Friday, April 11, 2008


Jazz Festival will be held in KK


Mayor Datuk Iliyas Ibrahim said the City Hall fully supports the efforts of organising a Jazz Festival in the City. The City Hall would render its full support and assistance to the organizers, he said during a meeting with the organizing committee of the Kota Kinabalu Jazz Festival who called on him recently. The committee briefed the Mayor on several aspects of the upcoming Jazz Festival, including the line-up of performers. The Rotary Club of Kota Kinabalu (RCKK) is the main organiser of the Jazz Festival which is jointly organized by the Society of Performing Arts Kota Kinabalu Sabah (SPArKS). Organizing Chairman Frankie Fu said: “The festival is also seen as a prime motivator in the encouragement and education of the positive elements of Jazz music and to serve as a platform to incorporate and introduce Sabahan musicians to the world of International Jazz and Latin Music.” Iliyas expressed his full support of the organisers’ efforts, stating that everyone in Sabah loves music, and City Hall has organized various musical events. The Mayor also commended the organizers for the success of last year’s Kota Kinabalu Jazz Festival which was the first such festival in the City and was a roaring success. Additionally, the organisers have decided to hold a Mascot Design Contest in conjunction with the Jazz festival. It is open to all secondary school students in Sabah. The winning design will be the Kota Kinabalu Jazz Festival ambassador and will be incorporated in all publicity materials for the Jazz Festival. The organiser has also called on Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun at his office in Karamunsing.


17-storey budget hotel to be built in Tawau


The moves by the Sabah Urban Development Corporation (SUDC) and Promenade Hotel to build a proposed 17-storey budget hotel in Tawau is timely, said Tourism, Culture an Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun. He said the completion of the hotel in the near future would ease the shortage of rooms to cater for the increasing tourist arrivals to the State, Masidi welcomed the development of the proposed hotel at the Management Agreement signing between the SUDC Sdn Bhd through its subsidiary Perusahan Pusaka Timur Sdn Bhd and Promenade Hotel. Sdn Bhd here yesterday. SUDC was represented by its Managing Director Haji Abu Bakar M. Yahya and Company Secretary Pengiran Mahmuddin Tahir, while Promenade Hotel by its Managing Director Kong Hock Sian and General manager Alex Cham. Also present were SEDCO Chairman Datuk Mohd Lan Aliani and Industrial Development Ministry’s Permanent Secretary Ismail Abdullah. Masidi said the joint efforts between SUDC and Promenade Hotel Sdn Bhd would contribute positively to the development of the tourism sector in the State. As such, he urged other hotel operators to emulate SUDC and Promenade Hotel Sdn Bhd in complementing the Government’ efforts. He said the four and five star hotel provided about 80 per cent of accommodation to visitors.


Tourism sector won’t be affected: Masidi


Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun has assured that the train accident in Tenom would have no negative impact on the tourism sector in Sabah. He said the railway service introduced during the Colonial rule in Sabah is mainly to cater for the local commuters and not the tourists. “The trains are mainly for social service for the local people and the service provided by the Railway Department is not within the jurisdiction of tourism body,” said Masidi. He was commenting on the train accident in Tenom on Wednesday where two passengers were killed and 26 others injured. Speaking to reporters after witnessing the management agreement signing between the SUDC Sdn Bhd through its subsidiary Perusahan Pusaka Timur Sdn Bhd and Promenade Hotel Sdn Bhd for the development of a hotel in Tawau here yesterday, Masidi said the accident should serve as a lesson to the Railway Department. He reckoned that the Department should carry out constant monitoring on the condition along the railway tracks. “I personally feel sad that two persons died and many others injured in the accident. Efforts must be made by the Railway Department to ensure the accident will not recur,” said Masidi.


No increase yet in prices of noodles


A recent hike in the price of noodles (mee) by the Flour Millers Association Malaysia will likely affect Sabahans. A random survey by The Borneo Post showed that eateries and retailers here have yet to increase the prices of noodles or dishes. Fatimah Amit, the owner of Restoran Hafizah in Likas, said she read the news yesterday and was shocked to find the increased price of noodles to be quite high in the Peninsular. “Before this, I bought a pack of noodles for RM1 .60, but after the price hike, I guess I would have to buy the noodles for RM2. 30 per pack,” she said. According to her, she has not increased the prices of her dishes but probably will have to reduce the quantity of the food served to customers. “Of course the customers would complain if there is an increase in food prices, but hopefully they will understand that it is because of the price hike done by the supplier, not us,” she said. Fatimah said an increase in the prices of other goods such as eggs and chickens probably will force her to increase the prices of her dishes as well. Meanwhile, a storekeeper at a supermarket here said that there is no increase in the prices of noodles despite the price hike in the Peninsular recently. “However, if the Government announces the price hike of noodles, then we probably have to increase the local prices of noodles too,” he said. Kamarul bin Omar, 27, a customer, hopes that the Government will review the price hike of noodles and other foods as well. “It will definitely burden the customers at restaurants and food outlets especially the unmarried people who usually eat outside,” he said. Another customer, Dayang Noor Ammie bt Awg Damit also agreed that the price hike needs to be reviewed again. “For those who have a high salary, it won’t cause any burden to them, but for those who cannot afford a price hike even just a few cents, it will burden them and their families,” she said. Dayang also expressed her hope that the government will review the price hike of other foods as well.


Pandikar Amin vows to be fair to all as Speaker


Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia, the former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, has pledged to be fair to all in discharging his duties if he is chosen as the new Dewan Rakyat Speaker. Pandikar Amin, who was informed by Sabah Barisan Nasional (BN) Chairman Datuk Seri Musa Aman on Tuesday that he would be nominated for the post, said there was no denying that the sitting for 12th parliamentary term would be more challenging than previously as the number of opposition members had increased to 82 as against BN’s 140, with many new faces among them. “First and foremost, it’s necessary to be fair to both sides, meaning we should listen, and listen well, to the voice of both sides,” he told Bernama here yesterday. Pandikar Amin, who obtained his law degree from Lincoln’s Inn, London, was the Sabah State Legislative Assembly Speaker for nearly two years between 1986 and 1987. His experience in Parliament was as a Senator in 1988, and again between 1999 and 2002 when he was appointed Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department. “To me, it will be a challenging task but it should not be a problem,” said Pandikar Amin who is from Kota Belud, the Bajau heartland of Sabah. Pandikar Amin, 52, admitted that the parliamentary sessions this time around would be more lively. “We can’t avoid heated discussions in parliamentary sittings but this doesn’t mean that members of the House would all be quarreling,” said Pandikar Amin who is former state Agriculture and Fisheries Minister. The Parliament sitting this time around would also be aired live over RTM for 30 minutes from l0 am, covering the question-and-answer session. Pandikar Amin was confident that the Dewan Rakyat proceedings would go on as normal even with the live telecast because similar telecast was also being practised in other countries like India, England and Australia. “If there are members of the house who go overboard, it’s the duty of the speaker to tell the members to behave,” he said. The nomination for the Speaker’s post should be forwarded 14 days prior to the swearing-in of Members of Parliament, scheduled for April 28. Meanwhile, former Secretary to the Parliament Datuk Abdullah Abdul Wahab said apart from the criteria stipulated under the Standing Order, a Dewan Rakyat speaker must also be a respected person and accepted by both the Government and the opposition. He told Bernama that this would enable a speaker to discharge his duties effectively and ensure the smooth-running of the proceedings. “He must be respected by both sides as he will be the one who decides, in which the house must agree upon. “When a Speaker is respected by members of the House, his decision will also be respected,” said Abdullah, who held various posts in the more than two decades of service in parliament before retiring in May 2006. Abdullah said a Dewan Rakyat Speaker would also be representing the country in international fora, thus it was important for a speaker to be someone who is respected internationally, he said. “The candidate for the post should be a person of high integrity, fair and able to interpret the law,” he said. Apart from Pandikar Amin, five-term MP Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar (Santubong, Sarawak) and three-term MP Datuk Ronald Kiandee (Beluran, Sabah) were also said to be among those being considered for the two Deputy Speaker’s post. Wan Junaidi and Ronald had confirmed that they were told about it unofficially and expressed their willingness to fill the post.


JPPS to be disbanded as promised


The State’s request for the abolition of Sabah Federal Development Department (JPPS) has been discussed at the Federal level, said Chief Secretary to the Federal Government Tan Sri Mohd Sidek Hassan, who assured that the move would be carried out as promised by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. He said the matter was discussed during the Federal Cabinet meeting in Putrajaya on Wednesday and Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman has been informed of the progress of the discussion during a meeting here yesterday. “I have informed the Chief Minister. It is now still at discussion level but, as promised by the Prime Minister, we will do it,” he told reporters after attending a dialogue with the State local authorities at Pacific Sutera here yesterday. He said there are going to be several other discussions to be held as the parties involved go through some details before the Department is finally disbanded. The proposal to do away with JPPS was one of the main issues raised by Sabah BN leaders during their meeting with the Prime Minister on Sunday. They argued that JPPS, which was set up to monitor the implementation of Federal Government’s development project in Sabah during the PBS rule, has been no longer relevant since BN took over the State administration. Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi after the meeting admitted the request was reasonable, saying it is a sensible move towards addressing the issue of overlapping power and delays in implementation of development projects in Sabah. Touching on another issue, Mohd Sidek urged more Sabahans to apply for positions in federal departments. He said there are currently not many civil servants from Sabah serving in federal agencies, making it difficult to give more senior federal position to Sabahans. “The appointment (of senior officers) is usually based on merit, but if all are based on merit and not many are interested to work at federal agencies, then it would be a bit difficult, which is why I encourage those from Sabah and Sarawak to be members of the federal civil services. “This would enable us to have more officers from this State and therefore we can give more senior positions. But there are not many of them now. Maybe (they) prefer to serve with the State Government,” he said. He was commenting on request from the state leaders for more senior positions at the federal level to be given to Sabahans.


Assemblymen to be sworn in April 29


All the 60 Assemblymen elected in the March 8 general election will be sworn in during the first sitting of the 13th five-year term of Sabah State Legislative Assembly on April 29, starting at l0 am. State Assembly Secretary Bernard J. Dalinting said the newly-elected legislators would take their oath of office before the Speaker of the august house. He said the official opening of the first session of the State Assembly sitting would be graced by Head of State Tun Ahmadshah Abdullah on the following day, starting at 9. 30am. The Assembly proceedings would resume on May 5 until May 7, said Bernard in a statement yesterday. In the recent 12th general election, the Sabah Barisan Nasional (BN) won 59 of the 60 state seats, losing only Sri Tanjung to Jimmy Wong of DAP. The BN also won 24 of the 25 parliamentary seats, losing only Kota Kinabalu to DAP’s Dr Hiew King Cheu.


I thought I would die, says trapped assistant driver


It was a terrifying moment for the assistant driver after the Sabah Railway Department train plunged into the Padas River on Wednesday afternoon. Relating his scary experience to Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman from his hospital bed here yesterday, Awang Amale, 35, said he was trapped in the cabin of the Beaufort-bound train that fell into the river. Awang, who suffered a broken left leg in the incident, said he was with the driver and station master in the cabin as it went down all of a sudden. “The train was travelling as usual at between 15 and 20 km per hour, and suddenly I realised the train was falling into the Padas River and sinking,” he said. “I and the station master were trapped in the cabin while the driver had managed to escape,” he said, adding that at that moment, he felt he was going to die after having drunk a lot of water. “But luckily, I managed to open the window of the cabin and get out with the station master,” said Awang, who is from Kampung Benoni, Papar. He said he managed to swim to the river bank despite being seriously injured, but he had to be helped out of the river by people at the scene. “This was my first such experience since working for the State Railway Department and during that time when I was trapped inside the cabin, I thought I would die,’ he said. According to Awang, the same train was previously derailed twice, the first time at Mile 62 1/2 Beaufort and then at Mile 61 1/2. Awang started working temporarily at the Tenom Station year ago following the suspension of Beaufort-Tanjung Aru railway service to make way for upgrading work. Meanwhile, Musa spent about an hour comforting Awang and Rina Randi, 24, who were both admitted to Keningau Hospital for treatment. The Chief Minister, who was accompanied by Deputy Chief Minister cum Infrastructure Development Minister Datuk Raymond Tan, Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister Datuk Radin Malleh and State Health Department Director’s representative Dr Heric Cooray, also made donations to the two victims. Rina was said to be suffering from internal injury and underwent an operation yesterday. Both patients were reported to be in stable condition.


Railway track to be moved further from river banks


The section of the railway track here that was damaged by a landslide which caused a train to plunge into the Padas River about 3pm on Wednesday, killing two persons and injuring several others, will not be repaired. Instead, a bypass will be built in the vicinity, said Deputy Chief Minister, Datuk Raymond Tan Shu Kiah here yesterday. He said similarly, routes or stretches deemed dangerous or too close to the river bank will also be diverted. “Since the Government is in the process of reconstructing and upgrading the railway track (140km between Tanjung Aru in Kota Kinabalu and here), we might as well do a new route instead of just repairing or replacing the damaged track,” he said. Tan, who was accompanying Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman in a visit to the scene of accident about three kilometres from here, said an alternative connection will be explored as soon as possible for those who need to use the Beaufort-Tenom railway service regularly. The Infrastructure Development Minister described this as their “immediate action” in tackling the transportation problem, stressing however that safety would be their top priority. Tan said his Ministry will be working closely with the Assemblymen of the affected areas to find a solution. “We would study and find the best transportation system to replace the train for now,” he said, adding that many people along the route depend on the train service, particularly teachers and students. The State railway service started operation in 1896 along the route from Tanjung Aru in Kota Kinabalu to here. However, the Tanjung Aru-Papar route service was temporarily halted last year to make way for upgrading works on the railway track . The Beaufort-Tenom route service however continues as usual for the benefit of the residents, as well as foreign tourists who would be dropped at Pangie for whitewater rafting. Besides claiming two lives, the railway accident on Wednesday caused serious’ injuries to three people and minor injuries to 19 others.


Railway services suspended
Affected residents along railway route to be provided with alternative transport, says CM


The railway services between here and Beaufort have been suspended. Announcing this here yesterday, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman urged the Sabali Railway Department to investigate the accident and take necessary steps to prevent similar mishaps in the future.“What is important here is for the Department or the Infrastructure Development Ministry to ensure the railway tracks are built on a strong formation that is located at a safe distance from the river banks,” he said. Musa said alternative transportation will be provided for the regular railway service users, particularly teachers, students and farmers residing along the 40km railway track between Beaufort and here, as most of the communities there are not accessible by sealed road. He said the Infrastructure Development Ministry will be looking for alternative transportation for them and is now studying the various options available. “We would need to find out about the road routes, dirt tracks or whatever possible links that could help them for now until normal service resumes.” Musa said the Department will be conducting an operation to retrieve the train that fell into the river on Wednesday. Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Department said the entire salvage operation will take at least two weeks to complete given the prevailing wet weather conditions and the rugged terrain of the site where the accident occurred. The accident claimed two lives and caused serious injuries to at least three people and minor injuries to 9 others. Yesterday, Musa presented a donation of RM4,000 each to the families of the deceased, while the injured victims received RM500 each. He had earlier visited two survivors who were warded at Keningau Hospital and several other victims at the district hospital here. Musa and his entourage, comprising among others Deputy Chief Minister cum Infrastructure Development Minister Datuk Raymond Tan Shu Kiah, Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department Datuk Radin Malleh, Tenom Member of Parliament Raime Unggi and State Police Commissioner Datuk Noor Rashid Ibrahim, were briefed on the incident, yesterday. During the briefing, District Police Chief DSP Mazlan Lazim and State Railway Department General Manager James Wong provided updates on the incident. “I was told that the heavy rain in the past few days had somehow contributed to the landslide. I would like to express my deepest sympathies to the victims’ family members ... this is truly a terrible mishap,” he said. As at yesterday afternoon, effort to check the carriage as well as the 48-ton diesel powered locomotive continued to determine whether there were any passengers not accounted for. Meanwhile, Noor Rashid said thus far there had been no reports about anyone missing after the train plunged into the river. “We are investigating claims that there were some non-paying passengers on board the train on Wednesday, but to date, we have yet to get any missing person report,” he said. He called on passengers who have yet to give their statement on the incident to do so soon. “Go to the nearest police station to make the report,” he said.