MIRI, April 21 — The Sarawak government will map out a new long solution to control the problem of open burning in the state, especially in Miri City as the present hot and dry season is expected to prolong until Sept this year, said Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas.
He said, among the new strategies that were being considered are using more drones to monitor the areas that are prone to open burning and building more tube wells in areas that do not have such facilities.
“Some of the open burning areas are not accessible and will be made more accessible, we (Sarawak State Disaster Management Committee) will have a meeting in Kuching to discuss the long term solution,”he told reporters after attending a briefing on the open burning situation in Miri City by federal and state government departments at the Tudan Observation Tower here today.
Uggah, who is the chairman of the committee, said an immediate allocation of RM651,000 has been approved by the state government to implement immediate measures to manage the open burning problem in Miri.
He also wants enforcement activities on open burning to be stepped up by increasing patrolling in the areas that likely to be hotspots of open burning.
Today’s briefing was given by officials from Department of Enviroment (DOE), Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID), Sarawak Natural Resources and Enviroment Board (NREB), the Fire and Rescue Service. — Bernama
SUNGAI PETANI, April 21 — Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has reminded the leadership and management of Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) not to be complacent in fulfilling its responsibility and obligation in pursuing the hopes and aspirations of its investors.
The Prime Minister said the responsibility shouldered by PNB is very heavy as investors are always after good returns on investment to improve their quality of life.
He said the abuse of power in governance, deterioration of integrity, fraudulent practices and corruption, as well as leakages that had been occurring in other investment institutions should be avoided in PNB.
“(If they were to happen) Eventually, the government will have to intervene, but this is not the solution as the tarnished image is not easy to repair and the confidence of the people, especially investors, is not easy to restore,” he said in a special video recording aired at the launch of the Minggu Saham Amanah Malaysia (MSAM) 2019 here today.
He said if irregularities were to occur in PNB, the dignity of Bumiputera will also be marred forever because the role of PNB is not just confined to economic interest but also social interest.. — Bernama
IPOH, Apr 21 — A new Ipoh mayor will replace the allegedly truant Datuk Zamri Man by the month’s end, Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu said.
Ahmad Faizal said Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah has already approved the appointment.
“Hence the problem of not having a Datuk Bandar will be solved when the new candidate starts work,” he said after a ground-breaking ceremony for Pusat Pengajian Islam At-Taiyyibin at Tanah Hitam, Chemor.
The MB said the new appointment will permit matters at the Ipoh City Council to proceed.
He was commenting on reports that Zamri would be removed after being absent from work for months.
Quoting Perak Local Government Committee chairman Paul Yong, the media reported that Zamri was believed to have been unwell but had not requested medical leave until two months after his prolonged absence.
Asked if Zamri would be sacked, Ahmad Faizal said he was leaving it to the State Secretariat to take action.
“There are procedures for such problems,” he added, noting that Zamri’s condition was also discussed in the state executive council meeting.
On the new mayor, Ahmad Faizal said the person was a native of the state and has served in other capacities before.
“He has a lot of experience and he can converse in Japanese. That is all I can tell you,” he said, denying that the new appointment was political in nature.
VIENNA, April 21 — When it comes to the problem of online hate speech, the culprits behind the keyboards and smartphones can take some surprising forms—just take 74-year-old Viennese retiree Ms H.
Angered by an article she read on the internet a year ago, the outwardly unassuming former midwife reacted with a Facebook outburst in which she said all immigrants should be poisoned on arrival in Austria.
She said the comment was “spontaneous”, written in the heat of the moment.
But in the eyes of the law it could have amounted to the criminal offence of “incitement to hatred and violence”.
“The police summoned me and said I didn’t have the right to write that,” says Ms H, adding: “I thought it wouldn’t go any further than that”.
However, the Austrian authorities are trying to crack down on hate speech online, a phenomenon which countries across Europe are trying to grapple with—not least ahead of May’s European elections.
Since the end of 2017, several Austrian jurisdictions—including Vienna—have been trying to fight online abuse through a pilot programme called “Dialogue instead of hate” (“Dialog statt Hass”).
Instead of taking cases to court, prosecutors can now refer offenders to the programme, which aims to cultivate media literacy and respectful behaviour online.
The programme consists of a six-month course of 15 modules, covering topics such as disinformation, human rights, the workings of Facebook’s news feed algorithm and dissecting tabloid headlines.
The aim is to show participants how to “express one’s point of view without denigrating others,” explains Nikolaus Tsekas, head of the Vienna branch of Neustart, the crime prevention and rehabilitation NGO behind the course.
The initiative comes amid rising international concern over the conduct of political campaigns online.
In Austria the far-right Freedom Party (FPOe), the junior party in the governing coalition, has been accused by the opposition and by rights activists of stoking tensions with hostile rhetoric towards immigrants and asylum seekers.
The anti-racist NGO SOS Mitmensch has collated 20 messages from FPOe officials in the space of a year which could be considered Islamophobic.
The instructors at Neustart says those messages embolden others to repeat the same language.
“We often see people who say: ‘Politicians say it, why can’t I?’,” says Tsekas.
Last November, a local FPOe politician was himself sent on an online course run by Neustart after a racist, homophobic Facebook post.
Along with homophobic comments, use of racist and Islamophobic language leads to the vast majority of referrals to Neustart so far.
Most of those sent for training are men between the ages of 40 and 60 and the first steps are often tricky.
Speaking to AFP at her fifth session, Ms H was still of the belief that “there’s no freedom of speech, we don’t have the right to say what we think”.
Her adviser Wioletta Ruehrer says this a typical reaction.
Her work with Ms H will consist primarily of “understanding her life story, her fears, seeing whether she herself has ever been discriminated against”.
In this way she hopes to create empathy for the targets of abusive language.
Another Neustart client tells of how he was a reluctant participant at the beginning of the course but ended up wanting further sessions.
“My opinions, my points of view haven’t changed,” says the voluble middle-aged Viennese man.
“But the conversations with the advisor were interesting, they made me reflect and I understand how some language can be degrading,” he adds.
The advisor in question, Dana Pajkovic, explains that “it was new for him to be confronted with different opinions”.
The client says that since the training he has learnt to “take a step back from the articles.
“I don’t get carried away with the titles, I say to myself: ‘They’re trying to wind you up again!’”
“Taking the time to recognise these difference, to listen to these people, is crucial,” says Tsekas.
“The idea isn’t to transform FPOe voters into left-wing activists.”
But the programme has a long way to go—despite the torrent of abusive comments posted online, “Dialogue instead of hate” only dealt with 73 cases in 2018.
It will be rolled out across Austria this summer.
The government is also considering making it mandatory for big internet platforms to register users to prevent anonymous hate postings—although both of the clients who spoke to AFP posted under their own names. — AFP
KUALA LUMPUR, April 21 — Malaysia aims to take back delegated airspace from Singapore around southern Johor in stages beginning from the end of this year to 2023, said Transport Minister Anthony Loke.
He said it is important for both countries to expedite the review of the Operational Letter of Agreement between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore Area Control Centres Concerning Singapore Arrivals, Departures and Overflights 1974, via the Malaysia-Singapore High Level Committee.
“With the progress that we have made, I am confident that both countries can reach mutually beneficial solutions and look forward to strengthening our bilateral cooperation in the aviation and tourism sector,” Loke said in his speech during the inaugural flight of Firefly’s FY3126 from Subang Airport to Seletar Airport in Singapore.
He added both Malaysia and Singapore agree on the fundamental principle of resolving issues of concern in a friendly and constructive manner, and to work towards amicable solutions.
Loke noted that the approval for Firefly to fly into Seletar Airport is the result of several agreements on bilateral relations, especially on airspace issues, which he said resulted in a “win-win” situation.
“This inaugural flight certainly represents a significant milestone in enhancing bilateral cooperation between Malaysia and Singapore.
“To enhance the flight safety and efficiency into Seletar Airport, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore and Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia are working together towards the GPS-based approach to be implemented in Seletar Airport in the near future,” he said.
Loke said Firefly will progressively add more points from Peninsular Malaysia and study the feasibility of the resumption of flights to Kuantan, Ipoh, and potentially, Melaka.
“As the airline seeks to mount seasonal services in leisure markets and islands around Peninsular Malaysia, it will also ramp up its charter services,” he said.
Loke also thanked his Singaporean counterpart, Khaw Boon Wan, who was present at the inauguration of the resumption of Firefly’s operation into Singapore.
In December last year, the airline suspended its flights to the island republic after it failed to get approval from the domestic Civil Aviation Authority to move its operations from Changi Airport to Selatar.
This was due to Malaysia’s opposition of Selatar’s use of Instrument Landing System (ILS) procedures, on the grounds that it is an obstacle to constructing tall buildings at nearby Pasir Gudang in Johor.
Following several months of negotiation, Firefly finally managed to resume operations after Malaysia indefinitely suspended its permanent Restricted Area over Pasir Gudang, and Singapore withdrew the ILS procedures at Seletar.