Insurance News

Bank Negara considering risk-based system for vehicle insurers
16 June 2009, By The Edge

KUALA LUMPUR : Bank Negara is studying the possibility of reviewing the “tariff-based’ insurance system for motor vehicles that had been effective since 1978 and replace it with a “risk-based” system, said Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Dr Awang Adek Hussein. He said on June 16 the proposal was to ensure a level playing field in the motor vehicle insurance industry, it should have a more sustainable system where insurance premiums were based on risk instead of being controlled by tariffs, adding that Malaysia was one of the few countries that adopted the “tariff-based” system. He also said while the tariff-based insurance system recorded RM4.5 billion gross premiums for motor vehicles last year, the profits by insurers following underwriting performance were minimal as Malaysia had a high loss ratio of 80.9% as compared with Thailand (60%), China (68%) and Indonesia (70%). “This means for every RM1, some 81 sen goes to claims. This has caused many insurance players to be less able,” Awang told the Dewan Rakyat yesterday when replying a supplementary question by Chong Chieng Jen (Bandar Kuching – DAP) Chong had wanted to know whether the central bank had taken any steps to act on insurers that compelled old motor vehicles owners to purchase personal accident policy besides the “first party” or “third party” insurance policy. He had earlier asked the Minister of Finance to state measures by BNM on insurance companies that refused to accept “third party” insurance for old vehicles. Awang said Bank Negara would not allow insurance companies to force motor vehicle owners to purchase “third party” or comprehensive insurance protections should the owners themselves were unhappy with it. He said some insurers rejected certain risks which include that of old vehicles which were highly risky, stressing that there were a host of claims that were experienced by insurance companies on the particular vehicle category. “However, as motor insurance is mandatory under the Transport Act 1987, the general insurance industry has set up Malaysian Motor Insurance Pool (MIMP) to act as the end-insurer,” he added.

WHO experts to meet as pandemic alert call nears
11 June 2009, By The Star

GENEVA (Reuters) – The World Health Organisation has called an emergency meeting of experts on Thursday to discuss the spreading H1N1 flu outbreak, in a sign the U.N. agency may be poised to declare a pandemic. WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, who consulted health officials in affected countries on Wednesday, was drawing up her own evaluation ahead of the meeting set to begin at midday (1000 GMT), a spokesman said. “She is looking for some detailed epidemiological explanation for what is going on,” WHO spokesman Dick Thompson told Reuters. “She is making her own assessment based on information gathered today and running it by the Emergency Committee tomorrow.” Thompson declined to say whether the WHO would declare a full-blown pandemic after the closed-door talks, saying he did not want to prejudge the experts’ recommendations. Chan had sought further information from some countries to clarify news reports that they were detecting sustained transmission of the new virus in the community, and not just imported cases, he said. WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl said the expert committee would consult “on the state of the outbreak”. The strain, which emerged in April in Mexico and the United States, has spread widely in places including Australia, Britain, Chile and Japan. The agency said on Tuesday it was on the verge of declaring the first influenza pandemic in more than 40 years, but wanted to ensure countries were well prepared to prevent a panic over the disease, widely known as swine flu. Chan, a former health director in Hong Kong, has previously consulted the group of international experts before raising the alert level. Confirmed community spread in a second region beyond North America would trigger moving to phase 6 — signifying a full-blown pandemic — from the current phase 5 on the WHO’s 6-level pandemic alert scale. GEOGRAPHIC SPREAD There have been 27,737 cases reported in 74 countries to date, including 141 deaths, according to the WHO’s latest tally. Keiji Fukuda, acting WHO assistant director-general, told reporters late on Tuesday that a move to phase 6 would reflect the geographic spread of the new disease. “It does not mean that the severity of the situation has increased or that people are getting seriously sick at higher numbers or higher rates than they are right now,” he said. “One of the critical issues is that we do not want people to ‘over-panic’ if they hear that we are in a pandemic situation,” Fukuda told reporters at the time. The WHO wants to avoid causing undue alarm over a virus that has been largely mild in most countries, while warning it could still mutate into a more virulent form. Members such as Britain have called on the WHO to revise its scale to reflect severity in future. The WHO and its 193 member states were working hard to prepare for a pandemic, for instance developing vaccines and building up supplies of anti-viral drugs, Fukuda said. Drug makers are on track to have a vaccine against the new strain ready for the northern hemisphere autumn after receiving seed virus samples, company officials said.

Labuan Holding Companies Can Now Be Located In KL
1 June 2009, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR — Labuan holding companies are now allowed to establish their operational and management office in Kuala Lumpur under a guideline issued by the Labuan Offshore Financial Services Authority (LOFSA). The guideline issued is part of the national financial liberalisation package announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak in April this year, LOFSA said in a statement today. The liberalisation measures are aimed at enhancing Malaysia’s financial services sector as a catalyst that will take the country to the next level of development, said LOFSA director-general Datuk Azizan Abdul Rahman. In supporting the initiative, Companies Commission of Malaysia (SSM) chief executive officer Datuk Azmi Ariffin said the flexibility given to Labuan holding companies will be viewed as a positive development by the Labuan business community. According to Labuan IBFC Inc Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Martin Crawford, the new development will attract international holding companies and multinationals to set up their business operations in Kuala Lumpur and leverage on its low-cost operating environment and infrastructure. Application for approval can be made by a company currently incorporated under the Offshore Companies Act (OCA) or any person intending to incorporate a company under the OCA. Those who need more details can visit www.lofsa.gov.my or www.labuanibfc.my.

National Automotive Policy ready by September
27 May 2009, By The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: A review of the National Automotive Policy (NAP) to improve existing guidelines, policies and incentives will be concluded by the end of the third quarter of the year. Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the review would take into account the impact of the current global and regional economic situation with special focus being given to the automotive parts and component sector. “When I was in the International Trade and Industries Ministry, I realised the importance of having clear Government policies and plans for the healthy growth and development of the industry. “The review will provide the roadmap for the automotive industry in Malaysia,” Muhyiddin said in his speech at the 2nd Kuala Lumpur International Automotive Conference yesterday. Muhyiddin said the NAP which was implemented in 2006 had attracted 135 projects valued at RM2.37bil up to last year. Of that, he said, 87.7% was domestic investment with the remaining 12.3% coming from foreign investors. He also urged the industry to invest more in green and clean technology by intensifying research and development. Later, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat said there was a need to explore newer supply chain and inventory management systems to ensure a more efficient transport delivery system. In his speech read out by Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Robert Lau, Ong said there were numerous options to look at for a model shift such as from road to rail. “This is not only to cater for fuel efficiency but also to address carbon dioxide emission issues,” he said. Ong said future transport and logistic solutions had to focus on greater fuel efficiency and utlisation and innovative technology. As for the performance of the automotive industry, Malaysian Automotive Association president, Datuk Aishah Ahmad said global vehicle sales had dropped by 9% in 2008 and projected to drop by a further 13% in 2009.

Insurance firms shun 3rd party motor coverage
27 May 2009, By Malaysian Reserve

Insurance companies are no longer willing to provide third party motor insurance under their banner, and instead are sending customers to a high-risk insurance pool run collectively by the industry under orders from the regulators. A recent decision by two local insurers to completely stop providing third party cover to commercial vehicles is set to see a higher volume of premium going towards the high-risk insurance pool called the Malaysian Motor Insurance Pool (MMIP), which had already seen a big jump last year. Even before the two local insurers made the decision, the motor insurance pool had collectively underwritten total gross premiums of RM13.33 million, which is four times more than the RM3.11 million in premiums in 2007. “That’s a huge spike in the pool. It simply means that there is that much more insurance business that insurers do not want to touch. “This also means that general insurers will have to fork out more for the pool,” an industry executive told The Malaysian Reserve. And the latest decision by the two insurers to completely shut out commercial vehicles is set to compound the situation. After the recent annual meeting of MMIP, executives believe premiums underwritten by the pool could more than double, with one source estimating that, moving forward, the pool could conduct as much as RM3 million of business in a month. “What no insurer wants to do, all must do. Hence, since no single insurer is willing to underwrite third party motor risk, it goes to the pool which is collectively underwritten by all 33 general insurance players in the country,” said the executive. Major players in the motor insurance sector include Kurnia Insurance (M) Bhd, Allianz General Insurance Company (Malaysia) Bhd, AmG Insurance Bhd, Tokio Marine Insurans (M) Bhd, Pacific & Orient Insurance Co Bhd, Berjaya Sompo Insurance Bhd and Uni.Asia General Insurance Bhd. The high claims ratio has seen insurers steering clear from underwriting third party liability coverage, the minumum insurance cover mandated by the Road Transport Act 1987. Besides providing insurance protection against death and injury to third parties (which is provided under the ‘Act Only’ motor insurance policy), third party motor insurance also provides protection against other legal liabilities such as damage to the property of a third party (usually somebody else’s car or motorcycle or a neighbour’s gate) and certain specified legal costs. Under the third party cover, a policyholder may opt to include protection for loss or damage to his own vehicle due to fire or theft only. Over the years, Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) and the Ministry of Finance have formed a pool established by insurance companies registered under the Insurance Act 1996 to provide motor insurance to vehicle owners who are unable to obtain insurance protection for their vehicles. It is also commonly referred to as the insurer of the last resort. This pool is managed by MMIP Services Sdn Bhd (MSSB), a subsidiary of MNRB Holdings Bhd (MNRB) incorporated in 2006. Among others, MSSB handles the administration, accounts, investment of the funds of the pool as well as the claims negotiations and settlements.

More choices to buy insurance
23 May 2009, By The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Insurance agents will remain a vital part of the general insurance industry even with the introduction of mandatory rebates for direct purchase of motor insurance, said the General Insurance Association of Malaysia (PIAM). In a statement responding to the implementation of policy, the association said insurance agents would continue to be used as long as car owners were comfortable with and appreciative of their service. The move, to be implemented on July 1, will see customers getting a 5% rebate in the first year and a 10% rebate for renewals when buying insurance directly. “The concern of some agents that there will be a mass exodus of their customers to purchase directly is highly speculative and unwarranted,” said the association. Insurance agents account for 60% of all business generated. The association said that the move was intended to benefit consumers who wished to deal directly with companies. “There are consumers who want more choices in terms of how they purchase insurance. “We must also bear in mind the younger consumers who are very mobile and IT savvy,” said the association. The association added that there were car owners who wanted to enjoy savings by going direct. Meanwhile, the General Insurance Agents Association Malaysia (Perwakim) organised a meeting yesterday to protest the implementation of mandatory rebating. Its president Liza Lau later told a press conference that Perwakim would start a signature drive as well as seek a dialogue with Bank Negara Malaysia and PIAM on the matter. “We do not want this move to take place. “It will lead to a loss of income which would in turn affect our ability to pay our staff,” she said. Lau said many of the staff working for some 20,000 full-time agents would lose their jobs if the move were to take place.

Assumption of Control of Tahan Insurance Malaysia Berhad
22 May 2009, By Bank Negara Malaysia

Pursuant to subsection 59(4)(a) of the Insurance Act 1996, the Minister of Finance has made an order for Bank Negara Malaysia to assume control of Tahan Insurance Malaysia Berhad (Tahan). Tahan is a licensed general insurer with a market share of 1%. The primary objective of the order is to safeguard the interests of Tahan’s policy owners. The order is made due to Tahan’s non-compliance with capital requirements and non-fulfillment of the capital restoration plans. The order takes effect from today. Tahan’s business operations will proceed as usual during the period of assumption of control. To this effect, Bank Negara Malaysia has appointed Mr. Phoon Soon Keong, an Executive Director of PricewaterhouseCoopers Capital Sdn Bhd, as its appointee to assume control of Tahan. Mr. Phoon will oversee the whole of the property, business and affairs of Tahan to ensure smooth operations of the company’s business activities in the best interest of policy owners, while assessing the least cost solution for an effective resolution to take place. For further information, members of the public can contact: Customer Careline Tahan Insurance Malaysia Berhad Telephone: 03 – 2694 8000 Operating Hours: 8.45 a.m. to 5.30 p.m., Monday to Friday BNMTELELINK (Bank Negara Malaysia’s Call Centre) Telephone: 1-300-88-5465 Operating Hours: 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m., Monday to Friday

Peda: Direct insurance rebate will wreck auto dealers network
20 May 2009, By Business Times

PROTON Dealers Association Malaysia (Peda) said the direct rebate for motor insurance will “destroy” the automotive eco-system, particularly the dealers network. The association warned insurance companies that it will call for a boycott if the proposal is implemented. The proposal came from the General Insurance Association of Malaysia (Piam) and was approved by Bank Negara Malaysia via a circular dated April 17. For years, new and used car dealers have become agents to the general insurers. The latest proposal will see them being bypassed from enjoying the commission gained by providing the service to the public and financial institutions. “Bypassing agencies with a direct rebate to customers will contribute to a higher unemployment rate and further weaken the automotive eco-system,” Peda acting president Armin Baniaz Pahamin said in a statement yesterday. He estimates that automotive dealers will lose more than 20 per cent income from the proposal. “The proposal will destroy the automotive eco system, specifically the automotive dealer’s network,” Armin said. Peda reiterates its call for the setting-up of a statutory automotive council to regulate and administer any new or revised government policy pertaining to the automotive eco-system. “In the absence of a statutory council to represent the automotive eco system, the automotive industry will be weaker and will continue to deteriorate,” he said. Armin said motor insurance premiums generated by car dealers are in excess of RM1 million per year per agency. These premiums subsidise the increasing overhead cost as well as determine the break-even profitability of car dealers, especially during an economic crisis, he added. Referring to the automotive industry as “bank dominated market”, Armin said without bank facilities for car vendors and dealers and hire-purchase end-financing for car buyers, the automotive industry will fail. Banks have already enforced dealers to terminate their existing insurance company in favour of bank owned insurance company by imposing a hefty penalty and higher interest to the banking facilities rendered to the dealers if the dealer does not subscribe to the bank insurance company, he said. Dealers were told they will not enjoy any insurance renewal commission when they subscribe to the bank insurance under force majeure.

Motor insurance agents urged to give excellent service
20 May 2009, By The Star

PETALING JAYA: Many Malaysians will continue to stick with their motor insurance agents if the services rendered are excellent, said Datuk Chor Chee Heung. The Deputy Finance Minister was commenting on the implementation of mandatory rebates for car owners if they buy motor insurance directly from the companies via other channels such as the Internet, telemarketing, direct mailing or visiting the insurance company in person. These customers will get a 5% rebate in the first year and a 10% rebate for renewals. The move is to be implemented by July 1 and some insurance agents have already voiced their opposition, saying this move would affect their livelihood. Chor, when contacted yesterday, said the new policy was being implemented to bring insurance practices in Malaysia in line with the rest of the world. “The aim is to increase the public’s access to insurance, and also to bring the industry up to speed with various technological advancements such as the Internet,” he said. “Remisiers have already set the precedent. Now you can go online or direct to buy stocks instead of going through them.”

Rebates for direct insurance
18 May 2009, By The Star

PETALING JAYA: Come July 1, car owners who buy motor insurance directly from insurance companies without using the services of an agent will qualify for mandatory rebates, a move that could render agents redundant. The move would see new customers being given a 5% rebate on their insurance if they buy it via channels such as the Internet, telemarketing, direct mailing or by walking into the insurance company. These customers would also get a 10% rebate for renewals in the second year. In a circular sent to the General Insurance Association of Malaysia (PIAM) dated April 17, Bank Negara said the rebates would only apply to actual owners of the vehicles. The circular added that Bank Negara had “no objections” to PIAM’s proposal for the mandatory rebates. This is understood to mean that the move would more likely be implemented than not. Veteran insurance agent Hardyal Singh hit out at PIAM, saying the association did not take the views of 40,000 agents (15,000 of them full-time) into consideration. “It will clearly affect the livelihood of the agents. Full-time agents hire at least three to 30 employees at their agencies and these people will also be affected. “Our main source of income is the 10% commission, so the 10% rebate is actually our commission being given to the customer. It offers no benefit to the insurance company but instead creates a socio-economic crisis by making people jobless.” Hardyal, who was formerly Perak General Insurance Agents Association president, said he would be forming an ad hoc committee with some larger agents in Kuala Lumpur to speak out more on the matter. It is understood that the circular was the outcome of correspondence and meetings between PIAM and Bank Negara on the association’s proposals towards self-regulation of the industry. In the circular, the central bank said the rationale for mandatory rebates was to “promote the promulgation of alternative channels of distribution so as to increase the penetration of insurance to the masses”. An industry source said the industry was heavily regulated, especially towards the ability of insurance companies to reward agents, and that PIAM’s proposals were for Bank Negara to allow some self-regulation. “When Bank Negara came back to the table, it seemed that they were saying if insurance companies were willing to reward agents, then they could also provide this benefit to policyholders.” The source added that the central bank’s move could be seen as a way to reduce the number of part-time agents but said full-time agents would now have to work harder and think up new ways to get business. Consumer advocate Billy Toh said he was strongly against the move as he felt that agents could still play a role by explaining the insurance policy details to customers. However, Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association secretary-general Muhammad Sha’ani Abdullah said “the move would reduce the opportunity for agents who try to get customers to buy other types of insurance together with motor insurance.”

Third-party motor cover from MMIP
16 May 2009, By The Star

PETALING JAYA: Members of the public who are unable to get third-party insurance coverage from individual insurance companies are advised to obtain coverage from the Malaysian Motor Insurance Pool (MMIP). MMIP is a pool contributed by all insurance companies and deemed as the insurer of last resort. Recently, there had been reports that motor vehicle owners had experienced some difficulties in obtaining third-party motor vehicle coverage. Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Wira Chor Chee Heung met officials from the Finance Ministry, Bank Negara and representatives from Persatuan Insurans Am Malaysia (PIAM) yesterday to discuss issues regarding motor vehicle insurance, especially the issuance of third-party motor vehicle insurance. In a statement, the ministry said that Chor subsequently instructed Bank Negara to resolve the matter together with PIAM. Chor wants both parties to jointly come up with balanced short and long-term resolutions which would be amicable to all stakeholders, namely insurance companies, consumers and regulators. PIAM said that insurance companies were willing to issue coverage but hefty losses due to large claims from third-party coverage had resulted in it being a non-viable business.

Singapore police recover 30 stolen M’sian luxury cars
15 May 2009, By The Star

SHAH ALAM: The Singapore police force has recovered 30 luxury cars, mostly 4WDs, worth RM2.3mil that were stolen from various parts of Malaysia since last year. The vehicles, including models like Toyota Hilux, Honda CRV, Nissan Frontier, Toyota Fortuner and Toyota Camry, were brought into the republic individually or in bulk. Police believe the stolen cars stolen were to be re-exported to other countries in the region, West Asia, Eastern Europe and South Africa. Federal CID director Commissioner Datuk Seri Mohd Bakri Zinin said Friday with cooperation from the Singapore counterparts they had prevented international syndicates from exporting the cars. Twelve of the vehicles were reported stolen in Kuala Lumpur, nine in Selangor, three in Johor, two in Negeri Sembilan and one each in Pahang, Malacca and Perak. Comm Mohd Bakri said investigations had established that 29 vehicles were reported stolen except for one car. He said some of the reports were genuine but there were also some car owners who knew their vehicles had been taken to neighbouring countries. Also, while some were forced to surrender their cars after they lost in gambling sessions in a neighbouring country others sold their vehicles to the syndicate due to financial difficulties and reported them stolen when they returned to Malaysia, he told a press conference at Management Solution in TM Kompleks here Friday. Comm Mohd Bakri said Interpol had received all the 30 vehicles from Singapore police on May 5 and they would be released to the rightful owners, such as the insurance companies and banks, after investigations were complete. He said the syndicate members used several methods, including using false registration plates, to steal the car, adding they were very slick in their operations and had a wide network. He said a car stolen in Kuala Lumpur could be taken out of the country within a few hours and dismantled into pieces in just an hour. Comm Mohd Bakri added the police was also collaborating with Customs Department, Road Transport Department on car theft. “We are looking into the possibility of imposing a passport system, which means all cars must have a passport to come into and leave Malaysia. “Besides, we are also suggesting to the government to have e-plates or an electronic registration number system as well as a micro-dot system, a kind of electronic identification system to prevent theft of car parts,” he said.

A choice to ride on safe buses
13 May 2009, By The Star

PUTRAJAYA: Consumers can choose to travel only with express bus companies which practise strict safety measures in the future. Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) director-general Prof Dr Ahmad Farhan Mohd Sadullah said it would soon release a list of bus companies which complied with the Road Safety Department’s safety, health and environment code of practice. “The number of bus accidents has dropped by 36% last year in comparison with the previous year. “This is due to 22 bus companies complying with the code of practice,” he told a press conference here yesterday. With the release of the list, Dr Ahmad Farhan said consumers would be able to differentiate between bus operators that complied with safety measures with those that did not. He added that Miros would suggest this to the Cabinet Committee on Road Safety, which is chaired by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. The committee is expected to meet next month. Dr Ahmad Farhan said it would take five years for all the 187 bus companies in the country to comply with the safety requirements, which were not compulsory. “Although some have volunteered to comply with the requirements, we can only en-sure bus companies follow such safety standards when they come to renew their permits,” he said. Among others, the code includes “sound driver” recruitment and an effective driver and vehicle data management system.

Car parts theft ring uncovered
2 May 2009, By New Straits Times

MUAR: Car parts from seven stolen cars worth RM300,000 were seized and a man believed to be part of a “kereta potong” syndicate was arrested following a raid at Jalan Arab here on Wednesday. Johor CID chief Datuk Amer Awal said it was believed the syndicate had been cannibalising stolen Proton cars and selling the components locally. “We are still looking for the remaining syndicate members,” he said at the Muar police headquarters yesterday. Amer also said police believed that the suspect had been operating in Muar for about six months and had links in Malacca. He also said the syndicate was known to change its operation centre periodically to avoid detection. In another development, Amer said police, raided foreign workers’ kongsi, budget hotels, snooker and cybercafe centres and detained 109 people for various offences. Amer said 280 foreign workers were also checked and their personal data recorded, adding police also issued 216 summonses for traffic offences. He said 244 people, including students, found in snooker centres and cybercafes, were screened during the operations held over the past 48 hours. On several memorandums received by the police, Amer admitted there was a shortage of manpower, but soon there would be an intake of 60,000 recruits and more policemen would be assigned to various districts. Amer said police had intensified mobile patrols in strategic locations to check crime. He added more police beat bases had also been set up.

Car Thefts: Architect still fearful 2 years on
2 May 2009, By New Straits Times

WHEN architect Lim Take Bane opens the front door of his house in the mornings, he cannot help but feel afraid. He feels fearful because, two years ago, car thieves cut his front gate padlock and drove away with his new Toyota Fortuner 4WD. “It was a scary moment. They didn’t harm me, my wife or daughter,” said Lim, 51, who lives in Bangsar Baru, Kuala Lumpur. “The fear never goes away. When I first bought the car, people did tell me that the 4WD drive was a hot car among car thieves.” Lim had decided on the Fortuner because he needed a vehicle which could carry his drawings to work and ferry clients around. Six months after the theft, the insurance company paid Lim 90 per cent of the total value of the vehicle. Lim lost important documents belonging to clients and personal items and estimated their value to be about RM30,000. “When I spoke to people in the car business after my Toyota was stolen, they told me that it was probably headed for Cambodia where the demand for such vehicles is good.”

Police go hi-tech to fight car thefts
2 May 2009, By New Straits Times

Vehicle theft cases have been on the rise in recent years. Shanti Gunaratnam and Alang Bendahara talk to police and insurance experts about the problem POLICE are getting more “tech savvy” as they battle the brazen car and motorcycle thieves who did RM982 million worth of “business” in 2008. Vehicle thefts have steadily increased from 82,954 (valued at RM853 million) in 2006 to 85,080 (valued at RM911 million) in 2007 and 88,820 last year. Federal Criminal Investigation Department director Datuk Seri Bakri Zinin said police had identified three ways to prevent vehicle theft: – Fixing e-plates for vehicle registration numbers; – “DNA profiling” of vehicles and their parts; and – Getting vehicles to use a “passport” when they leave the country. The e-plate will be fitted with a global positioning system tracker which the police can use to track the stolen vehicle when a report is made. “We have been asking the Road Transport Department for this for the last four years but no decision has been made yet,” said Bakri. He said the “DNA profiling” system would be like the one used for high-end watches, which include details of a watch’s make, the buyer and the place of sale. This information, he added, would be contained in a colour-coded dot on vehicles. Bakri said the “DNA profiling” would also be similar to the one which would be used in the new Malaysian passports to be issued next year. “We have asked that this DNA dot be used for new cars but they (manufacturers and agents) are reluctant to do so because of the added cost.” The “passport” will carry pictures of the vehicle and other relevant information. “Many Malaysian-registered vehicles are taken to neighbouring countries and do not come back. “The vehicles could have been stolen, sold to unsuspecting buyers, given away as payment for gambling debts or just left behind because the owners were unable to make loan repayments. “The owners return and lodge police reports that the vehicles have been ‘stolen’. “With the ‘passports’, we will be able to monitor vehicles exiting and entering the country.” Bakri said police knew who were the masterminds behind the car theft syndicates but it was difficult to bring them to court. He noted that many arrests had been made but none of them could be connected to the big boys. “We are fighting an uphill battle. Those arrested are small-time thieves.” Bakri said there was a two-way trade in the sale of stolen vehicles, with luxury cars being stolen in foreign countries and brought in as “reconditioned” cars and sold to unsuspecting Malaysian buyers. Expensive cars from Malaysia have also found their way to neighbouring countries and as far away as the United Arab Emirates, South Africa and Trinidad and Tobago. Syndicates are also targeting 4WD vehicles for use deep in the jungle by loggers and miners. A RM90,000 4WD is sold for as little as RM15,000. While luxury cars and 4WD vehicles bring in top ringgit, small-engine motorcycles are the “bread-and-butter” business of many syndicates. “The motorcycles are easily stolen and cannibalised for their parts,” Bakri added.

Former senior cop arrested over car thefts
2 May 2009, By New Straits Times

SHAH ALAM: A former senior police officer who was asked to resign from the force over “certain irregularities” is believed to have been the mastermind of a car theft ring that police crippled with the arrest of six men on Thursday. The officer, who held the rank of assistant superintendent, was among the six detained in a raid on a workshop at Jalan Kampung Jawa, Klang. Besides the policeman, three brothers, a Myanmar and an Indian national were arrested. Checks revealed that the Indian’s permit had expired while the Myanmar did not have proper documents. A search of the premises revealed three lorries that had been reported stolen in Bandar Sunway, Port Klang and Sungai Senam, Ipoh, a car that had been reported stolen in Kajang and numerous spare parts. The men were remanded yesterday to facilitate investigations. The ex-policeman was attached to the Subang Jaya Criminal Investigation Department when he was being investigated by the police disciplinary board. He was then transferred to Ipoh where he was asked to resign. State police chief Datuk Khalid Abu Bakar said police were looking for several other people to assist in investigations.

Car Thefts: RM673.4m claims incurred
2 May 2009, By New Straits Times

ACCORDING to the General Insurance Association of Malaysia (PIAM), 15,727 private cars were reported stolen to insurers in 2007 and 2008. Total claims incurred by insurers for these vehicles amounted to RM673.4 million. Theft losses for motorcycles are an area of great concern to both insurers and the public because of the sheer number of thefts which are taking place. In 2007, 35,749 motorcycle theft losses were reported with claims amounting to RM129.8 million. Last year, these numbers had decreased slightly to 33,349 and RM118.8 million respectively. In terms of absolute numbers, the following makes of cars had the highest number of thefts in 2008: Proton (3,873), Toyota (1,472) and Perodua (921). However, the correct comparative measure of the rate of vehicle theft of a particular make or model of car would be the frequency of theft, for example, the number of vehicles stolen as a ratio of the total number of vehicles on the road. Generally, stolen vehicles will end up in the following circumstances: – Resold to innocent or “not-so-innocent” buyers – Exported” out of the country for resale to foreign buyers – Cannibalised for spare parts which are then resold in the local spare parts trade. The insurance industry is working on the possibility of introducing a premium discount scheme for vehicles which are installed with approved electronic immobiliser and tracking systems which are connected to a centralised monitoring centre. PIAM is also in discussion with other markets on the introduction of a vehicle security standards system. These standards will enable the insurance industry to insure vehicles based on their security rankings, i.e. an assessment of their resistance to theft. The standards will also enable the public to use the ranking when purchasing a vehicle and give them an indication of how their insurance premiums may be affected as a result. In the last six years, the average annual insurance payout by the insurance industry for vehicle thefts was approximately RM550 million per year. This is a great loss not only in terms of property value but also in terms of the unquantified consequential financial cost and emotional hardship to affected vehicle owners. The large number of vehicle thefts including thefts with threats of violence are having a negative impact on the public’s perception of safety and security in the country. Furthermore, the spread of criminal activities associated with vehicle thefts such as organised theft syndicates, fencing of stolen property, “chop shops” and negative influence on our youths cannot be ignored.

Warning on tow truck operators’ tactics
28 April 2009, By New Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR: Tow truck operators are resorting to violence to get accident victims to use their services. Federal Territory and Selangor Automobile Repairers’ Association president Datuk Ho Yoon Ping said they had been receiving at least two complaints monthly from accident victims, alleging that they were forced to pay off the tow truck operators. “Trouble starts when the victim refuses to go to the workshop used by these tow truck operators who arrive at the scene first. “In most cases, the victims have their own workshops. The tow truck operators would refuse to release the victim’s car until they are paid RM200 for being ‘first on the scene’ and ‘looking after’ the damaged car”. Ho said the tow truck operators would also demand money from tow service operators of the car owner’s choice. He urged victims to go to the nearest police station quickly if they are caught in such a situation. “Tell your friends or family members to get to the crash scene and keep an eye on the vehicle. Later, ask a policeman to accompany you to the car, to avoid trouble with tow service operators who would resort to anything for money.” He was speaking at a press conference at the MCA Public Services and Complaints Department yesterday where two brothers narrated their harrowing experience with the tow truck operators recently. The brothers, Neng Man Seng, 27, and Neng Wah Seng, 29, were allegedly beaten up by 10 men after they had refused the group’s offer to tow their damaged car.

Insurance Scheme For Breeders, Farmers Proposed – Noh Omar
12 April 2009, By BERNAMA

BUTTERWORTH — The Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-based Industry hope to introduce an insurance scheme to ease the burden of breeders and farmers when they suffer loses due to natural disasters like flood or outbreak of diseases. Its Minister Datuk Noh Omar said such an insurance scheme was important as breeders and farmers would be able to use the insured capital to restart their business after any eventualities. He said Agro Bank, with the help of a consultant company, was carrying out a feasibility study and preparing a working paper to determine if the insurance scheme can be implemented successfully. “I have, for a long time, proposed to the government to set up an insurance scheme to assist breeders and farmers to make up for losses suffered during any eventualities. “I hope it can be studied further and implemented to ensure farmers and breeders remain in the business to ensure a continuous supply of such products in the market,” said Noh after opening the National Agriculture Month here today, his first official function after his appointment by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on Thursday. He added that discussions had started with Agro Bank to start a pilot project on the proposal, for poultry farmers (Johor) and paddy planters (Kedah), and that the outcome of the discussion would be announced soon. “What is important is that a thorough study must be carried so that the proposed scheme would not burden or incur any negative consequences to those involved.

Thieves sent to Japan for ‘courses’
15 March 2009, By New Sunday Times

CAR theft syndicates are investing in their members by sending them on courses. A source revealed that some syndicate members, especially those on the ground, are sent to Japan for a three-month course to learn about alarm systems and how to disable them. “Japan is the country of choice because it is the home to some of the biggest car makers such as Toyota and Honda.” While some master the art of disabling car alarm systems, others learn how to make duplicate keys. “Each syndicate member learns a skill, including opening steering locks. They also specialise in a particular make of car. “For example, one will be an expert on Toyota models while another focuses on Honda.” It is understood that each time a new Japanese car is introduced, the syndicate sends its members to Japan to learn everything about the model. “This is because orders from foreign buyers will come in for the new model and the syndicate wants to be prepared to meet the demand.” Car theft syndicates also offer their customers, including car brokers, side packages like altering the chassis number, duplicating car keys, and forging road tax discs and registration plates. The packages cost between RM2,000 and RM50,000, depending on the vehicle. Stolen cars sold locally are mostly stripped for their parts. Certain types of vehicles, including the Mercedes-Benz and BMW, have state-of-the-art systems which make them difficult to be broken into and disabled. In such cases, the thieves will wait for the owners to get into their cars or follow them home before hijacking the vehicles.

Special unit to curb car thefts
15 March 2009, By New Sunday Times

A NATIONAL body was established in 2007 to tackle the rising number of car thefts. Known as the National Vehicle Theft Reduction Council, its members include representatives from the police, the Road Transport Department, the Transport Ministry, Malaysian Automobile Association and the General Insurance Association of Malaysia (PIAM). It is headed by Deputy Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Ismail Omar, while the working committee chairman is Senior Assistant Commissioner II Chee Cheng Wan. Chee is also the Federal Criminal Investigation Department principal assistant director (intelligence/operation) and has been working with other parties. “Currently, discussions are being held with various parties to examine the feasibility of offering discounts on insurance premiums to car owners if they install additional alarm systems,” he told the New Sunday Times. “Several workshops are also being organised with representatives from state police contingents as part of the plan to crack down on car theft syndicates.”

Thieves embrace globalisation
15 March 2009, By New Sunday Times

A DECADE ago, Malaysian car theft syndicates sold stolen vehicles to local workshops, criminals and unsuspecting buyers. Now, they are busy filling the orders of foreign buyers from as far away as Sierra Leone and South Africa. Also involved are people who are not syndicate members, but brokers who match the suppliers to the buyers. The process begins when a foreign buyer informs a broker in his country that he wants a specific make and model. “Intelligence reports indicate that 4×4 pick-up trucks are in great demand abroad. “These vehicles include the Mitsubishi Storm, Toyota Hilux and Ford Ranger,” a police source told the New Sunday Times. The source disclosed that stolen Malaysian vehicles have also “been exported” to the United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Thailand, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and Cambodia. “Foreign buyers, no matter where they come from, have one thing in common. “The vehicles they order are always the latest models with emphasis on performance and power.” Once a buyer makes an “order” with the broker, the latter will get in touch with his collaborators in Malaysia. For example, if there is an order for a Honda Accord, the foreign broker will contact the Malaysia broker, who in turn will contact the car theft syndicate and place an order. The syndicate usually gets between RM2,000 and RM3,000 for a vehicle. The thieves will go out in pairs to their favourite hunting grounds such as car parks and quiet roads. When the Honda Accord has been located, one member will disable the alarm system while his partner will break into the car. The vehicle is transported to a pre arranged location, usually in a car park of a condominium. The registration plate of the car is changed and a duplicate key is made before the stolen car reaches the car park. “When the car is parked, the thieves will place the key on top of the car tyre or inside the glove compartment,” the source said. “The car broker is informed that the Honda Accord is at the pre arranged location. “But there will be no face-to-face contact between the two parties. “The broker will then go to the car and place an envelope inside.” The envelope will contain between RM500 and RM1,000, depending on the destination of the car. It is the fee for the runner who will drive the car to an exit point. When the runner has reached the exit point, for example in Port Klang, the vehicle is placed inside a container and shipped. All this happens within hours of the car being stolen. Gone are the days when syndicates would store the vehicles in warehouses. Foreign buyers normally pay between US$2,700 (RM9,800) and US$60,000 for a stolen vehicle. A Mercedes-Benz S350L which costs nearly RM1 million in Malaysia is sold for a mere RM217,000.

Non-motor segment helps industry record growth
11 March 2009, By The Star

KUCHING: The strong performance of the non-motor sector has helped the country’s general insurance industry to record a 3.2% growth in gross direct premium to RM10.5bil last year. The medical and health, and liabilities classes grew by 16.7% and 10.5% last year as compared with 2007, said Bank Negara insurance and takaful supervision department director Yap Lai Kuen. She said the personal accident class posted a 9.2% growth during the same period. “Even though 2008 has been challenging, the insurance industry has maintained an overall high volume of business,” she said when opening the inaugural Sarawak insurance agency seminar yesterday. However, Yap said the life insurance’s new business annual premium equivalent registered RM7.2bil last year, down from RM7.6bil in 2007. She said this was due largely to a decline in sales of investment-linked business. “It is worthwhile to note that ordinary life recorded a strong growth of 18.6%, thus demonstrating the industry’s ability to adapt to a changing business environment,” she added. Yap said Bank Negara had recently issued a concept paper – “Guidelines on the introduction of new products for insurance companies and takaful operators” – in which fair treatment of consumers was highlighted. She said the paper stressed the need for insurance companies to put in place policies and procedures to ensure that customers were fully informed through appropriate disclosures of the key features, terms and conditions and risks associated with the product. The product must also be appropriate for the target group of consumers taking into consideration their broad needs and risk appetite, and compensation arrangements for sales staff and agents must not induce an excessive bias towards high revenue-generating products that they are likely to result in unsuitable product advise or sales to customers. Yap said insurance companies must be seen to be actively involved in combating fraudulant practices and money laundering to boost their integrity and trustworthiness. She said insurance agents had to keep up-to-date in terms of technical competency, maintain a high standard of ethical behaviour and provide customer-orientated services.

No buyers for stolen Porsche
9 March 2009, By New Straits Times

PETALING JAYA: The RM1.42 million Porsche Cayenne Turbo S that was stolen in Shah Alam last Monday is being flogged on the black market for between RM50,000 and RM70,000 but there are no takers. Sources familiar with the case told the New Straits Times that the syndicate that stole the SUV, which is said to belong to a member of the Kelantan royal family, did not do its homework properly, hence the problem in attracting a buyer. “Normally, there is a ready buyer to take possession of a stolen vehicle. The car may be stolen today but in a matter of hours, it can be in a different country. “In the case of the Porsche, no one dares touch it.” The source described the stolen SUV as a “unique vehicle, easily noticeable and extremely hot at the moment”. “Buyers are rare for these types of high-end merchandise.” It is believed that the SUV is in Johor as the technical expertise to do alterations to the vehicle is only available in a neighbouring country. “For example, there are details of the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S that have been sandblasted onto the windscreen. So where is the best place to find a replacement?” Malaysia’s northern neighbours are normally a sellers’ paradise but not the right places to modify or make alterations to luxury vehicles. Selangor Criminal Investigation Department chief Senior Assistant Commissioner II Hasnan Hassan said police believed the vehicle was still in the country. The Porsche Cayenne Turbo S was stolen from a Puspakom service centre last Monday while it was being inspected. Meanwhile, it is learnt that the thief who stole a Toyota Camry in SS19 Subang Jaya on Saturday made a mistake as the vehicle was a 2.0 litre rather than a 2.4 litre. “Customers abroad prefer higher powered vehicles so the thieves will have to find a local buyer now.” The Toyota Camry was stolen from a petrol station as its owner was pumping fuel into the vehicle. It is believed the suspect was also responsible for stealing the Porsche Cayenne Turbo S.

Two months of rain in just two hours
5 March 2009, By The Star

PETALING JAYA: In just two hours on Tuesday, Kuala Lumpur saw more rain than it normally would in two months. Not just that. The rain, which started in the afternoon, was so intense that it caused Sungai Gombak to quickly swell and overflow. This resulted in the flood havoc in several parts of Kuala Lumpur. Vehicles in underground car parks were submerged and thousands of motorists were caught for hours in a traffic gridlock that continued past 9.30pm. Describing the rainfall as exceptional, Department of Irrigation and Drainage director-general Datuk Ahmad Husaini Sulaiman said 75mm of rainfall was recorded within two hours. “Normally, we receive about 30mm in a month. The rain (Tuesday) was so heavy and the intensity so great that Sungai Gombak could not cope with the buildup of water. “Coupled with the capacity of Sungai Damansara and the drainage system in the city, the amount of water was just too much over a short period of time. “Tuesday’s situation was serious and caused a lot of distress to many people, and we want the public to understand why it happened,” he said yesterday. The Stormwater Management and Road Tunnel (SMART), generally seen as the answer to the city flood woes, was not “utilised” as it was designed to divert excess water from Sungai Klang. Ahmad Husaini said SMART was not closed to traffic as the concentration of the rain was not over Sungai Klang. However, he said, once the Batu and Jinjang flood retention ponds were completed by the middle of this year, such situations could be averted. The ponds have an increased capacity of 4.5 million cubic metres and 2.5 million cubic metres respectively, enough to hold excess water from Sungai Gombak and Sungai Keroh. A Meteorological Services Department officer said Tuesday’s rain was due to weak and variable winds which caused an unstable atmosphere. “We are now towards the end of the north-east monsoon which brings about sudden changes of atmosphere. The inter-monsoon season is expected to start in April,” he said. Thunderstorms can be expected in the afternoon over the next few days in the Klang Valley and the west coast but the rainfall was not expected to be unusual.

Chaos as flash floods hit city
4 March 2009, By New Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR: Sungai Gombak overflowed its banks causing chaos that had not been seen in more than three decades in the heart of the city yesterday evening. Areas which were hit for the first time included the basement car park of the Putra World Trade Centre and large stretches of Jalan Ipoh where vehicles were completely submerged. The other areas affected by the flash floods included Bulatan Dato Onn, Pudu Raya, Pantai Dalam, Bangsar, Segambut, Jalan Raja Laut, Jalan Kuching, Jalan Ipoh, Jalan Pekeliling, Jalan Kinabalu, and Jalan Duta. A Kuala Lumpur City Hall emergency unit spokesman said water levels started rising during a two-hour downpour which began just after 4pm. Thousands of office workers were stranded in their buildings when power supply was cut off and thousands more endured more than three-hour jams for journeys which normally took 30 minutes. At PWTC, more than 1,000 visitors and staff were trapped in darkness after a power outage. When they made it to the basement, they were shocked to find their vehicles submerged. City Fire and Rescue Department assistant director (operations) Azizan Ismail said they sent divers to the basement car park to look for victims, but fortunately there were none. He said the basement car parks in surrounding buildings were also affected by flash floods. Azizan added that the Sentul Fire and Rescue Department station which is situated just across PWTC was also hit by floods. At Jalan Ipoh, which rarely sees flash floods, water levels were recorded at between one and two metres high, completely submerging vehicles. To add to the city folks’ woes, RapidKL’s Kelana Jaya line LRT service, was also hit by a power failure which disrupted train operations for more than an hour beginning 5.58pm. Power was restored gradually from 7.15pm and the train service resumed in stages. Normal service was restored at 7.47 this evening. RapidKL chief executive officer Suffian Baharuddin said due to the power failure, massive passenger congestion was experienced at the LRT stations along the Kelana Jaya line. It took RapidKL several hours to clear the congestion.

Thousands caught unawares as 2m-high flash floods hit KL
4 March 2009, By The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Thousands of motorists were stuck in massive traffic jams for more than two hours yesterday evening after a storm caused flash foods in various parts of the city. Flood waters rose up to 2m at the junction of the Dynasty Hotel on Jalan Ipoh and in the Kampung Baru area. Some motorists had to abandon their cars in the middle of the road when the flood waters threatened to submerge their vehicles. Among those stuck in the jam was singer Francessca Peters, who was in a car driven by her sister Bibiana. They were stuck at the Jalan Ipoh-Jalan Pahang junction as police had closed the road because of the flood. “Pedestrians had to wade through muddy water,” Bibiana, 40, said. Among the other badly-hit areas were Jalan Kolam Air, Jalan Union, Jalan Parlimen, Jalan Gombak, Bulatan Dato Onn, Segambut and Jalan Tun Razak. Residents at Jalan Kolam Air were badly affected as flood waters rose as high as one metre. A resident, Ravi Chandran, 43, said it was not the first time the area had been flooded. The residents live beside Sungai Batu and flash floods have been occurring for years. According to the Kuala Lumpur City Hall flood information centre, the floods began at 5pm after a downpour. Enforcement officer Chief Insp Lamli Musa said the flood waters began to recede after the Smart Tunnel was closed to traffic to enable flood operations. “We sent our officers to the affected areas and police were also sent out to help ease traffic congestion,” he said.

Stolen cars sent to Tonga
4 March 2009, By The Star

KUALA SELANGOR: Selangor Customs officers uncovered a network involved in smuggling out stolen vehicles to Trinidad and Tobago as well as Tonga. They believe that these are new destinations, as previously, smuggled vehicles usually ended up in neighbouring countries. Investigations uncovered eight Toyota vehicles in two containers at the Tanjung Pelepas port in Johor, said acting state Customs director Saadon Md Derus. The Toyotas – four multi-purpose vehicles (MPVs), three Altis and a Camry worth RM683,000 – were declared as furniture. “Smugglers are getting more creative. Two vehicles were placed on the container floor while another two were suspended from the container roof. “They are smuggling four cars in one container. Previously only two vehicles would be put in the same container,” he told reporters yesterday after a dialogue session with traders on ways to curb the entry and sale of contraband cigarettes and counterfeit products. Trinidad and Tobago is in the Caribbean and lies 11km off the northern coast of Venezuela; while Tonga is in the South Pacific, closer to New Zealand. It is learnt the eight vehicles were stolen in Kuala Lumpur, Rawang and Petaling Jaya last week. To confuse enforcement officers, the stolen vehicles were shipped from Port Klang to Singapore before being shipped back to Tanjung Pelepas port for delivery to Trinidad and Tobago and Tonga. “We are investigating a freight forwarding firm,” said Saadon. Selangor Customs will enlist the help of their counterparts in Trinidad and Tobago and Tonga to assist in investigations.

More road deaths spell ops failure
5 February 2009, By New Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR: The police force’s objective of lowering the number of road deaths during the Chinese New Year period failed miserably as 212 people died during Ops Sikap XIX, which ended on Monday. The number is 22 more than the previous year’s total, recorded during Ops Sikap XVI. This is despite the fact that there were 2.5 per cent fewer accidents recorded this year (14,618) compared with last year (14,991). Federal traffic police chief Datuk Abd Aziz Yusof attributed the increase in the number of fatalities to negligence of motorcyclists, who made up 71.6 per cent, or 152, of the total number of deaths recorded during Ops Sikap XIX. “Motorcyclists and pillion riders registered the highest increase of fatalities in Ops Sikap XIX compared with other road users,” he said at Bukit Aman yesterday. Aziz said most of the fatal accidents recorded were not due to collisions but from motorists losing control of their vehicles. “Fatigue from long distance travel affects road users’ concentration and also their level of alertness and this can lead to accidents.” He advised motorcyclists who had far to travel to take public transport during future festive seasons. Aziz said out of the 198 fatal accidents recorded, 115 occurred outside of the 351 areas that were covered by the force during the 15-day operation. “This shows that road users’ attitudes have yet to change. They will only abide by the law in areas where they know policemen are watching. “It seems we have to deploy more people and cover more ground in the next Ops Sikap to get road users to change their attitude.” Hesaid municipal roads recorded the highest number of accidents (6,279), followed by federal roads (3,725), state roads (2,467), expressways (1,452) and other roads (695).

Road deaths up by 11.6% during CNY period
5 February 2009, By The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Road deaths increased by 11.6% during the 19th Ops Sikap conducted for the Chinese New Year period from Jan 19 to Feb 2, compared with the same period last year. The target set earlier by the Internal Security and Public Order director Datuk Hussin Ismail was to reduce the death toll by 5%. A total of 212 deaths was recorded this year, against 190 in the same period last year. The average daily death toll recorded in the 15-day operation was 14.1, compared with 12.6 in 2008. However, fewer accidents were recorded this year, at 14,618, compared with 14,991 last year during the 16th Ops Sikap. Bukit Aman traffic chief Datuk Abdul Aziz Yusof said the target could not be achieved, let alone zero accidents or deaths, if road users do not change their bad attitude. “How much longer do Malaysians need to be reminded of their own safety? “Maybe Ops Sikap should be conducted more often to change their attitude,” he said. Aziz said motorcyclists and pillion riders accounted for 72% of fatal accidents, with 152 deaths, an increase of 43.4% from last year. Car drivers and passengers accounted for 29 deaths, pedestrians (14), lorry drivers/attendants (five), cyclists (four). The remaining deaths involved other vehicles. He said on a bright note, there was no fatal accident involving buses during the operation, although traffic summonses shot up to 142,362.

Car theft gang busted with arrest of five men
22 January 2009, By New Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR: They purchased vehicles involved in accidents from scrapyards before stealing a car of the same make. They then tampered with the stolen vehicle to match that of the one from the scrapyard. The gang members took the vehicles for testing at Puspakom and obtained a registration card before selling the vehicles through second-hand car dealers or to individuals. Police recently put a stop to the activities of this gang with the arrest of five men. Cheras police chief Ahmad Amir Mohd Hashim said the gang sold the stolen cars at market price. The suspects, aged between 30 and 43, were picked up in Kajang and Nilai on Jan 13, following a tip-off. Police have seized 14 cars of various makes, including a Mercedes Benz, from the suspects. Some of these cars recovered were stolen while some were from scrapyards. Ahmad Amir said police believed the syndicate had been active in the Klang Valley for the past six months. “We are investigating how many tampered vehicles had been sold so far. “We are also looking for four other members of the syndicate.”

Bank Negara cuts interest rate to lower borrowing costs
22 January 2017, By The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Bank Negara cut its benchmark interest rate by a record 75 basis points yesterday and also reduced the statutory reserve requirement (SRR) in a move to lower borrowing costs. The central bank said it had reduced the overnight policy rate (OPR) from 3.25% to 2.5% and reduced the SRR from 3.5% to 2% effective Feb 1. “With the heightened downside risks to growth, the magnitude of the reductions in the OPR and the SRR are aimed to be pre-emptive in providing a more supportive monetary environment for the domestic economy,” it said in a statement. Other points in the statement included: > Urgent implementation of policy measures crucial to ensure positive growth. > Inflation continued to decelerate to 4.4% in December. Deceleration expected to continue with weaker demand and lower imported inflation. > The Malaysian banking system remains fundamentally sound. > Focus is to ensure access to credit to all sectors of the economy. Meanwhile, the Associated Chinese Chambers of Commerce and Industry of Malaysia (ACCCIM) said the proposed second stimulus package must focus on the manufacturing and construction sectors to avert more retrenchments. ACCCIM president Tan Sri William Cheng said the stimulus plan must be implemented quickly as the two sectors would be the most affected by the global financial crisis during the first-half of this year. He also called for a reduction in prices of gas and electricity and a reduction in employers’ contribution to the Employees Provident Fund from 12% to 9%.

Vehicle sales to fall 12.4% this year
21 January 2009, By The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) forecasts total industry volume of vehicles to fall 12.4% to 480,000 this year. This was lower that the 548,115 units which were sold last year, the MAA said on Wednesday. MAA president Datuk Aishah Ahmad said despite the weaker TIV sales this year, she expected it to record marginal improvement in 2010 to 490,000. She was expecting 2011 sales to rise to 505,000. On the expectations for this year, she said the MAA was looking at lower sales because of the slower economic growth and unfavourable consumer sentiments due to job concerns. Other factors were concerns about the inflation, fluctuation in commodity prices and foreign exchange rates.

Politician detained over a stolen lorry
16 January 2009, By The Star

IPOH: The divisional Youth head of a political party in Tanjung Malim was detained by police last Tuesday on suspicion of being in possession of a stolen lorry. The arrest was believed to have been made after police received a missing lorry report in Sungai Buloh, Selangor, recently. The 31-year-old man was arrested in his house in Sungkai, near Tapah, by a police team from the Tapah district police headquarters and handed over to the Petaling Jaya police headquarters. Tapah OCPD Supt Roslan Bek Ahmad confirmed the arrest but declined to elaborate.

Controversy arises over insurance policies
14 January 2009, By New Straits Times

SEREMBAN: Was it a misleading sale by an MP’s aide or insurance fraud in a claim by a beneficiary? On one side is a man who claims he was cheated of RM5,000 in benefit payments. On the other side is the Parti Keadilan Rakyat MP’s aide who accused the would-be beneficiary of trying to cheat the insurance company by signing his critically-ill friend for 18 policies. The beneficiary, who declined to be named, said his friend had named him to benefit from a RM5,000 policy he took in July. When his friend died in August, his insurance claim was rejected. He lodged a police report after failing to get the MP aide’s help in his claim. He is blaming PKR for his woes as it was the MP’s aide who had encouraged people to sign up for the scheme. The aide, Baharudin Ayub, said the complainant had bought 18 policies for his terminally-ill friend, naming himself among other beneficiaries. “When the forms were submitted to the insurance company, they were immediately rejected because his friend’s name was signed up for 18 policies. “The forms were rejected in November.” Baharudin said the fund was aimed at helping to reduce the financial burden of burial costs. “The complainant had actually tried to deceive the insurance company by signing up a terminally-ill person and naming himself as the beneficiary.” However, Baharuddin said he was negotiating with the insurance company to return the RM1,800, which the complainant paid for the policies.

General Insurance Companies To Face Challenging Year
12 January 2009, By Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysian general insurance companies are bracing for a rough 2009 as average motor premium continues to fall while insurers suffer from higher than expected claims ratio. The rising motor claims ratio has resulted in insurers adopting more stringent underwriting control on motor insurance, including the application of premium loadings, said the General Insurance Association of Malaysia (PIAM). This could impact the renewal and availability of motor insurance in 2009, said PIAM executive director Lim Chia Fook in a statement on Monday. However, motor vehicle owners can turn to the Malaysian Motor Insurance Pool as an alternative to obtain motor insurance protection, he said. Motor insurance comprises 44.3 percent of the overall general insurance business Malaysia, the association said. In 2007, general insurers paid out RM3.49 billion or an average RM9.6 million a day for motor claims, out of the total gross premiums of RM4.68 billion collected that year. The combined claims ratio amounted to 114 percent in 2007 and it deteriorated to 121 percent in the first half of 2008, according to PIAM. “For every ringgit of motor insurance premium collected in 2007, insurers expended RM1.14 to pay claims and cost of acquiring and managing the business. This figure has deteriorated further to RM1.21 for every ringgit of premium earned in the first half of 2008”, Lim said. Malaysian general insurance companies have been suffering from high claims ratio which execeeded 100 percent in the last five years, according to the association. The factors are largely due to increase in the frequency of vehicle thefts and road accidents as well as increasing severity of claims cost per accident, especially for third-party bodily injury claims, it said. PIAM said that express buses and goods vehicle are major contributors to the underwriting losses in the motor insurance class and have the highest claims ratio. In 2007, the combined claims ratio for express buses was 335 percent, followed by goods vehicles at 155 percent, it said. The rising motor claims made by young drivers are another major concern, according to PIAM. Industry statistics showed that the claims ratio attributed to 25 years and below drivers is about 40 percent higher than other insured age groups, it said.

RM1.2m insurance fraud charge
8 January 2009, By New Straits Times

PETALING JAYA: Three men, including one who is paralysed, were charged at the Sessions Court yesterday with cheating an insurance company of RM1.2 million. Wong Ngan Nyok, 64, a lumberjack, was charged with cheating officers of Kurnia Insurans (M) Berhad by convincing them that the details on a claim given through two legal firms, T. Rajagopalu & Co and G. Dorai & Co, were true. The firms were representing Wong’s employee, K. Achutan, 42, in an accident claim. In the claim, Wong had said that Achutan was hit by a lorry driven by another employee, Pang Kee Chong, 63, on July 24, 2004, in Jempol, Negri Sembilan, causing him to become paralysed. The charge stated that he dishonestly induced the insurance company into paying RM1,175,862.52 as compensation to Achutan on May 9, 2007, following a decision by the Kuala Pilah Sessions Court. He is alleged to have committed the offence between Sept 22 and Oct 27, 2004, at the insurance company’s headquarters here. Pang and Achutan were also charged separately with abetting Wong. All three pleaded not guilty. Deputy public prosecutor Nur Aida Md Zainudin and Aqeeb Lizalman Nordin prosecuted while Wong and Pang were represented by counsel Suraj Singh. Achutan was represented by counsel Mohd Saufi Samsudin. Nur Aida proposed bail of RM100,000 each in one surety, saying that the amount in the case was huge and it involved a big company. Both lawyers pleaded for the amount to be reduced. Judge Rozina Ayob granted RM3,000 bail each in one surety and ordered them to surrender their passports to the court. She fixed Feb 20 for mention.

Prison doesn’t do car thieves any good
8 January 2009, By New Straits Times

PETALING JAYA: A recently released convict teamed up with his brother and a friend to pull off 15 luxury car thefts and robberies within a month. The 32-year-old man had just been released from prison a month ago after serving time for vehicle theft. The jail sentence was his ninth conviction. Petaling Jaya police chief Assistant Commissioner Arjunaidi Mohamad said losses incurred from the 15 reported cases were estimated to be RM1 million. Besides the ex-convict, who is believed to be the mastermind, the other two men, aged 39 and 30, also have previous convictions for vehicle theft and drug abuse. The month-long luxury vehicle theft and robbery spree came to an end on Dec 29 when a police party arrested the mastermind at a house in Subang Permai about 2am. Two days later, the other two were arrested in Bukit Beruntung in a follow-up operation. During the two operations, police recovered three cars — a Toyota Camry, BMW and Toyota Vios. All the cars had been reported stolen. It is learnt that the stolen cars would normally be sold between RM15,000 and RM20,000 by the gang. Also arrested during the raids were four prospective buyers, although Arjunaidi declined to elaborate. He said the gang would normally identify potential victims at petrol stations. They would then tail the victims back to their homes. As the victim arrived home, the suspects would knock into their vehicle from the back. When the victim got out to inspect the damage, the robbers would confront him, brandishing a parang. It is learnt that the gang not only stole the vehicle, but would also ransack the victim’s home and make off with valuables. In some cases, the robbers also assaulted their victims although the injuries inflicted were not severe. Besides the three vehicles that were recovered, police also seized several parang, curry powder, laptops and LCD screens.

Landslide cover needed
8 January 2009, By The Star

PETALING JAYA: Insurance companies and agents should inform policyholders on the importance of having a landslide cover in the wake of such recent catastrophic occurrences in the country. Apart from this, policyholders should also be more responsible and not have a lackadaisical attitude towards such a policy to facilitate claims, according to industry players. Allianz General Insurance Co (M) Bhd chief executive officer Ng Hang Ming said although the insurance coverage for landslides was sufficient, it was necessary for insurers and agents to keep their customers aware of the available coverage. “In light of the occurrence of landslides in the past weeks, we recommend our customers to reconsider landslide coverage, and also coverage against other natural catastrophes. “The best way to do this is to talk to your insurance company or agent for more information. “It is definitely beneficial for customers to be better informed on the risks that are associated with landslides and other natural catastrophes, for example flooding after heavy rain,’’ he told StarBiz. As an insurance provider, Ng said Allianz had responded by offering more information and training to its sales channels to ensure customers received the best possible protection. He said its agents too were well prepared to advise customers on catastrophic risks. General Insurance Association of Malaysia executive director C.F. Lim urged owners of hillside properties to extend their policy to include landslides, as a basic home owners insurance policy currently would not cover damage due to such event. He said extending coverage for landslides and landslips would involve an additional 0.075% of the sum insured. For example, for a property worth RM100,000, the extra payment would be RM75. Hong Leong Assurance chief operating officer (general division) Janice Chan said that currently, many home owners did not have an adequate coverage for landslides as they did not believe or thought it was needed, compared with the standard fire and lightning cover. On the Government’s role in landslides, Chan said apart from financial compensation, it should also impose stricter laws pertaining to the development of hill slopes and strict enforcement of building codes. Asked whether the premiums for landslides were expensive, Ng noted: “For a home owner, coverage against landslides is an additional cost factor, and nobody likes costs. “But the premiums properly reflect the actual risk and this risk unfortunately is reality, as we see from the recent tragedy in Bukit Antarabangsa. “We advise our customers to discuss with their agents the possible natural risks they are facing.”

Legal clerks on cheating charges
6 January 2009, By The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: The Sessions Court has allowed two legal firm clerks to be tried together on eight counts of cheating and three counts of attempting to cheat involving RM1.7mil. D. Balakrishnan and R. Ramasamy, both 36, had previously pleaded not guilty to the charges. Deputy public prosecutor Harris Ong Mohd Jeffery Ong had made the oral application before Judge Rozana Ali Yusoff. Ramasamy’s lawyer V. Ravichandran did not object. Balakrishnan and Ramasamy were alleged to have jointly cheated People’s Insurance Co (M) Sdn Bhd into believing that all information and documents in suits by several plaintiffs against the company were true, when they were in fact not. They had allegedly committed the offence between November 1990 and November 2001 in Medan Tunku here. Harris Ong had also applied for a later date to be set for a re-mention as he said he needed to look at the investigation papers again. Ravichandran added that the defence counsels had only so far received the charge sheet. Rozana then set Feb 12 for re-mention and said she hoped the relevant documents would be prepared by then.

Luxury car theft syndicate busted
6 January 2009, By The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: A syndicate specialising in stealing luxury cars and selling them cheap has been crippled with the arrest of five of its members and 14 car brokers. The car brokers were not only responsible for selling the stolen cars but also for faking the road tax disc for the cars that they sold. Police believe that they have successfully solved 26 cases of car theft and robbery with the arrest of the men. The cars are immediately disposed of for RM6,000 to RM20,000, depending on the marque. The road tax discs are sold for RM200 to RM300. It is also learnt that three members of the syndicate, going by the name Jongos and active for the past six months, are involved in eight rape cases in Selangor. City police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Mohammad Sabtu Osman said yesterday police had their breakthrough when two syndicate members, aged 30 and 35, were arrested on Dec 4. And on Dec 24, three other syndicate members, aged 18 to 30, were picked up in Gombak district. One is a taxi driver and the other two jobless. Initial investigations reveal that syndicate members would trail their intended victim from a bank to his or her house. When the victim stopped the vehicle, the syndicate members would force the victim out and rob him or her before fleeing with the vehicle. They used parangs in all the incidents. DCP Mohammad Sabtu added that eight of the victims were also raped. “However, no casualties were reported in all the incidents,” he said. Following the arrests, police seized 13 luxury cars from various locations. Among the car makes are Mercedes Benz, BMW, Toyota, Volkswagen, and Honda. When asked, DCP Mohammad Osman said two car buyers were also arrested.

Jeweller With Unarmed Security Guard Gets No Insurance
5 January 2009, By BERNAMA

PUTRAJAYA — Companies with insurance policies for their valuable assets have to ensure that their security guards are physically armed while on duty as failure to do so will taint their chances for insurance claims, the Court of Appeal here ruled today. Court of Appeal judge Datuk James Foong, who sat with Datuk Abdul Hamid Embong and Datuk Abdul Malik Ishak, made the unanimous ruling when dismissing an appeal by Wilayah Beauty Gems Sdn Bhd for RM750,000 in insurance for jewellery lost in a robbery at its premises in 1994. “We are of the view that armed guard in the insurance policy must mean that the guard was physically armed at the material time or if arms were made immediately available at the material time,” Foong in his oral decision. The three judges were not in favour of the submission from V. Jeisooria, counsel for Wilayah Beauty Gems, that the security guard need not physically carry a gun as long as the gun was immediately available to him in the premises. On Nov 27, 1994, the shop was robbed by a group of armed robbers who fled with jewellery worth RM900,000. It filed a claim for insurance against Arab Malaysian Assurance Bhd as the insurer, but the latter refused to pay. It then filed a suit against Arab Malaysian Assurance at the Kuala Lumpur High Court in 1995 claiming that the insurance policy that it purchased covered the incident and argued that the clause on “armed guard” was unclear. It contended that it was enough as long as the gun was at the guard’s disposal and that it did not matter whether the security personnel was in possession of the gun. Arab Malaysian Assurance, however, submitted that there was a clause in the policy stating that there must be at least one armed guard on duty during business, therefore the security guard must be physically armed at all times, which he had failed to do so. In this case, the security guard kept a loaded gun in a room inside the shop and came back to the entrance only to monitor customers goint in and out of the shop, it said. The claim was rejected by the High Court. Arab Malaysian Assurance was represented by counsel T.Sagadevan.

‘Breaking into cars not rocket science’
23 December 2008, By New Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR: The police have yet to uncover evidence that car thieves are getting help from the people within the industry to steal vehicles. Federal Criminal Investigation Department (CID) chief Datuk Bakri Zinin said this in a statement in response to the report “Many car thieves getting inside help”, published in the New Straits Times last Saturday. The report had implied that car distributors believed that car thieves received inside help as the jobs were often “clean” and the vehicles not damaged. “Breaking into cars or immobilising car alarms is not rocket science. “Car thieves are resourceful and very capable of finding their way into any car they can get,” Bakri said. The article also reported that most of the 12,427 vehicles stolen last year were luxury cars, multi-purpose and four-wheel drive vehicles. “Police statistics show that car thieves target any make of car as long as opportunities exist for them to do so.” Bakri said the increase in car thefts was almost proportionate to the increase in registered cars in the country. “In 2005, there were about 6.5 million registered cars in the country whereas last year, the figure had increased to 7.4 million. “The number of cars stolen last year is only 0.17 per cent of the number of registered vehicles in the country.” He added that the CID took vehicle thefts seriously and combats the activity by gathering intelligence and monitoring areas prone to thefts. Bakri advised vehicle owners to install appropriate anti-theft devices.

Many car thieves ‘getting inside help’
20 December 2008, By New Straits Times

SEREMBAN: The number of cars stolen in Malaysia last year increased by almost 1,500 units compared with 2006. Most of the 12,427 vehicles stolen in 2007 were luxury cars, including multi-purpose vehicles and four-wheel-drives. They were stolen at night by “professionals”. What is more shocking is that car distributors believe that these car thieves probably received inside help as the jobs were often “clean” and did not involve any damage to the vehicle. This information was the result of an internal probe by car dealers who were working to find ways to curb the increasing number of thefts. “On average, about 30 to 35 cars are stolen daily. We believe several of these car thieves were getting inside help as they knew exactly where the alarm sensors were located and how to de-activate them. “The thieves were also well-versed with the mechanisms of the immobilisers, while they all had generic keys to start the vehicle,” said a distributor. He said the number of car thefts had risen to alarming figures, from about 8,000 in 2002 to more than 12,000 last year. And the number is expected to rise this year. “Luxury models, which are mostly priced above RM120,000, were stolen based on demand for their spare parts in foreign markets. “These vehicles were stolen and their parts stripped before being shipped abroad, mostly to Africa,” he said. From the 11,101 cars reported stolen in 2006, he said only 3,365 were recovered. He said the aim of the meeting between the car distributors was to find ways to improve security systems and put an end to these thefts. “The problem is if these thieves are getting inside help, then we have a very serious issue. If someone is leaking our security codes and working with these syndicates, then we will hopefully be able to find some way around it,” he said. He said the dealers were recommending to car manufacturers certain measures, like relocating the car alarm sensors and the installation of additional safety features which they hope would make it more difficult for car thieves. For now, he said the only advise they could offer car owners, especially those with luxury vehicles, was to be more vigilant and use as many extra locks as possible. “Each car manufacturer would like to say that his vehicle has the best security features and will not advise his customers to buy a steering or handbrake lock. “Unfortunately, no security system seems superior compared to the rest and the best alternative could be for the vehicle owner to use additional locks.”

Three m-cycle theft gangs busted
21 November 2008, By New Straits Times

MARAN: Police busted three motorcycle theft gangs following the arrest of 18 youths aged between 14 and 23 in separate raids here. With the arrests, police now believe they have solved at least 30 cases in the district since early this year. District police chief Deputy Superintendent Ahmad Johari Shahabudin said most of the suspects were secondary school students and sons of Felda settlers who carried out the thefts for side income. The first to be nabbed on Sept 22 and Sept 23 were nine members from Geng Leh, suspected of having committed 15 thefts between February and September. In a second swoop, Geng Azhar made up of five youths aged between 15 and 19, from Kota Gelanggi, Jerantut were arrested between Sept 27 and 29. They were alleged to be involved in six motorcycle thefts in Bandar Jengka here since March this year. Geng Pelam from Felda New Zealand here was the third on the police hit list. The gang of four aged 18 and 19 are suspected of being involved in nine cases around Sri Jaya here since January this year. “They move in two groups. The first group would scout for motorcycles to steal at shopping complexes and housing areas. “After finding their targets and ascertaining that there were no cops around, they would contact the second team immediately,” said Ahmad Johari. He said the second team would use a master key and ride off with the motorcycles. They would then cannibalise the motorcycle parts before selling them to close friends and divide the cash among the gang members. It was learnt that the Azhar and Pelam gangs preferred to carry out their activities during the night, while Geng Leh struck during the day. Police managed to recover some of the stolen motorcycles while the suspects have been released on police bail.

Call to regulate rating agencies
21 November 2008, By New Straits Times

MALAYSIA is calling for international rating agencies to be regulated to ensure they are accountable for their actions in providing analyses of companies, International Trade and Industry Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said after the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) trade ministers meeting here yesterday. Malaysia’s proposal, which will be taken up at the Apec leaders meeting this week, comes amid the looming global crisis blamed largely on false pictures painted of the US credit market. The objectivity of international rating agencies has been increasingly questioned in recent years, beginning with collapse of Internet companies at the turn of the century and their seemingly wrong analyses of the asset debt securities sold by American banks to the international markets. Malaysia itself has not been spared by actions of these rating agencies who at times have paid more attention to issues other than those purely economic in nature in arriving at their ratings. Their ratings, however, carry a lot of weight and are often used by investors in arriving at investment decisions. While all rating agencies claim to be independent in their ratings, their recent wrong analyses of companies and countries have attracted increasing views of the need to regulate the industry. Muhyiddin also informed the meeting of Malaysia’s experience in surviving the 1998 economic crisis, among others, saying the government has continued to impose strict regulation on and surveillance of its financial system to ensure its soundness. The meeting also encouraged countries to put in place checks and balances in their regulatory frameworks and to make the private sector more accountable with accurate and timely disclosures. Despite the critical global economic situation, Malaysia is also calling for countries not to resort to protectionist measures to ensure their survival as it could worsen the situation. Muhyiddin said the meeting agreed that markets should be kept open to continue providing trade and business activities. Apec member economies are to continue pursuing liberalisation through elimination of tariffs to promote trade. He said Malaysia was anticipating slightly lower trade figures next year of between one and two per cent as a result of the global crisis. Muhyiddin said his ministry was constantly monitoring the situation and remained open to suggestions from the industry on how to cushion the impact of the crisis. He said while there was no blanket move by Malaysia to protect its industries, the government would take steps to safeguard those considered critical to the economy. Malaysia, for example, recently announced several liberalisation measures to prop up its steel industry. There were also strong suggestions by Apec members for the failed Doha round of the World Trade Organisation trade talks be resurrected as success there could help strengthen the world economy. Muhyiddin said the ministers pushed for the Doha Round to be revived before the end of the year. “We believe that the seven-year Doha Round of trade talks can be concluded in the near future.” He said Malaysia would continue to contribute to advance the negotiations to ensure a balanced outcome at the Doha Round.

October vehicle sales fall 26%
21 November 2008, By The Star

PETALING JAYA: Vehicle sales tumbled 26.1% in October from the previous month as consumer sentiment was affected by uncertainties arising from the current financial crisis, according to the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA). It said total vehicle sales fell to 37,512 units, comprising 33,418 passenger and 4,094 commercial vehicles, from the 50,729 units in September. October vehicle sales also fell 12.6% against the 42,915 units in the same month last year, the MAA said in a statement. From January to October, vehicle sales were at 467,425 units, up 16.5% from 401,149 in the previous corresponding period. MAA said sales volume in November was expected to be maintained due to the year-end seasonal trend. However, what was evident from the MAA data was that production had continued to increase despite the decline in sales. In October, production rose to 46,281 units, comprising 41,840 passenger and 4,441 commercial vehicles. This was an increase of 11,652 units from the 34,629 units in October last year. Total January-October production rose to 449,988 units from 361,969 units in the previous corresponding period. AmResearch analyst Hafriz Hezri said the contraction in October vehicle sales was expected due to lower consumer spending. Some automakers were said to have started to reduce production in view of the slowing economy, he said. For the next two months, sales are likely to stay lower than the rest of the year as this is the typical trend for buyers to get new car registrations early in the year. For next year, total industry volume (TIV) is expected to decline by 17% due to the slower economy, lower consumer spending and higher hire-purchase rate. An auto analyst with Affin Investment said 2008 was a good year for car sales in general, compared with previous years due to more attractive model launches, coupled with a fairly stabilised market for second-hand cars and good gross domestic product growth of above 5%. This year alone, Proton Holdings Bhd had launched the new Proton Saga and Persona at prices that were very attractive, while Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua Sdn Bhd and Toyota launched the facelifted Perodua MyVi and Toyota Vios respectively. “It is a volume game for the automakers this year,” she said. Additionally, she said, the higher purchase rate would not dampen sales for the non-national segment, particularly new cars. Automakers such as Tan Chong Motor Holdings Bhd and UMW Holdings Bhd are still able to offer attractive interest rates of about 2.8% for new cars, compared with banks’ interest rates of 4% because they have their own financial arms to absorb the difference in interest rates. Although October was seen as a “weak” month for vehicle sales for the year, she said sales could easily reach an average of 30,000 units per month for the next two months. “We should be able to surpass the TIV target of 510,000 units to about 530,000 units.” However, things were “not going to look good” next year, she said. “We expect vehicle sales to contract by 5% to 7% next year due to the slower economy and less disposable income,” she said, adding that there would be fewer mass model launches next year.

E-kesihatan system scrapped
19 November 2008, By New Straits Times

SHAH ALAM: The controversial e-kesihatan system has been scrapped. Transport minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat said it would be replaced by a new system that would ensure an absence of a monopoly by any party. He said e-kesihatan concessionaire, Supreme System Sdn Bhd, had been informed of the government’s decision to discontinue the project. He said the project had been referred to the Road Transport Department to be placed on the drawing board for a system that could serve public interest well. Ong said compensation had not been finalised with the RTD looking into the legal implications of terminating the project. He added that the issue of compensation was also out of the ministry’s jurisdiction as it involved other government agencies like the Economic Planning Unit. Supreme Systems has filed a RM103mil claim for compensation over the termination of the project. On the reasons behind the termination, he said the government had been faced with a situation where it needed to strike the right balance. “On one hand, we need medical certificates to ensure that the physical fitness of public transport drivers was done but we do not want to make it burdensome to the public. “We will come out with a new fee structure and, most importantly, we insist there should not be any monopoly,” he said after visiting Jalan Multimedia in i-City here yesterday. The transport ministry has been attempting to implement the e-kesihatan system since 2005. The system, to have started on Oct 1 last year, allowed medical check-up results of commercial vehicles drivers to be electronically transmitted from panel clinics and laboratories to the RTD. However, it received widespread criticism from doctors, taxi and bus operators who claimed that the scheme was a money-making operation.

Impractical to hear cases in Singapore
12 November 2008, By The Star

PETALING JAYA: The hearing of compensation cases in Singapore courts for traffic accidents in Malaysia should not be encouraged for practical reasons. General Insurance Association of Malaysia chairman Cliff Lee said the process would be difficult for claimants as any award made in Singapore would have to be filed in a Malaysian court for enforcement. “This is not a question of whether or not it is fair. The Singapore court has the right to hear, but the enforcement of the judgment can be a problem,” he said. Lee was commenting on recent separate rulings by two Singapore High Court judges that their courts could hear cases of compensation for Singaporean victims of traffic accidents in Malaysia. He said the Malaysian defendant would also be inconvenienced by having to appoint a Singaporean lawyer while Malaysian witnesses would have to attend court in Singapore. “Furthermore, the policy is paid in Malaysian ringgit but the award will be in Singaporean currency (S$1 = RM2.40). It will have a big impact on Malaysian insurers,” he said. Lee said there was also the issue of what would happen if the Singaporean judgment was not enforceable in Malaysia. “Malaysia is obviously the better forum,” he said. The two Singaporean judges, Justices Tay Yong Kwang and Choo Han Teck, made clear that the law relating to negligence on the roads is “essentially the same” in both countries. In one case, Singaporean Teo Cher Teck was injured in a car accident in Johor Baru in January last year when Malaysian Goh Suan Hee rear-ended his car. Teo had repaired the car and was also treated in Singapore. Justice Choo had said that there was a subtle but appreciable difference between getting an award in Malaysian currency after taking the cost of living in Singapore into account and an award that is made directly in Singapore. The other case involved a 43-year-old Singaporean woman who was killed when the tour bus she was travelling in crashed into the rear of a lorry on the North-South Expressway in June 2006. Her husband, Ismail Sukardi, who was travelling with her together with their three children, took up a claim against the bus driver and company. In this case, Justice Tay made the point about the different costs of living, and added that the victim had been working and living in Singapore and it was only right that her dependants sought damages “assessed according to local conditions”.