Government to ensure overall approach in urbanisation process


MO,13/2/2018, KUALA LUMPUR: The government will ensure an overall approach is taken in the policy making as a way forward for urbanisation in Malaysia. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said this was to ensure a sustainable urbanisation for the benefit of future generations which would become the citizens, managers, employers and policy makers. “It is too easy to forget that the urban problems that prevail today are a result of our inadequacies of yesterday and the only way to address prevailing urban issues is to act without delay today for a better tomorrow.

“If we want change for the better, we have to make them ourselves by not repeating mistakes of the past,” he said at the closing ceremony of the 9th World Urban Forum (WUF9) here, today. The text of his speech was read by Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Tan Sri Noh Omar. Also present were UN Habitat Executive Director Datuk Maimunah Mohd Shariff. Thus, Ahmad Zahid said the government was committed to enforce and implement the policies, strategies and action plans in Malaysia’s Development Policies and growth plans with the right government support of finance, coordination, manpower and machinery.

He said the government would also ensure the voices of the people were listened to and partnerships developed to have more effective actions and desired outcomes for the good of all. In addition, he said, Malaysia would prioritise on urban issues and climate change without compromising on rural equality, social cohesion and economic growth in all sectors. Malaysia will also strive to ensure that national public policies, urban, as well as regional plans, help to support economic growth while protecting natural and agricultural land use, he said.

“Malaysia will not be neglecting the rural areas even though the focus will be on cities and urban issues. The urban and the rural are increasingly inter-connected, rural areas have become places of consumption as leisure and recreation have become important functions of rural areas, he said. He said there were also indications that increased urbanisation could even lead to a stronger appreciation of green areas situated far beyond city limits.

Ahmad Zahid said Malaysia already had its economic planning and the national physical development, as well as the urban development frameworks, that supported sustainable development, growth and management of the cities. “To implement the strategies and programmes, we are strengthening the role of the local government as the third tier of government machinery, so that they are innovative, efficient and capable of collaborating and partnering with the community, the private sector as well as with organisations from other countries,” he added.

Visualising Malaysia in 2030, he said among others, the population would have reached about 36 million, the urbanisation rate would have increased to 80 per cent, the GDP at RM2.6 trillion, GDP per capita of more than RM117,000 and world trade would have exceeded USD44 trillion. WUF9 is being held from Feb 7 until 13. WUF is a non-legislative technical forum convened by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) since 2002.

It is recognised as the foremost global arena for interaction among policymakers, local government leaders, non-governmental organisations and expert practitioners in the field of sustainable urban development and human settlements.– BERNAMA

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King confident government can help people face uncertain global economy


MO,1/2/2018, KUALA LUMPUR: The Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Sultan Muhammad V, today expressed confidence that the government will be able to come up with new and innovative ways to help the people face the uncertain global economy. His Majesty said he was happy with the cooperation extended by the private sector and NGOs to the government to realise the development plans for the people. “As we all know, the global economy remains uncertain. This situation will surely have a direct impact on the people, especially those with low incomes,” he said at the investiture in conjunction with the 2018 Federal Territories Day at Istana Negara here.

The King also reminded the people of the importance of unity and expressed the hope that it would be strengthened. “For Malaysia, which aims to be among the top countries of the world in terms of the economy, the well-being of the people and social innovation through the National Transformation 2050, understanding and unity among the people of various races and religions should be well nurtured for the success of the nation,” he said. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor were also present at the event.

His Majesty reminded civil servants, as the backbone of the government administration, to prioritise integrity in carrying out their duties to ensure that all government plans and policies were implemented properly and effectively. He said it was hoped that the excellence of the Federal Territories administration could be continued as it set a model for Malaysia in general. The King also expressed gratitude to the many initiatives of the Federal Territories Ministry which had been and were being implemented for the well-being of the people in the federal territories.

He named some of the successful initiatives as the ‘Baiti Jannati’ programme to help repair houses and settle the housing loans taken by the hardcore poor, the ‘Kad Ceria’ discount card programme, use of biodegradable products, care for the homeless and management of water. “I congratulate the Federal Territories Ministry and all the people of the Federal Territories for outstanding achievement in 2017 both in terms of programmes for the people and governance of organisations.

“Insya-Allah (God willing), by continuing to use creative and comprehensive approaches, including people-centric ways and by going down to the ground for the benefit of society regardless of race, religion and ancestry, the Federal Territories retains excellence with the well-being of the people,” he said. A total of 370 people were conferred awards and medals in conjunction with the 2018 Federal Territories Day. Employees Provident Fund chairman Tan Sri Samsudin Osman was the sole recipient of the Seri Utama Mahkota Wilayah (SUMW) award which carries the title ‘Datuk Seri Utama’.

Twenty-two people received the Seri Mahkota Wilayah (SMW) award that carries the title ‘Datuk Seri’ while 69 received the Panglima Mahkota Wilayah (PMW) award that carries the title ‘Datuk’.Thirty-nine people were awarded the Johan Mahkota Wilayah (JMW); 71, the Kesatria Mahkota Wilayah (KMW); 74, the Ahli Mahkota Wilayah (AMW) and 94, the Pingat Pangkuan Mahkota Wilayah (PPW). –Bernama

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U.S. government shutdown fizzles out as Senate deal struck

WASHINGTON DC: U.S. senators struck a deal on Monday to lift a three-day government shutdown as Democrats agreed to end the standoff in exchange for President Donald Trump’s Republicans promising a debate on the future of young illegal immigrants.

Legislation to renew government funding easily won enough support in a vote in the Senate and was expected to pass the House of Representatives, allowing government to reopen through Feb 8.

Most Democratic lawmakers had initially opposed the funding bill, demanding that the Senate also approve protections for young undocumented immigrants known as “Dreamers.”

Democratic leaders – worried about being blamed for a disruptive shutdown – accepted a Republican promise to hold a full Senate debate over immigration and the 700,000 Dreamers who were brought to the United States illegally as children.

Trump’s negotiations with Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer collapsed on Friday into recriminations and fingerpointing and the deal to reopen the government was cut without him.

The Republican president took a new swipe at Democrats as he celebrated.

“I am pleased that Democrats in Congress have come to their senses,” Trump said in a statement. “We will make a long term deal on immigration if and only if it’s good for the country.”

Tens of thousands of federal workers had begun closing down operations for lack of funding on Monday, the first weekday since the shutdown, but essential services such as security and defense operations had continued.

The shutdown undercut Trump’s self-crafted image as a dealmaker who would repair the broken culture in Washington.

It forced Trump to cancel a weekend trip to his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida and created uncertainty around his scheduled trip this week to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

The U.S. government cannot fully operate without funding bills that are voted in Congress regularly. Washington has been hampered by frequent threats of a shutdown in recent years as the two parties fight over spending, immigration and other issues. The last U.S. government shutdown was in 2013.

Both sides in Washington had tried to blame each other for the shutdown. The White House on Saturday refused to negotiate on immigration issues until the government reopened.

On Monday, Trump met separately at the White House with Republican senators who have taken a harder line on immigration and with moderate Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Doug Jones.


Some liberal groups were infuriated by the decision to reopen the government.

“Today’s cave by Senate Democrats – led by weak-kneed, right-of-center Democrats – is why people don’t believe the Democratic Party stands for anything,” said Stephanie Taylor, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

Trump was expected to sign the legislation, which would give Congress more time to try to reach agreement on a long-term spending bill that would resolve issues including immigration, border security and spending caps.

Markets have absorbed the shutdown drama over the last week.

U.S. stocks advanced on Monday as each of Wall Street’s main indexes touched a record intraday level after the shutdown deal.

A bipartisan group of more than a dozen senators, led by Republican Susan Collins of Maine and Democrat Joe Manchin of West Virginia, crowded in front of an ornate 19th century clock in a hallway outside the Senate chamber to claim credit for the breakthrough and pledge their interest in overcoming partisan gridlock.

“This represents the first time in a long time that we’ll have the Senate actually functioning, working,” said Republican Senator Jeff Flake.

While there was optimism from Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer that an immigration bill to protect Dreamers and bolster border security can pass the Senate, it was not clear that the more conservative House would accept such legislation.

In 2013, the Senate passed a bipartisan, comprehensive immigration bill only to see the House, controlled by Republicans, refuse to act.

For Jovan Rodriguez of Brooklyn, a Dreamer whose family came from Mexico when he was three years old and ultimately settled in Texas, the latest development was more of the same.

“Why do we have to wait – again? It’s like our lives are suspended in limbo,” he said. And they have been for months. I don’t trust the Republicans and I don’t trust (Senate Majority Leader Mitch) McConnell with just a promise. That’s not good enough any more.”

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Penang government told to accept criticism to improve governance, not threaten to sue


MO,20/1/2018, GEORGE TOWN: DAP-led Penang government was told to practice openness and accept criticism from the people in order to improve its governance rather than threatening to take legal action. State Barisan Nasional chairman Teng Chang Yeow said the state government headed by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng should not assume that all its actions or decisions were right. This includes the decision by state government which agreed for land swap in Tanjong Pinang as payment for the studies involving the three paired roads project, which cost of RM208 million.

Till date, the land was still considered ‘nonexistent’ as reclamation of the land was yet to be completed. “As a politician, he must accept criticism and should not be suing everyone who does that. His act of scaring reporters for publishing news against him is not right at all. “Newsmen are only doing their job, so he must not intimidate them with legal action. If he cannot take the criticism, then he should return as an accountant. No one would want to criticise an accountant,” he said at a press conference today.

Earlier this week, Lim decided to sue four news outlets for publishing allegations by the state Barisan Nasional on issues relating to the proposed undersea tunnel and the three paired roads project. Teng has also initiated legal action against Lim over the same matter.

The controversial multi-billion ringgit undersea tunnel and the three paired roads project were now being investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC). The tunnel project had raised numerous controversies in recent months, especially the high cost of the RM305 million feasibility studies as well as the 21-month delay in completing it.

To date, the MACC has raided 42 locations including government agencies and consultant companies in Penang and the Klang Valley. The graft buster has also recorded statements from 76 witnesses. Meanwhile, Teng again questioned the method of allowing for a land swap deal as payment for the feasibility studies for the multi-billion project.

“Is this the land they agreed to swap? Where is the land? I can only see mud right now,” he said.


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U.S. government shutdown begins as spending bill fails in Senate

WASHINGTON: The U.S. government officially shut down at midnight on Friday after Democrats and Republicans failed to reach a last-minute deal to fund its operations, divided in a bitter dispute over immigration and border security.

In a dramatic late-night session, senators blocked a bill to extend government funding through Feb. 16. The bill needed 60 votes in the 100-member Senate but fell short with only 50 supporting it.

Most Democrats opposed the bill because their efforts to include protections for hundreds of thousands for the young immigrants known as Dreamers failed.

Huddled negotiations by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer in the last minutes before midnight were unsuccessful, and the U.S. government technically ran out of money at midnight.

The shutdown formally began on Saturday, the first anniversary of President Donald Trump’s inauguration.

Trump’s administration immediately sought to blame Democrats.

“Tonight, they put politics above our national security, military families, vulnerable children, and our country’s ability to serve all Americans,” the White House said in a statement.

The Trump administration said it would not discuss immigration until the government is up and running again. “When Democrats start paying our armed forces and first responders, we will reopen negotiations on immigration reform,” the statement said.

Until a funding deal is worked out, scores of federal agencies across the country will be unable to operate, and hundreds of thousands of “non-essential” federal workers will be put on temporary unpaid leave.

The Republican-controlled House of Representatives passed a stopgap funding measure on Thursday. But Republicans then needed the support of at least 10 Democrats to pass the bill in the Senate. While five Democrats ended up voting for the measure, five Republicans voted against it.

Democratic leaders demanded that the measure include protections from deportation for about 700,000 undocumented immigrants known as Dreamers who arrived in the United States as children.

Republicans refused to include those protections, and neither side was willing to back down. McConnell and Schumer insisted they were still committed to finding an agreement that restores government funding as soon as possible.

Trump, who had made strict measures on immigration a cornerstone of his presidential campaign, last week rejected a bipartisan proposal, saying he wanted to include any deal for Dreamers in a bigger legislative package that also boosts funding for a border wall and tighter security at the U.S. border with Mexico.

In a shutdown, “essential” employees who deal with public safety and national security would keep working. That includes more than 1.3 million people on active duty in the military who would be required to work but would not be paid until funding is renewed.

Although past government shutdowns have done little lasting damage to the U.S. economy, they can rattle financial markets.

The new shutdown could trigger a political battle between Democrats and Republicans over who is to blame.

It follows a months-long struggle in Congress to agree on government funding levels and the immigration issue.

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Penang BN tells state government to come clean on undersea tunnel project


MO,16/1/2018, GEORGE TOWN: Is the Penang government lying in relation to payments made for the proposed undersea tunnel project, Barisan Nasional asked. State BN chairman Teng Chang Yeow said Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng recently said the state government had not paid a single sen for the tunnel project but official documents proved otherwise.

Dishing out official documents from the state legislative assembly sitting on Nov 2 last year, Teng said the state government had disclosed then that it had paid RM11.2 million in cash to HSSI Sdn Bhd, a technical consultant appointed by the state government to review and certify the claims payment submitted by the contractor. “Is this not lying when the Penang government said not a single sen had been paid but only land swapped?

“Now, it seems that every single sen had been paid and land swapped at the expense of the people of Penang,” he told newsmen at the state Gerakan headquarters here this afternoon. Teng demanded the DAP-led administration to come clean and be truthful about the consultancy payment of a whopping RM11.2 million just for reviewing and certifying claims payment.

“Is this kind of payment not similar to those cases exposed by the Auditor General’s Report years ago of certain mismanagement, where a set of screwdrivers was bought for RM224.90 when the market price was reported at only RM32?” he asked. Teng said it was not possible for the state government to cry “separate payment” as any payment made formed part and parcel of the tunnel project.

Last week, Lim had told newsmen that the state government had not paid a single sen for the tunnel project so far. He had instead said that the state government had paid RM208 million for the completion of the environmental impact assessment (EIA) reports for the three paired roads, which is another component of the RM6.3 million mega infrastructure project.

He had also said that the payment for Consortium Zenith Construction Sdn Bhd was done through two land swaps, totalling 1.48ha, with a nett development cost of RM1,300 per sq ft. Referring to that, Teng said the state Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report, dated Oct 19, 2015 and tabled to the state legislative assembly, had clearly stated that the cost of conducting the EIA reports for the three paired roads would be borne by the contractor.

“Is this not another lie by the Penang government? So, in relation to the tunnel project, what has the state government been paying and how was it paid? “Please avoid lying because official documents proved otherwise. Stop the blatant lie and be competent, accountable and transparent to the people of Penang,” he said.

Teng said also raised the issue of the 20ha of land sold by the contractor to a subsidiary, although no work had started yet for the whole tunnel project. It was reported that on Jan 16, 2015, a subsidiary of the contractor signed a memorandum of agreement (MOA) to secure the rights to purchase 20ha of reclaimed land, valued at RM2.8 billion, from the contractor itself.

“First of all, why is this even allowed when works have yet to begin? Instead, the state government diverted the whole issue and said not a single sen had been paid so far for the tunnel project but land swapped. “Now, we are still awaiting the completion of the feasibility and detailed design studies, which have been delayed for more than 20 months.

“So, along the way, is there someone out there lying or is the Penang government lying? We demand to know the truth,” he noted, stressing that it was not for him to say whether the element of corruption was present along the way. He added that the matter was best left to the relevant authorities to investigate and bring to light. Teng also asserted that their scrutiny of the tunnel project was not indicative of them not supporting it, as alleged by the state government.

“Those are two different issues altogether. DAP has always been advocating democracy and we have every right to question them. Check and balance is very important in a democratic setting. “If not, why did they previously make a hue and cry over the Penang Outer Ring Road (PORR) project mooted by the previous BN-led administration? “We did not say they were not supportive then, even though they put a motion at the state legislative assembly sitting to defer the project.

“That is why we are saying the competent, accountable and transparent (CAT) administration advocated by the Penang government is no longer alive. CAT is dead and buried,” he said pointed out. The tunnel project had raised numerous controversies in recent months, especially on the high cost of the RM305 million feasibility studies as well as the 21-month delay in completing it.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has since initiated investigation into the issue, along with the land swap deal and the involvement of a fashion company in the controversial project. Two company officials, with the Datuk title, have been arrested to assist the MACC’s probe into the matter. The duo has since had their six-day remand order extended by another five days.


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State government will monitor safety of all roofed pedestrian walks following incident at Jalan Kampung Daik


MO,16/1/2018, KUALA TERENGGANU: The Kuala Terengganu City Council will monitor all roofed pedestrian walks in the city to ensure they can withstand the forces of nature, especially strong winds. Kuala Terengganu Mayor Samiun Salleh said the move was made following the damage to a over 60 metres long roofed pedestrian walk at Jalan Kampung Daik here, which collapsed due to strong winds on Jan 1.

Samiun said the council was instructed by Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman to repair the pedestrian walk within a month but took less than 15 days to complete it. “The total cost repairs was only RM6,000,” he told reporters after visiting the site of the incident at Jalan Kampung Daik near Pasar Besar Kedai Payang, here, today.

He said additional support pillars were added along the affected stretch and the pillars should be able to protect the structures from strong winds in the future. “With the facelift and upgrades, the pedestrian walk at the site is safe,” he said, adding that the roof collapsed after a year of the expiration of the warranty.

“The case is still under investigation by the task force. We will not hesitate to act if negligence had caused the collapse of the roof,” he added. On Jan 1, the roof of the pedestrian walk collapsed and the walkway was closed to facilitate investigations to determine the cause of the collapse.

The pedestrian walk was built at a cost of RM376,437, which was provided by the Housing and Local Government Ministry under the “Urban Wellbeing” programme and was opened in January


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Woman makes good in business with government aid: PM

COLOMBO, 19 Dis -- Perdana Menteri Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak semasa sidang media selepas berakhirnya lawatan rasmi pertama beliau ke Sri Lanka selama tiga hari berakhir hari ini, bagi meraikan hubungan diplomatik 60 tahun antara kedua-dua negara. --fotoBERNAMA (2017) HAK CIPTA TERPELIHARA

MO,13/1/2018, KUALA LUMPUR: The story of a woman who made good in business with government aid has been uploaded on the twitter and blog of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak last night.

Sharifah Dun said she lost her source of income when her husband lost his job at a factory during the economic downturn until their home was auctioned and car was repossessed.

“I did not give up and with only RM70 in my pockets, rice and food aid from Baitulmal, I set up a small nasi lemak business at Wangsa Maju LRT station.

“I spent two months saving a little bit of money, enough to pay for space in front of a restaurant in Kuala Lumpur. I then applied for aid from Tekun Nasional Fund and 1AZAM and from there I could rent a shop, buy kitchen equipment and hire a worker.”

Najib said Sharifah’s hard work is rewarded with daily income of between RM1,000 and RM2,000. Sharifah thanked the government for being caring and looking for ways to help the people improve their standard of living. She is among recipients of the Barisan Nasional (BN) government’s initiatives to improve the people’s livelihood. More than 100,000 people have benefited from 1AZAM.

About 2.26 million new jobs have been were created since 2010. The monthly income of 98 per cent of lower income households (B40) has also increased. 1AZAM comprises five programmes namely Azam Tani, Azam Niaga, Azam Khidmat, Azam Kerja and Azam Bandar, to generate and increase the income of those in the e-Kasih system. – Bernama

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Najib: Federal government debt not at critical level


MO,5/1/2018, KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak has reiterated that there is no truth to rumours that the federal government’s debt was at a critical level. He said there had been much confusion as well as slanderous allegations on the matter.

In his latest blog posting today he said that as of the end of June, 2017 the Federal Government’s debt stood at 50.9 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). He said this was still well below the prescribed 55 per cent limit set by the government.

As of June 2017, the debt was recorded at 50.9 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), which is lower than the 55 per cent level set by the government. Najib who is the Finance Minister said this showed that the Government’s current debt remains manageable, and was even lower from the 53.2 percent registered as of the end of June 2016.

“This is an achievement we should be proud of,” Najib said. The Prime Minister also said that Malaysia’s debt ratio against the GDP is better than some developed countries such as Singapore which stands at 112 per cent, United Kingdom’s at 89.3 per cent and Canada’s at 92.3 per cent.

Najib adds that Malaysia’s sound economic and financial position could also be seen from the backing received from international economic organisations such as the World bank which had projected a GDP growth of 5.2 for 2017, up from the previous projection of 4.9 per cent. “In fact, it does not make sense to say that we would be bankrupt when there are many countries willing to invest and enter into trade agreements with Malaysia.”

Najib said despite the challenges faced by the government from opposition slander which are hoping for Malaysia’s economy to be destroyed, the government will continue to seek solutions to strengthen the economy as well as putting the nation on par with other global economic powers.


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Trump signs tax government spending bills into law

WASHINGTON: U.S. President Donald Trump signed Republicans’ massive US$1.5 trillion tax overhaul into law on Friday, cementing the biggest legislative victory of his first year in office, and also approved a short-term spending bill that averts a possible government shutdown.

The two pieces of legislation represent Trump’s most significant accomplishment with Congress since taking office in January, as well as a sign of what awaits when he returns from his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida after the Christmas holiday.

The tax package, the largest such overhaul since the 1980s, slashes the corporate rate from 35 percent to 21 percent and temporarily reduces the tax burden for most individuals as well.

Democrats had opposed the bill as a giveaway to the wealthy that would add US$1.5 trillion to the US$20 trillion national debt during the next decade.

The spending bill extends federal funding through Jan 19, largely at current levels. It does nothing to resolve broader disputes over immigration, healthcare and military spending.

Republicans also are divided over whether to follow up their sweeping overhaul of the U.S. tax code with a dramatic restructuring of federal benefit programs.

House Speaker Paul Ryan has said he would like to revamp welfare and health programs but Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell told National Public Radio on Monday that he was not interested in cutting those programs without Democratic support.

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