Rail link a huge economic boost, big news for small towns in Malaysia


 
Boom time is here for railway towns, little places that dot the route of the RM55bil East Coast Rail Link from Port Klang to Kota Baru. Not only will the link shorten travel time between the west and the underdeveloped east of the peninsula, it will also unlock huge economic potential, create thousands of jobs and bring down the country’s carbon footprint. And it could all happen sooner than expected.

KUANTAN: Exciting days are ahead for the many small towns that dot the route of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) from Port Klang to the Kota Baru.

A host of towns including Bentong, Mentakab, Maran, Kuantan, Cherating, Chukai, Dungun, Kuala Terengganu and Tok Bali and Kota Baru, all of which are designated as ECRL stations, are looking at boom times ahead.

The ECRL will also benefit freight transport as it will link key economic and industrial areas within the East Coast Economic Region such as the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park, Gambang Halal Park, Kertih Biopolymer Park and Tok Bali Integrated Fisheries Park to both Kuantan Port and Port Klang.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak called it “another milestone in the country’s land public transport history”.

With its slogan of “Connecting Lives, Accelerating Growth”, Najib said the project sets the tone for an economic spin-off effect and positive social impact for the east coast states.

“The ECRL is a high impact project that will provide easy access from the Klang Valley to Pahang, Terengganu and Kelan­tan.

“The 688km rail link will be a catalyst for economic equality between the west coast and east coast as it will stimulate investments, spur commercial activity, create ample jobs, facilitate quality education and boost tourism in the states of Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan,” he said at the ground-breaking ceremony here yesterday.

Najib also urged local contractors with capabilities and know-how to seize the opportunity to take part in the project.

“We have together with our Chinese counterpart agreed that Malaysian contractors will be involved in at least 30% of this high impact project,” Najib said.

“The viability of the ECRL is undisputed as it is estimated that 5.4 million passengers and 53 million tonnes of cargo will use the service annually by the year 2030 as the primary transport between the east coast and west coast.

“Comparatively, revenue from the operation of the ECRL project is projected to be obtained through a transportation ratio of 30% passengers and 70% freight.”

Najib said the project was long overdue as the east coast states of the peninsula had only been connected to the west coast via a network of roads, highways and woefully inadequate rail lines.

Najib also urged local contractors with capabilities and know-how to seize the opportunity to take part in the project.

“We have together with our Chinese counterpart agreed that Malaysian contractors will be involved in at least 30% of this high impact project,” Najib said.

“The viability of the ECRL is undisputed as it is estimated that 5.4 million passengers and 53 million tonnes of cargo will use the service annually by the year 2030 as the primary transport between the east coast and west coast.

“Comparatively, revenue from the operation of the ECRL project is projected to be obtained through a transportation ratio of 30% passengers and 70% freight.”

Najib said the project was long overdue as the east coast states of the peninsula had only been connected to the west coast via a network of roads, highways and woefully inadequate rail lines.

The railway line, with 12 passenger-only stations, three freight stations and seven combined passenger-freight stations, is expected to increase the gross domestic product of the east coast states by 1.5%.

China’s state-owned China Communications Construction Company has been appointed for the construction of the RM55bil project.

Malaysia Rail Link Sdn Bhd is the special purpose vehicle under the Minister of Finance Incorporated tasked as the project owner.

Rail link a huge economic boost – ECRL project set to create over 80,000 jobs and promote businesses along its route

KUANTAN: The economic impact of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) is huge and critics who say it is not feasible are wrong.

“There will be a multiplier effect. When there are more business people, we can get more taxes and government revenue will increase,” Malaysia Rail Link (MRL) chairman Tan Sri Dr Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah said.

He said critics must also look at the development that would take place alongside the ECRL in the long run.

China Communications Construction Group chairman Liu Qitao said the ECRL project was of great economic significance.

“It will promote social development and improve the living standards of those along the railway line, especially in the east coast,” he said.

Liu said that the rail link was also expected to generate more than 80,000 jobs for Malay­sians during its construction period.

Another 6,000 jobs will be created during the rail’s operation and the Chinese government will also train more than 3,000 Malaysian students.

A total of 3,600 graduates will be trained in rail technology through the ECRL Industrial Skills Training (PLKI-ECRL) programme.

Its chief coordinator Prof Dr Rizalman Mamat said about 1,000 applications had already been received as of yesterday.

“The first intake of 50 participants will begin in September with the next intake of 250 scheduled in December.

The next batch of 700 trainees will be in April next year.

“The programme will be focused specifically on the socio-economic development of the east coast but this does not mean those in the west coast cannot take part.

Dr Rizalman said the training was open to graduates who majored in civil engineering, mechanical engineering and electrical engineering.

He added that Universiti Malaysia Pahang (UMP) had been appointed as the focal university for the implementation of the programme, with cooperation from Beijing Jiaotong University and Southwest Jiaotong University and other institutions of higher learning in Malaysia.

He said railway technology was developing rapidly and the programme was a stepping stone for UMP to develop rail engineering in the future.

The training under the programme will take four to six months, said Dr Rizalman.

China state councillor Wang Yong said ECRL was a landmark project for China and Malaysia.

“The team from our two sides have had productive cooperation. This is a full demonstration of the friendship between China and Malaysia and its efficiency,” said Wang.

MRL project director Yew Yow Boo said the railway would have 88.8km of viaducts mostly in Kelantan and Terengganu to bypass flood-prone areas.

Yew said the first phase would have a total length of 49km of tunnels at 19 locations with the longest being 17.9km connecting Bukit Tinggi and Gombak.

Source: The Star/ANN

Liow: Do not politicise the ECRL

//players.brightcove.net/4405352761001/default_default/index.html?videoId=5537464019001
KAJANG: The East Coast Rail Link (ECRL) is created for the people and country, and should not be politicised or turned into a racial or language issue, says Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

“I would like to emphasise that the ECRL is one of the most important projects for the nation.

“It’s a game changer for the east coast. It is for the country’s economic development and to help us reach greater heights.

“The theme is very clear, we’re pushing for connecting lines and accelerating growth,” he said after attending Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman’s 15th anniversary celebration at its Sungai Long campus here yesterday.

The RM55bil ECRL from Port Klang to Kota Baru, which is 534.58km long, is estimated to be completed in 2024.

Liow cautioned actions that could harm good bilateral ties between Malaysia and China were counter-productive.

 

Varsity pillars: (Standing from left to right) Utar founding president Tan Sri Dr Ng Lay Swee, MCA vice president Datuk Dr Hou Kok Chung, Dr Chuah, Dr Ling, Liow, Dr Ting, Chong and Utar Board of Trustees chairman Tan Sri Dr Sak Cheng Lum cutting Utar’s anniversary cake. 

“We must explain to the people that the ECRL is for them and the nation. They should not be misled by those out to create a controversy,” he said.

The ECRL was launched in Kuantan on Wednesday.

Certain groups had criticised the rail link launch, claiming that it was “too Chinese”.

Liow described the launch as a successful event, adding that the project was set to bring many benefits to Malaysians.

“We have received a lot of support for the project. We are looking forward to its completion,” he added.
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Bitcoin must not in your retirement financial planning portfolio


Bitcoin investments have undeniably become a trend among savvy investors in search of the golden goose, but one financial planner is against the use of it as part of the financial planning portfolio for retirement.

Max Growth Wealth Education Sdn Bhd managing director Nicholas Chu said one should not use bitcoin as part of the retirement portfolio and the public must be well aware of the risk in bitcoin trading before getting in.

“It is not asset-backed, it is very unsecure. It is, basically, you want to participate in the future changes. It’s not a proper financial planning way. It is just an experimental thing that you want to go through in this era, but it is not a proper investment product,” he told SunBiz.

“I definitely don’t agree if they use this for their financial planning. But for those who are able to try new ventures, they can go ahead provided they have extra money. If this doesn’t affect their existing financial planning, then I’ll leave it to them. We need to tell them the pros and cons of this investment. It’s up to the clients to do the final decision,” he said.

Chu cautioned on the uncertainties of bitcoin trading, which is driven by market forces.
“It is beyond anybody’s control, all the participants contribute to the bitcoin value. From that, I can say that there are a lot of uncertainties in the future,” he said.

Nonetheless, with the setting up of a few bitcoin exchanges, Chu noted that there will be demand and supply with tradeable markets available.

Bitcoin was the best-performing currency in 2015 and 2016, with a rise of 35.8% and 126.2% respectively.

Year to date, bitcoin prices have leaped more than three times. It stood at US$2,840 (RM12,140) as at 5pm last Friday.

Bitcoins are by the far the most popular cryptocurrency, which exists almost wholly in the digital realm and has no asset backing it. Bitcoin generation, known as mining, while open to anyone with a “mining application” on their computer, needs a great deal of computing power to solve complex algorithms which are later verified with the entire bitcoin network.

Colbert Low, founder of bitcoinmalaysia.com, said the recent spike in bitcoin prices could be partly due to the legalisation of bitcoin by the Japanese government.

He is unsure if the sharp rise in bitcoin prices will create a price bubble, but stressed that one cannot judge its price movement based on the “old economic theory”.

“This is a new economy based on a different model. It’s very hard to say,” Low opined, noting that there has been a growing number of retail outlets that accept bitcoin.

He foresees the usage of bitcoin propagating, especially in different types of payment methods.

However, Low opined that there will not be any “big movement” in the local market if the regulators do not regulate bitcoin.

“Our new Bank Negara governor is forward thinking and he is very much into fintech, technology and innovation. So there would definitely be improvement,” Low said.

The positive development of blockchain will be a catalyst for the growth of bitcoin, he added.

“Blockchain is a real thing that will change the way the IP system is architectured. We need to go down to a deeper level to see how blockchain can change the current problem and solve it.

“There are a lot of projects right now, over 500 companies are looking at this (blockchain) right now. Even IBM, HP and Microsoft are looking at it.”

Blockchain refers to distributed database that maintains a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, secure from tampering and revision. Bitcoin is just an application or software that runs on blockchain technology.

“If you look at blockchain technology, government agencies like the United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund are looking at it. This is the best way to secure your data,” Low said, noting that the usage of bitcoin will help reduce operating cost.

Currently, there are about 16 million bitcoins in the market and the number is capped at 21 million.

Bank Negara has said that it does not regulate the cryptocurrency and advised the public to be cautious of the risks associated with the usage of such digital currency.

Source: By Lee Weng Khuen sunbiz@thesundaily.com

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Reporting an offence is not defamation


Whistleblowers cannot be sued for libel or slander, rules Federal Court

 

PUTRAJAYA: A person who complains about an alleged offence to enforcement agencies cannot be sued for defamation for lodging those reports, ruled the Federal Court.

The court held that such reports to agencies such as the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), the Commercial Crime Investigation Department (CCID) and the Registrar of Societies (RoS) are protected with absolute privilege.

The unanimous decision was made during the appeal brought by former Selangor Chin Woo Athletic Association president Datuk Dr Low Bin Tick.

Justice Aziah Ali said the three authorities in the case shared a common feature in which they were statutorily empowered with investigative powers.

“The purpose (of lodging a complaint) is to notify these authorities of alleged unlawful conduct and to set an investigation in motion and, if appropriate, to take the necessary action against the alleged wrongdoer,” said Justice Aziah yesterday.

The Bench set aside the decision by the Court of Appeal and the High Court. The lower courts had ordered Dr Low to pay RM500,000 in damages to another former Chin Woo president, Datuk Chong Tho Chin.

Yesterday, the Bench also awarded RM150,000 in costs to Dr Low.

Chong, who was Chin Woo president from 1991 to 2001, had filed four defamation suits at the High Court in 2007.

Chong claimed Dr Low, who was president from 2001 to 2005, had made unfounded and defamatory complaints regarding him in the letters to the three authorities in 2005.

The Federal Court said Dr Low’s letters to the authorities had alleged probable misuse of power, breach of trust, fraud and negligence.

“The common vein in these letters is the request for the authorities to carry out investigations and to take action, if appropriate,” Justice Aziah said.

On republication of a police report, the court held the issue did not arise for their consideration since it was not raised in the appeal.

But she said a person who repeats another’s defamatory statement without privilege may be held liable for republishing the same libel or slander.

The five-man Bench was led by Chief Judge of Malaya Justice Ahmad Maarop. Apart from Justice Aziah, also in the panel were Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Justice Richard Malanjum and Federal Court judges Justices Hasan Lah and Ramly Ali.

Source: The Star by Nurbaiti Hamdan

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Malaysian MACC Act’s Sect.62 declared unconstitutional will be challenged by prosecution



Court of Appeal: Section 62 of MACC Act unconstitutional


PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal has ruled that Section 62 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009 is unconstitutional.

Justice Datuk Umi Kalthum Abdul Majid, who chaired a three-man bench, made the ruling after allowing the appeals by Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and businesswoman Phang Li Koon to declare Section 62 as unconstitutional in their corruption cases.

The panel held that Section 62 was ultra vires when read against Article 5(1) and 8(1) of the Federal Constitution.

Section 62 requires accused persons to disclose their defence statements to the prosecution before the beginning of the trial.

However, Article 5(1) states that no person shall be deprived of his life and personal liberty save in accordance with law, while 8(1) states for equal protection under the law.

“We allow the appeals and set aside the order of the High Court,” said Umi Kalthum, who heard the appeals with Datuk Ahmadi Asnawi and Datuk Abdul Rahman Sebli on Monday.

The Court of Appeal granted DPP Datuk Masri Mohd Daud’s oral application to stay the proceedings in the Penang High Court pending the prosecution’s appeal over the decision.

On March 7 this year, the High Court dismissed Lim and Phang’s application after ruling that Section 62 of the MACC Act was constitutional and valid as it did not impede the accused’s right to a fair trial.

Lim pleaded not guilty to charges of corruption in relation to the conversion of land from agricultural to residential and the purchase of a plot of land and bungalow at below-market value on June 30 last year.

Lim was charged with using his position as Chief Minister to gain gratification for himself and his wife, Betty Chew Gek Cheng, by approving the application for conversion of agriculture land to a public housing zone in south-west Penang to a company, Magnificient Emblem Sdn Bhd.

He allegedly committed the offence while chairing the Penang State Planning Committee meeting at the operations room, Level 28, Komtar building here, on July 18, 2014.

The charge under Section 23 of the MACC Act 2009 provides for imprisonment of up to 20 years and a fine of up to five times the sum or value of the bribe, or RM10,000, whichever is higher, upon conviction.

Lim faces a second charge of using his position to obtain for himself a plot of land and a bungalow located at No, 25, Jalan Pinhorn, George Town on July 28, 2015 from Phang for RM2.8mil, below market value.

The charge under Section 165 of the Penal Code provides for a jail term of up to two years, or a fine, or both, upon conviction.

Phang pleaded not guilty to abetting Lim in obtaining the bungalow at an undervalued cost.

She allegedly committed the offence at the same place and date.

The charge under Section 109 of the Penal Code read together with Section 165, provides for imprisonment of up to two years, or a fine, or both, upon conviction. – Bernama

MACC will appeal against ruling that Section 62 is unconstitutional


PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) will be appealing the Court of Appeal’s ruling that Section 62 of the MACC Act is unconstitutional.

The MACC stated in a statement on Tuesday that its prosecutors would be filing an appeal to the Federal Court “as soon as possible”.

“The MACC also wishes to clarify that this decision by the Court of Appeal does not affect the prosecution of Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and businesswoman Phang Li Koon,” it said.

On Monday, the Court of Appeal ruled that Section 62 of the MACC Act was ultra vires when read against Article 5(1) and 8(1) of the Federal Constitution, thus deeming it unconstitutional.

Section 62 of the Act requires accused persons to disclose their defence statements to the prosecution before the beginning of the trial.

However, Article 5(1) states that no person shall be deprived of his life and personal liberty save in accordance with law, while Article 8(1) states that all persons are entitled to equal protection under the law.

The ruling was made after allowing the appeals by Lim and Phang to declare Section 62 as unconstitutional in their corruption cases.

Lim currently faces charges for obtaining gratification for himself and his wife related to the conversion of land into residential development and another charge for using his position to purchase a bungalow below market value. Phang has been charged with abetment. – The Star

MACC: ‘Decision has no bearing’

PETALING JAYA: The Court of Appeal’s decision to declare a section of the Malaysian Anti-Corrup­tion Commission (MACC) Act as unconstitutional does not affect the prosecution of the Penang chief minister and a businesswoman, the graft busting body said.

The MACC said in a statement that its pro­secutors would be filing an appeal to the Federal Court “as soon as possible”.

“The MACC also wishes to clarify that this decision by the Court of Appeal does not affect the prosecution of Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and businesswoman Phang Li Koon,” it said.

On Monday, the Court of Appeal ruled that Section 62 of the MACC Act was ultra vires when read against Article 5(1) and 8(1) of the Federal Constitution, thus deeming it unconstitutional. Section 62 requires accused persons to disclose their defence statements to the prosecution before the trial begins.

But Article 5(1) states that no person shall be deprived of his life and personal liberty save in accordance with law, while Article 8(1) states that all persons are entitled to equal protection under the law.

The ruling was made after allowing the appeals by Lim and Phang who sought to declare Section 62 as unconstitutional.

Lim currently faces charges for allegedly obtaining gratification for himself and his wife related to the conversion of land into residential development and another charge for allegedly using his position to purchase a bungalow below market value.

Phang has been charged with abetment.

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Penang signs corruption pledge, faces calls for Chief Minister to step down




GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government finally inked a corruption-free pledge and almost immediately faced calls for the Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s resignation over corruption charges he faces.

The state government signed the corruption-free pledge with 10 additional integrity measures with the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) in a ceremony at Komtar attended by Lim, executive councillors, state assemblymen and MPs, heads of departments and agencies along with public administration officers and MACC officers.

The additional measures signed by the state include the CAT (competent, accountable and transparent) policy, open competitive tenders, public declaration of assets, and full protection for genuine whistleblowers.

MACC chief commissioner Datuk Dzulkifli Ahmad welcomed the additional integrity measures.

“It will strengthen the pledge as a whole. But the state must put their pledge and integrity measures into practice,” he said, adding that the occasion was meaningful for him.

“I am a Penangite, born in Kepala Batas,” he said.

Barely an hour later, Lim came in for attacks from Penang Umno Youth chief Rafizal Abdul Rahim who wanted him to resign, and state opposition leader Datuk Jahara Hamid for not inviting the state’s 10 opposition members to the ceremony.

Rafizal and several members approached Dzulkifli to hand over a memorandum urging Lim to resign.

“By signing the pledge, Lim is indirectly showing others he is clean,” he said.

MIC central working committee member J. Dhinagaran, a Penangite, said Lim should set an example by resigning from his position as Chief Minister if he was sincere about combating graft.

Lim faces corruption charges over the purchase of his bungalow in Pinhorn Road for RM2.8mil, below the market value of RM4.27mil.

On Jahara’s complaint, Lim said Umno assemblymen were not invited for the ceremony because they had failed to show up on previous occasions.

“We invited her (Jahara) many times and even invited her to sit in a committee, but she didn’t want to,” he said.

Jahara later said they would hold a corruption-free pledge session.

Kelantan will sign the anti-corruption pledge next week. Dzulkifli said the MACC had yet to receive a date from the Selangor government to sign its pledge.

Source: The Star by Christopher Tan

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Local Council hoarding RM60mil in drainage funds

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Local Council hoarding RM60mil in drainage funds


GEORGE TOWN: More than RM60mil collected from developers as drainage contributions in Seberang Prai has reportedly not been given to the state Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID).

Pulau Betong assemblyman Datuk Muhammad Farid Saad, who lashed out at Seberang Prai Municipal Council (MPSP) for withholding the money, said only RM2.2mil of RM63.39mil collected from 2008 to June last year was disbursed so far.

He said that according to the Auditor-General’s Report 2016, the move went against the directive which required contributions from developers to be channelled to a trust account maintained by the state DID director who would act as its controlling officer.

“MPSP’s failure to transfer the funds has resulted in many stalled flood mitigation projects.

“In 2016 alone, four places in central Seberang Prai were hit by flash floods 21 times.

“The rakyat are at the receiving end, all because MPSP wants to portray itself with a nice balance sheet.

“In the state assembly, the state government on April 2014, announced that it had increased the contributions from RM10,000 per acre to RM50,000 per acre.

“Did they spend part of the contributions on something else instead of drainage and irrigation or flood mitigation?” Muhammad Farid asked in a statement.

He said the Auditor-General also reported that MPSP’s Treasury Department was instructed to hand over RM400,000 annually to DID in 2010.

“That instruction did not get the approval from the state government. This is improper and action has to be taken.

“It is inappropriate for the local authority to make decisions behind the backs of the Chief Minister and state government.

He criticised MPSP for showing a lack of commitment in tackling floods.

“It is an irony that a local council which has won international accolades does not follow directives.

“The exposure by the Auditor-General has dented MPSP’s integrity.

“Its delay in handing over the contributions shows that it did not adhere to the state government’s CAT (competency, accountability and transparency) policy.

“Are they trying to secure another award — a local council with the healthiest coffers?”

MPSP president Datuk Rozali Mohamud said he would comment after reading Farid’s report in print.

Source: The Star

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Malaysian Public varsities, companies, GLC execs also recipients of EBA fake awards


Checks on local news reports show EBA bestowed ‘awards’ not just to Penang councils but also other Malaysian institutions.

GEORGE TOWN: Before the dust could settle on a shock expose that Penang municipal councils received “excellence” awards from a questionable outfit exposed by a UK newspaper, checks show that other Malaysian companies, universities and GLC execs were also recipients.

Checks by FMT show Malaysian companies, public universities and top executives of Malaysian government-linked companies had won awards from the dubious Europe Business Assembly (EBA) before.

UK’s The Times had alleged that EBA, run by Ukrainian businessmen, made use of the renowned Oxford University’s name and reputation to hand out awards to those who paid a sum.

According to EBA’s website, this year, seven Malaysian companies and their bosses were listed as award recipients.

Among them is a public-listed utilities company and an education provider.

Based on Malaysian news reports, past winners of EBA’s awards include three Malaysian public universities — namely Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM), Universiti Teknikal Malaysia (UTeM) and Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP).

USIM, UTeM and UniMAP received the “Best Regional University” award from EBA in 2013, according to a report by Utusan Malaysia on Dec 25, 2013.

Their vice-chancellors were reported in local Malaysian dailies to have won “Best Manager of The Year” in the same year as well.

One of the vice-chancellors was reported to have won “Best Scientist” separately from EBA’s “Oxford Summit of Leaders Science & Education”.

Another VC was reported to have won “The Name in Science” award, too.

EBA’s ‘International Socrates Award’

According to EBA’s website, the group is “an international corporation of social partnership” established in Oxford, UK, in 2000.

It lists developing and promoting social and economic links between companies, investors, education establishments, cities and countries worldwide as its main objectives.

The Times had reported that EBA advertises itself as an Oxford institution to sell “made-up prizes” such as “The International Socrates Award” and “The Queen Victoria Commemorative Award” for a price of up to £9,300 (RM52,000).

The report claimed the EBA outfit was run by Ukrainian businessmen, targeting areas where people had the financial power to buy such accolades.

A former employee told The Times that the outfit was told to focus on customers from the Middle East, eastern Europe and Russia “where the idea that money buys you credentials is still there”.

EBA was also revealed to have used images of Oxford colleges and even the same typefaces in its publicity materials.

It also claimed “exclusive” access to special lectures from Oxford, the report said.

However, the University of Oxford told the daily it has no relations with EBA.

“On the face of it, the guests gathered that evening did not have much to unite them.

Representatives from a Nigerian maritime security company rubbed shoulders with the vice-president of a Bulgarian mine.

“The founder of an international school in Malaysia mixed with the director of an Indian private medical institute,” The Times report read, in explaining the holding of an elaborate awards presentation ceremony.

Source: Free Malaysia Today (FMT)

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