PUTRAJAYA (May 15): The duration of the Festive Season Price Control Scheme (FSPCS) for Aidilfitri this year has been extended to 30 days compared with... [...]
The legendary Hollywood actress will be missed, but her impact on Hollywood and her animal rights activism will live on. [...]
Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak arrives at the Federal Court in Putrajaya March 27, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
KUALA LUMPUR, May 15 — It’s Day 18 of Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s criminal trial today, but what if you have not kept track of all the goings-on in court or are just simply overwhelmed by all the shocking revelations?We at Malay Mail think you will find this condensed summary useful. Here are some quick facts before we dive into the details of what has taken place so far.Najib, 66, was prime minister of Malaysia from April 2009 to May 2018, and finance minister from September 2008 to May 2018.He was charged with abusing the two positions to obtain RM42 million for his gratification by being involved in the government’s decision to issue a federal guarantee for the Retirement Fund Incorporated’s (KWAP) RM4 billion loan to SRC International Sdn Bhd.He was also charged with criminal breach of trust and money-laundering over RM42 million of SRC International funds.The company was initially owned by controversial state investment firm 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) before it was put under the sole ownership of the Finance Ministry's Minister of Finance (MoF) Inc.The trial started on April 3 with the Attorney General Tommy Thomas outlining what the prosecution aimed to prove; 35 witnesses have already testified so far while 35 volumes totalling around 7,000 pages of documents have been presented by the prosecution to Najib's lawyers.Now that you are primed, get ready to jump into this simplified recap and highlights of what the prosecution witnesses (PW) and multiple documents have revealed in the past 17 days of trial:1. Before SRC International was bornThe 28th prosecution witness (PW28) Datuk Kamariah Noruddin, former deputy director general (Macro) of the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) in the Prime Minister’s Office, revealed that 1MDB had via Najib applied for a RM3 billion federal grant for SRC International to secure energy supplies.However, Kamariah described 1MDB's August 2010 application for RM3 billion as challenging for the EPU to process as it came directly from the prime minister instead of the usual route of other Cabinet members; also, SRC International was not even set up yet then.The EPU finally approved in October 2010 only RM20 million to establish SRC International, which was then formed on January 7, 2011. (More info on SRC International can be found here in this Malay Mail story.)2. How RM4 billion entered SRC InternationalAs a newly-formed company, SRC International approached KWAP in June 2011 for a RM3.95 billion loan with 1MDB as the guarantor. (This was via a letter addressed to PM Najib and which allegedly contained his handwritten note of approval to the proposal to borrow from KWAP).PW29 Amirul Imran Ahmat, who was the KWAP officer tasked with drafting proposals for loans sought by SRC International, hinted at what he believed to be the reluctance of the pension fund to lend money to the company.Amirul initially drafted in 2011 a proposal for a RM1 billion loan instead, amid the absence of multiple supporting documents, but the KWAP investment panel on July 5, 2011 deferred its decision until more information was available.Amirul then had to prepare a proposal for a RM2 billion loan to SRC International, which was discussed at the KWAP investment panel meeting on July 19, 2011 in which the KWAP CEO disclosed that Najib had asked to speed up the loan approval.The KWAP investment panel had raised multiple concerns over the issuing of a RM2 billion loan to SRC International that only had RM2 in paid-up capital and the overconcentration of risk in one company.SRC International finally got its first RM2 billion from KWAP in August 2011 after securing a government guarantee for the loan. (This first loan was for the purpose of SRC International's working capital and general investments).SRC International received another RM2 billion in March 2012 from KWAP, within about two weeks of applying for the second loan that was also backed by a government guarantee letter signed by Najib. (This second loan was for the purpose of SRC International's working capital and investments linked to natural resources.)3. What did SRC International do with its funds?According to bank officers who have testified, a total of RM85 million flowed out from SRC International's AmIslamic Bank account-650 (where the second RM2 billion loan was transferred from KWAP) a few years later to SRC International's subsidiary Gandingan Mentari Sdn Bhd's AmIslamic Bank account.Bank documents also showed Gandingan Mentari transferred a total of RM50 million to SRC International's purported corporate social responsibility partner Ihsan Perdana Sdn Bhd's Affin Bank account.Ihsan Perdana was later shown to have transferred a total of RM42 million to two of Najib's personal AmIslamic Bank accounts ending with -880 and -906.4. How money in Najib’s accounts was spentNajib's two earlier accounts at AmIslamic Bank were closed on August 2013 with a total remaining balance of over RM12 million, and replaced with three accounts at AmIslamic Bank that were all opened on July 2013.The three new Najib accounts were all specially indicated with AmPrivate Banking-1MY, AmPrivate Banking-MY, AmPrivate Banking Y-1MY as the primary name and with Najib's name as the secondary name of the account holder, AmBank Jalan Raja Chulan branch manager R. Uma Devi said.These three Najib accounts had account numbers, but it appears that such information may not necessarily show up in all banking documents at other banks on transactions involving these accounts.AmPrivate Banking-1MY is 2112022011-880, AmPrivate Banking-MY is 2112022011-906, AmPrivate Banking-Y1MY is 2112022011-898. (The two accounts ending -880 and -906 were singled out by the attorney general on the first day of trial as part of the money flows the prosecution will prove.)During the trial, Mayb [...]
PUTRAJAYA : It's another four days of remand for a Kuala Lumpur City Hall senior official who allegedly received RM200,000. [...]
A model walks the runway for the Longchamp Fall/Winter 2019 show during New York Fashion Week February 9, 2019 in New York City. — AFP pic
NEW YORK, May 10 ― New York’s Fashion Week will last no more than five days this fall, the Council of Fashion Designers of America announced yesterday, a move insiders have been urging for years to strengthen the event.The women’s shows, which traditionally kicked off on a Wednesday night, will this year begin the evening of Friday, September 6 and run through the evening of Wednesday, September 11.New York’s Fashion Week has been floundering for several seasons, with a number of top designers including Tommy Hilfiger, Zac Posen, Altuzarra, Alexander Wang, Thom Brown and Virgil Abloh opting out of the event.“This effort is not only for US industry and talent but will also serve as the change needed to further globalise New York Fashion Week,” the CFDA said in a statement, also tweeting that its incoming president Tom Ford played a role in the decision.“CFDA remains committed to promoting and supporting home-grown talent while positioning New York as a destination for diversity and discovery.”The change marks the first order of business under American designer Ford, who will officially take up his new post June 1 but is already calling shots.Ford’s background is a significant departure from that of his predecessor Diane Von Furstenberg, who chaired the CFDA for 13 years.Her house “DVF” has called New York home for half a century, while Ford, a Texan by birth, worked in Italy and England for a time before settling in Los Angeles.“When I came in they needed a mother,” Von Furstenberg told the trade publication Business of Fashion. “Now they need a statesman.”“What I think is great about Tom, a designer that all designers respect and admire, is that he’s a global person.”Ford, who is credited with reviving Gucci in the early 1990s, had already hinted he would play his man of the world card as much as possible.“Coming back from Europe, what’s stunning to me was the isolation I feel here,” he told Business of Fashion.“What American fashion needs to become in order to be more relevant in the world is to think of itself as not just American but as international.” ― AFP [...]
Sony's latest game for the Playstation 4, is post-apocalyptic shooter Days Gone. [...]
My trip to Vietnam might be slightly unusual. While most tourists flock Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi and did a quick day-trip to Central Vietnam, I decided to focus on Central Vietnam cities — Da Nang, Hoi An and Hue. After this trip, I am convinced that Central Vietnam deserves more than just a day-trip. Lucky me, I spent five days exploring and was able to discover the unique vibe of each place.
5 Days in Central Vietnam
Day 1: Hit the beach in Da Nang
If you love suntanning and swimming in the crystal clear water, Da Nang should be your safe haven. With the best coastlines in Vietnam in my opinion, Da Nang greeted me with a beautiful view from My Khe Beach. When I went there on a weekday, there was almost no one else — perfect! I just lay down on the sun deck loungers enjoying the breeze and was soon fast asleep. What a great way to start this trip!
Of course, I would recommend you to stay at the hotels or resorts alongside this beach. My pick will be Holiday Beach Danang Hotel & Resort, for easy access to the beach and stunning sunrise views.
Day 2: Climb Marble Mountains Da Nang and transfer to Hoi An
Just twenty minutes’ drive from Da Nang is a cluster of five limestone and marble hills called Marble Mountains. The climb starts in the morning and includes caves, tunnels and Buddhist temples. My favourite part of the hike was definitely the panoramic views of Da Nang at the summit.
From Marble Mountains, it is pretty easy to get to Hoi An. The transfer from Da Nang to Hoi An is a short distance; about 30 to 40 minutes. A former trading port dating back to the 7th century, Hoi An is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s immensely popular among tourists for its old quarter of Chinese assembly houses and guildhalls, a Japanese-style bridge, French colonial houses, art galleries, restaurants and cafes.
Out of the many Hoi An hotels in the heart of the old quarter, I’d recommend Little Hoi An. The charming boutique hotel is situated close to the night market, overlooking the tranquil Thu Bon River.
Day 3: Explore the old quarter of Hoi An
Be prepared to be blown away by the beauty of Hoi An old quarter, I certainly was! Walking around the vibrant yellow-weathered walls with a sight of pink bougainvillaeas, colourful lanterns and heritage buildings was a quaint experience. Vehicles are prohibited from entering the old quarter — save for bicycles, rickshaws and mopeds — so I could take my time exploring the quiet streets.
In the evening, the laid-back and dreamy atmosphere around the Thu Bon River attracts tourists to hang out with a pint or two. Some also opt for a river cruise on wooden boats, but I preferred staying in the quarter a bit longer.
By nightfall, Hoi An is magical with the colourful lanterns lit up.
The old quarter turns into a foodie haven. Food options range from restaurants and cafes to street vendors by the river. I went straight to the food stalls got myself some Vietnamese delicacies.
Always remember to have the famous Vietnamese spring rolls or pho noodles!
Day 4: Make a day trip to imperial city Hue
Hue was formerly the national capital and political, cultural and religious centre of Vietnam. The city was ruled by the Nguyen Dynasty until the abdication of Emperor Bao Dai in 1945. When the communist government took over, the capital city moved from Hue to Hanoi.
The main attraction of Hue is its sprawling 19th-century Imperial Citadel with palaces and shrines within the compound. The Forbidden Purple City was where the royal families used to live. Today, you can only see very little remnants of the citadel-within-a-citadel-within-a-citadel. Most of the remnants are almost lost, covered in weeds.
Day 5: Explore other areas of Hoi An
I made most of my last day about exploring areas outside of the old quarter. The last hours I spent chilling at An Bang Beach and cycling around the countryside.
I made some time to visit My Son, a UNESCO World Heritage site located 45 minutes from Hoi An. My Son is known for its Hindu temple complexes and sandstone bas-reliefs constructed to honour Lord Shiva. It’s no surprise that My Son is often compared to Bagan — well, it does feel like a mini-Bagan in Vietnam.
Even after spending five days in Central Vietnam, I still feel it’s not enough to discover every nook and cranny of Central Vietnam. Well, it only means that I need to return there soon. Until then, I can only satisfy my craving for Vietnamese food in local restaurants.
The post Travel Diaries: 5 Days in Central Vietnam appeared first on Expedia Malaysia Travel Blog. [...]
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Datuk Seri Najib Razak is facing a Parliament ban for jumping the gun on the Felda White Paper with his Facebook posting. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
KUALA LUMPUR, April 11 — Parliament’s first item of the day is a motion to suspend former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak (BN-Pekan) for three months after he breached the official embargo on the Felda White Paper tabled yesterday.The document had been barred from public released until 11.30am yesterday, but Najib began sharing excerpts on his Facebook page hours before then.Among others, Najib had highlighted Felda’s agreement to buy a 37-per cent stake in Indonesian firm Eagle High Plantations Tbk (EHP).He did so to defend himself over the police report Felda lodged on Tuesday accusing him of misleading the agency into paying over RM2 billion for the stake that had allegedly been worth just RM440 million at the time of the sale.Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Economic Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Azmin Ali both vowed stern action against Najib yesterday.MORE TO COME [...]
The glitzy ballroom on the 15th floor of Sunway Resort Hotel & Spa is uncharacteristically crowded for a weekday morning. The Short Stay Summit – billed the first of its kind in Malaysia – is taking place, and many stakeholders have flocked to the hotel in Selangor for a piece of the pie.
In attendance are representatives from government agencies, homestay operators, hotel associations, travel booking platforms and other relevant industry players.
Organised by HostAStay, a local startup that connects home owners to professional hosts, the summit comes at an especially important time in Malaysia. The Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry has recently urged all short stay operators in the country to register immediately.
Short-term accommodation (STA) refer to apartments, houses and rooms that are rented out, like hotels. The service is usually booked through online providers such as Airbnb and Agoda. Bookings vary from days to months.
If anything, the regulation of the industry is at the back of everyone’s mind during the full-day event. It’s an observation corroborated by the packed attendance during a panel discussion on short-stay regulation.
“We are currently at the stage of being an unregulated self-regulated industry,” HostAStay founder and chief executive officer Jordan Oon announces with a hint of irony in his voice. The man alludes to initiatives taken by short-stay operators to address matters such as safety and public nuisance with the relevant authorities.
HostAStay founder and chief executive officer Jordan Oon says the short stay industry is a self-regulated one at the moment.
Last year, Airbnb signed a memorandum of collaboration with the Malaysia Productivity Corporation (MPC), aiming to share data and best practices with the Government on short-term rentals and its policies in the country.
With the summit, Oon hopes stakeholders will work together to prevent the industry from being banned.
“If the short-stay model were to be banned, what would happen is that there will be a lot of vacant properties out there,” he explains.
Limiting rental days as a regulatory approach
The MPC, a statutory body under the International Trade and Industry Ministry, is submitting a regulatory framework proposal to the Government by the end of this month. One approach is to limit the number of rental days for a maximum of between 90 and 180 days in a year.
There’s usually a rental cap in places where short-stay homes are regulated such as in New York, Los Angeles and Japan.
Real estate observer Dr Alan Poon notes that a cap on the number of rental days might be a bone of contention for investors.
“At the end of the day, the issue goes back to the return and yields of the property for investors. The regulatory body needs to look at how attractive the returns are for stakeholders in the industry,” he says.
According to Poon, STAs do contribute to tourist footfalls in the country. A rental cap would lead to investors shying away from the market and this would subsequently be detrimental to the tourism industry.
The arrival of Airbnb in Malaysia and its subsequent boom has brought new income for property owners and agents, who encourage clients to consider renting out their units on a short-term basis, instead of letting them be vacant. The Star last year reported that some developers even build smaller apartment units to cater to the short-stay segment.
Airbnb public policy head (South-East Asia) Mich Goh says home-sharing helps resolve the property overhang issue in the country.
Airbnb public policy head (South-East Asia) Mich Goh.
“In certain cities around the world that has a uniquely constrained housing supply, we have implemented policies that limit the number of nights a listing can be rented out.
“Malaysia has the opposite challenge, where the current residential overhang results in more than 30,000 unsold or unoccupied properties in Kuala Lumpur alone, worth almost RM20bil. We believe our community model can help create a win-win scenario,” she says.
According to Goh, Airbnb utilises these unoccupied homes to create economic opportunities for the locals.
Oon revealed that the short-stay model can be a lucrative business with properties listed around the KLCC area fetching up to RM25,000 a month. On the other hand, long-term renting may yield about RM6,000 per month for the same area. Many owners fear a regulatory framework might threaten that revenue.
Booking.com senior account manager Branavan Aruljothi doesn’t think a rental cap would affect tourism nor reduce a property’s revenue.
“Among all the regulatory approaches, limiting the number of days is actually very successful. Hosts and operators might think that the move will cut their yielding capabilities or damage their revenue forecast, but it doesn’t,” he explains.
In fact, Branavan says such a move will spread out the business for more operators in the country. In a building that has several hosts, this will allow more operators to flourish.
Oon is equally upbeat about a rental cap and believes that this approach will ultimately benefit tourists.
“Instead of a price war, we will have a war for quality among hosts. All operators should compete in a healthy environment to provide better service to our tourists,” he says.
ALSO READ: The importance of regulating short-stay homes in Malaysia
Is Japan’s Minpaku Law suitable in Malaysia?
Thus far, Japan is the first country in the Asia Pacific region to legalise the home-sharing model.
The Minpaku Law, which came into effect in June 2017, allows proprietors to rent out their properties for up to 180 days a year.
Branavan remembers that particular period to be quite nerve racking for stakeholders such as Booking.com.
“At that time, we thought we would have to close operations for all our hosts and operators in Japan. Fortunately, it was a very smooth process. There was no closure and it was business as usual,” he recounts.
Branavan adds th [...]
MAPUTO/HARARE – Mozambique started three days of national mourning on Wednesday after powerful cyclone winds and flooding killed hundreds of people and left a massive trail of destruction across swathes of southeast Africa.
Cylone Idai, which hit Mozambique’s port city of Beira on Thursday before moving inland, brought winds of up to 170 kph (105 mph) which flattened buildings and put the lives of millions of people at risk.
Mozambique’s President Filipe Nyusi said in a televised statement on Tuesday that the cyclone had killed more than 200 people in Mozambique but that more bodies were still being discovered.
In neighboring Zimbabwe, the official death count stands at 98 but is likely to grow as hundreds are still missing.
Rescue crews are still struggling to reach victims, while aid groups say many survivors are trapped in remote areas, surrounded by wrecked roads and submerged villages.
“Challenges remain in terms of the search and rescue of thousands of people, including children,” UNICEF said. It estimated that 260,000 children were at risk in Mozambique. The Red Cross has said at least 400,000 people have been made homeless in central Mozambique alone.
Beira, a low-lying coastal city of 500,000 people, is home to Mozambique’s second-largest port and serves as a gateway to landlocked countries in the region.
Local media reported that there were food and fuel shortages in central Mozambique because Beira was cut off by road.
In eastern Zimbabwe grieving families are rushing to bury their dead because the cyclone has knocked out power supplies and stopped mortuaries from functioning. Zimbabwe’s Grain Millers Association said 100 trucks carrying wheat destined for Zimbabwe were stuck in Beira.
The European Union announced on Tuesday an initial emergency aid package of 3.5 million euros ($3.97 million) to Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe for emergency shelters, hygiene, sanitation and health care. Britain has also pledged aid.
Reporting by Manuel Mucari and MacDonald Dzirutwe; Additional reporting by Catarina Demony; Writing by Alexander Winning; Editing by Andrew Heavens
The post Mozambique starts three days of mourning after cyclone kills hundreds appeared first on The Malaysian Reserve. [...]
CHRISTCHURCH – New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern (picture) on Tuesday praised the bravery of mosque worshippers as a lone gunman massacred their friends and family, saying the nation stood with its grieving Muslim community in this “darkest of days”.
As preparations for the first burials were underway for the 50 people killed last Friday in the Christchurch mosques mass shooting, Ardern singled out three worshippers, including one of the first killed in the attack.
Hati Mohemmed Daoud Nabi, 71, opened the door to the Al Noor mosque. Ardern said he “uttered the words ‘Hello brother, welcome’. His final words”.
“Of course, he had no idea of the hate that sat behind the door, but his welcome tells us so much – that he was a member of a faith that welcomed all its members, that showed openness, and care,” she told parliament.
Ardern, who has been widely praised for her compassionate and decisive handling of the tragedy, said she never anticipated having to voice the grief of a nation.
Australian Brenton Tarrant, 28, a suspected white supremacist who was living in Dunedin, on New Zealand’s South Island, was charged with murder on Saturday.
He was remanded without a plea and is due back in court on April 5, when police said he was likely to face more charges.
“The families of the fallen will have justice,” said Ardern, adding she would never mention the alleged gunman’s name.
“He may have sought notoriety, but we in New Zealand will give him nothing. Not even his name.”
She ended her speech with the Arabic greeting “Al salam Alaikum”, meaning “Peace be upon you”.
The victims, killed at two mosques during Friday prayers, were largely Muslim migrants, refugees and residents from countries including Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Turkey, Kuwait, Somalia and others.
No official list of victims has been released and police said they were “acutely aware of frustrations” at the length of time taken to formally identify bodies.
“While identification may seem straightforward the reality is much more complex, particularly in a situation like this,” police said in a statement. Twelve victims had been identified to the satisfaction of the coroner and six of those had been returned to their families, they said.
Bodies of the victims were being washed and prepared for burial in a Muslim ritual process on Tuesday, with teams of volunteers flown in from overseas to assist with the heavy workload.
A wheelchair-using worshipper who survived the slaughter at the Al Noor mosque, but whose wife was killed, has offered an olive branch to the gunman, saying he would like to meet him and tell him “I still love you”.
“I don’t agree with what you did … you took a wrong decision, a wrong direction, but I want to believe in you. That you have great potential in your heart,” said Farhid Ahmed, 59.
Fifty people were wounded and 30 of them are in the Christchurch hospital, authorities said. Nine of them are in a critical condition. One four-year-old child was transferred to a hospital in Auckland in a critical condition.
GUN LAW DEBATE RAGES
The gunman used a semi-automatic AR-15 during the mosque shootings, police said. A New Zealand gun shop owner said the store had sold Tarrant four weapons and ammunition online between December 2017 and March 2018, but not the high-powered weapon used in the massacre.
Ardern has said she supports a ban on semi-automatic weapons and that cabinet has made in-principle decisions to change gun laws which she will announce next Monday.
“Part of ensuring the safety of New Zealanders must include a frank examination of our gun laws,” she said.
While some New Zealanders have voluntarily surrendered guns, others have been buying more to beat the ban.
A gun club in the northern town of Kaitaia burned down early on Tuesday and police were treating the blaze as suspicious.
Simon Bridges, leader of the opposition National Party, said he wanted to get details of the changes to see if there could be bipartisan support in parliament. The Nationals draw support from rural areas, where gun ownership is high.
“We know that change is required. I’m willing to look at anything that is going to enhance our safety – that’s our position,” Bridges told TVNZ.
Ardern has said that Tarrant emailed a “manifesto” to more than 30 recipients including her office, nine minutes before the attack but it gave no location or specific details. In the document, which was also posted online, Tarrant described himself as “Just a ordinary White man, 28 years old”.
Ardern was critical of social media platforms for allowing the distribution of hatred and division, including live broadcasts of the attack.
“We cannot simply sit back and accept that these platforms just exist and that what is said on them is not the responsibility of the place where they are published. They are the publisher. Not just the postman,” she said.
“There cannot be a case of all profit no responsibility. This of course doesn’t take away the responsibility we too must show as a nation, to confront racism, violence and extremism.”
A consortium of global technology firms has shared on its collective database the digital fingerprints of more than 800 versions of the video of the mass shooting.
Anyone caught sharing the massacre video in New Zealand faces a fine of up to NZ$10,000 ($6,855) or up to 14 years in jail.
Facebook, the world’s largest social media network, ha [...]
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A new study compares the effects of the Mediterranean diet with those of the Western diet on athletic performance and endurance to exercise. [...]