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

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

A(H1N1): 34 new cases, 12 locally transmitted

PUTRAJAYA: There were 34 new cases of Influenza A(H1N1) recorded Tuesday, of which 22 were imported while 12 others were locally transmitted, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

He said 335 or 72% of the total 468 patients infected with the virus had recovered and discharged from hospital.

“Currently, 133 patients are still hospitalised,” he told a press conference after witnessing a handover ceremony of the Mobile Blood Donation Vehicle to the National Blood Bank here on Tuesday.

Later in a statement, Liow said the new cases involved 24 Malaysians and 10 foreigners -- five Indonesians, three Australians, one American and one Danish.

“Of the 22 imported cases, the number of patients who had visited affected countries were seven to Indonesia, six to Australia, five to Singapore, and one each to Britain, China, Denmark and the Philippines.

He said all 12 local transmission cases involved Malaysians and one of the patients was among the participants at the Asia Pacific Pharmaceutic Conference, which was held in Penang from June 27 to 30. Previously, it was reported that 25 participants of the conference had contracted the virus.

Liow said currently, 1,031 people were undergoing home quarantine and none of them showed any flu symptoms.

“As of 8am today (July 7), no new schools are closed due to the outbreak,” he said.

Najib hopes for friendly contest between PAS and Umno

LABIS: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak hopes for a friendly contest between PAS and Umno in the Manek Urai by-election.

He said that both sides should not be involved in insults or mudslinging.

Both parties should just convey their agendas to the voters and let them decide, Najib said, adding that Barisan would do its best in the by-election.

He added that Barisan was committed to campaigning in a clean manner with the election machinery being supervised by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyddin Yassin and directed by Datuk Mustapa Mohamad.

“We have a new method to move our election machinery. Also our candidate is getting encouraging response based on his background and presently there are also no major issues in this by-election,” Najib said, adding that Barisan was promising change and a new era for the people of Manek Urai.

He was speaking to reporters after launching the Felda settlers day celebrations in Felda Maokil here Tuesday.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Unity talks: DAP says no, PKR to wait and see

KUALA LUMPUR: DAP chairman Karpal Singh said his party has no intention to join in any “unity talks” with Umno, while his Pakatan Rakyat partner PKR has adopted a “wait and see” attitude.

Karpal called for PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang and deputy president Nasharuddin Mat Isa to withdraw from the unity talks.

He said if Nasharuddin continued to insist on talks with Umno, he should quit PAS.

“DAP has no intention to join the unity talks. Hadi should scrap the idea.

“(PAS spiritual adviser) Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat spoke with wisdom,” he told reporters in the Parliament lobby here Thursday, referring to Nik Aziz’s outburst Wednesday in which he said Nasharuddin should quit the Islamist party if he persisted with such talks.

Karpal said PAS was once with the Barisan Nasional coalition back in the 1970s.

“The party never learns its lesson,” he said.

PKR’s Saifuddin Nasution and R. Sivarasa however that they would wait until Monday for a full Pakatan Rakyat presidential council meeting, in which Hadi Awang is expected to brief the alliance on the unity talks, before commenting.

PKR adviser and Pakatan leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is expected to meet with Nijk Aziz in Kota Baru this Sunday to discuss the issue, they added.

Meanwhile in KOTA BARU, Nik Aziz said he would be calling for a meeting soon with all pro-unity talks leaders in his party, including Hadi Awang and Nasharuddin, to resolve the issue, reports SYED AZHAR.

65yr-old grandpa among 47 busted for drug abuse

ALOR SETAR: A 65-year-old grandfather was among 39 fishermen who were arrested by police after testing positive for drugs, while another eight were nabbed for related offences.

They were arrested at two fishing jetties between 4am and 10am Thursday.

Kota Star OCPD Asst Comm Abdul Ghafar Rajab said 40 policemen were involved in the operation.

The 39 tested positive for drugs including heroin, morphine and ketamine, he told a press conference here Thursday.

ACP Abdul Ghafar said that the two of the men were Thai nationals with valid travelling documents.

He said police recovered a stolen motorcycle and drug paraphernalia, but did not find any drugs on them.

“The two jetties were among three spots that we have identified as being frequently used by drug addicts and we will continue to monitor these areas to curb drug abuse among fishermen,” he said.

He said that the men would be remanded for further investigation

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Unity talks only if PKR and DAP included: Mustapha

KUALA LUMPUR: PAS will hold talks on the “unity government” with Umno only if DAP and PKR are included in the process, PAS secretary-general Datuk Mustafa Ali said.

He said PAS would not leave its Pakatan Rakyat allies behind as it was un-Islamic to break a promise.

“If the Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak) wants to hold talks on government unity with PAS, he must include DAP and PKR.

“Otherwise, there will be no talks,’’ he told a press conference on Wednesday.

Asked if the alliance with PKR and DAP would ever be reviewed, Mustafa said in politics there was no “permanent seal.”

However, PAS was prepared to hold talks with Umno on certain issues of national interest, he added.

“Even back in 1989 and 1990 during the era of Tun Dr Mahathir, PAS held talks with the Barisan Nasional on issues of national interest,’’ he said.

He was responding to Najib’s statement on Tuesday that he was open to unity talks with PAS and that he believed the Islamist party was sincere in its desire for such talks.

The “unity government” issue was brought up at the recent PAS muktamar (annual general assembly) by party president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, to the chagrin of many party members as well as PAS’ allies DAP and PKR.

Others however, such as PAS deputy president Nasharuddin Mat Isa, supported the move.

Join Umno
In KOTA BARU, PAS spiritual leader Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat told Nasharuddin to quit the party and join Umno if he was so interested in unity with the Barisan Nasional party.

He should also relinquish his seat as Bachok Member of Parliament, where he was elected under the PAS ticket in last March’s general election, Nik Aziz said.

“He is causing a lot of problems in PAS with all this rubbish talk about the unity government with Umno.

“It has never been on the agenda for PAS nor Pakatan Rakyat, and this is just his personal opinion and not a stand of the party,” he told reporters after chairing the weekly state executive committee meeting at Kota Darul Naim Wedsnesday.

Reiterating his allegations that those in PAS behind the unity talks were merely “puppets of Umno,” he described what Nasharuddin was doing as “immoral.”

Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said Hadi Awang remained committed to the Pakatan Rakyat alliance and would fully explain his talks on the unity government with Umno at the upcoming Pakatan meeting next Monday.

The lack of unity on the Pakatan front has Barisan treading gently. Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said that there has to be a united stand from all three Pakatan parties before Barisan can respond to talks on the unity government.

"The Barisan stand is clear, but they keep moving the goalposts," he said.