Thursday, June 26, 2008


UKM to install antenna at North Pole to detect quake


Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) will set up a Global Positioning System receiver antenna at the North Pole to detect early signs of an earthquake. UKM Vice-Chancellor Datuk Dr Sharifah Hapsah Syed Hasan Shahabudin said the GPS receiver will be fixed in a position opposite to the GPS receiver antenna set up in 2002 at the South Pole. “We have installed a GPS receiver antenna at the South Pole and will fix another one at the North Pole and the position of both the antennas will enable research on early signs of an earthquake as well as signs of sun storms,” she told reporters at the signing of a memorandum of understanding (M0U) between UKM and Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM) here yesterday. Installation of the receiver antenna at a cost of RM200,000 will be done in August with cooperation of the Japanese National Polar Research Institute and the Science Institute of the Iceland University. Sharifah Hapsah said since the colossal tsunami of 2004 many quarters were interested in earthquake research and she. hoped the research would improve earthquake and tsunami forecasts. She said there will be consolidation of data on the electrons in the ionosphere, a layer in the atmosphere that contains ions, with the earth’s magnetic field data to identify early signs of earthquakes. The MoU between UKM and UTHM enables both varsities to cooperate in research and advanced degree education in aerospace. UKM was represented by Sharifah Hapsah and UTHM by its Acting Vice-Chancellor Prof Dr Hashim Saim. -Bernama


Keep fun centres free from drugs, Minister tells operators


The Government has gone to great length to organize many activities to promote Sabah as a premier tourist destination, and the entertainment industry has certainly played an important role in contributing to this success, said Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun at the swearing-in ceremony of Sabah-Labuan Motion Picture Traders and Entertainment Association (SLAMPTEA) yesterday here. “I would endeavour to do my best to look into matters affecting the members of SLAMPTEA,” he said. “Certain issues, for example, the business operation extension needs to be looked into seriously so as to further enhance the effectiveness of the entertainment entities in complementing the tourism industry.” Masidi urged the members of the Association to make a concerted effort in preventing their outlets from being used for drug abuse, or associated with drug dealers. He said even though the operators are in no way responsible for the conduct of their patrons, their role in keeping this menace from tainting the entertainment industry is certainly crucial. Earlier, Masidi witnessed the swearing-in ceremony followed by a multimedia show and entertainment program. The function was attended by over 500 members of the Association, including several Government officers.


No petrol stations will stop selling, says Ministry


The Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs has assured the public that no petrol stations in the State will suspend fuel sales. The Senior Assistant Director of Enforcement Division in the Ministry, Balwant Singh A/L Pritam Singh said the fuel dealers in Sabah have given the same assurance. “The Ministry will take stern action against any dealers who refuse to sell, or deny in possession of the controlled items (petrol and diesel),” he said, adding that dealers who refuse to sell fuels will be charged under the Control of Supply Act 1961. The charge carries a maximum of two years’ jail or a RM100,000 fine. On Tuesday, Sabah Petroleum Dealers Association President Charles Soong said they had stopped accepting credit cards for the purchase of fuels in line with the national Association’s directive in its bid to get the Government to meet their demand for an increase in their commission to an acceptable level. However, Soong said yesterday the Association had decided not to proceed with the action and would accept credit cards as usual following the mad fuel rush on Tuesday. The rumours about petrol stations in Sabah going to close for five days triggered widespread panic buying with vehicles lining up all the way from the roads to fuel stations, causing massive traffic congestions as a result. Balwant said the decision not to accept credit cards is up to the dealers themselves and the Ministry cannot order the dealers to accept any modes of payment other than by cash. He nevertheless advised the dealers to cooperate with the Ministry and not to take any action that will burden the consumers while fighting for their own interest. “The commissions issue is between the dealers and the Finance Ministry, and we assume that the Association’s plan to strike was probably related to the issue,” he said. When asked about the action that will be taken against those who spread the rumours, Balwant said the police will take action against the person, who will be detained under Internal Security Act (ISA) for making a false report. He advised the public not to believe in rumours and to think rationally and act wisely if they ever encounter such occurrences in the future. “The public should find believable source to ask and not to act immaturely,” he said, adding that the public can call the Ministry’s office on 088-4845 00 (office line) or 1-300-88-6800 (toll free) for any query on the matter.


Sepilok Nature Marathon to be held August 10


The Sandakan Municipal Council is organizing the Sandakan Sepilok Nature Marathon in conjunction with the Sandakan Festival on August 10 at 5.30am at the Sandakan Sports Complex here. The Chairman of the Council’s Publicity Committee5 Mr Tan Swee Heng, disclosed yesterday that the marathon is divided into two categories, Quarter Marathon and Half Marathon. The Quarter Marathon category is open to boys and girls of age 13 to 16 years. The prizes are RM300 for the champion, RM200 (second place), RM15O (third) and RM100 each for fourth to 10th positions. In the Half Marathon category, the Open Section is for runners aged 18 years and above for both men and women sections while the Veteran Section covers both men and women of ages 45 years and above. The prizes for the Half Marathon are RM1,000 for champion, RM700 (second place), RM 500 (third), RM300 and RM 100 each from fifth positions. The entrance fee is RM10 for students and RM2 for non-students. A T-shirt will be given o all the participant upon registration. Tan said about 2,000 people are expected to take part in the event and a lucky draw offering attractive prizes would also be held. Entry forms and details of the marathon are available at the Sandakan Municipal Council and via their website


Comprehensive approach needed: SAPP


Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) has expressed its gratitude to Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak for announcing plans for a massive operation to flush out illegal immigrants in Sabah. Its President, Datuk Yong Teck Lee, said a comprehensive approach was needed to effectively tackle the problem and the Party was thanking the Deputy Prime Minister for the announcement. “Security, law and order are the basic constitutional duties of the Government. The rakyat should not have to suffer while waiting for the Government to take its time in tackling crimes, illicit drugs, street kids, illegal cigarette vendors and a host of other problems associated with illegal immigrants.” He said the range of measures that the Government must take without delay would in detaining illegal out-sourcing agents (like snake heads) and local syndicates who smuggled in illegals. Yong hoped that the Malaysian consulate now in Davao could be relocated to Zamboangga and a Philippine consulate could also be established in Sabah. He said there should also be tighter controls over the Zamboanga-Sandakan ferry service, imposition of a bond on the return tickets of non-Malaysian traveller – Bernama.


Relief over move against illegals
Sabah leaders welcome massive operation to flush out foreigners in the State


Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) President Datuk Seri Panglima Joseph Pairin Kitingan welcomed the announcement by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak of an impending massive operation to rid Sabah of illegal immigrants. He said the people of Sabah have been hoping for such an action from the Federal Government all this while in resolving the long overdue problem once and for all. Pairin, who is Deputy Chief Minister cum Rural Development Minister, said the presence of a high number of illegal immigrants for a long time now has really burdened the people apart from creating numerous social ills and criminal activities. He reckoned that the operation should be carried out systematically based on the political will of the Barisan Nasional (BN) led Government. “It is important for the Federal Government to set a time frame in resolving the illegal immigrants problem so that continued and consistent efforts can be taken towards achieving the Government’s Zero Poverty target,” said Pairin. He said the authorities have been facing difficulty in determining the exact number of illegal immigrants in Sabah due to the lack of any record on them. “The figures made by various quarters keep on changing and, at one time, their numbers were estimated at between 600,000 and one million. As such, concrete efforts must be made to determine their actual numbers,” he said. He felt a census drive should be done with the involvement of various relevant departments and bodies to determine the actual number of illegal immigrants as well as those foreigners with permits to work in the State legally. PBS Vice President Datuk Dr Yee Moh L Chai said the decision to take action against illegal immigrants is “timely and long awaited.” “It is certainly a move that is moving towards the right direction. It will definitely resolve the illegal immigrants problem in Sabah,” he said. “Let us hope that this will be the first of many such actions until the problems related to illegal immigrants are resolved.” According to Najib, the operation would cover all identified foreign nationals who have no valid personal identification documents either from their homeland or from the Malaysian Government, and that they would be deported to the country that is willing to accept them. “It’s better late than never”. This is how Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) President Datuk V K Liew described the Government’s plan to launch a massive operation to flush out illegal immigrants in Sabah soon. “This is a welcome news. It comes as a relief for the people of Sabah,” he said. The high number of illegal immigrants in the State was a longstanding issue which Sabahans were unhappy about. This issue has been used by Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) President Datuk Yong Teck Lee as one of his political weapons to criticise the leadership of the Federal Government. In announcing the massive operation in Kuala Lumpur on Tuesday, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the operation would cover all identified foreign nationals who lacked valid identification documents, either from their homeland or from the Malaysian Government, adding that Liew said the move was a testimony of the Government’s sincerity in solving the illegal immigrant problems, once and for all. “I believe we have a lot to learn from the operation (Ops Nyah) which was initiated by former Sabah Chief Minister Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat between 2001 and 2003,” he added. Another former Chief Minister, Datuk Salleh Said Keruak also welcomed the move, saying it would bring a ray of hope to the people and the State. “But, this should be done on a regular basis and not on ad hoc basis. The Sabah people have been clamouring for a lasting solution to the problem for so long, and we hope the massive operation will bear fruit,” he said. United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (UPKO) Deputy President Datuk Wilfred Bumburing said the announcement by the Deputy Prime Minister was a bold and concrete step to solve the problem of illegal immigrants in Sabah “although it seems to have come a little late as the issue was long overdue”. He suggested a three-dimensional approach for implementation, which needed a continuous and comprehensive action program. “First, to immediately stop the influx of illegal immigrants by blocking all known entry points and guarding our shoreline against any illegal entry or intrusion”. “Second, deport immediately those who are currently here, without detaining them for any period of time,” he said. Bumburing also suggested that the Government resolve the issue of MyKad or identity cards (ICs) illegally issued to foreigners. “We have had RTD (Road Transport Department) officers arrested in illegal issuance of ICs, which prove that there are people in possession of ICs who are illegal. I still believe that a Royal Commission of Inquiry is the best solution to resolve this issue,” he added. Meanwhile, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Vice-President Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan said the move was long overdue. “The Government should not divert the attention to illegal immigrants as the real problem was ‘Project IC’.. .that should be the focus. The illegal immigrant issue is a normal problem. In concurring with Dr Jeffrey, Consumers Association of Sabah (Cash) President Datuk Patrick Sindu said the Government should set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry on illegal immigrants in Sabah to get to the root of the problem and subsequently address it effectively.


Fuel stations to operate as usual, Association assures


Petrol kiosks throughout Sabah will operate as usual, assured Sabah Petroleum Dealers Association President Charles Soong. The assurance came a day after rumours of a five-day closure of fuel stations and a new fuel price hike sparked widespread panic buying yesterday. The mad rush to refuel started at about 1pm with long queues of vehicles along the roads leading to petrol kiosks, which caused serious traffic congestion. Many motorists were taking no chances after receiving the information via SMS or word of mouth, and continued to wait until late a night for their turns to fill up their tanks. About three hours after the panic buying started, massive traffic jams were occurring all around the city and the outskirts. Soong, when contacted yesterday to comment on the mad rush, said that he had no idea how the rumours started. He however revealed that there was a directive from the National Petroleum Dealers Association for all dealers to stop accepting the use of credit cards for the purchase of fuels. “The national Association is asking the Government to meet a few more requirements, including raising our commission to an acceptable level and if that demand is not met, we plan not to sell fuel for eight hours tomorrow (June 26). “What happened yesterday (Tuesday) was beyond our imagination. We do not want to see a repetition of that incident and has agreed that we will not go ahead with the plan to stop selling fuels for eight hours business will resume as usual,” he stressed. Soong said several petrol kiosks were still thronged by car owner yesterday morning but the number of motorists involved in the panic buying dropped by noon. “We have come to terms that w will try negotiating with the Government to make sure our demands are met. I think it is best to overcome the problem through the proper channels, after all we have a responsible and caring Government; I am sure they (Government) will find a way to ensure that our demands are fulfilled,” he said. He also said that they will also continue accepting credit cards, as usual.


KL to flush out illegals
Massive operation soon to send back immigrants without valid documents


The Federal Government will soon launch a massive operation to flush out illegal immigrants in Sabah, a protracted and highly-charged issue that has again been raised of late. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak who yesterday announced the coming operation, said it would cover all identified foreign nationals who have no valid personal identification documents either from their homeland or from the Malaysian authorities. “We will deport them to the countries that are willing to accept them,” he told reporters after chairing the Special Cabinet Committee meeting on Illegal Immigrants in Sabah. Najib said this would be done after his meeting with Sabah Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders soon. So far, about 300,000 illegal immigrants from the State had been deported, according to him. Asked whether the decision was taken following pressure from BN Component Parties in Sabah, Najib said it was to reflect the Federal Government’s firm commitment to address the critical illegal immigrants’ issue in the State. He said the Federal Government had identified the issue as a serious problem and Sabahans want effective action to be taken. Stressing that illegal immigrants issue is a complex matter in Sabah, Najib said deporting the foreign nationals from the State would be dealt with step by step. “There are all sorts of claims, it’s a complex problem, let us handle it step by step,” he said when queried on allegations of the illegal immigrants being given Malaysian identity cards and other documents to legalise their stay in Sabah. On whether the operations would cover foreign nationals living in various settlements since the 1970s, Najib said it would. “Some of the settlements may be affected but these are the things we will check on the ground. But what is important is our firm commitment to tackle this problem,” he said. To another question on the root causes of the problem, Najib said there were many including the failure of the illegals to recognise the borders, in addition to the lure of economic opportunities in Sabah. “We also know some of them came in legally but they overstay and become illegal immigrants,” he added. - Bernama


Anifah says Special Task Force on Illegal Immigrants is unconstitutional


Kimanis Member of Parliament Datuk Anifah Aman said the Federal Government’s proposal to set up a Special Task Force on Illegal Immigrants in the State is unconstitutional. “The actual powers on Immigration matters lies with the State Government,” he was quoted as saying by an online news portal. Citing Article 161E(4) of the Federal Constitution, Anifah said immigration matters in Sabah and Sarawak lies with the State authorities, the Chief Minister, to regulate and control. He said the proper way to handle the illegal immigrants’ issue is to set up a high-profile Task Force headed by the Chief Minister while Deputy Prime Minister may play the patron role. “This would be consistent with Article 161E(4) of the Federal Constitution,” he said. Anifah also dismissed other proposals such as a Royal Commission or even a Parliamentary Select Committee as unconstitutional and inappropriate. He said a Special Panel headed by Sabah Chief Minister, with participation from Federal Ministers, is the only constitutional step towards solving the State’s long- standing illegal immigrants’ problem. As such, he said, the Federal Government’s move to set up a high-level Task Force headed by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, as announced by the Prime Minister recently as part of a package designed to appease Sabahans, went against the Federal Constitution. Anifah, the powerful Umno MP seen as a key player in the battle for support of East Malaysian legislators, was backing Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) sentiments in relation to Sabahans’ unhappiness with the BN Federal Government, but stopped short of backing SAPP’s decision to support a no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister. He suggested the Home Affairs Minister also sit on the Special Panel to advise on the findings and recommendations. Anifah said the high number of illegal immigrants in the State is a long-standing issue which Sabahans are unhappy with and expect help from the Federal Government to resolve the situation. In 2002, the Federal Government setup a Cabinet Committee to tackle the problem, but Sabahans said they had seen very little results on the ground, and have widespread concerns that illegal immigrants would soon outnumber citizens in the State. In view of the fact that the illegal immigrants’ issue falls under the ambit of Article 161E(4) of the Constitution, it would also be inappropriate for a Parliamentary Select Committee to study the issue. Anifah, who rejected an appointment as a Federal Deputy Minister after the March 8 general election, had positioned himself to champion the interests of Sabah and Sarawak in recent months. He has so far refused to chastise SAPP, a BN Component Party, except to say he did not support any no-confidence motion against the Prime Minister. - Bernama