Archive for August, 2020

Muhyiddin wants to increase social welfare aid to RM1,000

Monday, August 31st, 2020

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin delivers his speech at a meeting with community leaders at Dewan Hakka, Sandakan today. – Bernama photo

SANDAKAN (Aug 30): Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has suggested that the Social Welfare Department’s monthly aid of between RM200 and RM300 for needy people be raised to RM1,000.

He said this proposal would be tabled at the Cabinet meeting next week.

“I know this statement of mine has a big implication but I don’t care.

“What is important is the livelihood of our people down there…they have suffered for a long time,” he said at a meeting with community leaders here today.

Muhyiddin said the Perikatan Nasional government was determined to continue with efforts to help the B40 group.

Muhyiddin said he was saddened by the plight of this group, given the fact that the country had been independent for so long.

He said life had been a big struggle for them because their income was small.

Muhyiddin arrived in Sabah yesterday for a two-day visit, his first since being appointed the prime minister in March.

by Bernama.

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Sabah education system must go hand in hand with needs of private sector

Monday, August 31st, 2020

KOTA KINABALU: The State’s education system must go hand in hand with the needs of the private sector to decrease the number of jobless graduates.

Sabah caretaker chief minister Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal said further studies must be carried out for this “educational reform” in creating tailor-made courses that should cater to market specific skill sets.

He suggested this during the Sabah Foundation one-off cash handing over ceremony at Tun Mustapha Tower.

Shafie said RM15 million was spent by the previous government administration that went to 10,838 undergraduates across Sabah.

“A total of RM1,000 went to each Sabahan studying here and RM2,000 for those studying outside the state,” he said in his speech.

Some 3,600 aspirants benefitted from the financial aid yesterday but only 100 had personally received it, following RMCO procedures.

Meanwhile, financially decaying University Sabah College Foundation (UCSF) that was hit hard by the pandemic continues to be backed.

However, the state owned institute is urged to market for students outside of Sabah so it may become self-sustaining.

“More students mean more school fees. Methods to attract them must be intensified,” Shafie added.

UCSF staff were forced to resign or take a 50 per cent salary cut with working hours reduced to three days a week in a drastic measure taken during the Movement Control Order earlier in June.

By Jonathan Nicholas.

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I become minister not to be popular —Radzi

Monday, August 31st, 2020

Dr Radzi Jidin – Bernama file photo

KOTA KINABALU: Senior Minister (Education) Dr Radzi Jidin, stresses that he holds the post not to become popular but to ensure that every Malaysian especially youths receive proper education.

The village boy from Ketereh, Kelantan, who had the opportunity to study in one of the best schools in the country, the Royal Military College, before furthering his studies in Australia, vowed to repay the chance he had by ensuring the people get the best education.

He said making surprise visits to schools has become a routine for  him to see for himself the neutral learning environment, besides personally asking for feedback from teachers and students to improve the country’s education system.

“That (becoming popular) is not needed, what is required is the implementation of methods and policies that benefit students and parents.

“We can do it. We have the resources, that is why I say I do like anything fancy. What is important is the delivery.

“This is because education can change lives,” he said in his speech during a high tea ceremony with the Sabah media here yesterday.

Radzi said at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, the country’s education faced numerous challenges in ensuring every student would not be left behind (in studies).

New methods of learning such as virtual learning needed to be adapted by various parties particularly teachers and students.

“Many students did not learn during the MCO (Movement Control Order), we know, but when the schools open, the holiday comes, so when is the syllabus going to be completed?

“As a responsible ministry, we cannot allow this to happen, that is why I take the risk, despite the complaints, to stick to the plan, to make sure the students will not miss their lessons because of MCO,” he said.

He said he understood the burden felt by teachers, but asked them to give their best.

by Bernama.

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Sabah open to cooperative relationship with federal govt – Mohd Shafie

Monday, August 31st, 2020

Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal – File photo

KOTA KINABALU (Aug 31): The Sabah government is always open to working with the federal government on state and national development matters, said caretaker Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.

The  Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) president said Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had been made aware of this.

“I have informed him (Muhyiddin) that Sabah is prepared for a cooperative relationship with the federal government and will cooperate G-to-G (government with government)  for the benefit of the country.

“We are different when it comes to politics and lets leave that aside. My political stance on certain matters and principles may differ but we will cooperate in building the country. That is important,” he told reporters after attending the state-level National Day celebration here, today.

Mohd Shafie was commenting on Muhyiddin’s statement on Saturday, in which he was reported as saying, it would be better if the Sabah government was aligned with the federal government led by him as this would bring greater impact in various aspects.

Muhyiddin said this during his  two-day working visit to the state which ended yesterday.

Sabah will hold its state election on Sept 26 following the dissolution of the state legislative assembly on July 30.

The dissolution of the state assembly was announced by Mohd Shafie a few hours after former Sabah Chief Minister Tan Sri Musa Aman claimed that he had secured a simple majority to form a new state government, thus overthrowing the Warisan-led government.

by Bernama.

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Follow guidelines on reporting suicide, please

Monday, August 31st, 2020
Reporting on suicides can help raise awareness and promote suicide prevention, and we laud the efforts on the part of the media in doing so.Reporting on suicides can help raise awareness and promote suicide prevention, and we laud the efforts on the part of the media in doing so.

LETTERS: Referring to suicide cases, we wish to highlight our concerns regarding the press coverage on suicide deaths in Penang recently.

Although some have respected and followed the 2017 WHO media recommendations of responsible and safe suicide reporting, it is regretful and disappointing to see that others have not done so.

Reporting on suicides can help raise awareness and promote suicide prevention, and we laud the efforts on the part of the media in doing so.

On the other hand, the impact of ‘unsafe’ reporting can be detrimental as it can further traumatise people with lived experience and even lead to copycat behaviour or cluster suicides, and this has been documented in research studies.

Unsafe reporting includes the use of graphic images or actual pictures depicting the method of suicide, the footage of the suicide location, pictures or unnecessary details of the deceased and their family, sensationalised headlines, stigmatising language and implying that the deaths were due to a single cause.

It is important to highlight that suicide deaths are preventable and the causes are often due to a complex interaction of multiple factors. The do’s and don’ts on safe reporting of suicides are well documented in 2017 WHO recommendations.

Highlighting on help-seeking and news on how positive coping can prevent suicides can contribute to suicide prevention. Similarly speaking up on stigma and encouraging proper care of mental health issues and help-seeking; providing information on how to access care and helplines (by providing a few sources) are very helpful.

We cannot do this (suicide prevention) alone. We recognise that the media is a vital and key stakeholder in suicide prevention, and we would like to reach out to you, the media, to work together with us to prevent further suicides.

Every life is valuable. One suicide death is already too many. Let’s work together to prevent suicides.

Datuk Leslie Lee Kim Guan, President D’HOME Mental Health Association

Dr Teh Ewe Eow, Honorary Treasurer

Dr Ng Yin Ping, Committee Member.

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Agong: Uphold, practise Rukun Negara principles always

Monday, August 31st, 2020
 Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah attend the live telecast of the National Day programmes on Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) in Dewan Serbaguna Dataran Pahlawan Negara. - BERNAMA picYang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah attend the live telecast of the National Day programmes on Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) in Dewan Serbaguna Dataran Pahlawan Negara. – BERNAMA pic

KUALA LUMPUR: The Rukun Negara that was instituted 50 years ago as the basis of national unity and formation of the country is not merely to be upheld symbolically each time the pledge is recited on the National Day.

Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdulllah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah said the soul and spirit of the Rukun Negara should be appreciated and practised in all aspects of daily life instead.

“The five principles of Rukun Negara forms the formula of how the people of various races, religions, cultures and languages can overcome differences and diversity to live in peace and harmony.

“The Rukun Negara also demands a nation-state that is formed on the strength of strong religious beliefs, while the people are required to be loyal to the King who is the umbrella and symbol of the country’s sovereignty,” he said.

His Majesty said this in his Royal Address in conjunction with the 50th Anniversary of the Rukun Negara and National Day 2020, which was broadcast live by television stations, including Bernama TV, here today.

The celebration was held in Putrajaya.

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong said the core principles outlined in the Rukun Negara are universal in nature that cuts across noble values of all nations and religions and capable of becoming a guide for the citizens of an independent nation.

Therefore, Al-Sultan Abdullah said the principles should serve as a guide and be practised by all quarters, including the country’s leaders, the government and Malaysians.

At the same time, Al-Sultan Abdullah also reminded all quarters to respect and defend all things that matter, including privileges and rights that had been agreed upon and enshrined in the Federal Constitution.

“Justice in this country is bound by laws that must be respected and complied with by every citizen regardless of rank and title,” said His Majesty.

Meanwhile, in celebrating National Day, themed “Malaysia Prihatin” (Malaysia Cares) this year, Al Sultan Abdullah congratulated the government for efforts made to strengthen the country’s economy, as well as continuing to safeguard the welfare of the people affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Yang di-Pertuan Agong also thanked the people for their resilience and determined spirit in facing the setback.

In conjunction with the National Day celebration and the 50th Anniversary of Rukun Negara, His Majesty called on the people to appreciate and safeguard the country’s independence and peace.

“Indeed, peace and harmony in a multiracial society is the backbone of a nation’s strength.

“I am confident, if the spirit contained in the Rukun Negara continues to be appreciated and firmly embedded in the soul of every Malaysian, Insya-Allah, our country will continue to remain peaceful and harmonious, and become a strong and prosperous nation, with people that are united,” he added.

His Majesty, together with the Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah, also took the opportunity to pray for Malaysia to be protected and blessed with everlasting peace, harmony and prosperity, and for Malaysians to remain united.

His Majesty ended his speech by extending his National Day and 50th Rukun Negara anniversary wishes to all Malaysians.

by Bernama.

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Enforce law on workers housing, amenities, without delay

Monday, August 31st, 2020
The government has been urged not to delay enforcing new laws on housing and amenities for workers, nor should it brook any excuses on the matter from employers. - NSTP file picThe government has been urged not to delay enforcing new laws on housing and amenities for workers, nor should it brook any excuses on the matter from employers. – NSTP file pic

KUALA LUMPUR: The government has been urged not to delay enforcing new laws on housing and amenities for workers, nor should it brook any excuses on the matter from employers.

The government’s three-month grace period for employers to comply with amendments to the Workers Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act 1990, ends today.

Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC) secretary-general J. Solomon said the relevant authorities, especially the Human Resources Ministry, should swiftly enforce the new laws that address the living conditions of migrant workers from tomorrow, Sept 1.

The employers have been given adequate time to comply, he said.

Employers were given three months to improve the living conditions of their workers as the laws were passed by the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara in July last year.

The laws cover housing and amenities for workers in all sectors across Peninsular Malaysia and Labuan.

“Regretfully, since the laws were passed last year, MTUC has not seen any significant move by employers to address the poor living conditions of workers, especially migrants who continue to live in cramped and squalid conditions either at their work sites or rented apartments and terrace houses.

“We will take this to mean that many employers continue to take lightly the issue of accommodation for workers, despite their continued risk of becoming clusters for the spread of Covid-19. In fact, there were kongsi or workers quarters in construction sites in Kuala Lumpur that became clusters for Covid-10 which infected scores of workers,” he said in a statement today.

Solomon said Health Ministry director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah himself cited that migrant workers cramped and crowded living conditions were a major reason for transmission of Covid-19.

The nation’s top health official also said that such living conditions were marked by poor hygiene which deters social distancing practices required to contain the spread of Covid-19.

“Despite his warnings, we find employers forcing as many as 15 to 20 workers to share three room apartments of terrace houses of less than 1,000 square feet with one or two washrooms. The situation in many kongsi are even worse,” he said.

Solomon said the pathetic living conditions of migrant workers in Malaysia even before the Covid-19 outbreak was a clear violation of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions.

In fact, he said, a poor standard of accommodation was one of the 11 indicators of forced labour defined by the ILO.

He said employers in Malaysia and the government should not take lightly the issue of living conditions for foreign workers as many countries use the ILO indicators as a bench mark in their international trade dealings, which may have dire consequences for errant Malaysian entrepreneurs who fail to provide decent housing for their workers.

“Already, over the past year, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has taken action against at least two Malaysian companies – Top Glove and WRP Asia – by blocking the import of their products into the countries under laws meant to stop forced labour”.

Solomon said amid claims by the companies that their problem with the US authorities had been or was being resolved, the reality was that the treatment of migrant workers, including their living conditions, will remain to be a central issue as many countries clamp down on forced labour, using the ILO indicators.

It clearly reflects the inadequate inspection of labour at workplaces by the Labour Department and the Occupational Safety and Health Department, as is expected under ILO Convention 81, he said.

“As such, Malaysia’s move to amend laws governing the accommodation and living conditions for workers is commendable. But the laws are only effective if they are enforced strictly on employers and we hope to see this happen from tomorrow,” he said.

Solomon also urged the government not to succumb to any excuses from employers who do not comply as they have been given enough time to do so.

“MTUC strongly calls on the Human Resources Ministry not to allow employers cite financial drawbacks due to Covid-19 as reason to delay the enforcement of the Workers Minimum Standards of Housing and Amenities Act Amendment Bill 2019,” he said.

Solomon said the government must also ensure that the laws were implemented across all sectors of the economy in line with the International Labour Organisation’s Recommendation 115 (Workers Housing Recommendation, 1961).

“It is our hope on this Merdeka Day that the painful experience of workers living in deplorable conditions in kongsi at construction sites or small dinghy apartments or terrace houses in large numbers will be a thing of the past with the effective enforcement of the amended laws,” he said.

By B. Suresh Ram.

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Let foreign students in

Monday, August 31st, 2020
 The world has been shaken by the Covid-19 pandemic, and global higher education has not been spared. - NSTP file pic, for illustration purposes onlyThe world has been shaken by the Covid-19 pandemic, and global higher education has not been spared. – NSTP file pic, for illustration purposes only

LETTERS: The world has been shaken by the Covid-19 pandemic, and global higher education has not been spared.

Favourite destinations like Australia, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and the United States saw a decline in their overseas student enrolment.

We are fortunate. The infection here remains under control.

Foreign students have benefited us economically and last year, their contributions surpassed RM40 billion. The amount will be lower this year as a result of lockdowns and travel restrictions.

Since Malaysia is viewed as a comparatively safe destination, a survey has revealed that many foreign students are interested to study here.

Another country that the respondents have expressed interest in is South Korea. Still, Malaysia has an edge because our courses are conducted in English. Even South Korean students come here to learn English. So, we need the right strategy to start bringing in students again.

I recently watched a TV discourse on the issue. There are two opposing views. 0n one side, the Higher Education Ministry has decided to extend the ban on foreign students because it is feared that their return may exacerbate the Covid-19 situation.

That concern has basis. At the moment, many new daily cases are imported. So the argument is that if there is an influx of students entering, there is a possibility that some of them may become the source of new infections.

When asked, the Education Malaysia Global Services, the agency tasked with promoting Malaysia as an education destination for international students, agreed with the decision.

On the other hand, a spokesman of the National Professors Council said the pandemic has offered the opportunity to strengthen our long-term dream of making Malaysia an international hub of higher education.

So we should capitalise on this rare chance to increase the intake of international students. Of course, he argued we should not be blind to the fact that there is a risk of more virus infections.

The need for stringent standard operating procedures is undeniable and should not be compromised. But since we have done well, there is no reason why we cannot apply the same measures to screen incoming students.

I tend to agree with the spokesman. Our exemplary handling of the pandemic has given us an opportunity to raise the nation’s profile as a destination for higher education, which has always been our ambition.

Now that we are presented with the chance, we should take it. We are aware that that chance comes with risks.

But we also know there are measures we can take to reduce those risks. And we have had a lot of experience in applying them. The assurance of safety is not the only reason why overseas students choose to come here.

Universities in the country have also established themselves as internationally-recognised institutions.

It is also for this reason that many high-calibre universities from abroad have set up branch campuses in the country.

The Higher Education Ministry should rethink its decision in the coming semester.

There is a lot to lose not only in terms of economic returns, but also missing out on the excellent opportunity to enhance our reputation as a preferred destination for higher education.


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Orangutan is Google’s 2020 Merdeka Day doodle

Monday, August 31st, 2020

Screen capture from

Screen capture from

KUALA LUMPUR: Google celebrates Malaysia’s 63rd independence day today, with a doodle or logo featuring an orangutan, the great ape native to the country.

The species are found in the rainforests of Borneo, particularly in the states of Sabah and Sarawak, as well as Sumatra.

It is the second animal chosen by the search engine, which for the past 20 years, crafted special doodles to celebrate special occasions all over the world.

As for Malaysia, the search engine had used a few doodles to mark the past Merdeka Day, including the Malayan tigers, teh tarik and ‘wau bulan’, an intricately designed Malaysian moon-kite.

But most of the times, the national flower ‘bunga raya’ (hibiscus) was featured.

Aug 31 is the official independence day of Malaysia. It marks the Federation of Malaya’s Declaration of Independence and sovereignty from the British rule on Aug 31, 1957.

The federation of Malaya merged with Singapore, North Borneo (Sabah) and Sarawak to form Malaysia on Sept 16, 1963.

However, on Aug 9, 1965, Singapore separated from Malaysia to become an independent state.

by Bernama.

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Ismail Sabri: We have yet to declare ‘Merdeka’ from Covid-19

Monday, August 31st, 2020
Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri (right) with Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz following National Day celebrations today. - Bernama picDatuk Seri Ismail Sabri (right) with Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz following National Day celebrations today. – Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR: Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob has called on all Malaysians to be steadfast in adopting the new norms in the fight to liberate the nation from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Adopting coronavirus standard operating procedures (SOPs) would equate to expressing one’s love for the country, especially as Malaysia celebrates its 63rd National Day, he said.

“I would like to take this opportunity to wish Happy National Day to all Malaysians. It is celebrated on a moderate scale, while we embrace the new norms, as we are yet to be free from the threat of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“However, each one of us is free to express our patriotism. As we celebrate this day, please do not forget that we have yet to be ‘liberated’ from the virus’ threats, as it is still in our surroundings,” he said in a statement today.

Ismail Sabri reminded the public to practise self-discipline and adhere to the SOPs set by the government, making the new norm a routine of daily life.

By New Straits Times.

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