GOLD TURNS TO DUST

Four Genneva Sdn Bhd directors were each jailed for eight years and fined RM1 million for laundering over RM100 million. Their lawyer tried to get them o with fines, but the Court of Appeal said a deterrent sentence is needed for the size and gravity of their crimes in the defunct gold investment scheme.

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BabyAbuser

Charged with infanticide

Muhamad Firdaus Saidon bows his head in a bid to hide his face as he is led to court to be charged with the murder of his 46-day-old daughter. The baby died from bleeding in her brain and multiple injuries all over her tiny body. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

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Govt to ensure Chinese prosper, says Najib

KUALA LUMPUR — The government will continue paying attention and attending to the needs of the Chinese community to ensure they prosper together with the country, Datuk Seri Najib Razak said.

The prime minister said the Chinese community had not only played important roles in terms of economic and business development, but also contributed to the country’s struggle to obtain independence.

“I am sure everyone remembers our independence heroes such as Tun Tan Cheng Lock and Tun H.S. Lee or even Yap Ah Loy, who had built and developed Kuala Lumpur,” he said in a post on his blog najibrazak.com.

In terms of administration, Najib said the government had always ensured its policies were inclusive of the needs of every citizen, regardless of their race.

“Ever since I took over the administration, individual income tax has been greatly reduced, and this has certainly benefitted many professionals among the Chinese,” he said, citing the individual income tax rate which was reduced by two per cent in Budget 2018.

“Likewise, the reduction in tax rates for taxable income of up to the first RM500,000 from 19 per cent to 18 per cent was implemented in Budget 2017 for the development of small and medium enterprises (SMEs).

“In addition, I believe that the SMEs in Malaysia will receive huge economic benefits and opportunities with the setting up of the Digital Free Trade Zone,” Bernama quoted him as saying in the post.

On the issue of national-type Chinese schools (SJKC), one which was close to the hearts of the Chinese community, the prime minister said the government would continue giving aid and assistance.

“Last year, I announced the establishment of 10 new SJKCs, as well as an annual allocation of RM50 million for upgrading works,” he said.

Najib said as in previous years, SME entrepreneurs from the Chinese community had also been given special access to an RM50 million allocation announced under Budget 2018 through Koperasi Jayadiri Malaysia Bhd (Kojadi), besides an allocation of RM30 million for the 1Malaysia Hawkers and Petty Traders Foundation to provide loans to hawkers from the Chinese community.

The fate of Chinese new village residents had also not been overlooked, as the government had provided an allocation of RM75 million to improve the well-being of the population and the development of facilities such as halls and playgrounds, he said.

In order to ensure that policies drafted met the needs of the Chinese community, Najib said the government had actively engaged with groups and associations such as the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia and Hua Zong.

This, he said, was in line with the open approach adopted by the Barisan Nasional government, unlike the practise in some states which chose to marginalise the voices of Chinese associations, causing dissatisfaction among the community.

Referring to his meetings with the Chinese community in Kuala Lumpur and in Langkawi last week, Najib said he could feel the people were more confident about the country’s future.

“The Chinese New Year, which is celebrated together by all Malaysians, reminds us that Malaysia is a unique country with various moulds, and each community plays its role in developing the country,” he said.

Salleh: Opposition should accept Malaysia doing well

KUALA LUMPUR — It’s about time the Opposition accepts that Malaysia is doing well and government policies are working, Datuk Seri Salleh Said Keruak said.

The communications and multimedia minister said the Opposition kept repeating lies about Malaysia going bankrupt, despite international reports having proved it was not true.

“Too often, the issue of Malaysia’s economic progress is being politicised, and the people are being told the opposite of what’s really happening,” he said on his blog sskeruak.blogspot.my.

Salleh said the international community, however, recognised Malaysia’s achievements and could see the country was heading in the right direction.

He noted that 43 World Trade Organisation (WTO) members had commended Malaysia for its impressive economic achievement, prudent trade and economic policies.

It was reported that during their participation in the recent 7th Trade Policy Review of Malaysia that took place in Switzerland, they also commended the country for actively pursuing trade openness through unilateral reforms, regional and bilateral trade arrangements and multilateral rule-making.

“The (WTO) members also recognised that Malaysia’s successful diversification of its economy and economic reforms had contributed to continued growth despite external challenges,” Salleh said.

The minister said economic reforms were not easy and could never be done on a short-term basis.

“It requires resilience and, sometimes, unpopular policies to achieve the long-term objectives, especially when trying to undo the damage caused in the past,” he added. — Bernama

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Genneva four get eight years, RM1m fine each

PUTRAJAYA — Four directors of the defunct gold-investment firm Genneva Sdn Bhd received stiff sentences yesterday for money laundering involving over RM100 million.

Director Ng Poh Weng, 67; Marcus Yee Yuen Seng, 65; Chin Wai Leong, 41; and Liew Chee Wah, 63, were given prison terms under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act 2001 (Amla) and the Banking and Financial Institutions Act 1989 (Bafia).

Ng was found guilty on 68 charges, Yee (28), Chee (46) and Liew (12).

They were each sentenced to five years’ prison under Bafia, and three years each under Amla, with the sentences to be carried out consecutively.

The three-man court of appeal panel comprising judges Datuk Mohtarudin Baki, Datuk Seri Zakaria Sam and Datuk Abdul Karim Abdul Jalil.

In addition to the eight years, the four face an additional year’s imprisonment if they fail to pay the RM1 million fine each.

Mohtarudin said the heavy penalties were necessary due to the seriousness of their crimes and the huge amount of money involved.

“The amount of money involved in this crime is huge and the gravity of the crimes committed by these individuals is as well.

“Therefore, we have decided that the sentences will be as delivered.”

Prior to sentencing, Deputy Public Prosecutor Hamdan Hamzah had asked that each be imprisoned seven years for both the Amla and Bafia offences, in addition to the fine.

During mitigation, defence lawyer Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah asked the court to consider the defendants’ health and precedents in which similar offenders were only fined or given lower prison time.

“When considering non-violent crimes, there is impetus to issue a fine instead of a jail-term which is contrary to the dispensation of justice.”

BNM raided Genneva in July 2009 over a dubious gold trading scheme. Genneva Malaysia and its affiliates were similarly raided on Oct 1, 2012.

The bank froze Genneva Malaysia’s cheques, accounts and other assets worth RM99.8 million in cash, and seized 126 kg in gold bullion, based on suspicions that the company had broken several banking and financial laws.

Gold trading was not regulated in Malaysia until 2013.

Genneva had taken deposits that were used as investments, an act that is heavily regulated in Malaysia, with only banks, insurance and trust funds and few others allowed to engage in such activities.

The company and its then directors Ng, Marcus, Chin and Liew were accused of money laundering at their offices in Jalan Ampang here between July 2008 and June 2009.

They were also accused of illegally accepting public deposits at Jalan Kuchai Maju 6, Persimpangan Jalan Kuchai Lama here, between November 2008 and July 2009.

On May 16, 2013, they were acquitted by the Sessions Court. The High Court affirmed the acquittal on Sept 20, 2016. The prosecution then appealed these rulings.

Cops nab 11 suspects over alleged links to IS

KUALA LUMPUR — Police arrested 10 suspects in Sabah while Singaporean authorities detained another for allegedly recruiting new militants for terrorist group the Islamic State (IS).

Commenting on the 10 caught in Sabah between Jan 24 and Feb 6, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun said yesterday there were attempts by the Abu Sayyaf extremist group to establish a cell in that state.

“The cell is to prepare and bring in Daesh influences from Southeast Asia region for the purpose of undergoing military-like training in the southern Philippines,” Mohamad Fuzi said, referring to the IS as Daesh.

Daesh is the Arabic term for the IS, which considers the name to be a pejorative.

“Members of the same cell were also to plan for future attacks in Sabah,” he added in a statement.

Of the 10 men and one woman, all aged between 27 and 50, Mohamad Fuzi said two were members of terrorist groups in the southern Philippines.

As for the Penang native who was arrested in Singapore, Mohamad Fuzi said the 34-year-old man had planned to joined the IS group in Syria.

The suspects, he said, were arrested under Act 574 of the Penal Code for terrorism-related offences, adding that police would invoke the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 to detain the group.

SOSMA is a procedural law which provides provisions for special measures pertaining to arrest, detention and investigation on security offences intended to maintain public order and security in the country.

‘Malaysia’s 4G speed among slowest in world’

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia’s 4G mobile internet service is among the slowest of 88 countries surveyed, UK-based wireless coverage mapping specialist OpenSignal disclosed.

The report titled “The State of LTE” stated that the average speed of a 4G line in Malaysia last year was 14.83 megabits per second (Mbps), putting it among the bottom 20 countries on the list.

Although the service has been available for five years and promises internet speeds of up to 100 Mbps, Malaysia still lagged behind its neighbours such as Vietnam (average speed 21.49 Mbps), Brunei (17.48 Mbps) and Myanmar (15.56 Mbps).

However, the average speed was an improvement from the previous year’s performance of 14.35 Mbps, the report said.

Singapore topped the list with an average speed of 44.32 Mbps, followed by the Netherlands (42.12 Mbps), Norway (41.2 Mbps) and South Korea (40.44 Mbps).

Three other South-east Asian countries were among the worst performers: Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia. Laos was not ranked.

OpenSignal’s latest global report was published after analysing 50 billion measurements collected in the fourth quarter of 2017 to compare 4G performance in 88 countries.

The report also found that there was no sizeable increase in 4G speed among top performing countries and it hit a plateau of 45 Mbps across the board.

“For more than a year now, the fastest countries in the world seem to be stuck in a holding pattern, getting close but not surpassing the 50 Mbps threshold for average 4G speed,” the report read.

It, however, added that 4G availability continues to expand globally at a steady pace.

Consumers in five countries — South Korea, Japan, Norway, Hong Kong and the US — now have access to a Long Term Evolution (LTE) connection more than 90 per cent of the time. Just three months ago, only two countries had access.

Malaysia was ranked at number 42 on the list with 74.88 per cent of availability, coming ahead of its neighbours Brunei (73.66 per cent), Indonesia (72.39 per cent) and Vietnam (71.26 per cent).

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Darkness, icy waters await wreck hunters

SYDNEY — Salvagers are confident debris and human remains can be recovered if Malaysia Airlines MH370 is found, despite the pitch-black darkness, crushing pressure and ice-cold water awaiting them.

The disappearance of the Boeing 777 carrying 239 passengers and crew almost four years ago is one of aviation’s greatest mysteries, with an Australian-led hunt across a 120,000 square-kilometre zone failing to reveal the crash site.

Yet a new probe now underway by private firm Ocean Infinity — commissioned by Malaysia on a “no find, no fee” basis — has revived hopes the doomed plane might be found.

If the wreckage is located in treacherous terrain up to six kilometres deep — far off Western Australia and north of the earlier search site — experts say high-tech underwater robots can handle the demands of recovery.

“They (searchers) are working at the extreme edge of what’s capable,” said South African salvage master Nick Sloane.

“(But) the benefits to the manufacturers of the aeroplane, operators and the families are that if you actually locate the wreckage, it’s worthwhile to go ahead and take the next step and recover it.”

That expedition would require cutting-edge technology, likely last for months and potentially cost more than the maximum US$70 million (RM274 million) reward Malaysia is offering Ocean Infinity, according to deep-ocean salvagers.

To aid the previous search — the largest in aviation history — the ocean floor was mapped in detail for the first time, revealing the varied underwater terrain.

It showed seafloors more than 4,700 metres deep, vast mountains 1,500-metres high and kilometres wide, deep canyons and massive underwater landslides of sediment, Geoscience Australia said.

If debris is found between 2,000-6,000 metres — known as the abyssal zone — salvagers would work in a perpetually dark and near-freezing region where the pressure can reach up to 9,000 pounds per square inch (psi).

Wreckage has been recovered from such depths previously: Air France 447 at nearly 4,000 metres in the Atlantic, the cargo ship El Faro (4,500 metres) off the coast of the Bahamas, and South African Airways 295 (4,900 metres) off Mauritius — far deeper than where oil and gas companies operate.

Machines that can operate at such extremes include deep-ocean operator Odyssey Marine Exploration’s remotely-operated vehicles, which have frames constructed out of high-strength aluminium.

The ROV, tethered to the mother ship, is fitted with LED lights that illuminate the dark environment and can record high-definition footage, Odyssey Marine’s chief operating officer John Longley said.

The submersible — remotely driven by pilots on a surface ship — has two manipulator arms that function like “human hands” and can retrieve smaller objects, added deep-sea shipwreck hunter David Mearns.

Larger parts such as the jet’s wings can be brought to the surface using baskets or slings. Mearns said such underwater journeys could take several hours with the overall mission possibly lasting up to half a year. — AFP

Malaysians’ bitter experience with online abuse

KUALA LUMPUR — A new survey by Microsoft revealed 56 per cent of Malaysians have experienced some form of harassment online and one third of the total knew the perpetrators.

The 2nd Annual Digital Civility Index (DCI) also saw 66 per cent of them saying they know of family members or friends who have also gone through the experience.

“Many of these perpetrators have been named as people that the target knew. Twenty-nine per cent of Malaysians state that they know the perpetrator personally as a family member, friend or acquaintance,” a statement in the report read.

As a result, 48 per cent of those who met their perpetrators in real life, have lost sleep as a result and are also twice as likely to become depressed.

Malaysia, with its 56 per cent, ranked fourth out of 23 countries worldwide for exposure to online risks which was nine points lower than the global average.

The survey, conducted on teenagers aged 13 to 17 and adults between 18 and 74-years-old, asked about experiences and encounters with 20 different online risks.

These include behavioural risk such as online harassment, intrusive risk such as unwanted contact, sexual risk such as unwanted sexting and reputational risk such as doxing (Internet-based practice of researching and broadcasting private or identifiable information about an individual or organisation).

According to the survey, teenagers are the most susceptible to online risks as they are the least likely to pause before replying to something they disagree with and are the most likely to stand up for someone else.

“As a result, teenagers are most exposed to the consequences of online risks and are more likely than adults to become depressed or stressed.

“Those who have experienced harassment online often become less trusting of people online (49 per cent) and offline (33 per cent). These consequences were higher for females and teens than males and adults.”

The result of the survey also showed that Malaysians experienced sexual harassment like unwanted sexting, sex solicitation, sextortion and revenge porn, more than the global average.

“Thirty per cent of Malaysians have experienced unwanted sexting (received or sent), 14 points above the global average and the second most common risk overall behind unwanted sexting.

“Over one-third had experienced sexual risk led by unwanted sexting, received or sent (30 per cent) which was above the global average by five points,” it said.

Also, 28 per cent have been exposed to online abuse, and 20 per cent have been exposed to a hoax, scam and/or a fraud.

On the positive, most say they treat other people with respect and dignity.

“Malaysians were less likely to stand up for themselves or others before replying to something they disagree with compared with the global average,” said the report, adding that millennials have also been identified as having the highest civil behaviour.

Najib: Condolences to Chow Chee Keong’s family

KUALA LUMPUR – Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak expressed his condolences to the family of former national goalkeeper Chow Chee Keong, 69, who passed away yesterday morning.

“Received news of the death of former national goalkeeper Chow Chee Keong.

“He was the best Asian goalkeeper for five consecutive years, and a Malaysian football legend. My condolences to his family,” he wrote on his Twitter account.

Chow, the country’s best goalkeeper, died at the University Malaya Medical Centre. The celebrated sportsman who was suffering from urinary bladder cancer had also undergone a heart bypass surgery on
Jan 17.

Chow was named best goalkeeper by the Asian Football Federation (AFC) for five consecutive years from 1966 until 1970, and later created history as a professional footballer in Hong Kong. — Bernama.

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