Archive for November, 2015

Auditor-General’s Report: RM6mil of flood mitigation equipment unusable

Monday, November 23rd, 2015

PETALING JAYA: More than RM6mil worth of flood mitigation equipment allocated under the Tenth Malaysia Plan could not be used due to various technical problems, the Auditor-General’s Report has revealed.

According to the audit, there were project components or works under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment’s Flood Mitigation Programme (FMP) that did not comply with specifications or were of low quality.

This equipment was a supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) system worth RM1.44mil for Phase 2 of the Sibu FMP that could not be used due to an antenna installation problem.

The Phase 1 of the Kelantan River FMP also faced the same problem, as its SCADA system worth RM4.85mil could not be used due to technical problems.

As for package 2B of the Muda River (Hulu) FMP and Package 2 of the Muda (Hilir) FMP, the report said only seven units were occupied, while four units were used as an operations office and store or rest area while another three units were not used.

“Certain components of the FMP were also not well maintained,” the Auditor-General said in the third series of the Auditor-General’s Report 2014, which was released in Dewan Rakyat on Monday.

However, the report also lauded the programme as it had managed to reduce the risk of loss of life and property damage due to flooding.

The Report however noted that some states, particularly East Coast states such as Kelantan and Terengganu were not prioritized when the FMP was implemented.

It recommended that the Ministry and the Department of Irrigation and Drainage Malaysia (DID) to monitor FMP effectively as well as supervise work progress of contractors.


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Star Foundation gives RM50,000 to special needs kids

Saturday, November 21st, 2015

GEORGE TOWN: An organisation which provides early intervention programmes for children with learning difficulties got a RM50,000 boost from the Star Foundation, a charitable arm of Star Media Group.

The BOLD Association for Children with Special Needs, Penang will be using part of the money for an upcoming holiday programme for the children under its care and put the balance in its reserve funds, said its president Datuk Dr Sharom Ahmat.

“It is important for a non-governmental organisation like us to build our reserves to be better prepared,” he said after receiving a mock cheque for RM50,000 from The Star regional operations (North) acting general manager Simone Liong at the BOLD centre in Cangkat Minden Jalan 5 last week.

Dr Sharom said BOLD needed at least RM400,000 a year to operate its two centres in Penang.

“We get an allocation of between RM50,000 and RM60,000 a year from the state,” he added.

He said BOLD only charged RM5 per hour for its early intervention programme compared to the commercial rate of RM80 per hour.

“We are able to handle about 400 children a year, from toddlers to children aged five or six years. Our main objective is to make sure that every child goes into mainstream education and is not segregated to be different,” Dr Sharom said.

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Obama visits facility for underprivileged children in KL

Saturday, November 21st, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR: The children in the classroom at the Dignity for Children Foundation may not have realised that one of the planet’s most powerful men were in the same room with them.

“Hello everyone. How are you doing today?” United States President Barack Obama greeted the children aged between seven and nine as he entered the room at 11.10am on Saturday.

Ditching protocol, the father of two stooped to talk to the children at the facility, a charity-based educational institution for refugee and urban poor children in Sentul here.

He interacted with the children, some of them from Myanmar, who were busy working on their art and science projects, asking them about their favourite subjects and ambitions as he offered words of encouragement.

Obama flew into Malaysia on Friday to attend the thrid Asean-US Summit as well as the 10th East Asia Summit in conjunction with the 27th Asean Summit which was opened today by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

The Dignity for Children Foundation was set up more than 15 years ago by Rev Elisha Satvinder and his wife Petrina after they found many underprivileged families living in the Sentul area.

The foundation aims to empower children from such families to break the cycle of poverty through quality education, positively transforming their lives and the lives of the community around them.

Today, the Dignity for Children Foundation is a learning centre for over 1,000 vulnerable children aged two to 17, and provides quality education and care in a secure environment.

Approached by reporters, Elisha said he was humbled by Obama’s visit and shared that the president had praised him for the effort taken to educate and empower underprivileged children.

“The president said he was proud of what we’re doing here. He also asked about the challenges we face. It was a very positive, encouraging conversation,” he said of Obama’s visit which lasted over an hour.


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Cancer makes patients poor

Saturday, November 21st, 2015

PETALING JAYA: With over three-quarters of South-East Asian patients either dead or financially poorer one year after being diagnosed with cancer, getting the big C is debilitating in more ways than one.

The results of “The Asean Costs in Oncology Study (Action)” showed that 29% of patients were dead within one year of being diagnosed with cancer while 48% were experiencing financial catastrophe.

“That’s a devastating statistic,” said lead investigator Prof Dr Mark Woodward from the George Institute of Global Health in Australia.

This is exacerbated by the fact that new cancer cases in the region are expected to increase by 70% to 1.3 million within the next 15 years.

Among the factors associated with death or financial catastrophe were being aged over 65 years, low income and education levels, lack of health insurance and having an advanced stage of cancer during diagnosis.

According to Prof Woodward, financial catastrophe in this study was defined as having to spend 30% or more of household income on cancer treatment.

In addition, 44% of patients who were still alive after a year and who originally had no economic hardship before being diagnosed with cancer, were experiencing economic hardship at the end of the study.

Economic hardship is defined as being unable to pay one or more household bills.

According to the principal investigator for Action in Malaysia, Assoc Prof Dr Nirmala Bhoo-Pathy, this resulted in 46% of the Malaysian participants using up their personal savings, 22% being unable to pay their rent or mortgage, and 19% having to discontinue their cancer treatment altogether.


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Sarawak to allow official state correspondence in English

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

KUCHING: English can now be used in official correspondence in state administration matters in addition to Bahasa Malaysia, says Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem.

At the Borneo Convention Centre Kuching on Wednesday, Adenan said that official correspondence between government departments could now be made in both languages.

Adenan pointed out that not being fluent in English has significantly hindered the prospects of many graduates in the country.

“I have read in the newspapers that more than 2,000 doctors in Malaysia who had completed their studies gave up their medical careers because of a poor command of English,” he said, adding that this was “very sad”.

He said he found it equally sad that there were 45,000 graduates who were having trouble finding employment because they were not able to speak or write English adequately.

He said it was only logical to promote the use of English despite the opposition to such a stance.

“My strong stand on English has irritated some of the so-called nationalists, who accused me of being anti-nationalistic and anti-patriotic.

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Severed head found near Jolo govt office

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

PETALING JAYA: A severed head, believed to be that of hostage Bernard Then, has been found near a municipal council building on Jolo island.

Jolo police chief Major Junpikar Sitin told The Star that a street sweeper had found a gunny sack with the head inside, along with the label “Bernard Then Ted Fen”.

It was discovered on Marina Street at the Barangay Wall City at about 8.30pm on Tuesday.

Sitin said police cordoned the area off to look for evidence and took the head away two hours later.

“We have turned it over to the military task force for DNA tests,” he said, adding that Then’s death could not be confirmed until the tests were completed.

The body was reportedly buried not far from Barangay Tanan in Indanan, where the 39-year-old Sarawakian engineer was mostly held during six months of captivity.

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Bags, uniforms for poor students

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

KUCHING: Three hundred underprivileged students from Satok area primary schools will start the new school term with new school items contributed by United Traditional Bumiputera Party Satok Branch, the Satok Community Sports Club and iM Sarawak.

The students, aged seven to 11 from six schools, were chosen through the Supplementary Food Programme in each school. The programme aims to help the students with families earning below RM600.

The number of recipients for the respective schools are 60 students from SK Merpati Jepang, 50 students from SK Rakyat, 130 studetns from SK Combined, 44 students from SJK Chung Hua No 4 and 10 students each from SK St Joseph and SK St Teresa. The students received a set of uniform, school bags and shoes.

State Tourism Minister and Satok people’s representative Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg attended the ceremony at SK Combined to present the contribution to the students.

“This contribution in the form of bags and uniforms can somewhat lighten the load of the student’s parents, in preparation for the new school term next year,” he said in his speech.

According the SK Combined principal Saftuyah Adeng, the students who received the aid in her school were squatting around the area and living in poor conditions.

She hoped that the contribution to the students would be able to boost their emotional well-being and motivate them to study.

Apart from the food programme, the school also contacts parents and provide education to them on how to manage their existing resources through the Poor Students’ Trust Fund.

Meanwhile, SK Combined showed an increase in performance in the UPSR results with one 5As and two 4As.


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Sarawak’s best UPSR results since 2003

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

KUCHING: Sarawak has recorded its best UPSR results in 13 years with a State Average Grade (GPN) of 2.48 this year.

State education director Rakayah Madon said this was a significant improvement compared with 2.52 last year.

A lower GPN score indicates better performance.

“This is the best performance since 2003 and is in line with our theme of uplifting education in Sarawak,” she said when announcing the results at the Education Department here yesterday.

Rakayah said 1,998 students scored straight As this year, comprising 1,530 with 5As from national schools and 468 with 7As from Chinese national-type schools.

SK Agama Datuk Haji Abdul Kadir Hassan in Kuching had the most straight A students with 58, followed by SK St Teresa, Kuching (39), SK St Anne, Sarikei (37) and SK Green Road, Kuching (34).

Altogether 17 schools in the state had 20 or more straight A scorers while 124 schools recorded 100% passes.

Rakayah also said rural and remote schools in the state showed encouraging results as measured by the School Average Grade (GPS), with 20 recording a score of 1.5 and below.

“The schools with excellent performance include SK Bakerkong, Daro (GPS 1.0), SK Sungai Kelabit, Miri (GPS 1.0), SK Taba Sait, Padawan (GPS 1.16), SK Sungai Setulan, Bintulu (GPS 1.2), SK Sungai Sebatu, Baram (GPS 1.25), SK Kampung Kuala Sibuti, Subis (GPS 1.3) and SK Nanga Nansang, Song (GPS 1.3).

“Three schools in the interior with excellent GPS scores are SK Sungai Menuan, Kapit (1.33), SK Tan Sri Datuk Temenggong Jugah, Song (1.4) and SK Ulu Engkari, Lubok Antu (1.44),” she said.

Pantai Damai assemblyman Dr Abdul Rahman Junaidi presented plaques to the headmasters of the high-performing schools. He also handed over results slips to top students from various schools in Kuching and Samarahan at the department’s auditorium.

SK Bakerkong headmaster Muda Pata said the sole UPSR candidate from his school, Wat Gabriel Joannes, scored straight As.

“It’s a small school located about 80km away from Sibu. We only have a total of 19 students this year.

“Next year we will have three students in Year Six and I hope the school can keep up its achievement in UPSR,” he said, adding that success would not have been possible without cooperation among teachers and support from parents.


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More straight A scorers in Sabah UPSR results

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

Kota Kinabalu: A total of 1,612 pupils scored straight As in their Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR), bettering Sabah’s performance last year where only 1, 231 pupils achieved this result.

State Education Director Datuk Jame Alip said rural schools in Sabah have also shown a drastic increase in pupils obtaining straight As in the exam.

Rural schools in Ranau and Kota Belud also did well despite being affected by the June 5 earthquake. “We sent counsellors to give talks at the affected school. We also offered them psychological assistance.

“I am very proud of all the education staff in Sabah as this year’s UPSR has shown an overall improvement of 2.67 per cent compared to last year,” he said when announcing the UPSR 2015 results at Wisma Pendidikan, Tuesday.

The UPSR Average National Grade (GPN) improved by 0.09, from 2.71 per cent last year to 2.62 per cent this year, he said.

A total of 42,728 Year Six pupils at National Schools and National Chinese-Type Schools sat for their UPSR examination from Sept 8-10 this year compared to only 44, 427 UPSR candidates last year.

Jame said 22, 972 of the pupils scored at least a C in each subject compared to only 22, 699 last year.

Among the 10 best national schools were SK Bombalai Tawau, SK Sri Gaya, Kota Kinabalu, SK Pasir Putih Tawau, SK St Agnes, Kota Kinabalu, SK Bahagia, Tawau, SK St Francis Convent, Kota Kinabalu, SK Bukit Lalang, Semporna, SK St Benedict, Ranau, SK Tg. Aru 2, Kota Kinabalu and SK St Monica, Sandakan.

The top 10 National Chinese-Type schools are SJK (C) Shan Tao, Kota Kinabalu, SJK (C) Lok Yuk Likas, Kota Kinabalu, SJK (C) St. James, Kota Kinabalu, SJK (C) Chung Hwa Kg. Air, Kota Kinabalu, SJK (C) Chung Hwa Likas, Kota Kinabalu, SJK (C) Yuk Chin, Tawau, SJK (C) Anglo Chinese, Kota Kinabalu, SJK (C) Yue Min, Penampang, SJK (C) Pui Gin, Sandakan and SJK (C) Sin Hwa, Tawau.

The top 11 best national schools (under-enrolled schools) are SK Jabang, Beaufort, SK Taginambur, Tuaran, SK Rangalau Baru, Tuaran. SK Tinompok Liwan, Tambunan, SK Ratau, Ranau, SK Perancangan, Ranau, SK Suangpai, Kudat, SK Guakon Baru, Tuaran, SK Karangan, Beaufort, SK Saliku, Nabawan and SK Lingga Baru, Tuaran.

Meanwhile, top 10 best National Chinese-Type schools (under-enrolled schools) are SJK (C) Lian Hwa, Beaufort, SJK (C) Bong Hwa, Papar, SJK (C) Yuk Nam, Tenom, SJK (C) Tsi Sin, Tenom, SJK (C) Hwa Yin, Papar, SJK (C) Phui Ying, Tenom, SJK (C) Pada, Tenom, SJK (C) Kok Wah Talibong, Tuaran, SJK (C) Yuk Syn, Tenom and SJK (C) Our Lady Immaculate, Kudat.

According to Jame, the National schools have shown an improvement in all five subjects in terms of passing percentage namely Bahasa Malaysia comprehension and writing, English, Mathematics as well as Science compared to last year.

For National Chinese-Type schools, he said, the passing percentage for Bahasa Malaysia comprehension has shown a decrease by 0.85 per cent whereas for writing, the subject has shown an increase by 5.96 per cent compared to last year.

Both English and Mathematics subjects have shown an increase of passing percentage by 2.22 per cent and 2.24 per cent, respectively, whereas for Chinese comprehension and writing have decreased by 1.78 per cent and 1.14 per cent.

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SK Bombalai tops in Sabah

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

Tawau: A total of three schools in the Merotai constituency have achieved excellent results in this year’s Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR).

SK Bombalai emerged as the top school in the State scoring 1.65 for the School Average Grade with 15 pupils obtaining straight A’s.

Two other schools are SK Pasir Putih and SK Bahagia which scored 1.74 and 1.8 respectively for their School Average Grade.

A total of 47 pupils from SK Pasir Putih and 20 pupils from SK Bahagia who scored straight A’s in their UPSR examination.

Merotai Assemblyman Datuk Pang Yuk Ming said the success has brought pride to the district with all three listed in the top 10 best schools list for best UPSR overall performance.

“We have always focused on the academic development because I believe that education can change the lives of the pupils in future,” he said, adding that they have offered allocation worth RM320, 000 to upgrade the schools’ facilities.

“Recently, we distributed a total of 121 units of projectors to 17 schools in Merotai constituency to improve the teaching and learning process among school pupils,” he said.

Pang said he believed the achievement was based on the commitment, two-way communication and cooperation among all parties involved.

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