Malaysia Bagus News
PETALING JAYA: Sabah has “cast a spell” on federal minister Nancy Shukri, mesmerising her with its endless stretches of white sandy beaches and vibrant coral reefs.
Not to be outdone are its majestic mountain peaks, abundance of flora and fauna, and warm, friendly people everywhere you go.
“It’s simply mesmerising. And every visit, no matter how many times you go there, you just fall in love again. It’s a must-visit for all,” the tourism, arts, and culture minister told FMT about the country’s second largest state.
Though the state’s natural wonders and rich cultural heritage are well known, Nancy said the “Land Below the Wind” had many other hidden gems that rivalled internationally-renowned tourist destinations.
Nancy, who was on a four-day working visit to Sabah organised by the Malaysia Convention and Exhibition Bureau (MyCEB) last month, said these spellbinding places included the pristine Mantanani Island off Kota Belud, which is teeming with marine life.
“If you’re looking for the perfect private getaway then the Kalampunian beach in Kudat is another hidden gem with its white sands and crystal clear waters. It’s simply breathtaking.”
For those who have yet to visit Sabah, Nancy said the state had something to offer everyone, whether the adventure-seeker or the laidback traveller.
“If you’re looking for some serious adventure, then you’ll find the climb up Mount Kinabalu a rewarding and thrilling experience. Not to mention the indescribable view at the top.
“You can also go white water rafting in Kiulu or get closer to nature at the Miki Survival Camp where you can hike through the beautiful and lush rainforest.”
Other highlights in Sabah, Nancy said, were the Sepilok Orang Utan Centre in Sandakan and the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre. The tourist destination of Turtle Island, where visitors can watch turtle landings right before their eyes, is yet another memorable experience that has made this a top tourist spot.
It is clear that Sabah is teeming with captivating sights and sounds that offer the happy traveller a much-needed respite from the constant bustle of everyday life.
And while the Covid-19 pandemic has put a dampener on travel plans, Nancy said she was certain the state would be ready to throw open her doors the moment travel was permitted again.
“Perhaps make a list of places to visit in Sabah or anywhere else in the country, and just really take advantage of all the tourism incentives, including the RM1,000 tax relief for domestic travel,” she advised Malaysians.
The minister added that in the meantime, federal and state tourism agencies, and industry players, must continue to work closely together so that when travel was allowed again, the industry could get off to a “roaring” start.
PETALING JAYA: For years, Nabilla woke up at dawn every Hari Raya, just wanting the day to end.
She hated what she saw as the hypocrisy of supposedly warm family gatherings when it was those very people who had hurt her.
Nabila, now 22, and in a better place emotionally at last, comes from a broken home.
As a young child, she had been caught in an acrimonious custody battle when her mother and father separated.
Her parents often ignored her wishes and emotions in their fight for custody of her, making her feel like a pawn in their private game.
After the divorce, Nabilla lived with her mother, aunt, and grandmother in a large house in Ampang, and her life was for the most part happily drama-free.
However, when she was 10, her mother remarried and moved to Perth, Australia, with her new husband.
Nabilla found herself, to her surprise, living with her father.
“I was told I couldn’t join my mum because it was the middle of the school year. I’m still not sure if that was the real reason but I was young and I believed them,” she tells reporters.
“I thought I was only going to have to live with my dad for a few weeks, but it ended up being years.”
It was not easy adjusting to living with her dad, who had a conservative lifestyle that went against her previous upbringing.
Plus, he too had remarried.
She struggled to fit in with her father and his new wife in their home, and tried everything to find acceptance within the family, but her resentment simmered away, slowly approaching boiling point.
Nabilla recalls one Raya when her father made her call her mother on the phone and tell her that she wanted to stay in Malaysia for good.
“He made me tell her that, even though it wasn’t true. But I was 10, so I did it because I thought I had to obey him.”
Ever since, Hari Raya has been a confusing time for her, gradually turning into something she dreaded every year.
“For the longest time, I thought Hari Raya was hypocritical. People dramatically ask for forgiveness once a year, but they don’t mean it.
“To me, my family just swept all of our problems under the rug, to make it seem like we were a picture-perfect family, and to pretend we were not fighting for the rest of the year.”
Now 22, things have improved for her after she moved out to live on her own.
“Financially, it’s not that good but emotionally it’s the best thing for me,” she says.
She works two jobs to pay her rent, but at least she no longer depends on either of her parents.
With the passage of time, she has been able to reconcile with the traumatic events of her childhood. However, being abandoned is still hard for her to bear.
But at least, she says with a grim smile and a shrug, she doesn’t hate Raya anymore.
“I actually look forward to it because it allows me to spend a little time with my family and I get to pretend like we are happy now, even if for only a few hours.”
For others who have suffered difficult childhoods like Nabilla, the annual Hari Raya season can be one of the times when they suffer from “anniversary reactions”, says Ellisha Othman, a clinical psychologist, and managing director of Thrive Well.
She tells reporters people are more likely to remember events more clearly and feel emotions more intensely leading up to the anniversary of a traumatic event.
“This is a natural grieving process in short-term or long-term healing. Specific thoughts, memories, and emotions become more intense than at other times of the year.”
There may be many factors behind an “anniversary reaction” which can range from feeling mildly upset for a day or two to more extreme reactions, with accompanying mental or physical symptoms, she says.
“Many factors may contribute to these reactions, including physical health, psychological well-being, and a person’s socio-economic situation.
“Family support, and religious and spiritual beliefs also count for a lot.”
Such “anniversary” episodes are all the more concerning if they are symptomatic of mental health conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder or if there are accompanying physical symptoms such as headaches or stomach aches.
Indicators of anniversary reactions to trauma may include feeling sad, angry, impatient, panicky, and having alarming dreams.
“You may feel generally fatigued and have difficulty concentrating, sleeping, and eating normally,” says Ellisha. “But it’s really important not to be judgmental, for these are normal, understandable reactions.”
Ellisha advises those coping with such problems to try to sleep regular hours, eat a balanced diet, exercise moderately every day and seek medical attention if the stress is making an existing medical condition worse.
Many people cope better by talking about their feelings with people they trust. For this reason, she also suggests seeking out support groups or counsellors if feelings of distress persist.
“There is no single right way to heal,” she says. “Try not to compare your reactions to those of others.
“Each person is different, and each person will find their own ways of coping with the memories.”
Nabila can attest that learning to cope is the best that most childhood trauma victims can hope for.
For the anguish of love lost as a child never really fades.
SEREMBAN: Police have refuted a posting which went viral on social media claiming that they issued compound notices totalling RM30,000 for violation of SOPs during their inspection in a housing area in Nilai during Hari Raya.
Nilai police chief Mohd Fazley Ab Rahman said the photograph actually showed house-to-house inspections at a residential area in Nilai Impian, Nilai, on the first day of Aidilfitri yesterday.
“The picture was falsely interpreted as an (operation to issue compounds). Police were conducting inspections with the media to check on compliance of Aidilfitri SOPs in the area,” he told Bernama
“We found that there was no infringement of the SOPs as stipulated by the National Security Council (MKN).”
The posting on Twitter by account owner “No War But Class War” said: “My housing area in Nilai Impian. House owner RM25K, Guests RM5K.”
PETALING JAYA: The teacher from SMK Puncak Alam, Selangor, who allegedly made inappropriate rape jokes during a lesson, has been transferred to the Selangor education department.
In a statement, the education ministry said it will not comment on the matter as the incident is being investigated by police.
“The education ministry’s next action depends on the results of the investigation on this case,” it said.
Form 5 student Ain Husniza Saiful Nizam had claimed that the physical fitness and health education teacher at her school made the joke and encouraged his students to commit rape.
Recently, Ain was described as a “child of the devil wearing a headscarf” (“anak setan pakai tudung”) on Facebook by her principal’s account, sparking more uproar among netizens as they called for the education ministry to take action.
The ministry said a police report has been lodged by the principal, alleging that her Facebook account had been hacked.
On the warning letter issued to Ain for skipping school, the ministry explained that this was issued to any student who was absent for three to 10 days in a row without a written letter to the school explaining their absence.
It said this letter was generally issued to ensure parents and the school are aware of the student’s absence, adding that it helps the ministry to monitor possible dropouts and intervene in these cases.
It said the school had issued six such warning letters to parents over students skipping school for no reason.
“The ministry wants to stress that it prioritises the safety and welfare of students and the entire school community. The ministry is always committed to do its best,” it said.
Ain’s father, Saiful Nizam Ab Wahab, was said to be puzzled by the warning letter as he had met the school authorities to explain that Ain would be skipping school as she did not feel safe there.
Ain’s claim has led to other students and former pupils speaking out over similar experiences in school, with the hashtag #MakeSchoolASaferPlace trending on social media.
It was later reported that Ain received a rape threat from a male classmate, which her father reported to police. The student later apologised for making the threat, and Ain’s father was said to have accepted the apology.
Former education minister Maszlee Malik as well as parents’ and women’s rights groups had previously questioned the ministry’s silence over the matter, and urged minister Radzi Jidin to speak up.
GEORGE TOWN: Life for chicken seller Suzana Mansor has been a roller coaster ride for the past five years. And every time she picks herself up, life just knocks her down again.
She and her family of three had lived in a chicken coop with no access to water or electricity in 2016. With zakat money, a brick home was quickly built, but that home became decrepit and gave way, due to shoddy materials being used. But they did not complain.
Their suffering came to light again at the height of the first MCO last year, when a group sending out free food to those impacted by the lockdown saw them.
They were discovered living without power supply for over a year and on scraps brought by Suzana’s husband, Rosman Darus, 48, who then worked as a garbage collector.
Tenaga Nasional Bhd then built them a new home earlier this year, with power supply and free Astro. Then, Penang executive councillor Norlela Ariffin built her a new chicken coop to support her business.
Rosman then took up a job as a garbage truck driver, which saw him draw RM1,200 a month, RM400 more than before. But two months later, he was hit by a lorry while riding his motorcycle home from work.
It left him with his leg broken in three places, a broken kneecap and a shattered collar bone. A major surgery has left him largely bedridden. Today, he can’t even afford to take a taxi or Grab to Penang Hospital for his physiotherapy sessions and would seek donations to fund his transport for medical treatment.
A principal of a nearby kindergarten donated her motorcycle to the family but Rosman can no longer ride a bike, let alone take a 25km motorcycle trip to the hospital in George Town.
He’s something of a MacGyver though, and has fashioned a small crutch from a broomstick with a handle of an old badminton racquet to help him walk despite the pain in his right ankle.
The Social Security Organisation (Socso) has offered to send him to a rehab hospital in Melaka for three months but he cannot afford to leave his family on their own.
He also could not afford to pay RM50 for a full medical report from the general hospital, to allow him to claim RM36 a day for the 108 days he was on medical leave. He already has a RM700-plus water bill since they are charged under a commercial tariff.
‘No money for Maggi mee to buka puasa also, boss’
Suzana, 38, had to abandon her chicken rearing business to focus on her husband’s recovery and care for her two children. She now relies on the RM350 from the social welfare department, which she receives as aid for her children. She does not qualify for more, she has been told.
Reporters has reached out to the authorities.
“Last time, we would have bought baju raya for the children two weeks before the celebration. Today, they are asking us why their friends have new clothes and they do not.
“But we can’t even afford to buy Maggi mee to buka puasa, boss,” Rosman said when met by reporters yesterday.
Suzana said a welfare officer had told her she does not qualify for more aid but could apply for OKU (disabled) status for her husband to receive further benefits.
She said she relies on a monthly zakat food aid where she is allowed to take items such as milk formula for her children, diapers, soap, dishwashing liquid, cooking oil, eggs and rice from an outlet in town.
“I am afraid to ask for more. I’ve been asked by some welfare officers why I am complaining to the media when I have received all the aid that I can get. So, I have decided to keep quiet.
“We have been eating plain rice and egg for the past month. Sometimes, kind strangers would drop fresh produce at our house but I am unable to keep them for long as I do not have a fridge.”
Their eldest child, Nor Farisya, eight, was seen listening to Upin and Ipin Hari Raya songs on her parent’s only phone. Asked what she plans to do on the first day of Raya, she said she would be going door to door with her friends to collect duit raya.
Their youngest, Fazira Maizatul, five, was in her own world, playing with toys salvaged from the landfill her father used to work at.
For Rosman and Suzana, a small box of chocolate cookies a kind stranger had donated will be their “official kuih raya” this year.
“We will make do. But we do not know for how long,” she said.
KOTA KINABALU: A state minister has urged Sabahans not to let their guard down in the fight against Covid-19 despite infections showing further signs of improving, with only 50 cases detected on Monday.
Sabah’s public health measures, which have helped drive down infections and turn red zones into more green zones, have also won praise from health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
But Masidi Manjun, the state’s official Covid-19 spokesman, is not letting the accolades go to his head, saying this is not the time to get complacent.
“It will continue to be a yo-yo situation but the next one or two weeks will be crucial,” he told reporters.
“If self-discipline is maintained and there is full compliance with all SOPs, we expect some form of sustained stability in the numbers.
“Don’t get complacent by letting our guard down during the Raya celebrations as we are not out of the woods yet. Everyone must play their part so we can go back to as near a normal life as soon as possible.”
Masidi said with the exception of Tawau and Kota Kinabalu, which registered 19 and 11 cases respectively, 18 other districts detected zero infections, with the remaining seven districts only recording single-digit cases.
Sabah now has a cumulative 59,003 cases, with 567 patients still receiving treatment at hospitals or low-risk treatment centres.
Noor Hisham had, at a press conference last week, praised Sabah’s public health measures involving interstate and inter-district travel, which he said managed to reduce the number of red zones in the state.
He said when the state allowed inter-district travel last Dec 7, it caused a surge of infections that led to no districts being categorised as green zones.
“Most of them were red zones but thanks to the public health measures and strong support from the state government, we managed to increase the number of green zones (in Sabah),” he said.
Noor Hisham also said that other states should emulate the steps taken by Sabah.
KUALA LUMPUR: The latest movement control order (MCO 3.0) that will come into effect nationwide from tomorrow until June 7 is expected to cost the economy RM300 million daily.
Public Investment Bank Bhd (PIVB) said MCO 1.0 (March 18-May 3, 2020) was estimated to have cost the economy RM2 billion per day, while MCO 2.0 (Jan 13-26, 2021) RM300 million per day.
“Given the similarities, MCO 3.0 could also see a daily hit of about RM300 million to the economy, particularly from restrictions on contact-sensitive businesses which will be a drag on the services sector,” it said in a note today.
Citing a potential national disaster in the making if this move is not taken, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Monday that more drastic measures have to be taken in light of the emergence of new variants and higher infectivity rates due to non-compliance of SOPs to combat Covid-19.
Stating that there would not be any fear or panic, especially since most economic sectors would continue to remain open, PIVB, however, noted that the start-stop nature of these recovery measures does not bode well for sentiment, and may prove to be a drag on the gross domestic product (GDP)-dominant services sector.
“We are concerned that the improvement in labour market conditions may be delayed by the constant MCOs and resultant strains on businesses, while the government may also find it hard-pressed to continue supporting households and businesses without putting further strains on its coffers should these conditions persist,” it said.
The investment bank also noted that it had always cautioned that the pandemic could still trip up enthusiasm in the market.
“Market sentiment improved late last year with the first rollouts of the much-awaited Covid-19 vaccines, however, that excitement appears to be floundering amid a global resurgence in cases and the relatively laboured pace of vaccinations domestically,” it said.
On the equities market front, PIVB said while the market remained trading-oriented with volatile swings to be expected, it has lowered its 2021 year-end FBM KLCI closing target to 1,690 points.
Previously, its FBM KLCI target for end-2021 was at 1,750 points.
PIVB also retained its “overweight” stance on the manufacturing, technology, consumer, oil and gas, gaming, and rubber gloves sectors, saying it sees no changes to fundamentals of the recovery story for now.
PETALING JAYA: The ban on dining in restaurants in Kuala Lumpur and six districts in Selangor, and nationwide from tomorrow, has been made worse by the drop in the number of e-hailing riders available for deliveries.
Several eateries reporters spoke to said the lack of deliverymen has further affected their revenue, which is comparably worse off now compared with the first movement control order (MCO) last year.
To make matters worse, the unfavourable weather conditions, especially in the evenings, has made deliveries difficult too, when it should be peak hour for restaurants.
Shankar Santhiram, founder of The Fire Grill, said his restaurant faced a shortage of riders despite being partners with three different food delivery platforms. This has made customers wait up to an hour, which deters others from placing orders.
He told reporters it was not the fault of riders or delivery companies, acknowledging that having no deliverymen available was unavoidable, especially during the rainy season.
But he said the food and beverage industry needed Putrajaya to show some leadership and assist it, especially since the sector contributed a lot of revenue to the country and involved more than a handful of employees per restaurant.
“Every time dine-ins are banned, we lose approximately 80% to 90% of our revenue. So we’ve been surviving on 10% to 20%. In fact, we depend more on self pick-ups than deliveries.
“But now there’s a problem because some customers can’t cross state or district lines to even pick up orders,” he said. Shankar’s restaurant is located in Taman Tun Dr Ismail in Kuala Lumpur which neighbours Bandar Utama, which is in Petaling Jaya.
Meanwhile, the owner of a cafe in Kuala Lumpur who wanted to remain anonymous said there had been at least a 50% drop in sales this time around compared with the first MCO last year.
The combination of bad weather, MCO 3.0, fasting month and Hari Raya week meant fewer riders, which translates to a smaller service radius. Coupled with the dine-in ban, the lower sales were a big challenge for the industry, he said.
He said bigger brands would “hold” riders by only preparing orders once the deliverymen arrived, adding that in huge volumes of orders, riders would even wait up to an hour just to pick up the items.
“During MCOs, 90% of our revenue comes from deliveries, while 10% comes from takeaways. But now deliveries have been badly dented,” he said.
While apprehensive about loosening restrictions, he said if the government were to allow dine-ins, it should only allow adults — no children — and be capped at two a table.
“Those who are high-risk should not even be allowed to enter F&B outlets or even malls.”
However, he was in favour of one “bitter pill” — a total lockdown akin to the first MCO.
Rani Pushparani, manager of Krishna Curry House, said the banana leaf restaurant has been solely dependent on deliveries now. However, it loses between RM2,000 and RM3,000 a day in this MCO.
While things were looking up following the first lockdown, it feels like back to square one for her. She pleaded for the government to relax restrictions on dining in, saying the restaurant was willing to limit customers to two per table.
“Because it’s banana leaf rice, people prefer to sit and eat here. Takeaways are very hard for them. They have to unpack all the food, heat it up then wash the plates.
“Two per table is better than nothing for us, they must consider this at least. I’ve sat here since morning and we’ve only earned RM300 so far. Luckily, we didn’t cook much,” she said.
In April, reporters reported that the number of food delivery riders had fallen in March, with one service provider saying there had been an 85% drop.
Restaurants and food delivery companies said many riders might have gone back to their full-time jobs with the gradual reopening of the economy following the lifting of the second MCO.
While acknowledging this, Shankar said the two-week periods for MCOs could also deter people from signing up as deliverymen. He pointed out that MCOs were always announced to last for two weeks before being extended over and over again, rather than one long period at one go.
Coupled with last-minute announcements on sectors during the MCO, he said some people temporarily out of a job might think twice about signing up as deliverymen because they might be able to work their regular jobs the next day.
He called on the government to be more compassionate towards the F&B industry, especially since most clusters and cases in the past two months came from workplace clusters and the manufacturing industry.
“They can continue operating. Meanwhile, we who make up less than 1% (of cases and/or clusters) are shut down.”
PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Medical Association has questioned the government’s move to implement a nationwide movement control order while still allowing all economic sectors to operate.
MMA president Dr Subramaniam Muniandy said the government should have taken a firm stand and implemented a stricter MCO, adding that a better approach would be a strict lockdown for two weeks at most before slowly lifting restrictions.
“I don’t see the purpose of this MCO because you have all economic sectors open which are all over the place, in different locations. I don’t see the logic, it’s even contradictory.
“The virus has already spread everywhere and it will only get worse. I think the general public is also worried. But what the government is doing might be counterproductive for them as well as the people,” he told reporters.
Noting that Putrajaya had to balance between the economy and public health, he maintained that a lockdown was necessary at this point.
“The problem is, if people get infected and fall sick, where will the money from the economy go? It will be spent on treating these patients, acquiring equipment to treat them. Of course, we can’t close the economy for months and months.”
Former deputy health minister Dr Lee Boon Chye criticised the government for announcing sporadic MCO restrictions in several states and districts before deciding on implementing it nationally.
He told reporters that Putrajaya would have had all the information and data it needed to decide on a nationwide MCO and could have announced it last week, rather than just the MCO on six Selangor districts at the time.
“Last week, they announced an MCO for six districts in Selangor and left out KL. Then they included KL, then they included some districts in Johor, some in Penang. I mean, this is rubbish.
“If you plot the curve (of daily infections) you would have known (a nationwide MCO was needed). You don’t decide based on the cases day by day. As it is, the numbers will continue to rise because the MCO’s effects will only kick in one or two weeks later.
“You’ve got to be pre-emptive. You should be one step ahead of the curve, not chasing the curve,” he said.
Unlike Subramaniam, Lee said there was no need for a total closure of economic sectors. He said the government should be aware by now of the particular sectors that were high-risk and low-risk.
Stringent SOPs must be in place for sectors that were more prone to Covid-19 outbreaks, he said, adding that the nation now needed to learn how to live with the virus.
“Public health measures are not about eradicating the virus. We can’t eradicate the virus from the community now. The objective is to make sure that the outbreak doesn’t get out of control and cause our public health system to collapse.”
Nonetheless, he felt that the MCO would be able to give the public health system some breathing space, as hospitals run out of beds and ICUs designated for Covid-19 patients.
But he said the health ministry needed to improve on its contact tracing efforts to isolate and test close contacts as this would help in preventing potential clusters.
He said the ministry’s contact tracing was not good enough right now, especially following multiple accounts of delayed response in this matter.
“We’ve heard of cases where patients are only brought to treatment centres a few days after testing positive. What more contact tracing? The only way we can keep our numbers low is if we can identify all of a patient’s close contacts within 48 hours and test and isolate them,” he said.
Lee, who is Gopeng MP, had urged Putrajaya last month to establish a contact tracing network comprising an additional 10,000 special workers with mass screenings conducted.
He had said unemployed graduates and those who lost their jobs during the pandemic could be recruited for this and be trained and supervised by public health officials.
PETALING JAYA: Former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has warned that the country may face a serious health crisis, and advised Malaysians against visiting friends and family members this Hari Raya Aidilfitri.
Speaking live on Facebook today, he urged everyone, including politicians, to play their part to stop a health crisis from occurring “(like) in India and Brazil”.
He said they should follow instructions not to gather for Raya celebrations.
“It is crucial not to gather, not to visit friends and relatives. This is not a good time to visit as we can be infected or pass the infection (to others),” he said.
The way to fight Covid-19, Mahathir said, was for the people to isolate themselves.
He said he did not go to the mosque or Ramadan bazaars as people would come close to him.
“I have not gone for prayers as there is no physical distancing, as people (will come close and) ask me about my health. I thank them for their wishes but the reality is, they come close to me,” he said.
He said even though physical distancing was observed inside the mosque, “when we exit, everyone races to exit. (There is) no physical distancing of 1m”.
This also happened at Ramadan bazaars, when people would come close to him to take selfies.
“When we had Ramadan bazaars, it (the number of Covid-19 cases) increased from 2,000 to over 4,000 cases,” he said.
He urged small traders at Ramadan bazaars to be patient because they may have prepared items to sell for the festival. “We need to be patient because we need to curb the infections by our own actions,” he said.
He urged Putrajaya to contribute food and money to those impacted by the pandemic.
On the number of new cases, Mahathir said the situation was more serious than before “due to variants which are more infectious”.
He feared the number of daily infections may surge further, causing a stress on the health system, such as lack of ventilators.
Because of that, he said, the public must be disciplined, wear face masks and practise social distancing to stop the spread of the virus.
“Just stay at home. We may need to buy food, but food can also be bought online and there is no need to go to the market.
“We need to sacrifice a bit. I hope the government will help those without food and money so their burden can be reduced,” he added.
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