Archive for July, 2019

Sabah Education Dept: Use of ‘ghost smoke’ candy not observed beyond Papar district.

Monday, July 22nd, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Education Department says they have not received reports of the ‘ghost smoke’ candy being consumed beyond the Papar district.

Its director Mistirine Radin said reports of the candy being consumed had so far only come from Papar.

“We have yet to hear of similar incidents in other districts,” she said.

She said they were investigating the matter and had not received any statement from the Education Ministry over the issue.

“The Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) of a school in Papar lodged a report after they saw pupils allegedly taking the ‘ghost smoke’ candy,” said Mistirine.

She said the PTA reported the issue to the Papar Health Office and they subsequently informed the Papar Education Department office to issue letters to schools in the district warning them about the matter.

The consumption of the ‘ghost smoke’ candy is alarming to parents as they are unsure what ingredients are used to create the smoking effect and whether consuming the candies is harmful

By Stephanie Lee

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Re-sitting exam: Waste of time?

Monday, July 22nd, 2019

THERE are many students who have done very badly in their final examinations and do not know what to do next. They feel lost and withdraw themselves into their own world.  Whenever you ask them to re-sit, they are not very happy. They give many reasons for not doing so. They actually need help and guidance.

David (student)

David, for instance, failed his A levels. In fact he did very badly. Actually David is a very smart student.

He passed his SPM with flying colours. He didn’t really know what to do next. During an education exhibition, there was this college offering one – year A Levels.

They convinced him and his parents that he need not waste two years doing his Pre-U. He can take a short cut and save one-year.

Since he is a bright student, he can sail through his A Levels without any doubt.

With the assurance he got from the college, he enrolled for the one-year A Levels. Unfortunately, he was unable to cope.

In the Primary and secondary schools he studied everything in Bahasa Malaysia.

Most of the subjects were in Bahasa Malaysia. Suddenly, he has to do all the subjects (Physics, Chemistry, Biology) in English. Firstly, his English was weak. Secondly all the subject terminologies were in English.

He was struggling with his studies. When the results came out, he found that he had failed miserably.

The college told him that he could study on his own and re-sit. He tried that too but he was not successful. He failed again. He lost almost RM 40,000 doing his A Levels.

Today he just locks himself in his room and wants to be left alone. He is very reserved and feels very shy.

All his friends who did Matriculation and STPM have gone into tertiary education. As for David, he is still stuck with his A Levels.

The elders in his family advised him to enroll in another college and re-sit for the A Levels. But David is hesitating to do so.

Students like David must face reality. They have been studying in the Bahasa Malaysia stream for eleven years.

Suddenly, if they want to switch to taking A Levels in the English Stream it is not going to be easy.

Firstly he must master his English. Next he has to learn the subject terminologie  in English. This is going to take time.

The College should not have misled David. If he had taken the two-year A Levels, perhaps he would have coped with his studies.

What should he do next?

There are several options:

(a) He could enroll himself in a college and re-sit for his A Levels. Although his peers will be laughing at him from behind his back, but who cares. This is your life. You do what you feel is right. Ignore their remarks.

(b) He could switch to a different Pre-U such as SAME, Foundation Program, Diploma Programme, etc. There are “stiff” Pre-U programmes and “easier” programmes. Many easier Pre-U programmes are based on 60pc course work and 40pc final exam. Why not bite what you can chew?

(c) Find out about your ambition. Which career are you thinking of? Look at the various routes. There are competitive courses which requires you to have a good A Levels. There are also courses which only requires just any Pre U. You can also do a Diploma and reach your career path.  Be realistic.

Re-sitting exams

When you sit for an exam many factors could influence your results. You may be sick on the examination day and you didn’t do well in your examination. You had “examination fever.”

Your spotted topics that did not come out in the exam.

You misunderstood the question and wrote out of point. The examination format was changed and you didn’t know. You were not really prepared.

Something happened on your way to the examination hall. Someone close to you passed away.

Whatever it is, please re-sit and give yourself another chance. You don’t have to worry about what your peers or people around would say. This is your life. If you want to re-sit, it is your choice.

by K. Krishnan.

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SIDMA College Student Representative Council Handover and Installation Ceremony

Monday, July 22nd, 2019

An official handover ceremony for the newly selected members of the SIDMA College Student Representative Council (SRC) was held at SIDMA College’s Student Lounge on 19 July 2019. The ceremony marked the transition for the SRC as the Council of 2018/2019 officially handed over the reins to the incoming council of 2019/2020.

Prof Dr Morni Hj Kambrie (SIDMA College Founder and Chairman) announced his great pleasure to witness the handing over of responsibility from the 2018/2019 Student Representative Council to the successor.

On behalf of the college, Prof Dr Morni congratulated and thanked the previous SRC for their commitment, efforts and time taken to carry out their responsibilities and tasks throughout the year. He, too, welcomed and congratulated the incoming SRC committee members as new leaders to represent their fellow students

Prof Dr Morni added that the Handover Ceremony highlighted not only the change in student leadership, but also the making of student leaders and the importance of leadership, responsibility, discipline and good practices in SIDMA College Sabah. By taking up the role of SRC, the college provides the learning opportunities towards better self-development and greater opportunity to be engaged in community and solving social issues; thus helping to strengthen one’s character and confident to serve the larger community.

He reminded the new SRC leaders that upon receiving the handover of the SRC office, it comes with the key responsibility of upholding the service in carrying out the SRC duties with full commitment and purpose.

Despite having tight schedule, Prof Dr Morni took time to urge all students to seize their learning opportunities available in the college in order to pursue excellence in their studies amid all that they are going through.

SIDMA College key goal is to help all its students to gain their necessary industry-ready skills, technical knowledge, collaboration and teamwork as well as creativity and imagination to help them to succeed in whatever path that they eventually choose.

The Handover Ceremony began with a very touching speech by the outgoing President, Fikri Shah. In his speech, he thanked the outgoing council as well as all SIDMA staff who have collaborated and supported them throughout their tenure in the SRC. Fikri Shah then handed the SRC file to Coster Baragang as a symbolic for the handover.

The ceremony concluded with Prof Dr Morni being given the honour to present Certificate of Appreciation to the old council members as token of appreciation. The new council members were presented with their letter of appointment as new council member for 2019/2020.

Present during the ceremony were Puan Azlina Ngatimin (Director, Corporate Relations and Business Development), Puan Azizah Khalid Merican (CEO), Managers and Heads of Departments, and all Student Affairs Department staffs.

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Taking TVET to the next level

Sunday, July 21st, 2019

TECHNICAL and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) graduates are highly sought after and parents and students alike should not shy away from this field.

Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik said the employability rate of local polytechnic and community colleges reached a record 96% in 2018.

“(This is) a marked improvement from the year before,” he said during the certificate of collaboration signing ceremony between the Education Ministry and four industry partners on Wednesday.

The industry partners are Berjaya Corporation Berhad, Tropicana Corporation Berhad, Naza Group and Top Glove Corporation Berhad.

Although there has been a rise in employability rates, Maszlee said more needs to be done to attract more students to the TVET sector.

“We have embarked on many efforts to raise the standard of TVET in Malaysia,” he said.

These include the setting up a TVET Empowerment Committee to make TVET the “career of choice” among Malaysians and working with the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) and Skills Development Department (JPK) to create a single quality assurance system for TVET, he said.

“We need to be future-ready and world class,” he said, adding that they also want to be industry-driven like in Germany and China.

He said that the ministry is going to increase the number of TVET programmes and courses on offer.

He added that only 5.6% of students, which is around 22,000, enrolled in TVET programmes in 2018.

“Industry-driven TVET is key because it needs to be the primary choice for students,” he added.

Maszlee said this certificate of collaboration marks the next large step between the public and private sector to “take TVET to the next level.”

“The ministry is committed to establishing more ground-breaking partnerships.

“We are speaking with key companies across all economic sectors,” he said.

During the ceremony, Berjaya Corporation Berhad chief executive officer Datuk Seri Robin Tan Yeong Ching said expanding partnerships such as this should help ensure the sharing of industry knowledge and practices, facilities and technology.

However, it is not enough for students to have the right knowledge related to their field.

“They must also develop soft skills such as communication and interpersonal skills, as well as the right attitude in order to secure jobs and advance in their careers,” he added.

To this end, he said, Berjaya Corporation views this collaboration with the ministry as a “smart partnership” to enable students from polytechnic and community colleges to obtain internships and career opportunities with the corporation.

Naza Group chief strategy officer Azrul Reza Aziz said this collaboration will enable the company to facilitate and provide industry expertise in terms of curriculum development related to the relevant sectors.

Tropicana Corporation Berhad Marketing and Sales and Business Development managing director Ung Lay Tin said: “Tropicana is thrilled to share in this endeavour, sharing our venues as training spaces, opening doors for opportunities for real-world work experience and creating relevant joint training programmes.”

Top Glove Corporation Berhad manufacturing and operations adviser Datuk Dr Andy Seo commended the Government on their initiatives to reduce unemployment rates and provide a better space for highly-skilled local talent.

He also said that the company hopes to recruit at least 1,000 TVET talents, crucial to their expansion plans, next year for jobs in their Malaysian factories.

By Rebecca Rajaendram

Let’s fight for a policy that’s best for our kids

Sunday, July 21st, 2019
It is important that students not only understand English as a subject but also comprehend English as a medium of instruction.NSTP/File pic

I Was only 13 years old when the government decided to introduce the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI) in primary and secondary schools in Malaysia.

At that time, I had completed Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) and was enrolled in a new private secondary school.Unaware of the heated debate behind the policy, I was thrilled about the change.

I already loved reading English fiction and my family habitually spoke in English.Best of all,my new teachers were fluent in the language and superb at their jobs.

Fast forward to 16 years in the future and in an institution where I teach public speaking on weekends, my student is looking at me with a flash of panic after I asked for her opinion on a current issue.

I can see her mind working, eyes darting back and forth in thought and as she took a deep breath to speak, she suddenly changed her mind, shrugged her shoulders and abruptly sat down. Later,I found out that the student had opinions on the matter but didn’t know how to express them in words, and in particular, in English.

She told me that her thoughts were in Bahasa Malaysia, which meant she would have to go through a translation process in her head before speaking in my class.

This made it difficult for her to deliver speeches confidently and even when she didn’t understand some of the English words I was using, she confessed that she was usually too embarrassed to ask for clarification.

This troubled me because after graduating from high school and university with (relatively) good grades,I was a huge proponent of PPSMI.

Joining the ranks of students and teachers who were disappointed with the reversal of the PPSMI policy in 2012, I believed the policy had helped me tremendously as a science-stream student sitting the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia and subsequently gave me a competitive edge in university and in the workforce.

Now that the debate on the policy has started once again, I am not so certain. In hindsight, I realise that my circumstances put me in an advantageous situation in relation to studying Science and Maths in the English language.

I was fortunate to be fairly fluent in English and was enrolled in a private institution where the teachers were highly trained and effortlessly bilingual.

Others were not so fortunate.I suddenly recalled conversations with my cousins during Aidilfitri celebrations back in the kampung where they told me of their struggles with the switch in the medium of instruction and the difficulty they had in understanding new concepts.

Personal experiences aside, let’s look at some hard truths. In a context where the government had in the past flip-flopped on this issue to the detriment of all stakeholders,getting it done right is more important than getting it done quick.

With the bill to amend the Constitution to lower the voting age from 21 to 18 recently passed,education is of utmost importance to better empower our youth for the future.

Therefore, even though the PPSMI policy has been riddled with issues of politics, race, culture and nationality, it is now time to put such sentiments aside, capitalise on the spirit of bipartisan support and fight for a policy that is best for our future – our children.

But how do we bridge the gap between needing to increase Malaysia’s English proficiency levels to fuel economic growth and yet ensure students understand the concepts being taught in a foreign language?

Echoing the sentiment of the National Union of the Teaching Profession urging the government to learn from its past mistakes, a ‘bottom-up approach’ is needed to sustain the PPSMI policy.

I believemore should be done to improve teacher education.

Maths and Science teachers should be bilingual,to better understand and teach the subjects.

All schools, especially those in rural areas,need to retrain their teachers to adapt to the change.

Across the board, standards of English proficiency should also be improved by investing more in English education and information technology capabilities.

It is important to ensure that students not only understand English as a subject, but consequently, also comprehend English as a medium of instruction.Failure to do both would lead to students not learning English, and not learning anything at all.

I believe that everyone is eager to welcome back the policy.Parents are eager to better equip their children for the future.

The government is eager to reintroduce a sustainable version of the policy. I am eager for my students to speak confidently in English, empowered by better proficiency and understanding.

Nevertheless,we must ensure that Malaysia is not only eager and willing, but also able and ready for the change.


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Which is the best way to read?

Sunday, July 21st, 2019
Courses at universities use both printed and digital reading materials.

JUST about everything nowadays is going digital. When it comes to electronic books (or e-books), however, there has been a lot of discussion and debate on their usefulness and relevance.

The printed form has notable, good qualities including being easier on the eyes and less distracting.

But the benefits of e-books are aplenty, such as being lightweight and flexible and interactive. And they can be read in the dark.

Law student Adnan Yunus, 20, from Inti International University, said his course utilises both printed and digital reading materials.

“Students here usually use reading materials adapted from notes that have been prepared by lecturers. The primary material that students and lecturers still rely on are hard copy textbooks. However, we are also encouraged to undertake extensive research online.”

Nurul Nabilah Sulaiman, 24, a quantity surveying undergraduate from International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM), said: “Our lecturers provide materials online. We are also encouraged to read books so that we can get the bigger picture of what the topic is all about.

“There were one or two classes which required us to purchase reference books,” said Nurul.

Do students read texts on-screen as effectively as they do on paper? Can students learn better from one type of reading material compared to the other?

HigherED spoke to students and lecturers from various fields to get their views.


IIUM Psychology student Rayhana Talib, 23, said that students in her course are expected to purchase printed textbooks which are usually also available in digital form.

The fourth-year student said: “In class, I prefer digital books because of easy access through devices. Plus, you don’t have to carry heavy textbooks to classes.”

“From experience and research, I find that digital resources allow one to skim over information very quickly, which is extremely helpful and complements conventional lectures and classes.

“With e-books, I save on paper and money. Some students also feel that physical textbooks are expensive and I agree that this is one downside. But a visit to the library never hurts. I have been doing so throughout the course of my studies,” said Rayhana.

Muhammad Haziq Shaharuddin, 20, a dentistry undergraduate from Universiti Malaya, said that his lecturers provide online reading materials and he prefers going digital.

“Lecture notes can be accessed through Spectrum, our university’s online learning management system. For additional reading, lecturers will recommend textbooks which we can buy in printed or digital form.

“Digital materials have definitely helped me learn and understand my lessons better compared to printed books. Instead of just reading through long text and pictures, I learn through videos and interactive notes as well. This makes learning much more interesting,” said the first-year student.

Muhammad Haziq added that it is also easier to take notes during lecturers and classes using a digital device.

“I use a stylus pen and an app called Notability for highlighting and jotting down notes. The app allows me to open two files simultaneously on a screen which is useful when I want to write my notes while referring to an e-book.

“My digital notes are a lot more organised and colourful compared to ones written on paper. The fact that I can zoom in and out of the screen helps me a lot”.

The first-year dentistry undergraduate added that it is more convenient, saying: “Every morning I just pack my device in my bag and I’m good to go. There’s no need for me to bring thick and heavy books or files to class when I have everything that I need on my iPad.”

Michelle Lim Ke Wei, 22, who studies at Tunku Abdul Rahman University College, does not encounter problems studying using e-books.

“I highlight my notes on my iPad and it is very convenient. Normally, I will download the notes from Google Classroom or from a website journal and save it in PDF format.

“Printed books usually do not include the latest news on certain topics of discussion. Hence, I go for digital resources to help me better understand certain issues in my studies.”

Michelle Lim Ke Wei enjoys reading e-books and taking notes with her iPad.


However, there are also many students who find reading printed materials and books as being a much better option for learning and studying.

Both Adnan and Nurul Nabilah said that they prefer reading printed books.

“I find that I am able to absorb information better when they come from printed materials,” said Adnan.

“I also find that hardcopy books are more convenient compared to digital resources. Reading on-screen can be problemetic when they is lagging issues that happens from time to time when using a digital platform or device,” added Nurul Nabilah.

Ethan Wong Hsien Aun, 20 from Monash University Malaysia, agrees that physical books help him learn more effectively.

“The conventional pencil-and-paper approach to taking down notes allows me to retain and recall information better.

“By physically writing, I can make sense of my notes. I can draw mind maps and I connect pieces of information together faster,” said Wong, a tropical environmental biology undergraduate.

Wong added that he may use e-books during lectures but he does not do so when it comes to doing revisions.

“I normally transfer the e-notes onto paper by writing them all out as preparation for examinations.”

“I try to reduce my dependence on reading digitally because it can be glaring and it makes me susceptible to slacking off as I may scroll through social media. The sound of a notification can also rob my attention and disrupt my focus,” said the third year undergraduate, who added that he would put away his laptop and other devices when carrying out revisions.

For Adnan, he needs to internalise information that he has learnt, as it is not just about retaining them. This is why he prefers physical books.

“The best way to remember a subject matter is to create and draft out our own notes on a piece of paper or by using mobile devices. This allows us to identify important points and to critically analyse and decipher what is important.

“With on-screen reading, I rarely find the right source on a subject immediately. It is important for students to know what they are looking for. With physical books, the sources of information are more specific,” he said.

Adnan said that although a vast amount of content exist on digital platforms, it can easily cause him to lose concentration.

“Personally, reading on-screen is a challenge because my attention and focus are constantly disrupted.”

Adnan added: “I often go through research databases to gain additional information which is important when studying for exams.

“Searching for information online can be tough as it is mentally exhausting and there is endless amount of information to sift through.

“For me, reading from a physical textbook or journal for a couple of hours is more manageable. I find that I am able to retain information better this way,” he said.

For Nurul Nabilah, reading physical books leads to a better understanding. “I am able to take down notes and scribble, especially the parts which I do not understand. Later, I can refer to my lecturers or friends who can help me.”

Despite preferring e-books for in-class references, Rayhana still relies on physical books for revision.

“In understanding what is learnt, they are a much better option. They have fewer distractions — as people tend to multitask when on their devices — and it is easier to read and comprehend information when you can flip through pages.

“When preparing for exams, there are a lot of materials to read. So, if I rely on digital resources, it will take a considerably longer time to finish reading and comprehending it all. I would also need time for my eyes to rest and recover from the glare of the screen,” said Rayhana.

Muhammad Haziq, meanwhile, uses the iPad to access e-books when preparing for exams.

“The iPad helps me study faster. Whenever I need to search for something, instead of flipping through the pages, the search bar leads me to the exact page or content. I use this tool a lot and this helps me save time.”

However, he admitted that there are distractions. “Sometimes I do take a break to watch Youtube videos or play games,” he admitted.


Dihlvinder Kaur Gill, an INTI International University Law lecturer, said that using e-books is a positive step forward.

“When used simultaneously, online and printed resources provide students with a versatile learning experience. Interactive materials serve to enhance the students’ understanding by reinforcing concepts through a visual manner and encourages active learning.

“I usually assign additional reading materials which include case studies in both printed and digital formats,” said the senior lecturer.

Associate Professor Dr.Tan Chee Pin, Mechatronics Engineering programme head at Monash University, said that digital materials provide a more thorough form of guidance.

“Students are able to see and piece relevant concepts together more easily, as opposed to having the facts displayed all at once.

However, Tan personally prefers printed books. “There is a great advantage to having physical books — it feels more natural and it is easier to annotate and manipulate. It is more engaging to have something physical, especially if the topic is deep and requires a lot of abstract thinking.”

Associate professor Dr Firdaus Hariri, the deputy dean of UM’s Dentistry Faculty, said: “People today want everything to be at their fingertips. I think most institutions are moving towards e-books and e-learning.

“Subjects such as Anatomy are now being taught via virtual reality. Students can have immediate access to digital resources during discussions and clinical sessions.”

Dr Roziha Che Haron, a quantity surveying lecturer at IIUM, said that she prefers students to use and refer to printed materials for certain subjects.

“For instance, in principles of measurement, students need to be equipped with the Malaysian Standard Method of Measurement (SMM).

“But there is a need to adopt various techniques to better teach the younger generation. E-books make them adept at understanding subjects better,” Roziha pointed out.

Pamilia Lourdunathan Andrew, a psychology lecturer at IIUM, said: “Digital books are more appealing as they can be accessed while waiting for public transportation or during train rides.

Printed books are still preferred by students.

However, Pamilia highlighted that printed books are equally important.

“For example, dated books from founders of psychology theories are vital for learning, and not all of these are readily available online,” said Pamilia.

Associate Professor Dr. Dorothy Dewitt, from UM’s Education Faculty, said that e-books can enhance students’ learning experience.

“With digital resources, you can utilise both audio and visual channels. If students just read and read, they won’t remember what they are supposed to learn,” said Dewitt.

She cited Allan Paivio’s dual-coding theory, which claims that people learn better when they utilise two channels at the same time.

Dewitt added: “By using a device to read, you can synthesise information and write as you read which makes it very useful. And when you click on a certain hyperlink, you will find further resources.

“Looking at research and our students, most of them, especially the undergraduates, prefer the online version. But some older students who are doing their masters and PhD still prefer hard copy books.”

By Rayyan Rafidi.

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Lam Thye calls for task force to address school bullying

Sunday, July 21st, 2019
Social activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye says a special task force should be set up to look into the problem of bullying in schools. — NSTP/RAMDZAN MASIAM

GEORGE TOWN: Social activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye says a special task force should be set up to look into the problem of bullying in schools.

He said the rise in bullying cases of late warranted action on the part of the Education Ministry.

He said video footage that had gone viral recently showed that such “acts of violence” were not confined to boys, but involved girls as well.

“This is a serious matter which warrants the ministry to do a thorough study into the causes of these acts of bullying that are on the increase in schools today.

“Is it due to lack of discipline among students or external factors, such as what they see on the outside, including television, that are influencing them?

“Or could it be due to stress among students?

“As I said, all this needs very thorough studying.

“I am sure that the ministry is able to get the experts.

“The Parent Teacher Associations must also be involved because their children may be the victims or the perpetrators,” he said at a motivation camp for UPSR students organised by the Eco World Foundation, here, today.

Lee, who is the chairman of the foundation, said schools were not only for educating students to be good academically. He said character development was equally important.

“The inculcation of noble values are also in schools where students are taught noble values… but to what extent are students putting it into practice? I think these things are very important.”

The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) recently issued a stern warning to the public not to spread video footage of a student being bullied as it had the potential to fuel racial sentiment.

Lee said Eco World Foundation was committed to helping students under its Student Aid Programme (SAP) despite funding challenges in the current uncertain economic situation.

By Audrey Dermawan.

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Digital gaming industry can generate huge returns

Sunday, July 21st, 2019

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia needs to continue to focus on the digital gaming industry as it can help generate a lucrative income for the country, said Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo (pic).

He said the industry had improved vastly alongside other digital entertainment industries such as film making and animation series that have raised the country’s stature in the world.

He noted that in 2017, some 60 local game-making studios recorded exports worth RM600 million.

“Apart from the ability to generate billions of ringgit for the national economy, it can also create employment opportunities, especially for young people,” he said in his speech at the Kre8tif! @Schools programme, here, Saturday.

According to him, positioning Malaysia as a hub for the digital content creation industry will also attract more foreign investment.

Gobind said the country actually had great but lesser-known talents such as Wan Hazmer Wan Abd Halim, who was the lead designer for the “Final Fantasy XV” video game.

“Previously Wan Hazmer worked in Japan with a world-renowned gaming company, but he has now returned to Malaysia to help local talents,” the Minister said.

Gobind also congratulated Animonsta Studios for their latest animated movie, BoBoiBoy: Movie 2, releasing on August 8, which will also be hitting cinemas in Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia and Vietnam.

In the meantime, he emphasised that the development of the digital economy in the country should be inclusive so as not to sideline the disabled community.

“Let’s work together to build a Malaysia that is digitally inclusive,” he said, citing his Ministry’s co-operation with telecommunications companies such as Celcom, Maxis, Digi, UMobile and YTL to introduce special mobile phone packages for people with disabilities.

He said the special prepaid and post-paid packages were very beneficial to the group, as it would give them the opportunity to use the Internet as a platform to trade, and help them live more independently.

Commenting further, Gobind said the Kre8tif! @Schools programme for special needs students introduced by the Ministry and Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), would allow them to learn about creative technologies such as ‘3D modelling’ and animation.

Kre8tif! @Schools, he said, was a commitment by both his Ministry and MDEC to actively develop the creative digital content industry.

“We have many other programmes in the pipeline to ensure the Malaysian digital economy continues to grow and the people can enjoy mutual prosperity,” he said.

Meanwhile, at a press conference after the event, he said the Ministry would take appropriate measures to help film industry players in the country to venture into animation.

Aspiring for inspirational science

Friday, July 19th, 2019
A handout photo provided by the European Southern Observatory on April 10, 2019 shows the first photograph of a black hole and its fiery halo, released by Event Horizon Telescope astronomers (EHT). PIC BY European Southern Observatory/ AFP

IN the world of science and technology, the first half of 2019 has marked a number of milestones and triumphs. In biomedical research, progress being made in gene editing and immuno-therapeutics has not shown any signs of slowing down despite the controversy associated with gene editing. Years of research are now bearing fruit as these technologies begin to find practical applications in treating human diseases, or are being used to further the research capability.

In April, just days apart from each other, we were presented with the first photographic image of a black hole and the first commercial mission for the aerospace company SpaceX using its Falcon Heavy launch vehicles.

Unsurprisingly, the image of the black hole was just that, a black focal point, surrounded by an orange glow – and it was a fuzzy out of focus image at that. So what’s the big deal?

In order to better appreciate that achievement, we need to imagine being able to discern a black spot in a black background; add to that the fact that the spot is millions of light years away — a distance that the majority of us, including me, will have difficulty coming to grips with.

The existence of black holes have long been theorised by many famous physicists including Albert Einstein and Stephen Hawking.

The first photographic evidence of a black hole was provided by a team that had been working on the problem for well over a decade. Snapping a picture of a black hole in deep space needs a very large telescope named the Event Horizon telescope (EHT). What the team had done was to use the Earth itself as a giant telescope by placing eight receivers across the world to collect data.

The signals received by the EHT were then computationally processed to render the image presented to the public — quite an ingenious solution to the problem.

The success of SpaceX’s first commercial mission using its Falcon Heavy launch vehicle is clearly paving the way for more routine, safer and cheaper space flights.

For those who have never heard of SpaceX, it is a company with the distinction of being the first private enterprise to launch a liquid fuelled rocket into orbit, a capability that used to be only the domain of government space agencies.

Not many may know it, or may have perhaps forgotten that Malaysia and SpaceX has a historical connection.

SpaceX’s first ever commercial mission was none other than the Malaysian Earth observation satellite RazakSAT. Although that particular mission did not quite go as planned, the SpaceX rocket’s launch went about as well as could be expected when one is launching tonnes of explosive flammable materials off into space.

We can all probably agree that although the black hole photograph was quite a feat, we might be left wondering as to what the point of it all was.

Being able to capture a fuzzy picture of glowing gas being trapped by the intense gravity of a black hole at such an unimaginable distance away does not seem to make our lives any better.

This is where we need to understand that much of the knowledge and technology that we have today were serendipitous outcomes of research.

However, that does not mean that scientists are just aimlessly exploring without direction. It simply means that research directed at understanding something else, may have applications in other areas or that was not its originally intended use.

For example, the microwave ovens found in millions of kitchens was an unintended application that came out of research into radar.

So what about the black hole research? Well, the wireless connectivity that we refer to as WiFi actually came out of research in the field of radio astronomy, the same research area that provided evidence of the black hole’s existence.

A few years down the road, that same technology used to image a black hole may find utility in other areas that seems to be totally disconnected such as imaging of diseased cells for cancer diagnosis.

Progress and leadership in science and technology require a pioneering spirit and the courage to venture into the unknown. As a nation, we have not really made many headlines in the pioneering of things, much more so in science and technology. I am sure there are some, perhaps even many, who may disagree when I say that Malaysia has not had much success in science and technology.

After all, it is an acknowledged fact that Malaysian scientists and academics are among the most prolific at publishing academic papers in the region. But if Malaysian academics are publishing so many scientific research papers, why are we not seeing much success being reported in the world’s news headlines?

Let me first clarify that what I term as success are not achievements such as the number of papers being published, the number of patents being filed, awards or medals being won in expos, or even seemingly triumphant news of cures for a particular disease that are reported in our local media. In some cases, there are also claims of innovation that are unrecognised by many others, or even a success that involves a Malaysian expert but working in a foreign institution.

The success that I am referring to will only come about by focusing on high quality research. To focus on research quality, we have to dig deep and be willing to venture into research that will end up in textbooks, or even rewrite the textbooks. This in turn requires commitment not only from the scientists, but also from the funding agencies.

Developing short-term solutions to solve problems is acceptable and necessary. But we must also consider long-term goals and have the courage to explore the unknown that lie beyond the frontiers of existing knowledge.

This is where the funding agencies need to also play an important role in funding research that answer fundamental questions, but may not necessarily have obvious or any foreseeable applications other than to enrich our understanding of the universe around us.

The scientific output must therefore also be valued under such light — such as the impact it has made in the field and the depth it has achieved. The powers that be must also allow for revolutionary means of assessing research impact that is not dictated by currently used indicators only. We should not target numbers that gives us an illusion of progress but in actuality has stalled us as the rest of the world leaps forward.

We should aspire to celebrate science and technology that sparks excitement and that can inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers to continue the progress made by standing on the shoulders of giants.

By Mohd Firdaus Raih.

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SIDMA College 2019 Annual Sports Carnival

Tuesday, July 16th, 2019

Team Adidas emerged as the overall champion during the SIDMA College 2019 Annual Sports Carnival held at Penampang Sports Complex on 14 July 2019 The team secured a total of 12 Gold, 8 Silver and 7 Bronze medals. The two days carnival which began on 13 July 2019 was participated by a total of eight teams namely: Adidas, Umbro, Under Armour (team for SIMA staff), Converse, Nike, Line-7, New Balance and Puma; from the staff and students of the college. During the carnival, the following activities were held: Football (Male), Netball (Female), Sepak Takraw (Male), Street Soccer (Female), Volleyball (Male and Female), Badminton (Male and Female) as well as a complete range of track and field events.

Team Line 7 managed to capture a total of 9 Gold and 5 Silver medals, and thus was placed as the first runner up.  Team Umbro managed to capture the second runner up after scoring a total of 6 Gold, 12 Silver and 7 Bronze medals.

During the event, athlete Ewy John, a four gold medallist from team Polo; and athlete Marnesna binti Janes, from Team Puma, who scored two Gold, one Silver and one Bronze, were respectively declared as the Best Sport Man and Woman for the year 2019.

The main focus of the carnival was to enable the close to 2000 staff and students from different programmes and faculties in SIDMA College Sabah to participate and showcase their sporting talents, honouring and awarding the talented athletics, while witnessing, nurturing and enjoying the spirit and championship of sports. It’s also an opportunity for staff and students to build and develop rapport, communication skills, fostering goodwill among staff and students, enhancing leadership quality as well as making more new friends.

The second day of the carnival began with a grand march past whereby contingents from the eight participating teams were given the opportunity to showcase their marching skills, team work and respect to the Guest of Honour of the day, Prof Dr Morni Hj Kambrie, Founder and Chairman of SIDMA College Sabah and Sarawak. Accompanying Prof Dr Morni were Puan Azizah Khalid Merican (CEO), Puan Azlina Ngatimin (Director, Corporate Relations and Business Development), Managers, Heads of Departments, lecturers and staff.

Prof Dr Morni during his officiating address congratulated the Project Director Mr Biffolye Galim, Student Affairs Department (STAD) and Students Representative Council (SRC) for the effective planning, collaboration, teamwork, leadership skills to ensure the successful implementation of the carnival.

He too took the opportunity to remind all athletes, staff and students to preserve and practice the spirit of good sportsmanship, cooperation, collaboration as well as team spirit among all parties. To all SIDMA College community, Dr Morni advised them to continue and upgrade their sporting activities as there is scientific evidence on the positive effects of sports and physical development as part of healthy lifestyles.

To encourage SIDMA College students to continuously improve their sporting skills and career, Dr Morni advised SIDMA College athletes who were active sportsman / sportswomen during their schooling days and had at least being selected to represent their respective district or division level sports tournament to submit their details to STAD for further actions; such as for recommendation to be awarded scholarship by relevant authorities.

To inaugurate the event, Prof Dr Morni, accompanied by Madam Azlina and Madam Azizah were given the honour to lit up the flame (torch) of sportsmanship and to raise the flag of SIDMA College Sabah, symbolising the starting of the carnival.

The overall results of the carnival are:






1st ADIDAS 12 8 7
2nd LINE 7 9 5 Nil
3rd UMBRO 6 12 7
4th UNDER ARMOUR 6 6 9
5th PUMA 5 5 6
6th NIKE 3 5 4
7th CONVERSE 3 4 4
8th NEW BALANCE Nil 2 9

SIDMA’s Prima Dansa Dance Club was given the honour to showcase their special dynamic dance performance to motivate the athletes and the audience.

Toddlers from SIDMA College Didi Childcare Centre were specially invited to perform a special event named “Kids Fun Run”. SIDMA staff’s children aged 12 years and below were invited to participate in a Beyblade competition, a line of spinning of top toys held at Penampang Sports Complex as a supplement event.

The carnival ended with medals, prizes and lucky draws presentation by Madam Azizah Khalid Merican, Puan Azlina Ngatimin and Prof Dr Morni. Prof Dr Morni also personally sponsored lucky draws prizes for some of the lucky winners present during the event in addition to the sponsorship by SIDMA College and its subsidiaries. Everyone went home happily and feeling energised and motivated soon after.

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