Skip to content

Define ‘high income’ before launching petrol plan – FOMCA

October 25, 2014

Fomca urges government to define ‘high income’ before implementing MyKad-for-petrol plan.

petrol-upThe government should provide a clear definition on those referred to as “high income earners” before implementing new regulations on the subsidised RON95 petrol.

Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca) deputy president, Mohd Yusof Abdul Rahman said this was because the definition of this group differed according to the situation and where they were located.

While describing the announcement as something much awaited, Yusof said the rich were those who were not the least affected by the rise in costs.

“Those earning RM5,000 to RM10,000 are still pressured by the rising cost of living in the city,” he said when contacted by Bernama.

“Firstly, the government has to narrow down on those eligible to receive the subsidy, secondly, remove from the list the industries not qualified for the subsidy, and thirdly, the government needs to fix the leakages and then only, turn to the domestic consumers,” he said.

Yesterday, Deputy Finance Minister Ahmad Maslan said the selling price of RON95 petrol for the high-income group would be in accordance with the market price starting in June next year.

Ahmad said the mechanism and method of implementation were being finalised by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism using MyKad or other cards.

Low and middle-income earners will continue to enjoy RON95 at the subsidised price.

Economic analyst, Mohd Yusof Kassim said the move by the government would bring significant benefits to low and middle-income earners and make a positive impact on national development.

The savings from the measures taken could be channelled to projects beneficial to the people and national income distributed to the middle-income group, he said. – Bernama

Causeway toll ‘tit-for-tat’ will hurt Malaysia more than Singapore, The Economist says….But we say: What say you PM @NajibRazak?

October 24, 2014

Despite protests by transport companies and frequent commuters of the Causeway, Malaysia raised the toll fees for cars leaving the country at its southern gateway in August with taxis paying RM8.20 for a round-trip while heavy good vehicles are charged RM33.30. — File pic

Despite protests by transport companies and frequent commuters of the Causeway, Malaysia raised the toll fees for cars leaving the country at its southern gateway in August with taxis paying RM8.20 for a round-trip while heavy good vehicles are charged RM33.30. — File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 24  MMO― Malaysia has more to lose in the “tit-for-tat” Causeway toll fee hike than Singapore, The Economist said in its latest print edition, pointing out that the bridge road between the two Southeast nations accounts for roughly half of this country’s foreign visitors.

The London-based international current affairs news weekly also pointed out that the higher rates hurts the pockets of Malaysians travelling across the Causeway for work.

To make things worse, The Economist noted that Johor lawmakers are now also threatening an additional levy on Singaporean drivers in Malaysia.

“Malaysia has most to lose from the tit-for-tat,” the weekly said in an article in its latest print edition.

Despite protests by transport companies and frequent commuters of the Causeway, Malaysia raised the toll fees for cars leaving the country at its southern gateway in August with taxis paying RM8.20 for a round-trip while heavy good vehicles are charged RM33.30.

The Singapore Land Transport Authority then announced in September that it would match Malaysia’s prices on the oldest bridge linking the two countries that were once part of the same federation, adding that it would revise the rates if and when Malaysia does.

Johor’s lawmakers have sounded warning bells over the hike, noting that the 470 per cent increase will pose a strain on small traders, besides hitting Malaysia’s tourism and the Iskandar development region, which is heavily reliant on its closeness to Singapore for investments.

“The Iskandar Development Region… is as good as gone. There will definitely be an impact on the national economy,” Kluang MP Liew Chin Tong said recently.

The Economist agreed the toll hikes would affect Johor’s burgeoning Iskandar region, noting that early optimism in the returns from the economic zone is already fading amid the looming housing glut.

“Malaysia has poured money and effort into Iskandar,” the weekly said.

By developing the economic zone, which spans an area about three times the size of Singapore, The Economist said Putrajaya had hoped to “snag a little more of the magic dust” from its rich neighbour.

The plan worked for a time, the weekly said, noting that rich Singaporeans were happy at having a cheaper option to park their investments.

“Until recently, Iskandar’s cheap condominiums seemed like good bets when Singapore’s own property prices were shooting up.

“Singapore hopes factories can move to Johor, freeing up space and resources for higher-value businesses,” The Economist said.

Malaysians in the meantime, it said, continued to commute daily from Johor, reporting to jobs across the Causeway where they could earn in Singaporean currency.

But housebuilding in Iskandar has now outpaced job creation, The Economist said, a phenomenon that observers have agreed will soon result in a property glut.

Citing Malaysian data, Singapore’s main newspaper Straits Times reported recently that there are 118,191 homes under construction in Johor, and another 168,371 planned as at the fourth quarter of last year.

Adding to fears of the looming oversupply of homes, The Economist pointed out that the suspension of corporate-ownership rules that favour the Malays, Malaysia’s ethnic majority, in Iskandar has also angered the locals.

Their grievances, the weekly said, cannot be ignored, particularly as the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) government had lost significant numbers to the opposition during the last general election.

“At present the costs are manageable,” The Economist wrote in reference to the Causeway toll prices, quoting a taxi driver on the Causeway.

“But what will happen next year?” it asked.

- See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/causeway-toll-tit-for-tat-will-hurt-malaysia-more-than-singapore-the-econom#sthash.V4RNDalH.dpuf

Major Zaidi’s guilty of having courage, court told…..You Will Never Walk Alone…We’re All With You!

October 20, 2014

Oct 20, 2014

By Radzi Razak (MKini)

Royal Malaysian Air Force Major Zaidi Ahmad’s only crime is his courage when he publicly spoke out on problems with the electoral process, said defence lawyer Hanipa Maidin.

“His only crime is being courageous. He should not be taken action against, he should be given a medal instead,” Hanipa told a military court today in his final submission.

Zaidi in the last general election revealed that the Election Commission’s (EC) indelible ink used on his finger during the polls process could be washed off.

He was subsequently court marshalled on seven charges for disobedience under Section 51 of the Armed Forces Act 1972.

Among the charges include making statement to the media without the Defence Ministry’s authorisation and use of military channels

Hanipa (right) argued that the prosecution failed to produce clear evidence to support the charges.

He said Zaidi had only made the media statement in his capacity as a registered voter and therefore did not violate military law.

‘Military has no power to investigate’

“The indelible ink is not supplied by the military and it does not have power to investigate because the election and the ink are under the Election Commission,” Hanipa told the court hearing at the Sungai Besi Royal Malaysian Air Force base today.

Three of the five charges Zaidi is facing are making public statements without authorisation, leaking official information to the media and using military channels without approval.

The other more charges, for which he has yet to be tried, concern text messages sent out by Zaidi, which are said to contain political undertones.

Meanwhile, the prosecution, led by Major Ahmad Azam Soip, only made its winding up arguments on the first three charges.

Ahmad said the prosecution will leave the fourth and fifth charges, which concern unauthorised used of Armed Forces channels, to the courts to decide.

After the winding up arguments, presiding judge Colonel Saadon Hasnan said the court will anounce whether there is a primae facie case against Zaidi at 2pm next Monday.

Pakatan support rebounds, surges to 43%, survey shows – UMCEDEL.

October 20, 2014

BY ZULKIFLI SULONG, FEATURES AND ANALYSIS EDITOR

Published: 20 October 2014

The Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) support in Selangor has rebounded to 43%, according to a recent survey, after taking a beating five months ago largely due to infighting in the opposition coalition.

Support for Barisan Nasional (BN), meanwhile, dropped by five percentage points from 25% last May, the survey conducted by Universiti Malaya’s Centre for Democracy and Elections (UMcedel) showed.

The survey, which was carried out three days after the new Selangor menteri besar, Mohamed Azmin Ali, was sworn in, also found that 28% were unsure about both coalitions.

The results for PR were an improvement over UMcedel’s survey in May this year, which saw support for the coalition in the state plunge to 35% a year after winning Selangor in the 2013 general election.

But ominously for BN, its support base has not grown since the survey in May, which showed that only 20% to 25% of respondents supported the coalition.

“This shows that despite PR’s crisis, the rakyat is still with them. The voters’ response shows that they are still not confident that BN/Umno can be a better alternative, and that their anger towards BN has still not died down,” said a source in UMcedel.

UMcedel’s latest survey, conducted from September 26 to 28, also revealed that 48% of those polled said they wanted PAS to remain in PR while only 19% wanted the Islamist party to break away and another 22% were unsure.

The survey polled 1,165 respondents in all 22 Parliament constituencies in Selangor, covering all races. The survey was carried out by 36 enumerators and four supervisors from UMcedel within just two days.

The internal turmoil in PR began after PKR initiated its Kajang Move, which saw Kajang assemblyman, Liew Chin Cheh, stepping down to allow PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to contest the seat and become Selangor menteri besar.

However, PAS did not agree with the move as it wanted Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim to remain the menteri besar, causing the entire episode to drag on for nine months, during which time the ties between the three parties worsened.

Athough the Selangor impasse was finally over with the swearing-in of Azmin as menteri besar on September 23, the tension within PAS did not subside.

Things came to a head in the party when its president, Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, ordered those who wished to challenge his position to leave the party.

“Whoever wants to become an imam, you are better off looking for another piece of land, build your own mosque, and become an imam,” he had said during the PAS annual general assembly last month.

In the same speech, he had claimed that there were “brokers” and “stooges” in his party, in a reference to the two PAS Selangor assemblymen who had pledged support PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail as the new menteri besar ahead of the party’s decision on the matter.

Both Saari Sungib (Hulu Klang) and Hasnul Baharuddin (Morib) were suspended from the party for a year by the central committee a week ago.

Since the crisis began, two schools of thought have emerged in PAS: one which wishes for it to remain in PR, and another, led by the clerics, which wants it to leave the coalition.

However, UMcedel’s latest study showed that the people of Selangor still supported PR and wanted PAS to remain in the pact that was formed after the 2008 polls. – October 20, 2014.
– See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/pakatan-support-rebounds-surges-to-43-survey-shows#sthash.0tvJHTgP.dpuf

PRESS RELEASE : Malaysia’s Bid for the UN Security Council – INSTITUT RAKYAT

October 15, 2014

15 OCT, 2014: –

Why is Malaysia pushing so hard for a seat on the United Nations’ Security Council? What does it hope to achieve? And, how much has it spent on this quest?

This Thursday the United Nations will hold a vote on five seats up for grabs on its Security Council, which has the power to impose sanctions, apply military action, and recommend the appointment of the U.N. Secretary-General.

Besides the five permanent seats accorded to the post-World War II big powers of the U.S., China, UK, France and Russia, there are ten non-permanent seats with two year terms. The last time Malaysia held a seat was 16 years ago.

Six countries – Angola, Malaysia, New Zealand, Spain, Turkey and Venezuela – are competing for the five seats. Angola, Venezuela, and Malaysia are expected to be shoo-ins for seats on the Council as they have secured the support of their respective regional blocs of Africa, Latin America, and Asia. New Zealand, Spain, and Turkey will be racing neck-to-neck for the final two seats.

International politics is no less murky and cut-throat than Malaysian politics. Influence is bought, sold, and traded. Competition for the non-permanent seats on the Security Council is often fierce because the rewards are great.

A Harvard Business School paper, “How Much Is a Seat on the Security Council Worth? Foreign Aid and Bribery at the United Nations” by Ilyana Kuziemko and Eric Werker found that “a country’s U.S. aid increases by 59 percent and its U.N. aid by 8 percent when it rotates onto the council.” The flow of money increases in years when “key diplomatic events take place”. The flow of aid from the U.S. is more pronounced in years when the U.S. is engaged in major overseas invasions. The increase in U.N. aid is strongly tied to UNICEF, the children’s fund, which is dominated by the U.S.

Thus, Security Council membership appears to allow countries to extract rents in the form of U.S. aid bribes in addition to the other political bargaining chips that can be traded with other countries. Countries who table resolutions at the Security Council usually prefer to pass them unanimously; achieving this can take considerable diplomatic capital.

Malaysia has been lobbying intensely for a Security Council seat over the last few years.

Prime Minister Najib Razak unveiled his Global Movement of Moderates (GMM) in 2010. GMM has primarily been an international campaign because any domestic association of the Najib Administration with moderation has been undermined by perceived close ties between an increasingly right-leaning Umno and NGOs calling for aggressive responses to inter-ethnic issues, such as PERKASA and ISMA.

Moderation stands in stark contrast to the Prime Minister’s heavy-handed use of the Sedition Act to suppress speech by journalists, academics, students, lawyers, and politicians.

The image of moderation put forward by Najib’s GMM plays on a U.S. stereotype of Malaysia as a moderate Muslim nation that is compliant with U.S. geopolitical interests, in contrast to Muslim-majority countries such as Iran and Syria.

Najib and his GMM were featured in a 2013 event hosted by the influential New York-based Council on Foreign Relations, an organisation that boasts many past U.S. Secretaries of State and National Security Advisors as members.

The government-linked media has reported that Wisma Putra has been conducting high-level visits around the world to lobby for a Security Council seat. Delegates have reportedly traveled as far as Samoa and Kazakhstan to secure support.

Najib’s foreign policy thus far has been rational and pragmatic in that he has recognised that both the U.S. and China are crucial to Malaysia’s geopolitical future. He has tried very hard to please both of them with reciprocal state visits.

However, when two elephants fight in the jungle, the mouse deer risks being crushed between them. Washington-based analysts suggest that Najib is presenting himself as an Asia-Pacific outpost for the U.S. in relation to China while attempting to placate China on the other hand.

The U.S. wants Malaysia to sign on to its controversial Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPPA) regional trade and investment pact, an agreement widely seen as an attempt to ringfence China in the Asia-Pacific.

China is a far more important trading partner to Malaysia than is the U.S., but it has also made aggressive territorial claims on James Shoal/Zhengmu Reef 80km off the coast of Sarawak and 1,800km away from China.

Since both the U.S. and China hold Permanent seats on the U.N. Security Council it is likely that Malaysia has made promises and assurances to both.

While increased diplomatic influence for Malaysia is welcome, there is a question about the domestic costs it may incur.

If Malaysia receives increased flows of aid from the U.S. how will this affect our stance on the Palestine-Israel conflict? Is signing on to the TPPA one of the bargaining chips?

How much has been spent on lobbying for Malaysia’s Security Council seat? Malaysia ranks amongst the world’s most corrupt countries as raised in surveys by Ernst & Young and KPMG. Costing for the Security Council campaign appears absent from the Budget of recent years.

A Security Council seat could also be leveraged as a bargaining tool to reduce foreign criticism of Malaysian human rights, especially by the U.S. and in fora such as the U.N. Human Rights Commission. The Najib Administration has moved from the repression of religious minorities to a full-blown crackdown using the Sedition Act. If the plan to incarcerate Pakatan Rakyat leader Anwar Ibrahim goes ahead then Malaysia must be prepared to face international criticism. It is an opportune time for Umno’s repressive domestic policy to be backed by international diplomatic capital.

YIN SHAO LOONG
Executive Director
INSTITUT RAKYAT
Petaling Jaya

British Parliament votes in favor of (symbolic motion) a Palestinian statehood recognition (274-12)

October 14, 2014

The Jerusalem Post
Britain’s House of Commons votes 274-12 in favor of symbolic motion that stands as initial stage of UK recognition of a Palestinian state.

House of Commons London.
House of Commons London.

British House of Commons in London.. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Britain’s House of Commons voted in favor of recognizing a Palestinian state late Monday in a move that will not alter the government’s stance on the issue, but that carries symbolic value for Palestinians in their pursuit of statehood.

Lawmakers in Britain’s lower house of parliament voted by 274 to 12 to pass a non-binding motion stating: “That this House believes that the Government should recognize the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel as a contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution.”

Britain does not classify “Palestine” as a state, but says it could do so at any time if it believed it would help peace efforts between the Palestinians and Israel. Government ministers were told to abstain and the non-binding vote will not force Britain to recognise a Palestinian state.

Nearly 50 MPs were in the chamber to hear pro-Palestinian Labor Backbencher Grahame Morris open the four hour debate which he said was a chance for the UK to atone for its historic mistakes – a clear reference to the Balfour Declaration.

He and party colleagues knew in advance that with the unprecedented backing of the Labor party – as traditionally the political parties do not tell MPs which way to vote in what is supposed to be backbench business – his motion calling for the British Government to recognise a Palestinian State would be passed, probably by a substantial majority.

Several senior pro-Israel Labor party MPs including a number of members of the shadow cabinet – angered by the decision of party leader Ed Miliband and Shadow Foreign Secretary Douglas Alexander to order Labor backbenchers to back the Morris motion by issuing a ‘three line whip’ – were understood to be ready to defy the instruction and abstain on the vote which was due at 10 p.m. UK time, midnight in Israel.

Former Labor Foreign Secretary Jack Straw successfully moved a manuscript amendment which stated that recognition of a state should be agreed as a ‘contribution’ towards a two state solution. He said if Israel had its way and recognition should be delayed until an agreement is reached between Israel and the Palestinians, that – in effect – would amount to giving Israel a veto over Palestinian statehood.

The Palestinians, he reminded the Commons had no say or veto over the establishment of the State of Israel.

A counter argument was put forward by another former Foreign Secretary the Conservative Party’s Malcolm Rifkind who told MPs that it was not possible to recognize a state which has no boundaries, no army, nor a government. The Palestinians he said, currently have two administrations and simply did not qualify for ‘recognition’.

Also he noted wryly, Britain did not recognize the State of Israel until 1950 when its borders and government and been well established.

An amendment which had been proposed on an all party basis by members of the Conservative and Labor Friends of Israel and which would have made recognition conditional on the successful conclusion of a two state solution negotiation, was not selected by the Commons Speaker John Bercow.

As a result MPs were instead faced with a choice of voting for recognition “as a contribution” towards peace or voting against. Many Conservative MPs – who along with the Government Ministers were given a ‘free vote’ by their party managers – stayed away – in effect abstaining.

A leading supporter of Israel Guto Bebb summed the political choice he faced in an article in Monday’s Daily Telegraph, pointing out that regardless of the vote, the British Government’s position would not change and international opinion would not be swayed by a few squabbling MPs on Britain’s opposition benches.

He suggested that he and his Conservative colleagues should stay away from the vote whilst the Labor Party “turns the Commons chamber into its own policy forum”. And with it being the first day back from a recess, many MPs appeared to have taken a similar decision rendering the voting figures relatively meaningless.

That argument however was countered by Jack Straw, who made clear the symbolism of the vote regardless of how it was achieved was far more important and the message to all beyond the UK would be very clear.

Both the government Middle East Minister Tobias Ellwood and the Labor Shadow spokesman Ian Lucas were due to address MPs during the debate, with the Minister expected to say that the UK wanted to see the establishment of a viable Palestinian state living side by side with Israel.

But he was due to tell MPs that only through a negotiated process and an end to the occupation could Palestinian statehood become a reality. As far as the current government was concerned they would choose when it was the most appropriate time to grant recognition and that would be when they considered it would best provide for a full peace.

The vote therefore was expected to give the Palestinian lobby both in the UK and further afield a feeling of historic victory but being symbolic and non binding, as Grahame Morris noted, it would not change the facts on the ground.

Only if the Labor Party were to be successful in next May’s general election, would they be in a position to implement the Commons vote and judging by the latest opinion polls it would be anybody’s guess in the current political climate as to who might take over in 10, Downing Street. But at present it appears more likely that David Cameron with his more balanced approach to the Arab-Israel conflict will be there and he will – in all probability just ignore last night’s vote as he has done on the three other occasions backbench votes have resulted in defeats for his government’s policies.

Tiada ‘Wow-Factor’ dan Bajet ‘Roll-Over’ 2015

October 11, 2014

HARAKAHDAILY | 11 Oktober 2014.

KUALA LUMPUR: Pengarah Pusat Penyelidikan dan Pembangunan PAS, Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad menyifatkan Bajet 2015 yang dibentangkan Perdana Menteri semalam, sebagai menaymbung yang lama, semacam sekadar ‘melepas batuk ditangga’.

Ini kerana melalui bajet 2015 kata beliau, Datuk Seri Najib dilihat megetahui masalah ekonomi negara, tetapi malangnya tiada ‘Wow Factor’ yang dibawa Najib sebagai penyelesaian kepada masalah itu.

Apa yang ada katanya, hanya lebih kepada ‘Roll-Over’ atau bajet mengulangi perkara sama termasuk soal peningkatan hutang dan sebagainya.

Beliau berpendapat, Datuk Seri Najib Razak sepatutnya menggunakan Bajet 2015 secara baik bagi mendidik rakyat tentang kedudukan ekonomi dan kewangan negara yang kini berdepan dengan risiko untuk diturunkan Penarafan Negara atau Sovereign Rating oleh Badan Penarafan Antarabangsa.

“Puncanya ialah hutang kerajaan pusat terkini RM586 bilion. 16 tahun defisit fiskal dan jaminan pinjaman oleh kerajaan ke atas GLC atau ‘contingent liabilities’ ke paras RM157 bilion.

“Pada awal pembentangan nampak macam beliau sudah insaf tetapi jelas bahawa langkah konsolidasi fiskal hanya ‘melepas batuk ditangga’ ketika perbelanjaan mewah diperuntukkan semacam  tidak berdepan apa-apa masalah,” katanya.

Menurut Dzulkefly yang juga AJK PAS Pusat, belanja mewah itu tetap macam lama termasuk peruntukan besar kepada Jabatan Perdana Menteri iaitu RM19 bilion dan Permata (RM711j). Projek mega tetap ada,beberapa lbuhraya seperti Pan Borneo Highway yang sudah masuk enam kali disebut dalam bajet, projek-projek hospital dan infrastruktur, pelbagai insentif-insentif cukai dan sebagainya. Sumber dana pastinya bukan dari ‘Wang Terkumpul atau Consolidated Fund’. Tentunya dari pinjaman yang akan dibuat diluar peruntukan Bajet atau dipanggil “Off-Balance Sheet Spending” atau ‘Off Budget Spending’.

“Perkara yang baik tetap baik, tapi sengaja berbelanja besar kerana takut hilang sokongan adalah sangat tidak bertanggungjawab. Najib masih belum sedar rupanya tentang disiplin fiskal.

Dzulkefly juga melahirkan kebimbangan, apakah Bajet 2015 ini akan mengalami nasib yang sama dengan yang lain dari segi ketirisan dan kebocoran yang akhirnya akan menggagalkan pencapaian program-program yang baik.

Sebab itu katanya, Pakatan Rakyat turut membentangkan belanjawan alternatif sebagai penyemak imbang agar wujud persaingan sihat. – HARAKAHDAILY 11/10/2014

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 57,618 other followers