Archive for April, 2019

NST Leader: Planning decades ahead for the elderly

Friday, April 19th, 2019
Will we agree to do away with the unflattering term of “warga mas” (senior citizens)? Former chairman of Media Prima Bhd Tan Sri Johan Jaaffar 65, and his friend Chan Choon Wah, 83, keep fit by going for early morning walks and jogs.

FAILING to plan is planning to fail — a Benjamin Franklin quote, often mouthed by financial and risk managers to drive home the importance of income and assets planning for the future.

Many may view it as an insurance agent’s sales pitch, but it’s a fact of life. Before a child is even born parents are already planning — for the day he is ushered into this world to the day he enters school.

Whether things go as planned is irrelevant; the fact that even the best laid plans can go wrong only underscores the importance of planning.

The baby whose arrival was planned by the parents will grow into an adult and he must plan what will happen to him as he grows older.

In the blink of an eye, the tables are turned, and the adult must plan to care for his parents, while also planning the lives of his own children.

The future has no brakes; the parents die and their place in the list of the elderly is taken up by the “baby” that they doted upon.

The cycle of life means the baby who once could not change his own diapers must prepare for the day when he, too, will need adult diapers, and turn to his children to care for him.

Our mortality is not the most pleasant of things to talk about, but we must prepare for it. Likewise, the government must do the same.

Government policies and financial mechanisms relating to property, contributory pensions, personal savings and infrastructure must be in place at the onset of the population ageing process to help workers accumulate assets.

T0 make such plans future-proof is thinking decades ahead instead of knee-jerk reactions.

The government, hence, should develop an ageing-friendly healthcare system that focuses on prevention and less on costly hospital care.

A fast-growing elderly population will strain the healthcare system. A perspective of how fast our elderly population is growing — next year there will be an estimated 3.5 million Malaysians aged 65 and above; by 2040 it will be 6.3 million.

If that seems far off — in 1997, the number of Japan’s elderly surpassed the number of children; 17 years later adult diapers outsold baby diapers.

While we deal with having to cater for the millions of elderly citizens, other aspects of the economy will evolve, such as living cost, which will increase.

Whatever social safety measures we have for the elderly will not be sufficient in the future.

We should, therefore, look at alternative means of making the economy more conducive for their survival, including allowing the healthy and experienced senior citizens to work.

In Japan, in 2017, 28.1 per cent or 37.57 million of the population were aged 65 and above, but they formed over 12 per cent of Japan’s workforce.

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Solving education challenges on a global scale

Friday, April 19th, 2019
(File pix) Zainab Arkani (left) and Ahmed Ullah (second from right) sharing their experience on how education has helped them as refugees during the Global Education and Skills Forum opening plenary. Pix by Global Education & Skills Forum

CHANGE was the theme of the seventh annual Global Education and Skills Forum (GESF) this year as inspirational speakers, featuring leading personalities and change-makers from across the globe, gathered in Dubai to share, discuss and debate on how to make a positive impact on the world.

An initiative of Varkey Foundation, its founder Sunny Varkey said: “By sharing the stories of grassroots activists, campaigners, philanthropists, tech developers and many more, we can have a much smarter debate about how to solve challenges on a global scale.”

Among the key speakers who spearheaded the sessions were Sierra Leonean president Julius Maada Bio, Nobel Peace Prize winner and former Colombia president Juan Manuel Santos and former British prime minister Tony Blair.

At the opening plenary, two young Rohingya, now living in Canada, shared their experience on how education has helped them as refugees.

Zainab Arkani and Ahmed Ullah, who had fled persecution in Myanmar, called upon the international community to ensure that Rohingya children did not become a “lost generation” without an education or future.

“I was lucky I was among the one per cent who went to school, because 99 per cent did not have the chance to go to school,” said Zainab, who moved to Canada and started the only Rohingya school in her basement.

Rare for a Rohingya woman, Zainab completed her undergraduate studies in Myanmar, despite systemic barriers and discrimination in the schooling systems.

“We have enough sympathy, empathy and donations. What we need is education and vocational training for Rohingya children.”

Ullah said he was proof that refugees could do anything as long as they were given a chance.

Born in a refugee camp, Ullah is now a youth coordinator of the Canadian Rohingya Development initiative.

“There are millions of children suffering the same way I was. All they want is education. Why can’t we give Rohingya children hope that they can go to university and build something for their people?”

Malaysian teacher and Top 50 global Teacher Prize 2015 finalist Yasmin Noorul Amin was also one of the three speakers who spoke on “getting girls into STEM (Science, Technology, engineering and Mathematics)”, one of the topics discussed under “Change in the Classroom” theme. Yasmin, who teaches chemistry at SMK la Salle in Petaling Jaya, shared her forensic science activities that she organised for her allboys students with the participation of students from an all-girls school.

“it does not matter if they are boys or girls, but we have to give students chances and motivate them to pursue STEM. I have been teaching boys for the past 15 years and it is important for me to continue with them as I believe we need to empower the boys to empower girls.

“There are around 15,000 to 16,000 female students in Malaysia in the Science stream last year. So that shows the interest is there.”

She said while there was no restriction for girls to take up STEM in Malaysia, the numbers did not necessarily translate to them pursuing STEM at the tertiary level.

“I graduated in aeronautical engineering, but my father told me to teach instead. So, I decided to be a science teacher, though I told myself that I cannot be just a teacher, but I have to be an extraordinary teacher.

“Although I had to forgo an engineering career, I still have the engineering mindset. So I engineer the minds of my boys to empower girls,” she said.

Also discussing the same topic were Emma Russo, a physics teacher from the United Kingdom, Metropolitan South West Science Teachers association president Kenneth Silburn and global Teacher Prize 2019 finalist Chifuniro M’Manga-Kamwendo.

The highlight of the two-day forum was the global Teacher Prize, presented for the fifth year, to an exceptional teacher for their outstanding contribution to the profession. This year, Peter Tabichi, a mathematics and physics teacher at Keriko Secondary School in Kenya was named the winner.

On winning the prize, Tabichi said: “I believe science and technology can play a leading role in unlocking Africa’s potential. We all know that scientific discovery and innovation fuel progress, facilitate development and can tackle issues such as food insecurity, water shortages and climate change.”

Tabichi mentored his students through the school’s Science Club, helping them design research projects that qualify for competitions. At the Kenya Science and engineering Fair 2018, his students showcased a device they had invented to allow blind and deaf people to measure objects. They came first nationally in the public schools category.

His students have also won an award from the Royal Society of Chemistry after harnessing local plant life to generate electricity.

“As a teacher working on the frontline, I have seen the promise of its young people — their curiosity, talent, intelligence and belief. Africa’s young people will no longer be held back by low expectations. africa will produce scientists, engineers and entrepreneurs whose names will be one day famous in every corner of the world.

And girls will be a huge part of this story,” Tabichi added.

GESF 2019 also hosted the next Billion Prize, which recognises leading education technology startups making an impact on education in low and emerging economies.

By Hazlina Aziz.

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Pathways for UEC candidates

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019
(File pix) Kuen Cheng High School UEC 2018 top students.

SOME independent Chinese school students do sit Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) along with Unified Examination Certificate examinations. Kuen Chen High School in Kuala Lumpur is an example of a school that practises this double-track academic system.

“We practise the dual track system whereby the media of instruction in the teaching of science and mathematics are English and Chinese.

Our students are taught three languages, namely Mandarin, English and Bahasa Malaysia so that they sit both the Junior UEC and Senior UEC as well as the SPM examinations,” said school principal Dr Chua Lee Lee.

“Our students can master all the three languages. For SPM, each student usually takes 10 to 12 subjects.”

At Kuen Cheng High School, SPM is compulsory for students in Senior Middle Two, equivalent to Form Five. Meanwhile, UEC is the compulsory exam for Senior Middle Three students, the Form Six equivalent. “A few students opt to leave school as soon as they complete

SPM,” added Chua.

Another specialty of this school is its iBT (Internet-based Test) English programme. This prepares students for external language examinations such as the Test of English as a Foreign Language and the Malaysian University English Test.

Last year, 398 students at Kuen Cheng High School sat the Senior UEC. Some 134 were in the Science Stream, 111 in the Commerce Stream and the remaining in the Art and Commerce Stream. Some 133 candidates scored 5As to 10As in last year’s examinations.

There are more than 100 private tertiary education institutions in the country which are open to UEC holders.

These universities and colleges include INTI International University and Colleges, Taylor’s University, Xiamen University Malaysia and Multimedia University.

“Former Kuen Cheng High School students have continued tertiary education at various local institutions such as Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman, HELP University and Sunway University,” said Chua.

“They have also been accepted to numerous universities abroad, namely Peking University, National University of Singapore, The University of Hong Kong and other universities including that of Australia, the US and the UK.”

INTI International University and Colleges, Malaysia accept UEC holders subject to Malaysian Qualifications Agency guidelines and approvals for their programmes.

“Following these guidelines, UEC students can progress to international degree programmes with our US, UK and Australian partner universities,” said INTI International College Subang chief executive Dr Jane Lim.

Regardless of education background, the deciding factors to be accepted into INTI are meeting the academic requirements and language proficiency for the respective courses. For students who fail to meet the latter, the university administers its own English Placement Test.

“INTI supports students who do not achieve the required grade through our Intensive English Programme,” said Lim.

“The programme is conducted to coach and improve proficiency level.”

UEC holders and other non-SPM students at INTI also take the Matapelajaran Umum subjects, namely Bahasa Kebangsaan as well as Malaysian Studies.

By Rayyan Rafidi.

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UEC conundrum: The task of reaching consensus

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019
Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik (second from left) with the UEC Task Force comprising (from left) Mohamad Raimi Ab Rahim, Eddin Khoo Bu Eng and Tan Yew Sing. Pix by NSTP/Mahzir Mat Isa

RECOGNITION of the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) from Chinese independent schools has been a long-standing issue in the chapters of the country’s education landscape.

With a 40-odd-year history, recognition of the UEC has again taken the spotlight with its inclusion in the Pakatan Harapan Manifesto in the 14th General Election.

The issue is to enable UEC holders to gain admission into the country’s public universities as well as public service, which has eluded them thus far.

To thoroughly understand the matter, and its impact and effects, the Education Ministry set up a task force last September to study the recognition of the UEC.

Headed by Eddin Khoo Bu Eng, founder of the Centre for the Study and Documentation of Traditional Malay Performances, the panel of three includes Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia president Mohamad Raimi Ab Rahim and Malaysia-China Chamber of Commerce president as well as vice-president of the United Chinese School Committees Association of Malaysia, otherwise known as Dong Zong, Datuk Tan Yew Sing.

In a recent interview with NST, Khoo said that although the issue over UEC had been going on for the last four decades, this is the first time a committee has been established to study the matter independently.

“Our job is to address this issue and provide recommendations to the government. We are not the ones who are making the decisions but as a result of our study, we will give suggestions. We have determined our methodology freely and we have agreed that the most in depth way (to carry out this study) is to get in touch with each party with a stand,” he added.

Since November last year, the task force has actively gathered views and feedback from various stakeholders and has up till Press time interviewed some 56 individuals and entities including associations, political parties, scholars and parents for their opinions on the issue.

“We are the intermediary party tasked to find out if the parties interviewed oppose or support recognising the UEC, or approach the issue empirically. Based on the findings we will give our recommendations in a report to be submitted to the ministry in July. It will then be presented to the Cabinet and it will be up to the government to decide.”


From the task force’s interactions with the stakeholders so far, it has observed that there are two stands with differing dimensions on the matter: to those who support the recognition of UEC, it is the issue of execution and administration.

“For them, if this administrative issue is resolved, there is no barrier to having UEC recognised,” said Khoo.

To those who are against recognition, their stance is mainly rooted in an abstract issue that is equally important — the status of the national language, national unity and national issues.

“So the meeting point is somewhat missed because of totally different angles. And it is a challenge for the committee to find the meeting point. We try to navigate the issue and look for this meeting point by holding a Socratic dialogue — by deconstructing the issue.”

While each stand must be recognised and respected, he said some of these standings are not based on educated processes and reflection on the issue so the interview process became dedicated towards gaining insight into the more in-depth issues.

“In most of our discussions, we ended up not focusing on just the UEC issue but more of viewing the matter in the bigger education context—national schools’ issues, lack of confidence in the national education system, education democratisation which already began to take place 20 years ago, parents’ choice and their view of the future of their children in a changing world,” said Khoo, adding that no one rejects the Malay language as the national language.

“All these have to be taken into question… no one side is totally right and no one side is totally wrong. Some have the view that if there are many systems or streams, which already exist, they will strain unity. But some argue that diversity is important — it affirms choices, allows you to decide what is best for your child.

“We have to remember that this highly personalised approach to education is not wrong either. So these are the challenges — everyone can have a view and the views have to be respected because they are solid views and the process of deconstruction has to be held so that we can understand and contextualise the problem.”

Mohamad Raimi said the process has kicked off a dialogue with regards to current education issues and is very much in line with the ministry’s initiative to reassess the nation’s education policy.

“The role of the task force is key to providing a dimension of the national and vernacular education systems in the country. Every student who passes through the education systems goes through an important process where he is able to integrate into a plural society with a single mission and vision and has an understanding of the same citizenship,” he commented, adding that any discussions on UEC should also be viewed in this context.

“For us in the committee, it is important we bring to the table for discussion people with integrity, connections and networks with various stakeholders. We have the capacity to get people across all sections to give their opinions on the issue. We hope to come up with a report which we hope will be made public like the Barnes Report and Rahman Talib report.”


The UEC as a qualification has been accepted at universities in countries such as Singapore, Australia and the United Kingdom.

“We will be meeting a few groups — the British Council, for example — to understand this move to recognise UEC at British universities and institutions of higher learning. For a lot of people in those countries, their relationship with China is very important now. And they are beginning to perceive a Chinese education background is of equal standing and quality to allow admissions into universities there.

“We have to consider using comparative models on the reason why those countries accept UEC for admissions.

Obviously, they see this move as a path in engaging further the fastest growing power in the world,” said Khoo.

While there are numbers and statistics of UEC holders at universities abroad, the committee has yet to study the delivery of the teaching and learning process, and pedagogy associated with UEC at schools which Mohamad Raimi feels is important.

“There is also a weakness in the UEC system where the mastery of Bahasa Malaysia, for example, is rather weak compared to students in the national education system,” he said.

“We see UEC’s strengths and weaknesses, and our objective assessment needs to be addressed against the backdrop of the number of enrolment in independent Chinese schools which currently stands at 80,000, comprising students from Form One till Form Six — the highest among private schools but small in terms of percentage of those sitting Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia.”

Examinations, he added, are only one final evaluation in the education system.

“The emphasis on a holistic education must also be taken into account and balanced with exam performance.”


The UEC Task Force will be going to state levels, in particular Melaka and Sarawak, for interviews.

“We will have an open townhall with all parties that have been interviewed. The moment you are interviewed, you are a stakeholder. Whatever the outcome, it will have been influenced by everybody there,” said Khoo.

He reiterated that there are many surrounding issues when discussing UEC — education and choices, administration and practice, and subliminal matters related to politics, language, national views and even psychology.

“The report will be exhaustive and comprehensive, and will uncover the position and climate of the education system along with the dimensions and problems gathered from the interviews. The transcriptions of the interviews will be uploaded and included in the final report. I want the report to be made public but that would be up to the Cabinet,” he added.

Mohamad Raimi sees the process as an opportunity for Malaysians to contribute rather than ask how it will all end up.

“Share with us your experience of the education process. We are in need of feedback and viewpoints. It not be through interviews, you can also email us to contribute towards a better national consultation,” he said.

On whether recognising UEC will open the floodgates to other such requests in future, Khoo has this to say: “One respondent who is a strong supporter of national education and public schools said there will come a time when public universities will have to recognise different qualifications for admission.

“But what will the criteria be — the quality and scholarly and intellectual standards? Who will decide and monitor? There are calls for an independent education board and it is a possibility. As we mature as a democracy, more autonomous bodies will come into being to oversee various aspects of our country including the education process.



It stands for the Unified Examination Certificate, which is the unified examination for Independent Chinese Secondary Schools in Malaysia.


The UEC was established in 1975 by The United Chinese School Committees’ Association of Malaysia (Dong Zong).


Among the objectives for this certificate is to act as an overall unified assessment of the Independent Chinese Secondary Schools’ academic performance. It also aims to create favourable conditions for UEC graduates to pursue tertiary studies and employment.


This yearly examination is taken by candidates enrolled in more than 60 Independent Chinese Secondary Schools across the country. It is open to all Junior Middle Three and Senior Middle Three students or those who have completed Senior Middle Three secondary education.

For this year, 25,298 candidates have been registered.


There are three levels, namely the Junior Middle Three exams, Senior Middle Three exams and Vocational section exams.


Junior Middle Three: Except for the language papers, all other subjects are in Chinese language. This excludes Sabah, which still has the bilingual (Chinese and English) exam papers for mathematics and science subjects.

Senior Middle: Except for language papers, 10 subjects are tested in Chinese and English language. Nine other subjects are tested only in Chinese.

Vocational section: Except for language papers, all four other subjects are tested in Chinese.

Source: Dong Zong (

By Rozana Sani.

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75,414 Sabahans in poverty list as of April 1

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019


Ewon and Ministry of Education and Innovation Datuk Dr. Yusof Yacob chatting with Pitas Assemblyman Datuk Bolkiah Ismail before the sitting started yesterday.

KOTA KINABALU: A total of 75,414 people in Sabah fell under the poverty list as of April 1, according to Sabah Minister of Rural Development Datuk Ewon Benedick.

He said of the total, 18,076 people were under the hardcore poor group, 20,259 poor and 37,079 excluded of poverty.

“The e-Kasih poverty statistics in Sabah was based on the report from Sabah Federal Development Office,” he said in a written reply during the Legislative Assembly sitting here.

He was answering a question from Lumadan Assemblyman Matbali Musah who asked how many people were hardcore poor, poor and easy poor in Sabah, and what was the new approach to bring all three categories out from poverty.

Ewon who is also Kadamaian Assemblyman said among the approach was through the implementation of various programmes including the Village Entrepreneurship Programme, Sewing Courses, Human Capital Training, and other programmes leading to the increase of income and quality of life for the group.

“In the meantime, there were also other agencies and departments be it State or Federal governments who played the roles in the effort to eradicate poverty such as Ko-Nelayan, Village Development Corporation, Sabah Land Development Board, Yayasan Usaha Maju, Malaysia Department of Fisheries Sabah and RISDA.

“Apart from that, these efforts also involved non-governmental organisations, private sectors, institutions, as well as local leaderships,” he said.

Answering Matunggong Assemblywoman Julita Majungki on the setting up of a Village Entrepreneurship Centre building in the Matunggong sub-district, Ewon stated that two buildings have been constructed at the end of 2017 while three more will be implemented once allocations were provided.

“So far, there are only two enterprises in the said centre which are virgin coconut oil and herb-based beauty products processing.

Five women died after consuming abortion pills bought online, says report.

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019

PETALING JAYA: Five women died after consuming abortion pills purchased online from 2015-2017, reported Sinar Harian.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad told the Malay daily that four cases occurred in 2015 while one more case occurred in 2017.

“Four of the cases were caused by bleeding after delivery, while another case involved an amniotic fluid embolism. All the cases involved the intravaginal insertion of products that contained misoprostol,” he was quoted as saying.

The Ministry also recorded three cases that were classified as life-threatening to the women who consumed the pills.

Dr Dzulkefly said that to avoid their sales from being detected by the Pharmaceutical division, the syndicates selling the pills used blogs, Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp among others.

They also used online websites such as, 11street, Lazada, Shopee and others.

Dzulkefly said that since 2017, 10 raids were successfully carried out and 17 items that contained misoprostol worth RM85,313 were seized

About 17 items worth RM85,513 smuggled in mostly from India and China have been seized.

Most of the pills were imported illegally from overseas, especially China and India.

Health Ministry director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that data recorded from January until April 15 recorded 18 websites that sold cytotec were determined and investigated.

Most of them were operating on Facebook and blogs.

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Mystery illness at Perak school turns out to be Influenza A(H1N1).

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019
IPOH (Bernama): Claims of a mysterious illness in Sekolah Tuanku Abdul Rahman (STAR) here that went viral on social media Tuesday (April 16) are not true as it is just an Influenza A(H1N1) infection, it was revealed Wednesday (April 17).

Perak Health, Consumer Affairs, Civil Society and Human Resource Committee chairman A. Sivanesan (pic) said 79 students, aged from 13 to 17, and a teacher were found to have fever and cough yesterday.

He said two of the students were admitted to a private hospital for treatment and observation and one of them was discharged today. The rest received outpatient treatment.

“They are all reported to be in stable condition. Twenty-eight of them were isolated. Four of the those with cough were confirmed to be Influenza A(H1N1) positive.

“The situation in the school is under control,” he told a press conference at the Bangunan Perak Darul Ridzan.

Sivanesan was asked to comment on a Facebook post that claimed that 100 students from the school were afflicted by a mysterious illness, with many of them coughing, vomiting and having a fever, which prompted their parents to take them home from the all-male residential school.

He said the Kinta District Health Office had taken measures to prevent the spread of the infection, including isolating the sick students.

As a means of checking infection, the public is advised to take preventive measures, including getting treatment at the clinic or hospital for influenza symptoms such as fever, cough and sore throat.

“Stay home during the period when you have the symptoms and reduce the number of meetings with friends or relatives, avoid public places such as shopping centres, schools, kindergartens or workplaces and do not attend public events,” he said.

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SIDMA College Family and Community Partnership Carnival

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019

SIDMA College Sabah Semester 5 and 6 Diploma Early Childhood Education (DECE) students have successfully organised a Family and Community Carnival at Tanjung Aru Beach, Kota Kinabalu on 13 April 2019. The 298 DECE students, with lecturers: Miss Nur Syafiqah Binti Usno, Miss Ivy Evannie Cyril Gusipin, Miss Valeria Padris, Madam Jessica Tangau and Madam Suzie Jainil as facilitators; collaborated with the management of SIDMA College Sabah to implement the carnival.

The event was officiated by Mr Terence Boyd Stephen; Manager (Student Affairs Department). In his official address, he stressed that the key focus of the programme was to expose SIDMA DECE students to better understand the related information, resources and tools to empower families, communities and schools together in partnership with one another, and collaboratively advocate for the growth of early childhood education students.

Kids in the modern era have so various needs; and teachers just can’t manage them in isolation. They need their family and even the whole community to be working with them; such as during weekend trips, family day and more. Children grow emotionally, intellectually, and physically through their relationships and their community. They might find this community in school or at home, on the playground or in the backyard. He hoped that students will benefit and gain knowledge and skills from organising the event.

Through networking with the respective community, it will enhance the cooperation and collaboration among schools, families, community groups, agencies in community. Schools can work with government and other agencies, voluntary organisations, as well as individuals and together develop a productive community connection. Through action such as repainting schools, landscaping of school compound, cleaning of school compound, building temporary classrooms and more it will create a warm, inviting and conducive atmosphere for the school children to learn.

For the event, SIDMA College students managed to form partnership with Kota Kinabalu Fire and Rescue Station and invited them to demonstrate on the use of fire-extinguishers to extinguish or control fire in case of fire outbreak in school or at home.

Queen Elizabeth Hospital Kota Kinabalu, through its Children Dental Department nurses demonstrated to kids and their parents on how to take care of their teeth. The traffic police department also participated by sending a team of traffic police officers to demonstrate on road safety procedures reminded parents that they should always remind their kids prior to sending them off to schools.

Through such networking with kindergartens in and around Kota Kinabalu and Penampang districts, more than 100 parents brought their kindergarten children along and benefitted from such programme. Some of the collaborating partners also sponsored goods, such as food and drinks for the kids, hampers as well as prizes for winners of competition held. Among the fun-based activities held for kids in the morning are kid’s fancy dress parade, filling bottles with water, and more. The event ended with tug-of war between the students and lecturers.

Adjunct Prof Dr Morni Hj Kambrie (Chairman and Founder) and Madam Azizah Khalid Merican (CEO) who were impressed with the effort and energy exhibited by the team of SIDMA DECE students for conducting the activity without official financial support from SIDMA Board of Management. They managed to solicit funding through partnership with the related community.

Dr Morni also took the opportunity to thank Dewan Bandaraya Kota Kinabalu (DBKK) for using the carnival site and its basic facilities such as toilets, and more. He also thanked the volunteers and officers from the various agencies such as Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Police Di Raja Malaysia, as well as from various other departments and agencies for their support, contributions in materials and in kinds. He also thanked all SIDMA College staff, parents, and the general public who took time off to bring along their kids to the event.

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SIDMA College Sabah Community Service Learning Activities

Wednesday, April 17th, 2019

Community Service Learning is a teaching method which provides opportunities for students to learn valuable academic, social, personal skills and values while fulfilling the needs of the local community. At SIDMA College Sabah, Community Service (Khidmat Masyarakat) is offered as a one-time visit to a very deprived and needy community; and is integrated with the academic curriculum. This Service Learning involves students either analysing or cleaning up a polluted river, beach, as part of their science curriculum; or cleaning up flooded houses, building or compound, repairing houses, and provides the necessary support to the community, as part of the social studies content.

A mixture of students’ outcomes can result from the combination of such service-related academic instruction, and students need to reflect on the services conducted, learning and improvement, and the larger related social (and political) issues. All of which can lead to students’ personal development (increased self-esteem, internal locus of control, etc); social development (group collaboration & corporation, related work skills); values development (civic responsibilities); academic development (basic academic skills, subject matter knowledge); and of course career development (career exploration and job related skills).

Apart from the above benefits, students who are engaged in community services improved their problem solving skills, improved their ability to work within a team, as well as to enable them to plan more effectively. Additionally, students get to network and cultivate connections between various organizations, schools and other institutions, as well as community grouping; which can prove to be very useful later in their life.

For the February 2019 Semester, SIDMA College managed to schedule four groups of 30 students in each group, to undergo such activities. Mr Azwie Ahamat led team “Zero to Hero” to conduct community service at Kampung Muhibbah, Menggatal, Kota Kinabalu on 29 March 2019. Here the students were given the opportunity to perform a “gotong-royong” to clean-up the surrounding or compound of a remote, isolated and unmanaged village house. They too managed to made donation in the form of basic necessities to assist the weak and elderly family of the house.

On 30 March, Mr Azwie led team “The Guardians” of 30 students to Kampung Baru Jumpa, Tenom. This team was lucky as the Tenom Parliamentary Representatives (YB Noorita binti Sual and YB Jamawi Jaafar) made their personal donations in cash for the occasion. With the money collected, the team manage to do some major repair work on to the old and shabby structure of a wooden village house as well as do the cleaning up the unmanaged compound.

On 5 April 2019, Ms. Maxlyana Fyona Marom, led team “We’re 4” of 30 students to do cleaning-up of Encik Nazrul Bin Kamsiong’s  shabby and leaking house at Kg Letinggi, Kota Belud. Apart from the cleaning activities, the team also contributed zinc sheets and pieces of plywood, and assist the family to do some repair work on the roof and walling of their house. The team also managed to solicit some financial assistance for the purpose.

Interestingly, Team “We’re 4 U” efforts went viral in Facebook and received immediate response from the state government, who took up the case and decided to build a new house for the very deprived Nazrul family.

The final team “Persatuan Anak Bawah Bayu” (PABB) visited the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Kota Kinabalu (SPCA) on 6 April 2019. Apart from cleaning-up the compound; they also cleaned up its dogs’ runs as well as cattery. The team of ladies also managed to dig the earth around the building to improve the drainage system of its compound. Each team member also contributed cash for SPCA’s activities. Later, through SPCA Kota Kinabalu web page, they thanked SIDMA College Sabah and the PABB team for their initiatives and effort shown.

During a reflection session held on 15 April 2019, all the team members felt thankful for the opportunities given to witness and personally experienced some of distress and difficulties gone through by some of our local community. They felt very unfair to let them continue living in such deprived situations, and hope that more can and should be done, both by the government and the members of the community to assist such deprived families.

Based on what they witnessed and experienced, the students felt very thankful to their parents for the efforts taken to raise them and provided them with good education, and they knew that they shouldn’t demand for more. They too felt very thankful  “BERSYUKUR” for what they possessed, and will continue to advocate for the deprived people.

In line with all the activities, Adjunct Prof Dr Morni (Chairman and Founder), Madam Azlina Ngatimin (Director, Corporate Relations and Business) and Madam Azizah Khalid Merican (CEO) were very impressed by the initiatives taken by these SIDMA College Diploma Early Childhood Education students; and thanked them for their efforts. They hoped that these students will continue to advocate and strive to improve the deprive conditions of the rural community even after they have completed their study.

They too conveyed their appreciations to Mr Azwie, Ms Fyona as well as to all who have collaborated to ensure the success of these community services, which is also served as part of SIDMA Corporate Social Responsibilities.

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NST Leader: Taking a new approach

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019
Despite the punitive measures to curtail drug distribution, drug seizures by enforcement authorities are almost a daily occurrence. (NSTP/IQMAL HAQIM ROSMAN)

MALAYSIA has been battling the drug menace for the longest time with punitive measures to curtail drug distribution and programmes to improve treatment of drug users.

While these showed varying degrees of success, the number of drug users, addicts and drug-related offenders continues to rise. Drug seizures by police are almost a daily occurrence.

Furthermore, records from the National Anti-Drugs Agency show that last year there were some 160,000 drug users and they still made up the majority of the prison population.

In February, police said the trend in drug abuse had changed from plant-based drugs (marijuana and heroin) to more harmful synthetic drugs (syabu and ecstasy).

Additionally, the emergence of psychoactive drugs is giving a new dimension to the problem.

Police are saying the drug menace has reached a new level. Such accounts do not paint a pretty picture of a country that aspires to join the league of developed nations.

Have we been doing it wrong all this while? It’s time, perhaps, to experiment with a different approach; decriminalise drug users, turn it into a public health issue, but go after the criminals — the kingpins — who supply and distribute the drugs. Drugs is big business.

A report by Global Financial Integrity (GFI) says the global market in drug trafficking has an estimated annual value of between US$426 billion (RM1.7 trillion) and US$652 billion.

Malaysia’s transformation into a modern and globalised society has necessitated a review of the current approach and strategy to the drug problem. But before we go down that path, studies need to be done to get a clearer picture of the problem in the current social context

Why the need for drugs?

Some do it because of peer pressure, a broken family, wanting to experience a new “high”, or to keep up with the Joneses. Others get addicted after taking prescription pain medication and developing a dependence on the very medication intended to help them.

Drug addiction is a substance use disorder, a disease, say some doctors. It is a public health issue, not a criminal justice one. And it should be tackled as such. But, how do we provide an enabling environment for proper care and treatment to reach drug users?

Amend drug laws and policies?

Consider Portugal, which has decriminalised all drugs since 2001; reportedly, there has been dramatic drops in overdoses, HIV infection and drug-related crime.

Portugal’s success, however, could not have happened without an enormous cultural shift, and a change in how the country viewed drugs, addiction, and itself.

For Malaysia to do the same it must be willing to make that “transformation”. It has been said that drugs have the potential to wipe out entire civilisations. And that is why the war against it must go on.

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