66th AGM sees party moving with new spirit

PETALING JAYA — Umno begins its 66th annual general assembly (AGM) on Thursday with renewed spirit and political will and with delegates and members having in mind that this may be the last assembly before the 14th general election, if it is called next year.

With party internal problems considered solved and the leadership in full control, the party moves forward to gain new ground in today’s domestic and international volatile political and economic landscape.

It has not lost ground among its Malay-based supporters and it still continues to attract young members despite problems it faced.

Party president Datuk Seri Najib Razak is expected to push for unity as it moves forward to deal with the changing global economic and political developments that need the country to seek new frontiers and new alignments.

One of the first things on the agenda will be endorsing Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as acting deputy president, who will deliver his maiden speech when he launches the AGM of the party three wings — Women, Youth and Puteri — tonight.

Ahmad Zahid is expected to inject a new spirit into the movements as he has already charted the roles and responsibilities of the wings in the wake of new challenges in the next general election and the changing global political scene.

The Malay-based party has been the final bastion of the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition as it held on to the “fort” when its partners Chinese-based MCA, multi-racial but Chinese-based Gerakan, Indian-based MIC and other smaller parties were politically slaughtered in the last general election.

It withstood the onslaught from the Opposition when its partners were weak resulting in the present situation where MCA, Gerakan, MIC and other component parties are picking up their pieces and ready to move forward.

Umno is not without problems but the party is now considered united given that it has just emerged from a problem involving deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and vice-president Datik Seri Shafie Apdal.

With the Opposition — PAS, DAP, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Parti Amanah Negara (Negara) and the new kid on the block Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) — still in disarray, the Umno AGM is expected to further, besides uniting its members, drive a wedge between the Opposition.

Top on the list is the expected talks on political cooperation with PAS, the lone ranger in the opposition that has been sidelined by DAP, the dominant party in the opposition pact.

Umno has not exactly sat down with PAS leaders to talk on such a topic seriously but Malays in general expect the two parties to have some kind of co-operation given the unfriendly environment emerging from DAP’s onslaught on racial and
religious issues.

Delegates who will be debating four major topics — politics, economy, education and religion — are expected to promote political co-operation as they will provide feedback and ideas in their debates.

While economic issues may involve strengthening the Malay-bumiputera economic position, the political co-operation topic will see a new alignment that may take a new outlook altogether.

Thus, Thursday’s Umno assembly may see the party moving into new political frontiers and charting new directions for the Malays and Malaysians alike.

‘Umno-PAS ties based on principles, not politics’

KUALA LUMPUR — Umno’s new relationship with PAS is based on the crystallisation of Islamic principles and not a political alliance, said Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

The Umno acting deputy president defined the relationship between Umno-PAS as Tapayuh (crystallisation) and not Tahaluf (collaboration) as misunderstood by many.

“What they (PAS) have discussed with us is to address a few Islamic principle issues in the legal system — we need to work together on it not only with PAS but with other parties, Muslim and non-Muslims groups,” he said in an exclusive interview with Malay Mail yesterday.

The deputy prime minister said both Muslim and non-Muslims need to understand the matter well to avoid any misinterpretation.

“For Muslims because they need to embrace Islamic principles and the legal system, while for the non-Muslim — we need them to understand the crux of the matter and it is not taking sides of any ethnic group or religion,” he said.

When asked if this was not a move to connect with PAS, Ahmad Zahid said: “No. There have been efforts before but they were so hurt and they are no longer with Barisan Nasional.

“They are more careful with BN now. We don’t expect them to be in the coalition with BN but I think understanding the issues is currently more important.”

The Bagan Datok MP said the matter must be understood well by their leadership and members.

“I think not all their members understand the crystallisation process; some are of the impression that it is a collaboration. They have to do their part, as well as on our side we need to explain to our leadership and members, especially at the grassroots level,” he said.

On Nov 24, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang tabled a motion in the Dewan Rakyat on his amended Private Member’s Bill to increase Shariah courts’ sentencing powers by at least ten-fold, but again deferred its discussion to the next Parliament session.

Hadi has now postponed its tabling twice.

He was only able to do so at the last meeting following the intercession of an Umno minister.

The help Umno extended to Hadi over the Bill, including a special briefing by Ahmad Zahid this week, had fuelled speculation that the Islamist party and its traditional rival were forming a partnership.

The updated version sought to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, to allow the increase of the Islamic courts’ punishment ceiling to 30 years’ in prison, RM100,000 fine and 100 lashes of the cane.

It was previously to allow Shariah courts to mete out any punishment short of the death penalty.


Zahid: Umno should not just be fire-fighting

KUALA LUMPUR — Umno members should not live in denial and expect the people to support it just because of its past achievements, party vice-president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said.

In an interview with Malay Mail, the deputy prime minister said winning back and convincing its own members must be the priority of the party and only then can the party win the people.

He talked about his close relationship with party president and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who has been “his boss” since 1987.

Ahmad Zahid also talked about the latest relationship between Umno and PAS which he described as an understanding on Islamic principles and was not a political alliance.

The following are the questions and answers of the 45-minute interview:

Question: Congratulations. It has been 18 months since you have been the deputy prime minister. How has it been?

Answer: Thank you. Most important is not the duration but the effectiveness.

Q: Has it been how you think it would be? Or thought it was going to be more difficult or more easy?

A: I think I am just carrying on the continuity from the previous person who is helping the top leadership in carrying out responsibility within the party and government.

Q: What has been the toughest decision since you came into office?

A: I don’t feel the burden as we believe it is a collective responsibility in translating decisions made by the party and the government.

Q: How is your relationship with the PM?

A: Our relationship goes back to Oct 1, 1987 when I was appointed his political secretary when he was minister of youth and sports. He appointed me as the Umno youth chief when he took over the leadership of the Umno youth movement in 1988.

Q: Is the relationship still the same today?

A: Yes, the chemistry is already there and it is much easier for me as the chemistry blends well to suit his thinking, his attitude and how to carry the responsibility or burden to take the party and government to a new landscape and address issues thrown at us.

Q: How worried are you about Umno?

A: I have always stressed about the Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) DNA. We need to strengthen the Umno and BN DNA first, then the other organisations and groups outside Umno and BN supporters must be addressed. We need to take good care of Umno and the component parties first.

Q: What do you mean by take good care?

A: They have to understand the issues, crystallisation of issues and actions as well as strengthen our unity within our large family in BN.

Q: Do you think Umno has been hurt badly in the last year, with the sacking of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, and resignation of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad?

A: Umno was hurt very badly in 1987 when Umno was divided into two and later deregistered the year later.

Once again it happened in 1998 when Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was sacked from the party and the government.

And now we are facing a similar problem but on a smaller scale. I think the influence of Tengku Razaleigh (Hamzah) then and later, Anwar, was much bigger compared to the current challenges from the outside.

Q: What does Umno need to do to neutralise Muhyiddin, Mahathir and Mukhriz?

A: Firstly, we should not be having denial syndrome. We should not be only doing fire-fighting.

We have to change the method of communicating with our audience because conventional methods to communicate are no longer viable, the audience is totally different today.

More than 87 per cent of our audience are using the Internet for their source of information.

Q: What do you mean by being in denial?

A: Always basing on track record that we are better than the rest, that is being nostalgic and it is not applicable anymore. The approach now should be futuristic.

Don’t only sell Umno’s past history but what you can do in the future. The political recipe has now changed.

We have first time voters, Gen-X who are being influenced to move away and Gen-Y who have a total different school of thought.

Q: With the 14th general election coming soon, is Umno ready?

A: Readiness is very subjective, but I think we need to be more alert. We have to work triple-hard than previous elections because the mother of all battles will be in this coming elections.

Q: In the future, if Umno or BN is defeated in the polls, can they survive the defeat?

A: We are praying we will still be in power.

Q: How is your relationship with the three Umno wings (Wanita, Pemuda and Puteri)?

A: We have a good relationship, we are close. They have been collaborating and cooperating with me well. They are also members of the management committee which I am chairing.

Q: You are also BN deputy chairman, why are the component parties — MCA, MIC and Gerakan — in the peninsula weak and they can’t seem to command respect? What are you doing to help them?

A: They will be there in their effort to reach out to their target groups. Especially now that they have a better leadership. Not comparing anyone but they are young and energetic. They are getting back the support of members and slowly their community.


Rohingya gathering ‘for all concerned Malaysians’

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysians must stand against the aggression and genocide on the Rohingya carried out by the Myanmar government, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

He said the Foreign Ministry had contacted the Myanmar ambassador to Malaysia last week and handed him a protest note.

“The major gathering on Dec 4 is to express our concern over the violence taking place on the Rohingya,” he said.

Ahmad Zahid said the gathering was not only among Muslim non-governmental ogranisations as the main reason was to stand against the violence of the Myanmar government, which affected Asean.

So far, from the Opposition, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang has confirmed his attendance.

“I hope we can all do away with our differences and work together on a bigger problem,” Ahmad Zahid said.

NGOs are urging international organisations to play a more proactive role in tackling violence and atrocities against the Rohingya.

Malay NGOs are in consensus that while Malaysia is doing what is possible for the Rohingyas, world powers such as the United Nations (UN) and Asean should intervene.

Malay Islamic World (Dunia Melayu Dunia Islam) president Tan Sri Mohd Ali Rustam said immediate intervention by the UN was the fastest possible solution.

He said the UN should convene a meeting of the Security Council and intervene as it had done with other countries, such as Iraq.

“We can’t continue to sit back and watch Myanmar kick out the Rohingya and have the UN expect neighbouring countries to keep taking them in,” he said.

“We want to help, but how many more can we take in? The Myanmar government is responsible to protect their people, whether Muslim or not.”

The former Malacca chief minister said taking other measures besides public protests, such as suspending trade with Myanmar, would not be the solution as it could lead to other issues, including black markets.

Ikatan Rakyat Insan Muslim Malaysia (IRIMM) chairman Amir Amsaa Alla Pitchay said aside from waiting for international intervention, the government should take action by disallowing Myanmar workers to enter the country.

He said the Myanmar government needed a wake-up call that what it was doing was unacceptable and wrong.

“If we don’t take stringent action, then Myanmar will take things easy and continue mass killings knowing there would be no outside interference or intervention.”

Amir said a group of NGOs would send a memorandum to the UN office in Damansara Heights on Thursday, to call on the organisation to take swift action.

Islamic Youth Movement of Malaysia (Abim) vice-president Ahmad Fahmi Mohd Samsudin said crimes against the Rohingya, which had been going on for many years, needed to be highlighted more and backed by consistent action from the government.

Although the Foreign Affairs Ministry publicly condemned the escalation of violence against the Rohingya, he said, the government should withdraw the Malaysian ambassador from Myanmar.

“It is time for countries, especially those with the power, to act as the basic human rights of the Rohingya are being violated,” he said.

Govt makes all-out preparations for floods

PUTRAJAYA — The government will still go all-out in preparing to face the floods even if small-scale flooding is expected to occur, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim.

He said the experience in facing floods in 2014 had taught the government and relevant authorities, particularly the Malaysian Civil Defence Force, to be better prepared as the severity of disaster could be unpredictable.

“Although the Malaysian Meteorological Department foresees there will be no major floods this time, after what we had gone through we are prepared for the worst,” he said when commenting on the government’s preparation for floods with the monsoon season approaching next month.

Shahidan was speaking at a press conference after witnessing the handover of six Sealegs Amphibious rescue boats to the Civil defence Force from the National Disaster Agency (Nadma) here yesterday.

As secretariat of the national-level Disaster Management and Assistance Centre Committee, the force conducted preparedness exercises involving other security agencies and non-governmental organisations to ensure all parties were ready should a disaster strike.

The force also conducted aid and evacuation simulation in states expected to be hit by floods such as in Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang.

Shahidan said in managing the flood situation, a new approach of evacuating prior to flooding would be adopted, as practised in several developed countries like in Japan.

“We will implement this new approach and will not tolerate residents who refuse to evacuate as the move is for their own safety.”

Shahidan said 382 boats, 96 lorries and 141 four-wheel drive vehicles were on standby and 11,800 personnel were ready to be despatched within the first three hours of a disaster.

Two of the Sealegs Amphibious boats would be for Kelantan, one each for Sabah and Sarawak, while the other two would be stationed at Civil Defence Force headquarters for any emergency.
— Bernama


Police smash Touch ‘n Go scam 

KUALA LUMPUR — Police have nipped in the bud a scam by a syndicate using the Touch ‘n Go electronic payment smart cards.

They have arrested 14 people, including three women, in raids carried out in Kedah, Penang, Johor and Selangor over the weekend.

Among those arrested were the two masterminds, aged in their 50s, and police have obtained a remand order for their further detention to facilitate investigations.

Federal Police Commercial Crimes Investigations Department director Datuk Acryl Sani said: “Using a software, the syndicate would upload values ranging from between RM500 and RM1,500 into the Touch n’ Go cards, which were legally obtained, and then sell them at half the price of the card cash value.

“Initial investigations did not show any involvement or a possibility of an inside job, but we are still trying to establish if the software was obtained from a source within the company,” he said.

He said the syndicate targeted mostly foreigners, long distance lorry drivers, and those in the lower income group who faced problems obtaining credit cards from banks.

The company owning Touch n’ Go incurred losses of RM2.2 million as the card is not only used for toll payments but also for parking, public transport, theme park entrance and cashless payment at some retail outlets.

The syndicate had been active since last February.

Following tip-offs and complaints by the Touch n’ Go company, police launched an operation code-named Ops Helang. They swung into action on Friday.

Acryl said among the items seized were four laptops, 14 mobilephones, four Touch n’ Go scanning machines, 466 Touch ‘n Go cards, nine vehicles and RM13,449.

Checks on 18 bank accounts managed by the suspects showed they contained RM195,000. Police have imposed a freeze to prevent any transaction.

The suspects, aged between 30 and 56, are being investigated for cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property, and for unauthorised access to computer materials under the Computer Crimes Act 1997.

Big jump in human trafficking, migrant smuggling cases

MALACCA — The number of cases under the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007 (ACT 670) brought to court rose significantly to 253 cases up to last Thursday, compared to 38 cases during the same period last year.

Solicitor General II, Datin Paduka Zauyah Be T. Loth Khan said during the same period, there had been 91 convictions under Act 670 compared to only seven last year.

She said from these convictions, 71 cases involved human trafficking under Section 12, 13, and 14 of Act 670.

“This was followed by 12 cases of human trafficking under the Penal Code and Immigration Act 1959/63 (revised in 1975) (Act 155) and eight cases of migrant smuggling under Sections 26A and 26J of Act 670,” she said at the opening of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act Conference in Bandar Hilir yesterday.

About 50 participants from enforcement agencies including the police, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency and Immigration Department are attending the four-day conference.

The programme, organised by the Attorney-General’s Chambers, will provide a platform for the participants to deliberate on improvements in approach so that Malaysia can be recognised and placed on Tier 1 of the United States Trafficking in Persons Report by 2020.

Zauyah Be said following the increase in cases, the A-G’s Chambers with the enforcement agencies involved took proactive measures to ensure investigations and prosecution of offences under Act 670 were handled more effectively so that parties involved were brought to justice.

She said the successes achieved by the A-G’s Chambers in handling the offences under the Act proved the commitment to combat human trafficking and migrant smuggling in the country.

“Despite various initiatives implemented and the commitment given to tackle the issue, I must stress that prosecution and conviction in court in each case is based on evidence and testimonies,” she said.

Meanwhile, Attorney-General Tan Sri Mohamed Apandi Ali in a statement yesterday said that from the investigations into the mass graves in Wang Kelian, Perlis last year, 15 people had been charged in court and three of the accused were convicted under Section 26A of Act 670, while another was still on trial at the Kangar High Court.

He said the A-G Chambers had also submitted 10 applications to the Thai government and one to the Bangladeshi government to extradite their respective citizens believed to be involved in human trafficking syndicates in Wang Kelian.

“There were also 106 reports of sudden deaths referred to the Perlis magistrate for inquests to be conducted,” he said.
— Bernama

RTD: No road tax hike next year

PETALING JAYA — The Road and Transport Department has confirmed a list circulating on social media claiming a 25 per cent price hike for road tax next year is false.

A department spokesman said it was a hoax and urged the public to stop circulating it as it would create confusion.

There will be no changes made to the current road tax for motor vehicles.

This information is false and has been widely circulated via social media platforms and WhatsApp messaging, he said.

The spokesman also urged the public to verify information before circulating it to prevent confusion and resentment.

The department advises members of the public to verify any information related to the department by contacting us if they have any queries or doubts, he said.

The list purportedly showed a tax hike for vehicles above 880 cubic centimetres (cc) and a corresponding hike for vehicle insurance.

It said the road tax for 600cc vehicles was going up from RM20 to RM25, 1,300cc vehicles from RM70 to RM87.50, 1,500cc from RM90 to RM112.50, 1,800cc from RM279 to RM349, 2,000cc from RM378.50 to RM473.10 and 2,400cc going from RM729.60 to RM915.

If the hike had been implemented it would have been the latest in a series of hikes following subsidy rationalisation plans by the government.

Price hikes have become a sensitive issue in the wake of the Goods and Services Tax implementation last April, which has been widely blamed for increasing the cost of living.

Additionally, a poor exchange rate and sluggish economy have led to increased use of the Price Control Anti-Profiteering Act 2011, which has been extended to next month after being slated to expire in June.


Possibility of re-arrest looms for Maria

PETALING JAYA — Bersih 2.0 chairman Maria Chin Abdullah said she could face further imprisonment following her release from detention under the Security Offences (Special Measures) Act 2012 (Sosma) yesterday.

The electoral reform activist told Malay Mail the police had opened a new set of investigations against her after recording her statement during detention.

“Police has questioned me and I understand they have started a new set of investigations. Unfortunately, the possibility of being detained still remains,” she said when contacted soon after her release at 4.45pm at the Federal police headquarters in Bukit Aman.

Maria also confirmed she would attend court today for her habeas corpus to apply for damages for her detention under Sosma for 10 days.

She also said the questions she was asked during her detention were concentrated around foreign funding and the influence of outside powers in the country’s domestic politics.

“They (police) keep beating this dead horse or Bersih being a movement managed by outside powers seeking to influence the country,” she said.

“The accusations are ironic as certain other parties not long ago admitted to receiving foreign funding. Unlike them, we have been absolutely transparent.”

Maria said her detention was illegal and an abuse of power.

“They could have used any number of laws to do what they did, but to use Sosma against a social activist and peaceful demonstrator is an abuse of power,” she said.

Maria also confirmed she had been held in solitary confinement and had been blindfolded everywhere she was taken, adding she had no idea where she had been held.

“I am not a terrorist nor have I committed any crime. It is inhumane and unacceptable to treat someone from civil society like this.”

Following time spent with her family after being released, Maria attended a solidarity gathering at Dataran Merdeka, where Bersih supporters had gathered every night to call for her release.

Maria was arrested on Nov 18, a day before the Bersih 5 rally which saw thousands of people take to the streets to demand for electoral reform.

She was arrested after police said they found documents showing activities detrimental to parliamentary democracy, when they raided the Bersih office in Petaling Jaya.

Police triggered the Sosma procedural law for her detention, which allows a suspect to be held for 28 days without trial from the point of arrest.

Around noon yesterday, police raided the office of the Selangor Community Awareness Association (Empower), believed to be affiliated to Bersih 2.0,

About 10 police officers were seen carrying out boxes of documents three hours later at the association’s office in Petaling Jaya, and left in two vehicles.

An Empower spokesperson claimed the organisation was being investigated for attempting to commit an offence detrimental to parliamentary democracy.

She said the financial and account documents of the organisation were confiscated by the officers.

Selangor Criminal Investigations Department chief SAC Fadzil Ahmat confirmed the raid but declined to comment further.


UK football sex abuse horror stories

LONDON — More than 20 former players have alleged that they were sexually abused as youth players.

Four police forces are investigating the claims. The hotline of the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) has had more than 100 calls.

Four former professionals have waived their right to lifelong anonymity to speak to the media. Two former youth players who left the game due to abuse have also come forward.

Who has spoken out?

Nov 16

Former Bury and Sheffield United player Andy Woodward, 43, claims he was sexually abused by convicted paedophile and former football coach Barry Bennell while at Crewe Alexandra between the ages of 11 and 15.

Nov 22

Steve Walters, 44, also holds he was sexually abused by Bennell while at Crewe. Walters became the club’s youngest debutant in 1988.

Nov 23

Former England and Tottenham footballer Paul Stewart, 52, declares he was sexually abused as a youth player.

Stewart, who began his professional career with Blackpool and also played for Man City and Liverpool, says an unnamed coach — not Bennell — abused him DAILY for FOUR years.

Nov 23

Ex-Man City striker David White, 49, alleges he was also sexually abused by Bennell in the late 1970s and early 1980s while playing for Whitehill FC junior team in Manchester.

Nov 24

An anonymous ex-footballer contacted police to say he was a victim of George Ormond, a former Newcastle youth coach. Ormond was jailed in 2002 for offences against young footballers in the area.

Nov 25

Jason Dunford and Chris Unsworth say they were abused by Bennell as youth players.



“It was his way of finding out which players were the weaker ones or the softer ones. Initially it was sexually touching but it rapidly got worse and he raped me over four years.”


“All these years, I’ve had this secret inside me. It’s been unbearable. Just reading Andy’s (Woodward) article, it already feels like a massive burden off my shoulders. I have to do this, and I hope it will help bring more people forward.”


“One day, travelling in the car, he started touching me. It frightened me to death. It progressed to sexually abusing me. He said he’d kill my mother, father, two brothers if I breathed a word about it. The mental scars led me into other problems with drink and drugs. The level of abuse got worse and worse. I was always under threat. If I wasn’t playing well, he’d threaten me with violence as well as sexual abuse. He was a monster.”


“The effect of Bennell’s actions were much more far-reaching than I knew then. Bennell’s actions influenced almost every event and relationship in my life.
— Various

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