Saturday, February 17, 2007

CHINESE NEW YEAR-18th FEB 07- Happy New Year Greetings to One & All Celebrating Locally & Overseas; MAY EVERY STEP You Take BE a HIGHER ONE

ABOVE: Logo Adapted from Kickdefella

ABOVE: The Largest "Nien Ko" (CNY Year Cake") you can buy (in KL Petaling Street) ...more pics loading for those interested .. Check back

Gong Xi Fa Cai!!

Xin Nien Jin Bu (May the New Lunar Year bring us progress).

Wan Shi Ru Yi (Everything is just as what you wish)

Wo Men Du Shi Yi Jia Ren (We are all one family)

Po Jiu Lin Xin (Break the old and establish the new

(credits to Penarik Beca)

Chinese New year falls on 18th Feb 2007 and almost all Malaysians of Chinese decents would be celebrating. To the rich and well to do, everyday is CNY day and to the poor it is one day they look forward to.

For the affordable, you can have a home-cook 7- course reunion dinner for more than 4 for RM200 (with leftovers) but it is handwork and you need some cooking skills. A similar dinner (at a restaurant) would cost probably double the amount you pay for the ingredients. But you can walk-in and walk-out without lifting a finger and eat in comfort.

ABOVE: A typical 7-course dinner, TOP right; Big Prawns (RM35, 13 pcs 1/2 Kg); 1/2 Roast Duck (RM18); Promfet (RM70 1kg +); Gingko Kai Choy (Rm10); Kow Yoke (Siew Yoke & Yam slices) (RM25); Kampung Chicken (RM18) & Yee Sang (RM24) & BELOW ( The "low hei" for 4 with plenty of left overs. It is doubtful the restaurant could give you value for money

And what did PM Abdulalh said “Malaysians are fortunate to be able to celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year (CNY) amid peace and in a warm, friendly and joyous atmosphere” Details H E R E.

What he forgot to add is that the poor Malaysian Chinese – the “ta kong chais” or wage earners are “celebrating” with empty pockets full of holes punctured by the government senseless hikes in all the essential basic necessities with the hike in all the prices of utilities & fuel.. What is there to celebrate with no buying power? Look around in the neglected Chinese dominated areas and villages of KL and you can hear the sob stories – “see si, ng ho” – literally in Cantonese – Times are no good. The vast majority surviving ; and many on”roti canai” breakfast. Cannot even afford that plate or bowl of wantan mee; the prices have shot up to RM3.50 – RM4.00 depending on areas. So what to do? Tighten the belt further.

ABOVE & BELOW: At the Store Supermarket, located Pudu Plaza, Pudu, Feb 1st 07 barely two weeks before the CNY, you will find more goods than people buying; the crowds were no longer there. All their pockets are sick - empty. You can drive up and find the parking lots are not fully occupied most of the time.

= = = == == = == == = == == = == == ==
ABOVE:: In contrast, the Giant Supermart, Ulu Kelang, 11 Feb 07, a week before CNY; ALL the lower prices and variety are there and BELOW: The check out counters are full and you can spot only one "pony-tail" non-Malay. Who are the people with the cash and buying powers?

And to compound the problem, that well-fed and well-spoken Feng Shui Good Luck Gold Charmer has ordained that in this year of the Pig (or Boar), on no account must you welcome the “Choy Sun Yea” – the God of Prosperity as the God would turned out to be a “Hock Sun - an evil one. So the poor Chinese would be poor in the coming year without a glimmer of hope for some prosperity. So want to do? Buy 4-ekor (4 Digit lottery) to try your luck, and you will encounter a lost-lost situation always no win. Unlike the concessionaires theirs is a sure win-win and win again formula with all the help our Samy Vellu.

The situation is bad this year for sales. In the whole of Petaling Street, you can hardly find a pot of the "lime-trees" or kut. Though flowers are aplenty but sales were reportedly slugglish.

ABOVE & BELOW: The traditional florists along Jalan Sultan were stocking up with all sorts of varieties and the wishy washy willow "lan fa" were a plenty with no takers.
= = == = = == = == = = == = == = = == = = =
ABOVE: The Lime tree (Kut) can be found in abundance in the Sugai Buloh nursery (RM35 - RM38 per pot)and BELOW: the unique and decorative "Chun Chee" -Pearl plant with purple coloured berries which have medicinal value; rtetailing RM88

= == = == =and how is the CNY celebrated across the Nation

February 18, 2007 17:13 PM

M'sian Chinese Usher In Lunar New Year Amid Robust Economy

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 18 (Bernama) -- Malaysian Chinese Sunday ushered in the Lunar Year amid the robust economic growth with hopes of enjoying greater prosperity all year round. As usual, the celebration began with a family dinner during which they mixed special "Yee Sang" dish which symbolises harmony and prosperity. Many also held open houses for friends of various races as well as relatives. In the capital, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his deputy, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, spent time with people from all walks of life who came to the open houses hosted by MCA and Gerakan. The thousands of people including foreign tourists who were there, were entertained by the lion dance performance which is a must in every Chinese New celebration.

In SELANGOR, there were not many cars on the roads as most Chinese were celebrating the new year at home with their families. The state-level Chinese New Year open house will be held at the Dong Zen Temple in Jenjarom, Kuala Langat, on Feb 20. Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo and state executive council members are expected to join about 30,000 guests including from overseas in the celebration.

In JOHOR, the recent massive floods did not dampen the sentiment of the Chinese to greet the new year with full of joy. Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman and wife Datin Prof Jamilah Ariffin and about 300 people were at the open house hosted by the Johor Baharu Chinese Federation at Wisma Tionghua.

In MELAKA, the Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Mohd Khalil Yaakob and wife Toh Puan Zurina Kassim attended the Chinese New Year open house hosted by state MCA at the Pay Fong Hall. Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam who was also there, said the state's economy that remained solid had given comfort to the people and the Melaka government had drawn up various programmes to woo more investors to the state this year.
In NEGERI SEMBILAN, Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan and wife Raja Datin Seri Salbiah Tengku Nujumudin were among 3,000 guests at the open house jointly hosted by state MCA and Gerakan at the Seremban Municipal Council hall.
It was the third time, the Barisan Nasional component parties hosted Chinese New Year open house jointly.
During the function, Mohamad called on the people to strengthen the solidarity so as to ensure the country's continued development and it remained peaceful.
In TERENGGANU, Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh and Toh Puan Seri Che Kamariah Zakaria and about 1,000 people were at Sekolah Rendah Chung Hwa Wei Sin in Kuala Terengganu to celebrate the Chinese New Year. The weather was fine even though now was the rainy season. In PERAK, Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Tajol Rosli Ghazali and wife Datin Seri Kamariah Mokri went to the open house hosted by MCA secretary-general Datuk Ong Ka Chuan who is also state MCA chairman in Rapat Setia.
About 2,500 people including state executive council members and assemblymen were there. Traffic in Ipoh, meanwhile, was smooth but shopping complexes were packed with people especially foreign workers who took time off from work.

In KEDAH, Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid and wife Datin Seri Noraini Abdullah attended the open house hosted by state MCA at Sekolah Menengah Keat Hwa before proceeding to the one by Gerakan at Starcity Hotel in Alor Star. In SARAWAK, the Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Abang Muhammad Salahuddin Abang Barieng and wife Toh Puan Norkiah Abdullah as well as Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and wife Puan Sri Laila Taib were at the Sarawak United People's Party headquarters in Kuching for the open house hosted by the party. They also went to the open house hosted by the Kuching Selatan City Council. Tomorrow, Abdul Taib was expected to go to several open houses hosted by Chinese community leaders in Miri.
In PENANG, about 20,000 people including foreign tourists came to the Chinese New Year open house hosted by Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon and state executive council members at Kota Cornwallis. Also present were the Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas and Toh Puan Majimor Shariff, members of Parliament and foreign diplomats.

In SABAH, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman attended several open houses in Sandakan.Among them were those hosted by State Infrastructure Development Minister Datuk Raymond Tan Shu Kiah, assemblyman Elopura Au Kam Wah, state MCA chairman Datuk Edward Khoo, Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) and Liberal Democratic Party.

= = == For the latest post, Go H E R E ON

DAP BIG CATCH for 2007Tony Pua (a Genius) Gave Up his Worldly Pursuits & enter DAP as “Economic Advisor” for a BETTER Malaysia; To Change NEP 30% perception?: PM Abdullah: “NEP Not a PERMANENT Feature in Malaysia's Economic Policy”

..more stories & pics (Petaling Street) in another coming post .. Check back later

Thursday, February 15, 2007

MORE PICS–ACCOUNTANT Killed 2 CHILDREN (Suffocation & Strangulation) & Committed Suicide by Poisons in Villa Angsana Condominium After Tiff with Wife

ABOVE: The accountant who took the lives of his two childreen was reportedly suffereing from depression and had sought tretment apparently without success.

Clinical depression, unlike normal sadness, is an illness, which causes the one who suffers to feel a sadness of intensity unknown to others who have not experienced it. It has been with mankind since the beginning of human history. The ancient Greeks called it melancholia. Great men and women through the ages had come face to face and did many a great battle with this. It is still seldom recognized by Doctors and, much less treated. Much of the ignorance is due to the unwillingness of sufferers of depression to share their experience with others.

Depression treatment

The present standard treatment for depression it seems is to go for “counseling” and after seeing a psychiatrist you would most probably be given the much touted drug Prozac (after all, a psychiatrist would know if you REALLY needed Prozac, right?).

But if an individual is unable to perceive a different reality and get back his strength to get out of the depression and get off Prozac, the task would be difficult. Prozac was meant to help you to cope with sadness and anger and other feelings that make you feel worthless. Prozac is supposed to take away the problem or lessen it but if it doesn't really do what a person thinks it should, then where is the hope? Maybe that is what triggers some people to commit suicide or violent crimes.

Certainly this is not a black and white issue - and as we create our own realities, this is no less complicated. It is not helpful that drug companies sell the doctors on how "beneficial" the antidepressants will be. Then society "buys" that it is helpful and heaven forbid any of us experience the "negative" emotions and be unproductive. We are told we have to be "happy" and productive - don't "feel" anything negative. Sweet words from counselors and pysciatrists. So until mass reality changes, there's Prozac and other antidepressants to give us the quick fix.... and this is just plain sad without going into the core beliefs that is troubling people.

Society at large & Coporations at fault?

Many of us seem to be making judgments about what others should do in their lives, and blanketly. When it is your life, then of course it is your place to judge what you do and don't do. But other people create their own lives, and some create situations where anti-depressants are of benefit, others where these drugs may send them in a downward spiral, or reduce their inhibitions so that they take action on suicidal thoughts. They create these lives for reasons you and I do not know.

The Christian Scientists do not believe in any medical treatment. They believe that the problem of a broken arm is not a physical one, but a spiritual one, your spirit - your perception of reality, your relationship with God is what is broken - once you 'fix' this the arm will be perfect. The Religious Scientists say, yeah, well until you perfect that belief, go to the doctor and get the bone set! Be practical in the now. Yes the more appropriate question is why are so many depressed and in need of any treatment. But then people list off what is wrong with this society as if it is being done to them/us rather than realizing society is a product of our creation. It is not separate from us - we are society. We, as a society, push more onto our children, demand more and offer less support. That's me and you - not some ambiguous 'they'. We demand more from ourselves, we don't take time out for ourselves, we work harder and harder pursuing more and better, but our efforts seem to produce less of what we value.

We don't grow our own food, we don't make our own fuel, and they need a degree to flip hamburgers in the States. Our corporations are sociopathic in nature and do not put any returns back into our society. It's all about the bottom line. We try to do more and more in less and less time. In the west they go, go drinking double, no triple lattes two or three times a day just to keep up, can't sleep because you're still trying to process the day, not getting enough sleep, sleep-deprivation causes all kinds of psychotic episodes.

The food we buy and eat is processed for quick processing and delivery destroying much of its nutritional value, even our fruits and vegetables are losing their nutritional value because they are being cultivated to grow fast rather than be nutritious. We eat dyes and pesticides and stuff that cause various disorders in large quantities. We have to eat more just to get what we need and we want it quick and easy and we want it colorful and to stay edible for 10 years.

We say parents should spend more time with their children yet our businesses won't give them the time to be with their families. Why, because we wouldn't make as much as quickly as a business would. It would cost too much - well that shows us a value comparison right there - profit is more valuable to our society, to our businesses and corporations than family, then children's well-beings. Who runs and works at the businesses and corporations - we do. Who buys their products - we do. We say we care about the environment while we spew shit into the air we think/believe is unhealthy and then breathe it. We contaminate our food chain and water sources in the name of making a buck or saving a buck, or 'saving time' (drive a car, use plastic products, use laundry detergent, use a dry cleaners, use anything made of metal, or anything processed or manufactured on a large scale?). Te environment we have created contributes highly to the increase of medicated people in our society.

But then look at it in the positive way. Isn’t this the survival of the fittest being play out?.

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Notes on suicide
No man dies unless he wants to die,
and for a much better reason than that you want him to. There is always some conscious recognition, however, though the individual may play tricks with himself and pretend it is not there. Even animals sense their dying ahead of time and on that level man or woman is no different.

Sometimes you think of suicide as ignominious and passive, but of war as aggressive and powerful. Both are equally the result of passivity and distorted aggression and of natural pathways of communications not used or understood.
However, suicides and would-be suicides often have such a great literal lust for life that they constantly put it into jeopardy, so that they can experience what it is in heightened form.
Some people might say, I have a right to die, when they are arguing the case for suicide. And while this is true, it is also true that the people on our planet need every bit of help and encouragement they can get from each person alive. In a certain sense, the energy of each individual does keep the world going, and to commit suicide is to refuse a basic, cooperative venture.

Left alone, the self and the body are so entwined that the separation would be smooth. The body would automatically follow the wishes of the inner self. In the case of suicide, for example, the self is to some extent acting out of context with the body, which still has its own will to live

Suicide is a matter that should not be taken lightly. Those who take their lives leave a path of destruction. Families despair and feel responsible. Children of suicide victims are scarred and risk poverty if that person financially supported them. Friends lose a companion who could make their lives easier. Businesses must cope with the disappearance of an employer or employee and if debts were unpaid then the economy is adversely affected.

Some cultures believe suicide signifies selfishness. Buddhists state it is morally wrong and will result in negative karma. It might mean being reborn in one of the hells or as an animal or hungry ghost. Christians claim those who kill themselves might be thrown into hell. Hence suicide must be discouraged not encouraged

= = = = == =;STAR

UPDATE: 16 FEB 2007;

Once again the BELIEFS in our lives played havoc with our thinking and action. A lack of a PhD is a failure in life? Apparently this was the main reason he took his life along with his two children but NOT his wife whom he considered NOT his responsibility. He was moving in a direction of what he believed to be, in his truths, his own spiritual expressions; choosing what rings within him and knowing that it is an expression of his own free flow. He was generating expectations of himself which may be contrary to his natural movement and desires.

Change your misguided believes and life changes immediately

= == = ==

ABOVE: Deceased who was under depression (see below) had sought treatment; BELOW: His father

Friday February 16, 2007, STAR

Fund manager who killed self, kids suffered frequent bouts of it

KUALA LUMPUR: Depression is believed to be the reason fund manager Lee Tiang Siang killed his two children before he took his own life. According to the police, Lee, 39, was said to have felt he was a failure and this probably made him take the lives of nine-year-old Mei Shen and seven-year-old Wei Shen at their Jalan Ipoh condominium here on Wednesday night. After the father suffocated the children, probably with plastic bags, he was said to have consumed bleach and other cleaning products. City CID chief Senior Asst Comm (II) Ahmad Ibrahim said:

Our investigations revealed that the family did not have any loan shark problem or any enemy. Lee suffered frequent bouts of depression after returning here from New Zealand in 2002. The family told us that Lee did not complete his PhD studies there. “Since then, he was always upset.” SAC Ahmad said police found four letters handwritten by Lee addressed to his wife, parents, brother and a friend overseas. “The letters revealed that Lee felt that he had let down his wife and family members, especially his children, and that he had no choice but to take his and his children's lives.

ABOVE: The daughter nine-year-old Lee Mei Shen
“Lee wrote that he regretted not making it in life and that he did not want his children to follow his footsteps,” he said. At 9pm yesterday, Lee's father and brother claimed the bodies of the deceased from the KL Hospital mortuary. Lee and the children were found dead at 7.30pm by his wife, an insurance agent in her 30s. It is believed that Lee had argued with his wife after coming home from work at 6pm. A neighbour who declined to be identified said the family was not known to have loud quarrels. Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said individuals who attempted suicide normally did so when they lacked support from friends and relatives or worry about money or health.

“When you live such a stressful life because of expectations and you have nobody to turn to except your immediate family, and you do not get that type of support when you are home, you can feel very frustrated,” he told reporters yesterday. Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Sharizat Abdul Jalil has urged the police to get to the bottom of the deaths.

= = == = = = == = =15th Feb 07

It is another tragedy almost very similar to the last December one in which the parents killed their 3 children and tried to kill themselves without success. In this case, the father was able to take his own life but reportedly left a note. The reports are still early and speculation is again that “Ah longs” are in the picture .

Accountant, 2 kids found dead in murder-cum-suicide15 Feb 2007; NST

KUALA LUMPUR: A man is believed to have strangled his two children to death yesterday before killing himself by consuming a deadly mixture of bleach and floor cleaner. Lee Tiang Siang, 39, an accountant with a unit trust company, locked himself and his children, Lee Mei Shen, 9, and Lee Wei Shen, 7, in their Villa Angsana condominium off Jalan Ipoh, before apparently committing murder-cum-suicide. Lee’s wife found the bodies of her children, a boy and a girl, in the master bedroom.

ABOVE & BELOW: This morning Villa Angsana condominium as seen off Jalan Ipoh
Her husband was in the attached bathroom. Next to him was a hand-written note in English and a bucket containing a mixture of bleach and floor cleaner. However, there were conflicting versions on events leading to the tragedy. Neighbours claimed Ah Long were involved but Sentul OCPD

ABOVE: The condo unit as seen from another perspective:
ACP K. Kumaran (ABOVE) said police had ruled out the involvement of Ah Long. He however did not want to go into details as investigations were ongoing. Neighbours reported seeing Ah Long visiting Lee’s unit on the second floor of Block A at 5.30pm yesterday.
ABOVE: The entrance door to the condo unit and BELOW: The swarm of police officers were present to do their duties

Lee did not allow them in. A short while later they left. More than an hour later, Lee’s wife, a cashier at a gaming outlet, came home and an argument ensued after she found scratch marks on the family car, believed to have been made by the Ah Long. Lee’s wife left the condo unit and went to her relative’s unit several doors away on the same floor. When she returned an hour later, she found the unit locked and became suspicious. She ran downstairs and sought the help of security guards, who called the Fire and Rescue Department. Firemen broke down the front door and found the children in the room.

ABOVE: The condo unit as spotted last night and BELOW: The night scene at the entrance

They died before the ambulance arrived. Firemen later broke down the bathroom door and found Lee frothing at the mouth. He was already dead. Neighbours and relatives who gathered outside the unit later said they found it difficult to understand the death of Lee and the children. They said Lee held a good job, his wife was also working and there were no indications that they faced financial problems.

ABOVE: The school attended by the two dead children
It is, however, learnt that Lee dabbled heavily in the stock market. The children attended a Chinese primary school in the area. The bodies were removed about midnight and sent to the Kuala Lumpur Hospital for a post-mortem. Police also recorded a statement from Lee’s wife, who became hysterical when the bodies were being carried out. This incident is chillingly similar to the case in Desa Petaling last December, where a couple allegedly killed their three sons before attempting to take their own lives.= = == = STAR’s Brief account

Thursday February 15, 2007; By MARC LOURDES

Man and children found dead

KUALA LUMPUR: A man and his two young children were found dead in their Jalan Ipoh condominium here last night. Fund manager Lee Tiang Siang, 39, and his children, nine-year-old Mei Shen and seven-year-old Wei Shen, were found dead in their house at about 7.30pm by Lee’s wife, an insurance agent in her 30s. It is believed that Lee had an argument with his wife after coming home to his Villa Angsana condominium from work at 6pm. This led to her storming off to a neighbour’s unit.

When she returned to her flat an hour later, she found the front door locked and heard the sound of her children whimpering . Alarmed, she sought the help of the security guards to break open the house door. They found the children lying outside the bathroom. It is believed that the children had been
strangled to death with plastic bags. Lee, who was said to have been studying for his doctorate, was found dead in the bathroom.
Several bottles of bleach and other household cleaning liquids were found nearby. A neighbour who declined to be identified said the family was not known to have loud quarrels.

Sentul OCPD Asst Comm K. Kumaran (ABOVE) said there were no marks on all three bodies and the case had been classified as sudden death
until the post mortems were completed.

ABOVE and BELOW: The bodies one by one were taken down and transported to the Hospital Kuala Lumpur for the post mortems to determine the actual causes of death.

MIDA: MALAYSIA UPHILL Task Getting FDIs Pressing Ahead With Record 2006 Approvals; Cabinet Final Say-M'sia-US FTA Talks over Procurement & Services

UPDATE: Feb16 2007

February 15, 2007 21:39 PM
Cabinet To Decide On Some Of M'sia-US FTA Issues

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 15 (Bernama) -- The latest position of the Malaysia-United States free trade arrangement (FTA) negotiations will be presented to the Cabinet, said International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz Thursday. She said the Cabinet ministers were briefed on the negotiations yesterday but there were certain things that would have to be decided later by the Cabinet. "There are some things which we didn't decide, which will be decided at the Cabinet level when I present the papers.

The cabinet will relook and decide," she told a press conference after chairing the Wanita Umno Exco meeting, here today. Rafidah said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who chaired the meeting yesterday, had indicated that Malaysia wanted to do its best to work within the timeframe provided. The US is keen to conclude talks by March, ahead of the expiry of President George Bush's Trade Promotion Authority in July this year. But several issues have yet to be sorted out.

"For as long as the basic issues that are non-negotiable -- Bumiputera policy, sovereign right of government to make policy -- as long as things like that are not compromised, the rest can be negotiated," she said. At the briefing yesterday, there were 58 outstanding issues, of which 16 issues involved the Ministry of Domestic and Consumer Affairs, while others involved the Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industries, the Human Resources Ministry and several others. "It is not MITI's position alone, it is the position of every ministry and agency involved that constitutes Malaysia's position. " is very important that every ministry and agency concerned, understand the full implications of the position they put forward for the Cabinet and for the government to consider," Rafidah said. Asked whether Malaysia wanted the FTA more than the US, she said:

"It's like getting married, do you want to get married more than he does?" After a very detailed and technical briefing yesterday, Rafidah said she received a call from US Trade Representative Susan C. Schwab from Washington who had indicated that the US was also committed to resuming talks in order to complete the negotiations. She said Susan would direct her chief negotiator, Barbara Weisel to discuss with MITI's secretary-general Datuk Abdul Rahman Mamat as to when to continue their negotiations. The talks may not be the whole full-scale thing but more of discussions on issues that require negotiating. Others could be resolved via phone, she said. A news report today said that several ministries which were involved in the FTA talks have been given a week to submit their views to the Cabinet for further action.

= = = ==

Malaysia, US race against clock on FTA talks
Thursday February 15, 7:54 PM

KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) - Malaysia's trade minister has said free trade talks with the United States will continue and both parties are trying to set a date for the next round of negotiations before a crucial deadline. Trade Minister Rafidah Aziz said Thursday she and her counterpart, US Trade Representative Susan Schwab, had discussed when to hold the next meeting after earlier fears that negotiations may have deadlocked. "Things are moving forward ... I have asked Susan to direct her chief negotiator to now discuss with my chief negotiator when we can continue," Rafidah told reporters.

Washington is racing to conclude the FTA by the end of March to give the US Congress the requisite time of three months to consider the deal. The FTA must be passed before July 1, when US President George W. Bush loses his Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) which allows deals to be fast-tracked. Washington fears a Democrat-controlled congress will not renew the authority. "Time is of the essence. It's unfortunate they have the TPA," Rafidah said, acknowledging the US deadline.
She added the government wanted to "try our very best to work within the timeframe provided to us." The minister said
Malaysia would attempt to resolve the 58 "outstanding issues" that arose and bogged down the fifth round of talks held two weeks ago. Rafidah said she advised government ministers Wednesday on the status of the FTA negotiations and had requested that the relevant ministries review the issues. She said sensitive or "no-go" issues, such as Malaysia's positive discrimination policies for its majority ethnic Malays, would be excluded from the next round of negotiations.

"The attitude of our government is that as long as the basic issues that are non-negotiable -- such as the native Malay policies -- are not compromised, the rest can be negotiated," she said. Rafidah added both countries had agreed that the next meeting "may not be

the full scale negotiations" and "could be just sectorial". She did not elaborate on the nature of the 58 contentious issues except to say they involved the ministries of trade, agriculture, labour, science and technology, finance and environment
= = = = =

MIDA REPORT: MALAYSIA UPHILL Task Getting New FDIs Amid Stiff Competition From Other Emerging Economies; Cabinet Final Say-M'sia-US FTA Talks over US demand in Government Tenders & Procurements Policies hurting Malaysia's NEP & Bumiputra Rights. Malaysia wants to have the cake and eat it as well!

Malaysia's strategic importance as an attractive investment destination received a major boost last year when foreign investments in approved manufacturing projects reached a record level of RM20.2 billion -- the highest level chalked up todate compared with RM17.9 billion in 2005 and RM13.1 billion in 2004. Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz said this at a press conference.

Rafidah says obstacles in FTA talks were likenening to planning a Malay Wedding. The obstacles are more problematic if one of the parties is a convert and the other party refused to compromise on a great number of issues especially in areas of government tenders and procurements which could hurt Malaysia's social policies, especially in regard to Bumiputra rights. No way will the government sacrifice the affirmative NEP for the US government procurement market worth US300 Billion though Baba Food Products are interested to expand their curry powder share.

Japan was the largest source of foreign investment last year, accounting for 4.4 billion ringgit, the highest level since 1996. The second-biggest investor was the Netherlands, with approvals worth 3.3 billion ringgit, followed by Australia with 2.6 billion ringgit and the U.S. with 2.5 billion ringgit

High energy prices are boosting investment in Malaysia, Southeast Asia's second-largest oil and gas producer and the world's biggest palm oil exporter. Rising investment may help bolster economic growth amid slowing overseas demand for made-in-Malaysia electronics.
= == = = =


FORWARD - MIDA 13-Feb-2007 12:58:00; from ZOOMFinance

KUALA LUMPUR (XFN-ASIA) - Malaysia expects a challenging task ahead in
foreign direct investment
s amid stiff competition from other emerging economies. "The task ahead is challenging, and therefore the coordinated effort of all the ministries and departments, and the state governments is necessary, if Malaysia is to maintain its competitiveness and continue to receive high levels of foreign and domestic investments,"

Rafidah Aziz, Minister of International Trade and Industry, said. "The government will continue with its efforts to promote investments in the targeted sectors and services activities," she said, noting that tours to promote trade and investment opportunities in Malaysia for this year will cover the US, Europe, East Asia and Australia. The government approved projects worth about 46 bln rgt in 2006, up from 32 bln in 2005, according to an industrial performance report issued by the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (MIDA).= = == = = =

February 13, 2007 16:29 PM
Record RM20.2 Bln In Foreign Investments In Manufacturing In 2006

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 13 (Bernama) -- Malaysia's strategic importance as an attractive investment destination received a major boost when foreign investments in approved manufacturing projects last year reached a record level of RM20.2 billion -- the highest level chalked up todate compared with RM17.9 billion in 2005 and RM13.1 billion in 2004. Besides being its best ever performance in attracting manufacturing investment, it clearly showed that "Malaysia continued to remain an attractive destination for foreign direct investment"

Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz, announced here today. Taking into account both local and foreign investments, a total of 1,077 projects involving investments of RM46 billion were approved compared with RM31 billion in 1,027 projects in 2005. Approved investments for the manufacturing sector were the highest recorded todate, exceeding by RM18.5 billion the annual target of RM27.5 billion set under the Third Industrial Master Plan (IMP3).

Announcing what is surely a feather in the cap for Malaysia's efforts to woo investments, Rafidah, the longest-serving trade and industry minister in the world, said Japan was the largest source of FDIs with RM4.4 billion last year from RM3.7 billion a year earlier. This was followed by the Netherlands RM3.3 billion (RM1.7 billion); Australia RM2.6 billion (RM155.9 million); the United States RM2.5 billion (RM5.2 billion); and Singapore RM1.9 billion (RM2.9 billion). The electrical and electronics sector continued to attract the larger share of foreign investment amounting to RM8.6 billion or 42.6 percent of the total approved investments, she said at the annual press conference of the performance of the manufacturing and services sectors 2006 by the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (Mida) here today. Mida is an agency under her ministry.

Rafidah said Malaysia was able to attract several prominent international companies to set-up their regional headquarters here last year including General Electric (US), Eppendorf AG (Germany), Aker Kvaerner Group (Norway), Nippon Electric Glass and Bridgestone Group (Japan), IBA Health Ltd (Australia) and Volvo Cars Malaysia (Sweden). Malaysia also became the regional headquarters for oil and gas companies and has recorded 17 companies having their operational headquarters here. The minister said with the establishment of more regional centres, it could generate spin-off benefits to the economy, in terms of employment, demand for Malaysian products and services, and business opportunities for the insurance, banking and logistics sectors. She said the manufacturing sector expanded by 8.0 percent in the first three quarters of 2006, contributing to 32 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP). The non-government services sector grew by 5.9 percent and accounted for 50.7 percent of the country's GDP. The industrial production index (IPI) for the manufacturing sector increased by 7.3 percent to 138.8 in 2006 between January and November.
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February 13, 2007 14:34 PM

Companies Not Investing In Security, Says Rafidah

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 13 (Bernama) -- Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz has expressed concern that companies are not investing much in security systems, saying security precautions must be comprehensive covering the whole value chain in a company's operations.

"There is a need for companies to invest in security systems in order to protect their companies," she said when responding to a question that companies have not been investing much in security. Some companies have not taken up security as an important aspect in their business, she told a press conference here today.

Late last year, several companies lost millions following a high-profile robbery at a warehouse in Penang where microchips estimated at RM47 million were stolen. To counter this, Rafidah has suggested that companies make security "a very important package" in their total operations. She said security should not only be in-house but should be undertaken along the whole value chain. Companies also need to work closely with the police as they offer services in terms of security, she said.

Rafidah also said the "human resource manager must also make sure and check the background of the company's potential workers before hiring them." "I wonder whether the human resource manager actually do a proper vetting of their drivers, storekeepers or people who are left to man their products worth billion of ringgit," she added. Rafidah also said that managers or security officers should consider installing alarm system and monitoring system at home so that they can monitor the real situation in their factories.” If you value your product, you must make sure that every service provider along the value chain are secured. With extra precaution, this kind of issues would not arise," the minister said.” Let (us) be high-tech about security in tandem with high-technology level of our industries," she added.
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February 13, 2007 16:09 PM
American Electronics Firms Keep Faith In Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 13 (Bernama) -- With their faith firmly entrenched in Malaysia's investment climate, many American electrical and electronic companies plan to continue investing in this country for a good mix of factors including modern infrastructure, good international air, sea and cyber linkages coupled with its excellent external trade linkages with most countries and relatively low operating costs.

Other pull factors were the English speaking workforce, highly skilled labour, lower indirect labour costs, the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority (Mida), said when releasing its 2006 report on the performance of the manufacturing and services sectors here today. Mida also said that the Malaysian workforce has higher operational competencies to enable companies to increase their production quickly and make adjustments in responding to market demands. The agency, which comes under the Ministry of International Trade and Industry (MITI), said these conclusions were borne out of a survey carried out by the Malaysian American Electronics Industry in 2006 which indicated that "many of their member companies plan to continue investing in the country in the coming years.”
Against such a backdrop and growth over the last three decades, Mida said that
Malaysia has developed into a major global manufacturing base for the electronics industry. The electrical and electronics industry continued to attract large investments last year, amounting to RM10 billion. Out of the 170 projects approved, 111 projects (RM8 billion) were for expansion or diversification activities, it said. Investments approved were mainly in electronics components (RM7.6 billion) and industrial electronics (RM1.4 billion). More Malaysian American Electronics Industry companies have chosen to shift their design and development operations to Malaysia, because of the incentives offered and the ability to move their operations up the value chain, Mida said. The Research and Development expenditure by member companies of the association is estimated at RM1.2 billion for last year.
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Malaysia Factory Investment Approvals Climb to Record

Updated : 13-02-2007 Media : Bloomberg; Story By : Stephanie Phang

Feb. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Malaysia's approved manufacturing investment climbed to a record last year, as rising energy prices spurred investment in oil, gas and biodiesel projects, and electronics makers such as Motorala Inc. and Fuji Electrics Malaysia planned expansions. Approved investments jumped to 46 billion ringgit ($13 billion) in 2006 from 31 billion ringgit in the previous year, the Malaysian Industrial Development Authority said in a report in Kuala Lumpur today. More than 40 percent of the projects approved were from foreign companies. ``These numbers will translate into higher private investment growth,'' said Lee Heng Guie, chief economist at CIMB Investment Bank Bhd. in Kuala Lumpur. High energy prices are boosting investment in Malaysia, Southeast Asia's second-largest oil and gas producer and the world's biggest palm oil exporter. Rising investment may help bolster economic growth amid slowing overseas demand for made-in-Malaysia electronics. The bulk of approvals for investment projects last year were for petroleum products including petrochemicals, according to today's report.

This was largely due to the approval of a new 7.7 billion ringgit oil refinery being constructed by SKS Development Sdn. Foreign companies accounted for 20.2 billion ringgit, or 43.9 percent, of the approved investments in manufacturing last year, from 17.9 billion ringgit in 2005. Domestic investments approved rose to 25.8 billion ringgit last year from 13.1 billion ringgit in 2005. Japan was the largest source of foreign investment last year, accounting for 4.4 billion ringgit, the highest level since 1996. The second-biggest investor was the Netherlands, with approvals worth 3.3 billion ringgit, followed by Australia with 2.6 billion ringgit and the U.S. with 2.5 billion ringgit. Approved investment in services, which includes real estate, transport and tourism, was 33.1 billion ringgit in the first three quarters of 2006, compared with 54.2 billion ringgit for all of the previous year.

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Malaysia Says 58 Issues Outstanding in U.S. Trade Negotiations

Updated : 13-02-2007 Media : Bloomberg;Story By : Stephanie Phang

Feb. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Malaysia's government, in talks to bolster $49 billion of two-way trade with the U.S., said there were 58 issues still outstanding in the negotiations. Talks between the Southeast Asian nation and the U.S. were continuing at an informal level and the two nations were not at the stage of calling off negotiations, Malaysia's trade minister Rafidah Aziz told reporters in Kuala Lumpur today. Failure to reach agreement would make Malaysia the second country with which free-trade talks with the U.S. have faltered. Talks with Thailand stalled amid protests by groups, including HIV-AIDS patients, who said the cost of medication may go up under a free-trade agreement with the U.S. The U.S., which hasn't signed a free-trade agreement with a Southeast Asian country since a 2003 accord with Singapore, is also seeking to conclude talks with South Korea this year.

The U.S., which started talks with Malaysia in June, sought to concludetalks by the end of March in order to push an agreement through the U.S.Congress before President George W. Bush's so-called trade promotionauthority expires in July. Malaysia's total trade with the U.S. grew 6.1 percent to 170.8 billion ringgit ($49 billion) in 2006 from 160.95 billion ringgit in 2005, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry said in a Feb. 9 report. Trade with the U.S. accounted for 16 percent of Malaysia's global trade, the report said. Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Karan K. Bhatia said on Jan. 31 that issues such as how the Malaysian government awards contracts remained unresolved. Malaysia's government on Feb. 2. said it was ready to shelve the talks after U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Tom Lantos demanded a Malaysian company scrap a contract to develop gas fields in Iran.

February 13, 2007 13:54 PM
No Deadlock In M'sia-US FTA Talks, Says Rafidah

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 13 (Bernama) -- There is no deadlock in the negotiations for a free trade agreement (FTA) between Malaysia and the United States despite talks ending without an agreement after the fifth round in Sabah last week. Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz, said "it is an ongoing process (and) both parties have to come to a resolution for the outstanding issues."She, however, did not disclose the outstanding issues. The U.S. has been keen to conclude talks by March ahead of the expiry of President George Bush's Trade Promotion Authority in July this year. Rafidah told a press conference here today that she would be briefing the cabinet tomorrow to get some resolution for these outstanding issues. The minister said that about 58 issues have been discussed throughout the previous round of discussions.
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February 13, 2007 19:27 PM

"Wedding Woes" For FTA Talks

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 13 (Bernama) -- A randy groom eager to marry fast, the bride-in-waiting wanting to wait a little longer, the couple undecided where to live, difficulty in determining the dowry and a future mother-in-law not ready for the wedding were all the ingredients Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz used to describe the obstacles Malaysia and the United States face in hammering out a free trade pact. Likening FTA negotiations to the difficulties associated with planning a Malay wedding, the International Trade and Industry Minister said negotiations would go on until both sides agree to conclude a pact or call it off altogether.

Rafidah's analogy in describing the talks as such came about after she was clearly exasperated when reporters suggested that the talks were "deadlocked" after the fifth round last week during a press conference, here Tuesday. The US was keen to conclude talks by March ahead of the expiry of President George Bush's Trade Promotion Authority in July this year but with issues yet to be sorted out. Despite this, Rafidah said "the wedding is on" but faced "issues" which needed to be resolved. But her exasperation was tinged with doses of humour as she went about elaborately describing the understanding needed between the groom and bride -- as was needed between Kuala Lumpur and Washington -- in agreeing on things ranging from fixing the date, where to marry, where to live and the quantum of the dowry.

For instance, Rafidah said the boy might opt for a June wedding but the girl insisting it was too early might favour August. "But the randy boy would say, I can't wait that long," she said to peals of laughter from the audience comprising more than 100 officials from the private sector, government and the media. Rafidah said that finally, the couple might compromise and settle for a July wedding. But that's not the end of the story, she said. Even after agreeing to a date suitable to both of them, "alas!, the bride's mother might not be ready. Then, there's the quantum of dowry to be decided and agreed upon, she said. "The guy says RM5,000 enough lah, but then the girl says "malulah" (its embarrassing).

Your classmate paid RM10,000, you know. It's not that I need the money, it's for show, for the public," said Rafidah. Rafidah said the bride might respond by saying, "But I need to borrow money from the cooperative" to which the groom might say, "borrowlah, nevermind, after the honeymoon we start paying back." The guy might then retort "RM10,000 is too much, how about RM8,000" and the girl might reply, "okay lah, RM8,000 is okay."

The minister said that "once we have gone through all the issues and continue the negotiations... until we come to a day that we say Alamak! (Oh my gosh!) sorry, so much hassle, better call off the wedding and remain good friends." Rafidah revealed there were 58 issues discussed throughout the previous round of discussions. Some of the difficult areas were government procurement, labour, intellectual property rights, etc. She said the best negotiations usually were not held under the stress of formality but in an "environment where parties were ready to understand the sensitivities." When asked whether the negotiations could be concluded by this year, Rafidah said: "It depends on the status of talks, whether they are formal or informal, whether we meet the deadline and how fast we resolve it."
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January 31, 2007 20:45 PM

US Optimistic Of Concluding FTA Talks By End-March
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 31 (Bernama) -- The US is optimistic the current free trade agreement (FTA) talks with Malaysia will be concluded by end-March following positive progress of the negotiations. US Deputy Trade Representative, Karan Bhatia, said the negotiations had made good progress in many areas. "Of the 23 chapters in the FTA, a number of them were near conclusion except for two particularly sensitive areas -- procurement and services," he told reporters, here Wednesday. Bhatia is here on a three-day visit from Monday ahead of the fifth round of Malaysia-US FTA negotiations in Kota Kinabalu next Monday. His visit was a follow-up to the meeting between US Trade Representative Susan Schwab and Minister of International Trade and Industry Datuk Seri Rafidah Aziz in Davos, Switzerland last week. "My message here this week is to urge the Malaysian government and negotiators and our own negotiators to do everything we can to break the differences," he said. Bhatia remained optimistic the talks could be concluded when the fifth round of negotiations starts next week.” There is a window of opportunity, by which we could try to make it happened.

The fifth round is the key to this we need to close the chapters of the FTA," he said. Bhatiar said s
ervices, important for both Malaysia and the US, must be open and there must be competition. He said there were worries the US demand in the areas of government tenders and procurements could hurt Malaysia's social policies, especially in regard to Bumiputra rights.” The US has no intention of undermining Malaysia's preferential policies but will call for greater transparency in the two areas," he said. Bahtia said Malaysia would be able to compete on a level playing field with a guaranteed right to compete with US firms in the US market. "Through the FTA, the US will also open the US government procurement market, worth roughly US$300 billion (US$1=RM3.47) a year to Malaysian firms," he said.
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January 31, 2007 18:27 PM US-M'sia FTA To Benefit SMEs

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 31 (Bernama) -- Small and medium enterprises (SMEs), especially those in the textile, garment and shoe industries, could gain greater market access with the US-Malaysia Free Trade Agreement (FTA), Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) president, Datuk Yong Poh Kon, said. Yong said Malaysia should be more liberal towards opening up its market for US as it would benefit trade and investment flows for both countries. US Deputy Trade Representative, Karan Bhatia, said Malaysia should seize the opportunity and conclude FTA talks with US by March because of the uncertainty over the renewal of the current administration's trade promotion authority by the US congress.” Malaysian exporters will benefit from lower US tariffs while importers will be able to enjoy more competitive pricing," Yong said at a media briefing after the seminar on "Expanding Malaysia-US Trade Relations with FTA: Benefits to SMEs".

At the seminar, two Malaysian companies, Smart Reader and Baba Food Products expressed their intentions to expand into US.Personal advisor to chief executive officer of Smart Reader, S. Selvanathan, said US was a lucrative market and the company would expand to New York to start a franchise for its educational programme.Smart Reader, a provider of educational programmes, has already expanded its wings in China, Philippines, Thailand and Syria. Meanwhile, Baba said it was gearing up to penetrate overseas market. International business consultant, Patricia Irvine, said Baba has not been aggressive in the overseas market before.” However, the trend is changing. We are stepping up our production to meet the overseas market. US is a huge market we are eyeing now," she said.

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