Ahead of Agong interview, Azmin’s 11 voices unconditional support for Dr M

Datuk Seri Azmin Ali leaves Perdana Putra in Putrajaya February 25, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Datuk Seri Azmin Ali leaves Perdana Putra in Putrajaya February 25, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 25 — Gombak MP Datuk Seri Azmin Ali and the 10 other lawmakers in his team have once again voiced their unconditional support for Langkawi MP Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to remain as prime minister until the end of the 14th Parliamentary term.

In a statement today, the 11 MPs who have left PKR with Azmin said in a joint statement that they see the current development involving the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin interviewing all 222 members of Parliament as a “positive development”.

“We reiterate our unconditional support for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to complete his term in the 14th Parliament as the prime minister. We have firmly made our stance known in closed-door party meetings and in public.

“Our actions are based on the people’s aspirations who want stable, united and strong government focusing on the efforts to recover and develop a strong economy,” said the joint statement.

The group also stated that they are still waiting for the call from Istana Negara for their private interview with the King.

The co-signees other than Azmin are Ampang MP Zuraida Kamaruddin, Indera Mahkota MP Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, Selangau MP Baru Bian, Bandar Tun Razak MP Kamaruddin Jaffar, Nibong Tebal MP Datuk Mansor Othman, Batu Pahat MP Datuk Rashid Hasnon, Segamat MP Datuk Seri Dr Santhara Kumar, Saratok MP Ali Biju, Puncak Borneo MP Willie Mongin and Ranau MP Jonathan Yasin.

Over the weekend, Malaysia was rocked with multiple meetings involving the various political parties which culminated in the collapse of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administration when Dr Mahathir tendered his resignation as prime minister and as chairman of PPBM.

At the same time, Dr Mahathir’s party also abandoned the coalition, sounding the death knell for PH.

Azmin and his team had also left PKR as an independent bloc supporting Dr Mahathir.

Malaysia’s power struggle puts economy’s outlook at risk

Malaysia’s political uncertainty is expected to adversely affect the economy. (Reuters pic)

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s political upheaval is jeopardising the economy’s outlook at a time of heightened global risks and brewing discontent among locals about rising living costs.

The ruling coalition collapsed Monday amid a power struggle between 94-year-old Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and his planned successor. The political uncertainty is stalling economic policy, including a stimulus package that was due to be unveiled by Mahathir on Feb 27 to counter the coronavirus outbreak.

Even before the virus began disrupting trade and tourism flows and the current political crisis broke out, economic discontent has been slowly growing in Malaysia. Locals routinely complain about the rising cost of living, defying official data which shows inflation at its lowest level in a decade. And several recent studies show Malaysians are struggling to make ends meet.

“There are a lot of issues that are bugging a lot of people, especially the cost of living, unemployment, inflation,” said Ahmad Martadha Mohamed, a professor at Universiti Utara Malaysia in the northern state of Kedah. “These are the issues that are currently not being given enough attention by the government.”

Many people “see that whenever they go to the market the prices of goods are going up, purchasing power is becoming less, and younger people that graduated from university couldn’t find proper jobs and are complaining about being unemployed,” he said.

Consumer sentiment has been in recessionary mode through 2019 despite Mahathir raising minimum wages, rolling out blanket fuel subsidies and abolishing a goods and services tax. A weakening in consumer spending could further undermine economic growth – already at a decade low – and erode public support for an incoming government.

The cost of basic needs, unaffordable homes and a lack of job opportunities were Malaysians’ biggest concerns, replacing corruption and power abuse that were top of mind before the 2018 election, according to a Sept 5 to Oct 10 survey by Emir Research, an independent think-tank based in Kuala Lumpur.

In a survey published by Elsevier Inc in November, 82.3% of respondents said living costs are rising, with the poorest 40% – who typically spend more of their monthly income on food compared to wealthier households – feeling it most acutely.

The actual cost of living can vary by almost 70% depending on where a person lives, according to a World Bank report. Based on its calculations, a household in rural Sabah has to earn about RM4,300 a month to reach the same standard of living that RM3,000 will buy in rural Kelantan.

Economic pressures

Homes remain unaffordable for many Malaysians, with the World Bank estimating that cumulative salaries and wages increased 59% from 2010 to 2018, while house prices surged 87%.

A new government will need to respond to these pressures as well as address more immediate threats from the coronavirus. Economists have been downgrading 2020 growth forecasts for Malaysia, with Fitch Solutions predicting 3.7% expansion, down from an earlier projection of 4.5%. The central bank cut its benchmark rate in January and signalled more easing to come.

“The political uncertainty bodes poorly for the economy,” said Gareth Leather, an economist at Capital Economics Ltd in London. “Due to the size of its tourism industry and its close links with Chinese supply chains, Malaysia stands to be one of the countries in the region hit hardest by the measures the Chinese government has taken to contain the spread of the coronavirus.”

Perak MB: State govt to function as usual

Perak MB Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu said he will still continue to carry out the duty and responsibility as the State Mentri Besar. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Perak MB Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu said he will still continue to carry out the duty and responsibility as the State Mentri Besar. — Picture by Hari Anggara

IPOH, Feb 25 — Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu today said that the Perak government is functioning as usual despite the current political developments taking place at the federal government.

Ahmad Faizal said he will still continue to carry out the duty and responsibility as the State Mentri Besar.

He also said that all the state committee chairmen will resume duties as usual.

“We still have the majority support from the state assemblymen,” he said in a statement today.

Ahmad Faizal added that he had met and informed the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah about the country and state political development yesterday.

“I urge the public to have the understanding to assist the ongoing efforts to resolve the current political turmoil in the country in order to enable the government to focus on the development efforts for the benefit of the people. 

“May God Almighty give us guidance to enable us to find the best solution for the people and the country,” he said.

Yesterday, Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced the party’s departure from Pakatan Harapan (PH) a move that effectively ended the coalition’s hold on power.

With Bersatu exit, the Perak PH coalition now consists of 18 DAP assemblymen, six Amanah assemblymen and four PKR assemblymen.

However, despite the exit, it is learnt that Ahmad Faizal still gets the support from the PH coalition parties to be the Mentri Besar.

While there is also no change of decision from Bersatu assemblyman Datuk Zainol Fadzi Paharudin together with independent candidate Datuk Nolee Ashilin Mohammed Radzi who had initially pledged to support Ahmad Faizal as the Mentri Besar.

This maintains the status-qou in Perak State Legislative Assembly with PH getting a simple majority of 31 seats while the Opposition, which consists of Umno and PAS has only 28 seats, with 25 seats belonging to Umno and three seats from PAS.

Super-high heels free women, insists shoe designer Louboutin

Legendary French shoe designer Christian Louboutin says towering six-inch stilettos are a ‘form of liberty’. (Rawpixel pic)

PARIS: Super-high heels can free women, says legendary French shoe designer Christian Louboutin, who insists that wearing his towering six-inch stilettos is a “form of liberty”.

While some feminists see vertiginous heels as sexual enslavement, Louboutin believes the opposite – even if it means women have to walk slowly and carefully in his iconic red-soled creations.

“Women do not want to give up wearing high heels,” the designer told AFP before “The Exhibitionist”, a retrospective of his 30-year career, opens in a Paris museum Wednesday.

While Louboutin also makes trainers and flat shoes, he admitted that when it comes to the spike-heeled classics that made his name: “I don’t think about comfort when I design.”

“No shoe with a 12cm (5 inch) heel is comfortable… but people do not come to me looking for a pair of slippers,” said Louboutin, who helped bring high heels back into fashion in the 1990s and 2000s.

They are not meant to be worn all the time, but super high heels allow women to express themselves and break free of crushing norms, he said.

“To be a woman is also about enjoying one’s freedom to be feminine if you want. Why renounce (high heels) when you can have them and flats,” he said.

Not meant to be comfy

“I don’t want people to look at my shoes and say: ‘They look really comfortable!’ The important thing is that people say: ‘Wow, they’re beautiful!’”

Even if they can only totter around in their Louboutins, that is no bad thing, he told AFP.

If the shoes “stop you running”, that is something “positive”, he added.

Having learnt his art under Roger Vivier, the man who claimed to have invented the stiletto, Louboutin became a household name in the 1990s after Princess Caroline of Monaco fell for one of his first solo creations.

Pop stars from Madonna to Tina Turner and Jennifer Lopez were soon competing with half of Hollywood for fittings.

But even as some luxury brands like Dior, led by feminist designer Maria Grazia Chiuri, have taken an axe to towering heels, Louboutin insisted they still had their place.

“People project themselves and their stories into my shoes,” he said, pointing to a particularly high pair of intricate lace boots called Corset d’Amour, embroidered with scenes of love-making.

Louboutin revealed his life-long fascination with heels was sparked when he was 10 years old and saw a sign banning the shoes at the Palais de la Porte Doree – the museum now holding his retrospective.

“I started to draw them because of that sign,” he said, which was put up to save the museum’s parquet floors.

Forbidden pleasures

“I think the fact that high heels were forbidden played on the unconscious… there was also the mystery and the fetishistic side… the simple drawing of a high-heeled shoe is often associated with sexuality,” he added.

Louboutin also credited the sign with plunging him into “the universe of curves” which was to shape his art.

And he insisted that his art was not just about making heels higher and higher.

He has also been working on making his shoes disappear into the wearer’s leg in a series which he calls Les Nudes – in a variety of skin colours – as well as designs which lengthen the leg.

Other highlights of the often cheeky show, which runs until July 28, include a hologram of a shoe that turns into the burlesque star Dita Von Teese as well a series of Louboutin-sporting nudes shot by the American film director David Lynch.

Louboutin rejoices in the fact that his shoes have now become so iconic that his name has become a shorthand for luxury and sexiness, popping up in rap songs, films and books.

“Pop culture is neither controlled or controllable, so I am very happy about that,” he added.

Timor Leste PM quits after coalition collapse

TIMOR Leste’s prime minister today said he was quitting after a political coalition that supported him collapsed, setting up the tiny Southeast Asian nation for another round of instability.

Taur Matan Ruak – a one-time guerilla fighter in the former Portuguese colony later annexed by Indonesia – said he had filed a resignation letter to President Francisco Guterres, citing a “political impasse”.

Duplantis misses third pole-vault world record in 15 days

Armand Duplantis narrowly missed improving on his world record by 2cm. (AP pic)

CLERMONT-FERRAND: Armand Duplantis just clipped the bar on Sunday when he attempted to break the pole vault world record for a third straight weekend.

After jumping 6.01m to win the “All Star Perche” competition in Clermont, Duplantis had the bar raised to 6.19m.

The Swede had broken the old world record on Feb 8 with a jump of 6.17m in Poland.

He then added a centimetre in Glasgow last Saturday. On Sunday, he tried to add another centimetre.

“Make some noise,” he asked some 5,000 spectators before setting off.

He failed twice with a stiffer pole than he used to set his two records, before returning to the old one and narrowly failing.

“This winter I managed to improve a little bit everywhere, now the winter season is over for me, I couldn’t conclude it in a better way”, he said.

Duplantis, who is nicknamed ‘Mondo’, said he asked event host and former Olympic champion Renaud Lavillenie for advice.

“He enlightened me on a few details.”

Lavillenie had held the world record of 6.16m since 2014 until Duplantis broke it two weeks ago.

On Sunday, the Frenchman cleared 5.94m, his best jump in almost two years.

He said that early in the competition, struggling to get past 5.87m, he was worried that he would be humiliated.

“I gave ‘Mondo’ some advice but above all I was afraid of getting beaten by 30 cm. In the end, it was only 7 cm and frankly, that feels good.”

Duplantis is just 20. Lavillenie is 13 years his senior.

“He’s only five years old!” joked the Frenchman.

“But at the moment he’s the best in the world at pole vaulting.”

In the women’s competition, American Sandi Morris cleared 4.80m to win before failing at 4.93m.

PKR buang Azmin Ali, Zuraida Kamaruddin

KUALA LUMPUR: PKR hari ini memecat keahlian Timbalan Presiden Mohamed Azmin Ali dan Naib Presiden Zuraida Kamaruddin berkuatkuasa serta-merta.

Majlis pimpinan pusat parti itu mencapai keputusan itu “sebulat suara” dalam mesyuarat khas yang bersidang hari ini.

Setiausaha Agung Saifuddin Nasution Ismail berkata mesyuarat khas hari ini membincangkan peristiwa yang berlaku di sebuah hotel semalam.

“Telah berlaku satu pengkhianatan terbuka oleh beberapa watak dalang utama yang jelas bercanggah dengan pendirian parti dalam perkara berkenaan kedudukan perdana menteri.

“Akibat pengkhianatan terbuka, ianya menyebabkan keadaan yang boleh menjejaskan kerajaan Pakatan Harapan.

“Majlis pimpinan pusat atas keputusan secara sebulat suara mengambil ketetapan Azmin dan Zuraida terpecat atau dipecat sebagai ahli berkuatkuasa serta-merta,” katanya pada sidang media hari ini.

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