Archive for March, 2017

‘2 Malaysian hostages expected to return home soon’

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

KOTA KINABALU: The two Malaysian seamen who were freed by their kidnappers after being held hostage for eight months are expected to return home in due time.

Sabah Deputy Police Commissioner Datuk Razarudin Husain said Tayudin Anjut and Abdurahim Sumas would be brought home soon with the cooperation of their Philippine counterparts.

“The Royal Malaysia Police are working closely with our Philippine counterparts to bring both men back home and they are expected to arrive safely soon,” he said at the 210th Police Day celebration at the State Police Headquarters in Kepayan yesterday.

Tayudin, 45, and Abdurahim, 62, were abandoned by Abu Sayyaf gunmen before dawn near their coastal forest hideout on the remote island of Pata.

They were found in a weak and sick state by a Philippine Navy patrol boat, eight months after they were abducted along with three other crewmen, Mohd Zumadil Rahim, 23, Fandy Bakran, 26, and Mohd Ridzuan Ismail, 32, from a tugboat that was stormed by gunmen near the sea borders between Sabah and Philippine waters.

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Leaping with technology

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

SJK (T) Ladang Edinburgh in Kepong, Kuala Lumpur became the first Tamil school in Malaysia to receive YTL Foundation’s Frog Classroom makeover.

The new classroom is equipped with the Frog VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) platform and the programme’s hallmark curved tables, designed to make it easier for pupils to interact with each other and hold group discussions to promote collaborative learning.

The Frog Classroom Programme is an initiative by YTL Foundation in collaboration with FrogAsia, provider of the Frog VLE, under the Education Ministry’s 1BestariNet project.

“This concept is close to my heart because I believe it will bring change in our education system and boost our country’s education landscape,” said Deputy Education Minister Datuk P Kamalanathan during the launch of the classroom.

School headmistress Theresa Ayyakkannu also believes that the Frog programme will improve the quality of education in the country, as it promotes holistic learning beyond the traditional classroom setting.

To observe its effectiveness, Kamalanathan joined an English lesson taught by Salini Armugam, who was discussing folk tales with her pupils. During the lesson, pupils uploaded presentations of selected legends and shared their thoughts about the stories.

“What we witnessed today is how this Frog Classroom can be used as a catalyst for 21st century learning. This afternoon, we had a glimpse of how classroom learning can be further supported through assigned work via the Frog VLE, as well as self-paced practice via quizzes on Frog Play,” said Kamalanathan.

The world of learning continues to evolve rapidly and it is encouraging to see how everyone is playing their part, he added.

He also commended the school’s leadership, teachers and parents for coming together to provide pupils with a learning experience that supports their different needs.

The Frog Classroom, after all, is made possible via a collaboration between different parties. YTL Foundation works together with teachers, parents and students from selected schools to raise the approximately RM9,000 to RM10,000 needed to build a Frog Classroom. In some cases, corporate sponsors chip in by donating funds.

Partnerships between YTL Group and others have enabled YTL Foundation to build 120 Frog Classrooms throughout Malaysia.

Parents also play a role in the Frog VLE programme. They will be given an ID with where they can follow the activities of their children in school, check results, access school reports, and get the latest bulletins from the Education Ministry.

They can also find out about upcoming events and download necessary forms, documents and study material.

The Frog Classroom will not just benefit the 300 pupils of SJK (T) Ladang Edinburgh. Schools with Frog Classrooms are also Frog hubs, where teachers from other schools can meet and share the best ways to utilise technology in teaching and learning.

“They can use the hub for hands-on training, learn about technology, get community support and share lesson plans so they won’t be working in silo,” said YTL Foundation programme manager (corporate and CSR initiative) Alexander Au-Yong Wai Weng.

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It’s your poor attitude, youths told

Sunday, March 26th, 2017
GEORGE TOWN: Fresh graduates cannot find jobs after completing their studies because they have attitude problems.

StudyExcel Sdn Bhd general manager Jerry Tan (pic) said some blamed the employers for not giving them a chance because they are fresh graduates.

“Is that true? The Malaysia Employers Federation said there are about 200,000 unemployed graduates in the country.

“Many employers are not concerned whether you are a fresh graduate or whether you obtained your degree in Malaysia or overseas.

“They just care if you are good,” he said in his talk on ‘Options After SPM: Choosing The Right Subjects & Pathways’ at the Star Education Fair yesterday.

He added that 68% of employers think that fresh graduates have unrealistic expectations of salaries and employment benefits.

“I once interviewed three students from a college who asked for the same salary.

“When I asked them why they made that request, they said their lecturer told them they must get that kind of salary,” he said.

Besides their poor attitude, Tan said most fresh graduates were unemployed because of their poor English and poor communication skills.

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Lessons on leadership

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

TO be an effective and credible leader, one must hold on to the values of integrity, said Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Dr Mary Yap to a packed room of 300 students at City University, Petaling Jaya.

Dr Yap was speaking at the varsity’s eighth Distinguished Speakers Series where she presented a talk tittled “Leadership in Practice: D.E.F.F.R.A.C”.

The speakers series started in 2015 and is aimed at encouraging the students and staff of the varsity to interact with the outside world.

Dr Yap said: “A leader is a person who has integrity and the two important attributes of being a leader of integrity is sincerity and honesty.”

She shared that as a school principal, she allowed her teachers and staff to give critical comments on her leadership.

“If I were to advise or comment on my teachers’ or staff behaviour, why can’t they comment or advise me?

“Listening is very important,” she said, adding that there are different levels of leadership and that students must not think of leaders as those holding top positions.

On DEFFRAAC, Dr Yap said it is important to delegate work among one another.

However, it is not useful if a person merely delegates without empowering the other.

“When you empower, it means you are instilling the element of trust in your team members.

Dr Yap said the double “F” in DEFFRAAC is crucial.

“Most institutions fail because they miss the follow up and follow through.

“As a leader, you have to follow up and follow through,” she said.

Speaking passionately, Dr Yap said reflection is an important practice whereby one has to find lessons learnt upon participating in an activity.

“Reflecting without follow up action is not going to be useful.

“You have to act to find solutions to address the weaknesses that you have identified,” she said, adding that an effective leader needs to have effective communication.

She said students are the future of the country and commended City University for exposing its students to such talks.

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Sabah school records top results

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

SMK Nabawan, a school located some 200km from Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, has recorded the best ever result for STPM in 2016 which saw increases in both the passing rate and school grade point average.

“We achieved a 96.6% passing rate in 2016, the highest since the school commenced Lower Six classes in 2011.

“The school Grade Point Average (GPA) also increased every year from 1.40 in 2012 to 2.37 in 2016,” said school principal Hendry Anandan.

Sports Science and Visual Arts recorded 100% passes while Malay Language, History, Geography, Sports Science and Malay Literature, recorded an improved grade point average in 2016 compared to the previous year. History in particular has recorded a better grade point average five years in a row.

The top student, Jack Joseph, scored 3As and 1A- with a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of 3.92. This ranks him among the best STPM candidates in the state.

“What is more remarkable is Jack managed to achieve his success while caring for his late father who was hospitalised for a period of time last year. This is certainly an inspiring example for other students,” said Hendry.

Besides academic success, SMK Nabawan also achieved a first in co-curricular activities by winning the overall championship in the Sabah state level Form Six Special Carnival in September 2016. This was where Jack displayed his all-round ability by being crowned as the best speaker in the public speaking competition. In addition, the school won the Team Chess and the Song and Dance Choreography events to emerge overall champions.

“Good support by the parents and community played an important part in the success of the students. “For example, the good turnout by parents during Meet the Clients Day and also contributions by the parent-teacher association for school programmes.”

Hendry also congratulated the dedicated team of Form Six lecturers for their outstanding work in moulding the students to become achievers in both academic and co-curricular fields.

“I pray they will achieve even better success in the coming years,” he added. He also recorded his appreciation to former Senior Assistant of Form Six, Alvin Chan Seng Chai for his services.

Jack, who is currently working in the peninsula to save money for further education, expressed his thanks to his family and teachers for helping him to achieve success.

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Going the extra mile

Sunday, March 26th, 2017

FORMER fifth former P. Yallene went the extra mile when she scored A for Tamil Literature in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination last year, although the subject was not taught in her school.

Now 18, the former SMK Taman Tasek Mutiara student also turned out to be the school’s top SPM scorer by scoring 5A+, 5A and an A- in the exam.

Although much of her success in the Tamil Literature subject is attributed to the fact that the school does teach Tamil Language, which she scored an A+ in, Yallene said she would not be able to pull off the feat without guidance and proper revision.

“We have four periods, or two hours of Tamil language subject taught in the school every week, but the teaching covers grammar and essay writing.

“To get assistance in Tamil Literature which covers novels, poems and drama, I asked for advice and extra lessons from the Tamil language teachers.

“I’m thankful for having Ms. Prema and Ms. Uma Devi in school for their help,” she said in an interview at her home last Tuesday.

Yallene also said that due to the new format in Tamil Literature introduced last year, there was little reference that she could obtain outside of school.

“There are no past-year exam questions to try out. Even reference books are limited at bookstores.

“I’m glad for the help and support from everyone in guiding me,” she added.

Asked about her secret, she said studying hard and paying attention was key, besides the willingness to always seek help from teachers.

“I also attended tuition for all the subjects, seven days a week.

“It was very tiring, but the reward is worth it,” she said.

Yallene said she has applied for various scholarships including from the Public Service Department. She hopes to pursue medicine and become a doctor.

Her parents who are both teachers also expressed pride in her success.

Her father A. Pandiyan, 47, who is a Maths teacher in SMK Simpang Ampat said he was happy with Yallene’s success and hopes that she will never give up learning her mother tongue.

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Poor English skills a major complaint in every industry

Saturday, March 25th, 2017
GEORGE TOWN: Employers have voiced their concerns over the poor command of English among new graduates entering the job market.

Star Media Group Berhad editor-in-chief Datuk Leanne Goh (pic) said it was no secret that English proficiency was one of the vital skills lacking among Malaysian graduates.

“We see that is the major complaint in every industry,” she said in her speech during the opening of the Star Education Fair 2017 at SPICE Arena on Saturday.

Quoting Alibaba Group founder and executive chairman Jack Ma, Goh said there is a need for people to think creatively, to be innovative and to really imagine.

“These are the traits that we need to empower our kids with,” Goh said.

She then presented testimonials from past scholarship recipients of the Star Education Fund.

“We have given away RM108.3mil to 3,582 scholarship recipients since the fund was established 1994.

“This year, we have 29 partners-in-education which pledged a total of 272 scholarships valued at RM13mil.

“From this, Penangites will receive 53 scholarships worth over RM1mil from five of our partners-in-education,” she said.

She thanked the five institutions from the northern region – Equator College, KDU Penang University College, Sentral College Penang, MSU College Penang and Sunway College Ipoh – for their pledge to contribute to the Star Education Fund.

Goh then welcomed three new partners-in-education namely Quest International University Perak, Oriental Nilam College of Nursing and Health Sciences and Malaysian Institute of Art this year. (2017)

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Suhakam faults govt

Saturday, March 25th, 2017

Kota Kinabalu: The Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) suggests that enforcement by the relevant government agency should in future be quick and efficient against those it deems to be “squatting” in forest reserves.

“The authorities should not wait until people have settled on the site for many years before evicting them.

The relevant authorities should regularly monitor the situation and inform people as early as possible that they have trespassed into a forest reserve,” said Heflin Dino (pic), case investigation officer cum Assistant Secretary of Suhakam Sabah Office.

It was not known why previous State Governments had failed to act on the matter and the Forestry Department had lamented that those who could have done so earlier did not.

It also proposed a review of domestic land laws and other related laws and policies, with a view to incorporating a human rights focus therein, addressing, in particular, the problems faced by indigenous peoples in their land claims.

The proposals follow a ground investigation of Kg Bobotong in Tongod, where 16 out of 60 structures of villagers were demolished by the Forestry Department on March 16 for what the latter said was squatting on a gazetted forest reserve.

However, the villagers told Suhakam that their forbears had applied for the land back in 1984, but the LA (land application) was rejected by the Forest Department as fake.

The villagers claim to have been living in the village for 38 years and pointed to graveyards, fruit trees, and other agricultural and commercial crops planted by them. They further claimed that they had been living there before the area was gazetted as a forest reserve.

In its preliminary report, the commission confirmed that mostly houses had been demolished and not huts and “sulaps” as claimed by the Department.

The Commission’s other recommendations are for the Government to excise the area on the grounds that the people had already settled there before it was gazetted as a forest reserve.

The commission also recommended that in the event the people are found to have indeed encroached into the forest reserve, the government should consider treating it on a case-by-case basis depending on circumstances, taking into consideration such facts as the length of time they have been living in the area.

Heflin said Suhakam would bring up its preliminary report to the Sabah Forestry Department next week.

Suhakam Act 597 4(1) states its duty ‘to inquire into complaints regarding infringements of human rights’ referred to section 12 of the Act, an investigation has been conducted by the Commission.

Malaysia is a signatory to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

The declaration requires states to consult and cooperate in good faith with indigenous peoples in order to obtain their free, prior and informed consent before adopting and implementing legislative or administrative measures that may affect them.

Under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People Article 8 (2) (b) the states shall provide effective mechanisms for prevention of, and redress for: Any action which has the aim or effect of dispossessing them of their lands, territories or resources and Article 10 Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands or territories.

by Leonard Alaza.

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Weekly fuel prices to take effect every Thursday.

Wednesday, March 22nd, 2017

PETALING JAYA: Motorists will have to keep an eye on the changes of petrol and diesel prices every Wednesday, following an announcement of the weekly petrol and diesel pricing mechanism by the Domestic Trade, Co-operation and Consumer Affairs Ministry.

Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin made the announcement on RTM’s TV1 5pm news on Wednesday, and said that the new mechanism would allow consumers to enjoy a more stable retail price for fuel compared to the monthly pricing currently in use.

The new mechanism will come into effect on March 29.

Weekly fuel prices will be announced every Wednesday and the new price will be enforced the next day.

“The first announcement will be on Wednesday, March 29, which is next week and the new petrol and diesel prices will be enforced on March 30,” he said.

Hamzah also said fuel station operators will be allowed to give discounts on fuel, provided that prior permission is obtained from the ministry.

“Station operators are reminded to adhere to the new prices and serious action will be taken against those who do not,” he said.

Hamzah said the ministry had had several consultations with oil companies, station operators, non-governmental organisations and other relevant parties before coming up with the change in the pricing mechanism.

This was later presented to the Cabinet and the weekly price mechanism was approved on Feb 22.

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Maintain good cognitive health

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

We should use our minds fully as mental inactivity can hinder our development mentally, emotionally, physically and socially.

TAKING good care of cognitive health is something unthinkable for many. The majority of us would find it strange with what cognitive health is, and some would even be wondering what cognition has to do with health and well-being.

What is cognition, why is it necessary to take good care of one’s cognition or cognitive status, and what are the steps to maintain good cognitive health?

Cognition is a hypothetical construct, accepted as one of the most fundamental elements of human beings, besides emotional and physical components. Generally, cognition is understood as a platform where all mental processes take place.

The platform resides within the most delicate and sensitive human organ, i.e., the brain. Upon cognition rest mental processes such as attention and concentration, perception, remembering, thinking and reasoning, decision-making, problem-solving, planning, and so on.

They are also understood as higher-order cognitive processes, because they help humans to function as they are supposed to, they help define what humans are and thus, differentiate between humans and non-human entities.

The mental processes are highly important to ensure the survival of humans in this life. Therefore, for the cognitive processes to be functioning effectively and efficiently, they have to be well managed, and their health status always in check.

This is similar to physical health and emotional well-being that are required so that humans can function as well as they possibly can. For this reason, everyone should bear in mind that cognitive health is defined as the ability of the brain to function and perform all mental processes required with full capacity, healthily, and efficiently.

Cognitive health is not mental health or mental illness, but it determines the health of everyone’s mental, emotional and physical health. One’s physical and emotional states affect cognition and vice-versa.

Similarly, when cognition is not healthy or is dysfunctional, one cannot function as one used to, because one’s mind has lost its ability to guide one to behave as a human.

Even so-called normal human beings may have their cognitive abilities dysfunctional, which affects their life for the worse. In addition, weak cognitive functions and abilities may affect the pattern of human relations and interaction negatively.

Why does human cognition become dysfunctional? There are many reasons that are responsible for the dysfunctioning of human cognition and mental capacities that later affect general human health and well-being.

One of them is cognitive inactivity. This refers to the inability of a person to fully utilise his mental capacity in order to promote productivity and bring or create an energetic environment for his life.

Mental inactivity occurs when someone does not stimulate his mental ability as required and that will result in mental lethargy and later on hinder the full functioning of a person mentally, emotionally, physically, as well as socially. Even the milliseconds of mental inactivity may lead to some damage to the person and his environment.

For example, while driving in a car on a massively congested road, when someone is not fully attending to his environment or being distracted, it may lead to an accident. In fact, long periods of mental inactivity are proven to damage brain plasticity and deterioration of brain functions.

Furthermore, a situation when a person is, to a certain extent, perplexed with personal or social issues that limit their mental capacity from functioning fully is dangerous since it may lead to sad consequences and even fatalistic phenomena.

An example of such a situation includes personal emotional distress, or when one is being inflicted with emotional and mental health issues. Among them are depression and anxiety attacks.

In fact, outbursts and impulsive and uncontrollable anger also incur bad consequences for humans due to the limited mental capacity they bring on. One with depression runs out of one’s productive time by thinking a lot on the dark side of his experiences and throwing away the bright side of his life.

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