Wednesday, 2 April 2014

ESSCOM should be replaced with Border Patrol Unit

THE fact that another intrusion took place in Sabah on Wednesday only highlights the ineffectiveness of the Eastern Sabah Security Command (ESSCOM).

A Chinese tourists and a Philippine hotel worker were abducted by gunmen at the Singamata Reef Resort, which is an authorized PADI 5-star instructor development dive resort in Semporna.

This incident, which is the latest in the long line of kidnappings targeting foreigners for large ransom, comes barely four months after a Taiwanese tourist was kidnapped and her husband killed by gunmen in the Pom Pomp island resort.

Despite millions poured into the setting up of ESSCOM, something is clearly not right in the East Coast of Sabah.

Set up in March 2013 following the Lahad Datu incursion by armed Sulu militants, ESSCOM was aimed at strengthening maritime security and to prevent terrorist activity in the waters off Sabah

This incident calls for an urgent review of ESSCOM’s Standard Operating Procedure and perhaps, ESSCOM should be replaced with a BORDER PATROL UNIT.

Sabah can learn from various countries that have effective Border Patrol units monitoring borders and seafront measuring thousands of kilometers.

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Sabotage behind Sabah power blackout?

The recent power blackout in Sabah raises several pertinent questions.

 First of all, this type of power blackout is not uncommon in many parts of the world and is known as the cascading failure of power grids or power cascading.

For example, under certain conditions a large power grid can collapse after the failure of a single transformer.

Cascading failure causes power outages and plunges many cities around the world into darkness from time to time.

Some of the major incidences occurred in:

Northeast America in 1965
Southern Brazil in 1999
Italy in 2003
Northeast America in 2003 (2nd major outage)
London in 2003
Northern India in 2012

So, this is not a problem that happened only in Sabah.

But why is it happening frequently? That’s the question that must be answered.

 On 25 Jan 2012: A massive blackout in Sabah and Labuan when a main substation tripped in Beaufort. More than 100,000 people affected.

On 1 May 2012: Pre-dawn fire by explosion at Penampang power distribution centre. Some 500,000 people affected.

On 5 Dec 2012: Generator Malfunction at power plant in Sepanggar. Factories and industrial outlets affected.

On 25 Sept 2013: A series of incidents at 3 major power stations cripple electricity supply. More than 500,000 people affected.

On 17 Jan 2014: Massive blackout occurs and affects more than 500,000 people. 

The press today quoted Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Dr Maximus Johnity Ongkili as saying that based on preliminary findings by Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd engineers, the blackout should not have happened.

He has directed Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) and the Energy Commission (EC) to carry out an immediate probe.

Now, could this possibly be an act of sabotage?

Since 2012, the State Government has instructed Sabah Electricity to take all necessary precautionary measures to prevent similar incidences.

There was a SOP that determined ways in which power blackouts could be prevented.

But despite all necessary measures in place, the incident took place, leaving the state authorities and power company executives scratching their heads.

To leave no stones unturned, one must look into the stories of the past concerning the issue of power generation in Sabah.

In 2011, the State Government cancelled a RM1.3 billion coal-fired power plant in Lahad Datu following widespread protests.

The Government did this after listening to various groups, residents, NGOs and all kinds of so-called groups advocating environmental issues but actually backed by Opposition parties.

Now, what is wrong with coal?

Coal has long been the biggest source of electricity in the United States. As of to date, around 35% of electricity is generated in United States using coal.

If coal was a terrible choice for generating power as claimed by Malaysian Opposition-backed NGOs, then why would US, with its stringent environmental policies, use coal?  

TNB generates electricity at its Manjung power plant in Perak and a few other stations using coal. It is also building two more coal-fired 1000MW power plants in Manjung to meet increasing demands.

 On one side, the NGOs linked to Opposition parties are objecting the construction of a coal-power plant and on the other hand, are condemning the authorities for power supply problems.

These NGOs are pushing for natural gas powered power plants but that is also a non-renewable energy source (fossil fuel) and in today’s market condition, gas prices are rising sharply and cost significantly more than coal.

Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Hj Aman was recently quoted as saying that the government was looking into new renewable energy derived from wind, solar and geothermal as future energy sources for Sabah.

The state is already building a RM500 million geothermal power plant in Apas Kiri, Tawau and is the first of its kind in Malaysia.

The State Government, under Musa, has bend backwards to accommodate the requests of the people.

But the world over, coal is still king in power generation.

It advantages include its reliability, affordability, abundance, known technologies, safety, and efficiency.

One of the greatest advantages of coal fired plants is reliability.

Coal’s ability to supply power during peak power demand either as base power or as off-peak power is greatly valued as a power plant fuel.

It is with this fact that advanced pulverized coal fired power plants are designed to support the grid system in avoiding blackouts.

Energy produced from coal fired plants is cheaper and more affordable than other energy sources.

Since coal is abundant, it is definitely cheap to produce power using this fuel. Moreover, it is not expensive to extract and mine from coal deposits.

Consequently, its price remains low compared to other fuel and energy sources.

There are approximately over 300 years of economic coal deposits still accessible.

With this great amount of coal available for use, coal fired plants can be continuously fueled in many years to come.

The production and use of coal as a fuel are well understood, and the technology required in producing it is constantly advancing.

Moreover, coal-mining techniques are continuously enhanced to ensure that there is a constant supply of coal for the production of power and energy.

Generally, coal fired plants are considered safer than nuclear power plants. A coal power plant's failure is certainly not likely to cause catastrophic events such as a nuclear meltdown would.

A coal power plant still remains as a cheaper alternative for Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB).

This brings us back to issues of sabotage and ‘sly fox’ tactics deployed by the Opposition to whack the state government in the wake of this power blackout.

First, the Opposition cried foul over the planned Lahad Datu coal power plant.

Then when Sabah is struggling to find a solution for its energy problems, they run down the state government for failing to find a solution to its power woes.


Monday, 13 January 2014

Diversion, trial run or act of mischief by street gangs?

There seems to be a continuous attempt by some groups to create chaos in Sabah.

Beginning with the attack by Sulu gunmen in February last year, things have somewhat never been the same when it comes to security.

Then there was the kidnapping of a Taiwanese tourist and the killing of her husband in Pom Pom island resort end of last year.
Then in the wee hours of Saturday, a group of men which the police identified as 'youths' armed with airguns fired ball bearings, causing damages to glass panels and buildings around KK, Penampang, Luyang and Inanam.
Banks, fast food restaurants, a hotel and other business offices were the target of the youths who shattered glass panels and windows, spooking residents who feared it may be an attack by terrorists.
Police have so far ruled out acts of terrorism.
This begs the question…was Saturday’s incident a plain act of mischief by rowdy youths or was it a diversion (to make security forces look the other way) or some kind of a trial run for a future crime.

Or was it the work of a group of street thugs in a turf war over protection money or illegal

Judging from the effects of the Saturday incident, there was widespread panic among residents in KK and affected areas.
The 'tremors' were felt throughout the state.

So what is it going to be next?

Friday, 27 December 2013

The Forest Keeper

Despite whatever that has been said and written about Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman in the past, he certainly seems to have done some things right.
Sometimes, you have to give credit to a man when he deserves it.

A source disclosed to Sabah Ground Zero that a foreign-based publishing house is coming up with a book on the CM and his efforts to preserve nature.

The title of the book is 'The Forest Keeper' and it goes on to say 'an untold story of Musa Aman the conservationist'.
Nature lovers and conservationists might want to read it once its out.

The pix below is the cover of the book.

It seems that the publisher is keeping mum on details of the book, which is believed to be over 100 pages and is due to be out early 2014.


Sunday, 24 November 2013

From Pom Pom to Washington...

THE sheer scale of America’s surveillance capabilities is remarkable.

The U.S. and its allies Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand jointly participate in a spy group called the "Five Eyes" network.
Australia backs Washington by keeping tabs on Asian countries.

Many dirty secrets of the Five Eyes’ spying activities (some of it very crass in nature) have surfaced in the public, thanks to the damning disclosures of whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The Huffington Post has an article on the Five Eyes network and its link is here:
The murder of a Taiwanese businessman and the kidnapping of his wife in the idyllic island of Pom Pom on Nov 15 is how the story of Sabah gets from bad to worse.

Security breaches, kidnappings, killings and etc will continue to occur in our shores.

Unraveling this latest incident on the early hours of Nov 15 could lead all the way to Washington.
This incident emphasizes a strong need for our security forces to wake up and understand the game being played out by the world’s superpower and its Five Eyes network.

There is a gross lack of intelligence on our side and this has proved to be our Archilles’ heel.
We lose a lot of ground when we do not know who we are facing and what we are putting up with.

Despite setting up ESSCOM and ESSZONE with enhanced security and advanced mechanism to combat terrorism, we suffer yet another serious security breach similar to the Sulu Army intrusion last February.
At the crime scene at Pom Pom Island Resort and Spa, police found two 5.56mm and two 6.62mm spent casings and these are cartridges used in heavy assault rifles such as M-16 and AR-66.

The 5.56mm rounds are widely used by NATO safekeeping forces and also by the US special force.
In the U.S-led war against Iraq in 2003, 46 million 5.56 mm rounds, 30 million 6.62 mm and 60 million .50 caliber rounds were used, according to U.S. Army records published by the National Defense Magazine.

Abu Sayyaf, which is being blamed for the incident, has access to a large cache of these assault rifles, rocket launchers and handguns.

Interestingly, the Star newspaper first carried an article on a group of obnoxious and rude Caucasians working as dive masters and managers of these resorts.

The Star labeled them as White Rajahs and highlighted how they tried stopping journalists and policemen from entering the resorts, and one of them yelled vulgarities at a female journalist who went near the resort in the aftermath of the incident.

A lot of answers can be found if our security forces are brave enough to round up every single of these Caucasians working in dozens of private resorts and diving locations in Sabah and carry out background checks on each of them.

By doing this, we might incur the wrath of the very nations spying on us but at least we would have passed them the message that we know what they are up to in our backyards.

In Bali, the U.S. has agents just lazing around as beach bums; in Philippines, there are a dozen agents living in Manila and Angeles City, and in Thailand, you will be surprised to find them running a bar in downtown Bangkok and living with a Thai wife.

The U.S also has a team of highly skilled soldiers in Southern Philippines to help train local troops in their ongoing fight against Abu Sayyaf. This matter has been widely reported in the press so a simple Google search will point one to the right articles.

The truth is often overlooked in a sea of lies and mischaracterizations.

The truth is that the United States comes up with a lot of bullshit to cover up the only activity it intends to pursue - spying.

How effectively could the U.S, which lost the Vietnam War, train local troops in Philippines to fight Abu Sayyaf?

Or is the Abu Sayyaf group being manipulated to carry out attacks on countries such as Malaysia?

One can never trust what the U.S is up to.

And why all this is happening?

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said in a 2008 report that the South China Sea has potential oil reserves of more than 213 billion barrels, larger than all the oil left in the Middle East.

And China is spoiling the party by claiming exclusive rights to virtually all of the South China Sea, including its vast reserves of oil, gas and ocean resources.