More places for Indians in colleges and varsities, says Najib

PUTRAJAYA — The government is studying measures to increase the number of Indian students in matriculation colleges and public institutions of higher learning (IPTA), said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

He said this was because the intake of Indians in such institutions had not achieved the target of seven per cent.

“The government is looking into increasing the number of matriculation places for Indian students. As an inclusive government, we have always ensured no one should be left behind in the development of the country,” he said at a MyNadi Foundation event yesterday.

The foundation is a non-governmental organisation set up to raise the living standards of the Indian community.

Najib said 100,000 households of the Indian community with the median income of the bottom 40 per cent (B40) will be able to take part in a special investment scheme in Amanah Saham 1Malaysia (A1SM) to be launched on April 7.

“Further announcements would be made on the date.

“So far, 411.14 million units of shares have been subscribed (by the Indian community) through a distribution of 1.5 billion units of additional A1SM for the Indian community on Jan 29 this year.

“This is a very encouraging achievement. So, believe me that I want each Malaysian including the Indian community to feel hopeful for the country,” he said to thunderous applause from more than 700 people at the event.

Najib said the government was always fostering the spirit of nambikei (Tamil for trust) with the community for them to move forward as a race and to ensure their wellbeing and prosperity.

“Under the present leadership, we will continue to assist the Indian community to find their rightful place in the country. This is my hope,” he said.

Even though the government placed its emphasis on inclusive policies, Najib said, there would be individuals and groups in the community who were marginalised over a number of reasons in whatever system in the world.

“As a government, we will look into the needs of all groups. For the Indian community, the government launched the Malaysian Indian Blueprint (MIB) on April 23 last year with progress made in several areas. We will continue to implement more programmes,” he said.

“I believe we need to combat the challenges and problems of the Indian community through education with emphasis on social mobility, family values and principles for success.”

Najib said he aimed for the country to not only provide quality education but access to higher education as well as vocational training to make sure every individual would be able to realise his or her maximum potential. — Bernama

‘GE14 could be before or in May’

BAGAN DATUK — Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi once again hinted when the 14th general election (GE14) is expected to be held.

Launching the 2018 Bumiputra Education Tour at SM Sains Bagan Datuk yesterday, he envisaged GE14 would be held before or in May, after he was informed of the final location and the end of the tour in Miri, Sarawak on May 2.

“That will probably be too late. If possible, make it a bit earlier, else it might be overrun by events,” he said.

Before this, Zahid had given several hints on when GE14 would be held, for example, after the Chinese New Year, namely, February. Zahid had also hinted during a Mahabbah religious programme that GE14 would be held before Hari Raya Aidilfitri. — Bernama


Avoid sensitive issues, Sultan tells parties

SERDANG — The Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar yesterday advised political parties to avoid sensitive issues, especially those that could cause racial and religious conflicts in the run-up to the 14th general election (GE14).

He said all political parties must shoulder the responsibility to preserve peace and harmony and ensure the wellbeing of the people.

“If there are undesirable outcomes (in GE14), it is the people who will suffer and will lead to the destruction of the nation,” he said when opening the Malaysia Bike Week 2018 at the Malaysian Agriculture Exposition Park here yesterday.

Sultan Ibrahim reminded the people to always remain united and not become split just because of differences in opinions or political ideologies.

He said that to ensure harmony, all parties must focus on commonalities and not try to outdo each other.

The Sultan said the culprits were those who played the race and religious cards to instigate the people to hate each other.

“In a multiracial and multireligious society, mutual respect, give and take are incumbent upon all. Every citizen must play his or her part to maintain peace and harmony in our beloved country,” he said.

Sultan Ibrahim said this was why he introduced the “Bangsa Johor” clarion call so that Johoreans or others living in the state would feel as “one people” and thus live in peace and harmony.

“People in other states also share things in common that unite them. Nevertheless, when we talk about the national level, all of us are united under one country as Malaysian citizens,” he said. — Bernama

BN and Pakatan MPs join campaign against racism

KUALA LUMPUR — Nineteen politicians from Barisan Nasional (BN), including a minister, and Pakatan Harapan (PH) have taken part in a campaign by pro-democracy group Bebas to promote anti-discrimination laws, secularism and transparency.

The #CabarCalon campaign launched on Jan 27 aims to get voters to ask their candidates in the 14th general election to support laws prohibiting discrimination in employment and in the property market, to stop the usage of taxpayers’ monies for religious activities, and to declare their assets before running for office.

“Voters must hold their elected representatives accountable. Ask questions and demand answers. Candidates for the upcoming GE14 need to earn the votes of their constituency,” said Bebas co-founder Azrul Mohd Khalib in a statement.

“We call upon voters to participate in the campaign. They can do so by uploading pictures of themselves on social media, with any of the three questions or even any question, stating their respective constituencies and incumbent representatives or GE14 candidates. These should be tagged with “#CabarCalon”, “#GE14” and the respective constituency and incumbent candidate.

“Bebas urges leaders to answer these questions from their voters.”

Thus far, BN leaders who have participated in the campaign included Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan, Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin and BN Backbenchers Club chairman Tan Sri Shahrir Abdul Samad, all of whom are from Umno, MCA publicity chief Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker and Gerakan vice-president Datuk Dominic Lau.

Opposition politicians included DAP’s Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching, Parti Amanah Negara’s Kuala Krai MP Hatta Ramli, as well as Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia youth chief Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman.

Bebas has also released the first of three videos from its #CabarCalon campaign. It said more photos of participating politicians and campaign updates will be available on its Facebook page.


1 million affordable homes achieved

KUALA LUMPUR — The federal government has reached its target of providing one million affordable homes, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said yesterday.

“The government has achieved our target to build one million affordable homes nationwide. This even includes houses in the Opposition-led states like Penang and Selangor,” he said after visiting the Ekspo Jualan Perumahan-Ke Arah Sejuta Impian at Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) yesterday.

He said a total of 139,338 houses have been built, 311,281 houses are in various stages of construction, while the remaining are in the process of pre-approvals.

Najib said Perbadanan PR1MA Malaysia (PR1MA) is on the right track to build 500,000 homes for the rakyat, targeting particularly the middle 40 per cent (M40) group.

He said PR1MA had revealed that 16,000 of its homes nationwide have been taken up with an estimated gross development value of RM4 billion in under two years.

“This is a true testament to the government’s efforts to deliver on the National Housing Agenda for the rakyat in the M40 group,” he said.

The nine-day expo, which showcases more than 600,000 homes, is organised by various federal and state housing agencies such as PR1MA, the Urban Well-being, Housing and Local Government Ministry, Syarikat Perumahan Negara Berhad, 1Malaysia Housing Projects for Civil Servants (PPA1M) and Federal Territories Affordable Housing (RUMAWIP).

Najib said the attraction of the expo were products that could fit the financial means of both the bottom 40 per cent (B40) and M40 groups.

PR1MA was established under the 2012 PR1MA Act to roll out a thorough and extensive programme in building quality houses for the middle-income group who lives in urban and sub-urban areas with a household income of between RM2,500 and RM15,000 a month.

‘BN to review S’gor housing conditions’

KUALA LUMPUR — Barisan Nasional (BN) will review the “additional requirements” imposed on housing developers in Selangor if it wins the state in the upcoming polls, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said yesterday.

Speaking at a press conference after visiting the National Housing Sales Expo, Najib, who is also the BN chairman, said Selangor was imposing too many additional conditions that increased costs for both developers and the buyers.

He did not specify what those conditions were.

“Many developers, not only those affiliated with Perbadanan PR1MA Malaysia (PR1MA), have voiced out their dissatisfaction against the conditions,” he said.

“The BN government does not have plans to add more conditions to the housing developers in Selangor because we know it would only bring up costs. If we were given the trust to rule Selangor, we will review the conditions in place, which were set by the current state government.”

On March 6, Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Tan Sri Noh Omar, in a reply to Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Gelang Patah) at the Dewan Rakyat, said Selangor’s policies had hindered the federal government from providing affordable homes.

He cited the process of land status exchange and expensive land prices as examples.

Bankruptcy claim utterly baseless, says Najib

KUALA LUMPUR — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has reiterated a claim that Malaysia is going bankrupt as baseless.

“The highest debt level was recorded in 1986 when the national debt ratio then was 103.4 per cent of the country’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product). Today, our debt to GDP ratio is just 50.8 per cent,” Najib, who is also the finance minister, said during a dialogue in conjunction with the National Transformation Programme Annual Report 2017 Review on Friday.

“This means that the government has been prudent and responsible.”

The dialogue was facilitated by Datuk Seri Idris Jala, the adviser to the prime minister for the NTP.

“If we were to look at the debt ratio of other countries, Japan’s debt ratio is 240 per cent of the GDP, Singapore 111 per cent and the United Kingdom 89 per cent,” he said.

“Logically, these countries should go bankrupt first, instead of Malaysia. Not us. Hence, a claim that Malaysia will go bankrupt is utterly baseless.

“Besides, the Malaysian economy’s bright prospects had been validated by global institutions and major credit rating agencies had reaffirmed Malaysia’s position within the ‘A’ band with a stable outlook.”

Najib said Malaysia is one of the few countries in the world to put a statutory limit on government debt, further demonstrating the government’s tenacity and discipline to institutionalise reforms.

“The government’s debt was 50.8 per cent of the GDP last year, safely below the self-imposed debt ceiling of 55 per cent of the GDP,” he said.

On the GST and removal of fuel subsidies that are said to be the main issues contributing to the rising cost of living, Najib said: “Actually, the price increase is not just due to GST, because when we implement GST, we provided for a soft landing.

“That’s why we have excluded 578 items, especially basic items such as rice, chicken, eggs, fish, vegetables, breads, cooking oils, fruits, books and medicines from GST.

“In Malaysia’s history, the inflation rate reached the highest level in 2008 and 1998. For example, in July 2008, the country’s inflation hit 8.4 per cent, but since the GST was introduced, the inflation rate was at 2.1 per cent in 2015, 2.1 per cent in 2016 and 3.7 per cent last year.”

Last month, the inflation rate reduced to 1.4 per cent.

“It is far-fetched that the price of ikan kembong (Indian mackerel) has gone up due to GST as fish are not subject to GST.

“So all this hearsay is not based on facts. The GST is not a new issue. In 1984, the government at that time wanted to implement GST but it did not have the political courage to implement.

“But we are willing to bear the political cost because it is the right thing to do. It will benefit the rakyat and the country, in the long run. I am convinced.” — Bernama


‘Save our trees’

Seven-year-old triplets (from left) Eytan, Enrique and Evanz Lee hold drawings pleading for the forest to be left alone at Taman Rimba Kiara, Kuala Lumpur, during a ‘picnic protest’ yesterday. — Picture by Miera Zulyana



The government has reached its target of providing one million affordable homes, including in states controlled by the Opposition, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak announced.



Carlos’ sixth sense

KUALA LUMPUR — Legendary leftback Roberto Carlos, who was in town recently, is confident Brazil will win their sixth World Cup.

The Selecao seemed to have heard the call from their former great.

A Neymar-less Brazil sank World Cup hosts Russia 3-0 in a friendly on Friday.

Next up are ominously, defending champions Germany on Wednesday.

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