MPs To Support Budget 2021 Only If It’s Beneficial to the People

Amid the political crisis involving Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim, the King has encouraged the MPs to support the upcoming Budget 2021.

Citing the welfare of the people, Comptroller of the Royal Household Ahmad Fadil Shamsuddin said the King stressed that the Budget will be crucial for the government and authorities to continue combating the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, several opposition MPs have widely indicated that they would only back Budget 2021 on November 6th only if it’s beneficial to the rakyat. 

Federal Territories Minister Khalid Abdul Samad together with Wangsa Maju MP Datin Paduka Tan Yee Kew during a press conference on Tapak Uptown Danau Kota. FAIHAN GHANI/The Star.

Shah Alam MP Khalid Abdul Samad said he wants to see a budget that would, among others, prioritize on protecting the people from the coronavirus and give a much-needed boost their livelihoods.

“Of course, I will surely back any motion or bill if it is advantageous to Malaysians, especially in this current situation. I hope priority will be given to the health sector, given this challenging period in tackling this on-going health crisis.

“If you remember in the previous budget, approved by former Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng, the sector which received the highest allocation was education, followed by health. So we hope this will be adjusted based on the priorities we see now for the next year.

“We also have to ensure that we have sufficient (financial) injection for the economy and businesses. We do not want everybody to close down (their businesses) because it would be costly to restart all over again. Therefore, the injection of economic packages is also equally important,” the Parti Amanah Negara MP told the New Straits Times.

The Perikatan Nasional (PN) government did not hold a pre-consultative session for Budget 2021 with opposition MPs, but Khalid said that it won’t be a problem as long as main points are discussed; although, this puts the government’s willingness to be open to fresh ideas into question as well.

“If they already have a budget that is prepared and ready to be tabled, they can always engage us immediately thereafter.

“We can always have discussions and form parliamentary committees to sit down and study the details, while the budget itself is being debated.

“We have about two weeks, so we can really do the ‘finger counting’ and reformulate the whole budget, if necessary, in order to achieve something you can have consensus on,” added Khalid.

PERAK 17-08-2017. Deputy Health minister Dr Lee Boon Chye talk to press at the 2018 Neonatal Cardio Respiratory Conference, which was held in the KPJ Ipoh Specialist Hospital today.MALAY MAIL/Farhan Najib

Gopeng MP Lee Boon Chye also added on how he would put a vote for motions and bills that would benefit both the country and the people.

“I think they should have a substantial increase in budget for the Health Ministry, which includes a special allocation to combat Covid-19. I do hope there would be considerable amount for public health.

“We need to prevent Covid-19 transmission, instead of (focusing on) putting out the fire (of infections). Prevention is better and we need to tighten up efforts to reduce the spread of the virus,” said the former deputy health minister.

Lee said that if the opposition was to support the PN government, they should’ve had talks prior to the Budget 2021 being tabled.

“There have been no consultations at all so far. So, it is premature to say whether we can support or otherwise. I believe there is still room to negotiate, as we have about 11 days before the tabling of Budget 2021.

“Certainly, we can work together based on the framework of the PN budget, as it will only come to a vote in about four weeks from now. So there is still ample time to have bipartisan input,” he said.

112 out of 222 Malaysia’s MPs are parliamentarians while 108 are of the opposition.

Lockdown Measures are Ineffective Against Covid-19 Spread, Says Experts

The number of daily positive cases in Malaysia have obviously been rising rapidly and that’s not even the most worrying part as it is that it is doubling almost every five days on an average since early September.

Things took a turn for the worst in September 7th onwards as positive cases stated doubling within four to 11 days. According to a study by CodeBlue, this rate sped up at the concurrence of the Sabah state election, with daily infection doubled almost every three days. 

A conditional movement control order (CMCO) has since been implemented in a number of significant areas, but experts are saying that such moves or a lockdown may just function as a temporary measure to reduce the cases and not completely annihilate transmission of the virus.

A mindful lockdown

Dzulkefly Ahmad

According to Dzulkefly Ahmad, who is also head of Selangor’s Covid-19 task force (STFC) and a former health minister, movement restriction measures are important to control the coronavirus but must be implemented mindfully and must be adhered to fully by the public.

“l need to stress that lockdowns do not end the pandemic. We do not exit a pandemic with lockdowns.” he said in an interview with CodeBlue.

“Theoretically, lockdowns are a last resort and must be resorted to, tactfully and judiciously, with unambiguous guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOP),” 

Covid-19 vaccine

Although a lockdown couldn’t do what a vaccine could, that may be the only option we have for now.

According to Joseph T Wu from the University of Hong Kong, lockdowns are merely a temporary fix without a vaccine.

“While these control measures appear to have reduced the number of infections to very low levels, without herd immunity against Covid-19, cases could easily resurge as businesses, factory operations, and schools gradually resume and increase social mixing, particularly given the increasing risk of imported cases from overseas as Covid-19 continues to spread globally,” he told The Guardian.

Compliance with SOPs

Dr Mustapha Kamal from the Covid-19 response unit in Sungai Buloh Hospital, Malaysia’s main Covid-19 hospital located in Selangor says that even with all the SOP guidelines set in place, it will still all lead to nothing if Malaysians don’t comply with it. 

“It has been said and proven during the second wave where we have seen the curve flattening, as per number of cases decreases. We are hoping with the MCO, the number of cases decreases again. Though, it must be remembered that MCO in the long run might jeopardise our country,” Dr Mustapha told CodeBlue.

Damages both mentally and economically

If not announced with the details of it fully enclosed to the public, a lockdown may cause more harm than good. Not only will there be confusion but there will also be the fear factor in place on the consequences that may follow if one is not clear about it. 

Low-income and vulnerable groups may find it much more difficult to survive during lockdowns as situations may just go from bad to worse. Those groups who are likely to even recover from the first MCO will be facing the difficulties and hardships head on, this is bound to take a toll on those groups not only financially but also mentally as well.

“But we must remember that it has a concomitant damaging effect on both lives — mental health, foregone preventive care, missed educational opportunities and livelihoods, especially of the lower income groups and small businesses in the informal sector, because they are ‘crude or blunt’ instruments,” Dzulkefly stated.

“Needless to say that businesses are under severe strain. A simple way to help businesses is to give predictable and clear, evidence-based guidance, so that they can anticipate what measures will be used and in what situation.”

Meet Rob Hawke: Australia’s Former PM and Beer-Drinking Record Holder

Robert Hawke is the Australian labor leader, Labor Party politician and was prime minister of Australia from 1983 to 1991, but he may as well be remembered for how fast he could chug a can of beer.

Hawke may have changed Australia’s political landscape forever, but history and most notably the media frequently shows him “necking the froth” or recorded downing the “liquid amber” in one swift and fluid movement, according to news.com.au.

To make it more intriguing, the Rhodes scholar at Oxford between 1953 and 1956. In 1954 had once “skolled” a yard of ale – two-and-a-half pints, or 1.4 litres – in 11 seconds, then a world record. One couldn’t help but wonder, how did a beer chugging politician maintained a the lifestyle while balancing a political career?

Bob Hawke garnered his own following of fans since he joined the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) in the 1950s, and helped to cement his image as a man of the people, an ally of the working class, someone that the public could widely relate to. 

But after downing a beer at the amusement of the media and hundreds of fans at the Sydeney Cricket Ground in 2012 and 2014, his image was thrown into question and he was accused of setting a bad example for young Australians.

Australian journalist, businesswoman, television personality and author, Ita Buttrose, came to Mr Hawke’s defense on TV show Studio 10, saying, “I think you’re all getting your knickers in a knot over nothing. … He downed a beer. He’s one of the guys. Good on Bob Hawke for still being a man of the people. It’s got nothing to do with the issue of teenage drinking.”

This did not stop Hawke as he was at it again at the 2017-18 Ashes Cricket Series.

“Doesn’t sip it. He gets it down,” said the cricket commentator as the camera captured Mr Hawke in the VIP box downing a pint. “Go on Bobby, show us your technique. Look how quick he is!”

Far into his 80s, he is still well known to visit his local pub to participate in beer sculling competitions, which only reinforced his image as a man of the people as one Youtube video comment says, “Bob Hawke is a legend and a representative of the working Aussie who did well.” Another added, “Should be part of the Citizenship ceremony imo … Scull a beer like Bob!”.

Throughout his marriage to his first wife, Hazel, Hawke had drank heavily and suffered from alcohol poisoning after grief-drinking over the death of their infant son.

Only in his post-parliament days did he take up the beer mug again, but never to excess as a career in parliamentary politics would’ve needed him to hang up the beer mugs.

All in all, who wouldn’t love an old timer, politician and former prime minister who could do the job perfectly and also chug a pint every now and then?

Proper Temperature Checks Don’t Involve Your Hands

Ever since false claims of how thermal scanning on the forehead may somehow cause side-effects towards the brains of those scanned, the public has taken an abnormal approach to it by placing their arms and hands instead on thermal scanning machines.

The Ministry of Health has again and again advised the public to not do so as they should rely solely on their forehead to get their temperatures checked. 

According to Harian Metro, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that the ministry discouraged people from recording their body temperatures by pointing the ‘temperature gun’ at the wrist, which he noted many have been doing lately.

He emphasized also on how the most accurate body temperature readings are obtained from the forehead and not anywhere else. 

“The temperature reading from body parts other than the forehead is doubtful, so in relation to that, the public is advised to stop using their hands or other body parts,” he explained.

The Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations – (FOMCA) wrote that the Seattle Children’s Hospital, a person’s clinical body temperature is normally measured at the forehead, ears, mouth, armpit, or rectum.

Rectal thermometers are considered to be too invasive and is rarely utilised by health personnel unless absolutely necessary.

Rectal temperatures are the most accurate but are the most invasive by far, which is why health personnel have always adopted the forehead as a second best thermal screening area.

Arms are not considered in temperature checks as they are the peripheral parts of the body, and extremities would have temperatures at the arms vary depending on environmental conditions.

The normal human body temperature varies from 36.5°C to 37.5°C, any temperature higher would be considered a fever.

Dr Noor Hisham also assured to the public on how there have been no reported side effects of scanning the forehead with infrared light

“We do not deny that many people are worried about side effects if they use the thermometer on their foreheads, but as far as we know, there is no scientific data that states it will cause illness,” he said.

Drunken Driver Dies after Plunging into A 5-Metre Drain

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A man believed to have been driving under the influence was killed after losing control of his vehicle and plummeting down a five-metre-deep drain.

The deceased, 20-year-old Chan Yang Wai, was at the wheel of the Toyota Vios when the incident happened at 11pm; alongside him was 18-year-old Chia Kah Lok who fortunately escaped injured. 

According to Chia, the crash occurred when they were driving towards the Kepong roundabout from Jalan Kepong; that’s where Chan lost control of the car, causing it to skid and eventually landing upside down in a drain.

“The driver died at the scene while the front passenger was rescued by passers-by. The body was sent to the Kuala Lumpur Hospital for post-mortem,” he told Bernama.

Police believed the two men were drunk and the case is investigated under Section 41(1) of the Road Transport Act 1987.

20 firemen and two fire engines from the Jinjang and Sentul stations were rushed to the scene for the rescue operation; the two victims were then removed from the wreck at 11:58pm.

Police also believed that both the men were drunk, and the case is being investigated under Section 41(1) of the Road Transport Act 1987.

Chicken Rice Seller Fined RM3000 While Travelling For Work During CMCO

A chicken rice seller in USJ4 was given a hefty fine under the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) as only two individuals are allowed to be in a vehicle at once.

Malaysians have since have mixed reviews regarding the CMCO SOPs, with many questioning the reasoning behind this incident and saying that it doesn’t make sense.

A viral post by the SJ Echo Facebook page claims that the SOPs are unfairly implemented and this may force the famous chicken rice seller in USJ4, Subang Jaya to close his stall after being slapped with a fine of RM3000 in total, merely for travelling from home to work and back.

SJ Echo said that the small business owner, Seow Boon Keong was travelling with his two sisters and one nephew in the car, all of whom work with him at the Chuan Kee chicken rice stall.

“We travel from Jenjarom daily to USJ 4 to operate our chicken rice stall. It’s 30km one way from Jenjarom. Because of the distance and also because the other three cannot drive, we travel in the same car,” he said.

“All we do as a routine is [to] head to work from Jenjarom in the morning and go home by around 3.30pm when we finish work. We don’t go anywhere else,” SJ Echo reported the man as saying.

They were heading home from work when stopped along the Damansara-Puchong Highway (LDP) by a policeman near the USJ toll plaza.

Despite having a letter to prove that he runs a chicken rice stall in USJ4, he was still issued a RM1,000 fine for each of the passengers in the vehicle.

“The two-passengers a vehicle SOP is not fair for people like us who run a business,” Seow said. 

He also added on how he may have to close down each time a guideline/SOP of such was imposed ,which would result in him losing his only source of income for the family.

“Because of the distance from Jenjarom to USJ 4, it would cost RM40 one way for two persons to travel that distance by Grab,” he said, adding that they do not go anywhere else except home to work and back.

The Subang Member of Parliament (MP), Wong Chen has since listed down the grounds for the chicken rice stall owner can file an appeal.

Now a bit of local community news. A favourite Subang Jaya chicken rice seller operating in USJ4 was recently fined by…

Posted by Wong Chen on Friday, October 16, 2020

“First is the fact that all three passengers are a family and living together, therefore being in the car together does not increase the risk of spreading the pandemic. Second, they were not on a joyride but on their way to work, which is not a prohibited activity under the CMCO,” he wrote on his official Facebook page.

“Based on these two mitigating points the police should consider dropping the total of RM3,000 of compounds and just issue a warning,” he said, adding, “it’s also wrong for the government to implement strict enforcement when it is also equally guilty of constantly updating and changing the CMCO SOPs”.

Chen has also said that the government should issue more warnings instead of compounds during this period as it is more or so an adjustment period for the public.

“This particular case also highlights the need to tweak the CMCO two passenger rule, to provide exemptions for family members travelling for work purposes. The economy is not doing well, therefore the CMCO SOPs should not add on further challenges to the overall sluggish economic activities,” he said.

Woman Dies After Falling into Coma During Unlicensed Liposuction Surgery

A bride-to-be who wanted to look perfect on her wedding day, has recently died as she put her trust in the hands of an unlicensed beauty parlor to perform a liposuction procedure on her.

The victim who was also a model passed out during the procedure and was rushed to the hospital immediately, she was unfortunately pronounced dead not soon after.

According to her friend, the victim was going to tie the knot with her boyfriend next year and wanted to look perfect.

Liposuction surgery is a technique in cosmetic surgery for removing excess fat from under the skin by suction, hence, she paid RM2,500 for a liposuction procedure to make her arms look slimmer.

A background check revealed that the beauty parlor located in Sunway Velocity Mall was registered under SSM to be only selling beauty products and not licensed to perform any plastic surgeries. The two beauty practitioners also don’t possess any legitimate certificates to perform plastic surgeries.

A friend who was present during the procedure said that the practitioner had looked anxious at one point and that’s where she realized that something wasn’t right. When things turned sour, an ambulance was called for; the paramedic tried to resuscitate her, but she was pronounced dead after reaching the hospital. 

The deceased 23-year-old, Coco Siew, started her modelling career aged 16 and won the Asia New Star Model Contest in 2014.

Siew’s family was informed about her death around noon on October 17th. Her brother soon lodged a police report.

The brother said that his sister lived a very healthy lifestyle and he was proud of her sister’s achievements.

” Hopefully my sister’s experience will serve as a warning to others, and tragedy like this won’t happen again,” he said.

The 23-year-old beauty practitioner who was the person in charge of the procedure, is currently investigate by the police; the beauty parlor has since deleted its Instagram account upon the incident and is yet to comment on the tragedy.

6 Ways to Spot Fake News

Fake news isnt something new, but it’s been increasing much more lately expecially due to the Covid-19 pandemic forcing the public to want to know more and read more.

Fake news comes from anyone who wishes to share their thoughts or stories to the world and there is no regulation pretty much on whatever that is being circled around people’s own social media platforms.

Misinformation and fake news doesn’t only spread unnecessary fear and confusion but also harm those who are part of the message that is travelling around. Invented reviews of your products or inaccurate financial updates, for example, can do serious reputational damage.

Here six ways to differentiate fake news from news:

1) Be critical

Much of fake news is written with a shock value that is purposed to surprise readers on sight. Think critically and ask yourself “Why has this story been written? Is it to persuade me of a certain viewpoint? Is it selling me a particular product? Or is it trying to get me to click through to another website? Am I being triggered?”.

2) Check the source of the story

Every story has a source and if you have doubts, do some digging! Research about the author or publisher and decide if it’s trustworthy. Be aware that much of the credibility can be a false; so, if you see a suspicious post that looks like it’s from the World Health Organization (WHO), for example, check the WHO’s own site to verify that it’s really there.

3) Who else is reporting on the story

If the story is in fact true, some other news agency is bound to pick up on it. Follow professional news agencies and check if the story is up there in order to filter out what is and what is not.

4) Examine the statements

If it’s credible, there should be a lot of facts included in the story such as quotes from experts, data, surveys and statistics. Does the evidence prove that something definitely happened? Or, have the facts been selected or “twisted” to back up a particular viewpoint?

5) Don’t take images at face value

Images can be altered in many ways to show another story these days; even if it’s 100% correct, it can be altered to represent something else. You can use tools such as Google Reverse Image Search to check where an image originated and whether it has been altered.

6) Check if it sounds right

Use common sense and read the story to yourself. Does it sound true? If it doesn’t sound true to you, the story probably isn’t as you choose what you believe.

Apple Introduces the Homepod Mini in The Smart Speaker Race

In its “Hi, Speed” virtual keynote event, Apple’s main attraction of the day was the new line of 5G iPhone 12s, but one thing that stood out was also the reintroduction of its Homepod smart speakers – the Homepod Mini.

For those who are familiar with the market, smart speakers are designed to compliment the futuristic idea of smart home solutions. Similar to a Google home Mini, smart speakers boast amazing sound and brings all smart gadgets in a home as one whole working unit; but how much can a speaker of a mini size really bring?

According to Apple, the Homepod Mini uses a “computational audio” system that is powered by the Apple S5 chip while the full range driver and force-cancelling passive radiators produce “amazing sound”.

Although significantly smaller in size, it has the original Homepod’s acoustic waveguide where is directs the sound flow onward and outward towards the bottom of the speaker giving it a 360-degree sound. When you have two of these, in combines to create a proper stereo setup as well.

Access to the Siri also allows users to do all sorts of smart speaker tricks such as telling the weather, getting personalized updates and playing music based off your preferences. It also differentiates between the different voices in a household to allow personalized content and requests.

As a smart speaker, it controls the gadgets in your home as well; simply tell Siri to “turn off the kitchen lights” or “make the living room colder” and it’’’ turn switch off the lights and simply turn down the air-conditioning levels.

Adding on to the family of products such as the iPhone, Apple Watch, iPad, Macbooks and may more, transitioning from your device to you r smart speaker is seamless and you can be listening to music on your Airpods now and simply switch to listening on your speaker just like that.

Unfortunately, all that the Homepod Mini has to offer will not be officially coming to Malaysia; although cheaper than the original Homepod at U$99 (RM411), locals would have to stick with other of the Hompod Mini’s competitors such as the Google Home Mini or Nest Mini for less than RM150.

Singapore Will Pay Citizens to Have Babies During The Pandemic

This photo taken through a glass window at a maternity ward shows a nurse holding a newborn baby wearing a face shield, in an effort to halt the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, at Praram 9 Hospital in Bangkok on April 9, 2020. (Photo by Lillian SUWANRUMPHA / AFP) (Photo by LILLIAN SUWANRUMPHA/AFP via Getty Images)

For those with plans to be parents during the pandemic, Singapore is offering a one-time payment to encourage couples to not put those plans into a halt.

Singapore has spent decades to encourage more of its people to have children by offering incentives such as cash grants, preschool subsidies and even going as far as matchmaking tea dances as incentives. According to the deputy prime minister, Heng Swee Keat, officials had earlier heard that parents were delaying their plans due to Covid-19 and it doesn’t come as a surprise to them.

“This is fully understandable, especially when they face uncertainty with their income. Hence, to help with expenses during this period, we will introduce a one-off additional support for new-borns,” he said.

The value of the payment is yet to be announced but it will be added on on top of current benefits that are already worth up to $10,000 Singapore dollars.

Although data shows that fertility is still emerging, many wealthy countries are seeing a fall in birth rates while low and middle-income nations are seeing an increase.

A survey shows that young people across Europe are postponing or abandoning their plans to start a family, especially in countries whose birth rate is already low, such as Spain or Italy.

“People who have the fortune and the economic security and ability to access contraceptives to make that decision [to not have a baby] will do so,” said Dr Clare Wenham, assistant professor in global health policy at London School of Economics, who added that fears about safety and financial security were likely to deter people from having a child.

“The problem is not everyone in the world can choose when they want to get pregnant – either because of gender norms, violence or because of a lack of access to reproductive health service,” she added.

Singapore expects Covid-19 to drop its birth rates, which is already one of the lowest in the world – 1.1 births per woman in 2018.

Other countries in south-east Asia are preparing for a post-pandemic baby boom, such as in the Phillipines who could see the highest numbers of births in two decade due to the country’s strict and enforced lockdown earlier this year.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has predicted as many as 7 million unintended pregnancies worldwide as a result of the crisis, while Maries Stopes International has warned of millions of unsafe abortions globally and a rise in maternal deaths.

Currently, Brazil has the highest rate of post-birth deaths where there is coinfection with Covid-19.

Wenham also says that it might be a range of other things but we just don’t know it yet.