Saturday, June 21, 2008

SATURDAY-21ST JUNE 2008-Extra "RM1 bln to build roads in Sabah

Extra ‘RM 1 bln to build
roads in Sabah:

Additional funding for 9MP projects due to rising cost


Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, said the Government has approved additional funding of RM595 million to build roads in rural areas. He said the additional funding for the road projects under the Ninth Malaysia Plan was due to rising cost. The funding will come from the RM4 billion allocation that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had recently annnounced, of which RM1 billion each was for Sabah and Sarawak respectively while RM2 billion was for the Peninsular. Najib was speaking to reporters after chairing the Cabinet Committee on Investments and Infrastructure here yesterday. He said the additional funding would assist in completing the roads under 9MP period. “The priority or decisions on other projects will be taken in the near future based on the applications we will be receiving,” he said.
In realising the Government’s aim to provide basic utilities in the rural areas, Najib said a mapping system will be introduced to identify these areas nationwide that have yet to receive adequate roads and supply of water and electricity. “Some rural areas have water but no electricity, some have no roads. These are the things that we need to do mapping in order to have a complete inventory base,” he said. Najib said the committee has also decided to carry out a detailed study to address the needs of estate communities that have been deprived of these basic utilities as they had not been provided by the estate owners. He explained that estates are not included under the rural areas programmes.
“We will study the management of estates. If the Government is to take action, it will have implications. “I am not saying that the Government will take the burden but somebody has to implement this. There is a group of people being marginalised,” he noted. Najib said the committee had also discussed ways to boost the local construction industry, and one way was to promote the usage of Industrial Building System (IBS) which offers ready made parts of certain buildings or infrastructure. “There has been suggestion to limit the intake of foreign workers in order to increase investments in lBS. “If there is still dependency on cheap foreign labour, there would not be any incentive to promote lBS which requires more capital expenditure,” he said. - Bernama


Contractors seriously affected by fuel crisis Many may have to abandon projects due to costly materials


Sabah Builders Association (SBA) President Tsen Kui Lin has expressed his grave concern over the future of the contractors who are seriously affected by the domino effect of the uncontrolled fuel prices hike, in particular on the cost escalation of building materials. He said that contractors are facing the dilemma of either abandoning their ongoing projects (and face the legal consequences) or continue to dig deep into their own pockets to finance the losing projects. “The question is how far could they go before they exhausted all their lifetime savings,” he said yesterday. Tsen noted that since November 2007, the price of steel bars had increased from RM2,400 to RM4,000 a tonne, a whopping 80 per cent increase, while cement price had gone up by 30 per cent and transport 45 per cent. “With the present conditions of contract for construction, the contractors are finding it impossible to manage the cost of construction,” he said. Towards this end, the SBA has been advocating the inclusion of a price fluctuation cause for the affected building materials in all the on-going construction projects as well as new projects, whether they are private and public sector, projects. Lately, the Master Builders Association Malaysia (MBAM) in Kuala Lumpur and the Sarawak Builders Association had voiced the same concern over the issue in order to save the construction sector, he pointed out. Tsen reckoned that for the on-going projects, the fluctuation clause for the affected building materials would partially compensate the contractors and allow them some breathing space to complete them. Contractors are only partially compensated because there are other indirect cost increases which they will not be compensated, he said, adding that it is very costly to reactivate abandoned projects. According to him, for future projects, with the fluctuation clause, the contractors will be able to estimate more realistically over the tender price. He said this way, the owners would save money in the long term as the projects can be completed on time without the risk of being abandoned. “Besides, the small contractors will be spared from any eventualities caused by the sudden price fluctuation of building materials,” said Tsen, urging the Government to take cognizance of this prevailing crisis in the construction industry as many contractors will go bust. “Corrective actions should be speedily implemented by the Government to save the construction industry. Any failure of the construction industry will definitely affect the other industries, including financial institutions and the Government,” he cautioned.


Nothing Personal in No-Confidence move, says Yong

Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) President Datuk Yong Teck Lee reiterated that the move to support a motion of no-confidence against the Prime Minister was nothing personal.
He said there was a Senatorship offer made through Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman, and that if he accepted the post, it would be announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
“I told him that if PM announced, then it would not be nice for me to accept, so I told him (Musa) there was no need to do so,” he said.
“On June 17, just a day before I made the announcement to support a motion on vote of no-confidence on the PM, I received a confidential letter from the Cabinet Division of the Prime Minister’s Department, but since it is a confidential letter, I cannot reveal its content.
“But PM had already said that it is a nomination letter for a Senatorship post in the Dewan Negara. I then spoke to CM whether the post was offered to shut my mouth and I said it in a body language, and he (Musa) said no.
“But when I received the letter, I was not sure whether it was a bribe … It was a political bribe. Then during a luncheon with the PM, we spoke and I did not say much as I respect the PM’s privacy. I was shocked when he said he could not satisfy my personal greed.
“I never asked for anything from him and in fact, the offer came from CM, I told him that it was unnecessary as it would be seen as shutting my mouth. But if there is a post, then it could be given to one of the eligible SAPP members.
“Again the offer came during our meeting with PM on May 13 where he had said in passing that he had never seen a long for senator, and that they have a role for me. But I felt that it was just a bait, so I stopped there,” explained Yong.
Yong said he had never mentioned anything personal with the PM, adding that they had not even mentioned a thing about the Premier in the Party’s blog.
He also denied claims that Parti Keadilan Rakyat adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had offered him a bigger role than Senator.
Yong said that during his meeting with Anwar on two occasions in Hong Kong and Kuala Lumpur, they spoke on problems of Asian renaissance, where they both gave the global view on the issues in Asia today, food crisis and the number of issues attacking Sabah, including the longstanding illegal immigrants issue.
Meanwhile, Yong said he was shocked when a corruption case, which was filed 12 years ago emerged suddenly, and implicating his name.
“I am curious about the timing the Anti Corruption Agency decided to bring the case up in court. I believe I am the target and that is was to serve as a warning to others to back off,” he said.
“The case was brought up 12 years ago, why it is emerging now? Why not last week? ACA had taken my statement about four to five years ago; I cannot remember how many hours I had to spend with them but I was there to give my statement, then suddenly the case emerges,” he said, referring to the case where the court heard that Yong, the then Chief Minister, had ordered payment of over RM5 million profit from the sale of shares belonging to a State-owned company to his selected agents in 1996.
“If this is a threat so that we can compromise our struggles, then it is not right. I am willing to accept anything, this is my struggle for the people and Sabah,” he said.
“If I am wrong, if I am arrested, if I am charged in court, if I am imprisoned, what can I do, but do not use this as a bargaining chip, it is a threat and could jeopardize our political struggle,” he said.

SATURDAY- 21ST JUNE 2008-SAPP ready to be expelled

SAPP ready to be expelled
Supreme Council endorses motion of no-confidence: Yong

Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) Supreme Council unanimously agreed to support a motion on a vote of no-confidence against Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in the coming Parliamentary sitting, according to its President Datuk Yong Teck Lee.
Describing the decision as “consensus of the Supreme Council members”, Yong said they had endorsed the motion during their five-and-a–half-hour closed door meeting.
Asked whether his Deputy, Datuk Raymond Tan Shu Kiah, was agreeable to the decision, Yong said twice that “before we started the meeting, our decision was that all of us would accept whatever decision that would be made”. “All Supreme Council members will accept whatever decision to be made by the Supreme Council irrespective of their personal views. Having argued on that, all councilors will accept whatsoever the decision, it is that we will endorse the proposal of vote of no-confidence by our two Members of Parliament (Datuk Eric Majimbun (Sepanggar) and Datuk Chua Soon Bui (Tawau),” he said.
Yong said there was no vote taken, stressing that it was all consensus.
Of the 35 Supreme Council members, only 29 attended the meeting, including SAPP Deputy President Datuk Raymond Tan and Luyang Assemblywoman Melanie Chia, both of whom were absent from the party’s press conference on Wednesday.
Asked whether the decision was made on the issue of pulling out from the ruling coalition, Yong replied that initially it was not on the agenda, but the matter was raised and discussed, and they agreed that there was no decision to pull out of BN.
“Are we still in BN? That one you will have to ask the BN leadership. Why are we still in BN? Well, we have made a decision to endorse no-confidence vote on PM; we take it from there, today is not the end of the story,” Yong said.
“But we were surprised when the BN Supreme Council did not inform and invite us to attend the emergency meeting held in Kuala Lumpur yesterday (Thursday). We are after all still a component party.
“Are we waiting for expulsion? We are ready to accept the consequences,” Yong told media representatives at the SAPP headquarters at Bornion Centre here yesterday.
He said SAPP would only write officially to BN to explain the Party’s stand if they receive a written request from the coalition. To date, there is none.
“I was told that the reason why SAPP was not invited is because they wanted to discuss about SAPP but there was no decision made for whatsoever reason. And I was told that throughout the three-and-half-hour meeting, they were discussing about SAPP and not issues raised by us,” he said.
“If they can spend three-and-a-half hours to talk on how to deal with SAPP, why didn’t they talk about why SAPP made this stand, which are the issues raised such as economy, illegal immigrants, increase in the prices of fuel and products, security and autonomy, among others?” he asked.
Yong was confident that the Party will remain intact, stressing that it would even grow stronger especially as they have been receiving overwhelming response and encouragement via hundreds of SMSes, e-mails and the people visiting the SAPP blog.
Asked whether he expected anyone to leave SAPP, Yong quickly replid:”No.”
To another question whether SAPP was still committed to BN, Yong said that they are committed to its platform and causes.
Touching on the fate of SAPP Assemblymen and MPs, Yong said he would leave the matter to the State Government to decide, adding, “We will leave matters related to the Government to the Government.”