KUALA LUMPUR,– The number of “kereta potong” or cars welded from cannibalised parts detected by Puspakom has shot up, said Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy, Tuesday. He said Puspakom found 1,502 of such cars up to August this year and 1,407 last year compared to 131 in 2003, 153 in 2002, 124 in 2001 and 82 in 2000. “The number is rising because finance companies have made it mandatory for old cars to be inspected before financing is given,” he said in reply to Raime Unggi (BN-Tenom) in the Dewan Rakyat. Apart from the inspection requirement, the ministry was studying several proposals including by non-governmental organisations to protect car buyers from being tricked into purchasing “kereta potong”, he said. Chan also said Puspakom was willing to review the location of its inspection facilities and consider providing mobile services in remote areas in Sabah. Presently in Sabah, Puspakom has permanent inspection facilities in Kota Kinabalu, Labuan, Beaufort, Kota Marudu, Keningau, Tawau, Sandakan and Lahad Datu and provides scheduled services in remote areas like Ranau, Kudat and Semporna.
THE non-mention of the goods and services tax (GST) in Budget 2006 is a clear indication that the Government is all set for its implementation come January 1 2007. Ernst & Young Tax Consultants Sdn Bhd executive director Kenneth Lim said with no cut in income tax in the Budget, businesses must gear themselves towards D-Day for GST. Lim said the standardisation of sales tax rates for liquor and tobacco to 5 per cent in Budget 2006 suggests that GST is leaning towards a rate of 5 per cent. “To ensure a successful transition to the GST environment, it is crucial for businesses to start assessing the impact of GST on them and to take the necessary steps to manage the implementation smoothly and be GST-compliant,” said Ernst & Young Tax Consultants executive director Bhupinder Singh. He said transitional issues should be looked at by all parties, such as technical, pricing, systems, documentation, reporting and education. Bhupinder said it takes three to nine months for a company to be GST-compliant, with cost running to six to seven figures. Ernst & Young’s Annual Tax Survey 2005 showed that awareness of GST among the business community is still low despite the announcements made a year ago in Budget 2005. Many companies are still unprepared, with 60 per cent of the respondents saying they had not organised resources towards implementing the changes for GST-compliance. The survey was directed at 1,000 companies that are mainly Ernst & Young’s clients as well as public-listed companies. Ernst & Young director Yeo Eng Ping said the results highlighted the need for the business community to re-assess its approach and attitude towards the management of GST introduction for their organisation. Ernst & Young said the successful introduction of GST would ultimately depend on education at all levels of the community, including consumers. The survey also found that 88 per cent of the respondents thought that the maiden rate of GST should be 5 per cent, if not less. Executive director Azhar Lee said he is confident that the GST rate in 2007 will not equal the inflation rate at that time. Consistent with the experiences in Australia and Singapore, where there was a one-time spike in prices immediately following the introduction of GST, the survey found that the majority of the respondents indicated that they would raise the price of their goods and services.
KUALA LUMPUR: No police bail will be granted to car thieves. They will be detained for 60 days under the Emergency Ordinance. Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Musa Hassan said that detaining the “field workers” would enable police to go after the syndicate leaders. “Currently it is the thieves working for the syndicates who get arrested while the ‘director’ or syndicate boss gets off. “I have directed my officers to detain the thieves under the Emergency Ordinance so that we will have more time to go after the syndicate leaders,” he told The Star. Under the Emergency Ordinance, police can detain a person for up to 60 days without having to apply for a court order for a remand. The police can hold the suspect at a detention centre for a further two years upon approval by the Internal Security Minister. Musa said the police have to resort to invoking the Emergency Ordinance because currently a person can only be held for 14 days with a court order, and is also entitled to bail. He said most car thieves released on bail returned to stealing cars even while their cases were pending. “We need to put an end to these syndicates’ activities,” he said. The Star highlighted last week that stealing cars is a lucrative business, and an average of eight vehicles are stolen every hour in Malaysia. Most of the stolen vehicles are either smuggled across the border or cannibalised for their parts.
PUTRAJAYA – Dianggarkan lebih 50,000 pemandu kenderaan di seluruh negara tidak mempunyai lesen memandu dan membahayakan pengguna jalan raya yang lain kerana kebole-han mereka mengendalikan kenderaan masih belum diiktiraf dan teruji. Dalam tempoh Januari sehingga Julai tahun ini sahaja sebanyak 40,117 pemandu kenderaan dikesan tidak mempunyai lesen memandu dalam operasi yang dijalankan oleh Jabatan Pengangkutan Jalan (JPJ). Pengarah Penguat Kuasa JPJ, Solah Mat Hassan berkata, jumlah pemandu yang dikesan memandu tanpa lesen kian meningkat dari setahun ke setahun. “Tahap `keberanian’ mereka ini amat membimbangkan kerana ia bukan sahaja menyalahi undang-undang malah secara tidak langsung boleh menjejaskan keselamatan pengguna jalan raya lain kerana kebolehan mereka memandu belum diuji JPJ. “Kebanyakan mereka memberi alasan tidak perlu mengambil lesen dan belajar memandu melalui sekolah memandu kerana telah mahir memandu atau menunggang motosikal dengan belajar melalui kawan-kawan,” katanya kepada Utusan Malaysia di sini. Beliau memberitahu, sepanjang tahun lalu sahaja sebanyak 77,800 pemandu ditahan tanpa lesen manakala pada tahun 2003 ialah 65,661. Katanya, pemandu tanpa lesen paling banyak dikesan di Johor dalam tempoh Januari hingga Julai tahun ini yang membabitkan 8,645 orang. Manakala, Selangor mencatat negeri kedua tertinggi dengan melibatkan 7,057 orang dalam tempoh yang sama. “Ini semua jumlah yang berjaya kita kesan, yang kita tidak berjaya kesan mungkin lebih daripada jumlah itu,” katanya. Beliau memberitahu, kesalahan berkenaan bukan sahaja dilakukan oleh remaja bawah umur malah membabitkan golongan dewasa dengan melibatkan pelbagai jenis kenderaan khususnya motosikal dan kereta. Kata Solah, antara alasan lain yang sering diberi oleh mereka yang ditahan ti-dak memiliki lesen ialah tiada masa untuk belajar dan menduduki peperiksaan. “Prosedur mendapat lesen tidak mengambil masa yang panjang dan begitu juga dari segi kos belajar dan menduduki peperiksaan yang tidak menelan belanja yang tinggi,” katanya. Orang ramai yang didapati bersalah memandu tanpa memiliki lesen yang sah boleh dikenakan tindakan mengikut Seksyen 26, Akta Pengangkutan Jalan (87) yang membawa kepada hukuman denda sehingga RM1,000 atau penjara maksimum selama setahun atau kedua-duanya jika sabit kesalahan. Pada masa yang sama, pemandu yang tidak berlesen akan turut didakwa atas satu lagi kesalahan iaitu memandu kenderaan yang tidak dilindungi insurans iaitu mengikut Seksyen 90 akta yang sama. Kata beliau, pemilik kenderaan juga boleh disaman kerana membiarkan kenderaan dibawa oleh pemandu tidak berlesen. Selain itu, Solah turut menggesa para pemandu supaya lebih prihatin terhadap tarikh luput lesen masing-masing. “Jumlah pemandu yang disaman kerana memandu dengan menggu-nakan lesen yang luput tarikh turut tinggi,” katanya. Dalam tempoh Januari sehingga Julai tahun ini, sebanyak 14,486 pemandu dikesan memandu dengan lesen yang tamat tempoh. Sepanjang tahun lalu, katanya, sebanyak 31,086 pemandu di saman atas kesalahan yang sama manakala pada tahun 2003 ialah 26,082.
PUTRAJAYA — The Cabinet Wednesday agreed to the proposal to raise the minimum age for motorcyclist from 16 to 17, and to immediately suspend a driver’s licence upon committing seven serious traffic offences. Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said the two decisions would be implemented after several amendments were made to the Road Transport Act. “The proposed amendments would be tabled in the next Parliament sitting if it could not be tabled at the current session,” he told reporters at his office, here. He said both decisions were in line with government efforts to reduce the rate of road accidents in the country. Chan said among the seven traffic offences considered serious were driving in a reckless or dangerous manner to the extent of causing death, and beating the traffic light. The five other offences which could lead to the 14-day suspension of a driver’s licence are driving in a reckless and dangerous manner; driving in a careless and inconsiderate manner; driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs; driving or in control of a motor vehicle while the alcohol level in the blood system exceeded the permitted level; and driving in excess of 40km/h above the speed limit. Chan said the Road Transport Department and the Transport Ministry’s legal advisor would study thoroughly the necessary amendments to the relevant laws. Replying to questions on the raising of the age limit for motorcyclists, he said the Cabinet felt that a 16-year-old was still too young to handle a motorcycle. “We feel that 17 is appropriate,” he added. On the suspension of the licence for those committing serious traffic offences, Chan said it involved both the motorists and motorcyclists. Chan said that based on the legal action to be faced by the would be traffic offender, they could generally get back their respective licences after the expiry of their 14-day suspension. He said that under the proposal, after the suspension of their respective licences, the traffic offenders would be given a special slip to enable them to take their vehicle to their immediate destination within a 24-hour period. “The slip will be invalid after the 24-hour period. If these offenders were found to be driving thereafter, they would be considered to be driving without a licence and could face other legal action,” he added.
PENANG — Three of the four brake pads on the Proton Wira that crashed into a police road block on the Jelutong Expressway on Sunday killing seven people were worn out. The car was also a “kereta potong” (car welded from cannibalised parts), Penang police chief Datuk Christopher Wan Soo Kee said Wednesday. He said the condition of the car was confirmed by an inspection by Computerised Vehicle Inspection Centre Sdn Bhd (Puspakom). “According to Puspakom, three brake pads were worn out and this might have caused the driver to lose control of the car after he braked suddenly while driving at high speed,” he told reporters after checking the scene of the accident. He was accompanied by officials of Penang Bridge Sdn Bhd (PBSB) and Public Works Department (PWD) which are responsible for the maintenance of different sections of the expressway. Also present were officials of the Malaysian Highway Authority, Penang Island Municipal Council and Plus Expressway Bhd. In the accident, three policemen manning a road block, three passengers in the car including the driver and a motorcyclist were killed. Wan said 19 people had so far died in accidents along the 4.7km road since it opened two years ago. He urged PBSB and PWD to upgrade safety measures on the road, including painting traverse bars to reduce speeding, installing more speed limit signs, improving lighting and mounting more closed-circuit TV cameras to monitor traffic.
KUALA LUMPUR: It’s the end of the road for a well-oiled syndicate which stole popular motorcycles to sell them well below the market value. The syndicate had long targeted Yamaha RXZ, EGO, Suzuki RG and Honda EX5 motorcycles which were parked in unattended areas. After stealing the machines, the syndicate changed the chassis numbers and sold them at a third of the actual value. Dang Wangi OCPD Asst Comm Kamal Pasha Jamal said 16 members of the syndicate were arrested by police recently, which led to the recovery of 24 stolen motorcycles. He said police got the first break when they stopped a motorcyclist at 3.30am on Monday. He was found to be using a false registration number. On further checks, the motorcycle was found to have been reported stolen in front of the Kuala Lumpur Hospital two days earlier. Nine other suspects were nabbed in Ampang and Gombak last Saturday by a police team led by Asst Supt Mohd Ishak Yaakob. Eleven motorcycles with false registration numbers were seized from them. Also recovered were motorcycle components and engine tampering gadgets. Police then rounded up six other suspects who had nine stolen motorcycles. “They led us to the parking area of a flat in Keramat Hujung and another building in Wangsa Maju where we found three more motorcycles. “Only five of the machines have had their original chassis numbers ascertained, while the rest will be sent for analysis,” said ACP Kamal Pasha. He said the 16 suspects aged between 19 and 25 were being remanded pending further investigations. ACP Kamal Pasha said police were looking for Wan Faizal Wan Osman, 22, (last known address is 15-4-2, Teratai Mewah Apartment, Jalan Langkawi, Setapak) to help in investigations.
KUALA LUMPUR, — Road tax on vehicles will be reduced between 25 and 80 per cent effective this Monday, in an immediate measure to cushion the impact of the oil price hike, the government announced Wednesday. In a statement here, the Prime Minister’s Office said the road tax on school buses would be reduced to RM2 from RM10 a year while owners of private vehicles of below 1,000 cc need to only pay RM30 a year. For private vehicles of between 1,000 cc and 1,600 cc, the road tax has been cut by 50 per cent and a similar reduction will be enjoyed by owners of motorcycles of between 151 cc and 250 cc. At present, no tax is imposed on motorcycles below 150 cc. To reduce the cost of doing business, the road tax on all types of commercial vehicles will be reduced by 25 per cent. The government said it had no plans to raise the price of petrol, diesel and cooking gas up till the end of the year and decided that toll rates on all highways would not be raised this year and next year. “The government hopes the road tax reduction and the decision to maintain the present toll rates would benefit not only operators but also consumers,” the statement said. The Prime Minister’s Office also said it would increase aid to the elderly and the needy through the Welfare Services Department so that they would enjoy some comfort. Aid to children who are orphans, poor or the less unfortunate, particularly those whose family have lost their source of income, sick, handicapped or are suffering from certain diseases, will also be raised. The statement said further measures to ease the burden of the rakyat would be announced in the 2006 Budget to be presented on Sept 30. The government also warned traders from taking advantage of the situation by increasing the prices of goods. More enforcement officers would be deployed and a more integrated action among relevant agencies would be taken to prevent unscrupulous traders from profiteering. It said that although the oil price in Malaysia was not as high as that on the international market given that it is subsidised by the government, the prices of goods in the country had risen. The Consumer Price Index (CPI), which measures inflation, rose 2.8 per cent during the six months of this year, and three per cent in July, and the increase might have reduced the purchasing power of the consumers, it noted. The government also warned that it would withdraw the licence of any trader found to be repeatedly increasing the prices of goods sold. The PM’s office also said the government was aware of the impact of the world’s oil price which had soared to US$71 (RM267) a barrel on Aug 30 on the people. So far, the government provides subsidy on petroleum and sales tax exemption on petroleum products. “Without the subsidy and tax exemption, the price of petrol, diesel and cooking gas would be twice the current price,” the statement said. In 2003, the government had to bear the cost of subsidy and incur a loss in revenue totalling RM6.6 billion and the amount had increased to RM11.9 billion last year. This year, the amount is estimated to have increased to RM16 billion, that is RM1.4 billion more from the estimates made during the oil price hike on July 31. The Prime Minister’s Office also said that although the government had increased the oil price aimed at reducing the cost of subsidy, the latter had actually been increasing as a result of the rising oil price in the world market.
PETALING JAYA: Factory, express and tourist bus operators in the country are in a fix following the decision by a major insurance company to stop covering these vehicles, considering it no longer a profitable business. Pan-Malaysian Bus Operators Association (PMBOA) president Datuk Mohamad Ashfar Ali said Kurnia Insurance (M) Bhd had decided to stop insuring the buses, as they were considered a high-risk business due to the high number of claims. Ashfar said Kurnia was the biggest insurer of buses, with a market share of 40%, or about 5,000 of the 12,000 registered factory, express and tourist buses in the country. “Now that Kurnia has decided it would no longer handle bus insurance coverage, we will be at the mercy of the other insurers in the market. “We are not only looking at the possibility of a rise of up to 200% in insurance premiums, not including loading. These companies could also be very selective and refuse to cover our members. “And we cannot renew our road tax without insurance coverage,” he added. Ashfar said that those running buses about eight years old, were already paying a 100% loading for third party insurance coverage. This is on top of the average of about RM1,500 a year for the insurance premium. For those operating newer buses, which are likely to be still under financing, comprehensive coverage, which now averages RM14,000, is compulsory. “Our members are already being hit by higher operating costs following increases in the price of diesel and spare parts. We don’t even have the recourse of raising fares, as these are fixed by the Government,” he added. Ashfar said the operators were informed by Kurnia in May that the company would stop issuing, renewing or extending policies for factory, express and tourist buses. “I then wrote a complaint letter to Bank Negara in July. However, Bank Negara said it was up to the individual insurance companies to assess their own risks against any group of customers,” he added. Kurnia Insurance chief executive officer Kong Shu Yin said the company had been using the premium from their more profitable private passenger car business to subsidise losses from the factory, express and tourist buses. “It has come to a point where the company can no longer continue to do so. We informed all our agents early last month of our decision,” he added. Kong said every insurance company had its own set of underwriting guidelines that were formulated to attract certain classes of business while discouraging others. An officer with the underwriting department of Pacific & Orient Insurance, another major player in bus insurance market, said now that Kurnia had pulled out, it meant more people would be coming to it for insurance. “We will not turn them away. However, we will have to look at each bus operator on a case-by-case basis. “Based on their previous claim records, we will know if it is worthwhile for the company to take them in. This group of vehicles are known to have a high claim ratio.”
BANK Negara announced that the Minister of Finance has approved the introduction of a deposit insurance scheme for Malaysia whereby deposits will be insured up to the prescribed limit of RM60,000 per depositor, per member institution. There will also be a separate coverage of RM60,000 per depositor, per member institution for Islamic deposits, accounts held under joint ownership and trust accounts, sole proprietorship and partnerships. “This will provide coverage to 95% of depositors in full,” said Bank Negara in a statement. The CEO of PIDM (Perbadanan Insurans Deposit Malaysia), the company that will manage the deposit insurance scheme, is Jean Pierre Sabourin. Sabourin is currently chairman of the executive council and president of the International Association of Deposit Insurers, a position he has held since 2002. The deposit scheme will strengthen consumer protection and incentives from financial institutions to adopt sound financial and business practices.
PIAM or Persatuan Insuran Am Malaysia celebrated Insurance Day 2005 by donating wheelchairs to the Malaysia Association for the Terminally Ill. PIAM chairman Hashim Harun handed a total of ten wheelchairs, comprising five lightweight detachable and five multi-functioned wheelchairs to the association in Kuala Lumpur recently. The wheelchairs will then be donated to the social welfare departments of identified government hospitals for distribution to poor patients who need wheelchairs. “The general insurance industry has always celebrated the Insurance Day which falls on July 27 by doing something good for the community. This year, we wanted to extend a lending hand to aid needy patients with mobility problems,” said Hashim at the handover ceremony. By donating the wheelchairs PIAM hopes to ease the patients’ suffering. “For this reason, we’ve selected the lightweight wheelchairs that are easier for the patients and their carers to handle and at the same time, improve the patients’ comfort, safety and mobility,” he said. The association is a non-profit organisation that donates medical equipment, prostheses and wheelchairs to government hospitals in aid of poor patients. The association also sought to expand its support to the local hospitals by conducting free seminars and provide counselling on the care of patients with chronic illnesses like diabetes and hypertension.
There was little joy when a businesswoman was reunited with her stolen BMW today. She was so traumatised by having her car forcibly taken from her on a busy street six months ago that she vowed to stay clear of luxury makes. So for the past few months, she has been driving a Proton Perdana. She had long given up hopes of getting her car back, but today she and 11 other owners of cars that were stolen and recovered in Singapore found closure. The owners and representatives of their insurance companies were at the Asia Pacific Auction Centre here to reclaim their BMWs, Mercedes Benzes, Toyotas and Hondas. The businesswoman was grateful that Malaysian police and their counterparts across the Causeway had managed to recover her BMW, but said she had decided to sell the car. Other owners were also relieved to get their cars back, but apprehensive at the same time as they had already filed claims with insurance agents. An advertising executive, who did not wish to be identified, said his car was stolen from his home in April this year. “There is minor damage to the car, but the engine seems intact. If the cost of repairs is not too much I’ll bear it, otherwise I’ll just leave it to the insurance company to handle,” he said. Another six stolen vehicles, including Toyota Unsers, Toyota Landcruisers and a Modenas motorcycle, recovered in Singapore were returned to their owners in Johor today. The motorcycle had been used in a snatch-theft in Singapore. The culprit, who had tried to speed away, crashed and was arrested. Singapore authorities recovered the cars and motorcycle, believed to have been stolen between late 2004 and early 2005, over the last six months. The recovery rate was 47.7 per cent.
The enforcement of the Profit and General Expenses Charges (PGE) has resulted in price hikes among certain makes of cars. The new regime of prices under the PGE was introduced on July 23 after the Government decided to come down hard on importers who under-declare their vehicles. Checks showed that cars such as the KIA Picanto, KIA Sportage, Chevrolet Aveo and Chevrolet Optra have shown a marked price increase. The KIA Picanto now sells for RM54,409, the KIA Sportage RM133,351, the Chevrolet Aveo RM72,388 and the Optra 1.6 RM91,411.50. The new charges also affect Mahindra Scorpio, Hyundai, Chery and Fiat. Datuk Abdul Hamid Ibrahim, director of Torino Motor Industries (M) Sdn Bhd, which imports Fiat cars, said his firm sold 100 units last year but was unlikely to hit that target this year. He said his firm was holding discussions with the Customs Department to appeal against the new tax regime. The PGE is set at 30 per cent for cars below 1600cc and 38 per cent for cars above 1600cc.
Two Porsche Cayenne sports utility vehicles reported stolen in the Klang Valley in February have been traced to a showroom in Jakarta. But, just as private investigators were about to stake a claim on behalf of the owners, the vehicles, worth about RM1.5 million, disappeared. This case confirms the belief that car theft syndicates are stealing luxury cars, smuggling them into Singapore, and then shipping the vehicles for sale in third countries. In the first case, a senior manager with a luxury car dealer was stopped by several men as he was driving out of his home in Damansara Jaya. They took control of the vehicle, blindfolded him and took him on a harrowing trip lasting several hours, before dumping him in a rubber estate in Sungai Buloh. Several days later, another Porsche Cayenne was reported stolen from a company in Petaling Jaya. The owner of the car, a company director, lodged a report at the Petaling Jaya police station on Feb 28. Police believe the car thieves targeted the specific Porsche models because there was a strong demand for them from international buyers. The stolen cars were believed to have been smuggled in containers to Singapore before being transferred to Indonesia. In the past, car theft syndicates have exported Malaysian-registered vehicles to Cambodia, New Zealand, South Africa, Indonesia and Vietnam and passed them off to buyers as re-conditioned vehicles.
Hundreds of Thais gathered today to bid for cars left behind by Malaysians as payment for gambling losses, gifts for mistresses or just abandoned for reasons unknown. In some cases, the cars were stolen from Malaysians who never pursued their cases with Thai authorities. The vehicles eventually ended up in the Customs Department yard, sitting there sometimes for years. But today and tomorrow, a total of 324 vehicles worth a total of RM15 million will be up for grabs for a fraction of what the original owners paid for them. The deals being offered at the Sena Narong army camp are, however, only for Thai citizens or permanent residents. The vehicles have been spruced up to get the best prices possible, which will go into the Thai Government’s coffers. Available for a song are a 1998 Toyota Harrier which is going for RM69,000, a 2003 Kia Carnival (RM54,000), and a 2000 Perodua Kancil (RM16,500). Other bargains are a 1997 Mercedez Benz S320 Automatic (RM94,000), a 1994 BMW 325 IA (RM29,800) and a 1996 Jaguar XJ6 (RM69,000). Regional Customs director Rakop Srisupaatt said the cars were seized last year but were being auctioned after a court ordered them to do so earlier this year. He said Thai law allowed the authorities to auction stolen vehicles if the owner failed to claim it or settle . Rakop said the cars were mostly seized in southern Thailand, especially near the Padang Besar area. They were also seized in Nakon, Sadao, Songkhla, Satun, Tak Bai, Golok, Trang and Betong. He said some were handed over as payment by Malaysians unlucky at the casinos in the border towns of Danok and Sadao. “Some kept mistresses here and gave them the cars as gifts but did not declare the transaction to us,” he said. The most popular model at the auction is the Perodua Kancil, which is not available in Thailand. “Fuel costs more here since our Government cut down on the fuel subsidy. So buyers prefer more economical cars. “We expect to see fierce competition for small cars like the Kancil,” said Rakop. Prospective buyers generally said they were attracted by the low prices of models. Housewife Sasiwan Phutthaphithak, 43, was seen admiring a Perodua Kancil which she hoped to buy. “You can’t find a good compact car like this here” she said. “My family already has a van. So now I want to buy a car for myself.” Finnish expatriate Jari Nyqvist was eyeing a Mitsubishi pick-up truck with a starting price of RM34,000 for his personal use. “I’ll stop bidding at RM39,000,” he said.
Police arrested six men, including two foreigners, believed to have stolen and disposed of old vehicles as scrap metal, in several raids. Subang Jaya district police chief Assistant Commissioner Muhd Fuad Talib said there had been 36 reports of old cars stolen in the district over the last three months. The suspects are believed to have been involved in these thefts. Three of them, in their 20s and 30s, were arrested last Sunday while stealing a car to be taken to a scrap metal dealer in Bukit Kemuning, Shah Alam. “They used tow trucks to steal the old cars, even vehicles still in use,” he said. The cars are worth between RM600 and RM22,000 each. It is believed the thieves make from RM800 to RM1,000 for each car based on the current market price for steel. Fuad also said the men admitted they had stolen seven vehicles, including a van and a lorry, in Puchong, to be sold at a nearby scrap metal dealer. Police also arrested an Indian national and a Bangladeshi working for the dealer without work permits and valid travel documents. Both men were believed to be involved in disposing of the vehicles as scrap metal. At 11am today, police arrested a scrap metal shop owner on suspicion of involvement with the syndicate. Fuad said police would also refer the case to the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board for the licences of all towing companies involved in criminal activities to be revoked.
KOTA BAHARU — Malaysia lost RM9.3 billion a year due to road accidents alone, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said Monday. This massive loss was calculated taking into account various aspects including the effects of death and loss of limbs to the national economy. He said the ministry had requested for an allocation of RM100 million during the Ninth Malaysia Plan on education and enforcement programmes. The focus of the campaign would be on children, he said. He was speaking to reporters after opening a special seminar and the Second Series of Training for Teachers for the Pioneer Project on Road Safety, here today. Chan said his ministry was drawing up a programme to train road users, especially children, to change their mindset and become more disciplined in road usage. The programme would be carried out by two ministries – the Education and Transport ministries – and the pioneer programme would start in the Pasir Mas and Tumpat districts before extending to other parts of the country. The project would be supervised by the Road Safety Department and would be included in the teaching of Bahasa Melayu and English. So far 316 teachers are involved in the project. “Teachers and students are provided with special kits including guidance book, work book and other equipment,” he said. He said the project would be evaluated in September and if it proved to be successful, the project would be extended to all schools in the country.
The number of cars stolen in the country keeps rising. This year, an average of 26 are reported missing daily, compared with 23 last year. Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohd Bakri Omar said today the fight against car thieves would be given priority. “We will upgrade our logistics, equipment and manpower in addressing this crime and other social ills.” He has directed federal CID director Commissioner Datuk Fauzi Sa’ari to work closely with the Motor Vehicle Theft Reduction Council, a special committee set up by the General Insurance Association of Malaysia. In the first six months of this year, 4,755 cars were stolen, of which 2,244 or 47.2 per cent were recovered. For the whole of last year, 8,624 cars were reported missing. A total of 4,217 or 48.9 per cent were recovered. Car thefts are costing insurance companies RM1.2 million a day. Bakri said the success rate in solving cases of vehicle theft over the last three years averaged 44 per cent. “For the first six months of this year, 31,210 vehicle theft cases were reported, of which 13,545 cases or 43.4 per cent were solved,” Bakri said at the launch of AmAssurance’s AmRecovery Programme vehicle protection scheme. Last year, vehicle theft accounted for 65,076 cases or 51.7 per cent of all property crimes reported, resulting in losses of RM753.2 million. “Last year, 177 vehicles were reported missing daily, comprising 141 motorcycles, 23 cars and 13 lorries and vans,” Bakri said. He said police crippled 23 car theft syndicates nationwide between January and June, arresting 4,252 suspects and prosecuting 2,329 offenders.
July 21, 2005 20:00 PM KUALA LUMPUR — The ringgit’s RM3.80 peg against the U.S. dollar imposed in Sept 1, 1998 has been scrapped with immediate effect and will operate by a managed float against a basket of currencies, Bank Negara Malaysia announced, here Thursday. The managed float would be “positive to the economy,” the central bank’s governor, Tan Sri Zeti Akhtar Aziz said here. She told this to reporters after she met Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi at the UMNO General Assembly here. “We will allow the currency to adjust to reflect our fundamentals,” she said. BNM, in a statement, said it would monitor the exchange rate against a currency basket to ensure that the exchange rate remained close to its fair value. “Promoting stability of the exchange rate continues to be a primary objective of policy,” the central bank said. Changes in the international and regional financial and economic environment have made it important for Malaysia to have a stable exchange rate against its major trading partners, in particular the regional countries. Consequently, the stability of the ringgit’s exchange rate against the regional currencies would become increasingly important, it said. “Such stability can best be achieved by maintaining the value of the ringgit against a trade weighted index of Malaysia’s major trading partners,” BNM said. The central bank also said that the announcement represented a change in the system by which the value of the ringgit was determined. BNM said “given that the current valuation of the ringgit is consistent with our fundamentals and after taking consideration developments in our trading partner countries, the exchange rate after shifting to this new system is not expected to deviate significantly from the current prevailing level.”
KUALA LUMPUR — Economic stability will be affected if insurance fraud is not controlled, warned James Ong, managing director and chief executive officer of Maphilindo International Sdn Bhd. He said such fraud could result in insurance companies having to bear heavy losses and push up the cost of insurance. “It is a growing problem but not every claim is fraud. About 10 to 15 percent of the claims have fraudulent elements,” Ong told Bernama after presenting a paper entitled “Insurance Fraud in Malaysia: A Growing Menace” at the Malaysian Commercial Fraud and Financial Crimes Conference 2005 here Wednesday. “The regulations of the central bank are to control fraud so that insurance policies are not only a source of profits but also a protection mechanism for consumers,” he said. Another speaker, Bank Negara Malaysia’s deputy director of the insurance supervision department, Zulkepli Saad, said the central bank has established three insurance fraud monitoring mechanisms. The first is e-Fids, an electronic fraud information database system which maintains a database on all fraud and defalcation cases and breaches of code of ethics reported by insurers. Second is the Insurance Claims Verification System (ICVS), a web-based system for checking and enquiries of claims. And third is Application and Claims Information Databases (ACID), which is to detect multiple life insurance policies taken with various life insurance companies. Zulkepli said last year, the number of suspected fraud cases reported in e-Fids was 763 which involved RM24.1 million compared to 437 cases in 2003 which involved RM10.9 million. He said an anti-fraud unit was set up in August last year to coordinate anti-fraud initiatives, monitor fraud data and cases, conduct investigation and research and development, and provide updates and alert management as well as compilations of data and reports. He added that insurers and takaful operators have also proactively undertaken anti-fraud measures such as prevention techniques and campaigns, and training on detection and prevention of fraud. The conference, with the theme of “Combating Fraud: Creating Confidence in Malaysian Business”, was organised by the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (ASLI).
THE proposed Malaysia Deposit Insurance Corporation will take over from the Government the task of providing guarantees for deposits banked into financial institutions. “Depositors will be assured of payment because the corporation is required under the law to make them pay the stipulated amount within the fastest time possible,” said Deputy Finance Minister Tengku Putera Tengku Awang when tabling the Malaysia Deposit Insurance Corporation Bill. This would prevent problems like in the 1980s when 24 troubled co-operatives had to be rescued, he said. “Back then, the repayment to the depositors took between two and five years,” he added. Datuk Zaid Ibrahim (BN – Kota Baru) asked whether the powers given to corporation were similar to that of Danaharta Nasional Bhd. “In the US, there is a similar deposit insurance corporation and due to mismanagement and poor administration, depositors lost their money. We should ensure that this does not happen here.” Zaid also said that the proposed RM60,000 maximum guarantee should be increased as it was not a convincing amount particularly for those with higher savings. Datuk Abd Rahim Bakri (BN – Kudat) said the proposed sum insured was insufficient. Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail (Keadilan – Permatang Pauh) asked whether a “financial tsunami” would hit the country. “If not, why is there a need to set up the corporation to address the loss of deposits when banks fail?” During the winding up, Tengku Putera said at least 80 countries had successfully adopted their own deposit insurance scheme.
KUALA LUMPUR: Local experts, especially those with knowledge on earthquakes and tsunamis, are being roped in to help the Government formulate a disaster management plan. Geoscientists, engineers and seismologists were among those being invited by the authorities to help in the effort, said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz. He added: “We, the Government, do not know what to expect, like when and where the next earthquake or tsunami is going to happen. “Advise us. Tell us what you know and help us formulate an action plan,” he told participants of a seminar and dialogue, The Threat of Earthquakes and Tsunamis – Developing a Strategic Action Plan, here yesterday. “We need our scientists to come up with guidelines on how best to prepare for natural disasters,” he said. He said the Government encouraged a continuous flow of information to keep updated on new technology and methods to monitor such disasters. Seminar organising chairman Prof Dr Ibrahim Komoo, a geologist, said it was unlikely an earthquake with the magnitude of the Dec 26 quake would happen again. “We carried out a three-week study on the impact of the tsunami on the environment and physical structures, as well as the socio-economic impact,” said Dr Ibrahim. “Recommendations have been made to cover all aspects of risk management, vulnerability reduction and how rebuilding can be carried out.”
Drivers are four times more likely to crash when using mobile phones, even if they use hands-free kits, experts say. They reached their estimates by looking at the phone bill records of 456 drivers needing hospital treatment after road crashes in Perth, Australia. In the UK it is illegal to use a hand-held mobile phone while driving. Safety campaigners say the University of Western Australia study in the British Medical Journal shows the rules should apply to hands-free phone use. For each driver, the researchers assessed phone use immediately before a crash and on trips at the same time of day 24 hours, three days, and seven days before the crash for comparison. Mobile phone use in the 10 minutes before a crash was associated with a four-fold increased likelihood of crashing. This was irrespective of whether the driver was using a hand-held or hands-free phone. Similar results were found for the interval up to five minutes before a crash. Author Suzanne McEvoy and colleagues from the University of Western Australia said: “More and more new vehicles are being equipped with hands-free phone technology. “Although this may lead to fewer hand-held phones used while driving in the future, our research indicates that this may not eliminate the risk. “Indeed, if this new technology increases mobile phone use in cars, it could contribute to even more crashes.” A spokesman from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said: “This is exactly what we have said and have known for some time. “We hope that the people who callously think that their phone call is more important than somebody’s life will get the message eventually when they see more and more research like this.” He said the current ban on using hand-held mobiles while driving, which can carry the penalty of a fine and in the future possibly also up to three points on the driver’s licence, should be extended to hands-free phones. However, the study authors said this would be difficult to enforce. They said a possible solution might be to change mobile phones so that they cannot be used when vehicles are in motion, but added that industry was unlikely to embrace this.
The short messaging system (SMS) has proven to be a major hit — a whopping 9.5 billion messages costing RM5 billion were sent by the country’s more than 14 million mobile phone users last year alone. This marked a 57 per cent increase over the pevious year. Statistics from the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission showed that in the first quarter of this year, 3.4 billion SMS were sent, a 78 per cent increase over the 1.9 billion sent during the same period last year. Companies in the SMS industry are no longer small players; among them now are those listed on Mesdaq, including M-Mode Bhd, MTouch Technology Bhd and Macro Kiosk Bhd. The messaging system started as a branch of communication but has since grown into a source of business as mobile technology grew further, including the ability to download ringtones for as low as RM2.
PETALING JAYA An earthquake hit north-west Sumatra Tuesday morning, causing tremors that were felt along the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia. The earthquake did not trigger a tsunami. From Jakarta, AP reports that the earthquake struck at 8.52am local time (0152 GMT), and rocked Indonesia’s Sumatra and Nias islands, shaking buildings and panicking residents jittery from six months of powerful tremblors. There were no reports of damage as a result of the quake, said Budi Waluyu of Indonesia’s geophysical and meteorological agency. In a posting on its website, the US Geological Survey put the preliminary strength of the quake at 6.7 on the Richter scale, and said its epicentre was located 210 kilometres south west of Medan in north Sumatra, close to the island of Nias.
INSURERS should all the more be armed with comprehensive policies which are able to better manage and mitigate catastrophic risks now in view of the recent spate of earthquakes and tsunamis in the region. Munich Re Malaysia chief executive officer Firas El Azem said the public and businesses should at the same time take adequate measures to ensure their interests were protected from similar calamities in the future. He said there had been an increasing rate of seismic activities in South-East Asia, starting with the Dec 26 massive earthquake off Sumatra that triggered tsunamis affecting over 11 countries, including Malaysia, and a series of after-shocks in the months that followed. “The estimated number of people who perished as a result of the disaster in the affected countries was around 300,000. More than one million were made homeless. The overall material losses was in the region of 8 billion euros,” he added. The General Insurance Association of Malaysia, in responding to a query, said the Malaysian general insurance industry’s exposure to the Dec 26 tsunami was estimated at about RM2bil in sum insured. It said in view of the relatively limited impact of the tsunami on Malaysia compared with other regions, the estimated total claims intimated to Malaysian insurers amounted to about RM33mil. According to El Azem, various findings have shown that seismic instability in the region has increased over the years and rising volcanic activities in Indonesia could be a following effect of the earthquakes. He said although Malaysia might not be directly affected by these eruptions, its close proximity to Indonesia meant that the ashes emitted could affect high-tech industries such as semiconductor plants. In view of these hazards, insurers, businesses, and the public should take greater cognisance of the effects and consequences of this looming danger, he added. El Azem said although natural disasters could not be prevented, the social and economic costs could be mitigated by insurers providing policies that were able to manage such risks. “The insurance industry can play a vital role by providing coverage, for example, through financial indemnification for losses resulting from natural catastrophe exposure. The provided coverage can differ from one country to another. “In Malaysia, the basic fire policy currently provides coverage for loss or damage caused by fire, lightning or explosion. “The fire policy can be endorsed to provide separate coverage for natural disasters such as earthquakes and volcanic eruption, as well as flood, which can be bought with additional premiums,” he said. Munich Re Malaysia, the second largest reinsurer in the country, is a branch of Munich Re, the world’s largest reinsurer. Last year, the company posted total earned premium worth about RM120mil. It expects to at least maintain the same figure this year.
The Government will be cracking down from today on the 15,000 employers who recruited nearly 500,000 foreign workers nationwide but failed to obtain medical and compensation insurance for their employees. The Manpower Department may also take the errant employers to court. Some 300 enforcement officers from Labour Offices nationwide will be involved in the operation. “We have given ample notice for employers to get the insurance for their foreign workers,” Manpower Department director-general Datuk Ismail Abdul Rahim told The Malay Mail yesterday. “We are going hard against those who failed to adhere to our reminders.” The department issued notices last month to some 25,000 employers nationwide, warning them of the action. All employers must have insurance coverage for their foreign staff as required under the foreign workers’ compensation scheme in the Employment Act. He said this is to ensure the foreigners’ welfare while working in this country. “We do not want employers to shortchange the workers and neglect their safety. “They may also lose out in compensation should they get involved in work-related accidents,” said Ismail. “Employers who failed to get such coverage for their workers will face legal action,” he said. If convicted, an employer can be fined RM20,000 for each uninsured worker. Ismail said that during the drive to remind the employers, only 400,000 foreign workers were insured. But when the deadline expired yesterday, the department’s records showed that it has 800,000 foreign workers out of an estimated 1.3 million workers in Malaysia insured with 10 insurance companies. “Although the drive has been successful, there are still many workers out there who have yet to be insured,” said Ismail. In early June, The Malay Mail reported that such annual insurance costs RM72 per person and this will have to be borne by the employers.
DON’T be surprised if you are driving a half-car (kereta potong). Another name for it is “cut-and-join car”. In 2004 alone, Puspakom detected 2,800 such cars. Second-hand dealers as well as buyers are facing grave consequences because of this. Car workshops find it easier and more profitable to cut and replace badly damaged car portions rather than repair the damaged sections. The most critical safety compromise made with this operation is the cutting and welding of the chassis. The chassis is the most important structural component of the car. It is the metal skeleton of the car; the backbone that carries the body and the engine. A chassis cut and welded to a chassis from another car would adversely affect the structural alignment and stability of the car. This could cause serious accidents. Only an expert would be able to detect this as it is usually cleverly camouflaged. So how can a person intending to purchase a second-hand car ensure that he does not end up with a half-car? Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) suggests that a buyer take these precautionary steps: • Before signing the deal, send the car for inspection to Puspakom. Stay on till the inspection is completed; • Do not sign a blank transfer form. There have been instances where the completed forms were not submitted to the Road Transport Department by the dealer, leading to a great deal of shock and embarrassment later on; and, • To avoid trouble, submit the transfer form to the RTD personally. There are other questions that the Government has to address: • At the moment, there are no clear regulations on second-hand cars and which department is responsible; • Second-hand car dealers should be regulated; • The activities of car repair shops should be monitored; • Testing by Puspakom should be made mandatory for repossessed and “as is, where is” cars; and, • Puspakom has to ensure that their testing is properly done and their decision is final before the buyer or dealer is notified. Only with the co-operation of buyers, dealers, repairers and the authorities concerned can this problem be curbed.
KOTA BARU: A gang of car thieves selling stolen Proton Wiras and Wajas for between RM1,000 and RM2,000 each has been smashed following the arrest of 20 suspects. Among the 20 arrested in Pasir Mas and here were the head of the ring and buyers of the stolen cars. District police chief Assistant Commissioner Ahmad Lotfi Khalid said 21 stolen cars worth RM670,000 were recovered. The gang, known as Geng Mat Ju, had been in operation since February this year, he said. The suspected ringleader was arrested on June 12 together with three others at a motor workshop in Pasir Mas where three stolen cars were found. ACP Ahmad Lotfi said police believe the syndicate members, aged 16 to 30, were drug addicts, which explained why the cars were disposed of at rock bottom prices. He said the gang would first target the cars at night and steal them the next day.
Police have detained 20 members of a car theft syndicate and recovered 21 stolen vehicles worth RM670,000. District police chief ACP Ahmad Lofti Khalid said the suspects, aged between 18 and 30, were detained in separate raids here and in Pasir Mas under Ops Cobra which began on June 12. Five people were initially arrested and 10 vehicles, including two lorries, seized at a workshop in Pasir Mas. The 33-year-old ringleader was arrested at his house in Pasir Mas on June 17. “The workshop is believed to have been used to tamper with chassis and engine numbers, and change the cars’ appearance,” Ahmad Lofti told a Press conference. The vehicles were later sold to buyers for RM1,500 to RM2,500. Lotfi said the gang began its activities early this year, stealing vehicles here, in Bachok, Pasir Putih and Pasir Mas.
Three friends who began stealing cars eight years ago did not stop even after their arrests, continuing their spree while on bail on 15 charges. The group, headed by an engineering graduate from an American university, travelled frequently to Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia to sell the vehicles. Police believe they had stolen more than 100 cars up till last Saturday when they were arrested in Wangsa Maju, Setapak. A police team stopped them after finding them behaving suspiciously in the housing estate. On searching the men, they found wire cutters, screwdrivers, pliers, spanners, soldering equipment, filing instruments, torchlights and keys. The men, aged between 34 and 41, led police to a house in the area where nine fake pistols, bullets and local and foreign currencies amounting to RM50,000 were seized. Also found were handcuffs, watches, handphones and a computer. City CID chief Senior Assistant Commissioner II Abdul Aziz Bulat said the gang would target a car and disengage its alarm before driving off in it. Gang members acting as jockeys also made duplicate keys used to steal the cars. Police are looking for another member who had rented the house in which the fake pistols were found. “We will also record the statement of a 27-year-old woman, who is the girlfriend of one of the suspects, to obtain details on the group’s activities,” he said. The men have been remanded until Thursday. Meanwhile, Brickfields police believe they have smashed a syndicate targeting luxury cars with the arrest of three men in Sri Hartamas on Wednesday. The next day, police recovered two cars from a condominium in Mont Kiara. The syndicate may be responsible for at least eight car thefts over the last four months. These include the BMW X5 stolen from United Nations Development Programme representative Dr Richard Leete on June 12.
KUALA LUMPUR: Two major car theft syndicates responsible for over 100 stolen cars in the Klang Valley over the last year have been busted with the arrest of six men. One of the gangs, headed by a 39-year-old US-trained engineer, had been targeting luxury cars and is believed to be behind the recent theft of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) diplomat Dr Richard Leete’s BMW X5. Police first apprehended three men at a condominium in Mont Kiara on Thursday, around 9.30pm and recovered two stolen luxury cars – a Mercedes-Benz E-200 Kompressor and a Mercedes Brabus. The group, headed by the engineer, is believed to have stolen at least eight luxury cars in the last three months. City CID chief Senior Asst Comm II Abdul Aziz Bulat said the syndicate targeted only luxury cars such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Toyota Harrier. “We believe these are the same people involved in the robbery of Dr Leete’s BMW X5,” he said. On June 12, a lone gunman held up Dr Leete and his family outside Bangsar Shopping Centre here and drove off in his car bearing a diplomatic number plate. SAC Abdul Aziz said police intelligence showed that stolen cars were “delivered” to willing buyers in Thailand and Batam. On Saturday, police scored another success when they arrested three men in Wangsa Maju who were allegedly behind the theft of over 100 cars in the Klang Valley, including Mitsubishi Storms and Proton Perdanas. Following a raid on their houses, police found cash in various currencies and denominations totalling over RM60,000 as well as nine imitation pistols and several rounds of live bullets. “We have reason to suspect that this group has links with syndicates north and south of the border and are selling the stolen cars for less than RM20,000 in neighbouring countries,” said SAC Abdul Aziz.
KUALA LUMPUR, — Police believed they have crippled two syndicates involved in stealing cars in the Klang Valley with the arrest of six people, including the master-mind of one of the groups, recently. Kuala Lumpur CID Chief SAC II Aziz Bulat said those detained included an engineering graduate from an American university who was believed to be the master-mind of one of the syndicates. He said the syndicates were believed responsible for the theft of more than 100 cars, especially luxury cars, which were then sold in Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand. Police busted the first syndicate last Wednesday with the arrest of three of its members, including the master-mind, at two separate locations. The three, who were between 34 and 41 years old, were believed active since three months ago and responsible for the theft of eight luxury cars, he said. Aziz said following their arrest, police recovered two cars, a Mercedez Benz Compressor E200 and Brabus. He said the second arrest, involving three men, was made last Saturday by a police team from Wangsa Maju. The three, believed members of a syndicate, were involved in stealing more than 100 cars since last year, he added. Following their arrest, police raided a house at Wangsa Maju and found nine imitation pistols, 13 live bullets and cash in various currencies including RM25,000, USD5,000, Singapore Dollar 5,000, a walkie talkie, hand-phone and a handcuff. Police also seized the passports belonging to the three men and another belonging to a girlfriend of one of them.
Malaysian Inbound Tourism Association (Mita) has refuted a statement by Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) that insurance costs for tour coaches have increased by as much as 200 per cent. Its president, Ahmad Kamil Abdullah, said the statement by Matta former president Tunku Datuk Seri Iskandar Tunku Abdullah, highlighted by a local daily (not The Malay Mail) on Saturday, was inaccurate. “The (insurance) charges are not as high as what was reported. In fact, our members are still paying the same amount (RM5,000),” said Ahmad Kamil. In response, Tunku Iskandar said his statement was based on feedback from association members. “We came to know about this problem a month ago from complaints by members. “They are facing difficulties renewing their insurance for their tour buses due to the increase,” he said. He said the association has appealed to the Finance and Tourism Ministries over the issue. In the report, Tunku Iskandar was quoted as saying that tour operators had been unable to find insurance cover at a reasonable cost as it has soared by between 50 to 200 per cent. He had said that a tour coach insurance used to be RM5,000 but it had spiralled to RM7,500 and RM15,000. It was also reported that the rising cost, coupled with increasing diesel price, could cause Malaysia to lose its edge in drawing tourists to the country.
KUALA LUMPUR: Rising road insurance costs for tour coaches – by as much as 200% – coupled with increasing diesel prices may cause Malaysia to lose its edge in drawing tourists to the country. “It is very disturbing to find that tour coach operators have been unable to find insurance cover at a reasonable cost,” said Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (Matta) president Tunku Iskandar Tunku Abdullah. He said costs have soared by 50% to as much as 200%. “A tour coach insurance used to be RM5,000 but it has spiralled to RM7,500 and RM15,000. “This huge jump is caused by the insurance industry, which has lumped tour coaches with express buses. The higher cost is because of the high incidence of accidents involving express buses,” he said at the opening of the Malaysia Travel and Tour conference here yesterday. Tunku Iskandar said Matta has appealed to the Finance and Tourism ministries to persuade the insurance companies to review the charges for tour coaches. On the increase of diesel fuel cost, he hoped the recent difficulties would not recur as higher costs meant tour vehicle and tour operators had to increase their tariffs. “Matta has also been asking the Government to waive the import duties and taxes on tourist vehicles to provide high quality vehicles. In response to his appeal, Tourism Ministry secretary-general Datuk Dr Victor Wee said they were gathering information from the association and would bring it up with Bank Negara’s insurance officials.
KUALA LUMPUR, — A total of 600,000 out of one million foreign workers who have permits and are registered with the Human Resource Ministry have been insured by their employers under the Foreign Workers Compensation Scheme enforced last year. Human Resources Minister, Datuk Dr Fong Chan Onn, Monday said that employers now could be fined a total of RM20,000 for each foreign worker not insured under the scheme. “Under the scheme, each employer must pay insurance premiums between RM72 and RM86 per foreign worker,” he told reporters after opening Lex Pavemaster (M) Sdn Bhd’s management office at the Kepong Industrial Park here. Fong said the insurance protection scheme was important for the welfare of the foreign workers and added that a database on them should also be set up to store information on their backgrounds. Lex Pavemaster, and interior and exterior design company, has been in operation since 2003 and has its factory in Bukit Teratai, Cheras. Fong also said that he supported the move by the Home Affairs Ministry to empower teachers, district officers and penghulus to arrest illegal immigrants, saying it would help government agencies’ in preventing an influx of the
KUALA LUMPUR, — The government paid RM16.5 million in compensation over the past three years to foreign workers who lost their ability to work or died while working in the country, the Dewan Rakyat was told Monday. Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr Fong Chan Onn said RM6.6 million was paid under the Foreign Workers Compensation Scheme in 2002, RM5.5 million in 2003 and RM4.4 million last year. A foreign worker who dies in a worksite mishap receives RM25,000 and RM23,000 for permanent disability, he said when replying to Datuk Mohamad Aziz (BN-Sri Gading) during question time. Dr Fong said the compensation would be disbursed in six months. To a question on how the ministry identified the genuine heir to the dead foreigners, Dr Fong said claimants must furnish proof of their status. He said the proof could be in the form of marriage certificate, birth certificate and cash remittance receipt. Payment would be made through bank draft and sent to the embassy which in turn would remit the money to the heir, he said. “The heirs are required to confirm receiving the payment through the acceptance account witnessed by a Magistrate or a Labour Commissioner and the acknowledgement must be returned to the ministry,” he added.
SHAH ALAM, — The Malaysian automotive industry lost at least RM103 million due to the sale of “kereta potong” (cars assembled from cannibalised parts) in the local market, according to Computerised Vehicles Inspection Centre (Puspakom) chief executive officer Salamat Wahit. He said the amount was calculated from the number of “kereta potong” detected by Puspakom during inspection from January 2004 to March this year. During that period, Puspakom detected 2,572 “kereta potong” out of 233,364 used cars that it inspected, he said. “Most of the buyers of such cars were unaware they were ‘kereta potong’. Puspakom could detect them by means of checking certain welded parts,” he said during a surprise visit to the Puspakom workshop at Padang Jawa here Wednesday. At the workshop, he spotted a “kereta potong” brought there for inspection by a prospective buyer. Salamat was accompanied on the visit by several executives of Southern Finance Berhad who were there to familiarise themselves with the car inspection service. Southern Finance is among 15 finance companies, which signed the Finance Companies Vehicles Inspection Scheme agreement which enables used cars to be sent to Puspakom for pre-loan inspection. Salamat said the automotive industry also lost about RM33 million on cars that could not be sold because of altered engine and chassis numbers. Of the used vehicles inspected between January last year and March this year, 521 were found to have altered engine numbers while 300 had altered chassis numbers. Southern Finance chief executive officer Abdul Karim Md Lassim said the company blacklisted 341 vehicles that were used to apply for loans from June 2004 to May 13 this year. Of the number, 107 were “kereta potong”, 12 had altered engine numbers and 10 had altered chassis numbers, he said. He said the company had sent 34,160 vehicles for inspection prior to approval of loans totaling RM175 million since it joined the Puspakom scheme on June 3, 2004.
PUTRAJAYA, — The Transport Ministry has come out with figures which back up the notion that riding motorcycles can be a rather risky business that can lead to unnecessary deaths. Its Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said that for the first three months of 2005, 77,810 accidents were recorded of which 65.1 per cent and 17.4 per cent involved cars and motorcycles respectively. But the percentage of deaths involving motorcyclists and pillion riders was at a staggering 59.7 per cent while that of motorists was pegged at 19.3 percent. Speaking to reporters at his office here today, he said: “This means that you have to be extremely careful when riding a motorcycle because when an accident happens, you are not protected at all. “If you wear a helmet, only your head is protected, not the other parts of the body. At least with a car, you have the engine, air bags and seat belts (which can help lessen the impact of an accident),” he said. Chan lamented the fact that some people like those living in villages and estates found it hard to put on safety helmets when riding motorcycles. “And those who do don’t use the device properly. When they see the police, they will quickly put it on and remove it when policemen are out of sight,” he said, adding that he was determined to do something about it. “There will be many initiatives that will be carried out to ensure people follow traffic rules. They may initially become angry but we have the duty to save Malaysian road users,” he said. Nevertheless, Chan was glad that the number of deaths on the roads recorded from January to March this year fell to 1,493 compared to 1,543 for the corresponding period last year. He said this was despite the increase in the number of vehicles and new drivers on the road. If the trend continued, he said, the ministry was hopeful that the index of 4.5 deaths for every 10,000 motor vehicle accidents recorded last year could be reduced to four deaths per 10,000 cases this year.
Occupants of nearly 50,000 “half-cut” cars on roads nationwide are courting injury or death in the event of an accident. This is because the “coffins-on-wheels”, 2,000 of which are in the Klang Valley, can split into two on collision. While some owners knowingly dice with danger, others are duped into buying such cars while a few actually ask mechanics for half-cuts due to the high cost of spare parts. What exactly is a half-cut or kereta potong? Half-cuts are made by cutting and attaching sections of two cars of the same model. Puspakom Business Development Communications manager Ramlan Abdul Rahman said this compromised structural integrity and safety of the cabin as the metal split instead of crumpling in an accident. He said this was because a car’s factory-made chassis was made by pressing sheets of metal together which tended to crumple on impact. There are three easy tell-tale signs that indicate a half-cut: • smooth areas between factory welded marks along the car’s side running panels; • rust at any section of the A or C-pillars which are arms connecting the car’s roof to the body; and, • differences in the fonts of the car’s chassis number usually located on the fire/scuttle wall and fonts on other parts of the vehicle like windscreens. Ramlan said insurance companies began recognising the problem of half-cuts when owners attempted to claim compensation for damages sustained in accidents. He said the companies alerted the Road Transport Department to the problem as they wanted protection. “Puspakom will also conduct a thorough check for anyone who wants to know if their car is a half-cut at a nominal fee of RM40.” “In the past, many have bought half-cuts from unscrupulous dealers because they were cheap. Then there are some who make their own half-cuts. “For example, when the repairing of an accident-hit car costs too much, an owner may source for second-hand parts from a kedai potong or chop shop.” In February last year, the Government implemented a new ruling that required all second-hand cars for sale to undergo Puspakom inspections and receive an approval from the Road Transport Department. Photographer Vincent Yong, 24, was the victim of an unscrupulous second-hand dealer selling half-cuts. He bought a 1994 Mazda 323 Astina from the dealer in Jalan Klang Lama in 1998. “I was attracted by its price tag of RM27,000. It was RM2,000 lower than the market price back then. “Soon, the car started giving problems; parts needed to be replaced like crazy and its cornering felt flimsy. “When I attempted to sell off the car last year, the first second-hand dealer I met found the problem and rejected it because of the new ruling. “Subsequently, I took it to six other dealers who also rejected it. In the end, the original seller bought back the car for a paltry RM10,000.”
Kuala Lumpur, 11 May — According to PIAM statistics, Vehicle Theft Claims trends are on the increase with 26,566 thefts registered for the year 2004, representing an increase of 33% over 2003. The claims incurred for 2004 is a staggering RM557Million. Certain vehicle models are being targeted and that include Toyota Harriers, Proton Waja and Daihatsu Delta. In view of the high losses, insurance companies do practice their individual acceptance or renewal terms for certain vehicles, depending on their claims experience. However, installation of security devices is currently not a rule by the insurance industry. However, the Association urges the public to take extra precautions, including installation of anti-theft devices to protect themselves, their family and their vehicles from theft, in light of the high incidence of theft related losses. Currently there are 35 licensed General Insurers in the Malaysia market and the Association believes that there are sufficient options to the general public in servicing their insurance needs. The Association recommends those interested may log-in to the following link to locate the list of insurers: http://www.piam.org.my/listofmembers.html
PETALING JAYA: Insurance companies are free to practise individual acceptance and renewal terms for luxury cars due to the high theft rate, according to the General Insurance Association of Malaysia (PIAM). According to PIAM’s statistics, vehicle theft claims for last year was high at RM557mil, with certain cars being prime targets such as Toyota Harrier, Proton Waja and Daihatsu Delta. In a statement yesterday, the association said these claims recorded an increase of 33% since 2003, adding that the total car thefts recorded last year was 26,566. “In view of the high losses, insurance companies can conduct business on their own terms for certain vehicles, depending on their claims experience. “However, installation of security devices is currently not a rule by the insurance industry,” PIAM said. The association was asked to respond to a news report on a Toyota Harrier owner who claimed that he had been asked to install a RM2,000 anti-theft security system for his car before it could be insured. PIAM also urged the public to take extra precautions, including installation of anti-theft devices to protect themselves, their families and vehicles, in light of the high incidence of theft-related losses. When contacted, a spokesman for American International Assurance (AIA) Malaysia said the company did not force vehicle owners to purchase such anti-theft security system. “AIA is not in the business of selling these systems, but if owners do have such systems installed in their cars, it is an added value,” he said. He also said that usually car dealers would recommend such systems to the owners if they choose to install it in their car, but there was no compulsion on the part of the insurance company. But insurance agent Jude Patrick said that insurance companies which encourage owners to install such systems did so because of the high theft rate of luxury cars. “The companies may not decline insuring the vehicle but will offer an option to the owner,” he said. Another agent who declined to be named said it was a general trend of insurance companies to offer these systems to vehicle owners, especially for luxury cars. He said although there were no clear rules or “black and white” by companies on the issue, the companies would encourage owners to install anti-theft systems. ==end==
9 May 2005, By The Star
PETALING JAYA: From June 1, all drivers of commercial vehicles are required to have a certificate of competency to go on the road. The move is in response to the increasing number of accidents involving heavy vehicles, mainly lorries and stage buses. Malaysia recorded more than 6,000 road fatalities last year. Road Transport Department director-general Datuk Emran Kadir said the Government had decided to make it mandatory for all commercial vehicle drivers to have the certificate before they could be granted a licence. “JPJ will only issue the Public Service Vehicle (PSV) licence and Goods Driving Licence (GDL) to applicants who have passed the competency test,” he said. This means existing drivers will also have to pass the test to get their licences renewed. The Government has ap-pointed Automotive Centre of Excellence Sdn Bhd (ACE) to conduct training and tests for those seeking vocational licen-ces to drive commercial vehicles. All state JPJ offices were informed of the new ruling via a letter dated April 23, this year. Emran said ACE would initially be handling applicants from Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Negri Sembilan. The applicants will undergo their training and tests at the ACE training centre at Bukit Changgang in Kuala Langat. The RM100mil facility has the capacity to handle training for up to 100,000 commercial vehicle drivers a year. “With the ruling, from June 1, the JPJ offices in the affected states will no longer conduct tests for commercial vehicle licences (PSV and GDL). “Applicants will have to bring the certificate of competency issued by ACE to the JPJ, for their licences to be issued,” he added. Emran said that from June 1, the driving institutes in the affected states would only undertake training of, and hold tests for, candidates for conductor’s licences, as well as those for Goods Driving Licences (GDL), and motorcycles for tradesmen and three-wheeled motorcycles. “As a result of the new ruling, driving institutes must complete all applications and bookings for training and tests for commercial vehicle licences before June 1. “Driving institutes should also inform applicants of the new ruling and make the necessary adjustments to their training schedule and test dates with their respective state JPJ offices so that they can complete the applications for PSV and GLD licences before June 1,” he added. Emran said ACE would expand its operations nationwide in stages and would also be building training facilities in Penang, Johor, Terengganu, Sabah and Sarawak. “JPJ will inform the public when the new programme is implemented in the other states. “If driving institutes have any queries on the new regulations for training, they can contact JPJ’s licensing unit,” he added. Emran said ACE would educate and train commercial vehicle drivers on the finer points of road safety and efficient driving based on best practices in Australia.
Net operating results in the life sector continued to improve in 2004. BNM said boosted by strong new business growth, excess income over outgo increased, albeit at a slightly slower rate, to RM10,978.1 million. In tandem with the slower increase in excess of income over outgo during the year, total life insurance fund assets correspondingly grew at a slow rate of 16 percent to RM69,814.7 million from 17.6 percent in 2003. Market penetration, measured in terms of total number of annual premium policies in force to total population, continued to improve steadily to 37.9 percent in 2004 from 36.8 percent in 2003. Growth in the general insurance industry moderated in 2004 to 4.2 percent with a total of RM8,532.5 million in gross direct premiums written during the year, from 9.9 percent in 2003 at RM8,186.3 million. The slower growth was largely attributed to the continued softening of premium rates especially in marine, aviation and transit (MAT) class in line with international rate trends, as well as weaker demand in commercial insurance lines. The predominant motor insurance rebounded, however, to register a stronger growth in gross direct premiums written of 6.7 percent in 2004 from 5.6 percent in 2003, following robust motor vehicle sales. BNM said that higher net premiums retained by both direct insurers and reinsurers boosted the overall net retention level to 87.8 percent in 2004 from 85.6 percent in 2003. The central bank said that the overall claims ratio deteriorated slightly to 60.5 percent in 2004 from 59.8 percent the year before. The claims experience for motor insurance continued to deteriorate to reach 70.7 percent from 70.1 percent in 2003. It said that total operating profits for the year correspondingly increased to RM1,219.8 million, comparable to the level achieved in 2003 despite the slower business growth in 2004. BNM said that it would continue to provide a framework for positive change by promoting greater competition within the domestic market, while strengthening the supporting framework to ensure that insurers continue to develop disciplined internal approaches to risk management and corporate governance. It said that the thrust of policy measures for the insurance industry in 2004 continued to focus on strengthening the foundations for sound financial and business practices, promoting performance improvements, and enhancing consumer protection. ==end==
PUTRAJAYA, — Malaysia will send a team to study the road safety systems being developed and used in the developed countries, soon with a view to implementing them here, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said Tuesday. The visit would start with Germany and would include Sweden. He said the team would comprise officers from the Transport Ministry, Road Transport Department (JPJ), Road Safety Department (RSD) and other enforcement agencies like the police. The JPJ and RSD would prepare the report on the team’s proposals for submission to him, Chan told reporters after German Deputy Minister of Transport Ralf Nagel called on him at his office here. He said he was very impressed with the road safety measures undertaken in Germany. “We have been given to understand that in a very short period, they managed to reduce road fatalities by two thirds,” he said. He said Nagel told him that with a population of about 80 million, road fatalities there had been reduced to only about 5,000 last year. In comparison, Malaysia had a population of only 23 million but the road fatalities had grown to more than 6,000, he said. “So, we still have a long way to go, and this is one area that we think that we have got a lot to learn from our colleagues from Germany,” he said. Chan also said that both countries were finalising the bilateral agreement on the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) to speed up efforts to forge closer cooperation in maritime and shipping. “With the signing of the agreement, we can foresee an even closer cooperation between the two countries in the fields of maritime and shipping in terms of exchange of information, training, and also technology,” he said.
PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court has reversed a Court of Appeal order for an insurance company to pay RM600,000 as compensation for losses incurred by a goldsmith. In making the decision, Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Justice Steve Shim together with Federal Court Judges Justices Abdul Hamid Mohamad and P.S. Gill unanimously allowed Capital Insurance Berhad’s appeal with costs. Justice Abdul Hamid held that there was no debt due from the appellant, Capital Insurance, to the respondent, Cheong Heng Loong Goldsmiths (KL) Sdn Bhd. “There is no basis for an appellate court to reverse the finding of fact of the learned trial judge,” he said. He added that the High Court judge did consider the whole evidence or the lack of it while the Court of Appeal made its decision purely on the adjuster’s report. Justice Abdul Hamid held that on the facts of the case, the High Court judge could not be faulted for his finding of fact that the robbery was faked or had not been proven. He said the circumstances before and after the alleged robbery were so suspicious that an appellate court should not reverse the finding of the fact of the trial judge. On Oct 10, 1984, Capital Insurance issued a Jeweller’s Block Insurance Policy, in which it agreed to insure Chan Kim Swee @ Tung Kim Swi against loss arising from any hold-up or robbery of stock and merchandise of the insured’s business. Cheong Heng Loong Goldsmiths, who are the suppliers of the jewellery and gold items, had sold gold items totalling RM555,362.97 to Chan between Nov 11 and Nov 26, 1984. On Nov 26, 1984, which was the day the goldsmiths last supplied the gold items, Chan alleged that he was held up and robbed of RM873,088.66. He lodged a police report more than 24 hours after the incident. The goldsmiths filed a summons on July 27, 1987 against Capital Insurance claiming payment of the insured sum. On July 23, 1996, High Court Judge Ariffin Jaka dismissed the claim and held that the robbery was a fake and as a consequence, there was no debt due to the respondent from the appellant.
SYDNEY: The disgraced former chief executive of failed Australian general insurer HIH Insurance Ltd was sentenced to four and a half years in prison yesterday for his role in the country’s biggest corporate collapse. Raymond Reginald Williams, 68, HIH’s founder, stepped down in December 2000, just four months before the country’s second biggest general insurer crumbled under estimated losses of up to A$5.3bil. Williams, whose lavish corporate lifestyle once included a A$1,500 bill for jellybeans, pleaded guilty last year to three criminal charges relating to transactions between 1998 and 2000 that distorted the true financial position of HIH, and involved hundreds of millions of dollars. Justice James Wood of the New South Wales Supreme Court said Williams’s offences were “part of a wider history and pattern of mismanagement” that led to the failure of HIH. He is eligible for parole in two years and nine months. The sentencing of Williams comes just a day after former HIH director Rodney Adler, 45, was jailed for the same term after pleading guilty to four criminal charges arising from an 18-month long public inquiry into the HIH collapse. Charges against Williams included being reckless and failing in his duties as director of HIH, authorising a prospectus containing a material omission, and making or authorising a misleading statement to inflate profit. A third charge related to a financial reinsurance policy HIH had “wrongly treated as traditional reinsurance” to overstate its fiscal 1999 operating profit by A$92.4mil, said the Australian Securities and Investments Commission. That reinsurance contract was bought from German reinsurer Hanover Re, the world’s fourth largest reinsurer.
BATU PAHAT, March 31 — Johor police have crippled several car-theft syndicates with the arrest of 29 people in an operation codenamed “Ops Cobra Kancil” which began last February. Police also recovered 30 stolen cars of various marques worth RM1.4 million sold by the syndicates for RM1,500 to RM5,000 each, said state Chief Police Officer Datuk Amir Sulaiman. Among them were 17 Perodua Kancil, one Proton Iswara, five Proton Wira, four Proton Waja and three Proton Perdana. “This is a big success and makes us proud as we have solved 70 vehicle theft cases in Johor,” he told a press conference, also attended by state CID Chief Datuk Abdul Rahim Jaafar, at the Batu Pahat police headquarters, Thursday. He said the syndicates, which had been active over the past two years, tricked buyers by saying that the original owners had financial difficulties and the potential buyers would only have to continue paying the monthly instalments with the finance companies. They also provided the buyers with car registration documents and road tax stickers which were fake. Amir said police also seized two computer sets, several fake road tax stickers and RM42,009 cash from them. All 29 people arrested would be charged in court in Johor Baharu, Pontian, Kluang, Batu Pahat, Muar and Kuala Lumpur with various offences, including car theft and forging documents. He said the state police began tracking down the syndicate members following the seizure of 26 Perodua Kancil and arrests of four suspects last month by the Perak police. The cars seized in Perak had been reported stolen in Johor. Amir also advised members of the public not to buy cars sold at extremely low prices and not to trust part-time car “killer brokers”.
KUALA LUMPUR, March 31 — The Fire and Rescue Department Thursday came out with several tips on how people should respond in the event of an earthquake. * If you’re indoor, stay there. Get under and hold onto a desk or table, or stand against an interior wall. * Stay clear of exterior walls, glass, heavy furniture and appliances. The kitchen is a particularly dangerous spot. * If you’re in an office building, stay away from windows and outside walls and do not use the elevator. * If you are outside, get into the open. Stay clear of buildings and power lines or anything else that could fall on you. * If you are driving, move the car out of traffic and stop. Avoid parking under bridges or overpasses. * Try to get clear of trees, light posts, signs and power lines. * If you’re in a mountainous area, beware of the potential for landslides. Likewise, if you’re near the ocean, be aware that tsunamis are associated with large earthquakes. Get to high ground. * If you’re in a crowded public place, avoid panicking and do not rush for the exit. Stay low and cover your head and neck with your hands and arms.