Khamis, 15 Mei 2014

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The Star Online: Nation

Cabinet committee set up as Malaysia braces for El Nino

Posted: 15 May 2014 08:07 AM PDT

PUTRAJAYA: A special cabinet committee has been set up as the country braces for the El Nino phenomenon from June to September due to the dry Southwest Monsoon, said Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Dr Maximus Ongkili.

He said the committee would be headed by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin while the secretariat would be hosted by the ministry.

"The special cabinet committee will monitor the devastating impact of the dry spell (brought about by El Nino) from various aspects, including weather changes, health and agriculture.

"The committee will also monitor and implement comprehensive mitigation measures at the national level to brace for the El Nino phenomenon in all economic and social sectors," he said in a statement on Thursday.

Ongkil said the committee would take over the role of the Water Crisis Committee, which was set up by the ministry during the water rationing exercise from January to April.

He said the committee would be made up of representatives from the Health Ministry, the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry, the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, the Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry, the Finance Ministry, and the National Security Council.

Apart from the Malaysian Meteorological Department's forecast, he said the World Meteorology Organisation predicted that the El Nino phenomenon could persist from six to 18 months, and if this were to happen t would worsen the national water supply situation.

Meanwhile, Ongkili urged state governments to take immediate steps to ensure enough raw water supply and protect water sources to avoid inadequate supply of treated water to consumers.

While urging domestic and industrial users to use water prudently, he said industrial users should take steps to reduce the impact of water crisis by using underground water, recycling water, using water-efficient equipments, and increasing the capacity of water storage tanks. - Bernama

Sarawak govt approves RM1mil aid for Wong Ho Leng's medical expenses

Posted: 15 May 2014 07:50 AM PDT

KUCHING: The Sarawak government has approved a RM1mil aid to meet the medical expenses of former Sarawak DAP chairman Wong Ho Leng who is suffering from cancer.

Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem said the aid was given on humanitarian grounds following a request from Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen.

 "I have instructed the (State) Ministry of Finance to issue a cheque for RM1 million (to cover Wong's medical expenses)," he said when winding up his speech at the state assembly here.

Wong, the assemblyman for Bukit Assek, had been suffering from brain cancer since last year and requires treatment in Singapore.

He was brought back to Sibu recently and is said to be in a coma.

MH370: We "hardly spent anything" on SAR, says Hisham

Posted: 15 May 2014 06:24 AM PDT

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has "hardly spent anything" in the search mission for the missing MH370 jetliner, said acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein.

He said this is because other countries such as Australia, China and the United States have extensively contributed to the search mission of the jetliner which went missing on March 8 with 239 people on board enroute to Beijing.

"The search has not cost us anything at all, considering this is the largest search in the aviation history.

"As far as Malaysia is concerned, the cost is for deploying our military assets.

"I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been with us in the earlier phase of the search," Hishammuddin told a press conference Thursday.

Hishammuddin said Australia's commitment of up to USD89.9mil (RM272.3mil) towards the search for the missing plane over two years is only a ceiling amount.

"In this new phase, we have not estimated our cost and to be fair to Australia, we should share it but the actual amount has not been determined because we need to identify the exact location and the assets needed to be deployed," he added.

Hishammuddin said third parties have also expressed their willingness to provide support in the search for MH370 but refused to divulge who they were.

Asked if the Government will provide financial aid to Malaysia Airlines, which posted a loss of RM442mil in the first quarter of 2014, Hishammuddin said no.

On asset deployment, he said the tripartite meeting between Malaysia, China and Australia on the specific assets needed for the search agreed that procurement arrangements for the use of commercial contractors will be undertaken by Australia, in consultation with Malaysia.

"The procurement process will be done through an open or limited tender process based on Commonwealth standards to facilitate cost-effectiveness and best value for money.

"Malaysia and China will be consulted and detailed briefings will be provided at each step of the process.

"The meeting also emphasised the requirement that these contracts be put in place as soon as possible to ensure that search operations are not interrupted.

"Besides the commercial assets, Malaysia and China are also assigning specific assets for operations in this new phase," he said.

Hishammuddin added that Malaysia would be acquiring related assets from Petronas, SapuraKencana Petroleum Berhad, DRB-Hicom Defence Technologies Sdn Bhd (Deftech) and Boustead Holdings Berhad.

Heading the assets deployment committee is Deputy Defence Minister Datuk Abd Rahim Bakri, who said Malaysia will foot 50% of the cost to procure assets relevant to the search by the Joint Agency Coordination Centre (JACC).

Australia would pay for the other half, he said.

He said Malaysia had secured one towed sonar and an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) from Petronas, which he said had offered them for free as a form of "national service".

"We intend to have them in the water as soon as the ocean floor mapping survey is completed.

"China estimates that to be 36 days from now," he told reporters.

The committee is also in talks with SapuraKencana  for a multibeam echo-sounder to assist in the bathymetric mapping of the ocean floor of the search area, as well as Boustead and Deftech for other assets.

"Whatever it is, the assets are going to be very expensive as they are rare and mostly owned by private companies.

"It has been agreed that Malaysia and Australia will share the cost to procure them.

"If there is a need for more assets we will add them to the search," Rahim said.

The committee will be represented by First Admiral Hanafiah Hassan and Colonel Hassan Loman, in a special team to Canberra consisting of senior officers from the four ministerial sub-committees in the MH370 search.

A communications, coordination and media committee will follow the team to handle the disemination of information between the Malaysian, Chinese and Australian authorities and media affairs.

Communication and Multimedia deputy minister Datuk Jailani Johari, who heads the committee, said the next-of-kin and public will also be kept up to date with the goings-on in the tripartite effort.

More articles on MH370


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