Friday, November 30, 2007


Yee: Site earmarked for MSC Cyber Centre

A land area within the State Capital has been earmarked for setting up of the First MSC Cyber Centre in Sabah in line with the Government’s initiative to develop the Sabah Development Corridor. Resource Development and Information Technology Minister Datuk Dr Yee Moh Chai said that this showed that the State Government recognises the potentials of information communication and technology (ICT) in political and socioeconomic transformation. As Sabah strides to the next phase of ICT development, he urged the private sector to render their fullest support in ensuring the success of such initiatives, which eventually will benefit the industry as a whole. At the same time, Yee reckoned that institutions of higher learning and research organisations should play their role accordingly as well. “I am serious about the tripartite university-industry-Government tie-up and I am prepared to study any proposal to that effect,” he said when launching the first Regional Conference on Computational Science and Technologies at Shangri-La’s Tanjung Aru Resort here yesterday. Yee said beginning next year, his ministry will embark further ICT development in the State, which will enhance the public sector operations, with efforts in bridging the digital divide. “We will focus more on development of ICT as a strategic industry contributing to the creation of a k-economy, while at the same time, enhancing the efforts to transform public sector operations and bridge the digital gap,” he said. Yee said that his ministry will work closely with the relevant Federal agencies in bringing about this development. Towards this end, he said the State Government had established the Sabah Information Technology Council in 1996 to spearhead ICT development, and the vision is to acknowledge society encompassing the people, business, NGOs and the Government, interacting with each other. “The key here is the ability to interact among all levels of society. ICT is the key enabling and strategic tool to turn this vision into reality,” he said Dr Yee said there are two major dominions, namely the e-government to enhancing service delivery, where services are brought to the people and not the other way round, and secondly, the k-society is bridging the digital divide, enabling ubiquitous and equal access by all. “No one should be left behind in the digital revolution lest the gap of digital poverty widens,” he added. He said the main factors of production in the knowledge are namely the people, content and infrastructure. They are the building blocks of k-society. “Among the three, the most important of all is the people. People innovate and create and not machines which are mere tools that help the people,” he added. Yee said they are needed to equip the people with necessary knowledge and skills to use and access to such services. Hence, he said e-Desa centres, places where the people can have access to the net, will continue to be built in un-served or under served areas. He said by the end of the year four more e-Desa centres will be in place, bringing the total to ten. An additional 16 will be built over the next few years, catering specifically to the rural folks. “At the same time, training of the masses in increasing IC literacy will continue to be featured. This is because demand has far outstripped supply,” he added. He said thus far, 21,000 people from all walks of life, including teachers, orphans, women, youth and elderly have benefited from the programme initiated since 2005. “All these efforts are to ensure that digital poverty will not become an issue in the future,” he added. According to Yee, tourism, agriculture, manufacturing and learning are strategic sectors identified for intensive ICT development, and as a result, the MSC Cyber Centre will serve as a catalyst for value creation and economic generation. He said his ministry will also capitalise on the national broadband roll-out plan, which targets to have a nationwide broadband penetration rate of 5 percent by 2010. Broadband is a critical part accessibility. Only with accessibility can people utilise the systems and deliver services to the people. On the conference, Yee said it served as a platform for researchers, practitioners and graduate research students to share and publicise their findings, with the hope that they will benefit the industries. About 85 participants from Japan, India, Poland, Czech Republic and Malaysia participated in the conference.


Sawit Kinabalu to further improve its performance

Sawit Kinabalu State Government Group of companies with the support from the State Government, will continue to implement appropriate strategies to further improve its performance to enhance its productivity, quality and efficiency to boost its profitability.
On a longer term, the company will continue to strive for sustained profitability and growth through implementing its replanting programme and continue looking for new land either through joint venture or acquisition.
Its Group Managing Director, Salim Mohammad, disclosed this after presenting a mock cheque of RM2O million being loan payment to the State Government, to Finance Ministry permanent secretary Datuk Hj Yussof Datuk Hj Mohd Kassim.
Similarly, he said Sawit Kinabalu would continue its diversification activities in the following business areas, namely development and, marketing of Sandakan Palm Oil Industrial Cluster (POIC), further improving the refinery complex and production of animal feed as a value add to its cattle business.
With these strategies, Sawit Kinabalu will be able to achieve its corporate objectives and will be in the position to further contribute to the State’s coffers.
Salim further emphasized that the strength of Sawit Group lies in its highly dedicated and committed people within the company.
He also said that the continuous support from the leadership of Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman, who is the chairman of the company and various stakeholders, has enabled the company to achieve its expansion and profitability. The total loan repayment to date by the Group is RM360 million since its corporatisation in 1996, leaving an outstanding balance of RM6O million. Salim said with the favourable palm oil price, Sawit Kinabalu achieved a profit before tax of RM212 million for the period of 10 months and is expected to earn an estimated profit of RM250 million for the year.
With this good profit, Sawit Kinabalu is able to pay the loan payment of RM2O million. Musa, who witnessed the check presentation, thanked Sawit Kinabalu for the RM2O million loan repayment and congratulated the management and staff for recording a handsome profit for the fiscal year 2007.
He said that this proved that any Government-linked companies (GLCs) like Sawit Kinabalu can be successful if properly managed. He is hopeful and confident that Sawit Kinabalu is well positioned to become one of the premier GLCs of Sabah befitting its status as a premier investment arm of the State. In line with the development agenda of the State’s Halatuju and forthcoming launching of Sabah Development Corridor, the Chief Minister said that the Government had identified the oil palm industry as one of the key economic sectors contributing to the prosperity of the State. For instance, the recent implementation of the POICs in Sandakan and Lahad Datu is a clear testimony of the Government’s seriousness in the development of the State’s oil palm industry, which will ultimately benefit the rakyat and the State as a whole. Already seen as Malaysia’s largest palm oil producer, Sabah will soon become the nation’s hub for oil palm related activities.


Fingerstyle guitarists give First Beach Cafe patrons special treat

Patrons at Tanjung Aru’s First Beach Cafe were given a special treat on Wednesday night as they got up close and personal with fingerstyle guitarists Scotsman John Goldie and local star Roger Wang.
In a one-off performance that lasted a couple of hours, the crowd were brought on a joyride of catchy and mostly recognisable tunes that got their feet tapping and heads bobbing.
Goldie was making a brief stop-over before making his way to the Penang Jazz Festival this weekend and later to the Malaysian Guitar Festival in December, on an Asian tour with acoustic guitar amplification specialists AER.
A self-professed freestyler, the affable Scotsman described his sound as “feelings”, which have a “hopefully musical” interpretation to the crowd.
“I never wanted to play just one style. At the time I switched to acoustic I was getting fed up with the electric and for a long time I was playing predominantly rock music,” he said.
“I guess I do have a bit of a jazzy sound but that’s only because I have been playing a lot of jazz when I was in the United States.
I find it more enjoyable to play a variety of music like pop, some old hits ... I hope to appeal to a large group of people.”
Wang, who knew Goldie when he was playing on the European guitar circuit, stressed the need for more events such as Wednesday night’s performance to spur local talents to come out in the open.
“There is no doubt there is talent in the market. We need venues that are open to the idea of giving them a chance and to be fair to them instead of taking advantage of them so eventually we can get more locals to get seriously into music.
“As the city grows, there will definitely be more people who will have specific tastes, so there is room for more venues to specialise. It will be difficult to fit in an acoustic set and suddenly have 70’s rock ... the crowd wouldn’t know what to expect,” he said.
Wang meanwhile is keeping his schedule to a minimum for the Christmas holiday season to make time for his wife and eight-month-old daughter.
“Having a family makes leaving home harder. My wife can’t follow me on tour anymore. Then there’s added pressure to bring home the bacon... but it’s a good feeling, it makes me feel complete,” he said.
The acclaimed guitarist however will participate in the Malaysian Guitar Festival and perform at the Christmas Carnival, while at the same time planning a collaboration with Mr Gambus, Farid Ali to cut a tribute album of songs by the late Tan Sri P Ramlee.


Act against oil palm planters, says Bung Moktar
Member of Parliament Datuk Bung Moktar Radin wants the State Government to take stern action against oil palm planters for encroaching into riparian reserves along the Kinabatangan River. “The State Government must take a firm stand and penalize planters who encroached into the reserves for commercial oil palm cultivation,” he said. Bung Moktar urged the State Government to set up a special board to act against those who encroached into riverbanks throughout the State, particularly along the Kinabatangan River.
“Do not be lenient with them. They will continue to violate the rules as long as no stern actions are taken against them,” he said. Bung Moktar said the State Government through the Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry should give this issue priority because the planters’ irresponsible actions are threatening the wildlife.“Nearly 60 percent of the riparian reserves along Kinabatangan River have been encroached for commercial cultivation of oil palm and the companies involved must immediately cease their operations to enable the restoration of the river’s eco-system.”


Assistance: Ensure no one is left out
Govt concerned over quality of delivery system, dept told

LAHAD DATU: Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Yahya Hussin has reminded the Sabah Social Services Department to carry out their duties in a clean, trustworthy and efficient manner, and ensure that the Government’s assistance reaches the targeted group. The Government is very concerned about the quality of the delivery system and does not want anyone, especially those in the interior, to be left out in terms of welfare assistance. “We always ensure that the objective community, especially for the rural folks, is met,” said Yahya, who is also Community Development and Consumer affairs Minister. “The Government is always sensitive towards the people’s needs,” he added in a speech read by Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister, Datuk Nasrun Datu Mansur, during the state-level National Senior Citizens Day 2007 celebration here, yesterday. The Government’s duty is to ensure that the people’s welfare is safe guarded and the Department should play an effective role to make sure the objective is realised. Statistics shows that there are some 19,346 senior citizens statewide who are eligible for the General Assistance Scheme and Senior Citizens Assistance Scheme, for which RM21 million has been allocated towards the two schemes. “To ensure their welfare is protected, the Government has introduced a lot of new programmes for them. I assure the citizens that apart from these existing schemes, we will come up with more programmes that would be beneficial to them,” he said. Yahya also urged the senior citizens with special skills and expertise to continue to be active, especially in welfare and community-based activities. “Those active senior citizens, especially with vast experience and knowledge, should continue to contribute towards the development of the State. You may share your expertise by joining non-governmental organisations or participate in whatever programmes that would benefit yourself and others too. “We want to further encourage senior citizens to contribute towards nation building and encourage the younger generation to participate in welfare services,” he said.
Meanwhile over 1,000 people attended the event to witness the presentation of special awards to outstanding recipients. Senior Citizens Award for the Male Category was awarded to Datu Mansur Datu Jalilul Hassan, 84, Kampung Tabanak, while his village-mate Aliah Mahadin, 73, was awarded a similar recognition in the Female Category. Datu Mansur is a former teacher and Nasrun’s father. Another special award, dubbed the Senior Citizens Couple Award, was presented to Sawal Kerosdikeromo, 79, and wife Malandong Mohd Said, 73.
The award was presented based on their contribution and excellent performance, especially in raising their children. Also present were the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Michael Emban; Sabah Social Services Department Director Datuk Mastor Samin, who is also the event’s organising chairman, and the District Officer, Amat MD Yusof.


Accidents at work place drop 47.8 per cent since 1994
The number of accidents at the workplace dropped 47.8 percent since the Occupational Safety and Health Act was enforced in 1994. Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) director-general Datuk Ir Johari Basri said the Social Security Organisation (Socso) received reports of 117,231 cases in 1995 compared to 61,182 cases in 2005. “This means that industrial accidents had dropped 47.8 percent in the 10 years,” he said when opening an Occupation Safety and Health seminar for the Sabah public sector here yesterday. The text of his speech was read out by his deputy Zabidi Md Adib. Johari said although Malaysia could be proud of the achievement, it still lagged behind developed countries like Sweden and Britain which registered three and four accidents for every 1,000 workers compared to Malaysia with 5.6 cases for every 1,000 workers.
“However, the statistics are only based on cases reported to Socso by the private sector as the public sector is not keen to report such cases as required under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994.” Johari said most of the cases reported to DOSH by the public sector comprised road acidents involving workers and exposure to radiation and chemicals. He added that overall, awareness on the importance of occupational safety and health at the workplace was still low in Malaysia. -Bernama