor of Laws from Middlesex University, England.
Date left PKR: March 1, 2010

• Wee Choo Keong, Wangsa Maju MP, 57

Wee Choo Keong was elected MP for Wangsa Maju in 2008. Before the election that year, while still a member of the Malaysian Democratic Party (MDP), he was invited to join PKR and contest the Wangsa Maju constituency which he later won with a slim majority of 150 votes.
In May this year, Wee left PKR to sit in Parliament as an independent, citing disappointment with the PKR-led Selangor State government's handling of the Dengkil sand-mining scandal which he described as "little Napoleons and trendy leftists" taking control of the party. His active political career spans over 20 years, 16 of which was spent in Bukit Bintang and four in Klang. He was a two-term MP for Bukit Bintang until he was disqualified by the Election Judge, Tun Ahmad Fairuz (who was implicated in the VK Lingam video clip scandal), on Aug 2, 1995.
Date left PKR: May 14, 2010

• Datuk Seri Zahrain Mohd Hashim, Bayan Baru MP, 55

Datuk Seri Zahrain Mohd Hashim was elected to Parliament in 2008 and has since held the independent seat for the Bayan Baru constituency in Penang.
Representing PKR, Zahrain beat MCA's Ooi Siew Kim by a staggering 11,029 votes.
As chairman of Keadilan's Penang division, Zahrain has been criticised by his Pakatan Rakyat coalition partner, the Democratic Action Party, for speaking out against Lim Guan Eng.
In January this year, he called Lim a "dictator, chauvinist and communist-minded", citing what Zahrain saw as a failure by Lim to deliver on his election promises. Upon his resignation, Zahrain was quoted saying: "There must be a balance between the people’s interests and my interests". Zahrain is also President of the Football Association of Penang.
Date left PKR: Feb 12, 2010

•  Zulkifli Noordin, Kulim-Bandar Baru MP, 42

Zulkifli Noordin is currently the MP for Kulim-Bandar Baru, Kedah, and also a lawyer, Syarie lawyer and solicitor. He joined PKR in 2008. The PKR advisory board had sacked Zulkifli for not accepting multiracial cultures. His incendiary comments include saying there was an existence of "firaun kecil" (small pharoahs) in PKR and "badut hingusan" in Pas.
Date left PKR: March 6, 2010
-The Malay Mail-

Wrong bet for social wellbeing

By Stanley Koh - Free Malaysia Today
COMMENT In a country where ruling politicians have lost their sense of right and wrong and are kept in that state of numbness by the sweet talk of eager businessmen, the moral compass must be passed back to the people.
Prof Perry Link, a specialist in Asian Studies at Princeton University who has researched extensively on 20th century Chinese literature, was right when he remarked that “the only widespread public values today are the making of money and a relatively superficial version of nationalism.”
One gets the impression that the government sees no contradiction between its hype about nurturing a morally upright nation and its temptation to re-issue a sports betting licence and thus officially promote the gambling habit. Even more mind-boggling is the apparent belief that the moral question is irrelevant because the target market is non-Muslim.
The truth is that there are compulsive gamblers in all communities.
If the government thinks that those opposing the move do so merely because they are against political patronage and the enrichment of cronies, then it is truly clueless about what the public is thinking and it deserves the boot at the next general election.
Most opponents of legalised gambling are concerned about its effect on family welfare. They are not impressed by efforts to justify the move, not even by the attempt to sanitize the vice by the promise of a RM525 million boost to charity.
Berjaya CEO Vincent Tan has revealed that he voluntarily returned his gaming licence in 1990 but successfully negotiated for the company to be given the first right of refusal should the licence be re-issued. According to him, it was re-issued in 2003.
Many now think Dr Mahathir Mohammad’s administration was unwise when it first issued the betting licence to Ascort Sports in 1987.
Tan has publicly rubbished the “wild and unsubstantiated allegations” about political patronage. Whether or not he is right, the question is secondary to the issue of gambling as an evil.
Even the devil will cooperate
First, it is not true that only non-Malays gamble. In 2006, Bernama reported that Malays spent RM1 billion a year on intoxicants and RM3 billion in gambling activities.
Second, it is a weak and naive argument to say that legalising sports betting would curb the activities of illegal bookies and Ah Longs.
Third, previous licensing of horseracing, lotteries, casino gaming and number forecasting benefitted only a small pool of bonanza winners while the large majority of losers were hard-pressed to shake off their addiction.
It is common knowledge that Ah Longs continue to lend at their cutthroat rates, even to gamblers staking their borrowed money in government-approved betting outlets.
Being charitable with money sucked away from hapless gambling addicts cannot obliterate the emotional and even physical harm inflicted on individuals or justify the social costs to the nation as a whole.
It is as unconvincing today as it has always been to say that legalised gambling will curb illegal operators. Malaysians are not so gullible as to believe such flimsy arguments, whether they come from private individuals or government officials.
Handouts from gambling operations in the name of “charity” cannot and should not be allowed to blur the line between right and wrong, between the moral and the immoral, between virtue and vice.
According to an old Chinese saying, “if you have money, you can make the devil push your grindstone.”
Warning signs needed
In 1997, Malaysia ranked second worldwide in terms of lottery sales as percentage of Gross Domestic Product (2.81%). Between 1991 and 2003, the Malaysian legalised gambling industry grew more than 121 percent from RM1.4 billion to RM3.1 billion.
Blinded perhaps by the dazzle of money, the government does not seem bothered to quantify the social problems directly linked to gambling addiction—debts to loan sharks, embezzlement, bankruptcies, incarceration, family breakdowns, suicides, alcohol abuse, health and mental problems, domestic violence, etc.
Do all these problems add to medical and health care costs? Maybe the Health Minister should do a comparative study to find out which exacts more from government coffers: compulsive gambling or smoking addiction.
There is an interesting paper entitled “Demand for Vices in Malaysia: All Ethnic Comparisons using Household Expenditure Data (2005-2006),” which is the result of a study by Andrew Tan, Steven Yen and Nayga Rodolfom Jr.
“The survey findings on gambling indicated that non-Muslim households in Malaysia who are likely to gamble include affluent male-headed Chinese households and younger and non-white collar households,” it says.
“High risk groups are those less educated, blue collar workers and the male gender.”
The paper recommends legislation that would require gambling operators to put up warning signs on the dangers and risks of pathological or compulsive gambling.
It suggests that the relevant authorities conduct public awareness campaigns to highlight the social consequences of gambling. It also calls on education authorities to educate children against gambling.
Perhaps the government should insist that gambling operators put up displays that explain to their customers the odds of winning, how the games work and the dangers of compulsive buying.
Worst of the four vices
We have a government more interested in pressuring smokers to give up cigarettes than in providing counselling services for problem gamblers who in fact are causing more harm to society.
A coffee shop owner asked, “Have you seen any publicity propaganda by the government against gambling?
“Why is the government paying so much attention to the anti-smoking campaign when gambling is definitely a worse evil?”
In classical Chinese literature, gambling (du) is considered the worst evil among four vices, the other three being gluttony, drinking and whoring (chi, he and piao). Nowhere is smoking considered an immoral behaviour, that is, until the manufacture of opium.
Today, while there is a lot of bad press about smoking, the health hazards and other negative effects of gambling are officially ignored.
Yet, it is a reality that compulsive gambling does lead to more seriously immoral behaviour, including bribery, embezzlement and fraud. This was one of the favourite themes of 18th century Chinese writers.
I asked a social worker who happens to be an occasional gambler to compare the two evils of smoking and gambling.
“I have not come across a person who has committed suicide because he smoked or borrowed from a loan shark to buy cigarettes or beat up his wife because of his tobacco addiction,” he said.
The bottom line is that the BN government long ago lost the notion of what is morally right or wrong.
Stanley Koh is a Free Malaysia Today contributor

A non-Malay PM: How possible?

By Deborah Loh | The Nut Graph,

IN envisioning federal power, one of the Pakatan Rakyat (PR)’s trickiest points is where to place the DAP (read, a Chinese Malaysian) in the executive line up. As prime minister? God forbid, not in this Malay-Muslim majority country. As deputy prime minister? But what about PAS?
Recently, PR parliamentary leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said it was okay for a Chinese Malaysian to be a deputy prime minister (DPM). It could mean creating two deputy posts, as is now the case in DAP-ruled Penang. Anwar’s original statement was only reported in a local Chinese-language newspaper. Other media did not repeat it until PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang was asked for a reaction. He said he didn’t know of any such plan within the PR. DAP chairperson Karpal Singh, meanwhile, said a Chinese Malaysian DPM shouldn’t be a problem, since the PR parties have already agreed that a Malay-Muslim would be prime minister.
The need for a Malay-Muslim Malaysian prime minister has become the default position, even among the opposition. Yet there is nothing in the Federal Constitution to state that Malaysia’s prime minister must be of Malay origin. So if convention isn’t cast in stone, is Malaysia ready for this change?
Not numbers alone
Lim Guan Eng
Lim
Going by numbers, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng should now be the parliamentary opposition leader. It’s the DAP, and not PKR, which has the higher number of parliamentary seats in the opposition alliance. The DAP has 29 seats and PKR 24. PAS has 23. But the DAP is happy to let Anwar remain as opposition leader. Evidently, politics isn’t always about the numbers.
In India, Sonia Gandhi was on track to becoming prime minster after her Congress Party won in the 2004 general election. But she nominated Manmohan Singh instead, who became the first Sikh to hold the post. Lebanon, meanwhile, is the only confessional democracy in the world where positions are filled based on religious belief. Thus, the president must be a Catholic Christian, the prime minister a Sunni Muslim, and the Speaker of the House a Shia Muslim.
Similar to India, Malaysia inherited a parliamentary democracy from the British where the constitution stipulates that whoever has the majority support of the House is qualified to be prime minister. Article 43(2)(a) states that the Agong shall appoint as PM a Member of Parliament who has the House’s majority support.
Beyond that, however, Malaysia under the Barisan Nasional (BN) has its own formula. Yes, the BN fulfils the constitutional requirements of the prime minister being an elected member of the Dewan Rakyat, and who commands the majority support in the House. But the BN has also created its own conventions as to race and religious “requirements” for a prime minister. These are political norms, rather than rules, which have become instituted by practice. Over time, Islam and being Malay Malaysian have been conflated into the requisite identity of a prime minister until it’s taken by some as a given.
Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, as ultra a Malay as he may be, was not wrong when he said in 2000 that a non-Malay Malaysian could become prime minister. Indeed, he was constitutionally correct.
“Confluence of factors”
So what’s stopping opposition parties from thinking differently? For all the multi-ethnicity they champion in policies, why do their politics end up mirroring the BN’s?
Liew
With regards to Anwar’s candidacy for prime minister, the DAP’s Liew Chin Tong says this was “never a matter for debate” among the PR parties because there was “no other choice”. Anwar, he said, was the most qualified person from among the three parties given his past federal experience, wide networks and public persona.
“For the DAP, it wasn’t that he is Malay [Malaysian], but because he is the most acceptable to all. Politics is not mathematics but a confluence of factors, and Anwar fits these factors,” Liew, the Bukit Bendera Member of Parliament, says in a phone interview.
Political analyst and The Nut Graph columnist Wong Chin Huat concurs on Anwar’s acceptability to most people, albeit from the position of PKR being the most centrist of the three parties.
Wong believes that while the DAP and PAS would each prefer their own party leaders as first choice to lead the PR, “they know their leaders will unlikely be accepted by other parties and the public because of their ‘flank’ positions”.
“It’s about the relative positioning of each of the three parties. PKR is the most multiracial, so as far as such values are concerned, Anwar is in the end the common denominator,” Wong says in a phone interview.
The electorate’s vote
However, it’s hard to ascertain just how much support Anwar has based on Wong’s reasoning, and how much support is still based on the default thinking that the prime minister must be Malay-Muslim.
Obama (Public domain | Wiki commons)
Obama (Public domain | Wiki commons)
A sizeable number of young Malay Malaysians are not ready to accept a non-Malay Malaysian head of government. This was reflected in a Merdeka Center for Opinion Research survey, which was conducted in late 2008 during Barack Obama’s historic election as US president.
How many Malaysian voters actually think that race counts less than a candidate’s principles and abilities in administering just policies for the country’s good? If the Merdeka Center poll is anything to go by, the numbers are not encouraging. The same sentiment was at work in Penang when Lim became chief minister. Strategically, he was compelled to appoint one Malay and one Indian Malaysian deputy to assure voters that his government would represent all races.
What needs to happen, then, before the current default thinking on who qualifies to be prime minister can be successfully challenged by the majority? At least two things would have to happen first:
the BN must lose federal power so that the current practice of filling up cabinet positions based on racial quotas can potentially be replaced by a system that is constitutional, yet merit-based; and
race-based political parties and racial politics must be disbanded.
Between the BN and PR, which of the coalitions are able, or even interested, in facilitating such change? If it is the PR, how well is it leading the way in this?
Unfortunately, Malaysia still needs a Malay Malaysian leader to convince the majority of Malay voters about a mindset change. That is likely the hope that the PR has in Anwar and the challenge that Datuk Seri Najib Razak faces as BN chief.
No matter, what is clear is that until and unless Malaysians can put leadership qualities above race and religious criteria, and demand for such leadership, Malaysia will be stuck with the same formula of racial politics, whether from the BN or PR.