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PETALING JAYA - Badminton legend Datuk Lee Chong Wei is set to join another Malaysian, Hollywood luminary Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh, on the international stage as wax figures at Madame Tussauds.
He will be the first Malaysian athlete and second figure to have a wax figure displayed at Madame Tussauds Hong Kong.
"I never imagined a wax figure of myself!" an elated Lee wrote in a Facebook post yesterday.
"Thank you @madametussaudshongkong for the privilege and I'm extremely honoured to be the first Malaysian sportsman to join the list.
"Special shout-out to the Madame Tussauds Hong Kong team, who were extremely patient and detailed during the detailing session. It was definitely a first for me!" he added.
Lee's six-hour sitting session with Madame Tussauds Hong Kong was also shown in an official video, where the former world No.1 shuttler greeted fans excitedly with, "Hello everyone. It's been so long! I'm Lee Chong Wei. Thank you for your continuous support!"
Madame Tussauds Hong Kong said in a statement that Lee was not only cooperative during the sitting session, but also jovial.
Lee said he was also impressed at how they recorded his details so meticulously, including the colour of his hair and eyes.
"I'm extremely honoured and grateful to be representing Malaysia. I hope my wax figure will inspire more Malaysians to showcase their talent on the global stage," he said.
Madame Tussauds Hong Kong head of marketing Bobo Yu hoped that Lee's figure at its exhibition would attract more sports fans around the world.
"We are indeed privileged to have such a brilliant athlete joining us. We hope this will attract sports aficionados from Malaysia and all over the world to come and experience the magic of badminton displayed through the badminton superstar," Yu said.
Lee, who retired from badminton last year, was ranked world No.1 for a record 349 weeks. He was also appointed Malaysia's chef-de-mission for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics.
North-South Expressway operator won't be sold, 20-year extension for toll concession: Malaysian PM Mahathir
KUALA LUMPUR - The Cabinet has decided not to sell national highway operator Plus to any private companies as their bids are not attractive enough, says Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamed.
"We have studied all the bids made by the private sector, and also the bid by Khazanah Nasional," said Tun Dr Mahathir, referring to Malaysia's sovereign wealth fund.
"We decided that the best way is not to sell Plus to anybody, but to keep it with Khazanah Nasional and Employees Provident Fund (EPF)."
Dr Mahathir also said Plus would be given a 20-year extension of the toll concession.
"People need not worry about the 20-year extension of the toll concession on Plus as the reduced flat rate, when compared against future ringgit rates, will be minimal," he explained.
"They (Plus) have to reduce the toll rate by 18 per cent, but remember, 18 per cent is set at today's rate. That means, in 20 years' time, the 18 per cent when compared with the ringgit rate then will not be very high.
"Traffic will increase, but the value and purchasing power of the ringgit will go down, so what they (Plus) earn afterwards (in 20 years) is not as big as people think they are going to get."
"This is because we are looking at it at the present rate, and it will be a flat rate minus 18 per cent," Dr Mahathir told the media after officiating the opening of the Balai Islam Complex at the Tenaga Nasional Bhd headquarters in conjunction with its 70th year.
Plus is the largest highway concessionaire in Malaysia and operates the North-South Expressway.
Currently, Plus is controlled by the UEM Group - a subsidiary of Khazanah Nasional - and the EPF. Khazanah holds 51 per cent stake in Plus, with the remaining 49 per cent held by the EPF.
Khazanah had proposed that the best entity to take over Plus was, in fact, the government.
It was reported that four other players vying for Plus had offered cash for the equity stakes of both Khazanah and the EPF, but the more pressing issues were Plus' debts.
Apple has shared a photograph of sunrise on a beach in Terengganu on its official Instagram account yesterday (Jan 16).
The photo taken by local policeman Azmeer Iskandar has received over 300,000 likes on the tech company's official Instagram account. Apple shared the photo with the caption "Right place, right time".
Other Malaysians have reacted positively to the post by expressing their pride at seeing Terengganu being showcased on the account, which has more than 21 million followers. They are also congratulating Azmeer on his achievement.
When contacted by reporters, the 28-year-old based in Terengganu expressed his excitement, saying he shot the image with an iPhone XR.
"Before I went to bed last night, I got an Instagram notification from Apple. But I ignored it because I wanted to sleep. When I woke up, I was surprised to see that my photo has been shared by Apple and that it now has over 300,000 likes," he said.
Azmeer originally posted the photo, taken at a beach in Rusila Marang, onto his Instagram account under the handle @aazmeeriskndr back in August 2019. He recalled asking his friends to join him for a walk at the beach to take photos at dawn.
"The beach is only 10 minutes away from where I live. I believe this is the first time that Terengganu has been featured on the Apple Instagram page," he said.
This is the second time in recent months that the Apple Instagram account has featured a photograph taken by a Malaysian. Last month, Apple shared a photo of a paddy field in Perlis taken by 20-year-old student Dinie Aiman Sukhaizar.
Apple updates the Instagram account daily with specially selected images taken by other users from all over the world with the hashtag #ShotoniPhone.
Azmeer, who was born in Kuala Lumpur, has spent eight years in Terengganu where he is stationed in Cabang Tiga. He added that he hopes the photo on the Apple Instagram page will inspire more people to visit Malaysia.
"I think the timing is perfect because it's Visit Malaysia Year 2020. Our country has a lot of beautiful places to offer and I believe more people should be aware about that."
Azmeer currently has over 40,000 followers on his personal Instagram account, which is filled with beautiful shots of his travels and daily life, and regards photography as a hobby.
JOHOR BARU - Aslindah Md Sahat could not stop feeling guilty for not heeding the bruises on her granddaughter, who later died as a suspected victim of child abuse.
The 49-year-old said she was the closest to two-year-old Nur Shahana Al Quddus among her 16 grandchildren.
"She referred to me as mama while my other grandkids call me nenek.
"I am still reeling from her death and heartbroken that my sweet granddaughter is no more," she said at her house in Kampung Sentosa here yesterday.
Aslindah said she last saw the child on Dec 31 at Sultan Ismail Hospital, where they hugged and kissed.
She added that after her son and Nur Shahana's mum divorced, the court granted custody of the child to the mother.
"If I'd listened to my heart, my granddaughter might still be alive," she said.
Her granddaughter was buried at Cahaya Baru Muslim cemetery yesterday morning.
The police arrested a 22-year-old single mother and her 33-year-old boyfriend after the girl died at the hospital on Monday from what were believed to be injuries sustained from physical abuse
The victim is also said to have had multiple injuries including bite marks on her arms and abdomen.
Hospital staff who had found the marks on the girl's body lodged a police report.
The post-mortem found that her death had been caused by a blunt force trauma to the head.
The suspects were arrested at the hospital's compound at about 4am on Tuesday.
The single mother and her child have been renting a room with her boyfriend at an apartment in Kempas for more than a year.
It is learned that the mother would place the victim under her boyfriend's care whenever she went to work.
When contacted, Johor police's Criminal Investigation Department chief SAC Md Yusof Ahmad confirmed the arrest.
"We have classified the case under Section 302 of the Penal Code for murder," he said.
He added that the suspects were under remand for seven days to assist investigations.
KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia will start a programme on Wednesday to hand out a total of 450 million ringgit (S$148 million) to nearly half of its citizens, the government said, in a drive to increase digital transactions that will be a big boost for e-wallet companies.
The money will be distributed through Southeast Asian e-wallet operators Grab, backed by SoftBank Group (9984.T); telecom company Axiata's (AXIA.KL) Boost; and Touch 'n Go, which is backed by banking group CIMB (CIMB.KL) and China's Ant Financial.
Every Malaysian aged 18 years and above and earning less than 100,000 ringgit a year will be eligible to receive a one-time shopping handout of 30 ringgit through one of the e-wallets, the finance minister said in a statement.
Up to 15 million Malaysians will benefit from the programme, which was flagged in the country's 2020 budget in October. The 30 ringgit must be spent between Jan. 15 and March 14.
The "initiative is designed to widen digital payments adoption among Malaysian consumers and merchants, particularly among small retail businesses," Minister of Finance Lim Guan Eng said.
Total digital payments in Malaysia are expected to grow 10.8 per cent annually, reaching about $17 billion (S$22 billion) by 2023, according to data portal Statista.
The handout may also help the government deflect concerns over the cost of living, which late last year led the ruling coalition to lose a by-election by a bigger than expected margin.
"This is part of the government's commitment to fulfil the shared prosperity agenda by reducing barriers to digitalization and improving financial inclusivity in the country," Lim said.
PUTRAJAYA - The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has lodged a police report against individuals whom they claim plotted to tarnish the reputation of its chief commissioner.
The report was made by Latheefa Koya's special legal officer Sasha Lyna Abdul Latif at the Putrajaya police headquarters yesterday.
She said the report was made to enable police to investigate the "criminal plot" of the individuals to besmirch Latheefa's reputation.
"These individuals are also tarnishing the integrity and image of the MACC, " she told reporters later.
Sasha Lyna said she also handed over evidence to police and identified the persons behind the plot.
Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Mazlan Mansor pledged to get to the bottom of the matter.
"Appropriate action will be taken once investigators go through the police report made by the special legal officer.
"It will be premature to comment at length now, " he told reporters in Subang Jaya after launching Ops Selamat in conjunction with the coming Chinese New Year yesterday.
Late on Monday, Latheefa exposed what she termed as a "criminal plot" to ruin her reputation, following the commission's disclosure of several telephone recordings involving former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and other individuals.
"It has now come to my knowledge that in reaction to my disclosure on Jan 8, a criminal plot has been set in motion to fabricate and distribute materials intended to cast a slur upon my personal reputation.
"We believe that a lawyer is among the culprits involved in this plot, " she said in a statement, pledging not to falter in discharging her duties.
The MACC had on Jan 8 released nine sets of audio recordings implicating Najib, Rosmah and other former top officials.
KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia's Attorney General's Chambers (AGC) yesterday ruled out new charges against prime-minister-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim over allegations that he sexually assaulted a former male aide, as there was not enough evidence to proceed.
The former aide, Mr Muhammed Yusoff Rawther, accused the former deputy premier last month of trying to force him to have sex in September 2018. Mr Anwar denied the accusation, describing it as "politics at its worst".
Solicitor general Engku Nor Faizah Engku Atek said the investigation would be closed.
"Upon careful evaluation of all the evidence gathered in the investigation papers submitted by the (police), we found contradictions of material facts which could not support the prosecution of any person," she said in a statement.
Ms Engku Nor Faizah also said there was insufficient evidence to prosecute.
The solicitor general's statement did not name Mr Anwar or the accuser, but referred to allegations against a "political personality" early last month.
Mr Anwar spent nearly a decade in jail on two separate counts of sodomy and for corruption, charges that he and his supporters maintain were aimed at ending his political career.
He was first jailed in 1999.
Last week, the AGC declined to prosecute anyone linked to a series of leaked videos purportedly showing a senior cabinet minister having sex with a man.
The minister, Mr Azmin Ali, had denied links to the videos, saying they were a plot to end his political career.
Mr Azmin has been regarded as a possible challenger for the premiership promised to Mr Anwar.
Same-sex acts are illegal in Malaysia and carry penalties of up to 20 years in jail.
In a separate development, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad said yesterday he is ready to give up his post as head of government the moment the Pakatan Harapan (PH) presidential council demands it.
"I think this will be decided by all four parties together, whether they want me to go," Dr Mahathir told reporters. "As far as I'm concerned, if they want me to go, I'll go now."
Dr Mahathir said this in response to a proposal by several MPs from PH member Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) that he hand over the prime minister post to Mr Anwar, who is PKR president, in May.
Dr Mahathir previously said that he will pass the baton to Mr Anwar, but not before the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, which Malaysia will host in November.
KUALA LUMPUR - Had he not ended up studying medicine in university, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said he would have become a lawyer.
"I did not choose to be a doctor. I had no choice. In those days if they give you a scholarship to study anything, you just say yes; you don't say no or I prefer to choose this or that.
"I wanted to be a lawyer. But I did not get a scholarship to study law. So now I am a doctor.
"I find that being a doctor provides many solutions to the problems of administration.
"Because a doctor must always solve problems in order to give the correct treatment. That kind of habit is still with me whenever I encounter any problem.
"I regard it (problems) as a sickness. I have to understand why and how it happens, what caused it and what is the probable solution, " he said.
On another matter, he said the government was committed to reduce disparities between the rich and poor through the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030.
The government, he added, was concerned with the disparities between the different races, those living in the urban and rural areas, as well as the rich and poor.
He said that over time, the disparities between the rich and poor, as well as those living in the urban and rural areas, had become more extreme.
"And we know that when there is disparity between rich and poor, it will lead to confrontation, " said Dr Mahathir.
He also noted that he was often accused of being corrupt during his first tenure as prime minister.
"Well, that is the accusation levelled at me. But what is the proof? Did I buy diamonds at RM27million (S$8.9 million) to give to my wife? I didn't.
"In fact, we live a very ordinary life. Even my house is not grand, but you are still accused of corruption.
"What is important is that you don't get corrupted by the power that you wield, " he added.
MIRI, Malaysia - A dead giant python has been found in the deep jungle of Lingga district in central Sarawak, measuring about 18 feet long (5.5 metres); with its body bigger than the size of an adult male.
The carcass was found by a team of officials from the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC), following a video posted on social media that showed a group of men killing a giant python last week.
SFC, in a media statement, said the carcass was already rotting when found in the jungle, located about 200km north of Kuching.
"Our SFC team went to Lingga from Jan 8 to 12 to investigate the video footage.
"They found the rotting carcass of a male giant python.
"We have questioned the person who took the video and also the nine men shown in the footages.
"We are investigating the case under Section 29(2) of the State Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1998.
"Anyone capturing or keeping wildlife, selling and buying it or causing it to be killed can be jailed a minimum of one year and fined a minimum of RM10,000 (S$3300) upon conviction," said SFC.
The video that went viral showed the men hacking to death the giant python, that is a protected animal.
The men are believed to be land surveyors.
SFC urge members of the public who have information on those who are capturing, hunting, trading, keeping or abusing wildlife to call SFC hotlines.
These SFC hotlines are in Kuching (019-8859996,016-8565564) in Sibu (019-8883561) in Bintulu (019-8223449,019-8332737) and in Miri (018-9799778,019-8290994).
JOHOR BARU - A seven-year-old girl who was in critical condition after suffering liver and kidney failure died at 10.46pm Monday (Jan 13) night.
The victim, Nur Dinie Damia Muhammad Noor Ain, had been warded at the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of Sultanah Aminah Hospital (HSA) here since Friday (Jan 10) after being transferred from a private medical centre.
She was earlier believed to have been infected with the influenza virus and had been put under close observation by the hospital's medical team
Nur Dinie Damia's father, Muhammad Noor Ain Dahalan, 38, when contacted said that his daughter was pronounced dead at about 10.46pm.
"I have been informed that the doctors are going to take a blood sample to help investigate her condition, " he said.
Earlier, Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Dr Sahruddin Jamal had also visited the victim at the pediatric ward, at about 4.50pm.
He said the victim had tested negative for influenza after a PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test was conducted.
"The hospital had conducted a test after the victim was brought here. Right now, she is suffering from liver and kidney failure, " he said when met by reporters after visiting the ward here on Monday.
He added that there were currently 10 patients that have tested positive for influenza A and they have been receiving treatment at HSA.
The case of Nur Dinie Damia had also gone viral on social media.