Archive for March, 2016

Malacca CM to reps: Don’t use race to gain popularity

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

He said racial harmony is the key for Malacca to become a successful and progressive state.

In his winding-up speech on the last day of the legislative assembly sitting on Thursday, Idris said the state has a rich history of how racial unity has thrived since the days of the Malacca Sultanate.

“We cannot regress to bigotry or give in to certain quarters over their selfish need to divide and rule.

“Hence, I urge all assemblymen to avoid using race as a means to gain popularity or serve their constituents,” he said.

Idris said the image of the state could be tarnished by racial remarks uttered by assemblymen, government officials or even those in the private sector.

“Those at management levels in the private sector should also be open-minded and avoid stereotyping their subordinates or employees,” he said.

Idris told the assembly that the state government will be fair to all and assist those who are genuinely in need without looking at colour or creed.


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NIOSH ready to help prevent occupational fatalities in confined spaces – Lee

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

KOTA KINABALU: The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has described as very unfortunate Monday’s incident in which three crew members died and three others required medical treatment after inhaling poisonous gas from a storage compartment of a fishing trawler at the Sepanggar jetty near here.

A pile of rotten fish kept in the storage chamber for more than 10 days had turned into fertiliser and produced toxic gas.

In the wake of the tragedy, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has urged on the fishing industry to create awareness and understanding of work in confined spaces among employers and workers to prevent a similar incident in the future.

NIOSH chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said in a statement yesterday awareness programmes such as seminars, dialogues or special training must now be held for various parties in the fishing industry including fishermen associations and small entrepreneurs.

He said hazards in confined spaces included toxic gas, particularly hydrogen sulfide (H2S) produced from a chemical reaction in the air trapped for a long time in an enclosed area.

“The recent accident in a confined space showed similar patterns in any industry involving fish fertiliser chamber, petroleum storage tank, boiler or manhole,”he added.

Characteristics of Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S):

  • Highly toxic and can be fatal
  • Colourless
  • It is heavier than air and tends to accumulate in low-lying areas
  • It is flammable with a blue flame and its combustion produces sulfur dioxide gas (SO2), which is also toxic
  • Highly corrosive and causes corrosion on certain metals
  • At low concentrations, it smells like rotten eggs and can paralyze the sense of smell

And, Lee proposed that all industries should take serious steps to ensure that workers adhered to guidelines on the handling of tanks or storage spaces, whether to store fish fertiliser, petroleum gas, and others.

“Activities involving confined spaces may be seen as insignificant in the fishing industry, but such accidents can recur if lessons are not learnt.

“Therefore, shipowners, skippers and workers at the port or dock should have a basic knowledge of hazards in the workplace. They have the responsibility and right to health and safety at work for themselves as well as others,” he said..

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Budget Cuts In University Fundings Should Be Viewed Positively – UniMAP Vice-chancellor

Thursday, March 31st, 2016

KANGAR, March 30 (Bernama) — The 2016 budget cuts by the government should be viewed positively as they give organisations the opportunity to train to be more efficient and creative, said Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP) acting vice-chancellor Datuk Prof Dr Zul Azhar Zahid Jamal.

He said with the reduction in budget too, higher learning institutions would not be overdependent on government assistance and would be more innovative in aiming for prudent spending and ways to generate their own income.

“When we become too dependent on the government, we have less initiative to be self-reliant. In this connection, UniMAP was prepared for the budget cuts.

“Among measures taken were multiplying on new projects explored which brought short and long-term profits,” he said at the Anugerah Seri Gemilang UniMAP 2015, here last night.

Also present were the Raja Muda of Perlis who is also UniMAP chancellor, Tuanku Syed Faizuddin Putra Jamalullail and his consort, the Raja Puan Muda Perlis who is also UniMAP pro-chancellor, Tuanku Hajah Lailatul Shahreen Akashah Khalil.

According to Zul Azhar, the 2016 management grant was reduced by 7.3 per cent or about RM16 million as compared to last year’s allocation.

He said there were all kinds of reaction when the government announced on budget cuts in higher learning institution fundings as some people were of the view that universities were not corporate bodies and should not bear the burden of generating their own funds.

“I think we have done our level best for the rakyat and UniMAP in using various channels to generate fundings in accordance with the government’s vision and without affecting operations,” he said.

A total of 106 people received excellent service awards while 24 others received special awards at the ceremony.

University Ubudiyah Indonesia (UUI) Aceh rector, Marniati M. Kes received the special award (individual) while the agency special award went to Yayasan Tuanku Syed Putra (YTSP) Perlis.


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‘Avoid eateries serving shark fin’

Wednesday, March 30th, 2016

PETALING JAYA: Tour and travel agents have drawn the line when it comes to eateries with shark fin soup on their menus.

“Say it’s a three-star hotel that sells shark fin. We will not take them (tourists) there.

“We will not have functions there. We will not have events there,” Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) inbound vice-president Datuk Tan Kok Liang said.

He said it was the first time MATTA had made such a stand public, although the group had been against the eating of shark fins for years.

Tan said this after the group issued a statement quoting him as calling on the group’s 3,100-plus members to boycott places with shark fins on the menu.

He later clarified to The Star that this call was not a rule, but an advisory.

“The sharks help keep the ecosystem in order. Once the sharks are all gone, then the ecosystem will also change,” he said.

He also added that such a scenario would not be good for dive resorts.

Asked what led MATTA to make this call, he said it was due to Sabah state tourism minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun’s disappointment over the seeming lack of federal action on the matter.

MATTA’s press statement yesterday called on its members and partners to boycott restaurants offering sharkfin on their menus.

Quoting Tan, it said shark fin consumption was no longer in vogue and leading hotel chains such as Hilton, Hyatt, JW Marriott, Le Meridien, Peninsula, Shangri-La, Waldorf Astoria and Westin had stopped serving the dish.

“But in a recent report by the Hong Kong Shark Foundation, a shocking 98% of the 375 restaurants surveyed continue to choose money over environmentally friendly practices.

“If voluntary efforts are ineffective, tourism authorities could compile a list of restaurants that serve shark fin so that tourists could boycott them altogether, and not just the dish,” Tan said in the statement.

According to Tan, European Union countries had already prohibited shark finning since 2003 and by 2013, another 27 nations had joined them.

“Many tourists are environmental conscious and promoting ecotourism would backfire if we continue to allow our sharks to be slaughtered.

Tan said the banning of shark hunting and killing was under the purview of the Government but the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister did not wish to impose such a ban, even if it is for Sabah only.


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The moral advantages of religious diversity

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

Islam recognises God’s profound wisdom in creating various genders, nations and races, so that they may know one another and participate to attain noble thoughts and good conduct.

IN the Quran, God presents a simile of human life being a race or competition. In it, each individual employs his whole power to zealously run forward to the one goal.

The one goal, however, ought to be the goal of good, which unites diverse ethnic groups, traditions and temperaments. God’s command is fastabiqu al-khayrat, or “Strive together, as if in a race, in doing good works” (al-Baqarah, 2:148; al-Ma’idah, 5:48).

The advantage of our nation consisting of different religious communities is thus that they may compete with each other in moral goodness for upward development.

This requires them to be respectful of diversity. The natural diversity of human languages and skin colours is understood as signs of God for wonder and admiration of His unity, power, and mercy, just as the creation of the heavens and the earth are among the wonderful signs of God (al-Rum, 30:22).

In the words of an English philosopher, Alfred Whitehead, “Men require of their neighbours something sufficiently akin to be understood, something sufficiently different to provoke attention, and something great enough to command admiration.”

Notwithstanding different human tongues and shades of complexion, human basic unity remains constant. Islam recognises God’s profound wisdom in creating various genders, nations and races, so that they may know one another and participate to attain noble thoughts and good conduct.

In a Quranic verse addressed to all, God says, “O mankind! We have created you all from a single pair of a male and female, and made you into nations and races, that you may know each other. Verily, the noblest of you, in the sight of God, is the best in conduct” (al-Hujurat, 49:13).

Islam teaches that, as human beings, all of us belong to one human family, without any inherent biological superiority of one over another.

The Prophet Muhammad was quoted to have said, “Man is but a God-fearing believer or a hapless sinner. All people are the children of Adam, and Adam was created out of dust.”

All racial prejudices are thus strongly condemned by Islam. Our “natural” outward differentiations – whether in terms of gender, races, languages and skin colours – are deemed by Islam merely as superficial stickers.

It is a person’s inward goodness; it is his “nurtural” ethical quality – measured according to universal religious values – that should be the basis for our esteem for others.

We should never ridicule or insult or unnecessarily be suspicious of one another, just because the other is of a different gender, race, language or hue. Racial quarrels must by all means be avoided, through proper understanding of one’s own religion.


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‘DLP will not hurt Bahasa Malaysia’

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

THE Dual-Language Programme (DLP) is aimed at increasing the fluency of English among students, but will not jeopardise the standing of Bahasa Malaysia as the national language, said Deputy Education Minister Datuk P. Kamalanathan (pic).

The DLP allows students the option of studying several subjects in either English or Bahasa Malaysia.

Responding to a question from Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud (Amanah-Kota Raja), he emphasised that the programme was voluntary and that concerned Malay language activists need not fear for the status of the national language.

“This programme is about increasing the fluency of English, but Bahasa Malaysia will not be neglected,” he said.

Schools have a choice whether to implement this programme and even then, they must fulfil four criteria – enough resources, a head who can implement the programme, requests from the parents and the same or better results than the national average in these subjects.

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More kids pushing drugs

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

KUALA LUMPUR: The number of teens caught for drug peddling and abuse is getting alarmingly high, with 7,412 teens arrested last year, of which 89 were only 13 years old.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, says Bukit Aman Narcotics Criminal Investigation Department director Comm Datuk Seri Mohd Mokhtar Mohd Shariff.

“There are many more unrecorded cases,” he said. “In 2014, 4% of those arrested were still in school while last year, it was 5%.”

Comm Mohd Mokhtar cited peer pressure, exposure, neglect and lack of parental guidance as reasons why some youth were drawn to drugs at such a young age.

“Most of them also do drugs for fun, the lifestyle or when they’re depressed,” he said.

“The highest arrests of youths below 18 in recent years would be in 2013 and 2014. In 2013, we arrested 8,376 teens while 7,915 were arrested the following year.

“Although there is a decrease by 2.8%, it is still alarming,” he said.

While it is a serious issue, Comm Mohd Mokhtar said statistics showed a downward trend with a total number of cases last year dropping by 580.

However, the number of 13-year-olds arrested for drug-related offences went up from 76 to 89.

“Proactive measures must be put in place to curb this problem. These children usually come from broken families and lack moral or religious education. Some also have social problems,” he said.

Although police do not provide counselling, Comm Mohd Mokhtar said they were working closely with the Education Ministry by providing details of arrested students.


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Francis: Inspiring local man with disabilities

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016

KOTA KINABALU: Francis Xavier Kimjin, 32, was born without legs but he is living proof that with an iron will, he not only can stand on his own metaphorical feet but also do well enough to help others.

The resident of Kg Dabak, Penampang, near here did not let his handicap to stop him from training as a chef, multimedia editor, a village tuck shop owner, a motivational speaker in sharing his personal life’s journey to inspire others, and more recently as an entrepreneur on handcrafting useful household applications with the humble PVC(polyvinyl chloride) pipes.

Met at the Bazaar Music #5 here last Saturday, Francis spoke candidly amidst numerous PVC creations about his life, his crafts and his big heart.

Born to a family of seven, Francis paid tribute to his loving mother who has constantly encouraged him to be independent by adapting to his handicap. It was her who took a photo of his first PVC creation, a laundry rack, before he posted it on his Facebook and unwittingly opened a new path to the creativity and business.

“I was in a supermarket looking for a laundry rack,” Francis recalled the beginning of his enterprise which is less than two months old. “The racks were expensive, so I decided perhaps I could make one myself.”

He did make one, and as they said the rest was history. He went on to produce TV racks, coffee tables, baby chairs, shoe racks and of course, laundry racks. His orders come from the Kota Kinabalu area, as well as Sandakan, Keningau, Kuala Penyu, Beaufort, and Ranau.

“Within an hour of posting my first laundry rack on Facebook, I received about 100 Likes. The photo of my laundry rack apparently went viral and before long orders started coming in, and I have been kept busy ever since,” said a beaming Francis, who has since enlisted the help of two nephews to fulfil the orders.

Francis said being born with his condition perhaps made it easier for him to live with it, “but it would be silly for me not to have wished that I had legs like normal people”.

“My mother made me realised long ago that I just have to work harder than others because I don’t have what others have. Now I don’t see it as a handicap, but as a blessing, because if I had legs I’d probably be dreaming of becoming a footballer and not the creative juices that enabled me to launch my new business,” said Francis.

His idea of sharing his blessings is to help especially the elderly, orphans and the disabled. He had identified a number of such needy neighbours whom he visited regularly with groceries and cash.


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Nearly 90,000 Malaysians licensed to carry guns

Monday, March 28th, 2016

KUALA LUMPUR: A total of 89,771 Malaysians have been issued licences to bear arms ranging from rifles to stun guns.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the licences were issued as of Dec 31 last year.

“Of the number, 12,917 licences were for pistols, 1,789 for revolvers and 2,243 for rifles,” he said when submitting a written reply to Nga Kor Ming (DAP-Taiping) in the Dewan Rakyat on Monday.

He said licences for shotguns were the most to be issued with 63,145 given out while 7,731 licences were for pump-action shotguns.

“A total of 1,946 licences were issued for other firearms, such as flag-off pistols, blank guns, spear guns, nail guns and stun guns,” he added.

On preventing firearms smuggling, Dr Ahmad Zahid said preventive measures are available under the Security Offenses (Special Measures) Act, Dangerous Drugs Act (Preventive Measures) and Penal Code to deal with the issue.


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Stationery prices to rise by 10 per cent

Monday, March 28th, 2016

KOTA KINABALU: Prices of stationery are expected to increase by more than 10 per cent if the economic downturn and weakening of the Malaysian ringgit persist.

Stationery and Books Association of Sabah representative Michael Chin Wee Yee said the weak ringgit had caused the prices of various imported goods to rise, including paper.

Although the association’s members have been striving to keep their prices as low as possible by selling in large volumes at a smaller profit all the while, Chin said operators may need to resort to a price hike in light of the current economic situation.

He said some suppliers have issued a new price list stating a price hike of around 10 percent starting this year.

Chin said this during the annual general meeting (AGM) cum presentation of cash incentives to members’ children who scored good academic results here on Saturday.

However, the AGM was postponed to April 4 due to insufficient quorum.

Chin disclosed that the business of members has dropped between 20 and 30 percent due to reduced purchasing power brought about by prudent government spending and the slowdown in the private business sector.

He said some members have begun to create their own branding for stationery in order to penetrate the Philippine, Indonesian and Bruneian markets.

Chin said the sector players should explore the overseas market in search of more business opportunities.

As such, he said the association would head for the Philippines next month to meet with the country’s stationery association.

“Sabah is (geographically) closer to the Philippines and Indonesia compared to West Malaysia.

“At present, there are goods being exported from Sandakan to the Philippines,” he said.

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