Monday, June 9, 2008


Conservation measures to protect Sabah elephants


Several conservation measures were recommended to enable the future viability of Bornean elephants in Sabah at an international workshop held at Shangri La’s Rasa Ria Resort last month. Issues such as human-elephant conflict, elephant management, habitat management, research and education, fund raising and tourism were discussed and priority actions were set. First, the conference identified four major elephant areas and urged their declaration as ‘managed elephant ranges’: Lower Kinabatangan, Tabin, Deramakot-Sebuku, Ulu Kalumpang. These four elephant ranges should ideally be maintained under natural forest management and all necessary measures to re-establish connectivity within and between these ranges need to be investigated. Other major recommendations included the establishment of a Borneo Elephant Conservation Alliance (BECA) to encourage collaboration and communication among all stakeholders involved in elephant management in Sabah. This alliance will help coordinate fundraising, conservation, research, education and information sharing; produce urgent basic biological information on the Bornean elephant to better understand the dynamics and the ecology of this species in Sabah; decide for and implement a moratorium on new oil palm development within 500m on both sides of the Kinabatangan River and include all State lands covered with forest and adjacent to the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary (LKWS) into the LKWS, more attention to be given to the problem of elephant crop raiding and conflict mitigation; and create a management committee for Responsible Elephant Tourism(RET), chaired by the State Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment.As stated by Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun at the closing ceremony on May 23, “Time is running out fast and there are not many animals left in the wild. If we do not do something urgently I think we are going to lose these animals. This wildlife, as part of the State natural heritage, is the very reason why people come to Sabah. We need to protect wildlife and its natural habitat!” The workshop was hosted by the State Government and co-organised by the Sabah Wildlife Department, Cardiff University, the NGO HUTAN, Universiti Malaysia Sabah and WWF-Malaysia. Funding was provided by the Darwin Initiative for the Survival of Species (UK), the US Fish and Wildlife Service Asian Elephant Conservation Fund (USA), Borneo Conservation Trust (Sabah) and Rasa Ria Resort itself. Around 150 participants from around the globe attended the workshop, including elephant experts from India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, Gabon in central Africa, UK and USA. The aims of the workshop were to present the results of the works carried out during the last eight years and to discuss the results with all stakeholders involved in the conservation and the management of elephants in Sabah. The objectives were to provide a forum for presenting and discussing the results of ongoing studies about the Bornean elephant ecology, its distribution, movement and habitat use, the population genetics, and human-elephant conflicts; to provide sound management recommendations for securing elephants’ long-term survival in Sabah; and to produce a resolution endorsed by all workshop participants and to be tabled before the Sabah State Government in the near future. The workshop was opened by Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Bolkiah Haji Ismail and closed by Masidi, to whom the resolution was presented.




Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) has created history again as it will soon have its own Medical School building worth RM259 million. It will be among the nine higher learning institutions in the Country to have a Medical School. Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled b Nordin in his speech during the ground breaking ceremony of the building yesterday, said that the Federal Government had approved 19 selected projects for the development of UMS under the Ninth Malaysia Plan involving a sum of RM644.389 million. The Medical School which is to be built on 35 acres of land in the main UMS campus, is among the 19 approved projects. “The cost of constructing the school includes the administration office, teaching and learning laboratory, cost related to biomedical, family health, surgery and research centres,” he said. Khaled added apart from being a centre of knowledge, the school could also help to meet the manpower needs. He said one of the Government’s main focuses on developing human capital is to produce more doctors to ease the shortage in the Country. According to him, the current ratio of one doctor to 1,350 people shows that the country still needs doctors. “The Government is aiming to have a ratio of one doctor to 650 people. Now we have about 21,000 doctors in the country. We still need 20,000 more,” Khaled said, adding the school would take three years to complete. Upon completion, the intake of medical students will be increased to 150 a year from the current intake of 71. UMS Vice Chancellor Professor Datuk Dr Mohd Noh Dalimin, who was present at the ceremony, said that opportunity for the University to develop new programs, especially in the medical fields and other related fields, would be opened widely once the building is completed. This can also help to enhance the level of health in community as well as the level of medical services in Sabah and generally in Malaysia, he said. He hoped that more studies could be done, especially on the problem of thalassaemia faced by villagers in Kudat. According to Mohd Noh, to date UMS has a total of 329medicalstudents and has 61 lecturers, including from overseas. Mohd Noh who is going to retire next week, also said that they are waiting for the completion of the Rural Medical Centre in Sikuati, Kudat which is being built at a cost of RM15million on 10 acres of land. He is confident that the University’s desire to have its own teaching hospital will be materialized soon under the Higher Education Ministry’s leadership. Mohd Noh also said that UMS students are using the Likas and Queen Elizabeth Hospitals and other nearby hospitals to do practical training. Also present at the ceremony were Mayor Datuk Iliyas Ibrahimand deans and department heads of the UMS.


Grab opportunities provided at 1 Borneo, says Jainab


Locals, especially the younger generation, have been urged to grab employment and business opportunities provided to them with the opening of 1Borneo, the largest hypermall in East Malaysia. “Of course we are proud with the opening of a hypermall in the Karambunai State constituency but we cannot just stand and watch the success of others,” Assistant Industrial Development Minister Jainab Datuk Ahmad said. The Karambunai Assemblywoman said that about 3,000 job opportunities of all levels are offered by l Borneo and urged locals, especially the unemployed graduates, to apply and fill in the vacancies. Local entrepreneurs should also jump on the bandwagon and take up the business opportunities offered by the hypermall so that they do not lose out to others. “1Borneo has many products and services such as hotels, entertainment, food and beverage and handicrafts to offer and all these need down streaming services,” she said, adding that she is ready to assist those who are interested. Jainab suggested that those involved in the cottage industry take up 1Borneo’s offer to set up stalls there to sell their products. “I know that these entrepreneurs are not ready to take up the offer because they are worried about the high rental and they would not be able to afford it. “But I will help them work something out with l Borneo so that they will not be burdened by the cost of rental,” she said, adding that she would be organising a meeting with the people who are interested to brief them about the opportunities available. The hypermall, she added, was prepared to assist these people by providing them with the necessary training so that the quality of their products is maintained and also teach them how to market the products.


No power rate hike yet
Musa says SESB has not informed State Govt that it wants to increase tariffs


The State Government has yet to be informed by Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) if it has any intention to increase electricity tariffs in Sabah. The issue of an increase has yet to be discussed between the State Government and the utility company, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said. And SESB has also yet to make any announcement if it plans to increase the electricity tariffs in the State, Musa said. “So far there has been no announcement and the matter has not been discussed,” he told reporters after officiating the 1Borneo soft opening and launching of RHB Bank Berhad’s branch at the hypermall yesterday. “If SESB is thinking of increasing the rate, we hope that it will not be too high as it would mean additional burden to the rakyat,” Musa added. When asked about the fuel price hike announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi last week, Musa said it was unavoidable due to the escalating global oil price. The Government, he pointed out, however will do its best to ease the burden felt by the people by implementing steps to help them, especially groups such as farmers, fishermen and those in the low income bracket. “The rakyat have their responsibility also and that is to be thrifty with their spending,” he said adding that the Government will take all necessary steps to ease the people’s hardship. Commenting on 1Borneo, the Chief Minister said the hypermall that houses internationally and regionally- recognised brands, is poised to place Sabah on the map and elevate Kota Kinabalu’s status as a premier shopping destination in the region. Musa said with world-class and regional reputable brands, the establishment of Tune Hotel and Golden Screen Cinemas, this hypermall would certainly emerge as a new, exciting tourism product for Sabah. “1 Borneo is indeed a positive development for Kota Kinabalu city. The outlets in 1Borneo reflect the tastes and lifestyle of the people here. “Of course this is a good start for developing Sabah as a premier shopping destination, thus complementing the State’s tourism attractions,” he said. Musa, who is also State Finance Minister, thanked l Borneo’s developer Sagajuta (Sabah) for being able to complete the project in three years. Earlier, in his speech, the Chief Minister said the State Government was actively promoting tourism to further boost the local economy and create opportunities for the people. “Our State is one that is blessed as we have a range of natural sites and rich culture for travellers from all over the world to enjoy. “We have one of the best diving spots in the world at Pulau Sipadan and we also have Mount Kinabalu for the adventure seekers. However, there are some tourists who prefer shopping holidays and l Borneo is one such product that caters for them.” Musa said tourism receipts were projected to increase from RM2.88 billion in 2006 to a whopping RM48.5 billion in 2025. “We are confident that by diversifying our tourism products, this figure is within reach at the end of the 18-year Sabah Development Corridor period,” he said. Later, Musa officially opened RHB Bank Berhad’s new branch at 1Borneo. Meanwhile, Giant Hypermarket at 1Borneo, a world-class hypermarket that was set up at a cost of RM20 million, opened its doors to Sabahans yesterday. Giant, an anchor tenant at 1Borneo, stocks over 100,000 items of fresh food, daily essentials and consumer goods while being committed to offering low prices, big variety and great value. GCH Retail Sdn Bhd Marketing Director Ho Mun Hao said its investment in 1Borneo created 350 jobs as well as generated business opportunities for traders and small and medium enterprises.