No decision yet to abolish federal department

Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan said the matter was raised as promised to Sabah leaders by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Monday.

He said the matter would be discussed further in due course.

"I met the chief minister (Datuk Seri Musa Aman) this morning and conveyed what was discussed in cabinet to him," he said after a closed-door dialogue with officers from local authorities in Sabah.

Abdullah had told the leaders that he would raise the proposed abolition of the department in cabinet following requests from the state Barisan Nasional leaders during his day-long meeting with them here.

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MIC plans to set up info centre

The centre, which will attend to calls on issues like education, loans and welfare, will be based at its headquarters in Menara Manickavasagam.

MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said information on organisations like the Maju Institute of Education Development (MiED) and Yayasan Strategik Sosial (YSS) could be obtained through the website.

"We will update the website with information on discussions that the MIC had with the government, what did the minister representing the Indian community say... everything will be up on the website," he said at the MIC's newly-renovated office on the 6th floor of Menara Manickavasagam yesterday.

Samy Vellu said he had ordered all branch chairmen to recruit at least 50 youth as members within three months.

He said the youth and women movement would be separated and a branch could be formed with just 50 youth or women.


Parole system to start in October

At the same time, the government will also introduce community service for those who commit traffic offences.

These measures would help to eliminate the problem of overcrowding in prisons, Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar said after a six-hour visit to Kajang prison yesterday.

The introduction of both systems is provided for in the Prison (Amendment) Bill 2007 which was passed in parliament last year.

Under the parole system, a prisoner with a minimum one-year jail sentence will be eligible for parole after serving half the term.

But those imprisoned for sexual crimes or crimes under the Kidnapping Act, Firearms (Increased Penalties) Act, Dangerous Drugs Act and Internal Security Act are not eligible.

Syed Hamid said that some 36,672 inmates were now cramped in prisons, waiting for trial or under remand.


Are we, Malaysia as a whole ready for a parole system? Why can't we just build more prisons to eliminate the issue of overcrowding?

Americans lose spending power

With sentiment knocked by recession fears, the University of Michigan's index of confidence fell to 63.2 for April from 69.5 in March.

This month's figure is the lowest since March 1982, when the US economy was deep in an economic downturn.

It is just the latest study to show that US consumer confidence has fallen sharply in recent months.

The news hit the markets, with America's main Dow Jones index ending Friday down 2%, while the Nasdaq gave up 2.6%.


Perfect Pear Diamond Gets Sold

A private buyer purchases a Pear diamond during an auction when the reserve price wasn't met.

The highly anticipated 72.22 carat "Perfect Pear" diamond was withdrawn from the Sotheby's Hong Kong auction on April 10th after the final bid failed to reach the reserve price. The stone was expected to sell above USD $13 million or RM40,918,150 but the highest bid only reached $9.4 million or RM29,586,970.

That didn't seem to dampen interest, however, as within just a few hours of the auction closing the stone was sold to a private buyer for an undisclosed amount.

Via Luxist 

TM: RM500,000 lost to cable theft in Kelantan

Its general manager Abdul Rashid Che Osman said 144 cases were detected from January to March this year, mostly in rural areas such as Bachok, Rantau Panjang, Pasir Puteh and Machang.

Kelantan is the sixth highest state after Kedah, Perlis, Perak, Johor and Selangor in cable theft cases.

Abdul Rashid said TM would take a week to restore power for consumers affected by the theft.

He blamed the thefts on the demand for copper which would be melted and sold to syndicates.

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Yahoo reports a jump in profits

The internet firm reported income of $542.2m (£271.5m) compared with $142.4m in the same period a year earlier.

Yahoo is seeking to prove it is worth more than Microsoft's unsolicited $44.6bn (£22.3bn) offer.

But despite beating forecasts, Yahoo's performance did not convince analysts that the firm merited a better bid.

"This is better than (Wall) Street was expecting. This might pose some issues for Microsoft," said Jeffrey Lindsay, analyst at Sanford C Bernstein & Co.

"It's less likely Microsoft would succeed with a lower bid. They wouldn't be able to reduce their price."

Yahoo's profits were helped by a $401m gain from the sale of a stake in Chinese internet company

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Check out more details on the Earnings Conference Call for the first quarter.

Ex-minister under probe for molest

A police report was lodged against the politician on Friday night, four days after he allegedly hugged a woman at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur Sentral.

City police CID chief SAC II Ku Chin Wah confirmed the report and said they have recorded a statement from the woman who works at a cigar shop in the hotel.

"We have also contacted the accused. He is currently out of the country but he has been informed that we want to question him," Ku said.


Now, this might sound awkward, but why did it take the lady 4 days before she filed for a report at the police station? Does anyone else find that weird?

At the same time I would have to say that the ex-minister is also weird, in what galaxy did it require him to hug the lady in the cigar shop? Was it Free Hugs day 4 days ago?

Or probably someone should have informed the ex-minister of the venue and date of the Free Hugs Day. 

Kah Choon: Let me focus on my job

Datuk Lee Kah Choon has thumbed his nose at the Gerakan leadership by shrugging off party adviser Datuk Seri Lim Keng Yaik's terse comments about him. Lee said his decision to accept the offer by the DAP-Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR)-led state government to helm two top agencies in Penang had nothing to do with politics.

Stressing that he was still a loyal Gerakan member and had no intentions of leaving the party, Lee said: "My political background and my appointments are two totally different things.

"I hope Gerakan will not link them," he said at his new office in InvestPenang yesterday.

Lee said as far as he was concerned, there were many things that needed to be done and he needed to focus on his new job. "I want to concentrate on another phase of my life. "This is something new, something I like and, at the same time, something which still enables me to help others."

Lee said this when asked to comment on Dr Lim's comments about his appointment as director of Penang Development Corporation (PDC) and investPenang by the state government.

Khir and Muhammad trade barbs in cyberspace

Both Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo and Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib are using their blogs to counter each other's accusations.

Dr Khir said he accepted the view of Muhammad (now Rural and Regional Development Minister) that he was responsible for the BN's defeat in Selangor.

But he also reminded Muhammad that the coalition also lost in Penang, Perak, and Kedah.

Dr Khir said he could also blame Umno division heads in the state for failing to defend both state and parliamentary seats.

Muhammad, who took over as state Umno and BN chief from Dr. Khir after the defeat, is the Kelana Jaya Umno division head.

BN lost the Kelana Jaya parliamentary and two state seats, Subang Jaya and Seri Setia, in the March 8 general election.

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