Archive for December, 2018

2018: End of an era

Monday, December 31st, 2018

WHAT a year it’s been, for Malaysians and the world! Truly a historic landmark 2018. And the new year ­promises to be even more eventful.

Three things catapulted Malaysia to the top of the global news. First, the continuing drama of 1MDB (1Malaysia Development Bhd). With one revelation after another, the country had the awful reputation of having the greatest conmen perpetrating the greatest financial fraud of recent times.

Second, against all odds, the 61-year-old Umno-led regime was overthrown and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad re-emerged as prime minister through a tumultuous general election. Within weeks, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was pardoned and released. He then went on to win a Parliamentary seat in a by-election.

Third, Malaysia was held up as a rare example of how citizens outraged by corrupt leaders in an authoritarian state could effect change through the vote without bloodshed.

History shows that after an uprising or overthrow of a dictator, there often is chaos, violence, a reinstatement of the old regime or a long period of anarchy as warlords or competing ideologies fight it out.

Malaysia’s political transition has in comparison been smooth and non-violent, which holds a democratic promise for our region. The prosecution of the old corrupt leaders and other crooks has proceeded with vigour. The malpractices in the Finance Ministry and agencies like Tabung Haji and Felda are being exposed. These have been among the notable achievements.

But the general euphoria from the May 9 general election has dissipated as the realities of the old society are increasingly clashing with the promises of a new Malaysia. This shows that May 9 was only the tip; the rest of the iceberg has to be reshaped in terms of new policies and democratic practices, if we are to achieve long-lasting and positive structural change.

Two other major challenges have emerged as the year ends. First, Pakatan Harapan has to work through the differences between their parties and leaders, as well as within each component party. This is extremely complex as it involves strong personalities and each party’s ideas on policy reform.

Second, there are clear signs of a weakening domestic economy, in line with unfavourable global trends.

These include a sharp fall in oil prices (which disturbs the government budget projections), the low prices of palm oil and rubber (causing more hardship for smallholders), the rising cost of living, and uncertainties regarding the ringgit, capital flows and the stock market.

The work is thus cut out for the Harapan government in the new year. It will need to deal with multiple immediate problems, even crises, while simultaneously moving forward with righting the wrongs of the old regime, and coming up with new policy measures to build a new society.

We the citizens can only hope and pray that the seeds planted in 2018 will grow into green healthy plants in 2019.

At global level, 2018 was also a landmark year, but not for the better.

United States President Donald Trump plunged ahead with his “America First” strategy. Hopes that the weight of high office would move him more to the centre were dashed when he upgraded ultra-right persons to his inner circle, while a string of less ultra officials left one by one.

By year end, Trump was in a position to do as he pleases, and what seems to give him most pleasure is to disrupt the US and global establishment.

He got the US to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved the US embassy there. He pulled the US out from the nuclear deal with Iran. He announced the pulling out of a nuclear arms treaty with Russia.

Trump raised the stakes in the US trade war with China. The 90-day truce declared by the presidents of the two countries in early December may be a temporary lull. But the Trump team has decided on much more than just a fight to reduce the US trade deficit with China.

It wants to stop China’s progress as a leading global industrial power. China may agree to increase imports from the US, but nobody expects China to back away from its plan to be a world economic leader.

But Trump’s fight goes beyond China. He has slapped higher duties on some products from Europe, Canada, Japan, Mexico and others and promises more to come.

His unilateral measures undermine the once iron-clad rules of the World Trade Organization, which he openly threatens to paralyse.

But these are not simply the acts of a crazy US president, which can be overturned by a saner successor.

It became clearer in 2018 that the global liberal order, established in 1945 to prevent another world war and to stabilise the global economy, is coming under serious attack.

We would expect this attack to come from the people in less developed countries that have been left out of the general progress. But in fact, many of those who are against the global liberal order are citizens of developed nations.

Many of those in the developed world have borne the brunt of the ill effects of globalisation, as factories and jobs moved to low-wage countries and as immigrants moved in, especially in the European Union, but also the US.

The inequalities of globalisation, with the bottom half increasingly angry while the top 20% enjoy life as the global elite, formed the basis of rebellion against the free flow of goods, capital and labour.

It was the basis for Trump’s electoral support, and for Brexit, the riots in Paris, the loss of support for German leader Angela Merkel and the upsurge of so-called “populism”.

This is why 2018 will probably be seen as a landmark year, for the growth of the rebellion within the West against the global order its post-World War II leaders created. What 2019 will bring on this front remains to be seen.

By Martin Khor
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Smoking ban in food premises to take effect tomorrow (Jan 1).

Monday, December 31st, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama): All food premises have been gazetted as no-smoking zones, effective from midnight Monday (Dec 31), says Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

He said the ban was in line with the Control of Tobacco Product Regulations (Amendments) 2018 to protect the public from exposure to cigarette smoke.

He said the Health Ministry was committed to ensuring that the public, especially children, pregnant women and the elderly, were always protected from the dangers of smoke from cigarettes and other tobacco products.

“The public are urged not to smoke in all eateries, whether air-conditioned or not. This includes inside and outside the buildings where the eateries, restaurants and food courts are.

“The ban also covers food stalls and vehicles which provide tables and chairs for people to eat, as well as restaurants on ships and trains,” he said in a statement here on Monday (Dec 31).

Dr Noor Hisham also advised owners and operators of food premises to display smoking ban signage clearly and to take steps to make sure that nobody smokes by not providing facilities like ashtrays.

Anyone found guilty of the offence of smoking in banned areas can be fined up to RM10,000 or jailed up to two years under Regulation 11 of the Control of Tobacco Product Regulations 2004.

Premise or vehicle owners and operators who fail to display the smoking ban signage can be fined up to RM3,000 or jailed up to six months under Regulation 12 of the Control of Tobacco Product Regulations 2004.


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Give teachers more say in classrooms

Monday, December 31st, 2018
Penang Free School students sitting their Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examination last month. Education systems are a result of collaborative efforts between the government and the people. FILE PIC

There is a six-century BC fable that tells the story of a boy, his father and a donkey walking towards a market.

While they were walking, people ridiculed them for not riding the donkey. When the father let his son ride the donkey, people were annoyed with the boy for insulting his father.

When the father rode the donkey, the people were displeased with him and accused him of abusing his child.

When they were both riding the donkey, people booed and jeered at them for overloading and mistreating the donkey.

This could express the current status of our education system. Almost every initiative of the government is criticised.

The government, on the other hand, with all good intention, keeps changing the course of our educational system.

Almost instantly after a new government comes to power, leaders start to experiment with the educational system.

Today, the Pakatan Harapan government is looking to overhaul our education system.

Most recently Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad expressed his desire to overhaul our education system focusing more on career-based subject matters.

Obviously, the government had expended much effort trying to improve our educational system.

More initiatives do not necessarily mean a better system.

No education system in the world is totally and solely dependent on government initiatives. In fact, they are a result of collaborative efforts of the government and the people.

The government should not expect its efforts, however well planned and properly executed, to achieve success if supporting systems are not in place.

Leadership of the teachers, for instance, is among the most critical success factors of every educational reformation.

By Dr Hussain Othman.

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Climate change and human health

Monday, December 31st, 2018

(File pix) Constant exposure to hot weather can have a serious effect on people’s health. Pix by NSTP/ Muhd Asyraf Sawal

THE 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)—the most important climate conference since the conclusion of the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015 — ended on Dec 15 with the adoption of the Katowice Rulebook.

Though it is one further step forward, action to confront global warming is still wanting. Most countries’ current climate targets will not be enough to limit global warming to significantly under 2°C and ideally to 1.5°C.

Without further efforts, the global temperature could increase by over 3°C by 2100. The foreseeable effects of climate change would pose too great a challenge for many countries.

Late last month, international researchers under the ambit of The Lancet Countdown on Health and Climate Change sent a chilling warning to the world: climate change is affecting our health. More people than ever are vulnerable to heat exposure globally, and numbers are rising.

The report analyses 41 indicators tracking the link between climate change and health. And while the authors noted “a lot of variability year on year”, the evident trend suggests we should expect heat wave events to spike higher.

We’re starting to feel this already. This summer marked a record in many parts of the world, with much higher temperatures than most populations are used to.

The latest report estimates that 42 per cent of over-65s in Europe and 43 per cent in the Eastern Mediterranean are already vulnerable to heat exposure; 38 per cent of this group are vulnerable in Africa and 34 per cent in Asia.

Dr Nick Watts, executive director of the Lancet project, highlighted a recent study suggesting that 2018 heat waves across Europe were made twice as likely as a result of climate change.

“Assigning attribution for every single event is difficult, but it’s clear that these sorts of events are examples of what is likely to come if we don’t rapidly respond to climate change,” he said.

Small changes in temperature and rainfall will not only lower productivity and crop yields, it will impact health by helping to spread infectious diseases. For example, the capacity of the dengue virus to spread has increased by 7.8 per cent since the 1950s, the report found.

The seasonal capacity for the Aedes mosquito — the primary species spreading Zika, dengue and chikungunya — and its ability to spread has lengthened and strengthened, the report says.

2016 set a new record for dengue transmission, and the spread is expected to rise in step with average global temperatures.

Levels of global cholera bacteria are also worrying. From the 1980s to the 2010s, the US witnessed a 27 per cent increase in coastline areas suitable for Vibrio infections.

The report shows half of 478 global cities surveyed stated that their public health structure will be seriously compromised by climate change. The health threats are expected to overwhelm services and extreme weather events pose a direct threat to health services.

Global spending on climate adaptation for health is at 4.8 per cent — too little, the researchers say, noting that Europe and Southeast Asia are the biggest spenders.

In a 2015 assessment by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the UNFCCC, Malaysia was said to face numerous potential threats to health and development due to climate change. Among the futures foreseen by the assessment:

IF high emissions continue, mean annual temperature rises by about 4°C on average from 1990 to 2100. If emissions decrease rapidly, temperature rise is limited to about 1.1°C.

IF high emissions continue, and without large investments in adaptation, an annual average of 234,500 Malaysians are projected to be affected by flooding due to sea level rise between 2070 and 2100. If emissions decrease rapidly and there is a major scale up in protection (i.e. continued construction/raising of dikes) the annual affected population could be almost eliminated.

Adaptation alone will not offer sufficient protection, as sea level rise is a longterm process, with high emissions scenarios bringing increasing impacts well beyond the end of the century.

IF high emissions continue, heat-related deaths among the elderly (65+ years) are projected to increase to almost 45 deaths per 100,000 by 2080 compared to the estimated baseline of under one death per 100,000 annually between 1961 and 1990. A rapid reduction in emissions could limit heat-related deaths in the elderly to just over six deaths per 100,000 in 2080.

The WHO/UNFCCC assessment notes some opportunities for action. The country should continue refining its National Policy on Climate Change which incorporates health perspectives. Malaysia is implementing projects on health adaptation to climate change, building institutional and technical capacities to work on climate change and health, and has conducted a national assessment of climate change impacts, vulnerability and adaptation for health.

By Zakri Abdul Hamid.

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No thanks for all the education

Monday, December 31st, 2018
(File pix) The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Pix by NSTP/Rosela Ismail

MOVING from the school bench to the workstation may have been a smooth transition for Malaysian baby boomers. Not so for our young Malaysians aged between 15 and 29, according to Khazanah Research Institute’s (KRI) School-To-Work Transition Survey 2017/2018 (SWTS) released yesterday.

KRI’s survey talks of “a number of difficulties young Malaysian men and women encounter in their transition from school to work.” To put it bluntly, many of our young lads and ladies just cannot make the transition. This shouldn’t surprise us. The Malaysian Employers Federation’s laments of yore prepared us for this. So did the capacious comments of academics and NGOs. In fact, KRI’s Inception Note to SWTS quotes employers as saying that Malaysian universities are not producing “employable” graduates with the skills, industrial training and soft skills, such as the ability to think critically and creatively, to communicate effectively and work independently. Others too have shared similar stories. A 2014 study conducted by the World Bank in collaboration with the Institute for Labour Market Information and Analysis, Ministry of Human Resources, too came to similar conclusion, ending with a call to revamp Malaysia’s education and training system. The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development’s Economic Assessment of Malaysia 2016 added to the chorus of voices calling for the re-purposing of our education system.

There was plenty of evidence on the ground, too. Quoting the Higher Education Ministry’s Graduate Tracer Study of 2016, KRI said that 23 per cent of Malaysian graduates were out of a job six months after graduating. Of the 57 per cent employed, 15 per cent were in part-time jobs. Even PhD graduates faced a similar fate: 16 per cent of them were unemployed in 2016. The decline apparently has an earlier history. In 2014, there were 450,000 Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia certificate holders, but only 250,000 of them continued with some form of tertiary education. It is not just the universities that are ailing; schools, too, are hit with the blight.

We cannot, of course, blame all our ailments on our education system. But that is a very good place to look for a cure. And we must begin at the beginning. What really is the purpose of education? Some argue that an education system’s aim should be to produce intellectuals. Martin Luther King Jr. thought not.

We agree. “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason but no morals. We must remember that intelligence is not enough.

Intelligence plus character—that is the goal of true education.”


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World set to ring in New Year with dazzling displays, heavy security

Monday, December 31st, 2018

The party atmosphere will sweep across major cities in Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas as the clock ticks past midnight.

SYDNEY: Australia’s largest city Sydney will put on its biggest-ever fireworks display to welcome the New Year and kick off a wave of celebrations for billions around the world.

A record amount of pyrotechnics as well as new fireworks effects and colours will light up the harbour city’s skyline for 12 minutes and dazzle the more than 1.5 million spectators expected to crowd foreshores and parks.

“I’m sure we’ll delight in seeing our beautiful harbour lit up like never before,” Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore said.

To mark the international year of indigenous languages in 2019, the harbour will host a ceremony celebrating Aboriginal heritage that includes animations projected onto the Sydney Harbour Bridge’s pylons.

The party atmosphere will sweep across major cities in Asia, Europe, Africa and the Americas as the clock ticks past midnight.

A strong police presence has become a key element of the festivities, to protect crowds that could be targeted in terror and vehicle attacks.

Hong Kong:Glittering fireworks will be sent skyward from five barges floating in Victoria Harbour in a 10-minute display watched by 300,000 people on the foreshore.

Tokyo: Japanese will flock to temples to ring in the New Year, while US boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr will take on local kickboxer Tenshin Nasukawa in a bout staged outside Tokyo.

Moscow: Concerts and light shows will be held across the city’s parks and more than 1,000 ice rinks have been opened for merrymakers.

Paris: A fireworks display and sound and light show under the theme “fraternity” is set to go ahead on the Champs-Elysees despite plans for further “yellow vest” anti-government protests at the famed avenue.

Berlin: Music lovers will party at a concert at the Brandenburg Gate, but a popular German tradition of setting off fireworks to mark the occasion has been banned in some other cities over safety concerns.

London: Britain’s capital will usher in the New Year by celebrating its relationship with Europe amid turmoil over the Brexit referendum vote to leave the union, with the fireworks display at the London Eye to feature music from the continent’s artists.

Edinburgh: The Scottish capital’s traditional Hogmanay celebrations will also take on a pro-European theme ahead of the year in which Britain is due to exit the EU.

As the world parties, many will also look forward to 2019 and wonder whether the turmoil witnessed during the previous year will spill over into the next.

The political wrangling in Westminster over Brexit was one of the key stories of this year, with a resolution yet to be reached ahead of the scheduled March 29 departure from the EU.

US President Donald Trump dominated headlines in 2018 as he ramped up his trade war with China, quit the Iran nuclear deal, moved the American embassy to Jerusalem and met his North Korean counterpart Kim Jong Un in Singapore for a historic summit.

North Korea’s commitment to denuclearisation will remain a major political and security issue into next year, as will Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s reassertion of control after Trump’s shock military withdrawal announcement.

The war in Yemen, which started in 2014 and has already killed about 10,000 people and left some 20 million at risk of starvation, could take a crucial turn after a ceasefire took effect in mid-December.

Numerous countries go to the polls in 2019, with key elections in India, Afghanistan, Indonesia, South Africa, Argentina and Australia.


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2018 Christmas Goodies for SIDMA College Staff

Monday, December 31st, 2018

Chief Executive Officer, Madam Azizah Khalid Merican on behalf of Dr Morni Hj Kambrie, Founder and Chairman SIDMA College who had to attend another function that he had committed earlier, took her time off to distribute the 2018 Christmas Goodies to SIDMA staff celebrating Christmas on 25 December 2018.

The goodies presentation ceremony which was held at SIDMA College Atrium on 20th December 2018 was organised by SIDMA Staff Welfare Association (PKKKSS) Committee members under the chairmanship of Mr Zain Azrai.

During this auspicious ceremony, Madam Azizah on behalf of the Management of SIDMA College Sabah took the opportunity to wish in advance Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2019 to lecturers, staff, students and friends of SIDMA College Sabah, prior to presenting the Christmas Goodies to the staff.

Staff of SIDMA College received various food and beverages according to their wish list, which include daily necessities such as chicken parts, soft drinks, freshly baked cakes and more.

The distribution of giveaways to staff during Malaysia Festivals such as Christmas, Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Hari Raya Aidiladha, Chinese New Year and Harvest Festival celebration is very much in line with SIDMA College Progressive Corporate Work Culture as the management believe that the continuous good relationship between the staff from various background will increase the relevancy and competitive edge of the college, thus providing the necessary platforms for students to practice the skills and tools necessary for democratic living; as well as enabling all SIDMA staff from various background to celebrate together the various Malaysian festival as one big family.

While inculcating the spirit of sharing, giving and respecting the plurality of it’s staff; it also symbolises Dr Morni’s sincere contribution to recognise the excellence services rendered by all SIDMA staff throughout the year; as well as to motivate the strong collegiality among the staff and the college management.

Mr Zain Azrai, on behalf of PKKKSS committee members and SIDMA staff took the opportunity to thank Dr Morni and his family for their generosity, their willingness to share part of their earnings, as well as the caring attitude for the staff’s wellbeing and happiness, particularly during special occasion such as this Christmas.

Meanwhile, Dr Morni, Madam Azlina (Director), Madam Azizah, and Mr Zain Azrai wished all SIDMA staff, students, and the general public a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2019.

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Yearender2018: Malaysians vote for change

Sunday, December 30th, 2018

The year 2018 will go down in the history books as the year Malaysians reset the nation’s course. On May 9, Malaysians took a leap of faith and embraced change for the first time by voting in an Opposition pact – Pakatan Harapan – to serve as the federal government.

The coalition made up of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, PKR, DAP and Amanah now holds 118 of the 222 seats in the Dewan Rakyat. Barisan Nasional, previously in power for 61 years before losing the 14th General Election, is now down to 37 seats.

Many of the component parties have left the coalition, leaving the party with only three core members – Umno, MCA and MIC.

In Umno, a spate of resignations by its members of parliament since the general election have left the party nearly crippled and its leadership in crisis.

Two other major political forces emerged when the balance of power shifted. The first is PAS with 18 parliament seats, the second is Gabungan Parti Sarawak, a four-party pact with 19 parliament seats which governs the state.

By voting in a new government, Malaysians also opted for the return of a familiar face. Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad leads Malaysia for the second time, earning the 93-year-old a Guinness record as the world’s oldest prime minister.

Widening inequality, rising prices, corruption, the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) scandal and a sense that Malaysia was going astray created a wave of people power that grew and unseated Barisan.

Race and religious issues though, continue to cast a shadow over the country, while the large national debt, financial mismanagement and corruption scandals inherited from the previous administration have delayed Pakatan’s bid to fulfil a number of its election pledges.

Many challenges lie ahead, but this year will be remembered as the year we came together to create a New Malaysia. – Razak Ahmad

From Prison To Parliament


Photo: Bernama

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim went from prison to palace, and then to parliament this year. The political fortune of Pakatan Harapan’s choice as the next prime minister saw a dramatic turnaround as Malaysians voted for change at the ballot box in the 14th General Election (GE14).

Anwar had been sacked as deputy prime minister on Sept 2, 1998 and charged later that year for corruption and sodomy. He was sentenced to six years for corruption and nine for sodomy.

Released from prison in 2004 after the federal court overturned his sodomy conviction, in 2008, he was again charged with sodomy. Acquitted in January 2012, this was overturned by the court of appeal in March 2014, and Anwar had to serve a five-year jail term.

Two days after GE14, the Yang di-Pertuan Agong granted Anwar a full and immediate pardon. He was released from prison on May 16, and on that same day, granted an audience by the King at the royal palace.

In October, Anwar won the Port Dickson parliamentary by-election held after the incumbent vacated the seat to make way for him to contest, and the following month, Anwar, who was the sole candidate for top position in PKR at the party’s national congress, was officially announced as PKR president. – Razak Ahmad

Tale Of Two Chief Ministers


Voters gave Pakatan Harapan a resounding win in parliament, but no clear winner emerged in the election for the 60 state seats in Sabah.

The then-ruling Sabah Barisan Nasional led by Tan Sri Musa Aman won 29 seats on May 9. It was equal to the tally of Parti Warisan Sabah and its Pakatan Harapan allies, DAP and PKR.

The deadlock was broken when Barisan won support of Parti Solidariti Tanah AirKu (Sabah STAR), winning the remaining two seats in the assembly. Musa was sworn in as chief minister by the Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Juhar Mahiruddin on May 10.

However, Barisan’s majority was erased when component party Upko quit the coalition, followed by the defection of six Umno assemblymen. Things tilted in favour of Warisan and its Pakatan allies, and Warisan president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal was sworn in as chief minister on May 12.

Musa sought a court declaration that he was the legitimate chief minister to nullify Shafie’s appointment. However, he became the focus of the authorities after he left the country following a police report lodged by Juhar against him.

In November, Sabah’s political uncertainty finally ended with the High Court declaring Shafie as the legitimate chief minister. – Fatimah Zainal

Charged For Corruption


Photo: Bernama

True to its commitment to uphold the rule of law, the Pakatan Harapan government lost no time in prosecuting those allegedly involved in corruption. A first in Malaysian history, the country witnessed a former prime minister and his wife arrested for graft charges.

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak was first arrested on July 3, and on the next day, slapped with charges related to the 1MDB scandal. This happened two months after police authorities raided his residences,  and seized luxury possessions and cash.

Najib later faced more charges related to money laundering, bribery and criminal breach of trust (CBT), with the total number of charges against him to date standing at 38.

His wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor was first charged on Oct 3 for money laundering involving more than RM7mil. Fugitive businessman Low Taek Jho, who is at the centre of the 1MDB scandal, was charged in absentia on Dec 4.

The anti-corruption crackdown also stretched its hand to many other senior officials linked to the previous administration. Among them were Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, hauled to court for 45 corruption charges, and Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, charged for allegedly receiving RM3mil in bribes from property developers during his tenure as federal territories minister.

Baling MP and Umno supreme council member Datuk Seri Abdul Azeez Abdul Rahim was also charged over corruption and money laundering allegations. – Clarissa Chung

Toughest Year By Far.

This year has not been kind to MCA, which turned 69. It won only three seats (one parliamentary seat and two state seats ) out of the 129 seats contested – its worst electoral performance in history.

Winning the Ayer Hitam parliamentary seat for the fourth time, Dr Wee Ka Siong is the only MCA MP. He was elected MCA president in November.

“It has been six months down the road and we are learning and doing our best in our new role,” he said, adding the party accepted the people’s decision at the ballot box and is focused on being an effective Opposition. – Foong Pek Yee

Looking Into The Minority

For more than a decade, Senator P. Waytha Moorthy has been at the forefront of the Malaysian Indian dilemma. First with Hindraf, then as an exile, and later with a short spell in the Barisan administration. Now, he is with the National Unity ministerial portfolio in the Pakatan government.

The narrative that a majority of the Indian minority has been marginalised is borne out by lower life expectancy, disproportionately low business ownership, and higher crime rates.

by Martin Vengadesan
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Keep them out of government schools

Sunday, December 30th, 2018

Penampang: Penampang PKR Youth has raised concern about the Government’s move to allow stateless children to enrol in schools beginning 2019, saying it will not only affect local students’ access to school facilities and their learning process but also give rise to many socio-political problems.

Its Deputy Chief Remysta Taylor said the issue of stateless individuals has been a pain for Sabah for decades and Sabahans do not want to see the Government making decisions which would make things worse.

“PKR Penampang Youth considers the move as a step backward in efforts to resolve the issue of stateless people in Sabah.

“The Education Ministry should realise that our people in Sabah have been burdened by this issue for decades. Why not implement policies which would assure us once and for all that this issue would finally be resolved.

“But instead of doing that, they’re welcoming them into our schools. For what reason, we just don’t know,” he said.

He was commenting on Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik who had reportedly gave his assurance that the enrolment of stateless children in government schools would not affect the local children’s educational opportunities and access to school facilities.

He had clarified that stateless children are those who not have identity documents but are the children of Malaysian citizens or one of their parents is a Malaysian.

Dr Maszlee had also said that the Ministry accepts such children on the condition that their parents submit a confirmation letter from the village head that the child is his or hers

Earlier, Parti Kerjasama Anak Negeri (PKAN) President Datuk Henrynus Amin also voiced opposition to the move saying that currently even local children hoping to be enrolled in some schools are turned away due to classrooms already bursting with up to 50 students in some.

Remysta said PKR Youth Penampang respects the right for every child to receive education as Malaysia is a signatory to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Child (CRC).

“We have nothing against it. But at the same time we want to suggest to the ministry to keep them out from our government schools. Besides, all this time we have been kind enough to allow them to start their own schools. All the ministry should do is just to monitor and regulate. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel,” he said.

According to him, there is fear among the local population that the policy could be abused or exploited by irresponsible parties for their personal gain.

“Sabahans are fed up with having to cope with this issue. We have high hopes on the new Government to resolve it for good. Don’t introduce a policy that will only perpetuate the fear and negative suspicion. It’s not good for nation building,” added Remysta.

by Leonard Alaza.

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Creating immersive environment for learning English

Sunday, December 30th, 2018
(File pix) Students visiting the Brave-Hearts programme at Pusanika, UKM, can try on and walk around in various costumes from different eras in England. Pix by NSTP/Saddam Yusoff

AS first-year students of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) arrived at the Brave-Hearts site in UKM’s Pusanika, they were greeted with sights, sounds and smells that sent their senses reeling.

An air of excitement surrounded the booths offering information and activities by 14 faculties involved in the programme under Citra UKM centre.

Brave-Hearts, which stands for “Bringing Real Activities Via English Hands-on Experience and Rewarding Tasks”, is an out-ofclass English enhancement programme for UKM students.

Now in its fourth year, the programme is aimed at creating interest among students with lower English proficiency levels to learn the language, and boost their confidence to converse in the language.

At one of the booths, Aishah Mutmainnah Khairul Annuar, 21, is seen encouraging visitors to try out costumes from different English eras. The Liberal Studies student herself was clad in a dark velvet Victorian-era gown, complete with a beaded headpiece that she had sewn all night.

Aishah said introducing clothes worn by people in England, such as tunics, gowns, ruffled collars, lace veils and corsets, could help to spark interest among undergraduates to learn words related to clothes.

“Personally, I am excited to be wearing this Victorian-era dress. Through the pieces of clothing we have, students like me can learn new words associated with clothing,” said Aishah.

Similarly, other booths offered activities that focused on awareness of language functions and vocabulary building, such as Readers’ Theatre, a Snake-and-Ladder game and a mock Moot Court, where all of the activities were conducted in English.

At the mock “court” booth, students take up roles as judge, defendant, public prosecutor, accused, bailiff and so on, to act out a scene in the courtroom using a script prepared. The booth was a hit as group after group of students signed up to give it a try.

To make this year’s programme even better, Citra UKM’s deputy director (Communication), Professor Madya Dr Zarina Othman said all 14 faculties under the centre were roped in to participate and set up booths.

“Brave-Hearts 2018 features the involvement of faculties to showcase their disciplines through communicative activities in English,” she said.

“This will be an opportunity for students from different disciplines to realise the role of English and communication in their respective fields.

“This initiative creates the ambience needed to boost students’ mastery of English and their motivation and confidence to use English.”

Zarina said every learner was unique and successful language learning depended on how students felt about a language.

“Less positive feelings, like lack of motivation, low self-confidence and anxiety, are contributing factors that could hamper success in language learning,” she said.

“The affective factor is one aspect that needs to be addressed and enhanced outside formal learning environment where language practitioners are more able to work on providing students with a conducive environment in line with the concept of immersion.”

UKM deputy vice-chancellor (Academic and International affairs) Professor Datuk Dr Mohd Marzuki Mustafa, who graced the event, said: “The best way to learn English is to go to an English-speaking country. But, because that is impossible for our students, we decided to bring everything that is English to them instead.”

“Even though this is just a one-day event, it is hoped that the interest generated can be sustained for a long time. The momentum can be kept through the classes held by lecturers, too.”

Since its inception in 2013, UKM’s Citra Education has sought to produce knowledgeable and flexible graduates, who are experts in their disciplines and, at the same time, having excellent soft skills.

New students who enrol are required to take up either 30 or 40 credit units of Citra education courses depending on whether they are in professional, or non-professional/ standard programmes.

The Citra Education course is made up of compulsory courses and Citra courses. The compulsory courses encompass those such as Basic Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Islamic and Asian Civilisations, Ethnic Relations and Soft Skills.

Citra University Centre deputy director (Competency), Associate Professor Dr Adi Irfan Che Ani said first-year students were required to choose courses from six domains offered. They are Ethnics, Citizenship and Civilisation, Language, Communication and Literacy, Quantitative and Qualitative, Leadership, Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Science, Technology and Sustainability, and Family, Health and Lifestyle.

By Hanna Syed Mokhtar.

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