Tuanku Muhriz is Negri Yang di-Pertuan Besar

Newly installed Negri Sembilan Yang di-Pertuan Besar Tuanku Muhriz Tuanku Munawir (left) being congratulated by Tunku Laksamana Tunku Naquiyuddin Tuanku Jaafar at Balairong Seri, Istana Besar Seri Menanti, in Kuala Pilah

Tunku Besar Sri Menanti Tuanku Muhriz Tuanku Munawir was yesterday proclaimed the 11th Yang di-Pertuan Besar of Negri Sembilan, succeeding his uncle Tuanku Jaafar Tuanku Abdul Rahman, who died on Saturday.
Tuanku Muhriz is the son of the ninth Yang di-Pertuan Besar Tuanku Munawir, who was Tuanku Jaafar’s half-brother.

The official announcement was made by the Datuk Undang Sungai Ujong Datuk Klana Petra Datuk Mubarak Dohak at the Balairong Seri at Istana Besar Sri Menanti at 3.45pm.
The decision to appoint Tuanku Muhriz was made by the Ruling Council consisting of the four Undangs or main chieftains of Negri Sembilan.

Tuanku Muhriz is a businessman as well as a director of Bangkok Bank Berhad.
The appointment of the Negri Sembilan ruler is different from that in other states as the four Undangs have the authority to decide who sits on the throne.

Pendidikan : Lebih ramai dapat A dalam PMR

Seramai 26,378 pelajar atau 5.96 peratus daripada 472,060 calon peperiksaan Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) tahun ini mendapat Gred A dalam semua mata pelajaran yang diambil, meningkat daripada 5.65 peratus pada tahun lalu dan 4.83 peratus pada 2006.

“PMR tahun ini juga menunjukkan peningkatan dalam semua mata pelajaran kecuali Geografi dan Bahasa Arab Komunikasi dengan Bahasa Inggeris menunjukkan peningkatan tertinggi iaitu 3.6 peratus,” kata Ketua Pengarah Pelajaran Datuk Alimuddin Mohd Dom ketika mengumumkan keputusan peperiksaan itu di sini hari ini.

Beliau berkata pencapaian jurang perbezaan antara pelajar bandar dan luar bandar semakin mengecil terutamanya bagi mata pelajaran Bahasa Melayu, Bahasa Inggeris, Matematik dan Sains.

Gred Purata Mata Pelajaran (GPMP) bagi mata pelajaran Matematik pelajar luar bandar ialah 2.7 peratus berbanding 2.1 peratus di bandar manakala GPMP mata pelajaran Sains ialah 0.3 peratus pelajar luar bandar dan -0.3 peratus pelajar di bandar.

- Bernama


No more polarisation!

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has called for polarisation to be eliminated.

“We must promise God that we must do whatever we can to ensure all Malaysians will live in peace together, and we must make every effort to ensure there is harmony.”

Abdullah said that future generations could only grow when there is peace and harmony.

“Then our children will have the chance to live a life that is peaceful and successful. It is our responsibility that their life will be one of fulfillment.

“They must also be brought up without any sense of prejudice or bad feelings to one another, and differences in religion should not be a hindrance for them to develop friendship,” Abdullah said.

Be Healthy..

Few of us want to contemplate the reality of being told we have a serious illness. Even fewer of us have likely given any thought to how we'd cope with it.

Consider these statistics*:

* Heart attacks strike 70,000 Canadians each year

* Strokes hit 50,000 Canadians each year

*An estimated 2,865 Canadians are diagnosed with cancer every week


Over 4,700 workers to be retrenched, says Subra

At least 4,749 workers, mostly from the electronics sector, will be retrenched by 137 employers in the next three months, Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S. Subramaniam said.

He said the figures, including some 1,500 Western Digital workers in Kuching, were updated as of yesterday.

“My ministry will ensure that the workers get the compensation due to them.” he said after a dialogue with Malaysian Training Providers Berhad.

He said under the Employment (Termination And Lay-off Benefits) Regulations, workers would be compensated a part of their salary for each year of service.

For workers who have been with a company for two years or less, compensation would be 10 days of salary per year of work.

For those who clocked in between two and five years, it would be 15 days of salary per year and for those above five years, 20 days.

Dr Subramaniam said the Govern- ment would look into getting alternative employment for the workers or retrain them.

“So far, we have not held dialogues with these workers but we will be contacting them soon and setting up counselling sessions,” he said.

Dr Subramaniam said he was not sure whether the number of retrenched workers would increase but added that some things were beyond the Government’s control.

“However, we will ensure the retrenchment is done fairly,” he said.

He said any employer intending to retrench, lay off, offer voluntary separation schemes or reduce salaries would have to inform the ministry 30 days before such action is taken.

On foreign workers, Dr Subramaniam said the employment contract agreed between the employer and the worker had to be honoured and that the foreign worker would have to go back home if he or she was retrenched.


CRIME : Virtual casanovas cashing in on Malaysian women

They choose their victims via Internet social networking sites and pretend to be cyber casanovas who start showering their victims with virtual gifts such as flowers, jewellery, plants, pets and even cars.

They then exchange photographs and virtual love letters for some time before the casanovas, usually claiming to be rich hunks from Britain and the Middle East, tell their victims they want to get them a real gift as a way of expressing their commitment.

They promise to send cash of between £1,000 (RM5,200) and £2mil (RM10.4mil) for the women to go on a shopping spree.

The only catch is that the women would have to bank in a substantial amount of money, supposedly into the account of a local forwarding company, as processing fee for the parcel containing the cash to be sent to Malaysia.

The forwarding company may even ask for a few payments, citing all sorts of difficulties in getting the package through.

When the woman begins to feel suspicious and questions her “boyfriend,” the e-mail stops.

Police say many women around the country, some holding respectable jobs like doctors and managers, have been victims of such scams. Thousands of ringgit is believed to have been lost.

One example is a case in Johor where a human resource manager in her 30s lost more than RM30,000.

She befriended a person, claiming to be from Britain, via a social networking site about a month ago.

They exchanged messages regularly and the man told her he wanted to send her £50,000 (RM261,000) for her to go on a shopping spree.

The next day, the woman got a call from a person, claiming to be from a forwarding company, saying she needed to bank in RM4,000 for the parcel to be delivered.

They continued to ask her for money – totalling RM30,000 – over a few days, giving various excuses including exchange rate and other expenses.

The woman suspected something amiss and when she questioned her boyfriend, he did not reply her e-mail.

She then lodged a police report.

Bukit Aman commercial crime investigations director Comm Datuk Koh Hong Sun confirmed there were many cases of cheating not just via the Internet but also through SMSes.

He advised people, especially women, to be careful when asked to transfer money to those they meet online.

“We are checking to see whether local syndicates are working with overseas ones,” he said.

Terengganu : 25,000 pupils to get laptops

All Year Five pupils in Terengganu will be given broadband-enabled laptop computers under the state’s electronic textbook or e-book programme.

State Education, Higher Education, Human Resource, Science and Technology Committee chairman Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman said some 25,000 pupils are expected to get the computers in phases.

With the computers and broadband connection, he said the pupils would gain access to archives or other vital resources.

Ahmad Razif said the first batch of 150 students here would receive their e-books in the first week of January.

For the first batch, the laptop computers would be procured from Taiwan and distributed by Intel Electronic, he said.

Ahmad Razif said all students would get their e-books by April next year.

He added that Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka would help install the required programs for the computers.

The state government is expected to spend RM30mil for the procurement of the computers.
Ahmad Razid said the state government decided to embark on the e-book project to reduce the burden of school children who had to carry many books to school.

There was also a need to keep pace with globalisation, he added.

Ahmad Razif said the state government also planned to work with Intel Electronic to set up a factory in Gong Badak to produce similar laptop computers for Year Four, Three, Two and One pupils.

The factory is projected to produce 10,000 units a month.


Higher car loans for civil servants

Government employees are eligible for higher car loans and longer repayment period with immediate effect, in a move to boost car sales.

The Government has also allowed government servants to extend their housing loan repayments for their first property from 25 to 30 years.

Those who took or plan to take housing loans for a second property can now make repayments within 25 years, compared to 20 years previously.

These special benefits for 1.1 million government employees were announced by the Treasury in separate directives on Nov 28.

Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Dr Wan Abdul Aziz Wan Abdullah said civil servants in the top management category, including the Inspector-General of Police right down to the Deputy Commissioner of Police, would now be entitled to a RM70,000 car loan against RM60,000 previously.

Those in the management and professional categories would be eligible for a RM65,000 car loan compared to RM55,000 previously.

Civil servants in the Support Group who make up the bulk of the civil service will get RM55,000, against RM45,000 then.
They include chief inspectors and those in the rank and file.

Wan Abdul Aziz said those earning below RM1,620 per month would also be able to apply for the car loans if they were required to travel extensively in the course of their work.

“However, the particular employee’s monthly instalments should not exceed one-third of his salary. Also, this employee must be certified by a medical board as being unfit to ride a motorcycle,” he said.

However, the loan eligibility for civil servants to buy motorcycles was retained at RM5,000.
These new measures have generally gone down well with civil servants.

Teacher Harvinder Kaur, 42, said the benefits announced recently by the Government would motivate government employees to work even harder.

Clerk P. Chelliah, 36, said he would consider changing his old Proton Saga to a newer model, with the increase in loan eligibility and repayment period.

“Since my existing car is already nine years old, the new scheme is a good reason for me to get new wheels,” he said.


Mandatory HIV screening for Muslims planning to tie the knot

Muslims planning to marry will have to undergo mandatory HIV screening from next year.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said it was worrying that HIV infection among Malaysian women had increased from 1.1% in 1990, to 5.02% in 1997 and to 16.3% last year.

“Traditionally, HIV infections are due to sharing of needles among drug addicts. However, increasingly, transmission is through active sexual relations,” he added.

Najib said the Joint United Nations Pro­gramme on HIV/AIDS acknowledged the “high-political will” of the Malaysian Government in battling the scourge.

“This is a good indicator of the international body’s acknowledgement of our efforts against the spread of HIV/AIDS,” he added.

The Islamic Development Department had also been asked to go down to the ground to counsel drug addicts.

Speaking to reporters after chairing a Cabinet committee meeting on AIDS with Health Ministry officials at Parliament House yesterday, Najib said that the Government’s efforts to reduce HIV cases were showing positive results.

“HIV cases had dropped by 50% from 6,756 in 2003 to 3,552 so far this year, due to the coordinated running of various programmes,” he noted.

“The biggest factor in the reduction of HIV cases is the harm reduction, methadone replacement therapy and needle-exchange programmes.

“As a result, we have decided to widen these programmes and give more focus on high-risk groups. In addition, the Malaysian AIDS Council will be made a member of the Cabinet committee on AIDS,” Najib said.

“We hope to reduce AIDS infection cases from 12.8 per 100,000 to 11 by 2015.”
He added that more funds would be provided to finance the methadone replacement and harm reduction programmes.

States that already have started mandatory HIV testing are Selangor, Kelantan, Tereng­ganu, Perak, Johor, Perlis, Kedah, Pulau Pinang, Malacca, Kuala Lumpur and Negri Sembilan while Sarawak has yet to implement it.

Pahang and Sabah have made the testing optional.


Day off after 24-hour duty for trainee doctors

Trainee doctors will now get a day off after carrying out their 24-hour on-call duty.

Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai said the directive will take effect immediately.

He said it applies only to housemen on active call and at the hospital the entire time.

“We will not let these trainee doctors be overworked. We will look into their welfare,” he told reporters yesterday after visiting the Sultanah Nur Zahirah Hospital.

Liow was asked to comment on grouses from trainee doctors that they sometimes had to work almost 24 hours and then report to their superiors the next day.

Some trainee doctors complained that they had to work seven days a week without a single rest day during their two-year stint in government hospitals as housemen.

Liow said trainee doctors should also be allowed to concentrate on getting the right exposure and medical proficiency by giving them off-days.

A trainee doctor at Sultanah Nur Zahirah Hospital, who only wanted to be known as Sally, said she was relieved to hear that the ministry would look into their welfare.

“Frankly, we are very exhausted as we have to focus on our training and also carry out clinical rounds frequently,” she said. “It is stressful.”

Sally said she and her colleagues were unable to pay attention during their stints due to fatigue and time constraints.

On another matter, Liow said about 4,000 Chikungunya cases were reported throughout the country this year.

He said the virus was first detected in Johor and spread to several states, the latest being Kedah.

The Star 18.12.08


Zero airfare promotion from Firefly

Travellers will be able to enjoy zero airfare for unutilised tickets put on sale by Firefly under its ‘Totally Un-fare’ promotion.

Firefly managing director Eddy Leong, who said there was an average of 40% of surplus tickets in any one flight, added that travellers would have to book their tickets at least 21 days in advanced to enjoy the promotion. However, those who travelled during peak periods, including festive seasons, and school and year-end holidays would have to pay the normal fares.

“This new fare structure is to encourage people to travel during off-peak seasons to regional and domestic destinations,” he said at a press conference here on Tuesday.

Leong said the surplus tickets would be made available based on the company’s forecast and market feedback. The cheapest deals start from RM35 one way from Subang to Penang, Kota Baru, Kuala Terengganu and Langkawi. The fare is inclusive of administration fee and airport tax.

Travellers can start booking their tickets from today till Dec 23. The travel period will be between Jan 1 and April 30.

Leong also announced the removal of the fuel surcharge on tickets to all of Firefly’s destinations, both domestic and international.

Travellers are expected to save RM27 one way on fuel surcharge for domestic destinations while the fuel surcharge savings varies for international destinations.

Stemming the alarming rise of HIV amongst women

The rate of Malaysian women living with HIV is on the rise and the Health Ministry has set up a taskforce to stem this alarming trend.

Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai said the trend must be urgently reversed, adding that the taskforce has until next April to come out with an action plan based on World Health Organisation recommendations.

“We want women to be more careful and educate themselves on how HIV is transmitted,” he told the media after opening the national-level World AIDS Day celebration here on Tuesday.

Liow said there was an 11% rise in HIV infections among women in the 10 years since 1997.

Of women living with HIV, 75% were between 20 and 39 years of age, and of that number, 60% were married.

Another alarming trend was the low number of couples foregoing pre-marriage HIV/AIDS screenings, Liow said. The number of couples going for checks hovers between 0.05% and 0.1%.

“These screenings are not to prevent anyone from getting married. It is only to give them a chance to find out about their HIV status and take the appropriate action whether the results are positive or negative,” he said.

The good news, Liow said, was that Malaysia’s overall number of HIV cases had dropped to 16.7 cases per 100,000 Malaysians last year from a high of 28.5 cases per 100,000 in 2002.

It was projected that the number could reach 12.8 cases per 100,000 people by year end.

“This trend means it is not impossible for Malaysia to achieve the Millennium Development Goals of reducing rate of HIV infections to 11 cases per 100,000 people by 2015,” he said.

He added that the RM500mil allocation under the 2006-2010 National Strategic Plan to combat HIV/AIDS remained unchanged despite the worsening economic situation.

Petrol and diesel down 10 sen

Petrol and diesel prices have been slashed by another 10 sen effective today.

The price of RON97 petrol is now RM1.80, while RON92 is selling at RM1.70 a litre.

The pump price of diesel is now RM1.70 a litre.

In a statement, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the reduction was in line with the drop in global crude oil prices.

The retail prices of petrol and diesel have been gradually lowered from their highs of RM2.70 and RM2.58 respectively in June.

Pan Malaysian Bus Operators Association president Datuk Ashfar Ali said the drop would hardly impact his operational costs.

“The damage is already done. The price of daily necessities and foodstuff have gone up and nobody will reduce their prices.

“Spare parts are still expensive – their prices have not gone down either. And the bulk of the diesel used for our operations is under the fleet card system, where it costs RM1.43 a litre.”

Ashfar suggested that the subsidised diesel enjoyed by bus operators could be reduced by a further 13 sen to RM1.30.

“With the lower global crude oil price, I feel the Government can afford it.”
Pan Malaysian Lorry Owners Association president Er Sui See said with cheaper diesel, lorry operators could consider maintaining transport prices.

“At RM1.70, I think we can sustain the price. Diesel accounts for 35% of our operational costs, and only about half of the operators benefit from the fleet card system.”


New civil servants to get less annual leave

Come Jan 1, annual leave entitlement for new civil servants, with the exception of police, army, maritime enforcement and education officers, will be reduced by five days.

Currently, civil servants are entitled to 30 days in annual leave.

However, as a legal requirement, all serving civil servants would be given an option to retain their entitlement or opt for the new reduced entitlement, Public Services Department director-general Tan Sri Ismail Adam said on Thursday.

"Option papers will be given out soon as the last day of exercising the option is Dec 31.

"Those who do not submit their option papers by that date would be deemed as staying on with the current entitlement," he told Bernama Thursday.

Meanwhile, CUEPACS will meet Ismail Friday to discuss the matter, among other relevant issues.

Its secretary-general, Ahmad Shah Mohd Zin, said it wanted to know the rationale behind the reduction.

He said it would not be fair to reduce the entitlement as the new civil servants would lose out in the long run.

For example, Ahmad Shah said, new entrants to the civil service who served 30 years, would lose 150 days of leave which translated to five months.

He said CUEPACS would seek to compensate such officers.

- Bernama

Malaysia says PM's residence costs 1.68 million dollars a year

Malaysia's government drew flak Thursday after admitting it spent 1.68 million dollars a year on the prime minister's sprawling residence in the administrative capital Putrajaya.

Responding to an opposition query, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said 6.01 million ringgit (1.68 million dollars) was paid annually to state-linked developer Putrajaya Holdings for the residence's rental and upkeep.

It costs another 3.4 million ringgit a year to maintain the deputy premier's residence.

Known as the the Seri Perdana complex, the premier's sprawling residence was built by former leader Mahathir Mohamad, who in 1999 was its first tenant.

The buildings are spread over 16 hectares in the centre of Putrajaya which lies south of Kuala Lumpur, comprising three blocks which include a reception area, banquet facilities and a residence.

Abdullah lives in the complex with his wife, daughter and son-in-law and their children.

"It is wasteful to spend so much money on renting the prime minister's house when the country is facing such tough times," said opposition parliamentarian Hatta Ramli from the Islamic party PAS.

"Even though the money is going back to a government-linked company, this should not be the case as the government should really own the building the prime minister occupies," he told AFP.

"What happens if the prime minister somehow gets evicted?"

Chief minister of opposition-controlled Penang state Lim Guan Eng questioned the payment of rent to Putrajaya Holdings.

"We can understand paying maintenance, but rental does not make sense," he told AFP.
"This also begs the question as to who are the directors of the company and who gets all the profit made by the company."

Putrajaya Holding's main shareholders are national energy firm Petronas, a state-owned trust fund and government investment arm Khazanah.

Agence France-Presse - 12/11/2008 9:45 AM GMT

One in five US teens has had 'tech sex': study

One in five US teens has sent nude or partially clothed images of themselves to someone by email or mobile phone and twice as many have sent sexually suggestive electronic messages, a poll showed Wednesday.

And American youngsters aged 13-19 are having tech-sex despite a majority of them saying it could have "serious negative consequences" on them, the survey commissioned by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy (NCTUP) showed.

More than half of the 1,280 teens and young adults up to age 26 who took part in the online poll, conducted in September and October, said they had received a sexually suggestive message from someone else -- and one in five said they had shared the racy message with a third person.

Eight in 10 teens said they would be concerned about sending a sexy image of themselves or racy message because they "might regret it later," while nearly 70 percent said they were worried it could "disappoint family."

Where teen tech-sex gives real rise to concern among adults, said NCTUP, is that more than one-third of teens (38 percent) say exchanging sexy content makes dating or physical sex with others more likely, and three in 10 say those who exchange sexually suggestive content are "expected to hook up."

"That so many young people say technology is encouraging an even more casual, hook-up culture is reason for concern, given the high rates of teen and unplanned pregnancy in the United States," said Marisa Nightingale, senior advisor to NCTUP.

Although teen pregnancy and birth rates in the United States have dropped by one-third since the 1990s, they remain high compared to other developed countries and carry high costs to the teens involved, their children and society, NCPTUP said in a report published last year.

"The US birth rate of 41 per 1,000 in 2004 was much higher than Canada's 14 (in 2003), England and Wales' 27 (the highest rate in Western Europe), Japan's six and the Netherlands' five (the lowest rate in Western Europe)," said NCTUP's "Emerging Answers" report, published in November 2007.

More than 30 percent of girls in the United States become pregnant before they reach age 20, and many become pregnant a second time before their 20th birthday, according to NCTUP.

According to the Guttmacher Institute, nearly half of all 15- to 19-year-olds in the United States have had sex at least once.

Asian, European kids outshine US children in science, math: study

US schoolchildren have improved their performances in mathematics and science in the past decade, but are still outpaced by youngsters in Asia and Europe, a study showed Wednesday.

The math and science scores of US fourth- and eighth-graders -- children aged roughly nine and 12 years old -- were higher than the average set by The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).

But fourth graders in seven Asian and European countries outperformed their American peers in math, while among eighth graders, children in five countries, all Asian, had better scores than the American kids.

In order, the countries whose fourth-graders outperformed US nine-year-olds were Hong Kong, which was considered a country for the purposes of the survey, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation and England.

In eighth grade, children in Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan outperformed the Americans in math.

In science, the picture was similar: among fourth graders, children in Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan did better than their US peers.

Those countries along with South Korea, England, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovenia and the Russian Federation, also figured in the list where eighth-graders outperformed Americans of the same age-group.

Thirty-six countries took part in the study for fourth graders and 48 for eighth grade. The study has been conducted every four years since 1995.

Among other countries that took part this year at both grade levels in 2007 were Algeria, Bahrain, Colombia, El Salvador, Georgia, Iran, Norway, Scotland, Tunisia and Ukraine.

The tiny African state of Botswana, Cyprus in Europe, and Syria in the Middle East were among countries that took part at eighth grade level only.

Yemen, Slovakia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Morocco, Kazakhstan, Denmark and Austria took part in the assessment of fourth graders only.

France has not taken part in the test since 1995, when its eight-graders only were assessed and scored higher than their US counterparts in math but lower in science.


China-made skincare products sold under Swiss brand

A beauty centre with branches in Penang, Kuala Lumpur and Sabah is being investigated by the Health Ministry for selling fake Swiss skincare products that are actually from China.

The ministry’s pharmacy enforcement division on Wednesday seized products worth at least RM5.5mil from a storeroom in Kelawei Road and a packing centre in Lebuhraya Maktab.

The division’s deputy director Wan Hamid Wan Ibrahim said they found 105,000 ampoules of vitamin B and vitamin C, and ewe placenta essence during the raids at 11.30am.

“We were acting on complaints from five customers who were unhappy with the results of their treatment by the beauty centre which has five branches in the three states.

“We thought that the company was exporting the cosmetic products without a permit but after checking the premises, we discovered the products such as moisturisers and whitening cream were from China and refilled into the bottles of a famous Swiss brand.

“There were more than 20 huge drums containing various types of face cream that had been smuggled into the country. The vitamin injection ampoules, which were also from China, cost between RM2 and RM3 each but were sold to customers for RM50,” he said.

Wan Hamid said each tube of cream was sold for RM200 and above but the cost price was only a few ringgit.

He added that the company had been existence for 10 years and believed the centre went into the fake cosmetic product business three years ago.

He said the packing, which was conducted under unhygienic conditions and in front of a toilet, was only done at night by Indonesian workers.

“The beauty centre workers were also prescribing antibiotics and painkillers to customers without being properly trained. We will be questioning the directors and workers to determine the extent of the fraud.

“The directors, who have been identified, are likely to be charged under the Poisons Act and Sales of Drugs Act which carries a jail term with a possible fine of up to RM50,000,” he said.

Survey: 70% of bosses okay salary rise and bonuses to staff

Payscale yearbook: Azman Shah (left) and MEF executive director Shamsuddin holding up the press copies of the ‘MEF Salary Survey for For Executives and Non- Executives 2008’ here.

About 70% of the 202 companies which took part in the Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) survey said there would be salary increases for staff next year despite the economic downturn.

In the survey carried out in October, they had forecast increases of 5.53% for executives and 5.59% for non-executives.

But in an earlier survey done in August before the economic slowdown became imminent, the forecast had been 5.78% for executives and 5.85% for non-executives.

MEF president Datuk Azman Shah Haron, who released the MEF Salary Survey for Executives and Non-Executives 2008 here yesterday, said:

“It can be noted that the forecast salary increase for 2009 was reduced slightly in light of the global economic downturn.

“Generally, employers need to retain their talent and tighten their belts at the same time.”
Azman also presented the MEF Medical Benefits Survey 2008 and Analysis of Collective Agreements and Awards on Terms and Conditions of Employment 2007.

On year-end bonuses, Azman said that 72% of the companies forecast that bonuses would be paid to non-executives, while 60% said they would be granting bonuses to their executives next year.

On medical leave, he said that the 5.5 million Malaysian formal private sector employees took an average of 4.2 days of medical leave each a year, compared with less than a day (0.91) taken in Britain.

“Comparatively, Malaysians take a lot more medical leave. Employers feel that the employees are taking advantage in this area,” he said.

Malaysia harmed by 'corruption is king' reputation: PM

Malaysia's reputation for being ridden by corruption is harming the country's prospects, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Wednesday as a new anti-graft body was tabled in parliament.

Abdullah also tabled legislation that will appoint a nine-member panel to advise the premier on the selection of judges, in a bid to address criticism that the judiciary is corrupt and incompetent.
"It will give a level of confidence in these institutions, higher than before, and negative perceptions will hopefully be reduced as much as we can," Abdullah said of the two proposals.

"We have to deal with the perception by businesses and industry that corruption here is king, and the judiciary is unsatisfactory and is not credible as all of this will affect our competitiveness," he told reporters.

The Anti-Corruption Agency which is being replaced has been criticised as toothless, and the new version is being promoted as having more independence and greater accountability.
However, activists say that the new commission should be also given the power to prosecute corrupt activities, currently the responsibility of the government.

Abdullah has been forced to agree to stand down in March and hand over to his deputy Najib Razak, after the government was punished in general elections this year over his failure to introduce promised reforms.

The premier came to power in 2003 with grand plans to revamp the police and the justice system, and root out corruption from the ruling party, but his failure to act earned him a rebuke at the March polls.

The Barisan Nasional coalition which has dominated Malaysian politics for half a century lost control of five states and a third of parliamentary seats in its worst-ever electoral performance.


Sarawak : Tempah haiwan ibadah korban melalui Internet

Masyarakat Islam di negeri ini boleh menikmati kemudahan menempah haiwan ternakan sama ada lembu atau kambing untuk dijadikan ibadah korban secara dalam talian Internet.

Pengurus Besar PPES Ternak Sdn. Bhd., Masri Haili berkata, pihaknya telah menyediakan perkhidmatan tersebut bagi memudahkan umat Islam di Sarawak untuk menempah lembu atau kambing secara dalam talian menerusi e-mel

Menurutnya, mereka boleh menghantar ke alamat itu dan mendaftar sebagai pembeli haiwan ternakan dari syarikat tersebut sebelum 5 Disember ini.

''Kita telah mengaplikasikan penggunaan laman web sebagai perkhidmatan kepada masyarakat Islam di negeri ini, setiap kali sambutan Aidiladha sejak tiga tahun lalu.

Masri berkata, sehingga kini sebanyak 500 ekor lembu dan kira-kira 200 ekor kambing telah ditempah untuk dijadikan haiwan korban pada Aidiladha 8 Disember ini.

Beliau berkata, pada tahun ini pihaknya menggunakan pendekatan menjual lembu mengikut harga seekor dan bukan mengikut berat kilogram.

Katanya, lembu dijual pada harga RM3,000 hingga RM5,000 seekor, manakala kambing pula dijual mengikut berat daging iaitu RM20 sekilogram.

''Kita tidak menghadapi masalah bekalan memandangkan tahun ini 1,200 ekor lembu dan 300 ekor kambing telah diimport dari ladang ternakan syarikat ini di Australia," ujarnya.

Sehubungan itu, masyarakat Islam yang mahu melakukan tempahan untuk ibadah korban boleh datang sendiri ke Pusat PPES Ternak di Jalan Mersawa, Bintawa atau menghubungi talian 082-482015 atau faks di 082-481350.

Hanya 18 hotel mendapat sijil halal HDC

Umat Islam diminta berhati-hati ketika makan di hotel di negara ini, kerana kini hanya terdapat 18 daripada 2,360 buah yang mendapat sijil halal daripada Perbadanan Kemajuan Industri Halal (HDC).

Timbalan Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri, Senator Datuk Dr. Mashitah Ibrahim berkata, sebanyak 31 buah lagi sedang dalam proses untuk kelulusan, empat permohonan baru, 64 dalam proses melengkapkan borang dan tiga telah tamat tempoh dan sedang memperbaharui sijil halal.

``Bagaimanapun, jumlah ini tidak termasuk hotel yang mendapat sijil halal daripada majlis dan jabatan agama Islam negeri,'' katanya ketika menjawab soalan Siti Zailah Mohd. Yusoff (Pas-Rantau Panjang) pada sidang Dewan Rakyat hari ini.

- Utusan Online 04/12/2008 6:30pm