Date of publication: Mar 11, 2014
Section heading: Main Section
Page number: 002
Byline / Author: By Rozanna Latiff
KUALA LUMPUR: YANG di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah yesterday expressed his sympathies to the families of the passengers and crew of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 which went missing en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on Saturday.
The king said he and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Hajah Haminah Hamidun were deeply concerned by the disappearance of the aircraft.
"We hope that the family members of the passengers and crew will remain calm and strong in facing the situation," he said after opening the first meeting of the second session of the 13th Parliament.
Breaking with tradition, the opening ceremony was held indoor because of the haze, with the customary guard-of-honour mounted at the building's banquet hall instead of Parliament Square.
Upon their arrival at 10am, the royal couple were escorted by Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia and Dewan Negara president Tan Sri Abu Zahar Ujang to the hall where the king took the salute, with the guard-of-honour mounted by 103 personnel from the First Battalion of the Royal Malay Regiment.
Present were Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, ministers and diplomats.
In his opening address, Tuanku Abdul Halim reminded the people to uphold national solidarity and support the National Unity Consultative Council as part of the government's efforts to preserve harmony.
"We call on all parties to refrain from making any statement or action that might be deemed provocative or sensitive.
"Be mindful that when unity disintegrates, the country will head towards destruction."
He also urged religious authorities to deal with threats to the Islamic faith such as pluralism and deviant teachings in a manner consistent with the practice of Ahli Sunnah Wal Jamaah to prevent discord among Muslims.
"Stern action should be taken against irresponsible parties seeking to propagate thinking and action that will undermine the supremacy of the Federal Constitution."
Tuanku Abdul Halim said the government's efforts to consolidate its financial position and ensure long-term fiscal sustainability would involve broadening the tax base and improving tax administration.
He said this, among others, included the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax in April next year.
"We urge the government and honourable members (of parliament) to work together in helping people to understand the implementation and benefits of GST, which is not an additional form of tax, but a replacement of the existing Sales Tax and Service Tax."
The king also expressed his appreciation to security and defence forces as well as civilian agencies involved in the Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom) for their role in restoring peace in the state after last year's intrusion by armed intruders.
He also commended the Royal Malaysian Police for their efforts in reducing serious and organised crime through Op Cantas.
"Prosperity and progress will be meaningless if the country continues to face security threats.
"We call for efforts to curb crimes to be intensified through improvements in legislation and enhancement in enforcement efficiency."
The Dewan Rakyat will sit for 20 days until April 10, meeting four days in a week.