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Samy: Sad, not angry

SEREMBAN: MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said he was “deeply saddened but not angry” with the Hindu Rights’ Action Force (Hindraf) for organising Sunday's illegal rally.

Samy Vellu said Hindraf could have taken a better approach to air its grievances and should not have accused the MIC of failing the Indian community.

“They must follow the law. In this country, we are very open ... I have never seen a government which is more open.

“The Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) has never shut his eyes or ears to their plight ... but they should have abided by the law,” he said to reporters after opening the RM1.3 million SJK (T) Ladang Seremban in Sg Gadut near here.

Hindraf defied a court order to go ahead with the illegal rally of thousands that was dispersed by police using tear gas and water cannons.

During the incident, 241 people were arrested but of those, 105 were released after their statements were recorded.

Samy Vellu said that although he had offered to meet Hindraf leaders after they forwarded a memorandum to the Prime Minister weeks before the rally, they had refused to meet him.

“I told them that I was prepared to see them but I was told that they wished to deal directly with Umno. So what can the MIC do?” he said adding that Hindraf leaders submitted a one-page memo to the Prime Minister about the community's problems over the past 50 years.

Asked if there was merit in Hindraf’s demands, Samy Vellu said problems should be discussed within the system.

“When we discuss among ourselves, we can quarrel as much as we want. But why must we raise our displeasure outside the system?” he asked.

On comments by newly-formed Malaysian Indian United Party president Datuk Nalla Karuppan that the party would work with the Barisan Nasional, Samy Vellu said anyone could do this.

“Working is one thing but getting into the Barisan is a different thing.

“Like I have always said, there will only be one party representing the Indian community in the Barisan and that is the MIC,” he said.

Meanwhile, in Petaling Jaya, MIC deputy president Datuk G. Palanivel said the party would not gamble on the future of the Indian community by urging them to take their grievances to the streets.

He said this was because a large majority of Malaysian Indians depended on the Government for the community’s development.

“We believe we cannot achieve much by going to the streets.

“The cause you struggle for should not only be justified but must be pursued through legitimate means,” he said in a press statement.

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Made-in-Malaysia monorail launched

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has unveiled another first – its very own homegrown monorail.

The Sutra monorail was developed by the Scomi Group over the last 12 months.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who launched the new monorail yesterday, called it a significant milestone.

“Today, Scomi has become one of only three major players in the world’s monorail business and has successfully developed a homegrown Malaysian monorail system ready to take on the world,” he said yesterday.

Najib said it was a pleasure to note Scomi aggressively pursuing deals in countries like India, Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Vietnam, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Syria, Egypt and South Korea collectively valued at RM6bil.

He said regions like Eastern Europe and South America with emerging economies, too, were worth looking into because it was only a matter of time before they needed to consider investing in modern, relatively-inexpensive and practical modes of public transportation.

At a press conference later, Najib said that Scomi, being a homegrown company with very high value local content, had an advantage and was in a “very competitive position” to be considered for monorail projects in the country.

He said the global world was very competitive and it was essential to position Malaysia and Malaysian companies internationally.

“We must build our reputation so that our name is synonymous with reliability, quality, technology and competitive pricing,” he said.

Chairman of Scomi Group Bhd Tan Sri Asmat Kamaludin said total investment for the Sutra monorail was about RM35mil including for research, development and factory expansion.

He said 30 personnel members including 23 engineers and experts in areas of structural and mechanical engineering, design, quality, safety and procurement worked on it for 12 months at Scomi’s manufacturing facility in Rawang which was equipped with its own 1km of monorail test track.

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105 demonstrators still in custody

KUALA LUMPUR: A total of 105 people who took part in the protests on Sunday are still being detained while 24 were released last night.

Federal CID director Comm Datuk Christopher Wan Soo Kee said those still in custody would be released on bail today. It was reported that 136 people were picked up during the protests at Jalan Ampang here and Batu Caves on Sunday which was attended by thousands. Another 105 had their details recorded.

“We released the others on Sunday and Monday after police took down their statements,” he said when met at Bukit Aman yesterday. Those picked up were remanded at the police training college on Sunday.

A court registrar assisted in the remand proceedings at the college. The process was witnessed by Bar Council members and lawyers for the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) which organised the protest.

Comm Wan said investigations against those detained would be from all angles with a view of charging them under the Police Act for illegal assembly.

They would also be investigated under Section 188 of the Penal Code for disobeying the court’s order not to a hold a gathering in front of the British Embassy.

“We will also investigate them for other offences and forward the investigation papers to the Deputy Public Prosecutor for further action,” Comm Wan said.

When asked why Hindraf leaders, including P. Uthayakumar, who were present at the demonstration were not arrested for flouting the court order, he said the leaders could not be detected at the early stages of the demonstration.

“They only appeared towards the end,” he added.

On whether the Hindraf leaders would be arrested, Comm Wan said that depended on the outcome of their investigations.

Comm Wan also said police were investigating allegations posted on the Police Watch website that a 20-year-old youth had been beaten to death during the demonstration.

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Highway takeover ‘will cost billions’

SEREMBAN: The Government cannot afford to take over the country’s tolled highways as the cost can run into billions of ringgit, said Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu.

Such a move was also not possible as the shares in companies maintaining the highways were not owned by a single entity.

“This will be a massive burden on the Government. We cannot afford to take over these highways as the cost can run into billions of ringgit,” he told reporters after opening the SJK(T) Ladang Seremban in Sungai Gadut near here.

Samy Vellu was asked to comment on a proposal by Johor Baru MP Datuk Shahrir Samad that if the Government were to take over the management of the north-south highway from Plus, the people would not be burdened by regular increases in toll rates.

Shahrir, who is also Public Accounts Committe chairman, said any toll imposed after that could be used to maintain these highways as well as to carry out other government projects.

He said the Cabinet would deliberate tomorrow on the suggestions submitted by his ministry on ways to reduce the burden on motorists due to the impending toll increase on most highways on Jan 1.

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Halal vaccines soon

PUTRAJAYA: A special paper on the use and certification of halal vaccines at public hospitals will be presented to the Cabinet soon.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican said both the Health Ministry and biotechnology firm National Institute for Natural Products, Vaccines and Biologicals (9BIO) would collaborate on the paper.

He was speaking to reporters after witnessing the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Islamic Development Department (Jakim) director-general Datuk Wan Mohamad Sheikh Abdul Aziz and 9BIO chairman Tan Sri Aseh Che Mat here yesterday.

The MoU will see 9BIO forming a team with Jakim to visit sites producing vaccines to certify its halal status.

At present, most of the vaccines in the country are imported and are not certified by Jakim.

Earlier, 9BIO chief executive officer Datuk Dr Nor Shahidah Khairullah said the company aimed to produce its own vaccines within two years once its factory in Enstek City was completed.

“Among the vaccines targeted for halal certification are those for children, such as polio and flu, and that for cervical cancer against the human papillomavirus,” she said.

Wan Mohamad said the MoU would help Malaysia and other Islamic countries in the production of halal vaccines.

“We hope that this will make Malaysia the reference and research centre for halal vaccine production in the future,” he added.

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Classes for juvenile prisoners

KAJANG: The Education Ministry will work with the Prisons Department to enable juveniles behind bars to continue with their studies and sit for public examinations.

Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said juvenile prisoners currently had no access to education programmes other than what was carried out by non-governmental organisations.

“We want to ensure that everyone has access to education,” he told reporters yesterday after opening a national seminar on student disciplinary regulations.

Hishammuddin said he would also discuss the matter with Deputy Internal Security Minister Datuk Fu Ah Kiow.

“What we need is some space so we can send teachers into the prisons to teach juveniles,” he said.

More details would be announced in early January, he added.

On another matter, Hishammuddin said the disciplinary regulations being used in schools now were drafted under Education Ordinance 1957.

“There have been no changes since then. Based on the rapid development and the changes in student disciplinary problems, it is appropriate that new regulations be drafted,” he said.

The ministry had come up with a draft of new regulations after carefully studying various other legislation, including the Children’s Act and the Dangerous Drugs Act, and obtaining the views of the community, he said.

“We hope the draft can be further fine-tuned into a comprehensive mechanism,” he said.

He said that, based on statistics from 2002 to 2006, the number of students involved in crime stood at 0.02%, which could be considered low.

“But however small the number, it still means we have a problem which must be overcome,” he added.

According to Hishammuddin, the ministry has recorded an overall drop in disciplinary cases among students.

A comparison between January to June last year and the corresponding period this year showed a percentage point decrease of 0.15% to 1.13% this year, he added.

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Batu Caves temples not damaged

KUALA LUMPUR: While there was minor damage to the Batu Caves' property, the temples were not damaged by Hindraf demonstrators who had gathered there early on Sunday morning.

“All the temples are okay. There's no damage,” said Batu Caves supervisor S. Ratnam, 61, when met at his office yesterday.

Ratnam explained that special prayers were supposed to be held on Sunday morning, but a crowd of up to 700 people had turned up outside the gates at about 11pm on Saturday night.

“We close and lock our gates at about 9.30pm every night. After that, no outsiders are allowed in. That is our daily routine,” he added.

Temple secretary M. Devarajoo said the demonstrators had entered the compound, forcing them to call the police for assistance.

“We lodged four reports, including the one on Sunday when the police moved in, and one more yesterday with regards to damage caused.”

Internal Security and Public Order deputy director Senior Asst Comm (I) Datuk Jamaludin Khalid said police only moved in on the demonstrators after receiving a report at about 2am that demonstrators had trespassed into the temple compound.

“We exercised maximum restraint and acted in an appropriate manner. Our objective was to control the situation and retain law and order without causing any untoward incident,” he said.

Admitting that water cannons and tear gas were used to disperse the crowd, SAC Jamaluddin said they were forced to do so as the demonstrators pelted his officers and men with stones and bricks.

He said: “I must stress that police did not fire tear gas or use water canons inside the temple premises to disperse the more than 1,000 gathered there.”

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Cop hurt trying to control crowd

KUALA LUMPUR: A police officer was injured when he was hit on the head with stones and broken bottles during The Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) street protest yesterday.

The attack on Dang Wangi CID sub-inspector Chew Choon Peng has left him with two gashes on his head with 12 stitches.

He is also suffering from bruises on his arms, shoulders and legs.

Chew was given outpatient treatment at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital. He is recuperating at his home in Cheras.

In agony: Sub-inspector Chew screaming in pain after being hurt during the protest in Kuala Lumpur.
An exhausted Chew revealed that he was caught off guard by the attack.

“A fellow officer was attempting to arrest a rowdy protester who was making derogatory remarks at our squad of 15 officers stationed in Jalan Hampshire.

“All hell broke loose when the protestor resisted arrest and I stepped in to help. The next thing I knew there was a sharp stinging pain on my head, and then I fell down,” he said.

He commended his colleagues for quickly controlling the situation and dragging him away from the 200-odd protesters who had begun hurling motorcycle helmets and bricks at the retreating team of policemen.

But the violence fizzled out as quickly as it had started and the protesters, too, retreated in the opposite direction towards Jalan Semarak.

Several of Chew’s colleagues were also seen limping, and others clutching their arms in pain after the short attack.

They then bandaged Chew’s head as he was bleeding profusely.

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Veteran actor Hussein passes away

MYT 2:59:50 PM

KUALA LUMPUR: Veteran actor and director Hussein Abu Hassan passed away at 5.30am Monday morning at the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital. He was 70 years old.

The actor, most famous for his actor-director role of 1984's Gila-Gila Remaja, died of complications arising from kidney problems.

Hussein's body was brought home to their house at Taman Gombak Setia and laid to rest at the Taman Ibukota, Setapak Cemetery after Zohor prayers Monday afternoon.

Hussein was born in Alor Gajah, Malacca, and had a short stint in the police force before becoming an actor in 1961 with a supporting role in the movie Sri Mersing.

His convincing portrayal in villains' roles made him popular overnight and he went on to act in movies like Tun Teja, Siti Payung, Panglima Besi, Laksamana Do Re Mi, Loceng Maut and others.

For all his contributions to the industry, Hussein was conferred the Ahli Mangku Negara (AMN) by the Seri Paduka Baginda Yang diPertuan Agong in 1997.

The late actor leaves behind his actress wife, Mahyon Ismail, three children - scriptwriter Dilla, actor Faizal and singer Fairuz, and four grandchildren. Hussein is also the uncle of popular actor Rosyam Nor.

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Hindraf leaders go free ... for now

MYT 6:52:35 PM

KLANG: The three Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) members charged for sedition, at the Sessions Court here last Friday, were given a discharge not amounting to acquittal by the same court Monday.

The trio had been charged under the Sedition Act for allegedly uttering seditious words to incite hate in their speeches made at a gathering in Batang Berjuntai on Nov 16.

In delivering her decision Judge Zunaidah Mohd Idris said the charge against lawyers P. Uthayakumar, P. Waythamoorthy and V.S. Ganapathi Rao, appeared to be ambiguous because the prosecution had failed to provide original transcripts of the Tamil speeches.

Only uncertified Malay translations of the speeches were attached to the charge sheets.

According to Zunaidah, the prosecution should have transcribed the speeches in the original language first before translating them into Malay.

An accredited translator must also certify the transcription and translation, said Zunaidah.

She added that since the translation was not certified, it was not known if it was an accurate version of the Tamil speeches made by the three defendants.

All these factors, said Zunaidah, resulted in the court being unclear and unconvinced with the charge brought against Uthayakumar, Waythamoorthy and Ganapathi Rao.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ishak Mohd Yusof said the original transcripts would be provided during the trial.

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Report on collapsed building

MYT 7:05:27 PM

IPOH: The state will make public the findings of the independent board of inquiry investigating the collapse of the RM4.5mil State Park Corporation administrative building at Tasik Temengor.

Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Tajol Rosli Ghazali told the 11th state assembly that the report would be made public as soon as it was completed.

"The state has also given its full cooperation to the Anti-Corruption Agency, which is investigating the incident from the aspect of abuse of power," he said Monday in his winding up speech for the 2008 state budget at the Perak State Assembly.

Tajol Rosli (BN - Pengkalan Hulu) added that the state had acted proactively by appointing a board to investigate the matter.

It had been reported that the board would be headed by state Public Works Department director Datuk Wong Wai Ching with its members consisting of department deputy director Amir Hussin Mohd Arftf, geotechnic expert Mohd Nor Omar, structural expert Mohd Nor Azudin Mansor, forensic expert Dr Lim Char Ching, slope expert Dr Che Hassandi Abdullah, structural consultant Tham Kum Weng and Professor Dr Gue See Sew.

On Nov 13, the building on a hillslope at the edge of Tasik Temengor collapsed suddenly.

It was to be the first of a two-phase project comprising 14 rooms, an office block, a showroom and a car park.

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Malaysian arrested in south Thailand

MYT 9:21:49 PM

ALOR STAR: A Kelantanese man has been arrested in a military raid in Narathiwat, Southern Thailand.

He and another seven Thai nationals were rounded up during the raid in a suspected insurgent hideout in Sungai Kolok on Saturday.

Malaysian vice-consul in Songkhla Mohd Hadtamizi Abu Bakar confirmed that a Malaysian was now in the custody of Thai authorities.

“We were informed that he will be detained for seven days (to facilitate investigations),” he said when contacted Monday.

It is learnt that an officer from the consulate would be visiting the Kelantanese detainee Wednesday. Bernama quoted Thai Army spokesman Col Akara Thiproj as saying that 29-year-old Malaysian Muhammad Aswan Abdul Rahman would be held for seven days at Inkayut Army Camp in Pattani.

Akara said that Muhammad Aswan could have relatives in Southern Thailand, or he could have been to the area for the Loy Krathong festival.

Thai military believe that the house where Muhammad Aswan arrested was a hideout for small group of militants who were part of Ronda Kumpulan Kecil (RKK) movement.

RKK members had been blamed for sporadic violence in restive Southern Thailand.

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Flood-prone areas to be posted on website

MYT 4:19:15 PM

KUANTAN: A full list of flood-prone areas in the country will be posted at the Civil Defence Department website (

This will help the public better prepare for floods.

The department's disaster and operations deputy director Kol Norhafifi Ismail said the data would be put up soon as there were still people who were ignorant that they were living in flood-prone areas.

He added that the data was compiled from information gathered from three sources - the National Security Council, police and local authorities.

``We will make a list of the places and post it on the department's official website.

``This way, the public will have access as there are some who are only aware that their homes are in a flood-prone area when the premises get flooded,'' he said during a briefing on the department's state of preparedness for the monsoon season attended by Kuantan MP Datuk Fu Ah Kiow at the Kuantan complex here on Sunday.

Also present were director-general Datuk Nasir Mat Dam and state director Kol Ibrahim Mat Adam.

Norhafifi added that there were 1,258 flood-prone areas with 2,349 relief centres that could accommodate more than 760,000 evecauees in the country.

``There are 232 permanent officers and 57,834 volunteers placed on standby with another 3,843 who can be deployed at any time of a disaster.

``The department has also spent RM356,361.95 of the RM636,955 to purchase raw material in its preparation for the floods,'' he said.

He also said the department had 23 district offices and planned to increase the number to 59 nationwide.

On the emergency number that the public could use, Norhafifi said they could still call 991 as the call would be put through to the 999 number.

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Kedah wants ferry hike postponed

MYT 4:11:58 PM

ALOR STAR: The Kedah Government will meet Langkawi ferry operators to discuss the possibility of postponing the introduction of the new ferry fares until early next year.

State Industry, Transport, Science and Innovative and Chinese Community Affairs Committee chairman Datuk Chong Itt Chew said the state wanted a postponement due to the Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace (Lima) Exhibition which would be held in Langkawi next month.

“We received requests from various parties who hoped that the new fares would be implemented after Lima and the current school holidays so that they could go to Langkawi and watch the exhibition,” he said when met after the swearing-in ceremony of state executive councillors here on Sunday.

Chong said the meeting with the operators would be held soon.

It was reported on Thursday that return ferry fares to Langkawi would increase by RM6 to RM10 from Dec 1.

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The Hindu Rights Action Force (HINDRAF) gathering

Sunday, November 25, 2007

KUALA LUMPUR: Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) has indefinitely called off the handing over of its petition to the British High Commission.

A. Sivanesan, one of the lawyers representing the three Hindraf members who were charged with sedition at the Klang Sessions Court on Friday, said the handing over was called off as the group could not get to the High Commission after gathering for about seven hours.

Large groups were seen gathering at Jalan Ampang and Jalan Tun Razak from as early as 6am Sunday.

Police and Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) personnel began dispersing the crowds using water cannons and teargas at the Jalan Ampang and Jalan Tun Razak intersection by about 7.20am, after giving them warnings to disperse.

The gathering, organised by Hindraf, had hoped to hand over the petition to the British High Commission.

The police had not given the group a permit to hold the gathering on Sunday.

The petition to the British Commission asks for Queen Elizabeth II to appoint a Queen's counsel to represent the Indian community in a class action suit against the British Government for bringing Indians as indentured labourers to then Malaya and exploiting them.

The group has filed a US$4 trillion (RM13.5 trillion) suit at the Royal Courts of Justice in London in August claiming that the British were to blame for the marginalisation of Indians in Malaysia.

The suit is equivalent to US$1mil (RM3.4mil) for every Indian in Malaysia.

The police had on Friday served a court order on five members of Hindraf and its supporters restraining them from organising or participating in the planned rally.

Jalan Ampang, which had been closed from 3am because of the gathering, was reopened at 1pm Sunday.

The Avenue K and City Square shopping complexes and the restaurants along Jalan Ampang were closed Sunday morning, while various hotels and Suria KLCC had strict security enforced at their entrances.

The KLCC and Ampang Park LRT stations, which were closed from 6am, were reopened at 3.13pm.

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Federer, Sampras cool to heated row between media and security

KUALA LUMPUR: A heated argument between a photographer and a security bouncer at a hotel here nearly marred a press conference by tennis greats Roger Federer and Pete Sampras.

The players had arrived earlier yesterday in a private jet at the Subang airport and were scheduled to meet the press prior to their Clash of Times match at the Melawati Stadium in Shah Alam tonight.

After both stars had emerged from their limousines at the hotel entrance, they posed for pictures with the hotel’s general manager in the lobby.

When the more than 20 photographers moved towards them to get better shots of the trio, burly security bouncers prevented their intent by using force.

Ugly scene: Photographers and hotel security personnel engaging in a war of words just before the press conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
An annoyed photographer then screamed at one of the bouncers, who in turn retaliated with threats. A few more photographers then joined in the war of words.

As both photographer and bouncer threatened each other, Sampras and Federer, who were nearby, looked dumbfounded. They were then led away by security officers to a holding room before the press conference.

The event organisers and hotel management managed to prevent another incident between the photographer and bouncer during the press conference with some coaxing and apologies.

Federer later laughed off the incident.

“I guess you are all probably glad to see me here – there’s too much excitement,” he joked.

The 26-year-old world number one spoke later that he had heard wonderful things about Malaysia, and was keen to visit its beaches on his next vacation.

During Sampras’ interview session, “Pistol Pete” said he was enjoying his retirement from tennis, but that he was looking forward to facing Federer again tonight after their exhibition match in South Korea on Tuesday.

“Yes, I’m enjoying my life now and I’m happy to be able to sleep in my own bed and not having to travel regularly around the world.

“I don’t miss that lifestyle anymore because after some time it takes its toll. I love my two children and wife and want to spend as much time with them as I can,” he said.

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Soap contains poison, says Health Ministry

MYT 8:15:05 PM

KUALA LUMPUR: The public has been advised to avoid buying the Cool & Lightening soap because it contains poison.

“The product registration of this soap has been cancelled by the Drug Control Authority (DCA) following the detection of a scheduled poison, hydroquinone, in this product.

“Hydroquinone is not allowed to be formulated in cosmetics due to possible side effects to consumers if used without medical supervision,” the Health Ministry said in a statement Wednesday.

It said that anyone in possession of this product is advised to immediately cease selling/distributing/using it.

“Hydroquinone can cause redness to the skin, discomfort, changes in skin colour and hypersensitivity,” it said.

In a separate statement, the Health Ministry also advised the public to avoid buying traditional product N-Hanz as it has been found to contain homosildenafil.

“Usage without medical supervision can cause adverse effects such as low blood pressure and other cardiovascular effects,” it said.

Also listed in the statement are Chatlin Brand Hao Zhou San, which has been found to contain ephedrine, and San Qi Luohan Chuanbei Plus Capsule, found to contain pseudoephedrine and chlorpheniramine.

These can cause, among other things, high blood pressure, insomnia, confusion, nausea and dyspnoea.

“Sellers are reminded that possession for sale of this product is an offence under the Control of Drugs and Cosmetics Regulations 1984.

“Any individual who commits an offence under these Regulations can be fined up to a maximum of RM25,000 or imprisoned for a term not exceeding three years, or both,” the statement said.

Consumers experiencing symptoms described earlier should seek medical advice, and may contact the Surveillance and Complaints Unit, Centre for Post Registration, National Pharmaceutical Control Bureau at 03-7957 3611 ext 365/338.

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Singapore red-faced as PM's car tyre punctures

SINGAPORE: Singapore officials were caught red-faced again Wednesday after the official car Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was travelling in punctured on the way to the airport.

The tyre puncture occurred just a few kilometres away from the Changi Airport as Abdullah was departing home after attending the Asean summit and the East Asian summit here since Monday.

According to officials when the BMW 7 series car had to stop along the highway, Abdulah and his wife, Datin Seri Jeanne Abdullah, had to hop into a security car since there was no other official car available.

The embarrassing incident happened on the heels of a boo-boo by the host broadcaster Monday night when the closed door informal dinner was shown live and the media had a peek at what was discussed by the leaders on the hot issue of the day - Myanmar.

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Stay away from illegal gathering, says IGP

MYT 8:15:05 PM

MALACCA: Police have once again urged the public to stay away from the planned gathering organised by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) on Sunday as the group does not have a permit for the gathering.

Inspector General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan said the public should stay away from the illegal gathering at the British High Commission on Sunday.

"I urge the public not to attend this type of gathering as we will take stern action," he said.

The gathering is to submit a petition with 100,000 signatures to Queen Elizabeth II to appoint a Queen's Counsel to represent the Indian community in a class action suit against the British Government for bringing Indians as labourers to the then Malaya and thereafter exploiting them.

The suit, filed at the Royal Courts of Justice in London by Hindraf chief P. Wathyamoorthy in August, sought compensation of up to US$4 trillion (RM13.5 trillion), or US$1mil (RM3.4mil) for every Indian in Malaysia.

Musa said, based on the speeches by certain groups, the topics discussed would instigate racial issues.

"Illegal street rallies and demonstrations would surely lead to aggression and these acts can affect the safety and economy of the country," he added.

He also warned groups never to bring their children to such rallies as this could endanger their lives.

"Under the Child Act, children should not be exploited and stern action can be taken against these irresponsible people because it jeopardises the safety of the children," he said.

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More applying for jobs with civil service

MYT 8:15:05 PM

MALACCA: More people, including fresh graduates, are now applying for jobs with the civil service following the increase in salaries last July, Director-General of Health Tan Sri Datuk Dr Mohd Ismail Merican said.

He said this paradigm shift occurred after the increase put the salaries of civil servants on par with those in the private sector.

Speaking at the state level excellent services award ceremony here on Thursday, Mohd Ismail said this had also reduced the burden and the problem of the Government in addressing the critical human capital shortage in certain service sectors.

"It has also provided an opportunity for the Government to choose the best candidates to serve in the service," he said, adding that Health Ministry staff received raises of between 7.5% and 35%.

He said that it was essential to nurture a workforce with first class mentality, who always strive to give their best in their work.

Mohd Ismail said the shortage of trained personnel in selected service sectors in the Health Ministry has not been resolved completely.

"We still have problems in meeting the needs of medical officers and specialists, dental, pharmacists, nurses and assistant health officers," he said.

Mohd Ismail said Malacca is among the countries with less problems but states like Sabah, Sarawak, Labuan, Pahang and Johor are facing critical problems.

He said the Government had taken several initiatives including brain gain, allowing locum pro practice, opportunities for career advancement and increase in special allowances.

"Besides the human resource problems, the increase in cost for providing health services, change in disease trends, discovery of new diseases, health crises as well as disaster management were the other challenges faced by the ministry," he said.

Ismail said the increase in salaries should motivate civil servants to work hard to improve productivity and quality of service.

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Visa-on-arrival facility stays

MYT 8:31:05 PM

PETALING JAYA: The visa-on-arrival facility will not be scrapped.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the problem of overstaying tourists was a question of enforcement and it did not warrant the facility to be reviewed.

Public Accounts Committee chairman Datuk Shahrir Abdul Samad had called for the VOA to be reviewed as one in three visitors under the programme had overstayed.

“We want to make it as convenient as possible, especially for genuine tourists, investors and businessmen. The facility makes us very open and sends the right signal to the people of the world that we welcome them to visit Malaysia."

“The problem of overstaying is a question of enforcement,” Najib told reporters after the groundbreaking ceremony of Spirit Aerosystems (Europe) Limited’s (Spirit) facility in Subang here Thursday.

On the 2001 project to develop for the Royal Malaysia Armed Forces (RMAF) three Eagle Airborne Reconnaissance Vehicles (ARV), Najib said it would be halted.

“I don’t think there’s much future in the project, we are discontinuing the line. We are not producing it anymore,” he said. Najib said the international tender for new aircraft to replace the fleet of RMAF Nuri helicopters had opened on Nov 8.

Earlier in his speech, Najib said that given the strategic importance of the aerospace industry, the Government was seriously considering increasing the current list of aerospace products/activities eligible for incentives.

“The Government is looking at providing a conducive environment for aerospace industries to invest and grow in Malaysia,” he said, adding that the Spirit facility at Terminal I of the Sultan Azlan Shah Airport would lead to the further development of the Malaysian International Aerospace Centre.

The facility will initially manufacture composite aerospace wing sub-assemblies for commercial aircraft. Spirit AeroSystems (Europe) Ltd is the European division of Spirit AeroSystems Inc, the world’s largest independent supplier of commercial airplane assemblies and components.

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Govt must pay RM380mil if toll not raised

Thursday November 22, 2007

KUALA LUMPUR: The Government will have to fork out a total of RM380mil to compensate toll concessionaire companies next year if the Cabinet decides not to increase toll rates.

Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said although the Cabinet had not decided on the issue, the ministry had worked out the amount of compensation to toll concessionaire companies.

Except for the Penang Bridge where the toll rate is scheduled to be revised on Oct 1, seven expressway operators are due to review their rates on Jan 1.

The Government would have to compensate Ampang-Ulu Kelang Elevated Highways RM28mil, North-South Expressway (central region) RM18mil, Seremban-Port Dickson RM178mil, Kulim-Butterworth Expressway RM10mil, Second Link to Singapore RM6mil, Sprint Highway RM34mil, NKVE RM9mil and Penang Bridge RM22mil, he said.

The Government, having increased toll charges of the Lebuhraya Damansara Puchong (LDP) from RM1 to RM1.60 instead of RM2.10, would have to pay Litrak, the operator of LDP, RM75mil.

Samy Vellu said this in his reply to Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Ipoh Timur) while answering queries at the committee stage of the Supply Bill 2008.

He added that the Government was still finding ways to reduce the toll charges.

Replying to Salahuddin Ayob (PAS-Kubang Kerian), Samy Vellu said the cost to build the palace complex to replace Istana Negara was RM450mil with another RM200mil to build the quarters, security features, multi-level underground car park and others.

He said the cost of the new palace complex was not RM1bil as stated by Salahuddin.

“The Government has decided that the cost to build the new palace complex be capped at RM650mil and it cannot be more than that,” he added.

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549 probed under ISA since 2005

THE Anti-Corruption Agency investigated 549 people from 2005 to September this year, with 269 cases still pending.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who is Internal Security Minister, said no ACA personnel was investigated during the same period.

Seventy-four people have been detained under the Internal Security Act (ISA) at the detention camp in Kamunting, Perak, until Aug 29.

The detainees were held for offences such as involvement in Jemaah Islamiah and Daulah Islamiah, minting of counterfeit RM1 coins, using fake identities and fake China passports and smuggling of illegal foreign workers.

Other cases involved the Southern Thailand Military Movement and Southern Thailand Separatists Movement.

Abdullah said the Government was aware of the detainees’ welfare and allowed them to apply for financial assistance.

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Expediting remand cases

THE Internal Security Ministry is working closely with the Attorney-General’s Chambers and courts to expedite the 13,880 remand cases or 34.2% of the total number of prisoners in the country.

Deputy Minister Datuk Fu Ah Kiow told Datuk Raja Ahmad Zainuddin Raja Omar (BN-Larut) that foreign prisoners could not be jailed in their home countries.

“This is because the foreign governments refused to accept them, and we cannot allow these prisoners to think that they can be sent back and be freed without being punished here first,” he added.

Fu said the prisons were now holding 40,821 prisoners, or 30% more than the ideal capacity of around 31,200 people.

In addition, 5,669 illegal immigrants were being held in 11 detention depots managed by the Prisons Department, he said.

Among the steps taken to settle the problem of overcrowding in prisons are increasing the capacity of existing prisons and constructing 16 more under the Ninth Malaysia Plan.

“The ministry hopes that the new prisons will be able to house 15,400 more prisoners by 2010.

“The Johor government has agreed to the reopening of the Johor Baru prison on Jan 1 next year, which will house about 1,000 remand prisoners,” he told Datuk Seri Mohd Salleh Tun Said (BN-Kota Belud).

Fu said the introduction of the parole system, which requires prisoners to do social services activities, would help to reduce overcrowding.

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More than 3.1 million spend RM15mil on smokes every day

MORE than 3.1million smokers nationwide are spending a whopping RM15mil daily on cigarettes, reported China Press.

Health Ministry parliamentary secretary Datuk Lee Kah Choon said the figure showed a worrying trend, adding that smokers should quit the habit and spend the money on something beneficial instead.

According to a report by the ministry's Disease Control Unit, there was an upward trend in the number of young smokers.

Lee said there was one female smoker in every 33 who lighted up nationwide. Currently, the number of female smokers in the country stands at 274,000.

He said 1.1 million smokers were aged between 25 and 34 while 318,000 were between 55 and 64, adding that many smokers were parents. “If parents cannot lead by example, their children might follow their footsteps and pick up the habit,” he said.

The ministry had stepped up anti-smoking campaigns, as smoking was a public health problem.

Without such campaigns, the number of smokers was expected to soar to 3.8 million by 2015. It will reach the four million mark by 2020.

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UPSR, PMR name change

THE Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) and Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) examinations will be known as Pentaksiran Sekolah Rendah (PSR) and and Pentaksiran Sekolah Menengah Rendah (PSMR) respectively from 2011, Utusan Malaysia reported.

However, here will be no change to the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia.

According to the Malaysian Examination Syndicate's Psychometrics Unit head Dr Jamil Adimin, the move was made to conform with the National Education Assessment System.

He said the new system would include assessments for academic performance, co-curricular activities, behaviour, physical education and psychometric tests.

“After the school assesses the students, the central assessment unit will review the marks given by the school according to the school’s performance in the public examinations,” he said, adding that this method was being used in developed countries and schools would not be able to question reviews by the syndicate.

“The syndicate will be able to detect any 'extraordinary' marking by the schools through this system,” he said.

He said that with the change, the name of the syndicate would also be changed to the National Assessment Authority.

> Berita Harian reported that two civil servants in Negri Sembilan would have their salaries cut to compensate for their carelessness which brought about losses of more than RM60,000 to the state government.

State Secretary Datuk Norzam Mohd Nor said the first case involved a civil servant who was careless in handling fees and payments and incurred a loss of RM52,000.

The second, he said, was another case of negligence, which resulted in state government vehicles being involved in road accidents where the repairs cost the government tens of thousands of ringgit.

“The decision to cut the employees' salaries was made after the disciplinary committee heard our explanations and reviewed the evidence,” he said.

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Publish names of errant traders

KUALA LUMPUR: The Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations wants the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry to blacklist and post on its website or publish in newspapers the names of traders who raise the price of flour, which is a price-controlled item.

Its president Datuk N. Marimuthu said the Government should also impose the maximum fine on errant traders to deter others.

“Posting the names on the website will enable consumers to boycott the errant traders,” he said yesterday

“A RM200 or RM300 fine does not hurt their pockets. They may even increase the price further,” he said when asked to comment on some traders increasing the price of flour despite the government's decision to retain the price at RM1.35 per kilo.

The Price Control Act provides for a maximum fine of RM15,000 or two years' jail or a compound fine of RM7,500 for individual offenders and RM25,000 for companies.

The increase in flour price was reported to have caused a sharp rise in the price of burger buns to RM7 for a packet of 40 early this month from RM5 previously, causing the price of burgers to go up. – Bernama

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Skeletons, artefacts unearthed at Malacca worksite

MALACCA: The remains of four skeletons, complete with the skulls and frames intact, were found at an excavation site in Bandar Hilir four months ago, State Tourism, Culture and Heritage Committee chairman Datuk Ab Rahaman Ab Karim said.

He told the state assembly yesterday that, based on radiocarbon dating, the skeletons could be of people who lived during the Malacca Sultanate period between 1400 and 1450. Archaeology experts from Universiti Sains Malaysia are carrying out further studies on the bones.

Ab Rahaman also said different artefacts, 10,015 items in all, were recovered at the site.

The artefacts include Chinese porcelain, stoneware, broken Dutch pipes, broken glasses and bottles, and 19 old coins. There were also seven bullets.

The state government would not continue with its plan to construct a watchtower next to the Malacca tourist information office because of the artefact discovery, he added.

A new RM23mil tower is being constructed in Banda Hilir and would be managed by Kumpulan Melaka Berhad.

Speaking to reporters later, Ab Rahaman said the skeletons were believed to be Europeans based on their size.

“We believe it was a burial site as there was a key in a box found near the skeletons,” he said.

Ab Rahaman said they had also requested the Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry to allow them to house the skeletons and the artefacts in a museum in the state.

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Ways to lift palm oil industry

KUALA LUMPUR: The palm oil industry must get itself certified as environmentally friendly and sustainable, otherwise consumers will look for alternatives, warned Synergy Drive Berhad, the world’s largest palm oil producer.

Its president and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Ahmad Zubir Murshid pledged that his company would use the best sustainable practices in all its plantations.

Synergy Drive will officially become the world largest palm oil producer when the merger of three big plantation companies – Sime Darby, Golden Hope and Kumpulan Guthrie – takes place next week.

“The newly-merged business will be an entity involved in five core activities – plantations, property, automotive, heavy equipment and energy and utilities.

“Our commitment to sustainable practices is across all operating sectors,” Ahmad Zubir said on Tuesday in his keynote speech at the fifth Annual Meeting of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO).

“We are developing sustainable practices not just on the plantation but at the mill and in the processing plants in our oils and fats division,” he said.

The certification of sustainable palm oil practices would benefit the environment, economy and all stakeholders, said Ahmad Zubir.

Although there are hurdles to be overcome such as the need for adequately trained auditors to carry out certification and the high cost of implementing certification, the industry must solve them, he said.

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Penang wants report from TNB

PENANG: The state government wants a report from Tenaga Nasional Bhd by this week on why its fail-safe system to ensure continuous power supply on the island did not work during Tuesday's blackout.

State Public Works, Utilities and Transportation Committee chairman Datuk Koay Kar Huah said the failure in the system had caused a major power outage of between 10 minutes and one hour in several areas, including Bayan Lepas, George Town and Farlim.

He said the TNB substation in Seberang Prai should have kicked in to provide continuous power supply to the Island if there was a failure at the substation in Juru.

“Many Penangites were affected, even I was trapped in a lift in Komtar for about five minutes,” he told reporters during a break at the State Assembly sitting here yesterday.

On Monday a major part on the island was hit by a blackout after a power trip at the TNB substation in Juru.

The power failure at 3.30pm affected several areas in George Town, Air Itam, Tanjung Bungah and Pulau Tikus for about 90 minutes.

It was reported that several areas in Bayan Lepas were hit for about 10 minutes.

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Barisan reps stage walkout in Kelantan State Assembly

KOTA BARU: The third day of the State Assembly sitting turned chaotic when Datuk Nozula Mat Diah (BN – Paloh) was suspended by the Speaker, resulting in a walkout by Barisan Nasional assemblymen.

This is the first time that an assemblyman here has faced such an action.

Speaker Datuk Wan Abdul Rahim Wan Abdullah suspended Nozula after he refused to sit down and insisted on participating in the debate on the royal address.

Wan Abdul Rahim had earlier called upon Mohd Zain Ismail (BN – Bukit Teku) to begin speaking but Nozula, who stood up first, requested for the right to speak.

“I have come from very far, from Gua Musang, to speak and for the last two days, you've denied me my right. I refuse to sit down as the Speaker has been most unfair,” Nozula shouted.

Wan Abdul Rahim then invoked Standing Orders Rule 51.3 which states that all members of the House must respectfully obey the orders of the Speaker.

Following a motion to suspend Nozula, 23 members – all from PAS – voted in favour, with the 21 Barisan Nasional members present opposing. The Barisan members then staged a walkout.

Nozula's suspension will last until Tuesday when this sitting ends.

Wan Abdul Rahim then allowed proceedings to continue with only the PAS members in the House.

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KL hopes to retain maritime seat

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia will highlight her vast maritime interest and the strategic importance of the Straits of Malacca in seeking re-election to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) Council under Category C for a second consecutive term.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy, who is leading a delegation to the IMO's 25th assembly in London, said in a statement that Malaysia had always given high priority to the management of the busy strait, recognised as among the vital shipping lanes of the world.

The establishment of the Cooperative Mechanism between littoral states and users on the Straits of Malacca and Singapore in September was testimony of Malaysia’s commitment in ensuring the strait remained safe and open to international shipping, he said.

Chan said Malaysia has been an IMO member since 1971 and has supported IMO initiatives including many international conventions promoting safety of shipping, maritime transport security and protection of the marine environment.

Malaysia also strongly supported the need for the IMO to further enhance its technical cooperation programme which was crucial for capacity building in the field, especially in developing nations, he said.

The election will take place tomorrow with 27 nations vying for the council seat for 2008 to 2009.

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Johari: Hindraf playing up issues

PUTRAJAYA: The public has been advised to stay away from the illegal gathering planned by the Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf) at the British High Commission on Sunday.

Deputy Internal Security Minister Datuk Johari Baharum said no permit had been given by the police for such a gathering, which renders it unlawful.

“Based on the SMS texts which have been attributed to this group and circulated lately, we found that Hindraf is playing up on sensitive issues which may lead to tension.

“I have asked the police to trace the sender of these SMSes and I ask the public to stay away from the gathering,” he told reporters after receiving a courtesy call from Deputy Inspector-General of Police Datuk Ismail Omar at his office here yesterday.

The gathering is to submit a petition with 100,000 signatures to Queen Elizabeth II to appoint a Queen’s Counsel to represent the Indian community in a class action suit against the British government for bringing Indians as labourers to then Malaya and thereafter exploiting them.

The suit, filed at the Royal Courts of Justice in London by Hindraf chief P. Wathyamoorthy in August, sought compensation of up to US$4 trillion (RM13.5 trillion), or US$1mil (RM3.4mil) for every Indian in Malaysia.

On his meeting with Ismail earlier, Johari said the Government has agreed with the police’s proposal to have their personnel at its outposts in remote areas rotated every month to avoid boredom.

“At present, these outposts are manned by ordinary policemen, who have to serve and live in these areas for up to two or three years.

“This can get quite boring for these officers and their family members, especially those who have to man outposts in remote islands. They also face problems in carrying out their duties there because of having been stationed there too long.

“So, to avoid this, we have agreed to let the General Operations Force man these outposts and have them rotate their officers on a monthly basis,” he said.

Having officers rotated on a monthly basis at outposts, particularly those situated along the borders, has led to increased surveillance and better security in these areas, he said.

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RM8.3bil already spent under 9MP, says Samy

KUALA LUMPUR: The Works Ministry has spent RM8.3bil, or 43.8%, of the RM20bil allocated to it under the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP) for infrastructure projects.

Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said yesterday that RM5bil was spent last year and RM3.7bil was expected to be spent by end of this year.

He was clarifying his earlier statement on Monday that the ministry had spent about 75% of its 9MP allocation.

“The RM3.7bil only made up 75% of the expenditure for 2007 and we hope to utilise all the allocation for the year before the year ends,” he said in a statement here.

He said the Public Works Department (PWD) would advertise tenders for several infrastructure projects in local newspapers from time to time.

“The PWD is monitoring projects which have been tendered out and I'm studying the report and progress of the projects,” he added.

All state governments have also appointed their representatives to monitor the progress of projects under the 9MP, Samy Vellu said. – Bernama

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560,000 jobs under ECER

KEPALAS BATAS: Some 560,000 job opportunities will be created when the East Coast Economic Region (ECER) goes into full swing, Human Resources Department director-general Romli Hassan said.

He said several hundred thousands more jobs would be created when projects under the Northern Corridor Economic Region were implemented.

Under the ECER alone, 205 projects will be implemented with investments estimated at RM112bil until 2020. The ECER covers Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and northern Johor.

“Graduates cannot say they are unemployed because there are no jobs. I cannot accept such excuses.

“Either they are refusing to work or are too choosy,” he said after attending the Human Resources Department Training Institutes northern zone convocation here yesterday.

A total of 1,211 graduates from seven Industrial Training Institutes (ILP) in the northern region received their diplomas and certificates during the two-day convocation.

Romli said the 27 institutes nationwide had produced more than 50,000 skilled and semi-skilled workers to meet the country’s demand for skilled workers, since the institutes' inception.

“The number of graduates produced by the institutes will be insufficient when all projects under the three economic regions are fully implemented,” he added.

Romli said new courses that were relevant to the industrial and technological needs of the country would be offered at some of the ILPs.

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AirAsia not raising its fuel surcharge

SEPANG: AirAsia will not raise its fuel surcharge despite the rise in world crude oil prices, which topped US$99 (RM333) a barrel yesterday.

“No, not at the moment. One must build a sustainable business, at whatever the cost of oil is,” AirAsia Bhd founder and group chief executive officer Datuk Tony Fernandes told reporters at the AirAsia Academy here yesterday after two signing ceremonies.

He added that heavier planes required more fuel, “but it’s not fair to put a fuel surcharge on someone who’s not carrying a bag, as opposed to someone who’s carrying six bags.”

“We like to investigate different ways of doing different things,” he said.

Earlier, AirAsia signed an agreement with Aviation Australia to have its existing technicians trained in aircraft maintenance, fulfilling the requirements by the European Aviation Safety Agency.

AirAsia X, the group's long-haul budget carrier, also signed a five-year agreement with Tourism Queensland to promote Gold Coast, Australia.

AirAsia X chief executive officer Azran Osman Rani said that currently there were four flights a week to Gold Coast. Its first flight there was on Nov 2.

“We plan to increase it to a flight a day, as more aircraft become available,” Azran said.

Also present at the event was Australian Tourism, Regional Development and Industry Minister Desley Boyle, Tourism Queensland chairman Don Morris, and Aviation Australia chief executive officer Paul Bredereck.

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Penang Bridge safe to use, says Samy

KUALA LUMPUR: There are no worrying cracks on the Penang Bridge that can compromise the safety of the structure, Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said here yesterday.

“The bridge structure is strong and people can use it any time without worry,” he said.

Samy Vellu was commenting on Sungai Dua assemblyman Datuk Jasmin Mohamed's allegation at the Penang state assembly on Tuesday that there were serious cracks on the bridge.

Samy Vellu said the engineering consultants had also certified the strength of the structure and the safety of the bridge.

“Penang Bridge Sdn Bhd, the operator of the bridge, also regularly monitors to ensure the bridge is safe for all vehicles,” he said.

He said expansion work, including piling, was carried out cautiously to meet specifications and safety standards.

“The piling works will not affect the structure of the existing bridge,” he added.

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Langkawi ferry fares to go up from next month

ALOR STAR: Ferry fares to Langkawi will increase by RM6 to RM10 from next month.

The Transport Ministry has given the green light to the ferry operators to raise the fares but it also expects their services to improve.

The revised fare means a passenger needs to fork out RM46 (from RM36) for the Langkawi-Kuala Kedah return trip, and RM36 (from RM30) for the Langkawi-Kuala Perlis return trip.

Marine Department port and mariner affairs director Muhammad Razif Ahmad said the Government agreed to the fare increase in view of the surging fuel price and escalating cost of maintenance and spare parts.

“The Transport Ministry acknowledges that the ferry operators have absorbed the increase in operating cost for a long time,” he said in a statement.

When the ferry fare was last increased on June 1 two years ago, the cost of diesel was RM1.70 per litre. It is RM2.20 per litre now.

Muhammad Razif said the Transport Minister hoped that ferry operators would also improve their services and upgrade the comfort level of their vessels.

“On top of that, the operators are also expected to ensure the safety of their passengers and that their ferries are seaworthy,” he said.

The ferry operators had wanted to increase the fare effective Tuesday, but changed their minds following Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid’s warning not to do so without approval.

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