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Daily Archives: January 17, 2021

Limited internet access, lack of devices continue to shackle home-based learning

The implementation of home-based teaching and learning (PdPR) is seen as the best option for school students right now, following the spike in COVID-19 positive cases in the country.

However, based on its previous implementation, there are some issues that must be given due attention to ensure that all students can participate and no one will be missing out.

Poor Internet access and the lack of devices are the major issues that need to be addressed in order to embrace the new normal of teaching and learning which replaces face-to-face classes.

National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Harry Tan Huat Hock suggested that the government give emphasis on efforts to provide reliable Internet access and digital devices for students.

“The government can also provide a ‘Tax Holiday’ and tax exemption for parents to purchase devices for their children,” he said when contacted by Bernama TV today.

Tan said in fact, such issues which could also affect the effectiveness of PdPR especially among the less fortunate students, have been raised for several times.

Yesterday, the Education Ministry said that all primary pupils and students from Form 1 to Form 5 would follow PdPR according to the suitability of teachers and students from Jan 20.

The ministry said the face-to-face school sessions, commencing Jan 20, for the whole country would only involve students sitting for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM), Sijil Vokasional Malaysia (SVM), Sijil Kemahiran Malaysia (SKM), Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM), Sijil Tinggi Agama Malaysia (STAM), and Malaysian Vocational Diploma (DVM) as well as equivalent international examinations last year.

Tan said the government could also forge collaboration with non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the private sector to get funds to help the less fortunate to purchase devices or gadgets.

On the PdPR weaknesses which include students being less motivated as there is no physical presence of the teachers and poor time management, he said cooperation of all parties are needed to make it a success.

Tan said the NUTP had also received suggestions for PdPR to be implemented after working hours but it would have to be agreed upon by all parties.

He also opined that formal training for teachers should be provided to ensure virtual learning delivery process effectiveness.

Meanwhile, National Association of Parents and Teachers Association (PIBGN) president Datuk Mohamad Ali Hassan suggested that the setting up of a PdPR reference centre in every state education department (JPN), district education office (PPD).

“It can serve as a one stop centre to address any problems and challenges faced by teachers and students,” he said adding all parties should also give their full commitment to ensure all students would have an effective learning experience.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Two fishermen feared drowned off Pulau Undan

Two local fishermen are feared to have drowned after going out to sea off Pulau Undan in the Straits of Melaka on Wednesday.

Melaka Fire and Rescue Department deputy operations director Muhammad Izwan Arief Mat Nor said that based on initial information, the two men are Ahmad Norizan Mohamad, 37, and his friend known as Wan, who is in his 30s.

He said the department received a call from the public regarding the incident at 11.26 am today. Seven personnel and a fire engine from the Padang Temu fire station arrived at the location two minutes later.

“The search and rescue (SAR) operation was assisted by the Melaka Tengah Water Rescue Unit (PPDA), police, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) as well as the Marine Department and comprised 36 personnel.

“The operation began at 2.17 pm and was suspended at 7.04 pm. The search radius was around eight to 10 nautical miles from the Padang Temu fishermen’s jetty,” he told Bernama when contacted today.

He added that initial investigations revealed that both victims were reported to have gone out to sea on Jan 13 before the victim’s family lodged a police report yesterday evening.

He said the fibre boat used by the victims was seen by passing fishermen off the Pulau Undan waters, about eight nautical miles from the jetty, on the same day (Jan 13).

Muhammad Izwan Arief said they would continue the search operation at about 6.45 am tomorrow and that air surveillance would also be conducted using a helicopter.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Safety, basic needs of health workers taken care of – Dr Sha’ari Ngadiman

The Selangor State Health Department (JKNS) is paying attention to the work environment, basic needs and safety of health personnel at its facilities.

Its director, Datuk Dr Sha’ari Ngadiman said this in response to an article titled, ‘LETTER: A Tired Doctor From Sungai Buloh Asks To Be Treated Humanely’, posted on a news portal yesterday, to ensure efficient and quality treatment for patients.

He said the JKNS had engaged additional medical officers, nurses, assistant medical officers and health treatment assistants through redeployment within the state and from other states, besides more staff through hiring of new contract officers by the Ministry of Health (MOH) for Sungai Buloh Hospital.

“At Sungai Buloh Hospital and other hospitals in Selangor, personnel handling COVID-19 cases are given an allowance by the government, overtime allowance for those who have to work extra hours and other allowances that are felt necessary,” he said in a statement, here, today.

On the provision of food, Dr Sha’ari said this was based on qualifying for it as contained in the MOH circular, whereby all recalled medical personnel would be provided with food.

“However, food could still be obtained from the cafeterias or ordered online,” he added.

Dr Sha’ari also stated that the medical officers and staff in other categories stationed at the COVID-19 wards were working on shifts to lessen the workload while the rest days were given fairly.

“Each COVID-19 ward has a safe rest area for the health personnel to relax, eat and pray and they are also supplied with enough personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent cross infection, while the financial and allocation and supply are sufficient.

“The hospitals also provide psychological counselling services for moral support as well as advice for the health personnel who need such services.

“All feedback from the health personnel will be forwarded to the hospitals’ management and then to JKNS and MOH for further action,” he said.

Yesterday, a news portal published a letter by a doctor from Sungai Buloh Hospital on the burden that has to be shouldered by health personnel at the hospital and who also claimed the shortage of basic facilities like room and food for the shift workers on call.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

COVID-19: Thailand reports 374 new cases, zero deaths

Thailand recorded 374 new COVID-19 cases and zero deaths over the last 24 hours, bringing the tally in the kingdom to 12,054 cases and 70 fatalities.

The Centre for COVID-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) spokesman, Thaweesilp Wissanuyothin said of the 374 new cases, 364 were local transmissions — 321 cases through active case detection and 43 cases linked to those visiting high-risk areas, and 10 imported cases.

He said Thailand saw a second wave of outbreaks beginning in mid-December, recording 7,817 cases and 10 fatalities. The latest outbreak has spread to 61 provinces.

“We are expecting more COVID-19 cases as the public health authorities are stepping up active case detection at factories in a few provinces,” he said at the COVID-19 daily briefing, here, today.

Since the outbreak in January last year, Thailand has recorded 12,054 COVID-19 cases, of which 9,777 were local transmissions including 3,707 through active case detection while 2,277 were returnees from abroad.

Meanwhile, Thaweesilp expressed concern over undocumented migrant workers who skipped the COVID-19 test in fear of legal action taken against them, as they could spread the deadly virus.

“We estimate that there are 50,000 illegal migrant workers in the kingdom and they could potentially spread the virus if they dodge COVID-19 tests during the active case detection,” he said.

To curb the spread of COVID-19, Thailand has allowed undocumented migrant workers from Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar to apply for a work permit without penalties to enable the authorities to monitor their health.

They are allowed to work in the country legally until February 2023.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Prayut Chan o-Cha assured that the authority would not rush to approve the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to the English news portal, The Nation, Prayuth refused to let Thais be guinea pigs.

“I have an important policy, that is, to ensure that the vaccine is safe, so that it can be used for Thai people,” he said.

Thailand is expected to receive its first batch of the COVID-19 vaccine from China’s Sinovac Biotech in February.

The first shipment of 200,000 doses is expected to arrive by the end of February and 800,000 doses by end of March and one million doses by end of April.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Health, economy among six main clusters for smooth emergency management

The health cluster and the economy cluster are among six main clusters to be focused on by the government following the establishment of the Emergency Management Technical Committee yesterday.

The Chief Secretary to the Government, Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali said the creation of the six clusters was aimed at coordinating all agencies and ministries involved in ensuring the management of the Emergency throughout the country would run smoothly.

“The four other clusters are security, education, communication as well as federal and state relations,” he said in an exclusive interview with Bernama at his office here today.

Elaborating further, Mohd Zuki said the economy cluster would be responsible for evaluating and recommending national policies and strategies during the Emergency to ensure stability and boost investor confidence.

The health cluster would evaluate and recommend policies and strategies related to public health throughout the Emergency, including the smooth preparation of public health services, adequate supply of medicine and blood, in addition to COVID-19 and the temporary acquisition of assets for health service purposes.

For the security cluster, Mohd Zuki said it would evaluate and recommend national security strategies during the Emergency to maintain, protect and defend the country’s core values including assessing the acts required for temporary enforcement and the temporary acquisition of assets for security purposes.

“For the education cluster, it will evaluate and recommend primary, secondary and tertiary education policies and strategies during the Emergency especially involving education access, examinations and student movement,” he said.

Touching on the communication cluster, Mohd Zuki said it would disseminate accurate information regarding the Emergency to Malaysians in addition to analysing their views throughout the Emergency.

For the federal and state relations cluster, it will coordinate relations between the federal and state governments, especially regarding the coordination and use of state ordinance and enactments, he added.

“It must be stated that during the Emergency, state governments function as usual. Only some temporary powers under the Yang di-Pertuan Agong which involve the temporary acquisition of assets as well as buildings or movable property as stated previously,” he said.

Mohd Zuki explained that all members and parties in the six clusters have conducted meetings and carried out their duties that require immediate attention to mitigate side effects if action was delayed, especially to curb the spread of COVID-19.

Therefore, he said that the country’s administration was not affected by the proclamation of Emergency because the service sector, both public and private, will carry on as usual according to the standard operating procedures set in addition to complying with the Movement Control Order (MCO).

“The important thing is that government services are not affected. This is important to the people and investors so that they understand the message, including why the Emergency was declared.

“Even though the MCO was in effect, the number of cases was still too high. That is why it is important for Malaysians to understand and obey the Emergency Ordinance announced so that it can be implemented as best as possible,” he said.

The government yesterday agreed to establish an Emergency Management Technical Committee to ensure the management of the Emergency throughout the country would be run smoothly, said Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

The committee would be jointly chaired by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan and the Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Mohd Zuki Ali.

The technical committee will, among others, be responsible for monitoring issues relating to the implementation and management of the Emergency as well as to recommend solutions.

The committee also has the role of coordinating emergency management with relevant parties at federal and state levels apart from heading the monitoring and inspection of the enforcement of emergency law at all levels.

The Prime Minister said the eight-member committee included the director-general of Public Service Department, secretary-general of the Treasury, Attorney-General, Chief of Defence Forces, Inspector-General of Police, Health director-general, MKN director-general and cluster chiefs.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Paint manufacturing plant in Rawang suspected of releasing prohibited effluent – SPAN

A paint manufacturing and sales factory at the Nautical Industrial Park in Rawang, Selangor is suspected of releasing prohibited effluent into a sewage treatment plant owned by Indah Water Konsortium Sdn Bhd (IWK).

According to the National Water Services Commission (SPAN), they received a complaint from IWK regarding the release of the prohibited effluent today and then made a surprise inspection of the plant.

The factory was suspected of illegal discharge of effluent, namely red paint manufacturing wastewater into the public sewerage system which then flowed into the Sewage Treatment Plant/ Pump Station (GBK 281) owned by IWK at Rawang Nautical Industrial Park, Selangor.

“This irresponsible act can be detected early and does not involve any contamination of water resources which will lead to stop work at the water treatment plant,” SPAN said in a statement today.

The commission said the inspection was carried out today by SPAN together with the Police, Department of Environment, the Fire and Rescue Department, Selangor Water Management Board, Selayang Municipal Council and IWK.

SPAN will take firm action without any compromise on any party suspected of releasing any prohibited effluent into the public sewerage which will have an impact on the public sewage treatment system as well as the environment.

The act of releasing or disposing of any prohibited effluent into the public sewerage system will be investigated under Section 61 (1) of the Water Services Industry Act 2006 [Act 655] which upon conviction may result in a fine not exceeding RM100,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding one year or both.

SPAN seeks the cooperation of the public to report pollution cases to the SPAN Investigation and Enforcement Division at 03 – 8317 9333 or email to aduan@span.gov.my.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Traders resort to survival strategies to keep food businesses going

Rows of eateries in the hotspots in Bandar Melaka usually bustling with visitors wanting to enjoy iconic dishes such as ‘Asam Pedas’ as well as various menus, are now deserted and only filled with food delivery motorcycles.

A Bernama check at Monorail Food Village, Jalan Tun Ali found the average trader had to change operating hours and promotional strategies including providing online food delivery services to ensure business continuity, following the implementation of the Movement Control Order (PKP) since Jan 13.

For Muhammad Azrul Rozelan, 34, previously the restaurant was open from evening until 12 midnight, but since the MCO, he started making preparations to complete the menu ordered by customers starting from 11 am.

“Previously, my nachos business was quite encouraging, but with the implementation of MCO 2.0, my income has dropped by 50 per cent from previous sales which can reach between RM300 to RM600 a day.

“We have taken the initiative by changing the way we do business as previously many visitors come to eat in this area, but now we have to use online food delivery services,” he told Bernama here today.

Nurazmira Nadia Ishak, 25, who sells a variety of fried chicken said sales were currently relatively slow but she was taking advantage of the use of social media platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram to promote food products in her shop.

“I promote a lot of sales on the Melaka tourism website and have to diversify the means of promotion because in the past we depended on visitors who came to this place. Thankfully, this effort was successful, many also support our business,” she said.

Meanwhile, drink vendor, Ali Ahmad, 50, said he was grateful to his fellow food stall traders there who help and support by promoting the sale of cut fruits and drinks at his shop.

“The demand for drinks is very low, trying to earn RM50 a day is difficult, but fortunately friends here help promote food with a drink, so thankfully I can earn a bit,” he said.

For Muhammad Azan Muhammad Syafie, 26, the last food order he will receive is at 7 pm but the number of orders during the weekend is much less than the working day because people are at home and do their own cooking.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had earlier announced the implementation of the MCO in Penang, Selangor, Federal Territories (Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Labuan), Melaka, Johor and Sabah for a period of 14 days starting from Jan 13, with some economic activities allowed to operate from 6 am until 8 pm.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency