‘Prosperous, modern, equitable’

Datuk Seri Najib Razak used these three words to describe what he envisages for the country by 2050. The prime minister said while the government sometimes makes unpopular decisions, it always does so to keep the nation thriving and on track to achieve this vision.

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Favourite filming locations around the world

When it comes to the most popular filming locations in the business, there’s one city that gets more screen time over others. If you guessed “the concrete jungle where dreams are made” as described so succinctly by Jay Z, you guessed correctly.

After combing through 20 years’ worth of data on the IMDb database, insurance comparison website GoCompare came up with lists of the most popular filming locations around the world.

With 3,630 films and TV shows shot along iconic destinations like Fifth Avenue and Central Park, Manhattan tops the category of “area” followed by Hollywood, California (3,262), and Brooklyn (2,608 times).

The city that’s most romanticised on the big and little screens? That distinction also goes to Manhattan which, according to IMDb, has served as the setting for the greatest number of romance films or TV series. Think rom-com classics like Serendipity, You’ve Got Mail and the cult TV series that made Manhattan the show’s fifth character, Sex and the City.

Other genres that are popular in Manhattan include drama, action, biography, documentary, fantasy, musical and mystery.

With 231 movies under its belt, Central Park is the top filming location overall, with supporting roles in Hollywood blockbusters like The Devil’s Advocate, Superman Returns, Spider-Man 3 and John Wick.

Given the breadth of stories that come out of New York, it’s not surprising that the list of top 10 filming locations is dominated by the neighbourhoods and boroughs of the city: After Central Park, the list is occupied by Greenwich Village, Astoria, Williamsburg, Coney Island, Times Square and Harlem.

With the 90th edition of the Oscars coming up March 4, here are some of the most popular filming locations catalogued on IMDb around the world. ― AFP-Relaxnews

Luxury cars seized in fraud probe

MUMBAI — An Indian financial crime-fighting agency said yesterday it has seized a Rolls Royce Ghost, a Porsche Panamera and some half a dozen more luxury vehicles belonging to billionaire jeweller Nirav Modi and his firms, in a probe into an alleged US$1.8 billion (RM7.06 billion) fraud against state-run Punjab National Bank.

Modi, his companies, and other firms with links to his uncle Mehul Choksi, are at the heart of the alleged fraud that involved illegally issued letters of undertaking from the second-largest Indian state-run lender that were used to get loans from overseas branches of mostly Indian banks.

In what has been dubbed the biggest fraud in India’s banking history, police have so far arrested a dozen people — six from the bank and six more from Modi and Choksi’s companies — as they continue the probe.

A lawyer for Modi has denied his client was involved in any fraud. Choksi has not commented but his firm, Gitanjali Gems, has also denied involvement in the alleged fraud.

Modi has not publicly commented on the case. However, in a letter to PNB, a copy of which was seen by Reuters, he had said his companies owed the bank less than 50 billion rupees (RM3.04 billion). — Reuters

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Sweet tradition

A vendor in George Town, Penang, lays out sugarcane stalks ahead of ‘pai thnee kong’ (prayers to the Jade Emperor) tonight to welcome the Hokkien new year tomorrow. Legend has it the Hokkien people in the Ming Dynasty hid in cane fields from marauders during one Lunar New Year, giving the plant a cultural and historical significance to Hokkien folk. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

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PM envisions thriving, advanced and just nation

KUALA LUMPUR — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak described yesterday a vision of prosperity, modernity and equitability in Malaysia come 2050.

He said this at a forum where he was asked to use just three words to represent his image of the country in three decades’ time.

The forum was organised to discuss the effects of Budget 2018 on Malaysian households.

Moving on to the Malaysian Children’s Trust Fund 2050 (ADAM50) that he announced when tabling the federal spending plan last October, Najib said it was to spur more Malaysians to start saving for their children’s future.

“We want to encourage a mindset of save for the future, many don’t anticipate our children’s needs once they are ready for higher education, so when we start with the ADAM50 savings, we can slowly contribute according to our means” he said.

Najib said he also hoped the scheme would encourage the country’s birth rate to rise.

“Of course, we hope this will encourage our birth rate not to go too low, once we become a mature economy, the birth rate will drop and it is already dropping in Malaysia,” he said.

“Those of child bearing age, continue to give birth because we need that size of population in Malaysia.”

Najib, who is also finance minister, also rejected claims that the country was broke.

Touting the development that the country continues to enjoy, he said none of this would be possible if the government was bankrupt as alleged.

He said that the country’s economy was in good hands, pointing out that his administration has taken bold moves to reduce the chronic overspending that had plagued previous governments.

“During the Asian Financial Crisis, the country’s reserves dropped to US$20 billion (RM78.37 billion) yet we weren’t bankrupt, now our reserves are US$124 billion (RM485.89 billion),” he said at a forum on the effects of the 2018 budget on the economy and Malaysian households.

“If we are a bankrupt country, we won’t see development happening, wherever we go, we see cranes that work, we don’t see projects abandoned, we see things moving.”

The 1997 crisis took place during Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s administration.

Najib went on to say that the various transformation initiatives he implemented upon taking office in 2009 were beginning to bear fruit.

Among these were the 2.26 million jobs created, he said when adding that that the government has raised Malaysians’ wages on average.

“Average income has gone up, if people complain about the cost of living, inflation is about 3.5 per cent while the average income has gone up by five to six per cent,” he said.

“By right people should not be complaining if based on rational thinking.”

Najib added that the government was listening to the peopl, saying that Budget 2018 was about addressing the needs of the people.

Najib: Unpopular decisions needed for greater good

KUALA LUMPUR — The government must sometimes make unpopular decisions in order to look after the greater good of the country and its people, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said.

Citing the Goods and Services Tax (GST) as an example, Najib acknowledged its introduction had not gone down well with some sections of the public, but the move was essential to preserve the country’s economic well-being.

“It’s not easy to be prime minister, people always look at the nice part, the anguish you face with the kind of tough decisions you have to make knowing it is the right one is hard,” he said at the Budget 2018 forum on the economy at the UKM Medical
Centre yesterday.

Putrajaya introduced GST in 2015 as part of fiscal reforms to wean the country from its dependence on petroleum income.

The move proved fortuitous as the price of oil, which previously provided the bulk of federal revenue, plunged later in the year and reduced state oil firm Petronas’ contributions to the government.

While GST was blamed for causing a shock to domestic consumption, global ratings firms and economists continued to back its implementation for widening Malaysia’s tax base.

Najib moved on to an equally disliked topic — tolled roads and highways — but gave the subject a decidedly popular twist

He said tolled roads were not good for Malaysians and should be removed where possible.

In a veiled swipe at the Mahathir administration that introduced Malaysia to the concept of tolled highways, the prime minister said he would seek to undo these where possible.

When tabling Budget 2018, Najib announced the removal of toll at the Batu Tiga, Sungai Rasau, Bukit Kayu Hitam and Eastern Dispersal Link routes.

“Wherever I can I will abolish toll, it causes heartache and traffic jams.”

Aside from toll, Najib also said he would remove “legacy problems” plaguing the country.

“I will unravel whatever I think is not of interest to the people of Malaysia,” said Najib.

Among these were the Independent Power Producer (IPP) agreements, which he said were “sweetheart deals” introduced by previous administrations.

However, Najib pledged government would continue to ensure the survival of the country’s first national car maker, Proton.

Proton’s fortunes have dwindled significantly in its three decades of existence, going from holding the lion’s share of new vehicle sales to just 13 per cent of the market currently.

“Whatever we have to rescue, we will rescue,” he said, adding the national car manufacturer was too big to fail.

Pandikar fails in bid to stop suit

KUALA LUMPUR — The High Court dismissed yesterday Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia’s bid to strike out pro-moderation advocate Mohamed Tawfik Ismail’s lawsuit against the Dewan Rakyat Speaker for allowing a motion to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act.

Tawfik’s lawyer, Rosli Dahlan, said Justice Datuk Kamaludin Md Said took the position that Pandikar’s actions may be reviewed by the courts for legality and constitutionality.

Calling it a good decision, Rosli pointed out another court on Monday had rejected a challenge of Pandikar’s decisions on Parliament’s internal proceedings.

He said in his client’s case, the dispute was over the constitutionality of PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s motion proposing to increase Shariah sentencing limits 10-fold.

Tawfik asserted such a proposal required the consent of the Conference of Malay Rulers, which he claimed Hadi did not obtain prior to submitting his motion.

The son of the late Tun Dr Ismail Abdul Rahman further claimed this meant Pandikar’s decision to allow Hadi’s motion was a violation of parliamentary procedures.

“Article 38 of the Federal Constitution says matters of this nature (Islamic matters) must be referred to the Council of Rulers,” said Rosli.

In his lawsuit against Pandikar and Parliament Secretary Datuk Roosme Hamzah filed on March 31 last year, Tawfik claimed, among others, that Pandikar had erred by allowing Hadi to submit his motion to raise Shariah sentencing limits before these were presented for the approval of the
Malay Rulers.

Tawfik insisted Hadi’s bill would change “national policy”, and must first be referred to the Conference of Rulers for consultation and consent as required by the Federal Constitution.

Pandikar and Roosme responded on Oct 31 by filing an application to dismiss Tawfik’s suit.

Hadi’s Bill seeks to increase the Shariah courts’ sentencing limits from the current three years’ jail, RM5,000 fine and six lashes, to a new maximum of 30 years’ jail, RM100,000 fine and 100 lashes.

Tawfik and other critics of the bill insist its passage would violate the Federal Constitution.

In a separate case on Monday, another High Court judge dismissed Petaling Jaya Selatan MP Hee Loy Sian’s lawsuit against Pandikar over the latter’s “unlawful” rejection of questions by the PKR lawmaker last year.

Nod for inquest on Penang teen’s death

PETALING JAYA — The Attorney-General’s Chambers has approved a public inquest into the death of M. Vasanthapiriya, Penang police chief Commissioner Datuk A. Thaiveegan said yesterday.

He said they are waiting for an official date for the inquest to begin, adding that police investigations were complete.

“It will be an open hearing where people will hear the testimonies of witnesses to the case.

“For those who have additional information on the matter, I urge them to inform the police,’’ Thaiveegan told a press conference at the Nibong Tebal district police headquarters.

A recording of the press conference was made available to Malay Mail.

He added the inquest would call more than 30 witnesses.

Fourteen-year-old Vasanthapiriya hanged herself in her room on Jan 24 after she was allegedly accused of stealing a teacher’s mobile phone. She left a suicide note claiming she was innocent.

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Firm raided over ‘confusing’ book content, court told

PETALING JAYA — Mohd Ezra Mohd Zaid’s publishing company, ZI Publications Sdn Bhd, was raided over the publication of a book with “confusing” content that was allegedly un-Islamic, the Shariah court heard yesterday.

Sulastri Ishak, a Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) officer from 2009 to late 2012, was explaining the chain of events that led to the 2012 raid and seizure of books from ZI Publications office in Selangor.

She added a Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) officer had marked the book titled Allah, Love & Liberty as confusing in a censorship report.

“The report is related to the contents of the book written by Irshad Manji that had elements contrary to faith and Islamic law,” she told the court here.

Yesterday was the start of Mohd Ezra’s trial, and Sulastri was the first prosecution witness.

The son of former minister Datuk Zaid Ibrahim was charged under Section 16(1)(a) of the Shariah Criminal Offences (Selangor) Enactment 1995 as the director and main shareholder of ZI Publications, and is liable to a maximum RM3,000 fine, two years’ jail, or both upon conviction.

Sulastri said she had lodged a complaint with the Jais enforcement division after reading the Jakim report.

“Among the contents suspected of being dubious is the word ‘Allah’ that the writer claims refers to an Arabic word for God where the writer meant that God is love and liberty to be shared by everyone,” she said.

Under cross-examination by Mohd Ezra’s lawyer Zulkifli Che Yong, Sulastri again confirmed she had only relied on the Jakim report to say the book was contrary to Islamic teachings.

Kamal Arifin Kamaruddin, a Jais officer of 15 years and the second prosecution witness, said he was instructed by his superior on May 28, 2012 to obtain a search warrant from the Shariah courts.

He added the raid was carried out the next morning by 13 Jais officers, including him.

He later told prosecuting officer Fairus Jaafar that Mohd Ezra gave “full cooperation” and “permission” for Jais officers to search the office.

The judge decided to start the trial yesterday even as Ezra awaits a decision from the civil courts on Feb 28 on his lawsuit challenging his Shariah prosecution.

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Monster in their midst

KUALA LUMPUR — Nearly nine in 10 minors raped in the last two years were attacked by people they know, police data revealed.

While the common fear is of attack by strangers, most of the rapists were boyfriends, close acquaintances, and even family members.

The fact, in turn, presents the police with a two-fold problem that hampers investigations and successful prosecutions.

Bukit Aman Sexual, Women, and Child Investigations (D11) Division assistant director Supt Siti Kamsiah Hassan said when victims are attacked by people they know, they tend to hesitate in coming forward immediately — or at all.

For investigators, delays can make all the difference between an airtight case and one that is mere allegation.

Immediate reports allow investigators a chance to collect crucial medical evidence to build a case against the attacker. Even a day’s delay can result in much of this being lost permanently.

“They (the children) have probably showered and cleaned themselves, making it harder to obtain forensic evidence,” Siti Kamsiah told Malay Mail in a recent interview.

“The delay poses a challenge to police when trying to obtain clues from the supposed crime scene.”

The passage of time also makes it harder for victims to recall the incident in detail. Sometimes years may go by before the attacks are reported.

“[The victims] have to remember the case facts, and slight inconsistencies can cause the case to be thrown out, especially if the defence counsel probes further.

“When we go to court we want to make sure there is sufficient evidence but sometimes there are flaws or the victim does not recall the complete incident,” Siti Kamsiah said.

Familiarity with minors sometimes give rapists sway over their victims, who may view their attackers as having authority over them.

They may also be conflicted by existing emotional bonds, especially in cases where their rapists are family members such as fathers, brothers or uncles.

“This in turn causes the victims to not have the heart to report the abuse against their close friends or family members,” she said.

With the D11 dealing with sexual crimes against minors, Siti Kamsiah said occasionally the victims were simply too young to provide reliable or usable testimony against their attackers.

Often, they do not realise they have been sexually abused. Even when they do, they do not know how to respond.

“They are sometimes too young, aged three or four years old, and are unable to differentiate between affection and abuse,” she said.

“The victims would have been assaulted from a young age, and it would have taken place more than once over the years. Several years later when they are older, then only would they share their stories with their friends and make the realisation.”

According to data provided by the unit, there were 1,257 rape cases involving minors reported last year, down from 1,350 cases in 2016.

Selangor recorded the highest number of rape cases in both years: 281 in 2016 and 296 last year.

Of the nationwide total, about 11.8 per cent were incest cases.

She said based on investigations, most incest cases involved middle-class families living in suboptimal conditions that force one parent to be away often, or where family members are compelled to share sleeping spaces.

The lack of parental or adult supervision is another major contributor .

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