No cross or singing at Christmas party with Najib

KUALA LUMPUR - Catholic church officials were told to remove crucifixes and to avoid singing hymns during Prime Minister Najib Razak's attendance of a Christmas tea party hosted by the Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur last Saturday.

The overzealous bid to protect the Prime Minister's credentials was described by sources familiar with what happened as "paranoid" and done without Mr Najib's knowledge.

The Malaysian Insider understands that Mr Najib's men may have been spooked by the National Fatwa Council's recent repeated announcements over Muslims at non-Muslim celebrations and had tripped over themselves to ensure his attendance at the tea party passed without a hitch.

It was the first time Mr Najib was attending a Christian function in his official capacity since taking over power in April last year.

Mr Najib has been instrumental in bringing the leaders of different faiths to the same table earlier this year to try and peacefully resolve long-standing interfaith disputes after a series of attacks against houses of worship nationwide.

The violence erupted following a controversial court ruling allowing Christians to also use the word "Allah" to refer to God beyond the Muslim context.

Sources noted that Mr Najib's aides had little to be anxious about as the party was held outdoors in several marquees where religious paraphernalia were the least likely to be fixed.

"They were overly fearful but there was nothing for them to be fearful about," a source pointed out, dismissing Mr Najib's aides as being too "paranoid".

Dr M defends Najib over FDI

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 1 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today defended the Najib Administration over the plunging foreign direct investment (FDI) in the country last year.

Dr Mahathir echoed the explanation made by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak that the slowdown in investments was due to external factors.

The former prime minister said that foreign investors currently do not have the funds to pour in the country.

“Today, most countries and foreign business people do not have the money to invest in their own country because their country has a lot of unemployment so we cannot expect much foreign direct investment today,” he told reporters after attending The Loaf Malaysian Premier Bakery 4th anniversary here.

Najib has come under fire from opposition parties for Malaysia’s lacklustre FDI rates, which have fallen faster than regional counterparts such as Singapore and China even while capital outflows dampened private domestic investment.

The WIR 2010 released by the United Nations showed that FDI in Malaysia plunged 81 per cent last year, trailing behind countries like the Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia and Singapore.

The report revealed that Malaysia suffered a large 81.1 per cent drop in FDIs compared to far healthier figures in Thailand (30.4 per cent), Vietnam (44.1 per cent) and Indonesia (44.7 per cent).

In May, Minister of International Trade and Industry Mustapa Mohamed announced that investments in the country for Q1 2010 amounted to RM5.2 billion.

FDIs made up RM3.2 billion of this total, with Singapore, Taiwan and Japan being the biggest contributors.

Mustapa said the investment amount was still relatively low against the total amount of RM32.6 billion in investments received last year.

Najib has been trying to lift Malaysia’s profile as a destination for foreign investment to help the country achieve an average GDP growth of at least 6 per cent per annum over the next five years.

Najib’s administration has insisted that the GDP growth target is still achievable despite warning that the economy may slow down in the second half of the year due to external factors.

However Najib’s brother, Datuk Seri Nazir Razak, said that wrangling over affirmative action in the proposed New Economic Model (NEM) is causing uncertainty among investors.

The CIMB Bank chief executive officer said that there was a lot of debate over what sort of affirmative action should be in the NEM, notably involving vocal Malay rights group Perkasa, and the government needed to decide quickly for the sake of giving investors a sense of direction.

Dr Mahathir refused to comment when asked whether such issues had an effect and said it was for the government to decide.

“So the government must study,” said Mahathir.

Dr Mahathir has been a staunch supporter of a race-based affirmative action and distribution policy.

The former premier had said that the country owes its racial harmony to the New Economic Policy’s (NEP) because it has helped to reduced economic disparity between the different communities, especially between the Chinese and the Malays.

Scholarships Are For All Races : Najib

Students who do well in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination are eligible to receive Public Service Department (JPA) scholarships, said Prime Minisetr Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

He said the scholarships are for students of all races who want to pursue higher studies in local or foreign institutions.

“Each student irrespective whether Malay, Chinese, Indian, Kadazan or others who obtain 9A+ (in their SPM results) qualify for the JPA scholarships, be it for studies locally or overseas,” he said when addressing MIC’s 64th general assembly at the Putra World Trade Centre here today.

Najib (picture) said this scholarship opportunity showed that the government was serious about bringing forth a transformation in line with the 1Malaysia concept.

“This shows that 1Malaysia is not only a slogan but is being practiced in Malaysia,” he said

Meanwhile, Najib said a total of 2,304 of Indian students enrolled for their respective programmes in the public universities.

According to him, 4,541 Indian students applied for places in public universities and 2,499 students qualified.

“About 92.9 per cent of qualified Indian students have been given places in our public universities.

“This is a clear manifesto that we are there to help you, together with you to help the community to move forward. This is the BN’s promise to transform Malaysia to be a fully developed and high income nation,” he added.

Mahathir renews pressure on Najib to revive crooked bridge

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad pressed Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today to revive the crooked bridge he had proposed to replace the Johor Causeway connecting Malaysia and Singapore.

The former prime minister questioned Najib’s reluctance in continuing the project despite a request by the Sultan of Johor for Putrajaya for its revival.

“The question that many have asked me, and I am convinced that this is also being asked by a majority of people, is why Datuk Seri Najib as the powerful prime minister is not willing to continue building this bridge?” asked Dr Mahathir in a posting on his popular blog today.

“Is Najib tied in a deal with the fifth prime minister? What is the status of this deal?” he added, referring to former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Badawi who had cancelled the crooked bridge project.

The proposal to build a “crooked” bridge to replace the ageing Causeway, linking peninsular Malaysia to the island republic, was mooted by Dr Mahathir when he was the prime minister.

However, relations between the two countries were often chilly during his administration, causing Singapore to shoot down his idea which was eventually cancelled by his successor Abdullah.

Besides easing traffic congestion between Johor Baru and Singapore, the proposed bridge would also facilitate the free flow of water in the Tebrau Straits in addition to allowing ships heading to East Asia to bypass Singapore.

“I have never heard objections from Malaysians towards the bridge project in replacing the Johor Causeway,” said Dr Mahathir.

“There is also a letter from the previous prime minister of Singapore, Goh Chok Tong, that was published by the Singaporean government in the book ‘Water Talks – If Only It Could’ that he never objected the building of the bridge in Malaysian waters if it was so desired by the Malaysian government,” he added.

In response to the Sultan of Johor's call for the bridge project to be revived, Najib had said that his administration would look into the matter but did not elaborate further.

At Najib's recent meeting with Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong a month ago, both leaders had decided to reduce toll charges at the Second Link, one of two bridges linking Malaysia and Singapore, by 30 per cent starting August 1 this year.

Aside from the toll rate announcement, the two prime ministers had also agreed to move the Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) station from Tanjong Pagar to the Woodlands Train Checkpoint (WTCP) by July 1, 2011, as well as setting up a joint venture company called M-S Pte Ltd, to jointly develop the land that is left behind.

However, the issue of the crooked bridge or a third bridge was not discussed in their meeting.

Najib had mooted the idea of a third bridge linking the republic to Malaysia in June last year, which he said could enable the development of the eastern side of Johor and districts like Mersing and Desaru.

Najib Rejects Legalising of Football Betting

By Adib Zalkapli
Datuk Seri Najib Razak capitulated to popular public opinion tonight when he announced the government will not issue a football betting licence, weeks after tycoon Tan Sri Vincent Tan said his Ascot Sports Sdn Bhd had received approval for an old licence.

"After taking into account various views, we are of the opinion that the majority did not agree the decision to issue the license to Ascot Sports," he said after chairing the Umno supreme council meeting here.

"The government therefore decided that the license will not be issued," said the finance minister adding that Ascot Sports has been informed of the decision.

He said the withdrawal was supported by members of the Umno supreme council.

Najib said the government had earlier agreed to issue the sports betting licence but with strict condition such as banning Muslim involvement in the activity.

On whether Ascot Sports would be compensated Najib said there is no such requirement in the law.

"Under the act, the minister of finance can withdraw anytime," said Najib, declining to say when the decision was made.

He also hoped that Barisan Nasional (BN) component party members such as MCA and MIC who have supported legalised sports betting to accept the government's decision.

Several Barisan Nasional (BN) parties had supported the move but Umno Johor, Perak and Youth wing opposed the licence saying the social cost outweighed the possible tax revenue.

Tan's listed Berjaya Corporation Berhad had announced the approval in a filing to Bursa Malaysia last May 12 but Najib denied it in Parliament on June 7.

Pakatan Rakyat governments in Penang, Selangor and Kedah said they will not approve business licences for football betting although Tan said he will try to persuade them.

He had promised to donate the RM525 million for his share of Ascot Sports sold to Berjaya Corp to his own charity, Better Malaysia Foundation.

Apart from saying that football bets will be offered through the telephone and available at 220 out of the 680 Sports Toto outlets which are not Muslim majority areas, Tan said operations would begin after the current FIFA World Cup 2010 in South Africa.

PAS Youth chief Nasrudin Hassan Tantawi claimed two weeks ago that Ascot Sports will offer betting services for four major leagues — the English Premier League, the Italian league, as well as the Spanish and German leagues.

Nasrudin said that the sports betting company could not prepare itself to serve the World Cup because it was “too soon”.

PAS had also vowed to mobilise Malaysians to join its “100,000 march” to the Istana Negara this July 3 in protest over the Najib administration’s legalisation of sports-betting.

DAP’s Tony Pua claimed earlier this week to have documents to show companies controlled by Tan were proceeding with plans to start offering football betting by August and were raising RM800 million to finance operations.

The Petaling Jaya Utara MP told reporters in Parliament that on June 11, four days after the Finance Ministry had denied issuing any licence for football betting, Berjaya Sports Toto had issued an “information memorandum” detailing financing arrangements to raise RM800 million in loans for a period of ten years to finance its new business.

Berjaya Sports Toto is a subsidiary of Berjaya Corporation, and currently operates numbers forecast betting shops in peninsular Malaysia.

According to documents obtained by Pua, the principal adviser for the financing arrangements was Maybank Investment Bank Sdn Bhd, and lead manager AmInvestment Bank Berhad.

“They repeated the statement that Ascot Sports had been given approval for the reissuance of licence to carry out sports betting operations upon certain terms and conditions.

“They reiterated they have received approval. They stated that initially 220 of the Sports Toto outlets will be used as distribution points with expansion plans to accommodate more Sports Toto outlets in the future. The implementation was to be carried out in August or early September, in time for the EPL (English Premier League),” said Pua.

Another document produced by Pua was a credit analysis by MARC (Malaysian Rating Corporation Berhad) on Berjaya Sports Toto.

A rating agency is usually needed to determine the “quality” of a loan.

The MARC report states that “the timeframe for the rollout of the sports betting games are yet to be finalised.”

“MARC has assigned AA- rating to this exercise to raise money by Berjaya Sports Toto and among the contributory factors to the AA-rating is stated on page 4, under recent development following a recent announcement (that it is) yet to be finalised.

“Basically, what we see is that the approval has been given, but the actual licence has not been given.

“As Finance Minister, Najib needs to rectify this... It has now become a stupid play of words,” said Pua.

Najib is Going for "Surprise" Election Strategy

The prime minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said that parliament will not be dissolved just because he recorded good points at a recent popularity survey. He also said that the date of the election would however be a surprise and that many factors need to be considered before it could be decided.

He said “I cannot say one way or the other. If it (general election) happens, it will be a surprise. What is important is to work hard in the spirit of 1Malaysia. Barisan must first concentrate on strengthening itself before calling for a general election and could not depend on one survey to decide when to call for the next general election.” This came in the wake of the comment by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, the former prime minister who called on Najib to call for an early general election since he is currently enjoying the highest ratings in the popularity survey organized by Merdeka Centre.

Buy-Malaysian Campaign is Not Protectionism

KUALA LUMPUR, June 17 — The “Buy Malaysian” campaign should be seen not as a protectionist policy of the government but as an effort to spur the private sector to be globally competitive, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today.

He said the campaign helped to project competitive Malaysian goods globally and drive local companies to raise productivity and be innovative as well as globally competitive.

Najib was launching the 2010 “Buy Malaysian” campaign at the Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC), here.

Also present were Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob and Deputy Minister Datuk Rohani Abdul Karim.

Najib, who is also finance minister, said some people might see the campaign as a government measure to protect domestic industries.

However, he said, the campaign was part of government efforts to promote domestic brands and products among the Malaysians who, at times, were inclined to buy foreign goods.

Najib said the people should understand that local companies must be encouraged to build up a domestic market to spur them onwards to a regional or international market.

Without being able to sell to a domestic market, it would be difficult for these companies to progress to an export market.

“Once they have captured the domestic market, it will be easier for them to move on to the export market because they will have a strong domestic base,” he said.

Jemaah Islamiah’s influence is growing in Malaysia

TUMPAT June 16, — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak wants authorities to tighten security to prevent Jemaah Islamiah (JI) from influencing students and taking root in the country.

He said the spread of JI ideology, if unchecked, would pose a threat to national security.

“We must be wary of JI threat to recruit students. They can be coerced into committing violence by militant and extremism thinking,” he said after a “Pemimpin Bersama Rakyat’ programme at Wat Matchimmaram, Kampung Jubakar near here today.
Grab a Celcom Blue Bear(TM) and stand to walk away with RM10,000!

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein yesterday said JI had made efforts to recruit local university students as members.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan said foreign JI members tried to revive the militant group by trying to recruit youths including university students.

Najib said it was proven that JI spread not only among students but also lecturers.

“A lecturer involved with JI had been known to explode bombs. We have to tighten security via intelligence reports to check the menace,” he added. — Bernama

Najib's credibility should not be doubted: Pak Lah

KEPALA BATAS: All quarters should stop questioning Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's credibility as he has undertaken several sound measures and policies for excellent administration and development to benefit the people, said Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Some of Najib's efforts and policies have already shown good results or impact on the people and country, the former prime minister said at the opening of the Penang-level Unity Week at the Industrial Training Institute here, Sunday.

Also present were Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon and National Unity and Integration Department director-general Datuk Azman Amin Hassan.

Abdullah, who is also Kepala Batas MP, said Najib had introduced a strong 10th Malaysia Plan and six National Key Result Areas, while Malaysia had been placed among the top 10 most competitive countries.

"Except Malaysia, there is no other country in the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and Non-Aligned Movement in the top 10 list. This is a good thing and therefore, there is no need to doubt the prime minister's credibility as a leader," he said.

Abdullah also urged the people to uphold the spirit of unity and solidarity to ensure smooth implementation of the country's development projects and programmes.

PM rolls out RM230b 10th Malaysian Plan

The prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced the 10MP (Tenth Malaysian Plan) today at parliament, a 5 year development plan to help the country curb its falling deficit as well as to reduce the subsidies. He forecasted that the average economic growth of the country will grow at 6% over the next 5 years with fiscal deficit will be reduced by 2.8% of the GDP (Gross Domestic Product). The government will be allocating some RM230billion for the development plans where 55% will be allocated for the economy, 30% for social, 10% for security and the rest for general administration.

The plan will be focusing on 12 NKEAs (National Key Economic Areas) which are perceived as high income generators. They are (i) Oil and gas; (ii) Palm oil and related products; (iii) Financial services; (iv) Wholesale and retail; (v) Tourism; (vi) Information and communications technology (ICT); (vii) Education services; (viii) Electrical and electronic; (ix) Business services; (x) Private healthcare; (xi) Agriculture (xii) Greater Kuala Lumpur.

New Economic Model (NEM) is No threat to special rights

KUALA LUMPUR - PRIME Minister Najib Razak urged the Malays to accept his new economic reforms last night, assuring them that their special rights and privileges would not be forgotten.

He said the proposed New Economic Model (NEM) is meant to bring the Malays and other races forward, so that the country would become a developed nation in the next 10 years.

'The NEM is not meant to sideline the special rights and privileges of the Malays, but it is to adopt a more dynamic method that is global and current,' he told about 1,000 delegates at the Malay Economic Congress, which was attended by 126 Malay non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

A big group of representatives from the NGOs also handed Datuk Seri Najib their resolutions, which called for the NEM to be reviewed.

Malay groups have been questioning the NEM since it was announced in March this year, as they fear that the government would drop their special rights.

Many of them complained that most Malays are still incapable of competing equally, and urged the government to review the policy. By Elizabeth Looi

UMNO backed Railway Land Deals : Najib

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said yesterday that the supreme council of Malaysia's ruling party, Umno, backed the government's decision to relocate the Tanjong Pagar railway station to Woodlands by July 1 next year.

"My explanation was accepted by the supreme council and they are of the view that the solution is a win-win for both Malaysia and Singapore," Mr Najib was quoted as saying in a Reuters report.

Mr Najib and Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced the deal on the railway land on Monday, resolving an issue that has been outstanding for almost 20 years.

They said a company, M-S Pte Ltd, will be set up to take ownership of the vacated area, with 60 per cent of the equity held by Malaysian investment agency Khazanah Nasional Berhad and 40 per cent by Temasek Holdings.

Both sides will conduct valuations of the land and Mr Lee will visit Kuala Lumpur within a month with a proposal for a land swap.

The railway land could be swapped for real estate in two of Singapore's most expensive districts, including the site of the multibillion-dollar Marina Bay Sands casino complex, which opened last month.

Yesterday, former Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad said other contentious bilateral issues - such as the price of water sold to Singapore, the retirement funds issue and the construction of a new bridge linking the two countries - should also be addressed quickly by Mr Najib's administration.

Mr Najib said: "We look at these in stages. One meeting cannot solve everything." He added: "I believe with trust, a lot of issues can be addressed."

Najib wants MIC to put house in order

JOHOR BARU: The Prime Minister wants the internal MIC conflict to be resolved fast.

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said it was important for MIC, as a component party in Barisan Nasional, to play an important role in regaining the confidence of the people to support the ruling coalition.

He was commenting on the escalating conflict between MIC president Datuk Seri S.Samy Vellu and sacked party deputy Youth chief V.Mugilan - who had urged the president to relinquish his seat now.

The call for Samy Vellu's exit gained momentum when two other central working committee (CWC) members - G. Kumar Aamaan and K.P. Samy - joined the fray yesterday, demanding the long-time party president to go as soon as possible.

Najib however, did not want to comment on Samy Vellu's decision to step down as party president in September next year.

“I don't want to comment because it is an internal matter of MIC,” he said after opening the Aero Mall and Senai Aviation Park at Senai Airport here today.

Separately, MIC deputy president Datuk G. Palanivel reiterated his support for Samy Vellu.

He maintained his stand that Samy Vellu had to be the one to decide when to leave. “As for me, I have said in the past that I am a leader in my own right and I always like to work together with everyone. Many in the media have asked me the question whether I am ready to take the helm.

“My answer is very simple...when the delegates voted me in 2006 and in 2009 (as deputy president), they were sure that they were voting in someone capable and experienced. The president too has always said that I have the capability,” he added --Bernama.

Najib made history in Sibu - but still loses the election

SIBU - Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak became the first Prime Minister to attend a celebration in honour of a Chinese deity on Wednesday but the historic visit opened him to criticism from the opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) for being all too brief.

The Tua Pek Kong procession, held every three years, became a venue for leaders from both the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) and PR's Democratic Action Party (DAP) to charm the Chinese voters who form about 67 per cent of the 54,695 Sibu voters.

The festival is one of the major events in Sarawak's tourism calendar.

About 7,000 participants from over 100 Chinese cultural and religious organisations from across the country took part in the procession. Thousands of people also lined the streets of Sibu town to watch the procession.

The Sarawak DAP chief, along with DAP opposition leader Lim Kit Siang, started gathering outside the temple as early as 6.30pm, an hour before the procession started. Announcements were also made over the temple's public address system for the crowd to loudly applaud Mr Najib's arrival.

About 10 minutes before the start of the procession, Mr Najib arrived with the BN candidate, Mr Robert Lau Hui Yew, for this Sunday's by-election. He was quickly ushered to the temple entrance to sign a plaque to commemorate his visit.

Mr Najib was then ushered back to his car before a temple official could present him with a picture of the temple as a souvenir.

With a lot of pushing and shoving and shouts of "Don't push!" from the crowd, Mr Najib was finally escorted to his car.

Via Twitter, Mr Lim who held on to his Blackberry while the minor commotion was going on, described Mr Najib's appearance as a "three minutes lightning visit".

"If in vital Sibu by-election Najib can only spare 3mins 4 120yr TuaPekKong Temple after so much publicity what does it imply?" twittered Mr Lim.

Mr Najib had earlier handed RM15 million ($6.5 million) in financial assistance to 65 Chinese schools as part of his attempt to win Chinese votes. THE MALAYSIAN INSIDER

No More Foreign Workers - Najib

Pitching for the local workforce, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has warned the employers against finding 'excuses' to hire foreign workers.

Malaysia has close to three million foreign workers from the neighbouring Southeast Asian countries and from South Asia, including significant numbers from India and Bangladesh.

Najib asked the employers to treat the local workers 'fairly' by offering reasonable salaries while launching the 2010 Workers' Day celebration here Saturday.

'Look for ways to improve things instead of taking the easy way out by finding all sorts of excuses to bring in foreign workers,' The Star quoted him as saying.

Traditionally, Malaysia imports semi-skilled and unskilled workers as the local population is either not trained or not inclined.

Najib also said the government would introduce a new scheme under the 10th Malaysia Plan to be known as 'shop floor training' to assist employers in providing in-house training. This, he said, would raise workers' skills.

'Instead of sending workers for skill upgrading training elsewhere, it will be conducted at their work place.

'I believe this is more practical and cost-effective and will result in workers earning more due to their improved skill,' he said.

While tackling global recession, the government ordered the removal of foreign workers from 'visible' jobs like the airports and replace them with the locals.

Malaysia has a large number of illegal workers who either enter the country with the help of recruiting agencies or come as tourists and stay on.

The Malaysian Trade Union Congress (MTUC) has been urging the government to regularize these workers rather than import more.

Economic indicators show that Malaysia is improving

BUTTERWORTH, May 8 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said Malaysia’s economic recovery is promising when compared with other countries.

Citing a report prepared by the Economic Planning Unit of the Prime Minister’s Department, he said Malaysia’s economic growth was more encouraging than others.

“In the next few days, the government will announce the first-quarter Gross Domestic Product growth figure,” Najib said when opening the Pulau Pinang Malay Economic Convention here today.

The prime minister said although the global economy was still somewhat shaky with the weak stock market in Europe, yet, Malaysia managed to record impressive growth.

“Economic indicators show that Malaysia’s economic situation is improving,” he said, adding that the recovery stemmed from the government’s fiscal and financial initiatives.

Najib to UMNO members - Avoid Conspiracies

PEKAN, May 7 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak today reminded Umno members not to get involved in cliques or conspiracies as these two elements could lead to the party’s disintegration.

The prime minister said they should instead work together as a team and do things that were beneficial to the party and country.

“Our formula is to work as a single team and not get involved in cliques or conspiracies. We should be working to defeat the opposition and not do things which are detrimental to ourselves,” he said when simultaneously opening the meetings of several Pekan Umno branches here today.

Citing the example of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in Japan, Najib (picture), who is also Umno president, said the downfall of the LDP, which is about the same age as Umno, was because of the two elements he mentioned.

“Recently, we heard a first-hand account from LDP leaders as to why the party crumbled in the last general election in Japan. One of the factors was that there were too many cliques in it and all kinds of conspiracies which ultimately led to its own downfall because they were spending more energy trying to outdo each other than looking after the interests of the people,” he said.

Najib said should one day Umno collapse, it would not be caused by others but because of infighting among Umno members.

He said continuous success required concerted ongoing effort and would not “fall on the lap”.

According to Najib, efforts must be taken to move further forward immediately after a general election and not wait to act just before an election comes.

“We have to plan systematically and execute our plans accordingly,” he said, adding that the results of the 2008 general election where the Barisan Nasional (BN) lost five states and its two-thirds majority in Parliament was a good lesson that things could not be taken for granted.

He said Umno members needed to change with the times and realise that what was of uppermost importance was the party and country and not factions that were only out to serve their own vested interests.

He added that Umno members could take comfort that Malays who deserted the party in the 2008 election had returned to the fold as evidenced in the just-concluded Hulu Selangor parliamentary by-election in opposition-held Selangor where the BN won. — Bernama

Kelantan Royal Issue to be resolved amicably

Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today he hopes the crisis involving the Kelantan palace would be resolved amicably.

The prime minister said the crisis should not lead to open disputes to the point of accusations and counter accusations being hurled or legal action resorted to within the royal household.

“I hope the situation will be resolved within the royal household, that would the best rather than disputing matters openly, hurling accusations or resorting to legal action,” he told reporters after simultaneously opening the meetings of several Pekan Umno branches here today.

He said this when asked to comment on the crisis in the Kelantan palace which has been going on for some time, with the latest development being the hospitalisation of the Sultan of Kelantan Tuanku Ismail Petra at the Kubang Kerian Hospital in Kota Baru on Tuesday becoming a bone of contention among the disputing parties.

Najib said the matter (hospitalisation) should be resolved through discussions among the members of the royal family.

“The issue should be discussed within the family. That is the best solution and the Sultan of Kelantan’s health should be made priority,” he said.

Asked if the federal government would intervene, Najib said the matter involved the state and Kelantan palace and as such the federal government would not interfere.

“It is best that this (royal crisis) is settled within the family,” said Najib.

Commenting on the issue of Aminulrasyid Amzah, who was killed when hit by a bullet from shots fired by police while he was fleeing from pursuing patrol cars, Najib said he had requested for investigations on the case be done fairly and accurately.

“I believe the case will be solved quickly and the police and Attorney-General will accept any decision made based on the investigation’s findings,” he said.

To a question about the issue being a topic for bloggers to politicise, Najib said: “They are taking advantage of the issue while we are trying to seek the truth for Aminulrasyid’s family and the police.” — Bernama

Public wants transparent inquiry into boy’s shooting - says Najib

SIBU: Police should not be defensive over the shooting of a schoolboy nor do anything that could be construed as trying to cover up for their men, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

While expressing regret over the shooting of Aminulrasyid Amzah, the prime minister said the investigations must be open and transparent as the public demanded this.

“The public wants answers and I hope the police will fully cooperate in the investigations,” Najib said at the Rajang Security Command military camp, home of the 9th Infantry Brigade, when he dropped by for lunch with officers and their wives.

The camp was one of seven places Najib visited in a hectic one-day programme here, which will see a by-election next week.

“The investigations should also satisfy the family of the victim as they have the right to know what really happened. I hope the police will cooperate and not cover up for anyone if they are wrong.”

Najib also warned the public against implying that the policemen were guilty before the investigations were completed.

“It is natural for the public to have the perception that the law enforcers are guilty when such incidents happen. The perception of guilt will always lie with the authorities.

“But we cannot be unfair, pass judgment or point fingers at anyone when we don’t have the complete facts.”

Najib also defended Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan, who has come under fire with calls for him to take responsibility for the shooting and resign.

“You cannot ask the IGP to step down after a single incident. Unless it (the incident) is the direct responsibility of the IGP ... (then) that’s a different story.”

The incident has been classified as murder and four policemen are being investigated for their role in the shooting.

Aminulrasyid, a Form Three student of SMK Section 9, Shah Alam, was shot while he was driving his sister’s Proton Iswara early on Monday.

Initial reports revealed that the victim, and a schoolmate, had grazed a car near a restaurant and were then chased by a group of motorcyclists and another car.

Two police cars reportedly joined in the chase and the policemen fired shots at Aminulrasyid’s vehicle to force him to stop.

Unconfirmed reports suggested that almost 20 shots were fired at the car. One of them struck the schoolboy in the back of the head, killing him instantly.

The car crashed into the retaining wall of a house some 100 metres from the victim’s home in Section 11, Shah Alam.

Police claimed they opened fire after Aminulrasyid tried to reverse his car into the policemen. They also claimed that they found a parang in the Proton Iswara.

The investigation papers, which were sent to the Attorney-General’s Chambers on Friday, were returned to police for further work.

A special committee headed by Deputy Home Minister Datuk Wira Abu Seman Yusop is overseeing investigations.

Meanwhile, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein urged the public to be fair and not have a negative perception of police.

In an interview with Bernama, Hishammuddin said the incident had put the police in a bad light.

He also urged all quarters to wait for the outcome of the investigations and to stop speculating or politicising the issue.

Najib is afraid to lose Sibu seat

SIBU: Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak today reminded the Barisan Nasional machinery to regard the Sibu parliamentary seat by-election as a challenge that should be taken seriously.

He said in the spirit of solidarity in BN and in Sarawak, the BN machinery would run smoothly to ensure victory in retaining the seat.

"We may be facing a stiff contest, so we need to focus on our campaign efforts," he said after attending a luncheon and presenting the Pingat Jasa Malaysia (PJM) medals to 32 state veterans of the Malaysian Armed Forces at the Rascom Camp, 9th Infantry Brigade, Jalan Ulu Koya, near here.

Also present were Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud, Defence Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Peter Chin, Army chief General Ismail Jamaluddin and BN candidate for the Sibu by-election, Robert Lau Hoi Yew.

Asked on BN's chances of retaining the seat, Najib said BN would work hard towards that with the cooperation of all its component parties.

On his working visit and his walkabout in several areas here including Sungei Merah town, he said the local residents' reaction was encouraging.

He said he was also happy with the development projects being carried out or in the process of being implemented like the flood-mitigation project in Kampung Nangka.

The prime minister said from the walkabouts, he also received feedback on the needs of the local communities.

Earlier, he said an allocation would be approved to repair and renovate the surau and religious school at the Rascom Camp.

Among the recipients of the PJM medal today was Temenggong Kanang Langkau, 67, from Sri Aman, and also the first Malaysian to receive the Seri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa (SP) and Panglima Gagah Berani (PGB) medals for gallantry.

Where is the commitment to 1Malaysia?

APRIL 17 — Datuk Seri Najib Razak has a real talent in delivering speeches, and sounds every part the statesman, especially on his travels around the world.

Closer to home, half of his countrymen are disgusted with the actions and words of some of his Umno party colleagues and Perkasa — the right-wing Malay group that is not quite Umno but whose members are mostly drawn from Malaysia’s biggest political party.

Speaking in New York yesterday, Najib said a multi-ethnic Malaysia must work towards forging a genuine national identity and that he stands ready to make difficult decisions needed by the country.

In one of his strongest speeches on his 1 Malaysia agenda, delivered at the Asia Society in New York, the prime minister acknowledged that there would be entrenched opposition but he was determined to deliver the reforms to bring the people together and place the country on the path of a high-income economy.

To his detractors, he had this to say:

“To those who harbour doubts about whether as prime minister and the government including my other colleagues have the will to bring about these difficult changes, I have this to say: When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

“I am ready to make the difficult decisions that Malaysia needs.”

Are you Mr Prime Minister?

Perhaps Najib should speak with the same kind of candour to his partymen and follow up with some action.

A good starting point would be to show that he is not cowed by Perkasa and right-wing politicians in Umno.

Most people who know Najib will defend him and point out that he is not a hypocrite, that he genuinely believes in his 1 Malaysia message.

But so far, aside from making the right noise, Najib has lacked the courage to actually even once tell off some of his Umno colleagues for putting his administration at risk of becoming an all-talk, no-action government.

Malaysians could see that Najib was willing to throw out his own 1 Malaysia philosophy to defend Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, his deputy prime minister and Umno deputy president, for saying he was Malay first before he was Malaysian first.

Muhyiddin was perhaps reaching out to the conservative front of Umno and to the rural heartland personified by jingoistic and often downright scary editorials in Utusan Malaysia.

Perhaps the party No. 2, who according to his friends is also a great believer in multi-racialism and a true moderate at heart, is reaching out directly to the members of Umno who are keeping him in power.

But to ordinary Malaysians, this is a government that has not yet paid more than lip service to 1 Malaysia.

Democracy is about more than rule by majority.

It is also about the majority ensuring there is a place in the sun for all, particularly those in the minority.

The government’s proposed inter-faith panel is a case in point.

Before it has even started, it has now been torn to shreds by the religious conservatives and the right-wing in Umno.

Malaysians are being told almost on a daily basis that the majority will not accept it.

It is unclear if that is really true — that the majority of Malaysians will not accept the inter-faith panel unless its name is changed.

But what seems clear is that no one seemed to be bothered with asking how some minorities felt about the whole thing.

Obama questioned Najib on his New Economic Model

Obama brings up topic of New Economic Model with Najib

WASHINGTON: Malaysia’s New Economic Model (NEM) was one of the issues discussed during the bilateral meeting between Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and US President Barack Obama.

Obama, who raised the topic, wanted to know more about the NEM’s implementation.

The Prime Minister said he informed Obama of the Government’s goal of transforming Malaysia into a high-income economy and its liberalising policy.

“I explained that although Malaysia has been successful in its development approach in the past, it does not mean we will continue to be successful unless we look at a package that is more in tune with the new environment and can spur further development,” Najib said at a briefing for Malaysian journalists on Monday night.

Najib added that he brought up the example of Coca Cola investing RM1bil to illustrate how Malaysia had managed to convince huge American firms to invest in the country.

On his meeting with Obama that was held on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit, Najib was optimistic it would pave the way for “a new beginning” that could lead to a broad, multi-faceted development.

“Economic and trade investment will be a key component of our bilateral ties as we move forward because the US is a big source, not only in terms of an export market for our manufacturing industry but also a source for new technology such as ICT and biotechnology.”

He pointed out that most fund managers and venture capitalists were US-based.

“There are thus a host of economic opportunities that we can leverage on if we have good bilateral ties with the US,” Najib said.

He also stressed on collaboration in terms of security, counter-terrorism and sharing of information under bilateral ties, saying:

“Equally important to us is making the world a safer place.”

Najib said he extended an invitation to Obama to visit Malaysia, adding that the last president to step into the country did so in 1966.

Apart from meeting Obama, Najib also attended a working lunch with US vice-president Joe Biden and later had a face-to-face meeting with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key.

Najib Razak has defended his New Economic Model

Malaysian PM Najib defends country's New Economic Model
By Imelda Saad
SINGAPORE: Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has defended the country's New Economic Model which he revealed last week.

The plan, aimed at steering Malaysia to a high-income based economy, has received criticisms among some sectors for eroding its decades-old affirmative action policy.

Mr Najib was addressing more than 100 journalists at a dialogue session after his speech at a gala dinner organised by the Foreign Correspondents Association in Singapore on Tuesday.

The Malaysian PM arrived in Singapore just three days after marking his first year in office.

Fresh from announcing the country's new growth strategies, he explained the thinking behind some of the reforms.

Questions flowed fast on whether the New Economic Model will get a backlash from Malaysia's bumiputras and even within the ruling Barisan Nasional party.

Mr Najib said Malaysia's affirmative action policy, which gives Malays special privileges, have not hampered Malaysia's growth.

He said that even at the height of the New Economic Policy, Malaysia was growing at 8 to 9 per cent and some of the richest people in Malaysia are non-Malays.

Mr Najib said: "So it will be a more transparent and fairer way in which we implement affirmative action, and at the end of the day, I hope it will lead to a more cohesive and socially harmonious society."

He said the new approach to Malaysia's affirmative action is for it to be more "market-friendly, transparent, merit-based, and needs-based".

The reforms come after the Barisan Nasional took a knocking at the last general elections in 2008.

The results prompted the new prime minister to think about getting back to basics.

Mr Najib said: "What the public wanted and the rakyat or the people wanted was a change. But they did not want an incremental change or incremental changes, they wanted a massive transformation both economically and politically, and the time was right for us to embark on this."

He also revealed that Malaysia will identify new growth engines to propel the economy.

He did not give details, but said it will move beyond traditional sectors like oil and gas, rubber, and palm oil.

Mr Najib also said Malaysia will most probably issue Islamic bonds denominated in US dollars.

He did not reveal when this will take place or the size, which he said will be announced later. He said Malaysia does not actually need the money, but a bond issue would be a benchmark on how the markets viewed the country's creditworthiness.

He was asked about the possibility of a re-merger with Singapore.

Mr Najib said: "Both countries have taken different paths. It would be too traumatic to try to have a political reunification, but I would like to see deeper economic relations between Malaysia and Singapore, I would like to see good relations between both countries. I would like to see us work together in many fronts."

One is a joint project with Raffles Education to develop a university in Iskandar Malaysia, Johor's economic corridor.

The university will be implemented in three phases, with an initial enrolment of about 5,000 students within its first five years. Mr Najib said an application has already been made to Malaysia's Ministry of Higher Education to establish the university.

There is also a plan to build a Wellness Centre on a 500-acre plot of land in the area.

Mr Najib noted: "But we have not concluded it yet. So, that is a subject of intense discussion with Singapore."

Mr Najib and Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong are expected to meet for a retreat in Singapore next month to discuss how to further strengthen bilateral relations.

Now that the foundation has been set, all eyes will be on the implementation of the policies announced.

Mr Najib has indicated that details on the New Economic Model will be revealed over the next few months. - CNA/m

Najib to confront Malay extremism with confidence

MALAYSIAN Prime Minister Najib Razak said yesterday that he is confident he can deal with the backlash expected from his plan to dismantle the country's affirmative action, which favours Malays.

He admitted he is putting himself 'on the line' in Umno by rolling back pro-Malay initiatives.

But he said he senses that Malaysians were buying into the New Economic Model (NEM) and other policies unveiled by his administration.

Datuk Seri Najib was speaking at a gala dinner organised by the Foreign Correspondents Association of Singapore at the Fullerton Hotel. He later fielded questions for about an hour.

In his speech, he outlined his 1Malaysia concept and the Government Transformation Programme to improve the civil service.

He also spoke of National Key Result Areas the government wants to focus on, such as reducing crime.

Mahathir criticises Najib economic reforms

by Razak Ahmad
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia's influential former premier Mahathir Mohamad said on Wednesday the country's current prime minister had yet to live up to promises, and urged him to forge ahead with pledged reforms.

A vocal government critic who led the push to oust his immediate successor and usher in Najib Razak as premier in 2009, Mahathir also defended an affirmative action policy that favours the country's Malay majority. Najib has pledged to roll back Malay privileges in a new economic model he released on Tuesday.

"One year is not enough (for an assessment), you are just learning to be a prime minister really," Mahathir, 84, said in an interview on the sidelines of an investor conference.

"Najib has just released his economic policy, we need to see whether the performance is as good as promised."

Najib took office in April last year pledging reforms to rejuvenate investment and reverse 2008 election losses suffered by the coalition that has ruled Malaysia for 52 years.

But his government has delayed the introduction of petrol and electricity price rises, road toll increases and a goods and services tax in a series of decisions that has undermined market confidence in his ability to deliver economic reforms.

That, Mahathir said, was no way to oversee change.

"I think that is a very bad way of doing things," he said. "You make a decision, then you have to implement it, but before making a decision, you should think very carefully about it."

Najib approval rating climbs to 68pc

The Malaysian Insider, 2 April 2010

Datuk Seri Najib Razak is in a stronger position today than he was 12 months ago, when he was appointed Malaysia’s sixth prime minister, a recent survey has shown.

Then, his approval rating was a dismal 44 per cent; the economy was slipping into unforgiving negative territory, and he seemed vulnerable as he was pelted by bad news everywhere he turned.

Today, the proportion of Malaysians satisfied with his performance as the PM stands at 68 per cent, the highest it has been since the Merdeka Center for Opinion Research began tracking his approval ratings in April 2009, the month he replaced Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in Putrajaya.

Merdeka Center polled 883 registered voters in West Malaysia between March 11 and March 27, and the questions covered the direction of the country, public satisfaction with the prime minister, and perception of some of his key initiatives.

A summary of the survey was obtained by The Malaysian Insider.

The pollster noted that, since June 2009, satisfaction levels with Najib’s performance as premier has hovered in the 65 per cent range, plummeting sharply once to 56 per cent in September last year, in the wake of the cow head protest by mainly Umno members against the construction of a Hindu temple in Shah Alam and the death of DAP aide, Teoh Beng Hock, while in the custody of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

In the latest survey, 68 per cent of the respondents said that they were satisfied with the prime minister’s performance. This upward trend occurred despite issues that erupted recently, such as the “Allah” controversy and subsequent attacks on places of worship.

Najib’s improved numbers is also the result of a recuperating economy, along with an opposition which has been troubled by defections and infighting.

Najib Asks For Press Support

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid
KUALA LUMPUR, March 19 — While insisting that the government respects press freedom, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak (picture) has called on the media to “become his partner” and back the agenda of his administration.

Najib said tonight it was important that the media act as an educational tool to advocate “change” instead of inducing fear against it.

The media, said Najib, should play a vital role in his administration’s effort to end the subsidy mentality, nestled among the Malays which form the country’s majority and who are becoming more unsettled by the liberalisation efforts of Najib’s New Economic Model.

Referring to his government’s plan to cut away sugar subsidy and the outrage it sparked, the PM said it was the responsibility of the press to translate the move as positive for the good of the voters and the economy.

“Because of the high level of sugar consumption, the story must be skewed to inform the public even though the price of the commodity has gone up, it is not good because we take too much sugar,” said Najib in his speech at the National Press Club awards here.

Najib also denied the allegations that freedom of the press is curtailed, calling it an unfair description of the government-linked Malaysian mainstream media.

“I do feel at times that the accusations that Malaysia lacks press freedom is grossly unfair,” he said.

The country’s sixth premier maintained, just as his more authoritative predecessors had in the past, that “as long as the reports do not run afoul of” the country’s “existing laws, the press is free to report anything”.

And echoing past administrations, Najib reasoned that press freedom should coincide with responsibility.

“In any case, I have always been of view that freedom without responsibility is no freedom at all. It is in fact, chaos,” he said.

Najib tonight also pointed out that his administration had not used any law such as the Internal Security Act, a law that permits detention without trial, on journalists or the media.

“Don’t worry about the ISA, or suspension. I have no plan to use it unless you are irresponsible,” he said.

Najib to announce NEM in two stages

By Adib Zalkapli
PUTRAJAYA, March 11 —Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today said the New Economic Model (NEM) will be announced in two stages, dismissing the speculation that it has been postponed.

Najib said it will be launched on March 30 during the Invest Malaysia conference and confirmed the second announcement will be made together with the 10th Malaysia Plan.

“We will make the announcement, but it will be an announcement in two stages,” he told reporters here.

“RM-10 and slightly after RM-10, depending on the process we want to engage all stakeholders,” said Najib when asked to confirm if the second announcement will be incorporated with the 10th Malaysia Plan.

Najib, however, refused to give details of the announcement.

“Wait. First, don’t jump the gun. Otherwise I will be speaking prematurely. I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag. Otherwise I will be like Malaysian Insider,” he said.

The Malaysian Insider reported recently that the government decided to postpone the announcement after it received feedback from various quarters including the Malay nationalist group Perkasa and the Malay Consultative Council (MPM).

Perkasa, a member of MPM, is worried that the NEM will increase the monopoly of the country’s economy by the Chinese community.

The NEM was drafted to turn Malaysia into a high-income nation based on innovation and creativity.

The National Economic Advisory Council (NEAC), chaired by Tan Sri Amirsham Abdul Aziz, had briefed the Cabinet for the second time on March 1, days after engaging with several quarters on various issues related to the NEM.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin stressed last weekend that the government will not only consider the interest of the Malays but other communities as well in drafting the NEM.

NEM is one of the promises made by Najib when he became Prime Minister in April last year.

PM Datuk Seri Najib will NOT attend disputed MCA AGM

Prime Minister Najib Razak will not be attending the disputed MCA annual general meeting this Sunday. Najib's press aide Tengku Sharifuddin Tengku Ahmad told Malaysiakini this evening that the prime minister will not officially launch the controversial AGM, which is to kick off on Sunday morning at the MCA headquarters in Kuala Lumpur.

Traditionally, the prime minister is invited to officiate the annual general meetings of Barisan Nasional component parties. The absence of Najib at this weekend's AGM, which has been disputed by the Youth and Wanita wings' along with vice-president Liow Tiong Lai, is the clearest indication yet that party chief Ong Tee Keat has lost the support of the Umno president. This afternoon, the caretaker central committee at a meeting chaired by Ong insisted that the AGM should go ahead as planned despite stringent objections from MCA Youth chief Wee Ka Siong and Wanita chief Chew Mei Fun. The duo subsequently walked out of the meeting in protest.

Najib invites Facebook friends to tea party

Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak, it seems, is making friends with netizens.

The Malaysian leader has invited 300 friends of his Facebook page to a tea party at his Putrajaya home next Saturday.

In the past, the Malaysian government was quick to condemn blogs and websites. The Internet was widely credited – or blamed, depending on one’s political preference – for the political tsunami in the March 2008 general election.

The ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) suffered massive poll losses. The opposition Pakatan Rakyat, using the Internet to its advantage, reaped huge gains.

So the Premier’s move to meet his online fans is an obvious attempt by the BN ruling coalition to get close to the growing numbers who hang out in cyberspace. An estimated 42 per cent of Malaysians have Internet access.

Najib has a www.1malaysia. blog and Facebook and Twitter accounts. In the past, some of his Twitter followers had complained that his tweets were a little dry and impersonal, and rarely said more than “4.30pm: Meeting”.

That, too, seems to be changing, judging by a March 2 tweet: “Visited Kampung Sungai Bedil yesterday in Sarawak, where I retraced the steps of my dear father.”

Now his online presence is fast gaining popularity. He has more than 118,000 fans on Facebook. That is more than his chief rival Anwar Ibrahim’s 60,544 fans and Democratic Action Party veteran Lim Kit Siang’s 20,902 fans.

Mr Najib also has more than 11,000 followers on Twitter versus 6,000-plus for both Mr Anwar and Mr Lim.

When he announced the tea party, some 600 people responded. They included fans asking for invites. One went: “I’ll love to come to ur tea party. Please pick me so I will know more. Please…We love u Datuk.”

But there were also complaints. One suggested: “If space is limited at Putrajaya Seri Perdana, why not have the event at the stadium? More people can come.”

Why only Najib can lead us out of impending doom

The slogan 'Malaysia Boleh' was coined by Dr Mahathir Mohamad when he was the prime minister is now a joke. Ironically, the good intent of the overly farsighted Tun to inculcate confidence among Malaysians was the beginning of the decline or fall of Malaysia as a progressive society. Malaysians became bubble-headed when Mahathir commenced a series of ego-boosting mega-projects culminating with a journey into space.

I am not interested to outline Mahathir's achievements that had helped to cultivate a 'super-ego' amongst many Malaysians today who had made it rich or powerful irrespective of their paths or their ways. Under Tun M, Malaysians from all walks of life and race adopted a 'Bolehland' style whereby nothing stood in the way of determination and will. The Machiavellian theory of 'the end justifies the means' has been practiced and adopted by all and sundry from crooks to bigots.

The value system of Malaysians had been destroyed when the pillars of the judiciary were tampered with. The skepticism of the general public on our value system has led to a gradual disintegration of our social order, legal structure and administrative culture. We were so obsessed with success that we failed to uphold the basic decency of truth and justice. We became so arrogant that we thought the world is beneath our feet and is for us to conquer.

Our 'Bolehland' allows us to justify any amendment of the constitutions, the law and even interference with state institutions with little regard for tradition, convention and the implications. We were so arrogant that many politicians, government officials, businessman etc claimed that the rules, laws and everything else could be changed. And indeed changes were made and the rules of the games changed when it suited the masters. We have little regard or respect for fundamentals or ground rules.

Instances of businessmen who had failed in their projects or business ventures and who were rescued by the stroke of the pen were rampant. Whenever there was a political struggle, money in cash or in any form became the sole factor that determined the level of support and the ultimate victor. The line between statesmen and businessmen was erased when Tun M blatantly advocated the pride of being rich or super-rich with a special emphasis on 'capital M'. Unfortunately, although Tun M is a good public speaker, he has failed to emphasise the right manner and approach in acquiring wealth.

The virtues and ethics of business was not well-articulated. Many approached business as a 'who-you-know' rather than a 'what you know'. Playing golf or pulling the right strings or 'cables' became the rule of the day. There was relatively lesser emphasis on productivity or delivery compared to the emphasis on opportunities to profit. Projects were created or launched not out of need or necessities of he majority but only to facilitate or create an opportunity to make a small minority wealthy.

In all fairness, it was Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who brought Malaysians to their senses. Abdullah had admitted that he may not be smarter than Tun M but he did tried to remedy and rectify the mistakes and right the wrongs. He may have been accused of many things such as 'flip-flops' , 'Sleeping Beauty' etc but he is definitely sincere and genuine in trying to bring Malaysians down to earth to the reality and inability of the Malaysia Bolehland. It was Abdullah who allowed a greater transparency and democracy in our Malaysian political sphere.

Abdullah's liberal approach towards the opposition allowed Mahathir to interfere and influence the people to return BN to power with a smaller majority in the last general election. It was Mahathir who had promised not to interfere with the administration if and when he retires. It was also Mahathir who had openly and defiantly advocated that BN be returned with a lesser than two- thirds majority prior to the 2008 general election.

Abdullah's sincerity and good intent was untimely and he was not given sufficient time to leave his mark. It is now up to Najib Abdul Razak to right the wrongs and correct the mistakes of the past leadership.

Unfortunately our economics fundamentals are facing gradual disintegration with the exhaustion of our natural resources with particular reference to the oil. Politically, we are becoming more 'barbaric' where we are becoming less civil to one another. Even the man-on-the-street is becoming nastier and more rebellious.

DAP, PAS and PKR struck the political jackpot in the March 8, 2008 general election and they are getting bigheaded now. All their energy and efforts are now orchestrated towards bringing about the downfall of the BN government. They will stoop as low as they can go - .they will distort, twist or spin. They will play the racial or religious card to the hilt. This is the moment they have been waiting for....

Poor Najib! He is in the least admirable situation. His '1Malaysia' plan is facing resistance from within. His attempt to hold the country together is seen to be a sign of weakness instead.
Meanwhile, 'Malaysia Bolehland' is now seen as the 'Tak Bolehland'. We are unable to do menial, labour, house chores etc. We are no longer able to be a waiter or a waitress to serve each other. We are more of rent-seekers - no longer producers. Malaysia is no longer competitive and attractive for investors.

There are more drug abusers than baby boomers. The baby boomers grew up with privileges and affluence. They expect the country to grow and improve in time. Unfortunately they are in for a shock. So it is time for us to pull up our socks and join forces to overcome the many social, political and economical bubbles that are about to burst. There are going to be more losers than winners.

In the meantime, let's take a deep breath. Najib is the man with the experience and astuteness to bring us out of this gradual path to doom. He has outlined the path and the solutions for us to walk together. Believe it or not. It is your choice or your funeral.

Najib's 1Malaysia economic model worries racist Malay groups

By G. Manimaran
KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 28 - Worries about an impending “overly liberal” New Economic Model has prompted nearly 80 Malay groups to form the Malay Consultative Council (MPM) to push the government to maintain affirmative action for the country’s dominant race.

A Malay leader revealed that the MPM wants the Umno-led Barisan Nasional government to maintain a “guided” New Economic Policy (NEP) that protects the Malays and Bumiputras, saying the community was worried about moves to abolish subsidies and other forms of aid.

“We don’t want an economic model that is overly free or overly liberal... we want a model that can lead the interests of the Malays,” the leader told The Malaysian Insider on condition of anonymity after attending the MPM launch in the Sultan Sulaiman Club yesterday.

The Malaysian Insider understands that the MPM is disappointed with the government for not having comprehensive discussions with Malay groups and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) about the New Economic Model (NEM), to be launched next month in line with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s 1 Malaysia concept and global economic trends.

There were also several Malay NGO leaders who felt the current problems are due to a weak government that was meeting the demands of other races in the economic sector. Najib had freed 27 economic sub-sectors from mandatory Bumiputra participation last year and also reduced quotas for Bumiputra equity in initial public share offers.

The MPM felt that Malay political leaders themselves are sidelining Malay interests, the leader said without identifying these politicians.

It is understood that while MPM was formed to defend and protect Malay rights and Islam, it will initially focus on the economy.

Among the prime movers in MPM are Perkasa, ex-Umno lawmakers council Mubarak, Peninsula Malay Students Confederation (GPMS), Malay Professional Thinkers Association and Cuepacs.

The MPM will organise a round-table conference for its members on Mar 7 to discuss the future economic direction of the Malays and an introduction to the NEM which Najib had promised would lead to higher income based on innovation and creativity.

“Yesterday’s meeting was focused on protecting Malay interest in the economy, we don’t want the Malays to continue being sidelined by open economic policies.

“To ensure that the NEM has affirmative approaches to help the Malays and Bumiputras because we hear this element is missing in the new model ... this was the emphasis by the NGOs supporting the MPM,” he added.

The leader said a majority of NGOs in the MPM had disclosed that Malays and Bumiputras feel their position was threatened as the country’s economy is still being controlled by minority groups.

Perkasa president Datuk Ibrahim Ali yesterday said MPM’s role is to protect and be the frontline against quarters that continuously try to undermine the rights, privileges and economy of the Malays, position of Islam and Malay Rulers in the country.

He said the MPM will play its role as a pressure group to the government to ensure it does not stray from the core principles in the Federal Constitution, particularly Article 153 that protects the Malays.

Earlier this month when opening the 1 Malaysia Economic Conference, the prime minister had asked local industries to accept changes that are occurring without expecting much protection from the government.

Najib, who is also Finance Minister, is battling to reduce deficits and steer the economy out of the recession.

He announced last week that the country’s economy grew 4.5 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2009 with overall growth shrinking 1.7 per cent against earlier gloomier estimates of 3 per cent.

However, the Najib administration is also battling to keep the economy afloat as foreign direct investments continue to fall.

International Trade and Industry deputy minister Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir promised last week that the NEM would make appropriate concessions for the Bumiputras in line with previous policies, including the NEP.

He admitted to have received visits from NGOs representing various industries and sectors who had expressed worry that the NEM would be too open and reduce opportunities for Bumiputera entrepreneurs and businessmen.

Mukhriz said that the government would give the appropriate consideration for all quarters in its policies.

UMNO to solve problems of other races

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 20 — Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak today called on his party to adopt a paradigm shift in order to win over the non-Malays, by solving the problems of all Malaysians regardless of race.

“Why are they not looking for Umno to solve their problems? Why are they going to the opposition?” Najib asked when opening the Wanita Umno Convention at the Putra World Trade Centre, here this afternoon.

The prime minister said that Malaysia’s success was dependent on political stability and Malay leadership, in line with his 1 Malaysia concept.

“We must take care of others races so they will respect us.”

He pointed out that in a parliamentary democracy, the people had the ultimate power and that was why Umno needed to gain the support of all races.

Najib called on Wanita Umno to be the catalyst of change and accepted their commitment, made earlier by their chief Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, to be the pulse of transformation and innovation for the nation.

He commended the determination of the Wanita Umno delegates, whom he said had woken up from the nightmare of Election 2008 when the Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition lost its traditional two-thirds majority in parliament and five states to the opposition.

He said to be agents of change, Umno needed to start from within by rejecting all that was negative, such as being obsessed with positions.

Najib said there was no point for members to strive to become division, state or national leaders if Umno itself loses power.

He pointed out that, in the past, many have come to him seeking positions by claiming a loss of face if they did not get what they wanted.

“But it’s not about you, it’s about the party,” Najib stressed.

This new culture in Umno, he said, would enable BN to emerge stronger in the next general election.

Rosmah: I am not the hidden hand behind Najib's decision-making

KUALA LUMPUR: Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, wife of the prime minister, has dismissed a talk that she is the hidden hand behind Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s decision-making process.

“I have not heard about it, but it is not something that I am sensitive about as it is not true. Maybe I am a bit vocal or gregarious... I like to have friends, unlike Datuk Najib, who is a bit reserved.

“But it does not mean that just because Datuk Najib is a reserved person, I am making the decisions... I am the type who voices my dissatisfaction, but once said, it is done. I do not harbour ill feelings,” she said in an interview on Hello Malaysia over BernamaTV at Wisma Bernama here on Friday.

Rosmah said that although Najib was not a man of many words, he should not be underestimated.

“I always tell others not to underestimate Datuk Najib. He is not easily angered but do not provoke him. When he becomes angry, there is no forgiveness for you.

“Datuk does not say much but he registers what is happening around him. If I make a mistake, he will reprimand me. If he ever starts to stomp his feet, I will shudder.

“What is important is that we are close to each other. We can talk things over. We laugh and share jokes. It is important that a leader should not become too stressed.

“So, when he comes home, we watch tv together, we go out to dinner, together. In short, we are best friends,” she said.

Rosmah said that she looked after her husband’s needs such as food, clothes and health.

“When he is at home, I do not go out unless I have prior engagements. I also ensure that Datuk Najib stays fit by exercising at the gym.

“I try to ensure that he is not troubled by having to haggle over petty matters as his thoughts should be on the people and the country,” she added.

On another issue, Rosmah advised parents to get back to basics by passing on to their children the tradition of being respectful and thankful.

Parents should not leave the responsibility of teaching their children entirely to schools, she added.

"I am taking a serious view on this matter. Why do youths nowadays fail to say thank you, do not feel they are indebted or do not have respect for others?

"We need to have an awareness campaign, a programme to teach children to respect others. We may have to return to the tradition of mothers pinching us if we did not say 'thank you'.

"Nowadays, mothers no longer pinch their children. When their children make mistakes, they are not reprimanded," she said.

On the PERMATA Pintar programme, she said that about 400 smart children attended a summer camp held at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia recently.

"Under the PERMATA Seni programme, a children's concert involving an orchestra, a choir and traditional performances will be held at the end of the year," she added.

Najib has 100k Facebook fans

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak now has more than 100,000 Facebook fans. As of 5.25pm yesterday, Najib, who became a Facebook member in mid-October, had accumulated 101,337 fans.

"Dear friends, as of today (Friday), and within a short period, more than 100,000 of you have joined me on this page.

"I am delighted and moved by this response, and by the interest you continue to show in my posts through leaving comments.

"Thank you all for becoming fans and for helping to make this page an engaging forum for discussion. Let's continue this upward momentum!" he said in a brief remark left on the page.

Like millions of people around the world, Najib joined the social networking website to reach out to the masses, and especially Malaysians, hoping to clip the political divide between the old and young generations.

Apart from the social networking portal, the prime minister also actively tweets on another social networking portal, Twitter.

SMEs get a boost from Najib

By Jeeva Arulampalam

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia - A masterplan for the years 2011 to 2020 will be developed to synchronise small- and medium-sized enterprise (SME) development with the new economic model, the prime minister said.

Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the masterplan would create an ecosystem that facilitated the development of SMEs from all aspects including funding, capacity-building and logistical support.

"The aim is to help SMEs grow from small successful local companies to regional and global levels," he said here yesterday, after chairing the 10th National SME Development Council meeting.

The masterplan will propose measures for SMEs to make a quantum leap in performance and for Malaysia to produce domestic, regional and global champions that can spearhead the country's economic growth.

The SME contribution to gross domestic product remained flat at 29 per cent during the period 2000 to 2004, but rose from 29.4 per cent in 2005 to 31.4 per cent in 2008.

"We've seen that the service sector is the sector that is most progressive in terms of SME development.

"We also want to focus on other sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing under the masterplan," said Najib.

He added that stakeholders and other parties were being consulted to redefine the SME.

The National SME Development Council had approved the establishment of a special unit responsible for SMEs at relevant agencies and ministries using available resources to enhance effectiveness, coordination and monitoring SME development initiatives.

The council also encouraged all ministries and agencies to adopt the SME Competitive Rating for Enhancement (SCORE) to monitor SMEs in their programmes.

Under the Integrated Action Plan 2009/2010, 354 programmes will be implemented this year with financial commitments totalling RM6.02 billion (S$2.48billion).

Roughly RM3.3 billion has been allocated for the development of SMEs in the services sector in line with the government's aim of developing Malaysia into a high-income economy.

Najib also urged SMEs to use Bank Negara Malaysia's financial advisory services if they are not able to find financing.

Last year, BNM assisted 253,801 individuals and businesses, an increase of 90 per cent compared with 133,439 individuals and businesses in 2008.

Also, 531 SMEs have received specific advisory services on access to financing from BNM, with 92 per cent of such cases resolved during the period.

Total financing from financial institutions amounted to RM135.5 billion at end of last year involving 635,841 SMEs.

Najib calls on Muslims to take the middle path

By Adib Zalkapli

PUTRAJAYA, Feb 5 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak called on the Muslim community to be moderate in their religious practices and to be wary of those who want to stir religious tensions by manipulating the "Allah" row.

Quoting the Quran, Najib said Muslims are referred to in the holy book as a moderate community.

"Therefore the concept of moderation, or the middle path, must be encouraged in Islam as any deed which is done more than necessary is considered extreme, but if it is less than necessary it is considered negligence," said Najib.

"Therefore the Muslim community cannot be rigid and extreme and also should not be too free, without limits," he added.

Najib was speaking at meeting with Islamic leaders and scholars here.

He also urged those present to handle the "Allah" dispute wisely, but did not elaborate on the sensitive issue.

"We must not take lightly controversial religious issues. On the issue of the word 'Allah', it has really tested our wisdom in handling it," said Najib, describing the series of attacks against places of worship as an attempt to destabilise the country.

"Please remember, 40 years after the racial riot of May 13, 1969, the Malaysian community has not given up on building a 1 Malaysian race," said Najib.

He also stressed the importance of dialogue in handling differences of opinion.

"Learn from history and remember that major wars started from small conflicts," said Najib.

After the opening speech Najib then proceeded to have a 20 minute, closed-door dialogue with the 600 Islamic leaders who were present.

Malaysia will not be used as terrorist transit point

KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia will not allow itself to be used as a transit point for terrorists, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak yesterday.

He said the government would not hesitate to carry out stern and proactive actions to safeguard the country's safety.

"We must carry out pre-emptive measures, whether in the country or abroad, before any violence happens.

"If anything untoward happened in the country, it would paint a bad picture of Malaysia.

"And if anything happened outside our country, we might be accused of being a transit point for terrorists. This is also bad for our country's image," said Najib, who is also Umno president, after chairing the party's supreme council meeting.

He was asked to comment on the move by the police last week to arrest 10 men with links to international terrorist organisations.

The nine foreigners and a Malaysian were also believed to be linked to a Nigerian student who attempted to blow up a US-bound flight on Christmas Day.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein had said that those detained posed a serious security threat to the country.

Najib said yesterday that as a responsible country to the international community, Malaysia must always ensure that there were no negative elements in the country.

"Malaysia is not a transit point for terrorists. Many people come to visit our country or use it as a transit point to another country. But that does not mean that we are a transit point for such activities.

"We will take action against those who make use of our country for that purpose."

Najib Visit to Batu Caves - Renewal of a Tradition neglected by Dr. M

I refer to the Malaysikini report Najib to make historic visit to Batu Caves.

The topic of the day that is creating positive waves among the Indian Malaysian community is the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak's imminent visit to Batu Caves on the eve of Thaipusam later today which is an auspicious occasion for the Hindu community worldwide. This is where the heartbeat of the Malaysian Hindu community can be adequately captured.

In the year 1970, that is exactly four decades ago, when political upheavals were rife, the current premier's father Abdul Razak took the effort to be with the Hindu community to model and mould this culture of acceptance and understanding.

It was acclaimed and applauded even then. But for no apparent reason after Hussein Onn's visit in 1979, this practice was discontinued. But now precisely after 31 years, Najib Razak has decided to show the community in no uncertain terms that he is with them.

This gesticulation of the premier to be there at this propitious ceremony is to be commended and to be emulated by leaders at all levels. It is a timely gesture, especially at this time in Malaysian history when religious and racial insensitivities and intolerance are ubiquitous.

It goes a long way to show that the PM cares about what happens to the Indian community. It is extremely symbolic in promoting mutual religious appreciation and understanding. On the same note, it allays the fears and apprehensions of the younger generation and imbues new hope and faith.

But one man alone cannot make the difference. The effort of this leader has to be emulated by all the other leaders without the distinction of rank and file, race and religion and should be made a unique Malaysian way of life.

It should become a regular and unalterable feature of our life in a pluralist society and not a once in two or three decades kind of political activity when the political pressures are mounting high.

In this, Malaysians can become and should become trendsetters in making this harmonious multi- racial living a reality in every day life and in all rungs of the society.

Najib Wants to Quick-fix Anwar?

MANILA: Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim on Friday accused his country's government of seeking to convict him quickly of sodomy as part of efforts to deflect attention against its own woes.

Anwar spoke out angrily after he lost his appeal for access to the government's evidence against him in the sodomy trial, which is due to start in Kuala Lumpur next week and could see him jailed for 20 years.

"I'm shocked with the (government's) impunity to go on with such a case despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary," Anwar told AFP on a short trip to the Philippines.

Anwar accused Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak of orchestrating efforts to have him convicted of sodomy, and said he feared the court could buckle under the pressure from the government.

Asked if he thought he would win the case, Anwar said: "Yes, assuming the court agrees... to look at facts and the law. I'm confident of the facts.

"(But) I'm not too confident of the system because I think Najib is quite directly involved."

Anwar said the court case may be over in a matter of weeks.

"It seems they want to rush it... their political masters want a quick conviction."

Anwar insisted the government was seeking to jail him on sodomy charges only to eliminate his political challenge, as Najib's ruling party was losing popularity amid corruption allegations and rising racial domestic tensions.

"I think Najib wants to deflect attention from the cases of corruption and the tensions that are brewing," he said.

Anwar is accused of having sexual relations with then 24-year-old Mohamad Saiful Bukhari Azlan, who was an aide in his office.

The case runs the risk of repeating history for Anwar, who was sacked as deputy prime minister and jailed a decade ago on separate sodomy and corruption charges.

He spent six years in prison but the sex charge was eventually overturned.

After being released, Anwar reinvigorated the opposition and rallied it in 2008 to achieve its best ever results in national elections, when it won a third of parliamentary seats.

When asked about the prospect of people taking to the streets to express support for him, Anwar said mass protests against the government could occur if he was found guilty of sodomy again.

"I cannot preclude that possibility," he said.

In Kuala Lumpur, Anwar's lawyer said their legal team would seek a review of Friday's Federal Court ruling that barred them from having access to the prosecution's evidence against him.

"The court ruled that the evidence that we were seeking did not fall within the 'necessary and desirable' category and turned down the appeal," lawyer Sankara Nair told AFP.

"It has far-reaching negative implications in Malaysian criminal law as it is a reversal of earlier positions in law allowing greater disclosure by the prosecutors so the accused can prepare his defence effectively."

Sankara said he would seek a stay of the trial, which is due to begin on Tuesday, to give time for Anwar's legal team to push for an appeal to strike out the case completely.