KUALA LUMPUR: Less than 40 per cent of Malaysians have insurance protection. Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Shafie Apdal said this was because many did not realise that insurance not only provided protection but was also a form of savings. “This savings element can be used to meet future financial demands such as for education and family needs,” he said at the launch of the National Insurance Association of Malaysia’s whole life insurance policy “Bijak Malaysia”. The policy offers insurance coverage up to the age of 88 years against death as well as total and permanent disability due to natural and accidental causes. It will be sold by nine banks: Alliance, AmBank, CIMB, EON, Hong Leong, Maybank, OCBC, RHB and United Overseas. NIAM chairman Sonny Tan said: “Bijak Malaysia will be offered by the banks. “This is in line with the government’s effort to improve the insurance penetration rate through banks.” Bijak Malaysia’s policy offers four plans with RM100, RM200, RM300 and RM500 monthly premiums. Tan said: “Usually, insurance policies have a fixed sum assured but in this case, our premiums are fixed.” Since its soft launch in mid- June, total premium revenue for Bijak Malaysia was more than RM1.5 million from 2,000 policyholders. The two popular plans were the RM100 and RM200 plans. NIAM Bancassurance committee chairman Koh Heng Kong said they expected an annual premium revenue of RM50 million. The entry age for the policy is from 30 days to 53 years and policyholders will stop paying premiums after 55. On top of receiving the full sum assured upon maturity, there is a guaranteed cash payout every three years at five per cent of the sum.
BUKIT MERTAJAM: Just hours after abandoning a RM1 million sports car which he had driven away from a showroom, the thief is believed to have struck again. This time, he drove the same car out of the district police station compound, and just like in his previous attempt, he abandoned the vehicle. The Porsche 911 Targa 4 is back in the police station, this time under lock and key in one of the garages. But the incident has left Penang police stumped and red-faced as this attempt occurred right under their noses. Penang police chief Datuk Koh Hong Sun has ordered an investigation to ascertain how the suspect gained entry into the district police headquarters compound. Initial investigations revealed that the suspect got in by cutting the perimeter fence at the back of the police station. The suspect, police believe, had the car keys and came with a container of petrol. On Monday afternoon, after the suspect had stolen the car, it stalled two kilometres away as there was no petrol. The suspect abandoned the car but took the ignition key. The car was towed to the police station. At 11pm, the suspect returned for the car. After filling the petrol tank, he drove out slowly but when he reached the guardhouse, he almost ran over the sentry who tried to stop him. The sentry raised the alarm and police immediately mounted roadblocks. At least 10 patrol cars were involved in the hunt. The car was found abandoned in a secluded spot near Maktab Perguruan Tuanku Bainun, in Mengkuang, about 10km away. Police believe the suspect may have got cold feet when he realised that roadblocks had already been set up. Koh said police have lifted fingerprints from the car. Police have also distributed a photo-fit of the suspect and urged those with information to contact the nearest police station. The Porsche was stolen from a Naza Premier Auto Bhd showroom at Juru Autocity here about 1.30pm. The suspect went to the outlet on the pretext of buying the car. He took out a cheque book to pay the booking fee, but before that asked the saleswoman for the car key, saying that he wanted to hear the roar of the engine. The saleswoman obliged but to her horror, the suspect stepped on the accelerator and crashed through the glass panel before driving away. The suspect, however, was forced to abandon the car when it ran out of petrol not far from the showroom.
BUKIT MERTAJAM: The RM963,000 sports car that was stolen from a showroom here yesterday was stolen again – this time from right under the noses of the police. And police believe it was the same man who pulled it off again, because he had the car keys. The thief stole the Porsche 911 Targa 4 from the compound of the police headquarters here at 10.45pm yesterday. The car had been stolen from a showroom at Auto-City in Juru about nine hours earlier. Police recovered the car an hour near Maktab Tuanku Bainun in Mengkuang Titi, about 15km away. But this time, unlike in the first incident, the car had fuel. State police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Koh Hong Sun said disciplinary action would be taken against policemen who were found to be negligent in their duties. “We have the suspect’s fingerprints and are confident of arresting him soon,” he said after attending a ceremony for the transfer of 42 police personnel from the North Seberang Prai district to the Central Seberang Prai district at the police headquarters. In the first incident, the man, said to be smartly dressed man who flashed a cheque book, coolly asked for the key of the car, started it and sped off after crashing it through the showroom’s glass pane. Police recovered the car some 2km away, at Hujung Perusahaan Dua in Prai.
CHECK your facts before making statements, especially when they concern sensitive issues and could damage the country’s image and credibility. This advice was given by Deputy Internal Security Minister Datuk Johari Baharum to Federal CID director Datuk Christopher Wan Soo Kee following a statement by Wan that money from the sale of stolen cars was being used to fund terrorists and criminal activities. Johari said when such a subject was being touched, greater caution should be exercised. “It is better to issue statements which are based on facts, particularly in matters involving neighbouring countries,” he said. Johari met Wan at the ministry yesterday to hear his explanation on the statement. “He explained that he did not make such a statement and claimed his statement had been misinterpreted. I told him to be careful in future,” he said when met in the parliament lobby. The general rule, said Johari, was that police should be careful when issuing statements so as not to create public unease. “They should not comment on things of which they are not certain, especially those which can create misunderstanding internationally,” he added. Last Monday, Datuk Bung Moktar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan) sought a clarification from Johari over Wan’s statement. “Is this true or is it an assumption on his part? It is serious and will have an impact on the country’s image,” he said. Bukit Aman public relations officer Superintendent Rasdi Ramli clarified that Wan’s remarks at the opening of a conference on smuggled vehicles in Cheras had been misinterpreted.
KUALA LUMPUR: A syndicate is smuggling stolen Malaysian cars to Batam and the Malaysian police are working with their Indonesian counterparts to track it down. Federal CID director Comm Datuk Christopher Wan Soo Kee confirmed the existence of such a syndicate. “We will contact the Indonesian police to gain more information and to assist them if possible,” he said yesterday. He was asked about reports that six Malaysians had been arrested on Batam by Indonesian police in the biggest seizure of stolen cars from Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. The reports quoted Riau Island police criminal investigations chief Senior Commissioner Basaria Panjaitan as saying that the Malaysians were arrested together with three Indonesians. More than 40 vehicles, which had been reported stolen as far north as Penang, were recovered from a Batam warehouse during the bust. Panjaitan said members of the syndicate would drive the stolen cars from Johor to Tuas Second Link to Singapore and into waiting containers at Jurong Port. “The cars were falsely declared in Customs papers as legal goods and left Jurong Port for Batam’s Batu Ampar port,” he added.
KUALA LUMPUR — Federal CID director Datuk Christopher Wan Soo Kee will be summoned for an explanation on his statement that syndicates are stealing cars to fund terrorism, Deputy Internal Security Minister Datuk Mohd Johari Baharom said Tuesday. “I will ask him to explain his statement,” he said when replying to a supplementary question from Datuk Bung Mokhtar Radin (BN-Kinabatangan) during question time in the Dewan Rakyat Tuesday. Bung expressed concern that Wan’s statement could mar Malaysia’s image. Wan had said yesterday an average of 980 cars are stolen every month nationwide and that most of the cars would be taken across the border for sale, with the proceeds used to fund terrorism and criminal activities in some countries. He had said vehicle theft had turned into a lucrative business and syndicates, which were usually well organised, made hefty profits running into the millions from the illegal trade.
KUALA LUMPUR: An average of 980 cars are stolen every month nationwide. Federal CID director Datuk Christopher Wan Soo Kee said most of the cars would be taken across the border for sale, with the proceeds used to fund terrorism and criminal activities in some countries. He said vehicle theft had turned into a lucrative business and syndicates, which were usually well organised, made hefty profits running into the millions from the illegal trade. Interpol’s database for stolen vehicles, started four years ago, contains records of more than 2.5 million stolen vehicles from 59 countries. “Between January and May this year, 4,907 cars were reported stolen nationwide, an increase of 11.5 per cent compared to the same period last year. “This number is part of the three million vehicles stolen from countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and North America every year, worth an estimated US$21 billion (RM72 billion). “Such huge profits can be used by criminal organisations to strengthen their activities and support terrorism, while destabilising developing nations at the same time,” Wan said after opening the first regional joint course on smuggling stolen vehicles at the police college in Cheras. The two-week course will be attended by 29 Malaysian and Thai police officers. Wan said among the car makes favoured by syndicates here were Mercedes Benz, BMW, Honda and four-wheel-drive vehicles like the Toyota Hilux. He said it was hoped that course participants would study tactics used by syndicates and share knowledge and expertise in combating the menace together.
KUALA LUMPUR: Luxury vehicles stolen in Malaysia are being smuggled overseas for sale to fund terrorist and criminal organisations. Describing the theft and smuggling of vehicles as a worldwide phenomenon, Federal CID Director Datuk Christopher Wan Soo Kee said proceeds from ill-gotten gains might be used to support and strengthen criminal or terrorist organisations. “At the same, time, it destabilises developing nations. There is (thus) a need to understand the tactics and strategies practised by the syndicates as it would help the police perform and instigate a better alternative in battling the crime. “Trafficking and smuggling of stolen vehicles are mainly the work of structured and sophisticated global criminal groups,” he told reporters yesterday. Between January and May this year, 4,907 luxury vehicles were reported stolen in the country for this purpose, an increase of 11.5% compared to the same period last year. These vehicles make up part of the three million stolen in Asia, Africa, Europe and North America annual- ly, worth an estimated US$21bil (RM72bil). Earlier, Wan opened the First Regional Joint Course on Smuggling Stolen Vehicles involving the Malaysian and Thai police at the Royal Malaysia Police College here. Twenty-nine participants are attending the two-week course. Wan said the Asean region was being used as a transit point to smuggle stolen luxury vehicles, and violence was used as part of the modus operandi to steal luxury cars and smuggle them overseas. Wan said there was a need to enhance bilateral strategies, expertise and information in combating vehicle thefts.
KUALA LUMPUR — Proton and Perodua vendors told the government today that voluntary scrapping of motor vehicles more than 15 years old in return for RM5,000 rebates when buying new national cars can have a spin off effect on the automotive industry. “Increased sales of new motor vehicles, especially Proton and Perodua cars, will lead to an increase in demand of parts and components produced by Malaysian vendors,” said Kelab Vendor Perodua and Proton Vendors Association. It will also help bring down costs, improve quality and delivery, they contended. “(Hence), the scrapping (should) start with immediate effect to improve effectiveness and generate demand for new motor vehicles,” they said in a joint memorandum to the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI) at the ministry’s annual dialogue session here. They also proposed a supporting policy to go with the scrapping proposal – allow the export of used national cars with a rebate on excise duties paid. “The vacuum created from the exports will generate sales for new or newer cars. It also helps in resolving the excess stock of used cars,” they argued. The associations said the policy to end the life of vehicles is critical for continued growth and sustenance of the Malaysian automotive industry. They pointed out that Japan de-registers about five million vehicles yearly. In 2005, it discarded about six million and registered 6.5 million new vehicles, thus ensuring a continued market demand for new vehicles. The associations also proposed that the government provide some form of support to efforts to introduce the Malaysian brand in selected overseas markets.
KUALA LUMPUR — The government has no intention of allowing ordinary workshops to conduct vehicle inspection, a job currently being carried out by the Computerised Vehicle Inspection Centre (Puspakom). Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Azlan Sultan Abu Bakar said Puspakom was still capable of handling its responsibility despite having to deal with increasing workload following the enforcement of a new regulation on the transfer of vehicle ownership. The new ruling requires vehicles to be sent for inspection before the transfer process can be done. “The government is satisfied with the performance of Puspakom, and so far it has no plans to allow other parties to perform vehicle inspection,” he said when responding to a supplementary question from Fong Kui Lun (DAP-Bukit Bintang) at the Dewan Rakyat here today. Tengku Azlan said Puspakom was capable of handling at least 5.2 million inspections a year but only 2.6 million vehicles were sent for checks annually. To an original question from Teng Boon Soon (BN-Tebrau), Tengku Azlan said the government had taken steps to reduce the waiting period for vehicle inspection by increasing the number of Puspakom branches to 64 from 31 previously. “Thirty of the branches will operate until 8pm and those in Wangsa Maju, Padang Jawa, Johor Baharu and Mak Mandin will also open on Saturdays,” he added. On private vehicles sent for inspection for financing purposes, he said it was found that more than 11,000 of the 880,000 vehicles checked had been modified, including having different chassis and engine numbers. Puspakom also has to deal with illegal cut-and-join vehicles, he said.
KUANTAN: The ruling compelling all second-hand private vehicles to undergo mandatory Puspakom inspection before the transfer of ownership will take effect today. Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said there would not be any deferment as Puspakom had given assurances that it was ready for the task. “Puspakom has the capacity to conduct inspections on some two million private vehicles a year,” he said yesterday. “At present, only about one million vehicles are utilising its services. “As such, we do not foresee any major problems but will monitor the development closely,” he told reporters after opening the state MCA elections training camp at Wisma MCA here. In May, the Cabinet approved the ruling in a move to address the increasing numbers of “cut-and-join” cars (kereta potong) on the road. The move is also aimed at protecting the interest of car buyers and to ensure that only roadworthy vehicles are allowed on the road. Chan said Puspakom expected a 25% increase in cars to be inspected at all its branches, at a cost of RM30 per vehicle. He said vehicles which received the certification from Puspakom could proceed with the transfer of ownership within two weeks. Among others, Puspakom checks will involve identifying the chassis and engine numbers, seating capacity, car model, year of manufacture, colour and the level of tint. At present, only commercial vehicles are required to undergo compulsory checks at Puspakom branches every six months. On allegations that Puspakom officials were on the take to approve an inspection, Chan said there must be evidence to support the matter. “I urge the parties involved to furnish me with proof and I will see to it personally and take stern action,” he added. On a proposal to ban vehicles over 15 years old from running on the roads, Chan said his ministry was still studying the matter. He also commended the police for setting up 16 watchtowers at accident-prone stretches nationwide.
PETALING JAYA: Malaysian Assurance Alliance Bhd (MAA Assurance) and AmAssurance Bhd are believed to be raising their motor insurance premiums, citing high claims, declining car value and a surge in labour costs. It is learnt that the two large insurers have already sent circulars to their respective agents informing them of the higher loading on motor premiums. Sources told StarBiz that the revised loading would take effect at MAA Assurance by end-June and at AmAssurance next month. A higher loading meant increased motor premiums. AmAssurance, where privately owned cars compose more than 90% of the portfolio, has not previously imposed any comprehensive loading but has done so for third-party coverage about six months ago. As for MAA Assurance, it imposed loading on commercial vehicles and third-party motor coverage at the start of the year. The loading structure now comprises comprehensive and third-party coverage with a fixed ceiling attached. Currently, the two players each command close to 15% of the local motor insurance market. Among the motor insurance players, Kurnia Insurans (M) Bhd is the largest with about 30% market share. Sources said the planned increase in loading would be in line with the current practices of insurance companies, which is based on the age of the vehicle, age of driver and claims history. An official at Kurnia said the company was still studying the matter and assessing the market before deciding on the premium loading. He did not give further details. The official said Kurnia’s third-party premium loading came into effect on June 1. For comprehensive loading, the most recent hike was about two years ago but it was not across the board. “We expect other insurance companies with significant motor portfolios to raise premiums in the next few months. According to Bank Negara statistics, the claims ratio in the motor business last year exceeded 71%. “If one were to add distribution costs and administrative expenses, the combined ratio on motor business would exceed 95%, hence leaving very little margin for insurance companies,” a source said. An insurance company official said his firm was looking at imposing higher comprehensive loading, based on its claims experience. “Motor claims ratio at the company increased to 75% in March 2007 from 66% in March 2006. We also feel that most of the other players in the industry are suffering the same fate. “The company’s high claims ratio is largely due to the increase in the frequency of accidents and severity of claims cost per accident, particularly involving younger drivers. “The situation has been made worse by the drop in the market value of cars and the increase in labour costs,” the official said. An MAA Assurance official said because of increased auto theft cases and poor car sales values, individual companies may impose higher loading. “It is estimated that close to 25% of MAA Assurance’s auto claims comprise theft and we foresee higher motor premiums, moving forward,” he noted.
PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court has dismissed CGU Insurance Bhd’s application for a stay of execution to pay out a claim of RM30mil pending its application for a review of the payment order. CGU Insurance is seeking a review of the Federal Court’s decision that the insurance company was wrong to cite fraud as its reason to reject the RM30mil claim made by a paper mill which was destroyed in a fire 18 years ago. Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Justice Richard Malanjum and Federal Court Justices Nik Hashim Nik Ab Rahman and Hashim Mohd Yusoff unanimously rejected CGU Insurance’s application. CGU Insurance, now Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance (M) Bhd, filed an application to the Federal Court to review its earlier decision and also an application for a stay of execution of the judgment sum pending the review. On Feb 2, the Federal Court reversed the Court of Appeal’s decision and affirmed the High Court order that CGU Insurance Bhd – formerly known as Commercial Union Assurance (M) Bhd – pay RM16,124,500 in fire insurance claims to Asean Security Paper Mills for property destroyed in a fire in 1989. Justice Datuk P.S. Gill, who was then the High Court judge, also ordered Commercial Union Assurance to pay Asean Security Paper Mills interest at 8% from the date of the filing of the writ on Sept 11, 1990. The fire at Kampung Acheh Industrial Estate in Sitiawan, Perak, on Sept 11, 1989, destroyed property worth RM32mil.
PUTRAJAYA — As Malaysia marches towards 2020, it is expected to face serious challenges relating to flood and drought management, Drainage and Irrigation Department Director-General Datuk Dr Keizrul Abdullah said here Thursday. “Per capita availablity of water will greatly decrease as a result of the growing population and greater per capita use of water for a better quality of life, urbanisation and industrialisation,” he said. Other potential problems to be faced by the nation in moving towards a developed state status include increased severity and frequency of flash floods, prolonged droughts especially during El-Nino years, water and land use conflicts, decreasing crop yeild and increasing water demand for food production, pollution control, outbreaks of water borne diseases, declining aquatic biodiversity, deforestation and uncontrolled erosion and sedimentation. In a paper presented at the two-day National Seminar on Socio-Economic Impact of Extreme Weather and Climate Change here, Keizrul said flooding was the most significant natural hazard in the country in terms of population affected, frequency, area extent, flood duration and socio economic damage. “Having 189 river basins throughout Malaysia, the rivers and their corridors of flood plains fulfil a variety of functions both for human use and for the natural ecosystem where they are a fundamental part of the natural, economic and social system. At the same time, rivers might be the largest threat to the entire coridor areas,” he warned. On drought, the director-general said with Malaysia situated within the heavy rainfall region, the possibility of a serious drought is much less as compared to many other countries. However, he said when drought occurs, haze is often a major issue which causes health problems, limiting visiblity and deterring tourists and “hence, the management of drought needs to minimise the environmental impact of haze”. Apart from these two problems, Keizrul said there were also indirect problems associated with flood and drought management such as the need for appropriate institutions and legislation. He said under the country’s Constitution, matters pertaining to water, rivers, land and forest were under the jurisdiction of state governments while the gazetting of catchment areas was under the purview of the federal governmment. “Presently, the need for gazetting of catchment areas that have been initiated by federal agencies do not always get the same level of support from state agencies. This may be partly due to the fact that the water catchment areas are providing state governments with much of their state revenue for other uses such as timber logging and industrial or township development. “This situation will complicate flood and drought management in the country. To complicate matters, irrigation and drainage, including flood control, is a concurrent responsiblity of both federal and state government,” he added. He suggested that development of policies, strategies and action plans to overcome flood and drought be based on a comprehensive approach taking into account a wide range of mitigating factors.
KUALA LUMPUR — The Pan Malaysian Lorry Owners Association (PMLOA) is disappointed that the Computerised Vehicle Examination Centre (Puspakom) has been allowed to increase its inspection fees from July 1, said its president Er Sui See. Last week, the Government gave Puspakom the go ahead to increase compulsory bi-annual inspection fees by RM15 to check commercial vehicles roadworthiness. Apart from that, Puspakom has also been given the approval to introduce new rates for initial inspection, re-inspection and special private and commercial inspections. However, Er claimed that the increase worked out to more than RM15 for bi-annual inspection of trailers. “Its like a bomb to us. As an example, currently we have to pay RM100 for trailer inspection. With the new rate, we will have to pay RM165,” he told Bernama today. Er said Puspakom, which has been given the sole concession by the government to carry out the mandatory commercial vehicle inspections, should improve its services first before being allowed to increase fees. “Our lorries have to wait hours on end to be inspected. Other than that, Puspakom’s computerized system is not linked to the Road Transport Department (JPJ), contrary to what it claims,” he said, adding that the association, which had a membership of about 10,000 and responsible for some 100,000 lorries, wanted the government to reconsider its decision. Puspakom chief executive officer Datuk Salamat Wahid in an immediate response, said the company’s concession agreement signed in Sept 1994 allowed a first review of rates after five years of operation and subsequently every three years after that. However, Puspakom had not increased the rates since then (1994) and was only allowed to do so now, he said. “Originally we only needed to provide 31 branches throughout the country but due to social commitment to rural areas such as the East Coast, Sabah and Sarawak, we have a total of 64 branches now. “Some branches are not commercially viable but at the same time, we have to acquire and maintain equipment from overseas, which makes us incur higher costs but necessary to comply with advanced inspection standards,” he said. Salamat also said Puspakom only charged RM60 for routine checks on trailers and that the new rate would be RM75. He added that with the increase, the public could expect better service from Puspakom as it would be upgrading its computer systems, adding branches and providing more inspection facilities, especially at the busy centres of Wangsa Maju here, Padang Jawa in Selangor and Johor Bahru. JPJ director-general Datuk Ahmad Mustapha Abdul Rashid when announcing the increase last week had said the hike was unavoidable due to escalating operational costs such as for utilities, manpower and foreign exchange borne by Puspakom to run its services. Taxis, buses, lorries and other commercial vehicles will be most affected by the hike as bi-annual inspections are compulsory for them.
PETALING JAYA: The Minority Shareholder Watchdog Group (MSWG) yesterday reminded company directors that “the buck does stop with you” and as such, they should not be pointing fingers at others when the corporate governance team performs badly. In a statement, MSWG chief executive officer Abdul Wahab Jaafar Sidek urged directors without the skills to seek training or professional advice, and to always remember that “you set the tone for ethics and integrity”. He also reminded auditors that nothing material should slip past them unless there was “extensive collusion to hide fraud” and they must think independently of management and “owners”. He said minority shareholders, like everyone else, had been appalled by the recent wave of corporate governance and accounting irregularities, and questioning what went wrong. While MSWG commended Bursa Malaysia for putting good rules in place, it also said enforcement was necessary for compliance. Wahab suggested that Bursa go out into the field and check a few small and medium companies each year, and publish its reports and recommendations on its website. He also urged Bursa to “close the loopholes in its rules” as its relaxations had been abused. “There should be no more non-executive directors on the audit committee and at least one real accountant should sit on the audit committee to understand the accounts,” he said, adding that Bursa could re-consider mandatory regular training for non-executive directors. Meanwhile, analysts are advised to read companies’ annual reports and educate themselves on the importance of corporate governance. Malaysian Institute of Accountants, which has the right to regulate and punish accountants and auditors, should exercise that right. Wahab also reminded minority shareholders they were not powerless and had a right to answers. For instance, they could contact the named senior independent non-executive director at any time or question the audit committee chairman directly at the AGM. He also said MSWG was pleased that the Securities Commission had shown its seriousness in policing the market, but would like to see more speedy and punitive measures taken against perpetrators.
KUALA LUMPUR — The business community at Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Jalan Masjid India and Jalan Lebuh Ampang lost a whopping RM50 million in Sunday’s flash floods. Ramesh Kodammal, vice-president of the Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said about 200 business premises were closed for three days after the flash floods. Shops selling textile, jewellery, sundry goods, books and magazines were badly affected in the three-hour downpour, he told reporters. Ramesh claimed nothing was done to mitigate the flooding problem despite submitting several memoranda to the Kuala Lumpur City Hall. He hoped the situation would improve with Malaysia celebrating its 50th year of independence this year. Meanwhile, one of the affected shopowners Rasul Abdul Razak, who owns the popular Abdul Razak Jewellery, said 44 shops along Lebuh Ampang lost RM10 million in the floods. He said they did not have enough time to move their merchandise as the water was rising fast. “Within 20 minutes, the water rose to 4 feet (1.2m),” he said, adding that the government and Kuala Lumpur City Hall must take appropriate measures to address the flash floods. The heavy downpour wreaked havoc, bringing Kuala Lumpur to a virtual standstill, with roads and business premises submerged in floodwaters. This prompted Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to visit the Kuala Lumpur City Hall flood operations centre for a briefing on the causes of the frequent flash floods and progress of the flood mitigation projects in the federal capital.
AN estimated seven million people in Malaysia could be affected if the country were to be hit by an influenza pandemic. Between 2% and 22% of those affected would require hospitalisation and at least 5,000 patients would be admitted to the intensive care unit of hospitals nationwide. This is based on facts given by the World Health Organisation (WHO), which set the attack rate of the pandemic at 30% and by the current population of 26 million. Health Ministry disease control division director Datuk Dr Hassan Abdul Rahman said yesterday the burden on the country would be high and it was important to have the necessary preparations to meet the challenge of a rapidly spreading pandemic. “The healthcare system will be overloaded,” he said during his presentation at the Pandemic Human Influenza/Avian preparedness within the Organisation of Islamic Conference seminar. The conference will be opened by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi today. Dr Hassan also said that there was a 90% chance that the pandemic would start in Asia but only 10% of anti-viral drugs and vaccines would be available to the region, while the bulk would be available for the developed world. Malaysia had launched its National Influenza Pandemic Preparation Plan in January last year where among its functions was to have proper public health preparations, surveillance, vaccination and standard operative procedures. Later when talking to the press, Dr Hassan said that the private sector would be involved in simulation exercises carried out by the ministry, and expressed confidence that the country would be able to handle a pandemic with the preparedness plan, stockpiling of drugs and hospitals.
PETALING JAYA: Local travellers will soon be able to get tour fare protection under a new insurance scheme endorsed by the Tourism Ministry. This comes about five weeks after a tour company, Excellence Holidays Sdn Bhd, went bust, causing 336 travellers to lose RM2.4mil in total. Those instrumental in creating the new scheme said the tour fare protection would cover travellers against services not rendered. “This is not coverage against a company going bust. It will cover the traveller for up to RM10,000 if the tour package is not carried out for whatever reason,” said a source. Apart from the tour fare protection, the scheme – which will cost RM15 per person – would also provide insurance against accidental death and permanent disablement (RM25,000), medical expenses (RM5,000), outpatient treatment (RM1,000), repatriation (RM15,000) and personal liability (RM100,000). “The amount of coverage for the other components is not as high as other insurance packages but travellers are free to top up with any other travel insurance on offer,” the source said. It is understood that the scheme is targeted to be implemented by July 1, initially syndicated across four insurance companies. “We are proposing to make it mandatory for all tour agents, upon registering or renewal of licence, to participate in this with the insurance premium rolled into the cost of the tour package,” the source said. The source said the scheme was urgently needed with the rising negative perception and low confidence level of the travelling community towards the travel industry after the Excellence Holidays episode. “There is also the increasing frequency of accidents happening to Malaysians travelling overseas.” The insurance scheme, based on a proposal presented by Tahan Insurance (M) Berhad, would be managed via a joint venture between a private company, Timeless Vacation Sdn Bhd, and a wholly owned subsidiary company of the Tourism Ministry, Pempena Sdn Bhd. Apart from protecting outbound travellers, the scheme would also protect foreign inbound travellers in the same manner with the insured amounts being slightly higher and the premium at US$15 (RM52). Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agencies president Ngiam Foon welcomed the move, as it was good for the industry. However, he said the association would launch its own package that would also have tour fare protection, on June 19. It was also reported that AXA Affin General Insurance Bhd has been providing cover for loss of deposit or payment made to travel agencies from June 1 with its SmartTraveller policy.
KUALA LUMPUR — Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan today cautioned on the danger of maritime terrorism in the Straits of Melaka, which if left unchecked, could lead to chaos and destruction in the busy waterway. He gave one scenario where a ship could be used as a weapon for a suicide mission, in the manner of the World Trade Centre and Pentagon attacks. “If terrorists were to commandeer a ship transporting LPG (Liquified Petroleum Gas) for a suicide mission in the strait, such an act would devastate southeast asia’s economic environment and severely disrupt trade. “Significant impediments to the flow of oil would be a direct threat to the national security of countries that are highly dependent on it, particularly Japan and South Korea. “It would mean re-routing vessels, which would lead to the sky-rocketing of freight and insurance rates, which in turn will have a devastating global economic impact. “Thus, it must be kept open and safe, and the prime responsibility for this is with the three littoral states of Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia,” said Musa. He was making a keynote presentation entitled ‘Overcoming the Challenges of Piracy in the Malacca Straits – Issues and Solutions’ at the 6th Tri-annual International Maritime Bureau Meeting on piracy and maritime security here today. On piracy incidents there, he said only one case was reported since January this year. Between January and December last year, 83 cases were reported in regional waters. Overall the number of maritime piracy attacks had reduced since 2001. Between 2001 and 2003, Musa said there were 476 actual and attempted attacks while the number reduced to 260 cases between 2004 and 2005. Maritime terrorism, Musa said, comprised three forms which were of particular concern. They are: I. An attack on an individual ship II. The hijacking of a ship carrying dangerous materials, and; III. The use of ship as a weapon to attack port or land facilities. Musa also spoke about a “criminal phenomenon” involving the extortion of fishermen in the strait. He said the Malaysian Fisheries Department had reported that fishermen were forced to pay a monthly “ransom” to pirates, if they wanted to continue fishing. “Although the problem is limited to certain areas in the strait, it is becoming rampant. “Upon the payment of the “ransom”, the fishermen will be given ‘safe fishing certification’. “Without such certification, they would not be allowed to fish and their boats seized,” added Musa. On the East Asean Emergency System (EAES), the IGP urged police in each Asean country to obtain information and data on terrorism and piracy from the system, to find solutions to improve maritime security in the region.
BUTTERWORTH — About 30 per cent of 1.92 million foreign workers in the country, especially those working at mamak restaurants, were not insured by their employers. Deputy Human Resources Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Bakar who disclosed this Tuesday, said most of the employers claimed that they need not take out insurance for their foreign workers because they had paid levies before they came here. “That’s insurance coverage bought in their home countries and it’s not valid in Malaysia,” he told reporters at a function held by the Social Security Organisation (Socso) here. He said the employers should buy insurance for their foreign workers from the 24 companies appointed by the government for their benefit in times of death or accident at the work place. The ruling had been enforced since 1992, he said and added the benefits were similar to those enjoyed by private sector employees aimed at safeguarding their welfare as they too were an asset to the country’s economic development.
KUALA LUMPUR — Colorectal cancer has taken over from lung cancer as the number one killer for men in this country last year, according to Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek. He said colorectal cancer accounted for almost 14.2 per cent of all cancer suffered by men and the third most common cancer among women, that is 10.1 per cent of all the cancer suffered by women referred to government hospitals. “The prevalence and percentage of colorectal cancer patients is increasing each year and the risk is higher for those aged 50 and above,” he said when officiating the Malaysian Society of Gastrointestinal Diseases (MESSAGED), here Monday. Colorectal cancer is now the most common gastrousus ailment, followed by cancer of the stomach and liver cancer. According to the 2006 Annual Report of the Sub-system Medical Treatment, gastrousus diseases formed the seventh highest admissions of patients to government hospitals, totalling 98,955 cases.
KUALA LUMPUR — The private sector is urged to put in place a contigency plan to face any potential Bird Flu pandemic, Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said. He said although the government was fully prepared, private sector awareness towards this disease was still low as they were unaware of the seriousness of its impact, should the disease hit any country in the region. “What we do not have is the cooperation from the private sector. They are not fully aware of the risks. “We hope the private sector in Malaysia would put in place the contingency plan in the event of a pandemic avian influenza hitting Malaysia,” he told reporters after officiating the Malaysian Society of Gastrointestinal Diseases here, Monday. He said the Ministry had recently conducted a briefing with representatives from various business organisations on the urgent need to set up an action plan in case of a birdflu pandemic. On the update of the birdflu outbreak in the country, Dr Chua said all the four patients admitted to hospitals following contact with dead chickens were tested negative for birdflu. He added that the flock of chicken which were suspected to have died of birdflu in Kuala Terengganu last Saturday were also tested H5N1 negative. “In Sungai Buloh, we have not detected any case of human bird flu. The four patients admitted will be allowed to go back if their fever drops today and returns to normal. “This is another good sign in Malaysia. Every time they see dead chicken, they come to hospital,” he said. He added that the Ministry was also monitoring health conditions of the frontliners involved in culling and monitoring works on a weekly basis. “There are some 200,000 of them, health officers, veterinary officers who are involved in culling and the police,” he said. Asked about the outcome of the 2nd Asia Pacific Economic Forum (APEC) Health Ministers Meeting in Sydney, Australia on June 7 and 8 which he attended, Dr Chua said the member countries agreed to cooperate to fight against any potential global bird flu pandemic. They also reaffirmed commitment to share samples of any new birdflu strain in the effort to safeguard humans from the deadly pandemic.
PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia’s commitment to road safety has received international endorsement in the form of membership in the Global Road Safety Partnership (GRSP). Membership will allow the Transport Ministry to receive and exchange road safety best practices with other members in the world body under the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. “This is recognition of our road safety efforts by the international community and will help us in implementing our 2006-2010 Road Safety Plan,” Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said after witnessing the signing of agreements between the IFRC and his ministry yesterday. Membership means that Malaysia will be getting help from GRSP to develop and implement road safety programmes such as campaigns and advocacy programmes that encourage the use of crash helmets and discourage handphone usage while driving. GRSP Asia regional director Robert Klein said there were a “myriad” of road safety issues which needed to be addressed, and Malaysia could develop expertise in these areas to share with other countries. The ministry’s Road Safety Department director Datuk Suret Singh said international backing would help the department engage the private sector in road safety programmes. “We are working with the Education Ministry on having better road signage at schools and on uniforms for school traffic wardens, things where the private sector can help with sponsorships,” Suret said. The private sector was urged to help the department’s Helmet Wearing Initiative which will see the free distribution of one million motorcycle helmets over the next two years. The Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) will also work with GRSP to document its programmes and results for sharing with other member countries. The partnership is aimed at achieving a 50 per cent reduction in the number of injuries and fatalities due to road accidents by 2010. This translates into a reduction from the present six deaths per 10,000 registered vehicles to just two. The memorandum of understanding was signed by the ministry’s secretary-general Datuk Zakaria Bahari and IFRC Asia Pacific Service Centre head Ole Johan Hauge.
KUALA LUMPUR — The amendments to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) Act will enable contributors to withdraw their Account 2 funds for the purpose of purchasing insurance policies covering critical illnesses for themselves and their families. Parliamentary Secretary to the Finance Ministry Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya told the Dewan Negara this when winding up of the debate on the EPF (Amendment) Bill 2007 today. He also said that the move to reduce the contribution for those aged 55 years and above by half was not a discrimination against them. Instead, it was aimed at encouraging employers to offer them work without burdening them and their employers, he said. On a suggestion for the EPF to allow contributors to withdraw their funds for the purpose of performing haj, he said the proposal would go against the EPF’s original objective of enabling them to save enough money for retirement. The Bill was later passed. The Dewan Negara also passed the Inland Revenue Board (Amendment) Bill 2007.
KUALA LUMPUR — Motor vehicle sales fell 17 percent to 33,679 units in April from 40,482 units in the corresponding month of last year, the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) said. In a statement here today, MAA said the decline was due to lack of consumer confidence, difficulty in obtaining hire purchase loans and poor resale value of used cars. For the January to April period, sales dipped 16 percent to 138,629 units from 164,434 units in the same period last year. MAA said compared to March 2007, vehicle sales declined by 12.8 percent, or 4,940 units. Of the vehicles sold in April this year, passenger cars accounted for 30,205 units and commercial vehicles 3,474 units. Production in April dropped by 26 percent to 33,829 units from 45,718 units registered in the same period of last year. Of this, passenger cars accounted for 31,193 units and commercial vehicles 2,636 units. Production in the first four months of this year saw 114,232 units of passenger car and 11,720 units of commercial vehicles, providing a total of 125,952 units as against 187,202 units in the same period last year. MAA said it expected sales volume for May to remain at the same level amid the launch of the new Perodua model.
KUALA LUMPUR — Employers will soon be required to take insurance coverage for their foreign housemaids. Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Radzi Sheikh Ahmad said the employers might have to pay between RM75 and RM80 a year as premium for the insurance coverage. “The proposal will be submitted to the Cabinet two weeks from today.” He was speaking to reporters after attending a 45-minute meeting with Indonesia’s Minister of Energy and Transmigration Erman Suparno on several issues including a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on housemaids. The two men held the meeting at Parliament House here today. Radzi said the insurance premium must be paid when the employers pay the levy for their maids. “The insurance will cover death, accidents and hospitalisation. “Currently, the government spends vast sums of money on medicines and hospitalisation for foreign workers,” he added. Another issue discussed at the meeting was the claim by Indonesian maid recruiting agents that the payments to them were insufficient. Radzi said the Indonesian Minister also raised the alleged high-handed action of Rela members against foreign immigrants. He said Erman requested that Indonesians who were under suspicion by Malaysian authorities be treated humanely.
KUALA LUMPUR: The hirers of 33 Public Bank Bhd safe deposit boxes who lost their valuables when the bank’s Seri Kembangan branch was burgled last year are seeking at least RM5mil in damages. The group, comprising depositors aged 25 to 65, filed a negligence suit against the bank at the High Court here yesterday through the firm of Tan Kim Soon & Co. In the suit, the plaintiffs claimed that Public Bank had failed to fulfil its fundamental obligation because its branch’s premises was broken into by unknown persons and nearly all the contents of the safe deposit boxes were stolen. Among those items, the plaintiffs said, were irreplaceable items that were no longer available in the market because they were antiques or family heirlooms. In the suit, the lowest amount sought by an individual depositor was RM11,516 while the highest amount sought was RM921,000. The plaintiffs, who included a Chinese national, claimed they did not know the actual date of the heist but believed it happened between Oct 21 and 25 during the Deepavali and Hari Raya Puasa break. They said they were only notified of the break-in when the bank’s officer telephoned them on Oct 25. The group contended that the bank was negligent because it had failed to implement a good security system with a warning system linked to the nearest police station in the event of a break-in. The plaintiffs are seeking a total of RM5.076mil in special damages for the items lost apart from general and aggravated damages, costs, interest and other relief deemed fitting by the court. At the Jalan Duta court complex lobby, the group’s spokesman Brandon Ng, who is also a plaintiff in the suit, said he was disappointed with the attitude of the bank. “What took place was beyond our imagination of probable occurrence, as the bank’s premises are said to be ‘impenetrable’ or ‘unbreakable’ or ‘infallible’ or had portrayed such an image,” he said. Ng also described the RM10,000 settlement offered by the bank as a “figure without merit.”
PUTRAJAYA — The government has made it mandatory for used cars to undergo inspection at the Computerised Vehicle Examination Centre (Puspakom) before ownership change can be made, effective July 1. Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said the inspection was necessary to ensure that the vehicles were roadworthy and legally acquired. He said the move was made because the number of problematic vehicles was increasing every year where 2,368 vehicles out of the total of 191,582 examined in 2004 had failed the inspection, while in 2005, the number that failed was 4,062 out of 403,992 vehicles examined and in 2006, there were 4,629 vehicles that did not make the grade out of the 297,685 vehicles inspected. “Inspection by Puspakom can prevent vehicles that had been cut and rejoined from being transferred to another owner and used on the road. “It can ensure that only vehicles that are safe are being used on the road and support efforts to reduce the rate of traffic accident,” he told reporters here. Chan said vehicles that had passed the inspection would be issued with a special certificate which was valid for 14 days only to enable ownership transfer to be made at any Road Transport Department (JPJ). A RM30 fee would be charged for each inspection to ascertain the identity and physical condition of the vehicle concerned. For vehicles whose registration had been cancelled, he said the owners could claim the vehicles concerned for disposal. He said Puspakom had 64 branches throughout the country and planned to open 10 more branches this year.
KUALA LUMPUR — Police believe they have crippled two car-theft syndicates that were active in the Klang Valley following two raids in the city last month. The first raid was conducted at Putra Permai, Serdang, on April 24, while the second at Taman Seri Cempaka, Ulu Pudu, on April 30. Fourteen cars worth RM1.2 million, several fake plate numbers and road tax discs, key duplicating machines and pistols were seized, Kuala Lumpur acting police chief SAC I Zulhasnan Najib Baharuddin said. Police also arrested seven men and two women, aged between 20 and 35. They are under 14-day remand since April 30 for investigations. “Members of the syndicates are believed to have stolen 52 cars worth RM4 million but police have only recovered 14 of them,” Zulhasnan told reporters here today. He said they stole the cars from shopping complex carparks by first switching off the alarms. After opening the door using a thin iron sheet, they switched on the engine using starter wires. There were also cases where they stole the car at gun-point, he said. “The stolen cars were then taken to an isolated place where the ignition keys were duplicated – a process that took only 45 minutes. The cars were sold for RM1,000 to RM5,000 each,” Zulhasnan said. He advised the public in possession of stolen vehicles to surrender them to the police because it was crime to keep stolen items.
PETALING JAYA: The tour and travel industry should follow Hong Kong in setting up a fund to compensate customers of travel firms that go bust, said Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen. “Tour agents contribute to the fund and should one of them go bust, customers can claim from that fund,” she said adding that the Tourism Ministry should seriously look into this. She was commenting on the case of two directors of Excellence Holidays Sdn Bhd, Chan Kean Mun and his ex-wife Chong Suk Yen, who are believed to have absconded after the company went bust. The duo are said to have fled with at least RM500,000, being proceeds from the sales of tickets and travel packages during the Matta Fair in March. Chan is believed to be in hiding in China while the whereabouts of Chong is not known. Scores of people had lost money paid in advance for tour packages to locations like Europe, China and Hong Kong. It was reported that Excellence Holidays recorded over RM74mil in turnover in 2005 and was one of the big boys in the industry. Dr Ng said there was no tourism insurance product to protect customers when a tour agency goes bust. “There are many reasons why a company goes bust and insuring a company against bankruptcy would be like insuring against the company’s character,” she said when contacted yesterday. She said that if such a policy were allowed here, it would have to be for all sectors, but added that there was nothing stopping tour companies from insuring themselves through foreign firms. City Commercial Crime chief Asst Comm Mohd Aris Ramli said police would seek the assistance of their regional counterparts to track down the two directors.
KUALA LUMPUR — There was only one case of piracy reported in the Straits of Melaka in the last seven months, Chief of Defence Forces, Jen Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Zainal said today. He said the drastic drop was due to the cooperation between Indonesia and Malaysia under the Sidang High Level Committee Malaysia-Indonesia (HLC MALINDO). “The report that we received on the incident during the last seven months was a small one. I believe and give an assurance that the HLC is a relevant forum,” he told reporters after chairing the third HLC MALINDO meeting here. Abdul Aziz also said the piracy cases dropped by 99 percent. He said both countries also stepped up their air-surveillance (eyes-in-the-sky) to ensure tighter security. Meanwhile, on illegal logging along the border of the two countries, he said military posts along the border would be increased.
KUALA LUMPUR: Companies can apply for tax deductions for money spent on this year’s Merdeka celebrations, said Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim. “They can claim for articles bought like flags or even projects they carry out as long as they have the receipts and proper documentation for my ministry’s verification. We have the support and agreement of the Finance Ministry on this,” he said. Dr Rais announced this during a briefing to the media here yesterday on the Government’s programmes and activities to mark the country’s 50th anniversary of Independence. He said that so far, 700 companies that had pledged their support for and participation in the celebrations would enjoy the tax deductions and urged others to join in. There was no cap to the deductible amount but the companies must spend the money before Aug 31 this year, he later told The Star. Dr Rais, who chairs the national Merdeka celebrations steering committee, made a plea to all citizens to take part in the celebrations and urged them to fly the national flag. He added that this year’s celebrations would pay tribute to the nation’s war veterans, the five prime ministers and the 13 kings. “I also appeal to heads of all media companies to give publicity and instil the spirit of Merdeka in our people,” he said. The minister said the official celebrations would kick off with the launch of the “Fly the Jalur Gemilang” campaign on Aug 17 in Malacca. On Aug 24, a nationwide programme would be held in which Malaysians of different faiths would pray for the nation. The Ambang Merdeka on Aug 30 will see the re-enactment of the ceremony in which the Union Jack was lowered for the last time and the Malayan flag raised for the first time exactly 50 years ago at Dataran Merdeka here. And as always, the traditional National Day parade will be held on the morning of Aug 31, also at Dataran Merdeka. Dr Rais revealed that on the night of Aug 31, Tunku Abdul Rahman’s moving declaration of Independence would also be re-enacted at Merdeka Stadium. The final event to close the celebrations will be held on Sept 10 in Kuching.
JOHOR BARU: Police are in the midst of a war on vehicle thieves and the score so far is two major gangs busted, 12 suspects nabbed and 15 vehicles recovered. Johor Baru (North) OCPD Asst Comm Ruslan Hassan said police would not allow vehicle thieves to run rampant in the city. “They are not welcome here. Their time is up and we are coming to catch them,” he said, adding that police were determined to make the state capital a safer city for the public. In an operation on March 3, police raided an oil palm estate in Gelang Patah and arrested four suspects, aged between 17 and 31, including an Indonesian woman from Kalimantan. “We seized nine lorries and a car at an oil palm estate. The vehicles were reported stolen in Ulu Tiram, Kangkar Pulai, Senai, Plentong and Tampoi,” said ACP Ruslan. Among the vehicles recovered were four trailers, a Daihatsu Delta lorry, two Hicom lorries and a Honda Civic car. Police believe they have solved seven vehicle theft cases with the arrest of the suspects.
PETALING JAYA: The Computerised Vehicle Inspection Centre (Puspakom) detected 1,200 “cut-and-joined” cars (kereta potong) in the first three months of this year, compared with a total of 4,629 found last year. These vehicles, of which an average of 20 are found a day, were detected when they were taken to Puspakom centres nationwide for inspection before they could be sold as used cars. “The number of ‘half cut’ cars on the road is alarming. There is a great danger of using such vehicles. They not only pose a danger to the drivers, but also to other road users,” said Puspakom chief executive officer Datuk Salamat Wahit. In 2003, Puspakom found 521 such cars during routine inspections. The figure escalated to 2,368 in 2004, followed by 4,062 in 2005. He said most of the “half-cut” vehicles were fitted with cannibalised parts and had tampered chassis numbers. All used cars are required to undergo the Puspakom inspection if potential owners require a bank loan to buy them. However, the ruling does not apply to vehicles bought with cash. Under the Road Transport Act, cannibalised parts are deemed illegal, and cars found fitted with such components on the floor and roof can be sealed and have their registrations cancelled by the Road Transport Department. Salamat said Puspakom had proposed to the Government to make it mandatory for all used cars to be inspected by Puspakom prior to transfer of ownership to detect “cut-and-joined” vehicles. Yesterday, Puspakom also launched a free 10-point vehicle inspection scheme for motorcars and motorcycles at 31 of its branches and centres nationwide. The free inspection, said Salamat, was in conjunction with Global Road Safety Week from April 23-29. “The inspection is to determine the safety and problems faced by the vehicle,” Salamat said, adding that the checks would include engine, chassis number and the undercarriage. Other tests are for smoke emission, slide-slip to determine the vehicle’s optimum road handling, suspension, brakes, speedometer and headlights. Defect tests will also be conducted to determine the vehicle’s roadworthiness.
KUALA LUMPUR — Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) will be issuing revised capital frameworks for the banking institutions and insurers to promote greater protection for the various stakeholders of the respective sectors, particularly the depositors and policy holders. Under the new framework for the respective industries, the board of directors of the banking institutions and insurers are expected to play a greater role in enhancing the robustness of risk management infrastructure and market conduct governance, said the central bank in a statement Wednesday. The capital framework for the banking institutions, based on the standardised approaches under Basel II, will be effective from Jan 1, 2008. The standardised framework sets capital requirements by assigning predetermined risk weights to the various types of exposures. Banking institutions that have made significant progress in developing robust internal rating standards would be given the flexibility to adopt Internal Ratings-Based (IRB) approach in 2010 without having to comply with the standardised framework, said BNM. Meanwhile, the revised capital framework for insurers will be effective from Jan 1, 2009. Insurers with the capacity to adopt the framework earlier will be given the flexibility to migrate to the framework in 2008. BNM said the framework will further enhance the existing solvency framework by establishing more transparent and risk-adjusted capital and valuation requirements that reflect all major financial risks of insurers. “This is to ensure that the capital position of individual insurers are at levels that commensurate with their risk profiles.” The enhanced framework would also accord greater flexibility and relaxations for insurers in managing their investments. This revised capital framework for both the banking institutions and insurers will be implemented on a trial run basis beginning this month. The two revised frameworks would be complemented by a supervisory review process by BNM and an enhanced disclosure requirement on the capital strengths of the banking institutions and insurers, it added. The revised frameworks are also part of efforts to ensure that the prevailing regulatory framework effectively takes into account the rapidly changing environment faced by the financial industry and the more complex risk profiles of the financial institutions arising from the offering of more sophisticated products and services. Bank Negara said there had been extensive consultations with the banking and insurance industries to ensure that the revised capital framework took into consideration domestic market conditions and practices and was consistent with best global standards and principles.
KUALA LUMPUR — Vehicle sales continued to decline in March this year, recording 38,619 units compared with 46,306 units in the same month last year. The Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA), in releasing the figures Wednesday, attributed the lower sales performance to the higher volume in March 2006 due to the pre-National Automotive Policy (NAP) announcement. Year-to-date, vehicle sales declined by 15 percent to 104,950 units from 123,952 units, the association said in a statement. However, vehicle sales in March 2007 improved by 7,331 units or 23 percent compared to the previous month, MAA said. It cited the full working month and slight easing of hire purchase financing as factors for the improved sales figure. Of the vehicles sold in March 2007, passenger cars accounted for 35,159 units and commercial vehicles for 3,460 units, the association said. In terms of production, total industry production in March 2007 dropped to 37,280 units from 52,978 units in the same period last year, MAA said. Of this, passenger cars accounted for 34,210 units and commercial vehicles for 3,070 units. Production in the first three months of this year saw 83,062 units of passenger car and 9,084 units of commercial vehicle, providing a total of 92,146 units as against 141,484 units in the same period last year. On the outlook for April 2007, MAA said the sales volume is expected to be maintained.
KUALA LUMPUR — Bank Negara Malaysia always monitors financial institutions to ensure that their fees and charges do not burden customers, the Dewan Rakyat heard. Finance Ministry parliamentary secretary Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya said that since February 2005, these institutions must offer basic savings and current accounts to Malaysian citizens and permanent residents. “Account holders are eligible for 14 free transactions a month including ATM cash withdrawals as well as two interbank GIRO transactions at a minimum charge of 50 sen each,” he said in reply to Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing (BN-Bintulu) during Question Time. Tiong had asked whether the ministry endorsed the practice of local banks in charging for ATM cash withdrawals. Dr Hilmi said Bank Negara has laid out the principles and guidelines to ensure that banks do not impose charges or payments at their whim. To Tiong’s supplementary question on how to overcome excessive bank charges especially for internet transactions, he suggested that people stick to the basic savings and current accounts so that they only pay for services that exceed the limits set. Dr Hilmi said banks normally impose high charges only for the corporate sector which is involved in large transactions and not for individual customers. “Regarding internet banking, banks have invested heavily in this so it is only fair for them to impose high charges, especially when most of the users are from the corporate sector,” he added.
KUALA LUMPUR — The automotive industry continues to face a difficult business condition, with little sign of recovery, according to a survey by the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER). The low trade-in values, tighter loan requirements, and higher interest rates continued to be negative factors affecting the industry, MIER said. Although the Automotive Industry Index turned around marginally in the first quarter of 2007, it is still far below the threshold level of 100 points, the institute said in a report released Tuesday. “Given the depressing performance in 2006, the auto sector can chart some growth if it can do just slightly better than last year,” said MIER which conducted the Automotive Industry Survey. “Structurally, the increasing competition in the auto market has led to a faster depreciation rate for second-hand cars,” the institute said. “Over time, consumers have to accept the fact that they could lose money replacing their cars for new ones,” it added. MIER said the survey found that it will take awhile before consumers adapt to the higher living costs and the faster depreciation value of cars. “In the meantime, auto sellers could tempt consumers by coming out with appealing new models at affordable prices, now that ringgit has strengthened somewhat,” it said.
KLANG: The Customs Department has stumbled upon a scam involving the import of luxury 4WD vehicles without the use of approved permits (APs), when its officers raided a potong kereta warehouse in Sungai Puloh, off Kapar, yesterday. The department’s preventive unit seized 33 chassis, bodies, engines and other parts belonging to Toyota, Honda, Mitsubishi and Land Rover vehicles. Selangor Customs director Datuk Abdul Razak Yaacob said initial investigations found that the parts belonged to used 4WD vehicles bought from Japan whose parts were shipped here in different consignments to elude detection. “We also found that they smuggled in the chassis, declaring them as engine components, as chassis parts need APs to be imported.” He said the dismantled parts, marked according to the vehicles, were reassembled here after a buyer has been secured. He said the reassembled vehicles were sold for as low as RM45,000. The raid was held after the department received a tip-off that the warehouse had imported second-hand car chassis without proper documentation and APs. Abdul Razak said they believe more people could be linked to the scam. He also said the potong kereta outlet had been in operation importing car parts from Japan since last July. “We don’t know how many of these vehicles have been reassembled and put on the road. We urge anyone who may have bought them from this potong kereta outlet to assist us in the investigation.” A source told The Star that such vehicles could be put back on the road as second-hand ones using details and registration of condemned or totally wrecked automobiles. In yesterday’s raid, Customs found parts worth RM1.5mil. Two workers at the warehouse were also arrested.
MALAYSIA maintained its position as the world’s 19th largest exporting country, with total exports of merchandise trade valued at US$161 billion (RM555.4 billion) in 2006. This represents a 1.2 per cent share of the total world exports and an annual growth of 14 per cent, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) said in its International trade report for 2006. Malaysia was also ranked 19th largest exporting country in 2005 but its total exports were valued at US$140.9 billion (RM486.1 billion) at that time, which accounted for 1.4 per cent of the world’s exports and an annual percentage change of 11 per cent. In terms of imports of merchandise trade, Malaysia improved its position from 24th largest importer in 2005, to 23rd last year. Malaysia’s total imports surged to US$131 billion (RM452 billion) last year from US$114.6 billion (RM395.4 billion) recorded in the previous year. The country’s total imports saw a 14 per cent annual change in 2006. It also registered a 14 per cent annual change in 2005. According to the WTO, if the figures were to exclude the European Union countries, Malaysia was ranked at 13th and 16th largest exporting country of merchandise trade in the world in 2006 and 2005 respectively. Against other Asian exporters of merchandise goods, Malaysia was placed eighth behind leader China, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan and Saudi Arabia. It also placed eighth in terms of being the largest importing countries after China, Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, and India. In terms of leading exporters and importers in world commercial services trade for last year, Malaysia was placed among the top 30 countries. It was ranked 30th as the world’s leading exporter of commercial services in 2006, with exports of such services valued at US$21 billion (RM72.5 billion) during that year. With imports of commercial services valued at US$23 billion (RM79.35 billion), Malaysia was ranked the 29th largest importer of such trade services last year. Besides Malaysia, other Asian trading powers which made it to the top 30 of the largest exporters of commercial services were Japan, China, India, Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand. These nine and Indonesia are also listed as the world’s top 30 importers of commercial services last year.
PORT KLANG: Police believe they have smashed a syndicate smuggling stolen four-wheel-drive vehicles out of the country with the arrest of seven suspects over the past month. The arrests followed the recovery of eight such vehicles, worth about RM1.5 millon, on Feb 16 by Westport auxiliary police. The vehicles — seven Toyota Hilux pickup trucks and a BMW X5 reported stolen around the country between Jan 22 and Feb 11 — were found in containers before they could be loaded onto a ship bound for Batam. The shipping manifest for the containers had indicated that they contained “furniture”. Klang police chief ACP Rodwan Mohd Yusof said police arrested the suspects, including a 28-year-old woman who worked as a shipping co-ordinator at a private company, at separate locations throughout Klang. He said four people were now being sought to assist in police investigations into the syndicate which is believed to have been in operation since September. They are: Muhamad Razif Haris, 27, of Sg Bertek, Klang; Darma Suria Risman Saleh, 25, from Pangsapuri Sireh Junjung, Port Klang; Abdul Latif Jantan, 28, of Taman Kem, Port Klang; and, Rosman Aman, 31, from Pangsapuri PKNS, Port Klang. Those with information on their whereabouts should contact Insp Jagjeet Singh at 03-33712222.
SHAH ALAM: Selangor police have crippled a car theft syndicate with the arrest of nine people, including two women, and have recovered nine stolen vehicles and a pistol from one of the suspects. At least 10 car thefts in the Klang Valley could be solved with the arrests, deputy police chief Senior Asst Comm (I) Mohd Noh Kandah said. He said the first arrest was made in Subang Jaya on March 8 when police nabbed the driver of a stolen car and found an assortment of tools and keys along with road tax stickers. In a follow-up operation, police raided a house in the same area seven hours later and detained six men and two women, aged between 20 and 32. “We recovered a pistol and nine cars – a Proton Satria, three Toyota Wish, a Perodua Kenari, a Proton Waja, a Proton Putra, a Nissan Sentra and a Perodua Kancil,” he said, adding that the suspects could have used the gun to rob. SAC Noh said members of the syndicate would usually steal cars parked in front of houses after deactivating the vehicles’ alarm system. Selangor police, meanwhile, have solved at least 24 trailer-hijacking cases in the Klang Valley following the arrest of seven men in Pandamaran on March 3. SAC Mohd Noh said a team of police raided a storehouse in Kampung Pandamaran, Batu Tiga, and found four containers with plastic resin worth RM358,104. They had been reported missing on Feb 24. “Our investigations show that 12 people were responsible for the crime. Five others are still at large,” he said. SAC Mohd Noh said police had also solved 24 lorry hijacking cases this year with the recovery of valuables, including fabric, plastic, soap, air-conditioners, meat products, milk powders and copper, all worth about RM10mil.
JOHOR BARU: He has been making an honest living in Singapore for the best part of eight years but his world turned upside down after he discovered someone had impersonated him in an insurance fraud. Local welder Quan Tek Ming, 51, discovered the scam after his car insurance company informed him several days ago that he was supposedly responsible for an accident in Subang Jaya three years ago. However, the most shocking fact was that an unknown individual posing as him had lodged a police report confessing to having caused the accident. “I thought it was a bad dream when I received the letter from the insurance company. They informed me that another party was asking for compensation for the damage to his vehicle,” he said, adding that he has not been to Subang Jaya for the last 10 years. Quan has since explained the situation to the insurance company’s executives but they were not very cooperative. The other party is asking for the maximum amount of some RM10,000 and Quan stands to lose his No Claim Bonus (NCB). The insurance company has even given Quan a copy of the police report and he claimed that it was a false report. “The report was not even complete and it did not even have my identity card number,” Quan said at a press conference organised by Bandar Baru Tampoi MCA chairman Michael Tay here yesterday. Tay said he would write a letter to the insurance company asking them to cancel the claim by the unknown party as the documents were not sufficient for such an action.
KUALA LUMPUR — The average life expectancy for Malaysians has risen to 74 years now compared with 55 years during the country’s independence, said Health Ministry Parliamentary Secretary Datuk Lee Kah Choon. He said the government was satisfied with the achievement because it showed that the standard of health for Malaysians had improved. “Generally, the government is satisfied with the present status and will continue to raise the standard of health in the country to ensure a longer life expectancy,” he said at the Dewan Rakyat sitting, here Wednesday. He was responding to a question from Tan Sri Dr Ting Chew Peh (BN-Gopeng) who wanted to know the life expectancy for Malaysians according to race and whether the government was satisfied with the existing average life expectancy. Lee said that the average life expectancy for men was lower at 71.5 years compared with 76.2 years for women. He said that the life expectancy for men among the Indian community was the lowest at 67.4 years, followed by the Bumiputeras (70.4) and Chinese (73.6). As for the women, he said the Chinese community had the highest life expectancy at 78.8 years, followed by the Indians (75.4) and Bumiputeras (74.8).
KUALA LUMPUR: After a two-year probe and much backroom negotiations, luxury cars worth more than RM1.5 million that were stolen here and recovered in Hong Kong are on their way back. The cars including BMWs and Mercedes Benz are expected to arrive over the weekend. This follows a concerted effort by a team led by Deputy Criminal Investigation Department director Datuk Syed Ismail Syed Azizan that met insurers, police and Customs officials in the former British colony. Negotiations in the matter which saw cars stolen here, taken to Singapore and then shipped to Hong Kong for what is believed to be eventual sale in China ended last week. It is understood that the cars were meant for the increasingly affluent market in southern China. The vehicles were recovered in Hong Kong in 2005. Investigators learnt that forged importation and Customs clearance documents were used to facilitate the transshipment of the stolen vehicles. This recovery has once again reaffirmed the belief among Malaysian police that car theft-cum-smuggling syndicates had their sights on newly-emerging economies. Industry sources said the recovery of the cars posed the question of what would happen now to the vehicles. This is because the owners have had their insurance policies honoured by insurance companies. “These were vehicles which were stolen more than two years ago. Now additional costs have been incurred for the repairs, freight and shipping costs which have been borne by insurers,” an industry official said. It is learnt that the authorities are trying to secure the return of stolen Malaysian vehicles recovered in Dubai. Meanwhile, General Insurance Association of Malaysia (PIAM) executive director Lim Chia Fook said Malaysian police had recovered stolen vehicles in Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, South Africa, Hong Kong and Dubai. “We (however) do not have information on how many of these stolen vehicles have been smuggled out of the country,” he said. PIAM believes greater government-to-government co- operation was needed to overcome hurdles in cross-border criminal activities. “This co-operation is essential in investigating, identifying and recovering stolen vehicles which have been taken out of the country.” Statistics show that 82,287 vehicles were reported stolen here last year. Malaysian police and their Interpol counterparts are actively involved in investigations to recover, identify and repatriate the stolen vehicles to their country of origin.
KUALA LUMPUR: Some 200,000 second-hand cars, which are sold through cash transactions yearly, will have to undergo mandatory checks at Puspakom before ownership can be transferred. The move, which is expected to be implemented within the next few months, is aimed at removing cut-and-joint cars or kereta potong from the road. Last year, the Transport Ministry estimated about 50,000 such cars were on the road nationwide. The mandatory checks will put a stop to car owners selling their worthless vehicles to others, a source from the ministry said. “They are also endangering others because the cars are unsafe.” Last year, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy had announced that all used cars were required to undergo Puspakom inspection before banks could approve loans for their purchase. However, the move saw an increase in the number cash transactions. The ministry then decided to make it mandatory for all cars, including those that do not require bank loans, to go through the checks. “At present, cars that do not require bank loans escape Puspakom checks,” said the source. The move is timely as people still bought cars that were below the market price. Citing an example, he said one could get a luxury car at RM20,000 to RM30,000 less than its normal price. Chan had stressed that the government was serious in weeding out kereta potong, which are known to split into two upon a collision. He also advised second- hand car owners to take their vehicles to Puspakom to be inspected as this would prevent them and their family members from being seriously injured in the event of an accident. Kereta potong is made by cutting and joining sections of two cars of the same model. This compromises the structural integrity and safety of the cabin as the joint would split instead of crumpling in an accident. Puspakom conducts a thorough check for anyone who wants to know if their car is a half-cut vehicle for RM40.
MERSING: Most of them are too young to hold a motorcycle licence but they’re already into stealing them. On Monday, police nabbed a gang of teenagers and school drop-outs aged 12 to 17 who would take the bikes, strip them down and sell the parts. The boys have been stealing bikes in the district for at least the past three months. A tip-off led police to two 17-year-olds in Endau, who spilled the beans immediately and led police to seven more gang members. They also took them to the hut in Endau where they cannibalised the motorcycles. A police spokesman said they found two stolen bikes and motorcycle parts in the hut. They learned the gang is led by a 26-year-old unemployed man. The nine boys have been remanded until Friday.
KLANG: Police have busted a syndicate smuggling four-wheel-drive vehicles out of the country following the discovery of the gang’s activities a month ago. Klang OCPD Asst Comm Mohd Rodwan Mohd Yusof said that on Jan 17, police detained a container lorry along the highway in Pulau Indah and found a stolen Toyota Avanza and a one-tonne lorry inside the container bound for West Port. “Our officers arrested the driver, an attendant and another man. On further investigations, we found that there was a bigger smuggling operation going on,” he said. A task force led by Asst Supt. S. Prabakaran and Asst Supt. Badrulazham Baharom was formed to smash the smuggling ring. “Our officers found out that another 17 containers of four-wheel-drive vehicles were on their way to the Jebel Ali Free Zone in Dubai from Port Klang,” said ACP Mohd Rodwan. Dubai police seized the containers containing 24 vehicles. ASP Prabakaran flew to Dubai to confirm that the vehicles were stolen in Malaysia. Police are now looking for three other suspects. They are Jeganathan Subramaniam and S. Thiagu K. Subramaniam, both from Jalan Kastam, and Paneerselvam Kurusamy alias Veelasamy from Jalan Arang in Port Klang.
KLANG: Afghanistan, Pakistan and Africa are the new destinations of stolen Malaysian four-wheel-drive vehicles. This revelation followed the arrest of three men and recovery of RM3 million worth of vehicles stolen by a local group with international links. The previous destinations were Batam Island, Thailand and Indo-China. Klang police chief Assistant Commissioner Rodwan Mohd Yusof said a month-long operation, which started with the arrest of a suspect in Pulau Indah on Jan 17, led to the recovery of vehicles and information on car theft activities. Police have recovered a Toyota Avanza and Hicom lorry in a 20-foot container truck and arrested the man driving it. Five other containers containing 10 vehicles — five Toyota Hilux, three Toyota Fortuner, a Toyota Rav 4 and a Nissan Frontier — were found in Pulau Indah and Northport. “The vehicles were stolen from the Klang Valley, Pahang and Penang,” said Rodwan. He said police arrested two men and discovered that 17 other containers, carrying 24 other vehicles, were enroute to the United Arab Emirates. He said working with Interpol, police managed to prevent the cars from being off-loaded at the Jabber Ali Port in Dubai and they have been ordered to be sent back to Malaysia. “We believe the UAE is a point of transit before the stolen vehicles are shipped to new markets and this is said to include Afghanistan, Pakistan and Africa,” he said. “The vehicles of choice being stolen for shipments are four-wheel-drives, probably because of the poor road conditions in those destinations.” Police are looking for three men, with previous convictions for car thefts, to help in investigations. They are two brothers, S. Jeganathan, 29, and S. Thiagu, 31, from Jalan Kastam, Port Klang, and K. Paneerselvam @ Veelasamy, 28, from Jalan Arang, Pandamaran. Those with information on them are urged to call investigating officer Assistant Superintendent S. Prabakaran at 03-3371-2222 or 03-3371-9999.