The year that was 2 VEN if you don’t believe in the 2012 phenomenon, the fact that this year has seen the worst nuclear E disaster since Chernobyl following the 9.1 magnitude earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan, wave upon wave of protests and riots in North Africa beginning in Tunisia in Dec 17, 2010, earthquakes
in Christchurch, New Zealand, the topple of dictators and dictatorships around the world, as well as the recent US pullout from Iraq, it’s obvious that the world as we know it is changing. The fi rst half of this Yearender issue recognises that life and living is cyclical rather than linear. It focuses on conservation, restoration, the people that have been game-changers and newsmakers, and the life and liveliness that exemplifies Sarawak’s resilient spirit. A particularly heartening story is how the residents of Belaga’s Sungai Asap settlement find and create life in the still waters above their submerged longhouse. We examine how the saltwater crocodile has thrived, in the face of a world where everything but humanity faces extinction. And we appreciate how the Lutong River, long a problem for the residents who used to depend on it, is slowly seeing gradual improvement in its waters. We say goodbye to the bastions of Sarawak’s political history, Datuk Amar James Wong and Datuk Seri Tra Zehnder. We also say goodbye to children’s author Margaret Lim, without whom we would not have the stories of the fearless little Kayan girl, Payah. While Sarawak has also had its share of tragedies like the death of plucky Miri teenager Tiffany
Wong, other issues have dominated the headlines this year, from the proposed abolishment of the controversial ISA, the Obedient Wives Club to the down-to-earth disgruntlement we have with the iron-railings in and around Kuching. We have also had our great triumphs, more notably in the sports arena like evergreens Brian Nickson Lomas and Pandelela Rinong. The year’s political game-changers will be examined in-depth, as we look forward to the general elections which could happen as early as the fi rst quarter of next year. Prince William’s marriage to Catherine Middleton softened the hardest of hearts as everybody, old and young, stopped to watch the wedding of the decade since his own mother’s in 1981. This year saw the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, as well as Osama bin Laden’s death at the hands of American special forces at an estate in Pakistan. This year has also marked the close of decades-long rule for dictators like Muammar Gaddafi and even the supreme leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-il as he passed away from a heart attack on Dec 17 leaving behind a long-repressed and devastated North Korea behind. Meanwhile people like Elizabeth Taylor, the troubled yet talented Amy Winehouse, and the man who will forever change the way people connect and interact, Steve Jobs, have left legacies that few will ever be able to replace. As we turn the pages of this Yearender, we say goodbye to a year that has upset the status quo, and look forward to a year where anything can happen.
Saturday, December 31, 2011
HIGHLIGHTS 2011 CREDITS EDITORIAL Phyllis Wong Francis Chan Margaret Apau Karen Bong
Noramfaizul’s shooting, repeal of ISA among highlights of 2011
GRAPHIC DESIGNERS Gregory A. Tan Nurhazwan Afiq Ismail Spencer Jimson Leonard Michael Merni Izzudin Datuk Ajibah Abol Harry Ilias Irene Chung Zairizi Mohamad Noriezam Brahman Shelly Tan WRITERS Anasathia Jenis Cecilia B. Sman Churchill Edward Conny Banji Danny Wong Francis Chan Gary Adit Ghaz Ghazali Geryl Ogilvy Ruekeith Jacqueline Raphael Joanna Yap Johnson K. Saai Karen Bong Margaret Ringgit Norni Mahadi Peter Sibon Ting Tieng Hee Philip Kiew Raymond Tan Wilfred Pilo Wilson Kong
Saturday, December 31, 2011
SAD HOME-COMING: The Prime Minister and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor were present among those to receive the remains of BernamaTV cameraman Noramfaizul upon its arrival at the Royal Malaysian Air Force base in Subang from Mogadishu, Somalia.
THE media became the news in 2011, with the shooting of BernamaTV cameraman Noramfaizul Mohd Nor on Sept 2 in Mogadishu, Somalia, while covering a humanitarian mission, making headlines across the nation. The tragedy occurred on the fourth day of Aidilfitri and was the fi rst to have happened to a media practitioner in the country, highlighting the need for a standard operating procedure (SOP) for media personnel who are sent to cover conflicts and other risky assignments. Among them were the need for journalists, photographers and cameramen to be supplied with safety gear such as a bullet proof vest, besides providing them with a special insurance coverage. The government also expressed its readiness to provide training for members of the media to make them better prepared for the risks ahead. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak hailed Noramfaizul, 39, as a national hero and was at the Royal Malaysian Air Force base in Subang when the cameraman’s body was flown in. — Bernama
All hype, no Red Rally INSPIRED by Bersih 2.0, Movement for Change Sarawak (MOCs) planned a rally themed ‘A walk for democracy and reforms’ in Kuching on August 13. Dubbed the ‘Red Rally’, which would have seen protestors wear red shirts, MOCs leader Francis Siah announced that they planned to gather at Padang
Merdeka or Kuching waterfront and then walk to either Reservoir Park or the Museum Grounds where they would issue a 10-point declaration. Siah said that he would apply for a police permit for the event and assured the police that the rally would be peaceful. The rally would be called off on the day.
SARAWAK’S LITERARY LEGACY: Author of Sarawak-based children’s books, Margaret H Lim (1947-2011).
Sad farewell SARAWAKIAN childrens’ book author Margaret H Lim passed away in Leer, Germany after a long battle with cancer. Lim authored five children’s books — ‘Payah’, ‘Four Eyes’, Precious Jade & Turnip Head’, ‘Nonah or The Ghost of Gunung Mulu’ and ‘Jump Bilun Jump’ as well as many short stories. ‘Nonah’ the last of her Payah rainforest adventure series, was placed on the IBBY Conference and Books for Young People in Santiago de Compostela, Spain in 2010. Lim was also invited to represent Malaysia at the Asian Festival of Children’s (Book) Content in Singapore in the same year, In recognition of her contributions, Lim was included in the Sarawak Women’s Museum in 2007 and was also nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial in 2008. Lim was born on June 23, 1947 in Kuching, shortly after World War II. She attended St Theresa’s Primary and Secondary Schools and later did Form 6 at St. Joseph’s Secondary School. After obtaining a degree in English Literature from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, Lim completed a degree in Education at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario. She later taught Shakespeare, Thomas Hardy and William Golding at Marudi Secondary School.
BROADENING HORIZONS: The Nasi Lemak 2.0 poster, an independent film Namewee starred in and directed.
I’m back: Nasi Lemak 2.0 SINGER-SONGWRITER Namewee, who fi rst created controversy with a video clip parodying ‘Negaraku’ in 2007, created headlines this year when he starred in and directed his fi rst movie, Nasi Lemak 2.0.
The independent fi lm was shot for a budget of under RM1 mil and features a tight crew made up of a multicultural cast which include Adibah Noor, Karen Kong, Afdlin Shauki, Kenny and Chee, Reshmonu, Dennis Lau, Nur Fathia, Nadine
Well done Datuk Fatimah REFORMS RECOMMENDED: The Prime Minister’s Malaysia Day message on Sept 15 included a slew of reforms which also included the proposal to abolish the Internal Security Act (ISA) 1960 and relaxed laws on media control.
Special Malaysia Day message IN-BETWEEN the slew of reforms spelled out by Najib in his Malaysia Day message on Sept 15, he also announced a comprehensive review of the Printing Presses and Publication Act 1984. It includes among others the abolition of the annual licence for the print media and replacing it with the issuance of a licence until it is revoked — a move hailed by industry players, with the National Union of Journalists describing it as ‘a giant and meaningful step’. Najib said that the move was a recognition of the government
for the role played by the media in the country’s march towards a modern, liberal and progressive nation. The prime minister acknowledged that the media should be free and that the freedom had been accorded to them through the move to abolish the annual licence renewal. Speaking at a media night event here recently, Najib told them however that, in exercising their freedom, they should also be mindful of their responsibility to the society. — Bernama
THE MINISTER in the Chief Minister’s Department received the well-earned title of ‘Datuk’ when she was finally conferred the ‘Panglima Gemilang Bintang Kenyalang’ (PGBK) award at an investiture ceremony held at the Lapau of the Dewan Undangan Negeri (DUN) Complex on Sept 24. Newly decorated Datuk Fatimah Abdullah, who is also second-time Dalat assemblywoman said that it was “an honour for not only me but also all Sarawakian women.” The award recognises the Minister in Welfare, Women and Family Development’s contributions to furthering women’s welfare and improving state education. A GREAT HONOUR: Fatimah and husband Datu Dr Adi Badiozaman Tuah admiring her Panglima Gemilang Bintang Kenyalang medal.
Thomas, Pete Teo, Ho Yuhang, Dian Sharlin and Felixia Yap. The movie explores Malaysia’s multicultural identity through one of its eponymous dishes, the nasi lemak. The fi lm was released in theatres on Sept 8.
Saturday, December 31, 2011
Royal touch at historical Baram Regatta by Philip Kiew
Bidding a fond farewell to our state’s pioneers by Francis Chan
THIS year saw the end of a political era with the passing of the last two members of the pre-Malaysia Council Negeri Datuk Amar James Wong Kim Min and Datuk Seri Tra Zehnder. They were not only the longest surviving members of the British colonial State Legislative Council and the pioneer members of the Sarawak Undangan Negri in 1963, but also among the most vocal and colourful leaders of their time — larger than life figures in the political arena of the fledging nation Malaysia from the 60s to the 70s. While Wong was a born politician directly involved in the formation of Malaysia as a member of the Malaysia Consultative Council going on to be a deputy chief minister of the state, Tra was never comfortable in politics, she was a reluctant politician. However, like Wong, she played a key role in the formation of Malaysia, going down to the ground to explain to the Ibans the need for Sarawak to join the other states in forming the new nation. We can only wonder how far Tra would have gone in politics if she had chosen to seriously pursue a political career but her true calling was to help her people as a community leader and her foray into politics was a necessary step for her to voice the grievances and hopes of her people. She succeeded very well on both counts. Among her biggest admirers was Wong who mentioned her speech in the fi rst
chapter of the last book he wrote before his death ‘Memories of Speeches made at the Council Negeri 1960-2001’. Tra scored many ‘fi rsts’ in her life as a politician and community leader — the two that stood out were being the fi rst woman member of the Council Negeri in 1960 and the fi rst woman to be appointed Temenggong in 1988 after she quit active politics. Arguably Tra’s biggest contribution to her community was the appointment of a day to celebrate a Dayak festival. She brought up the issue at the Council Negeri meeting on March 7, 1961 and it was that speech which Wong chose to begin his book with: Mrs Tra Zehnder: “What steps have been taken by the government to implement the proposal to declare a specific day as a Dayak National or Festival Day since this matter has been thoroughly discussed by District councillors throughout the country and over Radio Sarawak.” It took a lot of spunk for a diminutive Iban lady to speak up for her people in the company of the colonial masters and top local citizens. While the colonial acting deputy Chief Secretary who presided over the sitting had agreed with her proposal, it was not until 1965 that June 1 was gazetted as a holiday called ‘Gawai Dayak’. Wong’s political career spanning from 1956 to 2001 was more tumultuous than Tra’s, peaking as the state deputy chief
minister in the early sixties and plunging to the depth of detention for two years under the Internal Security Act in 1974. Wong quit active politics in 2001, devoting much of his time to his business, writing and his favourite past-time — golf. He was also a prolific writer, publishing several books on his life, political career and a collection of poems. The three books that he wrote which stood out were ‘ No Joke James’ about his early years centering around his father, ‘Price of Loyalty’ on his years under detention and the last book he published before he died, ‘Memories’. There was never a book about Tra until Dr Hew Cheng Sim collaborated with Rokiah Talib to write her autobiography which was launched July 13 this year, barely two weeks before she died at the age of 84 on July 22. Appropriately the book was entitled ‘Tra Zehnder – Iban Woman Patriot of Sarawak.’ We must be thankful to the two authors for it gives as an intriguing account of Tra’s life and an important aspect of Sarawak’s history which could have been lost forever. In his later years when he was the last man standing among the members of the Malaysia Solidarity Consultative Committee Wong used to joke that he was the ‘last of the Mohicans’, alluding to a Native American tribe wiped out by white settlers in America. He died a few days
3. EXEMPLARY: Tra will always be remembered for her dedication to civic duty, public spirit, and devoted service. 4. BORN POLITICIAN: Wong played a key role in the formation of Malaysia as a member of the Malaysia Consultative Council going on to be a deputy chief minister of the state.
Datuk Ursula Goh an outstanding female role model by Norni Mahadi
EVEN though many people think about doing charitable work, not many of them perform it with all their heart and serve with the sincerity of a true Samaritan. For anybody who joins a charitable organisation or volunteers in social work, they should be proud of themselves for their contributions towards creating a loving and compassionate society. Datuk Ursula Goh, a woman with an outstanding personality has been actively involved in various woman-related charitable works without any outside political influence. At the splendid age of 73, Goh has paved an exemplary life that inspires others to follow. Goh has gained local, national and international recognition for her great contributions towards women development.
2. SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY: Answering the phone at her office as Head of Majlis Adat Istiadat in 1997 when she was 71 years old.
Woman with heart
2.TREE PLANTING: Wife of head of state Toh Puan Datuk Patinggi Hajah Norkiah planting a fragrant tree, assisted by Ursula (middle) and a member of SFWI during the launching of the institute new building on May 5, 2009.
5.URSULA: A symbol of pride for Sarawak.
1. AN HONOUR: Receiving the Bintang Bentara Sarawak in 1976 for services rendered.
1.DOWN MEMORY LANE: Ursula (fifth left) is attending the ACWW Triennial Conference in London, in the 1980s.
4.SPECTACULAR VISIT: Ursula (fifth left) is posing with the ACWW delegates while visiting the Puncak foothill of Cianjur in Jakarta on 1994.
short of his 89th birthday on July 18. Wong’s remarkable life as politician, businessman, writer and family man in some ways mirrored Tra’s for she was an outstanding politician despite her reluctance to be one and was a wonderful mother although she never ventured into business or wrote a book. Their deaths just a few days apart brought the curtain down on a political era of the state — a time when hopes were new and men and women such as them rose to the challenge of fulfi lling the dreams of a newborn nation.
3.WOMAN ICON:The new building of Miri/Bintulu Division SFWI is a symbol of pride to the women institution.
Saturday, December 31, 2011
Background Born on June 2, 1937, the grandmother of four grandchildren hails from Penampang, Sabah. She was co-founder of Sarawak Federation of Women’s Institute (SFWI) for Miri/Lutong in year 1965, and is its life member. She has been advisor to SFWI and the Consumer’s Association, member of Marriage Tribunal Miri, advisor to Magistrate Juvenile Court Miri in 2002, council member and chairman of Sarawak Family Planning Association, and chairman of board of visitors Taman Seri Puteri Miri from 1981 to 2001. In 1982, she was awarded a SFWI gold medal for outstanding contribution. On the international scene, she has served three terms as area president of the Associated Country Women of The World (ACWW) for South East Asia and the Far East in the 1980s. She was chairman of the project committee from 1989 to 1992. From 1998 to 2001, she served as coordinator for the East, West and Central Africa area. The programmes she was involved in and conducted were mainly on women’s development and empowerment programmes. She received recognition by being elected world president of ACWW in year 2004. The datukship, one of the country’s highest decorations was given in recognition of her contribution to the government, the community as a whole and her work with nongovernmental organisations (NGOs). Her latest achievement was being named Outstanding Volunteer by Federation of Reproductive Health Association Malaysia in year 2010.
Woman of distinction Being listed among the 200 female role models in the biography of prominent Malaysian women was not something she would boast of. The humble and down-toearth lady continues with her mission to help needy women develop their capacity building to the maximum. The recent outgoing ACWW world president for the second term of 2007/2010 was a council member of the international organisation. “It is my interest to be actively involved in the women-related association. It is very hard for me to explain my interest because women’s association was part of my life in the last four decades,” she said. Ursula said involvement in ACWW had helped in her community voluntary work. Travelling to various countries had opened her eyes besides giving her valuable experience. Apart from visiting women’s projects under ACWW, she has provided guidance on how to improve women’s standard of living, particularly those residing in rural areas, through education, training and community development projects. Her tenure as world president was a tough challenge, she admitted. But the various global challenges have not set her down. Instead she took the challenge and subscribe to the principle of understanding, respecting, being open-minded and tolerant. Commenting on women of today, she said they had been given gender equality and play an important role in development. She said the effort to empower women through organising programmes for them is vital for them to contribute economically and socially. And they do this by playing a significant role in the development of their families, besides making tangible contributions to national development.
Saturday, December 31, 2011
TIMES A-CHANGING: Paddling power and strategies build the scene on the Baram River on Sept 30 to Oct 2 in the Baram Regatta 2011.
Royal touch at historical Baram Regatta by Philip Kiew
WHAT started off as a peacemaking ceremony between the upper Rejang Madang Kayans/Ulu Tinjar Lirong and the Kayans and Kenyah of Ulu Baram under Claude De Cristigny’s residency on July 19, 1899 in Marudi (known then as Claude after its resident), the Baram Regatta has become a momentous occasion marked by a first-ever visit by HRH Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah this year. Today, Marudi town is over 129 years old and the visit by the Sultan of Brunei, Sarawak Head of State Tun Datuk Patinggi Mohummad Salahuddin, Chief Minister of Sarawak Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and a coterie of dignitaries at Baram Regatta 2011 underscored her place in significance and history. Taib pointed out that progress was a process of change with pros and cons, and that it was vital to balance greater wealth with intrinsic values of peace, harmony and unity to enable the people to realise their potential. “Hold on to the legacy of Baram over 100 years ago, where the peace-making regatta has spread throughout the state and Kalimantan, ending tribal warfare and unleashing a new leadership and efforts towards attaining peace and happiness instead of fighting, ” he said. On Baram Regatta, he said it was important for corporations to give their support to the event which is part of the bigger picture of promoting progress and heritage of Baram and her people. A crowd of over 10,000 turned up to watch the 1Malaysia Cultural Night held at the town square while the streets were spilling over with people, a mixture of those from outside Marudi and locals, thronging the 180 stalls ringing the town. The Baram Beauty Queen contest, cultural performances and songs lit up the town for the second consecutive night of Baram Regatta celebrations. This is the cultural heart of Sarawak's highland and upriver tribesfolk, collectively called Orang Ulu. The unmistakable rich tapestry of cultural diversity, striking colourful traditional costumes in this digital era, graceful dance steps of performers, talents competition and Baram Regatta beauty queen competition is one heady mix when night falls. Organising chairman Datuk Sylvester Entri Muran, who is also Assistant Minister of Public Utilities (Water Supplies) and Marudi state assemblyman, said the Baram Regatta is the best platform to showcase the cultural uniqueness of her people. Side events started as early as Sept 30, but the opening of the 104th edition of the Baram Regatta was officiated by Head of State on Oct 1. True to tradition, the sky opened up for a heavy downpour as soon as the event was declared open by putting of a traditional knot string calendar on the holder. The 1Malaysia Cultural Night was a cultural delight
Hold on to the legacy of Baram over 100 years ago, where the peacemaking regatta has spread throughout the state and Kalimantan, ending tribal warfare and unleashing a new leadership and efforts towards attaining peace and happiness instead of fighting. Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, Chief Minister
while Baram Idol competition also produced performers who caught the attention of recording studios. The climax of the Baram Regatta celebration was the buzz from the visiting Brunei Sultan who personally flew in a Blackhawk helicopter to Marudi to a warm welcome by the people of Sarawak and Marudi on Oct 2. The sporting and friendly monarch went on to a floating stage, powered by paddle power, accompanied by a decorative boat parade before proceeding to flag off the HRH Challenge Trophy race making its debut in the Baram Regatta, adding a royal milestone to this historical event.
i (right) of Brune n a lt u S H ) and HR ated left engah and Asfia. e s ( d u m h ,T bscured) l Taib Ma Sri Abdu w, Jabu, Entri (o in h e P r te Ya ief Minis ner Troy awak Ch m left) yatch ow r a S : T I natives marked the end of years IS fro ROYAL V with (standing C I R O of headhunting enmity and T e S HI ruis a river c called for a grand celebration and people of Sarawak and enjoying and birth of Baram Regatta. Brunei and has shown how Penghulu Sba Ira represented far the town has come from its The excitement and genuine the Madangs, Penghulu Tama humble roots. warmth of the people in Marudi Aping Bui Ding for the Lirongs As an administrative that day was unmistakable as while Tama Oding Siong and headquarters, Claude Town's many rushed to catch a glimpse Tama Ding for the Kenyahs first two rows of wooden of the dashing royal visitor and the Kayans of Baram shophouses were built in 1889, while the lucky ones managed respectively. followed two years later by the to shake hands with royalty in It was said that not less than setting up of a dispensary and the streets of Marudi, giving 10,000 Kayans, Kenyahs, Kiput, two schools- Dato Sharif Hamid them a lifetime bragging right Narum, Madangs, and other Primary School and the Good of coming face to face with the natives came to watch 1,000 Sheperd Primary School. Sultan of Brunei in their humble paddlers battle it out in 16 war The first oil find in Malaysia town. boats over a distance of three was made here in July 1882. The royal visit to Marudi and half miles. It was renamed Marudi when started with Second Minister However, it was the Narums the residency was moved to Miri of Planning and Resource who stole the thunder, emerging following the discovery of oil Management and Minister of eventual victors, taking 15 there in 1909. Public Utilities Datuk Amar minutes and 10 seconds to beat While the name of Claude Awang Tengah Ali Hasan the Kiputs and the Mureks town and past Residents of leading a delegation to extend to second and third spots Fourth Division passed into the official invitation from respectively. annals of history, Baram Sarawak in an audience granted Today, the scene has not Regatta lives on, courtesy of the by HRH on Sept 14 this year. changed much although the significance in the historical HRH’s consent to gracing setting is different in modern peace-making of the 1899. the century-old Baram Regatta Baram regattas. The truce, under the watchful was an honour for the state and Back then, longboats could sit eyes of Resident Claude and people of Baram, underlining up to 100 rowers. District Officer Charles Hose the close bi-lateral and social The ferocious roar of battleon April 9-10, 1899, between the relationship between leaders
SIGHT TO BEHOLD: A floating stage powered by paddlers for the visiting Sultan of Brunei and graceful dance from boats accompanying this entourage.
TRADITION: Long earlobes Orang UIu ladies adjusting their costume while waiting for the VIPs arrival. hardened warriors as they pounded the water with their paddles was a scene that dwarfs present-day boats engineered for competition instead of shooting rapids. The celebration of Baram Regatta is also a time of reflection of how far Baram has come since the first regatta was held. The paddling races are now augmented with a host of other events, ranging from power boat races to remote controlled miniature boat races which brings the great Baram River alive. Instead of paddling races confined to tribes of Baram River and her tributaries, the Regatta is now open to participants from as far as Sungai Asap in Bakun, Sibuti, Saratok and Kuching- making it battle of brawn of Sarawak instead of just Baram basin. The age-old tradition of mixing brawn with some spiritual assistance is also kicking and alive for some teams where winning races is also taken as a mission and a matter of pride. Either for psychological boost or scare, it is believed
by some teams that it could be an advantage when the fight is neck-to-neck to the finishing line where photo-finish decision is now the norm. Power boat racers from Brunei Darussalam, Kuching and Kanowit also headed to Marudi for a showdown while spectators lined the river banks and the hill overlooking the river where competition heated up the atmosphere. Every Baram Regatta in Marudi sees the influx of people of Baram, visitors and tourists from all over. Even with camps of competing contingents dotting the banks of the Baram River, the problem of insufficient accommodation has always been a niggling headache for both the organiser and visitors alike. Hotels and lodging houses were filled to the brim, while others had to bunk up with friends and relatives. For representatives of government agencies, some had to stay in longhouses outside the town or in Malay villages as the royal visit drew all the top drawer state leaders to town. This scene is synonymous with Baram Regatta.
SAD SIGHT: Logs and debris clogged the river mouth before Project Care was started.
Saturday, December 31, 2011
STILL A LONG WAY TO GO: Clear of logs but the quality of the river is still not fit for domestic use and human consumption.
Reviving Miri’s Lutong River by Jacqueline Raphael and Cecelia B Sman
RIVERS are a source of life, providing people with a means of transportation, irrigation for agriculture, a source of food and electrical power. Unfortunately, the rivers’ natural function as drainage also provide a too-easy conduit for the discharge of domestic, commercial, industrial and agricultural effluents. The barely eight kilometres Lutong River in Miri Resort City, has been victim to a combination of devastating natural forces and human activities. Penghulu Ahmad Rahman, a resident from Kampong Pangkalan Lutong said the area as far as Sungai Tujuh, Kuala Baram was once opened up for paddy planting and rubber until the late 1960s, after which the area was opened up for development including housing, and industrial area as well as oil and gas industry. “I used to follow my father fishing and hunting in this area, not only could we easily catch the different species of fresh water fishes, but also could easily trap five mouse-deer in a day,” he recalled. After the area was opened up to industry in the 70s, the Lutong River became increasingly polluted. So much so, that Sirumbi Ibrahim, a resident of Kampong Haji Ibrahim Batu 1 recalls how the Lutong River used to be so badly polluted with grease and oil that a villager accidentally set the river on fire. “Because it was full of oil, the fire moved from downstream and further up, and personnel from Shell had a hard time putting out the fire.” Statistics from the Natural Resources and Environment
Board’s (NREB) revealed at this year’s World Rivers Day that the Lutong River was among eight of the state’s 51 main rivers classified in Class Four, which is considered as polluted. Believe it or not, this is a vast improvement from before Shell implemented its Project Care project. The Lutong River has been a longterm focus of several conservation and rehabilitation efforts under Project Care, a collaborative Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) project between Drainage and Irrigation Development (DID), Sarawak Shell Berhad (SSB) and Petronas Carigali Sdn Bhd (PCSB) that began in 2000 and was concluded late last year. Shell took on many improvement initiatives on the Lutong River under its Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) since the 80s. Malaysia has always had a special place in Shell’s history since it was in this part of the world where the Royal Dutch/ Shell Group had its beginning. Initial improvements by Shell involved the removal of old and abandoned structures such as bridges, pipe tracks, barrier logs and tree trunks. This was to maximise tidal flow and unclog bottlenecks along the river. Indigenous plant species were re-planted along the river in the mid 80’s to allow for natural tree roots to protect the river and improve the health and aesthetic of the river. Some fragmented efforts by both the authorities and the public were made to restore and rehabilitate the river but initial shore protection efforts by Shell and various government authorities had limited success at containing the erosion. There are many components to river restoration. Common efforts include focusing on stream bank
stabilisation, enhancing riparian buffers by adding trees and natural grasses, the removal of dams and other manmade structures, adding meanders, and stocking the river with fish or other living organisms. Project Care was undertaken as a flood mitigation project to address the impact of industrial activities which affected the quality of the river. In 2004, Project Care II was launched, where SSB and PCSB carried out further excavation work to remove more of the contaminant- impacted sediment. After the two excavation exercises, an environment site assessment study was carried out in 2005. The report indicated that further improvement was required. In Sept 2006, Petronas and Shell embarked on Project Care III. Its scope was to clean up the river and return it to acceptable standards. This phase of the process required dredging, dewatering, soil farming and re-vegetation. Since Project Care started, more than 26,000 trees including mangroves, nipah palms, casuarinas and other indigenous plant species were replanted along the river to rejuvenate the area’s ecosystem so that the area continues to be a safe haven for migratory and native birds. Today, the Lutong River is appreciated for its improved water quality and rejuvenated surroundings. “Lutong River is a significant landmark for Shell as its river banks were once home to the former Lutong Refinary and Miri Crude Oil Terminal which Shell used to operate,” said Shell Malaysia chairman Anuar Taib. He added that the river was not only cleaned up, the ecosystem was also wonderfully rejuvenated through the
I used to follow my father fishing and hunting in this area, not only could we easily catch the different species of fresh water fishes, but also could easily trap five mouse-deer in a day. Penghulu Ahmad Rahman, resident of Kampong Pangkalan Lutong
TOO YOUNG TO UNDERSTAND: Happy faces despite the odds.
AT LONG LAST: Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Dato Seri Douglas Uggah Embas (centre) plants a tree, marking the completion of Project Care on October, 2010. From right is Annuar, Datuk Lee Kim Shin (Assistant Minister for Communications) and Mohamed Amin Abdullah (general manager of Petronas Carigali). replanting of mangroves and other indigenous plant species. “For Shell, this project is a demonstration of our commitment towards sustainable development, in support of meeting the world’s growing need for energy in economically, socially and responsible ways,” said Anuar. Ahmad said although the current quality of the river is nothing compared to the pristine condition of the river and the surrounding area before 1950, Project Care had greatly rejuvenated the river which was badly polluted particularly after the 70s. He said after Project Care, aquatic life started coming back. However, he said the quality of the river is still not fit for domestic use. Over the years, natural protection provided by large coastal trees and other vegetation were weakened from
REJUVENATION: Penghulu Ahmad (left) and Sirumbi delighted to see marked improvement in the quality of the river.
a combination of natural forces and human activities, causing existing coastal trees and secondary vegetation along the coast to turn into low-density shrubs which offered little natural protection. The king tides have also in a way done some damage to the Lutong River where coastal sand gets deposited into the river near the Lutong river mouth. In the northern region, the two other polluted rivers are Miri and Sungai Koyan while five rivers in the southern region, Sungai Bintangor, Sungai Sekama, Sungai Padungan, Sungai Maong and Sungai Tabuan are also considered polluted. A class four level of pollution means that the river water is only suitable for irrigation, not fit for human consumption, fish or livestock, while Class Five is the dirtiest where it is not suitable for anything, and is considered dead.
Reference : ‘River Reinvigorated : The Lutong River Story’ by Hj Sajali Hj Kip
Saturday, December 31, 2011
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: Two volunteers carry a basketful of vegetables to the van waiting outside the market.
THE BELL OF LOVE: For six decades, it has been rung every Sunday at the market. This is the ice cream bell that was passed down by banker Chew Geok Lin.
OF BASKETS AND A BELL: The journey begins with empty baskets in the market. Second right is Robert Chew, the leader of the charity team.
FRESH AND CRISPY: Volunteers wrap up the vegetables after they are brought back from the market.
The bell rings for charity by Raymond Tan
SIBU’S story of love and hope begins with the ringing of a bell — just an ordinary ice cream bell that probably cost only a few cents in 1950, but has been ringing for six decades. Every Sunday morning, the old ice cream bell will sound out in the market, and hawkers and public members, upon hearing it, will come to the bell ringer to fi ll his baskets with food. Within an hour, all the bell ringer’s baskets will be fi lled, and he and his helpers will leave with a van-load of food. The food donation is taken to Sibu Benevolent Society on the old airport road to feed the poor, the destitute and the aged. For six decades, this is how the ice cream bell has called for the love and compassion of the Sibu community. The efforts of Sibu folks have made Sibu Benevolent Society the only charity home in the country that spends almost not a single cent on food and yet, the poor, the destitute and the aged have never gone hungry. After six decades, the fi rst bell ringer Chew Geok Lin, who was also headman of the Hokkien community and a banker, died. The bell was passed on to his son Penghulu Chew Peng Ann who has now retired, and the bell has been placed into the hands of his son Robert Chew. Attempts have been made to write the bell story of Chew Geok Lin and son Peng Ann. Robert, who has taken over the bell for nearly a decade, only agreed to be interviewed because he wanted to credit Sibu folks for building this mountain of love. “My grandfather would go to the market on Sunday. On Saturday, he would go to the shops for canned food and cash donation. There were not many helpers then.” Sibu Benevolent Society was set up shortly after the Japanese Occupation when people were suffering from malnutrition and hunger. Many people were displaced and there was a lack of medical supply for the sick. “At that time also, settlers from China grew old, needed a shelter too because they had no family members here.” His grandfather Chew Geok Lin became the chairman of the home in 1950, and since then, the story of the bell evolved into a mountain of love. In the baskets of food today, Robert said there were vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, bread, steamed buns, biscuits, fruits and the like. “This provides a balanced diet for the inmates. Even hawkers in the jungle produce market are also giving now.” He said they also received rice, salt, cooking oil, garlic, onions, ginger, sugar, milk, beverages, soya sauce and others. Although they were quite sufficient, Robert said for the last few years, they still had to spend
1. A SEED WAS SOWN: Banker Chew Geok Lin with the then Governor Sir Anthony Abell during the opening of Sibu Benevolent Society at Bukit Lima in 1951. 2. THE HARVEST OF LOVE: Helpers collect a truck-load of food for the inmates of Sibu Benovolent Society which can last them a week. 3. A LIFE OF PEACE: The inmates of Sibu Benevolent Society have never gone hungry, thanks to the people running it. 4. THE SPIRIT OF SHARING: Volunteers led by Peng Ann and son Robert (front row fourth and fifth right) at the market beaming with joy and happiness at the market. 5. A NEW GENERATION: A youth at the jungle produce market collecting food. 6. FATHER AND SON: Penghulu Chew Peng Ann (left) and his son Robert.
a portion on food because a government fund had specifically said it was for food expenditure. “Indeed, love has multiplied from the bell. Today, church workers are helping out. Even workers of Sibu Municipal Council join us at the market. The housewives in the market are contributing too.” He said every Sunday, a group of 20 helped collect the food while another group would be waiting at the home to sort it out and store the week-long supply in the refrigerator. “There are also other groups who come to do community work, like cleaning, gardening and comforting and counselling the aged.” Robert said most volunteers were young people who were learning to inculcate this human value of love. “These efforts have saved the home between RM20,000 and RM30,000 in food expenditure monthly.” What has comforted Robert is, corporate bodies, NGOs, church bodies, recreation clubs and companies are also chipping in. “Even elders celebrating birthdays will not forget the aged. His family members will bring in donations to share the joy of their family celebration. “Those striking lottery tickets have also come with gifts and cash, and for elders who have passed away, their children will donate on their behalf. Even the soldiers and government servants are helping too.” Robert described this as a chain reaction that had spun from the sounds of the bell. “The community efforts have snowballed from a single act to bring the whole community together.” Robert recalled he had followed his father to the market as a kid. “I found it fun to go around collecting food with a bell.” But, as he grew up, this has turned into a responsibility in which he works on with Sibu folks. “I have never felt ashamed to pass the baskets around to ask for food.” While he admits that there was some fear in the beginning — fear of whether he would collect as much as his father did — the fear quickly went away when he realised that the hawkers gave not because of his father, but, because of their heart for the less fortunate. The story of the bell has travelled far, touching many visitors to Sibu, including a
high-profi le Penang politician who followed his father to the market. He said Inland Revenue officers from Kuala Lumpur had once expressed disbelief during their visit when they found the home spending so little on food. “We had to explain to them that Sibu folks were feeding the inmates.” Is there any special method in ringing the bell? “No,” said Robert, “We just have to ring it loud. In the beginning, the hawkers said I did not sound as loud as my father did. I have perfected the tone.” For the three generations of community service, Penghulu Chew Peng Ang received the Malaysia Guinness Effort Award in 1999. He was also awarded the Johan Bintang Sarawak (JBS) title, a recognition from the Governor. Looking back, Robert said, “The story of the bell might have begun by a single person in 1951. Today, it involves the whole community.” He said it was important for the young to learn of this community responsibility because the world today had become materialistic and there was a danger that this culture would die. “The spirit must live on. Let the bell continue to ring in our sons and daughters.” 5
Developing Sarawak responsibly by Joanna Yap and Wilfred Pilo
EARLIER this year, from Feb 21 until March 14, the Borneo Post Adventure Team (BAT) embarked on a journey that took us all the way from the state capital of Kuching to the island federal territory of Labuan, by way of Brunei. The 22-day journey by road took BAT through the length of Sarawak, travelling mostly on the pan-Borneo highway and along coastal areas through more than 28 stops consisting mostly of small communities and rural villages. The eye-opening trip allowed the team to see and experience fi rsthand many of the development issues and concerns of the rural communities. It convinced us that the formidable physical and logistical challenges afforded by Sarawak’s vast and diverse geography meant that developing the state’s rural economies would continue to hold centre court in the sphere of Sarawak politics. This was confi rmed by the results of the state election a few months later. It was the rural constituencies and their concerns over development which delivered the golden arrow that ensured Barisan National retained its two thirds majority in the state assembly. The state government’s development strategy depends heavily on three strategies: exploitation of its vast natural resources; improving basic infrastructure such as roads, access to basic utilities including electricity and clean water; and raising income levels and job creation mainly through Sarawak Corridor of
Renewable Energy (SCORE). Great efforts must be made to minimise – if not eradicate – disconnect between the decision-makers and the people on the frontline who have to live with the outcome of those decisions. Generally, the state government maintains the stand that for Sarawakians to reap the benefits of development, the state must be willing to exploit and sacrifice some of its vast natural resources to make way for the greater good. However, development simply for the sake of development without giving due attention to the details of prudent spending and sustainable long-term management is like playing roulette with the well-being of future generations. Otherwise, the billions of ringgits spent and the opportunities sacrificed becomes a fool’s errand. The BAT trip reinforced the perception that the definition of development must be expanded beyond just roads and utilities with a view towards milking the maximum financial value and long-term benefits from every ringgit spent. Development must take into account intangibles such as education, healthcare, the intelligent and cost-effective incorporation of technology into improving the living standards of rural communities, especially the socio-economically disadvantaged. Food security is one such area. A total of 4,300 hectares of land in Sri Aman is to be
ALL SMILES: Students from model school SK Ulu Lubai.
Saturday, December 31, 2011
CLASSIC: Boats berthed at Song’s wharf makes an idyllic picture of this rural area.
EXCEL L Limban ENCE: Locat g Town ed som , e named the state SK Ulu Lub 55 km from ai was the prim ’s first ‘t r o Educati ary school cate p performing s ecently on. chool’ in gory by the Min istry of
transformed into the country’s main ‘rice bowl’ with production expected to start in 2016. This will be part of the National Food Security programme, with the state government having identified a suitable area in Sri Aman covering Batang Lupar, Bijat Stumbin and Banting Lingga. According to Deputy Chief Minister who is also Agriculture Modernisation and Rural Development Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu, the project has been approved by the federal government. He said that apart from food security, the programme is part of the government’s strategy to eradicate poverty in the area. Once it takes off, the areas are expected to produce up to eight tonnes of rice per hectare a year, using double cropping method, when completed within five years. To kick-start the project, a pioneer paddy plantation project is already underway on a 50hectare site in Stumbin which was undertaken by Padiberas Nasional Bhd (Bernas). The state rice bowl project is part of ‘The New Agriculture Policy’ for Sarawak. Its objective is to create a more dynamic approach towards modern agriculture by taking advantage of Malaysia’s vast natural resources, especially in a state like Sarawak which has abundant land space. Malaysia, and in particular the state, has to be selfsufficient in rice production and also as food security as rice is the foremost staple diet in the country. Self-sufficiency in rice production is crucial for the state as erratic weather conditions, caused by climate change, could disrupt rice supply to Malaysia from major producing countries like
Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia. The Sarawak Rice Conference (Saricon) 2011 in Kuching was a serious move by the government to ensure that a proper master plan can be placed so that the rice production project in the state will be viable and carry out in systematic and efficient manner. During Saricon 2011, much emphasis was placed on good commercialisation values of three varieties of grains: Bario rice, “Beras Bajong” and “Beras Biris”, which have been granted the Geographical Indications (GI) by the Malaysian Intellectual Property Organisation. The ‘rice bowl’ project was approved by the federal government through The Performance Management & Delivery Unit (PEMANDU) under the Entry Point Project (EPP) 11. Also to be kept in mind are the thousands of hectares of oil palms being cultivated in large plantations and small shareholdings across the state. Rapidly and drastically altering the natural ecosystem for development purposes with scant thought for potential outcomes can have terrifying repercussions. Last year’s unprecedented logjam saw life along several hundred kilometres of the Melatai, Batang Baleh, Batang Rajang and Batang
SK Ulu Lubai Igan rivers grinding to an abrupt halt. Residents watched helplessly as tonnes of debris, silt and driftwood swept along by millions of cubic metres of water destroyed just about everything which got in the way, including two bridges, as well as damaging countless longhouses, jetties and boats along the rivers’ swollen banks. Two timber camp workers were trapped in a flash flood and paid with their lives as the 4WD vehicle they were in was swept away by a wall of mud and floodwater. In the immediate aftermath, the hardest hit were the riverine communities who relied on the river for transport, food, water and as a source of livelihood, mainly from fishing activities. The area’s wildlife population and ecology was also severely affected, with carcasses of monkeys and even of a crocodile found floating in the muddy floodwaters. Certain rivers were no longer hospitable habitats to fish species such as the semah and empurau
who thrive and breed in clear, fast flowing rivers – choked by fallen rocks, siltation and mud. It was estimated that as much as a 10 square km area was completely washed away by floodwaters and landslides, which also left nearby mountain slopes severely eroded. More than one year later, the impact of the logjam is still reverberates in the region. It will take many years to reclaim back life as what it was before, with some areas likely to never fully recover. Although the loss of life is regrettable, the state can count its blessings that the number of human casualties was not higher. The logjam served as a timely reminder to respect the environment and Sarawak must ensure that its lessons are not forgotten in the manifestations of the state’s ambitions.
TIMELY REMINDER: Development for the sake of development without careful consideration and stringent safeguards to responsibly manage and protect the state’s vast resources as well as the rights of rural communities will leave future generations of Sarawakians by the wayside.
Day of reckoning for saltwater crocodiles by Wilfred Pilo
KUCHING hosted the fi rst ever International Crocodile Convention (ICC) from Oct 19 to 21, 2011 at Harbour View Hotel in hopes that the convention would solve questions on how to better manage and conserve the saltwater
crocodiles that seem to be growing rampant in the state. This was to keep their existence in balance with their natural habitat without putting the lives of people who also depend on the river for their livelihood, at stake. It was fittingly titled HumanCrocodile Co-existence: Win -Win Formula. Its objectives were simple: to provide a forum for sharing and discussions on research fi ndings, progress on crocodile conservation and human-crocodile conflict projects
undertaken in the region. Experts from all over the world came together to come up with strategic recommendations on crocodile distribution, habitats and risks due to conflict for East Asia-Australasian region with special focus on Borneo, to provide a venue for capacity-building on crocodile conservation, research and human-crocodile conflict management and to enhance and establish collaboration works on crocodile conservation and research programmes with renown national, regional and international institutions. The ICC was
FEROCIOUS REPTILE: Male estuarine crocodile (crocodylus porosus) kept in captivity at Jong’s Crocodile Farm called Bunjang Sudin.It was caught by villagers of Kampung Gedong at Sadong River on Sept 9, 1988. — Photo by Wilfred Pilo
organised by Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) to share and gather ideas on resolving the human-crocodile conflict. Among the ICC resolutions were to come up with a standard monitoring programme to establish a comprehensive database; to determine the strategy to downgrade crocodile status from Convention on International Trade in Engendered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) Appendix I to CITES Appendix II; to prepare sufficient allocation for long-term management and monitoring of the crocodile population; to prepare safety guidelines for river users and to ensure that crocodile management plan would benefit local communities. What SFC did was to enhance government proactive steps to resolve the issue of humancrocodile conflicts in the future. The government hopes that these proactive steps, which included capturing and culling crocodiles, would not be received negatively by certain groups of people but to control the reptile in their natural habitats as part and parcel of wildlife management in the state. The proper management of the reptile in future would
allow people who live near the reptile’s habitat to gain economically from culling. If everything goes as plan, SFC will set up tanneries along five major rivers, namely the Batang Lupar (Sri Aman), Batang Sadong (Samarahan), Tinjar River Baram (Miri) , Sibuti-Niah (Miri) and Batang Saribas (Betong). The tannery would also be used to closely monitor culling activities and also to continue monitoring the reptile population. SFC and the government are optimistic about the economic benefits to be reaped from culling, especially for those who live near reptile habitats. It is hoped that it can be a major source of income as there are demands for the reptile meat and skin especially in the international market. SFC general manager (Protected species and biodiversity conservation) Wilfred Landong at the ICC described the crocodile business as a multi-million business. He said that multiple products could be produced from the crocodile business in terms of meat and consumption. Landong said that the process must involve multiple stakeholders who want to be involved in the industry
like crocodile farmers, communities, professionals and the government. “The business involves multiple types of industry such as farming, manufacturing, retailing, tourism, research, and education,” he said. Invited Japanese speaker,Yoichi Takehara, felt that in terms of tapping the Japanese market, eco-tourism had a better prospect compared to high-end consumable goods. Once there is approval from CITES, the government will take steps to ensure that their plan will materialise in the right direction by implementing educational and awareness programmes among the local communities, putting up crocodile warning signs at sites known to be infested with crocodiles and start culling operations at rivers with high crocodile population. There are two species found in Sarawak, namely the fearsome crocodylus porosus (saltwater crocodile) locally known as “buaya Katak” and the harmless False Gharial also locally known as ‘buaya Jujulong”. Sarawak recorded 73 crocodile attacks on human beings since 1990 with 33 fatalities.
Saturday, December 31, 2011
Conservation headlines of 2011 by Karen Bong
AS we continue to make headway for more development to attain a high income economy befitting a developed country, countless living creatures - in our backyard, in our rainforest or beneath the sea - are suffering from the impact and consequences of human activity. Here we refresh your memory with a collection of conservation stories in 2011 worth celebrating, in the hope that all of us, starting today, can join hands and play our roles to heal the environment of our home we live in. The beginning of 2011 saw three rare white tortoises with red spots on their foreheads being released into a river in Sibu. Caught by a farmer in a stream in Ulu Belaga, it was discovered that the tortoise’ markings were not an anomaly, but rather were a mark of a rare and protected species. Fortunately, they were bought by kind buyers for RM1,000 each. Pusaka KTS Forests Plantation Sdn Bhd adopted an orangutan named ‘Ting San’ on April 3 as part of the Heart2Heart programme organised by Sarawak Forestry Corporation in Kuching. Being the first local company to join the programme, they also contributed RM30,000 to the Matang Wildlife Centre in aid of its wildlife conservation initiatives. The centre is focused on protecting the orangutan through monitoring its daily routines, taking care of its daily meal and health as well as helping it to adapt to the environment. In Miri, Malaysia Nature Society organised several community outreach programmes in conjunction with World Migratory Bird Day. Themed ‘Fireflies and River Conservations, Waterbirds and Wetlands, Reefs and Marine Ecosystems’, the activities include migratory birds watching, talks and contests. The efforts, all aimed at raising public awareness on the importance of nature conservation took place in Kampong Kuala Nyalau, Kampung Bungai, Kampung Kuala Sibuti as well as Kampong Masjid, Kuala Baram. On June 13, Dr Tang Sie Hing, special assistant to Democratic
when the river became clogged with debris and rubbish shortly after. Sadly enough, ordinary citizens were fast to push the
blame and responsibilities to authorities who then passed the buck between and among themselves in denial. They might have forgotten about the promises they made tag-lined ‘with the people’ and ‘for the people’. The Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) long-term planning included seeding 100,000 reef balls throughout the state’s waters to ensure the prolonged existence of its natural treasures. During a Nature n U camp held at Similajau National Park, Bintulu on July 25, SFC’s managing director and chief executive officer Datu Len Talif Salleh said the wealth of biodiversity could provide considerable opportunities for a range of industrial and pharmaceutical processes. Reef balls had been proven to be the most effective method or tool to protect turtles and other marine resources from fishing trawlers. However, noting the major transformation in Bintulu as part of SCORE projects, he reminded the community to ease the pressure on the ecosystem in our pursuit for economic growth. A Conservation Biology lecturer for the Faculty of Resource Science and Technology from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak revealed that urban development encroachment at mangrove edges had an adverse effect on mangrove bird populations. According to a study conducted by Dr Mohd Azlan Jayasilan Abdul Gulam Azad, he emphasised that the habitats surrounding the mangrove patches were important in maintaining a maximum number of birds in the mangrove. COME AGAIN: A turtle heading back to the sea after As such, he laying eggs. — Photo by Tan Chung Siong suggested that conservation planning for mangrove birds in Sarawak, which has wide areas of
Action Party (DAP) secretary Chong Chieng Jen, led more than 30 volunteers together with several non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and residents to clean up the filthy Tabuan River. Tang also assured that the cleaning campaign would be followed by door to door visits in an attempt to instill public awareness on keeping the river clean for their mental and physical health as well as for the environment. What was a bold recovery effort was short-lived
mangrove patches, must include a mosaic of habitats. If left unmonitored, he warned that it could spell the end of mangrove bird’s species here. On Sept 25, Malaysia became the latest signatory to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the Conservation and Management of the Marine Turtles and their Habitats within the Indian Ocean and South-East Asia (IOSEA) region. World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Malaysia hopes with the agreement which came into effect on Dec 1, the government will give full
commitment towards implementing conservation measures and comprehensive programmes outlined in the Conservation and Management Plan. The plan included 24 programmes and 105 specific activities focused on reducing threats,
FLY AWAY: Conservation Biology lecturer for the Faculty of Resource Science and Technology from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak Dr Mohd Azlan Jayasilan Abdul Gulam Azad looks at the nest of a mangrove robin. — Photo by Eve Sonary Heng conserving critical habitat, exchanging scientific data, increasing public awareness and participation, promoting regional cooperation and seeking resources for implementation. Once implemented, the plan would help protect our sea turtles, fish, coral reefs and nesting sites from threat by human activities. The Talang-Satang National Park, about 20-minutes boat ride from the coastal town of Sematan consists of four islands: Satang Besar Island, Satang Kecil Island, TalangTalang Besar Island and TalangTalang Kecil Island, which also serve as the nesting grounds for our marine turtles. The tropical beach on a gorgeous remote island is managed as a combination of nature tourism and conservation by the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC). SFC is very active in protecting marine life, especially marine turtles, as well as conserving the natural environment in this national park. SFC, together with the state Defence Forces and volunteer divers took the plunge on World Habitat Day in early October to save the beautiful coral reefs and marine life from vanishing. As a result of the dive aid, divers cleared a long fishing net which was believed to have been laid by irresponsible parties to catch lobsters among the corals. The activity was also meant to identify new coral reef areas, inculcate awareness on the importance of reef and marine life and interact with the public about conservation. The two-day activity also involved watching turtles making their way onshore to lay eggs and SFC staff quickly collected the eggs and moved them to the hatchery set up on the beach for incubation. At midnight, hatchlings were released into the sea at different spots along the beach. In the same month, Australia’s Orion Expedition Cruises adopted Ritchie, the dominant male orangutan living in Semenggoh Wildlife Centre, for two years until Oct 2013. Orion Expedition presented a cheque for A$7,750 for the adoption programme to SFC and pledged to sponsor Ritchie for another 10 years. At present, Semmenggoh Wildlife Centre is home to 25
DO NOT HURT THESE CORALS: The long fishing net which was laid across the coral reefs which support a phenomenal diversity of species and provide irreplaceable sources of food and shelter. — Photo by Francis Chang
orangutans while 24 younger ones are at Matang Wildlife Centre. Both centres are committed to conserving wildlife, especially the orangutans, to ensure their survival and ecological balance. Kuching celebrated the World Rivers Day at the Kuching Waterfront on Nov 12. At the event, Chief Minister Pehin Seri Taib Mahmud advised people not to take our rivers for granted and to stop treating the river like an all-purpose vehicle for waste disposal. With a growing population and increased industrialisation, all parties from government to private companies including ordinary citizens must ensure the pollution of our rivers will not increase. Taib also announced that the government would be injecting RM4 billion into the centralised sewerage system meant for cutting down pollution in our
RARE TORTOISE: The farmer catches three of this rare tortoise from a stream in Ulu Belaga.
SAVING THE ENVIRONMENT: The Tabuan River was given a second chance when Good Samaritans flocked to the river to do their part by scooping out rubbish to ensure sustainability of the river.
RARE AND WILD: These beautiful flowers are spotted inTalangTalang Island. —Photo by Wendy Ng
rivers. The system will act as a filter, treating all waste water from households before injecting into the rivers. Sungai Sarawak remained the cleanest river in Malaysia as of today despite some controversy in the beginning of the year. World Wide Fund for Nature Malaysia (WWF) and communities in the highlands of Sarawak and Sabah held a campaign for Adan Rice to promote the livelihoods of the local communities through sustainable small-scale agriculture. Local communities were reminded to always ensure equilibrium between development and conservation prevails so that human activities do not destroy the environment that is their livelihood. Deputy state secretary Datu Ose Murang stressed that while development is essential, conservation must be taken into consideration. Borneo is one of the areas in the world known for the abundance of both raptor species and
AMAN: Largest Orangutan at Matang Wildlife Centre.
migrating raptors. Japanese raptor biologist Dr Toru Yamazaki who gave talks on raptors at UCSI University Sarawak said that efforts must be put into conserving them to help preserve entire ecosystems. Raptors are at the top of the food chain and their health depends on the health of the ecosystems they live in or migrate through. A decline in raptor populations, therefore, can indicate a problem in the ecosystem. With serious environmental destruction expanding especially throughout South-East Asia, more reasons for raptor research should be conducted. Sarawak, the Land of the Hornbills (have you seen a real one?) and the largest state in
Malaysia, is a land blessed with so much natural resources adorned with beautiful landscape. While we thanked our mother nature everyday for keeping us safe, we ought to also take care of it in return. Here is an interesting quote from Art Buchwald which serves as a reminder to us all to love our planet because we are all too familiar with the Chinese saying that goes.... ‘it is only when we lost something that we only learn how to appreciate them’. “And Man created the plastic bag and the tin and aluminum can and the cellophane wrapper and the paper plate, and this was good because Man could then take his automobile and buy all his food in one place and He could save that which was good to eat in the refrigerator and throw away that which has no further use. And soon the earth was covered with plastic bags and aluminum cans and paper plates and disposable bottles and there was nowhere to sit down or walk, and Man shook his head and cried: Look at this Godawful mess.”
A ‘GREENER’ FESTIVAL: A tree planting event at Damai Central during the World Rainforest Music Festival. — Photo by Margaret Apau
Saturday, December 31, 2011
Resiliency reigns at Bakun A year on after their longhouses were submerged by the Bakun dam, the residents in Belaga’s Sungai Asap Resettlement Scheme make the most of life at Bakun’s artiﬁcial lake
SWELLING: A view of the lake when the impoundment started in November last year.
by Conny Banji
DESPITE the distance and cost involved, Kuala Lumpur-based Danny Bungan makes the trip back to his longhouse, the quite imposing 105-door Uma Belor in the Sungai Asap Resettlement Scheme in Belaga at least once a month. Part of the pull is to see his aged parents and relatives. The other is to frolic and catch fish in the Bakun dam lake, the result of the dam impoundment from last year. Danny, 41, is not the only one who ‘balik kampung’ (returns to village or longhouse). Many of the settlers who work all over the state make a similar pilgrimage over the weekends and the public holidays. Their ultimate destination is the Bakun lake where they will stay a night or two to “kuman bahek” or picnic by the river in the ‘jelatong’, floating houses that dot the 70,000 sq km lake, the size of Singapore. Each of the 15 longhouses in the Sungai Asap resettlement area has been designated a place in the site of their now submerged longhouse for their ‘jelatong’. There are at least 100 floating houses on the lake now. Besides being the the world’s second tallest concrete rockfi lled dam located on the Balui River in the upper Rajang River basin, 37km upstream from Belaga, the off shoots of the dam have been tourism and aquaculture industries. Since the impoundment began in Oct 13, 2010, the water level has risen to 219 metres. The lake has a number of awe-inspiring waterfalls like the Belanum Waterfall, Long Besungei Waterfall and Sungai Pangak Waterfall. Fish like the ‘baong’, a species of catfish, are easy to catch for lunch or dinner.
Sarawak’s very famous but very expensive ‘empurau’, king of the Rajang River fish, the ‘semah’ (tor douronensis), tapah, ‘mengalan’ (puntius bulu), ‘tengadak’ (Puntius schwanenfeldll) and ‘labang’ (pangarius hiewen-husii) can also be found in the lake. Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) Belaga Youth Chief Kennedy Chuk Pai, 44, believes in the potential of tourism in the Bakun lake, a view shared by Assistant Tourism Minister Datuk Talib Zulpilip who visited the area recently. Mesmerising but still changing landscape “The potential can only be seen better once the water has completely fi lled the dam. While the landscape now is already mesmerising, it is still changing,” he said when met at Belaga. Chuk said the settlers affected by the implementation of the RM7.4 billion dam had plans of their own to tap the potentials in tourism as well as in aquaculture. “We have two committees representing us, namely the Wargana Corporation and
BEAUTIFUL: The Belanum Waterfall.
The potential can only be seen better once the water has completely filled the dam. Since the impoundment began in … the water level has risen to … While the landscape now is already mesmerising, it is still changing. Kennedy Chuk Pai, PRS Belaga Youth Chief
the Asap Koyan Development Committee. “Our member of parliament Datuk Billy Abit Joo had engaged two French experts to identify the potentials and their findings and suggestions had been forwarded to the
longhouse Village Security and Development Committee (JKKK) deputy chairman last year visited the similar Kenyir dam in Pahang to study its tourism and
heading D: Folks jetty for N E K E it at the CAL WE A TYPI the weekend wa destinations. r ir home fo nd them to the se boats to
‘semah’ in the lake water which they would want to emulate in Bakun. On tourism, Billy said based on the proposal by the French experts, he would leave it to the government to identify which area should be suitable for chalet or resort operations, for water-based sports, for jungle trekking and for sport fishing. He emphasised the need for planned development, adding that if the residents were to target European tourists, “all form of timber activities should be stopped in Bakun especially in the areas further up to ensure the water remains unpolluted and the area retains its pristine condition.” Floating houses
government,” he said. On their own, a group led by Danny who is Uma Belor
PRECIPITOUS: A view of the dam gate.
fishery modules. Among others, they were captivated by the boat house excursion packages offered by tour operators, the herb island and the breeding of the
Billy also called for the relevant authority to regulate the mushrooming of the floating weekend jelatong for the same environmental concern. He feared untreated sewage and household refuse would find their way into the Bakun waters and pollute it. Some business-minded entrepreneurs here are already bringing in folks wanting to spend a night or two in the lake and to fish. According to Luhat Tugau, 45, the weekends and the public holidays were when people would start to come. “So far we are very happy with the keen interest that people are beginning to show in Bakun,” he said.
“Since we will be focusing on the European markets, the choice is logical as tilapia is whitefleshed. After carp, tilapia is the second most commercially cultured fish in the world and there is always the demand.” he said. He said the fish rearing project would be open to all people in Bakun and not BOUNTI just confined to the F shows th UL:A visitor fro settlers. m Sibu, k e fish tha n t he nett He said this ed at the own only as Agis ( rig Belanum was vital for the Waterfa ht) ll. products to be classified as ‘green” Longhouse or sustainable which folks in Sungai Asap would appeal to are now operating their own especially European homestay programme. market. On the main aquaculture On indigenous fish such as prospect, Billy said help ‘empurau’, ‘semah’ and others, had come from the French Billy said they could come in Agricultural Research Centre at a later stage and mainly for for International Development domestic market. or CIRAD. Meanwhile, Chuk is of the Its leader Dr Jerome Lazard opinion that it is necessary had teamed up with researchers for the government to lend from the Universiti Pertanian a helping hand in such an Malaysia (UPM) to conduct an undertaking. initial study on the lake. “If we want a successful fish “Based on their data on the cage culture, we must have a water quality and fish species, feed mill established in the they agree it is feasible to carry vicinity. out fish culture here,” he said. “If we have to get our supplies from outside, the transportation Aquaculture cost can eat into our bottom line. “Then again, we may Billy added that the tilapia fish be susceptible to price would be the main fish for such manipulation by some people,” project. he said.
Saturday, December 31, 2011
REBELS: RENTAP united on day of Entri’s sacking, a portend of SDPD unity woes continuing.
HUMBLE DEFEAT: Dr Chan being interviewed by the press after suffering the ignominy of being defeated by an opponent nearly five decades younger.
GIANT-KILLER: Alan Ling Sie Kiong being hoisted by supporters after his victory on April 16 which rewrote SUPP’s history and tore up the scripted power transition of the party.
2011: Political upheaval in the Northern front by Philip Kiew
THE year 2011 has been a tumultuous year of fireworks in the Sarawak political landscape, panning out to be a watershed and game-changing year with far-reaching outcomes emanating through the state for years to come. The biggest story in Miri this year was how a little known 28-year-old political novice rewrote the history of SUPP in the last state election held on April 16, 2011 and changed the script used by party cadres for decades since it was formed in 1959. Giant-killer Alan Ling Sie Kiong of DAP ended the political career of high-flying SUPP president and former Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Dr George Chan Hong Nam, 75, who on the receiving end of a crushing fi rst defeat which left many dumb-founded — although some observers said the writing was already on the wall. His party comrade, incumbent Andy Chia Chu Fatt was thumped by DAP’s Fong Pau Teck in Pujut, while Senadin’s incumbent Datuk Lee Kim Shin survived by a razor-thin 58 vote majority against PKR’s Dr Micheal Teo Yu Kheng who initially disputed the results, but later accepted it and look forward to the next battle. Dr Chan’s defeat set the stage of the wrangling which roiled SUPP, unleashing the race for the hot seat to assume the mettle of leading and attempting to reverse the tide of this downsliding party, the oldest in the state. Assistant secretary-general and Senior Minister Datuk Sri Wong Soon Koh in central Sarawak was fi rst of the block to announce his readiness to helm the party, roping in Datuk Lee Kim Shin, Senadin state assemblyman from northern region, as his running mate and secretary-general post. However, Miri threw a spanner in the works with
Minister of Energy, Green Technology and Water, Datuk Seri Peter Chin Fah Kui announcing his intention to vie for the president post following support voiced by southern SUPP branches. This paved the way for the fi rst ever election of party president, a departure from the tradition of nominated leader of the past. Fractious branch elections and controversy erupted one after another throughout the state to pick delegates for the showdown in the triennial delegates conference erupted as rivalry heats up in the race. The concluded Piasau branch election was a window to the cloak and dagger politics engulfing the party in the run-up to the central elections in December between both contenders. Chin’s political secretary Datuk Sebastian Ting Chiew Yew scrapped through in a neckto-neck battle with successful entrepreneur and philanthropist Hii King Chiong in the fi rst branch election of the committee members which then elected the office-bearers since it’s inception in the early 70s. The results showed members were split between loyalty to the old guards and Hii’s camp which has pledged an open and inclusive approach, a many disgruntled party members would attest to. The contest in Piasau split party member may be hotly contested but the public is hardly impressed, following the development more out of curiosity rather than holding any expectations. Allegations of controversial actions in branches from Kuching to Sibu and Miri has been hurled, but the party central has maintained that it has been professional in administration. The rest is history and the verdict from the people of what they think of SUPP and its leaders would only be known in the coming parliamentary election which is just around the
corner. SPDP, the youngest of the Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, was another kettle of fish. The lid over the political cauldron shot through the party’s roof in the aftermath of the unravelling tension which has been simmering for over a year for SPDP. From a party which lost two seats on April 16 elections, including one held by deputy president Datuk Peter Nyarok Entrie (Krian) and newcomer Willie Liau (Ba Kelalan), SPDP has been embroiled in a possibly explosive split which could bring the party to it’s knees. Former secretary-general and Marudi state assemblyman Datuk Sylvester Entri Muran, the party’s star performer in the last state election, was thrown out of the party on November 26, barely half a year after he scored the highest win among SPDP candidates. The irony was he had dealt body blow to SNAP which SPDP replaced in the coalition, defeating SNAP president Edwin Dundang Bugak who lost his election deposit in Marudi seat in four-corner fight. SPDP president Tan Sri William Mawan Ikom said the party supreme council found him guilty of violating the party constitution and threw him out. The fate of the other four with him — Rosey Yunus, Datuk Peter Nansian Ngusie, Datuk Dr Tiki Lafe and Paulus Palu Gumbang (Batu Danau assemblyman) had also been served notice by removal from all party posts in November. Except for Tiki, they all returned as assemblyman with a handsome majority win respectively despite what they alleged as lack of support from party central in the election. Branded as the SPDP 5 group of rebels previously, they coined themselves as ‘RENTAP’, an acronym of the initials of their names combined. The fallout could be traced back to the party’s last TGM and elections
when the group walked out of the ensuing supreme council meeting and accused Mawan of failing to honour his word to maintain Entri as secretarygeneral Entri has in his company, Rosey Yunus, assemblyman Bekenu who was appointed Assistant Minister of Early Childhood Education and Family Development in a state cabinet reshuffle on September 26 this year by Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud. Entri also holds the portfolio of Assistant Minister of Public Utilities ( Water Supply) and Assistant Minister of Modernisation of Agriculture while Nansian is the Assistant Minister of Industrial Estate Development and Assistant Minister of Community Services. Apart from Nansian and Dr Tiki, the other three RENTAP members are all northern Sarawak. The Borneo Post fi rst reported of gathering war clouds in SPDP and the imminent split when Entri fi red his response to the veiled warning of Mawan in Sibu to act against errant members who caused disunity. From there onwards, the undeclared war began to unravel and both sides upped the ante with Mawan making his move into Entri’s bastion of support in Ulu Teru on October 24. The controversial visit was preceded by protests by longhouse chiefs and barbs were traded by both camps, but Mawan pressed ahead and brought along big group throughout the state. Entri’s camp cancelled a similarly big gathering at Rumah Ela in Sungai Selulit, Tinjar on the same day in deference to advice from BN top brass. They had argued that the visit would harm BN and that Mawan should listen, but the temperature shot up as the date drew nearer, and a police report lodged by the longhouse chief
alleging illegal confinement, a charge which has been denied by two others with him at the material time. Entri’s camp responded with the Ulu Teru function with a big gathering which included 88 longhouse chiefs, councillor and community leaders among the crowd of over 2,000 on November 26 — the day he was sacked by the party, stressing that he remains a BN man. His supporters said SPDP had gone against the grain of political logic- throwing out and away members who could win handsomely for the party and BN, and effectively kicking itself out of Marudi constituency. On December 5, they walked out of the party, taking down the SPDP’ signboard and hoisted a BN Marudi service centre in Beluru. Entri and three other elected assemblyman have time on their side as the next state election is only due in over four years, and they stood united in Sungai Selulit on the day of his sacking from the party and disciplinary action meted by Mawan’s leadership. The political fallout will affect SPDP in the Baram seat which is currently held by incumbent Datuk Jacob Dungau Sagan,65, who is Deputy Minister of International Trade and Industries. He is the fourterm Baram MP since his fi rst election on SNAP’s ticket in1995. With BN barely scraping through in the Orang Ulu heartland of Telang Usan in the last state election, and the political fallout in Marudi and largesse of four-terms incumbency, observers point to an uphill battle for him if he is re-nominated to stand. For opposition party DAP, this is a watershed year — the best ever showing. Lawyer Alan Ling who was still in his fledgling practice suddenly found himself being called a ‘Yang Berhormat’, a title which he took some time to get accustomed to. He would
preferred his constituents and well-wishers calling him by name. He has moved on to set up his service centre and a legal aid centre for the needy groups. Fong Pau Teck who defeated incumbent Andy Chia Chu Fatt in Pujut was finally rewarded for his persistence although the public remember his lone flagwaving days at gyratories in Miri and tireless visits on the ground. With DAP finally gaining a foothold in Miri with two elected representatives in the state legislative assembly, the party also fancies it’s chances in the Miri parliamentary seat in the general election which is expected to be held in early 2012. Their presence in Miri is already giving SUPP the shivers in the run-up to 13th General Election. PKR finally made it breakthrough in the traditional BN bastion in northern Sarawak, with its state chief Baru Bian winning in Ba Kelalan constituency after his third attempt. A seasoned native rights campaigner and lawyer, he narrowly beat Willie Liau of SPDP to finally step into the state legislative council. PBB seats continued to be the bedrock of the BN support in northern Sarawak as their respective candidates won handsomely in Bukit Sari ( Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan) and Bukit Kota (Dr Abdul Rahman Ismail) except for Telang Usan where newcomer Dennis Ngau secured a narrow win in the Orang Ulu heartland. In a nutshell, the political tectonic plates in northern Sarawak have shifted in 2011. What beckons is another nail-biting general election which the ruling BN coalition cannot afford to take the new political reality for granted. The good old days of assured win is history. The reality check will be on polling day of the coming general election. ◆ Continue Read On Page 12&13
Saturday, December 31, 2011
When troubles come in five SPDP5 became bolder this year, putting the Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) in the headlines and on the rails by Churchill Edward
THIS year has been an ‘annus horribilis’ for Sarawak Development Progressive Party president Tan Sri William Mawan as he fights a rearguard battle trying to keep the party from falling apart in the face of a rebellion led by five of his top lieutenants. The writing has been on the wall for sometime - there were rumblings of discontent among the top echelon of the party since 2009. Initially Mawan played cool dismissing the party’s troubles as family quarrels and trying to smooth over ruffled feathers with offers of reconciliation and accommodation. However, the rebels brushed off his olive branches claiming his words were not match by his deeds and the fissures that first appeared on the walls turned to cracks as the year progressed and the crisis worsened. The crisis which some see as a leadership tussle between Mawan and vice president Datuk Sylvester Entrie Muran reached boiling point on Oct 12 when Entrie, spokesman and apparent leader of the ‘SPDP 5’ which also included Datuk Peter Nansian Ngusie; Datuk Dr Tiki Lafe; Rosey Yunus and Paulus Palu Gumbang issued a statement of no confidence against Mawan. That no-confidence declaration was a response to the party’s disciplinary committee probe into Entrie’s alleged indiscipline and insubordination which resulted in the party issuing him a show cause letter to explain why he should not be expelled.
On 17 Nov Nansian rallied behind Entrie by challenging Mawan to sack all the SPDP 5 or risk more members losing confidence in him. The crisis escalated when SPDP held a supreme council (SC) meeting on November 25, to deliberate upon Entrie’s act of dissent. It was decided to terminate his membership for gross insubordination, which had apparently started since early 2009. The SC also decided not to recommend Dr Tiki to defend Mas Gading for the BN come next parliamentary election, which may be held as early as the first quarter of 2012. The party then issued a show cause letter to Nansian to explain why he too should not be expelled from SPDP together with Entrie. The SC, chaired by Mawan, also stripped the remaining four members of the dissenting five of their supreme council posts: Entrie was former vicepresident and so were Dr Tiki and Rosey. Nansian and Paulus were ex SPDP senior vicepresident and information chief respectively. Entrie, the Marudi assemblyman is now a partyless Barisan Nasional (BN) man. It is highly likely that SPDP would not recommend him to defend Marudi for the BN in the next state election which won’t be until 2015. On December 3, Entrie made an unprecedented move by forming what he would call the ‘BN N66 Marudi Committee’, aimed at countering SPDP’s plan to take over administration of development in the state constituency. For now, nobody is telling if the formation of this committee
2011 CRISIS CLIMAX: Mawan (seated centre) chairing a press conference at party headquarters in Jalan Badruddin in Kuching to announce party disciplinary actions including the sacking of Entrie on Nov 25, 2011. was sanctioned by BN, but it is enough to suggest that Entrie would not let go of his seat and his minor rural project fund just yet. Meanwhile the party is embarking on a plan to reconsolidate its members and lessen the impact on the ground among BN members following Entrie’s sacking. The plan began with the issuance of a gag order on all party leaders including SC members except Mawan. According to close aides to the president, this move ahead of the upcoming Parliamentary election was supposed to prevent adding insult to injury by publishing sarcastic remarks that could jeopardise their efforts to reconsolidate BN members in Marudi, one of the two state seats in the Baram constituency. The reconsolidation plan was also aimed at countering the
possibility of SPDP 5’s staunch supporters becoming spoilers in the next parliamentary election, especially in SPDP seats like Mas Gading, Saratok, Bintulu and Baram. SPDP, according to close aides of the president is also taking steps to reconsolidate and strengthen the once cohesive force of the BN in SPDP-allocated seats be it parliamentary or state ones. As far as the party is concerned, it is believed that there were major setbacks or upsets in Krian (Saratok parliamentary constituency) and Ba Kelalan (Bukit Kota parliamentary constituency) due to political movements, lobbying for candidacy and politicking within the BN fold months ahead of the April 16 state elections. As a result, SPDP lost Krian and Ba Kelalan to Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR).
According to murmurs on the ground, the BN coalition lost Krian not because of the dynamic personalities of PKR candidate Ali Biju or BN-SPDP Datuk Peter Nyarok Entri, but issues surrounding the unfair distribution of BN-appointed community leaders among BN components. This was further compounded by the untimely issuance of more than 10 timber licences in the area, which the government failed to explain convincingly. The BN loss in Ba Kelalan, meanwhile was said to be partly due to the last minute change of candidates from incumbent Nelson Balang Rining to Willie Liau, a move that upset the local base support and contributed to public confusion there. The party also believed that the most important task was to lessen the impact of
Entrie’s sacking because of its potential to upset the BN local base support in Marudi, a state seat in Baram parliamentary constituency. There is now fear that Entrie’s staunch supporters may take revenge and turn spoilers by siding with the opposition, come parliamentary election. SPDP’s reconsolidation plan also includes steps to lessen the impact due to issues and controversies surrounding the Baram dam construction in the area. Party leaders and key members have gone to the ground to offer their explanations. What is on everybody’s mind now is whether SPDP can overcome its problems, including those contributed by politicking within the BN months before the April 16 2011 state election.
FINAL RESULT: Mawan with the show cause for Entrie before terminating his membership.
ATTEMPTING UNITY: Mawan (second left), Entrie (centre) and Nansian (second right) posing for the camera held by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu on Sept 30 2010, several months after Entri staged a walk out from party supreme council meeting to protest against his promotion from secretary-general to vice- president. The event held in Nanga Kemalih Meluan in Julau was also attended by Meluan assemblyman Wong Judat who is SPDP member (left) and State BN secretary Datuk Dr Stephen Rundi Utom (right).
Saturday, December 31, 2011
The 2011 state elections in review by Johnson K Saai
AT the beginning of this year, the constant question asked was “when is the assembly going to be dissolved” or “when is the state election going to be held”. That question was finally answered when 9th legislative assembly was dissolved on March 21, 2011 to pave way for the 10th Sarawak state election to elect 71 representatives to the Sarawak Legislative Assembly. Prior to the dissolution, the State Barisan Nasional (BN) was the ruling party in control of 63 of the state seats, of which 35 were held by the Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB), Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) 12, Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) eight and Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party (SPDP) also eight. The remaining eight seats were held by the opposition parties, with six being held by Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and Parti Cinta Malaysia (PCM) holding one each. The 2011 election turned out to be the biggest in the state history, with 213 candidates vying for 71 seats. BN fielded candidates in all seats, of which PBB contested in 35 seats followed by 19 for SUPP, PRS (nine) and SPDP (eight). On the other side of the divide, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) or, the alternative front, contested in 69 seats of which 49 candidates represented PKR, DAP (15) and Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) with five candidates. The reregistered Sarawak National Party (SNAP) took a bold chance and fielded its candidates in 26 constituencies while PCM (which was not affiliated with either PR or BN) was contested in six seats. This election also saw the biggest number of candidates contesting as independents at 41. With such keen contest, the 10th Sarawak state election had become a main focus at least after the nomination day and polling day on April 16, 2011. The question then was whether BN would wrestle
back the seats it lost to the oppositions in the 2006 state election, namely Padungan, Pending, Batu Lintang, Kota Sentosa, Ngemah, Meradong, Bukit Assek and Kidurong or would the ruling party lose even more seats. Some people, especially those from the opposition camp were very optimistic that a political tsunami would happen in Sarawak similar to what happened in Peninsular Malaysia during the 2008 general election. Similarly, analysts also predicted that BN’s fight to keep their two-thirds majority in the assembly would be close, emerging with a relatively comfortable result, finishing the night with 55 seats, well above the 47 seats needed for a two-thirds majority. The full April 16 polling signified that BN’s support in Sarawak was still strong and that PR was still unable
to make major inroads into the state despite being able to create major setbacks in certain areas. The DAP won 12 out of 15 seats contested and made the biggest gain of the day with six additional seats, while PKR won only three seats out of 49 contested, gaining only two more seats. SNAP and PAS failed to win any seats with most of their candidates losing their deposits. On the BN side, PBB managed to defend all its 35 seats despite not winning any seat uncontested on nomination day. For SUPP the 10th state election was its worst performance in history when it won only six of the 19 state seats it contested. Ironically, only two of the seats won were Chinese majority while the remaining four were Dayak constituencies. The bleak outcome for
the flailing party mirrored that of its coalition partner MCA’s performance in the peninsula during the 2008 political tsunami, when its parliamentary representation was nearly wiped out by half. SUPP’s biggest blow was dealt when party president Datuk PatinggiTan Sri Dr George Chan, the six-term incumbent for the Piasau state seat was toppled by a political newbie in the DAP. The 75-year-old Dr Chan, who was also a deputy chief minister, was defeated by a 1,590-vote margin by fi rst-time contender Ling Sie Kiong, a lawyer less than half his age. The defeats of SUPP candidates was clear indication that the Chinese community had rejected the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) for reasons only known to themselves. In Kuching, SUPP did not only fail to take back Padungan, Pending, Batu Lintang and
Kota Sentosa but it also lost its Batu Kawah stronghold when incumbent Tan Joo Phoi was felled by newcomer Christina Chew, DAP’s youngest candidate at 27 years old. It also failed to make inroads in Kota Sentosa, despite reports of an increase of over 1,000 postal votes in the area. Instead, incumbent Sarawak DAP secretary Chong Chieng Jen, who was challenged by Datuk Alfred Yap of SUPP, clinched a landslide victory and retained the seat with a 4,824vote majority, eight times more than his previous margin in 2006. Besides Kuching, SUPP was also devastated in its traditional strong-hold of Sibu, the timber town where the party fi rst took roots, when it lost three out of four critical contests to a resurgent DAP. Especially demoralising was the defeat of party vicepresident Datuk Seri Tiong
Thai King, the “Sibu mayor” in Dudong. SUPP’s only saving grace was in deputy secretary-general Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh’s thumping victory against freshfaced challenger Alice Lau from DAP in Bawang Assan. Wong managed to double his winning majority by more than 100 per cent compared to the votes he garnered in the 2006 Sarawak elections. The party however lost in the Chinese majority enclaves of Pelawan, Bukit Assek and Dudong, all urban and suburban constituencies in the Sibu area. It also lost Meradong and Repok, two seats with significant populations of rural voters. The only seats SUPP had won apart from Bawang Assan were Opar, Bengoh, Simanggang, Engkilili and Senadin. Another BN component which failed to make a 100 per cent victory in the 2011 election was PRS when the party lost Pelagus to independent candidate, George Lagong. PRS, however, managed to get back Ngemah through its candidate Alexander Vincent who defeated his closest rival Gabriel Adit Demong from PCM who was also the defending contender. Including Ngemah, PRS retained eight seats after winning Balai Ringin, Bukit Begunan, Batang Ai, Tamin, Kakus, Baleh, and Belaga. With that achievement, PRS also emerged the second biggest BN component since SPDP lost two of the eight seats it was contesting, namely the defeat of the party’s deputy president Datuk Peter Nyarok Entrie to Ali Biju from PKR in Krian and the victory of PKR to capture Ba Kelalan through its state chief Baru Bian. What one can conclude from the 10th Sarawak state election is that BN retained its two-thirds majority, albeit by a reduced margin. While the Opposition had made some significant gains, it also fell short of its goal to deny BN a two-thirds majority. Whether BN can still retain a two-thirds majority in the 11th state election and form the state government only time will tell.
be resolved for the good of the community it represented as well as for the good of the BN, which he said, would be facing its acid test in the coming 13th general election. Najib who flew in to Kuching briefly on Saturday to address the party’s convention also reminded SUPP to stay relevant and be focused to serve the people regardless of their race. Though the party was originally a Chinese-based party, it has now opened its doors for other races to become “equal partners”. Riot, the party’s first Bumiputera deputy president also assured that the party would become more multi-racial in nature as reflected by its latest membership which now counts at least 30 per cent as non-Chinese. This seemed to be a good move for the party as without Bumiputera support, the party would now have only two
assemblymen and four Members of Parliament (MP). The number of its MPs could be reduced further in the coming general election as the DAP had made a real inroad into urban seats. Judging from the results of the last state election, SUPP is now in ‘real and present’ danger of losing all of its six urban seats except for Serian, which is a BN stronghold. Besides losing 13 state seats, the party had already lost Bandar Kuching in the last general election. Following the demise of Sibu MP Datuk Robert Lau, the party also lost the seat to the opposition in the subsequent by-election. The portends are bleak for the party in the coming general election after the upheavals leading to the TDC but the party has seen hard times before and managed to pull through. It maybe too early to write off the ‘grand old man’ of Sarawak’s politics.
VICTORY: Majority still behind Entri at the thanksgiving ceremony of his “ Datukship” and BN victory in Marudi at Rumah Ela in Tinjar.
Of walk-outs and fall-outs by Peter Sibon
THE much anticipated Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP)’s Triennial Delegates’ Conference (TDC) was finally carried out amidst cries of “irregularities” in various branches’ elections resulting in Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh and his group boycotting the TDC. Wong had insisted that the TDC should be postponed to a later date so that the branches could re-elect its delegates for the TDC. However, the party’s election went on regardless, with outgoing party organising secretary, Datuk Seri Peter Chin Fah Kui elected as the new president, along with Datuk Richard Riot Jaem as his deputy. The party also saw a new secretary-general being elected in the person of renowned cardiologist Prof Dr Sim Kui Hian replacing Datuk Sim
Kheng Hui. Datuk David Teng Lung Chi remained treasurergeneral. As a result of Wong’s boycott, Chin declared that the new line-up has set aside a vicepresident and six central working committee (CWC) posts to accommodate Wong’s group. Besides Wong, the other five elected representatives aligned with him are Lanang MP Datuk Tiong Thai King, Simanggang assemblyman Datuk Francis Harden, Ranum Mina (Opar), Dr Jerip Susil (Bengoh) and Johnical Rayong (Engkilili). SUPP, the oldest party in the state, was at one time, the second most powerful force in state BN. However its fortune dipped in the 2006 state election when it lost nine of the 19 seats it contested, prompting calls from various quarters for then party president Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam to step down.
PROTEST: Dr Micheal Teo’s supporters voicing their protest at the result in Senadin tallying centre which had to be secured by anti-riot police as tensions arose.
But he managed to weather the storm with a good showing in the 2008 general election when SUPP managed to secure six out of its seven parliamentary seats. But the inevitable, which soon came to be known as the Sarawak ‘political tsunami’, happened as the party was trashed badly in the last state election where it lost 13 of its 19 seats. This time around, Dr Chan lost his stronghold of Pujut to a DAP greenhorn. He later declared that he would resign as party president but was persuaded by party members to stay on until the TDC. During the run-up to the TDC, there were many intricacies happening in the party when Wong first declared that he would run for the presidency. Although Chin had initially mentioned that he would retire from active politics, he surprised everyone by joining the fray.
This change of decision irked Wong who said he was tasked to look after the affairs of the party by Dr Chan. In the run-up to the TDC, it was an open secret that Wong and his group had gone to the ROS to complain of irregularities in the party elections. Chin responded by saying that ROS indeed wrote to the party to explain the complaints. But as there seemed to be no serious breach of party constitution, the delegates went on with the election which was carried out smoothly. As it was the first time an election was held in the party, the hiccups seemed to drag on until this article was written. Of what the future holds for the party, it could only be answered by its members, especially by the warring factions. Even Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak hoped that the differences of opinions among party leaders should
PREMONITION?: A neck-to-neck battle in SUPP Piasau branch which reflects the situation across the state in the build up to the party’s central elections in December 2011.
FIRST TIME ELECTION: Sebastian Ting ( right) taking over from Dr George Chan Hong Nam as SUPP Piasau branch after a tough fight against Hii in the first ever election of office bearers here, a portend to the top post where the president would be elected for the first time in it’s history.
CRIME & COURT 2011
Saturday, December 31, 2011
Deception, murder outline this year’s crime-list by Gary Adit
SHOCK: Beatrice Laus Johie’s parents lodged a police report at the Siburan police station on Nov 10 for legal purposes.
HEINOUS murders, illegal gold mining-related deaths, destructive bazaar fires, and Facebook-related crimes were but a fraction of some of the more ‘notable’ incidents which wreaked both pain and misery over the course of 2011. The most talked-about incident of the year 2011 was that of a local woman from Kampung Seratau, at Mile 15 Kuching-Serian Road, who was caught upon arriving at Melbourne Airport in November with 1.5 kilogrammes of heroin concealed in the lining of her bag. Beatrice Laus Johie, a 27-year-old ward assistant of a private hospital in Kuching and a single mother of three young boys, was subseqently charged in the Melbourne Magistrate Court with attempting to import a marketable quantity of drugs into the country, and was placed on remand until Jan 9 next year. Her parents, along with countless other supporters, believed her to be an innocent victim who was duped into becoming a drug mule by her African boyfriend, whom she purportedly met via the social networking site Facebook. The luggage she had carried with her to Australia was said to belong to Beatrice’s boyfriend, identified only as Anthony, who was supposed to accompany her but backed out at the last second over a supposed problem with his visa. Efforts have been made by Malaysian authorities to assist Beatrice, who is facing 25 years in prison and/or a fine of AUD$550,000 if found guilty. On the local front, meanwhile, a particularly disturbing murder was recorded in Samarahan in midJanuary when the body of a 15-yearold boy was found buried inside a two-metre-deep hole after he was believed to have been killed by an older teen. The victim, Taufik Abdul Rahim, had been reported missing by his family from his home at Kampung Iboi Ulu before it was discovered two days later buried behind the 19-yearold suspect’s house at Kampung Sadong Jaya, near Asajaya. This was followed by a second murder in June when 67-year-old farm owner Walina Halida was found dead in his house at Kampung Pelanduk,
Sadong Jaya after a suspected robbery. Several ‘persons of interest’ were picked up by police during the course of the investigation, although none were considered as suspects for the crime at the time. Kuching also recorded its own disturbing murder when the charred remains of a woman was found in a bush near the Batu Kawah old bazaar in May. An Indonesian man from Kalimantan claimed the victim was his 29-year-old daughter Emi Mahmud, who worked at an entertainment outlet in Bau and lived in Jambusan. She reportedly went missing after purportedly sending a text message to her sister saying she was making her way from Bau to Kuching with a male acquaintance. No arrests have been made in connection with the incident. Bau district, meanwhile, saw three deaths in March and July as a result of illegal gold mining activities at Gunung Tabai in Taiton. The deaths prompted the police, government and the mining company North Borneo Gold to fence-up known entrances to the mountain, beef up patrols and security, and also charge trespassers in court. Although the measures have somewhat curbed further incidents of illegal gold mining, the district police chief conceded during a press conference in October that such activities were still taking place. This year also saw two devastating fires reduce two decades-old shophouses in Sebuyau and Tebedu to ashes, inflicting millions of ringgit in losses but, more importantly, no casualties or loss of life. The fire in Sebuyau in May razed a row of 12 pre-war wooden shop in Sebangan bazaar and left the families staying there with literally the clothes on their backs. Sadly, none of the families had insured their premises, although help from the government was quick to arrive in the form of monetary and material aid, with Sebuyau state assemblyman Julaihi Narawi pledging that the government would do all it can to rebuild the razed shophouses. In August, a row of 13 wooden shops- of which only four were occupied- at the old bazaar was similarly destroyed in a fire. The four affected families were subsequently advised to relocate their businesses to a commercial site at the new Tebedu township. The Tebedu Old Bazaar was believed to be more than a hundred
years old, having been established by a group of Chinese settlers who crossed the border from Singkawang and Pontianak in West Kalimantan. Meanwhile, popular socialnetworking site Facebook appears to have offered criminals an ideal platform to target unsuspecting victims desperately searching for love or friendship. State police commissioner Datuk Mortadza Nazarene cautioned back in September that studies have shown that single, career-minded women between the ages of 30 to 50, who surf social networking sites for companionship, are the ones most likely to fall victim to online scammers. One such case reported to the police in August involved a female driving instructor in her mid-30s who lost RM175,000 to a cyber conman, with RM75,000 of that amount coming from a loan she had taken out with an illegal money lender. At least 252 cyber crime cases were reported to the police over the past two years, in which female victims were bilked out of some RM2.5 million, although many of the cases have been almost impossible to solve as the conmen utilised the ‘faceless’ nature of the Internet to conceal their true identities. In fact, a total of 1,398 commercial crime cases were reported to the state police in the first three quarters of the year, resulting in a staggering RM27 million in losses, with criminal breach of trust and cheating cases constituting 82 per cent of the cases. The year 2011 also saw police taking the initiative to give themselves a more ‘people-friendly’ persona, with several measures introduced over the course of the year aimed at fostering closer ties with local communities to combat crime. From ‘Ops Payung’ to non-police personnel joining beat patrols to ‘Meet-the-People’ sessions, the men in blue must certainly be lauded for going the extra mile in order to keep our streets and homes safe. ‘Ops Payung’- the codename of a crime prevention strategy where makeshift umbrellas manned by police personnel were set up at identified crime ‘hot spots’- was widely acknowledged by many as a successful counter-measure against would-be criminals who were ‘put off’ by the mere presence of the police. The strategy was ‘upgraded’ in the middle of the year to incorporate non-police personnel to join the police, General Operations Force
LOST EVERYTHING: Penghulu Hamdan Ismail.
and Marine Operations Force in conducting foot patrols at commercial centres and residential areas. Personnel from the Civil Defence Department and the People’s Vigilante Corp, or Rela, were roped to help law enforcers create an added sense of security among the general public by their presence alone, as well as to interact with the local populace to foster better peoplepolice relations. Local municipal councils, in tandem with the police, also played their part in 2011 to curb street crime by installing steel railings along walkways and footpaths in and around Kuching where pedestrian traffic is high. The government-funded move, at a cost of a few million ringgit, was met with disdain by certain quarters, who decried it as a waste of taxpayers money which de-beautified the city with its ‘coldness’, and made citizens akin to caged animals at a zoo. However, those who have had the misfortune of experiencing the trauma of street crime- or know someone who has- can testify that the steel railings, in all practicality, do significantly reduce the possibility of an unsuspecting pedestrian being snatched by a motorcyclist speeding past from behind. A glimpse of the busy Jalan Simpang Tiga should adequately convince the detractors of the benefits of the railings as pedestrians, including students from a nearby university, can be seen walking along the rail-equipped road chattering to each other, or on their mobile phones, without having to fear the threat of a snatch theft. The move is just the first phase of the government’s overall plan of safeguarding the city from criminals, with phase two incorporating the setting-up of a livefeed, closed-circuit television (CCTV) system at known crime hot spots. Though the cost of setting up and maintaining these security measures may prove somewhat costly, it is but a relatively small price to pay for the opportunity to put an end to becoming a street crime victim.
WORRIED FATHER: Mahmud shows the police report lodged by his elder daughter.
THEN AND NOW: A file photo of the row of shops at Sebangan bazaar, a silhouette of a man next to the burning shops at the height of the fire and the aftermath of the fire.
VICTIM OF VIOLENCE: The deceased being removed from the two metre-deep hole where he was buried.
MISSING: A photo of Emi taken in January this year.
2011 reveals rise in theft cases by Anasathia Jenis
AN alarming rise in snatch theft, motor vehicle theft and gang robberies were recorded this year, revealing an alarming trend in crime. The heavy sentences imposed by the court against theft this year should send a strong message and a stern warning to future offenders. On Jan 5, brothers Wan Radenii Wan Zainudin, 46, and Wan Madini Wan Zainudin, 24, pleaded guilty to a theft charge under Section 395 of the Penal Code for snatching a 35-year-old woman’s handbag at Chawan Road at about 1.30pm on July 17 last year. Another conviction, Mahathir Wahar from Kampung Bintawa Ulu was sentenced to five years’ jail and five whippings for robbing a passer by. Mahathir had approached the victim near the Kuching Waterfront and asked for RM1.When the victim refused, Mahathir took matters into his own hands and robbed as
well as caused hurt to him. Meanwhile, Teo Song Hua from Serian, was sentenced to 12 years for stealing a CCTV decoder unit, 61 pieces of Maxis, Digi and Celcom reload coupons, RM1,200 cash and stealing a wallet belonging to Junnies Gara, 34, which contained her licence, identity card and RM50 in cash. Teo had also threatened to kill the victim at about 5.15am at a hotel located at Ban Hock Road on Jan 2 this year. In another robbery case, Awang Mohamad Zulkipli Awang Bujang, 33, who admitted to have stolen a Perodua Viva belonging to Shafinaz Afidia and had also intimidated the victim with a knife was sentenced to five years’ jail and five whippings after he pleaded guilty to the charge committed at a car park at the State Library about 4pm on April 4 this year. A man celebrated Hari Raya behind bars after he was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment and ordered to be given three whippings for
committing robbery and causing hurt to an elderly woman. Sophie Hamzah, 32, was found guilty of robbing Jong Chin Moi, 61, of her gold necklace and jade pendant worth RM1,500 at about 7.30am on Feb 16 this year near the victim’s resident at Three Hills Park here. A jobless man was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment and to be whipped three times for voluntarily causing hurt while committing robbery in October. Accused Roslan Alek from Tabuan Melayu pleaded guilty to the charge of causing hurt to an Indonesian woman Rukmonika when he attempted to rob her of her handbag behind a budget hotel at Jalan Tun Razak about 12.30am on Oct 3 this year. In March, a man who committed mischief by burning down his own house after he lost his temper with his wife was sentenced to four years and seven months’ imprisonment after he pleaded guilty to the charge. Then Teck Min, 45, set fire to his own house at Jalan Stutong
Baru on Feb 30 at about 3.30pm, in which the house was razed to the ground. Murder conviction There was only one murder conviction this year that saw a night club bouncer, Jee Chai Foo, 26, sentenced to death by a High Court judge for killing his own employee, Neward Sadat, in 2009. Jee, who was found guilty after a full trial was also found guilty for causing hurt to the deceased’s son, Felix Neward. The offence was committed on Jan 4, 2009 at about 2.15am at the spot located at Mile 3 commercial centre and he was convicted to a charge under Section 302 of the Penal Code. Rape conviction Awang Jamal from Gedong, Serian pleaded guilty to the rape charge under Section 376 of the Penal Code for raping his 14-year-old girlfriend sometime in the second week of August last year between 2pm and 4pm near his village. In an unrelated case, a young man was found guilty of an
attempted rape charge and was sentenced to five years in jail and ordered to be given five whippings for attempting to rape his 14-year-old cousin at about 3.30am on Oct 2 last year. In another case, last month, a 39-year-old father was sent to jail for seven years after he was found guilty of committing incest with his nine-year-old biological daughter. He committed the offence at about 10pm on March 3 this year at the parent-in-law’s house at a village somewhere along Jalan Mambong Sarig here. A labourer was sentenced to nine-years imprisonment and ordered to be given six whippings for raping his sister-in-law inside a toilet of their house at Kampung Semariang, Petra Jaya here at about 7pm on Feb 1, this year. In another sex-related case, in April, a 21-year-old man was convicted of 13 charges of trafficking 13 Indonesian women for prostitution at about 3pm on April 4 last year at a condominium in Green Heights.
He was sentenced to seven years’ jail after he was found guilty of the charges. Corruption case On April this year, a former assistant officer attached to the Ministry of Planning and Resource Management of Sarawak, was convicted of two corruption charges and was sentenced to 36 months’ imprisonment and fined RM25,000 in default of six months imprisonment. Arbi, 36, married with two children, was found guilty for receiving RM5,000 cash from Yusof Ibrahim whose company had official dealings with the ministry in respect to processing an application for the revised detailed building plan of SK Pasir Pandak. Arbi’s case will be the last case mentioned in Sessions Court as the new Special Corruptions Court handled by a specialist judge who will focus on corruption and bribery, had been implemented early this year aimed to speed up the disposal of graft cases.
Saturday, December 31, 2011
CRIME & COURT 2011
Grisly and heart-wrenching murders shock Miri Crime reporter Margaret Ringgit looks back on Miri’s grisly murders in 2011
FOUND: Rescuers lifting the body of a 15-year-old boy whose body was found drowned near Marina Bay.
BURNT TO DEATH: The man died instantly after the car he was travelling in caught fire.
From fatal accidents to rape cases, Miri’s crime scenes this year were grisly and harrowing, starting with the death of Tiffany Wong, 17, on March 25. It was supposed to be an ordinary day in any SPM student’s lifetime when she was supposed to come home and show her SPM exam results to her parents. Instead, police recovered her body from a drain after being led there by her childhood friend who confessed to the grisly crime. Her death and the circumstances surrounding it shocked not only the Miri community, but the whole state when it was discovered that she had been strangled, her face covered in a black plastic bag and her body dumped in a drain along Beraya Lama, Bakam. Condolences flooded Tiffany’s Facebook page from friends and Sarawakians who were stunned and horrified by the news. The case has been classified under Section 302 of the Penal Code. In the middle of April, we were stunned by news of a car gone ablaze at the Pujut 7 roundabout
at about 6.30pm. The car and its driver were so badly burned that it took about a day for policemen to find out the deceased’s identity. The actual cause of the explosion is yet to be determined. On a drizzling afternoon on June 17, the body of Form Three boy Kenneth Sirai, 15 was found floating in Marina Bay, Luak, a few hours after he went for a swimming trip with some 10 friends. He was later brought to Miri Hospital for a post-mortem. The Miri community was shaken once again by news of a mentally disturbed man who allegedly killed his adopted mother at Taman Tunku. The body of Ranai Langgat, 81, was found in a pool of blood on the floor with the suspect sitting next to her body on May 5. Ranai’s body had injuries and multiple contusions on her eyes, chest and legs. It was believed that the woman was beaten repeatedly with a wooden stick (used to scratch one’s back) by the suspect. The suspect, released from the phychiatric ward of Miri Hospital barely 24 hours before, was sent to the mental hospital at
GRISLY: Police recovering Tiffany Wong’s body at Beraya Lama, Bakam. Mile 7, Kuching for treatment. On a weird note, a woman believed to be of South American origin stunned several passers by at Jalan Maju when she appeared in the alleyway naked in July. The number of the car she sat down on for a while, 1322, won the consolation prize in the 4D the day after the incident. The impromptu ‘tiger show’
lasted about 30 minutes, before she was escorted to Miri Central Police Station (CPS) for investigation. Last November, crowds enjoying a dance-filled night at an entertainment outlet here had a gruesome experience when a man hurled human faeces onto the dance floor. The suspect in his 20’s was arrested for questioning.
Crimes of passion Rise in passion-crime murders and vehicle thefts in Sibu by Wilson Kong
Violent crimes in Sibu escalated when five passion-crime murder incidents occurred one after another throughout the year. Even so, police continue to tighten up security in town for the crime beat with 24-hour daily presence in collaboration with The People’s Vigilante Corps (Rela) and Civil Defense Department under the National Key Result Areas (NKRA). Police were also concerned about the rise of vehicle thefts and managed to score a major success in clamping down rampant vehicle and snatch thefts. A spinster died after sustaining five fatal stabs, one in her neck, three in the chest and one in the stomach in a robbery on Dec 10. The incident at 8pm occurred at the Tanjung Maling jetty behind the old Lau King Howe Memorial Museum.
The lone woman, 41-year-old Chew Ming, was on her way home at Sungai Sadit after closing her hairdressing salon as usual. She was sitting on a motorcycle reading by the headlight of her motorcycle while waiting for a ferry to cross the Rajang River when she was robbed and stabbed. The last ferry was at 8.30pm. Normally, people avoid using the ferry from 8pm as the route from the jetty passes through a very dark stretch without any street light. Police found the victim’s motorcycle and helmet in the river after spotting the handle of the bike protruding from the water. They also found a pair of shoes belonging to the woman at the jetty where the robbery was believed to have occurred. A knife, believed to be the weapon used during the robbery, was found in a bush and the victim’s handbag in a drain nearby.
VIOLENT END: Ramson’s body at the crime scene.
Several thousands of ringgit collected from the day’s business placed in the bag was missing. Her gold necklace and mobile phone were still with her. Members of the public found her lying in a pool of blood on the dark road, a short distance from the jetty. She was still breathing when they found her. Rescue 991 rushed her to hospital but she succumbed to her stab wounds at 9.25pm even as doctors attempted to revive her. On Oct 20, three members of a family were brutally slashed to death at their house at Jalan Chew Kung in Sungai Empawah. Farmer Tiong Tang Ming, 69, his son Tiong King, 35, and daughter-in-law Teu Lee Mee, 32, were killed in the 8.30pm incident. Police chief ACP Shafie Ismail revealed that the gruesome killing of the three family members was not an armed robbery case but one sparked from a quarrel between the orchard owner and his workers. He confirmed that the three murderers were workers of slain farmer Tang Ming, adding that they were illegal immigrants who had been tapping rubber for the estate owner. Shafie said he believed the sequence of events sparked by their rejected pay request, provoking the workers into violence. “The circumstantial facts proved that there was a struggle in the house, and that the farmer managed to fend the attack.” He said both of the farmer’s forearms were inflicted with multiple knife wounds believed to fend the knife attack. The police chief said this led to the attack on the family members, including the farmer’s wife Peh
CRIME SCENE: The jetty Chew Ming used to commute daily to her work and return home. (Inset) Chew Ming.
CORDONED OFF: Policemen searching the crime scene at Simpang Aloi for weapon. Kim Eng, his son and daughter-inlaw Teu Lee Mee. Peh survived the attack because she played dead after she was slashed in the neck. Shafie said after the attacks, the workers ransacked the house. “We believed they fled with cash and jewelry. Before that, the farmer had struck the lottery. We are now probing whether the winning cash has been taken.” A Filipino was found dead in the jungle near his rented house in Belaga on Sept 30. His wife, who stumbled upon the gruesome find, found several slash wounds at the back of his head. Belaga police chief DSP Bakar Sabau said a parang was found at the scene at Simpang Aloi, on Km28 Bintulu-Bakun Road, and they suspected it could be the murder weapon. Bakar said police first received a call from Asen Tista’s wife at 8.50am on Sept 30. “The wife, a local, had found her husband’s body among the bushes at 8.30am and alerted us.” Bakar said Assen Tista’s wife had, at 12.30am, been awoken from her sleep when she heard her husband screaming outside. He said she immediately went out to check, but she could not see anything as it was dark and went back to sleep. When she woke up in the morning, she could not find Asen in the house. “She went out to check and found Asen Tista lying motionless in the bushes.” Asen left behind his wife and a child. The police chief said crimes in Belaga were generally wellcontrolled, adding that the killing of Asen was the only murder reported in the hinterland district this year. Since 2009, he said, this district recorded one murder case annually. On Aug 6, a man who
went missing after trying to retrieve his car from a friend was found murdered and two suspects, including his friend to whom he lent the car, have been caught. The two men were remanded to help in the murder probe. Police in Sibu and Julau found the body of the 61-year-old man in a drain beside a stone and earth road in Pakan, Julau, about oneand-a-half hours’ drive from the main road at 2pm on Aug 10. It was suspected that Loh Eng Ping was battered to death with a piece of wood during an attempted robbery by five men, including the friend. The dead man’s pockets appeared to have been searched by the robbers. No valuables were left on him. Sibu police tracked Loh’s whereabouts after his daughter Lynn lodged a police report. They found that his handphone had been used to make calls at various places including Mile 15 and 18, Oya Road and Bukit Lima Forest Reserve. The calls were traced and police made the first arrest at a hotel here on Aug 9. They found Loh’s car abandoned at Mile 15, Oya Road the following day. Police said the car was spotted by a friend of Loh’s family who called a family member, and together with the police, Loh’s daughter and her husband rushed to the scene. They found the car’s number plate had been changed. It was taken back to the police station. According to police after they combed the scene, one of the suspects staying at Mile 16 went over, pretending to be an innocent bystander. But he was arrested after he was identified as the one who had met Loh on Aug 6 in the evening. A man was killed and another seriously injured
in a dispute with a third man, Ling, who claimed he was only trying to sort out a misunderstanding for his 40year-old friend on May 14. Ramson Hassan from Nanas Road died in the incident which occurred in the lounge of a hotel at 11.45pm. A police team arrived at the scene after being tipped off about the incident. The suspect Ling turned himself in at the police station at 4.30am the following day and was remanded for seven days. Prior to the incident, Ramson, 39, and Soon Hock Hoe, 38, were drinking at a table while Ling, 35, was with nine friends at another table in the lounge. It was believed that a quarrel ensued between the duo at the first table and a third man, in his 40s, from the group seated at the other table. Ling, who was drinking with the man in his 40s, brought the duo to the hotel’s lobby to prevent the situation from getting worse. However, the two turned on Ling. Ramson whipped out a spur and charged at Ling who grabbed the spur and slashed at the duo, supposedly in self-defence. After that, Ling fled the scene. Ramson collapsed on the ground and died after sustaining nine slash wounds on his chest, stomach and left thigh. Soon suffered a nasty gash on the stomach and two cuts on his left arm and forehead. He was also injured on the back of the head. Police found two spurs on Ramson’s body. They also found two masks, two wooden bars and a glove in his car which they brought to Sibu Central Police Station. The DJ, two staff in the lounge and the man, who had quarreled with Ramson and Soon before the attack, had their statements recorded before they were released.
It’s a prominent year for w in business and economy
Saturday, December 31, 2011
Datuk Fatimah Abdullah an A-rating. What made it more distinguished was that Dr Zeti was the sole woman incumbent in the list – even beating US Federal Reserve chairman Ben S Bernanke, who got a C-rating and European Central Bank president Jean-Claude Trichet, who received a negative Brating.
Pacing, not running by Ghaz Ghazali
THE role of women in the fields of business and economy has now become more prominent than ever, particularly in 2011 with names like Christine Lagarde, Angela Merkel, Julia Gillard, Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz, Datuk Fatimah Abdullah and Datuk Susan Wong gracing most of the headlines in the last 12 months. “We decided that our 2011 theme should be ‘Women as Agents of Change’,” declared the Commonwealth’s secretarygeneral Kamalesh Sharma. Obviously, the ‘change’ factor has been highly instrumental in amplifying the presence of women across the global economic landscape for this year. When the shocking sex scandal in May caused former International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) head Dominique StraussKahn to lose his job, history was made when Lagarde, 55, became the fi rst ever woman to lead the world’s foremost
financing and monetary body – a situation many thought was highly unlikely a few decades ago. However, the appointment of ex-French Finance Minister Lagarde couldn’t have happened at the worse timing. “If I have one message tonight about Greece, it is to call on the Greek political opposition to support the party that is currently in power in a spirit of national unity,” Lagarde said minutes after her appointment on June 28, referring to efforts by the IMF-European Union (EU) team to head off a Greek default that at the time, was seen as a ‘time bomb’ that could touch off an international crisis. With such a challenging start, it appeared that Lagarde would be undertaking an arduous task of taking Europe’s economic situation out of the crisis over the next five years before retiring from the IMF. “If you were to ask me, it (global economic
Datuk Susan Wong
All will do no good if we don’t change the mentality of women; if we are too afraid to take risks in order to go forward. On the other hand, it is also equally vital for women to recognise their own interests. Juita Drap, DUBS Women Chapter chairperson
outlook) will be revised downwards – undoubtedly,” Lagarde told reporters recently in Brasilia. “The global economic outlook will be lower; and in certain parts, much lower than what we had initially envisaged.”
A tough year For Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard, the year 2011 has been a really tough one . Two months ago, the 51-yearold premier was barely defensive of her stand, fending off recordlow levels in opinion polls, a resurgent opposition and a leadership challenge within her own Labor Party. “I said 2011 would be a year of decision and delivery. I never said it wouldn’t be hard,” Gillard said in a recent speech. Decision and delivery – Gillard did. The Australian fi rst female premier had managed to secure the parliamentary approval of her two biggest – also the most unpopular – policies; the carbon tax and a 30-per cent tax on coal and iron ore miners. Gillard also kept the momentum going by empowering her slim Labor Party majority from one seat to three. Adding to this, well-received visits by England’s Queen Elizabeth and US President Barack Obama also contributed towards gaining a renewed hope that could very well carry her through to the next election. What was more significant, Gillard had been recently recommended for a 31-per cent pay rise to take her salary to A$481,000 (US$476,000) – more than Obama, which according to the White House, was earning US$395,188.
Success stories Naturally, every great power comes with an even greater challenge – but along with it,
also comes success. In June, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced that the Cabinet had approved the policy of ensuring that 30 per cent of women should be at the decision-making level in the private sector, which entailed a similar policy for women in the public sector last year. “The approval of this policy is very encouraging as the government is increasing its efforts towards addressing issues confronting women, enabling them to realise their full potential and participate more effectively in the economic and social development of the country,” said Datuk Susan Wong, president of Sabah Housing and Real Estate Developers Association (Shareda). An enterprising businesswoman herself, Wong – also founder and managing director of her own property development company Mega Sunwise Sdn Bhd – added that it was essential that women should be given the right opportunities, environment and mindset so that they could participate and contribute in the various fields of national development. “In Malaysia, women in decision-making positions stand at 14 per cent. Those on the boards of government-linked and private companies remain very low, in single digit. “The decision made by the Cabinet is a ‘landmark decision’ which will change the participation of women in our country to a much higher level. Thus, it can become a catalyst in the affi rmative measures taken towards achieving gender equality in the corporate sector,” she stressed. The high recognition did not stop at national level. In August, Bank Negara governor Dr Zeti was named one of top six central bank chiefs to be named Global Finance Magazine’s ‘World Top Central Bankers for 2011’ with
Closer to home, however, Fatimah – who is Welfare, Women and Family Development Minister – believed that the development of women in the country’s economic growth story was still at a ‘pacing’ stage, not yet ‘running’. “In the case of Sarawak, we are still lagging behind those in West Malaysia. The need for identification on the areas and goals we want to achieve is important,” she emphasised. Always the champion of women entrepreneurship and business development in Sarawak, Fatimah was conferred the `Panglima Gemilang Bintang Kenyalang award from the Head of State in September, carrying the title `Datuk’ on her. Remarking that the Datukship wasn’t only for herself but also symbolising the state’s recognition for all the contributions made by women, Fatimah pointed out that Sarawakian women shared similar motivations with their male counterparts to heighten national development and preserve social harmony.
“Entrepreneurship is particularly important for women in rural districts as a key means to improving their socioeconomic statuses.”
A long road to glory With the endorsement by the government and many role models as inspirations, women would still need further efforts to boost their participation in the nation’s economic growth story. Juita Drap – who heads the Women’s Chapter of Sarawak Bumiputera Chamber of Entrepreneurs (DUBS) – believed that all policies and opportunitites in place would be futile, if women refused to accept change. “All will do no good if we don’t change the mentality of women; if we are too afraid to take risks in order to go forward. On the other hand, it is also equally vital for women to recognise their own interests.” The recipient of this year’s Chief Minister’s Woman Entrepreneur Award in October, Juita pointed out that it would still be a long road for women towards establishing a foundation in a still maledominated economy. “However, sexual biasness plays no excuse to a person’s strings of success or failures. Men or women, it’s all the same when it comes to business. “It all boils down to the efforts and initiatives one puts in,” she said. In this regards, Juita has been active towards helping others to realise their dreams, interests and capabilities. “You must venture into something you like and from there, the drive to succeed grows,” she underscored. Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz
Saturday, December 31, 2011
Braving the challenges in 2012
Amidst global volatility, the state can leverage on initiatives outlined in the state budget by Ghaz Ghazali
IN view of rising uncertainties in the global economy, Sabah can expect to face another challenging year in 2012 with a bigger heap of tough tasks on its plate. Up to the first half of 2011, the state posted less-thanencouraging performance from its external sector, with exports volume registering low figures for most of its export commodities. “We are mindful that the government is confronted with various challenges and obstacles in carrying out its responsibilities. Despite the uncertainties, the government will continue its efforts to ensure the state’s economy is managed efficiently, effectively and sustainably; through sound policies, programmes and initiatives,” said Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Aman in the Sabah Budget 2012 tabling in November. To note, the state’s external trade sector registered export growth of four per cent in the first half of 2011 while imports saw a higher growth of 13.2 per cent, mainly due to higher import cost of food and fuel. Lower trade balance of RM8.31 billion was recorded in the first half of 2011 against the RM9.18billion level in the same period in 2010. For 2012, Musa Aman believed that amidst challenges in the global economy, Sabah’s sources of economic growth would likely to derive from the domestic sector while the external sector would moderate. Adding to this, he noted that private investment had picked up in 2011. For the first seven months of 2011, approved investment in the manufacturing sector was RM955 million versus RM270.15 million for the same period in 2010. “Private investment, public investment and domestic consumption are expected to stimulate growth with the implementation of various private and public sector projects; coupled with the many incentives announced in the National Budget 2012 to stimulate domestic consumption. Against this scenario, the state’s economy is
projected to grow between 4.5 to five per cent in 2012,” he said. In particular, one prospective area that Sabah could leverage upon would be that of the oil and gas (O&G) sector. Drawing prospects in O&G Recent news have highlighted the boom in O&G sector in Sabah, notably with the ongoing involvement of Petronas bolstering its presence in the state. With projects including the Sabah Oil Gas Terminal, the Kimanis Gas Fired Ammonia Power Plant, and the Urea Plant Project in Sipitang, the national petroleum company has been forging ahead with these upstream and downstream O&G projects involving a combined capital investment of RM45 billion. “Sabah shares a long relationship with Petronas. Petronas’ upstream and downstream O&G projects in Sabah will facilitate a marked increase in employment opportunities for Malaysians in Sabah and for local contractors, with subsequent growth in their standard of living,” said Musa Aman. He added that Sabah firms could expect at least RM600 million in contracts in the US$1.5-billion (RM4.6 billion) Samur ammonia-urea plant project in Sipitang, owned by the Petronas Chemicals Group Bhd. “This signifies Petronas’ earnestness in giving Malaysians in Sabah the opportunities to be players in the business of oil and gas,” he underlined. Strength in tourism While the O&G field has the potential to attract huge foreign direct investments (FDIs) into the state, another focus sector for Sabah that has the same pull is tourism. Obviously, tourism has always been one of Sabah’s core economic boosters. In the recent Sabah State Budget 2012, the distribution of the proposed supply and development allocation to the state’s Ministry Of Tourism, Culture and Environment would amount to more than RM130 million. Chief Minister Musa Aman underlined tourism as one of three highlighted sectors in the ‘Halatuju’ – the state’s
STATE LEADERS: (From right) Chief Minister Musa Aman displays the Sabah 2012 Budget speech at the State Legislative Assembly Hall in Kota Kinabalu. Accompanying him are his deputies Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, Datuk Yahya Hussin and Datuk Dr Yee Moh Chai. — Bernama photo very own development and progress blueprint – that would be supported by a large allocation for improvement of basic infrastructure and public utilities. To further strengthen the sector, the government would also be allocating RM158.84 million to the ministry and its six agencies as well as the Forestry Department and Sabah Biodiversity Centre; comprising RM139.7 million for operation and RM19.14 million for implementing various development programmes. In the longer-term, Sabah should be set to contribute at least 10 per cent to the nation’s targeted RM168-billion tourism receipts and 36 million international tourists arrivals by 2020. “We are drafting the Sabah Tourism Master Plan and any new ideas on how we can attract more people to come here will be based on our master plan,” Sabah Tourism Board’s chairman Datuk Tengku Dr Zainal Adlin said. “We also discussed on ways to identify human capital and ensure that the facilities and infrastructures are in place. We will also continue to foster closer ties with the government agencies, non-governmental organisations and other tourism players to meet our target,” said Dr Zainal. This would bring to another significant key element in Sabah’s economic future – human capital. The working minds “Human capital is the foundation, asset and catalyst to bring about new ideas to uplift the well-being and prosperity of the state as one of the developed states in Malaysia by 2020,” stressed Musa Aman. He underscored the quality and moral values of human capital would continue to be inculcated among government’s employees and the society, with a particular focus on youths. In realising this, Musa Aman said the government would allocate a total of RM204 million under Sabah Budget 2012 for human capital development programmes.
Especially for the youngsters, the state government would be allocating a sum of RM58.27 million in 2012 to implement various Youth Development Programmes including scholarship awards, skills programmes, grassroots youth association programmes, registration campaign of grassroots youth association and programmes with public and private higher learning institutions and schools. “We will continue to intensify our efforts and devote our strength to realise all planned programmes and development agenda,” said Musa Aman. SME development While very much focused on tourism and property development, the state’s very own development growth masterplan Sabah Development Corridor (SDC) would also be according a special attention to the small and medium enterprise (SME) sector in its second phase. Musa Aman recently announced that during the five-year implementation of the second phase until 2015, the Sabah Economic Development and Investment Authority (Sedia) would be supporting the creation of a viable environment to create vibrant SME development in the state via the provision of greater focus on strengthening SMEs, rural entrepreneurs, agro-entrepreneurs and startups identified under the SDC initiatives. “The entry of new entrepreneurs, especially startups in knowledge-intensive sectors, which can serve as new growth sources such as biotechnology, oil and natural gas, creative industries and green technology, will be promoted,” he said. Currently, SMEs represent 99.2 per cent of total active business establishments in Malaysia, making it the most viable sector to become among key drivers in transforming the country towards an innovationled economy. “Since 2004, SMEs had consistently outperformed overall national economic growth at an average of 6.3
MAMMOTH RETAIL DEVELOPMENT: The 1Borneo Hypermall, opened in 2008, is touted as the largest shopping mall in Borneo. It is located near Sepanggar, one of Kota Kinabalu’s most rapidly developing parts.
We are mindful that the government is confronted with various challenges and obstacles in carrying out its responsibilities. Despite the uncertainties, the government will continue its efforts to ensure the state’s economy is managed efficiently, effectively and sustainably; through sound policies, programmes and initiatives. Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Aman, Sabah Chief Minister
per cent, compared with the 4.5 per cent in average annual gross domestic product (GDP) expansion, helping to stabilise economic growth during periods of financial crisis,” Musa Aman said. Going all for it With all said and done, Sabah seems to be well-equipped to brave a new tough year. Notably, the state’s Budget 2012 had highlighted an expenditure of over RM4 billion for 2012 – the biggest expenditure ever in the state’s financial history. “This is in line with and pertinent to the Sabah 2012 Budget’s theme ‘Accelerating the State’s Well-being and Prosperity’,” said Musa Aman. He emphasised that the Sabah government, through strategies outlined in the state
budget would, among others, provide necessary allocations to implement its development programmes for the well-being of the people and prosperity. These initiatives, he added, would complement the national development agenda implemented through the Government Transformation Programme, Economic Transformation Programme and the New Economic Model. “One of the objectives of the 2012 Budget is to stimulate economic growth by emphasising improvement on basic infrastructures and public utilities for the benefit of the people and investors. With such a huge budget, allocations have been earmarked with commitment to support the continuous growth of our economy,” the chief minister stressed.
ICONIC: The cylindrical-shaped Tun Mustapha Building – formerly known as the Sabah Foundation Tower – at Likas Bay stands tall at 122 metres high, symbolising the state’s economic progress with its role as the corporate administration centre. The tower’s current official name was taken after Sabah’s former Chief Minister, the late Tun Datu Mustapha Harun.
Saturday, December 31, 2011
Sarawak: Aiming for a high
SCORE amidst uncertainties Riding on strong domestic demand, potential generation from national growth agenda towards a promising 2012
POTRAIT OF A LEADER: Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud. – Bernama photo by Ghaz Ghazali
THERE is no denying that Sarawak – as with other parts of the world – will experience a tougher 2012 after going through a rather turbulent 2011. Just when the world economy was beginning to heal from a series of unexpected shocks – political unrest in the Middle East and North African regions that aggravated the alreadysurging oil prices; and supply disruptions arising from March-11 earthquake/tsunami disaster in Japan – the impact from ongoing financial volatility in the Western economy, particularly in Europe, could very well impede initiatives towards recovery. “The global economic prospect is expected to be more challenging in 2012,” said Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud in his speech during the tabling of Sarawak State Budget 2012 at the State Legislative Assembly in November. These circumstances are expected to dampen global economic growth for the year.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) had revised downwards the world economic growth for 2012 to four per cent from its earlier projection of 4.5 per cent, while the world trade to downtrend by 5.8 per cent from an earlier forecast of 6.9 per cent – a decline of more than one per cent. Amidst such unfavourable backdrop, Sarawak remains cautiously optimistic, anticipating an economic growth of 4.5 per cent in 2011, and five per cent in 2012. “As the outlook for 2012 would be affected by the increasingly adverse external environment, strong domestic economic fundamentals are expected to support growth. The domestic sources of growth are enhanced further by the pragmatic macroeconomic policies and the implementation of various projects under the Economic Transformation Programmes (ETP),” stressed Taib, who is also the state’s Finance Minister. SCORE: The growth powerhouse With regards to the state’s growth story, the Sarawak Corridor of Re-
newable Energy (SCORE) stands out as the key generator towards attaining the goal for Sarawak to achieve a high-income state by 2020, and a fully-developed one by 2030. Even with concerns over the uncertainties in the US and Japan as well as the deepening of debt-sovereign crisis in Europe, the state’s five per-cent growth would be underpinned by the sustained expansion of private domestic demand and strong exports of commodities arising from high commodity prices and favourable regional demand. “Economic prospects in the region continued to look positive as well as supported by strong domestic demand and economic activities generated by the ongoing projects under the 10th Malaysia Plan and the SCORE area,” highlighted Taib. Launched in February 2008 by former Prime Minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, SCORE is one of five core regional economic development corridors in the country. From 2009 until August 2011, it has attracted 14 mega projects worth a total of RM28.55 billion. “Sarawak leads the total investments with a proposed value of RM7.3 billion as at October, while Selangor is second with RM6.8 billion and Johor third with RM6.7 billion,” said Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir recently. Out of the total RM7.3 billion investment so far this year, the deputy minister pointed out that RM4.2 billion, or 57.5 per
As the outlook for 2012 would be affected by the increasingly adverse external environment, strong domestic economic fundamentals are expected to support growth. The domestic sources of growth are enhanced further by the pragmatic macroeconomic policies and the implementation of various projects under the Economic Transformation Programmes (ETP). Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, Chief Minister
CLOSE COMRADES: Taib shares a light moment with his Sabah’s counterpart, Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Aman (left). – Bernama photo
HALAL GROWTH NODE: The Chief Minister takes a closer look at the scale model of Tanjung Manis Halal Hub with wife Puan Sri Ragad Kurdi Taib (right). Accompanying Taib are Tanjung Manis Halal Hub’s executive chairperson Datuk Norah Tun Abdul Rahman (left) who is also Tanjung Manis Member of Parliament, and Halal Industry Development Corporation’s vice president Dr Abdul Malik Musharaf (second left). – Bernama photo cent, came from domestic direct investment (DDI) while RM3.1 billion (42.5 per cent) from foreign direct investment (FDI). As the name stated, the core of the SCORE would be its energy resources, capable of generating up to 28,000 megawatt (MW) of power, particularly hydropower – allowing the state to price its energy competitively and encourage investments in power generation and energy-intensive industries that could act as triggers for the development of a vibrant industrial development in the corridor. Tanjung Manis – The halal hub However, energy will not be the only piece in the whole corridor’s jigzaw. The state’s Industrial Development Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan outlined that approved projects in SCORE would predominantly be in the energy-intensive industries such as aluminium smelting plants, polycrystalline silicon, metalic silicon and ferro alloy projects. However, two more companies – one biotechnology and the other agro-based, had commenced operations at Tanjung Manis Halal Hub. “These particular SCORE projects are expected to generate more than 10,000 job opportunities besides creating vast business opportunities through the spin-off effects,” said Awang Tengah, who is also Public Utilities Minister. At present, the country has 11 halal hubs, with more than RM6 billion in investments. In Sarawak, about RM1.8 billion in investments has been secured in the Tanjung Manis Halal Hub. Chief Minister Taib said the government would continue to develop infrastructure to enhance its halal hub initiative. In this respect, the port at Tanjung Manis Halal Hub would be extended soon to not only
GIANT POWERHOUSE: The energy behemoth Bakun Hydroelectric Dam on the Balui River west of Belaga has begun generating power in mid-2011. – AFP photo
STATE’S SYMBOLS: The State Legislative Assembly Hall stands majestically across downtown Kuching, providing a grand backdrop of the Sarawak River with festivelydecorated ‘perahu tambangs’ lining up the riverbank at the city’s side. – Bernama photo transform the state into the nation’s leading player in the halal industry; but also to tap into the trillion-dollar global halal market. He added that to date, the state had managed to attract high technology investments to develop Tanjung Manis to a level where the government could encourage the development of various biotechnology initiatives. “The halal hub would open up numerous job opportunities for the people as the industries here would require technical expertise such as basic life sciences and chemical engineering. “So huge is the potential of the halal industry that even if we only take one per cent of the global market share, that is easily equivalent to RM700 million. We will ensure that the halal hub industry develop further so that we could achieve more than the RM700 million worldwide market share.” Facing a challenging 2012
PULSE OF THE STATE: A view from the Sultan Iskandar Federal Government Complex at Simpang Tiga shows a vibrant city that is Kuching. — Bernama photo
The 10 priority industries in SCORE would ideally generate about 58,200 new jobs in the first five years to 2015, with the best
year being 2010. This would mean about 11,600 new jobs should be created each year, of which 620 a year would comprise professionals; 1,700 semi professionals; 700 support groups; and 8,600 general workers. Nevertheless, with the current backdrop of weakened global economic situation, the new year might prove to be a challenging one for the state. “For us to ride through this challenging economic environment, the government and the people must maintain unity and stability; and remain agile, resilient, productive and efficient,” stressed Taib. He advocated that the state must plan well ahead with greater foresight, and being able to enhance its capability so as to ensure that policies would be in the right direction to meet increasing challenges of global scenario and environment. “Most important of all, we can still continue to develop Sarawak to meet the expectation of our younger generation; and that means to restructure our economy so that we will be able to achieve high economy status,” Taib underscored.
Saturday, December 31, 2011
Eleven key market highlights that created the buzz in 2011 THE year 2011 has been kept abuzz with a flow of corporate news that has Bursa Malaysia going, despite being enveloped in a very volatile environment. Nevertheless, the market is expected to enter a somewhat ‘softer’ 2012, according to Bursa Malaysia Bhd’s chief executive officer Datuk
Tajuddin Atan. “Interest in the IPO (initial public offering) market was there but it would depend on timing. The index is holding up very well despite the volatility. When the market comes back, they will rebound well,” he said recently, adding that listing of mega-companies like Felda Global Ventures
#11 Malaysia’s first listed
generating business at the point of IPO; but undertakes one with the intention of acquiring operating companies or businesses with the proceeds raised from the exercise. Hibiscus Petroleum raised RM234 million from its IPO, which initially consisted of 200 to 400 million ordinary shares at an offer price of RM0.75 per share at RM0.01 par value.
SPAC: Hibiscus Petroleum
On July 25, Hibiscus Petroleum Bhd (Hibiscus Petroleum) became the first ‘Special Purpose Acquisition Company’ (SPAC) to be listed in Main Market of Bursa Malaysia Securities Bhd. SPAC is defined as a company that has no operations or income
Sdn Bhd (Felda Global Ventures), Khazanah Nasional Bhd’s (Khazanah) healthcare unit Integrated Healthcare Holdings and MMC Corp Bhd’s subsidiary Gas Malaysia Bhd by next year, should augur well for the capital market to attract investors both domestic and abroad. To date, the number of new
listings in 2011 totalled 28 companies, raising a total amount close to RM7 billion. In 2010, 29 companies were listed on Bursa Malaysia. Commemorating the eventful 2011, the followings are 11 major market and corporate highlights that impacted the market throughout the year. MEGA-GROUP: SapuraCrest’s executive vice-chairman and president Shahril (left) together with Kencana’s chief executive officer Mokhzani will co-head the new SapuraCrestKencana merged entity.
O&G boost: Proposed SapuraCrest-Kencana deal
LAST LISTING: Pavilion REIT’s chief executive officer Philip Ho (right) joins other executive directors during the listing of the REIT on Bursa Malaysia.
Last, but not least: Pavillion REIT listing
The trigger: CIMB-Maybank takeover bid on RHB Capital
#10 GLC divestiture: Pos
Malaysia takeover by DRBHicom
On April 22, national investment holdings Khazanah announced the divestiture of its 32.21-per cent stake in the country’s postal company Pos Malaysia Bhd (Pos Malaysia) to DRB-Hicom Bhd (DRB-Hicom). The exercise was made via a conditional offer with a price consideration of RM3.60 per share, or RM622.79 million, by which the offer price was subject to the modification of the ‘Special Rights Redeemable Preference Share’ in Pos Malaysia held by Minister of Finance Inc. Deemed as a landmark divestment as it was Khazanah’s first divestment of its entire stake in a major governmentlinked company (GLC), the decision was made following a rigorous selection process initiated by Khazanah to ensure that the new shareholder would be able to bring Pos Malaysia to the next level of growth.
On May 31, Bank Negara announced that it had no objection in principle for both CIMB Group Holdings Bhd (CIMB) and Malayan Banking Bhd (Maybank) to commence negotiations with RHB Capital Bhd (RHB Capital) and its substantial shareholders for a possible merger of the businesses and undertakings of these banking groups. The news itself had triggered a chain reaction not only in the banking industry, but rippled across other sectors as well. Although the deal did not work out as intended for both CIMB and Maybank, the Bursa’s May note had set the ball rolling, with economists and market observers viewing the year as a ‘season for potential consolidations and mergers’.
On December 7, Pavilion Real Estate Investment Trust (Pavilion REIT) made its debut on the Main Market of Bursa Malaysia following strong demand from both global institutional and retail investors as part of its IPO. Being the largest retail REIT in the country, the open-
Big Bursa debut: Bumi Armada listing On July 21, Bumi Armada Bhd (Bumi Armada) – a homegrown international offshore services provider – debuted on the Main Market of Bursa Malaysia at RM3.65 per share for a premium of 62 sen, over its IPO price of RM3.03. At the opening bell, 19.09 million shares exchanged hands. Speaking to reporters after the company’s listing, Bumi Arma-
da’s executive director and chief executive officer Hassan Assad Basma said the company aimed to become the world’s fourth largest player in terms of fleet size by end of 2013. Bumi Armada’s RM2-billion listing marked the completion of the largest IPO in the country for 2011; and the second largest in Southeast Asia so far after Singapore Stock Exchange’s US$5.5-billion Hutchison Port Holdings Trust, which was listed in March.
FINANCIAL ROADMAP: Prime Minister Datuk Seri NajibTun Abdul Razak showcases new RM10 and RM20 notes after launching the Financial Sector Blueprint at Bank Negara.Also present is the central bank’s governor Tan Sri Dr Zeti Akhtar Aziz. — Bernama photo
Masterplan unveiled: Financial Sector Blueprint 2011-202
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad
ing price of Pavilion REIT was at RM1.03 over its institutional price of RM0.90, with a trading volume of 15.7 million units. It raised total gross proceeds of approximately RM710 million from the IPO. At time of writing, it was the last listing exercised on Bursa Malaysia for 2011, closing the year as the 28th company to be listed on the board.
On July 11, Integral Key Sdn Bhd (IKSB) had simultaneously made offers to oil and gas (O&G) companies SapuraCrest Petroleum Bhd (SapuraCrest) and Kencana Petroleum Bhd (Kencana), in which IKSB would propose to facilitate a merger of businesses within both groups. The proposed merger, expected to be completed by the end of February 2012, would
see a cash-and-share swap deal by IKSB to acquire all assets and liabilities of Kencana for RM5.98 billion; and SapuraCrest for RM5.87 billion. The RM11.85-billion merged entity – touted to become the world’s fourth largest O&G player by market capitalisation – would be co-headed by as SapuraCrest’s executive vicechairman and president Datuk Seri Shahril Shamsuddin together with Kencana’s chief executive officer Datuk Mokhzani Mahathir.
On December 21, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak unveiled the Financial Sector Blueprint 2011-2020. Designed as a strategic 10-year plan that would chart the future direction of the nation’s financial system, Malaysia would promote greater foreign participation in the financial sec-
tor under a strategic and managed approach to become a diversified and integrated financial sector. Among others, the blueprint would be aimed at raising the standards of governance and risk management by strengthening the corporate governance of financial institutions and the role of market discipline, as well as raising the standards of risk management and internal control functions.
BIG PLAYER: Bumi Armada’s chairman Datuk Seri Mahamad Fathil (second left) strikes the gong to mark the group’s RM2-billion listing on Bursa Malaysia.
Takeover talks: Proton sell-off plan
‘Sugary’ debut: MSM Holdings listing On June 28, MSM Malaysia Holdings Bhd (MSM Holdings) – the sugar manufacturing unit of Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) – was listed on Bursa Malaysia. The country’s leading sugar producer – accounting for approximately 57 per cent of total sugar production in Malaysia – managed to raise slightly over RM800 million from the its share sale, which saw the company valued at about RM2.4 billion. The listing marked Felda’s move to monetise its assets. It also preluded the mega-IPO of Felda Global Ventures, which could happen in April 2012 and raise around RM6 billion – possibly becoming the largest since the record RM12.8-billion IPO of Petronas Chemicals Group Bhd in 2010.
#6 End of merger saga:
EON Capital-Hong Leong Bank
On May 6, Hong Leong Bank Bhd (Hong Leong Bank) announced the completion of its acquisition of EON Capital Bhd’s (EON Capital) assets and liabilities for RM5.06 billion; resulting in EON Bank Group – comprising EON Bank Bhd, EONCap Islamic Bank Bhd and MIMB Investment Bank Bhd – becoming part of the Hong Leong Bank Group. Following a 15-month battle, the merger had created Malaysia’s fourth largest
On December 12, former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad made a statement that triggered more speculation on Khazanah’s plan to sell its 42.7per cent in national automaker Proton Holdings Bhd (Proton). Dr Mahathir, who is also Proton’s adviser, said conglomerate DRBHicom was likely to win the bid for Proton given its sound financial and management capabilities. According to reports, DRBHicom might pay about RM1.38 billion, or RM5.90 per share, for the Proton’s stake held by Khazanah. Persisting rumours about a possible takeover had resulted in a surge in Proton share price. Following news report quoting Dr Mahathir, the counter put on 24 sen, or six per cent, to close at RM4.23. The counter hit a 10-month high at RM4.50 on December 5, but the share price tumbled after the company’s board shrugged off rumours of a management buyout and takeover. banking group with combined assets of more than RM140 billion. “It is an exciting day,” remarked a beaming Yvonne Chia, Hong Leong Bank’s group managing director and chief executive, on the completed deal.
TITANS: (From left) Khazanah’s managing director Tan Sri Azman Mokhtar, MAS chairman Tan Sri Md Nor Md Yusof and AirAsia’s co-founder/group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes pose during a signing ceremony in Kuala Lumpur. In August, the two rival carriers engaged in a corporate exercise that many deemed ‘impossible’ only a few years ago. — Reuters photo
#1 Historical deal: The MAS-
AirAsia share-swap exercise
On August 9, national carrier Malaysia Airlines (MAS) and lowcost airline AirAsia Bhd (AirAsia) engaged in a corporate exercise that many deemed ‘impossible’ only a few years ago. Tune Air Sdn Bhd (Tune Air) and Khazanah – major shareholders of rivals AirAsia and MAS, respectively – agreed to acquire from each
other existing shares of both companies via a share-swap exercise. As a result, Tune Air would hold 685.142 million ordinary shares in MAS representing 20.5 per cent equity interest in MAS. On the other hand, Khazanah would hold 277.65 million ordinary shares in AirAsia representing 10 per cent equity interest in AirAsia. Analysts, however, were positive on the collaboration, saying it would eliminate irrational competitive pricing,
allow economies of scale, higher bargaining power and synergies. Following the announcement, many analysts believed that such a collaboration would benefit AirAsia more as it gave the low-cost carrier a higher chance to fly routes that were MAS’ domain. For MAS, some noted that it could also result in bringing back profitability despite years of unworkable plans and revamps. So far, AirAsia seemed to be
the big winner. It continued to expand its routes regionally, among the latest being destinations to Da Nang in Vietnam and Surat Thani in Thailand. It also opened a regional office in Jakarta, Indonesia to capitalise on relationship with the Jakarta-based Asean secretariat towards its ‘One Asean’ dream. AirAsia would also be aggressively pursuing its plan to list its Indonesian and Thailand units in 2012.
Saturday, December 31, 2011
Saturday, December 31, 2011
Year of achievements for SLTA by Ting Tieng Hee
KUCHING: It has been another year of achievements for the Sarawak Lawn Tennis Association (SLTA) as the state tennis governing body continued to win awards and recognition for organising several international and local tennis competitions. SLTA was awarded Best Association at the Sarawak State Sports Council Sports Awards 2009-2010 and this was the second time that the association had been honoured after winning it in 2001-2002. “It’s a due recognition given by the State government in acknowledgment of our outstanding performance,” said SLTA president Dato Patrick Liew. He said SLTA also received awards for the Best Women Team in 2007-2008, Sports Leadership (Patrick Liew) 2005-2006 and Youth and Sports Model (Patrick Liew) in 2008. Liew was re-elected as Lawn Tennis Association of Malaysia vice-president for another two years. He is holding the post for the sixth term and is the only Sarawakian in the LTAM committee to have served for such a long time. Apart from that, Liew was also appointed subcommittee member for junior competitions in the ATF. “For the past ten years, we have organised more than six international events including the Chief Minister’s Cup ITF World Junior Tennis Championship, Junior Fed Cup and Junior Davis Cup Asia-Oceania Regional Qualifying, Asian 14 and Under Series and also many other local tournaments and I would say that they were acknowledged by many
countries as very well-run events.” The slick organising has resulted in many officials, players and their parents coming back for several occasions to participate. “As long they have the opportunity, they will bring their players to take part in our international events or even come back for a holiday.” Liew added that there was no doubt that through tennis events, SLTA had put Sarawak on the world map and had earned a good reputation from the Asian Tennis Federation and International Tennis Federation committee members. “So much so whenever we try to bid for international events, we will always be given the priority,” he said. It has never been an easy task for the SLTA to organise international events that consist of at least 25 to 35 countries with 200 participants from different cultures, languages and peculiarities. However, SLTA managed to overcome all odds, receiving many words of appreciation from the referees and coaches through e-mail or ATF/ITF reports. “To me, that is the biggest satisfaction. It is impossible to achieve such level of achievement without total commitment and passion from the SLTA committee. Most importantly, we must enjoy doing it,” Liew said. Throughout his tenure as SLTA president, he pledged to continue to lead his committed and dedicated team to carry out their responsibilities well. “At the present moment, most of my organising committee are fully aware that my involvement in organising international events is a noble task and no longer just as a volunteer or hobby. That makes my job as a leader easier and we will definitely continue to organise six or more international events in 2012 and the years to come,” said Liew. He said with the taking over of the management for the Kuching Integrated Recreational Complex (KIRC), SLTA had transformed the whole centre into a vibrant
complex, which is not only involved in tennis training and development programme but also youth programmes. “We also provide youths and the community an alternate venue for other sports such as futsal, basketball, volleyball, sepak takraw, badminton, jogging activities and leisure cycling as well as youth activities such as concerts, car boot sales, sports carnival, family day so much that SLTA and KIRC have become a hot spot in the state.” KIRC was declared open March 16 this year by the Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud. The complex comprises three futsal courts, two basketball courts, two volleyball courts, two sepak takraw courts and a badminton court. “We will continue to provide more facilities for extreme sports, beach volleyball and mountain biking which are in the pipeline of our planning and preparation,”
Liew said on his vision to turn the complex into a garden sports complex in the heart of the city. Based on SLTA’s assessment and estimates, at least 2,000 people in the month utilise the present facilities. Looking towards 2012, Liew said SLTA is expecting to implement the second phase of its master plan which includes building five more tennis courts and a ‘Games Village’ to house 200 participants of any event at any single occasion. “We are also expecting the second phase of the master plan to be completed before 2014. By then, SLTA will have one of the best facilities in Malaysia or even in the Asian region,” he said. In the meantime, Liew assured that SLTA would continue to ensure that the maintenance and upgrading of the courts and clubhouse would be in tip-top condition.
pion posing with the cham committee members 00 ing 0,0 nis $1 ga US or d the an for ls ny cia tournament offi entation ceremo , es ht) pr rig ize ird pr (th the ew at Li k WELL RUN EVENT: left) and runner-up Nungnadda Wannasu . ird Luksika Kumkhum (th rcuit Championship in this Nov 7 file photo Ci ’s en om W F Kuching IT PEOPLE’S PLACE: An aerial view of the KIRC. Dato Patrick Liew
WFS looking for land to build their wushu training centre COME 2012, the Wushu, Lion and Dragon Dance Federation of Sarawak (WFS) is looking forward to having a piece of land in Samarahan to build their wushu training centre in preparation for Sukma 2016. Following Sukma XIV’s postmortem this year, WFS was directed by the Sarawak State Sports Council (MSNS) to submit a report on the lack of a competition venue and facilities and to apply for a piece of state land for the purpose. The report was duly submitted and WFS applied for a piece of land about 6.32 acres near the SGH Heart Specialist Centre. Due to some technical problems, another piece of four-acre land not far from the initial location was identified and WFS was asked to reapply. “We are still waiting for MSNS’ feedback on this matter. The land will be used to build a centre with the necessary facilities to host Sukma 2016 wushu competition, to be used as an elite training centre as well as a national-based training centre for Sabah, Sarawak and Labuan athletes,” said WFS secretary James Ting. WFS also plans to build hostels for outstation athletes transferred to Kuching for training. With such a centre, WFS would be able to organise state and national, invitational and international competitions as well as host courses and seminars of international standard. “We have several national meets like MSSM, National Wushu Championship, National Day Martial Arts Tournament and we will then be able to host them here in Kuching,” he added. Other activities that can be arranged are the inter-state wushu exchange programme where wushu exponents from other states can come to wushu powerhouse
Sarawak to train with its athletes and exchange ideas. “We are also looking to pose a strong challenge in Sukma XV in Kuantan, Pahang next June,” said Ting. According to him, a team of 29 elite athletes are now undergoing centralised training under China coach Huang Shaoxiong and Ling Ung Hee and Sarawak will be getting another female foreign coach very soon to help with the coaching. The elite athletes will also attend a Sukma XV motivation camp in Camp Pueh, Sematan from Dec 19-22, after which they will fly to Ipoh, Perak from Dec 21-23 for the National Wushu Championship to gain more exposure. Reflecting on 2011, Ting said it was another eventful year as the state wushu exponents continued to shine in both national and international arenas. Other WFS activities included a motivation camp conducted by the association with MSNS backing in August, sending a team to National Junior Wushu Championship (KPM), and successfully organising the Sarawak Wushu Championship in early December. Ling and Gary Tay attended a national judges seminar and passed the exam with flying colours, Sibu and Miri affi liates also organised divisional meets this year and wushu upgrading was conducted in Kuching, Sibu, Miri and Saratok. On the international level, Miriborn Loh Jack Chang and Kuching’s Diana Bong grabbed silver medals at the World Wushu Championship in Ankara, Turkey in October in the men’s taijijian and women’s nanquan resepectively. However, the duo were unable to repeat the feat at the SEA Games in Palembang, Indonesia last month, with Bong winning only a bronze
in the nandao-nangun combined event. National junior exponent Elvic Bong Qian Zheng and Audrey Chan Ye Jo were also impressive at the Asian Junior Wushu Championship in Shanghai, China in August, contributing three silver medals to the national team. Bong won the silver in the qiangshu while Chan bagged the silvers in taijijian and taijiquan. Bong and Chan are among the three Sarawakians being called up by the Wushu Federation of Malaysia to undergo a five-day national training cum selection in Kuala Lumpur for the World Junior Wushu Championship in Hong Kong next March. The other athlete is Sean Chai Wea Jea. In April, another promising athlete Gjeblehem Bong, Diana Bong’s younger brother, was drafted into the national wushu squad. Other achievements by WFS this year included Centre of Excellence Kuching coach Ling Ung Hee winning the Youth Sports 2010 Award and James Ting being awarded Sports Model 2010 by Ministry of Social Development for their contribution in wushu. Despite fielding an under-strength 14-member team, Sarawak wushu athletes performed reasonably well at the National Junior Wushu Championship in Kuala Lumpur in October, bringing home five gold, seven silver and seven bronze medals.
CHAMPIONS: The Sarawak team posing with their medals after the prize presentation for the National Junior Wushu Championship (KPM) at Cheras Badminton Hall in Kuala Lumpur in October.
James Ting Ing Seek
NATIONAL CALL-UP: Bong (centre), Sean Chai and Audrey Chan.
Saturday, December 31, 2011
The year of protests and uprisings September
January AFTER days of clashes in which dozens are killed, and having made empty promises of reforms and elections, former ruler Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali flees to Saudi Arabia. Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi stays on, with
parliamentary speaker Fouad Mebazza as interim president. He is the first leader to fall in the Arab Spring. A new government is elected in October and new president chosen in December. UNSAFE: A protester stands in front of a burning barricade during a demonstration in Cairo. — Reuters photo
PROTESTERS complaining about the power of the financial industry stage noisy demonstrations that slow pedestrian traffic on Wall Street. The protesters settle in Zuccotti Park.
A camp is set up on Sept 17 and becomes the epicentre for the movement, sparking rallies and occupations of public spaces across the United States and elsewhere in the world. The protesters are finally evicted in November.
INDIGNANT:Spain’s ‘indignant’ protesters hold a banner reading ‘we march against the crisis and the capital, to the general strike’ through the streets of Madrid. — AFP photo
February EGYPTIAN President Hosni Mubarak steppel down on Feb 11, 2011 after millions of Egyptians took to the streets to demand an end to his 30-year rule. He makes first appearance at a Cairo court on Aug 3 and reappeared in late December charged with conspiring to kill protesters and other crimes. At least 850 people are killed in the uprising. Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi is the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces
that has since ruled Egypt. Elections for a new parliament will proceed into 2012. The uprising against the nearly 42-year rule of Muammar Gaddafi began in February 2011 in Benghazi. Since then the opposition rebels fought city by city with the help of Nato aerial support. Muammar Gaddafi is killed on Oct 20 after being captured in his home town of Sirte. Three days later the NTC declared the liberation of the nation.
SPANISH youth vows on May 20 to continue demonstrating against unemployment and mainstream politics. Dubbed ‘los indignados’ (the indignant), thousands demonstrating against unemployment and deep austerity measures filled the
main squares of Spain’s cities for days, marking a shift after years of patience with an economic slump. In November elections, incumbent Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero was defeated by Mariano Rajoy and his centre-right People’s Party. DAY OF ACTION: Occupy Wall street demonstrators protest on the streets of lower Manhattan near the New York Stock Exchange during what organisers called a ‘day of action’ in New York. About 500 Occupy Wall Street protesters marched from a New York park onThursday to the stock exchange for a protest that the movement against economic inequality hoped would attract tens of thousands of people. — Reuters photo
MARTYR: A policeman rushes to extinguish Apostolos Polyzonis, a man who set himself alight outside a bank branch in Thessaloniki, northern Greece while protesting against government, banks and political parties. — AFP photo
NUMBERED DAYS: Turkish Muslims burn of picture of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on Jan 30, 2011 during a protest against his regime in front of the Egyptian consulate in Istanbul. Embattled President Hosni Mubarak called out the army and tasked them specifically with helping police quell deadly protests in which around 50 people had been killed. — AFP photo
March SYRIAN President Bashar alAssad faces growing isolation as the bloodshed from his crackdown on demonstrators seeking his overthrow begins
to alienate even sympathetic Arab neighbours. Thousands of people have been killed in months of repression.
GREECE becomes the country with the lowest credit rating in the world after Standard & Poor’s downgraded it by three notches to CCC from B, saying the agency will consider a likely debt restructuring as a default.
POLICE fi re tear gas at stonethrowing youths in Athens, where thousands of striking state sector workers marched against cuts the government says are needed to save the nation from bankruptcy. Greece’s announcement that it would not meet its 2011 deficit target has put in doubt the viability of a 109 billion euro bailout agreed in July.
If that deal must be renegotiated, European banks that hold Greek debt could suffer a heavy blow. EU officials are scrambling to protect banks from a repeat of the crisis that froze the world financial system in 2008. In November, Papandreou steps down and Lucas Papademos heads a crisis coalition.
Papandreou says two days later he will form a new cabinet the next day and seek a vote of confidence from his Socialist party to see through a harsh austerity bill, the target of major recent protests.
July PROTESTERS, mainly from Bahrain’s Shi’ite majority, took to the streets in February demanding a bigger role for elected representatives and less power for ruling alKhalifa family, who are Sunni Muslims. The protests were followed by a harsh crackdown and two months of martial law. The talks, which ended on
July 24, are designed to propose reform in the kingdom but critics say they would carry little weight because the largest Shi’ite opposition group, Wefaq, walked out of the talks. A report issued in November, said that abuse was systematic and called for a commission including opposition figures to implement reforms.
PROTEST MASCOT: A dog nicknamed Loukanikos or ‘sausage’ runs through tear gas as a protester kicks a tear gas canister in front of the parliament in Athens on December 6, 2011 during a demonstration to commemorate the police killing of a student three years ago which sparked violent riots lasting weeks. — Reuters photo
November ANTI-CAPITALISM protesters inspired by the ‘Occupy Wall Street’ movement set up camp at the landmark St Paul’s Cathedral in the fi nancial district. Around 200 tents have been pitched close to St Paul’s since protesters were barred from
the nearby London Stock Exchange in October. On Nov 30, public sector workers go on strike in Britain to protest over pension reforms and austerity measures, escalating confrontation with a deficitcutting government.
ANTICIPATION: A Libyan anti-government protester with her face painted in the colours of Libya’s old national flag takes part in a gathering in the eastern city of Benghazi on Feb 27, 2011. Libyan protest leaders established a transitional ‘national council’ in cities seized from Muammar Gaddafi, as world leaders called on him to quit and protesters closed in on Tripoli. — AFP photo
April YEMEN’S President Ali Abdullah Saleh agrees to step down in weeks in return for immunity from prosecution after protests against his 33-year old rule began in January. The opposition agrees to the plan. However after several attempts to negotiate his agreeing to a Gulfbrokered plan, he finally steps aside in November. Saleh hands over to his deputy, Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi, who forms a new government with the opposition. New presidential elections will take place in Feb 2012.
MORE than 2,800 people are arrested after a protest over a fatal shooting by police on Aug 4 prompted rioting and looting in the poor London district of Tottenham. The violence spread through London, to Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and other English cities. The riots, in which five people were killed, badly damaged Britain’s reputation for stability less than a year before London hosts the 2012 Olympics.
December UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, reports the death toll from nine months of unrest has risen to more than 5,000. In the protests against President Bashar al-Assad’s 11-year rule. Assad faces the most serious challenge to his rule from the turmoil which erupted in the southern city of Deraa in March. A violent security crackdown has failed to halt the unrest — inspired by popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Libya. Anger over Russia’s Dec 4 parliamentary election draws crowds to Moscow, where they demanded a rerun of a vote Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s foes say was rigged in his ruling United Russia party’s favour. Recent opinion polls show that Putin, president for eight years until 2008 and prime minister since then, remains the most popular politician in Russia. President Dmitry Medvedev calls on Dec 22 for comprehensive reform of Russia’s political system to try to appease protesters who will stage their biggest demonstration on Dec 24. — Reuters
Occupy Wall street demonstrators protest on the streets of lower Manhattan near the New York Stock Exchange during what organisers called a ‘day of action’ in New York. About 500 Occupy Wall Street protesters marched from a New York park to the stock exchange for a protest that the movement against economic inequality hoped would attract tens of thousands of people. — Reuters photo
Saturday, December 31, 2011
NO LONGER ‘WAITY KATIE’: Prince William married his longtime girlfriend Catherine ‘Kate’ Middleton on April 29 in a ceremony watched around the globe. — Reuters photo
HAPPILY-EVER-AFTER: Prince Albert II and Charlene Wittstock married in a long-awaited union on July 3. — AFP photo
Royals from around the world tie the knot MUCH to the delight of royalists, Prince William popped ‘the question’ to his long-term girlfriend Catherine ‘Kate’ Middleton on a private vacation to Kenya last year. The couple announced their engagement on Nov 16 at St James Palace, where the public got to see the bride-to-be wearing the famous 18-carat oval sapphire engagement ring worn previously by his mother, the late Lady Diana Spencer. Their wedding took place at Westminster’s Abbey on April 29, this year where an
his father, Prince Rainier III, in 2005. His mother was Grace Kelly, the Oscar-winning Hollywood star. He has two siblings, Princess Caroline and Princess Stephanie. A five-time Olympic competitor in bobsledding, the head of the House of Grimaldi has sought to cut down on money laundering and bring more transparency to business operations in Monaco. Wittstock, 33, was born in then-Rhodesia in 1978 but emigrated to South Africa with her parents — a sales manager and former swimming teacher — at age 12. After winning her first South African swimming championship at age 18, Wittstock came in fi fth with her team at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000. A fan of surfing and hiking, she ended her swimming career in 2007 and has travelled widely for charity events with her fiance. After a civil ceremony on Friday, the couple married at 5:00pm, on Saturday in a religious wedding
in the courtyard of the prince’s palace, situated atop the Rock of Monaco that overlooks the Mediterranean. • Bhutan’s ‘Dragon King’ married a young commoner in an ancient Himalayan monastic fortress on Oct 13, sipping a chalice of ambrosia symbolising eternal JUST MARRIED: William drives an Aston Martin as he leaves the Buckingham Palace with his life in a Buddhist wife Kate, Duchess of Cambridge, after their wedding service, in London. — AFP photo wedding that has transfi xed a reclusive kingdom slowly 31, is revered as this insular In a nation of 700,000 people embracing globalisation. nation slowly embraces where television was only King Jigme Khesar Namgyel introduced in 1999, the ceremony democracy after his father Wangchuck wore a crown abdicated in 2006 to was broadcast live. adorned with a raven’s head introduce parliamentary Thousands of people, dressed during the sumptuous elections. in traditional coloured robes, ceremony in this 17th-century The monarchy is seen as stood outside. Some monks fortress, as 21-year-old student helping stabilise a fragile chanted, others hit drums, as Jetsun Pema, daughter of an democracy wedged between white incense drifted through airline pilot, received a crown India and China in a conflictthe morning mist. embroidered with silk. ridden region. Oxford-educated Wangchuck,
THE KISS: Britain’s Prince William and his wife Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge kiss on the balcony at Buckingham Palace, after their wedding in Westminster Abbey, in central London April 29, 2011. — Reuters photo
COMMITMENT: Bhutan’s Dragon King broke with Bhutanese tradition which allows polygamy when he vowed to take young Jetsun Pema as his one and only wife.
estimated 2.8 billion people around the world viewed the wedding and thousands of people fi lled the streets. The couple met at St Andrew’s University in Scotland in 2001, where they lived in a house shared with friends. • Prince Albert II and Charlene Wittstock married on July 3 in a long-awaited union many see as crucial to upholding the fairy tale image — and financial clout — of the tiny city-state on the French Riviera. Albert II, 53, has been the sovereign ruler of Monaco since the death of
Notable deaths 2011
Apple Inc co-founder and former CEO Steve Jobs, counted among the greatest American CEOs of his generation, died on Oct 5 at the age of 56 after a year-long and highly public battle with cancer and other health issues.
Violet-eyed Dame Elizabeth Taylor, legendary American actress and AIDS activist died of congestive heart failure in hospital in Los Angeles. She was 79.
DEVASTATED: Supporters of the banned Islamic organisation Jamaat-ud-Dawa embrace each other after taking part in a funeral prayer for al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Karachi May 3, 2011. — Reuters photo
Italian MotoGP rider Marco Simoncelli, 24, died after a horrific crash at the 2011 Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang on Oct 23.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il who led his nation with absolute rule for 17 years, died on Dec 17 of a heart attack while travelling on his train at the age of 69. His son, Kim Jong-un is expected to take over North Korea’s leadership.
Saturday, December 31, 2011
2012 could prove even wilder ride than 2011 THE ancient Mayans attached special significance to 2012, possibly the end of time. That has spawned a rush of apocalyptic literature for the holiday season. But you don’t have to believe the world is about to end to realise that next year contains perhaps the widest range of political risks to the global economy in recent history. With elections and leadership changes in the most powerful countries — Europe in crisis, ferment in the Middle East and worsening economic hardship driving unrest and discontent everywhere — 2012 could be just as volatile as 2011, if not worse. The current year may yet carry a sting in its tail, with worries over the euro and jitters over a possible Israeli strike on Iran likely to keep financial markets and policymakers on tenterhooks all the way to the New Year. More than three years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers prompted the worst financial crash since the Great Depression, economic turmoil looks to be driving political upheaval in what could become a particularly disruptive feedback loop. Economic stresses — from rising food prices to worsening economic hardship in the developed world — were at the heart of many of 2011’s political stories. As they intensify, political volatility, gridlock, confrontation and conflict — whether domestic or international — look set to worsen. “It’s going to get worse before it gets better,” said Jonathan Wood, global issues analyst at London-based risk consultancy Control Risks. “If you look at what’s been driving events this year, none of the factors has gone away and many of the economic drivers are still growing.” Presidential elections in the US, France and Russia and the dual transition of power at the top of China’s Communist Party will add to the uncertainty. They may make it harder for political leaders to find compromises or push through tough policy choices. GROWING GRIDLOCK? That, many analysts warn, brings with it a mounting risk of political gridlock coming just as the world needs leadership most. The failure of the US Congressional ‘super committee’ to agree on how to reduce the budget deficit may be a sign of things to come domestically in many countries. President Barack Obama faces a tough re-election bid, whomever the Republicans choose to challenge him, because of a sluggish economy, 8.6 per cent unemployment and a squeeze on the middle classes due to fallen home and stock prices. A fragile global consensus forged at a 2009 summit of leaders of the Group of 20
major economies may be gone decide to go beyond covert for good, replaced by what Ian sabotage with a military strike Bremmer, president of political that could spark retaliation risk consultancy Eurasia Group, against oil supplies in the Gulf. calls a rudderless ‘G-zero’ world. “The bigger wild card out Top of the list of 2012 risks for there is an Israeli attack on many analysts is the unresolved Iran’s nuclear facilities and sovereign debt crisis in the euro elements of regime control,” says zone. Thomas Barnett, chief strategist If the 17-nation European of political risk consultancy single currency is to survive in Wikistrat, saying neither its current form, its members the Israeli nor the Iranian will have to confront harsh leadership looks inclined to economic adjustments and back down. “The setting here seismic political reform. Last is scary... something has got to week’s Brussels summit, the give in this strategic equation.” 16th since the start of the twoEven if the world avoids a year-old crisis, was billed by devastating shock such as a some as the last chance to save Middle East war or a European the euro. breakdown, many analysts fear While eurozone leaders and the business of politics and some non-euro states agreed policy-making could become to forge a closer fiscal union increasingly difficult around the with stricter budget discipline, world. the outcome fell short of With economic growth slowing guaranteeing the euro’s ultimate and unemployment creeping up, job creation going... We (also) survival. most analysts believe the risks have probable ongoing unrest At worst, 2012 could still see of social unrest will continue in Europe and the ongoing a disorderly breakup bringing to rise across much of the transition in the Middle East with it a chain of defaults, developed and developing world. and North Africa could be quite bank runs and civil unrest, “We have all the problems unstable.” not to mention a savage global you’d expect from economic In the dying days of the year, economic shock worse than that hardship. At some stage we other long held assumptions of of 2008. will have rising food prices stability have be thrown into Ultimately, however, many which are always destabilising question -- not least by the rising believe the euro will endure and we have a question over tide of protest against Russia’s — although not without colossal whether China will overheat,” Vladimir Putin. The one strains as it tries to reconcile says Elizabeth Stephens, head certainty for 2012, many believe, very different economies such as of credit and political risk at is more of the unexpected. Germany and Greece. London insurance brokers “2011 was a nightmarish “The greatest single risk is Jardine Lloyd Thompson. year to be a policy maker or an obviously the euro zone but it “Even a fall of one or two investment portfolio manager might also be the risk that is percentage points of GDP but it was a great one to be a sorted out the quickest,” says (gross domestic product) could political analyst,” says Newton. Alastair Newton, a former be enough to really question “I’d certainly expect the same British government official social stability if they can’t keep for next year.” — Reuters. who is chief political analyst at Japanese bank Nomura. “But even if that happens then you’re still going to have very low growth and a rise in social unrest in the southern eurozone in particular and across Europe in general. Even in the best case scenario, 2012 looks pretty rough.” For others, the Middle East remains the most important area to watch for potential disruption to the global economy. Almost a year after the beginning of the ‘Arab Spring’ democracy movement, the region remains in political flux with untested Islamist parties winning power across north Africa and Syria’s uprising slowly turning towards outright SOUTH AFRICA, HERE WE COME: This file picture taken on March 30, 2010 shows the Karoo ArrayTelescope construction site, part of the MeerKAT Project, in the Northern Cape. civil war. The combined collecting area of all these antennas will add up to one square kilometre.The telescope will be operated and monitored remotely from Cape Town, where the operations CONFLICT, UNREST and science centre will be located. South Africa is ready to host the world’s most powerful radio telescope, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) in southern Africa. Following an initial After the fall of several identification of sites suitable for the SKA by the International SKA Steering Committee in veteran Western-backed Arab 2006, southern Africa and Australia are the finalists.A consortium of the major international rulers, the withdrawal of US science funding agencies, in consultation with the SKA Science and Engineering Committee forces from Iraq is seen as the (SSEC), will announce the selected site for the SKA in 2012. latest sign of the diminishing influence of Western powers in a region they dominated for some 200 years. In the resulting vacuum, regional powers such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and an isolated and perhaps more erratic Iran appear in increasingly open confrontation. Western intelligence estimates that Iran is moving closer to a viable nuclear weapon have a shorter timeline, and some analysts say 2012 could be the year when Tehran’s enemies
AWESOME: Comet Lovejoy is seen at dawn over Santiago Dec 22, 2011. Comet Lovejoy was first discovered on November 27 by Australian amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy and was classified as a Kreutz sungrazer, with its orbit taking it very close to the Sun, passing a mere 140,000 kilometres from the Sun’s surface. With 2012 around the corner, a similar comet called comet Elenin has been linked to several doomsday predictions and being blamed for triggering earthquakes and shifting Earth’s rotation axis.
Highlights 2012 ? The London Olympic Games and presidential elections in Russia, France and the US are among the main events in 2012. Here is a look at what else the year has in store. JANUARY 1 - EUROPEAN UNION: Denmark takes over the bloc's rotating presidency. 1-15 - ARGENTINA, CHILE, PERU: The Dakar Rally. 21-Feb 12 - GABON, EQUATORIAL GUINEA: Football's Africa Cup of Nations. 25-29 - DAVOS, Switzerland: The 42nd World Economic Forum (www.weforum.org). FEBRUARY 6 - LONDON: Diamond jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, marking the 60th anniversary of her accession to the British throne. 19 - GREECE: Legislative elections. 26 - HOLLYWOOD, US: The 84th Oscars ceremony (www.oscars.org). MARCH 2 - IRAN: Legislative elections. 4 - RUSSIA: Presidential election. APRIL 22 - FRANCE: First round of presidential election. MAY 6 - FRANCE: Second round of presidential election. 12-Aug 12 - YEOSU, South Korea: The 2012 world expo, themed "The Living Ocean and Coast" (www.worldexpo2012.com). 16-27 - CANNES, France: The 65th fi lm festival (www.festival.cannes.com). 15-22 - CHICAGO: Group of Eight (G8) summit (www.chicagog8.com). 20-21 - CHICAGO: North Treaty Organisation (Nato) summit. JUNE 8-July 1 - POLAND, UKRAINE: Euro 2012 football championships. 10, 17 - FRANCE: Legislative elections. 18-19 - LOS CABOS, Mexico: Group of 20 (G20) summit. 20-22 - RIO DE JANEIRO: World conference on sustainable development (www.earthsummit2012.org).
FUTURE IS BRIGHT : Aurora borealis, or no over Finnmark durin g the 1,000 kms Finnm rthern lights, fill the sky on March 13, 20 11 ar race, in Finnmark co unty in northern Norw ksloepet, the world’s northernmost sled dog ay. Experts predict tha shine at the brightes t the northern nights t levels seen for 50 ye will ars in 2012.
JULY 1 - EUROPEAN UNION: Cyprus takes over the bloc's presidency. 1 - MEXICO: Presidential election. 27-Aug 12 - LONDON: The 2012 Olympic Games. AUGUST 27-30 - TAMPA BAY, US: The Republican convention will choose its candidate for the US presidential election. SEPTEMBER 8-9 - VLADIVOSTOK, Russia: The annual summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) forum. (http://apec.org). Late Sept - AFGHANISTAN: The planned withdrawal of 33,000 US surge troops, a third of the American contingent. OCTOBER 12-14 - TOKYO: The annual meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. STOCKHOLM: Announcement of winners of the Nobel Prizes (www.nobelprize.org). NOVEMBER
INCREASING MODERNITY: Vehicles drive past buildings on a freeway leading to the international airport in Panama City Dec 8, 2011, Panama’s growing high-rise buildings are gradually transforming the city into a modern metropolis.
6 - WASHINGTON: US presidential election.