DAP scuttles a bad idea

AS the thunderhead boiled up on the horizon, it suddenly vanished. The DAP has dropped the idea of a snap poll in Penang.

Party secretary general and Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng announced on Sunday that DAP has scuttled the idea because it could not obtain a consensus within opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan (Harapan) in support of the move.

PKR with DAP and Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) had formed the coalition last September as replacement for defunct predecessor Pakatan Rakyat (Pakatan).

Pakatan had expired in June last year when its Islamist component, PAS, decided to cut ties to the avowedly secular DAP on account of the latter’s unyielding opposition to the implementation of hudud in PAS-controlled Kelantan.

The speed with which Harapan was cobbled together, within a few months of Pakatan’s demise and within days virtually of the formation of Amanah, which split from PAS, was testimony to the broad affinity amongst its components.

PAS had been an uneasy ally within Pakatan since the inception of the informal coalition in 2008 because of its theocratic goal of making Malaysia an Islamic state.

When it cut ties with DAP in June last year, the move served to confirm that a theocratic party cannot for long coexist with a secular one.

The death of PR was something that was inevitable.

The speed with which its replacement, Harapan, got off the ground testified in some measure to the relief felt by DAP, PKR and Amanah that they were rid of a bone in their collective throats now that PAS was off on its own.

Harapan was coming along nicely until DAP moved last month to counter the charging of Guan Eng with two counts of corruption by moving to hold a snap poll in Penang, a move PKR felt it could not support.

As justification for the move to hold snap polls, DAP argued that the party needed a new mandate from voters in Penang in the wake of the corruption charges against Guan Eng.

The party described the charges as trumped up and politically motivated.

It felt that a renewed mandate from Penang voters would serve notice to federal powers that be that the state’s citizenry took a dim view of its treatment of its head honcho and the administration he has led.

PKR, fearing it would lose state wards it won by slender margins in the general election of May 2013 (GE13), expressed doubts about the wisdom of calling for such a poll.

Their fears were based on the certainty that PAS would field candidates in the marginal seats that PKR had won, thus splitting the Malay vote which would likely result in Umno regaining them.

Although PAS continues to be a member of the PKR-led state government in Selangor, where DAP is also a governing partner, PKR doubted that it could dissuade PAS from fielding their candidates in PKR-held seats in Penang.

PKR argued that a snap poll would eventuate in a lose-lose situation for them, while DAP would not be able to extrapolate from the probable results a win-win position for itself.

Presently, DAP has 19 seats in the 40-member state assembly; PKR and Umno have 10 each and PAS has one seat.

Retaining all 19 seats — coalition seat-sharing arrangements tend to maintain the status quo among partners —would not necessarily mean that Guan Eng would be able to gain a ringing endorsement of his integrity and rule from the electorate in a snap poll.

Coupled with the probability that voter turnout would not be as high as in a general election — turnouts for snap polls are invariably lower — the thumping endorsement anticipated by DAP could well be a mirage.

Furthermore, probable seats losses to PKR would cloud the overall Harapan outlook and lead to recriminations within a fledgling coalition.

PKR maintained that there were more negatives than positives to the snap poll proposition and called for discussions within Harapan before a final decision was made.

However, ominously for Harapan, DAP appeared increasingly determined to go ahead although Guan Eng emphasised that his party upheld the principle of consensus on coalition decisions in the face of disagreements among partners.

DAP’s position was bolstered when Amanah signaled support for the move to hold a snap poll.

The party had held two meetings among its leaders on the issue and though their deliberations suggested that Amanah were ambivalent about the proposition, it somehow translated into tepid endorsement for the DAP move.

Amanah leaders let PKR know they would abide by what a Harapan presidential council meeting would finally decide on the issue while allowing Guan Eng to publicly announce that DAP had Amanah’s vote on the matter.

This sequence of events painted PKR into a corner from which it may well have sought to emerge by requesting that DAP give it two of its seats to contest in the snap polls as cover for expected PKR losses in marginally won wards during GE13.

We know this from Guan Eng’s disclosure, in the course of Sunday’s announcement, that DAP was dropping the snap polls idea, that PKR had indeed requested two DAP seats as cover for anticipated losses.

Guan Eng said DAP were not prepared to accede to the PKR request and, following its coalition partner’s continued demurral on snap polls, had decided to drop the whole idea.

PKR wasted no time in hailing the DAP move and Guan Eng’s ability to prioritise larger Harapan interests over his own party’s goals.

Amanah was also swift in saluting the move. Its relief that intra-coalition discord was averted was apparent in the way it crafted its praise.

Thus, the storm clouds that loomed on the Harapan horizon dissipated as suddenly as it had gathered.

Harapan has averted a potentially coalition-splitting crisis while Guan Eng has shored up his stature.

Since coalition politics is the only politics for multi-farious Malaysia, this is a toasting moment for Harapan and a beset leader.


Free ‘PokeMobile’ rides for Pokemon hunters in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR — Telecommunications firm Maxis and ride-sharing service provider Grab have teamed up to offer “PokeMobile” cars to take riders on Pokemon hunts as part of the yet to be launched “Pokemon Go” game.

The augmented reality game that has taken the world by storm is expected to be launched here this week, with predictions that it could be as early as tomorrow.

The game involves catching “Pokemon”, virtual reality Pocket Monsters, that can then be used for duels between players.

After the game is launched, the “PokeMobile” service will allow players to book free rides to the nearest “PokeStop” via the GrabCar application. PokeStops are where Pokemon trainers, as players are called, can obtain Pokeballs, a device used to catch Pokemon.

There are currently four cars available to go around the Klang Valley. The cars were decorated with wings and the tail of the fire Pokemon, Charizad.

According to Grab Malaysia country manager Jaygan Fu, the companies launched the PokeMobile to help avoid vehicular “chaos” once the game is launched.

“We are aware that there is a huge Pokemon following in Malaysia and we wanted to join in the thrill of the game.

“We are going to help reduce chaos with the cars,” Malay Mail Online reported.

The cars will come equipped with an iPad to help locate PokeStops, a special Grab goodie bag, a smartphone charger, and water bottles.

Maxis head of content and engagement for prepaid Mable Chan did not want to speculate on when the game would be launched, but suggested that Malaysians will not have long to wait.

“It will be soon, if you see the way the servers are going. It’s a matter of when. Everyone is excited, we are gearing up for it,” she said today.

A source from the industry added that the game was scheduled for its local release this weekend, but developers were still resolving server issues.

Chan also said that Hotlink and Grab will give out US$100 (RM400) worth of PokeCoins for the first two days after the game is launched. PokeCoins is the currency that is used in the game to get more items and train Pokemons.

“After the initial two days is over, there will be secret ‘Poke Shops’. We going to add some lures also for you. We going to turn on the lure and you can get as many Pokemon as possible,” she added.

Chan also said Hotlink customers will get a 10 per cent discount on all Pokemon Go in-app purchases via Hotlink Cash Online.

Gamers can also use the credit to purchase items in other popular games such as Clash of Clans and Clash Royale as well.

Internet users have spotted local servers for Pokemon Go being listed, but there has been no confirmation of the Malaysian launch by developers Niantic.

Previously, the game was launched in Hong Kong and Japan shortly after their servers were listed.

Pokemon Go has been dominating headlines across the globe after it was officially launched in New Zealand, Australia, the US and Germany on Android and iOS last month.

The game has since topped download charts in those countries, overtaking social media giants Facebook, Tinder, Twitter and Snapchat as the most downloaded application.


Unprecedented app excitement

PETALING JAYA — Malaysian Pokemon buffs can keep their fingers crossed for the entry of the app into the country.

This comes following MMO Server Status, a website that tracks the health of various online games’servers, listed Malaysia as one of the countries tracked in their Pokemon Go section, triggering a numerous online speculations.

Previously, Malaysia was left out of the planned Asian expansion of the wildly successful mobile game, Pokemon Go.

Now, with the “listing” on the MMO Server Status website, fans here have reason to be optimistic. Facebook user Nizar Salleh said the server shows the developer, Niantic Labs, will include fans here when the reality game is released in Southeast Asia.

“I’m positive with all the fans of the Pokemon franchise here, it will be a big miss if they exclude us. I can’t wait much longer to be honest!” he said.

Even Twitter was a hive of activity with various comments.

“OMG!! Pokemon Go Malaysia server finally gets listed the hype is strong my friend,” Twitter user @ IrfanTunku tweeted

“The Malaysian Pokemon Go server is already listed! Still waiting for it to be released!” fellow Twitter user @choicocoups tweeted.

Facebook user Khoo Wei Jean said the servers are a sign the Malaysian release is imminent.

“The website (MMO Server Status) listed Hong Kong and Japan before Pokemon Go was released there. I’m sure this means that Pokemon Go will be arriving at our shores soon!” he said

The MMO Server Status website is a third-party application and has no association with Nintendo, The Pokemon Company or Niantic Labs.


Poser over gliding of MH370 into ocean

PETALING JAYA — Did the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines MH370 crash into the southern Indian Ocean’s bottomless chasm off the Australian west coast or was it glided further south?

These are posers raised once again after Australian authorities were accused of looking in the wrong place for the Boeing 777 passenger jet.

Senior air crash investigator Larry Vance was told Channel 9’s 60 Minutes program over the weekend, a flaperon found on Reunion Island last year and handed over to France for analysis was the strongest clue yet the aircraft was “glided” into the ocean.

Asutralia’s reported such a scenario would place the plane much further south then the current search area — which has always been based on the aircraft running out of fuel and plunging into the sea.

Although France has yet to release details of its analysis of the flaperon, Mr Vance told 60 Minutes it appeared to him the wing part had been deployed for landing, and was dragged off by the force of the water.

“It wasn’t broken off. If it was broken off, it would be a clean break. You couldn’t even break that thing. I know from experience that it’s wide,” he said.

“If you wanted to break that off, you couldn’t do it and make it look like that. That had to be eroded away.”

Recently, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai announced that the search for the aircraft to be suspended upon completion of the 120,000sq km search area.

This decision came about after a high level three nation ministerial meeting involving officials from Malaysia, China and Australia agreed to suspend the search in the absence of credible evidence leading to identification of a specific location of the aircraft.

The meeting was held to discuss arrangements in the event MH370 wasn’t located.

“The suspension does not mean termination of the search… should credible new information emerge, which can be used to identify the specific location of the aircraft, consideration will be given on the next steps.

“With less than 10,000 sq km of the high priority area remaining to be searched, the ministers acknowledge that despite best efforts of all involved, the likelihood of finding the aircraft is fading,” the Minister had said.

Australian Transport Safety Bureau search manager Peter Foley said they had not ruled out the possibility there was someone in control at the end.

“We are actively looking for evidence to support that,” he told 60 Minutes.

“The fact is we’ve got a bit of hard data that says the aircraft was in a rapid rate of descent. We’ve got a rate of descent that’s between 12,000 and 20,000 feet a minute.”

However Mr Foley admitted the ATSB had seen “some analysis from the French” to suggest a possibility the flaperon was in a deployed state.

Adding weight to the theory the plane was glided into the water was a FBI report revealing a test flight was taken on Captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah’s home simulator to the Southern Indian Ocean.

Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar has denied the report which was published in a New York Magazine recently.

“We have yet to be provided any information to the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) or other parties regarding the ongoing probe.

“The investigation is still ongoing and will only be concluded once the black box is found and analysed.”

The ATSB is now hopeful a second wing part found on the coast of Tanzania in East Africa, will shed further light on how the plane hit the water in the Southern Indian Ocean

Chief Commissioner Greg Hood told News Corp they would examine whether the part was in a deployed state or retracted when it separated from the Boeing 777.

But Commissioner Hood said he remained “incredibly positive” the current search of a 120,000 square kilometre priority zone would find MH370.

“The best minds that are available have been working on this and I remain positive and I remain hopeful it will be found,” he said.

It would be Malaysia rather than Australia that delivered a final report on the mystery, Commissioner Hood said.

“I’ll be as interested to see their investigation as everyone else.”

British authorities mull review on alcohol sale at airports

PETALING JAYA — British aviation authorities are considering reviewing sale of alcohol at airports there following the spate of drunken disorderly cases and air rage incidents reported.

“The way alcohol is sold in airports is to be examined after a number of recent incidents involving drunk passengers,” United Kingdom’s new Aviation Minister Lord Ahmad announced recently.

“It’s not about wanting to ‘kill merriment’, but to review the times alcohol was on sale and passenger screening.”

Police statistics show at least 442 people were held on suspicion of being drunk on a plane or at an airport in the UK between March 2014 and March this year.

In one recent case, a female passenger punched an Easyjet pilot in the face after being ordered to leave an aircraft before take-off from Manchester.

In February, six men on a stag party were arrested by German police after a mid-air brawl caused a Ryanair flight from Luton to Bratislava, Slovakia, to divert to Berlin.

“If you’re a young family travelling on a plane, you want to go from point A to B, you don’t want to be disrupted,”
Lord Ahmad said.

“It’s important passengers are responsible and have a responsibility to other passengers.”

He said: “I want to have a look at specific regulations of timings of outlets (which sell alcohol) and how they operate.”

Lord Ahmad also highlighted the value of screening travellers before they boarded planes.

Trade bodies representing UK airlines and airports said drunken disorderly incidents were “a very rare occurrence”, but warned they could lead to
“serious consequences”.

They pointed out disruption on an aircraft was an offence which could carry a heavy penalty, including a travel ban, fine or prison sentence.

According to the Civil Aviation Authority’s most recent passenger survey, some 238 million passengers passed through UK airports in 2014.
— Agencies


Day Chew’s business came crashing down

IPOH — A businesswoman is at wit’s end as to what the future holds after her food business literally came crashing down like a tonne of bricks in Jalan Dato Tahwil Azar on Saturday.

“I am still removing my belongings to another home and that’s my main focus now,” Jane Chew told Malay Mail yesterday.

The 42-year-old ran the popular Happy Delicious salted baked chicken business on the ground floor of the double-storey pre-war building where food buffs also gathered for vegetarian dishes and the much sought-after wonton noodles.

Her family had been running the business for about 30 years, before disaster struck at about 11am on on Saturday.

The front facade of the building came crashing down, exposing both the ground and upper floors, leaving Chew and her family of eight in shock.

“City Hall contractors came on Friday to do some drainage work outside the building. I was concerned about the safety of my customers and family. Little did I expect this to take place hardly 24 hours later,” she said.

Part of the building’s side wall collapsed and covered the ground floor with debris and rubble.

A handful of customers and Chew and her family rushed out.

Fire and rescue Department personnel arrived shortly after and cordoned off the area.

“The upper floor is where my husband, six children, a relative and I live,” Chew said.

Yesterday, with the help of friends, they removed clothes, personal documents and other belongings from the premises.

“Once I have shifted out, I will decide what to do next about the business,” she said.

“I am thankful no one was injured as the upper floor was where my children sleep.”

The operator of the wonton noodles stall, who wished to be identified only as Tan, said he and the vegetarian food business owner had closed on Saturday as they were concerned about dust pollution from the drainage works.

“This incident has destroyed my livelihood. I cannot see myself resuming business here in the near future,” Tan said.

He said he had been earning a living there for the past 30 years.

“I dread to imagine what would have happened if I had opened for business on Saturday,” he said.

A businessman who operates a shop along the same row said he only learnt what was happening when he heard shouts to run for safety.

“The place was in chaos. Luckily no one was injured,” David Kong, 20, said.

The collapse of the building was believed to have been triggered by vibrations caused by the drainage works.

Mayor Datuk Zamri Man said the incident occurred when contractors were carrying out works for a drain along the stretch.

Excavators were used later to prop up the upper floor to ensure no further collapse.

“City Council has been informed about the incident and they are studying what immediate remedial works can be done as a temporary measure pending a further decision,” a Fire and Rescue Department spokesman said.

Checks revealed the council planned to upgrade the Jalan Datuk Tahwil Azar stretch as it was a major tourist destinations. Part of the upgrade included replacing drainage pipes and culverts.

The project, which began recently and costs about RM3.5 million, will also see new street lights installed and the road resurfaced.

Heritage society calls for SOP on earthworks

IPOH — The State Heritage Society has urged the Ipoh City Council to consider a new standard operating procedure (SOP) for earthworks near old buildings.

Commenting on the collapse of the wall of the pre-war shophouse in Jalan Dato Tahwil Azar, the society’s president, Mohd Taib Mahmud, said this was important to protect the public as well as older buildings in the city.

“If there is no SOP available, the council should come up with one, he said.

At the same time, the council should closely supervise works carried out by the appointed contractors”.

Taib said there were cases of renovation and preservation works done by the owners of heritage buildings failing to comply with the best practices of conservation.

“The local authorities should have a best practices guideline for reference before any conservation work is done,” he said.

His society was compiling the criteria for the best conservation practices.

Taib also suggested the authorities could study the conservation methods used by cities like Penang and Malacca, which had achieved World Heritage Site status.

Saturday’s incident occurred when contractors were building a drain. A landslip took place and the support pillars as well as part of the wall and floor of one of the shophouses collapsed.

“Our investigations found that the soil structure was quite soft. This caused the soil structure which had been dug to lose stability,” said Mayor Datuk Zamri Man.

“To prevent this from happening again, the council has shifted the drain’s position by 1.5m to 2m away from the building boundaries in the area,” he said.


BN: No point for us to table no-confidence move

GEORGE TOWN — Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has challenged the Opposition to table a no-confidence motion against him in the State Legislative Assembly, saying he is willing to the face the situation at the next assembly meeting.

He said Pakatan Harapan would not “run away from the people”.

“Teng (Chang Yeow) had asked BN to table the motion in the legislative assembly. However, Umno had refused to do it,” Lim, who is also the DAP secretary general, told a press conference at his office in Komtar yesterday.

Malay Mail Online reported that with only 10 assemblymen, any attempt by Penang BN to table a no-confidence motion against Lim would be pointless.

Farid Saad, the Pulau Betong assemblyman from Umno, said this when asked to comment on state BN chief Teng’s proposal for a vote to be taken to assess if Lim still commanded the majority support after being charged with corruption.

On Sunday, Lim announced the state government had given up on having snap polls as the ruling coalition could not reach a consensus.

He said DAP could not agree with PKR’s conditions, which included asking for more seats.

Farid was quoted as saying: “We only have 10 reps. So even if we do it, we will never get the motion passed. You look at all our past motions. They were all rejected.”

He said that for any motion to have any degree of success, it had to be initiated by a member of the ruling Pakatan Harapan pact.

“So if there is to be a motion to vote, it should come from them. And why not since it could settle all this mess?” he said.

Farid said he had proposed the idea last week, before plans for a snap election were dropped.

He said he had not discounted Teng’s proposal, although the BN representatives had yet to discuss it.

“We have not discussed the matter yet. We need to deliberate first, whatever it is,” he said.

Govt confident’ 1MDB will win arbitration case

PUTRAJAYA — The government is “very confident” 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) will win the arbitration case filed by Abu Dhabi-based International Petroleum Investment Company (IPIC) over a debt payment dispute, Second Finance Minister Datuk Johari Abdul Ghani said.

“I am very confident because I have seen the records,” Johari told reporters after chairing a budget committee on the rising cost of living yesterday.

IPIC is seeking US$6.5 billion (RM24.36 billion) from state investment fund 1MDB and the Finance Ministry in the dispute.

“This is a must win case for us,”
he said.

The dispute started with IPIC’s claim earlier this year it did not own Aabar Investments PJS Limited, or Aabar BVI, to which 1MDB had transferred US$3.5 billion (RM14.08 billion) in 2012.

Johari maintained 1MDB’s stance that their records clearly show IPIC owns Aabar BVI.

Aabar BVI shares a similar name to IPIC’s Abu Dhabi subsidiary Aabar Investments PJS.

The dispute between the two firms resulted in 1MDB defaulting on interest payments on bonds raised by 1MDB, after IPIC initially refused to fulfill their part in a deal with 1MDB to make the interest payments on the bonds in exchange of taking over some 1MDB assets.

IPIC eventually paid the US$52.4 million (RM 209.57 million) interest due on the bonds.

In June, IPIC submitted its arbitration request seeking payments from 1MDB and the Finance Ministry to the London Court of International Arbitration.

Last year, IPIC and 1MDB inked a deal which would see part of 1MDB’s debt being taken over by IPIC in return for the state investment firm’s assets.

The deal was part of a 1MDB restructuring exercise to shed its massive RM42 billion debt which it accrued since its inception in 2009.



Datuk Dzulkifli Ahmad clocks in on his first day of work as the new Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) chief commissioner at the commission’s headquarters yesterday. Looking on are MACC deputy chief commissioner (management and professionalism) Datuk Seri Mohd Jamidan Abdullah (right) and security division officer Datuk Alias Salim. Dzulkifli, whose term will expire on July 31, 2021, replaces Tan Sri Dr Abu Kassim Mohamed. — Picture by Bernama

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