Archive for December, 2014

10 New Year resolutions to boost your career

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

It is that time of the year again! This is the time when hope, wishes, joy and warmth form in our hearts, when we look back and take stock of the year gone by and make plans ahead.

Like every year, we make resolutions to start the year on a positive note and to make progress. In this article I will cover how to make resolutions from a professional perspective and suggestions for resolutions.

How to make new year resolutions:

Take stock of the year that has gone by and look at the patterns.

To take stock, review your diary or calendar, also look at your mailbox, your connections on social media platforms, your status updates, also review any feedback you have received from your manager and colleagues.

Ask yourself:

1. What are you most important achievements?

2. What were the lows?

3. Who were the people that made you happy?

4. What are the best moments?

5. Which are your most valuable partnerships?

6. Who are the most important clients, stakeholders?

7. What did you set out to do but couldn’t achieve?

8. What surprised you during the year?

Look for themes and messages that repeat and stand out. Are there any underlying highlights? This will give you sufficient food for thought to prioritise and decide your focus areas for the New Year.

Take your time to mull over these topics and finalise no more than three resolutions that you want to focus on. These could be areas that have you an upside and therefore you would like to continue to do more of. Or they could be areas you want to do less or stop doing.

Think about what are the enablers or forces that favour you, and disablers or forces that could hinder your progress.

Put in place not just resolutions or goals but also a “system” or tracking mechanism or an accountability system that will help you keep on stay on course.

Here are some important resolutions for professional or career successes that you could consider:

1. Develop your professional network

Networking is extremely important for success. Networks need to be real and not just people we are connected to on social platforms. Make an attempt to meet up, socialise, get to know face-to-face some of the important people in your network.

2. Learn a new skill

There are a plethora of courses available online that can help to progress your career. Take that step and choose one!

3. Find a mentor

Find a mentor in someone around you or long distance, and specifically ask for mentoring help, zeroing in on a development area.

4. Read a career development book

There are many great books out there – order one and finish it. Make notes, takeaway lessons and start applying.

5. Build a close relationship with your boss

One of the best ways to kick-start your career is to develop your relationship with your manager. Set up a meeting to clarify expectations, proactively seek feedback, compliment him/her and start the year off on a great note.

by Sharad Verma.

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Honouring moderate Malaysians

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

TAKE a bow, all you Malaysians who openly and steadfastly tread the middle ground. By doing so without fear or apologies, you have shown that moderation need not be a passive brand of mere acceptance and tolerance. No, moderation requires constant engagement and visibility or else it risks being shouted down by extremism.

Your support for initiatives such as the Voices of Moderation campaign, the open letter by the 25 eminent Malays and the I am #26 online petition proves that there are many people in this country with moderate views and ideas who care enough to stand up and be counted.

It is comforting that they are from all races and of all ages, and they comprise both well-known names and the man in the street. Such diversity is important because it truly reflects the rich Malaysian tapestry.

Let us look at 2014 as a year of awakening.

When the nation gained independence 57 years ago, it was with the understanding that we could gain prosperity only if we took the path of moderation. As exemplified by how Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman led the country in the early years, that has been the winning formula for several decades.

However, in recent times, it has been troubling that extreme and bigoted opinions have shoved their way to the centrestage far too often. The moderate Malaysians seem to have settled into the role of the silent majority.

Fortunately, Malaysians by and large appreciate the value of harmony and rational discussions, and they know well that the divisiveness that comes with extremism can quickly undo the country’s proudest achievements.

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Forging ahead with our hearts beating as one

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

THE year 2014 comes to an end at the stroke of midnight. But it is just a point in the calendar year. Life is not marked by such man-made conveniences. Many happenings will carry on into the new year.

To describe 2014 as annus horribilis may well be an understatement. For Malaysian aviation, 2014 has been an unimaginably horrible year. The tragedies of MH370 and MH17 bring despair and ramifications for which no conclusion is yet in sight.

For the flood victims, more heart-wrenching tales will emerge even as rescue missions are in progress. At times like this when logistics and weather conditions pose severe obstacles, only hope, lingering though it may be, remains.

And now we have the Camerons landslide.

Our country seems to be facing challenges on many fronts. And it certainly did not help that while these challenges are real and require our combined efforts to overcome them, much time and many resources have been wasted tackling imaginary issues fanned by those with their own political, racial and religious agendas.

But look again. Look deep into the hearts and minds of the ordinary people who love this beloved country of ours. They are, thankfully, still the majority. It may be convenient to think they are only visible in times of crisis or when the nation celebrates its milestones. Which is why we often hear, in such times, remarks like “It takes a crisis to bring Malaysians together”.

But no. They are very much the heart of Malaysia. Every day in the hospitals, in the schools, in the towns, in the outskirts, Malaysians are united as one. A Malay doctor performs surgery on an Indian patient with blood supplied by a Chinese; an Iban teacher helps a Penan student in a rural school prepare for the UPSR; a Christian orders halal food from a Muslim caterer for his open house; a Hindu priest leads a procession with devotees, with Malay policemen managing traffic.

The Star Says.

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Reduce our disaster risks

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

TODAY is the last day of a truly agonising year for Malaysians, with two Malaysia Airlines tragedies and the worst flood in three decades.

Ironically, 2014 started out as a very dry year, with dam levels falling to critical levels and water rationing imposed in the Klang Valley within the first three months.

Now most of the east coast is deluged, 10 people have been killed and close to a quarter million others in eight states have been evacuated to flood relief centres.

Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang are the worst hit with people suffering untold miseries without power, running water and proper food.

Floodwaters have also cut off roads in the states, hampering delivery of relief supplies to evacuation centres.

With the East Coast Expressway the latest to be closed, the only remaining access appears to be from Karak and along the coastal road to Kuala Terengganu and Kota Baru.

The railway service has been equally crippled with bridges, lines and platforms under water.

With most schools serving as relief centres, the start of the 2015 school session has been deferred by a week to Jan 11 for Kedah, Kelantan, Terengganu and Johor, and Jan 12 for other states.

Ministers have been told to come back from their holidays abroad to help manage the unprecedented crisis while leave for senior civil servants has also been cancelled with immediate effect.

And the worst isn’t quite over yet.

The Meteorological Department has issued a “Red Stage” warning for heavier rain over Terengganu, Pahang and Johor over the next few days.

But floods are not new to Malaysia. They have always been the most severe natural disaster in the country, in terms of affected areas, population impacted and economic costs.


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‘Maintain harmony in this trying time’

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

YANG di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Hajah Haminah expressed their sympathy for the victims of the floods ravaging several states.

In a statement released by Istana Negara, Tuanku Abdul Halim urged Malaysians to pray for the disaster to end soon without doing more harm to lives and property.

“The Yang di-Pertuan Agong also expresses His Majesty’s heartfelt appreciation to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, as well as everyone involved in providing assistance to and rescuing flood victims in all affected places,” the statement said.

Tuanku Abdul Halim urged these efforts to be continued and for all involved to redouble their efforts to help flood victims.

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong also urged Malaysians to maintain harmony and goodwill, and not circulate false news that could undermine harmony and goodwill when the country was faced with such a situation.


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AirAsia QZ8501: Unlikely that plane exploded in mid-air, say experts

Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

JAKARTA: It is unlikely that Indonesia AirAsia Flight QZ8501 exploded in mid-air, air crash experts say, as the first pieces of debris were spotted and some bodies recovered.

Chances are that the plane hit the Java Sea intact and broke up upon impact before plunging to the ocean floor.

The wreckage of the Airbus 320-200 was found more than 48 hours after the ill-fated flight, which left Surabaya for Singapore on Sunday morning with 162 people on board, went missing.

Search teams reported seeing some bodies intact.

An air force plane reportedly spotted a shadow of what looked like a plane on the seabed.

As the operations move from search and locate, to search and recovery, it would take weeks before enough pieces of wreckage and human remains are recovered for the authorities and investigators to determine how and why the crash happened.

Critical to this is finding the plane’s black boxes, which record conversations in the cockpit and preserve data on the position and speed of the aircraft.

But looking at what is known so far, there are several possibilities on what could have happened.

Retired United States airline pilot John Cox, who runs his own consultancy, said: “I am now seeing doors and reports of a large section located on the sea floor which are indicators, but not conclusive evidence, that the plane was in one piece when it hit the ocean.

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Missing AirAsia flight: More than 40 bodies retrieved, says Indonesian navy

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

JAKARTA: An Indonesian warship recovered more than 40 bodies from the sea on Tuesday in the search for the AirAsia jet, a navy spokesman told AFP.

“Based on the navy radio, it has been reported that the warship Bung Tomo has retrieved 40 bodies and the number is growing. They are very busy now,” Mr Manahan Simorangkir said.

The crew of a Hercules rescue aircraft also located bodies close to the first body, and the debris, found in Karimata Strait near Air Hitam Bay.

Hercules A-1319 co-pilot, First-Lt Erwin Tri Prabowo, said he spotted as many as eight bodies within 2-3 nautical mile (5km) radius.

One body floating face down was in a white top and black pants, while several others in a row appeared to be holding hands, reported.

Earlier, Indonesia’s media outlets reported that Indonesian warship KRI Bung Tomo found six bodies, citing local broadcaster TV One.

It is trying to rescue other bodies being tossed by strong waves, -The Straits Times/ANN

The third sector in our economy

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

Malaysia must promote a more organised and systematic voluntary sector in order to achieve economic growth with income equality.

LAST month, Khazanah Research Institute published a report titled “The state of households”. The publication of this report is commendable and timely, as it provides an insight into the state of households in Malaysia.

The report contains details and facts about some of the pressing issues involving Malaysia’s households currently, covering the disparity and distribution of household incomes; household expenditure and the impact of rising food prices; housing affordability; household debt; subsidy reform and the use of cash transfers.

The report also examines aspects of the Malaysian workforce as well as the country’s trade and investment policies. At the end, a number of broad preliminary policy recommendations are outlined to tackle the Malaysian household issues. The full report can be obtained through the institute’s website.

Of significance, the report highlights the issue of household income inequality across the country, whereby it states: “Household income inequality is more than an inter-ethnic issue. There is inequality nationally and within each ethic group, there is a pronounced income divide between rural and urban areas, and between genders.”

Based on the report, there is an ethnic, urban-rural and gender divide of the three major ethnic groups in the country. Income disparities vary by ethnic group and there is also an intra-ethnic inequality in income distribution.

According to the report, Chinese households are on average the richest, whilst the bumiputra on the other hand, are the least well off.

Evidence of the widening income inequality can be seen whereby the average income of households headed by an urban Chinese male is the highest, while those headed by Indians and bumiputra females in the rural areas are the lowest.

However, the income gap between the ethnic groups is less than the urban-rural income gap. Apparently, this incidence of income inequality in the country still occurs, despite the economic growth and increasing corporate profits.

The benefits of these achievements were more pronounced in the rich and wealthy household segments of society.

In this regard, the report asserts: “We must put households at the centre of our economic policy. Driving economic growth is important. But so is ensuring the growth in the income of the majority of households – the bottom 74%; and not just growth in corporate profits and the incomes of the wealthy. We are heartened that the Prime Minister in his 2015 Federal Budget speech said that the ‘people economy’ is the ‘bedrock in prioritising the interests of the rakyat’.”


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Developing higher-order thinking

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

HIGHER-order thinking (HOT) has been a hot issue since the introduction of the school-based assessment.

Parents were assured that through the new assessment system students could be developed to think critically and creatively.

But the results of PT3 has proved otherwise.

One of the reasons for the poor performance, as most parents argued, was that students were not familiar with the new format of questions.

But the fact is that generally teachers were never ready to teach content knowledge along with HOT ever since these students were in Form One. Examples of HOT skills are, critical thinking and creative thinking. The two types of thinking skills sound quite familiar with many educators and even the laymen.

But to infuse thinking skills or any HOT skills into content instruction is not as simple as attending a course in critical thinking or teaching the courses.

Critical thinking can be taught in several ways. It can be taught in non-curricular context, that is without reference to any specific domain knowledge.

It can also be taught through specific domain knowledge by designing instructions so as to enhance thinking skills.

But there is another approach in teaching thinking where HOT, such as critical and creative thinking, is infused into content instructions.

One of the pedagogical approaches used is through TBL (Thinking-Based Learning), an idea initiated by Prof Robert Swarts.

TBL teaches not just the ability to know what HOT is all about, but also how those HOT skills can be infused into content knowledge.

In other words, teachers should be able to plan their lessons using subject matter knowledge to make thinking visible, both to the learners and the teachers themselves.

The learning outcomes would then be not only in terms of the students understanding of their content knowledge but also their ability to use this type of thinking skill in problem solving, visible both to the learners and the teachers.

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No Replacement School Days Over School Session Postponement – Muhyiddin

Tuesday, December 30th, 2014

DUNGUN, Dec 29 (Bernama) — The postponement of the start of the 2015 school session by a week due to the floods does not require schools to replace these school days, said Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

“There is no necessity to replace those days as the schooling period is sufficient. It is not a case of providing additional school holidays. We had to postpone the session due to a specific problem,” he said.

Muhyiddin, who is also the education minister, spoke at a news conference after visiting two flood relief centres, at Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Durian Mentangau and SK Kampung Nyior, here.

Terengganu Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Razif Abdul Rahman, state secretary Datuk Mazlan Ngah and Terengganu National Security Council acting secretary Roslina Ngah were also present at the news conference.

With the postponement, schools in Kedah, Kelantan, Terengganu and Johor will now reopen on Jan 11 instead of Jan 4 and those in the other states will reopen on Jan 12 instead of Jan 5.

Muhyiddin, who is the chairman of the National Disaster Management and Relief Committee, said 340 schools in seven states had been affected by the floods or were being used as relief centres.

“There are teachers stranded in their villages and cannot come to school. As such, we decided to postpone the start of the 2015 school session,” he said.

Muhyiddin also instructed the education ministry to distribute the RM100 schooling aid provided under the annual budget as early as next week, giving priority to flood victims.


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