Isnin, 24 Mac 2014

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The Star Online: Nation

Families reduce Qing Ming burning due to haze

Posted: 23 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT

JOHOR BARU: The haze and long dry spell will have an effect on the upcoming Qing Ming Festival (Chinese All Souls Day) as well – families observing the festival this year are choosing to burn fewer joss sticks and less paper in an effort not to worsen the air quality.

Mechanic Choong Chee Leng, 35, said his family chose to be more environmentally friendly as the past two months had been very dry and hot in Johor and other parts of the country.

"We will keep the burning to a minimum this year and will only burn necessary items like hell notes, paper clothing, paper houses and cars for my grandparents," he said when met at the cemetery in Tebrau here yesterday.

Factory supervisor Giam Yee Wei, 46, said her family usually spent about RM500 on prayer items to burn for her ancestors but they cut this down by half this year.

"Our country just had rain a week ago, so we do not want to do much open burning and contribute to any bush fires," she said.

She said her family arrived at the cemetery from Gelang Patah at 7.30am yesterday and noticed that other families were also burning fewer items this time round.

Singaporean Joseph Phua, 55, also encouraged his family to cut down on the items they burned so that they would not harm the environment.

"Burning fewer items can help save the environment and money. I am sure our ancestors will understand," added the father of three.

The festival, where families will clean their ancestors' tombs, give offerings and burn prayer paraphernalia which replicates dollar notes, cars, clothes and houses, falls on April 5 this year.

Clouded leopard found dead in Tawau

Posted: 23 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT

KOTA KINABALU: A protected clouded leopard was found dead in Sabah's east coast town of Tawau.

The Bornean leopard is believed to have been hit by a vehicle while crossing the Kuhara road after it came out from a secondary forest about 2km from the town in search of food.

A Tawau resident, who uploaded a picture of the dead cat on Facebook, said that it was spotted dead on the road at about 9am on Saturday.

Conservationist estimated that there are about 5,000 to 11,000 of the leopards within the forests of Borneo island and they believe that their numbers are fast dwindling.

The Sabah government has placed the leopards in its protection list under the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment.

Sabah Wildlife Department assistant director Dr Sen Nathan said that the leopards were found in most forest areas around Sabah and it was not surprising to find them close to secondary forests near urban centres.

"They usually search for preys like rats. It is a pity that the cat was knocked down," he said, urging motorist to drive slow in areas frequently used by the animals.

"We also hope that people will just leave the animals alone and let them roam freely within their hab­itats," he said, adding that the cats were also seen in oil palm estates, as well as secondary forests close to human settlements.

With no closure, loved ones are pushed to point of exasperation

Posted: 23 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT

CYBERJAYA: While the world remains stumped by the mystery of flight MH370, no sorrow can be greater than the grief of the families and friends of those who disappeared with the plane.

A total of 239 passengers and crew vanished with the plane about an hour after take-off from the KL International Airport (KLIA) on March 8, leaving no clear indication of where it had deviated to.

About two-thirds of those on board were Chinese nationals and some two dozen of their relatives had travelled from Beijing to Kuala Lumpur since March 11 with hopes of finding their missing loved ones.

Their accommodation and most other expenses in Kuala Lumpur had been shouldered by Malaysia Airlines (MAS), just so the next-of-kin could be closer to the source of information on the search and rescue mission for the Boeing 777 aircraft.

But two weeks have passed since the incident and the Chinese relatives in Kuala Lumpur have experienced nothing less than a roller-coaster ride of emotions.

A few of them retaliated with great irritation as soon as they had arrived in Kuala Lumpur as they fended off news-hungry journalists.

Left alone to themselves, they talk to each other in soft conversations, with a sombre expression.

Their daily activity include countless hours with their electronic gadgets as they diligently studied every theory and conspiracy spun by the world in relation to MH370.

At other times, they would engage in light conversation with volunteers from the Tzu Chi Buddhist Foundation.

When news came that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak would make a special announcement on the Saturday afternoon of March 15, there was a tinge of excitement on their faces.

Their chatter in thick accents became more quick-paced, each wondering if "this would be it".

"Will we finally get to bring our families home?" After the live telecast in which Najib confirmed that the MH370 was deliberately deviated from its original flight path to Beijing, the excitement on the faces of the families was no longer there.

The families were fed with updates on the search and rescue mission by embassy officials and selected Malaysian authorities in person daily but that sign of hope has yet to reappear on their faces.

Like their counterparts who had chosen to remain in Beijing, their biggest gripe was about being bogged down by many questions and possibilities but having few answers to confirm them.

Not knowing what had happened to their loved ones on board the MH370 has rendered them helpless, pushing them to the point of exasperation.

Several even staged a commotion in the KLIA Sama-Sama Hotel on Wednesday just before Acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein was to deliver his daily press briefing.

Even when Australia revealed the next day of its discovery of two objects possibly related to the search of the missing flight, the families had little emotions left to show.

A meeting between the families and high-level Malaysian government officials was held in the hotel the same night but as one next-of-kin of a Malaysian passenger, Hamid Amran, put it: "We are not satisfied with the answers."

Until and unless some form of closure is delivered to them, they know that no expert speculation in the world will ever patch up the void in their hearts.


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