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Author: savemalaysia   |   Latest post: Wed, 24 Apr 2019, 10:08 AM


Terengganu MB: Construction of ECRL project gives priority to local residents

Author: savemalaysia   |  Publish date: Wed, 24 Apr 2019, 10:08 AM

MARANG, April 24 — The construction of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project will not neglect the local people especially in economic and entrepreneurial activities.

Menteri Besar Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar said the local people, especially small contractors, will be given priority in various areas including supply of food and electrical items which would boost the state economy. 

He said this was decided in the discussion he had with the chief operations officer of Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd (MRL) at the Office of the Mentri Besar in Wisma Darul Iman, yesterday.

“The state government and MRL have decided to set up a committee to monitor things like these as there are several aspects of the implementation of the ECRL which we still have to consider and approve.

“So I am asking the people to grab the opportunities and not let them fall into the hands of outsiders,” he said in a press conference held after launching the Marang Bus Station here last night.

Also present was State Secretary Datuk A. Rahman Yahya and Chairman of the state Tourism, Culture and Information Technology Committee Ariffin Deraman.

Commenting further, Ahmad Samsuri said the people in the state should not worry about the influx of workers from China when the ECRL project is resumed as the those who are brought in are only the consultants.

“Because the construction of the ECRL from Kuala Lumpur to Kelantan is a joint effort between MRL and China Communication Constructions Ltd (CCCC), we worry that there will an influx of workers from China.

“However, after getting an assurance from MRL, we can breathe easy as those who are coming are only the consultants connected to the construction of the ECRL,” he said.

He added that the Chinese workers will be placed in special quarters and will not mingle with the local community to avoid any social and cultural issues. — Bernama





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Is Vietnam overtaking Malaysia?

Author: savemalaysia   |  Publish date: Wed, 24 Apr 2019, 9:52 AM



  3 people like this.
Manekineko We do have our strengths. With the new government on board coming to 1 year, they should focus on strengthening the economy and outshine MALAYSIA again. But we all Malaysians have to do our part to make this happen too!
24/04/2019 11:40 AM
7300 multi cultures with multilanguages ,good education n facilities are our strenght..
24/04/2019 11:45 AM
qqq3 its a win win situation.

no need to see as competition.
24/04/2019 12:09 PM

Positive news ahead of Mahathir’s Beijing trip

Author: savemalaysia   |  Publish date: Wed, 24 Apr 2019, 9:45 AM

TUN Dr Mahathir Mohamad will arrive in Beijing on Wednesday to attend the Belt and Road (B&R) Forum on April 27 and 28.

A slew of positive news will help smoothen the way for the prime minister’s second visit to China since the historic change of government on May 9 last year.

One week after the government said it would revive the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) project, Mahathir last Friday announced it would revive the massive Bandar Malaysia development, which had been terminated when Datuk Seri Najib Razak was the prime minister.

To recap, Najib abruptly pulled the brakes on the deal for TRX City Sdn Bhd, a former subsidiary of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) then, to divest its 60% equity stake to IWH-CREC Sdn Bhd on May 3, 2017. It happened a few weeks before he left for the B&R Forum. That resulted in the abortion of the massive development at the former airforce base near Sungai Besi.

Speculation was rife that the deal had been scuttled because Najib was advised that there were interested parties with deeper pockets that wanted to participate in the development. China-based Dalian Wanda Group Co Ltd was one name that was mentioned. Obviously, nothing has materialised.

Back to the present, last Thursday, Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia Bai Tian told the media that China was always ready to restart its search for fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, better known as Jho Low, if there is new information.

Low is the central to the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal that has put Najib in the accused dock of the High Court. Low was mentioned on the fourth day of Najib’s trial last week over the misappropriation of funds in SRC International Sdn Bhd, a former subsidiary of 1MDB.

Najib’s lawyer, Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah, has claimed that the former prime minister was the victim of a conspiracy of “Jho Low and gang”. (See story on page 52)

Bai acknowledged that the Chinese government had made efforts to locate Low upon the request of the Malaysian government, but had failed.

During his trip to China in August last year, Mahathir had mentioned that he had been invited by China’s President Xi Jinping to attend the B&R Forum.

Back then, many doubted that the 93-year-old premier would make another trip to China so soon. Before he headed home, Mahathir had told Malaysian media that the government had decided to cancel three projects in which Chinese state-owned enterprises were involved, after discussions with Chinese leaders. These were the ECRL, the multi-product pipeline project in Melaka and gas pipeline project in Sabah. The reason given was that the government could not afford them given its fiscal position.

Mahathir had said that because of the stupidity of the previous government, there is no exit clause in the agreement between Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd and China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC). The government, he added, had to negotiate with the Chinese on the quantum of the compensation and hoped it would not be an exorbitant sum.

The prime minister was roundly criticised when he returned from Beijing, with some of his detractors calling the five-day trip a failure. Not surprisingly, opposition parties accused him of jeopardising Sino-Malaysia ties of 45 years, which started during the time of former prime minister Tun Abdul Razak. This, they said, would dim the country’s economic prospects as China, with its 1.4 billion population, is now a super power and the world’s largest consumer of many goods, including edible oil, musang king durian and natural resources.

Now, the government has revived the ECRL and Bandar Malaysia. The cost of the rail project has been slashed by RM21.5 billion to RM44 billion after a change of alignment. More importantly, a 50:50 joint venture will be formed to operate the rail link, and CCCC will help to shoulder the operation risks and losses.

For Bandar Malaysia, IWH-CREC Sdn Bhd is committed to make an advance payment of RM1.24 billion in two months.

IWH-CREC will acquire a 60% stake in Bandar Malaysia Sdn Bhd, which is wholly owned by the Ministry of Finance, for RM7.41 billion. It will be the master developer.

IWH-CREC is a 60:40 joint venture (JV) between Iskandar Waterfront Holdings Sdn Bhd (IWH) and state-owned China Railway Engineering Corp (M) Sdn Bhd (CREC). Businessman Tan Sri Lim Kang Hoo holds a 63% stake in IWH, while Kumpulan Prasaran Rakyat Johor Sdn Bhd owns the remaining 37%.

The commencement of the Bandar Malaysia project has raised concern that it will worsen the property glut in the Klang Valley.

It won’t be a surprise if the opposition slams the Pakatan Harapan government for making a U-turn on its decisions, even if had previously condemned the cancellation of the projects.

Given the latest developments, the diplomatic relationship between Malaysia and China is expected to warm up to some extent compared to during Mahathir’s first official visit eight months ago.

Some readers may recall that in November last year the Chinese president visited the Philippines and met Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Papua New Guinea.  He also made an official visit to Singapore in the same month, but did not cross the Causeway.

Xi’s recent trips in Asean could be an indication of the Sino-Malaysia relationship then.

The leaders of the two countries will meet for the second time in Beijing. Will Mahathir bring back even more good news? Oil palm planters are among those who are keeping their fingers crossed.



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After Malaysia’s ECRL win, China set to field more ‘debt trap’ allegations at Belt-Road forum

Author: savemalaysia   |  Publish date: Wed, 24 Apr 2019, 9:42 AM

KUALA LUMPUR, April 24 — Beijing is bracing for accusations that its Belt-Road Initiative (BRI) projects abroad are Trojan horses for so-called debt traps when 37 partner nations converge for a forum on the ambitious geopolitical plan this week.

Malaysia’s recent renegotiation of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) with China that resulted in a RM21.5 billion reduction is being seen as a planted flag for emerging economies that have accepted the superpower’s aid to develop infrastructure. 

While Malaysia’s ability to win the concession has heartened observers, they also noted that the country had to cede half the ownership in the operations to China Communications Construction Company Ltd (CCCC).

The Financial Times (FT) reported China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi, as saying Beijing has planned side events and progress reports for ongoing projects to counter such allegations.

“It’s unavoidable [BRI] will cause some worries during its development,” Wang said. “So we welcome all sides to come up with constructive suggestions.”

Views that the BRI is China’s backdoor into developing economies hungry for funds is fuelled by the lack of participation other than the Asian superpower’s direct investments in these projects.

Despite being billed as a modern-day “Silk Road”, there is also no entity or organisation to coordinate this connectivity; instead, all roads lead proverbially to China.

The issue traces back to China President Xi Jinping’s effusive description of the BRI on its introduction in 2013, when he spoke of it in expansive terms that went beyond pure trade and touched on geopolitical considerations.

Years on, China is still struggling with this view, forcing representatives to defend the BRI’s motives at every opportunity.

Even some in China are unclear about what it is exactly the BRI is setting out to do.

“What is the Belt and Road? Is it an international institution or more of a loose structure like the G7, or is it just a forum? I think that isn’t settled yet,” Victor Gao, a foreign affairs commentator and former foreign ministry official, told the FT.

Ahead of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s visit to China for the forum, Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Ong Kian Ming has said Putrajaya wants more transparency in the BRI and its projects.

Ong noted that the mobilisation of resources for the BRI was arguably on a scale unmatched since World War II.

“More transparency helps deal with a backlash in case questions are raised about financing,” he said during a forum here this month.

Aside from Malaysia’s prior reluctance to proceed with the ECRL due to the debt Dr Mahathir said would “impoverish” the country, other developments such as in Sri Lanka have fuelled the perception that BRI projects are ticking financial time-bombs.

The South Asian nation, which was hit by deadly terrorist attacks on Easter Sunday, is under pressure to service some US$5 billion (RM20 billion) in debt due soon and is increasingly turning to China to more cheap loans.

Zhang Chenxu, a deputy general manager of China’s Exim Bank that is financing 1,800 BRI projects including the ECRL, rejected such views.

“Some people saw that the host country borrowed foreign debt, and then guessed at the speed of accumulation and the sustainability of the debt itself, and then claimed that pushed the host country into a debt trap,” Zhang told the FT.

“We can see the gap between their logic and the facts.”


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Lawyers: Pahang’s loyalty to Agong condition for business permit vague, unconstitutional

Author: savemalaysia   |  Publish date: Wed, 24 Apr 2019, 9:41 AM

KUALA LUMPUR, April 24 — The Pahang government’s decision to require business owners to be loyal to both the Pahang sultan and Yang di-Pertuan Agong to obtain business licences is vague and arbitrary, and could also be against the Federal Constitution, lawyers said today.

Malay Mail spoke to several constitutional lawyers, who among others noted that imposing such a requirement of loyalty on rulers is unnecessary and unreasonable. 

On Friday, the Pahang mentri besar announced that local councils would now have to include the new requirement for those seeking business licences and permits, with failure to show loyalty resulting in the cancellation of the permits.

The new requirement comes just barely three months since the Pahang sultan became the country’s King.

How does loyalty relate to doing business?

Lawyer Lim Wei Jiet said any decision made by public authorities, including the rejection of business licences or permits, can be challenged in court via judicial review on grounds such as unreasonableness or irrationality.

“It is arguable that the requirement of loyalty to the Pahang sultan and Agong is unreasonable, irrational and is an irrelevant consideration which a public body should not take into account in the context of conducting businesses in the state,” he told Malay Mail when contacted.

Lim highlighted the need for business permit conditions to be linked to business operations.

“One of the reasons why it is unreasonable or irrational is because there is no nexus between running a business with loyalty to the monarch,” he said, comparing it with the example of requiring a food eatery to comply with health and cleanliness standards as public health is at stake.

Lim said the new requirement may also affect business owners’ right to livelihood if they are denied business licences due to the condition.

What is “loyalty” or “disloyalty”?

In explaining why the new requirement is unreasonable, Lim pointed out the vague nature of the term “disloyalty”.

“This requirement of ‘loyalty’ to the Pahang sultan and Agong is also so arbitrary and it is hard to define what amounts to ‘disloyalty’. Even the most oppressive of laws such as the Sedition Act allow room to criticise the royalty with the intention to show that the Ruler has been misled or mistaken.

“Therefore, because it is so arbitrary and sends a chilling effect on free speech, such requirement may offend the freedom of expression guaranteed under Article 10 of the Federal Constitution,” he said.

Lawyer Nizam Bashir said the Pahang state government’s directive would be unconstitutional as the vague nature of the proposed condition would go against Articles 5, 7 and 8 of the Federal Constitution.

“What is meant by respect and loyalty? Does pointing out errors in the acts or omissions concerning an executive function or statutory duties amount to disrespect or disloyalty?” he asked.

Citing the doctrine of vagueness, Nizam explained that a law which is vague would be unconstitutional.

“Simply put, a person’s liberty can only be deprived according to law that is clear,” he said.

Referring to Article 5 which he said substantially revolves around ensuring that everyone subjected to a criminal charge is entitled to the due process of law, Nizam said: “I can’t think of anything more fundamental than a person knowing the crime that he is said to be guilty of”.

“Let’s come back to the example of pointing errors in what the YDPA (Yang di-Pertuan Agong) does. Is that an act of disloyalty? We don’t know. So the so-called offence which enables a breach of the licensing requirement is vague. We don’t know where it starts and where it ends,” he said in highlighting the wide-ranging nature of such a condition as opposed to conditions that are narrower and more specific.

Citing Article 8 which deals with equality before the law, Nizam agreed that those denied a business licence without knowing how they had been disloyal would have suffered unequal treatment and would not have equal protection of the law as given to others.

“Yes, loyalty to King is important from a State perspective but so are the rights of citizens. And here I think citizens’ rights are on the chopping block given how wide the directive is,” he said, describing the new condition as akin to giving “blank cheques” to licencing authorities on the matter.

Bypassing Parliament

Lawyer Surendra Ananth highlighted the problem of what appeared to be Pahang’s intention of enacting a state law or amending existing state laws to provide for the new requirement, noting that it should instead be Parliament which make laws that limit free speech.

“This is a restriction of free speech, which only Parliament is entitled to legislate on. This is expressly provided for under Article 10(2)(a) of the Federal Constitution, where it says that only Parliament can make laws to restrict free speech. The states have no power to do that.

“We already have such a law to deal with contempt against the Rulers, that is the Sedition Act 1948. Although I disagree with the use of the Sedition Act, the point is that it is for Parliament to make such a law or for the federal government to deal with the issue using existing federal laws,” he told Malay Mail.

Nizam said the directive to impose the new requirement may go against Article 10 of the Federal Constitution if it amounts to either an express or implicit regulation of speech and expression, as only Parliament can make laws to do so.

“Licensing is expressly a local government matter. But what if the effect of the directive serves to regulate speech and expression as well? If it does, then it offends Article 10,” he said.

Nizam also highlighted that there are already existing laws in Malaysia to address any acts that aim to insult a ruler, or to bring a ruler into hatred or contempt, citing laws such as the Sedition Act and the Communications and Multimedia Act as examples.

“Consequently, the royal institution is already sufficiently protected from remarks aimed at inciting hatred and the like. For that reason, the additional measures presently being proposed by the State of Pahang seems unnecessary,” he said.

Can the new requirement be challenged?

Lim confirmed that the new condition for business licences in Pahang would remain valid as long as it is not challenged in court, saying that a court order would be required to nullify such a requirement.

When asked who could file such a court challenge, Lim confirmed it would arguably be only those who were denied a permit or licence because of the new requirement.

“Because you would need locus standi to file a case in Court. You must be affected by the decision,” he said, referring to the rule on legal standing.

“But the rule on locus standi has been relaxed in recent times. So, for example, if groups or associations representing businesses in Pahang file a case, they may actually overcome the locus standi test. The law is not that clear in this respect,” he said.

As for what could result from such a court challenge, Lim said the person who files a lawsuit to challenge the loyalty requirement could seek court orders directly related to him, such as to quash the Pahang government’s decision to reject the permit or licence application or to compel the state authorities to issue him with a permit or licence.

“But that person can also ask for a more broad-ranging relief — for example, a declaration that such requirement is unconstitutional and be struck down, which may force the Pahang Government to abandon such requirement in the future,” he said.

Nizam said the Pahang state government’s directive was unnecessary as it invites constitutional challenges, also suggesting a law instead to avoid having the monarchy being pulled into political matters.

“For that reason, as opposed to the proposed directive, it would be far better to enact laws aimed at protecting the Yang di-Pertuan Agong — as the ultimate guardian of the Constitution — as far as possible from involvement in politics,” he said.

Nizam said that having such a law would discourage those with administrative power and those in government from getting the rulers involved in political matters or pitting the royalty against the government and democratic system. 


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FGV, Tabung Haji mull up to US$1b Indonesia sale

Author: savemalaysia   |  Publish date: Wed, 24 Apr 2019, 9:40 AM

KUALA LUMPUR: FGV Holdings Bhd, the world’s third largest oil palm estate operator, and pilgrims fund Lembaga Tabung Haji are considering selling their plantation assets in Indonesia, in a bid to improve their financial positions, according to Bloomberg.

Quoting people with knowledge of the matter, it  said the two government-linked companies are working with an adviser to gauge potential buyer interest in Trurich Resources Sdn Bhd, which controls 42,000ha of oil palm estates in Kalimantan.

They may seek to value Trurich, a joint-venture company between them, at as much as US$1 billion (RM4.13 billion) including debt, the news wire wrote.

When contacted by The Edge Financial Daily, FGV confirmed Trurich has been identified as a potential asset for disposal. “FGV will make the necessary announcements when the deal is finalised,” a spokesperson said.

FGV and Tabung Haji have not made a final decision on whether to sell. They may still decide to keep the assets if they cannot get an attractive price, Bloomberg wrote.

If it materialises, the deal would help FGV and Tabung Haji offload assets that have been the subject of contention, the news wire added.

Trurich in December filed a police report alleging that five former senior executives at Tabung Haji had misled the company into overpaying for the Indonesian land acquisitions between 2008 and 2009.

A Trurich statement at the time named them as former Tabung Haji chief executive officer (CEO) Tan Sri Ismee Ismail, TH Plantations Bhd former CEOs Datuk Seri Zainal Azwar and Datuk Rashidi Omar, and Indonesians Drs H Rajasa Abdurachman and Badai Sakti Daniel.

When the acquisitions were made, Trurich was a wholly-owned unit of Tabung Haji. FGV later took up a 50% stake in the company in November 2009 via its subsidiary Felda Global Ventures Kalimantan Sdn Bhd.

Rocked by allegations of dipping into its depositors’ funds for dividend (hibah) payouts, accounting irregularities to inflate its profits, and dubious politically-linked transactions, Tabung Haji has recently undergone a restructuring, during which its underperforming assets were transferred to a ministry of finance special-purpose vehicle for RM19.9 billion to restore its balance sheet.

FGV, meanwhile, recorded a net loss of RM1.08 billion for the financial year ended Dec 31, 2018 (FY18), versus a net profit of RM130.93 million for FY17, as revenue fell to RM13.467 billion from RM16.921 billion.  The weaker financial results were largely due to impairments and lower crude palm oil price that year.

According to Bloomberg, a number of plantations are coming up for sale amid forecasts that crude palm oil prices will recover later this year. As an example, it cited Sime Darby Plantation Bhd, which has been considering the sale of a stake in its Papua New Guinea unit.  The company is also reviewing its Liberia operations.

PT Triputra Agro Persada’s owners, including GIC Pte, are also said to be exploring a sale of the Indonesian palm oil producer, it added.




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