Archive for March, 2014

Options after SPM

Monday, March 31st, 2014

IN THE United States, finishing high school is a coming-of-age rite of its own, with school leavers receiving their high school diploma scrolls at mini-graduation ceremonies where speeches are made, gowns and caps are worn and portraits are taken to fully commemorate the event.

While end of school procedures here in Malaysia may not be quite as ceremonious, the feeling is essentially the same: being a Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) candidate marks the close of one chapter in your life and the start of another.

With your results in hand, you find yourself at a major crossroads in life, having to decide which bridge to cross and which path to walk as your future looms before you.

Whichever metaphor you choose, the fact is after your SPM you are faced with numerous options of what to do next. To help you on your way (and to help reduce the headache), we outline here the routes, traditional and also non-traditional, that you can take.


After a short breather at the end of secondary school, most of us will continue on the path of furthering our education. If you need a scholarship, you should have already begun searching. Scholarships are abundant! Especially for those with outstanding academic and co-curricular achievements. Besides the usual government scholarships like the Public Service Department (JPA) scholarship, look out also for study awards from other governments, as well as those offered by private organisations. Most universities offer scholarships to students who meet the requirements.

Pre-University course

Pre-university courses provide the formal qualification needed to gain entry to an undergraduate degree programme at a local or foreign university. Intakes vary, check with institutions.

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Annyeong! Let’s speak English

Monday, March 31st, 2014

It has made great strides in technology and is the world’s most wired nation, yet the new focus for South Koreans is to learn English as they see its indisputable dominance globally.

South Korean students are simply committed to studying English.

They spend much more time studying the language than their peers in other OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) nations, and students learn English throughout the 12 years they spend in elementary, middle and high school, not to mention kindergarten.

And as the language continues to be a priority even after they enter college since it is a a prerequisite for landing decent jobs after graduation, most university students here take an English course for one or two years alongside other major subjects.

Many undergraduates are now required to complete certain credits in English and to acquire high scores on English proficiency tests, such as TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication) or TOEFL ((Test of English as a Foreign Language) in order to receive a degree from their respective universities.

The trend has spurred more and more public and private universities to offer courses conducted entirely in English.

“One key driver of this trend is that Korean universities are increasingly concerned about their roles in a globalised world,” Sohn Dong-young, an associate professor in the department of media and communication at Hanyang University, told The Korea Herald.

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Pest-ilent problems

Monday, March 31st, 2014

About half the world’s population are at risk of vector-borne diseases.

A VECTOR is an organism that transmits infectious organisms – bacteria, viruses and parasites – from a host to humans and other animals.

The common vectors are blood-feeding arthropods, which are invertebrate animals with an external skeleton (exoskeleton), a segmented body, and jointed appendages. Vectors of infections in humans include mosquitoes, ticks, mites and fleas.

About half the world’s population are at risk of vector-borne diseases. Increased travel, migration and trade have aggravated the risk.

According to the World Health Organisa-tion, vector-borne diseases account for 17% of all infectious diseases worldwide.

Vector-borne diseases are difficult to predict, prevent or control. These diseases can lead to serious illness and death.

It is pertinent to note that although infectious diseases comprised 6.82% of admissions to the Health Ministry’s hospitals in 2012, they were the cause of 17.17% of deaths.

Common vector-borne diseases

The prevalent vector-borne diseases in Malaysia are dengue, malaria and Japanese encephalitis.

by Dr Milton Lum.

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Be wary of virtual money, M’sians told

Monday, March 31st, 2014

PETALING JAYA: Malaysians have been warned against investing in virtual or Internet money as their savings could be wiped out if the exchange is hacked or runs into financial troubles.

Over the last month, two major Bitcoin exchanges in Japan and Canada have gone offline, filed for bankruptcy or closed down after claiming more than US$500mil (RM1.6bil) in losses due to hacking.

In light of the controversy, Bank Negara has advised the public to be cautious of the risks involved in using digital currency, stressing that Bitcoin is not recognised as legal tender in Malaysia.

“The Central Bank does not regulate the operations of Bitcoin. The value is subject to fluctuations, (hence) the value of the investments may not be preserved,” an official told Sunday Star.

China, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, Germany, France and Russia, have also issued similar warnings or banned the use of virtual currency. In Singapore, there are plans to regulate virtual currency exchanges and vending machines to address concerns that they could be used for money laundering or to fund terrorism activities.

by Christina Chin.

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Do more or fat chance Malaysia will reduce obesity, govt told

Monday, March 31st, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR: The Government needs to be more serious in battling obesity, the Malaysian Association for the Study of Obesity says.

Its president Prof Dr Mohd Ismail Noor said that creating awareness and public education were not enough.

“At some point, the government has to be more serious about controlling the environment that encourages obesity.”

He said this yesterday after the official launch and opening of Nutrition Month Malaysia 2014 by Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.

Dr Mohd Ismail urged the local authorities to shut down all food outlets by midnight instead of allowing them to run 24 hours.

He said the argument that these outlets were kept open for night shift workers did not hold water because many youngsters were frequenting the outlets.

He noted that some countries had imposed a tax on sweet soda drinks.

by Loh Foon Fong.

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Together in hope and prayers

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Let unity be the legacy of Flight MH370.

AGAMA kita berlainan tapi doa kita satu… Doa buat MH370 (Our faiths are different, but our prayers are the same.”

The words scrawled in black on a wall at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (picture) stand out starkly among the more colourful messages for MH370.

That is because it hits home hard – no matter who you pray to, it is not difficult to find a common ground, if we want to.

More striking about the writing on the wall is that there are many others expressing the same sentiment – on other walls, on the Internet and in private journals.

The past three weeks have seen Malaysians of different race and religion come together to pray for the passengers and crew of the ill-fated flight. All around the country, we have been speaking as one in hope and prayers, no matter the language.

But do we really need a tragedy before we can reach out to our fellow countrymen?

As Azrul Mohd Khalib, the convener of the Malaysians for Malaysia collective – which has been organising peaceful initiatives to highlight peace and harmony in the country – sees it, we just need to be reminded of what is important in life.

“Lately, we have been petty in terms of what’s important. This incident reminds us what’s important – the people,” he says.

Looking back at past incidents, adds Azrul, it is clear that Malaysians have always come together in times of tragedy, hardship and sorrow.

by Hariati Azizan.

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Spreading messages of love and goodwill

Monday, March 31st, 2014

MALAYSIANS for Malaysia got together because they were tired of all the hatred being spewed in the country.

As the group introduces itself on Facebook, it is for Malaysians who want to celebrate the country’s social and religious diversity and those who believe in co-existing, accepting and celebrating each other’s ethnicity, culture and faith.

It is also for those who feel that “the ongoing discourse (or lack thereof) concerning inter-religious relations in Malaysia has seemingly spun out of control” and that too much focus has been given “to the views of the fringe and extreme groups and politicians who are demanding and threatening violence, hate, intimidation and the rejection of others.”

Azrul Mohd Khalib, the group’s convener, says they got together quite spontaneously after the gathering outside the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes in Klang to stand in solidarity with Malaysian Christians early January.

“We believe that it was necessary to underline the visible presence of people who reject the bigotry, hatred and prejudice demonstrated by the group who had threatened the church and the Christian community,” says Azrul.

Anna Koh, another core member of the group, puts it more simply: “It’s about love. It’s about spreading love and people doing good.”

Koh says she was nervous the first time they gathered at the church.

“We are not experts and neither are we experienced in this but we do it in good faith. We feel that even if it is just one person who turns up, it is one extra person spreading love and goodwill. But when we got there, it was heart-warming to see many people from various faiths waiting to join us,” she recalls.

Malaysians for Malaysia initiated visits to other places of worship in the country, and began their “Walk in the Park”.

“It is not a demonstration, a protest or a march. It is simply a walk in the park. We wanted to get people together for activities which allow them to build new friendships and strengthen ties between religions,” says Azrul, adding that the initiatives also provide an alternative narrative of how “Malaysians are fighting back against the narrative of fear, hate mongering and prejudice and taking back the public space.”

The response to their walks has grown beyond expectation, he says.

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Showcasing much more for students

Monday, March 31st, 2014

GEORGE TOWN: Education is not just about wanting to become a doctor, engineer, lawyer or accountant. It’s much more.

This message has been drummed across by Deputy Education Minister II P. Kamalanathan and he could not have chosen a better stage than the The Star Education Fair 2014’s opening to do so.

“We need to tell the children that life is beyond this. We need an exhibition like this to provide search and exploration of education pathways,” he said in his speech before opening the fair at the Subterranean Penang International Convention and Exhi­­bition Centre (formerly known as Pisa) in Relau.

Kamalanathan said the fair was in line with one of the 11 shifts in the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025.

“The Education Fair is what we need to encourage partnership with parents, communities and the private sector to support children’s learning and to deliver a change in our education system.

“I believe everyone here recognises the importance of higher education, helping the young fulfil their potential and enhancing the quality of life.

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English Week at SIDMA College (March 2014)

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

The English & Public Speaking Club SIDMA College, UNITAR Sabah, headed by Katrina Claire Reyes, had organized a fun-filled week of activities from 17 – 21 March 2014, namely a bake sale combined with a mini “garage” sale, an essay writing competition, a paired-scrabble competition, a singing competition, and a public speaking competition. A project like this encourages students to sharpen their English language skills, apart from providing them with a channel to showcase their talents and abilities. Through English Week, the club focused on showing how English is a unique and beautiful language, and why mastering it is crucial in ensuring a successful future. A project like this would also allow the English and Public Speaking Club members to hone our management skills, and establish stronger bonds among members.

Prof Dr. Morni Hj Kambrie, Chairman of Sidma College, presented an inspiring speech in which he shared his own experience about learning the English language, believing it to be a valuable asset to possess. Being a successful public speaker himself, Dr Morni is always in favour of giving talks in universities, schools, events, or functions. He encouraged the students here in Sidma College that in order to master the language, one should never stop to practice in speaking and writing in the English language.

In conjunction with the closing ceremony of English Week, Puan Azlina Ngatimin (Director of Corporate Relations & Business Development) and Puan Azizah Khalid Merican (CEO of Sidma College) took time off to honour the event by awarding prizes to winners and participants of the competitions. Souvenirs of appreciation were also presented to all judges who consisted of lecturers and staff of Sidma College. Lucky draws were furthermore an exciting part of the morning. It was fascinating to witness the cheers and excited winners running up to the stage to collect their presents.Also present that beautiful morning were Ms Florence Ajadap, the club’s advisor and a lecturer in Sidma College, lecturers from all faculties and staff of Sidma College.

Winners for English Week are:

Essay Writing Competition:
1st Place:Mohd Kamal Bin MohdTaib
2ndPlace:Samantha Michelle Jiun
3rdPlace:Nelson Andrea Dic

Paired Scrabble Competition:
1st Place: IkhwanTharwan& Ashley Radha Nathan
2nd Place: Ivan Wong &JazliAkmal
3rd Place: Deasy Souza Peter &EnjilinaMartinus

Singing Competition:
1st Place: Leonni Johnny
2nd Place Famela Louis
3rd Place was Michelyn Larissa Micheal

Public Speaking Competition:
1st Place:IkhwanTharwan
2nd Place: Ivan Wong
3rd Place: Jazli Akmal

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One in 68 kids has autism: US study

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

Data show 30% rise over the last estimate in 2012.

One in 68 children has autism, a 30% rise over the last estimate released in 2012, US health authorities said on March 27.

The latest US data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the “proportion of children with autism and higher IQ (is) on the rise,” said a CDC statement.

Previously, as many as one in 88 US children were known to have autism spectrum disorder, or ASD, a developmental disorder that recent research suggests may originate in the womb.

“This new estimate is roughly 30% higher than previous estimates reported in 2012 of 1 in 88 children (11.3 per 1,000 eight-year-olds) being identified with an autism spectrum disorder,” said the CDC.

The findings were based on diagnoses of eight-year-olds at 11 US sites in 2010.


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