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M’sians suffered RM5.2 billion in fire-related property losses last year

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Losses from property destruction due to fire in 2017 nationwide stand at RM5.2 billion a considerable increase from the RM2.9 billion recorded in 2016.

However, RM50.2 billion worth of property was saved from fire-related destruction in Malaysia last year, compared to RM35.8 billion in 2016.

Deputy director of the Fire and Rescue Department (operations, JPBM) Datuk Soiman Jahid said they received around 54,884 emergency calls related to fire incidents, including 2,393 special service calls.

He was speaking during the JPBM Service Awards for Excellence here today.

Also present was state director of the Fire and Rescue Department, Azlimin Mat Noor.

Soiman added that although the tally of losses shows an increase, the number of fires actually fell last year, indicating that the price of property and belongings destroyed was higher.

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/m-apos-sians-suffered-rm5-114651141.html

 

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Najib: 2018 will be a good year for Malaysia

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Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak says 2018 will be a year of success and impressive results for Malaysia.

Calling on civil servants to continue working as a team, the prime minister pledged to bring betterment and more progress to the country.

“If 2017 is the year of delivery, the aim is for 2018 to be a year were we see success and impressive results.

“I will work harder for the country and so will my deputy (Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi),” he said at the prime minister’s Department monthly assembly on Monday.

Najib said that with the help of civil servants, the government had managed to deliver its promises to the people and look after their well-being.

“We managed to fulfil 97 percent of the pledges that we made five years ago.

“I hope to continue to see this good working relationship and understanding between policy makers and the civil servants,” he said.

http://www.asiaone.com/malaysia/najib-2018-will-be-good-year-malaysia

 

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Najib says waiting for ‘ilham’ to decide best timing for GE14

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Prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today he is waiting for inspiration to decide the best time to dissolve Parliament and pave the way for the 14th general elections.

Najib who is also Umno president told a news conference after chairing the party’s supreme council meeting noted that there is still several months before the expiry of the mandate for the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.

“I am waiting for… I don’t know, I am waiting for some sort of spark, or ilham or something to decide when is the best timing,” he said, using the Malay word for “inspiration”.

“As long as we do it within the ambit of the Constitution, which is by June, where the Parliament will dissolve automatically. We may do it before June, or we may wait until June,” he added.

The chair of the 13-party BN also said the coalition has submitted a list of its electoral candidates to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to be vetted for their suitability.

“We are already committed to ensure the election system is clean and fair. All ministries and its agencies had too taken up the pledge,” he said.

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/najib-says-waiting-ilham-decide-best-timing-ge14-121100068.html

 

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Najib questions PPBM’s capability of replacing Umno

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Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) will never be able to replace Umno.

Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak said it was impossible for PPBM to lead the nation and shoulder the huge task when they could not even follow their own party constitution.

“PPBM has no regard for its own constitution.

“They don’t hold meetings at branch and division levels, so it is questionable as to how they choose the delegates for its annual general meeting,” he said.

The prime minister also chided PPBM’s chair and former premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for attempting to seek foreign support in case the outcome of the 14th general Election (GE14) does not favour the opposition.

He pointed out that the present electoral system is the one that had allowed Dr Mahathir to rule the nation for 22 years.

On January 25, Dr Mahathir met with ambassadors from 16 European Union member states.

The meeting had been criticised as inviting foreign interference in local affairs.

Najib said the meeting was to look for opportunities to create controversies and influence the people by implying that the electoral system was unfair.

He said the electoral system in the country now was the same system that had ensure the nation’s progress to this day.

“The system today is actually even more transparent than before. It is better.

“We have a polling agent, a counting agent, indelible ink system and more… thus chances for cheating is near to none.

“How can they say this election is unfair? The question is for the past 22 years why did he (Dr Mahathir) not complain about it?” Najib said during a press conference after the Umno Supreme Council meeting.

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/najib-questions-ppbm-apos-capability-135347184.html

 

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Why wait 22 years to complain about electoral system? Najib asks Dr M

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Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition he now chairs are revealing their desperation in their bid to take over the country’s government, prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today.

Najib who is the incumbent chair of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition said that it had become the “norm” for the federal Opposition alliance to seek foreign aid, but asserted that it was “strange” for them to complain about the very electoral system that had kept their new leader as the country’s longest-serving prime minister.

“We don’t see it as something out of the ordinary, but it is strange because the current system practised by the EC is the same system that placed Dr Mahathir as the prime minister for 22 years,” he told reporters, using the abbreviation for the Election Commission.

On January 25, Dr Mahathir and other PH top guns met with 17 European Union (EU) representatives.

“Their attempt to rope in foreign intervention is a norm… they are desperate as they do not have any chance in the country, so they need to use foreign powers to complain to in hopes that if the result later doesn’t favour them, they would be able to dispute it,” Najib added, referring to the recent meeting between PH leaders and EU envoys.

He suggested that the meeting was a tactic for PH leaders to cry for international intervention if it lost in the upcoming 14th general elections.

He also said that contrary to the Opposition’s claims of foul play, his administration has worked to reform the current system from the time Dr Mahathir led the BN government.

“Instead of saying election system in unfair, the question should be why was it for 22 years he did not complain of the same system?” Najib asked a news conference after chairing an Umno supreme council meeting here, referring to Dr Mahathir who was prime minister from 1981 to 2003.

Najib, who is also Umno president, dismissed the idea that the newly-formed Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) chaired by Dr Mahathir would be able to replace the role of Umno.

He then question PPBM’s management, saying the inability for its party leaders to abide by their own constitution reflects their incapacity to execute a bigger role.

“If we look from the principle of a party’s constitution, we have to abide by it. But I was informed that at their branch and division levels, they did not have any meetings. The next thing you know, they had an assembly at the national level.

“We do not know where their delegates came from, or how they were selected. Therefore the management of the party can be questioned based on their own constitution that were formed and approved by themselves,” Najib said.

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/why-wait-22-years-complain-electoral-system-najib-130700747.html

 

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Indonesia-Malaysia aviation market: rapid growth as AirAsia, Lion Group and Malaysia Airlines expand

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Indonesia-Malaysia is a large and dynamic market, with intense competition between the leading Southeast Asian airline groups AirAsia and Lion. The AirAsia Group and Lion Group combined have close to 550 weekly one-way flights from Indonesia to Malaysia, or nearly 80 per day, and account for 70 percent of total capacity.

AirAsia Group and Lion Group both added flights in the Indonesia-Malaysia market in 2017, driving a more than 20 percent increase in total Indonesia-Malaysia capacity. The market leader, AirAsia, grew at slightly less than 20 percent, and Lion Group grew at a more ambitious 40 percent, but on a much smaller base, as its Batik Air subsidiary entered the market with four routes.

Malaysia Airlines, the third largest player, also resumed expansion in 2017 by relaunching services to Surabaya. Malaysia Airlines is planning further expansion in the Indonesia-Malaysia market in 2018, as are AirAsia Group and Lion Group.

https://centreforaviation.com/insights/analysis/indonesia-malaysia-aviation-market-rapid-growth-as-airasia-lion-group-and-malaysia-airlines-expand-394205

 

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Malaysia is a strategic partner to France as proven by French Defence minister’s visit: Hishamuddin

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The visit by the French Defence minister to Malaysia after the country formed a new government is reflective of Kuala Lumpur’s importance to France’s as its strategic partner in the Asian region.

Defence minister Datuk Seri Hishammudin Hussein said his counterpart, Florence Parly’s first visit to Malaysia to attend the 4th Malaysia-France Defence Joint High Strategic Committee also served to reinforce the bilateral cooperation between Malaysia and France, especially in the areas of global security and defence.

Hishammuddin, who is also Special Functions minister in the prime minister’s Department, said the meeting also touched on the import ban on palm oil by the European Union (EU), where France pledged to assist Malaysia.

France, Hishammuddin said had made a commitment that it would not discriminate against oil palm-based products, despite the EU having voted to impose a ban on the commodity beginning 2021.

France is member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) member, and one of the founders of the EU.

Parly said the country may be one of EU’s founding members, but that it was also a partner to Malaysia.

She said France had its own stand on the issue, and that her government understood how important the oil palm industry was to the Malaysian economy.

“From the French perspective, it is easy. No alternative oil sources have been sidelined, so this shows that there is no discrimination against palm oil at the national or European level.

“Malaysia can rely on France (to aid Malaysia in the palm oil issue),” she said in a joint press conference with Hishammuddin after the meeting here, adding that France believed that the issue could be resolved through dialogues.

Earlier, Parly also met with prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and visited the Subang Royal Malaysian Air Force Base.

She said the ban was also one of the main issues she had discussed with the prime minister during their meeting.

Hishammuddin said France’s stand proved that the relationship between the two countries could help solve the palm oil issue.

“The palm oil industry is important to Malaysia as it involves 650,000 farmers, with more than 1.5 million involved in the entire chain of the sector,” he said.

It has been reported that a cabinet meeting chaired by Najib last week had agreed to review the country’s trade with the EU following the ban on palm oil products.

Last April, the EU Parliament voted to avoid the use of palm biofuels by 2020. On January 17, its Parliament voted to phase out palm biofuels from the EU energy mix after 2020, a decision seen as discriminatory against products from Asia.

Also present were Armed Forces chief general Tan Sri Raja Mohamed Affandi Raja Mohammed Noor and France Ambassador to Malaysia Frederic Laplanche.

Both countries also underscored the importance of their cooperation in areas including political strategies, military cooperation as well as training.

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/malaysia-strategic-partner-france-proven-143024462.html

 

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BN committed to ensuring clean and fair election, says Najib

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Barisan Nasional and Umno are committed to ensuring a clean and fair general election, said prime minister and Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

He said the party had already sent its list of election candidates to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) for vetting, and is awaiting the results.

‘We are committed. All government departments, agencies and ministries had done it (undertaken the Corruption Free Pledge or IBR),” he said.

The IBR is a recent initiative introduced by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to deter corruption misconduct.

Najib was speaking to reporters after chairing the party’s Supreme Council meeting at Menara Dato’ Onn, Putra World Trade Centre this afternoon.

Najib added that the nation’s electoral system is more transparent than ever before, as free and fair elections are ensured with polling agents, counting agents and the use of indelible ink, among others.

“The chance to cheat is almost non-existent.

“So how can they (the opposition) say the electoral system is unfair,” he said.

During the meeting, the party discussed its readiness for the 14th general Election (GE14).

Najib said preparations are moving swiftly at all party levels under the leadership of deputy prime minister and Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

“The level of readiness is at the optimum.

“We hope to maintain the momentum right up to the dissolution of Parliament,” he said.

When asked by a reporter on why he did not call for election despite an strengthening economy, Najib said he is still waiting for “inspiration”.

“I am waiting for some sort of spark, or ‘ilham’, to determine when is the best timing (to call for election).

“As long as we do things within the ambit of the Constitution, I think it is fine,” he said.

Najib noted that it could be until Junewhen Parliament will automatically dissolve itselfor earlier.

https://sg.news.yahoo.com/bn-committed-ensuring-clean-fair-135321802.html

 

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Can Mahathir’s party win Malaysia?

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PPBM seems to have made inroads among the young, but it will have to take on Umno in traditional Malay strongholds. Most importantly, it must manage its coalition partners.

A new political party, the Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), or the Malaysian United Indigenous Party, was launched just over a year ago, on January 14, 2017. It boasts, among its top three leaders, former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, former deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin and former Kedah chief minister Mukhriz Mahathir.

The party has positioned itself as a Malay party. In an era where opposition parties are generally racing to become colour-blind, PPBM’s ethnic-driven strategy has raised eyebrows.

Under Tun Dr Mahathir’s chairmanship, PPBM has moved quickly to establish itself across the Malaysian peninsula.It now has divisions in 137 out of the 165 parliamentary constituencies in Peninsular Malaysia. PPBM is deliberately staying out of Sabah and Sarawak in East Malaysia, acknowledging the rising sentiment of localism in the two states.

For a party that is just one year old, being able to cover more than 80 per cent of its targeted constituencies is no mean feat. This is recognised by its coalition partners in the opposition alliance Pakatan Harapan. When Pakatan announced the seat allocation for its component parties, PPBM was given the biggest share in Peninsular Malaysia with 52 seats.

The party is also attracting members, with the number of applications estimated at around 200,000. Of these, 55 per cent are below 35 years old, and for the majority, PPBM is their first party. This is impressive because the general assumption in Malaysia is that the young either reject ethnic-based politics or party politics altogether.

Almost all of the younger PPBM members I interviewed told me they joined the party because of Dr Mahathir. They were born in the early 1980s and for the first 22 years of their lives, he was prime minister. They were too young to understand the criticisms thrown at him at that time. But they saw modern infrastructure being built daily in a country that was enjoying respectable economic growth.

Thus for them, Dr Mahathir is a hero.

However, PPBM faces a major problem among female voters. This is a very important demographic group. About 50 per cent of registered voters are female, and almost all analyses show that Umno has a very strong influence on them. Umno, or the United Malays National Organisation, is the dominant party in the Barisan Nasional coalition now governing Malaysia.

This was reflected by a survey conducted in Johor last year by the ISEASYusof Ishak Institute. Only 17 per cent of female voters said they favour PPBM, while 44 per cent rejected the party outright and 39 per cent were unsure.

Another hurdle for PPBM is the fact that its main target audience, the Malay voters, is still heavily influenced by identity politics. The same survey by ISEASYusof Ishak Institute found that 85 per cent of Johor Malays are not in favour of the Chinese-majority Democratic Action Party (DAP), a partner of PPBM in Pakatan. From my interviews with Malay voters across Peninsular Malaysia, I found this sentiment prevalent outside Johor too.

There is a tendency among Malay voters to associate the rise of the DAP to the rising political clout of Malaysian Chinese, and by extension, the erosion of Malay political power. Thus, voting for any party that helps the DAP get into government is tantamount to jeopardising the Malays’ special position.

It will be tough for the PPBM to win over Malay voters when they contest with a Pakatan coalition that includes the DAP.

The wider environment is clearly challenging for PPBM. But Dr Mahathir at the age of 92 is steaming ahead with a schedule that can wear out even those less than half his age. He zigzags across the country, speaking at ceramah (talk) sessions almost every night, attracting hundreds, if not thousands, willing to stay until midnight to listen to him.

In terms of electoral strategy, PPBM leaders told me that they want other Pakatan component parties to acknowledge PPBM’s importance in winning the Malay votes. The opposition parties under former deputy prime minister Anwar Ibrahimwho was imprisoned for sodomy but has become an opposition leaderhad tried very hard to win Malay support but have reached a limit.

PPBM is offering a completely new push into the Malay heartland. For this vital contribution, it wants to be rewarded with a fair share of seats in places where the Pakatan coalition has a higher chance of winning, namely those with mixed-ethnic demographics. This is a big demand because among Pakatan parties, the expectation is for PPBM to contest in seats with a high Malay population since its raison d’etre is to replace Umno.

PPBM leaders, however, argue that Pakatan can win over mixed seats only if Malay voters in those areas are persuaded to its side, and that this will happen only if PPBM is present. Thus, if PPBM is the reason for Pakatan to win in mixed seats, its vital contribution must be reciprocated in the form of seats in mixed areas as well.

Seat allocation among Pakatan parties is therefore very important for PPBM’s longer-term survival.

So far, PPBM seems happy with the parliamentary seats that have been allocated to it. But the tussle for seat distribution at the state level is ongoing.

The route towards winning Putrajaya is paved with many challenges, even for the master politician. None of the polls is siding with Dr Mahathir at the moment. This will be an uphill battle for him.

But, typical of Dr Mahathir, one can expect that he will put up a brave fight and give it all that he has.

http://www.straitstimes.com/opinion/can-mahathirs-party-win-malaysia

 

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Malaysia’s general Election: The Battleground States

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The new general election will feature a localisation of electoral politics unseen in Malaysian political history.

With the Malaysian 14th general Election (GE14) set to be held by August this year, local pollsters like Merdeka centre and Politweet have been releasing results on the chances of the two main political coalitions, Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Harapan (PH), winning the coming election. Both of the polls, however, are focused on three-cornered fights that involved a third political force in Malaysian politics, the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS). In their surveys, the two polling agencies are confident that the three-pronged contests in the coming election will deliver victory to the ruling BN.

Generally speaking, these poll results are not wrong, but political scenarios at the grassroots level are bound to local factors that may not be reflected in the quantitative studies as done by national pollsters. We are seeing the significant rise of localisation of electoral politics in Malaysia today a phenomenon that started after the watershed election in 2008 and has accelerated in the run-up to the GE14 this year. There are two factors in this localisation process.

The first is the “Mahathir factor.” Dr Mahathir Mohamad was recently named as the opposition pact’s prime minister-designate, pitting him against the incumbent prime minister Najib Razak. Mahathir’s personal appeal to the northern state of Kedah is a huge impediment to the ruling coalition’s continuous rule in the state. Kedah has been Mahathir’s political base since his early days in politics in the 1950s. It is expected that he would bring his influence in Kedah with him into his new party, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), which eventually joined the opposition PH late last year.

Being the figure responsible for bringing development to the state during his prime ministership from 1981 to 2003, the prevailing sentiments for the former Malaysian leader among Kedah locals should not be overlooked. For one, the revelation that Mahathir would contest in one of the two constituencies in Kedah is poised to resonate with nostalgic feelings among the locals, especially the Malay voters who identify him as the “father of the state.” Even a delegate of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) admitted that the “Mahathir factor” has made it difficult for the main ruling party to mobilise locals in the state to support the BN coalition in the coming GE14.

Also, the interrupted chief ministership of his son, Mukhriz Mahathir, is another basis the opposition PH is using to draw sympathy from Kedah voters. With Mukhriz tipped to be the chief minister again if the coalition wins the state in the GE14, it is likely to capture the imagination of Kedah voters the return of his son to power is seen as a continuation of Mahathir’s legacy in the northern state. However, with Kedah voters changing two state governments in 2008 and 2013, the state itself is largely a marginal state to begin with.

The second important factor is the proliferation of former UMNO leaders who are now confronting the ruling party as influential opposition figures, following their fallouts with prime minister Najib on the 1MDB issue in 2016. Former deputy prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin, for example, is seeking to utilise his political base in the northern part of Johor state as a springboard to capture the state with his new political allies in the opposition alliance. Whilst prominent analyst Wan Saiful deemed such an endeavor as a difficult task, with a majority of Malay voters still pledging their future to the ruling UMNO in the state, the PH’s latest move is a demonstration of the localisation of electoral politics. Whether this will lead the opposition to take their targeted 15 parliamentary seats in Johor, which the ruling BN won marginally in the 2013 election, will depend on their relative capacities to outweigh each other through effective utilisation of local issues, native personality appeals, and robust campaigning in that particular state.

There is also the popularity of Shafie Apdal to consider. Shafie, another former UMNO leader, seeks to exploit his support base in the eastern part of Sabah to make momentous inroads in the East Malaysia state. But unlike other states in peninsular Malaysia, Sabah’s case is a classic example of how a local agenda can dominate electoral politics between the ruling BN and the innumerable local-based opposition parties. By fostering a single identity among Sabahans and pledging to restore the state’s long overdue special rights (through activation of the Malaysian Agreement 1963, should it come to power after the GE14), Shafie’s newly-formed Parti Warisan Sabah (Sabah Heritage Party) is giving an appealing localist option to locals, as opposed to the ruling BN and its national opposition counterparts. In all, Sabahan electoral politics display an exceptional presence of localist politics, unlike the states of Kedah and Johor.

Unlike the last two elections, the coming general election will feature a localisation of electoral politics unseen in Malaysian political history. This is made possible through the departures of the former prime minister and UMNO leaders whose political bases came from their respective states. The questions that remain are: How much will PAS be able to disperse the votes from the two main political coalitions in these three battleground states and become the “king-maker” that they espoused to be? And will the voters of these states choose differently between the state-level and the parliamentary-level? All these questions will be answered in the battle for localities between the two main political divides. The side that achieves the most relative gains in these three battleground states will emerge as the eventual winner.

https://thediplomat.com/2018/02/malaysias-general-election-the-battleground-states/

 

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