Rulers to meet tomorrow over AG impasse

KUALA LUMPUR — The Malay Rulers are scheduled to convene for a special discussion tomorrow regarding the appointment of a new attorney-general (AG).

In a statement, the Keeper of the Rulers’ Seal, Tan Sri Syed Danial Syed Ahmad, said invitation letters had been sent out on Friday to the Malay Rulers to deliberate on this matter at Istana Negara.

Syed Danial said Putrajaya and Istana Negara have not arrived at an agreement regarding the termination of the services of current AG Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali, who has been asked to go on garden leave, and the candidate to replace him.

“The Malay Rulers have been following this development and consider it their responsibility to help resolve the impasse,” he said.

The statement quoted Article 145 (1) of the Federal Constitution as stating: “The Yang di-Pertuan Agong shall, on the advice of the prime minister, appoint a person qualified to be a Federal Court judge to be the Attorney-General for the Federation.”

It also referred to Article 145 (5) which states: “… the Attorney-General shall hold office during the pleasure of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and may at any time resign his office and, unless he is a member of the Cabinet, shall receive such remuneration as the Yang di-Pertuan Agong may determine.”

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday the federal government is making efforts to find a solution to the issue of appointing a new AG as soon as possible.

“Efforts are being made to resolve this problem,” he told reporters after chairing the Pakatan Harapan Kedah Council meeting at Dewan Seri Mentaloon in Alor Star.

Prior to this, Dr Mahathir had announced that Apandi would go on leave and was to be replaced by the solicitor-general.

Dr Mahathir said Apandi was granted leave following several complaints about him although no official report had been lodged over the allegations levelled against him. — Bernama

Delay will disrupt reform, says lawyers’ group

KUALA LUMPUR ― Malaysia cannot afford to delay appointing a new attorney-general (AG) as it will disrupt the implementation of key institutional and legal reforms, Lawyers For Liberty said yesterday.

The group’s adviser N. Surendran said Malaysia currently does not have a functioning AG with the incumbent Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali put on garden leave.

“Any further delay in appointing a new AG is bound to hold up or disrupt the important institutional and legal reforms expected by the people, as well as the widely expected prosecutions in the massive 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal,” he said in a statement.

Surendran said Apandi’s services should be terminated as he “does not enjoy the confidence of the new prime minister and his reforming government”.

He said neither a tribunal nor an enquiry is needed for Apandi’s termination as the prime minister could advise the King to do so at any given time under Article 145(5) of the Federal Constitution.

Meanwhile, PAS asserted yesterday the post of AG must be held by a Muslim, amid conflicting views over the government’s nomination of senior lawyer Tommy Thomas for the job.

The Islamist party’s information chief Nasrudin Hassan said only a Muslim AG will be capable of advising the government on Islamic matters to safeguard the rights and interests of the country’s majority Muslim population.

“Islam is the religion of the federation. The appointment of the AG must take off from there. The AG must be a person who is capable of defending Islam as the country’s religion,” he said in a statement.

Nasrudin said the King is sworn to “protect the religion of Islam at all times”.

“Therefore, the AG must be capable of protecting Islam on the King’s behalf. It would be awkward if the appointed AG is non-Muslim or is incapable of carrying out tasks to that purpose,” he said.

Nasrudin said the appointment of the AG must also fulfil the wishes of the majority population who are Muslim as “Islamic sensitivities must be protected”.

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SLOPPY CHAMPS

JOACHIM Low lambasted Germany’s sluggish display against Austria as the world champions were shocked 2-1 with influential goalkeeper Manuel Neuer making his comeback from a long-term injury in a World Cup warm-up match on Saturday.

“If we play like that in Russia, then we have no chance,” conceded the German boss.

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Spicy clash

SERENA Williams turned up the heat on Saturday ahead of her clash with bitter rival Maria Sharapova, saying the claims about her in the Russian’s book were “hearsay” and not “necessarily true”.

Sharapova, who Williams has beaten 18 times in a row, claimed in her recent memoir ‘Unstoppable’ that Serena “hated” her for hearing her cry after the 2004 Wimbledon final.

The fourth-round match at Roland Garros today will be the first time the two have faced off since the American’s win in the 2016 Australian Open quarterfinals — Sharapova’s last match before serving a 15-month doping ban.

“I think the book was 100 percent hearsay, at least all the stuff I read and the quotes that I read, which was a little bit disappointing,” said Williams after her 6-3, 6-4 third-round win over Julia Goerges.

“I have cried in the locker room many times after a loss, and that’s what I have seen a lot of people do. I think it’s normal.

“It’s a Wimbledon final, you know. So it’s just, like, I think it would be more shocking if I wasn’t in tears …

“The book was a lot about me. I was surprised about that, to be honest. You know, I was, like, ‘oh, okay. I didn’t expect to be reading a book about me, that wasn’t necessarily true’.”

The 23-time Grand Slam champion, who holds a 19-2 record over Sharapova, is playing her first Major tournament since winning the 2017 Australian Open, after giving birth to her daughter Alexis Olympia.

Williams’ only two losses to fellow former world No 1 Sharapova came 14 years ago — in the 2004 Wimbledon final and at the WTA Tour Championships — before even the birth of Twitter and YouTube.

But the 36-year-old thinks the Russian should be the favourite today as she lacks playing time, while Sharapova produced her best tennis since returning to the court in dismantling former world No 1 Karolina Pliskova 6-2, 6-1.

“Quite frankly, she’s probably a favourite in this match, for sure,” added Serena.

“She’s been playing for over a year now. I just started. So I’m just really trying to get my bearings and trying to feel out where I am and see where I can go.”

Sharapova has lost their last seven meetings in straight sets and has managed to take only three sets in 18 straight losses.

“Any time you play against Serena you know what you’re up against,” said the 31-year-old.

“I think there is a lot of things in her game that she’s done much better than I have … Numbers don’t lie.” — AFP

Del Potro warning for Nadal

JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO fired a menacing warning to those already writing Rafa Nadal’s name on the trophy with a bludgeoning 7-5, 6-4, 6-1 third-round defeat of Spanish claycourter Albert Ramos-Vinolas on Saturday.

The seemingly unstoppable Nadal might be the red-hot favourite to claim an 11th title at Roland Garros next weekend but Argentine powerhouse Del Potro could prove a significant obstacle in the semifinals.

The way the fifth seed overwhelmed Ramos-Vinolas on Court Philippe Chatrier with his serve and forehand working like clockwork will not have gone unnoticed in the Nadal camp.

“I think I was a bit lucky in the first set because Albert made me run a lot, but I had control of the match in the end and played well in the right moments,” Del Potro said.

“I’m playing better every day. Claycourt is not my favourite but I’m enjoying playing here.”

He will face American John Isner today and says he feels strong enough to keep going having suffered an injury scare in the build-up to the Paris event.

“I think I’m strong enough to keep doing well. (It) Has been three difficult matches to me, but I played well and I know I could play even better in my next round,” he said.

“All the guys who are still alive in this tournament has big chance to go far, so now the tournament becomes more interesting to watch and to play.”

Nadal made it 16-0 in his rivalry with childhood friend Richard Gasquet with a comprehensive 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory on Court Philippe Chatrier on Saturday.

Gasquet has now lost his last 28 sets against his fellow 31-year-old, a run dating back to 2008.

Nadal, who lost only two points in the first five games against Gasquet, will next play Germany’s world No 70 Maximilian Marterer, who beat Estonian lucky loser Jurgen Zopp 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 in the third round. — Agencies

On the volley

Does height matter?

KEVIN ANDERSON will tower over fourth round opponent Diego Schwartzman today but the big South African insists the Argentine’s short stature should not be interpreted as a weakness. World No 7 Anderson, at 2.02m, faces Schwartzman (1.7m), bidding to make the quarterfinals for the first time in Paris. “No matter what universe we play tennis in, he’s always going to be really a tough opponent to play, regardless of your height,” said Anderson. — AFP

Nadal tuck jumps fine

RAFA NADAL was warming up for his match against Richard Gasquet by performing his trademark ‘tuck jump’. Fortunately for the Spaniard, the players area at Court Philippe Chatrier has plenty of room for such a vigorous exercise unlike Wimbledon last year when Nadal smashed his head into a door frame as he waited to go on court to face Gilles Muller. — AFP

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Marathon man

ALEXANDER ZVEREV’S appetite for five-set marathons showed no signs of shrinking and even blisters on his toes could not stop the German from storming into his first major quarterfinal with a 4-6, 7-6 (7-4), 2-6, 6-3, 6-3 win over Karen Khachanov yesterday.

The German had survived successive five-setters in the previous two rounds, including saving a match point against Damir Dzumhur in the last 32, but his fatigued legs and blistered feet again worked overtime to carry him over the finishing line against Khachanov.

“I am young so I might as well stay on court for a while and entertain you guys,” the 21-year-old Zverev, who became the youngest man to reach the quarterfinals at Roland Garros since 2009, told the cheering crowd.

“All the hours I have spent in the gym has definitely paid off as I was down two-sets-to-one in each of the three matches.”

After looking down and out for much of the third set, Zverev was fired up by a code violation for being coached from the stands by his father Alexander Sr. midway through the fourth set and he vented his anger by instantly breaking for a 4-2 lead.

He was fortunate to survive a break point when serving for the set at 5-3, with Khachanov’s blazing forehand clipping the net cord and bouncing just millimetres behind the baseline.

While Khachanov’s misfiring racket felt the full force of his exasperation, with the Russian punching his strings with his clenched knuckles, Zverev fired down an ace moments later to draw level at two sets apiece.

Despite calling on a trainer to treat blisters on his left toes before the start of the fifth set, the world number three zipped around with ease to break in the opening game of the decider and finished off the 38th-ranked Russian after three-and-a-half hours of pulsating action.

Once Khachanov’s forehand was caught by the net, a beaming Zverev thumped his heart with his right palm before he sank to his knees and pumped both fists into the skies.

He will next play seventh seed Dominic Thiem who ended Kei Nishikori’s comeback with a 6-2, 6-0, 5-7, 6-4 victory yesterday.

The Austrian seventh seed, the last man to beat claycourt machine Rafa Nadal on his favourite surface, displayed an impressive arsenal of weapons in the first two sets before regaining his composure after the loss of the third.

“The first two sets were amazing but then he raised his level and it was 50-50. In the end it was very close and I was a bit nervous in the end as it is always hard to serve to reach the quarterfinals of the French Open,” said Thiem, a semifinalist here in 2016 and 2017.

“I love these conditions; it was the first time for me on Court Philippe Chatrier not playing against Rafa so I could enjoy the court,” he joked. — Reuters

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Keys enjoys Sunday stroll

NO FUSS, no drama — Madison Keys’ smooth ride continued as she brushed aside Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu 6-1, 6-4 to reach her first quarterfinal at Roland Garros yesterday.

The 23-year-old American with power to burn was far too strong for Buzarnescu whose dream run came to an abrupt halt.

Keys has not dropped a set so far and all the talk that her game was ill-suited to clay now looks redundant.

Make no mistake the 13th seed will now take some stopping.

Not that this Grand Slam run is being greeted with the kind of hullabaloo that accompanied her journey to last year’s US Open final in which she lost to compatriot Sloane Stephens.

“I think the US Open, for me, was a lot higher energy and just because it was late at night and all of that,” she said.

“So to be here and just kind of consistently getting through and just being happy with kind of low-drama matches has been really nice.”

Claycourt tennis is growing on her.

“I definitely feel more comfortable on it,” she said. “I feel like this year especially I have been finding the balance of being a little bit more patient but also playing my game.”

With the tournament now reaching the business end, having three-time Grand Slam champion Lindsay Davenport in her corner helps, says Keys.

“Lindsay has been amazing for me in a lot of ways but I think we have always really managed slams well,” she said.

“Before I started working with her was always a tough one for me, especially managing my emotions.” — Reuters

Melaka will develop ports to bring back glory days

MELAKA ― The Malay Sultanate once thrived because of Melaka’s strategic position and well-known port. As such, Chief Minister Adly Zahari is determined to restore the sector as a major economic contributor to the state.

To make this a reality, Adly said, Melaka has to plan the development of a sustainable port.

The first step towards this direction would be to focus on the development of three ports — Port of Malacca Gateway, and the Tanjung Bruas and Kuala Linggi ports.

He said the focus on these three major ports, compared with nine by the previous government, would accord more attention on their development, thereby accelerating the economic growth in the state.

“Given this focus, including monitoring the ports’ development, we can speed up the process of approval, changes to the site where land reclamation is taking place, and proper distribution between the state government and concessionaires involved in the development of a particular coast,” he told Bernama.

“This is a time-consuming process. (If there are too many port projects) then the projects’ progress will slow down, we will try to shorten it.”

Adly said the development of Port of Melaka Gateway, once completed, would focus on generating the economy through tourism.

The Tanjung Bruas port would contribute by way of being a container port handling transportation operations.

He said Kuala Linggi port has been identified as having the potential to be developed into an international port, as in the past, it has generated RM50 million in revenue annually for the state government.

“We will hold discussions with Negri Sembilan on the issue of borders. We believe once the Kuala Linggi port is developed, Port Dickson will flourish in terms of providing income opportunities while Kuala Linggi will develop as meeting industry requirements,” he said.

As for revenue expected to be generated by the three ports, Adly said the potential was still being assessed and would be announced once the evaluation process for the ports are finalised.

On the cost to be borne by the state government to develop the ports, he said it involved foreign investors and the state government which was involved with land and reclamation ground.

“The Tanjung Bruas port project involved many local companies, the development of Kuala Linggi port is open for bidding to various parties, while the reclamation work for the Melaka Gateway Port project will be jointly undertaken by KAJ Development Sdn Bhd and foreign investors,” he said.

“The combination is expected to help the state government accelerate the economic development process, thus shortening the construction period for high-impact projects.”

Adly said the state government would empower the tourism sector to ensure it remained one of the major contributors to the state’s economy.

“Melaka City will be be tapped to the fullest to realise this objective,” he said, as it was known as a world heritage city.

However, not all areas were being tapped and used effectively now for tourism purposes, for example Jonker Walk, which was just passed off as a lane.

Jonker Walk starts from across Melaka River near the Stadthuys. The road is filled with historical houses on both sides dating back to the 17th century.

It also has shops selling antiques, textiles, foods, handicrafts and souvenirs, which can be developed further as a tourist attraction.

“We also see potential in rural tourism. We can bring around tourists to experience village life and also promote medical tourism. With increased tourism potential, more job opportunities and businesses will be created and this will spur the state economy,” he said.

Melaka, which is targeting 20 million tourist arrivals for “Visit Melaka Year” next year, registered 16.75 million tourists last year and attracted about RM20 billion in foreign investment over the last five years.

Adly also said the Melaka government intended to develop its sand industry to become a supplier to glass manufacturing and other related industries.

“We have a lot of sand which is used for reclamation work. We will also talk to glass manufacturers to source the raw material from us. For example, a glass factory in Lipat Kajang is currently sourcing sand from Terengganu and not from within the state,” he said. ― Bernama

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Heed Rafidah’s new ‘ketuanan’ call, Kit Siang tells Malaysians

KUALA LUMPUR ― Malaysians should accept Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz’s call for ketuanan Malaysia as it advocates the inclusive ideals conceived by the country’s founders, DAP’s Lim Kit Siang said yesterday.

The Iskandar Puteri MP said the ketuanan Malaysia or Malaysian supremacy concept was the original principle on which the country was founded after independence in 1957, but which had been diverted by Umno with its ketuanan Melayu push.

“We want to build a New Malaysia which is united, democratic, just and progressive, and this is where Rafidah’s call for a more inclusive concept of ketuanan Malaysia is most pertinent and relevant,” he said in a statement.

“For a thriving democracy, we must operate in a new political environment and culture where checks and balances are institutionalised in our system of governance.”

Lim said the ketuanan Malaysia concept promotes the democratic processes and ensures the ruling coalition will not take a tit-for-tat approach and “persecute” the new Opposition, as the defeated Barisan Nasional had done during its decades in government.

“In five years’ time, Pakatan Harapan will have to seek a new mandate from the voters ― a reminder that time is short for PH national and state governments to prove themselves that we deserve a new mandate in five years’ time and not just to be a one-term national or state government,” he said.

Rafidah mooted the concept of Malaysian supremacy to replace Malay supremacy during an interview with news portal Malaysiakini published on Saturday, saying it was relevant to the current social climate.

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