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Daily Archives: May 15, 2022

Malaysia foreign minister meets counterpart from Myanmar shadow govt in Washington

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Reuters UK

KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) – Malaysia Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah met his counterpart from Myanmar’s National Unity Government (NUG), a shadow administration outlawed by the ruling military junta, in the group’s first open engagement with a Southeast Asian country. The meeting, disclosed by Saifuddin in a Twitter post late on Saturday, was held on the sidelines of a two-day summit in Washington between the United States and the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which excluded Myanmar’s leader over a military coup last year. Myanmar has repeatedly called on countries… Read More »

Malaysia needs more funding to assist Myanmar refugees, says Saifuddin

Malaysia needs more funding to assist Myanmar refugees in Malaysia, says Malaysian Foreign Minister, Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah, here Saturday (Sunday in Malaysia)

He said Kuala Lumpur was looking at providing education and employment opportunities for 200,000 Myanmar refugees and 150,000 Rohingya refugees in Malaysia.

“There are 48 alternative learning centres (ALCs), set up by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), that could support the education of only 25 per cent of the refugees’ children, due to limited funding,” he said. However, offhand, he could not furnish the exact number.

Speaking to the media after an informal meeting with Myanmar’s National Unity Government (NUG) Foreign Minister, Zin Mar Aung, here, the minister said that Malaysia has asked third countries, including the United States, to provide financial assistance.

In fact, he said Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, raised the matter when meeting US President Joe Biden and ASEAN leaders at the just-concluded ASEAN-US Special Summit here.

“At the moment, we receive financial assistance from the Qatar Foundation to help some of the ALCs,” said the minister.

Myanmar is under junta rule, following the Feb 1, 2021 coup that overthrew a democratically-elected government.

The junta failed to commit to the 5-Point Consensus, reached between ASEAN leaders and the junta chief Senior General Min Aung Hliang, during the April 2021 ASEAN meeting in Jakarta.

The five points are: end the violence; hold constructive talks among all stakeholders; ASEAN provides humanitarian aid to Myanmar; a special ASEAN envoy appointed to conduct talks; and the envoy to be allowed to visit the country.

Saifuddin said that ASEAN needed to be more creative in ‘doing things’ following the lack of progress after one year; the junta having failed to honour its commitment.

He said ASEAN, for instance, could provide technical support and training for young administrators and volunteers of the NUG.

“I told Mar Aung that Malaysia was not in a position to provide financial assistance, but that we are willing to provide training, and we need a third country as a funder,” said Saifuddin.

He said, for example, Malaysia works with the Australian government to train 1,000 English teachers in Afghanistan, with Canberra providing the training fund.

The Malaysian minister also touched on humanitarian aid during the discussion with her.

Saifuddin said that he proposed that each ASEAN member country offers a non-governmental organisation (NGO) to assist in the humanitarian work there, with Kuala Lumpur offering Mercy Malaysia.

“We want to make sure that the humanitarian aid reaches the targeted groups,” he said.

Kuala Lumpur did not recognise the junta; the Malaysian cabinet has decided that Malaysia can engage with NUG, the Myanmar shadow government representing lawmakers elected by the people in Nov 2020 election.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

UUM School of Computing develops ‘Neuro-therapy model to address memory loss

ALOR SETAR, May 15 (Bernama) — Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) School of Computing has developed a psychotherapy intervention model based on digital games to address the problem of memory loss among the elderly.

The school’s senior lecturer, Dr Noraziah Che Pa, said the elderly-friendly software technology was developed through studies and research with a combination of expertise from four institutions, namely UUM, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), Universiti Malaysia Kelantan (UMK) and the Social Welfare Department (JKM).

Noraziah, who is also the lead researcher, said the results of the study gave several positive impacts to individuals with memory impairment, and had improved memory recall as well as information technology skills and literacy among the elderly.

“In addition, it is also an effort to bridge the digital divide among the elderly as we often focus on digital divide between the urban and rural communities, unaware that digital divide also occurs between the young and old,” she told Bernama today.

Elaborating, she said the psychotherapy intervention or neuro-therapy, was an alternative approach in treating diseases related to memory problems such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia with the use of medications.

“This ‘neuro-therapy’ digital game is specially designed according to the specific needs and to suit the abilities of the elderly.

“Apart from the ability to simulate to restore memory and sharpen the brain, the other advantages of this digital game is that old memories can be captured as they try to compose the pictures in the puzzle game,” she said.

Noraziah said the psychotherapy study gained recognition and trust at the national and international levels when it received eight innovation awards including Best Paper Award at the 12th Putrajaya International Conference on Children, Women, Elderly and Persons with Disabilities (PICCWED 2020); Best of the Best Paper Award at Creative Industry International Conference 2020 (CIIC 2020) and Gold Medal at the 4th International Malaysia-Indonesia-Thailand Symposium on Innovation and Creativity 2021 (iMITSIC 2021).

“The research and experimental tools of this study have received intellectual property protection from the Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia (MyIPO).

“The researchers are pleased to invite organisations interested to be Smart Collaboration Partners to expand this study in an effort to provide wider impact and benefits to individuals with memory impairment due to various factors, particularly old age,” she said.

Interested parties may contact head researcher, Noraziah via email at aziah@uum.edu.my or call 012-4726803.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Ismail Sabri arrives home from working visit to US

SUBANG, May 15 (Bernama) — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob arrived at the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) Base here this morning after concluding his four-day working visit to the United States (US).

Some 400 people including UMNO leaders, students and youth were present at the air force base to welcome the arrival of the prime minister while carrying several banners and singing the patriotic song ‘Inilah Barisan Kita’.

Also in attendance were Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Dr Shahidan Kassim and Rural Development Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid.

Ismail Sabri then spent about 30 minutes greeting the crowd.

During the working visit, the prime minister took part in the ASEAN-US Special Summit and met with US President Joe Biden and ASEAN leaders.

In a press conference on the final day, Ismail Sabri described the visit as successful and has further strengthened Malaysia-US as well as ASEAN-US ties, while during the ASEAN-US Special Summit chaired by Biden, he touched on the Russia-Ukraine crisis and issues concerning the South China Sea, Palestine and Myanmar.

According to Ismail Sabri, the conflicts not only affected the world economy but also sacrificed the lives of innocent people.

During the summit, Malaysia was the only country that openly called on the US to help implement the United Nations (UN) resolution on the formation of a Palestinian state before the 1967 war that gave Jerusalem the right to be the Palestinian capital.

In front of Biden, the prime minister urged the US to be honest and transparent in dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian issue and said: “Israeli atrocities against the Palestinians must be stopped immediately”.

On the South China Sea issues, Malaysia wants the waterway to be free from outsiders’ interference and to remain a free trade area, while urging superpowers like China and the US to end any provocations in the South China Sea.

Meanwhile, Malaysia hopes that the Myanmar issue could be resolved in a diplomatic manner, including by observing ASEAN’s 5-Point Consensus.

As a country most affected by the influx of refugees from Myanmar, Malaysia also requested US assistance in relocating them to a third country.

A media content creator, Muhammad Adib Aiman Badrul Shahar, 33, said he arrived at the air force base compound at 8 am.

“The return of the prime minister from the US brings along good news, investors and he also carries the good name of Malaysia, so why don’t we welcome him home,” he said.

A Universiti Malaya graduate, Wan Nuremmelly Mekar, 21, said she arrived at around 7.50 am and the atmosphere was very lively.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Sarawak State Assembly to sit for eight days, says Speaker

KUCHING, May 15 (Bernama) — The Second Meeting of the First Session of the 19th Sarawak Legislative State Assembly (DUN) will take place for eight days from May 17 to 26, said Speaker Tan Sri Mohamad Asfia Awang Nassar.

He said three Bills (RUU) would be tabled, namely the Supplementary Supply Bill (2022), the Land Code (Amendment) Bill 2022 and the Forests (Amendment) Bill 2022.

“The Supplementary Supply Bill (2022) will be tabled by the Deputy Premier who is also the second Minister of Finance and New Economy, Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas.

“The Land Code (Amendment) Bill 2022 will be tabled by the Deputy Minister in Sarawak Premier’s Department (Law, Malaysia Agreement 1963 and State-Federal Relations), Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali while the Forests (Amendment) Bill 2022 will be tabled by the Deputy Premier who is also the Minister for Urban Development and Natural Resources II, Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan,” he said.

He said this at a press conference after holding a meeting with members of Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) at the Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) headquarters here today.

Asfia said a total of 347 questions would be raised at the sitting with 284 questions for oral replies and another 63 questions for written ones.

On May 18, a new Senator will also be elected as Senator Datuk Zaiedi Suhaili’s second term will end on July 18, he added.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Another Area Fishermen’s Association branch to be set up in Beluran – Ronald

BELURAN, May 15 (Bernama) — Another Area Fishermen’s Association (PNK) in Beluran will be established to help channel government assistance to fishermen in the district.

Agriculture and Food Industries Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandee said the new PNK will be set up in the Sugut area as soon as possible.

“Various programmes and aid by the government for the fisherman will be channelled through the Fisheries Development Authority of Malaysia (LKIM) which has been running for a long time, however, a majority of the fishing community in Beluran have not seen the benefits.

“This is because the Beluran area is vast and only served by one PNK,” he told reporters after distributing fishermen’s living allowance and attending the Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebration in Pulau Jambongan near here today.

Ronald, who is also member of parliament for Beluaran, said the government was spending huge funds to help fishing communities across the country, including the construction of fishermen’s houses and infrastructure such as jetties.

Therefore, he hoped the fishing community would take the opportunity to become PNK members to enjoy the benefits from the government.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Wesak Day celebrated minus major events, processions

KUALA LUMPUR, May 15 (Bernama) – Wesak Day is usually celebrated in a big way among Buddhists in the country but street processions with a sea of orange robes will not be seen this year to avoid massive crowds as devotees emerge from a two-year abstinence of avid festivity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Bernama survey in several states saw Buddhists families fervently visiting temples in the early hours of the morning to hold religious ceremonies and pay homage to Siddharta Gautama, the religion’s founder.

They performed religious rituals by lighting candles and offering flowers to commemorate the birth, enlightenment and death of Gautama Buddha.

The grounds of the Maha Vihara Buddhist Temple in Brickfields here was filled with devotees as early as 8 am and moderate crowds began queuing in the grounds of the synagogue to carry out religious activities such as rice and flower offerings and lighting of candles as well as making donations to the temple.

Sirisena Perera, president of the Sasana Abhiwurdhi Wardana Society, said the Buddhist Maha Vihara Temple in Brickfields will not stage three major events on this year’s Wesak Day to control the size of crowds.

“One of the key activities on Wesak Day is a blood donation campaign, the second is we will not be distributing free food and drinks while the last refrain is that we will not hold a procession. Normally on Wesak Day, in the evening, there will be a chariot procession which can easily draw a 100,000-strong crowd accompanying it on foot,” said Sirisena at the temple today.

The venerable elder said the temple is expected to receive only 50 per cent of the usual congregation for Wesak Day before the pandemic struck where the normal crowd would be from 30,000 to 40,000.

In SELANGOR, the venerable ‘Bhikkhuni’ named Man Hui, 60, of the Fo Guang Shan Dong Zen Temple in Jenjarom, said Buddhists began filling the grounds as early as 8am today for prayers.

“We expect more than 5,000 visitors to attend prayers here because the Wesak Day celebration at this temple is held over two days from yesterday. Before COVID-19, about 10,000 devotees from inside and outside Selangor will turn up,” said the Buddhist nun.

“Today there is a prayer, sermon and chanting from 10 am to 6 pm, a physical Buddhist bathing ritual for the baby Buddha,” said the fully ordained monastic deputy chief at the temple in Kuala Langat today.

In MELAKA, Buddhists started celebrating Wesak Day since yesterday with a temple countdown to midnight and this morning, the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple in Jalan Tokong held a donation drive for the needy.

Cheng Hoon Teng Temple is one of the oldest temples in Malaysia, built in 1673 by Captain Lee Wei King with the stature of being awarded Outstanding Architectural Restoration by the United Nations Cultural and Scientific Educational Organization (UNESCO) in 2003.

In KEDAH, the Siamese community was huddled for religious ceremonies at Wat Siam Teluk Wanjah in Alor Setar after almost a two-year absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In PERAK, Wat Siribunyamagaram Temple in Jalan Tambun was among the temples around Ipoh steeped into religious ceremonies to celebrate the birth-death cycle of Buddha.

In KELANTAN, despite the absence of a large-scale Wesak Day celebration, several Siamese temples around Tumpat continued to be thronged by devout visitors.

A Bernama survey at Wat Photivihan in Kampung Jambu, famous for its 40.9 metre-long ‘Sleeping Buddha’, with a height of 10.9m, received devotees from 8.30am.

Chow Fook Weng, 40, from Gelugor in Penang said he and five work colleagues at a construction site in Kota Bharu took advantage of the public holiday today to visit the abode of worship.

“The celebration here is not as lively as in Penang, but it’s okay … my friends and I came to pay homage and also to marvel at the architecture of the Siamese community in this wat,” he said.

Apart from that, another temple in Tumpat, Wat Machimmaram in Kampung Jubakar which houses a sitting Buddha statue also received visits from the public.

In PENANG, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow hoped that this year’s Wesak theme of ‘Promoting harmony through mutual respect and help’ would inspire Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike to live in peaceful unity.

“As we deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, it is very clear that empathy, humility and unity are essential to the well-being of the people. I hope that with continuous efforts, we will triumph in overcoming the virus and its devastating consequences,” he said in a Wesak Day message which reflects the spirit of Malaysian Buddhists.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency