Friday, 28 June 2013

Robbers make ‘withdrawal’ at bank

Daring robbers made off with an automated teller machine from a bank in Taman Desa Cemerlang here by dragging the machine out with a four-wheel drive.

The incident occurred between midnight and 1am yesterday and it is believed that the robbers had been planning the heist for days.

“Some staff members noticed that a car was parked outside the bank for a few days prior to the incident.

“It is likely that the robbers had been staking out the bank for several days to determine the best time to steal the machine,” said a source.

A bank staff, who declined to be named, said the robbers had allegedly driven the 4WD vehicle right to the bank entrance and dragged the machine by fastening it with a chain tied to the vehicle.

“We have two ATMs and three other machines for cheque deposits and cash deposits,” he said, adding that the thieves had aimed the ATM believed to contain more money.

The bank, however, has yet to determine how much money was in the ATM when it was carted away.

Checks by The Star showed that there were drag marks outside the bank and some of the tiles outside the building were cracked.

Policemen were also seen questioning the staff but the bank remained opened.

Seri Alam OCPD Supt Roslan Zainuddin confirmed the case and said that police had yet to make any arrests.

“The case has been classified under Section 457 of the Penal Code for burglary,” he said.

It is believed that police are also investigating if the incident is linked to a robbery attempt at a bank in Taman Daya here at around 4am on Wednesday.

During the incident, a group of thieves had tried to drag out an ATM using a vehicle but abandoned their plans when the alarm went off.

Some of the pictures of the attempted theft had also been uploaded on Facebook.

Those with information on any of the cases are urged to contact the Johor police hotline at 07-2212 999 or visit the nearest police station.

Posted on 15:53 | Categories:

Port Klang: Strict rules during #haze

Small vessels and those not fitted with specific navigational equipment will not be allowed to sail into Port Klang if visibility falls below one nautical mile.

Port Klang Authority general manager Capt David Padman said such a restriction was necessary to ensure the safety of navigation at the port.

Visibility here fluctuated between zero and 0.5 nautical miles on Tuesday when the Air Pollutant Index reached a high of 495.

“Pilots and masters (the chief executive officers aboard merchant ships) are requested to liaise closely with the vessel traffic management system (VTMS) control centre and observe all standing instructions, advisories, and restrictions,” Capt Padman said in a statement here yesterday.

“Despite the haze, Port Klang remains open for operations as navigational issues are well under control,” he said.

“Ship movements are being well managed and monitored through the VTMS and pilotage services, minimising the risk of any untoward incident while, at the same time, keeping the port operational.

“Port Klang's pilots have been trained to navigate in conditions of restricted visibility besides also taking advantage of short periods of improved visibility to safely navigate ships in and out of the port,” he said.

Capt Padman added that a two-hour work rotation was introduced to limit port workers' exposure to the haze, as well as providing them with N95 face masks and a continuous supply of drinking water.

“To enhance safety, all cargo and passenger vehicles are required to switch on their lights, in addition to adhering to speed restrictions imposed on cargo vehicles,” he said.

Posted on 11:04 | Categories:

Thursday, 27 June 2013

#Haze: Boats without specific navigational equipment not allowed into Port Klang when visibility drops

Small vessels, and vessels not fitted with specific navigational equipment, will not be allowed to sail in Port Klang when visibility falls below one nautical mile.

Port Klang Authority general manager Capt David Padman said the restrictions on vessel movements were necessary to ensure the safety of navigation in the port.

"Pilots and Masters were requested to liase closely with the Vessel Traffic Management System (VTMS) Control Centre and observe all standing instructions, advisories, and restrictions issued," he said in a statement on Thursday.

Capt Padman said despite the haze, Port Klang remained open for operations as navigational issues are well under control.

"Ship movements are being well managed and monitored through the VTMS and pilotage services, minimising the risk of any untoward incidents while at the same time keeping the port operational.

"Port Klang's pilots have been trained to navigate in conditions of restricted visibility besides also taking advantage of short periods of improved visibility to safely navigate ships in and out of the port," he said.

Visibility in Port Klang fluctuated between zero and 0.5 nautical mile on Tuesday, when the air pollutant index reached a high of 495, said Capt Padman.

On the safety of port personnel and port users, he said a two-hour work rotation was introduced to limit the workmen's exposure to the haze, as well as providing them with N95 face masks and continuous supply of drinking water.

To enhance safety, all cargo and passenger vehicles were required to switch on their lights, in addition to complying to speed restrictions imposed on cargo vehicles, he said.

Posted on 14:18 | Categories:

#Haze : API readings remain moderate in Johor today

The air pollutant index (API) readings remain at moderate levels throughout the state on Thursday morning.

Readings from the Department of Environment website as of 7am indicate that the highest reading for the state is for Muar at 78.

This is followed by Kota Tinggi with an API of 67, Pasir Gudang at 65 and Larkin Lama at 62.

API levels should continue improving especially with the Meteorological Department website predicting isolated showers especially along the coastal areas in the state.

Posted on 11:02 | Categories:

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

#Haze: Schools close in Manjung district as air quality turns hazardous

Schools in the Manjung district in Perak have closed due to the worsening air quality.

A SMJK Nan Hwa teacher, who declined to named, said schools in the district have been instructed by the district Education Department to close until further notice. .

"All schools will also be closed tomorrow (Wednesday)," she said.

The Air Pollutant Index (API) reading at 9am at Seri Manjung was 322, well into the hazardous zone.

Air quality in Perak started deteriorating in Perak as the haze drifted north.

Perak Education, Science, Environment and Green Technology Committee chairman Dr Muhammad Amin Zakaria said Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir was considering closing public premises.

"Normally, if the API exceeds 300, we will have to close public premises.

"The Mentri Besar has been consulted and is considering this," he told The Star when contacted.

As of 9am, the API reading at Jalan Tasek and Jalan Pegoh in Ipoh were at 144 and 188 respectively

The API at Tanjung Malim is 175 while Kampung Air Puteh, Taiping is 149.

In a statement earlier, Dr Zambry has advised the people to take precaution and to take care of their health as well as their families'.

"The continuity of the haze will have adverse effects on children, senior citizens and those with asthma, bronchitis and chronic lung diseases.

"The people are also advised to seek immediate treatment and advice from the nearest clinic should these symptoms occur and those with high risk of getting sick are to limit their outdoor activities," he said.

"Motorcyclists and those working outdoors should always use face masks," he added.

Posted on 16:06 | Categories:

Indonesian president apologises over #haze

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (pic) has apologised to Singapore and Malaysia after they were cloaked in thick haze from raging forest fires on Sumatra island.

"As the president of Indonesia, I apologise for what has happened and ask for the understanding of the people of Malaysia and Singapore," he said late Monday.

"We accept it is our responsibility to tackle the problem."

Susilo's comments were a bid to ease tensions after the haze triggered a war of words between Jakarta and its neighbours, with an Indonesian minister at one point accusing Singapore of acting "like a child".

The fires burning in hundreds of hectares of peatland have triggered Singapore's worst environmental crisis for a decade, with acrid smoke shrouding residential buildings and downtown skyscrapers.

While the haze has eased in the city-state in recent days, it has moved further north to Malaysia.

On Monday much of the country continued to wheeze under a shroud of smoke with its southern half hit particularly hard.

In the capital Kuala Lumpur, the pollution index neared the "very unhealthy" 200 level for the first time during the current outbreak.

Schools in Kuala Lumpur and several states were ordered to close and authorities advised parents to keep children indoors or make them wear face masks outside.

Indonesia has sought to extinguish the fires by using helicopters and planes for water-bombing and cloud-seeding, which chemically induces rain, but officials say the efforts have so far had little success.

Thick haze continued to shroud Riau province, where the blazes are centred, on Monday, leading to two flights being turned back from the airport in the provincial capital Pekanbaru, state news agency Antara reported.

Smog from Sumatra is a recurring problem during the June-September dry season, when plantations and smallholders set fires to prepare land for cultivation despite a legal ban.

Posted on 13:51 | Categories:

#Haze: Rain helps to clear skies in south Johor

Alhamdulillah a short downpour has helped to clear the skies in the southern part of the state with three areas previously badly hit by the haze recording moderate air quality levels Tuesday morning.

According to the Department of Environment website, the air quality in Kota Tinggi, Larkin Lama and Pasir Gudang has improved to moderate levels as of 7am Tuesday.

Only Muar remains at an unhealthy level of 165.

The clear skies were also welcomed by parents who have started sending their children to kindergartens and schools.

All the schools were ordered closed since Friday.

Lorry driver V. Anbalagan, 45, said that he hoped for more rain daily to help reduce the haze around his area in Masai.

“My children have been having breathing difficulties since the haze got worse last week,” he said.

Housewife Rokiah Ismail, 34, also hoped for more rain to help cool down her house as it was very difficult to sleep at night due to the heat.

“Nowadays it is so hot and I hope for regular showers to help cool things down,” she said.

Posted on 10:24 | Categories:

Monday, 24 June 2013

#Haze: Three sporting events may be postponed

Three upcoming international-level sports events here may be postponed if there are no positive developments on the haze, said the Youth and Sports Ministry.

In a statement Monday, the ministry said it had yet to decide on postponing the Jelajah Malaysia cycling championship, the Hockey World League 3 and Sukan Malaysia (Sukma) as it was still monitoring the current haze condition.

"The National Sports Institute will continue to monitor the situation until tomorrow (Tuesday), and if the situation does not improve, the institute would advise the ministry on the next course of action.

"If there are no positive changes, the ministry will suggest that the cycling championship, the hockey league and also Sukma - which involves outdoor sports like beach football, rugby, softball and cricket - be postponed," the statement said.

The ministry added that indoor or closed-court sports like basketball, indoor volleyball and gymnastics would be allowed to go on.

The five-day cycling championship is slated to begin Tuesday, the hockey league between June 29 and July 7, and Sukma between June 28 and July 7.

Athletes would be more severely affected by the haze as they undergo intensive exercises, thus breathing at a faster and deeper rate, added the ministry.

"An athlete's performance will be affected due to pollution and also inflammation of the respiratory system. Long term effects should also be considered," it said.

Posted on 15:33 | Categories:

#Haze: Some respite in Johor as air clears

The air pollutant index (API) for Johor has dropped dramatically in all parts of the state, especially in Muar which crossed 750 on Sunday.

The latest figures released by the Department of Environment (DOE) showed that Muar recorded an API of 148 as at 7am Monday.

The other readings for the state include Larkin Lama at 111, Pasir Gudang, 83, and Kota Tinggi, 78.

On Sunday, a state of emergency was declared for Muar and Ledang after API readings spiked in those areas.

The DOE classifies any API reading above 301 as hazardous, 201 to 300 as very unhealthy, 101 to 200 as unhealthy, 51 to 100 as moderate and 0 to 51 as good.

Posted on 10:02 | Categories:

Sunday, 23 June 2013

#Haze: Do we just suffer or can something be done? (OPINION)

It's that time of the year, between June and September, for us to be annually smothered by trans-boundary pollutants that we have euphemistically call the haze that thick and acrid smog from forest fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan.

The blight of haze is worst now in Singapore, parts of adjoining Johor and the Straits of Malacca and these pollutants are brought here by south-westerly winds.

Although for now the haze is confined to parts of Johor and Malacca, it has the potential to spread to other parts of the country as had happened in previous years.

There is nothing to be done except taking mitigating efforts and begging Indonesia to stop the fires, offer assistance in cash or fire fighters and fire fighting equipment's as we did once in 2006 and suffer the smog as we go about our restricted daily lives.

In Indonesia too, the smog affects everyone within the fire zones but people have become used to it going about their daily routines with just a face marks and uncomplaining.

The dry weather and the need to clear the land in Indonesia mostly by small swidden farmers and by the cheapest way possible firing the bushes all helps to get the fire going but the problem is the south westerly winds that bring the smog over to neighbouring countries.

Big plantation companies are also said to get into the act as in the great haze of 1997 when the ASEAN region was blanketed in smog incurring a total economic loss of over US$9bil.

A year after the great haze, we had the Nipah virus outbreak that decimated our pig industry as well as leaping from beast to man, killing 40% of 257 people who caught it.

US researchers later attributed the emergence of the Nipah virus to giant bats that carry the virus naturally fleeing the Sumatra fires of 1997 and coming over here to nest near pig farms, transmitting the virus to pigs and later to farm workers.

ASEAN countries have been choking on the haze almost annually since the last great haze some 16 years ago.

Is the problem beyond the capacity of Jakarta to resolve?

Ordinary people, visitors and investors are asking this very question. Why can't they put an end to it once and for all.

Every time we, meaning Malaysia, Singapore and other sufferers, point an accusing finger at Indonesia, the answer comes back; it's your big plantation companies that are doing it.

This time in Indonesia, a senior Environment Minister official, was quick to blame foreign-owned plantation companies of firing the forest to clear vegetation causing the smog.

The burning of forests to plant oil palm trees either by small-holders or big companies - is a recurrent problem in Indonesia, especially during the annual dry season from June to September.

Yet, Indonesia is the only ASEAN member not to have ratified a 2002 ASEAN pact on preventing haze pollution.

In the meantime, Indonesia has vastly expanded its palm oil plantations, overtaking Malaysia as the world's biggest supplier of palm oil.

But at what price?

An environmental disaster is in the making each time Indonesia fires its forest or allows others to fire the forest.

The toll of the fires and land clearing is enormous on Indonesia's forest and its wildlife population.

Not to speak of good neighbourly relations that often hits a sore note each time the haze comes over to our side of the Straits of Malacca.

The main culprits is a lack of political will on the part of Indonesia to combat forest fires simple because burning is fast, cheap, efficient and requires little labour.

It's burning that puts Indonesia ahead so to speak but places its neighbours at a great disadvantage. We have to suffer from the unwanted affluent of the burning and it is brought to us by winds over which we have no control.

Indonesia owes its neighbours a duty not to cause harm or injuries as a good neighbour and as a matter of simple common law.

And if there is sufficient evidence against foreign owned plantation companies for firing the forest as is claimed by Indonesia, by all means act against them, prosecute the offenders.

Don't just pass the buck back to us.

Assuredly, both Singaporeans and Malaysians, who are outraged by the blatant conduct of offenders, would cheer such stern action if its forthcoming.

It will show everyone that Indonesia means business for once and will likely see no repeat of the offence in future

But sadly the truth is, such rogue companies, if any, thrive in permissive regimes where commercial interest overrides health and environmental concerns.

The best we can do for now is suffer the haze and for our leaders to nudge big Indonesia to ratify the 2002 trans-boundary haze pollution agreement that ASEAN has adopted.

This will go some distance to curb trans-boundary pollutions.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

#Haze: Frustrated Malaysians take to Twitter to express their thoughts

Frustrated Malaysians took to Twitter to express their thoughts on the haze, which has hit high levels in some areas and forced a few events to be postponed.

Twitter user @fahmyvevo shared a picture of him covering his face with an orange cloth, with the message “wearing this even inside my office. #myhaze”.

Another user @akmalredzwan also posted a picture of him in a white face mask, saying he had to start wearing it everyday now.

Xola Xavier (@nanibiol), who is asthmatic, tweeted “I have to lock myself in my room. Even the living room is not safe for me.”

Other users also offered advice on taking care of oneself during the haze period.

“#myhaze drink more water, wear sunglasses and use saline eye drops to overcome eye irritation, and stay indoors as much as possible,” tweeted @Amu_Ma, while @haniisafra urged those affected to “get your blanket and stay in”.

Although many had their weekend plans disrupted, some expressed confidence that they could still have a good time.

Part-time writer Dayang Noor (@dayangnoor) said she would be spending time indoors playing Candy Crush and having a movie marathon.

Twitterers @dinodelan and @mfazlee were also up for movie sessions, jokingly tweeting that a cinema theatre was the “safest place to be until the haze is over”.

Posted on 17:00 | Categories:

#Haze : #MCA to distribute 56,000 facemask to primary schools in Johor, Malacca and Negri Sembilan

The Crisis Relief Squad of MCA (CRSM) will be distributing 56,000 facemasks to primary school students in three States due to the worsening haze condition.

CRSM head Datuk Dr Lee Hong Tee said 36,000 masks would be given to students in Johor as the state is badly hit by the haze.

Another 10,000 masks each will be given to primary schools in Malacca and Negri Sembilan.

"We will start doing this today," he said at a press conference on Friday.

He also urged the public to minimise outdoor activities and wear facemasks if they need to go out.

He added they would send a protest note to the Indonesian embassy next week to register their unhappiness over the republic's failure to tackle this annual problem.

Friday, 21 June 2013

#Haze: Health Ministry advices public to stay indoors ahead of Saturday’s Black 505 rally

The Health Ministry has repeated its advice to the public to stay indoors to avoid health problems due to haze, as protesters get ready to take part in the Black 505 rally in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.

Its director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said Friday the ministry is not in a position to stop anyone from going outside, but reminded the public that they could get ill due to the worsening haze situation in the country.

"With the (air pollution) index increasing, our general statement is to stay at home. Why unnecessarily go outside and expose yourself to the high index, especially those who already have respiratory problems?" Dr Noor Hisham said after launching the Immunise4Life campaign here.

Pakatan Rakyat, which is organising the rally in protest against the results of the 13th General Election, remained adamant that the event goes on at Padang Merbok despite concerns over potentially worsening haze.

PKR strategic director Rafizi Ramli said late Thursday that they do not see any problem with holding the outdoor rally, though he added that they have five medical teams on standby, just in case.

Posted on 20:00 | Categories:

#Haze: Air quality turns hazardous in Kota Tinggi

The air quality in Kota Tinggi in Johor worsened with the Air Pollutant Index (API) hitting 313 (hazardous level) Friday morning.

However, the situation in other districts have improved slightly, according to the Department of Environment (DoE) website.

One of the worst-hit districts, Pasir Gudang, showed better API reading at 310 compared to 313 on Thursday night.

Muar's API reading is at 183 (Unhealthy) from the previous 337 (Hazardous) while Larkin Lama's air quality improved to the Unhealthy category with 190 from 219 (Very Unhealthy) at 11pm on Thursday.

Buildings in the city centre are only semi-visible from about 1km due to the thick smog.

People are seen wearing masks outdoors to protect themselves from inhaling too much of polluted air.

Meanwhile, Bernama reported Friday that the haze in Singapore worsened Friday with the Pollutant Standard Index (PSI) at the hazardous level of 400 as at 11 am Friday, according to the National Environment Agency (NEA).

A PSI of between zero and 50 is categorised as good; 51 to 100, moderate; 101 to 200, unhealthy; 201 to 300, very unhealthy; and more than 301, hazardous.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, speaking at a news conference Thursday, warned Singaporeans that the haze was expected to persist for several weeks.

"We cannot tell how the haze problem will develop. It can easily last for several weeks and quite possibly longer until the dry season ends in Sumatra (Indonesia). We will need to adapt our response to suit the changing situation, and protect ourselves in practical and sustainable ways," he said.

Singapore has set up a Haze Inter-Ministerial Committee (HIMC) to oversee the overall national effort.

The smoke haze from the fires in Sumatra, to clear land for plantations, has been brought over by prevailing winds blowing from the southwest or west, and has affected Singapore as well several states in peninsular Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Singapore representatives met with Indonesian officials to discuss the severe haze situation at an urgent meeting in Jakarta Thursday.

The meeting was arranged by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia and involved senior Indonesian officials, according to a statement released by the NEA. Singapore stressed that haze remained a transboundary problem that affected not only Indonesia but other countries in the region as well. Indonesia assured Singapore that it would give the issue greater attention.

Indonesia briefed Singapore of plans to increase its capacity to deal with the fires and to get its agencies to report twice a day to a national task force.

Indonesia also intends to step up its law enforcement on the ground by sending investigators to Bengkalis to clamp down on errant plantation companies.

As there had been a report from the Indonesian Forestry Ministry that Singapore companies may be involved in illegal burning activities, Singapore requested that Indonesia share the names of such errant companies, though the primary responsibility to take legal and enforcement action against these companies rested with Indonesia.

It was emphasised that it would be better if Indonesia revealed all the companies involved in such errant acts regardless of whether they are registered in Indonesia, Malaysia or Singapore so that they can all be brought to task.

Singapore also offered Indonesia an assistance package, similar to previous haze episodes, that includes, among other things, an aircraft for cloud-seeding operations as well high-resolution satellite pictures and hotspot coordinates.

Singapore also requested Indonesia to ratify the Asean Transboundary Haze Agreement which Indonesia signed in 2002. Indonesia informed Singapore that it would be seeking parliament's approval on this.

Haze over Southeast Asia: Battling Transboundary Pollution Together

No. 113/2013 dated 20 June 2013
By J. Jackson Ewing

RSIS Commentaries are intended to provide timely and, where appropriate, policy relevant background and analysis of contemporary developments. The views of the authors are their own and do not represent the official position of the S.Rajaratnam School of International Studies, NTU. These commentaries may be reproduced electronically or in print with prior permission from RSIS. Due recognition must be given to the author or authors and RSIS. Please email: or call (+65) 6790 6982 to speak to the Editor RSIS Commentaries, Yang Razali Kassim


Transboundary haze originating from Indonesia is again polluting areas of Southeast Asia. Lamenting this situation and demonising Indonesia will do little to address the issue, however. More robust and pragmatic cooperation is needed, but Jakarta has to play its part.


THE HAZE is back and is unrelenting. A smoky fog began descending upon Singapore and parts of Malaysia on 13 June 2013 and by 17 June was readily observable by sight and smell across thousands of square kilometres. Singapore’s Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) has since consistently hovered above safe thresholds (levels above 100), reaching an all-time high of over 320 PSI on the evening 19 June. The haze is certain to affect the island for days to come.
If past experiences offer any guide, this may cost Singapore millions of dollars in health expenses, lowered productivity, absenteeism, and reduced consumer activity – in addition to the less quantifiable impacts that haze has on quality of life.

Why now?

The current haze event, like its major predecessors, stems from the combination of forest burning primarily in areas of central Sumatra with winds out of the west and southwest. Dry weather has created fire-prone conditions, and a growing number of haze-producing ‘hotspots’ have been detected in Sumatra as a result. These are only the proximate causes, however; the drivers of haze stem from a convergence of economic, political and environmental conditions linked to land clearance.

Economic interests have propelled deforestation in Sumatra and Kalimantan for decades. The two large islands lost over 40 per cent of their forest cover between 1990 and 2005 and increasing forest clearing rates have extended into this decade. Profitability comes in the form of initial timber extraction followed by newly cleared lands being brought under cultivation. The growing markets for products such as oil palm and rubber, along with Indonesia’s own ambitious food production goals, incentivise these processes.

Burning remains the preferred land-clearing practice by small-scale farmers and larger entities alike. It is quick and efficient, requires minimal labour, enriches soils and acts as a default strategy in lieu of affordable alternatives. It is difficult to determine the precise ratios of small- versus large-scale forest burning, as many small-scale cultivators change locations frequently and are not captured in official government statistics. Moreover, the lines between actors can blur as leases held by small-scale landowners are often contracted by corporate enterprises to grow specific products. That said, estate-level land clearance and cultivation during recent decades have clearly upped the scale of forest burning far beyond that wrought through traditional slash and burn agriculture, and fuelled transboundary haze as a result.

Politically, notwithstanding accusations of outright apathy, Indonesia recognises the importance of the haze problem from health, environmental, reputational and even economic perspectives. The populations and physical environments most heavily impacted by the haze are in Indonesia. Haze puts the country under severe regional criticism and destroys forest resources that could have profitability beyond land clearance.

There have been recent tangible steps by Indonesia to mitigate the haze problem, and ministers from affected ASEAN states praised the country in May last year for reducing haze hot spots. The Yudhoyono administration has prioritised forest preservation, and altered land management bureaucracies to this end.

Nonetheless, Indonesia’s efforts to control forest clearance have often proved ineffectual in the face of economic drivers. The financial benefits of land-clearing are frequently afforded greater priority by powerful actors in forested areas than are the national and regional impacts of forest burning – no matter what policies emerge from Jakarta. These powerful actors at times include local government officials who have been seen to collude with forest clearing companies for economic and political gain.

Meanwhile, deficient enforcement and prosecution capacities, pervasive corruption, expanding political decentralisation and the sprawling nature of the Indonesian archipelago magnify the challenges of reining in such activities.
Environmental trends represent the third key driver of haze with arguably the most unpredictable future. Past haze events have coincided strongly with the El Niño phenomenon, which contributes to dry conditions and decreases in rainfall. Current climate science lacks confident understanding of the relationship between El Niño and the warming trends.

Still, higher temperatures and more pronounced dry periods are both predicted for parts of Indonesia and Southeast Asia at large. If these conditions become more frequent in haze-producing regions, the occurrence and magnitude of haze events will likely increase.

Extending regional cooperation

Indonesia is culpable for the transboundary pollution being inflicted upon its neighbours. As such, there are international legal and normative foundations for adjudicating haze as an infringement of sovereignty and rights in impacted countries. The practical import of such measures is not readily apparent in Southeast Asia, however, and appears anathema to the consensus-oriented approach favoured by ASEAN.

ASEAN has opted for cooperation, and the haze issue has been placed squarely on the regional agenda since acute episodes in 1997-1998. Despite Indonesia’s failure to ratify the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution, regional cooperation since then has improved haze monitoring and had modest success in its prevention and mitigation. Such progress includes the provision of resources to address the root causes of haze in high risk areas of Riau and Sumatra, along with information sharing on zero-burning agricultural techniques, fire-fighting improvements, better peatland management and more robust air quality monitoring.

There are two primary pathways for Singapore and other haze-affected countries to extend these efforts. The first is to more proactively regulate the activities of companies operating in land-based commodities sectors in Indonesia.
Some major players in these sectors have origins in neighbouring countries and could thus be monitored more closely to discourage land burning practices. An Indonesian forestry official has called for such efforts in Singapore and Malaysia specifically while ministers from Singapore have called on Jakarta to name and shame these companies as Malaysia initiated an ASEAN meeting to tackle the worsening problem.

Forest preservation and ASEAN solidarity

Secondly, affected countries could play a larger role in incentivising Indonesia’s forest preservation activities. A mechanism focusing on Reducing Emissions for Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) holds particular promise to this end as it offers capital incentives for maintaining forests and the services which they provide.

REDD+ is currently supported almost wholly by countries from outside the region such as Norway and Australia that do so as part of efforts to address climate change. Countries in Southeast Asia with the capacity, such as Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei, could contribute to these efforts as part of their haze-reduction strategies. Like many transboundary environmental challenges, haze is an injustice to impacted countries. Still, instead of lamenting this situation and demonising Indonesia, Singapore and other affected neighbours should seek innovative and pragmatic avenues to work alongside Indonesia on the haze issue – as they have offered – thus clearing the air in the region in the process.

At the same time, Indonesia should do its part to fundamentally address a major regional environmental issue that originates within its borders to prevent further strains to ASEAN solidarity.

J. Jackson Ewing is a Research Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University, and coordinator of the Environmental Security, Climate Change and Natural Disasters Programme at the RSIS Centre for Non-Traditional Security (NTS) Studies.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Haze: Muar’s air quality turns hazardous; many private kindies close

The air quality in Muar is now hazardous with the Department of Environment's air pollutant index (API) reading hitting 337.

Schools in the area, however, remained open and there has been no formal announcement from the State Education Department on the matter.

However, several private kindergartens in Muar have sent the children home.

Some parents have taken to Facebook to complain about the lack of official response after the air quality turned hazardous.

The second highest readings for the state are in Kota Tinggi, which has recorded an API of 211 Thursday.

Other areas with unhealthy readings are Pasir Gudang (190) and Larkin Lama (171).

According to DOE, API readings between 51 to 100 is considered moderate, 101 to 200 is unhealthy, 201 to 300 is very unhealthy and anything above 301 is considered hazardous.

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

#CCTV to shed light on missing hawker. @NajibRazak @Zahid_Hamidi

Police have obtained CCTV footage of the incident in Jalan Macalister to help shed light on the mystery surrounding economy rice seller Lim Chin Aik who is believed to be buried in a crater there.

State police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Abdul Rahim Hanafi said the CCTV has clear footage but declined to elaborate.

The footage was obtained from a surveillance camera installed at a lamppost in front of Menara Umno where a lightning arrester snapped and fell off the 21-storey building following a freak storm last Thursday.

He added that the police would help the family to obtain the death certificate by Friday following a directive from Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

“The chassis number found at the scene matched those of Lim’s car,” he said at the Penang Road police station.

DCP Abdul Rahim said once the death certificate had been issued, they would then submit an application for an inquest to the court.

DCP Abdul Rahim added that police also received a report from a man who confirmed that Lim was in the car at the scene when the lightning arrester fell.

Chin Aik had gone missing since last Thursday when a freak storm hit the state at about 7pm.

He was supposed to pick up his daughter Huie Juin, 13, from the Penang Chinese Girls’ School.

Forty-eight hours later, contractors who were clearing the debris at the scene stumbled upon car parts believed to be a Honda City.

Meanwhile, the Penang Municipal Council has instructed the Menara Umno building owner to appoint certified and competent engineers to do a thorough check on the building.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the owner, Tetuan JKP Sdn Bhd, has been given a seven-day notice to submit a safety and stability assessment report of the building.

Guan Eng said the council issued a notice under Section 85A of the Street, Drainage and Building Act 1974 in May 2011.

When asked why no court action was taken against the owner, he said there was no provisions for the council to charge the owners in court.

MPPP Building Department director Yew Tung Seang said if the owner did not provide a report after the notice expiry date, they would engage a group of independent engineers to conduct checks on the building.

Earlier, Lim together with Deputy Chief Minister I Mohd Rashid Hasnon and DAP Tanjong division handed over a contribution worth RM19,000 to the family of Chin Aik.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Penang freak storm: Menara #Umno owner given 7 days to submit safety report

The Menara Umno building owner has been instructed by the Penang Municipal Council to appoint certified engineers to do a thorough check on the building.

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the owner has been given a seven-day notice to submit a safety and stability assessment report.

The storm last Thursday killed two men and economy rice seller Lim Chin Aik, 44, is presumed dead in a crater along Jalan Macalister where Menara Umno stands.

Work to recover his remains had to be stopped over fears that it would destabilise Menara Umno.

Posted on 16:32 | Categories: ,

Penang freak storm: Inquest to be held to certify death of missing hawker

An inquest will be carried out to certify the death of 44-year-old economy rice seller who is believed buried in a crater in Macalister Road, said Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

He said the inquest, to be carried out for three days starting today, was to give closure to Lim Chin Aik's family.

“Penang police chief Datuk Abdul Rahim Hanafi will lead the inquest team. The results will be forwarded to the National Registration Department so a death certificate can be issued for the family to file their insurance claim,” he said at the Penang State Museum and Art Gallery in Macalister Road near the incident site yesterday.

Lim is believed to be buried 7m under the rubble following the collapse of a lightning arrestor from Menara Umno after a deadly storm last Thursday.

The impact of the structure's fall also killed Indian national Jahir Hussain Sulaiman, 46.

Dr Ahmad Zahid said this was the best decision as search and rescue operation had to be called off as cracks had started to develop on the museum building and the Pakistani Mosque due to the digging.

Dr Ahmad Zahid added that since Lim was the sole breadwinner of his family, it was important that they receive help as soon as possible.

“I will inform the welfare department to help Lim's family as soon as possible,” he said.

Great Eastern Northern Bancassurance regional manager Ooi Kok Soon said, for the accidental death claim, a claimant has to submit a death certificate, police report and a post-mortem report.

Several Penang Hospital forensic department's pathologists led by Datuk Dr Zahari Noor were later seen checking out the wrecked car parts dug out from the crater.

Dr Zahari said they were looking for human body parts and tissues but did not find anything.

“We have asked the authorities to drain the crater so that we can see if we can retrieve something.”

Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said the state government planned to carry out checks on all high-rise buildings with tall structures.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Malaysians and tourists put on masks in Malacca

Many locals and tourists were seen wearing face masks as the historic city was shrouded in haze.

Low visibility also slowed down traffic to the major tourist areas in the city.

However, activities that were planned earlier, such as the dragon boat race, held in conjunction with the annual Malacca River Festival, went on as scheduled yesterday.

Malacca Health and Sports Development executive chairman Datuk Ab Rahaman Ab Karim said the state government would consider cancelling outdoor, sports and co-curriculum activities in schools if the situation worsened.

“Classes will continue as of now but we will stop all outdoor activities in schools if the need arises.

“In the meantime, we are monitoring the Air Pollution Index readings closely,” he said.

Ab Rahaman said the state Health Department would also consider distributing free face masks to all students and civil servants.

In Muar, the clear weather in the morning turned hazy suddenly by mid-afternoon.

Visibility dropped to less than half a nautical mile in most parts of the coastal areas.

The Muar river estuary, the Muar Bridge and most of the areas in town as well as Tanjung Agas were covered by thick haze by 4pm.

Muar marine police chief Asst Supt Nordin Osman said as visibility in the sea was poor, all vessels plying the Malacca Straits should take precautions and navigate with utmost care.

“Fishermen in small boats should refrain from going out to the sea for now and fishing trawlers must switch on their lights,” he added.

Posted on 13:35 | Categories:

Don’t fall for Opposition’s lies, students abroad urged

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has reminded Malaysian students overseas not to fall for the Opposition’s lies to the extent of not supporting the Government.

The Prime Minister said the slander spread by the Opposition during the recent 13th general election (GE13), for instance, had resulted in the students getting the wrong perception of the Government.

“Until today, there is no proof of the Opposition’s claim that we had brought in 40,000 Bangladeshis (to vote for the Barisan Nasional). This is slander and a very big lie,” he said.

“That’s why I ask: Are people not able to think? It has turned out that some people cannot think wisely,” said Najib, questioning the people’s level of intelligence and rationality over such issues.

Najib was speaking at a luncheon with Malaysian students in Indonesia at the multipurpose hall in the Malaysian embassy at Kuningan, here, yesterday.

Also present were his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and Malaysian ambassador to Indonesia Datuk Syed Munshe Afdzaruddin Syed Hassan.

Najib is here on a personal visit to meet up with a number of Indonesian leaders close to him, and for a rest after GE13.

He urged the Malaysian students to think rationally – whether it was possible for Barisan to bring in 40,000 Bangladeshis to vote for the ruling coalition because it would require 100 jumbo planes to fly them to Malaysia and 1,000 buses to take them to polling stations.

He said the Opposition’s claim was absurd. “I, as the Barisan chairman, strongly refute that there was cheating by Barisan (in the GE13), as alleged. The general election was conducted in a fair manner and in accordance with the law and regulations.”

Najib said Barisan had carried out many transformations in terms of delivery over the last four years and had validly won the GE13, but it lost in the war of perception because of the slander and lies churned out by the Opposition through the alternative media, which many people believed in more than the truth provided by the mainstream media.

“For the next general election, Barisan must equip itself well to fight in the war of perception,” he said.

“In reality, we have delivered, as Malaysia is increasingly prosperous and a good example for many countries, but perceived otherwise by some quarters,” he lamented. “The war of perception is thus the biggest challenge for Barisan.”

Posted on 10:35 | Categories:

Friday, 14 June 2013

Number of diabetics in Malaysia alarming

An alarming 3.6 million adults are estimated to be affected by diabetes in Malaysia, according to the Obesity Prevention Council President, Jong Koi Chong.

Jong said the number was very high and has put Malaysia as the number one country in Asean for having the highest number of diabetics and sixth in the western pacific region.

"That is not an achievement to be proud of and we must all work together and help educate the public on the importance of prevention and maintenance of the disease," he said.

During the 4th National Diabetes Conference here Friday, Jong said compared to 2006 where only 8.6 percent adults in Malaysia had diabetes, the most recent study done in 2011 showed 15.2 percent adults were diabetic.

Also present at the conference was Director of Medical Development department in the Health Ministry, Datuk Dr Azmi Shapie and the Malaysian Diabetes Association (MDA) President, Professor Datuk Dr Ikram Shah Ismail.

Dr Ikram Shah said Malaysia had surpassed the World Health Organisation's estimation of 807,000 diabetics in 2025.

He added that diabetes was a chronic disease that can be prevented and for those affected, diabetes can be managed to delay or prevent its complications.

Meanwhile, Dr Azmi advised Malaysians to prevent, manage diabetes and its complications by maintaining a healthy lifestyle and making better choices in their diet.

He added that blindness, kidney failure, gangrene leading to amputations and heart disease are complications that can be prevented by making better choices and having a balanced diet.

"Making small changes in our lifestyle will make a big difference. We should walk more, take the stairs instead of an elevator and avoid fatty food, especially, late night," he said.

Dr Azmi also advised the public to go for regular medical check up at least twice annually.

Posted on 16:11 | Categories:

Freak thunderstorm ravages Penang

A freak thunderstorm raged in Penang, causing massive damage to property, uprooting trees and jamming up the Penang Bridge.

A 32-year-old farmer in Ayer Itam also died of a heart attack after suffering a shock when a tree fell near him while he was out on an evening walk.

Nine people were injured, two of them seriously, as the effects of the storm were felt all over the state at 6.45pm yesterday.

One of the worst scenes was in Jalan Macalister when a giant telecommunications antenna was ripped off from the top of the 21-storey Menara Umno building.

The 80-foot antenna tower came crashing down several minutes after the storm hit, crushing a lorry and seven cars. Five people were hurt, including the two who were seriously injured.

Penang Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said the rescuers at the scene performed CPR on the two who were badly injured.

He said their injuries were believed to be severe.

The damaged lorry was believed to be carrying liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) canisters.

Several people were running helter skelter, seeking cover from the downpour and winds.

Traffic snarls were reported on both the island and mainland, including at the Esplanade, Weld Quay, Jalan Masjid Negeri, Jalan Sungai Pinang, Jalan Datuk Keramat and Jalan Tanjong Tokong as well as the bridge.

The jam at the bridge was caused after a tree fell onto the mainland bound lane, blocking the three lane stretch for several minutes.

The stretch was reopened at about 8.20pm after firemen removed the tree.

State police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Abdul Rahim Hanafi said 23 areas were affected by the storm.

The police were working around the clock with the firemen as well as other government agencies and local authorities to clear the debris caused by uprooted trees and blown apart roofs.

In Butterworth, Seberang Prai Municipal Council president Maimunah Sharif said several trees were uprooted in Bandar Perda, Jalan Kulim and Machang Bubok.

She said the council's special squad, comprising six emergency response team members, was deployed to help clear the debris.

“This is one of the worst storms ever to have hit the state,” she said.
Posted on 10:10 | Categories:

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Dengue kills 22, including two toddlers, in first half of 2013

Three people, including two toddlers, died of dengue-related complications over the past week as Malaysia saw a rise in deaths related to the pandemic over the first six months of this year.

Figures released by the Health Ministry Thursday showed that a total of 22 people had died as at June 10 this year, an increase by one fatality compared to the same six-month period a year earlier.

“The three deaths reported last week include two children aged one from Penang and Malacca. The third fatality was a housewife from Selangor.

“In all cases, death was due to dengue-related complication or Dengue Shock Syndrome,”

Posted on 16:39 | Categories:

Neighbours’ quick action saves toddler from abduction

Concerned neighbours and their frantic SMSes saved a toddler from being kidnapped here.

A man, on the pretext of delivering fish, had rushed into the child's home in Jalan Bakariah and tied up his mother.

He snatched the year-old boy away and demanded that the family come up with a ransom for the child's release during the 10.30am incident on Tuesday.

Neighbours, who saw the man driving away with the child, took down the car's number plate and spread it among their friends via text message on their phones.

The message, written in Chinese, spread fast and even the kidnapper, apparently, got wind of the SMSes.

He aborted his plan and abandoned the boy at a hawker centre in Yong Peng, about 55km from here.

A woman trader found the child, who has yet to learn to walk, near a toilet.

She bathed and fed him before taking the child to the Yong Peng police station at about 1pm the same day.

The child and his parents were reunited at the station at around 7pm.

Recalling the ordeal, the child's mother said the man had come to her house that morning to say he was delivering fish from her father-in-law.

“When I opened the door to the house, he rushed in and quickly tied me up.

“He then grabbed my son and told me that we have to pay a ransom for the child's release,” she said.

Muar acting police chief Supt Shahadan Jaafar said the police were searching for the abductor, adding that the case was being investigated under Section 3 of the Kidnapping Act 1961.

He urged witnesses and those with information on the incident to report to the nearest police station.

Posted on 10:07 | Categories:

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Career in police force promises bright future

Life in the police force can be highly challenging yet rewarding.

A career of upholding the law and serving the people was one of the best choices of her life, said ASP Rodiah Mohtar, 48.

“Being a policewoman has taught me a lot of life lessons like patience and discipline,” she said, adding that it has made her a much better person.

She joined the force because she admired those in uniform like her father, who was in the army.

“I remember feeling so proud the first time I wore it,” she said at Bukit Aman yesterday.

ASP Rizal Abdul Rahman Sidek, 38, said he loves meeting people from all walks of life.

“I get to see many people and help solve their problems,” he said.

He added that it was an exciting job despite the long and sometimes unpredictable hours.

“I love what I do but there are sacrifices, like the limited family time,” he said.

For DSP Osman Mamat, the job always comes first as the uniform comes with a responsibility to serve the people.

“When I joined the force in 1981, my salary was RM270 per month. You do not join the force to become rich,” he said.

He said one of the most haunting memories of his career was being one of the first rescuers during the Highland Towers tragedy.

All three of them said they would recommend people to join the force as it promises a bright future for those willing to work hard.

“Those who join must have a passion for the job and be ready to sacrifice for the greater good,” they said.

Posted on 10:22 | Categories:

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

No travel restrictions to Saudi Arabia over coronavirus scare

Health deputy director general (Public Health) Datuk Dr Lokman Hakim Sulaiman.
No travel restrictions have been imposed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on travel to Saudi Arabia following the recent Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) scare but the Health Ministry is taking the needed precautions.

Health deputy director general (Public Health) Datuk Dr Lokman Hakim Sulaiman said that the Health Ministry was taking the necessary precaution by increasing communications with travel agencies for the Umrah and potential Haj travellers.

"We are ready for the Ramadan season," he said in a press conference after its excellent service awards ceremony here on Tuesday.

Dr Lokman also said that the Ministry had also enhanced its surveillance capacity and increased the capacity of its laboratories to detect the virus.

On June 5, the WHO issued a guidance on update to travel recommendations for MERS-CoV that WHO published on May 20.

Since September 2012, more than 50 cases of MERS-CoV have been identified globally and about half of these people had died.

All cases identified so far have had either a direct or indirect connection with the Middle East.
Posted on 15:48 | Categories:

Time to make criminals fear the law

Criminals have no fear of the police and are even daring enough these days to rob during dinners, weddings and funerals.

Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, who is Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation (MCPF) vice-chairman, said the criminals believe they won't get caught due to poor law enforcement.

“I feel we have lagged in terms of law enforcement that strikes fear in the hearts of the criminals,” he said.

Just days ago, a group of about 10 parang-wielding men held up several customers and the owner of the Simmei Seafood and Steamboat restaurant at Taman Taynton View in Cheras.

The robbers, wearing crash helmets, arrived in two cars at about 5am when the customers were having supper.

They got away with about RM4,000 from the cash register and a total of about RM16,000 in cash and valuables from the customers.

Such shockingly brazen robberies is causing the public to lose respect for the police and law enforcement.

“There should be zero tolerance to crime,” Lee said. “Enforcement agencies must have a no-nonsense approach to law enforcement to regain the trust and respect of the people.

“There must not be double standards and the law must be enforced without fear or favour.”

According to Lee, cooperation between the public and the police must be stepped up as well.

“Such initiatives will make for more-effective crime-prevention efforts,” he said.

He said this could be in the form of having more Rukun Tetangga areas and organising joint patrols with policemen.

“There is also a need for more public awareness of such campaigns,” he added.

Taman Gasing Indah Rukun Tetangga chairman Eric Chew said there are about 35 residents taking part in the voluntary patrols in his neighbourhood.

“We patrol on foot from 9pm to midnight every night and occasionally have two or three policemen in the group.”

Chew said his Rukun Tetangga also organises talks and other community-based activities to encourage residents to combat crime together with police.

Businessman Seng Tack Soon, 44, who is the Taman Sungai Besi Rukun Tetangga chairman, also wants to organise additional activities such as gotong-royong and potluck parties for residents to socialise.

“There are about 65 residents taking part in the patrols, which happen at least three times a week, from 8pm to 11pm.

“On average 15 to 20 members take part each time,” Seng said.

While these volunteer patrols are a big help to the police in the fight against crime, the Rukun Tetangga groups are also helping to unify Malaysians and promote good neighbourliness.

Posted on 09:29 | Categories:

Monday, 10 June 2013

Support for campaign against crime

Groups and experts have stressed on the need for practical approaches to fight crime and to make the Government’s United Against Crime campaign a success.

Chico Force Sdn Bhd chief executive officer Datuk Seri Juniur Khoo, whose company is involved in a Government pilot security project at Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah (HTAR) in Klang, said strategic location of CCTV cameras and their proper monitoring were important.

“It (better security) does not just have to be via the number of guards, but strategic placement of CCTV cameras and monitoring them closely.

“We have proven this with our project at HTAR and have successfully brought down the crime rate there,” he said, adding that the hospital had undergone a “security transformation” over the past 15 months.

Khoo said local security firms could benefit from more exposure by tying up with international security experts to learn about the latest in security technology.

Bukit Bintang-KLCC Tourism Association chairman and Pavilion Kuala Lumpur chief executive officer Joyce Yap called for better training for security guards, adding that more CCTV cameras and guards were needed at shopping complexes.

However, she noted that many Malaysians refused to work as security guards, leading to most companies engaging foreign labour.

Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation vice-chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said the anti-crime campaign should do more in engaging the public in talks and self-defence workshops, and improving confidence with the police, adding that a pledge in the form giving one’s signature was purely an expression of support.

Lee also stressed on continuing efforts with police presence in public areas and dialogue between residents and their local law enforcement representatives to improve security.

Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association president Datuk Seri Michael Yam said developers supported the campaign because security in housing areas was directly related to property value.

Posted on 15:52 | Categories:

Friday, 7 June 2013

Penang bridge ramp collapse: An unmoving arm spotted in crushed car

A search camera has detected an unmoving arm in the car lying crushed under tons of concrete and steel after an uncompleted ramp of a flyover connecting the still-under-construction second Penang bridge at Batu Maung collapsed Thursday night.

Rescuers have found part of a number plate with the number "437" from the rubble.

Police believe it is the first three digit of a number plate.

State deputy police chief SAC Datuk Abdul Rahim Jaafar said Friday that a search camera was used and rescuers caught a glimpse of a victim's arm but no movement or response detected.

"We can't ascertain how many victims are there but there's at least one detected.

"It was in a green Perodua Kelisa," he said.

SAC Abdul Rahim said police could not identify the victim and urged anyone with family members missing since Thursday night to approach the police.

Rescue work has been ongoing for more than 14 hours.

"Hundreds of tonnes of concrete and steel collapsed and we need to depend on heavy machinery to aid in clearing work.

Over 300 rescuers from police, Fire Department, JPAM and contractors are working to get to the crushed car.

He said clearing work was expected to be completed this evening.

"We hope the public can be patient," he said.

Posted on 16:08 | Categories:

Four feared dead after a ramp linking Penang expressway collapses

Four people were feared killed when a section of the ramp connecting the Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu Expressway to the second Penang bridge in Batu Maung collapsed.

The section, which fell onto at least one lane of the expressway, was believed to have buried two passing cars and a motorcycle under its debris.

Police said initial information revealed that the four victims in a car were feared dead.

Balik Pulau deputy OCPD Supt Lai Fah Hin confirmed that a car was found smashed.

Penang deputy police chief Senior Asst Comm Datuk Abdul Rahim Jaafar said three people were injured. The incident, which occurred during rush hour at 7pm yesterday, caused a massive traffic jam.

Hundreds of rescue workers, including firemen, voluntary fire-fighters and Civil Defence Department personnel, were removing the rubble.

At press time, a motorcyclist had been pulled out of the rubble. He sustained injuries to his head.

Bridge concessionaire Jambatan Kedua Sdn Bhd public relations and communications deputy manager Azizi Azizan said the segment which collapsed was being cast at that time.

He said it happened after the scaffolding supporting it collapsed.

He added that investigations were being carried out to find out why both structures collapsed.

He said the segment was part of one of three ramps at the interchange linking the expressway to the bridge.

Azizi said two cranes were being used in the rescue efforts.

He added that further details would be provided today.

Bayan Baru MP Sim Tze Tzin, who was at the scene, said a 30m-long span of the ramp was believed to have collapsed.

At 9.20pm, state executive councillor Lim Hock Seng said the authorities had yet to confirm the cause of the accident.

Traffic policemen were deployed to the scene to direct traffic and the section of the expressway has been closed to facilitate rescue work.

Motorist R. Thilasheni, 24, whose car windscreen was shattered by a falling beam in the incident, was still in a state of shock.

“We were only three seconds away when the ramp collapsed. We were lucky to have come out alive,” she added.

She was travelling with her friend G. Gajashaantini, 24, at that time.

The RM4.4bil 24km-long bridge is scheduled for completion next month.

It will be the longest bridge in South-East Asia and the 20th longest in the world when completed. It is scheduled to go through road commissioning and testing in August before being officially opened in September.

Posted on 11:21 | Categories:

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Computer retailer raided third time for installing pirated software

A stubborn computer retailer is raided for the third time for selling computers installed with pirated software.

State Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry chief enforcement officer Abdul Rosik Yakub said on Thursday, four officers found three notebooks and three desktops installed with 12 copies of pirated software from the operation carried out on Wednesday at about 1.30pm.

He added that the value of the seizures was estimated to cost about RM33,000.

"The shop had been raided twice in 2011.

"The operation was a result following a complaint from the software copyright owner," he said in a press conference at the ministry office in Downing Street here.

Posted on 16:42 | Categories:

Belaga petrol quota raised since search operation for boat victims

The petrol supply quota for Belaga had been raised since early June following the search and rescue operations for victims of the express boat, which sank in the district on May 28.

The director of the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism (KPDNKK) for Sarawak, Wan Ahmad Uzir Wan Sulaiman, said today the additional delivery of the 9,600 litres had been approved on Monday.

"The additional supply is expected to arrive in Belaga town by road from Bintulu town today," he told Bernama here.

He said this when commenting on a news report on Thursday that claimed that Belaga almost ran out of petrol supply after a major portion of its supply had been used for the search operations, which had entered its 10th day.

He said the situation reported by the press was temporary in nature and advised consumers in Belaga town not resort to panic buying which would only aggravate the situation. Wan Ahmad Uzir said the delay in the delivery was due to the poor condition of the road that the delivery lorries had to take to reach the town, which is located about 180km from Bintulu town.

He said some sections of the road leading to the tragedy site were logging roads and this caused the lorry drivers to move slowly and took a long time to reach Belaga town.

"I am also told by the lorry company operators that not all their lorries were running because the lorry drivers were on leave to celebrate Gawai Dayak," he said.

He said that in a normal situation, Belaga was allocated 80,000 litres of petrol a month but because of the search and rescue operations, some of the quota for the month of July had been used in June.

"We will monitor the situation from time to time to ensure that there is no supply shortage," he added.

Posted on 13:04 | Categories:

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Wasteful ways of #Malaysian gluttons

Malaysia is a food heaven – but it is also one giant food dump.

It generates about 15,000 tonnes of food and kitchen waste daily – enough to fill 7.5 football fields or to feed 7.5 million people a day.

This is a hike from 2011, where about 930 tonnes of unconsumed food were thrown away every day. And that was double the 2009 figure.

In Kuala Lumpur alone, the waste comes up to about 3,000 tonnes a day while the Consumers Association of Penang claimed that the island alone generated 355 tonnes of food waste every day.

Of the amount wasted, between 10% and 15% comprised unconsumed and expired food.

At 10-course Chinese dinners for example, 30% of food goes to waste.

There is a silver lining, though. People are opting for fewer courses at Chinese dinners and with hoteliers reporting fewer people wasting food at buffets.

Waste management specialist Dr Theng Lee Chong said that hosts were opting for lesser quantity of food and reducing the number of courses to seven or eight.

“But in the long run, we still need to educate Malaysians on the need to not waste food.

“We should only take what we can consume,” he said.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri G. Palanivel had called on Malaysians to make the “right lifestyle choice” and to reduce food waste and losses in line with the campaign of the World Environmental Day today.

With the theme “Think. Eat. Save”. Reduce Your Foodprint – the campaign draws attention to the high volume of perfectly edible produce that never make it from the farm to the fork.

“The campaign encourages us to become more aware of the environmental impact of the food choices we make and empowers us to make informed decisions,” he said.

United Nations undersecretary-general and UN Environmental Programme executive director Achim Steiner said that at least a third of everything that was grown on the planet is lost between the field and the consumer.

“It is an ethical, economic and environmental issue given the enormous waste of energy, water, fertilisers and other inputs as a result of food that is produced but never eaten.

“Each one of us can do something about this and that’s why, through Think. Eat. Save. Reduce Your Foodprint campaign, we invite people across the world to join us to raise awareness and to take practical action whether in your home, your farm, in the supermarket, in a canteen, a hotel or anywhere else where food is prepared and consumed,” he said in a statement.

Malaysian Indian Restaurant Owners Association president Datuk R. Ramalingam Pillai lamented that food wastage was quite rampant in Malaysia.

He attributed this to the attitude of Malaysians, most of whom he said took food for granted.

“In other parts of the world, there are people going without food and here we are throwing food away,” he added.

Woman held over Facebook post

A 32-year-old woman who had been in hiding after she allegedly insulted the Yang di-Pertuan Agong via social media site Facebook has been detained.

She was picked up in Taman Nirwana, Ampang, at 9.30am yesterday.

A Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) spokesman said the commission, in collaboration with the police, successfully tracked down the suspect, who was said to have insulted Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah on Facebook.

“The woman was detained by police to assist in the MCMC investigations into the alleged insult,” the spokesman said in a statement yesterday.

He said the suspect was believed to have been in hiding after her identity was revealed in the Internet following the alleged insults.

“The commission is also requesting for the suspect’s friends to come forward to assist in further investigations.

“The investigation was carried out under Section 233 of the Communi-cations and Multimedia Act 1998,” he said.

The MCMC, he said, viewed very seriously the abuse of social media to upload content or comments containing elements of insult especially against the monarchy.

Kuala Lumpur deputy police chief Senior Asst Comm Datuk Amar Singh said the woman would also be investigated under Section 4(1) of the Sedition Act 1948 over her alleged insults.

“We are also tracking down four other individuals to assist in the investigation,” he said.

He urged the individuals – Weennee Tan, Shuh Chien Loo, Hun Keat Wong and Carol Tay to come forward as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said stern action would be taken against the woman.

He said he left it to the police to investigate the matter and take the necessary action.

“They know what needs to be done,” he told reporters after a working visit to the Sungai Besi Cure and Care 1Malaysia Clinic yesterday.

It was reported on Sunday that the police were investigating a woman for posting alleged insults against the King on her Facebook page.

In Ipoh, a group of 20 NGOs lodged a police report against a blogger and a Facebook user for insulting the King.

Its spokesman Shamsul Bahrain Putra Ahmad Shibi said the NGO members were shocked and angry at the disrespectful actions of the two people who he said uttered derogatory and racist remarks against the royal institution.

Umno Youth chief Khairy Jama-luddin called on the MCMC to get tough on those who posted seditious statements via social media websites.

He urged the authorities to amend the Communications and Multi­media Act 1998 to prevent slander and sedition.

Posted on 10:08 | Categories: