News Cuttings

Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Four Political Secretaries Sworn In

January 28, 2004 18:19 PM

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 28 (Bernama) -- Four newly-appointed political secretaries were sworn in before Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in his office, here Wednesday.

They are Dr Vincent Lim Kian Tick, Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh, Wong Kung Foo and Dr Abdul Razak Omar.

Dr Lim, 40, is appointed political secretary to the Prime Minister while Wan Ahmad Farid is the political secretary to the Home Minister.

Wong is appointed political secretary to the Transport Minister and Dr Abdul Razak, the political secretary to the Women and Family Development Minister.

Dr Lim has an economics degree from University La Trobe, Australia. He graduated with a doctorate in International Relations from Oxford University, United Kingdom in 1998.

Prior to his present appointment, Dr Lim served as researcher at the Institute of Strategic and International Studies (ISIS) in 1993 and appointed the institute's fellow in 2002.

Wan Ahmad Farid, 41, a former lawyer, sits in the Umno Youth Executive Council and is Kuala Terengganu Umno deputy chief.

Wong, 54, a former teacher from Sungai Buloh, Selangor, served as the private secretary to the Deputy Finance Minister from 1999 and June 30, 2003 while Dr Abdul Razak, 43, is a former lecturer at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS).


Monday, January 26, 2004

29 Political Parties Register With Election Commission

January 26, 2004 19:57 PM
By Harlina Samson

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 26 (Bernama) -- A total of 29 political parties have so far registered with the Election Commission (EC).

EC Public Relations Officer Saleki Ahmad Januri said the list was the latest for the General Election which could be called at any time.

The registration of these parties with the EC was with a view to alloting them with symbols which they could use in the General Election, Saleki said.

He said the 14-party Barisan Nasional would use the "scale" symbol in the election.

Hence BN component parties such as Umno, the MCA and the MIC were not in the register as they all used the "scale" symbol, Saleki said.

Malaysia will hold its 11th General Election this year. The last General Election was in November 1999.

The symbols of the various parties can be found in the EC website which was updated on Jan 19.

The political parties which are registered with the EC are:

1. Barisan Nasional (BN) (National Front)

2. Barisan Jema'ah Islamiah SeMalaysia (BERJASA)

3. Parti Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia (Gerakan)

4. Parti Kebangsaan Sarawak (SNAP) ( Sarawak National Party)

5. Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu Sarawak (PBB)

6. People's Progressive Party (PPP)

7. Parti Rakyat Bersatu Sarawak (SUPP) (Sarawak United People's Party)

8. Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) (Pan Malaysian Islamic Party)

9. Parti Kongres Indian Muslim Malaysia (KIMMA)

10. Partai Pekerja-pekerja Malaysia

11. Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM)

12. Parti Tindakan Democratic (DAP) (Democratic Action Party)

13. Pertubuhan Kebangsaan Pasok Nunkragang Bersatu (PASOK)

14. Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS)

15. Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS)

16. Parti Momogun Kebangsaan Sabah (MOMOGUN) (Sabah National Momogun Party)

17. Parti Kongres Penyatuan Masyarakat

18. Parti Keadilan Rakyat (AKAR) Sabah

19. Parti Liberal Demokratik Sabah (LDP)

20. Parti Barisan Rakyat Sabah Bersekutu (BERSEKUTU)

21. Parti Keadilan Nasional (Keadilan) (National Keadilan Party)

22. Parti Demokratik Setiahati Kuasa Rakyat Bersatu Sabah (SETIA)

23. Parti Maju Sabah

24. Parti Reformasi Negeri (STAR)

25. United Pasok Momogun Kadazandusun Organisation (UPKO)

26. Parti Angkatan Keadilan Insan Malaysia (AKIM)

27. Parti Demokratik Malaysia (MDP) (Malaysian Democratic Party)

28. Parti Barisan Kemajuan India Se-Malaysia (AMIPF) and

29. Parti Punjabi Malaysia

Based on the Report of the 1999 General Election issued by the EC, a total of 813 candidates from seven parties -- BN, PAS, DAP, Keadilan, MDP, PRM, AKIM and Independents contested for state seats in the peninsula.

In the case of Parliament, 417 candidates from 10 parties -- BN, PAS, Keadilan, DAP, PBS, MDP, STAR, PRM, AKIM, BERJASA and Independents stood for seats in the Dewan Rakyat (Lower House).

Candidate from only five parties -- BN, PAS, Keadilan, DAP and the PBS won seats.

Saleki said the EC had approved 20 symbols for use by Independent candidates in the coming election.

The symbols for Independents are: key, cock, bus, bicycle, book, typewriter, scissors, tiger head, fish, alarm clock, aeroplane, shoe, chair, umbrella, oil palm tree, top, pipe, telephone, tractor and kite.


Saturday, January 24, 2004

Journalist Seeks Interim Payment From KL Monorail Operators

January 24, 2004 10:45 AM

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 24 (Bernama) -- A Bernama senior journalist, who suffered severe head and bodily injuries after being struck by a safety wheel which came off the intra-city monorail train, 17 months ago, has filed a suit against the operators, seeking interim payment of RM250,000.

David Chelliah @ Kovilpillai Chelliah David, 41, filed the suit for interim payment against Monorail Malaysia Technology Sdn. Bhd., as the first defendant, which designed and manufactured the trains, KL Monorail Systems Sdn. Bhd., (second defendant) as the concession company responsible for the installation, commissioning and operation of the trains and their parent company, MTrans Holdings Sdn. Bhd., as the third defendant.

The suit was filed through his lawyers Messrs Shook Lin & Bok at the High Court civil registry at Wisma Denmark here on Jan 15.

On Aug 16, 2002, Chelliah was hit by a 13.4 kg safety wheel of a monorail train on a test run in front of the Concorde Hotel in Jalan Sultan Ismail here. He was was standing on the road divider, intending to cross to cover a business assignment at the Shangri-la Hotel at 2.50pm.

Chelliah, who has been with Bernama for almost 20 years, said in his statement of claim that by the reasons of the defendants' negligence, he had been severely injured and crippled as a result of head and bodily injuries that are life threatening.

He said that the first three defendants have in law admitted that the injuries suffered was caused by their negligence and/or events falling within their defendent's control or domain.

He pointed out that in the statement of defence by the first three defendants dated April 8, 2003, the companies admitted that the safety wheel came off "as a results of deliberate intervention by a person or persons unknown or as yet unidentified at the time of filing of the defence."

Chelliah said due to the severity of his injuries, he has been advised by doctors that the neurological condition will, in all likehood, deteriorate in the near future and have been advised to seek medical opinion or treatment overseas.

In his statement of interim payment claim, Chelliah said as a result of the incident, he was unable to support his mother's dialysis treatment which incur a sum of approximately RM980 per week.

He said his claim for damages was a substantial one but the action for negligence against the defendants is unlikely to come for trial in the near future.

He said that he believes that at the date of the accident, the first three defendants were insured and stated that the defendants have the means and resources to make interim payment.

On March 7, 2003, Chelliah filed a RM5 million negligence suit against the three defendants and the Director General of Railways as the fourth defendant.

The Director General of Railways in his statement of defence dated April 17, 2003, said the injuries suffered by Chelliah were due to the negligence of the other three defendants, which also failed to provide a safe depot for the monorail trains.

The director-general also blamed Chelliah for failing to cross the road at a designated place for pedestrian crossing and said he was not entitled to damages from him but from the three companies.

The High Court fixed March 29 for case management of the RM5 million negligence suit against the four defendants.


Thursday, January 22, 2004

Anwar Fails To Get Bail, Review Of Court Of Appeal's Decision

January 21, 2004 19:00 PM

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 21 (Bernama) -- Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim Wednesday failed to obtain bail and stay of execution pending appeal in the Federal Court against his conviction and nine-year jail sentence for sodomy.

Federal Court judge Datuk Pajan Singh Gill, who headed a three-member panel, also dismissed Anwar's application to have the Court of Appeal review its own decision handed down on April 18 last year, rejecting the appeal filed by him and his adopted brother against their conviction and sentence for sodomy.

Justice Pajan Singh, who sat with Court of Appeal judges Datuk Richard Malanjum and Datuk Hashim Yusof, said that the decision to dismiss both applications were unanimous.

"We are unanimous in our conclusion that Datuk Seri Anwar has failed to demonstrate reasonably to our satisfaction that his case is within the category of `special or exceptional circumstances' which warrant his release on bail pending appeal," he said in rejecting Anwar's application for bail.

On Anwar's revision application to have the court reopen and rehear his appeal in the sodomy case, Justice Pajan Singh said that as far as the Court of Appeal was concerned, it did not have the jurisdiction to entertain such application.

After the decision was delivered, Anwar seemed upset. He stood and launched a tirade against the judges and the prosecution team.

The three judges adjourned the proceedings abruptly when Anwar refused to heed Justice Pajan Singh's warning that he mind his words and behaviour in court.

The situation in the courtroom was in a chaotic state for a few minutes after that when Anwar's supporters and family members could not contain their anger and dissatisfaction over the decision.

The Court of Appeal, on April 18 last year, upheld the conviction and sentences passed against Anwar, who is currently serving his nine-year jail term, and Sukma Darmawan Sasmitaat Madja, who was sentenced to six years' jail and ordered to be given four strokes of the rotan for sodomy.

Both were found guilty by the High Court of sodomising Anwar's former driver, Azizan Abu Bakar, at Sukma Darmawan's apartment at Tivoli Villa in Bangsar at 7.45pm between January and March 1993.


Monday, January 19, 2004

We spent RM1.2b on SMS

By Deborah Loh
NST 19-1-2004

There’s big money to be made in the Short Message Service (SMS) business. The industry easily grossed RM1.2 billion last year based on the estimated six billion messages sent at an average fee of 20 sen per message. For Malaysians, the SMS is now the ultimate in the digital lifestyle, beating the convenience of e-mail, instant messaging, downloading songs and general surfing of the World Wide Web.

The six billion messages were double the 2002 volume, and the increase also, to a certain extent, reflected the increase in the number of mobile phone subscribers.

Figures obtained from the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) showed that in 2002, 3.64 billion SMS were sent, and in 2003, some 4.5 billion SMS had been sent by the end of September.

Figures for the year's last quarter have not been finalised, but adding the average of the first three quarters puts the estimated total for the year at six billion.

"It is difficult to track the exact worth of messages sent due to the different charges," an MCMC spokesman said.

Charges depend on the operator, mobile phone package and type of service requested (contests, stock prices, weather and news updates, or other downloads).

In fact, at 76 per cent, SMS usage recorded the fastest annual growth, much faster than cellular service usage at 20 per cent. The growth of text messaging is phenomenal given that it has been less than three years since cellular operators rolled out the inter-operator SMS in October, 2001.

SMS appeals because it is a quick and discreet way of passing information. Messages can be sent to many people simultaneously. Recipients can choose to answer at leisure, or not at all.

Lately, SMS usage broke new ground in the Government, which used it in its public delivery system.

Youths used SMS to check if they had been called up for National Service. Motorists use it to check with the Road Transport Department if they had been summoned for traffic offences.

The RTD also uses it, through the general packet radio service (GPRS), to do background checks on individual motorists and vehicles.

Other SMS usages are just as compelling: sending feedback on taxi drivers to the Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board or checking the delivery status of registered and express mail through the "SMS-POS" service operated by Pos Malaysia Berhad. Citizens can also check their voter registration status with the Election Commission via SMS.

SMS has even enhanced political culture: one service provider allows subscribers to check their party membership status, obtain news flashes on the latest party happenings, or download ring tones of the party's song and logo.

Energy, Communication and Multimedia Communications Minister Datuk Amar Leo Moggie said using SMS in the public delivery system is part of the Government's effort to encourage the use of information communications technology. "We are very much encouraged by developments taking place," he said in an e-mail interview.

"This is part and parcel of our move towards E-Government and towards incorporating the use of ICT in Government processes and, more importantly, dealing with and serving the public." "SMS and the e-mail have become the norm for internal communication in the civil service," he said. "There will be more Government agencies offering information services via SMS." The growing number of mobile phone users is also a factor in the increased use of SMS.

There were 10 million mobile phone subscribers last year, at a penetration rate of 42.4 per cent of the population. In 2002, 36.9 per cent used mobile phones and in 2001, 30.8 per cent.

With the advent of multimedia messaging service (MMS), will the mobile phone change the way the public deals with the Government? Will Malaysians one day apply for passports by sending photo and thumbprint through MMS? Moggie did not commit himself but he said: "There is already tremendous development and popularity in SMS and picture messaging. Going by the trend, especially in Japan and Korea, the future of MMS looks promising." Moggie said Malaysia was beginning to roll out new generation technologies which, once in place, would enable the migration from SMS to MMS.

It was also reported last August that cellular operators have begun talks on sending MMS across rival networks.

Equally important are the necessary legal frameworks and mechanisms to govern electronic transactions.

One is the Digital Signature Act 1997, which came into effect the following year. It ensures that personal information sent over communication networks is kept secure and confidential by recognising digital certificates.

"This will further facilitate and enhance the potential of MMS," Moggie said, "to become a conduit for the Government to deliver its ser-vices."

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Bird droppings prime origin of bird flu, says WHO as it confirms fourth death

January 17, 2004 11:23 AM

GENEVA (AFP) - Bird flu, which has killed at least four people in Vietnam, is largely transmitted through bird droppings and uncooked meat, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said, casting doubt over the need to ban imports of chicken meat. When a contaminated chicken makes an excrement the H5N1 strain of avian influenza, which has triggered an Asia-wide health scare, circulates in the air and is carried by the wind, according to the WHO.

Piled one on top of the other in cramped cages, the birds easily pass the disease on with their dirty droppings, the health body said, noting that chicken breeders also risked inhaling the bug.

On the other hand, it was virtually impossible to catch bird flu by eating cooked meat that is infected, said WHO spokeswoman Fadela Chaib.

"The cooking kills the virus," Chaib said, citing WHO experts. Similarly, boiling the bird before plucking it also destroyed the bug, Chaib told AFP.

Fears about spreading the disease prompted Japan on Friday to ban Taiwanese poultry imports after bird flu was discovered on the island.

It also began burying the carcasses of 34,600 of its own birds that may have been infected.

The WHO warned that it was equally dangerous for humans to be close to infected birds whether they are alive or dead.

Only a few animals manage to survive once they catch bird flu and those who survive continue to lay contaminated droppings for a minimum of 10 days.

The WHO earlier confirmed that a fourth person has died from bird flu in Vietnam, but stressed that the disease was only being transmitted through birds and not yet through humans.

Vietnamese authorities have recorded 13 deaths due to the disease out of 18 suspected cases but the WHO has yet to verify the others.

The fourth person to die from the disease was a five-year-old child in the Vietnamese province of Nam Dinh, who passed away on January 8, said Chaib.

All the victims confirmed dead in Vietnam so far caught the deadly flu directly from a bird and not through human transmission, according to the WHO.

The H5N1 strain has been genetically sequenced, Chaib said. "We know that all the genes originate from birds and they have not mutated to come from humans," she said at a regular news conference in Geneva, where the WHO is headquartered.

"It is very important to know this because if the genes mutate and start to come from humans then they will be able to be transmitted from one person to another," explained Chaib.

Vietnam has ordered the slaughter of all chickens in the 12 regions grappling with a bird flu epidemic and banned the sale of poultry in Ho Chi Minh City, the country's largest metropolis.

South Korea, Japan and Taiwan were also battling their own outbreaks of bird flu, which is threatening to spoil next week's Lunar New Year celebrations across the region and comes amid a re-emergence of SARS in southern China.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

CNY ban on heavy vehicles

Kota Kinabalu: The Sabah Road Transport Department (JPJ) will carry out a road safety campaign in conjunction with the Chinese New Year from Jan 20 until 25.

In line with the Prime Minister’s nationwide directive, the operation is also to monitor the movement of heavy vehicles that have been banned from the roads beginning two days before the Chinese New Year until two days after the celebration in the State.

JPJ Sabah Assistant Director for Enforcement, Abd Rahman Zakaria, said those under Category One, namely, logging trucks, earth moving and construction material carriers as well as cement mixing lorries and cranes or low loaders would be totally banned from the roads during the period.

He said that in the same period, under Category Two, containers or cargo trailers carrying electrical goods as well as trailer lorries moving from the port to the airport (outside the local area) would be allowed to operate from 6am until midnight.

“Those found violating the directive would be penalised and the vehicles would be seized,” he said during a press conference at the JPJ headquarters in Jalan Bundusan Penampang, near here, Wednesday.

However, vehicles under Category Three such as lorries carrying gas and chemical for medical supply and the chemical industry, containers to and from the airport as well as those from the port to the airport within the same area, daily essential goods like food or livestock, dump trucks and small lorries under five tonnes with loads would be exempted.

Also allowed are lorries carrying containers or cargo from the terminal to local area ports, to and from the godowns and industrial areas near the ports as well as fuel tanker lorries.

At the same time, Abd Rahman said the operation would also monitor public transport vehicles including express buses to and from Sandakan, Lahad Datu, Tawau and even Lawas.

JPJ will penalise express bus drivers found driving recklessly, he said.

Abd Rahman said a total of 87 JPJ officers would be mobilised to conduct the operation in all major towns in Sabah during the period.

He said JPJ would also collaborate with police to detect drivers suspected of driving under the influence of drugs.

“Those tested positive for drug-taking would have their driving licence suspended. In addition, if they are lorry drivers, we will revoke their Goods Driving Licence (GDL), or Public Service Vehicle licence if they are bus drivers,” he said.

Pirate buses or mini buses detected in the operation would also be seized in the bid to check the number of such transportation operating without permit.

Police force's new deputy chief has squeaky-clean image

JAN 15, 2004

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's new Deputy Inspector-General of Police Sedek Mohd Ali is a tough disciplinarian who has a strong stand against corruption.

He is a good match for the country's top cop, Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Mohd Bakri Omar. His boss also has the reputation of being a no-non- sense 'Mr Clean'.

The two men are key players in the drive by Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi to stamp out corruption and reduce crime in the country.

He announced the appointment of the new No. 2 in the police force on Tuesday to fill the post vacated when Datuk Seri Mohd Bakri became IGP earlier this year.

Like the appointment of the IGP, the promotion of his deputy who was the Director of Internal Security and Public Order was seen as another attempt by the government to tackle corruption robustly.

Datuk Sedek, 54, joined the force in 1973 and has served in various capacities, including a stint as Chief Police Officer (CPO) of Perak.

He was one of three senior officers who were expected to assume the Deputy IGP's post. His unassuming nature and strong stance against corruption have become the subject of many a tale whispered within the rank and file.

One story has it that while driving to Kuala Lumpur from Ipoh, he was flagged down for speeding on the North-South Expressway. The policemen, on seeing that their CPO was behind the wheel, apologised and waved him on.

Datuk Sedek, however, insisted on being issued with a summons since he had committed an offence and subsequently paid the fine. \-- New Straits Times

PAS chief makes about-turn on dress code

JAN 15, 2004

The Menteri Besar now says it is not right for the Terengganu state government to dictate what non-Muslims cannot wear

KUALA TERENGGANU - Menteri Besar Abdul Hadi Awang has reversed his stand on the ban which stops non-Muslim women in Terengganu from wearing short skirts or tight jeans to work.

He said on Tuesday that the Terengganu state government run by Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) could not dictate how non-Muslims should be dressed.

'They are free to choose their dressing and we cannot force them to dress like Muslims,' he said before presenting Chinese New Year gifts to non-Muslims in Kampong Tiong.

The statement by the PAS chief contradicted one he made earlier in which he said that the dress code set on Jan 4 by the Kuala Terengganu Municipal Council was acceptable to non-Muslim state religious leaders.

Several of these leaders and other groups in Malaysia criticised the code as infringing on the rights of women who are not followers of Islam.

They included Muslims urging the Terengganu government to pay more attention to the state's poor economy than the way women dress.

Responding to these criticisms over the weekend, PAS Youth Chief Salahuddin Ayub argued that provocative dressing by women was 'closely linked' to murders, rapes and social abuses.

He also blamed Jews for pioneering 'a provocative, seductive and branded culture' pandering to the dresser's ego.

He said Kelantan Umno deputy chairman Zaid Ibrahim's protest over the code showed that he was anti-Islam and that Umno was a proxy of the Jews.

'The question of violating basic human rights does not arise when enforcing the compulsory rule of covering the aurat,' he said. Aurat refers to parts of the body that should not be exposed according to Islamic belief.

He also stressed that adhering to the rules of Islam was a responsibility and not a matter of rights.

Datuk Zaid had argued that it was illegal for the state government to impose the code.

The federal Constitution does not allow the local authorities to check the freedom of Malaysians. It does not require Malaysian women to wear only one type of attire in workplaces.

No one has the right to decide how Muslims or non-Muslims should lead their lives, he said.

Malaysian Chinese Association Wanita chief Ng Yen Yen said blaming provocative dressing as the cause of rapes, murders and other sexual crimes reflected the narrow thinking of PAS.

The brutal rape and murder of computer engineer Noor Suzaily Mukhtar is one example of the violence against women who are decently dressed.

'They were unfortunate victims and this has nothing to do with what they wore,' she said.

She also accused PAS of issuing several rulings oppressing women ever since it came into power in Terengganu and Kelantan.

Ms P. Jai, an executive, said PAS should get rid of its obsession with reprimanding women. 'What about men? Will they ban sports events, including football matches, because the male players wear shorts?' \-- New Straits Times, TheStar/Asia News Network

Further Promotion For 450 Already Senior JKR Officers

January 15, 2004 17:22 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 15 (Bernama) -- The Public Works Department (JKR) has promoted 439 senior officers creating a record of sorts in the department's 132-year history.

"This is the highest number of promotions in the JKR since I assumed this portfolio (as Works Minister in 1981)," Works Minister Datuk Seri Samy Vellu said at a luncheon to honour the 439 officers here.

He said said 113 officers were promoted from the J48 grade to grade J54 while another 326 officers were promoted to grade J48 under the Sistem Saraan Malaysia (SSM).

He said that in 2002 the Public Service Department (PSD) had approved a promotion package for JKR professional and sub-professional officers.

Samy Vellu believed that career prospects for JKR officers would get even brighter in the future.

On the type of government projects that would be awarded through direct negotiations, Datuk Seri Samy Vellu said this would be decided by the Treasury.

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, recently announced that most government projects would be awarded to contractors through open tender save for critical projects.

Datuk Seri Samy Vellu said currently the award of projects valued at RM30 million and below was decided by the Works Ministry and projects worth RM15 million and below by the JKR Director-General.

"Projects valued at above RM30 million will be decided by the Treasury," he said.


Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Open Tendering For Govt Contracts To Be The Norm, Says Abdullah

January 13, 2004 16:56 PM

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 13 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Tuesday that the country's government tender processes need to be transparent with open tendering to be the norm.

"Open tendering for government contracts will be the norm and direct negotiations will be limited to very special cases," he said.

"In this manner, an open tendering system will help promote efficiency and competition, which will directly lower the cost of doing business," he said at a dialogue with council members of the National Economic Action Council (NEAC), corporate leaders, professionals and academicians here.

This was his first major address to the business community after taking over as Prime Minister on Oct 31 last year.

Also present at the function, attended by over 700 participants, were newly-appointed Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop.

Abdullah, who is also Finance Minister, said that the handling of procurement and tender processes for government contracts was one area that requires significant refining.

"Having efficient and transparent processes will reduce uncertainty, as well as limit the opportunities for corruption and graft," he said.

Later at a media conference, he said that open tendering covers Malaysians and foreigners alike.

However, he did not elaborate on "very special cases" that warrant direct negotiations.

The Prime Minister also announced several measures aimed at building a stronger Malaysian economy in a challenging environment brought about by globalisation and liberalisation.

The measures cover wide-ranging issues related to the broad areas of performance of the public sector, the private sector and human resources, which he referred as three levels of performance priorities for the economy.

Abdullah said that he was happy with the "very encouraging response" shown by the private sector with their "all round appreciation and support" of measures that he announced.

"I hope it is good for the economy and I hope this will also strengthen their confidence in the future of the economy," he said.

He said that with the financial crisis being long over, the private sector should resume its role as the engine of economic growth.

Manufacturers, industrialists, traders and even bankers have their own role to play to contribute towards economic growth, he said.

For bankers, he said, they should help nurture young entrepreneurs by giving out loans without using collateral as the sole basis.

"Banks should be ready to give money on the basis of cash flow presented in the business proposals because that is the one that is going to determine whether banks make their money or not," he said.

Abdullah said that there were young people who have good business ideas that work and were viable but lacked the collateral.

In his speech, the Prime Minister also reiterated that the core principle of his government was not to exclude anyone but to include everyone in mainstream development.

"Growth with equity has been the hallmark of Malaysia, and will continue to be so," he said.

Accordingly, Abdullah said that the Bumiputera agenda would have its rightful place in his administration's socio-economic policies.

"It will be my government's intention to create a more capable and competitive Bumiputera community. Efforts to spawn a larger Bumiputera commercial and industrial community (BCIC) will be intensified.

"The creation of a Bumiputera scientific and technological community will be added to this agenda," the Prime Minister said.

Abdullah also said that the government would give special attention to efforts to close the poverty and digital divides across all communities.

"We have made tremendous strides in combating poverty, but we must do so more effectively and also address issues of relative deprivation, particularly in urban centres," he said

As for digital divide, he noted that it was a very difficult problem that must be met with swift but considered action.


Monday, January 12, 2004

Human Resources Ministry Denies It Has Failed To Help Workers

January 11, 2004 17:56 PM

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 11 (Bernama) -- Human Resources Minister Datuk Wira Dr Fong Chan Onn has rejected allegations that the ministry has failed to perform its role in resolving cases involving workers.

He said the ministry had continuously monitored and helped the parties involved to settle their cases, especially the outstanding ones.

"We have been actively expanding the number of industrial court chairmen to handle outstanding cases," he told reporters after launching the Calligraphy and Art of Tea Serving Competition organised by MCA Segambut, here Sunday.

He said this when asked to comment on the Malaysian Trades Union Congress' (MTUC) resolution at its Special Labour Convention yesterday which had among others stated the union's dissatisfaction over the ministry's failure in addressing several labour issues such as trade disputes and dismissal cases.

"We try our very best to help resolve the cases and we need the cooperation from every party especially the employers and employees," said Dr Fong.

He said cases which were pending were usually due to the lack of cooperation between employers and employees.

"You must understand that this (resolving case) involves human beings and we can't force them to agree with the terms," he said.

Dr Fong also highlighted the fact that the number of cases reported had been growing by 6,000 to 7,000 annually for the past few years.

"Actually the ministry has resolved a lot of outstanding cases, but at the same time there is a lot of new cases being reported," he said.

He said the ministry and its officers had always practice the "open door" policy with the union.


Azmi Khalid Falls From Tree, Fractures Rib

January 12, 2004 09:22 AM

KANGAR, Jan 12 (Bernama) -- Rural Development Minister Datuk Azmi Khalid was admitted to the Kangar Hospital on Sunday following an injury during his visit to Kampung Bongkok, near here.

The incident occurred at about 12.30pm when Azmi was offered a guava fruit by a villager and the minister decided to pluck the fruit from the tree himself.

When met at the hospital Sunday night, Azmi said he fractured one of his right ribs when he fell from the tree.

He said he fell down from the tree when he lost his balance.

Azmi, who is also the Padang Besar Umno division head, said he might be hospitalised for three days and would rest until he had fully recovered to return to work.


Doesn't it show that how 'often' our minister has actually 'turun padang' and with the people? That was probably once of a life time climb for Azmi.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Anti-Violence Campaign Must Start Soon - Shahrizat

January 10, 2004 18:29 PM
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 10 (Bernama) -- The National Women and Family Development Council is urging all members to immediately implement its anti-violence against women and children campaign due to the rising number of these cases.

Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil said the programme, which involved not only women but their whole families, needed to be implemented as soon as possible.

Last Thursday, Harirawati Saridi, 10, was murdered on her way to school in Menggatal, Sabah while the wife of Selangor State Secretary Datuk Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof was tortured and beaten by an intruder in her home in Shah Alam, Selangor.

"We do not want violence and torture against women and children to become a culture which is accepted by our society.

"The Malaysian society needs to be encouraged to practise and maintain postive family values because everything begins with a family," she said after chairing the council meeting here Saturday.

Shahrizat said the programme was hoped to create awareness among parents to reject violence from becoming a part of their family lives and to ensure their children were taught noble values.

She said aside from campaigning against violence, the council, which was set up in March last year, would also continue to implement four of its programmes which were aimed at literacy in law, family love, financial guidance for newlyweds and getting leaders to visit the grassroots.


Saturday, January 10, 2004

MTUC Slams Human Resources Ministry For Incompetency

January 10, 2004 20:04 PM
NO FAITH… Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) President Senator Zainal Rampak stressing a point during his opening speech at the MTUC's Special Labour Convention in Petaling Jaya, Saturday.

PETALING JAYA, Jan 10 (Bernama) -- The Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) passed 10 strong resolutions Saturday criticising the Human Resources Ministry for neglecting workers' welfare.

Some 400 delegates, representing about 200 MTUC's affiliate members, unanimously passed these resolutions at a Special Labour Convention held at the Wisma Transport Workers Union here.

"The sheer number of participants today clearly shows how unhappy unions are with the Human Resources Ministry," MTUC president Zainal Rampak said in his opening speech in a packed hall.

The ministry, he said, failed to address pressing labour issues - ranging from trade disputes, dismissal cases to hiring of foreign workers.

"We have lost confidence on the minister and the ministry (Labour and the Industrial Relations Department). There are currently 11,000 Section 20 (dismissal) cases pending for the last four years and retrenchment cases are increasing day by day," he disclosed.

The twice-annual National Labour Advisory Council dialogue, between the ministry and MTUC, was only held once a year now and even that was ineffective, lamented Zainal.

Meanwhile, MTUC secretary-general G.Rajasekaran said the Congress had sent five memorandums since 1995 to the ministry but nothing positive had transpired, but instead discrimination of workers continued to rise.

"The government is yet to rectify the International Labour Organisation Convention 87 which allows the right to organise unions and negotiate (for better benefits)," he said.

Rajasekaran said unions had to wait for nearly three years to obtain recognition from the Director-General of Trade Unions, thus crippling workers to negotiate with employers under the Collective Agreement.

Among the resolutions passed were anti-union activities, Social Security Organisation's (Socso) uncaring approach, Voluntary Separation Scheme, welfare of contract workers and the issue of hiring foreign workers. One key resolution was Socso's denial of compensation to injured and disabled Socso members.

"Socso has increasingly become unsympathetic and inconsiderate. Its administrators treat applicants for assistance with contempt, often they challenge certifications of their own panel doctors.

"(We) express our deep concern over Socso's eagerness to spend considerable sums of contributors' money on legal proceedings to challenge their own Socso Appelate Board's awards in favour of contributors," it said.

On hiring of foreign workers, Rajesekaran said employers continued to rely on cheap foreign labour while locals were ignored.

"The government announced over the past four months that about 300,000 foreign workers will be hired. They are oblivious to the sufferings of unemployed Malaysians.

"There is also increasing complaints from Malaysian workers of discriminatory policies and practises enforced by companies, including major multinational corporations," he added.

As part of their action plan MTUC would present a memorandum about workers' grouses to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim who is the Minister in the Prime Minister's Department and to the Malaysian Human Rights Commission on Jan 19, said Rajasekaran.


Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Nor Mohamed Yakcop Right Man For The Job

January 07, 2004 18:15 PM
By Siti Hawa Othman

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 7 (Bernama) -- As the architect behind the establishment of the ringgit peg against US dollar, which provided financial stability to counter the 1997/98 financial crisis, the new second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop is the right man for the job.

He has also been instrumental in drawing up restructuring exercises for companies such as United Engineers Malaysia (UEM) and Malaysia Airlines (MAS) to get corporate Malaysia back on track after the crisis.

Now, the 56-year old former Bank Negara Adviser, is also involved in promoting the use of the gold dinar in trade between countries.

He was responsible for the implementation of a number of major projects including the implementation of Islamic banking, Ar-Rahnu (Islamic pawn loan) scheme, setting up of Bilateral Payments mechanism between Bank Negara Malaysia and central banks of South-South countries, setting up of the Securities Commission, Cagamas Bhd and Rating Agency Malaysia Bhd.

A founding member of the Institute of Islamic Understanding (IKIM), he played a significant role in the formulation and implementation of the selective exchange control measures implemented in September 1998.

Since taking on the job of Special Economic Adviser to the Prime Minister in May 2000, he has played a major role in a number of corporate restructuring exercises including UEM, Malaysian Resources Corporation Bhd, MAS, Tabung Haji, Johor Corporation, KUB, Langkawi Cable Car project and the Light Rail Transit (LRT) companies (Putra and STAR).

He was also responsible for the setting of the PROSPER (Projek Usahawan Bumiputera Dalam Bidang Peruncitan) scheme, which aims to increase Bumiputera participation in the retail sector.

With several feathers in his cap, including being the architect of Islamic banking and its successful implementation, he was credited for leading a team of advisers in putting in place the very much needed reforms in the corporate and financial sector.

The Association of Banks in Malaysia, in welcoming the appointment, said it was a positive development.

"A thorough-bred central banker, Nor Mohamed has extensive experience in a complex financial environment and a proven track record in managing a financial crisis," its chairman, Dr Rozali Mohamed Ali, said.

When the 1997/98 financial crisis gripped the region and the nation's economy, Nor Mohamed was responsible in advising the then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on the implementation of the controversial capital controls which included the establishment of the ringgit currency peg.

The selective capital controls have proven sceptics wrong when it managed to bring Malaysia out of the crisis earlier than other affected countries which had subscribed to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) rescue formula.

Nor Mohamed was appointed as special adviser on financial affairs to Dr Mahathir, then Prime Minister, in May 2000 and was retained in the current post by Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi due to his wide experience.

Born 56 years ago in Penang, Nor Mohamed had his early education at St Xavier's Institution in Penang before graduating with a B.Econ (Hons) from University of Malaya in 1972 and an M.B.A from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium in 1979.

He had his career in Bank Negara spanning 26 years from 1968 to 1994 before joining the private sector.

He returned in September 1998 as the central bank's special adviser until early 2000.

His involvement in the private sector from 1994 to 2000 included stints as managing director of RHB Research Institute Sdn Bhd, advisor to Jati Discounts Bhd, executive chairman of Mun Loong Bhd, vice-president of Abrar Group International and executive vice-chairman of Abrar Corporation Bhd.

Nor Mohamed is a board member of MAS and Khazanah Nasional and is in the National Economic Action Council (NEAC) executive committee since May 2000.

He is married to Puan Sri Fawziah binte Mohd Abu Bakar and has three children.


Full List Of Cabinet Ministers 2004

January 07, 2004 15:14 PM
PUTRAJAYA, Jan 7 (Bernama) -- The full list of Cabinet Ministers following the Cabinet reshuffle announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi Wednesday.

Prime Minister:
Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi

Deputy Prime Minister:
Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department:
1. Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim
2. Datuk Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor
3. Datuk Abdul Hamid Zainal Abidin
4. Tan Sri Bernard Dompok

Minister of Special Functions in the Prime Minister's Department:
Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Effendi Norwawi

Minister of Housing and Local Government:
Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting

Minister of Works:
Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu

Minister of Primary Industries:
Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik

Minister of Energy, Communication and Multimedia:
Datuk Amar Leo Moggie

Minister of International Trade and Industry:
Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz

Minister of Defence:
Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak

Minister of Finance I:
Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi

Minister of Finance II:
Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop

Minister of Home Affairs:
Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi

Minister of Science, Technology and Environment:
Datuk Seri Law Hieng Ding

Minister of Foreign Affairs:
Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar

Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs:
Datuk Dr Jamaluddin Jarjis

Minister of Health:
Datuk Chua Jui Meng

Minister of Land and Cooperative Development:
Tan Sri Kasitah Gaddam

Minister of National Unity and Social Development:
Datuk Dr Siti Zaharah Sulaiman

Minister of Information:
Tan Sri Khalil Yaakob

Minister of Culture, Arts and Tourism:
Datuk Paduka Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir

Minister of Human Resources:
Datuk Dr Fong Chan Onn

Minister of Transport:
Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy

Minister of Entrepreneur Development:
Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Tan Sri Abdul Aziz

Minister of Rural Development:
Datuk Azmi Khalid

Minister of Youth and Sports:
Datuk Hishammuddin Tun Hussein

Minister of Agriculture
Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin

Minister of Education:
Tan Sri Musa Mohamad

Minister of Women and Family Development:
Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil

Najib is Deputy Prime Minister

(The Star 7-1-2004)
KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will be named as the country’s Deputy Prime Minister today.

An official statement on his appointment will be issued after the Cabinet meeting.

According to Government sources, the Defence Minister received his letter of appointment from Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi yesterday at about 5pm.

The city here was abuzz with reports about his appointment as the ninth Deputy Prime Minister just after 7pm.

It is learnt that Abdullah had called Najib to the Prime Minister’s Department at Kompleks Perdana in Putrajaya just before the Prime Minister was to meet Thai Foreign Minister Dr Surakiart Sathirathai.

Reporters waiting for a press conference by Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar were surprised to see Najib at the PM’s office.

Aides later confirmed that Najib was not there to attend the meeting with the Thai minister.

However, when approached by reporters Najib instead gave them a report about Malaysia and Thailand forming joint-patrols following the upsurge of violence at southern Thai border towns.

Later when met at his house at 1.10am as he returned from a farewell dinner for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Najib declined to be drawn into making any comments or confirmation.

“I cannot make any statement. This is a prerogative of the Prime Minister,” he said to the handful of journalists and photographers who had been waiting at his residence in Taman Duta here.

“Why don't we just wait for tomorrow (today). I am not going to make any statement,” he said.

Asked of his feelings, Najib laughed, saying that doing that would be confirming the news.

When told that TV stations and news agencies had announced his appointment, Najib said: “They can always quote and they can always deny later. Whatever it is, it did not come from me or from my office.”

Najib, 51, has scored a string of the “youngest” titles throughout his 27-year political career.

He was elected as MP at the age of 23 in 1976. Two years later, he was made a deputy minister (Energy, Telecom and Post) – the youngest ever.

In 1981, he became the youngest Umno Supreme Council member and a year on, the youngest chief minister when he became Mentri Besar of Pahang.

At the age of 32, he was made Culture, Youth and Sports Minister, again, the youngest Cabinet member back in those days.

As the eldest son of Malaysia’s second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein and the nephew of the third Prime Minister Tun Hussein Onn, Najib is often cited for his political blueblood origin.

Born in Kuala Lipis, Pahang, in 1953, Najib received his early education in the elite St John Institution here.

As a teenager, he was sent to England to attend Malven Boy’s College in Worchestershire and he remained in the country to pursue economic studies at the University of Nottingham.

Upon returning to Malaysia at the age of 21, he worked as an executive at Petronas but he was destined to become a politician when two years later he won the Pekan by-election uncontested to fill the seat that fell vacant following his father’s death.

In Umno, he started with the Youth wing and rose to the chairmanship before emerging as one of the top leaders by winning the vice-president's post in 1993.

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak

Date of Birth: 23 July 1953
Place of Birth: Kuala Lipis, Pahang
Name of wife: Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor
Number of Children: 5

Primary - St John Institution, Kuala Lumpur
Secondary - St John Institution, Kuala Lumpur; Malven Boy's College, Worchestershire, England
University - University of Nottingham, England

Academic qualification: B.A. Hons. Economic (1974)

Career (Government):
1974 - 1976 Executive Petronas
1977 - 1979 Chairman of Majuternak
1976 - 1982 MP of Pekan, Pahang
1978 - 1980 Deputy Energy, Telecom and Post Minister
1980 - 1981 Deputy Education Minister
1981 - 1982 Deputy Finance Minister
1982 - 1986 State assemblyman of Bandar Pekan, Pahang
1982 - 1986 Pahang Chief Minister
1982 - 1986 Pahang Development Board chairman
1982 - 1986 Yang-di Pertua Kuantan Municipal Council
1982 -1986 Amanah Saham Pahang chairman
1982 -1986 Yayasan Pahang chairman
1986 - now MP of Pekan, Pahang
1986 - 1988 Culture, Youth and Sports Minister
1988 - 1990 Youth and Sports Minister
1990 - 1995 Defence Minister
1995 - 1999 Education Minister
1999 - now Defence Minister

Career (Politics)
1976 - 1982 Pahang Umno Youth's economy and finance bureau chairman
1976 - 1980 Pekan Umno Youth chief
1976 - 1982 National Umno Youth exco
1980 - 1982 Pekan Umno division deputy chief
1981 - 1987 Umno Supreme Council member
1982 - 1987 Umno Youth deputy chief
1982 - 1983 Pahang Umno liaison committee deputy chairman
1982 - 1988 Pekan Umno division chief
1983 - 1987 Pahang Umno liaison committee chairman
1986 - 1988 Umno Youth's Sports and Economy Bureau chief
1987 - 1988 Umno Youth acting chief
1988 - 1989 Umno pro-tem committee member
1988 - now Pekan Umno division chief
1988 - 1993 Umno Youth chief
1993 - now Umno vice president