What to Do If You Can’t Pay Rent?

People getting laid off, more and more fresh graduates walking into unemployment and a job market grimmer that any we’ve seen in recent time. Let’s face it, times are in fact, hard.

With many young adults who are still in school or barely surviving with low paying jobs, income has largely been affected as the pandemic continues to shake up livelihoods across the globe.

The unemployment rate in Malaysia was at 4.9 percent in June 2020. While more Malaysians file for unemployment, the official statistics also show that there is an increasing number of individuals leaving the labor force for various reasons although the Government has relaxed the Movement Control Order.

Money being as tight as ever, evictions are just around the corner for many as rent is still ever present for may who are renting their own place.

So, what do you do if you’re worrying about not being able to pay rent? 

Work out a payment plan.

Don’t wait until the due date to contact your landlord; by giving them as much notice as possible, they’ll be able to meet with you to work something out as you’ll show a clear sign of good faith.

As long as sincerity is present, it’ll be points towards wanting to make something work.

Provide documentations of your financial hardships or even prepare a note from your employer or evidence of your unemployment application.

Apply for relief

Two stimulus economic packages have since been unveiled. The RM20 billion (US$4.6 billion) Economic Stimulus Package 2020 was launched on Feb 27 by then interim Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. 

The second stimulus package, valued at RM230 billion, which carries the theme “Prihatin Rakyat”, was unleashed by the new Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin a month later on Mar 27. The sheer size of the new stimulus package reflects how rapidly the economic environment has deteriorated within a month.

Make the most of the stimulus by applying for them as a little bit of help could go a long way, especially in these times.

Talk to your landlord

When times are tough, landlords tend to show flexibility. Talk to your landlord and talk about your situation.

Landlords tend to help around with tenants with payment obligations, waiving of late fees and establishing payment plans. You never know about what you don’t ask, so consider utilizing the power of plain communication.

What We Know About the U.S. Covid-19 Vaccine Race

In a letter dated August 27th, Robert Redfield, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Preventions, said U.S. states will receive permit applications in the near future from McKesson Corp., which has contracted with the CDC to distribute vaccines to places including state and local health departments and hospitals.

U.S President Donald Trump has also forecasted a U.S. vaccine approval by October. 

So, who is in the race of developing America’s Covid-19 vaccine? The three leading drug makers backed by the U.S. in late-staging testing now are Moderna, Pfizer and AstraZeneca.

Moderna

Moderna CEO, Stephane Bancel, said that they should have enough data from its late-stage trial to know whether its vaccine works in November. The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotechnology company also became the first to publish the blueprints of its study following public pressure for greater transparency. Moderna’s Covid-19 vaccine enters the final stage trial this month.

As of September 19th, Moderna had recruited 25,296 volunteers. Among them, 10,025 had received their second dose, 28 days after the first. It’ll take a few more weeks to recruit the full quotient of 30,000 participants and for them to receive their second doses. Only Covid-19 infections recorded two weeks or more after the second dose are counted, to give the vaccine sufficient time to take effect.

Pfizer

FILE PHOTO: A man walks past a sign outside Pfizer Headquarters in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., July 22, 2020. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

Pfizer CEO, Albert Boula said its vaccine could be distributed to Americans before the end of the year, citing that the company should have key data from its late-stage trail by the end of October, which is line with what U.S President Donald Trump’s wants. Currently at phase 3 trials, Pfizer also published the blueprints for its research, soon after Moderna’s move.

While Pfizer is a household name in pharmaceuticals, it’s also a collaborating with a lesser known Biopharmaceutical New Technologies. Pfizer and BioNTech are planning to expand the enrollment of their phase 3 COVID-19 vaccine trial from 30,000 to 44,000 participants.

AstraZeneca

FILE PHOTO: The company logo for pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca is displayed on a screen on the floor at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., April 8, 2019. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

AstraZeneca co-developed a vaccine with the University of Oxford, but the global trials for it were suspended last week after a study volunteer, a previously healthy 37-year-old woman “experienced confirmed transverse myelitis” after receiving her second dose of the vaccine.

AstraZeneca has since announced that it will pause the the trial worldwide. The trial resumed in the U.K. on Saturday but is yet to resume in the U.S. Communications about the patient’s condition has not been fully transparent too, citing a company spokesperson that they “cannot disclose medical information.”

Trump’s claims

Trump said a vaccine could be three or four weeks away, despite cautionary warnings by U.S public health officials about that accelerated timeline.

Trump, speaking at a town hall hosted by ABC News in Philadelphia, defended his handling of the coronavirus crisis, and said a vaccine could be ready for distribution before the US presidential election on Nov 3.

“We’re very close to having a vaccine,” he said.

“If you want to know the truth, the previous administration would have taken perhaps years to have a vaccine because of the FDA and all the approvals. And we’re within weeks of getting it … could be three weeks, four weeks.”

U.S Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden contradicted Trump, warning Americans that they cannot trust the president’s word. The president has since hit back at Biden, accusing him of spreading “anti-vaccine rhetoric”.

Stages of the race

Pre-clinical

The vaccines are usually tested on animals first to assess the safety and also its effects on the immune system. In order to pacen the process, researchers have tested both and animals and humans together.

Clinical Trials (Phase 1)

Vaccine is given to a group of people (usually between 10-50)

Clinical Trials (Phase 2)

Further tests are then administered on hundreds of people. 

Many coronavirus vaccines combine both phase 1 and 2 trials, which means that it is directly tested on hundreds of people instead in its supposing first phase.

Clinical Trials (Phase 3)

Thousands of people across different ages and locations are then given the vaccine; researchers later observe on how many contact the virus then. This shows how good it is at reducing new infections.

Implementation

The trial results are then reviewed by regulators who then determine whether it should be approved for licensing and large-scale manufacturing

Each step can typically take up to two years or more to complete, but the race has since forced some companies to combine or skip steps to accelerate the process. 

Operation Warp Speed

The U.S. government has stood by an “America First” approach to finding a vaccine. The Operation Warp Speed initiative is an effort largely similar in purpose with the mission to get a man on the moon. Launched in May this year, it aims of delivering 300 million “safe, effective’ doses by January 2021; eight of the most promising vaccine candidates has been selected and given a boost by the U.S. government. 

$10.8 billion has been dedicated for vaccine development and procurement while $1.5 billion has been pumped in for manufacturing and distribution.

8 Slangs that Malaysians Use Everyday

If there’s one thing that we Malaysians do best, it’s creating our own language’s version any given subject.

On top of showing our own unique ways of conversing in everyday subjects, it’s also a great way to lighten up a conversation by turning it in a humorous direction during those ever classic “lepak” or “yumcha” sessions.

As one sentence could contain not one, but a multitude of slang words and abbreviations, non-locals may might find it hard to interpret us or even understand what language we are actually using. 

To put it into perspective, the longest sentence of slang words can be put as “Woi, you want to makan here or tapau back home leh?”; a sentence as such contains three to four slang words and uses up to three different languages.

There are plenty of other slangs used by Malaysians and we’ve compiled a few of them to showcase just how unique language in Malaysia can be.

1) GG/Mampus/Si liao

When facing something bad or when you smell trouble arising, use any of these to express your expectations of bad things in the making.

Example: GG, I haven’t pick up my sister from the airport.

2) Lah/ah

The most uniquely Malaysian slang yet, this can be used at any part of a sentence in literally any way or structure you want to.

Example: Can la, just trust me and be here and 9am tomorrow ah.

3) Abuden

Our own term for “No sh*t Sherlock”, it points out to the obvious when someone asks pointless questions.

Example: Are you thirsty? (When you are obviously drinking)

You: Abuden?

4) Walao eh

Used by Malaysians of all cultures, this term is used to express amazement in both good and bad ways.

Example: Walao, how did you manage to eat 12 nasi lemaks in one go?

5) Wei/Dei/Macha/Eh

That’s how we call our friends instead of using their actual names!

Example: Dei, did you watch the game last night?

6) Syok

Enjoying something? This slang expresses your excitement and love for something that you are experiencing.

Example: Syok wei tonight’s dinner!

7) Nah

This basically means “here you go”; use when passing something to someone.

Example: Nah, you left your bottle in my car yesterday.

8) Wordplay

The best thing about all these slang words is that it’s like a Subway sandwich where you can mix and match any of it to create your own unique sentence.

*Insert own unique example here*

Gender Reveal Parties in an Attention Seeking Community

Life itself is always something worth celebrating, especially if it’s celebrating the birth of a new one.

However, as wholesome as it is, gender reveal parties are, they play a rather dark role in society and also lately, the environment, as the explosion of colors and release of pounds of confetti in the air has finally taken its toll on our planet.

Over the U.S. Labor Day weekend, two expectant parents didn’t get the party they exactly hoped for as they sparked a wildlife that scorched more than 10,000 acres of land in Southern California.

What was a family event used to navigate gender, identity and life transitions, gender reveal parties has become their own mini-industry over the past few years.

Fueled by a never-ending quest of trying to out-do one another as couples, it also presents a bizarre culture of what is considered an attention seeking culture that we live in.

It can all be traced back to 2008, when blogger Jenna Karvunidis cut into a cake at a party, revealing the pink frosting inside it which symbolizes her having a baby girl. Just like that, the modern gender reveal was born.

In a wild bid to please the world of social media, users may go beyond the extremes such as wrestling alligators or even setting off explosions. So, how did it go from as simple family celebration to these? The reason is an attention economy, which uses the currency of views and likes to make the most out of their time online.

It all aligns with the values of an always-on digital consumer, always scrolling for the next best thing to appear on their feed.

The slightest choice to not having a gender reveal also serves purpose towards social media currency as social media influencer Iskra Lawrence announced on Instagram that she would not have a gender reveal – and included sponsored links to a clothing brand in the post.

Parents sometimes choose to ignore the culture and economics that play to these gender reveal decisions; instead of fuelling and celebrating the mystery behind a baby’s gender, perhaps they should also keep in mind to not fuel a forest fire while at it.

6 Coronavirus Claims: Myth or Fact?

FILE PHOTO: The ultrastructural morphology exhibited by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China, is seen in an illustration released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. January 29, 2020. Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM/CDC/Handout via REUTERS

In an age where misinformation is often circled around social media and in real life, it is likely that we come across weird statements on how to avoid the dreaded Covid-19 virus.

As word of mouth travels fast, several outrageous claims have surfaced that will supposing “help” with avoiding it such as drinking hot water or drinking bleach. It is important to understand that none of the following methods in any way makes one immune to the virus.

1) MYTH: Covid-19 only infects older people

MYTH! Both the old and young generation are susceptible to being infected by the coronavirus. However, both old and young people with pre-exsiting medical conditions are more vulnerable to become severely ill with the virus. 

2) MYTH: Garlic helps with preventing Covid-19

MYTH! As healthy as it may seem, garlic has antimicrobial properties but is no evidence that it has protected people form the coronavirus. Eating Garlic doesn’t help with preventing coronavirus infections.

3) MYTH: Extreme weather conditions kill the Covid-19 virus

MYTH! There is no reason to believe that extremely cold or hot weather can kill the coronavirus. The virus can spread in both humid climates and cold climates as well, regardless.


4) FACT: Prolonged use of medical masks does not cause oxygen deficiency

FACT! Although uncomfortable, prolonged use of a face masks do not cause a lack of oxygen or CO2 intoxication.

5) FACT: Most people who get Covid-19 recover from it

FACT! Most people who are infect by it have mild or moderate symptoms and can recover. If you have early symptoms, seek medical care early by calling you rlocal health faacility by phone first.

6) FACT: Drinking alcohol does not protect you against Covid-19

FACT! Irrational alcohol intake increases your risk of health problems instead of solving the coronavirus issue. 

Malaysia Says No to Fist Bumping

The act of fist bumping gained a large following around the world ever since the Covid-19 pandemic, as many refrained from physical touch in hopes of “flattening the curve”

As the fist bump continues to be used in sporting scenes and everyday social meetings, Malaysian authorities has reminded the public to avoid this as it is still a form of physical contact, following the country’s three-month high of new coronavirus cases.

Since the disease primarily spreads via respiratory droplets, both handshakes and fist bumps aren’t ideal ways the virus spreads through. 

A person with the virus has to sneeze or cough into his or her hands, and touch someone else’s hand to pass the virus on; that second person would then have to come in close contact with their nose, mouth or eyes to get infected by the virus.

So, there really isn’t a firm reason that fist-bumps are any safer than shaking hands, hence, Director-General Dr. Noor Hisham’s stance on encouraging the public to not practicing fist bumps anymore.

The nation’s top health official said that any form of physical contact presents the risk of infection and reminded people to maintain a distance of at least one metre.

“This is why we’re telling people not to fist bump,” he said.

Those who are sick are also reminded to cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue to prevent any virus from travelling to another person; while the general public are to wear face masks or face a fine of RM1000.

The Impact of 9/11 on Malaysia

Kent Kobersteen, former Director of Photography of National Geographic
“The pictures are by Robert Clark, and were shot from the window of his studio in Brooklyn. Others shot the second plane hitting the tower, but I think there are elements in Clark’s photographs that make them special. To me the wider shots not only give context to the tragedy, but also portray the normalcy of the day in every respect except at the Towers. I generally prefer tighter shots, but in this case I think the overall context of Manhattan makes a stronger image. And, the fact that Clark shot the pictures from his studio indicates how the events of 9/11 literally hit home. I find these images very compelling and in fact, whenever I see them they force me to study them in great detail.”

When the September 11 attacks (usually referred to as 9/11) happened 19 years ago on this day, not only the United States, but the whole world was in shock of what they were witnessing near and far across the globe.

Four coordinated terrorist attacks by the terrorist group al-Qaeda against the United States resulted in 2,977 deaths and over 25,000 injuries, not to mention the substantial long-term health consequences that stuck with several other victims as well.

On top of that, with property damage of up to $10 billion in infrastructure and property damage, it is the single deadliest terrorist attack in human history and single deadliest incident for firefighters and law enforcement officers in the history of the United States.

Ever since the attack, September the 9th has been tailored into all of those who witnessed it on that day; many in the U.S. mourn for those that perished while many others still find it hard to believe that such acts of terror is in fact possible.

As the attacks began to be taken personally by countries near and far, it soon became clear that the attacks also shaken even those here in Malaysia who were 14,000 kilometres away.

Here’s how the 9/11 attacks affected Malaysia back then.

Malaysia Responds

Malaysia who has a majority Muslim population, responded by condemning the terrorist attacks in New York and Washington, while pledging full support for the US-led effort to combat terrorism.

Both Malaysia and Singapore at that time cooperated with the U.S. through exchange of intelligence information and coordinating security measures against possible terrorist attacks.

Through their powers under the Internal Security Act, scores of Muslims involved in plots to carry out attacks against government and western targets in their regions were arrested; which included 50 people from militant Muslim groups such as the Kumpulan Militant Malaysia which were link to the JI and AQ networks. 

International Relations

The U.S. Administration and Congress appreciated Malaysia’s open support for the war against terrorism, in which help with the strained relations between the two ever since the 1998 sacking, detention, trial and jailing of former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.

Both Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and President George Bush agreed about the need to address the roots causes of terrorism such as the suicide bombers in Palestine. Mahathir even went the extra mile to persuade the Islamic world to condemn suicide bombings, but was unsuccessful to getting an agreement from the Organisation of Islamic Conference on a common definition of terrorism that would include such tactics.

However, Mahathir’s condemnation for the Israeli military occupation and suppression of Palestine remained unchanged.

Political Impact

The arrests of four dozen militant Muslims was largely linked to the Opposition Islamic Party, PAS, which put the party on the defensive end while increasing popularity of UMNO as a party of moderate Muslims.

According to Mushahid Ali a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies, Nanyang Technological University, Western-educated Muslim intellectuals also began debating Islamic issues with ulemas to reform rules in regards to women, governing family, governing society and to resist the introduction of the hudud punishment and restrictive practices for Muslims.

Face Mask or The Coffin?

A simple cloth with two stretchy bands at two ends. It serves as the only barrier that us the public has against keeping the Covid-19 virus out of nose and mouth.

How did one simple object cause such controversy that people around the world are fighting for their “rights” to not wear it?

While many of us follow the public health recommendations from the Ministry of Health (MOH) to limit the spread of this deadly virus, others are bringing up issues regarding individual freedom and other reasons to why they shouldn’t wear face masks in public areas.

Many countries are deeming face masks as mandatory now and there are still protests against it, such as in the United States which has seen 6 millions infections so far. Jakarta on the other hand has taken the fight against anti-face masks folks into their own hands.

In a bid to underline the seriousness needing to wear a face masks in these times, those caught without one will be given an option to pay a fine or to lie down inside a coffin or pay a fine and do community service work.

According to Indonesia’s Liputan 6, several violators had to lie inside the open casket for a minute.

East Jakarta public order agency head, Budhy Novial said that violators are given a fee of what it was like to be in a coffin. 

“With the current Covid-19 pandemic situation, there is a risk of them being laid inside a real coffin.

“However, the open casket idea is still a new concept as we are still experimenting whether this approach can help change the public perception towards wearing their face masks.”

Other districts in Jakarta have also built mini coffin monuments that feature the death rate data to spark awareness about Covid-19.

Best of The 8 Tweets from Water-Disrupted Malaysians

A water supply disruption over the weekend saw at least 1.2 million consumers affected in Kuala Lumpur, Petaling, Klang, Shah Alam, Kuala Selangor, Hulu Selangor, Gombak and Kuala Langat.

A widespread of unfortunate events, many who were eventually unable to cook or take a shower at home due to this and went to social media to vent out their frustrations.

In the rants, many questions why the problem has come back year after year while others were persistent that the people responsible be charge by the relevant authorities. Other users  were even thinking of suing the organizations responsible.

The perpetrators in the river contamination that led to this – four brothers who run a factory identified as Yip Chee Seng & Sons Sdn Bhd, are currently remanded and will be prosecuted next week.

The factory neglected proper procedure when it comes to storing waste oil and traces of solvent odour was detected flowing into the river as well.

While many were rightfully angry with the water disruption, some took to the lighter side of it to share personal “memes” and jokes to lighten the unfortunate situation of being without water. 

Here are the 8 best tweets we’ve seen regarding the dreaded water disruption.

1) Our top of the list comes from stand-up comedian Dr Jason Leong with his interpretation of the three certain things in life.

2) Living out of the city suddenly doesn’t seem like a bad idea at all, as one user puts it, “can’t relate”.

3) Although without water, the folks at Majlis Keselamatan Negara (MKN) still found it essential to remind us of the importance of washing our hands.

4) As funny as some of these tweets may seem, the water disruption should serve to educate us about stuff we pour down our sink and if it’s safe for the environment. 

5) Desperate times call for desperate measures, enough said.

6) For some of our Selangor-ians, enough is enough. 

7) It takes a lot to have nightmares about something. Imagine having a water supply disruption in your dreams as well, because it was what this user had gone through.

8) All in all, a message from those who are unaffected by the water disruption to the many who are affected by it.

Universiti Malaya Caught Up in Sexual Harassment Case

Universiti Malaya has recently come under fire for their handling of an alleged sexual harassment case towards one of its students.

Back in July, a 23-year-old, third year student lodged a police report after feeling unjustified with the response she had received from the Universiti Malaya Integrity Unit.

The student claimed she was sexually harassed by a senior lecturer in his office on June 3rd last year. The misconduct included physically touching of the hips while asking disturbing personal questions.

The student has since been told that the associate professor whom she accused and is already retired in June, will not face any criminal action as authorities won’t be pressing further charges.

Brickfields police chief Zairulnizam Mohd Zainuddin

“After studying the statements given in the case, the DPP decided there were no charges against the suspect, taking into account the fact that Universiti Malaya had taken internal action against the suspect,” Brickfields police chief Zairulnizam Mohd Zainuddin said.

He also added that it was the deputy public prosecutor’s (DPP) decision not to file any charges. It was also the Attorney-General’s Chambers decision to drop the case.

Universiti Malaya Vice Chancellor, Abdul Rahim Hashim

The university’s vice chancellor, Abdul Rahim Hashim, also released a statement stating that investigations were conducted as soon as the complaint was received. He said that the perpetrator had been punished under the rules of the integrity code.

A student group at the university, University of Malaya Association of New Youth (UMANY), has called for the resignation of said vice chancellor for allegedly being “weak, vain and incompetent”.

Such demands came after he said that while management has taken action against the disgraced lecturer, he cannot divulge information regarding the punishment.

The student group also claimed that despite allegations of the lecturer preying on several other students, management has only decided to demote the lecturer.

The university has also been accused of not being transparent in the case, hence, not living up to its code of conducts.

Lilian Kok of the All Women’s Action Society stated that under the university’s Code of practice on the Prevention and Handling of Sexual Harassment, results of the investigations should be disclosed to both parties.

“However, as we can see from this case, having a comprehensive process is not enough,” she told in an interview with FMT. 

“There should be accountability and transparency in order to institutionalise a holistic sexual harassment preventive measure.

“Universities should also be more aware of the unavoidable power dynamics in the environment and take decisive and transparent measures to safeguard the rights of the students.”

According to Kok, 28% of Malaysians experienced sexual harassment, a fifth of those occurred in educational institutes.

“Universities should also be more aware of the unavoidable power dynamics in the environment and take decisive and transparent measures to safeguard the rights of the students.” Kok said.

A change.org petition has also started circling around social media seeking to prosecute the lecturer, it has since gathered 5,500 signatures.