Archive for August, 2020

Stall and proud: Kuantan hawker may be Malaysia’s most patriotic man during Merdeka

Monday, August 31st, 2020

KUANTAN: For the past 15 years, food stall operator Wan Rahimi Wan Mokhtar has never failed to participate in the state-level National Day procession here.

However, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced the government to call off plans for the Merdeka parade this year.

Despite this, Wan Rahimi’s spirit was not dampened – and he commemorated the auspicious day in his unique way.

The 58-year-old distributed 100 mini Jalur Gemilang to customers, including young children, who dined at his food stall in Tanjung Lumpur, here.

Wan Rahimi, fondly known as “Mie Merdeka”, said despite there being no National Day parade this year, nothing could stop him from displaying his patriotism.

“Since there are standard operating procedures that have to be followed due to the pandemic, Merdeka celebrations this year are celebrated modestly. So I decided to distribute the mini-flags, hoping that the younger generation will become more patriotic and respect those who had struggled for the country’s independence.

“I even drew a mural featuring the National Day theme ‘Malaysia Prihatin’ (at my premises) so that my customers can take pictures and enjoy other Merdeka-themed paintings, including an archway painted with the word ‘Merdeka’,” he said when met today.

Wan Rahimi, whose antique Mini Cooper was picked to lead the state-level National Day procession last year, said he has participated in the parade here since 2003.

“I missed the parade in 2007 when only selected vintage cars were picked to join the parade, and this year due to the pandemic. My 1970 Mini Cooper, decorated with various sizes of the Jalur Gemilang and stickers bearing images of all Malaysian Prime Ministers on its front bonnet, is a regular at the parade.

“People would take photographs of the car and some would ask me to pose for pictures alongside the vehicle. This year, I painted and decorated the car and my Suzuki van with the Jalur Gemilang colours so that my customers or passers-by can take pictures,” said Wan Rahimi, who was clad in clothes in the colours of the Jalur Gemilang.

Wan Rahimi, whose premises were picked to represent Pahang on five occasions in the national-level Merdeka Decoration contest, said he has been decorating the premises for the special occasion for the past 19 years.

“Each year, I try new ideas to brighten up the premises. Some people even accused me of being insane, as I had spent thousands of ringgit on the decorations. But I am not bothered…. as long as my health allows me to run my food business, I will do this as it gives me a different sense of patriotism,” he said, adding that the pandemic should not be a reason for Malaysians to be less patriotic this year.

Health Ministry: Possible year-end spike in Covid-19 cases

Monday, August 31st, 2020
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said although Malaysia’s infection rate is now under control, developments in other countries, such as India, South Korea, Japan, Spain and France, demonstrate that an increase in cases during cold weather conditions must be considered. - Bernama picHealth director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said although Malaysia’s infection rate is now under control, developments in other countries, such as India, South Korea, Japan, Spain and France, demonstrate that an increase in cases during cold weather conditions must be considered. – Bernama pic

PUTRAJAYA: The Health Ministry is preparing four months in advance for a possible spike of Covid-19 infections in Malaysia due to the arrival of winter in several other parts of the world.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said although Malaysia’s infection rate is now under control, developments in other countries, such as India, South Korea, Japan, Spain and France, demonstrate that an increase in cases during cold weather conditions must be considered.

“So, our concern is that there would be an increase in cases during that period and due to this, we have to make preparations,” he told Bernama when met after attending the National Day 2020 celebrations at Dataran Pahlawan Negara here, today.

At the same time, Dr Noor Hisham said a mutation of the Covid-19 virus has made it more infectious, and as such, he urges Malaysians to always be on their guard and strictly comply with standard operating procedures (SOPs).

He said as there is still no proven vaccine in sight, the ministry will continue to carry out control measures.

“Through these measures, the people must comply with SOPs; while on our part, we will prepare in terms of (freeing up) laboratories, clinics and hospitals in the event of a caseload surge,” he said.

Through its public healthcare system, Malaysia has been able to contain the pandemic via early detection of clusters, Dr Noor Hisham said.

“However, we will still need strong cooperation from the people when it comes to breaking the chain of Covid-19 infection,” he said.

By Bernama.

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Agong pardons 13 convicts serving life sentences

Monday, August 31st, 2020
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdulllah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah has granted an early pardon to 13 convicts in conjunction with the country’s 63rd National Day today.  - Bernama picThe Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdulllah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah has granted an early pardon to 13 convicts in conjunction with the country’s 63rd National Day today. – Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR: The Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdulllah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah has granted an early pardon to 13 convicts in conjunction with the country’s 63rd National Day today.

According to Istana Negara’s Comptroller of the Royal Household, Datuk Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin, the convicts were serving life sentences handed out by the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Dec 28, 2001 on charges under Section 121 of the Penal Code for waging war or attempting to wage war or abetting to wage war against the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or State Ruler or the Yang di-Pertua Negeri.

“The consent by Al-Sultan Abdullah is exercised under Article 42 of the Federal Constitution following advice by the Pardons Board of the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya.

“All 13 convicts serving the life sentences since 2001 had appealed for a pardon on their sentences,” he said in a statement here today.

Ahmad Fadil said Al-Sultan Abdullah, upon the advice of the Pardons Board of the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya which met on Sept 4 last year, had consented to the release of the 13 on a date to be announced later.

He said His Majesty, upon the advice of the same board in a meeting held on July 24 this year, then consented to the convicts’ release to take effect in Aug 2020.

Ahmad Fadil said the early pardon was due to their good behaviour while in prison, and is aimed at allowing the 13 to return to society, turn over a new leaf and live normal lives.

“Al-Sultan Abdullah also hopes that the 13 will reflect on their mistakes, repent and evaluate their relationship with God, their families and society,” he said.

His Majesty also hopes that the 13 will be able to live new lives with their loved ones, and play their role as citizens dedicated to religion, race and country, Ahmad Fadil said.


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Optimising technology to overcome Covid-19

Monday, August 31st, 2020

A COLLABORATION between industry and academia has led to the production of a system that enables contactless implementation of Covid-19 standard operating procedures.

This is done through Industry 4.0 technologies such as big data analytics, artificial intelligence and Internet of Things (IoT), which are all integrated into a single device.

The partnership is between Malaysia Automotive, Robotics and IoT Institute (MARii) and Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Smart Manufacturing Research Institute.

MARii chief executive officer Datuk Madani Sahari said the system, known as the Modular and Open System-Plus (MOST-Plus), is undergoing further research and development (R&D), as well as commercialisation.

This is to include additional features such as real-time data monitoring and mobile application functionalities to improve its effectiveness based on industrial standards and demands.

“To advance the partnership to the next level, both parties are actively working on the establishment of a MARii UiTM Satellite Node to offer industry-grade facilities, tools and equipment focusing on automotive, automation, robotics, IoT and other related fields.

“This includes a Digital Factory with Augmented Reality applications, a mechatronics and robotics lab, and a hydrogen fuel cell car development area.

“The MARii UiTM Satellite Node is expected to officially open by the end of the year,” he said.

The institute has also collaborated with Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) and Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) to enhance the development of new age solutions.

The collaboration with UKM, Madani said, aims to accelerate the development of the three new elements outlined in the National Automotive Policy 2020 by utilising research facilities and local talents.

One of the projects includes the development and commercialisation of electric vehicle (EV) batteries, focusing on battery performance, battery replication and the development of a lithium-ion battery production line, he added.

“We are also working closely with UPM in the local development of EVs and to establish a testbed which has reached the final stages of R&D.

“An EV Wireless Charging System is also in the works, with goals to enhance the capabilities of the local automotive sector to penetrate the EV market, including the creation of high value jobs in the areas of EV development.”

The Fourth Industrial Revolution, he said, poses a continuous demand for new skills, knowledge and familiarisation of expertise, making industry-academia collaboration vital.

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Education savings with a chance to win big

Monday, August 31st, 2020

SSPN-i Plus is a savings product provided by PTPTN to help parents plan for their children’s education.

A MERCEDES Benz C200 FL AMG Line is up for grabs in the National Higher Education Fund Corporation’s Cabutan WOW! SSPN-i Plus 2020 which offers RM1mil worth of prizes.

The corporation which is better known by the acronym PTPTN (Perbadanan Tabung Pendidikan Tinggi Nasional) is offering a car as well as cash prizes in the draw, in line with its objective to encourage parents to save early for their children’s future.

SSPN-i Plus is a savings product provided by PTPTN under the National Education Savings Scheme (Skim Simpanan Pendidikan Nasional, or SSPN) to help parents plan for their children’s education.

The Cabutan WOW! is to encourage people to save in SSPN-i Plus.

Cabutan WOW! SSPN-i Plus 2020, launched on July 14, features two draws – monthly and annual.

From July till December, every month there will be 20 winners who will each receive RM2,020.

The annual draw at the end of the year will offer the Mercedes Benz as main prize, RM50,000 cash as second prize, and RM30,000 cash as third prize.

Besides these three lucrative prizes, 1,000 winners will receive a consolation prize of RM500 each.

According to PTPTN, all SSPN-i Plus depositors are eligible to take part in Cabutan WOW!

Depositors need to open an account or make additional savings during the Cabutan WOW! period and ensure their account stays active and there are no arrears in deposits.

Every RM50 in savings gives a depositor a draw chance in Cabutan WOW! and there is no limit to the number of chances.

SSPN-i Plus offers more benefits as it is an improved product over the previous SSPN-i.

With a RM30 package or as low as RM1 a day, the depositor gets to enjoy the many benefits of SSPN-i Plus.

Parents, adoptive parents or legal guardians who save in SSPN-i Plus will get tax exemption of up to RM8,000.

There will be extra tax exemption of RM3,000 for takaful contributions from non-civil servants, and RM7,000 for civil servants.

SSPN-i Plus offers up to RM1mil death/permanent disability benefits for takaful depositors.

The SSPN-i Plus savings packages are shariah-compliant and guaranteed by the Government, with competitive dividend rates, income tax exemption and eligibility to apply for PTPTN loan.

There are six savings packages under SSPN-i Plus.

The Intan package is affordable – as low as RM1 savings a day. One gets to enjoy all the benefits just by depositing RM30 per month.

There’s also the Delima (RM50 per month), Topas (RM100 per month), Zamrud (RM200 per month), Nilam (RM300 per month) and Berlian packages (RM500 per month).

To open an account for an adopted child, the adoptive parents or guardians need to submit a statutory declaration or child adoption certificate.

SSPN-i Plus account holders are required to activate salary deduction or auto debit to avoid arrears of monthly deposits.

Meanwhile, insurance and takaful companies in the country have been introducing funds for Covid-19 screening in aid of policyholders.

PTPTN is concerned about the pandemic’s impact and has allocated a special fund of RM100,000 as takaful protection for SSPN-i Plus depositors in case of infection.

This fund provides a one-time hospital admission allowance of RM100 and additional death benefit of RM50.

The claim period is between April 1 and Sept 30 this year, and up to RM100,000.

For more details on SSPN-i Plus, visit, go to any PTPTN counter, or call the PTPTN Careline (03-2193 3000).

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PM: Civil service will not be downsized

Monday, August 31st, 2020


Fruitful visit: Muhyiddin holding a tarap while asking a vendor about the fruit during his walkabout at a market in Sandakan. — Bernama

SANDAKAN: The 1.6 million-strong civil service will not be downsized as a result of the ongoing implementation of the electronic government system (e-government), says Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

He gave assurance that while an increase in productivity and public service effectiveness was important, this must not be linked with making the civil service workforce smaller.

“Civil servants can carry out multiple tasks to enhance public delivery services.

“The use of technology cannot be avoided, but the civil service workforce must also find ways to improve work quality,” he said at a gathering with civil servants here yesterday.

Muhyiddin said this in response to a question on whether the civil service workforce would be reduced once the e-government system was fully implemented.

“If, before this, three people were needed to accomplish a single task, only one would suffice once the e-government is implemented, while the other two can work on other tasks,” he said.

While acknowledging the fact that the job scope might differ once e-government fully took off, the prime minister said the technologies applied would add value to the public delivery service.

Muhyiddin said he was satisfied with the performance of civil servants, but nevertheless expressed confidence that the bar could be set even higher in line with current developments.

At another event here, the Prime Minister 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 this week.

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

“What’s important is the livelihood of the needy.

“They have suffered for a long time,” he said at a meeting with community leaders.

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

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

Muhyiddin was in Sabah for a two-day visit over the weekend – his first since being appointed Prime Minister in March.

by Bernama.

Show patriotism by helping in Covid-19 fight, urges Lee

Monday, August 31st, 2020

PETALING JAYA: Malaysians should showcase their patriotic spirit by helping in the fight against Covid-19, says #AnakAnakMalaysia chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.

“Together we can help break the chain of Covid-19 transmission by not violating the rules and regulations drawn to protect society from such an infectious disease.”

Lee said there were many ways to showcase patriotism.

“One way is by complying with the SOP (standard operating procedure) implemented to help in the fight against Covid-19,” he said.

Lee said the annual #AnakAnakMalaysia walk in conjunction with National Day could not be organised this year because a gathering of more than 250 people was not allowed under the recovery movement control order.

Eco World Development Group Bhd and Star Media Group had jointly organised the annual #AnakAnakMalaysia Walk since 2015. The #AnakAnak Malaysia theme this year is “Together for Generations”.

Lee said the pandemic should not dampen Malaysians’ celebration of the National Day.

Social media, he said, could be fully utilised for a virtual celebration to boost the Merdeka spirit.

“It provides a good opportunity for Malaysians to show their love for the country and their spirit of patriotism,” he said.

He said it was unfortunate that some people likened flying the Jalur Gemilang to attempts to “flatter” the government of the day.

“About a week ago, a friend of mine flew the Jalur Gemilang in front of his house. His neighbour asked why he was trying to flatter the government,” he said.

Lee said that such a remark was uncalled for.

“That person could not differentiate between the flag and the government,” he said.

“People must understand the difference between the government and the nation. When we commemorate National Day, we are not doing it for the government, we are doing it for the nation.

“Government may come and go, but the flag stays. By flying the flag, we are showing our pride for the nation.”

Lee urged the public to remove tattered flags in their neighbourhood and replace them with new ones.

As for the corporate sector, he urged them to fly the Jalur Gemilang at their premises.

“We do not see flags flying at many commercial premises, especially in Kuala Lumpur,” he noted.

Lee said it was important to keep the Merdeka spirit alive.

“It brings us all together to celebrate the day we gained independence,” he said.


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Promote unique tourist destinations

Monday, August 31st, 2020
Flea markets, like this indoor market in Kuala Lumpur, are great platforms to showcase tourism-related products. - File picFlea markets, like this indoor market in Kuala Lumpur, are great platforms to showcase tourism-related products. – File pic

LETTERS: I had the opportunity to attend Tourism Malaysia’s launch of the Cuti-Cuti Malaysia TV promotional campaign recently, which was to bolster our domestic tourism sector in light of our borders being closed due to the pandemic.

It’s about seeking out the beauty in our own backyards and how we can tap and persuade Malaysians to travel and discover the length and breadth of our blessed land, which is much loved by visitors near and far.

There were two things that struck my attention during the event.

First was the mini-showcase about our tourism body through the ages — from its inception as a department under the then Commerce Ministry in 1959 to a corporation, popularly known as the Tourist Development Corporation, to later becoming a full-fledged agency, Tourism Malaysia, which is now under the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry.

In a span of 61 years, the agency responsible for promoting the country’s tourism potential has grown by leaps and bounds and has become a name to be reckoned with in the eyes of the world.

In that sense, I am of the view that Tourism Malaysia should make the mini-showcase a permanent feature at a designated city location, perhaps at the Malaysia Tourism Centre in Jalan Ampang for the public. Unlike other government-related agencies, Tourism Malaysia, being in the hospitality trade and “playing host to visitors”, should be more people-centric and within reach of the masses.

The second thing was the presence of a selected few vintage vendors from flea markets who showcased tourism-related products of our local heritage, arts and culture.

Their presence was such a thoughtful and welcoming idea in promoting the flea market attraction apart from stamping a mark of honour to their contribution as a tourism product.

Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri says due to concerns about new coronavirus wave, the country may keep its borders closed to foreign tourists until the second quarter of next year.

This means that we have to go local and rely more on domestic tourism to ensure that the industry survives and reduces the closure of more travel- and tourism-related businesses.

So far, the restrategising plans of going local seems to be working. This can be seen in some island destinations and other popular attractions buzzing with domestic visitors.

This is also an opportune time for Tourism Malaysia to introduce more “off the beaten path” locations to encourage Malaysians bored with the same old places to venture into unchartered territories and lesser-known but equally interesting destinations.

At the same time, mindful of the movement of visitors, we should continue to enforce the standard operating procedure to control the spread of Covid-19, more so in keeping sustainable tourism in check despite the influx of visitors.

The now popular hashtag #KitaJagaKita must always be practised, not just in controlling the spread of the virus but further beyond. Our places of beauty should be our source of pride and responsibility for the long term in line with the new normal practices.


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Preserve peace and harmony

Monday, August 31st, 2020
The rakyat must be united and work together for a better Malaysia. - Pic by Nadim BokhariThe rakyat must be united and work together for a better Malaysia. – Pic by Nadim Bokhari

LETTERS: In his sermon last Friday, the imam reminded us that to be an independent country is a gift bestowed by God. We enjoy peace and harmony in a society with many religions, races and cultures in this great nation of ours.

In that sense, our independence should not be taken for granted. Hopefully, “Malaysia Cares”, the theme for this year’s National Day celebration, will help take us in the right direction.

In previous years, parades involving a multitude of contingents would be held, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, there will be none this year.

The precautions taken to curb the coronavirus are part of the new normal. The resolve is for everybody to combat the pandemic.

The resolve of the people before Merdeka was to free the nation from our subjugators. We are grateful for the sacrifices made by our forefathers. They faced many challenges, including the communist threat and the Indonesian confrontation. The rakyat must be united and work together for a better Malaysia. Looking back, we can learn from the unity displayed by the Muhajirin and Ansar communities during Prophet Muhammad’s time.

The group living in Madinah welcomed the other group that came to the city to make it their home. Both communities helped each other so that peace and harmony could be preserved and enhanced.

Regretfully, we continue to hear voices of division, trying to split us as a united country. Messages of hate are spreading again on social media. Our beloved nation is rich in resources. Let us share the benefits together. Just like we must ensure that we observe all the regulations and standard operating procedures to contain Covid-19, we must also observe the Federal Constitution and Rukun Negara at all times. Incidentally, this year marks the 50th anniversary of Rukun Negara.

In view of our 63rd independence anniversary today, I wish all Malaysians “Selamat Hari Merdeka”.


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NST Leader: Keeping the Merdeka spirit alive

Monday, August 31st, 2020
As we celebrate today, let us also remember the sacrifices of our forefathers and previous leaders and how they have toiled to develop Malaysia into what it is today. - NSTP/HAIRUL ANUAR RAHIMAs we celebrate today, let us also remember the sacrifices of our forefathers and previous leaders and how they have toiled to develop Malaysia into what it is today. – NSTP/HAIRUL ANUAR RAHIM

TODAY is Merdeka, and Malaysia is celebrating it amidst a pandemic that has taken more than 800,000 lives globally.

And, unlike previous years, this year’s celebration is muted. No marches, no mass gatherings and no outdoor celebrations. The Merdeka parade this morning at Dataran Pahlawan in Putrajaya is televised, with Yang diPertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah delivering a royal address, the second time in the history of Merdeka celebrations that the king delivered a royal address.

The first was by fourth Yang di-Pertuan Agong Almarhum Tuanku Ismail Nasiruddin Shah 50 years ago during the proclamation of the Rukun Negara. Undeniably, it’s history in the making — but Malaysia is not alone. Other countries, too, celebrated their independence day without the usual rahrah of marches and parades.

India, for instance, scaled down its celebrations to adhere to safety protocols in its 74th Independence Day on Aug 15. Likewise, Indonesia’s 75th Independence Day on Aug 17 was televised. Even the United States’ Fourth of July was a subdued affair. This is the new normal.

The cliched phrase of “the world will never be the same again” seems more true now as the pandemic enters its fifth month with no vaccine yet in sight. Even when a vaccine is found, and society starts up again, there will still be restrictions — we have to face the fundamental shifts in our lives head-on.

Covid19 has wreaked havoc — even the strong have become helpless.

At 63, Malaysia is relatively young. But it has “matured”. From achieving independence without bloodshed, ending a confrontation with Indonesia peacefully, battling the Communist insurgency and tackling the 1969 racial riots, to weathering the Asian Financial Crisis, seeing through the sacking of a deputy prime minister and its subsequent political crisis, and the May 2018 general election when the long-standing Barisan Nasional federal government lost after 60 years in power — Malaysia has lived through it all.

The current uncertain period brought about by Covid-19 has made it even more resilient. Malaysians should be proud of what they have accomplished thus far. A lot has happened this year — Covid-19 has upended much of our lives, so many deaths, so much pain.

We find ourselves wondering, doubting, trying to plan for our future and figuring our next move. But here we are today, Aug 31, 2020, celebrating our 63rd Merdeka. The spirit of Merdeka — sharing, caring and working together — must live on in our hearts and minds.

All Malaysians, wherever they are, must remember this. We areamultiracial country, “togetherness” is our DNA. It is what has kept us together. We must continue to nurture and reinforce this spirit in our thoughts and actions.

Let’s live up to the theme “Malaysia Prihatin” (Malaysia Cares). As we celebrate today, let us also remember the sacrifices of our forefathers and previous leaders and how they have toiled to develop Malaysia into what it is today.

The NST wishes all Malaysians Selamat Hari Merdeka.

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