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Healthcare system under attack p 12 – 14
CouNCil takeN to task over deNgue p 2
February 17 — 19, 2012/ issue 61
By alvin Yap
suBaNg JaYa: A mother whose baby was nearly snatched away in a smash-and-grab incident last Friday is mounting a campaign against snatch thieves. “If I don’t do anything now, I feel even more unsafe. I don’t want to feel so helpless,” 31-year-old business executive Yap Yann Fang told Selangor Times on Wednesday. Yap wants to set up a Facebook page to gather mass support and compel the local authorities to take measures to protect women drivers and pedestrians. She is enlisting the help of friends, some of whom have been victims themselves. During the 9pm incident last week, two men on a motorcycle who were wearing full-face helmets pulled up next to her car at the traffic light along the road above the Kesas interchange opposite the Summit shopping mall. The pillion rider smashed the left-rear window with an iron rod and attempted to lift her 17-month daughter, Giselle, from her babyseat in the rear.
A mum’s crusade
yap (right) and her friends in their campaign against snatch thieves.
The snatch thief had apparently mistaken her daughter for a handbag. She said the man stopped midway when her daughter started crying before speeding off towards Subang Jaya. Mother and daughter were returning to their home in Petal-
ing Jaya after Giselle was picked up from her nanny's house near USJ Taipan. Yap, who recalled her ordeal to Subang Jaya assemblyperson Hannah Yeoh on Tuesday, said she had sought the lawmaker's help to start the campaign and act as a spokesperson.
“Yeoh is influential and she knows how important this issue is,” she said. Yap intends to form a pressure group to compel Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) to put up signs warning women drivers and pedestrians about snatch thieves. She wants the local council to
install closed circuit television cameras (CCTVS) to monitor the area. She believes the stretch is a hotspot for snatch thefts and should be monitored by authorities. Meanwhile, Yeoh said Subang Jaya police chief ACP Yahaya Ramli would allocate more resources to monitor the area. She pointed out that heavy traffic near the Summit shopping mall during peak hours made it easy for snatch thieves, adding that they would usually target women who drive alone in expensive cars.
What a load of rubbish! This seems to be what S B Fernandez (left) and Ong Thin Hai are saying as they point to a rubbish dump behind their homes in Section 14, Petaling Jaya. STOry On Page 7.
February 17 — 19, 2012
Council blamed for not containing dengue outbreak
KLANG: The Klang Municipal Council has come under fire for "not containing" a dengue outbreak which led to the death of a 42-year-old mother of five on Feb 3. The family of Maria Rathnasamy (pic) claim the council did little as neighbours and other family members got infected weeks before the housewife succumbed to the virus. "We are not satisfied with MPK as they didn't take any action," said her husband, S Jeyabalan, at the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital (HTAR). He said MPK personnel were only seen fogging roadsides in their neighbourhood of Lebuh Berangan, Persiaran Raja Muda Musa, two days before she died. The deceased's brother, David, said Maria's 15-yearold son Jairus, cousins Paul, 15, and Elisha David 16 came down with dengue between Feb 26 and Feb 27. David said their neighbours were infected much earlier and the outbreak there was confirmed by a doctor at a nearby Port Klang clinic who treated the cousins. The doctor also told the family that MPK was aware because it was standard practice for dengue cases to be reported to the council as well as the Health Department. "The council could have prevented the death if they had acted faster to contain the outbreak." said Luke Raj, a member of the family. However MPK has denied the allegation. "We responded right after we got the dengue report and our of- Luke Raj ficers were on the scene two days after the complaint was lodged," said MPK communications and public complaints director Norfiza Mahfiz. She said after the cases are reported, MPK conducts site visits, followed by fogging the area a few times a week between 5.30pm-8pm. "We already did everything we could and even tried to respond immediately after we got the report," she said.
Jeyabalan (in red) and family members claiming his wife's body at the HTAR mortuary on Feb 3.
Friday Morning Saturday Sunday
Source: Malaysian meteorological department
Land available but where are the schools?
KL Chan C Gunasegaran
phone (603) 5510 4566 fax (603) 5523 1188 email firstname.lastname@example.org
CHIEF EDITOR COMMUNITY EDITOR
PRODUCTION EDITOR WRITERS
Tang Hui Koon, Chong Loo Wah, Gan Pei Ling, Basil Foo, Alvin Yap, Gho Chee Yuan, Brenda Ch’ng COPY EDITOR James Ang
Jimmy C. S. Lim, Chin Man Yen
Timothy Loh, Samantha Sim, Ivan Looi, Tony Kee, Faekah Husin, Arfa’eza Abdul Aziz
KAJANG: The Education Ministry is being accused of dragging its feet in solving the problem of insufficient Chinese schools in Selangor despite seven plots of land being allocated in Kajang. “Since 2008, there have been no announcements for new Chinese schools in Selangor,” said Kajang Municipal Council (MPKj) councillor Lee Kee Hiong. She was speaking during a press conference at the MPKj building on Monday. The last time there was any such announcement was on Jan 30, 2008 when Putrajaya announced that five new Chinese schools would be built in Selangor. However, SJK (C) Kota Emerald in Rawang, which was opened on Jan 3 this year, remains the only Chinese school to have be en complete d following the announcement. Plots of land for schools have been allocated in Sg
Long, Kajang Utama and Bukit Serdang. But Lee says the land has been left barren pending the green light from the Education Ministry. “Since Bandar Mahkota was established in 2005, there is land available for three primary, two Wawasan, one secondary, and one religious school,” she said. She said these seven plots of land were long abandoned and have since been overgrown with shrubs. Also at the press conference were councillors Eddie Ng and S T Chandramohan who said residents have urged MPKj not to delay the construction of Chinese schools. “But the problem is we don’t receive applications from the ministry for Chinese schools. There is nothing for us to process,” he said. He explained that up until Feb 13, MPKj’s one-stop centre had not received any applications from the ministry to build Chinese schools in the vicinity.
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SELANGOR TIMES ⁄ February 17 – 19, 2012 ⁄ 3
February 17 — 19, 2012
SGlad Tidings Assembly Klang is organising a school holiday camp for school children from March 15-17 at its premises at 210, Jalan Meru, 41050 Klang. At the camp, children will learn study skills, money management, relational skills and time management. Also, those present will enjoy a creative workshop by Rev Nicholas Choo who will teach them balloon sculpturing, illustrations and drama. Workshops will be from 8.30am-6pm (Thursday & Friday) and 8.30am-1pm (Saturday). Fee is RM100 per child and registration closes on Feb 26. Eight meals, a workbook, one T-shirt and craft tools will be provided. For more information visit www.gtklang.com or call 03-33415407.
Settlers get rightful ownership
By Brenda Ch’ng
Chinese Medicine Course
Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman will be offering a 30-hour short course for those interested in learning about traditional Chinese medicine. The course, titled “The Basic Theory of Traditional Chinese Medicine”, will be conducted in English every Tuesday, starting Feb 21 from 7.30pm-9.30pm. Classes will be held at the Centre for Extension Education, PJ campus. Registration is now open. Those interested, call 03-79572818, 03-79582628 ext. 8663 (Swee Leng/Eileen) or email email@example.com.
A two-man exhibition featuring art by Tommy Chen and Gary Lim, titled “The Symphony of Joy”, will be on until Feb 19 at Seni Gallery @ Seni Mont Kiara. The pictures will showcase Chen’s talent in koi fish painting for more than 20 years and Lim’s contemporary work on canvas, including his Drip and Wrestling series. For more details, call 012-2188851 (Lim) or 012-2277267 (Chen).
MPSJ CNY Open House
The Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) will be organising its first Chinese New Year open house this Saturday from 7pm-10pm at the council’s multi-purpose hall at SS15 SUbang Jaya. Among highlights of the evening are Chinese performances like wushu, acrobatics, drums and mask-changing. Dinner will also be served. Everyone is welcome to join the celebration.
SHAH ALAM: Hundreds of Kampung Perepat settlers who have been denied titles to plots they have toiled for over three decades will soon be able to claim ownership of the land. “More than 300 lots have been identified and their ownership is confirmed. Only about 40 lots are left unidentified,” said Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim on Wednesday. The settlers, who move d to Kapar under the Federal Government’s Green Revolution programme in 1981, were promised titles for cultivating the land. But in 1996, they were informed by the Klang Land Office that the land had been allocated to others. “We managed to solve this issue thanks to a special task force set up by the state after studying the problem which involved over 400 plots of land at the village,” said Khalid. Khalid said the ownership of some 40 plots had yet to be resolved because of problems of dual and uncertain ownership and plots which have been leased to others. The task force has suggested that the outstanding issue of ownership be determined through negotiations with the Land Office. As a last resort, the matter may be resolved through arbitration by land affair specialists. “It’s important to ensure land titles are given to the right owner to avoid the land being given to those who are less deserving,” said Khalid.
Khalid (speaking) with (from left) state executive councillors Dr Xavier Jayakumar, Ronnie Liu and Dr Halimah Ali.
State to seize land if not used properly
SHAH ALAM: Land not used according to its status will be forfeited, said the Menteri Besar following the seizure of a land in Gombak which was used for illegal quarrying. The 234ha land belonging to Kumpulan Hartanah Selangor Bhd (KHSB) was seized last August. “Those who do not abide by the rules will have their land forfeited and the land will be used for the benefit of the people,” said Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim after a state executive meeting on Wednesday. The land, estimated to be worth RM250 million, was held by SAP Holdings Bhd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of KHSB. While SAP Holdings shareholders claim to be unaware of the seizure and have complained to Bursa Malaysia, Kha-
lid says the state has followed the proper procedure, a process which took about three months. Khalid said aggrieved parties can seek legal recourse in court. “The state has and will continue to come down hard on the perpetrators. If the land is for agricultural purposes, then it must be used for agriculture. “If you want to use it for mixed development, then you must apply to change the status (of the land),” said Khalid He added that there would be no double standards over the proper use of land and action will even be taken against errant state government-linked companies. “If my subsidiary company is stupid, then I must take action. I can’t let them off and act against others,” said Khalid.
Building of school in Kajang to resume
SHAH ALAM: A stop-work order for the construction of SMK Sungai Ramal in Kajang on a piece of state-owned land was lifted on Wednesday. “The council lifted the order, following the state’s decision to allow the federal government to use the land for a school,” said executive councillor for education Dr Halimah Ali. This was announced after the state executive council weekly meeting on Wednesday. In October last year, the Kajang Municipal Council (MPKj) issued the order to contractors after learning that the state didn’t approve for a school to be built there. According to her, the federal government failed to acquire the land from the state before building the school. Following the stop-work order, MPKj also requested for the contractors to apply for a planning permit once the land was approved by the state. “I hope construction of the school will resume as soon as possible,” she said.
Anti-1Care campaign in Klang
By Gan Pei Ling
February 17 — 19, 2012
KLANG: A month-long awareness campaign to alert the public on Putrajaya’s controversial new healthcare insurance scheme, 1Care for 1Malaysia, is being organised by Klang member of Parliament Charles Santiago. Santiago said many members of the public are still in the dark about the implications of 1Care. “The (federal) government argues that 1Care will make healthcare more affordable and (its delivery) more efficient to the public. “But they’re actually privatising our healthcare services through this social health insurance scheme, it’ll only further burden the rakyat, especially the poor,” said Santiago on Tuesday. He noted that while Malaysia’s current public healthcare system is congested, it is accessible and affordable for the poor. Under 1Care, Malaysians are said to be required to contribute close to 10 per cent of their income to the insurance scheme but access to doc-
tors and medicines would be restricted. However, Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai had slammed 1Care opponents on Tuesday, claiming that the critics were “manipulating” inaccurate details on the insurance scheme to mislead the public. Liow said everything was still in the planning stages and the people’s feedback would be sought on the matter. But Santiago highlighted that the Health Ministry director-general Datuk Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman had revealed earlier that the ministry had set up 11 technical groups to work out the details of the scheme. Klang municipal councillor Ivan Ho also urged Putrajaya to be more transparent and conduct public consultations before implementing the controversial scheme. Santiago said his office would distribute flyers in four languages (English, Malay, Mandarin and Tamil) around Klang to inform the public about 1Care. “We’ll also organise a signature
Santiago (third from left) and Ho (third from right) with volunteers who will soon be carrying out the public awareness campaign.
campaign against 1Care, and hold a public forum soon.” Doctors and concerned citizens from Citizens’ Healthcare Coalition, made up of 17 non-government organisations, were the first to oppose 1Care, launching the Tak Nak 1Care campaign online at social networks
Facebook and Twitter as well as uploading videos on Youtube. The Academy of Medicine of Malaysia had also questioned the need to integrate public and private healthcare services. The academy queried Putrajaya’s rationale to use public funds to fi-
nance private hospitals and clinics. It further pointed out that the federal government was spending less than three per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) on healthcare, which is way below the World Health Orgnisation’s recommendation of 7.6 per cent.
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Restoring firefly habitat
By Brenda Ch’ng
february 17 — 19, 2012
KUALA SELANGOR: Six hundred tree saplings, planted in a bid to restore the habitat of fireflies, earned Selangor and AEON Co (M) Bhd a spot in the Malaysian Book of Records. “I’m so thankful to the state for acquiring this plot of land once they heard of our three-year planting programme to save the fireflies,” said AEON managing director Nur Qamarina Chew. Their objective is to conserve one of Malaysia’s most attractive tourist destinations as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). In 2010, the state acquired the agricultural land, formally owned by villagers, for about RM60,000 per acre. In total, RM7.5 million was paid for the land and to bulldoze existing plantations to plant new trees along the riverbank of Kampung Bukit Belimbing. Among thge trees planted were sago, macaranga, malabera, ficus and nipah, all of which are suitable for firefly larvae nesting. “Today is only the first of three phases, and we hope this project will succeed in ensuring fireflies will not become extinct,” said Nur. Some 400 volunteers, which included AEON staff, villagers, local government personnel and university students, came together to plant the trees which should take three to four years to mature. Joining them at the site was Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim, who launched the project and subsequently planted a tree sapling tagged with his name. “Tagging the tree is a good idea, because those who planted them today will be adopting the tree and returning to make sure their plant is growing well,” he said. Khalid pointed out that this will also ensure the firefly habitat is always monitored and maintained by the public in years to come.
Volunteers getting their hands dirty to help save the firefly habitat.
“This project is very beneficial as it also teaches the locals to maximise land usage for new improvements and developments in the village,” he said. For the future, Khalid plans to develop the area by improving the connectivity of the village and expanding the firefly tourist industry. Among ideas he mooted were building a light rail transit (LRT) and mass rapid transit (MRT) traveling from the village into Kuala Lumpur. “This will benefit both tourists and locals alike because they can travel via public transport to see the fireflies.” Meanwhile, he also urged the people to maintain the breed-
ing ground well and open it up to tourists who wanted to see fireflies in their natural habitat. “The young can also see the larvae and learn how fireflies are produced, apart from enjoying the 20-minute boat ride to see them at the riverbank,” said Khalid. All these improvements can help boost the economy there and bring in more business to local traders and the hotel industry in Kuala Selangor. Also present at the tree planting was AEON chairman Datuk Abdullah Mohd Yusof, Bukit Melawati assemblyperson M Muthiah and deputy state secretary for development Datuk Noordin Sulaiman.
LRT extension on track
PETALING JAYA: With 90 percent of contracts awarded and almost all public complaints resolved, Syarikat Prasarana Negara Bhd (Prasarana) is confident the extension to the Light Rail Transit (LRT) will be completed on schedule. The LRT Line Extension Project involves expanding both the Ampang and Kelana Jaya lines to Putra Heights in Subang Jaya. Prasarana group director of project development Zulkifli Mohamed Yusoff said the Ampang line extension is expected to be up and running by Oct 2014 while the Kelana Jaya line is scheduled to start running two months later. Several residents’ groups have protested against the railway alignment, but Prasarana has agreed to take steps to address their concerns after consulting the groups, local councils and state government. “Residents at areas like the Saujana Residence near the Empire Gallery (in Subang Jaya) and Taman Alam Megah (Shah Alam) had opposed the alignment as they were worBy Chong Loo Wah
ried that the rail line would be too close to their homes. “After several discussions, we suggested to build a sound barrier tunnel to cover the railway (to minimise the noise and dust pollution),” said Zulkifli. In addition, the company will assist land owners who are forced to make way for public transport projects such as SJK (T) Castlefield in Taman Perindustrian Puchong to relocate. “The school already wanted to move since the LDP (Lebuhraya Damansara Puchong) was built due to traffic [congestion]. We’ll help them to look for suitable sites to relocate,” said Zulkifli at a media briefing at Sunway Pyramid on Sunday. Under the project, the Ampang line will be extended for 17.7km from the existing Sri Petaling station, winding its way through Bandar Kinrara, Puchong to end at Putra Heights, with 11 new stations. The Kelana Jaya line will be extended for 17km from the current Kelana Jaya station, passing through Subang Jaya and USJ to reach Putra Heights. It will have 12 new stations. The Ampang Line extension will be serviced by 20 new
coaches while the Kelana Jaya line will employ its existing trains. Zulkifli said it would only take an hour for Putra Heights residents to reach Kuala Lumpur once the extension is completed. He added that Prasarana would provide feeder bus services to the new stations but taking into account commuters’ tendency to drive to the station, car parks would be built at selected stations. Zulkifli said the contracts awarded so far are worth RM6.5 billion. The remaining 10 percent are still being tendered. To date contractors have completed up to 20 percent of the construction works. He also disclosed that Prasarana is currently choosing its project partner to develop the Dangi Wangi LRT station in Kuala Lumpur into a property hub. Also present at the briefing were Ampang line extension project head Mohd Lokman Hamid, Kelana Jaya line extension project chief Faudzilah Razari and Prasarana group communication head Masnizam Hisham.
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International tourism zone for PJ
By Gan Pei Ling
February 17 — 19, 2012
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tential can be increased with an integrated public transport system and better urban design and facilities. The draft plan includes several proposals to redevelop 11 major areas, especially new townships, in the city to make it more liveable and pedestrian-friendly The city council has also suggested having water taxis, including boats and hovercrafts, to ferry passengers along five rivers in Petaling Jaya to reduce traffic snarls and pollution. The public can view the plan at MBPJ’s headquarters until Feb 28 and residents have until Feb 29 to object to any proposal. A public hearing will be held once the city council’s Planning Department has compiled the public’s responses. The people’s feedback will be presented to the state planning committee before the Special Area Draft Plan is gazetted. Residents can get the plan at MBPJ’s Planning Department, 2nd Floor, Jalan Yong Shook Lin or call 03-7956 3544 ext 353/411 (Faiwos Abdul Hamid or Nurli Darni Musleh).
SHAH ALAM: The Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) is planning to develop its three thriving townships – Bandar Utama, Mutiara Damansara and Damansara Perdana – into an international tourism hub. “This cluster of townships already exhibit the image and character of a tourist city, complete with commercial centre infrastructure, shopping complexes, recreation spots and international hotels to attract tourists,” MBPJ noted in its Special Area Draft Plan 2020. Popular landmarks already in the 33.8-hectare vicinity include 1Utama Shopping Centre, One World Hotel, The Curve, Royale Bintang Hotel and PJ Trade Centre, among others. The city council proposes to develop Bandar Utama, one of the most trendy commercial hubs in Petaling Jaya, into an Entertainment City with indoor and outdoor recreational facilities. In line with that, MBPJ plans to upgrade the 4.2-hectare Central Park Avenue and construct sheltered pedestrian walkways connecting Dataran Bandar Utama to bus
stations. MBPJ also intends to turn Mutiara Damansara into a City of Colours and Damansara Perdana into a City of Shape through unique street features, building facades and soft landscaping. The entrance to Mutiara Dam-
ansara Recreational Park will be repaired and upgraded. In addition, MBPJ will connect the three townships via community bus services and sidewalks. A pedestrian bridge will be built from Ikano Power Centre in Mutiara Damansara across Persiaran
Surian to Bandar Utama. The city council also plans to upgrade the pedestrian walkways from Mutiara Damansara to Damansara Perdana and Pelangi Damansara. The Special Area Draft Plan 2020 says the area’s tourism po-
Seniors fume over absent buses, rubbish
By Basil Foo
PETALING JAYA: A group of senior citizens are upset over the lack of buses in Section 14 and presence of an illegal rubbish dump behind their homes. “Although there is a bus stop nearby, there are no buses stopping there. Paying for a taxi is also expensive for a pensioner like me,” said S B Fernandez. The 84-year-old, who lives at 140, Jalan 14/15, said most of his neighbours are also senior citizens who find it difficult to travel further than their housing area. Even walking out from their homes to the bus stop along Jalan Semangat is a lengthy process for them. “A shuttle bus service is being offered in Puchong by IOI. Why can’t the state get a company to do the same here?” he asked. His neighbour, Ong Thin Hai, said it had been hard getting around since buses stopped coming several years ago.
Lack of buses isn’t their only problem. Ong said an illegal dumpsite, which stretched about 50m behind their houses, was the source of many health issues recently with mosquitoes increasing in number. “Construction debris dumped here by unscrupulous contractors collect water when it rains. We are afraid of aedes mosquitoes breeding here,” said the 76-year-old. His wife, Hee Kon Thai, 67, has also spotted other rodents and pests in the bushes that have since grown wildly over parts of the dumpsite. She has even seen a metre-long snake behind her house. “Mosquitoes, snakes, rats. They’ve all invaded my house before,” said 76-year-old A Poomany. She suggested that the dump behind their houses be cleaned up and converted into a common walking area for the residents. When contacted, Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) councillor R Selvarajan said he would look into the residents’ concerns as soon as possible.
February 17 — 19, 2011
By Brenda Ch’ng
SUBANG JAYA: An underground leaking pipe which has been left unrepaired since January is causing concern among residents in PJS9. “It’s really bad as the soggy ground might damage the surroundings and cause the ground to collapse,” said PJS9/26 resident Lim Ka Tin. The main water pipe, which runs under the Damansara Puchong Highway (LDP) and the PJS9/20 field, started leaking before Chinese New Year. “Right above the pipe is a sound barrier wall. I think it will collapse if the problem is not attended to,” said Lim. Lim, who lives three streets away from the leakage, is also unhappy that the water is being wasted and going down the monsoon drain instead of houses. He and his neighbours are also facing low water pressure since the leakage started. “Pressure is very low, especially during peak hours in the mornings and evenings. It’s inconveniencing us,” said PJS9/28 resident Patrick Tan. Tan explained that his water pressure equipment which normally measures five bars now only measures 3.5 bars. “I bet the measurements are even lower after work because when I use it at night, the outflow of water isn’t as powerful as it used to be,” said Tan. He hopes the water utility company will repair the leakage soon to prevent water shortages in the future.
Residents worried over underground water leak
March 7 due date for Ceria payment
SHAH ALAM: Joint Management Bodies ( JMB) of lowcost flats which have been shortlisted to get subsidies for facelifts under the state scheme will have until March 7 to settle their payments. The Caring Government for Residents’ Aid (Ceria) scheme, which offers low-cost flats a paint makeover, requires residents to pay 20 per cent of the cost for repainting, while the state government foots the rest of the bill. State executive councillor Iskandar Samad said JMBs need to pay five per cent of the cost before painting works start and the other 15 per cent soon after in stages. Iskandar, whose portfolio includes housing, said todate 26 flats under the second phase of the scheme have made the necessary payments while 27 others have yet to do so. “If they face difficulties in paying the five per cent, they may seek assistance from the Selangor Housing and Property Board.” JMBs which fail to meet the deadline will have to wait until the third phase of the scheme to get facelifts for their buildings. The state is targeting to repaint 100 flats under Ceria. Under the first phase, 18 flats were offered the makeover and 10 flats have been completed so far.
Water leaking from the underground pipe.
“Syabas (Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor) has already been contacted a few times and even came to take a look at the situation. However, they are really slow in responding,” said PJS9 Rukun Tetangga vice-president Mohd Noor Ahmad. His first complaint to Syabas was over the telephone on Jan 27. “They called me back a few days later to say a representative would look
into the matter,” he said. After inspections, Syabas notified Mohd Noor that the leakage originated from a huge underground pipe. To repair it, the main pipe will have to be turned off and areas like PJS7, PJS8, PJS9 and Sunway Hotel will be without water, hence Syabas’ reluctance to carry out repairs. Syabas could not be reached for comment at press time.
I will not allow Malaysia to be seen as a safe country for terrorists and those who are wanted by their countries of origin, and also be seen as a transit country.” – Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein on the government’s decision to deport 23-yearold Saudi Arabian newspaper columnist, Hamza Kashgari, on Sunday. Hamza is wanted in his homeland over his Twitter postings on Prophet Muhammad. If the government of Malaysia deports him to Saudi Arabia, disrespecting the court order, this is clearly contempt of court, unlawful and unacceptable.” – Mohammad Noor, Hamza Kashgari’s lawyer. Noor told Reuters that he obtained a court order to prevent the deportation, but was not allowed to see his client. Paying back or not is another matter, but a crime is a crime... Any acts of criminal breach of trust must be acted upon and be taken to court.” – PAS vice-president Mahfuz Omar. He was responding to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz’s suggestion that the National Feedlot Corporation repays the soft loan to the government. This is the PAS stand as we cannot encourage freedom of interaction between (unmarried) males and females, as it is against the religion. It is our responsibility to uphold it. However, if it is permitted in other races or religions, then go ahead. What we are interested in is safeguarding Muslims.” – PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang as quoted in Sinar Harian on Monday. His party disagrees with Muslims celebrating Valentine’s Day. We cannot order the ink early because after three months, the ink will no longer be indelible… It will take only two weeks to receive the ink.” – Election Commission (EC) chairperson Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Yusof announcing the use of indelible ink for voting in the 13th general election during a live interview on RTM1 on Feb 15. He advised voters not to allow their fingers to be inked before arriving at voting centres.
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February 17 — 19, 2012
Residents fight for view
By Alvin Yap
SUBANG JAYA: Owners of an exclusive hilltop community are demanding that their developer honour promises that their view will not be obstructed by an upcoming project. According to the Puteri 11 Residents’ Association (RA) committee members, the view of Puchong was a selling point of their homes, but a five-storey townhouse project currently being built on the lower slopes would jeopardise this. “We committed ourselves to buying the houses eight years ago on the strength of the view it gives
but we’re worried the project will now block it,” said RA chairperson Alice Choo at a meeting between residents, Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) and the property developer. Residents of Puteri 11– consisting of 471 terrace houses and the 615-unit Puteri Bayu apartments – want the developer of the project to resubmit plans to MPSJ. The property developer should redraft its plans to ensure that the 120-unit five-storey duplex townhouses would not obstruct the surrounding view. She criticised MPSJ for approving the project without getting and c o n s i d e r i n g Tr a f f i c Im p a c t
Choo and Puteri Bayu RA chairperson Victor Chan.
and Slope Stability studies. “If you had the studies, you would not have approved the project,” said Choo, adding that the project would create more congestion along Jalan Puteri 1/11. IOI Properties senior project
Ean Yong conducting the checks on Tuesday.
manager Esmond Khor said they had revised the project from an initial 422-unit condominium to the current townhouse plan. Khor said the company had engaged independent engineering consultants Kumpulan IKRAM to conduct Environmental Impact Assessment studies as well as traffic studies. However, Khor said the studies were not compiled in time to be presented to the RAs during yesterday’s meeting. As such, MPSJ councillor Tan Jo Hann – in charge of Pusat Bandar Puchong and Bandar Puteri
Puchong – set a meeting for the developer to brief the residents in a month’s time. Puchong member of Parliament Gobind Singh Deo, who is acting as legal representative for the residents, said it was a case of misrepresentation by the developer. “Residents have valid grouses. They bought the property on the promise that they would get the view they were promised in the brochure,” he told Khor and his team. He said while there could be grounds for legal action, it was up to the residents to think about initiating such a move.
Illegitimate claims for titles detected
By Gho Chee Yuan
PETALING JAYA: Operators of a recycling centre and three factories at the Kampung Cempaka New Village were found to be among applicants for residential titles during an audit last Tuesday. State executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah, who conducted the inspection to weed out illegitimate and conflicting claims, said the errant applicants were rejected. Ean Yong, whose portfolio includes new villages, checked the applications for five plots of land, from a total of 55 plots, to determine if they adhered to regulations. “Some applications we received were from multiple applicants for one piece of land,” he said. Only one of the five plots checked was found to have followed guidelines which included having a residential house on the land. Ean Yong said Kampung Cempaka lies in a strategic location, next to Kelana Jaya and the Sunway Mas business centre, and there
was demand for the land. He said there were politicians, government servants and businessmen applying for land titles together with the residents. The state executive council will have the final say in approving any applications for land titles to ensure only legitimate owners get them. He added that similar cases of multiple applicantions for a single plot of land have also happened before in Kg Baru Ampang. “After this audit, those who fulfil all requirements will receive the 5A form which they can then fill up and bring to the Land Office,” he told residents. Residents were reminded that even with a title, they need to apply with the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) if they want to renovate their houses in the future. With him during the visit was Petaling Jaya Utara (PJU) member of Parliament Tony Pua, MBPJ councillor Tiew Way Keng, and an officer from the Petaling Land Office.
Neighbourhood watch celebrates success
By Alvin Yap
february 17 — 19, 2012
Subang Jaya: For the past two years, members of the Subang Jaya Vo luntar y Patro l Un i t (VPU) have come together to secure their neighborhoods. Last Saturday, they met to commemorate their sacrifice and hard work. “Through our voluntary participation, we have seen crime reduced in our areas,” said VPU co-founder Mak Meng Chin at a tea party to mark the group’s second anniversar y at the USJ 2 community hall. He said VPU has created awareness among residents of the importance of working with the police to combat crime. Mak said VPU conducts joint patrols with the police and encourages residents to volunteer their time for the sake of the community. He thanked Subang Jaya councillor Rajiv Rishyakaran for helping to establish VPU in 2009. “Rajiv, thank you for your finan-
cial support, for the sponsorship of our patrol car, and the petrol and maintenance,” he told the Zone 3 councillor. Rajiv said since the patrols started in 2010, VPU has managed to attract supporters and more importantly, volunteers. “Now VPU has proven that it works and is in its second year. I will continue to support it,” he said He also expressed hope the state would sponsor another patrol car to enable more patrols to be carried out in Subang Jaya and USJ. Subang police chief Yahaya Ramli and Subang Jaya assemblyperson Hannah Yeoh also attended the event. Yeoh, who pledged RM10,000 to the group, said the public should not just complain about the crime rate but take initiatives to tackle the problem. Kelana Jaya member of Parliament Loh Gwo Burne added that security should be the responsibility of everyone, not just the police.
Commitee members of the VPU with Yeoh (eighth from right) and ACP Yahaya (eighth from left) at the group’s anniversary tea party.
State GLC implements Whistleblower policy
SHaH aLaM: A whistleblowing policy has been implemented at Kumpulan Perangsang Selangor Bhd to deter employees from taking part in unethical and illegal practices at work. “It’s imperative for such a policy to be put in place to encourage employees, suppliers and related parties to reveal any knowledge of graft, negligence, irregularities or abuse of power to an independent committee in an unbiased manner,” said Perangsang Selangor’s managing director Suhaimi Kamaralzaman. With the implementation of the Whistleblower Protection Act 2010, Capital Market and Services Act (CMSA 2007) and Securities Industries Act (SIA 1983), whistleblowers no longer have to fear as their identities will be protected under the law. “A whistleblowing committee has also been established and the group’s internal auditor has been mandated to implement the policy. “It empowers everyone in the organisation to reveal wrongdoings or fraudulent activities,” he said. This policy will also enable them to manage their business more transparently, efficiently and effectively.
Top destination for international students
PETaLIng Jaya: New Zealand remains a safe destination for international students who intend to go for tertiary studies there. New Zealand was recently named the friendliest country on earth, and is a great place for students who may be leaving home for the first time. “New Zealand is made up a lot of immigrants (but) everybody here is a Kiwi and everybody is welcome,” said Vijay Doraisamy whose daughter Nalini studies business in Lincoln University. He chose New Zealand as it has a conducive environment for education and minimal distractions for students. Students, school-leavers and their parents are Lincoln University is one of the popular choices for invited to explore their educational options at Malaysian students. the New Zealand Education Fair on Feb 26. To be held at the Grand Dorsett Hotel from records. 12.30pm to ‘5.30pm, the fair is for those seeking inforA wealth of information can be gained from New mation on New Zealand’s secondary school, tertiary, Zealand education providers from various educational and postgraduate programmes. institutions who will be at the fair. School leavers, SPM or STPM students, parents, They hail from 15 institutions including Massey teachers, student counsellors and working adults seek- University, Otago Polytechnic, Pacific International ing education opportunities are all encouraged to at- Hotel Management School, and Waikato Institute of tend. Technology. Students intending to apply to study in New Zealand Apart from visiting the fair, those interested may should bring along their original and a photocopy of check on courses and degrees that are offered by visiting their forecast results, academic transcripts, or school www.newzealandeducated.com.
Of sacred cows and secret condos
t’s been a while since my last article appeared in Selangor Times - things have Fahmi Fadzil been moving a tad bit faster than usual; even now I’m writing in between completing other tasks, but no matter. The point is, things in Malaysia are becoming more and more interesting with each passing week. It just seems like in the last four years since the “political tsunami” of 2008, we’ve yet to have a dull moment! 2012 began with quite a bluster - the early morning roughing up of undergraduate Safwan Anang and others who were demonstrating outside Universiti Perguruan Sultan Idris (UPSI) against the sentence that was to be meted out against one recalcitrant student, Adam Adli. Twitter Jaya was up in arms upon finding out that the young lad had been so severely mistreated, although news that he had been beaten to a pulp was consequently found to have been a little exaggerated. Nonetheless, once again it is proven that social media is one of the best channels for information distribution - of course it says little about the integrit y/credibilit y of that information, which is something we’ll have to work harder on to ensure/verify in the future. And then came the Jan 9 verdict on the trial of Anwar Ibrahim. The thousands who gathered outside the KL court complex were dumbfounded when the acquittal decision was read out - and all the phone lines were clogged, it was practically
february 17 — 19, 2012
impossible to send out an SMS. More troubling on that morning, of course, were the three explosives that went off at 10am. Todate, we have yet to get a clear picture from the police on who could have been behind such mischief. Since then, Malaysians have been treated to an increasing number of news stories that befuddle, bewilder, and bewitch. Top of the pops, of course, is the National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) debacle. I won’t elaborate, as I’m certain all of us are well aware of the details; but what I would like to elaborate on is the amount of distrust the rakyat has towards the powers that be has grown exponentially, and particularly among those living outside urban centres. Some put it down to the fact that cows are easier to “see” compared to the RM12 billion scandal that is PKFZ (heck, I think most of us have trouble following the details of that case), or RM7 billion armored personnel carriers, or whatever else have you. I think that there’s truth to that; but more so, I think this is the straw that broke the rakyat’s back. The details that have been forthcoming (not from the accused, as you can imagine) have been ghastly - covert purchases of condos, tracts of land, a luxury vehicles and more - and perhaps are merely the tip of the corrupted iceberg into which the proverbial ship of this nation has smashed into.
And we’ve not even gotten into the protracted issues of 1Care, Skim Amanah Rakyat (SARA) 1Malaysia, or even the “special loan scheme” that EPF is supposed to extend to lowcost house buyers in KL. My assessment is that with the prying open of the cowgate, expect a less than sympathetic rakyat when it comes to details on how public monies are being spent. And unfortunately, public monies are being spent almost like there’s no tomorrow; the ratio of our government debt to GDP, according to IMF figures, stands at over 56% - higher than other Asian country - and this is reaching nearly unsustainable levels. In the final analysis, what matters most is that the future of the rakyat and of this country is not left to hands that have a penchant for cash, cows and condos. But only the results of the upcoming (read: anytime between now and the first quarter of 2013) general election will tell if we’ve all learned to make the best decision we can.
ou mig ht think, as we get closer to the promised Lee Hwok Aun re f orms to th e Un i ver s i t y an d University Colleges Act (UUCA), that public authorities and education institutions would want to show some change of heart and mind. Think again. On New Year’s Day, instead of peacefully overseeing a student sit-in at Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) until the crack of dawn, the police chose to crack it down. The students gathered at the university gates to cry academic freedom. The gatekeepers are mad. We are now caught up in the mayhem of that moment and mutual accusation between students and police. Who provoked? Who pushed first? Was there excessive force? These questions, we can only hope, will be settled without fear or favour. What we cannot let pass is the dismal failure in the first place to reform authorities’ mindsets. If we are interested in true, 21st century reform, the foremost role of the police and education institutions in these situations is to preserve the students’ rights to freedom of assembly and freedom of expression. The police have no business dictating how long students should gather at their own campus, or what time young people should go to bed on New Year’s eve. If students want to camp out till the break of day, deploy fewer personnel in shifts. Apply wisdom before using discretionary power. You can get through the night. It’s not that hard. But the police flashed the same old thunder: “You got fifteen minutes. Make your point and disperse. Or we will charge.” So what is this talk of tertiary education reform? We can alter the law, but as long as mentalities do not change, desires to control will continue to find ways to suppress yearnings for freedom. UPSI has just suspended student leader Adam Adli for
What educational reform? wit pleasure Y
three semesters. Adam was at the New Year’s Day convocation. On Dec 17, he and a group of students lowered a flag with Prime Minister’s face outside UMNO headquarters in PWTC and replaced it with a banner calling for academic freedom. After a minute or so, they returned the premier’s flag to its original place. For that, this young man is prohibited for 18 months from pursuing a degree in Teaching of English as a Second Language. We should be proud of passionate, articulate, intrepid, and yes, even brazen young people like Adam. Their activism bodes well for well-rounded education of future generations. So what is this talk of tertiary education reform? Deputy Minister of Higher Education Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah has consistently and sincerely advocated greater academic freedom. Kudos to him; he clearly wants to get on with the 21st century. Sadly, I cannot see any broad change of mindset leading up to the UUCA amendments. The Ministry set up a committee to seek public opinions and make recommendations. They conducted a survey, filled with loaded, aggressive, and jaw-droppingly stupid questions. Consider this multiple choice question: students that are
too active in external politics must be subject to disciplinary action including ‘expulsion’ if they do not comply with UUCA amendments. (a) Agree, (b) Disagree or (c) Not sure? First, calm down, isn’t this supposed to be an objective survey? Second, how can one answer without knowing what are these amendments? Or this: students found to be active in politics but not so brilliant in their studies can be punished by the university authorities. (a) Agree, (b) Disagree or (c) Not sure? Why this presumption that political activism must be at odds with academic performance? Some students are active politically and do well academically (in terms of grades), some are active and do not score highly, and some are not active and do not necessarily shine, and so on. Students get top grades for a variety of reasons. We ought to regard them as mature young adults who are free to make their own decisions (and mistakes) take responsibility over the consequences. If a student is active in politics and does not ace the exam, that’s his choice. Maybe he will not get a job he applies for, maybe she will be appreciated for having ideals and enthusiasm. Who knows? The only certainty should be that authorities have no basis or right to meddle in how students choose to invest their energy. I must emphasize that it’s not just about student membership and involvement with political parties, which affects a minority. The obsession over controlling students is more regressive to education because it is more pervasive. The 2009 UUCA amendments did specify some spaces in which students can be free to think and express their views without getting the Vice Chancellor’s permission. But again, some idiotic clauses were added. For example, students cannot be prohibited from making a statement on an academic issue as long as it is within their field of study or research. Thus, a sociology student cannot comment on climate change, an engineering student cannot express an opinion on democracy. Please la, stop being control freaks. And grow up.
12 february 17 — 19, 2012
MALAYSIAN HEALTHCARE IN JEOPARDY
Among the major contentions are mandatory contributions of up to 10 per cent earnings from companies or individuals to the governmentrun insurance fund. “That’s a sizeable amount of our salary and yet the coverage, treatment and medicine would be basic,” he said. Dr Ng told the 800-strong crowd that Putrajaya could easily improve the current system by allocating more funds from government coffers instead of burdening the public. Currently, only 4.7 per cent of Gross D o m e s t i c Pr o d provide adequate healthcare coverage for Malaysians. “It is too low and the result is long queues at public clinics and hospitals. There isn’t enough equipment and the range of medicine is limited,” he said. Ideally, nine per cent of total GDP should be allocated to ensure that all Malaysians had access to treatment and medicine. “Thailand and Singapore both spend considerably more on healthcare than Malaysia,” he said. Dr Ng said the eroding standards in public healthcare services could be used by 1Care proponents to support their case for the passage of the controversial system. But the proposed 1Care system would, ironically, make healthcare more expensive in the long-run while eroding its quality. (See “Impact of 1Care healthcare story”) Fellow physician Dr T Jayabalan from the Citizens’ Healthcare Coalition (CHC), which is spearheading opposition against 1Care, said the government was attempting to outsource healthcare services. “The government doesn’t feel like they want to provide public healthcare to Malaysians,” he said sarcastically. He pointed out that the government was moving from providing near free of charge healthcare to making Malaysians pay double for effective treatment and drugs. Based on the Health Ministry’s concept papers on the scheme, 1Care’s medical coverage would be limited and adequate only for short-term care. Additional treatment or drugs would entail extra payment from patients’ pocket.
By Alvin Yap
octors opposed to the controversial 1Care are arguing the scheme will not be better than the current system which provides universal coverage for poor and rich. “Why fix something that isn’t broken?” asked Federation of Private Medical Practitioners’ Association of Malaysia deputy president Dr Ng Swee Choon at a public forum on the proposed healthcare system last Sunday. Putrajaya is mooting 1Care as a means to integrate both private and government hospitals so more equitable healthcare can be provided for Malaysians but this is being disputed by the association. Dr Ng points out that Malaysia already has excellent healthcare coverage as 90 per cent of the population stays within a five-km distance of a government-run clinic or hospital. The 55-year-old consultant cardiologist said the World Health Organisation (WHO), in 2007, acknowledged in its annual report that the country has an effec- Ng says the current healthcare system is functioning adequately but more tive government-run healthcare system. Similarly, the Health Ministry in 2009 also audited allocations could be provided to give the condition of public healthcare services in Malaysia more timely and better treatment to all Malaysians. and rated the coverage as “excellent”. Dr Ng said there was no need to replace the current two-tier healthcare system with the proposed scheme which uct (GDP) is allocated for healthcare. has raised public furore. This amounts to some RM25 billion from 2009-2011 to
More red tape over tre
THE most vocal opponents of 1Care are doctors who are concerned that the initiative will prevent them from giving quality care to patients. According to Citizens’ Healthcare Coalition (CHC) spokesperson Dr T Jayabalan, healthcare practitioners will be forced to switch their allegiance from patients towards the 1Care insurance managers. “Doctors’ allegiance will be to the system and not to patients,” he said. Physicians will be known as Primary Heath Care Provider (PHCP) and act as independent contractors. Care, treatment and medicine they provide will be limited as profit margins will be set by 1Care managers. The 10 per cent monthly contribution from Malaysians will be utilised by 1Care managers to buy healthcare services from doctors. “Each doctor is allocated a sum of money to take care of patients by quota,” he said. Doctors will also be given a list of procedures which spells out the treatment and drugs they can prescribe to patients. “They will also be given a set list of referral special-
ists they can send their patients to f low-up treatment,” he said. Essentially, he pointed out that penalised for not following the rule creators. He added that doctors could lose claims if they decide to provide add which could avert potentially harm later on. “If you go to a doctor complainin and you need a scan to determine th thing worse, like appendicitis, the d twice about it as he would be penal that service,” he said. He lamented that healthcare ma calling the shots in the care of patie Under the system, all current gen will have to receive new accreditati laysian Society for Quality Health would be administered by the Nation ing Authority (NHFA). “It’s double licensing,” he told rep lines of a 1Care forum in Petaling J He also claimed that each gen
Vigorous campaign on all fronts against scheme
The crowd listening to the speakers as they presented their views on the 1Care programme.
Jayabalan says the government is looking to wash its hands in providing public healthcare with the passage of the 1Care system.
“These extra payments, or called Out Of Pocket Payments (OPPS), are unjustified as insurance schemes such as 1Care must provide adequate coverage,” he explained. He pointed out that Putrajaya was on the verge of creating the National Healthcare Financing Authority (NHFA) to manage a government-run insurance fund called the Social Health Insurance (SHI), which would be similar to the Employees Provident
Fund. The NHFA, he said, would be administered by a government-linked company. He said the public and especially medical practitioners had the right to suggest alternatives to the 1Care health scheme. Dr Jayabalan said Putrajaya must engage stakeholders in the country and should not rely on foreign experts to plan the 1Care programme. • turn to PAGE 14
ASSURANCES that the scheme is a proposal in its infancy has not stopped a concerted Tak Nak 1Care campaign which is being played out in cyberspace and public forums. Social media tools such as Youtube, Twitter and Facebook and roadshows are being used by opponents of the plan who include medical practitioners, consumer associations and workers’ unions. “There’s no time to waste. We have to organise and campaign to make sure 1Care doesn’t come into force,” said Citizens’ Healthcare Coalition (CHC) spokesperson Dr T Jayabalan. He said the coalition had limited funds and access to broadcast media to get their message across and had little choice but to use cyber space. Their ‘Malaysians against 1Care’ Facebook campaign at www.facebook.com/taknak1care has garnered some 2,915 likes with 2,559 conversations about the controversial healthcare proposal. Dr Jayabalan said the coalition is happy that the public is speaking out against 1Care in its Facebook page. Visitors on the page are most sore about the potential mandatory deductions. “So imagine if you are earning RM2,000, RM200 will be deducted every month which totals RM2,400. Divide this by six times, it comes to RM400 per visit. This is madness. Even private hospitals charge less for each visit,” said anonymous respondent Fairnessforall. To explain the issues visually, the coalition engaged a public relations organisation to create a series of videos, which was uploaded on Youtube a month ago. The Tak Nak 1Care videos on Youtube were followed up by another video called the ‘1 Care – Complete Idiot’s Guide’. The videos all end with the message urging Malaysian to reject the scheme. The coalition also set up a Twitter account using the handle @ taknak1care which has 86 people following the tweets. Finally, CHC set up its official website at taknak1care.weebly.com with links to articles from around the world on government managed health insurance schemes.
for additional fol-
doctors could be es set by the 1Care
e portions of their ditional treatment mful complications
ng of stomach ache, hat you have somedoctor may think ised for providing
anagers were now ents. neral practitioners ion under the Ma(MSQH), which nal Health Financ-
porters at the sideJaya on Sunday. neral practitioner
would have to come up with RM10,000 to pay for the certificate of accreditation, as well as pay for computers and other software. Dr Jayabalan said the government was hell bent on privatising healthcare in the country when access to treatment and medicine should be everyone’s right. “It’s obscene to talk about 1Care and placing healthcare under a private concessionaire and making profits from people’s ailments.” Under 1Care, doctors will also see their responsibility to dispense medicine severely curtailed. They would only be allowed to prescribe medicine while pharmacists would be given full responsibility in dispensing medication. “In emergency cases, doctors would still be allowed to give medication but only a capped portion to remedy the ailment at that moment,” he said. Meanwhile, patients will be getting a raw deal with the passage of the 1Care system, said another doctor.
Under the proposal, Malaysians will be restricted to six visits a year to their designated doctor. Dr Steven Chow said the restrictions were unjustifiable as Malaysians will have to contribute a percentage of their monthly salary, likely 10 per cent, towards the 1Care’s Social Health Insurance (SHI).
“So, if I have to visit the doctor 12 times in a year, I have to pay from my own pocket for the additional six treatments which is not covered by the SHI,” said the president of the Association for Private Medical Practitioners in KL and Selangor. According to Dr Chow, Malaysians would have to subscribe to the SHI, with no avenue to opt out from the fund. Despite this, treatment will be limited either in scope or depth, and will not include long-term chronic disease and basic dental care may be limited. He said the amount of red tape put up by the NFHA would also be detrimental to patients’ wellbeing. Under 1Care, doctors have to adhere to an appointment system to streamline healthcare services. Dr Chow said the system would place patients’ lives in danger, as the waiting period could cause ailments to worsen. Essentially, this means the public would have to pay out of their own pockets to get prompt or additional treatment. He said the private sector had now entered into healthcare provision leading to profits over the wellbeing of patients. “It’s all profit driven. This is the commercialised business of medicine that has crept into our system,” he said.
february 17 — 19, 2012
• FROM PAGE 13
What the government has to say
PROPONENTS of the 1Care healthcare system said the scheme will address the issue of equitable healthcare for all Malaysians regardless of economic standing. The proposed scheme is expected to replace the current two-tier healthcare system. Under the current system, patients can choose to seek treatment at either private clinics or hospitals and pay out of their own pockets or opt for government clinics or hospitals where they will pay a nominal fee for basic, federally subsidised healthcare. 1Care, according to Health directorgeneral Datuk Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman, will make treatment at private practitioners affordable. “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if, without counting on whether it is government or private service, the public could afford easy access to healthcare, a simplified access with a high responsive rate?” he said recently to the media. Dr Hasan had said that healthcare costs were projected to escalate across the board and explained the 1Care scheme was to ensure the healthcare needs of Malaysians is looked after despite the spiralling cost of living. He explained said that the scheme was aimed at giving Malaysians universal healthcare coverage which is also comprehensive. A concept paper prepared by the health ministry in 2009 said that 1Care will provide financial safety nets for the lower and middle income groups. The system is touted to reduce additional payments patients would have to pay, as a result of the coverage from the governmentrun insurance scheme. The 1Care scheme would merge 600 private and 813 government clinics The government also reiterated that the restructuring of the healthcare system will also benefit the doctors and general practitioners in the country. The health ministry’s briefing papers said the system would nip the problem of brain drain where public sector care givers were migrating to the private sector. It said that the funds collected in 1Care would assist in providing financial and other incentives to doctors and nurses in serving in “less desirable areas”, besides being used to pay for on-going training for physicians and nurses. According to the government, the scheme is still in the planning stage and the ministry has assured critics that the 1Care scheme will not burden the public with undue costs, Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai that the proposal for all employees and businesses to pay 10 per cent of their monthly income to a 1 Care insurance fund for healthcare costs has yet to be finalised, “Nothing is final, even the 10 per cent salary (mandatory contribution) is a proposal. It hasn’t come to the policy stage yet,” the health minister was quoted telling online news portal Malaysian Insider.
Government’s stand Private Medical Practitioners Association of Selangor and KL view:
• • • • • • • • • The public can no longer get their long- serving independent family doctor to treat them if the physician is not accredited with the 1Care scheme. Patients cannot pick their own doctor, as 1Care will allocate a g eneral practitioner (GP) for them. However, those who still want to see a doctor of their choice will have to pay for it themselves. Patient cannot see their doctors as and when the need arises as there will be a rationing system in place. Under the system, your allocated doctor will decide when, when and which specialist you can see if the need arises (a process called gate-keeping). Under a present proposal, the NHFA will pay GPs RM60 for each patient as consultation fees, and will not dispense medicine to the public. Currently, it costs around RM30-45 for a cough and cold treatment at the GP. Even if patients see the doctor once in a year, they will not get a refund from 1Care. Medical costs are prepaid in advance irrespective of whether one becomes sick or not.
• • • • • • •
1Care will give Malaysians universal healthcare coverage. It includes the Social Health Insurance (SHI) scheme which is funded by the mandatory deduction from monthly salaries and contributions from employers. The funds will be used to pay for a pool of doctors as individual contractors Every household will be made to pay up to 9.4 per cent of gross household income for social health insurance. The National Healthcare Financing Authority (NHFA) will be in charge of administering 1Care and SHI funds. The government will be expected to contribute to the insurance premiums of government pensioners and civil servants. Preliminary reports indicate that 1Care does not cover all your medical needs, and additional treatment or referrals will be borne by patients out-of-pocket payments.
Affordable homes almost ready
The affordable homes project in Sg Long, Kajang which is expected to be completed in September.
SHAH ALAM: The state’s first affordable homes project undertaken by a private developer in Sg Long, Kajang, is expected to be completed this September. This project is in line with a new policy by the state government that allows private developers to build affordable homes in the place of low-cost homes. “This new policy is to increase the number of affordable homes in the market,” said state executive councillor for housing Iskandar Abdul Samad in a statement on Monday. He visited the project site, on which will sit 136 affordable home units in two blocks of five-storey flats, on Feb 10.
The project began last June and is almost done with its bricklaying stage. Each unit has a size of between 830 and 870 square feet and will be sold at a price not exceeding RM89,000 Iskandar (middle with specs) visiting the affordable homes project in Sg Long on Feb 10. each. Iskandar said this policy aims to give those Private developers were roped in to help piling stage,” read the statement. whose households have a monthly income of meet the high demand for affordable homes Other than Sg Long, other affordable RM2,500 to RM5,000 a chance to buy their in the state which left the Selangor State De- home projects in the state include in Seksyen own home. velopment Corporation (PKNS) floundering. U10, Shah Alam where 536 units will be built. Affordable homes are to replace low-cost “For example, construction of affordable Iskandar hoped that the joint efforts of homes in areas without demand or inappro- homes by PKNS in Bandar Baru Bangi which PKNS and private developers will result in priate for low-cost homes. began last June have now only reached the sufficient affordable homes in Selangor.
Exciting Malaysia, and Biased LoyarBurok?
here’s never a dull moment in Malaysia, is there? Every single day we get drama, comedy, deception, intrigue, sex, accusations, and scandal – and that’s only in the first five pages of the newspaper! Sandiwara, via email The pages of our newspapers certainly are quite exciting. Imagine what they would be like if the mainstream media was truly free. Off the top of Lord Bobo’s head, just in the past week Malaysians have been going ballistic over the cow-dung stink that still lingers from the NFC, the not-so-fast-food but certainly-fast-fists at KFC, a dubious honour from an Australian university for a self-proclaimed first lady, a massive national policy that is either at a preliminary or very advanced stage (they don’t seem to have decided yet) but that most people certainly don’t-1-to-care about, and the annual debate about banning Free Sex Day, also known as Valentine’s Day. And those are just the ones that made the first 3 pages! His Supreme Eminenceness has it on good authority that Malaysian news is actually re-enacted by a production company in a nearby galaxy and serialized as a politicosocial drama-comedy-horror-romance and is the best-selling audio-visual broadcast in at least 74 planets around the many universes. It is a good thing that there is so much interesting news. It is a sign that society is vibrant and alert. However, it would be much more of a good thing if these issues were seen out, and resolved properly. It is said that today’s newspaper is tomorrow’s nasi lemak wrapper, so we cannot just rely on media to ensure that people face the
february 17 — 19, 2012
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consequences of their actions. Malaysians need to learn how to use the system – flawed as it is – to follow through after the initial outcry and grandstanding have subsided. Now that would be something worthy of praise from His Supreme Eminenceness. If all the so-called “activists” and “justiceseekers” are only interested in trumpeting the latest and hottest issues, then they are better off watching E! News instead of pretending to be genuinely interested in serious issues.
ord Bobo, you write a lot about being “p o l iti ca l l y non p a r tis a n” or “neutral” – but doesn’t LoyarBurok. com contain almost exclusively proopposition posts? My pro-government friends always point out that this bias exists. Fence Sitter, via email
Dear Fence Sitter, oh dear oh dear. We have been accused of being partisan many times in the past. Curiously, we have been accused by opposition supporters of being pro-government, and by government supporters as being pro-opposition. Perhaps that in itself shows that we are, in fact, nonpartisan. If you have been reading the blawg, you will know that we are a community blawg. Anyone and everyone can write, about anything. The pieces on the blawg do tend to be more pro-opposition than pro-government, but that is because of the posts received, not because of any censorship or filtering on our part. Please ask your pro-government friends to submit their posts to us, and we will definitely publish them. Point them to http:// www.loyarburok.com/relationship.
Officially in love
By Lisa Ng
never used to like kids. I found them noisy and hyperactive most of the time. It didn’t help that every time I tried to carry one, he or she would explode into tears. Meanwhile, the ones who could toddle usually toddled away in the other direction. Maybe they can sense my prejudices towards them. Maybe they know I have no sugar up my sleeves. Or just maybe I was too conceited and thought everything was about me. After I converted to Catholicism in 2005, the head of Sunday school at my church roped me into service. The first thing I learnt about Sunday school was, kids didn’t hate me. They just didn’t like Sunday school and took it out on the teachers by giving inane answers or fiddling with their hand phones. The second thing I learnt was I didn’t hate kids; I just didn’t know what to do with them. Once I did it wasn’t so awkward. And I made some friends, too. Some of those midgets are now 15 years old and 5’10”. It’s a lot harder to hug them now that I’m the midget. At the beginning of my second year in teaching, I got married. I also turned 33. Married life was fun. But after two years of travelling, clubbing, wining and dining with close friends, catching midnight movies and working out at the gym together I felt that life had to be more than just being about us. The Sunday school experience simply reinforced that feeling. “Let’s have a kid.” I said to my husband one day. “Seriously?” “Seriously.” “It’s going to be tough.” “Yeah, because you skipped so many classes at school and Spawn’s going to ask what a cumulonimbus is.” “What’s a cumulonimbus?” When you’re 14 and just about reaching puberty, adults make a big deal out of getting pregnant. They make it sound easy. As easy as just kissing a boy you like, actually. When you’re 34, it’s as easy as finding the cure for cancer: it’s a lot of trial, misfires, and false alarms. “Honey, I think I’m pregnant.”
“No, honey, that’s a (insert name of any favourite local food here) bump.” Also, if you want to get pregnant and you’re not a spring chicken anymore, sex can’t be spontaneous all the time anymore either. “Honey, what are you trying to do?” “ Starting some TLC.” “But I’m not ovulating.” Thank God, we scored a home-run after two tries. At first, the excitement was palpable and consuming. I overbought the baby stuff. I changed my job from a full time thing to a flexi-time thing. I found myself reading tons of materials on pregnancy; and terms like folic acid, breech presentation and epidural rolled off my tongue the way prima facie, ex parte and mea culpa rolled off those of lawyers. Then morning sickness set in. And amid violent reactions to the smell of rice cooking, the sight of garlic and sound of frying, I crazily wondered if the foetus was protesting an existence initiated by a woman who didn’t even like children not too long ago. After battling the urge to throw up 24/7 in the first trimester, came time to deflect the deluge of advice that poured forth mercilessly. “Read to your foetus now if you want him or her to start talking early!” “If you want a strong, intelligent baby, it’s breast milk or nothing!” Nobody knew that my biggest worry was that I’d drop the baby once he got handed over to me. Not how smart he was going to be or how efficient the milk factory was going to be. One night, just two weeks before Aidan was to arrive, my gynaecologist called up with bad news, “Lisa, I’m afraid I have an emergency conference to attend to beginning Feb 20. I’ll be away for 3 weeks.” I was 38 weeks pregnant at the time and waiting for the good doctor to return was not an option. Neither was settling for an understudy. So he suggested we went for inducement the following week. We picked a Friday and it so happened it was Feb 13th, a day before Valentine’s Day. “Oh God,” I said to my husband, “what if he arrives tomorrow?” I remember him shrugging nonchalantly, “He’ll just be nicknamed Romeo for the rest of his life. So maybe call-
ing him Pedro wouldn’t be so bad after all.” The next day, around late morning, the gynaecologist came into the room and stuck a pill inside me to kick-start labour. I remember feeling like I was being skewered but I know I didn’t pass out because I also remember hearing him say, “Over the next few hours, you’ll start to feel some contractions and your cervix should start opening. The nurse will come to check on the dilation, ok?” The contractions built in strength and intensity over time. And I would’ve gotten used to it had the maternity wing not been enveloped in darkness and humidity that night due to a TNB substation blowout. For 10 hours from 4 pm onwards, I was cramping in a pool of sweat and wondering if I could kill someone. At 1.30am, the nurse visited the room again to reexamine my cervix; I felt my heart stop. The ‘discomfort’ they always refer to is really pain and the hospitals should really call it that. Discomfort is sitting in sweaty underwear. Having your cervix fingered is formally known as frigging pain. Now as Friday the 13th would have it, my cervix did not dilate beyond 1/3 cm and so, a second pill went in. This time round, it felt like a torpedo being shoved up all the way to my lungs. “Hmm,” she said after six hours had lapsed, pressing here and there as if I were a robot with zero pain receptors, “it looks like the Great Wall of Cervix is tenacious. I’ll inform Dr Guna and we’ll make preparations for a C-section.” That was how my idealistic plan for natural birth went kaboom. At about 8.30am on Sunday, I was wheeled into the operating theatre. There,
the anaesthesiologist prepped me up for the epidural, which basically meant having a cannon-sized needle stuck into my spine so they could cut me up and extract the baby without my feeling a thing. Lucky I didn’t, too, as throughout the 45-minute procedure, my husband described everything. Then before I knew it, he was out. The first thing I heard wasn’t even the little guy’s cries. It was Dr. Guna saying, “Congratulations guys, Aidan’s here. As with everything he’s supposed to have.” And then of course, I took one look at him and started crying. “Are you relieved it’s a day AFTER Valentine’s Day?” my husband asked. But the truth was, I was simply overwhelmed. Far beyond the simple joy of meeting our son for the first time, was the unadulterated awe at the idea of creation, at the thought of two becoming one to make three. This didn’t make me feel like God. On the contrary, it made me feel vulnerable. Now there was a reason to fear death. Because I’d want to stick around long enough to ensure he grew up okay and that meant forever to mothers. And now, our marriage would be put to the test as my husband and I would cease to be first in each other’s lives (at least for the first few years). What if I really screwed up? What if I failed in both jobs as wife and mother, and both my husband and kid ended up hating me? “I think I’m officially petrified now.” I said to my husband after the nurses took Aidan for his first bath. But he shook his head. “I think you’re officially in love.” (Aidan turned 3 this Feb 15. Maybe when he’s older, he’ll run into this article and deny he’s our son.)
16 February 17 — 19, 2012
Monitoring the 13th general election
ing set up for the purpose and will be fully operational by month end. The website, www.pru13.info will be managed and monitored by KOMAS and other civil society organisations. Among them are the Malaysian Election Observers Network (MEO-Net), Southeast Asian Centre for e-Media (SEACEM), Bersih 2.0 and the National Institute for Democracy Electoral Integrity (NIEI). “Submissions can be made through e-mail, Twitter, mobile phone text and Facebook. Reports can also be made via direct phone calls and fax,” said Arul. For more information, call 019-2721035 (Arul), 03-79685415 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
PETALING JAYA: Civil society organisation Pusat KOMAS is inviting the public to take part in an initiative to ensure that the upcoming general election is free and fair. “The initiative entitled “Jom Pantau” will also allow the public to report election fraud and malpractice before, during and after polling day. “Citizens and voters must take the responsibility to ensure that their votes and integrity of the electoral process are protected,” said KOMAS citizenship and voter education programme coordinator Arul Prakkash. Reports compiled will be presented to the public and Election Commission. A free web based online monitoring system is be-
Know Your Councillor: Meor Rithuan Mohd Said
AMPANG: Opening and equipping a public library for residents of Pandan Jaya are among the objectives Meor Rithuan Mohd Said is working hard to achieve. The Ampang Jaya Municipal Council (MPAJ) councillor said the library will soon be converted from a community hall near the Pandan Jaya LRT station. “I expect this to benefit not only the surrounding community but also those living along the LRT line,” said the 59-yearold. He said this came about as a result of a joint effort between his office, the Selangor State Library Corporation and the office of Cempaka assemblyperson Iskandar Samad. The four-term councillor, who includes reading as a hobby, said the library, which will also have a nursery, computer lab and cafeteria, will be opened soon. On the struggles he faces during the job, Meor said many residents of low-cost flats in Taman Pandan Jaya are apathetic to forming Joint Management Bodies ( JMBs). “There are 58 blocks of lowcost flats in this neighbourhood and 40 per cent still have not formed JMBs,” he said. He has been doing rounds of dialogues with the community to explain to them the importance of managing their own residences for a better standard of living. The father of seven is a fulltime councillor, fielding the
(From left) Evelyne Tina Tawan from Pusat Komas, Southeast Asian Centre for e-Media (SEACeM) executive director Sean Ang, National Institute for Democracy Electoral Integrity’s (NIEI) Ili Farhana, Pusat Komas executive director Tan Jo Hann, Arul Prakkash, Sarawak representative Ahmad Awang Ali and representative from Sabah Mohd Hazli.
grouses of residents and acting as an intermediary between them and the authorities. “I am like a link person between the people and the assemblyperson or the MPAJ,” he said. He explained that initially, residents’ complaints were directed to the respective department heads in the council. However, after a certain period of time, when the matter was still not attended to, he would bring it to the council’s monthly task force meetings where more attention would be paid. Meor welcomed residents to share their grouses with him at his office every weekday and said he has had many walk-in visitors already. “I would like people to engage me in my office”. he said. His office is at Jalan Pandan 4, Pandan Jaya, Ampang.
may 13 recoll: reconcections & 12 & iliation
TI-M he ad disputes Christia state cl n aim
Wesak a time Day: giving for
Where to get your
LRT Stations (Distribution by hand) – Morning Ampang – Sentul Timur Ampang Cahaya Cempaka Pandan Indah Pandan Jaya Sentul Timur Sentul Kelana Jaya – Terminal Putra Kelana Jaya Taman Bahagia Taman Paramount Asia Jaya Taman Jaya Universiti Sri Rampai Wangsa Maju Taman Melati Sri Petaling – Sentul Timur Taman Melati Sri Petaling Bukit Jalil Bandar Tasik Selatan Salak Selatan Shopping Malls (From Saturday noon) 1 UTAMA Tropicana Mall Sunway Pyramid The Curve IOI Mall Plaza Damas Ikano Power Centre Empire Subang MetroPoint Centro Mall, Klang Bangsar Shopping Complex Hypermarkets (From Saturday noon) Giant (Puchong, Kajang, Bandar Kinrara, Klang, Pandamaran, Bandar Selayang, Kota Damansara, Taman Setiawangsa, Putra Heights, Taman Connaught, Kelana Jaya, Bukit Antarabangsa, Subang Jaya, Bukit Tinggi, Setia Alam, Kota Kemuning) Sentul – Port Klang Port Klang Bukit Badak Shah Alam Subang Jaya Jalan Templer Petaling Rawang – Seremban Kuala Kubu Baru Sungai Buloh Kepong Sentral Kepong Morning Wet Markets (Saturday morning) Jalan SS2/62 Taman Medan Jalan 17/27 SS15 Subang Jaya Taman Kuchai Lama Taman OUG Pasar Taman Megah Pasar Jalan Othman Pasar Jalan 17/2 Pasar Sek 14
— 22, 2011
By Will iam Tan Petal ed low- ing Jaya: cost Dila angor may flats through pidata pilot progget a new lease out Selsuch hom ramme to rehaof life if es The amb is successful. bilitate kind proj itious and first the Peta ect is being carr -of-itsied out by ling Jaya Keeping (MBPJ) City in safe: Faizabandoned tas Design collaboration Council bab demons ah Mohd Tahi ies pan y, and Group, a privwith Veritrati baby hatc ng the use r (left) commun Rum ah Air ate comof the Datin Sofi h as local ity-b Pan as, celebrity a The sing ased charity. a • STory Jane looks on. Maju Jaya le block at on pag the houses 59 apartments here Taman e 10 fam , which to und ergo ilies, will be the first which inclu the tran sfor furb ishm des renovatio mation, ns physical ents whi le keep and reaspe ing the "All wor cts intact. sions mad ks are based on social active by the resid the decients," said ist Won Wong, g Hay pointed who mooted Cheong. out dents were that many the idea , of flats whe forced to mov the resie demolishn squatter settleme into the facilities ed, but the buil nts were were hard dings and ly adeq “The Gro up, entr y of Veritasuate. RM100 whi ch has con Design ,000 and architect the skill trib uted Wong said change,” s], means that s [of their ryin the priv is going said Won to Cor g out the proj ate firm is carg. As man ect as part porate Their relocate y as 50,000 fam Social of its (CS d technolo architects, usin 2000 and to low-cost flats ilies were last R) programme, Resp onsibilit g the gies y teri Besa 2008 under formbetween for two years layin having spent the rem ode l the and techniqu latest arch itect Iska g the grou es, the proj Squatter r Dr Khi r Toy er Menect. ndwork budget, whic buil ding on a will Iskandar ndar Razak. The tight than RM h is estimated LB_24 added that icised for policy which has o's Zer o with company 6391_ 500 to be less difficult to has been creating Sun_m14.ai critbeen obta the fam “It is very ,000. high-rise liaising 1 from vario obta in comit was very busi in what they feed ghettos.5/12/11 back on ilies regularly chal need from ness cont 9:56 the proj us parties at mitments to get ever ything need leng ing; alm them deci PM their need acts. their ect, with the “De wiring is ost s to be redo s and de on prac funding start of port spite it all, tical solu help and the horrible, the roof ne. The ous issue. this is still a seriant proj tions. septic tank The succ is leaking, that a city ect for us as a very imstench,” ess of the emit spon should not we believe said Ver itas Des s an awful nent sorships for the project rests on by the wea be ign Gro various com s, such as strata of lthy only, but inhabited up part s, and the the supply of po- juvenati society. In a way, by ever y metal ng the city,” compan we are rey hopes If the pilo said to t is successfu Iskandar. l, the com • Turn To pag e2
Facelift for old
Carrefour (Bukit Rimau, Subang Jaya, Wangsa Maju, Sri Petaling, Kepong, Puchong, Ampang, Jalan Peel, Jalan Kapar, Bandar Tun Hussein Onn, S23 Shah Alam) Jusco (Bukit Tinggi, Tmn Maluri, Wangsa Maju, Bandar Baru Klang, Mahkota Cheras) Commuter Stations (Distribution by hand) – Morning
Pasar Seri Setia SS9A/1 Pasar Kg Chempaka Taman Tun Dr Ismail Hospital Forrest Medical Centre Colleges Help Institute College Bandar Utama (KBU) Universiti Kebangsan Malaysia
Tesco (Puchong, Kajang, Mutiara Damansara, Rawang, Bukit Tinggi, Setia Alam, Ampang, Extra Shah Alam, Kepong)
New computer lab at low cost flats
Dr Nasir visiting a computer class on Sunday. Sisters Emira and Nur Aleeya attending class.
February 17 — 19, 2012
By Gan Pei Ling
Development plans opened for scrutiny
SUBANG JAYA: The Bukit Serdang Special Area Draft Plan 2020 was unveiled on Monday to give residents an opportunity to provide feedback on future development plans for the area. The four major changes proposed by the Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) involve traffic diversions, infrastructure upgrades, additional public facilities and controlled development. “We chose to focus on Bukit Serdang because the traffic situation is getting out of control and development is also growing out of hand,” said MPSJ Urban Planning Department assistant director Hazman Mohd Mahayudin. He pointed out that Bukit Serdang had a very high population density, with up to 60 housing units built per acre. “Development here is too compact and dense. We have to control it before it gets out of hand,” he said. The council had proposed a cap of 24 units per acre for housing development to address the problem. This would mean that only an additional 3,000 homes will be built at the township which already has 10,000 residential units. Meanwhile, current infrastructure will also be upgraded. “With the huge number of people living here, the roads can also no longer accommodate the growing traffic,” he said. Residents have been putting up with daily traffic snarls around the area for three decades. Motorists also faced difficulties entering and exiting Bukit Serdang as all five access roads are always congested. These include the main access roads through Jalan Besar Seri Kembangan, Serdang Raya, and Bukit Jalil highway. Additional access points have been proposed in the draft plan. A total of 13 slip roads have been identified and may be opened if the proposal is approved. These proposed roads will connect Bukit Serdang to the Bukit Jalil and KLIA highways. Congestion at Bukit Serdang is expected to reduce when traffic is rerouted to these highways. MPSJ is also proposing for feeder bus services to help with connectivity and traffic congestion. But this is a short-term solution until regular bus services are finalised and facilities built to accommodate them. Meanwhile, the draft plan also includes improvements to public facilities and the building of additional multi-purpose halls and sports facilities. The draft plan will be on display for a month for the public to view at the foyer of the Selangor State Town and Village Planning Department in Shah Alam and at the ground floor of the MPSJ building. The Bukit Serdang Special Area Draft Plan 2020 is also available for viewing online at the MPSJ website, www.mpsj.gov.my. “I hope the council will also display these plans at shopping centres so that more people will be aware of it. It needs to be displayed at more public places,” said state executive councillor for housing Iskandar Samad. Iskandar, who launched the Bukit Serdang Special Area Draft Plan 2020 at Empire Hotel, pointed out that more feedback and comments will be received if the plans are displayed at more places. All objections, feedback and comments can be made to the council in person or online. “To ensure everyone is aware of these plans, we will be conducting dialogue sessions with residents of Bukit Serdang and Subang as well,” said MPSJ deputy president Abdullah Marjunid. He urged the public to send in their comments and objections before March 13.
KOTA DAMANSARA: Both adults and students at Pangsa Indah flats have been given the opportunity to acquire IT skills thanks to a new computer centre set up at their door step. The Pangsa Indah Residents’ Association has begun offering five computer classes every Sunday to children and adults at a monthly fee of RM20 since Feb 5. “All the classes are full,” said the centre’s instructor Hidayati Omar, 31, who is a professional IT teacher and flat resident. Other interested residents at the 140-unit flats would have to wait till the current 50 students, ranging from seven year-olds to working adults, complete their module on Microsoft Word before they can enrol. Kota Damansara state assemblyperson Dr Nasir Hashim donated RM46,000 to buy 11 new computers and convert a room on the ground floor into the centre. The Parti Sosialis Malaysia chief said it was the first time his service
centre had borne the cost to construct a computer lab at a low-cost flat, at the request of the community. “Other resident groups at low-
cost apartments can submit similar requests to us but they must be active groups. “We want to ensure they’ll be able to sustain the computer centre, including the electricity and maintenance cost, subsequently,” he told Selangor Times. One of the students, Emira Natasya, 16, hopes to improve her computer knowledge by attending the weekly computer class for Forms Four and Five students. “I know how to use Microsoft Word at a basic level, but I hope to learn more advanced skills from a proper instructor through this class,” said Emira, a Form Four student at SM Subang Bestari. Meanwhile, her sister Nur Aleeya Shahera, 7, from SK Subang Bestari is also enrolled in another class for Year One to Three pupils.
Hidayati said younger students like Nur Aleeya start by learning drawing to train their motor skills. “Once they’re familiar with the mouse and keyboard, we can teach them more.” She added that once the Microsoft Word module is completed, the residents’ association plans to have lessons on Microsoft Excel and Mi-
crosoft PowerPoint next. Meanwhile, Dr Nasir also gave out RM150 angpow to reward Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) scorers and RM100 angpow to Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) high achievers last year. He also handed out 70 bags sponsored by the state to selected students at the event.
Call for moderation a mockery with deportation of Saudi journalist
THE Malaysian government has failed a young Saudi, who was fleeing his country fearing persecution, by deporting him to possibly face execution in his home country. There is no other way to say this. Hamza Kashgari, a 23-year-old journalist, was en route to New Zealand to seek asylum when he was detained in Malaysia. The Saudi King had issued an order to bring Kashgari “to justice” and the clerics are demanding he be charged with apostasy for tweeting about Prophet Mohammad. Apostasy is punishable by death in Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, 13,000 people have joined a Facebook page titled “The Saudi People Demand the Execution of Hamza Kashgari”. While we would not get into the nitty-gritty as to whether Kashgari’s tweets were blasphemous, it’s not possible to ignore the decision of the ruling government, which acted with haste. There is no extradition treaty between Malaysia and Saudi Arabia. Hence there was no necessity to quickly hand Kashgari over to the people who are calling for his head. The deportation is unlawful as Kashgari’s lawyer, Muhammad Afiq MohamadNor, had obtained a court order to block the deportation. And the crux of this issue lies in the fact that the young blogger was aiming to seek asylum. So the question that begs to be answered is why the UNHCR officers were not allowed access to Kashgari. This is a blatant violation of human rights. It’s equally disturbing to note that Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein had previously said the Malaysian Jemaah Islamiyah members need not have been shot dead by Indonesian authorities as they could have been rehabilitated, given that Malaysia portrays the image of a moderate Muslim nation. Deporting Kashgari is anything but moderation. Malaysia should not have played a role in assisting Saudi Arabia. But the government has done the exact opposite. It has, with complete disregard for human rights, sent a young man to face possible death in his home country. If Kashgari is executed, Malaysia would have blood on its hands. Charles Santiago Klang Member of Parliament.
MB dismisses sand-mining allegations
By Gan Pei Ling
february 17 — 19, 2012
New facade for low-cost flats
SHAH ALAM: Selangor described controversial blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin’s alleged scandal in the sand-mining industry as “old stories” on Monday. “The stories that he has broken are old stories (ceritacerita lama),” said Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim after attending Selangor government departments monthly assembly at Dewan Jubli Perak. He said the state had taken several steps, including inviting the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to station their officers at sand-mining concessionaire Kumpulan Semesta Sdn Bhd (KSSB)’s offices. “(This is so that) they can monitor the goings-on in the company,” said Khalid. In addition, he said the state requested watchdog Transparency International Malaysia to recommend independent professionals to sit on the board of directors of KSSB.
KSSB’s accounts are also audited more often to ensure further accountability and transparency within the state-owned company. “We welcome any public scrutiny,” said Khalid. Raja Petra had published an article in his Malaysia Today website on Feb 9 accusing two PKR elected representatives of colluding with contractor Double Dignity to secure a sand-mining contract in Dengkil. However, KSSB clarified on the same day that it does not have any dealings with Double Dignity. It said it had never received any application from Double Dignity to carry out any sand-mining activities in Selangor. The two state lawmakers – Sri Muda assemblyperson Shuhaimi Shafiei and Batu Caves assemblyperson Amirudin Shari -have also denied the allegations. Shuhaimi dismissed Raja Petra’s accusations as a “spin doctor’s work”, while Amirudin said he does not have executive power to influence any state authority to approve projects.
Work underway at the flats.
By Basil Foo
Tamil school in the pipeline for Sungai Buloh
By Gan Pei Ling
SHAH ALAM: A new Tamil boarding school will be built in the relatively new township of Bandar Seri Coalfields in Sungai Buloh to cater to demand from the community. Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim told the press that the state had approved a 10-acre land as school reserve. “It hasn’t been decided whether it would be a primary or secondary school as (the project) is still pending approval from the Education Ministry,” said Khalid. He said the state would cooperate with developer Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd to build the boarding school. Khalid was speaking to the press at Stadium Melawati after giving out 351 gold medals to Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) top scorers from Tamil schools in Selangor. SJK (T) Simpang Lima from Klang came out tops with 50 7As’ scorers, followed by SJK (T) Puchong with 21 straight A students and SJK (T) Sungai Renggam, Shah Alam with 20 top achievers. Silver medals were also awarded to students who
Young dancers performing before the award ceremony for Tamil schools’ UPSR high achievers at Stadium Melawati last Sunday.
scored 6As. Over 1,000 students and parents attended the award ceremony. Selangor economic adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Selangor executive councillor for education Dr Halimah Ali and Klang member of Parliament Charles Santiago were also present at the event.
SUBANG JAYA: Residents from the Sunway PJS 7/15 low-cost flats can finally cross out one entry in their laundry list of problems dating back over two decades. Their flats have been chosen for the Ceria (Caring government for residents’ aid) scheme which will see their 10 blocks of flats covered in a fresh coat of paint. “We have waited 22 years for this, no one has helped us before,” said the flat’s Joint Management Body ( JMB) chairperson Kok Kim Swee. He said their five-storey high flats have been left in disrepair since its construction in 1990, with its paint, roof tiles, and gutters having never been replaced or fixed. Kok said they were thankful for the scheme and the state government’s efforts in footing 80 per cent of an estimated cost of RM331,000 for painting all 420 units. Subang Jaya assemblyperson Hannah Yeoh had been receiving complaints from residents about the condition of the flats since 2008 and was glad the state was stepping in to help. “To promote responsible ownership, the residents would still have to pay 20 per cent of the total cost,” said Yeoh. She was speaking during a press conference at a community hall near the flats on Monday. The scheme requires five per cent to be paid before painting works start, five per cent when 50 per cent of the work is done, and 10 per cent after work is completed. The painting is expected to be completed in two months. “If the residents fail to pay, the state will blacklist them from receiving future help from other state schemes,” she said. Yeoh explained that this was done because they were using ratepayers’ money and residents from other areas were bearing the cost of repainting these old flats. Meanwhile, Sunway Properties Facilities Management Sdn Bhd (SPFM), which manages the flats, is chipping in to pay the 20 per cent of the repainting cost for units that did not have arrears in maintenance charges. SPFM senior manager David Looi said 60 per cent of units will enjoy the benefit while the rest will have to repay the amount to the company. He said this was being done to assist the needy residents and to encourage other owners to pay their maintenance fees on time.
Khalid presents gold medals to straight As UPSR scorers from Tamil schools in Selangor at Stadium Melawati last Sunday. On his left is Klang Member of Parliament Charles Santiago.
Yeoh with SPFM representatives and Sunway PJS 7/15 lowcost flats residents.
An exclusive address to call home
By Basil Foo
february 17 — 19, 2012
View of KL city skyline from The Peak.
AMPANG: Nestled at the very top of a hill in Taman Tun Abdul Razak, the Peak is surrounded by beautiful vistas of modern cityscapes and natural greenery. Pristine nature envelopes the gated and guarded community with the lush Ampang forest reserve producing a shower of mist which creeps up in the early mornings. View of two houses from the observation Its single entrance is deck. watched over by a security post and entry is only by an uninterrupted view of access card for residents or via an intercom the KL city skyline. system for guests. Reflecting the vastness Further complementing the security fea- of its natural surroundings, lots at The Peak tures are over 50 security cameras and a pe- are available in varying sizes from 8,624 to rimeter intruder defence system which trips 71,944 square feet spread out over 27 hectares. the alarm if the surrounding fencing is With such an open layout, residents will touched. enjoy a relaxed atmosphere during their time From a entrance, the winding road uphill spent in the comfort of their own exclusive leads to 88 ready-to-build lots offering buyers retreat away from the bustle of city life. a chance to design and construct their very While coming complete with jogging own dream home. tracks, a playground, and an observation deck One can rest assured as all infrastructure for community gatherings, the development works have already been completed, with pip- is surrounded by well-established amenities. ing and cables all laid underground to ensure Founded over two decades ago, Kelab
Darul Ehsan, with its nine-hole golf course, swimming pool, and function halls, is conveniently located a stone’s throw away. The International School of Kuala Lumpur, Ampang Putri and Gleneagles hospitals, Ampang Point and the Great Eastern Mall, can all also be found nearby. Travelling further from the established neighbourhood of Ampang Jaya will require the use of the Duta-Ulu Kelang Expressway (DUKE), Ampang-Kuala Lumpur Elevated Highway (AKLEH), and the Middle Ring
Road 2 (MRR2). Jalan Ampang and Jalan Ulu Kelang can also be used to get to the development which is strategically located 10km from the Kuala Lumpur Convention Center (KLCC). More details about the premium address in Ampang can be found at http://www. berjayaproperties.com/the_peak.html. The launch of the development will also be held at The Peak @ Taman TAR, off Jalan Sultan, Taman Tun Abdul Razak, Ampang on Feb 26.
Charity dinner for special children
By Brenda Ch’ng
Bigger and better travel fair
SHAH ALAM: The new and improved Selangor Matta Islamic Travel Fair (SMITF) 2012 was launched with the participation of 76 travel organisations filling up 124 booths on Friday. “This represents a 24 per cent increase in the number of booths and an additional 34 organisations compared to last year’s Khalid visiting a booth at SMITF 2012 with Mohd Akil. fair,” said SMITF 2012 organizing chairperson Mohd Akil censes as well,” he said. Mohd Yusof. Officiating the ceremony and launching He was speaking during the launching the fair was Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid ceremony held at the fair in the Shah Alam Ibrahim who said the creation of a top-notch Convention Center (SACC). service industry would be a crucial factor in The increase in participants included determining the future of Selangor in attainorganisations from countries like Turkey, ing a developed-state status. Korea, China and Kuwait. He gave an example of how, to strengthen “We are expecting RM22 million in total the state’s economy, the tourism industry sales and over 20,000 customers this year could tap into markets like parents attending compared with RM18 million and 15,000 their children’s convocations overseas. last year,” he added. “Many parents fly to Britain every year to Also present was Malaysian Tour and attend their children’s convocation. This Travel Agents (Matta) Selangor chairperson could be part of a business opportunity.” Helmi Daud who said they will start holding He added that when institutions of the fair twice a year, with the next one slated higher learning in the state attract a higher for late 2012. enrolment rate of international students, He also emphasised the importance of that would also mean an influx of foreign proper regulations of sales gimmicks and parents, during graduation season, whose outbound licensing amongst travel agents. spending here would stimulate local busi“Our guarantee to shoppers is that the nesses. travel packages here have no hidden cost. All SMITF will be held at SACC for the next operators here have got their outbound li- five years.
PUCHONG: A charity dinner for Sau Seng Lum’s two paediatric rehabilitation centres was well attended by the public on Feb 10. The funds raised by the Charity Foundation will be channelled towards the centres which offers rehabilitation, guidance and training programmes to children who needs them. “Up until today, a total of 738 special needs children have received treatment at the centres located at Petaling Jaya and Puchong,” said Yayasan Kebajikan SSL president Rev Sze Chang Heng in a statement. She said during her speech that their charitable organisation will continue providing affordable and quality treatment to the underprivileged in the country. The rehabilitation centre, established in June 2006, aims to improve the life of special needs children by empowering them and guid-
ing them towards a better future. Also present at the annual fund raising dinner was Kinrara assemblyperson Teresa Kok and Puchong member of Parliament Gobind Singh. “Although Puchong is a rapidly developing township, it still has a lot of poor families in the area,” said Kok. She further pointed out that the centre never fails to provide affordable treatment to the community in Puchong. In support of the development of the centres, Kok contributed RM2,000. During the dinner, guests were also entertained with a lion dance, magic show, cultural dances and singing performances. The foundation’s handbooks on diabetes and stroke were also sold to raise more funds for the organisation. Those who would like to make a contribution can visit the foundation’s website at www. sausenglum.com.my.
Rev Sze with Kok and Gobind.
By Brenda Ch’ng
february 17 — 19, 2012
ur appetite to soak up cultures and heritage of Malay food led us to this quaint eatery, Kelantan Delights, where they cook Kelantanese Malay food, based on recipes dating back centuries. The restaurant is located on the ground floor of Wisma Consplant in Subang Jaya. Though this picturesque outlet may have been overlooked by motorists and passers-by, once you set eyes on the silver high-rise building, you’ll never miss it again. We took our seats, ordered the house recommendations and feasted our eyes on the trinkets and shadow puppet displayed while inhaling the deep scent of lemongrass around us. First up was the all-time favourite keropok lekor, which was served with a bowl of sweet chili sauce. One might question our move for ordering this ordinary dish, but what’s the rationale of eating at a Kelantanese restaurant without trying the dish which originated from the east coast of Malaysia. The main entrance to Kelantan Delights. And we were right, as the stale fish Royal plate, a delightful dessert. crackers tasted nothing like those sold by the roadside. Instead of it being hard and chewy, it was soft on the inside and slightly crispy on the outside. It’s recommended that you eat every Nasi tumpang. bite dipped in the chili sauce, to cover the fishy smell from the is too sweet, as the soft cracker. sticky rice itself is Unlike the various types of lekor you get here, quite bland. the ones from the east coast are slightly darker, The royal plate on softer and have a stronger fishy whiff. the other hand is an Next up was the nasi tumpang, served with assortment of kuih fried chicken and pickled vegetables, which was unlike anything we’ve ever tasted or experienced. This dish, made up of ketupat rice and wrapped in banana leaves, was moulded to resemble the shape of elephant tusks. Once unwrapped, we found the rice layered with four types of fillings, starting with chicken floss at the very tip of the tusk, followed by prawn sambal, fish curry, and strips of fried egg at the end. All these fillings were sandwiched between layers of ketupat rice, making the dish extraordinary to our eyes and a treat in our mouths. And if you drizzle the curry sauce accompanied with the dish onto the rice, it will moisten and add more flavour to the ketupat. The sauce, which was made of ikan tongkol, A canvas depicting wayang kulit greets you as you walk in. or better known as tuna, was blended and sea- Nasi dagang. soned with herbs to resemble a creamy curry paste. akok, buah tanjung, jala emas and taek Itik. Nasi tumpang was an absolute delight, and it’s Kuih akok, which originated from Pattani, a definite must try if you’re dining there. south Thailand, is usually made from numerThen we had the famous nasi dagang, served ous chicken eggs, flour, coconut extract and with blue rice topped with rendang sauce, ayam brown sugar, baked till a brownish colour percik, fish crackers, salted egg and ulam. forms. Don’t be alarmed as the blue colour on the Jala emas however, just tasted like caramalrice isn’t from unhealthy dye but rather from ised roti jala, the popular Malay dish made of petals of the blue flower called bunga telang eggs and flour. (clitoria flower). Meanwhile, taek itik, which also means It’s a special flower which gives colour to the duck droppings, resembles a white ball which food but doesn’t give off any smell or pungent tastes like caramelised bananas but is actually flavours. made of bunga cengkih and flour, giving off Due to this, the rice tasted like fragrant rice, this sweet aromatic smell when eaten. but not too fragrant to cover the seasoning and For those interested to sample these exquispices of the grilled ayam percik and chicken site dishes, head on down to Kelantan Delights rendang sauce. Sdn Bhd, Subang Jaya Ground Floor East It was hard to pinpoint what exactly made the Wing, Wisma Consplant 1,No 2 Jalan SS16/4 dish work, as each condiment on the plate has a 47500 Subang Jaya, call 03-55902753 or visit unique taste of its own. But somehow, eating www.kelantandelights.com. Opening hours Inside Kelantan Delights. everything in a go like mixed rice seems to be the are from 11am-11pm daily.
right way to do it. Finally, out came two very sweet dishes, lompat tikam and royal plate for dessert. Lompat tikam which originated from Kelantan, is a dish made of green sticky rice, topped with shredded coconut and drizzled with gula Melaka (brown sugar). Served in triangles of three, the sticky rice is best eaten warm, dipped with lots of brown sugar. Do not worry if the brown sugar
Culinary journey of timeless Kelantanese cuisine
february 17 — 19, 2012
Forests, rivers, parks and picnic spots are places for relaxation and rejuvenation. Selangor has a number of these and LIN ZHENYUAN has something to say about this particular place.
A section of the Batu Dam next door to Bandar Baru Selayang.
here are lots of residential areas in Selangor but a short distance from Kepong is the sprawling neighbourhood of Selayang Baru. A stranger who is passing through will be surprised to find out that it is the commercial hub of Gombak. Within easy reach of Selayang Baru are Selayang Community College, Gombak District Office Complex, Selayang Hospital, MPS Stadium, Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM), Selayang Hot Springs and the Selayang wholesale market. The neighbourhoods that sit within its perimeters or on its boundaries are Dataran Templar, Pinggiran Templar and Selayang Heights. Bandar Baru Selayang, or New Selayang City, was made the district capital of Gombak in 1997. Previously, it was Rawang. The name of Selayang is borrowed from a village which is located about two kilometres away from Selayang Baru. The appearance of numerous apartment complexes in the area in recent years is clear evidence of the residential area’s growing importance in the State. To date, there are about 14 condominiums, apartment blocks and flats in the area. Some of these are Kipark, Bomba, Melor, Seroja, Kenanga, Teratai, Dahlia and Cempaka. The notable recreation places include Batu reservoir, FRIM, Kepong Metropolitan Park and the Seri Gombak Lake. There are also three markets, four commercial centres, a hospital and at least eight government buildings in Selayang Baru. I have been in and out of Selayang Baru many times over a period of 30 years. An old friend from Penang has been a resident of the Cheshire Home in Selayang Baru since the 1970s. Thus, it was through regular trips to this emerging neighbourhood that I have learnt to develop a certain inexplicable fondness for the place. More than 25 years ago, the present market place was almost non-existent. There were lots of bushes, trees and patches of what seemed like swampy land.
Selayang Baru waves its magic wand
The back garden of the Selangor Cheshire Home is reserved for rows of Dragon Fruit plants.
Selayang Baru town still retains a rustic feel in its environment.
However, development has been nipping at the heels of this robust residential spread and finally due to the inexorable march of progress, Selayang Baru began to catch up with the other bigger towns. Today, it is evident that the area is coming to terms with an expanding metropolitan of Kuala Lumpur that casts its long shadow on the fringes of its boundaries. However, there are places that continue to hold on to the old ways of a fast fading world as they straddle the rickety sampan of yesteryear and the fast boat of the 21st century. There are eight schools, eight shopping malls and supermarkets and 19 housing estates within its borders. With a fast growing population, Selayang Baru is trying to cope as best it could under the pressure cooker of modern development. Still, there are places like the fishing gear outlets, quaint hardware shops and tiny community mini-supermarkets to keep the fires of curiosity burning in a first timer’s visit. There are a host of better-than-average eateries in the area and more than a handful of humble food joints that cater only to the locals in some secluded corners. The Selangor Cheshire Home or Rumah Amal Cheshire Selangor has been part of the Selayang landscape for 49 years. It was originally founded on three acres of land in 1963 and today there are new buildings for its dozens of physically challenged residents. The Cheshire Home is located near the market with several narrow tributary roads, side-lanes and back-alleys. In 1991, the population of Selayang Baru
The skies are crystal blue over the Selayang Baru township.
was about 191,000. Then 10 years later, it rose to 174,000. Based on this demographic pattern, it would a fair estimate to put today’s population at 210,000 or more. From Selayang Baru, a motorist can head towards Rawang, Ampang, Jalan Kuching, Kepong, Sentul and Ulu Yam. There are six exits from Selayang Baru to these mentioned places. Selayang Baru can lay claim to some of the best kept green acres in Selangor. While other places in KL and Petaling Jaya are either fast losing or holding steadfastly to their green lungs, Selayang Baru takes in deep breaths of fresh, unpol- A stall owner conducts brisk business with his luted air from its surrounding landscape. food selections to Selayang Baru residents. Outsiders from other parts of Klang Valley have been known to make a beeline for the area. And if you are game for a bit of this area during weekends or during weekday outdoor adventure, find Bukit Lagong on your breaks for a brief respite from the hectic pace GPS and prepare yourself for jungle trekking, in the city. waterfall and perhaps even a little camping. Although Selayang Baru is not known for Bandar Baru Selayang or BBS, as some its choice of cuisine, there are places that have people call it, is relatively new as far as city more than its share of good food. Most visitors planners are concerned. It was given its townjust want to gaze at beautiful sights that act as ship badge in 1987. balm for their jaded and tired city eyes. Residents who have called this place home If you are feeling slightly adventurous, you for decades are sometimes oblivious to its can head towards Ulu Yam Lama along the sterling natural assets. But for some of us who winding mountain road for a big bowl of lor like to get away from the city at regular intermee or feel the force of the forest at Hutan vals, Selayang Baru seems to be the natural Lipur Sungai Tua located near Batu Dam. destination that is within easy reach from KL There is even a hot spring somewhere in and PJ.
February 17 — 19, 2012 Speaker Datuk Teng Chang Khim (sixth from left) with Hulu Kelang state assemblyperson Saari Sungib (third from right), Subang Jaya assemblyperson Hannah Yeoh (on his left) and Batu Caves assemblyperson Amirudin Shari (right) receiving a delegation from Gyeonggi, South Korea, headed by Kang Jang-Bong, chairman of Suwon City Council (fifth from left) on Feb 8.
The Sau Seng Lum charity foundation’s fund-raising dinner on Feb 10 received a great reception from donors and well-wishers. The foundation runs rehabilitation centres for children with special needs.
Hulu Kelang state assemblyperson Saari Sungib (white cap), Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim (blue shirt), state executive councillor Ronnie Liu (green shirt) and Teratai assemblyperson Jenice Lee giving out ang pow to children after the launch of the Zon Hijau with Ampang Jaya Municipal Council at Taman Bukit Segar Jaya 2 on 11 Feb.
Selat Klang assemblyperson Dr Halimah Ali (right) with Klang Municipal Council (MPK) secretary Ikhsan Mukri (centre) handing over new rubbish bins to a village head. Some 60 villages in her constituency received the bins during a simple ceremony at her office recently.
Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim (fifth from right), Bukit Melawati assemblyperson M Muthiah (second from left), deputy state secretary for development Datuk Noordin Sulaiman (red cap), AEON managing director Nur Qamarina Chew (centre) and AEON chairman Datuk Abdullah Mohd Yusof (fourth from right) and other volunteers after planting tree saplings for the firefly habitat rehabilitation project in Kuala Selangor last Saturday.
Shine, shine, shine with Sabrina
By Dominic Luk
february 17 — 19, 2012
Shakespeare on Film
Film: Feb 12-Mar 18; Indicine, Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre, KL; 03-40479000; www.klpac.org; Free.
Paul Loosley’s Shakespeare on Film is back for the sixth series and after more than 30 movies adaptations of the Bard’s works are still flowing. Among the offerings this series are Julie Taymor’s The Tempest (Feb 12), George Cukor’s Romeo and Juliet (Feb 19) and John Farrell’s Richard the Second.
For the past few years, Sabrina has directed musical charity shows produced (and also choreographed) by Farah Sulaiman. These shows include ‘DanSing Thru Broadway’ and ‘Sparks of Broadway’. Selangor Times speaks to Sabrina about her love for the arts and also her upcoming production, Broadway Bites.
ABRINA Hassan, a talented Malaysian actress, director, and dancer, began her early years taking dance classes. With love for the performing arts deeply embedded in her, she went on to complete a degree from Curtin University, specialising in theatre and film.
Last call for Comedy Club
Comedy: Feb 17 (8.30pm); The Bee, Publika; 03-78807999; www. thecomedyclubkl.com; RM63.
If you are in for a night of fun and missed the earlier shows, come on down to The Bee, Publika for Comedy Club’s last show of this segment. The show features famous stand-up comedians Malaysian Andrew Netto, Australian Greg Sullivan and Britain’s Zoe Lyons.
When did you discover the theatre bug in you? And do you remember the first time you were on stage? Sabrina: I’ve been dancing since I was about four years old. My mum and aunt were my dance teachers. I’m not sure if there was a particular moment that I was bitten by the theatre bug but I’ve always enjoyed performing. How did your experiences overseas mould you into becoming a better actor and director? Was it difficult when you came back to Malaysia after being abroad? Sabrina: I was in Perth for seven years, during some of the most formative years of my life. It was definitely a bit of a culture shock when I came back. There was no intention of me being an actor or director. I was supposed to be a chartered accountant, just like my dad. I guess, life had other plans for me. Overseas, there is no spoon-feeding, and discipline is very important. What are you most particular about when you direct a show or play? Sabrina: I strive to make every production I direct the best it can possibly be, especially in terms of performance. The performers must engage the audience, commit to their characters and shine, shine, shine!!! Every role is important, whether you’re on stage for a minute or an hour. How far do you think Malaysian theatre has come over the last decade or so? Are we progressing in the right direction, and in your opinion, what should be done to move ahead? Sabrina: It is always a struggle for the arts. We are almost always last on the list when it comes to funding and support. This is sad as arts and culture are part of our heritage, part of what makes us Malaysian and part of what makes us unique. Despite the challenges, it’s encouraging to see more independent companies and groups sprouting up. Musical theatre in particular, has risen in popularity. Apart from financial assistance we need more well equipped theatres. Some of the theatres we have are mere afterthoughts; shoplots with bad acoustics and terrible seating plans. Some theatres have worn out equipment or equipment that don’t work so not only do we have to pay for rental of the theatre but we incur extra costs to bring in extra equipment. To me, the most important factor at the moment is the support of the public. Many are willing to pay hundreds to watch an international production but RM80 for a local production is considered “too expensive”. Subsequently, they ask why aren’t our productions as good, why aren’t the sets and costumes and nice? Please don’t misunderstand me. Quality does not come through money alone. However, everything incurs cost. We can’t expect people to work for free and the costs of materials and equipment rise just as the costs of petrol and sugar do. It has come to the point where people know what to expect when Farah and I call them... “Kurang sikit, please”... Farah and I are fortunate that there are many charitable and kind people out there who are willing to help us out. As a charity production we have the added task of keeping our costs as low as possible whilst still maintaining the quality of a professional show. We try and give our audience the best show possible. It is not just people coming together over a couple of days to put on a show, we run full rehearsals like any other professional production and are lucky to have the dedication and commitment of so many professionals and semiprofessionals. You are currently directing a show, Broadway Bites, to be staged next month. What challenges are your facing at the moment? And for you personally, how is Broadway Bites different from the previous productions by Farah Sulaiman that you have directed? Sabrina: Broadway Bites is different as this is the first time our performers have meaty acting roles that continue through the show and these performers also bring us in and out of every song. Jalan Impian would be the closest to Broadway Bites in terms of form but it only had half the songs. DanSing Thru Broadway and Sparks of Broadway were both musical revues. Broadway Bites is also our most fun show. It has so many upbeat songs coupled with equally energetic choreography not to mention a fast paced storyline that brings together 18 songs from 18 different Broadway musicals. The challenge of course was in the casting. It’s difficult to find performers who can sing, dance and act in tandem. With exposure to foreign acts and the increase in local production quality, our audience expects much more than mediocre. Unfortunately, performing arts is still not thought of as a viable career. Hence, it is especially difficult to find performers who are trained singers, dancers and actors. Of course funding and sponsorship is always the biggest challenge. Luckily, that’s the producer’s department not mine. Broadway Bites will be staged from Mar 14-18 at Auditorium DBKL. The show is produced and cheoregrpahed by Farah Sulaiman, and directed by Sabrina Hassan. Tickets are already on sale at www. ticket2u.biz
Projek Disco Baldi
Comedy: Feb 16-19; PJ Live Arts Theatre, Jaya One, PJ; www.pjla.com.my; 0379600439; RM25-RM45.
Comedy ensemble Projek Disko Baldi, who made their debut last year, is back with another sketch revolving around love. The bilingual performance will be filled with the group’s trademark zany sketches and original songs. The main players are Redza Minhat, Iedil Putra, Shamaine Othman, Megat Sharizal, Farah Rani, Ashraf Zain and Tun Faisal. Guest starring in this production is Sherry Abdullah.
of the Wanderers
Dance: Feb 16-17 (8.30pm); Istana Budaya, KL; www. hands.com.my; 0361414480; RM25RM68-RM468.
Choreographed in 1994 by Mr Lin, Songs of the Wanderers evokes the cheerful memories of Buddha’s trip to Bodh Gaya, leading the audience into a fantastic purification rite. 90 minutes long, it is a work about the practice of asceticism. The music is from Georgian folk songs sung by the Rustavi Choir.
Play: Feb 17-19 (8.30pm & 3pm), Feb 21-26 (8.30pm & 3pm); Pentas 2, Kuala Lumpur Performing Arts Centre, KL; 03-40479000; www.klpac.org; RM23-RM35.
“Sex to change the course of the world” – A grad student’s online persona; ad lures a mysterious journalism student to his subterranean research lab under the pretense of an evening of “no strings attached” sex. But when a major global catastrophic event strikes the planet, their date takes on evolutionary significance and the fate of humanity hangs in the balance. Will they survive? Popular in the United States, boom was at one point, one of the most produced plays in the country. Directed by David Lim, Boom will be staged for the first time in Malaysia.
Published by Selangor State Government and printed by Dasar Cetak (M) Sdn Bhd No. 7, Persiaran Selangor, Seksyen 15, 40000, Shah Alam, Selangor Darul Ehsan.
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