Share |

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

BN MPs defeat motion against PM, say debt not a problem

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 2 — Barisan Nasional (BN) MPs beat off an Opposition motion today to dock 
PKR vice president Chua Tian Chang’s Budget 2012 motion this morning included an 
additional provision to dock a month’s wages from the PM’s salary over his 
management of the economy. — file pic

one month’s pay from Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s salary over his management of the economy, and argued that the national debt of RM407 billion was necessary to counter the global financial crisis.

Government backbenchers also said that the country’s inflation was under control when responding to Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) claims that the prime minister had failed to manage the economy.

“What is the problem if the debt is 51 per cent of GDP? In America and Europe, it is worse.

“What is important is the economy and public welfare. The debt is to boost the economy, not for jollying here and there,” said Pasir Salak MP Datuk Tajuddin Abdul Rahman.

His Umno colleague Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan also said that the Opposition “wants an economic slump” to happen as was the case when Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was finance minister during the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

“Remember when Permatang Pauh was finance minister. He didn’t want to spend and it resulted in an economic slump,” the Kota Belud MP said.

Jasin MP Datuk Ahmad Hamzah also argued that inflation in Malaysia is much lower than other parts of the world despite the consumer price index persisting at over three per cent since March, a two-year high.

PKR vice president Chua Tian Chang tabled a motion this morning to approve the government’s 2012 Budget with an additional provision to dock a month’s wages from Najib’s salary.

When tabling the motion today, he cited reasons such as the increase in national debt to over 51 per cent of GDP; the deaths of former DAP aide Teoh Beng Hock and Customs officer Ahmad Sarbaini Mohamed while in Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission custody; and the clampdown on the July 9 Bersih rally for electoral reforms.

“The drop in various socioeconomic indicators shows the weakness in the administration of the Prime Minister’s Office in addressing these issues,” the Batu MP said.

He told The Malaysian Insider later that Pemandu Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jala’s warning that Malaysia could still go bankrupt “is exactly the reason why I brought this motion.”

DAP’s Jelutong MP Jeff Ooi, who was the only other Opposition MP allowed to debate the motion, also accused Najib of flip-flopping on his promises to liberalise the economy.

Putrajaya was forced earlier this year to ease pre-qualification criteria for the MRT project to allow joint ventures, and set aside 43 per cent, or RM8 billion worth, of civil engineering work for the first MRT line for Bumiputera contractors despite analysts saying such a quota may swell the cost of the project.

The government has also made several other concessions to Malay hardliners including blocking the sale of prime land worth billions of ringgit by UDA Holdings due to buyers not being “Bumiputera enough.”

BN defeated the motion after Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia called for a voice vote.

Recognising Malaysia's stateless Indians

Indians arrived in Malaysia a century ago but many of their descendants still lack formal status.

Ethnic Indians comprise nearly eight per cent of the Malaysian population, yet an inability to obtain the proper documents has rendered generations stateless.

Official government estimates say 40,000 ethnic Indians, the descendants of Indians who arrived in Malaysia to work on plantations a century ago, are without birth certificates or identity cards, but activists say that number is much higher.

Lacking basic documentation, many ethnic Indians lack formal education and are unable to seek legal employment or cast a ballot

The government recently launched a drive to register ethnic Indians, but for many, even proving the nation as their birthplace presents a difficult hurdle.

Al Jazeera's Florence Looi reports from Kuala Lumpur.

Nalla: ‘I won’t slander Anwar’

Newly appointed senator says he will, nevertheless, retaliate if his erstwhile buddy makes any allegations against him.

KUALA LUMPUR: KS Nallakaruppan, once a close friend of Anwar Ibrahim, said while he will refrain from criticising the opposition leader, he will speak up if allegations were made against him.
Malaysian Indian United Party (MIUP) president Nallakaruppan, who was sworn in as a Senator today, was asked if he would turn against his former friend and reveal Anwar’s wrongdoings following the footsteps of fellow senator Ezam Mohd Nor, who was also Anwar’s one time close aide.
“I don’t want to take revenge on anybody but if he touches me, I’ll touch him,” he said. “We will wait and see what the other side will do…”
He said that he had hardly spoken to Anwar lately and their last meeting happened sometime ago when they bumped into each other at the airport.
Nallakarupan refused elaborate on the matter, saying: “I came here with my family today. I don’t want to comment about him today…Today is a good day for me”.
Nallakarupan said that as a senator he hopes to “work for the rakyat” and added that specific plans will be revealed at a later date on how this will be achieved.
When asked if his selection as a senator is a prelude to him contesting in the upcoming general election, he said that it was up to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to decide.
Nalakaruppan formed his own party following a fall-out with Anwar in 2007 and had aligned himself to Barisan Nasional.

‘Cops molested me’ woman charged instead

Wong Bee Fong, who claimed that she was molested by 11 policemen, has been charged with obstructing the police from carrying out their duty.

PUTRAJAYA: A 39-year-old finance accountant, who recently highlighted her plight of being allegedly molested by a group of 11 policemen seven years ago, found herself in the dock instead.
Wong Bee Fong was charged this morning with voluntarily obstructing the duties of public officer lance corporal Muhammad Faudzi Abdul Aziz on Aug 13, 2004 at 2.30am, Brigate Tengah PGA, Batu 11, Cheras.
Wearing a pink top and jeans at the Kajang magistrate court which held its sessions here, a hand-cuffed Wong pleaded not guilty.
The offence comes under Section 186 of the Penal Code, which carries a maximum penalty of two years prison, or RM10,000 fine or both.
Deputy public prosecutor R Siamalah applied for bail to be set at RM5,000 while Wong’s lawyer Keppy Wong asked for it to be reduced to RM500.
Keppy said his client was arrested last night and was put in the Batu 11 lock-up for a day and a high bail would constitute a punishment.
“The conditions of the arrest warrant, which was issued on Sept 5 was not adhered to. She was not allowed a police bail,” he said.
Keppy said the charge was related to an incident where his client had lodged a police report about her modesty being outraged by 11 policemen seven years ago.
Magistrate A Akhiruddin @ Boy Acho fixed bail at RM2,000 with one surety. The mention date was set at Dec 5.
Charge was ‘mala fide’
Speaking to reporters later, Keppy said the charge against his client was done in mala fide (bad faith) and amounted to a “revenge by the police”.
“My client is disappointed that the Attorney-General’s Chambers decided to charge her instead of the 11 policemen who outraged her decency.
“And this, after seven years, and two months right after she highlighted police inaction in the media? You did not even charge her seven years ago and no statement was taken from her employer, an important witness,” he added.
Keppy said his client was “unnecessarily” arrested at her home last night at 11.30pm. Police had allegedly kicked at her door and threatened to cut open her lock, before bringing her to a lock-up .
“The police and prosecution have had no indication that she would abscond and should not have arrested her,” he said.
Keppy said that the police had also “grossly violated” the arrest warrant that allowed a police bail, citing the recent case of 11 municipal councilors who were charged with a similar offence but were simply called to the court via telephone.
Traumatic episode
In August, the media reported that Wong held a press conference highlighting her alleged molest and “unlawful detention” in 2004.
She said that the traumatic episode left her scarred and fearful of men, but police had not taken any action till now.
In the incident, Wong had said she was travelling home in her car with her employer when they were stopped at a roadblock near Taman Connaught, Cheras.
Policemen allegedly accused her of drunk driving, an accusation she denied then. They confiscated her IC and driving licence and allegedly even demanded RM3,000 to settle the case. Wong also claimed that they threatened to take her into custody if she did not do so.
Feeling uncomfortable with the way they were dealing with her, Wong had driven off, and a Proton Wira gave chase.
When she was at the General Operations Force headquarters, a car rammed into her car, and another patrol car arrived, and 10 policemen began kicking and knocking on her car and demanded that she get out of the vehicle.
Wong was allegedly dragged out and molested by 11 men there, while her 56-year-old male employer stood aside helplessly.
“They made me feel like a fool and they just stood there laughing,” she had told the press. She had subsequently lodged a police report but instead, police investigated her for obstruction.
Keppy said he believed police did not even open up an investigation paper on her molest case.

Egyptian Sheikh issues fatwa prohibiting votes for Christian, secular candidates

Egyptian Salafi Sheikh Mohammad Amer issued a fatwa prohibiting votes for Christian and secular candidates.
CARIO: Mohammad Amer, a Salafi Sheikh in Damanhur, Egypt, issued a fatwa prohibiting votes for any Christian, secular or liberal candidate, as well as any Muslim candidate who does not pray daily or call for the implementation of Shariah law.

The fatwa also prohibited voting for any former member of the dissolved National Democratic Party (NDP), associated with the regime of deposed President Hosni Mubarak, with the exception of a few “honorable” candidates.

Amer claimed that voting for any such candidate would constitute a grave sin.

“I want the voters to vote in favor of the candidates of the Islamic movements and to oppose those who want to separate religion from the state. There is nothing called liberalism in Islam and there is no absolute freedom in our religion,” he said to London’s Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, defending the move.

Amer is the head of the Giza Governorate branch of al-Sunna al-Mohamadeya. He came under fire earlier this year when he released a fatwa claiming that Egyptian political figure Mohamed ElBaradei could be killed for calling for the boycott of Egyptian elections and civil disobedience.

“ElBaradei incites civil unrest,” said the controversial fatwa. “For this, the rulers, represented by the Government and President Hosni Mubarak, have the right to kill him if he does not stop.”

Human rights organizations quickly condemned the fatwa, noting that the same grounds were used in legitimizing the 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar el-Sadat.

Malaysia could still face bankruptcy, Idris Jala warns

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 1 — Datuk Seri Idris Jala said today that Malaysia could still become bankrupt
within a decade if it spends borrowed money on operational expenditure such as subsidies instead of investing the cash.

“If our economy grows less than four per cent... and we don’t cut our operating expenditure, if we borrow at 12.5 per cent, if our annual debt rises to 12.5 per cent and our revenue does not grow, then it will happen,” Idris (picture) said today after announcing the latest investment updates for the government’s economic transformation programme (ETP).

The performance management minister triggered alarm bells with his controversial bankruptcy forecast last year.

Malaysia’s national debt rose by 12.3 per cent to over RM407 billion last year, according to the Auditor-General’s latest report released last week.

Although the economy grew by 7.2 per cent in 2010, last year’s fiscal deficit maintained public debt at over 50 per cent of GDP for the second year running.

The Auditor-General said in the report that the government owed 53.1 per cent of GDP, slightly down from 53.7 per cent last year.

Economists have also said the country’s economic growth could slow to just 3.6 per cent next year from a projected 4.3 per cent this year due to the increasing risk of a double dip global recession.

Idris said today that Malaysia will not go through a recession but will suffer an economic slowdown as a result of the ongoing financial crisis in Europe spreading.

“It’s not as rosy as we would like,” the Sarawakian minister admitted during a public question-and-answer session.

He noted that the GDP this year was only at 4.4 per cent.

But he assured Malaysians “our government will not allow that to happen”.

He also said his forecast did not mean Putrajaya should stop borrowing.
“We should borrow money provided the money is spent as investment rather than as operating expenditure,” he said.

“We must make sure our borrowing is in proportion to investment,” he added.

Subsidies are among the government’s biggest operating expenses.

The CEO of the government’s Peformance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) said bankruptcy could be avoided even if the GDP falls below the targeted six per cent a year as long as it can increase its revenue collection.

Idris said that the country’s population has grown to 28 million but highlighted that only one per cent was currently paying income tax.

He said one of the ways to raise revenue was to implement the goods and services tax (GST).

He added that the GST would also help make the country globally competitive, noting that 140 other nations have already done so.

“If we do that, it propels competition. Sooner or later, we’ve got to implement GST,” he said.

He said the government has proposed the consumption tax but was unable to carry it out due to objections from the opposition Pakatan Rakyat pact.

Kedah Kita to go for 18 seats

It is shortlisting candidates for six parliamentary and 12 state constituencies.
SUNGAI PETANI: Kita will contest six parliamentary and 12 state seats in Kedah in the coming general election.
Zamil Ibrahim, who leads the party’s Kedah chapter, revealed this today at a function to announce the manifesto Kita will use in the state.
The federal seats are Alor Star, Kuala Kedah, Merbok, Sungai Petani, Padang Serai and Kulim –Bandar Bahru and the state seats are Derga, Bakar Bata, Kota Darulaman, Gurun, Bukit Selambau, Tanjung Dawai, Pantai Merdeka, Sidam, Bakar Arang, Kuala Ketil, Lunas and Kulim.
Kedah has 15 federal and 36 state seats.
The constituencies that Kita has chosen are racially mixed and have not been traditional strongholds of any party, according to Zamil.
He claimed that Kita was capable of replacing PKR and DAP in Kedah.
“PKR and DAP won the last time due to a political tsunami, not due to their strength,” he said. “They never had a firm political presence in Kedah. We are capable of turning the tables against them next time. We can fish in trouble waters.”
He also claimed that Kita was experiencing a surge in local support.  Kedah Kita has 1,000 members.
Zamil said Kita was prepared to work with any party to form the next state government, but not at the expense of its election promises.
“If we were to join the next state government, we would ensure that our election promises would be fulfilled within two years. We would not compromise on that.”
The manifesto carries the motto “Moderate, Democratic and Liberal” and promises, among other things, to provide free electricity and water to all houses of worship.
Zamil said Kita’s top brass had agreed with the decision to contest the 18 seats and that 20 candidates had been shortlisted although the search for potential candidates was continuing.
The state leadership would submit between two and six names for each seat to the top leadership.
Zamil said Kita had no racial quota for candidature.
“We will only field winnable candidates,” he said. “We may even field Malay candidates in the seats contested by Chinese candidates from BN and Pakatan.”
He said Kita would campaign at nightly flea markets and through dialogue sessions and door-to-door visits.

Newark flight makes emergency landing in Poland