Insurance News

High cost to hijackings
9 January 2007, By The Star

PENANG: Lorry operators in the northern region have been hit hard by highway robberies, with some 300 cases involving high value consignments reported last year. Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said lorries carrying electronic chips and laptops were often the target, with losses estimated at RM30mil. “When there are too many hijacking cases, insurance companies refuse to provide any more insurance coverage. The lorry company also faces the risk of losing contracts,” he told newsmen after a meeting with the Lorry Transport Services Association northern region chairman Datuk Lee Peng Kee and committee members yesterday. During the meeting arranged by state executive councillor Lau Chiek Tuan, the association handed Chan a memorandum highlighting the hijacking cases. “It brings an adverse impact on the investment environment as a lot of high value goods are based on Just-In-Time delivery. Such robberies will erode the confidence of local and foreign investors.” Chan said he would bring up the matter to the relevant authorities and raise it at the Cabinet level. Association representatives should also have dialogues with relevant departments, particularly the police, to find ways to protect themselves. Earlier, after a meeting with Penang Port authorities and port users, Chan said the Government had given approval to Penang Port Sdn Bhd (PPSB) to review its cargo-handling tariff, which had not been reviewed for 26 years. He said the port users had agreed that an increase in tariff was reasonable and inevitable after 26 years, but wanted more consultation on the quantum. PPSB had earlier announced it would introduce new cargo-handling tariff on 150 types of cargo.

RM500m lifeline for businesses hit by floods
9 January 2007, By The Star

PUTRAJAYA: The Government has allocated RM500mil as special loans to help revive businesses affected by the floods that hit several states. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Bank Negara has set up a Special Relief Guarantee Facility to disburse the loans through all banks. The loans will be available from now until March 31 at 2.5% interest, which is below the market rate. Current bank lending interest rates are between 6.4% and 6.7% for small and medium enterprises. The maximum financing is RM500,000 per group of companies, and the Credit Guarantee Corporation will stand 80% guarantee for the loans, which require no collateral. The remaining 20% risk will be absorbed by the individual financial institution. Affected businesses can apply for the loans from any commercial bank, Islamic bank, SME Bank, Bank Kerjasama Rakyat Malaysia and Bank Pertanian Malaysia. Each company can apply for a loan of up to RM500,000 over three years with a six-month grace period. The money is meant for businesses to rebuild with new equipment and working capital, and not to refinance their existing credit facilities. Only affected businesses in districts defined by the National Security Division of the Prime Minister’s Department are eligible to apply. The places are: all districts in Johor and Malacca; Tampin, Gemas, Rembau and Jempol (Negri Sembilan); Rompin, Kuantan, Maran and Pekan (Pahang); Kuala Terengganu, Kemaman, Besut, Setiu, Dungun and Hulu Terengganu (Terengganu); Gua Musang, Kuala Krai, Tanah Merah and Pasir Mas (Kelantan); Kota Marudu, Kudat, Nabawan, Tenom, Beaufort and Pitas (Sabah); and Tatau (Sarawak). Companies must be Malaysian-owned and registered under the Companies Act 1965, Societies Act 1966 or the Cooperative Societies Act 1993. Entrepreneurs must be registered under the Registration of Businesses Act 1965. Bank Negara deputy governor Datuk Mohd Razif Abdul Kadir said the central bank would monitor the loan applications to ensure that facility was not abused. “We will have a system to prevent misuse or abuse of the facility because it is meant to help those whose businesses have been hit by the floods,” he said yesterday. The loans should be approved within two weeks, he added. For more details, call Bank Negara (03-2692 0091/2698 8044 ext 8949/8970).

It only takes hours for your stolen car to cross border
8 January 2007, By New Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR: It is 3am and you are fast asleep. Thieves enter your compound and flee with your car. You only realise it at 8am. As you lodge a police report at 9am, your car has crossed the Malaysian border and is on its way to Batam, Indonesia, or Thailand. By mid-day, your car is already in the hands of foreign syndicates for a fraction of the price you paid to buy it. And in less than 24 hours, a foreigner is happily driving your car around. With different registration number plates, of course. According to police, the favourite marques of syndicates behind this lucrative business were Toyota, Proton, Honda and Perodua. Police suspect that some car workshop operators are involved in these syndicates. According to police, 7,300 cars were stolen between January and August last year, but only 30 per cent of them were recovered. Assistant Superintendent Zulkifli Jasmin Hashim of the Federal Police Criminal Investigation Department (Criminal Intelligence Unit) said: “It’s getting harder for enforcement bodies to catch them. They are acting faster and smoother than before.” It only takes about four to five hours for the thieves to drive the car to the borders and, ironically, the improved road network helps. “Sometimes, even before the owner lodges a report of a missing car, the vehicle has already passed the border checkpoint,” he said. This is how the syndicates are believed to operate: Once the car is stolen, it is driven to a secluded car park by the thief who places the key at the back of the car or beside its front tyre, but hidden from view. From here, another man will drive it to a workshop, where the number plates are changed. “Then, it is driven out of the country via the Singapore or Thai border. “Once across the border, a car jockey takes over and drives it to a warehouse or a workshop where the number plate is changed and the registration card forged. “Then, it is sold to foreign syndicates which sell them to buyers there.” Zulkifli said the process took less than 24 hours. Vehicles bound for Batam are believed to be transported by barge via Singapore. “Most of the orders come from logging contractors in foreign countries who want to cut cost by buying stolen cars at cheap prices,” he said. A Toyota or a Honda is sold for RM30,000, a Proton Perdana V6 goes for RM20,000, a Proton Wira is sold for RM5,000 while a Kelisa or Kancil is sold for RM1,000. He said it was difficult to detect the stolen car as the syndicates would change the number plates and the car registration number within hours using forged documents. “The problem is the driver only has to produce a photostat copy of the car documents. These documents can be forged very easily.” The road tax disc is also forged by the syndicates. “They remove it using a hair dryer or other ways and expertly change the particulars in the road tax disc to indicate the new number plates,” said Zulkifli. He said police were able to recover some of the stolen cars mainly because the vehicles had been abandoned by the syndicates. “We detected these cars because they were abandoned at secluded spots or were detected at checkpoints.” The reason some of the cars were abandoned was that it would have taken the thieves or the jockeys more than 24 hours to cross the checkpoints or because the police were on the hunt for that particular car. “The danger of detecting a stolen car is higher after 24 hours and they do not want to take the risk,” he added. The abandoned cars, Zulkifli said, were stripped of their parts by the middleman, usually someone who runs a workshop, before being abandoned somewhere. “They aim for the chassis number which can be used for other stolen cars. They also take the seats and other parts.” He said car theft syndicates were thriving because it was easy to get drug users to steal the cars. The addicts receive 10 per cent of the value of the car as payment. “They can earn up to RM3,000 for each car, depending on the market value. The jockey who drives the car across the border gets RM500,” he added. Zulkifli said the number of car thieves was increasing as they were mostly drug addicts. “One person will know the other and they help each other to make money by introducing them to the business,” he said. Zulkifli advised car owners to have additional safety features such as steering locks or pedal locks. “From our investigations, we found that a safety feature in the car is a real put-off for them, especially a pedal lock. “Since it takes longer to break into the car, they turn their attention to cars without such locks.”

No Compensation For Plantation Operators Affected By Floods
4 January 2007, By BERNAMA

KUCHING — The Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry will not compensate plantation operators for losses resulting from the floods that hit several states on Dec 19. Minister Datuk Peter Chin acknowledged that palm oil and rubber plantation operators had suffered losses after their plantations, factories and infrastructure were inundated by the floods that hit Johor, Melaka, Pahang and Negri Sembilan. “However, the government will not defray the economic losses,” he told reporters after the launch of the Malaysian Pepper Board here Thursday. The government had given aid of RM200 each to the flood-affected families registered with the relief centres to ease their burden. Chin said his ministry was gathering information on the losses sustained by the commodities operators to help the government assess the economic loss caused by the floods.

10-year-old accident victim awarded RM9.8m
30 December 2006, By New Straits Times

KUANTAN: A tow truck driver and his employer were ordered by a Sessions Court judge to pay over RM9.8 million yesterday to a 10-year-old road accident victim. The amount is believed to be one of the biggest compensation ever awarded in a civil case in the country. Sophia Isabel, who was two years old when the accident happened, now cannot move on her own, urinate in a normal manner or have a sexual relationship for the rest of her life. Tow truck driver Heng Fook Yong and his employer Eng Chin Tai, who was not present in court, were represented by lawyer Kris Edward. The court found they negligently caused the accident which resulted in Sophia’s injuries. The judgment of Judge Datuk Mariana Yahya was read by Judge Sarimah Hashim. The defendants were ordered to pay specific damages of RM260,193.25; pre-trial compensation (RM601,208.79); post-trial compensation (RM8,605,507.84); injuries compensation (RM355,000); four per cent interest for the specific damages and eight per cent interest on the other amounts. In the accident on Jan 3, 1999, the Perodua Kancil in which Sophia and her family were travelling was hit by the tow truck driven by Heng at Km 67 of Jalan Kuantan-Maran about 1.30pm. The car, driven by Sophia’s mother, was travelling from Awana Kijal to Kuala Lumpur. Sophia suffered multiple injuries as the result of the crash. Her parents and two siblings were also injured. Speaking outside the court, lawyer Mansheel Kaur, who represented Sophia said her client’s family was satisfied with the court’s decision. “This case, hopefully, will create a better awareness among members of the public that they are entitled to claim a just compensation,” she said. Sophia’s father, who did not wish to be identified, said his family would use the compensation for the girl’s future and to purchase equipment including a new wheel chair for her. “Even though I am satisfied with the court’s decision, nothing will compensate the fact that my daughter will never have a normal life,” he said. He said his family spent between RM3,000 and RM4,000 per month for Sophia’s medical treatment and disposable diapers. They also hired a maid, who looks after Sophia full time.

Ten-year-old girl awarded highest accident claim in the country
29 December 2006, By The Star

KUANTAN: The Sessions Court here on Friday awarded RM9.8mil to a 10-year-old girl who was paralysed waist down from injuries suffered in a road accident almost eight years ago. It is believed to be the highest amount handed down for an accident claim in the country. Sophia Isabel, from Kuala Lumpur, was only two years and three months old when the car driven by her mother was involved in head-on collision with a lorry at the 67th kilometer of Jalan Kuantan-Maran, on Jan 3, 1999. Judge Sarimah Hashim read the decision, awarding a total of RM9,821,909.88, including special damages, pre-trial and post-trial costs, and injuries suffered by Sophia. Sophia was represented by Mansheel Kaur and was present with her parents. She was seen in her wheelchair in the court compound, moving from one place to another while her mother stood at the corridor, watching her antics. Neither the defendents, Heng Fook Yong and Engw (sic) Chin Tai of Kuantan Crane nor their counsel, Edward Chin, were present to hear the court’s decision. The suit was filed in 2001. Due to her injuries, Sophia has lost all her senses from waist down and needs help to urinate, pass motion and for other physical activities for the rest of her life. On the court’s decision, Sophia’s father, who did not want to be identified, said he was satisfied but could not help wondering when he would get to see the money. On May 19, the same Sessions Court had awarded RM8.75mil to Tim Joel Gurther and Jennifer Lynn Gurther, a magician couple from the US, for injuries resulting from a road accident in 1998.

Johor flood toll rises to 15
3 January 2007, By The Star

JOHOR BARU: Floods in Johor claimed another two lives, bringing the total number of victims who died to 15 so far. Yesterday, the bodies of two Nepalese who were swept away by strong currents in Kampung Kolam Air, Parit Sulong on Sunday were found at a retention pond in the area. A spokesman for the flood operation room at the Johor police contingent headquarters said the bodies of Lok Bahadur Kharta, 33, and Boes Raj Bahandari, 26, who worked at Hwa Tai biscuit factory, were found at 11.55am yesterday. They were reported missing after being swept away by strong currents at 5.30pm on Sunday. Meanwhile, the number of flood victims at the 85 relief centres in Johor dropped to 27,586 as at 8pm yesterday. Some 26,240 victims were in 73 centres in Batu Pahat, 1,117 in Muar and 229 in Segamat. In Malacca, the number of flood victims in relief centres dropped to 128 from 136, leaving only three centres in Sungai Rambai still open. In Pahang, only 21 victims remained in the centre last night compared with 114 on Monday morning. The victims, comprising three Orang Asli families, are at the Bangkung community hall in Rompin.

More Flood Victims Return Home
3 January 2007, By BERNAMA

JOHOR BAHARU — A total of 26,403 flood victims remained at the relief centres in Johor this morning after 1,183 returned home last night. A state police flood operations room spokesman said Batu Pahat had 25,114 evacuees, Muar (1,121) and Segamat (168). He said the fine weather, coupled with the receding flood waters, enabled more victims to return home. Only 81 relief centres remained open in the state — Batu Pahat (69), Segamat (8) and Muar (4) — while the death toll stood at 15. In PAHANG, a state flood operations room spokesman said the last relief centre at the Bangkung community centre closed last night after the last batch of 21 victims was allowed to return home.

Malaysia’s Road Safety Research Body Starts Operation Tomorrow
2 January 2007, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR — The Malaysian Institute of Road Safety (MIROS) goes into operation tomorrow, almost 20 years after the idea to have a road safety research body was mooted. Set up with an initial grant of RM50 million, MIROS is headed by the country’s renowned road safety expert Prof Dr Radin Umar Radin Sohadi as its director-general. MIROS, which will conduct various research on road safety with the initial aim of reducing road deaths by 50 per cent in four years, will operate from temporary premises on the second floor of the Ministry of Transport in Putrajaya. It will move to the permanent location on a 16 hectares land provided by Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) in Serdang once the building and facilities such as the simulator, test track and crash test apparatus are ready. The decision to establish MIROS was announced by Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy during his official visit to Sweden in September last year. Road Safety Department Director-General Datuk Suret Singh said MIROS would be the first road safety research institute in Southeast Asia and the third in the Asia-Oceania region after those in Japan and Australia. “MIROS will be linked to other top research institutes on road safety. These top institutes have agreed to have cooperation and collaboration with MIROS, including access to their various research data,” he told Bernama. Suret Singh said MIROS would be linked to the Australian Road Research Board (ARRB); Dutch National Road Safety Research Institute (SWOV); Transport Research Laboratory, United Kingdom; French National Institute For Transport and Safety Research (INRETS) and Swedish National Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI). “It’s a dream come true for us. This is because, all this while, we only conducted research on an ad hoc basis and confined to media campaigns. However, with MIROS, we will be able to achieve more desirable results as there is a body that conducts various research on road safety on a full-time basis,” he said. He said MIROS was established as part of the government’s four-year master plan for road safety (2006-2010) which outlines nine strategies with 52 programmes to reduce the accident rate by more than 50 per cent — that is to reduced the deaths resulting from road accidents from the current 4.2 deaths per 10,000 vehicles to two deaths per 10,000 vehicles by 2010. “On average, we have 6,000 deaths per year and in four years time (2010) we have to reduce this by at least half (3,000). It’s a momentous task for us but we believe we can do it,” he said. Suret Singh recalled that the idea of having such an institute was mooted almost 20 years ago, adding that in 1990 an attempt was made to have a chair on road safety at UPM funded by the private sector but the financial crisis put paid to the plan. MIROS director-general Radin, who was UPM Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic and International Affairs) until last month, has been largely involved in conducting research on road safety in the country, and his expertise has been often sought by the government and agencies. Radin told Bernama MIROS would have four areas of research — Vehicle Safety, Traffic Engineering and Planning, Human Behaviour and Trauma Management — with each unit of research headed by a director and between five to 10 researchers. “We would have simulator, test crash facilities and other facilities for the research. MIROS will also have access to world-renowned publications and up-to-date data on road safety,” he said. Radin said MIROS would also focus on post- trauma management such as Trauma Care Research, Injury Epidemiology, Medical Fitness, First Response and Post Injury Rehabilitation. “With this, we hope for better management of our accident victims and more focus on the accident victims’ rehabilitation programme,” he said. He said MIROS’ performance would be guided by 15 key performance indicators and that its establishment would benefit not only government agencies but also the private sector such as vehicle manufacturers in terms of designing safer cars. Radin said MIROS would eventually be able to export its expertise as the institute would have the advantage of conducting research that is more suitable to the environment in this region. “Other research institutes focus heavily on cars, heavy vehicles and driver behaviour which are more associated with the developed countries. Here, in Malaysia, we have quite a large number of motorcyclists and any research on this aspect is more appealing to the countries in this region which have many motorcyclists as well,” he said. Moreover, Radin said, Malaysia is known internationally as one of several countries in the world that has conducted research on road safety and this would put MIROS in a better position to export its expertise.

898 More Flood Victims Return Home As Situation Improves In Johor
1 January 2007, By BERNAMA

JOHOR BAHARU — Up to 898 more flood victims were allowed to return to their homes Sunday night as the situation in flood-hit Johor continued to improve, leaving 49,444 still at 153 relief centres Monday morning. A spokesman of the Johor police flood operations room said with the prevailing fine weather, more evacuees are expected to move back to their houses. He said that at morning count, 29,981 evacuees remained at relief centres in Batu Pahat, 17,867 in Muar, 667 in Kota Tinggi, 663 in Segamat, 206 in Mersing and 60 in Johor Baharu Selatan. In Muar, Jalan Bukit Kepong-Labis and Jalan Panchor-Grisik remain closed to light vehicles while Jalan Gombang Liang Batu, Jalan Durian Chondong and Jalan Gunung Liang Batu are closed to all vehicles as they are under 0.2 to 0.7 metre of water, he said. In Batu Pahat, four roads — Jalan Tongkang Pecah-Parit Jalil, Jalan Parit Karjo-Sanggang, Jalan Parit Terus-Sri Medan and Jalan Sri Pasir-Sri Medan — remain closed as they are under 1.5 to three metres of water, he added.

Toll Hike On Five Highways Effective 6 Am Monday
31 December 2006, By BERNAMA

MELAKA — The announced toll increase of between 20 and 60 per cent on five highways in the Klang Valley will start at 6 am Monday, Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said. There is no change in the rate of increase that was announced on Dec 14, he told reporters after presenting aid to 550 flood victims in Bukit Beruang near here. The toll hike of between 30 sen and RM1 will be for the Damansara-Puchong Expressway (LDP), Shah Alam Highway, Cheras-Kajang Highway, KL-Karak Highway and Guthrie Corridor Expressway. Samy Vellu said he hoped that the reduction in road tax for vehicles announced by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak yesterday would ease the burden of motorists a little. “For a long time, the people have been asking why the road tax cannot be reduced when they were already paying toll, and the government has acted (to reduce the road tax),” he added. Asked about the DAP challenge to the government to buy over the five toll concessionnaires, Samy Vellu said: “We can buy them, let them (DAP) pay. They talk to seek popularity. The opposition politics is always to seek popularity without considering the nation’s interest.” Samy Vellu said the government had the responsibility to develop the country, including providing first-class infrastructure, to draw more investors.

More Evacuees Return Home As Situation In Flood-hit Areas Improves
30 December 2006, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR — The situation in flood-hit areas in Johor improved further today with fine weather but 54,512 flood victims remained at 167 relief centres Saturday night, though down from the 58,876 Saturday morning. A spokesman of the Johor police flood operations room said the number of evacuees at Batu Pahat was the highest, at 29,725. The number of evacuees in Muar was 20,868, Kota Tinggi 2,279, Segamat 945, Kluang 429, Mersing 206 and Johor Baharu Selatan 60. He said the fine weather in Johor Baharu allowed for two relief centres in Johor Baharu Utara — the Masjid Jamek at Lorong Aris Batu 8 1/2 in Skudai and the school hall of Sekolah Jenis Cina Pu Sze, also in Skudai, to be closed. Two more relief centres, which housed 1,248 evacuees from Kampung Laut, Kampung Murni Jaya, Lorong Aris, Seelong and Air Bemban, were also closed today. In Muar, several roads remained closed to traffic, namely Jalan Muar-Parit Sulong, Jalan Bukit Pasir-Pagoh, Jalan Muar-Segamat, Jalan Bukit Serampang-Kandong and Jalan Pagoh-Panchor. In Batu Pahat, Jalan Sungai Parit Sikun, Parit Terus, Jalan Seri Pasir, Jalan Parit Sulong-Muar, Jalan Batu 1 Kampung Baru-Parit Sulong, Jalan Parit Sengkuang-Seri Bengkal-Parit Yaani, Jalan Taman Seri Wangsa and Jalan Parit Sentang-Senggarang remained closed. The death toll from the floods remained at 12 and the search is still on for an 18-year-old boy, Mohd Farizan Mokhtar, who was reported missing in Kampung Durian Chondong, Muar, on Thursday. In MELAKA, the number of evacuees at relief centres tonight dropped to 254 from 411 this evening. A spokesman of the state flood operations room said the evacuees were being housed at three relief centres in Sungai Rambai, Jasin.

Johor Flood Death Toll Rises To 12
29 December 2006, By BERNAMA

JOHOR BAHARU — The number of deaths due to floods in Johor rose to 12 Friday with the recovery of the body of a five-year-old girl who was reported missing two days ago. A Batu Pahat police spokesman said the body of Pavithra Kamalanathan was found at 3.45pm in an oil palm plantation near the spot where strong currents carried away the car she was travelling in with her parents and sibling in Kampung Kamisan, Yong Peng. The bodies of her mother Punithavathi, 31, and sibling Panithra, three, were found Thursday. Her father Kamalanathan, an estate assistant manager, survived the incident and was receiving treatment at the Batu Pahat Hospital.

Car Theft Syndicate Smashed
27 December 2006, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR — The Police have smashed a syndicate which stole 60 luxury cars valued at RM6 million in the Klang Valley during the last two years with the capture of 10 men recently. Subang Jaya District Police Chief ACP Mohd Fuad Talib said the syndicate which sold their cars in Singapore and the West Asia came to light after the police arrested a man, 32, last Dec 5, when he was attempting to steal a Toyota Harrier belonging to a woman who was waiting to take her child from school at Bandar Kinrara, Puchong, here. “The man pointed a toy pistol at the woman before speeding off with the car,” he told reporters here, Wednesday. However, the car stopped 300 metres from the original spot when its security system stopped the engine. The woman informed her husband and the police who arrived at the scene in four minutes and arrested the man. Fuad said, the police raided a hotel at Sri Petaling here, at 9.30pm and detained three men aged between 27 and 35 last Dec 6. They seized two luxury cars and RM340,000 cash. “Police learnt from interrogating the men that they had stolen 60 cars in Petaling Jaya, Kuala Lumpur, Subang Jaya, and Cheras. The cars included brands such as the Toyota Harrier, Toyota Wish, Toyota Hilux, Toyota Avanza, Toyota Altis, Perodua Kembara, and Perodua Myvi,” he asid. Police detained another six men involved in the syndicate last Dec 16 after they stole a Toyota Harrier at Seri Kembangan, Serdang, here at midnight. He said, they were detained under section 379 of the Penal Code for armed robbery and 392 of the same code for stealing the cars. The syndicate sold the Toyota Harrier at RM7,000 each, Toyota Wish (RM3,000), Perodua Myvi (RM2,500) and Perodua Kembara (RM2,000). He said, they sent the cars overseas by ship and the police had contacted Interpol for assistance.

Flood In Johor Worsens, Situation In Pahang And Melaka Improves
27 December 2006, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR — Flood situation in Johor worsened, while the situation in Pahang and Melaka had improved, Wednesday evening. Rainfall since yesterday morning until 7am today in Johor Baharu had worsened the flood situation, with the number of evacuees at relief centres in the city increasing to 3,367 against 1,208, Wednesday. To date, a total of 60,156 evacuees in Johor were still staying at 229 relief centres in the state. A spokesman from the Johor Police Contingent Headquarters’ Flood Operations Room said from the total, 25,669 victims were in Batu Pahat, Muar (19,723), Kota Tinggi (6,380), Segamat (3,609), Pontian (57), Mersing (780), Kluang (571) and Johor Baharu (3,367). Meanwhile, a 14-year-old student was feared to have drowned when he was swept off by strong current after falling into an irrigation canal at Kampung Parit Kasan, Simpang Lima, Bukit Gambir, here Wednesday morning. Mohd Farid Poniman was playing near the canal with four friends and a younger brother when he slipped down the canal. Muar OCPD ACP Mohd Nazir Mohd Ali said a search operation was being carried out by members of the armed forces, police, fire and rescue department and Civil Defence Department. Mohd Farid and his family were staying at a relief centre at Sekolah Agama Simpang Lima since last week when their house was flooded. Prior to this, the flood in Johor had taken the lives of teacher M. Mageswari, 27, and her uncle A. Muniandy on Dec 20; painter Mohd Azahari Nordin, 27 and two senior citizens Ahmad Sharkawi, 70, and Masiah Ahmad, 69 (Dec 21); senior citizen Ow Kee Heng, 60’s (Dec 22); Mepalese Chandra Bahadur Kharka, 24 (Dec 23); and an Indonesian Abdul Wahid, 29, (Dec 25). In PAHANG, one more relief centre had been closed as many victims returned to their homes this evening. Pahang Police Contingent Headquarters’ flood operations room spokesman said as of 4.30pm Wednesday, the number of evacuees at eight relief centres in Rompin and Pekan had been reduced to 832 people from 1,250 in the afternoon. In MELAKA, the number of evacuees at seven relief centres were also down to 2,283 people as of 2.00pm, Wednesday compared with 3,187 victims in the afternoon. A State flood operations room spokesman said all the relief centres were in Jasin.

Early Warning System Effective, Says Najib
27 December 2006, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR — Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Wednesday said that the early warning system to alert people about the impending floods in several areas in Johor last week was effective. However, he said the water level was rising too quickly to enable people to react immediately. “The system was effective but the increase in the water level was quite extraordinary, beyond anybody’s expectation, so that was something totally unexpected,” he told reporters when met after a national-level 2006 Christmas Open House, here. Najib was asked to comment on newsreports, Wednesday which quoted Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz as saying that the public had been warned about the possible floods in Johor on Dec 15 and Dec 16. Mohamed Nazri also denied claims by some residents in flood-stricken areas that they had no advance warning of the floods. Najib said the 24-hour downpour was beyond expectation and equivalent to two months of rainfall. “The amount of rainfall was unusual, as such, in some houses, the flood waters have reached the waist level within two to three hours,” he said. Najib said due to the unusual floods, the situation in the state within the first two days of the disaster, was rather uncertain. However, he said, the swift action by all parties involved, helped dispel the cloud of uncertainty and stabilised the situation. On the flood aid to students, Najib said the government would make efforts to ensure that all students affected by the floods would receive them the latest, within two days before school session begins. “If we use the available channels, there is no reason why we can’t reach the targeted groups,” he said. More importantly, he said, the flood victims had registered the names of their children affected by the disaster at the respective relief centres. The government, Tuesday announced flood aid of RM200 each to secondary school students and RM100 each to primary pupils affected by the floods. It is estimated that in Johor alone, 33,000 students will receive the aid. Other flood-hit states are Melaka, Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan. On the tsunami warning issued by the Meteorological Department on Sabah and Sarawak following the earthquake in Taiwan last night, Najib said the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation was monitoring the situation. “We had previously received warning of a tsunami occurring but after monitoring the situation, we concluded that the tsunami would not take place, hence the same procedure will be used this time,” he said.

Auto Workshops Enjoying Brisk Business From Floods
27 December 2006, By BERNAMA

SEGAMAT –Auto workshops are enjoying brisk business from the devastating floods in Johor, with many working round-the-clock to ensure their customers get back to their normal life again after being forced to flee their homes and take refuge at the relief centres. In Segamat, car mechanics and auto cleaners have been working hard all day and night since last Friday to ensure everybody in town would be able to move freely again. Local car mechanic Hamidun Yahmu, 30, said that he and his partner had repaired more than 40 vehicles since they resumed their operation last Friday. Like everyone else, he was also affected by the worst floods in decades in the state. Hamidun estimated that more than 1,000 vehicles in Segamat alone were affected by the district’s worst flood on Dec 19. Most of the repair work he does now is changing the motor oil so that the vehicles would be able to move again. “There is so much work now that further repair works involving overhauling and cleaning the engine would have to be done later,” he said. Vehicles with carburettor engines are easier and cheaper to repair than the fuel injection engines, according to him. He said most of the mechanics here charged about RM100 for their service and more depending on the type of motor oil used. “For Proton owners, the cost of repair is cheaper because almost all Proton cars use carburettor engines and most of the repair work involves changing the motor oil and spark plugs. “However, for the fuel injection engines, the vehicle’s onboard computer circuits would need to be changed too and the prices of computer circuits vary depending on the types of vehicles,” he added. For Toyota vehicles like the Avanza, a set of new computer circuit or computer board costs more than RM4,200, while its pick-up truck, the Hilux, has six computer circuits. The computer circuits for a Mercedes Benz, it is understood, may cost more than RM20,000 and the latest series uses two computer circuits. Hamidun said the computer circuits of luxury cars like the Mercedes Benz were easier to repair because they could control more functions than the cheaper models. Besides the engine repair, the interior of the car would need to be cleaned and that would cost another RM200 to RM400, depending on the type of car and the services offered by the auto cleaner, he added.

Strong Earthquake Hits Taiwan
26 December 2006, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR — A strong earthquake measuring 7.2 on the Richter scale has occurred in the Taiwan region, 802 kilometres north of Manila and 1706 kilometres northeast of Kudat at 8.34 Tuesday night. According to the Malaysian Meteorological Department statement issued Tuesday, the coordinates were 21.8 North 120.6 East. There is a possibility of local tsunami occurring near the epicentre. Meanwhile, a spokesman from the department when contacted Tuesday night said that a tsunami warning had been issued to residents in Sabah and Sarawak. Residents in the two states were advised not to go near the beach until the warning had been withdrawn, he added.

Floods In Johor Worsen, Five Relief Centres Reopen
26 December 2006, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR — After a general improvement in the last three days, the situation in flood stricken areas in Kota Tinggi and Johor Baharu took a turn for the worse again following intermittent rain since Monday night. Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) had to shut down electricity in Kota Tinggi District as flood waters rose from 0.3m to 0.6m Tuesday night. A spokesman from the Johor Police Flood Relief Centre said relief centres were reopened at Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Cina Pu Sze, Sengkang Hall, Kampung Lorong Arif Jamek Mosque, Sekolah Agama Cahaya Masai and Kampung Bukit Pulai Hall. He said Kampung Laut, Batu 10 Skudai in Johor Baharu was inundated again with floodwater rising to chest level causing 700 residents to be evacuated to Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Cina Pu Sze and another 200 to Kampung Lorong Arif Jamek Mosque, Skudai. The total number of people evacuated in Johor as at 8 pm Tuesday night was 56,877, of which 1,208 were in Johor Baharu, Batu Pahat (24,315), Muar (20,344), Kota Tinggi (5,756), Segamat (3,813), Pontian (381), Mersing (694) and Kluang (366), he said. The spokesman said that Jalan Kota Tinggi-Mersing at Km12 to Mawai was open to heavy vehicles while light vehicles could use Jalan Kota Tinggi-Desaru to go to Mersing via Felda Sungai Mas. In Segamat, Jalan Batu 7 Segamat-Tangkak and Jalan Segamat-Gemas is closed to traffic while the stretches of roads closed in Muar are Km3 and Km7 Jalan Pagoh-Lenga, Jalan Bukit Kepong-Labis, Jalan Pagoh-Panchor, Batu 5 Jalan Sungai Mati-Muar and Jalan Muar-Tangkak at Pekan Layang. In Batu Pahat several roads in Seri Medan were inaccessible namely Jalan Sungai Parit Sikun, Parit Terus and Jalan Seri Pasir. Jalan Muar-Yong Peng-Parit Sulong is impassable to traffic as it is under 0.5m of water. Jalan Tongkang Pecah-Parit Jalil, Batu 5 Yong Peng-Parit Sulong and Jalan Parit Karjo-Senggarang are impassable to traffic while Parit Sulong is cut off from other areas as flood waters rose to 0.3m, said the spokesman. He said the death toll in the state was still eight while rescuers made a frantic search for the missing supermarket helper Mohd Lokman Zakaria, 17, who was reported missing on the third day of the flood. For the victims, the assistance given by government agencies and non-government organisations had eased their burden in coping up with the floods in the last nine days. The announcement by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak that 33,000 students who were affected by the floods would receive financial aid to buy school uniforms and stationery was a welcome relief to the victims. Najib who is also the National Disaster Management and Aid Committee Chairman said primary school students would receive RM100 each while secondary school students RM200 each. The aid will be given before school reopens on Jan 3, he told reporters after visiting a flood relief centre at Sekolah Menengah Datuk Sulaiman, Parit Sulong, Batu Pahat, Johor. In PAHANG, the number of flood victims seeking shelter at 16 relief centres in Rompin and Pekan districts as at 8 pm dropped to 2,085 compared to 2,699 Tuesday afternoon. In MELAKA, the number of flood victims at relief centres dropped to 3,756 at 8 pm against 4,047 Tuesday afternoon.

Situation In Flood-hit Johor Improving
24 December 2006, By BERNAMA

BATU PAHAT — The situation in flood-hit Johor is improving with 15,000 of the 75,000 victims at the relief centres being allowed to return home today. Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman said the improvement in the situation saw the closure of 140 relief centres, leaving 264 still in operation catering to some 60,000 victims. Most of the victims who were allowed to return home were from Johor Baharu, Kota Tinggi, Segamat, Pontian, Kluang and Mersing as the water levels in these areas had subsided. The water levels of the rivers in Kluang and Kota Tinggi had returned to normal, while that in Segamat was dropping to a non-danger level, he told reporters after a briefing on the situation in Batu Pahat. Abdul Ghani, however, expected that it would take another week for the situations in Batu Pahat and Muar to return to normal as the two districts had taken water from the overflow of the rivers as well water that was automatically released from the dams once the level rose above normal.

Floods In Johor Still Bad, Death Toll Rises, Number Of Evacuees Up
23 December 2006, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR — The situation in flood-hit Johor remained bad Saturday night, with the death toll rising to seven and the number of evacuees increasing to 77,699. The body of a Nepali man, Chandra Bahadur Kharki, 24, was recovered in Kota Tinggi town at about 4 pm Saturday. A spokesman of the Welfare Services Department said Muar District in Johor had the most number of evacuees, 22,604, as at 8 pm. However, their number was down from 22,920 Saturday evening. He also said that Batu Pahat District had 14,808 evacuees, Kota Tinggi 11,890, Kluang 10,534, Segamat 10,609, Pontian 3,866, Johor Baharu 2,873 and Mersing 545. In Muar, road links in four towns — Bukit Kepong, Lenga, Panchor and Kundang — remained cut off since Friday. In Kota Tinggi, a spokesman of the police operations room said the level of the Sungai Johor was still at the danger point but the Jalan Kota Tinggi-Desaru near Felda Air Tawar 3 has been reopened to traffic. In Kluang, a spokesman of the Kluang District Information Department said the stretch of Jalan Kluang-Mersing at Km 115 passing through Felda Nitar remained closed and road users have been advised to take the Kluang-Jemaluang road to Mersing. In Segamat, the level of the Sungai Segamat is almost at the bridge in the town while Kampung Abdullah in the town was still without electricity which has been disconnected in view of the floods. Following reported looting at business premises, many policemen were seen on patrol in the town Saturday night. In PAHANG, the number of evacuees has also risen, from 5,027 Saturday evening to 5,713 Saturday night. A spokesman of the Rompin District police operations room said that up to 9.30 pm, the number of evacuees had gone up to 1,902 compared to 1,668 Saturday evening, prompting the opening of two more relief centres. The number of evacuees also went up in Pekan, to 1,063, while the number of evacuees in Kuantan was 2,749. In MELAKA, the situation in the flood-affected areas improved Saturday night with the number of evacuees at relief centres dropping to 12,373 from 12,504 Saturday evening. A spokesman of the Melaka state flood operations room said the number of evacuees at relief centres in Melaka Tengah was 7,229, Jasin 4,997 and Alor Gajah 147. In KELANTAN, the people of Rantau Panjang and Kota Baharu have been advised to be alert as the levels of the Sungai Golok in Rantau Panjang and the Sungai Kelantan at the Customs Jetty are reported to be approaching the danger point. A spokesman of the state flood operations room advised people living along the coast to be wary of high tide reaching its maximum level Saturday night. In TERENGGANU, the number of evacuees remained at 249 Saturday night. A spokesman of the police operations room said that as at 8 pm, many roads had been reopened to traffic except Jalan Cukai to Air Putih, Kemaman, and Jalan Tok Kah to Jerangau, Dungun.

Floods In Muar Deteriorating, Other Places Recovering
23 December 2006, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR — The flood situation in Muar, Johor, has worsened with the number of evacuees rising every hour. As 12pm, 21,220 people took shelter at 89 relief centres. More people were expected to flee their homes as water levels in Sungai Muar and Sungai Kesang were still raising but Muar town had not been flooded. The skies were cloudy with intermittent heavy rain. The roads in four small towns — Bukit Kepong, Lenga, Panchor and Kundang — were still under water. Altogether in the state, 74,675 people from 15,143 families were at 348 relief centres. A Social Welfare Department spokesman said Kota Tinggi now had 13,112 evacuees, Kluang 11,626, Segamat 10,609, Johor Baharu 8,373, Batu Pahat 5,324, Pontian 3,866 dan Mersing 545. A spokesman of the Kluang District Information Office, said the flood situation was under control but the skies were still cloudy. He said water levels at the Machap Dam and Sungai Kahang was still above their danger points while Sungai Mengkibol was subsiding to the alert level. In Kota Tinggi and Segamat, the floods had been receding and food supplies at 27 relief centres in Kota Tinggi were sufficient. A number of residents who had been allowed to return home, were seen busy cleaning their premises despite the intermittent light rain. In PAHANG, the number of flood evacuees in four districts was 5,113 as at noon. Kuantan, Rompin and Pekan saw more people being evacuated compared to yesterday. The flood situation in Maran was improving. Only 16 people from Kampung Ulu Luit and Kampung Bak Bak still remained at the relief centres there. In KELANTAN, the flood situation had recovered completely and good weather had been forcast until this evening but coastal residents had been warned of the spring tide phenomenon in some places tonight. A spokesman of the State Flood Operations Room in Kota Darul Naim, said the main rivers which rose close to the danger levels yesterday, had been subsiding. Checks by Bernama at several low-laying areas along Sungai Golok in Rantau Panjang, namely Jeram Pedah, Kampung Siram, Jeram Perdah and Bukit Lata, showed the areas were still under water of up to 0.3 metres high. All the main roads in Gua Musang, Jeli and Pasir Puteh were opened to all vehicles. In TERENGGANU, the flood situation did not change much with the number of evacuees in Kuala Terengganu and Kemaman remaining at 222 as at 12pm. However, a number of them had gone to inspect damages at their houses, said a state police spokesman. He said the main rivers in the state had subsided to the alert levels as at 11am. In Dungun, thousands of motorists were stranded for several hours along two main roads to Kuantan near Paka that were flooded due to spring tide that began at last night. Meanwhile, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi advised the victims in the flood-hit states to be patient and to place their safety above everything else. The Prime Minister, who returned home today after an official visit to Venezuela, immediately headed for Johor to see the flood victims in there. “We want to ensure that everyone gets to return home safely,” he told reporters after visiting the flood victims at the relief centre in Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Ledang in Tangkak. Abdullah also visited the flood victims taking shelter at Sekolah Kebangsaan Serom Lapan before proceeding to flood-hit areas in Melaka and Batu Pahat.

Heavy Rain To Continue In Johor
23 December 2006, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR — The heavy rains occurring over Johor, Negeri Sembilan, Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang are expected to improve but will still persist until Sunday. The Malaysian Meteorological Department, in its weather forecast issued at 11am, said that over eastern Johor, the rains are expected to continue until Wednesday. With the improving weather conditions, the likelihood of Selangor and the Klang Valley experiencing heavy rainfall is slim. In Sarawak, Kuching, Samarahan, Sri Aman, Betong, Sarikei, Sibu and Mukah divisions are expected to experience fairly widespread rains from today until Wednesday, the statement says.

Klang Valley May Be Next Hit By Floods
22 December 2006, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR — Southern Selangor and Klang Valley are likely to be affected by the heavy rainfalls should the conditions persist, the Meteorological Department said Friday. The department has also advised people to prepare and brace for the worst conditions. A forecaster said heavy rainfall and thunderstorm was expected to persist in the Klang Valley until next Tuesday. “The heavy rainfalls and wind condition that are currently affecting states in the east coast and Johor are expected to bring heavy downpour to the Klang Valley and its surrounding areas. “Generally, the weather will be cloudy in the morning while heavy rains are expected in the afternoon and night, but I advised the public to update themselves with the weather forecast,” she said when contacted. The intermittent but occasionally heavy rain occurring over Johor, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang is expected to persist until this Sunday. However, East Johor is likely to experience intermittent rain until next Wednesday. According to the Department’s website, impacts that could be possibly caused by the weather, are flooding over the low lying areas and areas by the river banks. It added that strong wind with sustained wind speed of at least 60 kmph could also cause thatched and zinc roof to be blown off. Meanwhile, the forecaster said the North Easterly Wind was now moving at a 60 to 70 kmph, with the wave height between 4.5 to 5.5 metre. “The sea condition is very rough and dangerous for all marine activities, including small and medium size fishing boats,” she said.

Floods In Johor Spread To Tangkak
22 December 2006, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR — The flood situation in Johor, one of the worst in the state’s history, shows no sign of abating with the towns of Kota Tinggi and Segamat still inaccessible by road, and to make matters worse, Tangkak has become the latest district to be hit. Six people have lost their lives to the floods in the state so far. The Johor Drainage and Irrigation Department said that a spring tide at Sungai Johor estuary this evening would only worsen the flood situation in Kota Tinggi. Mudslides at Km18 Jalan Kluang-Kahang and Km35 Jalan Kota Tinggi-Johor Baharu have only compounded the problem, according to the Flood Operations Rooms in Kota Tinggi and Kluang. In BATU PAHAT, the Sembrong and Bekok dams were reported to be spilling water after the water levels in them exceeded the danger level of 17.5 metres (both). There is little change in the situation in Segamat in northern Johor, one of the worst hit towns. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who has been busy visiting areas affected by floods the last two days, has ordered the Malaysian Defence Forces (ATM) to provide more of its assets and help step up relief efforts. There had been complaints of insufficient boats to ferry victims to relief centres. According to Najib, although this was one of the worst flood crisis the country faced since 1969, Malaysia did not need foreign help in tackling the disaster. The ATM has since increased the number of boats for relief operations from 33 to 80 while helicopters from eight to 11. Besides government agencies, corporate bodies have also begun to contribute to the relief efforts by donating essential items like food, clothing and medicine for the flood victims, estimated to have reached 62,000 people. Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) managing director Datuk Mohd Salleh Abdullah said that rail services to the south could not be resumed for the next few days because of damage to tracks as a result of the floods. In PAHANG, the number of people sheltered at relief centres as of 5 pm is 3,932 compared to 3,763 in the morning. A Kuantan Flood Operations Room spokesman said that Jalan Sungai Lembing-Kuantan at Km29, 30 and 32 had to be closed to all traffic as the stretches were under up to two metres of water. In Rompin, the number of evacuees has increased to 1,524 people this afternoon compared to 1,469 in the morning but in Maran, it has dropped from 202 people in the morning to 58 now. The lucky ones got to return to their homes after the floods in their villages subsided. In TERENGGANU, 492 flood victims from Kuala Terengganu, Kemaman and Setiu had to be evacuated after their houses became inundated or were hit by powerful tidal waves that have been prevalent the last two days. A State Flood Operations Room spokesman said that as of 3 pm, all the major roads in the state still could be used by all types of vehicle. However, the water levels at Sungai Dungun and Sungai Setiu are reported to be continuing to rise. In KELANTAN, the water levels at Sungai Golok and Sungai Kelantan were reported to be approaching their danger marks. A Kelantan Flood Operations Room spokesman said that as of 4 pm, a total of 32 people were still in evacuation centres.

Flood Death Toll In Johor Rises To Six
22 December 2006, By BERNAMA

JOHOR BAHARU — The death toll due to floods in Johor rose to six after a woman’s body was found in her house in Kampung Tembiuh, about one kilometre from Kota Tinggi town, Friday morning. Kota Tinggi deputy OCPD DSP Muhammad Shamsudin said the body of Ow Kee Heng, in her 60’s, was found stuck between furniture at about 10am, and had been taken to the district hospital for a post-mortem. On Thursday, teacher S. Mageswari and a man believed to be her uncle A. Muniandy, were found dead in a car in Sungai Semberong in Paloh, Kluang. In Segamat, painter Mohd Azahari Nordin, 28, died after he was carried away by a river in Kampung Loga, Jementah, while the bodies of Ahmad Sharkawi, 70, and Masiah Ahmad, 69, were found in Kampung Jawa. Meanwhile, the floods in Johor and other states in the Malaysian peninsula have shown no sign of subsiding soon. As at noon, the number of evacuees in Johor rose to 64,742. They took shelter at 210 relief centres. Of the total, 9,712 were in Kota Tinggi, 10,964 in Kluang, 17,095 in Muar, 5,324 in Batu Pahat, 3,540 in Pontian, 8,906 in Segamat and 442 in Mersing. In Kota Tinggi, a Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) Nuri helicopter was used to transfer 18 patients with kidney problems from a private medical centre there to Pontian because all roads were flooded. Four of the patients were in critical condition due to delay in receiving treatment. High tide in Sungai Johor could aggravate the flood situation in the district. In MELAKA, the number of flood evacuees dropped from 7,103 last night to 6,392 this afternoon. However in Jasin, their number rose to 2,592 from 1,933 last night. Sungai Rambai was reported to be rising. In KELANTAN, Sungai Kelantan and Sungai Golok were also rising sharply. A number of flood evacuees in Gua Musang had returned to their homes. In PAHANG, the number of evacuees rose to 3,763. Of them, 2,092 took shelter at 14 relief centres in Kuantan while in Rompin, 1,469 people sought refuge at nine centres. In Maran, 202 people were evacuated to six relief centres.

131 TNB Substations Resume Operations
22 December 2006, By BERNAMA

JOHOR BAHARU — A total of 131 Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) substations which were switched off following massive floods in Johor since last Tuesday, resumed operations as at 11am Friday. Another 330 remained shut, said the company’s general manager of distribution in Johor, Mohammad Mokhtar Mohd Al, today. “Of the total, 119 are in Segamat, 85 in Muar, 52 in Batu Pahat, 48 in Kota Tinggi, 14 in Kluang, six in Johor Baharu, three in Mersing, two in Pontian and one in Kulai,” he told Bernama here. He said the affected substations would resume operations when the flood subsided. He also advised the public to report any damage to the electrical system in their homes to prevent any untoward incident. The report can be made through TNB’s call management centre at 15454.

Situation Improves In Most Areas In Flood-Hit States
22 December 2006, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR — The situation in the flooded states — Johor, Negri Sembilan, Melaka and Kelantan has generally improved with evacuees returning to their homes since yesterday. In Pahang, although more people were being evacuted this morning, the flood situation is expected to improve later in the day. In JOHOR, which is the worst affected, the situation in most areas has improved with the evacuees returning to their homes and 36 relief centres were closed since yesterday. As at 9am today, 64,742 victims are still staying at 210 relief centres in the state. A spokesman from the Johor Welfare Department said 14 relief centres in the city had been closed, leaving only 8,759 people at 20 relief centres. He said four evacuation centres in Kota Tinggi were also closed as well as two in Kluang, 10 in Muar, two in Pontian and four in Segamat. In Kota Tinggi, 9,712 victims are still staying at 17 relief centres, Kluang (10,964), Muar (17,095), Batu Pahat (5,324), Pontian ( 3,540), Segamat (8,906) and Mersing (442). In Kluang, several roads have been opened to traffic as flood waters have receded. They are Jalan Mersing-Kluang, Jalan Palembang Baru-Kluang and Jalan Kluang-Kota Tinggi. However, the water levels at the main rivers in Kluang are still above the danger level. In Segamat town, the flood water has receded and all roads have been opened to traffic. In SEREMBAN, the situation is improving with only Gemas still inundated with flood water, while it is back to normal in Tampin and Gemenceh. Tampin OCPD Zull Aznam Haron said 574 people were at the flood relief centres — Sekolah Tuanku Abdul Rahman Gemas, Sekolah Kebangsaan Kampung Ladang, Sekolah Kebangsaan Kelamak, Sekolah Kebangsaan Londah and the Pasir Besar community hall. He said flood waters in the affected areas were receding, except the water level of Sungai Londah, and all roads were now open to motorists. He advised motorists to be cautious as most of the roads had been damaged and also to adhere to road signs erected by the authorities. In KUANTAN, 2,092 people had been evacuated of the total 3,763 evacuees in Pahang as at 9am today. Others are from Rompin (1,469) and Maran (202). Maran OCPD, Supt Wan Shamsuddin Osman expected the evacuees in the district to return home later today since the flood water was receding. In KOTA BAHARU, most of the people who were evacuated from several areas in Gua Musang have returned home. A spokesman at the Kelantan flood operations room at Kota Darul Naim said residents staying along the banks of Sungai Kelantan in Kota Baharu and Sungai Golok in Rantau Panjang were, however, advised to be prepared for evacuation with the water rising in both the rivers. “Until this morning, 261 people are still at the evacuation centres in Gua Musang from 594 people last night,” he told Bernama here. He said the flood situation in Gua Musang was generally improving with water having subsided in most rivers because there had been no rain since last night. He said the floods did not affect the trunk roads in Gua Musang, except a few village roads. “The water level of Sungai Kelantan at Dabong and Tualang, though receding, is still at the alert mark. “But the water level of Sungai Kelantan at the Royal Jetty (in Kota Baharu) is rising and the reading at 9am was 3.94 metres from 3.84 metres two hours earlier (the alert level is 3m and danger level is 5m),” he added. The measurement at Sungai Golok in Rantau Panjang is 8.09 m (alert is 7m/danger is 9m). In MELAKA, there is not much change in the flood situation although some of the evacuees have returned home. A spokesman at the Central Melaka police flood operations room said 6,392 people were still at 21 relief centres from 7,103 last night. The evacuees are from Batu Berendam, Tanjung Minyak, Tengkera, Tiang Dua, Central Melaka, Kandang, Malim, Bukit Baru and Taman Angkasanuri. Several roads in the state remain closed, especially in Batu Berendam and Malim as they are under 1m to 1.5m of flood water. In Jasin, water in the area at Sungai Rambai is reported rising with 2,592 people having been evacuated from 1,933 people last night. In Alor Gajah, the flood waters in most of the affected areas have receded with 599 people out of 910 evacuated last night, having returned home.

TNB Switches Off Sub-stations Due To Floods
21 December 2006, By BERNAMA

JOHOR BAHARU — A total of 270 Tenaga Nasional Bhd (TNB) sub-stations have been switched off throughout the state because of the floods as at 4pm Thursday. Johor TNB General Manager (Distribution) Mohammad Mokhtar Mohd Ali said Segamat District was the worst-affected area with 167 sub-stations rendered ineffective to prevent any danger to human lives. “As we all know, water and electricity are not good friends. So we have to ensure that the electricty supply is cut off to prevent any untoward incidents,” he said. Kota Tinggi is the next worst-affected area and the situation is worsening because of the rising water, added Mohammad Mokhtar. In fact, the entire Kota Tinggi town is under 1.2 metres of water and all roads leading to and out of the town have been cut off. “This morning, our operations room here reported that electricity supply to the goverment offices in the town has been switched off and many commercial entreprises in the heart of the town are also affected,” he added. But the good news is that the situation in the capital is getting better. “The situation is stabilised now in Johor Baharu but there is still come cleaning work to be done before we can resume supply,” he said.

Flood Death Toll In Johor Rises To Five
21 December 2006, By BERNAMA

JOHOR BAHARU — The flood toll in Johor has risen to five. Two more men and a woman have been confirmed to have died in the floods, the worst in a century in the state. Segamat acting police chief Ahmad Sukarno, when contacted by Bernama, said all three were found dead in Kampung Jawa, Segamat. They were identified as Mohd Azahari (no last name available), 27, whose body was found in the village at 10am Thursday and senior citizens Ahmad Sharkawi, 70, who was said to be paralysed, and Masiah Ahmad, 69. Ahmad’s and Masiah’s bodies were found in front of their homes in the village this morning (they are not related). Meanwhile, Kluang OCPD Mohd Fauzi Arshad confirmed the identity of the man found drowned together with a woman teacher, M. Mageswari, in Sungai Sembrong in Paloh near the town as A. Muniandy. He is believed to be her uncle. The duo, who were travelling in a car in the area, were swept away by floodwaters at 6am Wednesday. Johor is also facing disruption of electricity and water supply as Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) has shut down 270 substations and power to 15 water treatment plants in the state. The number of flood victims evacuated in Johor this afternoon had risen to 50,583 people with most of them from Segamat, Kota Tinggi and Johor Baharu districts. The floods in Johor are said to be the worst since a century ago. The town of Kota Tinggi has turned into an island with its surrounding areas submerged under 1.5 metres of water when the Sungai Johor overflowed its banks. All roads leading to Kota Tinggi are closed to all traffic and most of the shops there have also shut while some of the residents had left their homes. A Johor Flood Operations Room spokesman said that the situation in Segamat, which was cut off from its surrounding areas yesterday, was returning to normal as the water level at Sungai Segamat has receeded. People were seen purchasing essential items at the many shops that reopened in the town today. In MELAKA, the situation in Melaka Tengah district had worsened with 7,022 people now placed in shelters compared to 3,937 people in the morning. In PAHANG, 1,845 people from Kuantan, Rompin and Maran districts are taking taking refuge at evacuation centres. In KELANTAN, Gua Musang became the first district in the state to experience floods with 495 people having to seek shelter at 4 pm today. In TERENGGANU, 260 people from four villages in the Kemaman district had to be evacuated from their houses.

Flood Situation In Several States Worsens
21 December 2006, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR — The flood situation in several states including Johor and Melaka has worsened with more people taking temporary shelter on higher grounds while in Kelantan, the main rivers are reported to have exceeded the alert level. In JOHOR, 44,577 people from 8,977 families in 183 areas had been evacuated to 274 relief centres as at 6am today. A Social Welfare Department spokesman said Muar saw 9,634 people evacuated while Kluang 9,539, Johor Baharu 8,340, Segamat 5,245, Batu Pahat 4,708, Kota Tinggi 4,114, Pontian 2,762 and Mersing 235. In MELAKA, 3,937 people from Batu Berendam, Tanjung Minyak, Tengkera, Tiang Dua, Melaka Tengah, Kandang, Malim, Bukit Baru and Taman Angkasanuri had fled their homes as at 8am as the flood situation in the Melaka Tengah district worsened. A police spokesman said they were evacuated to 20 relief centres. In Jasin, the flood situation in most areas remained unchanged but water level in Sungai Rambai was rising. However, several families from Asahan, Bemban and Rim had been allowed to return home, said a spokesman from the Jasin flood operations centre. He said 970 people were still at the evacuation centres in the district. In Alor Gajah, the number of people at the evacuation centres decreased to 735 this morning from 854 last night. The Beringin-Kerubong road was closed to all vehicles as a bridge near Kampung Beringin had collapsed. In KELANTAN, people living along the banks of Sungai Golok and Sungai Kelantan had been told to prepare for the possibility of floods as the rivers had exceeded the alert level. The Drainage and Irrigation Department and Fire and Rescue Department opened their flood operations centres Wednesday night. The rain that began several days ago in Gua Musang and Jeli was still falling. Sungai Semerak had also exceeded the alert level. In PAHANG, the number of flood evacuees rose to 1,077 this morning. They were from two districts, namely Rompin (926 people) and Kuantan (151). A spokesman from the Rompin flood operations centre said 171 people took shelter at a relief centre in Kampung Rekoh, 95 at Sekolah Kebangsaan Pianggu, 48 at Sekolah Kebangsaan Keratong Satu, 407 at Sekolah Kebangsaan Keratong Dua, 34 at the Bukit Serok civic hall and 171 at a relief centre in Kampung Kurnia. A Kuantan police spokesman said the number of evacuees in the district rose to 151 as at 9am from only 17 yesterday. They were placed at seven relief centres, namely Sekolah Kebangsaan Cenderawasih (seven people), Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Sungai Isap (18), Panching multi-purpose hall (17), Sekolah Kebangsaan Sungai Karang (39), Pahang Resource Centre (22), Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Gudang Rasau (35) and Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Pandan (13). The spokesman said three stretches of the Kuantan-Sungai Lembing road were closed to all vehicles after they were flooded as high as two metres. In NEGRI SEMBILAN, the flood in Gemas had receeded. However, the Gemas-Gemencheh road was still closed to all traffic. Motorists from Tampin heading to Gemas were advised to use the Jelai road. Civil Defence Department spokesman Lt Mohd Khairi Ghazali said all villages around Sungai Kelamah were still cut off while the number of evacuees remained at 455.

Rainy Spell Forecast To Ease From Sunday
20 December 2006, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR — The current rainy spell experienced in northern Johor, the south and east Pahang, south Terengganu, Melaka and Negri Sembilan is forecast to ease from Sunday. For Johor, the situation should be back to normal from Friday, according the the Malaysian Meteorological Department. The states have been experiencing one of the heaviest rainfall in a hundred years since Dec 15, with the daily average rainfall reaching 623mm in Johor, 456.4mm in Kluang, Batu Pahat (279mm) and Mersing (182.8mm) In Pahang, Bandar Muadzam Shah recorded the highest average rainfall in the last five days at 327.6mm, while in Kuantan it was 320.6mm, Temerloh (141mm) and Batu Embun (112.6mm). The daily average rainfall for Melaka during the same period worked out to 264.2mm. Many places in Johor, Negeri Sembilan and Melaka have been hit by large-scale flooding as a result of the unusually high rainfall.

Floods: 8,015 Evacuated In Johor, Melaka And Negri Sembilan
20 December 2006, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR — More than 8,000 flood victims in Johor, Melaka and Negri Sembilan have been evacuated as the situation worsened. National Crisis Management and Disaster Bureau director Che Moin Umar said Johor recorded the highest number of evacuees at 7,304 who had been placed in 457 relief centres, followed by Melaka (650) and Negri Sembilan (61). Eight districts in Johor – Johor Baharu, Kluang, Kota Tinggi, Segamat, Muar, Batu Pahat, Pontian and Mersing – all recorded water levels above the danger mark, he said when contacted by Bernama today. He also said that all main roads in Segamat, one of the worst hit districts, were closed to traffic. Che Moin said in Melaka, the affected districts were Alor Gajah, Jasin and Central Melaka where a total of six relief centres had been opened. The water levels at the flood assessment points in Melaka were also reported to be rising and more people were expected to be evacuated, he added. Several roads in Melaka remain closed because of the floods. Among them are Jalan Chincin-Chohong and Jalan Janda Berhias-Sungai Rambai. The stretch at Km171 of the North-South Expressway near Merlimau and Jalan Alor Gajah-Durian Tunggal are closed to light vehicles. In NEGRI SEMBILAN, floods hit Gemas, Tampin and Rembau following heavy rain over the past two days. Six relief centres have been opened in the state to accommodate the flood victims. The areas most affected are Kampung Tengah Geduk at Gemenceh, Kampung Keru Hilir in Tampin, and Kampung Tiong, Kampung Ladang and Sungai Kelamah, all in Gemas. They are all under one to 1.5 metres of water. Meanwhile, Tampin OCPD Supt Zull Aznam Harun said that Jalan Gemencheh-Batang Melaka, which was under more than one metre of water, had been closed to all traffic. Evacuation operations are underway in the town with the help of various government departments and agencies, including the police and army, Fire and Rescue Department, Civil Defence Department and Welfare Department. In JOHOR BAHARU, a Flood Operations Room spokesman said several districts in the state remained flooded and 7,000 more people were evacuated in addition to the 10,000 already moved to the relief centres yesterday. Two main roads in Kluang are closed to all vehicles. They are at the 13th, 16th and 18th milestones Jalan Kluang-Mersing as well as the bridge at Sungai Paloh, Kluang, which had collapsed. In Segamat, the whole town is flooded. The road leading to the north has been closed because the bridge at Sungai Segamat is submerged while the Sungai Karas has burst its banks onto Jalan Segamat-Labis. A spokesman from the Johor Welfare Department’s Flood Operations Room, said Kluang recorded the highest number of evacuees, totalling 6,273 people from 24 villages. Others include from Muar (4,989), Johor Baharu (2,812), Batu Pahat (903), Pontian (456), Kota Tinggi (271) and Mersing (51). A spokesman from the Johor Drainage and Irrigation Department said the water levels at several rivers were still above the danger mark with Sungai Segamat reaching 12.52m in the town area, Bekok Dam in Batu Pahat at 17.14m (danger level is 17.05m), and Sembrong Dam in Kluang at 6.66m (danger level is 6.55m). In Johor Baharu, the water level of Sungai Skudai at Kampung Separa is 19.32m (danger level is 18.52m) and at Kampung Laut is 6.4m (danger level is 6m). The floods in Johor have also cut off links for about 500 Orang Asli in Kampung Peta and Kampung Punan near the Endau-Rompin National Park in Mersing since yesterday. Mersing OCPD DSP Harun Idris said efforts were being made to send food supplies, fuel and other assistance to the Orang Asli community there and also to the villagers in Kampung Labong in Endau and Kampung Tanah Abang nearby. He said until noon today, 85 people from the Orang Asli villages had been evacuated and they were given temporary shelter at the National Park chalets and also at Sekolah Kebangsaan Kampung Peta. Evacuation of the Orang Asli was carried out by members of the Special Operations Regiment (RGK) based at the Iskandar Camp, Mersing. Meanwhile, the floods have also forced Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) to cancel several of its train services. According to a statement issued by KTMB today, the affected services are the Ekspres Rakyat Singapore-Kuala Lumpur, Ekspres Sinaran Pagi Kuala Lumpur-Singapore and three of its mail train services – Singapore-Gua Musang, Gua Musang-Singapore and Singapore-Gemas.

Parts Of Jasin And Alor Gajah Hit By Floods
19 December 2006, By BERNAMA

MELAKA — Several areas in Jasin and Alor Gajah were flooded Tuesday due to heavy rains since Monday. A Jasin district police headquarters operations room spokesman said Chabau, Asahan and Kampung Tehel were under one to two metres of water. As of 8pm, four families in Asahan have been evacuated to Sekolah Kebangsaan Asahan, three families from Chabau to Sekolah Menengah Simpang Bekoh, and three families in Kampung Tehel were being moved from the flooded area, he told Bernama. The operation to evacuate several other families in Chabau and Asahan were underway. He also said that Jalan Asahan-Simpang Bekoh was closed to light vehicles. Meanwhile, a Alor Gajah district police headquarters operations room spokesman said the affected areas in the district were Durian Tunggal town, Kampung Bukit Tambun and Kampung Pulau.

Flood Hits Johor, Disrupts Train Services
19 December 2006, By BERNAMA

JOHOR BAHARU — Thousands of people have been evacuated after floods hit several districts in Johor following incessant heavy rain that began Monday morning. The rain also triggered minor landslides and disrupted train services in the southern sector. A police spokesman said over 2,000 residents in Batu Pahat, Pontian, Johor Baharu and Kota Tinggi had been told to leave their homes in stages from midnight. In Batu Pahat, five families from Kampung Parit Haji Kamisan in Yong Peng, sought shelter at the village civic hall and Yong Peng community hall while four families from Kampung Parit Daun in Parit Raja fled to the Penghulu Mukim 8 complex. Also evacuated were three families from Kampung Parit Jambul to Sekolah Kebangsaan Pintas Puding and 19 families from Kampung Seri Paya to the village’s civic hall. In Pekan Nenas, Pontian, 20 families from Kampung Paya Embun were told to seek higher grounds while seven families from Kampung Melayu Raya took shelter at a school there. In Kota Tinggi, nine families from Kampung Sungai Berangan and 11 families from Kampung Paya Sungai Redan were evacuated to the villages’ civic halls. Floods also hit Kampung Bentong Dalam, Kampung Melayu and Yap Tau Sah in Kluang. In Johor Baharu, a District Office spokesman said several relief centres were opened Tuesday morning. There were 22 evacuees from Kampung Melayu Sengkang, Kulai; 722 from Kampung Laut Batu 10, Skudai; 170 from Lorong Arif, Taman Tun Aminah; 113 from Kampung Sungai Besui; 243 from Kampung Maju Jaya Sedenak; 200 from Kampung Oren, Tiram; 102 from Kampung Mohd Amin; 150 from Kampung Kangkar Tebrau; and 200 from Kampung Pasir Tebrau. Other areas affected were Kampung Paya Kenangan Tebrau (150 evacuees), Kampung Plentong Baru (200), Kampung Sentosa/Sentosa Barat (100), Kampung Rinting Masai (200) and Batu 10 Sungai Tiram (30). Eleven families from Kampung Paya Nam Heng, Tiram, and 15 families from Kampung Mados 19 were also evacuated. The rain also caused the closure of Jalan Kolam Air in this city for fear of a landslide. Civil Defence Department personnel there had been told to be on alert should a landslide occur. Massive traffic jams were reported on major roads from Skudai to the city centre as well as in the city. KTM Berhad said in a statement: “Due to the heavy rain, minor landslides occurred at several spots at Km630.50-Km630.75 of the Labis-Bekok route, Km754.50-Km754.75 of the Johor Baharu-Kempas route and Km769.50-Km769.75 of the Bukit Timah-CIQ Woodlands route in Singapore earlier today. “All southbound trains are unable to proceed because of this situation. Passengers will be transhipped using buses between stations that are not affected by floods or landslides in order to continue their journey.” It said the transhipment exercise was expected to be time-consuming as the roads in and around Johor Baharu were flooded. The affected services were the Ekspres Timuran Tumpat-Singapore, Ekspres Rakyat Singapore-Kuala Lumpur, Ekspres Sinaran Pagi Kuala Lumpur-Singapore, Ekspres Sinaran Petang Singapore-Kuala Lumpur and Mail Train N0. 61 Gemas-Singapore. For updates and further information on southbound travel, the public can contact the KTM Call Centre from 7am to 10pm at 03-2267-1200 or the nearest KTM Intercity station.

More Rain Expected In Several States Until Friday
19 December 2006, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR — The intermittent rain, occasionally heavy, now occurring over Pahang, Johor, Negri Sembilan and Melaka is expected to persist until Friday. A Meteorological Department spokesman said the monsoon rain was now in the red stage and would be accompanied by strong winds which could cause floods in low-lying and riverine areas. “It can also cause strong currents in the rivers and large drains and blow off roofs,” he told Bernama Tuesday. This condition was expected to spread over to Kelantan and Terengganu from Thursday until Friday, he added. Meanwhile, the intermittent rain, sometime heavy, occurring over Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, and Sandakan and Kudat in Sabah is expected to persist until this evening. The condition is expected to spread over the west coast of Sabah.

MyKad’ for cars – Smart move to beat car thieves
9 December 2006, By New Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR: A MyKad for cars is set to take off early next year. A high-tech anti-theft device, it will involve microchips set into tamper-proof car registration plates sealed into the body of vehicles. The microchips will bear details of the driver, vehicle and model. This will make it easy for Road Transport Department officers to identify stolen vehicles at roadblocks, using hand-held scanners. The e-plate, as it will be called, is the RTD’s latest strategy to make it difficult for car thieves to escape by merely changing the registration plates. Nearly 30 cars are stolen daily around the country, most of them luxury vehicles. RTD director-general Ahmad Mustapha said the system will be implemented in stages — first with new cars, followed by cars already on the road. “Our main aim in introducing this system is to reduce car thefts nationwide. This is being done as the first thing thieves do after a car theft is change the registration plates.” He said the Transport Ministry had given the go-ahead for the implementation of the system. Ahmad said countries like Japan had reduced car theft drastically by using the e-plate system. “The microchip acts as a MyKad. During operations, our officers will have special hand-held scanners to scan the plates.” Ahmad said some people also escaped speeding summonses by switching or duplicating the number plates. “The summonses then go to an innocent party who no longer drives the car bearing the registration plate, or whose plate has been duplicated,” he added. Only authorised mechanics will be allowed to fit the registration plate onto cars. The seal on the microchip will be broken if anyone tries to tamper with the plate. And unlike the present system, the font and size of letters and numbers will be standardised on the e-plate. “At present, there are different fonts. Some are big and others small. The space and sizing are also different,” he added. On the material used to make the registration plate, he said it would be aluminium-based, with an amalgam of other substances to make it difficult to break.

Road Safety Council Wants Driving Institutes Curriculum Reviewed
5 December 2006, By BERNAMA

LANGKAWI — The National Road Safety Council (MKJR) is seeking a review of the curriculum for driving institutes to produce more responsible road users. This was among the resolutions passed at a two-day seminar on road safety held in conjunction with MKJR’s 47th annual general meeting here which ended Tuesday. Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Douglas Uggah Embas, who chaired the seminar and meeting, said the current curriculum only emphasised on the learning duration and not on safety of road users. The other resolutions, he said, touched on the need for better enforcement road safety facilities and improvements to public transportation services. He said that the council also passed a resolution on having special lanes for motorcyclists on all roads and to work on realising the objective of reducing the death rate to two cases for every 10,000 registered vehicles by 2010 from 4.2 cases last year. He said that the resolutions would be submitted to the government for consideration. Meanwhile, Road Safety Department Director General Datuk Suret Singh said that a million crash helmets would be distributed free to motorcycle riders and cyclists in rural areas within the next five years to reduce road fatalities. He said that the reason was that only 33 per cent of motorcycle riders in the rural areas wore crash helmets while in the urban areas, it was 76 percent. Speaking to reporters at a campaign to instil awareness on wearing crash helmets among rural residents at the Jetty Point Complex in Kuah here, he said that a survey carried out by Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM)’s Road Safety Research Centre found that about 60 percent of deaths in road accidents involved motorcyclists and their pillion riders. Citing last year’s figures, he said 3,584 or about 58 percent of the 6,188 people who died in road accidents were motorcycle riders.

Road Safety Education In 1,000 Primary Schools Next Year
5 December 2006, By BERNAMA

LANGKAWI — Road safety education will be introduced at 1,000 primary schools next year as part of the government’s efforts to reduce fatalities in road accidents. Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said the education on road safety would be integrated into the Bahasa Malaysia subject from April. “The Transport Ministry, through the Road Safety Department, is working together with the Education Ministry to implement the effort,” he said in a speech read out by deputy, Datuk Douglas Uggah Embas, at the opening of the 47th Road Safety Council general meeting here Tuesday. Chan also said the government had approved the setting up of the Road Safety Research Institute and allocated RM50 million for its establishment. The institute would also receive an annual grant of RM20 million, he said. He said the institute that was expected to begin its operations early next year, would carry out research on road safety programmes, among others. Besides, the Transport Ministry would also introduce the E-Enforcement system for use by both the police and Road Transport Department to enhance traffic enforcement, he said. Chan said the system that was scheduled to be implemented in July next year, would raise the probability of traffic offenders being caught from between 16 and 25 per cent to 95 per cent. He also said that the Road Safety Department had conducted 16 programmes this year with the cooperation of the Road Safety Council, other government agencies and the private sector.

Bayaran insurans lebih mahal pemandu kerap laku kesalahan
30 November 2006, By Berita Harian

KUALA LUMPUR: Jabatan Pengangkutan Jalan (JPJ) akan melaksanakan sistem kenaikan kadar insurans atau dikenali `loading’ kepada pemandu atau pemilik kenderaan yang kerap melakukan kesalahan lalu lintas. Menteri Pengangkutan, Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy, berkata sistem itu yang dikenakan ketika proses mengambil insurans bagi memperbaharui lesen kenderaan motor (LKM), kini sedang dikaji. “Dengan adanya ‘loading’, pemandu atau pemilik yang melakukan kesalahan lalu lintas akan lebih berhati-hati ketika berada di jalan raya bagi mengelak kenaikan kadar insurans,” katanya. Beliau menjawab soalan Datuk Mat Yasir Ikhsan (BN-Sabak Bernam), yang mahu tahu apakah tindakan lebih keras diambil Kementerian Pengangkutan terhadap pemandu kenderaan yang dikenal pasti berulang kali melakukan kesalahan lalu lintas. Ketika ditemui di lobi Parlimen, Chan berkata, sistem berkenaan adalah fleksibel kerana mereka yang tidak melakukan kesalahan akan menikmati kemudahan bayaran premium insurans yang rendah. “Kita cadangkan bagi pengguna jalan raya khususnya pemandu dan menunggang motosikal atau kereta yang tertib, berdisiplin dan tidak melakukan sebarang kesalahan dalam satu tempoh tertentu, maka syarikat insurans perlu menimbang memberikan premium rendah. “Sementara itu, mereka mereka yang selalu melakukan kesalahan dikenakan membayar premium tinggi. Ini kita masih dalam perbincangan dengan Persatuan Insurans Am Malaysia (Piam) dan Bank Negara Malaysia,” katanya. Chan berkata, perkara itu mesti mendapat kebenaran Bank Negara dan Kementerian Kewangan jika mahu dilaksanakan. Menjawab soalan Mat Yasir, Chan berkata, sebanyak 24,581 Lesen Memandu Kompeten (CDL) digantung JPJ antara tahun 1997 hingga Jun tahun ini mengikut sistem Kejara. “Dalam tempoh sama sebanyak 6,738 Lesen Memandu Percubaan (P) dibatalkan mengikut sistem sama,” katanya.

Govt Reviewing Second-Hand Dealers Act To Plug Loopholes
30 November 2006, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR – The Internal Security Ministry is reviewing the Second-Hand Dealers Act 1946 to plug loopholes to suit current needs, the Dewan Rakyat was told Thursday. Deputy Internal Security Minister Datuk Fu Ah Kiow said a special committee had been set up to ensure that the proposed amendments could check the illegal sale and purchase of second-hand goods. The ministry would cooperate with the Housing and Local Government Ministry, International Trade and Industry Ministry and Energy, Water and Communications Ministry to provide inputs for the amendments, he said when replying to Eric Enchin Majimbun (BN-Sepanggar) during question time. Fu said the Internal Security Ministry would update the Act in various aspects including the mechanism to issue and revoke licences, impose penalties and monitoring. He said the police had taken several measures including conducting periodic spot checks on second-hand goods shops to ensure the traders were not involved in buying stolen property. “The police are constantly keeping tabs on individuals who frequent second-hand goods shops or are suspected to be involved in thefts. “The police also conduct night patrols to ensure there are no transactions taking place after the permitted business hours,” he said. Fu said second-hand goods dealers were also required to record details of their sales and purchase dealings including the names, addresses and identity card numbers of the buyers or the type of goods sold and bought. After the amendments have been gazetted, traders found not to have recorded their transactions, are liable to be fined RM2,000 for the first offence or jailed for not more than six months or both, if convicted. For the second offence, they can be fined RM2,000 or jailed for not more than two years or both, upon conviction. Fu did not deny that the majority of power cable and metal thieves were drug addicts. He, however, did not have the figures.

Takaful Malaysia shareholders get a shock
30 November 2006, By New Straits Times

SHAREHOLDERS of Syarikat Takaful Malaysia Bhd were shocked yesterday when it was disclosed that there were RM200 million “unreconciled differences” in its financial statement ended June 30 2006. The company held its 21st annual general meeting (AGM) in Kuala Lumpur which included the purposes of adopting its financial statements for the year ended June 30 2006 initially audited in September this year. However, the company’s auditors, KPMG Desa Megat & Co issued a modified report just before the AGM took place. The Minority Shareholder Watchdog Group chief executive officer Abdul Wahab Jaafar Sidek, who sat in the meeting yesterday, said this is the first time in Malaysia’s corporate history that an auditor modified their report at the last minute He said the RM200 million figure was disclosed by a board member after much query during the AGM. Concerns were raised if the auditors report would mean a financial impact on the company as no explanation were given. “This doesn’t mean the accounts are wrong. In total, the figures could be right. What matters is actually identifying to whom and for what these figures are for,” Abdul Wahab said. In the auditors report, KPMG said, “There are numerous unreconciled differences in the accounting records which have yet to be resolved as at the date of this report. The management is currently taking steps to resolve these differences.” Although Takaful Malaysia gave the assurance that the RM200 million will not affect its profit, Abdul Wahab said this can only be assumed after the differences have been reconciled totally. Abdul Wahab also raised the issue if the company could have done more during the auditing period to prevent the discrepancy. Meanwhile, Takaful Malaysia chairman Tan Sri Hadenan A. Jalil assured that the unreconciled differences were on the company’s credit side. “The issue is not the unreconciled differences per se but identifying the items. If we can identify the difference it could a bigger plus instead of a minus,” he said. “The figure is a moving target and keeps on changing but we are out to correct it and the figure is becoming smaller,” he said. The shareholders have been guarantee that it will not impact the performance of the company overall in terms of profit level, he said. He said the change in the company’s accounting system from a cash to accrual accounting is also to be blamed for the differences.

Raid uncovers stolen vehicles ‘makeover’ scam
30 November 2006, By New Straits Times

BUTTERWORTH: Police raided a 3,000-square-metre fenced compound in Sungai Lokan yesterday where stolen heavy vehicles were being modified prior to being sold, arresting several people in the process. At least 11 vehicles, stolen from as far as Johor, were recovered from the compound in the operation following a week of surveillance by local police and their Johor counterparts. Sources told the New Straits Times that members of the syndicate involved in the hijacking and theft of the vehicles would tamper with the chassis and engine numbers and repaint the vehicles before selling them to ready buyers. To give the “makeover” vehicles the finishing touches, the interior of the vehicles, such as the seats and accessories, would also be changed. The source said at least eight lorries and three buses were recovered in the operation. However, it could not be immediately ascertained how many people were arrested or if the mastermind behind the syndicate was among them. “Most of the vehicles were reported to be either stolen or hijacked in Johor, Perak and Seberang Perai Selatan,” said the source. The vehicles have been towed away for further inspection. Investigators expect to trace the owners within a few days. Police are expected to liaise with other enforcement agencies to trace a significant number of stolen vehicles which were sold by the syndicate. Meanwhile, villagers living near the workshop claimed that the premises had been in operation for at least five years. A villager said it was normal to see buses and lorries coming in and out of the workshop but no one suspected anything. “We do not know their actual business as the workshop seemed like any other normal business, except for its store area which is quite big.”

‘No forced insurance mergers’
26 November 2006, By The Star

PORT DICKSON: There is no need for a government policy to force consolidation between insurance companies, said Second Finance Minister Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop. He said the same rationale applied to any further mergers between banks, emphasising that the Government would leave it to market conditions. “If they have to consolidate, we will not force it,” he said on Saturday night during a dialogue session with participants of the Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) World Investment Challenge (WIC) 2006. “I do not think there is any need for a government policy to force consolidation for both banking or insurance sectors.” He was answering a question from a participant on why there was a lag in consolidating insurance firms compared to the mergers between banks in the late 1990s. Nor Mohamed explained that this was because there were 44 financial institutions in the country at the time, which created great competition, and that there was a need to strengthen the banking system. He added that this was not the case with insurance companies in the country. Earlier during his keynote address “Financial Sector and Corporate Malaysia: Addressing the Global Competitive Challenges”, Nor Mohamed said the Government’s economic policies had always been disciplined and pragmatic. Yesterday, PNB president and chief executive officer Tan Sri Hamad Kama Piah Che Othman said after opening the WIC 2006 that PNB had given out dividends totalling about RM50bil since it first started. He added that the WIC was a way for PNB to bring awareness to a wider audience about the institution, adding that it would be a chance to make PNB a “household name” among fund managers.

Cable theft rate alarming
27 November 2006, By The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Cable theft has reached an alarming level with Telekom Malaysia losing RM37mil in the first nine months of this year, compared to RM17mil in the whole of last year. This, according to a TM internal report, is affecting normal maintenance. As a result, the company fears that the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), the authority monitoring TM’s fault rate, may ask for an explanation. TM has formed the Cable Theft Initiative Team (CTIT) to counter the problem which is affecting services in many parts of the country. According to CTIT’s initial report, a copy of which was made available to The Star, there were 9,031 cases of cable theft so far this year – already more than double last year’s 3,825 cases. TM Malaysia Business chief executive officer Zam Zam Zairani Mohd Isa said it had brought the matter up to the authorities. “We have increased security by putting more guards to patrol our facilities which are prone to cable theft. “The problem does not only affect TM but also the other utility companies. “We plead to the public to tip us off on any suspicious persons in our premises.” He added that TM has installed alarm systems linked to the nearest police stations. The CTIT report said that about 1.1 million metres of cable had been stolen so far this year compared to 657,945 metres last year. “This has resulted in TM workers losing focus on normal maintenance activities,” it said. It said suspects were caught in 348 cases with 104 of them being taken to court. The sentences ranged from three to 18 months’ jail while the lack of evidence in others had impeded action. It has recommended that TM meet the Attorney-General to propose heavier sentences but did not specify any details. CTIT has also recommended rerouting overhead cables underground, forming flying squads, offering rewards for tip-offs on cable thieves and roping in Rela and JKKK members to counter this problem. “A total of RM40mil will be set aside for rerouting cables underground (undergrounding) at certain areas. Meetings with Bukit Aman, Rela and JKK authorities and MCMC will also be held soon to help us with this problem,” CTIT said. According to the report, Kedah and Perlis topped losses with RM6.8mil, followed by Johor (RM6.5mil), Selangor (RM4.5mil) and Perak (RM2.9mil) this year.

Courts Should Not Be Blamed To Delays In Fatal Accident Cases – CJ
21 November 2006, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR – The courts should not be solely blamed for the delay in hearing fatal accident cases, Chief Justice Tun Ahmad Fairuz Sheikh Abdul Halim said Tuesday. He said the delays were not by the courts alone but also from the prosecution, lawyers and the accused. “There has been a lot of comments lately about the delays by the courts, especially to hear fatal accidents and criminal cases. “I’m not trying to play football… try to pass the blame to the other people. As you know, our justice system is an adversarial system. So, I think it is not fair to say the courts are the cause of the delay. When there is a delay, the courts are always blamed. You must remember upper most in the courts’ task is justice,” he told reporters after a Hari Raya gathering hosted by the Kuala Lumpur High Court. He said there were 31 fatal accident cases pending at the Kuala Lumpur courts. The cases were postponed 80 times due to requests by defence lawyers and the accused, 63 times by the prosecution and only 37 times by the courts. “I’m not trying to throw the blame. It is not fair to say the courts are the cause for the delay because the court does not stand alone,” he said. “On the hearing day, if the accused wants to engage another counsel, how are we going to proceed with the case? “If we proceed, there’ll be allegations of injustice. So, we’ve to postpone. The postponement is not sought by the court but the accused himself. “Sometimes, when the case comes up for hearing, the counsel will say he has another case in another court and it is a remand case involving a death sentence. “Compared to a fatal accident case, surely the court has to five priority to a case that carries a death penalty,” he said. Ahmad Fairuz said the delays were not necessarily caused by the courts, it could also be from the prosecution. “I’ve been told by judges and judicial officers that sometimes the prosecution is not ready to proceed with the case because the witnesses are not available. “How can we proceed. It is injustice to proceed without witnesses. We can’t cut out witnesses from giving evidence. There will be material evidence, we’ve to look at from the justice viewpoint. “We’re not going for mock justice. It is justice according to the principle of law,” he said. Ahmad Fairuz said the judges were doing their best and were working very hard to attend to the cases, especially the High Court judges, who sit from 9am to 5pm, and also bring home their work to write the decisions. “If you observe pre-2000 cases, disposal of pre-2000 cases, we only have about 15 per cent left. I think we should be able to do 100 per cent, perhaps by end of this year…if not 100 per cent, maybe only five per cent will be left,” he said. Ahmad Fairuz said of the 521 Anti-Corruption Agency cases pending at the Kuala Lumpur Sessions Court, 24 per cent of them were postponed on the prosecution’s request. “We’ve been very transparent, that’s why I’m telling you the figures,” he added.

Sharp rise in crime index
23 October 2006, By The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: The national crime index has shot up by 12.6% over the first nine months this year, with 170,481 crimes reported. Of these, property crimes accounted for 113,939 cases, a 13.9% increase from last year. There was an 18% increase in the number of violent crimes committed. There was also an increase in rape cases, which totalled 1,833 compared to 1,384 over the same period last year. The total number of crimes reported from Jan to Sept last year was 151,444. While armed robberies decreased to 190 cases from 246, robberies without the use of firearms increased 42% from 9,548 cases to 13,537 cases. Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Dr Maximus Ongkili, who released the figures yesterday, urged the people to help create an “anti-crime culture.” “All must play a role to help prevent and say “No” to crime,” he said. Of property crimes, motorcycle theft was tops with a 26% increase. There was a 14% rise in car thefts, and 18% increase in lorry and van thefts. Burglaries rose by 19%. Gang robbery with use of firearms totalled 54 cases, compared to 27 last year. Murder cases increased from 375 to 473 cases.

Editorial: A dreadful start
23 October 2006, By New Straits Times

AT the close of Ops Sikap X in February, the police spokesman shook his head in dejection as he announced the Grim Reaper’s catch of 226 souls for the two-week operation. He said the police had done all they could to hold down the accident and fatality rate, which for each festive season has put the body count on Malaysia’s roads on par with Iraq’s bullet-riddled Anbar province. This DeepaRaya’s Ops Sikap XI is spoiling to be no different, with early figures barrelling towards the last Aidilfitri’s record of 233 deaths. Not that the authorities are throwing in the towel. Far from it: The 11th time that enforcement has been mobilised for the balik kampung exodus has seen a slew of measures, including an unprecedented reduction in speed limits on federal and state roads. Some 5,000 police personnel are to be on guard across the Oct 17-31 period. The Public Works Department has stationed patrolling “safety squads” in all districts. Against motorcyclists, who make up an inordinate share of the casualty statistics, the Road Transport Department has unleashed some 1,200 officers. Along with the accident and emergency services, an army of uniformed and non-uniformed Muslims and Hindus have been left without leave. As unfair as it may be to lump the entire burden of the Ops Sikap’s dismal results on enforcement, there can be no doubt after five years of trying as to where the blame lies: On drivers and riders, whose numbers and disregard for safety are concentrated during the holiday rush. The Prime Minister, sorely aggrieved by the carnage year in and year out, has scolded the judicial process for not dealing efficiently with reckless endangerment. Safety campaigns, in place for decades and conducted at significant cost to government coffers, have not worked. As with every other instance of persistent law-breaking in the country, the solution must begin and end with a full and exhaustive application of the law. But because road users consider themselves innocent in spite of the evidence, the police often finds itself in two minds. Namby-pamby excuses are legion, even from those who ought to know better, such as the commentators critical of the government’s decision to take a hard line on the Mat Rempit. The authorities may not be able to crack down for every day of the year. But if they fail to do so for just two weeks in the high season of traffic disobedience, the Ops Sikap will remain an exercise in futility.

Malaysia Car Sales Down 9.1 Pct In September
17 October 2006, By BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR — The number of motor vehicles sold in September 2006 was 9.1 percent lower or 4,305 units less than in the previous month amid a backdrop of competitive market conditions, the Malaysian Automotive Association (MAA) said. In a statement here Tuesday, it said while sales volume in October may improve, it was also expected to be lower than in September, due to the short working month brought on by the festive holidays. It said sales of passenger cars in September decreased to 31,178 units from 37,165 units for the same period last year, and sales of commercial vehicles dropped to 11,706 units from 13,377 units. In the national brand segment, vehicle sales also declined to 27,920 units from 31,921 units. It noted that sales of national passenger cars fell to 24,135 units from 29,640 units. However, for national commercial vehicles, sales increased to 3,785 units from 2,281 units. MAA said in the non-national segment, September sales was down to 14,964 units from 18,621 units. “Sales of non-national passenger cars was marginally lower at 7,043 units in September from 7,525 units in the corresponding month last year, and that of non-national commercial vehicles dropped to 7,921 units from 11,096 units.” It said for the Jan-Sept period, sales of passenger cars fell to 286,158 units compared with 307,995 units in the same period last year, and sales of commercial vehicles dropped to 96,245 units from 100,354 units. MAA said total vehicle production in September declined to 39,587 units from 51,971 in the same month last year. “Production of passenger cars decreased to 28,904 units from 36,918 units for the period, and production of commercial vehicles dropped to 10,683 units from 15,053 units. “In the national brand segment, production of vehicles declined to 27,638 units from 33,988 units. “Production of national passenger cars fell to 23,849 units from 30,214 units, while production of national commercial vehicles rose slightly to 3,789 units from 3,774 units,” it said. MAA said vehicle production for Jan-Sept period fell to 399,351 units from 424,884 units in the same period last year.

80kph speed limit for three months
12 October 2006, By New Straits Times

PUTRAJAYA: Motorists on federal and state roads will have to abide by the 80kph speed limit for the next three months. The Cabinet yesterday decided that the reduced speed limit would be extended to cover coming major festivals. This means it will be effective from Oct 17 to Jan 15. And if the move is found to be effective in lowering the death toll on federal and state roads during the balik kampung rush, the reduced speed limit will be made a permanent fixture during festive seasons. Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said there would be strict enforcement to ensure compliance with the reduced speed limit. The reduction in the speed limit from 90kph to 80kph was announced last week. The speed limit was to have just been for the week before Deepavali until the week after Hari Raya. Chan also said commercial vehicles, except for those with permission, would be banned from roads on Oct 21, 22, 27 and 28. This was to ease traffic flow and reduce accidents involving commercial vehicles and smaller vehicles, he added. He warned that a maximum fine of RM300 would be slapped on those who exceeded the speed limit, jump queue, beat the red light, use the emergency lane or overtake along double lines. Offenders will not be allowed to appeal against the fine. The authorities will also take action against motorcyclists who do not use helmets and those who race or ride dangerously and switch lanes without signalling. More than 6,000 policemen and Road Transport Department officers would be on duty during Ops Sikap XI, from Oct 16 to 31. Unlike last year, traffic offenders will not be issued on-the-spot fines as the move was deemed impractical. Asked about the review of the police proposal to reduce fines for most traffic offences by 50 to 70 per cent, Chan said it had been completed and would be referred to the Cabinet. The proposal, made on Sept 4, was to encourage motorists to settle summonses and discourage the practice of bribing policemen. However, on Sept 6, the Cabinet reversed the decision by the police. Chan later said that drivers could expect some reduction in the rates but the police and RTD had to discuss the matter further.