Archive for March, 2015

UNITAR Special Certificate Award Ceremony for its Sabah Master of Education Graduates

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

UNITAR International University Petaling Jaya and UNITAR Sabah Regional Centre joined forces to organise a Special Certificate Award Ceremony at Grand Ballroom, Hotel Juta, Keningau on 28 March 2015, specially for UNITAR Keningau Study Centre’s first batch of 61 Master of Education (Educational Leadership and Management) graduates who attended UNITAR 2nd Convocation held at PICC Plenary, Putrajaya on 1st and 2nd November 2014.

The event, which was attended by Dr. Sakina Sofia Baharum (Vice Chancellor), Assoc. Prof Dr. Hajjah Zaida Mustafa, Dean, Faculty of Education and Communications; Prof Dr. Morni Hj Kambrie (Chairman SIDMA College, UNITAR Sabah), Encik Masly Wahip (District Education Officer, Keningau), Puan Azlina Ngatimin (Director, Corporate Relations and Business Development), Managers, Heads of Departments, lecturers from UNITAR Sabah, as well as teachers from the district of Keningau and its surrounding areas; was officiated by the Honourable Datuk Haji Sairin Bin Haji Karno, Assistant Agriculture and Food Industry Minister.

Hon. Datuk Sairin in his officiating address congratulated these teachers for their initiatives to up-grade their academic qualifications by enrolling themselves to undergo their Master in Education degree in UNITAR International University. Datuk Sairin also congratulated UNITAR for exerting serious efforts to reach out to teachers from the rural settings of Sabah to receive quality professional and academic development through its dual study mode programme – the conventional face-to-face lectures and the virtual learning through E-book and UNIEC.

During the event, Honourable Datuk Sairin, was given the honour to present special awards to the accomplished graduates. The awards presentation was witnessed by Dr. Sakina, Encik Masly, Dr. Morni, and the Keningau teachers.

UNITAR conducted the event as a Home Celebrationto congratulate UNITAR Sabah’s Master of Education graduates, and to provide the necessary and continuous professional development to these outstanding individuals.

Encik Masly Wahip was later given the honour to officiate a Research Colloquium - Perkongsian Kemahiran Penyelidikan Adad ke 21entitled “Mudahnya Penyelidikan” presented byAssoc. Prof Dr. Hajjah Zaida Mustafa, Dean, Faculty of Education and Communications; and Puan Ku Faridah Ku Ibrahim, Faculty Early Childhood Studies of UNITAR International University

Encik Masly in his speech too conveyed special thanks to UNITAR International University for making efforts to encourage and assist teachers from the interior settings of Sabah to up-grade their professionalism and academic qualifications.

Dr. Zaida through her made-easy research paper, a step-by-step guide to academic writing, indicated a sequential approach to encourage teachers in writing their research papers: from selecting a topic, doing the research, organizing the materials, and producing the finished document. It thus serves as a catalyst for teachers particularly from the rural settings of Sabah to develop the love and craze for continuous learning and up-grading their professionalism as well as their academic achievement; willing to explore the vast and very diversified teaching and learning models, approaches, methodologies, and techniques to greater heights, thus benefiting their students and teacher professionalism.

Meanwhile, Puan Ku Faridah Ku Ibrahim introduced the Mendeley apps, a desktop and web programme to assist researchers to simplify reference management, sharing research papers, discovering research data as well collaborating on-line.  Mendeley apps is very useful for researchers, particularly those doing their PhD studies as the programme enable them to know how ideas and academic theories evolve and cross-pollinate each other, as well as discover new literature in one field of study.

During the event, three candidates who are currently undergoing their PhD studies with UNITAR International University were given the honour to present their research proposals. They are Encik Amjah Yunus (IPGM Keningau), Puan Mary S. Samy (PPD Keningau), and Encik Abdul Gani Ajim (SMK Keningau).

Teachers who possess a Master of Education (Educational Leadership and Management) from UNITAR can be promoted  as Headmasters, Principals, Senior Educational Officers, lecturers, administers in any educational institutions; both in the public and private sectors.

Currently, UNITAR Sabah Regional Centre, Jalan Bundusan, Kota Kinabalu and Keningau Study Centres offer the following Masters programme:

  1. Master of Business Administration (MBA)
  2. Master of Education (Educational Leadership and Management)
  3. Master of Education (Early Childhood Education)

All potential candidates are invited to make inquiries at SIDMA College, UNITAR Sabah, Jalan Bundusan, Kota Kinabalu at 088-732 000 or 088-732 020 or click on UNITAR Sabah Website for more information or online registration.

Candidates who possess a Bachelor degree or its equivalent from any recognized Malaysian Institution of Higher Learning and a minimum of one year working experience in a related field can apply. Candidates with only STPM, matriculation or diploma certifications, not less than 35 years of age, and with at least 5 years of working experience in their related field can also apply through “Open Entry.”

Financial assistance can be obtained through KWSP and My Master. Terms and conditions applied.

Potential candidates who are interested to pursue their PhD degrees with UNITAR International University, please liaise with Madam Puteri Shaharulbariah Mohamed, Senior Executive, Registrar’s Office. Tel: 03-7627 7347 or email:

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Lee Kuan Yew and the Asian model

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

An important legacy of Lee Kuan Yew was the formulation of one of the Asian models that have been driving successful Asian economies forward.

HUNDREDS of obituaries and articles have been written about Lee Kuan Yew, who was laid to rest last weekend.

The articles were overwhelmingly in tribute of the vision, leadership qualities and achievements of Singapore’s founding father, who left his imprint on so many aspects of the island state’s system and way of life.

The tributes were mixed with criticisms of the political authoritarianism that was mixed with the spectacular economic growth.

There will be many PhDs written, which would make judgments on his side of the story and that of the critics.

As for Lee’s own assessment, he summed it up thus: “What did I achieve? A successful Singapore. What did I give up? My life.”

On the TV news of LKY’s passing, I was impressed by an interview with a young man who runs an Internet views service.

He said this was the time to pay tribute to Lee and his achievements, after which would come a period of collective reflection on what happened in the past five decades and how Singapore should go forward.

The times have changed. Singapore too is changing and will doubtless change even more.

One of LKY’s major achievements was to be a pioneer of combining the roles of the state and the market in a way that succeeded in generating and sustaining high economic growth, and with widespread social benefits.

He did it in a way that was suitable, or that was adapted, to the situation of a nation with a small population, no natural resources and no significant market.

He opted for the model of being a “global city”, that used the world as a source of capital, technology and markets, with foreign companies providing the engine, the world’s population providing the market, and Singapore providing its geographical location and skills.

Singapore also diversified from trade to oil refinery and industry and to being also a global financial centre.

It is the combining of state and market that made it part of the East Asian models of development.


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Sad to close but happy to go, says shop owner

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

BUKIT MERTAJAM: Traditional medicine shop owner Yew Chian Hooi claims he has no choice but to close his business because he cannot meet the requirements for GST implementation.

Kedai Ubat Ban Swee Choon at Jalan Danby here will no longer be open for business from today.

Yew, 75, has already sold most of his stock, and whatever remains will be returned to suppliers.

“I am unclear about the items in my shop that should be taxed under GST because I don’t know how to translate the traditional names of the Chinese herbs and medications into Bahasa Malaysia,” said Yew, explaining his decision to call it a day.

He said the business was started by his late father in 1941.

The business survived the Japanese Occupation, but not GST,” he quipped.

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Buying sprees to avoid tax

Tuesday, March 31st, 2015

PETALING JAYA: The Goods and Services Tax (GST) which will kick in at midnight has sent many consu­mers on buying sprees, that have intensified over the past few days, to avoid the new tax.

Despite being constantly reminded that the GST will not be a burden, a deluge of people converged on shopping centres, digital malls and even grocery chains over the weekend.

Several smartphone retailers in George Town, Penang, said they had run out of stock of the popular models because people were snapping these up to avoid paying GST on them.

The retailers said they were taking bookings now – if a customer was willing to make a down payment for a device before April 1, he would pay the current price (no GST) when the stock come in later.

At the Digital Mall here, a retailer said there were so many people shopping for phones and other devices on the weekend that the mall stayed open till midnight. Normal business hours are 10am to 10pm.

Even pharmacists reported a spike in the number of customers. The people were stocking up on health supplements and medicines, especially those with long-term illnesses.

Several supermarkets, however, were dreading long queues and expected angry customers who may be confused over the new tax tomorrow.

One operator in Johor Baru has tried to prepare its customers by putting up before-GST and after-GST price tags during the past few months, as well as handing out pamphlets on the matter.

But to be safe, its security guards have been told to be on the look out for enraged customers.

Yesterday, trolleys were in short supply at several supermarkets because of the crowd.

One shopper said the people were queuing up at the trolley-return station.

Some restaurant owners were also just as worried about having to deal with angry customers who might refuse to pay the bill.

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Ministry sets out to boost quality of national education

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR: The Education Ministry has given its assurance that it will continue to boost national education in terms of quality and academic achievement at all levels.

Second Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh said this was important and in line with improvements in the positions of local universities at international level since 2012.

“This can be seen via the positions of local universities such as Universiti Malaya, which is now at 151st position in the world, compared with 167th previously.

“Eleven other faculties are also recognised as among the best 100 in the world,” he said after a ceremony to hand over the 2014 Tunku Medal Award at the Tunku Abdul Rahman Foundation here yesterday.

According to Idris, to boost quality and achievement, the International Student Evaluation programme, held every three years, had been implemented, and psychometric test conducted at schools level to boost the academic quality of students.

Several students received awards during the ceremony.

The gold medal was awarded to Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) student Ana Masara Ahmad Mokhtar, 24, while the silver went to Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia’s Muhammad Iqmal Hisham Kamaruddin, 24.

The bronze medal went to ­another UPM student, M. Sugentiran, 27, and Universiti Tun Hussein Onn’s Wong Chee Fei, 25.

The awards which were introduced in 1979 were offered to excellent bachelor graduates with first class honours.

All recipients were selected graduates of local public and private higher institutions of learning who were active in academic, co-curriculum and leadership.


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To gap or not to gap

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

The question of taking a gap year is loaded as it is. But, don’t forget, you also have to worry about financing your college education.

Our reporter, ANN-MARIE KHOR, posed as a prospective college student at several private colleges and universities in the Klang Valley to find out if taking a gap year affects your chances at getting a scholarship.

An Asia Pacific University Technology & Innovation student counsellor, who declined to be named, said that their merit scholarships were only for “students who had completed their SPM or STPM examinations in the previous year.”

A KDU University College student advisor, who also declined to be named, said that the gap years are “unusual, but the college does not discriminate against those who take time off.”

“As long as the student meets the academic requirements, we will most certainly consider them, on a case-by-case basis, for one of our scholarships.”

At INTI International University, an education counsellor, who wanted to be known as Lee, said the university “does not have any gap year policy”. When asked if students who took time off from their studies stood a chance at getting a scholarship, Lee said: “We go on a case-by-case basis. Students can talk to us and if they are deserving, they can write an appeal letter to the scholarships department.”

Sunway University admissions and counselling officer Adrian said that students have up to two years after their results to apply for scholarships, which “is clearly written in the terms and conditions.”

“Taking a gap year doesn’t affect your chances of getting a scholarship,” he said. He also advised prospective students to check out the requirements for each scholarship, as they vary.

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Mourning a great leader

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

Spontaneous and emotional outpouring of grief by Singaporeans is indeed a testament to Lee Kuan Yew’s extraordinary achievement in creating a united nation out of a divided, polyglot, multi-racial and multi-religious population.

THE fact that today our Yang di-Pertuan Agong will represent Malaysia at Lee Kuan Yew’s funeral – an epochal event in the history of Singapore – speaks volumes of the island’s founding father as the greatest statesman in South-East Asia.

In fact, President Richard Nixon held him up as a leader of similar stature as Winston Churchill. Most importantly, Lee was also instrumental in the formation of Malaysia and hence he and a generation of Singaporeans were once, albeit briefly, Malaysians between 1963 and 1965.

Born on Sept 16, 1923, Lee read law at Cambridge University and obtained a starred double first and started practising as a lawyer in 1950 for almost a decade. As a legal assistant, he took up cases for trade unions, often on a pro bono basis. This undoubtedly helped him later to generate mass support for him when he became prime minister in 1959.

Almost half a million Singaporeans have already turned up at Parliament House and the 18 community tribute sites to pay their last respects to the nonagenarian. Thousands more did not mind queuing for up to 10 hours the night before in order to reach the Parliament House where the body is lying in state.

This spontaneous and emotional outpouring of grief by Singaporeans is indeed a testament to Lee’s extraordinary achievement in creating a united nation out of a divided, polyglot, multi-racial and multi-religious population. It is ironic that someone who had believed in Machiavelli, making him the most feared person in Singapore, is now someone who is most loved by his people. It is understandable that Singaporeans’ biggest regret is that their founding father would not be there on Aug 9 for their 50th national day celebrations.

Lee was indeed a great leader in every sense of the word. He was humble enough to say sorry if he was wrong and if it was in the best interest of his county to do so. Hence, he had apologised to Malaysia a few times for some of his acerbic comments.

He was also a first-class diplomat whose advice was often sought by leaders of superpowers even though he was just the head of “a little red dot” on the world map.

In one particular incident, two Indonesian marines were executed in 1968 for the MacDonald House bombing which killed three people, despite a plea for clemency from President Mohammad Suharto. Suharto vowed to teach Lee a lesson, and the Singapore embassy was almost burnt down. But Lee pulled off a diplomatic coup during his visit to Indonesia in 1973 when he took time off to visit the graves of the two marines. With that, bilateral relations between the two countries improved.

Today, President Joko Widodo is also at the funeral. Former Indonesian presidents Susilo Bambang Yudoyhono and Megawati Sukarnoputri (President Sokarno’s daughter) and two daughters of Suharto had also paid their respects to Lee.


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Educate young on what Asean is, says Dr Chandra

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

PETALING JAYA: Efforts to make the Asean community a success must be carried out by educating the younger generation on what Asean is all about, says International Movement for a Just World (Just) president Dr Chandra Muzaffar.

He said it is important for Asean to become a people-oriented organisation and this presents a challenge to the Asean leadership.

“Very often, these discussions translate into many official meetings, and doing only that would be state-centric.

“If it were to be people-centric, that would mean giving an opportunity to the younger generation to know what it is like to be a part of Asean and to learn about others.

“They need to look at how the younger generation can commit to Asean and work on highlighting its relevance to even schoolchildren,” he said at the “Asean: Enhancing the ties that bind” workshop here yesterday.

It was held in conjunction with Asean’s 48th anniversary.

He said the other challenges for Asean included strengthening inter-religious peace and harmony, especially between Buddhists and Muslims, who constitute 82% of Asean’s total population.

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G25: Hudud law may not be good for multi-racial Malaysia

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR: Countries which have implemented hudud are either failed or failing states and Malaysia should learn from this, warned former Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Mohd Sheriff Mohd Kassim.

Mohd Sheriff, a member of the G25 group of prominent Malays, said those insisting on hudud implementation should consider its impact on multi-racial Malaysia.

So far, he said, Malaysia had enjoyed peace and stability due to the rule of law.

He added that the G25 was concerned with the administration of Islam and how religious authorities were exercising powers in contravention of the Federal Constitution.

“Several states have acted far beyond their jurisdiction in a manner which has caused friction with other races and unnecessary tension harmful to national security.”

Allowing this to continue, said Mohd Sheriff, would lead to serious implications, not only for Muslims but for other races.

“If these contraventions continue, they can cause a lot of damage to the country’s political and social stability,” he said at the forum.

The group, said Mohd Sheriff, had decided to issue an open letter to the public in December to raise public awareness about religious fatwa and injustices against women, who were often the target.

In the letter published in The Star on Dec 8, the group, comprising mostly former top civil servants, ambassadors, academicians and civil rights activists, had expressed deep dismay over the continuing unresolved disputes on the position and application of Islamic laws in the country.

Mohd Sheriff said there was also a lack of awareness among top policymakers on the legal jurisdiction and the limit of powers of religious authorities.

“The public should be allowed to debate the ways Islam is used as a source of public law,” he said, adding that Malaysians should be prepared to talk more openly on issues regarding race, religion and human rights.


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At diverse crossroads

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

Malaysia needs to look for a common ground if it is to improve its race relations.

WHEN Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said there was a “Chinese tsunami” in the last general election, some were offended and hurt for different reasons.

Some felt it was inappropriate and unhealthy in multiracial Malaysia to single out and pick on the Chinese; while those on the other side lashed out with “Apa Lagi Cina Mahu” (What More Do The Chinese Want) meaning they felt the Chinese were ungrateful not to vote for Barisan Nasional.

Voter turnout was a whopping 84.8%. Although Barisan won 133 seats in parliament compared to Pakatan Rakyat’s 89 which allowed it easily to form the federal government, when it came popular vote, Barisan secured only 48% compared to Pakatan’s 52%.

Crunching these figures, Centre for Strategic Engagement (CENSE) director Rita Sim points out that 50.21% of the popular votes for Pakatan came from the Chinese and only 36.37% of the Malays voted for them.

On the Barisan side, she says 78.51% of their popular votes came from the Malays, and only 12.63% from the Chinese.

“If you look at this very carefully today, you will understand why Malaysian poli­tics has become so divisive and reached the level it is at today,” she said in her talk on Evolving Cultural Assumption and the Language of Politics.

“The Barisan side would want to try and win over the Chinese votes in the next general election but they will have to protect and preserve their Malay votes to make sure that this does not go over to Pakatan. They want to pull in more Malay votes if possible, because there is no guarantee the Chinese votes would come back.

“On the other side, it is the opposite. You have Pakatan trying to get the Malay votes. Pakatan’s votes came mostly from the Chinese and only 36% of their popular vote were from the Malays.

“PAS is saying Malay votes come in because of their party,” she says.

So to win more Malay support, PAS is going all out in pushing for the hudud law in Kelantan. But this is at the cost of Pakatan losing Chinese votes.

With the pull on opposite ends, Pakatan’s loose coaliton of DAP, PKR and PAS seem to be unravelling and coming apart.

Sim believes the “huge contestation” to win votes is one of the reasons politics has become so divisive in Malaysia.

“It is very interesting but hopefully we all won’t suffer in this great contestation,” she says.

In her talk, Sim also discusses the culture and concerns of the Chinese community.

She points out that by virtue of being a Malaysian Chinese, this already means that person belongs to a significant minority which comes up to 24.2% (seven million) of the country’s population.

The Malaysian Chinese, she stresses, are not a homogeneous group.

Some are Chinese-speaking and educated in Chinese schools making them Chinese literate; while others are “bananas” (yellow on the outside but white inside) who think, speak, read and write in English and are not Chinese literate; and then there is a third group that overlaps the two and they are trilingual and growing bigger.

One notable change, Sim says, is that in the past, about 95% who went to the Chinese schools here were ethnic Chinese, but these days Malays and Indian children make up 15% of the enrolment in Chinese schools.


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