Archive for August, 2016

Matta calls for abolishment of airport tax to increase passenger flow

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016
KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents () has called for the abolition of passenger service charge or airport tax to increase “passenger flow” to the country.

Matta president Datuk Hamzah Rahmat (pic) said that doing away with the airport tax would also encourage more Malaysians to travel overseas.

Some countries such as the UK are not charging airport tax. We should follow suit. I believe we can increase the number of visitors this way,” he told reporters.

Hamzah said that people using low-cost terminal klia2 looked for budget travelling and would welcome removal of the airport tax.

He did not cite statistics but said that the overall flow of tourists into the country had not been affected by the weakened global economy.

“Likewise, there has not been any decrease in the number of Malaysians travelling abroad,” he said.

At a press conference earlier, it was announced that Emirates is the official airline partner for the Matta Fair 2016 which will be held from Sept 2 to 4 at the Putra World Trade Centre.

Syed Kechik made RM483m from Sabah, court told

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

Kota Kinabalu: Former Sabah Chief Minister Tan Sri Harris Mohd Salleh told the High Court, here, Tuesday, that Tan Sri Syed Kechik made RM483 million from Sabah in his 10 years as former aide of Tun Mustapha.

He said that by “cutting off Syed Kechik’s financial oxygen to make more money from Sabah,” he (Harris) and his Berjaya Party earned much animosity from Syed Kechik. He also said that Syed Kechik (who was from Kelantan) became a “Native” of Sabah because it was easier for him to buy native lands at RM100 to RM150 an acre.

Harris was being questioned during Examination-in-Chief in the suit he brought against Dr Shaari Isa, author of the book ‘Vendetta and Abuse of Power – Quest for Justice in The Land Below The Wind’ (1st Defendant), Syed Salem Albukhary (2nd Defendant), a brother of Syed Kechik and the printer, publisher and distributor, MPH Group of companies (3rd to 5th defendants) for defamation (libel).

The said book with 3,000 copies printed and sold at RM99 for a hard cover version is an attempt to explain the background to and the reasons for Harris’ animosity against Syed Kechik, according to the author. But Harris contends that all the allegations against him as stated in the book were gossips and is seeking both damages and book ban.

Harris denied claims that he was a corrupt dictator as he had no power of arrest while serving as CM.

He also said that it was not first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman who was responsible for Syed Kechik being sent to Sabah but Senu Abdul Rahman, the then Federal Minister of Information, “as Mustpha was away most of the time.”

He said that when second Premier late Tun Razak called him and late Tun Fuad Stephens to form a party against the Usno-led Sabah Alliance government, Syed Kechik was the target.

“Umno gave us RM500,000 for lodging the party.

We won the election mainly because of Syed Kechik, besides not much economic development in Sabah.”

Harris’ counsels are attempting to show the court that Harris and Berjaya leaders did not act with vengeance against Syed Kechik and that the acquisition of the Zara Land Project, which is the 1st and 2nd defendants’ main grouses or allegation against Harris of improper or abuse in the said book, was done within the law.

[Parcels of Zara land in the State Capital which Syed Kechik bought from villagers using his "native title" are now occupied by Universiti Malaysia Sabah and Alam Mesra]. Harris claimed that since Syed Kechik was adequately compensated, inclusive of interest for the acquisition, the defendants were actuated by malice in publishing the book.

“I deny all allegations against me as they are all gossips without any evidence.” He said he resigned from political association with cruel and dishonest men twice in his public career.

Harris also claimed that overseas visitors to his friend’s home after reading it opined that he (Harris) “was a very bad man.”

However, the 1st and 2nd defendants claim that compulsory acquisition of the 2,452.74 acres under the Zara Project was motivated principally by the personal animosity of the leaders of the Berjaya Government, particularly Harris.

Furthermore, they claim that the acquisition did not follow and adhere to the strict rules and principles of the Land Acquisition Ordinance (Cap 69, Sabah).

They also contend that no compensation was paid nor was any effort made according to the provisions of the law towards compensating Zara Sdn Bhd for the compulsory acquisition of the Zara Lands for so called public purposes during the nine years when Harris was CM.

To this Harris contends that even Singapore acquired land 50 years ago or ahead of time for a public purposes land bank.

In their Statement of Defence, the 1st and 2nd defendants contended that Syed Kechik became a member of the native community of Sabah through the lawful exercise of his legal rights within the provisions of relevant written laws.

They also said he set up Usia that was involved in spreading Islam in Sabah.

They said Harris’ various vengeful actions against Syed Kechik included the attempt to expel Syed Kechik through State immigration powers, but Syed Kechik’s counteraction through the courts successfully confirmed his status as a native of Sabah.

First defendant Dr Shaari Isa states that the objective of his book was to show that Syed Kechik was severely and unfairly punished soon after the establishment of the Berjaya Government and that this was motivated by the personal animosity of the leaders of Berjaya Party, including Harris towards Syed Kechik.

He claims that the strategy of Berjaya leaders including Harris was to cast Syed Kechik as an outsider interfering in the affairs of the state appealed to the voters in Sabah.

“The people of Sabah had been made to believe that Syed Kechik was an outsider who came to Sabah to ravage the wealth of the state’s forests for his own benefit, Syed Kechik did not ravage the forest of Sabah. Neither did Tun Mustapha.

It was in fact Harris who ravaged the forests of Sabah.” (Page 282, paragraph 3 of the book)

The Statement of Defence claims that during the Berjaya era, an average of 124 square miles under the former Trust Concession were logged annually. This was four times more than lawfully permitted during the Usno years for sustainable logging within the former Trust Concession set up by the Usno government.

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Team up to form workplace childcare centres

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

ASK any parent. It is hard to stay focused on work when you worry that your young children are not getting proper care and attention. How do you extract high producti­vity from a workforce that has many such distracted mothers and fathers?

It is indeed a big problem when there are limited options as to who will look after the children while the parents work. Says the International Labour Organisation, “The consequences of lack of access to affordable, good quality childcare go beyond the welfare of individual children and their families and affect the social and economic development of the whole society.”

In a 2010 publication, the organisation argues that childcare for working parents is important be­cause it promotes gender equality and the rights and development of children; contributes to the national economy; and helps to break the vicious circle of inter-generational poverty.

Our Government Transformation Programme (GTP) also advocates the provision of quality early childcare and education, saying it is “fundamental to the process of nation-building and ensuring that Malaysia is globally competitive”.

In the GTP website, Pemandu points out that getting a head start in education is crucial for young children. In addition, childcare enables mothers to re-enter the workforce and there are many business opportunities in early childcare and education.

This is why it is good news that the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry wants to formulate a plan that will hopefully result in more workplaces having childcare centres.

On Monday, the minister, Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim, said the incentives for employers to set up childcare centres would be reviewed after they had failed to get a good response from employers.

The Star Says,

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Fly flag at all times, says Tengku Mahkota

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016
KUANTAN: Tengku Mahkota of Pahang Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah has called on the people in the state to continue to foster the spirit of loyalty and love for the country, despite having different political ideologies and opinions.

He said patriotism and the love for Malaysia should be inculcated in the people in order to preserve harmony.

“In other countries, if we go to people’s houses (during the month of their independence celebrations), we see flags hanging from the windows and even inside the house.

“All this is done out of their own initiative, they do not wait for the Government to hoist the flags.

“We should also practise that and fly our flag at all times, to show our loyalty to Malaysia despite our political differences,” he said, adding that parents, teachers and religious scho­lars should play a role in instilling the spirit of love and loyalty among the younger generation.


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More Malaysians working abroad for better salaries

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

JOHOR BARU: Malaysians are not only crossing over to Singapore to work – they are also going to China, Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan and South Korea as they are better paid in these countries.

Former Small and Medium Enterprises Association Malaysia president Teh Kee Sin said it was not only Malaysian professionals who were leaving the country, but also semi-skilled and skilled workers.

He said the depreciating ringgit and higher salaries offered in these countries were the main factors prompting Malaysians to look for jobs there.

“The view that Malaysians are not willing to do work deemed difficult and dirty is not right as many of them are taking up such jobs in these countries,” said Teh.

Unless Malaysian companies were willing to pay them well for menial and unskilled jobs, he added, the issue of locals not wanting to take up these jobs should not arise at all.

“Many commute to do such jobs in Singapore. There must be something wrong if a Malaysian is willing to work as a cleaner in Singapore but not in Johor Baru,” he said.

A human resources manager, who declined to be named, said highly skilled workers were sought after by oil and gas corporations based in Singapore and the Middle East.

He said Malaysia and companies operating locally were on the losing end as they had invested millions of ringgit to train locals but the foreign countries were the ones benefiting from the efforts.

“There is nothing much that we (Malaysia) can do to stop highly skilled locals in the oil and gas sector from working in other countries,” he said.

An attractive salary and remuneration package are the main reasons why many skilled Malaysians work in the oil and gas sector in Singapore and the Middle East.

For instance, the monthly salary in Malaysia for a certified welder with a 6G certification working offshore starts at between RM4,000 and RM5,000 monthly, he said.

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Down Syndrome Association opens its learning centre

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016
 Azizah (third left) officiating at the Kota Kinabalu Down Syndrome Association learning centre at Taman Orkid yesterday.

Azizah (third left) officiating at the Kota Kinabalu Down Syndrome Association learning centre at Taman Orkid yesterday.

KOTA KINABALU: Collaboration between the community and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) is important to facilitate the growth of individuals with special needs (OKUs).

Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Azizah Mohd Dun emphasized on the need for awareness on the issue when she officiated at the opening of Kota Kinabalu Down Syndrome Association (PSDKK) learning centre here yesterday.

“I’m very proud that an association comprising parents of children with Down syndrome successfully brought this learning centre to fruition without assistance from the government but through collaboration with NGOs,” she said.

“The association is also assisted by volunteers who helped in training the children, and I think this initiative should be given full support and hope so that they may expand their efforts.”

The learning centre here is the 13th in the country.

Although the community is encouraged to get involved in this issue, Azizah said that the ministry provides assistance in acquiring a location for the centre and annual grants, among others.

“We also look into newly established centres and see how best we can assist them,” she said.

“At the State level, the association can register with the Sabah Council of Social Services (MPMS) and the federal government can help as well.

“However, what I would like to emphasize on is the collaboration between various sectors, especially between parents of the children with special needs, NGOs and the community at large.

“This is of utmost importance because with these successful collaborations, learning centres like this come to be, even without aid from the government in the initial stages. We want to have more community-based rehabilitation centres such as this one.”

Azizah added that the ministry had also begun to engage with various groups and sectors, including the public sector, in the pursuit of making workplaces OKU-friendly.

by Fiqah Roslan.

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PTPTN Hope To Appoint 4,000 Agents To Promote SSPN-i-Plus

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

LENGGONG, Aug 22 (Bernama) — The National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) hope to appoint 4,000 online agents by year end to help promote the National Education Scheme (SSPN-i) Plus saving scheme.

SSPN-i Plus, is the best saving plan, combining education saving and a cheap and comprehensive takaful protection package introduced by PTPTN last year.

PTPTN chairman Datuk Shamsul Anuar Nasarah said PTPTN targeted RM2 billion to be deposited into its new product SSPN-i Plus.

Agents appointed by PTPTN would be paid commission if they managed to attract people to open savings accounts.

“SSPN-i Plus offers saving plans through salary deduction for as low as RM30 a month while SSPN-i is a fixed deposit saving for the future,” he told reporters at Dewan Merdeka, here Monday.

Earlier, he handed 238 students in Gerik, Lenggong, Kuala Kangsar and Padang Rengas RM357,000 under the PTPTN scheme.

Shamsul Anuar said since the agents online programme was introduced in May, 2,000 agents had joined the scheme.

He said 1.3 million borrowers who failed to repay their PTPTN loans have been listed in the Central Credit Reference Information System (CCRIS).


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Malaysia’s Education Development Plan In Line With Global Agenda

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2016

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 23 (Bernama) — Malaysia’s development plan in education through the Malaysian Education Blueprint 2013-2025 (MEB) is in tandem with the global education agenda, says Education Deputy Director-General Datuk Seri Khairil Awang.

He said this was evident with the MEB’s two main features, namely the system aspirations and the student aspirations, which would support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals 4 (Education 2030).

The MEB’s system aspirations include access, quality, equity, unity and efficiency; while the student aspirations (literacy and numeracy, thinking skills, leadership skills and bilingual proficiency), are also the aspirations of Education 2030.

“Malaysia believes that in ensuring effective delivery of the Education 2030, the global agenda should not be isolated or implemented in parallel with the national education planning and monitoring evaluation system.

“The MEB 2013-2025 provides the framework for improving the performance of the education sector. The MEB was implemented three years ahead of Education 2030, (and) we found that MEB is very much in line with the targets of Education 2030,” Khairil said in his keynote address at the Education 2030 Launch and Symposium here today.

Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid will launch the Education 2030 in Malaysia this evening.

Education 2030 is the main agenda in education at global level which must be achieved in the next 15 years, that is, in the year 2030.

The Education 2030 main objective is to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote life-long learning opportunities for all.

Speaking on the challenges to ensure Malaysia’s education system was on par with international standards, Khairil said these included continuous efforts to provide education for hard-to-reach children such as the special education needs children, the indigenous and other minority groups.

He highlighted that about one per cent of the population was identified as having special education needs, in comparison to the estimated 10 per cent of the global estimated average.

“This shows an underestimation of the special education needs children in this country. Efforts to scale up early detection and improve collaboration with the health ministry to ensure inclusive programmes at various level of education are currently in progress,” he said.


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Quick, cost-effective way to build schools

Sunday, August 21st, 2016

THE Education Ministry is considering using modular construction systems to build new schools or to upgrade them.

Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said the system also known as the industrialised building system (IBS), is efficient and speeds up construction time while producing better quality finish.

To make this happen, Mahdzir said he wants to discuss the matter with the Public Works Department. The system, he said has already gained broad acceptance in developed countries.

“If we use IBS, the cost may not touch RM50mil or RM60mil for 18 or 24 classrooms (per school),” he told reporters after officiating the World Education Games 2015 World Literacy Category prize-giving ceremony to Cempaka Schools’ students in Putrajaya on Wednesday.

Adding that a school’s design should fit its purpose, he said the adoption of IBS could bring prices down to anything from RM15mil to RM18mil per school.

Under the IBS regime, the major components of a building are fabricated in a factory or sheltered environment, where works can be carried out regardless of weather conditions. Fabricating the panels under these conditions also lead to a consistent finish as quality could be more easily monitored.

The parts and panels are then transported to the construction site, where they are then assembled.

“Times have changed, and schools do not need to be fancily designed,” said Mahdzir, who also hoped there will be a bigger allocation for underserved schools and school maintenance in next year’s budget.

“We will ask for funds for specific areas such as rewiring for old schools and water treatment facilities.”

On the suspension of water-based co-curricular activities in schools, Mahdzir said ministry officials will soon come up with a standard operating procedure (SOP) for such events.


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Old boys, new plans

Sunday, August 21st, 2016

One of the oldest schools in the country is set to get a facelift in the next few years.

IT is the norm for former students of a school to gather for the occasional catch-up session to reconnect. However, members of Victoria Institution’s Old Boys’ Association (VIOBA) have rolled up their sleeves to do much more.

Last year, the old boys launched a two-year master plan to modernise the 123-year-old school and bring back its glory days.

The physical transformation involves the rather straightforward task of refurbishing the premises.

On another level, there will be lots of goodies for students, not in the form of things, but in the form of motivational talks for students, as well as knowledge-sharing sessions with schools and universities.

This year, plans are in place for internship programmes, where post-Form Five students will be placed in various companies to gain work experience.

This master plan is being carried out by the (VIOBAF), an arm of the association formed in 1922. The foundation, which turns 50 this year, generates its own funds to provide financial assistance to deserving students and the school.

Driving the whole initiative is VIOBAF chairman Datuk Seri Andrew Abishegam, who studied at VI from 1977 to 1983.

“We enjoyed a fabulous time then. We have lots of fond memories and would like to give back to the school,” he said.

Abishegam added that his school days were not just about books and academic achievement.


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