Study of freehold land title, to be granted within five years

SEREMBAN: The state government is conducting a detailed study to provide freehold land titles to leasehold housing land as promised in the 14th general election (GE14), said Mentri Besar Aminuddin Harun.

Also the State Assemblyman for Sikamat, Aminuddin said the state government has had several meetings and workshops on the matter to gather more comprehensive information as it involved hundreds of thousands of homes.

He added that the latest was a workshop held on Sept 21 on the conversion of leasehold titles to freehold.

“The implementation will take time and needs careful study, it cannot be done in one or two days or one or two months, we need a really detailed study because it is a problem of the people…that is why we said we will solve all the problems within five years,” he said in reply to a question from Yap Yew Weng (DAP-Mambau) at the second meeting of the first term of the 14th State Legislative Assembly here today.

Yap asked about the status of the state government’s plans to award freehold titles to new villages in Negeri Sembilan which was promised in principle by Pakatan Harapan (PH) before GE14.

Aminuddin said the implementation date has not been decided as the study has not been completed and the government today is working to implement the agenda in a clean and transparent manner.

“However, the freehold status will only be given to homeowners who had lived there before GE14,” he said.

Earlier, in a supplementary question, Yap asked for the implementation date of the manifesto. — Bernama

KLCC to host Taiwan Expo 2018 from Oct 25-27

KUALA LUMPUR: The Taiwan Expo 2018 is set to be held for the second time at the Kuala Lumpur Convention and Exhibition Centre from Oct 25 to 27.

The expo will feature twelve major exhibition pavilions covering eight industry sectors.

The expo is themed “Connect Taiwan, Connect the World” which features 250 booths by 200 companies covering categories such as Smart City, Green Tech, Healthcare, Halal Taiwan, Taiwan Lifestyle and Tour Taiwan.

Felix Chiu Executive director of the Industry Marketing Department, Taiwan External Trade Development Council (TAITRA) expressed his target of achieving 22,000 visitors this year as compared to 20,000 visitors last year and a minimum 10% increase in revenue.

“This year we have had 30 booths that showcases halal products, and we would like visitors to take note of the halal skin care products, ” said Chiu.

In addition to product demonstrations, there will also be several seminars and business exchange meets during the expo emphasising on key themes – Digital forum, Smart Transportation and Healthcare Excellence in the hopes of exploring industrial business opportunities with industry players.

The expo will be held from 10am to 6pm from Oct 25 to 27. Entry is free and visitors only need to register for a visitor’s pass.

Key exhibits during the expo include the world’s first collaborative robot with intelligent visual positioning and the first ever mobile phone 3D printer and various other products and services.

To register for activities or for more information, please visit the official website http://mys.taiwanexposean.com/ or social media platforms www.facebook.com/TaiwanExpo.mys/.

MACC nabs Azeez and his brother

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has arrested Baling MP and Umno supreme council member Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim, and his brother.

A source told theSun that the duo will be charged with money-laundering offences tomorrow. The MACC is expected to issue a statement on the arrests soon.

On May 23, the MACC raided Abdul Azeez’s homes and offices and seized RM500,000 in cash, 20 watches and several pieces of jewellery.

The former Tabung Haji chairman allegedly claimed that part of the money was from his Umno allocation while some foreign currencies were from Kelab Putera 1Malaysia (KP1M).

(MORE TO FOLLOW)

Singapore diplomat urges repeal of ‘antiquated’ gay sex law

SINGAPORE: One of Singapore’s most influential diplomats called Tuesday for the repeal of a law criminalising sex between men, saying it was time for the modern city-state to abandon the “antiquated” legislation.

The Indian Supreme Court’s decision earlier this month to decriminalise homosexual sex has sparked fresh debate in Singapore, and a new legal challenge has been lodged against the city’s anti-gay sex law.

Sex between men remains illegal in Singapore under “Section 377A” of the penal code, inherited from the British colonial era, although it is rarely enforced.

Tommy Koh, a veteran diplomat and former ambassador to the United Nations and the US, wrote in a column for the pro-government newspaper The Straits Times that the statute should be abandoned.

“Section 377A is an antiquated law, not supported by science, and should be repealed,” said Koh, an international law expert and ambassador at large in the foreign ministry.

The 80-year-old said Singapore is one of a minority of countries that still outlaw sodomy because the law was inherited from the old British penal code.

“For a country which embraces science and technology, it is surprising that, on this one aspect, the law has not been updated in light of the scientific evidence,” he said.

Koh said the World Health Organization had removed homosexuality from its list of mental disorders, and while religious leaders consider sodomy a sin it should not be a crime.

The last time a challenge was brought against the law was in 2014 but the city-state’s appeals court dismissed it, saying it was up to parliament to repeal the law.

Singaporean DJ Johnson Ong lodged a new challenge earlier this month. Lawyers for Ong, known as DJ Big Kid, said they will seek to show the ban runs counter to the constitution’s guarantee of personal liberty.

While affluent Singapore boasts a modern and vibrant culture, official attitudes toward homosexuality remain conservative.

But public support for gay rights has been growing, with thousands turning up in recent years for Singapore’s annual Pink Dot gay rights rally. — AFP

No respite for relatives of Ethiopia’s disappeared

ADDIS ABABA: When Ethiopia released thousands of prisoners earlier this year, Hannah Tesemma hoped her three siblings and cousin, seized from the streets 24 years ago, would be among them.

They were not, so Hannah and her sister took a banner calling for their release to a rally for new Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, sticking around even after a deadly grenade attack disrupted the gathering in the capital Addis Ababa.

“We aren’t living, so why should we hide?” Hannah said of her decision to openly challenge the popular prime minister in public.

Still, she has received no word on their whereabouts.

Since taking office in April, Abiy has pursued an aggressive reform agenda that includes trying to right some of the wrongs committed by his party, the Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Democratic Front (EPRDF).

He has released scores of jailed dissidents and publicly admitted that the security forces tortured detainees.

But he has yet to bring closure for Hannah and many other Ethiopians whose friends and family opposed the EPRDF and were never seen again.

“Our family has been torn apart,” Hannah told AFP, tears in her eyes. “Why do we have to suffer like this?”

Enforced disappearances

The EPRDF took power in 1991 after defeating the Derg military junta, establishing itself as the sole ruler in Africa’s second most-populous country.

Hannah’s brother Menelik Tesemma, 19 at the time, was active in an opposition party, the All-Amhara People’s Organisation.

Not long after giving a forceful speech at a party meeting in 1994, plainclothes security agents in an unmarked car intercepted Menelik and his cousin.

That evening Hannah’s other brothers, twins aged 21, went out looking for the pair after neighbours told them about the arrests. Security agents seized them too.

None has been seen since: there were no court appearances, no police records.

Once, Hannah secured a meeting with a government official who listened to her story before dismissing it, saying, “Our government would not do such things”.

But in the early 1990s, as the EPRDF consolidated power, the enforced disappearance of opponents was an explicit strategy, said Fisseha Tekle, a researcher with Amnesty International.

Having survived the Derg’s bloody purges against his Ethiopian People’s Revolutionary Party (EPRP), 47-year-old Berhanu Ejigu was arrested by plainclothes police in 1994.

It was months before his brother Gebeyehu Ejigu was told he could visit Berhanu in a jail cell.

But when he got there, the man they showed him was not his brother.

“There are fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, wives and husbands, loved ones mysteriously disappeared. Every one of those needs closure,” Gebeyehu said.

He believes his brother is one of tens of thousands of disappeared, but Fisseha says the exact number is hard to know.

“You can count the allegations, but you can’t find out the number of people who have ‘been disappeared’ (under) this kind of government,” he said.

The search for truth

A prime target for the government’s tactic of enforced disappearance was the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).

“Some people who disappeared just left the office and never returned,” said Leenco Lata, a top official in the OLF when it fell out with the EPRDF in the early 1990s.

Family members sometimes made desperate attempts to find their vanished loved ones.

After Lencho Bati’s brother, an OLF official, was taken in 1992, their father travelled to the northern Tigray region where the disappeared were thought to have been put to work building roads.

He would watch work crews closely, hoping to catch sight of his missing son Yosef Bati. He never did.

“I do not expect my brother is alive,” said Lencho, a former OLF spokesman, who still hopes one day to recover his brother’s remains, so he can bury them.

Today, the EPRDF and its allies hold every seat in parliament and political opposition is weak.

Abiy has welcomed once-banned groups like the OLF back into the country and made forgiveness a theme in speeches, but has yet to resolve the issue of enforced disappearances.

“Right now, the government is talking about forgiveness, but the truth should be a priority,” said Fisseha.

Recently billboards with the words “Where are they?” have appeared in Oromia, alongside images of the missing, such as Bekele Dawano Hebeno, an OLF member who disappeared in 1992.

His son, Edao, has made repeated trips from his home in the US, seeking information, but to no avail, leaving him and his family in a terrible limbo.

“Right now my family are standing in between death and life,” he said during a recent trip to Addis Ababa.

That will only change, he said, when he learns the truth of what happened to his father. — AFP

Pogba takes aim at Mourinho’s negative tactics

LONDON: Paul Pogba launched a blistering critique of Manchester United’s defensive-minded tactics in Saturday’s draw with Wolverhampton Wanderers, which is likely to infuriate manager Jose Mourinho.

The 25-year-old French World Cup winning midfielder said there were no excuses for not attacking in home games.

The draw — played out in front of legendary former manager Alex Ferguson who made his first appearance at a match since undergoing emergency brain surgery in May — left United in seventh, eight points behind leaders Liverpool.

“We are at home and we should play much better against Wolves. We are here to attack,” Pogba told the media after the match.

“When we play like (that) it’s easier for us”.

Asked what is stopping United attacking more, Pogba said: “I can’t tell you because I’m a player. It’s not me”.

Pogba’s criticism comes shortly after it appeared that he and Mourinho were mending their rift, with the Portuguese manager saying on Friday that success at the World Cup had sparked Pogba into performing well.

Pogba, who hasn’t lived up to expectations since his then world record £89 million ($116 million) move from Juventus in 2016, had been angered by Mourinho’s remarks in July that he had played much better at the World Cup because he was not surrounded by his entourage.

“I think teams are scared when they see Manchester United attacking and attacking. That was our mistake,” said Pogba.

“Maybe the attitude should be better and we should play better because, again, we are at Old Trafford and we should just attack and press like we did against Tottenham, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal last season”.

Pogba laughed when it was put to him were United lacking pace and mobility.

“I’m not the manager, I cannot say that,” he said.

“Obviously we should show more options but I cannot say that because I’m a player.

“That’s my way of thinking – we should move better, yeah”. — AFP

SERC expects leaner, meaner but supportive Budget 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: The Socio-Economic Research Centre (SERC) expects a leaner and meaner but supportive Budget 2019.

The think tank’s executive director Lee Heng Guie told reporters at a media briefing that the percentage of growth of both operating and development expenditures could be reduced.

Besides emoluments, debt services and pension which are fixed components of the opex, the government might be weighing on areas where it can cut its spending or rationalise expenditure.

On development expenditure, Lee said the mid-term review of the 11th Malaysia Plan could provide a guidance on how this will materialise in the Budget.

Necessary yet unpopular fiscal restoration measures and new taxes could also help plug the large financing gap in the budget.

The focus of this upcoming budget according to Lee is likely be on rationalising fuel subsidies and cost saving in terms of procurement while cost of living aid is likely to reviewed to make it conditional.

Lee added that corporate tax and individual income tax is unlikely to be raised.

He noted that new form of taxes such as soda tax, inheritance tax, capital gain tax on share transaction and e-hailing or e-commerce/ digits business tax are some taxes the government could take into consideration.

SERC’s proposed measures and initiatives for Budget 2019 to ease cost of living includes tax relief on rental, discount on food card at eateries, reintroducing RM100 monthly pass for unlimited LRT and bus rides, incentivising rent-to-own scheme and strict price surveillance and enforcement.

It has also proposed for an independent panel to be set up to review cost of doing business, streamlining regulatory practices and compliance cost.

The Budget 2019 to be tabled on November 2, will be the first by the Pakatan Harapan government.