Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Petrol prices cut by 10 sen

The government has cut petrol and diesel prices by 10 sen each to RM2.45 and RM2.40 per litre effective from tomorrow, according to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

The cut is the second in two months after hiking pump prices by as much as 78 cents in June. The hike had gone down badly with the public, sparking an outcry and even street protests.

Abdullah said in a statement the price of RON97 will be lowered by 10 sen to RM2.45 per litre, RON92 by 10 sen to RM2.30, while diesel would also be reduced by 10 sen to RM2.40 per litre.

The prime minister said the recent fall in world oil prices plus the weakening of the ringgit gave the government a window of opportunity to lower local pump prices.

Reductions in time for Hari Raya

With Hari Raya imminent, he hoped the reduction would help to lighten the burden of consumers and travellers who traditionally spend more during the festive season.

"Based on the formula we have prescribed in determing retail pump prices, the reduction of 10 sen is the best that we can give," Abdullah said.

Abdullah had previously said if world crude prices stabilised at US$109 per barrel, the government may consider another 15 cents reduction in price.

The government last month lowered pump prices by 15 sen or 5.6 percent to RM2.55 per litre.

Decision on Oct 7 on sodomy trial transfer

PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim, who is back in the Sessions Court today over the sodomy charge levelled against him by a former aide, will know in two weeks whether the case will be transfered to a higher court.

Sessions judge SM Komathy Suppiah set Oct 7 for her decision after hearing arguments this morning from both the prosecution and the defence counsel on whether the case should be transferred to the High Court.

The prosecution had earlier sought permission for the matter to be transferred to the High Court.

However, the defence team objected to the transfer notice as it was signed by attorney-general (AG) Abdul Gani Patail.

Their objection was on the basis that the AG should not have played any role in this case as he was being investigated following a complaint that the had tampered with evidence in Anwar's cases 10 years ago.

The proceedings started today with the prosecution, led by prosecution head Mohd Yusof Zainal Abiden submitting in favour of a transfer of the case.

Mohd Yusof said Abdul Gani had no direct role in the prosecution of this case. Therefore, the transfer order, although signed by the AG, was valid.

Responding to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's previous assurance that Abdul Gani would not be involved in any way in the Anwar trial, Mohd Yusof said: "At the end of the day, the PM can say anything."

Citing case law, Mohd Yusof told the judge that she had no choice but to transfer the case to the High Court.

Security high at court complex

At the Jalan Duta court complex, security was heightened again for the hearing, with several federal reserve unit trucks on standby and police personnel posted at various locations.

Two layers of police security were also in place for those registering to enter the court room.

Anwar arrived at the court complex at 9.50am and entered the courtroom eight minutes later. The hearing started at 10am.

The opposition leader was accompanied by his wife Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and daughter Nurul Izzah.

Asked by reporters about the possible outcome of the hearing, Anwar said: "You never know (about) justice in this country".

About 50 supporters and several party leaders were present as a show of support.

Anwar had claimed trial on Aug 7 when charged with sodomising his former aide, 23-year-old Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan.

If convicted, he could face a 20-year jail term. He is currently out on a RM20,000 personal bond.

There is some fear among his supporters that his bail could be revoked, resulting in Anwar being held in prison while awaiting his trial - a process that could take months.

However, the issue was not raised in court previously and was not raised today either.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Raja Petra to be sent to Kamunting

Malaysia Today editor Raja Petra Kamarudin will be sent to Kamunting Detention Centre in Taiping, Perak today to begin his two-year detention under the Internal Security Act, said his lawyer.

The home minister has signed his detention order last night to be held without trial under section 8 of the tough security law. Under the Act, the government can renew his detention indefinitely.

Lawyers said that the police had informed them this morning that they would be taking Raja Petra to the detention centre.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court is to hear a habeas corpus bid by Raja Petra's lawyers to overturn the detention of the controversial blogger today.

Habeas corpus is a writ ordering prisoners to be brought before a judge to ascertain if there are any procedural defects which could render their detention unlawful.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Najib: No ringgit re-peg

Deputy Prime Minister and newly appointed Finance Minister Najib Abdul Razak today denied the government was considering a move to re-peg the ringgit.

MCPXNajib, who took over the finance portfolio from Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi last week, also said the cabinet had yet to decide on whether to further reduce the petrol price.

The government had last month reduced pump prices by 15 cents RM2.55 or 5.6 percent in a bid to appease the public, unhappy with an earlier decision in June that saw fuel prices hiked by as much as 70 cents.

Najib said the government was committed to allowing the market to determine the value of the ringgit.

Speculation about an impending re-peg had swirled after former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad called on the government to reintrodue the mechanism over the weekend.

Mahathir, also a former finance minister, had argued a peg would lessen the effect of the global slowdown on the local currency, which has lost more than 5 percent in value since the start of this year.

The outspoken 82-year old had together with Second Finance Minister Nor Mohamed Yakcop orchestrated the overnight banning of overseas trading in both local shares and the ringgit during the Asian financial crisis in a bid to stop capital flight from the country.

The ringgit was fixed at RM3.80 to the US dollar on Sept 1, 1998. Unpopular with investors, the peg was finally scrapped on July 21, 2005 and the ringgit is now on a managed float against a basket of currencies.

MIC says it again: Release the Hindraf 5

MIC president S Samy Velly today urged the government to release the five Hindraf leaders who were detained under the ISA last December as they no longer pose a threat to the national security.

"It's about time that they are released as they pose no danger to the security of the country.

"The government should not hold them any longer as it will prolong the Indian community's ill-feelings towards the government," said the former works minister in a statement today.

He further added that the detention without trial punishment meted out to the five Hindraf leaders did not correspond with their actions.

The five - R Kengadharan, 41, M Manoharan, 47, V Ganabatirau, 35, P Uthayakumar, 47, and K Vasantha Kumar, 35 - were arrested on Dec 13 for their role in organising a campaign to highlight the plights of the Indian community in this country.

This is not the first time MIC has called for the release of the Hindraf 5. It first made the call after the March 8 general election.

The party performed badly in the polls with many of its candidates losing their seats, including Samy Vellu who lost in his traditional stronghold Sungai Siput. Many attributed the party's woeful performance on its ineffectiveness in handling the community matters.

Chance to win back the voters

Today, Samy Vellu said that the five should be released unconditionally.

"They only voiced out the problems and the frustrations of the Indian community.

"Similarly, the MIC has also been doing the same for the past few decades ... so why detain them any longer?" he asked.

Samy Vellu said many Barisan Nasional "die-hards" among the Indian community had voted for the opposition in the last general election as they felt that the five Hindraf leaders had been detained unjustly.

"It is not because they loved the opposition or they wanted a change but rather they vented their anger on the (BN) government," he said.

He said the BN could regain their support if the five Hindraf leaders were released.

"I had asked the prime minister to release them on several occasions and also raised the matter at two BN Supreme Council meetings," he said.

He said that he would raise the matter again when he meets Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi soon.