Archive for the ‘Ethics, Morality and Patriotism’ Category

Maintain good cognitive health

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

We should use our minds fully as mental inactivity can hinder our development mentally, emotionally, physically and socially.

TAKING good care of cognitive health is something unthinkable for many. The majority of us would find it strange with what cognitive health is, and some would even be wondering what cognition has to do with health and well-being.

What is cognition, why is it necessary to take good care of one’s cognition or cognitive status, and what are the steps to maintain good cognitive health?

Cognition is a hypothetical construct, accepted as one of the most fundamental elements of human beings, besides emotional and physical components. Generally, cognition is understood as a platform where all mental processes take place.

The platform resides within the most delicate and sensitive human organ, i.e., the brain. Upon cognition rest mental processes such as attention and concentration, perception, remembering, thinking and reasoning, decision-making, problem-solving, planning, and so on.

They are also understood as higher-order cognitive processes, because they help humans to function as they are supposed to, they help define what humans are and thus, differentiate between humans and non-human entities.

The mental processes are highly important to ensure the survival of humans in this life. Therefore, for the cognitive processes to be functioning effectively and efficiently, they have to be well managed, and their health status always in check.

This is similar to physical health and emotional well-being that are required so that humans can function as well as they possibly can. For this reason, everyone should bear in mind that cognitive health is defined as the ability of the brain to function and perform all mental processes required with full capacity, healthily, and efficiently.

Cognitive health is not mental health or mental illness, but it determines the health of everyone’s mental, emotional and physical health. One’s physical and emotional states affect cognition and vice-versa.

Similarly, when cognition is not healthy or is dysfunctional, one cannot function as one used to, because one’s mind has lost its ability to guide one to behave as a human.

Even so-called normal human beings may have their cognitive abilities dysfunctional, which affects their life for the worse. In addition, weak cognitive functions and abilities may affect the pattern of human relations and interaction negatively.

Why does human cognition become dysfunctional? There are many reasons that are responsible for the dysfunctioning of human cognition and mental capacities that later affect general human health and well-being.

One of them is cognitive inactivity. This refers to the inability of a person to fully utilise his mental capacity in order to promote productivity and bring or create an energetic environment for his life.

Mental inactivity occurs when someone does not stimulate his mental ability as required and that will result in mental lethargy and later on hinder the full functioning of a person mentally, emotionally, physically, as well as socially. Even the milliseconds of mental inactivity may lead to some damage to the person and his environment.

For example, while driving in a car on a massively congested road, when someone is not fully attending to his environment or being distracted, it may lead to an accident. In fact, long periods of mental inactivity are proven to damage brain plasticity and deterioration of brain functions.

Furthermore, a situation when a person is, to a certain extent, perplexed with personal or social issues that limit their mental capacity from functioning fully is dangerous since it may lead to sad consequences and even fatalistic phenomena.

An example of such a situation includes personal emotional distress, or when one is being inflicted with emotional and mental health issues. Among them are depression and anxiety attacks.

In fact, outbursts and impulsive and uncontrollable anger also incur bad consequences for humans due to the limited mental capacity they bring on. One with depression runs out of one’s productive time by thinking a lot on the dark side of his experiences and throwing away the bright side of his life.

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Be courageous, Perak Sultan tells judges

Saturday, March 18th, 2017
Arifin (left) with Sultan Nazrin.

Arifin (left) with Sultan Nazrin.

KUALA LUMPUR: The country needs courageous judges to instil confidence in the judicial system so that the institution remains respected, said Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah.

Describing the current situation in the country as “challenging”, the Perak Ruler said it was crucial to ensure that the public has a high and clear regard of the judiciary.

“We live in challenging times, in which our institutions sometimes seem to be under threat.

“More than ever, we need courageous and fair-minded judges to instil confidence that the judicial system remains sacrosanct in guarding the rights, interests and liberty of all,” Sultan Nazrin said in his address at the launch of the book “Justice Above All: Selected judgments of Tun Arifin Zakaria with commentaries”.

The book was launched in conjunction with the upcoming retirement of Arifin as Malaysia’s 13th Chief Justice.

Arifin was sworn in as Chief Justice on Sept 12, 2011, taking over the position from Tun Zaki Azmi.

Sultan Nazrin added that judges must be independent, impartial and have integrity.

He said judges must also strive relentlessly to dispense justice in accordance with the Rule of Law, which among others provides the foundation for economic growth and progress.

“By providing fair and prompt judicial decisions on matters concerning the enforcement of commercial rights, a well-functioning judicial system helps to promote a competitive and attractive economic climate in the country.

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Reaffirming Constitutional supremacy

Friday, March 17th, 2017

LAST week a Roundtable Discussion was organised by Perkasa, the Malay rights pressure group, to examine the “Rukunegara Muqaddimah Perlembagaan” (RMP) proposal by a citizens’ group to convert our Rukunegara into our Constitution’s Preamble.

Perkasa concluded that the RMP campaign “would be detrimental to Malay and Bumiputra interests”.

To begin with, Perkasa should be congratulated for the peaceful, democratic and civilised manner in which it put its views forward. In the past we have had individuals and groups resorting to threats of violence, rape and intimidation against people with differing views.

However, the substance of what was said at the Perkasa confabulation deserves examination.

Motives: One learned speaker alleged that those who support this RMP initiative have a hidden agenda. In reply, I wish to say two things. First, this demonisation is a game two can play. In reciprocity one could ask whether there are some inarticulate agendas in the RMP opponents’ minds since they are questioning our nation’s venerated ideology, denigrating it and depicting it as a threat to Islam and Bumiputra rights.

One must not forget that the Rukunegara was formulated by a council headed by Tun Abdul Razak whose concern for Malay empowerment can hardly be doubted. The council was composed of many towering, iconic personalities from all races, religions and regions.

The Rukunegara’s teachings have been drilled into our children’s minds for 47 years. Suddenly, a group of patriots are finding the Rukunegara’s principles and objectives a hidden threat to their well-being and a contradiction with some core provisions of the Constitution!

In fact, the Rukunegara and the Federal Constitution complement each other. A greater understanding of the Rukunegara will restore, not weaken the Constitution.

Second, there is nothing hidden about the aims of the RMP initiative. The aims are to reassert the supremacy of the Constitution by adding to it the wisdom of the Rukunegara; to restore the spirit of moderation, accommodation and multi-culturalism that animated the leaders of our independence; to promote greater federal-state comity especially in relation to Sabah and Sarawak; and to express concern at the decline of national consensus on major issues.

Constitutional supremacy: The Constitution is our chart and compass and our sail and anchor. Regrettably, many post-1990 constitutional practices (like State Assemblies trespassing into federal legislative jurisdiction; or the ecclesiastical authorities of one religion raiding the places of worship of another religion) undermine constitutional supremacy. These practices also violate the ideals of the Rukunegara.

Moderation: Though with some flaws, our Constitution was a masterpiece of compromise, compassion and moderation. It provided a rock-solid foundation for our society’s hitherto exemplary political stability, economic prosperity and inter-communal peace and harmony. Undermining the Constitution has weakened our social fabric.

Preamble cannot override Article 153: A retired Chief Justice is reported to have expressed the opinion that “all laws, regulations, orders and executive actions which give privileges to Malays and natives of Sabah and Sarawak will be unconstitutional and void the minute the Rukunegara becomes the preamble”.

Most respectfully, this view is legally incredible and politically inflammatory. First, a preamble can never override explicit provisions of the Constitution. A preamble by itself is not legally enforceable and cannot be made the basis of a legal claim. It consists of glittering generalities, broad and sweeping statements that encapsulate the ideals and aspirations contained in the Constitution.

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Ombudsmen have role in fighting crime

Tuesday, March 14th, 2017

The Quran calls for a band of people to enjoin what is good and forbid what is wrong, a concept which can provide guidelines in the making of criminal law.

CRIME prevention refers to the process of containing, controlling, preventing and deterring acts deemed criminal. The process is riddled and rife with problems and to date, has yet to have an accurate or complete answer.

Crime is not just a local problem, but also a universal one. Countries in the world are always in search of, but have yet to be fully satisfied with, the mechanisms or strategies for crime prevention. As such, strategies in crime prevention are an important aspect to explore.

Mechanisms and strategies in crime prevention are constantly changing and require endless discussion. Such a situation arises because crime prevention is closely linked with situations and changes in society, be they in the social, economic or political context.

The complex conditions of society in many aspects, including the layout, cultural fabric, and demographic environment, as well as current developments in the world in terms of technology, have a strong influence on mechanisms and strategies for crime prevention.

Due to various reasons and diverse situations, many countries have attempted to introduce a comprehensive or holistic crime prevention programme. Such a comprehensive or holistic crime prevention programme means not just one mechanism or strategy is adopted.

It means that the process of multi-pronged and integrated strategies is implemented simultaneously.

In searching for the strategy, researchers have found that a strategy which incorporates religious elements – religiosity – is one of them. Various researches have been conducted on the role of religion, or strategies established by religion.

Such an approach is not only believed by the religious people, but it is also believed by sociologists and criminologists. Thus, certain religious philosophical doctrines may operate as a basis for comprehensive mechanisms and crime prevention strategies.

As far as Islamic law is concerned, two ge­neral principles can be applied in finding the best crime prevention strategy. The two general principles are the higher objectives of Islamic law and ombudsmen, or hisbah.

Islamic law upholds the objectives of protecting one’s religion, life, honour and dignity, lineage and property. These objectives are the basic needs of all people, at all levels, times and places, and transcend geographical boundaries and situations. In addition, the objectives have clear and real universal va­lues.

Thus, from the Islamic law perspective, in criminalising any act, it must be ascertained whether an act is offensive to any of the objectives of the law. In order to avoid overzealousness or straying in law-making, it is always a requirement that criminal law is based on sources of Islamic law or the rightful interpretation of the sources. Whatever innovation is in the creation of criminal law has a basis in the objectives of Islamic law.

Indeed, the Islamic law objectives make the law stable and focused, in making criminal law provisions as well as their enforcement.

The stability of the law and its enforcement, as a consequence, contribute to the well-being of human society that is infused with specific philosophy and regulations.

Although circumstances and times change, and people become more complex, crimes in turn are also committed in various forms and with various purposes. Hence, a stable objective and philosophy may provide solutions in crime prevention strategies.

Be that as it may, the fixed objectives do not mean that the concept has made the system less dynamic. Rather, the objectives are meant to be the higher objectives to form the ultimate guide in order to preserve the basic aspects of human life.

Dynamism may be seen from the fact that there may be innovations or improvement to human life, but the dynamic character should not pare down the basic needs of men.

Apart from being relevant as a criminal law legislation guideline, the higher objectives of the law are also relevant in providing guidelines in the enforcement process.

Another relevant formula in crime prevention strategy is a two-dimensional or two-fold concept, known as al-hisbah. The concept is particularly relevant in the enforcement process, although it may also provide guidelines in the making of criminal law.

Al-hisbah is close to the concept of ombudsmen in our contemporary practice. The two-dimensional or two-fold concept found in al-hisbah is “enjoining good and forbidding wrong”.

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Agong Saddened Corruption, Fraud In Gov’t Still Occur

Monday, March 6th, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, March 6 (Bernama) — Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V today expressed disappointment on the occurrence of fraud, corruption, leakages and leaks of government information involving government officials and former civil servants.

His Majesty said although only a handful were involved in such activities, it had eroded the people’s trust in the government.

“As such I welcome the move to bring those involved to justice.

“The people must also give support by not being involved as the ones who offer bribery or possess unauthorised classified documents,” he said when speaking at the official opening of the first meeting of the fifth session of the 13th Parliament here Monday.

Also present were Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia and Dewan Negara Speaker Datuk Seri S. A. Vigneswaran, Cabinet ministers, Members of Parliament, Dewan Negara Senators, dignitaries and invited guests.

His Majesty also expressed his appreciation on the success of the Royal Malaysia Police in reducing the crime rate, combating radicalism and heresies and militant ideology that are in conflict with the Sunnah belief in the country.

“Not forgetting the Malaysian Armed Forced which plays a very important role in safeguarding the country’s security without us realising their sacrifices for the sake of our beloved homeland.

“I and the government will continue to strengthen both these security forces,” he said, adding that the government intended to increase its acquisition of equipment and vehicles, looking after the welfare such as providing quarters and so on.

Sultan Muhammad V also welcomed the government’s move to deploy additional security assets and facilities such as helicopter forward operation base or “Sea Basing” in the waters of Sabah east coast to beef up security in the area concerned.

The cooperation and mutual understanding that had been reached with the government of the Philippines on security in the Sulu sea had further enhanced bilateral ties between the two countries, especially in the field of security, he said.

Touching on the economic situation to ensure the country’s financial position continues to be strong, he said the government was committed to continue fiscal consolidation measures to achieve a balanced budget target by 2020.

“Hence the government will continue to strive to take concrete steps to further increase the size of the economy from RM1.3 trillion at present to RM2 trillion within the next seven to eight years.

“In addition to the long term, the government will also strive to make Malaysia among the 20 major world economies,” said His Majesty.

He also said the depreciation of the ringgit against the currencies of major countries had affected the people but it was caused by internal and external factors.

“I believe the government is fully committed to resolve this problem as soon as possible,” he said.

On measures to ease the burden of the people, particularly the B40 income group (lowest 40 per cent) and M40 (middle 40 per cent), he was confident various initiatives were generated, including the provision of targeted subsidies, improving rates and diversifying the 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M), assistance to small traders and others.


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Pensioners unable to get medicines

Sunday, March 5th, 2017

PETALING JAYA: Thousands of pensioners were left in the lurch when they were unable to collect their medicine or medical devices from their regular pharmacies.

The situation arose after the Public ServiceDepartment (PSD) ended its contract with the company supplying medicine and the devices to pensioners through the Electronic Medical Automation Supply System (e-MASS).

The department and Health Ministry are currently sorting out the problem.

Oratis Rx Sdn Bhd’s contract for the e-MASS project ended on Feb 27, and it had informed its network of community pharmacies and suppliers about this.

Kumpulan Pesara 1Malaysia (Kupekmas) secretary-general Abd Rahim Mahad said many of its members nationwide were upset because they could not get their regular supply of medicine and medical device through e-MASS.

The system enabled pensioners to get medicines or medical equipment at pharmacies registered with Oratis Rx without pensioners having to make any payment.

Pensioners could also contact the e-MASS call centre or make orders through the e-MASS portal and have Oratis Rx deliver the item to them or to the respective hospital.

Oratis Rx was known as Oratis Services when it was first appointed.

Before the contract started on Jan 28, 2012, pensioners who needed medicine or equipment not available in public hospitals had to buy them from private hospitals, pharmacies or clinics and then claim for reimbursement from the PSD.

According to Oratis Rx, there are 74,800 pensioners and their dependants were using e-MASS since 2012.

The PSD, in a statement, said pensioners could still get their medical supplies through prescriptions issued by doctors in government and university hospitals.

It later uploaded a video on its Facebook showing that pensioners could go through public hospitals, while those who were unable to do so could buy first and claim from the PSD or retirement fund (KWAP), or get a quotation and send it to the relevant agency without having to make payment first.

Those facing problems are advised to contact the PSD hotline (03- 8885 4099/4037/4014) during office hours or email for further clarification.

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Resolve high-profile graft cases swiftly TheStar SAYS.

Saturday, March 4th, 2017

FOUR men detained for alleged bribery were released unconditionally on Monday by a court in Ipoh. It’s not the first time that suspects have been released during investigations into corruption cases.

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) deputy public prosecutor has warned about the risk of destruction of evidence. Going by history, the case is likely to be a tough one for the MACC.

Over the past two years, the MACC has hogged the limelight.

It became the focal point when there were changes to the top three positions last year.

In August last year, a new chief commissioner was appointed to helm MACC.

Datuk Dzulkifli Ahmad, from the Attorney-General’s Chambers, replaced Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed.

His appointment was initially met with scepticism, coming as it did during investigations into the affairs of 1Malaysia Development Bhd.

However in the last six months, the MACC has nabbed many big names.

The biggest catch was the arrest and subsequent charges filed against the Sabah Water Department director, his wife and former deputy director.

The cash seized was RM56.9mil, while other assets included six luxury vehicles and 86 branded watches.

Last week, the MACC arrested six people suspected to be involved in a multi-million ringgit land scam in Johor Baru. The scam involved conversion of houses meant for bumiputra buyers to non-bumi lots.

In relation to this case, the MACC arrested the son of a state executive councillor and several other people.

The amount of money seized was about RM20mil in more than 45 bank accounts.

Without a doubt, MACC’s actions are gaining traction. To some extent, this has mitigated the negative perception that the commission claims it faces.

However, for the commission to be taken seriously, what is required is a speedy end to the court cases.

At the moment, after the charges are brought, there is a long period of silence.

It takes a long time – if ever – before the accused are finally convicted.

Most high profile cases are almost forgotten by the end of a long trial.

Even when there is a conviction, the severity of the punishment is not commensurate with the gravity of offence.

For instance, one of the biggest corporate fallouts in the history of Malaysia was the collapse of Sime Bank in the aftermath of the 1998 financial crisis. The chief executive officer, Datuk Ismail Zakaria, was charged in 1999.

The case only concluded in August last year, with the court imposing a fine of RM600,000 on Ismail.

He was convicted on four charges in relation to the issuance of credit facilities amounting to RM175mil.

Ismail, who was 74 then, was already a bankrupt and wheelchair-bound. There was no custodial sentence imposed, due to his poor health.

Not many Malaysians would remember that during the crisis years of 1997/98, the financial health of Sime Bank was of grave concern to Bank Negara because, if not contained, it could have led to the collapse of the entire financial system of the country.

The Sime Bank fiasco was a major news item then.

However, over the years, the glare of publicity decreased and so did the scrutiny of the case.

In other countries such as South Korea and Hong Kong, high profile cases are investigated by the anti-corruption agency and the hearing is expedited.

The Star Says.
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Universal values, not just globalisation

Saturday, February 25th, 2017

THE gravest threat of the rise of nationalist populism is to the universal values and practices of a civilised world which took several decades to develop. It is this that modern tribalism in Europe and America seeks to cannibalise.

We have been so obsessed – and this is a failing – by the economics of globalisation, the trade and finance and free movement of labour, that we do not give higher value to the fundamental human values and intercourse that are at risk.

The world has become more possessed by economics than even Marx could have predicted. The disparity of income and wealth is as wide as he saw in post-industrial revolution Europe.

The political turmoil of Leninism, the rise of fascism, the Gulag and the Holocaust – and war – were some of the worst outcomes that followed.

We must recognise this looming threat. We will not get there unless we first recognise the main failing of globalisation, this obsession with economics.

Economic and financial benefit – however ill-distributed – was its driving force, mainly through trade, free movement of capital and labour. Such benefit did not become self-evident truth, however, as too many were left behind for too long.

Would it have made a difference had such benefit been better distributed? It would seem unlikely as non-economic values in the nation-state were disturbed as much as production and income structures were overturned.

“Give us our country back”, is more than about economics. It is about the deemed imposition of global values and the perceived dilution of national character.

The appeal to nationalist populism, which last year saw the vote for Brexit and the election of Donald Trump as United States president, was primarily occasioned by globalised economic and financial supercharge which isolated the low income and divided societies while the top earners spirited away with handsome benefits, but the potent response came from nationalist reassertion against foreign threat.

Against loss of jobs to….Against loss of country to….Against loss of control because of….All because of globalisation. Global is foreign.

Universal values and international behavioural practices got to be associated with the ills of globalisation. This is the most dangerous threat to civilised world order.

The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, however extant its violation, for instance, well preceded the wave of globalisation. The 1951 Refugee Convention defines the rights of refugees and the obligations of states towards them which are now part of customary international law.

What might now seem mundane, the Universal Postal Union, was established in 1874, and now has 192 members as it serves a universal communication need. There are many others of this ilk.

Cross-border immigration took place to fill up jobs locals would not or could not do. The world was enriched by these kinds of common necessities, not by an enforcement of globalisation.

The point is universal and international necessities were and are way ahead of the globalisation against which there is such massive revolt. Their values, standards and practices are in dire threat of being sacrificed on the altar of narrow populism.

We can talk too much about globalisation. It is far better now to talk less and do more – and not to use the term globalisation ad nauseam.

The kinds of demonstrations for the values of good society and nationhood across America and Europe that we have seen in response to rules of dictatorship, rules of violation of rights and universal values, against racism and acts of inhumanity, are significant signs that civilised standards of life will not be allowed to be trampled on and to die.

On the other hand, we must also do more “for” things, before we have to demonstrate for them.


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Hassle-free service a must – Mayor

Friday, February 3rd, 2017
Yeo inspecting the City Hall guard of honour during the ceremony marking the city's 17th anniversary at Padang Merdeka yesterday.

Yeo inspecting the City Hall guard of honour during the ceremony marking the city’s 17th anniversary at Padang Merdeka yesterday.

KOTA KINABALU: Negative perception of the public service arising from poor performance such as delayed and troublesome transactions must be rectified by civil servants through improved efficiency, said Mayor Datuk Yeo Boon Hai.

He said that each customer must receive hassle-free service.

“If we are able to improve our service and eliminate areas that are troublesome for the public, we can surely change the negative perception of public service,” Yeo said in his opening address during a flag raising ceremony marking the city’s 17th anniversary at Padang Merdeka yesterday.

He added that satisfactory customer service could also improve the image of the government as a whole.

Citing State Secretary Tan Sri Sukarti Wakiman’s call to civil servants to go back to the basics of being responsive towards the public and the government, Yeo said every civil servant should strive to perform according to the 4Ps, which are service (perkhidmatan), cleanliness (pembersihan), enforcement (penguatkuasaan) and development (pembangunan).

Through the 4P strategy, he said City Hall would work harder towards improving the quality of its service to the public.

“This effort is to make Kota Kinabalu a green, clean and liveable city come 2020,” he added.

Earlier, Yeo inspected the City Hall guard of honour and witnessed the raising of the City Hall flag, in conjunction with the auspicious event.

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Review licensing, enforcement for tourist boats – FCAS

Friday, February 3rd, 2017

KOTA KINABALU: The Federation of Chinese Associations Sabah (FCAS) has urged the government to review the licencing and enforcement system for tourist boats following the recent catamaran capsize incident that has claimed the lives of several Chinese tourists.

FCAS president Datuk Seri Panglima Dr TC Goh also called on the government to set up a telecommunications network and control centre to monitor the movement of tourist boats in the West Coast in an effort to ensure the safety of tourists.

He said the beautiful sea and beaches in Sabah were very popular among tourists, especially travellers from China.

“However, a weak safety control system will generate negative publicity and in turn, threaten the progress of our tourism industry,” Goh said in his speech during the Pesta Ang Pau hosted by FCAS here on Wednesday.

The event was graced by the Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Haji Aman.

On the other hand, Goh urged traders in Sabah, particularly businesses in Kota Kinabalu, to sell their products at reasonable prices to tourists.

“I have received complaints that some traders in Segama are selling a durian for RM200 and RM10 for a mangosteen to tourists from China.

“The prices are outrageous and is bound to scare off tourists from returning to Sabah.

“Businesses should make profits at reasonable margin,” he said.

On the event, Goh said the Chinese New Year celebration saw the gathering of people from different races and cultures.

“This is the uniqueness of Malaysia and Sabah, where the people live in peace and harmony, free from natural disasters and wars.”

He urged the people not to take harmony in the country for granted.

“We must preserve and safeguard harmony with moderation.”

In the 10am tragedy on January 28, a tourist boat carrying 28 Chinese nationals and three crew members was believed to have capsized due to strong winds and huge waves while travelling to Pulau Mengalum, 56 kilometres northwest of Kota Kinabalu.

So far, 25 victims have been found, including three dead.

by Chok Sim Yee.

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