Friday, March 28, 2008


Another wake-up call to national leadership: Yong


The sudden resignation of Datuk Abdul Ghapur Salleh as Deputy Natural Resources and Environment Minister should serve as another wake-up call to the national leadership to re-look at Sabah and Sarawak’s representation in the central administration, said SAPP President Datuk Seri Panglima Yong Teck Lee yesterday. He said that the veteran politician from Sabah who won the Kalabakan parliamentary seat uncontested in the recent general election, must have good reasons for quitting from his post. Yong recounted that when .Ghapur was a Deputy Chief Minister cum Minister of Finance in the State Cabinet in 1996-1998 when the former was the Chief Minister, Ghapur also abruptly resigned. Although Ghapur did not announce the reasons (which in that case was not related to governmental duties), Yong said that Ghapur normally had good and sound reasons for resigning. “Although he latter retracted his resignation from the State Cabinet then after meeting the then Prime Minister, this time it looks like Datuk Ghapur will not retract his resignation. “I guess that he also has good reasons. He has served in various capacities in the State Government and is a veteran and senior politician, having been an assemblyman ever since the Berjaya era in the 1970s. In Parliament, although he is a second term MP, he commands much attention from other MPs,” said Yong. According to the former Chief Minister, Ghapur’s resignation reiterates the growing view even in Kuala Lumpur and among Umno circles that Sabah deserves more recognition and respect from the national leadership and the BN. “Although it is sad to see Datuk Ghapur resign, and hence Sabah has lost yet another post in the Federal Government, I hope this latest resignation will be another wake-up call to the national leadership to relook Sabah and also Sarawak. “This is a once in a life time for Sabah and Sarawak to prove themselves in the national coalition,” Yong added.


Surveyors delegate work to freelancers
MP urges Board to revoke licences of registered surveyors


Putatan Member of Parliament Datuk Dr Marcus Mojigoh yesterday urged the Sabah Surveyors Board to revoke the licences of surveyors registered with the Board but are no longer operating in Sabah. He said the situation is akin to cheating, as the surveyors are delegating the work to “freelance technicians” when they are supposed to personally oversee whatever work they were engaged to carry out. “These people are not here but their plans are already signed. It is doubtful that they are signing the plans, so my question is who is signing the plans?” he said when met at the First Surveyors Congress at Pacific Sutera here yesterday. “This situation is not fair to their clients because when the clients go to their office seeking advice, they are not around and are instead referred to whoever has been assigned to handle the work. “These people are also depriving the local practitioners of contracts, which are becoming scarce,” he said. Marcus, a former chairman of the Board, explained that the Board’s constitution states that a surveyor must have a minimum of six months of residency in Sabah every year before the issuance or renewal of a licence to operate here. “However we find surveyors who are no longer based here but are still getting contracts. I am not happy with what the Board is doing at the moment, giving licences to people who are not operating in Sabah. “There is a need for corrective measures and for the Board to do its job in ensuring the licences are issued to surveyors who are truly qualified and meet the residential requirement,” he said. Marcus believes that nine out of the 22 surveyors registered with the Board are no longer operating within Sabah. “All surveyors must make a statutory declaration before a Commissioner of Oaths saying that they have fulfilled the six months residency before they can be issued with a licence. “The onus is on the surveyors to prove to the Board that they have fulfilled the residential requirement. These people (surveyors) are my friends, but my contention here is that they must be, professional and not cheat… it is a crime to cheat,” he said


Umno sending sign as if BN ship sinking: Tham


Umno’s move to send a recee team to Sabah and Sarawak to spy on the Members of Parliament (MPs) from the Barisan Nasional (BN) is not only an insult, but also sending a panic sign as if the ‘BN ship’ is fast sinking, according to a senior leader from Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP). Datuk Tham Nyip Shen, who heads the SAPP’s think-tank, said that the recent statement by Umno Secretary- General Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor to send a recce team to the two States to check on. the MPs inevitably reminded one of the dramatic scenes in the blockbuster epic movie — “Titanic”, where its crew started fleeing as it sank. “While I cannot guarantee this (jumping ship) will not happen, I presume there are many ways to prevent this from happening, but definitely not by sending spies as this is no different from telling others that our own friends and allies are deserting us like the crew fleeing the Titanic. What about the voters who are the ‘passengers’ of the ship? How can we convince them to continue to support us?” he asked. The former Deputy Chief Minister also contended that there should be no such fear of BN MPs in Sabah and Sarawak defecting, if the Central Leadership treated Sabah and Sarawak with more respect and fairness. He added that BN should perhaps take a cue from the just-concluded Taiwan Presidential Election in which the once very powerful ruling party, Kuomintang which was voted out of power in 2000, was overwhelmingly voted back into power again by the people of Taiwan. In the recent election inTaiwan, Tham said the KMT won 2.21 million votes which were more than the ruling DPP, representing 58.45 per cent and 41.55 per cent respectively. “BN has much to learn from the Taiwan Koumintang. A temporary setback is normal but first and foremost, BN should take its poor performance in the last general election seriously as a wake-up call. It must work hard to bounce back stronger at another time,” he said. Tham reckoned that the BN should immediately organize itself, set up committees and sub-committees to study every issue that affects the nation and its people. Every single step taken must be carefully thought out and every statement made must be ‘politically and emotionally’ correct. “The BN should work hard to win back all that has been lost. The leadership should really make an effort to lead, at the same time groom new, young leaders to continue,” he asserted. Tham also reckoned that the BN component parties must strive to strengthen the BN spirit, stressing that it must be seen to be done. He explained that this was because apart from Umno, MCA and MIC, the rest of the component parties are treated as mere “followers” — or associate, members — who really have no say in major issues. While noting that the BN power sharing is a good concept worth keeping, he nonetheless reiterated that it must be practiced in its true spirit.


Harris demands apology, compensation from IRB
Board has allegedly published defamatory statements on ex-CM


Former Chief Minister Datuk Harris Mohd Salleh has demanded for a public apology and compensation from the Inland Revenue Board (IRB) for allegedly publishing defamatory statements relating to the disposal of his property in Labuan. A letter containing the demand for an apology and compensation from the IRB was made through his solicitors, Messers Maringking & Co, two days ago to the Board. Senior lawyer Yunof Maringking, a senior partner from the legal firm, has confirmed that they were acting for Harris and had written to IRB, demanding for a public apology and compensation from the Board. Harris has also given a standing instruction to institute legal action against the IRB for alleged negligence and defamation, he said when contacted yesterday. It is reliably learnt that Harris, who was the Chief Minister of Sabah during the Berjaya Government from 1976 to 1985, is asking for RM10 million compensation from the IRB. The IRB has allegedly issued an order through the Kota Kinabalu IRB office early this year, barring Harris from leaving the country until he has paid a sum of RM419,715.62 in Real Property Gains Tax to the Board. A certificate dated Feb 22, 2008 purportedly signed by the Kota Kinabalu IRB Principal Assistant Director (Collection) Shahril Jalinus had been issued under Section 22(1) of the Real Property Gains Tax Act, 1976 to compel Harris to fully settle the amount or furnish security to the satisfaction of the Director—General. Copies of the certificate and ban letters had been extended to the Inspector- General of Police and Immigration Director-General requesting them to take necessary action to prevent Harris from leaving the country unless he has settled the tax arrears. On Wednesday, Harris said he had been served with the ban letters both in Bahasa Malaysia and English and described the whole matter as a mistake on the part of the authorities which bordered on malice or was politically-motivated. He said the matter had been referred to his lawyers and instructed them to convey his demand for a public apology and appropriate compensation from the IRB. Harris clarified that he vas not liable to pay the Real Property Gains Tax and the IRB had issued him a letter in 2005 stating that the land involved in the transaction was not subjected to tax. It was stated that the letter of demand for apology and compensation from the IRB that submission of forms with all relevant particulars for tax assessment on the disposal of Harris’ property in Labuan was done professionally through a firm of accountant. In fact one officer from the IRB branch in KualaLumpur had expressly confirmed in a letter dated Oct 24, 2005 that the disposal of the said property is not subject to any tax under the Property Gains Tax.


Better to hold Umno polls this year: Masidi


It would be better for Unmo to hold its party elections sooner than later to ensure the party can get back on track as soon as possible, said Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun. He said whether the party elections will be held this year or the next, whatever perceived problems within the party will still be present until a move is made towards finding solutions. “Whether we have it now or later, we will still need to make our selection. We cannot deny that something is wrong (in the party). Something is seriously wrong and it would be better to settle these problems now,” he said yesterday. Masidi, who is also Umno Ranau Chief, said he understands the fears of division within the ranks if the party elections are held as scheduled this August but expressed his faith in the maturity of the party members. “There are some whose views are perceived as going against the party leadership, but I don’t think we should interpret their views as such. I interpret every opinion as a manifestation of the desire to see the party get better. “We should look at it positively, rather than just looking at the negative aspects. I believe the party should sit down, discuss the problems and weaknesses that we obviously saw in the past elections and take brave steps towards solving these problems,” he said. When asked to comment on calls by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah for an EGM in May, Masidi said it may not be needed. “If we are going to have the elections this year, I believe there is no necessity to have an EGM because all issues can be exhaustively discussed at the normal AGM. “Perhaps what they may want to do is to have a longer period for the AGM to give ample time for everyone to air their views,” he said. Masidi added that Umno leaders and members should wait until the AGM to make their opinions known as it would be the proper forum for any discussions regarding party matters. “As far as possible, we should not wash our dirty linen in public. There is a proper forum for Umno members to discuss ... if you have an opinion, keep it and say it out in the normal forum provided for in the party,” he said.


Give Umno time before polls: Yahya


Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Yahya Hussin said Umno should be given time to examine its weaknesses and regain its strength before holding its party elections. In supporting a suggestion to postpone the party elections to next year, Yahya said there is no need for Umno to rush into holding its elections when it should be giving attention to more urgent issues. “The rationale is that we just concluded the general election and are busy establishing the new Governments both at the Federal and State levels. Moreover, we feel that there are some weaknesses in Umno as seen in the election results,” he told reporters after presenting assistance to SRJK Hwa Shiong and Hwa Shiong Kindergarden in Putatan near here yesterday. The State Umno Liaison Secretary argued that the shocking setback in the general election showed there are some weaknesses in Umno that must first be rectified. However, he said Umno and BN remained strong in Sabah as it won all the contested seats except for Kota Kinabalu and Sri Tanjung which was lost to the DAP. But, Umno as a whole needs to emphasise on understanding and resolving these weaknesses first before having its elections, according to him. “We could wait for calm and a more appropriate time to hold the elections. There should be no problem on that,” he said. Yahya who is also the new Agriculture and Food Industry Minister presented electrical equipment comprising 10 units of computers, a projector, LCD and printer to the schools. “The Supreme Council has decided to have an 18-month extension period and there should be no problem for the Party to hold the elections next year which is still within the extended period. The Council has the right and it is up to it to decide the date for the meeting.” On Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah’s proposal for Umno to hold a special extraordinary general meeting (EGM) this May, he said if the motive is for the good of the party then it should be considered but if it is more towards worsening the situation, then it is inappropriate and should be rejected. “This is a country that upholds the freedom of expression which gives people the right to express their thoughts and make suggestions. “If we think what we are about to do could split the party then we maybe we should think about it,” he said. He urged all Umno members to ensure that whatever action they take would only further strengthen the Party and not the opposite. Tengku Razaleigh in proposing his idea said the EGM is for members to discuss the Party’s poor performance in the general election. He has received support from many quarters including former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who strongly backed his suggestion saying the meeting would give all parties opportunities to voice their opinions and resolve the problems face by Umno.


Focus on projects that improve life of rural citizens: Yong


The Government will continue to place emphasis on projects that increase the quality of life for rural citizens and are education related as well as to improve the Government’s service delivery system. This is to build capacity and increase the resilience of the nation’s economy, Assistant Local Government and Housing Minister Edward Yong Oui Fah said when officiating the Home and Decor Sabah and Buildcon Sabah Exhibition 2008 at the Sabah Trade Centre here yesterday. It is forecasted that more contract works for the construction industry will be awarded in the early stages of the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP) which is expected to unveil many growth plans involving physical and non- physical developments aimed at preparing Malaysia to become a developed nation by 2020. A ceiling expenditure of approximately RM150 billion for 2006-2010 is expected from 9MP, he said. “In the past, to boost the Malaysian construction industry, the Government had used the construction sector as an instrument to pump prime the economy. However, the construction industry in Malaysia has matured and our nation is about to enter into the next stage of economic development in facing the current economic challenge,” he added. Yong said the Government is devising a separate economic strategy to promote growth giving priority to new potential sectors, but not lessening the importance of construction to sustain growth in a highly competitive market. He also urged the industry players to be proactive in managing their construction business by becoming less reliant on Government projects. Instead, they are encouraged to initiate viable private driven projects. The exhibition is a one-stop sourcing hub for buyers, contractors, developers, interior designers and building professionals in the building business. It offers a wide range of products and services from building material, construction, equipment, interior furnishing products and building intelligent technology.


Ghapur quits but stays on in BN


Kalabakan Member of Parliament Datuk Ghapur Salieh has relinquished his post as Deputy Natural Resources and Environment Minister. He told Bernama yesterday that he submitted his resignation letter to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in Putrajaya on Wednesday morning. He said he had also informed Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman about his resignation. He dismissed talks that he would be hopping over to the Opposition, which is said to be trying to lure several MPs from Sabah and Sarawak since the conclusion of the 12 general election which saw the Barisan Nasional (BN) lose its two-thirds majority in Parliament, and five states to the Opposition. Ghapur, who won the Kalabakan seat unopposed in the March 8 polls, said he would continue to be the elected representative and Kalabakan Umno division head. “All that talks are not true as I have my own principles. Even before, when Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) came into power (1985), all the State Assemblymen from Parti Berjaya (which was then a BN component) except me, crossed over to PBS. So based on this, people should be able to gauge my stand,” he said. Ghapur is the second MP from Sabah and the third person to resign as a Federal Deputy Minister in the aftermath of the BN’s election debacle. Immediately after Abdullah announced the Cabinet line-up on March 18, Kimanis MP Datuk Anifah Aman rejected his appointment as Deputy Transport Minister while Datuk Seri Tengku Azian Sultan Abu Bakar, the MP for Jerantut, turned down the post of Deputy Foreign Minister. Asked why he decided to quit eight days after accepting the post, Ghapur, 64, said: “I don’t want to be tied down to the duties of a Deputy Minister because I want to concentrate fully on the residents of Kalabakan.” He has many children studying overseas and being a Deputy Minister would curtail his time to visit them, according to him. Earlier, Ghapur told reporters at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport that in his resignation letter, he thanked the Prime Minister for selecting him as a candidate in the recent general election and for appointing him as a Federal Deputy Minister. “Initially, I did not want to accept any Federal post, including a minister’s post, but since I got to know about the appointment from the TV, I did not have the chance to inform about my intention of not accepting any Federal post. “On that announcement, I respected the Prime Minister’s decision and after having taken the of office) I forwarded my resignation letter.” Asked whether Abdullah accepted his resignation, Ghapur, a former Sabah Deputy Chief Minister, said he had explained at length why he resigned and believed that the Prime Minister would accept it. “But my decision is final, and I did it in the interest of my family, especially, my children who are studying overseas. “I feel the Deputy Minister’s post carries a huge responsibility and I do not want to be tied down to Government regulations where I cannot be actively involved in business and do a lot of other things ... so I think it’s better for me to be a Government supporter instead,” he said. On the Kalabakan people’s reaction to his resignation, Ghapur said it was not a problem because “what is important to them is development for the benefit of the people”. Asked whether he would be replaced by another Umno MP from Sabah, he said it is up to the Prime Minister. Ghapur’s resignation added pressure on Abdullah in this politically difficult time for the BN and Umno. Sarawak ensured BN’s cling to power in the elections, which gave Umno the fright of its life. De facto Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim told Reuters last week that ruling-party lawmakers were willing to defect to the Opposition, threatening to drag down the Government. The Opposition said it was not certain why Ghapur resigned. “One reason might be that he is dissatisfied with the post. What other plans he has I really don’t know,” said Syed Husin Ali, the Deputy Chief of Anwar’s People’s Justice Party (Keadilan). “So far he has not applied.”.


Father and daughter drown, three rescued as vehicle falls into river


A father and daughter were found drowned while three others survived when the four-wheel drive vehicle they were in fell into the Mahandoi River here, on Wednesday night. The driver, Justin Diit, 49, and his nine- year-old daughter, Adriana Dositin, wet missing in the 9.30pm incident after the vehicle ended in the river, while his three sons, aged between five and 11, were rescued by villagers. District Police Chief DSP Madang Usat, in disclosing this, said thevictims were on their way home to Kampung Mahandoi after visiting relatives from the same village. “It was learnt that Justin had lost control of the vehicle before it skidded and fell “However, three of his four children were saved by villagers,” he said. Justin’s body was found still intact in the vehicle, which was washed away 30 metres from where the car had dropped, close to midnight while search and rescue operation for the daughter went on until yesterday. The girl’s body was recovered at 9. 30am yesterday, close to where the vehicle was found. Madang said the three survivors are being treated at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital. Their conditions are reported to be stable. Both bodies were sent to the hospital for a post-mortem.