Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Tuesday 6th Nov 2007 - NPC to hold 60 courses in Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: The National Productivity Corporation (NPC) Sabah will be organising 60
Productivity and Quality (P&Q) Enhancement training courses in the State next year.
Its Director Datuk Nik Zainiah Nik Abdul Rahman said several new courses would be introduced in 2008 such as HACCP Implementation, Security, Taxation, Lead Auditor For ISO 9001:2000 EMS 14000 and the GMP & Halal Certification.

Until October this year, she said, the NPC had organised 73 similar training courses involving 1,506 people. Nik Zainiah was speaking to reporters during the NPC Hari Raya open house here yesterday.

In 2006, she said, the NPC conducted 77 training courses which benefited 1,095 people.

Nik Zainiah also said that the NPC is planning to implement P&Q programme for the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) during the current Ninth Malaysia Plan.

“This is in line with the Government’s efforts of developing the SME sector as one of the main contributors to the country’s economy,” she added.

Tuesday 6th Nov 2007 - Seminar on uses of radio identification technology

KOTA KINABALU: A half-day seminar on the uses and benefits of deploying radio frequency identification (RFID) technology for public and private sectors will be held at the Beverly Hotel here on November 20. Entitled “RFID Technology for Business: Potential Uses, Benefits and Opportunities”, the seminar is organised by IDS Infotech Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of the Institute for Development Studies (Sabah).

IDS Infotech Managing Director Datuk Dr Mohd Yaakub Haji Johari in a statement said RFID is gaining growing interest, awareness and importance today.

“It is increasingly being deployed for many applications worldwide because of its immense benefits of being able to identify, track and manage goods seamlessly and effectively, in particular in supply chain management,” he said.

Mohd Yaakub said the use of RFID technology in a supply chain allows effective tracking and tracing of goods and products of different forms and sizes.

“Thus, the technology is being deployed in many areas such as in inventory/asset control and monitoring, access and security management, retail line management, health care, food traceability, and customer service.”

Mohd Yaakub noted that Malaysia was among the leading RFID user countries in the world. RFID technology, he said, was first in introduced in Malaysia in 1997 in the Touch ‘n’ Go System - Malaysia electronic toll payment system. Subsequently, in the following year, Immigration Department Malaysia used RFID for passport issuance, he said, adding, “In fact, Malaysia is the first country to implement electronic passport (e-passport),” he added. He said the adoption of REID technology in the country has increased ever since and it is also used by the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs in evidence management.

Mohd Yaakub said the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment was also reportedly contemplating to use RFID technology to address the problem of timber theft in certain states.

“Furthermore, an RFID system that will improve the management of blood banks is undergoing testing by local medical institutions,” he added.

Mohd Yaakub said the upcoming seminar will be conducted by two RFID specialists from Peninsular Malaysia who have substantial expertise and experience in RFID business including business development, project management, RFID centre operations, training and consulting.
The RFID industry in Malaysia was given a further boost with the launching of the Malaysia Microchip (MM) by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Identification (RFID) microchip with a built-in antenna, which took two years to develop under the Malaysia Microchip(MM)Project.

“With the availability of the multi-band MM chip locally, it adoption is expected to increase further,” said Mohd Yaakub.

He said participants will learn, among other things, how RFID can benefit retailers, manufacturers, distributors, suppliers logistics and service providers. As part of the seminar, a display cum demonstration of RFID equipment will be held. The seminar is particularly useful for IT managers and executives, systems engineers, software/applications engineers, systems integrators, manufacturers, suppliers, retailers, logistics/operation/transport managers, and those who are interested in the emerging RFID technology. For further information about the seminar and registration, please contact Ms Ooi or Ms Veronica at telephone number 246166 or 246167.

Tuesday 6th Nov 2007 - Govt agencies need complaints mechanism

KOTA KINABALU: There is a need for the Government to establish a mechanism for its agencies to bring forward their problems for evaluation and correction, said Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) vice chancellor Tan Sri Dr Nordin Kardi.

He said there are certain situations where the level of service offered by an agency would depend on support and assistance from other agencies.

“At the moment there is no avenue for Government agencies to make complaints against other agencies. The Government needs to create a mechanism where problems faced by an agency can be raised with a mediator agency,” he said.

Nordin said this in his speech at the launch of the 5th Workshop on Financial Management for Statutory Bodies, officiated by Resource Development and Information Technology Minister Datuk Dr Yee Moh Chai on behalf of Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman at the Promenade Hotel here, yesterday.

He noted that civil servants must at the same time strive to improve their performance and commitment in line with various changes implemented in the structure, system and procedures to improve the service delivery of Government departments.

“While there are various new efforts that have been introduced, there is still room to improve the performance and commitment of civil servants so they become enablers and not disablers in the achievements of Government development programmes,” he said. Nordin proposed for formal and informal training to be made compulsory for civil servants, as commonly practiced by professional bodies.

He said this would make it the staff’s responsibility to achieve the required number of CPD hours for a post unlike the current situation where the employer is left with the responsibility of planning courses for their staff to attend.

Meanwhile, Musa, in his speech delivered by Yee, said that financial management is an important aspect as it is tied in with the Government’s strategy to spur the country’s economic development.

“Government agencies need planning to ensure all projects under the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP) can be implemented according to plan and the cash flow for the implementation of these projects will speed up economic development,” he said.

Musa also urged Government agencies to improve themselves in view of the recently-announced Audit Rating System (ARAS), which will rank agencies after audit on an accountability index.

“We hope this will encourage each department and agency to pay more serious attention to the financial management and an organised, neat-and updated administration,” he said.

The twice-yearly workshop is organised by UUM’s treasury department and supported by the State Government.

Tuesday 6th Nov 2007 - ICT a new challenge for civil servants: State Sec

KOTA KINABALU: The various changes that have come with the development of Information Communication Technology (ICT) have become a new challenge for the civil servants in providing efficient services to the public, said State Secretary Datuk Sukarti Wakiman.

As such, he said, civil servants, the senior officers in particular, need to constantly enhance their ICT knowledge and skills to meet the requirements of not only the local people but the global community.

Sukarti made the call when opening the ICT Sabah 2007 seminar which was organised by the INTAN Sabah Branch.

Also present were INTAN Saban chief Muhammad Mentek, State Computer Services Department Director Dr Minggu Haji Jumaan: and State IT Development Unit Director Bruno Vun.

Sukarti also advised civil servants to be responsive to the ever increasing needs and expectations of the public for efficient and quality services.

Meanwhile, Mohammad Mentek said various efforts would be taken in increasing the access of ICT in the country.

He said the usage and application of ICT has been encouraged among the people in their daily life.

The theme of the seminar was “Enhancing the ICT Competency Towards Excellence Delivery System”.

Tuesday 6th Nov 2007 - West Coast are overall champions

KOTA KINABALU: West Coast were crowned the overall champions in the State-level Community Sports League 2007 competition held in Likas from Nov 3-4.

Four sports - badminton, sepak takraw, volleyball and futsal – were held in the Malaysia Youth and Sports Ministry-organised event in association with the State Youth and Sports Ministry and Sabah Federal Youth and Sports Department. The teams were representing Tawau, Sandakan, Keningau, Kudat and West Coast which sent their A and B squads.

West Coast A, who were represented by the Pantai Manis State Constituency won the badminton event while the other title was won by the West Coast team represented by Api-Api Constituency in futsal event.

Sulabayan Constituency, representing Tawau, won the volleyball competition while Sekong Constituency of Sandakan took the honour in the sepak takraw event.

Sabah Federal Youth and Sports Department Director Haji Hashim Sintol said during the closing ceremony that the programme attracted participation from all 60 State constituencies.

Among the objectives of the Community Sports League, which was launched by the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Aug 6, 2006, is to promote sports culture among the community apart from unearthing talents.

The champions in the respective categories walked home with RM1,000, followed by RM700, RM500 and RM300 for the second to third-placed teams. The teams also won trophies and medals.

Tuesday 6th Nov 2007 - Judgment-writing course for Sabah, S’wak judges

KOTA KINABALU: Judges from Sabah and Sarawak are going back to school for two days from yesterday to learn how to write judgments that all parties can understand.

James C Raymond, Prof Emeritus of the University of Alabama, who is conducting the course, said judges all over the world had problem writing judgments because it was not taught in law school.

“Law schools are only to groom would-be lawyers, not judges. Therefore, judges present their judgments using jargon that only those familiar with the law could understand.

“What the course is trying to do here is to help judges write judgments using words and phrases that would be easy for people to understand the judges’ reasonings in court hearings,” Raymond told reporters after the first session of the course organised by the Judicial and Legal Training Institute. Raymond said court hearings had a complex audience which included members of the press and people who either knew or knew nothing about the case. Therefore, it was crucial that judgments avoid ambiguity of the legal language and be presented using the simplest of words, he said.

Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum said it was difficult to determine the quality of judgments as each judge had his own way of writing judgments.

‘Judgment-writing is an art whereby judges determine how to present their reasonings. However, continuous training is needed so that judges can better serve the people and uphold justice,” he said.

Seventeen high court and sessions court judges are attending the course, the first of its kind in Malaysia.

Tuesday 6th Nov 2007 - 100 KKIP factory workers protest non-payment of wages

KOTA KINABALU: More than 100 workers of a plastic bag factory in Kota Kinabalu Industrial Park, near here, yesterday held a demonstration over unpaid salaries.

The workers gathered outside the factory to show their anger and disappointment with a banner reading ‘Kami mau gaji kami!’ (We want our salaries!), claiming that their employer had failed to pay their last month’s wages.

They said the factory’s management had also forced them to take a two-month unpaid leave following some financial problems late last month.

“We were told to stop working on Oct 24 after the electricity supply to the factory was disconnected. No proper explanation was given to us. We were just told to take unpaid leave and that there was no money to pay our wages,” said one of the workers, Lilitia.

The 26-year-old woman said she had just started working for the factory early last month and has not even received her first salary.

“This is not fair. They cannot simply refuse to pay our salaries and force us to take unpaid leave. We are from poor families and we have to support ourselves,” said the young mother who joined the protest with her five-year-old daughter.

Another employee who introduced herself as Ayang, 46, said the employer should be more responsible and considerate towards the workers.

“If they are facing problems and about to close down, they should pay us some sort of compensation or retrenchment benefit,” she said.

Ayang, who has been working at the factory since early this year, said they usually received their salary on the fifth day of every month and as usual they went to the administration office to claim their pay yesterday.

However, they were shocked when the management told them that there was no money for them this time, she said.

An officer from the company, who spoke on condition of anonymity, admitted that the were facing problems paying operational expenses and the electricity was cut off last month after the board of directors stopped approving cheque for the purpose.

The officer said the company, which is a joint-venture with a Government-linked company and financed by Taiwanese investors, has four directors, one of whom oversaw the operation of the factory.

“Any payment of more than RM1,000 required the joint approval of the other three directors. But for some reason, they have stopped signing cheque for us. So we don’ have money to pay the electricity as well as the salaries,” said the officer.

He said the director at the factory has limited power and has yet to decide on any mitigation measure or whether to continue operation.

“The board of directors will be meeting soon. We certainly hope this can be resolved as soon as possible,” he said.

Meanwhile, it was revealed that the factory is operated by Kinabalu Polybag Sdn Bhd (KPB), which is jointly owned by Perkasa Trading Sdn Bhd (PTSB),a Government-owned trading company that holds a 49 per cent stake, a Taiwanese investor Mr Yang Kai Hsiung (46 per cent) and a woman who has a five per cent stake.

According to Yang, PTSB is also the sole marketing agent of the poly-bags produced by the KPB, and the supplier of the main raw material, resin, to KPB.

Apart from him, he said, the three other directors of KPB are Penampang Member of Parliament Donald Peter Mojuntin, who is Chairman of Perkasa Trading Sdn Bhd; Maisuri Bin Besri, who is also the Group General Manager of Sabah Economic Development Corporation and Joseph Wong Chen Hee, General Manager of Perkasa Trading Sdn Bhd.

The managing directors of KPB are Donald, Maisuri and Joseph, he said yesterday, adding that he could sign cheque for up to RM1,000 only.

According to Yang, disputes arose concerning payment of sales tax between the shareholders as a result of which, the three managing directors refused to sign any cheques of KPB.

He said this had somewhat resulted in non-payment of electricity bills and disconnection of electricity supply to the factory, which was forced to cease operation on Oct 25.

The managing directors also refused to sign any cheque for payment of salaries to more than 100 employees.

Yesterday, when the employees pressed him for payment of their salaries, Yang said that Joseph Wong was on leave for a week and Maisuri was on outstation duties for a week, while Donald could not be reached.

The workers have contacted Assistant Industrial Development Minister Jainab Ahmad, who is also the Karambunai Assemblywoman, for help, later in the evening, he added.

Tuesday 6th Nov 2007 - Fishing boat crew held for bid to smuggle eight illegals

KOTA KINABALU: The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency detained a fishing boat skipper and two other crew along with eight illegal immigrants they were suspected of trying to smuggle into the country.

The Agency Operation Director for Sabah and Labuan, Captain Mohd Amir Hamzah yesterday said the illegal immigrants are Filipinos, who include a 10 months old girl.

All the suspects would be charged under the Immigration Act in the court after investigations
have been completed, he said.

Mohd Amir said the boat skipper is a 28-year-old local man, while the two crew are Filipinos,
aged 25 and 22.

He said the three men were arrested together with their eight passengers on board the boat in the waters near Usukan Island, off Kota Belud two days ago.

The foreigners were found hiding in the cargo hold of the boat, said Mohd Amir, adding that
they did not hold any valid travel document.

He said the fishing boat was heading towards the main land when it was intercepted by the Agency’s patrol boat skippered by Lt Mohd Zulfadi Nayan. There were eight fellow personnel on board.

Tuesday 6th Nov 2007 - 100 AIDS deaths in Sabah

Over 700 HIV, 238 AIDS cases reported in two decades since 1986: Director
PENAMPANG: More than 700 HIV and 238 AIDS cases, including 100 deaths, were reported in Sabah as at July this year, State Health Director Datuk Dr Rahimah Mohd Said said.

Speaking at the launch of state-level “World AIDS Day” here yesterday, Rahimah said the cases were recorded from 1986 when the first HIV/AIDS case was reported.

According to her, there were 42 HIV cases and seven AIDS cases reported in Penampang district until September this year, including five fatalities.

Rahimah said 85.4 percent of those infected with HIV/AIDS in Sabah got it through heterosexual relationships while only two percent were from homosexual relationships.

She said four percent of those infected were drug addicts who had shared needles, while the rest got it through other means.

“The statistics showed that Sabahans are more exposed to HIV/AIDS infection via heterosexual relationships,” she said.

Nationwide, Rahimah said, a total of 78,784 HIV cases and 13,121 AIDS cases were reported from 1986 to June this year, and these included 9,586 deaths.

“In the two decades since the first case was reported, the increasing, number of cases is alarming and the ‘Government, in realizing the threat and risk the country faces, has implemented several programmes to curb the number of new cases,” she said.

Among the programmes were tests on expectant mothers since 1998, the Anonymous Voluntary Test since 2003 as well as making it compulsory since 1998 for those diagnosed with sexually transmitted diseases (STD) and tuberculosis (TB) to undergo HIV tests.

The Health Department is also continuing its educational and awareness programmes with the hope that more people will realize the dangers of HIV/AIDS and take the necessary steps to avoid being infected.

Meanwhile, Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister Datuk Edward Khoo, who officiated at the launching ceremony, stressed the need for the community to disseminate information about the dangers of HIV/AIDS.

“Parents have an important role to play in not only educating their children about the threat but also making them understand that HIV/AIDS can lead to death,” he said.

“They must make sure their children know well enough to stay away from HIV/AIDS related risks.

“I am sure that if we work closely and support each other, we can keep a check on the spread of HIV/AIDS in the state and country,” he said.