Thursday, March 27, 2008


Harbour Town to transform Lahad Datu


Despite being the gateway to the world renowned Danum Valley Conservation Area, the abundant flora and fauna of Tabin’s wildlife reserve and the mysterious Madai Caves, for a long time there has been little public interest in the east coast town of Lahad Datu, especially as a retail and commercial hub for Sabah East Coast. At present, the township of Lahad Datu is lacking of a popular venue for leisure or shopping activities due to the absence of a suitable environment that encourages the trendsetting lifestyle enjoyed by residents of the West Coast. All this is about to change with the emergence of a new retail and commercial development, called Lahad Datu Harbour Town, which is poised to transform Lahad Datu into the prime destination for avid shoppers and trendsetters residing on Sabah’s East Coast. This new development promises not only to buoy Lahad Datu up to par with other up market retail and commercial development in Sabah, but will also introduce Sabahans to a brand new form of shopping experience and lifestyle. According to Datuk Chin Kain Sim, one of the Directors of Tower Lodge Sdn Bhd, the developer of the development project, the name Harbour Town was coined as a tribute to the origins of Lahad Datu and the maritime exploits of the early seafarers who came to settle in this area. “The origins of Lahad Datu’s settlement as a early trade port and the past maritime activities of the locals, was the impetus for our idea. We wanted to incorporate an appealing brand name for a retail and commercial development that relates back to Lahad Datu’s history, but with a modern and contemporary feel for the 21st century,” he explained. Tower Lodge Sdn Bhd is managed by Chin, and his two other partners, Datuk Christopher Lim and Fong Sin Lon. It is a subsidiary of the Seng Group of Companies based in Kuala Lumpur led by Datuk Dr Lim Lee Seng. The Group has recently expanded its interests in Sabah through its subsidiaries, Tower Lodge Sdn Bhd and KOPORIM Marketing Sdn Bhd, whose most recent project has been the development of KK Taipan Commercial Centre in Inanam New Township, a 14-acre commercial development comprising of 117 units of shop-office. It is currently under construction and is slated for completion in the end of 2008. The official launching of the Lahad Datu Harbour Town project is at 9am today at the project site office.


Bureau to help students to further studies


MCA Silam division’s Life-Learning Bureau has extended its assistance to PMR and SPM leavers who want to further their studies in local colleges. Divisional Secretary Chai Foo Loi said the bureau would particularly help students from poor families in their application for scholarships. “Poor parents need not be anxious about the future of their children as scholarship or loan is available for application,” he said. According to him, students with good results may apply directly for the scholarship or study loan. “Parents who are unsure about the application process can always come to the MCA office for assistance,” he said and added that they can also call him at 019-8435651 for any further inquiry.


Better district delivery system
Programs must reach target groups to overcome poverty, says Pairin
Greater commitment and dedication from civil servants at the district level are needed to ensure the Government’s development progrm.exe properly implemented, said Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Joseph Pairin Kitingan. He said it is necessary for the programmes to reach the target groups so that they can achieve the main mission of minimising the poverty rate, particularly the hardcore poor by 2010. “To achieve this, Government staff at the implementation level bear the same responsibility as the leadership in serving the community, by pooling our resources and working together,” he said. Pairin, who is also Rural Development Minister, said this at a briefing for heads of Federal and State departments at the Tambunan District Council meeting room here, recently. He said that apart from efforts to promote economic development for rural communities, the Government has also embarked on infrastructure development programmes to establish road networks and water and electricity supply to the entire district. “In this respect, the delivery system at the district level must be upgraded to ensure the ability and efficiency of the staff are at optimal level. This involves continuous effort in ensuring the projects achieve their goals,” he said. Pairin stressed that the Government, under the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP) and the Sabah Development Corridor (SDC), aims to create a . metropolitan centre in the interior through activities based on agriculture, manufacturing, tourism and human capital development. During the briefing, Pairin was informed of the progress of various road and electricity supply projects currently being implemented. Pairin, who is also Tambunan Assemblyman, urged the various villages involved n the Rural Electricity Supply development programme to ease the process of acquiring the access permit to ensure smooth implementation. For that purpose, he said officers from the District Council and the project implementor will hold a meeting with the Village Development and Security Committee (JKKK) chairmen from the affected villages to discuss the matter further.


Three more held over illegal lottery operation


Three more people have been arrested here for involving in illegal four-digit lottery operation. District Police Chief Mohd Isa Yusof said the three local men in their 20s, were arrested during a raid on a premises in the town area around 1pm yesterday. He said police found a few documents believed to be containing four-digit gambling records at the premises and have detained all the three suspects for investigation. Police also confiscated a few notebooks and a small amount of cash. On Sunday, police arrested a 41-year-old woman in connection with their investigation into the alleged illegal lottery ticket operation in Pekan Baru. Police seized a few items together with RM1,193 cash and detained the woman for investigation under Section 4A(a) of the Common Gambling House Act which provides a fine of between RM20,000 and RM200,000 or a jail term up to five years, if found guilty. The police also warned the public not to buy illegal four-digit tickets as action can also be taken against them.


793 litterbugs compounded


A total of 793 people have been compounded since January this year under the Anti-Litter by-law 1984, said City Hall Enforcement Director Abdul Mukti Hj Muchlish. He said the total figure included 53 people who were compounded for littering during the Ops Litterbugs carried out by City Hall from March 24 to 26. Abdul Mikti said the operation was carried out in various locations around the City and involved a total of 13 enforcement officers led by Sub Inspector Hambali Jami and monitored by DSP Ernest Mojikon. “Each offender can be slapped with a RM100 maximum compound” he said in a statement yesterday. Abdul Mukti said they hoped the public would cooperate by not dirtying their surroundings and stop littering as it would badly affect the City’s image.


UMS students to work part-time in Resort
Shangri – La’s Tanjung Aru Resort to provide in-house training to Hotel Management Programme students


Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) has sealed a smart partnership with Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort and Spa (STAR) to provide in-house training for its Hotel Management Programme students. UMS yesterday signed an MoU with STAR to allow the students taking the programme to experience real life exposure of the hotel industry through in-house training at the Resort’s facilities during their final year. Under the agreement, STAR will provide training in three critical areas, namely banquet service, restaurant and housekeeping. Upon completion of the training sessions, students would be employed on a part-time basis to serve at banquet functions. “It is vital for the final-year students to be exposed to and gain real-life training as well as practical training experience during their final academic year in addition to their practical training attachment. “The training is regarded as beneficial for our students and serves as a way to overcome the shortage of skilled human resources inthe hotel industry,” said UMS Vice Chancellor Professor Datuk Dr Mohd Noh Dalimin at the signing ceremony at STAR yesterday. He said the signing of the MoU is timely and pertinent to the tourism industry in Sabah, particularly the hotel sector which is enjoying a continuous growth of demand from tourists but faced with difficulties of finding sufficient trained and skilled workers. “This MoU is regarded as the first strategic smart partnership between the hotel industry player and higher learning institution. It is also the first in Sabah and at the national level. Indeed, we hope to have more such MoU with other industry players for the mutual benefit of our students and the hotel industry,” said Mohd Noh. Apart from the training programme for UMS, STAR is also carrying out research developing sustainable resource framework for tourism and hospitality from the practitioner and academic perspectives. Meanwhile, Tourism Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun in witnessing the signing of the MoU, said such collaborative move between the higher learning institution and the hotel industry players is a great way towards improving human capital to support the rapidly growing tourism industry. “Hopefully, with more training being provided for our workers such as through this collaboration between UMS and STAR, the quality of the State’s human capital would be further improved,” he said. He said workers from Sabah are highly sought after by hotel operators in Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia due to their high professionalism and dedication. Speaking to reporters after the signing ceremony, Masidi said most of the hotels in Sabah, including the major-ones, are offering comparably good salary packages to their employees but there are still rooms for improvement. Answering a question, Masidi defended the hoteliers against allegation that they are more keen on hiring foreign staff compared to local and practises double standard in giving out managerial position, saying over 95 percent of the staff in all major hotels are local people. On another note, he said Sabah last year Sabah received more than 2.34 million tourists, contributed to more than 14 percent of the State’s Gross Domestic Product for 2007.


MP meets Minister over palm oil cess


Following a call by Malaysian Estate Owners Association for the abolition of oil palm cess imposed since June 2007 to subsidise the prices of cooking oil, Tawau Member of Parliament Datuk Chua Soon Bui met Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities Datuk Chin Fah Kui recently, urging the latter to find an alternative to the cess. Chua said she met Chin on March 10 in Kuala Lumpur to raise the grouses of estate owners over the cess as palm oil producers are also paying 7.5% tax imposed by the State Government. The double taxation is a big burden to many among them, and they hope the Federal Government will abolish it as soon as possible, she said. Chua regretted that no alternative to the imposition of cess in subsidizing cook oil prices has been worked out despite several meetings, dialogues and correspondences between the Minister and the industry players, especially in Tawau and Lahad Datu. She said she would follow up on the good efforts by former Tawau MP Shim Paw Fatt in pursuing the matter in Parliament. “I hope the Minister and his Ministry would seriously consider the proposal made by the industry players in Sabah, especially those in Tawau. It is very unfair indeed to penalize them after they have contributed a lot in promoting the industry in Sabah,” she said.


UPKO won’t give up People Devt Leader post


UPKO will be keeping the Bingkor People Development Leader (PDL) post which was held before by Bingkor Assemblyman Justin Guka even though the other Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties are vying for it. A reliable source from UPKO said the present Community Development Officer (CDO), Baidi Ariffin, will take over the Bingkor PDL post which was held by Justin for one term. “I believe UPKO will maintain this post instead of surrendering it to the other BN components,” said a reliable source from UPKO here yesterday. Last week, Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) had urged the Government to appoint someone from the other BN component parties for the Bingkor PDL post. PBS also wanted the elected people representative to practise power sharing among the components by giving PBS a bigger role and responsibility for the interest of the people in the area. “All the posts in the Bingkor area, especially in the PDL unit, must be shared equally through the BN spirit among all the component parties,” said PBS Bingkor Chief Majabin Dalinus. “Through the power sharing concept, the Ninth Malaysia Plan and Sabah Development Corridor can be implemented successfully,” he said. Meanwhile, it was learnt that people in Bingkor want the ‘Pemaju Mukim’ post to be increased to seven from the current three as the current political scenario warrants an increase.


Sabah Art Gallery workshops getting popular


In its effort to stimulate a greater interest and participation among members of the public in the visual art, the Sabah Art Gallery continues to organize various forms of art activities. Among them are the popular painting workshops conducted at the Gallery’s compound every weekend. Presently at least four different workshops are being organized every Saturday and Sunday morning from 9am till 12.3Opm. There are two painting workshops and two caricature or comic workshops being conducted by tutors. The workshops are free of charge. All the participants need to do is to bring along with them the necessary painting equipment and materials such as pencils, pens, brushes, crayon, pastel and water colour. Drawing cartoon or comic and caricature are new activities at the Sabah Art Gallery. However the activity is becoming enormously popular, particularly with the younger generation who are attracted to the present Japanese cartoon craze. As a result the members of the local cartoon association (Pakatun) with the help of the Sabah Art Gallery, have positioned themselves at various venues where they draw and sell their quick sketches to the public. As the workshops are conducted free of charge, the attendance at these venues fluctuates greatly. However most of them show great interest and eagerness in participating in the quarterly exhibition especially organized for them.


11 houses destroyed after lightning strike
100 people in Kampung Inanam Laut made homeless


Some 100 people from 11 families in Kampung Inanam Laut were made homeless after a fire destroyed their houses early yesterday evening. The fire, according to the residents in the village, started after lightning struck one of the wooden houses. All the 11 homes were burnt to the ground in less than an hour. Three fire engines and a tanker from the Kolombong, Sembulan and Penampang fire stations rushed to the village to stop the fast spreading fire from destroying the other houses. No casualties were reported and the Fire and Rescue Services Department had yet to confirm the actual cause of the fire. Meanwhile, ten squatter houses were razed to the ground when a fire broke out in Kampung Bersih, near Semporna yesterday. However, no casualties were reported in the incident. Semporna Fire and Rescue Chief Abdul Kadir Abdul Halalan said 11 firemen in two fire engines extinguished the flames at 1. 35pm after receiving a distress call at 11.03am. He said the cause of the fire and losses had yet to be determined.


Plastic use in making pisang goreng crispier: No reports in Sabah


How about some plastic shreds to make pisang goreng (banana fritters) and keledek crispier and tastier? There is no evidence to suggest Sabah’ own pisang goreng hawkers, popularly sought after for the snacks they are producing, are doing that dangerous and unbecoming thing here. But in Peninsular Malaysia, that is exactly what some pisang goreng hawkers are doing, having borrowed the idea from Thailand where the popular snack is common too. Consumers Association of Sabah and Labuan (CASH) President Datuk Patrick Sindu said he has personally - received similar complaints about the matter from consumers here. “This is an unhealthy practice and is hazardous to the health of consumers,” he said, adding that the Government must take action against unscrupulous hawkers for causing such health hazard to consumers. In fact, stern action must be taken against these hawkers, he said when asked to comment on a report by New Straits Times on Feb 29 that consumers’ demand for crispy snacks like pisang goreng and keledek has caused some hawkers in Peninsular Malaysia to use plastic in making banana fritters crispier. Meanwhile, the Sabah Health Department and Kota Kinabalu City Hall, when asked to comment on the report, said they haye yet to receive any complaints from the public about hawkers in the State resorting to the unhealthy practice. They however urged the public to report to them if they come across hawkers doing that as banana fritters produced that way are detrimental to the health of consumers. A number of pisang goreng stall operators in Kota Kinabalu who were approached in a random survey said they were not aware of such practice by hawkers in Peninsular Malaysia and also they did not know of any hawker doing it here. Nor Selina of Kepayan, who has been selling pisang goreng for more than five years, said it is irresponsible of the hawkers involved and their action could affect the business of innocent hawkers. “I love my business and would not do anything to harm it. The pisang goreng I make is not only for sale but also consumed by my family and myself, so why should I endanger their health,” she said. Nor Selina said she had never thought of adding plastic or any inedible stuff in making her pisang goreng crispier. “A good goreng pisang businesswoman knows what to do to make it crispy and delicious. For me, I have a secret recipe to make it delicious and crispier than normal,” she said. Nor Selina prepares her pisang goreng in full view of her customers so that they know that the popular tea-time snack for Malaysians is prepared inawholesome and hygienic manner. “I have heard my customers complaining about not being able to see the food being prepared in some other stalls. So I appeal to those in the same line of business not to follow what is being done in Peninsular Malaysia as it would not only harm their business but also other people’s business,” she said. Another pisang goreng maker, Mina, said she would never do anything harmful to the health of her customers. She said using plastic shreds to boost one’s business is just unthinkable. A consumer who declined to be named said she has yet to come across such a practice by pisang goreng hawkers in the State Capital. “I hope this will not happen in Sabah,” she said.


No hoppers from UMNO
Middlemen just frying to do business: Masidi


No Umno leaders in Sabah are crossing over to the Opposition, said State Umno Liaison Committee Assistant Secretary Datuk Masidi Manjun. He said although there are no laws that prevent them from hopping, Umno leaders in Sabah would not leave their course and will continue their struggle under Barisan Nasional for the benefit of the people they represent. “I don’t believe they would cross over simply because the Opposition invite them to do so. Politicians today are much smarter,” he said. Masidi was commenting on the claim that some Umno leaders had met Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Adviser Datuk Sen Anwar Ibrahim and expressed their willingness to cross over to the Opposition party. “I don’t think so lah; I think this is just about Malaysian politics being full of emotion. People can claim what they want,” he said. “The middlemen can claim anything they want, but basically they are just trying to do ‘business’. That’s all. They see a business proposition in the game of politics. That’s is they are claiming that they can arrange for people to ‘lompat’,” he said. On whether the Anti-Hopping Law should be enacted to legally prevent elected representatives from switching parties, Masidi said it is inconsistent with the freedom of choice and therefore unconstitutional, but it can still be done as seen in Bangladesh. He said the issue has been exhaustedly discussed in the media with some people harshly shooting down the idea while some others giving a more supportive view. The main argument lies with the question of whether it is consistent with the principle of freedom of choice, he said. “Legally, any law that stops people from hopping is unconstitutional as it goes against the principle of freedom of choice. But if you look at Bangladesh, the only country which practises Anti-Hopping Law, this idea can actually be done,” he said. “But what is important is that whatever law to be enacted, it has to be in line with and not against the principles enshrined in the Constitution. In this case, the freedom of choice.”