Friday, 30 August 2013

Authorities to go after gang assets

The authorities are not just going after 49 organisations that the Home Ministry identified as secret societies. They will hit them where it hurts – by freezing and even seizing their assets.

The 49 groups have been gazetted as unlawful to enable the Insolvency Department to “wound up all their assets and properties and block all forms of transactions”, according to the Home Ministry.

Its secretary-general Datuk Abdul Rahim Mohd Radzi said the triad groups had 40,313 members nationwide and their activities range from drug trafficking to murder, extortion, vehicle repossession and gang warfare.

He told a press conference here yesterday that the majority of members were Indians (28,926) followed by Chinese (8,214), Malays (1,923), Sarawakians (921) and Sabahans (329).

The gazette which took effect on Wednesday was made under a provision of Section 5 of the Societies Act 1966 (Act 335) which gives the Home Minister the authority to declare a society unlawful.

“It provides for the arrest and prosecution of people who use the names, symbols and premises of the gangs or identify themselves as members,” said Abdul Rahim.

Among the most active triad societies named is Gang 04, an Indian-majority group whose 5,440 members in Kedah, Penang, Johor and Kuala Lumpur are known to be involved in drug pushing, extortion, car repossession and crimes involving firearms or dangerous objects.

Abdul Rahim said the others included Gang 08, believed to be formed in the 1970s in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, and Double 7, set up in November 2005, which now has 1,053 members in 28 locations throughout the peninsula.

Abdul Rahim said that some of the recent shootings could be related to the gangs.

He said the police would investigate if there were foreigners, students or politicians supporting triad activity.

He said that some of the gangs used legitimate businesses to make and launder money.

“Double 7, for example, ran food premises and entertainment outlets and sold merchandise bearing their triad symbol ... they all want to make quick money,” added Abdul Rahim.

Bukit Aman gambling, vice and secret societies division chief Senior Asst Comm Datuk Jalil Hassan spoke on the hold that secret societies had on some people.

“A long time ago in Sarawak, they (triads) even controlled the prices of eggs and sugar in Miri and Sibu and caused a disturbance to public order there,” he told reporters.

He also said the symbols of the 49 triad organisations would be unveiled by the Inspector-General of Police later.

Posted on 11:48 | Categories:

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Fifty years of women's activism

The National Council of Women’s Organisations (NCWO) has led the way in raising women’s status in Malaysia.

SHE has achieved many milestones for women’s rights in the past 60 years, but Datuk Rasammah Bhupalan is all too well aware of the work that is still not done, especially among underprivileged groups.

“We have come a long way. But how do we gauge the empowerment of women when we have only touched upper and middle-income women. What about the lower-income group? What have we brought to them?” said Rasammah, 86, who co-founded the National Council of Women’s Organisations (NCWO) 50 years ago.

NCWO is the umbrella organisation, with 125 affiliates, working to raise women’s status in Malaysia. There is just no resting on the laurels for Rasammah, or for the other two women activists at NCWO’s Breakfast with Mentors session recently, held in conjuction with the organisation’s Golden Jubilee celebrations.

Rasammah, NCWO vice president Datuk Ramani Gurusamy, 72, and All Women’s Action Society (AWAM) president Ho Yock Lin, 58, are all veterans in Malaysia’s feminist movement, and they have worked hard to raise the standard of Malaysian women’s lives – from advocating for equal pay to amending legislation on rape, violence against women and custody rights, to creating awareness of breast cancer.

“In the 1960s, the fights were for bread and butter issues, like equal pay. Then, women became temporary teachers when they got married. They were also not eligible for pension,” recalled Ramani.

Fighting for equal pay for women teachers was “the first real struggle for women in Malaya”, said Rasammah who founded and headed the first Women Teachers Union in 1960. It was only in 1972 that women teachers finally received the same pay as their male peers.

Over the decades, women activists have lobbied to put women’s rights at the forefront of government policies, beginning with the establishment of the Women’s Advisory Council in 1976 to maximise women’s participation in Malaysia’s development.

In 1983, the Secretariat for Women’s Affairs, Hawa, was set up under the Prime Minister’s Department ensure women have equal opportunities, and a National Policy on Women was adopted in 1989. They paved the way for the setting up of the Women’s Ministry in 2001; it was the culmination of many decades of advocating for women’s issues to be integrated into all public policies. These milestones in the women’s movement were documented in NCWO 50 Years Remembered, a book to commemorate NCWO’s 50th Anniversary.

One of the most important tasks undertaken by activists was in changing legislations that were discriminatory towards women. In 1985, NCWO brought together women’s organisations and identified laws that discriminated against women.

“Amending legislation is a long-drawn process. We worked on reforming laws on rape and domestic violence, custody and guardianship of children, inheritence and property rights. We also lobbied for maternity leave to be extended from 42 days to 60 days, and to 90 days in 2010,” recalled Ramani.

She recounted how women activists networked with their Canadian counterparts to change how rape cases were handled in the 1980s. “We helped set up the first One-Stop Rape Crisis Centre in Hospital Kuala Lumpur in1994, and put together a rape investigation kit. I remember we went to see the Inspector General of Police Tun Hanif Omar to lobby for the setting up of a special unit of women police officers to investigate rape cases, and it was set up in 1986,” said Ramani, who also cited amendments to the Domestic Violence Act which came into effect in 1996 as another important achievement.

Although much has been done in the past 50 years, the three women activists emphasised that so much more needs to be done. Rasammah pointed out there is still not enough women representation in Parliament, or debates focused on women.

“We must not be afraid to fight for change. I grew up questioning institutions and justices, and learnt about women’s rights in the UK where I was studying. I remembered reading about the women’s teachers union activism at that time (1960s),” recalled Ho, who cited how they fought for the age limit for statutuory rape to be raised from below 14 to 16.

At 58, Ho joked that she was the “youngest” at the panel, but the three women activists certainly presented an energetic session to their young audience. Rasammah is feisty and unwavering in her commitment to the women’s cause, and Ramani spoke of how she continues to be motivated to work for marginalised women.

Most importantly, they said there is no standing on the sidelines. “We need young, fresh blood in the women’s movement. We need your excitement, your passion and your commitment. So, prepare yourself to get into the movement. Get the leadership skills you need, and you probably already have them. Get into an organisation. Now, with the Internet, you can see what an organisation is all about. See what are the issues that interest you and get involved. We need you,” said Ramani.

Rasammah said it’s essential to be active in an organisation, even if it’s only for two hours a week, or even a fortnight. They also need men to be involved in the women’s cause, said Ho who cited the success of NCWO’s MenCare campaign which engaged men to encourage women to screen for breast cancer.

Posted on 16:23 | Categories:

Schools push 'magic' pills

Schools in several states have been “pushing” pills that supposedly make pupils cleverer.

The promoters also claim that the “get smart” pills, named Dimensi 108, which are marketed as food supplements, can alter children’s behaviour to make them more obedient and hard-working as well as resistant to illnesses.

Concerned parents from a school in Kuala Lumpur contacted The Star when the tablets were distributed to Year Six pupils earlier this week, saying their children were being forced to buy the pills.

One parent said she had asked her daughter to return the pills to the class teacher and refused to pay for them.

“When my daughter and a few of her friends returned the pills, the teacher told them not to blame her if they are tak pandai (not clever) in their UPSR (which starts on Sept 9).

“Can you believe that? The teacher is supposed to encourage the kids to work hard for their exams and not rely on some pills with so-called magical properties,’’ the outraged parent told The Star.

Another complainant, whose brother is studying at the school, has lodged a written complaint with the Health Ministry.

“A ministry official told me that they will look into the matter, and I have also sent pictures of the packaging of the pills with the ministry’s logo on it.

“I hope they will get to the bottom of this as quickly as possible because we need to know whether the product is legitimate or not,” said the complainant.

The school’s headmistress said parents had “misunderstood” the nature of the pills and it was not compulsory for pupils to buy them.

“We would not promote anything that is bad for the pupils ... these are just like herbal supplements to help pupils concentrate and build energy for the upcoming examination.

“They have ingredients such as spirulina and red dates, which are known for their health-giving properties. I myself give them to my child near the examination period.

“The product also has the endorsement of the Malaysian Federation of the Council of Headmasters, meaning that it has been approved by the Health and Education ministries,” she said.

The headmistress claimed that the pills were supplied to the school by the council.

“One parent shared her concerns with me personally, and when I explained the situation, she was very supportive,” she added.

Some parents remained sceptical.

“Only RM5 for a behaviour altering drug? This is way too affordable for the best thing since the discovery of DNA,” quipped a parent on Facebook.

“Spend a few hundred bucks, behavioural issues solved ... Where can I mass order? Or how to sign up to be an agent?” added another.

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

#K9 unit for all prisons soon. @PDRMsia

The Prisons Department’s canine (K9) unit will be expanded to prisons nationwide.

A RM5mil allocation had been given to upgrade the unit, said Prisons Department security and intelligence director Wan Mohamad Nazarie Wan Mahmood.

“This is to build new infrastructure and to buy additional dogs, vehicles and training equipment,” he said in his speech at a graduation ceremony for the second batch of dogs and their handlers at the Kajang prison.

The department currently has one unit serving the central zone, staffed by 33 personnel with 18 dogs.

K9 unit head Asst Comm Abdul Hamid Mohammad said the first phase of the expansion would be to the northern states in the next two years.

“We plan to have units in seven zones. Five in the peninsula and one in Sabah and Sarawak,” he said.

Abdul Hamid, 54, has served with the department for 33 years and took up the post of unit head in 2010.

He said the dogs’ keen sense of smell helped prison guards conduct their duties more effectively.

Besides guarding and tracking, dogs are used to sniff out prohibited items such as tobacco, drugs and even mobile phones.

He also said that the dogs would be further trained to sniff out explosives and bullets.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Sime’s uncontrolled burning in Riau cut

Sime Darby Bhd has seen a 60% reduction in uncontrolled burning around its plantation in Riau since it collaborated with the local authorities to set up the Fire Care Community Group or Masyarakat Peduli Api (MPA) last year.

The first plantation company to implement a zero-burning policy since 1985, Sime Darby has taken things a step further by educating local small planters on the disadvantages of burning, potentially changing the open burning culture in the area.

In 2012, Sime Darby detected 16 hotspots within its concession land but beyond the group’s planted and operational area. However as at July 31 this year, the occurrences have reduced to seven,

South Sumatra and Riau estate general manager Ahmad Sahfengi Mohd Salleh explained to regional media that the MPA was set up with the endorsement of the local authorities, aimed at preventing open burning rather than extinguishing it.

The MPA is a 10-member team at the moment, made up of locals. Sahfengi said they hoped to expand the team to 30 people.

During the dry season between June and October, the MPA would be on their toes patrolling and monitoring sites, while the wet season would see them educating the villagers through a “socialisation strategy.”

“There are two concerns here,” Sumatra region plantation operations head Karpanasamy Rengasamy said.

“One is that when they burn so close to our plantation, the wind may blow a spark over to our trees. Another is that we want to educate them on the disadvantages of burning, which is a health and safety issue.”

Big players in the palm oil industry are usually targeted when the region faces the haze problem, as had happened to Sime Darby and several other palm oil groups last June. Sime Darby, however, produced a satellite map to show that the burnings took place outside its plantation borders.

The burnings were usually done by small farmers, who would then plant cash crops like corn on the burnt land.

“We not only do not burn, but also keep tabs on any fires that occur around us,” Karpanasamy said to the media visiting Sime Darby’s PT Bhumireksa Nusa Sejati (BNS) plantation.

On the plantation, the company also has a troop of fire guards and five watch towers around the planted areas to monitor burning activities daily.

There are seven hotspots within and around the BNS plantation that Sime Darby estate managers monitor.

Sime Darby manages the plantation via a water canal grid, which keeps the peatland moist during drier weather and functions as a waterway to transport people and fresh fruit bunches to the two mills within the plantation.

“The water canal also works as a fire belt that stops fires from neighbouring areas from spreading to our estates easily, and as a water source when the fire guards and MPA move in to douse any burning around us,” Sahfengi elaborated.

Sime Darby’s plantation subsidiary in Indonesia, PT Minamas Gemilang, had bought the BNS plantation from Salim Group in 2001. The concession for the entire land, including parts where villagers have already occupied, is until 2035.

The 25,730ha land concession is on peatland, and of that, 18,688ha have been planted.

“People burn on peatland because it is prone to termites, which means we cannot leave trunks or fronds to decompose on it,” Sahfengi said.

That said, Sime Darby has put in place a zero expansion on peatland policy. In Sumatra, 25% of its plantation operations are on peatland. Within its Indonesia plantations, 8% are on peatland.

Karpanasamy said that peatland is not as easily managed as mineral land. “However, when properly managed, palm estates on peatland can usually produce 5% to 10% higher yield at an estimated 30 tonnes per hectare per year than the 27-tonne-per-hectare-per-year yield from mineral land estates.”

BNS’ oil palm trees, as they have not reached maturity, produced a 17-tonne-per-hectare-per-year yield in 2012, and Karpanasamy is aiming to see a yield of 21 tonnes per hectare per year for 2013.

Posted on 10:26 | Categories:

Friday, 23 August 2013

Bus crash victim recalls being sandwiched between bodies

Bus crash survivor Tan Ming Shing was sandwiched between dead bodies for about half an hour before he was finally rescued from the wreckage.

“My only thought at the time was that I must stay alive no matter what happened. I was trapped. There were bodies on top and under me. Luckily, I still had a bit of room to breathe,” said the 26-year-old as he described the horrific experience.

Tan, who works at Genting as a kitchen staff, suffered a broken left arm during the accident and is now warded at Kuala Lumpur Hospital (HKL).

“When the bus plunged into the ravine, other passengers were screaming, crying or praying.

“I was sure I was going to die. I had been sitting at the back row of the bus but I was thrown right to the front. If not for the big trees there, the bus would have plunged down even further,” he said.

Meanwhile, the father of survivor Saedah Misbun, 19, was having a drink at a restaurant in their hometown in Tanjung Malim when his daughter called him.

“She called and she was crying. She said the bus had met with an accident and that she was in pain. I could hear people screaming in pain and people praying. And then, the line got cut off,” said Misbun Kastopodo, 43.

He had no choice but to wait as he did not know where Saedah was.

“A few hours later, a doctor called me and told me my daughter was at the hospital,” he said.

Saedah, who was thrown out of the bus during the incident, suffered fractures on the right side of her ribs, as well as injuries to her lungs, but otherwise in stable condition.

Posted on 10:42 | Categories:

Thursday, 22 August 2013

Genting bus crash: Police call off search, 15 victims identified so far

Police have called off search and rescue efforts to locate more victims of the bus crash that claimed the lives of 37 passengers.

Bentong OCPD Supt Mohd Mansor Mohd Norr said police have ended their search and are now conducting operations to retrieve valuables and documents to identify the dead.

"Our personnel only found two severed legs which will be sent to the Kuala Lumpur Hospital.

"We are confident that there are no more victims in the bus or in the surrounding area," he told pressmen at the scene on Thursday morning.

Supt Mansor said of the 37 dead only 15 have been identified  so far.

"Those with relatives who have gone by bus to Genting Highlands and have gone missing should talk to the police immediately.

"We could use any help, even description of their attire could assist in the identification process," he said adding that the dead were all brought to HKL.

He said 34 post mortems have already been performed while five bodies have been claimed.

Supt Mohd Mansor said the majority of the cause of deaths was multiple injuries and severe internal organ damage.

"The tragedy is by far the worst in this area so far. If the bus had not got snagged on the trees, it could have easily plunged an additional 100ft down the slope," he said adding that the case was being investigated under Section 41(1) of the Road Transport Act 1987 for reckless driving.

Supt Mohd Mansor said police would take statements from the survivors once they have recovered from the ordeal in order to get a clearer picture of the incident.

"Once our personnel have finished retrieving valuables and documents, forensic units and Puspakom officials will be sent down to conduct an on-site investigation.

"When they have finished we will start work on hoisting up the bus to be brought to the Bentong police station," he said.

Names of victims identified, so far

1. Chan Fook Choy, 62, M

2. Chan Lai Huat, M

3. Sub Moy @ Sak Moy, 71, F

4. Sek Sooi Chan, F

5. Lee Fok Wah, 62, M

6. Law Tiaw Meng, 36, M

7. Law See Kee, 19, F

8. Yap Hing, 61, M

9. Muhammad Rasid Jantan, 61, M

10. Ng Ah Heng, F

11. Choo Peng Kwan, 66, M

12. Sukhviv Singh, M (India national)

13. Auther Mash, M (India national)

14. Rafik Ali Buai Habac Chu, M (Bangladeshi)

15. Bhuiyan Rifique Ali, M (Bangladeshi)

Posted on 16:26 | Categories:

Federal Govt targets three months to come up with solution

The Federal Govern­ment is making another major attempt to find a solution to the long-drawn problem of depleting water reserves in Selangor.

It has targeted three months from now to come up with the solution centring on the Langat 2 water treatment project.

The special Cabinet committee to look into Selangor’s water woes, chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, will brief the Cabinet on its recommendations soon.

Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili said the recommendations would be in accordance with the Water Services Industry Act 2006 and that Selangor’s attempt to take over water concession in the state must be based on the “willing buyer, willing seller” concept.

“I believe that the federal and state governments can solve this together for the good of the rakyat without having to resort to any legal action,” he told a press conference here yesterday.

“Our recommendation is that Langat 2 must go on but we must reach a consensus on the restructuring exercise based on negotiation and compromise.

“I cannot disclose the specifics (or any) more than that but (we will use) these as our guide.”

The depleting water reserves in Selangor had pushed the Federal Government to call for the construction of the water treatment plant, which has been reported to be able to treat some 1.89 billion litres of raw water.

The supply of water is expected to cater to demands in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya until 2025.

Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim admitted recently the need for the water treatment plant but stressed that the state wanted to take over water concession on its own terms.

Abdul Khalid has proposed that all water assets in the state, including the Langat 2 water treatment plant, come under the state investment arm Kumpulan Darul Ehsan Bhd.

KDEB has made an offer to buy all the existing water assets in the state but Puncak Niaga Holdings Bhd, the major shareholder of water concessionaire Syabas, has yet to accept the offer.

Ongkili said both consumers and investors had been impacted by the delay in the construction of Langat 2.

“Overall, 710 (investment) projects have been postponed based on the advice of SPAN (the National Water Services Commission).
We don’t want investors to start on a project but be unable to continue it because we could not guarantee them water.

“It is not darurat (an emergency) but it (the depleting water reserves) is at a worrying stage,” Ongkili said.

Syabas has predicted that Selangor will experience the “big dry” in 2014 if the problem of depleting reserves is not solved.

Wednesday, 21 August 2013

Grand send-off for five killed in shootout

Some 500 family members and friends of three of the five men killed in a police shootout gave them an elaborate send-off with a funeral procession accompanied by drums and firecrackers.

The three – N. Rakan, 25, M. Suresh, 25, and R. Ramesh, 27 – were cremated in separate incinerators at the Batu Gantung crematorium at 5.40pm yesterday.

Earlier during the last rites, some family members were seen sprinkling rice into the three coffins as they wept openly and circled around the bodies three times.

The funeral procession – to the beats of Indian and Chinese drums as well as a band – had earlier converged in Jalan Yeap Chor Ee before heading to the crematorium, punctuated with the sounds of firecrackers.

The three bodies were sent off in Mercedes-Benz hearses, two of which bore giant floral wreaths depicting the Hindu swastika. The other hearse had a wreath designed in the letter “N” with a small swastika sign and another resembling twin gold coins.

Motorcyclists, revving their engines and throwing flower petals on the road, rode alongside the hearses as they weaved their way through the traffic towards the crematorium.

The grand procession brought traffic to a standstill in Jalan Yeap Chor Ee, Jalan Bukit Gambir and Jalan Tun Dr Awang, watched by curious motorists.

The two other men who were also killed in the shootout – J. Gobinath, 31, and M. Gobinath, 21 – were cremated and buried respectively at a Hindu cemetery in Jalan Siram, Butterworth.

J. Gobinath’s hearse – accompanied by another vehicle bearing a “04” banner and a picture of the deceased with the words Perai Gobi – arrived at the cemetery at 4pm, heralded by the release of firecrackers at the entrance. About 100 family members and friends attended the funeral.

Some two hours later, the hearse of M. Gobinath – accompanied by a lorry – arrived with more than 200 people.

A floral wreath designed with the word “GOBI” together with a picture banner bearing the titles of “Gobi Butterworth” and “King of the Ring” as well as a message “We will miss u 4ever Bro” were seen on the hearse.

About 15 people were later seen carrying M. Gobinath’s coffin into the cemetery to be buried. A lorry with a “04” flower decoration was also spotted.

Posted on 15:10 | Categories:

Students to be pulled out of Egypt

Malaysia has begun to evacuate its students from Egypt which has been embroiled in turmoil since last Wednesday and saw the deaths of almost 1,000 of its citizens.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the estimated 3,300 Malaysian students currently in Egypt would be flown home on a voluntary basis, adding that the flights started last night.

He said the decision to evacuate the students was made based on the advice of the National Security Council.

“I have received a report from the NSC that the situation there may be headed towards uncertainty and for the worse. We will not delay in case the situation becomes more serious and dangerous.

“In whatever circumstance, we must prioritise our students’ safety,” Najib told reporters here yesterday.

The students, he added, would be put on commercial flights instead of C-130 military transport because that would involve more complex logistical arrangements.

Najib said he had also instructed Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to discuss with Al-Azhar University on the rescheduling of examination dates for students who had chosen to return home.

“If there are other Malaysians on business in Egypt, they should return home at their own cost,” he said.

On the demand by PAS for a special parliamentary meeting to discuss Malaysia’s stand on the Egypt crisis, he said it was not necessary as Egypt considered it an internal matter.

Many Malaysian students still in Egypt had recently recounted violent incidents and bloody clashes near their residences.

Education Malaysia Egypt had also received confirmation from the Egyptian Deputy Educa­tion Minister that all repeat examinations scheduled this month had been postponed.

Posted on 09:57 | Categories: ,

Monday, 19 August 2013

Penang cops gun down 5 members of notorious gang

Police here have shot dead five men who are believed to be members of the notorious Geng 04.

The shootout occurred at 5am Monday, at an apartment in Sungai Nibong.

The five, believed to be in their 20s, were said to have been involved in the recent spate of shooting cases in the state this year.

Police had been monitoring their activities before moving in on a unit on the 11th floor of the building early Monday.

It is learnt that police have seized three pistols from the scene.

Police officers knocked on the door of the apartment but there was no response. They retaliated when the suspects opened fire from the inside of the apartment.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar is expected to hold a press conference in the afternoon over the incident.

A recent spate of shootings in the state and various parts of the country have sparked speculation of a gangland war.

On Aug 8, K. Veerappan, a 37-year-old scrap dealer believed to be associated with Gang 36, was shot dead when he stopped the car he was driving near a traffic light in Anson Road.

A motorcyclist rode up and the pillion rider whipped out a pistol and fired 14 shots, 10 of which hit Veerappan's neck, cheek and abdomen.

Earlier the same day, a gunman fired at least six shots at a businessman's bungalow in Jalan Utama. No one was injured in the incident, believed to be a triad's warning to the businessman.

On Aug 9, a third shooting occurred in the state, in Jalan Datuk Keramat, where a 43-year-old bouncer was hit in the left thigh.

A gunman fired seven shots but only one hit the victim, believed to be one of the top leaders of the Si Lian (Four Tyres), also known as Geng 04.
Posted on 16:51 | Categories:

Friday, 2 August 2013

Concerns over health of public finances to be addressed in Budget 2014

A detailed strategy on how to address growing concerns over the health of Malaysia’s public finances will be addressed in Budget 2014.

“We have already put in place a fiscal committee, which is looking into some of the challenges that we face, and all these will be addressed shortly, especially in the forthcoming Budget,” said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Budget 2014 is expected to be tabled on Oct 25.

Najib, also the Finance Minister, stressed that the Government remained committed to strengthening the country’s macroeconomic and fiscal position.

“At the moment, we are looking at various policy options ... we do understand there is a need for us to strengthen our fiscal and macro position,” Najib said in response to Fitch Ratings’ concern over the ability of the Malaysian Government to rein in its debt and spending.

Fitch had on Tuesday downgraded Malaysia’s sovereign credit rating outlook from “stable” to “negative”, citing that the prospects for budgetary reform and fiscal consolidation to address weaknesses in public finances had worsened after the 13th general election in May.

The international rating agency, however, had reaffirmed Malaysia’s long-term foreign and local currency at A- and A respectively.

Najib said the reaffirmation on the country’s long-term foreign and local currency was “something positive”.

“The revision is only in terms of the outlook, which will depend on the move that the Government will make. I think it is good for us because it signals their concern. It is a concern that we share as a government, and we will seek to address those concerns,” he said at a press conference after launching the new iconic brand identity, “Malaysia: World’s Islamic Finance Marketplace”, here yesterday.

Meanwhile, Malaysia’s stock market rebounded yesterday after falling to a three-week low on Wednes­day following Fitch’s downgrade.

The FTSE Bursa Malaysia KL Composite Index rose 5.2 points, or 0.29%, to close at 1,777.82 points. The benchmark stock index had on Wednesday fallen 22.46 points, or 1.25%, to close at a three-week low of 1,772.62.

Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz said Malaysia had the capacity and capability to address its fiscal vulnerabilities in a gradual and sequenced manner.

“Malaysia still has time to do it, but of course it is now more urgent because the global environment has become more challenging.

“The recovery that we had expected from major economies has not strengthened, and going forward, it is very likely that it will continue to remain modest.

“Therefore, it is important for us to reduce our vulnerabilities, one of which is in the fiscal area,” Dr Zeti explained, adding that Malaysian policymakers were putting emphasis on increasing national resilience and boosting its potential to sustain economic growth.

Posted on 11:53 | Categories: