Monday, December 31, 2007


Three rescued, but fisherman reported to have died in a separate boat capsize incident
LABUAN: Two vessels, a Thai-registered cargo ship and a yet-to-be identified Brunei-based fishing boat, sank some 60 nautical miles off Labuan in the Semarang area near Brunei waters. At least 12 persons were reported missing in the incidents, and they included eleven members ofthe 13-member crew of the timber-laden cargo ship MY Emerald and a 27-year-old fisherman who was reported by his father to have died and drifted away. Strong winds and rough seas have prevailed in the area for the last several days. Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) Sabah and FT Labuan enforcement chief First Admiral (Maritime) Ahmad Puzi AB Kahar told a press conference in Kota Kinabalu yesterday that an integrated search and rescue (SAR) operation has been launched in Sabah and neighbouring Brunei Darussalam to look for the eleven seamen believed to have been missing at sea since Dec 26. Ahmad Puzi said the Thailand-registered ship, laden with sawn timber, was reported missing on Dec 26 at around 8.3Opm. “As at 1pm today (yesterday), we managed to rescue two of the crew members in the operation which involves the agency, Navy, Air Force, the Marine Police and our counterparts in Brunei,” he said. One of the survivors was said to be the chief engineer of the cargo ship. “We learned from the survivors that the ship had experienced technical failure and we believe it capsized some 11 or 12 hours after leaving Kota Kinabalu for Thailand. “Based on the time frame and an average speed of between 10 to 15 knots which is common for merchant ships, we estimate the ship was around 300 miles out of Kota Kinabalu, which means it could be in Brunei waters,” he said. Ahmad Puzi said the Malaysian side of the operation will cover an area of around 50 square nautical miles by sea and a larger area coverage by air. “We have found a good indication of where the ship may have capsized as we found a lot of floating wood in one area. We will continue with our operation until we find it is suitable to stop,” he said. Ahmad Puzi disclosed that while searching for the 11 missing men, they managed to save an Indonesian fisherman based in Brunei, whose boat had also capsized in the SAR area. “We have already brought him for medical treatment in Labuan and now in the midst of going through procedures to send him back to Brunei I must stress that the weather conditions now are quite violent,” he said. “According to the forecast until Jan 5, waves will go up between four to five metres with winds of between 50-60 nautical miles per hour. This is very dangerous for fishing boats, small vessels and even larger ships like merchant ships. “If anyone is going to travel out to sea, we would advise them to take extra precautions or even better if they can postpone their trip because we would like to avoid any more untoward incidents,” he said. The ill-fated 70.41-meter long cargo ship departed Kota Kinabalu for Bangkok on Christmas Day. KM Adil, a MMEA patrol craft that set sail from here to join the rescue effort for the cargo vessel is crew members, stumbled on and rescued the semi-conscious fisherman at 12.50 pm on Saturday, near the Champion Oil Rig in the Semarang area. The fisherman, who is of Indonesian origin, was brought ashore to Labuan at 2.45 pm yesterday. Labuan-based MMEA Lieutenant Norihan Bin Ngah, who commanded the search and rescue operations aboard KM Adil, told The Borneo Post yesterday that they found the fisherman in a semiconscious state as he stayed afloat with the insulated cover of a fish storage ice- container. After feeding him with some water, he managed to talk a little, he said. “The man told us that his 27-year-old son that was clinging on to the floating cover with him had died and drifted away,” he said. “The man also managed to tell us that there were five others in the fishing boat that had sunk,” Norihan said, adding that knowing the direction of the sea current, there is a good chance of finding the body of the son in a day or two when it floats to the surface. According to Norihan, an aircraft from the Royal Malaysian Air Force headquarters here is continuing with the air surveillance. MV Emerald, owned by Intertrans Co Ltd that had a gross tonnage of 961.27 MT, was transporting 1200 cubic meters of sawn timber that was loaded at Sandakan and Tawau earlier this month.



Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has expressed the Government’s hope that former Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Chong Kah Kiat will settle the Mazu statue issue amicably without going to court. Speaking at a press conference after a meeting with Government officers at the Magellan Sutera here yesterday, Najib said the Government is hoping to bring the Mazu statue issue back to the negotiation table instead of going through the court. “I cannot make an open statement on the matter now because it could be considered subjudice but I believe it is in consideration of the State Government,” he said. “If possible, we want to discuss and not go through the court,” he added when asked to comment on the suit filed by Chong against the State Government on the suspension of the multi-million ringgit Mazu statue project in Kudat. Meanwhile, speaking at the meeting earlier, Na jib said members of the civil service must constantly strive to improve themselves to ensure they are not left behind in the wake of globalisation. He said the greatly increased pace of change in this day and age makes it necessary for each and every member of the civil service to develop their skills as the country’s competitiveness hinges on their ability to keep up. “In the fast-changing world,we need to have an attitude of never remaining static. You either get better or worse and you have a choice,” he said. “If you remain static, and only think of maintaining the status quo, then you will become worse off and regress. We must strive to find ways and means to get better. “We need to look at ourselves as individuals and look at the organisation and figure out how our role in our official capacity and individual capacity can be developed through a process of continuous improvement,” he said. Najib,who is also Minister of Defence, stressed that the efficiency of the civil service has a direct bearing on the country’s global competitiveness. “This is why our Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi)is constantly pushing the delivery system because it is closely related to our competitive edge. “Our hope is to make Malaysia better and to do that we need to go for continuous improvement at both organisation and individual levels,” he said. Najib noted that this mind set, coupled with a strong commitment, are necessary to ensure the Government achieves it target of zero hardcore poor in Sabah and halving the amount of relative poverty in the country by 2010. “The Government’s target is to bring down the rate of hardcore and relative poverty in Sabah drastically and to do this we need commitment of Government officers because they will have to invest their heart and soul into this mission,” he said. On the Sabah Development Corridor, Najib noted that the Prime Minister is expected to make an announcement on the project in the near future, with its launch expected to be pushed back next month.