Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Chemical Company of Malaysia Berhad (CCM Bhd), a company listed on the Main Board of Bursa Malaysia, has confirmed its entry into Sabah to build a fertilizer plant by 2009. Its subsidiary, CCM Agriculture (Sabah) Sdn Bhd, signed a purchase agreement with State-owned POIC Sabah Sdn Bhd yesterday for a 16.65-acre plot in the palm oil industrial cluster in Lahad Datu. Industrial Development Minister Datuk Dr Ewon Ebin witnessed the signing at POIC Sabah’s head office at the Sabah Trade Centre here led by the Chief Executive Officer of POIC Lahad Datu, Dr Pang Teck Wai, and CCM Agriculture director Haji Mohd Ali Sabri bin Mohd Ali Jaafar. Haji Mohd Ali Sabri is also the Chief Operating Officer of CCM Bhd. The land purchase price is about RM8 million and CCM Agriculture is expected to invest RM75 million in a fertilizer plant with an annual capacity of about 130,000 tonnes. Yesterday’s signing put the number of investors in POIC Lahad Datu at 16, three of which are major fertilizer companies. Other investors include those in biodiesel, logistics and bulking installations.
The combined investments these companies will bring into POIC Lahad Datu is more than RM1.2 billion. Two biodiesel plants in POIC Lahad Datu are in operation. They are the Australian-owned SPC Biodiesel Sdn Bhd and the Korean- controlled Global Biodiesel. Meanwhile, Dr Pang said the entry of a third fertilizer company in POIC Lahad Datu was proof of the confidence these companies have in the future of the Sabah oil industry and POIC Lahad Datu. According to him, Sabah imports about one million tonnes of fertilizers per year to feed its plantation and cash crop sector. The entry of the fertilizer companies would ensure that the Sabah consumers do not have to pay the costly shipping. This is especially significant in view of the impending rise in transportation charges caused by the sharp rise in petroleum prices. The CCM Bhd Group is Malaysia’s largest chemicals, fertilizers and health care companies specializing in chemical products and applications, fertilizers and technical advisory services, pharmaceutical and healthcare products.


Seven village roads not built due to lack of allocation THE lack of government allocation has been cited as the reason for the failure to build at least seven roads in villages within the Moyog area in Penampang. Moyog assemblyman Philip Lasimbang, who told the State Assembly sitting this yesterday was however asked to provide the Infrastructure Development Ministry with the list of the roads that have not been given government allocation. Infrastructure Development Minister Datuk Raymond Tan Shu Kiah said his Ministry will look into the matter and give due consideration to the request for allocation. “Please submit to us the list of roads and we will study and provide the necessary allocation if there is a need to do so,” said Tan. Earlier, Lasimbang asked whether the State Government was considering to take steps to overcome the overlapping of power between the State and Federal Government in the upgrading of State roads. In reply, Assistant Infrastructure Development Minister Datuk Aklee Abbas asked Lasimbang to explain what he meant. “If it means overlapping responsibilities among the State Government departments/agencies and their counterparts in the Federal Government, then it does not exist as far as our Ministry is concerned,” said Aklee.


CityHall is introducing Toilet “Star Rating” at food premises in the City in its effort to continue upgrading and improving toilet cleanliness. Grading of toilets would he carried out by City Hall and the Quality Restroom Association Malaysia (QRAM) Sabah Chapter and those qualified will given “Star Rating” to hang on at their toilet door. City Hall is the first local authority in the country to introduce the Star Rating for toilets at food premises, which is separate from the existing grading system on food premises. Mayor Datuk Iliyas bin Ibrahim said this when launching the City Level World Toilet Day 2007 organised by City Hall and QRAM at City Hall Conference Hall yesterday, held in conjunction with the World Toilet Day celebrated throughout the world on November 19.
Among those present were City Hall Director General Datuk Dr Chua Kim Hing, QRAM Deputy Chairperson Nilakrishna James, who represented QRAM Sabah Chapter President Edward Yong Oui Fah who is the Assistant Local Government and Housing Minister, Sabah West Coast Coffee Shop Association president Yong Tzu Yoon and representatives from the Sabah Restaurant Association, Sabah Hotel Association and Sabah Bakery Association. Explaining the Toilet Star Rating system, Iliyas said apart from encouraging operators of food premises to upkeep their toilet cleanliness, it is also to inform their patrons that the toilets of the said premises are in order and clean for their use. “Those who scored less than 50 percent marks will he given a notice to upgrade and clean their toilets or face closure of their premises,” he said, adding that toilet cleanliness should be made a priority by all operators of food premises and expressed hopes that the program will be well received by them. Calling on the people to change their mindset and discard the general perceptions that toilets are dirty, he said City Hall recently came up with specifications to improve cleanliness on toilets applicable to all food premises in the City. “Operators of food premises who wish to renew their trading licence must have their toilets fixed with floor to ceiling tiles, bidet installed on the right hand side of toilet bowl, good flushing system, a hand dryer, a covered dustbin, soap, mirror, decorations as well as air freshener,” he explained. According to him, City Hall has given out many incentives to get operators of food premises to improve the condition and cleanliness of their toilets. “We even offered RM500 incentives for the food operators who upgraded their toilets according to our specifications. So far, we have received 22 applications,” said Iliyas and thanked those who have taken the incentives.
Towards this end, he said a clean toilet and clean premises would attract more customers and indirectly increase the income of food operators. In another development, Iliyas said the Federal Government had approved an allocation of RM2 million for City Hall to built new toilets in the City and upgrade existing ones. For the year 2007, City Hall constructed five new toilets and upgraded 10 existing toilets. The new toilets are located at Damai Plaza Phase 4, Wawasan Bus Terminal, Likas Sports Complex, Wisma Kosan area and one near the Sabah Tourism Board building. “The new toilet design and facilities are near five star standard and equipped with sensor tap and urinal sensor flusher,” he said, adding that all fundings for the projects were from the Federal Government through JPPS. As part of the City Day World Toilet Day celebration yesterday, a Toilet Awareness Walk was organized, which saw Iliyas together with his Director-General, City Hall officers and QRAM officials inspecting several toilets at Jalan Gaya, Jalan Pantai and Bandaran Berjaya.


Only three sport complexes register positive returns
KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Sports Board (SSB) achieves an average of RM2.7 million collection per year from renting out its facilities at all the eight sport complexes in the State. However, out of the total amount of collection, only three of the eight sport complexes registered positive returns, namely the Kota Kinabalu Sport Complex. Keningau Sport . Complex & Kota Belud Sport Complex. But the rest of the sport complexes in Penampang, Sandakan, Tawau, Tenom and Tambunan achieved lower collection compared to maintenance expenditure. Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Liew Yun Fah said despite the low collection compared to the overall Government . expenditure, the question of profit —. — is not the most important thing. According to him, the State Government has allocated RM41 million or RM6. 83 million per year from 2001 to 2006 for the purpose of paying salaries of the 319 staff, at the moment, of all the sport complexes in Sabah. “Whether it makes profit or incurs losses, the issue doesn’t arise. This is because the main responsibility of the complex mänägement is to provide the best services to people from all walks of life with minimum fees. “The services are the social responsibility of the State Government to produce a healthy, disciplined and united community,” he stressed when replying to a question from Likas Assemblyman Datuk Liew Teck Chan at the State Assembly sitting yesterday.
He said, for the Tawau Sport Complex which started operating in May this year, the SSB collected RM165,000 as of Nov 15. “With the overwhelming amount, SSB is confident that if the trend of using facilities continues, the Tawau Sports Complex can contribute positively to the overall collection of SSB,” he said. Liew added that the Government is also making efforts to have two sport complexes — one each in Ranau and Sipitang. Construction of the complex in Ranau is currently in progress and is expected to be completed in early 2009 while works on the complex in Sipitang will start early next year.


15 companies buy 167 acres of land at POIC Lahad Datu
Fifteen companies have signed agreements with POIC Sdn Bhd to buy 267.39 acres of land worth RM 1. 364 billion at the Palm Oil Industrial Cluster (POIC) in Lahad Datu. Industrial Development Minister Datuk Dr Ewon Ebin said the companies, among other things, were involved in the production of bio-diesel, palm oil refinering, fertilizer productions, warehousing, logistics and other support services. Another 25 companies are now negotiating with POIC Sdn Bhd on the purchase of some 386 acres of land worth RM1 .806 billion, he said when replying to Membakut assemblyman Haji Mohd Arifin Mohd Arif. Ewon said 13 of the companies and POIC Sdn Bhd are expected to finalise the sales and purchase agreements by early next year. He added POIC Sdn Bhd also received serious enquiries from 62 companies which were keen to buy 732.4 acres with investment value of RM3,447. 19 million. “The overall transactions would involve 1,385.79 acres with investment amounting to RM6.819 billion. “The overwhelming response from investors has forced POIC Sdn Bhd to provide a bigger industrial land as the existing area through the Phase I and 2 development of the POIC in Lahad Datu are unable to meet the high demand for land,” Ewon told the State Legislative Assembly yesterday. As such, Ewon said his ministry and POIC Sdn Bhd were now planning to develop Phase 3 in order to cater for the demand from investors who are keen to set up biomass-based operation there. In another development, Ewon said the POIC Sandakan main development plan for 2006-2010 had been completed with the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) reports already approved by the Sandakan Municipal Council and Department of Environment. He said the physical works on POIC Sandakan were being carried out, with the Phase lA site covering 350 acres already 60 per cent completed, while the 650-acre Phase lB is being tendered out. “The Phase 1 is expected to be fully ready by the end of 2008,” said Ewon. adding that the Phase 2 development covering 720 acres is under planning.


THE State Government has been urged to expand the scope of its tourism development budget to include upgrading basic infrastructure in the interior to maximise Sabah’s tourism potential. Sook assemblyman Tan SriJoseph Kurup said poor access to the interior region is a contributing factor to the lack of interest among tourists to visit despite having numerous tourism sites. In his budget speech the Chief Minister (Datuk Sen Musa Aman) stressed on increasing hotel rooms but did not mention about other facilities, especially upgrading of roads,” he said when debating the 2008 State Budget at the State Assembly here, yesterday. “Providing hotel rooms to meet tourists’ needs is not enough to attract them to interesting sites. Tourists are mostly concentrated in Kota Kinabalu, Sandakan and National Park in Kundasang, while tourist arrivals in the interior are not very encouraging. “It could be because marketing of interesting places such as Mount Trus Madi and the Tenom Agriculture Park is not wide enough …. (poor access) is also a reason why tourists are not attracted to visit other districts even if there is much to see,” he said. Kurup also urged the Government to ensure employers in the tourism industry maintain a staff team with locals making up a minimum of 30 percent. “Many jobs have been created (in the industry but I WAS made to understand that those who are reaping the benefits of employment are not the locals. It has been said that employers prefer to hire foreigners instead of locals. “Contentions that locals are uninterested or are absent from work are the reasons, which I feel are unreasonable. I have constantly heard of these complaints but no action has been taken to rectify the situation. “I believe the problem can be overcome by providing training and also instilling a suitable attitude where they are responsible in their respective work,” he said.


Allocations needed for local authorities to give pay hike
THE State Government was urged to also give grants or financial assistance to local authorities to help them cope with higher expenditure caused by the recent salary increment for the civil servants and to avoid additional financial burden for the public. Sekong Assemblyman Datuk Shamsuddin Yahya said that unlike other government agencies and departments whose staff are paid using government allocations, local authorities are responsible for paying their workers using the revenues generated from their operations. In order to pay the higher salaries to their employees, the local authorities would have to generate more income by increasing assessment rates and license fees, which are the main sources of their revenues, he added. This, he said, will burden the public as it is they who are actually absorbing the extra expenditure of local authorities. The increase will burden business operators and ratepayers and will definitely be opposed by the affected local residents,” he said. “The local authorities are the frontliners of the government machinery and whatever policy or action they implement will impact positively or negatively on the Government depending on the perception of the public of that policy or action,” he said.


The probe on the illegal logging case in Keningau has been completed with two factories charged and fined in the court for an offence under the Forest Enactment Act 1968. Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department Datuk Nasir Tun Sakaran said each of the factories was slapped a maximum fine of RM5O,000 and the seized logs were forfeited. “The minimum RM5O,000 fine was under the old rate because the maximum fine of RM500,000 under the amended Forest Enactment Act that was passed at the last State Legislative Assembly sitting has not been enforced yet,” he told the House when replying to Sook assemblyman Tan Sri Joseph Kurup yesterday. Replying to a question from Datuk Sairin Karno (Umno-Liawan), Nasir said the Forestry Department was planning to recruit more enforcement personnel but the matter was still being studied as it involved a high cost
However, he said various new approaches had been taken to reduce crime activities in the State forest reserves, particularly in the interior areas, which included the Forestry Department’s prohibition of transporting logs at night and during public holidays. He said the assessment and measurement of logs would be allowed within the licensed concession area only, apart from regular patrol rounds and stringent check at the gate by enforcement personnel. “These new approaches and specific terms and conditions will greatly reduce crime activities in the State’s forest reserves,” said Nasir. Nasir also told the House that the Illegal Logging Eradication Unit in the Chief Minister’s Department had taken proactive measures by carrying out investigations on State forest reserve and timber concession areas, including the Sabah Foundation’s areas and sawmill factories. “An integrated operation will be carried out by the Forestry Department regional offices in Nabawan, Sook and Keningau with the army from the Lok Kawi Army Camp soon following reports received from the public about illegal logging activities in the interior area.” Nasir said the Illegal Logging Eradication Unit had carried out investigations in the interior between September and this month but it did not find any illegal logging in the forest reserves at Kampung Sinsuron, Ulu Tambunan by a company as alleged. “No encroachment had been found on the forest reserves in Sri Bongawan and Batu 38 Nabawan as alleged by local residents,” he added.


Sook assemblyman Tan Sri Joseph Kurup yesterday urged the State Government to expedite amendments to the Native Ordinance to prevent abuse and ensure the rights of Sabah natives are preserved. He said the current legal interpretation of the Ordinance, which. was established during British rule in 1952, no longer applies as the status of both State and population now differs greatly from when it first came in force 55 years ago. “Provisions under Sections 2(c) and (d) can no longer apply because under these provisions, it seems natives of Sarawak, Singapore, Indonesia and the Philippines can claim Native Certificates,” he said when debating the 2008 State Budget at the State Assembly here, yesterday. Kurup said the provisions under the Native Ordinance are in direct conflict with the definition of natives under Article 161A clause (b) of the Federal Constitution and Article 41 paragraph (10) of the State Constitution. “These articles define a native as a child or grandchild of a person indigenous to Sabah. The Oxford dictionary defines indigenous as belonging naturally to a place and as such when these laws are applied in current and future times, the people referred to (in the Native Ordinance) should not fall under the word indigenous,” he said. Kurup admitted that it would not be easy to find a solution to the current situation due to various sensitivities in society, but stressed that if it is not settled soon, the Government may face numerous legal implications due to the loophole in the Ordinance.
“Amendments to the law needs to be expedited because it poses the danger of not only leaving genuine applicants in a dilemma but also legal action against the Government. “We do not know the situation in Sabah where we are faced with illegal immigrants that may lead them to starting a reverse takeover because our law gives them a loophole they can take advantage of and it is not impossible that they will take legal action one day,” he stressed.