Blog Page 319

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More pressure on Pakatan reps. Police are expected to question several Penang Pakatan reps at noon today over a political gathering apparently held without a police permit.

Those expected to be questioned at the 28th floor of Komtar include Lim Guan Eng, V Raveentharan, Jason Ong and Sim Tze Tzin.

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An ntv7 poll over the news tonight asked viewers if they thought PKR’s performance in the next general election would be affected by the recent defections.

The results were surprising: 60 per cent responded ‘No’, the party’s performance won’t be affected, with just 40 per cent saying ‘Yes’, it will be.

All right, let’s do our own poll then.

[poll id=”53″]

Some 1,000 students have protested at the persistent water shortages at the Universiti Malaysia Sabah campus in Labuan.

Photo: UMS Labuan website

It was the first picket in the history of Labuan, reports Bernama, which said the water problems were due to a “dry spell”.

Armed with placards and posters, they gathered at the university campus about 14km from Labuan town as early as 9am, and demanded water – as the police were on standby.

It looks as if the water shortages in Labuan, previously highlighted in this blog, have not yet been resolved, judging from this letter by an upset parent.

Since July-August 2009, many letters have been written to everybody and anybody in authority to resolve the major water crisis that has hit the Universiti Malaysia Sabah-Kampus Antarabangsa Labuan. Despite all the requests and pleas and the resulting promises, there seems to be no end to the water shortage crisis. If anything the situation has worsened, with the static tanks that have been set up not being filled up when empty. Invariably, students have to endure a day in every three days with ZERO water.

Many students have been spending time in town to find clean food as there is insufficient water to wash the dishes properly. My daughter told me that many of the male undergraduates have resorted to staying at the Labuan International Airport from Friday to Sunday night, or whenever there is a holiday. The airport is the one place where there is regular water supply, air-conditioning, and Internet access. During the Mauladur Rasul holiday weekend, there were so many UMS-KAL students at the airport that airport officials started to scold them, and they were chased out from the airport.

Pakatan leaders, euphoric over the turnout at their Lunar New Year open house in Kota Kinabalu, have told Sabahans that their state could play a leading role in changing the political landscape of the country.


A sea of people packed the hall – Photo via Tian Chua

The turnout this afternoon was “overflowing”, observed Lim Kit Siang, noting that Anwar Ibrahim arrived to a “riotous welcome”.

It is a “sign of the times (for) Sabah, Malaysia”, said Kit Siang.

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Live coverage of the tsunami alert for Hawaii.

Live coverage of rescue operations after the 8.8 earthquake in Chile

0213: Blog readers Kent and Silvia Sharrar comment at 12.25am (Malaysian time): “We are Ewa Beach residents in Acapulco (at the Fairmont right on the beach). It came & went w/no effect. Loud crash when wave hit the beach.”

0122: Social networking site Twitter is being heavily used with about 500-1,000 updates per minute.

0105: The Malaysian Met Department issued a statement at 8.30 last night. “NO tsunami threat to Malaysia. However, those staying at coastal areas of Lahad Datu, Semporna, Tawau and Sandakan, Sabah are advised to be alert as there are likely to occur rough sea conditions and sea level rise starting tomorrow afternoon, 28 February 2010.”

0100: Sirens wail along the Hawaiian coast again.

0059: This will be a major event with dangerous waves for Hawaii, but nobody can predict how big the waves will be, says a televised warning.

Najib says the Malaysian economy is out of the woods and we are poised to do better this year. From what you see around you, do you agree?

A bunch of bananas in Penang is now RM1 more expensive, char koay teow and roti canai servings have shrunk, and many workers have lost out on increments over the last couple of years. Stress levels have soared as workers have to work longer hours to cover for those retrenched and not replaced. And now we have the spectre of GST looming over us.

The GDP figures did not do as badly as anticipated last year because of the pump priming and fiscal stimulus packages.

While others are marvelling at the unique Penang Hill funicular railyway, we are about to lose large chunks of a priceless heritage, thanks to a hasty federal “upgrading” project.

Who was the RM63 million contract awarded to? And who will absorb any cost overruns?

Already, not a few Penangites are muttering that the proposed quick 10-minute train ride up the hill will defeat the whole purpose of going up the hill – a leisurely ride up for passengers to savour the tropical fauna and the lush greenery along the route as they leave the cares of the world down below. Okay, the trains may be crammed now during the holiday seasons, but there was an alternative proposal to improve the railway here.

Rob Dickinson, of the International Steam Pages, commented on this blog that he spent a week here filming the funicular line in December 2009. A DVD of its operation – which can now double up as an ‘obituary’ of the old line – will be ready by May 2010. Check out his brilliant photos here, especially those of the machinery. “This was definitely ‘just in time’ industrial archaeology,” reflects Rob.

Garth Johnson, whose great uncle Arnold R Johnson designed the railway, commented on this blog that Arnold’s “very clever” blueprint involved carving the hillside taking into account the weight of the cable. “That was why he divided the track into two sections with a central station,” said Garth. The Penang Heritage Trust points out below that the existing funicular track, which opened in 1923, was actually the second attempt at building a railway on Penang Hill. The first attempt, begun in 1898 and completed in 1906, was a two-car system that comprised only one section covering the entire distance. It flopped due to technical reasons.

The big question now is, how much hill-cutting and tree-chopping will we now see when they try to put in place the new track alignment? Have they carefully considered the terrain, the maintenance required and passenger safety?

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