Wednesday, June 18, 2008


Govt willing to relook at twice monthly pay plan


Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr S Subramaniam says the Government is willing to relook at the plan to pay the monthly salary of its employees in two installments if they disagree with it. “I believe the Government can review it. “I will bring the matter for discussion if the employees feel it brings more difficulties,” he said after opening Pembangunan Sumber Manusia Bhd’s Training Fiesta here yesterday. The twice monthly pay is to take effect in August and according to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi who announced it last week, the move would help the civil servants manage their expenses following the increase in fuel prices. The Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Services however, objected to it saying it was not an effective way to solving people’s problems caused by the fuel price increase. The Kuala Lumpur City Hall Employees Union and Malaysian Airline System Employees Union have also called for the plan’s review. - Bernama


10 schools to celebrate World Environmental Day


Ten secondary and primary schools will celebrate World Environmental Day at All Saints Secondary School in Likas today. Among the participating schools are SJK Chung Hwa, SM Shan Tao, SM Teknik, SK St Agnes, SMK Likas, SMK Lok Yuk and SJK St James. All Saints Principal Lorna Mathews yesterday said the objective of the exhibition is to expose the students on the need to preserve the environment. It is also to give input to the teachers and students on the role of Government agencies and voluntary bodies or NGOs to ensure the significance of protecting the environment. Thirdly, to preserve a sense of responsibility among the young generation to solve the problem of polluted environment.


Bigger Sabah Dragon Boat race next year, says Organising Secretary


The 23rd Sabah Dragon Boat race that ended last Sunday received an overwhelming response from both local and international teams with a total of 57 teams. According to Zachary Mobijohn; the Organising Secretary for the race, the organisers are already in talks with several dragon boat associations around this region, in hopes of getting more team participation next year. “We will work together with NGOs, clubs in other countries apart from national organisations in our effort to promote this event next year. We are optimistic with our on-going efforts, we can get more foreign teams to participate in next year’s annual Sabah Dragon Boat race,” he added. The Sabah Dragon Boat race which entered its 23rd year this year, was successfully organised by the Sabah Tourism Board and its wholly owned subsidiary company, Sri Pelancongan Sabah Sdn Bbd with the collaboration of the Sabah Chinese Cultural Association (SCCA). This year, more than 10,000 locals and tourists came to witness one of Sabah’s most anticipated annual sporting events at the Likas Bay last Sunday. “The new location for the race which is further down the bay is considered a much better location and we were able to cater to larger crowd, providing a wider view as well,” said Zachary.Top local team, the Tuaran Farmers Association (Pertubuhan Farmers Association (Pertubuhan Peladang Tuaran), comprising fishermen from Kampung Mengkabong, clinched the highly- coveted Sabah’s Head of State Trophy. A total of five teams entered this category, including the National Team ‘from Negara Brunei Darussalam, the winner for this category last year and a team from ‘Nan-Aou Shenzen, the sole team from China. ‘We are very proud with the achievement of a local team winning the grand trophy of this year’s race. In past years, this category was largely dominated by international teams, namely Brunei and China. ‘The Tuaran Farmers’ Association win is a testament that the performance of our local teams has improved over the years and is becoming a force to be reckoned with. We look forward to a more challenging and exciting race in the coming year,” said Zachary. “The Tuaran Farmers Association (Pertubuhan Peladang Tuaran)”, comprising fishermen from Kampung Mengkabong, clinched the highly-year’s race. In past years, this category was largely dominated by international teams, namely Brunei and China.


KL urged to review foreign workers levy scheme for Sabah


Tawau Member of Parliament Datuk Chua Soon Bui has urged the Federal Government to review the existing levy scheme imposed on foreign workers in Sabah, which was said to be flawed and causing unnecessary loss and inconvenience to the employers. She made the call during 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 had been receiving numerous complaints from employers in the various sectors complaining about the current foreign workers levy scheme. The scheme does not guarantee on the employers’ investment when the foreign workers engaged by them absconded after having worked for two to three months, usually due to pinching of workers by another employer which is still very rampant in Sabah, especially in the plantation sector. Those in the plantation sector are paying RM1,500 per foreign worker and they could engage as many as 100 workers or more, depending on .the size of their plantations. Unfortunately, the affected employers are neither allowed to claim back their levies nor transfer them to others, if they were to engage some workers to replace those who have absconded earlier. This has thus caused great losses to many of them in the past and forced them to resort to employ illegal workers, taking a great risk of being caught and penalized by the relevant authorities. Chua thus hoped the Federal Government could immediately review the existing foreign workers levy scheme for Sabah, to make it more secure for the employers’ investment and they would not resort to engaging illegal workers, a majority of whom are also illegal immigrants. The engagement of illegal workers also contributes to loss of revenues to the Government in terms of foreign worker levies, she added.


Experts welcome to be advisors to farmers: Mustapa


The Government welcomes the active involvement of experts in agricultural technology to become advisors and motivators to farmers, Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed said yesterday. He said that in this era of knowledge economy, farmers needed guidance from technical experts because they were unable to understand and put into practice information provided to them. “Based on observation, farmers in the rural areas are using technology and modern techniques only if they are given guidance by dedicated and capable extension officers,” he said in his speech at the opening of the International Conference on Agricultural Extension 2008 (AGREXO8), here. The text of his speech was readout by the Ministry’s Deputy Secretary-General Planning Datuk Ibrahim Mohamed. Mustapa said that in this respect the Ministry, through its departments and agencies, would undertake bigger roles so as to improve the efficiency and modus operandi of the present support services. “The challenge to rejuvenate the agriculture sector and its importance in ensuring food security, especially in this situation of food crisis, has caused some countries to strengthen the roles of the Ministry in order to increase productivity to ensure higher levels of production,” he said. Mustapa said that in overcoming the urgent challenge of sharp increases in food prices, the Ministry had been given the responsibility to revitalise the agro-food sector.


Biodiesel can be alternative to petroleum, says industry player


Biodiesel has the potential to become the alternative to petroleum, according to Russel Teall, President of US-based Biodiesel Industries He said biodiesel, made from vegetable oils and animal fats, needed to be considered an alternative source of energy as the global demand for petroleum had exceeded the discovery of new reserves. “Our challenge is to make this transition now before the growing global demand for energy has significant political and environmental consequences,” he said in his working paper on “Entrepreneurial Promise of Renewable Energy to Meet Energy Demand”. The paper was presented in conjunction with the Second International CEOs Conference being held here yesterday. Teall said biodiesel was non-toxic, biodegradable and produced from renewable resources, thus reducing green house gases. “The feedstocks used can be grown and harvested in a socially responsible manner that respects the environment and supports the farmer,” he said. “Communities and governments should rethink their needs and strive to find sustainable, non-polluting alternatives to petroleum,” he added.


Conference repositioning Sabah in global economy


The Second International CEOs Conference 2008 which ended yesterday was seen as a good way to start repositioning Sabah in a global economy and unlocking the potentially greater value that it has. According to former Regional Chairman of Booz Allen Hamilton, Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia, Ian Buchanan, the conference has raised the State’s profile quite considerably among the global investors. “Sabah has assets which are in great demand,” he said, adding that with globalisation and broadband- enabled technology, it is not impossible to interact with outside investors. Meanwhile, Founder, Executive Director and Chief Executive Officer of Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (ASLI), Datuk Dr Michael Yeoh, said that this year’s conference had certainly been a vast improvement from the first one in 2005. “It has been a very successful conference in terms of the number of attendees, the quality of speakers and the topics that have been discussed,” Yeoh said. He added that the State Government hoped that as a result of the conference, there would be new investments here in Sabah as well as renewed investments. The closing ceremony was held yesterday at the Magellan Sutera Harbour here with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi officiating the closing event. During the third and final day of the conference, the first session started with a presentation titled “Brand and Corporate Innovation and Competitiveness” with Chairman of EU-Malaysia Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Malaysia as the Panel Chairman. The speakers emphasized on the importance of branding of a company where strong brands will deliver recognition, coherence, consistency, reputation, sustainable goodwill and shareholder value. They also delivered presentations on a strategic brand approach, structure, perspective and principles and ways to overcome problems that are related to corporate innovations. During the second session, the CEO of Cahya Mata Sarawak Berhad, Malaysia, Datuk Richard Curtis as a Panel Chairman, presented the “Entrepreneurial Promise of Renewable Energy to Meet Energy Demand”. The speakers presented the potential of alternative energy source such as biodiesel where they also talked about the production, applications, benefits and the future of the biodiesel such as its capability to generate and distribute electricity into rural communities that are isolated from the grid and also to provide employment for people in the poorest rural areas and utilizing wasteland that are not productive. While in the third session, the Vice President of Innovation Management Industry Government Group for High Technology (MiGHT), Malays Asmadi Md Said led the speakers a Panel Chairman to present “Smart Partnership - Forging Successful Strategic Alliances”. The speakers talked about possible financing for public-private partnership where Sri Lanka Dendro Biomass Power Project require stakeholders’ participation. The presentation also comprise of the potential of Jatropha, a plan for biodiesel integrated economic for plantation and mill/refinery where they spoke about the benefit of Jatropha plantation such as the production of biodiesel, wasteland reclamation and reforestation and also creating local jobs and purchasing power. Founder and CEO of Oxbridge Climate Capital, United Kingdom, Dr Kenny Tang chaired discussion on “Climate Change and Ecological Sustainability Honouring Mother Nature” where four panelists presented their papers on the topic. The discussion covered topics on greenhouse effect, the effect of global warming and the potential of climate change impacts and also measures to ensure sustainable development and also the future of climate change. The potential of Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) was also discussed where it creates profit from environmental improvement by creating a new commodity, Certified Emission Reductions (CER), after national and international approval. During the special session, Doctor of Technology and National President, Australian Institute of Project Management, Professor Dr David H. Dombkins presented “Facility and Asset Management - Minimise and Control Costs, Increase Capacity and Sustainability”. He presented the asset management maturity and planning to deal with emergence properties and also the enterprise program management. During the fifth and final session, the speakers led by the Managing Director of Master Consult Services Pte Ltd, Singapore, Christopher Khoo, presented “Talent Management and High Performing Organisations: Driving Talent Mindset for Excellence”. The speakers presented the situation analysis, managing human capital and how to develop leaders. They also stressed on the skills that general/business managers should have, identifying leadership talent within the conglomerate and also the importance of teamwork. Also present at the closing ceremony was Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Haji Aman who is also the Chairman of the Organising Committee of the Conference.


Poverty eradication project funds won’t be affected: PM


Funds allocated for poverty eradication related projects would not be affected in the mid-term Ninth Malaysia Plan review later this month. However, mega development projects throughout the Country might be put on hold. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi when disclosing this yesterday described poverty eradication programs as priority projects, and stressed that it was also in line with the effort to eradicate abject poverty by the year 2010. “Any projects, even mega ones, will be on hold, if it is not urgently needed, while those on-going will not be touched. The review will be done both in East and West Malaysia, we will look at the details and decide later,” he said at a press conference after officially closing the two-day Chief Executive Officers Conference 2008 here, yesterday. Also present were Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman and his two deputies Datuk Seri Panglima Joseph Pairin Kitingan and Datuk Raymond Tan Shu Kiali. Earlier in his speech, Abdullah said the Government would like to ensure that all important projects are carried out well, especially in East Malaysia so that by 2020, the two States will grow and be at par with the counterparts in Peninsular. He said the Government had to weather strong criticisms, especially from the Malaysians who must bear the brunt of higher fuel prices. “It has been a difficult tightrope to walk on. On one hand, we continue to do everything within our power to cushion the impact on the people, while on the other, we are working very hard to ensure that our national finances do not deteriorate to the detriment of future generations,” he said. He stressed that this is the challenge posed by globalisation, which means making difficult decisions in the face of overwhelming challenges. “On my part, I believe that we are making the painful but necessary adjustments towards making Malaysia more competitive. “I am sure that many of you will have your own difficult decisions to make in the face of globalisation. You will never be able to make everyone happy but you can at least console yourself with the certainty .that you are making the right decision, God willing,” he said. Abdullah reassured potential investors that Malaysia’s delivery system and its services will be able to meet their demands, with hardworking Anti—Corruption Agency officers and personnel combating graft. In the effort to overcome the food crisis, he urged the people to venture into the agriculture sector. “I am not asking them to go back to agriculture but rather develop the sector to ensure better productivity,” he said. In addition, Abdullah also called for better implementation of all development projects, stressing that having a good plan is not enough. Is the 100 per cent hike in the salary of Tenaga Nasional Berhad Chief Executive Officer Datuk Seri Che Khalib Mohamad Noh rational? Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in responding to this question, said: “They are the ones who know it better whether it is rational or otherwise.”


Abdullah says not aware of any defection


Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said yesterday he was not aware of any move by a Barisan Nasional (BN) Party or Members of Parliament wanting to leave the Coalition and form an independent grouping. “I have not been told anything about it,” he told reporters here. Abdullah, who is BN Chairman, was asked to comment on recent reports that a BN Party was contemplating to quit the Coalition. On Monday, Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said there was no indication so far that a State BN Component would leave the Coalition soon, and described such talks as mere speculation. Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) Deputy President Datuk Raymond Tan also denied on Monday that the Party would leave the Coalition, saying the Party would remain a BN Component. On Sunday, Gua Musang Member of Parliament, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah of Umno, hinted that a BN Party from East Malaysia might leave the Coalition before the end of the month.


Senior SAPP official hints of bombshell


Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP), long rumoured to be planning to quit the Barisan Nasional Coalition, is expected to drop a bombshell today that may lead to a drastic change of political scenario in Malaysia. According to a senior SAPP official who spoke on condition bf anonymity, the Party leadership will be making an important announcement and declaration at a news conference here today. However, he declined to go into the details of the announcement except saying “you’ll find out about it at the news conference”. He nevertheless stressed that whatever announcement there may be, it has been well thought out with the State and the people’s interest in mind. He also assured that SAPP would not be the “Lone Ranger” in this case. Asked on SAPP Deputy President Datuk Raymond Tan Shu Kiab’s denial earlier that the Party is not ditching the BN before the end of the month, he quipped that it was just part and parcel of “political maneuvers”.


Many things need to be done, says PM


Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi remains a hardworking leader 100 days after the General Election. “This means this is my second term as the Prime Minister. I am still working. There are many things that need to be done. “There are several items in the 2004 Manifesto which have yet to be implemented as well as the recent election manifests. What is more important is for efforts to be improved and to understand the current challenges, namely the fuel prices increase which will have some chain effects on other products,” he said during a press conference after officially closing the two- day Chief Executive Officers Conference 2008 here yesterday. Abdullah said the issues would be looked into based on priorities and many development projects should be implemented. He said the recent fuel prices increase was not meant to burden the people. “Every measure taken has its own rationale. We will accept any ideas from the people to help us improve the situation. In fact, I have received many letters to advise the Government on certain things and I accept them openly. This shows people are responding positively and are willing to help the Government,” he said. Abdullah stressed that the Government has limited funding but it has to overcome the current situation following the fuel prices hike. “We cannot use 100 percent of the revenue from petroleum to provide subsidies because we have to leave some for the development as well. When we provide entirely for subsidies, it would mean lower fuel prices but it would be at the expense of our development projects. We cannot do so because we need development in our country,” he said.