Archive for April, 2015

A drive through Taman Medan

Saturday, April 25th, 2015

IF you didn’t follow the news over the last one week, you wouldn’t know that the first-floor shoplot in Taman Medan in Petaling Jaya was the centre of a controversy.At 4.38pm on Thursday, it was void of activity.

The corner-lot church is one of the two dozen shoplots on Jalan PJS 2B/3, where only four shops are open – a 24-hour self-service laundry, a snooker centre, a karaoke joint and a newly-opened gym.

On Sunday, about 50 people including Datuk Abdullah Abu Bakar, the elder brother of Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, staged a protest against the church after the congregation put up a cross on the building.

Gathering at about 10am while church service was going on, the protesters contended that the sight of the cross in a largely Muslim area challenged Islam and could influence younger minds.

They were later pacified by Abdullah, who spoke to the church pastor. The church then took down the cross.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi have said if the protest was seditious, the protesters would be subjected to the Sedition Act.

The shoplots, next to the New Pantai Expressway connecting Bangsar to Subang Jaya, were completed about two years ago. Known as Metro Square, the commercial lots look out of place amongst the dilapidated pigeonhole flats.

“Why are the shops vacant?” I asked Balan, a 60-something Taman Medan community mediator who did not want to be named.

“It is hidden. Not safe. There are gangsters. And there are drug addicts,” said Balan as he drove me around the notorious Taman Medan that saw racial clashes between Indians and Malays in 2001.

I called a real estate agent who told me the shops were vacant because of “high rental” and there was only one entrance to the commercial lots.

About 100m from the church, I met a tudung-wearing 18-year-old girl who lived in one of the pigeonhole flats. I asked her what she thought about the controversy.

“For my sister (24 years old and studying in a polytechnic), she’s not comfortable with the cross as it is next to a public place (self-service laundry). Now that it is no longer there, she is more comfortable,” said the teenager who studies in the nearby SMK Datuk Harun.


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The spirit of 1967 is still alive today

Saturday, April 25th, 2015

IN his autobiography, the late Lee Kuan Yew reflected on “Asean – Unpromising Start, Promising future”. The history of regional community building in South-East Asia dates back half a century. The region was then fraught with confrontation, internal insecurity and the threat of communist infiltration.

Nonetheless, spirits were high in proclaiming their will to “bind themselves together in friendship and cooperation and, through joint efforts and sacrifices, secure for their peoples and for posterity the blessings of peace, freedom and prosperity.”

This spirit is still alive today.

1967 was a pivotal year, when the Association of South-East Asian Nations (Asean) was formed. Even after the war fought in this region ended in 1945, battles and diplomacy for independence agonisingly continued. Internal strife against communism persisted and intensified.

The Asia-Africa Conference in Bandung, in 1955, calling for the swift end of colonial domination, was still halfway towards the independence of all. At last, by the mid-1960s, most states in South-East Asia began to stand on their own feet.

Newly-born nations needed time and efforts to create peaceful and co-operative interfaces among them.

Thailand brokered reconciliation among Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia over certain disputes.

The moment then arrived when the five nations, including Singapore, realised that, without regional co-operation, the future of the region would remain uncertain.

Tedious negotiations led to the signing of the Bangkok Declaration by the foreign ministers of the five nations.

Over the last half a century, Asean has skilfully managed what one calls “sports-shirt diplomacy” to strengthen solidarity, deepen co-operation and expand its wings. They overcame challenges in raging waves during decades in the bipolar Cold War era.

The end of the Cold War in the early 1990s offered them the alluring opportunity to realise the objective written down in its founding document, the Bangkok Declaration, to make it open for participation to all countries in the South-East Asian region subscribing to the aims, principles and purposes of Asean, now becoming 10.

Their hospitality spirit has treated outside rough powers well, and often even tamed them, politely ushering them one after another to become “dialogue partners”. Asean has exhibited brilliant and crafty diplomacy.

Half a century has passed. At the end of 2015, Asean members are set to celebrate the formation of one community. The market potential is remarkably large, as their aggregated population exceeds that of the European Union or of North American Free Trade Agreement.


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Walk for harmony in Penang

Saturday, April 25th, 2015

GEORGE TOWN: There was no fear of crosses, smoky incense, consecrated idols, temple bells or the azan call to prayer.

Instead, respect, mutual regard, and appreciation were palpable as advocates of moderation took part in a harmony walk along Jalan Masjid Kapitan Kling here on Saturday.

Known as Harmony Street, it is home to four ancient houses of worship, numerous Taoist ancestral halls and Indian shrines.

About 30 people led by Star Media Group managing director and chief executive officer Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai strolled into the grounds of St George’s Church, Goddess of Mercy (Kuan Yin) Temple, Kapitan Kling Mosque, and Sri Maha Mariamman Kovil. They even dropped by Lord Ganesha’s shrine and Han Jiang Ancestral Temple of Penang Teochew Association.

Those who came in the name of moderation included former Deputy Higher Education Minister and Global Movement of Moderates (GMM) chief executive officer Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, humanitarian Datuk Anwar Fazal, The Star Online editor and popular columnist Philip Golingai, regional news editor (north) K. Suthakar, scientist and educator Dr Lyana Khairuddin, community activist and “I Want to Touch a Dog” founder Syed Azmi Alhabshi and businessman and author Anas Zubedy.

They were accompanied by friends, family members, officers from the Department of National Unity and Integration and a bevy of The Star journalists, while tourist guide Teresa Pereira Capol gave a rich account of the history of the street.

“This is what Malaysia has always been: religious buildings lined up conveniently on one street for people of all faiths,” said Wong.


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Parents urged to send children to only registered tuition centres

Friday, April 24th, 2015

SERDANG: Parents should send their children to only registered tuition centres to ensure against unwanted incidents happening.

Education Director-General Datuk Seri Dr Khair Muhamad Yusof said safety guidelines had already been established for all registered private schools and tuition centres.

“The safety guidelines have already been prepared for all tuition operators to follow,” he said on Friday.

Dr Khair was commenting on the case at a tuition centre in Malacca where a 14-year-old boy was found to have had sex with an eight-year-old girl in different classes at the centre over three months.

In another case, an eight-year-old boy was reported to have fallen to his death while attending tuition classes at an apartment in Bandar Mahkota Cheras.

“We will investigate both matters and if it was caused by the centre’s negligence, we are not going to hesitate to take stern action based on the Private Education Act,” he said.

Dr Khair added that operators must be held fully responsible, as the cases had happened under their supervision at their premises.

“Their licenses will be revoked if it’s found that they have failed to adhere to the guidelines provided,” he said, adding that private colleges, schools and tuition centre operators were monitored by the Education Ministry constantly.


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Prices up 30% since GST introduced – senator.

Friday, April 24th, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR: The prices of many goods have inflated by 20 to 30 per cent since the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) on April 1.

Barisan Nasional (BN) Senator Datuk Chin Su Phin said if the prices did not come down in the next three months, the poor would suffer and this could potentially lead to social problems.

Chin, who is also Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) deputy president, said that during the debate on Supplementary Supply (2014) Bill 2015 at the Dewan Negara sitting here.

He urged the Ministry of Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism (KPDNKK) to monitor the increase in prices in restaurants and check if the premises were registered with GST.

“People are wondering why the restaurants are increasing their prices when basic goods such as meat, chicken and so on are not subjected to GST.”

Chin pointed out that a plate of cockles previously sold at RM3 has been increased to RM7.50, whereas the price of fish head curry has soared more than 100 per cent from RM35 to RM80.

“I recall Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Ahmad Maslan who said in last May that only 10 per cent of the goods would become more expensive after the implementation of GST, while prices for 48 per cent of the goods would remain unchanged and 42 per cent would be cheaper.

“He (Ahmad) said again this January that the government expected nearly 54 per cent of the goods would become cheaper.

“None of these predictions came true.”

According to a survey conducted by the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca), Chin said the prices of some goods were 20 to 30 per cent higher than the reference price of the government.

He said many vendors and hawkers have raised their prices by over six per cent due to higher costs.

“Previously, the government had thought that prices would drop by four per cent with the introduction of six per cent GST to replace the 10 per cent sales tax.

But the reality is very different,” Chin said.

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Poser over whereabouts of plastic bag money

Friday, April 24th, 2015

Kota Kinabalu: The Bring Your Own Bag (BYOB) campaign enters its fifth year this June but many have wondered what happens to the 20sen “penalty” put into the box every time a shopper opts for a plastic bag at supermarkets and retail outlets.

It seems the Sabah Environmental Protection Association (Sepa) has also been bothered with the same question, especially when they could not find any financial statement by the Environmental Action Centre (EAC) on the money collected over the past five years.

Sepa forged a smart partnership with the government through the State Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry to form EAC in 1997 with the aim of initiating a joint responsibility between the government and the people to carry out environmental activities that can contribute towards enhancing environmental quality.

Because of this unique collaboration, Sepa’s legal officer Margaret Chin said it is within Sepa’s rights to inquire about the financial state of EAC, since the EAC account is a Sepa Project Account and Sepa is accountable to the public for disbursements of public funds such as the collection of the 20sen in the BYOB campaign and funds obtained from donors.

“Unfortunately, when we asked about the money, we were told by the EAC finance officer that the money was with the auditors and because we trusted her, we did not pursue the matter.

“However, when we tried to check our accounts, it was like opening a Pandora’s box. For instance, there was RM450,000 taken out of the EAC account in 2010 but no accompanying authorised letter.

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ASEAN Committed To A Harmonised Higher Education System

Friday, April 24th, 2015

PUTRAJAYA, April 24 (Bernama) — With 6,500 higher educational institutions and 12 million students in 10 nations, ASEAN is committed towards improving quality in education to achieve a harmonised higher education system in the region, said Malaysia’s Second Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh.

He said higher education played a vital role in enhancing human resource development, fostering cultural understanding, generating knowledge and promoting networking, all of which had an impact on ASEAN’s ability to be competitive globally.

He said four areas that needed focus in order to achieve a harmonised ASEAN higher education system were student and staff mobility, credit transfers, quality assurance and the promotion of research clusters.

Therefore, he said that all ASEAN members were working closely to ensure the goals were achieved and that there would also be enhanced collaboration on human capital investment and the promotion of ASEAN within the fast changing global higher education landscape.

“With the continued support (of all ASEAN member countries), we will see a strong and united ASEAN community by end of this year and beyond,” he told Bernama here.

Idris said higher education was one of the core focuses in promoting the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community (ASCC) which focused on nurturing the human, cultural and natural resources for sustained development in a harmonious and people-oriented ASEAN.

“The primary goal of the ASCC is to create an ASEAN Community that is people-centred and socially responsible based on shared values. Education is an important contributor towards achieving this goal,” he said.

However, Idris conceded that the 10-member bloc would face challenges especially in agreeing on common standards within the higher education systems.

“This is because the process would take time and there is a need to take into account matters such as language, history, culture and established practices,” he said.

In a recent discussion with other ASEAN member countries at the ASEAN + 3 meeting, he said Malaysia had recommended the idea of finding commonalities in practices when developing standards and that initiative be undertaken in stages, taking into consideration the various level of higher education development in ASEAN.

To harmonise higher education systems in the region, Idris said a plan was set up in 2009 to create a systematic mechanism to support the integration of universities across Southeast Asia and the ultimate goal was to set up a Common Space of Higher Education in Southeast Asia.

by Linda Khoo Hui Li.


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SIDMA College Borneo Research Centre Conducted Research Workshop.

Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

SIDMA College Borneo Research Centre (BSC), a special research unit, established in March 2015 and placed under the management of Puan Azizah Khalid Merican, (CEO SIDMA College) conducted a research workshop for SIDMA lecturers and academic coordinators on 17 April 2015 at Lecture Hall West 1, as its premier activity.

BSC Supervisor, Dr. Muhammad Halib, a former researcher cum lecturer at University Technology Petronas (UTP), specializing in the development of rural community and currently also a Research Consultant at Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute (MARDI), conducted the workshop.

The core of the workshop was on developing BSC resources framework (funding, technologies, expertises, technicalities) with the intention of developing an effective delivery system to support intending and future BSC researchers in its related field that could be of impact and benefit to the people of Sabah and Sarawak.

Providing instructional scaffolding to researchers to generate research and producing graduating research students is an expensive and labour intensive programme for a private college such as SIDMA College and more so for BSC to undertake. Thus the workshop also highlighted some of its limitations or shortcomings that may hinder effective performance of BSC.  Suggestions on ways to overcome its potential shortcomings as well as BSC’s readiness to conduct and document researches were also dealt with in great length. Crucial points were noted for further and more brainstorming sessions in the very near future.

Prof Dr. Morni Hj Kambrie, SIDMA Chairman, took the opportunity to invite existing researchers in Sabah and Sarawak to come forward, to centralize their ideologies, resources and expertise, thus providing a pool of literatures, expertises, technologies as well as other support systems to assist future researchers of various disciplines relating to Borneo such as cultures, arts, socio-economy, economics, oil and gas, and more, to move forward.

BSC was also established with the intention to assist staff and students of SIDMA College, including UNITAR International University Sabah and Sarawak students, to sharpen, widen, and deepen their knowledge, as well as to deliver the necessary support including designing, implementing, and sharing findings from one own research findings.

Dr. Morni hoped that BSC can assist researchers to conduct researches relevant to the needs of Sabah and Sarawak communities in which they are working, and avoid conducting researches which are solely in line with their personal interest. He hoped that findings of such academic exercises could assist the governments of both the states to implement effective developmental projects that could bring benefit to the people of Sabah and Sarawak.

Potential researchers who would like to find out more about what to do or would like to discuss further about the role of BSC, please contact Mr. Terence Stephen at 088-732 000 or 088-732 020.

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Consumers seek explanation on surge in power bills.

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

LABUAN: Consumers here are wondering why their electricity bills have suddenly gone up this month compared to previous months.

A consumer here, Rahfie Khan, yesterday said he was wondering why his electricity bill this month showed he had to pay RM340 compared to only RM277 last month with the same household consumption.

“I contacted Sabah Electricity Sdn Bhd (SESB) through their hotline on Monday to refer the matter to them, and a spokesperson for SESB told me that the person who was responsible to key in the data might have been confused between some items in the bill, whether they are taxed under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) or not, and whether Labuan is subjected to the GST or not.

“Through our conversation, the spokesperson was shocked and admitted that there was confusion in their data. I also wonder why we as consumers have to pay for the Renewable Energy Fund as shown in the bill. It is like we are paying for the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) or service charge,” he said to The Borneo Post.

When asked whether there was some additional power consumption in his household this month, he replied that his neighbours also experienced a surge in their electricity bills, including his neighbours who did not use air-conditioners in their homes.

He added that after studying and comparing his electricity bill this month with that of last month’s bill, he noticed that in the previous month, the bill showed that for the first 100 units, the rate was at 0.175 and the second 100 units, the rate was then calculated at 0.185.
by Adrian Nandu
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Of ethics and entrepreneurship

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

ISLAM recognises entrepreneurship not only as a means to earn a livelihood, but also as a noble vocation that can elevate the rank of a Muslim, equivalent to those righteous servants of Allah.

This is based on the saying of the Prophet: “The truthful, honest merchant is with the prophets and the truthful ones and the martyrs.”

We can equate the word “merchant” with “entrepreneur” in the present context, whilst the words “truthful” and “honest” are comprised in what we today call ethics, or in the business context, business ethics.

According to the book Business, Government, and Society by Steiner and Steiner, ethics is the study of what is good and evil, right and wrong, and just and unjust.

As such, business ethics is the study of good and evil, right and wrong, and just and unjust actions in business.

In addition, according to the book, ethical traditions that apply to business support truth telling, honesty, protection of life, respect for rights, fairness and obedience to law.

Entrepreneurship is not about short-term moneymaking.

One should not envisage that an entrepreneur is only doing business for the purpose of acquiring lots of money in the short-term, and using whatever means, ethical or unethical.

Many researchers have provided evidence of entrepreneurs who have achieved long-term success in building their businesses by embracing ethics as the integral part of their businesses.

This may be contrary to the perception of many people that being ethical will only hinder business success, especially when facing intense competition in today’s challenging environment.


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