Saturday, January 19, 2008


UMS to set up radio station
Public will be able to communicate with students


The public will be able to communicate with Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) students when its radio station starts operating by the middle of this year.
Running on a 500-watt band, the radio station will be aired in English, Bahasa Malaysia and other ethnic languages. UMS Vice Chancellor Datuk Dr Mohd Noh Dalimin when disclosing this yesterday, said they are in the final stages of renovating the studio and installing the antennae.
The effort was made possible thanks to the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the university and RTM last year, which is aimed at providing training for its students majoring in communication courses. “We would also incorporate art into the 10-hour daily programmes,’ he said to reporters after announcing the Education Journalism Awards 2007 jointly organised by the university and Sabah Journalists Association yesterday. He said that the equipment had already arrived and was now just waiting for the studio renovation to be completed. Although the programme contents are mainly produced by the university, Mohd Noh said they would still be under the supervision of RTM.
“In fact, he said the broadcasting licence is acquired from the Government via RTM,” he said, expressing his excitement over the programme that would stretch up to Kudat, Beaufort and Brunei. He said a similar campus radio had been set up by Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UiTM) and other higher learning institutions in Peninsular Malaysia. On another development, Mohd Noh stressed they would continue with the practice of maintaining 40 per cent of student population from Sabah, while the rest is open to others from outside the State.
He said there had been cases where students from other states rejected offers by UMS as they wanted to take up courses closer to home. “However, those who fail to turn up after the registration exercise may appeal to the relevant authorities and come to us. This has happened before when they arrived at the UMS campus during the second semester,” he explained. Mohd Noh said that they would still continue to promote courses available at UMS through roadshows in the Peninsular. Also present were Sabah Journalists Association (SJA) President Datuk Joniston Bangkuai and UMS Education Journalism Award 2007 organising chairman Dr Andreas Totu.


POLLS in 60 days, says Kit Siang

The DAP has predicted that the forthcoming general election will be held in less than 60 days, possibly between March 8 and 15. The Opposition party’s National Adviser, Mr Lim Kit Siang, said the prediction is based on a recent statement by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is Barisan Nasional (BN) Chairman, that the latter would be calling for the BN supreme council meeting. “Our prediction is that Parliament will be dissolved on March 3, followed by the nomination day four days later on March 7 and polling on March 15,” he told a news conference upon his arrival here from Kuala Lumpur yesterday. “We are also expecting that the Election Commission will reduce the campaigning period as in the previous general election in 2004 when it was two weeks only, which was a short time ... may be this time the period will be eight days only.” Commenting on a statement by former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad that he was not influenced by any quarters in choosing Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim to fill up the top post in the Judiciary, Lim said it was merely an excuse for the former premier to evade the question from members of the media. Although Malaysia is a democratic country and the Prime Minister is vested with the prerogative powers, it does not mean that the Prime Minister is not responsible and accountable to the people, he said. “It is demeaning the public inquiry set up by the Government to investigate the controversial ‘Lingam’ video clip,” he said. Lim said the controversy over the video clip was a serious issue and if the former Prime Minister does not view the matter seriously, then the public will lose confidence in the public inquiry and also to the judiciary.


Enough cooking oil for CNY
Sabah Softwoods CEO says supply won’t be problem


There will be enough cooking oil in Sabah, especially for the Chinese New Year (CNY), despite the reported smuggling of the . commodity and the recent shortage at retail outlets.
“I am certain . that the supply of cooking oil for the Chinese New Year would not be a problem here,” said Haji Osman Walat, the Chief Executive Officer of Sabah Softwoods Berhad (SSB) yesterday.
SSB has planted 20,000 hectares with oil palm and the total hectarage would be expanded in future.
However, Haji Osman said that Sabah Softwood does not market, distribute and retail the crude palm oil (CPO). It is handled by the Malaysia Palm Oil Board. Similarly, Sabah Softwood does not deal with the packaging of cooking oil.
“The output of CPO is guided by the MPOB, basically depending on demand and supply. As for price subsidy, it is based on the market price where a higher price would result in a higher subsidy and it is decided by MPOB,” he said.
SSB was engaged as the main contractor for reafforestation and oil palm development in the Benta Wawasan concession area between 2000 and early 2006. Regional Harvest Sdn Bhd operates a 45-metric ton fresh fruit bunches (ffb) per hour CPO processing mill in Dumpas.
Based on the current capacity, the mill is able to produce an annual output of 54,000 metric tonnes of GPO. The mill has an expansion capacity to 60 metric tons (Mt) ffb per hour and the annual production is expected to increase to 72,000 metric tons of CPO.
In 2002, SSB entered a joint venture for the construction and operation of a GPO mill with an equity participation of 40 percent in Regional Harvest Sdn Bhd. Sabah Softwood is also involved in tree plantations, chipmil operation and other relevant services.


CM urges KKIPC to be more innovative


The Chief Minister has urged KKIPC Sdn Bhd which has been tasked to operate and manage the Sabah. Net for 20 years to be more innovative and creative in providing its services. “This is to ensure that Sabah will not be left behind in terms of Information Communication Technology (ICT) development,” said Datuk Seri Musa Aman at the company’s 11th anniversary here yesterday. The text of the Chief Minister’s speech was delivered by Deputy Chief Minister cum Community Development and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Yahya Hussin. Musa said that the State Government had taken its own initiatives in ICT development in Sabah, and this was evident with the establishment of the State-owned intranet - Sabah. Net - in September 1997.
Today, he said the ICT industry was among the country’s most dynamic industries and served as an important catalyst for socioeconomic growth and development of the nation. As such, Musa reckoned that Sabah must be able to create new products and services that are of high value, not only to the local economy but international as well. Under the RM2.3 billion State Budget 2008, Musa who is also the Finance Minister, noted that RM17.8 million had been allocated for ICT development and a big chunk of the money goes to paying KKIPC’s services. Whilst stressing the State Government’s readiness to work with the private sector, Musa assured that the State Government would continue to call for greater cooperation and concerted national focus on the development of the ICT sector in Sabah.
“The adoption of private-sector initiatives can alleviate the burden on the Government and provide benefits to the private sector. Ultimately, this will be the driving motivation behind the State’s effort in bridging the digital divide.”
Moreover, he said there is a need to build a consensus by bringing together policy-makers, business leaders, academics and technical experts to work together in developing new policies and incentives that will make the Sabah ICT sector more competitive in the global market place.
He said this was part of a conducive investment climate that Sabah need to create. “The future focus would remain on strengthening human capital, developing hard and soft infrastructure, bringing innovations through ICT in the small medium enterprises and reducing the digital divide,” Musa added.


Husband wins battle to give dead wife Christian funeral


A Malaysian has won a battle to give his dead wife a Christian funeral after Islamic religious authorities dropped their claim to the body on the grounds of her conversion to Islam. The row over the corpse of Wong Sau Lan, a 54- year-old ethnic Chinese woman who died on Dec. 30. “It was harrowing to wait for 18 days,” said Ngiam Tee Kong, who was at his wife’s bedside when she died in a Kuala Lumpur hospital and then suffered several sleepless nights during the custody fight for the remains. “I’m definitely relieved. Hopefully it will be over in a few days.” Ngiam, 53, the manager of a snooker game centre, said his ordeal began the day his wife died of kidney failure, when police told him she had converted to Islam by reciting Arabic verses during a session with a traditional healer a week earlier. His wife had sought the help of a Muslim bomoh - a common practice among Malaysians. “My wife was made to recite some Koranic verses. When she died, the witch-doctor showed the video clip of my wife reciting to the Islamic officials, who then issued a letter saying my wife was a Muslim,” he said, adding: “But my wife does not have a Muslim name. She had never converted to Islam,” he added. Ngiam, himself a Buddhist, however challenged this version of events, maintained that his wife was a Christian baptised in November, and asked a Malaysian court to intervene. Islamic officials later admitted they were wrong in claiming she had converted to Islam. “The High Court has ordered that the body of the deceased be released to the husband forthwith,” his lawyer Karpal Singh told reporters outside the court, adding that the body would be cremated according to Christian rites after a two-day wake. “The Islamic Affairs Council has said the conversion of the deceased was not in accordance with Islamic law, and therefore they have no objections to the body being released to the husband,” he said. Race ties, always a delicate issue in multiracial Malaysia, have become increasingly sensitive as speculation grows that the Government could call for snap polls as soon as March. The spectacle of non-Muslims battling for funeral rights of relatives is not new in Malaysia. In another case in 2006 involving an ethnic Indian said to have converted to Islam, religious authorities also eventually climbed down and allowed the family of van driver Rayappan Anthony, 71, to reclaim his body for Christian burial. But in 2005, as Islamic officials prepared to bury former soldier and mountain climber M Moorthy against his Hindu widow’s wishes, the High Court said it had no jurisdiction over such religious matters, leaving non-Muslims unsure of their rights. Politically dominant ethnic Malay Muslims form about 60 per cent of Malaysia’s population of roughly 26 million, while the ethnic Indian and Chinese minorities include Hindus, Buddhists and Christians. “This is a very serious case because the council should be more careful in future,” said Karpal Singh. “It must ascertain that any conversion is made according to Islamic law, not snatch a body and refuse to release it on the grounds that there is a conversion when there is not one, later admitting there was no lawful conversion.” Ngiam and his two children would seek damages from the hospital and the Islamic Affairs Council for the trauma they suffered, the lawyer added. Lawyer Zulkifli Che Yong, who represented MAIWP (Federal Territory Islamic Religious Council), said it was the council’s responsibility to investigate into Wong’s religious status following claims that she had converted to Islam. Zulkifli said the decision by MAIWP to release Wong’s remains was made after taking into account the views of the Mufti and testimony from a witness, traditional healer Siti Aishah Ismail, who used to treat Wong. — Reuter, AFP, Bernama


Internet services hit by cable thefts TM asks for public help to overcome rampant problem


The next time your Internet access is suddenly disrupted, cable theft could very well be the cause. In view of this, Telekom Malaysia has asked for public cooperation in overcoming rampant cable thefts problem in Sabah so that they can provide a better service. TM Sabah General Manager Sukkuriya Masri said the company faces the problem in every state in Malaysia, especially Sabah. “The thieves usually steal cables and batteries from the TM cabinet and sell them to dealers for money,” he said. “This problem has caused TM and our customers to suffer, as it disrupts our daily activities, especially those involving online services,” he added during the TM press conference on Vandalism and Cable Theft Issues in Sabah at Wawasan Plaza yesterday. Meanwhile, Assistant General Manager of TM Sabah, Musa Awang Kechil said that from July to December last year, Papar had the most cable theft cases, followed by I.ahad Datu and Menggatal. In Sabah alone, a total of 1,048 cases were recorded from 2005 until 2007 and the government-linked company suffers more than RM5 million losses caused by the thefts. “We already carried out some action plans to overcome this problem such as giving rewards to public who provided information about the theft. “Also, we offered to install a home cable theft detector at the customers’ houses at theft-prone areas for free.. .however, the cable theft problem is still not fully overcome,” Musa said. He also said that the manhole covers for underground cables are also to prevent people from falling into the holes and would expose the public to danger if stolen. Therefore, Musa asked the public to immediately report to TM or the Rakan Cop if they notice any curious activities or damaged TM cabinet.

The public can call TM Sabah Operation Control Center (PKO) at 088-299817, 999 Complaints Center, TM Sabah PR/A&P Office or the Rakan Cop.