Saturday, November 24, 2007


380 Sabah Pilgrims leave for Mecca
Head of State Tun Ahmadshah Abdullah, his wife Toh Puan Hajah Dayang Masuyah Awang Japar, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman and Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department Datuk Nasir Tun Sakaran were on hand to send off 380 pilgrims from Sabah to the holy land, Mecca at the Tabung Haji Complex in Sembulan here at dawn yesterday. The pilgrims took flight KT39 the second direct chartered flight to Mecca. and they are expected to return to Sabah on January 8 next year at 7.35am.
Also present were Tabung Haji Deputy Director of Operation for Pilgrims from its headquarters in Kuala Lumpur, Haji Ahmad Ruzman Razali and Sabah Tabung Haji Director, Haji Abu Bakar Yusof as well as State Assemblymen and MUIS officials.


50-acre site in Tawau for Muslim cemetery
Municipal Council has identified a 50-acre site to be turned into a Muslim cemetery in the district. Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department Datuk Nasir Tun Sakaran said the land, located at Km 18 in Kampung Kijang. Merotai. is an alternative to the existing Muslim cemetery at Km 1, Jalan Utara Tawau. “The existing cemetery is adjacent to the government land, which has been gazetted as a park by the local authorities,” he said in response to the Tanjung Batu assemblyman Mohd Kamil Datuk Mohd Kassim at the State Assembly sitting, yesterday. Nasir added that currently, the Sabah Islamic Affairs Department (JHEAINS) is preparing for a more systematic way to better manage the cemetery, taking into account methods used by other states in Malaysia. “To ensure the success and effectiveness of the system, a pilot project would be launched at the new cemetery site,” he said.


Ministry set to upgrade Inanam roads
INFRASTRUCTURE Development Ministry is ready to consider upgrading the roads in Inanam, as long as they are under the Public Works Department’s supervision. Its Minister, Datuk Raymond Tan Shu Kiah urged Inanam assemblyman Johnny Goh to provide the Ministry with a list of roads which need upgrading. “If the stretch is under the PWD’s supervision, than we will consider ‘upgrading it but if it is under City Hall, then they will have to handle the situation,” he said yesterday on the last day of the State Assembly sitting. Earlier, Assistant Infrastructure Development Minister Datuk Aklee Abas said the Government has come up with short and long-term solutions to reduce road congestions in the City. The short-term solutions are the expansion of main roads and also the construction of flyovers. “As for long-term solution, the Government will be carrying out a study on the need to build new roads as part of the effort to ensure smooth traffic flow to and from the City,” he said.


Five-star hotel needed in Kundasang

THERE is a need for a five-star hotel and golf course to be built in Kundasang, which is famous for its cold weather. Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun believes that it would definitely attract more people to come to Kundasang. “This would not only offer job opportunities to locals, but also generate income for the State,” he said in response to a question from Kundasang assemblyman Dr Joachim Gunsalam, on the last day of the State Assembly sitting, yesterday. He added that Kundasang is already well known to both domestic and foreign tourists as it is located within the State tourism icon, namely Kinabalu Park, which was gazetted as the first World Heritage Site in Malaysia. Mount Kinabalu, he added, is also known as one of the most challenging mountains in Asia, especially for endurance sports enthusiasts. He said its War memorial, which is very much connected to the Australia and Europe history, has often lured tourists to visit the area.


Meetings on curbing cable, iron thefts
SEVERAL meetings have been jointly organised with the Police, Customs, Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd, Syarikat Telekom Malaysia and Public Works Department to get their feedback and proposals to overcome cable and iron theft cases.
Assistant Local Government and Housing Minister, Edward Yong Oui Fah, when disclosing this, said among the proposed methods are to centralise the purchase of iron and to appoint a government subsidiary company as the sole agent to buy and export all types of scrap metals from the manufacturers. “The Ministry will submit the proposal to get the Government and Cabinet’s approval. If it is approved, we believe it would reduce and contain scrap metal and cable theft in the State,” he said.


Sabah wants fixed shipping charges High transportation costs impede exports: Jainab
Sabah has urged the Federal Government to abolish the Cabotage Policy or at least ease the policy for Sabah and Sarawak as one of the measures to lower the costly freight in the two states. Assistant Industrial Development Minister Jainab Ahmad said a request was also made for the State Shipping Licensing Board to be empowered to supervise and fix the charges related to shipping costs and ensure transparency. “Thirdly, an upfront incentive either in the form of grant or rebate should be given to exporters to lessen their fmancial burden,” she said when replying to Datuk Mohd Lan Allani on the last day of the State Assembly sitting yesterday. Mohd Lan asked why the Government had not lowered the shipping cost which impedes the growth of the State’s export sector and what measures have been taken in spurring the export sector.
Jainab said the State Government is aware of the high shipping costs in Sabah and was a disincentive to investors, as it impedes efforts in developing the export sector. In fact, she said freight charges had dropped over the past several years but the imposition of additional charges pushed up the overall shipping costs. She said inadequate container goods from Sabah that forced vessels to transport the empty containers back to its original destinations and the enforcement of the Cabotage Policy under the Maritime Shipping Ordinance 1952 since Jan 1, 1980 were the main contributors to the high shipping costs for Sabah. The inadequate container cargoes for exports from Sabah also prevented a direct export of cargoes to Sabah and they have to be exported through transshipment from the Klang Port in Peninsular Malaysia or Singapore, Jainab explained. According to her, the Cabotage Policy is intended to develop domestic shipping industry but, at the same time, it also limits competition. The situation has led to the emergence of cartels in the domestic shipping industry, which unilaterally impose freight and ancillary charges. In addition, shipping costs in Sabah comprise several elements such as the freight charge, and additional charges like the Terminal Handling Charge (THC), Emergency Bunker Surcharge (EBS) and Sabah Congestion Charge. “The Sabah Congestion Surcharge is imposed to offset the loss that is purportedly faced by shipping owners as a result of unloading inefficiency at the port,” said Jainab.


Producers must meet environ standards to compete: Musa
Sabah manufacturers must keep abreast of the increasing sophistication of their customers to ensure they are able to remain competitive in the global market, said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman. He said developed markets comprise the bulk destination of the State’s exports, hence the need for Sabah products to meet the high standards set by the consumers. “Products must not only meet health and safety standards, but also environmental standards. Since most of the developed markets are the main markets for many of our exports, this means that our manufacturers must increasingly incorporate environmental standards into their products and processes. “Environmental protection is rightly an inherent part of corporate social responsibility,” he said in his speech when officiating at the Federation of Sabah Manufacturers (FSM) Nite 2007 at the Magellan Sutera here last night. Musa stressed that everyone, including the Government, consumers and producers, have a role to play in protecting the environment. He said the Government can implement legal frameworks and policies regarding the environment and effect behavioural change among citizens through education, enforcement and incentives. Producers on the other hand will need to incorporate more environmentally - friendly resources and practices in their businesses while consumers need to show prudence and restraint in their spending while practising the three Rs - Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. “Compared with many countries, Sabah is fortunate that it is still blessed with a relatively pristine environment. We intend to keep Sabah this way and do not believe that environmental protection and economic progress are necessarily in conflict,” he said. “The right way for Sabah to move forward is to leverage on our relatively green heritage and ride the worldwide concern for the environment for wealth creation and economic development. “I believe we have a natural advantage in such green industries as eco-tourism, biomass and biofuel, nature-derived products and products made from sustainably managed inputs and materials,” he said. Musa also assured that the State Government is a “pro-business government” and is always open to working with the private sector as the engine of growth in bringing economic prosperity to Sabah. “Given an increasingly volatile external environment we have to accept that the road ahead may be rough and winding, but I am confident that we can surmount the challenges if we work together as a team and as partners,” he said.


Budget success depends on delivery system: CM
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman yesterday called for coordinated efforts from all levels of leadership and the Government to ensure the 2008 State Budget can be translated to a success. He said he was happy and satisfied with the feedback on the budget from the members of the State Assembly, whom he described as very mature and able to provide constructive criticism. “I can see that all are committed to developing Sabah to be on par with our neighbours in Semenanjung Malaysia and elsewhere and to also improve the living standards of the people, especially in the rural areas,” he said at a press conference at the end of the State Assembly sitting yesterday. “This is our hope and we have the support from the backbenchers, including our independent brother from Kuala Penyu, Datuk John Ghani. “He is the only opposition member in the State Assembly and even the opposition is supporting BN Barisan Nasional).. this is a good sign,” he said.
Musa stressed that the success of the programmes outlined under the budget hinges on the efficiency of the public service under both State and Federal governments. “All the elected representatives placed emphasis on the delivery system and my hope is for our civil service under both the State and Federal governments can work together to develop Sabah and together implement the plans that we have outlined. “This budget is the largest in Sabah’s history and it is our hope that we can implement the programmes well... it is important to achieve our targets and provide a positive impact for the people. “It is of no use if we have a large allocation but are unable to provide benefits or development for the people, and this is where the importance of the delivery system lies. We must ensure that it is run well and that all cooperate, including elected representatives, politicians and civil servants. “This is in line with the advice from our Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi), who stressed that what is important is that the people benefit from the programmes implemented by the country,” he said.

On the heated argument between Tempasuk assemblyman Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Hj Mulia and himself at the assembly sitting earlier yesterday, Musa said it was a small matter. “We argue in the assembly but outside we are friends. It’s nothing, it was just to make things lively. On some issues the situation gets tense but after that we are friends.. .we must get serious sometimes or else people will think we are playing around,” he said. “What is important is that our target is the same, which is to develop Sabah and improve the lives of the people and this is in line with the call by the national leadership to give the best possible service so the people will know we are a Government for the people,” he said.


Musa and Pandikar argue over decision to debate bill a day earlier then scheduled
A war of words erupted between : Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman and Tempasuk Assemblyman Tan Sri Pandikar Aman Hj Mulia when they went head to head at the State Assembly here yesterday. The brief but fiery affair started when Pandikar queried the House’s decision to debate the State Records and Archives Bill 2007 a day earlier than scheduled. The bill was debated on Thursday evening in the absence of the Tempasuk assemblyman who had left the State Assembly before it was adjourned for the day. Taking the opportunity to speak prior to the start of the question and answer session, Pandikar claimed that the House had violated the point of order which requires notice to be posted to all assemblymen two days before a bill is debated. In a 20-minute tirade, he stressed that the posting of the notice is imperative as it is part and parcel of the point order which dictates the schedule of proceedings at State Assembly. “If the debate was brought forward to yesterday (Thursday), then why not also bring the question and answer session to yesterday ... I want to talk today (yesterday),” said the Government backbencher on the last day of the State Assembly sitting. Midway through his admonition, Speaker Datuk S Panglima Juhar Mahiruddin attempted to stop Pandikar saying that matters unrelated to the question and answer session could not be raised at the time according to the House regulations. Juhar: “Now we are in the question and answer session. If you wish to raise the point of order, it must be related to the question and answer session. You have raised nearly entire book on the regulation. “How are we to discuss when you are asking for too many things ... during the question and answer session I cannot allow you to raise issues of the point of order that are unrelated to the question and answer session.” Pandikar: “Tuan Speaker, the point of order outlines the regulations of the assembly. The schedule for the assembly this morning has been outlined ...“ Juhar: “Yang Berhormat, please explain what your point is?” Pandikar: “Tuan Speaker, if others did not interject, and if you did not ask I would have already finished.” Musa: “YB, your speech is too flowery, putar, putar , putar (spin, spin, spin), we don’t know how much.” Pandikar: “Tuan Speaker, listen to me first ...“ Musa: “This is a waste of time.” Pandikar: “This is not a waste of time ...“ From then on it was difficult to discern what was said between the two as both Musa and Pandikar simultaneosly launched their arguments against each other. The situation eventually settled down after Juhar managed to get both the Chief Minister and the Tempasuk assemblyman to stop the debate and allow for the question and answer session to proceed. Later at a press conference. Deputy ChiefMinister Datuk Seri Panglima Joseph Pairin Kitingan clarified that there was no violation committed by the House as claimed by Pandikar in bringing forward the tabling of the bill.
“I have been asked to clarify the issue raised by the YB from Tempasuk ... what he said is true as under Order 13 a standing order is established to arrange the agendas in the State Assembly and when there is a bill to be debated, there must be two days of notice and this applies to all bills. “However also under Order 13, there are provisions (to allow changes in the schedule). Provision 13 (2) states that the assembly may upon a motion, without notice, take precedence over other business and decide to carry out business out of the order,” he said. Pairin added that provision 13 (3) also empowers the House to proceed with any Government business as the head, in which case is the State Speaker, sees fit as communicated to his secretary. Order 50(3) also states that should any member of the House fail to comply with the standing order, it would be treated as an irregularity and does not nullify the proceedings or decision resulting thereof, he said. “So what was done was in line with the standing order ... if there is any objection it needs to be made on the day the change was made,” he said.


Over Eighty houses in Tawau damaged by typhoon
This east coast town suffered the tail effects of Typhoon Mitag which damaged more than 80 houses and public facilities at several villages here the last two nights. Apart causing damage to the wooden houses and blowing off roofs at Kampung Titingan, Jalan Damai, Pasir Putih and Tanjung Batu, the winds packing speeds of up to 60km per hour, also uprooted trees and poles around 10pm on Wednesday and Thursday. Tawau police chief Assistant Commissioner Jaafar Mohd Yusof yesterday said that they had not received any reports of injuries or deaths connected with the strong winds. “So far there have only been reports of damages to private and public property from various parts of the district,” he said. One of the victims, who requested anonymity, recalled what had happened: “I was sleeping in my bedroom when I heard a big sound like the roof being blown away. I then felt the rainwater dropping on my body.” Another victim, Anna, said she was watching television in the living room of her house when the strong winds struck.
She said she quickly woke up her parents when she saw the roofs of her house were being blown away. “I was very scared and I did not know what to do except calling my parents,” she said. Most of the victims had yet to replace the roofs yesterday as the workers were busy repairing their own houses. Several advertisement billboards, trees, wires and lights were damaged or brought down by the strong winds. Sabah Meteorological Department director Tan Chen Kok, when contacted in Kota Kinabalu, said that the current third category warning remains as they expect weather conditions to remain bad over Sabah due to Typhoon Mitag. Meanwhile, assistance is being provided to families whose houses were damaged and the Welfare Department was registering victims. Tawau welfare officer Asnah Mohd Kassim said the department had opened counters in Kampung Pasir Putih, Titingan, Tanjung Batu Laut, Tanjung Batu Tengah and several other locations. “We will be providing the necessary assistance,” he said. Apas Assemblyman Datuk Tawfiq Abu Bakar Titingan, who was attending the State Assembly sitting in Kota Kinabalu, rushed back here and visited the damaged houses at Kampung Titingan yesterday morning. He also gave emergency aid to the 80 victims there. Tawfiq, who is also the Assistant Rural Development Minister, advised the residents staying near the rivers to remain on alert for any life-threatening incident. Also paying a visit to the victims was Tawau Member of Parliament Shim Paw Fatt.