Govt agencies’ to go down to villages to provide services in Batu Sapi: Liew

SANDAKAN: Batu Sapi Member of Parliament Datuk Liew Vui Keong will give priority to government agencies’ ‘turun padang’ (go down to the ground) to the villages in the parliamentary constituency.

The Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) permanent chairman said this was to ensure that villagers did not have to travel far to visit government agencies’ offices.

He said the programme would commence in July and government agencies involved included the National Registration Department, Health Department, Social Welfare Department and Land and Survey Department.

He said through the programme, government agencies would provide services, advice and relevant information to the people.

“In Warisan, we want to make a difference and we want the people not only to benefit from the services of various government agencies that are available but also in terms of accessibility,” he said. — Bernama

Perlis MB confusion caused by lack of communication

KANGAR: Perlis Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman Datuk Seri Dr Shahidan Kassim did not know that Datuk Seri Azlan Man was chosen by the party’s top leadership to be appointed as mentri besar, according to Perlis Umno Youth chief Syed Atif Syed Abu Bakar.

He said the crisis in the state might not have happened and that Shahidan and the nine BN assemblymen might have responded differently if they knew that Azlan had been the preferred choice of the party leadership to be appointed as the Mentri Besar of Perlis.

Syed Atif claimed that on May 22, Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, as the top leaders of the party that won the general election in Perlis, had an audience with the Raja of Perlis Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Putra Jamalullail to present the list of potential candidates to be appointed as mentri besar.

“There were two names in the list, namely Datuk Seri Azlan and Datuk Ismail Kassim. Reliable sources said that both Zahid and Hishammuddin agreed that Azlan be appointed as the Mentri Besar of Perlis.

“However, Shahidan and all the other BN assemblymen in Perlis were not informed of the decision, causing them to continue giving their support to Ismail,” he said in a statement here today.

Syed Atif said without knowing about the approval and decision made by the party’s top leadership, all the Perlis BN assemblymen jumped into conclusion that Azlan had acted in total disregard of the party when he accepted the appointment.

The proposal for Azlan’s immediate expulsion from the party was made last Thursday, right after he was sworn in as the Mentri Besar of Perlis for the second term at the Istana Arau.

Syed Atif said right before the announcement of Azlan’s expulsion, a meeting with BN top leadership was held in Kuala Lumpur.

“At that moment, the assemblymen were torn between attending the swearing-in ceremony and the call to meet with the party’s top leadership in Kuala Lumpur as both events took place at almost the same time.

“However, the nine BN assemblymen opted to attend the meeting to discuss and listen to the message from the party’s top leadership,” he said.

Shahidan had earlier announced that Ismail would be appointed as mentri besar after BN won 10 out of the 15 state seats in Perlis in the May 9 general election. — Bernama

Federal govt urged to build vocational school for special needs children in S’wak

  KUCHING: The federal government is urged to look into building a vocational school for special needs children in the state. Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Child Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah pointed out that currently there is no such institution that caters to honing skills of special needs children. “There is no […]

EU’s Barnier urges UK to accept EU court deal for Brexit

BRUSSELS: EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier warned Britain on Saturday that failing to agree a deal on the governance of a withdrawal treaty which preserves the primacy of the EU court would mean no treaty and no transition period.

Barnier also described British delays in spelling out what kind of trade relationship London wants as “a game of hide and seek” in remarks prepared for delivery to a gathering in Portugal of jurists specialised in EU law.

He chided British criticism of EU positions as a “blame game”, urging London to recognise that it could not retain many elements of EU membership after Brexit.

The sharp tone of the former French minister’s remarks follow several days of talks in Brussels between his team of EU negotiators and their British counterparts, after which a senior EU official dismissed as “fantasy” both London’s overall proposals for future close relations and an offer to avoid a disruptive “hard border” between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland.

British ministers said those remarks were not “helpful”.

Barnier said he was ready to have “political level” talks to try to advance in three key areas where uncertainty remains, 10 months before Britain is due to leave in March 2019 — how to rule on future disputes over the withdrawal treaty, a “backstop” solution for the Irish border and a framework for future ties.

Referring to discussions within Prime Minister Theresa May’s government on whether to drop an insistence on having no customs union, he said: “If the United Kingdom would like to change its own red lines, it must tell us. The sooner the better.”

“We are asking for clarity,” he added. “A negotiation cannot be a game of hide and seek.”

On the issue of the governance of a withdrawal treaty, which both sides hope to have ready around October, Barnier repeated the EU’s insistence that primacy of the European Court of Justice inside the Union be maintained in regulating any dispute that could not be resolved by a joint committee appointed by the political leadership of the two sides.

“We cannot accept that a jurisdiction other that the Court of Justice of the European Union determines the law and imposes its interpretation on the institutions of the Union,” he said.

The role of British judges would be respected, he added.

But without an agreement on this, the whole deal would collapse: “Without an agreement on governance, there will be no withdrawal agreement and so no transition period.”

Many businesses are counting on an interim accord to maintain a broad status quo between Britain and the EU after Brexit until the end of 2020.

Barnier, who has been hoping to making substantial progress on key issues before May meets fellow EU leaders at a Brussels summit in a month, also criticised what he called a “blame game”
in which British officials were accusing the EU of failing to show flexibility to allow continued close cooperation in areas such as security, the economy and research.

This, Barnier said, was to ignore the close legal framework within the EU which was the basis for trust and cooperation among its nation-state members. “We cannot share this decision-making autonomy with a third country,” he said.

“The United Kingdom must face up to the reality of the Union … It is one thing to be inside the Union and another to be on the outside.” — Reuters

Need for national debt policy review: Ramon Navaratnam

KUALA LUMPUR: The national debt policy must be reviewed, revised and monitored more closely in order to avoid mistakes of the past, according to the Asian Strategy & Leadership Institute (Asli) Centre of Public Policy Studies.

In making the suggestion, its chairperson Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam said this must be done to prevent the country from falling into deeper debt.

“There has to be a new debt policy that is comprehensive and transparent for the rakyat (people) to appreciate and approve,” he said in a statement today.

The new Pakatan Harapan (PH) government has revealed that the federal government debt and liabilities amounted to a total of RM1.087 trillion as at Dec 31, 2017.

He said the debt revelation was a welcome tribute to transparency and accountability and showed a definite move towards greater integrity and more good governance.

“We can only hope that the new PH government will carry on this high commitment to good governance persistently and consistently in the future.

“Otherwise, even the new PH government will face severe criticism as evidenced by the strong and unprecedented reaction against the past Barisan Nasional government’s poor performance and an indifference to good governance,” he added. — Bernama

One of nine Perlis BN assemblymen attends briefing with MB

KANGAR: One of the nine Barisan Nasional (BN) State Assemblymen who were absent at Istana Arau last Thursday, attended a briefing with Perlis Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azlan Man at his official residence, here today.

Kayang Assemblyman Hamizan Hassan, who was one of the BN elected representatives who were absent at the appointment and swearing-in ceremony for the Mentri Besar, was learnt to be at the Residency Hall at the official residence for a briefing on the Umno Assembly and Official Opening of the Kangar Umno division clustered meeting of its branches and wings.

When approached by reporters after the briefing, Hamizan said he attended the briefing today in his capacity as the Kangar Division Umno Youth head and his responsibility as an elected representative.

“The Mentri Besar and I are both in the same division and the purpose of the meeting today was to discuss matters pertaining to Umno activities in the division,” he said, declining further comment.

However, when asked whether his attendance today demonstrated his support for the appointment of Azlan as the Mentri Besar, he said: “I obey what the Tuanku (Raja Perlis Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Putra Jamalullail) said.”

Last Thursday, nine BN Assemblymen were absent at Istana Arau as they claimed that Azlan’s appointment as the Mentri Besar did not get the majority support of the BN Assemblymen.

On the other hand, they were with the State BN chairman, Datuk Seri Dr Shahidan Kassim in Kuala Lumpur and Shahidan later held a media conference announcing the proposal to expel Azlan from the party. — Bernama

Pair of Japanese premium melons sell for record $29,300

  TOKYO: A single pair of premium melons on Saturday fetched a record 3.2 million yen ($29,300, or roughly over RM116,430) at auction in Japan, where the fruit is regarded as a status symbol. Seasonal fruit offerings in Japan routinely attract massive sums from buyers seeking social prestige, or from shop owners wanting to attract customers […]

Socso does its bit by getting raya clothes for 12 orphans

TAWAU: Joy radiated on the faces of the 12 orphans taken on a shopping trip to buy new raya clothes, which was organised by the Social Security Organisation (Socso), today.

All of them were taken to the BTC Textile Emporium and given the opportunity to choose their own favourite garments. They were accompanied by 20 Socso employees including Socso Prihatin Squad Unit executive officer, Ratna Palurui.

Ratna said the allocation for the Raya aid was from zakat collection of Socso members and distributed back to eligible beneficiaries.

“Last year, Socso implemented the distribution of basic needs programme in conjunction with Raya, this time we bought clothes,” he said adding this year three eligible families of contributors received the Socso aid.

Meanwhile, Nurul Shazwina Natasha Edward, 13, said this was the first time she was celebrating Hari Raya Adilfitri without her father who died last year due to an electric shock.

“After father’s death, other people accompanied us to buy raya clothes and the feeling was different, it was not the same as father being with us and helping to choose the garments,” said the sixth of nine siblings.

Shazwina and her three other brothers, aged 10, 9 and 7, who were among the Socso aid recipients, came to the clothing store accompanied by her brother, Muhd Raffi, 25, to choose the clothes.

Muhd Raffi when met expressed his gratitude to Socso for helping to provide raya garments for his four younger siblings.

“After this, I only have to buy clothes for myself and two younger siblings in Form Six and Four while two more younger siblings who are in Kuala Lumpur can afford to buy their own clothes,” said the chef at Hotspring Park here with a smile.

Muhd Raffi, who looks after his six siblings, lives in Kampung Pasir Putih with their uncle after his father, a former contractor with Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd, died while his mother had remarried.

Meanwhile, Suhaina Mussi, 34, a widow, whose husband Syabturani Abd Halim had died of cancer earlier this year, said Socso had brought a ray of raya happiness to her four children, aged one to 10 years old, when they were taken to buy new raya clothes. — Bernama