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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Never mind if Ramasamy dissatisfied, Dr M defends Sosma crackdown again



Dr Mahathir Mohamad brushed aside a DAP leader's dissatisfaction with his defence of the police using the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) to arrest those suspected of having links with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).
The prime minister also reiterated his defence of the crackdown, saying the police do not make arrests for no reason.
He was asked to respond to Penang Deputy Chief Minister II P Ramasamy, who was disappointed with Mahathir's stand and argued that it did not reflect Pakatan Harapan's aspirations.
“If Ramasamy is dissatisfied, never mind. He says he is dissatisfied but the fact is this (the arrests) happened and there is a reason why it happened.

“Things are different. We don't arrest people for no reason. The police have explained to me their reasons for taking action and I am satisfied with the reasons cited,” Mahathir told reporters in Kuala Lumpur this morning.
Since last week, Bukit Aman's counter-terrorism division has arrested 12 individuals, including two DAP assemblypersons, for allegedly attempting to revive the LTTE, whose decimation in 2009 had ended the protracted Sri Lankan civil war.
One of the suspects, according to the police, was planning an attack on the Sri Lankan High Commission in Kuala Lumpur.
Yesterday, Mahathir said in the absence of other laws to deal with such threats, the police were forced to use Sosma, which allows for suspects to be detained for 28 days without trial.
Following this, Ramasamy said he was taken aback by the prime minister's stand and reminded the latter of his criticism towards Sosma in the past.
“This is not Harapan. Things are not looking good for us after more than a year in power,” he told Malaysiakini.
The DAP leader clarified that he was not questioning the police's investigation but pointed out that the suspects could have been detained under the Penal Code.
“The police claim to have sufficient evidence. So, prosecute the suspects in court and allow them access to legal representation.
“Using Sosma could be perceived as an easy way out for the police,” Ramasamy said.
Similarly, the Malaysian Bar also called on the police to charge the suspects in court, noting that surveillance operations would have revealed evidence of their alleged links to LTTE.
Previously, Ramasamy was also linked to LTTE when a photograph of him and another DAP lawmaker, Satees Muniandy, surfaced showing the pair paying homage to an assault rifle.
However, the duo claimed they had attended a memorial service in honour of the ethnic Tamil civilians who perished during the conflict in Sri Lanka. - Mkini

Liew: Consultations ongoing to decriminalise suicide attempts, abetment



PARLIAMENT | Consultations are ongoing with all stakeholders towards a move to decriminalise attempted suicide, according to de facto Law Minister Liew Vui Keong.
Liew told Dr Kelvin Yii (PH-Bandar Kuching) the move would look at the necessary amendments to Section 309 of the Penal Code on attempted suicide as well Section 305 and Section 306 on abetting attempted suicide.
"As we all know and understand, attempted suicide is not a solution to any problems," said Liew who acknowledged a rise in cases of attempted suicide linked to mental health issues.
"The government is in the process of engaging stakeholders to come up with a national comprehensive study on this matter," said Liew, who is also the MP for Batu Sapi.

As part of the consultation process, Liew said stakeholders involved include various relevant ministries, police, fire and rescue personnel as well as experts from NGO Befrienders and the Malaysian Psychiatrist Association.
Looking beyond Malaysia, Liew said the ongoing process would also include studying amendments made to similar legislations in the UK, Australia, Pakistan and India.
To a supplementary question from Mohd Shahar Abdullah (BN-Paya Besar) on government strategy to address mental health issues among Malaysians, Liew noted that current challenges include identifying individuals who require help.
In June, Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said the Attorney General's Chambers had been instructed to study a suggestion to decriminalise attempted suicide.
Wan Azizah, who is also Women, Family and Community Development Minister, had at the time cited figures from a 2017 survey among students aged 13 to 17 who found the prevalence of idea to commit suicide to be 10 percent compared to 7.9 percent in 2012. - Mkini

Bersatu leader calls out 'abysmal' MPs attendance in Dewan Rakyat



Bersatu supreme council member Rais Hussin has called out the "abysmal" attendance of parliamentarians at the current Dewan Rakyat sitting.
In a Twitter posting this morning, he questioned how the attendance could be improved, especially since Budget 2020 is being debated.
"MPs attendance at the parliamentary session is quite abysmal especially when such important issues are being debated like the Budget 2020.
"How to improve attendance at the Parliament and reduce truancy? Any idea folks? Remember it is a participatory democracy!" he added.
Yesterday, Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin uploaded an image on his temporary Instagram stories which featured a seemingly empty house.
"I spoke in front of this 'crowd'. That's the government front bench on day one of Budget debate," he commented with the photo (below).
Instagram stories, unlike regular posts on the image-sharing platform, would only last 24-hours but at the time of writing, Khairy's post was still visible.
The former youth and sports minister was debating the Budget 2020 announced in the Dewan Rakyat by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng last Friday.
Although it is normal for the Dewan Rakyat to not be in full attendance when debates are spread across several days, the issue of lawmakers' and ministers' being absent is not new.
In July, it was reported that the House introduced scheduling for ministries to help with the attendance of cabinet members.
Under the system, ministers would be designated certain days for attending Parliament sessions to answer questions.
The new scheduling system would also allocate time for ministerial and government duties.
However, attendance is still expected for crucial votes, such as those requiring a two-thirds majority.
Dewan Rakyat Speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof said last year it would be "too drastic" to revoke the allowances of MPs who are not present in the House during the late sessions, that could run into the night.
Malaysiakini is attempting to reach Harapan lawmakers for comment.
The current session, which began on Oct 7, is slated to end on Dec 5. - Mkini

Mat Sabu wants Sosma amended instead of repealed



Defence Minister Mohamad Sabu said he favours an amendment to the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma), which allows for detention without trial up to 28 days, instead of a complete repeal.
On the use on the law against individuals linked with the now-defunct Sri Lanka rebel group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), Mohamad said the matter should be left to the police, but noted that there have been instances where Sosma has been abused.
"There is no need to abolish Sosma. In my opinion, it needs to be improved from time to time to avoid abuse.
"Last time, (Petaling Jaya MP) Maria Chin Abdullah faced action for her involvement in (electoral reform group) Bersih, even though it should not have happened," he told journalists at the Parliament lobby today.

Mohamad, who himself was detained without trial under the now-repealed Internal Security Act (ISA) from 1984 to 1986, and from 1987 to 1989, said discussions were underway on how to deal with Sosma.
However, he said, a repeal has not been ruled out.
"I cannot guarantee that it won't be repealed, but it is under discussion," Mohamad added.
Sosma is again in the spotlight after police invoked the law to arrest several individuals, including current or former members of DAP, PKR and the PAS Supporters Wing, over alleged links to the LTTE, which is classified as a terrorist organisation by Malaysia. - Mkini

PAS wing says member caught over LTTE links quit last year



The PAS Supporters Wing (DHPP) is distancing itself from one of the 12 suspects arrested over alleged links to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), who is said to have been a member of the wing.
DHPP chief N Balasubramaniam (above) said the individual, aged 57, was only a temporary member of the wing.
"He was only a temporary member, he was with MIC before, then MyPPP, and when MyPPP got deregistered he came to support us.
"After (PAS) lost the general election then he quit," Balasubramaniam told Malaysiakini.

In a separate statement, he said the individual had joined DHPP on Jan 14, 2018.
A purported resignation letter, which was handwritten on an exercise paper, was shared with the media.
The letter dated May 21, 2018 states that the individual was quitting DHPP because he was not satisfied with their manifesto on education, particularly for not making Tamil studies a priority.
Malaysiakini is attempting to get further information regarding the matter.
Besides the DHPP linked individual, police have also arrested four individuals from the India-based party Naam Tamilar, and four DAP members.
The DAP members included assemblypersons G Saminathan and P Gunasekaran.
Those detained were accused of attempting to revive the defunct organisation which was decimated in 2009, bringing an end to the protracted civil war in Sri Lanka.
According to the police, one of the suspects, an insurance agent, allegedly planned to carry out an attack on the Sri Lankan High Commission in Kuala Lumpur.
Those detained are being held under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act, which allows for 28-days of detention without trial. - Mkini

MB disputes Guan Eng's claim that oil royalty paid to Kelantan



Kelantan Menteri Besar Ahmad Yakob is disputing Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng's claim that oil royalty payment has been disbursed to his state.
Ahmad said while Kelantan received a payment of RM15.75 million on Sept 18, he added that this was a "goodwill payment" and not oil royalty.
"The statement is untrue and confuses the rakyat. What Kelantan is demanding is oil or gas royalty, but what was given is a goodwill payment.
"It is a big difference. It doesn't matter if they want to give the goodwill payment or not, but the royalty is our right," Ahmad told the Kelantan State Legislative Assembly today.

He was responding to a question from W Hassan W Ibrahim (Semerak-PAS).
Ahmad added that Lim should look up the dictionary definition of "royalty payment".
Yesterday, Lim said the oil royalty for Kelantan was already disbursed last month, after PAS' Pengkalan Chepa MP Ahmad Marzuk Shaary claimed that the Pakatan Harapan government had failed to make good on its promise. -Mkini

Dr M: I was bullied in school



Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad is used to getting things done his way.
In a lighthearted interview with radio station Hot FM, Mahathir revealed that he was not always the strong man he is known to be.
Instead, Mahathir said he actually used to get bullied as a young boy.
"I used to be bullied. I would sell balloons, buy three of them for two sen, and sell it back for one sen each.

"So my friend would then take me to the canteen, and I'd have to buy rice for him.
"I was afraid of him because he was strong. So in the past, sometimes I'd get bullied," he added.
Mahathir said his bully was one of his neighbours, Husin.
The 94-year-old shared the anecdote when asked if he was a naughty child.
Other stories Mahathir shared of his youth, included how he used to sell banana fritters and firewood to help support his family during the Japanese occupation of Malaya.
But not many of his contemporaries from his schooling days are still around.
"All my old friends have passed away except for two," he said.
He said the two, Khalid and Osman, are both in their 90s, and he would occasionally visit them whenever he goes back to Alor Setar, Kedah.
The other lighthearted insight the prime minister shared was that his favourite Nasi Kandar dish was beef - which was hard to get when he was young.
He also said that his favourite song was by P Ramlee, although he could not remember the title of the song. - Mkini

1MDB trial postponed as Najib has to deliver speech in Parliament



Today's hearing in 1MDB criminal trial against former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak is postponed to tomorrow as the Pekan MP has to be at parliament to deliver a speech.
Lead defence counsel Muhammad Shafee Abdullah told the court that Najib was initially slotted to speak between 11am and 12 noon during the parliamentary debate on Budget 2020.
According to Shafee, Najib's slot as well as six other BN MPs in the morning, however, got displaced by speeches by other parliamentarians, including PKR president Anwar Ibrahim, who is Port Dickson MP.
"He is raising some very critical issues in parliament today, and that has been prepared since the past two weeks. It is not easy to get 20 to 30 minutes speech (slot) unless you sneak in (during) budget debate. This is the budget debate," Shafee said.

The lawyer claimed that Najib had prior to this made an application to Dewan Rakyat speaker to slot him at 4.30pm so that he can attend the trial, but was not fulfilled.
"He made an application in parliament two weeks ago. But he got to know his slot a day before I told Yang Arif.
"If not, he would have applied to Yang Arif earlier (to vacate today's hearing session)."
Yesterday, Shafee had made a request to the court for today's session to start in the afternoon as he has to be at the Federal Court in the morning for another matter.
He also informed the court that Najib would have to be present in parliament to deliver his speech today, scheduled at 11am.
Meanwhile, lead deputy public prosecutor Gopal Sri Ram objected to the application by the defence to postpone today's hearing.
Gopal told the court that it was not enough reason for Najib to be absent from his trial just because he could not give up his slot at parliament.
"If there is any other good cause (to be absent from parliament), this is a good cause," he said.
Gopal said the prosecution had also brought other witnesses on standby to testify as they were not sure when the defence would complete their cross-examination on former 1MDB CEO, Shahrol Azral Ibrahim Halmi, who is ninth prosecution witness.
For the record, today was supposed to be the 22nd day of 1MDB trial against Najib, with Shahrol expected to resume with his testimony under cross-examination by Shafee. - Mkini

Japan typhoon death toll rises to 58 as hopes for missing fade



The death toll in the worst typhoon to hit Japan for decades climbed to 58 on Tuesday as rescuers slogged through mud and debris in an increasingly grim search for the missing and as thousands of homes remained without power or water.
The storm hit a wide swathe of central and eastern Japan, with 15 missing and some 211 injured nearly three days after Typhoon Hagibis - whose name means "speed" in the Philippine language Tagalog - lashed Japan with high winds and intense rains, national broadcaster NHK said.
Some 138,000 households were without water while 24,000 lacked electricity, a far cry from the hundreds of thousands without power just after the storm but cause for concern in northern areas where the weather was starting to turn chilly.
The highest toll was in Fukushima prefecture north of Tokyo, where levees burst in at least 14 places along the Abukuma River, which meanders through a number of cities in the agricultural prefecture.
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At least 18 died in Fukushima, including a mother who was caught up in floodwaters with her two children, one of whose death was confirmed on Monday while the other, a little boy, remained missing.
Thousands of police, fire officials and military personnel continued to search for people who may have been cut off by floodwaters and landslides set off by the storm, with hope diminishing that the missing would be found alive.
Survivors described how waters rose rapidly to chest height in roughly an hour and mainly at night, making it hard to escape to higher ground. Many of the dead in Fukushima were elderly, NHK said.
"I couldn't believe it, the water came up so fast," one man in Fukushima told NHK.
Though the threat of rain is expected to diminish on Tuesday, temperatures are likely to drop in many areas later this week, in some cases to unseasonably low temperatures, NHK said.
- Reuters

Palm oil facts to be taught in school, proposal for tourism afoot



Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok has mooted to include the Palm Oil Experience Centre into an official tourist destination of the country in conjunction with Visit Malaysia Year 2020.
This is after she launched the Sime Darby Plantation Bhd's educational hub at Pulau Carey today.
She said she will propose the idea to the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry once Sime Darby Plantation Bhd is ready to receive more international tourists.
"That all depends on how ready the Sime Darby site is. This can always be listed under the tourist destination list.

"Once Sime Darby is more ready, then maybe we can propose its Palm Oil Experience Centre to the Tourism Ministry," she told the media after launching the Palm Oil Experience Centre today.
Sime Darby Plantation Bhd chief advisor and value officer Franki Anthony Dass, who attended the press conference, said the educational hub, which opened in March is ready to take in foreign tourists.
Kok also said her ministry will be allocated RM27 million under Budget 2020 for the publicity work under the Love My Palm Oil campaign and to deal with the anti-palm oil movement.
In her speech earlier, she also thanked other ministries that were so supportive of promoting palm oil, including the Education Ministry and Tourism Ministry, as well as the Youth and Sports Ministry.
She expects that learning about palm oil will be included in the primary school syllabus next year.
"We have met the Education Ministry and its director-general (Amin Senin), and they agreed to try to include the palm oil," Kok said.
She reminded those who operate oil palm estates larger than 100 acres to obtain the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) certification soon.
MPSO will not renew the license of operators without the certificate next year as this is part of the effort of Malaysian Palm Oil Board to move toward mandatory certification, she said.
In the long run, Kok said smallholders may need to be educated on good agricultural practices and stop open burning.
Meanwhile, she said Indonesian authorities have updated Putrajaya on its findings concerning four Malaysian companies implicated in open burning in the republic.
In September, four Malaysian companies which operate oil palm plantations in Indonesia were accused of causing forest fires within their plantations.
The four Malaysian companies are IOI Corporation, Sime Darby Plantation Bhd, TDM Bhd and Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd.
Sime Darby Plantation Bhd said the fire on Sept 3 occurred outside the operational area of PT Sime Indo Agro, which is part of Minamas Group, a wholly-owned Indonesian subsidiary of Sime Darby Plantation.
Sime Darby Plantation Bhd group managing director Mohamad Helmy Othman Basha has denied the allegations its plantation had caused any forest fires.
He said the majority of the Malaysian companies had long ceased the prohibited practise of open burning, adding that machinery was used to clear land.
Mohamed Helmy, however, said that Indonesian villagers who resided inside the palm oil concession areas used open burning for land clearing.
"We were given a concession land (to plant oil palm and the land is partly) resided by settlers and villagers. Some chose to stay there and overtime, the settlements grow.
"When the dry period was extended this year, fires started spreading (after villagers cleared the land). This was what happened in the Sime Darby Plantation (there)," he said.
According to Mohamad Helmy, Indonesian authorities visited the plantation after accusations were levelled by an Indonesian minister.
"They came to us, and we showed there where the fire started. There were satellite images and it was not possible to run away," he said, adding the company has yet to be informed of any findings.  -Mkini

Anwar, BN MPs' veiled remarks pepper succession plan with more intrigue



PARLIAMENT | BN lawmakers repeatedly teased PKR president Anwar Ibrahim over the uncertainty of him succeeding Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
As expected, the Port Dickson MP repeated his usual spiel on the matter.
But what raised eyebrows were the veiled references by both Anwar and BN MPs which suggested the existence of behind the scenes efforts to rally MPs for and against the succession plan.
Anwar, who was debating the budget speech in the Dewan Rakyat, was sidetracked when Shahidan Kassim (BN-Arau) questioned him about the succession plan.

"This question is a little sensitive. Has the issue of succession been resolved?" asked the Umno man.
Anwar then repeated that the plan was not just between him and Mahathir but involved all Pakatan Harapan leaders as well. He also pointed out that an agreement was inked in January last year for Mahathir to pass the baton to him.
However, the PKR president made a passing remark that Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi did not ink the document.
"But the Umno president didn't sign it - not didn't, but not yet," he said, laughing.
This is bizarre because if Anwar was referring to the Harapan document on the succession plan, as it does not concern Zahid, leading to the question if he was hinting at some other clandestine agreement.
The hint-dropping became more apparent as the debate proceeded.
Anwar: Don't bow to threats of prosecution
Noh Omar (BN-Tanjung Karang) stood up to demand if the Harapan agreement spelt out specific dates for the transition of power to take place, to which Anwar conceded there were none.
"However, in discussions, there have been talks it is one year and there were also discussions it will be two years maximum... But it is a decision for Harapan leaders, not just me or Langkawi (Mahathir) alone.
"So friends, enough with the perception. For me, it is settled but it is subject to God's will," he added.
Bung Moktar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan) then attempted to interject but Anwar responded: "I hope when Kinabatangan puts down his signature, I hope he signs for this side and not other sides."
Anwar then inferred that former Umno vice-president Hishammuddin Hussein (BN-Sembrong) was working on a plan and advised MPs not to fear threats of prosecution against them. However, he did not elaborate.
"This is the problem of wanting to follow the strategy by Sembrong and others. All this is nonsense.
"All this is sometimes for personal survival... to close MACC cases. We don't want that. Politics should not be about threats, it should be about principles.
"Be it threats of prosecution or imprisonment, one's principle must not be sacrificed," he stressed.
Bung Moktar (above), who is facing graft charges involving Felcra funds, then claimed that he is one such person. 
Following this, Ahmad Maslan (BN-Pontian) expressed concern about Anwar's fate when "the matter is executed."
"Langkawi (Mahathir) said (he will go) before the 15th general election. He has also said (when interviewed) abroad that (he will go) after major problems are resolved and when the national debt is resolved.
"I am worried that Port Dickson (Anwar) will only become a side prime minister (PM tepi) when the matter is executed," he added.
Shahidan (photo) then suggested that Anwar resolve the issue with Mahathir in an amicable manner.
"After that, they can shake hands and be happy, happy - happy hour lah... that is the best," he added.
Anwar: If I become PM, I will need everyone's support
However, a boisterous argument erupted when Willie Mongin (Harapan-Puncak Borneo) accused Shahidan of making insinuations against Anwar and demanded that he stop, stating it was not the place to discuss the topic.
However, an adamant Shahidan retorted: “I'm solving your president's problem, he understands my language. We are northerners."
At this juncture, Dewan Rakyat speaker Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof (photo) intervened, telling Anwar that he had two minutes left and asked that he wind up his speech.
Anwar, in his closing remarks, reiterated that there would be no changes to the succession plan.
"I also hope there are no attempts at disruption by the opposition. As is with the guarantee from Kinabatangan - and Bagan Datuk is also nodding - I assume our problem is resolved,” he added.
Following this, Shahidan quipped, much to the chagrin of Willie, if this meant Anwar no longer needed support from his side.
"This is a political threat," cried Willie but Anwar responded with laughter.
"I am but an ordinary man who has gone through good and hard times in the last decades. If it is God's will that I am to govern, I will need the support of everyone so that this country can develop," said the PKR president.
Anwar also acknowledged that many have asked various ministers about the succession plan but expressed disagreement that a fixed date be given as it would affect the position of the current prime minister.
These veiled remarks come amid talks in the political circles that a faction in Umno might be working with certain quarters in Harapan, including in PKR, to block Anwar from becoming prime minister.
Anwar's faction is also speculated to be canvassing support from both sides of the political divide. - Mkini