Sunday, December 23, 2007

KL seeks more meetings with Jakarta on issues

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia wants frequent meetings to be held at various levels, and with different groups from Indonesia to iron out issues.

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the meetings should also include sessions with the republic’s media.

Apart from exchange programmes, Malaysian leaders visiting the country should also make it a point to “have a chat” with them.

“We believe this is important as the Indonesian media is very open but they have a tendency to sensationalise stories reported from Malaysia.

“Sometimes the issues are blown out of proportion until we are seen as offending Indonesians, resulting in them having a negative perception of the country and our people,” he said.

Najib was speaking to reporters after hosting a breakfast dialogue with members of Indonesian political party Golkar, led by senior party leader H.R Agung Laksono.

The 23-member Golkar delegation is on a three-day visit, mainly to have discussions with Umno leaders.

He said that most times, the “issue at hand” was minor, such as the use of certain terminologies.

“While Malaysians and even Indonesians residing here would refer to those from the republic as Indons, the Indonesians back home take offence to such a reference. They feel we are degrading them, when that is certainly not the intention,” he said.

Najib said the dialogue was fruitful as both parties exchanged views in an open and frank manner.

Of late, the Indonesian media has been critical of Malaysian songs and dances performed at official functions and on the television. The republic claims these art forms belong to it.

The Malaysian Government has decided to shelve cultural performances originating from Indonesia, such as the barongan and endang dances, from official functions.

Land scams on the rise

KUALA LUMPUR: Landowners beware! Your property is at risk. There has been a rising number of land scams in recent years, especially in the Klang Valley. Worse, the scams are targeting higher-value land too.

Government statistics revealed in Parliament recently showed that there were 16 land scams recorded in 2001, 19 in 2002, 22 in 2003, 32 in 2004, 35 in 2005 and 80 last year.

Police statistics also showed that last year the value of land involved in the scams was almost RM4.9mil. This year, up till October, the value of the land was more than RM10.4mil.

Only four people were arrested over the offences last year and just one this year.

National House Buyers Association secretary Chang Kim Loong expressed concern over increasing incidences of land scams and the high number of unsolved cases.

“This could lead to a loss of confidence in the Malaysian property market,” he said.

Chang urged the Government to initiate an insurance scheme to indemnify anyone who suffers loss due to fraudulent land transfer.

Commercial Crimes Investigation Department legal / inspectorate division principal assistant director ACP Tan Kok Liang said that in certain cases it was difficult to get evidence against the perpetrators because they used other people's identity.

The most recent case involves Taiwanese businessman Chen Wei Pin, who found that a private caveat had been entered on his land by a director of Zen Zaman Sdn Bhd, claiming that Chen had sold the land to his company. Chen denied any such transaction.

His plight was brought up by the MCA Public Service and Complaints Department, which has received 18 such complaints involving land worth RM30mil in the past five years.

Assistant professor Dr Sharifah Zubaidah Syed Abdul Kader of the Public Law Department of the International Islamic University Malaysia said the law did not fully protect landowners, especially in cases of forgery.

“Even if they are able to prove the title is theirs, they can still lose their land. The court will inevitably rule against them as long as it can be proven that the purchaser had bought the land on good faith,” she added.

Roger Tan, the Bar Council's Conveyancing Practice Committee chairman, said the onus had fallen on landowners to conduct regular checks on their land title.

Tun Dr Mahathir quizzed by ACA over video clip

PUTRAJAYA: The Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) has interviewed Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad over the video clip purportedly showing a senior lawyer brokering the appointment of judges.

Dr Mahathir, who was fielding questions during a brief press conference at the Perdana Leadership Foundation here Saturday, said three ACA officers interviewed him on Friday.

"They questioned me and I answered them," he said, adding that the interview lasted for about one hour.

When asked what some of the questions were, Dr Mahathir said: "I cannot tell you that."

He said if he was asked to testify at the recently set up Royal Commission of Inquiry into the videoclip, he would not say no.

Dr Mahathir was also asked to comment on the setting up of the commission to which he said it was not his place to talk about it.

A reporter then said that Dr Mahathir's name was implicated in the video clip to which he said he did not know what was said and that he had not seen the clip.

"The only thing I have seen is what was shown on TV3. So I do not know what the lawyer (in the clip) said. You (the reporter) know better," he said.

On the Government using the Internal Security Act (ISA) against Hindraf leaders, Dr Mahathir said he himself had used the ISA before.

"It is up to the government and the people to decide this. You see, we are a democratic country.

"If the people selected to lead are the people who support the use of ISA, then they will use it. The choice is yours. I thought people approved the use of ISA when they supported me, so I implemented it."

However, Dr Mahathir felt that problems felt by any community ought to be addressed in other ways and that public assemblies should only be used as a last resort.

Earlier, Dr Mahathir launched a book entitled The Third World & International Law authored by Tunku Sofiah Jewa.

Dr Mahathir, who celebrated his birthday on Thursday and Tunku Sofiah whose birthday was Saturday, were also given surprise birthday cakes after the book launch.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Second bridge link with Thailand opens

JELI: The relationship between Malaysia and Thailand received a major boost yesterday when the second bridge linking both countries was officially opened.

The RM9.2mil bridge, spanning 120m across Sungai Golok, took 11 months to complete.

Both countries split the cost equally, with the project given to a Malaysian contractor.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who opened the bridge with his Thai counterpart Surayud Chulanont, said he was confident the new link would contribute to the relationship between both countries.

New landmark: A Thai boatman pushing his boat at Sungai Golok as the Thai and Malaysian Prime Ministers Surayud Chulanont and Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi (inset) launch the second bridge between Kelantan and Narathiwat. — Reuters
“I am confident the new link between Bukit Bunga (Jeli) and Bau Buketa (Narathiwat) will contribute towards further enhancing the strong bonds of friendship and cooperation between our two countries and people, especially between the residents of Kelantan and Narathiwat,” he said.

He also said the bridge was a project identified for implementation under the Joint Development Strategy for the border areas established in 2004.

Abdullah added that with the second bridge, which has an average of 100 people crossing it daily, the people of Kelantan would enjoy the benefits directly and immediately.

“This fact relates well to the special effort that the Malaysian Government is now undertaking to make Kelantan a new focal point for the development of the economy and social affairs, including the development of human capital.

“Kelantan is one of the states earmarked for growth and accelerated development under the East Coast Economic Region (ECER) corridor,” said Abdullah.

He also said that Kelantan, Perlis, Kedah and Perak were designated areas under the development blueprints for the Northern Corridor Economic Region (NCER), and he invited Thailand to invest in it.

Abdullah also said Malaysia was aware that Thailand was working hard to promote reconciliation and establish peace and stability in southern Thailand, and that Malaysia was always ready to give its full support to the Thai Government.

Surayud said the bridge was very important in fostering closer ties between both countries.

“This is historic because it is built at a time when we are celebrating 50 years of diplomatic ties between Thailand and Malaysia.”

He added that the bridge, the second across Sungai Golok, would be a boost to the ECER and would also improve economic growth and the transportation system in the border areas.

Later, after performing Friday prayers at the Jeli mosque, Abdullah presented a cheque for RM300,000 to the mosque for renovations.

He also urged Muslims to pray for the flood victims and hoped they would get new homes soon.

New RM50 note from Jan 30

KUALA LUMPUR: The RM50 note gets a makeover with enhanced anti-forgery security features and a design theme reflecting how far Malaysia has moved up the economic value chain after 50 years of independence.

The illustrations on the note include oil palm trees and microbiology technology, representing Malaysia’s economic transformation to the higher value-added activities in the agricultural, manufacturing, services and other sectors.

The front retains the portrait of the first king, Tuanku Abdul Rahman Tuanku Muhammad, on the right. The national hibiscus flower is in the centre.

Songket patterns frame the background and edges of the note to reflect traditional Malaysian textile handicraft and embroidery.

Bank Negara employee Lim Hsin Ying showing the new RM50 note. The issuance of the new RM50 notes also commemorates Malaysia 50th independence anniversary.
On the back, first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman is featured raising his hand in proud declaration of Merdeka! There is the logo of the 50th Independence anniversary as well.

Bank Negara governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz presented the new RM50 to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi yesterday. The note bore the serial number AA 0000009.

“This is yet another symbol of the economic success, national stability and prosperity of the nation. God willing, we will continue the success into the next 50 years,” said Abdullah at the TUDM air base before flying off to Kelantan.

The new notes will be available from Jan 30 next year.

Bank Negara has prepared commemorative special packaging for 20,000 of the notes.

Each will cost RM60 and will be available from Dec 26 at the headquarters and branches in Penang, Johor Baru, Kuala Terengganu, Kota Kinabalu and Kuching.

Dr Zeti said the current RM50 notes would continue to be legal tender even with the introduction of the new notes, adding that they would be phased out in a few years.