Archive for the ‘General Topics’ Category

Jesselton Mall sees increase in shoppers

Monday, July 6th, 2020

A view of the Jesselton Mall.
KOTA KINABALU: The Jesselton Mall is seeing a return to footfall, especially by local visitors, since the implementation of the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO), according to its Leasing Manager Desmond Liew.
“Jesselton Duty-Free has seen a steady increase of local shoppers indulging on their favourite brands,” he said in a statement.
“Be it watches, handbags, shoes or fashion clothing and accessories, the upward shopping trend indicates a recovery mode.

“The rise in locals visiting the mall signals that the misguided notion that Jesselton Duty-Free is exclusively for international travellers is diminishing.”

Jesselton Duty-Free, he said, is a collaboration between Southeast Asia’s leading luxury goods and retail specialist Valiram and premier property developer Jesselton Waterfront Holdings.

Pic Source:

“The mall has introduced to East Malaysia several luxury brands such as Versace, Hugo Boss, Polo Ralph Lauren and Lacoste, to name a few.
“Leading Italian fashion house Salvatore Ferragamo is slated to open soon,” he said.
He added that while Jesselton Duty-Free houses a large perfume and cosmetic section, this is however, only for international travellers as the collection and pricing is strictly for travel retail.
“Malaysians can enjoy all other brands within Jesselton Duty-Free.”

The mall also houses fine gourmet brands like Godiva and TWG Tea.

Since being allowed to reopen for dine in, he said, Pound Restaurant is seeing a steady return of customers and regularly booked out for lunch and dinners.
Other than specialty stores like Polar Ice Cream and Soil and Seeds, the mall is also looking forward to the opening of its basement anchor, Metro Grocers together with a few other food and beverages outlet, including Aori Ramen and Granny Shepherd Pie, in the coming weeks.

Pic Source:

Liew said, Jesselton Mall focuses on offering a distinguished shopping destination with a tenant mix to cater for a trending lifestyle “where luxury meets convenience.”
“In addition to creating an integrated community for residents from Jesselton Residences, located just above the mall, Jesselton Mall also aims to fulfil the needs of lifestyle enthusiasts, and high-income earners within its prime catchment area in the city’s central business district,” he said.
With the lifting of interstate travel ban and gradually cross-border travel, he said, Jesselton Mall’s close position right next to Jesselton Point Ferry Terminal poses to a be a potential plus point for inbound local and international travellers.

“The mall’s ultimate goal is to serve as the place to be for quality living and dining.”

With the new norms in place, the mall also practises more stringent safety rules in accordance to the standard operating procedures (SOPs) by the Health Ministry.
Liew also said the developer and landlords have taken proactive steps to support tenants through rental assistance in hope of bringing some relief to ease cash flows from the unprecedented impact of this challenging period
“In line with the mall’s approach to support the recovery of the local retail sector, it is now offering attractive leasing packages and up to six-month free rental period,” he said.

Read more @

Ensuring fire safety at hospitals

Monday, July 6th, 2020

JOHOR BARU: The Fire and Rescue Department is working with 72 hospitals nationwide – both government and private – to ensure they meet fire safety standards and are eligible for fire certificates (FCs).

A task force had been formed to help these hospitals improve their fire safety procedures, said Fire and Rescue Department director-general Datuk Mohammad Hamdan Wahid (pic).

He said this included installing automated sprinkler systems, fire doors and alarms, repairing or fixing the main fire alarm panels, and installing and repairing hose reel systems.

“Some of the hospitals have been given between six months to two years to comply with the requirements in order for them to get their FCs.

“Each hospital has different issues in meeting their FC safety requirements.

“We understand the constraints as some of these hospitals such as the Sultanah Aminah Hospital (HSA) in Johor is more than 100 years old.

“It will require more time and a big budget,” he said.

He added that sufficient time frame was being given as the cost of installing all these fire systems in old buildings would run into the millions.

On June 28, a fire broke out at the Women’s Medical Ward 1 at HSA where 24 patients were warded.

Fortunately, there were no casualties.

On Oct 25, 2016, a major fire occurred at the same hospital, killing six patients.

Hamdan said that all the hospital authorities and stakeholders were cooperative with the department.

He spoke on the importance for hospitals to have FCs since such premises were categorised as high risk when it comes to fire safety as they house sick people.

While waiting for hospitals to

get their FCs, he said the department had taken proactive action including carrying out frequent

fire drills, training and setting up more emergency response teams, installing basic portable fire systems and informing the nearest fire stations to quickly respond during a fire.

Asked about the number of hospitals with valid FCs nationwide, he said presently 158 government and private hospitals had such certification.

He said the public should not confuse FC with the Certificate of Completion and Compliance (CCC).

Under the Fire Services Act, designated buildings including government buildings nationwide are required to have FC, which is renewed annually.

These include libraries, hospitals and home treatment centres, hotels, hostels and dormitories, offices, shops, factories, assembly areas and storage, and general facilities.

“For those without FCs, we will give them notices to instal or repair their fire safety systems.

“However, during this time, they can still operate,” he said.

He added that under Section 33 of the Fire Services Act, those who did not comply risk legal action including a RM50,000 fine or five years’ imprisonment.

Presently, he said the department has issued 4,233 FCs nationwide.


Read more @

Teachers can set example for students in new normal

Monday, July 6th, 2020
Teachers, staff, contract workers, security guards and canteen workers should serve as role models for schoolchildren who are about to familiarise themselves with standard operating procedures (SOP) in schools. – NSTP file picTeachers, staff, contract workers, security guards and canteen workers should serve as role models for schoolchildren who are about to familiarise themselves with standard operating procedures (SOP) in schools. – NSTP file pic

LETTERS: As a result of the smooth reopening of schools with the first batch returning on June 24, the next group with a bigger number of schoolchildren will follow suit starting July 15.

The much-awaited news may have made those students jump for joy as schools are their second homes, while teachers and friends their second families. Friendships will be rekindled while the thirst for knowledge in classrooms will be quenched.

Are we are creating a safer learning environment for schoolchildren? It is best for them to learn by example. Teachers, staff, contract workers, security guards and canteen workers should serve as role models for schoolchildren who are about to familiarise themselves with standard operating procedures (SOP) in schools.

This observational learning strategy will shorten the time needed for adapting to the “new normal”, as schoolchildren watch and imitate the behaviours of adults.

This psychological approach will benefit slow learners who may have short-term memory or experience difficulties understanding simple concepts and basic information, including the ones that will be shared by teachers regarding the importance of making safety the priority and following the new school rules.

The involvement of district education offices, state education departments as well as the Education Ministry is expected as they show support and concern about schools that strives to ensure the success of implementing the new normal.

Officers may pay visits to schools to check on school preparedness as well as the effectiveness of learning in classrooms with SOP being applied.

These visits will prove that the government views Covid-19 as a serious matter that could affect the entire organisation . Given the fact that hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren will return school simultaneously, there may be teachers and parents who feel uneasy.

In this case, they should calm their fears by resisting the urge to overthink while believing that teamwork will improve the situation.

This too shall pass.

To all teachers, may the force be with you in helping the country champion this battle.


Read more @

SIE expo is put off to next year: FSI

Friday, July 3rd, 2020

KOTA KINABALU: In compliance with the special operating procedure (SOP) of the Health Ministry and to protect the health of all participants, the Sabah International Expo 2020 (SIE 2020) will now be held next year.

“Instead of holding our SIE Expo from  Sept 17-20 this year at the newly completed Sabah International Convention Centre (SICC) , we decided to move the date to October 21-24 next year  due to the Covid-19 pandemic,” Federation of Sabah Industries (FSI) Honorary Life President Datuk Seri Wong Khen Thau  (pic) said.

He said the event will again feature  the International Business Luncheon Talk (SIBLT 2020) and the SIE 2020.

Wong, who is also the Malaysian International Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MICCI) Sabah Chairman, added SIE Expo is jointly organised by FSI, MICCI Sabah branch and its programme is sanctioned  under the State Government through the Trade and Industry Ministry since the year 2000.

“These premier biennial events is endorsed by the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade),” he added.

Wong said SIE 2020 is expected to be participated by delegates and exhibitors from  more  than 30 countries

The four-day expo, he said will house more than 300 booths from 18 major business sectors, namely Agriculture, Fisheries, Palm Oil, Green Technology, Oil & Gas, Food & Beverages, Services, Forestry, Tourism, Education, Finance, Property, Interior Design, Automobile, Digital Application, Machinery, Spare Part and Furniture.

Wong said:”Sabah International Exposition is one of the largest and most successful trade expositions organised in Sabah and the surrounding region, having been held once every two years since year 2000”.

Furthermore, he said the event  has successfully attracted over 350,000 visitors in total.

“These included participation from over 50 countries as exhibitors and delegates,” Wong said

Meanwhile, Event Manager Dayang Surianti Daud said the Sabah International Business Talk (SIBT) is a pre-expo programme organised in conjunction with the SIE and targeting more than 500 delegates.

She said the business forum  will feature heads of BIMP-EAGA Region as guest speakers presenting topics concerning regional development and key economic issues in the region.

“All are welcome to participate in the upcoming SIBLT & SIE 2021, a showcase to Sabah’s potential in its trade and investment opportunities, both regionally and internationally,” Wong and Surianti stressed.

They also stressed that the event would portray Sabah as the Hub for Far East and the Ideal Environment for business as well as to live in.

By: Nikko Fabian.

Homestay operators in Sabah urged to apply for RM20,000 upgrade fund

Friday, July 3rd, 2020

KOTA KINABALU: Registered homestay operators in Sabah are being called on to apply for the RM20,000 fund for upgrading purposes from the state government.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew (pic), who is also state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, said this would be made available through her ministry.

“We will process the applications when we receive them from licensed homestay operators,” she said in a statement on Thursday (July 2).

The fund is part of a special RM10mil grant for the upgrade of homestay facilities and community-based tourism products under the Sabah New Deal as announced by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal recently.

Qualified homestay operators are certified and registered by the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry (Motac).

The state ministry and Sabah Tourism Board (STB) are represented in the certification committee under Motac.

Liew, who received a courtesy call from Batu Sapi MP Datuk Liew Vui Keong on Thursday (July 2), was briefed on tourism highlights in his parliamentary constituency.

He disclosed that efforts were underway to transform the Batu Sapi Heritage Park and Pasir Putih Beach into tourist hot spots.

“Our focus is on maintaining cleanliness of these natural attractions and resolving the problem of water pollution in the affected area, among other aspects,” he added.

Vui Keong viewed the grant from the state government as good news for local tourism players, believing that domestic tourism would flourish again.

“I would encourage homestay operators in Sandakan, in general, and Batu Sapi, in particular, to avail themselves of the funding, so that they are ready to reopen their doors to visitors by the end of the recovery movement control order on Aug 31,” said Vui Keong.


Read more @

Weapons of mass suffering, death

Friday, July 3rd, 2020
People queuing to receive packages for precautions against Covid-19  in Teheran in March. Iran’s desperate need for  medical equipment and medication by relaxing sanctions has  been rejected by the US. -AFP picPeople queuing to receive packages for precautions against Covid-19 in Teheran in March. Iran’s desperate need for medical equipment and medication by relaxing sanctions has been rejected by the US. -AFP pic

NORTH Korea lost more than 500,000 people to hunger in the last 20 years. According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, food supply fell drastically and severe malnutrition followed, especially when UN and unilateral sanctions were ramped up following Pyongyang’s withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003.

The United States embargo on arms imports into Cuba in 1958 was extended to all imports in 1962. Cuba ceased to pose any kind of a threat to the US after the collapse of the Soviet bloc in 1989. But US sanctions have been maintained, periodically enhanced and extended to secondary sanctions on third countries. Cuba has fallen into a grave economic crisis. There are shortages of food and medicine.

The unilateral sanctions on Cuba have been condemned by the UN General Assembly every year since 1992 as a violation of international law. The vote has been near-unanimous. The last vote last year saw 187 UN members supporting the resolution.

The almost universal condemnation has not moved the US.

Iran is back under a harsh sanctions regime after the US withdrew unilaterally from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2018. Ironically, the US was one of the main architects of the JCPOA. Repeated IAEA confirmation that Iran is complying fully with the programme has been rejected by the US. EU attempts to bypass US secondary sanctions, so that Iran can return to the JCPOA even without US participation, have failed.

On Oct 3, 2018, the International Court of Justice issued an interim court order to the US to end sanctions that impacted on humanitarian goods and civil aviation because they violated its 1955 Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations and Consular Rights with Iran. The US response was to withdraw from the treaty.

The plea by Teheran and the appeals by Europe and the international community that the US respond to Iran’s desperate need for Covid-19 medical equipment and medication by relaxing sanctions have been rejected.

The existing sanctions regime is seriously flawed. Abuses and excesses have been extensive and sustained. Criticism had come from many quarters. Past and present secretaries general of the UN, the Office for the High Commissioner of Human Rights, the International Committee of the Red Cross, Medecins Sans Frontieres and Pope John Paul II, to name a few.

Current practices, especially those that are contributing to the humanitarian crises in several countries, need urgent review. Five areas may be highlighted.

First, the UN could further clarify charter provisions and tighten practices. Proposals to sanction countries and other entities should first be thoroughly discussed under Article 39 before resolutions are considered under Article 41. Criteria to be met before a state is sanctioned could also be set to minimise inconsistency and political selectivity.

Sanctions committees established by the SC to monitor the implementation of sanctions should be more transparent in their reports. Sanctions regimes that fail to achieve their objectives should be re-examined and other options considered.

The legality of unilateral sanctions should be addressed. The UN must take a stand against them. They bypass UN authority and belong to bygone pre-UN anarchic eras, when hegemonistic states acted as they pleased.

Second, lift the sanctions on Cuba. Launch a more vocal global campaign against them. “Democracy” cannot be forced.

Sixty years of external coercion have failed. Other issues have to be found to secure Cuban American votes in Florida. The financial claims that the US has against Cuba should be pursued in the courts.

Third, the US in particular, but also the UN and other parties should adopt a less draconian, more discriminating sanctions policy that pays heed to the humanitarian welfare of innocent Koreans . Food and medical supplies, and the resources to secure them, are of the utmost urgency.

The Six Party Talks is a flop. Credible third-party mediation should be sought for the North Korea issue. Europe offers several possibilities. Negotiate to satisfy the legitimate security concerns of all relevant parties, including North Korea’s. Yes, it too has them.

The US can adopt a less doctrinaire hardline stance. Insistence on “complete, verifiable and irreversible disarmament” is no longer relevant after North Korea acquired the bomb. More realistic would be to put in place iron-clad measures to assure that Pyongyang will not expand its nuclear weapon capabilities.

Human rights and “democracy’ are not relevant to the peace agenda. They should be pursued through other, more constructive, means. Seventy years of coercion have not worked.

Fourth, re-instate JCPOA. Alleviate sanctions pressure on Iran, especially on the vulnerable sections of its population.

The US may also consider complying with the ICJ interim court order. It is fitting, because it sees itself as the world’s leading champion of international law. Iran is in dire need of medical supplies to combat lethal diseases.

Democratic “regime change” is not a credible US sanctions policy for Iran. It was the US, working with the UK, that engineered the coup against the democratic government of Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh in 1953 and installed the oppressive absolute monarchy of the Shah of Iran.

And fifth, the widespread practice of imposing secondary sanctions should cease. They are illegal.

Political and economic sanctions are powerful instruments. Used responsibly, they contribute to international peace and security. Abused and enforced for decades, they become weapons of mass suffering and death. The international community, working through the UN and other fronts, can help ensure the former and prevent the latter.

By Tan Sri Jawhar Hassan.

Read more @

Hypermarket to help Kemabong farmers market produce

Saturday, June 27th, 2020

Jamawi (second  right) with Goh (right) after their meeting.

KOTA KINABALU: Bataras Hypermarket has in principle agreed to help farmers from Kemabong market their agricultural produce.

Kemabong assemblyman Jamawi Jaafar said he had discussed the matter with Bataras owner Goh Thian Teck and the latter had, in principle, agreed to market agricultural products from Kemabong in all 21 outlets throughout the state.

Jamawi said all Bataras hypermarkets will set up an area dedicated to agricultural products from Kemabong in their premises.

“As a start, we will set up a collection centre which will also be equipped with a packaging system and high technology storage in Kemabong. This is where all the agricultural products will go to before distribution to the hypermarkets,” said Jamawi.

He added that he will facilitate the initial funding to clear out the identified site for the collection centre.

“This is an opportunity for farmers in Kemabong to market their produce other than just depending on business at the weekly tamu. I hope that folks with idle land in Kemabong will consider venturing into agriculture to supplement their income,” Jamawi said.

He however reminded the farmers to ensure that their agriculture products are of top quality in order to get the best market price.

REad more @

Microsoft to permanently close retail stores worldwide

Saturday, June 27th, 2020
The showroom at Microsoft store sits empty on June 26, 2020 in Corte Madera, California. Microsoft announced that it plans to close all of its 83 brick-and-mortar stores and switch to an online only platform. The company says it will keep their New York City, London, Redmond, Washington and Sydney, Australia storefronts open to showcase their technology but not to sell their products.   Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFPThe showroom at Microsoft store sits empty on June 26, 2020 in Corte Madera, California. Microsoft announced that it plans to close all of its 83 brick-and-mortar stores and switch to an online only platform. The company says it will keep their New York City, London, Redmond, Washington and Sydney, Australia storefronts open to showcase their technology but not to sell their products. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP

SAN FRANCISCO: Microsoft said on Friday it will close its stores around the world, moving its retail operations online and keeping only four locations that will be transformed into “experience centres.”

The move means the estimated 100 Microsoft stores closed due to the coronavirus pandemic will not reopen as the tech giant enters “a new approach to retail,” according to a statement.

“Microsoft will continue to invest in its digital storefronts on, and stores in Xbox and Windows, reaching more than 1.2 billion people every month in 190 markets,” the statement said.

The four locations that will become Microsoft Experience Centers are in London, New York, Sydney and at the compay’s Redmond, Washington headquarters.

Retail team members will “serve customers from Microsoft corporate facilities and remotely providing sales, training, and support,” the company said.

Microsoft said it will set aside US$450 million to cover the costs of closing the locations.

“Our sales have grown online as our product portfolio has evolved to largely digital offerings, and our talented team has proven success serving customers beyond any physical location,” said Microsoft corporate vice president David Porter.

“We are grateful to our Microsoft Store customers and we look forward to continuing to serve them online and with our retail sales team at Microsoft corporate locations.”

Microsoft in recent years has been relying more on its enterprise services such as cloud computing, with the retail locations focusing on its Surface tablets and laptops as well as Xbox gaming gear. But the physical stores failed to gain the momentum of rival Apple.

Independent technology analyst Neil Cybart said the closings are coming because “the Surface business increasingly looks to be losing momentum in the consumer space.”

by AFP.

Read more @

‘Asean way’ not possible this time’ around

Friday, June 26th, 2020

PUTRAJAYA: This year’s Asean Summit will not see leaders, ministers and officials having deep discussions along the corridors or at a quiet corner over coffee.

What is described by Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein as the “Asean way” – where physical interactions have at times serve as the key to resolving issues and decision-making – will not be put to use in today’s meeting.

For the first time, the meeting of Asean leaders, to be hosted by Vietnam, will be held virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Hishammuddin admitted that while a virtual summit could not be avoided, the downside of it was that the Asean way of doing things, which is to interact face-to-face, would not be happening.

“Many issues were decided along the corridors, over coffee and meals. For instance, an informal meeting over dinner among Asean foreign ministers will usually set the tone for the summit.

“This year, our so-called informal session was via video conference and that takes away a bit of the strength and uniqueness of Asean. But at the end of the day, we are not allowing the pandemic to stop us from getting the work done for the good of the region,” he told reporters yesterday.Hishammuddin said the meeting would among others discuss comprehensive recovery efforts following the impact of the Covid-19, including cross-border travel between two neighbouring “green” countries in the region, known as “green bubble”.

He said the movement of people was important to kickstart tourism and regional economies.

“However, this must be accompanied by standard operating procedure (SOP) as we must ensure the safety of the people.”

The “green bubble” or “green lanes” concept involves easing travel restrictions between two or more countries where local infections and cases are low.

For example, Singapore is said to be in talks with several counties, such as Australia, China and South Korea, to establish such “green lanes” among them.

Malaysian health authorities said that it would only consider introducing the “green bubble” concept in easing the country’s cross-border travel when the Covid-19 infections come under control during the recovery movement control period.

In discussing the reopening of borders with his Singapore counterpart Vivian Balakrishnan, Hishammuddin said both countries agreed on a step-by-step approach with SOP and health guidelines in place.

To a question, he said Wisma Putra would facilitate arrangements and diplomatic relations should the Home Ministry decide to allow Myanmar to repatriate its people who are here without valid documents.

“Wisma Putra will wait for the Home Ministry to decide on the matter,” he said.

Hishammuddin was responding to reports that Myanmar has asked for Malaysia’s assistance in repatriating illegal workers following reports that eight suicides of undocumented migrants from the country had taken place.


Read more @

Family of five living in cow pen since 2012

Friday, June 26th, 2020

A FAMILY of five in Kota Baru, Kelantan, has called a cow pen home for the past eight years after a fire destroyed their former house, Harian Metro reported.

Nasarudin Mat Ali, 39, told the daily that his wife Nur Syazana Ali, 30, and children Mohamad Hakimi Nasarudin, 13, Nor Najwa Balkis, eight, and Naufal Basri, four, were living with his parents in Kampung Kuala Besar, Badang, but the house was razed in 2012.

Although a state assemblyman had rebuilt the house, the new one was too small for his family of five, said Nasarudin.

“I didn’t want to burden my parents. So, I decided to repair the cow pen and turn it into our home,” he said.

Although it does not have a bathroom, the family uses the one in his parents’ house, which is about 40m away.

Nasarudin, who earns RM50 a day as a tiler, said his income was not constant due to the nature of the job.

> The daily also reported that Datuk Seri Siti Nurhaliza would be releasing her latest album next month.

Siti, whose full name is Siti Nurhaliza Tarudin, will release her album ManifestaSITI2020 on July 3.

This will be her 18th studio-recorded solo album, with the first being Siti Nurhaliza 1 that came out in 1996.

The 41-year-old singer said she found satisfaction in releasing an entire album rather than just singles online.

“This album was the result of cooperation between my company Siti Nurhaliza Productions and Universal Music Malaysia.

“It’s also important for me (to release an entire album) as it gives others a chance to show their creativity – not just me but producers, composers and lyricists,” she said.

> The sighting of a crocodile on a riverbank at Kampung Telaga Gayong in Pasir Putih, Kelantan, had alarmed villagers, Sinar Harian reported.

Teacher Mohd Nasaruddin Deraman, 50, noticed the 3m-long crocodile as he was walking home from SMK Kamil at about 12.30pm on Wednesday..

He said he was crossing a bridge when he saw the crocodile.

He said the presence of the crocodile was worrying as many people went there to fish and village children would play there.

The Wildlife and National Parks Department said it would send its personnel to investigate.

by C. Aruno,Hanis Zainal and R. Aravinthan.

Read more @