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Ahmad Zahid Hamidi

KLUANG – Malaysia’s effort in helping convicts through rehabilitation process in prison, especially in reducing the rate of recidivists is recognised by the international community, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

He said the rate of recidivists, or people who continued to commit crimes even after being caught and punished, in the country last year was at 8.59 per cent.

“Although we are still not satisfied with this achievement, it is recognised by the international community.

“There are several developed countries where their recidivist rate are more than 50 per cent, meaning convicts who left the prison after going through rehabilitation and punishment continue to commit crimes after that, not in Malaysia, Alhamdulillah,” he said.

Ahmad Zahid said efforts would continue to be made to further reduce the recidivist rate by improving existing rehabilitation modules.

He said this when opening the National Prisons and Anti-Drug Day at the Simpang Renggam Prison near here today. – BERNAMA

KUALA TERENGGANU – Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said Malaysian leaders would remain rational in facing the tension with North Korea.

By doing so, the Deputy Prime Minister said he and other government leaders hoped to avoid further provocation on both sides.

He urged Malaysians to be united for the sake of security and peace in the country.

“The people must stay united regardless of political differences, religion or race for the sake of security and to ensure that our country remains peaceful,” he said.

He said this while opening the Terengganu UMNO branch-level cluster conference here today.

Nine Malaysians who are attached with the Malaysian Embassy in Pyongyang, together with their families are still in North Korea after being barred from leaving the country.

Malaysia reacted by imposing the same restrictions on North Koreans living in the country.

The row ignited following disagreements over certain issues in regard to the remains of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s brother Kim Jong-nam, who was murdered at Klia2 on Feb 13. – BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR – Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi today received a courtesy call from his Somalian counterpart, Mohamed Omer Arteh, at his office in Parliament building, here.

At the half-hour meeting, both leaders discussed various matters related to Malaysia-Somalia ties.

According to a statement issued by the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office, the meeting breathed new life and further strengthened bilateral relations between the two countries in the areas of trade, investment, defence and education.

Besides that, both leaders were also expected to discuss regional and international issues of common interest to both countries, it said.

Mohamed Omer is on a personal working visit to Malaysia from March 9 until tomorrow. This is also his first visit to Malaysia since being appointed as Somalia’s deputy prime minister in February 2015.

Trade between Malaysia and Somalia was recorded at RM344 million last year involving export of machinery, items and equipment, metals, electrical and
electronic goods, chemicals, timber products, minerals, iron, steel and petroleum.

There are also 1,531 Somalian students studying in Malaysia, with 715 of them enrolled at public universities and 816 at private institutions of higher education.

Meanwhile, 16 Somalian officers are participating in the Malaysia Technical Cooperation Programme since 2016.

In a separate statement, the Deputy Prime Minister’s Office said Malaysia would be channelling humanitarian aid such as food and medicines to Somalia through non-governmental organisations and political parties in this country.

Malaysia is also prepared to cooperate with the World Food Programme of the United Nations in assisting Somalia deal with its food crisis following the drought problem in that country since three years ago.

“Malaysia will also consider providing micro credit assistance to the hardcore poor and low-income group in that country,” the statement said. – BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR – Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi received a courtesy call from the outgoing Vietnamese ambassador to Malaysia, Pham Cao Phong in his office at the Parliament House today.

It was his farewell visit to Ahmad Zahid.

Pham is scheduled to return to Vietnam on March 16 after ending his two-and-a-half years term here.

The Home Ministry, in a statement, said the Deputy Prime Minister expressed his appreciation to Pham for the initiatives, efforts and cooperation extended throughout his tenure in the country.

According to the statement, both parties agreed to further strengthen the existing bilateral relations.

Malaysia and Vietnam had established diplomatic relations since March 30, 1973 and the relationship can be described as comprehensive and substantive.

Both countries currently enjoy friendly relations and cooperation in various sectors such as trade and investment, education, security, defence and close relationship between citizens.

Meanwhile, the Vietnamese government was still in the process of nominating Pham’s successor, the statement said. – BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia prohibits any officials and staff at the North Korean embassy here from leaving the country in a directive that takes effect immediately.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the measure was taken in response to the directive from North Korea’s Foreign Ministry which
banned Malaysians residing in North Korea from leaving that country.

“The Home Ministry through the Immigration Department has issued the directive with immediate effect that no officers or staff in the North Korean embassy are allowed to leave from all the country’s exit points.

“We don’t intend to have any retaliation but this must be done when a country that has diplomatic relations with Malaysia takes action outside the diplomatic etiquettes and convention,” he told reporters at Parliament lobby here today.

He said Malaysia had to take similar action because they (North Korea) had manipulated the murder case which occurred at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (klia 2).

According to Ahmad Zahid, the people of that country, including tourists were not subjected to the directive.

“The people of North Korea, there is not problem but (prohibition is for) officials and staff who are at the North Korean embassy. We allow ordinary citizens,” he said.

He said his ministry was also in the process of obtaining information from the Foreign Ministry on the number of Malaysians currently in North Korea.

Malaysia, he said would take action based on the Geneva Convention as a measure to get Malaysian nationals still in that country.

“They cannot direct our citizen not to leave. We will take several actions based on the Geneva convention that jointly signed as countries with diplomatic ties,” he said. – BERNAMA

PUTRAJAYA: Visitors from North Korea to Malaysia will be required to apply for visas beginning March 6.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi (pic) said the move was for security purposes after taking into account recent developments involving citizens of that country.

“We will gazette this and visas for North Korean visitors are a must starting Monday,” he said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Dr Ahmad Zahid, who is also Home Minister, said he was waiting to be briefed by the ministry’s legal adviser and the Attorney-General’s Chambers on the status of the North Korean chemist held over the death of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

“We will know in the next few hours whether the man will be released or investigated under Immigration Act or be deported,” he said.

According to reports, North Korean Ri Jong-chol is expected to be released from police custody when his remand order expires Friday.

 

KUALA LUMPUR – Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the diversity in religion, culture and festivals celebrated by the local communities gave the people the edge to strengthen solidarity in the country.

He pointed out that solidarity and harmony were not mere rhetorics but should instead be translated with sincerity without any prejudice or negative perception among the people.

Speaking at the Thaipusam ceremony in Batu Caves here today, he said the differences in religion should not lead to any form of disturbances.

“Our nation was formed based on a plural society, and this diversity must be strengthened,” said the Deputy Prime Minister.

Meanwhile, Ahmad Zahid said the Thaipusam celebration in this country should be promoted as a tourism product to attract more tourists especially those from India and Hindu followers throughout world.

He said that Thaipusam was not merely a celebration that should be respected but it had also attracted about 1.5 million Hindu devotees and tourists to the temple in Batu Caves this year.

“I hope the Ministry of Tourism and Culture will organise promotions throughout the world on whatever events that we carried out here today,” he said.

On the part of the government, he said, the cabinet had decided that Indian nationals working abroad be given visa exemption to visit Malaysia.

He said that this also involved about 500,000 nationals of that country working in Qatar who could benefit from this opportunity to visit Malaysia.

Ahmad Zahid said with this facility, it was hoped that more Indian nationals and Hindu devotees would visit this country and make a trip to Batu Caves especially during the Thaipusam.

He added that efforts to woo more visitors to come to Batu Caves were not only placed on the shoulders of the Ministry of Tourism and Culture alone but also involved everyone including the management of the Batu Caves temple.

“All visitors who came here can help in promoting the Thaipusam celebration as a tourism product,” he said.

Also present during Ahmad Zahid’s visit were MIC president cum Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam, Senate President Datuk S.A. Vigneswaran, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri S.K. Devamany and Deputy Education Minister Datuk P. Kamalanathan. – BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR – Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi will make a four-day official visit to Qatar from today, to further enhance close relations between the two countries.

According to a statement from the Foreign Ministry, the visit would also provide an excellent opportunity for the leaders of both countries to discuss various issues of mutual interest, particularly in security cooperation.

Ahmad Zahid, who is also Home Minister, is scheduled to have an audience with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani and call on Prime Minister and Interior Minister of Qatar, Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al-Thani.

Ahmad Zahid will also visit the National Command Centre and Planned Community Projects in Lusail City, Doha, and Hamad International Airport, as well as meet with the Malaysian diaspora in Qatar. – BERNAMA

LUNDU (SARAWAK) – Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahamd Zahid Hamidi said it was neither the trend nor policy of the BN to allow the wife of any BN elected representative who died in office to replace their husband as the candidate in a by-election.

“We did our studies and the findings indicated that the wife who has been proposed to replace the late husband enjoys very strong support on the ground.

“Thus it is not necessary that the wife should replace the husband. We based our choice on support from the ground and the chances of winning,” he said.

He told the media this after joining state BN leaders in sending BN candidate for the Tanjong Datu by-election Datuk Amar Jamilah Anu to the nomination centre at Lundu District Office hall here.

Joining him were Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg and Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Aman and other federal and state cabinet members.

“In the case of Jamilah, we also did the studies and came up with the same finding. This also happened in two other earlier by-elections.

The decision to nominate her was made by both state and federal BN leaders,” he said.

Zahid agreed with a reporter’s suggestion that it was one way to increase the number of women representatives at state and national level.

Meanwhile, he expressed confidence that Jamilah, 61, would deliver the seat to the BN.

“She can continue the excellent legacy of her husband the late Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem.

We are confident too that the voters will continue to support the BN and the new state leadership under Abang Johari.

“Our candidate Jamilah will get the full support of the voters despite her being challenged by two others,” he said.

He said the BN would fulfill all promises made by the late Adenan and all development projects planned would be implemented.

Zahid said the BN machinery under Abang Johari and Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar as director of operation would work hard to ensure Jamilah’s victory: “Sabah BN’s machinery under Musa will help as well.”

Jamilah is being challenged by Rapelson Richard Hamit from PBDS Baru and Johnny Aput from STAR.

The Election Commission has fixed Feb 12 for early voting and Feb 18 as polling day. – BERNAMA

PUTRAJAYA – A government pioneer project to enable the Rohingya refugees in Malaysia to be legally employed will begin on March 1, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

He said that initially about 300 Rohingya holding the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) cards who had undergone security and health screening would be emplaced in selected companies in the plantation and manufacturing sectors.

“They will be able to gain skills and income to make a living before being relocated to a third country,” he said in a media statement after chairing a meeting of the high-level committee on UNHCR issues at Perdana Putra here today.

Ahmad Zahid, who is also Home Minister, said the initiative to allow the Rohingya to be employed would help address the human trafficking issue more effectively.

Thus far, he said, the absence of an immigration status for the Rohingya had made them vulnerable to exploitation as forced labour and illegal workers in the country.

Ahmad Zahid said that as of Dec 31, 2016, there were 149,474 UNHCR card holders from 62 countries in Malaysia. Of the total, 133,517 or 89 per cent were from Myanmar and 55,565 of them were Rohingya.

He also said that the government was always looking for the best approach to manage UNHCR card holders even though Malaysia was not a party to the United Nations Convention on Refugees 1951 and its 1967 Protocol.

“The best approach is based on the humanitarian aspect expressed through government aid and support,” he said.

The other efforts included improving the National Security Council Directive No. 23 of 2009 regarding UNHCR card holders to ensure more orderly management of the card holders, he said.

He said the National Security Council was improving the directive to adapt it to current developments and the irregular movement of migrants in the Southasian region.

Ahmad Zahid said the National Blue Ocean Strategy approach was also used in managing refugee issues more effectively through the establishment of the Joint Task Force.

“This JTF involves the cooperation of six major ministries with the UNHCR to ensure that the UNHCR card holders are those duly authorised,” he said.

He said Malaysia always worked closely with the UNHCR as a lead agency handling refugees under the auspices of the United Nations.

— BERNAMA