Archive for November, 2016

Families of kidnapped fishermen told to raise RM2 mln

Tuesday, November 29th, 2016
A screen grab shows a group of Abu Sayyaf militants.

A screen grab shows a group of Abu Sayyaf militants.

TAWAU: The kidnap-for-ransom group have told the families of fishermen to seek help to raise the RM2 million ransom demanded if they value their loved ones.

“Kalau sayang keluarga kamu, carilah orang tolong (If you love your family, look for people to help),” Gustiah Sultan, whose husband Tayudin Anjut is one of those still held by the Abu Sayyaf gang, related the message she received from the kidnappers to the Democratic Action Party (DAP) leaders when they visited the families on Saturday.

She also told the visitors that the five victims that were separated by the Abu Sayyaf gang have been grouped back together.

Abdul Rahim Summas, 62, Tayudin Anjut, 45, Mohd Ridzuan Ismail, 32, Fandy Bakran, 26 and Mohd Jumadil Rahim, 23 were kidnapped on July 18 in the waters off Dent Haven, Lahad Datu.

“We have only managed to collect (from donations) RM130,000 at the moment and have pleaded to the kidnappers that is all we have managed to collect, but the kidnappers want RM2 million for all five to be released,” she told the DAP and Parti Keadilan members at her home in Tanjung Batu.

The families used Gustiah binti Sultan’s RHB bank account no. 11003700272503, to raise the ransom money, but hopes to collect the amount demanded at a short time seems impossible.

According to her, the kidnappers also told them to look for a middleman, which the family took as a sign that the kidnappers were willing to accept the money collected so far for the release. Unfortunately, it was not to be.

She said even though the amount was reduced from RM8.5 million to RM2 million, it is an impossible task for them to collect such amount as they are not rich and are only employed.

Moreover, she said the bread winners of the families are the ones being held and it is a tremendous pressure to the wives and children to look for the big amount of money.

Meanwhile, DAP member of parliament Lim Kit Siang who visited the victims’ family members, said he would bring up the matter to the government and for national attention in order to get the victims safely released.

by Alen Kee,

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Chilling and never-ending cases of child abuse For more stories:

Sunday, November 27th, 2016

HOW good are you with names? Are any of these familiar: Ainul Solehah Mohd Husamuddin, Cheah Kai Sze, Cheah Kai Wen and Mohd Roshamnudin Abdullah?

Unless you follow the local news closely and have an exceptionally keen memory for names, you are not likely to know any of them. It is highly possible that you have never seen their faces either.

And you most certainly have not heard anything about what they have achieved in life and how they have touched other people’s lives.

That is because they were young children who never had the chance to grow up to pursue their dreams.

Then again, maybe they never had much time to dream. Perhaps nightmares instead dominated their brief and probably joyless lives.

Each of them has died this year under suspicious and tragic circumstances. And the adults who were supposed to take care of these children have been charged with offences related to these deaths.

On Friday, we learned of another child in Sungai Petani, Kedah, who has slipped through the cracks and has become part of this unfortunate group.

We do not yet know the name of the two-year-old boy. The details available are that he had been allegedly beaten to death and his body was found two weeks later wrapped in a thin mattress, stuffed into a cooler box and covered with ice.

His four-year-old sister is in the hospital, with marks and injuries that suggest a horrific life of abuse and neglect.

The children’s mother and her boyfriend have been remanded until Wednesday to assist in police investigations.

Every couple of months or so, the story of violence against children rears its ugly head. The police move swiftly to nab the culprits. The politicians and the authorities do what they can to help those who survive the ill-treatment.

The Star Says

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Graduates urged to think out of the box

Sunday, November 27th, 2016

QUEST International University Perak (QIUP) held its second convocation ceremony, awarding degrees to 120 students from the Faculty of Business, Management and Social Sciences, and Faculty of Integrative Science and Technology earlier this week.

The convocation also saw the very first batch of Engineering, Master in Business Administration, Accountancy, Finance, Hospitality & Tourism, and Teaching English as a Second Language students receiving their degrees.

The graduating students from the Faculty of Business, Management and Social Sciences received their scrolls from the Chairman of the University Council Datuk Seri Dr Vijay Eswaran.

Vijay, who is also the co-founder and executive chairman of QI Group of Companies also presented the outstanding scholastic achievement award to Racheal Har Ann Li, who was announced as the valedictorian.

Addressing students during the convocation, Vijay encouraged the new graduates to always think outside the box and be different.

“If there is one thing I would like our students to have, as they leave this campus and go out there into the real world, it is the ability to not to simply be able to answer every question they encounter but rather to have the ability to question every answer”, he added.

Racheal, who gave a speech during the convocation, said that if God closes the door on something, he opens the window for something greater and if her case, he left it wide open.

“I’m forever grateful to the God almighty. I would like to dedicate this award to my mother, who has been an avid supporter during my studies.

“She is the anchor and fountain of common sense in my life. If my mother had not made the sacrifices, I definitely would not be standing here up today,” she told the crowd made up of QIUP Council members, faculty members, senior state government officials and students as well as their families.

Council member Tan Sri Megat Najmuddin Khas presented the scrolls for the diploma programme graduates while council member Kuna Senathirajah presented the scrolls for the graduates of Faculty of Integrative Sciences and Technology.

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Getting ready for International Education benchmarking

Sunday, November 27th, 2016

THE Malaysian primary and secondary education system will come under the spotlight next Tuesday when the TIMMS 2015 (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) result is released.

Either more good news or bad news will ensue one week later, when the result of the PISA 2015 (Programme for International Student Assessment) is released.

TIMMS is a large-scale survey to give an international overview on the teaching and learning in mathematics and science so that participating countries can make informed decisions about educational policy and practice. TIMSS conducts comprehensive assessments of mathematics and science for students in Year 4 and Year 8 (Form 2 in the Malaysian context), while taking into account data about country, school, and classroom learning environments.

First conducted in 1995, TIMSS reports every four years on the achievements of Year 4 and Year 8, and Malaysia has been participating in this exercise since 1999 by allowing its Form 2 students to be assessed by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), which in turn is directed by the TIMSS International Study Center at Boston College of the United States in collaboration with the network of organisations and representatives from participating countries.

In 2015, TIMMS surveyed the education systems across 39 countries, and in the case of Malaysia, the researchers randomly chose 9,726 students from 207 schools.

Meanwhile, PISA is administered by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) on 15-year-old pupils from more than 80 economies to determine their performance in mathematics, science, and reading.

In 2015, PISA assessors chose 9,660 students from 230 schools, also in random fashion to ensure good representation when Malaysia was compared to 71 other economies in the round of assessment focusing on science.

According to Dr Ahmad Rafee Che Kassim, deputy director at the Education Ministry’s Educational Planning and Research Division, these international benchmarking exercises are very different compared to school-based assessments (such as UPSR and SPM) as the latter are nationwide exercises involving everyone.

“TIMMS and PISA are about sampling a cohort of students, with the students chosen on a random basis by the agencies behind TIMMS and PISA.

When the results are announced, it can be extrapolated to the whole cohort. However, there won’t be factors like which one is the best performing state or school as it (global benchmarking) is not that kind of exercise,” he said in an interview last week at the ministry accompanied by his fellow deputy director from the same division, Dr Habibah Abdul Rahim.

For Dr Habibah, TIMMS 2015 is a test not just for students, but also for the primary and secondary education system.

“This was because the 2015 assessment came two years after we implemented the Malaysia Education Blueprint (2013-2025), where things like Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) were introduced. We shall see the outcome of this soon,” she said.

The Education Ministry’s cautious optimism at the impending release of these two global indices is understandable, as the country did not fare too well in the TIMMS 2011 and PISA 2012 cycles.

“Earlier on, we were above the international average (in TIMMS) by being in the top one-third of the grouping. But in 2011, we slid down to the bottom third, and that became a push factor for us. Our target is to claw our way back to the top-third by 2025. If we can see improvements in the latest results, it would be a great achievement for us,” said Dr Habibah.

In TIMMS 2011, Malaysia came out in the 26th place for Mathematics, and 32nd for Science, when compared to 44 other countries – placing


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Poor ratings for fresh graduates

Sunday, November 27th, 2016

IN a recent survey, employers expressed their dissatisfaction over the standard of fresh graduates today.

At least 70% of respondents said the standards of fresh graduates were just average.

The ratings were not linked to their academic qualifications but to their poor attitude and communication skills shown during interviews or at work.

Therefore, took the opportunity to launch its first Graduate Employability Programme in collaboration with INTI International University and Colleges (INTI) to tackle the issue.

The programme consists of four segments – a Career Corner, student ambassadors, career services and an executive review.

These segments function as a centre for students to prepare themselves for their first job. country manager Chook Yuh Yng congratulated INTI for its effort in empowering students to build bridges for their future careers as well as preparing them to enter the workforce.

“ is proud to have INTI as its partner to set up a Career Corner, making it easier and more accessible for students to get assistance on their first job,” she said.

INTI chief executive officer Rohit Sharma said the counselling skills received by its Career Services team and student ambassadors will enable them to work closer with its students be it through the preparation of resumes, mock interviews and providing feedback for the students’ improvement.

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Pact to prepare students for 21st century learning

Sunday, November 27th, 2016

THE Education Ministry and Microsoft Malaysia recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to encourage the use of ICT in teaching and learning.

This is in line with Shift 7 of the Education Blueprint 2013-2025 which aims to leverage on ICT to upgrade learning across the nation.

This partnership will see schools being equipped with resources, training, expertise and technologies.

Its goal is to empower students to incorporate ICT in their schoolwork and learning, and to prepare them for the 21st century. It would also provide teachers with tools, forums and resources to build communities where they can collaborate, as well as share ideas and best practices.

At the ceremony, Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said: “The ministry aspires to create an education system that prepares Malaysia’s children for the rapidly globalising world. We are actively pursuing innovations to integrate ICT into teaching and learning in a meaningful way that would address the needs of students and educators.”

He added that the partnership will play a pivotal role in realising the potential of ICT to upgrade learning across Malaysia.

The ministry will identify a range of schools – from high performance to rural schools – which will be a part of the Microsoft Showcase Schools Programme. These are defined as schools that are engaged in digital transformation to improve learning outcomes.

Once these schools have been engaged, Microsoft with the guidance of the ministry’s Educational Technology Division, will develop ICT-related resources such as content and tools to enhance digital literacy, and provide trainers to sharpen the digital skills of teachers.

The training would be based on Microsoft’s 21st Century Learning Design, which looks at aspects such as collaboration, self-regulation, knowledge construction, skilled communication and creativity, as well as problem-solving.

To encourage teachers, 100 educators will be selected and recognised as Microsoft Innovative Educators each year. This award will recognise educator visionaries who are using technology to pave the way for better learning and student outcomes.

Microsoft Malaysia managing director K. Raman said, “We applaud the efforts of the Education Ministry and are thrilled to build an effective platform for communication and collaboration amongst Malaysian school stakeholders together.”

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Start early to save up for tertiary studies

Sunday, November 27th, 2016
SAVING for one’s higher education must always be planned ahead, and not left until the eleventh hour. It is for this purpose that the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) recently launched an enhanced savings scheme called SSPN-i Plus.

SSPN-i Plus serves mainly as an education fund that also provides depositors with medical benefits and other forms of protection.

With the cost of education steadily rising, parents and students must be prepared to meet new demands and developments.

The corporation had earlier stated that parents must create savings accounts for their children at an early age instead of waiting until they were about to enter college.

Saving early helps parents plan for their children’s education and also acts an emergency fund in the event of unexpected situations.

Every individual should allocate some money for their savings and takaful, even if it is just a monthly contribution.

The aim of the scheme is to eliminate the common practice of saving at the last minute.

Introduced in May, SSPN-i Plus was designed as an improvised version of the SSPN-i account as it provides affordable and comprehensive takaful coverage to depositors from as low as RM30 per month.

There are medical benefits to be gained from the SSPN-i Plus savings plan.

Depositors are also eligible to enjoy a tax relief of up to RM12,000 per annum.

PTPTN also encourages the public to seize this opportunity by opening an account or by adding more deposits in either their SSPN-i or SSPN-i Plus accounts before Dec 31 to enjoy the tax relief this year.


Insurance up, again

Sunday, November 27th, 2016
Even as the Health Ministry and Bank Negara race towards slashing medical and insurance costs through various measures, Malaysians have to contend with another round of price hikes.

BARELY two years since the last price hike, policyholders are again forced to pay more for medical coverage as insurers battle with inflation.

A check with agents from several companies reveals that at least five insurers have either increased their charges and premiums or repriced their medical card, by up to a whopping 30% since early this year.

More are expected to follow suit, agents believe.

“My company planned to do it in July but it’s been deferred to next year. The hike is expected to be an average of RM15 per month for medical insurance. Another company was supposed to increase this year but after talking to their agents, decided to put it on hold,” a senior agent who only wants to be known as Rajini, shares.

One company implemented the higher rates of between 10% and 15% in January while another two repriced their medical cards by up to 30% recently, he adds.

In 2014, Sunday Star exclusively reported that faced with higher claims from rising medical costs, many insurance companies increased their charges and premiums by up to 20%.

Another senior agent who declined to be named says his company has been sending out letters to notify policyholders of a 10% to 30% hike since October.

Both agents have been in the industry for some 30 years.

Venting on Facebook with a row of angry emoji, one policyholder says his yearly premiums will increase by more than RM300 next year. He says the insurer sent a letter notifying him of the hike due to higher medical costs.

On Friday, a Petaling Jaya reader wrote to The Star saying that his insurer was raising his annual medical insurance premium by RM300. Policyholders shouldn’t have to pay a higher premium because insurers would have factored in inflation when coming up with the yearly premium table, he opined. And, as coverage is capped, any hike in medical costs just means that the policyholder will reach the cap faster. The perception that medical costs have increased, he felt, could be due to some medical practitioners who inflate the costs for insured patients.


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SK Seri Gaya recognised litter-free for the third time

Saturday, November 26th, 2016

KOTA KINABALU: Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Sri Gaya was recognised as School Without Litter for the third time in the city, and also Malaysia.

According to Mayor Datuk Yeo Boon Hai, the school’s participation in the City Hall Anti-Litter campaign is very important as such cooperation is the best strategy to improve the city’s cleanliness level.

“As I always remind and emphasise, the concept of zero-waste means there is no longer dumped garbage all over the place.

“Almost every day City Hall actively improves the cleanliness of the City. However City Hall alone is not capable of changing the situation. Therefore, with the schools’ involvement, we hope the values of loving and keeping the environment clean will be upheld by the younger generation,” Yeo said during the ceremony held at the SK Seri Gaya.

“We know contaminated areas not only look bad, but it also have a negative impact on society and could lead to a number of diseases. Thus, the cooperation of all parties is needed to fulfill the mission on becoming litter-free city, so that we can provide a clean environment for future generations,” he added.

Yeo conveyed this in his speech which was delivered by City Hall deputy Director-General (Management Services) Bahari Hassan.


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KB school hopes upsidedown KDM hut will attract

Saturday, November 26th, 2016

Kota Belud: A primary school here, SK Sayap, has gained its own achievement of excellence by introducing an Eco-Tourism Mini Park comprising six shelters, one of them an upside hut based on a traditional KadazanDusun house.

The mini park was built by the school’s Parents and Teacher Association (PTA) as an effort to generate funds and at the same time create an informative, innovative and creative environment for its learning and teaching programme.

The school’s eco-tourism park is now open with an entrance fee of RM1. A river-based eco-tourism park of Kg Talungan is also located not far from Kg Sayap.

Upko Kota Belud divisional chief Ewon Benedick, who launched the mini park, is confident it would become another tourism attraction at Kg Sayap which all this while has been known for its mountain forest, fresh water and nature based tourism activity in the district.

“The efforts taken by the SK Sayap PTA was most welcome and should be supported as they have initiated a good programme where they can generate additional funds, apart from their annual fees, to help finance activities of excellence.

“I am of the opinion that this effort should be emulated by other schools on how they can generate their own funds within the school boundary,” he said.

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