Washington yesterday hailed Malaysia’s promotion of religious moderation, pledging its “whole-hearted” endorsement of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s call for a Global Movement of Moderates (GMM).
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said the United States stood behind Malaysia in its stand that moderates should not lose out to extremism as it was not the path to building sustainability and stability, as well as peace and democracy.
“Extremism promotes only conflict and hardens hearts.
“We very much welcome the prime minister’s call for a global movement of moderates and we are eager to support him and urge other leaders to take up his call to promote interfaith dialogues,” Clinton said at a joint press conference with Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman at Wisma Putra.
Najib had, at the United Nations general assembly in September, called for the GMM, which aims to rally Muslim leaders and intellectuals to state their stand against extremism.
Clinton said the recognition of Malaysia as a global “thought leader” and a “model nation to the world” by the administration of US President Barack Obama, made the US enthusiastic about building on its ties with the country.
Kuala Lumpur and Washington, she said, shared strong partnerships that were based on common values, including respect for cultural diversity, pluralism and religious tolerance, aside from crucial trade, investment and business ties.
Washington also endorsed Malaysia’s leadership in the region’s economy, saying its role for greater economic growth was “absolutely essential”.
“Since day one of administration, Obama and I have made it a priority to re-engage with Asia Pacific as we knowthat much of the history of 21st century will be written in this region because it is the centre of so many of the world’s biggest opportunities and challenges.
“The US is committed to strengthening its ties and we are particularly enthusiastic about deepening, broadening and strengthening our relationship with Malaysia.
“We are also exploring to connect ties around the world but in particular we are very committed to expanding people-to-people engagements between the US and Malaysia.”
She later paid a courtesy call on Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is standing in for Najib, who has chickenpox.
Clinton, who earlier had a telephone conversation with Najib, also said Obama admired Najib’s vision for improving the English language through new partnerships, adding that Malaysia and the US could also improve their people-to-people ties through education and student exchanges.
“We have already begun delivering the prime minister’s vision by doubling programmes that help young Malaysians get access to high-quality after-school English programmes.
“The foreign minister (Anifah) and I agreed that our teams will begin discussing how to further expand English language learning.”
She commended Kuala Lumpur for helping Afghans rebuild their lives, especially through the deployment of aid missions that include women doctors.
On her trip, Clinton said she had been very excited about coming over and likened her visit to an appetiser.
Women should change their mindset and aim for a higher degree of success, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, wife of the prime minister, said yesterday. “This is to ensure that women are continuing meeting the challenges at both the local and global level.”
Rosmah said as the only constant in life is change, women should hold this as their mantra.
“Change is no longer a choice, but a requirement in order to remain with the quickly shifting times.”
She was speaking at the KWAP Leadership Series on women and leadership organised by the Retirement Fund Incorporated.
She said women must be creative and do away with the norm and think out of the box.
“They must seek opportunities to form strategic alliances, smart partnership and strong networking in order to strengthen their positions so that their voices will continue to be heard,” Rosmah said.
She urged women not to be discouraged by the challenges they are facing along the leadership journey.
“Women should remain focused and not get distracted easily by criticisms.
“Try to look at it as a job hazard and remember that all these challenges will ultimately make women better leaders.”
The floods in Kedah claimed the lives of two young sisters yesterday, bringing the total number of fatalities in the state to four since Monday.
The situation in Perlis is still precarious with two-thirds of the state inundated by floodwaters, while in Kelantan it is easing up.
To date, however, more than 33,000 victims are being housed in relief centres in the three states.
The two latest victims — Siti Nadia Syukur, 13, and Sharipah, 8 — were believed to have drowned after they fell off a motorcycle, ridden by a neighbour, into an irrigation canal in Kampung Telaga Emas, Langgar in Pokok Sena about noon.
The neighbour, Intan Malik, 14, also fell into the canal but she held on to a tree and was saved by villagers.
The two earlier victims were identified as a 64-year-old German woman, Erna Fischer, who drowned in Kampung Kota Giam near Jitra on Monday night and schoolboy, Mohd Zaki Shaari, 13, who fell into a pond in Kampung Charok Bongor on Tuesday.
Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Azizan Abdul Razak said the number of evacuees in Kedah and Perlis was rising.
This was despite clear skies over the past two days and the Meteorolo gical Department lifting the red alert status for the states in both states on Tuesday.
Azizan said residents in Kedah, es pecially in low-lying areas, should brace for the worst.
He said the “very bad” situation in Kedah — in the districts of Kubang Pasu, Padang Terap, Kota Setar and Pokok Sena — was compounded by high sea tides.
But he expressed relief that Federal and state government agencies, as well as non-governmental organisations, had been quick in providing relief to the victims.
“The state government has ap proved a RM300,000 allocation for flood relief efforts.”
Perlis Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Md Isa Sabu said about two-thirds of the state were still remained under water, including several relief centres.
“The floods are worse than in 2005,” he said, adding that five years ago, only 19,000 victims were evacuated in both states.
The floods this time had caused the closure of the North-South Express way in Changlun, Kedah, since Monday.
Power and water supplies to four districts were also disrupted with Kota Setar being the hardest hit.
Offices and eateries, especially food stalls in both states, have yet to resume business since Monday.
Bottled water is also quickly running out of stock at most supermarkets and hypermarkets.
The Sultan Abdul Halim Airport near here had been closed since Tuesday when the runway was inundated.
At press time, Kubang Pasu recorded the highest number of evacuees at 15,275; Padang Terap at 3,993; Kota Setar at 4,543; and Pokok Sena at 823.
Fifty-five schools have been closed in Kedah, Perlis and Kelantan
The family of murdered victim Datuk Sosilawati Lawiya has filed a suit agst N. Pathmanabhan and five others claiming for damages amounting to RM60 million over her wrongful death. The suit was filed at the Shah Alam High Court registry through Messrs Kamarudin & Partners at 8.45am today.
Sosilawati's children Erni Dekritawati Yuliana, Erwan Suwari Rizuwan, Md Erwan Nasri, Erni Erinawati Sofia, Erni Rineelawati and Siti Nur Fatimah named N. Pathmanabhan, R.Kathavarayan, R.Matan, T. Thilaiyalagan, K. Sarawanan, and U. Suresh as respondents.
The respondents were charged over her murder.
Pathmanabhan and his farm hands Kathavarayan, Matan and Thilaiyalagan were charged with murdering the cosmetic queen while Sarawanan and Suresh were charged with disposing of evidence.
The two were sentenced to seven years jail for the offence.
The plaintiffs are claiming for RM20 million in general damages and RM40 million in exemplary damages.
The victim who lost both his legs in the Genting Sempah bus crash said the bus was in a bad condition from the start. Adip Ramli, 20, said the bus could hardly move at certain stretches. “When we passed Grik, we felt the bus might break down anytime. We heard all sorts of noises,” he said at Kuala Lumpur Hospital yesterday.
He was saddened with the irresponsible attitude of the bus company. “First, they hire a bus driver with no licence and then they give us an old bus,” he said.
He also hoped stern action would be taken against the bus company and the driver. During the accident, he said he heard all his seven friends who died screaming. The first-year architecture student hopes to pursue his studies to keep his mind occupied. His mother, Zainab Abdullah, 56, was in tears when she said she will look after her son. The housewife has nine children and Adip is the seventh. Next to his bed was the driver of the bus which crashed on Oct 29. Nurses at the unit said the driver had gone into depression. His wife was also with him to keep his mind occupied while waiting for psychiatric treatment. They added that all the victims were “traumatised by the incident” and would be sent for counselling sessions to help them cope. Meanwhile, the Commercial Vehicles Licensing Board has started a probe on the bus company.
CVLB chairman Datuk Halimah Sadique said the bus, with registration plate RC 9863, belonged to Taipan Suria Sdn Bhd.
“We will look at how the company manages its drivers, vehicles and journey timetable.” The results will be presented to an Enquiry Committee on Road Accidents on Nov 8.
Baling Umno division chief Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim bertanya asking Dr Fadlina Mohtar (right) about the condition of accident victim Mohd Adid Ramli ’s amputated legs at Kuala Lumpur Hospital yesterday. Adid’s legs were amputated from the knee onward.
The driver of the bus that crashed at a Genting slip road on Friday apologised unreservedly to the victims and their families for causing so much grief.
"I am so sorry and I wish I could undo what had happened," the 36-year-old said from his hospital bed in Hospital Kuala Lumpur, yesterday.
Speaking to reporters with his 35-year-old wife by his side, the driver looked remorseful and became teary when relating the incident.
He said he had been a driver for the last five years despite having no driving licence.
He said he was blacklisted by the Road Transport Department (RTD) about 10 years ago for owning a lesen terbang (illegally obtained licence).
Desperation drove the father of three to continue driving, despite his wife's objections, when he failed to land a job after a motorcycle accident in 2006.
The man, who said he had not driven for a month prior to the accident, claimed that a friend persuaded him to take the job as the latter was too tired from his recent driving stint.
He was to be paid RM120 for the trip to Genting Highlands and Kuala Lumpur.
"Everyone in the bus started praying when the bus went out of control."
The driver broke the right leg and is due for surgery today. He also received 15 stitches on the forehead.
He has been remanded for four days, since Saturday, to facilitate investigations.
Putera 1Malaysia Club president Datuk Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim, who visited the victims yesterday, said the tragedy could have been avoided if the bus company had been responsible.
Azeez said the company was at fault for using a bus that was not roadworthy and for hiring a driver without a driving licence.
"We want the authorities to take severe action against the company for allowing this to happen.
"We have engaged a lawyer to sue the company for negligence," said Azeez, who is also the Baling Umno division chief.
He also paid tribute to ustaz Mohd Zaidi Mohd Sufian, 28, who was also killed in the incident, saying he was "an active man who always thought of others".
"We heard he had asked rescuers to help others first before attending to him, even though both his legs were pinned under the body of the bus. That was how selfless he was."
The chartered bus was ferrying 43 youths, aged between 14 and 25, from several villages in Baling, Kedah, on an educational trip.
The youths were members of Pusat Belia 4B from Kampung Siong.
At 7pm on Friday, the entourage left Genting Highlands for Kampung Melayu Subang to participate in a homestay programme.
At 7.50pm, the bus skidded and hit a divider on the Genting slip road about 300m from the Karak Highway.
Seven people were killed while at least 17 others suffered severe injuries and were admitted to nearby hospitals. There were 46 people in the bus, including the driver and the co-driver