Top Story: MOSTI proposes global alliance on cyber security
|IN THIS UPDATE|
Culture and Human Development
Defense and Security
Food and Agriculture
Health and Life Sciences
Information Communication Technologies
Malaysia insists recent political disturbances will not derail its economic recovery as it continues to implement reforms.
International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed said this in London during a recent interview with the New York Times after the July 9 Bersih rally which resulted in widespread criticism of the Najib administration's clampdown on tens of thousands of demonstrators.
“It’s not having an impact on investor confidence. I think many investors have been to Malaysia, they understand the complications in Malaysia — multiracial, multireligious.
“We have to engage, we have to continue changing, reform," the influential newspaper quoted Mustapa.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz said on Monday, Aug 22 the committee would then be given six months to make recommendations on electoral reforms in the country.
He said the Election Commission (EC) would prepare a memorandum on the setting up of the committee, including its framework, to be tabled to the Cabinet on Sept 7.Nazri said the committee would consist of five parliamentarians from the ruling government, three from the opposition and an independent. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak had on Monday announced that a parliamentary select committee would be formed to look into ways to improve the country’s electoral process.
Assisting and safeguarding the interest and welfare of the Bumiputera remains the main agenda of leaders and the government today, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said.
"So, the Bumiputera need not worry if the word Bumiputera is not used or repeated numerous times when implementing policies or the New Economic Policy," he said when closing the two-day convention "Empowering the New Economic Model: A Bumiputera Economic Jihad", organised by the Gagasan Badan Ekonomi Melayu (GABEM) at Universiti Teknologi Mara, here Saturday, Aug 20.
Muhyiddin said that though the interest and welfare of all races would be taken into consideration when implementing the country's economic development policy, the interest of the Malays and Bumiputera would not be denied or forgotten.
Culture and Human Development
Datuk Seri Najib Razak sought today to justify his administration’s apparent return to affirmative action policies to boost the Bumiputera economy, saying a system based 100 per cent on meritocracy would only breed “a nation of mediocrity”.
The prime minister told a convention here that the government’s “new system” was to use meritocracy among Bumiputeras by identifying and rewarding sincere and deserving Malay businesses while at the same time creating a more competitive environment to enhance the Malay economy.
He said focussing entirely on meritocracy would not be fair to individuals living in rural and suburban areas, claiming they would not be able to compete on a level playing field with those living in urban centres.
“Yes, some have said that the time has arrived that we no longer need affirmative action, some say we can scrap the quota system, we do not need this and that... and that we should practise full meritocracy.
Pakatan Rakyat (PR) plans to unveil its national minimum wage proposal with the rest of the coalition’s alternative budget before the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) tables the Budget 2012 in Parliament in October.
PKR strategic director Rafizi Ramli said today the opposition wished to demonstrate its commitment to resolving a key workers’ grouse even as BN remains “wishy-washy” over its minimum wage policy.
“I think Pakatan will be the first one to commit to a number for minimum wage in October,” he told a press conference here.
Muslim scholar Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin took a swipe at Malaysia’s religious authorities in a recent Wall Street Journal (WSJ) interview, claiming that “racism and extreme religious fanaticism” are often used to protect certain political interests.
The former Perlis Mufti, who was recently placed on a terror watch list for Wahhabism, told the influential newspaper that the authorities here needed to be more open-minded, adding that the term “Wahhabi” was recklessly used in Malaysia as a derogatory term to slander others.
“Religious authorities in Malaysia should be more open-minded. Their attitude is to force others to think in only one way, and that is not the attitude of a civilised people,” he said, according to an excerpt of the interview found on WSJ’s website yesterday.
The city government here is pushing for the forging of barter trading arrangements between the city and the neighboring areas within the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines-East ASEAN Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) to help provide alternative livelihood opportunities for local traders and fishermen in the wake of the upcoming implementation of stricter fishing regulations in Indonesia.
City Mayor Darlene Antonino-Custodio said Thursday they have started exploring possible linkages with their counterpart local governments within the BIMP-EAGA for the opening of the barter exchanges, which would mainly utilize fishing boats from this city that would be affected by Indonesia’s new fishing rules.
The mayor said the move is mainly aimed to help offset the impact of the implementation of the new fishing regulations starting December 1 on the area’s fishing industry, especially the tuna handline fishing sector.
The Malaysia-Singapore Business Council’s (MSBC) has made good progress in the discussion on outstanding trade-related issues in an effort to promote investment in Malaysia at its pre-council meeting.
Minister of MITI, Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, said he has met with the Singapore business community on a regular basis.
Also present were Malaysia High Commisioner to Singapore Datuk Md Hussin Nayan, SBF chairman, Tony Chew, MIDA deputy DG II Datuk Azman Mahmud and senior director Phang Ah Tong.
Defense and Security
The strength of the Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF)in safeguarding the national assets, particularly oil and gas, in Malaysian waters is at an optimum level.
This is due to advanced technology and machinery used, besides capable manpower to safeguard the trillions of ringgit worth of oil and gas within the country’s waters in the South China Sea.
Deputy Defence Minister Datuk Dr Abd Latiff Ahmad said the more than 200 oil rigs located offshore were being safely guarded.
"The oil rigs producing oil and gas and generating revenue amounting to trillions of ringgit for the country must be fully guarded, and this is thanks to technology and the strength of our armed forces.
The oil and gas industry is poised to play a major role in the future development of Sabah.
Yayasan Sabah Group deputy director Datuk Dr Johan Arriffin A. Samad said the industry would grow at a rapid pace given the RM16bil investment in several major projects, including the Sabah Sarawak Oil and Gas pipeline project, Sabah Oil Gas Terminal (SOGT), Ammonia and Urea Plant (Project SAMUR) and the Kimanis Gas Fired Power Plant.
Dr Johan, who is also the executive chairman of Petrosab Logistik, a Yayasan Sabah investment arm for oil and gas business, said there are also substantial opportunities for downstream activities.
Petrol and diesel are still the main items being smuggled out through the Malaysia-Thailand border as their prices in Thailand are almost twice that in Malaysia.
Nevertheless, according to Anti-Smuggling Unit director-general (UPP)-cum-Home Ministry's Policing and Border Security Division secretary Datuk Ab Rahim Ismail, fuel smuggling was under control.
"The UPP had detected smuggling activities using privately-owned cars with modified tanks. They filled the tank with a small amount of fuel at several stations to avoid being detected by the authorities.
"After several arrests, we found that the modified tanks contained more than 200 litres of fuel each," he said here after ending a two-day visit to the Perlis and Kedah UPP yesterday evening.
The best bet for Malaysia to reduce greenhouse gas emission lies in the use of solar and biomass, said Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili.
He said this was based on the studies undertaken so far but the commercialisation of such technologies might not happen any time soon.
"Much work still needs to be done. But many consider the energy efficiency approach as the low hanging fruits to improve the country's energy use intensity," he said at the 28th anniversary celebration of the Rotary Club of Likas Bay, here Saturday night.
The growth of the Islamic reinsurance industry in Malaysia is being slowed by a lack of agreed standards and specialised expertise, according to Swiss Re Retakaful and MNRB Retakaful Bhd.
Companies are losing out to larger, more established competitors, Marcel Omar Papp, the head of Kuala Lumpur-based Swiss Re Retakaful, the syariah- compliant unit of the world's biggest reinsurer, said in an Aug 15 interview. Islamic insurers, or takaful operators, are allowed to work with non-syariah reinsurers when retakaful companies lack expertise or capacity, said Syed Moheeb Syed Kamarulzaman, chief executive officer of Kuala Lumpur-based Takaful Ikhlas Sdn.
While Islamic financial assets have been increasing by an average 15 per cent a year to US$1 trillion at the end of 2010, parts of the industry still need to be developed, according to the Kuala Lumpur-based Islamic Financial Services Board. Worldwide contributions to syariah-compliant insurers totalled US$9.2 billion in 2010 and may reach US$12 billion this year, Ernst & Young LLP predicts. The global insurance market was worth US$4.3 trillion last year, according to Swiss Re Ltd.
Malaysia’s economy grew at a slower pace of 4.0% in the second quarter ended June 30, 2011 from 4.9% in the first quarter, weighed down by the manufacturing sector following a weaker external environment.
Bank Negara Malaysia said on Wednesday, Aug 17 the manufacturing sector was impacted by the overall weakness in the advanced economies and the disruptions in the global manufacturing supply chain due to the disaster in Japan.
“Nevertheless, overall growth continued to be underpinned by the sustained expansion of private domestic demand. This was further supported by the strong exports of commodities and resource-based products given the favourable regional demand and high commodity prices,” it said.
Food and Agriculture
Various government departments and agencies will set up offices at the National Agribusiness Terminal (Teman) in Gopeng, near here, to enhance business activity in the area.
Among the agencies involved are Tabung Ekonomi Kumpulan Usaha Niaga Nasional, Bank Simpanan Nasional, Malaysian Pineapple Industry Board, Farmers Authority Board and the Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute.
State Federal Agriculture Marketing Authority director Basri Jasmo said the agencies would begin operations soon. At present, most government departments and agencies are located at Meru Raya, Jelapang.
Health and Life Sciences
Residents of Kuala Krai in Kelantan are at risk of contracting Leptospirosis, which is caused by rat urine, through the contamination of their water source, according to the Association of Water and Energy Research.
Association president S.Piarapakaran said today that a study showed that there was a high risk of contamination of the water source, a highland spring.
"The residents of this area are endangering their lives by using the water," he said in a statement.
He said the study that the association carried out also found water quality in several areas of Kelantan such as Kuala Krai, Temangan, Kota Baharu, Machang, Pasir Puteh, Jeli, Bachok, and Tanah Merah to be unsatisfactory.
The water was muddy and smelly, Piarapakaran said
Information Communication Technologies
The 1 Malaysia email project is expected to save the federal government RM200 million over 10 years by halving the cost of sending official correspondence to 50 sen from RM1.
While basic email is free, users will have to pay for premium services such as end-to-end encryption, which Tricubes chief executive Khairun Mokhtar has said will be provided as “a fraction of the cost”.
Tricubes aims to sign up 5.4 million users by year-end but critics have questioned the need for the service, pointing out that companies such as Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! already provide free and secure web-based email accounts.
Malaysia is proposing the setting up of the Global Cyber Security Alliance (GCSA) as the platform for member-countries to share information on cyber security.
Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili said the alliance would be opened to members of the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC), Asean Regional Forum and developed nations.
"The National Information Technology Council (NITC) is in the midst of preparing the Cabinet paper on the proposal.
"We are expecting it to be completed in three months," he told newsmen after attending the council's annual meeting at the Prime Minister's office here Tuesday.
The Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Communication (MCMC) has been asked to inculcate some discipline among local bloggers who are disseminating lies about the government and country's leaders.
Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Ahmad Maslan, who is also Umno Information Chief, said the MCMC should also take immediate action against those bloggers as lies and baseless allegations had been rampantly disseminated in the cyber world.
"We hope relevant authorities, like the MCMC, will be able to inculcate discipline among these bloggers. MCMC has to react," he said on Tuesday, Aug 23.
A Ministry of Finance Incorporated company, MRT Co, approved by the Cabinet on Wednesday, Aug 17, will assume project and asset owner of the Klang Valley MY Rapid Transit (KVMRT) project from Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd effective Sept 1.
It will focus on ensuring smooth implementation of the Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line.
The government is expected to appoint a Malaysian citizen as the chief executive Officer of MRT Co at a later date.
"The government is fully committed to the timely and cost-effective delivery of the Klang Valley MRT project, which will have tremendous spillover economic benefits," said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in a statement issued on Thursday by the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu).