Archive for the ‘General Topics’ Category

NST Leader: A mindset reset

Saturday, September 14th, 2019
Malaysia aspires to be the regional education hub of choice by 2020. – NSTP/File pic

For the longest time, studying abroad has been associated with prestige and quality learning.

And, why not? Hundreds of promotions shout the benefits of studying abroad. This notion is ingrained in our schooling teens, even a Year 2 pupil has dreams of learning in a foreign country.

Advantages are aplenty — such as better job prospects, travel opportunities and learning a foreign language. It’s a vast world out there, as Christian theologian St Augustine said, “the world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page”.

This Leader, however, is not making a case for or against studying abroad. Rather, it wants the masses to reset their mindset — studying locally is just as good, if not better.

Education is the knowledge that is acquired through learning, schooling, enlightenment and cultivation — these can be experienced at our public universities and private higher learning institutions (HLIs) which number more than 600.

Think about the savings that we could make. For instance, a student spends an average of US$40,000 (RM166,000) for tuition and living cost per year studying abroad, but it only costs US$10,000 per year to study here — it’s 160 times more costly to study overseas!

Quality education? Universiti Malaya, the country’s oldest university, achieved top 100 for three academic disciplines, including library and information management, development studies and electrical and electronic engineering under the QS World University Rankings by subject (2019). Other universities also deserve mention.

Why then are our youth reluctant? They are not enlightened about local universities’ strength, says UM corporate communications director Izad Raya. For example, UM has done much in the advancement of teaching and learning, research, publication and innovation. “But we are not focused on sharing and telling the world what we have achieved — the many accomplishments, the amazing research findings, discoveries and innovations. This is not just faced by UM, but other universities too.”

UM is now leveraging on the advancement of communications technology, via the conventional media, social media, the Internet and more, to enlighten the masses.

Izad adds that universities and the media have to work together in educating and shaping the minds of the public on general issues, as well as what universities have done and would be doing. For sure our local universities have a lot to show and more interaction with the masses is needed to spread the word. As a university professor said, “there are lots of gems just waiting to sparkle”.

There is another reason for youths to consider studying locally. Malaysia aspires to be the regional education hub of choice by 2020 — at present, there are some 150,000 foreign students here, and the number is expected to reach 200,000 next year. For every foreign student, the tourism potential is manifold.

Invest in our universities. Businesses and corporates, send your underlings to study locally.

Create and mould talents within the country. There is much to learn from within just as there is from the “outside”.

It would serve us well to recall what ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said: “Without stirring abroad, one can know the whole world; Without looking out the window one can see the way to heaven. The further one goes the less one knows.”

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KK High School excellent principal retires

Tuesday, September 10th, 2019

From left: Pre-university senior assistant Goh Boon Swee, senior assistant I Ooi Hieu Seng, Puan Lim, Mistirine, Lim Kiat Kong, Wong Yee Ming, Shirney Lim and Tan Hock Siong.

KOTA KINABALU: Kota Kinabalu High School (KKHS) bade farewell to outstanding long-service educator, excellent principal Lim Lai Hong in a special ceremony replete with heart-warming tributes and gratitude on September 6, 2019.

Gracing the occasion were Sabah education director, Dr. Mistirine Radin, Kota Kinabalu district officer’s representative, Shirney Lim, KKHS Board of Governors chairman, Lim Kiat Kong, Likas assemblyman and former student of KKHS, Tan Lee Fatt, KKHS Parent-Teacher Association chairman, Tan Hock Siong, and KKHS Alumni Association chairman, Wong Yee Min.

Puan Lim, who hails from Malacca, first arrived at the Land Below the Wind in 1986 as a history subject teacher in KKHS at the Tanjung Aru old school site. She was the afternoon session supervisor before being promoted to become a principal in 2003, after 17 years of service in KKHS.

She then served as principal of SMK St. Anthony’s Tenom, and later continued her principalship at SMK St. Patrick’s Membakut, SMK Pekan Kuala Penyu and SMK Badin Tuaran.

As the saying goes, there is a beginning and there is an end. KKHS proved to be a very special place for Puan Lim when she was once again transferred back to her first school in 2016, this time as the principal.

In her tribute, student representative, Tan Chiu Yie, expressed her gratitude to Puan Lim for her selfless patience and sacrifice that can never be repaid.

“She never gets tired of advising us even though we repeatedly fail to do the right thing,” she said.

Reflecting on the old days, Lily Wong Bitt Lee, a co-curriculum senior assistant, who is also a former history student of Puan Lim in KKHS, lamented on the loss of a great history teacher and an excellent principal.

She reminisced Puan Lim as a disciplined, honest, and very patient teacher.

Firm, yet full of passion. With her hard work and dedication, almost all of her form five students obtained As in the SPM history subject.

“She is not only an excellent principal, but in the core, an excellent teacher, who deliberately changed from studying law to pursuing the teaching profession.

Her 33 years of service in 5 schools has proven that she indeed possessed the right soul for teaching and it was a decision most correctly made. She is not a principal who is comfortable with just sitting in an air-con room.

She has a high visibility in the school compound. That is how she changed the school,” she said.

Wong Yee Min, another alumnus, was also full of praise for Puan Lim and admitted that he could still feel her charisma as a teacher even until this present moment.

He implored all students of KKHS to always respect their teachers and appreciate their sacrifices.

KKHS Parents-Teachers Association chairman, Tan Hock Siong, reminded everyone that a principal is always the most important person in a school, which an excellent school cannot do without.

He again expressed his appreciation to Puan Lim for all that she has done for the school.

KKHS Board of Governors chairman, Lim Kiat Kong, expressed his regret that Puan Lim’s three and a half years tenure in KKHS as a principal is only too little too short.

He especially respects and admires her leadership and style of management which has successfully transformed the school in many ways never before imagined possible.

“She loves KKHS very much, like how a mother loves her children,” he said.

In her final address to the school, Puan Lim asserted that a strong conviction in education is what had steered her in life.

“This is the place where I have poured out all my love. I am deeply convinced that as an educator I must help students achieve success in life. I love KKHS very much. And I love the students very much too. Whenever I chastise students using the cane, they only feel the pain one time but I feel it one lifetime,” she said.

“Education is not just about excellent academic results we want to see in the students’ certificates. Education is more about shaping a generation of future leaders for the nation,” she remarked.

In her final words, she expressed her gratitude to all the teachers for their hard work and sacrifices in KKHS.

The auspicious day began with one last sumptuous breakfast of nasi lemak and curry chicken as a big family, which then proceeded to the school hall with a welcoming lion dance and cultural dance performance, the Negaraku, Sabah Tanah Airku and KKHS school song, Chinese orchestra performance, student poem recitation, student live band and solo singing, and a joyous birthday cake cutting ceremony.

The finale was a grand emotional send-off with Puan Lim riding on a chauffeured 4-wheel drive vehicle decorated with flowers and ribbons and bidding her last farewell to students and teacchers.

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Dr M: Govt eyes using recorded lessons in schools

Saturday, September 7th, 2019

Dr Mahathir trying his hand at ceramic art while visiting the ceramics class during his tour of Ritsukeikan Primary School in Kyoto on Saturday (Sept 7).

KYOTO (Bernama): The Malaysian government is looking into the possibility of using recorded lessons by selected teachers to be shared with other schools, says Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

He said the method was aimed at, among others, simplifying and enhancing the quality of teaching.

“We are trying to simplify teaching because teachers are not the same… so what we want to do is make use of good teachers, record their lessons and use the recorded lessons for other schools where teachers will guide the students (on the lessons), ” he said during his visit to Ritsumeikan Primary School here on Saturday (Sept 7).

He said the method would not only help to educate students but also improve the knowledge of the guiding teachers.

“At the same time, the teachers will also learn, and the quality of teaching should improve using this system, ” said Dr Mahathir, who took part in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony during the school visit.

The prime minister also spent some time observing robotics, information and communication technology as well as pottery classes.

Ritsumeikan Primary School has the distinction of being the first school in Japan to use a blend of the traditional approach and modern technology in its teaching methods.

Opened in 2006 and with over 700 students currently, the school was also the pioneer in introducing robotics in its curriculum.


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1MDB trial recap: September 3 to 5.

Saturday, September 7th, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): There was an explosive testimony from Datuk Amhari Efendi Nazaruddin, who was the former special officer to Datuk Seri Najib Razak, over the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal.

Following are the highlights of testimonies from Amhari Efendi, 43, at the trial before Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah from Sept 3-5.

Najib, 66, is facing four charges of having used his positions to obtain gratification totalling RM2.3bil in 1MDB funds and 21 counts of money laundering involving the same money.

Najib, who is also Pekan MP, is alleged to have committed four counts of corruption at Jalan Raja Chulan branch of AmIslamic Bank Berhad, at No. 55, Jalan Raja Chulan, Bukit Ceylon here between Feb 24,2011, and Dec 19,2014.

For the 21 money laundering charges, Najib is alleged to have committed the offences at the same bank between March 22,2013, and Aug 30,2013.

The trial before Judge Collin Lawrence Sequerah continues next Tuesday (Sept 10).

Day 3 (Sept 3): Amhari Efendi tells the High Court that Low Taek Jho or Jho Low was the unofficial special advisor to the former prime minister as he carried out various behind-the-scene tasks including managing 1MDB, international programmes, working visits, business proposals and policies, as well as welfare work for Najib.

Amhari Efendi, who was then with the Economics Division at the Prime Minister’s Office, says Jho Low also orchestrated investment dealings, inter-government or government-to-government (G2G) negotiations, political as well as fund manoeuvres for the former prime minister.

“Every directive given by Jho Low must be carried out because I believed he had obtained prior approval from Najib. I never questioned the directives, but sometimes when necessary, Datuk Azlin Alias, who was then Najib’s principal private secretary, or I myself, did refer to Najib for confirmation.

“Most of the time, I would be informed by Najib that the instructions given by Jho Low were approved by him, and Datuk Azlin also noted to me that Jho Low’s instructions once confirmed by Najib must be followed up, ” says Amhari Efendi when reading out his 77-page witness statement during the examination-in-chief by deputy public prosecutor Ahmad Akram Gharib.

The eighth prosecution witness testifies that Jho Low became very close to Najib’s family after befriending Najib’s stepson, Riza Shahriz Abdul Aziz, and he knew about it during his dealings with Jho Low where he informed him several times on how close he was to Najib’s family.

“To my knowledge, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor (Najib’s wife) was also very close to Jho Low as I noticed that he frequently received calls from Datin Seri Rosmah, but I never asked about the details of their conversations, ” he says, adding that it was Riza Aziz who introduced Jho Low to Rosmah.

Amhari Efendi, who is one of the key prosecution witnesses, tells the court that the exposure in 2015 that Riza Aziz had purchased luxury real estate and financed a Hollywood movie with1MDB funds affected Najib the most.

“Sarawak Report at that time showed that Riza received money from 1MDB and this affected Datuk Seri Najib as Riza is his stepson, ” he says.

The High Court is also told that the Terengganu Investment Authority (TIA) project, an idea mooted by Jho Low, was Najib’s “baby”.

Amhari Efendi says Jho Low had prepared five “damage control” letters after the 1MDB scandal blew up, to show proof that 1MDB and PetroSaudi had not acted out of line in their joint venture.

Day 4 (Sept 4): On the opening of foreign account banks, Amhari Efendi testifies that “Jho Low also told us (he and Azlin) to be assured, not to worry, and to trust him, telling us that ‘boss will take care’.”

“The ‘boss’ he referred to was Najib. Datuk Azlin also expressed his unease but Jho Low reiterated that all these would be done above board, through proper documentation and using a well-known and reputable bank. Datuk Azlin just kept quiet. Jho Low said he would come back to us on this issue and left the meeting”.

He says the bank accounts ordered to be opened overseas were likely for money laundering purposes to receive political funds for Najib in facing the 13th general election (GE13) in 2013, and Jho Low ordered him and Azlin to open separate foreign bank accounts.

The witness also says that Najib had knowledge of and had given the mandate to Jho Low to plan and handle efforts to save the debt-ridden 1MDB and its subsidiary SRC International Sdn Bhd.

He says following that, on Nov 1 and 2,2016, Najib went on an official visit to China with a goal to pursue Malaysia-China joint-venture projects with a number of companies.

Amhari Efendi tells the High Court that China State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (Sasac) and China State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) were supposed to finalise the agreement to settle the debt issue facing 1MDB and its subsidiary SRC before the end of July or August 2016.

He says the matter was decided at a meeting held in China on June 28,2016, with Sasac.

He also says he felt very pressured when he was instructed by Najib to travel to China to conduct confidential work to facilitate the bailout of 1MDB in June 2016.

“Datuk Seri Najib himself asked me to go to his residence in Jalan Langgak Duta to discuss this matter, explaining that the trip would be arranged by Jho Low.

“I had to comply although at the time I was under intense pressure and had thoughts of stopping work because these orders were placing a great burden on me, more so since Datuk Azlin was no longer there (Azlin had died on April 4,2015).

“Nevertheless, I had to follow his (Najib) orders because he was my boss, what more, he was the Prime Minister of Malaysia, ” recounts Amhari Efendi, looking visibly distraught.

The witness also tells the High Court that the former prime minister instructed him to meet with Mubadala chief executive officer Khaldoon Mubarak in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, in 2016 to discuss settling 1MDB’s bond dispute with International Petroleum Investment Co (Ipic) without going to the International Court.

He says Najib also told him that if Malaysia were to go to the international court for failing to pay the bonds guaranteed by Ipic, bilateral relations between the two countries would deteriorate.

He adds that Jho Low had prepared the questions that were expected to be asked by several quarters, including the media, together with damage control answers on 1MDB, which was then widely reported by the mass media.

Day 5 (Sept 5): Amhari Efendi maintains he had personally witnessed the closeness of their (Jho Low and Najib) relationship, where Jho Low went to Najib’s house more frequently than anyone else.

He also describes Jho Low as a puppet master as he could manipulate anyone, regardless of status, and was able to engage different people at different places to get what he wanted. –


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Work Matters!: Change is the only constant in life

Friday, September 6th, 2019

THERE’s literally no escaping change, is there?

Whether your job is no longer available, or consumer trends in your business sector shifts, or you experience a personal loss, or your relationship with someone close has soured; as much as you try avoiding it, change seems to be the one constant in life.

Yet, nearly everyone struggles to manage it.

In fact many people look at change only as having a negative bearing on life.

More often than not, the word change is used in a threatening manner.

“If you don’t do things better, I am going to make some big changes here…” I just said this to one my team members recently.

One of my coachees got told a few days ago, “You better change your attitude because you are making it impossible for the company to extend your contract…”

So even the word “change” conjures up terrifying images of losing control or something valuable.

However, the reality is it’s entirely up to you to choose how you view change. Even when it seems tough, you are learning and growing as a person. Remind yourself that without change, things will stay the same, and will ultimately wither away.

For example, this Saturday, 7th September will be the final service at my neighbourhood bistro – D’Legends TTDI. After owning it for 4 years, I have made the decision that I must change and upgrade the business if I want to enjoy continued growth.

We are closing for 2 months to refurbish, rejuvenate, and rebrand the business, and the new business will open in November 2019.

Was it a hard decision? Of course, it was terribly hard.

Together with my team, I have transformed this once largely unappealing watering hole into a welcoming neighbourhood bistro that attracts millennials, families, business owners, politicos, media people, and so on. There’s a value proposition for everyone.

Over the past week as I have been informing our regulars, I’ve felt so much nostalgia and there have been moments where I have questioned the wisdom of doing this.

Although I know that its success rests on the collective shoulders of me and my team, I cannot say for sure that the new renovated and modernized business will be received as well as my current place is.

Only time, with our effort and energy will tell.

But each time I think about it, I know I have made the right decision, because without change there is no exploration in life. Change is also about learning, and learning is a pre-requisite for growing

The most successful people I know always take advantage of the fact that most people resist change. They seize opportunities that others simply are afraid to venture into.

Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī or simply known popularly as Rumi, the 13th century Persian poet and Islamic scholar is reported to have said, “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself”.

If you are interested in your personal and career growth with better results, remember that embracing change is not a difficult skill to learn. And once you start looking at change as empowering, rather than something to steer clear of, you will be astounded at the results you produce.

When you start accepting change as something positive, the first transformation that happens is that you get forced out of your comfort zone.

The reason why everyone loves the comfort zone is just because it is easy. You can just follow a routine and you can predict its outcome. This gives you tremendous security.

Once you get out of this area, your personal rulebook gets challenged. Your ideas, mentality, and belief systems get tested, so you have to find newer and better ways to operate.

Embracing change also allows you to experience more.

As I start the process of rebranding my restaurant, I am seeing new perspectives, from design styles to food trends and demographic analytics. Ironically, these angles were right in front of me all the time.

But becuse I had no desire to change my business before, I just could not see these opportunities.

When I think about my own life, I know that all the notable things I have seen and done only happened because I became open to new experiences. All my vacations, meeting people, and experimenting with businesses taught me more than I ever learned at school or university.

Most importantly, being able to accept change makes you flexible and increases your ability to adapt to the dynamism of your career, and the world at large.

As you develop an attitude that allows you to deal with confusion and disorder, you also learn to be agile and nimble. People fail when they cannot manage unfamiliar and uncomfortable situations.

You will only begin to thrive in new situations because you have proven to yourself that you can cope deftly in an ever-changing landscape.

Ultimately, change is good!

By Shankar R. Santhiram.

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“Stopping bribe-givers can end corruption in civil service”

Monday, September 2nd, 2019
Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) statistics from 2014 to June this year show that graft is rampant among civil servants. – NSTP/File pic.

PUTRAJAYA: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) efforts in combating corruption in the civil service are commendable, but the agency should expand its horizons and neutralise the source — bribe givers, said Public Service Department (PSD) director-general Datuk Seri Borhan Dolah.

He said stopping bribe givers — the host of the virus — would end corruption among civil servants.

MACC statistics from 2014 to June this year show that graft is rampant among civil servants. They make up 46.3 per cent of 4,860 people arrested for graft in the period.

Most of the offences were committed by staff handling procurement.

“If we educate the public not to give bribes, then there won’t be a culture of accepting bribes.

“The remaining 54 per cent of the statistics might be made up of those who bribe civil servants,” he told the New Straits Times in an interview at his office here.

He said this served as an enabler and catalyst for the acceptance of bribes by civil servants.

The survey compiled by MACC revealed that 22.1 per cent of respondents in the public sector said they were willing to accept bribes if they were in a position of power.

However, he said, the government had been active in raising awareness to keep the public sector free of corruption.

Public Service Department (PSD) director-general Datuk Seri Borhan Dolah says stopping bribe givers — the host of the virus — would end corruption among civil servants. -NSTP/Ahmad Irham Mohd Noor

Under the National Anti-Corruption Plan, Borhan said PSD was the monitoring and executing body for civil servants.

“Every agency will have its targets and we will report to the Special Cabinet Committee on our progress.

“There are plans, quick wins within six months and long-term actions under the Public Service Reform Plan.”

The public sector has turned to digital methods to cut down bureaucracy and indirectly prevent under-the-table bribery.

“Remember paying bills or getting your documents through runners? Now, with technological advancements, we can decrease the likelihood of people giving money under the table to our officers to ensure their documents are ready on time,” Borhan said.

There is the Value Audit Management System, or Sistem Pengurusan Audit Nilai (SPAN), to educate, monitor and strengthen the integrity of the civil service against corruption and negative public perception

Borhan said he hoped the government would also help in cleaning up the public sector, adding that PSD would fight graft.

“The gernment must trust us. We will do the cleaning up, but the government must back us up.

“If there are corrupt officers, they should be stripped of their positions, with no interference from higher officials.

“We must have patience and work towards a cleaner Malaysia.”

He wished the public would understand civil servants’ responsibilities.

My advice to officers and staff: don’t be afraid of anything if you follow the rules and, hopefully, the people will also understand officers’ and staff’s roles in their departments.”


In light of the data on corruption, it was suggested that wages in the public sector be increased.

Borhan said increasing civil servants’ wages was not a viable solution to corruption.

“There is no evidence nor study that shows an increase in wages can eliminate or prevent corruption or abuse of power.

“It is because money will never be enough.

“For example, if an officer used to drive a Proton Saga, he would want to drive a Mercedez. So having more money won’t prevent abuse of power and bribery.”

He reminded civil servants of their main role — to serve the country.

Civil servants should remember their main role — to serve the country. -NSTP/File pic

He said in the end, it depended on whether civil servants wanted to contribute to society and serve their country.

“We are not here to get rich, but to contribute to society, the country and to uphold the nation’s pride.”

On civil servants having two jobs, Borhan said there was no problem as long as it did not affect their performance and working hours.

“If there are those who want to find extra income outside their working hours, that is allowed, as long as they obtain approval from their supervisor.

“We have been educating our officers and staff on managing their money to ensure they spend within their means.

“It is understood that their reasons (for having another job) are to make their and their family’s lives more comfortable.”


Borhan acknowledged that this was a long-debated issue in the public sector.

He said it was unfair for the public to compare the country’s 1.6 million civil servants with the size of the civil service in other countries.

Under the Constitution, the civil service includes the armed forces, the public education and public health sectors, which require the most manpower.

“If there is a need to measure, then we can focus on certain areas. Without taking into account the three sectors, we have 616,718 officers and staff (up to May last year), which equal to a 1:51 ratio. This means our public sector size is still ideal.”

On filling out long-vacated civil service positions, he said there were checks to see whether the positions needed to be filled urgently.

He said there were some 100,000 vacancies out of 1.7 million positions.

He said 1.6 million positions were filled, with 30,000 to 40,000 vacancies created through retirement annually.

“Under our rightsizing policy, every time a position is vacated, we will need to obtain approval for it to be filled and see whether it is necessary.

“If the department says there is no need for a replacement or if the position has not been filled for more than two years, then the position will be removed.”

He said civil servants would not be terminated, but “remainders” would be sent to other departments and given training if required.

“There is no sacking, but more rationalising of numbers to ensure the civil service runs efficiently.

“The department is not getting smaller just because 40,000 officers and staff have retired. Not all positions will be filled, but roughly 5,000 officers will be sent to private o

By Teh Athira Yusof.

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Dr M opens facilities at Perdana Gardens.

Saturday, August 31st, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has opened two facilities at the 131-year-old Perdana Botanical Gardens, making it a complete recreational park with elements of research, education and conservation.

The Prime Minister planted a Kembang Semangkuk sapling as a symbolic gesture of the opening of the Visitors Complex and Ethnobotany Park as the added attractions.

Dr Mahathir, accompanied by Deputy Federal Territories Minister Datuk Dr Shahruddin Md Salleh and Kuala Lumpur mayor Datuk Nor Hisham Ahmad Dahlan, went on a tour of the facilities and was given a briefing on the transformation of the park that was opened in 1888.The two facilities are the final elements of the second phase upgrading of the botanical gardens, which were completed last April.

The Visitors Complex houses a herbarium as a research centre, an interpretation centre as an information centre, a briefing room and a souvenir shop.

The Ethnobotany Park was developed as part of the conservation programme of the gardens and showcases over 100 species of trees, which have many uses, including food, medicine and beauty products.When met by reporters, Nor Hisham said the third and final phase of the upgrading – the setting up of bunga raya and orchid gardens – was expected to be completed in 2022.


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Floating hotel, restaurant boost for tourism soon

Saturday, August 31st, 2019

Christina (middle), flanked by Wong (left) and Lai (right), during the MoU ceremony.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah has new tourism products that would be introduced in Semporna and here.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Christina Liew said the new product, consisting of a cruise ship that serves as a floating hotel that would be docked near Boheydulang and Bodgaya islands in Semporna, and another cruise ship that would be turned into a floating restaurant near here, would be an added attraction for Sabah.

The cruise ship that will be sited near the islands shall have over 60 rooms and this will be able to address the shortage of hotel rooms now experienced in Semporna.

The endeavor is being made possible after the signing of Memorandum of Understanding between Supreme Sabah Tourism Limited, which is a subsidiary company of Hong Kong based Bluemount International Limited and Heaven Ray Sdn Bhd, a local Sabah company which was held at the Promenade hotel near here yesterday.

Christina lauded such endeavors, stating that the present state government welcomed foreign investors as it would benefit many people.

She said investors were welcome to invest in building hotels, conduct tour buses businesses and so on.


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Perak Sultan: Merging of humanitarian, development assistance vital

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019
Sultan Nazrin said both areas of work must now focus urgently on the shared goals of reducing vulnerability and building resilience. NSTP/Effendy Rashid

KUALA LUMPUR: Amid the ever-worsening humanitarian needs created by the interaction of environmental and political crises, Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah has underscored that the merging of humanitarian and development assistance has become more urgent than ever.

The sultan said that only through building local capacity and resilience over the longer term that humanitarian actors would be able to contribute effectively towards reducing vulnerabilities.

“And by focusing on those most in need, development actors will be able to play their part most effectively in the fulfilment of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In this way, both can contribute to nation-building that is ultimately what local resilience is all about,” Sultan Nazrin said when opening Mercy Malaysia’s International Humanitarian Conference in Petaling Jaya today.

In his speech, the Sultan reflected on the recommendations and progress achieved since the delivery three years ago of the wide-ranging report titled ‘Too Important to Fail’ by the United Nations High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Financing. Sultan Nazrin had served on the panel.

In the speech titled ‘Humanitarian Action and Nation-Building’, the Sultan pointed out that it was the panel which had made the initial call for much stronger linkages between humanitarian and development work, in part, to ensure that resources were used as efficiently as possible.

“They do after all share the same fundamental objective of assisting those most in need, and better collaboration can help both achieve this more effectively,” he said.

Sultan Nazrin said both areas of work must now focus urgently on the shared goals of reducing vulnerability and building resilience – objectives that were encapsulated in the SDGs.

Of particular relevance, he said, were the SDGs on health and well-being, zero hunger, clean water and sanitation, as well as other cross-cutting areas such as gender equality, climate action, peace, justice and strong institutions.

“As the panel clearly concluded, it’s only by working together towards the collective outcomes embodied in the SDGs that humanitarian and development agencies will be able to contribute most effectively towards achieving these.

“These contributions to the development process, however limited they may be in challenging settings, will in turn contribute to nation-building processes, however tentative and fragile,” the Sultan said. – Bernama

By Bernama.

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China’s coming of age

Monday, August 5th, 2019
Investors watching a monitor at a stock exchange in Taipei, Taiwan. Asian shares fell due to worries about the United States-China trade war. EPA PIC

EVERY time the United States-China trade war escalates, there is plenty of agitation. Markets shoot down, calculations are made of economic costs. President Donald Trump’s threat last Thursday to impose 10 per cent tariffs on the remaining US$300 billion in Chinese imports from Sept 1 was no exception.

Equity markets plummeted. Bond yields came down. US consumers it was worked out, already paying US$830 extra a year from previous tariffs on Chinese imports, would have to pay an additional US$200, this time mainly from consumer products like clothing and footwear.

This latest round of US tariffs would reduce China’s exports by 2.7 per cent and slash gross domestic product growth by 50 basis points. Never mind that at 6.3 per cent growth the GDP value is about twice the size of Spain’s economy. Slower growth will dent expectations among China’s population, and there will have to be some form of fiscal stimulus and easier monetary policy to make up for the contraction.

Global export and economic growth will no doubt be affected by the stand-off between the world’s two largest economies, whatever the investment relocation that may take place — like from China to Vietnam and other countries including Malaysia — as American protectionism will come upon them. Indeed Vietnam is on notice for its huge trade surplus with the US (US$40 billion last year and more than half that in the first five months alone of this year) and for its “unacceptable” trade practices.

There is no hiding place. With the US on the trade warpath, the whole world economy will be affected, not only directly but also consequentially as negative investment sentiment begins to cut into economic activity. The International Monetary Fund now projects world economic growth to slow down from 3.6 per cent in 2018 to 3.3 per cent this year.

Thus, there is cause to be deeply concerned about the economic consequences of the US-China trade war. There is understandable worry whether we are seeing the end of rules-based international trade — and from that, world economic order as we know it. There should be a deeper concern, however, over its systemic impact on the international security system.

The US and China approached their engagement with each other with different objectives, mostly unexpressed. Initially Kissinger and Nixon intended, in 1971-72, to isolate the Soviet Union and catch it off-balance at the height of the Cold War by cultivating China.

Subsequently, with the establishment of diplomatic and trade relations in 1979, the US welcomed China’s coming out and participation in the world economy. By 2001, when China joined the World Trade Organisation, it became fully a part of it.

But never was it in the American mind that China would develop to be the world power it has become. There was indeed an implicit American expectation that China would not come to disturb US primacy in the world. When president Nixon said of his visit to China in 1972 that it was “the week that changed the world”, he could not have expected a change to where we are today: A China that can say “No” — as Japan could not.

Actually, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer may be bringing to the table in negotiations with China an eminently unsuitable style and approach that he used in the 1980s in US-Japan trade battles, with severe consequences for Japan.

China is different. It came into the relationship with the US and the world determined to wipe out a history of 250 years of humiliation and to restore China’s place in the international system, of national pride and success.

Never was there any self-imposed limit on how far it could go. Of course, in the early years there was Deng Xiaoping’s 1990 dictum “hide your strength and bide your time”. But by 2017, President Xi Jinping declared at the Communist Party Congress that it was time for China to take centre stage in the world.

Western observers called this a break from Deng’s advice. It was not. China had come of age.

Chinese people living in poverty (US$2 a day) dropped from 88 per cent in 1981 to six per cent in 2017. In 2013 China surpassed the US as the largest trading nation in the world. While the US military remains the strongest in the world, China is a strong third after Russia, with an edge in certain theatres and weapons of potential conflict.

This year in Fortune Global 500, Chinese companies were for the first time ahead of those from the US, 129 versus 121. Chinese technological capability is awesome, especially in AI (artificial intelligence). Huawei’s dual-chip strategy will blunt Trump’s ban on sale of chips to the firm by US semiconductor companies.

All this is based on what Deng had launched in 1978, a socialist market economy, without change to China’s political system.

There is now an equivalence in the relationship the Americans never anticipated, and do not want. They cannot, however, wish it away. Both parties, the Americans particularly, have to address the situation to forge a balance for global stability.

During the Cold War after WW2 until about 1989-90, there were clear distinctions and allocations in the relationship between the US and Soviet Union.

The Iron Curtain was an expression which had a distinct and understood boundary. The spheres for the exercise of power and influence had an allocated geography. Where the two adversaries might compete — as they indeed did through proxies like in Angola, the Middle East (West Asia actually), Afghanistan, even Vietnam arguably — were in countries outside the recognised spheres of influence.

When there was an adventure outside, in fact too close to America by the Soviet Union during the Cuban missile crisis in 1962, the world came closest to a nuclear conflict during the Cold War. The Balance of Terror, another category of clarity in the management of the relationship, saw a Soviet retreat and held America back.

In the relationship between the US and China, there has been less clarity and greater disingenuousness. Many commentators take the view that the current impasse in relations cannot be described as a new Cold War. It is contended China is an active participant in the hitherto US-led international economic order, which never was the case with the Soviet Union. China has not been excluded and the relationship between the two is not adversarial even if increasingly competitive.

It is this pretense at conviviality, however, that has been exposed by the trade war Trump has declared against China. Scratch the surface of apparent mutual economic benefit, so many differences in political system and government and in foreign policy belie an engagement described as so different from the animosity that informed US relations with the Soviet Union.

Now even that economic benefit is deemed not so mutual after all, as China not only rises but overtakes the US. America had an unexpressed place for China even as it embraced and welcomed it to the international system — one that does not disturb US primacy.

The Americans have arrived at a point where they clearly believe the boundary has been disturbed and see China as a challenge to US primacy.

The strategically shapeless relationship with China, however, cannot now be defined by one party alone. From the wishful thinking China could be formed in the US image, the point has been reached where, 40 years after diplomatic and trade relations were established, both countries must engage to define greater clarity in their relationship.

China, too, must begin to act as a responsible great power. It should not keep harking back to past humiliation, be self-righteous all the time, and pretend that it has no claim to spheres of interest and influence by referring to “core interests” and ancient history.

By Munir Majid.

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