Worker's injury casts harsh new light on Foxconn and <b>...</b> - Blog Archive
Posted: 10 Oct 2012 09:03 PM PDT
Worker's injury casts harsh new light on Foxconn and China
Posted: 10 Oct 2012 08:57 PM PDT
HONG KONG: Apple Inc's largest contract manufacturer has been pushing for a Chinese worker left brain-damaged in a factory accident to be removed from hospital in a case that throws a harsh new spotlight on labor rights in China.
Zhang Tingzhen (photo), 26, an employee of Taiwan firm Foxconn, had nearly half his brain surgically removed after surviving an electric shock at a plant in southern China a year ago. He remains in hospital under close observation by doctors, unable to speak or walk properly.
However, Foxconn, which is paying Zhang's hospital bills, has been sending telephone text messages to his family since July, demanding they remove him from hospital and threatening to cut off funding for his treatment – a move the firm says would be justified under Chinese labour law.
Foxconn confirmed it had sent the messages, saying that under Chinese law the worker must submit himself to a disability assessment – a process that in Zhang's case would require him to be discharged from the Shenzhen hospital and travel 70km (43 miles) to Huizhou, where he was first hired by Foxconn.
The firm said in response to e-mailed questions that it would be prepared to return Zhang to the Shenzhen hospital after the assessment, though his father said Zhang was unfit to travel and that doctors felt he remained at risk of a brain haemorrhage.
The case has raised fresh questions over the labour record of Foxconn, one of the biggest and most high-profile private employers in China, after a series of well-publicised suicides among its army of around a million workers and recent outbursts of labour unrest.
It has angered labour activists who say Zhang's plight also highlights China's patchy and sometimes precarious welfare system for workers seriously injured in industrial accidents – and point out that there are many workers worse off than Zhang.
"They kept sending me SMSs every day to get my son out of hospital and to appear before an injury assessment body or they will stop paying all expenses, including his medical fees and our living expenses," said Zhang's father, Zhang Guangde.
"You cannot imagine the suffering they put me through, how I had to fight every inch of the way just to get money so we can take care of our son," he added, speaking at his son's bedside at the Number 2 People's Hospital in Shenzhen.
Zhang was repairing a spotlight on an external wall at a Foxconn factory in Shenzhen, bordering Hong Kong, when he received an electric shock and fell four metres (12ft) to the ground. He has since undergone five operations, has lost his memory, is incontinent and requires careful, regular monitoring.
'Robbed of dignity'
Workers who are disabled in workplace accidents and covered by insurance are eligible for compensation payouts, once their disability is assessed and graded by a panel of medical experts.
The assessment is done after medical treatment is finished.
Foxconn sent the text messages, and according to Zhang's father at one point briefly halted payments to the family, despite a provincial law stipulating that injured workers can remain in treatment for up to two years before they must be assessed for disability compensation.
The company, however, denied that it delayed or stopped payments, saying it paid them on time.
Zhang, whose case was alerted to Reuters by labor activists, has been in hospital since October 2011.
Doctors at the Number 2 People's Hospital declined to comment for this article, but Zhang's father, 50, said they had not indicated that he could be discharged and had said they needed to keep his son under observation after implanting a tube in his body to drain fluid from his brain cavity to his bladder.
"The doctor told me they needed to monitor his condition and that for such serious injuries, a person was allowed to be treated in hospital for up to two years. After that, assessors can order treatment to be prolonged," the father said.
Labour activists in China say Zhang is just one of many thousands of Chinese workers who are left permanently disabled or chronically ill by workplace accidents, at the mercy of a system that often requires them and their families to fight degrading battles for treatment funding and compensation.
"China now has laws specifying the types of compensation that are due to workers. But in many serious industrial accidents, companies still put workers or their families through a lot of suffering just to get what is due to them," said Choi Suet-wah of the Chinese Working Women Network in Hong Kong.
"They are robbed of their dignity," said Choi, who has extensive experience working with migrant workers in China.
Zhang is actually one of the lucky ones, social workers say, pointing out that Foxconn has at least been paying his hospital bills and the living expenses of his family, which has moved to Shenzhen from central China to be with him.
They estimate that at least four out of 10 Chinese workers are not covered by any kind of insurance and are left to fend for themselves when seriously injured in the workplace – despite laws requiring all employers to insure their workers.
"This is just one of many, many industrial accidents in China. And you almost certainly never get what you are entitled to, especially in serious cases," Choi said.
Foxconn says it is insured against workplace accidents, which means its insurer would meet the cost of a compensation payment once Zhang's disability is finally assessed.
But compensation in China can vary depending on the city in which a worker's disability is assessed – and this, according to Zhang's family, is why Foxconn wants him to travel to Huizhou and refuses to have him assessed in Shenzhen.
Labour activists say wages and compensation levels are all substantially lower in Huizhou than in Shenzhen, one of the most expensive cities in China.
When asked why Zhang could not be assessed in Shenzhen, Foxconn said the law required him to go to Huizhou because he had signed his employment contract there. It added that it was prepared to send him back to the hospital in Shenzhen if the assessors determined that he required more medical attention.
In hospital, Zhang walks unsteadily, holding on to the bed frames of other patients in his shared room and, with a smile, sits down next to his father whose face tightens with emotion.
"He calls me 'mother' and calls my wife 'father'. He can only mimic words you ask him to say, it is meaningless," the elder Zhang said later, holding a jar containing large fragments of his son's cranium. Doctors replaced a portion of Zhang's skull with synthetic bone.
He said that despite Foxconn's funding – a monthly allowance of 11,000 yuan (US$1,800) plus treatment costs – the family had racked up 200,000 yuan (US$31,800) in debt to pay for medicines not provided by the hospital and other expenses.
Back home in central Henan province, the family was building a house for Zhang to live in after his impending marriage when he was injured.
"We were building a three-storey house," the elder Zhang said. "The project has since been abandoned and all the building materials we bought have been washed away by rain. But these workers still have to be paid. My whole life is over."
Facebook Sex Party: Landlords Innocent Until Proven Guilty
Posted: 10 Oct 2012 08:08 PM PDT
PETALING JAYA: It must be proven that premise owners are involved or have knowledge of illegal activities held in their outlets before they can be held responsible for them.
Beri 10% kerusi kepada masyarakat India
Posted: 10 Oct 2012 08:34 PM PDT
PETALING JAYA: Sebuah badan bukan kerajaan (NGO) mewakili kepentingan masyarakat India menyeru agar perwakilan politik masyarakat India ditingkatkan.
Menurut NGO tersebut perwakilan masyarakat India di Dewan Undangan Negeri (DUN) dan Parlimen haruslah tidak kurang dari 10 peratus dari jumlah kerusi untuk Barisan Nasional dan Pakatan Rakyat.
"Jikalau benar Pakatan Rakyat bukan parti perkauman, maka mengapa masyarakat India dipinggirkan dari segi politik?
"Dengan pembahagian sebanyak 10 peratus, ini akan membolehkan 22 kerusi Parlimen dan 57 kerusi DUN ditandingi oleh pemimpin masyarakat India," kata Setiausaha Angkatan Warga Aman Malaysia (WargaAman) S Barathidasan dalam satu kenyataan.
Beliau mendedahkan bahawa DAP akan memperuntukkan 10 kerusi Parlimen untuk calon dari kaum India dan menggesa agar PKR turut berbuat demikian.
"PKR juga haruslah bersedia memperuntukkan sebanyak 12 kerusi Parlimen, iaitu tambahan sebanyak 8 kerusi Parlimen. Begitu juga dengan kerusi DUN yang harus ditambah.
"Kita juga mahu 10 peratus kerusi yang ditanding BN diperuntukkan kepada kaum India," katanya.
Warga Aman berpendapat peratusan perwakilan kaum India sekarang hanya menunjukkan masyarakat tersebut dipinggirkan oleh kedua -dua pakatan politik.
`Masyarakat India dipinggirkan'
"Pemimpin masyarakat India di BN hanya mendapat sebanyak 4.5 peratus kerusi Parlimen dan 3.2 peratus kerusi DUN. Peratusan di PR pula hanyalah 5.8 peratus kerusi Parlimen dan 5 peratus kerusi DUN. Nampaknya masyarakat India dipinggirkan oleh kedua-dua belah pihak," kata Barathidasan.
Menurutnya lagi peningkatan kerusia yang diperuntukkan untuk masyarakat India hanya meningkat dalam pilihan raya umum ke 12. Pakatan memperuntukkan 13 kerusi Parlimen dan 29 kerusi DUN manakala BN memperuntukkan 10 kerusi parlimen dan 19 kerusi DUN.
"PKR memperuntukkan lima kerusi Parlimen dan 15 kerusi DUN dan DAP dengan 8 kerusi Parlimen serta 15 kerusi DUN dengan jumlah besar sebanyak 13 kerusi Parlimen dan 29 kerusi DUN di bawah Pakatan Rakyat.
"Parti MIC pula kekal dengan sembilan kerusi Parlimen dan 19 kerusi DUN dan tambahan satu kerusi Parlimen oleh pemimpin masyarakat India dari Parti Progresif Rakyat (PPP)," katanya.
Permintaan untuk sepuluh peratus perwakilan politik masyarakat India adalah berdasarkan kepada jumlah pengundi kaum India.
Terdapat lebih 20 kawasan Parlimen dan lebih 70 kawasan DUN yang mempunyai jumlah masyarakat India melebihi 15 peratus seperti kawasan parlimen Bagan Datoh dengan 22 peratus, Tapah 20 peartus dan Tanjung Malim 18 peratus.
Di kawasan DUN pula antara kawasan yang mempunyai jumlah pengundi India yang boleh menentukan pemenang dalam pilihan raya ialah Jalong 26 peratus, Chenderiang 25 peratus dan Changkat Jong 26 peratus.
Rock 'n' roll with a twist: Shaneil Devaser
Posted: 10 Oct 2012 08:45 PM PDT
Shaneil Devaser – born in Kuala Lumpur, raised in Edinburgh and in Kota Kinabalu – plays his guitar and sings tunes that come from the heart of a madman, lover and best-friend.
Notorious for his slightly-odd behaviour, autistic-like attitudes, half-construed sentences and ever-misguided truths, Shaneil Devaser often dives into a foray of lateral-thoughts and misguided-chords with an SM58 microphone and his oldest guitar fitted with an L.R. Baggs M1A pickup or his Epiphone AJ-100CE.
Besides the acoustic gigs, Shaneil Devaser also gigs with the Border Crossers, remnants of the infamous Crossing Boundaries, to flesh out loud full-band gigs when the occasion and opportunity arises
How would you best describe your music?
I'd say my music is straight up rock 'n' roll with a twist. Lots of bands try and stay within a genre, I just like to do whatever I want. If I feel something sounds cool somewhere, it goes there. If I feel a song should just be two acoustic guitars with eight vocal tracks, the song will just be two acoustic guitars with eight vocal tracks. If I feel that a song should have a gamelang, I put in a gamelang. It's that simple.
If you had a chance to collaborate with any musician on the planet, who would it be and why?
If I had the chance, I'd like to collaborate with Daniel Johns of Silverchair, because he's one of my biggest influences.
You win a chance to open for your favourite act – what song would you perform and what would you do on stage?
Assuming the act is the Foo Fighters, I'd play Sleep All Day. If the act were Oasis, I'd play Full. If the act were Silverchair, I wouldn't dare open for them.
Have you championed any good cause? What are your plans to do more?
I'm not really one for causes, I just do what I can to save that little bit of the world that's within my current and foreseeable control. Baby steps.
Which local musicians in your country do you most admire and why?
I'd put Butterfingers up front, cause I just like their tunes, and they have an extensive discography. Free Deserters are awesome too, I'd say they're currently Malaysia's best.
Money or fame? Why?
From an interview awhile back, "Q: Local recognition versus monetary gains, which is more important? A: We just want to play music, man.". RA, 2012.
What are your songs about?
Myself, my experiences, my delusions, my hopes and my dreams.
What is your biggest achievement to date?
Recording the latest EP all by myself i.e. vocals, guitars, bass, drums, etc.
What was the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you while performing?
Breaking a string in the middle of performance, getting another guitar, and breaking a string again.
What are your thoughts on music piracy? Would you give your music away for FREE?
We're all pirates. I wouldn't give away my music for free without a catch. But if someone wants to pirate it, I don't see why not, means I'm good enough to be pirated, which is a good thing, and it feeds my head.
Connect with Shaneil:
Facebook : http://www.facebook.com/shaneildevasermusic
Panchayat: A thinking man's treasure
Posted: 10 Oct 2012 08:32 PM PDT
By Patricia Rose Anne Clement
When I first saw this title on Uthaya Sankar SB's Facebook wall, I had no idea it was "panchayat" as in the rural subjected Tamil movies I've watched over the years. Imagine my surprise! "Panchayat: Edisi Khas" (2012) becomes my first real Bahasa Malaysia novel, besides those condensed ones I had read during school days.
As chapters run in from the different points of view of characters, I saw a bit of myself in each of the characters and realised also that I see many of these characters in my everyday living.
Uthaya proves that an author must not only write well, but sculpt, design and paint as well. Such awesomely created characters!
What I like best about his style is that he allows me to evaluate the characters based on my understanding without him being the judge; though being the creator.
I referred to this novel as a "movie" to some friends. How can I not? Every second I was reading, there was a movie unconsciously being played at the back of my mind. Such detailed descriptions of the characters; now I have an image for each character stuck to my head. Their personalities; Uthaya did not say it per se, rather he showed it all throughout the story. Eventually, this made me go back to previous pages for checks and got me thinking a lot. The storyline is so coherently organised that I was forced to keep reading the subsequent chapters.
If you're looking for a light read, I suggest you don't do this book.
"Panchayat: Edisi Khas" is a thinking man's treasure. With an array of themes, ethics, perspectives, and insights dished out, this will not be a lazy read. That being said, I love the way he tells such a dense story effortlessly with much ease and simplicity in language.
Anyone can read it with understanding at surface level; but whether or not you grasp the depth of the story is a different question all together. Here and there, I noticed tinges of sarcasm that inadvertently reminded me of real-life situations.
Filled with cultural notions, I thought it to be a great venue for readers of other cultures to get to know the Indian culture (or Hindu at certain parts) more closely.
I also loved the way he named each chapter aptly; with 'Ahimsa', 'Thandira Nari', 'Maramanden', 'Attan', 'Mulastanam', 'Mundani', 'Trisula', 'Kaali Devi' and 'Madurai Kaala' being some of my favourites.
This novel is to be read with an open mind. No expectations. No presumptions. Symbolic. Metaphorical. Brilliantly written. Meticulously planned. Boldly illustrated.
"Panchayat: Edisi Khas" was serialised in Free Malaysia Today before published by the author in book form.
S&P cuts Spain credit rating to near junk
Posted: 10 Oct 2012 08:31 PM PDT
NEW YORK: Standard & Poor's yesterday cut Spain's sovereign credit rating to BBB-minus, just above junk territory, citing a deepening economic recession that is limiting the government's policy options to arrest the slide.
The S&P downgrade comes with a negative outlook reflecting the credit ratings agency's view that there are significant risks to economic growth and budgetary performance, plus a lack of clear direction in euro zone policies.
"In our view, the capacity of Spain's political institutions (both domestic and multilateral) to deal with the severe challenges posed by the current economic and financial crisis is declining," S&P said in a statement.
S&P's two-notch downgrade from BBB-plus brings it in line with Moody's Investors Service's Baa3 rating. Moody's has Spain on review for a possible downgrade.
Both firms have Spain just on the cusp of junk status. Fitch Ratings has a BBB rating on Spain, one notch higher, but also with a negative outlook.
A spokeswoman at Spain's Economy Ministry told Reuters the government had no comment on the ratings action.
The country has been in recession since earlier this year, its second economic contraction in just a few years, and unemployment is stubbornly high at close to 25% with a return to job creation still two years away.
Falling tax revenue and rising costs of unemployment benefits are confounding the government's efforts to hit a 2012 deficit reduction target of 6.3% of gross domestic target agreed with the European Union.
Both the International Monetary Fund and Spain's own Central Bank cast doubt on the savings envisioned in Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's 2013 budget, saying they are based on a too-rosy outlook for the economy.
In the wake of the downgrade, the euro dropped about 0.25% to US$1.2865 in late New York trade from just under US$1.29 prior to the news.
"This is weighing on the euro. A downgrade from S&P could be followed by a downgrade from Moody's, and while S&P did not downgrade Spain to junk, Moody's might," said Kathy Lien, managing director at BK Asset Management in New York.
"If Moody's goes to junk status, that's even more significant, and this adds to the pressure on Moody's to make a decision. It could lead to higher bond yields in Spain and push the government closer to asking for a bailout," Lien added.
In European trade earlier on Tuesday, 10-year Spanish bond yields fell one basis point to 5.83%. Those yields spiked above 7% earlier this year, but have since come down on a European Central Bank bond-buying plan.
Social discontent and euro zone doubts
Prime Minister Rajoy's centre-right People's Party has an absolute majority in parliament and so far has been able to pass spending cuts and economic reforms without any problem.
However, street protests have increased in recent months as Spaniards revolt against public sector wage cuts and lower spending on education and healthcare. Resentment is also rising over huge public bailouts for the country's crippled banks, while social benefits are cut.
Although Rajoy's PP governs 11 of 17 Spanish regions, which have been forced to make massive budget cuts, S&P noted that tensions between the central and regional governments are rising, "leading to substantially diluted policy outcomes."
The agency said Rajoy's resolve will be "repeatedly tested by domestic constituencies."
Although the European Central Bank has set up a bond-buying program that would support Spanish debt prices on the secondary market, Spain has balked at signing up for international aid because it would come with harsh conditions.
"We view the Spanish government's hesitation to agree to a formal assistance programme… as potentially raising the downside risks to Spain's rating," S&P said in its note.
The agency also said that euro zone policy makers must show progress on implementing a banking union that would allow Europe to directly recapitalize Spanish banks, taking the weight off of the Spanish government.
Sarah Palin and fitness book
Posted: 10 Oct 2012 08:27 PM PDT
LOS ANGELES: Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who has recently been photographed looking slimmer, is working on a book about personal fitness, she told a celebrity magazine.
"Our family is writing a book on fitness and self-discipline focusing on where we get our energy and balance as we still eat our beloved homemade comfort foods!" Palin told People magazine in an article posted to its website on Tuesday.
Palin quickly became a top star in Republican circles after she was named as the Republican vice presidential candidate in 2008. She resigned as governor of Alaska in 2009 and went on to publish two books, the memoir "Going Rogue: An American Life" and "America by Heart: Reflections on Family, Faith and Flag."
Palin, who competed in Alaska beauty pageants in the 1980s, has been photographed recently looking thin, which sparked speculation in the media about her health.
After playing a prominent role in the 2010 mid-term elections by endorsing certain Republican candidates for Congress, Palin has been less visible in the current campaign season leading up to the November presidential election. Meanwhile, her daughter, Bristol, is back on television in the ABC show "Dancing with the Stars: All-Stars."
Attorneys for Palin did not return calls seeking comment on her plans for a fitness book. It was not clear if Palin or her family have a publisher lined up.
In the past, Palin has criticized first lady Michelle Obama's anti-obesity campaign, telling a talk radio show in 2010 the "Let's Move" program aimed at schools was government intrusion and that parents and families should decide for themselves what children eat.
Palin, 48, played on a championship high school basketball team in the 1980s and she has been an avid runner, completing a marathon in Anchorage in 2005 in under four hours. Her father, a retired teacher, is a former track-and-field coach.
Palin's husband, Todd, is a four-time champion of the Iron Dog, a 2,000-mile event in Alaska that is billed as the world's longest snowmobile race.
"We promise you what we do works and allows a fulfilling quality of life and sustenance anyone can enjoy," Palin told People about her fitness book project.—Reuters
ING to sell Malaysian insurance unit to AIA for US$1.73b
Posted: 10 Oct 2012 08:25 PM PDT
HONG KONG/AMSTERDAM: Pan Asian insurer AIA Group Ltd has agreed to buy ING's Malaysian insurance operations for US$1.73 billion (RM5.3 billion) in cash, handing the Dutch financial services firm its first deal in a nine-month drive to sell off Asian assets.
The sale of the Malaysian unit is expected to be followed soon by the divestment of ING's Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong and Thailand units, as the bailed-out Dutch financial firm offloads assets to repay 10 billion euros (US$12.9 billion) in state aid received during the 2008 financial crisis.
For AIA, the purchase of the Malaysian operations marks its second M&A deal in less than a month, and gives it a leading position in the fast growing Southeast Asian economy.
AIA was spun out of US insurer AIG in 2010 through a US$20.5 billion IPO, and Hong Kong-based CEO Mark Tucker has been re-building the business after it lost agents and market share amid AIG's near collapse during the financial crisis.
"It's a good deal and they are paying up to buy a good quality business and to expand into a rapidly growing market," said Credit Suisse analyst Arjan van Veen, describing ING's Malaysian business as the "jewel in the crown".
AIA said it was paying a multiple of about 1.8 times embedded value for the Malaysian business, compared with AIA's own multiple of 1.5 times. Van Veen said the deal should add 5% to AIA's earnings per share.
Embedded value is a measure commonly used to gauge the value of insurance companies and includes the present value of future profit from long-term insurance contracts.
The deal, which confirmed a report by Reuters yesterday, marks ING's first sale after it announced plans to auction its Asian insurance operations in January as part of a global asset sell-off programme.
ING originally wanted to sell its entire Asia insurance operation, with a book value of 6.1 billion euros, to one buyer but said it was willing to split up the business if it could raise more money that way.
"Today's announcement is the first major step in the divestment of our Asian insurance and investment management businesses and shows that ING continues to make steady progress in the restructuring of our company," said Jan Hommen, chief executive, in a statement.
Strong demand for Southeast Asia
ING's Southeast Asian operations attracted bidding interest due to the region's rapid growth potential. Life premiums in Malaysia are forecast to grow at 5.5% next year, compared with a world average of 3.7%, according to Swiss Re estimates.
The race to buy ING's Japan, Hong Kong and much smaller Thailand operations is still on, with Canada's Manulife Financial Corp and Hong Kong business tycoon Richard Li in the running, a source told Reuters earlier.
KB Financial Group is in advanced talks to buy ING's South Korean operations, sources have told Reuters.
AIA said the Malaysian deal, which is subject to regulatory approval, would boost its ranking in Malaysia to No 1 by total premiums.
"ING's business in Malaysia represents an excellent strategic fit with AIA where we already have a well-established and strong business and the ability to integrate ING's businesses with our own," AIA CEO Tucker said in a statement.
The deal would also strengthen AIA's bank distribution channel, an area analysts believe AIA needs to beef up. The acquisition will be funded through internal cash resources and debt financing, the statement said.
AIA also announced a 22% rise in its value of new business to US$300 million.
Last month, AIA agreed to buy British insurer Aviva Plc's Sri Lankan operations for US$109 million.
ING's Malaysia business sells life, general, and Islamic insurance products and has about 1,200 employees and over 1.6 million customers.
ING said it expects a net gain of about 780 million euros from the transaction, which is expected to close in the first quarter 2013.
AIA was advised by Deutsche Bank and Morgan Stanley, while Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan advised ING. Debevoise & Plimpton is AIA's financial adviser.
'Crony' contractor destroying mangroves
Posted: 10 Oct 2012 08:27 PM PDT
KUCHING: A contractor, once allegedly aligned to former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Chief Minister Taib Mahmud, has angered oppostion PKR here with his 'wanton and deliberate destruction" of a large area of swampland near Santubong.
Calling for stern action against the contractor, state PKR chief Baru Bian said: "We must not let the wanton and deliberate destruction of the little we have left goes unpunished.
"I suspect this contractor's modus operandi is to clear land as a pre-emptive strike whilst the project is still under study and consideration, and expects that the project will become fait accompli.
"The contractor is literally bulldozing his way through and the authorities are persuaded to approve the project as he has already started work.
"It must be made clear to him that this sort of behaviour is unacceptable and he must bear the consequences."
The clearance of the swamp is said to be connected to a proposed cable car project at Santubong, which is still under feasibility studies.
The project was proposed by the Sarawak Ministry of Tourism.
Bian, who is Ba' Kelalan assemblyman, however declined to name the contractor. But he said it was "common knowledge" in Kuching that the contractor was "once a crony" of Mahathir and Taib.
He however fell out of favour after Mahathir stepped down in October 2003.
"The contractor must be taken to task for this highly irresponsible and thoughtless act," Bian said, praising several ministers who have spoken against the illegal deduction of the mangrove swamp.
He said that to the contractor, the site might have just been a piece of swampland with the potential of making him millions but the mangrove is in fact one of the most critical and important of coastal vegetation types, which not only protected the coast from erosion but also acted as nursery and breeding grounds for fish and other marine organisms.
"Besides the crucial role of mangrove forests for marine lives, the mangrove is also the natural habitat of various animal lives such as the proboscis monkey, a protected species which only eats mangrove leaves.
"The mangrove forest or swamp has also been acknowledged to be an effective tsunami barrier," said Bian.
Bian pointed out that already a large area of the mangrove swamps had been destroyed and filled up for industrial development.
"Now we must do everything to preserve what little we have left, or else the fishing industry will suffer the consequences.
"The authorities are aware of the negative consequences of the destruction of our mangrove forests as evidenced by the implementation of remedial measures like the rehabilitation and restoration of coastal mangrove forests by the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry," he said.
Jeddah Shoos Shisha Smokers Out of Cafes
Posted: 10 Oct 2012 08:17 PM PDT
RIYADH: Smokers of the hubble-bubble water pipe have until Saturday to indulge their fondness for sweet flavored tobacco in Jeddah's cafes as the Saudi city prepares to enforce a public ban on the habit.
Owen Dived For Two Penalties Against Argentina in World Cups
Posted: 10 Oct 2012 08:09 PM PDT
LONDON: Former England international Michael Owen admitted he had fallen down when touched to win penalties when he could hav stayed on his feet but said he would never dive to win a penalty for any side, Reuters reported.
UN: Mali Extremists Abusing Rights, Targeting Children and Women
Posted: 10 Oct 2012 08:05 PM PDT
UNITED NATIONS: Extremists imposing Islamic law in Mali's north are abusing human rights, particularly those of women, and paying families for children to become rebel fighters, a senior UN official said yesterday after returning from the country.
14-year-old Sells Mom's Jewelries for Brothel Visits
Posted: 10 Oct 2012 08:17 PM PDT
BERLIN: A 14-year-old German teenager took his mother's jewelries worth between 2,000 and 3,000 euros ($2,500-$3,800) and pawned it for 300 euros ($380) to finance two trips to a brothel for himself and a friend, German police said on Wednesday.
Aeril Jawab Dakwaan Bersosial di Parti 'adik-adik'
Posted: 10 Oct 2012 07:30 PM PDT
Pelakon kacak Aeril Zafril berkata dia tahu mengenai gosip yang timbul mengatakan dia kononnya menghadiri satu acara acara sosial yang dihadiri golongan 'adik-adik' (golongan lelaki berkelakuan seperti perempuan) baru-baru ini dan hanya mampu tergelak.
German Undertaker Sues Dominatrix for Pain and Theft
Posted: 10 Oct 2012 08:20 PM PDT
BERLIN: A German court has ordered a dominatrix to pay 200 euros (162 pounds) to a local charity as a penance after a client accused her of hurting and robbing him.
Turkey Briefly Detains Syrian Plane as Tension Heightens
Posted: 10 Oct 2012 08:07 PM PDT
ISTANBUL: Turkey scrambled fighters and briefly detained a Syrian passenger plane on Wednesday, suspecting it of carrying military equipment from Moscow, while Turkey's military chief warned of a more forceful response if shelling continued to spill over the border.
Beauty Treatment Kills Hong Kong Woman, Three Ill
Posted: 10 Oct 2012 08:05 PM PDT
HONG KONG: A 46-year-old woman has died in Hong Kong and three others are fighting for their lives following a beauty parlor treatment that involves blood transfusion, highlighting a lack of regulation in the city's cosmetic industry.
Venezuela's Chavez Names Maduro Vice-President
Posted: 10 Oct 2012 08:07 PM PDT
CARACAS: Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez named former bus driver and current Foreign Minister Nicolas Maduro as his new vice president on Wednesday in the first cabinet change since his re-election on Sunday.
Ketua Cabang PKR Jempol terima ugutan
Posted: 10 Oct 2012 08:04 PM PDT
JEMPOL: Ketua Cabang PKR Jempol, Karip Mohd Salleh menerima satu SMS berbentuk ugutan semalam berhubung peranan beliau menganjurkan aktiviti ceramah di kawasan Felda Serting Hilir 5 di sini.
Menurut Karip, SMS tanpa nama yang diterima beliau pada pukul 07.32 pagi semalam, penghantar mesej yang hanya mahu dikenali sebagai kaum wanita memberi amaran kepada beliau bahawa tidak akan teragak-agak menghapuskannya, keluarga dan ternakan beliau.
"Penghantar SMS itu turut mahu saya menghentikan program ceramah yang dilabelkannya sebagai ceramah pembohongan; kalau saya mahu kelurga saya dan ternakan saya selamat.
"Penghantar SMS itu turut mengingatkan saya jangan selalu anjurkan siri ceramah di Serting Hilir kalau saya mahu selamat dan memberitahu bahawa kaum wanita tidak akan berubah dan berani memusnahkan saya," dakwa Karip.
Justeru itu Karip membuat satu laporan polis di Ibu Pejabat Polis Daerah Jempol di Bandar Baru Serting petang semalam.
"Saya cuba menghubungi nombor telefon individu yang menghantar SMS itu namun gagal kerana talian tersebut telah dimatikan.
"Saya berharap polis dapat siasat kes ini dengan serius dan tangkap individu yang menghantar SMS ini kerana menyebabkan keluarga saya berasa tidak selamat.
"Malaysia ini negara demokrasi dan bukan ini caranya untuk menzahirkan rasa tidak puas hati," ujar Karip.
SMS ini dihantar selepas PKR Jempol mengadakan 'Program Ceramah dan Artis Bersama Rakyat' di Felda Serting Hilir 5 pada malam Selasa yang turut dihadiri oleh bekas penyanyi popular 90an Wan Aishah Wan Ariffin atau lebih dikenali Aishah 'Janji Manismu' dan pelawak Leman Raja Lawak.
Berikut adalah kandungan penuh SMS tersebut tetapi telah diperbetulkan beberapa ejaan dan tatabahasa oleh FMT:
"Saudara Karip, awak saya ingatkan jangan selalu anjurkan Siri Ceramah di Serting Hilir ini kalau mahu selamat. Kami kaum wanita tidak akan berubah dan berani untuk memusnahkan kau. Kami tidak akan teragak-agak untuk menghapuskan kau, keluarga kau dan ternakan kau bila-bila masa sahaja. Jadi kami mahu awak hentikan ceramah pembohongan itu faham, kalau mahu keluarga kau selamat dan ternakan kau."
Asia's rich crave luxury hand-crafted cars from M'sia
Posted: 10 Oct 2012 07:53 PM PDT
KUALA LUMPUR: The global economic doldrums may have weighed on businesses around the world, but in Malaysia a luxury hand-crafted carmaker struggles to keep up with demand as orders pour in from China and the Middle East.
Some customers are willing to wait nearly two years for their Bufori vehicle, which costs anywhere from US$150,000-US$350,000 (RM461,830-RM1.1 million) and can contain unique touches at the buyer's request, ranging from built-in vaults to pearl-studded interiors.
One such customer is eHong Tan, a Malaysian green technology entrepreneur and tea connoisseur, who asked for her Bufori to be fitted with tea-making and aromatherapy features.
"I love drinking Chinese tea. The car allows me to make tea and drink it while I'm travelling," said Tan, adding that both are "unique and satisfying" creature comforts that she had always wanted.
The hefty price tag does little to dampen the car's popularity among Asia's rich, whose number of high net worth individuals overtook North America for the first time last year as wealth in Thailand and Indonesia surged almost 10%, according to the Asia-Pacific Wealth report.
Bufori's founder and managing director, Gerry Khouri (photo), said he first started the company in his native Australia in 1987, but decided to move to Malaysia in the early 90s when demand from the region began to jump.
In the past three years, orders for his Buforis, which he says is the only fully handmade car produced in Asia, have steadily risen 15%-20% each year.
"China and Middle East are probably our two biggest markets right now," said Khouri, adding that he also gets orders from Southeast Asian countries, Hong Kong, Japan and Europe.
"There's a lot of promise here – that's what brought us to Malaysia and kept us here," Khouri said.
The country hosts Bufori's only plant where customers can visit to see their cars being made. Showrooms are found in Sydney and Shanghai.
"The beautiful thing is I get to see it built from the beginning to end, like watching a baby growing up," said Tan.
Khouri, who built his first car in his backyard at only 21, says that while the Bufori kept its trademark classic designs, the cars' performance itself is "in a class of its own".
The Geneva, a four-door luxury limousine with elegant curves and a long running board, is powered by a 6.4-litre V8 engine boasting up to 470 horsepower and 630 Newton meters (Nm) of torque.
"These are exclusive, very elite. You've got to be very special to own one of these cars," he said.
But Khouri admits that the long waiting list can push some customers to competitors such as Bentley and Rolls Royce.
"These cars are made by hand. No machines – look around you, it's just people," he says, gesturing around the 50,000 sq ft (4,645 sq m) factory in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur where workers are busy fitting custom-made parts and moulding the Bufori's classic body.
Upstairs, in the upholstery and interior section, leather is cut and stitched by hand while engineers put together electronic controls.
"You can't speed up people like a machine," he added.
With around a hundred workers, the factory makes only 60 cars worldwide per annum – a fraction of its 300 target, with the limited workforce and the long hours it takes to complete a car dragging down production.
"Our problem is our demand exceeds our capacity. We're not in the situation where we can produce enough vehicles to meet the demand worldwide," says Khouri.
"It sounds like a crazy problem to have – but it's serious because we are losing sales everyday."
Khouri wants to set up more factories to speed up production but is wary, wanting to preserve the quality.
"Bufori cars are very labour-intensive and dependent on people. We might compromise the quality which is something we don't want to do," he added.
The Bufori La Joya coupe takes 3,500 man hours to complete while the Geneva saloon needs 9,000 man hours.
"That's ridiculous in the overall scheme of things. If you look at a mass producer carmaker, even 50 man hours is taking too much," says Khouri.
But customers who chose to be patient have no regrets.
"It is worth the wait," says Tan, whose car took 20 months to finish. "It's more than a car. To me, the Bufori is an art."