Friday, August 29, 2008


Malaysia to extend monitoring team in Mindanao


Malaysia has acceded to requests from the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) to extend the International Monitoring Team (IMT) for the short term in Mindanao pending the Philippines Supreme Court’s decision on signing of the agreement on ancestral domain. Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim said Malaysia acceded to the requests in order to give space for both sides to resolve the agreement, which was now awaiting the Philippines Supreme Court’s judgement. He said a three-month period should be given for the Malaysia-led IMT to continue supporting the peace negotiations between the Philippines and the MILF. “After getting the views of the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, we agreed to extend the IMT mission,” he told reporters here yesterday. The Malaysian peace monitoring team has been in Mindanao since 2004, as part of the IMT, comprising 41 officers from the Armed Forces and the Police, and supported by officers from few other countries. The Philippines Government and MILF were supposed to sign the agreement early this month here, but have temporarily delayed it following a judicial dispute in Manila. The Philippines Supreme Court blocked the signing of a preliminary accord granting minority Muslims an expanded homeland as part of a deal to end decades of Islamic insurgency. The court issued a temporary restraining order after Christian politicians from the southern province of North Cotabato objected to the deal because the Government had failed to publicly disclose its contents. Rais said the extension of the IMT would also allay apprehension caused by the IMT’s departure and to sustain the ceasefire currently in place as well as to prevent further violations and escalation of violence. He said Malaysia called upon both sides to exercise utmost restrain from violating the ceasefire in place and to safeguard the primacy of the peace process. “Malaysia also calls upon both sides to respect the IMT, Coordinating Committee on Cessation of Hostilities (CCCH) and Local Monitoring Team (LMT) in performing their duties,” he said. He said Malaysia also would continue to support the peace process as facilitator and will lead the IMT if both parties are serious in their endeavours to pursue the peace process. “Malaysia hopes that both parties will strengthen their belief that peace can only be obtained through negotiations. “Continued violence would only cause hardship and shall not resolve the key problems or issues in question,” he said. -Bernama


Anwar sworn in as Member of Parliament


Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was sworn in as a Member of Parliament at the Dewan Rakyat yesterday morning. Clad in a dark baju Melayu with a songkok, the newly elected Permatang Pauh MP took the oath before Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia, followed by the traditional thumping on the table as a sign of approval and support from Opposition MPs in the House. Anwar, who has been made Opposition leader, also received words of advice from Pandikar Amin, who after the oath-taking ceremony, said he hoped that Anwar would play a beneficial role in the Dewan Rakyat. He said Anwar would also be accorded all privilages given to an Opposition Chief. As soon as the brief ceremony was over, Sepanggar MP Datuk Eric E Majimbun of Barisan Nasional (BN) congratulated Anwar over his by- election victory and selection as the Opposition leader before proceeding to ask the first question of the day. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Abd Aziz also congratulated Anwar before replying to the first question. Speaking to the media after spending about 10 minutes in the Dewan Rakyat, Anwar said he felt vindicated, returning to Parliament after a 10-year hiatus. “I was touched and vindicated coming back to Parliament after 10 years. After all that I had gone through in that time, now it feels good to be back, it is my right,” he said. Anwar won the Permatang Pauh Parliamentary seat with a 15,671- vote majority on Tuesday, garnering 31,195 votes against BN’s Datuk Arif Shah Omar Shah, SI, who obtained 15,524 votes. The other candidate, Hanafi Mamat, 61, of Angkatan Keadilan Insan Malaysia (Akim), who polled 92 votes, lost his deposit. Anwar, the former Deputy Prime Minister, was sacked from the Government in 1998 in connection with sodomy and abuse of power charges. - Bernama


Merdeka Super Concerts at 1Borneo tomorrow


The City will be abuzz starting this Saturday with the Merdeka Super Concerts weekend at 1Borneo Hypermall. Visitors to the hypermall will not just witness one but two concerts to be held back-to-back to usher in the National Day. Returning back to his hometown is popular Taiwan-based Sabahan singersongwriter, Gary Chaw. He will lead the line-up on the eve of Merdeka together with Wen Qian, the latest winner of the Astro Talent Quest, and Malaysian starlet Candy. The trio’s concert will kick off at 10.45pm on August 30. The celebration continues the following day at 2.3Opm with the nation’s most celebrated rocker, Amy Search. The concert will also feature well- known Malaysian actress and singer Amy Mastura and will be hosted by the illustrious AC Mizal. Both concerts will be held at the hypermall’s Gourmet Lane. Concert tickets can be redeemed easily at the Concierge Counter with minimum spending at selected outlets in 1Borneo or by signing up for a Platinum Club membership programme.


Basalie’s safe box found in Tambunan


A safe box containing documents belonging to Sabah Barisan Nasional Executive Secretary Datuk Basalie Abdul Hamid was found by Police in Tambunan, some 80 kilometres away from here, yesterday. It is learnt that the former Bugaya Assemblyman was away to assist BN colleagues in the Permatang Pauh by- election since last week, while his wife was accompanying a relative who was undergoing an operation in Kuala Lumpur. It is also learnt that the couple had entrusted their house in Austral Park here under the politician’s brother- in-law’s care. The brother-in-law had gone to check the house several times but did not see anything amiss until he received a call from his elder brother and was informed of the Police discovery. The safe box, containing jewellery and documents belonging to the couple, was dumped in Tambunan. All but the documents were missing. Police are investigating the case. Meanwhile in TUARAN, a group of pupils made a shocking discovery when they found the body of a woman, with her hands tied and face down, in the bushes along the Bukit Payung-Kota Kinabalu Industrial Park Road yesterday. The pupils from a primary school in Telipok claimed that they smelt a foul smell coming from the area while walking to school around 7.40am. They went to check and found the decomposing body just 11 metres away from the road. Tuaran Police Chief DSP Suhaimi Wiro when disclosing this said the woman is believed to be in her 20s. “Both her hands were bound to the back and based on her decomposing body, we believe she could have been murdered about a week ago. “We have yet to establish her identity as no document was found on her,” he said. The woman had long shoulder-length straight hair and long nails. Her body has been sent to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital for a post mortem. Suhaimi added that the case would be investigated under Section 302 of the Penal Code for murder. If found guilty, the culprit faces the mandatory death penalty.


Poverty :Harris blames policies
Ineffective Govt programs explain why people leave land idle


Poor rural farmers should not he solely blamed for not developing their land as the Government is equally responsible flirt their predicament, says a former Chief Minister. Speaking at the “Yarahan ‘Tokoh Pertanian” lecture at Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) yesterday, Datuk Harris Salleh said despite the significant improvement in basic infrastructure in the rural areas such as roads, water and electricity supply telecommunications, schools and clinics, many rural people remain poor with little or no permanent income. While the common explanation for their abject poverty is that the “people are lazy”, in actual fact the reason is due to the shortcomings and ineffectiveness of the Government’s policies and programmes, he said. Harris said in Sabah alone, there are about 500,000 hectares of abandoned smallholders’ land with about 70 percent left completely unproductive. Smallholders abandoned their land because most of the Government projects that have been implemented were found to be either not suitable for the rural people or the areas, he said. Harris said there is no serious commitment to meet the challenges facing the farmers in the policies behind the programmes, which are implemented half-heartedly. Another reason, he said, is the dominance of buyers who have always caused prices to fluctuate and sometimes do not, cover the farmers’ nominal production costs. “The subsidies imposed on food products and agricultural produce like rice and cooking oil have further suppressed prices and become a disincentive which discourages farmers to venture into agricultural activities. “This is despite the fact that many of them live close to their own plots or in areas surrounded by coconut trees,” he said. To some extent, Harris pointed out, these subsidies have spoilt the attitude of farmers because they reason that they are better off buying subsidised rice and cooking oil instead of planting their own rice or making coconut oil. Sabah, according to him, is basically an agricultural State whose future lies in agriculture due to its vast tracts of land. In the early 1980s, the then State Government identified 906,300 acres of State land which it committed to allocate 15 acres to each of 60,000 landless Sabahans, he said. Unfortunately this was not pursued and implemented by the succeeding State Government, he said, adding it has now become public knowledge that almost all of the 906,300 acres was alienated to local companies, which then sold their alienated parcels to West Malaysian companies. These areas, he said, have been developed into oil palm plantations, 90 percent of which are now owned by West Malaysian companies. This, he stressed, was how Sabah was robbed of the opportunity to turn 60,000 landless people into “Usahawan Tani” (agriculture entrepreneurs) who, had they received their individual allocations of 15 acres and been given some kind of financial assistance and proper training, could have created a strong agriculture-business base. Harris argued that the rural people have not shown any total commitment and a readiness to accept the challenges to improve their standards of living mainly because of the ineffective approach adopted by the Government in formulating policies and implementing projects and the lack of support by local industries and the people in general. Harris stressed that the emphasis now must be on developing the abandoned land as the opportunities to do so are already there with the necessary infrastructure being extended to the rural areas. The Government, he said, must however carry out a detailed and comprehensive study on all aspects of the rural economy including haphazard development and abandoned land. “This is bearing in mind of course that there can be no scope for agricultural business to grow if the sources of raw agricultural produce are limited to being sold and consumed in their natural form or state. “The wide and varied range of agricultural produce such as fruits, crops and herbal plants can be transformed into an endless variety of agricultural products for both human and animal consumption, and livestock,” he added. Harris said a viable agriculture- based ‘industry can only be successfully established if the Government is fully committed towards this objective and succeeds in getting the rural people to be equally committed in accepting the challenge. “And by then perhaps Malaysia should be able to reduce the RM30 billion that it spends annually on importing foodstuffs and other agricultural produce. Surely, a large percentage of this RM30 billion of food imports can be reduced by the rural farmers and smallholders substituting them with many more local and hybrid varieties of fruits and vegetables,” he said. According to Harris, land in the rural areas is made up of small and medium sized alienated parcels of land and smallholdings, totalling millions of hectares. Most of this land is either left idle and undeveloped or even abandoned while the productive areas are owned by the Chinese. In Sabah, however, out of about 500,000 hectares, 90 percent are owned by natives. The 10 percent owned by the Chinese is productive while out of the rest, 20 percent is half-productive and 70 percent unproductive. The rural land owners do not want or are not motivated to be self-sufficient in food crop production largely because they have to sell whatever they produce at below the costs of their own labour. This, he said, is caused by Government subsidies such as for rice and cooking oil. Another factor, Harris disclosed, is that the majority of the middle and upper class people prefer to buy imported fruits and vegetables instead of local agricultural produce so in general it can be said that local fruits and agricultural produce fetch very low prices because they are consumed only by the low income group. The living conditions of the rural people have remained as they were since decades ago, with no properly planned villages, while houses are built haphazardly without any modern amenities, he pointed out. In order to motivate them to be productive, there is a need to improve their houses and smallholdings, he said, adding a kampung house in an area averaging three to five acres may accommodate at least two or three houses belonging to an extended family. “It is not too much to ask that the Government allocate at least 25 percent of its low cost housing budget to the rehabilitation of kampung houses at a cost of RM2 5,000 each. “The areas surrounding the extended family members’ houses also have the potential to be developed by planting permanent or cash crops which should give the families sustainable and permanent incomes,” he said adding that this can be done from the balance of the low-cost housing budget. Harris said based on reports it is clear that the Government has been trying to solve the problem by opening and developing abandoned smallholdings but the commitment has so far not been successful. “This is despite the fact that hundreds of Federal and State Government agencies have been formed with fanciful names such as ‘Giat this and ‘Giat that, as if to reflect their missions. “In the end what these agencies have achieved is merely to create jobs for the staff that they have to employ and at the same time provided short-term publicity. This can be seen from many examples of the agencies’ projects that have deteriorated or been abandoned soon after the publicity was over. In spite of this, no thorough study seems to have been undertaken to establish why so many basic economic projects in the rural areas have failed,” he said. Harris said through a detailed and comprehensive study the Government can translate all the data into a truly committed plan of action to develop the rural areas, and at the same time motivate the rural people to accept the challenge, and together work towards the creation of a viable and sustainable agro-based industry. The study, he said, must look into the questions of land suitability, the best ways to exploit the desire and ability of the smallholders and farmers to meet the challenges of change, and the creation of a fair and reliable market for any type of agricultural produce. “Unless and until such a comprehensive study is done to determine the policies and programmes considered to be appropriate for each area, the only progress that can be seen in the rural areas would be in the infrastructure, schools and clinics,” he said. However, he said, with rural income levels still the same while the general cost of living keeps increasing, there will be no agro-business if there is no commercially sustainable agricultural produce.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


NEW STAR: Stacy Akademi Fantasia Season 6


NEW STAR ... Akademi Fantasia 6 champion Stacey (right) had a surprise at the recent Kinabalu Shell Press Awards when Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Aman presented her with a special recognition award for doing Sabah proud by becoming the first contestant from the State to win the reality talent contest. Witnessing the presentation were Astro Corporate Communication and Community Affairs Director David Michael Yap (second from left), Sabah Journalists Association President Datuk Joniston Bangkuai (left) and Shell Malaysia Chairman Datuk Saw Chow Boon (second from right). Stacey and fellow AF singers Velvet, Candy, Nadia and Yazeer were specially flown by Astro to perform at the press night held at Shangrila’s Tanjung Aru Resort.


Anwar’s win won’t affect Sabah, says PBS


Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s victory in the Permatang Pauh by-election will not have any effect on Sabah let alone instigate defections to the Opposition. Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) Chief Information Officer Johnny Mositun said Anwar’s win was more or less expected since Permatang Pauh is a safe seat for the latter. “Nevertheless it would spur the Barisan Nasional (BN), especially in Sabah to work harder to ensure we remain the stronghold for the Coalition. “We also hope that the other BN component party members would re-look the power sharing issue as well as other outstanding issues affecting everyone,” he said when asked to comment on Anwar’s victory in the by- election on Tuesday. Meanwhile the Party’s Youth chief, Jahid Jahim, said the Permatang Pauh constituents’ decision to retain PKR as their elected representative must be respected. “This shows that democracy exists in the country as the people are given the freedom to choose whoever they wish to be their elected representative,” he said. However, he hoped for a stop to violence during the campaigning period.


RM13 million to help Sabah’s hardcore poor


Sabah’s poverty eradication efforts are being complemented by the Ministry of Entrepreneur and Cooperatives Development’s (MECD) RM13 million assistance programme for the hardcore poor in the State. Its Minister, Datuk Noh Omar, said the special programme will be conducted through Giatmara centres in Sabah and offer skills training courses as well as the necessary equipment to enable eligible participants to start earning an income. Speaking to reporters at the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC) seminar here yesterday, Noh said those who qualify will be sent for five-day courses on skills that can help boost their family’s income such as tailoring, cake baking, and hand phone repairing. “Other than paying the participants’ transportation fees to and from the training centre, MECD is also giving them a daily allowance of RM35. At the end of the course, the participants will be given a ‘tool kit’ or the necessary equipment specifically used to apply what they have learnt. “For example those who take the tailoring course will be given a sewing machine whereas participants of the cake baking or kuih making courses will be given an oven each,” he said adding that a total of 36 courses are being offered to those identified as hardcore poor, including single mothers. This way, the participants will feel that what they have learnt is not wasted as they have something to work with and jumpstart their business, he said. “Those who take up the sewing or tailoring classes can use the sewing machines provided to make clothes for their own family first. They can later take in sewing requests from neighbours and other villagers,” he said. Giatmara officers and community leaders have the responsibility to help these people register for the courses according to their needs, he said. According to Noh, not only would the participants be taught the skills, they will also be taught business skills, including basic knowledge of marketing. He said those who have established their business can also seek assistance from the Ministry if they want to expand. “They can apply for loans from Tekun to expand their equipment range,” he said, adding that an amount under RM1O,000 would be approved on the spot for those who are qualified.




The landslide victory of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Advisor Datuk Sen Anwar Ibrahim augurs well for non-racial politics in Malaysia, said SAPP President Datuk Seri Panglima Yong Teck Lee. He said the rejection of racial politics shown in the March general elections has been repeated resoundingly by the voters of Permatang Pauh in the by-election two days ago, where 69 per cent of voters are Malays. However, he said, the Barisan Nasional BNI leadership, especially Umno, never learn. “Instead of strengthening national unity among the people, Umno tried desperately to whip up racial emotions on the National Economic Policy NEP issue by mob demonstrations in Penang immediately after the elections,” he said. “The orchestrating of the student demonstrations at UiTM by Umno this month, the inflammatory speeches of their MPs in Parliament and racial instigation against SAPP’s MPs over the no-confidence motion in June all prove that the BN and Umno are still trapped in the old mindset of racial compartmentalization of Malaysian politics,” said Yong in a statement yesterday. In fact, the former Chief Minister noted, after the March general elections, both Prime Minister Datuk SeriAbdullahAhmad Badawi and Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Sen Najib Tun Razak had declared that the BN would conduct independent studies on the lossessuffered by the BN and why people were rejecting BN. Several high level BN committees were even formed to “re-brand BN,” said Yong, adding however that instead of changing for the better with people-friendly policies, the BN Government played around with fuel prices at the whims and fancies of the Prime Minister, inflicting suffering on the ordinary people. The SAPP President contended that high level corruption continues unabated, and according to news reports quoting senior Umno leaders, this year’s Umno divisional and branch elections were the dirtiest and m ost corrupted by money politics ever in the history of the Party. Yong lamer ited that when SAPP first declared no confidence in the PM, almost all the BN component parties chose to condemn SAPP instead of solving the issues aff cting the people raised by SAPP. “SAPP ren iinds the BN component parties to join the SAPP’s ii iove of no confidence in the PM so as to effect chang for the better in the country,” he said. “SAPP now calls on the people in Malaysia, especially ir Sabah and Sarawak, to be ready for change.” In a separate statement, SAPP Secretary-General Datuk Rich ardYong said the outcome of Permatang Pauh by-election was a testimony that the people, including T 3N and UMNO members, are rejecting BN admin Listration. Party Keadilan’s Datuk Sen Anwar Ibrahim garnered 31,195 votes against BN candidate Datuk Arif Shah Omar Shah’s 15,524 votes to win by a majority of 15,671 votes. “Although BN’s total membership in Permatang Pauh is 2:6,942 (UMNO — 19,442, Gerakan —2,900, MCA — 2,400, MIC — 1,700, PPP — 500 ), BN manage 1 to secure only 15,524 votes. This shows that a t otal of 11,271 BN members have opted to support Parti Keadilan’s Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim,” said Richard. As Prmatang Pauh is the home State of the Prime Minister, the failure of BN in wresting Permatang Pauh from the Opposition was a reflection of no confidence in the Prime Minister’s leadership, he said.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008


Pairin on Max' announcement

PBS President Datuk Seri Joseph Pairin Kitingan believes his successor will adopt a responsible attitude as a sign of readiness to take over the party's helm. "There's such a thing as looking to the future É in this case it's a matter of undergoing a process of training over the years. In the final analysis we have to abide by the constitution and go through the process (of party election). "We do think about it (his successor)," he said when asked if there is any transition plan for the PBS top leadership. Asked to comment on the statement by Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili, who is one of the three PBS deputy presidents, that next year's party election would be his last as a deputy president, he said: "I don't think we should take that very seriously. If a person is ready to take over he'll adopt a responsible attitude, therefore we will take it from there, when he takes over the party then you can ask him". Pairin said he had been fortunate that since PBS' inception he has been re-nominated and re-elected unopposed to head the party, which on the other hand might be perceived by people as undemocratic as though PBS was not holding elections for the post. But, at the end of the day, the voice of the delegates mattered most, he said. On whether he would be defending his post in the party's (triennial) election next year he said: "I'll consider it when it comes".


Landslide victory for Anwar in by-poll


Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Anwar Ibrahim won a landslide by-election victory Tuesday that was bigger than expected and which will see him return to Parliament. The 15,671 vote majority in his Penang home state cemented a stunning comeback for Anwar, who was sacked as Deputy Premier a decade ago and jailed on sodomy and corruption charges he claims were politically motivated. "The message is clear, we in Permatang Pauh and in Malaysia, we demand change for freedom and justice," Anwar told a jubilant crowd of thousands of people gathered in a football stadium who were chanting "reformasi" (reform) and "merdeka" (freedom). "We want an independent judiciary, we want the economy to benefit the vast majority not the corrupt few," said Anwar. "We declare victory, the margin is very huge," said Tian Chua, Information Chief of Anwar's Keadilan party, which leads a three-member opposition alliance. The final tally showed Anwar won 31,195 votes, compared with 15,524 for his opponent from the Barisan Nasional coalition, which has dominated Malaysian politics for half a century. The BN candidate for the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition had conceded earlier, although he said he had expected to win. "I thought that people would vote to get their problems solved but they seemed more attracted to propaganda, promises and innuendo from the opposition," said Arif Shah. "Yes of course we have lost... we were the underdogs going into this race," said Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib, Umno information chief, the party that leads the coalition. "This is a clear indication that people of all races have rejected communal politics. It is a clear endorsement of our reform agenda. We are on track," Anwar said. Anwar had been widely expected to win back his old seat of Permatang Pauh, which his wife held during his political exile. She stood aside last month to allow him to contest, after a ban on him holding public office expired. However, he defied expectations that the coalition's no-holds-barred campaign would suppress his winning margin, which is being seen as an indicator of his ability to shrug off the sodomy charges. "I thank the voters, the wisdom of the people has prevailed. The win shows the people reject the sodomy allegations thrown at my husband," said Anwar's wife Wan Azizah Wan Ismail. Analysts said that even after he returns to Parliament, the 61-year-old opposition leader faces further daunting hurdles including a looming trial on the new sexual misconduct charges. The opposition leader has said the accusations, levelled by a 23-year-old male aide, have been concocted by the Government to thwart his ambitions of seizing power with the help of defecting lawmakers. He will appear in court on Sept. 10 and denies the new sodomy charges. His original sodomy conviction was overturned by the nation's highest court in 2004, allowing him to go free after spending six years in jail. He then spent several years behind the scenes, before storming back onto the political stage at the helm of a reinvigorated opposition. In March general elections, the opposition alliance seized control of five states and a third of parliamentary seats-an unprecedented result that shook the coalition and put Anwar within striking distance of taking power. He needs to secure the support of at least 30 defectors in order to oust the government of Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who has faced calls to quit after the general elections debacle. The ballot in Permatang Pauh was held under tight security, after both sides traded allegations of abuse and attacks on their supporters. Some 4,500 police were deployed to keep the peace. Despite the focus on the sodomy allegations, Anwar's star power was undimmed, and he drew big crowds to nightly rallies during the intense 10-day campaign. Political analysts had said the man who was once a rising star in the government and is now seeking to oust it from power had needed to win by at least the 13,388 majority his wife won when she contested the seat in March's general election. That Anwar won by much more gives him a real shot at tempting the 30 government legislators to join his three-party coalition and that will enable him to win power in a confidence vote that he has said he will call for September.


'Yong failed to do his part while as CM'

Kota Kinabalu:
Datuk Yong Teck Lee should have investigated the alleged losses in the Saham Amanah Sabah (SAS) unit trust scheme during his tenure as Sabah Chief Minister. Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) Vice-President Herbert Timbon Lagadan said Yong should have also asked for a White Paper to reveal the whole truth on SAS activities when he was Chief Minister instead of asking the present authorities to do so now. He described the call by Yong asking the authorities to proceed with such investigation on SAS, which had reportedly caused hundreds of millions of ringgit in losses to the affected investors, as 'total nonsense' as he (Yong) could have done all these when he was Chief Minister. "Yong should be thankful that the present State Government under the leadership of Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman has done something to help the SAS investors by injecting RMRM200 million to increase the share price.
"Such proactive move is also part of a rescue plan aimed to lighten the burden of some 54,000 investors who suffered big losses when the share price per unit went down below RM1 in mid 1990s. "Yong is so concerned for the 54,000 investors' predicament but why didn't he do something to help them during his time as Chief Minister?," he asked. Herbert, who is also the Community Development and Consumer Affairs Assistant Minister, was commenting on Yong calling on the authorities to proceed with a "clear and final investigation on the SAS affairs to punish the culprits to restore the investors confidence in the unit trust scheme". Yong said this after the RM200 million injection by the State Government as an investment to boost the SAS capital and its share unit price was approved in the State Legislative Assembly on Monday. Yong was also reported as saying that if the confidence was not fully restored, the so-called fiasco on the SAS investments may be repeated in future, thereby putting the RM200 million government investment at risk. Meanwhile, on the resignation of PBS Kiulu Division Chief Sindin Ranggangon from the party, Herbert said Sindin should have done so before making the call to party President Datuk Seri Pairin Kitingan to step down. "Sindin has been planning to join the opposition PKR even before making the call for Pairin to resign as party president."

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


German tourist loses phone, cash in snatch theft


A young German tourist walking down from the observatory tower in Signal Hill here last night lost her cell phone and some cash after her handbag was snatched by someone from a passing car. The girl was walking with her partner when a Perodua Kancil car went past them. According to an eyewitness who was about to go downtown with her husband, the girl fell and sustained minor injuries on the legs and hands after someone from inside the car snatched her bag. The eyewitness, who declined to be identified, said she and her husband then took the German couple to the nearest Police station. The girl had lost her cell phone and some cash to the thieves but luckily had kept her passport in her pocket. Said the eyewitness: “I live in Signal Hill. We notice that the streetlights go off sometimes, and the place is all darkness. But even if the lights are on, the area is still not well lit. I believe this encourages crime in these areas. “How can we reassure the people, especially foreign visitors, that those tourist spots are safe when there are not enough facilities?” She urged the relevant authorities to overcome this problem as soon as possible before something worse happens. She also commended the Police, adding: “They were very helpful to the couple.”


State MCA Deputy Youth Chief gets more support


Another four Sabah MCA Divisional Youth movements, namely Kota Kinabalu, Penampang, Kota Belud and Putatan, will be supporting current State MCA Deputy Youth Chief Wilfred Yong’s contest for the movement’s State Chief post in the coming State party polls next month. The youth chiefs of the four divisions, Michael Chang (Kota Kinabalu), David Tan (Penampang), Chua Chung Ching (Kota Belud) and Andy Lau (Putatan) pledged their support to Yong on Sunday. “We will support Yong on the Party’s nomination day, Sept 2 and election day, Sept 6,” they told a press conference They alsp disclosed that Chang wants to retain his Sabah MCA Youth Vice Chief post and Tan who is currently the movement’s Legal Bureau Chairman, wants to contest for one of the Vice Chief posts. The four divisions also pledged their full support to Sandakan MCA Divisional Youth Chief Alex Chang who will be contesting for the State MCA Youth’s Deputy Chief post. Yong who publicly announced his intention to contest for the movement’s top post, said his decision was made after encouragement, feedback and support from the Party and movement’s members. The current MCA State Youth Chief, Chew Kok Woh, will not be defending the post as he has passed the age limit. Yong, 35, said he will continue to work hard for the Party so that it reaches greater heights both at the State and national levels in the next three years. Yong has served the Party for more than 10 years. He was the previous State Vice Youth Chief (2002-2005), current State Deputy Youth Chief and Youth Central Committee member (2005-2008).MCA Silam Youth Chief Chen Nyct Siong has pledged the movement’s full support to Yong in his contention for the post. “Yong has done much in the past to assist the Silam MCA Youth. Based on his services and commitment to MCA, he is a sincere and honourable Sabahan leader who always gives priority to our State’s interest,” Chen said. The Sabah MCA Youth election will be held on September 6 at the Berjaya Palace Hotel here.


Sodomy medical report not conclusive: Health DG


A doctor cannot make a conclusive medical report in sexual abuse cases, including sodomy, unless he or she completes four important examinations on the victim, Director-General of Health Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican said yesterday. “First, the doctor needs to have a detailed history of the incident as alleged by the victim then he must conduct a full medical examination, complete a thorough examination on the private parts of the patient and do some investigation. “The doctor has to send bodily specimens of the victim to the forensic unit. All these must be completed. You can’t do a preliminary examination and conclude that the patient was sexually abused or otherwise,” he said after opening the National Regulatory Conference here. He was asked to comment on a flyer circulated in public, which is claimed to be the medical report of Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, 23, done at the Pusrawi Medical Centre by Dr Mohamed Osman Abdul Hamid. The report was allegedly done a few hours before Saiful lodged a police report alleging that Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had sodomised him. “Please do not be swayed by the so called medical report because it is not conclusive. In the first place we do not know if the medical report printed in the flyer is authentic or otherwise. The medical report’s authenticity must be confirmed,” Dr Ismail said. Ismail, who had seen the flyer on the Internet, said: “From a professional point of view, I have to say that it is not conclusive. You can’t take a- preliminary medical report, and say it is conclusive.” He also said that the “release” of the medical report was unethical, incorrect and unjustified as it went against the patient’s confidentiality. He said the Ministry was currently awaiting an investigation report from the private medical centre on how the initial medical report was leaked to the public, including the media. “We also want to talk to the doctor but he seems to be uncontactable. Looking at the flyer, it seems that he had ruled out sodomy but this does not confirmed anything. He made an initial examination and automatically ruled out sexual abuse. “I advise the public not to jump to conclusion or assumption on this matter based on the flyer. To make a conclusive medical report, one must have the experience and expertise in handling such cases. Whether the report is true or otherwise, just let the court decide,” he said. Dr Ismail said he did not want to speculate on the issue as he was only the Director- General of Health speaking from a professional point of view. He said the Ministry was also concerned about how the medical report was leaked. “Our investigation team had visited the hospital and we are waiting for their investigation report. I had given them two weeks to come up with their report and the deadline is up. The hospital should have ensured the security of the medical report. It can only be released on the authorisation of the patient. “We also want to interview the doctor concerned. He must come forward and explain himself but Pusrawi had said that they cannot contact him. “What he did, if at all he leaked the report, goes against the code of conduct for medical practitioners. Action can be taken against him by the Malaysian Medical Council,” he said. - Bernama

Monday, August 25, 2008


Anwar’s era tobe PM has ended: Ahmad Shabery


Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Shabery Cheek said Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim must accept the fact that the era of him becoming Malaysia’s Prime Minister had ended long ago. He said the PKR candidate for the Permatang Pauh Parliamentary by- election had previously been chosen personally by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to join the Government, and had in fact been appointed acting Prime Minister hefore being expelled in 1998. Anwar’s claims that he would become Prime Minister on Sept 16 were merely wishful thinking, he said at a function at Kampung Tan jung Putus, near here yesterday. As such, he urged the constituents in Permatang Pauh not to be easily swayed by the claims that Anwar would become Prime Minister if he were to win the Permatang Pauh by-election on Tuesday. Meanwhile, former PKR Vice- President Datin Saidatul Badru Tun Said Keruak reminded the voters in Permatang Pauh to think wisely in choosing their elected representative. Saidatul Badru, who was one of the earliest protem leaders when Umno moved to Sabah in 1991, had joined PKR in 1998. She resigned as PKR Vice-President and Sabah PKR Chairman on April 3, 2006 and became an ordinary member before announcing her resignation as a Party member on Aug 13, 2007. She said she had left the Party because she was not happy with the direction that the PKR was heading for. Saidatul Badru said that the PKR under Anwar’s leadership was dividing the Malays and Muslims. “Anwar is now a free man and he should unite the ummah. He has the space and opportunity to do so but instead he is more keen to divide the Malays and Muslims,” she added.


National badminton coach Misbun Sidek made Datuk


National badminton coach, Misbun Sidek, was yesterday awarded the Darjah Mulia Seri Melaka (DMSM) that carries the title of ‘Datuk’ in recognition of his services to make the country renowned for the sport. Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam announced that the award would be bestowed on Misbun this Thursday by Melaka Yang Dipertua Negeri, Tun Mohd Khalil Yaakob, at Istana Melaka. Speaking to reporters after visiting the BarisanNasional (BN) operations centre at Mengkuang Titi here, Mohd Ali said Misbun’s contributions to the country were great as he not only successfully trained Lee Chong Wei to win a silver medal at the Beijing Olympics but had himself tasted victory as a national badminton player. “We waited many years to get this medal and after discussing with the Yang Dipertua Negeri he agreed to the award,” he said. Mohd Ali said among championships that Misbun won were the German Open, the Sweden Open, the Canada Open, the Malaysia Open, the Taiwan Open and the Singapore Open. He said Misbun was also national champion seven times and was picked as the best coach. Meanwhile in KUALA LUMPUR, Chong Wei said he was happy at the news of the conferment of the Datukship on Misbun. “It indirectly is a recognition of the deeds and relentless efforts by Misbun in training me,” Chong Wei said when contacted by Bernama. The badminton ace said Misbun had worked hard all this while to guide him and that Misbun was an individual who was respected whether on court or outside. “Despite the ‘Datukship’, there will not be any problem in our relationship. I will always listen to his advice,” said Chong Wei. Badminton Association of Malaysia (BAM) Secretary Gangga Rao said the association was proud of Misbun’s achievement after Chong Wei was conferred the Datukship earlier. He said the BAM hoped it would inspire Misbun to continue to progress because he was not only being financially rewarded but was also given recognition by the country. - Bernama


Local authorities to set up one-stop centres: Hajiji


The Local Housing and Government Ministry will introduce several measures in line with the call on developers to be transparent with local authorities so that inefficiency and problems are dealt with. Among the main measures being introduced at local authority level are the setting up of one-stop centres for processing development plans (DPs) and Occupation Certificates (OCs). Its Minister, Datuk Haji Hajiji Haji Noor, said that the local authorities have received guidelines from the Ministry on the setting up of the one-stop centres. “Among the objectives of the one-stop centres is to approve DPs within 10 weeks, building plans in four weeks and OCs also in four weeks,” he said Hajiji was speaking during the Sabah Housing and Real Estate Developers Association (SHAREDA) Nite 2008 cum SHAREDA’s 30th Anniversary at Magellan Sutera Harbour here on Saturday. This year’s theme was ‘Challenge for Sustainable Development’. Other measures that will be introduced are for the issuance of permits and licences for premises where the local authorities have been directed to reduce bureaucratic red tape and introduce on-line applications and approvals. “Through training, motivation and exemplary leadership, local authorities will also seek to raise their level of integrity and discipline so as to earn a higher level of trust from the public. “To motivate the employees, the Ministry is finalising a policy move to turn all local authority employees into ‘Perkhidmatan Gunasama’ or common pool service so as to allow wider opportunities for lateral or vertical promotion,” he said. Hajiji added that the Ministry looks forward to receive public feedback so that measures introduced may be adjusted and strengthened to ensure the desired outcome. Meanwhile SHAREDA President Kong Kwok Wah said that this year, the organisation will introduce for the first time the SHAREDA award for outstanding performance. “The basic rationale of this award is, other than recognising excellence, to continue to raise the benchmark of excellence in the housing and real estate sector. “This year the awards are given to outstanding developers in recognition of their outstanding significant contributions to the property development industry and the economy in Sabah,” he said. During the event, SHAREDA contributed RM10,000 to the Sabah Society for the Blind and another RM10,000 to the Kudat Division People’s Welfare Association. There were also lucky draws for the public with prizes comprising return air tickets to Zurich, Switzerland, Goldcoast, Australia, Kunming China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Also present during the event were Assistant Local Government and Housing Minister Edward Yong Oui Fah, Mayor Datuk Illiyas Ibrahim and SHAREDA Immediate Past President Haji Abu Bakar MYahya.


Musa: Media reports must be accurate, balanced


The media must remember its role in disseminating not only accurate but balanced reports to the public, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said. This is especially relevant now in this information as where access to information has never been easier, Musa said at the Kinabalu Shell Press awards ceremony here last night. A discerning society, he said, would no longer just accept what is being brought to them but would look for intelligent reports that go beyond mere reporting. “In short, readers are increasingly looking for substance in news,” Musa said adding that journalists must now go beyond storytelling and do it so with a purpose. “You must strive to make the significant interesting and relevant. Journalists must continually ask what information has most value to citizens and in what form,” he stressed. Journalists by virtue of their profession must ensure that objective reporting, moral values, higher professional standards and respect for differences of opinion become the standard bearer of their code of ethics. This in turn, Musa pointed out, stimulates the intellectual diversity necessary to understand and accurately cover an increasingly diverse society. “It is important to keep news in proportion and not leave things out. Journalism is also not about inflating events for sensation, stereotyping in order to capture your audience or to sell that extra copy,” he said. Good journalism, according to Musa, entails going for the truth and disseminating and sharing this with the audience. Musa also commended the media in Sabah for doing a very good job in bringing significant and important news to society especially in areas that matter such as in profiling the State Government’s development agenda, namely the Halatuju and the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC) as well as plans and programmes for the State under the Ninth Malaysia Plan. “Having said that, I also understand that it is part and parcel of journalism to point out inefficiencies, bureaucracy and other shortcomings that occur in the public sector. “Nonetheless, it is equally important for you to fulfill this task in an impartial, balanced and sincere manner with the end objective of achieving something positive,” he said. Musa expressed hope that the media would continue to highlight Government projects add programmes that have benefited the people of Sabah in particular and the country in general. “I know there is the general perception that bad news or sensationalism sells like hot cakes. It is rather unfortunate that some revel in the misfortunes that befall others. Nonetheless, I trust the media in Sabah will continue to uphold the strong fundamentals of journalism, which is accurate and fair reporting. Touching on the Sabah Journalists Association’s application to have its own building to carry out activities, Musa said the State Government has approved the application.


Anwar suffers a blow
PKR leaders walk out en masse


Parti Keadilan Rakyat’s (PKR) Permatang Pauh by-election campaign suffered a blow as its leaders walked out en masse yesterday. Five Division Heads and 10 Youth leaders from the northern States quit the Party, citing their dissatisfaction with the leadership of PKR Advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as their reason for quitting the Party. Former Kedah PKR Secretary Zamil Ibrahim, who spoke on their behalf, said the Party had deviated from its original struggle since Anwar was freed from prison. “Anwar has made PKR become like a business entity where he is the Chief Executive Officer and runs it as he likes,” he told reporters when announcing his quitting the Party at a hotel here. He added that the other leaders who joined him in quitting PKR had remained in their hotel rooms because certain people had threatened to harm them. They were among some 200 PKR members who chose to quit the Party because they no longer had any faith in it, Zamil said, adding that Anwar’s unwillingness to swear the Islamic way that he did not sodomise a former male aide of his also contributed to their decision to leave PKR. Former PKR Youth Head Ezam Mohd Nor, who was also present, said their leaving was a good sign that the Barisan Nasional (BN) would win the Permatang Pauh by-election on Tuesday. Meanwhile, PKR is worried of a low voter turnout on Tuesday. Its Information Chief, Tian Chua, said Anwar had hoped for a landslide victory but worried that turnout could be low — partly because the Government has made the highly unusual decision to hold the vote on a weekday. “This election is going to be decisive. Definitely, if Anwar wins, we will be one step closer to taking over the Government,” he said. “From our assessment, we are leading. We have to win big. It will mean the people reject racial politics.” And the Penang State Government, which is controlled by the opposition alliance, fired another salvo yesterday by declaring election daya public holiday in order to ensure a full turnout. Anwar has been mounting an intense campaign, visiting markets and local communities during the day, and drawing large crowds at nightly rallies. His opponent from Umno, Arif Shah Omar Shah, has been more low key and newspaper reports have said the ruling party has been riven by factional splits. Some Umno officials have warned their party could be harmed by the focus on the sodomy allegations — which polls show the majority of Malaysians do not believe — and the attempt to portray Anwar as a traitor to Muslim Malays. “It is un-Malay to make these allegations. Anwar has a family and he has five daughters,” one party official in Penang told APP. “Politics is one thing but you are shaming a family man. I am afraid that if we go overboard in attacking him and accusing him of being anti- Malay, it will backfire. We will lose votes. We saw that happen in the March polls.” The general elections saw the Umno-led coalition lose five States and a third of Parliamentary seats to the three-member Opposition alliance, in an unprecedented loss that has shaken the Government. Most voters interviewed in Permatang Pauh in recent days said they favoured the Opposition and were unimpressed by the Government’s focus on the sodomy accusation which Anwar says has been concocted to sideline him. “These Umno leaders are doing nothing but splitting the people further,” said Mohamad Mansur Ismail, 56, a roadside stallholder. “They have taken this campaign to an all-time low by harping on the sodomy allegations. “-Bernama/ AFP

Friday, August 22, 2008


Local artists are underrated
Their works as good as those abroad: Masidi


The public must discard their perception that works by local artists are inferior to their counterparts in other countries. Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said works produced by local artists are impressive and have been underestimated by the public. “I have visited many top galleries in the world and have come to the conclusion that our artists’ works are as good as, if not better than, what were exhibited in these galleries,” he said. Masidi also pointed out that locals are willing to pay huge sums for foreign works but find it difficult to fork out RM500 for a piece of artwork produced by a local artist. “What our local artists are charging is actually value for money because a painting takes time to finish, so it is very important that we start changing our mindset not only about painting but also other aspects of art,” he said when officiating the opening ceremony of the Mayuri House Local artists do not get recognition because the public do not value and appreciate their work, he said. “We have good products now and we need to find ways to ensure they are marketable and this is what I would like Mayuri to consider,” he said. According to Masidi, Mayuri has taken the first step in showcasing the talent of local artists and should in future look at ways to help the local artists market their work. He also would like to see more companies in Sabah take the initiative to look at the potential of Sabah’s culture from angles other than the dances and costumes being widely promoted now. Speaking to reporters later, Masidi said the State Government is ready to asist local artists who want to showcase their works. “We can provide those interested with the exhibition venue and help them with promotion. I don’t mind any request from interested artists in terms of providing the venue and subsidising the cost of putting up an exhibition,” he said. Masidi said the Government should take the initiative to help the locals, citing Taiwan where the artists are very successful because its Government has taken the initiative of doing the marketing of their products. “I think this is the same for Sabah. The State Government needs to come up with some initiative to help with the marketing of local products. Only then I think the artists will be able to stand on their own two feet. “There is also a need to expand our assistance network to other sectors connected to art and culture,” he said. For promotion of local artwork, Masidi said the weekly Sunday Gaya Street market is an important venue to sell the local products. He was impressed to find out that local artists have sold many paintings at the market and said it was a good way to expose the local talents to the outside world. The prices for the local artwork were also very good, he said, adding that his Ministry will try to give the local artists as much exposure as possible.


RM2.70 petrol price until Dec 31: Shahrir


The ceiling price of petrol will remain at RM2.70 a litre until year—end, Domestic Trade and Consulmer Affairs Minister Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad said yesterday. He said the ceiling price would be reviewed after Dec 31 depending on the current global fuel price at yearend. “If the fuel price spirals (this year), the people need not worry about bearing the high cost as the Government will absorb the additional cost. “I cannot say now as our fuel price depends on the price of a barrel of oil in the world market which constantly fluctuates,” he told a media conference. Shahrir however did not discount the prospect of the oil price dwindling to below RM2 before Dec 31 given the current uncertainties in the global oil price. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said on Wednesday the Government will announce the new fuel prices on Aug 31 which will take effect on Sept 1. The new price would be based on the average fuel prices throughout the month of August and after deducting the 30 sen subsidy for a litre. On the possibility of a fare hike for public transport vehicles and an increase in the cost of transporting goods, Shahrir said it would not happen until year-end though there were calls from bus and lorry operators. He said the Government had other mechanism to help public transport operators who had to tide over with higher diesel prices. “We are aware when diesel price increases, it will take a toll on public transport and lorry operators. Nevertheless, they cannot raise fares to their whims,” he said. Shahrir also said the Government would re-visit in March next year the cash rebate paid to car and motorcycle owners. He said the form of rebate would be re-determined including the maximum amount that can be claimed by car and motorcycle owners. “What’s happening now is that individuals having five vehicles including those using 2000cc cars are given rebate, it’s not fair. “We give rebate to lighten vehicle owners’ burden but if they have more vehicles than they should, there is no need to give rebate anymore,” he added. Earlier, Shahrir launched two books on two Malaysian Prime Ministers entitled “Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi - A New Breeze In Malaysia’s Politics” and “Tun Abdul Razak - A Phenomenon In Malaysian Politics” authored by Dr Paridah Abdul Samad. Present at the launch were Abdullah’s wife Datin Seri Jeanne Abdullah and TunRazak’s wife Toh Puan Rahah Noah. - Bernama


RM 30 million estimated loss in Hypermarket fire : Police


The estimated total loss in the fire that destroyed the Servay Hypermarket at Penampang New Township on Wednesday night is RM30 million, said Penampang District Police Chief, DSP Madang Usat. He said properties lost in the 7. 30pm blaze that took firemen several hours to put out, included money in an ATM machine owned by a bank. “The cause of the fire is still under investigation, as well as the people who were working at the time when the fire broke out,” he said, yesterday. Madang said a forensic team from the Fire and Rescue Department has been called in to assist in the investigation to determine the cause of the fire. He said initial investigation indicated that the fire could have been caused by a short-circuit at the upper floor of the two-storey building that housed the Hypermarket that was opened for business in Sabah in 1997. Madang said investigation to ascertain the cause of the fire will be carried out from various angles and it will involve questioning the Hypermarket’s employees and shoppers, as well as the workers hired by the operators of other retail outlets in the building. He said police received a total of 11 reports on the fire from various people, including workers and shoppers. He said statements from these people would be recorded as part of the investigation. “The blaze that destroyed and flattened the Hypermarket was the worst fire incident in two years in the State Capital,” said Madang, adding that 10 fire engines were deployed to fight the fire. He said works were still carried out yesterday to extinguish the tire in the rubbles. According to Madang, firemen were facing difficulty in putting out the fire because the building collapsed at the height of the blaze, causing the debris such as bricks and steel bars to pile up on the properties. The fire occurred while the Hypermarket was crowded with hundreds of customers who rushed out after being alerted. However, no casualties were reported as four people who were said to have fainted while being briefly trapped in the burning building were quickly rescued by personnel from Pasukan Tindakan Cemas Malaysia (PTCM). Two persons, including a 12-year- old, were trapped inside the toilet in the Hypermarket but were also saved. According to a sales assistant of the Hypermarket, the fire started in the back storeroom on the upper floor and spread quickly due to strong winds. The upper floor of the Hypermarket, which housed clothes and other flammable goods, was engulfed in flames soon after before collapsing hours later. According to Sabah Fire and Rescue Services Department Director Khirudin Drahman @ Husaini, the Department in Penampang was alerted about 7.38pm and rushed the first fire engine to the scene at about 7.4 1pm.


Income rebates likely

Expert says more Malaysians may pay ZERO TAX with difficult situation


The Government will likely widen the zero tax percent band and increase individual income rebates in the 2009 Budget in a move to cushion the impact of the higher living cost particularly for the low-income group, according to a tax expert. Deloitte Malaysia’s tax leader Ronnie Tim said this would provide additional disposable income for he group, especially those facing difficulties in coping with higher expenditure due to the recent oil price hike and slower economic growth. “If we increase the tax band, then more people will pay zero tax. I’m thinking on a suggestion of a person earning up to RM35,000 a year and don’t have to pay any tax,” he told reporters after the launch of Deloitte Tax Challenge 2008. Lim was responding to a question on the insight of Budget 2009 to be tabled by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in Parliament on Aug 29. Currently, Malaysians earning RM35,000 a year are paying abour RM1,400 in income tax and if this exemption is given, these people could use the extra RM100 to RM200 a month for other purposes. According to the Inland Revenue Board’s income tax band, only people earning below RM2,500 a month is zero percent taxable. For the rebate, Lim suggested a three-fold increase from the current RM350 for a person. “This will provide immediate purchasing power to the people, especially the lower income group,” he said. On short-and medium-term basis, he said, the Government should consider giving grants to people who want to convert their petrol engine to natural gas as a one-off subsidy to cushion the rising cost due to high petrol prices. Citing Australia as an example, he said, the Government could save substantially as it is in efficient way to reduce costs compared to giving refunds and rebates which was costly. ”Gas will cost about seven-and-a-half-sen a kilometer versus 20-odd sen per km on petrol. Straight away, we can see the advantage for an individual,” he said. On Deloitte Tax Challenge, Lim said the contest would likely rekindle interest among the younger generation in accounting and as an initial step towards producing quality tax practitioners and consultants. Participants of the challenge comprising two categories - team and individual - will have to solve complex business problems that arise in everyday tax practices such as mergers and acquisitions, foreign direct investments into Malaysia and restructuring. Contestants will also be tested in English, verbal presentations and leadership skills, he said. Bernama.

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Servay Hypermarket razed
Millions of ringgit up in smoke as fire destroys building in Penampang
Fire destroyed the Servay Hypermarket in Penampang New Township near here last night, causing losses that run into millions of ringgit. The fire, which broke out about 7.30pm when the popular two-storey Hypermarket was packed with hundreds of customers, was believed to be caused by a short-circuit upstairs. However, no casualties were reported, but four people who were said to be briefly trapped in the burning building and fainted were quickly rescued by personnel from Pasukan Tindakan Cemas Malaysia (PTCM). Two persons, including a 12-year-old, were trapped inside the toilet in the hypermarket but were also saved. According to a sales assistant of the Hypermarket, the fire started in the back store room and spread quickly due to strong winds. The second floor of the Hypermarket was completely engulfed in flames soon after before collapsing hours later. Acording to Sábah Fire and Rescue Department Director Khirudin Drahman @ Husaini, the Department in Penampang was alerted at about 7.38 pm and rushed the first fire engine to the scene at about 7.4lpm. “A total of 19 fire engines from Kota Kinabalu, Penampang and Lintas rushed to the scene to control the fire,” he said. “Some 47 staff of the hypermart were working at the time,” he said adding that the main problem controlling the fire was poor ventilation. The second floor had already collapsed when the fire was put und control at about 9.36pm. Civil Defence and Police person were also at the scene to help control a massive crowd of onlookers.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


Acute shortage of rubber seedlings


There are about 20,000 hectares of titled lands in Kadamaian, Kota Belud alone suitable for rubber plantation development but are left idle because of a lack of initiative and knowledge on the part of landowners, and the absence of sustainable efforts from the relevant agencies. Assistant Minister of Community Development and Consumer Affairs, Herbert Timbon Lagadan, made this observation toa group of visitors from the Association of Sabah Bumiputera Rubber Smallholders (PPKGBS) who paid him a courtesy call at his office here yesterday. Timbon said many landowners rely on state-owned Lembaga Industri Getah Sabah (LIGS) to develop and replant their lands, but LIGS itself has constraints in covering the whole State. “Even getting rubber clone seedlings is quite difficult. I myself as Kadamaian Assemblyman, have been waiting for my seedlings from LIGS to be distributed to rubber smallholders in Kadamaian. “Last year 1 managed to buy 70,000 rubber seedlings for distribution in Kadamaian. There is this very big demand for rubber clone seedlings but supply is short, and this is frustrating the smaliholders to be,” he said. Earlier, President of PPKGBS, Modily Bangali, told Timbon that there was an urgent need to ‘set up nurseries hi Sabah to propagate the high-yielding rubber done which is available from the Peninsular. “Our Association is ready to help set up rubber nurseries, but we need funds for physical infrastructures. We would want to work with LIGS and players in this industry because this would help pull thousands of hardcore poor rural families out of abject poverty,” Modily said.


BN by-election campaign spending extravagant: Yong


It seems the Barisan Nasional (BN) will spend more on the Permatang Pauh by-election than the RM50 million the Government is spending on tackling the illegal immigrants woes inSabah and Labuan, according to SAPP President Datuk Seri Panglima Yong Teck Lee. He said the national BN is already sending thousands of campaigners to Permatang Pauh, and knowing the extent and extravagance of BN campaigning, the costs will likely be in tens of millions of ringgit. The former Chief Minister said that Sabah BN alone has announced sending hundreds of people to Permatang Pauh in Penang. “Umno Sabah leaders, Youth, Wanita, Puteri and Putera and BN components such as PBS are lining up to impress their Federal leaders by diligently campaigning to ensure a BN victory. For many Umno divisional delegates, a trip to Permatang Pauh is also a joy trip for the ongoing party divisional election campaign,” said Yong in a statement yesterday. According to him the costs of travelling, accommodation, food and campaigning will definitely amount to millions of ringgit. “Where will this money come from?” Yong asked, adding that the money will not come from the national BN because the national BN is saddled with unpaid election bills of the 2004 general elections and it remained to be seen how the BN would settle the election debts ofthe March 2008 general elections. Yong said BN leaders must show that at a time when a large number of families in Sabah cannot afford an extra meal, as people are struggling with petrol prices, children foregoing tuition classes, sick people missing out on medical treatment, tenants worrying about overdue rentals and electricity bills, they still care enough to do something about the people’s livelihood. “We all know that the worst is yet to come. By year end, families will face the prospects of higher school bus fares and various expenses related to schooling. “Low income parents will have to make a heartbreaking choice of either to send their kids back to school or to let them work in a tough job market due to economic stagnation with more jobless people. Inflation will rise beyond 8% and ordinary people will have to forgo some basic necessities of life,” he said. On the part of SAPP, Yong said the party would only send a three cadre team to study the by-election for research purposes. “Our two MPs might spend the week end Parliament break to visit the constituency of Permatang Pauh with other MPs,” he added.


First of three flyovers at KKIA done in six months


Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman, has commended Global Upline Sdn Bhd for completing the first of three flyovers near the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA). Musa who inspected the flyover in front of the Airport, which is part of the KKIA development, said he was satisfied with the construction. “In such a short time, the company responsible, Global Upline, has completed the first flyover which is expected to be operational at the end of I September,” he said. Musa said the second and third flyovers were expected to be completed soon and the combined cost of building the three flyovers was about RM1 20 million. On Monday, Global Upline Advisor, Tan Sri Ting Pek Khiing said the project which was started after Chinese New Year this year is way ahead of its scheduled completion date. “The project is 15 months ahead of its schedule completion date which is April 2010. We started the flyover project after Chinese New Year this year (which was in February) and we managed to complete the job within six months,” he said.


No more hiding for illegals in Sabah: CM

The State Government is leaving no stones unturned in its efforts to rid the State of illegal immigrants. “Those involved in the ongoing Ops Bersepadu will be going all out to flush out illegal immigrants, including those who have gone into hiding since the operation started,” Chief Minister Datuk Sen Musa Aman said. “We know many of the illegal immigrants have, as a means to evade arrest and deportation, gone into hiding but the enforcement agencies involved will track them down and flush them out from their hiding place,” he stressed. Musa, who was met after launching the State-level landscaping awareness campaign, also warned locals in the State against harbouring illegal immigrants. Deterrent action will be taken against anyone found harbouring illegal immigrants, Musa, who is also State Security Committee Chief, said. He also urged the local communities to assist the Government by providing information on any hiding places of illegal immigrants known to them. Meanwhile, State Secretary Datuk Sukari Wakiman told reporters that Ops Bersepádu which was launched last week has been conducted in the State Capital, Penampang and Putatan. “So far, 4,800 foreigners, mostly Filipinos have been roped in for screening,” he said, adding that of the total, only 500 of them did not have any valid travel documents.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008


Najib: Non-Bumis not restricted on higher education


Umno and the Barisan Nasional (BN) Government have never restricted opportunities for non-Bumiputeras to pursue higher education in the country, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak said yesterday. He said various changes have been made by the Government over the last few years to make education in the country more liberal and open. These more liberal and open educational policies benefited the non-Bumiputera communities, he told reporters after a visit to the BN election operations room in Sama Gagah here. He said the picture portrayed by the Opposition on educational opportunities for Bumiputeras and non-Bumiputeras was incorrect altogether. Najib said the issue of education could not be viewed from one angle but should be seen from the viewpoint of changes to the educational sector and the national education policy initiated by the BN Government. Najib said the Government provided ample opportunities for all communities, including nonBumiputeras, and the issue should not be politicised by the Opposition, especially in the Permatang Pauh by—election, polling for which is on Aug 26. The BN Deputy Chairman was asked to comment on a statement by Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Advisor Datuk Sen Anwar Ibrahim in his “ceramah” (talk) that he supported the proposal by Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim for a 10 per cent intake of non-Bumiputeras into Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM). Anwar, 61, is involved in a three- corner contest with Datuk Arif Shah Omar Shah, 51, of the BN and Hanafi Mamat, 61, of the Angkatan Keadilan Insan Malaysia ‘Akin’ in the by- election. The by-election has been necessitated by the resignation on July31 of the Member of Parliament, PKR President Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, to pave the way for her husband, Anwar, to contest and become an MP. Najib said the Government had approved legislation providing for the setting up of private colleges and universities to open up opportunities for non-Bumiputeras to pursue higher education, replaced the quota system with a meritocracy system and extended the National Higher Education Loan Fund Corporation (PTPTN) scheme to all communities. “We have also allowed private colleges, such as Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR), to upgrade and recruit more students. Gerakan also has a university and, yesterday, MIC officially opened its Asian Institute of Medicine, Science and Technology (AIMST) university,” he said. As such, he called on the Opposition not to politicize the issue of education in an attempt to garner the votes of the Chinese and Indian communities. He said the issue was used as capital to draw non-Malay support for Anwar as the support of the Malays and Muslims was divided between Umno and PAS. - Bernama


Lower levy being looked into: Musa


Employers in foreign Sabah have been assured that the Federal Government is looking into their request for a reduction in the current levy on foreign workers. Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman in giving the assurance, said the State Government has forwarded the request to the Federal Government for consideration. “I have talked to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and expressed our view on the matter they (Federal Government) are looking into it,” he said. Musa who was met after launching the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA) Regional Conference 2008 yesterday, was asked to comment on the request by employers in Sabah for a 50 per cent reduction in the levy currently imposed on foreign workers. Federation of Chinese Associations Sabah (FCAS) President Datuk Seri Panglima Sari Nuar when requesting for the reduction, said it should be for all sectors. Over 20 countries in the world have foreign workers but none of the Governments has imposed a levy on these transient migrants, he said.


Flyover near KKIA completed
RM120 million project opens to public today


Global Upline has completed another development project ahead of schedule, this time it is the flyover near the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA). The lanes from Putatan heading towards the State Capital have been completed and will be opened to public today (Tuesday), Global Upline Advisor Tan Sri Ting Pek Khiing told reporters yesterday. Ting disclosed that the lanes from the State Capital heading for Putatan will be completed by next month. “The project is 15 months ahead of completion date schedule which is April, 2010. We started the flyover project after Chinese New Year this year (which was in February) and managed to complete the job within six months,” he said. Next to be completed is the road widening project from KKIA towards Sutera Harbour Resort, he added. With the completion of the flyover, traffic congestion in the area will be reduced, Ting said, adding that the 1.2-kilometre long project costs RM120 million. This flyover is for the convenience of the road users travelling to and from Putatan, he said and added that it was a good Merdeka Day present for the people in Sabah. It is also timely as Terminal One of the KKIA will be operational today, he said. “Infrastructure development projects like this reflect the Barisan Nasional’s concern for the people,” Ting said and told reporters that Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman and Infrastructure Development Minister Datuk Raymond Tan Shu Kiah will be going on a test drive on the flyover today. The flyover will be officially launched at a later date, he said.


Oil price can go down if price remains at US$113 a barrel: Najib


Domestic fuel prices could go down soon if the world crude oil price remains at US$113 a barrel, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak disclosed here yesterday. “There may be good news for the people in the next one or two days. We can review the fuel prices,” he said in his speech at a meet-the-people function in Permatang Tengah, here yesterday. Najib, who is also Barisan Nasional (BN) Deputy Chairman, said the people needed not wait for Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to become Prime Minister to reduce the fuel pump prices as the Government could do the same if the world oil price was maintained at that level. He said the Government would also have other good news for the people when tabling the 2009 Budget on Aug 29. “Just wait,” he added. “The move is to lessen the people financial burden following the rise in the cost of living,” he said, adding that the people should not be influenced by promises made by the Opposition which they could not guarantee would be fulfilled. - Bernama


Independent EIA welcomed: SESB

Coal-fired plant only solution to power shortage in East Coast : MD


Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) welcomes any independent Environmental Impact Assessment (ETA) on the proposed coal-fired plant in Sandakan. Its Managing Director, Jr Baharin Din, said SESB is in fact happy to hear that there are quarters interested to get their own EIA done on the project. “We are professionals and have nothing to hide so we welcome the independent ETA,” Baharin said when asked to comment on the Sandakan Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s intention to get an independent ETA done. Baharin during a media briefing yesterday, pointed out that SESB has not found any viable energy source other than a coal-fired plant to resolve the electricity shortage in Sabah’s East Coast. SESB had considered using gas, hydro, biomass, nuclear, solar, renewable energy and even wind but none was found suitable, he said. “There is no gas in Sabah’s east coast and it is very costly to lay a gas pipeline from the west coast (300km). So is shipping gas (LNG) from Peninsular Malaysia,” he said adding that to produce hydro power, a high gradient is needed for the required head pressure. This, he said, is not available in the East Coast, where there is no suitable water source or river. To produce energy from biomass, he said a large area of farmland is required for the supply of the fuel such as fruit bunches, adding this method of generation can never generate enough power to satisfy a major part of current demands. On nuclear power, Baharin said that while the power plants do not emit any greenhouse gases, safety is still a major concern and creating a secure as well as permanent system for disposing of spent nuclear fuel remains a challenge for the industry. Solar, he pointed out, is an alternative which can be used if the current demand is only 30kW but for 300MW, harnessing energy from the sun is still not cost-effective for large-scale power generation. “While the technology has great promise, it has not yet been proven to be cost competitive on a large scale,” he said. According to Baharin, there was a suggestion that wind power be used to generate power in the East Coast. “If the electricity demand was only for three seconds, yes we can use the wind because that is how long it blows for,” he said adding that wind needs to be blowing consistently to produce power. Baharin pointed out that if a large proportion of a power system’s electricity is wind power, then there may be a need for large ‘spinning reserve’ backup power supply. In the case of renewable energy, Baharin said that renewable technology offers high efficiency but it is not cheap. “Would anyone want to pay RM10 a unit instead of the current 25 sen now?” he asked. Baharin stressed that without a coal-fired plant, the electricity supply problem in Sabah will remain unresolved and added, “We want to bring the level of supply to where we can be proud of but if that cannot be done then we will remain where we are. “We don’t have much choice (except for the coal-fired plant) as much as we would like to consider other options,” he said. According to him, with the ‘green light’ from the State Government, SESB will proceed with the ETA which is expected to be completed in 10 months. He also assured Sabahans that SESB would not make any move without first going over the ETA and mitigating factors, including the social and economic cot. Meanwhile SESB, he said, would be embarking aggressively on a quest to educate the public on energy conservation as it would mean that fewer power plants would need to be built to meet the electricity demands. SESB has formed a steering committee headed by its General Manager of Operation, Peter Lajumin, to address the matter, he said, adding SESB will be working closely with Government departments and agencies, schools as well as associations such as Shareda on creating the need to educate people to conserve energy. Energy cost, he pointed out, is not getting cheaper and the sources are depleting so we want to encourage the public to review their electricity usage. “We are leaving no stones unturned and will conduct seminar, workshops and talks even in schools so that people are aware that conserving energy also results in less trees being cut down to make way for new power plants and the resources are saved for our future genera SESB, he said, is also considering offering incentives such as an ‘off peak tariff’ to its customers so that people would change the trend of the electricity usage. There are many ways to change the behaviour of consumers such as enforcement but this would have negative results, he said, adding that the Government could introduce laws and regulations to change the people’s behaviour but it hast to come to that level in Sabah.