Friday, May 30, 2008


887 teachers to be posted to Sabah, Labuan in July


A total of 887 attachment teachers will be posted in Sabah and Labuan this July. The teachers are among the more than 5,000 educationists who will be sent on attachment to all Government schools from July to overcome the shortage of teachers in the country, Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong said. He said 1,077 of them would be sent to national-type Chinese schools, 399 people at Tamil schools, 2,980 teachers to national schools and 666 others to special education schools. Speaking to reporters at the Parliament lobby here, he said most of them would be sent to Sarawak, totalling 1,115 people, followed by Sabah (876), Johor (647), Selangor (636), Perak (432), Pahang (356), Kedah (210), Negeri Sembilan (189), Melaka (172), Kuala Lumpur (155), Kelantan (143), Penang (75), Terengganu (80), Putrajaya (25) and Labuan (11). Dr Wee said the teachers would be sent to attend courses to improve their teaching skills during the school holidays. He said the Ministry also conducted interviews for Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) leavers to become teachers, especially at Chinese and Tamil schools. “Teachers with SPM qualification will be sent for a three year training to equip them with the teaching skills,” he added. - Bernama


Shell, SJA join forces to support environmental leadership programme


Shell Malaysia and the Sabah Journalists Association (SJA), two longstanding partners in the annual Kinabalu-Shell Press Awards, this year brought the partnership to a new level when they decided to support an environmental conservation and leadership programme by an international non-profit organisation the Southeast Asian Service Leadership Network (SEALNet) in collaboration with the Sabab Wetlands Conservatiøn Society at the Kota Kinabalu Wetland Centre (KKWC) in Likas here. Shell contributed RM20,000 towards the programme, known as ‘Environmental Awareness In Action’, which will witness 20 American college students interacting with 30 local high school students ma two-week long project at KKWC - a 24-hectare area of mangrove forest which is home to native as well as migratory birds, mangrove crabs and fish. Mr. George Ling, General Manager and Director, Sabah Shell Petroleum Co Ltd, handed over the contribution to the partners - JA President Datuk Joniston Bangkuai, SEALNet Project Leader Mr Wesley Koo and Sabah Wetlands Conservation Society President Datuk Seri Tengku Zainal Adlin in the presence of Tourism, Culture and Environment’ Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun following a courtesy call to brief him on the project. Masidi praised the four partnering organizations for coming together to advocate such a worthwhile project. He added that SEALNet had come to the right place in learning about wetlands conservation efforts as Sabah has two-thirds of the country’s wetlands reserve. “Environmental conservation is everyone’s responsibility and I am happy to see that’ a corporate organization like Shell Malaysia remains committed to this cause,” he enthused. Speaking after the same ceremony, Mr Ling said Shell was happy to be part of this environmental leadership programme. “This is a very commendable effort as it involves the younger generation who will inherit mother nature in the future. Our support reflects our conscious and responsible stand with regards to the sustainable development agenda.” Joniston said the programme fitted very well as a community support project organized in conjunction with the Kinabalu Shell Press Awards this year. “We hope that this programme will further raise public awareness of the importance of our mangrove wetlands and hopefully increase public involvement in wetlands protection,” he added. Wesley hoped that the hands- on experience would act as a capacity building opportunity with the view to impart valuable leadership skills to help participants establish their own sustainable community service projects in the future. In matching the green words with green action, the programme’s participants along with SJA members, Shell and KKWC representatives will plant 100 mangrove tree seedlings as a physical reminder of their commitment towards mangrove conservation at KKWC. Masidi will lead the mangrove tree planting and gotong royong exercise scheduled for June 8, which also marks the final day of the programme.


Take advantage of assistance, Yahya urges fishermen


Fishermen in Sabah should capitalise on the various assistance such as funds and subsidies provided by the Government to help them improve their livelihood, said Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Yahya Hussin. He said many of the fishermen in the State are stifi living in poverty and left out in the mainstream of development in the fishing sector. The Government, he added, had provided various assistance such as loans and subsidies for the fishing community, especially traditional fishermen. “Like people from the other sectors, the Government also want our fishermen to progress economically and come out from the poverty,” Yahya, who is also the Agriculture and Food Industry Minister, said when opening the 11th Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the State Fishermen’s Association (Pengasah) here yesterday. Some 10 regional fishermen’s associations from across the State have joined Pengasah, namely Kuala Penyu, Kota Belud, Semporna, Sandakan, Labuan, Papar Tuaran, Teluk Padas, Tawau and Marudu/Pitas with 5,610 members. Another four regional fishermen’s associations from Kudat, Beluran and Kota Kinabalu have not joined the umbrella body yet. In ensuring that none of the fishermen in Sabah are still lagging behind, Yahya advised Pengasih to take the initiative of coming up with a record on the income of every member. He said such record is useful in determining the level of poverty among the fishermen, apart from making it easier for the Government to provide the assistance to them. “It is also important for fishermen to grab opportunities available in the small and medium industries, seafood business, boat repair and maintenance workshop and other related business,” said Yahya.


Squatters appeal to City Hall to defer demolition


The squatters of Kampung Teluk Likas have appealed to the Kota Kinabalu City Hall to defer demolishing their houses until they are properly resettled as promised by the State Government in 1996. They made the appeal during a peaceful demonstration held at their village yesterday. Some 100 residents of all ages took part in the brief demonstration to highlight their plight over the imminent exercise by the City Hall to demolish their houses on June 2. A total of 147 houses with more than 400 squatters will be affected by the exercise. Their spokesman Yassin B. Amat, 73, claimed that they were victims of improper relocation exercises carried out by the relevant authorities back in 1996 and 1997, to relocate them to the free housing scheme in Kampung Warisan Phase 1 and 2 in lnanam, near here. He said that during the two relocation exercises facilitated by City Hall, only half of the 300 over families were relocated while the remaining failed to do so when their houses were taken by outsiders, due to alleged irregularities in the relocation exercises. “We have concrete evidence to prove this (irregularities),” he stressed. They were subsequently offered the walk-up apartments in Telipok Ria which they turned down, as they could not afford the monthly rental, as well as other expenses like transportation that they would incur if they were to move there. “Furthermore, that (Telipok Ria housing) was not what we have been promised earlier by the State Government. We were supposed to get the free housing in Kampung Warisan Phase 1 & 2,” pointed out Yassin. He also regretted that their numerous written appeals to City Hall, including those by their elected representative, Sepanggar Member of Parliament Datuk Eric Majimbun to rectify the problem, were to no avail. Yassin thus hoped the State Government could immediately intervene and provide for a proper solution to the problem. He especially reminded the State Government that they were hardcore Barisan Nasional(BN) supporters who voted for the Coalition in the last general election. “We hope this (imminent demolition of their houses) is not what we get in return for supporting the BN Government,” he said. He added that they might file for a legal suit to safeguard their rights after this, if the City Hall proceeds with the demolition exercise.


Pension Act (Amendment) 2008 passed, retirement at 58


The Dewan Rakyat yesterday passed the Pensions Act (Amendment) 2008 Bill that will increase civil servants’ retirement age from 56 years to 58, effective July 1. The new ruling involves full- time staff although there is an option for retirement at the age of 55 or 56. The Dewan Rakyat also passed the Local and Statutory Bodies Pension (Amendment) Bill 2008. The bill will incur additional expenditure for the Government although the amount has not been determined. Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Mohd Johari Baharum, said based on a detailed study in 2001 when the retirement age was increased from 55 to 56, the move did not affect unemployment. “There is no political agenda in this matter. If there is, we would have done it before the general election,” he said when winding up the debate on the bill yesterday, adding that the Government would consider increasing the retirement age to 60 in stages. -Bernama


Accept sacked members, says Ghapur


Umno has to be fair to former members who were sacked on disciplinary grounds and wanted to rejoin the party, said MP for Kalabakan Datuk Abdul Ghapur Salleh. He said the readmission of former Parti KeadilanRakyat (PKR) Youth Chief Mohamad Ezam Mohd Noor should open doors to all former members to return to the Party. “We do not want just because we want Ezam back into Umno, we accepted him. “How about other former Umno members who had been slapped with disciplinary action. Is Umno willing to accept them back?” he asked. He was commenting on the acceptance of Ezam’s membership form by Prime Minister and Umno President Umno Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi two days ago. Ezam was formerly the Political Secretary to former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. -Bernama


Sabah Customs intensifies ops against turtle egg smugglers


The Sabah branch of the’ Royal Malaysian Customs is intensifying efforts to check the smuggling of turtle eggs from a neighbouring country by focusing enforcement operations in this district. State Customs Director Datuk Md Yusop Mansor said operations were being focused in this district because of its proximity to the maritime boundary with the Philippines. “The operations against turtle egg smugglers are not only carried out at sea but also on land as various methods are being used by them to deceive the authorities,” he said when contacted by Bernama yesterday. Md Yusop said the operations, which had been intensified recently, had succeeded in confiscating 1,500 turtle eggs estimated to be worth RM11,500 which were being smuggled into Kota Kinabalu on May 20.- Bernama


TNB has not given up on power plant
Company has appealed on proposal to use coal: Masidi


Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) has not given up on its proposal to set up a 300MW coal-powered plant in Sabah. “TNB has appealed on its proposal of using coal technology in Sabah. As for the proposed coal-powered plant at Silam, it is a straightforward answer ‘no’ as decided by the State Government,” Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said at a press conference after attending a briefing! presentation on coal technology organized by Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) at Sutera Harbour here yesterday. According to Masidi, the East Coast of Sabah is facing a serious shortage of power supply and SESB had to conduct the briefing for non-governmental organisations (NGOs) on why Sabah has to use coal to produce electricity. However, several of the participants objected to the proposal. “We are still keeping our option open. Please give SESB a chance to explain the coal technology and environmental mitigation to the NGOs,” said the Minister. SESB Managing Director Jr Baharin Bin Din, who was present, said the focus of the briefing was to highlight the need of electrical power for Sabah and he hoped the participants would realise the advantages of having a coal-powered plant, especially in the East Coast. One of the participants pointed out it would be expensive to import coal from Indonesia to power the plant. “What happens when we have run out of it and who would pay for the expenses in future? “Why don’t we use gas? It is clean and cheap, just like we have seen and experienced in reality today, in Sepanggar!” said the participant. A participant from the public sector spoke on the solar system. “The air that we breath here is natural and Sabahans must know how to utilise it, just like what other developing countries have done to reduce the climate change. Why not think of it as a resource for power supply? “Ninety percent of scientists in Australia believe that it is the best natural resource for the power supply, so if we know how to use our own natural resources here or how to exploit them, it is very beneficial because all these are positive sides that could be applied here,” he said. Unfortunately, an executive from SESB informed that the solar system capacity is not reliable, despite of all its advantages as explained by several NGOs.


Long dry spell ahead
Forestry Director urges precautionary measures over El Nino which could hit


Sabah foresters are calling for precautionary measures to be taken in anticipation of a repeat of the 1 0-year cycle of El Nino dry spell which could hit this part of Southeast Asia. Due to the possibility of a long drawn dry spell affecting the State again, Sabah Forestry Director Datuk Sam Mannan urged the public to take steps to avoid open burning activities near forest areas and peat swamps to prevent major forest fires. He said in the six- month drought in 1983, some I mill ion hectares of forests were destroyed while some 190,000ha including 130,000 ha of permanent forest reserves were destroyed in the 1998 dry spell. “As there are signs of the El Nino cycle returning this year; we, have to take steps to ensure our forest reserves are safe by taking precautionary steps early,” he said in a statement here yesterday. According to him, activities like illegal hunting, shifting cultivation and land development near forest areas are among main factors that could trigger off forest fires during dry spells Sam also urged people living close to peat swamp reserves in Binsuluk, Kuala Abai and Klias to be extra cautious as in the event of peat fires, it would be very difficult to control and extinguish. He advised licence holders of Forest Management Units to step up patrols in high fire risk areas in their respective forest areas, ensure all fire fighting equipment are in working order and check on illegal hunters entering their forest areas. Under the Forestry Enactment those involved in burning activities that could cause a forest fire are liable to seven years jail or a fine of RM100,000 or both, he warned as he asked the people to inform the Department if they come across forest fires.


Last paper airline tickets tomorrow

THE paper airline ticket comes to the end of its life on Sunday when 240 carriers belonging to the world association JATA switch to all electronic ticketing, much of it through Internet booking. IATA members account for 94 percent of world airline traffic and by the end of February, 94 percent of them had already abandoned the rectangle of stiff paper in favour of digital technology. In Africa, 87 percent of IATA airlines had made the switch. The last paper tickets will be sold on Saturday, and the International Air Transport Association estimates that its member airlines will save three billion dollars (1.9 billion euros) a year, a much-needed economy in the face of a huge rise in fuel costs. “From June 1, no travel agent will be able to issue a paper ticket,” an IATA spokesman said. However, paper tickets issued before the deadline will still be valid for the travel dates indicated on them. The issue and handling of a paper ticket costs an airline 10 dollars: its electronic replacement one dollar on average. IATA also calculates that the end of the paper ticket will save 50,000 trees per year. — AFP.