Pahang MB to hold four portfolios

CAMERON HIGHLANDS — Pahang Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail said he would hold four portfolios in the new state executive council.

The four portfolios are Financial Planning; Land and Natural Resources; Investment, Industrialisation and Economy; Rural Development and Orang Asli Affairs; and Agriculture, Agro-based Industry, Plantations and Biotechnology.

However, he said, this would only be temporary before Pahang Regent Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah consents to the proposal to add two more exco members to the eight members at present as allowed under the Pahang state constitution.

“The proposal to appoint two more exco members has been submitted to Tengku Abdullah and if he consents to it, I will relinquish two of the portfolios that I am holding,” he said after chairing the first exco meeting after the general election held at the Cameron Highlands Land and District Office. Also present was State Secretary Datuk Seri Muhammad
Safian Ismail.

Wan Rosdy also announced three new faces in the exco line-up.

Datuk Nazri Ngah, the assemblyman for Pulau Tawar was appointed Felda Affairs, Cooperatives, Entrepreneurs and Consumerism Committee chairman, while Datuk Mohammad Fakhruddin Mohd Ariff (Bebar) was appointed Science, Green Technology, Communications and Multimedia Committee chairman and Abd Rahim Muda (Lepar) was named Local Government and Housing Committee chairman.

Exco members from the previous term who were reappointed include Lanchang assemblyman Datuk Seri Mohd Sharkar Shamsuddin (Tourism, Environment and Non-Governmental Organisations) and Datuk Seri Shahaniza Shamsuddin (Kuala Sentul, Culture, Unity, Social Welfare and Women and Family Development).

The others were Datuk Seri Syed Ibrahim Syed Ahmad (Kerdau, Islamic Religious Affairs, Education and Health); Datuk Seri Norol Azali Sulaiman (Guai, Basic Amenities, Public Delivery System and Innovation) and Datuk Seri Mohd Johari Hussain (Tioman, Human Resources, Youth and Sports).

Wan Rosdy said the appointments took into account the background, capability and experience of the exco members, especially those reappointed.

“For example, Abd Rahim had served with the Kuantan municipal council and Mohammad Fakhruddin was an engineer,” Bernama quoted him as saying.

In Kuala Pilah, 10 Negri Sembilan state executive councillors took their oath of office before Yang di-Pertuan Besar Tuanku Muhriz Tuanku Munawir at Istana Besar Seri Menanti.

They comprise five DAP, three PKR and two Amanah elected representatives.

The DAP councillors are Teo Kok Seong (Bahau); J. Arul Kumar (Nilai); Choo Ken Hwa (Lukut); S. Veerapan (Repah) and Nicole Tan Lee Koon (Bukit Kepayang). Those from PKR are Mohamad Nazarudin Sabtu (Pilah); Dr Mohamad Rafie Ab Malek (Ampangan) and Ismail Ahmad (Labu); while Mohamad Taufek Abd Ghani (Paroi) and Bakri Sawir (Klawang) are from Amanah.

Tuanku Muhriz handed the letters of appointment and the councillors signed the oath of office, loyalty and secrecy.

The portfolios of the councillors are expected to be determined at the first meeting of the state executive council to be chaired by the Menteri Besar Aminuddin Harun today.

Tuanku Muhriz, in his address, congratulated the assemblymen.

“The appointment must be taken as a challenge for, besides being elected representatives in your constituencies, you have the responsibility to draft the policies and direction of Negri Sembilan. You must discharge your responsibility with honesty, fairness and professionalism,” he said.

Tuanku Muhriz reminded the councillors not to abuse their power for the sake of their own, family or friends’ interests, especially when making decisions involving government tenders or projects.



Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad wields axe in bid to slash RM1tril national debt by dissolving five agencies — the Land Public Transport Commission, the Special A† airs Department, the Village Development and Security Committee, the National Professors Council and the Performance Management and Delivery Unit. Chairing the first Pakatan Harapan Cabinet meeting, he also says his ministers have agreed to take a 10 per cent pay cut.


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Chop for five agencies, ministers’ salaries

PUTRAJAYA — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad terminated several agencies including the Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) and the Special Affairs Department (JASA) in apparent austerity measures prompted by the discovery of Malaysia’s over RM1 trillion debt burden.

In a press conference here after chairing the first Pakatan Harapan Cabinet meeting, the prime minister said the agencies will be absorbed by the relevant ministries and their assets and manpower redeployed where needed.

“SPAD will not be maintained, but the duties will be returned to Transport Ministry,” he said.

When pressed to explain the significance of his announcement, he said this meant SPAD would be “abolished”.

Others that will be discontinued include the Village Development and Security Committee (JKKKP) that the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government used to reward village chiefs.

Dr Mahathir noted that while these were formed under the federal government, they did not come under its direct control.

He also added that the committees were political rather than administrative, and their functions redundant.

“There won’t be any compensation as we do not want to practise the politics of the previous government,” he said.

Another casualty is the National Professors Council (NPC) that was viewed as aligned with BN previously.

The PM said that while it was created for the government to obtain feedback from the intelligentsia, this also became political and used to prop up the BN administration.

“Most institutions that are not part of the government, but were supposed to advise the government, will be disbanded,” he explained.

Commenting on the 17,000 contract public workers who will be terminated, he said it was determined that most were political appointees and reiterated that all will be released from their contracts.

Those with valid non-political functions, such as drivers, would be re-engaged following this termination.

“But first they will all be terminated,” he said.

He also said another move was to reduce Cabinet members’ pay by 10 per cent, replicating a similar step he took in 1981.

The paycut appeared designed to reinforce his previous revelation that Malaysia was over RM1 trillion in debt due to the excesses and abuses of the defeated BN administration.

He also invited senior civil servants to join in the austerity move, but said he would leave this to the discretion of the individual ministries.

“When I was first appointed in 1981, I cut the salary of ministers and senior civil servants.

“But if they feel they want to contribute in reducing the cost of the country, they can do so, but we won’t force it,” he said yesterday.

He said that the salaries of ministers were less than that of government senior officers.

A federal minister’s monthly basic salary is about RM14,907.20, while the prime minister and deputy prime minister’s monthly basic salaries total RM22,826.65 and RM18,168.15, respectively.

Dr M says no need for spy agency

PUTRAJAYA — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he would review the covert Malaysia External Intelligence Organisation that had been parked as a research division under the previous prime minister’s direct control.

Dr Mahathir said such a unit had not existed during his previous 22 years in government, but added he had not been briefed on its operation and indicated it may not be continued.

“I have to review. I haven’t been fully briefed… I know their activity is not good for the government, we don’t want to be spying on the people,” he said.

“We don’t need them, including their intelligence. I think we are quite intelligent now.”

On Monday, the existence of the intelligence unit came to light following reports that its head was probed by authorities over links with former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

It was reported that Najib had given the individual important documents two days before the general election.

Unnamed sources revealed that the unit had 300 personnel and generous funding.

It was claimed that among its tasks was to keep track of government critics in the country and abroad.


Smiles and salutations

Smiles and salutations

BILLIONAIRE Robert Kuok salutes Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad when he called on the prime minister at his office in Perdana Putra in Putrajaya yesterday. A series of tweets by Dr Mahathir featured pictures of the Hong Kong-based tycoon saluting the prime minister after shaking hands with him. “I salute you, you’ve saved the country,” Kuok tells a chuckling Dr Mahathir. “Of course, with Daim’s help,” he added, referring to Tun Daim Zainuddin who heads the Council of Eminent Persons, of which Kuok is also a member. “Ya, I know, but we need your help now,” Dr Mahathir replied. On Tuesday, Kuok told Malaysians to put their trust in the council, saying those selected were excellent people. — Picture from Twitter/@chedetofficial


Dr M wields axe to slash RM1t national debt

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia will try to cut its national debt of RM1 trillion, some 65 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), by aborting or reconsidering some projects and cutting ministers’ salaries, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said.

Dr Mahathir said the national debt of Southeast Asia’s third-largest economy was 65 per cent of GDP, and earlier this week blamed abuses by the previous government, led by ousted prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, for the ballooning figure.

“I’ve been informed that our debt is actually RM1 trillion, but today we were able to study and look for ways to reduce this debt,” he said at a press conference.

Najib has said previously the national debt was below his government’s self-imposed ceiling of 55 per cent of GDP. But Dr Mahathir has said many of the figures recording the country’s financial position may be false.

Dr Mahathir also said the government will not raise fuel retail prices at present even though global crude oil prices have hit above US$70 (RM279) per barrel currently.

Following this announcement, RON95 petrol is unchanged at RM2.20 per litre, RON97 (RM2.47 a litre) and diesel (RM2.18 a litre). The fuel prices have been unchanged for more than one month.

Dr Mahathir said Pakatan Harapan through its manifesto had promised to stabilise fuel prices and reintroduce fuel subsidies to targeted groups.

“Our policy is not to have weekly changes in the price according to the market,” he said, Bernama reported.

Meanwhile, on the Good and Services Tax (GST), he said the government would reduce the six per cent rate to zero per cent by June 1, 2018, while the Sales and Services Tax (SST), which was abolished on April 1, 2015, would be implemented to replace the GST.

According to a statement issued by the Finance Ministry, the move to reintroduce the SST was needed as there would be a reduction in revenue from the GST collection as its rate has been zero-rated.

This measure was also in line with the fiscal reform being implemented by the government.

At the same press conference, he also said the government does not intend to take over Proton Holdings Berhad.

Stating it is privately owned by DRB-Hicom owner Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, Dr Mahathir yesterday said it is not up to the government to decide on the buyover.

“It is not owned by the government. It belongs to Syed Mokhtar.

“Whether to buy back or not, it depends on him,” he said.

Government to relook at search for missing MH370

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia will review and possibly end its agreement with a private US firm searching for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Flight MH370, carrying 239 people, disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8, 2014, in one of the world’s greatest aviation mysteries.

The previous Barisan Nasional administration had agreed in January to pay Houston-based Ocean Infinity up to US$70 million (RM278.95 million) if it found the plane during a search in the southern Indian Ocean expected to end in June.

“We want to know the details of this (search), the necessity of this, and if we find it is not necessary, we will not renew,” Dr Mahathir said after chairing his first Pakatan Harapan Cabinet meeting yesterday.

“We are reviewing the contract and we need to terminate it if (it is) not useful.”

Voice 370, a group representing the relatives of those aboard the flight, called on the new government to review all matters related to MH370’s disappearance, including “any possible falsification or elimination of records related to MH370 and its maintenance”.

“We urge the new government to include as part of its agenda in the next 100 days… a further investigation and inquiry into any act or omission across the entire spectrum of operations that may have impaired tracking, search, rescue and recovery,” the group said in a statement.

The decision to engage Ocean Infinity came after Australia, China and Malaysia ended a fruitless A$200 million (RM601 million) search across a 120,000 sq km area in the Indian Ocean last year, despite investigators calling for the target area to be extended 25,000 sq km north.

The Seabed Constructor vessel has covered 86,000 sq km so far but has yet to identify any significant findings, Ocean Infinity said in its weekly search
update last Tuesday.

In a separate press conference, Transport Minister Anthony Loke said Putrajaya will extend the search for missing Flight MH370 until next Tuesday, as requested by seabed exploration firm Ocean Infinity.

However, if the aircraft wreckage is not discovered within the stipulated timeframe, Loke said the search by the company will be discontinued.

“The current search ends May 29 and will not be extended beyond May 29.

“The company had requested that the search is extended for another week. Based on a ‘no cure no fee’ deal, the government would not need to pay if the wreckage or black box is found,” he said.


Isa Samad has a week to quit SPAD

PUTRAJAYA — Land Public Transport Commission (SPAD) chairman Tan Sri Isa Samad has one week to resign the post or he will be unceremoniously removed, said new Transport Minister Anthony Loke.

Loke made the offer at a press conference following an earlier announcement by the prime minister the commission will be absorbed by his ministry.

“SPAD chairman Isa Samad has to resign immediately. As a former minister, I hope he will do it the honourable way and voluntarily resign,” said Loke, who also extended the “invitation” to other political appointees under his ministry.

“I would prefer not to terminate the post or having to issue a termination letter.”

He said those holding positions on the boards of directors of port authorities, who were appointed by the previous minister under the Barisan Nasional administration, should also step down within the same time-frame.

“I do not have to name them one by one … it is not my approach to embarrass people. They should do the honourable thing and resign,” he said.

On the inclusion of SPAD into his ministry, Loke said the restructuring will take some time as the ministry has several matters to sort out, including plans to repeal the Suruhanjaya Pengangkutan Awam Darat Act 2010 (SPAD) in Parliament.

He said the department will continue to carry out its work and functions under the ministry’s supervision.

Earlier, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad terminated several agencies, including SPAD and the Special Affairs Department (Jasa), in an apparent austerity measure prompted by the discovery of Malaysia’s over RM1 trillion debt burden.

Cops count RM110m in 35 bags seized from condos

PETALING JAYA — Investigators have counted nearly RM110 million in cash found in 35 bags seized from three luxury condominium units at Pavilion Residences in Kuala Lumpur linked to ex-prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

But that is just the beginning. Police sources said the count is set to continue in the next few days as investigators try to get an accurate value of the other luxury items in the remaining 37 bags confiscated from the condo units
last week.

“Now the team is simultaneously working on getting accurate values for the other items such as the jewellery, gold bars and watches that were seized,” a source said on condition of anonymity.

According to police sources, the RM110 million is in various currencies.

Investigators started counting the cash on Monday with assistance from handpicked personnel from other agencies, including Bank Negara Malaysia.

Malay Mail understands the investigators had to record the serial number of each note as the count progressed.

Lim: 1MDB can’t repay, Arul Kanda ‘utterly dishonest’

KUALA LUMPUR — The Finance Ministry said yesterday the directors of 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) have confirmed the fund cannot repay its debts since it was “insolvent”.

In a statement here, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng also said 1MDB chief executive Arul Kanda Kandasamy explained he was on garden leave and unaware of the firm’s financial situation.

“The directors of 1MDB confirmed that 1MDB was ‘insolvent’ and was unable to repay its debts,” Lim said.

“The former chief finance officer, Azmi Tahir, had also written to MoF in March to state that 1MDB will not able to service its interest due in April and May.

“However, Arul Kanda, when asked, said that he was on ‘garden leave’ until the end of his contract in June. Therefore, he claimed that he was in the dark as to the financial situation of the company.”

Lim had two meetings to determine 1MDB’s financial status yesterday, together with deputy treasurer-generals Datuk Siti Zauyah Md Desa, Datuk Ahmad Badri Mohd Zahir and Datuk Asri Hamidon.

The first meeting was with 1MDB directors Datuk Norazman Ayob and Datuk Kamal Mohd Ali. The second was with Arul Kanda, who was accompanied by former CFO Azmi Tahir and former general counsel Ivan Chen.

Lim said Arul Kanda was uncertain of the value or existence of 1MDB’s “investments” — US$940 million (RM3.74 billion) “units” previously held with BSI Bank, Singapore, and the US$1.56 billion (RM6.22 billion) overseas investment funds with 1MDB Global Investments Limited.

“It is completely unbelievable that a highly paid and ‘experienced’ investment banker can be so irresponsibly clueless as to not know whether RM9.8 billion worth of investments are even real,” he said.

“I have found Arul Kanda to be utterly dishonest and untrustworthy, and instructed the legal advisers to the Ministry of Finance to review his position as the president of 1MDB.”

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