Malaysia extends mission in southern Philippines

Malaysia said Thursday it had agreed to extend a military monitoring mission in the southern Philippines, where the collapse of a peace deal has triggered weeks of violence.

The Philippines government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebels both asked for the 12 troops to remain in place while the Supreme Court deliberates over a proposed land rights pact, it said.

"Three months would be a reasonable amount of time to play our role," Foreign Minister Rais Yatim said according to his office, adding that personnel from Brunei and Libya were also deployed in the mission.

Malaysian forces have made up the bulk of the international team monitoring a 2003 ceasefire between the Manila government and the MILF.

It began pulling out its 40 troops stationed in four cities in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao in May because of lack of progress towards a peace deal, but reversed its decision earlier this month after a breakthrough.

However, the process hit another hitch when the Supreme Court barred the government from signing the deal -- which would give the MILF control of large swathes of land in an autonomous region -- following massive street protests.

The delay triggered weeks of intense fighting that has left 150 people dead and more than 280,000 people displaced.

"Malaysia has acceded to this request in order to give space for both sides to resolve the (land deal) which is now awaiting the Supreme Court judgement," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

"The extension of the (mission) would also allay apprehension caused by the (mission's) departure and to sustain the ceasefire currently in place, as well as to prevent further violation and escalation of violence," it said.

A decision is expected in the next few weeks but the Philippines government has said that in light of the violence the peace deal has been scrapped, and even if the Supreme Court gives the green light its fate is unclear.

Ministry won't buy medicines in bulk

The risk of dispensing wrong medication at hospitals and clinics will be minimised following a move by the Health Ministry to buy medicines in patient-sized packs instead of in bulk.

National Pharmaceutical Control Bureau director Selvaraja Seerangam said most government and private clinics and hospitals liked to buy medication in bulk to save costs. They would then repackage the medicines into smaller quantities for dispensing.

"Repacked medication is also exposed to pollution and bacteria which may decrease their effectiveness and quality," he said when presenting a working paper titled

"The Development of Regulatory Initiatives of Malaysia" on Monday.Seerangam said with the enforcement of the patient-size packs, the risk of dispensing the wrong medication could be avoided. The move is expected to be enforced from next month. -

- Bernama

Abdullah dismisses talk of Anwar being PM

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim will not be the prime minister by Sept 16, said Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

The prime minister said he was not worried by Anwar's threats despite his victory in Permatang Pauh.Neither did Abdullah believe that any Barisan Nasional members of parliament would join Pakatan Rakyat.

"We are well aware of his threats, but as far as we are concerned, we will look after our people. We will continue to perform and we don't have to worry (about Anwar becoming prime minister)," he said."BN members of parliament will not leave the party. That is not possible. They have promised to remain in BN," Abdullah stressed.

Anwar, who won the Permatang Pauh by-election on Tuesday with a majority of 15,671 votes over BN candidate Datuk Arif Shah Omar Shah, had announced earlier this year that he would become prime minister by Sept 16.

Permodalan Nasional declares 7 sen dividend

Permodalan Nasional Bhd has declared an income distribution of seven sen per unit for its Amanah Saham Wawasan 2020 (ASW 2020) for the year ending Aug 31.

PNB chairman Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid said the distribution, involving a total payout of RM498.52 million, was an increase of 42.02 per cent compared with last year.

"In 2007, we paid a total of RM351.02 million and declared a dividend of eight sen which included a one sen special bonus in conjunction with Malaysia's 50th Merdeka celebrations," he said when announcing the dividend for ASW 2020 in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

He said the payout this year would benefit 789,472 unit holders, who currently hold 7.76 billion units of fixed priced equity fund. Up until Aug 31, this year, ASW 2020 has recorded a gross income of RM584.19 million, an increase of 9.78 per cent from the RM532.14 million recorded in the previous 12 months.

Profit from the sale of shares contributed RM223.66 million or 38.29 per cent, dividend income from investee companies contributed RM247.95 million or 42.44 per cent, and RM112.58 million or 19.27 per cent was derived from interest and other income.

"Calculation of income distribution this year will be based on lowest average monthly balance for the period of investment from Sept 1 last year until Aug 31, this year," he said.

He said the income distribution would be reinvested in the form of new units and be credited to the unit holders' accounts automatically. Unit holders would be able to update their accounts at Amanah Saham Nasional Bhd's head office, branches or agents beginning from Sept 2. PNB president and chief executive officer Tan Sri Hamad Kama Piah Che Othman said the fund manager had the capability to pay a dividend of 10 sen, but was keeping the balance as part of a move to maintain its performance in 2009.

"The market is now softer compared with last year," he said.

Fuel price may be lowered further

The government may further reduce the price of fuel according to global oil prices to help the people, said Deputy Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Jelaing Mersat.

“The government proposes to lighten their burden and may reduce the price according to the global barrel price of oil,” he said in reply to a question by Chong Chieng Jen (DAP-Bandar Kuching) in the Dewan Rakyat here today.

Chong wanted to know if the government would reduce the prices of petrol and diesel on Sept 1 as promised although the prices had been reduced on Aug 22.Jelaing said the prices were reduced earlier than the announced date to reduce peoples’ financial burden sooner and the government will reduce prices further after considering all factors in two weeks or a month.

Meanwhile, while replying to a question by Henry Sum Agong (BN-Lawas), Jelaing said his ministry was aware that prices of essential items were high and were even higher in the highland areas of Bario, Ba’Kelalan, Long Semadoh and other highland areas in Sarawak.

“The main factor for this situation is high transportation costs for delivery and this cannot be avoided due to lack of transportation infrastructure, geograhical reasons and location,” he said.

He said the Sarawak state government had given subsidies for land transportation to supply fuel to residents in the interior areas.On fuel depots or mini-petrol pumps that will be set up in the interior areas of Sarawak to deal with the high prices of fuel there, Jelaing said his ministry in cooperation with the state government had set up a technical committee on Aug 18 on the matter.


Tarikh lihat anak bulan Ramadan 31 Ogos

Tarikh melihat anak bulan Ramadan bagi menentukan permulaan berpuasa bagi umat Islam di Malaysia tahun ini ditetapkan pada petang Ahad, 31 Ogos ini bersamaan 29 Syaaban 1429 Hijrah. Lokasi melihat anak bulan Ramadan yang sudah diperkenankan oleh Majlis Raja-Raja ialah Pontian Kecil di Johor, Balai Cerap Al-Khawarizmi di Tanjung Bidara, Melaka; Telok Kemang, Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan; Menara Kuala Lumpur di Kuala Lumpur; Bukit Melawati di Kuala Selangor, Pulau Angsa di Daerah Kuala Selangor dan Bukit Jugra, Banting di Selangor. Lokasi lain, Pantai Pasir Panjang, Mukim Pangkalan Baru Daerah Manjong di Perak; Pantai Acheh di Pulau Pinang; Kampung Pulau Sayak, Kuala Muda, Pemandangan Indah di Pulau Langkawi dan Menara Alor Setar di Kedah serta Kuala Sungai Baru di Simpang Empat, Perlis; Bukit Besar di Kuala Terengganu, Bukit Kemuning di Kemaman, Pulau Perhentian di Besut dan Balai Cerap Kolej Agama Sultan Zainal Abidin di Setiu, Terengganu.

Kawasan lain, Bukit Peraksi di Pasir Putih, Bukit Kampung Tembeling di Kuala Krai, dan Menara Bangunan Perbadanan Kemajuan Ekonomi Negeri di Kota Baharu di Kelantan; Menara Universiti Malaysia Sabah bagi kampus Antarabangsa Labuan, Tanjung Dumpil di Sabah; Tanjung Lubang di Miri, Teluk Bandung di Kuching dan Tanjung Batu, Bintulu di Sarawak. Bukit Tanjung Batu di Nenasi, Gunung Berincang di Cameron Highlands dan Bukit Pelindung di Kuantan, Pahang dan Pusat Konvensyen Antarabangsa Putrajaya di Putrajaya.

Anwar menang

Anwar diiringi penyokong PKR dan pemimpin parti pembangkang masuk ke pusat penjumlahan undi di Dewan Aminuddin Baki, Institut Perguruan Tuanku Bainun, di Bukit Mertajam
Penasihat Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, kembali mewakili Parlimen Permatang Pauh selepas memenangi pilihan raya kecil kawasan itu, semalam. Anwar memperoleh 31,195 undi, mengalahkan calon Barisan Nasional (BN), Datuk Arif Shah Omar Shah yang mendapat 15,524 undi. Seorang lagi calon dari Angkatan Keadilan Insan Malaysia (Akim), Hanafi Mamat, pula hilang wang deposit selepas memperoleh hanya 92 undi.

Keputusan itu diumumkan Pegawai Pengurus Pilihan Raya, Roslan Yahaya di pusat penjumlahan undi di Dewan Aminuddin Baki, Institut Perguruan Tuanku Bainun, di sini pada jam 10.05 malam tadi. Seramai 47,356 atau 81.01 peratus daripada 58,459 pemilih mengundi pada pilihan raya kecil itu yang diadakan selepas kerusi berkenaan dikosongkan Presiden PKR, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Ismail bagi memberi laluan kepada suaminya bertanding semula di Permatang Pauh. Anwar menyandang kerusi itu sejak 1982, tetapi tidak bertanding pada pilihan raya umum 1999 berikutan kes liwat dan rasuah yang dihadapinya.


Half-shell helmets may be prohibited

The sale of half-shell helmets may be prohibited as they do not ensure the safety of motorcyclist and pillion riders.

It was generally known that motorcyclists and pillion riders were 17 times more prone to fatalities compared with other road users, using half-shell helmets only put them in danger.

From surveys, many motorcyclists and pillion riders were still unaware of the ban on the use of half-shell helmets. According to a study on road safety, 80 percent of fatalities involving motorcyclist were due to serious head injuries from not wearing helmets properly and wearing helmets not up to safety standards. - Bernama

46 Foreign workers rounded up in massage parlours and spas in Sibu

A total of 46 foreigners working in massage parlours and spas were rounded up by thr police in the secound anti-vice operation called Ops Noda.

In the massive operation involving 70 police personals, 31 women and a transvestite were arrested. In the second operation, a total of 39 police officers and men stormed parlours and foot reflexology centres which hired foreign girls.

Out of 46 roped in, six are male masseurs from Bangladesh, forty are young women from China. 15 foreigners did not have documents to work in the parlours.

'Ops Noda' was carried out nationwide as ditected by the Inspector General of Malaysian Police.

Similar raids were carried out earlier on pubs and budget hotels where 32 were roped in and among them were Indonesians and Filipinos.

New travel ruling for Sarawak Travellers to Brunei with effect August 2008

With effect August 20, 2008 all Sabah and Sarawak vehicles entering or exiting through CIQs to be registered on a computerised system.

Drivers are required to complete a vehicle registeration form and together with a copy of the vehicle's registeration card (Blue Card) and identity card, are to be shown on the Custom officer.

To avoid delays at checkpoints, the department has advised travellers to make earlier registerations at its headquaters in Bandar Seri Begawan, or its branch offices in Kuala Belait, Temburong or Muara Port or Custom counter at Bukit Bendera Post Office in Tutong.

The Department said that failure to adhere to the directive would result in delays in obtaining approval for vechicle to enter or exit Brunei.

Previously, travellers only had to fill up the vechicle registeration form and present them to the CIQ counter for approval valid for a month.

The (computerised information) system is expected to speed up clearance at the CIQ and provide better monitoring system against smuggling activities by locals or foreigners when it is fully implemented.

'Zakat fitrah' set at RM7.50 this year for Sarawak

The Sarawak Islamic Council (MIS) has fixed the 'zakat fitrah' (obligatory alms) for Ramadhan this year at RM7.50 a person due to the rising price of rice.

Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister's Office Department (Islamic Affairs) Datuk Daud Abdul Rahman announced this.

He however, said the increase would not affect tithe collection in the state because only those could afford it were required to pay and the rate depended on the price of the staple food in the country, which was rice.

Last year, the 'zakat fitrah' rate in the Sarawak state was RM5.20

Sex education module for January National Service intake

A slot on sex education will be introduced in the National Service (NS) Training Programme at its January 2009 intake, said Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen.

She said the education module on it will be implemented through a special slot lasting 10 hours at all NS camps.

“The module is known as ‘Self Preservation, Self Protection and Self Deter-mination’ whereby the scope of teaching will cover individual and family values, and understanding physical and emotional changes that each person undergoes.

“We ought to introduce these aspects so that they (NS trainees) know themselves better and are able to handle problems during the adoles-cent stage their lives,” she told reporters after opening the National Demography Conference 2008 yesterday.

She said most adolescents got their information about sex from unofficial sources like during conversations with peers or through the Internet where some of the information presented might not be very accurate.

On another matter, Ng said the ministry planned to set up a special unit to come out with a parenting module for fathers.

“According to studies conducted done on the subject, men are found to be less able to handle emotional stress compared to women.

“They are reluctant to get help from experts and will bottle up their emotions which can lead to various social problems,” she said.

She said the unit would cooperate with non-govern mental agencies like the International Planned Parenthood Federation and United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) in the matter.

— Bernama

Near state-wide blackout no more, assures Tengah

Syarikat Sesco Berhad (Sesco) is making every effort to avoid the recurrence of the tripping incident which caused major blackout in Sarawak on Aug 19, assured Public Utilities Minister Dato Sri Awang Tengah Ali Hassan.

In a press statement yesterday, Tengah said Sesco had rectified the technical problem which was caused by a malfunction of the protection relay at the new 275kV Selangau Substation and not as a result of insufficient capacity or sabotage of the system.

“Sesco has managed to complete the connection of the transmission lines to the new 275kV Selangau Substation two days ahead of the Aug 14 deadline as announced in the press conference on Aug 10,” he said. He disclosed that the state’s current power capacity is about 930 Megawatt (MW) while present maximum demand is about 800 MW.

“When the coal-fired power station in Mukah is completed with the first unit expected to commission in early October this year, it will add another 135 MW to the grid system. We will also plan for the future expansion well in advance to meet the state’s demand” he added.

On Aug 9, almost the whole of Sarawak was without electricity for about three hours in what is one of the state’s worst electricity supply failures in recent years. The power outage could best be described as a rolling blackout as it came in waves starting from about 6.15pm to 6.40pm in Kuching and Sibu divisions.

It reached Miri about 7.30pm while some parts of Bintulu were struck by the blackout at 9pm. The power returned intermittently in several parts of Kuching and Sibu starting about 7.40pm but within half an hour, went out again.

Electricity supply went back to normal in Miri and Sibu at 8.35pm. Kuching city centre, however, remained in darkness throughout the outage until about 9.30pm.

Awang Tengah then issued a press statement saying that the power outage was due to a shutdown to Circuit 1 which finally tripped after the main grid had not been operating normally since 11.45am the day of the blackout.

He said it so happened that the initial problem occurred while works were being carried out at the new Selangau 275kV substation.

He explained that the new substation was needed to connect the new Mukah coal-fired power station to the main grid as part of system expansion and reinforcement programme.


Malaysia scraps Independence Day fireworks to cut costs

Malaysia will scrap fireworks and scale back festivities on its Independence Day this month to cut costs amid soaring global energy and food prices, a news report said Wednesday.

Usually a pyrotechnics extravaganza lights up the capital's night-sky on August 31 at the iconic Petronas Twin Towers, but this time around Kuala Lumpur is readying for a more muted and frugal event.

"For this year we have been told by the federal government to cut down on all unnecessary events," City Hall's cultural, arts and tourism director Mohammad Sidek Khalid told the News Straits Times daily.

"We were told to spend moderately and cut down on live shows as the cost was too much to bear," he was quoted as saying.

Customary street parades will also be scaled down in line with cost-cutting measures, the report said.

Malaysians have been hit by high energy and food prices. The government hiked fuel prices overnight by 41 percent in June to cut a heavy subsidy bill.

In trying to cushion the impact of the price hikes, Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has announced a slew of cost-cutting measures within government agencies and offered cash rebates to the public.

Wong: We’ll ask for more funds to install CCTVs

Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh

SIBU: More funds will be requested from the federal government to install closed circuit TVs (CCTVs) in major towns and cities.

Minister of Environment and Public Health Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh told a press conference this after chairing his first meeting with chairmen and secretaries from 26 councils in Sarawak at Sibu Municipal Council (SMC) Office, Wisma Sanyan here yesterday.

“We will request between RM4 million and RM6 million per town and city for the installation of CCTVs at strategic points.

“Depending on the fund allocation, we hope to have as wide a coverage as possible,” Wong added.
Asked about his recent meeting with Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Ong Ka Chuan, Wong said the discussion was centred around CCTV-related matters.

The ministry concerned would assist them with the installation of CCTVs in major towns and cities, Wong said, adding that he would ask for a fairer allocation of funds.

Wong, who is also Second Finance Minister, hoped that greater emphasis would be given to Sarawak considering the size of the state and its contribution to the formation of the Barisan Nasional government.

He revealed that the federal allocation for local councils in the state was RM23 million in 2007, and he would ask for a greater allocation.

Wong said while they would do their best to get federal funding, they would also try more effective ways to collect revenue.

They were looking at prudent financial control in efforts to generate cost-saving, he said citing the importance of eliminating wastage.

For example, in hawker centres, there should not be wastage of electricity and water.
In addition, he urged council members to be more creative and innovative in looking for ways and means to generate income.

Wong suggested that the council work closely with private entrepreneurs and individuals on park maintenance and so on, reiterating that he would try to get as much funding as possible from the federal government.

On his meeting with the chairmen and secretaries from the 26 councils, he said they had discussed the common issues faced.

“My ministry will take note of the issues highlighted and hope to assist in finding a solution to some of these problems, if not immediately, then in time to come,” he said.

It was important to make councils effective service agencies, taking into consideration the people’s interest, he added.

“The local government is very close to the people. Directly and indirectly this affects people. In that sense, we hope to carry out good work and provide better service for the benefit of the people. Whatever we do will affect people,” he said.

Wong said they were coming up with new rules and regulations, more guidelines on how to monitor and manage council activities and that this was an ongoing exercise.

He announced that the tree-planting programme had been entrusted to the local authorities looking after landscape beautification and greening of the environment in the state.

The statewide launch would be held in Kuching on Aug 23 in conjunction with the 45th anniversary of Sarawak’s independence within Malaysia.


Issue : Sesco must compensate consumers for losses during blackouts

FOR about three hours on Saturday evening at a time when electricity was most needed, there was no power throughout most if not all of Sarawak. The whole of Sarawak was literally in darkness with people groping their way across streets and alleys.

Well, we scored a big zero on Saturday night in the eyes of investors and tourists with the state-wide power failure.

I think it is only right that Sesco now compensate all consumers in Sarawak monetarily for inconveniencing us and causing many businesses huge losses. I calculate that the power failure cost me RM450 in lost work revenue (I charge a fee of RM150 per hour for my services) and I think that another 10 per cent should be added onto this figure for plain inconvenience.

So, can I expect a rebate of RM495 in my next month’s bill? Can other consumers and businesses also expect likewise from the power company?

If it fails or refuses to do so, then it only shows how uncaring Sesco is to our need for a constant and regular supply of electricity.

Frankly, this shows that there is a need for management reforms. Clearly, the frequency of blackouts throughout our state over the last few years is unacceptably high.

There have been a few minor blackouts over the last decade. But Saturday’s blackout was similar to the one experienced nearly nine years ago when the whole state was in darkness for nearly three hours.

There were many attempts by worried neighbours and friends to contact Sesco for an answer to Saturday’s blackout. Bad sadly, no one picked up the phone. What happened to its hotline? Wasn’t anyone manning the line?

Even one blackout is one too many. It only underscores the necessity of disciplining/penalising the power company’s management. Otherwise, why do they care if we consumers and businesses are negatively-affected by their power outages?

Letter to the editors, Borneopost Saturday, 16 August 2008

CM: We’ll source own funds

State to finance its own projects if national budget allocations insufficient

The Sarawak government will source for its own funds for development projects if the national budget to be tabled by the Prime Minister on Aug 29 is not to its expectation.

“Normally, when we cannot get from the federal (government) what we think is of importance to Sarawak, we have to think on our own what to include in our budget.

“That’s how we work,” Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud told reporters after opening a conference at Santubong near here yesterday, when asked to comment on the state government’s expectation of the budget.

He said Sarawak had its own development needs.

Taib, who is Finance Minister, said if the state’s needs were reflected in the budget and the state government viewed it as sufficient, Sarawak would not have to come up with a different structure in the state budget.

On professional and skilled workers working in outside Sarawak, he said the government could only create opportunities and enough jobs for them to return but the decision rested on the people.

“Whether these people wish to come back here or not is their decision. Some come back to work although their salaries are lower because they begin to understand that the living cost here is lower.

“It would be impractical to pay them salaries as high as the ones they received overseas because they would have to pay hefty taxes at the end of the day,” he said.

Taib believed employees’ salaries would gradually be increased when productivity was higher due to better management, equipment and working environment.

Earlier, when opening the four-day Public Service and Education Commissions national conference, Taib said the commissions, among others, must continue to exercise fair recruitment practices and ensure enough room for changes in the civil service.

He said government departments and agencies needed to be restructured one day to meet the rising challenges in the future and to ensure that development works were carried out by qualified people.

Citing an example, he said the Public Works Depart-ment (JKR) was currently being restructured to be the preferred client of the government particularly concerning development projects.

“The exercise is necessary to attract international firms to work together with the department when Malaysia achieved its developed nation status,” he added.

As such, he said the commissions had to start identifying which departments could change gradually towards that end and employ more and quality graduates.

Taib said he was glad that the Malaysian public service had been very adaptive over the years yet remain non-political and able to serve the government of the day.

Meanwhile, Malaysia Public Service Commission chairman Tan Sri Jamaluddin Ahmad Damanhuri said this year’s conference theme, ‘Public Service For All’ was in line with the commission’s efforts to have intakes that would better reflect all racial groups, the handicapped and the poor.

The commission would introduce the ‘Profiling Recruitment Model’ (PRM) to ensure an applicant is truly suitable for the job in terms of personality, psychology, aptitude and competency and not merely shortlisted through academic qualification.

PRM featured three stages namely examination, assessment and interview, he said, adding that it was still being fine tuned.

In a separate interview, state JKR state director Datu Hubert Thien said the department was being restructured with some units privatised so that it could be the consultant of choice for the government.

He said the department would gradually downsize its human resources from some 10,000 to 3,000 or 4,000 people in the next few years with some retired or absor-bed by private companies.

“Now we go for more quality and knowledgeable staff and we encourage them to go for a second degree and PhD.

“We need to be better consultants to monitor consultants,” he said.

Markets down on more bad news from the US : 19 August 2008

The market was down an hour after trade began on Tuesday as investors reacted negatively to news on Wall Street that there may be more trouble ahead for US quasi-government mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

At 10am, the KLCI had shed 14.05 points to 1,070.31. Turnover was 77.68 million shares valued at RM120.32mil. There were 43 gainers, 251 decliners with 112 counters unchanged.

Markets in the region were mostly down with the exception of Shanghai's A Share Index, which was up 21.35 points to 2,341.21. Tokyo's Nikkei 225 was down 349.02 points to 12,816.43 while Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index and Singapore's Straits Times Index shed 134 points and 38.09 points each to 20,796.67 and 2,738.89 respectively.

Light crude at the Nymex eased to 112.70 while the ringgit was trading at 3.33 to the dollar. Light crude has fallen 23% so far from its record this year on July 11 when it was trading above US$147.

Amongst the losers, Bursa lost 15 sen to RM6.40 while Tenaga and KFC shed 20 sen each to RM8.25 and RM6.50 respectively. KNM, Ann Joo and Sarawak Plantation were amongst the gainers, up 4 sen each to RM1.50, RM3.22 and RM3.14 respectively.

Akta DNA ke Parlimen - Wajibkan suspek kes jenayah beri sampel kepada pihak berkuasa

Rang Undang-Undang Indentifikasi Asid Deoksiribonukleik (DNA) 2008 yang bakal menjadi peraturan yang digunakan bagi mewajibkan suspek kes jenayah memberikan sampel DNA mereka kepada pihak berkuasa dibentangkan di Dewan Rakyat untuk bacaan kali pertama hari ini.

Menteri Dalam Negeri, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar yang membentangkan rang-undang-undang itu berkata, kerajaan sudah merancang untuk mewujudkan akta tersebut sejak tahun 2001 bagi memudahkan proses pengecaman penjenayah.

Rang Undang-Undang Indentifikasi DNA, jika diluluskan, akan menyediakan hukuman yang boleh dikenakan terhadap mereka yang enggan memberi, membenar atau menghalang sampel DNA bukan intim (non-intimate) seperti kuku, calitan daripada bahagian bukan sulit badan dan air liur diambil untuk diuji dalam sesuatu kes jenayah yang disiasat.

Bagi sampel DNA intim (intimate sample) pula, air mani, darah, cecair badan atau tisu, urin, bulu kemaluan dan calitan bahagian sulit individu diwajibkan diambil daripada mereka yang menjadi suspek kes jenayah.


Postal vote still relevant

The postal voting system is still relevant to the democratic process and it cannot be abolished, Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said.

He added if the postal voting system was rescinded, it would create public security problems because the security personnel have to leave their posts to vote, while overseas Malaysians would be deprived of their right as voters.

Nazri said that those who were eligible for postal voting were the police and military personnel, those who work and live overseas such as students, staff of embassies and high commissions and their spouses.

"The postal voting system can be improved, as seen by the demands by groups such as Bersih, and the Election Commission will study the suggestions made by such groups," he told Loh Gwo Burne (PKR-Kelana Jaya) in Parliament on Monday.

On the written reply to the Prime Minister made on July 5 concerning postal vote slips that couldn't be accepted by polling officers after 5pm on polling day, Nazri said the matter was outside the control of the Election Commission because postal votes would not be counted after 5pm.

On the many polls petitions on election results filed by individuals and members of political parties, Nazri said such petitions showed that the country practised democracy.
The legal process would sort out the outcome of the petitions, he added.

Hajat emas Olimpik tidak kesampaian

PEMAIN Malaysia, Lee Chong Wei (kiri) mengucapkan tahniah kepada pemain nombor satu dunia dari China, Lin Dan selepas perlawanan akhir badminton perseorangan lelaki di Sukan Olimpik, Beijing malam tadi. Chong Wei kecundang kepada pilihan utama itu 21-12, 21-8.

Harapan Malaysia memenangi pingat emas pertama Sukan Olimpik tidak kesampaian apabila pemain utama negara, Lee Chong Wei, tumpas pada perlawanan akhir badminton perseorangan lelaki, malam tadi. Chong Wei kecundang kepada pemain nombor satu dunia dan juga pilihan utama dari China, Lin Dan 21-12, 21-8.

Kekalahannya menamatkan pemburuan emas negara pada temasya di Beijing kali ini kerana badminton adalah satu-satunya sukan yang mempunyai harapan cerah untuk misi pencarian itu.

Namun, kemampuan Chong Wei mara ke perlawanan akhir tetap membanggakan kerana ia adalah pingat pertama dimenangi kontinjen negara selepas pulang dengan tangan kosong pada dua temasya sebelumnya, Sydney 2000 dan Athens 2004.


Olympic Games begin in Beijing

Performers lit up their drums during the 0pening Ceremony for the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing on Friday

An ecstatic China, an ancient nation so determined to be a modern power, finally got its Olympic moment on Friday night. With world leaders watching from inside the latticed shell of the National Stadium, the 2008 Beijing Olympics began with an opening ceremony of soaring fireworks, lavish spectacle and a celebration of Chinese culture and international good will.

At 8 p.m. on the eighth day of the eighth month — eight being a lucky number in China — the world looked toward Beijing and the 91,000 people inside the National Stadium. The global television audience was estimated to surpass four billion people.

"The historic moment we have long awaited is arriving," President Hu Jintao said earlier Friday at a luncheon with visiting heads of state, including President George W. Bush. "The world has never needed mutual understanding, mutual toleration and mutual cooperation as much as it does today."

Beneath such grand themes, Beijing on Friday endured more smoggy skies and a tightening security clampdown amid reports of possible terror threats.

Air China Flight 406 returned to Central Japan International Airport after the Japanese authorities received an e-mail warning that a bomb onboard the jetliner would be detonated as the plane crossed over the Olympic Village, Kyodo News reported. The international flight had been destined for the Chinese city of Chongqing.
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Beijing's airport, one of the world's busiest, was already closed during the ceremony in a previously planned precaution. Out in the city, traffic was restricted on many streets and limited to pre-approved Olympic-sanctioned vehicles. Many shops and businesses closed early for security reasons and hours before the ceremony some areas seemed almost deserted in a city of about 15 million people.

China first made its bid to hold the Games 15 years ago, only to be rejected. Since 2001, when the city won its bid to stage the 2008 Games, the Beijing Olympics have been a national priority.
Initially, city officials had planned for a festive public celebration. Giant screens had been erected across the city to allow public viewing, but by midday Friday at least one major screening at Chaoyang Park had been canceled due to a lack of security guards.

Meanwhile, some local newspapers advised people to stay home and watch the show with their families.

"Anyone who tries to disturb the Olympics now by arousing social instability should be severely punished," said Ma Jie, 53, a taxi driver.

"What could be more despicable than that?"
Bush arrived in Beijing late on Thursday night after angering China with sharp criticism of its human rights record during a speech in Thailand.

But by midday Friday, Bush was seen chatting with Hu, the Chinese president, during a luncheon inside the Great Hall of the People.

The two men shared a table with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin of Russia, Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda of Japan and even the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, who once threatened to boycott the opening ceremony, Reuters reported.

The Beijing Games are the most politically charged Olympics in decades, especially after China's suppression of violent Tibetan protests in March drew international criticism and talk of possible boycotts.

Earlier this week, four Tibet independence advocates unfurled a "Free Tibet" banner near the National Stadium before the banner was removed and the advocates were deported.

The authorities have also placed several well-known dissidents under house arrest at a time when an estimated 100,000 police and other soldiers are posted around the city.

But even amid such an enormous security presence, many of the people walking the streets near the Olympic Village were giddy and proud that China could show itself to the world.

One of these people, Yang Bin, a disc jockey, had traveled more than 500 miles from Chongqing and was playing hip-hop music along the city's most famous shopping street, Wangfujing.

"I came to Beijing last night to celebrate the Olympics, even though I don't have a ticket," Yang said. "China is never more glorious than Friday. The whole world is watching us."

Part of what the world has seen this week is smog.

The Chinese authorities have ordered two million vehicles off Beijing's streets and closed factories throughout the region, but the skies have only been sporadically blue. Part of the problem is hot, humid weather, absent much wind. The pollution levels have become a concern for athletes. On Friday, the reading was 94 on a scale of 500; any day above 100 is deemed polluted and in violation of China's air quality standards.

The dazzling opening ceremony, directed by China's most famous film director, Zhang Yimou, cost tens of millions of dollars, a fraction of the estimated $43 billion that China has spent in building roads, stadiums, parks and subway lines in trying to transform Beijing into an Olympic city. The elaborate production for the opening ceremony included 15,000 performers and a three-part performance focused partly on China's long history and its desire for good will with the rest of the world.

The production was filled with signature Chinese touches: the elaborate choreography of dancers on a giant calligraphy scroll; the undulating rows of Chinese characters, with the character for "harmony" illuminated in light; and the use of masses of people, working in unison in a grand spectacle centered on traditional Chinese history, music, dance and art.

"This is a great honor for my culture," said the famed composer, Tan Dun, whose score will be played during gold medal ceremonies. "This is a lot more than about China. If we think this is only China's moment, it's a big mistake. It's the moment of the world."

A ticket to the opening ceremony was one of the toughest to obtain during the Games. One person who did not have a ticket was Lei Xiuying, 61, a peasant. She had traveled more than 1,500 miles on a three-day train trip from the city of Kunming. She had no ticket and was sleeping on a pallet beneath an underpass not far from the National Stadium because she could not afford a hotel room.

But she said she had to be in Beijing, anyway. "I watched television and listened to my radio everyday," Lei said as she wore a pin with a photo of Mao on her shirt. "There was so much exciting news about the Olympics that I decided six month ago to come here and see for myself."


Sarawak: Malaria tak jejas pelancong

Penularan wabak malaria di Bario tidak menjejas kehadiran pelancong yang terus datang untuk berkunjung ke destinasi pelancongan popular di tanah tinggi utara Sarawak itu.

Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri (Adun) Ba’kelalan, Nelson Balang Rinning, berkata pelancong tidak risau dengan penularan wabak itu kerana mereka masih boleh mendapatkan rawatan atau ubat anti- malaria dua minggu sebelum berkunjung ke situ.

Justeru, beliau berkata, tiada sebab bagi pelancong membatalkan niat datang ke Bario yang terkenal dengan eko-pelancongan.

“Kita tidak menolak kemungkinan ada pelancong takut dengan wabak berkenaan.

Namun, mereka masih ada cara untuk mengelak jangkitan malaria. Setakat ini, penularan wabak malaria di Bario tidak menjejaskan kehadiran pelancong berkunjung ke kawasan tanah tinggi berkenaan,” katanya ketika dihubungi di sini, semalam.

Wabak malaria di Bario dilaporkan meningkat dengan ketara sejak dua minggu lalu. Sehingga Jumaat lalu, sejumlah 136 kes malaria dilaporkan di kawasan berkenaan. Jabatan Kesihatan Sarawak sudahpun menghantar pegawai perubatan ke lokasi wabak untuk mengawal jangkitan kes itu sejak minggu lalu.


Permatang Pauh: Kempen 10 hari, 26 Ogos hari undi

Hari penamaan: 16 Ogos
Pengundian: 26 Ogos
Daftar Pemilih dikemas kini 31 Julai 2008
Jumlah pemilih 58,449 orang
Pemilih sehingga 31 Julai lepas: 58,459 orang
Laman web semakan pemilih:
Pusat pengundian : 28
Keputusan Pilihan Raya Umum Ke-12 8 Mac 2008
Wan Azizah Wan Ismail (PKR): 30,338
Pirdaus Ismail (BN - Umno): 16,950 Majoriti: 13,388 Keluar mengundi: 47,442 (81.2%)
Undi rosak: 110 Pemilih: 58,449

PUTRAJAYA: Buat kali kedua dalam tempoh lima bulan, lebih 58,000 pengundi Parlimen Permatang Pauh akan kembali ke pusat pengundian untuk memilih wakil rakyat mereka yang baru - pada 26 Ogos ini.Penamaan calon bagi pilihan raya kecil itu, yang pertama selepas pilihan raya umum ke-12, ditetapkan pada 16 Ogos dengan tempoh untuk berkempen selama 10 hari.
Pagi ini, Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya (SPR) menetapkan hari penamaan calon dan pengundian pilihan raya kecil itu selepas ia dikosongkan oleh penyandangnya Datuk Seri Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail pada Khamis lalu.

Dr. Wan Azizah, Presiden PKR memberi laluan kepada suaminya, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim bertanding di kawasan itu.

Dalam pilihan raya umum 8 Mac lepas, Dr. Wan Azizah memperoleh 30,338 undi bagi menewaskan Datuk Pirdaus Ismail dari Barisan Nasional dengan majoriti 13,388.

Kerusi itu juga pernah diwakili oleh Anwar semasa beliau masih dalam Umno.Setiausaha SPR, Datuk Kamaruzaman Mohd. Noor ketika dihubungi mStar Online memberitahu, tempoh berkempen 10 hari adalah mencukupi bagi pilihan raya kecil.

Kata beliau, SPR mempertimbangkan kemungkinan untuk mengadakan pilihan raya kecil secepat mungkin.

"Undang-undang memperuntukkan minimum tujuh hari. Jumlah hari pada kali ini adalah lebih berbanding tempoh kempen pilihan raya umum 2004," kata beliau.

Pada pilihan raya umum ke-12 8 Mac lalu, SPR memperuntukkan tempoh berkempen 13 hari.
Ketika ditanya mengapa pilih Selasa sebagai hari untuk membuang undi, beliau memberitahu, dengan mengambil kira jumlah hari untuk berkempen selama 10 hari, hari ke-11 iaitu hari pengundian jatuh pada hari Selasa.

Seramai 58,459 pemilih layak yang terdiri daripada 57,969 pemilih biasa dan 490 pengundi pos layak mengambil bahagian dalam pilihan raya kecil kali ini.

Dalam kenyataan yang dikeluarkan selepas mesyuaratnya yang bermula 10 pagi, Pengerusi SPR, Tan Sri Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman berkata, writ pilihan raya akan dikeluarkan esok manakala notis pilihan raya pula hari keesokan.

"SPR memberi nasihat kepada semua pihak terutamanya parti-parti politik, calon-calon dan petugas-petugas parti dan individu lain yang terlibat perlu sentiasa mematuhi undang-undang pilihan raya serta tatasusila berkempen yang ditetapkan agar dapat menjaga ketenteraman dan keselamatan awam," katanya.

Daftar Pemilih Induk 2007 yang diwartakan pada 5 Februari 2008 dan Daftar Pemilih Tambahan Suku Tahun Pertama tahun 2008 yang diwartakan 19 Jun lalu dan dikemas kini sehingga 31 Julai lalu akan digunakan dalam pilihan raya kecil Permatang Pauh.

Tambah beliau, buat masa ini terdapat beberapa kes petisyen pilihan raya bagi pilihan raya umum 2008 yang masih berada di peringkat perbicaraan.

"Oleh itu calon-calon diingatkan supaya tidak menyentuh isu-isu yang melibatkan kes-kes petisyen dalam kempen-kempen mereka," katanya.

SPR telah melantik untuk pilihan raya itu, Pegawai Daerah Seberang Perai Tengah Roslan Yahaya sebagai Pegawai Pengurus dan tiga penolong Pegawai Pengurus iaitu Setiausaha Majlis Perbandaran Seberang Perai Zainol Abidin Md Noh, Ketua Penolong Pegawai Daerah (Pengurusan) Seberang Perai Tengah Kamarul Haizal Koderat, dan Penolong Pegawai Daerah (Tanah) Seberang Perai Tengah Azizal Ahmad.

‘Single women’ too many due to higher education

The increasing number of women opting to remain single may have resulted from certain factors including better education and economic independence.

Dr Oei Hong-Lim of Universiti Malaya’s Faculty of Economics and Administration, said various aspects that might have impacted the lives of single women here were investigated, including the level of education that allowed them to secure good jobs and consequently become independent.

“Being single is increasingly socially accepted, including in traditional societies with little or no history of non-marriage.

“It may not be an exaggeration to say that lately there is a trend of singlehood,” she said in her thesis presentation, ‘Staying Single in Kuching’ at the Sixth International Malaysian Studies Conference (MSC) here.

She said other social and economic circumstances that contributed to the “single women” phenomenon included career, living arrangements and family ties.

Meanwhile, Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) Faculty of Social Science tutor, Dayang Asmah Awang Hamdan said the idea of marriage and family life acquired by young Malay women were not just drawn from their own family but also through their experiences of education and work.

In her paper entitled ‘Young Malay Women’s Views on Negotiating Marriage and Family in Sarawak’, she said their exposure to the media as well as the influence of religion and government also influenced their views on marriage and motherhood.

She argued that women’s higher education and participation in formal wage labour had an impact on mate selection and their views on sharing of domestic work.

The three-day conference, the flagship of the Malaysian Social Science Association, brings together scholars from Malaysia and abroad for interaction and exchange of views based on their research findings and reflections on the country.

It also analyses issues and problems related to contemporary Malaysia and compares the Malaysian experience with that of various countries in the world, specially Malaysia’s neighbours.

— Bernama BP6/7/08


Kerajaan kaji semula harga rumah kos rendah

Kerajaan bersedia mengkaji semula nilai rumah kos rendah yang ketika ini kekal pada harga RM42,000 berikutan rungutan pemaju perumahan yang terpaksa menanggung kenaikan kos membina rumah sehingga 30 peratus.

Timbalan Menteri Perumahan dan Kerajaan Tempatan, Datuk Hamzah Zainudin bagaimanapun, berkata perkara itu memerlukan kajian yang teliti dan akan mengambil masa kerana ia membabitkan kepentingan rakyat bawahan.

“Kerajaan maklum mengenai kenaikan harga barang dan kos bahan binaan yang secara langsung menyebabkan kos pembinaan rumah meningkat.

“Tetapi, pemaju perumahan harus faham harga bahan binaan juga seperti harga minyak, ada masa naik dan ada masanya turun. Jadi, kita tidak boleh terus membuat sebarang perubahan jika harga sesuatu barang itu naik kerana mungkin esok harga itu akan turun kembali,” katanya.

Beliau memberitahu pemberita demikian selepas merasmikan Pusat Khidmat Pelanggan 24 jam oleh syarikat Raine, Horne & Zaki Property Management Sdn Bhd di kondominium Changkat View, di sini, semalam. Hadir sama, Penasihat Raine, Horne & Zaki Property Management Sdn Bhd, Datuk Zaki Said, Pengarah Eksekutif Raine, Horne International Zaki & Partners, Ganesh Chinnappan dan Ketua Pengarah Jabatan Penilaian & Pengurusan Harta Malaysia Kementerian Kewangan, Datuk Sri Abdullah Thalith Md Thani.

Sebelum ini, Persatuan Pemaju Hartanah dan Perumahan Malaysia (Rehda) menuntut kerajaan menaikkan harga rumah kos rendah daripada RM42,000 kepada RM60,000 dengan alasan pemaju tidak mampu menyerap kenaikan kos membina rumah kos rendah berikutan peningkatan harga bahan binaan.

Hamzah berkata, kementerian akan memastikan kajian penetapan harga rumah kos rendah bukan saja memberi keutamaan kepada kemampuan golongan berpendapatan rendah memiliki rumah selesa, malah menjamin pertumbuhan industri perumahan negara secara keseluruhannya.

Katanya, kerajaan menerusi Syarikat Perumahan Negara Bhd (SPNB) akan cuba merangka kerjasama dengan pemaju swasta dalam usaha memastikan sektor perumahan negara terus berkembang pesat.

“Menerusi kerjasama itu nanti, adalah diharap tiada lagi masalah kos atau pelbagai masalah sampingan sehingga terpaksa mengecilkan saiz rumah semata-mata untuk menjimatkan kos.

“Kerajaan menyedari pentingnya pemilikan rumah yang mampu dimiliki rakyat.

Kita juga yakin sasaran membina 80,400 unit rumah kos rendah pada Rancangan Malaysia Kesembilan (RMK-9) akan dapat dicapai berdasarkan kemampuan sektor swasta membina 97,200 unit dalam RMK-8 meskipun jumlah ditetapkan bagi tempoh itu ialah 40,000 unit,” katanya.

Mohon visa umrah sebelum 31 ogos

Agensi pelancongan yang menguruskan jemaah umrah bagi Syaaban dan Ramadan perlu menghantar maklumat pelanggan mereka kepada Kementerian Haji Arab Saudi selewat-lewatnya akhir bulan ini.

Timbalan Presiden Persatuan Ejen Pelancongan dan Pengembaraan Malaysia (Matta), Datuk Mohd Khalid Harun berkata, langkah itu perlu bagi membolehkan pihak berkuasa Arab Saudi memproses setiap permohonan dengan cepat memandangkan jumlah permohonan bagi mengerjakan umrah dalam dua bulan itu melebihi daripada biasa.

Katanya, perkara itu terkandung dalam garis panduan berkaitan penyerahan pasport untuk permohonan visa umrah di dua bulan itu yang perlu dipatuhi semua ejen pelancongan di Malaysia.

“Rejab, Syaaban dan Ramadan adalah musim kemuncak untuk umat Islam mengerjakan umrah di Tanah Suci dan dianggarkan kira-kira 20,000 umat Islam di negara ini akan melakukan ibadat itu tahun ini.

“Justeru, Kedutaan meminta semua agensi pelancongan supaya membuat persediaan sewajarnya dan segera membuat permohonan untuk mendapatkan kelulusan daripada Kementerian Haji, Arab Saudi.

“Perlu diingat masa yang mencukupi perlu diberi kepada Kedutaan Arab Saudi untuk mempercepatkan proses pengeluaran visa tanpa sebarang kesulitan,” katanya dalam kenyataan di sini, semalam.

Mohd Khalid berkata, tarikh akhir pengeluaran visa dari kedutaan Arab Saudi kepada jemaah umrah bagi bulan berkenaan ialah pada pertengahan Ramadan bersamaan 15 September depan.

Justeru, beliau menasihat ahli Matta terbabit pengurusan umrah supaya mematuhi garis panduan dikeluarkan supaya tidak menyulitkan pelanggan yang berurusan dengan mereka.

Turun harga minyak: MIER minta kerajaan tunggu dulu

Institut Penyelidikan Ekonomi Malaysia (MIER) menyarankan kerajaan menunggu sedikit masa lagi sebelum menurunkan harga runcit petrol dan menetapkan harga bahan api itu berdasarkan purata harga pasaran bulanan minyak mentah dunia.

Pengarah Eksekutifnya, Profesor Emeritus, Datuk Dr Mohamed Arif Abdul Kareem, berkata walaupun langkah kerajaan itu dianggap wajar bagi mengurangkan beban rakyat, ia perlu mengambil kira keadaan pasaran minyak mentah dunia yang masih tidak menentu.

“Lebih baik kerajaan tunggu sedikit masa sebelum melaksanakannya sehingga harga minyak mentah dunia berada pada paras lebih selesa dan menghasilkan formula lebih baik,” katanya pada Seminar Brown Bag MIER mengenai Ketidakstabilan Kewangan di Malaysia dalam tempoh 10 tahun di Kuala Lumpur, semalam.

Jumaat lalu, Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi menyatakan harga runcit petrol akan ditetapkan berdasarkan purata harga pasaran bulanan minyak mentah dunia mulai 1 September ini, dengan subsidi dikekalkan pada kadar 30 sen seliter.

Mengikut kaedah itu, harga runcit petrol akan diturunkan jika purata harga pasaran bulanan minyak mentah dunia susut ke bawah paras AS$125 setong, iaitu kadar ketika penstrukturan semula subsidi minyak diumumkan kerajaan 4 Jun lalu. Mohamed Arif berkata, dalam tempoh sementara, langkah mengehadkan pemberian subsidi sebanyak 30 sen seliter dan membenarkan harga petrol minyak mentah dunia menentukan harga runcit petrol dilihat akan menyaksikan ketidaktentuan dalam pasaran.

“Harga runcit akan mengalami naik turun dan ini tentunya akan memberi masalah kepada pengguna. Untuk menurunkan harga (petrol) memang mudah, tetapi sukar untuk menaikkannya semula.

“Saya fikir harga minyak mentah dunia mampu terus turun bawah AS$100 setong. Kenaikan sebahagian besar dicetuskan aktiviti spekulasi,” katanya.


More youngsters having mental issues

The latest National Health and Morbidity Study shows an increase in the number of mental ailment sufferers in Malaysia, especially among children and teenagers.

The study, conducted in 2006 and released this year, shows mental ailments among adults at 11.2% and 20.3% in children and teenagers, said Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad.

In 1996, the figures were 10.7% and 13% respectively, he added.

Dr Abdul Latiff added that the desire to commit suicide among those aged between 16 and 24 was 11% and that 47.7% of adults suffered from insomnia.

He said that suicidal tendencies and insomnia were related to stress.

Dr Abdul Latiff, who revealed the study’s findings when opening the state-level Health Carnival, said it was important to overcome stress at all levels including in schools, work places, public institutions and government offices.

He said the ministry had organised an anti-stress campaign since 2000 linking a healthy lifestyle with good mental health.

In conjunction with the carnival, the ministry is also promoting a health and food safety campaign since food poisoning cases have increased from 149 episodes in 2006 to 412 last year.
For the first quarter of this year alone there were 174 episodes reported and 70% of the cases happened at school canteens.

In Kelantan, there were 29 episodes of food poisoning in 2006 and 35 last year.

Dr Abdul Latiff said that as poor hygiene and cross food contamination were the main reasons for food poisoning, the ministry wanted canteen food operators and handlers to attend food safety seminars held in their districts.

Monday August 4, 2008 The Star

Fuel prices likely to drop

Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan expects a drop in petrol prices next month following the current downward trend in global crude oil prices.

Ong, a member of the Cabinet’s anti-inflation committee, said this was only fair as the Government has had to explain to the people that it was unavoidable that petrol prices would go up when global oil prices surged.

“But if the price of crude oil should fall, then our petrol prices should drop too,” he told reporters before a ‘Guan Gong Puja’ ceremony at Tow Boo Keong temple here on Saturday night.

“We cannot have a situation where petrol prices increase only and not go down,” he added.
On Friday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had announced that the petrol price would be reviewed monthly from Sept 1 based on the average global market price.

Abdullah had said that the new price would be decided on the first day of every month and that subsidy will be fixed at RM0.30sen a litre.

Ong gave his assurance of the Government promise that the petrol price would not exceed RM2.70 a litre.

“I feel there is a big possibility there will be a drop (in petrol price) in September, but it depends on the crude oil market in August.

“This is something we can look forward to,” he said, adding that the it would take about a month to adjust to the new system announced by the Government.

RM2 per litre will have implications: Najib

Lowering the price of petrol to RM2 per litre is possible but there are implications, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Abdul Razak.

"Anything is possible. It depends on how much you want to set aside for subsidy," he said.
However, he said, at the current rate, the subsidy was already huge.

On Sunday, PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim promised that he would fix the petrol price at RM2 per litre if Pakatan Rakyat succeeded in forming the government. The RM2 per litre is a 50 sen decrease from his earlier promised price.

"The worldwide trend is moving towards world market price. What he is suggesting has implications," said Najib.

At the same time, the subsidy bill would be enormous and it would encourage energy consumption instead of conservation, he said.

"It is another example of his populist approach," he said Monday after launching the 13th civil service conference on Taking Charge: Leadership in the Public Service.

On Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin's decision to defend his Umno vice-president's post instead of contesting one of the top two posts as speculated, Najib said he respected his decision.

"I am sure he has given serious thought to it. Obviously, he wants to be a team player and does not want to disrupt the leadership and transition plan that has been announced by the Prime Minister," he said.

The Star - Monday August 4, 2008 MYT 7:10:07 PM

Chinese firm to build Murum Dam

TOWARDS A NEW­ ERA OF POWER SUFFICIENCY: An architectural impression of the Murum Dam and inset, the Murum Dam facility (powerhouse) will look like once completed.

RM3 bln 940MW dam project to provide jobs for 5,000 people; ready in five years time

The proposal from the China Three Gorges Project Corporation (CTGPC), a state-owned Chinese investment body, to build Sarawak’s third hydro-power dam in Murum in central Sarawak has been accepted by the Sarawak government.

Sources told The Borneo Post yesterday that the state cabinet made the decision on Thursday last week.

According to the sources, the project cost for the 940MW dam is about RM3 billion and the contract period is five years.

Negotiations will start immediately on its details such as technical and engineering aspects between Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB), the state-owned listed power conglomerate, and the Chinese firm.

The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) studies have been completed.

However, details of such studies are not immediately available.

The Chinese corporation is the financier, developer and operator of the US$25 billion, 22,500MW Three Gorges Dam now in the final stage of construction in the Yangtze River.

Another Chinese company Sino-Hidro, which is already involved in the Bakun and Bengoh dams in Sarawak, also made a bid for the Murum Dam, one of a series of 12 dams that the state government through SEB plans to develop over the next 12 years to produce about 7,000MW of electricity for state and national needs.

The sources said the target date for completion of the Murum Dam is 2011 and work could start as early as September or end of this year.

SEB went to China thrice this year to make presentation to CTGPC to invite its participation in the development of hydro-power in Sarawak in anticipation of several large energy-intensive industries, including the proposed aluminium smelter plant in Similajau in Bintulu.

With the go-ahead of the Murum Dam project and the on-going 2,400MW Bakun Dam, by the early 2010s Sarawak will have produced a total of about 4,000MW of electricity, largely hydro-power, cutting down on other sources, especially diesel which is becoming increasingly costly per unit of production.

Hydro-power is the cleanest, safest, cheapest in the long run and with the least environmental impact, given today’s available technology.

Sarawak’s first hydro dam is Batang Ai built in the 1970s with capacity to produce about 180MW, with a Japanese yen credit.

It is already supplying electricity to parts of Sarawak. Bakun is the second dam but due to several factors is slightly behind time.

The sources told The Borneo Post that at the height of its construction period as many as 5,000 workers would be employed in the Murum Dam.

The area to be flooded in the Murum Dam is said to be largely uninhabited.

S’wak on high alert for HFMD

Sarawak is already on full alert for the recurrence of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD).

The potential for contracting the disease reportedly peaks at three year intervals and next year will mark the end of its current cycle, stated Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan yesterday.

He also said that there seemed to be a slight increase in the number of EV71 cases detected in Miri, Bintulu and Kuching but assured the public that this was not an indicator of an epidemic or outbreak.

“I am expecting the Health Department to get back to me with feedback soon. We are already on full alert for HFMD because the probability of contracting the disease may well increase towards the end of the year.

“There has been a slight increase in terms of related cases since last month but compared to last year when there were about 5,000 (cumulative) cases, these numbers are still on the low side. Currently, there are about 3,000 recorded cases.

However, we want to be cautious because the disease is noted to hit its peak every three years,” he told reporters after sending off the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi at the airport here.

Dr Chan, who is the State Disaster and Relief Committee chairman said the recent closure of SK St Augustine in Mambong after 15 pupils were diagnosed with hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) was a necessary measure.

Mambong is located 26 kilometres from Kuching.

He commended the school and Education Department for their quick thinking regarding the swift closure which consequently made it easier to control the spread of the disease.

“When you have a lot of children who are infected, the disease tends to spread very fast. It is advisable to take action in trying to contain the situation immediately when you have only one or two pupils in order to make sure that numbers are kept to a bare minimum,” he explained.
“It is better to be overly cautious in this sense to ensure that an epidemic does not occur.

Hopefully by being more conscious of the disease, we will be able to neutralise the three-year cycle,” he added.