Archive for September, 2014

Bid to curb graft the NYPD way

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

NEW YORK: Under best practices being planned for the police, a refusal to take a report, make an arrest or issue a summons may be classified as corruption.

It will also be considered corruption if a policeman misuses his work hours or a department computer, according to the Home Ministry.

The ministry and Bukit Aman are looking at best practices adopted by the New York Police Department (NYPD) as part of their efforts to improve the image of the police and stamp out corruption within the force.

“We are serious about this because the perception in Malaysia is that many of our police personnel are corrupt,” said Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

“I have had three meetings with the NYPD so far to learn from their experiences because their problems with corruption some 20 years ago is worse than ours.”

He was on a working visit with senior ministry officials and met with the NYPD’s Commission to Combat Police Corruption.

The NYPD’s experience in curbing corruption and managing negative public perception was something that Malaysia could learn from, Zahid said.

“We plan to send police officer s to work closely with the NYPD and learn their best practices,” he said.


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Groups: Stakeholders should have been consulted

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

PETALING JAYA: Stakeholders should have been consulted before the Education Ministry made its decision disallowing school forecast results when applying for pre-university programmes.

“Why didn’t they consult stakeholders before making this decision?” said Malacca Action Group for Parents in Education (Magpie) chairman Mak Chee Kin.

“They should have spoken to parents, students and teachers to get their views first.”

He added that he had two children in college now and had heard from them that the quality of students who entered the first intake in January was very high.

“These are the students that are goal-oriented and know what they want,” he said.

Mak, also the PTA chairman at SMK St Francis, added that students normally achieved a higher grade in the actual Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examinations, when compared to their trial results.

Shamsudin Hamid, who founded the Association of Parents and Individuals towards Revising the Education System (Aspires), reiterated this sentiment.

“It’s a pity really because there is a fair number of students who want to continue their studies as quickly as possible,” he said.

He added that parents who had children sitting for the SPM this year would have already planned their finances and set aside money for their children to continue studying.

Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) Malaysia chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said that her first thought was that the Education Ministry was questioning the integrity of its own teachers.

Forecast results are normally drawn up by teachers based on students’ trial exam results.

She added that even if the forecast results were inflated, private higher education institutions had their own quality control methods in place to maintain its standards.


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Education Ministry: Forecast SPM never allowed for university entry

Tuesday, September 30th, 2014

PETALING JAYA: The Education Ministry clarified that it had never allowed forecast SPM results to be used as admission qualification and the institutions of higher learning were aware of this.

It said in a statement on Tuesday that according to the Private Higher Educational Institutions Act 1996, only actual SPM results were needed to enrol for matriculation, pre-university and diploma courses approved by the Ministry.

“To say that the forecast results “can no longer be used” is not accurate,” said the Ministry adding that it considered this to be a serious issue.

The Ministry said it was concerned with the quality of services offered by the institutions and that the regulation follows the “best practices” of the Malaysian Qalifications Agency (MQA).

It said it had issued compound fines to several institutions in 2012 and 2013 for going against the law.

In a circular on May 23, 2014, the Ministry reminded the institutions not to allow the use of forecast results for enrolment.

The circular sent shockwaves throughout the industry which had over the past 30 years relied on admissions based on the forecast results.

Students sit for the SPM examinations in November and results are usually released at the end of March the following year.

Each year about 30,000 students register using their school trial exam results for pre-university programmes that start in January.


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Raising ethics and efficiency

Monday, September 29th, 2014

Integrity, responsibility and trust are among the values government servants must have for departments and services to run smoothly.

TIME marches on but will never fade the exciting memories of a young girl when the vibrant shouts of MERDEKA rang loud and clear followed by a thunderous round of applause in the Tawau town padang (field) on Sept 16, 1963 … the day Sabah achieved independence through the formation of Malaysia.

I can still visualise the lowering of the Union Jack which in turn saw the hoisting of the Malaysian flag followed by the Sabah Flag.

My classmates and I sang the Negara Ku and Sabah Tanah Air Ku standing at attention and with a sense of pride even at the age of 12.

The smiles on the people’s faces, the flags and the banners said it all. Sabah was celebrating the birth of a new nation and her liberation from colonial rule.

As an adult, I now look back at our celebrations and can understand better why there was so much jubilation and hope amongst the people. Malaysia was our nation, our home.


With hope comes a very special sense of responsibility from the government, particularly government servants.

Every government servant plays a special role in providing hope. It is thus vital for them to be subservient to the government of the day.

The word “government” defined in the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (3rd Edition) is the act or process of governing, especially the control and administration of public policy in a political unit.

“Servant” refers to one who is publicly employed to perform services and in this context, for the government.

‘Subservient’ means subordinate in capacity or function; one who expresses submission, recognisance while “government of the day” means the ruling political party of this present time and “must” means compulsory.

Stated in Article 132 (1) of the Federal Constitution, the public service and all government servants including the education service are subjected to the law and regulations made by the ruling government.

We in the Education Ministry are also subordinate to the government and are subjected to obey all rules.


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SIDMA College, UNITAR Sabah 2014 New Students Oath Taking Ceremony.

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

SIDMA College, UNITAR International University Sabah Regional Centre, held an Oath Taking Ceremony for the 2014 new students at the National Department of Culture and Art Auditorium Complex, Kota Kinabalu (Auditorium Komplex, Jabatan Kebudayaan dan Keseniaan Negeri Sabah – JKKN), Jalan Penampang, Kota Kinabalu on 25 September 2014, beginning at 8.00 am.

This ceremonial occasion was organised to enable all the 630 new UNITAR Sabah 2014 students formally promised and pledged the oath script to commit to the ethical practices as students of UNITAR International University, Sabah Regional Centre, SIDMA College, Kota Kinabalu.

The Honorary Prof Dr. Putri Zabariah Megat A. Rahman, Dean, Faculty of Early Childhood Studies, UNITAR International University Main Campus, Petaling Jaya officiated the auspicious occasion.

In her officiating address, she was indeed proud that these students had chosen UNITAR International University; an university with its strong and significant network of academic collaborations with both the academic and corporate / industrial partners around the world to offer challenging study programmes which are professionally aligned with these major industry players both nationally and internationally; to pursue their tertiary studies. She too, reminded that to study is never easy, but here at UNITAR, the university is equipped with some world class facilities and possessing a conducive environment to enhance students learning. Facilities such as the UNITAR’s Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) – UNIEC, a comprehensive, new virtual learning platform was established to enable both the students and academicians to utilize digital tools such as lap tops, tablets, I-pads and smart phones to access the teaching and learning materials virtually.

UNITAR International University, through its collaboration with multinational industrial players such as Themed Attractions, Legoland. Kidzania, Maxis, Boustead Holding Berhad, Pearson and more have not only paved ways for students internship training but more importantly is that it has guaranteed career opportunities for current and future graduates.

Prof Dr. Morni Hj Kambrie, SIDMA Chairman, in his welcoming address thanked Prof Dr. Putri Zahariah for her effort to attend the occasion despite her busy schedule at the main campus. He too welcomed and congratulated the students for selecting SIDMA College, UNITAR Sabah to further their studies. He reminded the students to uphold their principles and philosophies that they too can learn and be successful via UNITAR. Being in its 11th year of success, UNITAR Sabah has produced marketable and promising graduates who are currently holding respectable posts / careers in various fields, both in the private and public sectors throughout Malaysia.

Dr Morni reassured the students that their welfare and future are in good hands, and encouraged the students to do their bit, by showing full discipline and commitment in their studies in order to materialize their dreams. Dr. Morni also assured them that staff at the college is ever willing to assist them in their studies, and students experiencing problems in their studies should approach the respective lecturer / tutors for assistance and guidance.

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Time to put a stop to ragging

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

GOING komando, Asrama harlem shake and Mamat bangla are only a few of the videos which have gone viral over social networking websites, depicting shameful acts of ragging. While it may be amusing for viewers, those involved may still be suffering the consequences.

The most recent reported case was in June this year involving seven public university freshmen who were allegedly abused by 10 of their seniors, including being forced to strip and perform lewd acts on each other at the university’s hostel.

Counselling psychologist Dr Gerard Louis said ragging is merely a word used as a license to bully and cause hurt to others.

“Ragging has been happening for decades in sorority houses in the United States. Somehow, our undergraduates have adopted this tradition.

“It can happen in very subtle ways. The more external and explicit forms are easy to spot but it’s the more implicit kind of bullying that’s difficult to track and can have serious implications.”

With the popularity of social media, the effects of ragging are far greater today than what they were a couple of years ago, Louis said.

“Like any other traumatic experience, ragging can impact a person for many, many years later, depending on the extent of it. But ragging is more traumatic today with the advent of social media.

“As Asians, we are very conservative and are taught from young to protect our modesty. In our culture, going around half-naked can have a major impact on one’s life.

“Can you imagine people uploading embarrassing pictures and videos of you for the whole world to see? Imagine thousands with access to images of you running around naked. The embarrassment doesn’t stop at just one person, it extends to parents, siblings and relatives.”

Integrated Psychology Network director and psychologist Valerie Jaques concurred.

“Ragging which is made public through social media can be extremely damaging to an individual’s personality development, and with maladaptive strategies, the individual is highly likely to experience mental illness, either at that point in time or at a later stage when he or she can’t live with the shame. They may turn their attack inwards and be self-harming, or turn the attack outwards and harm others.


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Teens aged below 16 make up large percentage of rape victims

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

GEORGE TOWN: Girls aged between 12 and 16 make up a large portion of rape victims in Penang, although the percentage of cases showed a drop each year.

Penang police deputy chief Datuk A. Thaiveegan said statistics revealed that between 65 and 75 per cent of the victims were aged below 18, and most were still schooling.

Of this percentage, 50 to 70 per cent of victims were aged between 12 and 16.

He said statistics also showed that of the rape cases investigated, only 10 to 14 per cent of the suspects involved those who were complete strangers to the victims.

“This means that almost 90 per cent of rapists were known to the victims. Investigations showed that the suspects were those in the victim’s circle such as family members, boyfriends or acquaintances.

“Studies showed that more often than not, a victim’s boyfriend was involved in such cases. Every year, this group is the highest contributor, with between 35 and 47 per cent of the overall number of cases,” he said in an opening speech at a seminar, ‘Teenagers and Free Sex: Effect and Consequences’ here today.

The one-day seminar was organised by the Penang police’s Sexual, Women and Child Investigation Division or D11, with assistance from Universiti Sains Malaysia’s School of Social Sciences and the Penang Education Department.

It was attended by policemen, teachers, students, university students and civil servants.

The seminar aims to give awareness to teenagers on the effects of free sex, educate them to stay away from free sex and expose the community on the importance of having the skill to approach and teach teenagers.

Thaiveegan said statistics from 2010 to last month showed a drop in rape cases by 146 cases in 2010, 2011 (142), 2012 (121), 2013 (116) and 62 cases from January to August this year.

He said increasing awareness among teenagers on the issue had contributed to a reduction in rape cases in the state, in addition to teachers and parents who had played an important role in emphasising on religious education.


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Smartphones pose health risks to kids

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR: THERE is no doubt that smartphones make our daily lives more convenient. With the click of a button, we are able to gain access to any piece of information.

As such, smartphones are widely used not only by adults, but also children.

What many are unaware of, however, are the risks that these gadgets pose, especially to children, as they are constantly bent forward for a prolonged period of time, texting or playing games.

Chiropractic technology and myofascial therapist Lim Jia Jen said prolonged use of smartphones could cause degenerative spinal stress in children.

“The prolonged use of smartphones could result in pain of the neck, lower back, shoulders and wrists, as well as headaches.

“It also causes degenerative spinal stress. This is a major postural nightmare which could have a detrimental effect on the children’s musculoskeletal health.

“The joints and tissue in the neck are not built to withstand being flexed for long periods,” she told the New Sunday Times.

Lim said the action of peering down at the screen for a long period could cause the natural curvature of the neck to revise.

“This applies to the lumbar spine. It could lead to degenerative disc disease which may be irreversible.

“Bone spurs start to form and in many cases, cause disc herniation and disc prolapse.”

She said children should be taught on how to manage their time on smartphones.

“It is important to prevent early degeneration of joints, especially the spine. Reduce their time on these gadgets. Children should be outdoors at least once a week.

“Teach them correct posture. They should take regular screen breaks and do some stretching exercises to prevent strain injuries.”

A family physician who only wanted to be known as Dr Ng said children below five years of age were not encouraged to use smartphones.

“Many school-going kids want smartphones due to peer pressure. Parents must play their role in this matter.


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Setting higher standards for english teachers

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

PUTRAJAYA: THE introduction of the Professional Upskilling of English Language Teachers programme, or Pro-ELT, by the Education Ministry has yielded encouraging results.

The Ministry’s English Language Teaching Centre unit head Dr Jayanti Sothinathan said 76.4 per cent of teachers who participated in Pro-ELT moved one level up in their English language proficiency test.

“Due to its success, the focus of research this year is now centred on the impact of the programme towards the students’ mastery of the language.

“Pro-ELT is intended to enhance the English language proficiency of our teachers so as to ensure that every student is taught by a teacher who is proficient in English,” she said.

The initiative under the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 outlines plans to enhance students’ grasp of the English language, and aims to further strengthen teachers’ English language proficiency as well as their pedagogical skills.

Pro-ELT, conducted in schools nationwide, was first introduced in 2012 with 5,010 teachers and this number has increased to 9,000 this year.

The Ministry aims to up-skill 24,000 English teachers by 2016.

Jayanti explained that for the second cohort of the programme, qualified English Language trainers from the British Council were selected in to provide 240 hours of face-toface sessions and another 240 hours of online learning.

“The training materials and resources specially developed for this programme addresses the pedagogical needs of the participants while ensuring their experience in the training room is transferred to classrooms.” There are two methods under the programme — cluster and centralised — which takes 40 and 16 weeks respectively.

The cluster method is for participants inurban,suburbanandsomeruralschools located 25km and less from the training centre, whereas the centralised method is meant for teachers in rural or less accessible schools.

The cluster method requires participants to attend a six-hour face-toface session per week during school term and approximately seven days of training per year during the school holidays.


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More intercultural dialogue needed to rekindle Malaysia’s ‘accommodating spirit’, says expert

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR: More intercultural dialogue is needed to rekindle Malaysia’s ‘accommodating spirit’, said constitutional expert Prof Emeritus Datuk Dr Shad Saleem Faruqi (pic).

“Malaysia is a rich mosaic where secularism and religion live side by side.

“We need to rekindle the accommodating spirit of 1957.

“Most prejudices are born out of ignorance, so we need more intercultural dialogue to share in the commonalities,” said Shad Saleem.

Shad, who was a panellist at a forum held during the International Malaysia Law Conference here on Friday said that for Malaysia to go forward, it had to go back to the ‘spirit of accommodation’ that was in Malaysia’s body politic in 1957 and 1963.

“The social contract was a quid pro quo agreement, it was not a one sided agreement, it abjured passions and prides that bedevilled many other countries,” said Shad when speaking at the National Unity and Harmony: Promoting Respect and Strength in Diversity panel.

“The various communities of Malaysia are like the colours of the rainbow – although separate, they are not apart.

“We have had five decades of successful inter-communal relations, although we have regressed a little bit, we have a strong Constitutional basis for our unity,” said Shad Saleem.

He added that integration, inclusion or empowerment of different ethnicities is based on recognition of diversity.

“I believe Malaya in 1957 and Malaysia in 1963 were inspired by the inclusive approach – that each constitutent group can preserve its language, culture and customs and yet participate fully in the nation’s political and economic process,” said Shad Saleem.


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