News Cuttings

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Budget 2005 to focus on four strategies

The Star Online
Friday, September 10, 2004

Prime Minister and Finance Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi Friday presented his maiden Budget speech to Parliament.

Dressed in a red baju Melayu, the Prime Minister said the focus of Budget 2005 will be on four strategies, namely:

First: Enhancing the effectiveness of Government financial management, efficiency of the delivery system and competitiveness;

Second: Accelerating the shift towards a higher value-added economy;

Third: Developing human capital as a catalyst of growth; and

Fourth: Ensuring the well-being of the rakyat through improving their quality of life.

Main points

Review of taxation system

Review of consumption tax (sales tax and service tax) to pave the way for introduction of Goods and Services Tax in 2007

Fund for tax refunds to be established

Excess tax payment will be offset against current year tax, or refunds for excess will be made from the fund

Zakat: to be allowed as income tax deduction up to 2.5% of income for companies

Agriculture promotion

RM300mil commercialisation seed capital for private sector and government-linked companies

adoption of modern methods through the application of technology, including biotechnology

develop Malaysia as a centre of processing, packaging and marketing of agriculture products for global markets

develop skilled manpower and transforming Univerisiti Putra Malaysia into a centre of excellence for agriculture education

RM1.5 bil allocated for agriculture projects, especially for those benefitting smallholders

Tax incentives to encourage food production extended further five years until 2010; equity requirement for investing in subsidiary is reduced from 100% to 70%

Developing Halal Products

investment tax allowance of 100% for five years

RM10mil special fund for Development and Promotion of Halal Products for studies in business planning, technology and market development, improving quality

Financial sector

allow up to five major foreign stockbrokers to operate in Malaysia

allow up to five leading global fund managers to operate in Malaysia

100% foreign ownership in futures broking companies

100% foreign ownership in venture capital companies for ICT sector

abolish limit on number of foreign dealer representatives

allow EPF to increase size of funds places in local fund management companies from current RM6bil within three years

Tax exemption on interest earned by non-resident companies from ringgit-denominated Islamic securities and debentures, excluding convertible loan stocks, and securities issued by Malaysian government

Additional RM1.75bil of Merdeka Bonds to be issued by end of 2005

Government will issue Islamic Treasury Bills, based on syariah principles

Overseas branches of local banks to establish Islamic banking counters.

Tax or duty exemption on Islamic financial products approved by Syariah Advisory Council of Bank Negara, and Islamic capital market products approved by the Syariah Advisory Council of Securities Commission

Individual income tax relief on premium payments for life insurance increased from RM5,000 to RM6,000

Real Estate Investment Trust

Exempted from tax on income distributed to unit holders; undistributed income taxed at 28%

Non-resident unit holders tax payable at 28%


Ministry approved arts and cultural performances by local artists in Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya given full entertainment duty exemption. Call on states to do same.

develop health tourism


Expedite approvals and accreditation for courses by private institutes of higher learning

ranking performance of private and public institutes of higher learning based on international standards

RM670mil for building new polytechnics, community colleges, industrial training institutes, MARA Skills Insititutes and National Youth Skills Institutes and RM248mil for upgrading

RM190 mil for facilities to increase skills training for secondary school leavers

Increase number of MARA sponsored students overseas from 700 to 1,000 under Skim Pelajar Cemerlang

Khazanah Nasional to sponsor 100 high achieving students for technical and professional subjects overseas

Guru Cemerlang and Pengetua Cemerlang can remain in schools with opportunities to be promoted to Special grade C and JUSA C posts respectively. 12 Special Grade C posts for guru cemerlang and 5 JUSA C posts for pengetua cemerlang to be created

RM205mil for Tuition Voucher Scheme for children from low-income group

Abolishing or Reducing Import Duties on Selected Goods

Current import duty on surgical gloves, carpet, glassware and semi-finished components for wood-based industry of between 5% and 25% abolished

Current import duty on raw materials for apparel industry and herbicides from between 10% and 35% to between 5% and 30%.

Pioneer status or Investment Tax Allowance for existing companies relocating manufacturing activities to promoted areas, including Eastern Corridor of Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak.

RM2.5bil development allocation for East Coast Corridor, RM3.8bil for Sabah and Sarawak.

Developing the ICT sector

Target to create additional 100,000 high value-added jobs to existing 20,000 in Multimedia Super Corridor


soft loans and matching grants will continue

SMI Fund 2 will be increased by RM1.6bil to RM4.5bil

New Entrepreneurs' Fund 2 increased by RM550mil to RM2bil

Enhance marketing and promotion capabilities, scope of Market Development Grant expanded to include marketing and promotion, expenses for negotiations for Mutual Recognition Agreement. Maximum increased from RM60,000 to RM100,000

RM50mil fund for enhancing marketing skills

RM100mil fund for enhancing product design, packaging and labelling capabilities

Eradication of poverty

RM94.2mil for Housing Assistance Programme, Income Generating Programme, Dietary Food Supplement Programme, Mindset Change Programme and Training and Educational Programme.

RM205mil for Tuition Voucher Scheme for children from low-income group (also in education)

Orang Asli

RM77.3mil for improving standard of living for Orang Asli, including a comprehensive development plan in education, health, property ownership and infrastrucre development and mindset development

Disabled, children and elderly

Additional tax relief from RM5,000 to RM6,000; and RM2,500 to RM3,000 for disabled spouses

RM25 monthly allowance for each disabled child who participates in the COmnunity Rehabilitation Programme or who attends special schools sponsored by voluntary welfare organisations

Increase daily expenditure on food from RM3.90 to RM8 per person for children, elderly and disabled in rehabilitation and shelter institutions

Rural areas

RM130mil for rural electricity supply programme

RM174mil for construction of kampung roads

RM50mil for building and completion of rural roads

RM18.7mil for improvement of rural health

Info Desa and Internet Desa programmes will be expanded


Tax rebate for purchase of personal computers increased from RM400 to RM500

Tax relief increase from RM500 to RM700 for purchase of books

RM30mil for National library to buy reading material


Additional 100,000 units of affordable homes to be implemented through Industrialised Building System

Housuing developers fully exempted from CIDB levy if IBS component usage exeeds 50%

Additional RM778mil for construction of 21,000 units of low cost houses under Project Perumahan Rakyat

Additional RM177mil in loans for construction of 3,000 units under Projek Perumaham Awam Kos Rendah

Additional RM100mil for 2,500 farmers and fishermen and the poor to finance construction of homes under Projek Perumahan Mesra Rakyat

Pilot project on integrated development in Mukim Pantai Dalam to house 1,000 households living in longhouses

Pudu Prison site to be developed as commercial and residential centre.

Tax on Cigarettes and Liquor

excise duty on cigarettes to be increased from RM58 to RM81 per 1,000 sticks; and

excise duty on liquor be increased from between 5 sen and RM23.40 to between 10 sen and RM28 per litre.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Anwar Freed As Court Quashes Sodomy Conviction
Malaysian National News Agency
September 02, 2004 16:17 PM

PUTRAJAYA, Sept 2 (Bernama) -- Former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was freed Thursday after nearly six years in jail when the Federal Court upheld his appeal against conviction for sodomy.

Federal Court judges Datuk Abdul Hamid Mohamad, Datin Paduka Rahmah Hussain and Tengku Datuk Baharuddin Shah Tengku Mahmud decided with a 2-1 majority to overturn Anwar's conviction and nine-year jail sentence imposed on Aug 2, 2000.

Anwar, 57, was sentenced on April 14, 1999 to six years' jail on four counts of corruption relating to abuse of power by interfering in police investigations into allegations of sexual misconduct.

Anwar's release from prison Thursday comes exactly six years after he was sacked from the Cabinet.

The court also overturned the conviction and six-year jail sentence on Anwar's adopted brother, Sukma Darmawan Sasmitaat Madja.

They were found guilty of sodomising Anwar's family driver, Azizan Abu Bakar, at Sukma's Tivoli Villa apartment in affluent Bangsar here between January and March 1993.

Anwar thanked the judges for quashing his conviction and sentence, saying: "May God Bless You."

Outside the courthouse, he told reporters: "Thank God that it is over. But I remain committed with my struggle for justice.

"I also give credit to the Prime Minister."

Wearing a neck brace, Anwar arrived at the courthouse in a wheelchair. He was accompanied from Hospital Kuala Lumpur, where he was being treated, by police cars and motorcycle outriders.

The vehicle which brought Anwar headed straight for the underground carpark behind the courthouse but waiting journalists and photographers were unable to follow as the entrance was then locked.

Gathered outside the courthouse were about 400 of Anwar's supporters including from Parti Keadilan and PAS, some who came as early as 7am.

Among those spotted there were Keadilan Vice President Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, PAS Secretary General Nasaruddin Mat Isa and the DAP Member of Parliament for Seputeh Teresa Kok Suh Sim.

In an 88-page judgment, Justice Abdul Hamid said the prosecution had failed to prove the case against Anwar and Sukma beyond reasonable doubt as required by the law on admissible evidence and in accordance with established principles of law.

Even if the court were to find evidence to confirm Anwar and Sukma were involved in homosexual activities and were more inclined to believe that the alleged incident did happen, the court might only convict them if the prosecution had successfully proved the alleged offences beyond reasonable doubt, he added.

He said that the issue to be determined by the court was whether, at the end of the prosecution's case, it had proven beyond reasonable doubt that Anwar and Sukma had sodomised Azizan at the Tivoli Villa one night between January and March 1993, and in Sukma's case, whether he abetted the offence committed by Anwar.

Justice Abdul Hamid said the essential part of the offence had not been proven by the prosecution as Azizan, being the only source for the date of the offence, showed inconsistency and contradiction when giving evidence and was, therefore, not a reliable source.

He said Azizan's evidence on the date of the incident was doubtful as he had given three different dates in three different years, the first two covering a period of one month each and the last covering a period of three months.

In the charge, dated Oct 5, 1998, against Anwar regarding Tivoli Villa, the date of the commission of the offence given by Azizan was May 1994.

When Sukma was charged on April 23, 1999, the date of the offence was given as May 1992 and the charge against Anwar was amended from May 1994 to May 1992.

On June 7, 1999, the charges were again amended from May 1992 to "between the months of January and March 1993".

Justice Abdul Hamid said Sukma's confession was inadmissible as it appeared not to have been made voluntarily. Even if admissible, it would not support the date of the commission of the offences alleged, he added.

The court ruled that it was incumbent on the trial judge to hold a confession inadmissible if there appeared to be suspicious circumstances surrounding the making or recording of the confession.

Justice Abdul Hamid said that there seemed to be so many unusual things that happened regarding Sukma's arrest and confession, before and after the confession was made.

The confession came after 10 days of intensive interrogation and 12 days of detention (up to the time he made the statement to a magistrate) when for all intents and purposes he was arrested as a witness but interrogated as an offender and ended up as an accused, twice.

Indeed, he was charged two days later for allowing Anwar to sodomise him, the record of which was introduced as evidence in his trial.

Justice Abdul Hamid also found Azizan to be an accomplice. Therefore, corroborative evidence of a convincing, cogent and irresistible character was required, he said.

By Azizan's own evidence, he was sodomised 10 to 15 times at various places, including in Anwar's house, over a number of years. He never lodged any report, never complained about it and he did not leave the job immediately after he was sodomised the first time.

Justice Abdul Hamid said while the testimonies of Dr Mohamed Fadzil Man who examined Sukma on Nov 10, 1994 and former Inspector-General of Police Tun Haniff Omar and Anwar's conduct confirmed both their involvement in homosexual activities, such evidence did not corroborate Azizan's story that he was sodomised by them at the place, time and date specified in the charge.

In the absence of any corroborative evidence it was unsafe to convict them on the evidence of an accomplice alone unless his evidence was unusually convincing or for some reason was of special weight which the court found it was not, he added.

He stressed that the prosecution must prove its case beyond reasonable doubt before the defence might be called.

He said the High Court had misdirected itself in calling them to enter their defence. Instead, they should have been acquitted at the end of the prosecution case.

In her dissenting judgement, Justice Rahmah Hussain said that even though there were discrepancies in Azizan's testimony relating to the date of the offence, that did not straightaway make Azizan an unreliable witness and the whole story of his evidence unacceptable.

The discrepancies were not fatal to the prosecution's case since, in sexual offences, the date was not a vital ingredient of the charge.

As to the issue of voluntariness of Sukma's confession, she found no good reason to disagree with the concurrent finding of the High Court judge and the Court of Appeal. She agreed that details in the confession rendered an inevitable conclusion that it must be given voluntarily.

She also agreed with the finding of fact by the High Court judge that Azizan was not an accomplice.

There was nothing to suggest that Azizan "concurred fully in the criminal designs of another for a certain time, until getting alarmed or for some other cause, turn against his former associate and gave information against him."

She said Azizan was no more an accomplice than a rape victim and was ashamed and afraid to lodge a police report against both of them.

"Therefore, since Azizan was not an accomplice, no corroborative evidence was required before the court could make a finding that Azizan was credible," she said.


Anwar's rise and fall

(CNN) -- Once being groomed to succeed former Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, Anwar Ibrahim's fall from grace was dramatic. The following is a timeline of his life.

Aug. 10, 1947 - Anwar Ibrahim is born in the northern Malaysian island of Penang.

1974 - Anwar is arrested during an anti-government protest and spends 20 months in jail.

1981 - Mahathir Mohamad becomes president of the United Malays National Organization (UMNO) and Malaysia's prime minister.

1982 - Anwar, the founding leader of youth Islamic organization called ABIM, shocks his liberal supporters by joining the UMNO.

1991 - Anwar moves up the political ranks and is appointed finance minister.

1993 - Anwar is made deputy to Mahathir.

April 1997 - Anwar holds the post of acting prime minister while Mahatir takes a two month holiday.

June 1997 - Mahathir reverses several Anwar decisions, as Malaysia faces the Asian economic crisis.

Sept. 2, 1998 - Anwar is fired from the Cabinet, amid police reports that he is under investigation for sex and corruption allegations.

Sept. 20, 1998 - Anwar leads tens of thousands in a protest march in Kuala Lumpur demanding Mahathir's resignation. He is arrested hours later.

Sept. 29, 1998 - Bruised and with a black-eye, Anwar appears in court and pleads innocent to charges of sodomy and corruption. The national police chief later admits to beating him.

Nov. 2, 1998 - Anwar's trial begins. He faces four counts of corruption.

April 14, 1999 - Anwar is sentenced to six years in prison.

June 6, 1999 - Trial for charges of sodomy opens.

July 28, 1999 - Azizan Abu Bakar, Anwar's former family driver, tells the court he was sodomized up to 15 times by Anwar.

July 18, 2000 - Anwar's hearing ends after more than a year.

Aug. 8, 2000 - Anwar is found guilty and is sentenced to nine years prison for sodomy, to be served consecutive to his six year term for corruption.

Nov. 25, 2000 - Anwar is hospitalized for a spinal injury he claims resulted from the beating by police two years ago.

April 29, 2001 - Anwar's corruption conviction is upheld by Malaysia's Court of Appeal.

May 24, 2001 - Mahathir refuses to allow Anwar to leave the country for medical treatment for his spinal injury.

Feb. 6, 2002 - Anwar's lawyers request a longer appeal time.

April 2, 2002 - Anwar's final appeal against his corruption conviction concludes in the Federal Court.

June 25, 2002 - Deputy Prime Minister, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, is officially named to succeed Mahathir in late 2003.

July 10, 2002 - Anwar loses his appeal against a corruption conviction.

Oct 31, 2003 - Mahathir steps down as premier, hands power to his deputy, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Sept 2, 2004 - Federal Court acquits Anwar on sodomy charge.