Saturday, June 28, 2008


No increase of essential goods prices: Timbon


The prices of most essential goods like fresh meat, fish and vegetables, except rice, in the suburban markets have remained stable and have not increased as claimed by some quarters. “I found out from my two spot checks on traders and pricing of goods in two markets in Inanam and one in Menggatal yesterday that prices, except for rice which of course had recently increased, are still the same with more or less the same amount or weight of goods could be bought with the same amount of money a few months ago,” said Assistant Community Development and Consumer Affairs Minister Herbert Timbon Lagadan. “In Inanam, however, the traders in the old market complained of reducing customers because of the stiff competition from the adjacent open market, which they claimed were infested with illegal immigrant hawkers,” he said in a statement here yesterday. During the spot checks in the company of officers from the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry, Timbon was told by local hawkers that sales were declining while wholesale price had increased a bit. Nevertheless, they are maintaining the old retail prices to remain in the business although their profit is getting smaller. Timbon also found out during the spot checks that both the markets in Inanam and Menggatal do not have proper toilets within the buildings, causing discomfort to traders and hawkers, especially the aged. He also discovered that sellers of pork, chicken and other fresh meat share the same spot in the wet market in Menggatal, causing discomfor4 among the customers, especially the Muslims. “I think something needs to be done fast to provide toilets in both markets, and also to separate the meat sellers in Menggatal,” he said, adding that the local authoriti would have to upgrade facilities their respective markets


Seaweed project to ease poverty among islanders


Universiti Malaysia Sabah has been urged to find ways to further encourage Banggi islanders to take part in UMS seaweed cultivation to improve their livelihood. Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Yahya Hussin, in making the call, said it could be a good way to ease poverty. Yahya, who is also Agriculture and Food Industry Minister, was speaking after inspecting the seaweed project on the island, which is jointly carried out by UMS Borneo Marine Research Institute and Fisheries Development Authorityof Malaysia (LKIM) under the Hardcore Poor Development Programme of the Rural and Regional Development Ministry. He was briefed on the project by the UMS seaweed research officer Azlin Abd Hamid. According to Azlin, the project has great potential and would bring huge returns, and is the answer to eradicate hardcore poor on the island. Apart from researching on the best method to cultivate seaweed and its nutritional value, UMS is also assisting by buying the dried seaweed from the participants. To date, some 112 residents of Banggi, Balambangan and nearby islands have signed up for the programme. The project, which was launched in March 1999, is located on the northern part of Sabah, which has been expanded to Pitas and Kota Marudu, Since its inception, the Kudat/Banggi participants’ seaweed farming, both wet and dry, is located at Kampung Kaligau, Telutuh, Panukaran Island, Sibogo, Malawali and Matangule. Seaweed is scientifically known as ‘Eurcheuma cottonii’, or ‘latoh’ among the locals. There are two species of seaweed, namely ‘Eurcheuma cottonii’ and ‘Eucheauma spinosum’. UMS is also helping the participants to market its seaweed products and has successfully produced quality cosmetic products from the Eucheauma spinosum species.


Johor Baharu girl gets rare honour at American college


Stories abound over the achievements of Indian and Chinese students in American universities. Last month, 13-year-old child prodigy Sameer Mishra from India stunned the American nation by winning the 2008 Scripps National Spelling Bee competition in Washington. Yesterday, it is a Malaysian girl’s turn to bag a rare distinction. Dashini Jeyathurai, 24, from Johor Baharu, has been selected a one of ‘two students out of a total of 30 bright students auditioned for delivering the valediction speech on “Disorienting Dilemmas: Getting an Education.” She arrived in the United States in 2004 to pursue an undergraduate course in English and Women’s Studies as her major and minor subjects at the reputed Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota. The course is courtesy of Starr International Scholarship, awarded by the C V Starr Foundation in the US. 1 This month, Jeyathurai graduated with a summa-cum-laude distinction which is awarded to students who graduate with a 3.90 score and above. She is pursuing undergraduate studies at Carleton, thanks to the Starr International Scholarship, awarded by the C V Starr Foundation in the United States. “I was the only Malaysian out of six students granted scholarships,” she said in an interview with Bernama. Jeyathurai is planning to study for her Ph.D. in English and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan, a five-year academic endeavour? She began her education at the Sekolah Rendah Kebangsaan (Perempuan) Yahya Awal in Johor Babru, continuing further studies in Singapore on an ASEAN scholarship. Jeyathurai has received accolades at Carleton, including the Mortar Board Fund Prize, Niles Prize in Medieval and Renaissance Studies and the Noyes Prize which is awarded to distinguished scholars from the junior class, This year, she won the Scott Tyler Berguer Prize for demonstrating excellence in character and thought, and the Andrea Iseminger Endowed Scholarship.


Tawau, Tuaran have most number of drug addicts
71 of them are new victims and 15 repeat cases: Agency


Eighty-six drug addicts, including 71 new victims and 15 repeat cases, were detected in the last four months of this year in Sabah. National Anti-Drug Agency Sabah Director Amran bin Ahmad said Tawau had the largest number of drug addicts at 26, followed by Tuaran (24), Ranau (11), Papar (seven), Sandakan (four) and two each in Kudat, Kunak, Kota Marudu and Semporna. The most common types of drugs abused were metamphetamine or syabu, ecstasy, morphine, ganja, codeine, cough syrup, heroin, amphetamine and psychotropic pills. According to Amran, the drug threat is not new in Sabah. However, efforts to curb and prevent the problem would be continued so that the country could be drug free by the year 2015. “I understand that it is not easy to combat the drug menace but let’s look at it as a challenge to our community, especially parents and the country and we must make it our priority as it is a dangerous substance. “My agency will continue to inform the public, especially students, why they should avoid drugs,” he said at the National Anti- Drug Day here yesterday. Meanwhile, Community Development and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Hajah Azizah binti Datuk Hj Mohd Dun, who officiated the event, stressed that the Government. needs everybody’s effort and cooperation to eliminate once and for all the drug problem and its related activities which are a threat to the society. Azizah pointed out that smoking is also a bad habit which should be eliminated. Besides affecting the health, children who are exposed to it may want to try drugs when they grow up. “If we let the drugs becoming a menace to our community, then it would destroy us, especially the youngsters,” she pointed out. Azizah said unemployment should not be the cause for Malaysian citizens to be involved in drug trafficking overseas, especially among the graduates. “They should know beforehand what kind of job they have been offered and ignorance of the drug is unreasonable, especially when they are graduates. We expect them to be knowledgeable individuals,” she said. On the role of Islamic agencies in combating the drug problem, Azizah said JAKIM had implemented several programmes for former drug addicts to prevent them from returning to their old habit.


Revised allocation to accelerate devt: CM


The revised allocation under the Mid-Term Review of the Ninth Malaysia Plan would accelerate implementation of projects for development in Sabah and Sarawak, said Musa Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman. “However it must be stressed over and over again, how important it is for the allocation to be channelled and utilised efficiently so that the projects and programmes for the people can be implemented as quickly as possible,” he said in a statement here yesterday In welcoming Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s announcement on Thursday on the RM13.5 billion allocation to develop rural education, Musa said the allocation would boost efforts to uplift the level of education in the two States. “In Sabah, there is still a lot to be done where education is concerned, especially in rural areas which still lack infrastructure, learning tools and quality teachers. “Aside from efforts in narrowing the gap on education between the rural and urban -schools, Sabah will also be getting another RM1 billion for accelerated development,” he said.


Gas for ALL Proton cars


National carmaker Proton yesterday launched a “zero-defect” campaign aimed at erasing a reputation for poor quality that has left it struggling to compete against foreign competitors. Proton Managing Director Datuk Syed Zainal Abidin Syed Mohamed Tahir also announced plans to fit all models with natural gas tanks from October to help motorists beat the rising cost of fuel. The move follows a 41 percent petrol price hike this month. However, the carmaker is pushing ahead with plans to roll out its first multi—purpose vehicle (MPV) next March, saying there was also demand for the gas- guzzling models, which are popular with large Malaysian families. In an emotional plea to some 5,000 employees, Syed Zainal a 45-year- old engineer who took the helm two years ago — urged them to focus on quality control, which is critical to profitability and overseas exports. “If we produce cars with defects, consumers will get fed up with us. With the recent fuel hike, consumers want quality cars. They have high expectations,” he said at Proton’s assembly plant west of Kuala Lumpur. “Let’s unite. Let’s work together in a sincere manner so that we can achieve profit for the company,” he said. Syed Zainal said some 60 per cent of defects in Proton cars were due to poor quality components from vendors, but admitted the rest of the blame fell on the firm’s workforce. “Today, we want to focus on rebuilding the company. The focus is putting Proton on a better footing, to improve quality, product and profit. We need to be prepared to compete globally,” he said. Syed Zainal said Proton had secured Government approval to give buyers the option of purchasing vehicles powered with natural gas. “It will be in all Proton cars by October. It is part of our plan to support the Government to reduce the dependency on oil,” he said. He insisted that despite the changing mood over energy consumption, Proton’s new MPV will be popular. “Proton needs the MPV model. People’s lifestyle has changed. The price will be affordable,” he said. Proton said in February it had made nit profits for two quarters in a row, thanks to lower operating costsaitd increased car sales. However, it still booked a net loss of 3192 million ringgit (10 million dollars) for the nine months to December, although it was smaller than the 590.448 million ringgit loss a year earlier. According to Syed Zainal, Proton had always emphasised quality control in all aspects of its operations but it was now drawing on lessons from the past toM ensure current levels of quality control were stepped up. “As we prepare our globalisation strategy, there is a need to strengthen quality control to meet international standards,” he said. “In this respect, Proton will work closely with all our vendors as 60 per cent of components come from them,” he said. Syed Zainal said Proton had recently established a monitoring system to identify defects on the production line to respond faster to problems of defective components. He said Proton was looking to further tap the markets in Asean, China, India and the Middle East. “The high number of bookings for the Persona and Saga to date is reflective of growing customer confidence with regards to Proton’s new commitment to quality,” he said. — AFP, Bernama