Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Tuesday 23rd Oct 2007 - Drain at Tambunan tamu clogged with garbage

The authorities have been urged ensure the drain at the Tambunan tamu is cleaned regularly, and also to provide enough facilities, especially bins, for the public to discard rubbish.

Jane, who works in Tambunan town, said the drain at the tamu is clogged with garbage due to unchecked littering.

She said she is saddened to see people treating the tamu as a jumping ground and it is even more disappointing to note that the authorities have not taken any steps to clean up the area although it is a tourist attraction.

Besides, there are hardly any garbage bins at the tamu, and this apparently encourage people to litter, she said.

“The facilities for disposing of rubbish in the area are not sufficient and the litterbugs are just not bothered about the need to seek alternative ways to discard their rubbish,” she said.

“The problem can only be overcome if the relevant authorities take the necessary action against the litterbugs as well, as providing garbage bins,” she said, adding that she has personally seen people throwing rubbish into the drains.

Jane said the tamu is actually very popular among tourists and the failure to keep it clean will tarnish Sabah’s image, especially as this year is Visit Malaysia Year.

According to her, there was one occasion when she nearly fell when slipping on plastic bags that contained food waste on the ground.

“The problem has been ignored for some time and nothing seems to have been done to resolve it. We want to see the authorities concerned to do a better job in maintaining the cleanliness of the area,” she added.

Tuesday 23rd Oct 2007 - Help at last for mum with six children

KOTA KINABALU: The sad story of a single mother who attempted suicide two years ago has finally captured the attention of caring people and organizations who wish to lend a helping hand after her plight was reported by the media recently.

Noriah Massrin, a single mother from Kampung Kalansanan, was left to endure abject poverty with her six children, now aged 13-23, after her husband abandoned the family a long time ago.

The difficulties in providing for her three daughters and three sons have left the 47-year-old single mother physically and mentally drained.

The pains, especially with rumors of her husband having remarried, proved too hard to bear and drove to the edge about two years ago when she poured gasoline on her body and set herself on fire.

But her plight went unnoticed until the story of her 18-year-old son was reported the first day of Hari Raya.

The story of Shafie Ramlee, who could not even remember the last time he had a real Raya celebration, struck the heart of many, including community leaders and politicians who came forward to help the family.

“It is very seldom that we get Raya treats, what more new clothing like any other children in our neighborhood. We would just observe the morning Raya prayers and stay at home for the rest of the day... there are no decorations, no Raya cookies, nothing,” said Shafie when met at their dilapidated wooden house in Kampung Kalafisanan, Inanam, some 12 kilometers from here.

However, the young lad never succumbed to self-pity, and is in fact determined to bring about changes for the better for his family.

Currently,.the Lower Six student of Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Inanam hopes to be a teacher one day to help bring his family out of poverty.

“My mother hallucinates a lot, we will catch her talking to herself all the time ... she was so depressed when our father left,” he said.

“Her condition worsened and one day, she went to the kitchen and burned herself in an attempt to end her life. Luckily, we were all at home and managed to put out the fire,” Shafie said.

Noriah was rushed to the hospital and was warded for a month after suffering 80 per cent burnt on her hands and body.

Their burden got lighter after Shaffe’s elder sisters, Siti Nooraishah, 23, who is married with a son, and Siti Norasitah, 22, started working.

However, due to financial problem, Shafie younger siblings, Shafiq, 16, and Siti Norafikah, 15, had to stop schooling while the youngest Nor Arif, 13, never has any education.

Yesterday, Karambunai Assemblywoman Jainab Ahmad who was both shocked and touched by the story visited the family and presented some Duit Raya, food and drinks.

Jainab, who is also the Industrial Development Assistant Minister pledged to help the family to improve their life and had already asked the People -Development Officer (PKR) in the area to discuss with relevant organisations to find ways to ease the family’s burden.

She said apart from ensuring that Shafie and his younger siblings can continue their studies, effort will be made to seek assistance from various agencies to ensure Noriah’s family will get whatever assistance they need.

Next week, Jainab and her PKR will organise and finance a gotong royong to repair Noriah’s house.

More donation will be gathered and handed to Noriah next week, she added.

Jainab also urged all village head and JKKK chairman to ensure no more families like Noriah’s in their areas are left out without any assistance.

“Work together with relevant ministry and agencies so that no— one who really need help are left out,” she said.

Tuesday 23rd Oct 2007 - 790,000 voters in updated Sabah electoral rolls: EC

KOTA KINABALU: Any discrepancies or complaints regarding the State electoral rolls should be raised directly with the Election Commission (EC), said its State Director Hj Idrus Ismail.

He said the EC would not be aware if any problems such as missing names on the rolls unless the affected parties notify them.

“If it is true that there are names missing, then come to us and let us know,” he said when contacted yesterday.

Idrus was asked to comment on a recent claim by Kalabakan Wanita Umno chief Datuk Hjh Hamisah Samat that the names of about 15 percent of women voters in the area were not included in the current electoral rolls.

She said these people had voted in the previous general elections in 2004, and she hoped steps would be taken to reinstate their names in time for the coming elections.

Idrus said that citizens who have yet to register as voters are free to do so with the EC at any time but they may not be considered as voters in the next election and this depends on when the Parliament is going to be dissolved.

“Citizens who registered in the first and second quarters are pretty much confirmed on the list and it is quite likely those who registered in the third quarter this year will also be included,” he said.

“We don’t know however if those who register in the fourth quarter will be included because we close the registration for the fourth quarter on Dec 31.

“After that we will need time to go through everything, so if, for example, Parliament is dissolved in February next year, then those who registered in the fourth quarter won’t be included (in the electoral rolls),” he said.

Idrus said to date, Sabah has about 790,000 voters registered in the 60 State and 25 Parliamentary constituencies.

Meanwhile, starting from today until Oct 29, the public can go to the EC office at Putrajaya here to check the State electoral rolls that are updated to the third quarter this year.

“This is the time that citizens can come and check the electoral rolls with us before we endorse the list for the third quarter,” Idrus said.

He added that voters can alternatively check their status on the electoral rolls by visiting the EC website at www.daftarj.spr.gov.my.

Tuesday 23rd Oct 2007 - Let Native Courts verify Sino status

TUARAN: United Sabah Dusun Association (USDA) has urged the State Government to lift the freeze on the issuance of Native Certificate with immediate effect.

Its President, Datuk Kalakau Untol, said that apart from the State Native Affairs Council, the Native Courts should also be empowered to verify the status of those with “Sino” status who are applying for the certificate.

“The Native Courts are also conversant with the status of people from the Sino communities and should therefore be empowered to verify the status of the Sino,” he said yesterday.

Kalakau said USDA fully supports the statement made by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, who is also UPKO President, that the people from the Sino-KDM (Kadazandusun and Murut) communities have the right to be accorded the Bumiputera status.

Kalakau said the system has already been in place well before the formation of Malaysia in 1963.

“Inter-marriages between the KDM and the Chinese communities are common in Sabah,” he said.

Tuesday 23rd Oct 2007 - District Chief lodges report over forged Native Cert

KOTA KINABALU: District Chief OKK William Majimbun yesterday lodged a police report over the forgery of his signature on a state native certificate and also a verification letter.

In his report, William urged the police to carry out investigation on a man, whom he claimed had forged his signature on the native certificate and verification letter to declare the latter as a native.

“On October 6 this year, I received a letter by fax from the Lahad Datu Land and Survey Department to verify my signature on a document dated September 25, 2007.

“The letter was a copy of verification of native certificate on the person. After inspecting the letter, I found that the letter was not issued by us and the signature was forged by an irresponsible person,” he said.

William was accompanied by another District Chief, OKK Atoh Juali, and State Native Chief, Jali Madlih, in making the report, yesterday.

He hope that the police would investigate the matter thoroughly.

The case has been referred to the Commercial Crime Department for further action.

Tuesday 23rd Oct 2007 - Sabah to get tough with errant civil servants too, says CM

KOTA KINABALU: The State Government backs the Chief Secretary Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan’s statement that firm action will be taken against the civil servants involved in disciplinary problem.

Musa said such a move should be welcomed as it is the right measure to improve the quality of public services and the State Government will consider adopting the approach.

“We will discuss the matter in the Cabinet and most likely the State Government would consider using the same approach,” he told reporters after attending the City Hall Hari Raya Open House at Kota Kinabalu Community Hall here yesterday afternoon.

Tan Sri Mohd Sidek earlier this month vowed to take tough measures, including court and disciplinary action, against government officers responsible for malpractices and corrupt practices as highlighted in the Auditor-General’s 2006 Report and other reports and investigations.

Mohd Sidek said the disciplinary action includes demotion, transfers and non-confirmation.

These measures are not just limited to those implicated in the A-G’s Report but also civil servants found guilty of other disciplinary matters and dereliction of duties, he added.

On Consumers Association of Sabah and Labuan (CASH) President Datuk Patrick Sindu’s recent statement that the association would conduct a survey on the performance of elected representatives in the State, the Chief Minister said CASH should focus on their role to solve consumer problems and not matters that are not within their jurisdiction.

Sindu said CASH sought to assess how the Sabah elected representatives, both Members of Parliament and Assemblymen, had been performing since the 2004 general election and the findings will be submitted to the Prime Minister. He said the survey would be conducted after the Han Raya holidays and CASH had already identified a list consumers from the grassroots to gather the feedback from.

“It is outside their jurisdiction,” said Musa.

Tuesday 23rd Oct 2007 - Customs to publish names of 100 Sabah firms over unpaid taxes

KOTA KINABALU: It is blacklisting for errant companies that fail to settle their outstanding taxes with the Royal Customs Department here.

Its Sabah Director, Yusop Mansor, in issuing the stern reminder yesterday said over 100 companies in Sabah owe the Department some RM6 million in unpaid taxes, mostly from sales and services, including some dating three years back.

“These errant companies include manufacturers, service license holders such as restaurants, hotels and workshops. We have issued to them the first notice; this serves as a reminder and if they still refuse to pay, our last resort would be to publish their names in the papers,” he stressed.

He said they have exhausted all efforts to remind the errant companies of their obligations, and they hope that the revelation of their names in the papers would bring these people forward to settle their dues.

“We do not intend to bring shame to these people, but instead show them how serious we are in collecting taxes, which in fact is part of our core business apart from curbing smuggling activities,” he said.

He said the notices will be published three days in a row, and after a grace period, and still no response, the Customs Department would seek assistance from the Immigration Department to make sure these errant individuals stay in Sabah while pursuing criminal or civil charges against them.

“I have been given the mandate to do so by our Director General (Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Abdul Hamid). We can allow them to pay their dues in installments up to 36 months; we are willing to give them time but they must settle the dues,” he told reporters after witnessing the handing over of duties between outgoing Customs Deputy Director I (Prevention), Md Zanul Rashid Junuh, to incoming acting Janathan Kandok, at their headquarters, here.

Yusop said that over the years, they have blacklisted at least 30 companies, involving over 90 individuals, for failing to settle their outstanding taxes.

On another development, Yusop said investigation is continuing on the seven four-wheel drive vehicles, which were smuggled into the State last month.

“There were 10 vehicles brought into Sabah, and initial investigation revealed that all of them had the approved permits (APs) for import of vehicles. It is considered as fraud as they had not stated the actual value of the cars,” he said.

Yusop said the vehicles were stated to be between one and five years old, but investigation showed that the cars were less than a year old. We have reevaluated the value and collected an additional of RM179,000 from three of the cars, while investigation is still being carried out on the remaining seven vehicles,” he said.

Meanwhile, Yusop noted that the Department performed better this year as their collected revenue showed an increase of RM58 million in the first ten months, compared to similar period last year.

As of October 21, they have collected RM229 millions in revenue.

“We are confident that we will be able to reach our target of RM264 million by the end of this year. In fact, by the phase we are going, we could collect probably up to RM290 million by year end.

“We would like to remind all business operators to pay their taxes, and that our men will be on a lookout at all times to curb smuggling activities,” he said.

Tuesday 23rd Oct 2007 - HIGHER EPF DIVIDEND

Buoyed by robust stock market. Fund to pay over 5.15pc this year: CEO

KUALA LUMPUR: The Employees Provident Fund (EPF) will pay a higher dividend this year than last year’s 5.15 per cent, thanks to the robust equities market, its chief executive officer, Datuk Azlan Zainol, said yesterday.

“We have confidence that we will be paying slightly more this year than last year as the stock market has been good and we have done reasonably well in our investment in the equities market,” he told reporters

The EPF is expected to announce the 2007 dividend early next year.

Asked on the exact dividends to be paid out, he said: “I cannot pre-empt the decision of the board, the panel as well as the Ministry of Finance.”

The EPF has been consistently paying out higher dividends over the past five years.

Azlan also said that the state pension fund chalked up a higher income this year than in 2006.

EPF’s combined investments both locally and overseas are worth RM300 billion, of which overseas investments account for US$2 billion, which he said was “small”.

Tuesday 23rd Oct 2007 - Malaysia’ cheers historic space odyssey as astronaut returns to Earth

KUALA LUMPUR: The return of Malaysia’s first ever astronaut from space was hailed by the deputy premier as a historic moment that made his countrymen “stand a few inches taller,” reports said Monday.

Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, a 35- year-old doctor and part-time model, returned to Earth on Sunday at 1043 GMT after 11 days in space.

Muszaphar and two Russian cosmonauts touched down safely in Kazakhstan but 200 kilometers (120 miles) off-target in a rare and unexplained ‘ballistic landing’ by the Soyuz craft.

Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak followed the landing from the Russian mission control centre in Moscow.

“This is a very momentous and historic occasion for Malaysia. It will go down in the annals of our history because this is a first for Malaysia in Space and he has returned safely” Najib said.

Muszapbar, whose parents were among the cheering Malaysian contingent at mission control, spoke to his father over a borrowed mobile phone.

Abah (father in the Malay language), it’s Mus. I’m back safe and sound. Everything’s fine,” his father, Sheikh Mustapha Abdul Shukor, recounted to the paper.

Muszaphar was chosen from thousands of hopefuls in a nationwide competition that generated tremendous excitement in Malaysia.

Malaysian leaders see the space flight as a milestone for the country, which is marking a half-century of independence from British colonial rule, and are mulling sending another citizen into space.

Najib said the government has until the end of 2009 to decide if it wants to accept an offer from the Russian Space Agency for another Malaysian to journey to the International Space Station (ISS) in late 2010 or early 2011.

Muszaphar’s trip was part of a billion-dollar purchase of 18 Sukhoi 30-MKM fighter jets from Russia but Najib said a second space mission will involve direct financing.

“Since the next expedition would involve public funds, the government would have to convince the public of the need of the mission,” Najib said.

The Malaysian astronaut trained for over a year at Moscow’s Star City before he left for the mission on October 10 with American Peggy Whitson, the new commander on the ISS, and a Russian Yuri Malenchenko.

Muszaphar, a practising Muslim, celebrated the end of the holy month space. of Ramadan at the space station and carried out experiments for Malaysia’s Genome Institute.