Monday, June 16, 2008


Yayasan Sabah Group helps people by helping nature

IN principle, Yayasan Sabah Group (YSG) was not established for the purpose of carrying out any specific nature conservation activities. Perhaps the closest link that Yayasan Sabah has with regard to nature conservation activities is Section 17 of the Yayasan Sabah Enactment, which relates to the almost one million hectares of forestland that the Sabah State Government has made available to YSG as its source of funding to carry out the various activities that it needs to perform in order to achieve its social objectives. The timber concession area provided to Yayasan Sabah Group by the Sabah State Government to help finance activities related to its responsibility is rich in timber, yet very sensitive environmentally. Therefore, it is inherent in Yayasan Sabah Group to manage the area on a sustainable manner, both economically and environmentally. Thus, while timber resources contain within the area is important to finance the implementation of Yayasan Sabah Group’s socioeconomic responsibilities, at the same time it has to manage the area as environmentally friendly as possible. This led to the creation of several conservation areas, namely Danum Valley, Maliau Basin and Imbak Canyon Conservation Areas. Recent addition is the Tumunong Hallu Conservation Area, a small coastal area at Darvel Bay in Lahad Datu.


The Danum Valley Conservation Area in terms of faunal and floral diversity, can be regarded as being representative of a once abundance habitat in the island of Borneo - this is its main biodiversity, conservation and scientific value. Among the inhabitants of Danum Valley are the endangered Borneon Orangutan, Borneon pygmy elephant, banteng, Malayan sun bear, clouded leopard, bearded pig and many species of deer. It is also home to the critically endangered Sumatran rhinoceros. A haven for birdwatchers, Danum Valley boasts 300 species of bird including the Red-Crowned Barbet, seven species of pitta and all eight species of hornbill found in Borneo. Danum Valley is also an important site for pioneering research and operational experiment in carbon sequestration, such as the Innoprise-Face Foundation Rehabilitation Project (Infapro) and Reduced Impact Logging (RIL) as well as site for major study on atmospheric chemistry, which is related to the framework of Climate Change Convention. For the next four years beginning 2008, Danum Valley will host a long-term research project entitled 0P3-DANUM-08 which investigates climate changes.


The Maliau Basin Conservation Area is a huge bowl of almost pristine forests comprising an unusual assemblage of forest types guarded by formidable cliffs and described as one of the few remaining relatively untouched wilderness areas in the world. The flora of Maliau is distinct and diverse, including at least six species of pitcher plant and 80 species of orchid, several of which are new records for Sabah. Maliau may be one of only two remaining sites of the rare Rafflesia tengku-adlinii, first discovered here in 1988. Maliau Basin is also set to become a haven for birdwatchers as well as conservation of bird biodiversity. Over 270 species such as the Bornean Bristlehead, Peregrine Falcon and Bulwer’s Pheasant have been recorded in the area and the surrounding buffer zones, of which an astonishing 26% are listed as threatened or near-threatened by the World Conservation Union (IUCN). Over 70 mammal species have so far been recorded, including some of Sabah’s rarest mammals such as the proboscis monkey and Sumatran rhinoceros. The surrounding forest is also refuge to the endangered Banteng and Asian Elephant. Due to the unique geomorphological condition of Maliau Basin, there are numerous waterfalls, one of which is the magnificent seven-tier Maliau Falls.


Imbak Canyon Conservation Area is a sweeping swathe of unspoilt forest, north of the Maliau Basin Conservation Area in the heart of Sabah. It is one of the largest remaining areas of unlogged lowland dipterocarp forest left in Sabah. As pristine forest, Imbak has a key role as a gene bank or seed source for forest rehabilitation in the future, as well as a potentially important source of undiscovered plant based medicine. During a 10-day expedition, 69 specimens of ethno-medicinal plants from 15 families were found to be medicinally useful. Imbak also plays an integral role as part of the vital wildlife corridor connecting Danum Valley and Maliau Basin.


Tumunong Hallu Conservation Area is located in the Darvel Bay on the southeast coast of Sabah. Darvel Bay is one of the renowned marine biodiversity areas in the region. Yayasan Sabah Group is currently undertaking initiatives to develop the area as a marine and coastal forest research centre. Long-term research on marine life (e.g. coral rehabilitation, coral and clam conservation, richness and distribution of algae, habitat restoration and aquaculture) and mangrove are among the research potentials that can be carried out here apart from recreational activities as the area has beautiful beaches and crystal clear waters. To further enhance the conservation areas, centers for research, training, education and recreation were established, namely Danum Valley Field Centre and Maliau Basin Studies Centre. These centres both act as an administrative centre as well as venues or facilities to carry out activities related to nature education and training, recreation and tourism, and scientific research activities. Yayasan Sabah Group does not specifically carry out most of the basic scientific research activities, but by providing logistical support, it has attracted scientists and research grants. This has been proven to be a good and appropriate strategy. Danum Valley Field Centre is now an internationally recognized site for tropical research activities - ‘A World Class Research Station’ along with La Selva in Costa Rica and Baro Colorado Island in Panama.


Reduced Impact Logging
In relation to improving the management of the forest, YSG has been instrumental in developing and piloting the logging guidelines that could reduce incidental damage to the forest. Famously referred to as the Reduced Impact Logging (RIL) guidelines, it is now part and parcel of the sustainable Forest Management practices which the Government adopted as policy since 1997.

RIL Exneriment
Around about the same time that the RIL was being experimented in 1992, YS embarked on a project involving large-scale enrichment planting of dipterocarp in logged- over rainforest as well as the tending of naturally regenerating dipterocarp seedlings, other commercial timber species and forest fruit trees. This is made possible through collaboration with the FACE Foundation of the Netherlands. One of the key purposes of the project, apart from nature conservation, is to promote the rehabilitation of forests to absorb Carbon Dioxide (C02) from the atmosphere. Today more than 11,000 ha of forest had been rehabilitated.

Collaboration with IKEA
On a largely conservation purposes, in 1988 YSG began a collaboration in a forest rehabilitation project with foundation established by IKEA, the Sow-A-Seed Foundation. During the first phase of the project (1998- 2003), a total area of 4,600 ha has been successfully rehabilitated. The second phase (2003-2008) would rehabilitate up to 4,500 ha of degraded forest.

Nature Education
What better way to educate the public about the importance of conserving our environment than to bring them to the conservation areas to experience the pristine ambience of the rainforest as it has been for hundreds of years. Through in-situ recreational and ecotourism activities and environmental education at the conservation areas, conservation of wildlife including large mammals is efficiently promoted. Towards this effort, the study/ field centres established in Danum Valley and Maliau Basin provide logistical support (accommodation, food, transportation, rangers, etc) for visitors, whose nature experience are further enhanced with nature interpretation by experienced and knowledgeable rangers, and facilities such as observation towers and sky- bridges offer visitors a canopy view of the forest and the added thrill of walking on a cable sky-bridges high above the forest floor. YS has also established a program that is specifically for the purpose of organizing nature and environmental education programme. The program is called the Sabah Nature Club and it has now been running for almost 20 years. Sabah Nature Club or better known as SNC is a joint program with the Education Department as an extra-curricular activity for schools in Sabah, maximizing the involvement of school heads, teachers and the Nature Orientation Courses or NOCs at Danum Valley and Maliau Basin during school holidays.

Safeguarding Nature
Research, education and nature tourism activities can only be successful if the area is efficiently protected. In ensuring the pristine condition of the conservation areas so that it may continue to appeal to researchers, naturalists and tourists, several activities are carried out by Yayasan Sabah Group including surveillance and patrolling to curb illegal hunting, felling of timber and poaching of gaharu, a much sought after non-timber forest product. Conserving the environment no doubt lies at the heart of global commitments intended to preserve for the benefit of present and future generations a wide range of goods and services essential for life on earth, in that conservation areas around the world are increasingly recognized for their role in mitigating climate change by sequestering carbon and act as buffer against impacts such as sea level rise and extreme weather events, they are sources of pure water and vital ecosystem services;genetic store houses, and sites for tourism and recreation. In essence, therefore, Yayasan Sabah Group helps people by helping nature.


Let Anwar decide when to form Pakatan Rakyat Government, says Ansari


Sabah Keadilan Liaison Chief Hj Ansari Abdullah has urged Keadilan members to be patient and allow de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to decide when to pull the rug off the feet of the Barisan Nasional. “Anwar has the number to form the Pakatan Rakyat Federal Government,” Ansari said when he officiated the Penampang Keadilan Division Kaamatan at Dowish Restaurant here last week. The Sabah Keadilan Chief criticised the recent oil price hike which is affecting the poor. He said the official poverty rate of 24 percent in Sabah would soon increase. Ansari reminded the gathering that Anwar had already warned of the price hike if BN was returned to power. Nevertheless, he informed the members that more than 150,000 Sabahan voters had ‘heard’ the message. Penampang Keadilan Division Chief Dr Edwin Bosi said the frequent electric failures and flooding after an intermittent rain in the City and Penampang area indicated the poor management of the Government. He said if only the Government was concerned about the problems affecting the rakyat then the problems could be easily resolved. Bosi who is also Sabah Keadilan Information Chief, said the Government’s priority is wrong. “They are spending too much on mega projects and space adventure. A Government is like a mega corporation. The managers must ensure profitability. The people decide on the Government and the Government in turn ensure that the management is efficient to deliver the tasks,” he said. Both Ansari and Bosi reminded the gathering that Kaamatan is the time to look back at our achievement in agriculture production. With the rice shortage and price hike, both leaders also urged the members to promote or involve in food production. After all, Sabah is blessed with huge tract of fertile land. Among the 300 present at the celebration were DAP Kapayan leader Steven Jimbangan, Sabah Keadilan Treasurer Datuk Kong Hong Min Kalabakan Division Chief Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Hasbullah Hj Taha, Sabah Keadilan Liaison Assistant Secretary Hj Mohd Shukur Abdul Mumin and Sabah Keadilan Youth Chief Mr Razak Jamil.


Mengasih Centre needs public donations


Donations and cooperation from the public are needed for the Seri Mengasih Centre to run its operation. Joanne Sario, one of the organisers of the Seri Mengasih Fair, said the purpose of organizing the event yesterday was to achieve the objective of this centre which is to collect funds. According to her, the program - held every two years – is aimed to search for volunteers and generous people and organizations that are willing to help the Centre. Joanne added they wanted to find a new site for the Centre. At the moment, they are using a site which is belonged to the Government and it would be developed anytime. “Thus, I hope the donations that we received from the public will help to find a suitable place for this The program was officiated by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Pairin Kitingan’s wife, Datin Seri Panglima Genevieve Kitingan, on behalf of the Chief Minister’s wife, Datin Seri Rafidah Hj Tussin. Fifty-one stalls were set up at the fair which was held from 8.30am to 2pm. Among the activities held were food fair, lucky draws, presentation by the Seri Mengasih pupils and band performances.


Increase allowance of JKKK chairmen: Jainab


The Rural and Regional Development Ministry has been asked to consider increasing the allowance of Village Development and Security Committee (JKKK) chairmen in the State. Assistant Industrial Development Minister Jainab Datuk Seri Panglima Ahmad Ayid said the present allowance was still too low if compared to what the JKKK chairmen received in the Peninsular. “The function, role and responsibility of JKKK chairmen in both regions are the same. They are agents for development and are the ears and eyes of the Government who explain to the rakyat about the Government’s policies,” she said. Thus, she said the allowance of the JKKK chairmen should be standardized in the country. According to Jainab, the matter has been forwarded to Rural and Regional Development Minister Tan Sri Muhammad Taib when the latter held a meeting with the Sabah representatives here. “We hope he will consider reviewing the allowance of the JKKK chairmen in the State immediately,” she said. Jainab meanwhile thanked Muhammad for giving a positive response to standardising the allowance of village chiefs here. “From what we have read in the newspapers, he has assured that the allowance will be directly channelled from the Federal Government to the State Government for distribution to the village chiefs together with additional allowance from the State Government,” she said. On the target set by the Rural and Regional Development Ministry to complete infrastructure facilities such as water and electricity supplies as well as roads within a radius of 30km from the City and rural towns in the State by 2016, Jainab said it showed that the Government is committed to take care of the welfare and needs of the people. “However, if possible, we hope that rural areas in Sabah which still do not have such facilities will enjoy them early without waiting until 2016,” Jainab added.


Develop native title, NCR lands to improve economy: Dompok


Landowners with native title (NT) and native customary right (NCR) lands have been urged to develop them to improve their economy. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Bernard Giluk Dompok in the making the call, said the lands should not be left idle. “As Bumiputeras, we are lucky to have NT and NCR lands which are suitable for agriculture so we should not let them remain idle,” he said, adding that agricultural activities are also proof of ownership of the lands. According to Dompok, there is immediate need to increase agricultural products, especially padi in Sabah to meet local demands. “With the increase in prices of necessities such as rice, there is a need to increase padi production and landowners must take this opportunity to utilize their land to its maximum for agricultural purposes,” the Penampang Member of Parliament said when presenting rubber tree seedlings to villagers in Kampung Dudar, Kota Belud last week. Dompok also said that the price for rubber in both latex and processed forms was good and could help improve the income of planters. “The price for latex is now RM7.55 and rubber sheets RM5.20 sen so planting rubber trees is one good way to supplement your income, “he told the villagers before praising them for the initiative to implement the cluster rubber plantation project which involved 39 participants with a total land area of 127 acres. The Sabah Rubber Industry Board (SRIB) Kota Belud and the Persatuan Tobilung Sabah (TOBISA) have also done a good job by taking the initiative to assist the villagers of Kampung Dudar, he said. “TOBISA’s role not only covers the cultural development aspect but also increasing awareness as well as organizing economic activities for its members and this is something which must be lauded,” Dompok said, adding that he is confident that other non-governmental organizations will emulate TOBISA’s efforts. Meanwhile, TOBISA President Muji Ampau in his speech earlier said Kota Belud is among the districts in Sabah which has a high poverty rate. “This rubber plantation project can help lift the villagers out of the hardcore poverty line,” he said.


Mp ridiculed for trying to help Gaya islanders


Putatan Member of Parliament Datuk Marcus Mojigoh said he had been ridiculed for trying to resolve the problems of villagers in Pulau Gaya. He said this is because most people thought that the villagers are foreigners, both legal and illegal “They always think that when I bring all these issues up, I am addressing the problems of the immigrants but they are wrong. Don’t get the feeling that they are foreigners because they are actually locals,” he said. Mojigoh urged corporate companies and the private sector to assist the villagers in Kampung Pulau Gaya and Kampung Pulau Gaya Baru to resolve their water woes. He said the private sector and corporate companies have the corporate responsibility to help out the locals in need. He said this after a lighting inspection trip to the two villages located on Pulau Gaya, a mere seven minutes away by boat from the mainland here. “I have spoken to Rural and Regional Development Minister Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib about this matter and suggested that some sort of water distilling facility be built on the island so that villagers there have access to clean water,” Mojigoh said. “Maybe the corporate companies can assist by building a water distilling facility on the island,” he said and stressed that the lack of clean water supply is one of the main problems affecting villagers on the island. Mojigoh also lamented that the problem is not new as nothing has been done to improve the water supply system on the island. “I have been pressuring for funds from the relevant ministries but to no avail and I repeat the effort is like a puppy barking at the mountain. There is no effect,” he said, adding that the Government’s inability to resolve the people’s problems will make them vote for the Opposition. “They have no alternative because they feel that the Government is not serious in resolving their problems and we do not want this to happen,” he said. Mojigoh also issued an invitation to the Rural and Regional Development Minister to personally visit the island and see for himself just how dire the living conditions are. “I won’t be surprised if what he sees there will bring tears to his eyes,” Mojigoh said. Meanwhile, community leaders of Kampung Pulau Gaya and Kampung Pulau Gaya Baru said that even after 50 years of the country’s independence, their living conditions have not changed much. Of course they now have (limited) electricity supply, schools and are no longer living in huts with ‘nipah’ roof, the living condition of the 2,000 over villagers here is still very difficult. The villagers are lamenting the fact despite being so near to the City, they do not have basic necessities such as steady supply of clean water and medical services. Village leaders when met during Mojigoh’s visit to the island, expressed hope that the Government would seriously consider easing their burden. “We are not asking for 100 percent development on the island but just the basic infrastructure such as clean water supply and uninterrupted electricity supply,” Community Developer Salleh Haji Lait said. Salleh said that residents in the two villages are of course grateful to the Government for providing educational facilities and electricity but pointed that more needs to be done to help the villagers. “If possible we would like to enjoy 24-hour electricity supply because at the moment the power supply to the island is only from 5pm to midnight. Our most urgent need though is clean water supply as we are now depending on springs and wells as well as rainwater. “Those who can afford it can purchase water and if we use it sparingly, two 100-litre drums of water can last only two days,” he said, adding that it costs about RM25 to fill up two 100-litre drums. Villagers collect rain water for bathing and washing clothes, he said. Mojigoh has proposed that a reservoir be built on the island so that the villagers can enjoy clean water all the time. According to Salleh further, numerous requests to set up a rural clinic on the island has also been rejected by the authorities who cited security reason for not approving the medical facility. Salleh said there had been cases of fatalities because ailing villagers were unable to get medical attention and also of mothers delivering their babies in the boats transporting them to the mainland. “We would like to stress that we are not angry with the Government, just disappointed because it has neglected us. The Government seems to be more concerned about the illegal immigrant than the locals as from what we can see, the resettlement villages for the refugees are provided with all the basic infrastructure such as water and electricity,” he said. Fellow community leader Saimah Salam disclosed that about 30 percent of the villagers are living in abject poverty, some with no source of income. Their daily meal consists of watery plain rice porridge and if they are lucky, they might have some fish. Those who were lucky to have registered for aid from the Welfare Department receives RM60 monthly but the money does not go far. “The learning environment in schools is also not conducive because without electricity during the day, the students have no access to the educational programmes on television or radio. They have no access to computers too,” she said, adding that students who want to study at night will have to do so using oil lamps or candles.


Pairin: Communicate with Tambunan District Office


Community leaders, especially the Village Development and Security Committees (JKKKs) in the district, must take the initiative to frequently communicate with the District Office here n matters arising in the respective areas. Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Joseph Pairin Kitingan in giving the reminder, said by being in constant communication with the District Office, the JKKKs can find out about the latest development on their applications for development in their villages. The Rural Development Minister also reminded the JKKKs not to lose hope and give up if their applications are not approved fast. Pairin who is also the Tambunan Assemblyman, added the District Office received applications for projects from 88 JKKKs in the district and would have to look through all of them to determine those which should be given priority. “Approvals are made based on importance and allocation available, so I urge the JKKKs to be patient as the Government wants to assist the people but has to do so with limited funding,” he said when met after presenting water tanks to villagers in the remote villages of Kampung Kuala Monsok and Kampung Tondulu here. Earlier, District Officer Thomas Angor expressed disappointment over the action of some quarters who aired their grouses through the print media. These quarters have a hidden agenda behind their action, he said, adding that the District Office is always doing its best to assist the local community. “By right the problems faced by the villagers must be referred to the District Office first so that they can be recorded down before action is taken,” he said, adding that it is disheartening for them to find out about the villagers’ problems through the media and not via the proper channels. Pairin later handed over 900-litre plastic water tanks to the heads of 115 families from the two villages which have been fully dependent on rain and gravity water because the supply to the villages was disrupted by landslides and flooding. According to Pairin, the water tanks are part of the Government’s efforts to address the problems of the people, especially those in the rural areas.


PM warns of disaster if prices not tackled


Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has warned that bold, immediate, remedial measures had to be taken to tackle the food and fuel crisis as well as a possible recession or the world could be looking at a disaster which could jeopardise the livelihood of millions of people. “About 100 million or more people have descended into poverty worldwide while low and middle-income groups everywhere are feeling the strain of increased food prices on their budget. “Mass protests over food have erupted in several countries and more instability awaits those societies which fail to alleviate their problems. “It seems that we have yet to awaken to the enormity of the problem and its potential for creating a real disaster,” he said in his speech at a welcoming reception for about 150 local and international delegates to the two-day World Economic Forum on East Asia beginning yesterday. Also present was his wife, Datin Seri Jeanne Abdullah. Abdullah, who is also Finance Minister, said that global recession was not a distinct possibility, more so with the fallout of the US sub—prime crisis. He lamented that while East Asian countries might have taken measures to resolve the economic problems, they have had only limited impact, as food prices remained high and fuel prices continued to soar. Abdullah also took to task Western Governments for allowing unscrupulous speculators and their hunt for quick profits to prevail without any regard for good financial governance. Chastising them for their double standards, he said: “if our own financial institutionswere involved, I have no doubt that we would have been subject to vociferous criticism.” The Prime Minister said the most urgent challenge facing East Asia and the world was food prices which have risen by 75 per cent since 2000. “Wheat costs three times more and the price of rice has increased by 50 percent just over the past year. The problem that confronts all of us now is largely the consequence of ill-conceived and harmful policies. “These include the widespread conversion of arable land to cater to the production of bio-fuels, the depreciation of the US dollar which has made products more expensive, restrictions on the export of rice and the payment of subsidies on farm products in rich countries. “Such subsidies have made investment in agriculture less rewarding for developing countries,” he said. Abdullah said skyrocketing oil prices, now hovering at US$135 (US$1=RM3.27) a barrel, and forecast to increase to as high as US$200, was another threat to the global economy. Abdullah also cited speculation as a major factor inflating the prices of essential commodities like oil, wheat and rice in addition to wars and the threat of war in West Asia. “Even aggressive rhetoric, like threatening talk of attacking Iran, spooks markets and sends the price of oil spiralling upwards,” he said. Abdullah called on East Asian countries to do their best to address the triple challenges of high food prices, spiralling fuel costs and the likely global recession. Since the problem went beyond East Asia, Abdullah called on leaders, global institutions and the international con to address the many problems besetting their economies. “We have faced serious challenges beforebut rarely in such a potent combination and which seriously threatens the world. “Dire situations do call for bold measures,” he said.-Bernama


Pos Malaysia disburses RM27.6 mln cash rebates on second day


Pos Malaysia Bhd (PMB) disbursed RM27.6 million to 59,154 eligible individual vehicle owners on the second day of the oil rebate payment nationwide yesterday. PMB said in a statement that its system continued to perform at the desired service levels to enable efficient transactions. It said that customers can download the claim forms for free at PMB’s website and submit the form directly at their counters to claim the rebates in the form of cash. “Eligible customers who possess Temporary Identity Card and wish to claim the rebates at the post offices are required to bring along the card for verification purposes and the processing time at the counter will take more than three minutes compared to the usual transaction process,” it said. PMB also advised the customers to contact JPJ at its hotline 03-8886 6427 or 03-8888 4244 should they experience problems relating to their respective data in JPS’s database. “PMB would access the JPJ database before responding to customers’ application for the cash rebates to verify their eligibility. “PMB wishes to thank our customers for their patience and cooperation in ensuring the smooth and efficient transaction of the disbursement of cash rebates,” it said. PMB also reminded the eligible individual vehicle owners that if they were not able to claim the cash rebate yesterday, they still had ample time to make the claim anytime until March 31, 2009. The public can also submit enquiries or feedback and get the latest information on PMB’s services through its Customer Service Centre at PosLine 1-300-300-300 or PMB’s website or any nearby post office. - Bernama


Banggi hardcore poor to move into resettlement houses


Rural and Regional Development Minister Tan Sri Muhammad bin Muhammad Taib said 1,000 heads of hardcore poor household will move into the agropolitan project settlement houses in Banggi Island this October. “They will live in the houses which are almost completed through the first phase of the project,” he said. He said by moving into the settlement, it would change their way of living and they could enjoy many basic facilities there. Muhammad said this at a press conference after attending a programme with the people at Kampung Meliyu during a visit to Banggi Island with Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman yesterday. Also present were Deputy Rural and Regional Development Minister Tan Sri Joseph Kurup, Rural Development Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Joseph Pairin Kitingan, Deputy Foreign Minister-cum Kudat Member of Parliament Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri and Banggi Assemblyman Abdul Mijul bin Unaini. Muhammad added the participants of the agropolitan project would be able to increase their income from RM300 to RM1,200 per month. “The RM167 million project at the 4,000-hectare area that will be used for rubber plantation will be able to help the houshold heads lift themselves out from hardcore poverty,” he said. Touching on electricity supply, Muhammad said his Ministry would find an alternative way to supply electricity to the islanders apart from building hybrid solar system which is now under implementation. “Currently, several researchers from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) are doing research on using windmill to generate electricity for the residents here,” he said, adding getting power supply from the windmill was ideal due to the strong wind in the island. Muhammad also said the Banggi residents would be able to enjoy clean water after a clean water project worth RM30 million was completed while the road project was expected to be completed next year. The agropolitan project was launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on August 11 last year. It will be fully funded by the Federal Government through the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development, which will cost RM167.36 million. FELCRA was appointed as the implementing agency to ensure the success of the project. The State Government will provide 4,500 acres of land for the projects to ensure its success. The high impact rural development project and agropolitan project in Banggi island will involve several components. Among them is the development of rubber tree plantation costing RM65.9 million and covering 4,500 of land. The other component of the project is the provision of land for 200 settlers under the Local Community Development Programme which cost RM10.6 million. With the implementation of this project, it is hoped that Banggi Island will change from a backward village to an economically self-sustaining area. It is estimated that 1,000 hardcore poor will benefit from the project in the form of share in the plantation. The State Government is confident that the project will solve the economic imbalance between the rural and urban areas.


Sabah land of investment opportunities, says Musa


Sabah is a land of opportunities for investors with policies to ensure that its people enjoy good quality of life, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said. “We in Sabah are very fortunate to live in an environment that has a fascinating mix of cultures, rich in natural resources and diversity of natural attractions,” he said at the welcome I dinner for participants of the Second International CEOs Conference here last night. Musa pointed out that with a population of three million people and backed by a stable political environment, Sabah provides an ideal climate for economic development as well as trade and investment opportunities. “We believe that Sabah is a land of opportunities for investors. Pragmatic policies and strategies have been formulated which not only guarantee long-term economic and political stability but also increase the prosperity and the quality of life of the people. “The Federal and State Governments are committed to create a conducive business climate, improve quality of life and a pleasant environment for the people generally,” he added. According to Musa, the event themed, ‘Managing Sustainable Growth and Competitiveness in the Globalised Era’ beginning today (June 16), is organised by Sabah Foundation and Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute. “Against a backdrop of economic uncertainties and inflationary pressure on a global scale, this conference comes at a most opportune time and we have high hopes that your deliberations over the next two days will address some of the pressing issues facing us today,” he said. Musa pointed out that the outlook for 2008 is laden with economic uncertainties, political instability, natural disasters and rising prices of food and commodities. Inevitably, all these will have profound implications worldwide. Gaining a competitive edge and sustaining economic growth in a globalised environment, without sacrificing the standard of living of communities, he said, are some issues that governments continue to work hard to address,” he said. “I trust this welcome dinner themed ‘An Evening in Sabah’, will not only give us exposure for network opportunities with successful world-renowned corporate figures and trailblazers, but will also serve as an excellent avenue for us to promote Sabah as one of the most attractive tourist destinations in the region,” he said.


SAPP President rumoured to have quit BN


Has outspoken Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) President Datuk Yong Teck Lee finally left the Barisan Nasional? After a series of strong statements, including an ultimatum that the BN Government resolve long-standing issues in Sabah rumours are rife that the former Member of Parliament and Chief Minister has resigned from the ruling coalition, New Straits Times reported yesterday. Not spared from the rumour mill is Sepanggar Member of Parliament Eric Majimbun and Tawau Member of Parliament Datuk Dr Chua Soon Bid. Asked on Saturday whether there was any truth in the rumour, Yong evaded the question. He had once said that he would give BN until August to resolve the issues in Sabah or SAPP members might leave the coalition. Meanwhile, Gua Musang Member of Parliament Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah reiterated to Bernama yesterday that a BN component party will leave the coalition at the end of this month. He only said the Party is from East Malaysia. When contacted in Kuala Lumpur, the Umno veteran declined to identify the party. The former Finance Minister said in Mentakab on Saturday that he received news that one Party would leave the BN before the end of the month.


Contests for all posts won’t lead to splits, says Khairy


Contests for posts at all levels to choose Umno’s top leadership at the Party’s general assembly in December is not expected to lead to splits within the Party, said its Deputy Youth Chief Khairy Jamaluddin. He said his confidence was based on the maturity of Umno members and leaders and their holding fast to the concept of democracy. “I am confident and believe that the voting will be smooth. Open contests show Umno leaders’ attitude towards democracy that still exists and is strong,” Khairy told reporters here yesterday. However, Khairy hoped the contests for the top Umno posts, especially that of Party Chief, would be done smoothly and in a healthy manner. He also said that all problems raised by Sabah Umno Youth would be forwarded to the higher-ups in the Party for urgent action. - Bernama