Friday, March 23, 2007

ABDULLAH’s New Measures - Attract Private & FDI; Boost Stock Market, Property Sector, JOHOR IDR; RM3.5 Bln Exchange Traded Funds–Listed in Bursa M'sia

Many are wondering why this relaxation of the rules is ONLY for the IRD in Johore only? What about the rest of the country? Left to rot and ferment until huge unemployment problems crop up or expect workers in other part of the country make a bee-line to the south seeking better fortunes.

Jeffrey a frequent commenter in Kit Siang's Blog opined:

"Don’t talk of foreign investors, even our own Malaysian entrepreneurs are irked with corruption red tape and bureaucracy here. For one thing giving “incentives” like 10-year tax holidays and exemption from FIC requirement of 30 per cent bumi equity holding or management composition for companies approved by the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) is no big deal – it is already subsisting for MSC’s companies – and therefore represents no significant paradigm shift in the affirmative policies of NEP prevailing nation wide that have made the business and cultural milieu difficult to operate.

I sense these limited incentives are even inconsistent with the spirit and letter of Tun Musa Hitam’s call from the deliberations of the advisory council for IRDA. What’s the point of having these incentives, when foreign investors have to put up with, for example delays in the Excise and Customs departments at the ports, the bureaucracy of having to apply to multiple departments for any license or work permit, where work force does not possess proficiency in English nor the ethos of hard work and strenuous exertion and where government’s policies can change every now and then depending on expedience rather than principle?

The obstacle is the cultural milieu and political framework and their premises insofar as these do not change in larger business firmament of the country, giving a few exemptions from NEP in terms of equity and management composition, and 10 year tax holiday within limited, designated and restricted enclaves (not even the whole of Johore) constitute no incentive, in my opinion and will not make IRDA fare better than MSC or Offshore Labuan or other ambitious government projects. The other intangible aspect is also leadership – and perception of firmness and dependability of it that counts in foreign investors’ calculations.

Though investors don’t like corruption, they sometimes tolerate it if they know who exactly they could pay and get things done circumventing bureaucratic delays. But when it is pervasive with many napoleons distributed here and there and at every level to jam and hassle, then it becomes impossible to do business because one either does not know who to pay or has to pay everyone and at every level! Some of you may not believe it but even the top leader and minister wanting to get things done expeditiously sometimes may (whether they admit it or not) have to “pay” to get the bureaucracy (say for example the land office) to get things done.

Otherwise these little napoleons will come out with all kinds of excuses why the forms submitted are not filled up properly, how the file got lost whilst it is on transit from one department to another etc. Now the members of advisory council for the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) have a combination of political business credentials – besides Tun Musa Hitam, Tan Sri Samsudin Osman, Malaysian sugar king Robert Kuok Hock Nien, Tan Sri Kishu Tirathai and Datuk Panglima Andrew Sheng. The Council is clear in articulating what everyone already knows – the NEP bumiputra programme puts investors off. Musa said contract awards “will have to be on merit. The Malays will have to face competition.” If the winding down of the NEP bumiputra programme is positive for the IRDA, then it is likewise positive for the whole country.

Why develop IDR’s potential to be a first-class global hub for business, living and leisure when one can do so for the whole country? Why attract foreign investment to IRDA and Johore only when one can by such winding down attract foreign investment as well as buoy up local investment for the whole country? The usual argument will be the political costs : UMNO cannot afford a backlash from constituency not ready to be weaned from the privileges and affirmative policies cast in stone. But when they can ever be ready? We need a bold Malay leadership to what is right.

When the country prospers every one will prosper especially the more equal UMNO elites and the dominant majority community. Selective exemptions from NEP bumiputra policies for designated foreign companies within IRDA will not work and attract foreign investments when the whole country, bureaucracies and system are choking under the blanket of such a system, debilitating and unfriendly to business and investment (except political crony business), not to mention divisive of Malaysians. If they have more foresight and political will, they should take another approach and use IRDA and the rationale given by Musa as a political exit route to commence the first tentative steps towards the dismantling of such a pernicious policy"

= = = =

Update: 23 rd Mar 2007

IDR Adopts New Approach To Attract Foreign Investors

PUTRAJAYA, March 23 (Bernama) -- The Iskandar Development Region (IDR) in Johor needs a new approach to attract foreign investors, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Friday. "This area needs an approach that can draw foreign investors because our intention is to develop the area on a large scale...this cannot be achieved if we don't adopt a new policy and approach to open the area and give as much flexibility as possible to foreign investors," the deputy prime minister said. He was speaking to reporters after chairing a meeting of the National Council on Local Governments here. He was asked to comment on the government's decision to exempt the Iskandar Development Region from policies that favour the bumiputeras in a bid to attract investors.

The government's move was announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in his keynote address at the Invest Malaysia Conference yesterday. Najib said the capability of the bumiputera community in trade and industry had improved and so too had their participation through the government linked companies.

"If there are certain opportunities available in this area, the bumiputera interest to participate will be given consideration. "For example, if there are six five-star hotels to be built, surely there are bumiputera interests that are capable of participating but at the same time, there are also foreign investors interested in investing there, so they will get more opportunities to invest," he said. He said the federal government would explain the new strategy to the leaders from Johor soon.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 22 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi Thursday announced several measures to boost the equity market, property sector and the South Johor Iskandar Development Region. In his keynote address at Invest Malaysia 2007 Conference here, Abdullah said competitiveness and efficiency of the Malaysian capital market was a top priority and a few measures had and would be taken to achieve the objectives. Abdullah said new rules would be introduced by Bursa Malaysia to enable and regulate direct market access, which would improve trading efficiency and increase value added trading activities on the exchange.

To strengthen Malaysia's position as an international Islamic financial centre, he said, the Securities Commission (SC) and the Dubai Financial Services Authority would establish a mutual recognition regime to facilitate the cross border marketing of Islamic Fund between Malaysia and Dubai. Abdullah said the government would continue with programmes to reduce its stake in government-linked companies that had high concentration of government linked ownership. He said reducing the government's ownership would avoid "exaggerated market disruption" and allow for strategic tie-ups.

"The process will be undertaken in an orderly manner through a combination of private placement and structured commitment to sell such as through Khazanah's (government investment arm) recent issuance of PLUS and Telekom Malaysia exchangeable bonds," he said. Abdullah also announced the establishment of Exchange Traded Funds (ETF's), which would be listed on Bursa Malaysia by year-end. He said GLCs would participate in the ETF's by selling a portion of their portfolios in exchange for units in the ETF's. The ETF's will collectively have an initial fund size of at least RM3.5 billion.

Abdullah was confident that the ETF's would add liquidity and promote greater retail participation in the equity market. Abdullah said the government's approach was to focus on providing the enabling environment to attract new private sector and foreign direct investments.

ABOVE & BELOW: Models of the IDR project

"Emphasis will be placed on projects or industries which can act as catalysts to subsequent investments and expansion in the region concerned," he said. Abdullah also announced a new package of incentives, starting with certain zones within the Iskandar Development Region (IDR) in south Johor. "This will be the first incentive package announced for IDR," he said.

ABOVE & BELOW: Models of the Johor Iskandar Development Region (IDR)

Under the new package of incentives, companies operating within the IDR will be exempted from corporate income tax for activities within the zone and outside Malaysia for 10 years. These companies must be in the creative industry, educational services, financial advisory and consulting, healthcare, logistics and tourism-related services.

Qualified companies will also be exempted from withholding tax on certain payments for 10 years if they commence operations before 2015. Abdullah said qualifying companies would enjoy exemptions from Foreign Investment Committee rules, freedom to source capital globally and unrestricted number of foreign employees within the approved zone.

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Friday March 23, 2007

Ghani and Shahrir back move to drop quotas

MB Ghani Othman; "At the same time, there will be capability for Bumiputras to participate despite FIC requirements being completely relaxed"

KUALA LUMPUR: Bumiputra investors have the capability to participate in the Iskandar Development Region (IDR) in southern Johor despite the Government's move to exempt qualified investors from foreign investment committee (FIC) rules, Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman said. Abdul Ghani said he agreed with the move to exempt IDR from policies that favour the bumiputras in a bid to attract investors. "IDR is a very defined area and there is enough bumiputra strength to participate in the development despite the FIC rules being relaxed completely," he told reporters after the launch of IDR and the second Penang Bridge projects at the Invest Malaysia Conference here yesterday.

Johor Baru MP Datuk Shahrir Samad (ABOVE)said the public should not be alarmed with the move because exemptions were already given for certain industries such as the Multimedia Super Corridor-status companies. "We have to be clear and careful. We have to understand the actual situation. People have the impression that everything requires a racial quota. It's not exactly something new," he said. "There are precedents. MSC-status companies are not required to have a racial quota. Foreign investors can have 100% ownership, 100% foreign workers and it is a free trade zone concept." On the new incentives announced by Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi for certain zones within IDR, Abdul Ghani said the move would make the growth area very attractive for foreign investors to work and live in.

In his keynote address at the Invest Malaysia Conference 2007 here yesterday, the Prime Minister announced that qualifying companies in creative industries, educational services, financial advisory and consulting, healthcare, logistics and tourism related services, would be exempted from FIC rules, and have freedom to source capital globally.

The IDR is the largest development project announced by Abdullah to push economic growth. He is seeking foreign investors to help fund the RM383bil, two-decade-long project, which will transform Johor.

= == = = for Tun Musa Hitam's Bloomberg's Interview Go H E R E ON

MUSA & IDR ADVISORS; EXEMPT JOHOR from NEP to Move Forward; Only Hope to Attract Foreign Investors;

= = = = = =

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MORE PICS - RM14 Million FAKE “Miagra” SEX STIMULANTS Seized from Penang Container via S'PORE; In China– Detailed Insight- FAKE Sex Drug Production

How did the Health Ministry came out with the total seizure worth of RM14 Million? Street value retail price of RM10 only? So Cheap and effective with sildenafil of less than 50 mg per capsule. If you happened to get the China ones maybe you need to swallow more and consumed more starch powder. Take the real ones and you can go down the rabbit hole as far as you can!
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March 22, 2007 00:47 AM

RM14 Mln Of Fake Sexual Stimulants Seized

PETALING JAYA, March 22 (Bernama) -- The Health Ministry seized 1.4 million capsules of fake sexual stimulants worth RM14 million from a container in Penang recently, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said Wednesday night. He said the seizure, the biggest so far by the ministry's pharmaceutical enforcement division, was made on March 13 when enforcement officers detained a container from Singapore loaded with 142 boxes bearing the 1.4 million "Miagra" capsules suspected to be for the Malaysian and Thai "markets".

ABOVE & BELOW: The fake ones have also fake prices online at US2.00 or US4.07 (professional). They might also work if the dosage of sildenafil is high and genuine. The actual ones cost about US10 each

"Initially, the owner of the container claimed that they were vitamin pills but on inspection they were found to be fake and unregistered drugs which contained sildenafil of less than 50 mg per capsule, the same as in the Viagra brand of drug. "It is a fake drug as it can be said to be almost similar to the original (Viagra)," he told reporters at the Media Awards Night of the ministry held in Subang Jaya near here. Chua said the ministry had identified the company involved and would take action under the Sale of Drugs Act 1952 whereby the company, if convicted, can be fined up to RM50,000 and individual offenders can be fined up to RM25,000 or sentenced to three years in jail. Chua advised the public to be wary of fake drugs because they were harmful to health.

= = = = and from CHINA via

how the fakes are produced

While it is well-known that fake medicine is a huge problem in mainland China, this story from the Huashangbao provides detailed insight to the inside operations.

ABOVE: shows the factory production floor. Is this where you want your "Viagra" from!!!???

This illegal pharmaceutical factory is located inside a two-storey residential building in Xian city. The principal product is male potency enhancement pills. When sold, it is advertised as imported from South Korea with ingredients such as Chinese caterpillar fungus (cordyceps sinensis), ginseng, Songaria Cynomorium herb, deer antler, deer penis, etc. In truth, the medicine is just a mixture of "Viagra powder" and starch. The ingredients costs about 2 to 3 RMB, but it can be sold at 40 RMB.(= RM20)

For each production run, a retired medical researcher determined how to mix the ingredients purely based his subjective experience. Usually, one pill contains only 3 milligrams of "Viagra powder." To test the potency of the product, a male employee is given a pill to take and the response is tested. If necessary, the proportion is adjusted and more testing is done. This must be considered a gross simplification of the concepts of quality control/assurance.

So why this factory hasn’t be caught soon? The owner of the factory is a doctor at a local hospital. However, he does his business away from the factory or hospital. Instead, he has business offices at many places. Usually, each business office is closed after a couple of months in operation just in case news gets around. And then another business office will pop up elsewhere.

= = == = = and the real ones come in 25, 50 & 100 mg

all three costing about US$10 per pill.

Some tips Taking VIAGRA

Will VIAGRA work as soon as I take it?
You must be sexually stimulated for VIAGRA to work. In one study, VIAGRA was shown to work in some men in as quickly as 14 minutes. This study included 228 men who’d had success with VIAGRA in the past, each taking 100 mg at least 2 hours after eating. For most men, VIAGRA can work in around 30 minutes. VIAGRA lasts for at least 4 hours, giving you time to enjoy the experience.

What if VIAGRA didn't work the first time?
VIAGRA has been shown to work for more than 80% of men taking VIAGRA 100 mg versus 24% of men taking a sugar pill. So if you’re not getting the results you want, try it again. If you’re still not satisfied, talk to your doctor. Often a dose adjustment is all you need to improve your sex life. To help you get started, fill out the VIAGRA Check-Up form [PDF, 84k]* and give it to your doctor at your next visit.

How often can I take VIAGRA?
For most patients, VIAGRA can be taken once a day, as needed. In patients taking certain protease inhibitors (like those for the treatment of HIV), it is recommended not to exceed a maximum single dose of 25 mg of VIAGRA in a 48-hour period.

Can I take VIAGRA if I have other conditions or am taking other medications?
VIAGRA has been proven to work safely for men with a wide variety of health issues. These include heart problems, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, prostate problems, and spinal injury.
VIAGRA can also be safely used with many other medicines, such as medicine for high blood pressure and depression.
If you take nitrate drugs, often used for chest pain (known as angina), don’t take VIAGRA.

Can I take VIAGRA with food and alcohol?
VIAGRA is just as effective with or without food and alcohol. To get the fastest response, try avoiding high-fat meals 2 hours before taking VIAGRA.

Can I cut my pills in half?
VIAGRA pills should not be cut in half. No studies have been done to determine if half a pill is effective.

Who should not take VIAGRA?
VIAGRA is only for men with ED. VIAGRA is not approved for newborns, children, or women. Do not let anyone else take your VIAGRA. VIAGRA must be used only when prescribed by a healthcare professional.
Before you start treatment with VIAGRA, be sure to ask your doctor if your heart is healthy enough for sexual activity. If you're a man who uses nitrate drugs, like nitroglycerin, you should never take VIAGRA. The combination of VIAGRA and nitrates can make your blood pressure suddenly drop to an unsafe level. You could get dizzy, faint, or even have a heart attack or stroke. Nitrates are found in many prescription medicines that are used to treat angina (chest pain due to heart disease). These include:
* Nitroglycerin (sprays, ointments, skin patches or pastes, and tablets that are swallowed or dissolved in the mouth)
* Isosorbide mononitrate and isosorbide dinitrate (tablets that are swallowed, chewed, or dissolved in the mouth)
Nitrates are also found in recreational drugs such as amyl nitrate or nitrite ("poppers"). If you are not sure if any of your medicines contain nitrates, or if you do not understand what nitrates are, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

MUSA HITAM & ADVISORS; EXEMPT JOHOR from NEP to Move Forward; Only Hope to Attract Foreign Investors; Many Unawakened & Unenlightened will Oppose

UPDATE: Mar 23 2007

Johor investor perks unlikely to create Malay backlash
Firms' exemption from affirmative action is balanced with setting up of fund for residents
By Carolyn Hong; The Straits Times

WHEN former deputy premier Tun Musa Hitam suggested that Malaysia should exempt South Johor from policies that favour the Malay majority to woo foreign investors, his comments made waves. Some thought he was merely testing the waters with his suggestion two days ago to see how it would go down in the Umno stronghold state of Johor. But he had already spoken to Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi, and the Premier had agreed with him. Yesterday, Datuk Seri Abdullah announced a list of incentives which allow investors in some sectors to employ all the foreign workers they want, source their funds from anywhere, own their companies fully, and get corporate tax exemption for 10 years. To be sure, this is not the first time the government has given such incentives. It has done so for the manufacturing sector and the high-technology zone Multimedia Super Corridor.

But this is on a far larger scale. It includes many more sectors in the service industry. Analysts say the bold incentives showed that the government is serious about attracting investments in a project that Datuk Seri Abdullah has personally identified as his brainchild. But there is concern about possible political backlash. Some observers have interpreted the incentives as a move to pave the way for eventual scrapping of Malaysia's 36-year-old affirmative action policy. The New Economic Policy (NEP) was introduced in 1970 following race riots in 1969 to help the Malay community catch up in economic terms with the other races.

'It would be an exit route, politically,' Mr Manu Bhaskaran, a Singapore-based partner at economic research firm Centennial Group, was quoted as saying yesterday. But rolling back the NEP in Umno's stronghold state may not go down well amid angst over foreigners taking over the state's economy. Johor Menteri Besar Abdul Ghani Othman, however, insists that there will not be political fallout. 'It is a very defined area, and at the same time there is also scope for bumiputera participation,' he told reporters after the incentives were announced yesterday. An aide to PM Abdullah told The Straits Times that there was a conscious effort to balance the incentives with the setting up of the Social Projects Fund for investors to contribute to.

The fund could be used to build low-cost houses, or for small bumiputera vendor development. It is understood that the government's investment arm Khazanah Nasional, which is driving the Iskandar Development Region (IDR) initiative, has received investor feedback that they would prefer to contribute to a fund than have restrictions on ownership and employment. Khazanah also believed Malaysians would take up the majority of the 817,500 jobs expected to be created within 20 years. The Straits Times understands that Tun Musa has agreed to go to the ground to speak to grassroots Umno leaders, if necessary, to explain the decision. Johor Baru MP Datuk Shahrir Samad said there would not be a backlash if Malays and local investors were not crowded out. 'Would existing companies also benefit from the tax holiday and other incentives? It should, otherwise it will raise charges of unfair competition,' he said.
He added that there was no problem even if the IDR incentives heralded the phasing out of the NEP nationwide. 'The PM has said it would end by 2020, that's nothing new,' he said.

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Musa: Brief Umno on why it has to give up NEP ; By MEERA VIJAYAN; STAR; Mar 23 2007

JOHOR BARU: Umno should have a special briefing to explain to its members why it was time to give up the New Economic Policy (NEP) for the success of the Iskandar Development Region (IDR). Iskandar Development Region Authority (IRDA) advisory council member Tun Musa Hitam who proposed this also volunteered to be one of the speakers at the briefing. He said that there were already hundreds of Malays who had the capability to do business and on merit. As someone who had been active in Umno for several decades, Musa said, he realised that there was a need to have a change in mindset to draw investors to the country.

"The briefing should explain what the IDR is, its implications to the country and to the Malays," he said during a press conference at Danga Bay after the book launch of The Reluctant Politician: Tun Dr Ismail and His Time. In the last few decades of the NEP, the country used to have an Ali Baba way of doing business where Ali would give his name and Baba would do all the work. "As time went on, Ali and Baba became equal and Ali was able to deliver as much as Baba. Now, there are even Alis who are using the Babas not as sleeping partners but as equals," he quipped.

Musa also said that foreign investors who came to the country were not interested in the NEP, cronyism or nepotism as their primary focus was on making money. He suggested that instead of imposing conditional approvals, a more palatable method would be to provide potential foreign and local investors with a list of Malay entrepreneurs who were capable of doing business and leaving it the investors to decide. Musa said that he had already asked for a computerised master list of all Malay entrepreneurs to be drawn up and the list would include their current grades as well as their past performance and track record which would be made available to any investor. "The IDR is an opportunity to demonstrate that we have arrived and we are able to do this," he said.
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March 22, 2007 17:49 PM

ABOVE:Tun Dr Ismail, extract from LensaPress Photo

Musa Told Aspiring Leaders To Emulate Tun Dr Ismail
JOHOR BAHARU, March 22 (Bernama) -- Malaysia's current and aspiring leaders should emulate former deputy prime minister Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman who put the interest of serving the public above everything else. In making the call, former deputy prime minister Tun Musa Hitam said he admired the leadership style of Dr Ismail, noting that the latter never took advantage of his position to satisfy personal interests. The late Dr Ismail served under the country's second prime minister Tun Abdul Razak. "Emulate the man (Tun Dr Ismail) and the principles he stood for.

ABOVE; Tun Musa Hitam at the book Launch, extract from LensaPress Photo

This goes to all aspiring and current leaders. When you want to serve as a political leader or be in the public sector, it should be service before self," he said. Earlier, Musa launched a book by author Ooi Kee Beng, titled "The Reluctant Politician: Tun Dr Ismail And His Time", at Danga Bay, here Thursday. He said that despite his powerful job, Dr Ismail never misused it to enrich himself and this was illustrated by his modest house in Kuala Lumpur and the simple lifestyle of his children. Musa also advised future leaders to use elements in books on Dr Ismail to emerge as "Towering Malays" or "Glokal Malays" as inspired respectively by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

When launching the 311-page book, he said that Dr Ismail was a modern and progressive leader and did not fit into the "Melayu Lama" category although he lived in that era. Musa said that Dr Ismail contributed greatly in shaping up his political career, admitting that he never stopped from being overawed by the man.

He further said that Dr Ismail never suffered from the "Singapore Syndrome" and was an admirer of Singapore's approach towards development as he foresaw how Johor certainly could benefit from it. "His ideas were happily shared by his Singapore counterpart, Goh Keng Swee, who, like Dr Ismail, did not suffer from `Malaysia Syndrome'," said Musa.

= = =

Many of your own beliefs work for you for a certain period of your life. Many children at one time or another believe that their parents are omnipotent giving them a sense of security. Then in later adolescent years the same offspring are shocked to discover their parents to be quite human and fallible; the inadequacy and inferiority the older generations and the callousness of those in control of them.

And this is the same with the NEP, they are holding these believes way beyond its advantages state for them. But if this concept is held on FAR too long as the nation grows older it becomes highly restrictive and eventually structured and stifled the nation’s progress. There is an added twist here: that in the process of becoming a nation, we must also learn when to let go the NEP ; for change, growth and evolution - the elements of the process of becoming -are impossible without this.

This bold and pragmatic suggestion by the Advisory team to IDR is the true power in the imagination which dares to speculate upon the exemption of the NEP - that which is not yet. This suggestion backed by great expectations, can bring about almost any reality within the range of probabilities for the success of IDR.
The future is a probability. In terms of ordinary experience, nothing exists there yet. It is virgin territory, planted by your feelings and thoughts in the present. Therefore if we will plant accomplishments and successes, and we will do this by remembering that nothing can exist in the future that we do not want to be there. But will the un-awakened and unenlightened see the light at the end of the tunnel for such important core believes to be abandoned after receiving such support for almost 36 years
? As the cabinet is prepared to scuttle and delay the FTA with US in “the interest of the people and the country” in the negotiations then there is little hope for IDR to take off if some of the rules are not relaxed. Precedents had been set when the MSC companies were also exempted from the NEP restrictions.
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Malaysia Must End Race Policy in Johor, Adviser Says (Update1)
By Angus Whitley and Haslinda Amin

March 21 (Bloomberg) -- Malaysia should exempt the southern state of Johor from policies that favor the ethnic Malay majority to help attract foreign investors to the area, former Deputy Prime Minister Musa Hitam said. Policies that give the racial grouping privileged access to government contracts and guarantee a minimum presence in the workplace may deter foreign companies from coming to Johor, said Musa, who is advising the government on the state's development. Contract awards ``will have to be on merit,'' Musa, the country's deputy leader from 1981 to 1986, said in a March 19 interview. ``The Malays will have to face competition.'' Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is seeking foreign investors to help fund a two-decade, 382 billion ringgit ($109 billion) redevelopment of Johor, bordering Singapore. Scrapping the race-based program could lure investors and pave the way for the country to completely drop its 36-year-old policy in support of ethnic Malays, who comprise 60 percent of the population.

``It would be an exit route, politically,'' said Manu Bhaskaran, a Singapore-based partner at economic research company Centennial Group. Johor ``is an extremely important project. The affirmative action program and all the related problems do turn off foreign investors.'' Foreign direct investment in Malaysia in 2005 dropped to 15 billion ringgit from 17.6 billion ringgit in 2004, according to the government's department of statistics. Last year's figures haven't been released.Wealth Imbalance The racial program, introduced under the New Economic Policy in 1971 after clashes between ethnic Chinese and Malays, also known as Bumiputras, aimed to increase the wealth of the nation's poorest grouping through benefits ranging from cheaper housing to greater access to initial public offerings. Concern about the policy's validity grew last year after a report by the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute in Kuala Lumpur showed the original targets to address the wealth imbalance had been surpassed.

The February report by the Centre for Public Policy Studies, controlled by ASLI, said ethnic Malays may own as much as 45 percent of Malaysia's corporate equity. That was higher than the government's estimate of 19 percent in 2004 and surpassed the New Economic Policy's goal of 30 percent. ALSI on Oct. 10 last year said there were ``shortcomings'' in its report. Lim Teck Ghee, director of the Centre for Public Policy Studies, quit a day later to protest the retraction. Policy Revision A five-member council including Musa and Malaysian billionaire Robert Kuok that's advising the Johor project agrees the ethnic program should be dropped, Musa said. ``I am confident that this Bumiputra thing, if I may put it this way, need not be the negative factor, and I am stressing this in this particular exercise,'' Musa said.

``There needs to be a revision, updating, of the way we approach it.'' Incentives to take part in the Southern Johor Economic Region are being finalized, Musa said. Middle Eastern and Japanese investors are among those that have agreed to plow funds into Johor, he said. The 2,216-square-kilometer development will include roads, offices, homes, theme parks, hotels, factories and hospitals and is Malaysia's biggest real-estate project. Development of the region will require 382 billion ringgit of investment from 2006 to 2025, according to Khazanah Nasional Bhd., Malaysia's state investment unit, which is leading the project.

The site will generate more than 800,000 jobs in 20 years, Prime Minister Abdullah said in November. It may boost growth in Johor to an average of 7 percent from 2005 to 2025, compared with 5.5 percent without the revamp, Khazanah said. Reaching the project's targets, without the affirmative action program, would allow the government to remove the policy in other areas, said Bhaskaran at Centennial Group. ``This is a very clever way,'' he said. ``It shows that at the top ranks of the system there are people who are thinking well.''

To contact the reporter on this story: Angus Whitley in Kuala Lumpur at ; Haslinda Amin in Singapore at

= = == ==from the SUN, Mar 21 07
Musa: Drop race quota to help woo foreign investors to South Johor
KUALA LUMPUR (March 21, 2007): Former deputy prime minister Tun Musa Hitam says the government should exempt the Iskandar Development Region (IDR) in South Johor from policies that favour the bumiputras to help attract foreign investors to the huge growth area. Musa, who sits in an advisory panel for the project, said policies that gave the bumiputras privileged access to government contracts and guarantee a minimum presence in the workplace may deter foreign companies interested in investing in the IDR. According to a Bloomberg report based on an interview with the former DPM, Musa said contract awards "will have to be on merit". "The Malays will have to face competition," he said. The IDR is the largest development project announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to push economic growth. He is seeking foreign investors to help fund the RM383 billion two-decade-long project that will transform Johor.

Musa sits on the advisory council for the Iskandar Regional Development Authority (IRDA) that drives the mega project. The other members are Tan Sri Samsudin Osman, Malaysian sugar king Robert Kuok Hock Nien, Tan Sri Kishu Tirathai and Datuk Panglima Andrew Sheng. Musa said the council agreed that the bumiputra programme should be dropped for the project. "I am confident that this bumiputra thing, if I may put it this way, need not be the negative factor, and I am stressing this in this particular exercise. "There needs to be a revision, updating, of the way we approach it," he told Bloomberg. He said incentives to take part in the IDR were being finalised, and Middle Eastern and Japanese investors were among those who had agreed to come in. Bloomberg also interviewed Manu Bhaskaran, a Singapore-based partner at economic research company Centennial Group, who said: "It would be an exit route, politically. Johor (the IDR) is an extremely important project. The affirmative action programme and all the related problems do turn off foreign investors."

Reaching the project’s targets, without the programme, would allow the government to remove the policy in other areas, he added. "It shows that at the top ranks of the system, there are people who are thinking well." Foreign direct investment in Malaysia in 2005 dropped to RM15 billion from RM17.6 billion in 2004, according to the government’s Statistics Department. Last year’s figures have yet to be released.

= = = =
21-03-2007: Singapore and Johor -- so near, yet so far; By Clarence Fernandez

Like rival sisters embittered because one has good looks and money while the other lost out, wealthy Singapore and Malaysia's underdeveloped state of Johor jostle in an uneasy relationship. Separated by just a thin ribbon of water, state capital Johor Bahru seems a world away from spick-and-span Singapore. Despite its somewhat seedy appearance and a reputation for crime, Johor is a popular day trip destination for Singaporeans who flee across the border on weekends looking for cheaper shopping and golf. Investors have been less eager to come, pointing to projects that have fallen victim to past political sparring. But Malaysia hopes to change that with a US$105 billion (RM364.9 billion) development plan that will offer Singapore and its investors something the island city-state doesn't have -- space. Malaysia sees the 2,200 sq km zone in Johor -- which will contain a marina, exclusive gated communities and theme parks -- as a hinterland for Singapore, duplicating the ties between Hong Kong and China's southern city of Shenzhen. "When Hong Kong burst at the seams, they needed somewhere to go, and Shenzhen was the most logical progression. So we see that happening here as well," said Wan Abdullah Wan Ibrahim, managing director of UEM Land Bhd, which owns almost 9,700ha of vacant and developed land in the planned zone.

Under the plan to transform Jahor over the next 20 years, an industrial precinct, schools and hospitals will also be built. The government is also studying a proposal to create free access zones in certain areas in Johor where visitors from Singapore can live and work. If it works out, there will be no immigration and customs check for entry into these zones, which will be guarded by surveillance systems and barriers. "It's not just Johor that benefits, but Singaporeans also benefit," said Wan Abdullah.

In 2006, Johor received about 23,500 visitors from Singapore every day, who spent a total of about RM5.3 million a day, the state government has estimated. Malaysia and Singapore, which separated in 1965 after a brief union in the years following independence from Britain, have deep economic ties, but relations have sometimes been prickly. They have quarrelled over the building of bridges across the Johor Strait, land reclamation, water supply and race. Singapore has a majority ethnic Chinese population and minority Malay population, while the racial-makeup in Malaysia is the opposite. The countries occasionally spar over accusations about discrimination against their Chinese or Malay minorities. Relations have warmed since Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Malaysia's outspoken former premier, handed power to Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in 2003. Now officials of both countries are working closely to see how strategies for Johor's development might fit with Singapore's plans, said Datuk Azman Mokhtar, chief of Malaysian state investment arm Khazanah Nasional Bhd,

which is spearheading the plan. Singaporean businessmen, burnt in the past by grandiose ideas for Johor, are cautious over concerns about rampant crime, corruption and lack of government transparency. Malaysian officials have made few details public on fund-raising plans. But they are trying to woo international investors to the massive project, and say French, German and Singapore firms are keen on locating in the industrial park. The Johor development plans offer the biggest fillip for the region's

property industry since the Asian financial crisis of 1997-1998, from which the sector has not yet recovered, said real estate agent Samuel Tan, who has worked there for 23 years. "There is a symbiotic relationship. Whatever the political situation may be, ordinary businessmen are very pragmatic, we learn to live with it."

Already 50,000 Johor residents travel to jobs in the city state each day, and Singapore-based firms are among Johor's largest employers. But suspicions remain. "Sometimes I wonder if the reason we share this unexplained hostility towards each other is because we're actually quite similar," Malaysian columnist Gavin Yap wrote in the New Sunday Times recently. "Malaysia is the big party and Singapore is the tight-fisted landlord below us, who keeps hitting her broomstick against her ceiling, screaming at us to shut up and get a job." - Reuters

MORE PICS – MPV FIREY END Crashing onto Stationary Crane, 9.5 km NKVE - Tuesday 2 pm; 4 Hrs earlier Another Vehicle had Crashed onto Same Crane

ABOVE: The MPV seemed to be "following" the parked Crane in the emergency lane and BELOW: Closed-up view of impact - left of MPV against the right back of the Crane
Two vehicles crashing into a well colored Crane. How could it happen? Surely these are not accidents except the desire to leave earthly life in such brazen manner. It was such a huge crane yet the two drivers cannot see if it is moving or stationary. One is seriously injured and the other roasted beyond recognition when the vehicle exploded .

ABOVE: The impact left the MPV bonnet on the Crane and BELOW: The total wreck suggested a high speed impact, 130 km/hr?. Where has the engine disappeared?

Was it raining at that time that visibility was low? This is a dilemma facing those driving “blindly” and when they are conditioned to follow another vehicle all the time; even onto the emergency lane. And when you are driving at higher speed, it would be difficult to react in time to a non-moving vehicle. Placing cones on the road is not as effective after all as they are low on road and fail to attract attention. Flashing light would attract but not compulsory

ABOVE: A side view of the MPV; the front driver compartment was crushed in by the engine on impact - no wonder the rescue personnel took quite some time to extricate the charred body and BELOW: A closed-up view

So what can the newly established Malaysian Institute of Road Safety has to offer overcome this increasing problems of vehicles crashing into stationary vehicles? Or they are not interested UNLESS there are multiple deaths like in an express bus accident and that Transport Minister would come up to announce an inquiry will be held and given one month to submit a report for the actual cause. All this is an eye-wash for this Minister every time and all the time!

ABOVE & BELOW: The fire & rescue from Bomba took slightly less than an hour to extricate the body out of the vehicle

Just to drive more slowly? Perhaps they can suggest a compulsory installation of a set of flashing warning lights that can be extended to the right of the emergency lane high above the vehicle to divert traffic away from stalled commercial vehicles just as they had done for the warning of commercial vehicles carrying lengthy goods.

ABOVE: Finally the body in a plastic body bag was taken to hospital for the customary postmortem and BELOW: The sight of a burnt out vehicle would cause the slowing down of traffic to "have a closer look" . The usual KBCs

= = = ==
The driver of an MPV looks like a Toyota Avanza was burnt to death after it collided into a stalled Crane under repair at the 9.5 km NKVE on Tuesady at about 2.00 pm. The MPV soon caught fire after ramming into the faulty crane. The identity of the victim is a 39 year old employee from Digi Com Malaysia and it was traced by the chassis number of the vehicle as the registration numbers have been burnt away. The crane was parked at the emergency lane of the expressway.
The charred remains of the driver were found pinned to the driver seat. Firemen from the Bukit Jelutong station took about an hour to extricate the body. Passers-by attempted to save the driver but was stopped by the raging flames. The body was sent to the Tengku Rahimah Hospital for a post-mortem It was learnt, prior to this incident another car had rammed into the same crane at 10.00 am and the driver was said to be in serious condition After that 10 am incident the crane was moved several metres away.

= = == = ==

Driver killed as vehicle slams into crane

SHAH ALAM: It was a fiery end for the driver of an MPV that rammed into a stationary crane at the 9.5th kilometre stretch of the New Klang Valley Expressway here yesterday. In the 2.30pm accident, the man was believed to have lost control of his vehicle and crashed into the crane, which was parked for repairs after it broke down on the way to a project site. An employee of the company that owned the crane said highway workers had placed plastic cones to cordon off the crane.

It took about half-an-hour for firemen from the Bukit Jelutong Fire and Rescue Services Department to remove the man’s remains from the burnt vehicle. The body, which was charred beyond recognition, was taken to the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital for a post-mortem. Members of the public who had witnessed the accident are advised to call the police at 03-5510 2222.

= == = = == Wednesday March 21, 2007, STAR

Body of accident victim identified

SHAH ALAM: The remains of an accident victim, who was burnt beyond recognition, has been identified as a 39-year-old DiGi.Com Bhd employee. According to sources police managed obtain the victim’s address at Putra Heights, Subang Jaya soon after the mishap by tracing the vehicle’s chassis number. The man’s MPV crashed into a stationary crane parked at the km 9.5 stretch of the new Klang Valley expressway (NKVE) and burst into flames about 2.30pm Tuesday.
The crane was parked there for repairs after it broke down on the way to a project site. It had taken about half-an-hour for firemen from the Bukit Jelutong Fire and Rescue Services Department to extricate the man’s remains from the burnt vehicle. His wife claimed the man’s remains from the Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah after the post-mortem had been completed. Meanwhile, C/Insp P. Nallusamy from the Shah Alam traffic police has urged members of the public, who had witnessed the accident, to contact him at 03-55102222
= = =P.S.

It has now been established that the driver was identified "as Tee Heo Ting, 30, from Putra Heights" (from MM) but to those who knew him in Autoworld forum & TOCM he is better known as Unker Tee or GB Teethe gurubesar of Toyota.
Our deepest condolences must be to his immediate family and relatives.

Death is greatly misunderstood as being the end of it all, of coming too soon. Death always seems to be something just out of your understanding, responsibility, control and power. This is completely inaccurate. Death is a transformation - from one way of being into another. A death is just a night to your soul.
No one "dies" before his or her time. The choice , manner and time of death are always yours. When the soul is ready to release the body, when it has accomplished what it came here to do, it moves on. There is always a reason. To realize that each soul is making these decisions is a beautiful, healing and freeing experience.

No man or woman consciously knows for sure which day will be the last for him or her in this particular life, that each calls the present one. Mortality with its birth and death is the framework in which the soul, for now, is expressed in flesh. It seems, perhaps, easier to have no conscious idea of the year or time that death might occur. Unconsciously of course each man and woman knows, and yet hides the knowledge.

The knowledge is usually hidden for many reasons, but the fact of death, personal death, is never forgotten. It seems obvious, but the full enjoyment of life would be impossible in the framework, now, of earthly reality without the knowledge of death.
Life and death are but two faces of your eternal, ever changing existence, however feel and appreciate the joy of your own being.

Always remember, whether you die today or tomorrow, you have lived before, and will again, and your new life, in your terms, springs out of the old, and is growing in the old and contained within it as the seed is already contained within the flower.

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