Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Israel releases settlers arrested after anti-Palestinian attacks

Al Jazeera:

Israel releases settlers arrested after anti-Palestinian attacks

Only eight Jewish settlers were arrested after Sunday’s attack on villages near Nablus that left one Palestinian dead and set fire to homes and cars.

Smoke and flames rise after Israeli settlers went on a rampage in the occupied West Bank town of Huwara, setting fire to several homes and cars and injuring dozens of Palestinians, on February 27, 2023. [Hisham K. K. Abu Shaqra/Anadolu Agency]

Published On 28 Feb 202328 Feb 2023

Occupied East Jerusalem – Israeli authorities have released all suspects arrested after a Sunday night rampage by Jewish settlers in the occupied West Bank, which killed one Palestinian, injured hundreds and destroyed Palestinian homes and property.

The Israeli police told the Times of Israel that six suspects had been released on Monday, and that a further two were released to house arrest on Tuesday. No other settlers are believed to have been arrested.

Gaza ‘waiting for war every moment’ as Israel tension surges

The Israeli government has come under fierce criticism for its response to the attacks across several villages near Nablus, in which some 400 settlers participated.

Settlers committed shootings, arson attacks and beat Palestinians with metal rods and rocks, according to Palestinian media reports. Some 390 Palestinians were injured – the majority from tear gas and smoke inhalation.

The Palestinian Authority said that at least 30 Palestinian homes and more than 100 cars had been burned.

“Hundreds participated in the attack; hundreds of properties [were] burned. It is belittling [the issue] that they have only arrested eight – and then released the majority of them,” Palestinian political analyst Ismat Mansour told Al Jazeera.

The Israeli military did not respond to Al Jazeera’s request for comment.

The release of the settlers arrested fits into a wider pattern, with only 3 percent of investigations into attacks against Palestinians resulting in a conviction and 93 percent of investigations closing without an indictment, according to the Israeli rights group Yesh Din.

Every year, hundreds of attacks have been carried out by Israelis living in illegal settlements against Palestinians and their properties in the occupied West Bank.

So far in 2023, at least four Palestinians have been killed by Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank.

Deuteronomy 7:2-6

and when the LORD your God delivers them over to you, you shall conquer them and utterly destroy them. You shall make no covenant with them nor show mercy to them. Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son. For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods; so the anger of the LORD will be aroused against you and destroy you suddenly. But thus you shall deal with them: you shall destroy their altars, and break down their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images, and burn their carved images with fire. "For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.

Lawyer contacted me over egg import comments: Wee


Lawyer contacted me over egg import comments: Wee

Ex-minister cites claims of losses to Indian companies due to his statement

Former transport minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong has told the Dewan Rakyat that a lawyer representing egg-importing companies in India has contacted him regarding his unfavourable comments on importing eggs from the country. – SYEDA IMRAN/The Vibes pic, February 28, 2023

KUALA LUMPUR – Former transport minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong (Ayer Hitam-BN) revealed to the Dewan Rakyat that he was legally contacted over his unfavourable comments on importing eggs from India.

During his debate on Budget 2023 today, Wee commended the Agriculture and Food Security Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu for providing funds of RM1.28 billion to continue egg subsidies until June 30.

However, he added that a lawyer representing egg-importing companies contacted him, claiming that his comments had led to the companies from India suffering from losses.

“Thank you (for introducing funds for subsidies), as breeders can plan their breeding to ensure sufficient chicken and egg supplies,” he said.

“But, I was suddenly served with a letter by lawyers from egg-importing companies, forcing me to make a statement,” he added.

Unfazed, Wee simply asserted that it was his responsibility as a representative of the people to raise the issue, and questioned what his fault was for doing so.

“I have to show (the lawyers) that this is my field as a representative of the people, I was called to bring this issue.

“What is my fault?” he asked, adding that he will disclose the incident on his Facebook account.

When asked by Datuk Mohd Radzi Jidin (Putrajaya-PN) whether he could list several companies that imported eggs into Malaysia, Wee said he did not mention any as he is unsure himself.

He quipped that despite not mentioning any firms, he still “got sued”.

Previously, Wee said relying on egg imports from India is not the solution for its shortage in his debate at the royal address on February 15.

He referred to a report by Berita Harian on December 22, which said the import prices are 50 sen per egg, adding the price was expensive considering the imports’ quality will drop by the time they arrive in the country.

In another session on February 22, Wee brought two eggs – one from India, and another local – to prove his point.

He said that the egg from India was smaller, despite being priced at 50 sen, while the larger local egg was better priced, ranging between 43 to 45 sen. – The Vibes, February 28, 2023

Any Malaysian decision on Lynas respected - Australian minister

Any Malaysian decision on Lynas respected - Australian minister

Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said the country will respect whatever decision Malaysia makes regarding Lynas Rare Earths Ltd’s operations at the Gebeng, Pahang rare earth plant.

“We respect their sovereignty and their (Malaysian government) rights to make decisions about this,” said Wong as reported by Bernama today.

Rare earth elements are important in the current economy, particularly in renewable energy and other high technology, she added.

“I know this has been an issue for some time. So all of us need to work out how we find a way to make sure we can both mine and process in ways that may retain the company’s competence because we’re all going to need this rare earth,” she said.

Wong also said Australia and Lynas have always placed the highest level of safeguards for the environment.

She was responding to a question about Lynas potentially losing its operating license if it does not comply with new conditions set by the Malaysian government.

Though the Lynas rare earth processing plant in Gebeng got its license renewal recently, it came with a set of conditions, including for the company to remove its cracking and leaching facility by July 1.

As part of those conditions, Putrajaya also decided to prohibit the production of radioactive waste in the country by the same deadline.

These are the same conditions given to Lynas when it renewed its operating licence valid from March 3, 2020 to March 2, 2023.

Science, Technology, and Innovation Minister Chang Lih Kang previously said Lynas must continue complying with these same conditions for the renewal of their new three-year licence this year.

“Other activities that do not involve the production of radioactive waste are allowed to continue operating,” he said.

‘No special incentives’

Meanwhile, Lynas Malaysia said it has not received any special treatment or benefits since starting its operations in the country.

In a separate report by Bernama, the company said whatever benefits it received when investing in Malaysia are consistent with those offered to other investors.

“Malaysia awards Pioneer Tax Status to attract foreign investment in projects of national and strategic importance. These projects involve heavy capital investment, new and emerging technologies, and specialised machinery and equipment.

“Tax incentives of this nature are standard practice in countries around the world. The duration of the tax incentive depends on the size of the investment. Lynas was invited to Malaysia as a foreign direct investor and qualified for Pioneer Tax Status,” the statement read.

Lynas also said it has been paying tax like any other company on non-rare earth-related matters even though it was given a tax exemption under the Pioneer Tax Status on the manufacturing of rare earth.

Lynas said it has invested RM3 billion in plant and equipment as well as spent RM730 million annually in Malaysia, while also contributing to the creation of 4,600 direct and indirect local jobs.

“Lynas only seeks to be treated fairly and equitably, in line with other companies in Malaysia,” it said.

Chang was previously reported telling the Dewan Rakyat that Lynas has not paid a single sen in corporate taxes for 12 years as it had been given tax-exempt status by the Malaysian government.

‘Albatross file’ with details of top-level talks before Singapore separated from Malaysia to be declassified, released publicly


‘Albatross file’ with details of top-level talks before Singapore separated from Malaysia to be declassified, released publicly

Parts of the Albatross file on display at a special exhibition at the National Museum of Singapore in 2015. — TODAY pic

Tuesday, 28 Feb 2023 10:01 PM MYT

SINGAPORE, Feb 28 — The Government has agreed to declassify and release documents in Dr Goh Keng Swee’s “famous Albatross file”, Dr Janil Puthucheary, Minister of State for Communications and Information, said.

This is a file that the late deputy prime minister, who is considered one of modern Singapore’s founding fathers, kept in the run-up to the nation’s separation from Malaysia in August 1965.

Aside from being an important record of a pivotal moment in Singapore’s history, the Albatross file provides insights into top-level discussions among the leaders of Singapore and Malaysia in the weeks leading up to the separation.

Some of the contents of the Albatross file have been made public in various historical accounts over the years, including in the book The Singapore Story, which is the first volume of the memoirs of the country’s late first prime minister Lee Kuan Yew. Parts of the file has also been exhibited before at the National Museum.

Contrary to popular descriptions of Singapore having been “expelled” by Malaysia, the file offers a more nuanced look at how Singapore’s leaders themselves played a part in proposing and facilitating the separation, alongside Malaysia’s leaders.

Dr Puthucheary, who was speaking in Parliament on Tuesday (Feb 28) at the budget debate for the Ministry of Communications and Information, said that some of the Albatross documents will be released in a book on the Separation Agreement, which is to be published later this year.

The process of declassification began “some time ago” and took some time given the complexity of the material, he added.

“A subset of the material was part of a public exhibition, and a larger set of declassified documents will be released in a book on separation to be published later this year.”

This will include Cabinet papers, as well as Dr Goh’s notes of his conversations with Malaysian leaders.

Dr Goh was finance minister before Singapore’s separation from Malaysia, and helmed various government ministries afterwards, rising to the position of deputy prime minister in 1973. He retired from politics owing to ill health in 1984 and died in May 2010, aged 91.

What is the albatross file?

Based on information published by the National Library Board, the Albatross file is a secret file that offered insights into the negotiations leading up to the separation from Malaysia in 1965.

The negotiations, which also involved Singapore’s founding prime minister Lee Kuan Yew and then-Malaysian prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman, culminated in the decision for Singapore to leave the Federation of Malaysia on Aug 9,1965. Singapore had been part of the federation since 1963.

The first time that the existence of the file was revealed to the public was in an interview in 1980, where Dr Goh stated that the “Albatross” referred to Malaysia.

Dr Goh said then: “By that time, the great expectation that we foolishly had — that Malaysia would bring prosperity, common market, peace, harmony, all that — we were quickly disillusioned. And it became an albatross round our necks.”

The Ministry of Communications and Information began the pilot phase of declassifying files under its purview in late 2013 with a team of researchers, which included retired senior public officers. This was the first-ever systematic declassification project undertaken in Singapore.

In 2015, parts of the top-secret document were showcased at the National Museum of Singapore.

Declassification of records an ongoing process

Responding to a question by He Ting Ru, Sengkang Group Representation Constituency Member of Parliament (MP), on whether archival material can be made more accessible, Dr Puthucheary said that the National Archives of Singapore has been working with government agencies to declassify and make available more government records.

Metadata of around 780,000 records are publicly accessible on archives online, and this has been increasing over the years, he added.

“In addition, since 2016, government agencies have reviewed more than 7,000 government records that were not yet declassified.”

This was in response to more than 2,130 requests by members of the public.

In all, 83 per cent of these records have been approved for access. In total, about 68,000 file records have been declassified and made accessible to the public.

“We are committed to ensuring greater access to government records, so that they can be a reference for the public to research and obtain information on Singapore,” Dr Puthucheary said.

Speaking in Parliament, Leader of the Opposition Pritam Singh praised the move to release the Albatross file.

Referring to a commentary published by TODAY about Singapore’s founding fathers, Singh said: “I think the release of these documents... is important for the nation, as it is part of the nation-building process.”

On classified information for research purposes

Singh also asked if the Government were prepared to release classified information that had already been extended for research purposes to all sitting MPs.

Dr Puthucheary said that Singh’s question was pointing to his request to an agency where the information sought had yet to be transferred to the National Archives of Singapore for preservation.

“To be clear, the file in question is not available for public access and remains classified,” Dr Puthucheary clarified.

This is distinct from public archives, which are public records that have been transferred to the National Archives of Singapore and can be requested for inspection by any person for the purposes of reference or research.

He added that for records that remain classified and are not part of the public archives, agencies may grant access to specific information for specific purposes, such as writing a book.

This will be subject to conditions such as complying with the Official Secrets Act and submitting the information to be quoted for vetting before release, he added.

“As a matter of policy, the Government does provide researchers access to information for legitimate research purposes, but doing so does not mean that the entire record has been declassified, nor that it is generally available to the public,” Dr Puthucheary said.

“If someone has a specific reason to access closed records, a request can be made and the request will be assessed by the Government on its merits.”

He also said that if Singh would like more information on background thinking or the rationale behind the government policy, there are several routes he may take.

One would be to approach the relevant government ministry to give more details and clarification.

Singh and other MPs also have the option to file a parliamentary question and receive a formal reply from the government, Dr Puthucheary said.


kt comments:

Dr Goh Keng Swee has long gone to a better place so I'll respect the dead and refrain from criticizing what I see as his revisionist attempt to save face for an expelled Singapore. 

Revisionist? Well, didn't Lee Kuan Yew cry on TV when he announced the separation and lament Sing's ouster from Malaysia. In fact Lee was worried sick about Sing's survival prospect without the embrace of Malaysia, whilst Tengku's covet plan was to have a subdued Lee Kuan Yew subsequently coming back with his 'tail between his legs' begging for readmittance into Malaysia

The saga all started from 
the ultra-ism of Syed Jaafar Albar, known as the "Lion of UMNO" - Jaafar Albar was the father of UMNO's Syed Hamid Albar, who later followed in his footsteps to be active in politics. Syed Hamid went on to serve as Foreign Affairs Minister and Home Minister. In April 2009 however, Syed Hamid was dropped from the cabinet.

Anyway, here's what Wiki has to say about 
Syed Jaafar Albar:

After the 1963 Singapore state elections held shortly after Singapore merged with Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak to form Malaysia, it emerged that the Singapore UMNO branch had been terribly defeated by the ruling People's Action Party (PAP). Albar then travelled to Singapore to address the Malays, and denounced Malay PAP leaders such as Othman Wok as traitors to the Malay race and UnIslamic.

Later, he had participated in verbal duels with the Singaporean Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, over the issue of ketuanan Melayu (Malay sovereignty over Malaysia). Lee accused Albar of being an "ultra" for making remarks such as "Wherever I am, I am a Malay." Lee criticised him for this, asking "If I had been going round and saying what [he] has been saying – wherever I am, I am a Chinese – where would we be? But I keep on reminding the people that I am a Malaysian. I am learning Bahasa Kebangsaan (Malay, the national language) and I accept Article 153 of the Constitution."

Albar also accused Lee and some other Chinese Malaysians – referring to them as kaum pendatang or pendatang asing (immigrants) – of being lodgers (orang tumpangan), abusing the hospitality of the Malays who were the "masters of the house". This provoked a response from Cabinet member Lim Swee Aun, who insisted "we are co-owners, not lodgers, not guests."

Lee took a swipe at his politics by arguing "According to history, Malays began to migrate to Malaysia in noticeable numbers only about 700 years ago. Of the 39% Malays in Malaysia today, about one-third are comparatively new immigrants like the secretary-general of UMNO, Dato' Syed Jaafar Albar. Therefore it is wrong and illogical for a particular racial group to think that they are more justified to be called Malaysians and that the others can become Malaysian only through their favour."

The Malaysian Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, eventually tired of the bickering and told Singapore to secede from Malaysia. The matter was hushed up, with not even the UMNO Members of Parliament such as Albar being informed of what 9 August 1965 Parliamentary session would be concerned about. When Albar demanded more information on why their presence was demanded, he was rebuffed. Upon discovering that day itself that the purpose of the meeting was to allow Singapore to secede, Albar left Parliament House, not participating in the final unanimous vote. As this was directly contrary to his orders, the Tunku insisted on sacking Albar as UMNO Secretary-General, but was later persuaded to permit Albar to graciously resign instead.

Albar was opposed to the idea of allowing Singapore to secede, because he felt that imposing emergency rule over Singapore and removing Lee as Prime Minister would have been an ideal solution. Before secession, he had vocally called for Lee to be arrested for destroying racial harmony through his "Malaysian Malaysia" campaign, which the Malays saw as threatening the special rights granted to them under Article 153 of the Constitution.

And that's the true story!

Russians tighten noose on Ukraine's Bakhmut, situation 'extremely tense'


Russians tighten noose on Ukraine's Bakhmut, situation 'extremely tense'

Ukrainian service members are seen next an infantry fighting vehicle near the frontline town of Bakhmut, amid Russia's attack on Ukraine, in Donetsk region, Ukraine February 25, 2023. REUTERS/Yan Dobronosov

KYIV, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Russian forces on Tuesday pressed forward their weeks-long drive to encircle and capture the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut where the commander of Ukraine's ground forces described the situation as "extremely tense".

The Russian troops, including mercenary fighters from the Wagner Group, are trying to cut the Ukrainian defenders' supply lines to the city, scene of some of the war's bloodiest battles, and force them to surrender or withdraw.

That would give Russia its first major prize in more than half a year and open the way to the capture of the last remaining urban centres in the Donetsk region, one of four which Moscow claims to have annexed in what it calls its "special military operation" in Ukraine.

"Despite significant losses, the enemy threw in the most prepared assault units of Wagner, who are trying to break through the defences of our troops and surround the city," Ukraine's Colonel General Oleksandr Syrskyi said in a statement.

An unnamed soldier from Ukraine's 93rd Separate Mechanised Brigade, speaking on the Telegram messaging app as explosions boomed in the background, struck a defiant note: "February 28, the town of Bakhmut. The city is on fire, the enemy is pressing. Everything will be Ukraine..."

Russia's state-run RIA news agency released a video clip which it said showed Russian Su-25 fighter jets roaring over Bakhmut. "We are glad they are ours," says a man in the clip identified as a Wagner fighter, adding the jets helped them "psychologically".

Ukraine's military said Russia was shelling settlements around Bakhmut, which had a pre-war population of around 70,000 but now lies in ruins after months of intense trench warfare.

"Over the past day, our soldiers repelled more than 60 enemy attacks," the military said early on Tuesday, including on the villages of Yadhidne and Berkhivka just north of Bakhmut.

A Reuters reporter who visited the area on Monday said he saw no sign of Ukrainian forces withdrawing and that reinforcements were arriving despite constant Russian shelling.


Ukrainian soldiers in the Donetsk region hunkered in muddy trenches after warmer weather thawed out the frozen ground.

"Both sides stay in their positions, because as you see, spring means mud. Thus, it is impossible to move forward," said Mykola, 59, commander of a Ukrainian frontline rocket launcher battery, watching a tablet screen for coordinates to fire.

The spring thaw has a history of ruining plans by armies to attack across Ukraine and western Russia, turning roads into rivers and fields into quagmires.

Reuters saw several military vehicles stuck in mud. In a zigzag trench, Volodymyr, a 25-year-old platoon commander, said his men were prepared to operate in any weather.

"When we're given a target, that means we have to destroy it."

Russia, its forces replenished with hundreds of thousands of conscripts, has intensified its attacks right along the eastern front but its assaults have come at a high cost, Ukraine says.

Russia's defence ministry said its forces had destroyed a Ukrainian ammunition depot near Bakhmut and shot down U.S.-made rockets and Ukrainian drones.

It later accused Ukraine of launching attempted drone attacks against two southern Russian regions overnight but said they had caused no damage.

Reuters could not verify the battlefield reports.

The Russian ministry, without providing evidence, also said the United States was planning a provocation in Ukraine using toxic chemicals. There was no immediate U.S. response.


Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov repeated on Tuesday Moscow's position that it is open to peace negotiations but that Kyiv and its Western allies must accept Russia's annexation of four Ukrainian regions - Donetsk, Luhansk, Kherson and Zaporizhzhia - following referendums last September Kyiv and the West says were illegal.

"There are certain realities that have already become an internal factor. I mean the new territories. The constitution of the Russian Federation exists, and cannot be ignored. Russia will never be able to compromise on this, these are important realities," Peskov told reporters.

Ukraine's outnumbered troops repelled Russia's attack aimed at taking Kyiv early in the war and later recaptured substantial territory, but Russia still occupies nearly a fifth of Ukraine.

Kyiv has so far ruled out talks with Moscow and has demanded that Russian troops withdraw to Ukraine's 1991 borders.

Separately, Russia's defence ministry said it had carried out air defence drills involving interceptor jets on Tuesday after St. Petersburg's Pulkovo Airport was forced to suspend all flights for an hour. No reason was given for the suspension, while unconfirmed media reports said an unidentified object, such as a drone, had been spotted in the area.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen this week became the latest senior Western official to visit Kyiv, where she announced the transfer of the first $1.25 billion from a new $9.9 billion tranche of U.S. economic and budget assistance.

Her boss, President Joe Biden, went there a week ago to mark the first anniversary of Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

"America will stand with Ukraine as long as it takes," Yellen, flanked by sandbags at the Cabinet office, told Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal on Monday.

True or not: Angelic Najib has quietly masterminded the recovery of all lost 1MDB money

True or not: Angelic Najib has quietly masterminded the recovery of all lost 1MDB money

THE unity government should now do the right thing by dropping all pending charges against incarcerated former premier Datuk Seri Najib Razak for he has quietly solved problems that led to the recovery of all the lost 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) money while maintaining good diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates.

Moreover, the very fact that the Abu Dhabi’s International Petroleum Investment Co (IPIC) and its unit Aabar Investments PJS have agreed to pay Malaysia US$1.8 bil to settle legal dispute over the 1MDB scandal has made the former Pekan MP “the only human being in the world accused of ‘stealing’ money lower than the actual value”.

For context, the Finance Ministry announced yesterday (Feb 27) that IPIC has agreed to repay US$1.8 bil (RM8.08 bil) directly to Malaysia. As part of the settlement, it is understood that Abu Dhabi is also committed to investing an additional US$1.5 bil in Malaysia.

“Although the US$1.8 bil (RM 8.08 bil) received is less than the US$4.5 bil to US$7 bil under the original settlement agreement during Najib’s tenure, the RM8.08 bil received is still higher in value than the RM6.6 bil breach of trust charge imposed on Najib,” justified Najib on his Facebook page.

“(Ex-premier Tun Dr) Mahathir (Mohamad) and (former attorney-general Tan Sri) Tommy Thomas have committed a great injustice against Najib by lying to all Malaysians for many years in which his (Najib’s) name will probably be affected forever due to the false accusation stemming from political greed.”

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (left) shaking hands with Tan Sri Tommy Thomas

Elaborating further, Najib said both Mahathir and Thomas had immediately cancelled the settlement agreement that Najib had initiated between 1MDB and IPIC in 2017 to recover between US$4.5 bil and US$7 bil as soon as they came to power “so that the narrative of the 1MDB money ‘unrecovered’ could continue”.

“To ‘add severity’ to such narrative, they later claimed that Najib had breached the trust amounting to RM6.6 bil in the IPIC settlement deal right after they cancelled the settlement agreement,” claimed Najib.

“For four consecutive years, Najib has repeatedly urged the three Malaysian governments after him to continue with the IPIC settlement to prove that he did not cause Malaysia to lose money but the three governments ignored Najib’s insistence.”

The last time Najib made such a request was in March 2022 at the Parliament.

To further prove his innocence, Najib said the phone call between him and the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi (now the UAE President) on July 22, 2016 which was leaked by former Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) chief commissioner Lateefah Koya actually proved his negotiations and efforts to recover the money which eventually led to the settlement agreement in 2017.

Apart from being a personal attempt to resolve the 1MDB problem amicably between Putrajaya and Abu Dhabi, Najib said he and his stepson Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz have no knowledge as to the source of the funds invested into Riza’s company, Red Granite Pictures. – Feb 28, 2023

NGO head claims authorities practice double standards when it comes to religion


High court rejects private prosecution bid against preachers Zamri, Firdaus

NGO head claims authorities practice double standards when it comes to religion

Global Human Rights Federation president S. Shashi Kumar (pic) says more than 1,000 police reports were lodged against preacher Zamri Vinoth for insulting non-Muslim faiths, adding he (Shashi) submitted a compilation of the allegedly ‘defamatory’ statements from the preacher’s social media channels to police. – SYEDA IMRAN/The Vibes pic, February 27, 2023

JOHOR BARU – The Shah Alam High Court dismissed Global Human Rights Federation (GHRF) president S. Shashi Kumar’s application to initiate private prosecution proceedings against Islamic preachers Zamri Vinoth and Firdaus Wong for allegedly insulting non-Muslim faiths.

In a statement today, Shashi said the ruling by justice Wendy Ooi upholds the previous decision by magistrate Mohamad Redza Azhar Rezali on September 2021, who denied the application on grounds that the police classified the case as “No Further Action” and the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) was unwilling to proceed with the matter.

Shashi added that more than 1,000 police reports were lodged against Zamri for insulting non-Muslim faiths and the GHRF president himself submitted a compilation of the allegedly “defamatory” statements from the preacher’s social media channels to police.

Expressing confidence there is more than enough evidence to prosecute these preachers, he alleged that the authorities practised double standards, and that action against non-Muslims who insulted Islam was taken within 24 hours.

“Police and the AGC stance made it seem as if the government was giving Zamri, Firdaus and the rest of them a free rein to continue making such ‘seditious statements’ against non-Islamic religions.

“There were so many non-Muslims who have been jailed within 24 hours for insulting Islam and the Prophet Muhammad but when it comes to non-Islamic religions being insulted, the law enforcers totally ignore the matter and we need to pursue on our own to get justice.

“The law should apply to all Malaysians without any such double standards or favouring any particular race or religion under the equal protection as enshrined by Article 8 of our federal constitution and the National Principles (Rukun Negara),” the statement by GHRF said. – The Vibes, February 27, 2023

Russia accuses US of 'False Flag' ‘toxic chemicals’ plot in Ukraine


Russia accuses US of ‘toxic chemicals’ plot in Ukraine

Moscow has vowed to ‘identify and punish the true culprits’.

Russia’s defence ministry believes the US is planning a provocation in Ukraine. (AP pic)

MOSCOW: The US is planning a provocation in Ukraine using toxic chemicals, the Russian defence ministry said today.

The ministry cited former US ambassador to Russia John Sullivan as saying that “Russian troops plan to use chemical weapons in the special military operation area”.

“We regard this information as the intention of the US and their accomplices to carry out a provocation in Ukraine using toxic chemicals,” Igor Kirillov, chief of the radiation, chemical and biological defence troops of Russia’s armed forces said during a briefing.

He said that Moscow “will identify and punish the true culprits”.

Thanks to Wan Saiful, Marx laughing in his grave - PSM

Thanks to Wan Saiful, Marx laughing in his grave - PSM

RK Anand

By now, Karl Marx’s bones may have turned to dust. But since teeth are more resilient to the effects of decomposition and degradation, PSM believes the German philosopher would still be able to muster a laugh over the rib-tickling antics of Malaysian lawmakers.

According to PSM deputy chairperson S Arutchelvan, the honour of making the “Father of Communism” chortle in his tomb goes to Bersatu’s Tasek Gelugor MP Wan Saiful Wan Jan.

“Marx would be laughing in his grave at Highgate, London, that a Malaysian MP has raised his ‘Communist Manifesto’ in the Malaysian Parliament in 2023, 175 years after it was first published in 1848.

“Now if (Prime Minister) Anwar Ibrahim is out of touch, then Wan Saiful is shooting blanks and out of range,” he told Malaysiakini this afternoon.

Yesterday, Wan Saiful (above) asked if the government’s budget was inspired by Marx and Friedric Engels’ ‘Communist Manifesto’, and if the prime minister was attempting to instigate class warfare.

All past PMs would be ‘communists’

Setting the record straight, Arutchelvan said while the ‘Communist Manifesto’ called for the abolition of private property, the “most radical point” in Anwar’s budget was the eradication of hardcore poverty.

“So if Anwar taxing the super-rich and luxury items is class warfare, then let me highlight some other class initiatives. BR1M – Bantuan Sara Hidup must be socialist because it gives aid to the poor and not the rich, so must be the aid by the welfare department because only the poor can apply for the benefits. Similarly, the legal aid centre because they have a means test before one can qualify.

“The list goes on to low-cost housing, and what about the New Economic Policy? Wasn’t the NEP’s aim to eradicate poverty and help improve the economic standing of the bumiputera?” he asked.

PSM deputy chairperson S Arutchelvan

Arutchelvan said if the “Wan Saiful logic” is applied, this would mean all former prime ministers, including Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin, would be “communists” for their policies to help the poor.

“Now if we start listing things, it appears everything good in society is ‘socialism’. And when everything is equal, then it must be ‘communism’ - a classless society.

“Next, Wan Saiful should talk about another major Marxist point – the question of contradictions,” he added in reference to the “two contradictions of capitalism”.

On the same note, the PSM leader felt that another Perikatan Nasional MP, Shahidan Kassim, also deserved an honourable mention for his “comical” remarks.

“It was hilarious when Shahidan said the budget was socialist because it talked about helping the rakyat but on the question of allocations for MPs, Anwar’s policy was bourgeois because it did not subscribe to equality,” he added.

Bersatu division deputy chief Adam Radlan hit with fifth charge linked to Jana Wibawa scheme


Bersatu division deputy chief Adam Radlan hit with fifth charge linked to Jana Wibawa scheme

Segambut Bersatu deputy chief Adam Radlan Adam Muhammad arrives at the Session’s Court in Kuala Lumpur February 28, 2023. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

Tuesday, 28 Feb 2023 10:35 AM MYT

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 28 — Segambut Bersatu deputy chief, Adam Radlan Adam Muhammad has been charged again in the Session’s Court here today on a charge of soliciting a bribe of RM2 million relating to a Jana Wibawa project.

Adam Radlan, 42, who is also a businessman pleaded not guilty after the charge was read before Judge Azura Alwi.

“Understand the charge and request to go to trial,” said the accused in a blue suit.

According to the charge, Adam Radlan was accused of asking for RM2 million in bribe from Lian Tian Chuan as service for the accused to assist Nepturis Sdn Bhd to obtain a project of the North Klang District Office in Selangor from the government of Malaysia valued at RM141 million.

The offence was allegedly committed at a restaurant in Publika, Damansara around January 2022.

He was charged under Section 16(a)(A) of the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009 and can be sentenced under Section 24(1) of the same act which provides for a maximum prison term of 20 years and a fine of not less than five times the value of the bribe or RM10,000 or whichever is higher, upon conviction.

MACC deputy public prosecutor Farah Yasmin Salleh requested the court to adopt the RM300,000 bail with two sureties previously set for the accused in the Shah Alam Court.

According to Farah, the accused was charged in the Shah Alam Sessions Court on February 22 for the offence of accepting bribes involving the same project (Jana Wibawa).

“The prosecution will request that the case in the Shah Alam Court and in this court be tried together.

“However, we have not yet received instructions as to whether the case will be tried at the Shah Alam Court or the Kuala Lumpur Court,” said Farah who was also assisted by another DPP, Natrah Fareha Rahmat.

Lawyer Datuk Seri Rajan Navaratnam, who is representing Adam Radlan, did not object to the bail issue and informed the court regarding additional conditions given by the court before, namely that his client must report to the MACC office in Putrajaya once a month as well as handing his passport over to the court.

Azura then allowed the accused to use the RM300,000 bail set by the Shah Alam Sessions Court earlier along with the same additional conditions besides setting March 23 for the re-mention of the case.

On February 21, Adam Radlan pleaded not guilty in the Sessions Court here to two charges of soliciting and accepting bribes involving the same project while on February 22, he also pleaded not guilty in the Shah Alam Sessions Court to two more charges of accepting bribes amounting to RM4.1 million in relation to similar projects.

Previously, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was reported to have said that the implementation of Jana Wibawa project has been suspended to re-examine whether the procurement procedure is conducted according to the rules set by the treasury.

Ahmad Zahid who is also the Minister of Rural and Regional Development said the postponement of the project involving a value of RM5.7 billion was made because there was an element of the procurement made through selected tenders or direct negotiations. — Bernama

Dewan erupts after MP links Muhyiddin to contract given to son-in-law


Dewan erupts after MP links Muhyiddin to contract given to son-in-law

Kota Melaka MP Khoo Poay Tiong raises allegation when stressing the importance of tackling corruption, triggering shouts from the opposition.

DAP’s Khoo Poay Tiong and PAS’ Awang Hashim were among the MPs involved in a shouting match after Khoo brought up an allegation against PN chairman Muhyiddin Yassin.

KUALA LUMPUR: A shouting match erupted in the Dewan Rakyat today after a backbencher raised an allegation linking Muhyiddin Yassin (PN-Pagoh) to a lucrative contract said to have been awarded to his son-in-law.

Khoo Poay Tiong (PH-Kota Melaka) brought up the allegation when debating Budget 2023, saying it was crucial for the government to tackle corruption.

Awang Hashim (PN-Pendang) interjected, raising Standing Order 36(6), which states that no member of the House shall impute improper motives to any other member.

He demanded that Khoo retract his statement, warning that he would take the matter to court if he failed to do so.

A shouting match then ensued across the aisle before deputy speaker Alice Lau muted the MPs’ microphones and called on Muhyiddin to defend himself.

Muhyiddin, the Perikatan Nasional (PN) chairman, maintained that the allegation was false and intended to tarnish his reputation.

Lau then ordered Khoo to retract his statement after more shouts were heard.

Khoo said he will retract his statement and “reframe” it.

Muhyiddin had previously denied an allegation linking him to a lucrative contract said to have been awarded to his son-in-law, calling it a malicious lie.

He said he was never involved in the awarding of the National Integrated Immigration System (NIISe) contract to IRIS Corporation Bhd, for which there had been an open tender.

The case is being investigated by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.

Deputy finance minister says Malaysia the only country that offers more subsidies to the rich than the poor


Deputy finance minister says Malaysia the only country that offers more subsidies to the rich than the poor

Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan says Malaysia is the only country in the world that offers more subsidies to the rich compared to those who are impoverished. ― Picture by Miera Zulyana

Tuesday, 28 Feb 2023 2:57 PM MYT

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 28 — Malaysia is the only country in the world that offers more subsidies to the rich compared to those who are impoverished, according to Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan.

As example, he said the country’s high income earners form only 10 per cent of the electricity users but use over half of the energy subsidies.

“They are only 10 per cent of the total electricity consumers. So imagine how the subsidies have been misdirected tremendously.

“I think in Malaysia, we are the only country that offers way more subsidies to the rich compared to the poor.

“We don’t know of any other country. If you know, share it with us, if there is another country that offers more subsidies to the rich compared to the poor.

“There is none, right? Only Malaysia,” Ahmad told reporters in Parliament this afternoon.

He said the government is moving to address the gap between the rich and poor through targeted subsidies for electricity consumption, under the purview of the Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Ministry.

“As for other sectors, the timeline on implementation of targeted subsidising will be decided by the Cabinet,” he said.

He also said that Malaysia offers one of the lowest fuel prices in South-east Asia with RON95 grade petrol at RM2.05 a litre.

Ahmad told the Dewan Rakyat earlier this morning that the government spent RM50.8 billion in subsidies for petrol, diesel and liquified petroleum gas (LPG) last year.

In a breakdown of the fuel subsidy consumption, he said the bottom 40 per cent of wage earners is estimated to have used 24 per cent and the middle 40 per cent of income earners used 41 per cent while the top 20 per cent of income earners known as the T20 group used as much as 35 per cent.

He explained that the government is working to reduce the fuel subsidies for those in the top income tier through targeted subsidies so it can save up to RM17 billion and channel those savings into other areas where funds were needed.

He added that the government would not roll back subsidies entirely but manage it so that there would be no wastage.

Senior doctor’s boss made lewd remarks, says furious husband


Senior doctor’s boss made lewd remarks, says furious husband

The man said that despite two inquiries, there had been no response from the health ministry to his wife’s complaints.

The husband of a senior doctor has demanded answers from the health ministry about the lack of response to his wife’s complaints. (File pic)

PETALING JAYA: The husband of a senior doctor who was allegedly subject to sexual harassment by her superior is furious with the lack of response from the health ministry to her complaints.

The husband, who wanted to be known as John, said his wife had lost 20kg because of the stress.

He said she had complained that the director of the hospital where she works had made lewd comments to her in the presence of others. He had made remarks such as “You sepatutnya layan saya”. He had also asked “Are you a lion or a tiger?”

John said his wife had told him the director had also commented on women’s attire during meetings, such as the colour of their undergarments.

He said two inquiries were held by the ministry last year but his wife, a deputy director at the hospital, had yet to be told about the findings. A separate inquiry by the state health department had resulted in a warning to the director, but the man remained in his post.

FMT has sought confirmation from health officials and is awaiting a response.

John said he had made phone calls and sent emails to top ministry officials, and even to the prime minister, to no avail.

An appointment with health minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa last Wednesday was cancelled, presumably because she held a town hall meeting with doctors that evening. Zaliha has told FMT she was open to setting another date.

John said the state health department held an inquiry after being informed that the director had allegedly used foul words and talked about bras and panties at meetings with his wife and other senior doctors assisting in the inquiry.

A warning was issued but the director remained in his post, he said.

He said he and his wife chose not to lodge police reports or take legal action for fear of repercussions from the ministry.

In September 2018, an orthopaedic head of department at a public hospital in the Klang Valley was reportedly suspended for two months after young female officers undergoing housemanship accused him of sexual harassment.

The health minister then, Dzulkefly Ahmad, said complaints made before the media reports had not been handled comprehensively.

“It was only when I put my foot down and said that I was going to get to the bottom of this that many (38 witnesses) voluntarily came forward,” he said, according to New Straits Times.


kt comments:

Unbridled lusts exist everywhere in Malaysia, and indeed ooze disgustingly in copious amount if not seriously contained, as evidenced by Mukhriz Mahathir's revelation that on MyGovernment, which is a “single gateway to all government online services”, the message promoting polygamy said "polygamy is required by Islam, among others, due to the husband’s “incredible sense of sexual desire” that the wife cannot fulfil."

Many have been the times such “incredible sense of sexual desire” spill outside the matrimonial residences.

PM Anwar ‘an old friend of Singapore’, development works at Pedra Branca remains paused, says Singapore FM


PM Anwar ‘an old friend of Singapore’, development works at Pedra Branca remains paused, says Singapore FM

Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is ‘an old friend of Singapore’. — Reuters pic

Monday, 27 Feb 2023 9:54 PM MYT

SINGAPORE, Feb 27 — Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is “an old friend of Singapore,” says the republic’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Vivian Balakrishnan.

“Many Singaporean Ministers have known our Malaysian counterparts in fact for decades, and we have kept in regular contact,” he said during the committee of supply debate at Parliament today.

Balakrishnan was asked by two Members of Parliament (MPs) about Singapore’s relations with Malaysia.

“At the end of January, we welcomed PM Anwar on his introductory visit to Singapore. It was a fruitful visit,” he said.

During the visits, the minister said both countries had signed three G-to-G Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) related to the Framework Agreements on Digital and Green Economy, as well as the MoU on Personal Data Protection, Cybersecurity and Digital Economy.

“And these signal our commitment to work on new and emerging areas of mutual interest.

“We look forward to welcoming PM Anwar back to Singapore later this year for the 10th Leaders’ Retreat,” said Balakrishnan.

The minister stressed that “our close relations with Malaysia are underpinned by strong people-to-people ties and frequent high-level exchanges.”

He said that both sides also have significant ongoing cooperation projects, including the Rapid Transit System (RTS) Link between Singapore and Johor Baru.

“This project will facilitate more convenient two-way travel for the tens of thousands who cross the border every day. It is making good progress and is expected to commence operations by the end of 2026,” he said.

However, the minister noted that as with any friendship, problems will arise from time to time.

Citing an example, Balakrishnan said whilst the issue of sovereignty over Pedra Branca has been conclusively settled Malaysia has raised objections to Singapore’s development works at Pedra Branca.

“These works are needed to enhance maritime safety and security and to improve the search and rescue capabilities in that area. They also ensure that Pedra Branca is adequately protected against the threat of sea-level rise.

Balakrishnan assured the MPs that these development works were fully in accordance with international law and Singapore’s sovereignty over the island and its waters.

“Nevertheless, in the spirit of mutual cooperation and good faith, we temporarily suspended the works in May 2022, to facilitate discussions on Malaysia’s concerns and to comprehensively address Malaysia’s queries.

“In December 2022, Singapore put forward proposals to Malaysia to resolve the issue and to move forward with the work. Subsequently, we agreed to Malaysia’s request for more time for them to consider our clarifications and proposals,” he said.

Presently, the minister informed that the development work remains paused due to the monsoon season.

“We will manage our differences constructively and pragmatically and not allow any single issue to overshadow the entire relationship.”

To a supplementary question by an MP on when the development works at Pedra Branca expected to recommence, Balakrishnan replied : “I am not going to give you a specific date because in fact ongoing discussions are occurring with Malaysia.”

“So, I do not want to complicate it by making public announcements at this point in time. But let us continue this discussion with Malaysia for the time being. There is a deadline, but I do not want to make a public pronouncement yet.” — Bernama

Guan Eng: Govt should set up new sovereign wealth fund to manage oil and gas revenue


Guan Eng: Govt should set up new sovereign wealth fund to manage oil and gas revenue

Lim Guan Eng said the government should set up a new sovereign wealth fund as part of its efforts to improve transparency and accountability in managing oil and gas revenue. — Picture by Hari Anggara

Monday, 27 Feb 2023 8:38 PM MYT

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 27 — The government should set up a new sovereign wealth fund as part of its efforts to improve transparency and accountability in managing oil and gas revenue, said former finance minister Lim Guan Eng.

The Bagan member of parliament said this was better than recommendations to list the national oil company Petroliam Nasional Bhd (Petronas) via an initial public offering (IPO).

Using the Government Pension Fund of Norway (GPFN) as an example, Lim said creating a similar fund is something that can benefit all Malaysians.

“This model is relevant for Petronas because the GPFN has many similarities with the (national oil) company. Like Petronas, the Norwegian fund is a government entity with a long-term mandate to manage wealth from the oil and gas sector.

“Malaysia owes RM1.5 trillion in debts (and liabilities), but the GPFN has more than US$1 trillion (RM4.4 trillion) in assets. The main aim of this fund is to help the Norwegian government ensure the country’s citizens benefit from the pension fund,” he said while debating the Supply Bill 2023 in parliament today.

The GPFN comprises two sovereign wealth funds wholly owned by the Norwegian government.

One of the two funds, the Government Pension Fund Global, also known as the Oil Fund, was established in 1990 to invest in the Norwegian oil sector’s surplus revenue, and it currently owns over US$1.19 trillion in assets and holds 1.4 per cent of all of the world’s listed companies, making it one of the world’s largest sovereign funds.

Lim said Petronas is a national treasure that Malaysians should fully own, and using the company to pay off government debts is moving the responsibility away from those who made the borrowings.

“Therefore, the federal government should settle the debts by itself and not rely on Petronas to do so.

“Whether the IPO of 20 per cent of Petronas’ shares will raise funds of RM300 billion or enable Petronas to gain in revenue is debatable as a similar IPO by Saudi Arabian oil and gas company, Aramco, appeared to have limited success,” he added. — Bernama

Malaysia’s farmers: Floating chicken, egg prices is best way forward


Malaysia’s farmers: Floating chicken, egg prices is best way forward

In the Department of Statistics Malaysia’s (DOSM) December 30 report on a special study on 2022 production costs for chicken and egg in Malaysia, it showed the government paid subsidies of between RM0.60 and RM1.40 per kg of chicken from February to October 2022, and between RM0.03 and RM0.08 per egg during the same period. ― Picture by Farhan Najib

Tuesday, 28 Feb 2023 7:00 AM MY

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 28 — The Malaysian government’s plans to remove price controls for chicken and eggs was the “best way forward” to balance supply and demand compared to artificially managing this with price caps, local farmers have said.

Datuk Jeffrey Ng, an adviser for the Federation of Livestock Farmers’ Associations of Malaysia (FLFAM), said the move was one the association already proposed previously and discussing with the government on its possible implementation.

“For the sake of the whole industry and the whole supply chain, I think floating the market is the way forward,” he told Malay Mail when contacted.

Ng was asked to comment on Agriculture and Food Security Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Sabu’s announcement this week of the government’s plans to float chicken and egg prices in Malaysia after June.

According to Ng, FLFAM represents more than 2,000 chicken and egg producers, effectively all of the farmers available in Peninsular Malaysia.

He confirmed FLFAM’s members have yet to discuss the finer details of the proposed float, and said they must also consult further with the government to understand its mechanisms and implementation.

Ng also said the ideal solution should be one that was mutually beneficial to all stakeholders in order for it to be sustainable.

“We need to find a win-win situation for everyone, from producer to wholesaler to retailer to end consumer,” he said.

When highlighting some of the shortcomings of price controls, Ng noted that this was only imposed on eggs during the shortage a year ago and that prices were floated before then.

A woman shop for chicken and beef at wet market in Kuala Lumpur December 23, 2019. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

With government’s price ceiling, Ng said producers would not get a clear signal on how much they should produce and were sometimes forced to scramble to respond or retool their operations if they did not get enough subsidies or have adequate funds to sustain themselves.

“So, there’s a lot of confusion in everything, in production. This is actually not healthy for the industry,” he said in highlighting drawbacks of a price control system.

Ng said chicken and egg producers consequently had to think hard about whether to operate under price controls, as there would likely be periods they would have to operate at a loss as subsidies would not cover all their costs.

“Is that fair to the producers? But if the subsidy is too high, it’s not fair to consumers or the government too. So, it’s very difficult to balance this kind of scenario,” he said when advocating for the price float.

When asked if the floating the prices of chicken and egg would eliminate the shortages in the past year or even encourage higher supply, Ng said this was something that should be determined by a free market.

As with any other industry, he said more people would enter the egg and poultry sectors if it were lucrative or leave it if it were not profitable or overcrowded.

On whether the float could result in lower prices due to increased competition, Ng said it was one possible outcome of the proposed system.

“But if, for example, the cost of production is going up higher and higher, but consumers are not willing to pay that price and demand drops, you are forced to sell at a lower price, but then you cannot sustain that kind of production.

“You have to reduce production, people have to close down, when that happens, supply will also short. So, there’s a lot of scenarios which could happen, but it’s based on the nature of the free market then,” he said.

Ultimately, a system where prices are floated will enable the supply situation and the demand situation for chicken and eggs in Malaysia to keep rebalancing, and to also result in prices at the right levels.

“It has to self-balance, then the price will find the right level to continue. Clearly, Malaysia’s price is much, much lower than the international price, and whether this can be sustainable or not, I doubt it. Because even if you have to buy it from India, the eggs are more expensive than local eggs, so how to stay at that kind of operation?” he said.

In the Department of Statistics Malaysia’s (DOSM) December 30 report on a special study on 2022 production costs for chicken and egg in Malaysia, it showed the government paid subsidies of between RM0.60 and RM1.40 per kg of chicken from February to October 2022, and between RM0.03 and RM0.08 per egg during the same period.

The report’s data showed the costs to produce eggs — which varied by state — were generally higher than the price ceiling, while costs for chicken tended to fluctuate above and below the maximum allowable prices.

Based on the DOSM report, the production costs last year in Malaysia for Grade A eggs were RM0.53 (per egg), RM0.51 (Grade B), and RM0.49 (Grade C), with the cost averaging out to RM0.48 sen per egg.

But the production costs of eggs would differ according to state, with the highest in the study being Negri Sembilan at RM0.64 (Grade A), RM0.61 (Grade B), and RM0.57 (Grade C).

Currently, the controlled retail price for a standard chicken or a chicken which has been slaughtered, cleaned and with all parts retained was RM9.40 per kg in Peninsular Malaysia; RM9.90 per kg in Langkawi; between RM9.80 and RM12.90 per kg in Sarawak, depending on the district; either RM11 or RM11.30 per kg in Sabah, again based on the district; and RM11.30 per kg in Labuan.

As for eggs based on their weight, the maximum retail prices in Peninsular Malaysia including Langkawi for Grade A, Grade B, Grade C eggs are 45 sen, 43 sen, 41 sen per egg, respectively.

Maximum prices per egg in Sarawak are higher at 47 to 50 sen (Grade A), 45 to 48 sen (Grade B), 43 to 46 sen (Grade C), as well as in Sabah at 50 sen to 51 sen (Grade A), 49 to 50 (Grade B), and 48 to 49 sen (Grade C), while in Labuan it is 51 sen (Grade A), 50 sen (Grade B) and 49 sen (Grade C).

Broiler chickens are seen at a poultry farm in Sepang June 2, 2022. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

Cost factors: Chicken feed, electricity bills, salaries and more

Beyond just looking at the idea of floating prices for chicken and eggs, Ng spoke of the need to look at the whole industry and supply chain to ensure food production remains a viable business and to also prevent food prices from going up for consumers.

For example, the government’s move to increase the price at which electricity is supplied to businesses since January has actually affected the cost of producing chickens, Ng said.

He noted the recent higher electricity bills affect the entire supply chain, such as for chicken feed millers and chicken processing plants who need electricity to produce feed and slaughter and process chickens, noting that those in the supply chain may need to increase prices, which would then also contribute to food costs going up.

In a situation where the aim is to lower food production costs but when electricity costs are increased at the same time, Ng said it would not be sensible for producers to keep bearing the extra cost until it comes to a point where they have to shut down due to financial losses.

While saying government subsidies should be removed if price controls were to be removed for chicken and egg, Ng said there would also be a need to look at the whole picture to manage food costs.

“If you float the price, the subsidy should be removed, but if you want to lower the food bill, some of the things that we have to do, like costs that go to the input of producing food, we need to look at this.

“Just like last time when we had GST, chicken and eggs were not in the GST category, so then chicken and egg cost will be maintained, so it doesn’t affect the food inflation,” he said.

“When the government was talking about or deciding on increasing tariff for electricity, the food industry is something they have to look into, because that increase of tariff will definitely increase the cost of production. If the cost of production goes up, then prices will have to go up, it will have a direct impact on food cost to Malaysia,” he explained.

Last December, the Malaysian government announced that medium voltage and high voltage users including multinational companies would be charged with a surcharge of 20 sen per kWh for the January 1 to June 30, 2023 period due to highest power generation costs, while deciding not to increase electricity charges on households, farmers and businesses which are low-voltage users.

As for the cost of chicken feed, Ng said FLFAM is “still working very closely with the government” to find a way to solve this issue and to explore if there are better alternatives for existing chicken feed options, noting that he believes the price of chicken feed will eventually find a level itself.

There are multiple other aspects that could affect the costs of producing chicken and egg or their related products, with Ng saying that the increase in minimum wages for example do not just affect the salaries for workers at the lower income tier, but also the amount of salaries which farmers have to pay their entire workforce.

While saying government subsidies should be removed if price controls were to be removed for chicken and egg, Ng said there would also be a need to look at the whole picture to manage food costs. — Picture by Hari Anggara

Ng explained that if those receiving minimum wage were to have their salaries increased to match the government’s mandatory minimum levels, other workers such as their supervisors and managers who are in the higher wage brackets too would also expect an increase in their salaries.

He noted that salaries have quite a substantial impact on costs, as processing plants and suppliers to farmers may also have to increase prices due to the increased salaries.

In the same DOSM report, chicken feed, utilities and salaries were among the major contributors to the cost of producing chicken and eggs in Malaysia.

For example, DOSM stated that 96.89 per cent of egg production in Malaysia was direct cost while 3.11 per cent was indirect cost, with the direct cost’s biggest contributor being chicken feed at 76.18 per cent, while the third and fourth highest contributor to direct costs were utilities (8.82 per cent) and salaries and wages (7.02 per cent).

A similar pattern was seen in the production costs of chicken in 2022, with direct cost accounting for 98.61 per cent, and with the direct cost’s biggest contributor being chicken feed (65.13 per cent), and the third and fourth highest contributor to direct costs again being utilities (7.20 per cent) and salaries and wages (5.85 per cent).