Wednesday, April 16, 2008


Missing woman found in Tuaran


Hilina Guntalib who was reported missing by her brother on April 5 was found in Tuaran town around 2pm yesterday. Her brother, Gipanin Guntalib, said Hilina was seen by a relative, Jeffrey Francis, at Tuaran town yesterday morning. “Jeffrey called me and together with my brother, Kisung, we immediately went to Tuaran to look for her,” Gipanin said when contacted yesterday. According to Gipanin, based on the information, he went to the Tuaran police station to seek assistance while Kisung went directly to the town to look for his sister. “Kisung called me at 2pm to tell me that he had found Hilina,” he said, adding they then brought their 37-year-old sister to the police station before taking her to the district hospital for a check-tip. Gipanin said Hilina was unharm and normal although she had changed her clothes and was no longer wearing the brown t-shirt and black trousers she was last seen in. However, the woman has remained tight-lipped as to what happened to her and where she stayed since April 5, he said. Hilina was reported missing by her family on April 5 after she failed to return home at Kampung Nountun in Inanam. She was last seen at 11am by a male friend from Kampung Garas, Tambunan as he had sent her to the minibus terminal in Ranau. Gipanin expressed his family’s gratitude to the media and United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organization (UPKO) Secretary General Datuk Wilfred Madius Tangau for helping to locate Hilina.


Green Corridor initiative in Kinabatangan, Segama


The Borneo Conservation Trust (BCT) is undertaking the Borneo Green Corridor (BGC) initiative in the Kinabatangan and Segama riverine areas of Sabah to re-connect fragmented forest areas and wildlife reserves to help wildlife thrive. Its chief executive officer Cyril Pinso said these areas had been identified as active wildlife migration routes by BCT, a non-governmental organisation promoted by Sabah’s Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Environment. The Kinabatangan and Segama areas had seen an increase in local communities and rapid expansion of oil palm plantations, Pinso said at the close of the two-day International Palm Oil Sustainability Conference here yesterday. Increasing human activity and oil palm plantations had become physical impediments to wildlife like the orang utan and Borneo pygmy elephant as they were unable to transverse to their traditional migration routes in search of food, he said. Without proper planning and intervention, Pinso said, the population of these totally protected species would be under heavy threat of further destruction. According to Darrel Webber of WWF, Malaysia, there are 104 villages in the Kinabatangan basin and 13 villages in the Kinabatangan floodplain whose inhabitants undertake fishing, arming, hunting and logging activities. He said there were also 30 palm oil mills in the Kinabatangan basin which had been known to release untreated effluent. Pinso said the BGC project would attempt to connect fragmented forest and wildlife reserves along rivers to re-establish contiguous and natural migratory pathways for wildlife. For lands which are within the riverine reserves, plans are afoot to get various stakeholders to agree to re-establish their natural vegetation. Todate, Pinso said, BCT had successfully purchased a two-hectaic bottleneck land within the B( C costing RM53,000 from donations from 60 Japanese individuals, and had established a rescue and animal rehabilitation centre to be known as the Borneo Wildlife Centre (BWC). On Monday, the BCT teamed up with the Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) and Bursa Malaysia to participate in a six-month project to help verify the estimated number of orang utan in Sabah. The orang utan is only found in Borneo and Sumatra and there are an estimated 48,000 orang utans in the wild. Sabah is estimated to have an orang utan population of 11,000, about a fifth of the total orang utan population of 41,000 in Borneo,while Sarawak is estimated to have 1,000 orang utans. The Government together with palm oil industry players have also launched the Malaysian Palm Oil Wildlife Conservation Fund (MPOWCF), a RM2O million revolving fund to be administered by the MPOC, to undertake wildlife and biodiversity conservation in the country.


21 papers presented at International Palm Oil Sustainability Conference

The first International Palm Oil Sustainability Conference (IPOSC) concluded yesterday with l more papers presented, dealing with various interesting topics in making the palm oil industry less damaging and more environmental friendly. Eight papers were presented on the first day of the Conference on Monday. Yesterday, three sessions were held with each discussing specific topics starting with Palm Oil and Wetlands, followed with Wildlife Conservation and Environmental Care and Carbon Balance of Palm Oil. The first session dealt with issues relating to development of wetlands for palm oil cultivation, It discussed about the question of whether a wetland should be developed or not, which one to be developed, how to develop them and what are the effects, and most importantly how to mitigate and minimize them. First to be presented was the work by Param Agricultural Soil Survey Malaysia Managing Director Dr S Paramananthan entitled “Tropical Lowland Peats: To Conserve or Develop Them”. Paramananthan’s paper reviews the extent of the tropical lowland peats, particularly those in Indonesia and Malaysia. It reviews the current understanding of the structure, ecology and characteristics of these tropical lowland peats. The paper introduces tropical lowland peats as a fragile wetland ecosystem that according to environmental groups, stores large quantities of carbon both in their above ground biomass and in their underlying organic soil materials, However, due to increasing population pressure and the need to eradicate poverty, many of these areas, particularly in Indonesia and Malaysia, have been lodged and cleared for pulp and oil palm plantation over the last 20 years. These activities change the peat lands from being a sink to becoming a source of greenhouse gases and therefore contribute to global warming. Paramananthan highlighted in his paper that failure to understand the variation of above ground biomass and soil properties in a lowland peat system often results in misunderstanding and overestimation of the carbon sink. He noted that most estimates of carbon loss are wrong as they failed to understand that drainage results in major subsidence but minor decomposition. It also recognized that failure to understand the carbon cycle in these peat swamps also results in overestimates of carbon loss on development, It stresses that each peat swamp unit is unique and needs to be assessed to determine if it should be conserved or developed and presents a framework for this evaluation and assessment. It also suggests for immediate moratorium on alienating new peat areas and those alienated areas which are not yet developed be put on hold. In the meantime, a programme to collect data need to be initiated while a national peat land policy should be formulated. The second paper, prepared by the Director of Malaysia Wetlands International, Sarala Aikanathan, discussed the findings of the Workshop on Minimizing Impacts of Palm oil and Biofuel Production in South East Asia on Peatlands, Biodiversity and Climate Change held on Oct 31 last year. The workshop jointly organized by several global environment and conservation movements, was aimed at providing a platform for information and experience sharing on the nature and impacts of development of peatlands for palm oil plantation. Among the findings include that Peatlands in South East Asia are globally important carbon stores, and undisturbed peat swamp forests remove more C02 from the atmosphere than they release. The meetings also concluded that peatlands developed for oil palm plantations lose their stored carbon through Green House Gas (GHG) emissions with the rate of net loss depending on the peat type and management conditions. Three options were suggested for reducing emissions from peatlands, namely improved water management and fire prevention in existing plantations, conserving and restoring peat swamp forest, and development of sustainable oil palm plantations in severely degraded peatlands. The third and the last paper in this session was Sustainable Development of Deep Tropical Peat Soil for Agriculture Use in Sarawak by Lab Jau Uyo of the Sarawak Department of Agriculture. Lab explained why planters faced problems at their oil palm estates in deep peat even though they were using practices recommended by the industry. His paper identifies that tropical peats in Sarawak are different and the same practice that works well in other states does not apply well there due to its different type of peat soils. He suggested that the solution is to really understand the type of peat the estates are dealing with so that appropriate management measures can be adjusted to take into consideration the peculiar characteristics of the peat within the estates. Six other papers were presented in the second session dealing with wildlife conservation and environmental care approaches that can be integrated into palm oil cultivation. The third session discussed about carbon balance in palm oil estates. Four papers were presented in this session.


Senior Govt servants won’t be spared: ACA


You may be holding the highest post in the department, but in the eyes of the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA), everyone is equal. “If you commit an offence under the Anti-Corruption Act, you will not be spared ... we will get to you sooner or later,” said State ACA Director Latifah Md Yatim yesterday. She stressed that two persons, a senior State Education Department officer and a Police Sergeant, were charged at the Sessions Court here for separate corruption charges yesterday. “In both cases, we had carried out year-long investigations, closely monitoring their activities and when we had enough evidence and the time was right, we made the arrest and charged them in court,” she said. Latifah said the education officer is facing 21 corruption charges, mostly for falsifying documents, of which 11 cases have been charged in court, involving cash amounting to RM105,900. The other case involves a sergeant attached to the Traffic and Public Order Unit here who was caught red handed receiving RM300 from an offender. Latifah said that with limited manpower, it was difficult for them to move around. “Therefore, we are calling on the public to help us by providing us with information. Many of our cases were tipped off by the people,” she said, including the big seizure of subsidized diesel in Sandakan and Tawau recently. Latifah added the ACA was also probing reports lodged on misconducts and other cases during the general election. “We received quite a number of reports and are investigating,” she said. When asked if the reports involved politicians, she answered: “There is no need to mention. We are trying to complete our investigation.” Meanwhile, the ACA Sabah will be holding a bilateral meeting with their counterparts from Brunei Darussalam for three days, beginning April 16 at the Le Meridien Hotel.


Water meter policy introduced in Tawau
Tan says no penalty will be imposed for registering with Dept


Consumers in the district have been advised to register with the State Water Department as soon as possible to get their water meters. Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Raymond Tan Shu Kiah assured the consumers that no penalty will be imposed on them during registration. Speaking at the introduction of a water meter policy here, Tan who is also the Infrastructure Development Minister, said the move would ensure the reduction of non-revenue water experienced in the district. “They will not be punished when they register and those who have been enjoying free water over the years are advised to do so or face the consequences of their action,” he said, adding that the registration was simple as the consumers only need to provide the Water Department with their residential address. “I don’t think there are only 27,000 registered consumers in Tawau because I believe there are more than 60,000 consumers in the district,” he said. The unregistered consumers are also using water like their registered counterparts and the Government is suffering a great loss because they are using free water, he pointed out. Tan also disclosed that the 72 percent of non-revenue water recorded in Tawau is extremely high and it is caused by water theft and leakages from old and damaged pipes. Tawau, he said, is lucky in a sense that it has sufficient water supply and its residents are not affected like those in Sandakan. “Therefore, I have spent RM20,000 to resolve the problem by having the old and damaged pip fixed in order to save up to 8.1 million liters of water per day within seven months. This way Tawau will save up 20 million liters water a day in two years time,” he said. The Minister also instructed the district’s Water Department improve its customer service encourage the consumers to come forward to pay their bills.


Suspended LDP leader won’t make appeal
Vun considers joining other BN component parties


Suspended Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Central Youth Vice Chief and Merotai Youth Chief Vun Nyuk On (picture) said he would not appeal against the decision of the Party’s Central Committee. Perplexed by the suspension, Vun also said that he would not comment on the suspension as the grassroots was aware of the actual situation. “I will not appeal against the decision of the Party’s leadership as I believe they feel that it was in the best interest of the Party,” he told a press conference yesterday. However he was of the opinion that some LDP leaders had initiated the move to have them suspended and provided the Party’s central leadership with a number of reasons why such action should be taken against them. Vun who declared his loyalty to BN, said he had considered joining other BN component parties. Last Saturday, LDP President Datuk VK Liew, after chairing the Party’s Supreme Council meeting in Kota Kinabalu, announced to the media the suspension of five of its leaders. Besides Vim, the central leadership also suspended LDP Vice President Datuk Liew Yun Fah, Merotai Deputy Chairman Francis Chang Yin Kong, Balung Division Chief Raymond Sia and Karamunting Division Treasurer Lawrence Tan Kien Yee for going against the Party and Barisan Nasional (BN) in the recent General Election. Liew said the suspension took immediate affect pending inquiry by the Party’s disciplinary committee headed by Deputy President Datuk Chin Su Phin. “They had acted against the interest of LDP and BN in the election by not supporting BN candidates in their respective constituencies. They did not campaign for BN and we have reasons to believe they have campaigned for independent candidates,” said Liew. He said the Party has sufficient proof against the five and were waiting for recommendation from the disciplinary committee whether to temporarily suspend their membership or permanently remove them from I Party. “If they can give a satisfactory explanation as to their roles in the election, the disciplinary committee may not recommend suspension at all. In the meantime, they are suspended and have been given 10 days to submit a show cause letter to explain their actions,” he said. Meanwhile, Francis said he had received offers of membership from other BN component parties but he would take his time in making his decision on the next course of action. On Sunday, Liew said he would respond later this week to the decision to suspend him. “I have a decision but I will keep it to myself for now. Wait a few more days,” he said.