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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Gerard Butler receives death threats over new movie



Hollywood star Gerard Butler increased his security team at the Toronto Film Festival over the weekend after receiving death threats.

The "300" star has been promoting his role in controversial movie "Machine Gun Preacher," a true-life story based on a Hells Angel who rescues orphans in Muslim-dominant Sudan after converting to Christianity.

Butler was forced to hire more bodyguards when he took to the red carpet at the Canadian festival after reportedly receiving a string of threatening messages.

A source tells Scotland's Daily Record, "It is quite a controversial subject and some people are upset by the strong religious theme. We are treating this matter seriously."

Indian forum all talk and no action

By MK Periasamy,


Having recently received a mass forwarded e-mail about an upcoming conference on the future of Indians, I was interested to see who had taken the initiative to organise this event. In any event, another conference is just BN's and Pakatan's delay tactics.

It seems to me that what needs to be done for the Indians is clear for all except the politicians and current Indian 'champions'. The promoters in the case of this conference are P Sivakumar, Malaysian Indian Business Association (Miba) president and Denison Jayasooria.

On Mr Sivakumar, I read with interest a letter from SA Kumaresan recently who correctly questioned the contributions of Miba since it was set up by Sivakumar more than 10 years ago now.

Miba has generated next to nothing for the Indian community apart from organising talk shop after talk shop, where like-minded people get together and lament dishonest politicians and poor delivery but never ever themselves step up to do anything about it.

He has managed Miba the MIC way, without holding proper elections and summarily dismissing people from his organising committee according to his whims and fancies. It would be a surprise to many if this Johor Bahru organisation of not more than 25 people pretending to be a national organisation ever achieves anything.

He has excluded the SMC and other notable Indian NGOs from this forum, NGOs that actually contribute to the Indian community. This clearly shows that Sivakumar's only motivation is to scale the social ladder and become yet another empty vessel calling oneself an Indian 'champion', content to occupy centre stage but unwilling to sacrifice in order to achieve.

Sivakumar is joined by Denison Jayasooria, the one time protégé of former MIC president S Samy Vellu. Over the last 10 years of Samy Vellu's reign as MIC president, Denison was his trusted brains and one-man think tank.

If anyone can recall any positive changes that were delivered to the Indian community over the last decade of Samy Vellu's reign, many Indians would be interested to know what these are as we all cannot recall any.

Among many other pending matters, how Denison and the MIC foundation, YSS, that Denison led spent RM30 million are still things that have not been cleared up. One thing Denison did do, while under Samy's watchful eye, was to organise conference after conference and conduct a lot of research that never ever amounted to actual improvement in the lives of Indians.

He regularly publishes books compiling the outcomes of the conferences he organises, books that are really not worth the paper they are printed on. The only reason he left Samy is because he was refused a seat and a deputy ministership when he personally approached Samy for this before the 12th general election.

More recently, he was also removed from the Special Implementation Taskforce of the BN government because he wanted to replace Minister Dr S Subramaniam as the chairman of the said taskforce.

In order to shore up his relevance, and rather than take risks and be bold as people like Bersih 2.0 chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan have been, he has chosen to do research loudly i.e. to catch the public eye in hope of maintaining his dwindling relevance to the Indian community.

Furthermore, he and a group of has-beens regularly put out statements from a group called Proham on any issue of the day, content to comment but never to act.

If the initiative to chart the future of the Indian community is now left to people like Sivakumar and Denison and not with members of the Indian community who have actually achieved something real for themselves and for the community, then we Indians are really in trouble.

The BN and Pakatan will not honestly help us out, and if the above two jokers are what we are left with, then we really have to wake up and take notice.

Perkasa says let Lion Group leave

Ibrahim said Putrajaya must not “bow to such threats”. — File pic
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 14 — Datuk Ibrahim Ali has urged the government to ignore the threat by Tan Sri William Cheng to move his Lion Group’s steel operations to Indonesia, stating that the national interest must come before that of “one or two greedy individuals.”


The Perkasa president was quoted by Utusan Malaysia assistant chief editor Datuk Zaini Hassan as saying that the decision by Blackberry smartphone makers Research In Motion to set up shop here proved that “Malaysia continues to be a destination for giant investors of the world.”

“The suggestion by Lion Group to move to Indonesia is a threat that should be ignored. What is important is that the government must be firm and not bow to such threats.

“The government must look at the interests of the country before the interests of one or two greedy corporate individuals (who believe) their interests are more important than that of the country and the public,” Ibrahim was quoted as saying by Zaini in his column titled “Is it wrong to be a Malay ultra?” today.

Lion Group chairman Cheng said earlier this week that he may consider moving Lion’s steel manufacturing operations to Indonesia if Putrajaya failed to levy tariffs on imports of hot-rolled coils from both Indonesia and Thailand, which in turn charged a 48 per cent and 43 per cent duty on the same product from Malaysia.

China Steel Corp, Taiwan’s largest steel manufacturer, has offered to buy Lion Group’s steel businesses, according to a Bloomberg report quoting sources.

China Steel had made a binding offer for Lion Group assets including Amsteel Mills Bhd and Megasteel Bhd in a deal that might be valued at more than US$1 billion (RM3 billion).

Ibrahim also added that the government should continue the Kedai Rakyat 1 Malaysia programme despite Cheng’s concern that the budget sundry shop was hurting other small retailers.

Responding to the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia president’s remarks, the Pasir Mas MP said “this group only cares about themselves” and “only looks out for businessmen but what about the interests of the public including poor Chinese and Indians?”

‘More needed to safeguard religious freedom’

A diplomatic cable from 2006, leaked by WikiLeaks, plays up the concerns expressed by US diplomats on religious intolerance in Malaysia.

KUALA LUMPUR: Top US diplomats here had expressed their concerns over the widening gap between the “defenders of Islam” and the “defenders of the constitution”, and had hoped for a strong leadership from the Barisan Nasional government, according to a leaked US confidential cable from 2006.

“The Malaysian government will need to exhibit stronger leadership in order to safeguard religious freedom and tolerance,” said the diplomatic cable sent to the State Department in Washington on Aug 30, 2006.

The cable also stated that the Malaysian government should also reject clearly any calls for religiously-motivated violence.

In particular, the US diplomats were concerned over the threats issued against prominent Muslim lawyer and human rights activist Malik Imtiaz for handling the apostasy case involving Lina Joy.

The diplomats noted that Malik had faced severe backlash from many Muslims for his outspoken stance on religious freedom issues, adding that the criticism had become much more pointed and personal.

They gave examples of mosques being used to defend Islam against apostasy where prominent speakers hit out at non-Muslims and Muslims who interpret Islam wrongly, including Malik.

The diplomats added that speakers who had hit out against those “ignorant on Islamic issues” included former Bar Council president Zainur Zakaria and prominent syariah lawyer Kamar Ainiah Kamaruzzaman.

“(Malik) Imtiaz told us that he believes several newly established Muslim activist groups orchestrated the death threat (against him), but he did not provide us with specific information to support his statements,” said the cable.

The confidential cable also noted that the Malaysian government was silent on the threat against Malik apart from the prime minister’s calls to stop public discussion of Islamic issues.

The confidential cable was leaked by whistleblower site WikiLeaks to the Malaysia Today blog run by Raja Petra Kamarudin who posted it today.

HRP demands 23 seats from Pakatan

The Human Rights Party is threatening a 10,000 people protest if Pakatan does not give it seven parliamentary and 16 state seats.

PETALING JAYA: The Human Rights Party (HRP) is demanding that Pakatan Rakyat give up seven parliamentary and 16 state assembly seats to HRP to contest in the general election.

Failing which, the party’s protem secretary P Uthayakumar has threatened that at least 10,000 Indians will protest outside the PKR headquarters.
And that, too, on the first Sunday after Parliament has been dissolved.

Uthayakumar said the party came to this decision after Pakatan refused to have any dealing with HRP.
Speaking at a forum and fund-raising dinner at Sitiawan on Sunday, he said HRP would be contesting in seven parliamentary and 16 state seats in Indian-based constituencies.

The seven parliamentary seats are Padang Serai (Kedah), Batu Kawan (Penang), Ipoh Barat (Perak), Kota Raja (Selangor), Teluk Kemang (Negri Sembilan), Cameron Highlands (Pahang) and Tebrau (Johor).

The 16 state seats are Bukit Selambau and Lunas (Kedah), Prai and Bagan Dalam (Penang), Buntong and Hutan Melintang (Perak), Port Dickson and Jeram Padang (Negri Sembilan), Tanah Rata and Ketari (Pahang), Puteri Wangsa and Tiram (Johor) and Sri Andalas, Ijok, Seri Setia and Bukit Melawati (Selangor).

Uthayakumar said HRP is eyeing four state seats in Selangor because one-third of the Indian population in Malaysia live in Selangor.

“In the last general election, we gave Pakatan a chance where for the first time BN lost its two-third parliament majority and lost control of five states.”

But, he said Pakatan failed to address the problems faced by the Indian community.

“So, this time Hindraf would not give a ‘blank check’ and make the same mistakes. Our demand is very simple. Let’s work together and vote Umno out,” he added.

He said political anaylsts have predicted that the Indian votes will swing back to BN.

“This will not happen if the Pakatan leaders had looked into the problems of the Indian community.”
He claimed that HRP has already set up six operation centres in some Indian-based constituencies.

“What we have learnt is that the Pakatan administration is no different from Umno, especially when it comes to Indian issues.

“For example, the state government has a say in allocating land but Pakatan state governments have failed to grant land to 182 Tamil schools in Kedah, Selangor and Penang.”

“I cannot see any problems for the state governments to grant lands for the schools,” he said.

Ambiga says it again: I won't contest in next GE

Responding to speculation that Pakatan Rakyat had identified her as a formidable candidate for the 13th general election, Bersih 2.0 chairperson Ambiga Sreenevasan reiterated that she will not contest.

"My sole interest in the 13th general election is to ensure that it is clean and fair," she said when contacted today.

NONE"I confirm I'm not running in the next general election."

The former Bar Council president is perplexed at how such speculaion could be raised, and repeatedly, because she was leading the electoral reform coalition.

Bersih gained momentum for organising the July 9 street rally to push for free and fair elections and since then, the mainstream media and ruling parties have been portraying Ambiga and Bersih with the opposition.

Yesterday, Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) Youth chief Fadillah Yusof urged Ambiga to clear the air on whether she intended to be a candidate in the next general election.

"The rakyat wants to know whether it is true that she has had negotiations with (PKR de facto leader) Anwar Ibrahim.

"And if she had been offered a seat, then which constituency and under which party's banner would she contest?" New Straits Times quoted Fadillah as saying.

Fadillah, who is also deputy science, technology and innovation minister, was responding to speculation that Ambiga was among several leaders Pakatan has identified as candidates in the coming election.

Ambiga stressed that the eight electoral reform demands proposed by Bersih should be the focus of discussion.

"It is imperative that, at the very least, the eight demands by Bersih must be implemented before the next general election," she added.

Mat Indera: Harakahdaily disoal siasat

Dr M says ill-defined 1 Malaysia to blame for race problems

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 13 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said today that the different perceptions and interpretations of Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 1 Malaysia concept had led to a deterioration in race relations with more demands made against the administration.

He said the Malays now felt aggrieved while the non-Malays wanted Bumiputera rights abolished.
“It is difficult for us to think that there can be unity with just a slogan,” the former PM said in an interview with satellite broadcaster Astro Awani that was aired today.

Dr Mahathir has become increasingly vocal in recent weeks in what appears to be a push to pressure Najib ahead of an impending general election. — file pic
He pointed out that both the Malays and non-Malays felt the government was now favouring the other.
 
“Malays feel that the Chinese are being treated better while they get nothing. I hope the Budget will strike a balance between the treatment of the Malays and non-Malays.

“Then only will some of the anger against the government disappear.”
The prime minister will table next year’s Budget on October 7.

This could be the PM’s last Budget before the next general election expected by early 2012.

Najib is expected to table an election budget by introducing populist policies to tackle rising costs and address general unhappiness over the glacial pace of reforms.

Dr Mahathir has become increasingly vocal in recent weeks in what appears to be a push to pressure Najib ahead of an impending general election.

Yesterday, Dr Mahathir suggested that Najib refrain from calling a general election soon, advising the prime minister to use the time to work on his preferred list of Barisan Nasional (BN) candidates instead.

He also said yesterday that “extremists” from each of the country’s three major races were making increasingly unwarranted demands, adding that such incidents did not happen during his tenure as prime minister.

The former PM said that Malays, Chinese and Indians needed to accept the fact that it was impossible for the government to fully meet each community’s demands.

Racial and religious tensions have continued to mount since 2009, following a High Court ruling that found the Catholic Church has a constitutional right to use the term “Allah” in the Bahasa Malaysia edition of its newspaper The Herald.

The ruling sparked a series of arson attacks on churches and other places of worship.

A proposal to move a Hindu temple to a largely Malay area in Shah Alam also saw a protest in which the severed head of a cow was dragged openly through the streets of the Selangor capital. Cows are considered sacred in Hinduism.

Right-wing groups, such as Perkasa, have claimed that Malays are currently under siege, and that the government needs to do more to defend their rights that they maintain are being eroded.

A recent survey by pollsters Merdeka Center found that Malaysians believe inter-racial relations have deteriorated over the past five years due to distrust among the different races.

Dr Mahathir said in Astro Awani interview today that he still had confidence that Najib would be able to fulfil the hopes of both the Malays and non-Malays.

“I hope Datuk Seri Najib realises that the Malays feel aggrieved and alienated. He has to ensure he does not alienate the Malays while protecting the interests of the non-Malays,” said Dr Mahathir.

Former MIED CEO walks free

P Chithirakala was cleared of all three cheating charges as she had returned the RM4 million she had allegedly siphoned off from MIED.

FULL REPORT - FMT
KUALA LUMPUR: Former CEO of MIC education arm, Maju Institute of Educational Development (MIED), P Chithirakala Vasu, was cleared of all three counts of cheating MIED of RM4 million by the Sessions Court here today.

Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Kevin Morais told judge Che Mohamad Zulkifly Jusoh that Chithirakala’s counsel had written three representation letters to the Attorney-General Chamber’s (A-G), among others, stating that Chithirakala had returned the alleged siphoned money.
“The A-G’s Chambers has considered these letters and agreed to withdraw all the three charges against the accused,” Morais said.

“Therefore, the prosecutor offers no evidence against the accused on all three counts.”
Chithirakala’s counsel Salehuddin Saidin verified that the amount had been returned.

Che Mohamad later allowed the application by the prosecutors, saying that Chithirakala was “discharged and acquitted”.

A teary-eyed Chithirakala said that she was “thankful to god” when approached by reporters later.
Asked if she had siphoned off the money as she was returning it now, she merely ignored the question.

Charged dropped on Sept 6

On May 11, last year, Chithirakala, 40, claimed trial to cheating former MIC treasurer-general M Mahalingam, 75, a director and signatory of MIED Sdn Bhd, by inducing him to sign three cheques for RM1 million, RM1 million and RM2 million, respectively, in 2007.

She was released on a RM 30,000 bail.

She is alleged to have deceived him into believing that the payments, which were made to Silver Line Services Sdn Bhd, were loan repayments to one Abdul Rashid Manaf, 65.

If convicted, she would have faced a maximum of 10 years in jail, whipping and fined on each charge.
Met later, Morais said that the third representation letter was sent on Aug 4, stating that the money was returned on July 29 in one lump sum.

He added that the A-G Chambers decided to drop the charges on Sept 6.

The trial started on April 6 which saw former MIC president, S Samy Vellu and his son, Vell Paari, take the witness stand to testify against Chithirakala.

Chithirakala, a former blue-eyed girl of Samy Vellu, had a fallout with the veteran leader following alleged misappropriation of the funds from MIED.

MIED was set up in 1984 as a private, non-profitable organisation which administers an education loan programme to help needy Indian students.

Bersih 2.0 police brutality probe reports ready

The reports will be tabled to the Cabinet soon, says Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.

PUTRAJAYA: Three special committees set up to investigate allegations of police brutality during the Bersih 2.0 illegal demonstration on July 9 have completed their reports which will be tabled to the Cabinet soon.

Home Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said although he personally felt that the reports should be made public, it was up to the Cabinet to decide whether to do so or otherwise.

“In his issue, I would like to remind the police not to be biased. What is right, is right. What is wrong, is wrong. They must hold on to the standard operating procedures.

“If there are certain quarters who did not adhere to the procedures, they should be disclosed,” he said after meeting with former Inspectors-General and Deputy Inspectors-General of Police, including Haniff Omar, Norain Mai and Hussin Ismail, at his office here today.

Also present were Deputy Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar and Home Ministry secretary-general Mahmood Adam.

Bukit Aman had set up the special committees to investigate six allegations of police brutality during the illegal demonstration in Kuala Lumpur.

On today’s meeting, Hishammuddin said it was aimed at finding ways to empower the police force, including looking into the welfare of the police personnel.

Bernama

Dusta kerana terdesak, kisah Najib dibongkar pelajar Malaysia di Perth


Dusta kerana terdesak, kisah Najib dibongkar pelajar Malaysia di Perth Ia bukan lagi rahsia Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak sedang behadapan dengan saat-saat genting. Beliau dan pentadbiran beliau beserta parti UMNO telah terperangkap dalam penipuan- penipuan yang tidak berpenghujung. Namun begitu, mereka seolah-olah tidak mempunyai niat apa-apa untuk menghentikannya atau ia telah menjadi tabiat mereka dan mereka tidak lagi mampu mengelaknya.

"Mereka telah menjadi orang-orang yang pendusta bersiri - tiada ubatnya," Ahli Parlimen PKR, Gopeng Lee Boon Chye; seorang doktor yang terkenal, memberitahu Malaysia Chronicle.

Insiden terbaru melibatkan Najib, yang telah dilihat keluar secara senyap-senyap dari negara ini untuk berehat sebentar di Perth Australia pada Hari Kebangsaan Malaysia , 31 Ogos yang lepas.

PM tidak membuat apa-apa pengumuman sungguhpun dari segi protokol beliau dikehendaki untuk berbuat demikian. Walaubagaimanapun, malang baginya, pesawat - jet kerajaan Malaysia telah dikesan mendarat di lapangan terbang Australia.

Diselamatkan oleh FBC Media dan Bernama

Apabila digesa untuk berterus terang mengenai perkara itu dan ditanya jika beliau menyalahgunakan wang rakyat untuk kemudahannya pergi bercuti peribadi; agensi berita nasional Bernama melakukan beberapa kerja PR yang mewah untuknya.

Pada hari Ahad, Bernama mendakwa Najib telah pergi ke Perth untuk menghabiskan Hari Raya bersama pelajar Malaysia di sana. Ini berlaku pada hari Sabtu, Hari Raya telah jatuh pada hari Selasa dan beliau berangkat pada hari Rabu, iaitu pada Hari Kebangsaan.

Perkara itu menjadi lebih teruk, apabila Bernama berkeras mendakwa pelajar di Perth telah menemui beliau dan mengatakan bahawa ucapan Najib 'menjadi sumber inspirasi' mereka.

"Sangat hebat mendengar Perdana Menteri kita berucap, dan beliau sangat mengagumkan," Bernama melaporkan seorang pelajar Curtin, Lim Jian Min, dari Kedah berkata. "Dia menaikkan semangat kita dan memberikan jawapan yang baik kepada semua persoalan kami."

Bernama juga memetik beberapa pelajar lain yang memuji PM. Dalam ucapannya, Najib telah menjelaskan konsep 1Malaysia yang tidak berfungsi itu lagi dan faedah kepada negara dan rakyatnya. Beliau juga berjanji bahawa akan ada beribu-ribu pekerjaan yang menunggu mereka apabila mereka pulang ke tanah air.

"1Malaysia bertujuan untuk menyatukan negara kita dan untuk membawa semua bangsa bersama-sama mencapai kemajuan dan kemakmuran. Sebahagian daripada anda mungkin mahu untuk tinggal disini selepas tamat pengajian untuk mendapatkan pengalaman bekerja di Australia. Itu tidak mengapa. Tetapi sila kembali ke Malaysia kerana kita akan memerlukan anda , "kata Najib.

Dusta lagi!

Tetapi semua usaha-usaha untuk menyelamatkan Najib sia-sia belaka.

Seorang pelajar Malaysia yang juga merupakan pegawai kerajaan yang menghadiri majlis makan malam Najib telah menafikan yang dia telah memuji ucapan Perdana Menteri. Malah, beliau mendakwa bahawa Bernama telah memutarbelitkan kata-kata nya.

Semasa dihubungi, pelajar berikut terkejut dengan laporan itu kerana pelajar tersebut sebenarnya telah membuat komen itu sebelum ucapan Najib.

"Mereka benar-benar telah mengubah dan menokok tambah apa yang kita kata kerana saya tidak pernah berkata seperti yang telah dilaporkan. Segala-galanya telah dilakukan sebelum ucapan dan bukan selepas ucapan itu. Saya rasa ia tindakan bodoh dan tidak perlu," Malaysiakini melaporkan pelajar tersebut sebagai berkata.

"Mereka dimasukkan benda-benda yang kita tidak penah ucapkan dan mengubah kata-kata kami. Kami tidak berkata apa-apa yang buruk, jadi saya tidak nampak mengapa mereka perlu berbuat demikian."

Apabila diminta untuk memberi komen, pemimpin-pemimpin Pakatan Rakyat hanya mampu menggelengkan kepala dan ketawa. Mereka menegaskan selepas dimalukan di pentas antarabangsa baru-baru ini apabila Najib didakwa membayar RM58 juta wang rakyat Malaysia kepada perunding FBC Media UK bagi mereke laporan palsu yang menggambarkan imej positif dirinya, pentadbirannya dan projek-projek mereka kepada penonton seluruh dunia.

Pihak berkuasa UK sedang menyiapkan siasatan terhadap FBC Media dan boleh melancarkan enkuari awam besar-besaran kerana FBC telah menjual berita palsu kepada rangkaian seperti CNN, CNBC dan juga BBC. Najib dan FBC diselar kerana cuba untuk 'menipu' penonton global, manakala pemimpin pembangkang Malaysia telah berjanji untuk bertanya kepada beliau di Parlimen mengenai jumlah sebenar yang dihabiskan untuk publisiti palsu tersebut.

"Ini jelas menunjukkan sebuah rejim yang berada di ambang kehancuran. Apabila anda mendengar kata-kata seperti 'hebat' dikaitkan dengan Najib, anda benar-benar cenderung untuk merasionalkan apa jua laporan tersebut" naib presiden PKR Tian Chua memberitahu Malaysia Chronicle.

Malaysia Chronicle

Federal Court: Findings of RCI into V. K. Lingam video clip not ‘reviewable’

The Star 
by M. MAGESWARI

*This is the first time that the country's apex court, the Federal Court, has answered a question on whether the findings of the Commission of Inquiry is reviewable and this may have implications on the findings of other RCIs.

PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court ruled Tuesday that the findings of a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the controversial V.K. Lingam video clip cannot be reviewed, saying the commissioners had merely made findings and not a decision.

Lawyer Datuk V.K. Lingam had sought a review of the RCI's findings that he had committed criminal misbehaviour, which he said was a grave attack on his reputation.

He had contended that although he had not been prosecuted, his reputation had been gravely tarnished and injured and that it was his fundamental right under the Federal Constitution to safeguard his reputation.

Justice Raus Sharif ruled Tuesday that Lingam and two former chief justices were not adversely affected by the findings of the commission.

Chief Judge of Malaya Justice Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin chaired a three-man panel. With him were Justice Raus,who is court of appeal president, and Federal Court judge Justice Abdull Hamid Embong.

This is the first time that the country's apex court, the Federal Court, has answered a question on whether the findings of the Commission of Inquiry is reviewable and may have implications on the findings of other RCIs.

Najib: Affirmative Action Will Remain For Bumis But More Market Friendly Now

By Nor Baizura Basri & Samantha Tan

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 14 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said affirmative actions to help Bumiputeras, which were introduced under the banner of New Economic Policy (NEP), would remain but have shifted to become more market friendly and merit based.

Najib, who is also the Finance Minister said the current government strategy of creating more opportunities for the Bumiputeras rather than imposing quotas on others, have also attracted the non-Bumiputeras.

"What we found out is that this way (affirmative action under NEP), firstly, has not been very popular with the market. And secondly, is not really helping the Bumiputeras.

"What we are trying to do now is to shift that - affirmative action remains - but it should be more market friendly and it should be more on the basis of merit," said the Prime Minister at the 11th Forbes Global CEO Conference here Tuesday.

"In other words, we create opportunities for them to grow rather than imposing quotas on others. So that's a general philosophy, we are moving towards and it's becoming better and has better attraction to the non-Bumiputeras," he said.

Najib was sharing his insights on the country's performance and challenges since taking the helm in 2009.

The 45-minute dialogue was chaired by Forbes Chairman and Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Asia, Steve Forbes.

On whether it was time for Asean to look into a new currency, Najib said Asean countries were still open to the idea over the longer term, but the approach must be in a steady manner to avoid disruption in the currency and financial market.

"I do accept the fact that in the short and medium term, the US dollar will continue to be the major international currency and Euro will also be an important international currency. I don't see that picture changing in the short and medium term.

"But in the long term, it (the idea of new currency for Asean) is still open. But let us approach it in a steady manner so that we do not disrupt the currency and financial market," Najib said.

He pointed out that Malaysia was one of the first countries to use local currency to conduct business and trade with China.

On the introduction of the goods and services tax (GST), Najib said the government has instructed the Inland Revenue Board to set up the system to enable its implementation.

He said it was important to be prepared as there would be glitches and further reassessment when it comes to the time of implementation.

"The question is the timing of it. I guess when the time is right, in the near future... probably after the next general election, we will introduce the GST," said Najib.

At the same time, he said there has been a growing acceptance among the people on the implementation of the GST.

Of the 12 million people, only 1.2 million people are paying taxes, said the Prime Minister.

"Our plan is to reduce our fiscal deficit from 5.6 per cent to 5.4 per cent this year and down to about three per cent in the next few years. So once we reduce our fiscal deficit, then there will be greater confidence in the economy and we should be able to see stronger fundamentals in Malaysia," Najib said.