Khamis, 24 Oktober 2013

The Star Online: Nation

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The Star Online: Nation

Ringlet dam disaster: Siren blare not unusual sound


CAMERON HIGHLANDS: The sound of sirens, warning that water is being released from the dam into Sungai Bertam, is nothing unusual for villagers at Bertam Valley.

So, they continued to sleep when the siren went off before 1am yesterday.

"We were caught off-guard," said village head Wong Fook Chai.

Wong, like other villagers, heard the siren about 15 to 20 minutes before the floods devastated the village.

"How were we supposed to know? Usually the water release does not overflow the banks of the river," he said.

Wong was not sure whether over-development or farming upstream of the dam contributed to the floods.

"There are many vegetable farms upstream but I cannot be certain they are the cause," he said.

He himself felt that those responsible for the dam should be held accountable for releasing so much water.

He recalled that it rained non-stop from about 7pm on Tuesday before the flooding occurred.

"We never imagined the chaos that was to come," he said.

PKR's Teja assemblyman Chang Lih Kang said residents told him that the siren went off in the middle of a rainstorm, drowning out the blare.

"The rain was very heavy and it happened in the middle of the night. A lot of these people are farmers and they sleep very early," he said.

He said in the past, villagers were notified of dam releases well before they happened, adding that this time, they were not.

"They were caught unaware," he said, and called for an independent committee to investigate how the floods happened.

Regional Environmental Awareness Cameron Highlands president R. Ramakrishnan said Tenaga Nasional had given ample warning for those in the area to evacuate.

"They blasted the siren for half an hour before releasing water from the dam," he said, adding that he did not know why some people there did not heed the warning.

Parliament: Noh creates a stir with LGBT remark


DATUK Seri Noh Omar (BN-Tanjung Karang) created a stir when he said that the greatest threat to Malaysia are religious conflicts and the spread of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT).

He went on to ask Nurul Izzah Anwar (PKR-Lembah Pantai) on her views on sodomy, prompting heated exchanges between the Government and Opposition MPs.

Several Opposition MPs protested Noh's line of questioning, with Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan (PAS-Kota Baru) saying that Noh was being rude and sexist.

When asked by Deputy Speaker Datuk Ronald Kiandee to explain his statement, Noh replied: "Yes, I made the statement. But I just wanted to know whether she supported sodomy. I am not accusing her of sodomy. If I had actually said that, I would have withdrawn it."

The former Agriculture and Agro-based Industy Minister said the Government must take immediate measures to curb such social problems, including what he said was a move made by a group of NGOs to promote LGBT rights at the United Nations.

"We are also debating about human rights. We should support human rights, but we cannot support LBGT as it is against Islamic principles.

"Even cattle knows how to choose its correct mate," he said while debating the amendments to the Security Offences (Special Measures Act) during its second reading.

Noh slammed the NGO which went to the UN to promote LBGT rights, which he said had amounted to insulting the Malaysian Cons­titution and undermining Islam.

Gold trading firm directors charged


KUALA LUMPUR: Two company directors of a gold trading firm have been charged in the Sessions Court with illegally taking an estimated RM450mil in deposits.

Liew Choon Khee, 34, and How Soo Feng, 39, pleaded not guilty to receiving deposits from the public through a gold trading scheme without a valid licence while in their capacity as company directors of The Gold Label Sdn Bhd.

The offences are alleged to have taken place in their offices in North­point Office Tower A, Mid Valley City, Medan Syed Putra, here, between Aug 14, 2009 and May 6, 2010.

Liew and How were slapped with a second similar set of charge of receiving deposits but in their capacity as management before they were made directors.

Bank Negara prosecuting officer Mohd Shukri Ahmad Manfor urged the court to set bail at RM1mil for each accused, as the deposits involved more than RM450mil with only RM10mil successfully seized so far.

He said it was a serious offence under Section 103(1)(a) of the Banking and Financial Institution Act, punishable by up to a RM10mil fine or 10 years' jail.

Liew, who was unrepresented, pleaded for lower bail, saying her account had been frozen and she had been out of a job since the investigations began almost three years ago.

How's lawyer M. Kavimani also pleaded for leniency, saying it was unfair to pin the burden solely on her client as there were others being investigated over the matter.

Judge Norsharidah Awang fixed bail at RM600,000 each with one surety, and ordered that Liew and How surrender their passports.

She fixed Nov 29 for next mention.


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