Friday, May 16, 2008


Harris proposes RM 300 hardship allowance


Former Chief Minister Datuk Harris Mohd Salleh said the Government should abolish all subsidies, school fees and medical charges, and, instead introduce a RM300 monthly hardship allowance to every adult Malaysian. He said the hardship allowance is to be a temporary measure to help farmers move forward because when they are assured of receiving RM300 monthly from the Government, they would have the incentive and time to cultivate rice and other food crops. “In other words, farmers will not worry about where to get cash for their daily needs. The proposed hardship allowance is much easier to implement than the subsidies and will also create an equal distribution of wealth as well as inject a circulating cash flow in the rural areas,” said Harris in a statement yesterday. According to him, Malaysia’s economic policy as a whole, particularly the prominent policy on subsidies is bound to fail to sustain and uplift the standard of living of the poor people, and will eventually create an “easy going” and complacent Malaysian because everything is cheap and subsidized. Furthermore, any subsidy, apart from being difficult to manage, would in the long run have the effect of making the poor people depend too much on cheap essential foods and other commodities because of the subsidies. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that these subsidies including whatever school and medical fees imposed be abolished once and for all,” he said. To spur the rural economy, the Government should introduce a monthly RM300 hardship allowance to every adult Malaysian or a total of about RM24 billion only a year, Harris suggested. While stressing that the policy of subsidizing foods and fuel to help the poor had been proven to be not effective in the country, Harris said the poor are getting poorer in terms of present day cost, and the rich are getting richer. He said the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi himself had even acknowledged that the diesel subsidy does not help the poor, but the middle and upper classes. He quoted the Prime Minister as having said that subsidies on diesel alone had reached RM45 billion a year. It appears that globally, prices of manufactured goods, food and of course oil, have been going up all the time. This upward trend will continue in tandem with the adjustment of oil prices into its proper value. “It must be remembered that most of the products from developing countries have been suppressed by developed countries for centuries. Compare for instance the price of timber, say 30 years ago and today, where the increase is only between 10 and 20 per cent whereas the price of D6C (logging tractor) has increased by more than 800 per cent.. “Therefore, developing countries must accept these increases as these will also eventually adjust the prices of commodities and products of developing countries which will benefit the farmers,” said Harris. The failure of rural economic policies in the developing countries, particularly Malaysia, according to Harris, is also largely due o the shortcomings of Government policies and management. “The famous Mr (Nelson) Mandela’s widely reported words that poverty is ‘our own making’ are very true. “The failure of Malaysia’s policies and programs is also due to the fact that subsidies especially of cheaper imported foods which have resulted in agricultural and other local products fetching prices far below actual labour costs. “This also means that the rural people are subsidizing the middle and upper classes and the international market. Unless and until all rural agricultural produce such as rice, are adjusted to the real international prices, the rural people will be reluctant to toil their land. “It is heartening to note that now the Thai and the Vietnamese rice farmers are getting a fair price for their rice and thus have a comfortable livelihood,” he added. Harris also said that Malaysia spent more than RM3O billion annually on tood imports and the Government had encouraged farmers to grow more and more food crops, but till this day, the trend is the other way round with the production of food crops decreasing while the import of food products continues to increase. He noted one of the reasons for these increases in food imports is the preference by Malaysians to consume imported goods such as the Avian water from France. “Surely Malaysians can produce quantities of mineral water whose quality is at par with imported ones. But why? Something must be wrong somewhere,” Harris said. According to him, there is no reason for Malaysia not being able to reduce the food imports with proper policies and programs. He recounted that successive Prime Ministers had repeatedly said that there were more than four million hectares of abandoned alienated land in Malaysia. “At least 30 per cent of these areas are suitable for rice planting. Thus, if only 20 per cent of these areas were to be cultivated, Malaysia would have the capacity to reduce its rice imports. “The removal of any subsidy which would automatically adjust the price of rice and other commodities to the real market price will provide the inceive to make planting profitable to the farmers,” he suggested. Harris said other important issues which the Government should look into are the minimum basic wage for ordinary workers and the system of piece work contract such as for harvesting oil palm fruits. He said that some plantations are still paying the same rate with little or no increase at all per ton under this system even though the price of Fresh Fruit Bunch (FFB) had increased by more than double. “Many countries around the world have a minimum basic wage and increasing piece—work contracts in which wages are paid according to prevailing market prices. It is high time for the Government to seriously consider this so as to be consistent with its various policies aimed at increasing the incomes of the poor,” Harris added.


SMK Keningau II, SIC Pasir Putih still champions


SMK Keningau II and SK Pasir Putih repeated their success last year when they emerged as the champions of the Upper Interior Shell Traffic Education Program for secondary and primary school categories held at the community hall compound here yesterday. SMK Gunsanad also defended it position in second place while SMK Nabawan, which took part for the first time, was third in the secondary school category. SK Luagan and SK Pekan Keningau were second and third respectively in the primary school category. Eleven secondary schools namely SMK Bingkor, SMKTenom, SMKNabawan, SMK Keningau, SMK Apin-Apin, SMK Keningau II, SMK Gunsanad, SMK Gunsanad II, SM St Francis Xavier, SMJK Ken Hwa and SMJK Chung Hwa Tenom took part in the program. The 16 primary schools were SK Banjar, SK Merampong, SKKepayan Baru, SKPekan Keningau, SJK Yuk Yin, SJK St Francis Xavier’s, SK Luagan, SK Tuarid Taud, SK Pasir Putih, SK Binaong, SK Bulu Silou, SK Sook, SK Liau, SK Magatang and SK Pekan Tambunan. In his officiating speech, Bingkor Assemblyman Justin Guka said the program could educate secondary and primary school students on traffic laws and regulations. Present at the function were District Officer Haji Zulkifli Nasir, Sabah Shell representative Eddie Abdullah, Road Safety Department Sabah Branch Director Irdrinshah Abdul Karim, Assistant District Officer George Kandavu and Liawan People Development Leader Rosdi Padiman.


Man refuses assistance after falling into drain


A young man who fell into a 10-meter high drain at Taman Foh Sang here yesterday, caused a commotion when he refused to be rescued by a team from the Fire and Rescue Services Department. It was said that the man, who sells pirated discs in the area, had accidentally fallen into the drain after consuming alcoholic drinks at a nearby shop around 3pm. When the public saw what had happened, they immediately contacted the police and Fire and Rescue Services Department. He climbed into a narrow hole when the firemen came to his rescue. The firemen opened the cover and dragged him out of the hiding place. The police detained him after he had climbed out of the drain with a ladder.


Workshop on managing Borneon elephants


A three-day international workshop to promote a better management of the Borneon elephant population in Sabah will be held in Tuaran from May 21-23. The workshop, themed Conservation of the Borneon Elephants, will be organised by the Wildlife Department together with its main partners, namely the Cardiff University, University Malaysia Sabah (UMS) and WWF-Malaysia. More than 100 participants from Malaysia and around the globe, including elephant biologists and experts, will present the result of the works carried out during the last eight years. They are also expected to discuss these results with all stakeholders involved in the conservation of elephants in Sabah.


Free installation of prosthesis


All the Moral Uplifting Societies in Sabah and the Thailand Queen Mother Prosthesis Installing Foundation are jointly Organising a campaign to provide free installation of artificial legs at Che Sui Khor Pavilion in Kota Kinabalu from August 3-8. The campaign is sponsored by benevolent people from Thailand and Malaysia to help the disabled, said Mr Shim Bui Sia, the Chairman of Che Yee Khor Moral Uplifting -Society of Lahad Datu. In Malaysia, there are more than a thousand amputees but there is no available figure of such handicapped people in Sabah. The Foundation will be sending specialists and volunteers from Thailand to assist in the voluntary tasks. All the disabled from Sabah, regardless of race and religion, are welcome to come for the free beneficial treatment as several types of artificial legs are available for all levels of amputation. Shim urged the public to call the Society in their area if they have any disabled friends or family members who need the free installation of prosthesis. His hand phone number is 013-8868099.


Most cooperatives in Sabah doing well


Kosan and Koperasi Pelancongan Mukim Batu Puteh Kinabatangan Berhad (Kopel) are among the most active and successful cooperatives in Sabah, said Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Yahya Hussin. He said that as at December 31 last year, there were 511 registered cooperatives in Sabah involved in various business operations and activities. “The performance of all the registered cooperatives in Sabah is very encouraging,” he said. Yahya, who is also the Agriculture and Food Industry Minister, said during the state- level meeting of the Sabah Cooperative Coordination Development Council here yesterday that the State Government has awarded a RM1 .8 million contract to Kosan to supply school uniforms to primary students in Sabah last year. “This year, the State Government through the Yayasan Sabah has offered a contract worth RM16.7 million for the supply of school uniforms to students in the primary schools,” he said. As for Kopel, Yahya said the cooperative is involved in eco-tourism programmes such as Homestay, boat services for tourists along the Kinabatangan River, adventure service and cultural performance. “Last year, Kopel brought in some 918 tourists from Europe, Australia and other Asian countries,” he said, adding that out of the 511 cooperatives, 49 of them are involved in land development. These cooperatives own some 23,886.85 hectares, of which some 18, 593.95 hectares had been developed and planted with oil palm and rubber. “For instance, Koperasi Putera Berhad sealed a joint-venture with Sabah Rubber Industry Board in planting rubber on 1985 hectares, while United development Cooperative Society Limited developed and planted its 501.7 hectares with oil palm,” he said.


Trio who used modified plastic bottles for break-ins arrested


Three men who had been using modified plastic bottles to break into houses were arrested recently, and items worth RM 15,000 were seized from them. District Police Chief DSP Madang Usat said the trio, aged between 26 and 34, all locals, were picked up from a house at Phase 2 of the Beverly Hill Apartments here. “Based on a public tip-off, we manage to track down the three men and made the arrest. We also recovered three laptops, of which two are of Acer brand and one IBM, a Canon digital camera and jewellery items worth a total of RM 15,000,” he said. Madang said the trio had cut out a portion of the plastic bottles and used it to break into houses. One of the incidents, involving the trio, was believed to have occurred on April 4 where a 43-year-old woman reported that her house was broken into and several valuable items were reported missing. “We actually recovered some of the jewelleries from a goldsmith here. It is an offence to be in possession of stolen goods and you can be classified as an accomplice in the case,” he said. Madang said the case is investigated carries a jail sentence of between six months under Section 411 of the Penal Code which to five years.


Projects: Adhere to by-laws, says CM


Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman has urged all the local authorities, including the Kota Kinabalu City Hall, to closely monitor the implementation of every development project in their respective areas. He said this is to ensure that the projects are carried out in compliance with regulations and procedures so as not to create unnecessary setbacks later on. “While we want progress and development for the City, you play a very important role in ensuring that all regulations and by-laws are strictly adhered to by all parties concerned, particularly when new developments are concerned,” said Musa at the launch of City Hall’s book entitled “Our City Kota Kinabalu -The Man at the Helm” here yesterday. The full colour hardback 10- chapter book was written by Rosie Inus Molukun, the Mayor’s Press Officer cum Administration Officer in the Mayor’s office. Musa, who was represented by his Assistant Minister Datuk Edward Khoo, said the rapid pace of development over the last eight years since Kota Kinabalu was elevated to City status, has created conditions different from that in the past. He noted that the changes in the City were so noticed, especially in the booming commercial development areas that it could be difficult to keep an overview of how all these changes have transformed the State Capital. As a young City, Kota Kinabalu would continue to develop and that City dwellers should be proud to see that it has continued to progress, especially in terms of socio-economic development. “The publication of this book is also timely, as it is in line with the development agenda of the Sabah Development Corridor. “The State Government will continue to assist Kota Kinabalu City Hall to ensure that the City will continue to progress and develop in tandem with its status as one of the rapidly growing Cities in this region,” Musa assured. Mayor Datuk Iliyas Ibrahim said the book among other things detailed about the history of Kota Kinabalu, the City as a tourist destination and its agenda on cleanliness, beautification and safety and development plans for the City. He said the City Hall has previously published two books, namely “Kota Kinabalu - Laying the Foundation for a Great City of the Future” in 2005 and the “1st Mayor of Kota Kinabalu City” in 2006.


Lavish lifestyle at refugee camp
Drug peddler stripped of RM222,690 propert deported: Police


He was a settler at the Kinarut Resettlement Area, which is home to an undetermined number of foreigners, hut his lavish lifestyle was in stark contrast to the largely spartan existence of those all around him. With at least RM 222,690 worth of property, this foreigner was much wealthier than most Sabahans, thanks but no thanks to his ill-gotten gains from peddling drugs. The long arm of the law has finally caught up with him, and besides being stripped of his assets acquired with money from the illegal activities, he was deported to his country of origin. The story of this man, which was related by State Narcotics Unit Chief, Superintendent Yap Toon Khuan yesterday, should not come as a big surprise to his fellow settlers as well as locals, for what was originally a refuge for Filipinos fleeing the war in southern Philippines has long been known as a hotbed of criminal activities and has even been described as “the mother of all social problems in Sabah”. Yap said: “The man was one of the residents in the Kinarut Resettlement Area. He was living a lavish life; he had air-conditioned house, good furniture and vehicles; all bought with money made from selling drugs in the last six years.” The man was among five people from the resettlement area charged under the Restricted Residence Act. Two of them are currently detained at PPA Muar, one was sent to PPA Batu Gajah Perak and one to PPA Spg Renggam, Johor. “Although we have succeeded in reducing the number of traffickers and addicts in Kinarut, we are still not satisfied over the situation there,” said Yap. “We have done so many things, and while the situation would see slight improvement after major operations in the area, it would be back to square one after a certain period,” he said. “This is among the dilemmas we are facing and we hope the relevant authorities as well as the public would also play their role to help us eradicate social ills and criminal activities in the resettlement site.” According to Yap, during one of the major operations in the area, many of the people currently living there are renting the houses from original occupants. “We believe the best way to identify these residents is by doing profiling of each person. Today, we do not have a proper record of residents living in the resettlement area,” he said, stressing that such measure would help a lot in eradicating drug abuse in the area. Yap said although the drug situation in Sabah is still under control, he stressed that there is no room for them to be complacent. “Our proximity to neighbouring countries does not help matter and although it is not that obvious, we are doing our level best to prevent the spread of drug abuse in the State,” he said. Yap disclosed that the resettlement area, which was established under the United Nations Commission of Human Rights (UNCHR) in 1983, has 14 blocks of houses marked A to 0, and currently has a population of about 3,066. “Last year alone, we conducted 85 normal operations and one planned operation in the area and a total of 72 people, aged between 18 and 40, were rounded up for involvement in drug abuse,” he said. At least four people were arrested under Section 39A (2) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952, which carries death penalty, while under Section 39A (1), a total of four cases were opened following nine arrests. “Overall, we have opened 204 cases and arrested 226 people, among whom 76 were illegal immigrants. We also seized 101.56 grammes of syabu from the Kinarut resettlement area alone, and it was valued at around RM 36,000,” he said. In the first four months this year, the Narcotics Unit bad carried out 31 operations in Kinarut, out of which 86 investigation papers were opened and 94 people arrested. “We however noticed that the number of cases and arrests drops every time after our planned operations,” he said. Based on the Unit’s planning and investigation, as well as tip-offs from the public, they have busted at least eight drug distribution cases, he said.