Tuesday, April 1, 2008


Six leaders met PM in their personal capacity
Yahya says they do not represent official views of Sabah Umno


The meeting six Sabah Umno leaders with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi recently was done, in their personal capacity. Sabah Umno Liaison Secretary Datuk Yahya Hussin said whatever discussed by the leaders and Abdullah did not represent the official views of Sabah Umno or Sabah Barisan Nasional (BN). “Whatever was voiced to the PM as done in their own capacity and not the official stand of Umno or BN here,” he said in a statement here yesterday. Yahya who is also the Deputy Chief Minister cum Agriculture and Food Industry Minister, said he was making the matter clear to avoid confusion. In his one-page statement, the Petagas Assemblyman said ie had to comment on the matter as many people asked him why the six Umno leaders met the PM to air their grouses, giving the impression that they were representing the official views of Sabah BN. “Why them? After all the Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman had already met the Prime Minister during the Umno meeting recently and the latter has agreed to come here to hear the views and feelings on the political situation in Sabah,” he said. “I don’t want to have any confusion. I have to make it clear that they are not official envoys and hence do not represent BN or Umno in Sabah,” he said. Yahya was referring to six State Umno leaders including two MPs and an Assemblyman who were recently invited for a breakfast meeting by the PM in Putrajaya to discuss feelings at the grassroots in Sabah. They were former Sipitang MP Datuk Dr Yusop Yacob, former Kota Belud MP Datuk Salleh Tun Said and former Tempasuk Assemblyman Tan Sri Pandikar Amin, all who were not fielded in the recent general election. The other three were Kinabatangan MP Datuk Bung Mokhtar Raden, Kalabakan MP Datuk Ghapur Salleh, who just recently resigned as Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment and Pantai Manis Assemblyman Datuk Abdul Rahim Ismail who was dropped as State Agriculture and Food Industry Minister, a portfolio now held by Yahya. It was said that the PM met the leaders to find out if there was a sense of restlessness among BN leaders and the Coalition’s supporters in Sabah but all six were reluctant to reveal what transpired during the discussion. Abdul Rahim, who is Papar Umno Division Chief, only said the discussion was like a father-and-sons meeting to discuss current political situation in general. Yahya also said Sabah Umno would continue to give undivided support and cooperation to Abdullah as the BN Chairman and Umno President.


Jeffrey invites State BN leaders to switch to Opposition camp


Parti Keadilan Rakyat Vice-President Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan yesterday openly invited the State Barisan Nasional (BN) leaders to become part of the country’s political “wind of change”. He said State BN leaders are now “singing the same song” calling for fairer and better treatment of Sabah by the Federal Government, adding that the time is ripe for them to make a difference. “ I’m glad that Sabah BN leaders are now singing the same song that I am singing. The issues they are raising are the same things I have - been saying all this while,” he said at a press conference at the 66 Memorial in Sembulan here yesterday. “They are all saying the same thing, that the State has been given a raw deal and that we are not getting fair treatment in the Federal Cabinet. “I urge them to continue, and not only to go on but to also create history for Malaysia and Sabah by considering also the oil situation and not just demanding for positions at Federal level. “Positions at Federal level are only one part (of the equation), it is not enough... what they need to do is be part of the wind of change. If Sabah leaders become part of the wind of change, they will be heroes,” he said. When asked if there are any and the number of BN leaders who have indicated interest in switching camp, Jeffrey admitted that there were discussions but declined to elaborate. “Yes (there is interest) in both Sabah and Sarawak. I am just trying to help them rationalise (switching camps). “Generally the trend is like that (support for the Opposition), and their minds are like that, but they have to act like that. If they don’t, then they are only in it (politics) for selfish purposes and only want position,” he said. To a question as to when they expect to see any movement from State BN leaders to switch camps as rumoured, Jeffrey gave little away, saying only that it will be akin to a domino effect. “If even just one leader moves, the rest will move. Be it because they are forced to or voluntarily, they will eventually have to move and it would be better if they decide themselves to strengthen the wind of change. “PKR is open ... Sabah is known as the Land Below The Wind and still we were hit by (typhoon) Greg, so I am confident we will be affected by the wind of change,” he said, referring to the 1997 storm that devastated Keningau and various parts of Sabah’s interior. Earlier before the press conference, Jeffrey laid a wreath of flowers at the memorial in what he said was in honour of the sacrifice and patriotism of the leaders who died in the tragic plane crash on June 6, 1976, which included the then Chief Minister Tun Fuad Stephens and several members of the State Cabinet. At the same function, Jeffrey also launched the controversial book “007 Lelaki Malaysia Terakhir?” by Mutalib MD, which already prompted two police reports against the author for alleged defamation. “Even before it was launched there were already two police reports against the book, but until now the police have yet to take action. However if the police want to take action, they can refer to the book because there is a lot of proof (on alleged wrong-doings) by some of our current leaders,” Jeffrey said.


MCA warns of detrimental effects


The declining number of East Malaysians in the Federal Cabinet is a cause of concern that could have detrimental effects to the Barisan Nasional (BN). National Central Youth MCA Committee Member cum Deputy State Youth Chief MCA Sabah, Wilfred Yong, yesterday pointed out that the number of East Malaysians holding senior ministerial portfolios in the Federal Government has declined since the 12th general election. Yong who stated this in a statement yesterday, was commenting on a statement made by State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datik Masidi Majun. “Whilst not wishing to add to the Prime Minister’s woes, I have to endorse and add to the comments made by Datuk Masidi Manjun,” he said. According to Yong, Masidi’s remarks was on the paucity of representation of Sabah BN at the highest levels of Government but pointed out that the same comments applied to the whole of East Malaysia. He said it is a fact that the number East Malaysians appointed to senior ministerial portfolios has actually declined since the election. “In Sabah and Sarawak people supporting BN candidates showed a strength of force on March 8 and in many cases, the majorities garnered by the candidates in these two States increased substantially compared with their counterparts in Peninsular Malaysia where there were disturbing losses of support,” he said. Yong lamented that even on a pro rata basis, Sabah had lost out, in the ‘reward’ of senior posts, especially when put alongside Umno’s home State of Johore. “Even though I accept that when drawing up his Cabinet, the Prime Minister has a difficult task to create an effective balance but I have to humbly express that he is running a serious risk of alienating loyal BN East Malaysians,” he stressed. “Many workers from all the BN component parties had put in incredible efforts prior to the election and Sabah particularly, had received scant reward of recognition for their work or loyalty,” he said. “By any measure East Malaysia is now the national bastion of BN and neither Umno nor any of the other parties should, by default, squander the vital 24 parliamentary seats. “Perhaps it is time the BN leadership break out from their KL-centric mindset and show by their actions that East Malaysians are really fully paid-up members and citizens of equal paramount of the nation. “Therefore, I call upon the central leadership to address ihis issue urgently and to really consider the well-being of Sabahans since it has become one of the poorest States in the country. I fear that failure to do so may result not only in a disillusioned electorate but an eventual catastrophe far worse than the March 8 general election,” Yong said.


Ghapur says won’t retract resignation


Kalabakan Member of Parliament Datuk Abdul Ghapur Salleh said yesterday he will not retract his resignation as Deputy Natural Resources and Environment Minister even after meeting the Prime Minister last Saturday. Abdul Ghapur who is also Kalabakan Umno Chief, said the meeting with Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was only to explain his reasons for resigning and to voice out the grassroots’ concerns. “There was no issue on retracting the resignation. I have explained my decision to the Prime Minister in my letter earlier,” he told Bernama. Abdul Ghapur and six other Sabah Umno leaders met Abdullah last Saturday to discuss the recent political scenario in Sabah. The leaders were former Chief Minister Datuk Seri Salleh Tun Said, former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia, former Sabah Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Datuk Abdul Rahim Ismail, Kinabatangan MP Datuk Bung Moktar Radin and former Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker Datuk Dr Yusof Yaacob.


MP urges revival of Special Affairs Ministry


Sepanggar MP Datuk Eric Majimbun has proposed that the Ministry of Special Affairs for Sabah and Sarawak be revived to help look after the interests of the two vast states. I urged the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to seriously consider restoring the Ministry arguing Sabah and Sarawak are too big and need to be given more attention. “These two states are too big; so why not we revive this Ministry again? I think they (Federal Government) need to view this seriously,” he said yesterday. The Ministry was created when Sabah and Sarawak joined Malaya to form Malaysia during the Berjaya era. Its objective was to look after the interests of the two states at the Federal level. Later, the Ministry was put under the Ministry of Rural and Regional Development. “Even though the role of the Rural and Regional Development Ministry is to provide development for the whole country, but overall I see no concentration is given to Sabah and Sarawak,” said Eric. The Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) leader also voiced concern over the weak control on the part of the State Government over immigration matters. “The State Government should tighten Immigration controls and practise the autonomy it has over this particular aspect as enshrined in the Constitution,” he said. He added the Government needs to seriously look into claims of immigrants having obtained Mykad documents and Malaysian citizenship status in Sabah. The issue, if left unchecked could pose a great threat to the security and sovereignty of the State and the country, he said. “I know there are a lot of suspected illegal immigrants operating their business in the Inanam open market but we cannot do anything because they have permits and possess genuine Mykad documents. “As a local I think most of us know how to distinguish between locals and foreigners based on their cultures, lifestyles and accents. “Therefore I think it is high time the State Government do something to really scrutinize these suspected foreigners who have obtained genuine Mykads,” Eric pleaded. On the forthcoming visit of the Prime Minister to Sabah, he urged State leaders to highlight to Abdullah the predicament of the Chinese vernacular and mission schools in Sabah which suffer from lack of financial support


Church Fire kills boy; injured dad and brother


A 11-year-old boy was killed when a fire broke out in a church at Kampung Iran, Jalan Kolapis here on Sunday night. El Frince Lee’s charred remains were found in a room of the church where he was staying with his family. His father, Lee Pui Yong, 43, and elder bother, El Jiran Lee, 12, were seriously injured in the fire and are currently warded in the Intensive Care Unit of the Duchess of Kent Hospital in Sandakan. Another of El Frince’s younger sibling sustained minor injuries while his mother and his sister escaped unhurt. Lee and El Jiran were believed to have been injured while trying to save El Frince, the second child in the family from the burning building, District Police Chief DSP Fadril Mohd Au said. According to Fadzil, the fire broke out about 9.05pm and was believed to have been sparked off by a candle. “The electricity to the town was cut off about 3pm on Sunday and the blackout lasted into the night,” he said, adding that Lee was the caretaker of the church and lived there with his family. Fadzil also said the police, who were informed of the fire, reported it to the Sandakan Fire and Rescue Services Department which dispatched a fire engine with seven firemen to the town located 90 kilometres away. “As the firemen were heading to the village, they received another call reporting of a fire that broke out at the stalls owned by the Beluran District Council,” Fadzil said, adding that the second fire broke out about 10pm. The second fire which destroyed 10 stalls, was also believed to haven been started by a candle, he said. However, no one was hurt in the second incident and the fire was prevented from spreading and causing damage to the other stalls.


Rounding mechanism on One Sen coins from today


Effective today, April 1, all over-the-counter payments will be subjected to the rounding mechanism vis a vis the One Sen coins. The total amount of a bill which ends in 1, 2, 6 and 7 sen will be rounded down while 3, 4, 8 and 9 will be rounded up to the nearest multiple of five sen. Those who prefer not to use the one sen coins to pay for their purchases can exchange them at the Bank Negara building here from 9.3Oam to 3pm. Bank Negara Malaysia Kota Kinabalu Branch Manager Ahmad Abd Rahim said although the one sen coins are still legal tender, for the convenience of the public who do not want to carry them around, they can exchange the coins into other denominations. “Those who want to get rid of their one sen coins can come to our office here during the specified hours to exchange them,” he said. Ahmad was commenting on queries from the public as to what will happen to the one sen coins in their possession and what they can do about them in terms of convenient payment transactions once the rounding mechanism is fully implemented. According to the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumers Affairs, the rounding mechanism only applies to the total amount of a bill and not on individual items. According to the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry, the implementation of the rounding mechanism brings benefits to both businesses and customers as businesses would be able to save on handling costs and for customers, it would make payments faster and more convenient. Ahmad, when asked for the reason of the introduction of the rounding mechanism, said: “I have no comment because it is under the authority of the Domestic Trade and Consumers Affairs Ministry.” He added that the public can obtain more details or information about the mechanism by calling the Ministry’s hotline number 1- 800-88-6800 and 1300-88-5465. Ahmad further said that those with damaged or torn Ringgit notes can also exchange them at the Bank Negara counters for new ones.


LDP to act on ‘rebel’s’
Few divisions face suspension for working against Party and BN in election

The Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) is expected to suspend a few of its divisions whose leaders and members were found to have gone against the Barisan Nasional in the March 8 general election. According to the Party Deputy President Datuk Chin Su Phin, who also heads the LDP Disciplinary Committee, a few leaders and members would inevitably be facing disciplinary action for working against the party and the BN Coalition. During the election, Chin said it was discovered that BN components, including the LDP, were not only racing the Opposition but also challenges from fellow BN parties. The drastic, disciplinary actions would be part of an exercise to restructure the party to ensure the LDP would become stronger within the BN Coalition, he said yesterday. Chin said LDP President Datuk V K Liew had delegated the powers to implement those tasks, which would be carried out after the Party’s Supreme Council meeting on April 12. “During the meeting, the Supreme Council will delegate the powers to the Disciplinary Committee to carry out the task of restructuring the party as soon as possible,” he said. Chin recalled that the worse thing was that LDP also faced opposition from own party members, and that is why it had to take action immediately. Such drastic action is necessary to ensure LDP would remain strong, according to him. “We have already submitted our report on the matter to the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi during the recent BN Supreme Council meeting in Kuala Lumpur. “We strongly believe the BN leadership will look into the matter seriously. Drastic action must be taken, otherwise in the next general election, we might lose to ourselves (fellow BN members),” said Chin, who called on Liew, who is the Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister, at the latter’s office in Kuala Lumpur recently. Chin, who was accompanied by LDP Vice-President Isaac Pang and the Party’s Publicity Officer Albert Kok, said one of the objectives of meeting with Liew was to learn about the new activities and programs of MITI. According to him, MITI is a very important portfolio as it deals with matters that are related to both domestic and international trade and the industrial sector. As the Prime Minister had done away with the Parliamentary Secretary posts in the new Federal Administration, Chin said the duties of Deputy Ministers would be heavier and more demanding as compared to in the previous administration. In his new job, Liew is required to travel overseas more often to carry out his duties in promoting Malaysia, according to Chin. Nevertheless, he said Liew had given his assurance that the latter would try his level best to come back to Sandakan to visit his constituents. Liew will set up his Service Centre in Sandakan and will meet people personally once a month and try his best at both the state and national levels to assist the people in addressing their problems, he said, adding that during their meeting they also discussed party matters, including issues related to Sandakan. “The LDP will be setting up a Special Committee soon to assist Liew in rendering services and to bring in more development and progress to the district and the people,” said Chin.