Archive for September, 2018

Schools to modernise classrooms

Sunday, September 30th, 2018
Palestinian children use laptops at the Ziad Abu Ein School in the West Bank city of Ramallah. — AP

Palestinian children use laptops at the Ziad Abu Ein School in the West Bank city of Ramallah. — AP

Educators hope the use of technology and the arts will create new opportunities in a society that has produced large numbers of unemployed college graduates

AS the teacher pointed to the large touch screen, her first-grade classroom came alive. With the click of a link, an animated character popped up on the screen, singing and dancing as it taught the children how to read.

The day’s lesson was the Arabic letter “Raa,” and the screen displayed cartoon pictures of objects that contain the letter _ desert, chair and pomegranate _ as the teacher asked the children to come up with other words. The students smiled and sang along.

Just a few years ago, such scenes were unthinkable in most Palestinian classrooms. Like elsewhere in the Arab world, schools in the Palestinian territories have traditionally emphasised memorisation and obedience over critical thinking and creativity.

“The students don’t need to memorise things. They need to understand first,” said Ruba Dibas, the principal of the Ziad Abu Ein School in the West Bank city of Ramallah. “Then they need to express their understanding through writing, speaking, drawing, acting.”

Ziad Abu Ein is one of 54 “smart teaching schools” introduced last year. This year, the number tripled. By 2020, all 1,800 public schools in the West Bank are to be part of the programme.

Dibas said the goal is to eliminate testing from the classroom. Instead, she said students need to enjoy the learning process to absorb information.

On a recent day, her school was buzzing with activity.

In a fifth-grade classroom, each child had a tablet and the teacher guided them through an Arabic lesson, using her own tablet to give assignments. Third-grade students went to the smart board, playing a game to learn the multiplication table.

In other classes, students drew cartoons to learn the physics of how airplanes fly. An English class did a project about evaporation.

Four third-graders recently learned about self-esteem in a lesson called “learning by drama.” They performed a short skit about a shy girl who discovers a passion for journalism and grows up to become a successful reporter.

Their teacher, Sawsan Abdat, said the children learned an important lesson that day _ that they need to find what they are good at.

After initial scepticism from parents last year, enrolment at the school has nearly doubled. This year’s first grade has nearly tripled to 43 students.

“I love the school,” said Malak Samara, a nine-year-old fourth grader. “We learn and enjoy. We learn and play.”

These techniques are a radical departure from a system in which generations of students were forced to memorise information and cram for exams under the stern watch of an authoritarian teacher who in some cases would beat them with a stick if they could not complete their work.

But with the unemployment rate for new college graduates hitting 56 percent, according to the Palestinian Statistics Bureau, officials realised that something had to change.

Education Minister Sabri Seidam also introduced vocational training in grades seven, eight and nine last year to meet the needs of the market.

“Society needs singers, carpenters, cleaners, athletes, sergeants,” he said. “We can’t just produce engineers and doctors.”

Youth unemployment, particularly among university graduates, is a major problem across the Arab world.

Arab governments used to absorb new graduates, often in civil service jobs, but they can no longer afford to do that, in part because of the region’s “youth bulge.”

The private sector offers limited opportunities, leaving large numbers of young graduates unemployed throughout the Middle East and North Africa.

“There is no greater challenge facing the MENA region in its efforts to build a future based on inclusive growth than job creation,” the International Monetary Fund said in a report early this year. It noted that 60 percent of the region’s population is under 30, the world’s second-youngest after sub-Saharan Africa.

“Pressures on the region’s labour markets are rising. In the past five years, the region’s working-age population increased by 50.2 million, and 27.6 million people joined the labor force. Yet employment increased by only 25.4 million,” it said.

Others in the Mideast have tried to make similar changes. In Egypt, the largest Arab country, the Education Ministry this year is providing students with tablets, along with a new curriculum that enhances critical thinking.

The ministry said it is also trying to improve the level of instruction by increasing training and wages for teachers, building more classrooms and creating a more modern classroom through digital learning facilities. The government this year secured a US$500mil (RM2.09bil) loan from the World Bank to help fund the reforms.

For now, it appears too soon to say whether the reforms can make a difference.

The region’s authoritarian governments might encourage education reforms as an economic necessity but could balk in the future at efforts to nurture a new generation versed in critical thinking. Schools across the Arab world face other obstacles as well. A 2015 study by the UN culture and education agency Unesco talked about chronic underfunding, a lack of qualified teachers and increased class sizes throughout the region.

Syrian schools have been devastated by a seven-year civil war, while many schools in neighbouring Lebanon have been overwhelmed by Syrian refugees. US cuts in funding to the UN agency for Palestinian refugees have jeopardised the school year for some 500,000 students, most of them in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. And Israel’s half-century occupation of the West Bank, along with a decade-long blockade over Gaza, continues to stifle the Palestinian economy.

“Education in the Arab world is in a very bad condition. The salaries of teachers are very poor, the classes are overcrowded, and schools lack the essential infrastructure,” said Saeda Affouneh, director of the E-Learning Center at al-Najah University in the West Bank.

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Driving home a love for English

Sunday, September 30th, 2018

What started as a simple programme to teach rural children English is now an annual affair that brings the community and university student volunteers together for fun-filled language activities

NO child should be left behind in education, especially when it comes to learning English.

Even if they come from rural areas and do not have access to fancy tuition centres or top notch English teachers in schools, these children deserve to have the same opportunities as their peers in urban areas of Malaysia.

One for the album as everyone involved got together for the Reading Bus English Camp.

One for the album as everyone involved got together for the Reading Bus English Camp.

Based on this philosophy, Reading Bus Club founder Cheli Nadarajah, 58, started providing English language lessons to children from rural areas throughout Malaysia.

For the past five years, Nadarajah together with his Reading Bus Club team, Sunway University and the people of Ijok have been organising the Reading Bus English Camp for primary school pupils of Ijok.

“We just want to encourage them to use English,” he says.

This year, the camp was divided into four sections – grammar, vocabulary, storytelling and reading – for Years Four and Five pupils.

Student volunteers from Sunway University and cultural exchange students from Lancaster University, England, became the facilitators and “teachers” for the pupils in each classroom.

The short, 30-minute lessons were kept informal so that it did not feel like ordinary, boring school English language classes.

At the storytelling station, the adult students captivated their young audience with the tale of the Princess and The Pea, complete with costumes and sound effects.

The pupils were not allowed to remain passive and watch the show though.

They were asked to read along from a booklet and even take on some roles in the play.

All of this was to encourage the children to speak in English and have fun with it.

The grammar lessons involved throwing a paper ball and the pupil that catches it would be asked to name their favourite food, colour or animal.

Those who shared the same favourites would then group together to learn about verbs.

In 2014, Lancaster University students joined the camp making the collaboration with Sunway University even more meaningful.

This year, 14 cultural exchange students got the opportunity to interact with the children.

Nadarajah (left) tells Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (second from left) and Dr Idris (third from left) about the English camp.

Nadarajah (left) tells Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (second from left) and Dr Idris (third from left) about the English camp.

Among them was Samia Durrani, 21, who felt even more inspired to help the children after a talk with Nadarajah.

“We were really excited to come here and teach the children, just to give something back to the community,” she says, adding that she was in the grammar classroom.

Also from Lancaster University was Masters student Hayley Keohane, 22.

For her, the best part of helping out was watching the children’s faces light up with smiles as they read the books provided by the Reading Bus Club.

“We only spent 30 minutes with each group which doesn’t seem like a lot of time but it has such a positive impact.”

Former Sunway University degree in psychology student Ng Jia Yi, 22, was one of the key figures in organising the materials for this edition of the English Language Camp.

Now an intern at Sunway University, she says this year, the camp was held for Years Four and Five pupils who came from all over Ijok

For 22-year-old Wong Shang Cheong, he says it was important for them as volunteers to instil in the pupils the importance and relevance of the English language.

He says that for some of the children, English is just another language subject taught in schools and there were some pupils in his grammar group that were completely uninterested in what was going on.

The Sunway University student does not blame the children though. Instead, he took it as a challenge to try and engage them in their grammar activity which had the children filling in sentences with the correct verbs.

“For me, I picked up English quite easily (in school) but for them, we could see the (confidence) barrier there and we have to be really patient with them,” he adds.

Sunway University Financial Analysis student Jason Wee Khui Yi, 22, said teaching the Year Four pupils grammar, even if it was just for half an hour, was “a meaningful and memorable event”.

He even bonded with some of them and was surprised at how receptive they were to a lesson on verbs.

Sunway University psychology student Sandra Khoo Huiyong, 21, says she was lucky to have grown up in an environment that let her immerse in the English language.

An opportunity, she adds, that these rural children do not have.

“If not for the Reading Bus Club, they (the pupils) would not get the chance to read English books.

Seeing these children enjoy and learn through what we have done today was the best part.”

There were three Reading Bus Club volunteers also present at this edition of the camp.

Angela Beh Chun Mei, 18, says she found it interesting that the children in these rural areas have a different understanding and knowledge of things.

“To share with them our knowledge and to interact with them has been a special experience,” she adds.

Although Beh and another volunteer Shasa Tan Tsuen Yi, 17, are busy with school, they try to volunteer with the team every few months.

Tan says they sometimes help conduct the ice-breaking sessions and activities like reading and grammar lessons.

Both volunteers even managed to squeeze in some studying in between helping out at the camp.

For Kelly Yee Min Li, 22, her favourite part about volunteering with the Reading Bus Club are the answers she sometimes get from the pupils.

“Kids say the cutest things,” she adds with a laugh.

Nadarajah started the Reading Bus Club in Sarawak together with his wife Kong Lai Mei, 57, in 2009.

Contrary to what people might think, the Reading Bus is not an actual bus.

In fact, it is just a name that “stuck”, says Nadarajah.

He explains that the name “Reading Bus” came about because in Sarawak, the children would call anything that was larger than a car, a “bus”.

Response has been good with the number of pupils at the half-day camp increasing every year.

Although their command of the language is very weak, Nadarajah says: “We find that most of the children are interested and know English but they find it difficult to respond back.”

“We have most of the children replying to us in their native language but our volunteers will respond in English.

“Language acquisition happens this way, the more you hear, the more you will be able to speak it.”

For Ijok assemblyman Dr Idris Ahmad, the camp has been a blessing for the “underprivileged children” of Ijok.

“When I first came here, I found that the level of education and the education facilities were very much lacking compared to the towns,” he says.

Hi wife Mariah Abdul Karim says the local children could barely count to 20 in English.

Dr Idris adds that there has been a marked improvement in the language proficiency of the pupils but it isn’t only due to the camp.

The Reading Bus Club also conducts fortnightly English lessons for the children and have stocked books for loan at the ADUN office.

by Rebecca Rajaendram
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Importance of Online Marketing for Education Sector Industry

Saturday, September 29th, 2018

The education sector has become more competitive and sophisticated than ever before. This is due to the increase in the number of digital marketing agencies. In today’s era of competition, institutions need to adapt to effective digital marketing strategies to go through new changes. Nowadays, the invention of the internet has totally changed the way people consume products, especially the ones related to education. Although we haven’t reached the point where digital marketing has obscured traditional marketing entirely, the Indian context offers a promising premise – especially if we take the example of the education industry.

But why is digital marketing becoming an important part of the education industry?

Digital marketing for education is becoming a promising platform due to the increase of web and digital media in the education sector. This sector has transformed entirely, and this is partly due to the widespread access that people have due to the internet. Therefore, educational industries should keep this in mind and work on their digital presence to reach a large number of students & parents with ease. This is one of the many reasons why digital marketing is considered to be the best option when it comes to reaching out to both students and parents.

Here are some reasons why you should consider the utilization of digital marketing for your institution-

1. Cost-effective

Digital marketing is very cost-effective; it is the best medium to attract a broader audience at little to no cost. With the help of an educational marketing agency, the institution can get excellent results with smaller investments and can also avail services like search engine optimization, social media marketing, mobile marketing and email marketing. It implies that educational institutes can focus on a more significant audience at a low cost, and achieve greater benefits.

2. Enhance Brand Awareness

Digital marketing is the best way to generate brand awareness through social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc., as they comprise a greater section of the audience. This can help enhance followers and improve the conversion rate as well.

3. Facilitates performance tracking

You can track campaign performance with the help of relevant digital marketing tools, which can help extensively when it comes to measuring and tracking the overall effectiveness of your marketing campaign. This marketing strategy can also be changed if the statistics of the institution are on a low. Digital marketing in the education sector helps to redirect the focus of the strategy, so that can help optimise the marketing mix.

4. High Conversion Rate

Online educational marketing platforms receive a high conversion rate. Messaging platforms like SMS and e-mails are some of the forms of digital marketing that receive a high response rate due to the fact that they are personal and educational institutes can easily reach their targeted audience in an effective way.

5. Digital Presence

Forming a great digital presence is imperative for any institution, and the education sector is no exception to this fact. With the majority of people finding their information online, it’s highly recommended to establish a strong digital presence to make sure that students and parents can discover you on these channels and consider your institution while making their choice.

6. Promote through paid channels

Search and display ads are one of the most effective ways to market an educational institution. Lead generation can yield more results through ad campaigns, as it directs a large section of the online audience towards your site. This is the most appropriate way to drive traffic to the website. Usage of relevant and best keywords will also help in increasing the total number of impressions.

7. Manage online reputation

Nowadays, managing your online reputation is a must. This can be done by promoting quality blogs, capturing videos, garnering testimonials from achievers and great inspirational personalities, gaining and implementing alumni feedback, and promoting positive campus news to gain the attention of the audience. This generates interest in the minds of the audience, which leads to a quality online reputation.

Thus, for an educational institution to be successful in today’s era, it’s a must to utilize and implement a comprehensive and well-thought-out digital marketing strategy. This digital marketing strategy should be ideated and implemented properly so that the educational institution can enjoy all the benefits, such as high levels of student enrolment, improved cost-effectiveness, garnering a strong reputation, and also attaining a higher conversion rate and a higher rate of return when it comes to your investment.

by Nishant Nayyar.

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Welcome to SIDMA College UNITAR Sabah

Saturday, September 29th, 2018

“It is a pleasure for us to extend a word of welcome to you on behalf of everyone at SIDMA College UNITAR Sabah. You have chosen to join a college that is dedicated to supporting you as you realize your true potential, pursue your dream and passion, as well as making memories”.

Dr Morni Hj Kambrie (Founder and Chairman of SIDMA College UNITAR Sabah) extended these words of welcome to all September / October 2018 newly registered students at SIDMA College Sabah Atrium on 26-27 September 2018.

He also congratulated the student’s success in their recent SPM / STPM examination, and added that their success was attributed to their self-determination, perseverance, as well as their hard and smart work put in while they were in secondary schools, and advised them to continue their journey in this college with added vigour in order to achieve their dreamt future. Dr Morni also shared his own personal experience from being a humble village boy, selling home-made cakes to villagers, but by holding on to his precious dream of earning his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), plus his strong personality to aim high, his desire and commitment to studies, and that have brought him to where as he is today.

Dr Morni added that SIDMA College UNITAR Sabah strives every day to make it a great place to live and learn; and this meant doing all that we can, to “put the students first”. What we hope to receive in return is YOUR commitment to learning, not only in the classroom; but also across a wide spectrum of the student experience provided by the college.

He reminded the students to manage and put to good use on all the facilities provided to them during their studies; including their financial assistance such as PTPTN and various other one-off financial assistance received. Dr Morni also encouraged these students to contribute during their free time and enhance their talents by participating actively in the various community services, organisations and clubs, athletics, as well as other valuable activities. Such involvement will provide wonderful opportunity for you to make connections with your peers and currents students, and to learn more about academics, resources and college life.

During the two days orientation programme, the new students were also being welcomed by Madam Azizah Khalid Merican (CEO). Representatives from the Finance Department have shared on matters such as PTPTN loan as well as other financial assistance available. The Academic Department focuses on their course structure and other related matters.

The Hostel Department emphasis on some important House Rule that the students got to remember and follow if they are staying in the hostels. The Students Affairs Departments (STAD) and Student Representatives Counsel (SRC) also made their introduction to the new students and gave a guided tour round the campus. While the System Unit explained in detail on how to utilise the various educational system that will assist the student especially considering that SIDMA College UNITAR Sabah learning will be based on blended learning.

According to the Admission and Students Record Department, the programme aimed at providing new students with the needed information and honed the necessary skills for fresh students to get a successful transition to college life. It is also to provide them with relevant and engaging activities for the students, thus making sure that they have fun, and can start building and networking with their colleagues or lecturers on their academic programme; get to know and build connection with the college staff and their new peers.

SIDMA College UNITAR Sabah offers the following study programme for the September / October 2018 Semester.

a. Foundation Courses:

  • Foundations in Management

b. Diploma Courses:

  • Diploma Early Childhood Education
  • Diploma in Occupational Safety and Health
  • Diploma in Management

c. Bachelor’s Degree Courses:

  • Bachelor of Education (Hons)
  • Bachelor of Early Childhood Educations (Hons)
  • Bachelor of Business Administration (Hons)
  • Bachelor of Management (Hons)

d. Masters Courses:

  • Masters of Business Administration (MBA)
  • Masters of Education (Education Leadership & Management.
  • Masters of Education (Early Childhood Education).

For more information on any of the above courses offered, please browse SIDMA College Sabah Website, or at SIDMA College Facebook Account “SIDMA College”. Potential students are also welcome to visit us at SIDMA College Sabah located at Jalan Bundusan, 88300 KOTA KINABALU; or call the college hotline number 088-732 000 or 088-732 020.

Online registration is also available at Here.

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The danger of being neutral

Saturday, September 29th, 2018
In this July 13, 2018, photo, a globe shows the islands on the South China Sea with nine-dash line claims under Chinese territory on display at a bookstore in Beijing. In the South China Sea, China is pitted against smaller neighbours in multiple=

In this July 13, 2018, photo, a globe shows the islands on the South China Sea with nine-dash line claims under Chinese territory on display at a bookstore in Beijing. In the South China Sea, China is pitted against smaller neighbours in multiple disputes over islands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters crucial for global commerce and rich in fish and potential oil and gas reserves. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

It was just a six-paragraph statement issued by the Defence Ministry.

It was the outcome of a meeting at the Pentagon in Washington DC between United States Defence Secretary James Mattis and his Malaysian counterpart, Mohamad Sabu.

After one reading, most would dismiss it as a discussion on defence and security issues.

But the second paragraph of the Mindef statement issued on Tuesday and reported by several local media has caught the attention of Malaysian officials.

Several questions came to mind. When is Malaysia neutral on South China Sea? Does Malaysia now have a new policy on its maritime claims in the South China Sea?

Is Malaysia no more a claimant state?

If we are still one, then Malaysia cannot afford to be neutral.

It is a national position which Malaysia has taken for as long as one can remember – dating back to the first time Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad served as the Prime Minister.

This position has consistently been upheld by successive administrations of Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Malaysia’s position on the South China Sea issue is clear and consistent. We are a claimant state and Malaysia takes the position that all claims must be based and resolved in accordance with international law, in particular the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos) on the overlapping claims.

When contacted, several officials insisted that the Mindef statement did not reflect the true picture of Malaysia’s claim in the area.

“I don’t recall any discussion on Malaysia changing its position on claims in South China Sea. In addition, the code of conduct negotiation is still ongoing between Asean and China,” said an official.

The official was referring to the Asean and China negotiations on a binding code to address numerous issues faced by claimant countries since 2002.

The proposed code seeks to advance a 2002 Declaration of Conduct (DoC) of Parties in the South China Sea, which commits to following the Unclos, ensuring freedom of navigation and overflight, and refraining from the action of inhabiting the presently uninhabited island, reefs, shoals, cays and other features.

The area, which has rich fishing grounds along with oil and gas deposits, is claimed by four Asean countries – Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam. China and Taiwan are the two non-Asean claimant countries.

In August this year, Asean and China agreed on a draft CoC that will lay the foundation for negotiations over the disputed maritime area.

Negotiations on the code is under the purview of the Foreign Ministry.

While these negotiations are taking place, China continues to aggressively make its presence felt with militarisation activities in the region which Beijing says are being done peacefully.

Lately, more countries including Britain, Japan and the United States have found common cause in countering growing Chinese influence in the region that they worry could put key commercial sea lanes linking Asia with Europe, the United States and elsewhere under Beijing’s sway.

With more countries getting involved in the South China Sea area, it came as a surprise that Mindef decided to issue a statement on Malaysia’s “stance of neutrality” after the meeting between Mohamad and Mattis.

It is understood the Foreign Ministry is seeking a clarification from Mindef on this “change” of the national position.

The statement which used the word neutrality can be interpreted in many different ways according to an official.

“For a layman when we say we are neutral on South China Sea, it means that we are not a claimant state and we are showing no interest at all on this.

“Perhaps the statement did not give a clear indication on what actually transpired at the Pentagon meeting,” he said.

It also points to one thing. There was lack of consultation among the ministries and agencies involved in this issue.

Which means these ministries are working in silos instead of working and coordinating with each other especially on issues affecting national policies and positions.

Perhaps, there is also a lack of understanding among Mindef personnel on how sensitive this issue is.

“This is a national position. How can you come up with a statement using that line? That is puzzling and dangerous.

“China for sure is making notes from this statement on Malaysia’s stance and we will be queried by them,” said an official.

Mindef perhaps needs to understand some foreign policy dimension when dealing in geo political and geo economic issues.

The ministry must be made fully aware whatever they say whether verbally or in writing, especially touching on the government’s positions, will have consequences if they are not careful.

Mindef can start by reading the statement issued by the US Defence Department after the Pentagon meeting.

By Mergawati Zulfakar
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Memorable lessons in turtle conservation

Saturday, September 29th, 2018
The cadet girl guides forming the shape of turtles with the palms of their hands.

The cadet girl guides forming the shape of turtles with the palms of their hands.

FIFTY eight Cadet Girl Guides and 13 Guiders from six Institute of Teacher Education campuses visited the Ma’Daerah Turtle Sanctuary in Kemaman, Terengganu to learn about the protection and conservation of sea turtles.

“As future teachers, we hope that they will share their experiences and hopefully bring awareness to the community around them about sea turtle conservation,” said Girl Guides Association Malaysia Institute of Teacher Education branch chief commissioner Joyce Ong Choon Kim.

The girls learned that they can get involved in caring for the sea turtles by assisting in the hatcheries, maintaining clean beaches and helping with marine conservation so that they can live and breed in a safe environment.

The highlight was releasing baby turtles back into the sea.

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Govt to impose levy on import of plastic waste starting next month

Saturday, September 29th, 2018
Housing and Local Government minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said plastic waste importers would have to adhere to the new criteria which was drawn out by the ministry following the three months freeze of their Approved Permits (AP). BERNAMA photo

SHAH ALAM: The government will impose a levy on the import of plastic waste by local industry players into the country beginning next month.

Housing and Local Government minister Zuraida Kamaruddin said plastic waste importers would have to adhere to the new criteria which was drawn out by the ministry following the three months freeze of their Approved Permits (AP).

The freeze, which took effect in late July due to air pollution stemming from illegal factories processing plastic waste in Kuala Langat and the discovery of AP holders renting out the license to second and third parties, ends on Oct 23.

Zuraida said the freeze would not be extended and importers would have to comply to other new and stringent criteria, on top of having to fork out money for bringing in the plastic waste from foreign countries.

“We will impose a levy on the import of plastic waste at RM15 a tonne. It will start after Oct 23 and applicants will have to comply with that. I heard it (plastic waste) is a lucrative business.

“We have carried out discussions with the industry players and they have somewhat given an indication that they agreed to that. We have discussed this with them before making the decision,” said Zuraida today after chairing a coordination meeting at the Kuala Langat Municipal Council (MDKL) where she addressed the issue of illegal factories processing plastic waste which have caused air pollution, endangering the lives of the local community.

Charging such levy, added Zuraida, has never been done before and materials that come into the country were never checked by the Customs too.

“Now, one of the criteria is for the AP to tally with the approval given by the Customs Department. I urge the department to be more strict and that will be (one of) the factors in monitoring the importers.

“That is why in this meeting (today), there are feedbacks that plastic waste are imported and being given to illegal factories,” said Zuraida.

She said applicants of the APs from Oct 23 onwards will be required to furnish additional criteria such as the names of companies importing and exporting the plastic waste to reflect the authenticity of the business, adherence to the apacity and storage of raw materials, approval from the Department of Environment as well as housekeeping of the premises subjected to checks by the National Solid Waste Management Department (JPSPN).

Meanwhile, Zuraida revealed that there were 54 factories processing plastic waste operating in the Kuala Langat municipality, out of which 13 are licensed after it were legalised by the state government.

Zuraida ordered a meeting to be held with all parties to be held on Oct 2 at the local council’s office and it will be chaired by the JPSPN director-general Ismail Mokhtar.

“In the Oct 2 meeting, discussions would revolve around finding ways to dispose the existing plastic waste at the illegal factories, taking over of the materials from the unlicensed parties by licensed factories and the time frame of the actions,” she said.

By Dawn Chan.

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Lower marital age regressive, exploitative

Saturday, September 29th, 2018

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Law Society (SLS) categorically opposes the recent statement by the Sabah Mufti Datuk Bungsu @ Aziz Jaafar that the marriageable age of Muslims in Sabah be lowered to 14 for girls and 16 for boys.

Such a proposal is regressive, exploitative, and destructive to the future of a child, it said in a statement Wednesday.

“Malaysia, having ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child on 17th February 1995 (CRC), is obliged to take all available measures to make sure that children are protected, and their rights are respected and upheld. The CRC is an international treaty that recognises the human rights of children, defined as persons up to the age of eighteen years old. The CRC reflects the new vision of a child, that they are neither the property of their parents nor are they the helpless objects of charity.”

“They are human beings and are the subject of their own rights. In this respect children have rights to physical protection, food, education, and health care which are essential and appropriate for their development into adulthood. They should not be getting married and having babies when they themselves are juveniles and are still vulnerable, and in need of physical, mental, and emotional nurturing.”

Dominic Ghani, the Chairman of the Human Rights Sub-Committee of the SLS stated, “We believe and acknowledge that child marriages are not merely confined to the Muslim community but occur in the native communities as well.

Both the Islamic authorities and native customary heads would be wise to ensure that the respective religious texts / customary rights are to be progressively interpreted and to exercise their discretion cautiously until there is legislative intervention to ensure a minimum age of 18.”

“Only those beneficial practices which are in the best interest of all segments of humanity should be encouraged and observed. We therefore believe that the issue of child marriages involves a spectrum of interplay between a responsible government, removal of archaic policies detrimental to society at large and acceptance of the moral issues impacting or affecting upon our youths today.”

He further stated that “child marriages were a practice during the medieval era or dark ages (between the 5th and 15th century) and had existed then partly due to the fact that the life expectancy of an individual was generally less than 40 years of age due to war, disease, and famine. Now children should be given the freedom of choice and the right to decide who they want to marry when they reach the age of maturity.”

“Legally speaking, if they are not allowed to work, drive, or vote at 14, they should not be allowed to get married too.”

In response to the suggestion that a marriage is required to legitimise children born out of wedlock, the SLS is of the view that more emphasis needs to be placed on reproductive education and family planning as well advocating the health risks associated with having children below the age of 18.

The SLS therefore welcomes the recent statement by the Deputy Prime Minister cum Minister of Women, Family and Community Development, Dato’ Seri Dr. Wan Azizah Dr. Wan Ismail that the Federal Government “will raise the

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Some 3.9 million Sabahans involved in 2020 National Population and Housing Census

Saturday, September 29th, 2018

KOTA KINABALU: The implementation of the 2020 National Population and Housing Census would help the government to devise and plan any development programmes for the benefit of the people.

Department of Statistics Malaysia (DOSM) Chief Statistician Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Uzir Mahidin said that around 3.9 million citizens of Sabah will be involved during that period which covers 800,000 houses throughout Sabah.

“It is through statistics that we can obtain better data which is crucial to improving the lives of our citizen, to develop basic amenities such as education, facilities, and roads.

“Therefore, Population and Housing Census must be implemented every 10 years as it is the main source of gathering information on how to provide better basic amenities for the people,” he said.

He said this in his speech which was delivered by DOSM Population and Demographic Statistics Senior Director Datin Rozita Talha during the Statistics Literacy with the Community Seminar 2018 at INTANCampus, Sepanggar on Thursday.

Also present in the event was DOSM Sabah Director Norhayati Jantan.

The 2020 National Population and Housing Census would be the sixth census since it was first implemented back in 1970, and subsequently 1980, 1991, 2000, and 2010 by the Department of Statistics.

He added that the implementation of 2020 National Population and Housing Census refers to the recommendation of United Nations which says that every nation should conduct at least one population and housing census from the period of 2015 until 2024.

DOSM will fully utilise the use of technology especially in data gathering through Online Self-Listing (OSL), e-Census, Computer Assisted Personal Interview (CAPI) and Computer Assisted Telephone Interview (CATI).

“We will fully utilise the use of Smartphone by developing an application that is user-friendly so that all people can access it quickly, give response without burdening them.

“Therefore all people are welcomed to complete the questionn.


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Kopeks encourages increasing total share investment

Saturday, September 29th, 2018


Kastian (fourth left) presenting education incentive to one of the recipients, witnessed by Maznah (third left) and other guests.

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Government Employees Cooperative Society Bhd (Kopeks) is encouraging its members to increase their total share investment to enjoy mutual benefit and greater dividend.

Chairperson Datuk Maznah Abdul Ghani said although the compulsory RM50 fee and the minimum RM200 share may seem like a forced saving, members need not worry as the investment promises them returns for both fee and share.

“We are telling our members to put their leftover money into shares; instead of buying unnecessary items like cigarettes, they might as well put here and get the return.

“While the fee is already deducted through their salary, why not do the same for the share? RM20 is fine, although it seems low but it is safe and they are being paid. We have paid dividends since the last 10 years.

“We currently have RM50 million for fee and RM2 million for shares and this low figure is caused by members who are resistant to invest; I hope in years to come, there will be improvement in both (fee and shares),” she said.

She was speaking to reporters during the Kopeks 2016 dividend distribution and presentation of education incentives for members’ children at Sabah Public Works Department headquarters yesterday.

Maznah earlier announced that the dividend for financial year 2016, amounted to RM521,263, was six per cent that is one per cent on fee and five per cent on share.

“We could actually afford to pay 15 per cent as in 2015 but Cooperative Commission of Malaysia (SKM) has asked for nine per cent to be retained in the cooperative to generate business capital,” she said.

Since 2009 until 2016, Kopeks had distributed RM6.09 million cash dividend to its members and from 2009 until 2018, a total of RM207.24 million of loan had been granted with accumulated profit of RM26.253 million.

She added that Kopeks had also successfully settled its accumulated loss of RM24 million it had accrued before 2005.

According to her, the cooperative also sets out RM50,000 every year for education corporate social responsibility particularly for its members’ children who excel in schools.

“Today, a total of 77 UPSR, PT3 and SPM children receives cash incentives of RM300 each; the total payout since it was introduced was RM78,000.

“However, I realize that there were less recipients so I hope parents would recommend their children especially those in the rural areas because we want to uplift these children,” said Maznah.

Noting that Kopeks is currently 37th in the Best Malaysian Co-operative Index out of 14,000 cooperatives in Malaysia, she stressed on the mutual benefit for its members including loans for school or university fees, road tax and insurance as well as medical costs among others.

She asserted that Kopeks had also assisted more than 400 members settle their debts totaling RM4.5 million with loan sharks.

To date, the cooperative has introduced the Ar-Rahnu Islamic gold-for-cash scheme and set up the Kopeks Mini Market in 2015 to facilitate grocery shopping and gain returns for its members.

In the future, she said, they are planning to set up a Kopeks village to provide physical amenities and a social space for its members; it is expected to be located somewhere near the Pan Borneo Highway stretch.

“All along we have been giving loans so now I’m trying to appeal to them please give us a chance to give you something physical where you can enjoy social activities, perhaps a market for members to sell their products every Saturday and Sunday.

“While it is to encourage business, at the same time we are also keeping their welfare,” she said, adding that Kopeks has also started a pilot project on Swiftlet farming.

Thus, she said, it was crucial for members to repay their loans to ensure these plans could be executed and to provide loans to other members as well.

“We need to keep in mind that if we don’t pay our loans, then our performance will be affected and this will bring impact to other members as well.


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