Auto group lowers sales target

PETALING JAYA — The Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) has revised downward its Total Industry Volume (TIV) target to 585,000 units this year from the 590,000 projected earlier on concerns over the reintroduction of the Sales and Services Tax (SST).

President Datuk Aishah Ahmad said compared with the Goods and Services Tax (GST), the SST would cause a hike in prices of most models, thus hurting demand.

“The SST will be at 10 per cent, whereas the GST is at six per cent. So, most models will see a price increase.

“From June to August, there is a big rush to register vehicles with prices being cheaper. But, from September onwards, I am sure of a bit of slowdown. If prices increase further, sales will be impacted,” she told a press conference on the industry’s performance here yesterday.

For the first six months of this year, the TIV of new motor vehicles rose 1.8 per cent to 298,714 units from 284,453 units in the same period of 2017.

The better performance was due to an increase in the passenger vehicles segment by 2.1 per cent or 5,295 units, while the commercial segment registered a small decline of 0.1 or 34 units.

Aishah said the sales volume for June was the highest recorded for the year to date, with TIV jumping 50.1 per cent to 64,502 units compared with 42,983 units in May.

“This huge jump was due to soaring demand for vehicles arising from a reduction in car prices, with the zero-rated GST, as well as attractive Hari Raya promotions and offers by MAA members,” she explained.

Commenting on Proton’s collaboration with an Indonesian partner to produce the Asean car, she said the manufacturer needed to ensure the model produced was accepted by all member countries.

Aishah also strongly believed Malaysia did not need another national car, as the local automotive industry had already developed, compared to when Proton was introduced. — Bernama

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Reds land Alisson

LONDON — Liverpoool have signed Roma goalkeeper Alisson Bcker for a world-record fee of €75 million (RM354 million), and is expected to have his medical on Saturday, reports The Guardian.

Chelsea were ready to move for Alisson should Thibaut Courtois depart for Real Madrid but Liverpool acted swiftly to secure their No 1 goalkeeper target to replace the error-prone Loris Karius.

Liverpool and Roma agreed the final details of the transfer yesterday with the fee, which includes €5 million (RM26 million) in add-ons, to be paid over two years.

The deal would eclipse the €53 million (RM250 million) Juventus paid to Parma for Gianluigi Buffon in 2001.

Courtois — into the final year of his contract — could also leave on a free transfer at the end of the season.

Alisson is said to have spoken to Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp on Tuesday and had his heart set on a move to the Champions League finalists.

Karius was at fault for two of Real’s goals in their 3-1 Champions League final defeat in May.

Klopp defended his fellow German in the wake of his calamitous display then, claiming he was suffering from concussion after a clash with Real skipper Sergio Ramos.

Karius, however, started pre-season poorly and Klopp has decided to act.

Alisson is Liverpool’s fourth summer signing after the arrivals of Naby Keita from RB Leipzig (RM279 million), Fabinho from Monaco (RM212 million) and Xherdan Shaqiri from Stoke (RM71 million). — Agencies

THAILAND-ACCIDENT-CAVE

joyful outing

Young footballers and their coach Ekkapol Chantawong (left) pay tribute during a press conference in Chiang Rai, Thailand, in their first public appearance since they were rescued from a flooded cave. The Wild Boars team members got lost after entering the cave complex on June 23 June, prompting a nine-day high-profile search operation and an eight-day rescue mission that was regarded as one of the toughest in the world. — Picture by Reuters

> See Page 13

child marriage to be stopped

The move to end underage matrimony is in motion, Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa confirmed. The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department says talks will be held with Shariah judges soon to tighten existing provisions on marriages. No deadline has been set but several parliamentarians from across the political divide are supporting the move.

> See Page 3

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Signed, sealed, delivered

Signed, sealed, delivered

CHINESE Premier Li Keqiang looks at a letter from Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad delivered by Council of Eminent Person chairman Tun Daim Zainuddin during a meeting at the Zhongnanhai Leadership Compound in Beijing yesterday. Daim also met with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi earlier.
— Picture by Reuters

Umno’s offensive on SST continues

KUALA LUMPUR — Tan Sri Annuar Musa has rejected Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng’s use of lower tax collections projected under the Sales and Services Tax (SST) to indicate it is better than the consumption tax, saying it will only encourage tax evasion.

The Umno secretary-general and his party have honed in on the government’s plan to repeal the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and replace it with the SST, saying the move will be regressive to the economy and harmful to consumers.

“You tax more on rakyat now but you use lesser collection AS PROOF that you are taxing less now!! (The) rakyat are
not stupid.

“YOU GOT LESS COZ U OPT FOR SYSTEM WHERE TRADERS CAN EASILY CHEAT AND EVADE TAX…you are PRO TAX EVADERS N RICH TRADERS and burden the POOR!!” he wrote on Twitter yesterday.

On Tuesday, former Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak also warned that the move to re-introduce the SST in September will be a “double whammy” for the public, after reiterating claims the zero-rating of the GST has not resulted in any significant price reductions.

The opposition party maintains that prices will surge once the sales tax is implemented, with businesses passing on the tax burden directly to consumers.

Umno has taken a leaf out of Pakatan Harapan’s playbook from before the general election and is using the tax regime swap to attack the new ruling coalition.

The crux of their criticism is that the GST repeal would remove the mandatory tax reporting structure that reduced firms’ ability to under-report tax obligations, all without tangibly lowering prices.

They have also used a conflation of the 10 per cent sales tax and six per cent tax on services to suggest that the SST, which is the same system that the GST superseded in 2015, will be more burdensome than the consumption tax.

Najib slammed over claims of ignorance on RM31b LRT3 bill

KUALA LUMPUR — Damansara MP Tony Pua criticised former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak for claiming ignorance when disputing the government’s estimated cost for the 37km Light Rail Transit 3 (LRT3).

The special officer to Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng also accused Najib, the previous holder of the portfolio, of incompetence for saying he did not know that the project would blow its budget as currently alleged.

In a statement yesterday, Pua picked apart Najib’s denial that LRT3 would cost RM31.65 billion, as reported in an interview with the Malaysiakini news portal.

Among others, he said it was untenable for Najib to claim not to know that RM9 billion budget the latter previously announced for the project only covered basic construction costs and not any form of acquisition.

He also highlighted that project operator Prasarana already awarded RM15.2 billion worth of work packages in March, which must be approved by a Finance Ministry committee personally chaired by Najib.

“Hence, you were obviously terrible with your job since you now claim that ‘no contracts worth RM15 billion were signed’,” Pua, who is also DAP national publicity secretary, said.

He also challenged Najib’s insistence that the additional RM22 billion allocation sought by Prasanara has not been approved, saying this did not change the fact that this was the amount Prasarana believed it required to complete the job.

“Datuk Seri Najib Razak should ask himself how he was so incompetent, ignorant, clueless and irresponsible as to be completely not aware of how the cost of the LRT3 project has gone out of control,” Pua said.

Lim previously revealed the RM31 billion figure by disclosing Prasarana’s request for an additional RM22 billion in government guarantees above the RM10 billion it secured in 2015.

Lim subsequently announced that the Pakatan Harapan government has been able to slash 47 per cent from the initial cost to bring this to RM16.63 billion by adjusting project parameters.

Najib responded in the interview on Tuesday by arguing that the second request for the RM22 billion government backing has not been approved.

He also insisted that there had not been RM15 billion worth of contracts signed.

Yesterday, Pua said the PH government’s estimates were that high because it intended to be fully transparent in such matters.

“Unlike the previous administration, the Pakatan Harapan administration has no intention to hide the true cost of the project.

“In this case, the overall total cost of the project, has been renegotiated down to RM16.63 billion and it includes the WPCs, land acquisition, project management, consultancy fees, operational and overhead costs, as well as interest during construction,” said Pua.

Stop defending man who wed 11-year-old girl, lawyer tells DPM

KUALA LUMPUR — Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail should stop playing down the controversy surrounding the Kelantanese man who took a Thai girl the same age as his daughter as his bride, lawyer Latheefa Koya said yesterday.

The member of Lawyers for Liberty, who is also in PKR, the same party as Dr Wan Azizah, criticised her president’s recent plea for the public “not to lynch (the man) on social media”, saying the call was akin to defending the “culprit”.

Latheefa then questioned Dr Wan Azizah, who is women, family and community development minister, on concrete actions to deal with the abhorrent marriage to a minor.

“Firstly, it is impossible to understand what the DPM means by ‘alleged incident.’ The culprit himself has admitted to the marriage, and been fined for it,” Latheefa said in a statement.

“Worse, he has also publicly admitted to lusting after the child victim since she was seven years old!

“It appears to be another attempt by the DPM to downplay this outrageous case,” she added.

Latheefa also took issue with Dr Wan Azizah’s recent statement calling for the “family’s privacy” to be protected, and compared it to her experience when her husband was a prisoner.

The lawyer said it was absurd to be talking about privacy when a serious sexual crime has been perpetrated upon a child.

“Her call to the public not to lynch the culprit on social media is incomprehensible, given that the crime is admitted by the perpetrator himself,” she said.

“Why defend this self-confessed pervert by claiming that the concerned public are ‘lynching’ him?”

Latheefa asked if Dr Wan Azizah was trying to stifle public opinion on the matter, and insisted that the public backlash against the 41-year-old man was justified.

She also asked Dr Wan Azizah the need for an investigation when the concept of child marriage is legally and morally wrong.

“Is this an attempt to stifle public discussion of the matter? The public is entitled to criticise the actions of the culprit and call for an end to child marriages in Malaysia,” she said.

“Further, it is baffling that Wan Azizah still claims that multiple agencies are investigating the matter. The facts are clear, and the perpetrator has confessed.

“What is the necessity for an interminable and ponderous investigation in this case?”

Dr Wan Azizah has been heavily criticised for the way she handled the controversy.

The deputy prime minister had previously said that the issue is legally “complicated,” and that the authorities are powerless to act until there is a law banning child marriage in place.

She then called on the public to remain calm and give the family of the child bride “privacy”.

This prompted fierce criticism from child rights groups and human rights lawyers, who saw her as being too soft on the issue.

Dr Wan Azizah had insisted she is strongly against child marriage.

Don’t abuse religion, says Nancy

KUALA LUMPUR — Two government and opposition MPs supported minister Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa’s proposal to review laws that allow child marriage.

Batang Sadong MP Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said for years, Malaysia has seen such cases and Muslims should not be abusing religion to allow child marriages.

“The Quran has been used as a reference by parties involved. We do not want opportunists to abuse religion as a reason for such marriages to be allowed. Hence, stricter rules and procedures are needed to tackle this matter,” the Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu lawmaker said.

Nancy urged Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail in her capacity as women, family and community development minister to bring reforms on child marriages.

Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil said he also fully supported Mujahid’s proposal, adding that the minimum marriageable age should be increased to 18.

“Eighteen is a good age, a good number. For me, 18 is the age, legally speaking, that you can be tried as an adult, die for your country, join the police, drive a car, start work. There are so many things that you can do at 18. I think we should keep marriages at the minimum age of 18.

“(Kids should) get through school first. I am in support of his proposal,” the PKR MP said.

However, Pengerang MP Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said reminded Mujahid that any amendment to Muslim marriage laws must first obtain consensus from state governments.

“It’s a bit hard for me to comment on whether I support it or not as I need to take a look at the amendments he wants to propose because he needs to refer to the state governments as Islamic marriage is under Islamic law. That’s under the purview of the state government.

“This means, there must be endorsement and consent from state governments. For non-Muslims, they (the Pakatan Harapan federal government) can bring it here and debate it,” said the former de facto law minister.

Her Umno colleague, Lenggong MP Datuk Shamsul Anuar Nasarah, said the amendments must follow Islamic religious laws on marriage in order to have his support and he was interested in taking a look at the amendments that the government will propose.

“We need to look at Islamic religious law first before we make amendments to Islamic law. If it goes against our current law and Islamic religious law, I will oppose it. If there are weaknesses in the law, we can find ways to rectify this,” said Shamsul Anuar.

Primary Industries Deputy Minister Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin said the law must be made very clear so it will not be politicised.

“We need to wait and see the amendments that the minister in Prime Minister’s Department will make. And for the benefit of all, the law must be made even clearer so it can be used as a guideline by all Muslims.

“This is critical because we don’t want this to become a polemic issue. The law must have the intention to provide a clear stance on this issue. As long as the law isn’t clear, we will continue to face a lot of problems,” said the PKR deputy minister.

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Govt working to ban child marriages

KUALA LUMPUR — Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Mujahid Yusof Rawa has confirmed that the move to end child marriages has been set in motion.

The minister in charge of Islamic affairs said a paper to tighten Shariah laws against child marriages has been prepared and talks will be held with Shariah judges soon.

“We have a paper ready as far as the Shariah bit is concerned. That’s all I can say for now,” he told Malay Mail.

The Parit Buntar MP added that his department is working with Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail’s office on the issue that gained currency following public outcry over a 41-year-old Kelantanese man who recently took an 11-year-old Thai girl as his third wife.

Dr Wan Azizah is also the minister of women, family and community development.

Mujahid did not give a time frame on how soon the child marriage ban will take effect.

Instead, he said the government is looking at a long-term solution and will need to engage all stakeholders, both in Islamic and civil law, and children’s rights advocates to reach a consensus.

He said his department has notified the relevant groups and begun discussions on the matter, and is confident they will all be on the same page to act in the children’s best interest.

“It is about getting the technicalities right and dealing with the public perception on both sides,” Mujahid said.

The long-term nature of the government’s goal means that child marriages might continue for now, but Mujahid said his department will meet Shariah judges to look into tightening existing provisions to make it harder for minors to marry.

“Among the SOPs are tightening conditions that permit such marriages to further protect the children,” he said.

In Malaysia, the legal age of marriage for non-Muslims is 18 for both genders under civil law.

However, a girl aged 16 can be legally married if the chief minister or menteri besar or in the case of the Federal Territories, its minister, authorises it by granting a licence. Non-Muslims below 16 cannot get married.

But Shariah law does not have a minimum age for marriage. Muslim boys below 18 and girls below 16 can get married provided they get the consent of a Shariah judge.

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