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Thursday, February 28, 2019

Water rationing if dry spell continues in Perlis

(Reuters pic)
KANGAR: The water level in the Timah Tasoh Dam is currently normal and will be able to sustain supply for another four months, the Perlis Drainage and Irrigation Department said today.
However, its deputy director Mohamad Hafiz Harun said if the hot spell continues till May, water reserves could deplete severely, compelling them to ration the water supply.
“The dam was recorded at the normal level of 28.10m yesterday. For domestic consumption, the dam can supply 19.79 million cubic metres. This means the supply can last for only three to four months,” he told Bernama today.
For agriculture, he said the water supply would be adequate for one to one-and-a-half months.
“I would like to advise the public to use water prudently during the dry spell hitting the country now,” he said.
The only dam in the state was built at a cost of RM77 million and was completed in 1992 to supply water for domestic, agricultural and industrial use.
Meanwhile, Perlis Meteorological Department director Mohd Saharudi Saad said the Chuping Meteorological Station in Padang Besar recorded the highest temperature in Chuping at 36.8 degrees Celsius on Feb 8 and 22.
He said the current hot weather is expected to persist till the end of March. - FMT

Speak up on low price Singapore is paying for raw water, PM tells Johor

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad today urged the Johor government to be more vocal about the issues they are facing, specifically in relation to the ridiculously cheap price Singapore is paying for raw water from Malaysia.
Mahathir pointed out that Johoreans themselves were not speaking up about this and were merely waiting for the negotiations between both countries.
He said Malaysia had been selling raw water to Singapore at 3 sen per 1,000 gallons, and this has been the case since 1926.
“We need to argue and fight over this. A rich country is buying from a poor country at an unreasonable price.
“Singapore is a developed country with an income per capita of US$18,000, while Malaysia has yet to even reach RM10,000.
“But we are not so smart in promoting our problems. You need to tell all that this is not fair. Singapore has been rapidly growing, thanks to our water.
“The state government needs to constantly talk about this. Don’t just wait for Putrajaya or the negotiators.
“Speak out on how rich people are depending on poor people. Speak out, on how that is morally wrong. That Singapore is exploiting water from Johor,” he said in his speech at the start of the Johor government’s retreat session at the Pulse Grande Hotel here today.
Present were other Cabinet ministers, Johor Menteri Besar Osman Sapian as well as other Johor MPs and state assemblymen.
‘Johor must use its advantages’
Mahathir said while Singapore may have its advantages, it was similarly the case with Johor.
“Johor is equally as strategic as Singapore. Singapore has its advantages, but so does Johor.
“They must use these advantages to get part of the growth and development Singapore has attained.
“What is beneficial to Johor is its proximity to Singapore.
“If we realise this, we will get ideas as to how we can use Singapore as a comparison for Johor (to develop),” he said.
Last year, Mahathir had criticised the price of raw water sold to Singapore as being “ridiculous” and voiced his intent to renegotiate the terms.
The water agreement, which expires in 2061, entitles Singapore to draw up to 250 million gallons a day (mgd) of raw water from the Johor River daily.
In return, Johor is entitled to a daily supply of treated water of up to 2% or 5 mgd of the water supplied to Singapore.
Singapore pays 3 sen per thousand gallons of raw water, and sells treated water back to Johor at 50 sen per thousand gallons.
Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah is leading negotiations with Singapore on the price of raw water.
Meanwhile, Mahathir also acknowledged that the oil palm industry has contributed to Johor’s development, as well as its income. However, he lamented that the estates are smallholdings, of two or three acres each.
Smallholder estates, Mahathir said, could not possibly enrich the country.
“The oil palm industry can generate income for us, but we need big estates.
“The problem these days is that when the price of oil palm drops, the workers suffer and will then ask for a subsidy from the government.
“This must be rectified. If we are to have oil palm estates, we need to merge all the smallholders, and let the professionals run the big estates. We need to change our approach,” he added. - FMT

MAHB profit surges to RM727.30 mil

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad’s (MAHB) net profit surged 203.35% to RM727.30 million in the financial year ended Dec 31, 2018 versus RM239.75 million in 2017.
This was attributed to, among others, unrealised gain on the fair value of investment in GMR Hyderabad International Airport Ltd (GHIAL) amounting to RM258.4 million.
MAHB has an 11% stake in GHIAL.
The group’s revenue rose 4.3% to RM4.85 billion from RM4.65 billion last year, underpinned by growth in airport operations, it said.
Total revenue growth by both aeronautical and non-aeronautical segments increased 4.7% from RM4.35 billion to RM4.56 billion, it said in a filing to Bursa Malaysia here today.
However, non-airport operations’ revenue declined slightly by 1.8% over the last year to RM291.4 million, mainly due to lower contributions from the agriculture business.
“Overall, Malaysian operations recorded a revenue of RM3.54 billion with growth of 3.5%.
“The Turkey and Qatar operations recorded a revenue growth of 6.3% to RM1.15 billion and 8.4% to RM149.1 million respectively,” it added.
On net profit, MAHB said there was an unrealised gain on the fair value of investment in GHIAL amounting to RM258.4 million and higher revenue of RM200.4 million.
“Cost has increased by 1.8% to RM4.64 billion as compared with last year, mainly due to higher utilities and administrative cost recorded during the year.”
The net profit for Malaysia and Qatar was higher compared with 2017, while Turkey operations recorded an improvement in pre-tax loss to RM209.0 million, decreasing by RM78.5 million compared with last year, it said.
The fourth quarter net profit, however, was lower at RM28 million compared with RM32.28 million, while revenue stood at RM1.25 billion versus RM1.24 billion previously.
On the outlook, MAHB said based on prevailing economic conditions and the airlines’ seat capacity offered, Malaysian passenger traffic in 2019 is expected to grow by 4.9%. International and domestic passenger traffic is expected to grow at 2.4% and 7.6% respectively.
MAHB’s network of airports, including, Istanbul Sabiha Gokcen International Airport (ISGIA), recorded 133.1 million passengers in the current year under review from Jan 1, 2018 to Dec 31, 2018, representing a growth of 3.9% over the previous year.
During the year, traffic for international passengers improved by 5.9%, while traffic for domestic passengers increased by 2.2%.
Correspondingly, aircraft movements improved by 2.8%, with international aircraft movements increasing by 6.1% and domestic aircraft movements increasing by 0.7%, it said. - FMT

Bossku? Only thieves would want Najib as boss, Dr M says



SEMENYIH POLLS | Only thieves would want former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak as their boss, said Pakatan Harapan chairperson Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
"Bossku? I don't get it. Taking a thief as your boss.. They must be thieves too," Mahathir said in a brief speech during the Semenyih campaign today.
Najib is currently awaiting trial on charges of money-laundering, criminal breach of trust and corruption in relation to the 1MDB scandal.
The "Bossku" persona is Najib's new gimmick which he adopted during the Cameron Highlands by-election campaign last month.

Its image depicts him smiling and posing on a small motorcycle purportedly to identify with the mat rempit (youth bikers) who are among his supporters.
Mahathir's remarks about the "Bossku" character comes after the prime minister himself posed with a small motorbike surrounded by supporters.
About 100 motorbikes had been brought to the Semenyih Tesco parking lot for the "Santai 2 Roda" (Chilling on Two Wheels) event which Mahathir attended.
[More to follow]

Fahmi denies it was Anwar’s voice in viral video recording

a man sitting on a table: Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil to Malay Mail at the Lembah Pantai Service Centre in Kuala Lumpur January 18, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif© Provided by Malay Mail Sdn Bhd Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil to Malay Mail at the Lembah Pantai Service Centre in Kuala Lumpur January 18, 2019. — Picture by Firdaus Latif
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 28 — PKR communications director Fahmi Fadzil has rubbished a video recording making rounds on social media, implicating party president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in a phone conversation.
Utusan Malaysia quoted the Lembah Pantai MP who was responding to the claims after the video that was uploaded on Twitter by user @mahazalimreturn, garnered over 3,100 views.
“This is not the voice of Anwar, the grammar and pronunciation especially for several words differ too much and the speech is too hurried,” Fahmi was quoted saying in the report.
The video recording showed a handphone screen on loudspeaker mode, supposedly with Anwar, with the words “DSAI” on the screen, initials to Anwar’s name.
The supposed voice of Anwar is heard saying how disappointed he was in “Mahathir’s move”, a reference believed to be over Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s move to introduce his party Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) into Sabah recently.
The conversation allegedly brought it names like Bersatu president Tan Muhyiddin Yassin, where Anwar supposedly said, “Recently, I’ve spoken to Muhyiddin also, I told him, it was not done right, Mahathir did not do it the right way.”
Instructions to gather “networks” were then relayed over the phone call, with the caller asking the receiving end to preempt him on Mahathir’s future “moves”.
“You have to see from inside, what is Mahathir’s move; you have to tell me quick.
“When you tell me late, it makes it hard for me to work,” the recording transcribe reads.
The caller is also heard being told to contact PKR deputy president Rafizi Ramli, to “do something” in the near future.
“Azmin is confirmed for sure, I am telling; now the 22 parliament with him, we have to take it back,” said the caller, believed to be referring to PPBM’s 22 MPs. 
“If we don’t take, I’m telling you it will make it hard for us to work.
“So this March, you have to really check in March, you have to say something to Rafizi, have to do something,” he purportedly said.
It is unclear why the name Azmin, believed to referring to PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, was mentioned. 

That Al Jazeera interview where Najib lost his cool? It just won a UK award

a group of people sitting at a table: Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak speaks to Mary Ann Jolley on Al Jazeera’s 101 East show. — Picture courtesy of Al Jazeera© Provided by Malay Mail Sdn Bhd Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak speaks to Mary Ann Jolley on Al Jazeera’s 101 East show. — Picture courtesy of Al Jazeera
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 28 — An interview last year where Datuk Seri Najib Razak repeatedly lost his cool while being grilled has won broadcaster Al Jazeera an award as “Interview of the Year”.
Al Jazeera’s 101 East programme announced that it was given the award in the 2019 edition of the UK’s Royal Television Society’s Television Journalism Awards.
101 East is thrilled to announce we’ve been awarded Interview of the Year at the prestigious Royal Television Society Awards in London. Watch Mary Ann Jolley’s interview with former Malaysia PM Najib Razak here: aje.io/najib,” the programme wrote on its official Facebook page.
The other two nominees for the same category were those from two UK broadcasters: Channel 4 News with Max Mosley ITN for Channel 4 and ITV News with Sir Cliff Richard ITN for ITV.
On the website for the RTS Television Journalism Awards 2019, the jury noted that all three nominees for “Interview of the Year” category were “great examples of the interviewer’s craft”.
“But one interview stood out for its courage, tenacity and sheer unadulterated watchability — Malaysia: Najib Speaks.
“Although the story focused on an issue few would have known about prior to the interview, this did not detract from the viewer’s ability to understand the jaw-dropping venality of the interviewee,” the jury said.
“The interviewer’s forensic approach was compelling, her knowledge formidable and her ability to combine persistence with grace quite extraordinary,” it added when describing Jolley.
The Television Journalism Awards, which has been given out by the RTS annually since 1997, is said to recognise “creative and excellent journalism by organisations whose broadcasts are transmitted on a UK-based platform, or who create online video content from a UK production base”.
The RTS has its roots as the Television Society which was founded in 1927, and which was granted its royal title in 1966 with the Prince of Wales becoming its patron in 1997.
The 25 minutes-odd video clip of the interview which was posted on Al Jazeera English’s official Youtube page has over one million views and 11,000 likes at the time of writing.
Malay Mail has written about the award-winning interview, where Najib among other things spoke about fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho and the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal, and even said it was a good thing that Jolley was deported from Malaysia previously when he was in power.
Najib had also in the interview made claims about the funding for his stepson Riza Aziz’s film production company Red Granite Pictures which produced the Hollywood movie The Wolf of Wall Street, as well as a 22-carat pink diamond pendant linked to his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and the alleged Middle East culture of giving expensive gifts.
Najib later said he lost his cool when Jolley persisted in asking him about the high-profile murder of Mongolian model Altantuya Shaariibuu, while Jolley later expressed surprise that Najib was allegedly not more prepared for the interview.
Video player from: YouTube (Privacy Policy)

Hands off minimum wage

The proposal by Human Resources Minister M Kulasegaran to set a minimum wage structure for different industries makes nonsense of the purpose of institutionalising minimum wages.
According to him, the current rate of RM1,100 is too high for some sectors.
The minister should go back to learning his Minimum Wage 101.
According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the minimum wage is defined as “the minimum amount of remuneration that an employer is required to pay wage earners for the work performed during a given period, which cannot be reduced by collective agreement or an individual contract”.
This definition refers to the binding nature of minimum wages, regardless of the method of fixing them. The purpose of minimum wages is to protect workers against unduly low pay.
Minimum wages are intended to overcome poverty and reduce inequality, including those between men and women, by promoting the right to equal remuneration for work of equal value.
The purpose of a minimum wage is to set a floor while collective bargaining is meant to set wages above an existing floor.
By saying that his ministry was looking into more “relevant” basic salaries for different sectors, the minister has literally lost his bearings. The minimum wage applies across the board. To do otherwise would be to make nonsense of the concept of minimum wages.
Means testing the way to go
It’s time Malaysians got used to the idea of “means testing” because it is not only a fairer way of redistributing wealth and resources but it is the way to go in other areas such as allocating scholarships and loans in education and other sectors.
Thus, if there are employers in small enterprises who find paying the minimum wage challenging, the government should give them assistance in other forms such as fiscal incentives and other means. In no way should the minimum wage be compromised.
As for the bigger enterprises, they should pay the minimum wage since they can afford it. Obviously, these enterprises should be expected to declare their assets and profits to qualify for these incentives.
The government must also give us some assurance that the minimum wage policy will be stringently enforced since some employers have failed to observe even the latest RM1,100 minimum wage, which was passed in the Parliament.
More importantly, the government must increase the minimum wage to RM1,500 as pledged in its election manifesto. The increase of RM50 from the previous RM1,050 is an insult to human dignity and will take us till kingdom come to reach a high-income society status.
As an activist commented on his placard during the protest against the measly RM50 increase last year:
“+RM50: Are you kidding me?”
Kua Kia Soong is the adviser to Suaram. - FMT

Lawyer lodges report against ex-MP for contempt of court


Lawyer Manjeet Singh Dhillon (right) says he has evidence that N Gobalakrishnan was campaigning in the Semenyih by-election but the former MP maintains he was in Kulim, Kedah.

PETALING JAYA: Lawyer and former Malaysian Bar president Manjeet Singh Dhillon has lodged a police report against former Padang Serai MP N Gobalakrishnan for allegedly showing disrespect to the Federal Court.
Gobalakrishnan, who is appealing against liability and damages for defaming Manjeet, produced a medical certificate to stay away from a court proceeding on Tuesday.
“I have evidence that he was actively campaigning in the on-going Semenyih by-election but he sent the medical certificate to be absent from court on Tuesday,” Manjeet said.
He said he made the report at the Brickfields police station yesterday for contempt of court and offences committed under the Penal Code.
“This morning, a police officer from Putrajaya recorded my statement to start the investigation,” he told FMT.
Gobalakrishnan denied that he was in Semenyih on Monday and Tuesday to campaign for Barisan Nasional candidate Zakaria Hanafi.
“I went to a government hospital in Kulim, Kedah, which is my hometown, as I was not well and obtained a certificate for two days,” he said.
A three-member bench chaired by Chief Judge of Malaya Zaharah Ibrahim adjourned the hearing to April 4.
Zaharah said it would be the final adjournment as Gobalakrishnan had produced a similar certificate to the court last month.
Last year, the Court of Appeal affirmed the findings of the High Court against Gobalakrishnan and former Utusan Malaysia journalist Raja Syahrir Abu Bakar and Utusan Melayu (M) Berhad for defaming Manjeet.
In the High Court, Gobalakrishnan was ordered to pay RM150,000 in damages while the ex-journalist and the publisher were ordered to pay RM200,000 in compensation.
The appellate court also ordered TV3 to pay RM200,000 in damages following an appeal by Manjeet.
Utusan Melayu has appealed against the ruling to the Federal Court but TV3 did not pursue the matter.
Gobalakrishnan had uttered defamatory words in an interview by the media during the murder trial of cosmetics millionaire Sosilawati Lawiya.
Manjeet filed a RM2.5 million suit on Sept 26, 2011 in which he named Gobalakrishnan, Raja Syahrir, Utusan Melayu and TV3 as defendants. - FMT

AG practising double standards in charging Papagomo, claims KJ


Former Umno Youth Khairy Jamaluddin.

PETALING JAYA: Former Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin today accused Attorney-General (AG) Tommy Thomas of practising double standards in charging Umno Youth executive member Papagomo under Section 509 and Section 323 of the Penal Code.
He said in the case of lawyer Siti Kasim, who was charged under the same sections for her actions at a forum two years ago, the Attorney-General’s Chambers had dropped the case last month.
But today, he said, Umno Youth executive committee member Wan Muhammad Azri Wan Deris (Papagomo) was charged under these same sections.
“The Papagomo and Siti Kassim cases are based on offences committed under the same law. Papagomo’s case was brought to court but Siti’s has been dropped,” he said in a Facebook post.
“I am not defending Papagomo’s actions, but I want to know why the AG’s actions are not consistent.
“If this goes on, the rakyat will lose trust (in the system) and it will definitely cast a bad impression on the country’s legal system,” Khairy said.
Papagomo claimed trial at the Magistrate’s Court in Klang today to insulting and causing hurt to Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman.
He was charged under Section 509 of the Penal Code with uttering the words “you are stupid” (“kau bodoh”) and Section 323 of the same law for injuring Syed Saddiq on his neck and shoulder on Feb 16.
This happened allegedly during the Semenyih by-election campaign.
Siti, on the other hand, was investigated under Section 509 of the Penal Code for “uttering a word or gesture intended to insult the modesty of a person” two years ago.
In 2016, Siti was heckled by participants at a forum on PAS’ plan to introduce heavier penalties for Muslim offenders.
A police report was lodged against her after she showed them the middle finger. She was later investigated by the police. Siti reportedly said her critics were trying to accuse her of insulting Islam.
Earlier this month, police had informed Siti that her case had been classified as “no further action” by the Attorney-General’s Chambers. - FMT

Johoreans are supportive of Forest City



Yet again, the Forest City project in Johor has made headlines in recent weeks and has become the target of considerable press coverage – nationally and internationally. From being antagonised by certain quarters to a temporary ban on foreign owners and now environmental concerns over Sungai Pulai mangrove area, there seems to be a lot of national focus on Forest City for reasons best known to certain “people”.
It was reported that part of the Sungai Pulai forest reserve is now being transformed into the 800ha Forest City Golf Course Resort and this has raised alarm bells amongst certain parties.
While I believe in the importance of preserving the environment, we also must look at the big picture and take a case-by-case approach in balancing development and environment. Everything we do today should be in a sustainable manner and not on the basis that “there are trees there so nothing can be done there”.
Once upon a time, there were trees all over Malaysia but in order for development to happen, our forefathers and those before them had to clear some of this in order to develop and grow the economy and create jobs that could feed their families. And most of these development orders and planning was done by none other but by the governments of that time. At the same time, this does not mean we go out there and cut every single visible tree.
We cannot simply base our position on an ideology and reject any form of development without considering its potential benefit to the local economy. We need FDI badly and foreigners investing in Malaysian properties or spending money here bring hard cash into Malaysia.
In the case of Forest City, as much as it has drawn so many criticisms by various parties, local Johoreans are actually very supportive, excited and proud of the project. We are excited and supportive as it opens up opportunities and increases our local economy specifically local participation in economic development.
The project has not fully completed yet local businesses have benefited from the influx of tourists, international and local. More tourists mean more income for small businesses and this, in turn, increases our quality of life.
Development on this scale will also provide job opportunities amongst the locals. I was told that the hotel in the golf resort has over 150 local employees making up 90 per cent of the total hotel staff. And so far, the Forest City project has created 1,200 job opportunities for locals, equivalent to an 80 percent localisation rate of the total employee workforce.
This is equivalent to Forest City funding more than 1,350 Malaysian families with opportunities and paying for their living expenses. In times of the government wanting to reduce its “bloated” workforce, can we afford to cancel a development that provides livelihood and opportunities to our population? If these Malaysians lose their jobs, are the NGOs going to feed their families or will the federal government create new job opportunities for these families?
The Forest City Golf Resort and the Jack Nicklaus designed Forest City Legacy Course will attract golfing enthusiasts from all over the world and elevate the state of Johor’s golfing tourism reputation in the region with a world-class championship course.
It is set to help revive golf tourism in Johor which was popular back in the 1990s but dwindled due to a gamut of factors including competition from golf clubs in Indonesia and Thailand. We are losing our tourism dollars to our neighbouring countries and also losing out in improving our economy and improving the value of the ringgit.

Last but not least, every development has a price tag to it. What is more important is that it has to be done responsibly and sustainably. There is nothing wrong with integrating and balancing our natural wealth with sustainable development for the benefit of the local community.
There is nothing wrong with criticising as well but please do it ethically and responsibly. Do not just do it to satisfy some privileged national powers and in the end families of the common Johoreans suffer through the loss of jobs and Johor gets lesser tourism revenue. - Mkini