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Proclamation of Emergency should be tabled, debated in Parliament – Malaysian Bar

— The Malaysian Bar today said the Emergency Ordinances should have been tabled and debated in Parliament.

Its president AG Kalidas said Article 150(3) of the Federal Constitution clearly stipulated that “A Proclamation of Emergency and any ordinance promulgated under Clause (2B) shall be laid before both Houses of Parliament and, if not sooner revoked, shall cease to have effect if resolutions are passed by both Houses annulling such proclamation or ordinance…”.

He said the role of Parliament underpinned the values needed for the functioning of a democracy and it must therefore adhere to high standards of integrity when discharging its responsibilities.

“This duty falls squarely on the shoulders of the Cabinet, Members of Parliament and the Speaker of Parliament.

“It is therefore imperative that the Cabinet conveys accurate information during parliamentary sittings to ensure that Parliament can engage in effective and meaningful debates. Under no circumstance whatsoever should Parliament ever be misled, even more so during a global pandemic that has upended and thrown the lives of all those in Malaysia into disarray,” he said in a statement today.

He was commenting on the statement issued by the Comptroller of the Royal Household of Istana Negara, Datuk Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin that Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah had expressed his utmost disappointment with the statement made in Parliament last Monday that the government had revoked all Emergency Ordinances under the ongoing emergency without His Majesty’s consent.

He said the Malaysian Bar shared His Majesty’s dismay over the confusing statements made in Parliament during its recent sittings.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Malaysian woman making waves with nasi lemak in Amsterdam

“Kan ik nasi lemak met kip rendang bestellen?” (Can I order ayam rendang nasi lemak?).

This is often the message received in Dutch language by Malaysian-born, Solehan Manger-Ramli, through WhatsApp from clients in Amsterdam, Netherlands since 2017.

Solehan, who moved to Rumpt after marrying a citizen of Netherlands, initially cooked nasi lemak as a hobby for friends.

Now, the 44-year-old cooks nasi lemak on a small scale at home for sale through Whatsapp, Facebook and Instagram.

She was encouraged when Malaysians residing in Netherlands praised her delicious nasi lemak like the ones sold back home.

The locals in Amsterdam also came to know about the popular Malaysian food through social media.

“Generally, they know me and that the nasi lemak is prepared by a Malaysian. Malaysians including students here gave me the monicker ‘Kak Ann Ayam Rendang Nasi Lemak,” she said.

Recalling the initial days when she ventured into the nasi lemak business, the Penang-born mother of two told Bernama through Whatsapp that it started after many Malaysian friends asked her to prepare popular Malaysian dishes especially nasi lemak for them.

They pined for nasi lemak as they have not gone back to Malaysia for a long time, she said.

Adhering to the proverb, ‘no pain no gain’, Solehan took the plunge to turn her hobby into a business using social media applications to promote her ayam rendang nasi lemak.

She also takes request for other dishes such as laksa and various types of Malaysian traditional ‘kueh’ as well.

“I often have my hands full in meeting the bookings but as this is my source of income I will still accommodate their requests,” she said.

She also invited guests to her house to try her new menus as a promotion before the COVID-19 pandemic swept through Netherlands.

According to Solehan, the response from local customers in village nearby is picking up after COVID-19 subsided in the Netherlands with orders from Malaysians including students soaring.

Solehan said a normal nasi lemak set costs RM30 while the ayam rendang nasi lemak set is priced at RM40.

“Such rates are normal over here in Europe and customers understand the difficulty of obtaining the authentic ingredients from Malaysia.

“But I will ensure the prices are on par with the taste and quality because I want to guarantee the customer is satisfied to ensure repeat purchases,” she said.

Solehan will deliver the order to the client as soon as the nasi lemak is prepared in accordance with the quantity ordered while some customers pick up their orders from her house.

On how to begin a business here, Solehah said it is compulsory for traders to register and has a licence even for a small scale business.

Namely, she said they are the business registration certificate from the Kamer Van Koop Handel and the Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP), while ensuring cleanliness all the time.

Solehan, who also harbours a desire to open a Malaysian food restaurant here, receives the moral support from her husband Jan-Willem Manger.

Being fluent in Dutuch languege, he played an important role in getting the locals to try Malaysian food and for Malaysians touring in the area he would say ‘je kan mijn nasi lemak met rendang kip proberen’ (Come try our ayam rendang nasi lemak if you are travelling here).

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Heatwave: Water supply at Bukit Merah reservoir adequate

The water supply for the agriculture industry in Perak is adequate although it is expected to experience a continuous hot and dry climate until September.

State Plantation, Agriculture and Food Industry Committee chairman Razman Zakaria said the Irrigation and Drainage Department (JPS) was currently monitoring the water level at the Bukit Merah dam in Semanggol.

“Although the supply has decreased slightly, the situation is under control with water rationing conducted by JPS.

“The water supply at the Bukit Merah reservoir is not only closely related to agriculture but also for drinking,” he said in a news conference at the Control Post on Scene (PKTK) at Apartment Tropicana Bukit Merah which is placed under the Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO) here today.

A total of 150 residents were involved in the EMCO from July 17 until 30.

The Malaysian Meteorological Department, in a statement, said the country is currently experiencing the Southwest monsoon, which results in a hot and dry climate until mid-September.

Meanwhile, when asked about the price hike of agricultural inputs such as pesticides between 40 and 80 per cent, Razman said the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry have to investigate matter so that it would not affect the agriculture sector.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Dr Mahathir reminds world to continue supporting Palestinian cause

— Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has reminded the world to continue supporting the Palestinians and to denounce the Israeli regime for the crimes it committed in Palestine.

He said the Palestinians had been suffering for 73 long years and human beings are duty-bound to stand up and express their disgust for crimes against humanity which were committed by the Israelis with such impunity.

“With more and more people coming forward denouncing the belligerent regime, and as international public opinion swings sufficiently against the illegal occupation of Palestine, we may still hope to see the end of Israel’s apartheid, hopefully in our lifetime.

“In more ways than not, Palestine exposes the ugly truths about Western democracies and the advocates of free world, their hypocrisy, double standards and self-serving diplomacy. We cannot just sit back and let it persist. We have to actively support the movement for Justice for Palestine. It is the Palestinians’ basic right to return to their land,” he said at the official launching ceremony of Justice For Palestine Action Front (JPAF) via Facebook live today.

The JPAF is an initiative by a few individuals, mostly university professors and academics, who wish a better future for the Palestinians, especially their youths and children.

The action front has gained traction and is now able to count on the support of many civil societies and individuals in Malaysia and overseas.

In his speech, Dr Mahathir congratulated the JPAF for taking the initiative to be another voice for Palestinians as they deserve justice as any other human being.

He said in trying to unravel the complex Palestinian issues and determine the best solution and develop a good strategy, the JPAF needs to undertake urgent research work as facts, figures and data are effective tools in combating misinformation and disinformation.

“I was informed that a Chair on Justice for Palestine is going to be established at the Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia (USIM) soon to support the work of JPAF.

“It should open up available research facilities in the university for its work. Today’s launch should mark the beginning of national and international participation in this noble cause. It is not a Malaysian effort solely. It is an effort for humanity. It is an effort to make right what is wrong, a demand for justice and fairness,” he said.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

Govt expects all seniors in Klang Valley to get at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine very soon – PM Muhyiddin

— The government expects all senior citizens in the Klang Valley to be vaccinated with at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine in the next few weeks.

Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said it was in line with the decision that this group be allowed to come and get their vaccine shots on a ‘walk in’ basis at all Vaccination Centres (PPV) and government health facilities in the Klang Valley from today.

“All PPVs and clinics and health facilities under the Ministry of Health (MOH) are ready to accept these senior citizens whether they are registered or unregistered,” he told reporters after visiting pharmaceutical company Pharmaniaga LifeScience Sdn Bhd here today.

Muhyiddin said that as of July 15, a total of 3,025,275 senior citizens had registered for vaccination and that 2,680,880 or 88.61 per cent of them had received at least one dose of vaccine.

Prior to this, National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK) Coordinating Minister Khairy Jamaluddin had said that senior citizens who had not yet received an appointment could ‘walk in’ at any PPV in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor to get their first dose of vaccine shots from today

Touching on the supply of vaccines, Muhyiddin said that Pharmaniaga which manufactures the Sinovac vaccine is very close to fulfilling the 12.4 million doses of the vaccine ordered by the government.

The prime minister also expressed pride in the company’s success in completing pre-ordered vaccine orders, and said that the supply would help the government speed up the vaccination process.

“This is a decision I made earlier this year, that Pharmaniaga will assist the government in implementing the country’s COVID-19 vaccination process, and it turned out to be successful with the support of vaccines produced by others,” he said.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

US Drug Overdose Deaths Hit Record 93,000 Last Year

More than 93,000 people died from drug overdoses in the U.S. last year, a record experts say was partly triggered by the isolation that many experienced during coronavirus-related lockdowns.

The government reported Wednesday that the 2020 total easily surpassed the previous record of about 72,000 deaths in 2019.

“This is a staggering loss of human life,” Brandon Marshall, a Brown University public health researcher who tracks overdose trends, told the Associated Press. He said the United States was already faced with an overdose epidemic but that the pandemic “has greatly exacerbated the crisis.”

In addition to isolation, many sources of help for addicts were not available during lockdowns.

“During the pandemic, a lot of [drug] programs weren’t able to operate. Street-level outreach was very difficult. People were very isolated,” said Dr. Joshua M. Sharfstein, a health policy expert at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore.

Health experts say that while prescription painkillers once played a key role in U.S. drug overdose deaths, heroin and then in recent years fentanyl — a dangerously powerful opioid — proved exceptionally lethal.

Fentanyl was developed to legitimately treat intense medical pain, but now is sold illicitly and mixed with other drugs.

The government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said its studies show fentanyl was involved in more than 60% of overdose deaths last year.

One of the 93,000 was Jordan McGlashen of Ypsilanti, Michigan, who died of a heroin and fentanyl overdose May 6. He would have turned 39 six days later.

“It was really difficult for me to think about the way in which Jordan died. He was alone, and suffering emotionally and felt like he had to use again,” said his younger brother, Collin McGlashen.

Fentanyl is increasingly being found mixed with other drugs.

“What’s really driving the surge in overdoses is this increasingly poisoned drug supply,” said Shannon Monnat, an associate professor of sociology at Syracuse University who researches geographic patterns in overdoses. “Nearly all of this increase is fentanyl contamination in some way. Heroin is contaminated. Cocaine is contaminated. Methamphetamine is contaminated.”

The scope is staggering. The CDC is reporting that drug overdoses in 2020 increased in every state but New Hampshire and South Dakota.

States with the biggest increases in overdose deaths were Vermont, up 57.6%; followed by Kentucky, up 54%; South Carolina, up 52%; West Virginia, up nearly 50%; and California, up 46%.

Sharfstein of Johns Hopkins says the U.S. is likely now seeing more overdose deaths than deaths from COVID-19.

“This is a different kind of crisis, and it’s not going to go away as quickly,” he said.

Source: Voice of America

Business, Not Pleasure, the Focus for Tokyo-bound Athletes

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA – In less than two weeks, Courtney Frerichs will face off in Tokyo against some of the world’s fastest runners. But like every elite athlete preparing for the Summer Olympics, her focus is not only on preparing to compete.

Frerichs, a middle-distance runner from the United States, is also using the final days of her training to make sure she complies with the elaborate set of rules meant to ensure the Tokyo Games don’t become a COVID-19 superspreader event.

“It’s a lot,” Frerichs told VOA in a recent phone call between training sessions in Portland, Oregon. “We’ve just been trying to review the protocols and everything to make sure that we’re checking all of our boxes and getting all the stuff done, just prior to arriving in Japan.”

Frerichs, who is competing in the steeplechase event in Tokyo, is quick to point out that she understands why the rules are necessary.

“But it certainly adds another level of stress to everything,” she said, laughing. “Like the Olympics wasn’t enough.”

Athletes like Frerichs shrug off the suggestion that COVID-19 regulations, along with other precautions such as the absence of cheering fans, will hurt their performance. But one thing is certain: this Olympics will feel different than any other.

Do’s and don’ts

The official rules for athletes are laid out in a 70-page “Playbook,” which basically reads like a gigantic bummer.

“You should eat alone as much as possible,” warns one section. “You must not walk around the city,” cautions another.

Hugs, high-fives, and handshakes? Not at this Olympics. Alcohol isn’t allowed either, unless athletes consume it inside their rooms at what will surely be a quieter than usual Olympic Village.

For athletes and officials, the planning must begin long before the Olympics. Certain rules, such as social distancing and regular health checks, apply for 14 days before they arrive in Tokyo. Athletes also must submit a detailed “activity plan,” explaining where they will be at every moment of every day.

Once an athlete’s competitions are complete, they are required to leave Japan within 48 hours.

“We come in, we have a job to do, and then we leave. I literally depart the next day,” Frerichs said.

The ‘No Fun Olympics?’

Given the restrictions, and the fact the Games are being staged amid a global pandemic, some news outlets have labeled it the “no fun” or “cursed” Olympics.

“‘No Fun Olympics’ will be right,” predicts Jack Tarrant, a Tokyo-based freelance journalist. Two weeks before the Games, Tarrant says he’s witnessed “almost no enthusiasm at all” in Tokyo.

“There’s very little visually you see on the street, any sort of banners or welcoming signs for foreign visitors or athletes,” Tarrant told VOA. “It’s … very different from any other Olympics experience I’ve had.”

Opinion polls for months have suggested most Japanese oppose holding the Games, which were delayed a year because of the pandemic. Concerns were heightened after a recent surge in COVID-19 infections, prompting a state of emergency in Tokyo.

As a result, Tokyo will host no public viewing areas for the Games. The capital will see no torch relay and will request that bars and restaurants refrain from serving alcohol.

That’s a sharp contrast from other Olympics, where celebration is a main component — even for athletes, notes Tarrant.

“There won’t be the usual time to unwind with the other athletes and have a well-deserved celebration after four, or in this case five, years of preparation,” he said.

There will perhaps be fewer chances for other types of recreation, too, organizers hope.

At every Olympics since 1988, athletes have received condoms, in a tradition that began as an effort to prevent the spread of HIV. At this year’s Games, athletes will only receive condoms upon leaving the Olympic Village.

Business, not pleasure

But David Gerrard, a former Olympic swimmer from New Zealand, tells VOA that the athletes’ focus will be on competition.

“Anybody who thinks these are going to be the ‘boring Olympics’ really has got the wrong idea of what the Olympics is all about,” said Gerrard, who will be working as a COVID-19 liaison officer in Tokyo.

“They’re not a meeting of people who want to sight-see or shop. They are an accumulation of the world’s best athletes who are there to do one thing and that’s to perform to the best of their ability,” Gerrard said.

Gerrard should know. He first competed at the Tokyo Olympics in 1964. This will be the 11th Summer Olympics at which he has competed or attended.

“Things will be very, very different” this year, he concedes. “But like the athletes, I’m not there for a holiday.”

Athlete performance

But will the rules, and specifically the empty stadiums, mean athletes will lack the motivation needed to fuel spectacular performances?

“Crowds are always a factor, no doubt,” Gerrard said. But crowds or not, athletes “will not underestimate the fact that they are at the Olympic Games competing against the world’s best, and I think they’ll focus accordingly,” he predicted.

Another factor: a year and a half into the pandemic, athletes are now more accustomed to performing without fans and dealing with other COVID-19 precautions.

“There is certainly going to be a missing element,” said Frerichs, who feels the crowd was a factor in what she views as the best races of her career.

The challenge in Tokyo, she says, will be largely mental — “just trying to remember all the training days when it was just you and coach out there, and you got the job done,” she added.

Frerichs says in some ways she’s approaching the Games like a business trip.

“Which is definitely not how I envisioned it,” she said. “But that’s OK. I always revert back to just being grateful this is happening at all.”

Source: Voice of America