PETALING JAYA: More than 600,000 Malaysians have signed an online petition opposing the Generational End Game (GEG) bill which is slated to be tabled next month, say two vape industry bodies.
The Malaysian Vape Chamber of Commerce (MVCC) and the Malaysian Vape Industry Advocacy (MVIA) said this indicated that many Malaysians opposed the bill.
They urged Putrajaya to heed the voices of the signatories and industry players.
The online petition was launched on the Malaysia Bersuara platform.
In a statement, MVIA president Rizani Zakaria said they had sought a meeting with the parliamentary select committee (PSC) tasked with drafting the bill, but their requests had been ignored.
“Our submissions to health minister Khairy Jamaluddin and the PSC members have also fallen on deaf ears despite our many appeals,” he said.
“The health ministry and PSC cannot only listen to anti-vape individuals and groups. The GEG bill impacts many layers of Malaysian society, and therefore, it should be studied and discussed with all parties before a decision is made.”
MVCC secretary-general Ridhwan Rosli said many in the vape industry have shared their concerns about how the GEG bill will impact them significantly since the policy was mooted in July.
“Beyond affecting Bumiputera entrepreneurs, the GEG bill sets a wrong and negative stance on vape, which has been widely used as a tool for smoking cessation,” he said.
The GEG bill seeks to ban the use, possession and sale of cigarettes and vape products to those born after 2007.
Last week, Khairy said the bill was still being studied by the PSC, but he remained hopeful that the legislation will be tabled in the Dewan Rakyat next month.
PETALING JAYA: Parti Sarawak Bersatu (PSB) president Wong Soon Koh has rejected the idea for the Sarawak premiership to be limited to two terms like in neighbouring Sabah.
He said a “brilliant” leader should be allowed to continue serving so that the state or nation can advance, reporters reported yesterday.
“For a premier with low and poor leadership qualities, even one term is too long.
“On the other hand, two terms would be too short for a good and capable leader who has the people at heart,” he said.
Wong said even China will soon amend its long tradition of a two-term limit in office for top leaders to allow President Xi Jinping to continue serving for continuity and stability.
The Bawang Assan assemblyman’s remarks come after Sabah chief minister Hajiji Noor said the state Cabinet had agreed in principle to limit the chief minister’s tenure to two terms.
Hajiji said on Saturday the proposal will be brought to the next Sabah state legislative assembly meeting for approval.
It will involve amending the state constitution, which requires two-thirds support in the assembly.
“I made the proposal and the state Cabinet members have agreed to this. So, if all government and opposition assemblymen join hands and vote for the change, we will amend the state constitution.
“This proposal is another initiative brought by Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) and Barisan Nasional,” Hajiji had said in a statement.
PETALING JAYA: A group representing p-hailing riders has urged Putrajaya to improve the ecosystem of the gig economy in Budget 2023 to look after their welfare.
The Malaysian P-Hailing Delivery Riders Association (Penghantar) urged Putrajaya to consider implementing a floor plan on wages to ensure delivery riders receive a stable income.
“There should be no more reduction of payment rates for delivery services,” Penghantar president Zulhelmi Mansor told reporters, adding that “modern slavery” should be abolished.
Zulhelmi said p-hailing riders had played a crucial role in the development of the gig economy and the national economy, especially in the past two years of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said p-hailing riders hoped for an extension of the 80% incentive for those who contributed to the Social Security Organisation’s (Socso) self-employed social security scheme (SKSPS).
Under the scheme, the self-employed only needed to pay RM20 to RM30 to Socso a year, with Putrajaya covering the other 80%.
“We are also hoping for a special RM500 incentive for p-hailing riders to service their motorcycles, as well as easier access to housing and car loans. At the moment, their income is not recognised by the private banking sector,” he said.
For many, the gig economy offers an opportunity to earn extra income while allowing them to pursue their own passions as well as spend time with family.
Proposals to offer riders permanent employee status have become a topic of debate, following reports that the government intends to study and regulate the gig economy.
The transport ministry has also mooted plans to amend three Acts to protect the welfare and interest of riders.
A total of 400,000 food delivery riders have now become an essential segment of the nation’s gig economy, supporting giant firms like Grab and Panda.
Budget 2023 is set to be tabled on Oct 7.
PETALING JAYA: Police have arrested three men for assaulting an Australian near an entertainment outlet at Jalan Tun Razak in Kuala Lumpur on Sept 23.
A video of the brawl had gone viral on social media, showing the bloodied victim getting beaten up by five to six men before eventually falling over.
Wangsa Maju district police chief Ashari Abu Samah said a report was made at 4.54am on Sept 23. He said the group comprised both Malaysians and foreigners.
He said one of the suspects was believed to have used a sharp weapon, resulting in cuts to the victim’s neck, body and palm.
“The victim was taken to Hospital Kuala Lumpur, where he is in a stable condition,” he said in a statement.
Ashari said the three men who were arrested were aged between 20 and 30 and have been remanded until Sept 27.
The case is being probed under Section 148 of the Penal Code for rioting with a weapon, which provides for a five-year jail sentence, or a fine, or both, upon conviction.
“We are tracking down the remaining suspects,” he said.
Malaysia will continue to bring up important issues at international forums, especially those concerning the fate of the Palestinian people, the situation in Myanmar, the economies of developing countries, and the reform of the United Nations (UN).
Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who described his mission of highlighting these issues at the 77th UN General Assembly (UNGA) here as a success, said Malaysia, for example, had been consistently fighting for the rights of the Palestinian people for a long time.
“Malaysia will continue to support Palestine until the cruelty against them is stopped and they establish their own country,” he told reporters on Sunday at the end of his four-day working visit to New York.
“We are disappointed that the Palestinian issue is still not resolved even though there have been three UN resolutions.”
On Friday, Ismail had delivered a national statement at the general assembly, where he touched on the issue of Palestine, the war in Ukraine, the crisis in Myanmar which caused Malaysia to accept about 200,000 Rohingya refugees, and the need to reform the UN, which is now considered incapable of resolving various conflicts around the world.
“Most of the countries acted so quickly in the case of Ukraine. Malaysia wants similar action to be taken to resolve the issue in Palestine. Israel needs to stop being an apartheid entity,” said Ismail, who begins a working visit to the United Arab Emirates on Monday.
He said the international community should also act quickly to resolve the political crisis in Myanmar, adding that the UN seemed to have washed its hands of the issue and left it up to Asean.
Ismail said his call for reforms for the UN, especially the removal of the veto power, had received positive feedback from several other leaders he met, including UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres.
“By right, the principle of one country, one vote should be given priority. But in reality, the voices of the 193 UN member countries are not important, because the five countries that have veto power can cancel whatever resolution that is brought up,” he said.
On his proposal for the UN to establish a mechanism for international monetary cooperation to deal with economic issues, including inflation, Ismail said although the central banks of each country had the right to raise interest rates, the impact on other countries should also be given due attention
“For example, when the US raises its interest rates, it affects Malaysia and other countries as well. What we want is coordination or consideration before measures like this are taken,” he said.
In his speech at the UNGA, Ismail had said the proposed establishment of the mechanism was aimed at building a more effective, fair system that was able to bring balance to development in the world.
PETALING JAYA: An activist group has urged the government to sharpen its focus on the Dual Language Programme (DLP) in the interest of boosting science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.
Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) president Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said there should be an allocation in Budget 2023 for the training of teachers to teach science and mathematics in both English and Malay.
“The education ministry made a promise to train maths and science teachers to be competent in both languages,” she said. “If this had been done, there would have been a marked increase in DLP schools.
“The ministry’s silence on the issue is deafening.
“There must be continued focus to scale up the number of schools offering DLP.”
The DLP has met setbacks since it was introduced in 2016 to offer pupils a choice of learning certain subjects in English. The programme is run in selected schools, and it is said that places are limited and there is a shortage of qualified teachers.
Noor Azimah also said the government should budget for inquiry-based science education to ensure teachers were continually trained so that the teaching would be hands-on, enjoyable and effective.
The head of another organisation of parents said allocations were already sufficient for the education sector, but the main issue schools were facing was bureaucratic red tape.
Mak Chee Kin of the Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education said schools had to submit working papers to the education department to be forwarded to the education ministry.
“Many schools do not receive the allocation although they submit the paperwork,” he said. “The ministry should cut down on bureaucracy and channel the allocations directly to schools.”
He said education department scrutiny should apply only to projects costing RM50,000 and more.
National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Fouzi Singon said the union hoped the budget would focus on neglected school infrastructure.
He suggested that funds be increased for school maintenance to ensure the comfort and safety of staff and students.
“NUTP also hopes there will be increased financial assistance for food, transportation and teaching aids,” he said.
Budget 2023 will be tabled on Oct 7.
PETALING JAYA: A former aide of Muhyiddin Yassin has fired back at the prime minister’s political secretary for brushing off a study on Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s approval ratings, saying it was not the time to be in denial.
In a lengthy post, Marzuki Mohamad said Syed Fazmi Sayid Mohammad’s decision to cite both the low employment rate of 3.8% and inflation being under control when defending Ismail was “very dangerous”.
“It is bordering on denial syndrome which led to the defeat of Barisan Nasional (BN) in GE14.”
Marzuki went on to cite the department of statistics’ August figures which showed that inflation had climbed to 4.4% in July from 3.4% in June.
The food index, meanwhile, was at its highest at 6.9%, which contributed to the high food prices.
Marzuki said that the finance minister recently admitted that the country would be affected by the global economic slowdown, which is poised to worsen next year. The 8.9% growth achieved in the second quarter of this year, he added, would not likely be repeated in 2023.
He also said that Syed Fazmi should not be so obsessed with gross domestic product (GDP) figures when arguing that there had been economic growth under Ismail’s administration.
“People don’t eat GDP. They eat food on their table.”
He also said that Syed Fazmi might not comprehend “the logic of sampling” when the latter questioned the number of respondents interviewed for the Merdeka Center study.
According to the study, Muhyiddin enjoyed a 67% approval rating compared with Ismail’s 45%.
Syed Fazmi had said that the number of respondents surveyed did not reflect the sentiment of Malaysians in general. He pointed out that only some 2,000 to 3,000 were interviewed, while the country’s population stood at 32 million.
Marzuki said if he were the prime minister’s aide, he would vet the study by the research centre as well as the reports by the various agencies to get a better picture of the situation.
“And then I’ll go to the prime minister and tell him that we are in deep trouble. Now it’s not the time to be trapped in denial syndrome.”
SHAH ALAM: Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has been acquitted of 40 charges of receiving bribes from a company to extend its foreign visa system (VLN) contract.
High Court judge Yazid Mustafa ruled that the prosecution had failed to establish a prima facie case against the Umno president.
Zahid, 69, had been accused of 33 counts of receiving bribes amounting to S$13.56 million (RM42 million) from Ultra Kirana Sdn Bhd (UKSB) as the then home minister to extend the firm’s contract as the operator of a one-stop centre in China and the VLN system as well as to maintain a contract for the supply of the VLN integrated system.
He was also charged with seven other counts of obtaining for himself S$1.15 million, RM3 million, 15,000 Swiss francs and US$15,000 from the same company in connection with his official duties.
The offences were alleged to have been committed at Seri Satria in Precinct 16, Putrajaya, and at Country Heights, Kajang, between October 2014 and March 2018.
Zahid still faces 35 charges in the Kuala Lumpur High Court for money laundering and criminal breach of trust involving millions from Yayasan Akalbudi and for accepting bribes for various projects during his tenure as the home minister.
PETALING JAYA: A PKR leader has slammed MCA for playing the religious card in defending Najib Razak against the backlash over alleged preferential treatment for the imprisoned former prime minister.
PKR deputy information chief Chua Wei Kiat also said MCA had resorted to a tactic similar to one employed by PAS.
“We understand that the general election is around the corner and that every political party is trying their best to woo voters.
“But in this case, it is clear MCA had misused religion to win over hardcore Umno and Najib supporters,” he said in a statement.
Chua was responding to a tweet by MCA vice-president Ti Lian Ker who questioned why Najib was not accorded any sympathy, especially among the Malay and Muslims.
Ti, who is also the deputy youth and sports minister, said yesterday he did not understand why there was so much hate against politicians
“Where is the culture of forgiveness of the Malays?” he asked.
Two days ago, health minister Khairy Jamaluddin revealed that Najib was transferred to the Cheras Rehabilitation Hospital (HRC) on Monday for follow-up treatment.
He denied allegations on social media that the Pekan MP, who is serving time in prison for corruption in the SRC International case, was being given special treatment.
GUA MUSANG: Police are still investigating claims of attempted kidnapping involving two students at SK Sri Wangi here, on Sept 19 and 20.
Gua Musang police chief Sik Choon Foo said that after a voice message over the incidents went viral on WhatsApp, the school had met with the students involved.
“The first incident on Monday at about 5pm involved a Year 4 pupil who claimed that two unknown men in a white Perodua Kancil had called out to him on the road leading to Gua Musang, but the student ignored them.
“The second incident on Tuesday at about 5pm involved a Year 1 student who claimed that two unknown men in a grey Perodua Myvi had called out to him. The student also ignored the call,” he said in a statement today.
Sik said following the incidents, the school had requested for police patrols when students were returning home after the morning session at 12.45pm, as well as after religious and fardu ain classes at 4.45pm.
He reminded parents and guardians to pick up their children on time while also urging all parties not to speculate about the incidents.
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