Archive for April, 2014

Being tech-savvy or tech-dependent

Saturday, April 19th, 2014

AREN’T we very fortunate to have been born in an era where technology is so easily accessible?

Could we go on with life if, one day, aliens sucked all of our gadgets away?

It would probably be considered the end of the world by many people. How different would life be?

I can’t talk. But I could read and write before I turned four. However, to me, writing used to mean typing on a letter-board.

I would touch the letters slowly and my mother would write them on a piece of paper to decipher my message. Then she taught me how to type using a digital keyboard. Life became a little easier.

Shortly after that, we were introduced to WordQ, an assistive technology software. It has a word prediction tool that suggests words that I may want to use, which speeds up my typing. It also reads the text I type out loud, which gives me a voice. My life depends on technology.

Take a look around you. Try visualising a life devoid of technology.

Perhaps, one day, you may get stranded on an island far away from civilisation. How long you manage to survive like Robinson Crusoe really depends on how much you let your life hinge on technology.

Most of the people I know own a mobile device, be it a smartphone, laptop or tablet. Being seen as technologically-savvy seems to be a favourite pastime amongst teens.

Devices to impress

Obtaining the latest gadget has become a trend.

Somehow, the sophisticated device they own always becomes obsolete within a few months.

Really, it makes no sense to change a device simply to be seen as a technology geek.

Can’t they master a gadget before declaring that a very advanced and complicated system is now out-of-date?

All that some teens seem to care about is chatting mindlessly on some social network or being obsessed with the highest score in a computer game.

Now that so much has been said about the average teenager, I have to defend the other group which views technology as a tool to get ahead in life.

Vast differences can be observed between these two groups.

Dwelling on some idle chat about something that means nothing definitely does not fascinate everyone. These people constantly seize any opportunity that comes along. They are the ones who would be capable of staying ahead even if technology was completely wiped out.

As I quietly watched some videos on how technology is being used to improve the quality of life in some developing countries, I thought that they were certainly stories that should be shared with teenagers across the world.

by Nivan Annal.

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Karpal fondly remembered by those who have worked with him

Saturday, April 19th, 2014

GEORGE TOWN: Scores of national leaders and politicians turned up at late DAP leader Karpal Singh’s residence in Jalan Utama here to pay their last respects.

They were seen giving words of comfort and encouragement to the former DAP chairman’s grieving family members.

Among the first to arrive yesterday was Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Nancy Shukri.

“I respected Karpal for being such a professional lawyer and politician,” she said yesterday.

Brief Caption:Former MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu (right) paying his last respect to the late DAP chairman Karpal Singh at the funeral wake.The Star/Lim Beng Tatt/ 18 April 2014.

A distraught-looking Samy leaving after paying his last respects to Karpal.

Representing MCA in paying the party’s last respects was Penang MCA liaison committee chairman Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun.

She said Karpal’s passing was a great loss to the nation and hoped that his family would be strong.

Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim said the country had lost a good man who upheld the law to achieve justice and fairness for all in the country.

Former Malaysian Bar Council chairman Datuk Param Cumaraswamy said Karpal’s death was a great loss to the nation.

“I have known Karpal since the day he was admitted to the Malaysian Bar.

“He was so much entrenched into the finer qualities of the Bar to the point that senior judges before whom he appeared, used to commend highly about his conduct,” he said, adding that it would be difficult to find a replacement for the late Bukit Gelugor MP.

GEORGE TOWN, 18 April -- Menteri Di Jabatan Perdana Menteri, Nancy Shukri mengucapkan takziah kepada anak mendiang Karpal Singh, Gobind Singh Deo semasa menziarahi jenazah bekas pengerusi DAP yang juga Ahli Parlimen Bukit Gelugor yang maut dalam satu kemalangan pada awal pagi semalam di kediamannya di Jalan Utama di sini hari ini.Turut kelihatan seorang lagi anak mendiang Karpal Singh, Jegdeep Singh (kiri).-- fotoBERNAMA (2014) HAKCIPTA TERPELIHARA

In loving memory: Nancy offering her condolences to Karpal’s son Gobind
Singh Deo.

Param also mentioned that Karpal had once told him that his first love was law while politics was always secondary.

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Muhyiddin Suggests Would-Be Educators Focus On Quality Education

Friday, April 18th, 2014

GEORGE TOWN:  Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has urged would-be educators to pay attention to quality education.

Would-be teachers should stress on the issue of quality so that they could boost their level of proficiency in numerous aspects, the deputy prime minister told 2,000 staff of the Teachers’ Teaching Institute (IPG) who attended a friendly gathering this evening.

“Out there today, society is discussing our quality of education. I can proudly state that we have successfully churned out those who have even gone abroad to study, and children who have passed the SPM, for example, are accepted at any institution of higher learning as a result of our education system.

“And this, I feel, is a product of our leadership at the education ministry level and the roles played by every level of teaching manpower or teachers,” said Muhyiddin, who is also education minister.

He said, although this was already regarded as successful, there were still those who were doubtful whether the education development plan which had already been launched, could achieve a better level.

“This is why, we need teachers who are not only trained but also trained in the best possible manner,” he added.

Muhyiddin said would-be educators should be moulding characters and becoming examples to the young generation because the world was currently facing challenges related to noble values and immorality.

“Teachers who are produced by institutions should understand the target and direction of the nation and their role and responsibility as educators to produce a united society,” he noted.

He said educators would decide the future of the nation because to a large extent, it depended on their capability to churn out people who were trained with knowledge, skill and expertise.


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A sad day for Sabah, says clams expert

Friday, April 18th, 2014

Kota Kinabalu: Sabah should be worried sick about the future of the State’s foundational marine resources following the shock seizure of 20 tonnes of endangered giant clam shells aboard a Vietnamese joint-venture vessel south of Pulau Mengalum, aquatic biologist Alvin Wong warned.

“The irrefutable proof that fishermen from a neighboring country continue to extract and deplete these already endangered species in such shocking volume is the final nail in the coffin for these awesome sessile giants inhabiting our shallow tropical seas,” said Wong, the Project Director of Marine Ecological Research Centre (MERC), Gayana.

The Centre takes pains to reproduce Giant clams for release back to the sea to help replenish the severely depleted wild stock – only to see it come to this.

“Once we reduce their numbers in the wild to too few and too far apart from one another, Giant clams simply can’t mate and so go extinct from sheer isolation in the wild.

“One study found that when a female Giant clam is releasing eggs, there must be another mature male of the same species not more than nine metres away releasing sperms at the same time in order to achieve 70 per cent chance of fertilisation,” Wong pointed out.

“Which means further than nine metres apart, the chances of reproduction diminishes and no chance at all if single individuals exist hundreds of metres apart.

“We must remember that Giant clams are sessile (mobile in the larval stage but eventually fix themselves to one spot in the reefs for the rest of their life) and can’t move around for mates.

“So if there are no more clams around, they just have no chance to reproduce and at the wonton rate in which these creatures are harvested,” he added.

That’s not all. The fact that they even take years to mature sexually is another concern.

“On average, Giant clams take about 7-8 years to mature sexually first as male and another three years to be sexually active as female, that is, 10-11 years to be female.”

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Death of a hero, birth of a legend

Friday, April 18th, 2014

The death of Karpal Singh is a sad, sad thing. But what’s sadder is the dearth of humanity – that there are those who can celebrate the death of a fine man, or that they can incite others to hate just because they share the same views.

IT’S mid-April, the time of the year when many in the world celebrate the new year.

It was Ugadhi for the Telegus, it was the Tamil Chithirai Puthandu, the Sikh Vaisakhi, the Thai Songkran, the Myanmar Thingyin and it was the Malayalee Vishu.

Laos, Cambodia and much of Indochina celebrated the new year, too.

Happy New Year?

No. There’s so little to be happy about.

There’s still no news about MH370 and the families are left with no closure 40 days on.

A ferry has capsized in South Korea, a day after the 102nd anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, with close to 300 – mostly high school students – feared dead.

In Nigeria, madmen have kidnapped 100 schoolgirls.

Now, Karpal Singh is dead. The man who was always a presence in Penang is no more. It’s quite hard to believe.

The Khalsa was formed in mid-April. It was when the Sikhs called themselves Singhs – lions. Karpal was lion and he was tiger – the Tiger of Jelutong.

(BRIEF CAPTION) Chaiman of Persatuan Kebajikan Naam Thamilar Pulau Pinang PA.THA.Mahalingam hangging folwers in front of the late DAP leader Karpal Singh's house in Jalan Utama in Penang. April 17,2014. ZHAFARAN NASIB/ The Star.

Respects: Chairman of Persatuan Kebajikan Naam Thamilar Pulau Pinang P.T. Mahalingam hanging a garland of flowers at the entrance of Karpal’s house in Jalan Utama in Penang. – ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

He was my MP for many years. I voted in Jelutong until the late 90s.

Like him or dislike him, he was a man of principle, one who would always stand by his words and call a spade a spade.

He not only took on those on the other side of the divide, even those in his own party feared him. No one was too big for him, not his party leaders, not the nation’s leaders. not even royalty.

If he thought you were wrong, he would be on your case. Ask Prof P. Ramasamy. They were on the same side but the Tiger pounced when he thought the professor had overstepped his bounds.

One old friend called Karpal a lawyer’s lawyer, a great legal mind lost not just to Malaysia but to the entire region.

Karpal may have been many things to many people but he was not one to propagate hate. He stood staunchly for what he felt was right and what the Constitution says. But hate? Never.

by Dorairaj Nadason.

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Treasures in cave belong to sultanate, says historian

Friday, April 18th, 2014

MALACCA: The treasures said to be buried in Pulau Nangka are part of the riches of the prosperous Malacca Sultanate, said a local historian.

Historic Study and Patriotism Institute (ISKEP) chairman Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Jamil Mukmin said during its heyday, Malacca’s busy port had many large foreign ships sailing in, with the visitors presenting gifts such as old ingots and jewels as port taxes to the Sultan’s trusted lieutenants.

“These valuables were stored in a palace and they could have been transferred to the secluded Pulau Nangka or even Pulau Besar when the Portuguese attacked Malacca in 1511,” he said in an interview.

Dr Mohd Jamil said the hype about treasures buried in a cave at Pulau Nangka, a tiny island, 17km from the coast here, first surfaced in 1997.

He said there had been attempts to find the treasure loot back then but efforts to salvage the valuables failed.

There was also hearsay that part of the Malacca Sultanate treasures were buried under St John’s Hill.

However, Malacca Museum Authori­ties (Perzim)’s general manager Datuk Khamis Abas confirmed that archaeologist surveys revealed no signs of the treasures buried there.

The only possibility left is Pulau Nangka.

Khamis Abas added the organisation was flooded with calls, including from foreign media following The Star report on the treasure.

A front-page exclusive on the treasure island on Monday had stated that the state government authorised two local companies tocarry out excavation work under strict conditions set out by Perzim.

by R.S.N. Murali.

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Clarification on PBS via multiple channels

Friday, April 18th, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Examination Syndicate (MES) will use multiple channels to tell parents about the school-based assessment system (PBS) from next month, Education Minister II Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh said.

“We will be clarifying what we mean by ‘school-based’ assessment through parent-teacher association briefings, zone-by-zone updates and through the print and electronic media,” he told reporters after opening the Taylor’s Interna­tional School Kuala Lumpur here yesterday.

Idris said by the end of the month, all teachers would have been briefed on the changes.

Last month, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced an improved version of the PBS and, since then, the ministry and the MES have been making efforts to ensure that information is relayed properly to schools and other stakeholders.

Under the improved system, teachers will no longer have to key in large amounts of data online.

by Ann-Marie Khor.

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‘Don’t play the fool’ and other quotes by Karpal Singh

Friday, April 18th, 2014

Jangan main-main” – a catchphrase of sorts for the statesman, Karpal Singh said this on many occasions – to the Registrar of Societies when his beloved party was faced with the threat of deregistration, after being sent live bullets by thugs.

The tiger is still alive and … a wounded tiger is even more dangerous.” – Karpal in April 1995 after DAP was defeated in Penang. The then-state chairman said the defeat did not mean the end of the opposition in Penang.

I know what it is like to lose your liberties. So I want to go on being in Parliament as long as I can.” – Karpal in 1995, when asked about his determination during the general elections campaign period.

For there to be integration in essence and spirit, I hope all restrictions in the way of uniting the people are removed.” – Karpal in June 1995, welcoming the move to integrate the legal systems of Sabah, Sarawak and West Malaysia.

Offences perpetrated upon children, particularly infants, are the most heinous of offences because children are defenceless against such attacks.” Despite his dislike of capital punishment, Karpal felt that those who committed crimes against children deserved harsh sentences.

Singh is King.” A reference to a popular Bollywood movie with the same catchphrase, Karpal used the line several times including after he received live bullets in the mail (prefaced with “jangan main-main”).

I do not intend to give up. The Opposition has a big role to play in this country.” – Karpal after his accident in 2005 which left him in a wheelchair.

There are always people who are insensitive, we just have to take it. There is nothing you can do about it. We cannot be discouraged, as that’s exactly what our enemies would want.” – Karpal in a Sept 2006 interview with The Star.

Once you are in this situation, you realise how little the disabled have in this country. Governments in many countries make lots of allowances to include them in society. We haven’t reached that stage. I will do what I can to make sure the disabled are given all opportunities in line with other countries.” – Karpal in 2006, commenting on the lack of disabled-friendly infrastructure and legislation in Malaysia.

We may have our differences with PAS but it is a solid, principled party and an important ally.” – Karpal in 2012. “My parents wanted me to be a doctor but I would have been a lousy doctor!” – Karpal in a 2010 interview with The Star.

I am not questioning the privileges. I am asking how long they will be implemented.” – Karpal in 2010, asking the Government for a time frame for the gradual removal of special privileges accorded to Malays and other bumiputras, in the spirit of 1Malaysia.

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An inspiring teacher and friend

Friday, April 18th, 2014

CHELSEA L.Y. NG shares her memories of lawyer and politician Karpal Singh whom she regarded as a teacher and friend.

I MET him on my first day of work as a court reporter at the old and dila­pidated Jalan Duta courthouse in 1994. I did not know who he was. I only knewthat he was defending a man charged with stealing a Ruler’s golden belt.

He was patient with me, taking time off from his schedule to explain what was “charge sheet”, “fact sheet” and other court jargon such as “part-heard”, “exhibit” and “for mention” to me.

Much later, I was assigned to co­­ver a molest case involving a sports coach and Karpal was defending the accused. I learned more stuff from him, such as “cross-examination”, “re-examination”, Criminal Pro­­cedure Code, “trial-within-a-trial”, “in-camera”, etc.

That was how I came to regard him as my teacher.

Be it in court or in Parliament, he had an unmistakeable presence. While his baritone voice was given to gruff punctuations, especially in Bahasa Malaysia, Karpal was pointedly sharp in his arguments and of­ten drove them home with vi­­gour.

Many of my lawyer friends strive to emulate him. Former senior pro­secutors who had the privilege of being his opponents described him as honest, hardworking, professional and certainly not a celebrity lawyer.

As the years went by, Karpal and I became professional friends. Whenever my journalist colleagues or I needed an explanation or other help for our articles, he would humbly oblige, even after the accident that left him partially paralysed.

He was very easy-going. We used to sit down for teh si (tea with eva­porated milk) and kaya-butter toast at coffeeshops near the Jalan Raja courthouse, and a few in away places such as Rawang and Kuala Kubu Baru.

He would always order the same items and pick up the bill.

Karpal would also always offer us a ride back to Kuala Lumpur if we needed one. In the mid-1990s, there was hardly any public transport in Jalan Duta back to The Star office in Petaling Jaya.

My colleague then, Lee Yuk Peng, and I would get a ride in Karpal’s Mercedes Benz to Bangsar where he would stop at a supermarket to shop and we would hail a taxi from there back to the office.

He would offer us a lift whenever he saw us at the courthouse at 5pm, and especially when it was raining.

Five years ago, I was made the Education Desk editor and hardly had a chance to meet up or speak to Karpal after that.

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Another merciless killing of sea turtles in Sabah.

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Are dead sea turtles tied with nylon rope or fishing net?

KOTA KINABALU: Another merciless killing of sea turtle has been detected, this time in the islands of Semporna after 50 dead sea turtles were found in Pulau Tiga, Kudat.

A Fisheries Department staff in Semporna district was on his way home on Tuesday when he saw four dead sea turtles floating at the sea between Bum-Bum Island and Kulapuan Island. He then took pictures and posted on his Facebook.

James Alin from the School of Business and Economics, Universiti Malaysia Sabah, said a report had been made by WWF-Malaysia Semporna team and the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) was investigating the case.

However, he suspected the competency of Wildlife Department.

“Do we have to wait for the SWD to complete their investigation to come up with the list of usual suspects?

“Top of list is the seaweed farmers. The re-occurrence of conflict between sea turtle (‘Bokko’ to the islanders) and the seaweed farmers has been recorded since 1990s. The authorities were in denial while conservation groups prefer to spread a romantic view that the islanders do not harm sea turtles. They even come up with a nonsense like the sea gypsies have strong taboo on harming the sea turtles. The Muslim islanders do not eat sea turtle meat so they say, but they love sea turtle eggs,” he said in a statement yesterday.

James pointed out that it is not rare for the islanders who commute daily between Bum Bum Island and Semporna town to see sea turtles in the areas adjacent to Tun Mustapha Marine Park. These areas have been the favorite foraging habitat of Green Turtles long before the boom in seaweed farming. Sea turtle is a pest to seaweed farming; they can destroy the entire seaweed farm overnight.

“The truth is this; seaweed farmers are fed up complaining about it and if they can, will definitely take revenge by harming the animal.

The next usual suspect are the artisanal fishermen. Sea turtles are known to forage at the coral reef and sea grasses areas where artisanal fishing is likely to take place. Sea turtle caught in any type of fishing net will drown. When that happens, fishermen usually will dispose of the carcass, cut the net, tie the turtle and drag it away from their fishing ground. Who is there to find out when most fishing activities are done at midnight until early morning?” he said.

James added the third usual suspect are the fishing vessels which are taking advantage of richness of our sea and non-existent of enforcement by SWD.

“Some fishing vessels are poaching endangered, charismatic and migratory marine species like sea turtle, Dugong, Dolphin or whale shark. The crews of these vessels with the Flag of Convenience are Vietnamese or Chinese or Indonesian. They are given license to do deep sea fishing or long line (by the Federal Fisheries Department). If they are caught encroaching into coastal areas or in possession of protected species, they too will dispose of the evidence by throwing it to the sea. The local owners of this joint venture will declare that they did not authorize the illegal activities,” he said.

“What is the probability of SWD solving this case? Zero! If we look at how they handled the case of 50 dead sea turtles in Pulau Tiga, Kudat. A week after my report appeared on social media and online news portal, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment made a press statement denying my earlier report.