Category Archives: Politics

PM Muhyiddin chairs second meeting of Economic Action Council

PUTRAJAYA, March 23 — Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin today chaired the second weekly meeting of the Economic Action Council (EAC) which discussed in detail the current financial position of the country.

He said the discussions touched on the drastic drop in world oil prices and the COVID-19 pandemic which have had a severe impact on the country’s economic growth and current financial position.

“I am aware that one of the main issues in the minds of the majority of the people, particularly from the low-income group, is how to carry on in this time of economic uncertainty,” he told a post-meeting press conference that was carried live on television networks and the social media.

Muhyiddin said the government realises that in the current crisis, many have lost their source of income, including small traders who have had to wind up; taxi and Grab drivers who hardly get passengers and daily-paid workers who have had to go without their salaries.

Even many employers have suffered losses because they have had to close their enterprises and businesses temporarily, he said.

The prime minister said the EAC, at its meeting today, decided on several major initiatives which it believes can help ease a little of the people’s burden during these trying times.

Muhyiddin said these initiatives are part of a more comprehensive economic stimulus package and aid for the people that he will announce soon.

The initiatives decided upon at today’s EAC meeting are:

  • The withdrawal of savings from Account 2 by 12 million Employees Provident Fund members aged 55 and below, amounting to RM40 billion, beginning April 1.
  • An additional allocation of RM500 million to the Health Ministry for efforts to fight COVID-19 and RM100 million to appoint 2,000 new staff, especially nurses, on contract.
  • Distribution of a RM130-million allocation to all states to help the state governments handle the COVID-19 crisis.
  • Postponement of the repayment of PTPTN loans involving collections up to RM750 million.

Muhyiddin said that apart from these initiatives, the government is also looking at additional measures to help the people face these trying times.

He said the Finance Ministry is studying comprehensive measures that will take into account the interests of every community group in the country.

“The government will give attention to everyone, whether they are small traders, taxi drivers, farmers, fishermen, livestock breeders, factory workers, private-sector employees or civil servants. InsyaAllah (God willing), I will announce a more comprehensive Economic Stimulus Package and People’s Aid on March 30, 2020,” he said.

Muhyiddin said all the measures to be announced will take into account efforts to strengthen the country’s financial position in the medium term.

“I hope that with the measures to be taken by the government, you will have a secure future and our country’s economy will remain strong,” he said.

Muhyiddin said that in a crisis such as the one the country faces, the important thing is for everyone to consult one another and work hard to find solutions to every problem.

Source: Prime Minister’s Office of Malaysia

PM Has Audience with Agong

KUALA LUMPUR, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was seen leaving Istana Negara at 12.35 pm today after having an audience with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah.

Muhyiddin was believed to have presented the list of the new Cabinet lineup to His Majesty during the audience, which lasted two hours.

The official car carrying Muhyiddin had entered the Istana Negara through the main gate at 10.47 am.

The Prime Minister’s Office, in a statement earlier, said that after getting the consent of His Majesty, the prime minister is expected to announce the new Cabinet lineup at 5 pm today at the Prime Minister’s Office in Putrajaya.

Muhyiddin, 72, was sworn in as the 8th Prime Minister before Al-Sultan Abdullah at Istana Negara on March 1.

Al-Sultan Abdullah appointed Muhyiddin as the 8th prime minister in accordance with Articles 40(2)(a) and 43(2)(a) of the Federal Constitution.

Source: Office of the Prime Minster Malaysia

PM Muhyiddin announces Cabinet without Deputy Prime Minister

KUALA LUMPUR, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin today announced his cabinet of 31 ministers, and for the first time in Malaysian history, no deputy prime minister was named.

The prime minister instead announced the appointment of four senior ministers, namely Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali as International Trade and Industry Minister; Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob as Defence Minister; Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof as Works Minister; and Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin as Education Minister.

The announcement was made by Muhyiddin in a special press conference at Perdana Putra here today.

Muhyiddin said these ministers will assist him in coordinating matters of the cabinet related to the economic, security, infrastructure development, and education and social sectors.

The prime minister said that the senior ministers would also be able to coordinate inter-ministry issues more effectively.

“I want to form a cabinet that can really give the best service to the people – a cabinet that delivers.

“The senior ministers will assist me to discharge my duty as the prime minister, including chairing cabinet meetings when I am not in the country.

“With these senior ministers, there is no necessity now to appoint a deputy prime minister,” he said.

He said to ensure a cabinet of integrity, all cabinet members announced had been vetted by Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM).

Muhyiddin was also seen to have taken an out-of-the-box approach in appointing his cabinet members by not relying solely on politicians in his administration.

This new element is reflected in the appointment of CIMB Group Chief Executive Officer Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz as Finance Minister and Federal Terri¬tories Mufti Datuk Seri Dr Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri as Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs).

The appointment of a technocrat, Tengku Zafrul, is seen as significant as the important portfolio was normally held by a senior minister from the governing party.

Also noteworthy is the return of PAS into the folds of the Federal Government after 42 years with the appointment of its three representatives into the cabinet.

They are Datuk Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man who was appointed as Minister of the Environment, Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan (Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law)) and Datuk Dr Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali (Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities).

Tuan Ibrahim is PAS deputy president, Takiyuddin its secretary-general while Mohd Khairuddin a member of PAS’ Central Working Committee.

Muhyiddin said to meet the current needs, several ministries were restructured including the Education Ministry with the re-establishment of the Higher Education Ministry and the establishment of a new ministry, the Ministry of National Unity.

Also noteworthy is the establishment of the Ministry of Environment (formerly the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment) as well as a dedicated portfolio to look after the affairs of Sabah and Sarawak.

The Ministry of Higher Education will be led by Datuk Dr Noraini Ahmad while Datuk Halimah Mohamed Sadique was appointed Minister of National Unity and the Sabah and Sarawak Affairs portfolio will be led by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Johnity Ongkili.

Muhyiddin also strengthened his cabinet with the presence of former ministers including Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein who took office as Foreign Minister; Khairy Jamaluddin (Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation); and Zuraida Kamaruddin (Minister of Housing and Local Government).

Other former ministers who also took office in Muhyiddin’s cabinet were Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah (Minister of Communications and Multimedia) and Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob (Minister of Defense)

The others are Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin (Minister of Home Affairs); Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar (Minister of Entrepreneur and Cooperative Development); and Datuk Seri Rina Harun (Minister of Women and Family) and Tan Sri Annuar Musa (Minister of Federal Territories).

MCA President Dr Wee Ka Siong was appointed Minister of Transport while MIC deputy president Datuk Seri M. Saravanan, Minister of Human Resources.

Meanwhile, the new faces appointed to the cabinet are Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba (Minister of Health); Datuk Dr Shamsul Anuar Nasarah (Minister of Energy and Natural Resources); Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad (Minister of Rural Development);

Other new faces are Datuk Dr Noraini Ahmad (Minister of Higher Education); Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi (Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs); Datuk Dr Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali (Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities) and Datuk Halimah Mohamed Sadique (Minister of National Unity).

Muhyiddin said he realised that the people had high hopes for the government to help resolve their problems, thus his cabinet would be focused on delivery.

“I wish to establish a cabinet that can really provide the best service to the people – a cabinet that delivers,” he said.

Source: Office of the Prime Minster Malaysia

DPM Heng Swee Keat at the Singapore Airshow 2020 Opening Ceremony

Your Excellencies,

Distinguished Guests,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am happy to be here today, to welcome you to the 7th edition of the Singapore Airshow, the first of this decade.

Decade Begins on an Uncertain Note

We start the decade on an uncertain note. Global economic growth is projected to be modest. The IMF indicated last month that the economy is showing tentative signs of stabilization, but recovery is likely to be sluggish.

The global order is undergoing significant shifts. Global trade, the rule of law, and multilateralism have all come under pressure. Oil prices have also been volatile, partly as a result of the ongoing geopolitical tensions in the Middle East, adding to cost uncertainty for air travel.

In recent weeks, the novel coronavirus outbreak has created a new source of uncertainty and apprehension. Governments across the world are rushing against time to contain the spread of the virus. This new coronavirus has infected many more people than SARS, although it appears to be much less lethal. But the situation is very fluid, and we do not fully know the nature of the new virus at this point.

Until we overcome the outbreak, we have to brace ourselves for its impact. Globally, air passenger numbers are coming down. Airlines are feeling the immediate impact. Some airlines have been particularly hard hit, and have resorted to substantive cost reduction measures, including putting staff on unpaid leave and even laying off some of their workers. There could be a knock-on impact on the wider aviation sector in terms of aircraft orders and also maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) activities.

The Airshow has also been affected. Exhibitors and delegations are understandably concerned about the outbreak, especially when we raised the risk assessment to Code Orange. The organiser, Experia Events, has been hard at work as the situation evolved, making adjustments to their plans, and putting in additional safeguards for all participants, such as temperature screening for all of us attending tonight’s dinner. But I am glad that most of the exhibitors have rallied together, and continued with this exhibition, including all of you in this room. But we had to trim parts of the Airshow, such as limiting the number of public visitors. Depending on how the situation changes in the coming days, additional measures may be introduced.

The virus outbreak has also cast fresh uncertainties on the near-term prospects for the global economy. Consumer confidence has dampened, and many supply chains have been temporarily disrupted. With the situation still rapidly evolving, it is difficult to gauge the full impact at present. However, if SARS is a reference point to go by, it will be many months before the situation returns to normal.

I am glad that in this period of great uncertainty, countries are working hard and working together to contain this outbreak. China has taken firm and decisive measures to contain the spread of the virus. Singapore and other countries have also stepped up our safeguards. Together, countries are working with the World Health Organisation to contain the contagion. We live in a highly inter-connected world, with integrated global supply chains and good people mobility, which has been accelerated by air travel. As countries step up safeguards, we should all do so based on data and scientific evidence as well as the specific context of each country. This way, we also do our best to sustain the flow of goods and commerce, even as we are united in our objective to protect the well-being of our people. With close cooperation, I am confident that China, Singapore and the rest of the international community can overcome this challenge.

I am similarly confident that the global aviation sector will weather this coronavirus outbreak, much like how you recovered and emerged stronger from September 11, the Global Financial Crisis, SARS and MERS. Hence, even as we focus on dealing with the immediate consequences of the outbreak, we must also set our sights on the long term, for the future of the aviation sector remains bright.

Future of Aviation

The number of air travellers in the world is expected to double in the next 20 years, from 4 billion to 8 billion. Half of all new air travellers will be from the Asia-Pacific region.

The growth potential in Asia-Pacific is strong, as this region is home to the fastest growing middle class population, and Southeast Asia in particular has a youthful population, who are keen to explore and travel the world.

Hence, it is no surprise that the Asia Pacific is projected to become the largest aviation market in the world1, accounting for more than 40% of new aircraft deliveries in the next two decades2.

I am also happy to see Singapore’s aviation sector contributing to the region’s growth. Passenger traffic at Changi airport grew by about 5% per annum over the last decade. During the same period, the total output for the aerospace industry also grew at the same rate, surpassing S$11 billion in 2018, and our companies have made significant investments in anticipation of the growth in regional demand.

To continue growing the global aviation industry, and to take full advantage of its potential, we need to invest in innovation, skills and infrastructure. Let me elaborate on each of these, in Singapore’s context.

Innovation as a key growth driver for the industry

Innovation has opened up many possibilities in the aviation sector. Additive manufacturing, big data, and automation are transforming how aircrafts are built, operated and maintained. For example, just last year, SIA avoided more than 500 minutes worth of flight delays through predictive maintenance.

Innovation has also disrupted business models in ways we would never have imagined. Over the last decade, budget airlines made air travel more affordable and accessible. In the future, the concept of air taxis or urban air mobility can dramatically change how people travel and how we design our cities, just as how the invention of automobiles created the suburbs! Earlier, when I heard Vincent talking about the energy pavilion, I was wondering if I would see aircrafts flying on solar energy in time to come.

Singapore is therefore committed to building a strong ecosystem of academics, businesses and other partners, locally, with the region, and beyond, to promote research, innovation and enterprise, to encourage the cross-pollination of ideas and translation of ideas into action. Especially in addressing issues common to the global aviation industry, such as reducing the environmental impact of aviation and improving travel efficiency.

I am encouraged by the growing collaborations between international industry players and our public sector and research institutes, such as the corporate lab between Rolls-Royce, and NTU, one of our universities, and the Aviation Innovation Research Lab between the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and Thales.

In the spirit of collaboration, at this Airshow, I hope you can: find new inspiration, identify new areas of partnerships, and, most importantly, strike new deals!

Skilled talent to support industry transformation and growth

To support the many new areas of innovation, we must have a skilled work force. Industry partners have a strong role to play. They must work closely with schools and institutions of higher learning to ensure that the curriculum is up-to-date, and the skills imparted are relevant.

Here in Singapore, our education institutions have also worked closely with the aviation sector to develop courses, including work-study programmes, such as the SkillsFuture Work-Study diploma in Aircraft Engine Maintenance that was developed by our Institute of Technical Education in partnership with engine MRO companies. Applied pathways to university, such as the Aircraft Systems Engineering degree, developed by the Singapore Institute of Technology in partnership with the SIA Engineering Company.

The close involvement of industry in education also applies to capability building. For example, our National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster and the Association of Aerospace Industries (Singapore) partnered our government agencies to develop new additive manufacturing capabilities for the aerospace industry.

Infrastructure as the foundation to the industry growth

Lastly, we need sustained investment in infrastructure to support a widening global air transport network, and an increasing volume of air travel. If innovation is the engine of an aircraft, and a skilled workforce are the pilots; infrastructure is the fuselage � the body of the aircraft: it is the structure that makes flight possible.

Singapore has made significant investments over the past decade. For example, we have developed and are expanding the Seletar Aerospace Park. Last year, we expanded Terminal 1 and opened Jewel Changi Airport. This was the culmination of years of planning and Jewel is now an international icon.

This decade will be a new chapter for Changi Airport. Terminal 5 will be the centerpiece. When completed in the early 2030s, Terminal 5 will allow us to handle 50 million more passengers a year. This will be an increase of more than 50% compared to our current capacity. More importantly, we will design Terminal 5 to deliver an even better Changi Experience for all travellers.

As a major air transport node, the additional capacity provided by Terminal 5 will enable Singapore to contribute to increased connectivity in the region and beyond.

The demand for infrastructure and connectivity will continue to grow in Asia. Therefore, as a major financial and connectivity node in the Asia Pacific, Singapore’s Infrastructure Asia office can contribute to regional connectivity and integration. By connecting the demand and supply side for infrastructure projects and in ensuring that these projects are structurally robust, financially sound, and environmentally sustainable.

Conclusion

The future of aviation is bustling, dynamic and filled with opportunities. And this industry has been resilient to setbacks and surprises that have come your way. We must make adjustments to our business plans and step-up our safeguards in response to the coronavirus outbreak. At the same time, we must continue to invest in innovation, skills and infrastructure, to harness the opportunities and realise the growth potential of this sector.

Let me end off by thanking the aerial display teams that will be performing for us over the next few days. I am glad that the US and China have answered our invitation to perform at this Airshow and have remained committed, despite the current coronavirus situation.

The Ba Yi Aerobatics team from the People’s Liberation Army Air Force have specially flown in for the first time. This also marks 30 years of diplomatic ties between China and Singapore. Such was their commitment to come, that they took special precautions several weeks before and during their time here, to ensure that they are not affected by the viral outbreak.

We also have the F-22 Raptors from the United States Air Force, and the F-35B Joint Strike Fighters from the United States Marine Corps. For the first time ever, the US will be flying the F-22 and F-35B over our air space.

The US and Chinese teams will be joined by our RSAF Aerial Display Team, whose aerial display will comprise the F-15SG and the AH-64D Apache helicopters. These performances will be a delight to look forward to during the Airshow.

Once again, a big thank you to all exhibitors, participants, and the aerial display teams. Your strong contributions have made this Singapore Airshow possible and also to all visitors for supporting the event.

With that, I declare the Singapore Airshow 2020 open. I wish all of you a pleasant evening. Thank you.

Source: Prime Minister’s Office Singapore

MOE’s policies, direction will be in line with agenda of Shared Prosperity Vision – PM

PUTRAJAYA, The Ministry of Education (MOE) as the leader in educating and producing the country’s human capital, will adjust its policies and direction in line with the agenda of the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030, said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Dr Mahathir, who is also acting Education Minister, said for 2020, the primary focus of MOE will be towards ‘Realizing Shared Prosperity Through Education’.

According to Dr Mahathir, one of the seven strategic thrusts in the Shared Prosperity Vision launched by the government was the human capital transformation strategy.

This transformation should focus on providing a more productive, effective, skilled, technological and high-value energy resources, including in the new economic industry, he said.

Dr Mahathir said this at a mandate and aspiration-sharing programme with the staff of the Education Ministry here today.

Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir suggested the formulation of a new Islamic Education curriculum that emphasised inculcation of Islamic values.

We are fond of saying that Islam is not only a religion but also a way of life. We need to know what is the Islamic way of living, for example, is it a Muslim way of life for us to fight and kill? he said.

He said the MOE had come up with the Civic Education Mapping Details, which encompassed Exemplar Modules for curriculum, School Assembly Manual and Noble Value Practice, as well as the Civic Education Practice Manual.

At the higher education level, he said the moulding of noble values was being emphasised through the Service Learning Malaysia � University For Society or SULAM, a learning approach that provides students with a learning experience through community problem-solving.

Source: Prime Minister’s Office of Malaysia

AUKU to be replaced with better, more comprehensive law

PUTRAJAYA, The Ministry of Education (MOE) is intensifying effort to repeal the University and University Colleges Act (AUKU) 1971 and replace it with better and more comprehensive law, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said.

Dr Mahathir, who is also acting Education Minister, said the effort was in line with the Pakatan Harapan government’s 50th promise in its manifesto to restore the authority and independence of public universities and institutes of higher learning.

I hope the new law that will replace the AUKU will focus on improving the quality and excellence of the universities so as to create institutes of higher learning that are aware and capable of responding to the ever-changing environment, he said at his mandate and aspiration-sharing programme with the MOE staff here today.

Dr Mahathir also expressed hope that the National Higher Education Council (NHEC) could be reactivated to strengthen governance system and harmonise the new higher education legislation.

Meanwhile, Dr Mahathir said the synergy of the research and innovation ecosystem would be improved this year in line with the RM400 million allocation set aside for research purposes to enable the universities to carry out high-impact research.

He said the focus should be given on forging and enhancing collaboration with institutions listed in the World’s Top 100 by QS World University Rankings.

In promoting demand-driven research, the Prime Minister said the implementation of Public-Private Research Network 2.0 (PPRN 2.0) and Prototype Research Grant Scheme (PRGS 2.0) this year would give emphasis on solving the problems faced by the small and medium industry.

At the same time, Dr Mahathir said the Education Ministry had also developed the ‘Way Forward for Private Higher Education Institutions (PHEIs): Education as An Industry (2020-2025)’ document which will be launched soon to serve as a source of reference for private higher education institutions in determining their direction by 2025.

Source: Prime Minister’s Office of Malaysia

Decision on PPSMI will be based on cabinet’s majority opinion – Dr Mahathir

PUTRAJAYA, The government is still mulling the implementation of the Teaching and Learning of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI) and decision will be made based on the majority opinion of the Cabinet members, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced.

Clarifying his own opinion on the matter, Dr Mahathir, who is also acting Minister of Education said if one really loves his race, ensuring the success of the entire race should be his priority rather than only being able to speak well in his own language.

I am a Malay. I love the Malay race and the Malay language. But we need to give consideration to the development of the Malay race.

Love the (Malay) race, (but) give priority to success and ability to compete rather than only being able to speak well in the Malay language, he said at his mandate and aspiration-sharing programme with the MOE staff here today.

Elaborating further at a press conference later, the Prime Minister said a Cabinet Committee has been set up to look into the matter following protest from the public.

I found reports saying that the government has already decided to implement the teaching and learning of Science and Mathematics in English. There is no decision. I was just explaining the matter to the officers at the Education Ministry.

Somehow it leaked and was reported as if the government had already made its decision on that. We are still considering, he said.

While admitting that he was the one responsible of introducing the PPSMI before, Dr Mahathir said he still felt that the country would be left behind if it did not learn the two subjects in English.

He said this is because science is not static and is constantly evolving as various new terms are coined in from time to time.

In the past, we made everything by hand, then we moved to mass production, then mechanical, automation and robot, and now we are in the digital era. It does not stop, the science that we learned in the past cannot be put into use today, he said.

Asked if the government would get feedback from the public, he said everyone involved, including parents, teachers and students, could express their views to the government.

However, he said the government would not hold any engagement session with the stakeholders as it would be time-consuming.

Dr Mahathir said, at present, teachers are given the option to teach Science and Mathematics either in Malay or English, but the method does not produce good results.

As such, he said the method to teach English needs to be improved by using videos which are prepared by English language experts, shown to the students and coached by class teachers.

That way, the expertise of those who prepared the videos can really benefit the students, he added.

Source: Prime Minister’s Office of Malaysia