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=MALAYSIA PRESS: News Headlines On Wednesday, February 14

KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 14) -- Here’s a roundup of local news:

*Malaysia's opposition files objections to proposed new vote boundaries

Malaysia’s opposition and an election watchdog submitted objections on Tuesday to the redrawing of some constituency boundaries, which they said would favor Prime Minister Najib Razak in a general election due by August. The Election Commission is reviewing electoral boundaries for more than half of Malaysia’s 222 parliamentary seats. Opponents of the redrafting say it is unconstitutional and could skew voting in favor of Najib’s ruling coalition, the Barisan Nasional. The government denies the accusation. - Reuters

*Malaysia's Najib deploys policy firepower in duel with Mahathir

For Mahathir Mohamad, visibility is half the battle. Malaysia's nonagenarian former prime minister and current opposition leader is making a point of appearing in public these days, hoping to reconnect with the country's 15 million registered voters and overcome his political camp's limited resources. On a recent outing to the cinema, he watched "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" with his wife, Siti Hasmah Ali. The next election must be held by August, but it is likely to be called much earlier. So Mahathir is swinging into campaign mode. He takes questions on weekly Facebook webcasts, in an effort to reach younger voters. Even after he was hospitalized with a chest infection on Friday, the feisty 92-year-old tweeted a photo of himself in hospital garb and a sarong, writing: "Taking a short break. The fight will go on." - Nikkei Asian Review

*Great Eastern looking at IPO, sale of stake in Malaysia

Great Eastern has started the process to reduce its stake in its Malaysian unit, says its chief executive officer Khor Hock Seng. Khor said at a briefing on Tuesday the listed insurer was looking at both the initial public offer and sale of stake as options. He was also quoted saying Great Eastern would like to be among top 10 life insurers in Indonesia over the next five years and it was open to expanding through acquisitions or organic growth. On the Indonesian market, Khor said Great Eastern will put "a lot of focus and emphasis on". - The Star

*Alibaba's 'Digital Free Trade Zone' has some worried about China links to Malaysia

An Alibaba-led digital trade zone in Malaysia, which is part of Beijing's ambitious infrastructure project, is expected to boost trade between Southeast Asia and China, but some fear it could hurt Malaysian firms. The "Digital Free Trade Zone," or DFTZ, is designed to make cross-region shipments more affordable for Malaysian small and medium-sized companies - the majority of businesses in the country. A core element of the scheme is an electronic world trade platform which is designed to ease trade between Malaysian and Chinese firms. The virtual platform, due to take effect in 2019, will connect businesses, manage cargo authorizations and assist on customs. A brick-and-mortar facility in the Malaysian capital will also help with logistics. - CNBC

*Ranhill eyes overseas opportunities, as profits jump

Ranhill Holdings said it has started talks to expand its water treatment and electricity generation business overseas to boost growth, as earnings surged in the fourth quarter ended Dec 31. Net profit rose 69% to RM22.45mil, the company said in a filing with Bursa Malaysia on Tuesday, despite a slight drop in revenue to RM372.5mil. The improved performance boosted its full year earnings to RM77.86mil, or 8.76 sen a share. - The Star

*Axiata estimates RM151.5m loss on dilution of stake in Idea

Axiata Group said a dilution of its shareholding in its Indian associate Idea Cellular Ltd is expected to result in an estimated loss on dilution of RM151.5 million for the financial year ending Dec 31, 2018. The dilution of equity interest to 18.1% from 19.7% resulted from Axiata’s decision not to participate in a preferential issuance of Idea shares recently. The preferential issuance was part of Idea’s capital-raising exercise to facilitate its merger with Vodafone India Ltd. Idea is India’s third largest wireless operator, while Vodafone is the country’s second biggest telco. - The Edge Markets

*Mustapa to meet Proton dealers, vendors

The government is concerned about the challenges faced by Proton Holdings’ dealers and vendors, said Minister of International Trade and Industry, Mustapa Mohamed. “The ministry is currently gathering information and I plan to meet them soon for discussions,” he told reporters at the launch of SME Bank Y-Biz Challenge 2018 and MySMEBank Online Application System. Mustapa said this in response to a question whether a special incentive would be provided to help Proton dealers upgrade their businesses. - The Star

- By Kuala Lumpur Newsroom;; +60320267363
- Edited by Glen Nicol Perkinson
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