Archive for March, 2014

How old is your heart? New online tool calculates ticker’s ‘age’

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

Tell the calculator your lifestyle habits and it tells you whether you’re at risk for heart disease and your life expentancy.

Is your heart older than you are? A tool from Joint British Societies allows people to test their heart’s “true age”, which subsequently provides an estimate regarding chances of heart disease later in life.

Entitled the JBS3 Risk Calculator, the tool works by calculating a person’s lifestyle habits, cholesterol level, blood pressure and medical conditions, any of which easily affect heart health. Examples of lifestyle factors include smoking, exercise and diet habits.

The calculator identifies those at risk for heart disease and predicts life expectancy before a stroke or heart attack occurs. According to LiveScience, in a new report researchers at Joint British Societies note the increase in evidence regarding the long road to heart disease, and that knowing the heart’s real age can dramatically affect lifestyle choices.

They pointed out that for most people, the calculator reveals the benefits from making healthy lifestyle changes early in life and maintaining such changes over time, with such changes recommended over prescription drug use.

AFP Relaxnews

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Eight tips for maintaining a healthy weight.

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

MAINTAINING a healthy weight does not require a magic formula. All you really need to do is practise healthy eating habits and exercise regularly.

This is important so that you do not become victims of overweight and obesity, as these can lead to non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular diseases, cancers, and diabetes.

To maintain a healthy weight, you must first understand the principles of energy balance. It is essential for you to maintain the balance between the energy derived from the food you eat and the energy you use through physical activity.

If your daily energy intake regularly exceeds your energy expenditure, this will lead to weight gain, and gradually, this will lead to overweight or obesity problems. Therefore, your food choices and the amount you eat, as well as the level of physical activity you engage in, plays an important role in helping you prevent weight gain.

Energy (or calories) comes from the foods you eat every day. It is required to fuel your various bodily processes, such as maintaining heart and organ functions, as well as maintaining body temperature, muscle contraction and growth.

But how much energy intake should you have in a day?

The Malaysian Dietary Guidelines recommends a daily energy intake of 2,000-2,500 kcal for an adult male, and 1,500-2,000 kcal for an adult female.

However, many Malaysians today tend to frequently exceed their recommended daily energy intake. Coupled with urbanisation and modern lifestyles that promote physical inactivity, this has posed a threat to many Malaysians.

Recent findings from the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) in 2011 showed that one out of two Malaysian adults are either overweight or obese.

Nonetheless, maintaining a healthy weight is not that hard to do. In addition to regular physical activity, here are eight eating tips to help you start living a healthier life.

1. Keep your meal balanced

Many of us tend to make the mistake of loading our plates with too much rice, a lot of fish or meat, and little or no vegetables and fruits at all.

Your daily diet should comprise of food from the five food groups – cereals, grains, cereal products or tubers; fruits; vegetables; protein-rich foods (e.g. poultry, meat, eggs and legumes); and milk and milk products.

Therefore, you may want to have some cereals with milk for breakfast, a plate of rice with steamed fish, bayam soup and an apple for lunch, and a bowl of kuey teow soup with shredded chicken, kailan and guava for dinner.

by Assoc Prof Dr Zaitun Yassin and Dr Mahenderan Appukutty.

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Lessons from the hunt for MH370

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

The tragic flight has exposed Malaysia’s shortcomings in many areas, but we have no other choice than to learn from the experience.

IT is heart rending to watch the scenes of grieving relatives, but we can only imagine the depth of their sorrow after 17 agonising days of holding out hope.

As Malaysia Airlines said in its statement to the families of the 239 passengers and crew on board Flight MH370, there are no words that can ease their pain.

Two-thirds of the passengers on board the Beijing-bound flight were Chinese nationals.

No thanks to the endless number of theories and rumours about the missing plane, many had been holding on to the belief that their loved ones might be alive somewhere, somehow.

However remote it seemed, the probability that the plane might have landed in an isolated place kept their faint hopes aglow.

Understandably, tempers flared as the anxiety grew over each passing day. Some of the relatives accused MAS and Malaysia of lying and even threatened to go on hunger strike as the multinational search dragged on.

But in the back of their minds, Monday night’s announcement that the Boeing 777-200ER had plunged into the southern Indian Ocean with all lives lost was what they must have been dreading to hear all along.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said “a new analysis never before used in an investigation of this sort” by British satellite firm Inmarsat and the United Kingdom’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch had showed that MH370’s last position was in the ocean, west of Perth, Australia.

The plane had apparently flown along the southern corridor where investigators had tracked it based on the “pings” it sent, hours after it strangely went off the radar on March 8.

But until the wreckage is found, we can expect doubts and the seething anger to remain. The grim statement declaring where it crashed won’t be enough to bring any form of closure to the families.

by M. Yeera Pandiyan.

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Targeting online bullies

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is trying to tame the untameable cyberspace.

A TEENAGE girl gets a series of e-mail propositions from a stranger: have sex or else! She panics.

Her worried parents report it to the police but the harassments continue. Elsewhere a girl finds her topless photo circulated over the Internet.

Such cases of web abuse are on the rise in modern Singapore.

Then there are instances of online bullying of students by classmates – threats, insults and name-callings are frequently used. Mental health suffers.

Such cyber-bullying or harassments by anonymous persons are now the target of the new Protection from Harassment Act passed recently by Parliament.

Singapore has the second highest rate of cyber-bullying among 25 countries, according to a survey by Microsoft in 2012.

After 10 years in office, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong is trying to tame the untameable, cyberspace – or at least part of it. He has shown that his leadership is less authoritarian than his father’s, except possibly in one area – the media.

Nearly 80% of Singaporeans surf the Net.

(A Straits Times survey showed 36.3% of people here between 21-34 cited the Internet as their top source of local political news, com­­p­­ar­ed with 35.3% who preferred newspapers.)

For PM Lee – just as it was for Lee Senior – controlling this slippery creature is a strategy for political survival.

During the past few elections, new media is said to have been a major cause for the People’s Action Party’s drop in popular votes.

The father started history by turning Singapore’s newspapers and TV into a mouthpiece for his government.

And now the son is trying to pull out some of the sting from the Internet through legislation. The current anti-harassment law is less controversial than last year’s salvo to control reporting of online local news.

Last year, the government forced 10 big websites to register to continue reporting local current affairs and politics.

The licence is renewable every year and requires a performance bond of S$50,000 (RM129,700), which could be forfeited if they break regulations.

by Seah Chiang Nee.

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History will judge us well

Saturday, March 29th, 2014

CHIN UP, Nation’s human assets display a strength to be behold

THE disappearance of  Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has brought the best and the worst out of people around the world, including in Putrajaya.

It is heartwarming to see that Malaysia has many friends, with 26 nations having joined the search for the Boeing 777-200ER that fell off the radar on March 8.

Closer at home, the sight of how fellow Malaysians are going all out to look after guests who have arrived from abroad, be they the passengers’ families or foreign media representatives, has stirred a warm fuzzy feeling to those who notice.

At the hotels in Putrajaya, some families of the ill-fated MH370 passengers and crew have kept vigil, waiting and praying for their loved ones to be found.

We are seeing the best side of mankind here, especially among government agencies and MAS, whose staff have been tasked to ensure that the families of the 239 passengers and crew of the missing jetliner are well taken care of, while they wait for the latest development in the efforts to locate their loved ones.

Based on the unwavering commitment and support given by MAS, Malaysia’s national carrier has stayed true to its given International Air Transport Association airline designator — MH — by portraying (M)alaysian (H)ospitality at its best.

When MH370 vanished on that fateful Saturday morning, MAS immediately activated its protocols by providing various manners of support for the families, including deploying some 1,000 caregivers to be with them in Malaysia and Beijing.

These caregivers have a tough time dealing with distraught families and keeping themselves calm at the same time, especially when they are being treated poorly by those under their care, as what had happened in Beijing, when some families threw water bottles at their caregivers just because they did not like the news that was told to them.

In the daily press briefings held at 5.30pm, the disappearance of MH370 has clearly taken a toll on many involved in the search-and-rescue (SAR) operations, including acting Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein, who could not hold back his tears when the prime minister announced that the jetliner had ended in the southern Indian Ocean.

Mathematical sciences to the rescue

Saturday, March 29th, 2014

GIVE DUE CREDIT: Crisis management of MH370, too must be lauded.

TRUTH is  stranger than fiction. Theory reflects reality,  yet realities are only glimpses of what was, is or will be. What is    created by the human mind can be truths as perceptions, points of views.

The human mind created Space Odyssey (Arthur C. Clarke), Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Centre of the Earth (Jules Verne).

Beliefs are all true to the believers. Fictions of the mind are true to those who hold them to be truths. Real drama and mysteries are abstract reconstructions of reality and of truths, presented as maps, mathematics, mind matters, tangible evidence of ends and reconstructions of past journeys.

The realities of lessons from the unprecedented crisis management of the search-and-rescue (SAR) for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 are as follows:

THE goodwill of friendly governments, not as yet calculating the combined expenses that will be in the billions;

THE state of scientific-technological literacies among citizens across the globe, specifically among government leaders and media practitioners;

THE myths of universal counselling and competencies of counsellors across cultures of religious and non-religious societies and families;

THE primacy of focus on SAR as separate from, but simultaneous with, criminal investigations;

THE necessity of international insurance, for nations can lose vast and unimaginable resources over tragedies like MH370; and,

ELITES, administrations and governments can exert control on their peoples, but beyond their borders of political control, complex realities are beyond the small minds of mortal manipulators.

In the midst of the high drama is the humble and, yet, proud disciplines of Mathematics, Arithmetic and Calculus, the Queen of the Sciences.

Abstract mathematics has solved all kinds of problems of matter and energy. Together with other sciences like Geography, Earth Sciences, Weather, Geostrategic Sciences, History and Engineering, Mathematics has advanced human civilisation.

Institutions like Britain’s Inmarsat and Air Accidents Investigation Branch have come to contribute to the public’s understanding of aeronautics surveillance, et cetera. It is not just governments that have strategic leading knowledge, but also companies, inviting industrial espionage. We know of the FBI, Interpol, Scotland Yard and other partnerships.

A historic new beginning

Saturday, March 29th, 2014

UNFORTUNATE though it must be, that as the nation is still coming to terms with the tragic loss of a missing Malaysia Airlines plane with 239 on board, we are also witnessing real peace finally breaking out in Mindanao, in the south of the Philippines, that Malaysia helped forge.

The Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro signed between the Philippine government and the once secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) yesterday is a triumph of multinational endurance and persistence.

Whoever said waging peace is easy should sit down and talk to the Malaysian officials deeply involved in facilitating the peace negotiations held in Kuala Lumpur over a decade and a half through three administrations (from the time of the premiership of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad to that of Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to their happy conclusion under Datuk Seri Najib Razak now).

While helping a neighbouring nation come to peace with itself is an immensely satisfying endeavour on its own, Malaysians must not lose sight of the fact that peace breaking out adjacent to our own borders serves our own interests as well.

The huge expenses Malaysia is committing lately to secure our border areas in eastern Sabah fronting the restive Sulu archipelago may not have been necessary had the Bangsamoro settlement not have had such a difficult and drawn-out birth. Bangsamoro peace will, if it works out as planned, help us reduce those security commitments over time.

The peace settlement may also be just the fillip needed to revive economically the moribund Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philipines-East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA), inaugurated with great fanfare and promise after Dr Mahathir and former Philippine president Fidel Ramos forged an historic bilateral rapprochement in the late 1990s.

The good vibes generated by this final Bangsamoro peace agreement must, however, not make anyone lose sight of the difficult road still ahead to make the agreement work in practice. If the lengthy and convoluted process taken to reach such a promising juncture is to be meaningful, it must be because useful, if painful, lessons were learnt on the arduous road to peace.

Above all, those involved in this current process seem acutely conscious of the mistakes of an earlier agreement forged between the Philippine government and Moro National Liberation Front that spawned the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), an exercise that current Philippine president Benigno Aquino III had acknowledged as a failure — surely no mean admission, since it was his mother, the late President Corazon Aquino, who inspired its creation.

Let’s work together

Saturday, March 29th, 2014

CORRUPTION is costly. It is sapping available resources yet it is  benefiting only a few. It hurts the poor more than anyone else. The economy becomes distorted and the administration inefficient while services for the people was severely affected.

In short, it is a scourge. And it has to be addressed at whatever cost. Eradicating corruption is imperative for any nation, rich or poor, advanced or developing.

It is easier said than done. Political pronouncements won’t help. So too cynicism against any government.

Perception can be everything when it comes to corruption. In the Information Age, accusations can get viral. In some cases people demand a bloodbath — heads to roll and big names to be dragged to court and be found guilty as charged, nothing less.

Yes, we need to fight the scourge smartly. There are many ways to do that, but none is easy. In this fight we have to aim high, no two ways about it.

We have to set a new standard and demand new results. It cannot be business as usual. It is easy to sneer at those we believe are corrupt, yet on the other hand we are willing to pay to get things done. The giver is as equally guilty as the taker. But the principle of law says, one is not guilty until proven otherwise. The legal battle can be long, tedious and costly.

The Consultation and Prevention Panel, an independent panel to monitor and advise the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC), which I head, believes that prevention is better than cure. We believe in engagement, in the importance of educating the public and the role of civil society in combating corruption.

We believe the MACC is doing a reasonably good job so far. Of course there are problems and weaknesses. But inheriting a commission with lots of baggage, flawed practices and low on public acceptance is an uphill task for Tan Sri Abu Kassim Mohamed, its chief. Trying to regain public confidence after a few disastrous cases, particularly the one involving the late Teoh Beng Hock wasn’t easy. But he soldiered on.

He had the support of the parliamentary committee and the advisory panels. He is told his crusade is not his alone. And more importantly, the government under Datuk Seri Najib Razak is committed to address the issue. Political commitment is not easy to come by in most developing countries. The prime minister has given his word that fighting corruption should not be half-measures. Acts have to be amended if need be.

My panel came out with a strong statement two days ago in support of Bukit Aman’s new anti-corruption initiatives. We whole-heartedly concur with the move to uphold integrity in the force. We believe the best way forward for the police force is to launch a nationwide campaign to rid certain practices deemed as opening the chances for corruption.

Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, the Inspector General of Police, announced the start of the “Tolak Rasuah” (reject bribes) campaign in his speech at the 207th Police Day celebration in Kuala Lumpur. We are of the opinion that the force should not only be seen as efficient and professional but also perceived as clean. The move taken by the police must be emulated by other agencies.

Sustaining growth beyond 2020

Saturday, March 29th, 2014

AGRICULTURE, healthcare, information technologies, telecommunications, transportation — virtually every aspect of modern life has been shaped to a very large degree by scientific research.

Our food and crops, our vehicles, vaccines, computers, telephones and so much more, all now deemed essential to everyday life and the world economy, are the products of global science enterprise.

And, increasingly, we will need science to help tackle the challenges that will confront humankind in the decades to come.

By 2030, for example, with one billion additional people on the planet, world food and energy requirements will rise by 38 per cent and 54 per cent respectively, and 40 per cent of freshwater demand will be unmet.

All the power of science will have to be very effectively harnessed if we are to meet these immense global challenges while lifting ever more people out of poverty into a better life.

In future, science will play an even more central role in the world’s knowledge-driven economies and more countries are investing. In the past decade, global research and development spending rose from an estimated US$522 billion (RM1.7 trillion) in 1996 to approximately US$1.3 trillion in 2009 — a faster rate of growth than global gross domestic product. Though the rate of R&D growth slowed in the 2008-09 recession, the steady upward trend illustrates the rising global focus on science.

The “scientific superpowers” — the US, Western Europe and Japan — are finding their dominance challenged by China, Brazil, India and South Korea, all of which are set to assert themselves even further, along with emerging scientific nations in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, North and South Africa, middle-ranking industrial countries such as Canada and Australia, and some smaller nations of Europe.

Malaysia cannot afford to be left behind if it is to meet its high income aspirations. We need to invigorate our science capabilities to generate the big new ideas and game-changing strategies that will create wealth and jobs for our people.

Introduce Media Literacy In Schools – Academician

Saturday, March 29th, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR: Media literacy should be introduced as a subject in schools and higher learning institutions, according to an academician.

Universiti Sains Malaysia (UMS) Communication Studies senior lecturer Assoc Prof Mohamad Md Yusoff said the emergence of information technology bringing with it a plethora of unrestrained communication and distorted parlance had warranted society to be educated in how to digest the deluge of news that hit them.

“This free internet has given birth to amateur reporters who churn out information at liberty without regard to the ethics and rules in real journalism.

“In the course of it, confusion may potentially arise particularly when members of society are unwittingly misled to believe news that may not be true or accurate or had not been verified by the proper authorities,” he told Bernama here today.

Meanwhile, Union of Peninsular Malay Teachers president Mohamed Sabri Mohd Arsad agreed with the suggestion.

“I suggest that the subject structure be tailored to the mental age of the students in order to achieve the objective,” he said.

Another academician, Prof Datuk Mohd Hamdan Adnan said there should not be any reservations in absorbing the subject into the current curriculum.


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