Orang Asli boys Mohd Arif Haikal Abas, 12, and Ainol Razlan Mazlan, 12, run with the Jalur Gemilang as their friends cheer them at Kampung Alur Beruang, Kuantan. Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had launched the Merdeka month on August 4 along with a campaign to fly the national flag, to commemorate the country’s 61st independence day on August 31. — Picture by Bernama
Permanent residents over the age of 60 with red identification cards will soon have their citizenship applications granted, says Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in fulfilling a 100-day Pakatan Harapan pledge. It affects 3,407 Indians, but the decision will apply across the board. Separately, the prime minister said citizenship applications will also be relaxed for those under 60 and born in the country with one of the parents who is a Malaysian.
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GENOA — At least 22 people were killed yesterday when a giant motorway bridge collapsed in Genoa, with several more feared dead in what Italy’s transport minister described as an “immense tragedy”.
The collapse, which saw a vast stretch of the A10 freeway tumble on to railway lines in the northern port city, was the deadliest bridge failure in Italy for years, and the country’s deputy transport minister warned the death toll could climb further.
“Unfortunately I can confirm that 22 are dead, and it’s a number that’s likely to rise,” Edoardo Rixi told Italian television.
Rescuers scouring through the wreckage, strewn among shrubland and train tracks, said there were “tens of victims”, while images from the scene showed an entire carriageway plunged to the ground.
Cars and trucks were trapped in the rubble and nearby buildings damaged by vast chunks of concrete.
Italian media reported that 200m of the Morandi bridge had fallen away.
The Italian fire service said the viaduct, located in an industrial area in the west of the city, collapsed at about noon (6pm in Malaysia).
“I’m following with the utmost apprehension what is happening in Genoa and what looks like it could be an immense tragedy,” transport and infrastructure minister Danilo Toninelli said on Twitter.
Italy’s far-right Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said he was following events in Genoa “up to the minute” and thanked the emergency services for their swift response.
A fire service spokesperson said the bridge had mostly fallen on rail tracks 100m below and that “cars and trucks” had fallen with the rubble.
“Firefighters are working together and teams of rescuers and police sniffer dogs have been mobilised,” emergency services said on Twitter.
The Morandi viaduct, completed in 1967, overspans dozens of railway lines as well as an industrial zone housing several factories. — AFP
KOTA KINABALU ― Sabah Umno and Parti Bersatu Sabah will soon be moving to a new umbrella coalition with other local opposition parties under Gabungan Bersatu Sabah.
State Umno liaison chief Datuk Hajiji Noor said the reason for the move was Barisan Nasional (BN) no longer “existed” in Sabah.
“The question of BN disbanding does not arise. BN is still an entity but in Sabah, we want to form an opposition bloc called Gabungan Bersatu Sabah,” he told reporters on the sideline of the state assembly here yesterday.
“Umno is still in BN, but in Sabah, there is no BN, so that’s why we want to form Gabungan Bersatu Sabah.”
Hajiji said Umno would work with parties like PBS, Parti Solidarity Tanah Airku (STAR) and other local parties and independent candidates.
Sabah Umno secretary Datuk Masidi Manjun had said the intention of setting up Gabungan Bersatu Sabah was to facilitate cooperation among the parties in the state assembly meetings.
“There are also non-BN parties and independents in the new bloc. There may be a need one day for a formalised bloc,”
In June, Sarawak BN parties had quit the former ruling pact to set up Gabungan Parti Sarawak, comprising Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB), Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS), Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) and Progressive Democratic Party (PDP).
Hajiji said yesterday the Sabah parties had applied for the formation of Gabungan Bersatu Sabah with the Registrar of Societies and it should be completed “very soon”.
STAR president Datuk Jeffrey Kitingan said all the parties would soon be identified under the Gabungan Bersatu Sabah, but Umno might be revamping itself.
“Umno may also have to come under a different identity because they realise that Sabahans are now going for local parties. But they have to discuss with their headquarters to completely close and migrate or else there will be complications arising later. They have to resolve their problems,” he said.
Kitingan said Gabungan Bersatu Sabah would will have a presidential council and elect a leader, either by rotation or through another structure.
Following the May 9 general election, all the local BN component parties left the coalition, leaving only the national parties.
PBS had announced it would quit BN to form a new coalition to rebrand the BN in Sabah and that Umno would be part of it, but later on Sabah Umno said it would remain with BN.
KUALA LUMPUR — A PKR lawmaker criticised a colleague and fellow party member over a public allegation that PPBM leaders were out to prevent Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim from becoming prime minister.
Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar also expressed bafflement at Kapar MP Abdullah Sani Abdul Hamid’s decision to make public the allegation repeatedly.
“While PKR celebrates differences in opinion and champions freedom of expression among its members, we must refrain from criticising members of our fellow Pakatan Harapan (PH) component parties, especially its leaders,” the minister said in a statement yesterday.
“I believe that irrespective of PKR camps or allegiances, healthy politics should be practised by every member in the party instead of making accusations for the sake of ‘cheap brownie points’ and political mileage at the expense of component party leaders or members.”
He added that by virtue of PKR commanding the most federal seats among PH parties, the goal of elevating Anwar to be the eighth prime minister was at no risk.
Dr Xavier also said that any concerns over this and other matters should have been directed inwards so that they may be addressed internally and without detriment to the coalition’s image.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad rejected the alleged conspiracy on Monday while PPBM supreme council member Wan Saiful Wan Jan urged PKR to restrain its members’ attacks.
PKR is currently undergoing internal elections.
KUALA LUMPUR — PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali must respond to a federal lawmaker’s claim he is conspiring to prevent Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim from becoming prime minister, said Syed Badli Shah Syed Osman.
The former Selangor PKR Youth secretary said the allegation was grave and Azmin, who is economic affairs minister, along with his alleged co-conspirators should clarify the matter.
He added that Kapar MP Datuk Abdullah Sani Abdul Hamid would not have made the claim openly if he did not have any basis to do so.
“He said there is a plan masterminded by (Azmin) and Tun Daim Zainuddin to block the transition plan agreed by Pakatan Harapan parties for Anwar to become the eighth prime minister.
“If the claim is true, Azmin and Daim must come forth and provide an explanation as the decision to elevate Anwar to be the eighth PM was made by consensus via the Pakatan Harapan presidential council,” he said in a statement.
He also highlighted the fact that PKR was the best represented party among the four PH allies.
Syed Badli added that it was imperative to learn the truth about the allegation as it suggested a plan to destabilise PH that predates the general election.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on Monday rejected the claim that there was a conspiracy to prevent Anwar from succeeding him.
Earlier on Monday, PPBM supreme council member Wan Saiful Wan Jan also told PKR leaders to rein in their subordinates who were attacking PPBM over Abdullah’s allegation, saying the party should keep its internal intrigues to itself.
PKR is currently undergoing an internal election, with the main contest being former Pandan MP Rafizi Ramli’s challenge against incumbent Azmin for the deputy presidency.
The issue at hand traces back to a leaked audio recording purportedly of Anwar decrying Azmin as a lackey of Dr Mahathir.
ISKANDAR PUTERI — The Johor government will no longer approve applications by any political party to build, occupy or use government buildings or land, Menteri Besar Datuk Osman Sapian said.
The state secretary’s office and the district land office, he added, have stressed that government premises must no longer be used for political purposes as previously practised.
However, Osman said that there were cases of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) which misuse this for their political purposes.
“If there are premises still being used for political purposes, the original approval given to the NGO should be withdrawn,” he said at the state assembly in Kota Iskandar yesterday.
Osman was replying to a question by Stulang assemblyman Andrew Chen (DAP) on the status of political parties’ buildings on state land.
Osman said the state government, through the Johor Land Administration Office, would make a detailed check for any complaints regarding the construction or development of a permanent or temporary building on any state government land for the purpose of being used by any political party.
He stressed that if the building is built on state land or reserve land without approval from the state authorities, it is considered trespass on government property under Section 425 of the National Land Code.
The offence is punishable by up to RM10,000, one year’s imprisonment or any combination of the two upon conviction.
On the use of government public buildings for political activities, Osman said they are open for use by all parties, and includes MPs and assemblymen.
He said this ruling was in accordance with the National Land Code 1965, which stipulates that public halls, open spaces, cemeteries and other public use areas were gazetted under Section 62 of the code.
“This is also in line with the government’s desire that every available facility be used optimally for the benefit of the people,” he said, adding that interested parties can apply to the relevant local authorities to request to use the facility.
KUALA LUMPUR — Rampant corruption will make attempts to restore and uphold the rule of law arduous, said the Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah.
Despite his caution, he said, such efforts must be continued with gumption and commitment to resist those opposed to such a restoration.
“The restoration of the rule of law is always a far greater challenge than destroying it. It is not a task that can be undertaken with small steps, cynical compromises and half-hearted measures,” he said in his keynote address at the International Malaysia Law Conference here yesterday.
The Perak Ruler added that the country’s institutions must be restored to their former strengths and reinforced against future attacks.
“In the face of escalating threats, such as executive interference with judicial independence, it is more important than ever that we develop effective strategies to strengthen the rule of law against corruption and abuses of power for generations to come,” he said.
Sultan Nazrin said Malaysia should do more than just identify the people responsible for the breakdown of the rule of law.
“The rule of law should also ensure that all persons, including governments, are held accountable no matter how powerful or wealthy they may be.”
He said that steps were already being taken to revitalise core institutions of democracy and good governance, including the Election Commission, Parliament, the judiciary, enforcement agencies and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.
“The recent change of government has given fresh impetus to efforts to strengthen the rule of law and we look forward to all these important initiatives reaching full fruition,” the Ruler said.
“Malaysians and the country deserve
KUALA LUMPUR — Attorney-General (AG) Tommy Thomas said one of the reasons why Malaysia invoked admiralty law in its seizure of the Equanimity was because the court is able to provide a ‘’good title’’.
“For example, if a buyer wants to buy foreclosure land under the National Land Code, the court would give a good title,” he said at the International Malaysia Law Conference yesterday.
A good title is legally valid or marketable and can be again sold or mortgaged.
“In our present context, the government wants to sell the yacht as soon as possible and the established feature under admiralty law allows the sale of asset pending litigation.”
Thomas also asked fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho — better known as Jho Low, and said to be Equanimity’s owner — to appoint good shipping lawyers to challenge the ownership of the vessel.
“The ship was seized based on an ex-parte order and Jho Low can appoint a shipping lawyer to set aside the arrest warrant as it allows the Malaysian judiciary to be ‘tested’,” he said.
Thomas believes Malaysia has a strong claim over the superyacht, insisting it was bought with money stolen from 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
Thomas also sought to ease concerns over the pace of investigations into 1MDB. He said the Attorney-General’s Chambers must wait for investigation papers to be submitted before it can begin its tasks.
“I am reluctant to disturb the other agencies involved in the investigation by asking them to speed up their probes because I do not have the power to do so,” he said.
“You must understand the division of power, it did not happen overnight.”
KUALA LUMPUR — Attorney-General (AG) Tommy Thomas said he is considering action against certain people in the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) who are “throwing a spanner in the works” by allegedly leaking information or sabotaging the agency.
During a session with participants at the International Malaysia Law Conference at The Royale Chulan Kuala Lumpur yesterday, Thomas said some still loyal to their previous political masters were attempting to hinder institutional reforms in the agency.
“I can confirm it is a general problem facing the entire administration, and not just the AGC, as many ministers I have spoken to have brought up the same issue,” he said.
“The problem persists as a consequence of one-party rule for six decades.”
He also warned that no one, including those from the civil service, will be spared should they be found to have leaked sensitive information.
“Some charges should be made for such actions,” he said.
Thomas was referring to media reports that Malaysia had appointed a Singapore law firm to recover billions of ringgit linked to troubled state firm 1Malaysia Development Bhd kept in Singapore under the names of 53 people, including fugitive financier Low Taek Jho.
The July 18 reports said Thomas had approved the appointment of Singapore firm Tan Rajah & Cheah to act for the Malaysian government.
Thomas pointed out that those who know him are aware of his obsession with confidentiality up to the point that his own law partners and legal peers were not aware of his dealings.
“It is something I have been telling the AGC for two months but it seems it has not worked at all. However, the problem remains as the lack of evidence becomes an obstacle for me,” he said.
Meanwhile, Thomas, in his speech at the opening of the conference, urged the Malaysian Bar to speed up submission of its draft Bill for a new law to regulate the statutory body representing lawyers in Peninsular Malaysia.
He said he had invited the Bar Council office bearers to present its draft Bill to replace the Legal Profession Act 1976 during a recent meeting.
“If the combined talents of some 18,000 private practitioners cannot draft in quick time a new Act for their own profession, what hope is there for law-making by others in the coming years?
“As for the president of the Malaysian Bar, I am still waiting for a draft new Bill to govern your profession and you have a free hand in drafting it,” he said, referring to Bar president George Varughese.