Sunday, May 18, 2008


At least 40 Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) transmission towers in the State are vulnerable to theft.
Disclosing this yesterday, Federal Criminal Investigations Department Director, Commissioner Datuk Bakri Zinin, explained that the high tension towers are located close to squatter colonies.
In addition, a total of 3,263 towers are located in isolated areas.
"We realise that even when only three to four metal members are missing, it would affect the tower's structure. Therefore, we would like to encourage the utility companies, such as SESB and Telekom to fence in the towers to deter theft, priority on areas where there is squatter colony nearby,"he said.
Speaking to the media after a meeting with SESB, Telekom, local authorities and government agencies at the Kepayan Police Headquarters, here, yesterday, Bakri said it was timely for all quarters to take the matter seriously.
"For instance, avoid taking illegal immigrants as workers when setting up transmission towers just because of cheap labour. It is an offence,"he stressed.
Describing matters concerning communication and power supply as 'high risk security' to the police, he stressed that they are investigating cable and metal thefts from every angle, including whether they involve syndicates.
Stressing that police cannot be everywhere every time, Bakri urged utility companies to also make use of their respective auxiliary police force to conduct inspection of all transmission towers from time to time.
"Of course we are doing our level best, but we cannot be there all the time. So, we seek cooperation from all quarters to ensure that the areas are well secured," he said.
Asked whether these moves would be able to overcome the problem, Bakri answered:"We cannot promise that it (power collapse) would not happen again. But I believe that by conducting frequent checks, it would at least deter vandals from stealing." He said the public could also play their role by informing the police should they spot any such illegal activities in their area.
"These metals are heavy. It would need lorry to transport the goods elsewhere," he saidd.
On April 21, a 132 kilovolt transmission tower in Kampung Suang Parai collapsed after about 20 metal members were dismantled by thieves. It had caused major power black out for about six hours in 90 per cent of Sabah.
Touching on the case, State Police Commissioner Datuk Noor Rashid Ibrahim said that a river close by could be an alternative mode of transporation for thieves to transport out the metal members.
"We also noticed there are missing metal members on most transmission towers built along the riverside. Therefore, we are also seeking the fishermen's assistance to inform us if they notice boats transporting metal goods out," he said.


After a good night's rest, the group of Malaysian tourists rescued from a quake-hit zone in south-western Sichuan province flew off to Shanghai on Saturday afternoon enroute home.
The 26 of them, including tour guide Lee Kok Leong, arrived at the Chengdu International Airport, wearing new clothes they bought in the city on Friday night after their dramatic airlift from Maoxian, a small foothill town that was only 30 km from the epicentre of the 7.8 magnitude quake in Wenchuan country.
Clutching nothing more than plastic bags containing the same clothes they had wore for the past five days, the tourists are expected to reach Kuala Lumpur today.
They were taken to a shop for a change of clothing after dinner on Friday night. They were driven to the restaurant from a military airbase after a 30 minute helicopter ride from Maoxian.
They took pictures and chatted with Malaysian Consul-General Ayauf Bachi and Malaysian Embassy first secretary Song Leng Kah while waiting for boarding passes to be sorted out.
But for many of them, tears flowed last night when they watched the destruction and massive loss of lives on television.
"When we were in the helicopter flying out, we looked down and saw a lot of loose sand and dust but we never imagined how bad the quake was until we watched the television. We were so, so lucky," said 50 year old Wong Siew Mooi, who is from Raub.
None of the Malaysians were injured despite half of the group were senior citizens, the oldest being 90 year old Elizabeth Louie Wai Lan, who wore a floral cheongsam and walked unaided into the airport.
Their departure came as news broke that a German tourist was pulled out of a wreckage alive under the rubble of a house in Wenchuan after he was trapped for 114 hours.
A group of another 11 Malaysians, who were stranded in the Jiuzhaigou mountain tourist city, left Chengdu on Friday afternoon. They were flown from Jiuzhaigou to Chongqing on Thursday and took a bus to Chengdu Friday morning - Bernama