Thursday, July 30, 2009

Students have no qualms about bribes

KOTA BARU: Kelantan State Secretary Datuk Mohd Aiseri Alias said he was worried with a survey that showed university students had no qualms about accepting and giving bribes.

He said the survey conducted by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) showed that 30.5% of the students interviewed were willing to accept bribes if they had the power and the opportunity.

He said 15% were willing to offer bribes to facilitate business deals and 23.7% more would do likewise to prevent actions against them.

“This is alarming as the wrong perception of corruption has crept into the minds of university students, who are our future assets,” he said when opening the Public and Private Universities Enhancement Seminar organised by the Integrity Institute of Malaysia (IIM) at Pantai Cahaya Bulan here Thursday.

Mohd Aiseri did not mention the sample size and the background of the students surveyed.

He said efforts must be done to correct the perception by inculcating good values in human capital development.

On the IIM, he said it was currently implementing the second phase of the National Integrity Plan (NIP) (2008-2013) to combat corruption, fraud and abuse of power in the private and public sectors.

Earlier, IIM deputy president Mustafar Ali said the society’s perception on corruption, fraud and abuse of power had greatly improved over the past five years through the first phase of the NIP implementation (2004-2008).

Mustafar said the IIM was currently conducting a study on society’s perception of the integrity of the media with the aim of promoting national integrity through the media and journalism. -- Bernama

Director of social welfare programme claims trial

MALACCA: A 35-year-old director of the state government’s Rumahku Syurgaku division claimed trial at the Sessions Court here to falsifying a claim.

He was charged by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission with falsifying a claim for RM10,000 two years ago.

Rumahku Syurgaku (My Home is My Heaven) is the Malacca government’s social welfare programme.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Malaysians less trustful of the media

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysians believe more in news and information spread by word of mouth than what they read in the papers or hear on TV and radio, a recent survey shows.

“The explosion in consumer generated media over the last couple of years means consumers’ reliance on word of mouth in the decision-making process, either from people they know or online consumers they don’t, has increased significantly,” said Wong Mae Suen, associate director of the media group of the Nielsen Company.

The company recently carried out an online global survey, which showed that recommendations by personal acquaintances are the most trusted form of advertising in Malaysia.

Trust in opinions of those they know

The survey of internet consumers, carried out by the global information and media company, showed that more than nine out of 10 Malaysians (93%) trust the opinions of those they know, followed by editorial content (82%), brand websites (75%) and brand sponsorships (75%).

Tied in fifth position are advertisements in newspapers and on TV (74%).

Malaysians have more faith in advertisements on TV, radio and in the newspaper than in the opinions posted online by strangers, whereas globally, consumers’ online opinions rank second only to recommendations by acquaintances.

Why ads are important

The same survey also showed that more Malaysians understood the significance of advertising and sponsorship as a source of funding for cultural and sporting events (91%), and as a key contributor to economic growth (88%), than the global average (81% and 71% respectively).

Regional differences in attitudes toward advertising also surfaced in the survey.

European consumers appeared to be more skeptical of advertisements and found them less entertaining than their counterparts in Latin America, Asia-Pacific and North America.
-- Malaysian Mirror

Monday, July 27, 2009

MACC officer gets death threats

PETALING JAYA - THE lead investigator probing alleged abuse of constituency funds by Selangor assemblymen has been reassigned after receiving threats.

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission head Datuk Seri Ahmad Said Hamdan said: 'As there was a threat on his life, we took him off the case and reassigned him elsewhere. We are doing this for his own security.'

Datuk Ahmad also confirmed that the commission had received several threats, demanding that it stop investigations into the case.

He vowed that the commission would continue with the probe despite threats and controversy arising from the death of Teoh Beng Hock.

'We treat such threats as part of the job hazard. It is a big risk that we have to take in fulfilling our duties,' he said on Sunday.

Datuk Ahmad said it was good that the Government had ordered an inquest and set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry to uncover the truth behind Teoh's death.

Mr Teoh, a political secretary to Selangor state executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah, was found dead on the fifth floor of Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam on July 16, hours after giving a statement at the commission's office on the 14th floor on alleged corruption.

Mr Teoh was said to be one of the key witnesses in the investigation against several Selangor assemblymen.

Datuk Ahmad also admonished those who took issue with the commission's interview method that sometimes dragged until the early hours of the morning.

'It is not by choice that we choose to stay on until the wee hours of the morning to record statements from witnesses and suspects. But in certain cases we need to act fast to check attempts to wipe out evidence and tracks,' he said, adding that some suspects were cooperative while some could be hostile. -- THE STAR

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Evidence of graft

The funeral of Mr Teoh who died after questioning by anti-graft officials drew thousands of angry mourners, threatening to raise tensions in Malaysia. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

SHAH ALAM - A FRESH twist has emerged in the case concerning the death of Democratic Action Party (DAP) political aide Teoh Beng Hock after he was questioned by a graft agency probing misuse of funds by some Selangor state assemblymen.

Documents purportedly showing details of money being siphoned off to non-existent organisations and individuals by certain Selangor executive councillors have surfaced in an anonymous blog.

The blog also alleged that Mr Teoh was forced to be involved in the scam and that he had made copies of all the vouchers and stored them in a disk of which a copy was said to have been given to someone for safekeeping.

The allegations were immediately denied by executive councillor Ronnie Liu, who dismissed the blogger's claim that Mr Teoh had left behind evidence of wrongdoings by DAP leaders.

He said he did not believe such a disk existed.

Mr Liu also said the documents on the blog were doctored and said the details of all public spending were recorded and coupled with photographic evidence.

'We are following the procedures used by the previous Barisan Nasional government and we are doing more, by also having photo evidence,' he said, adding that all programmes also needed the approval of the district office before they can be implemented.

Documents supposedly showing names, cheque numbers and vouchers from the state assemblymen's development allocations have appeared on a blog called Truth For Teoh Beng Hock on Friday.

The blog alleged that dummy companies were paid with fake invoices for non-existent projects using the allocations.

Seven Pakatan Rakyat assemblymen in Selangor were reportedly being investigated for alleged misuse of constituency development funds.They include Mr Ean Yong Hian Wah, who was Mr Teoh's boss. -- THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Maxis to consider PM’s suggestion on relisting

KUALA LUMPUR: Maxis Communications Berhad will consider relisting soon following the suggestion by the Prime Minister for the company to relist on Bursa Malaysia.

A company spokesperson said in a statement released Saturday that a further announcement will be made at the appropriate time.

She said Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had asked the stakeholders of Maxis to consider the possibility of seeking a re-listing of Maxis on Bursa Malaysia to assist in the Government’s overall efforts to enlarge the market capitalisation of the exchange and range of large companies that attract institutional investor interest.

“When Maxis was privatised and de-listed in 2007, the stakeholders articulated the possibility of a re-listing of the company after internal re-structuring, some time in the future,” she said.

It is learnt that the initial public offer (IPO) may be launched as early as October and the company may be listed by the end of the year.

CIMB Investment Bank may be appointed to manage the IPO.

Sources said the listing is likely to be only for its Malaysian operations.

Maybank Investment Bank senior analyst Khair Mirza welcomed the move saying it was positive for the markets.

“Maxis needs a legitimate reason to return to the stock market and the call by the Prime Minister is timely.

“When it would be listed remains to be seen,” Khair said.

Last Thursday, Najib urged Maxis, the mobile-phone company bought out by T. Ananda Krishnan in 2007, to re-list in Kuala Lumpur to attract investors to the exchange.

Maxis, 25%-owned by Saudi Telecom Co, was assessing the proposal, Najib had said after returning from the Middle East.

“It has been conveyed to the management and they are considering it very seriously. Hopefully, it will happen fairly soon,’’ said Najib.

Maxis first sold shares in Malaysia in 2002. Before the company was taken private in June 2007, it was valued at about RM40bil on the stock exchange.

In its listing in 2002, Maxis shares were sold to institutional investors at RM4.85 each and retail investors at RM4.36. On its last day of trading in July 2007, the shares were traded at RM15.20 each.

Public apathy makes it hard to fight corruption: MACC

PUTRAJAYA: Weeding out corruption is extremely difficult as detractors feel there is nothing wrong with the scourge while others argue that it is a necessary evil in the society.

Despite these drawbacks, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) community education division is unperturbed in its anti-corruption awareness campaign and efforts to correct the wrong perception of the people on the menace.

"Some people argue that bribes open doors of opportunities in business, politics or even to gain promotions.

"Offenders often scoff at the ill effects of corruption on the society in the long run," said MACC community education division deputy commissioner Mohd Yusoff Akope.

"It will take years before the bad effects of corruption are felt, thus making it difficult to detect the scourge in the short term," he said in an interview.

This was further aggravated by the refusal of the people to cooperate with the MACC, he added.

"Although they want us to take immediate action against offenders, they refuse to cooperate in providing the information needed. This make our efforts to fight corruption an uphill battle," he added.

Mohd Yusoff said to overcome some of these challenges, the MACC would use creative measures to attract the public to join its educational programmes to equip them with the necessary knowledge on how to weed out corruption.

"We may include sports tournaments such as bowling in the programmes to enable MACC officers to interact with participants.

"It is not easy to educate the public, we must know how to attract their attention through quality programmes to impart the knowledge they would find useful," he said.

Mohd Yusoff said the public could provide information to the MACC face to face or anonymously through telephone, letters or email at

The identity of informers is protected under Section 65(1) and 65(2) of the MACC Act 2009 and will not be revealed even in court. However, they should not share the information with others.

On the face to face meeting, he said MACC officers were willing to meet information providers at their convenient times, even after office hours and on weekends.

Mohd Yusoff said the MACC community education division would update heads of departments and captains of industries on corrupt practices, systems and procedures.

"We will hold briefing sessions on corruption for private sector employees. For civil servants, we will have face to face meetings and induction courses.

"Civil servants are aware of corrupt practices but they fall into the trap as they are either tempted by the bribes or are after quick gains," he added.

Mohd Yusoff said more often than not, bribery among those in high places were not as rampant as those in lower ranks who took bribes to ease their financial burden.

He said the success of the public awareness campaign was subjective as it was difficult to measure.

"The best defence against corruption is self control," he said. - Bernama

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

ALONG - illegal moneylender

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said the Government was also looking into the possibility of imposing community service sentences of snatch thieves and other criminal offenders, depending on the severity of their crime.

“Community service sentencing might be an effective way of combating snatch thefts,” he added.

He also said that all district police chiefs have been instructed to call the numbers on Ah Long (illegal moneylender) advertisements in an effort to “better understand the root cause of the menace.”

- Its only political dramas..!!!! Ask the IGP who's the head of 'Along'? Musa knows him..!! Musa can talk to him..!! Musa can dinner together with him..!!

Sodomy II: Court to hear stay application on Wed

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here will hear on Wednesday the stay application by the prosecution against an earlier court ruling which ordered them to hand over certain documents to the defence team in Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s sodomy trial.

The Public Prosecutor filed for a stay on Monday.

Last Friday, the prosecution filed an appeal against the decision by High Court judge Justice Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah ordering them to comply with Anwar’s request within a week.

The next day, he ordered the prosecution to supply Anwar’s counsel with a copy of the CCTV recordings taken from the guardhouse and lifts of the Desa Damansara Condominium over three days from June 25, last year.

Among others, the judge also ordered the prosecution to supply Anwar’s legal team a copy of its witness list and all the documents that would be tendered in court as evidence.

The prosecution must also hand over a statement of facts to Anwar.

On March 10, Anwar pleaded not guilty to sodomising Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, 24, at the condominium in Bukit Damansara between 3.01pm and 4.30pm on June 26, last year.

Justice Mohamad Zabidin set July 24 for mention of the sodomy trial and an application by Anwar to strike out the charge.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

All About Najib @ Rosmah

Mr Sondakh advises Mr Najib on Indonesia.

He came into contact with Mr Najib when he was negotiating to sell a controlling interest in his telecommunications group, Excelcomindo Pratama, to Malaysia’s national telecommunications company Telekom Malaysia in 2004.

Flush with cash from the sale of his telecommunications group, Mr Sondakh, now 57, acquired hotels in Malaysia, including the Sheraton Imperial. The latter was owned by a financially troubled unit controlled by Telekom Malaysia’s parent company Khazanah Holdings, the country’s state-owned investment agency.

Since then, Mr Sondakh has emerged as an informal personal adviser to Mr Najib on matters related to Indonesia.

Mr Omar was Mr Najib’s aide when he was DPM.

The one-time special assistant to Mr Najib owns a business consultancy called Ethos & Co.

Mr Omar, who is 38 years old, also has links with Mr Sondakh.

The two struck up a relationship several years ago when Mr Omar was assigned by Mr Najib, then Deputy PM, to build a network in Indonesia, which was identified as a potential investment destination for Malaysian companies, particularly state-controlled enterprises.

Businessmen who know Mr Omar say that he is being tapped for strategic advice.

He is also said to be the architect of the Premier’s ‘1Malaysia’ slogan - a call for a more united Malaysia, which has become the central theme of Mr Najib’s first 100 days in office.

But Mr Omar, who graduated from Oxford, has been ensnared in a controversy in recent weeks after the board of the national oil corporation Petronas rebuffed a proposal by Mr Najib to appoint his young aide as a director.

Bankers and lawyers familiar with the situation say that the board of directors of Petronas opposed Mr Omar’s position because he failed to honour his scholarship agreement with the oil corporation after it financed his studies in Britain.

After graduating in the mid-1990s, he worked briefly in Petronas and another government-linked corporation before joining consultancy firm McKinsey.

He left it to set up Ethos in early 2002 with several friends, and two years later was appointed Mr Najib’s special officer in the DPM’s Office.

Mr Omar did not respond to requests for comment.

Read More

Monday, July 13, 2009

Kit Siang urges minister not to renew IGP’s contract

PETALING JAYA, July 12 — The Inspector-General of Police (IGP)'s current contract ends in September and opposition strongman Lim Kit Siang is applying pressure on the government, specifically the home minister, not to renew it for allegedly failing to reduce crime rates.

According to statistics provided by the veteran parliamentarian, there were 150,000 cases of crime in 2004. This figure ballooned to over 200,000 in both 2007 and 2008 despite Parliament tripling funds allocated to the police under the Ninth Malaysia Plan to RM8 billion.

Lim said that this shows the failure of the IGP Tan Sri Musa Hassan to stem the tide of rising crime cases despite an increase in resources, and called on minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein not to renew Musa’s contract.

"The police are losing the war against crime but the home minister appears to support the renewal of the IGP's contract even though he has failed as IGP and failed to implement the recommendations of the Royal Police Commission report ," he said in a keynote address at a DAP workshop today.

"The report had stated that even 150,000 crime cases was too high and will frighten investors and make Malaysia an unsafe place for citizens and suggested that crime be reduced by 20 per cent in 12 months. Instead the crime rates have gone up!"

Musa retired in 2007, but his contract was extended for another two years after he was cleared of corruption charges.

Many Malaysians have complained about the high incidence of crime in the country. The prime minister yesterday announced that fighting crime would be one of the focus areas of his administration and that concrete plans on reducing the crime rate will be revealed by the end of the month.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Ku Li says country needs a ‘New Deal’, not ‘1 Malaysia’

KUALA LUMPUR, July 10 – On the eve of the prime minister’s first 100 days in office, Umno veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah said tonight that Malaysians should evaluate 1 Malaysia against issues like “the fact of constitutional failure in Perak” and “the stench of corruption” in the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) project.

Tengku Razaleigh, who made an unsuccessful bid to contest the Umno presidency, also asked Malaysians to consider the “cynical political plays on racial unity against assurances that national unity is the priority,” when judging the Barisan Nasional (BN) government elected into power last March.

The former finance minister also gave short shrift to the PM’s economic reforms, and argued for a “Malaysian New Deal” without race based considerations in order for the country to be talent-driven and competitive.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak marks 100 days in office as prime minister tomorrow. In that time he has put in place reforms in the capital markets and released a number of Internal Security Act detainees.

But he has also presided over a major crackdown on dissent while the Perak power grab saga continues to be played out.

In recent days, one of his most ardent backers Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad also began to criticise the current government, particularly on the reversal of the policy to teach science and mathematics in English.

Speaking to public relations consultants at a dinner here tonight, Tengku Razaleigh pointed out that the current government was elected into power on March 8, 2008, and not 100 days ago.

He also argued that Najib had effectively been in power since last year when Tun Abdullah Badawi’s departure schedule had been announced.

“The issues before the present BN government are not transformed overnight with a change of the man at the top,” he said.

In a scathing criticism of the BN government, he cited the recommendations made in 2004 by the Royal Commission to Enhance the Operations and Management of the Police and pointed out that despite the allocation of RM9 billion as a result of the panel’s conclusion, “there has been no dent on our crime problem.”

“Security is about more than just catching criminals out there. It is also about the integrity of our own people and processes.

“It is above all about uprooting corruption and malpractice in government agencies, especially in law enforcement agencies,” he said.

The key recommendation of the panel, he pointed out, was the formation of an Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission, but it had been shelved.

Citing another example, he said the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam video clip “might as well have not been conducted” because its findings had been completely ignored.

Tengku Razaleigh said that Malaysians should start trusting “less in personalities and more in policies.”

“Look less to politics and more to principles, less to rhetoric and more to tangible outcomes, less to the government of the day and more to enduring institutions,” he said.

In his speech, the former finance minister also spoke at length about the country’s affirmative action policies, the NEP and how he felt embarrassed that after 50 years of independence, “we are still talking about bringing Malaysians together.”

“Curiously, although the policy was formulated … for a finite period, in our political consciousness it has grown into an all encompassing and permanent framework that defines who we are.

“The NEP ended in 1991 when it was terminated and replaced by the New Development Policy, but eighteen years on, we are still in its hangover and speak confusingly about liberalising it.”

He said that it was a crushing indictment of the mediocrity of leadership that the NEP is considered sacrosanct and that departures from it are big strides.

“The NEP is over and we have not had the courage to tell people this.”

In a veiled attack against his own party, Tengku Razaleigh pointed out that the NEP had been systematically appropriated by a small political and business class to enrich itself and perpetuate power.

“We must break the stranglehold of communal politics and racial policy if we want to be a place where an economy driven by ideas and skills can flourish.

“We can do much better than cling to the bright ideas of 40 years ago as if they were dogma, and forget our duty to come up with the bright ideas for our own time.

“We need a Malaysian New Deal based on the same universal concerns on which the NEP was originally formulated, but designed for a new era.”

The Umno veteran also called for a fair and equitable political and economic order, founded on equal citizenship which he said was the only possible basis for a united Malaysia and a talent-driven economy.

Pakatan leaders: Delay in scrapping PPSMI damaging

KUALA LUMPUR, July 10 — Pakatan Rakyat leaders blasted the government for the delay in the dismantling of the teaching maths and science in English programme (PPSMI), claiming it would only worsen the damage already done by the initiative.

The DAP's Lim Kit Siang, in a statement, said the decision to discard PPSMI only by 2012 was an irresponsible and unprofessional decision "as it would turn millions of students into guinea pigs of a failed experiment twice in a decade."

He said students in Form 1 this year will continue to be taught maths and science in English until Form 3 in 2011 after already having spent the past six years in primary school under the PPSMI.

"However, when they come to Form 4 in 2012, they will become 'guinea pigs' a second time, when the medium of instruction for these two subjects is switched back to Bahasa Malaysia in line with the Cabinet decision," lamented Lim.

This means those students will have to cope with maths and science in Bahasa Malaysia when they sit for the important SPM examinations.

" And it's not only this batch of students who will be victimised and made second-time guinea pigs, but an entire generation of school-going children from 2003 to 2013 and beyond," stressed Lim.

The DAP veteran also took a swipe at MCA and MIC for their failure to convince the Umno heads of government to continue with the teaching of the two subjects in English to Form 4 and 5 students despite admitting that it was the best solution.

Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yasin said two days ago that the programme, which cost RM4 billion to implement, must first complete the second phase of its six-year cycle before the government can discard it.

He said this would give the government, students and teachers ample time to make preparation for the changes.

PKR deputy president Syed Husin Ali, backing his PR comrade, described the delay as absurd and irresponsible and said PPSMI should have never been implemented in the first place.

Syed Husin, who leads the left-wing faction in a centralist-dominated PKR, also blasted the government for its failure to give concrete reasons for the delay in jettisoning the PPSMI.

While the political parties bicker about it, society at large remained divided over the subject with those from the urban areas demanding that the programme be continued while those in the rural areas supporting its abolition.

And parties from both sides have so far failed to come up with an alternative that would garner common support from the diversely opinionated public. - malaysian insider

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Khir Toyo is paying a RM15,000 instalment per month for his mansion

SHAH ALAM: Former Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo is paying a RM15,000 instalment per month for his mansion in Section 7 here and he says he can afford it as he has gone into business.

“I don’t depend on my state assemblyman’s allowance to service my loan with HSBC as I have other sources of income,” he said.

He was responding to DAP Sekinchan assemblyman Ng Suee Lim’s query on how Dr Mohd Khir could afford the monthly payments on the house with his assemblyman’s allowance of about RM8,000 a month.

Dr Mohd Khir said he had ventured into business after the general election last year.

“I couldn’t go into business when I was Mentri Besar because it was prohibited. Now that I am only an assemblyman, I am allowed to hold jobs and manage businesses,” he added.

Dr Mohd Khir said he owned a pharmacy as well as a dental clinic.

“I have also ventured into other businesses and the income I get from them is more than enough for me to make monthly payments on my house,” he said.

He said Ng should know better that assemblymen needed other sources of income since he (Ng) owned a couple of grocery shops.

He said he expected the topic of his house to be hotly debated at the state legislative assembly which begins meeting Wednesday.

Dr Mohd Khir also said that the Pakatan Rakyat elected representatives should concentrate on solving problems faced by the people instead picking on non-issues.

“There are many issues they have failed to resolve, especially problems faced by the Indian community in the state. They should look into this first,” he said.

However, Ng told a press conference at the State Secretariat building here that he was prepared to face legal action from the former Mentri Besar.

He said he had obtained the necessary information from several contractors who had worked on the mansion.

Ng also warned that the expose on the house was only the beginning as more information regarding Dr Khir’s wealth would be revealed soon.

On a lighter note, Ng said he had received offers on Dr Mohd Khir’s house and requested for an official letter appointing him to sell the place.

He also asked for the keys to enable him to show potential buyers what they would be paying for.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Clear Corruption

The transaction of North Korea’s suspected shipment of weapons to Myanmar, currently being carried on a freighter tracked by the U.S. Navy, was planned to be paid through a bank in Malaysia and the visit by a U.S. envoy to Malaysia this weekend will focus on ways to cut off the payment transaction, Yonhap reported Saturday citing an unnamed “high-level” source.

“Kim Jong-il will have a hard time collecting his money,” the high-level source said, speaking strictly on condition of anonymity. The source declined to identify the bank due to diplomatic concerns.

Philip Goldberg, the U.S. coordinator for the implementation of a U.N. Security Council resolution that punishes North Korea for its May 25 nuclear test, is scheduled to arrive in Malaysia on Sunday.

The visit comes after the White House said late last month that U.S. President Barack Obama discussed North Korea and financial regulations with Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razakon by phone.

It also comes as North Korea’s Kang Nam freighter is apparently returning home after being tracked by a U.S. Navy destroyer that suspects it is carrying cargo banned under the resolution.

The U.N. Resolution 1874, which reinforced sanctions that were imposed after North Korea conducted its first nuclear test in 2006, bans Pyongyang from exporting any type of weapons. It also bans nations from making financial transactions with North Korea.

According to another source in Seoul, the Kang Nam is believed to be carrying small Soviet-era arms such as AK-47 rifles and RPG-7 anti-tank launchers.

AK-47s and RPG-7s are two of the most widely traded Soviet-era weapon types that North Korea is capable of producing on its own.

The U.S. believes there are “multiple” North Korean ships used to export weapons.
-- The Korea Times

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

KL scraps bumis equity

KUALA LUMPUR - MALAYSIA has announced major steps to liberalise its economy, including the scrapping of a rule that requires publicly listed companies to set aside 30 per cent equity for bumiputeras.

Foreigners will also find it easier to buy property under the measures announced by Prime Minister Najib Razak on Tuesday.

Datuk Seri Najib said the 30 per cent rule - long part of an affirmative action programme for the country's ethnic majority - was not helping poor Malays or the economy. Malaysia's economy is expected to shrink by up to 5 per cent this year amid a global downturn.

'It is not a time for sentiment or half measures but to renew our courage and pragmatism, to take the necessary bold measures to advance the national interests for the long-term benefit of all Malaysians,' he told an investment conference. 'The world is changing quickly and we must be ready to change with it or risk being left behind.'

The liberalisation moves unveiled on Tuesday also crimp the powers of the Foreign Investment Committee (FIC), a government body with wide discretionary powers to vet proposed investments.

One of its tasks was to ensure that the 30 per cent bumiputera equity guideline is complied with. But it has often been criticised by foreign investors for the opaque way in which it operates.

Mr Najib said that he wanted to create a more equitable system. 'We want to be fair to all communities. No one must feel marginalised. It is a tricky balancing act but it is doable.'

Listed companies will still be required to offer 25 per cent of shares to the public, and half of this must be sold to Malays. A private equity fund will also be set up to boost Malay equity, with an initial capital of RM500 million (S$206 million).

Such moves are still seen as necessary as the Malay share of corporate wealth currently stands at 19.4 per cent, a far cry from the '30 per cent by 2010' target envisaged by the government when it launched its New Economic Policy in the 1970s to give Malays a bigger stake.

Despite the expected unhappiness from the Malay ground, the measures come at a critical time as investment inflows have plunged since last year.