Friday, May 29, 2009

Jaya Supermarket Collapse: 4 dead, search on for 3

PETALING JAYA: Another body was recovered from the rubble of the collapsed Jaya Supermarket building at 4pm on Friday, taking the death toll to four.

Indonesian Annuaruddin, 38, was the excavator operator and was found trapped under the machine, said OCPD Asst Comm Arjunaidi Mohamed.

Early Friday morning another body - that of Muhamad Maskur, an Indonesian national aged 31, - was found at 3.30am pinned under a concrete slab in the car park.

On Thursday, after the building collapse, Alsuki Nahru, 58, and a yet to be identified man were the first two victims recovered.

He said that rescue personnel were trying to get to three more workers trapped under the debris of the collapsed Jaya Supermarket located by search dogs and a scope.

Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha said the trapped workers were near the bodies pulled from the rubble earlier.

He told reporters after visiting the site that rescuers were being hampered by the large amount of debris.

"I would like to get an explanation from the contractor involved in the demolition on the methods the company has used.

"I am going to put a working paper on this incident. A task force will also be formed to probe the collapse involving the local council, police and the Fire and Rescue Department," he said.

On Thursday, the building collapsed at 5pm while demolition work was going on, killing four Indonesian workers.

Two other workers were pulled out alive.

Bernama reported Deputy Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Lajim Ukim as saying that initial investigation indicated that overloading caused by heavy machines used in demolishing the former Jaya Supermarket building may have triggered the collapse.

He said eight heavy demolition tractors were in the building when the incident occurred.

Meanwhile, the Selangor government has issued a stopwork order on the project site.

This is to allow the Department of Occupational Safety and Health and Public Works Institute of Malaysia (Ikram) to study and report on the incident.

"The stopwork order is for seven days from today," Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim said when asked to comment on the incident after chairing the Selangor Economic Action Council meeting, here, Friday.

Meanwhile, in Petaling Jaya Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said in a statement Friday that the building collapse was another stark reminder that safety at the workplace should not be taken for granted.

The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh) chairman stressed the importance of carrying out risk assessments before construction work was done.

“The collapse of the old Jaya supermarket building highlights once again the consequences of not implementing good occupational safety and health practices at the workplace.

“It is sad that it takes another tragedy for people to realise what is going to happen if one takes safety at the workplace for granted,” he said in a statement Friday.

“Proper risk assessment is the most fundamental issue of commitment to safety. Unless and until this issue is addressed, accidents such as this will continue to happen in the future,” he said.

Sabah to get a heart centre ahead of schedule: Liow

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah will get a heart centre almost five years ahead of schedule following the purchase of the private Sabah Medical Centre building at Jalan Damai here.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the cardiology and cardio thoracic services would be available almost immediately after the inking of the sales and purchase agreement for the takeover of the private hospital building.

“We expect the agreement to be signed very soon and the cardiac centre will be in place ahead by three to four years of the original plan,” he said, adding that the new building would be equipped with a cathlab, operation theatres and an Intensive Care Unit.

“Sabah will have its own heart centre and people need not travel to Kuala Lumpur or Kuching for operations as all facilities will be available locally,” Liow told reporters after a working visit to the SMC building Friday.

The government had agreed to buy the private hospital building at a cost of RM280mil to overcome the shortage of beds and other service problems following the closure of the unsafe Queen Elizabeth Hospital tower block.

Liow also clarified that the cost was RM280mil and not RM245mil as initially announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

He said another RM90mil would be spent on upgrading works for the establishment of two additional operating theatres on top of the three already in the building.

Liow said the Health Ministry would also look into the limited parking area at the SMC building and other issues that might crop up.

He also slammed opposition Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) for putting up billboards allegedly claiming that “the state has no general hospital following the Queen Elizabeth closure”.

“They are trying to gain political mileage through health issues. It is wrong to say that there is no general hospital here.

“The ministry has taken a lot effort to continue providing health services through commitment from all staff,” he said, adding there now 502 beds available at various hospitals in the state.

Liow said the ministry would also go ahead with plans to demolish the unsafe QEH tower block and construct a new twin tower block

Student arrested for throwing away baby

KUANTAN: A female student of a religious secondary school, near here, was arrested after admitting that she had thrown away a baby boy near a house in Balok Makmur.

She claimed she had been raped and the child was the result.

Kuantan police chief ACP Mohd Jasmani Yusoff said the 16-year-old's mother brought her daughter to the Kuantan police headquarters around 11am Friday.

"The student confessed and was arrested under Section 318 of the Penal Code for concealing the birth.

“However, she was then sent to the Tengku Ampuan Afzan Hospital (HTAA) for postpartum treatment," he said when met by reporters, here.

He said the student had also filed a police report stating that a friend had raped her and that had led to her pregnancy.

"Police are investigating the student's report," he said. On Thursday, the body of a newborn baby boy was found wrapped in newspaper with a note in a village in Balok Makmur.

The body was found by villager Mohd Hafiz Ismail, 32, near his house while he was going out to work.

The note said, "please bury him as I am unable to." - Bernama

PKA chairman Lee hands over audit report to MACC

PUTRAJAYA: Port Klang Authority chairman Datuk Lee Hwa Beng has handed over the audit report on the Port Klang Free Zone to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission office here on Friday.

Lee, who arrived at the office shortly before 8am, said he spent about 10 minutes with deputy commissioner Datuk Abu Kassim Mohammad.

He also told reporters that both PKA and Price Waterhouse Coopers, which carried out the audit, pledged total cooperation with MACC in the probe.

Asked if PKA would take any disciplinary action against those named in the report, Lee said it would leave to MACC to investigate the matter first before PKA follow-up on it.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat has directed Lee to submit a copy of the report to the commission and the Public Accounts Committee.

Ong said the authority had also been ordered to seek legal recourse for any contractual shortcomings or irregularities revealed in the report.

The report would be available online at for a period of two weeks while the appendices to the report would be available for public viewing during office hours at PKA at Jalan Pelabuhan, Port Klang until June 10.

Students to get discounts for motorbike licenses

KUALA LUMPUR: Concerned about the rising number of students who ride their motorcycles to school without a licence, the Road Safety Department and Safety Driving Centre has decided to offer them licences at a discounted rate from next month.

A survey conducted among secondary school students found that many of them did not possess a valid licence because the cost was beyond their reach, Road Safety Department director-general Datuk Suret Singh said.

He said parents should not allow their children to ride motorcycles without a licence as the authorities would take stern action against them in addition to confiscating the vehicle.

“Under the motorcycle licence promotion campaign, those who are applying for the B2 class of below 250cc will get a 50% discount from June 1 to Aug 31,” he told reporters after signing a memorandum of understanding between the Road Safety Department and Safety Driving Centre here Friday.

The three-month promotion is targeted at secondary school students aged between 15 and 19 and the licence package starts from RM199.

“There are no more excuses for students who don’t have a motorcycle licence; they can apply for it at the Safety Driving Centre in Petaling Jaya and Kelana Jaya,” he added.

In conjunction with the school holidays which started Friday, Suret also highlighted the need for motorists to take extra precautions when returning to their hometowns.

Meanwhile, the Road Safety Department has kick-started a road safety campaign at Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman and Jalan Chow Kit in an effort to create public awareness on road safety issues.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Jaya Supermarket accident: Workers trapped, one dead

PETALING JAYA: The abandoned Jaya Supermarket in Section 14 here collapsed after demolition operations went awry on Thursday evening.

Part of the four-storey building, a landmark of the city, collapsed at about 4:45pm, trapping nine Indonesian construction workers. Others working at the site managed to escape.

The Fire and Rescue Department received a distress call at 5:08pm and about 50 firemen immediately rushed to the scene.

Selangor Fire and Rescue Department director Soiman Jahid said the first worker was pulled out of the rubble at 5:45pm and followed by the second about fifteen minutes later.

The two injured victims Suriono, 31, and Salleh, 45 were sent to the University of Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC).

Rescue workers also recovered the body of a construction worker at 6:44pm.

Petaling Jaya OCPD Asst Comm Arjunaidi Mohamed said Suriono was admitted to the emergency ward while Salleh received outpatient treatment.

“The dead victim has been identified as Maskor, 28,” he said at a press conference at the scene.

He said that six more construction workers were still trapped under the debris.

“We are working on the assumption that they are still alive. The search and rescue operation will continue untill all are accounted for,” he said.

A resident living nearby earlier said he had heard trapped workers shouting “Tolong, tolong (Help, help)” for a while, but there was only silence now.

One trapped worker apparently managed to call his boss on his handphone, and rescue workers are trying to trace him.

By nightfall, an operations centre had been set up and spotlights were used to help with the rescue efforts.

Soiman said the rescue operation involves over 150 personnel from his department, police, the Civil Defence Department, Petaling Jaya City Council and others.

“We are using the tracker dogs to search for the remaining victims,’’ he added.

The building has six storeys, including two basement levels. Most of the workers were on the ground and third floors when the incident, whose cause is currently unknown, occurred.

At one stage, the remaining part of the building was teetering dangerously, reporters on the scene said, with bits and pieces still falling off.

However, the Fire and Rescue Department has confirmed that there are no houses nearby and residents were not in danger.

Lucky survivors
An Indonesian worker Mohamad Iksan, 25, who was carrying out drilling operations in the basement, said he ran out immediately after some concrete slabs fell on the ground not far from him.

“Luckily I was near open space and managed to escape. I only realised part of the building had collapsed after I ran out of the building,” he said.

He said he was working with about eight colleagues during the incident and most of them were at the basement and the highest floor.

Andi, 30, who was on the fifth floor of the building, was taking a break with nine other construction workers when the incident happened.

“I was sitting down when I heard the loud sound of wind rushing past. Then the floor started tilting and we just ran for our lives.

“We rushed to the other end of the building. We are lucky to be alive,” said Andi, who had just started working on the construction site 20 days ago.

Rojak seller Faizal Md Yusof, 25, who was at his van nearby, saw the building “goyang” (sway) and then collapse.

“I saw six cranes falling down along with the building. I just left my van and ran for my life,” he said.

His van was located less than 50m from the collapsed building.

Store manager Lee, 37, said she heard loud booming sounds and looked out of her shoe shop to witness the building collapse.

“There is usually some noise from the construction. When I heard the loud noise, I knew something big fell but I never thought that the whole building would collapse,” she said.

Nomination and polling dates set for Manek Urai seat

PUTRAJAYA: The Election Commission (EC) has set July 6 as nomination day for the Manek Urai state seat by election while polling will take place on July 14.

The nomination and counting centre will be at Dewan Petra, SMK Sultan Yahya Petra I , Kuala Krai.

Nine schools will be used as polling centres.

“The by-election will cost the EC RM400,00 and 350 election workers will be employed,” its chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof told a press conference on Thursday,

“The EC will set up two election campaign enforcement teams that will oversee the installation of campaign material and activities through the campaigning period.”

He reminded political parties to refrain from campaigning on polling day.

Asked about the fact nomination and polling will be held on weekdays, he said it should not be a problem as most of the constituents were farmers, fishermen and rubber tappers, who were not bound by office hours.

The seat fell vacant following the death of state assemblyman Ismail Yaacob last Friday after he suffered a heart attack

Robert Kuok (net worth US$9bil) still Malaysia's richest man

KUALA LUMPUR: Tan Sri Robert Kuok, the Kuok Group patriarch, remains Malaysia's richest with a net worth of US$9 billion, down from US$10 billion a year ago, according to the 2009 Forbes Asia Malaysia Rich List.

In a statement here today, Forbes said Kuok has held the top spot every year since Forbes Asia began ranking the 40 richest Malaysians in 2006.

Businessman Tan Sri Ananda Krishnan held on to his second place with a net worth of US$7 billion,just down from US$7.2 billion last year.

He has also maintained the same ranking every year since 2006.

Together, Kouk and Ananda account for 44% of the top 40's wealth.

They are also the two richest people in Southeast Asia.

The third richest is Tan Sri Lee Shin Cheng, head of IOI Group, one of the world's leading operators of palm oil plantations.

He is worth US$3.2bil, down from US$5.5 bil last year but keeps his position in the top three.

Malaysia's 40 richest people are worth a combined US$36bil, down from US$46bil a year ago.

It said the 22% loss in wealth is largely in line with the 21% drop in the Kuala Lumpur Composite Index (KLCI) and is not too bad, considering the fact that the Malaysian ringgit has lost 10% against the US dollar, the currency by which the net worths are measured.

Malaysia has nine billionaires who are collectively worth US$30bil or 84% of the total wealth amassed by the country's top 40.

This is the biggest wealth disparity among Forbes Asia's rich list.

Tan Sri Vincent Tan (ranked 10, US$750mil) of Berjaya Corporation Bhd is the only Malaysian to drop out of the billionaire ranks in the past 12 months as share prices in his companies have declined.

Three making their debut are IOI Board member Chan Fong Ann (ranked 18, US$209mil), gaming tycoon Tan Sri Chen Lip Keong (ranked 21, US$195mil) and software executive Goh Peng Ooi (ranked 34, US$112mil).

Four people have returned to the rankings after an absence of a year or more.

Among them are Tan Sri Syed Mohd Yusof Tun Syed Nasir (ranked 37, US$100mil) and Tan Sri Tan Teong Hean (ranked 39, US$95mil), who cashed out of Southern Bank several years ago and is now making new investments.

The latest issue of Forbes Asia also features Tan Sri Francis Yeoh, head of conglomerate YTL (ranked seven,US$1.8 billion).

The full list of Malaysia's richest and the story on Francis Yeoh can be found in the June 8 issue of Forbes Asia, which is now available on newsstands. - BERNAMA

quit PKR because I felt betrayed: Aminah

BUKIT MERTAJAM: Former PKR Wanita chief Aminah Abdullah says she quit the party because she felt betrayed after five male PKR leaders ridiculed her at a public function more than two years ago.

One of the five, she said, was state PKR chairman Datuk Zahrain Mohamed Hashim.

Aminah claimed she had recorded the incident, but was not sure whether to release it or not.

“I do not think it is necessary (to reveal it for now).

“If he (Zahrain) throws me a very strong challenge, I will reveal it,” she told reporters at her operations centre in Simpang Tiga, Kubang Ulu here Thursday.

Aminah also claimed she had another “major surprise to announce” when the time was right, adding that it could probably be after the Penanti by-election on May 31.

She said Zahrain had lambasted her and made false allegations on her performance as the then state PKR Wanita chief, in front of the several Wanita division leaders and supreme council members.

She said the incident happened during tea break at a seminar that she had organised on women issues in a hotel in Jawi, South Seberang Prai.

Aminah, who is vying for the Penanti state seat, said she felt terribly humiliated.

“I did not expect them to chide me that way, but I thank God for giving me the wisdom to record the conversation for my own protection.”

She said she recorded conversations, including the recent one with the two PKR leaders Cheah Kah Peng and Peter Lim Eng Nam, because she did not want people “to cause her any trouble later on.”

Aminah, 56, had claimed on Monday that two PKR leaders allegedly offered her the Penang Municipal Council president’s post to withdraw from contesting in the by-election.

If she won, she would be given the Penang Deputy Chief Minister I post to rejoin the party as well as RM80,000 as compensation for what she had spent in preparing for the by-election.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and Election Commission are investigating her claims.

On Zahrain’s allegation that she had not done much when she was state PKR Wanita chief, Aminah asked if he had done enough as the present state chief.

She said she did not have problems with Mansor Othman, who is among the three contenders in the Penanti by-election, when he was state PKR chairman before Zahrain took over.

Aminah claimed she did not want to make personal attacks, but said “Zahrain was the one who first started it.”

“He was the one who first challenged me to show proof over the allegation that two PKR leaders offered me positions and money,” she said.

On PKR’s legal notice demanding she retract her allegations against Cheah and Lim, and to make an apology, Aminah said she received it on Thursday and added that her lawyers would handle the matter.

She sarcastically thanked PKR vice-president Azmin Ali for allegedly calling her Minah Ronggeng (folk dancer) in a ceramah (public address), adding that he had previously advised her against name-calling during elections.

Zahrain, when contacted later, said he did not wish to respond to Aminah’s allegations for now, saying it was a waste of time.

“If she wants to sue me and take me to court, let her do so. But if she says anything out of context (about me), I will, in turn, sue her,” he said.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Transcript of the Aminah CD

BUTTERWORTH: An audio recording purportedly a conversation between Independent candidate Aminah Abdullah and PKR supreme council member Cheah Kah Peng and Peter Lim Eng Nam, revealed there were mentions of a Deputy Chief Minister 1’s post and council president’s post being offered.

However, the post of DCM I was offered if the PKR candidate Mansor Othman was disqualified on nomination Day.

“Kalau Mansor hilang layak, Kak Nah akan disokong penuh oleh PKR untuk lawan, menang kerusi itu, jadi TKM. Itu peluang nipis, tetapi kena kira juga. Malik (state exco member Abdul Malik Abul Kassim) and Maktar (Sungai Bakap state assemblyman Maktar Shapee) tak boleh jadi TKM. (If Mansor is disqualified, Kak Nah will get full support of PKR to fight, win the seat and become DCM. That is a small possibility but must be considered. Both Malik and Mohtar cannot become Deputy Chief Minister.),” the duo allegedly were heard saying this during the conversation involving Aminah and her husband, Mohd Rofi over a friendly discussion lasting more than three hours at her house on May 13. Their conversation was purportedly recorded on a cd.

The second offer of the Seberang Prai Municipal Council president’s post apparently would only materialise, if she withdrew from the contest and rejoined the party and sided with the state PKR leaders and Mansor in their quest to oust Penang PKR leader Datuk Zahrain Mohamed Hashim.

Kalau terima counter offer, MPSP YDP siapa lagi? Kita pi rebut itu jawatan untuk Kak Nah, they said. (If the counter offer is accept, who else will become Seberang Prai Municipal Council president? We will go and grab the post for the Kak Nah).

There were also mention of compensation of RM8,000 if Aminah had to forfeit her deposit in the event she had to withdraw from the contest within three days of the nomination day.

The conversation involving Aminah, her husband Mohd Rofi and two other men also touched on the RM80,000 compensation offer either by Mansor or the party for the by-election.

As they discussed, they had lunch. There were sounds of cock crowing in the background and motorcycles passing by. It was also raining quite heavily at the time.

They also talked about two pretty Chinese newspaper reporters, one of whom who got married recently.

The following are the excerpts of the conversation:

One of the two PKR leaders tells Aminah he wanted to provoke Zahrain:

Datuk Zahrain, saya dengar you dan orang you nak biar Dr Mansor kalah ataupun u nak bertanding di Penanti. Joking lah. Orang kata you macam itu. Tak ada lah (quoting Datuk Zahrain). Bukan saya nak buat Mansor.. adalah Malik. Dia pi cakap kepada Lim Guan Eng ada orang lain mahu tanding, takmahu bagi Mansor tanding.

One of them say: Dr Mansor bagus, tetapi slow...dia lemah, lemah lah Dr Mansor ada bagi tahu saya, mungkin ada tengah orang yang mahu kerajaan Pulau Pinang yang lebih tulus (clean),

Memang tak ada dalam pimpinan Melayu, memang tak ada orang nak lawan Zahrain.

Mohd Rofi: Tak ada orang nak lawan Zahrain, tak ada orang. Kita orang sahaja. (laughter) lebih layak ialah Dr Mansor

One of them say: Kita datang sini bukan untuk bincang Kak Nan boleh menang Mansor tetapi buat analysis bersama. Rugi segi tenaga dan impak kita.

Keputusan akhir kita mahu bagi ajaran kepada PKR negeri Pulau Pinang. Ada satu kumpulan tulin dalam parti, kita terima juga dan bawa perubahan, kita mahu boleh bawa perubahan. Tetapi kalau kak tewas dengan tak cantik, itu pun perubahan dalam parti juga.

Kita cadang macam ini. Kita itu hari cadang kepada Tian Chua and Kah Peng, Tian Chua sokong dan terima. Kita bincang sahaja. Makin hari makin image kak tingkat saat akhir,Kak tarik diri dan beri peluang (Kak Min) wish, goodwill kepada Dr Mansor semoga dia berjaya di pilihan kecil ini, bagi teguran buat baik-baik,jangan lembut-lembut (Kak Mins husband)

Kalau you calun, BN ada calun, mungkin ada calun bebas..last minute Kak Aminah bagi teguran kepada Mansor dan undur Kita akan buat statement you undur diri untuk kepentingan (inaudible) dapat tepukan daripada akar ubi PKR and seluruh penyokong PKR, rakyat PP timing mesti cantik kalau terima package ini.

Lepas itu, lepas kemenangan Dr Mansor buat counter offer balik ke pangkuan PKR, Kak Nah balik punya time macam satu pemimpin memihak kepada Dr Mansor, gang kita, menentang Zahrain

Aminah: Bagaimana kita nak menentang Zahrain. Lim and Kah Peng say: Boleh, boleh, ada plan

Aminah: You tahu kah Anwar Ibrahim sayang sangat dia.

They said: Kita tahu tetapi perlembagaan kita akan bertukar bulan enam ini dimana kita nak tambah satu clause yang menyatakan ketua negeri dimasa depan akan dilantik tetapi mesti disokong oleh majority kebahagian kita control bahagian.

Aminah also then asked to return to PKR to attack from within.

Orang kuat seperti Umno kita dapat tewaskan. Apatah Kah Nah calun bebas, tak ada apa-apa kesan. You kena masuk dalam parti impact dalam, baru dia rasa, kita kerjasama, Kita satu kumpulan, tak mahu orang ambil kesempatan, kita halau keluar..kalau Anwar Ibrahim pun kita boleh marah dan serang dia juga. Kalau kita mahu jatuhkan orang, lebih senang dari di dalam.

They then discussed about chances of Barisan not contesting in Penanti and the possibility of Mansor winning without contest if Barisan, PAS and Aminah withdraw and whether for Aminah to withdraw before or after nomination and that she would lose the deposit then.

One of the two say: Tak apa, itu kita minta parti bagi balik RM8,000 kena bayar, Mohd Rofi quips : RM8 juta (laughter).

They also talk about Aminah going into the contest as insurance in case Mansor is disqualified.

Kalau Mansor hilang layak, Kak Nan akan di sokong penuh oleh PKR untuk lawan, menang kerusi itu, jadi TKM. ..itu peluang nipis, tetapi kena kira juga. Malik and Mohtar cannot possibly be TKM.

Aminah: Mansor itu baik orang, tetapi dia tak cakap banyak, dia punya pr kurang, lagi mahu senyum pun susah Kah Peng: Kalau terima counter offer, MPSP YDP siapa lagi? Kita pi rebut itu jawatan untuk kak Nah.

Aminah: Kah Nan survey juga. Dia orang cakap, apa lah image PKR, sudah taruh Fairus, sekarang bagi dia jatuh pula, ini mahu taruh Dr Mansor, ini siapa orang, kita orang tak kenal.

Kah Peng: Selepas penamaan tengok lah. Kalau one to one, kalau peluang pihak ke Aminah, Aminah terus lawan, kalau peluang u 34-40 sahaja, dia 60, lebih baik, bagi dia, tak payah..dia jimat duit, dia bagi gantirugi kepada pihak kita tetapi persetujuan mesti dibuat sebelum penamaan

Kah Peng: Kalau OK, kita bincang dengan Dr Mansor. Berapa yang you belanjakan di bayar oleh Dr Mansor atau party.

Mohd Rofi: Kita ada bukti. Kita rakamkan masa perhubungan negeri. You pun tak tahu. Kita rakam empat benda.

Kah Peng said even if there is agreement, Aminah must start with her campaign like operations room, banner

Mohd Rofi: Kita semua ada. Kita mahu angkat (symbol) kunci,

Kah Peng: Bila ada persetujuan, berapa yang kamu belanja Dr Mansor atau party akan bayar balik.

When asked about the budget, Mohd Rofi then tells him that they so far spent RM80,000.

They also talk about two possible by-elections in Kedah, about Anwar allegedly offering Fairus the DPM post and their plan to fight Zahrain

Monday, May 25, 2009

PPP state chief: What EGM?

IPOH: Perak PPP chairman Datuk Lee Heng said neither he nor his committee received any notice of the People’s Progressive Party’s extraordinary general meeting on Sunday that “elected” Datuk T. Murugiah as president.

“There were also party outsiders at the EGM that elected Murugiah as ‘so-called’ president,” he claimed at a press conference Monday.

Lee Heng, also PPP deputy president, said he and his committee pledged their full support behind party president M. Kayveas.

“Kayveas has built the party up to what it is today, with half a million members,” he said, urging Murugiah to resign from his senatorship and deputy minister’s post.

On Sunday Murugiah, who had earlier been expelled from the party, was elected “president” by about 1,760 supporters in what they claimed was an EGM.

The members also passed a resolution to reinstate six other members who were sacked along with Murugiah and for a no-confidence vote against Kayveas.

Aminah claims she was offered top posts, RM80,000

BUKIT MERTAJAM: Independent candidate Aminah Abdullah claimed she had been offered the post of Penang Municipal Council president and RM80,000 in compensation if she would withdraw from the May 31 Penanti by-election.

If she did contest and won, she would have been given the Deputy Chief Minister 1 post, she claimed at a press conference at her makeshift election centre in Kubang Ulu here Monday morning.

Aminah said that two “top PKR leaders” had approached her at her home in Jelutong on May 13 to make the offers, which she alleged had come with the blessings of PKR leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Claiming she had as evidence, audio on CD and a video-clip on a handphone, Aminah, 56, said she would be lodging a report with the Election Commission on Tuesday at 11am.

Aminah later made a report at the Central Seberang Prai district police headquarters, saying she feared for her safety.

The Deputy Chief Minister 1 post and Penanti state seat were left vacant by Mohamed Fairus Khairudin earlier this year while he was under investigation by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) for alleged corruption.

The MACC has since cleared him of any wrongdoing, but Fairus said he now wants to further his studies.

Arrayed against Aminah in the Penanti by-election are Penang PKR deputy chairman Mansor Othman, 59, and independents manufacturing manager Nai Khan Ari, 41, and businessman Kamarul Ramizu Idris, 42.

“I have all the evidence on CD and will distribute this to the media soon to tell the people the truth about this man named Anwar Ibrahim,” Aminah said, accompanied by her husband Mohd Rofi and her eldest daughter Hernanie, 25.

She said her family members were witnesses to the meeting between her and the two PKR leaders, and they had recorded the full meeting which had lasted about three hours.

She said the same leaders also met her again twice after that, once more at her home and a third time at an office in Seberang Jaya, within a week.

“The offer was made as they claim that Dr Mansor is a weak and unpopular leader and might lose in the by-election,” she said.

Aminah, the former Penang PKR Wanita chief, first made the allegations last Saturday after filing her papers at the nomination centre.

PKR strategy director Tian Chua scoffed at her allegations, saying that PKR were the favourites to win the by-election.

He said the party would be initiating legal action against Aminah later Monday unless she retracted her statement and apologised for it.

He had previously urged her to also lodge a report with the MACC.

On Monday, Aminah said she would leave it to the Election Commission to take the matter up with the graft-busting agency.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Penanti by-election

BUKIT MERTAJAM: It is a four-cornered fight for the Penanti by-election on May 31.

The candidates were PKR's Mansor Othman and three independents - former Penang PKR Wanita chief Aminah Abdullah, company manager Nai-Khan Ari, 41, and motivational expert Kamarul Ramizu Idris, 42.

Returning officer Roslan Yahaya announced this at noon today.

Nomination papers from independent businessman Mohd Saberi Othman, 49, were not accepted.

When asked, Roslan told reporters that Mohd Saberi had not fulfilled all the conditions required for him to stand as candidate in Penanti but declined to elaborate further.

Attempts to get Mohd Saberi for his comments were unsuccessful.

Earlier, Mohd Saberi had joined the other four candidates in filing his nomination papers at the Youth Skills Development Institute here.

Six objections were raised during the objection period, including one against Kamarul's proposer, who is said to be not from Penanti.

Kamarul has stood as an independent and lost in the Bukit Gantang parliamentary against by-election.

The nomination process for the Penanti by-election was quieter than the other polls held previously.

Although some Pakatan Rakyat supporters have turned up at the nomination centre at the Youth Skills Development Institute here today, there was no taunting and shouting that have marred other by-elections.

However, the police were not taking any chance.

A police helicopter was spotted circling above the area while some 300 personnel have been mobilised to keep watch over the crowds.

The earliest to arrive today was Aminah, who came to the centre at 7.45am.

She was followed by Mohd Saberi and Nai-Kan, then Mansor.

Many of the Pakatan Rakyat leaders have turned up at the centre to give their support to Mansor.

Barisan Nasional has decided on May 18 to sit out on the by-election.

According to the 2008 electoral roll that was updated on April 16, the seat has a total of 15,384 registered voters, including 24 postal voters.

The electorate comprises 72.68% Malays, 24.22% Chinese, 2.39% Indians and 0.71% others.

The Penanti seat fell vacant after Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin quit as assemblyman on April 16 after stepping down as Penang Deputy Chief Minister (DCM) I on April 8.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Muhyiddin: Ahmad Said to remain as Terengganu MB

KUALA TERENGGANU: The Terengganu state government will continue to be helmed by Datuk Ahmad Said as the menteri besar, said Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Muhyiddin, who is also Umno deputy president, said a change of menteri besar was never raised or discussed.

“Who said (there will be a change in the menteri besar)? So far, I have not heard of anything like that,” he said when asked to comment on talks that there would be a change of menteri besar in the state soon.

Muhyiddin, who is also Education Minister, spoke to reporters after launching the national level Teacher’s Day celebration at the Islamic Civilisation Park in Pulau Wan Man Saturday.

There had been talks that several Terengganu Barisan Nasional assemblymen had voiced their dissatisfaction with Ahmad and wanted him to be replaced.

It was speculated that Barisan assemblymen would table a no-confidence vote against Ahmad in the state assembly in April but this did not happen.

However, 10 Barisan assemblymen stayed away from the assembly session on the second day sitting after three of them claimed to have received threats via SMS.

Muhyiddin said he hoped that with his clarification, the political situation in Terengganu would improve because it was more important for Umno and the Barisan to be strong in the state to face the next general election.

“I hope all Umno leaders, including the elected representatives and divisional chairmen, would adopt new approaches to foster greater understanding among themselves.

“The people have given their mandate. We have to focus on developing Terengganu because the state abounds with resources. It garners much revenue and has oil,” he said. -- Bernama

PPP's Murugiah and six party members sacked

KUALA LUMPUR: Senator Datuk T. Murugiah and six others have been expelled from the People’s Progressive Party (PPP) by its disciplinary board for allegedly tarnishing the good name of the party and trying to get it de-registered.

Party president Datuk M. Kayveas said Murugiah, a supreme council member, was sacked for using his deputy minister’s office in the Prime Minister’s Department to organise a press conference for his personal assistant Dr N.A. Shanmuganathan, and making defamatory remarks against the party and its leadership.

“Murugiah used a bankrupt to carry out the defamatory remarks so that the party would not be able to take any legal action against the bankrupt,” he said during tea break at the party’s supreme council meeting Saturday.

He added that Murugiah also threatened the party lawyer and a supreme council member by saying that he would use all his powers to get PPP de-registered.

The others who were expelled were M. Jeyaratnam, Shanmuganathan, K. Tanggaraju, S. Kanesan, S. Saravanan and R. Rajandran.

They can appeal to the supreme council in writing, within 14 days from the date of the decision, Kayveas said.

Earlier, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, when asked if he would intervene in the dispute between Kayveas and Murugiah, said: “I am thinking about it. I have not decided what position to take.”

On a threat by Kayveas to pull out from Barisan Nasional, Najib said anything to do with the ruling coalition would be discussed at its supreme council meeting.

Meanwhile, earlier in IPOH, Murugiah had maintained that “everything was going well” between him and Kayveas.

Asked if he was willing to meet Kayveas over the matter, he said: “He is still my boss, my leader. I respect him as a leader. I am still loyal to him.” However, when pressed if he would meet his president, Murugiah declined comment.

Murugiah, who heads the Public Complaints Bureau, added that his relationship with Kayveas was “still the same” as he still considered the latter as his leader.

He also clarified that he met Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, and not Kayveas, to relate his side of the story after allegations of the money politics broke out.

He said he needed to clarify the matter with Najib because these were serious allegations that would affect the Government and the Cabinet.

Selangor PPP and supporters of Murugiah lashed out at Kayveas, accusing him of corruption and misusing his powers.

Disgruntled state exco members said they would call for an emergency general meeting next week and table a motion of no-confidence against Kayveas and Selangor PPP chairman Datuk Maglin D’Cruz.

“We are doing this because of his (Kayveas’) actions to sack members without consulting the disciplinary board as well Maglin’s negligence towards the members,” said PPP Selayang branch chairman, K. Tanggaraju in a press conference at Brickfields.

There were nine out of 18 Selangor PPP exco members who were present at the press conference but Tanggaraju assured that there are 12 in total who will support the motion of no confidence against Kayveas.

It also learnt that Dr. Shanmuganathan and Selangor PPP members filed a police report against Kayveas later today and requested MACC and ROS to investigate the party’s accounts.

Eleven more immigrants from Juru depot admitted for leptospirosis

GEORGE TOWN: Eleven more illegal immigrants from the Juru detention centre were admitted to Bukit Mertajam Hospital with leptospirosis on Friday.

State Exco for Health and Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Phee Boon Poh said they were sent to hospital after coming down with fever.

Thirteen out of the earlier 26 detainees infected with leptospirosis, have been discharged from the Bukit Mertajam Hospital, he said, adding that now 22 detainees remained at the hospital while another two are at the Seberang Jaya Hospital.

“The disease has been contained. The people should not panic as the outbreak was only confined to the centre. I assure the neighbourhood that there is nothing to be scared of. We believe the problem will die down in one or two days,” he said.

A 21-year-old detainee from Myanmar died of the bacterial disease on Tuesday after he was being admitted to the Bukit Mertajam Hospital on May 7.

Phee said the state health department has checked the water sources, the food and the handlers, as well as carried out fumigation, disinfection and extermination of rodents at all four blocks of the centre.

“When the disease first hit, the wardens, due to lack of medical knowledge, thought it was a normal everyday sickness and an isolated case. After the death of the first patient, the department moved in and acted quickly,” he said.

Leptospirosis outbreaks are usually caused by exposure to water contaminated with the urine of infected animals, such as rodents, cattle, pigs, horses, dogs and wild animals.

People become infected through eating, drinking or contact with urine-contaminated water, food or soil. It does not spread from human to human.

Bukit Tengah assemblyman Ong Chin Wen said residents in the nearby Perkampungan Juru were worried that the disease might spread to the neighbouring areas.

“We hope the state health department and Seberang Prai Municipal Council will ensure the depot is thoroughly cleaned and closely monitored to contain the disease,” he said.

Perkampungan Juru Village Security and Development Committee chairman Chiam Thcek Owing, 49, said it was time for the centre to be relocated elsewhere because the nearest residential area was about 30m from the camp.

“SJK(C) True Light is also just behind the camp. We are not prejudiced toward the detainees, but we fear of any outbreak that may affect our densely populated area,” he said.

A (H1N1): Second confirmed case in Malaysia

PUTRAJAYA: A second Malaysian has been confirmed with the Influenza A (H1N1) virus at the Penang Hospital, said Health Ministry deputy director-general Datuk Dr Ramlee Rahmat.

Dr Ramlee said the patient, a female student in the United States, was admitted after she sought treatment for fever at the Penang Hospital on Friday evening and it was found that she had been travelling on the same flight as the first patient.

As in the first case, she too only developed a fever after returning home and the results of medical test by the Medical Research Institute yesterday morning confirmed she had the influenza, he said.

He said she was one of 16 suspected A(H1N1) patients warded at various hospital around the country as at yesterday evening but 12 others had been tested negative while the remainder three were still waiting for results.

The other suspected patients, he said, were warded at the Sungai Buloh Hospital (9), Tengku Fauziah Hospital in Perlis (2), Malacca Hospital (2), Penang Hospital (1) and Sultan Aminah Hospital in Johor (1).

Dr Ramlee said the latest patient was part of a group of four friends, including the 21-year-old confirmed with the virus at the Sungai Buloh Hospital on Friday, who had travelled on the MH 091 flight from Newark, United States and arrived at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) on Wednesday morning.

The two other friends and the family members of the female student, he said, had been placed under quarantine at home but none showed signs of the symptoms linked to the H1N1.

“Both the patients confirmed with the influenza virus are receiving treatment and are being closely monitored but they no longer have any fever and are in stable condition,” he told a press conference here.

He said the ministry had also placed under quarantine at home staff at a private clinic who came into contact with the first patient when he sought initial treatment there but they and the five family members of the first patient, who are also under quarantine at home, were healthy.

Dr Ramlee also said that 81 Malaysians and 38 foreigners of the total 192 passengers and crew members on board flight MH091, were still in Malaysia and their contact details obtained from the flight manifest had been sent to the respective state health departments so they be contacted and their conditions monitored.

As for the remainder 73 passengers, he said, their details would be handed over to the World Health Organisation (WHO) to be forwarded to the respective countries they had travelled to.

“I also want to thank 35 passengers on the flight who called us after the first case was highlighted through media reports and we have forwarded their details to the respective state health departments to be quarantined at home and monitored,” he said.

Health officials will visit all those under quarantine at home twice daily to offer assistance since those affected cannot leave their homes for seven days to even perform simple tasks like going to the market, he said.

He said the ministry also identified three passengers from the same flight, including a Malaysian, who were to leave Malaysia on Friday and placed them under quarantine at the Sungai Buloh Hospital since they had checked out of their hotel rooms and had no where else to stay. They will be allowed to continue their journey on May 20.

Asked is the ministry would take action against any flight passengers who tried to avoid being contacted, Dr Ramlee said it could take legal action under the Infectious Disease Control Act 1988 but hoped those involved would act responsibly by cooperating with the efforts to control the disease.

On whether it was advisable to wear masks in public due to the outbreaks of diseases like A(H1N1) and meningitis, he said it was more sensible for those coughing, sneezing or having running nose to wear masks and avoid infecting others since anyone within a metre of patients with A (H1N1) was in danger of being infected.

He also reiterated the ministry call for people not to panic after the second case surfaced as the detection of the patient proved the health authorities were on top of things and had the problem under control.

“We have been conducting non-stop screening of travellers coming from countries where there are A (H1N1) cases and have screened 88,644 since WHO issued an alert; yesterday alone we screened 7,528 passengers comprising 400 coming in by sea, 773 by land and the rest by air,” he said.

Malaysia Airlines has located and grounded its crew members who were on flight MH091 from the United States, said its director of operations Datuk Tajuden Abu Bakar.

He said the 15 crew members had been taken off the roster for a seven-day home quarantine as a precautionary measure.

“Malaysia Airlines confirms that the flight MH091 from Newark arriving at KL International Airport on May 13 at 7.15am was on transit at Arlanda, Stockholm where 80 passengers disembarked.

“From Arlanda, 199 people including 184 passengers and 15 crew members arrived in Kuala Lumpur,” he said, adding that the national carrier has since been in contact with the Arlanda authorities to provide them with the passenger list for monitoring purposes.

“Malaysia Airlines would like to reiterate that it will continue to monitor the situation closely and co-operate with the Health Ministry and relevant authorities to ensure all preventive and control measures are in place,” he said. MAS has also clarified that none of its pilots were warded as reported yesterday.

Meanwhile, Malaysian Medical Association president Datuk Dr Khoo Kah Lin urged Malaysians not to panic with the confirmed cases of A(H1N1) as the Health Ministry is well prepared and has taken the right measures from the very beginning.

He said the ministry’s past experiences with SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) have equipped it well to deal with the present situation.

“The Government is doing its part in trying to contain the spread of Influenza A (H1N1) by screening passengers at airports, putting in place quarantine procedures and treatment of proven cases with the relevant anti viral,” he said in a statement.

He added that although the virus is not as virulent as first expected, and recovery is the norm, the public is advised to abide by the ministry’s guideline and to co-operate with the authorities to help contain the disease.

“Members of the public with flu-like symptoms such as fever, body aches and cough should see a doctor immediately especially if they fall under the high risk group such as young children, the elderly and those who have chronic diseases.

“The MMA has already sent out the ministry’s diagnostic guidelines to its branches to disseminate the information amongst all its members. Doctors are advised to keep a high index of suspicion and to report suspicious cases to the relevant authorities,” he said.

He added that doctors are also advised to educate their patients as to the risks, the precautions to take and how to seek help without causing alarm.

All passengers on the said Malaysia Airlines flight are urged to contact the Health Ministry at 03-8881 0200 or 03-8881 0300. They could also go to any hospital, clinic or health office for a follow-up action

Friday, May 15, 2009

Malaysia confirms first case of A(H1N1) flu

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia on Friday confirmed its first case of the A(H1N1) flu in a 21-year-old student who returned from the United States on Wednesday morning.

All passengers on the Malaysia Airlines flight MH091 from Newark on Wednesday are urged to contact the Health Ministry by calling 03-88810200 or 03-88810300

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the case made Malaysia the 36th country to be affected by the virus.

Health officers at the Sungai Buloh Hospital on high alert after the first A (H1N1) flu case found in a 21-year-old student who returned from the United States on Wednesday morning.

“Malaysia is now on high alert,” said Liow, who is in London now, enroute to Geneva, for a World Health Organisation meeting. He added he would return earlier than his scheduled return next Friday.

Liow said Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha who is now the acting Health Minister would hold a press conference with the deputy health director general Datuk Dr Ramlee Rahmat at Putra Jaya at 3pm

Meanwhile, A statement by the Health Ministry's director-general, Dr. Ismail Merican, said the young man was hospitalised on Thursday for fever, sore throat and body aches.

Tests confirmed that he was infected with the A(H1N1) virus, the statement said. He is receiving anti-viral treatment and was in stable condition, it said.

Ismail said the ministry had contacted members of his family but they have not been placed under quarantine.

Ismail said his department was taking steps to protect public health and that there was no reason to panic.

Meanwhile, Bernama reported that a man from Bukit Mertajam held under observation at the isolation ward of the Penang Hospital has been declared free of Influenza A (H1N1).

"We just got a report that the blood test on the 26-year-old man was negative," State Health, Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said when contacted by Bernama Friday.

A test on a sample of his blood had been sent to Kuala Lumpur.

The man was kept for observation Thursday after he was found to have fever and symptoms similar to those of Influenza A (H1N1) on his return from the United States.

Two weeks ago, a New Zealand tourist was admitted to the isolation ward of the hospital for suspected Influenza A (H1N1) but a blood test also showed up negative.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Perak State Election Does Not Have To Happen - Najib

PUTRAJAYA, May 14 (Bernama) -- A fresh state election is only one of the options to resolve the Perak political crisis and not something that has to happen, said Dato' Sri Najib Razak.

The prime minister said it was up to the Sultan of Perak Sultan Azlan to decide whether a fresh election should be held for Perak.

Speaking to reporters after attending the public sector's Workers Day assembly here, Najib said Barisan Nasional was not afraid of facing any eventuality, including a fresh state election, if that was the decision.

"We are ready to face the people," he said.

Najib was asked about the possibility of another election for Perak to end the current political crisis in the state.

On Monday, the High Court ruled that Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin is the rightful Menteri Besar after finding that the post could only be deemed vacant through a vote of no-confidence in the state assembly.

But Datuk Zambry Abd Kadir filed an appeal against the decision in the Court of Appeal, allowing him to remain as Menteri Besar while waiting for the decision on the appeal case.

On the Barisan Nasional Convention which was supposed to be held early this year, Najib said it would be held later after some important matters had been sorted out.

On the position of Senator Datuk T. Murugiah as Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department following the crisis in the People's Progressive Party (PPP), he said a decision had not been made.

"We have to first look at the situation and developments," he said.


Pakatan willing to meet BN over Perak: Anwar

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said the Pakatan Rakyat alliance was willing and ready to meet Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to resolve the Perak political crisis.

While stressing that Pakatan’s position on the need to call for fresh state elections was clear, he said that Pakatan was willing to “meet with Barisan Nasional halfway.”

Earlier Thursday, Najib claimed that Barisan did not fear fresh elections in Perak but said any such decision was up to the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah.

He added that fresh state elections was only one of the options open to resolve the Perak political crisis and not “something that has to happen

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Meningitis: Seven more warded, total now 39

KUALA LUMPUR: The number of people hospitalised with suspected meningitis in Malacca Hospital rose to 38 on Tuesday from 31 the day before.

This brings the number hospitalised nationwide to 39. One trainee is hospitalised in Kepala Batas.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said that four of the new patients who developed symptoms were trainees who had been quarantined at the Road Transport Department (JPJ) academy hostel in Tiang Dua, Malacca.

However, two of the new patients were radiographers and another was the fiancee of one of the trainees, he said.

All of them were in the isolation ward while the two trainees in Intensive Care Unit were now able to walk.

The trainee hospitalised in Kepala Batas is in stable condition.

One of the trainees, who returned on holiday to Kelantan, was hospitalised there with fever on May 1 and died on May 4, triggering the quarantine of all the trainees at the academy.

Liow said laboratory tests revealed that the bacteria causing the meningitis was meningococcus.

“The source of infection has not been discovered and we are working hard to find the carrier,” he said Tuesday after the International Nurses Day celebration.

On whether the family members of the fiancee of one of the trainees needed to be quarantined, Liow said the Ministry would find out if they had been in contact.

“If the fiancee was not in contact with the family, there was no need for them to be quarantined,” he said.

On the A(H1N1) influenza, Liow said with more countries being affected, the pressure on Malaysia was great in keeping its borders in check.

“We must be prepared to face this outbreak with real care,” he said adding that the Government had stocked up enough Tamiflu in the event the flu hit Malaysia.

Thailand has already detected one case of the flu.

Liow also said that Malaysia must brace itself for a long term battle with the A(H1N1) infection.

On whether pigs should be vaccinated, Liow said the Ministry left it to the Veterinerary Department to decide.

Related stories:

Perak crisis: Stay of execution granted; Zambry to resume duties

:45pm Nizar says that the stay of execution granted by the Court of Appeal raises more questions than answers in relation to the crisis in Perak

3:45pm Senior state executive councillor Ngeh Koo Ham says that the suspension of the state secretary and state legal adviser was valid as the decision was made before the stay order was granted to Dr Zambry.

2:45pm Nizar escorted out of the state secretariat building. He is giving a press conference now.

2:30pm Dr Zambry said he would respect the Court of Appeal’s stay of execution and would resume duties as Perak MB. He urged Nizar to show the same respect.

He also said that all decisions made by the Barisan state government remained as status quo, and lifted the suspension -- served earlier Tuesday -- on the state secretary and state legal adviser.

1:15pm The Court of Appeal grants Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir his application for a stay of execution on the KL High Court ruling Monday that declared Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin the righful mentri besar of Perak. Essentially, it might mean Dr Zambry is mentri besar until his appeal is heard.

12:30pm Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir, whose three-month tenure as mentri besar was ruled illegitimate by the KL High Court on Monday, has likened himself to Nelson Mandela and Mahatma Gandhi in a blog entry.

12:15pm At the press conference at the Ipoh state secretariat building, senior exco member Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham also says that Dr Zambry and the six state exco members he appointed should return the salaries they have drawn over the past three months.

An aid for the Perak Mentri Besar Amran Harun showing the official letter sent to the palace official at Istana Kinta. Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin, in the letter, is requesting an audience with the Sultan for the purpose of dissolving the state assembly.

12:05pm At the press conference at the Ipoh state secretariat building, senior exco member Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham declared the tumultous May 7 Assembly sitting as invalid, and the March 3 “under the tree” sitting as valid.

He said the Assembly automatically dissolves on Sept 3 if there are no more sittings.

The May 7 sitting saw Speaker V. Sivakumar manhandled out of the Dewan and Barisan's Datuk R. Ganesan declared the "new" Speaker.

The Pakatan state government also said it would implement 10 policies and matters immediately, saying that state development was behind by three months.

11:20am Pakatan press conference at the state secretariat building in Ipoh delayed because the press was initially barred from entering the building. Press conference is now set to begin.

11:00am Umno veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah urges the Sultan of Perak to dissolve the Assembly. See here.

9:25am Most of the FRU trucks and police vehicles leave the state secretariat building, leaving a handful behind. Pakatan reps say a press conference will be held at 11am.

9:20am Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir files appeal against Kuala Lumpur High Court ruling yesterday that Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin is the valid Perak Mentri Besar. The appeal was filed at the KL High Court registry.

He also filed a stay application on Monday’s ruling at the Court of Appeal. His lawyers are asking that the appeal be heard today itself.

The hearing for the stay application will be heard at about 11:30am at the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya.

8:45am Nizar’s aide Amran Harun leaves the palace after showing members of the media a copy of the letter to the palace, with the royal seal stamped on it.

8:20am Nizar’s aide Amran Harun, delivers letter informing palace of Nizar’s wish for an audience with the Raja Muda to seek his royal consent to dissolve the Assembly.

8:15am Suspension letters served to State Secretary Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Hashim and State Legal Adviser Datuk Ahmad Kamal Md Shahid.

7:45am Nizar seen leaving the building in his official car for Istana Iskandariah, Kuala Kangsar, for a royal investiture ceremony by the Raja Muda of Perak, Raja Nazrin Shah. He was accompanied by his wife.

7:40am Pakatan exco members find most of the offices locked. The KL High Court had instructed Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir and his exco members to vacate the offices on Monday.

7:25am Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin and his entourage head for the state secretariat building, where there is heavy police and FRU presence. They are temporarily denied entry. Nizar starts reciting prayers.

7:15am Pakatan Rakyat state executive councillors start gathering at the so-called “democracy tree” where the March 3 “under the tree” Assembly sitting took, to await reinstated Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin.

IPOH: Reinstated Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin left from the state secretariat building here at 7:45am Tuesday for Istana Iskandariah in Kuala Kangsar for a royal investiture ceremony.

He is expected to seek royal consent from the Raja Muda of Perak, Raja Nazrin Shah, to dissolve the State Legislative Assembly to pave the way for fresh state elections.

His aide Amran Harun, delivered a formal letter informing the palace of Nizar’s wish for an audience with the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah, to seek his royal consent to dissolve the Assembly. The letter was delivered at 8:20am.

Pakatan Rakyat state executive councillors had started gathering at the so-called “democracy tree” where the March 3 “under the tree” Assembly sitting took place as early as 7:30am.

Nizar arrived at the state secretariat building, where the Mentri Besar’s office is located, at about 7:25am.

He was accompanied by his eight state executive councillors, led by senior exco member Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham and state assembly speaker V. Sivakumar, who had arrived at 7:10am. Also accompanying them was Ipoh Barat Member of Parliament M. Kulasegaran.

The building was heavily guarded by Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) personnel, with some in riot gear.

Nizar and his entourage were momentarily stopped outside the gate when they tried to enter the compound. As the police tried to inform Nizar that only his exco members, the Speaker and him would be allowed entry, Nizar started reciting prayers.

They were then allowed in, but members of the media were prevented by the police and security personnel from advancing beyond the gate.

According to some witnesses, the police had told Nizar that they were acting under the instructions of State Secretary Datuk Dr Abdul Rahman Hashim.

Nizar, who was declared the rightful mentri besar by the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Monday, had actually suspended Abdul Rahman, although the letter of suspension had not been served yet.

Suspension letters were served to both Abdul Rahman and State Legal Adviser Datuk Ahmad Kamal Md Shahid at about 8:15am.

On Monday, High Court (Appellate and Special Powers) judge Justice Abdul Aziz Abdul Rahim had granted a declaratory relief to Nizar that he is still and was mentri besar at all material times.

The court, which issued a declaratory relief that Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir had no right to occupy the office of Perak Mentri Besar, also ordered him to show cause and give information under what policy, power or authority he allegedly held office and exercised the responsibilities, functions and duties as mentri besar.

Petrol price: RON97 to cost 20sen more

PUTRAJAYA: The RON97 petrol will be sold at RM2 per liter effective Sept 1, which is 20 sen more than its current selling price once RON95 is available nationwide.

The RON97 will be sold as a premium petrol product while RON92, the cheapest petrol currently available, will be removed from the market.

The RON95 - to be sold at RM1.75 - would be available to consumers in stages effective Wednesday and all petrol stations nationwide would sell the product by Sept 1, said Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

“By Sept 1, RON97 will be the alternative petrol and a premium product.

Instead, the RON95 petrol will be the choice petrol for consumers and be rest assured, the product is of high quality and is good enough to be filled into even luxury and high-powered cars,” he said.

Ismail Sabri was speaking to reporters after the soft-launch of RON95 petrol here yesterday.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak is expected to launch the nationwide sale of the petrol in September.

Ismail Sabri said the decision to phase out the RM1.70 per liter RON92 would not affect consumers as statistics show that only 5% to 10% of vehicle owners use the petrol, adding by paying only 5 sen a liter more, consumers would get to enjoy better quality petrol.

“I am pleased that petrol companies and the automotive industry players are supportive of the idea of having RON95 in the market.

What we provide for our consumers is much better than what is being enjoyed by others including those the United States, Japan and Europe,” he added.

He said at RM1.75 per litre, the government has to fork out 3 sen in subsidy for RON95 while a subsidy of 6 sen is paid for every liter of RON97, adding it could not be determined yet if there would be revenue for the government when RON97 be sold at RM2 as it all depend of the global petrol price.

“If it (petrol price) remains low, we can enjoy a bit of revenue but if it goes up higher, we have to subsidise more because the government has already pre-determined the selling price,” he said.

Ismail Sabri said the government, through his ministry has implemented various programmes to help the rakyat cushion the effect of an inrease in cost of living, including allocating RM812 million to kick off projects such as distribution of essential goods such as rice, cooking oil, sugar, flour and liquified petroleum gas (LPG).

Monday, May 11, 2009

Dissolve state assembly, Ku Li urges Sultan

KOTA BARU: Umno veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah has urged the Sultan of Perak to dissolve the Assembly to prevent the political imbroglio in the state from spiralling out of control.

In a blog posting on Monday, he noted that he had written on Feb 7 that Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Nizar Jamaluddin was still the legal mentri besar despite the takeover by Barisan Nasional.

He had said then that according to the state constitution, Nizar was the mentri besar until he resigned of his own accord or was removed by a vote of no confidence in a formal sitting of the Assembly.

The Perak constitution makes no provision for his removal by any other means, including by petitions or instructions from any other authority, he had written then.

“Today, after three months and yet more shameful scenes, the High Court affirmed the same elementary principle, and held that Nizar has been and remains the mentri besar,” Tengku Razaleigh wrote on Monday,

The High Court also ordered Datuk Seri Zambry Abdul Kadir and his executive officers to vacate their offices, and rejected an application from Zambry for a stay of proceedings pending an appeal.

Tengku Razaleigh urged the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah, to dissolve the Assembly.

“This is the decent thing to do, but also the only way out of a crisis which has already spiralled out of Perak, damaged the rule of law, compromised the judiciary, the police and the state civil service, and damaged the monarchy in public opinion,” he said.

He said the Dr Zambry’s administration had been illegitimate all along and all decisions and contracts were made without legal status.

“The cascade of illegalities we warned of must now be unwound painfully. This includes the deplorable events of May 7 in Ipoh. It means the resolution to replace the Speaker was brought by an illegal state government,” he added.

In his no holds barred style, Tengku Razaleigh also said that the monarchy itself has been embarrassed by this episode, as well as by “a systematic programme by some to inflame this issue into one of race and treason.”

“Such attempts only hurt the institutions they claim to protect, and they hurt Umno and Barisan Nasional.

“The real issue has always been the Constitution and the Rule of Law, and the monarchy is protected in its role of upholding the primacy of the Constitution.

“Umno is not well served by leaders who place short-term political objectives above the Constitution,” he added.

Cops obtain warrant of arrest against Ahmad Ramzi

KUALA TERENGGANU: Terengganu police have obtained a warrant of arrest against the former political secretary of ex-mentri besar Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh after he failed to show up and assist in investigations.

Datuk Dr Ahmad Ramzi Mohamad Zubir had been given three days last Friday to come forward to facilitate the probe into an SMS death threat sent to three Barisan Nasional assemblymen on April 14.

He was the Barisan candidate for the Marang parliamentary constituency in last year’s general election, losing to PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang.

State deputy police chief Senior Asst Comm II Hamzah Mohd Jamil said that police were keen to record Dr Ahmad Ramzi’s statement on the SMS.

He said police had visited Dr Ahmad Ramzi’s homes in Kuala Lumpur and here but were unable to locate him.

The SMS received by the three assemblymen – Datuk Rosol Wahid (Ajil), Abdul Halim Jusoh (Permaisuri) and Zakaria Abdullah (Paka) – caused a furore when they and seven other representatives stayed away from the second day of the state legislative assembly proceedings on April 16.

Hot, hot, hot till September

KUALA LUMPUR: Temperatures have been rising all over the country, with Klang Valley (Subang) recording 35.6°C last Friday.

Outside the Klang Valley, Pahang (Batu Embun) experienced the hottest temperature last Thursday at 36.2°C.

The Meteorological Department said the hot and generally dry spell was expected to persist until September.

Department chief assistant director (central forecast office) Ahmad Zaki Mohamad Saad said the weather pattern was a usual phenomenon in the country.

He said that April and May were the hottest months according to climatology studies.

“The change of wind direction during the inter-monsoon season last month has caused the weather to be drier,’’ he said.

Cool respite: Visitors to Sunway Lagoon splashing each other to cool off from the searing heat at a pool.

Ahmad Zaki said the country would experience the South-West monsoon from mid-May to September which usually brought a dry spell, he said.

He said although humid weather was forecast during the day, occasional rain and thunderstorms could be expected.

The maximum temperature is expected to range from 30.7°C to 34.1°C

Mano: I am going to sue

SHAH ALAM: Kota Alam Shah assemblyman M. Manoharan said he would be filing an RM100mil suit against the Federal Government, the Home Minister and others over his 17-month detention under the Internal Security Act.

The suit will also name the commander of the Kamunting detention centre, the Inspector-General of Police and the Attorney-General, he said outside the Selangor State Assembly Monday.

Manoharan, who was freed over the weekend, said the detention was unlawful and had the deprived Kota Alam Sham constituents of their elected representative.

The legal adviser to the now outlawed Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) movement was detained with other Hindraf leaders in November, 2007. He ran for the state seat in the 12th general election in March last year while in detention.

Manoharan said that he would not be complying with most of the conditions imposed upon him upon his release from the ISA.

Selangor Speaker Teng Chang Khim, who was with him at the press conference at the state secretariat building here Monday, said that the conditions imposed upon Manoharan were not legally binding.

He added that was no restriction order against the assemblyman either.

“Don’t play with us, we know the law,” said Teng.

No ‘Speaker vs Speaker’ face-off

IPOH: The much anticipated second face-off between ousted Perak Assembly Speaker V. Sivakumar and his successor Datuk R. Ganesan at the State Secretariat building failed to materialise.

Sivakumar, who said last Friday that he would still report for duty, did not turn up on Monday.

Pressmen had started to gather at the building as early as 9am but were later told by Perak DAP chairman Datuk Ngeh Koo Ham that Sivakumar would not be turning up at the office.

Ngeh said the Tronoh assemblyman would not be turning up at the office for security reasons.

He said Sivakumar was asked to stay away to avoid a repeat of last Thursday’s pandemonium in the Assembly.

Ngeh said Sivakumar’s absence from the State Secretariat building Monday did not mean Pakatan Rakyat recognised Ganesan as the new Speaker.

Ganesan arrived at the State Secretariat building at 9.50am to pay a courtesy call on Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir.

He said he was not in a hurry to move into the Speaker’s office as he wanted to give time for Sivakumar to pack his things.

Ganesan said he would direct the building administration to take necessary steps if Sivakumar refused to vacate the office.

Asked whether he should get a declaration that he is the legally elected speaker, Ganesan retorted:

“Why should I? I have no doubt I was legally elected.”

Nizar is rightful MB: High Court

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court here ruled rule on Monday that Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin is the rightful Perak Mentri Besar, and not Barisan Nasional’s Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir.

In an immediate response, Zambry said he would apply for a stay pending appeal. This was rejected by the court.

Nizar left the courtroom immediately after a press conference to travel to Ipoh where he will seek an audience with the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah, to get his consent to dissolve the Assembly and call for fresh state elections.

In his ruling Monday, Justice Abdul Aziz Abd Rahim said that a new mentri besar could not be appointed as the office had not been vacated.

He said a mentri besar can only be dismissed by a vote of no confidence, and upheld the Stephen Kalong Ningkan ruling.

He noted that the Perak State Legislative did not hold a vote of no confidence.

In 1966, Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Stephen Kalong Ningkan was ousted when the state governor showed him a letter of no confidence issued by 21 out of 42 legislators and asked Ningkan to resign.

Ningkan refused, saying the letters were not tantamount to a vote of no confidence in the state legislative assembly. He was sacked by the governor but eventually reinstated by the Borneo High Court, which saw the necessity of a formal vote of no confidence.

According to the Nutgraph, the judge ruled ruled that the governor can only dismiss the chief minister when both these conditions are satisfied:

(a) The chief minister has lost the confidence of the House, and

(b) The chief minister has refused to resign and failed to advise a dissolution.

Nizar had filed for a judicial review on Feb 13, seeking a declaration that he is the rightful mentri besar of Perak and an injunction to bar Dr Zambry from discharging his duties as the mentri besar.

On March 6, Justice Lau Bee Lan had ruled that there were constitutional issues involving the interpretation of Article 16 (6) of the Perak Constitution and later referred four consitutional questions to the Federal Court for determination.

However, on March 23, the Federal Court ruled that the case of who the rightful mentri besar is should be heard by the High Court.

Nizar’s lead counsel Sulaiman Abdullah, in wrapping up his submissions last week, said the Constitution was the “genius of the Malaysian people”, adding that the court had a duty to uphold it. Over the last few days, he had submitted that the Sultan, while granted powers in the Perak Constitution to appoint a mentri besar, could not dismiss him.

The only way Nizar could be dismissed, he said, was through a vote of no-confidence in the House.

He also said that a mentri besar could request for the State Assembly to be dissolved in the middle of a term without losing the confidence of the majority of the House.

Dr Zambry’s lawyer Datuk Cecil Abraham, however, argued that Nizar went by Article 16(6) of the Perak Constitution when he sought an audience with the Sultan – this article specifically provides for the mentri besar to request for a dissolution when he has lost the confidence of the majority in the House.

Under the article, Nizar is required to tender the resignation of his executive councillors when his request was rejected, he said

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Perak showdown: Court order bars gatherings within 500m

IPOH: The police have obtained a court order to stop people from gathering within 500m of the state secretariat building during the State Assembly sitting on Thursday.

Perak police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Zulkifli Abdullah said the magistrate’s court here granted the ex-parte injunction to Ipoh OCPD Asst Comm Azisman Alias on Wednesday.

Named as respondents in the application were members and supporters of PKR, DAP, PAS and Barisan Nasional, and members of the public.

According to the injunction granted under Section 98 of the Criminal Procedure Code, all respondents were prohibited and warned not to be present or take part in any gathering within a 500m radius of the building’s gates.

DCP Zulkifli said copies of the injunction would be put up in areas surrounding the building.

“We want people to know so that they can avoid going to these restricted areas if unnecessary,” he said during a press conference.

He, however, assured those working or studying in the restricted areas that they would be allowed into the area by the police.

“This will continue until the State Assembly sitting is adjourned,” he added.

Prior to obtaining the injunction, police had asked political party leaders to advise their supporters to stay away from the building.

“I would like to remind the people that they are not allowed to hold gatherings anywhere without police permits,” he said, noting that to date, police had not received any applications for such permits.

Asked how many police would be on duty, he said: “We have enough manpower.”

Snatch theft: Another pregnant woman killed

KOTA BARU: A woman who was four months’ pregnant died after a run-in with snatch thieves here, just days following a similar incident in Johor Baru which also saw the deaths of a pregnant woman and her unborn child.

In the 10:50am incident on Wednesday, Saripah Mohd Nor, 34, of Kampung Kok Bedullah, Tumpat here was riding on her motorcyle on a busy road along Kampung Padang Raja, Melor, Ketereh when two men came up behind her on another motorcyle.

One of them tried to snatch her handbag, which was slung around her neck. The tussle caused her to fall off her motorbike and she was hit by a passing car. She and her four-month-old foetus died on the spot.

The mother of five was on her way to Bachok where her estranged husband Mat Zani Awang, 39, is living.

Kota Baru OCPD Assistant Comm Zahruddin Abdullah said Saripah had suffered head, hand and leg injuries.

Police who were on the scene within minutes of the incident, believe the two suspects are in their 20s.

“We have compiled witnesses accounts, including that of the driver of the car who lodged a police report.

“I want to appeal to anyone with any information to come forward and assist us in solving this case,” he told reporters at a press conference at the district police station here Wednesday.

ACP Zahruddin said that Saripah’s body was sent to the Raja Perempuan Zainab Hospital for a post-mortem before her remains were released to her next of kin.

He said the case was being investigated under Section 304 of the Penal Code, and the perpetrators, if found guilty, could be jailed for up to two years and fined or both.

Local resident Zakaria Yaakub, 45, said witnesses who saw the incident had tried to apprehend the suspects but to no avail.

In Tumpat, Saripah’s mother Hashimah Hussin, 54, said she was deeply saddened by the incident, especially since Saripah was in the process of a divorce.

“Her last words to me, before she left for her husband’s home in Bachok, was for me to care of three-year-old Siti Najwa, her youngest daughter.

“Lately, she has always been telling me to take care of all her children if anything were to happen to her,” Hashimah said.

“She was on her way to her husband’s house to fetch her son Mohd Shawal Nabil, eight -- the other three children are living with her husband,” she said at her home here.

Hashimah said Saripah had been living with her for the past two weeks and had separated from her husband.

Saripah was buried at the Kampung Kok Bedullah Muslim cemetery later Wednesday.

Bar Council slams arrest of Bersih activist

PETALING JAYA: The Bar Council has criticised the manner in which political activist Wong Chin Huat was arrested and called for his release immediately.

“The arrest does not bode well for the Prime Minister’s promise of openness and respect for the people. Healthy and open debates on public concern issues must be permitted,” said council president Ragunath Kesavan in a press statement Wednesday.

Wong, a representative of the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih), was arrested on Tuesday night apparently over a press conference he held earlier in which he urged the public to wear black in protest against the Perak state government takeover.

He has been remanded until Friday.

Ragunath also said that the council is concerned that the police have resorted to the Sedition Act yet again “to stifle public opinions that are unfavourable to the ruling government.”

The Bar Council said that “repressive legislation such as the Sedition Act is an affront to democracy” and called for the Government to repeal the Act, or in the meantime, refrain from using it.

Dr M: Ruler cannot remove head of govt

PUTRAJAYA: The state’s ruler cannot remove the head of government in Perak if provisions under the state constitution are the same as those under the Federal Constitution, said former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

He said the Federal Constitution stated clearly that the monarch could only decide on whether or not to appoint an individual as the prime minister but did not have the power to remove the premier.

The prime minister can only be removed through a vote of no confidence in Parliament.

“I think the provisions in the Federal Constitution should apply to Perak but I do not know (the Perak state constitution) and if Perak is different then I stand corrected,” he told a press conference after delivering his keynote address on The Role of the Executive, Legislative, Judiciary and Constitutional Monarchy at the ninth Perdana Discourse Series here Wednesday.

Asked if he thought there had been any abuse of the system in the removal of former Perak mentri besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin by the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Azlan Shah, he said the matter had been referred to the courts, and the courts should be allowed to decide.

Dr Mahathir said he also felt that Barisan Nasional had rushed into taking over the Perak state government when it should have taken the time to consider the decision properly before acting.

“They may have been doing the right thing but it was still a little bit hasty and when we are in too much of a hurry we always make mistakes. In any situation, always give yourself time to think,” he said.

On whether fresh elections should be held to allow the people to decide on the government in Perak, he said, it was not a matter for him to decide and people would have the chance to make the decision whenever elections were held.

“They (voters) can also sell their votes for only RM200 but they should remember that they are betraying their country and the future of their children and grandchildren,” he said.

On whether some civil servants had also overstepped their bounds when making decisions related to the state government, he said he was not sure if it were the civil servants or the legislative body that made the decisions.

The civil servants, he said, could have been just executing orders given to them.

However, Dr Mahathir also hit out at blogs that attacked the Sultan of Perak. He said that had been no abuse of power.

It was the former premier who clipped the powers of the royals during his tenure, with amendments to the Constitution that removed their immunity to being sued in their personal capacity.

“Having made the law, it is easy for people to blame the chap who made the law (allowing rulers to be sued), but the law was not made to sue the Sultan politically,” he said.

Swine flu records 1,883 cases with 31 deaths

UNITED NATIONS: The number of cases of people being infected with Influenza A (H1N1) now stands at 1,883 with 29 deaths in Mexico and two in the United States, according to Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, World Health Organization, and government officials, reported The Associated Press.

The second US death also in the state of Texas, announced Tuesday, is the first death of a US resident with swine flu.

Last week a toddler from Mexico died at a Houston hospital of the infection.

The second death is of a 33-year-old schoolteacher who had recently given birth to a healthy baby.

The woman died early Tuesday and had been hospitalised since April 19.

Of the 1, 883 people sickened by the infection, Mexico recorded 942 cases followed by US (651), Canada (165), Spain (57), Britain (27), Germany (9), New Zealand (6), Italy (5), Israel (4), France (4), El Salvador (2), South Korea (2) and one case each in Austria, Costa Rica, Colombia, Denmark, Hong Kong, Ireland, the Netherlands, Portugal and Switzerland.

US health officials said Tuesday they are no longer recommending that schools close because of suspected swine flu cases since the virus has turned out to be milder than initially feared.

World Health Organisation says it’s starting to ship 2.4 million treatments of antiflu drugs to 72 countries “most in need.”

Mexico says epidemic has cost its economy at least US$2.2bil and announces a US$1.3bil stimulus package, mostly for small businesses and tourism.

Mexico cancels Cinco de Mayo celebrations but will allow most businesses to reopen Wednesday, universities to reopen Thursday. Mexico City cafes, museums and libraries to reopen this week; schools nationwide to reopen next week.

US Embassy in Beijing says four US citizens were quarantined in China.

Mexico flies dozens of its nationals home from China, freeing them from a quarantine that the Latin American country criticised as unfair.

A Chinese plane sent to Mexico to retrieve its citizens was returning Wednesday.

Mexico emerged from its swine flu isolation Tuesday as thousands of newspaper vendors, salesmen hawking trinkets and even pan handlers dropped their protective masks and joined the familiar din of traffic horns and blaring music on the streets of the capital.

There were still signs, however, of the virus that set off world health alarms.

Across Mexico, people were eagerly anticipating this week’s reopening of businesses, restaurants, schools and parks, after a claustrophobic five-day furlough.

“We have a lot of confidence nothing is going to happen,” said Irineo Moreno Gonzales, 54, a security guard who Tuesday limited takeout customers to four at a time at a usually crowded downtown Starbucks.

“Mexicans have the same spirit we’ve always had. We’re

Penang offering RM10,000 for creative staff

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang Government has launched an award to spur civil servants to generate creative and innovative ideas in an effort to improve the delivery system.

Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the Creativity and Innovation Award was opened to lower and middle category civil servants.

“The employee with the most creative and innovative idea will be rewarded with RM10,000 and the department the winner is from will also get a RM10,000 prize,” he told reporters after addressing the civil service assembly at the Dome, Komtar here on Wednesday.

He said the ideas would be evaluated by State Secretary Datuk Zainal Rahim Seman.

“With the award, we hope civil servants will think out of the box to improve the delivery system.

“We are encouraging civil servants to come out with ideas which can save money and time, and improve the delivery system,” said Lim. -- Bernama

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Bersih activist Wong Chin Huat arrested for alleged sedition

KUALA LUMPUR: Police have arrested activist Wong Chin Huat of the Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections (Bersih) for alleged sedition, Federal Commercial Crimes Investigation Department Director Comm Datuk Koh Hong Sun said.

A police team from the Federal Commercial Crime Investigations Department (CCID) picked up Wong at his home in Seri Sentosa here at 8pm on Tuesday under Section 4 (1) of the Sedition Act 1948.

It is learnt that the police team seized a laptop and a cellular phone belonging to the university lecturer, political scientist and columnist for The Nut Graph web publication.

Comm Koh, who confirmed the arrest, said Wong was detained to assist in police investigations into allegedly seditious SMSes.

“We will interview him to gather more details and we are checking if the SMSes were initially distributed by him,” he said.

Wong is said to have been brought to the CCID headquarters in Bukit Perdana here.

It is believed that the arrest is linked to a press conference Wong had held earlier Tuesday in which he urged the public to wear black on Thursday to protest the Perak state government takeover by Barisan Nasional.

Newly-appointed Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir is convening the Perak state legislative assembly on that day.

Perak showdown: Several major roads to be closed

IPOH: Several sections of all major roads leading to the Perak state secretariat building would be closed to traffic for the state assembly sitting on Thursday.

Ipoh OCPD Asst Comm Azisman Alias said roadblocks would be set up at the Jalan Panglima Bukit Gantang Wahab-Jalan St John junction and near the Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman flyover from 9pm Wednesday.

He advised motorists to follow instructions from the police who would be on duty to divert traffic at Jalan Lim Bo Seng, Jalan S.P. Seenivasagam, Jalan Kompleks Islam and Jalan Istana.

ACP Azisman said motorists heading towards the city from Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman would be diverted to Jalan Raja Musa Aziz.

“Motorists heading towards the Medan Kidd bus station from Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman would be diverted into Jalan Tun Abdul Razak,” he said in a statement Tuesday.

He said all motorists from the city heading towards the state secretariat building would be diverted into Jalan St John.

“Motorists heading towards the city area from Jalan Silibin will have to use either Jalan Raja Musa Aziz or Jalan Tun Abdul Razak. Those using Jalan St John would be directed into Jalan S.P. Seenivasagam,” he added.

ACP Azisman said all affected roads would be reopened to the public Thursday afternoon.

“The public are advised to plan their journey and use alternative routes to avoid being caught in traffic,” he added.

Meanwhile, DAP adviser and Ipoh Timur MP Lim Kit Siang said the police should stay out of the political fray between Pakatan Rakyat and Barisan Nasional and remain apolitical.