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KUALA LUMPUR – The government has announced that 45 per cent of the Light Rail
Transit 3 (LRT 3) contracts worth RM9 billion would be awarded to Bumiputera
companies through the “carve out and compete” concept .

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the eligible companies had to
compete among themselves based on merit.

“It (contracts) is not being randomly awarded and they (Bumiputera
companies) must prove their ability and consideration will be given based on
merit,” he said after chairing the Bumiputera Economic Action Council here
today.

THE Saudi Film Festival opened Monday with 58 homegrown cinematic works to be screened in the ultra-conservative kingdom that continues to ban public cinemas.

“Welcome to all of you, filmmakers, makers of art and makers of hope,” festival director Ahmed al-Mulla told participants at the opening ceremony, which was broadcast online.

The fourth edition of the festival had been slated to run from March 23-28 in the Gulf coastal city of Dhahran, but it was pushed back due to stormy weather.

This is the third consecutive annual film festival in Saudi Arabia after a hiatus of seven years.

The festival includes four competitions for feature films, documentaries, student productions, and unproduced scripts.

It is scheduled to open with a drama that resonates, as the kingdom’s tentative efforts to expand entertainment face resistance from conservatives.

Wasati directed by Ali Alkalthami is based on the true story of extremists trying to disrupt a play at a university theatre in Riyadh 10 years ago.

Saudi Arabia late last year began a cautious push to introduce entertainment, despite opposition from Muslim hardliners.

Other events on offer for Saudi spectators have been the New York theatrical group iLuminate, the Comic-Con pop culture festival, and WWE wrestling. — AFP

IT is proof that even one of the world’s best soccer players is not above the law.

Argentina and Barcelona star Lionel Messi has been hit with a four-game ban by football’s governing body FIFA and fined $10,000 after verbally abusing a match official while on international duty.

The 29-year-old learned of his fate just hours before his country’s crucial qualifying clash with Bolivia. He will also miss upcoming games against Uruguay, Paraguay and Venezuela.

Messi became animated at the end of Argentina’s 1-0 World Cup qualifying victory over Chile on March 24 — a game settled by the forward’s first-half penalty.

After being flagged for a foul, he waved his arms and sent a volley of verbal abuse at the referee’s assistant.

It is a severe blow to Argentina’s hopes of qualifying automatically for Russia 2018, given how poor its record is without Barca’s talisman.

The top four teams in South American qualifying advance to next summer’s tournament, while the team that finishes fifth goes into a playoff.

Argentina are currently third, but only three points separates sixth-place Chile and Uruguay in second.

Messi won’t return to international duty until Argentina’s final fixture against Ecuador, by which time the damage could already be done.

Prior to FIFA’s announcement, football expert Greg Stobart told CNN’s World Sport Show: “Argentina are totally dependent on him (Messi).

“He’s missed quite a few qualifying games through injury — seven matches and they’ve only won one of them.

“With Messi in the side, they’ve played six and won five. If he’s suspended for two, three, four games they are in real trouble of failing to qualify.” – CNN

NIBONG TEBAL – An express bus driver pleaded not guilty at the Jawi Magistrate’s
Court here today to a charge with reckless driving in an incident which killed a
woman yesterday.

Muhd Farizan Awang, 39, was charged with driving in a reckless manner that
it resulted in the death of the woman at the north bound North South Expressway,
near the Bukit Tambun exit here, at 4.20 am on March 27, 2017.

He was charged under Section 41(1) of the Road Transport Act 1987 and faced
an imprisonment for up to 10 years and fine of between RM5,000 and RM10,000, as
well as his licence will be suspended, if found guilty.

Deputy public prosecutor Afiq Nazri Zaharinan, who prosecuted, offered bail
of RM10,000 with one surety, but Muhd Farizan, who was unrepresented, asked the
bail to be reduced as he was supporting three children and his wife was not
working.

Magistrate Shamshol Azwa Martadza then set bail at RM8,000 in one surety and
also ordered Muhd Farizan’s driving licence to be suspended pending the disposal
of the case.

The court set May 4 for mention for Muhd Farizan to engage a lawyer.
— BERNAMA

PUTRAJAYA – Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak held talks with visiting French President Francois Hollande at Malaysia’s adminstrative capital here Tuesday in conjunction with the latter’s two-day state visit to Malaysia.

Hollande was greeted by Najib upon his arrival at Perdana Putra and the two leaders held a restricted meeting before proceeding for the delegation meeting.

Najib and Hollande are also scheduled to witness the signing of bilateral agreements and a memorandum of understanding on defence and agriculture aimed at further promoting cooperation and stimulate greater economic collaboration between Malaysia and France.

The state visit of Hollande, who arrived in Malaysia yesterday, is part of the French President’s first visit to ASEAN which include visits to Singapore and Indonesia.

This is the second state visit by a French President to Malaysia. President Jacques Chirac paid a state visit to Malaysia in July 2003.

Last year, the bilateral trade between Malaysia and France increased by 6.3 per cent year-on-year to RM15.23 billion, and France was Malaysia’s fourth largest trading partner within the European Union countries.

–BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR – President Francois Hollande’s state visit to Malaysia will draw more French companies to invest in the country, said International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.

He said currently there are at least 270 French companies operating businesses in Malaysia, with an investment value of RM15 billion and in sectors that include manufacturing, services and finance.

“France is a country with a huge investment in Malaysia and also a strong superpower.

KUALA LUMPUR – The Health Ministry is investigating on claims of 10 fake stevia products sold in the market.

Its director-general, Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, said this followed a newspaper report on laboratory tests conducted on the products concerned by two universities.

According to the report, tests conducted by Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia and Universiti Putra Malaysia found that the products did not contain plant extract, but a combination of chemicals which are hazardous to health.

“The ministry is investigating the matter to ascertain the products comply with food laws.

“Regulation 118A of the Food Regulations 1985, Food Act 1983, has set the standards for stevia extract products,” he said in a media statement here today.

Stevia extract is a type of natural sweetener which is extracted from the leaves of the Stevia Rebaudiana Bertoni plant which contains steviol glycosides and processed into white to light yellow powder, has no smell and has a sweet taste.

It can be used to replace the ordinary sugar, especially those with diabetes.

Citing Section 13 of the Food Act 1983, Noor Hisham said it was an offence for anyone to import, distribute, keep or sell food that contains dangerous poison or is hazardous to health, including stevia products.

He said those found guilty faced a fine of not exceeding RM100,000 or imprisonment of up to 10 years, or both.

He said consumers with any inquiries on food safety could contact the State Health Department or District Health office in their respective areas.

The can also do so at http://moh.spab.gov.my or www.facebook.com/bkkmhq, which is the website for the Health Ministry’s Food Safety and Quality Division. – BERNAMA

LAHAD DATU – The Malaysian authorities are in the process of bringing home three more Malaysians who were kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf militant group in July last year.

They are Jumadil Rahim, 24, Mohd Ridzuan Ismail, 33, and Fandy Bakran, 27.

Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCom) Commander Datuk DCP Wan Abd Bari Wan Abd Khalid said the trio were rescued by the Philippine security forces in an operation at Punay, in the Panglima Estino district in Sulu Province last night.

Last Thursday, Abdul Rahim Summas, 63, and Tayudin Anjut,45, were rescued by the Philippine security forces in the waters off Pata Island in Sulu.

Abdul Rahim and Tayudin are currently in Kuala Lumpur for medical treatment at the Selayang Hospital.

On July 18, last year, five Malaysians who were in a tug boat, ‘Serudong 3’ were kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf while in the waters off Dent Haven in Lahad Datu.

The ‘Serudong 3’ was found abandoned at the site. – BERNAMA

Selangor Sultan

SHAH ALAM – The Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah has expressed disappointment over the current political development said to be tainted with the spewing of hatred and slander.

He said the political landscape today should be based on real understanding, that a government should strive to achieve excellent governance for the development of the state and people.

“I wish to state that politics is not simply to hunt for power.

“It is unfortunate that politics today is tainted with hatred, anger, lies, misunderstanding between one another and racial intolerance,” he said when
opening the Fifth Session of the 13th Selangor State Legislative Assembly, here, today.

Accompanying the Sultan to the opening ceremony were Tengku Permaisuri Selangor, Tengku Permaisuri Norashikin; Raja Muda of Selangor, Tengku Amir Shah and Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali.

The Sultan also reminded the state government to lead with integrity, transparency, good governance and competent institutions in managing Selangor’s economic development in the future.

He said the economic fundamentals today were no longer focused on balance of payments and economic figures alone, but should encompass other factors such as integrity and transparency.

“I would be glad if the principles I have just stated could become the core practice of the state government to gain the confidence of investors to invest and maintain Selangor as a choice investment destination,” he said.

Sultan Sharafuddin also told the state government to diversify the state’s sources of income by finding new sources and not just rely on revenue from land.

On another development, the Sultan said all parties should act responsibly by not politicising the state’s water issue to the extent of sacrificing the interest of the people. – BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR – “We were treated like slaves and often threatened that we would be beheaded,” said two of the five Malaysian fishermen who were kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf militant group in July last year.

Tayudin Anjut, 45, and Abdul Rahim Summas, 63, recounted the harrowing moments soon after arriving at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in Sepang last night.

Together with three other Malaysian fishermen, Tayudin and Abdul Rahim were held captive by the militant group before they were saved by Philippine security forces in the south of the republic last Thursday.

Tayudin said their nightmare began when as the crew of a tug boat, they were taken by the Abu Sayyaf group in the waters of Dent Haven, off Lahad Datu on July 18 last year.

Tayudin and Abdul Rahim who now have health problems including not being able to walk and see properly, said they were often tortured like slaves and only given leftover food by the militants and had to drink sea water.

“We were ordered to cook for them, and they only gave us leftovers to eat…if there was nothing left over, then there would be no food for us.

“Our eyes were often covered and our hands tied…we were often moved from place to place at night in the jungles,” he said in tears to reporters, here, today.

Tayudin and Abdul Rahim met Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor to thank them personally for the government’s endless efforts to save them.

“We are very grateful to the Malaysian government and the Philippine authorities for saving us. During the eight months (in captivity), we never gave up hope and believed that we would be saved one day,” he said.

Tayudin said last Thursday, he and Abdul Rahim were taken by villagers in a boat before they were handed over to the Philippine authorities.

“That night, we did not know that we were being saved, just like our three friends,” he said.

Tayudin said he and Abdul Rahim were still traumatised, and had to use wheelchairs as they were unable to walk after being tortured. Both are still being treated at Selayang Hospital before they are allowed to return to Sabah.

They also have bladder problems resulting from being forced to drink sea water.

The two men together with their family members were at the prime minister’s residence in Jalan Taman Duta here with Kelab Putera 1Malaysia president Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim.

Tayudin was welcomed back by his wife Rustia Sultan, 47, and their children, Nurerin Farisha, 13, and Mohd Fahirin, 5, while Abdul Rahim was met by his daughter Rasniyati, 40, and several other family members, who all could not hold back their tears when they met.

Tayudin said the kidnappers allowed them to contact their families several times, but each time, they also threatened to kill them.

Abdul Rahim who also suffers from high blood pressure, was weak and complained of pain throughout his body, saying he could not see clearly.

At 9.30am today, ESSCom commander Datuk Wan Abdul Bari Wan Abdul Khalid confirmed that the three other men who were kidnapped, Fandy Bakran, 27, Mohd Jumadil Rahim, 24, and Mohd Ridzuan Ismail, 33, were saved last night. – BERNAMA