Archive for September, 2014

MNS: Development along Johor coastline affecting bird migration

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

JOHOR BARU: The massive developments taking place along the Johor coastline may affect the annual migration of thousands of birds that flocked here from East Asia to Australia, says the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS).

MNS Johor branch chairman Vincent Chow said migratory birds usually choose Johor to escape the winter cold of China, South Korea and Japan.

“The birds usually begin their thousand-mile journey when winter is near in East Asia and they travel south by using the East Asia-Australia “flyway”.

“Once it is spring, which is between February and March, they will then make their return journey up north as food such as insects would be plenty for them there,” he said in an interview here yesterday.

Chow said that the number of migratory birds here have dwindled over the last few years, especially along Danga Bay and Pontian.

He pointed out that migratory birds, such as the storm storks, could usually be found along the riverbeds at Danga Bay or even near Sungai Masai as the birds feed on small crabs, fish and mudskippers.

Chow also said that the massive development along those areas have influenced the ecosystem where food becomes scarce for these birds.

“Efforts must be made not only by the Johor government, but also the developers involved in the projects to ensure that the ecosystem will be maintained.

“The migration of birds is a crown jewel to Malaysia as bird-watching has become a huge tourism magnet,” he added.


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A worthless piece of paper

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

PETALING JAYA: School leavers will no long­er be able to use forecast Sijil Pelajaran Ma­­laysia (SPM) results to enter pre-university or foundation programmes from Ja­­nuary.

The Education Ministry notified heads of private institutions of higher education that such results would no longer be accepted as admission qualifications, unlike in previous years.

The circular shocked the private education industry, which has over the past 30 years, relied on admissions based on 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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RM100 Million Allocated Yearly For 1Malaysia Milk Programme For Schools

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

KLANG, Sept 24 (Bernama) — A yearly allocation of RM100 million will be provided by the government under the 1Malaysia Milk Programme (PS1M) for the benefit of more than 1.2 million primary school children across the country.

Deputy Education Minister P. Kamalanathan said in an effort to help develop healthy intelligent children, students from 7,685 government primary schools will continue to benefit under the programme this year.

“The on-going programme is to ensure that the students continue to benefit from the goodness of milk which is particularly beneficial to the young,” he told reporters today.

He said the ministry has proposed Sept 24, each year to celebrate World School Milk Day in line with the World Milk Day celebration.

Earlier, Kamalanathan represented Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also the Education Minister to launch the 2014 PS1M at the Sungai Kapar Indah School here, today.

Muhyiddin in his speech read by Kamalanathan said PS1M products should be placed under one brand so that it is easily recognizable and close monitoring was necessary to ensure that the standard of the milk under the programme was of the highest quality.

He said close attention should also be given to those who suffer from lactose intolerance as this would give rise to other complications.

“The next six years is an important transformation phase as we need to steer everyone in transforming towards achieving vision 2020. Therefore, producing a generation of healthy, alert and intelligent children is of utmost concern for the government,” he said.


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Need To Change Perception Of STEM Among Students – Academicians

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 25 (Bernama) — In order to achieve the target of more students pursuing the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), the perception that these subjects are difficult must be changed.

Higher Education Leadership Academy (AKEPT) Learning and Teaching deputy director Dr Ismi Arif Ismail said interest in these fields must be cultivated from school so as to provide a solid foundation.

“STEM teachers need to vary the teaching and learning methods so that the subjects become more interesting, relevant and suit our younger generation and their interests.”

He said this when asked to comment on a recent statement by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on Malaysia’s target to get 60 per cent of youths to take up STEM.

Najib, in his speech, when launching the Global STEM Alliance at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York, said the country hoped to achieve a 60:40 ratio of children interested in STEM compared to education and careers not in STEM.

The prime minister said the ratio was at 25:75 in 2000, and increased to 42:58 recently following the government’s support for STEM education.

Commenting further on this, Ismi Arif said the target was not impossible but it required the cooperation of all parties so that STEM would be accepted as vital fields for the nation’s development.

“To ensure the sustainability of the country’s development, we cannot just be users of science and technological inventions from other countries, instead we must become a key player to produce world-class scientists,” he said.

Prof Datuk Dr Hussein Ahmad, senior research fellow at the Department of Educational Management, Planning and Policy, Universiti Malaya’s Education Faculty, opined that “STEM is an investment for the future and which must be boosted to ensure that Malaysia’s progress in science and technology will be at par with that of developed countries”.

Describing STEM as a futuristic field, Hussein said the country was entering a phase of global competitiveness which required more expertise and skills in the fields.

“Teachers need to be better trained and STEM-oriented so that they can mould and produce a generation that is competitive in these fields,” he said.

Meanwhile, Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) Malaysia chairman, Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said besides parents, commitment from school counsellors was important to change the perception that STEM was a difficult area to master.

She said even parents lacked knowledge on the importance of STEM, as well as the careers which their children could pursue after graduation.

“This is where the school counsellors need to motivate the students and provide information on career choices towards changing the perception on STEM.”

by Rohana Nasrah and Rosmalis Anuar.

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2.47 Million Students Benefitted From PTPTN

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

KOTA KINABALU, Sept 26 (Bernama) — The National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) has forked out RM56.6 billion in loans to 2.47 million students nationwide, since its establishment 16 years ago.

Its Strategic Communication and Marketing chief Mastura Mohd Khalid said 150,918 students from Sabah benefitted from the fund, involving RM3.65 billion.

“It is evident that PTPTN has fulfilled its main objective of efficient financing for qualified students, in line with the government’s aspirations,” she said at a PTPTN-customer function here today.

She said the repayment trend kept improving, with RM737 million collected in in 2011, RM800.47 million in 2012, and RM1.2 billion in 2013.

“As at Aug 31 this year, RM5.36 billion had been collected from 990,915 borrowers,” she said.

Mastura said 22,150 borrowers were released from their repayment obligations totaling RM603.1 million after successfully obtaining a first-class honours degree or the equivalent.

Meanwhile, she said the National Education Savings Scheme (SSPN-i) introduced in 2004 has 2.085 million accounts currently, with deposits totaling RM1.2 billion.


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‘Budget should address healthcare issues’

Saturday, September 27th, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR: THE medical fraternity and the public are hoping that Budget 2015 will address a number of shortcomings in the provision of healthcare services.

Malaysian Medical Association president Dr H. Krishna Kumar said despite being ranked as third best in the world in providing healthcare services, the amount of money allocated by the government was still minimal.

“The government should look into improving medical staff remunerations to avoid losing them to the private sector.

“Many doctors do not stay in the public service after serving the required years,” he told the New Straits Times yesterday.

Dr Krishna said although Malaysia produced a large number of doctors, it did not have enough specialists.

“With a shortage of specialists, longer working hours are required from doctors,” he said, adding that there should also be adequate trainers to train specialists.

He said there was no point in building more hospitals if there was an insufficient number of specialists.

“The government must also make it compulsory for every university offering medical programmes to have their own hospitals.”

Dr Krishna said the government should raise certain taxes and lift sugar subsidies to check on the rising number of non-communicable diseases.

He said tax exemption be given for gym memberships to promote a healthy lifestyle.

Suthakar Govindan, 51, who frequently visits government hospitals, said they should reduce the waiting hours, especially for senior citizens. He suggested that hospitals come up with express lanes dedicated to senior citizens to collect their medications.

Suthakar said the government should increase the number of beds at public hospitals.

Pharmacist Nanthini Suriayanarayan, 24, said the Health Ministry should consider opening drive-through medication dispensing facilities for patients to collect their monthly medical supplies.


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Continued development of forest may cause extinction and conflict, warn experts

Friday, September 26th, 2014

KUALA ROMPIN: Environmentalists are warning that continued logging and development of Lesong may lead to a substantial decline in animals and plants already on the list of threatened species.

Some years ago, tigers and elephants roamed freely in the area just above the wildlife-rich Endau-Rompin National Park, home to much of Malaysia’s flora and fauna.

With the logging, the animals have been forced further into unlogged areas, getting squeezed into ever smaller habitats.

There are now only about 300 tigers in peninsular Malaysia – in Belum-Temenggor, Taman Negara and the Endau-Rompin Complex, which includes Lesong. Any decline in numbers would lead to a real threat of extinction.

Environmental consultant Dylan Jefri Ong said the large-scale uniform logging – also known as clearcutting – that was going on now would have a destructive effect on the forest ecosystem.

“Some of these would be loss and fragmentation of wildlife habitats, leading to displaced animal populations, as well as the loss of rare or endangered plant life,” he said.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, 686 plants and 225 animals in Malaysia are at risk of extinction.

The main cause of this decline is loss of habitats and poaching, according to the organisation.

Ong said the warning was clear: “Stop the logging or these endangered species will lose their habitats.”

He said the logging was exposing more and more of the forest areas to what is known as the “edge effect”.

That is when the edges of the forest where logging has laid the land bare get exposed to wind and sunlight, which forces animals like tigers away, shrinking their habitat.


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Handshake, peck will not spread HIV – doctor.

Friday, September 26th, 2014

KOTA KINABALU: HIV and AIDS patients will not infect the people through handshakes or kisses on the cheek, said a medical doctor.

“These hands have shaken hands with thousands of HIV patients. There is no problem,” said Menggatal Health Clinic’s family medicine specialist Dr Mohd Nazri Mohd Daud yesterday.

Speaking at the Seminar on HIV/AIDS and Women 2014 at a resort near here, Dr Mohd Nazri said he also would not mind receiving a smooch on his cheek by people suffering from HIV.

“The HIV virus also cannot be spread on a fruit that has been tainted with a small drop of blood from an HIV positive person who accidentally cut himself while cutting the fruit,” he said.

He emphasized that while the HIV virus was exceptionally strong and difficult to destroy inside a human host, it was an extremely weak virus outside of one.

“It can die within minutes outside a human host,” he said.

On claims that eating certain herbs and consuming the organs of certain reptiles can cure HIV patients, Dr Mohd Nazri said that he could only vouch for claims that had received confirmation from scientific organisations.

‘Focus on our similarities, not differences’

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

PETALING JAYA: It is important to focus on the many similarities Malaysians of various races have instead of looking at the differences, says speaker and motivator Datuk Bridget Menezes.

“Even if the other person seems to be a world apart from us, we must find a bridge. Rather than being quick to judge, we should be quick to forgive.

“The spiritual law is that attention to differences divides whereas attention to similarities unites,” she said when commenting on The Star’s campaign on moderation.

Menezes commended the campaign as a constructive move to promote moderation and reject extremism. It is through this campaign that many leaders were able to voice their opinions, she added.

Menezes’ father C.B. Gomes, who came to Malaysia at the age of four from Goa, was a musician who played in the silent movies and taught music to many outstanding personalities.

“My father taught music to all races. We held concerts almost every Sunday. We were innocent and ignorant of the words ‘race’, ‘religion’, ‘colour’,” she recalled.

Menezes said it was important for all Malaysians to appreciate each other’s differences, more so when living in a country with such diversity.

“When there is willingness to accommodate others, unity blossoms,” said Menezes.

“So, as a nation, we have much to be proud of and the lesson we have learnt is that life must go on.

“The only way to preserve peace and harmony is through tolerance and respect for one another – no matter how different we are from each other.”

by P. ARUNA.

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Need for body to assess mega projects

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

Kota Kinabalu: Malaysia should have a separate body to ensure check and balance in the nation’s finances.

Public Accounts Committee (PAC) Chairman, Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed, said the government should take the idea into account to produce financial transparency in terms of huge projects besides having a more focused budget assessment.

“The information can also be used by members of parliament during their debate enabling them to bring up precise information,” he said, adding that currently the budget in Malaysia comes under the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) and Finance Ministry.

It is (the practice), he further explained, applied in other countries whereby they have a department under parliament which comprises finance, technical and specialists who will evaluate the yearly budget prior to the budget tabling by their government.

“They will evaluate the proposed budget in order for it to be used as references by the members of parliament,” he added.

Nur Jazlan also explained the accrual accounting system, which will be implemented on Jan 1 next year at the Federal level and Jan 1, 2016 at State level.

“The system will definitely bring a big change, which is from the current cash basis of accounting towards accrual accounting commonly practiced in corporate business,” he said during the Bicara Perdana Programme at Sabah Intan Campus here, Tuesday.

The accrual accounting system, he said, will allow the people to be aware of the government’s balance sheet in terms of asset position and the government’s liability in a period of time.

The government’s transactions through its current cash basis accounting system, especially installment payments, are not recorded, Nur Jazlan explained.

Instead, these transactions will only be recorded when cash payments are made.

“All government assets are now being recorded and its value appraised,” he said.

He explained that the value of some assets are easier to be determined while others such as the nation’s forest reserves could not be easily determined.

This is because on record the forest acreage is huge but when it is audited, its value decreases.

On the upcoming PAC session in October, Nur Jazlan said they will include new issues brought up by the Prime Minister as well as audit reports brought forward from last June.

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