Wednesday, February 20, 2008


Police want parties to plan ceramahs early to avoid conflict


While Police prepare themselves to keep the peace during the general election, they want political parties to plan their ceramahs or talks early to avoid conflicts and quarrels or even public fights. Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Noor Rashid Ibrahim said yesterday parties contesting in the 12th general election should submit their permit applications as soon as they can to avoid any inconvenience. He gave the assurance that permits for political talks or gatherings will be issued but reminded that the Police would always make public safety a top priority and will not allow gatherings that could lead to clashes between supporters. “We don’t want two opposing political parties to have their talks at the same time or too close to each other as this could lead to public quarrels, or even fights between supporters,” he said. He said it is important applications for permits are sent in early so that parties involved would have ample time to discuss with the Police any problem that may arise, such as a situation if the other parties had already applied to hold their talks at a particular place applied for. With less than a week to go before Nomination Day on this Sunday, politicians and their workers are busy preparing themselves with the Police too getting ready to keep law and order and ensure a smooth conduct of the polls. The Sabah Police yesterday held a meeting at the Kepayan Headquarters to finalize their preparations and will be mobilizing about 2,200 men and officers to keep watch over all election- related activities in the State. “Sufficient police personnel and officers will be dispatched to ensure safety and maintain order at all nomination and polling centres,” Rashid said. The safety situation is very good and will be maintained so as to enable voters to cast their votes in a safe environment, according to him. So far, the Police have not received any application to hold a ceramah or political talk. According to Rashid, 26 nomination centers will be opened in the State with Police being involved in guarding 24 of them. Throughout the 25 parliamentary constituencies, 688 polling centres will be opened, with Kota Marudu having the most or 50 centres, while Tawau with the least or 18 centres. The State Capital will have 21 polling centres while the neighbouring districts of Tuaran and Sepanggar will have 40 centres each. Penampang and Papar will have 21 and 19 centres respectively, according to Rashid. A total of 491 inquiry counters where voters can check their voting centres will stay open during the polling day, he added.


MCA claims Kepayan seat Amid talks UPKO is eyeing constituency


MCA incumbent Datuk Edward Khoo Keok Lai has pooh-poohed talks that UPKO is eyeing the Kepayan seat. He said his party will be defending the constituency and his name has been forwarded to the Prime Minister to be renominated for the election next month. “I never heard of the rumours,” he said, adding the MCA headquarters has suggested his name to the BN Chairman together with the list of other leaders who will be fielded for the March 8 election. “If I am given the chance, I will contest. As you know it is not confirmed yet. But our party has submitted my name to the PM. Names for MCA candidates for the whole country are submitted bythe headquarters, including my name,” he told reporters here yesterday. Asked whether he has any alternative seat should the BN leadership decide to give the Kepayan seat to UPKO, he said: “I don’t think this is the topic for today. Like I said I never heard of such rumours.” Not disclosing any other MCA candidates whose names were included in the list, Khoo also declined to discuss whether MCA has made any request for additional seats in Sabah, where it only represents the Kepayan state constituency. The Sabah liaison committee chairman saidMCA is fully prepared to face the election and will leave it to the voters to decide the winner. “We are all ready, not only in Kepayan but all over the State, in every division. We will give our very best to make sure that not only MCA but all the BN candidates win their seats. He said in Sabah, though MCA is only representing one assembly seat, the party altogether has 25 divisions covering the 25 parliamentary seats. They are all ready to ensure a victorious election for BN. According to him, nobody knows the exact outcome of the election or, for that matter, who will win a particular seat, at least until the polling day is over.An insider source from UPKO said on Sunday that voters in Kepayan want the Kadazandusum Murut (KDM) majority area to be represented by the party. Kepayan is a traditionally KDM area with 60 percent of the voters there Kadazans, said the source, so it is appropriate for the constituency to be given back to UPKO. Kepayan UPKO division has the highest number of memberships with more than 3,000 members, said the source. Khoo in a ceremony earlier presented financial assistance to 42 recipients under the Urban Poverty Eradication Programme. Speaking at the ceremony, he said the BN Government has always been assisting the people through its various agencies. He said the assistance distributed to the local residents yesterday was just one of the many schemes and programmes that have been put in place by the Government to help the people.


KSS plays vital role in State devt: Musa


Chief Minister said the Kadazan Society Sabah (KSS) played an important role in the development of Sabah by informing the people of the various policies, projects and programmes implemented by the Government to elevate their standard of living. “The Barisan Nasional Government brings progress and a better quality of life to all the communities irrespective of race and religious background. The BN Government involves all the communities at the decision-making level. No one will be sidelined,” he said when receiving a courtesy call from members of KSS led by its president, Marcel Leiking, at his official residence, Sri Gaya, yesterday. As such Musa who is also the Sabah BN chief, called on community organisations, including KSS, to give continued support to BN in the coming election. “BN is the only coalition that can bring progress, peace and harmony because we can co-exist through cooperation and understanding,” he said. Meanwhile, Marcel said KSS would continue to give undivided support to BN and inform the people of the various development brought to Sabah at the helm of the BN-backed Government.


Incessant rain worsens Kota Marudu floods


Incessant rain overnight has worsened the floods in this district, raising the water level of major rivers to beyond the danger point and forcing the evacuation of 123 families. According to the Kota Marudu District Officer Luvita Koisun, the flood waters rose to between 0.9 and 1.8 metres. She said Sungai Bongon breached the danger level of 4.6 metres at 2pm while Sungai Sumbiling and Sungai Bandau had also swelled to above danger level, the reading for which had yet to be obtained. Luvita who, is also chairman of the district relief committee, said all the major roads in the district were still passable to traffic as of yesterday. In Kota Belud, District Officer, Mohd Najib Muntok disclosed that about 12 villages were reported to have been hit by floods. They were Kg Lebak Moyoh, Kg Jawi-Jawi, Kg Gunding, Kg Rampayan Laut, Kg Suang Punggor, Kg Terintidon, Kg Timbang Dayang, Kg Lilud, Kg Bugaron Rosok, Kg Pantai Emas, Kg Kesapang and Kg Ketabungan. “As many as 12 people have been transferred to the evacuation centre set up at Kota Belud community hall,” he said. The Kota Belud District Police when contacted about the situation, said despite the floods, there had been no report of any incident or accident so far. “The road at KM 28 and Jalan Lintang in Kota Belud are under water, rendering it passable only to heavier vehicles ... we are monitoring the situation,” he said, adding that the water level at Sungai Tempasuk had also breached the danger level of 5.7 metres. The Director of Sabah Meteorology Department Mr Tan Chen Kok told The Borneo Post the current weather situation with thunderstorm activities over the coastal waters of Sabah, is expected to persist until today.


Seven houses destroyed as wheelchair-bound man escapes from fiery death


A 29-year-old disabled man escaped from being burnt to death in a fire that destroyed seven houses at Kampung Inanam Laut here yesterday. Wheelchair-bound Mohd Jaini said he was watching TV at the living room when his double storey wooden house suddenly caught fire. “I was at the ground floor watching TV when I heard a small explosion coming from one of the rooms upstairs,” he said. Jaini who lived in the house with his parents, sibling and five relatives, was alone downstairs when the fire broke out. As the smoke began to fill the living room, he realized something was terribly wrong and wanted to get out of the house quickly. His 23-year-old cousin Herman who was at home, quickly called for help from a neighbour. Herman returned to the burning house with a 20-year-old friend and carried Jaini and his wheelchair out to safety. Jaini’s house was destroyed with six others, leaving a total of 4O people homeless, just five days after a similar incident occurred in the area. The fire engulfed the house very quickly despite the drizzle and spread to the adjacent houses before the firefighters arrived, said an eyewitness. In another fire in Tuaran, two brothers were injured after their wooden house at Kampung Talibung were destroyed in a fire yesterday morning. In the 8.52am incident, Norfarah Mohd Rizal, 13, suffered burns on the face while his three-year-old brother, Mohd Sobrie, was injured on the back, body and hand. Abang Norfarah, Mohd Arfah, 20, and the twin brother of Mohd Sobrie identified only as Sukri, were not injured. When the fire broke out, Norfarah and his brother were sleeping while the twins were in the living room. Mohd Arfah who was awakened by the heat from the fire, alerted Norfarah before taking their siblings out of the burning house. Their parents were working during the incident. Both injured victims were sent to the Tuaran Hospital for treatment. The officer-in-charge of Tuaran Fire and Rescue Services Station, Mazlan Sarman, said one engine with six personnel rushed to the scene after receiving a distress call at 8.56am. When they arrived, the whole house was already on fire. The firemen managed to prevent the fire from spreading within 10 minutes. The cause of the fire and amount of damage are still under investigation.


BN, PKR to face tough battles in interior areas Candidates and seat allocation hot issues among contesting parties


The election fever is getting hotter in the interior with various speculations coming up, especially those concerning candidates and seat allocation. Political observers here described the coming general election will be a tough fight not only between the Barisan Nasional (BN) and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) in the Interior areas hut also among the BN components lobbying for seats. The Keningau parliamentary constituency will be seeing a fight between the Kitingan brothers who are going all out to gain the support and win the people’s heart in the March 8 election. Pairin who is also Deputy Chief Minister and Rural Development Minister, will defend the seat he won in the 1992 general election. Reliable sources from both BN and PKR indicated that the incumbent PBS president will also stand as a BN candidate in the Tambunan state constituency. Pairin will be facing Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) candidate Moses Iking in Tambunan while in Keningau, he will meet his younger brother Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan who is also the PKR vice president. Jeffrey who is also the Keningau PKR chief, was reported to be contesting in Bingkor. It was also reported that interior DAP coordinating chief Paul Kodou will contest in the Keningau parliamentary seat while his deputy chief Lawrence will stand in Bingkor. Meanwhile, the BN is speculated to retain the incumbent candidates for Bingkor, Liawan, Sook, Nabawan and Pensiangan parliamentary areas. Based on the quota and 2004 formula, Justin Guka will be maintained in Bingkor, Datuk Haji Sairin Haji Karno in Liawan, Tan Sri Joseph Kurup in Sook, Datuk Bobbey Suan in Nabawan and Datuk Bernard S Maraat in Pensiangan. However, talks on candidates for several areas such as Bingkor, Sook and Pensiangan are still going on where several BN components are still lobbying for the Bingkor seat. Among them are Anuar Datuk Ayub from Umno, Haji Suib Sadiman and Datuk John Datuk Angian (UPKO) and Jailine Lian (PBRS). In Sook, it was reported that PBRS Deputy President Datuk Elron Angin is keen to contest while in Pensiangan, two factions one belonging to PBRS President Tan Sri Joseph Kurup and the other belonging to PBRS Secretary General and incumbent Bernard S Maraat, are eyeing the constituency. Justin or anybody who is selected as BN candidate will be facing Jeffrey in Bingkor; Sairin will take on Jius Awang or Dr Nicholas of PKR; Kurup or Elron will be meeting former teacher Paul Gitang or Rayner Francis Udong of PKR; Datuk Bobbey Suan will be challenged by Gabriel Uwing from PKR and in Pensiangan, either Bernard or Kurup will face Danny Andipai from PKR. In the Melalap constituency, PBS Secretary General and incumbent Datuk Radin Malleh (BN) will face PKR candidate Jimmy Jawatah. For the Tenom parliamentary area, incumbent Raimi Unggi or new face Jamawi Jaafar (BN) will take on Richard Joe Jimmy (PKR) and in Kemabong, either incumbent Datuk Rubin Balang, Esar Andamas or new newcomer Matusin Balang will take on Peter Lonok from PKR. However, the official lists of candidates either from BN or PKR have still not been announced yet. The BN and PKR leaderships are expected to make last minute changes and with a few more days to nomination day, anything can happen. It was also reported that several local opposition parties, namely, Setia, Bersekutu, Pasok and independents are also trying their luck in this election. Meanwhile, several political observers here described this year’s election will not be an easy passage for the BN because many issues remain to be solved. Among them are the Sabah Amanah Saham (SAS) investment, land applications, illegal immigrants, MyKad and 1MM 13, unfulfilled development promises, poverty and hike of oil and goods prices. In the Keningau town, the failure of the local authority to overcome the traders’ problem will also decide the votes for the BN. The political observers also expect PKR to win the Keningau, Bingkor, Sook and Pensiangan seats if the BN fields the wrong candidates in the areas. While the BN could win Tambunan, Liawan and Nabawan, but the majority is expected to be reduced.


Be ready to evacuate to higher areas, police caution residents


The State Police have issued a flood warning, advising residents along rivers, particularly in flood-affected areas in northern and eastern districts to be prepared for any possible rising water level. Police Commissioner Datuk Noor Rashid Ibrahim said floods which affected 49 villages in Kota Belud, Kota Marudu, Beluran and Pitas had started to subside on Sunday but the water level rose again in several areas following heavy rain on Monday. The water level is expected to continue to rise as the Meteorological Services Department had forecast heavy rain to continue until today, he said. He urged residents in affected areas to keep in touch with the district authorities on possible flood and evacuation. Those residing close to the rivers should monitor the water level and move to a higher ground immediately should the rising waters reach a dangerous level, he said. He also cautioned residents in other villages that even though there is no rain in their areas, downpours in the Interior could still cause flood at lower areas near river mouths. He said the Police Department in cooperation with other agencies such as RELA, Fire and Rescue Department, the Army, local councils and residents committees had been mobilizing logistic assistance to help flood victims in affected districts. He said five evacuation centres - one in Beluran and two each in Kota Belud and Kota Marudu - had been set up. A total of 239 people from 134 families have been evacuated from their homes to these centres. No one has been evacuated in Pitas so far but residents are advised to be ready for any possibilities, according to him. He said all affected roads in the four districts were passable except for Kilometer 8 of Pitas-Kinabongan road which is only passable to heavy vehicles. “The road is not passable for light vehicles and the public is advised not to try to push their way through the flooded road as it is dangerous and could invite mishap,” he said. The Meteorological Services Department yesterday morning issued a Red Stage heavy rain warning for Kudat and Sandakan, saying moderate to occasionally heavy rain is expected to continue. The department also issued an Orange Stage warning for Tawau, Lahad Datu, West Coast, Interior Divisions and Labuan. Yellow Stage warnings were issued for Limbang, Miri and Bintulu in Sarawak, effective from today until tomorrow.