Monday, June 30, 2008


Green Earth Programme goes nationwide soon, says PM


The Green Earth Campaign Programme, launched in March 2006 with four main components — farming, livestock rearing, aquaculture and social development — Will be implemented nationwide soon. Announcing this yesterday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said the programme was among the steps taken to encourage urban and rural folk plant vegetables and other food items to enhance the level of household sustenance. “At times when the world prices of goods and food are on the rise, such a step can also reduce household expenditure. “Under the programme, urbanites are encouraged to plant leafy vegetables, fruits, herbs, spices; rear fish in canvas and breed free-range chicken,” he told reporters after launching the “Putrajaya Folk Green Earth Programme with Prime Minister” here. The Prime Minister also expressed confidence that the programme would be the start of national green revolution where land was used for the people’s and country’s prosperity. Abdullah said land was God’s gift and the people could make use of empty fields to prosper themselves through various ways, meet daily needs and reduce spending. “Besides beautification trees, we can still plant trees that can produce fruits and vegetables. All these when they bear flowers and fruits, not only they beautify the area but they can also be eaten. “This is what we want to stress,” he said. Besides, he said, edible plants in excess could also be sold and bring extra income. Abdullah hoped empty areas would be used for this purpose and said that leaving it unattended was a waste. “We want unproductive fertile land becomes productive,” he said. “I purposely invited Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar (Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan) and Melaka Chief Minister (Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam) (to today’s programme) to start programmes like this. “Negeri Sembilan will start next week and Melaka in the next l0 days. No need to wait. It is not that difficult. The Agriculture (and Agro-based Industry) Ministry is ready to provide the seeds,” he said. He said the Green Earth Programme should be practised continuously and not only during crisis. He said if an empty space being worked on was to be used for development, the developer would give three months’ notice before developing it. Bernama


Over 400 youth associations registered under new Act


More than 400 youth movements and associations have been registered since Dec 31 last year under the Youth Associations and Development Act. Youth and Sports Ministry Secretary-General Datuk Mohd Yasin Mohd Salleh said their applications were among 500 received so far. The Act, which among others bans people above 40 to become members or leaders of youth associations, gave a positive impact on efforts to draw youths to join youth associations, he told reporters after officiating the Kelantan level National Youth Day here on Saturday. He said the Act also gave a fresh breath to youth associations and provide opportunities to the young to lead after being trained by the Ministry. Under the Ninth Malaysia Plan RM2 billion was allocated for the implementation of various youth programmes including Rakan Muda, Youth Economic Fund and 1,300 people’s sport arena, he added. - Bernama


Let Govt decide on sodomy claim: Dr M


Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said it was up to the Government to decide on the sodomy allegation against Parti Keadilan Rakyat Adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. “It is a new case. We will see what the police are going to say, what the Government will say,” he said after meeting Bosnia and Herzegovina President Dr Hans Silajdzic here yesterday. He was commenting on a police report lodged by Anwar’s 23-year- old male aide claiming his employer sodomised him on June 26 at a place in the capital. Anwar denied the allegation and said that it was a complete fabrication. Meanwhile when asked on the meeting with Silajdzic, the former Prime Minister smiled and said he was glad meeting an old friend. “He invited me to come here. I have known him for a long time. During the war, he kept on coming here. We have helped him a lot. That is why he knows me,” he said. Silajdzic is on a five-day visit to Malaysia beginning Saturday to enhance bilateral relations between the two countries. MeanwhiIe in KUALA LUMPUR, Umno Youth Chief Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein yesterday called on the police to conduct an investigation without fear or favour on the police report lodged against Anwar. He said the same should apply to the person who made the report. “This is to avoid any unfounded allegations,” he said in a statement yesterday. He said Umno Youth also wanted the results of the investigation to be made public if necessary to avoid confusion and in the interest of all. He said this was needed given the many allegations made against leaders both in the Government and the Opposition. Hishammuddin said that Anwar’s taking refuge in the Turkish embassy alleging threats to his safety did not make sense. “The action was taken to divert attention just as was done when he was similarly accused before,” he said. Hishammuddin said Anwar had once made allegations that attempts were made to kill him by arsenic poisoning, that he needed a spine operation and had problems with the nape of his neck. In Penang, DAP Secretary- General Lim Guan Eng said yesterday it should be left to the police to conduct a thorough investigation into the latest sodomy allegation made against Anwar. “Like Datuk Seri (Anwar) said, just wait and see because the truth will prevail by itself. The police report has been lodged, so we just have to wait and leave it to the police to probe. If the allegation was done with the aim of bringing Anwar down, sooner of later, the truth will prevail,” Lim told reporters here yesterday. -Bernama


SMK Kota Marudu to be model school on internet


SMK Kota Marudu has been chosen as a model school to be fixed with broadband internet access. Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Dr Maximus Johnity Ongkili said Mimos Bhd is one of the agencies under his Ministry that would help to install the infrastructure soon. “The Government is aware of the importance of science and technology increating creativity and innovation, specially among the young generation. All agancies under my Ministry will always help the Government to achieve the mission,” he said when attending the closing of the SMK Kota Marudu CoCurriculum Camp yesterday. According to Maximus, his Ministry also plans to hold a Science Camp at the end of this year to expose students to science and technology. This is one of the ways for the country to achieve Vision 2020. “Students nowadays are very lucky. They are being given good guidance and the Government is always trying to improve the education infrastructure,” he said. The Co-Curriculum Camp, which began on June 265 was held to improve the participants’ discipline level in line with the Government effort to produce an excellent and successful young generation. It was organised by the school’s co-curriculum committee and Parent-Teacher Association and participated by around 500 students from various uniform associations.


British surveyor recalls challenge rebuilding Sabah


Those who worked with the Lands and Surveys Department in early 1960 to 1970 may know John Albert Fryer very well. Before he returned to his country in 1970, the Briton worked in Sabah for more than 20 years in the surveying field. He was also a Director of the Department for four years. Fryer, who was born in Weymouth, England on January 17 1925, is making a return visit to Sabah. He said that when he first came to Jesselton (now known as Kota Kinabalu), it was a very challenging time for him as a surveyor. “Our main job at that time was to rehabilitate the country after the destruction of the war. We had to plan and rebuild both North and South,” he said. “The big job was to establish the land titles because they were all taken by the Japanese and we have to reconstitute them,” he added. Fryer studied in Portmouth Northern Secondary School from 1936 to 1941. Thereafter he went to Winchester School of Architecture until 1943, and from 1943 to 1945, he was at the Camborme School Of Mine. He later joined the army, and with his background in architecture and engineering, he was posted to Singapore as a lieutenant in the Royal Engineers from 1946 to 1948. After his army service was over, he went back to England. He attended and passed the one-year surveying course at the University College London. In February, 1950, he arrived in Jesselton and worked for the Survey Department. He was sent to assist Tuaran to do town planning for Kiulu. “The first thing I did after I came here was to build up the town. It was hard to build a new town after it had been destroyed,” he said. Sharing his achievement during his time in Sabah as a Director of the Lands and Surveys Department, Fryer said there were a lot during that time. “Some of them were town planning, land registration system to construct a road from Ranau to Sandakan and a route up to Kudat, besides training a lot of local people as surveyors,” he said. In March that year, he was sent to Tawau to do a topographical survey for the town planning and to survey the boundaries of the Borneo Abaca Hemp Estate. He returned to Jesselton in September and became the Surveyor General’s Administrative Assistant until 1951. Three years later, he was given the job of placing a survey beacon up on top of Mount Kinabalu. “It was not easy for us to build the triangulation point on top of Mount Kinabalu. It was an interesting job. At that time there was no route to the mountain, but we managed to place a triangulation point there,” he said. “I remember my team took 10 days to come up and down to the place. This was part of our achievement, and I am glad about it,” he added. “From May 1957 to May 1958, I was posted to the interior and become the district surveyor in Keningau,” he said. In November 1960, he was again posted to Jesselton as a headquarters officer. In 1964, he became the Deputy Director and subsequently the Director of Lands and Surveys Department from 1966 to 1970. Just before he left Sabah in 1970, he was the president of the Sabah Designated Officers’ Association. After 38 years later, he re-visits Sabah. “It is very different. There are so many changes ... and I almost lost my way as there are so many roads. Sabah grew very fast ... and the situation is now much better compared to my time here,” he said. “It is so easy. I am very happy here,” added a smiling Fryer when asked whether it was difficult for him to adapt with the new version of Sabah.


Three organisations for disabled receive RM5,000 each


Three organisations for the disabled each received a RM5,000 contribution from Sabah Umno Women on Saturday. Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman handed over the contribution to Taman Didikan Kanak-Kanak Kurang Upaya Sembulan, Seri Mengasih Centre and Blind Training Centre, Sabah branch at the charity night organised by Merah Olumis Borneo Batik House in collaboration with Sabah Umno Women at Magellan Sutera here. Musa said most of the disabled people in the State are still relying on the assistance of their family and Government. He pointed out the communities have a social responsibility to help this group of people to lead a better life. “The Government is aware that these people are willing to work, be independent and also to contribute to the development of our country,” said the Chief Minister. Also present were Datuk Seri Hajah Faridah Tussin, State Assembly Speaker Datuk Haji Juhar Mahiruddin, Malaysia Umno Women Deputy Chief Datuk Seri Shabrizat Abdul Jalil and Sabah Umno Liaison Secretary Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Yahya Hussin. Earlier, Sabah Umno Women Chief Senator Datuk Armani Mahiruddin said the objective of the charity night was to help disaster victims and charity organisations besides promoting Sabah’s batik. During the ceremony, the audience were entertained with dance and singing performances by the Sabah Cultural Board, Ebi Cornelis of AF4, Bintang RTM champion Azharina Azhar and local artiste Abu Bakar Ellah.


40 % of new UMS intake from Sabah


Forty percent of the 4,065 new Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) students for the 2008/2009 intake is from Sabah. The remaining 60 percent is from the other states in the country as well as from foreign countries. “For this year’s intake, we are taking in 75 international students who are mostly from China,” newly appointed Vice Chancellor of Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), Professor Datuk Dr Kamaruzaman Hj Ampon, disclosed yesterday at the UMS Chancellor Hall during the first day registration for the 2008/2009 new students intake. He said the School of Science and Technology had the highest student intake compared with 12 other schools. The school will accept 745 students followed by the Engineering and Information Technology School with an intake of 556 students. The other schools are Labuan International Business and Finance (556 students), Business and Economic (542), Psychology and Social Work (350), Social Sciences (298), International Tropical Forestry (221), Labuan Informatics Science (215), Education and Social Development (213), Food Science and Nutrition (172), Sustainable Agriculture (110), Arts Studies (104) and Medical School (80). He said this was the fifth intake for the medical program and the first group would graduate during the MS’s 10th convention this year. On the safety level in the University, Kamaruzaman said they were giving top priority to the matter. He said the University had taken several initiatives, especially in crime prevention to enhance the security level in the campus. Meanwhile, Kamaruzaman urged the private sector to work together with UMS to do more research on its findings so that they can be commercialized. He said such effort would contribute to the wealth of the nation. “Actually we have a lot of potential fmdings that can be commercialized. To achieve that, we need cooperation from the private sector or venture capitalists,” he said. Kamaruzaman pointed out among the areas that have potential to be developed are processing oil palm waste into bricks. “It’s cheaper and more economical for building houses,” he said, adding that UMS had also carried out research and development on using herbal plants to produce medicines and cosmetics. “However, only a few members of the private sector have come forward or brave enough to take up this opportunity as they were scared of taking the risks,” said Kamaruzaman. He added UMS is hoping for involvement from the private sector as the University does not have enough funds to finance the cost to commercialize its findings.


Total fabrication: Anwar
Opposition leader says new sex charge an attempt to sideline his spectacular return to political stage


Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on Sunday denounced as a “complete fabrication” allegations that he sodomised a male aide, the same charge that saw him jailed a decade ago. Anwar, who was sacked as Deputy Prime Minister in 1998 and jailed on sex and corruption charges, said the allegations were an attempt to sideline his spectacular return to the political stage after recent general elections. “The police report lodged against me earlier today is a complete fabrication. I believe we are witnessing a repeat of the methods used against me in 1998 when false allegations were made under duress,’ he said. The new charges, which allegedly surfaced in a police report lodged by a 23-year-old aide, triggered fears he faced imminent arrest, but police said they would first carry out an investigation. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, whose Government was badly shaken by March elections that handed the Opposition unprecedented gains including a third of parliamentary seats, denied any involvement in the affair. “We had no plans to do anything to him just because he says he’s made a political comeback,” Abdullah told a press conference. He said he was shocked by the charges but disparaged Anwar’s denials. “It’s always the case that those who are accused will deny it,” he said. The police will investigate and determine the truth.” Criminal Investigation Department Chief Datuk Bakri Zinin said the aide had personally written the reportdetaiing an incident at a condominium in an upmarket Kuala Lumpur suburb, and lodged it Saturday at a hospital police post. “It’s mere allegation at this point. We will look into it and establish the allegations first to see whether it is true or not,” he told a press conference. Bakri warned Anwar’s supporters from launching another round of the massive protests that erupted after his sacking a decade ago, a momentous event in Malaysian politics. “If you want to create havoc, we will deal with you according to the law,” he said. “The public should not pressure us by holding demonstrations.” Anwar said the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition was striking back after he gave evidence against the Government and police over fabrication of evidence in the original case against him. “This is clearly a desperate attempt by the Barisan Nasional regime to arrest the movement of the Malaysian people towards freedom, democracy and justice,” he said in a statement. “I urge the Malaysian people to stand against the repressive forces that will be unleashed by the Government in the coming days and weeks.” Anwar has always dismissed the original 1998 charges of sodomy and corruption as politically motivated. He famously appeared in court with a black eye after being beaten by the Police Chief. He was convicted on both charges and spent six years in jail but was released in 2004 when the sex charge was overturned by the Nation’s highest court. Since the March elections that propelled Anwar back onto the political scene, he has said he is poised to form a new Government with the help of defectors from the ruling coalition, undermining Abdullah who has faced repeated demands to step down over the polls debacle. A minor party in the coalition, SAPP, this month called for an unprecedented vote of no- confidence in the Premier, and left open the prospect of joining Anwar’s Opposition. Keadilan said that Anwar and other top party members held crisis talks overnight at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur, where dozens of supporters gathered Sunday. “I am with my husband here to support Anwar against these allegations and to stop anybody from arresting him. Anwar is a good man and he will lead the country soon,” said 24-year- old housewife Siti Husaini. “Anwar is the best, he will survive these allegations,” said Abu Rahim Mahrin, a 45-year-old lorry driver. - AFP

Saturday, June 28, 2008


No increase of essential goods prices: Timbon


The prices of most essential goods like fresh meat, fish and vegetables, except rice, in the suburban markets have remained stable and have not increased as claimed by some quarters. “I found out from my two spot checks on traders and pricing of goods in two markets in Inanam and one in Menggatal yesterday that prices, except for rice which of course had recently increased, are still the same with more or less the same amount or weight of goods could be bought with the same amount of money a few months ago,” said Assistant Community Development and Consumer Affairs Minister Herbert Timbon Lagadan. “In Inanam, however, the traders in the old market complained of reducing customers because of the stiff competition from the adjacent open market, which they claimed were infested with illegal immigrant hawkers,” he said in a statement here yesterday. During the spot checks in the company of officers from the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry, Timbon was told by local hawkers that sales were declining while wholesale price had increased a bit. Nevertheless, they are maintaining the old retail prices to remain in the business although their profit is getting smaller. Timbon also found out during the spot checks that both the markets in Inanam and Menggatal do not have proper toilets within the buildings, causing discomfort to traders and hawkers, especially the aged. He also discovered that sellers of pork, chicken and other fresh meat share the same spot in the wet market in Menggatal, causing discomfor4 among the customers, especially the Muslims. “I think something needs to be done fast to provide toilets in both markets, and also to separate the meat sellers in Menggatal,” he said, adding that the local authoriti would have to upgrade facilities their respective markets


Seaweed project to ease poverty among islanders


Universiti Malaysia Sabah has been urged to find ways to further encourage Banggi islanders to take part in UMS seaweed cultivation to improve their livelihood. Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Yahya Hussin, in making the call, said it could be a good way to ease poverty. Yahya, who is also Agriculture and Food Industry Minister, was speaking after inspecting the seaweed project on the island, which is jointly carried out by UMS Borneo Marine Research Institute and Fisheries Development Authorityof Malaysia (LKIM) under the Hardcore Poor Development Programme of the Rural and Regional Development Ministry. He was briefed on the project by the UMS seaweed research officer Azlin Abd Hamid. According to Azlin, the project has great potential and would bring huge returns, and is the answer to eradicate hardcore poor on the island. Apart from researching on the best method to cultivate seaweed and its nutritional value, UMS is also assisting by buying the dried seaweed from the participants. To date, some 112 residents of Banggi, Balambangan and nearby islands have signed up for the programme. The project, which was launched in March 1999, is located on the northern part of Sabah, which has been expanded to Pitas and Kota Marudu, Since its inception, the Kudat/Banggi participants’ seaweed farming, both wet and dry, is located at Kampung Kaligau, Telutuh, Panukaran Island, Sibogo, Malawali and Matangule. Seaweed is scientifically known as ‘Eurcheuma cottonii’, or ‘latoh’ among the locals. There are two species of seaweed, namely ‘Eurcheuma cottonii’ and ‘Eucheauma spinosum’. UMS is also helping the participants to market its seaweed products and has successfully produced quality cosmetic products from the Eucheauma spinosum species.


Johor Baharu girl gets rare honour at American college


Stories abound over the achievements of Indian and Chinese students in American universities. Last month, 13-year-old child prodigy Sameer Mishra from India stunned the American nation by winning the 2008 Scripps National Spelling Bee competition in Washington. Yesterday, it is a Malaysian girl’s turn to bag a rare distinction. Dashini Jeyathurai, 24, from Johor Baharu, has been selected a one of ‘two students out of a total of 30 bright students auditioned for delivering the valediction speech on “Disorienting Dilemmas: Getting an Education.” She arrived in the United States in 2004 to pursue an undergraduate course in English and Women’s Studies as her major and minor subjects at the reputed Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. The course is courtesy of Starr International Scholarship, awarded by the C V Starr Foundation in the US. 1 This month, Jeyathurai graduated with a summa-cum-laude distinction which is awarded to students who graduate with a 3.90 score and above. She is pursuing undergraduate studies at Carleton, thanks to the Starr International Scholarship, awarded by the C V Starr Foundation in the United States. “I was the only Malaysian out of six students granted scholarships,” she said in an interview with Bernama. Jeyathurai is planning to study for her Ph.D. in English and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan, a five-year academic endeavour? She began her education at the Sekolah Rendah Kebangsaan (Perempuan) Yahya Awal in Johor Babru, continuing further studies in Singapore on an ASEAN scholarship. Jeyathurai has received accolades at Carleton, including the Mortar Board Fund Prize, Niles Prize in Medieval and Renaissance Studies and the Noyes Prize which is awarded to distinguished scholars from the junior class, This year, she won the Scott Tyler Berguer Prize for demonstrating excellence in character and thought, and the Andrea Iseminger Endowed Scholarship.


Tawau, Tuaran have most number of drug addicts
71 of them are new victims and 15 repeat cases: Agency


Eighty-six drug addicts, including 71 new victims and 15 repeat cases, were detected in the last four months of this year in Sabah. National Anti-Drug Agency Sabah Director Amran bin Ahmad said Tawau had the largest number of drug addicts at 26, followed by Tuaran (24), Ranau (11), Papar (seven), Sandakan (four) and two each in Kudat, Kunak, Kota Marudu and Semporna. The most common types of drugs abused were metamphetamine or syabu, ecstasy, morphine, ganja, codeine, cough syrup, heroin, amphetamine and psychotropic pills. According to Amran, the drug threat is not new in Sabah. However, efforts to curb and prevent the problem would be continued so that the country could be drug free by the year 2015. “I understand that it is not easy to combat the drug menace but let’s look at it as a challenge to our community, especially parents and the country and we must make it our priority as it is a dangerous substance. “My agency will continue to inform the public, especially students, why they should avoid drugs,” he said at the National Anti- Drug Day here yesterday. Meanwhile, Community Development and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Hajah Azizah binti Datuk Hj Mohd Dun, who officiated the event, stressed that the Government. needs everybody’s effort and cooperation to eliminate once and for all the drug problem and its related activities which are a threat to the society. Azizah pointed out that smoking is also a bad habit which should be eliminated. Besides affecting the health, children who are exposed to it may want to try drugs when they grow up. “If we let the drugs becoming a menace to our community, then it would destroy us, especially the youngsters,” she pointed out. Azizah said unemployment should not be the cause for Malaysian citizens to be involved in drug trafficking overseas, especially among the graduates. “They should know beforehand what kind of job they have been offered and ignorance of the drug is unreasonable, especially when they are graduates. We expect them to be knowledgeable individuals,” she said. On the role of Islamic agencies in combating the drug problem, Azizah said JAKIM had implemented several programmes for former drug addicts to prevent them from returning to their old habit.


Revised allocation to accelerate devt: CM


The revised allocation under the Mid-Term Review of the Ninth Malaysia Plan would accelerate implementation of projects for development in Sabah and Sarawak, said Musa Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman. “However it must be stressed over and over again, how important it is for the allocation to be channelled and utilised efficiently so that the projects and programmes for the people can be implemented as quickly as possible,” he said in a statement here yesterday In welcoming Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s announcement on Thursday on the RM13.5 billion allocation to develop rural education, Musa said the allocation would boost efforts to uplift the level of education in the two States. “In Sabah, there is still a lot to be done where education is concerned, especially in rural areas which still lack infrastructure, learning tools and quality teachers. “Aside from efforts in narrowing the gap on education between the rural and urban -schools, Sabah will also be getting another RM1 billion for accelerated development,” he said.


Gas for ALL Proton cars


National carmaker Proton yesterday launched a “zero-defect” campaign aimed at erasing a reputation for poor quality that has left it struggling to compete against foreign competitors. Proton Managing Director Datuk Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir also announced plans to fit all models with natural gas tanks from October to help motorists beat the rising cost of fuel. The move follows a 41 percent petrol price hike this month. However, the carmaker is pushing ahead with plans to roll out its first multi—purpose vehicle (MPV) next March, saying there was also demand for the gas- guzzling models, which are popular with large Malaysian families. In an emotional plea to some 5,000 employees, Syed Zainal a 45-year- old engineer who took the helm two years ago — urged them to focus on quality control, which is critical to profitability and overseas exports. “If we produce cars with defects, consumers will get fed up with us. With the recent fuel hike, consumers want quality cars. They have high expectations,” he said at Proton’s assembly plant west of Kuala Lumpur. “Let’s unite. Let’s work together in a sincere manner so that we can achieve profit for the company,” he said. Syed Zainal said some 60 per cent of defects in Proton cars were due to poor quality components from vendors, but admitted the rest of the blame fell on the firm’s workforce. “Today, we want to focus on rebuilding the company. The focus is putting Proton on a better footing, to improve quality, product and profit. We need to be prepared to compete globally,” he said. Syed Zainal said Proton had secured Government approval to give buyers the option of purchasing vehicles powered with natural gas. “It will be in all Proton cars by October. It is part of our plan to support the Government to reduce the dependency on oil,” he said. He insisted that despite the changing mood over energy consumption, Proton’s new MPV will be popular. “Proton needs the MPV model. People’s lifestyle has changed. The price will be affordable,” he said. Proton said in February it had made nit profits for two quarters in a row, thanks to lower operating costsaitd increased car sales. However, it still booked a net loss of 3192 million ringgit (10 million dollars) for the nine months to December, although it was smaller than the 590.448 million ringgit loss a year earlier. According to Syed Zainal, Proton had always emphasised quality control in all aspects of its operations but it was now drawing on lessons from the past toM ensure current levels of quality control were stepped up. “As we prepare our globalisation strategy, there is a need to strengthen quality control to meet international standards,” he said. “In this respect, Proton will work closely with all our vendors as 60 per cent of components come from them,” he said. Syed Zainal said Proton had recently established a monitoring system to identify defects on the production line to respond faster to problems of defective components. He said Proton was looking to further tap the markets in Asean, China, India and the Middle East. “The high number of bookings for the Persona and Saga to date is reflective of growing customer confidence with regards to Proton’s new commitment to quality,” he said. — AFP, Bernama

Friday, June 27, 2008


Govt to continue improving service delivery system

•The Government will continue to improve and transform its service delivery system by being customer- focused, according to the Economic Planning Unit (EPU). Measures taken towards this from now until 2010 will include the integration of systems and services across Government agencies so as to provide quality service with greater ease to the public and businesses, it said. To further meet current users demand and enhance its competitiveness, the Government also aims to increase confidence in the public electronic-based services and promote a wider usage and acceptances of these services, the EPU said. In addition, an outcome-based approach to planning, monitoring and evaluation of programmes and projects will be implemented to maximise benefits to the people, it said. “Together with the cooperation and collaboration of the private sector, the Government will strive towards achieving service delivery excellence, with greater transparency, integrity and professionalism,” it added.The EPU said integrating services by consolidating processes and procedures across agencies will be done by reengineering service delivery, creating virtual one-stop centres, promoting information and infrastructure sharing, reviewing legal and regulatory frameworks, moving towards self- regulation, improving governance and developing competencies. For services that involve multiple agencies, work processes will be reviewed, re-engineered and streamlined toensureefficient delivery, it said. The processes will be designed around client needs where the adoption of a shared services culture, involving information and infrastructure will he promoted, the EPU said. Appropriate technology will be deployed to support the workflow of these re-engineered processes, it said. The EPU also said that integrated services by consolidating processes and procedures across agencies will be offered through the e-KL initiative in the Kiang Valley. This initiative includes job of access for loans and grants, enrollment of international students, speedy approval for billboard advertisements, single-window access for ICT companies to start operations as well as a standardized complaints management system. These efforts will provide better access to a wide range of integrated, online services including electronic submissions, payments, communications and complaints, it added. According to the EPU, the introduction of eForms will reduce processing time and cost as well as improve customer convenience. To accelerate migration to epayments, the Government will continue to implement strategies outlined in the roadmap, including removing barriers to allow for greater efficiency and innovation in the market. “Further improvements will be made in the retail payment systems to reduce the use of cash and cheques as well as to leverage on the Internet and mobile phones as pervasive and lowcost delivery channels for banking and payment services,” it said.


New commission to oversee public transport programs

• A commission will be established to plan and coordinate all public transport programmes and initiatives in the country, according to the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) of the Prime Minister’s Department. The commission will also be responsible for regulating the public transport sector and developing a more efficient and integrated public transport system, it said in the MidTerm Review of the Ninth Malaysia Plan (2006-2010). It said: “Efforts such as increasing coverage of the urban rail transit system and building more integrated transport terminals as well as improving the efficiency of the (KTM) Komuter, bus and taxi services will be undertaken to achieve the target ratio of private vehicles to public transport of 70:30 by 2010, particularly in the Kiang Valley.” The development of various transport infrastructure will also be taken into consideration, providing greater accessibility and more covenient public transport facilities to people with disabilities, it said. The EPU said the coverage of the Komuter service will be extended with the completion of the Sentul-Batu Caves electrified double-tracking rail project, which is expected to benefit about 8,800 commuters per day. The Kelana Jaya Line of the Light Rail Transit (LRT) will be extended from Kelana Jaya to Putra Heights, and the Ampang Line from Sri Petaling to Putra Heights, it said. Connectivity will be provided at Putra Heights by an interchange station for -both lines. It said the insufficient road space to cope with the rapidly increasing number of private vehicles and inadequate public transport services will be addressed systematically. On roads, it said a study is being undertaken to identify additional road requirements to improve the road network and accessibility in Sabah and Sarawak. Other road developments will include the second phase of the East Coast Highway, from Kuantan to Kuala Terengganu, and the Senai Desaru Highway. The EPU also said that rural air services will be expanded to improve access to remote areas in Sabah and Sarawak, and further improvement of the low-cost carrier (LCC) terminals will enable expansion of facilities and provide greater access to low-cost travel to a larger segment of the population. Touching on family development, the EPU said a National Family Policy will be formulated to integrate action to strengthen the family institution. “The shrinking family size and rising number of older persons will require formal institutions to complement traditional family responsibilities,” it said. The EPU said more one-stop family service centres will be established to provide the necessary support services, including counselling, parenting skills, training and reproductive health services. The private sector will be encouraged to implement programmes to assist families and individuals in need as part of their corporate social responsibilty initiatives, it said. On child safety, the EPU said an early childhood care and education policy will be formulated to provide the framework for the development of children from birth to four years.

FRIDAY-27 JUNE 2008- 625,000 NEW JOBS TO BE CRATED 2008 TO 2010

625,000 new jobs to be crated 2008 to 2010

• A total of 625,000 new jobs will be created, including in the regional growth corridors during the remaining Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP) period from 2008 to 2010. Demand for knowledge workers is expected to grow at an average rate of 3.1 percent annually to form 47 percent of total jobs created, said the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) of the Prime Minister’s Department in its mid-term review of the 9MP (2006-2010) released yesterday. The rising demand for skilled human capital will be met by expansion in capacity and improvement in quality of education and training at all levels with the emphasis on high performance work culture and positive values, the EPU said. A combination of short- and long- term measures will be undertaken to reduce the number of low-skilled foreign labour to 1.8 million in 2010, it said. These include improving foreign labour intake and levy system, capping the number of foreign labour by sub- sector, revising the wage system, providing better facilities and benefits to retain locals in selected sectors, and systematically phasing out labour-intensive industries. In addition, participation of women in labour force will be increased to 50 percent in 2010 from 46.1 percent in 2007, the EPU said. The Government will review the policy, strategies, labour laws and procedures related to employment of experts and highly skilled foreign labour in specific occupations, it said. The population is expected to grow at a lower rate of 1.2 per cent per annum in the remaining 9MP period to reach 28.24 million in 2010. The labour force will grow at a slower rate of 1.76 percent per annum and employment is expected to increasing marginally higher at 1.79 percent, thus reducing further the unemployment rate to 3.1 percent in 2010. In the 9MP period, with the population increasing from 26.45 million in 2005 to 27.23 million in 2007, the labour force rose by 2.1 percent per year to 11.8 million. The unemployment rate continued to decline from 3.5 percent in 2005 to 3.2 percent last year, reflecting tightening of the labour market during this period, according to the EPU. In 2006, total of 785,000 skilled Malaysians worked in various countries, especially in Singapore and developed countries, it said. The employment of foreign labour increased from 1.8 million in 2005 to 2.04 million last year, it added. - Bernama


People must be steadfast and united in facing oil price crisis: Abdullah

• The rise in the global oil price poses the greatest challenge to the Malaysian economy as the country moves into the second half of the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP), says Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. As such, the Prime Minister wants all levels of society to be steadfast and united in efforts to overcome the impact of the surging oil and commodity prices. “This crisis will not only have negative effects on the second half of the 9MP but also in the years to come,” he said when tabling the 9MP (2006-2010) Mid-Term Review in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday. Abdullah said efforts should be focused on meeting this challenge and making adjustments, and not let certain leaders and groups to take advantage of a difficult situation and firing up people’s sentiments with false promises just to wrest power and fulfill their personal agenda. “While the other Government leaders and I meet every week to find ways of lessening the people’s burden, these groups are busy thinking of ways to hoodwink the people. “I am confident the people can see which is true and which is false. I believe people are intelligent enough to assess the measures taken to protect their interests and to take care of the welfare of the middle and low-income groups. I believe in the kind voices and goodheartedness of the people,” he said. Abdullah said the reality was that, the oil price hike was a global phenomenon which affected all nations and was caused by various factors. He said one of the key factors which had led to the extreme rise in oil price at this moment in time was the geopolitical uncertainty. “The invasion of Iraq by the United States in 2003 has crippled one of the world’s key oil-producing nations, and has resulted in a state of unrest in the Middle East which remains unresolved. “The earlier military action in Afghanistan and most recently, Israel’s threat to attack Iran further exacerbated geopolitical tensions.” Besides that, he said, the high demand from countries such as China and India, along with the refusal of OPEC countries to substantially increase their oil production, had also contributed to higher oil prices. “The situation is made worse by the action of speculators in the oil markets of international financial centres such as New York and London.” Apart from the extreme oil price increase, Abdullah said, Malaysia’s economy was also affected by the state of global financial markets, which had yet to recover from the sub—prime crisis. “In fact, many economic experts expect that this crisis may lead to a global recession, which will surely adversely impact on our own economic prospects. “The reality is that our nation faces difficult challenges, caused by external factors which are beyond our control.” Abdullah said in the face of these difficulties, the Government must have the courage to make decisions and initiate changes that would preserve public prosperity and national interest in the long term. He said this included the recent decision to restructure oil and gas subsidies, which the Government realised would increase costs. “Nevertheless, the Government was compelled to act decisively, since the global oil price hike has put a strain on the nation’s finances. “At the same time, the move was necessary to ensure that subsidies would go directly to those who need them most. “By restructuring subsidies, we will also have greater flexibility to navigate the risks of a global recession, should one occur in the near future,” he explained. Abdullah said the rising global oil price and uncertainty caused by external factors made it difficult for any nation to fully shield its citizens from hardship. Nevertheless, he said, the Government remained committed towards doing anything within its power to lighten the burden of the people and preserve their quality of life. “Therefore, in order to continue our path towards development while addressing the challenges of the present, let us give our undivided commitment towards ensuring the success of our National Mission. “Insya Allah (God willing), with collective resolve and a unified sense of purpose, our aspirations to build a secure, peaceful and prosperous nation can be achieved”, he said. - Bernama


Nuclear energy may be best option for Sabah: Masidi


In an effort to maintain Sabah as an eco-tourism destination, the State Government will only opt for clean power generating sources to protect the flora and fauna. Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun, in stressing this, said the Government had considered all sorts of power generating sources, and to date, the proposal of using nuclear technology seems bright. “It is known as the cleanest and cost-effective energy. We do not even have to worry about the escalating oil price and this is probably the best option since there have been strong objection from the people on the use of coal-fired technology to generate electricity in the State,’ he said. Speaking to the media after launching a book, entitled ‘The Mystic of Borneo-Kadayan’, at the Sabah Society office here yesterday, Masidi said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had also announced that the Government would probably consider nuclear technology. “I fully support the idea,” he said, adding that the State Government had considered other sources such as hydro, wind and solar technology but they either provide limited electricity supply or are too expensive. He added, “Even coal could deplete.” Masidi said nuclear technology has proved to be successful in France where half of the country’s power supplies are generated using the technology. “There is however a misconception on nuclear energy as many would associate it with wars. And there is fear that it could be misused, but I believe that with proper supervision by the United Nations and the Nuclear Committee, there should be no danger and that it would be restricted to supplying energy only,” he said. The Atomic Energy Licensing Board Director-General, Datuk Dr Raja Abdul Aziz Raja Adnan, had recently urged the Government to consider using nuclear power to generate electricity in the Country. Earlier, Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Dr Maximus Johnity Ongkili said his Ministry has prepared a comprehensive working paper to include nuclear as a new energy source that could generate electricity. Asked about the progress of Tenaga Nasional Berhad’s request for the State Government to allow it to find a new location in the east coast of Sabah to set up its proposed coal-fired power plant, Masidi said he would be leading a delegate for a study tour of other plants in the Peninsula and Sarawak. “The visit, which is arranged by TNB, will take place sometime in middle of July. And if it is necessary, we will be going to Korea and Japan to convince the State Government that only coal technology could meet the electricity needs in the east coast of Sabah,” he said. “Basically, the visit is to show us that there is nothing to fear about coal. “It is considered as a clean technology, but I must in all honesty tell you that there is no such thing as clean technology. Even in our daily life, we would contribute to pollution such as fuels, which release carbon monoxide,” he said. He said a report on the study tour would be submitted t. the State Cabinet. “There are a lot of things which need to be considered such as the amount of money we put out to set up the plant and how much it would cost us in the future,” he said. “We would prefer a cost effective technology which would bring good, to the people and the State,” he said. On another matter, Masidi said more locals should write books depicting the traditions, ethnics and cultures of Sabah. He said the newly launched book by Amde Sidik tells incidents involving the Kadayan communit in the 1950 to 1970s, touching on several aspects including culture, religion, customs and rituals. Describing Amde as a “weird but productive person”, Masidi said in a simple presentation, the author tried to excite readers on the importance of understanding ethnicity an culture. “There are about 300,000. Kadayans in the world, the majority’ of whom reside in Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei. But what surprises us is, Amde’s discovery of a pocketful of Kadayans who had made a silent, sojourn to Penang at the same time Francis Light landed on the island in, 1786. “Another interesting finding is the tracing of the family lineage of our Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi where on his maternal side, he can trace his mother as a fifth generation Kadayan,” revealed’ Masidi. Masidi also encouraged Sabah Society to continue enhancing its collections and provide information and consultation services in its efforts to advance the intellectual development of the local community.


RM13.5 bln for rural education will benefit Sabah, says Masidi


The Prime Minister’s announcement on the RM13.5 billion allocation to develop rural education has been described as “a wise decision” that could benefit thousands of rural people, especially in Sabah. Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun, who is the Minister in charge of education, said the huge allocation would go a long way in enhancing the level of rural educationing Sabah. “We welcome the announcement. Sabah still lacks basic facilities.., for instance classrooms and teachers’ houses are in dilapidated condition, and in some places there are none at all. “So we hope the huge allocation can be used to tackle the problem,” he said when asked to comment on the RM13.5 billion allocation announced by Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday. Tabling the Ninth Malaysia Plan’s mid-term review, Abdullah said special attention would be given to rural schools in Sabah and Sarawak, including pre-school education. Masidi also urged the Federal Government to build hostels in each rural school in Sabah. “There are pupils who have to walk for miles to, get to school. I think it’s time that we do something to help them,” he said. He also welcomed the Government’s move to equip rural schools with information and communication technology (ICT) facility. “This is one of the ways in which we can bridge the digital divide between rural and urban schools. But the ICT equipment will be rendered useless if the schools are without electricity,” he said. -Bernama


Cancellations of Govt events to hurt hotels


The Sabah Hotels Association (SHA) has expressed fear that the Government’s decision to cancel all its official events and functions at hotels will cause serious financial difficulties and consequential damage to the hotel industry. Its President Christopher Chan said losses in revenue of some hotels for June alone as a result of the cancellations range from RM18,000 to RM240,000. He said revenue from the Government sector, including functions, meetings and seminars and accommodation amounts to over RM400 million annually in Sabah, and the loss from the 5 per cent sales tax alone amounts to over RM20 million in tax shortfall to the Government yearly. “The major hotel players have indicated they will experience a drop of 25 percent to as high as 40 percent in their annual income in the months to come, which translates to over RM100 million annually,” he said in a statement yesterday. Chan said SHA has already anticipated a drop in tourist arrivals for this year as a result of the increase in fuel surcharges imposed by all airlines. “This will result in lower room occupancy and possibly a drop in room rates as a result of higher rooms inventory and stiffer competition,” he said. Chan said SHA has submitted a Memorandum of Appeal to the Government through the Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun over the Government’s decision to cancel all its functions at hotels. According to him, the Government’s latest move as part of its cost-cutting measures in line with its recent decision to increase the fuel prices has no justification. He pointed out that over the years the hotel industry has been evolving to meet with the Government’s call to upgrade and improve on the facilities and services to international standards, whereby hotels are graded according to star rating based on criteria set by the Ministry of Tourism. He said the industry has also spent millions of ringgit on human resource development and training hotel staff to upgrade to not only the national skill standards but also international skill standards. “We understand the Government’s decision to cut its expenses and being thrifty in view of the recent hike in fuel prices but what we don’t understand is that why is the hotel industry singled out in this cost-cutting exercise,” he said. “Why are we (hoteliers) being penalized?” Chan said the hotel industry has just started to recover from the financial crisis and recession that struck a decade ago followed by the coxsackie outbreak and the SARS epidemic, Nipah virus, bird flu virus outbreak and other challenges. “The Sabah hotel industry endured all these calamities without much help from the Government and struggled to survive under all these bad weathers,” he said. “Now it seems that we are going back into doldrums of uncertainty. Such change in policies without justification does not auger well for the hotel industry.” Meanwhile, Chan described the latest announcement by the Federal Cabinet to discuss hotel tax reduction as a joke. “You cut off a leg and now try to replace it with a hand. Will you still perform normally and expect to be healthy?” he asked, adding that changing policies without foreseeing the impact of such change will be very damaging in the long run. Chan said that the 5 per cent sales tax collected from the tourism industry in 2007 translates into 15 percent of the Sabah’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP). “Tourism receipts for 2008 are expected to hit RM5. 16 billion and RM5.79billioninyear2009,andabout one third of these receipts go to the Federal Government coffers,” he said Chan said the anticipated drop in tourist arrivals will make it more challenging for the hotels in Sabah to maintain their average room occupancy, which has been going up from 65 per cent in 2005 to almost 80 per cent in 2007. “We forecast not only a drop in the average occupancy but also a drop in the average room rate across the board due to an increase in more than 1,500 rooms available for 2008 and stiff competition. “Sabah has always been dependent on air travel as the mode of transport by tourists to the State (96 %). With the expected shortfall in travellers and a drastic loss of an important market segment from the Government, the hotels will face a hard time and the scenario of the NPL from the hotel industry will be a very real prospect,” he said.


RM30 bln more to ease burden
Monorail among big projects scrapped as Govt shifts focus to people-centred projects


Malaysia shelved some large building projects yesterday and pledged to spend RM30 billion more to boost rice production and ease poverty, as the Government sought to quell growing public anger over rising prices. Under the Mid-Term Review of the Ninth Malaysia Plan (2006-2010) tabled by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the Government stuck to its average annual economic growth target of 6 percent for 2006- 2010, saying domestic spending would offset the effects of weak global demand. The Government said it was reviewing spending to focus on projects that would benefit the public as high energy and building material prices strain its finances. To free up money for other projects, the Government put on hold a RM1 .5 billion road project and a RM2 billion monorail, both in northern Penang state, said Sulaiman Mahbob, Director General of the Economic Planning Unit. Penang is one of five states that fell to Opposition rule during the March poll. The Government also deferred plans to build administrative centres in Kelantan, Sarawak and Pahang for an unspecified sum. It allocated RM30 billion more to improve health, raise rice output, build schools and rural roads and reduce poverty, bringing development spending to RM230 billion under the Ninth Malaysia Plan. “The additional ceiling is to take into account additional development requirements and the increase in construction-related materials cost,” the Government said in the review report. “Development projects will also be reprioritised giving priority to people-centred projects.” Abdullah is battling perceptions that his Government hasn’t done enough to shield the public from rising inflation while it reaps hefty gains from high energy prices. Malaysia, Asia’s largest net oil exporter, earns RM250 million a year in revenue for every $1 rise in crude prices. It raised petrol prices by 41 percent and diesel by 63 percent this month as part of a broad revamp of its energy price system that would save it $4.23 billion. The Government said yesterday it would continue to gradually cut fuel subsidies, but did not elaborate. “While the subsidy on petroleum and gas will be systematically and gradually reduced, a social safety net will be introduced to ensure the poor and deserving continue to receive some form of support to mitigate its impact,” it said. Despite the planned increase in development spending, the Government said it would cut its fiscal deficit to 3.2 percent of GDP in 2010, lower than an earlier estimate of 3.4 percent. The Government expects a deficit of 3.1 percent this year, compared with 3.2 percent last year. Annual inflation was expected to average 3-4 percent in 2008-2010, above the 2 percent recorded last year, it said. Malaysian annual inflation hit a 22-month high of 3.8 percent in May and is expected to rise further, at a time when the authorities are eager to keep interest rates low to support domestic demand. At 3.50 percent, Malaysia’s key interest rate is among the lowest policy rates in the region. The Government also said it would increase the equity ownership of indigenous people, including ethnic Malays, to 20-25 percent in 2010 from 19 percent in 2006. The Government would do more to ensure the indigenous group, or bumiputras, have a controlling stake in private firms and review foreign investment and public procurement rules to facilitate more bumiputra participation in the economy. “A special package programme will be created, to facilitate greater bumiputra participation inthe economy, particularly in the new growth and high value-added sectors.” Abdullah stressed that the review was of utmost importance in ensuring continuity of the agenda of national development especially in the light of the current challenging economic situation. “In the absence of effective measures, the sharp rise in oil and commodity prices as well as the continued turbulence in global fmancial markets could potentially derail our efforts to maintain economic stability and achieve robust growth,” he said in his speech when tabling the review. He said the tabling of the review was aimed at implementing strategies and programmes as well as making provisions to mould Malaysia into a strong and united nation. As such, he said, one of the main objectives of the second phase of implementation of the ninth plan was to ensure that the quality of life of Malaysians was protected. He also said that programmes to increase earnings propensity as well as to provide social safety nets would continue to be implemented and enhanced. At the same time, the Mid-Term Review did not ignore the nation’s need to enhance capacity and competitiveness. “Infrastructure development, human resource improvements and expansion of sectors contributing towards new sources of growth will continue to be pursued, taking into account the long-term developmental needs of the nation,” he said. Abdullah said that to ensure that Malaysia was able to sustain a positive growth momentum, the national development agenda would continue to be based on the five main thrusts of the National Mission, which are: • to move the economy up the value chain;
• to raise the capacity for knowledge and innovation and nurture “first-class mentality”;
• to address persistent socio-economic inequalities constructively and productively;
• to improve the standard and sustainability of quality of life, and
• to strengthen the institutional and implementation capacity.
Abdullah also outlined several accomplishments during the first two years of the implementation of the ninth plan, including sustaining economic growth at an encouraging rate of 6.1 per cent per annum and enhancing the quality of life of Malaysians by increasing per capita income from RM18,840 in 2005 to RM23,066 in 2007. Also, during the period, the Government reduced the fiscal deficit from 3.6 per cent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2005 to 3.2 per cent in 2007 through prudent management of the budget, he said, adding that the Government cultivated new sources of economic growth and enhanced worker productivity levels. He said that the Government enhanced the quality and access to the national education system through the implementation of the Education Development Master Plan and the National Higher Education Strategic Plan. He said it also lowered the overall poverty rate from 5.7 per cent in 2004 to 3.6 per cent in 2007, whereby incidences of absolute poverty were reduced from 1.2 per cent to 0.7 per cent in 2007. The Government also reduced inter-ethnic, regional and urban-rural economic divides, he added. During the two-year period, the Government developed almost 68,000 new entrepreneurs as well as trained more than 120,000 existing entrepreneurs through various entrepreneurial development programmes, he said. Abdullah said the Government also ensured better health care services, housing amenities, rural road networks, public transportation and road safety. Besides, he added, it improved the effectiveness of the public service delivery system, which included replacing the Certificate of Fitness for Occupation (CFO) issued by local Governments with the Certificate of Completion and Compliance (CCC), as well as reduced the ct of doing business through the Special Taskforce to Facilitate Business (Pemudah). Abdullah said it was evident that the implementation of the Ninth Malaysia Plan was not confined to planning or limited to mere rhetoric and that it had resulted in tangible accomplishments.

Thursday, June 26, 2008


UKM to install antenna at North Pole to detect quake


Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) will set up a Global Positioning System receiver antenna at the North Pole to detect early signs of an earthquake. UKM Vice-Chancellor Datuk Dr Sharifah Hapsah Syed Hasan Shahabudin said the GPS receiver will be fixed in a position opposite to the GPS receiver antenna set up in 2002 at the South Pole. “We have installed a GPS receiver antenna at the South Pole and will fix another one at the North Pole and the position of both the antennas will enable research on early signs of an earthquake as well as signs of sun storms,” she told reporters at the signing of a memorandum of understanding (M0U) between UKM and Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM) here yesterday. Installation of the receiver antenna at a cost of RM200,000 will be done in August with cooperation of the Japanese National Polar Research Institute and the Science Institute of the Iceland University. Sharifah Hapsah said since the colossal tsunami of 2004 many quarters were interested in earthquake research and she. hoped the research would improve earthquake and tsunami forecasts. She said there will be consolidation of data on the electrons in the ionosphere, a layer in the atmosphere that contains ions, with the earth’s magnetic field data to identify early signs of earthquakes. The MoU between UKM and UTHM enables both varsities to cooperate in research and advanced degree education in aerospace. UKM was represented by Sharifah Hapsah and UTHM by its Acting Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Hashim Saim. -Bernama


Keep fun centres free from drugs, Minister tells operators


The Government has gone to great length to organize many activities to promote Sabah as a premier tourist destination, and the entertainment industry has certainly played an important role in contributing to this success, said Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun at the swearing-in ceremony of Sabah-Labuan Motion Picture Traders and Entertainment Association (SLAMPTEA) yesterday here. “I would endeavour to do my best to look into matters affecting the members of SLAMPTEA,” he said. “Certain issues, for example, the business operation extension needs to be looked into seriously so as to further enhance the effectiveness of the entertainment entities in complementing the tourism industry.” Masidi urged the members of the Association to make a concerted effort in preventing their outlets from being used for drug abuse, or associated with drug dealers. He said even though the operators are in no way responsible for the conduct of their patrons, their role in keeping this menace from tainting the entertainment industry is certainly crucial. Earlier, Masidi witnessed the swearing-in ceremony followed by a multimedia show and entertainment program. The function was attended by over 500 members of the Association, including several Government officers.


No petrol stations will stop selling, says Ministry


The Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs has assured the public that no petrol stations in the State will suspend fuel sales. The Senior Assistant Director of Enforcement Division in the Ministry, Balwant Singh A/L Pritam Singh said the fuel dealers in Sabah have given the same assurance. “The Ministry will take stern action against any dealers who refuse to sell, or deny in possession of the controlled items (petrol and diesel),” he said, adding that dealers who refuse to sell fuels will be charged under the Control of Supply Act 1961. The charge carries a maximum of two years’ jail or a RM100,000 fine. On Tuesday, Sabah Petroleum Dealers Association President Charles Soong said they had stopped accepting credit cards for the purchase of fuels in line with the national Association’s directive in its bid to get the Government to meet their demand for an increase in their commission to an acceptable level. However, Soong said yesterday the Association had decided not to proceed with the action and would accept credit cards as usual following the mad fuel rush on Tuesday. The rumours about petrol stations in Sabah going to close for five days triggered widespread panic buying with vehicles lining up all the way from the roads to fuel stations, causing massive traffic congestions as a result. Balwant said the decision not to accept credit cards is up to the dealers themselves and the Ministry cannot order the dealers to accept any modes of payment other than by cash. He nevertheless advised the dealers to cooperate with the Ministry and not to take any action that will burden the consumers while fighting for their own interest. “The commissions issue is between the dealers and the Finance Ministry, and we assume that the Association’s plan to strike was probably related to the issue,” he said. When asked about the action that will be taken against those who spread the rumours, Balwant said the police will take action against the person, who will be detained under Internal Security Act (ISA) for making a false report. He advised the public not to believe in rumours and to think rationally and act wisely if they ever encounter such occurrences in the future. “The public should find believable source to ask and not to act immaturely,” he said, adding that the public can call the Ministry’s office on 088-4845 00 (office line) or 1-300-88-6800 (toll free) for any query on the matter.


Sepilok Nature Marathon to be held August 10


The Sandakan Municipal Council is organizing the Sandakan Sepilok Nature Marathon in conjunction with the Sandakan Festival on August 10 at 5.30am at the Sandakan Sports Complex here. The Chairman of the Council’s Publicity Committee5 Mr Tan Swee Heng, disclosed yesterday that the marathon is divided into two categories, Quarter Marathon and Half Marathon. The Quarter Marathon category is open to boys and girls of age 13 to 16 years. The prizes are RM300 for the champion, RM200 (second place), RM15O (third) and RM100 each for fourth to 10th positions. In the Half Marathon category, the Open Section is for runners aged 18 years and above for both men and women sections while the Veteran Section covers both men and women of ages 45 years and above. The prizes for the Half Marathon are RM1,000 for champion, RM700 (second place), RM 500 (third), RM300 and RM 100 each from fifth positions. The entrance fee is RM10 for students and RM2 for non-students. A T-shirt will be given o all the participant upon registration. Tan said about 2,000 people are expected to take part in the event and a lucky draw offering attractive prizes would also be held. Entry forms and details of the marathon are available at the Sandakan Municipal Council and via their website


Comprehensive approach needed: SAPP


Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) has expressed its gratitude to Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak for announcing plans for a massive operation to flush out illegal immigrants in Sabah. Its President, Datuk Yong Teck Lee, said a comprehensive approach was needed to effectively tackle the problem and the Party was thanking the Deputy Prime Minister for the announcement. “Security, law and order are the basic constitutional duties of the Government. The rakyat should not have to suffer while waiting for the Government to take its time in tackling crimes, illicit drugs, street kids, illegal cigarette vendors and a host of other problems associated with illegal immigrants.” He said the range of measures that the Government must take without delay would in detaining illegal out-sourcing agents (like snake heads) and local syndicates who smuggled in illegals. Yong hoped that the Malaysian consulate now in Davao could be relocated to Zamboangga and a Philippine consulate could also be established in Sabah. He said there should also be tighter controls over the Zamboanga-Sandakan ferry service, imposition of a bond on the return tickets of non-Malaysian traveller – Bernama.


Relief over move against illegals
Sabah leaders welcome massive operation to flush out foreigners in the State


Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) President Datuk Seri Panglima Joseph Pairin Kitingan welcomed the announcement by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak of an impending massive operation to rid Sabah of illegal immigrants. He said the people of Sabah have been hoping for such an action from the Federal Government all this while in resolving the long overdue problem once and for all. Pairin, who is Deputy Chief Minister cum Rural Development Minister, said the presence of a high number of illegal immigrants for a long time now has really burdened the people apart from creating numerous social ills and criminal activities. He reckoned that the operation should be carried out systematically based on the political will of the Barisan Nasional (BN) led Government. “It is important for the Federal Government to set a time frame in resolving the illegal immigrants problem so that continued and consistent efforts can be taken towards achieving the Government’s Zero Poverty target,” said Pairin. He said the authorities have been facing difficulty in determining the exact number of illegal immigrants in Sabah due to the lack of any record on them. “The figures made by various quarters keep on changing and, at one time, their numbers were estimated at between 600,000 and one million. As such, concrete efforts must be made to determine their actual numbers,” he said. He felt a census drive should be done with the involvement of various relevant departments and bodies to determine the actual number of illegal immigrants as well as those foreigners with permits to work in the State legally. PBS Vice President Datuk Dr Yee Moh L Chai said the decision to take action against illegal immigrants is “timely and long awaited.” “It is certainly a move that is moving towards the right direction. It will definitely resolve the illegal immigrants problem in Sabah,” he said. “Let us hope that this will be the first of many such actions until the problems related to illegal immigrants are resolved.” According to Najib, the operation would cover all identified foreign nationals who have no valid personal identification documents either from their homeland or from the Malaysian Government, and that they would be deported to the country that is willing to accept them. “It’s better late than never”. This is how Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) President Datuk V K Liew described the Government’s plan to launch a massive operation to flush out illegal immigrants in Sabah soon. “This is a welcome news. It comes as a relief for the people of Sabah,” he said. The high number of illegal immigrants in the State was a longstanding issue which Sabahans were unhappy about. This issue has been used by Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) President Datuk Yong Teck Lee as one of his political weapons to criticise the leadership of the Federal Government. In announcing the massive operation in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the operation would cover all identified foreign nationals who lacked valid identification documents, either from their homeland or from the Malaysian Government, adding that Liew said the move was a testimony of the Government’s sincerity in solving the illegal immigrant problems, once and for all. “I believe we have a lot to learn from the operation (Ops Nyah) which was initiated by former Sabah Chief Minister Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat between 2001 and 2003,” he added. Another former Chief Minister, Datuk Salleh Said Keruak also welcomed the move, saying it would bring a ray of hope to the people and the State. “But, this should be done on a regular basis and not on ad hoc basis. The Sabah people have been clamouring for a lasting solution to the problem for so long, and we hope the massive operation will bear fruit,” he said. United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (UPKO) Deputy President Datuk Wilfred Bumburing said the announcement by the Deputy Prime Minister was a bold and concrete step to solve the problem of illegal immigrants in Sabah “although it seems to have come a little late as the issue was long overdue”. He suggested a three-dimensional approach for implementation, which needed a continuous and comprehensive action program. “First, to immediately stop the influx of illegal immigrants by blocking all known entry points and guarding our shoreline against any illegal entry or intrusion”. “Second, deport immediately those who are currently here, without detaining them for any period of time,” he said. Bumburing also suggested that the Government resolve the issue of MyKad or identity cards (ICs) illegally issued to foreigners. “We have had RTD (Road Transport Department) officers arrested in illegal issuance of ICs, which prove that there are people in possession of ICs who are illegal. I still believe that a Royal Commission of Inquiry is the best solution to resolve this issue,” he added. Meanwhile, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Vice-President Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said the move was long overdue. “The Government should not divert the attention to illegal immigrants as the real problem was ‘Project IC’.. .that should be the focus. The illegal immigrant issue is a normal problem. In concurring with Dr Jeffrey, Consumers Association of Sabah (Cash) President Datuk Patrick Sindu said the Government should set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry on illegal immigrants in Sabah to get to the root of the problem and subsequently address it effectively.


Fuel stations to operate as usual, Association assures


Petrol kiosks throughout Sabah will operate as usual, assured Sabah Petroleum Dealers Association President Charles Soong. The assurance came a day after rumours of a five-day closure of fuel stations and a new fuel price hike sparked widespread panic buying yesterday. The mad rush to refuel started at about 1pm with long queues of vehicles along the roads leading to petrol kiosks, which caused serious traffic congestion. Many motorists were taking no chances after receiving the information via SMS or word of mouth, and continued to wait until late a night for their turns to fill up their tanks. About three hours after the panic buying started, massive traffic jams were occurring all around the city and the outskirts. Soong, when contacted yesterday to comment on the mad rush, said that he had no idea how the rumours started. He however revealed that there was a directive from the National Petroleum Dealers Association for all dealers to stop accepting the use of credit cards for the purchase of fuels. “The national Association is asking the Government to meet a few more requirements, including raising our commission to an acceptable level and if that demand is not met, we plan not to sell fuel for eight hours tomorrow (June 26). “What happened yesterday (Tuesday) was beyond our imagination. We do not want to see a repetition of that incident and has agreed that we will not go ahead with the plan to stop selling fuels for eight hours business will resume as usual,” he stressed. Soong said several petrol kiosks were still thronged by car owner yesterday morning but the number of motorists involved in the panic buying dropped by noon. “We have come to terms that w will try negotiating with the Government to make sure our demands are met. I think it is best to overcome the problem through the proper channels, after all we have a responsible and caring Government; I am sure they (Government) will find a way to ensure that our demands are fulfilled,” he said. He also said that they will also continue accepting credit cards, as usual.


KL to flush out illegals
Massive operation soon to send back immigrants without valid documents


The Federal Government will soon launch a massive operation to flush out illegal immigrants in Sabah, a protracted and highly-charged issue that has again been raised of late. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak who yesterday announced the coming operation, said it would cover all identified foreign nationals who have no valid personal identification documents either from their homeland or from the Malaysian authorities. “We will deport them to the countries that are willing to accept them,” he told reporters after chairing the Special Cabinet Committee meeting on Illegal Immigrants in Sabah. Najib said this would be done after his meeting with Sabah Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders soon. So far, about 300,000 illegal immigrants from the State had been deported, according to him. Asked whether the decision was taken following pressure from BN Component Parties in Sabah, Najib said it was to reflect the Federal Government’s firm commitment to address the critical illegal immigrants’ issue in the State. He said the Federal Government had identified the issue as a serious problem and Sabahans want effective action to be taken. Stressing that illegal immigrants issue is a complex matter in Sabah, Najib said deporting the foreign nationals from the State would be dealt with step by step. “There are all sorts of claims, it’s a complex problem, let us handle it step by step,” he said when queried on allegations of the illegal immigrants being given Malaysian identity cards and other documents to legalise their stay in Sabah. On whether the operations would cover foreign nationals living in various settlements since the 1970s, Najib said it would. “Some of the settlements may be affected but these are the things we will check on the ground. But what is important is our firm commitment to tackle this problem,” he said. To another question on the root causes of the problem, Najib said there were many including the failure of the illegals to recognise the borders, in addition to the lure of economic opportunities in Sabah. “We also know some of them came in legally but they overstay and become illegal immigrants,” he added. - Bernama