Archive for March, 2017

Ministry: No fuel discounts allowed for now.

Friday, March 31st, 2017

PETALING JAYA: Petrol station operators will not be allowed to offer discounts on fuel for the time being, said Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry corporate communications head Akhtar Sahari.

However, he added that petrol station operators would be allowed to offer promotions in the future.

“For now, they must follow the retail price set by the Ministry. Yes, we will allow them to give discounts but not right now. We are unsure when the new measures will kick in,” he said.

He added that the Ministry would come up with a guideline to address concerns that such a move would affect low-volume petrol dealers.

Sahari also reminded consumers to be wary of smartphone apps displaying listings of fuel prices, saying these could be inaccurate.

On Thursday, the Ministry released a statement rubbishing rumours of a “price war” between petrol stations after screenshots of a smartphone app’s listing of lower fuel prices went viral.

The Ministry released a statement asserting that petrol stations are only allowed to sell fuel at the retail prices set by the Government.

Earlier this month, Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin announced that petrol station operators could either follow the set ceiling price under the new system, or offer lower fuel prices for promotional purposes, provided they had obtained prior approval from the ministry.

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Assimilation Of Science Fiction In Literature Helps Students Master Science

Friday, March 31st, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR, March 28 (Bernama) –�The assimilation of science fiction genre in literature will not only attract students to read but will also serve as the new platform for students to master science and technology.

Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said the assimilation of science fiction in literature was in line with the latest development in education.

“Science fiction gives a clear picture of the current education development of the country, which is aimed at ensuring the future generations are knowledgeable, smart and able to master various fields to achieve excellence in their lives.

“Today’s world is different from that about 30 years ago, past thinking may not be relevant to the world today…the world today needs higher thinking skills which combined creative innovations with digital technology,” he said.

He was speaking at the prize presentation and launching of the winning book of the 4th UTM-Kumpulan Utusan Science and Technology Fiction Novel Competition here today.

Mahdzir also praised Kumpulan Utusan and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) for organising the contest to promote local science fiction.


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Association urges authority to resolve diesel shortage issue

Thursday, March 30th, 2017


Simon (second left) flanked by his committee members, talking at the press conference

KOTA KINABALU: The KK Fishing Boat Owners Association urges the authority to resolve the shortage of subsidised diesel problem as soon as possible.

Its chairman, Simon Hong said that the problem has become more serious and is affecting some 140 fishing vessels in Kota Kinabalu.

According to him, subsidised diesel quota for fishermen has been reduced every month since January this year, and it is burdening them.

“We are getting supply from two jetties, one is at the SAFMA jetty, and the other one is in Sepanggar.

“But the quota given for the jetty in Sepanggar has been reduced from 900,000 litres in January, to 800,000 litres in February, and only 400,000 litres this month, and this is not enough,” he told a press conference here yesterday.

Apart from that, Simon said that the monthly quota imposed on every vessel has also been reduced from between 20,000 and 30,000 litres for each vessel to between 15,000 and 18,000 litres now, aggravating their sufferings. He said that the vessel operators had to resort to buying diesel at industrial rate of RM2.10 per litre.

“The subsidised diesel cost RM1.65 per litre, and now we are also buying industrial diesel but if the price of industrial diesel increase, we would have to stop our operations.

“We are trying to compensate that by increasing the prices of the catch when we can but this is affecting the market, and affecting consumers,” he added.

He also stressed that the lack of refuelling facility is also affecting their operation efficiency as only three vessels can be refuelled at a jetty at one time, and refuelling takes around one to two hours depending on the size of the vessel.


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Allow room for critical thinking

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

FIVE school teachers have been given show cause letters by the Education Ministry for being “excessively” critical of the Government in public forums and the like. I wish I could find out what they said; it would be nice to see what “excessive” is.

The Education Minister also said that civil servants should be loyal to the Government and any criticism should be done via the “correct channels”. But all this silencing of educators is not undemocratic, he says because it is done via the law – namely the General Orders which civil servants are bound by.

How quaint.

These are really old justifications that have been used for decades.

Firstly, one has to wonder what “proper channels” there are and whether they are effective or not. If these channels are not open to the public (and I am certain by “proper” it is meant “discreet”) then they can easily be ignored.

Secondly, just because a law exists to silence people, that does not make it right. A power provided by legislation can be just as undemocratic as an unfettered discretionary power.

These five teachers are facing the beginnings of disciplinary action for things which they did outside of the classroom. But the Youth and Sports Minister has chipped in saying that things done within the classrooms should not be used as a “political platform”.

Well, sure, it would be unseemly and inappropriate for any sort of political campaigning to be done in classrooms. Kind of pointless as well, since schoolchildren can’t vote.

But I wonder; what if a history teacher decides to point out the fact that Umno was late in joining the calls for independence and in fact the originator for that call was the Malayan Left. Would this be political?

And that is just within the context of schools. Universities offer courses and have departments whose entire purpose is to examine critically what happens in society, which includes what the Government does.

A Social Science Department that does not cover race-based policies in the country will not be doing its job. An economics department that does not explore the effect of corruption on the well-being of the country will not be doing its job. A law faculty that does not criticise unjust laws and judgments will not be doing its job.

However, recently, public universities have received a circular, once again written under the authority of legislation meant to control civil servants, where we have been told that we can’t say or do anything that could be deemed as manifesting disloyalty to King, country and government.

Well, I can tell you that makes my job as a Human Rights and Environmental Law lecturer very simple then.

I think I can just turn up to class for the rest of the semester with a guitar and sing Kumbaya with my students for an hour.

Of course I won’t do that. This is because my responsibility as a lecturer, and a teacher’s responsibility, is first and foremost to our students. Our job is to broaden their horizons and to show them not just what is, but what should be.

As long as what is being taught is backed up by good research and sound reasoning, then what is said should not be penalised.

If we do our jobs well, we produce thinking graduates and by this we serve the people and the nation. Not the Government.

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Ex-judge: Those guilty of corruption should be jailed.

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: Former Court of Appeal judge Datuk Mohd Noor Abdullah said those found guilty of corruption should be jailed instead of being fined a paltry amount compared to the vast sums of money gained from the crime.

He also slammed judges who mete out sentences in corruption cases which are not commensurate with the crime committed.

“What has happened to our judges?

“Corruption cases involving money end up being punished with fines, and the amount is such that the criminal can still profit after being fined. True or not?” Mohd Noor asked.

The former judge, who is a member of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s Anti-Corruption Advisory Board (ACAB), said he wants to remind judges that corruption cases often involve lots of money.

“But in some cases which go to court … What is the punishment?

“A fine. How much is the fine? It’s nowhere near the amount of money lost because of corruption.

“The sentence is sometimes not commensurate with the offence.

“So, send them (those found guilty of corruption) to prison, then we can say you are contributing to justice,” he said.


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Parents should discuss sexual issues with their teens.

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: The failure of parents to clearly communicate with children about sex is one of the reasons that teenagers engage in free sex.

Senior Lecturer of Educational Psychology and Counselling at Universiti Malaya Dr Norsafatul Aznin A. Razak said parents needed to be positive and open when discussing sexual issues with their adolescent children.

“The focus of the discussion is to equip them with information on underage sex, in addition to safeguarding their physical, mental and spiritual well-being,” she said.

She was commenting on a report of a Form 2 student in Malacca who confessed to having sex with multiple partners in and outside of school.

Dr Norsafatul said the influence of social media and ease of accessibility to information today have made teenagers more prone to going to the wrong source for information.

She said that the use of gadgets among children needed to be monitored.

“The issue can be avoided through open communication between parents and children.”

Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said the education system should be reviewed to address the increasing number of cases involving sexual activity among students.

She found it worrying that students were becoming bolder by engaging in sexual acts at school, which was supposed to be a hub of education, not of immoral activities.

Noor Azimah said teachers need to identify the troubled students and guide them.

“Parents also need to be more aware of their children’s activities and act quickly if their children are involved in such activities,” she said.

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Michelle Yeoh now a Commander of the Legion of Honour.

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017
KUALA LUMPUR: International movie star Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh is now a Commander of the Legion of Honour.

The Ipoh-born actress was conferred the title, the highest honour available to a non-French citizen, by French President François Hollande during a ceremony at the official residence of the French Ambassador here Tuesday evening.

The National Order of the Legion of Honour (Legion d’Honneur) is the highest decoration in France and rewards men and women, French or foreigners, for their exemplary services rendered to France or to the causes supported by France.

Established by Napoleon Bonaparte in 1802, it is divided into five ranks: Chevalier (Knight), Officier (Officer), Commandeur (Commander), Grand Officier (Grand Officer) and Grand Croix (Grand Cross).

Yeoh, 54, was first awarded the Chevalier title in 2007, and subsequently the Officer in 2012.

Other Malaysians who have been awarded the Commander title are the Sultan of Terengganu Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin when he was the 13th Yang di-Pertuan Agong, and AirAsia group chief executive officer Tan Sri Tony Fernandes.

Yeoh flew back for the ceremony from Toronto, where she is filming the upcoming Star Trek: Discovery TV series, in which she plays Captain Georgiou of the starship Shenzhou.

The new series will air later this year.

Yeoh studied dance and martial arts before being crowned Miss Malaysia/World in 1983, which led to a commercial with action star Jackie Chan and then a film career in Hong Kong.

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Cooperation From All Quarters Vital To Cultivate Interest On STEM – Mary Yap

Tuesday, March 28th, 2017

News Pic

KOTA BHARU, March 26 (Bernama) — The cooperation of all quarters is vital in instilling passion and creating awareness among students on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), said Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Mary Yap Kain Ching.

She said such a cooperation could be implemented via the National Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS) initiative where the relevant quarters in education would work together to plan and carry out activities, in order to achieve the objective.

“The country is facing a shortage of students who are keen on science and technology (subjects) at the school level, and the impact can be felt at the tertiary level.

“The objective of the country is to have a 60:40 ratio between science and non-science (stream) students, and this requires great efforts from all parties including the educators, parents and the society as a whole,” she told reporters after launching the Kelantan Chapter of the National STEM Movement, here today.

Also present were Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK) deputy vice chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Ibrahim Che Omar, who is also UMK Chapter National Professors Council (MPN) chairman; National STEM Movement chairman Prof Datuk Dr Noraini Idris; and State Education director Jaafar Ismail.


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Let’s get more women into aviation, says AirAsia CEO.

Sunday, March 26th, 2017
PETALING JAYA: Although low-cost carrier AirAsia Bhd and its long-haul sister company AirAsia X Bhd already have quite a number of women on board as pilots and engineers, it wants more.

The two companies have a total of 54 female pilots and 69 female engineers, but they are still actively trying to get more girls interested in pursuing careers in the aviation industry, said AirAsia Bhd chief executive officer Aireen Omar.

“We are working with (educational non-governmental organisation) Teach For Malaysia to bring students to our facility so that they can see what we do, learn about the women in AirAsia, get to experience our simulators, talk to our staff, and actually discover the opportunities available to them,” she said.

However, there was still so much to do to boost the participation of girls in science and technology, she said during her talk at the Women do Wonders (WOW) Talks and Bazaar at SEGi University in Kota Damansara here Sunday.

Aireen also highlighted AirAsia’s conviction that #girlscandoanything, pointing to the all-women crew of AK5110 that flew from Kuala Lumpur to Kota Kinabalu last month.

When she showed a picture and named all the women on that flight, from the pilot and cabin crew to the flight dispatchers and technicians, there was a huge roar of approval from the floor.

“This is actually very common at AirAsia because we believe that all our colleagues, regardless of gender, are capable of anything.

“Everyone comes from such diverse backgrounds, races and nationalities, but we all come together and work together,” she said.

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Rising unemployment among university graduates worrying

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

KOTA KINABALU: The latest report by Bank Negara shows that jobless youth are on the rise with a 10.7% youth unemployment rate in 2015, out of which 23% are university graduates.

DAP Socialist Youth (DAPSY) Policy Bureau Director Phoong Jin Zhe said this is worrying and needs to be addressed immediately.

Phoong highlighted in a statement yesterday that the report showed youth unemployment rates rising from 9.5% to 10.7%, out of the national unemployment rate which rose from 2.9% to 3.1%.

On top of that, among the youth between 15 to 24 years old, only 16% have received high education while the remaining 84% are only secondary school graduates.

Notably, 23% of the university graduates are unemployed, in which Bank Negara justified that this is due to the increase in low and mid-skilled jobs within the country, and at the same time local industries are heavily relying on cheap labour that leads to low cost production. These, Bank Negara says are the reasons university graduates are finding it difficult to find a suitable job despite being equipped with the skills and knowledge for such industries.

Phoong warned that if such a scenario continues, the brain drain and income gap between rich and poor will continue to be worsened, which will cause the country to lose its competitive capability in the long run.

Phoong also said that despite several transformation programs carried out by the government, no significant changes can be seen, which can lead youths to lose hope.

He blamed the local industries’ heavy reliance on cheap labour consisting of large groups of foreign labourers, by which job opportunities created need not be a high skilled profession, as the main reason why the brain drain problem continues to fracture the country’s youth development.

Phoong suggested that it is necessary for our country to undergo industrial upgrading whereby high-skilled jobs can be created and there are high value productions so that university graduates will have opportunity in the country.

He stressed that in order to give youth industries a chance, the practice of heavy reliance on low skilled cheap labour has to be stopped.

“This is the only way our country could achieve its innovative upgrades in order to produce world class productions, and someday we might even get the chance to have our own Nobel prize receiver, and lead the country to its highest potential,” he said.

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