Archive for September, 2017

SIDMA College UNITAR Sabah Kadazandusun Language Club 2nd AGM

Thursday, September 28th, 2017

In line with the organisation’s constitutional requirement, SIDMA College UNITAR Sabah Kadazandusun Language Club (Kelab Bahasa Kadazandusun SIDMA College) held its second Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 20th September 2017, at SIDMA Board Room. The establishment of the organisation has been approved by the Registrar of Society (Pendaftar Pertubuhan Malaysia) on 19 November 2014. The functions of the AGM is mainly for the committee to present to their members detailed report of the various activities held throughout the previous year, the financial status, as well as to allow time for the 30 active club members to share and contribute to the growth of the Club; and more importantly, to enable members to elect new office bearers for the coming year.

Mr David Tiongin Lumbok, J.P., Chairman of 2016-2017 Committee in his welcoming address thanked Dr Morni Hj Kambrie (Chairman and Founder of SIDMA College) as the initiator and Patron for the club; Madam Azizah Khalid Merican (CEO and advisor) and all the committee members for their time as well their  undivided support and commitment towards the organisation. Mr David in his speech thanked Dr Morni which has provided most of the necessary funding as part of his Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) to the successful organisation and implementation of all the club activities.

Dr Morni during his official address, shared his concern regarding the seemingly declining of the pureness of Kadazandusun language, and stressed that since the establishment of SIDMA College Sabah in 2002, he harboured various initiatives to complement and supplement relevant interventional activities that can assist in maintaining and popularised the language. With formation of the Kadazandusun Club, Dr Morni mooted various ideas such as the Kadazandusun Language Storytelling Competition for primary school children, the publication of “Inspirasi Anak-Anak Sabah” book, Sabah’s first ever Express Kadazan Language Public Speaking and Conversational Courses as some of his initiatives to create, enhance as well as to cascade positive attitude towards the language, particularly among SIDMA College UNITAR Sabah students as well as among the language speakers.

Both Dr Morni and Madam Azizah Khalid Merican through the AGM hoped the club can play a more significant role in the integration of SDMA students from various cultural backgrounds to understand each other’s culture better particularly in equipping them with Kadazandusun language ability and communication skills. The Club can for example, conduct basic Kadazandusun Language to SIDMA and UNITAR Diploma and Bachelor students from the non-Kadazandusun speakers (where a number of them will be teaching pre-schoolers in rural setting) with simple Kadazandusun language to enable them to communicate with these kids and their parents in the Kadazandusun language therefore eliminating the language barriers, they added.

Dr Morni thanked Mr David and the 2016-1017 committee members for their job well done, and he hoped that the new office bearers will continue the initiatives and efforts put in by this committee to transfer and equipped the college students with the basic Kadazandusun language, cultural background and knowledge.

During the meeting, Ms Olivia Philip (Secretary) presented a detailed report of the 2016-2017 activities held; whereas Ms Sylla Severinus (Treasurer) shared the club financial expenses as well its current financial status. Both the reports were unanimously accepted and approved without much debate.

The meeting also nominated, voted and approved the following as SIDMA College UNITAR Sabah Kadazandusun Language Club 2017 – 2018 Central Committee Members:

1. Patron : Mr David Tiongin Lumbok JP

2. Advisor : Madam Azizah Khalid Merican.

3. President : Madam Salumah Nain

4. Vice President : Mr Bonaventure Wences

5. Secretary : Madam Rainie Anne Laipan

6. Assistance Secretary : Ms Melissa Marcus Molijol

7. Treasurer : Madam Sylla Severinus

8. Auditor : Ms Jaccielia Robinsin

The meeting also voted another 18 members as it working committee members. They are Madam Azlina Ngatimin, Madam Izah Muhilin, Mr Louis Jais, Madam Badrinah binti Suhaimin, Madam Daria Joseph, Mr. Dellson J. Joingin, Ms Nelsie C. Motunjau, Ms Olivia Philip, Mr Robert Eban, Madam Jennyca Singau, Madam Janet Jaquiline Jiokis, Ms Valerie Charles, Mr Joe Gary J.R. Martin, Mr L Ronny Lampok, Mr Rody Rodiley bin Tunai, Mr Sanan bin Tangau, Mr Kamal Adzi, and Mr Dean Cassidy.

Madam Salumah took the opportunity to thank Dr Morni and all those present during the AGM for giving her the opportunity to lead the club. She also invited all the members to stay united and continue to work with her for the betterment of the language. She too congratulated all the other committee members elected into the 2017-2018 Committee.

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Leave Sabah out: Bosses

Wednesday, September 27th, 2017

Kota Kinabalu: Sabah should not be part of a proposed implementation of an Employment Insurance Scheme (EIS) for retrenched workers due to the State’s unique economic and social circumstances.

Sabah Employers Association (SEA) President Yap Cheen Boon said EIS is inappropriate for Sabah as retrenchment on average is only 254 employees per year, which is rather low compared to other states in the peninsula.

Besides, he said, latest statistics showed that wage growth has been increasing since last year which resulted in not many workers being laid off compared to other states like Selangor.

He said if EIS was approved for implementation, then it would be compulsory for the workers and employers to pay contribution of 0.2 per cent each apart from paying for Employment Provident Fund (EPF) and Social Security Organisation (Socso) until they retire.

The proposed EIS had its first reading in Parliament this year.

“EIS was mooted by the Government based on statistical figure that Malaysian employers have retrenched a lot of workers since 2000 and these workers did not get compensation due to some irresponsible employers.

“Hence, when this happens, the EIS was proposed to serve as a safety net. In fact, the basic component of EIS is two-fold.

“First, to allow the retrenched workers to have basic money for six months under decreasing percentage rate.

For instance a monthly salary of RM1,000, the retrenched worker will get RM800 for the first month, and RM600 the second month and RM400 the third month, among others.

“Second, the employers must provide new skills for the retrenched workers so that they would able to apply for new jobs,” he told a press conference, Tuesday.

Also present were SEA Deputy President David Chu and its Secretary General Fong Ming San.

Yap said EIS requires employers and employees to contribute 0.2 per cent each which totalled up to 0.4 per cent is excessive for Sabah as it will see an annual contribution of RM77 million from both parties combined which was seen as in parallel with existing laws that sufficiently protected retrenched workers and an unnecessary excessive drain.

“We have a bit of problem with this proposal because based on the total contribution of 0.4 per cent from employers and employees as suggested by the government, the monthly intake of yearly income fund can be over a billion Ringgit and it is way more than the past statistics shown of the amount of money owed to retrenched employees not paid.

“What we calculate is going to be more and more than enough to cover the so-called ‘loss’.

“As for providing training for the retrenched workers to acquire new skills, we disagree because training is performed by a lot of State and Federal agencies. So why are we duplicating?” he asked.

Yap said SEA also queried whether the retrenched workers would get the EIS contribution which would mean they will be getting dual benefit and this seems unfair.

“Such detail on the dual benefit was never discussed and finalised.

“In addition, we believe that pushing EIS is too hasty and a dual mechanism will be like sucking money out of the economy.

“Hence, if the government really choose to go along with this proposal, there are few things that need to be settled. First, the details of the proposal must be clear.

by Hayati Dzulkifli.

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Read, count and think critically

Tuesday, September 26th, 2017
(File pix) Digitalisation has simplified access to information and knowledge.

THE vision of a literate world has guided the United Nations in its efforts to eliminate illiteracy worldwide. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), the world literacy rate now stands at 91 per cent up from 79 per cent in 1980.

In the Arab region, the literacy rate is 86 per cent, a 22 per cent increase from 1980, when the literacy rate stood at 64 per cent. Although world society has witnessed significant progress in eradicating illiteracy, approximately 750 million adults and 264 million children worldwide are still considered illiterate. Thus, the cloud of world illiteracy overshadows the geography of world poverty.

Nonetheless, the Sustainable Development Goals have translated the vision of a literate world into a concrete action plan: Sustainable Development Goal 4.6 calls upon all member states of the United Nations to ensure that the youth, both men and women, “achieve literacy and numeracy” by 2030.

In the words of former secretary-general of the United Nations, Kofi Annan: “Literacy is, finally, the road to human progress and the means through which every man, woman and child can realise his or her full potential.”

The 2017 World Literacy Day addresses a subject that is even more important today owing to the digitalisation of our societies. This year’s theme, “Literacy in a Digital World”, explores the transformative power of information and communication technology in addressing illiteracy.


In my previous role as education minister in the United Arab Emirates, numerous initiatives and projects were implemented to empower youth through enhancing literacy in the age of information.

The vision was to enable youth to read, reflect and think as the first step towards building a society for the future. Eliminating illiteracy is an investment in educating humanity and in promoting a sustainable future. Access to technology is a prerequisite for a knowledge-based society.

The introduction of digital technologies — against the backdrop of globalisation — has brought people closer as communication and exchange of information have become seamless.

We are more connected than ever. In a heartbeat, we can buy our favourite book on the Internet, read articles on Kindle or even read newspapers on the airplane. The teaching environment in today’s modern classrooms has been transformed, thanks to the Internet. Students have access to the latest information technology to increase their learning capabilities and gain knowledge through electronic means.

Inevitably, digitalisation has simplified access to information and knowledge, and contributed to the alleviation of literacy at a faster rate than was the case in the past. Digitalisation has also facilitated the emergence of a new concept commonly referred to as digital literacy.

Cornell University in the United States defines the latter as “the ability to find, evaluate, utilise, share and create content using information technologies and the Internet”.

It has transformed our traditional understanding of literacy — the ability to read and write — to also include the capability of effectively using technological devices to communicate and access information.

Inevitably, the youth — at an early stage of life — are not adequately equipped with the required skills to critically analyse or question the validity of information available on the Internet.

In this regard, the youth are becoming vulnerable to the growing and alarming increase in self-radicalisation that occurs through the use of social media.

Online propaganda and ideological inspiration from sources controlled by right-wing and terrorist groups are increasingly exposing youth to heinous ideologies. The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has repeatedly warned against the phenomenon of Internet radicalisation requiring “a proactive and coordinated response from member states”.

In world society’s attempts to address illiteracy, the ability to learn and write needs to also include critical thinking so as to avoid self-radicalisation, which is emerging as a major social ill.

We must respond to the rise of Internet radicalism that is emerging as an invisible force inciting the youth to join violent and radical groups, whether in the Middle East or in Europe.


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Drug abuse could lead to acute mental disorder, says doctor.

Sunday, September 24th, 2017

PETALING JAYA: Drug abuse, especially club drugs, may not only induce short term mental problems but also trigger schizophrenia among those who are predisposed to it, said consultant psychiatrist Dr Rusdi Abd Rashid.

He said cannabis and methamphetamine could trigger schizophrenia in drug users who have risk factors such as family history.

The Universiti Malaya’s Centre for Addiction Science Research director warned that an early onset of schizophrenia due to drug use would require treatment for life.

For drug-induced psychosis, the users’ behaviour could suddenly become abnormal and they suffer from hallucination or delusion and behave aggressively, which mimic schizophrenia, said Dr Rusdi.

“If drugs are taken in the long term, some psychosis may be persistent and may turn into schizophrenia. It is not known yet if the condition will become permanent,” he said.

He said drug-induced psychosis might be acute and could lead to drug users harming or killing others.

Dr Rusdi said the University Malaya Medical Centre sees 30 to 60 cases of drug-induced psychosis every month.

Patients usually recover within three days to two weeks with treatment but if a drug user returns to the habit, he or she will have continued psychosis, he said.

He added that those wanting to kick their drug addiction may require life-long counselling.

Young patients are usually school dropouts who become dependent on their parents, he said.

He said most addicts start abusing drugs between the ages of 20 and 30 but some start as young as 12.

Dr Rusdi said there was effective treatment for opiates available but no medication yet for newer drugs.

He said most major hospitals had treatment for drug addiction and those with affected family members can seek help there.
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Make safety at workplaces people’s agenda – Lam Thye

Sunday, September 24th, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: The National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has called on the public to implement the occupational safety and health (OSH) management system at all places of work, including schools and educational institutions.

NIOSH chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said OSH should be made the people’s agenda and it was also even more urgent now in the wake of the recent fire at the Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah residential religious school in Jalan Keramat Ujung here, which claimed 23 lives.

“Fatal tragedies including fires at tahfiz schools could be prevented if a good OSH management system was implemented at workplaces and safety audits carried out.

“With the help of other agencies and non-governmental organisations, NIOSH will continue to educate the public and create awareness on safety and health at work among workers and their family members,” he said yesterday.

He explained that schools were also considered as workplaces under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) 1994, and as such an OSH committee must be set up if it had 40 workers or above.

He said NIOSH would bring the ideas and aspirations of OSH practitioners to the government, including those which were gathered during the 2050 National Transformation session on OSH at the workplace.

Lee added NIOSH would also promote the Vision Zero campaign which emphasises that injuries and ill health at the workplace were preventable if good OSH practices were given attention.

“Vision Zero is not a new target but a change in our mindset that all injuries and ill health can be prevented. The pursuit of it was not about achieving zero accidents but to

find solutions to help prevent injuries and ill health.”


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The KadazanDusun language dilemma

Sunday, September 24th, 2017

DURING the third and final round of the recent statewide Mr Kaamatan or Harvest Festival Contest 2017, the seven finalists, out of 44 contestants, were asked two questions.

It was mandatory for first question to be answered in the finalist’s mother tongue while the second question, in the finalist’s choice of language.

Only one of the contestants, Dicky Jerry, representing the Keningau District, responded to both questions fluently in his mother tongue, Dusun.

Some of the other finalists could barely muster enough words in their mother tongues to deliver coherent sentences. At 19 years old, fulfilling other criteria superbly, Dicky impressed the judges, most of whom are KadazanDusun speakers, to win the coveted title.

Based on the 2010 census, Sabah’s population stood at roughly 3.2 million. Thirty-two ethnic groups call Sabah their home, out of which only 28 are recognised as indigenous.

The largest indigenous ethnic group, which forms 17.8% of the population, is the KadazanDusun. The other prominent ethnic groups include the Bajau at 13.4% of the population and the Murut at 3.3%.

Other indigenous ethnic groups constitute 14.6% of the population while the non indigenous groups constitute the rest of the population.

On 24 January 1995, the KadazanDusun Cultural Association and the United Sabah Dusun Association consented to declare KadazanDusun as the standard language of the KadazanDusun people.

Based on the 2010 census, the language is supposedly spoken by about 560,000 speakers residing in the districts of Penampang, Papar, Tuaran, Tambunan, Ranau and Keningau. Depending on the locations, the language is spoken in a variety of dialects.

The KadazanDusun’s Tangara dialect, for example, is predominantly spoken in the west coast of Sabah while the Bundu-Liwan dialect is more popular in the interior.

The similarities between the Kadazan and Dusun languages are sufficient for speakers of these two languages to understand each other easily. In a nutshell, the most salient distinction between these two languages are the differences in their phonemic charts. Kadazan consists of fricatives [v] and [z] which are absent in Dusun. On the other hand, /w/, / y/ and /r/ are present in Dusun but not in Kadazan.

In an earlier 2005 UNESCO’s report, the KadazanDusun language is classified as an endangered language, spoken by a mere 300,000 people.

The language has apparently joined about 7,000 other languages worldwide that face the real threat of extinction. Indeed, the language could eventually become a mere literary exhibit in 50 years if is left to survive on its own devices.

Prior to the formation of Malaysia in 1963, the KadazanDusun language was the predominant language in all KadazanDusun households. After 1963, Malay gradually replaced English as the medium of instruction in schools, and the official language in government.

Sabah Malay, which, according to a study is a dialect of Malay rather than a bazaar language, has become the language of communication among the multi-ethnic groups in Sabah. English continued to be held in high esteem.

Probably thinking that their children could learn their mother tongues at home, KadazanDusun parents born in the 1950s began to encourage their children to learn English or Malay, hoping for them to gain an advantage in securing jobs in both the government and private sectors.

Eventually, these parents too started to communicate with their children in English or Sabah Malay instead of their mother tongues. As a result, many KadazanDusun children nowadays grow up not acquiring a command of their mother tongues.

Through constant and popular use, Sabah Malay gradually replaced the KadazanDusun tongue in many KadazanDusun homes. This language shift contributed to the decline in the use of the KadazanDusun language.

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Celebrate new year with unity, Muslims urged.

Saturday, September 23rd, 2017
PETALING JAYA: The start of the new Islamic New Year, Ma’al Hijrah 1439H, was celebrated nationwide, with calls for Muslims to stay united to strengthen the solidarity of the ummah.

Themed Kesatuan Ummah Kese­jahteraan Negara (“Unity of the Ummah is the Wellbeing of the Nation”), the start of the new Islamic year was celebrated on a moderate scale in all states, but it brought an important message for all Muslims in commemorating the hijrah or migration of Prophet Muhammad and his followers from Mecca to Madinah.

In Johor, the celebration was held at Pusat Islam Iskandar with Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin calling on Muslims not to take for granted the peace and unity among them.

He reminded them to always safeguard unity, cooperation and understanding among them as well as with others.

“Otherwise, the efforts taken by our forefathers to ensure we could live in harmony will all be in vain,” he said.

The text of his speech was read by Johor Religious Committee chairman Abd Mutalip Abd Rahim.

Former state mufti Datuk Sha’ri @ Shangari Abdullah, 68, was named as the recipient of the Johor Tokoh Maal Hijrah Award.

Bernama reported that in Sabah, Yang di-Pertua Negri Tun Juhar Mahiruddin called on the people to be wary of attempts by certain quarters who wanted to destroy peace and harmony in this multi-racial and multi-religious country.

He said the culprits would do anything, including spreading lies and promoting politics of hate among the people, to achieve their goals.

As such, he said the people should set aside their differences and prioritise efforts to restore and preserve the peace and unity which had been enjoyed over the years.

Former state secretary Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Egoh was announced as the recipient of the Sabah Tokoh Maal Hijrah 1439 Award.

In Terengganu, Tengku Seri Temenggong Raja Terengganu, Tengku Baharuddin Sultan Mah­mud, graced the state-level celebration at State Stadium, on behalf of Terengganu Ruler, Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin.

The state Tokoh Maal Hijrah Award was conferred to educator Jaafar Hassan.

In Perak, the state-level celebration was held at Dewan Shariff of the Royal Malaysian Navy base in Lumut and was graced by the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Shah.

The Sultan also presented the Ar-Ridzuan Special Award to State Mufti Tan Sri Dr Harussani Zakaria and the Perak Tokoh Maal Hijrah Award to former Perak Syarie Chief Judge Datuk Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof.

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Not all work and no play in plantations

Saturday, September 23rd, 2017

SABAH, being the biggest player in the labour intensive oil palm sector in Malaysia, definitely requires many workers.

However, according to Asia Pacific Journal of Advanced Business and Social Studies entitled Perception of Local Youth in Sabah Towards Career in Oil Palm Plantation, more than 80 per cent of plantation labourers in this state mainly came from Indonesia and the Philippines.

The pressing issue now is the rising social problems arising from the hiring of illegal foreign workers, and the best answer is to hire local youths.

Nevertheless, the problem is compounded by the fact that it is difficult to hire the local youth workers and the progress in mechanization has also not been encouraging.

In a recent interview with The Borneo Post, Sabahmas Plantation Estates, Lahad Datu group manager Asrif bin Mahmud said the company had been offering locals to work in its three estates but the local youths claimed that working in the agricultural sector was as burden and tiresome.

“I am not sure about the other companies, but I take Sabahmas as an example. We have a total of 1,424 staff and workers at the moment, comprising 1,296 foreign workers, 66 local workers and the remaining 62 are executive and staff.

“I personally think that our local youths are not aware that there are so many plantation companies in Sabah providing good facilities to their workers.

“In Sabahmas, we provide proper housing with free electricity and clean water, mosque and chapel, clinic, and even creche – a nursery where babies and young children are cared for during the working day. Most of our workers never leave the company and even bring in their relatives if there is a vacancy,” he said.

Training Field Conductor, Jerrye Gustin, who joined the company two and a half years ago said it was his passion that leads him to the job.

The 30-year-old, who was born in Beluran, said he was raised in a farming family and oil palm is not alien to him.

“My father is an oil palm planter, and I used to help him. After finishing my high school, I did not go anywhere but helped my family in farming and looking after the small plantation. I even attended an agriculture course, learning about planting and oil palm maintenance.

“After reaching the age of 25, I knew I need to look for a job because I cannot depend on my father’s land. However, I don’t want to work at the city because most of my friends working there are coming back without savings. They said life is tough and price of goods are high.

“I was so lucky because my cousin told me about a vacancy in Sabahmas Plantation. It has been a while for me holding this position and currently I have 47 staff under me. I can see my bright future here because many locals were given the opportunity to hold higher position as long as you are very good at what you are doing,” he said.

Jerrye is currently looking after the landscape Sabahmas headquarters area and personally doing the grass cutting and other works, including paper work.

To him, looking at the opportunities given to most of the managers in the company to grow in their career, he believed,  obviously none of them went from being a grass cutter or ‘mandur’to a manager overnight.

He said, each of them worked at the company for over a decade before progressing in their career to allow them to get into their roles.

Therefore, he said the characteristics that all of these people shared are determination, the hunger to succeed over the long-term and loyalty to the company.

“I hope there will be more locals working in the plantation. However, they need to choose the right companies by looking at the certification, for example, in Sabahmas we are RSPO (Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil) certified, so everything is systematic. The company is committed in providing comfortable and a safe workplace, which is very important to me.

“Most of my friends who refused to work in the plantation will give two popular reasons, namely low wages and instability of income, but it is very confusing when they earn more in the city but do not have any savings,” he said

Another thing that Jerrye learned since he worked in the company was the importance of looking after the environment by not simply hunting and fishing in the plantation area.

Jerrye said his income in the plantation is a four-figure and there is not much expenses since the house was provided with electricity and clean water supply by the company. Every month, he set aside some money for his parents and also savings.

Since working in plantation starts at 5.30am until 2pm only, Jerrye said there was a lot of time for other activities such as sporting activities and farming around their housing. “Life is never boring in the estate.”

As for Indonesian couple, Isham Harris, 49, and his wife Mare Habe, 45, who have been with the company since the land clearing in 1994, working in plantation is the best job they ever had.

They never have any other plans in the future, but continue working in the company until as long as they want.

“We arrived at Sabahmas when the previous company (before being taken over by Sabahmas) was just starting to clear the land. We had all our four children here.

“Two of them are already working, one is currently studying in one of the universities in Jakarta, another one is still studying in Humana School here. The company is very committed in giving education to our children and providing space for Humana School to operate, which give children of migrant workers access to education,” said Isham.

Mare, who is working at the company’s creche, said workers in the estate were very lucky for having a proper place for their children to stay while working in the field.

Previously, mothers with small kids, would bring them to the field because there was no one at home to look after the little ones. She said it was dangerous, especially when their work involved handling chemicals.

“The environment in the plantation has changed compared to the first time we arrived. We are happier now, because the minimum wage for local workers also applies to foreign workers.

“We have been staying here for more than 23 years and we are looking forward to serve the company as long as it needs us. What more can we ask for when everything is provided here,” she added.

In Sabahmas estates, its management encourages workers to celebrate Hari Raya, Christmas and other celebrations together to ensure the locals and foreigners have good relationships.

by Mariah Doksil.

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Exclusive: ‘Kiddie packs will help fight illicit cigarette trade’

Saturday, September 23rd, 2017

ALLOWING the sale of smaller packs of cigarettes makes sense for a number of reasons, tobacco companies argue.

The major reason, of course, is financial, but it is not just for the benefit of these companies, but others, such as retailers and the government.

The reason for this is the staggering numbers of illicit cigarettes available in the market, which go for anywhere between RM3 and RM5 per pack of 20 sticks, compared with between RM12 and RM17 for legal ones.

Citing government-culled statistics, they say an average of 60 per cent of cigarettes in the Malaysian market are illicit, meaning that the government loses out on 60 per cent of the revenue in the form of excise duties, and this amounts to billions of ringgit.

British American Tobacco (Malaysia) Bhd (BAT Malaysia) managing director Erik Stoel says the biggest challenge the industry faced is competing against illegal cigarette trade in Malaysia.

“The trade in illegal cigarettes in Malaysia has grown to an extent that it now dominates the market in the east coast states, where retailers are openly selling them on their shelves.

“These smugglers and retailers are not deterred by the punishment and fines they get, if caught, because the profit they make is worth the trouble.”

Stoel says penetration for illicit cigarettes varies.

For instance, he says, in states with more urban areas, the statistics are below the national average of 60 per cent.

But in the east coast, where the earning power is lower, the numbers are much higher.

Kelantan, he says, has a penetration of 83 per cent for illicit cigarettes, while Terengganu shows a 75 per cent market penetration.

“While enforcement is crucial and ongoing, it is a very challenging task to clamp down on the supply of more than 11 billion sticks of illegal cigarettes that is moving around.

“Strong enforcement to curtail supply is important, but this alone will not shift illegal into legal consumption.

“Due to this uncontrollable influx of smuggled cigarettes, the Customs Department has lost a lot to the illegal trade, especially in terms of tax revenue.”

JT International Bhd (JTI Malaysia) managing director Guilherme Silva shares Stoel’s views on the reintroduction of smaller packs, adding that there is the possibility of a reduction in cigarette consumption.

He says when a consumer buys a 20-stick pack, it is likely that he or she will finish the whole pack in a day and not keep it overnight because of freshness issues.

“If they buy smaller 10-stick packs, they might stop at one box a day and get a new box of 10 the next day.”

With the increased cigarette prices, says Silva, more and more smokers are turning to illicit ones, even though they know the risks of smoking such cigarettes are higher due to unregulated amounts of nicotine and tar.

“(If we have smaller packs), there is a possibility that these smokers will buy legal cigarettes with regulated amounts of nicotine and tar.”

Both Stoel and Silva insist that “kiddie packs” will not encourage the young to smoke.

They say excise duties on tobacco products are based on each stick, meaning that the price of a pack of 10 — between RM7 and RM9 — will still be higher than buying a pack of 20 sticks of illicit cigarettes.

Silva says the industry hopes that the government could consider their proposal for the reintroduction of small packs as a pilot project with a three-year duration, before observing its trend and impact.

“Malaysia is among the top three Asean countries in the trade of illicit cigarettes, above the Philippines, Cambodia and even Indonesia.”


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Sabah’s new court complex unveiled

Saturday, September 23rd, 2017

IIT SITS ATOP one of few remaining hills in Kota Kinabalu. Motorists and residents in the surrounding areas couldn’t help but notice it because the hill, Bukit Punai as it is called, is a ‘must pass’ spot for the thousands of daily commuters using the busy Jalan Tuaran and Jalan Luyang.

What building is it? Many have been asking, but officials have been tight-lipped until a recent publication by a Pertubuhan Arkitek Malaysia Sabah Chapter magazine which ran a feature article on what is the Kota Kinabalu Court Complex.

The new complex will replace the existing one located along Jalan Tugu, near Kg Air in downtown Kota Kinabalu which is well known for its congestion. It has the size and looks to easily become a new iconic landmark for the City.

At the time of putting this article together, the huge light-blue mosque-like centre-piece dome (about 55 metres from the ground) is currently being completed as the building is slated for completion in October 2017. The legal fraternity here believes it will still be months before the complex is fully furnished for occupation.

The building is imposing in more ways than one. It occupies 6.25 acres and cost RM175 million. It will be a six-storey building housing 16 court rooms for Federal Court (1), High Court (3), Sessions Court (6), Magistrate’s Court (6) and a host of supporting offices and facilities.

According to the PAM article, the beginning of the ‘design journey’ of the complex dated back to 2010 when the proposal then was to redesign and build on the two acres of the existing complex. Based on calculated space requirements, the redesigned complex would have to be a 10-storey building squeezed into the same acreage. But then Bukit Punai came into the picture.

Building works began in July 2014. It was to have been completed in 30 months. A signboard near the site, which is out of bounds to the public, said the completion date is Oct 21, 2017.

If observers noticed a similar exterior with the Palace of Justice at Putrajaya, it is because the authorities wanted the resemblance. But the architectural team (under Shah Architect and Chong Ten Lip) managed to incorporate local motifs reflecting the Kadazandusun, Bajau and Murut heritage along with the hibiscus, the national flower.

The PAM article continued: The new court complex’s colour and redefined material palette reflects the stability and integrity of the judicial department. Façade materials include glass fibre reinforced concrete and metallic paint is chosen for the dome.

The building owners, technically the Justice Department, wanted to emphasise on the ceremonial approach to the new complex as a parade featuring the who’s who of the legal fraternity.

The vision was therefore to have a majestic entrance with the complex as a backdrop. The final design of grand steps, the triple-volume, light-filled lobby was the result that visitors to the complex will witness.


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