Archive for the ‘General Topics’ Category

Yi Yi’s return to China delayed due to Covid-19

Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020
Yi Yi, the giant panda was supposed to be sent back to China in April. - NSTP/File picYi Yi, the giant panda was supposed to be sent back to China in April. – NSTP/File pic

KUALA LUMPUR: The government will come up with a new formula to ensure Zoo Negara, its other counterparts nationwide and permanent wildlife exhibition centres can continue to operate.

Energy and Natural Resources minister Datuk Dr Shamsul Anuar Nasarah told the Dewan Rakyat today that this was to ensure these premises can run continuously amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Discussions are on-going to ensure a new model can be introduced to the zoos and the centres,” he said without elaborating while winding up the Supply Bill 2021 for the ministry at the committee stage.

Shamsul added that the ministry will meet with the Zoo Negara management tomorrow to look into its problems.

“This is so we can appropriately resolve the issues they are facing and address the concerns raised by the people,” he said.

Shamsul added the second giant panda cub born in Malaysia named Yi Yi, who turned two on Jan 4 this year, was supposed to be sent back to China in April.

“However, it had to be postponed as the conservatory in China is still closed due to the pandemic.

“The ministry will facilitate the process of sending Yi Yi back to China the soonest possible as per the Malaysia-China Giant Panda International Conservation Agreement that was signed between both countries.

“We had (earlier) initiated the process but it had to be delayed because of the pandemic,” he added.

By Dawn ChanHana Naz Harun.

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Preservation of life must come first

Monday, November 30th, 2020
A Health Ministry worker carrying out a swab test on a foreign worker on Saturday in Meru, Klang. Human lives must take precedence, and not compromised in the search for power and profits. -- NSTP/ASWADI ALIASA Health Ministry worker carrying out a swab test on a foreign worker on Saturday in Meru, Klang. Human lives must take precedence, and not compromised in the search for power and profits. — NSTP/ASWADI ALIAS

FOR most human beings, life is sacred. And it must come first in ensuring that humanity remains respected, dignified and sanctified. All lives matter. Period.

There can be no other way as we closely witness, almost daily for the last few months, events unfolding in the world’s most democratic nation. Ironically, then and even now, innocent lives are wantonly wasted on the political pedestal in the rush to secure power.

A sheer means to an end. Add to that lies, half-truths and fake news in a world made more uncertain by the coronavirus pandemic. We also see how social media is misused and abused to lend support by promoting hatred and racism as well as sexism.

So much so that many global companies launched a worldwide boycott to force change but with little consequence. Therein involves leaders who are disconnected from the reality on the ground when defying lessons brought out so clearly by the pandemic.
Overall, it is not only dehumanising but at once commercialises being human by putting the need for profits above the lives of fellow humans.

So, it is appalling to learn recently how businesses reap unbridled profits from the miseries of others as the pandemic heightened. The protection of life and well-being of workers are found wanting.

One such experience led to a closure of tens of the outlets involved, while reportedly thousands of workers are said to be severely affected at the facilities following a drastic rise in positive Covid-19 cases among them.

It is regrettable that greed seems to have blinded many despite the daily deaths reported at times in the thousands globally.

What with the onslaught of the so-called third waves, many more are affected. In the most advanced economy, hospitalisation is said to be at its peak. No amount of money and technology can give any assurances. It includes vaccines, a new variable that adds to the complexity of the situation.

If they are going to save the day, human lives must take precedence, and not be compromised in the search for power and profits. It is about the collective well-being of humanity. No one is to be left behind. Inclusive, equitable, just and sustainable is the reality of the future, post-pandemic.

This is what the pandemic is now telling so that we can be better prepared. Unfortunately, many have missed it, if not dismissed it blatantly due to selfish reasons or ignorance. Covid-19 has made the invisible, visible. Not in the tangible sense but intangibly — pointing to the values of cleanliness, openness, vigilance, integrity and discipline — spelt Covid.

Each of these is a vital value to break the spread of Covid-19, only if they are infused organically into politics and economics so that the invisible is also made more visible in both words and practices. This is the only way out of the pandemic, as a preparation for the post-pandemic era with a new set of norms.

Not limited to just three Cs and Ws, namely, avoiding crowds, close contact and confined spaces or the wearing of masks, observing safe physical distance, and washing your hands. We also need to add three Rs — be fully responsible in upholding that life is truly revered and respected in whatever we do.

By Dzulkifli Abdul Razak.

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KL places 8th in Expat City Ranking 2020

Monday, November 30th, 2020
KL is one of three Asian cities in the top 10. NSTP/MUHD ZAABA ZAKERIA.KL is one of three Asian cities in the top 10. NSTP/MUHD ZAABA ZAKERIA.

LONDON, Paris and Rome are famed for their history, culture, and commerce. Now, they share something else in common: Expats don’t like them.

The three European capitals attracted some of the lowest rankings in a global survey of more than 15,000 people representing 173 nationalities.

Concerns about health care, safety, work-life balance, and the affordability of housing weighed on their scores in research conducted by InterNations, a Munich-based expat network with around four million members.

“Expats in big cities like New York, Tokyo, Paris, Hong Kong, or London struggle to find affordable housing and are generally dissatisfied with their financial situation,” said Malte Zeeck, the founder and co-chief executive officer of InterNations.

“Expats in these cities are often dissatisfied with their work-life balance, too.”

At the other end of the scale, a quartet of Spanish cities placed in the top 10. Expats gave Valencia, Spain’s third-largest city, the world’s highest score based on its climate, housing affordability, and health care. Just down the list – and around 100 miles down the coast – Alicante, a city of 330,000 people, came in second place. Malaga and Madrid earned 6th and 9th place.

Derek Chandruang knows why Valencia came out on top. The 38-year-old American expat spent 15 years living in London but relocated to Valencia in September. He swapped a three-bedroom shared apartment with two roommates in Britain for a three-bedder of his own in the trendy Valencian neighbourhood of Ruzafa. His apartment, designed in a traditional Spanish fashion with lots of original features, costs him €900 euros (US$1,070) a month to rent.

“Valencia has a really ideal combination of being a city with all the elements of urban life,” said Chandruang, who works as an executive in the music industry.

“Even though it’s a more medium-sized, manageable city with proximity to beaches.”

Aside from the four Spanish cities, Lisbon, Panama City, Singapore, Buenos Aires, Kuala Lumpur, and Abu Dhabi made it into the top 10.

Expats in Lisbon – ranked third – said the city was easy to get settled into, had a great quality of life and fantastic weather. (Portugal is famous for having around 300 days of sunshine a year.) Still, expats in Lisbon gave the local economy relatively average scores, with 62 per cent rating it positively, compared with a global average of 63 per cent.

Work is an area where some of the larger, more traditional expat hubs scored poorly.

Take Rome. Local expats’ scores put it at 65th overall, right above Salmiya, a Kuwaiti city that came in last place. But Rome came in at the very bottom in the “urban work life” category, which takes into consideration issues such as job satisfaction, local career opportunities, job security and work-life balance.

Seoul ranked 61st on that scale, just below Hong Kong at 59.

Paris, ranked 61st, took a hit because of issues surrounding expats’ personal financial satisfaction and housing costs. Roughly three in 10 expats in Paris reported being unhappy with their financial situation and 70 per cent said housing was unaffordable.

Out of 66 cities, London clocked in at 51 and New York at 34. Expats reported positively on career opportunities in these cities, but they came with costs, such as expensive housing or health care. In the US and a number of other traditional hubs for foreign workers, life has gotten more difficult for expats, with government policies restricting immigration for skilled migrants.

Top 10 Best Cities for Expats

1. Valencia, Spain

2. Alicante, Spain

3. Lisbon, Portugal

4. Panama City, Panama

5. Singapore

6. Malaga, Spain

7. Buenos Aires, Argentina

8. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

9. Madrid, Spain

10. Abu Dhabi, UAE .

by Bloomberg.

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Batu Sapi by-election will be held after emergency period ends – EC

Friday, November 27th, 2020

Abdul Ghani Salleh

PUTRAJAYA (Nov 7): The Batu Sapi parliamentary by-election will be held within 60 days after the emergency period ends, said Election Commission (EC) chairman Datuk Abdul Ghani Salleh.

He said it was the same period set when the EC received the official notification of a vacancy for parliamentary or state seats.

“It’s like we just received the notification from the speaker. It means that we have 60 days to carry out the election,” he told a press conference here today.

On Nov 18, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah, made a Proclamation of Emergency for the Batu Sapi parliamentary constituency, in effect cancelling the by-election for the seat.

The Proclamation of Emergency based on Clause (1) Article 150 of the Federal Constitution was made after studying the explanation given by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who had presented his advice based on a decision taken at the Cabinet meeting.

The EC had set Nov 23 for nomination, Dec 1 for early voting and Dec 5 for polling for the Batu Sapi by-election.

The by-election was called after Batu Sapi MP Datuk Liew Vui Keong died of lung infection on Oct 2.

Asked about the possibility of declaration of emergency in Gerik and Bugaya, Abdul Ghani said the EC only carried out the task of conducting elections as enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

On Nov 24, the Dewan Rakyat was told that a declaration of emergency, as the one proclaimed in the Batu Sapi parliamentary constituency, is currently being considered for both Gerik parliamentary constituency and Bugaya state constituency, which are facing a by-election following the death of the respective elected representatives.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan said the declaration, however, depends on the risk assessment by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the National Security Council (MKN).

by Bernama.

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Simultaneous by-elections for Gerik and Bugaya on Jan 16

Friday, November 27th, 2020

Abdul Ghani Salleh

PUTRAJAYA (Nov 27): Simultaneous by-elections for both the Gerik parliamentary seat in Perak and Bugaya state seat in Sabah have been set for Jan 16, 2021.

Announcing this, Election Commission (EC) chairman Datuk Abdul Ghani Salleh said the nomination for both by-elections has also been set for Jan 4, while early voting on Jan 12.

The two by-elections have to be held due to the unexpected vacancies of the seats following the death of the respective incumbents.

The incumbent of Gerik seat, Datuk Hasbullah Osman died on Nov 16, while the incumbent for Bugaya state seat, Manis Muka Mohd Darah, breathed her last on Nov 17.

Hasbullah won the Gerik seat with a 5,528-vote majority in the 14th General Election, while Manis Muka retained her Bugaya state seat by defeating her six opponents with a 6,005-vote majority in the state election on Sept 26 this year.

Abdul Ghani said the campaign period for both by-elections was set for 12 days beginning after the announcement of the names of candidates until 11.59 pm on Jan 16.’

“The EC is expecting 70 per cent voter turnout. The EC is also seeking cooperation from all quarters, including the media and all political parties to lure and encourage the voters to cast their votes,” he said.

Abdul Ghani said for Gerik by-election, the EC will use the third quarter Electoral Roll (DPPR ST3/2020) which has the names of 36,750 voters, comprising 33,675 ordinary voters, military personnel and spouses (2,111), police personnel and spouses (959) and absentee voters overseas (five).

For Bugaya by-election, Abdul Ghani said the EC would also use DPPR ST3/2020 which listed 21,618 registered voters comprising 21,181 ordinary voters and 437 police personnel and spouses.

The nomination and official vote-tallying centre for Gerik by-election will be at the Gerik District Council multipurpose hall, while for the Bugaya by-election, at the Semporna Community Hall.

Abdul Ghani said the EC had made some improvements to the COVID-19 Prevention Guidelines for the Implementation of Election, which was used during the Sabah state election, for use during the two by-elections.

He said, during the campaign, all face-to-face campaign activities, including ceramah, house visit, walkabout and distribution of pamphlets were not allowed.

“Candidates are encouraged to campaign using social media platforms. They are also allowed to put up their banners in the by-election areas,” he said.

However, he said all candidates or their party workers should avoid any contact during the installation of the banners to comply with the physical distancing rule.

Campaign activities using vehicles with loudspeaker are allowed at appropriate times, but must not pull in a crowd or cause a gathering of supporters, he said.

Abdul Ghani said 1,309 election workers will be appointed to handle the Gerik by-election at 23 polling centres with 81 voting channels, with an estimated allocation of RM5.8 million.

For Bugaya, he said 544 workers will be appointed to handle the nine polling centres with 46 voting channels involving an estimated allocation of RM4.7 million.

by Bernama.

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Maradona or Pele? Don’t compare

Friday, November 27th, 2020

PETALING JAYA: The football world lost another legend when Diego Maradona died of a heart attack. But even with his passing, the debate and the spirit of competition between the man famously known for ‘The Hand of God’ and another football legend, Pele, will always live on.

The discussion was played out everywhere around the world for years – who is better? Maradona or Pele?

The answer, at least in a consensus among Malaysians, is that we shouldn’t even be making a comparison to begin with as both were legends in their own right.

On The Star’s Facebook page, user Tanveer Sami said both Pele and Maradona were legends in their respective eras.

User Adialhadi Norawi made a similar comment, pointing out that both were football legends of different times.

“Both had been inspirational. Both were great. No need for comparison. Better to compare between Ronaldo and Messi, ” he said.

Joachim Vincente Peru said both Maradona and Pele were in a class of their own. Each had their own unique skill and personality, he added.

Segar Jeganathan said that both were uniquely great in their own way, adding that Pele used both his legs to play, while Maradona only used his left leg to “rule the world”.

Oviyah Viji, on the other hand, said “my grandfather chooses Pele and my father chooses Maradona. I choose Zidane and my kids might choose… A legend is a legend. No doubt, no fight.”

Zhong HW said comparing Maradona and Pele is like asking to choose “between Mohammad Ali or Mike Tyson, Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal, Lee Chong Wei or Lin Dan, Michael Jackson or Elvis Presley, Nike or Adidas, Coke or Pepsi, the list goes on.”

Not everyone refused to take sides.

According to Guna VS, Pele played in a Brazilian team full of multi-talented players while Maradona played in “an average Argentinian team with limited abilities”.

Tauriel Aragon argued that there was no such thing as total football during Pele’s time.

“Pele could stroll in the field with the ball, planning who to pass it to. But Maradona? They never gave him an inch, ” he said.

Zamree Abd Rahman chose a completely different answer, saying that legendary national football player Mokhtar Dahari would be the greatest footballer of all time.

Boonan Haeriwan Moktar supported the claims, saying that Mokhtar had the talent and skills to go as far as the soccer greats.

“Before Diego Maradona, there was one Mokhtar Dahari. The only problem is ‘Super Mokh’ was born in the wrong country, ” he said.

Maradona died on Wednesday after suffering a heart attack at his home in Buenos Aires, less than a month after his 60th birthday.

Pele, who celebrated his 80th birthday in October days before the Argentine turned 60, was magnanimous on hearing of Maradona’s death. “I lost a great friend and the world lost a legend.”

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Families require greater support to achieve ‘We Take Care of the Family’ goal

Friday, November 27th, 2020
A family is a  basic unit in the formation and establishment of human civilisation. - BERNAMA/file picA family is a basic unit in the formation and establishment of human civilisation. – BERNAMA/file pic

IN his speech at the 2020 National Family Month Celebration, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the theme “We Take Care of the Family” is meant to raise awareness on the importance of the family institution.

A family is a basic unit in the formation and establishment of human civilisation. The foundations in a family with proper core values can be the main pillars in supporting the stability and integrity of a nation. We should never overlook at seemingly minor things, such as the capability to love one another and accepting those different from us, as well as the spirit of neighbourliness as the factors that help form a peaceful and prosperous nation.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, family members have roles to play to protect one another from the virus, as well as the responsibility to curb its spread.

Since the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO) in March, our homes should be our haven, our best defence against Covid-19. Should we need to go out, we must adhere to the standard operating procedures. This is all the more important since most states are put under the Conditional MCO (CMCO).

As most people in these states are required to stay at home, the work-from-home or the online-learning routines are where mutual tolerance, patience and understanding are needed the most. The failure to tolerate a family member may lead to stress and conflicts. Things can worsen if a family no longer has an income.

Various household issues and problems have already occurred even before the MCO, such as the sudden abandonment of a spouse, the husband does not provide enough or at all, third party intervention or altercation with in-laws. The implementation of the MCO became a catalyst to the existing issues.

For some, the MCO might have strengthened familial bonds, but not all experienced this. The MCO might have unravelled dark secrets of some husbands who previously had other wives hidden away.

In an interview conducted with a government agency, household issues that arose during the early days of the MCO were divided into three categories — conflicts that required counselling, conflicts that required immediate legal action but may last for a short while more and conflicts that definitely required immediate legal action.

In another discussion with a certified counsellor, there are at least seven issues that may occur in a family within the first two months of the MCO’s implementation.

These are financial and communication problems, game addiction, conflict related to religious practices, problems linked to hyperactive children, stress and verbal aggression.

These are among the challenges that some families must face before a home can be considered a protector before they can achieve the “We Take Care of the Family” goal.

Family members who are torn by conflicts need to resolve their disputes so that they can live in harmony.

Heart-to-heart discussions need to be made between family members. They need to learn to lower their egos, be more rational; be good listeners as these can improve communication.

Within just two months, the pandemic has badly affected the income of some people. Imagine the damage that it could do for an entire year. Nevertheless, financial problems should not be an excuse for any couple to fight as many others are facing the same situation.

Not all family issues can be resolved easily. There are times when it needs external intervention. This is where society can help provide support to such troubled families.

A comprehensive support system requires the involvement of all parties including government agencies, non-governmental organisations, the private sector and individuals to help one another so that every family can function as per the “We Take Care of the Family” slogan.

By Siti Shamsiah Md Supi.

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New York City’s first Black mayor dies aged 93

Tuesday, November 24th, 2020
Former New York City Mayor David Dinkins attends a Memorial Service for the long time CBS News Anchor Walter Cronkite at Lincoln Center in New York, USA, September 9. - EPA picFormer New York City Mayor David Dinkins attends a Memorial Service for the long time CBS News Anchor Walter Cronkite at Lincoln Center in New York, USA, September 9. – EPA pic

WASHINGTON: David Dinkins, New York City’s first Black mayor, has died, US media reported late Monday. He was 93.

The Democrat served as leader of the city from 1990 to 1993 after defeating Rudy Giuliani and Edward Koch.

His tenure was marked by racial strife – most notably the Crown Heights riots – and criticism that he was not up to the job.

Dinkins died from natural causes at home, the New York Times reported, less than two months after his wife Joyce also passed away.

A compromise candidate who remains New York’s only Black mayor, he inherited a city marked by racism, poverty and violence.

More than a million New Yorkers were on welfare following the recession, and over 1,000 murders were being reported annually.

Dinkins was elected as a stabilizing force, and famously described New York as a “gorgeous mosaic,” but he struggled to make headway.

Responsible for enlarging the police force to combat crime following the murder of a Utah tourist, he slashed the city’s budgets for education, housing, health, and social services.

But Dinkins also appointed one of the city’s most diverse cabinets – including numerous women, and New York’s first Puerto Rican fire commissioner and an openly gay Black psychiatrist as its mental health commissioner.

He was incapable of controlling his headstrong cabinet, the New York Times said, and he was heavily criticised for the subsequent policy gridlock.

Known for his tailored linen suits and unfailing courtesy, critics often suggested that Dinkins was “too nice” to lead the city.

Born July 10 1927, Dinkins grew up in Trenton, New Jersey, the New York Times reported.

In 1945, he joined the Marines and later attended the historically Black Howard University, where he majored in mathematics.

He married classmate Joyce, and the couple moved back to New York where Dinkins practised as a lawyer after putting himself through Brooklyn Law School, the New York Post reported.

He was appointed City Clerk in 1975 and served for a decade, the NYT said, before winning the mayoralty in 1989.

Dinkins was ousted by Giulini after only a single term in office, but in his concession speech, the Washington Post said that he told the crowd: “My friends, we have made history. Nothing can ever take that away.”

After office, he taught at Columbia University and hosted a local radio programme, the Post added.

He is survived by his children, Donna and David Jr., two grandchildren.

by AFP.

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Biden to choose ex-Fed chair Yellen as first woman Treasury secretary, allies say

Tuesday, November 24th, 2020
FILE PHOTO Former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen speaks during a panel discussion at the American Economic AssociationAllied Social Science Association ASSA 2019 meeting in Atlanta Georgia U.S. January 4 2019.  REUTERSChristopher Aluka Berry

FILE PHOTO: Former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen speaks during a panel discussion at the American Economic Association/Allied Social Science Association (ASSA) 2019 meeting in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S., January 4, 2019. REUTERS/Christopher Aluka Berry

WILMINGTON, Del./WASHINGTON – (Reuters) – U.S. President-elect Joe Biden is expected to tap former Federal Reserve Chair Janet Yellen as U.S. Treasury Secretary, putting a woman in the job for the first time, according to two Democratic allies.

With Yellen, 74, Biden has chosen an experienced policymaker respected by Congress, international finance officials, progressives and business interests, and one that has called for opening fiscal spending taps to boost economic recovery.

A spokesman for Biden’s transition team declined to comment. Yellen, reached by phone, also declined to comment. The Wall Street Journal earlier on Monday reported that Biden planned to nominate Yellen as his Treasury chief.

Jen Psaki, a Biden transition adviser, tweeted that the president-elect “looks forward to announcing some members of his economic team early next week who will work with him to build the economy back better.”

Earlier on Monday, Biden tapped veteran diplomat Antony Blinken as his new Secretary of State and named other members of his national security team.

U.S. President Donald Trump continues to dispute without evidence Biden’s victory over him in the Nov. 3 election.


Yellen has called for increased government spending to boost the U.S. economy out of a deep recession brought on by the coronavirus and has frequently cited growing economic inequality in the United States as a threat to America’s values and its future.

At Treasury, she would have a major role in influencing U.S. fiscal and tax policy, tools she did not have at the Fed, which she chaired from 2014 to 2018. She was the Fed’s vice chair from 2010 to 2014.

Yellen was chosen over two other seasoned economic policymakers, including current Fed Board of Governors member Lael Brainard, 58, who served as the Treasury’s undersecretary for international affairs early in the Obama administration. Also under consideration was former Fed governor Roger Ferguson, 69, who recently announced his retirement as chairman of pension fund TIAA.

Ferguson would have been the first Black Treasury secretary.

U.S. stocks picked up ground following the report, with investors seeing Yellen as a force for more fiscal action to combat the economic crisis unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic, and as someone in a strong position to ensure the Treasury will continue to work closely with the Fed.

“Yellen should be a very strong advocate for more aggressive fiscal policy, and given her gravitas around Washington, it may make her the single most effective fiscal expansion advocate Biden could have picked,” said Tom Graff, head of fixed income at Brown Advisory in Baltimore.

The S&P 500 Index rose from roughly unchanged on the day at the time of the initial report to gain 0.57% by the closing bell. Prices of U.S. Treasury securities remained lower on the day. The dollar was little changed.

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, a rival to Biden for the Democratic nomination for president and also considered a possibility for the Treasury post, tweeted that Yellen would be “an outstanding choice’ and praised her for having ’stood up to Wall Street banks” as Fed chair.

“Experience, knowledge of the system, and a deep understanding of monetary policy – she brings a lot to the table,” said Robert Pavlik, senior portfolio manager at Dakota Wealth in Fairfield, Connecticut. “And having an intimate knowledge of how the Fed works and bringing that to the Treasury, it’s a good move.”

Current Fed Chair Jerome Powell served as a member of the Board of Governors through all four years of Yellen’s term as head of the Fed, and he succeeded her in 2018.

The daughter of a family doctor and elementary school teacher in Brooklyn, New York, Yellen earned a doctorate in economics from Yale and has taught economics at the University of California, Berkeley, Harvard University and the London School of Economics (LSE).

by David Lawder and Trevor Hunnicutt; Additional reporting by Tim Ahmann, Eric Beech, Jonnelle Marte, Kate Duguid and Stephen Culp; Editing by Mohammad Zargham and Andrea Ricci.

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Increase BPR payment for single senior citizens

Monday, November 23rd, 2020
Given the financial constraints, this was possibly the best the government could do to prepare the country for next year. - NSTP file picGiven the financial constraints, this was possibly the best the government could do to prepare the country for next year. – NSTP file pic

LETTERS: Although there are different views about the 2021 Budget, the fact remains that it has been worked out by experienced hands at the Finance Ministry, Treasury and Bank Negara.

All Malaysians expect that the budget will help the nation when the repercussions of the lockdown and economic slowdown are more acutely felt next year.

Given the financial constraints, this was possibly the best the government could do to prepare the country for next year.

One aspect of the budget pertaining to single people under the BPR caught my attention and I want to elaborate on it. The amount provided for singles under the BPH has been reduced to RM350, although the eligibility has been brought down from 40 years to 21 years.

However, I feel that the budget has overlooked a group of people in the singles category – single senior citizens. They include widows, widowers or bachelors. These people belong to a vulnerable group that needs the help of the government during these tough times.

These people are either retired or poor, and do not have any income or are dependent on their children who themselves could be facing hard times now. Furthermore, this group has health issues that need treatment, payment for hospitalisation and transportation expenses to hospital.

These singles cannot be compared to the singles in the above-21 age group who are usually working, in good health and drawing a reasonable income befitting their qualifications and work. RM350 for this group may be enough if they don’t complain.

However, for single senior citizens, the amount needs to be higher – if possible, RM1,000. Those with families are paid RM1,200 – RM1,800 next year.

Please spare a thought for single senior citizens who have, during their prime, given their best to the nation. I hope that the Prime Minister and the Finance Minister will look into this issue and rectify the shortcoming.

by V Thomas.

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