Economist: No tax cut in budget

By Wong Sai Wan and Mergawati Zulfakar, The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Major political, social and security reforms are among the highlights of Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak‘s Merdeka/Malaysia Day speech that will be aired on private and public TV channels live tonight.

The Prime Minister is expected to announce measures that will make it less restrictive for people to express themselves and those who have seen the speech say that it “will redefine the political landscape of Malaysia”.

“This is all about the democratic process. This is what the people have been clamouring for. The Govern-ment is listening to them.

“And it is all about the transformation process by the Government. We already have the Government and economic transformations. This is now the time for political transformation in line with current global developments,” said a source.

Najib is expected to make announcements on laws and practices that are deemed draconian and undemocratic by the people, including the Internal Security Act (ISA) and the Emergency Ordinance.

While senior aides said that the ISA would not be repealed, they said Najib would announce measures to “update” it, including on the length of the detention period.

In what can be seen as an answer to criticisms on the Government’s handling of the Bersih 2.0 rally, Najib is also expected to announce measures to relax control on the freedom of expression and the right to assemble.

A government official said the recent announcement of the formation of the parliamentary select committee to improve the electoral process was part of the reform process.

The Government is also expected to introduce reforms for media practitioners, including on censorship and the need for them to renew their permits annually.

“The Government needs to move on with the times and do ourselves a favour without having to control publications,” said another source.

Home Ministry deputy secretary-general (security) Datuk Abdul Rahim Mohamad Radzi said on Tuesday that the Government would be more open towards media practitioners by getting their feedback due to the changing global landscape and rapid information technology development.

He had said the ministry would also be studying legislation in other countries regarding demonstrations and assemblies, taking into consideration civil liberties as well as national security.

Information, Communications and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Rais Yatim said the Prime Minister’s address would be televised at 8.45pm.

“He will be speaking in front of about 800 people comprising Cabinet ministers, senior government officers, members of Barisan Nasional component parties and non-governmental organisations at Auditorium Perdana, Angkasapuri.

“He is expected to stress on key issues concerning major changes deemed crucial for the Government and the country,” he said after chairing a post-Cabinet meeting at his ministry at Wisma TV, Angkasapuri, here yesterday.