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Storm rattles Penang

NINE-HOUR thunderstorm hit the state yesterday, leaving one dead. Several areas were affected by floods and uprooted trees damaged property.

The bad weather is expected to continue over the next few days.

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It’s as if van Gaal never left

Roseberg regains title lead

SINGAPORE — Nico Rosberg led from pole to flag to win the Singapore Grand Prix yesterday and celebrate his 200th Formula One race by retaking the championship lead from Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton.

After a chaotic start that brought out a safety car on the opening lap, Rosberg stayed clear of a late charging Daniel Ricciardo in a Red Bull at the Marina Bay Street Circuit as Hamilton completed the podium in third place.

The result lifts Rosberg on to 273 points with six rounds remaining, eight clear of Hamilton with Ricciardo a distant third in the title race.

In other developments Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone warned he could walk away from the sport he’s turned into a global phenomenon if he doesn’t get his way under new owners Liberty Media.

In a Sky Sports interview aired yesterday, Ecclestone, 85, was characteristically blunt when quizzed on whether he could quit the sport under the new American regime.

“Thank God at the moment I don’t quite need the money, I don’t need a job and if by chance things aren’t going the way I think would be the right way then I will disappear for sure,” he said.

Under the new deal, which values Formula One at US$8 billion (RM33 billion), Ecclestone remains as chief executive but is joined by Chase Carey, the mustachioed vice chairman of 21st Century Fox.

“They’ve asked me to stay on in my position, Chase is going to be chairman. I’ve no idea what his ideas are. So we’ll see,” Ecclestone said.

Asked whether he might find it tough to work with Carey, Ecclestone said: “There is going to be no problem with Chase.

“He has got expertise I haven’t. We need to be in America, he knows America, he knows television and he can help us a lot. So I’m sure that is what is going to happen.” — AFP

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Penangites reel from storm havoc

GEORGE TOWN — Penang stood still yesterday as flash floods occurred in some parts of the island, some at knee-deep water levels.

Holidaymakers had their weekend plans disrupted as traffic jams also occurred in most parts of the city for about two hours.

At an oil palm plantation in Sungai Bakap, a 20-year-old Nepali worker was killed during the pre-dawn thunderstorm when an oil palm tree fell on his shack. A Fire and Rescue Department spokesman said they received a distress call at about 10.25am and dispatched a six-man team to the plantation.

He said the firemen found the victim pinned beneath the debris of the shack.

“We cut and removed the tree to allow the police forensic team to begin investigations,” he said, adding that the body was sent to Sungai Bakap Hospital for a post-mortem.

In Taman Lip Sin, Sungai Dua, an uprooted tree damaged seven cars when it fell on a covered car park.

The last major thunderstorm to strike Penang was in July.

In Bandar Air Itam, residents at high-rise apartments said they felt their homes ‘’shake’’ due to strong winds.

Sumaiyah Abdull Shukor, 32, who lives on the 39th floor of an apartment block, said she had never experienced such strong winds before.

“We might have strong winds before but they never shook the apartment building. I could feel it and the howling of the wind was scary,” she said.

Another resident, Lim Chee Lian, 44, said rainwater seeped into her house through the windows.

“I was afraid that something bad would happen but I am relieved that it did not last long,” she said.

The thunderstorm, which began at about 1am, caused traffic congestion in the city, including Lebuh Hutton, Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, Jalan Farquhar, Jalan Burmah and Jalan Penang. Low-lying Jalan P. Ramlee was hit by flash floods. The rain and strong winds stopped at about 8.40am.

Kassim Abdullah, 65, a retired government servant who has been living the area for the past 30 years, said flash floods in the area were common.

“We move our household items to a higher ground whenever there is heavy rain,” said Kassim.

“We were lucky as the water receded quickly as the water was knee-deep,” said Kassim.

His neighbour, housewife Siti Salmah Harun, 45, was also relieved that the flash flood did not do much damage.

“The low-lying area in our village is prone to flooding. We have no choice but to continue to live here as we are poor and cannot relocate to a safer area,” she said.

Siti added that her children had to save their books from getting wet as school reopens today.

The Meteorological Department forecast scattered and isolated thunderstorms this week on the island.

Malaysian Nature Society adviser D. Kanda Kumar said hill-clearing and development without proper planning for drainage have worsened the situation.

“Developers have to take the responsibility as they only build drains for that area,” he said.

“The poor people living around the project are affected if proper drainage is ignored.”

He said drains have not been upgraded to absorb bigger volume of rainwater.

“The area near Sungai Pinang is prone to flooding whenever there is heavy rain. Those living there should be relocated.

“The authorities should consider building houses either on raised platform or stilts.”

Sahabat Alam Malaysia president S.M. Mohamed Idris echoed similar sentiments and called on the authorities to review major drains and canals in the island.

“Although some flood mitigation projects have been carried out, more needs to be done for a comprehensive solution.

“The poor cannot afford to move to higher ground and become the victims.”

The water levels at the Air Itam and Teluk Bahang reservoirs rose sharply yesterday.

The Air Itam Dam water level was up the 90 per cent capacity while the Teluk Bahang Dam recorded 50 per cent capacity.

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29 injured as explosion rocks New York

NEW YORK — An explosion rocked the bustling Chelsea district of Manhattan on Saturday night, injuring at least 29 people in what authorities described as a deliberate, criminal act, while saying investigators turned up no evidence of a “terror connection”.

New York City mayor Bill de Blasio and other city officials said investigators had ruled out a gas leak as the cause of the blast, but they stopped short of calling it a bombing and declined to specify precisely what they believed may have triggered the explosion.

Neha Jain, 24, who lives in the neighbourhood, said she was sitting at home watching a movie when she heard a huge boom and everything shook.

“Pictures on my wall fell, the window curtain came flying as if there was a big gush of wind,” she said. “Then we could smell smoke. We went downstairs to see what happened, and firemen immediately told us to go back.”

Police said a sweep of the neighbourhood following the blast had turned up a possible “secondary device” four blocks away consisting of a pressure cooker with wires attached to it and connected to a cell phone.

CNN, citing law enforcement sources, reported a piece of paper with writing on it was found nearby.

Residents living nearby were advised to stay away from windows facing the street as a precaution, and the item was later safely moved to a police firing range for further examination, officer Christopher Pisano said.

Pressure cookers packed with explosives and detonated with timing devices were used by two Massachusetts brothers in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing that killed three people and wounded more than 260.

The latest blast came less than a week after law enforcement agencies around the country were on heightened alert for the 15th anniversary of the Sept 11, 2001, airline-hijacking attacks that killed nearly 3,000 Americans in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.

Remaining circumspect about the exact nature of the explosion in Chelsea, De Blasio said early indications were that it was “an intentional act”. He added the site of the blast, outside on a major thoroughfare in the fashionable lower West Side Manhattan neighbourhood, was being treated as a crime scene.

“There is no evidence at this point of a terror connection,” the mayor told a news conference about three hours after the blast. “There is no specific and credible threat against New York City at this point in time from any terror organisation.”

The mayor also said investigators did not believe there was any link to a pipe bomb that exploded on Saturday in the New Jersey beach town of Seaside Park. No injuries were reported in that blast, from a device planted in a plastic trash can along the route of a charity foot race.

But a US official said that a Joint Terrorism Task Force, an interagency group of federal, state and local officials, was called to investigate the Chelsea blast, suggesting authorities have not ruled out the possibility of a terror connection.

A joint task force also took the lead in investigating the New Jersey incident.

A law enforcement official said an initial investigation suggested the Chelsea explosion occurred in a dumpster. CNN cited law enforcement sources as saying they believed an improvised explosive device caused the blast.

President Barack Obama, attending a congressional dinner in Washington, “has been apprised of the explosion in New York City, the cause of which remains under investigation,” a White House official said.

New York City Fire Commissioner Daniel Nigro said 29 people were hurt in the blast, and 24 of them had been taken to hospitals, including one he described as seriously injured. The rest suffered various cuts, scrapes and other minor injuries, Nigro said.

The explosion, described by one neighbour as “deafening,” happened outside the Associated Blind Housing facility at 135 W. 23rd Street. The facility provides housing, training and other services for the blind.

Hundreds of people were seen fleeing down the block as police rushed to cordon off the area.

Tsi Tsi Mallett, who was driving along 23rd Street when the explosion took place, said the blast blew out her vehicle’s rear window. Her 10-year-old son in the back seat was unhurt, she said.

“It was really loud, it hurt my eardrums,” she said.

Even before the explosion, New York was tightening security for the start of this week’s UN General Assembly session, which is expected to bring 135 world leaders and dozens of foreign government ministers to the city.

The explosion quickly became an issue in the presidential race, with Republican candidate Donald Trump remarking about the explosion when he appeared at a Colorado rally.

“Just before I got off the plane, a bomb went off in New York, and nobody knows exactly what’s going on,” Trump said hours before New York officials spoke publicly about the blast.

“We better get very tough, folks.”

Democratic rival Hillary Clinton made a statement on her campaign plane on the ground in New York, saying she had been briefed on “the bombings in New York and New Jersey”. But she said she would wait until she had more information before commenting further. — Reuters

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Suspect shot dead 
after stabbing eight 
in Minnesota mall

WASHINGTON — A man making “some references to Allah” stabbed and injured eight people in a shopping mall in Minnesota on Saturday night, before being shot dead by an off-duty officer, police said.

The suspect “asked at least one person if they were Muslim before he assaulted them,” Blair Anderson, the police chief in the city of St Cloud where the attack took place, told journalists.

But he emphasised that the assailant’s motivation remained unclear and said “whether that was a terrorist attack or not, I’m not willing to say that right now because we just don’t know”.

The attack came as 29 people were injured in a deliberate explosion in a busy New York neighbourhood on Saturday. Mayor Bill de Blasio said there was no known link to terror at this stage.

Anderson said the armed suspect entered the Crossroads Center mall in St Cloud — a city of about 67,000 people some 110km northwest of Minneapolis — and attacked at least eight people.

The lone suspect was wearing a private security uniform and had at least one knife, and “made some references to Allah,” the police chief said.

“That suspect was confronted by an off-duty police officer and summarily shot and killed,” he said.

Anderson said the eight people injured were taken to hospital, where one is expected to remain.

The suspect had a history of minor traffic violations, Anderson said, adding police do not currently have reason to believe the attack was connected to any other incident.

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said she had been briefed about the Minnesota stabbing as well as Saturday’s explosions in New York and a pipe bomb blast hours earlier in a trash can in New Jersey in which no one was injured.

The St Cloud mall was put on lockdown in the aftermath of the attack, with local media reporting people were being allowed to leave late on Saturday. The facility will remain closed as police continue their investigation.

“It’s an awful day,” Anderson said. “Starting tomorrow things won’t be the same here.” — AFP

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Ministries should regulate prices

PETALING JAYA — Price increases of food products and other essential goods continue to see an upward trend almost every week leaving consumers puzzled as to whether this was due to profiteering or otherwise.

They hope it can be stabilised or properly regulated by the respective ministries.

You too can contribute your idea to Budget 2017 by visiting https://bajet2017.najibrazak.com and submit your views in catergories including cost of living, healthcare, housing and urban living, transportation and infratructure.

The following are what some are wishing for in Budget 2017

“The prices of goods are expensive, and the charges for services are too much for us Malaysians to bear.

“We belong to the lower income group and struggle to pay our bills on top of GST. I am a kiosk operator selling beauty accessories. There have been an increase of prices since GST. It used to be RM1.00 for bracelet now it’s RM2.00 a unit. If I sell it expensive, I won’t have customers visiting my shop. The selling of accessories depends on time, if there is a bigger crowd normally on public holidays, there will be buyers. I hope the government will consider abolishing the GST services.”

— Nalini Ammvasi, 40, kiosk operator, KL.

“The price for cooking oil, gas and even sugar is on the rise. House groceries are expensive, if we dine at restaurants it’s RM20 for two. We hope the government can reduce the price of house necessities. If our salaries are high obviously we won’t complain. Sugar used to be RM1.80 a packet now it’s RM2.50. I find it not worth paying so much. I hope next year the prices of groceries will come down, before GST was implemented we could buy a trolley full of essential supplies but now we can only buy a few things.”

— Mohd Firdaus Hamid, 25, Medical supplier, Subang Jaya.

“Our main concern is GST. Things like pampers, they charge GST. Is it fair? It’s RM34.00 for a big packet with GST charges it’s RM39.00. Second concern must be house prices which are getting higher and higher by the day. The price for an apartment in Klang Valley is going for RM200,000 to RM300,000. How can a RM1,500-RM2,000 earner afford owning a property? Must we rent a place for the rest of our lives?”

— Mohan Ramachandran, 34, Film Crew, KL.

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Test results on debris 
ready in three months

KUALA LUMPUR — The test results on four pieces of debris that could belong to the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, Flight MH370, are expected to be known in less than three months.

Transport Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the pieces of debris were found along the coastal areas of South Africa, Mozambique, Mauritius and Tanzania.

“We believe that soon, we will know the test results…just like on the piece found in Tanzania, which took two and a half months to ascertain whether it belonged to the (missing) aircraft,” he told reporters after opening the 3-on-3 basketball competition at Wisma MCA Jalan Ampang yesterday.

On Friday, Liow said 22 pieces of debris had so far been recovered from South Africa, Mozambique, Mauritius and Tanzania. Two were confirmed and four believed to almost certainly belong to the missing aircraft, while the rest were difficult to be identified as they have no serial numbers or other details on them.

Liow said the confirmed debris from MH370 were a flaperon found on Reunion Island in July, last year and a piece from the wing found on Pemba Island in Tanzanian waters this June.

Liow said the search for MH370 in the remaining area of 10,000 sq km was expected to be completed by the year-end.

Todate, the search effort covered 110,000 sq km of area in the southern Indian Ocean, off the west coast
of Australia.

Flight MH370 went missing on March 8, 2014 while en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, with 239 passengers and crew on board.

Meanwhile, Liow who is also MCA president, ticked off DAP Member of Parliament for Jelutong, Jeff Ooi over his remarks through his Twitter account, which showed disrespect to the death of PAS spiritual leader Datuk Dr Haron Din.

Ooi had written, “Adios Harun Din, let there be peace.”

Liow said Ooi should apologise to the family of the late Haron as his death should not be made a political ammunition.

“Although having a different political ideology, the late Haron had contributed to political development,” he said.

On the basketball tournament, Liow said it would be held nationwide from next year to foster unity among the youth.

About 250 teams participated in the competition this time.
— Bernama

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Dad’s humour kept me going, says star scientist

PETALING JAYA — Having lost her father last year after he supported her throughout her academic journey, scientist Lam Shu Jie wished he was around to witness her achievement.

“We still miss him a lot … and I wish he was around to share the joy with us,” the 25-year-old University of Melbourne PhD student said.

Shu Jie, who specialises in chemical and biomolecular engineering, said it has been a trying time for her and her family since her father’s death.

“His passing was quite sudden. I was in Australia at the time and flew back immediately,” she said.
“I took a three-month break to help settle some family matters. My mum, sister and I have supported each other well during this trying period. We also got a lot of help from friends and family.”

Her father, Dr Lam Pan Nam, was a paediatrician based in their hometown, Batu Pahat.

Shu Jie said he used to check on her regularly, especially when she was having trouble with her research projects.

“When I was doing animal testing for research, I had a lot of problems establishing the model. We had to get the bacteria infection model in mice ‘optimised’ even before we could start injecting the polymers,” she said.

“I couldn’t get that to work for a long time. My dad would call me regularly to ask how’s my mice doing. He was quite a humorous person. So when times were stressful, his jokes and humour always made things
seem better.”

Shu Jie made international headlines last week when she came up with a significant scientific discovery — a possible substitute to antibiotics.

She developed a chain of unique tiny star-shaped polymer structures made from short chains that were able to destroy antibiotic-resistant bacteria, known as superbugs, without hurting the good cells.

Her mother, Seet Poh Chou, 59, said there has been a cloud of sorrow since her husband’s demise.

“He was a paediatrician so he understood Shu Jie’s research and all she was doing. She shared a lot with him and he encouraged her,” Seet told Malay Mail.

“They connected on their mutual academic interests and he was also experienced in the laboratory. Each time she came back (from Melbourne), he would bring her out to supper.”

She said her husband used “supper” as an excuse to spend more time with her.

“She thought it was because he liked to eat, that’s why he brought her out for supper often, but he wanted to spend more time with her. He wanted to talk to her and learn about what she was doing.”

Seet said Shu Jie was a quiet and disciplined girl when she was growing up.

“I didn’t need to tell her to study, she would prepare all the exercise books by herself,” she said.

“She also skipped Standard Four in primary school.”

Seet said she made it a point to take Shu Jie to a bookshop just after she was done with her examinations because she loved to read.

“I would bring her to the bookshop so she could free her mind after studying,” she said.

Malaysians heap praises on Batu Pahat girl

PETALING JAYA — Malaysians were quick to express their pride over the achievement of Batu Pahat-born PhD student Lam Shu Jie after she made headlines with her discovery of an alternative to antibiotics.

Penggaram assemblyman Gan Peck Cheng said as the people’s representative in Batu Pahat, she felt proud that Shu Jie was capable of a world-class achievement.

“It’s amazing how she has put Malaysia, especially Batu Pahat, in the eyes of the world,” she said.
“This is also a step forward for the children of Johor, proving that we can make a difference if we are willing to work hard. People should look up to her as an example.”

Deputy Education Minister Datuk P. Kamalanathan said he was “immensely proud of this Malaysian girl”.

“This also proves that the Malaysian education system has the potential to create world beaters and scientists that have the potential to reshape the way science and medicine is practised,” he told Malay Mail.

Social media was also buzzing over Shu Jie’s achievement, with people sharing articles on her on Facebook and Twitter, expressing pride while congratulating her.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh posted on Twitter: “No doubt Malaysians can be at the forefront of medical research. Wishing this young Malaysian scientist and team the best!”

Sarawakian philanthropist Datuk Seri Ang Lai Soon said on Facebook: “I think it is very likely that a 25-year-old Malaysian Chinese girl will eventually be awarded a Nobel Prize for her incredible research that may lead to solving the superbug problem. When that happens, thousands of lives and billions of dollars can be saved. People everywhere will be grateful to you Shu Jie!”

Facebook user Dennis Tan said: “Congratulations on your discovery and your breakthrough is a medical milestone and it will help many people.”

Another user, Wilson Miranda, said: “Something Malaysians can be proud of! One of the very few Malaysians who made headlines for the right reasons — positive endeavour! May your hard work turn this ‘possibility’ into ‘reality’.”

Twitter user Anwar Ahmadabidin, who uses the handle @xanwara, said: “I admire this lovely and smart Malaysian girl.”

Zim Ahmadi, from the handle @ZimAhmadi, said: “Go Shu Jie! May your findings pass all tests and be readily accessible because it could probably help save the world!”

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