Archive for February, 2016

Johor Sultan makes waves at Chingay parade

Monday, February 29th, 2016

JOHOR BARU: Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar made a splash at the traditional Chingay procession that was held to mark the end of the Chinese New Year celebrations.

The crowd greeted him with an energetic “Daulat Tuanku” as he arrived at the stage set up at Komtar JBCC’s entrance along Jalan Wong Ah Fook here yesterday.

Sultan Ibrahim, who launched the event by sounding a Chinese drum several times, made history as the first Johor Ruler to attend the parade in the state.

He was accompanied by Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, Johor Baru Tiong-Hua Association president Datuk Seri Tey Kim Chai and MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong.

The Sultan waved to the people as the procession went by.

He smiled broadly and applauded as the people shouted “heng ah!” (prosperity) and “huat ah!” (good fortune) as elaborately decorated floats passed by.

Sultan Ibrahim had previously attended the event 10 years ago when he was the Tunku Mahkota Johor.

Last night, tens of thousands of people lined along the 10km route of the procession, which was into its 144th edition.

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Hope yet for a drying stream

Sunday, February 28th, 2016

A new approach that incorporates fun, creativity and thinking skills, will make subjects related to the sciences more appealing for secondary school students.

THE Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM) launched the nation’s first Science Outlook report recently and some of its findings were not very promising.

According to the report, despite substantial investment in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, interest among students is dropping.

Malaysia had set a target ratio (in 1967) of 60:40 science-to-non-science students at the Upper Secondary School level but instead of coming closer to that “ideal” ratio, we’re drifting further away from it.

In 2010, the ratio of science to non-science students was 48:52.

But in 2014, the ratio stood at 47:53 with 29% of Form Five students enrolled in the pure science stream.

Numbers are certainly dropping in schools.

Harsheenee Anthoney Khannan, 17, says there has been a significant drop of science students in her school compared to last year.

When asked why she chose arts, she says she plans on pursuing a Ph.D. in English and did not see a need to go into the Sciences.

Trying experiments: A researcher working in a laboratory at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia. The science and research of today often become the technology of tomorrow.

Having said that, she says she doesn’t believe that the Science stream is difficult, so long as one likes what they are studying.

Former SMK Tropicana principal Ruth Cheah Kah Yok, 60, agrees that there are fewer science students compared to arts in her school.

“However, the number of science students is increasing because we have been attracting higher-performing students for the last few years,” she says, adding that there is a direct correlation between high-performing students and the enrolment in the science stream.

However, all hope is not lost as some students think the science stream is the better option.


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Sabah Wildlife concerned over rising number of orphaned baby elephants

Sunday, February 28th, 2016

KOTA KINABALUKOTA KINABALU: The increasing number of orphaned baby Bornean elephants being rescued from plantations near forest reserves is worrying the Sabah Wildlife Department.

The fact that the baby elephants were found wandering alone was an indication that the adult animals including their mothers had been killed.

Department director William Baya said the rescued baby elephants were a financial burden as the cost of feeding one per day was between RM200 and RM250.

For the past three years, the department’s Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU) rangers have been working around the clock rescuing and caring for 15 orphaned baby elephants all below one-year-old.

William said WRU rangers rescued two orphans in 2013 and the figure increased to three the following year.

The number of rescued elephant calves jumped to eight last year and just this month alone, Wildlife Rangers saved another two more orphans.

“All these babies were rescued throughout the east coast of Sabah in human-elephant conflict areas in Tawau, Lahad Datu , Telupid, Kinabatangan and Sandakan,” William said.

With the increasing loss of their habitat, reports of human-elephant conflict have skyrocketed to the point where efforts to reduce the problem has become extremely challenging.

He said the translocation of problematic elephants to other areas used to work well about 10 years ago.

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The science agenda

Sunday, February 28th, 2016

THE Government is striving to promote science among schoolchildren and their parents.

The Higher Education Ministry, Education Ministry, Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry, Malaysian Industry-Government Group for High Technology (Might) and Academy of Sciences Malaysia are working together to stem the declining interest.

And universities, polytechnics and community colleges are actively working closely with schools to support the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) agenda.

“University students from these higher education institutions conduct workshops, seminars and programmes for students to increase their interest in the sciences.

“At polytechnic and community colleges, there’s more focus on technology and engineering, where the Government has created more opportunities. For example, community colleges are offering programmes in gamification, tunnel drilling, and 3D animation.

“School science facilities are also being improved through collaboration among schools, universities and the industry. Here, higher education staff and students work with schools to physically rebuild science labs and, thereafter, volunteer their time to come and teach,” the Higher Education Ministry says.

Prior to the 1990s, excellent Malaysian students had to take science subjects, leading to the high ratio of science to art students. But in the 1990s, Malaysian upper secondary students were allowed to pursue their stream of choice.

This led to the ratio of ­science to art students in upper secondary schools narrowing, but now more students are taking a mix of science and other subjects, like accountancy and electrical design, the ministry explains.

“As our universities move ahead, students will have more opportunities to take non-science subjects as part of their courses. Flexible education is the future of higher education, and universities will be required to enable their students to be multi-disciplinary. We want to produce scientists who are good in philosophy, and engineers who are qualified in accounting.”

The Institution of Engineers Malaysia (IEM) has been supporting government agencies in building awareness on science and mathematics programmes. The institution conducts career awareness talks, competitions and exhibitions in schools, its president Datuk Lim Chow Hock says. To educate the public on engineering opportunities, IEM will organise a construction career fair in April.

Job prospects for engineering graduates are bright as we become an industrial nation, he observes, pointing to how govern­ment allocation for infrastructure development has supported the country’s demand for engineers.

Careers aren’t limited to civil, mechanical, electrical, electronic and chemical engineering. Many new disciplines like aeronautical, environmental, maritime, mining, oil and gas engineering have emerged, he says.

But, to meet the industry’s evolving demand, engineering graduates must stay on top of new developments. Quality graduates are important as engineers are increasingly required to take on managerial responsibility requiring leadership and communication skills, he notes.

“There are indications that the Government – as the largest employer in the country – is incorporating a structured pathway for all science-based professionals, including engineers, to fill high positions in the civil service,” he says, adding that prospects to reach the top, high remuneration and status recognition, will motivate students to take up STEM education and pursue a career in engineering.

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Definitely not for us!

Sunday, February 28th, 2016

DESPITE their science background, these students won’t be graduating as engineers, architects or scientists.

Instead, they’re opting for non-science degrees.

First-year accounting student Chia Chun Hui, 19, was never interested in the subjects but went to a pure science class because she “wanted to be with my friends”.

She says, at least, half of her pure science classmates have opted to do degrees in the arts and humanities. The daughter of an accounts clerk has no regrets moving away from the sciences.

“My friends studying in fields like engineering and pharmacy are always so stressed out. I don’t think I could have coped,” she says, adding that she’s very happy with her choice.

Tan Heng Fatt, 21, switched to an economics degree after doing his foundation studies in science.

“I knew nothing about accounts or economics but I’d spent eight months working as a sales promoter and really enjoyed interacting with, and observing, people. The experience also made me realise that only by doing business can you become rich.”

While he also enjoyed learning the sciences, Tan decided to see where his newfound passion would lead him.

Like Chia and Tan, Lam Zhi Hao, 21, was also a pure science student in secondary school.

Hoping to follow in the footsteps of his property agent brother, he’s studying for a building and property management degree.

“I didn’t think I’d do well if I pursued a science-related degree. There’re so many calculations in science subjects … the pressure is too high.”

Meanwhile, an engineer who declined to be named quit his job recently. The 27-year-old Penangite is heading to Singa­pore next week to become a hawker.

“After eight years in this field, it’s time for a change. The economy is slow. It’s tough asking for higher pay here. I tried to apply for an engineering position in Singapore but bosses there say they can get two engineers from China for the salary I’m asking. So, I’ll sell chicken rice there instead.”

While his colleagues were surprised, his family was encouraging. They told him gaining new experiences is good as age is on his side.

He thinks he’ll earn more in Singapore with a basic pay of S$1,500 (RM4,500) and a commission of S$0.50 (RM1.50) for every plate of rice sold.

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Chinese may fall to third spot soon

Sunday, February 28th, 2016

THE Feb 8 to Feb 22 Chinese New Year period was set to be an uneventful 15-day celebration with many open houses, but few fresh topics to talk about, until a Feb 14 news report interrupted the monotony of the festivities.

This report on declining Chinese population ratio in Malaysia peppered with a warning that this ethnic group may slide to the third spot in terms of number and percentage in the country, immediately triggered the alarm.

The active Selangor/Kuala Lumpur Hainanese Association based at Thean Hou Temple was the first to react emotively at its CNY open house.

It warned that this development would have far-reaching implications for the Chinese community on the political, education and economic fronts.

This high profile association and other clans reiterated their calls to the local ethnic Chinese to give birth to more babies.

To recap, a report in Sin Chew Daily on Feb 14 stated that by 2030, the numbers of Chinese – the second largest ethnic group after the Malays in Malaysia – would drop to third place after the bumiputra and foreign migrant workers.

A huge fall in the birth rate of the Chinese to 1.4 babies per family in 2015 from 7.4 in 1957 and a sharp rise in the numbers of foreign workers are now threatening the Chinese’ position as the second largest grouping in Malaysia.

The report, quoting projected data from the Department of Statistics, said the percentage of local ethnic Chinese population would shrink to 19.6% in 2030, from 24.6% in 2010 and 21.4% in 2015.

The Chinese percentage is also projected to fall further to 18.9% in 2035.

In the report, Chief Statistician Datuk Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman was quoted as saying that even though the Chinese population would increase to 7.1 million people in 2040 from 6.6 million now, the percentage compared to the Malays and Indians might decline to 18.4% in 2040.

In terms of numbers, the other two ethnic groups are projected to rise in population, with the bumiputra outdoing those from other races.

The bumiputra population is anticipated to increase from 19.2 million in 2015 to 26 million by 2040, and Indians from two million to 2.3 million.

In terms of percentage, the bumiputra population is anticipated to increase from 61.8% to 67.5%, and Indians from 5.5% to 6.4%.

Malaysia’s population was estimated at between 30.6mil and 30.8 mil at end-2015.


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Nation builders wanted

Sunday, February 28th, 2016

WITH waning interest in science, technology, engineering and mathe­matics (STEM) among schoolchildren, Malaysia may have to turn to foreign workers to help achieve Vision 2020.

Because if the number of science students continues to decline, we won’t have enough engineers, architects, and other science­-related professionals to take the country to the next level, academics and industry experts warn.

A nation can’t be built by arts and business graduates alone, Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) secretary-general N. Gopal Kishnam cautions. He points to how South Korea and Singapore have overtaken us and attributes the success to their emphasis on science.

“Fifty years ago, when we first started nation-building, we were on par with the other two countries. Where are they now? We’re still a labour-intensive economy. It’s because our neighbours focused on education.”

With the Asean Economic Com­munity opening the gates to allow free flow of workers between member countries, foreigners will flood the market as employers here start sourcing for skilled labour from outside the country, he predicts.

“I see more skilled workers coming in from the Philippines. The cost is at least 30% cheaper for local companies to hire them. Meanwhile, we aren’t doing enough to stop the brain drain,” he says, adding that close to a million science graduates are currently working abroad.

Robert Walters expects demand for ICT to surge in the next four years as new technologies enter the country.

“Processes are being automated and technology is moving rapidly so we anticipate an increase in demand for the relevant talent,” observes Sally Raj, managing director of the specialist professional recruitment firm in Malaysia.


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KKCCCI hopes City Hall continues to improve facilities, infrastructure in KK.

Friday, February 26th, 2016

KOTA KINABALU: The Kota Kinabalu Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KKCCCI) hopes that the City Hall will further improve and upgrade the basic facilities and infrastructure in and around Kota Kinabalu in line with the rapid developments in the city in recent years.

Its president, Datuk Michael Lui Yen Sang, said the upgrade of infrastructure was necessary to meet the needs of the people.

“I am particularly concerned about the measures to overcome traffic congestion in Kota Kinabalu and to speed up the installation of closed-circuit television (CCTV) at strategic locations to safeguard the city,” Lui said that during a courtesy call on Mayor Datuk Yeo Boon Hai here yesterday.

He also hoped Yeo would pay more attention in developing Kota Kinabalu as a tourism paradise in order to help stimulate the economy in the state capital, given the rich tourism resources and potential in the city.

“KKCCCI will work closely with City Hall in achieving this target,” he said.

Lui said the chamber welcomed Yeo’s initiative to upgrade and improve the administrative efficiency of City Hall.

“We, KKCCCI would definitely give full cooperation and support.

“I would like to urge our members and the Chinese business community in Kota Kinabalu to work closely and support Datuk Mayor.”

Lui said the chamber would continue to play its role as the bridge between the people and City Hall, to reflect the people’s opinion and comments to Yeo and resolve important issues with its good relations with City Hall.

He said the chamber would also continue to jointly organize events such as “My Rubbish My Responsibility” and “Safe City Campaign” with City Hall.

Lui said KKCCCI was in the process of preparing documents on ‘Prevention of dengue fever’ and ‘Proposal to review city parking system’ which would be submitted to City Hall as soon as possible.

Earlier, Lui expressed his sincere appreciation to Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Haji Aman for listening to the wishes and appeal from the Chinese community, especially KKCCCI, on the appointment of Yeo as the fourth Mayor of Kota Kinabalu.

He said Yeo was the first Chinese Mayor since Kota Kinabalu was upgraded to city status 16 years ago in 2000.

“We are honoured to have a Chinese Mayor. I believe this is a good start,” he said.

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Johor Ruler wows CNY crowd with Mandarin phrases

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

PONTIAN: Sultan of Johor Sultan Ibrahim ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar wowed the crowd at the Chap Goh Meh celebration here when he incorporated Mandarin in his speech.

Ni hao ma? (How are you?)” asked the Sultan in Mandarin at the start of his speech, generating loud cheers and applause from the crowd of a few thousand people.

The Sultan went on to stress the importance of being united as a big family to reflect the spirit of Bangsa Johor.

“Johor has a unique culture where we treat each other as family. I urge my people to respect and celebrate each other’s festive occasions.

“Bangsa Johor is actually not something new. My late grandfather Sultan Ibrahim (Ibni Almarhum Sultan Abu Bakar) was a far-sighted Ruler when he named our state anthem Lagu Bangsa Johor because he saw the need for us to live in peace.

“We have to instil love and respect for one another and work together to ensure a harmonious society that everyone feels proud of,” he said at the event held for the first time at the Pontian Mini Stadium here yesterday.

Sultan Ibrahim ended his speech with the phrase “tuan jie jiu shi li liang (united we stand)” as well as “gong xi fa cai”, much to the delight of the crowd.

Earlier, the Sultan together with Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Mohamed Khaled Nordin, State Secretary Datuk Ismail Karim and State Domestic Trade, Tourism and Consumerism exco member Datuk Tee Siew Kiong tossed yee sang to mark the 15th day of the Lunar New Year.

The guests and visitors were also entertained by cultural performances such as 24 Festive Drums, a Sun Wu Kong (Monkey King) dance and vocal performances as they tucked into a sumptuous spread.


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Main concern is kids’ education

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

PUTRAJAYA: Meeting family financial needs, including the children’s education, is the biggest concern among Malaysian men and women, according to a survey.

Findings of the Fifth Population and Family Survey showed that children’s education was the top concern among men (50.3%) and women (40%).

This was followed by the ability to cater for their family’s daily needs and having sufficient money for medical bills.

Other concerns were discipline of their teenage children, proper child care, the relationship between spouses, relationship with parents, care for elderly parents and the relationship with in-laws.

Every 10 years since 1974, the National Population and Family Development Board conducts the survey to study trends and behaviour over a host of issues, including career, nuptial, family and social issues.

The recent survey was done between September 2014 and January last year, and involved 23,112 households comprising 57,246 respondents.

Obviously, men and women have different levels of concern. For example, women were more worried about having enough money for the family’s daily needs, 36.3% compared to 34.1% of men.

The same goes for the issue of disciplining children, 25.2% women vs 22.3% men; spousal issues, 10% women vs 7.7% men; and relations with in-laws, 3% women vs 2% men.

One of the new challenges was “commuting families” whereby 7% of married women were now living far from their husbands due to work.

These families, according to the survey, meet only once a week.

“There is a trend now for husbands and wives to make joint decisions on family matters, be it the purchase of a property, children’s education, holiday plans, savings and investments.

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