Thursday, January 22, 2009




Pork is not only expensive in Tawau but also throughout the State, said the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Department here yesterday.

Its Head, Mohd Fikri Lai Abdullah, said complaints by consumers that pork is the most expensive in Tawau were not true as a survey showed the price had also gone up considerably in Kota Kinabalu and other towns.

Fikri said as pork is not a controlled item, his department could not control the price but just monitor it.

To ease the burden of consumers. The price has been lowered from RM950 per pig to RM900 since January 20 this year.

Lt was learnt that pork price is normally fixed after a meeting among members of the Pig Farming Association in Sabah. Therefore, it depends on the consumers whether they want to buy It or not.

“There are three wholesalers in Tawau who have registered under the Sabah Farming Association; they are producing pork especially for the East Coast areas in Sabah like Kalabakan, Semporna, Lahad Datu and Tawau.

I just need to clarify that the local government has the right to issue the license to the pork wholesalers, and not our Ministry. The pork price increase may be caused by the high prices of corns and soya beans and higher labour cost,” Fikri explained to Tawau Member of Parliament Datuk Chua Soon Bui at his office here yesterday morning.

Many consumers in Sabah have complained that the high price of pork is unreasonable and it burdens them.

Chua disclosed that she will bring up this issue in Parliament and ask whether pork can be listed as a controlled item.


Sabah journalists can negotiate for salary review


Several local major newspapers feel that journalists in Sabah can negotiate their salaries and work benefits directly with their employers rather than having a third party do it for them. Although the idea of forming a union for journalists in the State is not considered a bad idea, they feel that a representative body for the local professionals is not necessary. “The local newspaper companies hire their editorial staff on a contract basis which is renewable every one or two years. “This allows them to negotiate salary increments, allowances and other benefits,” The Borneo Post’s Editorial Consultant, Eddy Lok, told Bernama.

Lok, a former Secretary of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) in Penang, said the local newspaper companies each had a small workforce compared with the national press and this encouraged one-to-one negotiation, not only for salary review but also other issues pertaining to work. Daily Express’ Chief Editor James Sarda said that should a union be formed to represent the welfare of journalists in Sabah, other benefits which they enjoyed compared with those in the peninsula might have to be reviewed. While the national journalists enjoyed yearly increments and longer annual leave, the local journalists were also getting other perks like more press holidays on top of annual leave, the former NUJ member said.

Meanwhile, New Sabah Times’ Managing Director Anthony Wong said the demand and supply of national newspapers were far greater than that of local newspapers. “Bear in mind that we only cater to Sabah and not the whole country. Therefore, our audience is very small and our circulation of about 23,000 copies at RM1.20 per copy for the whole of Sabah cannot beat 200 or 300 over thousand copies of the national dailies. “Advertisement revenue is also not enough to improve the staff’s salary. We are selling RM6.50 per column cm for advertisements, while national papers are selling at about RM48 per column cm. Even at RM6.50
advertisers are complaining that it’s pricey,” he said. However, Wong said, the New Sabah Times ensured that its staff received other allowances as well as bonuses every year. Last Sunday, NUJ representative Norila Mohd Daud met Sabah journalists and discovered that there are huge differences in perks enjoyed by journalists in the peninsula and those in Sabah although they are in the same vocation. Sabah Journalists Association (SJA) President Datuk Jonistan Bangkuai said the SJA would form a protem committee to discuss the matter with the NUJ. - Bernama


Don’t jump to conclusion: Masidi


Sabah Education Exco Datuk Masidi Manjun wants an investigation to be conducted into the allegation that pupils of a school there had to study without proper facilities because the contractor did not finish building the cabin classrooms.

Masidi who is also the Karanaan Assemblyman, said there is a need to find out what had actually happened before jumping to any conclusions.

We should not jump to conclusion and blame the Education Department as we have to find out if the project was tendered out or if it was abandoned by the contractor,” the Tourism. Culture and Environment Minister said.

Speaking to reporters after launching the Sushi King outlet in lBorneo yesterday, Masidi said he had not heard of any case where a Contractor abandoned the project.

“I know that one of the school’s buildings collapsed because of termites but no one told me that the contractor failed to complete the project. I have also informed my officer to arrange camps for the pupils to use as temporary classrooms,” he said.

Masidi added that he was informed by the State Deputy Education Department Director hat the Ranau Education Officer is aware of the problem and is doing something about it.

“However, it is incumbent on the Department to ensure that every construction is well monitored and that problems should be reported to the superiors so that rectifying measures can be taken,” he said, adding that the Education Department cannot be blamed if no one officially reports the matter.


EIA needed, reiterates Minister


Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun yesterday reiterated the State Government’s stand on the proposed coal-fired plant to be built in Sandakan.

“I would like to stress that the Government’s position was that an EIA must be conducted and if the EIA recommends that the area is not suitable for a coal-fired plant, and then the State Government will listen and act on the advice.

“We need to give everybody an opportunity to air their views and the Government will be sensitive to their views,” he said when asked to comment on Sandakan Member of Parliament Datuk VK Liew’s call that the Government use the same practice it applied when rejecting the proposed Lahad Datu coal-fired plant.

He said that any decision made on the proposal should be best for Sabah.

Masidi also expressed hope that Tenaga Nasional Berhad and Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd I will take into account that the price of fuel is now lower than coal.


Murder of bus conductor solved with eight nabbed


Police believe they have solved a murder case within 48 hours with the arrest of eight men, including teenagers, during separate raids here earlier this week.
District Police Chief DSP Madang Usat when disclosing this yesterday, said the victim, identified as Yap Tet Loi, succumbed to serious head and body injuries eight hours after he was found unconscious at a walkway in the Towering area around 7.3Oam on Monday.

“The victim, who worked as a bus conductor, was rushed to the hospital but died the same day at around 8.4Opm. We believe that he was hit badly before he was left in the area,” he said.

Following a public tip-off, Police arrested two suspects on Jan 20 at around 5.3Opm in the Towering area and another group of eight men at the same place at 4.3Oam the next day. All of them are locals aged between 14 and 51.

Madang said the case would be investigated under Section 302 of the Penal Code for murder, and they face the mandatory death penalty, if found guilty.

“We are still investigating the motive behind the attack and murder,” he said.

In an unrelated incident, Police arrested a school bus driver who had allegedly raped one of his passengers.

The 34-year-old local man was picked up after a secondary school student lodged a Police report over the rape which occurred on Jan

“In the 17-year-old victim’s report, she claimed that the bus driver had purposely sent the other students home, leaving her alone in the bus.
“He then took her for a ride before finally making a stop at a place near Sungai Moyog around 7pm where the rape took place. He raped her in the bus before sending her home,” said Madang.

He added the victim related the incident to a teacher who later accompanied her to lodge a Police report on Jan 16.

The suspect was subsequently picked up the same day.

“We will be investigating the case under Section 376 of the Penal Code for rape and he may face 20 years jail and liable to whipping if found guilty,” he said.


Don’t be overconfident, Radin tells Kurup


Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) Secretary-General Datuk Radin Malleh has cautioned Deputy Federal Rural and Regional Development Minister Tan Sri Joseph Kurup not to be overconfident of winning if by-election were to be called for the Pensiangan parliamentary seat

“It seems that Tan Sri Kurup forgot that the constituency was never won by PBRS in the real sense of the word but was given free to it in the name of Barisan Nasional(BN) spirit,” he said yesterday.

Radin, who is Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister, was responding to Kurup’s statement Tuesday that the voters are well prepared and already know who to vote for in the event of a by-election.

Kurup, whose uncontested victory in the last general election held in March 2008 was declared null and void by anElection Court, had chided PBS President Datuk Serf Panglima Joseph Pairin Kitingan who stated that the selection of the BN candidate should not be automatic.

In defending Pairin’s views, Radin contended that Kurup himself is the one who does not know how to read the political situation and the local sentiment in Pensiangan.

“The voters there want a candidate who is a local and preferably a Murut because a majority of the voters there are Murut,” he said.

According to Radin, the electorates had, stated that Kurup had failed to bring about any. Progress and development to the area.

“The voters are claiming that Kurup had been the Assemblyman for Sook since 1985 until 2008 except for the period between 1999 and 2004 and had been full a Minister, Finance Minister and Deputy Chief Minister in that period of time but still the area is lagging behind in terms of basic infrastructures, amenities and other developments,” he said.

As such, Radin reckoned that Kurup should make a soul searching for the sake of the future of the peo1c In Pensiangan as well as the fate of BN.

“Hence, Kurup should put the interest of the people in Pensiangan and BN before all else,” he added.


War memories. Linger on for last hero alive


Lee Mm may have survived the sufferings endured during World War II.

And, although the war ended decades ago, the memories linger on for this elderly man, who could be the last standing hero alive.

Now at the age of 88, Lee Mm never fails to attend the special ceremony held annually at the Petagas Memorial Garden to commemorate the fallen heroes.

“This is the date (Jan 21) to remember every year. I get the chance to pay respects to my friends who perished in the War and I get to share the stories with their children and family members,” he said.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Joseph Pairin Kitingan led the group of dignitaries in laying wreaths to commemorate the fallen heroes yesterday.

Lee Mm, who came all the way from Menggatal along with his son, was smartly dressed in a white shirt and dark silver coloured pants as he walked slowly to the plaque to read the names of the fallen heroes.
“My name was once printed on the plaque before it got stolen. However, four names, including mine, were extracted on this new plaque,” he said.

The then 21-year- old single man recalled how he fought, armed with just a parang, against their enemies in 1940s.

“I remember when they first dropped their bombs in my village. It was in November 1941 ... it was such a terrible sight. Many were killed while the living escaped for their dear lives.

“I was just lucky to survive the sufferings, and I am happy to live to tell the story. Although many of my friends did not make it, I am proud of them. They fought hard to free us from the enemies’ clutches

it is just right to commemorate their sacrifices, they had earned our respects,” he said.

The proud father of five was also awarded the Ahli Setia Darjah Kinabalu by the State Government over 10 years ago for his services.
And to ensure the younger generation remembers the sufferings endured by their ancestors, he had written two books in the Chinese Language, with the help of a senior journalist years
back. -

At the event, Lee Min had the chance to chat with an old friend, Huo Fung Siong’s son, Huo Chen Seng, 77.

“My father was among those who fought against the Japanese in Kampung Tenghilan inTuaran. A group of them were captured, brought here (Petagas) and shot dead.

“I always make a point to come to this ceremony; it saddens me but I feel proud that somehow, my father and his friends are appreciated till today ... Jam proud to be part of this,” he said.

Among those present at the ceremony were State Secretary Datuk Sukarti Wakiman, State Police Commissioner Datuk Noor Rashid Ibrahim, Fifth Infantry Brigade Commander Brigadier General Masrani Paiman and Mayor Datuk Iliyas Ibrahim.


No lay-off of workers in Sabah so far despite economic crisis, says Yee


The State Government has not received any specific reports of workers in Sabah being laid off because of the economic crisis, according Resource Development and Information Technology Minister Datuk Dr Yee Moh Chai.

He said the Government is constantly monitoring the situation although the private sector is not obliged to report to the State Government if they are laying off staff. Speaking to reporters after giving away ang pows and goodies bags to the needy in the Sports Toto’s annual charity campaign, Yee said while there is no specific law to compel companies in the private sector to report any lay-off, it does not mean that the Government is not concerned about the welfare of the people.

He said the Government is watching the employment situation in the State because it is aware of the fact that there are incidences of unemployment in Peninsular Malaysia and neighbouring countries like Singapore because of the global economic crisis. To a question if there would be enough jobs to go around, Yee said:

“Unemployment has always been a problem in the country and no doubt, in Sabah as well. To say that there are jobs for everyone of course would be the ideal situation and as I have said many times before we have created a job centre in Sabah as the State Government was, at that time aware that this was going to happen.

“So we were well armed in the sense that we have provided training to people and still continue to provide training courses to people who are going to be without a job and let’s hope by doing that, we will be able to at least ease the problem caused by the economic downturn and be able to face it better,” he said.

He also allayed fears of Sabahans over difficulties in securing jobs when more qualified Malaysians who have been working overseas decide to return home to work.

“We certainly are aware of the fact that there will be more people returning from places like Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia and the fear of the locals is that since they are more skilled, they would grab the jobs.

“That is not necessarily true because they are most likely to have been doing jobs of a different nature. So there is no competition because their skills would be of a different nature,” he said, adding that the fear is unfounded.

On the appeal by CUEPACS to the Federal Government not to lay off contract workers because of the economic crunch, Yee said while there are contract workers in Sabah’s civil service, he is not aware of any deliberate termination of their contracts because of the crisis.

“There are certainly contract workers in the Civil Service but I am not aware of any so-called termination of employees, but no doubt, there will be contracts ending and which may not be renewed,” he said.


Hopes are pinned on Najib


Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Deputy President Datuk Chin Su Phin has cautioned the Barisan Nasional (BN) to be wary of the recent call by PAS for Datuk Sen Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to continue as the Prime Minister.

He said it was merely an Opposition ploy because it is the PAS view that if Abdullah were to continue as Prime Minister, it will give the Opposition another chance in trying to topple the BN in the next general election and form the Government.

It is common public views that if Abdullah were to continue to lead the BN, the Coalition may lose in the next general election, said Chin yesterday.

“We hope that Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will take over the Prime minister’s post as planned in March and when he becomes the Premier, we hope he will restructure the BN, in particular the Government, both at the Federal and State levels by dropping those leaders who are no longer suitable or corrupt or involved in abuse of power.

“The performance and leadership of Najib are very crucial because the people are hoping to see the implementation of new policies and for Najib to lead the BN Government to a new era,” he said.

Commenting on the BN’s failure to retain the Kuala Terengganu parliamentary seat, Chin said Chin Su Phin the candidate and the BN Coalition itself should be blamed for the defeat in the by-election as the poll outcome clearly showed the Malay voters are still divided.

Although the results of the last general election in March 2008 had taught the BN Coalition a lesson, still the Government is not firm when it comes to making decisions, he said, citing the issue on the proposal to setup a coal-fired power plant in Sandakan.

“Most of the Sandakan people and the environmental groups are strongly opposed to the project and. There fore, the Government should call off the project immediately. Nobody can deny that Sandakan is facing inadequate electricity supply but we have other feasible alternatives of power sources.

“After all, the Government has also been emphasizing on the need and importance of protecting our environment all this while,” he said. citing the issue on the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) as yet

another example of the BN Government’s indecisiveness and lackadaisical approach in the decision-making process.

He said the existing QEH main tower had already been vacated, while the vacant land behind it is already in place for the construction of the proposed twin- tower building to take off.

“But it is very sad to see that the authorities concerned still have to refer to the engineering consultant report on whether to demolish QEH main tower block or not,” said Chin, urging the Government to go ahead with construction of the proposed twin-tower building immediately in the interest of the people and Sabah.

He reckoned that the twin-tower construction project should be awarded to capable contractors with proven good track record in the building and construction industry.

“We believe the country has a lot of capable contractors like Tan Sri Ting Pek King who completed a resort project in Langkawi and also the Terminal 2 of the
KKIA well ahead of the time of completion.

“Now the question is whether the Government wants to implement the twin- tower building at the QEH, and our hope is there should be no further delay to the project,” said Chin.
Commenting on the sudden resignation of Datuk Roderic Fernandez as the Sabah State Attorney recently, Chin described it as a big loss to Sabah as Roderic is a good and capable lawyer and Attorney General.

As his (Roderic) three-year contract is not due until May this year, Chin felt that the sudden resignation of Roderic was something unusual but declined to elaborate further.


Review for rear seat belt fines


The Government has agreed to review the summonses issued against rear passengers who were caught for not wearing seat belts with a view to canceling them, said Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Hj Lajim Hj Ukin. He said the decision followed the problem & understanding the rules and regulations on the enforcement of the ruling among authorities including the Traffic Police and Road Transport Department. The RTD alone has issued some 2,452 summonses to alleged offenders since the rear seat belt ruling came into force on January 1 this year, said Lajim After inspecting the site for the proposed construction of the RTD Training Academy Complex here yesterday.

Lajim was accompanied by RTD Director General Datuk Solah Hassan, Deputy Director General Ruhaizah Mohamed Rashid and PUSPAKOM Chief Executive Officer Khairuddin Datuk Haji Yusoof.

Lajim, who is also the Beaufort MP, reiterated that owners of cars not equipped with rear seat belts had been given three years to install the seat beats. He said the owners should adhere to the Government’s ruling and fix the rear seat belts in their vehicles for the sake of their safety while on the road. A public awareness campaign has been conducted on the importance of wearing the rear seat belts, according to Lajim,