Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Danish Govt keen on biofuel projects in Sabah : Ambassador


The Danish Ambassador to Malaysia, Borge Petersen has described the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC) Blueprint as an impressive initiative that addresses many areas of concern in the State, including environment. Petersen made the remark after he attended a briefing on the SDC given by IDS Executive Director Datuk Dr Mohd Yaakub Haji Johari at the IDS Conference Room here recently. The Ambassador was pleased to note that environmental conservation is one of the three key principles of the SDC and remarked that it augurs well for the sustainable development of Sabah for future generations. He was also pleased to know that the State Government has been collaborating with philanthropists, the corporate sector and NGOs to provide technical expertise, technologies and funding vital for protecting and conserving Sabah’s natural resources. He said Denmark is interested in supporting clean development mechanism (CDM) projects in Sabah. The CDM is one of the systems introduced in the Kyoto Protocol to assist countries in achieving their greenhouse gases (GHG) emission reduction targets. The Kyoto Protocol, under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, is an international agreement to reduce the emission of GHG binding industrialised countries to specific reduction targets. The Kyoto Protocol came into force in February 2005. “We are interested in supporting projects that turn biomass, particularly oil palm waste, such as empty fruit bunches (EFB) into biofuel,” be said, adding projects that utilise enzymes to transform biomass into biofuel. Petersen said that the Danish Government not only buys certified emission reductions (CER5) from owners of CDM projects but also assists companies in developing CDM projects. CDM allows emission reduction projects that contribute to the sustainable development objectives of the host country to capitalise on the emission reduction through the sale of CERs from the project. Projects that have been recognised as CDM under the Kyoto Protocol will qualify for CERs. In the case of the CDM project supported by the Danish government, the project owner can sell back the obtained CERs to the Government of Denmark. “We will be talking to palm oil millers in Sabah about CDM projects and we plan to sign agreements with CDM project proponents,” he said. Petersen disclosed that Danish Government had already supported the development of a number of successful CDM projects in Malaysia since the establishment of the Danish CDM Project Development Facility (PDF) in 2003. They included the Lumut Biomass Energy Plant and Jendarata Steam and Power Plant in Peninsular Malaysia. In Sabah, the Ambassador noted that the Sandakan Edible Oils (SEO) Sdn. Bhd. Biomass Steam and Power Plant uses biomass boiler manufactured by ENCO Systems, a Malaysian company based on a design developed by a Danish company, B&W Volund. Petersen said other potential CDM projects include those involving the utilization of wood residue, solid waste management and landfill gas. Landfill is a potential energy resource. Garbage decomposing in landfills creates landfill gas. This gas consists of methane, which can be used as fuel for industrial heating or converted into electrical power. Methane is among the greenhouses gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol. Although the Danish government will phase out funding for Malaysia by 2O1O Mr Petersen said it is not leaving Sabah yet. He pointed out that the Danish government has supported several environmental projects in Sabah by way of funding and transfer of environmental technology and know-how since 1 996 through the Danish Co-operation for Environment and Development (DANCED). The projects included the Sabah Biodiversity Conservation, Maliau Basin Management Plan, Integrated Coastal Zone Management and a peat swamp forest project with support from Danish International Development Assistance (DANIDA), the ‘successor’ to DANCED. Petersen said that with the implementation of SDC, he expected more Danish companies to come and invest in Sabah. Earlier in his briefing to the Danish Ambassador, Dr Mohd Yaakub gave an overview of the SDC goals, implementation phases, key principles and sectoral focus. Dr Mohd Yaakub ended his presentation by highlighting the SDC initiatives on protecting and conserving the environment. They included key environmental issues and challenges, strategies to enhance the conservation and protection of the environment in Sabah, and main programmes and ongoing projects that contribute towards the preservation of Sabah’s environment for future generations.


Painting demonstration and exhibition at Kadaiku


Kadaiku, Sabah Tourism’s souvenirs and handicraft retail outlet managed by its subsidiary, Sri Pelancongan Sabah Sdn Bhd, will be holding a month-long painting demonstration and exhibition starting this Thursday. Sabah Art Gallery’s Awang Fadillah bin Ali Hussein, whose works are dedicated to abstract art, will be painting and exhibiting pieces with the central theme of nature until the last week of April. Awang Fadillah has been involved art for 10 ears now, participating in local and international art exhibitions and competitions. Besides earning several Choice Awards at the annual Sabah Choice Arts Competition and at the Labuan Art Festival, Awang Fadillah’s achievements also include a third placing in the UNESCO Asia Pacific Noma. Concours for Picture Book Illustration art competition in Japan in 2006. The public will have the chance to observe and gain tips from the artist at work, as well as from another artist, Husman bin Razak whose specialties are in portrait and airbrush painting. The demonstration and exhibition will run three times a week for four weeks, on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from 9am to 4pm. This event is the first of its kind to be held at Kadaiku, with the purpose of promoting and increasing public interest in local artists and their works.


Fish bombings and encroachment reduced


A concerted drive among the authorities in Sabah against fish bombings and encroachment to offshore oil installations has gained reasonable successes, with a reduced number of incidents in the recent months around the waters off the oil- producing operational areas of Shell Malaysia’s Exploration & Production (SM-EP) in North Sabah. These efforts will continue in the form of engagements with local fishing communities in Kota Belud, Tuaran and other districts to disseminate information and awareness on the dangers of fish bombings and encroachments, just as the fishing season has begun again in earnest. One such engagement was conducted last Saturday at Kampung Baru-Baru, Tuaran, by the Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency MMEA), Tuaran District Office and Shell Malaysia. MMEA’s Director of Operations for Sabah and Labuan, Captain Mohd Amir Haji Hamzah who led the awareness session, reminded fishermen to observe existing laws, especially on fish bombings and encroachments to offshore oil installations. He also briefed the villagers on the role and responsibilities of MMEA, which incorporates enforcing the existing maritime laws as well as being the coordinator for any search and rescue operations at sea. Speaking at the gathering, Tuaran Assistant District Officer Anyi Mahmud advised the fishermen on the need to co-exist with the natural environment to ensure a sustainable livelihood from the marine resources. “Fish bombings not only endanger the lives of those working in nearby oil installations and the infrastructure, it also destroys the corals which are fish-breeding grounds,” he explained. Shell Malaysia EP’s Head of Security, Mohd Kassim, also briefed the gathering regarding the danger of fishing around the offshore installations, giving a few highlights of past instances of such occurrences. At the same gathering, Shell Malaysia EP’s Sabah Asset General Manager, George Ling, commended the concerted efforts by the authorities in addressing the fish bombing and encroachment issues together with Shell and promised to step up this sort of engagement in other districts as well, particularly during the fishing season. “We are pleased with this close cooperation and support and from the engagements that we had with the fishing communities in Mantanani and Tuaran, there has been a good awareness regarding the risks around our offshore oil installations,” Ling added.


Need for smart policies to realise SDC objectives: State Secretary


Much needs to be done to better formulate the State Government policies, especially with the addition of Sabah Development Corridor to the list of main agendas for Sabah. State Secretary Datuk Sukarti Wakiman said that apart from the optimal use of resources, smart policies need to be in place before the development goals under the development plan can be achieved. Further stressing the importance of formulating smart policies in shaping the halatuju of the SDC, he said government policies must reflect two main characteristics. Firstly, it must be based on the idea of fulfilling the main needs of the community and secondly able to be a driver that leads the community towards prosperous and progressive life. Apart from that, he said the determination of objectives, form, steps and implementation of a certain policy must be based on the set long-term vision and planning. “With the formulation of policies that support and drive us towards the objectives (under the SDC), I am confident and even more optimistic that we will not only be able to place ourselves on par with the other states, but also capable to become a ‘benchmark’ in terms of effective management and administration,” said Sukarti at the opening of a Research and Evaluation of Policy Workshop at Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort (STAR) here yesterday. “An effective administration also starts from the efficient formulation of policies. Filling the policy is also the same as important as implementing it in which both must be clear and parallel. Fine-tuning can only be made when we are willing to learn about each other so that in the end the end- product enjoyed by the ‘external clients’ that is the rakyat will only be the best,” he added. Apart from looking for room for fine-tuning, the workshop organised by the Cabinet and Policy Unit of Chief Minister’s Department also aims to provide for a learning process for the participating government officers. A total of 35 officers from randomly selected ministries and departments that are directly related to the implementation of SDC as well as State halatuju attended the two-day workshop. Unit director Haji Yusof Abd Abbas and principal assistant director Dr Ismail S. Charles, were also present. The workshop, which is the second in the series on policy analysis organised by the unit, involves scrutiny and evaluation of the policies of randomly selected state ministries to enable the participants to identify room for fine-tuning and then absorb what they have experienced from the process.


Basic necessities needed to eradicate poverty: UNDP


It is imperative for the Government to build basic infrastructure in rural areas if it hopes to eradicate poverty, said United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Regional Representative Dr Richard Leete. He said projects aimed at developing the economy of poor villagers would be unsustainable if they are not provided with basic necessities such as sealed roads, clean water, electricity and communication. “For example in Mangkuwagu, if the community produces a large quantity of high-quality rubber but the roads are so bad that the middlemen are more worried about fixing their vehicles, how will they move their produce? “We must have movements to seriously develop the roads ... it is a human right to have good access,” he said at a press conference yesterday. Leete said this to reporters after launching the UNDP’s advocacy report, “Sustainable Community Forest Management in Sabah”, at the State Forestry Department’s Kota Kinabalu office in Lok Kawi here. He explained that the report is based on the Mangkuwagu Social Forestry project, jointly developed by the UNDP and the State Forestry Department, which is a “demonstration project” on sustainable conservation and rural economic development. “What, is important is to balance the two sides of the equation, to conserve the vast biodiversity and try to make a difference in the lives of those who live in the margins of the forests. “The community in Mangkuwagu don’t have pens to write with, they don’t have the basic tools that we have when we wake up in the morning or go to sleep, things like electricity which we take for granted here ... they are yesterday’s world living in modern Malaysia,” he said. State Forestry Department Director Datuk Sam Mannan revealed that a total of RM7.2 million has been allocated for the two-year Mangkuwagu project, including RM3 million each from the State and Federal Governments and RM1.2 million from UNDP. “Mangkuwagu is part of FMU 17, and the focus is purely on social forestry. A management plan has been prepared for the area, to ensure that we can make a difference for the residents and it is sustainable,” he said. Earlier in his speech, Leete highlighted the lack of equitable distribution of development that has contributed greatly to Sabah’s poverty rate of 23 percent, which is the highest in the country. “The problem in Sabah is not one of economic growth. It is quite high compared to other countries in the world. The problem is the inequality in the distribution of growth. “The UNDP would also like to appeal for the localisation of basic infrastructure as a key prerequisite for poverty eradication, and this includes paved roads, water supply, electricity, communication and safe sewerage. “Without these infrastructure, development projects become unsustainable in the long run. We still have people who do not have electricity, and this is a blight on the excellent record of development in Malaysia where development is brought to the people but rural communities in Sabah and Sarawak are largely ignored,’’ he said.


Foreigner Claims kept Sharlinie in Sabah


Police have detained a foreigner for sending an SMS claiming that he had abducted five-year-old Sharlinie Mohd Nashar and demanding RM25,000 for her release. They picked up the 26-year-old IT expert at 2pm on Saturday in Kajang after the person he forwarded the message to informed the policesSharlinie went missing after going to a playground near her PJS2 home in Taman Medan on Jan 9. Selangor CID chief Senior Asst Comm II Mazian Mansor said the man, who has been in the country with valid documents since Jan 29, had sent the SMS claiming that he was keeping the girl in Sabah. “The person who received the SMS contacted the police and we picked up the suspect immediately,” he said here on Sunday. SAC Mazian said he man would be remanded until Wednesday. He cautioned the public not to send false messages about the girl’s disappearance.


Businessman in drive against coal-fired power plant project


A local businessman had written to Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd with copies to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Abdul Razak, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Hj Aman on 18 March calling for the proposed RM1 billion coal-fired power plant project at Darvel Bay in Silam to be scrapped. Tio Chee Hing, who described the setting up the power plant as akin to dropping a hydrogen bomb on the people in the district, said the operation of such a plant would cause extensive irreversible damage to the surrounding ecologically sensitive environment and pose a serious threat to the livelihood and health of thousands of people. He said it would severely affect marine life in Darvel Bay and the people living here, and even their future generation would have to pay the potentially enormous price. Tio strongly suggested the power plant project be relocated to a more suitable place with the least environmental impact. He insisted that the welfare, health and future of the people must be protected at all costs, and he is prepared to take his fight to the court for an injunction to prevent the project from being implemented.


25,000 applying for 1,500 RTD enforcement posts


The Road Transport Department (RTD) is vetting some of the 25,000 applications received from across the country for the posts of assistant enforcement in the department. Sabah RTD Director Haji Wan Idrus Wan Sharif said out of the total figure, only 1,500 applicants would be recruited after the interview and physical test were carried out. “The recruitment of additional enforcement personnel will further strengthen the RTD enforcement, in particular the RTD Sabah, in ensuring vehicle owners and public transport operators comply with the RTD rules and regulations,” he said yesterday. Wan Idrus was speaking to reporters after paying a courtesy call on the Head of State Tun Ahmadshah Abdullah at the Istana Negeri here. He was accompanied by Sabah RTD Assistant Director Abdul Rahman Datuk Hj Zakaria and Public Relations Manager Ahmad Zaky Mokhtar. Wan Idrus commenced his duties in Sabah on Feb 18 this year, replacing Yahya Basimin who has been transferred to the Pulau Pinang’s State Federal Secretary Office. He said the RTD would continue to monitor the services provided by the public transport operators in the State. “This is to ensure the operators comply with the rules and regulations as stipulated under the Road Transport Act 1987,” said Wan Idrus, adding that the department is giving priority to the safety of the public who is relying on public transport. During the meeting, Wan Idrus presented a memento to Ahmadshah.


Razaleigh: I’m not taking advantage of situation


Gua Musang Member of Parliament Tengku Tan Sri Razaleigh Hamzah said he offered to play a role in restoring Umno for the sake of the Malay race and the party’s own survival. He said he was not in any way taking advantage of the situation following the Barisan Nasional’s (BN) dismal performance in the March 8 general election. The former Finance Minister said his suggestion that a special Umno assembly be convened to evaluate the poor performance in the election, and his offer to contest the president’s post, was made to enable the party to get back on its feet and not stumbled further. “I stated my readiness to lift the spirit of Umno members which has been weakened after the Barisan Nasional’s (BN) defeat in four states and the failure to wrest Kelantan from PAS in the general election. It’s my sincere wish to see the party regain its strength. “I feel that I’ve been called forth to help restore the party,” he told Bernama at his residence here on Sunday night. Earlier he met several grass root leaders from Johor who came to see him to get further clarification about his suggestion that a special Umno meeting be held to discuss the BN’s defeat in Penang, Kedah, Selangor, Perak and Kelantan. Tengku Razaleigh said the special assembly was appropriate so that grass root leaders of Umno can voice out their views about the poll results. He said Umno members wanted to see the party regained strength and remained the umbrella for the Malays, whom he said were feeling disheartened because certain party members were only fighting for personal gain. -Bernama


Showdown over Terengganu MB


Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is locked in a showdown on Monday with the country’s largely ceremonial King over who will lead the oil-rich northeastern state of Terengganu. Malaysia’s royalty is posing its biggest challenge to the Government since the powers of the hereditary Rulers were clipped 25 years ago, and comes when Abdullah’s authority has been wounded following elections that handed unprecedented gains to the Opposition. The confrontation goes beyond the division of powers between figurehead Rulers and the elected Government and is also about the cosy relationships between business and politics in Malaysia, analysts say. “This is not just politics,” said political analyst Rustam Sani. “I think financial interests have to do with it. They (the Sultans) are not happy since the politicians are having a free hand in business.” Some of the nine royal families are involved in business. Malaysia has nine Sultans who take turns ruling for five years as King. Their mostly ceremonial duties include appointing the Chief Ministers of their states. The current King is the 46-year-old Terengganu Ruler, Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin. Other Rulers have also begun to speak out on issues of governance. The Sultan of Selangor State last year reprimanded a town councillor for building a house without required permits. The Rulers, whose powers were sharply curtailed in 1983 by then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, are seeking to reclaim a stake in politics - along with a resurgent Opposition in a more robust Parliament. In the watershed elections, Abdullah’s Barisan Nasional (National I rout) coalition was ousted in five of Malaysia’s 13 states (Penang, Perak, Kedah, Selangor and Kelantan) and lost the two-thirds majority in Parliament it had held for nearly four decades at the elections. The BN coalition retained power in Terengganu hut the Sultan there refused to swear in incumbent Chief Minister Datuk Idris Jusoh, whom Abdullah said had the support of the majority of the State’s Assemblymen. On Sunday, the palace appointed its own candidate Datuk Ahmad Said, the Kijal Assemblyman-only to be snubbed by the Prime Minister who said that appointing anyone but Idris was unconstitutional. Malaysia’s Law Minister was quoted as saying on Monday that everyone, including the King, should respect the law. “The discretion of the Monarch in appointing the Chief Minister is not an absolute personal discretion,” Datuk Zaid Ibrahim said. Analysts said there were other reasons why Idris fell out of favour with the Sultan, including allegations he had been disrespectful to the Ruler and his family. The Sultans have reasserted themselves in other states, too. In the state of Perlis, the Raja overruled Abdullah’s nominee for Chief Minister and appointed his own candidate. The Sultans are meant to represent Malay Muslim sovereignty and at one time were a powerful counterweight to the elected Government. But in amendments to the Constitution in 1983, the King’s veto power was abolished and the Monarch could no longer block bills in Parliament. Another amendment in 1993 took away the immunity from prosecution the nine Sultans once enjoyed. “After a decline of power and influence between 1983 and 1994, the spirals of history are in motion again,” said constitution expert Shad Saleem Faruqi. “The last few years have seen a discernible upsurge in popular perception that the Rulers constitute a vital check and balance mechanism of the Constitution,” he wrote in the local Star newspaper. — Reuter.