Friday, November 2, 2007

Friday 2nd Nov 2007 - Bus passenger, driver robbed

Four men stop bus and relieve victims of phone, wallet

TAWAU: Four unidentified men stopped a bus at Mile 4 Apas Road on Wednesday and robbed a passenger of a cellphone and the driver’s wallet.

Acting District Police Chief Superintendent Hj Ramli Ali Mat said the bus driver in his 30s was travelling from the town to Mile 5 Apas at 7.30pm. There were five passengers on board the bus.

“When they reached Mile 4, four men stopped the bus and boarded it. They pointed a knife at one of the passengers and took the cellphone before alighting,” he said.

Ramli said after the four suspects had gone, the driver realized his wallet which he placed on the dashboard was missing along with his MyKad and driving licenses. In another incident, a man in his 50s reported a theft at his workshop in Kampung Titingan.

Ramli said the man went to the workshop about 8. 3Opm on Wednesday and found three boxes of welding rods, an Italy-made grinder and Italy-made electric hand-drill, drill bit, air filter equipment, several menthols and two sets of spanners missing. The victim estimated his losses at RM7,000.

Ramli said the police had questioned the workers of the workshop and had yet to make any arrest.

Friday 2nd Nov 2007 - Bridge project to benefit 7,000 islanders

KOTA KINABALU: The 7,000 people living on Lthak-Lihak island in Semporna will be able to travel faster to the mainland once construction of a RM30 million bridge is completed.

Bugaya Assemblyman Datuk Basalie Abdul Hamid said the bridge project, which started early last month, would enable locals on the island to transport their commodities to Semporna town faster.

At the moment, they have to use boats which would take them about two hours.

For 40 years, the islanders have problem transporting their commodities to the mainland, especially during rainy season or low tide, thus hampering our effort to eradicate poverty.

“They are also in a dilemma, especially when sending sick patients or women in labour to the district hospital. Everything will be settled once the bridge is up,” he said.

Basalie said the Lihak-Lihak villagers were blessed with economic development from the Federal Government through the rubber planting project by Feldra Berhad and the Sabah Rubber Industry Board (LIGS).

The Lihak-Lihak bridge is one of the two projects to link Semporna to the nearby islands. The other bridge is at Bum-Bum Island under the Sulabayan constituency.

Lihak-Lihak is the only island under the Bugaya constituency while Sulabayan has others such as the Sipadan and Mabul, known to many divers for their beautiful underwater world, and Ligitan.

The Sabah Barisan Nasional executive secretary also said the people were also provided with asphalt roads, electricity, water and telephone lines.

Basalie, who is also the Kota Kinabalu Industrial Park Sdn Bhd chairman, added 70 per cent of the Bugaya
constituency is enjoying clean water supply while the rest of the area will receive the facility soon.

Apart from the district library, a marine police post and court, schools are also provided.

“We have homestay and handicraft industry to lure people to come and visit us in Bugaya,’ he said.

Friday 2nd Nov 2007 - Six children return after successful heart surgeries

KOTA KINABALU: Six of the 16 children suffering from congenital heart defect (CHD) have returned home after undergoing successful heart surgeries in South Korea.

The healthy-looking children, aged one to eight, arrived with their parents at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport just after midnight Wednesday, some three weeks after they left for the operations.

They were in the first group of eight patients who flew to South Korea on Oct 10 for the surgeries and treatment programme at Bucheon Sejong Hospital in Seoul.

All their expenses, including travel and accommodation cost, were borne by several Korean charity bodies who carried out the Heart Treatment for Children project in collaboration with a number of local organisations.

The remaining children are scheduled to return next week after their recovery procedure is fully completed.

All selected patients were from poor families who were on the Institute Jantung Negara (IJN) waiting list.

The Seoul hospital carrying out the operations is well known for opening its door to a healthier life for poor patients.

Affecting approximately one in every 125 babies born, congenital heart defect is the most common birth defect. Forty thousand people are born each year with CHD and 4,000 will not survive their first year.

Present to receive the children at the airport were Community Development and Consumer Affairs Assistant Minister Jornah Mozihim, SOS Heart Fund Secretary Eva Susau, Korea Food for the Hungry International representative to Malaysia Simon Lee, Sabah Agape Counselling Association president Louis Yong and members of the Lions Club of KK Damai.

Friday 2nd Nov 2007 - Sabah almost make clean sweep of golds

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah dominated the competition as they swept seven gold medals at the PKM-MSN-PSM East Malaysia Zone Sepak Takraw Championship 2007 at the Kota Kinabalu Sports Complex multipurpose hail.

The host contingent over-powered their opponents in all the team and doubles events in the 11, 14 and 16 years old categories while their seventh gold medal came from the regu event of the Under-11 years old category.

Sabah missed out on only two gold medals in the four-day event which ended yesterday, with Sarawak adding some sparkle to their medal tally through the regu event for the 14 and 16 years old categories.

The Sarawakians also managed to haul in seven silver medals while FT Labuan ended their run with nine bronze medals.

State Education Department, Sabah Sports Board and the Sabah Sepak Takraw Association (Astaka) jointly organised the championship aimed at selecting the best regu to represent the East Malaysia Zone at the national championship.

The new competition format was introduced through a collaboration between the Ministry of Education, National Sports Council and the Malaysian Sepak Takraw Association (PSM).

State Education Department Human Development Sector head Md Nor Md Sharif, on behalf of State Education Director Normah Gagoh, presented the prizes during the closing ceremony yesterday.

Friday 2nd Nov 2007 - Firefly mulls flights from KK to BIMP-EAGA towns

KOTA KINABALU: Firefly, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Malaysia Airlines (MAS), is considering operating flights from Kota Kinabalu to major towns within the Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BMP-EAGA), said MAS managing director and Firefly chairman Datuk Idris Jala.

He said the Sabah Government has given its green light to make Kota Kinabalu as one of its hubs to operate a domestic and international network.

Idris said Firefly has ordered 10 Italian turboprop aircraft, a smaller aircraft capable of carrying 72 passengers in a move to expand its network.

“We have also made an option for another 10 turboprop aircraft and when they arrive gradually over the next five years, we can position some of the aircraft in Kota Kinabalu to cater for BIMP-EAGA sub-region,” he said.

“We cannot make money using jet but certainly turboprop maybe possible,” he told reporters after meeting Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun, here yesterday.

Friday 2nd Nov 2007 - Post offices now collect Yayasan loan payments

KOTA KINABALU: Graduates can now pay their Yayasan Sabah (YS) educational loans at 45 outlets of Pos Malaysia throughout Sabah.

To make payment even easier, students can also pay their loans from home or anywhere they want through Pos Malaysia’s online portal, PosOnline.

Yayasan Sabah and Pos Malaysia yesterday sealed a strategic partnership for the Integrated Collection System (ICS) which was made fully operational since Oct 1.

YS Deputy Director Dr Johan Ariffin said with ICS now in place, YS is targeting to collect a total of RM5 million in repayment of loans for this year, surpassing the initial target by one million ringgit. He said the target is achievable due to the increasing trend in amount collected shown this year. He noted that RM3.6 million had been collected as at October this year compared to RM3 million collected for the same period last year.

Group Managing Director cum Chief Executive Officer of Pos Malaysia Berhad, Datuk Idrose Mohamed, said the partnership with YS is part of their continuous efforts to explore various new services that can be offered through post offices as well as through PosOnline.

“We are honoured by this alliance with YS as it reflects on their trust and confidence in Pos Malaysia’s capacity and capability in managing payment of the Yayasan Sabah student loans at our post offices as well as through our online transaction portal.

“In addition to our network of post offices, our move to extend the convenience through cyberspace via PosOnline makes it possible for Pos Malaysia to reach out to students in both urban and rural areas, hence facilitating their payment of Yayasan Sabah loans in a more efficient manner,” he said.

The MoU was signed by the YS Deputy Director and Pos Malaysia Deputy General Manager Mearia Hamzah.

Friday 2nd Nov 2007 - Early warning system for landslide-prone areas including Sabah

KUALALUMPUR: The hill slope along Jalan Ranau-Tamparuli in Sabah is among areas that will be studied by experts in the Government’s efforts to resolve landslide problems.

Thirty slope stability and landslide experts are conducting a nationwide study to identify landslide-prone areas, said Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu.

He said they included engineers from the slope-engineering unit of the Public Works Department (PWD) who were equipped with the latest gadgets to monitor soil movements.

Samy Vellu said the study was expected to be ready by April next year and the Government was hopeful that it would help address slope-related problems in the country.

“When the master plan is ready, we’ll be having an early warning system at locations which are considered dangerous.. .to immediately alert the public of possible landslide hazards,” he told reporters after opening a seminar on landslide engineering organised by the department here yesterday.

Samy Vellu said PWD district engineers would closely monitor slopes during the rainy season and submit reports to the slope-engineering unit.

The unit, he said, was also conducting a detailed study of a 100sq km area in Hulu Kelang where several landslides have occurred in the past. It is to be completed by end-2008.

“The study will enable the Government to identify high-risk locations that should be closely monitored as well as areas deemed suitable for development activities,” he said.

Samy Vellu said that “critical” slopes such as the ones along Jalan Simpang Pulai-Lojing and Jalan Ranau-Tamparuli were being monitored for potential landslides.

Earlier, Samy Vellu said the Early Warning and Real-Time Monitoring System, a national landslide hazard monitoring and prediction system, had been put in place to assist the authorities in determining the nature of landslide hazards.

Friday 2nd Nov 2007 - No more reclamation except to enhance coastal areas

KOTA KINABALU: Future reclamation of Sabah’s coastline will only be allowed on grounds of enhancement or strengthening of the coastline, said Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjum.

He said that under the recently-approved Coastal Management Guideline, the State Government will disallow unnecessary land reclamation to protect the State’s environment and tourism industry.

“There is sufficient land in the State to support the population and development of industries. Land reclamation will affect the whole structure of our ecosystem and we want to avoid that,” he said.

Masidi was speaking to reporters after launching the Sabah National Capacity Needs Self-Assessment
(NCSA) Stakeholders Consultation Session on Biological Diversity, Climate Change and Land Degradation workshop at Hyatt Kinabalu here, yesterday.

He noted that it is imperative to protect the State’s coastline as it is among the main draws for foreign tourists here.

“A lot of tourists visiting here have commended us on our beautiful shoreline…if we allow land reclamation exercises to continue we will lose part of our attraction.”

Masidi said that so far only two land reclamation projects have been approved in Sabah, one each in the city and nearby Putatan, while housing projects that have been built on reclaimed land were implemented prior to the approval of the guideline.

He stressed that it is up to the local authorities in the State’s coastal areas to ensure the guideline is adhered to.

“The local authorities are the ones giving approval for projects. They must abide by the guideline...their duty is to enforce it,” he said.

Earlier in his speech when launching the two-day workshop, Masidi said the State Government has always been committed to sustainable management of Sabah’s environment and natural resources.

He said among the initiatives jointly-implemented by the State and Federal Governments include capacity building in administration and human resources in the Environmental Protection Department, monitoring of waste treatment from livestock and industrial activities and management of conservation areas such as the Maliau Basin and the Kilas Peat Swapm Forests.

Friday 2nd Nov 2007 - MAS, State Govt in joint effort to bring in more tourists from Japan

KOTA KINABALU: National carrier Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and the State Government, through the Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry, yesterday agreed on a collaborative effort to increase tourist arrivals from Japan.

The plan was agreed upon during a meeting between both parties, headed by Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun and MAS Managing Director Datuk Seri Idris Jala.

Masidi said the plan would be of mutual benefit for both the State tourism industry and MAS as Japanese visitors here are largely part of the up market segment of Sabah’s tourist demographic.

“Through this meeting we have reached some consensus to work together in vigorously bringing tourists to Sabah, especially from Japan,” he told a press conference after the meeting.

“This is a mutual agreement. Seat availability is not the only factor to consider. Perhaps there are also areas in marketing where we have yet to exhaust all possible avenues and MAS will help us in this area.

“We are very happy with this arrangement, it is not common for the MD himself to “turun padang” (go down to the field) to do the marketing,” Masidi said.

Idris explained that the collaboration would bring together representatives from both MAS and the State Government on promotional meetings with their Japanese counterparts from the highest to junior levels.

“In the airline industry we have what we call seat factor which averages at 70 percent (Japan flights). Based on this there is tremendous potential to fill up the plane,” he said.

“The first challenge is to fill in these seats and with proper marketing I am confident we can tap into this potential.

“We at MAS have high confidence in Sabah pulling in more tourists. I believe there are many great things that can be offered here and if marketed properly, I am sure the State can pull in more tourists,” he said, adding that there are currently four weekly direct flights from Japan, two each from Tokyo and Osaka.

Idris said MAS Wings has been progressing well since its relaunch on Oct 1 with “very positive” feedback from passengers in both Sabah and Sarawak, and expects to establish its full fleet of seven Fokker and five Twin Otter aircraft by Dec 1.

“Between now and Dec 1, we will progressively add aircraft until we get our full fleet. This will increase the total frequency of flights by around 200 additional flights a month,” he said. MAS Wings is currently operating with five Fokker and four Twin Otter planes.