Crime is very real in everyday situations – cop robbed of his mobile phone!


TOCrime1DAY, crime is happening not only in back alleys or in the dark but under broad daylight and even at one’s doorstep.

Concerns that the crime rate is on the rise are not unfounded. It is certainly no longer a perception. Now, it doesn’t pay to be an early bird. The early bird may not get the worm, but trouble.

The same goes for the night owls as trouble may await them. It is not advisable to go out after 9pm unless it is an emergency.

Gone are the days where teenagers could run errands safely for their parents.

A report about a policeman being robbed of his mobile phone “Robber hits cop on the head and makes off with smartphone” (The Star, July 27) is also disturbing.- see below

I feel our police force should be given refresher training to beef up their defence skills.

In case of being attacked, they should be able to fight off their attackers even if they are armed.

If the cops are not able to ward off the attackers, what about us, the ordinary laymen on the street, who depend on them to protect and safeguard us.

Cops who are obese, for example, should be given top priority to attend such courses. They should undergo a diet and exercise regimen to trim down their waistline.

In the end, they should be able to chase after the criminals without running out of breath.

Being fit is not only good for them but also for those who care for them. Remember, health is wealth.

Malaysia is truly a land of opportunity for those who work hard to earn their living the legal way and also for those with evil intentions.

Much needs to be done to tackle crime. In the meantime, always be alert and take the necessary precautions to avoid any untoward incident.

TAKE CARE Putrajaya]

Robber hits cop on the head and makes off with smartphone

KUALA LUMPUR: A policeman suffered a huge gash on his head after an armed robber hit him with a metal rod and stole his smartphone.

The incident occurred when the policeman, who is in his 20s, was having supper at a restaurant at Setapak yesterday.

Sentul OCPD Asst Comm Zakaria Pagam said the suspect, armed with the metal rod, had attacked the off-duty policeman at around 2am.

“The constable is attached to the Sentul Motorcycle Patrol Unit. He was not in uniform during the incident,” he told reporters at the City police buka puasa function in Putrajaya yesterday.

He said the suspect had hit the policeman with the rod before demanding that he hand over his smartphone.
“When the policeman refused, the suspect hit him on the head again. The policeman then got into a scuffle with the suspect before being overpowered,” he said.

ACP Zakaria said the suspect ran off with the smartphone towards an accomplice waiting nearby on a motorcycle.

“The policeman was rushed to Hospital Kuala Lumpur where he received more than 20 stitches for the gash on his head,” he said, adding that the case was being investigated as causing hurt in an armed robbery.

He urged anyone with information on the case to contact the police hotline at 03-2115 9999 or visit the nearest police station.

By AUSTIN CAMOENS – The Star/Asia News Network

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Malaysian election: Relooking ideals of democracy, How to casting Your Vote?


The workings of electoral democracy face many challenges that separate the democracy’s virtues from the sordid realities that need to be admitted and rectified.

Transformation Malaysia

IN a democracy, the government must be representative of the people and answerable, responsible and accountable to the wishes of society. Elections are one aspect of this accountability.

Unfortunately, the electoral exercise in all democracies is so colossal, involves so many details, so many people (240,000 workers for the forthcoming elections) and so much money (RM400mil) that it is extremely vulnerable to manipulation and malpractices.

Despite democracy’s undoubted virtues, the sordid realities of the electoral exercise need to be noted and rectified.

A genuinely democratic electoral process must possess the following salient features.

First, there must be in existence constitutional provisions for the existence, composition and tenure of legislative assemblies. These are provided for in detail in our federal and state constitutions.

Second, the electoral system must translate votes into parliamentary seats.

Two main types of electoral systems exist – the simple plurality system and the system of proportional representation. In the simple plurality system, the candidate obtaining the most votes is declared elected.

There is no requirement that he must obtain more than 50% of the votes polled. In a three-cornered contest, the “winner” may capture the seat with only a minority of the votes.

In addition to non-representative outcomes in individual constituencies, the simple plurality system permits a massive disparity at the national level between the percentage of votes polled and the percentage of parliamentary seats won.

For example in 2004, Barisan Nasional won 63.9% of the popular vote but 90.4% of the Dewan Rakyat seats. In Britain in the 70s, the victorious Labour party won only 37% of the popular vote but a working majority in Parliament.

In contrast, in the proportional representation system, parliamentary seats are given to parties in proportion to the percentage of popular votes obtained by them.

The positive outcome is that the legislature is truly representative.

But the negative feature of a proportional representation system is that a large number of political parties join the fray and none command a firm majority in the legislature. Instability, frequent change of government and gridlock result.

Third, democracy requires that a fair and impartial machinery for delineating and revising electoral constituencies must be in place.

Every citizen’s vote must carry equal weight. This means that in principle, all constituencies must be approximately equal in population size.

Unfortunately, if this ideal were to be strictly followed, all constituencies in rural areas, in hilly terrains as in Pahang, and in territorially large but thinly populated states as in Sabah and Sarawak will have very few MPs.

The Constitution in 1957, therefore, allowed a measure of weightage to be given to rural constituencies. Unfortunately, how much weightage may be given is no where specified and wide disparities exist.

The largest parliamentary constituency is Kapar, Selangor, with 144,369 voters; the smallest is Putrajaya with 15,355 voters – i.e. 9.4 times smaller. In Perak, the largest is Gopeng with 97,243 electors; the smallest is Padang Rengas with 28,572 – a difference of 3.4.

Fourth, a fair and impartial machinery for drawing up an electoral register is necessary.

In Malaysia, it is the job of the Election Commission to draw up the electoral register impartially, to ensure that no one is denied the right to vote, that there are no phantom voters or persons who have died, that no non-citizens are allowed to register, that voters satisfy the requirement of residence in their constituency and that no one registers in more than one electoral district.

Fifth, the law must permit universal adult franchise (right to vote). Regrettably, our voting age (21 on the date of registration) is very high. Consequently, nearly 55% of the population is rendered ineligible to vote. We need to reduce this proportion. There is also no automatic registration.

Many citizens are apathetic and do not register as voters. Some who do fail to show up on election day because voting is not compulsory.

We have 13.3 million registered voters who constitute only 46% of our population of 28.9 million.

If one were to deduct those who do not show up, this leaves only 34.5% of the population that participates in democracy’s showcase event! We must find ways to increase this proportion.

Sixth, there must be legal rules for the eligibility of candidates and for the nomination of contestants. These exist in detail.

Seventh, there must be rules about the limits on the powers of caretaker governments. In the case of PP v Mohd Amin Razali (2002), the court provided some guidance. We could also emulate conventions from the Common­wealth.

Eighth, legal and conventional rules exist for the conduct of election campaigns, duration of the campaign period and rights of political parties to reach out to the electorate. Ninth, election expenses are controlled so that the electoral exercise does not degenerate into a battle of cheque books.

In Malaysia, the law puts a ceiling on the expenditure by individual candidates (RM100,000 for state and RM200,000 for federal seats) and imposes a duty to maintain a record of contributions and filing of audited statements of expenditure.

However, there is no control on what political parties may spend or receive by way of donation.

Tenth, the Constitution confers safeguards for freedom of speech, assembly and association.

In many democratic countries, there are provisions for equal access to the media for all contestants. In Malaysia, media monopoly is a serious problem.

The Internet is, however, open to everyone and provides an alternative, though not always reliable, source of information.

In sum, though democracy is the best form of government, there can be no denying that behind the folklore of electoral democracy stand many myths and many utilitarian compromises. Every where in the world electoral reform is being called for. Unfortunately, there are no quick-fix, simple solutions.

For this GE, many improvements, like extension of postal votes to those abroad and use of indelible ink, speak well of the recognition of the need for reform. But the challenges are many and, in some cases, fundamental.

What one can hope for is that as in the past our electoral exercise will remain peaceful and that its result will provide a strong and stable government to lead us forward.

Reflecting On The Law by SHAD SALEEM FARUQI
> Shad Saleem Faruqi is Emeritus Professor of Law at UiTM

How to casting Your Vote?

Check & Print out:
Check on-line first (http://daftarj.spr.gov.my/semakpru13.aspx) and print out your details before going to the voting center. You may be able to by-pass the Barung counter since you have a printout and know where to go and thus short cut your time. 

How to hold your ballot paper?How to hold ballot paper

Shaken indelible ink: 
Failure to shake the bottles vigorously has caused the ink used for polling to be washed off easily, the Election Commission clarified, referring to several cases during advance voting which are causing a stir in the social media. The EC gave assurance that those who have cast their ballots will not vote again on Sunday. Failure to shake the bottles vigorously has caused the ink used for polling to be washed off easily, the Election Commission clarified, referring to several cases during advance voting which are causing a stir in the social media. The EC gave assurance that those who have cast their ballots will not vote again on Sunday.

Why should we be afraid of Hudud Law? (Must Watch)?

Anwar Ibrahim at Han Chiang Hig

 

Dressing stature


Chinese new president visits Tanzania

Elegant couple: China’s President Xi Jinping and wife Peng disembarking from a plane on arrival at Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, recently for a two-day visit. – EPA

JUST when you think there are no new personalities projected into the spotlight, comes the debut of the First Lady of China (Peng Liyuan) last week. Her first foreign engagement was accompanying the president on an official visit to Russia and a few countries in Africa.

When the plane doors opened, people saw a modern elegant lady, unlike her predecessors.

She took the husband’s arm when walking down the stairs from the plane instead of walking behind holding the rails. Most unconventional.

Everyone knows that no matter how independent we are, we need to hold on to our man for support when we are navigating steps on high heels. Especially where there is an audience and we cannot afford to trip.

It took a couple of days before people could figure out what “branded” items she was wearing. The bag she was carrying looked nice but did not have the conspicuous logos of a luxury brand that one can spot from a distance.

Throughout the whole trip, there was only a pair of modest pearl earrings. There were no necklaces, strings of chunky pearls or big and flashy stones.

It was just so refreshing. Now wonder there was incessant news about her in the foreign and domestic media in China.

Given her stature, she did not need to dress to scream, “look at me”. People will be looking and scrutinising her. It reminds me somewhat of Adele. If you have a great voice, you can just sing. You don’t need all the massive accompaniments.

When you are in London or Paris, the crowd who buy designer bags like they are free, without needing to think long and hard over which one to buy, are from China. Here is now someone who has shown that you can look elegant, fashionable and well put together without the need to carry expensive brand names.

I can understand the need to dress up. When one is a young up-and-coming executive, one has to drive a nicer car and carry some expensive branded items to show either taste or success. But as we progress in life, the need to create an impression dissipates.

I like this interesting story about dressing and change in a CEO interview. To change the work culture and have people take pride in their work, the new CEO initiated a “dress like you are attending a wedding” campaign as his first project.

His message was simple. Be bothered to dress up for work because it is important. Let your dressing be a reflection of your professional attitude. When you are a slob, you will be sloppy.

Have you noticed the ladies selling snacks on the Shinkansen? Their hair tied up neatly and makeup immaculate. Uniform is neat, tidy and clean. They wear black cord shoes with heels. They might be pushing a trolley and selling snacks but they are professional and polite. They have their processes. Before they leave the compartment, they bow and say goodbye.

Have you seen the lady who welcomes you as you drive into the shopping centre in Seoul? She is in a black formal looking suit, looking immaculate and welcoming you as you drive into the car park. She does this with pride, like welcoming a VIP. I thought it was too much.

We did try once to dress with the times. During the initial dot-com days, we thought we could dress casual and carry a backpack. After the dot-com craze fizzled out, so did our dressing. It was very difficult to go into a boardroom looking like you are better suited for a different place. You can dress what you like at your office but when you are with clients or in their office, you need to dress suitably so that clothes are not the distraction or the talking point.

As a consultant, I always felt the need to dress well enough to look professional and carry the right demeanour to inspire confidence. Somehow, in the early days of a client relationship, casual just don’t cut it.

It is not right to judge someone by their dressing. However there are many studies that show the impact that dressing and appearance has on the first impression.

Coming back to Peng Liyuan. She impressed on the world stage with good taste, projecting a unique personal style. Let’s hope she is able to sustain the excellent dress sense by not having to wear chunky and expensive branded items.

TAKE ON CHANGE
By JOAN HOI 

Joan Hoi is the author of Take on Change. She is hoping that the trend for “no brand” high fashion has been sparked!

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A victory for patients & generic drugmakers vs Novartis in landmark patent case


The Indian Supreme Court’s ruling that only genuinely new inventions should be granted patents means that medicines can still be affordable.

Image

The front office of Novartis in Mumbai, India, Monday, after India’s Supreme Court rejected drug maker’s attempt to patent a new version of a cancer drug Glivec. 

PATIENTS around the world who look to India for low-cost medicines to treat their ailments heaved a sigh of relief last week when the Indian Supreme Court turned down a claim for a patent for a cancer drug.

This means that drug companies in India can continue to produce generic versions of the same drug, Glivec or Gleevec, at a much lower price, thus making it affordable to thousands more cancer patients.

Glivec, produced by the Swiss-based company Norvartis, can cost a patient up to US$70,000 (RM217,000) for a year of treatment, whereas the generic versions of the same medicine made by Indian companies cost around US$2,500 (RM7,750). The drug is used to treat some forms of leukaemia as well as a rare type of stomach cancer.

The Supreme Court decision also seems to open the road for patents not to be granted for more medicines, since it confirmed that only drugs that are genuinely a new invention can be granted patents.

When a patent is granted to a company for a drug, other companies are not permitted to produce generic versions of the medicine for a period of 20 years or so.

The monopoly given to the patent holder enables it to charge high prices since there is a lack of competition.

Many or even most patients are unable to buy the medicines, giving rise to frustration and despair especially when their lives are at stake.

Some companies whose patents are about to expire apply for a new patent for the same drug after changing the composition slightly or changing the form of the drug.

The “new” drug is often not a new invention, but only a minor modification that is made with the aim of having the patent renewed for another period. This practice is popularly termed “evergreening” of the patent.

An extension of the patent term means that the company continues to enjoy the monopoly and high prices, which continue to be out of reach to many patients.

Although governments are obliged to have laws allowing for patents to be given for inventions under the World Trade Organisation’s TRIPS agreement, each country is allowed to set its own definition and standards for what is an invention.

The Supreme Court decision confirms that the Indian patent authorities exercised their powers lawfully and properly when they rejected the patent application for Gleevec on the ground that the medicine was not a new invention.

Novartis had challenged the interpretation given by the Indian Patent Office to Section 3 (d) of the Indian Patents Act that seeks to prevent the grant of patents for non-inventive new forms of known medicines.

The Novartis application had claimed a patent for a new salt form (imatinib mesylate), a medicine for the treatment of chronic myeloid leukaemia, sold under the brand name Gleevec (or Glivec in other countries).

The Indian patent office had rejected the patent application on the ground that the claimed new form was anticipated in an earlier US patent of 1996 for the compound imatinib and that the new form did not enhance the therapeutic efficacy of the drug. The decision was upheld by the Indian Patents Appellate Board.

The legal challenge from Novartis had caused anxiety among patients groups, governments of developing countries and some international organisations in view of the possible negative implications for access to affordable medicines if the Norvatis petition succeeded.

Most developing countries rely on Indian generic drug companies for the supply of low-priced medicines for many diseases.
A weakening of the interpretation or use of Section 3 (d) would have enabled multinational drug companies to extend their patent monopolies based on “evergreening” or “trivial” incremental improvements which could delay the supply of generic medicines for the treatment of HIV/AIDS, cancer and other diseases.

The decision by the Indian Supreme Court is thus of major significance not only for India but for patients and health authorities in the developing countries.

In interpreting Section 3 (d), the Supreme Court observed that this section was introduced in the 2005 amendment to the Patents Act to ensure that while India allowed product patents on medicines in accordance with its WTO obligations, it did not compromise public health through “evergreening” of pharmaceutical patents.

The court hence took into account the concerns about the impact of the TRIPS agreement on public health and on the development of an indigenous pharmaceutical industry.

Moreover, it considered the implications of the Novartis case for the availability of essential medicines at affordable prices globally.

The court decision reproduced two letters from Dr Jim Yong Kim, the former director of the Department of HIV/AIDS at the World Health Organisation (current president of the World Bank) and from UNAIDS to the Indian health minister expressing their concerns relating to the continuous availability of affordable Indian generic drugs in other developing countries.

Thus, the Supreme Court decision has implications beyond India. It upholds the high standards by which drug patent applications can be processed. While genuinely new inventions are granted patents, drugs that are not really new need not.

The implication is that Indian generic companies can be expected to produce many more medicines in future, and continue their reputation as the “pharmacy of the developing countries”.

It is also heartening that the court decision reaffirms the priority for concerns for the patients’ right to receive treatment at more affordable prices.

The court decision is also likely to spark interest among other developing countries about the Indian patent law and the policies guiding it. Developing countries can learn from the Indian approach of balancing patents and public health.

Global Trends
By MARTIN KHOR

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Beware of rogue lawyers in Malaysian legal system


They boast of connections with retired judges and being able to fix cases

KUALA LUMPUR: A group of lawyers is bringing disrepute to the Malaysian legal system with claims of being able to “fix” commercial cases.

They are known as the “Dream Team” in the circle of retired gentlemen judges because these lawyers “play ball” with their “coach”, a retired judge, to win big.

Among litigation lawyers, they are referred to as the “syndicate” or “cartel”.

Malaysian Bar president Lim Chee Wee confirmed their existence.

“We are aware of a syndicate of rogue lawyers who boast of mastering the art of influence and inducement outside the courtroom in addition to advocacy in the courtroom,” he said.  “Mercifully, it’s a small group.”

He added that the commercial cases they boast of being able to influence include disputes over business contracts and family property and company disputes between shareholders and directors which usually involve millions of ringgit.

Lim, however, stressed: “The vast majority of judges and lawyers are honest, and it is only a few rotten apples who ruin the reputation of the rest.”

He was also doubtful about many of the claims they made, suggesting that “most of their boasts might be mere puffery to trick clients into paying more in legal fees”.

But for some years now, litigation lawyers have been indignant about “the cartel” and the connections they see between some retired judges and lawyers.

They say a retired judge acts as puppet master and a former court officer at times comes in as facilitator.

Litigation lawyers interviewed on the modus operandi of the syndicate gave these scenarios:

> A client contacts a retired judge who then gets in touch with a serving judge.

> While in office, the former court officer would arrange for access to certain judges.

> The former court officer takes advantage of the practice of registrars writing up case notes for appellate judges by suggesting how to skew them.

Asked what action the Bar Council had taken, Lim said it had told Tun Zaki Azmi when he was Chief Justice and his successor Tun Arifin Zakaria of reports that “a few judges received phone calls from retired judge(s) regarding pending cases, allegedly with a view to influencing their decision or grounds, and naturally these right-thinking judges found such approaches to be offensive.”

“The Chief Justices have taken action and I am not aware of any more similar incidents.”

Lim said he had also raised with the Chief Justice and President of the Court of Appeal the Bar’s concern over reports that a few rogue lawyers may be influencing registrars who prepare case notes/briefs for appellate judges “with the view of having the contents lean in their favour”.

When contacted, a sitting judge said: “The solution is for all appellate judges to carefully read the written submissions of both counsel and not rely on the case notes.”

Lim said that following media coverage of corruption in the legal system, the council has been receiving information from Bar members and the public.

“We will review the information and if there is prima facie evidence, we will lodge a complaint with MACC (Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission).”

Lim added: “We are also working closely with MACC to investigate corruption among lawyers who bribe officers/employees of clients to obtain legal work. This is perceived as a rampant practice at financial institutions.

“We hope that the Association of Banks Malaysia will consider assisting MACC on this.”

He urged anyone with any information on the who, what, when and where of corruption to write to president@malaysianbar.org.my or contact +603 2050 2013.

By SHAILA KOSHY koshy@thestar.com.my
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Who invented bank deposit insurance?


I LOVE the Internet. The best Christmas present I got last year was a preview of a forthcoming book by a banker/historian in Boston. He sent me electronically his PhD thesis, a piece of masterly detective work on how ideas travel over time and space, become adopted successfully in a different place, and then comes back to where they started.

Bank ClosuresDr Frederic Grant Jr‘s forthcoming book uncovered how the US bank deposit insurance system has its root in ideas borrowed from Canton (Guangdong province in southern China) of the 19th century. The origins of the US deposit insurance scheme arose from the 1828 The Safety Fund statute of the State of New York, drafted by a legislator named Joshua Forman.

In those days, if the state-authorised banks failed, the state would have to pay for their failure. Forman borrowed the idea from Canton that those authorised for privileged trade (in banks the privilege of private currency issue) should be responsible for their own debts.

The success of the New York Safety Fund inspired the adoption of similar schemes by 13 other American states. In 1933, the Banking Act of 1933 created the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp (FDIC), following the failure of many banks across the US. This idea of a national deposit insurance scheme has been adopted by many countries around the world, and is currently being considered in China.

How did Forman get the idea about the Canton Guaranty Scheme? Apparently, New York was already the major port for US-China trade and the scheme was familiar to New York businessmen.

How the Canton system evolved

It all came about because the Qing dynasty official merchants, namely merchant houses (or hongs) authorised by Beijing to conduct foreign trade, often require trade credit to conduct business with foreigners in Canton. If these traders defaulted on their loans, the foreigners threatened to take action on the weak Qing dynasty. Hence, in order to prevent individual merchant failure, the Qing government used a collective responsibility method evolved by the Manchu court in Beijing that ensured that those authorised to benefit from the foreign trade also collectively guaranteed each other’s trade debt, and a premium was paid yearly into a fund to pay off any individual failure.

The Qing government solved the problem of defaults by imposing collective responsibility everyone was responsible for the group’s debt. The good news is that the group as a whole made sure that no member got into trouble, engaging in what is today called “peer surveillance”. The bad news is that with collective guarantee, the smaller traders have an incentive to take higher risks, creating moral hazard private gain at collective loss. Moreover, as history showed, if trade was really bad, more traders failed and since the Qing government also borrowed or taxed the accumulated fund regularly, there were not enough money in the fund to settle all debts. Eventually the Canton Guaranty Fund also failed.

Corruption and misappropriation of fund was to blame, but the main culprit remained what Grant called “the perennial dilemma of inadequate capital and lack of access to affordable credit” for smaller hongs.

These problems plagued all deposit insurance schemes, even today. Large banks loath to support deposit insurance because they pay a larger share of the premium than smaller banks. Small banks enjoy the group insurance, but are more prone to failure because they were more likely to take more risks, which meant that there should be supervision to make sure that these riskier players do not destroy the group as a whole.

Deposit insurance worked very well in the United States, as the FDIC not only participated in supervision of the insured banks, but also engaged actively as the mortuary of failed banks. In the recent crisis, from 2009 to currently, the FDIC smoothly managed the exit of over 400 banks in the United States, without disruption to the system as a whole. But this time round, it was the failure of the shadow banks and larger banks that created the problem. Yes, smaller banks failed, but they did not take down the whole system because deposit insurance prevented large-scale bank runs at the retail level.

The time has come for China to adopt a formal deposit insurance scheme. There are at least three good reasons why it should occur. The first is that deposit insurance will help stop retail bank panic, exactly the reason for the Canton Guaranty Fund. The second is that there must be an orderly exit mechanism for financial institution failure. Some argue that a deposit insurance would duplicate supervision. Today we realise why we have two kidneys instead of one we need redundancy in the system, in case one fails.

The third, based on my personal experience, is that regulators who are good at daily operations may not always be very good at conducting the messy operations of restructuring failed banks. This is a very complicated process that needs strong skills, good bankruptcy laws and more investment banking skills than regulation. Deposit insurance is specialised work and needs specialised skills.

As Grant rightly said, the historical record of the Canton Guaranty System offers a number of valuable lessons to the modern world. “These include (1) that the tax that supports a guaranty fund must be based on measured risk of loss; (2) that the fund and its insureds must be made subject to strong independent supervision; (3) that laws enacted to avoid risk contingencies must be enforced; and (4) that both corruption and the diversion of fund assets must be strictly prohibited.”

The trouble with history is that we never seem to learn from history.

THINK ASIAN
BY ANDREW SHENG

> Tan Sri Andrew Sheng is president of the Fung Global Institute. 

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To Malaysians, time to learn to live without maids!


Maids

I REFER to the report in “Maids may snub Malaysia” (The Star, Dec 24, reproduced below).

People may wring their hands in despair now but bear in mind a litany of abuse cases and the fact that Malaysian workplace laws regarding maids have been dragged into the 21st century with better wages and conditions is too late.

People have justified for too long the treating of maids as second-class humans by claiming all sorts of benefits that they bring to these women.

In the report, it states “If maids chose not to come here, many women would either have to give up their careers or demand for more childcare centres”.

My sister in Australia has for the last 20 years worked in a full-time job, undertaken part-time university studies, raised three children, seen to my ageing father and ran a house.

All this she has done without a maid, housekeeper or cleaner.

She has not given up her career.

What she has gained from this are children who are emotionally intelligent, responsible, able to undertake tasks such as simple cooking, cleaning their bedrooms, washing the car, walking the dog and discovering that being part of family is learning to be responsible.

I know of countless Malaysian families in the same boat as my sister. The world will not end if maids don’t come.

GORDON REID Kuala Lumpur

Maids may snub Malaysia

By PATRICK LEE patrick.lee@thestar.com.my

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia may soon be the last choice of foreign domestic maids.

With other countries paying higher wages and the current low exchange rate of the ringgit, domestic maids may prefer to go elsewhere, warn economists.

RAM Holdings group chief economist Yeah Kim Leng said that although there would be a greater demand for maids, especially with an ageing population, it would be harder to hire them.

“Unless our income is able to keep up with the rising costs, fewer people will be able to afford maids,” he said.

He said that with improving economies in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia may no longer be viewed as a potential job market.

Yeah said more locals might have to work as maids and predicted a greater demand for outsourcing of domestic chores and daycare.

“The Government will have to look into an alternative for working parents,” he said.

Yeah was commenting on an announcement by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak that both Malaysia and Indonesia had agreed to review the cost structure for recruiting maids.

There has been a trickle of Indonesian maids into the country despite the signing of an MoU between Malaysia and Indonesia on May 30 last year which set a RM4,511 agency fee for the hiring of maids.

The Malaysian Maid Employers Association (Mama) has since claimed that the cost structure was not sustainable as agents were reluctant to bring Indonesian maids into the country, leading to a shortage.

MIDF research chief economist Anthony Dass said locals would have to choose between paying more for their maids or not having any at all.

“If another country offers better (fees) for maids and agencies, why should they come here?” he said.

Dass said increased wages for maids would reduce Malaysians’ disposable incomes, especially if salaries do not go up.

He said if maids chose not to come here, many women would either have to give up their careers or demand for more childcare centres.

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Get rid of illegal casinos gambling now !


Gambling-online-illegal
Gaming_Singapore

SINGAPORE: Police have arrested five men in a raid on an illegal gambling den in a private apartment at Geylang Road.

I REFER to “Bet illegal casinos can be weeded out” (see below). They should not be allowed to thrive. They are a nuisance and must go.

I hope the enforcement agencies work on this immediately. Stop giving excuses that this cannot be done.

Such nefarious ways and activities must be put to an end. Have the political will to do so and we will see to their demise.

What is also shocking is how illegal massage parlours, budget hotels, nightclubs, pubs, video arcades and other unhealthy businesses have cropped up of late?

Did the state governments give permission for them to operate? Whatever it is, please see to it that they stop functioning.

Their presence is bad. Trust me, nothing good comes from casinos and gambling.

Gambling is addictive and leads to compulsive gambling problems and unhealthy obsessions; it promotes crime, sin, stupidity, laziness, arrogance, greed, selfishness, entitlement and neglect of one’s family, among others.

BULBIR SINGH  Seremban

Bet illegal casinos can be weeded out

IT is known as the street that never sleeps. And for all the wrong reasons.

Because of the proliferation of gambling outlets, businesses along the same street, both legal and illegal, operate non-stop to cater to the demands of the gamblers.

In another part of the Klang Valley, one road is regarded as the hottest gambling spot in town, with 20 outlets along a single stretch.

The Star‘s investigation into the e-gambling dens in Klang, Selayang, Batu Caves, Kepong and Petaling Jaya reveal that these casinos in the streets thrive because the authorities turn a blind eye to what is going on under their jurisdictions.

Enforcement is lax even when these outlets in highly-popular zones are so easily identified.

We are not talking about illegal activities that operate in the boondocks, where their locations are tightly-kept secrets and you may need special passwords to gain access.

As our expose today on similar outlets in Penang reveals, we are talking about such illegal activities in two of the most developed states in the country.

The local authorities and enforcement agencies are certainly well-equipped to deal with situations like these.

The modus operandi seems simple enough. By day, they are typical business outlets, but by night they transform into bustling gambling dens.

The enforcers should be working round the clock to close them down.

The real action happens after dark, when not only gamblers head to these places, but also others seeking other services, like sex, to unwind after a hard day’s work.

One law enforcement official claims that the operators of the illegal e-casinos play “hide-and-seek” with the authorities and often disappear before raids are conducted.

Meanwhile, the local authorities claim that they cannot do anything about the rising gambling menace either because the residents do not complain officially or that the other enforcement agencies are not doing their part.

While that may be the case, such scenarios are common and should not be used as an excuse not to take the necessary action.

The enforcement officials can station themselves in these areas.

The licensing authorities can shut down even the legitimate businesses in the daytime if they have evidence that they are being used for illegal activities at night.

Rather than blame one another over the lack of action, everyone can, and should, work as a team to ensure that our streets come alive, in the day or at night, for only the right reasons.

Otherwise, casinos in the streets will simply spawn crime in the streets.

Related posts:
Video games turned casinos gambling in Penang
Cyber crooks target gamers; E-gambling dens menace, raid in Penang

Cyber crooks target gamers; E-gambling dens menace, raid in Penang, etc

Falling foul of the tax law


Many tax offences arise due to failure to correctly discharge filing obligation

MOST of us would not ever think of cheating when we file our tax returns. This does not however mean that one cannot fall foul of the tax law. This is in part due to the fact that tax laws generally are amongst the most complex of a country’s set of laws, and our own tax law is no exception.

Often it is not the complexity of the law that catches one out but simple failure to follow procedures, the most common of which involves keeping to set time frames, whether in the filing of returns, paying of one’s taxes or providing information to the tax man.

Thus the instances when one can be in breach of the tax law are quite varied and extensive. All such breaches are serious offences, some more serious than others.

Our tax law adopts the declaratory system one is required to declare income via the filing of returns to the tax authority. Many tax offences arise due to failure to correctly discharge this filing obligation.

The most obvious offence is not filing a tax return, or not filing within the stipulated time frame.

IRB tax-filing
An Inland Revenue Board officer helping taxpayers filing their submission
.

In filing the return, an offence is committed if the return filed is incorrect. A return would typically be incorrect if income is omitted or a lesser than actual sum is included. Likewise, more deductions claimed than one is entitled to would result in incorrect filing.

An innocent mistake may not be regarded as cheating but it is still an offence especially when it results in less tax being charged. Generally the severity of penalties varies with the level of the offence’s blameworthiness.

An offence involving willful intent to defraud would be amongst the most serious, bringing about the prospect of imprisonment if convicted. Details of the range of penalties for various offences are listed on the official website of the Inland Revenue Board (http://www.hasil.org.my).

An offence of “not taking reasonable care” was introduced with the implementation of the self-assessment system. This is entirely justifiable as the filing of a tax return is in law the making of an assessment on oneself upon which tax becomes payable.

The aim is to ensure that a “degree of care or conscientiousness” is exercised in connection with the preparation and filing of a tax return. It is intended to prevent the adoption of a reckless or careless approach to the task and to penalise any breach where it results in tax underpaid.

Thus with this standard, claiming a deduction for a capital expense would constitute an offence of not taking reasonable care, even where its capital nature is not quite obvious. The law presumes that a reasonable person would seek to determine the true nature of the expense.

The “reasonable care” requirement was also introduced by Australia when it implemented self-assessment some years before we did. Since the standard is derived from the common law on negligence, features of the “reasonable care” standard adopted in Australia should apply equally to the Malaysian provision.

However, a taxpayer who fails to take “reasonable care” under the Malaysian law is liable to prosecution and, if convicted, is liable to a fine of not less than RM2,000 and not more than RM20,000 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years or to both. This is in fact harsher than an offence of willful intent to evade tax.

There seems to be an obvious anomaly here as the offence of failing to take reasonable care does not involve bad intent, what lawyers would term mens rea. Australia treats the offence as amongst the least culpable of tax offences, certainly less so than intentional disregard of taxation law.

A controversy resulting in considerable bemusement arose in Australia recently where its Appeals Tribunal in a tax appeal ruled that a taxpayer in seeking the advice of an accountant had not taken reasonable care; he should have used the services of a lawyer. Understandably, this resulted in consternation and dismay amongst both tax accountants as well as tax lawyers for quite different reasons; the latter over concerns that their numbers are fewer in this specialism.

A further difference is that the Australian law requires both the taxpayer and his advisor to take “reasonable care”, whereas the “reasonable care” standard under Malaysian law applies only to the “person who advises or assist” the taxpayer but not the taxpayer himself. Why this is so is not clear.

The Australian “reasonable care” standard is coupled with the “reasonably arguable case” standard.

Where the law is unclear and there is room for a real and rational difference of position between two views, and the taxpayer adopts the view, which ultimately is seen to be wrong, he would in strictness have made an incorrect return.

In Australia, no penalty is imposed where a “reasonably arguable case” is made out.
This recognises that the intricacies of tax law often does mean that the taxpayer could be forced to take a contentious position, one where the arguments could go either way. If the weight of arguments is fairly balanced, imposing a penalty for taking an incorrect position would seem manifestly unfair.

Our tax authorities do exercise discretion in considering the question of penalties despite the absence of the equivalent Australian standard.

However, this does not detract from the fact that the taxpayer will always prefer to see his right spelled out in the law. On the basis of balance of rights, there seems to be no cogent reason why the “reasonably arguable case” standard should be left out from the Malaysian tax legislation.

Kang Beng Hoe is an executive director of TAXAND MALAYSIA Sdn Bhd.The views expressed do not necessarily represent those of the firm. Readers should seek specific professional advice before acting on the views.

Related posts:
Reducing income tax 
Breaking the Goods and Services Tax (GST) taboo for a 21 Oct 2012
How will the Malaysia’s Tax Budget 2013 affect your 07 Oct 2012

PAS messes up religion and politics again: Making one’s hair stand!


<< In a difficult position: Shoppers walking outside one of the unisex salons in KB Mall.

Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan‘s recent remarks about salons make us wonder if he has anything between the ears’. How then can he not know that PAS is messing things up in a respectable industry

DATUK Takiyuddin Hassan should be invited by hair stylists for a visit to their shops the Kelantan state executive councillor has no idea what he is talking about. To put it bluntly, he is talking rubbish.

He doesn’t need to have a hair cut or a hair wash but simply observe the operations at a hair salon.

And sir, it is hair salon and not hair saloon. There is no drinking or entertainment of any kind.

A hair salon is different from a girlie barber shop, that’s another point you should be aware of.

On Sunday, the PAS assistant secretary-general defended the PAS state government’s decision to enforce gender-segregation rules on unisex salons, prohibiting women from cutting the hair of men, and vice-versa.

He said: “It is a well-known fact that hair salons and unisex establishments are the most convenient places for immoral activities.

“They provide a cover for men and women to engage in illicit activities. If I were a Chinese, I will never allow my wife to patronise such salons or even consider allowing my children to work in such places because of their reputation as a hotbed for immoral activities.

“And even a Chinese wife will feel uneasy to allow her husband to go to such places. Frequently such places will always lead to scandals.”

Like many Malaysians who read these remarks yesterday, I really didn’t know whether to cry or to burst out laughing.

Many of us go to hair salons for hair cuts simply because, unlike barbers, these hair stylists are properly trained.

Many invested in diploma courses in famous training schools in London, Paris, Hong Kong and Bangkok.

We don’t expect Takiyuddin to know what “a layer cut” is.

Huge sums of capital have been invested into their hair salons and many well-known hair stylists have turned entrepreneurs by setting up chains of hair salons nationwide.

These hair stylists work hard on their reputation, of which PAS may not be aware of, but clients are selective in their choice of hair salons.

Takiyuddin has no idea what he is talking about. We wouldn’t blink an eye if our family members have their hair cut at hair salons – by a male or a female stylist.

And most of us have family members or friends who work at hair salons and we are proud of their skills and creativity. They make many Malaysians look good with their professionalism and abilities.

It is even more humorous when Takiyuddin said that “when a woman worker gives upper body massages to a male customer, one thing will eventually lead to another, ending with illicit activities”.

Hello, the nearest massage one gets at a hair salon is a neck-and-shoulder massage.

And from where Takiyuddin is coming from, he and his party leaders will surely shut down spas when they come to power.

Since male stylists cannot cut the hair of females and vice-versa, will we see PAS banning women doctors from treating male patients?

So if Takiyuddin suffers a heart attack while he is giving a press conference, will he wait for a male doctor to come, even if there is a female doctor nearby?

Next, women flight attendants won’t be serving Takiyudidin when he is flying because it can lead to many things, what with their smiles and the uniforms they wear.

The hair on my hands are already standing on end just reading what Takiyuddin has reportedly said.

COMMENT By WONG CHUN WAI

Related Stories:

 Group expresses dismay over hair salon ruling
Hair-raising time for stylists and salon workers
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Hairstylist moves to Johor to avoid ruling

Leading hairstylist slams ‘Jurassic’ rule

PETALING JAYA: One of the country’s leading hairstylists, Winnie Loo, has come out to defend the industry, saying that contrary to allegations by the Kelantan government, the business is run by professionals.

Don’t pay the summonses, salons told

PETALING JAYA: The MCA has advised hair salon operators affected by the Kota Baru Municipal Council by-law not to pay their summonses 

Takiyuddin’s comments insult our intelligence – Opinion | 

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Politics and religion just don’t mix 
Don’t mess religion with politics!
Politics and religion a bad mix !
Politics, Religion don’t mix!
Malaysia is a Secular state or an Islamic country?
Former Malaysian leaders were clear on Secularity of Constitution but their successors seem unclear!

How to make your hair stand up/ How to have troll hair!

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