Sunday, August 31, 2008
Saya sering menjengah blog Tun. Kupasan dari Tun memberi makna yang mendalam. Posting Tun yang terbaru tentang Mengenang Budi Pemimpin Lama jadikan saya sedikit terharu.
Bukan Abdullah sahaja yang menentang Tun suatu masa dahulu. Musa Hitam masih hidup. Shahrir masih hidup. Radzi masih bernyawa. Saya tidak percaya ketiga-tiga mereka sekadar bertenggek ditepi gantang kabinet Abdullah. Masakan mereka lupa dendam Team B.
Dimana-mana pun, kita dapat melihat bad loser dengan ragam mereka. Abdullah adalah bad loser yang nyata. Dendam lama tidak pernah padam disebalik muka alim. Bila Abdullah, Musa, Shahrir dan Radzi berpakat, ragam bad loser jelas menyerlah. Kalau tidak, tidak akan terkeluar kata-kata "Duri sudah keluar" dari mulut Musa, waktu mengulas perletakan keahlian Tun dari UMNO.
Kita terkeliru antara duri dan daging. Yang sudi mengkaji, akan faham kerenah Abdullah, Musa, Shahrir dan Radzi. Mereka adalah bad loser, dalam perspektif duri dan daging, mereka adalah daging busuk. Maaf.
Merujuk tulisan Tun Dr Mahathir dalam : MENGENANG BUDI PEMIMPIN LAMA
Dalam mana-mana negara yang ada Perdana Menteri, hanya ada seorang saja Perdana Menteri pada satu-satu masa. Buat masa ini Perdana Menteri Malaysia adalah Abdullah Badawi.
Untuk Anwar menjawat jawatan Perdana Menteri, peluang tetap ada ramai berkata beliau ada dua kaedah.
Pertama adalah dengan menumbangkan Kerajaan dengan mengumpan sejumlah 40 Ahli Parlimen keluar dari Barisan Nasional.
Kedua dengan menunggu PRU13, dengan harapan momentum sentimen rakyat menolak BN dan Abdullah berkekalan
Dengan kes Rasuah ke atas 2 ADUN PKR negeri Perak menjelang pilihanraya kecil Permatang Pauh, kita hanya boleh membayangkan rasa gentar Ahli Parlimen yang sudah termakan umpan. Jika MP berkenaan macam harimau di zoo, mereka akan segera meninggalkan bontot ayam dalam plastic biru muda, sebaik sahaja dihulur Paha dan Bontot kijang atas dulang biru tua. Setiap gerak geri harimau dalam kandang, boleh dilihat dengan jelas.
Anwar juga seperti dalam kandang. Setiap geri beliau berada dalam pengetahuan umum. Gerak geri beliau yang sulit, belakang pintu dan belakang tabir, hanya ada dalam rekod dan catatan orang tertentu sahaja. Itulah sebabnya Sdr Nalakurapan telah menyebut bagaimana wang hasil judi sebanyak RM60 juta telah dibersihkan oleh Anwar Ibrahim (waktu itu Timbalan Perdana Menteri). Itu jugalah sebabnya sembang dikopitiam ada menyebut suatu masa dahulu, ada Timbalan Perdana Menteri tidak lagi berpegang pada halal haram, waktu turun dari kapalterbang bertelanjang bulat dengan hanya dibaluti wang kertas bernilai RM500 juta
Saiful Bukhari Azlan telah memaklumkan tentang perjumpaan sulit antara Anwar dengan Ahli Parlimen untuk membakar semangat lompat parti. Selain itu, Saiful juga ingat perjumpaan sulit beliau dengan Anwar di Hongkong dan condo mewah di ibu kota.
Difahamkan juga, pihak-pihak tertentu diluar Negara ada maklumat sulit tentang Anwar. Ramai mengesyaki Anwar hanyalah layang-layang yang terbang dengan ekur berjurai-jurai disini, manakala pangkal tali dipasak dibumi US.
Belum pernah dalam sejarah Negara terdapat ahli politik dari pihak pembangkang yang bersungguh-sungguh mahu jadi Perdana Menteri. Bukan sekali Anwar menyebut 16 September 2008 sebagai tarikh keramat. Anwar suka menulis diary untuk hari-hari yang belum tiba.
Yang terpukau dengan Anwar, sering berkerumun watak lelaki dengan hailer. Yang kritis terhadap beliau tidak boleh lupa perihal Orang Melayu mati kebulur di Baling seolah-olah Baling adalah padang pasir tanpa air dan tumbuhan. Seolah Baling adalah ibukota, di mana orang tidak peduli jiran lagi.
Bila Anwar menyebut beliau naik Mercedes bapanya, ramai mengulum senyum mengiakan Anwar memanglah miskin tiada wang.
Jika Abdullah dilihat lemah dan tidak pandai, Anwar pula kelihatan kuat dan pandai bercakap. Tetapi kedua-duanya tidak boleh diharap. Titah Raja Nazrin mengenai kepimpinan wajar dirujuk untuk melihat dua watak dari pulau Pinang dalam perspektif Kenegaraan.
Saturday, August 30, 2008
BAJET 2009 : RAKYAT MARHAEN TERUS TERHIMPIT36 minutes ago by SOFI WAHAB
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Besides full import duty exemption on vermicelli, biscuits, fruit juices and canned sweet corn, we are also getting exemption of import duty and sales tax on solar photovoltaic system equipment.This is interesting because a solar photovoltaic system can be easily installed in any home or office. That means renewable energy can be readily available for us without having to wait for TNB to supply them. Heck, Dell Malaysia can even install it to power their Penang plant and really be carbon neutral instead of riding on the fame that the Dell US office got for using renewable energy.
However, at this moment Solar Photovoltaic Systems are still known to be rather costly. While I don't know the exact price, I am guessing that it is in the region of five to six-digit figures.The US Department of Energy provides a simple explanation on what is a solar photovoltaic system.
Photovoltaic (PV) systems convert sunlight directly to electricity. They work any time the sun is shining, but more electricity is produced when the sunlight is more intense and strikes the PV modules directly (as when rays of sunlight are perpendicular to the PV modules). Unlike solar thermal systems for heating water, PV does not use the sun's heat to make electricity. Instead, electrons freed by the interaction of sunlight with semiconductor materials in PV cells are captured in an electric current. The PV system is reliable and pollution-free.
If you are still keen to get it for your home or office, click to download this PDF brochure. As for me, I am still saving up for it by frugally eating bihun and biscuits and canned sweet corn.
source: Malaysia's Budget 2009: Eat more bihun and install solar panels to ... Cnet Asia, CA
beritadarigunung: what an advert!!!
Saya jengah harakah..... cuba cari apa komen pihak Pas tentang bajet 2009. Nasib saya tak baik... saya tak jumpa!!
Atau saya jengah harakah yang lain?... mirror image of Harakah... like the shadow of harakah... like the real one is positive... and the image is negative.
But i found alot of juicy political titbits.... Can't harakah bend a bit, and start behaving like the ruling goverment..... anyway september 16 is not far off ... or is the moment of truth just for Anwar?....... minus PAS.
Juicy articles in harakah:-
Undi Anwar, tolak kezaliman BN
Galasan bebanan Anwar makin berat
Detik mula perubahan ke arah kerajaan baru 16 September
Catatan di malam terakhir kempen Permatang Pauh
Apa khabar Ibrahim Abu Shah?
Permatang Pauh dedahkan pekung dan taktik kotor BN
Pindaan Auku: Boleh 'bersetuju', tapi jangan 'berpuas-hati'
Cabaran menunggu Anwar!
Teater Ibu Zain jadi alat propaganda politik Umno
Rakyat mencorak rupa demokrasi
dan selepas tenguk kiri, kanan, atas dan bawah ...jumpa satu ... ini dia!!
Belanjawan 2009: Insentif tidak mampu bantu rakyat
boleh klik kalau mahu....
Suka saya mengingatkan PAS, supaya Harakah bukan sekadar titbits politik, warnakan harakah seolah akhbar milik parti yang esuk lusa akan bertukar wajah jadi KERAJAAN!!
Hari ini kita berdepan persekitaran harga global yang tinggi dan pertumbuhan ekonomi yang perlahan. Namun, saya yakin sekiranya kita bersatu padu, kita akan sekali lagi berjaya mengatasi cabaran yang dihadapi sekarang.
Kerajaan akan terus mentadbir ekonomi negara dengan penuh beramanah tanpa membuat janji-janji populis seperti dicanang oleh pembangkang yang boleh memusnahkan kedudukan kewangan kerajaan dan mewariskan negara muflis kepada generasi muda.
* Tabung khas RM25 juta bantu keluarga hilang punca pendapatan secara mengejut seperti akibat kemalangan.
* Kelayakan pendapatan bantuan kebajikan dinaikkan dari RM400 kepada RM720 sebulan (Semenanjung), RM830 (Sarawak) dan RM960 (Sabah).
* Rebat cukai dinaikkan kepada RM400 bagi pendapatan bercukai RM35,000 dan ke bawah.
Pendapatan dari faedah ke atas simpanan individu dikecualikan cukai.
* Bil elektrik RM20 dan ke bawah sebulan dikecualikan bayaran berkuat kuasa 1 Oktober 2008 sehingga akhir 2009.
Elaun khas polis
* Elaun bayaran insentif khas anggota polis ditingkatkan kepada RM200 sebulan mulai 1 Januari 2009.
Sara hidup nelayan
* RM180 juta untuk menampung sara hidup nelayan dan pemilik bot perikanan serta RM120 juta sebagai insentif tangkapan ikan.
* Lanjut tempoh pinjaman perumahan kakitangan awam dari 25 tahun ke 30 tahun.
* Kemudahan pinjaman ubah suai rumah untuk rumah yang tidak dibeli melalui pinjaman kerajaan.
* Pembeli rumah kos rendah diberi pengecualian penuh duti setem.
* Pembeli rumah pada harga sehingga RM250,000 dikecuali duti setem 50%.
* Laluan LRT baru sepanjang 42km dari Kota Damansara ke Cheras.
* Perkhidmatan rel komuter Keretapi Tanah Melayu Bhd. dipertingkatkan.
* Membina terminal bersepadu di Bandar Tasik Selatan bagi kemudahan teksi dan bas antara bandar daripada kawasan selatan Semenanjung.
* Turunkan tol 50% bagi semua bas, kecuali di pintu masuk sempadan iaitu Tambak Johor, Link Kedua dan Bukit Kayu Hitam untuk tempoh dua tahun bermula 15 September 2008.
Dikecualikan cukai jualan bagi pembelian bas baru yang dipasang dalam negara.
* Cukai jalan RM20 setahun bagi semua bas, teksi, kereta sewa dan limosin.
* Penubuhan Suruhanjaya Pengangkutan Awam Darat di bawah Jabatan Perdana Menteri.
* Sebulan gaji dengan minimum RM1,000 bagi kakitangan awam.
* Dibayar dua kali pada September dan Disember ini.
* Kakitangan kerajaan berkhidmat sekurang-kurangnya 25 tahun menerima pencen tidak kurang RM720 sebulan mulai 1 Januari 2009.
* Peruntukan RM475 juta bantuan input pertanian, baja dan racun perosak bagi membantu pesawah.
* Pengecualian cukai sepenuhnya kepada elaun perjalanan oleh majikan manakala pekerja yang menerima elaun perjalanan diberi pengecualian cukai sehingga RM2,400 setahun.
* Elaun RM150 sebulan kepada Orang Kurang Upaya (OKU).
* Elaun murid OKU di sekolah pendidikan khas ditambah daripada RM50 kepada RM150, sementara bayaran insentif RM200 sebulan untuk pembantu guru.
* Duti import beberapa barangan pengguna dikurangkan daripada 10 peratus hingga 60 peratus kepada lima peratus hingga 30 peratus.
* Kadar cukai jalan kenderaan persendirian berenjin diesel individu dan syarikat sama dengan kadar cukai jalan kenderaan berenjin petrol berkuat kuasa 1 September 2008.
sumber: Berita Penuh Utusan Malaysia
KUALA LUMPUR: Budget 2009 is a welcome package for manufacturers as it provides stimulus to many sectors, the Federation of Malaysian Manufacturers (FMM) said.
The association expects the proposed measures to sustain the economic growth. Given the economic scenario, Budget 2009's priority on assisting Malaysians to mitigate the adverse impact of an increasingly challenging external and domestic environment was well placed, said FMM president Tan Sri Yong Poh Kon.
“The emphasis on enhancing the well-being of Malaysians will be good for businesses, as putting more money into the pockets of the citizens will help sustain domestic demand for goods and services produced by the economy,” he told a press conference yesterday.
“Sustained domestic demand will contribute to sustaining activities, employment and incomes.”
The association also felt the budget strategy to develop quality human capital would contribute to strengthening the foundations of growth.
"We are also of the view that the overall emphasis on improving public transport, enhancing use of information communication technology, developing small and medium-sized enterprises and broadening financing for new sources of growth will also enhance the potential for growth in the future,” the FMM said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the reduction/elimination of import duty on certain items will have minimal impact on domestic producers as the import duties for these products are already at 0%-5% under the Asean Free Trade Agreement and by 2009 under the Asean-China Free Trade Agreement.
"Under these agreements, tariff for these products will be at 0% by 2010,” the FMM said.
Import duties have been reduced for dairy products, food items, fruit juices, raw materials for plastics, plastics products and electrical household appliances.
“At the same time, some of these products are also parts and raw materials which would benefit local producers of final products,” Yong added.
However, the FMM said, it would still be necessary for mandatory standards to be imposed to ensure consumer safety and public health as well as to ensure fair competition and a level playing field for local manufacturers.
The FMM, which has been calling for a reduction in dependence on foreign shipping lines, welcomed the setting up of a new RM2bil facility to finance the purchase of ships and upgrading of shipyards.
“The measure, together with the reduction in the import duty to 5% and abolishment of import licence of port cranes, would assist to improve the efficiency of the logistics supply chain and indirectly reduce the costs of manufacturers,” it said.
source: Budget 2009 will sustain growth, says FMM
Malaysia Star, Malaysia
Enhancing Health Services
* Excise duty specific on cigarettes increased by three sen from 15 sen per stick to 18 sen per stick. With this, the duty for a 20-stick pack of cigarettes is now increased by 60 sen.
Social Safety Net
* Eligibility criteria for welfare assistance under the Welfare Department, increased from a monthly household income of RM400 to RM720 for Peninsular Malaysia, RM830 for Sarawak and RM960 for Sabah.
* Government pensioners who had served at least 25 years upon retirement, will receive a pension of not less than RM720 per month, effective Jan 1 2009.
* The Government will now also set up a Special fund of RM25mil set up to channel financial assistance to victims of calamities such as floods and fire.
* Programmes to enhance income, as well as provide skills and career development training under the Skim Pembangunan Kesejahteraan Rakyat to be continued. In addition, Program Lonjakan Mega Luar Bandar is being implemented in Pulau Banggi, Sabah and Tanjung Gahai, in Kuala Lipis, Pahang.
* In 2009, RM50mil is allocated to build 1,400 new houses and repair 1,000 houses under the Housing Assistance Programme. Priority will be given to senior citizens, the disabled and single parents with many dependents as well as victims of natural disasters.
* RM580mil and RM420mil allocated for Sabah and Sarawak respectively to increase income and enhance quality of life of Malaysians there by improving basic amenities, such as electricity, water and rural roads.
* Households which incur monthly electricity bills of RM20 or less, will not have to pay for electricity, for the period from 1 October 2008 to end of 2009.
* The current tax rebate of RM350 per person be increased to RM400 for those with taxable income of RM35,000 and below.
* All interest income from savings for individuals be tax exempt.
* Reduce import duties on various consumer durables from between 10% and 60% to between 5% and 30%. These include blender, rice cooker, microwave oven and electric kettle.
Full import duty exemption on several food items, which currently attract import duties of between 2% and 20%. These include vermicelli, biscuits, fruit juices and canned sweet corn.
* Reduce the road tax on private passenger vehicles with diesel engines to be the same as those with petrol engines, effective 1 September 2008.
Enhancing The Welfare Of Employees
* Travel allowance for commuting to work provided by employers be given full tax deduction, while the employees receiving such an allowance be given tax exemption of up to RM2,400 per year.
* Tax exemption be given to employees on:
- Interest subsidies on housing, motor vehicles and education loans. The tax exemption will be limited to total loans up to RM300,000;
- Mobile phones, as well as telephone and internet bills paid by the employer;
- Staff discounts of up to RM1,000 a year on company traded goods;
- Staff discounts on services rendered by the company, such as private schools providing free education to children of their employees; and
- Childcare allowance of up to RM2,400 per year.
* Tax exemption on medical benefits provided by employers to include expenses on maternity and traditional medicine, namely acupuncture and ayurvedic.
* Effective Jan 1 2009, civil servants with a monthly household income of RM3,000 eligible for a subsidy of RM180 per month.
Improving Public Transportation
* A sum of RM35bil will be expended during the period 2009 to 2014 to improve public transportation.
* The existing LRT system in the Klang Valley will be extended by 30km, that is 15km respectively, for Kelana Jaya and Ampang lines. Upon completion in 2011, the extensions are expected to benefit 2.6 million residents in the Subang Jaya-USJ and Kinrara-Puchong areas, compared with 1.9 million currently.
* A new LRT line will be built along a 42km route from Kota Damansara to Cheras; to be completed in 2014.
* The commuter rail services of Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) will be upgraded. Rehabilitation works are being undertaken on the existing 20 Electric Multiple Units (EMUs) and are expected to be completed in 2009. An additional 13 new units of EMUs will be acquired and be operational by 2011.
* To reduce the operating costs of public transport operators:
- government will provide a soft loan facility of RM3bil under the Public Transportation Fund, administered by Bank Pembangunan Malaysia Berhad (BPMB), to finance the acquisition of buses and rail assets; and
- reduce toll charges by 50% for all buses, except at border entry points, namely Johor Causeway, Second Link and Bukit Kayu Hitam, for a period of two years, effective Sept 15 2008.
* Road tax will also be reduce to RM20 a year for all bus, taxi, car rental and limousine operators.
* Sum of RM5.6bil is provided under the National Food Security Policy, for the period 2008 to 2010. This allocation is to provide incentives to agriculture entrepreneurs to reduce production costs and encourage higher agriculture output.
* RM300mil allocated to increase fish landings. Of this, RM180mil is in the form of cost of living allowance to fishermen and fishing boat owners, as well as RM120mil as incentive for fish landings.
* RM1bil allocation as incentives for 220,000 padi farmers throughout the country to increase padi production.
Generating Income Through Micro Credit
* RM160mil allocated to provide better education opportunities as well as improve health and basic amenities for the Orang Asli.
* A monthly allowance of RM150 to disabled who are unable to work. In addition, the monthly allowance for disabled students in special education schools, will also be increased from RM50 to RM150, while teaching assistants in these schools will be provided incentive payments of RM200 per month.
* In 2009, an allocation of RM330mil is provided to Jabatan Perumahan Negara to complete 4,400 units of Program Perumahan Rakyat (PPR) Disewa, 1,500 units of PPR Bersepadu and 600 units of PPR Dimiliki. In addition, Syarikat Perumahan Negara Berhad will build 33,000 low cost houses.
* For civil servants, tenure of new housing loans extended from 25 years to 30 years. They will also be provided housing loan facility for renovation works on houses not purchased through Government housing loan.
* For medium cost houses of up to RM250,000, a 50% stamp duty exemption is extended to the loan agreement on top of the 50% stamp duty exemption on the instrument of transfer.
* For companies contributing to charitable institutions, the limit of tax deduction be increased from 7% to 10% of aggregate income.
Improving Public Amenities
* Allocation of RM3bil to intensify efforts to further develop Sabah and Sarawak for infrastructure projects, including 266 km of federal and rural roads, benefiting more than 550,000 residents.
* An allocation of RM3.3bil is provided for Sarawak to implement various projects, including the construction of 230 km of federal and rural roads, benefiting more than 350,000 residents.
Second Strategy: Developing Quality Human Capital
* A sum of RM70mil is allocated in 2009 to train 5,600 nurses in training colleges under the Ministry of Health, with 2,000 in recognised private training colleges.
* To meet the need for new schools and replace dilapidated schools, 110 primary and 181 secondary schools will be built. In addition, to ensure that existing schools are well maintained, an allocation of RM615mil is provided.
* RM14.1bil to improve quality of learning at institutions of higher learning. Of this, RM8bil is for Operating Expenditure for public institutions of higher learning, RM627mil for polytechnics and community colleges as well as RM37mil for the Malaysian Qualification Agency.
Culture of Excellence
* The highest marginal tax rate for individuals be reduced from 28% to 27%, effective the year of assessment 2009. In addition, the marginal tax rate of 13% will also be reduced to 12%, which will benefit the middle income group.
* Recruitment costs, such as payments to employment agencies and participation in job fairs, be tax deductible.
Third Strategy: Strengthening The Nation’s Resilience
* To encourage private sector activities, tax treatment on group relief be enhanced by allowing losses for the purpose of offsetting be increased from 50% to 70%.
* An additional RM300mil under the Strategic Investment Fund to further strengthen private investment in Iskandar Malaysia.
* New investments by 4-star and 5-star hotel operators in Sabah and Sarawak be given Pioneer Status with 100% income tax exemption or Investment Tax Allowance of 100% for 5 years.
* RM50mil for conservation works of heritage sites in Malacca and Penang to support activities undertaken by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and private sector.
Promoting Venture Capital Companies
* Venture capital companies that invest at least 30% of their funds in start-up, early stage financing or seed capital be eligible for a 5-year tax exemption.
Promoting Small and Medium Enterprises
* All SME assets in the form of plant and machinery acquired in the years of assessment 2009 and 2010 be given Accelerated Capital Allowance to be claimed within one year. In addition, SMEs are allowed to claim full Capital Allowance on all small value assets within one year.
National Energy Plan
* Exemption of import duty and sales tax on solar photovoltaic system equipment, import duty and sales tax on intermediate goods such as High Efficiency Motors and insulation materials; sales tax on locally manufactured solar heating system equipment; sales tax on locally manufactured energy efficient consumers goods such as refrigerators, air-conditioners, lightings, fans and televisions; and 100% import duty and 50% excise duty on new hybrid CBU cars, with engine capacity below 2,000 cc, be given to franchise importers. This exemption is given for a period of two years to prepare for the local assembly of such cars.
Towards A Vibrant Capital Market
* Tax exemption be given on fees received by domestic intermediaries, which successfully list foreign companies and foreign investment products in Bursa Malaysia. This measure will also enable domestic investors to acquire shares of foreign companies listed in the local exchange.
* Current tax rate on dividends received by foreign institutional investors from Real Estate Investment Trusts (REIT) be reduced from 20% to 10%. Recognising that REITs is an attractive investment product for individuals as well, the Government also proposes a reduction in tax rate from 15% to 10%.
Ensuring Public Safety
* RM5.4bil is allocated in the 2009 Budget to enhance the capacity of the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM). Of this, RM4.8bil is for Operating Expenditure and RM600mil for Development Expenditure.
* RM220mil is allocated in 2009 for the construction of police headquarters and stations nationwide.
* For the period 2008 to 2010, a total of 22,800 constables and 3,000 inspectors will be recruited. In addition, the special incentive allowance for PDRM personnel will be increased from RM100 to RM200 monthly, effective Jan 1 2009.
* All business premises installed with security control equipment be given Accelerated Capital Allowance, which is fully claimable within one year.
* A bonus of one-month salary, subject to a minimum of RM1,000 for 2008. The bonus will be paid in two instalments, namely in September and December 2008.
source: Highlights of Budget 2009
Malaysia Star, Malaysia
Friday, August 29, 2008
Chris Nelder, an energy financial consultant who has studied China's power needs for American investors, wrote in the Aug. 20 edition of “Energy & Capital,” that investors in coal stocks saw their holdings increase by 60 percent for the first half of 2008, but then drastically pull back to near the earlier levels by mid year.
“Curiously, it seems to have much to do with the Olympics,” he said.
Coal prices rose as China limited how much of the fossil fuel could be sold to other nations and imported more on the run-up to the Olympics.
But around June, the near future for coal in China suddenly got very black. China severely cut back its fossil fuel use -- especially coal -- in its massive effort to clean up the air for the Olympics.
China produces about 80 percent of its power with coal, Nelder wrote. The nation's demand for coal grew by 9 percent last year, and the Coal Sales & Transportation Association of China is projecting a 5.3-percent increase this year, or about 2.76 billion tons.
Last year U.S. consumption of coal was less than half that amount -- about 1.1 billion tons, the U.S. Energy Information Administration reports.
According to Nelder, about two-thirds of global coal consumption is used to fuel electric power plants with most of the rest used to make steel and cement.
China produces more steel than any other nation with more than double the output of the European Union, the number two producer based on tonnage.
Nelder says the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 70 percent of the increase in global demand for coal over the next two decades will come from China and India. China's economic growth rate is running about 10 percent per year, with India close behind. U.S. economic growth is sluggish, with many claiming growth here actually is in recession.
Although China leads the world in coal production, neither it nor India can meet their demands with domestic mining, and both nations have slashed their exports to hoard enough for their own needs. That helped drive up the price of coal on international markets -- a boon to investors in the much-criticized industry.
China made out like a Silk-Road bandit and saw huge profits from its coal exports during that time. The China Business News reported that mid-year, the global price for coal was $54 per ton higher than the domestic price. The Chinese domestic price is state-mandated.
But in June, China curtailed its coal production. In restricting coal use, China's coal output fell 8 percent in July from June to 220 million tons.
Nelder notes recent information on Chinese coal is rare and most often published only in Chinese.
Even so, he says, the information isn't completely reliable and can't be verified. “But we use what we can get,” he said.
In 2003, according to the Chinese reports, China ran an 83 metric ton trade surplus in coal.
“Last year, that dropped to a mere 2 million, effectively taking 12 percent of the global trade in coal off the market,” he added. That brightened the financial picture for coal companies internationally, while U.S. criticism of the abundant, cheap fuel mounted.
But Nelder adds that coal inventories have been chronically low this year in China. Consumption rose during an early summer heat wave, and supplies couldn't keep up.
Li Xinfang of the State Grid, the country's chief grid operator, told Nelder supplies were only two-thirds of last year's peak.
“Then came the Olympics, and the kibosh on coal,” Nedler added.
As the air in Beijing cleared, China's coal imports fell 36 percent from May to June, and June imports were down 32 percent compared to last year.
Scaling back on the use of coal led to widespread and frequent outages. About half of China's provinces are now rationing electricity, with forced limits on local governments and priority allocation to the Olympic venues, Nelder added.
And it was lucky for China's image that the priority was enforced. Beijing invested over 20 billion yuan ($2.91 billion) to beef up the electric grid for the Games. And during the first day of the Olympics, peak power demand jumped 21 percent in Beijing, as tens of thousands of visiting westerners brought their energy gluttony with them.
But the Chinese people had less energy than normal, according to the China Electricity Council.
About 3 percent of the country's coal-fired generation capacity sat idle last month because of a lack of coal.
And according to the council, over a third of the nation's power plants, most of which were coal-fired, had net losses over the first five months of the year.
Even in Shanxi, China's top coal-producing province, 15 percent of the local generating capacity was shut down because of a lack of fuel. And this week, the State Grid Corp. reported that power output was down 17 gigawatts from last year.
In response, the Chinese government announced a 5-percent increase in electricity rates to restore profitability for beleagured, coal-fired power producers. Even so, according to estimates by BNP Paribas SA, a Paris-based banking group, the price of electricity in China is 30 percent lower than it should be if it accurately reflected the price of coal, running up the red ink in the Red Chinese budget.
But as the Olympics break through the finish line, coal stockpiles at China's power stations are increasing slowly. The central government is concerned (now that substance will matter more than image) that pre-winter supplies are too low for comfort, so it intends to further release its restrictions on mining and supplies.
Liu Tienan, vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, this week encouraged power plants to stockpile coal early this year or power shortages would worsen as winter approaches. And China's General Administration of Customs announced it would increase coal imports to bring the grid back up to full power.
Nelder noted that on Aug. 9, the State Administration of Work Safety said China will increase coal production at its larger mines for the remainder of this year.
The problems facing the Chinese are typical of state-controlled economies, and are why communist countries have failed to provide their people with the quality of life found in capitalist nations.
But as western governments tinker with similar, widespread economic controls, and China resorts more to free enterprise, that balance may shift as the century advances.
source: King Coal the Emperor of China
Ely Daily Times, NV
By Philip Stephens
Published: August 28 2008 18:37 | Last updated: August 28 2008 18:37
We need to get this straight. Vladimir Putin’s Russia has invaded a neighbour, annexed territory and put in place a partial military occupation. It seeks to overthrow the president of Georgia and to overturn the global geopolitical order. It has repudiated its signature on a ceasefire negotiated by France’s Nicolas Sarkozy and disowned its frequent affirmations of Georgia’s territorial integrity. Most importantly: all of this is our fault.
The “our” in this context, of course, refers to the US and the more headstrong of its European allies such as Britain. If only Washington had been nicer to the Russians after the fall of the Berlin Wall. If only the west had not humiliated Moscow after the break-up of the Soviet Union.
Surely we can see now what a provocation it was to allow the former vassal states of the Soviet empire to exercise their democratic choice to join the community of nations? And what of permitting them to shelter under Nato’s security umbrella and to seek prosperity for their peoples in the European Union? Nothing, surely, could have been more calculated to squander the post-cold-war peace.
Such is the cracked record played over and over again by the Russian prime minister and recited now by Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s notional president. Sadly, it also finds echoes among those in Europe who prefer appeasing Mr Putin to upholding the freedoms of their neighbours.
This Russian claim to victimhood is as vacuous as it is dishonest.
Mr Putin has said the collapse of the Soviet Union was the great geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century. Now he wants to subjugate his country’s neighbours in the cause of a greater Russia. The aim is to turn back the clock: to extend his country’s borders to create the greater Russia sought by the leaders of the abortive coup against Boris Yeltsin in 1991. The west must not collude with Mr Putin’s falsified version of history.
There is no doubt that Russians feel they suffered great hurt and indignity during the 1990s. They did. But it is a misreading of events to blame the US, the west, the EU or Nato.
The blindingly obvious point is that humiliation was inevitable and unavoidable. Until the collapse of communism the world belonged to Washington and Moscow. Suddenly almost everything was lost to Russia. The political and economic system that had once aspired to global domination was reduced to dust.
Open a history book. Humiliation is what happens when nations lose their empires. Ask the British. Half a century after Suez, part of the British psyche still laments this retreat from the world. You could say the same about the French.
The implosion of the Soviet Union could not stir anything but a sense of shame among Russians. But ah, you hear Mr Putin’s apologists say, the west fed Russian paranoia. For half a century central and eastern Europe had been signed over to Moscow. Now the west’s institutions rolled like tanks up to Russia’s borders.
The problem is that this account does not fit the facts. George H.W. Bush was anything but triumphalist in his response to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Indeed, the then US president faced sharp criticism from many Americans for refusing to dance on communism’s grave.
It is true Bill Clinton’s presidency began with some rhetorical flourishes about spreading democracy. And the US administration did press hard for the expansion of Nato, in part because the EU dragged its feet about opening its doors. Some doubted the wisdom of the Nato policy. George Kennan, the author of the cold war doctrine of containment, was among those arguing against Mr Clinton. But then, the revered Mr Kennan was not infallible. He had, after all, opposed the creation of the alliance.
Doubtless there were moments when the US, and Europe for that matter, could have been more tactful. The disciples of free markets dispatched to Moscow by the International Monetary Fund probably bear some blame for the catastrophic melt-down of Russia’s economy. But no, the historical record does not show a deliberate or concerted effort by the US or anyone else to mock or multiply Russia’s misfortunes.
When Mr Putin talks about humiliation, he means something else. Washington’s crime was to assume that the Yalta agreement had fallen along with the Berlin Wall, and that the peoples and nations of the erstwhile Soviet empire should thus be free to make their own choices.
In the Kremlin’s mindset, showing due respect for Russia would have meant allowing it to continue to hold sway over its near-abroad. The most that the citizens of Ukraine and the Baltic states should have expected was the ersatz independence now bestowed on South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Poles, Hungarians, Czechs and the rest should have been locked out of western institutions.
Mr Putin has reopened the issue that seemed to have been settled in 1991 when Yeltsin saw off the tanks at the doors of the Russian White House. Yeltsin decided that the borders of the Russian Federation should follow those of the Soviet republics. That left the Crimea as part of Ukraine, Ossetia and Abkhazia as part of Georgia. Mr Putin’s doctrine is calculated to reclaim Moscow’s sovereignty over ethnic Russians in neighbouring states. This is a greater Russia by another means.
The doctrine overturns one of the central geopolitical assumptions of the past two decades: that, for all its hurt pride, Russia saw its role as a powerful player within a post-cold-war geopolitical order. Mr Medvedev, speaking with his master’s voice, now repudiates the laws and institutions of that order.
For all the occasional bluster about a new authoritarian axis between Moscow and Beijing, the contrast that has most struck me in recent weeks has been between China and Russia. Beijing saw the Olympics as a celebration of China’s return as a great power. China has by no means signed up to the norms and assumptions of liberal democracy; it has still to decide whether it wants to be a free rider or a stakeholder in the international system. But it has concluded that its future lies with integration into a stable world order.
Moscow’s invasion of Georgia and its public scorn at the likely international response speaks to an entirely different mindset: a retreat from integration and a preference for force over rules. Russia’s neighbours are told they can be vassals or enemies. Mr Medvedev boasts Russia is ready for another cold war.
I struggle to see what Russia will gain. It is friendless. Governments and foreign investors alike now know that Moscow’s word is worthless. The price of aggression will be pariah status. Mr Putin, of course, will blame the west.
source: Putin maps the boundaries of greater Russia
By STEVE GUTTERMAN – 20 minutes ago
MOSCOW (AP) — Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin accused the United States on Thursday of pushing Georgia toward war and said he suspects a connection to the U.S. presidential campaign — a contention the White House dismissed as "patently false."
In another sign of unraveling Russia-U.S. ties, Putin said that 19 U.S. poultry producers will be barred from exporting their products to Russia.
Putin, the former president and architect of an assertive foreign policy that stoked East-West tension even before Russia's war with the U.S.-allied ex-Soviet republic, suggested in an interview with CNN that there was an American presence amid the combat with a potential domestic U.S. political motive.
"We have serious grounds to think that there were U.S. citizens right in the combat zone," he said the interview broadcast on state-run Russian television. "And if that's so, if that is confirmed, it's very bad. It's very dangerous."
Putin's acid attack on the United States came as Moscow's bid to redraw Georgia's borders hit an obstacle among its Asian allies. France, meanwhile, said the European Union is considering sanctions against Russia for its conduct in the Caucasus.
The Russian leader said the poultry decision was unrelated to the Georgia issue. He said that the unnamed American producers ignored demands that they correct alleged deficiencies after examinations by Russian inspectors last year.
"We try and keep our industry out of politics and into marketing opportunities, but sometimes it's very difficult to separate the two," said Jim Sumner, president of the U.S.A. Poultry & Egg Export Council. He said Russia is a major market for American producers.
Putin said that Russia had hoped the U.S. would to restrain Georgia, which Moscow accuses of starting the war by attacking South Ossetia on Aug. 7. Instead, he suggested the U.S. encouraged the nation's leadership to try to rein in the separatist region by force.
"The American side in fact armed and trained the Georgian army," Putin said. "Why hold years of difficult talks and seek complex compromise solutions in interethnic conflicts? It's easier to arm one side and push it into the murder of the other side, and it's over.
"It seems like an easy solution. In reality it turns out that it's not always so," he said.
The United States has close ties with the Georgian government and has trained Georgian units, including for service in Iraq. But Russian officials have made statements aimed to convey the idea that Americans may have directly supported Georgia's offensive.
At a briefing Tuesday, the deputy chief of Russian military general staff, Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, showed off a color copy of what he said was a U.S. passport found in a basement in a village in South Ossetia among items that belonged to Georgian forces.
"We found a passport for Michael Lee White," Nogovitsyn said. "He's a Texan."
The U.S. Embassy in Georgia said it had no information on the matter.
Putin appeared to link claims of an American presence amid the combat with a potential domestic U.S. political motive.
"If my guesses are confirmed, then that raises the suspicion that somebody in the United States purposefully created this conflict with the aim of aggravating the situation and creating an advantage ... for one of the candidates in the battle for the post of U.S. president." Putin did not name a party or candidate.
White House press secretary Dana Perino called Putin's contentions "patently false." She said "it also sounds like his defense officials who said they believe this to be true are giving him really bad advice."
She added: "To suggest that the United States orchestrated this on behalf of a political candidate just sounds not rational."
Perino said Russia is facing the consequences of a diminished global reputation and that "there will be other" consequences as well. She refused to say what they would be and said there is no timetable.
Putin said the imminent ban on imports from 19 poultry producers was "purely economic." He said another 29 producers would receive warnings.
U.S. producers supply nearly 75 percent of the total poultry import quota set by Russia, which stands at 1.2 million tons. Russia represented the largest export market for chicken broilers made by U.S. producers in the first half of this year, said Jim Sumner, president of the U.S.A. Poultry & Egg Export Council
Sumner said he expected the alleged plant deficiencies to be corrected within weeks or a few months and said the stoppage would not have a major impact on U.S. producers.
In Tajikistan, China and four Central Asian nations joined Russia in criticizing the West. Wary of separatists and restive religious groups at home, however, they stopped short of heeding Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's call to carve out two new nations in a volatile region at the crossroads of Europe and Asia.
Medvedev had appealed to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization — whose members are Russia, China, and four Central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan — for unanimous support of Moscow's response to Georgia's "aggression."
But none joined Russia in recognizing South Ossetia and another breakaway Georgian region, Abkhazia, as independent countries.
"The participants ... underscore the need for respect of the historical and cultural traditions of each country and each people, and for efforts aimed at preserving the unity of the state and its territorial integrity," the declaration said.
The statement offered some praise of Moscow's actions, at least in the context of the peace deal signed five days after the war began. It said members welcome the cease-fire and "support the active role of Russia in promoting peace and cooperation in the given region."
But Alexei Malashenko, an analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center, said the summit highlighted Russia's isolation, noting that not even U.S. foes Cuba and Venezuela have followed Russia's lead on recognizing South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
"The Soviet Union was not so alone even in 1968," he said on Ekho Moskvy radio, referring to the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia that crushed a liberal reform movement in the Warsaw Pact nation.
Western leaders have added condemnation of Russian recognition to their accusations that Moscow used disproportionate force in its Georgia offensive and has fallen far short of its withdrawal commitments under an EU cease-fire deal.
The EU is "trying to draw up a strong text signifying our unwillingness to accept" Russia's stance, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said Thursday.
"Sanctions are being considered ... and many other means as well," Kouchner told a news conference. The Foreign Ministry said later that France was not behind a sanctions proposal and that France's role would be to help reach a common EU position.
Associated Press Writers Peter Leonard and Olga Tutubalina in Dushanbe, Tajikistan; Jim Heintz and Misha Dzhindzhikhashvili in Tbilisi, Georgia; and Catrina Stewart, Nataliya Vasilyeva, David Nowak, Doug Birch and Mansur Mirovalev in Moscow, and business writer Emily Fredrix in Milwaukee contributed to this report.
source: Putin: US orchestrated conflict in Georgia
The Associated Press
China National Petroleum Corp. Signs $3 Billion Agreement
Thursday, August 28, 2008; 3:51 PM
BAGHDAD, Aug. 28 -- Iraq and China signed a $3 billion deal this week to develop a major Iraqi oil field, the first major commercial oil contract here with a foreign company since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
The agreement calls for the state-owned China National Petroleum Corp. to begin producing 25,000 barrels of oil a day, then gradually increasing to 125,000 a day, according to Asim Jihad, a spokesman for the Iraqi Oil Ministry.
The contract revamps a deal the Chinese company had inked in 1997 with Saddam Hussein to develop an oil field in Wasit province, south of Baghdad near the Iranian border. But unlike that deal, which called for China to share in the revenues, the current contract is based on a fixed-fee structure.
The announcement of the deal comes two months after Western oil companies came close to an agreement with the Oil Ministry to return to Iraq. Those deals were for technical contracts that involved supporting production. The China agreement is a so-called service contract that is much more lucrative.
Jihad said the technical contracts, which were originally to be finalized June 30, have been postponed because of disagreements with the Western concerns, including Shell, BP, Exxon Mobil and Total.
Most of the major oil contracts are to be awarded in the next year and a half through a process with 35 companies identified by the Oil Ministry, he said.
The deal with the Chinese company came early because of the pre-existing deal before the U.S-led invasion and to rebut concerns that the U.S. government was manipulating the process to benefit American corporations, he said."We hope this will refute all the rumors that say the American companies are the only ones benefiting from the American occupation," he said.
The contract requires China to build a major electrical station in the area to boost Iraq's overworked power grid.
The deal still requires the approval of the Iraqi cabinet, which the Oil Ministry hopes will come as early as next week.
source: Deal Signals Return of Foreign Firms to Iraq's Oil Fields Washington Post, United States
New York - With tropical storm Gustav threatening to become a monster hurricane, the oil and gas industry is starting to batten down the hatches on its giant rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.
Already, many of the companies have evacuated roughnecks and geologists and are preparing to turn off the oil and gas deep under water.
On Thursday, Shell Oil Company, which produces about one third of the oil in the Gulf, said it had evacuated 400 workers with another 600 due out on Friday and Saturday. It was in the process of turning off the equivalent of 510,000 barrels of oil.
Any disruption of the oil and gas flow could eventually result in higher prices at the pump much as it did after hurricane Katrina. In recent days, the price of oil has moved up in anticipation of the storm but fell back on Thursday after some governmental organizations said they would release oil from stockpiles if there were disruptions.
"I think we are better prepared than when Katrina hit," says Phil Flynn, an energy analyst at Alaron Trading in Chicago. "The industry should be able to get production back up quicker."
The oil industry produces about 1.5 million barrels of oil per day from the Gulf, about the same as it did in August 2005 before Katrina hit. The month after the hurricane, production dropped to 450,000 barrels per day.
"When Katrina hit, we lost almost all our production for several days," recalls Rick Mueller, an energy analyst at Energy Security Analysis, Inc. in Wakefield, Mass. "They are now closing everything up and it will take a while to bring it back up again."
In case of delays getting oil flowing again, the Department of Energy said on Thursday that it could release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. "The Strategic Petroleum Reserve is a key safeguard to provide an added layer of protection for the American people during the event of a severe disruption of oil supply," the agency said in a statement.
After Katrina, the DOE opened up the spigots at the SPR and released about 21 million barrels of oil. At the same time, the International Energy Agency, a coalition of 26 member countries, had set a goal of delivering 60 million barrels of oil.
On Thursday, the IEA said it, too, would be ready to release stockpiles.
However, Mr. Flynn is not sure it will be needed. He remembers immediately after Katrina there was a significant drop in demand with people canceling vacations and watching the devastation on television. "I think people are beginning to realize with this storm there could be more damage on the demand side than the supply side," he says.
"What I am hearing is that some 1.1 million barrels of oil per day could be shut down," says Flynn. "Demand in the US is off by about 1 million barrels per day so we have a little more wiggle room for a short-term loss of production."
However, some oil companies drilling for offshore oil are still recovering from Katrina. British Petroleum's massive Thunder Horse drilling platform was badly damaged. "They are still waiting to bring it back on. It should happen by the end of this year," says Mr. Mueller.
Chevron's BP Thunder Horse, another huge platform, flipped upside down and was written off.
Shell has a giant rig, Mars, which also suffered damage from Katrina. It is back in operation and is one of the platforms being shut down now.
Shell says it learned a lot from the Katrina damage. The company says it made mooring system upgrades and design changes including the use of suction pads instead of anchors to reduce damage to pipelines from anchor dragging.
Once the storm comes ashore, Flynn worries there could be damage to the refineries that dot the region. The US is currently producing a little over 7 million barrels a day of refined products at Gulf Coast refineries. "I am more worried about flooding and refinery damage," he says.
Energy analyst Sander Cohan of ESAI says some refiners still may not have recovered from Katrina. "Other are just back on line in the last six months or so," he says.
Many of the refiners are now in the process of shifting production from gasoline to heating oil. Others are closing for maintenance. "Stockpiles are good but not great," says Mr. Cohan. "We could lose a week of production of home heating oil, so this storm has the potential to be very disruptive."
source As Gustav nears, oil companies shut down rigs
Christian Science Monitor, MA
By Wes Goodman
Aug. 28 (Bloomberg) -- The following events and economic reports may influence trading in Asian local-currency bonds today. Yields are from the previous session.
China: China Mobile Ltd., the world's biggest phone company by market value, said second-quarter profit increased 51 percent, more than analysts estimated, after cutting prices to attract users. The central bank said yesterday it would sell 3 billion yuan ($438.6 million) of six-month bills today.
The yield on the 3.92 percent bond due July 2011 fell 2 basis points to 3.78 percent, according to the China Interbank Bond Market. A basis point is 0.01 percentage point.
India: Inflation probably accelerated to 12.81 percent in the week ended Aug. 16, the fastest pace since June 1992, according to the median estimate of a Bloomberg News survey of economists. The government will release the figure at about 5 p.m. today in New Delhi.
The yield on the 8.24 percent bond due April 2018 was little changed at 8.89 percent, according to the central bank's trading system.
Indonesia: The government is marketing 6.23 trillion rupiah ($680.1 million) of five-year debt to individual investors. The offer will close tomorrow, according to Bhimantara Widyajala, a director at the Ministry of Finance. Indonesia yesterday sold 28-, 91-and 182-day bills and 28-day Islamic bills.
The yield on the 9 percent bond due in September 2018 rose 5 basis points to 12.11 percent, according to the Inter Dealer Market Association.
Malaysia: The economy grew 6 percent in the second quarter, versus 7.1 percent in the previous three months, according to the median forecast of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. Bank Negara Malaysia will report the figure at 6 p.m. in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow.
The yield on the 4.24 percent bond due February 2018 rose 2 basis points to 4.70 percent, according to Bursa Malaysia Bhd.
Philippines: The central bank will increase its benchmark interest rate by 0.25 percentage point to 6 percent today, according to 13 of 15 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. Two predict a half-point jump to 6.25 percent. Gross domestic product growth probably slowed to 5 percent in the second quarter from a year earlier, from 5.2 percent in the previous three months, a separate survey showed before the government reports the figure today.
The yield on the 5.875 percent note due January 2018 fell 9 basis points to 8.29 percent, according to the Philippine Dealing & Exchange Corp.
Singapore: Lim Hwee Hua, senior minister of state with the Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Transport, said yesterday that investors handling the city-state's money ``had actually taken some precautionary measures early in the downturn'' in the global economy. ``The downturns also offer opportunities for our agencies to invest in good quality assets at prices that are attractive.''
The yield on the 4 percent bond maturing September 2018 rose 1 basis point to 3.11 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
South Korea: The Finance Ministry is scheduled to announce its debt sales for September today. The government yesterday vowed to stem losses in the won amid concern its slump to the weakest in almost four years against the dollar will further fan inflation. ``The government cannot but worry about the recent won decline,'' said Choi Jong Ku, the finance ministry's key currency official.
The yield on the 5.25 percent bond due March 2013 fell 2 basis points to 5.91 percent, according to Korea Securities Dealers Association.
Sri Lanka: The central bank will sell a combined 2 billion rupees ($18.5 million) of debt due in 2010, 2011 and 2012 today.
The yield on the 16 percent bond due in April 2009 was little changed at 18.25 percent, according to Ceylinco Shriram Securities Ltd.
Taiwan: The index of leading indicators, a gauge of economic conditions three months ahead, fell 0.6 percent in July from the previous month, compared with a 0.4 percent decline in June, the government's Council for Economic Planning and Development said yesterday.
The yield on the 2.375 percent bond maturing in March 2018 was little changed at 2.53 percent, according to Gretai Securities Market.
Thailand: The central bank raised its benchmark interest rate for a second straight month yesterday to tame the fastest inflation in a decade. The Bank of Thailand increased its one- day bond repurchase rate by a quarter point to 3.75 percent, the central bank said in Bangkok.
The yield on the 5.125 percent bond due in March 2018 fell 11 basis points to 4.57 percent, according to the Thai Bond Market Association.
source: India, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand: Asia Local Bond Preview
1968: Anwar emerges as a major political activist by helping to found the Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia, a leading students' organization.
1974: Anwar is arrested and imprisoned without trial for 20 months after leading student protests against poverty among farmers.
1982: Then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad enlists Anwar to join the United Malays National Organization ruling party. Anwar wins a parliamentary seat in northern Permatang Pauh constituency.
1983: Mahathir appoints Anwar as Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports.
1986: Anwar becomes Education Minister and implements policies seen as favoring the ethnic Malay Muslim majority.
1991: Mahathir places Anwar in charge of the Ministry of Finance.
1993: Anwar wins ruling party poll to become deputy prime minister.
April-June, 1997: Mahathir takes a two-month holiday, leaving Anwar as acting leader.
June-September, 1997: Asian financial crisis hits Malaysia. Mahathir reverses several actions Anwar took.
Sept. 2, 1998: Mahathir fires Anwar from the Cabinet after an economic policy dispute.
Sept. 20, 1998: Anwar is arrested for alleged sodomy after he leads a protest during which tens of thousands demand that Mahathir resign.
Sept. 29, 1998: Anwar appears in court and pleads innocent to corruption and sodomy charges.
April 14, 1999: Anwar is convicted of corruption and sentenced to six years in prison. He is forced to resign his Parliament seat.
Aug. 8, 2000: Anwar is found guilty of sodomy and sentenced to nine years in prison, to begin after completion of six-year corruption sentence.
Oct. 31, 2003: Mahathir retires and hands power to Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
Sept. 2, 2004: Malaysia's highest court overturns Anwar's sodomy conviction and frees him.
March 8, 2008: Anwar's three-party opposition alliance wins an unprecedented 82 seats in Malaysia's 222-member Parliament and wrests control of five states.
Apr. 14, 2008: A ban on Anwar holding political office stemming from his corruption conviction expires. Anwar claims he can topple the government through parliamentary defections by mid-September.
June 29, 2008: Anwar's 23-year-old male former aide accuses Anwar of sodomizing him.
July 31, 2008: Anwar's wife vacates her parliamentary seat in Permatang Pauh to allow Anwar to contest it.
Aug. 7, 2008: Anwar pleads innocent in court to a charge of sodomizing his former aide.
Aug. 26, 2008: Anwar regains his parliamentary seat in Permatang Pauh in a landslide electoral victory.
source: Timeline: Malaysian opposition leader Anwar's life
Asia has indeed decoupled - not from the US economy, but from political reality.
Thailand is Exhibit A. Three years ago, it was the post- Asian-crisis role model. Living standards were rising, investors were funneling in and Asian peers were envious of ''Thaksinomics.''
The reference here is to the dual-track plan to boost domestic demand and export growth championed by Thaksin Shinawatra. The former Thai prime minister was removed in a September 2006 coup amid corruption allegations. Thaksin fled to the UK and bought soccer team Manchester City.
Yet the military leaders who replaced him were painfully inept. That paved the way for the People Power Party to be elected in December 2007. Its pro-Thaksin leader, former television chef Samak Sundaravej, is facing massive protests and calls for his resignation.
And just like that, one of Southeast Asia's shining examples of stability, prosperity and democracy is descending into farce. The joke among investors is which English Premier League team will Samak buy if he flees Thailand?
It's less of a joking matter that strategists like Dwyfor Evans of State Street Global Markets in Hong Kong say Thailand's baht may slide more than 3% by year-end, leading global funds to pull money from the country.
Events in Malaysia also are troubling. Again, this is an economy than won kudos following the Asian crisis a decade ago. Malaysia's headline-grabbing backlash against the International Monetary Fund moved to the background as growth returned, stocks rose and commodity prices soared.
Now, headlines are filled with ''sodomy'' and ''opposition official arrested'' and ''leadership crisis.'' The personality in question is Anwar Ibrahim, who's been accused of having illegal sex with a man. This week, Anwar won back a seat in parliament, increasing his chances of ousting Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Malaysia's government is adrift when its economy can least afford it.
''At a time when Asia is under pressure from external forces, strong and stable leadership is crucial,'' says Simon Grose-Hodge, a strategist at LGT Group in Singapore. ''Malaysia and Thailand seem unable to deliver that.''
Politics often offer the biggest surprises in Asian markets. In recent years, investors have found themselves less shocked by reports on gross domestic product, inflation or stock movements than coup attempts, scandals or disagreements between neighboring governments.
source: Rage in the streets start derailing Asia
Sydney Morning Herald, Australia
Thursday, August 28, 2008
Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, a senior member of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) which leads the ruling coalition, called for a new leadership "to unite our people... and forge a clear national direction."
"(Abdullah) does not have the minimal credibility needed to run the country day by day, let alone to take it in the new directions we need to go in a complex world," he said. "This dangerous situation cannot continue."
PUTRAJAYA: Just a day after Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim won the Permatang Pauh Parliamentary seat, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad fired his first salvo at him by claiming the PKR adviser could “convince even the devil to follow him”.
Dr Mahathir predicted that once back in Parliament, Anwar would make “life very difficult” for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
“I don’t think Abdullah is a match for Anwar. He is going to raise all kinds of issues and questions and will demand and pressure the Prime Minister for answers. It is going to be a tough time for Barisan,” he said.
Dr Mahathir, however, felt that Anwar would not get 30 MPs to switch sides to form the government. He said the PKR adviser might think he could “buy” the MPs but it would be impossible for him to “outbid the other bidders who have more money.”
“The Permatang Pauh by-election results is a clear message for Barisan Nasional, Umno and its leaders. Within five months after the March 8 polls, Barisan lost the seat again, with a bigger majority than the last time.
“I believe this will be the trend at other places as well,” he saidwhen met at his office yesterday.
He said Abdullah, his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and other leaders should not close their “ears and eyes” to the people’s message and should not blame the Permatang Pauh defeat on sabotage or other elements.
“If changes are made two years from now, then Umno will face an uphill task to gain strength and the people’s confidence. If they fail to change, then Barisan can expect defeat in the 13th general election,” he said, adding he was willing to come back to the party if Abdullah stepped down before the scheduled handover to Najib in 2010.
He said Umno should be concerned that the party was losing popularity and appeal and even the DAP had become more appealing to the Malays, referring to former Transparency International Malaysia chairman Tunku Aziz Tunku Ibrahim joining the DAP.
source: Dr Mahathir fires a salvo at Anwar
Malaysia Star, Malaysia
Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia's leading opposition figure, has been formally declared a member of parliament, moving a step closer to achieving his goal of taking over the government.
"I am glad to be back after a decade," said Anwar, who was forced to resign his government and political posts in 1998 amid a sodomy allegation.
"I really feel vindicated. I feel great."
Anwar, 61, read out the oath of office on Thursday morning in the country's lower house of parliament before taking his place as leader of the loose opposition coalition called Pakatan Rakyat (PR), or people's alliance.
On Tuesday Anwar, a member of the opposition Keadilan (justice) party, defeated Arif Shah Omar Shah, the ruling Barisan Nasional's candidate, by a wide margin in the contest for the northern town of Permatang Pauh, the constituency he last held 10 years ago.
On March 8 he led the opposition's general election campaign that saw the alliance win 82 seats, 30 short of a majority that could have seen a change of government since Malaysia gained independence from British rule in 1957.
During Anwar's oath-taking, most of the top cabinet ministers including Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the Malaysian prime minister, and his deputy Najib Abdul Razak, were not present in parliament.
As an MP, Anwar will now be able to attend the tabling of the annual national budget in parliament by Abdullah on Friday.
Anwar, who was a former deputy prime minister and finance minister, has declared his intention to overthrow the government by next month through defections by disaffected MPs, and vowed to be the next prime minister.
'Plan still on'
|Abdullah is facing mounting pressure from within and outside his ruling party [EPA]|
Anwar's convincing victory on Tuesday in his home state of Penang sparked fresh calls for Abdullah, who also hails from the same state, to resign.
Among the loudest was Mahathir Mohamad, Abdullah's predecessor, said the prime minister "must take responsibility and resign now".
Razaleigh Hamzah, a former MP and veteran politician, said Abdullah had lost "what scraps of credibility [he] had left" following Anwar's victory.
But Abdullah rejected the calls, quoted by Bernama national news agency as saying: "I believe we can still continue the government."
His convincing win comes despite a new charge of sexual misconduct for allegedly sodomising a male aide early this year, which he says are politically-motivated.
Under Malaysian law, sodomy is illegal even if consensual, and a conviction could see Anwar jailed for up to 20 years.
Anwar was charged with sodomy and corruption which led to his sacking from government and political office in 1998.
He was later convicted on both charges and served six years in jail before the sodomy conviction was overturned in 2004, but the conviction for corruption remains.
Anwar has maintained that Mahathir, who was his long-time mentor, had framed him in 1998 to prevent a power struggle.
source Anwar sworn in as Malaysian MP
The state got a head start on economic woes, and things may not improve until later next year, the state economist said.
By WARREN WOLFE, Star Tribune
Last update: August 26, 2008 - 11:54 PM
Minnesotans' median income dropped substantially last year, and more people were living in poverty, the Census Bureau reported Tuesday.
The results reflect the downturn in Minnesota's economy that began two years ago, while the national figures were still improving, said state economist Tom Stinson.
"It's not a surprise," he said. "But the census report does reflect the reality that Minnesota hit the wall in job formation early in 2006 and pretty much stayed there. We probably won't begin to recover until next year."
Even though the report shows Minnesota was declining while national measures were improving, the state remained among the highest in income and lowest in poverty.
Using two-year averages, the report said Minnesota's median income dropped from $59,583 in 2004-2005 to $57,932 in 2006-2007.
That compares with $49,901 nationally, putting Minnesota eighth-highest.
There were about 482,000 Minnesotans in poverty last year, up 60,000 from 2006. The poverty rate rose from 8.2 percent to 9.3 percent.
That dropped Minnesota from fifth-lowest in 2006 to ninth-lowest last year, still well below the national rate of 12.4 percent. The poverty guideline in 2007 was $13,690 for a family of two, or $20,650 for four.
"Our hope is that next year's report won't show any worsening of the situation in Minnesota," Stinson said. "This quarter is probably the strongest of the year, and it will probably be next spring -- my crystal ball's a little cloudy here -- that we begin to see improvement nationally and in Minnesota."
The Legislature responded to recent economic problems with budget cuts "that made it hard for low- to moderate-income workers to make ends meet," said Katherine Blauvelt, policy analyst with the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits. She urged lawmakers to find different solutions as they face another deficit next year.
source: Income erodes, poverty gains in Minnesota
Minneapolis Star Tribune, MN
By Grant Smith
Aug. 28 (Bloomberg) -- Crude oil and natural gas rose on a forecast Tropical Storm Gustav will be the most damaging since Hurricane Katrina, forcing Royal Dutch Shell Plc and BP Plc to begin pulling workers from the Gulf of Mexico.
Gustav may strengthen to become a hurricane and reach the Louisiana coast, home to the U.S.'s highest concentration of offshore platforms, on Sept. 1, the National Hurricane Center said. Shell will evacuate 870 workers in the next two days, on top of 400 already moved. Exxon Mobil Corp. is preparing refineries along the coast for storms.
``It's the most dangerous storm of the season,'' said Carsten Fritsch, a Commerzbank AG analyst in Frankfurt. ``The question will be the strength of the hurricane. Some say it will be as serious as Katrina, but that's the worst case scenario.''
Crude oil for October delivery rose as much as $1.10, or 0.9 percent, to $119.25 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. It traded at $119.14 at 11:34 a.m. London time.
Prices, 66 percent higher than a year ago, have dropped 19 percent from a record $147.27 a barrel on July 11. Oil has gained 3.3 percent since Gustav formed in the Caribbean Sea on Aug. 25.
Natural gas for September delivery gained as much 4.3 percent to $8.755 a million British Thermal units in New York. Gasoline futures rose 0.6% to $3.0855 a gallon.
The storm may become a ``hurricane rivaling Rita and Katrina,'' Joe Bastardi of AccuWeather.com in State College, Pennsylvania, said in an outlook yesterday.
Gustav may halt 1.2 million barrels a day of crude oil production if it strikes the U.S. Central Gulf Coast, CNBC reported, citing forecaster Weather Insight. There is a 70 to 75 percent chance of it reaching this region, by which time it will likely be a Category 3 hurricane, according to Weather Insight.
The system was 80 miles east of Kingston, Jamaica, and heading southwest at 8 mph, the National Hurricane Center said in its latest advisory. It's expected to turn west-northwest tomorrow and regain hurricane strength over the next 48 hours.
``If stocks were at high levels, the threat of a supply disruption wouldn't matter as much,'' said John Hall, managing director of London-based consultants John Hall Associates Ltd. ``But inventories need to build up further in the OECD, and in the U.S. they're low.''
Energy producers planned to evacuate ``several thousand'' employees from offshore rigs yesterday because of the storm, said Ted Falgout, the director of Louisiana's Port Fourchon. Exxon has initiated ``preliminary safety procedures'' at its Gulf Coast refineries, the company said on its Web site.
The Gulf accounts for about 14 percent of U.S. gas output. The coast along Louisiana and Texas is home to 42 percent of U.S. refining capacity.
In August and September 2005, U.S. crude oil and fuel production plunged and prices rose to records when hurricanes Katrina and Rita struck the Gulf Coast. Katrina closed 95 percent of offshore output in the region. Almost 19 percent of U.S. refining capacity was idled because of damage and blackouts caused by the storms.
Prices also rose today after a government report showed that U.S. gasoline supplies dropped for a fifth week. Gasoline stockpiles fell 1.18 million barrels to 195.4 million barrels, the Energy Department said in its weekly report.
Crude-oil inventories dropped 177,000 barrels to 305.8 million barrels, the report showed. Expectations were for a gain of 1.1 million barrels. Imports fell 9.2 percent to 9.9 million barrels a day.
Brent crude oil for October settlement rose as much as $1.13 cents, or 1 percent, to $117.35 a barrel on London's ICE Futures Europe exchange. The contract was at $116.89 at 11:19 a.m. London time.
source: Oil, Natural Gas Rise as Gustav Threatens US Gulf Platforms