Education blueprints to stay

May 23rd, 2018

PUTRAJAYA: The new government will continue to implement the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 and the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015-2025 (Higher Education).

However, Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said there will be periodic mid-term reviews on all activities and programmes in the blueprints.

“These evaluations are part of efforts to strengthen the implementation of both blueprints and ensure they are understood by all stakeholders,” he said after clocking in for the first time at the Education Ministry.

After clocking in, he immediately proceeded to meet the heads of all the ministry’s departments and sections

He also said the ministry is going to focus on getting those at school and university levels to understand what has been planned in the blueprints.

“Everything that has been planned can only go well if they (stakeholders) are involved,” said Dr Maszlee.

He added that he will hold meetings with the stakeholders to ensure their reactions and aspirations are in line with the ministry’s efforts.

He also said the Pakatan Harapan government is committed to making national schools the “best choice for the rakyat”.

He said his team would also work towards ensuring teachers have a successful career.

“The Government wants to conduct a detailed evaluation of various issues affecting the (teaching) profession including teachers’ workload,” he added.

Dr Maszlee is the 19th Education Minister and will helm the newly merged Education Ministry and Higher Education Ministry.

The ministries were split in 2015 when former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak carried out a Cabinet reshuffle.

“My team and I will do our best to manage this change (merging the ministries) and I trust that the team understands their needs and abilities in understanding their respective roles,” he said.

“To me, this merging (of ministries) can strengthen the development of Malaysia’s education sector because we need to look at the long term when addressing education issues,” he added.

Dr Maszlee also thanked his predecessor Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid for his efforts to raise the standard of the education system based on the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025.

Mahdzir could not be present at the event as his mother is seriously ill.

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Consumer body – apply spirit in consumerism

May 23rd, 2018

KOTA KINABALU: Consumers in the state should take a cue from the recently-concluded 14th general election, and muster the same spirit of unity and courage towards developing a stronger consumerism spirit, said Consumers Front of Sabah (CFOS).

“We Malaysians have shown our power as voters; that’s exactly how we as consumers should unite and show our ‘power’. If we adopt the same attitude and put the same effort on consumerism, we can be as powerful as consumers,” said CFOS secretary-general Hashima Hasbullah Yahya alluding to countries like United Kingdom and Sutralia, where governments take consumerism issues seriously.

She noted from her experiences in dealing with consumer issues that consumers in the state were meek and disunited, often allowing albeit unwittingly the unscrupulous traders to get away.

“And that’s especially frustrating for us in CFOS who have been working hard to gather the necessary evidences to act against the traders in question as, the complainants fear that there will be repercussion and were unwilling to proceed to the next course of action,” she lamented.

She said in a statement here while welcoming the recent announcement by the Finance Ministry that the Goods and Services Tax (GST) will be reduced from 6% to 0% beginning next month.

GST, introduced three years ago, has been blamed for the rising cost of living, and is speculated to be one of the factors that contributed to the defeat of the Barisan Nasional government. It raised about RM45billion in 2017.

“CFOS believe by this adjustment, it will effectively lower prices of goods and services. In our opinion, it may take between 6 months to 1 year to see the positive effect of the adjustment.

“CFOS urges consumers to be more attentive of the prices of goods and services from now onwards. Please take a snapshot of all the displayed price tags of goods displayed at all the shopping malls, supermarkets, retail outlets, restaurants, and hawkers centres that we frequently patronized, for record, so that we can later compare the prices and act accordingly, after the new ruling on GST comes into force on June 1.”


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Time to declare South China Sea a zone of peace

May 22nd, 2018
These platforms as well as negotiations to craft a Code of Conduct all play a part in efforts to restrain Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea.

ASEAN member states have been pursuing a strategy based largely on soft balancing and diplomatic engagement towards China for over three decades. The soft balancing makes use of institutional mechanisms such as the Asean Regional Forum, the East Asia Summit, and the Asean Defence Ministers’ Meeting Plus. These platforms as well as negotiations to craft a Code of Conduct all play a part in efforts to restrain Chinese expansionism in the South China Sea.

Soft balancing refers to the restraint of a threatening power using institutions, limited ententes and economic sanctions to delegitimise its policies. Hard balancing is based on military power and formal alliances to deal with such a state.

In recent years, however, fears have been expressed about the inability of such soft balancing efforts to produce concrete results, especially at a time when Asean members are increasingly divided, with some even possibly pursuing soft bandwagoning (i.e. not actively opposing expansionism while reaping economic benefits) vis-a-vis China.

The question then is what the future of soft balancing is when pursued by using institutional mechanisms and limited ententes or informal alliances in restraining China and, to some extent, the US from generating aggressive policies in the region. Is it time to make a bold move to declare the South China Sea a zone of peace under United Nations auspices and encouraging China and the US to respect peace and tranquility in this theatre, with binding confidence-building measures and arms control commitments?

The challenges Asean faces in its soft balancing efforts are many.

First, the structural constraints: The international system is currently going through a reconfiguration. The end of the Cold War produced a brief period of near-unipolarity in which the US emerged as an uncontested military and economic leader. But the 2008-09 financial crisis undermined that dominance. As the US-led order continues to fray, China’s economic power and influence have grown.

In terms of military might, China still lags behind US. Instead, Beijing is adroitly using asymmetric strategies including island building and base acquisitions and more importantly, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

The second challenge is institutional. The golden years of international institutions are the first 20-30 years of their founding. The original sense of unity of purpose will begin to dissipate as the institutions come of age. The threat environment begins to change and fatigue tends to develop among member states.

In this regard Asean has been fairly successful, but today it faces a multitude of challenges making the old rules based on consensus insufficient to deal with them

The third set of constraints come from the changing strategies of China. Unlike previous rising powers, Germany and Japan in particular, China has resorted to an indirect strategy. Although called “peaceful rise” and later “peaceful development”, the strategies of building small islets in the South China Sea and limited naval expansion into the Indian Ocean have not been felt as threatening to state security as direct massive expansion by previous rising powers.

The BRI is an indirect strategy for expansion. This interlocking of smaller states into a trading and investment system offers China hegemony without obtaining military dominance. This is China’s version of the East India Company of the colonial era, adapted to the times.

The lack of alternative sources of investment, especially for infrastructure projects, has made many Asian and African states turn to China. All Asean states are members of the BRI, even though some are benefiting more than others. This means that they have little interest to rock the boat. A failure of the BRI may turn states against China, but this is far from certain at this point. Active hard balancing, relying on formal alliances and military buildups, seems improbable as the economic conditions remain in favour of China in the foreseeable future.

So, what is left by way of strategy? Despite its limitations, soft balancing through existing Asean institutions and limited alignments seems a better option than doing nothing or resorting to hard balancing. However, adding a new approach, that is, declaring the South China Sea as a zone of peace, under UN auspices, and encouraging the great powers to sign protocols respecting such a zone may have long-term value.

This will be a broadening of the aspirational declaration signed in November 1971 by Asean foreign ministers which called on all powers to respect Southeast Asia as a Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality (ZOPAN). In this case, the main focus will be the South China Sea where great power competition has become intense in recent years.

A code of conduct for the South China Sea is important but it could be part of a larger zone of peace idea so that other parameters can be developed to restrain great power competition. These may include agreements on preventing accidents, heavy militarisation, and freedom of navigation, which can all form part of a UN-sanctioned zone of peace. Such a zone of peace is of vital importance to all trading nations, including China, as the success of BRI will rest on peace and order in the region.


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Providing safe water to consumers

May 22nd, 2018
A health officer testing the water quality at the Hulu Langat water processing plant. FILE PIC

IT is ironic that Malaysia, blessed with 2,500mm of rainfall annually, should experience water shortages. For many households — especially in Selangor, Kedah, Penang, Pahang, Johor and Kelantan — water supply is unreliable.

Water cuts are frequent. Consumers are stressed and worried. Will there be water tomorrow? Or will they be getting a WhatsApp message saying there will be water disruptions because of a burst pipe or contamination at the water processing plant?

Consumers are even more stressed when a festive season approaches or when they organise family events, such as a wedding.

Water disruptions have become too common, causing stress and pain for consumers and households.

Three causes of these water disruptions are broken pipes, water pollution and rapid urbanisation. Broken pipes are the cause of huge water losses. They also cause unscheduled water disruptions.

Water pollution is perhaps the biggest cause of contaminated water and water disruptions.

Water pollution is caused by industrial waste, sewage and wastewater, chemical fertilisers and pesticides, dumping of garbage and leakage from landfills. Deforestation and excessive logging also contribute to water wastage and water contamination.

Thirdly, the expanding urban population and the excessive use of water by consumers lead to water wastage and water shortages.

What can we do? Clearly, the responsibility of reliable, safe and affordable water rests on federal and state governments and agencies.

Water is a basic human need. Safe water is necessary for human consumption and to sustain life.

Planning for a reliable water supply, thus, needs a holistic approach.

Thus, Forum Air Malaysia proposes that federal and state agencies focus on the need to provide reliable, safe and affordable water to consumers.

There should be greater inter-agency cooperation and collaboration to ensure water pollution threats are minimised, if not eliminated.

There should be greater cooperation and collaboration between state water operators and the National Water Services Commission (SPAN) to ensure that consumers have access to safe and reliable water.

SPAN should focus on regulating and enforcing the water industry to comply with established standards and practices to ensure reliability, safety and affordability of water supply to households.

Finally, on the demand side, more awareness and education programmes need to be undertaken to promote better water consumption and conservation by consumers.


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App to help promote KDM language

May 22nd, 2018

PENAMPANG: A new KadazanDusun language app designed to help especially youngsters to learn the local language will be unveiled soon, said Assistant Minister of Education and Innovation, Jenifer Lasimbang.

“We must continue to preserve our mother tongue KadazanDusun to uphold our identity for the future generation.

“This app was designed so that the youth can learn our KadazanDusun language,” she said when officiating the Kaamatan celebration at Kg. Soobong, Kolopis, yesterday.

Jenifer who is also the Moyog assemblywoman disclosed that the app will be available for free and was developed through the success of ‘Huminodun, the movie’.

“Through the success of the Huminodun movie, we were able to develop this app,” she added.

Meanwhile, Jenifer who starred in the 2017 movie also expressed her concern about the inability of the today’s youths in mastering KadazanDusun.


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History as first M’sian woman DPM leads the swearing-in

May 22nd, 2018

Kuala Lumpur: Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail led a line-up of 13 Cabinet ministers in taking their oath of office, loyalty and secrecy before Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V at Istana Negara here today.

The swearing-in, which took place at the Singgahsana Kecil (Minor Throne Room) of the palace, was witnessed by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Also present was his wife, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali.

The ceremony began at 5.45pm with the acceptance of the instrument of appointment by Dr Wan Azizah, who is also Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) president, as the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Women and Family Development.

She then took her oath and signed the official instrument of appointment, witnessed by Chief Justice Tun Raus Sharif and Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa.

Then, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin; DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng and Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) president Mohamad Sabu took their oath together as the Home Minister; Finance Minister and Defence Minister, respectively.

Simpang Renggam MP Dr Maszlee Malik; Titiwangsa MP Rina Harun and PKR deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali took their oath together as the Education Minister; Rural Development Minister and Economic Affairs Minister, respectively.

Subsequently, PKR Wanita chief Zuraida Kamaruddin, DAP organising secretary Anthony Loke and DAP deputy chairman Gobind Singh Deo took their oath together as the Housing and Local Government Minister; Transport Minister and Communications and Multimedia Minister, respectively.

Then, Amanah deputy president Salahuddin Ayub, DAP vice-chairman M. Kulasegaran and Amanah strategic director Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad took their oath together as the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister; Human Resource Minister and Health Minister, respectively.

Dr Mahathir was sworn in as Malaysia’s seventh Prime Minister on May 10, a day after Pakatan Harapan won the country’s 14th General Election after defeating the Barisan Nasional which had been in power for 61 years.

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SIDMA College Intake of June 2018 New Students.

May 22nd, 2018

Dr Morni Hj Kambrie (Chairman and Founder of SIDMA College UNITAR Sabah), Madam Azlina Ngatimin (Director of Corporate Relations and Business Development) and Madam Azizah Khalid Merican (CEO) on behalf of the college cordially invites SPM or STPM leavers, Diploma graduates or those with other related qualifications to enrol for their tertiary education with the college for the June 2018 intake of new students.

Students who enrol in their studies for the following Diploma Programmes on this June 2018 Semester will enjoy an exemption from paying the Registration Fee. The RM Zero (0) registration fee is only applicable to students who registered with the college from 21 May till 21 June 2018 for the following Diploma Courses:

  1. Diploma Early Childhood Education Studies.
  2. Diploma Occupational Safety and Health.

SIDMA College Sabah, since its establishment in Kota Kinabalu back in 2002, has been working very closely with UNITAR International University, an university with strong and significant network of academic collaborations with both the academic and corporate sectors, as well as the industrial partners around the region to offer affordable, relevant and demanded study programmes which are professionally aligned with the requirements of these industrial players – both nationally and internationally.

SIDMA College has prosper jubilantly over the years, and has rapidly emerged as the largest regional centre in Malaysia offering UNITAR Programmes; in addition to SIDMA home-grown programmes, particularly the Diploma Early Childhood Education studies.

In June 2012, SIDMA College collaborated with Cyberjaya University College of Medical Sciences  (CUCMS), a College University of international standing, and a leading medical institution in the region; practicing the core mission of becoming “a distinctive medical sciences institution of international repute, producing competent healthcare professionals, who are intellectually, emotionally and spiritually balanced”.

In responding to the rapid technological advances which have given rise to trends such automation, globalisation and workplace changes within industries; SIDMA College Sabah, through the dynamic leadership of Dr Morni and Madam Azizah have reassured that the college infrastructure and technology have been geared towards producing graduates who would have a broader set of 21st Century skills and talents. Blended and Immersed Teaching as well as flipped classroom model has been adopted to ensure that its students and graduates will be equipped with ICT and collaborative skills, critical and creative thinking skills, communicative skills, human values, be interested in lifelong learning, to ensure that its graduates can function effective in current and in future time..

For its June 2018 Intake of new students, SIDMA College offers programmes in:

  1. Foundation Courses:
  • Foundations in Management
  1. Diploma Courses:
  • Diploma in Early Childhood Education Studies
  • Diploma in Occupational Safety and Health
  • Diploma in Management
  1. Bachelor’s Degree Courses:
  • Bachelor of Education (Hons)
  • Bachelor of Early Childhood Education (Hons)
  • Bachelor of Business Administration (Hons)
  • Bachelor of Management (Hons)
  • Bachelor of Information Technology (Hons)
  1. Masters Courses:
  • Masters of Business Administration (MBA)
  • Masters of Education (Education Leadership and Management – ELM)
  • Masters of Education (Early Childhood Education)

SIDMA June 2018 intake of new students is progress. Various financial assistance, such as PTPTN are available. For more information about courses and financial assistance offered at SIDMA College, please browse SIDMA Website, or like SIDMA Facebook Account – SIDMA College. Potential students are also encouraged to apply online by visiting SIDMA Website, or to call SIDMA hotline number 088-732 000 or 088-732 020, or through fax @ 088-731 015 or 088-732 019. Potential students are also welcome to visit us at SIDMA College UNITAR Sabah, Jalan Bundusan, 88300 KOTA KINABALU.

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Govt urged to enhance tertiary education programmes.

May 21st, 2018

PETALING JAYA: Important education programmes such as artificial intelligence, computer engineering and big data should be heavily subsidised by the Govern­ment to help bring Malaysia closer to being a developed nation, says prominent educationist Prof Datuk Dr Paul Chan.

Dr Chan, who sits on the Malay­sian National Higher Education Council, said subsidising such core educational disciplines could pave the way for Malaysia’s progress.

“Direct resources to these areas can make the country globally competitive,” he said yesterday.

Dr Chan, who is also HELP University vice-chancellor and president, called for public and private higher-learning institutions to work closely together to share resources to reduce costs.

He noted that abolishing the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) loan and providing free education are difficult tasks due to budget constraints the country is facing.

Yayasan Rapera founder and chairman Datuk Seri Jahaberdeen Mohamed Yunoos, however, went a step further and called for free tertiary education in all public universities, as well as the abolition of student loans such as PTPTN.

Describing the loans as “burdensome” to youth, the senior lawyer – who visited over 20 universities in the past four months – said he found many students with poor health and “in a depressed state” due to dire financial constraints.

Yayasan Rapera is a foundation which emphasises nurturing thinking and compassionate citizens.

Universiti Malaya Department of Psychological Medicine Assoc Prof Dr Muhammad Muhsin Ahmad Zahari, who supports free access to public higher learning institutions, said it should only be given to needy and deserving students.

“Free education reduces students’ financial burden and emotional stress, enabling them to focus on studies,” said the psychiatry expert who has treated many students suffering from depression caused by financial stress.

A fresh graduate who only wanted to be known as Jayanthi said she was worried about paying back her PTPTN loan even before completing medical school last year.

The medical graduate, who borrowed RM180,000, has to pay RM750 monthly to PTPTN for the next 20 years.

“This is a steep sum and we (graduates) cannot be relying on our parents to pay it,” said Jayanthi who is working part-­time in Kuala Lumpur while waiting for housemanship placement.

By Lee Chonghui
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Pressing need for separation of powers, says PM [NSTTV]

May 21st, 2018

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said as a democratic nation, there must be separation of powers between the legislative, judicial and executive. (Pix by MOHD FADLI HAMZAH)

PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said as a democratic nation, there must be separation of powers between the legislative, judicial and executive.

Speaking to civil servants here, this morning, the prime minister said the separation of powers was paramount to have the check-and-balance system in place.

Failure to do so, the prime minister warned that undesired things would happen.

“If there is no separation of powers with one taking control over others, there will be no (efforts) to criticise or reprimand things that are against the country’s law,” he added.

The prime minister also said with a clean government, Malaysia could face all challenges.

In this respect, Dr Mahathir called on all civil servants to give their undivided support to him as long as his actions do not contravene with the law.

He also said possible changes were being thoroughly studied now.

But, Dr Mahathir said it was too soon to disclose what they would be as he was still gathering all information.

The prime minister expressed his hope that changes could be made without raising costs or creating new institutions.

“We should optimise the existing institutions,” he said.

Dr Mahathir had his first official meeting with civil servants today after he was sworn in as the country’s seventh Prime Minister following Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) win in the 14th General Election (GE14).

By NST Team.

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What can other countries learn from Malaysia?

May 21st, 2018
On May 9, Malaysians came from all walks of life to support the democratic process by choosing a new government. Malaysia has indeed matured. It was a peaceful election, too. (File pix)

WITH the victory of Pakatan Harapan in the polls, Malaysia has made history: it is the first time in 61 years that there is a change in federal government. Most analyses prior to the election day had said that Barisan Nasional would win.

But, the people have spoken through the ballot box, and the transition to a new government was done smoothly. It shows that good governance matters. What can other countries learn from the 14th General Election?

Cambodia, Thailand and Indonesia will soon have general elections.

The situation in Cambodia seems pessimistic.

Hun Sen, the world’s longest-serving prime minister, is seeking to remain in power as head of the Cambodia People’s Party (CPP). In November, the Supreme Court dissolved the Cambodia National Rescue Party, which was the only serious contender to challenge CPP in the last election.

Hun Sen declared that his party had won every seat in the Senate election in February.

Meanwhile, the general election in Thailand has been postponed to next year.

In Indonesia, a hashtag war has begun between #2019GantiPresiden (#2019ChangeThePresident) and #2019TetapJokowi (#2019KeepJokowi) ahead of the presidential election next year.

What can they learn from Malaysia? It is the power of people that brought change in government.

On May 9, Malaysians came from all walks of life to support the democratic process by choosing a new government.

Malaysia has indeed matured. It was a peaceful election, too.

Malaysia has shown that it is possible to practise democracy in the region. Countries in the region should take a leaf out of Malaysia’s book in this instance.

By Low Yeh Cher.

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