Insurance News

Govt Agrees To Set Up Road Safety Trust Fund
5 April 2006, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR — The government has agreed to set up a Road Safety Trust Fund to finance activities relating to road safety. Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Douglas Uggah Embas said industries involved including representatives from the vehicle industry had agreed to contribute RM100 for each new vehicle registered. “The fund set up is based on private sector funding programme which has been successfully implemented in developed countries,” he said in reply to Fong Po Kuan (DAP-Batu Gajah) in the Dewan Rakyat Wednesday. Fong had asked about the rationale for the RM100 compulsory contribution for each car produced by a vehicle maker to finance the Road Safety Fund. Douglas said his ministry had informed the vehicle industry that it was their duty to contribute towards road safety and the amount would not be a burden to the public. “The fund is managed by the Transport Ministry,” he said. Douglas said road safety programmes in the country had an impact when the mortality rate in road accidents for 10,000 registered vehicles had dropped from 8.2 per cent in 1996 to 4.1 per cent last year. According to a study by Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), there were three main factors contributing to road accidents, he said. Chief among these was the human factor (67 per cent) like driving above the speed limit, using the emergency lane, tailgating, double-line overtaking and queue jumping, he said. The others were the road condition and environment factor (28 per cent) and the vehicle’s condition factor (five per cent), he said.

Singapore transit point for cars stolen from Malaysia
4 April 2006, By The Star

JOHOR BARU: Singapore is a regular transit point for vehicles stolen in Malaysia and shipped out to other countries. State CID chief Senior Asst Comm II Datuk Abdul Rahim Jaafar said the stolen cars would first be brought here, and then driven into Singapore. “There, the vehicles will be loaded into containers and shipped out,” he said. He told a press conference yesterday that the majority of the 1,394 vehicles stolen in Johor last year were from Malaysia, while Singapore-registered vehicles accounted for only 3.7% of the number. Singaporean media recently reported that vehicles from the republic were often targets of thieves. “The percentage of Singaporean vehicles that are stolen is very low,” he said, adding that only three were stolen in the first two months of this year. He added that the local police worked closely with their Singaporean counterparts to cut down car thefts. “We recently nabbed seven people, including a Road Transport Department officer, and recovered four stolen vehicles,” he said. He also refuted reports that shopping complexes were hot spots for car thieves. Pelangi Bhd property management division general manager Jenny Chan said that her shopping complex placed high priority on customer safety. “We only had two cases in the last 10 years and none involved Singaporeans,” she said. Johor Baru Chinese Chamber of Commerce deputy president Datuk Soh Poh Sheng said that the articles were intended to sabotage the state’s economy. State Tourism and Environ-ment Committee chairman Freddie Long expressed similar sentiments, saying that the author of the article was out to destroy the good name of Johor.

Highlights Of PM’s Speech On The 9MP In Parliament
31 March 2006, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR — The following are the highlights of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s speech in Parliament when tabling the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP) in the Dewan Rakyat Friday. 1.The government has formulated and will implement the National Mission for the period 2006-2020, a framework for the national development agenda, which outlines the key strategies to be taken for the next 15 years to realise the Vision 2020. 2. The National Mission has five thrusts: * To raise the value add of the national economy; * To raise the country’s capacity for knowledge, creativity and innovation and nurture “first class mentality”; * To address persistent socio-economic inequalities constructively and productively; * To improve the standard and sustainability of the quality of life; and * To strengthen the institutional and implementation capacity of the country. 3. The Ninth Malaysia Plan 2006-2010 will be implemented towards achieving greater success to build a civilisation that will elevate the nation’s dignity. 4. During the 9MP, the country’s total trade is expected to surpass the RM1 trillion mark for the first time. * Universiti Darul Iman in Terengganu and Universiti Darul Naim in Kelantan will be built. * RM1.15 billion has been allocated to improve facilities in rural schools, especially in Sabah and Sarawak. * A total of 180 primary schools, 229 secondary schools and residential schools will be built under the Ninth Malaysia Plan. * Six per cent per annum Gross Domestic Product growth targeted * Per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is expected to increase by an average 5.9 per cent a year touching RM23,573 in 2010 while per capital GDP in terms of purchasing power parity is expected to rise to US$13,878 in 2010. * RM690 million allocated to build teachers’ quarters, nearly half of it for teachers’ quarters in rural areas. * RM1.51 billion allocated for school computerisation programme while RM284 million for smart school programme. * By 2010, Malaysia targets 24.6 million tourist arrivals a year. * “New Agriculture” programme will be developed covering big-scale commercial estates, ICT applications and high value-added activities. * RM11.4 billion allocated for agriculture sector. * Second Penang Bridge will be built to stimulate growth in Penang, Kedah and northern Perak. * New regional development authorities will be established in Sabah and Sarawak to develop interior areas and rural growth centres. * RM1.2 billion allocated to improve water supply to rural areas, RM1 billion for rural electricity supply, RM2.7 billion for rural road construction and RM900 million to build village roads. * Government targets at least 30 per cent Bumiputera equity ownership by 2020. * Efforts will be made to increase equity ownership of Indians to three per cent by 2020. * A national commission will be set up to oversee public transport while a specific commission will be established for the Klang Valley. * An integrated transport terminal will be built in Gombak and in Bandar Tasik Selatan as a transit hub to Kuala Lumpur. * A monorail system will be built in Penang and a East-Link highway dispersal system will be built in Johor. * An inter-state raw water supply project from Pahang to Selangor will be implemented. * RM4 billion will be spent for flood mitigation project. * 43,800 low-cost houses will be built under the Public Housing Project programme. * Syarikat Perumahan Negara Berhad will build 29,000 low-cost and medium low-cost houses. * The government proposes to set up two national implementation action bodies. One to monitor implementation of Ninth Malaysia Plan projects and the other to monitor the new generation of the Bumiputera Commercial and Industrial Community programme chaired by the prime minister. * The National Economic Action Council will be revamped to focus on programme and project implementation and effective delivery system. * A public-private sector action committee will be set up to propose amendments to related rules and regulations. * The federal government will allocate RM200 billion for development expenditure to realise the National Mission under the ninth plan. * Projects worth RM2O billion will be implemented through the private financing initiative. * The private sector must be the driver of economic growth and the public sector as the facilitator and provider of socio-economic facilities. * The prime minister, assisted by the deputy prime minister, will head a committee at the highest level to monitor Ninth Malaysia Plan projects and programmes. * The Economic Planning Unit and Implementation Coordination Unit in the Prime Minister’s Department are responsible in ensuring programmes implemented are in line with the development thrust and achieve the desired objectives.

Financial services sector potential growth driver in 9MP
30 March 2006, By The Star

PETALING JAYA: Although analysts have singled out agriculture, biotechnology, education and training, construction, and information and communications technology as sectors to receive a boost under the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP), the importance of the financial services sector in driving growth cannot be ignored. While they do not expect specific measures to be announced in the 9MP, the overall thrust for the financial services sector was expected to continue from the 8MP, which was to create a strong, resilient and competitive sector that would be the catalyst for higher growth in the economy. The 8MP focused on the rationalisation and strategic positioning of the sector in a rapidly-changing financial landscape driven by advances in technology, globalisation of financial markets and increasing reliance on knowledge for value creation. The Financial Sector Master Plan (FSMP), together with the Capital Market Master Plan, were announced in 2001 to provide a comprehensive framework for the strategic development of the financial sector over a 10-year period. According to Bank Negara Annual Report 2005, the implementation of the FSMP is on track and, by Dec 31, 2005, halfway through the 10-year FSMP period, a total of 49 recommendations, or more than half of the FMSP recommendations with milestones, had been implemented. Another 29 recommendations are being implemented on a continuous basis. From 2001 to 2005, significant progress included strengthening the position of the domestic financial institutions to operate in a more liberalised environment. The capacity-building initiatives will continue to be pursued and intensified during the remaining Phase 2 of the FSMP period to prepare the domestic financial sector for further global integration as the third phase of the FSMP approaches. Gradual liberalisation measures, including the possibility of introducing new foreign competition, will be introduced. This is to ensure the achievement of the desired improvement and new opportunities and benefits to the domestic financial system while preserving overall financial stability. Meanwhile, industry players believe the 9MP will incorporate measures that will boost the disposable income of Malaysians, hence indirectly supporting the growth of the insurance industry. Life Insurance Association of Malaysia president Ng Lian Lu said the growth of the life insurance industry was linked to the growth of disposable income. “In the 9MP, we believe measures will be introduced to help increase the disposable income of Malaysians, as this will indirectly support the development of the life insurance industry in the country. “From a mere 10% of population insured some 10 years ago, the industry’s figure has now achieved an impressive figure of close to 40%,” he said. Compared with other developed countries, the current insurance penetration rate of 40% was still far from desired, he added. Agreeing with Ng, Allianz Life Insurance Malaysia Bhd CEO Chris James said the company hoped the 9MP would help increase the disposable income of individuals for them to save and invest. Some of the measures that the government had put in place to encourage the public to buy life insurance included the increase on income tax deduction for insurance premiums from a maximum of RM5,000 to RM6,000 and the Consumer Education Programme launched by Bank Negara in 2003, he said. To further enhance the penetration rate, Ng said it was important that the government establish a conducive tax policy to encourage individuals to invest in life insurance. Ng said firstly, the tax relief of RM3,000 for education and medical insurance could be increased two-fold. Secondly, the current tax relief of RM6,000 available to Employees Provident Fund contributions and insurance premiums should be segregated and given a relief of RM5,000 each. “Encouraging the rakyat to have health insurance will pave the way towards realising the successful implementation of the National Health scheme. It is important to instil the sense of responsibility in the rakyat that their social welfare should not be funded solely by a national scheme which will be too costly and is not effective use of government revenue. “The National Health scheme should ideally provide for the basic medical and healthcare needs while the top-ups should be provided under private health insurance,” he said. To prepare for the needs of an ageing society, Ng said the government should also consider the setting up of a private pension scheme under the 9MP.

Prudential rejects Aviva takeover
19 March 2006, By BBC News

Prudential, Britain’s second largest insurer, has rejected a takeover bid from rival Aviva, reported to have been worth about £17bn. Newspaper reports claim the offer was made on Thursday, and expect Aviva to return with a higher bid. The bid could also encourage approaches from other major insurers such as France’s Axa or Germany’s Allianz. A combined Aviva and Prudential would have 50m customers, 80,000 staff and £350bn of funds under management. “The board, which has taken independent financial advice, does not consider that the proposal is in the best interests of its shareholders and has rejected it,” Prudential said in a statement issued on Saturday. “The board confirms that it is not in discussions with any party and reaffirms its confidence in Prudential’s future as an independent company.” Prudential shares rose 7% to 672p by the close of market on Friday, their biggest increase for three years. On the same day, the Financial Services Authority issued a study claiming that almost a third of UK takeover deals showed signs of insider trading. Last week Prudential announced a 33% increase in operating profits, which came in well above market estimates at £1.7bn.

Fraud A Worrying Crime, Says IGP
15 March 2006, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR — The police are finding it hard to fight fraud cases where criminals of criminal breach of trust (CBT), cheating and forgery have amassed a whopping RM784.9 million in 6,422 cases last year. Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Bakri Omar said the police were less successful in fighting fraud as compared to other crimes such as rape, murder and drug cases where the solving rate exceeded 40 per cent. “For fraud cases such as CBT, cheating and forgery cases, the solving rate is about 33 per cent or one third of the reported cases. But there are various reasons which contribute to this,” he said in a keynote address at the official opening of the seminar on ‘Insurance Fraud – Detection, Investigation and Prevention’ here Wednesday. Bakri said eventhough the number of cases increased by leaps and bounds, the number of officers under the Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) remained at 80 officers, which eventually led to a backlog of cases. “Due to this, since January this year, the CCID has quadrupled its size (320 officers) when compared it was a branch of the Criminal Investigation Department,” he said. However, Bakri said there was a drop in fraud losses last year as against 2004 where fraudsters “got away” with RM813.7 million with a slightly-lesser 6,404 cases. Bakri said commercial crime cases now were very complex and diverse with fraudsters continuing to be inventive and getting more sophisticated by the day which required knowledgeable and experienced officers to handle the cases. “Experienced criminal investigation officers with qualifications of law, accounting, multimedia, forensic accounting, banking are being roped in to carry out the challenging task,” he said. Bakri said the police had also set up its own forensic unit which had been very fruitful in solving many cases when assisting commercial crime investigations. He said periodic meetings between CCID officers with various bodies such as the Securities Commission, Bank Negara Malaysia and other professional bodies had benefitted the parties involved to curb the crime. “In these meetings, ideas and information are exchanged, minor problems are ironed out and red tapes are reduced. All these are aimed at providing a better service to the public,” he said. On insurance fraud, Bakri proposed insurance fraud to be identified as a specific crime as to define what constituted the crime, along with the penalties that could be imposed. He said the move would be easier to prosecute cases since it was timely to formulate significant provisions in the Penal Code to address the serious problem of insurance fraud. He also said immunity statutes should also be considered to provide protection for good faith exchange of information between insurers or law enforcement officials or organisation and exempt them from lawsuits brought against them. Bakri said insurance fraud would push up the cost of operations of the industry and would in turn be passed to the general public which would end in paying higher premium. “So it is not a battle of the police alone, there must be sound cooperation and collaboration between the police, the insurance industry, adjusters and general public to thwart insurance fraud effectively,” he said. The seminar is jointly organised by the Malaysian Insurance Institute, The National Claims Society, the Association of Malaysian Loss Adjusters, Bank Negara Malaysia and the Royal Malaysia Police. The seminar aims to expose local and international participants on the current regional fraud scenario, latest strategies and techniques in preventing and detecting fraud, insight of police investigations, forensic investigation and the art of collecting fraud evidence.

Most Foreign Workers In M’sia Insured
7 March 2006, By BERNAMA

YOGYAKARTA — Almost 1.2 million of the 2 million registered foreign workers in Malaysia have insurance protection fully provided for by their employers, including 667,000 Indonesian employees until the end of last year. Deputy Human Resource Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Bakar said the insurance for death or disability during the course of work must be provided by employers for each of their foreign workers under the Workmen’s Compensation Act 1952. “The premium is only RM72 annually and must be taken at the latest a week after the worker begins employment,” he told Bernama during a visit to Yogyakarta’s Special District here Tuesday. He said the insurance, which could be bought from 24 companies appointed by the government, among others pay compensation of RM25,000 for death, RM4,800 repatriation of body and up to RM23,000 for injuries and permanent disability. “This is one way the Malaysian government looks after the welfare of foreign workers,” he said, adding that the ministry had 320 enforcement officers to ensure employers complied with the law. Abdul Rahman said that from Jan 1, 2005, it was made compulsory for the premiums to be deposited with the Malaysian Labour Department within seven days of assessment. “We find the foreign workers are happy with the arrangement as they are not protected by other laws in Malaysia for workers like contributions to the Employees Provident Fund or Socso. “However, this effort by Malaysia to protect foreign workers is only enjoyed by those who are in the country legally and does not apply to those who came in illegally,” he said. He said efforts were in progress to check each employer to ensure that the remaining 0.8 million legal foreign workers were traced so that they too could be given protection. He added that specially for Indonesians, the ministry targeted that a million of them would be insured by end of this year.

Accumulated rainfall hits 40-year high in Subang
28 February 2006, By The Star

PETALING JAYA: Rain, rain and more rain. That’s what many residents in Subang thought it was all about but a quick check with the Meteorological Services Department uncovered one interesting fact. The accumulated rainfall in Subang for this month alone is 447mm, the highest amount of rainfall in a month for the area in 40 years. The Meteorological Services Department’s Weather Forecast Centre director Kang Thean Shong said the rainfall was almost 30% higher than the 344.6mm recorded in 1992. “Over the last two months, we have had some abnormally high rainfall. “The rainfall recorded for Sunday itself was 117mm over a period of five hours,” he said. Kang said in previous years, the early part of March would be drier. However, this year, some rain could be expected throughout the month before the onset of the inter-monsoon in April, which Kang said would bring more rain. “We have been experiencing some effects of a weak La Nina, which brings in more rain and it will continue to rain in March. “Even up in Kedah, areas in Chuping and Alor Star are experiencing rainfall which is almost double the average,” he added. Kang said the department had forecast that the country would receive 20% more rain next month

Car theft ring busted
28 February 2006, By The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: A 17-year-old girl was among four people nabbed in a police raid at a condominium in Cheras here which crippled a car theft syndicate known for “favouring” luxury cars. Their arrests led police to a house in Taman Midah where they picked up a 53-year-old man said to be connected with the racket and recovered a stolen BMW 5-series. In the two raids, the police seized two semi-automatic pistols, a revolver and 30 rounds of ammunition. They are on the hunt for at least two other gang members, who used fake road tax stickers and false number plates to sell off the stolen cars. City police chief Datuk Mustafa Abdullah said the serious crimes division (D9) had been tracking down the car thieves since September when the group escaped with seven luxury cars worth RM2.4mil from a car dealer in Ampang. In that incident, the car thieves, armed with two revolvers, held up workers at Falcon Auto Used Cars in Jalan Ampang Hilir. The robbers, who arrived in a Toyota Camry, forced 14 salesmen to strip to their underwear before herding them and three female clerks into an office after which they ransacked the place. They also relieved the staff of their valuables before driving off in the stolen cars. Mustafa said the syndicate was believed to be responsible for the thefts of 40 luxury cars in the city and five states – Selangor, Johor, Malacca, Perak and Penang – since early last year. The police also seized two laptops, a printer, a scanner and items used to produce fake road tax discs as well as several false number plates during the raid. Three Rambo-type knives were also seized. Police also confiscated a Proton Gen-2, a Toyota Harrier and a Nissan Sentra, totalling about RM400, 000.

Petrol Price Up Again
27 February 2006, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR — The retail price for petroleum products including diesel will be raised by another 30 sen effective Tuesday. “The government has decided to raise the retail price of petrol and diesel by 30 sen per litre and the price of LPG by 30 sen per kilogram effective tomorrow (Tuesday),” said a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office Monday night. The increase was to tackle the impact from the increase in the price of crude petroleum in the world market and to curb the increase in subsidy which had to be borne by the government, the statement said. However, the statement said that the government gave an assurance that there would be no further raise in the retail price of petroleum products this year. The last time the government raised the retail price of petroleum products was on July 31, 2005 where the price of petrol went up by 10 sen per litre, diesel by 20 sen per litre and LPG by five sen per kilogram. The new price of RON 97 petrol is now 192 sen per litre, RON 92 Petrol — 188 sen per litre, Diesel — 158.1 sen per litre and LPG — 175 sen per kilogram. In Sabah, RON 97 Petrol will cost 190 sen per litre, RON 92 Petrol — 188 sen per litre, Diesel — 158.4 sen per litre and LPG — 183 sen per kilogram. In Sarawak, RON 97 Petrol will cost 191 sen per litre, RON 92 Petrol — 188 sen per litre, Diesel 157.8 sen per litre and LPG — 183 sen per kilogram. All the new prices are higher by 30 sen. “The retail price for petroleum products is being raised because in 2005 the amount of subsidy borne by the government was RM7.41 billion. Whereas tax exemption stood at RM7.85 billion. “The burden of subsidy and tax exemption borne by the government from January to February 2006 was RM1.19 billion and RM1.44 billion respectively,” the statement said. The statement said that without subsidy and tax exemption provided by the government, the retail price of these products in March 2006 would be higher. Without the subsidy and tax exemption, the price of RON 97 in the peninsula would have been RM2.46 per litre, RON 92 — RM2.37 per litre, Diesel — RM1.98 per litre and LPG — RM3.21 per kilogram. In Sabah, RON 97 petrol without subsidy and tax exemption would have been RM2.45 per litre, RON 92 — RM2.37 per litre, Diesel — RM1.97 per litre and LPG — RM3.35 per kilogram. In Sarawak, the price of RON 97 petrol without subsidy and tax exemption would have been RM2.45 per litre, RON 92 — RM2.36 per litre, Diesel — RM1.97 per litre and LPG — RM3.34 per kilogram. “Although the government is raising the price of petroleum products, diesel and LPG, the price of petrol and diesel in Malaysia is still cheaper compared to the price of most of these products in the Asean countries except for Brunei Darussalam,” the statement said. The statement also said the price of petroleum products in several other countries, including Asean countries, was higher than in Malaysia. per litre), diesel (RM2.28 per litre) and LPG (RM1.65 per kilogram). In Thailand, the price of RON 97 petrol is RM2.52 per litre, RON 92 (RM2.45 per litre), diesel (RM2.28 per litre) and LPG (RM1.65 per kilogram). The price in the Philippines is RM2.21 per litre for RON 97 petrol, RON 92 (RM2.20 per litre), diesel (RM1.95 per litre) and LPG (RM4.90 per kilogram). In Singapore, it is RM4.15 per litre for RON 97 petrol, RON92 (RM3.89 per litre), diesel (RM2.39 per litre) and LPG (RM5.32 per kilogram) while in Brunei the price for RON 97 petrol is RM1.22 per litre, RON 92 (RM1.19 per litre), diesel (RM0.71 per litre) and LPG (RM1.40 per kilogram). In Indonesia, it is RM2.30 per litre for RON 97 petrol, RON 92 (RM2.20 per litre), diesel (RM1.68 per litre) and LPG (RM1.89 per kilogram). The statement said the government had also introduced a diesel subsidy system for 84 per cent of vehicles in the land transport sector comprising public transport operators and consumer goods services through the use of fleetcards. “With the use of fleetcards, they are able to buy diesel at a subsidised price of 15 sen lower than the fixed price,” it said, adding that the Domestic and Consumer Affairs Ministry had issued a letter to inform the eligible operators of the matter. The Prime Minister’s Office also said the financial savings from the increase in the price of petroleum products would be used to finance development projects and improve the public transport system for the benefit of the people.

GST Implementation Postponed, New Date To Be Announced Later
22 February 2006, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR — The government has decided to postpone the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) from Jan 1, 2007 to a new date that will be announced later. This is in order to provide sufficient time to resolve issues raised and for businesses to be GST-ready, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said in a statement announcing the decision here Wednesday. To spearhead the implementation of the new tax system, MOF said the government had formed a Tax Review Panel comprising representatives from the public and private sector to formulate the concept, legislation, process and procedures for the GST. Over the last one year, the Tax Review Panel had presented a proposed GST model and has actively engaged in extensive consultations with the public and business community across the country. The feedback has strongly suggested a need for more time particularly to further refine the proposed GST model and to ensure the readiness of businesses to implement the GST. The private sector had highlighted the need for lead time, especially for potential changes in business processes, development of software and training of personnel. The government had announced in last year’s Budget that the existing sales tax and service tax would be replaced on Jan 1, 2007 with the GST, a broad based consumption tax based on the value-added concept. The introduction of the GST is intended to improve tax compliance, through a more comprehensive, transparent and simple tax system.

‘Arson behind fire at warehouse’
16 February 2006, By New Straits Times

The much-publicised fire at Asean Security Paper Mills Sdn Bhd warehouse in Kampung Acheh in Sitiawan 17 years ago was due to arson and not spontaneous combustion. The man who planned the fire and its execution was then company chairman, N. Balasingham, the Court of Appeal ruled today. The three-member panel’s decision goes beyond attaching blame for the fire – it will save CGU Insurance Bhd RM32.4 million in claims by the security paper company. The Court of Appeal said it had established beyond a reasonable doubt that the fire was intentionally set by two persons acting on Balasingham’s instructions, judges Datuk Gopal Sri Ram, Datuk Alauddin Mohd Sheriff and Datuk Abdul Kadir said in a 107-page judgment. They said the High Court judge had misdirected himself on the facts and evidence of the case without judicial appreciation of the evidence of relevant and material witnesses. Consequently, there had been a substantial miscarriage of justice, they concurred. The judges contended that Balasingham had planned the fire and its execution with the intention of causing ASPM to make a false and fraudulent claim against CGU. The judges said this case was, on its facts, one in which the circumstantial evidence, taken as a whole, was so compelling that it had led them to the conclusion that the claim was fraudulently made. The fire on Sept 11, 1989, reduced the building and its contents to ashes. ASPM subsequently made a claim but CGU (now known as Aviva Insurance Bhd) refused to pay. In its defence, CGU said the claim was fraudulent. The judges said Balasingham was repeatedly mentioned by more than one witness in relation to the part he played in the matter. “The respondent’s (ASPM) failure to call him as a witness although he was present in court warrants the drawing of adverse inference.” they said. Balasingham, also known as B. Nithiabala, still has an outstanding criminal charge against him in the appeal stage at the Ipoh High Court. He was acquitted by the Sessions Court on Nov 26, 1997, on a charge of abetting A. Wilfred Silva and L. Mathews Selwaraja in committing mischief by setting fire to the godown. Then Sessions Court Judge Choong Siew Khim acquitted him after calling for his defence.

Court rejects RM32m claim
16 February 2006, By The Star

PUTRAJAYA: An insurance company was correct in rejecting the RM32.4mil fire insurance claim by a paper mill for property destroyed in a godown fire 17 years ago, the Court of Appeal ruled yesterday. Court of Appeal judges Justices Gopal Sri Ram, Alauddin Mohd Sheriff and Abdul Kadir Sulaiman said this was because the claim by Asean Security Paper Mills Sdn Bhd was made on the false and fraudulent ground that the fire was the result of spontaneous combustion. The three-man bench, who wrote a joint 108-page judgment said having scrutinised the evidence in this case they were satisfied that the High Court judge had misdirected himself on the facts and evidence. “To sum up, this was a case in which there was no judicial appreciation of the evidence of relevant and material witnesses,” said Justice Sri Ram, who headed the panel. “In consequence, there has been occasioned a substantial miscarriage of justice. It is therefore our duty as an appellate court to intervene.” The Court of Appeal ordered that the High Court decision be set aside. On May 12, 2000, the High Court ordered CGU Insurance Bhd formerly known as Commercial Union Assurance (M) Bhd to pay RM16,124,500 in fire insurance claims to Asean Security Paper Mills for property destroyed in a godown fire in 1989. Justice Datuk P.S. Gill, who was then the High Court judge, also ordered Commercial Union Assurance (M) 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 the godown of the paper mill at Kampung Acheh Industrial Estate, Sitiawan, Perak, on Sept 11, 1989 destroyed property worth RM32mil. Justice Sri Ram, who read the judgment said that when considered as a whole, the circumstances established beyond a reasonable doubt the fire was the result of an act of arson. He said there was no doubt this was a case where the warehouse was intentionally set on fire by two of the paper mill’s employees acting on the instructions of paper mill chairman B. Nithiabala. “There is also no doubt in our minds that on the evidence, considered as a whole, it was Nithiabala who planned the fire and its execution and that it was his intention to cause the respondent to make a false and fraudulent claim against the appellant (CGU Insurance),” he said

Road Safety Trust Fund gets the nod
14 February 2006, By New Straits Times

MUAR, JOHOR, Mon. The proposed Road Safety Trust Fund will be launched later this year. Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said the Cabinet had approved the fund, and talks with car and motorcycle manufacturers and importers, fuel companies and insurance firms were under way. “I have held talks with these companies, and most of them have agreed to contribute to the fund. “However, we have yet to decide on the quantum of their contribution.” Chan said it was time to set up such a fund to increase public awareness of road safety. He was speaking after visiting the Road Transport Department on Jalan Sungai Abong here today. “Road safety is not the sole responsibility of the Government. It’s a shared responsibility.” He said it was common in many countries to make specific contributions to run road safety campaigns, in which the private sector played a major role. When the proposal comes into force, the money collected will be channelled towards the fund for road safety campaigns. Chan also announced the Road Transport Department’s plan to introduce a single security application form for vehicle registration and transfers of ownership, to facilitate paperwork and data-keeping.

Insured Losses Hit Record High in 2005, say Munich Re and Swiss Re
1 February 2006, By Asia Insurance Review Feb 2006

Munich Re and Swiss Re put insured losses resulting from catastrophes at US$75 billion and US$80 billion respectively, making 2005 the costliest year ever for insurers, the companies reported. Nearly 90% of the US$80 billion sum was due to storm and storm-related flood damage, estimated Swiss Re. Both companies estimated Hurricane Katrina to cost insurers US$45 billion, making it the most expensive catastrophe ever, since Hurricane Andrew. Losses of US$79 billion, or about 88% of all insured catastrophe losses in 2005, were recorded in the US, Swiss Re added, while a further US$6 billion, or 8% of insured losses, stemmed from Europe. The unusually active and destructive hurricane season of 2005 hit Munich Re harder than previously foreseeable, said the reinsurer, leaving an overall net loss of nearly Euro 2.3 billion(US$2.7 billion). Despite the record losses, however, it remained on course to meet its result target for 2005.

Police Bust Syndicate Selling Parts Of Stolen Vehicles
8 February 2006, By BERNAMA

BATU GAJAH — Police have busted what they believe to be the biggest syndicate in Perak that stole vehicles for their parts and operated from a “workshop” fenced in with zinc sheets and camouflaged by a hut and a cowshed at a disused mining pool in Papan near here. They arrested a 40-year-old man during a raid on the illegal workshop at 11.30 am, Tuesday after monitoring the activity there for a week, and recovered three lorries, two cars and the frames of 17 trucks, cars and motorcycles worth about RM1 million. Batu Gajah District Police Chief ACP Abdul Wahab Azizul Hasan said police also found an identity card, a vehicle repossessor’s authority card and a temporary identification card in the hut. The 40-year-old man had been remanded to help in the investigation, and the police were looking for four other people who could shed more light on the syndicate’s activities, he told a news conference at his office, here. They are S. Sarawanan, 29, of 22, Jalan B/K1/3, Bandar Kinrara, Puchong, Selangor; A. Santanasamy, 40, of 171, Jalan Lintang, Sungai Siput, Perak; S. Parthiban, 35, of 63, Taman Dato Osman Aroff, Jitra, Kedah and K. Sinniah, 43, of Lot 7, Puchong, Selangor, he added. Abdul Wahab said the zinc-sheet fencing hid the workshop, hut and cowshed from the view of people passing the area. “We are investigating if there is a connection between vehicle repossessors and the syndicate,” he said, adding that some of the frames of the stripped vehicles were found in a 30-metre-deep mining pool in the area. He said it was believed that the syndicate stole the vehicles from all over the country and brought them there for stripping. On another matter, Abdul Wahab said police had identified the group of men who used parangs to attack six Road Transport Department (JPJ) enforcement officers here on Monday and had launched a manhunt for them. Between four and six men attacked the officers while they were checking a lorry that was suspected to be overloaded.

Safety levy on new vehicles: You may have to pay
3 February 2006, By New Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR, RM100 for every vehicle sold. That is how much car manufacturers and importers are going to be asked to put into a road safety fund under a Transport Ministry proposal. Several of their representatives contacted by the New Straits Times today said that they were informed of the proposal during a recent meeting with senior ministry officials. They say that they have yet to decide whether to absorb the cost or pass it on to the consumer. But they were peeved that the authorities appear to be moving faster on this proposal than on adding meat to the national automotive plan. Based on the sales of 400,835 cars last year, this scheme of contributing RM100 per vehicle sold would net the road safety fund a tidy sum of RM40 million. Sources told the NST that the proposal was being fine-tuned and was expected to be sent to the Cabinet for approval soon. It is learnt that when the proposal comes into force, the money collected will be channelled towards a fund called the “Road Safety Trust”. Money from the fund will be used to conduct road safety campaigns. The proposal may also require insurance companies and other organisations to contribute to the fund. Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy declined to elaborate on the proposal, saying that he would make an announcement later. Universiti Putra Malaysia Engineering Department head Prof Radin Umar Radin Sohadi said contribution schemes had been successfully implemented in developed countries. “In Australia, for instance, there is a body called the Transport Traffic Commission where insurance companies and other firms plough back money to educate motorists on road safety,” he said. He said the additional funding had helped the Australian Government to launch several programmes that had significantly helped to reduce accidents and save lives. “For instance, they have structured programmes and equipment to teach schoolchildren road safety and the dangers of reckless driving. Their programmes have been very successful,” added Radin.

Keeping tabs on salvaged cars
2 February 2006, By The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: SALVAGED VEHICLE. Vehicle registration cards may soon carry similar words to alert used car buyers and the authorities to vehicles that had been salvaged from nasty accidents. Insurers, who use the term Constructive Total Loss (CTL) vehicle, have proposed to the Road Transport Department (JPJ) to specifically indicate the CTL status or history of the vehicle on the registration card. CTL is an insurance term for extensively damaged vehicles that can be salvaged or repaired. Under this category insurance claims would be paid out to the vehicle owners but it would not be considered as actual total loss (ATL) – a term used for vehicles that cannot be repaired and only fit for scrap. The proposal to indicate the CTL status or a term acceptable to the JPJ comes in the wake of allegations that car theft syndicates were using the registration cards of such vehicles to dispose of stolen cars. In 2004, insurers sold or disposed of 1,664 vehicles along with their registration cards to workshops. However, it is not known how many registration cards had fallen into the hands of car theft syndicates. General Insurance Association of Malaysia (PIAM) executive director Lim Chia Fook said insurers would inform the JPJ of the sale of CTL vehicles to workshops. “In future (if the proposal is accepted), those who buy such cars will have to send them for a JPJ inspection before the vehicle is allowed on the road again,” he told The Star. “And details of CTL vehicles can be transferred electronically to the JPJ so that car theft syndicates cannot exploit this loophole to register stolen cars.” Lim added that the inclusion of such a code or term would also be beneficial to those buying used cars, and it would prevent unscrupulous car dealers from claiming that CTL vehicles were accident-free. “CTL vehicles can be repaired and reused but it will not make economic sense for the owner to repair it on his own, as the cost of doing so can be close to the sum assured,” he said. JPJ director-general Datuk Emran Kadir, when contacted, said the matter needed further discussion, as terms like ATL were used by the insurance industry, not the department. “But as long as the proposal is constructive and helpful we will be willing to look into it,” he said.

Bank Negara Awards Four New Takaful Licences
31 January 2006, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR — Bank Negara Malaysia has approved four new takaful licences, bringing to nine the number of takaful operators in the country. The licences were awarded to consortiums and joint ventures of HSBC Insurance (Asia-Pacific) Holdings Limited, Jerneh Asia Berhad and Employees Provident Fund; Hong Leong Bank, Millea Asia Private Limited, Japan, and Hong Leong Assurance; Bank Simpanan Nasional and Prudential Holdings Limited; and MAA Holdings Bhd and Solidarity Co., Bahrain. This followed the announcement by the central bank in May last year that up to four new takaful licences will be issued to qualified applicants. In line with the current shareholding policy, the new takaful operators are permitted to have foreign equity interest of up to 49 per cent. The existing five takaful operators are Syarikat Takaful Malaysia Bhd, Takaful Nasional Sdn Bhd, Maybank Takaful Bhd, Takaful Ikhlas Sdn Bhd and Commerce Takaful Bhd.

Insurance Claims For Road Accidents Up 4 Pct To RM1.602 Bln
25 January 2006, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR — Net claims incurred by general insurers for bodily injury and property damage due to road accidents increased four percent to RM1.602 billion in the first nine months of 2005 compared to RM1.542 billion in the same period in 2004. General Insurance Association of Malaysia’s executive director Lim Chia Fook said the general insurance industry shared the concerns of the government and all other responsible road users about the impact of road accidents on the individual and at the national level. “Statistics show that accident rates will increase, especially during long festival holidays like Hari Raya and Chinese New Year unless effective and proactive measures are taken by the authorities and road users themselves to prevent road accidents,” Lim said in statement Wednesday. He said according to police’s statistics, fatalities from road accidents during the festive seasons have increased despite the government’s constant reminders to the people to adhere to traffic rules and to give priority to road safety when driving. Lim said the association believed that each individual could make a difference and would urge all motorists to adopt a positive road safety attitude in order to ensure their own safety and the safety of other road users. The association, he added, advised all road users to drive with extra caution and practise safe driving measures.

Jail for US ‘chilli finger’ pair
18 January 2006, By BBC News

A couple who planted a human finger in a bowl of chilli in the hope of gaining compensation from Wendy’s fast food chain have been jailed in California. Anna Ayala, 39, was sentenced to nine years and her husband Jaime Placencia, 43, will serve 12 years, four months. Ayala’s false allegation was said to have cost the third-largest US burger chain $2.5m (£1.4m) in lost sales. The woman had claimed she had bitten into the finger at a Wendy’s restaurant in San Jose, California, in March 2005. Investigators later found the finger belonged to construction worker Brian Rossiter, who had lost it in an industrial accident and sold it to Mr Placencia for $100. Ayala gave a tearful apology to her friends and Wendy’s employees before she and her husband were taken into custody by baliffs at the San Jose court. “Greed and avarice overtook this couple,” said Superior Court Judge Edward Davila, adding that the pair had “lost their moral compass”. The two pleaded guilty in September to conspiracy to file a false insurance claim and attempted grand theft with damages exceeding $2.5m (£1.4m) Forensic tests showed that Ayala had not bitten the finger as she had claimed. And police documents revealed she had sued a number of corporations in the past, sometimes settling out of court in return for a payout. The fast food chain always insisted that the finger did not originate at one of its establishments as no staff had lost a digit and no suppliers had reported any accidents involving hands. It said it had to sack employees because of the loss in sales as a result of the negative publicity.

53,000 Vehicle Owners More Than Three Months Behind In Loan Repayment
16 January 2006, By BERNAMA

PUTRAJAYA — Owners of 53,000 motor vehicles in the country are in arrears of more than three months in repaying their loans to financial institutions totalling RM3.1 billion. The number of vehicles do not include another 15,000 which have been repossessed, said Secretary-General of the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry Datuk Seri Talaat Hussain. He said this to reporters after a meeting to discuss public complaints that car repossessors were using “gangster” tactics. Present were representatives of Bank Negara, the Association of Banks, Association of Finance Companies and Association of Hire Purchase Companies. Talaat said the representatives of financial institutions agreed to take action against car repossessors who contravened their code of ethics and behaved like gangsters, and so far they had terminated the contracts of 62 car repossessors. He said the names of these car repossessors were blacklisted and circulated to all financial institutions. Talaat said there were 3,000 companies that could be used to repossess vehicles whose owners were in arrears in repaying their loans but only half of them were active. He said the ministry received 102 complaints from consumers and Bank Negara another 100 over dissatisfaction with car repossessors and the financial institutions which employed them. There were also vehicle owners who roughed up car repossessors to the extent of causing injuries, with three deaths reported, he added.

RTD’s e-Ownership System To Be Implemented Nationwide Jan 16
12 January 2006, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR — The e-Ownership system of the Road Transport Department (RTD) to verify the entry and cancellation of vehicle ownership claims electronically will be implemented in the whole country from Jan 16. RTD Director-General Datuk Emran Kadir said the system would be implemented for all members, non-members and users of the Financial Institution Service (FIS) excluding the government, statutory bodies, organisations and corporate sectors. He said FIS Data Link Sdn Bhd had been appointed by the Transport Ministry as the “gateway provider” for the e-Ownership project. All the parties involved and those who wished to use the e-Ownership service should complete a form and provide a RM200 refundable deposit to FIS Data Link, he said in a statement Thursday. Emran said a fee of RM2 for motorcycles and RM3 for other motor vehicles is imposed for each entry and cancellation of ownership claim transaction made via e-Ownership. He said the transaction could be made at any RTD office that handled registration and transfer of vehicle ownership. The cancellation of ownership claim for which the entry claim was made before the introduction of the system would continue to be made manually, he added. The system was implemented as a pilot project on Aug 1 last year at the RTD office in Johor Baharu and extended nationwide on Sept 22 for members of FIS. On Dec 12, the system was opened on a trial basis to non-members and users of FIS at the RTD Johor Baharu of

Insurers asking for motor tariff review
29 December 2005, By The Star

Comment by V.K. Chin THE general insurance industry may have a case in asking for an upward revision of its tariff, which was last reviewed 28 years ago. But there is still reluctance on the part of the Government to meet this request. After nearly three decades, many things had taken place in the industry, whose number has been reduced due to takeovers and consolidation of the industry. At the same time, the number of motor vehicles on the road had gone up many times over and the accident and casualty figures had also been going up proportionately. One of the reasons for the sharp jump in the increase of new vehicles was the introduction of the national car, Proton, which made its debut in the early 1980s. The affordable prices of its models had enabled more Malaysians to buy a vehicle and in a very short time, Proton was able to capture a large slice of the local market, which used to be dominated by foreign brands. This development has resulted in the increase in the number of accidents, though motor insurers’ revenue had also gone up in tandem. Own damage and third-party claims were not the only liabilities faced by the industry. Added to their woes is the sudden increase in car thefts and models, especially of a few popular ones, which became the favourite targets of syndicates involved in this crime, for sale abroad and even locally. Dozens of cars are reportedly lost every day and the industry claims that its members paid out RM730mil for this purpose last year, which is indeed a lot of money. So far, many of the insurers had settled such claims if nothing unusual was detected. In fact, one particular model was so popular with the thieves that the sales personnel did not seem at all surprised when informed by their victims. The industry seems resigned to such activities and is trying to recover some of its losses by asking for a tariff review. Insurers just do not know how to handle this situation and have to depend on the police and other agencies to deal with this crime. But the Government has always been against any premium revision due to the large number of people affected by such a decision. The Director-General of Insurance would prefer insurers to run a tighter ship and to control their costs and finances more efficiently. Some of them could have lost a bundle due to imprudent investment and mismanagement. Fraud is a big issue due to dishonest agents who issued temporary cover just to enable their clients to renew the road tax. Once this is done, some agents will just pocket the money without forwarding the premium to their principals who will be none the wiser of such dealings until there was a claim. Still with the prices of most things going up, the industry may feel that the time may be right to take up its case and hope that this time around, they will be able to get a positive response from the regulator.

PIAM: General Insurance Records 8.2 Pct Growth
28 December 2005, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR — The general insurance industry recorded a growth of 8.2 percent in gross premiums, raking in RM8,092 million up to the third quarter of 2005 compared with an increase of 1.8 percent in the corresponding period of last year. The General Insurance Association of Malaysia (PIAM)’s chairman, Hashim Harun, attributed the growth to the positive economic performance of the nation, sound financial and business practices in the insurance industry, the adoption of a wider array of alternative distribution channels such as bancassurance, and direct marketing and the greater deployment of information technology. The marine, aviation and transit sector saw an increase of 17.5 percent in gross premiums while motor insurance saw an increase of 12.7 percent. Similarly, bonds, personal accident and workmen’s compensation & employers’ liability insurance saw an increase of 13.5 percent, 9.4 percent and 11.2 percent respectively, Hashim said in a statement Wednesday. However, the growth of medical insurance moderated to only 1.2 percent as general insurers went through a period of structural and regulatory reforms in this line of business. The industry’s overall net claims incurred ratio also showed improvement and stood at 56.3 percent in the period under review compared to 60.3 percent in the corresponding period last year, with all classes of business, except for fire and bonds, recording better net claims experience. The net claims incurred ratio for motor, the largest single class of business underwritten, showed a slight improvement at 67 percent compared with 71.8 percent for the same period last year. The successful implementation of the e-Insurance Project, the electronic link-up between insurers and the Road Transport Department in January 2005, will significantly help in reducing the premium “leakage”, Hashim said. The application of electronic cover notes to replace the physical paper-based cover-notes and the transmission of motor vehicle insurance particulars between insurers and the RTD have proven to be effective to reduce, if not eliminate the incidences of forged physical cover notes as well as improved the delivery system to the motoring public. Hashim believes the industry is poised for steady growth in 2006 in tandem with a favourable economic outlook. Medical and health insurance is expected to once again be the fastest growing sector for next year, driven by consumers’ need for protection against the escalating cost of medical care. However, vehicle theft still continues to be a problem and much work is still required to combat this menace that has been on the rise since 2000, Hashim said. “The industry estimates showed that by end 2005, the number of insured stolen vehicles would continue to escalate to approximately 30,240 with an estimated value of RM560 million. “The industry is now working closely with the police, other government agencies and the relevant private sector organisations to strengthen initiatives targeted at combating vehicle theft,” he said. PIAM is the national trade association of all licensed direct and reinsurance companies for general insurance in Malaysia. Currently, PIAM has 41 members.

PIAM: Review motor insurance
14 December 2005, By Th Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Reeling from losses arising out of claims, the insurance industry is asking that the 28-year old motor insurance tariff be reviewed. PIAM chairman Hashim Harun said the Government should consider revising the tariff to check increasing cases of car theft and allow customers to enjoy the benefits without raising the cost of insurance. “The current tariff on motor insurance was imposed in 1978. “As a result of the increase in vehicle thefts and losses by the insurance industry, a cross subsidy from other classes of business is used to pay out,” he told the National Seminar on Vehicle Theft. Federal deputy CID director Deputy Comm Datuk Mohd Nawawi Ismail said all parties directly affected by vehicle theft had to share information to prevent the sale of stolen vehicles. He said all the parties were now working on their individual databases without enough coordination and sharing of information to combat vehicle theft, which cost Malaysia RM735mil in losses last year. Road Transport Department Inspectorate director Mohammad Mokhani Abdul Rahman said more than 380,000 vehicles had been blacklisted for offences such as fake registration numbers, registration with false NRIC numbers and tampered chassis numbers. He said the JPJ had taken strategic action to improve its delivery systems.

Health plan to be modelled after Socso
14 December 2005, By The Star

KUALA KANGSAR: The proposed National Health Financing Scheme (NHFS) is likely to be modelled after the EPF and Socso schemes in which “eligible” employees make monthly payments through a deduction from the salary. An expert was now determining the category of people who would be required to make contributions, Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said. “Will it be those earning RM3,000 or RM5,000 monthly who will be designated as people who can afford to pay? The details are being determined by the expert, who will study all the implications.” He stressed that not all Malaysians need to pay for medical expenses, as the scheme was not a privatisation move. Speaking to reporters yesterday after visiting Kuala Kangsar Hospital, Chua said he did not know how some non-governmental organisations, which had criticised the scheme, had gotten the idea that it would take off next year. “The scheme is still being discussed. Who says it will be carried out in 2006?” he asked. Defending the scheme, Dr Chua said it was high time that the existing healthcare system provided at government hospitals be revamped as it was being abused by those who could actually afford to pay for their medical expenses. “There is no other system in the world like what we have here in Malaysia, where a patient just pays RM1,” he said. A group called the Coalition Against Healthcare Privatisation had noted that the Government had yet to reveal details like the quantum of payment, although the scheme would cover everyone (except civil servants, the disabled and the poor). Earlier, addressing doctors, nurses and staff of the hospital, Dr Chua said the Government’s healthcare expenditure was expected to rise to RM10bil by 2010. “We can’t go on with the present system as it won’t be sustainable,” he said, adding that medicines alone had cost the Government RM800mil this year compared with RM300mil about 10 years ago.

Causes in rise of vehicle thefts
13 December 2005, By The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Unemployment, low wages and drug addiction, along with population increase and the influx of foreign workers have been identified as the main contributors to the rise in vehicle thefts in Malaysia. “There is a significant correlation between unemployment and property crimes such as break-ins, vehicle thefts and snatch thefts,” said Selangor CID chief Senior Asst Comm (II) Datuk Hadi Ho Abdullah, who was presenting a paper titled Vehicle Theft – Crime of Opportunity at the National Seminar on Vehicle Theft held here yesterday. He added that 75% of the 38,762 known drug addicts in the country committed crimes to sustain their habit and 70% of the crimes were property crimes. Motorcycle theft formed the lion’s share of vehicle thefts, accounting for about 80% of the total every year since 2002. “The involvement of teenagers in cases of motorcycle theft is on the rise. Their involvement is quite different – they steal motorcycles for illegal racing and joyriding,” said SAC Hadi. He also said there were two types of immigrant motorcycle thieves – those who stole bikes because they could not afford to buy them and those who stole bikes and illegally exported them to neighbouring countries. To curb auto theft, he said, the public has to reduce all opportunities for criminals to strike. “The vehicle owners should never leave their vehicles unattended for long hours, for this may attract criminals,” he added. SAC Hadi said they should also take steps to install extra security devices and fuel or ignition immobilisers to prevent their vehicles from being stolen. “Collective and concerted collaboration between all enforcement agencies together with the cooperation from the public is vital in combating and addressing vehicle theft,” he added. He also said that security along the coastline and ports needed to be tightened in order to prevent stolen vehicles from being illegally exported.

Rate of solving cases doubles Interpol standard
13 December 2005, By The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian police’s rate of solving car theft cases has improved to more than double the Interpol’s 20% standard. From January to October 2005, a total of 54,808 vehicles were stolen and 23,372 of the cases (42.6%) were solved. This figure is better than the 36.97% success rate achieved last year. Car thefts had the highest solution rate, with 46.4% of the cases solved. Lorry and van thefts are the most difficult to solve, with only 31% of the cases cracked. For motorcycle thefts, the success rate stands at 43.2%. “In total, there were 608 more (vehicle theft) cases from January to October this year compared to the corresponding period last year. “Every day, 180 vehicles are stolen in Malaysia,” said Federal CID assistant director Asst Comm Abdul Halim Abdullah, who was presenting a paper entitled Vehicle Theft – Crime Trend In Malaysia at the National Seminar on Vehicle Theft yesterday. He said there were 54,808 cases of vehicle thefts this year against 54,200 last year – a 1% increase. The “hottest” state is Selangor with 16,233 vehicles stolen this year, followed by Johor (9,880). ACP Abdul Halim said that during Ops Cobra this year, 12,542 vehicles valued at RM214mil were seized “We arrested 7,361 people and busted 37 syndicates,” he said.

Number Of Illegal Vehicles Detected Alarming, Says Puspakom
13 December 2005, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR — The number of illegal vehicles detected by the Commercial Vehicles Computerised Inspection Centre (Puspakom) is expected to increase to 4,435 by end of this year, its chief executive officer and managing director Selamat Wahit said Tuesday. He said 3,326 cases were detected in the first nine months this year and added that the figure was alarming compared with only 289 cases way back in 1999. Thus, he proposed an integrated information system known as “Inspection Before Cover” between the police, Road Transport Department (JPJ) and Customs Department to deter vehicle theft and the selling of illegal vehicles. “This has been done in England, where no individual could get their insurance cover before proper inspection,” he said in a paper presented at the National Seminar on Vehicle Theft: Effective Strategies for Preventive Action here. He said that among the cases detected by Puspakom were tempered engine and chassis number and cut and joined chassis. Another speaker, Assistant Director of JPJ’s Inspectorate Division Mohamed Azlan Abdul said assistance and cooperation with agencies such as the police force was crucial to prevent such crimes. He said that up to Nov 14 this year, 387,505 vehicles were blacklisted by the JPJ. He admitted that the lack of security and integrity of data in the department’s computer system had enabled the false transactions. To overcome the problem, various steps had been taken, including the introduction of the bio-matrix system under JPJ’s ongoing Computer System Review Project which would require the use of thumbprint as a verification key for all the department’s transactions.

Twenty-Three Cars Stolen Every Day
12 December 2005, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR — An average of 23 cars, 141 motorcycles and 13 lorries and vans were stolen every day last year, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohd Bakri Omar said Monday. He said 65,076 cases of vehicle theft were reported last year which amounted to a total loss of RM753.2 million. “The police were able to solve 18,294 of the cases and recovered in terms of value RM192.88 million, which is a success rate of 28.11 per cent,” he said during his keynote address when opening the first National Seminar on Vehicle Theft to discuss effective strategies against vehicle theft, here. He said the losses incurred by the vehicle owners and insurance companies were enormous and would adversely affect the economy. Bakri said vehicle theft attempts by individuals or syndicates should be addressed by re-examining existing laws and regulations so that offenders would face stiffer penalties. In addition to sharing skills and knowledge, enforcement officers also needed to be trained in handling such cases, he said. He said the police had already set up a task force within the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) to tackle vehicle theft and related offences, including the hijacking of lorries and trucks carrying industrial goods. The role of the task force, headed by Bukit Aman CID Director Datuk Mohd Fauzi Saari, was to formulate strategies and draw up the most suitable investigation practices by emphasising on intelligence procurement and forensic investigation. Speakers from the police, Customs and Excise Department, Road Transport Department and the private sector are presenting their working papers at the two-day seminar jointly organised by the Royal Malaysia Police and the General Insurance Association of Malaysia.

Unfit Vehicles Contribute To Increase In Number Of Accidents
7 December 2005, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR — Cars that don’t comply with safety regulations are the biggest contributors to the rise in road accident rates. Puspakom’s Chief Executive Officer Salamat Wahit said ever since some financial institutions set a prerequisite that private vehicles can only be financed after being inspected by Puspakom, many vehicles were found to have compromised the safety aspects. “This problem is at a worrisome level. In the first 10 months of the year, Puspakom identified almost 3,000 from 300,000 private vehicles with problems like vehicles that had been cut and joined back, and engine and chassis numbers tampered with,” he told reporters after the Driving and Vehicle Safety for Women Seminar officiated by Women, Family and Community Development Deputy Minister Datuk G. Palanivel, here. “Based on Puspakom’s experience in inspecting commercial vehicles, the accident rate involving heavy vehicles went down by 19 percent when the safety elements in the vehicles were given emphasis,” he said. Salamat also pointed out that there are now almost five million registered private vehicles that has not gone through Puspakom’s inspection.

180 motor vehicles stolen every day
6 December 2005, By New Straits Times

Every day, 180 vehicles are stolen in the country. And the figure is climbing, with Selangor topping the list with the highest number of vehicles reported missing. In the first 10 months of this year, 54,808 vehicles were stolen nationwide compared with 54,200 during the same period last year. Worried by this trend, government agencies and the insurance industry are coming together to wage an all-out war against vehicle theft. The police, General Insurance Association of Malaysia (PIAM), Customs, the Road Transport Department, Puspakom and port authorities will gather at a seminar on Dec 12 and 13. The National Seminar on Vehicle Thefts: Effective Strategies for Preventive Action will discuss proposals that will be formulated into a joint-action plan and forwarded to the Government. Federal Criminal Investigation Department deputy director (1) Datuk Mohd Nawawi Ismail said at a Press conference today: “The seminar will allow each agency the opportunity to highlight the role it can play in combating vehicle theft.” Nawawi said an average of 180 vehicles were reported missing daily, including 26 cars, compared with 178 vehicles last year. “In the first 10 months of this year, 54,808 vehicles were stolen, of which 23,372 or 42.6 per cent were recovered, while 54,200 vehicles were stolen during the same period last year. “The increase in vehicle thefts is mainly due to a 12.9 per cent increase in cars reported stolen, rising to 8,036 missing cars from 7,120 last year,” he said. PIAM chairman Hashim Harun said vehicle thefts had cost insurance companies RM467 million. He expects this to rise to RM561.3 million by year end. Motorcycles accounted for 77 per cent of all vehicles reported stolen, with 42,288 motorcycles missing compared to 42,976 last year. Selangor (16,233 cases), Johor (9,880) and Kuala Lumpur (7,442) accounted for 61.2 per cent of all vehicles reported stolen in the country. Among the proposals is the need to tighten border controls. The seminar will also discuss the role of Puspakom in detecting stolen vehicles, an electronic and print media blitz to raise awareness, tighter controls over locksmiths, and a merger of the various authorities’ anti-vehicle theft task forces.

Vehicle Theft Tops Property Crime
5 December 2005, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR — Vehicle theft accounted for 60 per cent of the national index for crime against property in the first 10 months of the year, Bukit Aman CID Deputy Director DCP Datuk Nawawi Ismail said Monday. He said 54,808 vehicles of various types worth RM215 million were stolen from January to October compared with 54,200 in the corresponding period last year. “We need to overcome this because it involves huge losses to the owners and insurers each year,” told a news conference on a seminar on vehicle theft with the theme “Effective Strategies for Prevention Action”. The two-day seminar to be held here from Dec 12 is being jointly organised by the police and General Insurance Association of Malaysian with the support of Bank Negara Malaysia. Nawawi said motorcylces topped the list of vehicles stolen with 42,288, followed by cars (8,036) and vans and lorries (4,484). Forty-four per cent of the cases were reported in Selangor involving 19,233 vehicles, followed by Johor (9,800) and Kuala Lumpur (7,400). He also said that 42 per cent of the vehicles had been recovered but most stolen motorcylces had been smuggled out to neighbouring countries using illegal jetties or cannibalised.

No Police Report Needed For Losing Driving Licence, Road Tax Disc
1 December 2005, By BERNAMA

JOHOR BAHARU — Beginning Dec 15, people who lose their driving licence or road tax disc do not have to lodge a police report on the loss, Road Transport Department (RTD) Director General Datuk Emran Kadir said Thursday. All necessary information of the holders were in the RTD computer system, he told reporters after chairing a meeting of RTD directors from the country, here. He said those intending to replace the lost documents would have to go in person to the RTD offices. Emran also said that the RTD would focus on enforcing the law strictly in the case of motorcyclists who commit traffic offences, adding that the RTD would soon conduct checks on motorcyclists for licences and road tax discs. Motorcyclists caught without a licence would be fined RM300 and would not be allowed to ride the machine, he said, adding that they would have to get someone with a licence to take away the machine. Failure to do so would result in the machine being taken away by the RTD, he added.

Overnight Policy Rate Up By 30 Basis Points, Says Zeti
30 November 2005, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR — Bank Negara Malayasia (BNM) Governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz announced, here Wednesday that the overnight policy rate (OPR) is raised by 30 basis points to three percent. She said that the ceiling and floor rates of the corridor for the OPR are correspondingly increased to 3.25 percent and 2.75 percent, respectively. Hence, some adjustments to the deposits rate were expected and it would be determined by the banking institutions, she said after announcing the gross domestic product (GDP) third quarter figures, here Wednesday. On why it was raised, Dr Zeti said: “In the second quarter, we indicated that the risk of slower growth and the risk of higher inflation was about imbalance. “However, with current growth, we can see that the risk of slower growth has now diminished and therefore the risk of higher inflation at the current level remains.” This prompted BNM to undertake the monetary policy reform, she said. Malaysia’s GDP grew 5.3 percent from 4.4 percent in the second quarter, exceeding economists’ predictions by quite a wide margin. Following the adjustment of the interest rate, the level of OPR continues to be below its neutral level and therefore, the stance of monetary policy remains accommodative and supportive of the economy. BNM will closely monitor developments to ensure that Malaysia continues to have a sustainable economic growth in an environment of price stability. Dr Zeti said that since BNMs August Monetary Policy statement, indicators now show that the economy was stronger, and economy activity was expected to gain momentum going into the next year. These growth prospects are underpinned by strengthened domestic demand and a supportive external environment. She said inflation has edged up mainly on account of higher energy prices and other costs. “Going forward, while inflationary pressures are not expected to intensify, the rate of inflation was expected to remain at current levels for some time,” she said. Inflation in the 3Q was at 3.4 percent. Dr Zeti said that inflation was expected to remain above three percent till the first quarter

Hospital fees to be regulated
24 November 2005, By The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: A new ruling will be enforced soon to ensure that all private hospitals adhere to the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) Schedule of Fees. The Private Healthcare Services and Facilities Regulation requires private hospitals to set prices according to the schedule. Health Ministry parliamentary secretary Datuk Lee Kah Choon said the draft of the new ruling, under the Private Healthcare Services and Facilities Act, was now with the Attorney-General’s Chambers. “The MMA Schedule of Fees is now only a guideline to private hospitals, but after the ruling they must follow the schedule of fees. “Otherwise, they will be considered to be breaking the law and action, such as fines and revoking their medical practising licences, can be taken,” he said, in replying to a question by Datuk Raja Ahmad Zainuddin Raja Omar (BN – Larut) in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday. Lee said the regulations were implemented based on a study of fees charged by private hospitals, clinics and dentists. To a supplementary question by Lau Yeng Peng (BN – Puchong), Lee said there could not be a separation of the right of prescription in Malaysia. “This is because we are lacking in pharmacists and those living in the rural areas will also have problems looking for pharmacists, who are mostly based in towns,” he said.

Reckless driver jailed, fined RM8,000
22 November 2005, By The Star

KUALA BERANG: A man who was issued 12 summonses for driving offences within the space of 30 minutes earlier this month, was sentenced to 10 months’ jail and fined RM8,000 by the magistrate’s court here. Magistrate Engku Ahmad Rashdi Engku Abdillah also ordered the driving licence of Tengku Mohamad Hanafiah Che Engku Abdul Ghani, 30, suspended for three years. Engku Abdillah in handing down the sentence said: “The heavy sentence is also meant to deter others from doing the same.” The court was told that the accused had committed a series of traffic offences from Kuala Terengganu to Kuala Berang from 1.40am to 2.10am on Nov 6. In Kuala Terengganu at 1.40am he almost knocked into a patrol car in Jalan Banggol when reversing his car along the one-way street. The accused refused to heed an order to stop, speeding off towards Kuala Berang instead. During the police chase that ensued the accused beat nine traffic lights, weaved in and out of traffic and overtook on double lines before he was finally caught. In mitigation Tengku Mohamad Hanafiah pleaded for a lenient sentence, promising never to repeat his offences. Chief Insp Azman Tubin who appeared for the prosecution urged the court to impose heavy punishment as what Tengku Mohamad Hanafiah had done was against the government’s efforts to reduce road accidents. Prior to this, on Nov 9, Tengku Mohamad Hanafiah and a friend Tuan Mohd Nazai Tuan A. Bakar, 25, who was his passenger at the time of the incident, were charged in the same court for consuming drugs. However, no plea was recorded.

Loading may help reduce accidents
22 November 2005, By The Star

THE Government should go ahead with its proposal to punish reckless drivers by forcing them to pay either a higher loading for their insurance premiums or even to deprive repeat offenders of such coverage. This is the latest move being considered by the Government to ensure that motorists observe the traffic rules aimed at reducing the number of accidents and road fatalities. This is not an exactly new concept as general insurers have been using this method not only to change the driving habits of their insured but to reduce the high cost of claims. However, in this loading the insurers will fix an amount, and if the claims, especially for own damage, fall below it, the insured will have to pay for the repairs to their vehicles themselves. The loading can come to quite a high figure especially where luxury cars are concerned so that the owners will not be able to abuse their insurance cover. To encourage good driving, the insured will be entitled to a no-claim bonus, which can go as high as 55% of the premium, for not making any claims after a number of years. It is ironic that when the industry first introduced this policy, it was being criticised for passing the buck to the insured. But with the high number of accidents, resulting from more vehicles being sold each year, the industry has no choice but to resort to this unpopular action. It is interesting that the Government is mulling over this idea as a way to ensure good road conduct. It should get the support of the insurance industry since this is in line with its practice. Due to the high claims of commercial vehicles, one insurer has already decided not to renew the coverage of this sector. The industry cannot keep on using its motor premiums to subsidise such claims. It may sound a bit drastic that the Government is ready to consider treating dangerous drivers of private vehicles the same way. This will impose considerable hardship for this group of reckless drivers who are not afraid to break the law. Without insurance cover, the car owners will not be able to renew their road tax and it will be illegal for their vehicles to be on the road without this disc. It is a method that the Government should look into immediately and to hold meetings with relevant parties on how best to go about it. However, it will need to handle this with care since it will have a serious impact on the motoring public. It must make sure that the punishment fits the crime and that at the same time the insurance industry will not abuse the Government’s good intention.

Proposal to make errant motorists pay higher premiums
21 November 2005, By The Star

PETALING JAYA: Hardcore traffic offenders, better think twice if you are still bent on ignoring the law. You may soon find yourselves facing a hefty loading on your insurance policies for joining the ranks of the accident-prone. And certain groups of repeat offenders may actually be denied coverage altogether. The moves come under a proposal the Government is looking at to force motorists who chalk up summonses blithely or refuse to change their attitude even after being hauled to court to think about safety. It is learnt that the proposal is targeted at those who commit serious offences such as speeding, beating traffic lights, queue cutting, reckless driving and overtaking on double lines. Road Safety Department director-general Suret Singh, who confirmed that the Government was mulling over the proposal, said bad drivers must be penalised. “Eventually, those who flout traffic rules will have to pay the price,” he said, adding that the Government was working with insurers and other relevant groups to implement the proposal as early as next year. Certain insurance companies now impose loading of between 5% and 150% based on the age of vehicles and frequency of claims but not on the number of offences committed by the insured. General Insurance Association of Malaysia executive director Lim Chia Fook said the proposal was one of a range of measures being looked at to increase road safety awareness and reduce accidents. “The insurance industry will support the move as it is a reasonable underwriting procedure to distinguish between high-risk drivers and the safer ones,” he said. He noted that in the United States, drivers in the high-risk group faced heavier loading if they were involved in accidents. “Because it becomes expensive if they are reckless, people think about driving safely.” Traffic offenders who refused to change, he added, must be taken off the road. According to Lim, underwriters will look at the various types of information available, including the frequency of summonses, the number of compound fines paid and the gravity of the offences. The proposal, he added, was viable and timely. “So the various agencies need to sit down and come up with a fair and effective mechanism to implement it to promote a safe driving culture in the country,” he said. Road Transport Department (JPJ) director-general Datuk Emran Kadir said his department would gladly supply the names of serious traffic offenders to insurers. “It is the right of insurance companies to impose loading or even deny serious offenders coverage as they are the ones who pay out when an accident happens,” he added. The JPJ’s online link with insurance companies under the e-insurance cover note system, he said, would allow easy exchange of information on offenders. However, he added: “I will support this move, but a driver who has repented and stopped committing dangerous offences should not be continuously penalised by insurers.”

Parents to pay for underage drivers’ folly
14 November 2005, By New Straits Times

Parents will have to pay for the folly of underage children driving their vehicles into accidents. The registered owner will be hauled to court along with his or her child and charged with negligence in the care of their vehicles. Under Section 39 of the Road Transport Act 1987, the parent and the child can be fined up to RM2,000 or six months’ jail, or both. Underage drivers can also be barred from sitting for the driving test for two years. The Road Transport Department has decided to come down hard on underage children and their parents in light of the recent incidents involving young drivers. RTD enforcement chief Solah Mat Hassan said the authorities would no longer entertain “excuses” from parents that they had no knowledge of their children taking their vehicles for a ride. “No matter what their excuse, parents of underage children involved in accidents will be taken to court. They must be made responsible for their children’s actions. “The question of parents claiming to not know that their children were behind the wheel or riding motorcycles does not arise.” Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Musa Hassan had said that motorcyclists under 16 and riding without a licence contributed to the high death toll on the roads. Solah said RTD regulations dictated that registered owners were fully responsible for their vehicles On Wednesday, a 13- year-old boy, with two schoolmates, drove his mother’s Proton Waja to Alor Star, about 40km from his home in Taman Belimbing Indah, Kuala Nerang. Midway, the joyride turned into a tragedy when the boy lost control and collided with a motorcyclist. The boy escaped serious injury but fishmonger Noor Khairul Nizam Wan Ahmad, 22, died of head injuries. Police said it was the boy’s first attempt at driving the car on a public road.

THE MALAYSIAN DEATH WISH: 144,824 summonses issued
12 November 2005, By New Straits Times

They were advised to drive safely during the Hari Raya and Deepavali festive period. They were warned of the dire consequences of driving recklessly. Two thousand traffic policemen were deployed, most of them along accident-prone stretches of roads, as a reminder to the kamikaze drivers that the law was watching. And yet, a record number of road users, particularly motorcyclists, did not make it back to their hometowns or kampungs for the festive occasion. The conclusion is this: For as long as there are people carrying a death wish, no number of road safety campaigns and traffic operations will save them. Deputy Inspector General of Police Datuk Seri Musa Hassan said too many road users continued to flout traffic rules as evidenced by the record number of summonses issued: 144,824 in the last 15 days. “No amount of enforcement can prevent accidents from happening if motorists and motorcyclists do not change their mindset and start obeying traffic laws,” he said at the Federal police headquarters in Bukit Aman today. Musa presented the final accident and fatality figures for Ops Sikap IX which ended yesterday. The operation, which began on Oct 27, set a record for the number of fatalities with 233 deaths recorded, surpassing the 200 deaths in Ops Sikap VII during last year’s Hari Raya Aidilfitri and 173 during Ops Sikap V in 2003. Accidents on federal roads claimed 102 lives, nearly half of the fatalities during the 15-day operation, 23 deaths on highways, 67 on state roads, 27 on town roads and 14 on other roads. Musa said their studies found that motorists continued to speed after getting off highways, where the speed limit is 110kph, and on to the 80kph trunk roads. “They find it hard to adjust to the lower speed limit resulting in more fatal accidents on federal roads than on any other road,” he said. There were 141 fatalities involving motorcyclists and their pillion riders, 55 motorists or passengers, 17 pedestrians and 20 in other vehicles. Motorcyclists below the age of 30 accounted for 60 per cent of fatalities. Musa said most were under 16 and riding without a licence, contributing to the high death toll this year. The number of accidents also set a record of 13,462, compared with 11,609 crashes last year and 12,165 in 2003. Selangor had the highest number of accidents for the second consecutive year with 3,184 accidents, followed by Johor (1,713), Perak (1,392), Kuala Lumpur (1,345) and Penang (1,269). Musa said the increase in accidents was due to a greater number of vehicles on the roads with an estimated 1.2 million to 1.8 million motorists and motorcyclists having travelled during this period. “However, the ratio of deaths for every 10,000 registered vehicles has declined from a ratio of 7.37 in 1997 to 4.52 in 2004,” the last year for which statistics were available, he said. “This figure is higher than the Road Safety Department’s target of four deaths per 10,000 vehicles and the developed world’s average rate of three deaths.”

Careless Drivers Push Up Ops Sikap IX Statistics
11 November 2005, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR, — Careless drivers contributed most for the accident statistics during Ops Sikap IX that ended Thursday, said Deputy Inspector General of Police Datuk Seri Musa Hassan. “No patience and the urge to go fast causes the driver to lose all considerations on safety and traffic laws which in turn leads to accidents,” he said during a press conference on Ops Sikap IX in Bukit Aman, Friday. Musa said this can be seen from the causes of accidents recorded during Ops Sikap IX with drivers losing control of their vehicles representing 28 percent of the accidents, the highest compared to other factors. This was followed by cutting into another vehicles’ lane (18.7 %), trying to overtake another vehicle (15.5 %), failing to realise another vehicle approaching (7.3 %), careless when turning at junctions (7.0 %) and careless when crossing the roads (5.2 %). The others are driving against traffic (1.9 %), tired or sleepy (1.4 %), beating traffic lights (1.0 percent), racing (1.0 percent) and others (7.5 percent). Musa said the higher number of vehicles on road due to the double celebrations of Deepavali and Hari Raya also contributed to this year’s higher death toll. “We found that more than one million vehicles were on the road during the recent double celebrations. In conclusion, the more number of cars, more accidents happen,” he said. The total number of accidents recorded during Ops Sikap IX that began on Oct 27 is 13,462, an increase of 1,853 or 15.9 percent higher compared to 11,609 during Ops Sikap VIII last year. Fatal accidents also rose by 39 cases or 22.5 percent to 212 this year compared to 173 cases last year. The number of deaths rose by 33 to 233 compared to the previous year. A total of 10 deaths were recorded on the last day of Ops Sikap IX Thursday. Selangor recorded the highest death toll with 3,184 accidents, followed by Johor (1,713), Perak (1,392), Kuala Lumpur (1,345), Penang (1,269), Kedah (747), Negeri Sembilan (701), Pahang (682), Kelantan (505), Terengganu (484), Sabah (478), Sarawak (456), Melaka (448) and Perlis (58). Accidents involving motorcycle riders and pillion were the highest with 141 cases, followed by car drivers and passengers (55), pedestrians (17), cyclist (8), taxi (3), lorry (3), jeep (2), bus (1) and others (one case). Musa said most of the motorcycle accidents involve underaged riders who neither have licence nor experience when driving on roads. “I’m advising parents not to allow children without driving licence to ride motorcycles,” he said. During the Ops Sikap IX, police issued a total of 144,824 summonses for various traffic offences. In KOTA SAMARAHAN (Sarawak), Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Mohamed Bakri Omar who was asked on the Ops Sikap statistics said drivers and riders can only blame themselves if they were involved in road accidents during the festive season. He said the government, authorities and media have taken various steps to prevent road accidents and instil safe driving attitudes, yet the number of road accidents and road deaths could not be reduced. “We need something better. Police have taken all the efforts and the rest is up to drivers and riders, if they can’t be bothered of all the advise and efforts… what is the use of these campaigns?

160,000 unlicensed motorists endangering people’s lives
9 November 2005, By The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Almost 160,000 unlicensed motorists – potentially a menace to themselves and other road users – were caught by police in the last 11 months. And the authorities believe that the actual number could be a whole lot bigger. Although the police do not have figures on the number of accidents caused by unlicensed motorists, 13 of those killed in accidents during the recent festive period were motorcyclists without licences. Greatly concerned over the matter, the Road Safety Department is seeking stiffer punishment for such offenders to reduce their number. Police statistics show that from Jan 1 to Nov 6, 159,774 summonses were issued to people found driving and riding motorcycles without licences, including 2,822 under-aged offenders. The juveniles comprised 2,755 motorcyclists, 62 car drivers and even five lorry drivers. “This number may just be the tip of a very large iceberg,” said Federal traffic chief Senior Asst Comm II Datuk Gingkoi Seman Pancras. He said that unlicensed motorists were more prevalent in rural areas, villages and the city outskirts. During the recent Ops Sikap IX, he said, more than 10% of the motorcyclists killed were found to be “kiddie” riders without licences. “Everybody should play their part in curbing this problem,” he said. “For example, parents should not allow their children to drive cars or ride motorcycles if they don’t have a licence.” Road Safety Department director-general Suret Singh said the increasing amount of unlicensed drivers was a cause of “extreme concern.” “The 13 unlicensed motorcyclists who died during the festive period represented a significant percentage of the total fatalities. “The existing penalties are not stringent enough and we have to take a look at them again,” he said, adding that the department would be conducting awareness campaigns on the matter. Echoing SAC II Gingkoi, he said: “We will also be talking to parents, because these under-aged children should not be on the roads.”

Another Three Car Theft Syndicates Identified In Sarawak
1 November 2005, By BERNAMA

KUCHING,– Police have identified at least another three syndicates involved in car thefts in Sarawak, State Police Commissioner Datuk Talib Jamal said Tuesday. He said he had asked the state Criminal Investigation Department to prepare case files on the syndicates’ activities to be sent to Bukit Aman for follow-up action. Their successful identification was a result of intensive investigations on private passenger car and four-wheel-drive vehicle thefts which had risen since early this year, he said. Investigations on the syndicates are continuing, he told Bernama. Prior to this, police detained 11 people, including three ex-policemen and two former armed forces personnel, under the Emergency Ordinance for their involvement in vehicle thefts in Sarawak. They were sent to the Simpang Renggam detention centre in Johor last Saturday, he said. He said their detention was approved by the Home Ministry and this was the first time that the Emergency Ordinance was invoked for detaining perpetrators of vehicle thefts in Sarawak. He said police were also taking action on prostitution racketeers and gangsters, including secret societies, throughout Sarawak. He said raids would be carried out from time to time to keep vice and criminal activities in check.

Ruthless car-jackers on the run
31 October 2005, By New Straits Times

The country’s most ruthless gang of car-jackers is on the run. Four members of the gang were arrested recently and have been sent to the Simpang Renggam detention centre, while the search is on for seven other suspects. Not only did the gangsters make off with luxury vehicles, they also terrorised their victims, taking them for long journeys and threatening to kill them. In one case, gang members chopped off the finger of an accountant, while in at least two other cases, they threatened to rape their victims’ wives. Police believe the gang was behind at least 20 car-jackings. In all the cases, BMWs, Porsches, Mercedes-Benzs and Toyota Harriers were targeted. The gang was well organised, able to steal and get a vehicle ready for export within three hours. In January, an executive who had just picked up his wife and their newborn child from a medical centre was slashed before the car-jackers drove off with his new Toyota Harrier. In February, a senior manager was stopped by members of the gang who commandeered his sports utility vehicle and drove him around for several hours, making threats to kill him and discussing how they would get rid of his body. He was finally dropped off in a plantation. Several days later, another SUV was reported stolen from a company. Both vehicles were traced to a showroom in Jakarta, but went missing before they could be reclaimed. In March, the gang chopped off an accountant’s finger to get around his Mercedes’ hi-tech fingerprint-recognition security system. Accountant K. Kumaran’s ordeal began when he was run down by four men in a small car as he was about to get into his Mercedes in a Kuala Lumpur suburb. The gang, armed with parangs, demanded the keys to his car. The attackers forced Kumaran to put his finger on the security panel to start the vehicle, bundled him into the back seat and drove off. But having stripped the car, the thieves wanted to restart it and found they could not bypass the immobiliser, which needs the owner’s fingerprint to be disarmed. They cut off the end of Kumaran’s index finger with a parang and left him naked by the side of the road. In following months, more car-jackings were reported in the Klang Valley. Police said the leader of the gang is the son of a feared gangster who was wanted for the kidnapping of finance company executive Midori Lim Boh Sun in 1993 and Cathay Pacific air stewardess T. Vethavathi in 1990. Neither person has been found. A tip-off led to police arresting the leader of the car-jacking gang at a toll booth on the North-South Expressway. Based on his information, three other gang members were picked up.

Cops, soldiers in car ring banished
31 October 2005, By New Straits Times

Three policemen and two soldiers have been banished for two years for their part in stealing more than 100 vehicles here to be sold in Kalimantan. In all, 11 members of the car theft ring, including the civilian mastermind and his wife, have been banished to the Simpang Renggam detention centre in Johor. With the help of the policemen and soldiers, the syndicate had been driving the stolen vehicles through the Lubok Antu border crossing in Sri Aman. Sources said police faced difficulty in prosecuting them because the vehicles had been sold in Kalimantan. Sarawak police commissioner Datuk Jamal Talip confirmed that the Internal Security Ministry had approved the Sarawak police’s recommendation for their detention under the Emergency Ordinance 1969. The 11 were flown to Johor yesterday, accompanied by Deputy Superintendent Abang Junaidi Abang Annuar of the Sarawak police anti-vice, gambling and gangsterism unit. The syndicate had been operating in Kuching and Sri Aman over the last year, stealing mostly four-wheel-drives, to be sold in Kalimantan at low prices. Their activities surfaced when a policeman was found with a stolen vehicle in his possession in August. The lance corporal and a civilian were stopped at a roadblock in Lubok Antu. They could not produce ownership documents, and were arrested. The vehicle had been reported stolen at Kota Sentosa, near here, the day before. Their arrests led to the other members of the syndicate. Police also seized computers and compact discs containing records of transactions and fake certificates of registration.

Two-week permits for 400 buses to cope with big rush
24 October 2005, By The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: About 400 buses will be issued temporary permits to ferry passengers for the big rush home next week in conjunction with the Deepavali and Hari Raya Aidilfitri holidays. Most of the vehicles would be tour, school and factory buses. Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said school and factory bus operators who wanted to obtain these two-week temporary permits would have to have their buses checked by Puspakom. He said bus drivers would also have to submit a medical report, done not more than a year ago at an authorised medical practitioner, when submitting their applications to the Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board. “Priority will be given to tour buses,” Chan told a press conference yesterday. The minister said the issuance of additional bus permits was in line with the Government’s campaign to encourage the public, particularly, motorcyclists to use public transport during the coming festive period. Chan also said RTD and the police would station additional personnel, especially at the 300-odd accident-prone black spots to ensure road users obeyed traffic laws. He said heavy vehicles would again be barred from using the main roads during the festive season as the move last year saw a reduction in deaths linked to accidents. “We recorded 200 deaths for the two-week festive season last year compared with 241 fatalities over the same period in 2003, so the restriction on heavy vehicles will again be imposed,” said Chan.

856 stolen m-cycles found
20 October 2005, By New Straits Times

Police recovered 856 motorcycles, believed stolen, from three rented godowns in the Subang industrial area following the arrest of three men today. One of those detained was the mastermind of a syndicate behind the thefts. Investigations revealed the syndicate targeted mostly machines left at accident sites. The motorcycles are then cannibalised for parts. The syndicate has been active over the past five years. The mastermind, who runs a workshop, and his two accomplices, aged between 40 and 50, were arrested about 5.30pm by a police party which had kept the area under surveillance for two weeks. The men were unloading four motorcycles from a jeep when the police team moved in. It is learnt the motorcycles were involved in accidents today and left by the roadside by their owners. District police chief Assistant Commissioner Muhd Fuad Talib said so far, 30 of the motorcycles recovered had been confirmed stolen. “The process of identifying the rest will take some time as most have had their registration numbers removed.” Fuad said the police were looking into the possibility that the syndicate could have obtained some of the motorcycles from other parties. The men were remanded for six days to facilitate investigations and will be charged with stealing and possessing stolen goods.

Panel Studies Concept And Legislation On GST
18 October 2005, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR — The Taxation System Review Panel is studying and drawing up the concept, legislation and other aspects on the Goods and Services Tax (GST) which will be introduced by the government from January 2007. Finance Ministry Parliamentary Secretary Datuk Dr Hilmi Yahaya said the panel which comprised representatives from the private and public sectors had prepared discussion papers on the proposed GST model. He said the discussion papers were based on the consultations and discussions carried out throughout the country starting from July 18 until September this year. “The aim of holding the consultation was to explain the GST to the relevant quarters and to obtain their views on ways to improve the GST model which will be implemented,” he said replying to Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamad (BN-Pulai) on the status of implementation of the GST in the Dewan Rakyat, Monday. The panel, formed in January this year was, among others, is entrusted with the review of the provisions under several taxation laws including the Income Tax Act 1967. Dr Hilmi said the panel secretariat was currently studying the views contained in 90 memorandum received from the private and public sectors on the GST model. The government was also studying the proposal to reduce the 28 percent corporate tax as this could mean a loss of RM1 billion if the government cut the tax by one percent, he said.