Thursday, 28 October 2010


I FEEL for her. Really. Her husband passed away suddenly only on Oct 9. In my Kadazandusun culture, she would still be in mourning. All the best Linda.


“I have had my moment of tears. Especially when I am on my own. Of course... I still miss my husband,” she told The Malaysian Insider during lunch after a hectic walkabout session in Bandar Ramai-Ramai here.

In a halting voice, the 54-year-old explained that she has had to deal with two deaths in the family this year, the first being that of her father, who died in June at the age of 92.

“It has been challenging... a new chapter in my life. Suddenly, I have to stand on my own two feet and I have to stay strong for my four kids,” she said. READ MORE HERE

Tuesday, 26 October 2010


THIS is the first by-election in Sabah. Will be interesting to see the result. We just have to wait and see. I take this opportunity to say, I knew the late Datuk Edmund Chong. There were times when I sat next to him on the plane in the 6.05am flight from Kota Kinabalu to Kuala Lumpur, usually on Mondays. I was also with him when my boss was chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on Integrity. May he rest in peace.


SANDAKAN, Oct 26 (Bernama) -- As expected, the Batu Sapi by-election will see a three-cornered fight involving Barisan Nasional (BN), Sabah-based opposition party Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR).
BN's Datin Linda Tsen Thau Lin of Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) is up against SAPP president Datuk Yong Teck Lee, who is a former Sabah chief minister, and PKR Tuaran division chief and prominent lawyer Ansari Abdullah.
The list of candidates was announced by returning officer Mohamad Hamsan Awang Supain, who is also the Sandakan Municipal Council secretary, at the nomination centre, Sandakan Community Hall.
Mohamad Hamsan accepted the papers of all three candidates as there were no issues raised during the one-hour objection period.
Ansari was the first to arrive at the nomination centre and handed in his nomination papers at 9.08am, followed by Yong at 9.09am and Linda Tsen three minutes later.
About one thousand supporters from all parties gathered in this coastal town since sunrise before going to the nomination centre.
They were shouting slogans but maintained discipline.
Earlier, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman led the BN supporters and Tsen to the nomination centre.
Also present were PBS president Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan, MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek, MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, PPP president Datuk M. Kayveas and other representatives of BN component parties.
The PKR camp was led by its president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Ismail, DAP deputy chairman Dr Tan Seng Giaw and PAS secretary-general Datuk Mustafa Ali, while Yong, the SAPP candidate, led a small group of supporters.
Tsen when later approached by reporters, pledged that if she is chosen, she would work hard and do her best to carry on the good work of BN.
Yong, meanwhile, praised the Election Commission for handling the nomination process smoothly.
"We thank the Election Commission and its officers for all the preparations made. There were no problems and no objections.
"As for our campaign, we will highlight issues such as unemployment, poverty, land, rising cost of goods and empty promises made (by the government)...We will change all that to return honour and autonomy to the people of Sabah through Batu Sapi," he said.
Ansari said the Batu Sapi contest was a chance for PKR to have a member of parliament from Sabah, adding that his campaign would also focus on the issue of poverty of the Bumiputeras here.
He also claimed that SAPP is "not a real opposition party, but an 'independent' party".
The Batu Sapi parliamentary seat fell vacant following the death of its incumbent and two-term MP, Datuk Edmund Chong, in a road accident on Oct 9.
Chong won the seat in the 2008 general election by a 3,708-vote majority, defeating independent candidate Dr Chung Kong Wing.
Chong polled 9,479 votes against Dr Chung's 5,771. He won the same seat in the 2004 general election unopposed.
Batu Sapi has 25,582 voters, of whom 24,047 are ordinary voters and 1,535 postal voters.
Muslim Bumuiputeras comprise 15,099 or 59.02 per cent of the voters, non-Muslim Bumiputeras 689 (2.69 per cent), Chinese 9,737 (38.06 per cent) and others, 57 (0.22 per cent).-- BERNAMA

THE Galas state by-election in Kelantan will also be held Nov 4. MORE HERE

Wednesday, 13 October 2010


HOW would I be after spending 69 days in a cramped, dark, always-in-danger mine some 700 meters underground?
I have been following this story whenever I could. And like a sponge near water, I tried to absorb as much as I possibly could. The lesson, is, put simply, beyond words. It is a miracle. Yes, a miracle. A mysterious grace meant to touch our lives. Praise God. And congrats to the world, especially the Chilean government. And the 33 miracles......

Chile mine rescue

By Juan Forero and Jonathan Franklin
Wednesday, October 13, 2010; 6:45 AM

SAN JOSE MINE, CHILE - After 10 weeks in a dark, hot purgatory 2,000 feet underground, the first of 33 trapped miners were hoisted to freedom early Wednesday, a rescue marking the beginning of the end of a drama that captivated people worldwide.

The rescue operation continued at a steady pace of about one miner per hour, with eight men brought safely to the surface so far, each emerging to cheers of "Chi! Chi! Chi! Le! Le! Le!" -- the country's name. The operation to free all 33 miners could last until Thursday.

Florencio Avalos, 31, emerged in the cold of Chile's northern Atacama Desert just after midnight Wednesday (11 p.m. Eastern time Tuesday), 69 days after he and his fellow miners were sealed in a cavern. They were trapped Aug. 5 when hundreds of thousands of tons of rocks collapsed on the gold and copper mine.

A specially designed rescue capsule, sporting the Chilean flag and shaped like a missile, maneuvered deep into the Earth down a 28-inch-wide emergency shaft and extricated Avalos. He was welcomed back to the surface with spirited cheers and tearful hugs before medical personnel led him away for a checkup.

The capsule, meanwhile, was quickly sent back down to bring out Mario Sepulveda, 40, whose whoops of joy could be heard even before the capsule broke the surface. Once freed, Sepulveda exubrantly handed out souvenir rocks he brought up with him in a yellow satchel, even giving one to Chilean President Sebastian Pinera.

"I think I had extraordinary luck," Sepulveda later told reporters. "I was with God and with the devil - and God took me."

Among the other rescued miners was the youngest -- 19-year-old Jimmy Sanchez, who hugged his waiting father -- and a Bolivian, Carlos Mamani, who shouted, "Gracias, Chile!" when he emerged from the escape capsule.

The plight of the miners has gripped this country of 17 million, and the dramatic nighttime rescue of Avalos played out on national television. The government carefully choreographed several facets, including Pinera's pep talk to rescue planners and the singing of the national anthem.

"We made a promise to never surrender, and we kept it," Pinera said as he waited to welcome the miners.

The government also provided a televised feed of events at both ends of the rescue shaft that was seen worldwide.

The rescue drew scores of people Tuesday night to the Chilean Embassy in the District. High hopes mixed with anxiety as the crowd watched live coverage from a Chilean network on a jumbo television screen, and they celebrated Avalos's arrival with an eruption of cheers and the popping of champagne corks.

The 33 men are believed to have survived longer underground than anyone else in the history of mining accidents.

"All Chileans are with you, and may God be with you," Pinera told rescuer Manuel Gonzalez moments before he entered the capsule and went deep underground. "And may you bring us the miners."

When Gonzalez reached the cavern 18 minutes later, he hugged several of the miners and then helped Avalos fit into the capsule. A winch then pulled Avalos on his bumpy, claustrophobic journey to the surface.

Every step of the operation had been meticulously planned, from the engineering that went into the construction of the rescue capsule to Tuesday's tests of the winch.

The miners had been given a special diet to help prevent their becoming nauseated on the way up. After weeks in the sweltering mine, they were also expected to wear sweaters for their reentry into the world above; temperatures in the Atacama Desert can drop close to freezing at night.

Rescue planners chose Avalos to go first after careful consideration. An expert miner used to working in tight places, he was considered fit of body and mind and thus seen as capable of dealing with any unforeseen problems, such as the capsule becoming lodged in the rescue shaft.

The three miners picked to follow Avalos to the surface are also considered capable of handling difficulties on the way up. The next group includes those who are weaker, older and suffering from a range of ailments. The final group of miners, like those who led off the rescue, are also strong and able.

The last miner to be raised is scheduled to be Luis Urzua, 54, shift chief when the mine collapsed and a steady leader for the other miners.

Speaking by phone from the mine Tuesday morning, Urzua reflected on the saga, carefully choosing his words to describe what it was like for such a large group to be imprisoned in such tight quarters for so long. "This was a group with different personalities and manners of being," he said.

"We have had a stage here in our lives that we never planned for," said Urzua, who has been mining for three decades. "I hope to never live again like this, but that's the life of a miner."

Taking charge after the collapse, Urzua rationed food, giving each miner one spoonful of tuna every 48 hours during their first 17 days trapped underground. He also kept order, something that NASA specialists who have been monitoring the crisis say was vital to keeping up morale and preventing discord.

"We had to be strong," Urzua said. "All the workers in the mine fulfilled their roles."

One miner became the spokesman to the outside world, for instance, while others provided comic relief for their comrades and still others simply showed fortitude for their less experienced colleagues.

Asked about the dangers of mining, particularly at this copper and gold deposit, Urzua said he and the others knew of the hazards. "We always say that when you go into the mine, you respect the mine and hope you get out," he said.

'We knew they were alive'

The miners' lifeline to the outside world since late August has been a tube no wider than an orange, through which they have been able to converse with rescuers and family members by telephone. They have received necessities such as medicine and food but also personal items to pass the time, such as music.

"They think this is room service," quipped Jean Romagnoli, a doctor who has been monitoring the miners' health through special straps that track their heart rate and blood pressure.

The miners have been told how their saga mobilized a battalion of rescue planners, medical authorities, mining executives and even NASA engineers, who helped troubleshoot some of the equipment the Chileans designed for the rescue.

Mining expertise permitted rescuers to drill a bore hole 17 days after the mine collapsed that reached the space where the miners had been trapped. Rescue workers on the surface heard a faint clanging on the drill bit.

"It was like they were hitting it with a spoon," said Eduardo Hurtado, who operated the machine that enabled rescuers to make that first contact with the miners. "Then a far stronger clanging came up. We knew they were alive."

Then on Saturday, another drill finished chewing through hundreds of feet of rock, creating a wider shaft. That hole is only about the diameter of a bicycle tire but is big enough for the capsule designed to hoist the men up, one by one.

The capsule rises at a rate of about a yard per second, bumping against the sides of the tunnel. A camera on the vessel allows doctors on the surface to monitor how each miner reacts as he is being raised. Rescue planners were also to be in constant radio contact with the men as they made their way up.

Those waiting on the surface include medical teams that will quickly examine the miners before they are airlifted to a hospital in Copiapo, a town nearby.

Preparing for exit

In their final hours underground, the miners tried to wash up and comb their hair to appear presentable. Special clothes, tailored to each man, were sent down. Some of the miners gathered a few rocks to take with them, a memento from the place they called home for more than two months.

Richard Villaroel, 26, said by phone that he was excited about reuniting with his wife, who is expecting a baby this week. "I didn't sleep at all last night," he said. "I couldn't."

Up in Camp Hope, where the miners' families have lived for weeks as authorities methodically planned the rescue, loved ones could hardly contain themselves as word spread that the operation was about to begin.

"I feel anxious," said Olga Carmona, 36, the niece of Mario Gomez, 63, the eldest miner. "We have waited all these weeks, so it's just hours away, but it is eternal."

Belgica Ramirez, Gomez's sister-in-law, said she could imagine how they will all want to embrace. "We will just hug him and cry," she said. "Then we plan to do a cookout and celebrate."

Franklin is a special correspondent. Staff writer Mary Pat Flaherty contributed to this report from Washington.

MORE STORY HERE about miner's encounter with God and the devil