Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Penans erect more blockades, stage protests

MIRI: More protests and blockades have flared up all over Sarawak following escalating land disputes between natives with the state government and timber and oil palm companies.
On Wednesday, a series of simultaneous anti-logging and anti-oil palm plantation blockades happened in five different locations in northern Sarawak: Simpang Empat, Long Bangan, Long Belok and Long Nen in ulu Baram district and in interior Suai in the Niah district south of Miri.
The sudden flare-up in the number of simultaneous protests has made it difficult for even the environmental activists to keep track.
The protests in Ulu Baram are against four timber giants while those in Niah are against an oil palm consortium.
In Ulu Balingian in central Sarawak, another major protest is also being organised against an oil palm project.
In Kuching, a group of Penans staged a peaceful demonstration in front of the Chief Minister’s Office, to hand over a memorandum to protest against the construction of the Baram and Murum dams in northern and central Sarawak.
As at 2pm, they failed to hand over the protest note to Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud.
In northern Sarawak, anti-logging protests by the Penans in Simpang Empat, Long Bangan, Long Belok and Long Nen resumed after another attempt by Telang Usan state assemblyman Lihan Jok to find a peaceful solution failed.
There was a previous meeting three weeks ago that also failed.
The Penans in Ulu Baram are trying to stop logging in jungles that they claim belong to their ancestors.
In interior Suai in Niah district, some 100 plus Penans and other natives living in Suai staged a blockade across a road leading into an oil palm estate measuring some 20,000ha.
A protester named Jadam said villagers were angry that the oil palm company continued to bulldoze its way into areas where the natives have customary rights status.
It is learnt the company had sent two senior managers to negotiate a peaceful settlement with the Suai natives.
In Ulu Balingian, some 500km south of here, a major protest that was supposed to be staged Wednesday, will instead be held within the next few days after a group of villagers decided not to go ahead with their protest yet. The Star

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Free toll at KL-Karak Highway, East Coast Expressway on Sept 18, 24

KUALA LUMPUR, Tues: Motorists using the Kuala Lumpur-Karak Highway and the East Coast Expressway will enjoy free toll from midnight to 5am on Sept 18 and 24.
MTD Group executive chairman Datuk Azmil Khalid said the free toll which applied to all class of vehicles including commerial was the its gift and way of thanking users in conjunction with Aidilfitri. He said motorists using the Kuala Lumpur-Karak Highway would save RM8 while East Coast Expressway users would save RM29 in toll for one way trip. "The free toll took into account peak travel hours between Kuala Lumpur and the east coast. Motorists still need to return their transit tickets when exiting.
"MTD expects about 200,000 vehicles will use the East Coast Expressway daily. It starts from Gombak in Kuala Lumpur and ends at Jabor in Terengganu. "Our records show that 60 per cent of motorists will travel during daytime," he told a press conference in Batu Caves near here today. The free toll is a first by a highway toll operator. PLUS had offered discounts of up to 20 per cent to those using the North-South Expressway during Aidilftri. Azmil said MTD had also introduced a time advisory to help motorists avoid "choke points" during traffic congestion. Additional booths would be set up to cater for the high volume of traffic while the staff leave has been frozen. -- BERNAMA

Chua confident of support at EGM

KUALA LUMPUR: Sacked MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek is confident of garnering the support of delegates at the party's upcoming extraordinary general meeting (EGM) where he hopes to be reinstated.
He hoped the EGM would resolve the internal rift for the party to move on to strengthen itself."This internal conflict within the party is causing a lot of harm to the party. We hope the EGM will settle the internal conflict so that we can move on to strengthen the party and to restore our credibility and image," Dr Chua said in a "live" forum with the public by a local daily today. Dr Chua said party leaders must abide by the delegates' decision as the agenda for the EGM was reached yesterday.
Party president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat has agreed to the five motions proposed by Dr Chua's supporters which include moving a vote of no confidence against Ong and to reinstate Dr Chua.Dr Chua was expelled on Aug 26 for tarnishing the party''s image after a sex video scandal.Chua said he was not ashamed to own up to his past mistake and reiterated that he would not join the opposition, "I want to die as a MCA member"."Whether I'm a good leader is up to people to judge me. I always try to do my best and people who work with me know that I'm a workaholic. For calling a spade a spade, I do invite controversy," he said.On the prime minister''s decision not to interfere in the MCA issue, Dr Chua believed that Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was letting the members resolve the conflict without outside interference. He also said that with the EGM in place, it was too late for a mediator. - Bernama

Five ISA detainees released, only nine remain

PUTRAJAYA: The Government has released five Internal Security Act (ISA) detainees, all allegedly from the Jemaah Islamiah militant group.
With this, there are now only nine ISA detainees remaining, of which four are Malaysians. The rest are from Thailand, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Singapore.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said the five were released conditionally after they were found to be no longer a threat to the country.
Of the five, Mat Shah Mohd Satray and Abdullah Daud had been in detention since 2002, while Mohd Nasir Ismail, Mohd Kamil Hanafiah and Mohd Amir Hanafiah had been detained since 2007.
Hishammuddin said they would be able to spend Hari Raya with their loved ones as their release came into effect immediately.
“All five detainees have shown positive response during the entirere habilitation period and have shown remorse for their actions in the past and is no longer a threat to the country,” he said.
Of the nine still in detention, Hishammuddin said six were allegedly involved in militant activities while the remaining three were detained for forging documents.
Terror suspect Mas Selamat Kastari, who was arrested in Johor Baru earlier this year, is the most infamous name among the nine.
In April, the Government released 13 ISA detainees, and another 13 in May. Among those released were five leaders of the outlawed Hindu Rights Action Force movement.
Hishammuddin was speaking to reporters after meeting representatives of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, or Suhakam, and the Bar Council over the review of the ISA.
He said the groups were concerned over the possible abuse of the ISA and hoped in the interim that the Government would alleviate the people’s concern.
“The balance between national security and national interest and civil liberty is not easily achieved,” he said. The Star

1Malaysia F1 team to be formed

PUTRAJAYA: The 1Malaysia F1 Team, a joint venture between the Government and private sector, will participate in the F1 race beginning next year, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced on Tuesday.
The Prime Minister said the project involved the combined expertise of Proton and Lotus with the support of the Sepang International Circuit (SIC), Motorsports Association of Malaysia, Naza Motor and AirAsia.
Najib, who is also the Finance Minister I, told reporters when making the announcement at the Finance Ministry that leading corporate figures such as Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes, Datuk Kamarudin Meranun and S.M. Nasarudin S.M. Nasimuddin were also involved in the initiative.
“This is the Malaysian team. The car was designed at the SIC, manufactured at the SIC, tested at the SIC and the car is Malaysian-made. Even the pit-stop team consists of Malaysians,” he said.
He said the 1Malaysia Team would identify a suitable Malaysian driver, adding that the project could lift the country’s image in the international arena.
Najib said the FIA had received Malaysia’s application to participate in the World F1 Championship next year.
Asked on the budget and the total investment by the Government, Najib said: “The Malaysian government’s investment is through Proton.”
Najib said the project was not a waste because it would provide a strong marketing element to the country when it competed in the F1 championship.
“If we want to export the Proton, we must ensure that the brand is strong. There is a strong element of marketing.
“It is not merely a sporting activity because there is an element of marketing for Proton and Malaysia while at the same time, the AirAsia and Naza brand names can be popularised,” he said.
According to a press release issued by a local public relations company for the 1Malaysia F1 Team, the national team will be based at SIC.
Universiti Teknologi Malaysia and Universiti Petronas as well as Composite Technology Research Malaysia (CTRM), a leading local composite manufacturing expert, have already been engaged to participate in the project.
The statement said the national F1 team would integrate the Malaysian technical and pit crew totalling 200 people to be managed by one of Formula One’s most respected technical director, Mike Gascoyne.
He had already recruited a core team of international experts with a proven record in the various engineering, design and manufacturing disciplines needed to ensure that the 1Malaysia F1 team was of international standard, readiness and capable of competing with the world’s greatest drivers.
Currently, six local and international drivers have been shortlisted for evaluation and the team is expected to announce its two drivers by end of next month.
The statement quoted Najib as saying that the country’s participation in Formula One with the national team had far reaching objectives, mainly the advancement of the country’s automotive industry development from the technological aspect including initiatives in green technology.
“By establishing our racing centre within the country, we hope to also attract more foreign investments and the best technical minds which, in turn, will spur the growth of our automotive industry where we hope to see more R&D into lighter, safer and more cost-effective cars,” he said.
“We further anticipate higher commitment by organisations and attendance by individuals during the F1 Petronas Malaysian GP which will be coupled with increased tourism related returns,” Najib said.
He claimed that by creating a national F1 team, the country was taking “its motor sports to its pinnacle, thus ensuring its place in this internationally embraced sports that had scaled the heights of entertainment.”
The 1Malaysia F1 Team takes its name from the “1Malaysia People First, Performance Now” policy mooted by Najib in June this year as the unifying foundation for all Malaysians to come together in celebrating cooperation among its multiethnic, multicultural and multireligious society for the betterment of the nation.
Petronas, the national oil giant, has also made advancement in this arena via its sponsorship of the BMW-Sauber Team for the last four years. -- Bernama