Tuesday, June 17, 2008


Sabah leader asks Petronas to make its accounts transparent


Another Barisan Nasional (BN) component party leader, Donald Datuk Peter Mojuntin, has called on Petronas to make its accounts transparent so as to explain the reason for the fuel price hike or subsidy reduction in the Country. Mojuntin, who is the Assistant Resource Development and Information Technology Minister and United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organization (UPKO) Youth Chief, said that the people have the right to know the reason for the fuel price hike and subsidy reduction despite the fact that Petronas is reaping a profit from the global price of crude oil. “I wholeheartedly agree with Umno Youth Deputy Chief Khairy Jamaluddin’s call for Petronas to be transparent with its accounts so as to answer questions why the national oil corporation was unable to absorb the high cost of fuel with its profits,” Mojuntin, who is also the Moyog Assemblyman, said when met during his Pesta Kaamatan rounds on Sunday. According to him, Petronas produces 650,000 barrels of crude oil a day and of the total, about 400,000 barrels are used locally daily which leaves 250,000 barrels to be exported. Though Petronas has never divulged publicly the cost of producing one barrel of crude oil, it is estimated to be in the region of USD12 whilst the world price of crude oil is hovering at USD136 per barrel. “It does not take a mathematical genius to calculate the gross profit which will be about USD30 million per day. Where does this profit go to?” he asked. “For Sabah, being the biggest oil and gas producer in the Country, the question becomes more pertinent as according to Petronas itself, Sabah has 1.4 billion barrels of crude oil and 7.7 trillion (sfc) standard cubic feet of gas in reserve. “Bearing all this in mind, the rakyat find it very hard to understand why they are I burdened with high fuel price,” Mojuntin said. According to him further, since Sabah thus far only benefits from the five percent oil royalty, certain questions have to be asked. “Is the five percent from the gross or nett profit of oil production? Also equally pertinent is the question if the five percent royalty includes the production of gas?” he questioned. “Is Sabah getting five percent of all oil production in its waters or only for oil fields within the 20- kilometre radius from its shores? All these will have to be explained and Petronas must cease to blind side the rakyat, banking on the fact that the rakyat have limited understanding of the oil and gas industry,” he said. Mojuntin stressed that apart from the illegal immigrants issue, people in Sabah are highly sensitive when it comes to matters related to the oil and gas production in the State. On May 31, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi announced the scrapping of the Kimanis-Bintulu gas pipeline project which was received with great relief and appreciation, he said. “I think the Prime Minister recognises the fact that building a petrochemical complex in Kimanis would be more economically beneficial to Sabah in the long run and the existence of a thriving oil and gas industry in Kimanis would be an anchor to ensure the success of the Sabah Development Corridor. “However despite the Prime Minister’s announcement, it is understood that the Petronas gas pipeline team is now in Sabah. This seems to indicate that the project is still on,” said Mojuntin.


Don’t make Kimanis transit point, PKR urges Govt


The Government has been urged to make Kimanis a flourishing hub for oil and gas activities and not a transit point. Sabah Keadilan Information Chief Dr Edwin Bosi, who made the call, said Sabahans need a good explanation from the Government on what the Kimanis gas and oil complex is all about. According to Edwin in a statement yesterday, the Kimanis complex will house three major activities, namely the 300KW power plant, a crude oil depot and a gas depot. He said there is no dispute on the 300MW diesel-powered power plant because Sabah is in urgent need of extra power supply. “If we look at the other two activities, Sabah is just acting like a transit point. The crude oil will be piped to Kimanis from the rigs, removed of some impurity and then piped to ocean-going tankers out in the sea for refining. The gas is also piped from the rigs to Kimanis and then piped out to Bintulu, Sarawak. I was informed that the 36” pipe will cover a distance of about 500 km and crossing more than 300 rivers! “Why can’t the Government build a refinery in Kimanis? Why do we need to pipe the gas all the way to Bintulu? I urge the BN government to re-consider its plan but to make Kimanis a flourishing hub for oil and as activities and not a transit point,” he said, adding Sabahans are more than capable to handle and manage the industry.


Anwar gets green light to challenge validity of his sacking


The Federal Court here yesterday gave the green light to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to challenge the constitutionality of his sacking from cabinet posts, almost 10 years ago, by former Premier Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. A three-man panel by Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum unanimously granted leave to Anwar to appeal to the Federal Court against a High Court’s ruling that his dismissal a Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister was lawfully executed by Dr Mahathir. Following this outcome the Federal Court will determine two questions of law — whether Anwar’s sacking was unconstitutional or not, and whether Dr Mahathir could sack his Deputy, without first advising the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. The court will decide first, whether the provisions of Article 43(5) of the Federal Constitution specifically requires the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to be the authority which revokes the appointment of Anwar as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister in the Malaysian Cabinet, having regard to the principle that it is only the authority which appoints has the right to revoke any appointment made by it; And secondly, whether the deletion of the name of Anwar from the post of Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, and its substitution thereof, with the name of the first respondent (Dr Mahathir) as the Minister of Finance, could in anyway cure the complete absence of the first respondent (Dr Mahathir) with the explicit of the said article. The court has yet to fix the date t hear Anwar’s final appeal. Anwar was ordered by the court to file the record of appeal within 14 days, Presiding together with Malanjum were Federal Court Judges Datuk Nik Hashim Nik Ab Rahman and Datuk Abdul Aziz MohamadOn Dec 23, 1998, the High Court dismissed Anwar’s suit against Dr Mahathir and the Government, to summarily strike out his application for an order to declare Dr Mahathir’s decision to dismiss him from the cabinet posts on Sept 2, 1998 was unlawful and null and void. Anwar contended that the revocation of his appointment must be effected by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, acting on the Prime Minister’s advice and that it (revocation) cannot be effected by the Prime Minister, without prior assent of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. Anwar also failed to reverse the High Court’s decision after the Court of Appeal, on April 25 2007, rejected his appeal and affirmed the High Court’s decision. The Court of Appeal had held that Anwar’s sacking from the Cabinet posts was lawfully executed by Dr Mahathir since the power to appoint and dismiss ministers lay with the Prime Minister. Anwar was represented by lawyers Karpal Singh, Ram Karpal Singh, S. N. Nair and Nicholas Netto. Anwar was not present in court. -Bernama


Anwar’s claim ridiculous: MCA


The MCA has described as ridiculous a claim by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim that its Members of Parliament topped the list of MPs from Barisan Nasional Component Parties who would defect to the Opposition. MCA Central Committee Member Datuk Fu Ah Kiow also described the claim as nothing more than a cheap stunt to generate publicity for the Parti Keadilan Rakyat Adviser. “The claim reflects on an intention to drive a wedge between BN Parties and split up the Coalition. “This is his strategy in making his comeback with the whole purpose of chasing after the prime ministership. He is obviously up to no good. “BN will remain together through thick and thin. We do not believe in abandoning our colleagues in difficult times,” said the MCA Publicity Bureau Chief in a press statement yesterday. - Bernama


Sabah school bus operators seek fuel subsidy: Chua


Tawau Member of Parliament Datuk Chua Soon Bui has called on the Government to immediately look into the present fuel subsidy scheme for school buses in Sabah, which she said is unfair to some of the operators. Speaking at the recent 2009 Budget consultation presided by Prime Minister cum Minister of Finance Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in Putrajaya last Thursday, Chua said she received numerous complaints from some school bus operators in Tawau who complained that till to date their applications for the fuel subsidy scheme have not been approved by the relevant authorities. She was also made to understand that the fuel subsidy scheme only covers those school buses using petrol and not diesel. This has thus forced this group of unsubsidized bus operators to increase their bus fares recently, following the recent fuel price increase in order to stay afloat. This has inevitably affected those parents who engaged this particular group of school bus operators to send their children to school as most of them are from the middle to lower income families. “Some of them (the parents) are paying as much as RM100 per month per child and this is quite a burden for them, especially in this trying time,” she said. She thus hoped the Government could immediately look into the matter and to provide a more encompassing fuel subsidy to school bus operators in Sabah, for both petrol and diesel school buses. Chua also urged the Government to consider standardizing the Mayang (Masyarakat Penyayang or Caring Society) allocation under the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, for the underprivileged and needy groups in Sabah, including the single parents, the disabled and the elderly people. Currently there is a difference of about RM200 between Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah under the scheme. She also hoped the Government could provide assistance in homestead farming program to the groups, so that they could better deal with the rising food bills. Meanwhile, at the briefing for the Mid-term Review of the Ninth Malaysia Plan, Chua urged Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Senator Tan Sri Amirsham Abdul Aziz who also heads the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) to look into the severe congestion at the Customs, Immigration and Quarantine (CIQ) Building which is under capacity and could no longer meet the demand of increasing number of foreign visitors coming into Tawau. She highlighted that in a day, several thousands of visitors and foreign workers are coming into Tawau through the ferry terminal and the limited space and service counters at the CIQ Building had caused a lot of inconvenience to these people. She stressed that it is time to upgrade and expand the existing CIQ Building to better meet the increasing demand brought about by the recent oil palm plantation boom in neighbouring Kalimantan. The Director general of the EPU,’ Tan Sri Sulaiman Mahbob, has promised to relocate, the CIQ Building under the 10th Malaysia Plan.


Rice Bank proposed to help padi farmers develop lands


The Government should consider setting up a ‘rice bank’ to assist padi farmers in the Country to develop their lands, Yayasan Bumiputra Sabah Chief Executive Officer Fredie Sua said. Fredie in making the proposal, said the Rice Bank can also act as a ‘buyer of last resort’ in order to stabilize the price of the commodity which is always being manipulated by the manufacturers. Speaking to reporters after a meeting with Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop on Sunday, Fredie said he had forwarded his proposal to the Minister. “I also proposed to the Second Finance Minister for the Government to consider abolishing the sales tax imposed on private projects, especially housing projects. This will help control the increase in the price of building materials such as Steel and heavy machineries,” he said. Fredie added the abolition of the sales tax would mean that real estate developers need not increase the price of houses. He also suggested that the Government give opportunity to Bumiputera entrepreneurs in Sabah to be allowed to conduct businesses that need special licences such as ‘supply base’ which is only available in Labuan and Kemanan in Terengganu. “The oil and gas industry in Sabah is expanding rapidly and we urge the Government to consider allowing the Bumiputera entrepreneurs to be given an opportunity to be part of the action,” he said. Among those who attended the meeting were Assistant Finance Minister Datuk Tawfiq Titingan, Kadazan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) President Frederick Lojingki and Yayasan Bumiputera Sabah Chairman Datuk Amir Kahar. Meanwhile, KCCI President Frederick Lojingki urged the Government to provide more opportunities for the Kadazandusun and Murut (KDM) to participate in the development of the Country and State. Frederick told Mohamed that it is difficult for the KDM contractors to get contracts for Government projects and hoped that they will be given more opportunities in the future.


Petronas donates most to Oil Heritage Fund


A big sum of donation for the Oil Heritage Fund comes from the Nation’s oil producer, Petronas. Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yackop in disclosing this yesterday, said it was part of Petronas’ contribution to provide the quality of life not just for the present Malaysian population but also for the future generations. “Petronas contributes RM100 million to the Fund, and to date, we have close to RM5 billion, which is meant for our future generations,” he told the media after launching the Second Chief Executive Officer Conference 2008 on behalf of Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak here yesterday. He added that allocation for development comes from various funds, such as the Government’s Budget where RM147 billion had been specifically allocated for transportation as well as basic necessities such as water, electricity and roads in rural areas. “Although priorities are given to develop rural areas but at the same time, the urban needs should not be neglected. “For instance, the upgrading of roads. Many hours are wasted due to bad traffic jams on the roads in urban areas. This is quality working time and such waste is a loss not only to productivity but also to the Country. “We want an economy based on the people’s income while higher income requires higher productivity. But our productivity is affected by traffic jams, so we have to fix it for the good of all,” he said. On another note, Nor Mohamed said the Government is working on eradicating hardcore poor by the year 2010. “We do not want to see anymore hardcore poor by the year 2010 and this is what has been expressed by our Prime Minister,” he said.


Conference begins with dialogue session


The second day of the Second International CEOs Conference started with the participants having a dialogue with Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop. It was followed by the first session titled ‘Globalisation and New Realities: How Asian Companies Are Responding to Them” presented by the CEO and Director of Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (ASLI), Datuk Dr Michael Yeoh. In the second session, President and Founder of Biodiesel Industries, Inc, USA Russell Teall, JD presented a paper titled ‘Entrepreneurial Promise of Renewable Energy to Meet Energy Demand’ where he said that the Governments globally have recognised the need to move towards using domestically produced biodiesel. Russell said that the regional development and use of biodiesel means greater environmental, economic and energy stability. During the third session, Deputy Chairman of Social Science and Humanities, The Indonesia Institute of Sciences! The Habibie Centre, Indonesia, Professor Dr Dewi Fortuna Anwar, presented the paper on ‘Globalisation Revisited - Its Impact on Mankind’. She summarized the topic by stressing that globalisation has not led to the obsolenscence of the nation states, “And it remains the primary responsibility of the nation- states to ensure by various domestic policies as well as regional and international agreements that the beneficial effects of globalisation can be shared more equally amongst all nations while mitigating its harmful side—effects,” she said. Senior Executive Adviser and Former Regional Chairman Booz Allen Hamilton-Australia, New Zealand & Southeast Asia, Australia, Ian C. Buchanan, spoke about the benefit of strategic alliances when presenting his paper, ‘Smart Partnership- Forging Successful Strategic Alliances’. He stated that alliance strategy formulation has consistently identified substantial additional business value and detailed partner negotiations often uncover substantial additional opportunities. While for the fourth session, the speaker of the paper titled ‘Climate Change and Ecological Sustainability: Honouring Mother Nature’ talked about the natural disasters that hit various parts of the world, the impact on agriculture and health as well mitigation and adaptation to improve ‘climate resilience’. Senior lecturer in Hydrology Lancaster Environment Centre Department ‘of Environmental Science Lancaster, UK, Dr Nick A. Chappell, ended the presentation by suggesting to reduce demand for emissions-intensive goods and services, increased efficiency, avoiding deforestation and switching to lower- carbon technologies. During the fifth session, Trainer, Coach and Consultant, Asian Mind Dynamics Sdn Bhd, Malaysia, Andreas Dorn, presented ‘Talent Management and High Performing Organisations: Driving Talent Mindset for Excellence’. Dorn pointed out ways to retain the top talent in the company and mind management for higher performance such as dramatically increasing the engagement of employees through targeted motivation strategies. The special session titled ‘Is Globalisation the Panacea to the Problem of World Peace and Harmony?’ was presented by the CEO of Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation (CTO) cum Minister of Education and former Ambassador of Ghana to the US, Dr Ekwow Spio-Garbrah. He related globalisation with information technology - where ICTs are helping to globalise the world despite globalisation has had a history of violence and force. The third and last day of the conference will be continued today and will also comprise five sessions and a special session.


Fuel prices hike a REAL threat to economic growth: Najib


The increase in fuel prices is posing a real threat to economic growth globally and could destabilize major sectors like aviation, land and sea transportations and other industries. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak in saying this yesterday said the recent breach of US$130 per barrel for oil might even derail efforts to improve some already weakened economies, thus forcing Governments to go into raising budget deficits amidst soaring inflation. “Globally, the fuel crisis has already had destabilising effects on major sectors such as aviation, land and sea transportations, fisheries and industries as well as the consumers. “It has forced airlines to cut flights and lay off workers, fishermen to go on strike, angry bus drivers to force public transportation to a halt, motorists to do panic buying as well as countless demonstrations against governments,” he said. Delivering his keynote address, read by the Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Mohamad Nor Yakcop, at the opening of the Second International CEOs Conference 2008 here, he said the world economy is currently facing an extended period of high food prices with its consequent effects on inflation. He urged world leaders to come up with rescue packages to tide over the present food crisis affecting countries in the region, adding that Japan had already pledged to do so to ease the current crisis. Najib said it is imperative to take a new sense of urgency to reposition the Malaysia’s economy to not only support growth, but also improve its quality, stressing that in embracing globalisation, the key strategies towards achieving greater success requires a renewed focus on building competitive niches integrated into the global economy. Today, the country’s economy is the 29th largest in the world, while its volume of trade is twice the size of its economy, which again is the highest in the world. “Over the last 50 years, the Malaysian economy has grown rapidly, achieving an average Growth Domestic Product (GDP) rate of 6.3 per cent per annum. Income per capita of Malaysians has also increased by over 20 times from RM1,132 in 1970 to RM23,114 in 2007,” he said, adding that in terms of purchasing power parity, it has increased by almost 12 folds from US$1,247 in 1970 to US$14,483 last year, which reflects real income and improvements in the standards of living of Malaysians. Najib stressed that the nation’s development has also been holistic which includes capacity building with heavy investments on social infrastructure, education and basic needs. “Equally important, the Government has always been conscious of the need to ensure a socio-economic environment where all Malaysians from all walks of life would benefit from the rapid expansion of the economy,” he said. This, he added, is evidence with the decrease of poverty incidence in Malaysia from over 50 per cent in 1970, to 5.7 per cent in 2004 and progressively to 3.6 per cent last year. The fast growth of East Asian economies, including Malaysia’s, was punctuated by the severe 1997-98 Asian financial crisis which brought many countries to harsh realities of an acute financial crisis, capital flights, bankruptcies, workers retrenchment and social disruption. “Malaysia had overcome the financial crisis with its own homemade measures. We have fully recovered from the crisis and since then, we have been constantly improving our ranking in international competitiveness. “Our efforts have proven positive when we improved our ranking from 23rd position in 2007 to 19th this year in World Competitiveness Yearbook. We knew all along that our economic security depends on our ability to compete internationally as our economy has always been integrated with the global economy, even well before globalisation became the fad it is today,” Najib said. He further said Malaysia is now in the second phase of its national mission to achieve a fully developed nation by 2020 with focus on moving up the value chain in the economy. The Government is committed to improve its delivery system so as to facilitate private sector initiatives in contributing to the Nation’s growth, according to him. “Today, we face new challenges in a more globalised world, in which the competitive landscape has changed combined with unrivaled mobility of both financial and human capital. “First, the global competitive landscape has indeed changed with the emergence of China and India, as the new juggernauts of the 21st century. Then, there are countries such as Vietnam which have begun to emerge strongly and now attracting FDI (foreign direct investment) in large amounts, providing competition to Malaysia for lower value-added products. “Singapore and Dubai have also decided to be very open economies, focusing on speed of delivery,” he added. As such, Malaysia has to figure out how to position itself in this new and changing economic landscape, Najib said. He stressed that globalisation requires globalised outlook and strategy but he is confident the nations have the capacity and passion to continue transforming to stay ahead.


Fuel subsidies review for transport companies


Current fuel subsidies quota for transport companies will be reviewed soon. Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yackop in disclosing this, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had directed a review on the existing limitations on the quota for transport firms, urging the relevant Ministries to increase the quotas. He said this at a press conference after officially opening the 2nd Chief Executive Officers Conference here, representing Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, yesterday. Nor Mohamed was asked about grouses by transport firms here that only a portion of their vehicles fleet were entitled to fuel subsidies. Transport company owners said only about 30 per cent to 40 per cent of their vehicles were entitled to the subsidies and they were thus forced to buy fuel for the other vehicles in their fleet at market price. They said this precipitated the need for them to raise their fares following the hike in petrol and diesel prices. On priorities of the 2009 Budget, Nor Mohamed said improving public transportation in towns and rural areas will be among the proposals. He said improvements in the urban public transportation system is a particularly pressing need as a prerequisite to improve productivity as many man hours were lost with workers stuck in traffic jams. He said the Government’s priority for Sabah and Sarawak is upgrading electricity and water supplies apart from the construction of new roads and schools. “The Prime Minister has said he does not want to see anymore hardcore poor in the country in the next few years,” he said.


CEOs Conference an excellent platform to share information, business trends: CM


The Second Chief Executive Officers Conference 2008 is an excellent platform to share valuable information and global business trends. That is how Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman described the Conference, which was launched by Second Finance Minister, Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop, representing the Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najb Tun Razak, yesterday. “The conference aims are examining some of the global issues and challenges facing international and particularly Asian corporations today. It also helps to promote international awareness on current business and investment opportunities in Sabah,” he said in his speech. He said the conference also provides an avenue for a meaningful exposure to potential business opportunities at both the regional and global levels, especially with the panels of renowned speakers sharing their knowledge and facilitate an active exchange of views and experiences among delegates. “Indeed, it is a meeting of minds and hopefully acts as a catalyst for developing strategic partnerships through networking and business linkages among delegates,” he said. The first CEO Conference three years back had paved the way for several investments in Sabah, and since then, many companies had set up their Research and Development centres at the Kota Kinabalu Industrial Park. He also said this year’s theme “Managing Sustainable Growth and Competitiveness in the Globalised era” is aptly chosen as it also relates to Malaysia’s competitiveness in the global era. Musa also shared with the Conference participants, who come from some 32 countries, on Sabah’s current development projects, especially the 18-year holistic Sabah Development Corridor (SDC), which will see various development programs to further develop the State. “As a State that is leading in terms of managing our rainforest and other precious natural resources through the establishment of wildlife and forest reserves and State parks, we have to put on record our priority in ensuring sustainable development through environmental conservation. “By striking a balance between development and care for the environment, we aim to make Sabah one of the most livable places in this part of the world, given its strategic location, natural resources, diverse cultural offerings, heritage and clean environment at the end of the SDC period in 2025,” he said. And to hasten the implementation of SDC, the Government will set up the Sabah Economic Development and Investment Authority (SEDIA) which will co-ordinate resources from the Federal and State Governments by speeding up approvals and oversee program implementation. “We are business-friendly and this is reflected in SEDIA’s objectives, which include providing a one-stop centre for fast- track approvals and for follow-through,” he said.


No decision to quit BN, says Raymond
- Musa: NO indication from SAPP to leave
Pairin: PBS strongly supportive of the BN


There is no truth to a rumour that Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) is leaving the Barisan Nasional Coalition. And this was yesterday confirmed by its Deputy President, Datuk Raymond Tan Shu Kiah, who strongly denied the rumour, describing it as just “mere speculation”. “It is a speculation. I do not know why the headline today (in a newspaper yesterday) said ‘It’s SAPP’. But I think as far as lam concerned, we have made no decision whatsoever to leave Barisan Nasional,” he said. Tan believes that SAPP is a vocal party, especially in voicing out dissatisfaction over the recent fuel prices hike, but pointed out that the issue also concerns everybody. “It is not us (leaving). This is not a small matter. For now we have no decision to leave the Coalition. The Party started in 1994 to work closely with BN’s struggle, so there is no reason for us to leave. “Yes, we are very vocal but it is for a good reason. We are fighting on a number of issues for the people of Sabah. And we will keep on doing that. But being vocal does not make us Opposition, does not mean that we have to leave BN,” he explained to reporters when met at the launch of the 2nd Chief Executive Officers’ Conference here. He stressed that the Party President, Datuk Yong Teck Lee, who is also Sabah’s former Chief Minister, wants to make sure that their voices are heard and they want to see results. “We want to see the Federal Government respond to the people’s call. But please, If I could say something. I hope there would be no speculation about us. “I do not know how else can I convince you but I think SAPP is playing a major role and we have been contributing very much to the Government, whether State or at the Federal level. “If people are making speculations to stop us from being vocal, then they are wrong. We are very vocal but definitely (there is) no decision to leave BN. We have been working within BN for a long time, he said. Asked on whether leaving BN is an option for SAPP, Tan responded: “No, as far as I know, that is not something that I and my President have ever considered. And although we are very much focused on quite a big number of issues now, but leaving BN is not one of them.” Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman when met said there was no indication that SAPP was leaving the Coalition soon. “Maybe, it is mere speculation... there is no indication, and I have not received any call or confirmation (on the matter) either,” said the State BN Chairman, when was asked to comment on a local daily’s report speculating that SAPP was contemplating to leave BN. On Sunday, Gua Musang Member of Parliament Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah hinted that a BN Party from East Malaysia might leave the coalition before the end of the month. Asked whether he (Musa) had contacted SAPP President Datuk Yong Teck Lee over the matter, he said he had yet to call Yong specifically about talk that SAPP is leaving the BN but “acknowledged having met Yong earlier”. “He (Yong) did not tell me anything about SAPP leaving the BN,” he said. asked whether he (Musa) is worried about the latest political development in the State, he said: “I cannot comment now because as far as we are concerned, we have good relations amongst BN Parties in Sabah”. Musa also confirmed that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi would make a short visit to Sabah tomorrow afternoon, and would meet both State Umno and BN Component Party leaders in the evening. Prior to that, the Prime Minister is scheduled to officiate the closing ceremony of the conference at 4pm today. Deputy Chief Minister cum Rural Development Minister, Datuk Seri Panglima Joseph Pairin Kitingan meanwhile said that the issue was purposely created for the sake of speculations. “Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim once said he could be the next Prime Minister, and that is an example to show that things can be created for speculation’s sake. I believe that since Razaleigh was the one who started it all, he is the rightful person to ask,” said the Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) President. Asked about PBS’s stand on Razaleigh’s statement, Pairin said: “PBS is strongly supportive of the BN and the Prime Minister. No need to speculate about PBS.” PBS which was formed in 1985, had once pulled out of the Coalition in 1990 and won with a narrow margin in the 1994 state election. The Party however rejoined BN in 2002. Asked whether PBS would consider breaking away from BN if Opposition Pakatan Rakyat could offer better benefits to the people, Pairin responded: “Why want to speculate about new coalition? What new coalition? What new coalition is better compared to the present one?” He said BN is working hard to tackle problems concerning the people and there is no need to talk about a “new coalition” as its existence or who would lead it is unknown. “We do not know whether the leader for this new coalition has experience in running a Government,” he stressed. Touching on the current public grouses on the fuel prices hike, Pairin said it was something beyond the Government’s control. “The recent fuel hike is a global disaster, no one can control fuel prices hike and those who think they can may just have some political agenda. But the Government is doing its level best to tackle the problem they are collecting, compiling and asking around on how better to tackle this problem and ask what else can be done for the rakyat (people). “We must appreciate what is being done and allow the present Government to carry out its responsibility. The Prime Minister and other leaders are working on these things and want to find the best way to tackle the problem. We must understand that it does not happen within the flick of the finger. So instead of pointing fingers, it is best to share ideas with Government on how best to overcome the global problem, and I am sure the Government is willing to listen and probably use it if it is suitable,” he stressed.