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Employers urged to minimise COVID-19 exposure risk

– The National Institute of Occupational Safety & Health (NIOSH) wants employers from high risk industries to refine their risk assessment and improve procedures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.

Its chairman, Datuk Wilson Ugak Kumbong, said this is particularly relevant for industries where the staff are in direct contact with patients or symptomatic visitors.

“Employers must act responsibly in ensuring the safety, health and welfare of workers.

“Those who hire foreigners, especially, should make sure workers do a swab test and are only allowed to work if they are negative,” he said in a statement today.

He said employers must monitor the hostels of workers, as well as ensure physical distancing and compliance with the standard operating procedure (SOP) – like face mask use and a clean environment – in the workplace.

He asked employers and employees to obey the law, like the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994, and adopt measures to reduce the risk of infection in the workplace.

“NIOSH is calling for cooperation from all to help the government lower the infection rate to two digits and reach 0 (cases),” he said.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

iBAYAQ makes some payments easy in Kedah

Payments for quit rent, People’s Housing Project (PPR) rental, and education loans for Kedah residents can now be made online through the iBAYAQ portal, introduced a few months ago.

The Kedah government, in a posting on its official Facebook page today, said that the use of the system is seen as very appropriate for the current situation so that the public can avoid crowded places.

It said that the system was introduced to replace the old payment methods conducted manually over the counter or by hand delivery.

“Through this system, payments for quit rent, housing (PPR) rental and education loans are now at your fingertips. You can use credit and debit cards or even FPX (Financial Process Exchange) to make payments on iBAYAQ.

“However, many people in the state still do not know about the existence of the iBAYAQ system that is fast, secure and easy to use, since this system was introduced recently,” it said.

It also said that the payment method through this system only requires four steps, namely, find the bill, scan the QR code on the bill or use your MyKad number, select the bill you want to pay and pay online.

The public can browse the system at https://ibayaq.kedah.gov.my/

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Spectrum usage, S.E.A telecommunications industry to be discussed at ADGMIN1

— Spectrum usage and telecommunications industry activities in Southeast Asia will be among the main points of discussion at the first ASEAN Digital Ministers Meeting (ADGMIN1) set to be held in Malaysia this month.

Ministry of Communications and Multimedia Malaysia (KKMM) secretary-general Datuk Seri Mohammad Mentek said apart from the launch of the ASEAN Digital Master Plan 2025 (ADM2025), the two-day meeting beginning Jan 21 would, among others, be a forum for exchanging views on policies related to the use of telecommunications spectrum.

“This needs to be discussed at the ASEAN-level, so that it (spectrum) can be used efficiently and to reduce interference between frequencies.

“This is because the spectrum involving radio frequencies has various uses, including television and radio broadcasting, radar and satellite communications,” he told Bernama here today.

The ASEAN Digital Senior Officials Meeting (ADGSOM) and ADGMIN1 meetings are policy-level meetings for the information and communications technology (ICT) sector at the ASEAN-level to face cross-border challenges among ASEAN countries, including access to the Internet.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah is scheduled to chair ADGMIN1 in a closed session via teleconference.

Mohammad said COVID-19 had changed the landscape of how work is carried out under the new normal, with good Internet access required in all countries in the region which has also been affected by the pandemic.

“There is no denying that the global pandemic has helped accelerate the acceptance of digitalisation under the new norm,” he said.

Mohammad said Malaysia was given the responsibility to prepare ADM2025, which would serve as a guide for the development of the ASEAN Digital Sector over the next five years.

ADM2025, he said, was a continuation of the previous two master plans, namely the ASEAN ICT Master Plan 2015 (AIM2015) and the ASEAN ICT Master Plan 2020 (AIM2020) in pushing ASEAN towards a safe, sustainable and transformative digital economy, as well as enabling an innovative, inclusive and integrated ASEAN Community.

“This is something that is historic for Malaysia, because we have prepared the ASEAN Digital Master Plan, which will be used as a guide for ASEAN countries in facing the digital economy, and of course, is also considered as a guide to face challenges post-COVID-19,” he said.

Mohammad said ADGMIN1 was also hoped to help realise the development of policies that encouraged private sector participation to jointly develop high-quality ICT infrastructure and services to enhance ASEAN’s competitiveness to support the goals of the ASEAN community.

He said this included efforts to support the digital transformation of traditional sectors, as well as creating a fair and competitive digital market.

“This also includes efforts to develop a safe and reliable digital environment, such as strengthening cybersecurity, and ensuring digital transactions are safe.

“At the same time, (we also need to) create smart digital citizens, for example, who are confident in carrying out online transactions,” he said.

In addition to ministers and senior officials from ASEAN member countries, the meeting also involves the participation of officials from Japan, China, the European Union, the United States, South Korea, India and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

MCO: STAN urges govt to intervene in loan moratorium extension for tourism industry

In view of the implementation of the Movement Control Order (MCO) for the second time in Sabah since Wednesday, the Sandakan Tourism Association (STAN) has urged the government to intervene in extending the loan moratorium by banks for all tourism industry players until June.

Its president Teo Chee Kim said this was because the tourism industry was the hardest hit by the MCO.

“Since the first MCO back in March last year, the tourism industry virtually came to a standstill as international borders continue to be closed, while interstate travel is currently not allowed.

“For an industry that brought in billions in revenue annually and provided thousands of jobs, I think the industry merits every bit of immediate government intervention to keep it alive,” he said in a statement here today.

Teo pleaded with the government to help the tourism industry face financial pressure during the pandemic before it suffers a total collapse.

He also hoped the government could provide more incentives for tourism players that had suffered massive losses to re-skill in order to survive the pandemic.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Azman Adam appointed as KPDNHEP enforcement director

Azman Adam, the deputy director (Prevention) of the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP), has been appointed as the ministry’s new enforcement director, effective Jan 5.

His appointment was announced by the Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi, in a statement today.

Nanta said that he and the ministry’s staff are giving their full support and trust to Azman to carry out the new responsibility and position.

“I am confident that he will continue to support the mission and vision of the ministry in a state of full readiness, and efforts to oversee legal compliance among traders, and is concerned about protecting the interests of consumers,” he said.

Azman, 50, from Terengganu, has extensive experience in the field of enforcement, and has assumed various responsibilities in several states including as the Selangor chief enforcement officer before serving at the Putrajaya headquarters as the deputy director (Prevention).

During his service, Azman received the High Performance Award, Mayban Finance Berhad in 1992 and he was also named as the recipient of the KPDNHEP Outstanding Service Awards five times, in 1998, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2011.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Felcra pays RM150 million to Public Mutual for investment – witness

— A witness told the Sessions Court here today that that Federal Land Consolidation and Rehabilitation Authority (Felcra) Berhad has paid RM150 million through five transactions to Public Mutual unit trusts for investment purposes.

Former Felcra investment unit finance manager Esah Abas, 62, said this in the corruption trial of Datuk Seri Bung Moktar Radin, who was then Felcra non-executive chairman, and his wife Datin Seri Zizie Ezette A. Samad

The 10th prosecution witness said that the payment by Felcra was made through five payment vouchers dated May 18, 2015.

“The five payment vouchers referred to me were provided by me on the instructions of Azriman Ridouan who was Felcra’s credit control senior manager at that time. Vouchers are provided based on a copy of a letter to Affin Islamic Bank Berhad entitled Transfer Money from Felcra Berhad current account.

“The total payments made to Public Mutual Berhad are RM50 million, RM50 million, RM20 million, RM20 million and RM10 million. I confirm the signature of the provider of all these vouchers is my signature,” she said while reading her witness statement under the examination-in-chief by deputy public prosecutor Maziah Mohaide.

Esah said that the RM150 million transfer letter for Public Mutual unit trust investment was signed by former Felcra finance group general manager, Azmy Abu Samah and former Felcra board member, Datuk Fattah Abdullah.

“Both of these individuals are valid signatories for every payment made by Felcra Berhad,” she said.

When cross-examined by lawyer Datuk K. Kumaraendran, who was representing Zizie Izette, whether the investment unit violated financial procedures, Esah replied: “It was not against the law”.

Kumaraendran: It was allowed to make that investment?

Esah: It was allowed then as there was money.

Kumaraendran: Without a letter signed by Datuk Fattah, can vouchers be issued?

Esah: Without a letter, I cannot issue the voucher.

Esah also said that the approval of the payment was made by her superiors and she was not involved in the matter.

On May 3, 2019, Bung Moktar, 61, pleaded not guilty to two counts of accepting bribes amounting to RM2.2 million and RM262,500 as an inducement to obtain Felcra’s approval to make a RM150 million investment in Public Mutual unit trusts.

Bung Moktar, who was then the non-executive chairman of Felcra, was accused of accepting bribes from Public Mutual investment agent Madhi Abdul Hamid, 38, through his wife Zizie Ezette at the Public Bank Taman Melawati branch, Jalan Bandar 12, Taman Melawati here, between 12.30 pm and 5 pm on June 12, 2015.

He also pleaded not guilty to accepting a bribe of RM335,500 for himself from another Public Mutual investment agent, Norlaili Ahmad Mokhtar, 42, under the name Zizie Izette, for the same reason.

The offence was allegedly committed at the same place on June 19, 2015.

Zizie Ezette pleaded not guilty to three counts of abetting her husband in committing the alleged offences, at the same place, date and time.

The trial before Judge Rozina Ayob continues tomorrow.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Brisk sale at Osman Goat Farm following meat cartel scandal

— Following the expose on the meat cartel scandal involving the importation of meat with dubious halal status in early December, local livestock farmers and sellers of local meat have been doing brisk business.

One of the companies experiencing brisk sales as a result of the expose, is Osman Goat Farm in Kangkar, Tebrau here, which has been in the market for the past 31 years.

According to its managing director, Osman Cheya Kutty, after news report on the meat scandal emerged last month, the company’s sale of fresh mutton and lamb increased significantly adding that from three goats a day, he now requires nine, to meet the surge in demand for fresh goat meat.

He believes the increase in demand was due to people’s awareness and concern in ensuring that the meat they eat is lawful or halal, as many had demanded to see the halal certification for the products before making their purchase.

“Even though fresh local mutton is more expensive and is sold at about RM60 per kilogramme (kg) compared to imported frozen meat at RM25 per kg, people are willing to pay for it,” he told reporters when met at his business premises here today.

Osman added that there is no problem in meeting the increasing demand for fresh mutton in Johor as the company currently owns about 3,000 goats.

“At our farms in Seelong, Kulai and here (Kangkar Tebrau), we have two local goat breeds namely Jamna Pari and Boer Goat as well as four Australian sheep breeds namely Damara, Merino, Vanroy and Awassi.

The media previously reported on the activities of a cartel involved in smuggling frozen meat from several countries before repackaging the meat using the halal logo in a warehouse in Senai, Johor.

Meanwhile Osman said the company suffered RM60,000 in losses when several products, furniture and electrical appliances were destroyed in the floods which hit Johor Bahru recently.

He said the business premises was inundated with 1.2 metres of water while his workers were preparing to supply food to 600 flood victims in the Kangkar Tebrau area, on Jan 2 at about 11 am.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency