Friday, June 13, 2008


Five checkpoints in Sabah to be built, upgraded


Five permanent checkpoints will be built and upgraded throughout Sabah to prevent the entry of illegal immigrants, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar. These checkpoints with lighting facilities will be located at Jalan Tawau-Kunak, Jalan Papar-Beaufort, Jalan Sandakan-Telupid, Jalan Sipitang-Tenom and Jalan Pensiangan-Kalabakan. Syed Hamid said two controlling centres would also be set up at Wallace Bay and Sg Melayu in Sebatik to maintain security and harmony of the islands near the boundary. Speaking at a press conference at the district police station here yesterday morning, Syed Hamid said the entry of illegal immigrants was a national issue and the figure was not exactly accurate. “More than 2.1 million foreign workers are working in our country where 220,000 are working in Sabah. “It was learnt that there are one million of illegal immigrants in Peninsular Malaysia and 89,000 in Sabah. From the year 2001 until 2008, a total of 122,000 illegal immigrants have been deported from the State while 161,000 have been detained for investigation,” said the Minister who was making a visit to Sabah. “It is not an easy task for us to solve it because it concerns logistics and enforcement between boundaries. The Government wishes to reduce such problem to zero level with the cooperation from all the parties. It is important to solve the problem appropriately,” he pointed out. Touching on the stateless issue, Syed Hamid said a committee had been set up to solve the illegal immigrants problem. “A few groups maybe formed based on their (illegal immigrants) categories. Many matters should be studied deeply, including the sensitivity of the local situation,” he said. Syed Hamid also said his Ministry was concerned over the drug smuggling problem in Sabah which has become serious. Sabah is a strategic place for the smugglers to transit the drugs to other countries. Hence, all the parties should cooperate and act seriously to eradicate the problem, he said. Also present at the press conference were Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Noor Rashid Ibrahim and District Police Chief ACP Jaafar Yusof.


LDP urges Petronas to be more transparent


A call was made for Petronas to be more transparent in its operation by providing all the facts and figures, especially the royalty payments given to the Government. Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Api Api Division Secretary Dr Chang Sui Loong, who made the call yesterday, said that what the Second Finance Minister had stated in his explanation on the necessity to reduce Government oil subsidies can only confuse the people if the facts and figures did not provide the full picture of Petronas’ operation. Chang noted that according to the Government, last year, Petronas contributed RM48 billion to the Federal Government and RM4.14 billion to the State Governments in terms of royalty payments. This year, RM55.7 billion is expected for the Federal Government and RM6.2 billion for State Governments. Last year, the Government spent RM30.8 billion on subsidies. This year, the subsidy payout is estimated to more than double to RM65 billion based on oil price save raging USD125 per barrel. Chang said: “If the people can recall, crude oil price for most part of last year stayed at around USD60 per barrel. Now, it is around USD130 per barrel. In other words, crude oil price has surged by over 217 per cent in the last 12 months. “If Petronas’ production cost has been kept under control, the additional USD70 per barrel should be a clean profit for the Company. Given that oil price increases on a staggered basis this year, the average increase can be taken at say USD50 per barrel (83 per cent increase). “The Advisor of Petronas said in his blog that according to his estimate, Malaysia produces 650,000 barrels of crude oil per day, of which 250,000 barrels are for export. Thus, the total additional profit that can be earned from export for this year as a result of the price increase should be around USD4.56 billion or RM14.5 billion. (250,000 x USD 50 x 365 days). This additional profit coupled with the profit earned in the last three years which the Advisor claimed to be over USD70 billion should be about USD74.56 billion or RM238.6 billion. “Yet, the Second Finance Minister said he expected Petronas to only increase its contribution to RM55.7 billion (a mere increase of 16 per cent) in 2008. “Moreover, if the royalty rebate to the oil producing States can only increase by 49 per cent from RM4.14 billion to RM6.2 billion as estimated, it is inconsistent with the hefty 217 per cent increase (or 83 per cent increase on average) in crude oil price.” Chang also noted that Malaysia’s pump prices now stand at RM2.70 for petrol and RM2.58 for diesel. He pointed out that there are huge differences between these prices and the prices of other oil producing countries as follows: U A Emirates (RM1.19), Egypt (RM1.03), Bahrain (RM0.87), Qatar (RM0.68), Kuwait (RM0.67),Saudi Arabia (RM0.35), Nigeria (RM0.32), Turkmenistan (RM0.25) and Venezuela (RM0.16). Chang said that in stead of comparing our petrol prices with those of non-


Same amenities for rural areas in Sabah
All areas within 30km radius of towns to get basic facilities


Areas within 30km radius from a town and township throughout Sabah will be fully provided with basic amenities within eight years, or before year 2016. Rural and Regional Development Minister Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib said the development in the State will be distributed fairly and equitably so that all the rural areas will enjoy the same amenities as those in other States in the country. Muhammad was speaking after a briefing by Sabah Members of Parliament and State Assemblymen on current issues and the State’s programs at Magellan Sutera Harbour here yesterday. According to Muhammad, the 30km radius development projects will include the provision of water and electricity supplies, roads and other amenities as well as Hardcore Poor Housing Project (PPRT). “The Ministry will monitor the distribution of amenities so that we would know which rural areas have more and which lack the amenities, and we will develop the less developed areas,” he said. However, the provision of amenities for remote areas which are 160km from a town, for instance, will be limited, and special programs such as a solar hybrid will be implemented to provide electricity, Muhammad added. In May and June, the Prime Minister announced a RM1 billion allocation each for Sabah and Sarawak to implement basic amenities, as rural areas in both states are far behind the more developed Peninsular Malaysia. “However, we are more interested in building roads in the villages and rural areas within the 30km radius, which will be connected to the federal roads,” he said, adding that 95 percent of the Peninsular has road infrastructure compared to 40 and 34 percent in Sabah and Sarawak respectively. As for water supply, Sabah and Sarawak have 63 and 62 percent coverages respectively compared to 97 percent in the Peninsular, while electricity supply implementation rate in Sabah is 76 percent and Sarawak is 84 percent compared to 99 percent in the Peninsular. Meanwhile, Muhammad urged the State’s people representatives to provide help regarding land matters as certain projects which have been allocated funds could not be implemented yet due to the lack of land or site. “The Assemblymen have to help so that the projects can be carried out,” Muhammad said, adding that the State Government will also provide help to overcome the problem. He said the allowance for heads of villages will be sent directly to the State Government for distribution along with the additional allowance from the State Government Also present during the briefing were Minister of Rural Development Datuk Seri Panglima Joseph Pairin Kitingan and Deputy Minister of Rural and Regional Development Tan Sri Joseph Kurup.


Silent protest a success, says Hiew


Kota Kinabalu Member of Parliament Dr Hiew King Cheu said the silent protest launched at noon for 15 minutes yesterday on all roads in Sabah against the steep fuel price increase was a success. “From the response of the general public observed today, that was a true reflection of their feelings and sufferings over the fuel price increase. During noon, the roads in the major towns in Sabah showed a great decrease in the traffic flow,” said Hiew who is also the DAP Kota Kinabalu Chairman. He said the fuel price hike not only caused hardship amongst the low income group, but also affected the middle class. “The survey conducted by Sabah DAP shows that the general public has begun feeling the pinch and the heavy financial constraint on their shoulder. Many are also working out plans to cut daily expenses or skip meal in between. The rich may not feel it, but the poor are the first one who get hit,” he added.


Set up safe-city projects to fight crime in Sabah: Lee


The Vice-Chairman of Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF) Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye yesterday recommended the implementation of ‘safe-city or safe-neighbourhood initiatives’ projects in Sabah to help fight crime and create a safe living environment for all. The ‘safe-city or safe-neighbourhood initiative’ is basically an MCPF project designed to create a safe living environment, minimizing the opportunities for crime to take place. In the Malaysia context, the ‘safe-city or safe-neighbourhood initiative’ represents a good example of positive partnership between the Government and citizens working towards crime prevention through environmental design, community development and education. The move entails the mobilisation of all relevant parties like planners and architects, developers, voluntary organizations, local authorities and residents to work in partnership and implement initiatives for crime prevention. What is even more significant is the fact that our ‘safe-city or safe-neighbourhood initiatives’ gather all relevant parties to custom-design solutions to existing problems and to anticipate and prepare for solutions to safety issues within the locality. It has been established that the fear of crime is as serious as crime itself. The use of environmental psychology and environmental design can contribute substantially towards eliminating the fear of crime and reduce crime occurrences. Basically, 10 activities will be undertaken in connection with the implementation of the ‘safe-city or safe-neighbourhood initiatives”.

• Selection of project area in consultation with the Police;
• Identification of target groups in the project area;
• Explaining the concept to the target groups;
• Setting-up the safe-city committee for the project area;
• Identifying crime issues and problems by the target groups and the safe-city committee;
• Solving issues and problems by the target groups;
• Implementing suggestions on crime prevention;
• Monitoring the effectiveness of suggestions and making amendments if necessary;
• Documenting project activities; and
• Monitoring the safe-city concept and continuous follow-up action.

The safe-city or safe-neighbourhood committee will be chaired by a resident’s representative, preferably the chairman of the resident’s association, and comprise representatives from the local authority, the police department, the MCPF, the relevant government agencies, non-governmental organizations the developer and professionals like architects, planners, etc. Lee said the implementation of the ‘safe- city or safe-neighbourhood initiative’ requires concerted effort and cooperation between all parties concerned with the community - from city planners and architects who design the environment, developers who build it, Government officials responsible for administering the community and the residents who live there - all working towards creating a safer living environment. The occurrence of crime is a reminder that the people must never take safety and security for granted. It is appropriate that the ‘safe-city or safe- neighbourhood initiative’ be implemented to mobilize community efforts in crime prevention. While we recognise that the police have a major role to play to combat crime, the responsibility is not theirs alone. While Malaysia is a comparatively safe country to live in, its citizens and residents should always be conscious of the need to be vigilant and help participate in crime prevention efforts, said Lee. Besides contributing towards crime prevention, the ‘safe-city or safe- neighbourhood initiative’ also aims to build strong neighbourhood links and forge greater community co-operation which are essential in our multi-racial society. Through such initiatives and working towards a common objective of building safer cities, all those involved in the implementation of the ‘safe-city or safe- neighbourhood initiative’ can help foster and strengthen inter racial harmony and unity in our country, Lee added.


Commission to probe illegals welcomed, says Suhakam


Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) Vice Chairman Tan Sri Simon Sipaun yesterday welcomed the setting up of a Royal Commission of Inquiry to look into issues pertaining to illegal immigrants in Sabah. “Personally, I support the proposal to have a Royal Commission of Inquiry over the longstanding issue. But the matter has yet to be discussed by Suhakam,” he said. Matters pertaining to illegal immigrants were among the most talked about topic during a dialogue on Politics and Civil Rights here yesterday. “This issue has not been discussed entirely by Suhakam. What I have said earlier is my personal view on the setting up of the Commission,” said Simon. “My support towards the setting up of the Commission is not because it could probably solve the longstanding issue affecting Sabah, but like the Lingham video clip, we were able to dig into the issue and identify the caller and who was responsible in the case,” said Simon after the dialogue. The event was also attended by other Suhakam officials, namely Tan Sri Asiah Abu Samah, Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria, Datuk Dr Micheal Yeoh, Datuk Siva Subramaniam and Tunku Datuk Nazihan Tunku Mohamed Rus. Simon said that the setting up of an ordinary committee would not be able to resolve problems concerning illegal immigrants, as it would not be effective, especially in calling politicians and influential leaders to facilitate their investigation. He said his view is in line with the people of Sabah’s needs. “However, I cannot speak on behalf of Suhakam but since this issue was raised during the forum today, we might bring it to our (Suhakam) meeting,” he said. Earlier in his speech, Simon described issues pertaining to illegal immigrants as the mother of all problems in the State. The problem started in the 1960s and relatively, it could ‘have been handled by the Government then, but since it was neglected, the issue has grown and is becoming worse today, he said. “This could probably be one of the main reasons for the popular demand to have the Royal Commission of Inquiry look into the issue. I believe that the idea to set up the Commission is to find out the root of this problem,” he said. He said he also believed that setting up more temporary detention centres would not solve the problem. “Instead, it will make things worse as what had happened before this,” he said.


Eco-certification for tourism products
Program to ensure industry developed sustain ably: Masidi


An eco-certification program, as proposed in the Sabah Development Corridor Blueprint, will be developed by the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment to ensure sustainable development of tourism. According to its Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun, the eco-certification will be part of the benchmarks to be developed for accreditation to indicate the quality and standards of our tourism products. “This program aims to make sure that every development project is eco-friendly, and takes into consideration any products for conservation,” he said, adding that the program will enhance the products. Masidi said the program is a growing trend in Europe where people prefer to patronize outlets which are eco-friendly, and the value of a product would be added instead of creating a new product. “We will invite an independent body to give the certification for the products that meet certain standards that we will use to measure the products,” he said, adding that the program will hopefully be conducted before the end of this year. “As about 80 percent of tourists come to Sabah for leisure and recreation, we have to ensure that we not only have new and innovative products that meet their needs and expectations but also high standards and quality of delivery of the products and services to encourage them to return for repeat visits,” he said. Masidi was speaking at a seminar on Sabah Tourism Industry Towards 2025, which was themed ‘Strengthening Sabah Tourism Towards a Vibrant Premier Tourism Destination” at Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort here yesterday. It was attended by 200 tourism industry players and representatives. Also present at the one-day event were Deputy Secretary General (Tourism) in the Ministry of Tourism Dr Junaida Lee Abdullah, Institute for Development Studies Executive Director Datuk Dr Mohd Yaakub Hj Johari and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment Suzannah Liaw. The seminar, which consisted of presentations and workshop, was organised to inform the stakeholders of the mission, vision, strategies and programmes of the SDC Blueprint with respect to the development of the State tourism industry and to obtain feedback to further chart the direction of the industry. According to Masidi, the visitor arrivals in 2007 yielded a total of about RM4.7 billion in tourism receipts for Sabah, contributing some 14.6 percent to Sabah GDP. He said the arrivals jumped by about 220 percent compared to the previous year. “A working target of 3.4 million visitor arrivals by 2010 has been set to provide a focus and thrust for development of tourism; new and appropriate products and services as well as supporting infrastructure,” he said. Masidi said the Sabah Tourism Masterplan 1996, which provides the framework and direction for policy, development and growth of tourism for a period of 15 years from 1995 to 2010 in the State, needs to be reviewed and updated as it is drawing to a close. “It is not only to keep the State tourism roadmap for development and growth current and relevant but also to achieve the vision and meet the objectives presented in the SDC Blueprint,” he said. Masidi said the blueprint, which can transform Sabah into a very desirable destination for tourists, can be realised in three development phases of specific target time-lines for steady growth and positioning of Sabah into a vibrant destination. “Of course, this vision also requires that we take the necessary measures to sustainably manage, protect and conserve the very resources that constitute the foundation of our tourism development and the long-term future of the industry in the State,” he said. Masidi said Sabah’s environmental resources are fundamental assets that will continue to determine the State’s market positioning as a Premier Nature and Adventure Destination. He said that while innovation is encouraged, the core values and integrity of local cultures should be understood and observed at all times and as much as possible maintained and preserved. “We would do a great disservice to our cultural heritage if we carelessly substitute authenticity with creations that completely alter the traditional values and essence of our traditional culture for short-term objectives and gain,” he said. He added that while the tourism in Sabah is still heavily reliant on air access and direct flight connections, the rising fuel costs can be surmounted if we have a clear understanding of the visitor generating markets, needs and behaviour, and respond accordingly with appropriate marketing and product development strategies,


Forum on countering effects of surging fuel prices tomorrow


A forum to educate the public in countering the effects of the global fuel prices hike will be held tomorrow, June 14. With the theme “Economy in jeopardy,” the three-hour event, organised by the Sabah Progressive Party’s Progressive Institute of Public Policy Analysis (PIPPA), will begin at 9am at the Sabah Trade Centre. According to the Organising Chairman, Datuk Tham Nyip Shen, the short duration may not be able to cover the entire topic but it has to start somewhere. “It would be good if the public could show some response during the seminar so that together we will be able to join hands and find a way to tackle the current economic crisis following the increase in oil price,” he said. He said the forum, which is conducted for free, will share with participants studies done by the speaker to enable them to better understand the current economic situation. “There is no use in being angry, and instead let us find the right measures and work closely with the Government to address the global crisis,” Tham said. “In particular, I would like to highlight that the differences between the demand and supply as a whole is versatile. In other words, the gap between the oil supply and demand is getting narrower. We actually realise one thing that the traders have been very irresponsible and that they have manipulated the oil prices ... this, unfortunately, cannot be stopped,” he said. Tham, who is also the PIPPA Chairman, said that under such circumstances, the question would be whether the people and the Government would suffer together. SAPP, being a responsible political party, he said, would like to make an effort to share the findings with the people. He stressed that a number of measures could be done such as changing the lifestyle and even changing the way the country is run. “For example, today the public consumes 20 per cent of the energy. But switching the lights off would probably cause security problem. So, it is not possible for the Government to just switch it off to save the 20 per cent energy consumption,” he said. On the other hand, new technologies could probably address the problem by coming up with a more efficient energy usage such as the application of Light Emitting Diode (LED) technology. It produces cost-effective lighting system that consume less than half of the power currently used. It consumes only 30 per cent of the actual power. “I would like to propose to the Government to come up with policy that encourages the public to have energy saving by giving incentives to people who make effort to save energy consumption. “For instance, if the electricity bill is RM100 a month and there is an effort to reduce it by half, the Government should give a reward in the form of subsidy,” he said. This, in the long run, would help the Government to reduce energy usage, he added.


Giant footprints cause stir


Villagers here were shocked by the discovery of two extra large footprints near the fence of an orchard at a rural village. They probably resembled those mentioned many times in foreign reports in claims of sightings of the mysterious ‘bigfoot’. The shocker had been spreading like wildfire in Daro district for the past few days and among those drawn to the phenomenon was local businessman Tan Soon Kuang. Yesterday, Tan, 42, e-mailed the images of the mysterious creature’s footprints. He said he personally went to the village (which he refused to name out of respect for the wishes of locals) to check on the truth of the story. “The truth is in the photographs that I have taken with my camera,” he said to The Borneo Post in a telephone interview yesterday. According to him, the footprint measures 47 inches from heel to toe and 17 inches sideways, clearly too gigantic for any normal human being. Asked when and how he went to the village and took the photos, Tan answered: “I went there last Wednesday, June 11 after I heard about the news. “I drove about five minutes from Daro town to the village. Then, I walked on foot along a footpath for quite a few minutes to the place where I met many villagers who were gathered there. “Then some villagers pointed to the big footprints. I was shocked to see them and was excited as I took those photographs.” On his conversation with the villagers, he said: “When I asked the villagers the first time they discovered the two big footprints, they told me it was last Monday, June 9. “They also told me that they now recall that before they came across the footprints, the villagers had, a few months ago felt uncomfortable and sick as if there was something ‘unclean’ in the air. “They said they decided to look for a ‘bomoh’ (medicine man) who told them to go to an area, dig a small hole, then build a fence around it. The bomoh further told them to make offerings outside the fenced area. “And then last Monday morning the villagers saw the two big footprints outside the fenced up area.” Tan further said: “When I asked the villagers if they were afraid or not they told me some were afraid; other just curious. But all of them apparently believe that the place was ‘unclean’. “The villagers were now clearing up the footpath leading to the large footprints in anticipation of more people coming to have a look at the footprints. “The villagers also told me that it was not the first time that they saw such mysterious big footprints in their village. In fact, the first time they saw such big footprint was about 50 years ago.” Asked if there is any possibility that the footprints were man-made or false, Tan said it would be tough act for a person to do, to create such a mark on the hard ground. Jemoreng assemblyman Abu Seman Jahwie when contacted yesterday said he heard about such discovery somewhere in a village in Daro area. Asked if he thinks it is real, he replied: “Sorry, I can’t say. It could be just rumours. I have not been to the place. I am now in Matu.” The story has spread to Sibu. Here, Abdul Aziz Pung, who is very familiar with Daro, when contacted for his comments, said he had heard about the footprints from friends and relatives. “Yes, they said it is true. Initially I laughed it off, but then some of my friends who came down to Sibu town convinced me that they are real. I may be going there soon to see them for myself.”


Income tax cut possible
2009 Budget proposals may include income tax exemption or reduction


Personal income tax exemption or reduction to lighten the people’s burden following the fuel price hike and food supply crisis is among the proposals put forward during the 2009 Budget consultation yesterday. Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop said the proposal was made by several Barisan Nasional (BN) Members of Parliament during the consultation between the BN Backbenchers Club and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is also Finance Minister, at the Finance Ministry here. “We will include this point as a proposal and see whether it will be implemented in this budget,” he told reporters after the consultation. According to records, personal income tax exemption and reduction to one or two percent had been implemented on 91,000 tax payers in the 2002 Budget. Nor Mohamed said at the moment, only one million of the 10.5 income earners in Malaysia paid tax. He said those who were single and earning less than RM2,950 monthly need not pay income tax, while those married and with children were also not required to pay the tax if they earned less than RM3,200 monthly. “Out of one million tax payers, only 38,000 pay at a high quantum of 28 percent.” Nor Mohamed said income tax contributed about RM10 billion out of the estimated national income at RM147 billion this year. He said the 2009 Budget would also focus on improving the transportation system, including the Government buying buses for use not only in Kuala Lumpur and Penang but also in other areas, besides providing incentives to public transport operators. Prior to this, the Government had announced its plan to buy 100 buses including 30 in the next few months for the purpose. Currently, about 20 percent of the Malaysia’s population use public transport compared to between 50 percent and 70 percent in western countries. Efforts are being made to encourage the people to use public transport to increase the usage to 40 percent in the next few years. -Bernama


Astro sets new penalties


From next month, Astro subscribers will not have to pay the RM10 fine for late payment of bills. Instead, a reminder will be issued, failing which the account will be disconnected and a RM20 reconnection fee charged. It will also pro-rate the penalty charge of RM500 currently imposed for early cancellation of subscription, if the set-top-box is returned in good working condition. This was disclosed by Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission on Wednesday. It had held two meetings with Astro recently to discuss outstanding consumer complaints. Astro is also introducing more family-orientated programmes so that subscribers have more choice in cheaper, more relevant packages.


Inefficiency in Govt Depts leads to projects delay: CM


Inefficiency in the Government Departments and agencies must be addressed immediately as it has resulted in delay of development projects which sometimes stretches up to a year. Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman, who stressed this yesterday, said: “The allocations have been approved but due to some glitches, the implementation is either delayed or the projects could not be carried out on time. “Sometimes, the allocation given has to be brought forward, so when there is an increase in allocation from the Government, it is not necessarily an increase as the amount has been brought forward from the year before,” he said. Stressing that this is such a waste, Musa said the inefficiency is depriving the people of better development. It is important to identify the source of the problem so that immediate solution can be found to overcome it, he said during the Chief Minister’s Department/Finance Ministry’s monthly gathering at the Tun Ahmad Raffae Auditorium, Tun Mustapha Tower here. Musa said that setting up one- stop centres would be probably the best solution. “With such centres, everything can be done faster and the development projects can be implemented timely for the good of the State and the people,” he said. He said that the revival of State Development Office (SDO) to replace the disbanded Sabah Federal Development Department (JPPS) brings greater responsibility to all Government departments and agencies, especially those involving the implementation of development projects in Sabah. “Apart from directly channeling allocations to the implementation agencies, the move also entails improvement in efficiency and coordination to ensure development projects could be carried out more effectively for the benefit of the target groups,” he said. The Chief Minister urged all civil servants to be more dedicated to earn the people’s trust, especially the rural folks, in their ability to implement and manage development projects in the State. The current situation, where the world is facing slow economic growth in the wake of food crisis and escalating fuel prices, poses a greater challenge to the Government and it requires everyone to be rational and prudent, he said. “We have also taken measures to minimise expenses. In fact, prudent spending is nothing new to the State Government as it has long been our practice, and as a result, we have managed to strengthen our financial position. “All civil servants must play their role to ensure there is no wastage. We would have to cut down unnecessary expenses without affecting productivity and delivery system. I believe this can be done since good governance and being thrifty have long existed in the administration,” said Musa.