Thursday, May 29, 2008


International AIDS Memorial Day


“Never give up, never forget” is the theme of the International AIDS Memorial Day (IAMD) 2008. Also known as the International AIDS Candlelight Memorial (IACM), the event is the oldest and biggest grassroots mobilisation campaign to enhance the awareness on HIV/AIDS across the globe. The occasion is also held in the memory of those who had succumbed to this scourge, as well as to give support to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS) patients who are still alive. For 2008, this event is held for the 25th time worldwide. It is to combat the stigma and discrimination that comes along with this disease apart from moving the society to actively respond to the prevention and care support for the people living with HIV/AIDS (PLHIVs). According to Datuk Mohd Zaman Khan, the IAMD Organising Committee Chairman and Malaysian AIDS Foundation trustee: “IAMD gives us a platform to rededicate ourselves to the fight against HIV/ AIDS”. Meanwhile, the Malaysian AIDS Council President and Malaysian AIDS Foundation chairman Professor Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman said this is the first time that the IAMD is held in an open-door concept with the community. “I hope this will empower people living with HIV and raise awareness among Malaysians. “The biggest obstacle they are experiencing is the stigma and discrimination from the society”, said Prof Adeeba. She said Malaysians should be matured and change their perception towards the PLHIVs. For HIV carrier Chandran, not his real name, his 18 years experience as a drug addict was painful. “I was shunned by the society, including my own flesh and blood”, he said. Chandran, 38, said he started to flirt with drugs when he was 17, at the urging of his schoolmates. “After I was confirmed as a HIV carrier in the year 2000, I lost all hope to continue living. I kept resorting to drugs without realising that there are people who still care for me. “I still have my mother, who provides me with the determination to fight my drug addiction. Now I realise that by contracting the HIV, it is not the end of my life as there is still a long journey for me to go through”, he said. “I had been in the police lock up for seven times and was imprisoned for one year. Those times, only my mother cared for me but not my siblings. Chandran admitted that it was not easy to get away from drugs, but his mother gave him the support and encouragement that he needed. Now the ‘born again’ Chandran has a Diploma in Psychology from Sunway University and works fulltime for the Malaysian Aids Council (MAC), helping to free others from drug abuse.


22 pirate, transport vehicles detained


Police detained 22 pirate transport vehicles operating around the town area on Tuesday. District Police Chief DSP Zahari Mohammad who disclosed this yesterday, said it is an offence operating public transportation without a valid permit. “They could face a fine of between RM1,000 and RM1O,000 or one year’s jail if convicted under Section 33 of the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board (CVLB) Act 1987,” he told reporters. According to him, in the operation on Tuesday, police detained eight Kancil cars, Proton Iswara (four), Proton Saga (four), Proton Wira (three) and a Kelisa, a van and a Kenari. “From police investigation, eight of the drivers were Bajau, five Dusun, three Filipinos, a Suluk and a Tator,” He said. Zahari said police also issued summons to seven vehicles without licenses, 11 for offence under Section 33 of the CVLB Act 1987, expired road tax (one), expired licenses (two) and driving without licenses (two). He said the police would also check the registration of the detained vehicles at the Road Transport Department to find out their actual owners. According to him, all the vehicles were released yesterday after investigation and the owners were given a stern warning to stop pirate taxi operation in the district. Zahari also urged the public to use licensed public transportation for their safety. “I also urge the operators of public transportation vehicles such as taxis and buses to continue their services until nighttime. This is the only way to prevent the public from using pirate transport,” he added.


Meet Johnny, the turtle man


While Johnny Appleseed planted apple seeds in the American wilderness and greened the land, Johnny alias Hasbullah Buis is helping to keep the turtle population thriving in the island wildlife parks off Sabah. Even after having worked for 23 years on Pulau Bakkungan Kechil, one of the three islands of the Pulau-Pulau Penyu Park, Johnny looks forward with enthusiasm to the dawn of a new day. “I have never felt bored with my work because the important thing is that I am able to help safeguard the turtles which come to nest in this park,” he told Bernama here. Having started work as a park assistant in 1985, he has progressed into a research assistant whose field of work covers Pulau Bakkungan Kechil and the other two islands, Pulau Selingaan and Pulau Gulisaan, making up some 1,740 hectares. Johnny’s work covers tagging turtles, transferring turtle eggs to the hatchery, maintaining the turtle hatchery, and releasing baby turtles into the sea. He said he has grown accustomed to living away from his family which occupies the staff quarters here. He is not alone on the island though. For company, he has seven other staff on Pulau Bakkungan Kechil, comprising a park ranger and six junior assistants. Johnny said their place of work was close to the Malaysia-Philippines border but none of them feared for their safety as there was a military post on the island. - Bernama


Khirudin new Sabah Fire and Rescue Services Dept Director


Outgoing Sabah Fire and Rescue Services Department Director Haron bin Tahir handed over his duty to Khirudin bin Drahman @ Hussaini at the Fire and Rescue Services Department Headquarters in Likas yesterday. Haron who is from Johor, became the Director in January 2006 while Sibu-hailed Khirudin was the Assistant Head of Director of Training Division, Putrajaya before he was transferred to Sabah. During the ceremony, Petronas Sdn Bhd handed over a RM20,000 cheque to the Department for the Sabah Cadet Firefighters Competition. Also present were Petroas Sabah and Labuan Territory General Manager Haji Burhan Bin Rasit, Petronas Carigali Sabah General Manager Chris Poheng UjiandPetronasDagang Sdn Bhd Manager Hadimion Jonimul.


Alarming increase of fire deaths in first four months


An alarming increase in the number of fatalities caused by fire was reported between January and April this year, compared to cases in previous years. National Fire and Rescue Services Department Director Khirudin B Drahman @ Husaini said eight deaths were recorded in the first four months of this year while there were only 18 fatalities recorded between 2005 and 2007. “In 2005 there were 11 recorded deaths, four in 2006 and three in 2007, while for the first four months of this year, there were already eight deaths and five injuries recorded,” he said. According to Khirudin, 99 percent of the fire cases recorded were usually caused by human negligence and lack of awareness of the importance of fire prevention. “It is very important for the people to know the methods to prevent and put out fire because most of the cases involved the elderly and children who were trapped by fire and needed assistance. “Therefore I advise the people to respond to the fire first and put it out when they encounter such an incident. I also urge every household to put a fire extinguisher in their own home as it is very important in the instance of a fire breaking out,” he said. Khirudin added that the 3E education, engineering and enforcement method is used in fire prevention and the involvement of the public and the relevant authorities is needed. He also advised the public to be extra careful when dealing with the usage of electricity, the storage of highly flammable things and to look after the elderly as well as children especially during the Kaamatan Festival. However, Khirudin said that there was a decrease in the number of fake calls made by the public since the introduction of a system to detect calls made through the emergency number 999. “Between January and April this year, we only received nine fake calls compared to 77 calls made from 2005 until 2007,” he said, adding that 246 calls received were fire reports and 151 calls were for rescue service. As for the losses incurred by fire, he said the statistics recorded RM14.8 million while RM51.9 million losses were recorded in cases needing rescue service, between January and April this year. Meanwhile, Khirudin said there are a total of 771 firefighters and 20 fire and rescue stations in Sabah and they will conduct more awareness programmes for the public such as general education for primary and secondary schools and also a mobile exhibition to educate the public on fire prevention.


UTM offers forensic science degree course


Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) has become the first higher education centre in Asia to offer a Forensic Science degree course. Its Deputy Vice Chancellor (Academic & International) Prof Jr. Dr Siti Hamisah Tapsir said the course which starts in July had received the cooperation from the police (PDRM) with the force providing it a forensic laboratory in Cheras for research. “For a start, 14 students will enroll in the course and will undergo practical training at the police forensic lab in May-June next year,” she said at a MoU signing between UTM and PDRM here yesterday. The students would also attend a ‘Moot Court’ to expose them to real court environment and how to become an expert witness. Dr Siti Hamisah hoped that the course would make UTM the Forensic Science learning and research centre not only for Malaysia but also Asia. - Bernama


Police warn of illegal parking


The police will take action on vehicles parked at taxi parking lots and bus terminal. District Police Chief Ahmad Jawina, who issued the warning yesterday, said parking vehicles at the bus terminals or taxi parking lots would affect the business of the commercial vehicles in the area. He said the police would also summon those who double park their vehicles in front of shophouses and at the alleys. “Illegal parking is the main cause of traffic congestion in the town centre,” he said.


Sabah to have Transport Academy


The fourth Transport Academy in the country would be built in Sabah to train Road Transport Department (RTD) officers and personnel from Sabah and Sarawak, said Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Lajim Ukin. He said a 33-acre land at Mile 10, Jalan Sungai Sibuga in the industrial zone in Sandakan had been identified for the proposed RM36 million project. The project to build the Transport Academy complex is expected to commence this year, said Lajim during a working visit to the RTD Sabah headquarters in Penampang yesterday. He said it is among the Federal- funded projects implemented in the State under the current Ninth Malaysia Plan. “Works to build the academy complex will commence after the acquisition of the land as the site for the project is completed,” said Lajim. Also present were RTD Deputy Director General Datuk Haji Solah Hassan, RTD Sabah Director Haji Wan Idrus Wan Sariff and Assistant Director Abdul Rahman Zakaria. Lajim said the existing Transport Academies are located in Melaka, Johor and Kelantan. In another development, Lajim who is also the Member of Parliament for Beaufort, said that last year, the State’s RTD registered RM80 million in revenue collections.


Foreign vehicles to be denied fuel anywhere in country: Abdullah


Foreign- registered vehicles, mainly from Singapore and Thailand, are likely to be denied purchase of subsidised petrol and diesel anywhere in the country under a decision to be made at the Cabinet meeting on Friday. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said yesterday the foreign—registered vehicles might have to pay the market prices for the fuels and not the subsidied prices meant for Malaysians. This ruling will be in addition to an announcement already made preventing foreign-registered vehicles from purchasing the fuels from petrol kiosks within 50km of the Malaysian borders, also from Friday. “Wait for Friday (for the announcement),” he said at Parliament House, here. Last Monday, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad said foreign- registered vehicles from Singapore and Thailand would not be allowed to buy petrol or diesel within 50km of the Malaysian borders from Friday. Referring to Shahrir’s statement, Abdullah said the Government wanted to prevent smuggling out of Malaysian petrol and diesel. He also said that a proposal to implement a fuel subsidy according to the engine capacity of, vehicles would also be considered. On another matter, Abdullah said he had not received any report from the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) on alleged offers made to Members of Parliament from Sabah and Sarawak to cross over to other political parties. On a statement by Terengganu Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said for the Federal Government to hand back management of the oil royalty to the State Government, he said the Government had yet to decide on the matter. The Federal Government had taken over management of the state oil royalty in 1999 after PAS won the State Government in the general election.


Illegals start colony on rented land in Penampang: Council


Landowners in the district have been warned against renting their land to illegal immigrants or face the consequences of their action. District Officer William Sampil in issuing the warning, said a special team to address the matter had been set by and spot checks on landowners in the district would be conducted soon. The team will be assisted by the police and enforcement officers from the State Land and Survey Department, he said, adding that action would be taken against landowners in the district who are found to have rented their land to illegal immigrants. “I have been informed that the illegal immigrants start their own colony on the rented land and this is one reason for the influx of illegal immigrants to the State and district,” he said during the full council meeting here yesterday. “These people would construct houses on the land they rented and their families will live with them. As the family increases, more structures will be put up and soon their relatives will come and build houses there. “With the illegal colonies come many problems, including health and sanitation, as these places do not have proper drainage or sewage systems,” he said, adding that wastes including from humans, are thrown around the colonies or into nearby public drains. “This is a burden to our society and we need not wait any longer to take action as this issue has been highlighted over and over again by the public. So any landowners in the district who are renting their land to illegal immigrants should take this warning seriously and remove the transient migrants from their property,” he said. Meanwhile Council Vice Chairman Chong Pit Fah said after the meeting that action must be taken as the problem had been around for a long time and had to be solved immediately. “How can we allow them to stay on our land and build any kind of buildings without proper drainage or sanitation?” he asked. Two Council members who preferred to remain anonymous, said some of the illegal immigrants are also involved in criminal activities such as drug smuggling and peddling. “It makes sense as without any proper documents, they are unable to secure employment so they deal in drugs and this business is a threat to our children, youths as well as families,” they pointed out. Other matters raised during the meeting were implementation of the new local plan (Putatan), the proposal to prepare a plan for Babagon and a “Total Landscape Master Plan” policy for all areas under the authority of the Penampang District Council.


Ezam lost confidence in PKR’s struggle, says Najib


Deputy Prime Minister and Umno Deputy President Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak yesterday welcomed the readmission of former Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Youth leader Mohamad Ezam Mohd Nor into Umno, and said Ezam’s move showed that he had lost confidence in PKR’s struggle. It also showed that Ezam was convinced of the credibility of Umno and that it was the right platform for his political struggle, he told reporters when commenting on Ezam’s rejoining Umno yesterday. Ezam had handed his application form and RM100 life membership fee to Prime Minister and Umno President Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi after calling on the latter at the Prime Minister’s office at Parliament House. Asked about the Opposition to Ezam’s readmission into Umno from several sections of Unmo Youth, Najib said Umno should open its doors to those who chose to support the Party. “If we pick and choose, we will lose many of those who want to support us,” he said. Elaborating, he said Umno’s history showed that the Party had readmitted many who had opposed it at one time and, as such, Ezam’s readmission was not an issue. Najib acknowledged that it would be difficult for Ezam to gain 100 per cent support based on his having opposed the Government and Umno in the past. - Bernama