Friday, March 27, 2009

Bintulu ‘belacan’ to be signature product

LOCAL PRODUCTS: Fatimah (centre), Hasnah (fifth left) and others give their thumbs-up to Bintulu belacan

BINTULU: The famous ‘Belacan Bintulu’ which is in big demand in the state and the peninsula will be turned into another Sarawak signature product.

Assistant Minister of Agriculture (Home Economics and Training) Datin Fatimah Abdullah said since Bintulu has been known for generations as a producer of delicious belacan, it is time to expand and brand it as Sarawak’s best.

“So far as I know from friends and people who like belacan, no divisions or districts can challenge the unique taste of belacan made in Bintulu and this should be commercialised locally and internationally,” said Fatimah in her speech when visiting a successful belacan entrepreneur Hasnah @ Normah Zamhari in Kampung Baru here yesterday.

She said even though belacan is not as attractive as other food products such as ‘kek (layered cake) which comes in a variety of designs and colours, those who ate it would not easily forget the unique taste.

Therefore, the raising of the status of belacan Bintulu has been discussed with the chairman of Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) Datuk Talib Zulpilip, she said, adding that they would launch the product as a signature product in a special ceremony on April 11 in Jepak.

Fatimah who is also Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department (Human Resource and Training), said women engage in businesses were mostly involved in the food processing industry.
She said with Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) in development, there would be great demand on the food manufacturing industry.

Even during an economic crisis, the food industry is still the most important and secure because people still need to eat.

“Once the heavy industries operating in SCORE area are fully implemented, they would generate opportunities for the opening up of small and medium industries.

“We have yet to get the names of belacan producers in Bintulu, so my ministry will create a database of the industry as soon as possible.

“This is to make sure that all the plans and programmes get implemented efficiently to ensure that the demand for the product is still there and improving,” said Fatimah.

She added that what Bintulu need to do now is to have a consistent belacan production to ensure that the market can expand continuously and firmly without worrying about any shortage in supply.

“But as the product is dependent on marine resources like shrimps, which is seasonal, the producers need to find alternative ways to generate their income.

“One way is to add value to their existing products to turn them into competitive and marketable products,” she said.

As of now, she said, they had identified 12 successful women kek lapis entrepreneurs in the state and hopefully the quantity could be increased through the participation of local women’s entrepreneurs in Bintulu.

“We have kek lapis millionaires in Kuching and hopefully we will have belacan millionaires,” she said.

Hasnah was a local entrepreneur involved in small-time food production of keropok in 2004. As her business expanded, she went into belacan production.

She was given a grant of RM75,000 by the Agriculture Department to set up a factory.

After inspecting Hasnah’s food processing facility, Fatimah said one thing that entrepreneurs should remember is not to jeopardise the good name of Bintulu belacan merely for the sake of profits. They must always emphasise quality.

She also disclosed that her ministry was working closely with Mosti (Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation Malaysia) to create a more systematic and modern machine and techniques for producing belacan.

In other words she said local entrepreneurs must work closely with government agencies like Fama, Mardi and other agencies to improve and develop their products in terms of branding, packaging and other crucial aspects like marketing.

To have a benchmark of the best belacan product here, Fatimah suggested that some belacan producing competition should be held.

“It is important to have good manufacturing practice in food production to give confidence to customers,” said Fatimah.

We’ll be Malaysia’s richest state: Taib

Sarawak Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud

BINTULU: Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud last night expressed optimism that Sarawak will be the richest state in the whole of Malaysia by year 2030 as a result of the current second wave of Politics of Development.

“By the year 2030, Insyallah (God willing), we will be the richest state in the whole of the country. We will be the land of opportunity,” said Taib when speaking in his 28th year in office as Chief Minister of Sarawak at Dewan Suarah Bintulu here last night.

Taib warned, however, that despite the optimism, the situation could change for the worst if there was no unity among the people and the leaders of the state.

He pointed out that basic to the state’s achievement in the past was the unity of purpose among Sarawakians and their leaders.

“We were able to succeed because we can bring the dreams of the Chinese, the Ibans, the Malays, Melanaus and others together even though their dreams are different… but we know how,” he said.

“We must share one vision and move forward,” he said and added that the last 28 years was the most important task undertaken by the state government to ensure a more developed state for the people.”

Taib said while many attributed the success of the state up to now to his leadership, to him he held to the belief that “the government is not mine alone”.

“I am only the thinker. If you do not put your hand on the flower, nothing will happen,” the chief minister said.

Of the state’s journey to success, Taib said the first wave of politics of development was difficult as it involved a lot of efforts to change people’s mindset.

According to him, now that Sarawakians are mentally ready and willing, the new wave of development should be realised in due time.

He said the state had put in place supporting infrastructure to ensure that there would be enough skilled workforce to power its second development wave.

Land Development Minister Dato Sri Dr James Masing and Jepak assemblyman Datuk Talib Zulpilip also spoke last night.

Among those present were State Legislative Assembly Speaker Dato Sri Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar, cabinet ministers and assistant ministers, state assembly-men, parliamentarians, senators, community leaders and over 1,000 people from all walks of life.

Taib the glue that binds state BN

BINTULU: The greatest success of Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud in his 28 years of service to Sarawak as its Chief Minister is perhaps in being the glue that binds the state Barisan Nasional (BN).

Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president Dato Sri Dr James Masing believes that planning for development was half of the chief minister’s job, the other half was in keeping the coalition working as a unit.

“Of the two functions of the chief minister, the later, I feel is the hardest.

“This is where you (Taib) are a cut above the rest. The last 28 years was not an easy one,” he said at the celebration of Taib’s anniversary in office here last night.

Representing state BN leaders in his speech, Masing said the demands and needs of political parties required more than just Taib’s patience and understanding; it required analytical skills to identify priorities and tackle problems accordingly.

“Not only do you have to analyse each problem critically; you have to know the source of the problem and who are causing it,” said Masing, who is Land Development Minister.

Attempting to interpret Taib’s vision and leadership in a nutshell, Masing conceded that the political arena was a playground of rumours, and within its borders, perceptions could grow wings and fly and are assumed to be the truth.

In this respect, he said: “In a world of half truths and half lies, we the politicians have to assume the role of conjurors who are expected to find the truth in the muck thrown at us, and we are expected by the public to smell like roses and maintain our sanity.

“Ladies and gentlemen, you can ask any of the party leaders just how difficult it is to keep both our sanity and smell clean after solving the problems of the public.”

Having said that, he pointed out that with Taib’s guidance, the state BN leaders had emerged from the muck on strong footing.

Masing added that in his short term as the leader of a political party, he had tasted the burden of leadership and not only has he been criticised for things he had done but also things he had not done.

And through Taib’s stewardship, he said he and his colleagues had learned to be patient and forgiving and to soldier on with the tasks that they were sworn to take.

Dwelling further on the challenges faced by Taib, Masing confessed to being one of those people who had given the Chief Minister a hard time as the state BN chairman.

“Pehin Sri, in spite of all the half truths and half lies, and some criticisms that are down right lies, you have carried the burden of leadership with pride and you have kept the coalition going despite the challenges you were and are made to face.

“Some of these challenges are man-made - and I was one of those who made them at one stage - while others are natural disasters.

“To avoid the dangers of these political pitfalls and come out shining is not an easy task. You have done it, sir, with flying colours,” said Masing.

Earlier, Masing also said that everyone should understand the vision and mission of the Chief Minister for the sake of continuity in the development of the state.

“In knowing what he is trying to do, in understanding what he has in mind for us and for the next generation of Sarawak, we will be in a better position to implement his work.

“And for those of you who are much younger and are being considered as the second echelon leaders, you would be in a better frame of mind to continue his work when the time comes for you to take over the mantle of leadership,” he said.

Claims people mistreated false: Masing

Masing denies resettlements of people affected by hydroelectric dams taken lightly

BINTULU: Land Development Minister Dato Sri Dr James Masing last night refuted claims that the state government had ridden roughshod over the people in its programme to build hydroelectric dams.

Dato Sri Dr James Masing Denying that the resettlements of the people affected by dams were taken lightly, he said in the development of Murum, the latest dam in Sarawak, the government had the help of Australian anthropologists and sociologists.

And in the case of Batang Ai and Bakun dams, the government sought the assistance of Australian experts in planning for the resettlement schemes and the help of German sociologists, respectively.

“Along with these experts, we put in place local experts to help. Therefore to accuse this government of not caring for the welfare of those affected by the dam is inaccurate. I was involved in the planning of resettlement programmes of the first two dams,” he said.

Speaking at the 28th anniversary celebration of Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud’s political career as chief minister, Masing said the state wants to provide cheap, clean and renewable energy for its industries.

“In reducing the possible fallout of hydroelectric dams, the government has and will seek help from foreign as well as local experts in establishing resettlement programmes which cater for both the needs of older generation who wish to dwell in the past and the younger generation who wish to move forward.

“The government has not and will not ignore the needs of both generations. Our Chief Minister understands all these and demands assistance from all quarters,” he said.

Earlier on, he revealed that he first had a glimpse of Taib’s plans to harness the state’s hydro resources on a larger scale during a dinner not long after he was appointed Land Development Minister.

He said Taib had asked him what he wanted to do next to generate income for the people after he had planted idle native customary land (NCL) with palm oil.

The answer was in “cheap electricity” generated by the amount of rain the state has and the fast flowing rivers.

By harnessing the rivers, Sarawak would be able to provide cheap, clean, and renewable energy and this would then attract industries, provide employment, and ultimately, better livelihood for the people, he said.

“The logic of economic progression as visualised by our Chief Minister is simple and easy for us to see.

“But it does require our political will, strength of our conviction and above all, we must be able to withstand the criticisms that will be thrown at us.

“Some of our critics do so out of ignorance, some out of jealousy and some simply out of ill will.

“Our Chief Minister must have seen and anticipated all of these and thus despite them, he just carries on.

“The spin-offs of cheap energy are many. All we need to do is put on our thinking caps and find ways to utilise it,” Masing said.

Similarly, he said, big industrial players would be reluctant to invest in Sarawak if it did not have sufficient quality manpower and because of that Taib had invited international tertiary institutions to spread their wings to Sarawak.

Masing believed that Taib had already envisioned such developments for the state 28 years ago.

28th Anniversary of Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud as Chief Minister of Sarawak

SARAWAK'S BRIGHT FUTURE: Taib looks at the souvenir presented to him by Second Minister of Planning and Resource Management cum Minister of Public Utilities Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan (left) witnessed by (from right) Housing Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg, Asfia, Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Numpang and Masing.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Fighting drug menace joint responsibility: Resident

WAR ON DRUGS: Razali (centre), flanked by Zamnee (left) and Sulaiman, briefing the media on the outcome of their meeting.

BINTULU: Preventing the young people from getting involved in drugs is the responsibility of all, says the Resident Dr Razali Abon.

Parents in particular must play their role as educators at home, he said, and not to depend too much on the authorities to implement the (drug) laws and regulations.

“If their children get caught indulging in drug abuse, parents cannot blame the authorities. Children need to be taught good values starting in homes,” Razali told a press conference after he chaired a meeting on ‘Combating Drug Action Council’ here yesterday.

The council, sitting for the first time this year, discussed issues and problems pertaining to combating drug problems among the young generation.

As a coordinator in combating drug abuse in the division, the council, Razali said, discussed various ways and programmes to combat the drug menace.

Among those who sit in the committee are heads of government departments, community leaders and representatives of non-governmental organisations.

Razali said their strategy was based on the involvement of all in the programmes like drug preventive talk and exhibitions.

Asked whether there were cases involving public servants being caught in drug abuse cases here, Razali said no such cases were reported here so far.

Police chief, Superintendent Sulaiman Abdul Razak, who was also present at the press conference, said the drug situation here was still under control although statistics showed that more people were arrested for drug abuse here last year compared to previous years.

The local police, he added, conducted 109 drug-related operations entertainment outlets last year, 27 involving cybercaf├ęs, 78 hotels and inns, and 36 homes.

As a result, 335 people were arrested from 230 operations last year compared to 229 from 188 cases in 2007.

Also present at the press conference was National Anti-Drug Agency (Miri) chief officer Zamnee Ismail.

Hospitality industry not spared by economic crisis

FACING BIG CHALLENGES: Mohd Ilyas (seated fifth left) and Simson (seated fourth left) pose for a group photograph with hotel general managers before continuing with their meeting agenda.

BINTULU: Just like other business industries, the hospitality industry is also facing big challenges and direct impact from the global economic recession as tourists and business executives are cutting back on trips abroad.

However, the hoteliers need to make a quick shift in their operation to suit the current situation and the availability of the market, Malaysian Association of Hotels (MAH) president Datuk Mohd Ilyas Zainol Abidin said Saturday.

Speaking to reporters after chairing MAH Sarawak chapter annual general meeting (AGM) at New World Suites here Saturday, he urged MAH members in particular to find ways to minimise the impact of the global recession by focusing more on domestic market and local consumption.

According to Mohd Ilyas, the recession had caused a decline of eight to 12 per cent in travellers coming to Sarawak this year as the crisis had a major impact on the United States and United Kingdom markets especially on the people’s expenditure.

“The markets in Europe and America are going through a very difficult time now.

“Low demand from these two major countries gives a massive setback and the international market might face up to 15 per cent decline in visitors,” he added.

He, however, believed that hotels that focussed on domestic market would not be badly hit as those relying on international market.

Ilyas said there had been no report of retrenchment of hotel staff in Malaysia because of the global economic crisis.

He said MAH with 13 state chapters and more than 500 member hotels in the country was committed to help its members face the difficult situations.

He added MAH provided members with government liaison, training and education, research and information, and other services to ensure a positive business climate particularly during a slowdown in the global economy.

Meanwhile, MAH (Sarawak) chapter chairman Peter Simson who was also present when asked on the current situation of the hotel industry in Sarawak said “the landscape now has changed”.

Simson who is also Hilton Kuching and Hilton Batang Ai Longhouse Resort general manager said proper strategies were needed now to identify relevant destinations to suit the sluggish global economy.

“Thus we have to introduce new local markets and promote attractive packages especially in Sarawak for its eco-tourism industry,” he said.

Sixteen hotel general managers in the state attended the AGM.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

BDA welcomes complaints for Bintulu’s good

BINTULU: Public complaints and reports to the local authority are most welcome especially when they pertain to the improvement of the town, particularly the enhancement of public infrastructure.

Bintulu Development Authority general manager Mohidin Ishak (pictured left), when met recently at his office, said BDA welcomes ideas that could help BDA provide good service to the community.

“I welcome the highlighting of isuues of general public interest, but please don’t just give us empty complaints without recommendations,” he said.

He wanted the public to keep reminding the authority of things that needed to be done so hat the town could continue to be improved.

He admitted that there were always problems to be solved, especially those related to floods.

“In connection with this, people cannot totally blame us because we cannot stop the changes in global environment,” he said.

“So that’s why we are now planning to raise the ground level in older parts of town.

“For that matter we have to build houses at a certain ground height because the sea level has risen dramatically and low-lying areas will get flooded.

“At the same time, we will continue to improve the drainage system in an around the town,” said Mohidin.

Regarding traffic flow and signboards at Parkcity Commercial Square – matters raised by Kidurong assemblyman Chiew Chiu Sing recently – Mohidin said they would study the situation carefully, taking all the people’s interest into consideration.

“I know about the traffic congestion here and there and I admit that the junction is always packed with vehicles.

“We will study it first. Maybe a one-way flow is better,” said Mohidin.

He added that when people complain, it means people are concerned about the town and hence BDA will treat the complaints seriously.

He promised that every complaint would be discussed carefully, but please don’t complain today and expect the problem to be solved the next day.

“We have nor problem repairing or upgrading certain things as we have enough money, but we need to follow proper procedures,” he said.

“I agree with Chiew that we need to improve all the facilities,” he said.

About signboards at Parkcity Commercial Square, Mohidin agreed they are important as visitors want to know which way to go. This will be given full consideration by BDA.

Turning to drivers, he urged them not to park on yellow or white lines, adding that every infrastructures had a particular purpose and function and should be appreciated.

Flash flood hits Bintulu after heavy downpour

READY FOR THE WORST: The police personnel parking their motorcycles on higher ground

BINTULU: Flash flood hit several low-lying areas in the town centre after a heavy downpour from morning till mid afternoon on March 11. Apart from several streches of roads in the town centre the inundated areas included the polyclinic and the (traffic) police station. A Check around the town revealed that the people had parked their cars on higher grounds for fear that the flood might worsen. Their fear was however short-lived for it stopped raining about mid afternoon and the water level started to recede. The residents were heard saying that blocked drains caused the flash flood.

Some fishermen still misuse subsidised fuel

Government would not hesitate to act against those found guilty, says LKIM state director

BINTULU: The Malaysian Fisheries Development Authority (LKIM) state director Razaili Gapor (pictured left) said he still received complaints about some fishermen who misuse their subsidised fuel and fuel rebates meant to motivate them to work harder.

“Some use their fuel for non-important things instead of catching more fish.

“This situation will slowly make them lazier and then they refuse to go to sea,” said Razaili to some 500 members of Bintulu Area Fishermen’s Association during their 29th annual general meeting at Regency Plaza Hotel yesterday.

The event was officially opened by assistant District Officer Alex Liau who represented the District Officer Bujang Budin.

He said the government would not hesitate to act against those found guilty misusing their fuel.
According to him, the government allocated around RM20 million worth of diesel per month to Sarawak alone with Bintulu receiving RM1.4 in subsidies per month.

“With a rebate of RM200 for each registered fisherman, I hope fishermen would use the money wisely and if possible keep the money for their children’s future especially for educational purposes,” said Razaili.

He pointed out that a rebate receiver should not feel very secure as the allocation can be stopped at any time depending on various factors.

Razaili said various pre-requisites needed to be considered by the government whether to prolong the assistance or stop it.

Based on LKIM records, there are 2,381 registered fishing boats in the state, but many have not declared their catch.

Thus he urged the operators of these vessels to make their declarations at the LKIM complex and also at the local fishermen association office.

“We have more than enough fishermen and resources but we still fail to meet the market demand here and as a result we have to import fish from outside,” he said.

On LKIM’s part, he said it is committed to change and improve the livelihood of fishermen in the state.

“Our fishermen can become successful businessmen, so I urge all fishermen here to work closely together with their association.

“The association on the other hand also needs to plan projects for its members and not depend on just one activity, which is catching the fish,” he said.

As for fishermen’s families, he said they could help to improve their lives by processing fish and generally adding value to their basic products.

Razaili also urged fishermen’s associations in the state to give full cooperation to LKIM so that every activity planned by the government could be implemented effectively.

“The government is committed to improving the living standard of fishermen. So if fishermen organise themselves into associations, it would be much easier for them to improve their lives as they would function as big groups.

He said it’s time for them to change the people’s perception of their profession, that is, that the majority of fishermen are poor.

“By getting into business the negative perception can be altered,” he said.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Islam requires Muslims to be educated: Tengah

RELIGIOUS TALK: (From left) Assistant Minister of Environment Dr Abang Abdul Rauf Abang Zen, Second Minister of Planning and Resource Management and Minister of Public Utilities Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan, Head of State Tun Datuk Patinggi Abang Muhammad Salahuddin Abang Barieng, Minister in the Chief Minister's Department (Islamic Affairs) Datuk Daud Abdul Rahman, Sarawak Islamic Council chairman Datu Putit Matzen, Jepak assemblyman Datuk Talib Zulpilip and Sarawak Religious Department director Datu Misnu Taha are among those present at the religious talk, zikir and marhaban ceremony held at Masjid Assyakirin on Sunday.

REMEMBERING PROPHET MUHAMMAD: Salahuddin (third left), Tengah (second left), Daud (left) and others during the Maulidur Rasul procession.

BINTULU: Muslims cannot continue to piggy-back on others, but need to excel by acquiring knowledge and skills while maintaining good values and correct beliefs.

Second Minister of Planning and Resource Management and Minister of Public Utilities Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hassan said in fact Muslims are required to be educated in accordance with what Islam is.

“It is compulsory for Muslims to keep on learning and improving using all disciplines of knowledge,” said Awang Tengah when speaking on behalf of Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud during Maulidur Rasul state-level celebration at the civic centre here yesterday.

“In today’s context, even though Prophet Muhammad has passed away more than 1,400 years ago his presence in the hearts of Muslims is still fresh when they practise what he taught,” he said.

He said the prophet’s Islam was ‘Ad-din’; it taught believers to be positive, dynamic, proactive, creative and innovative, which in the end made Muslims the best humans respected by friends and foes.

However, before that can happen in today’s world, Muslims have to be strong in every aspect, and strategic plans have to be prepared based on relevant visions and missions suited to current reality, and the very basis of these is the mastering of knowledge, he said.

When opportunities come their way, Muslims ought to take them intelligently in order to work towards success in their chosen field of endeavours.

“Nowadays, knowledge has become more complex and is a commodity that assists humans to progress and as assurance of survival in a competitive world,” he said.

Knowledge is powerful for civilisation building as proven during the golden era of Islamic civilisation which produced many thinkers such as Ibnu Khaldun, Ibnu Sina, Al-Farabi, and Khawarizmi.

Going backward, he said throughout the history of Islam, Allah did not help or change the lives of people who rejected transformation.

“Success and excellence, however, can be achieved when Muslims abide by Islamic teachings; master the latest and highest class of knowledge; try their very best and always preserve their unity,” he said.

Head of State Tun Datuk Patinggi Abang Muhammad Salahuddin Abang Barieng and wife Toh Puan Datuk Patinggi Norkiah, Sarawak Islamic Council chairman Datu Putit Matzen, and Sarawak Islamic Religious Department director Datu Misnu Taha were among those present at the event.

The organising chairman of the event is Datuk Daud Abdul Rahman who is also the Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department (Islamic Affairs) while the co-chairman is Bintulu Resident Dr Razali Abon.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Housing utilities soon for Japanese poly-silicon maker at Samalaju

BINTULU: Utilities for a temporary housing estate will soon be put in place in Samalaju within the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (SCORE) industrial area as Japan’s Tokuyama company is scheduled to start building its plant in the area in July next year.

Bintulu Development Authority (BDA) general manager Mohidin Ishak said it was important to provide all infrastructural facilities such as electricity and water supplies and drainage system early.

Disclosing this during an ‘Inter-Agency Networking Hi Tea’ at Kidurong Club here on Thursday, he said a temporary housing estate was among the vital infrastructure as it would accommodate some 3, 400 of the workers who will build a poly-silicon plant.

“We expect the plant to be completed within two years,” said Mohidin in a talk about proposals and all related construction works in the industrial estate in a programme hosted by the Royal Malaysian Customs Bintulu.

Apart from the polysilicon plant, there will also be an aluminium smelter plant in the area.
Mohidin said the 200,000ha plant area would have various infra-structural facilities for which RM10 million allocated under the Ninth Malaysia Plan had been used by BDA for clearing and cleaning it up.

The development of Samalaju would cover 6,000ha of industrial estate land and 1,000ha for Samalaju town.

“We expect around 50,000 people to reside in the area when it has been fully developed. For them, BDA has to provide sufficient public amenities such as a school and housing estate,” said Mohidin.

According to him, they would advertise the project tenders and quotations in the coming months.

“Water treatment and energy plants are among the facilities to be built in Samalaju,” he added.

Mohidin was optimistic that more projects would enter the area soon, and if the target of making Bintulu an industrial city was achieved, it would become one of the busiest places in the state and expand the economy growth of nearby areas.

He pointed out that BDA was the state government’s project implementer of infrastructural facilities in Samalaju, adding that BDA had an experience of almost 30 years of developing Kidurong industrial estate, and would build more areas for heavy industries and a port under the Samalaju master plan in 20 years

Taekwondo can build up one’s confidence, self-esteem: Deputy dean

BINTULU: Participating in sports’ activities like taekwondo for example, is not just for fitness exercise but it can also build up one’s confidence and self-esteem.

“Self-esteem is an important factor for everyone, particularly students, to excel not only in sports but also in their lives,” said Universiti Putra Malaysia Bintulu campus (UPMKB) Students Affairs acting deputy dean Dr Daud Awang.

Dr Daud said self-esteem can be obtained and nurtured, starting from their involvement in sports’ activities be it in school or in university.

He said this when officiating at the closing of the Poomsae Taekwondo 2009 competition at UPMKB here recently.

The competition was organised by the university’s Students’ Affairs Department in collaboration with the Sarawak Taekwondo Federation.

He also said that the competition was a good platform for the young taekwondo exponents to develop their skills and talents in the martial art.

“This is where our young exponents can shape their talents by representing their particular schools, and opportunities for them will come later to represent the division, state or national levels,” said Dr Daud.

A total of nine secondary schools from Bintulu, Sibu and Miri, including the UPMKB, fielded their exponents for the two-day competition. The schools are SMK Tiong Hin Sibu, SMK Bandar Bintulu, SMK Sungai Merah Sibu, SM Kai Dee, SMK Tatau, SMK Chung Hua Miri, SMK Sacred Heart and SMK Chung Hua Sibu.

“On our part as an organiser, we are trying to introduce the sport for fitness among our own students but we are also hoping that others, particularly the school students here will know more about our university.

“We are trying to promote good relationships between the schools here and our university,” said Dr Daud, adding that in the future, UPMKB will hold similar events as a continuous effort.

He also said UPMKB had organised a similar event last year - Silat Borneo competition - which aimed to promote goodwill among the UPMKB and the community, particularly the students.

The overall winner for the competition on Sunday was SMK Tiong Hin, Sibu followed by SMK Bandar Bintulu and SMK Sungai Merah, Sibu.

The trophies were handed over by Dr Daud. Also present at the event was its Students’ Affairs division head Din Ayup.

Customs Dept scores another big success

MAJOR SEIZURE: Ahmad (centre) shows the media the confiscated beer flanked by Yussuf (left) and Suruji.

BINTULU: The Customs Department (Preventive division) here scored another big success with the seizure of smuggled items worth RM502,882 with unpaid taxes of RM1,338,697 so far this year.

Speaking to reporters at a press conference here yesterday, Customs deputy director (Preventive Department) Ahmad @ Daud Jii said among the items seized were beer, cigarettes, electrical goods and heavy machinery parts.

He said the cases were solved through joint efforts of Customs preventive officers from Kuching and here.

Ahmad said that acting on information received, the enforcement officers raided a premises in Sungai Nyigu and found contraband cigarettes and beers of various brands.
The seized items were worth RM250,000, with unpaid taxes of RM1.2 million.

“The case is being investigated,” Ahmad told reporters at the Customs office here yesterday.

The station officer in-charge Yussuf Drahman and its preventive department chief Suruji Sahmat were among those present at the press conference.

Ahmad went on to say that on Feb 25, Customs preventive officers from Kuching went to a premises at Km10 Jalan Bintulu-Miri and seized 367 cartons of Tsingtao beer worth RM7,506 with unpaid taxes of RM40,971.83.

He also disclosed that on the same day, enforcement officers from Kuching and here searched another premises at the Sibiyu Industrial Estate and seized 161 cartons of Stella Artois beer and 255 cartons of Oranjeboom Premium Lager beer worth RM9,944 with unpaid taxes of RM47,555.

On Jan 24, two 49-foot containers were seized at Bintulu Port, which on inspection, turned out to contain items different from that were stated in the manifest.

In one of the containers were found electrical items worth RM121,032 with unpaid taxes worth RM38,730.

According to the manifest the container was supposed to contain iron stove, cooker hood, empty seamless steel cylinders, water purifier and stainless steel faucets.

The second container contained bulldozer spare parts worth RM114,399 with unpaid taxes of RM11,439.

It was supposed to contain fuel filter, steel ball valves, air compressors and high temperature transformers.

All the items were impounded under Section 114 of Customs Act 1967.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

State-level Maulidur Rasul in Bintulu

BINTULU: A total of 2,050 contingents with 12,000 participations are expected to take part in a grand state-level Maulidur Rasul procession here on the morning of March 9.

Assistant Minister in the Chief Minister’s office (Islamic Affairs), Datuk Daud Abdul Rahman said the celebration is hosted on a rotation basis with Sibu hosting it last year.

Besides the gathering and procession, other activities related to the celebration will be also be organised for March 8 to 9.

This was revealed to reporters during a media conference chaired by him yesterday at the Resident’s Office here.

Daud who is also the chairman for the celebration added that nine events have been listed to mark the celebration themed "Wahdah Pemangkin Khaira Ummah".

The gathering and procession will start at 6.30am at Dewan Suarah.

He said the Head of State, Tun Datuk Patinggi Abang Muhammad Salahuddin Abang Barieng and wife, Toh Puan Datuk Patinggi Norkiah have confirmed their attendance.

Also expected to be present are Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and wife Datuk Amar Puan Sri Laila Taib, cabinet Ministers, MPs and state assembly members.

The launching of the State level Bulan Dakwah will be on March 8 at the Dewan Suarah.

Among the events that evening will be a religious talk and Zikir Maulid to be held at the Masjid Assyakirin.

Other activities include a religious forum, talks for women, berambeh, an elocution contest as well as a zikir competition.

"We are urging all the youths throughout the state to gather here in Bintulu to hear the talks. We have also invited a popular singer, Ramli Sarip who will sing songs with the dakwah elements," said Daud.

He also hoped that non-Muslim would be joining them in the gathering.

Increase in the number of complaints: MACC

BINTULU: Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA), now known as Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, (MACC) had shown an increase in the number of complaints last year compared to the previous year.

In 2008, there were a total of 104 complaints, an increase of 21 compared to 2007.

Two government servants in this division had been arrested under the ACA Act 1987. This was revealed by the director of the state MACC, Samsiah Abu Bakar during a media conference after the handover of duty by the assistant director who is also the head of MACC Bintulu branch, Senior Supt Mohamed Husin to senior supt Zulhairy Zaidel at the MACC conference room here yesterday.

Samsiah said the increase in the number of complaints received was due to the awareness and cooperation given by the public who had come forward to provide the commission with information related to corruption.

She admitted that there were some in the public who were afraid of the ACA, but with the new name MACC, such fear would be discarded.

She also hoped more would come forward to provide information should they come across any corrupt practice taking place.

However, MACC will not entertain false information aimed at tarnishing or defaming others.
“We will take the information and investigate it thoroughly with fairness,” said Samsiah.

Meanwhile, she said an Indonesian man in his 40s was arrested here on Jan 1 this year and charged under the MACC Act 2009. He had admitted to corrupt practice in court.

“The man was sentenced to 19 days in prison and fined RM10,000 or five months’ jail,” she said, adding that MACC will act accordingly not only against receivers of bribes but the givers as well.

She also admitted that the cooperation rendered by the police to MACC had somehow enlightened the investigations.

Samsiah also announced that MACC Bintulu branch will soon be having its own complex equipped with an office and quarters to be located along Tanjung Kidurong Road.

The project which cost RM60 million had been approved by the government under the 9MP and work on it is expected to start in 2011 or 2012.

Meanwhile, Mohamed Husin said the Bintulu branch was established in 2004 with a staff of 14 officers.

Zuhairy who is taking over duty from Mohamed hoped that all government heads of departments at state and federal levels would give their full cooperation in curbing corruption.

Mohamed who hails from Terengganu will head a MACC Unit in Kuching while Zuhairy who hails from Negri Sembilan will be the MACC Bintulu branch head.

Assistant director of the state MACC, Mohamad Nor Ali and MACC Miri branch head Ibrahim Ali and senior officers were among those present.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Free internet acces for Penan Muslim village

BINTULU: Residents of a Penan Muslim village at Mile 10 Bintulu-Miri road will soon enjoy free Internet access through a ‘community broadband centre project’.

The project, which would commence probably on April 1, will house 20 units of personal computers for use by the people in the village.

The project is implemented by the government through an initiative taken by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission.

Telekom Malaysia Berhad will implement he project under a series of programme called ‘Pemberian Perkhidmatan Sejagat’.

It is learnt that the project is the first one being implemented especially in providing ICT services to people in the remote areas, and was the first one initiated in the village.

According to the chaorman of the village security and development committee (JKKK) Raini Pie, it was timely for the villagers to have such services.

There’s market for traditional cuisine, says Talib

WELL-DONE: Talib (third left) presents a certificate while Jamaluddin (second left) looks on.

BINTULU: Traditional cuisine is close to the people’s heart and certain food brings back fond memories to some people, especially lovers of traditional food.

Saying this was chairman of Sarawak Economic Development Corporation (SEDC) Datuk Talib Zulpilip when officiating at the closing of a two-day ‘food preparation and traditional cook demonstration course’ which was participated by 29 people at Medan Niaga Jepak recently.

It was organised by SEDC. Entrepreneurs who dare to prepare and sell traditional cuisine would reap a handsome profit because there is demand for their product, given the huge market out there.

“Working people in particular have little time to cook at home, and therefore would likely turn to food cooked by others especially if the food is cooked as if its their mother’s doing.

“This is common in big cities such as Kuala Lumpur where the residents are always busy but when it comes to eating they like food prepared the traditional way.

“Hygiene also plays a big part in attracting customers,” Talib told participants.

He reminded players in the food industry to emphasise consistency.

“Consistency is vital in the long run and to regular customers. Products that are easily obtained, served on time, and are priced affordably, are likely to receive good patronage,” he said.

Hence, he hoped the knowledge gained from the course could help participants develop their business.

SEDC director (entrepreneur development) Jamaluddin Mohd Yusuf was among those present.

Hotels distributes free lunch sets to taxi drivers

THANK You: Mohd Saffri (left) hands over a lunch set to Simon

BINTULU: Regency Plaza Hotel here recently organized an appreciation campaign during which lunch sets were distributed to taxi drivers in the division to thank them for contributing to the hotel industry. The event held in front of the hotel from 11am to 1pm was officiated by its manager Mohd Saffri Haron. Around 150 taxi drivers took part. Also present were Bintulu Taxi Association chairman Simon Alan and its secretary Peter Gena.