Monday, September 26, 2016

High-rise living in below par, need professionalism in managing the property

Star's Graphic: http://clips.thestar.com.my.s3.amazonaws.com/Interactive/highrise/highrise.mp4

Only 74 out of 7,325 high-rise residential properties in Peninsular Malaysia earned the top five-star ranking in an evaluation of their property management standards. And more than half are below par, earning only one and two stars.


IT is one thing to be a developed state by 2020. But it is another thing entirely to have a developed state of mind – and Malaysians have a long way to go to achieve that.

Take, for instance, condominium- and apartment-living.

Some of these properties may come with top notch facilities but when it comes to managing their upkeep, there is much to be desired.

Or so says the latest findings on the quality of managing stratified properties from a survey by the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry.

Every year, the ministry conducts its Strata Scheme Management Quality Evaluation, or “Star Rating”, which ranks the standards of joint management bodies (JMBs) or management corporations (MCs) of apartments and condominiums.

These bodies are ranked based on how they do in seven areas (see graphic below for details); five stars is the highest rank.

But, as it turns out, more than half – or 69% – of condominiums and apartments nationwide ranked “below par”, scoring only one and two stars in 2015. In 2014, a slightly smaller percentage, 65%, were ranked below par.

Only 1% – or 74 – out of 7,325 strata development schemes surveyed earned five stars in the 2015 ratings, made available to Sunday Star.

If such a trend continues, future residents will inherit poor standards of living amidst modern facilities.

Currently, almost six million Malaysians out of 20 million city folk are living in stratified buildings like apartments and condominiums.

“But this number is expected to rise in future as the country progresses and becomes more urbanised,” says Mohammad Ridzwan Abidin, Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry urban service division under-secretary.

He says one of the major problems that condo dwellers continue to face is the refusal of other residents to pay maintenance fees. Other problems are building defects and matters involving enforcement.

“For now, about 70% of residents are at a level where they are merely aware of what needs to be done in managing their property. They are not yet at a level to appreciate the benefits of cooperating with each other and creating a better living culture,” he says.

Mohamad Ridzwan says there is a need to change the mindset of people to foster more civic-minded communities in high-rise buildings.

“Future generations will likely live in stratified buildings, so people should try to set a proper precedent for them,” he says.

He points out that there are also more people moving out of landed properties and into high-rise buildings.

“This group of people will have to learn to adapt to the culture of living in stratified buildings as it is different from living in houses.

“They will need to be more inclusive of and cooperative with their neighbours,” he says, adding that they would also have to learn to be more considerate when it comes to using shared facilities.

Stressing that it all boils down to the mindset of residents, Mohamad Ridzwan highlights the case of Rumah Pangsa Orkid, a low-cost flats property in Ulu Tiram, Johor, which made it into the Malaysia Book Of Records in 2014 for obtaining the ISO 9001:2008 standard for exemplary management.

“Until today, they remain the only low cost flat development to have achieved this,” he says, adding that there are yet to be any high-end condominiums accorded the same standard.

Mohamad Ridzwan says the ministry will continue to actively educate dwellers on proper management of their properties.

“We will embark on more education programmes to promote better practices through advertisements in the mass media,” he says.

On the Strata Management Tribunals to hear disputes, Mohamad Ridzwan says four such tribunals have been successfully set up to cover different zones in Peninsular Malaysia.

“Since their formation the tribunals have heard about 200 cases per month,” he says.

In March, Sunday Star reported that residents who do not pay maintenance fees and other charges were set to face the music, with the Government forming a team to strengthen the enforcement of the Strata Management Act.

The Act also enables residents to take their disputes to a Strata Management Tribunal to settle matters.

Building Managers Association of Malaysia committee member Richard Chan agrees that the “biggest and most critical” problem is the collection of fees, saying that it is rare that JMBs or MCs are able to collect payment from 80% of residents.

“It is more common for the collection rate to be at 40% or 50%,” he says.

Chan laments that petty excuses are often given by residents to defend their refusal to pay up.

“Some refuse because they don’t use the facilities.

“When people ask why they don’t want to pay, they simply say they don’t swim or play tennis,” he shares.

Chan adds that many unit owners live elsewhere or are based overseas and so are reluctant to pay.

“Some are not satisfied with services like garbage collection and defy orders to settle the fees,” he says.

He urges future condo owners to refrain from buying properties that come with all sorts of facilities if they are unwilling to pay up.

“Sometimes, it isn’t about whether they can afford the fees or service charges. It is about their attitude and mentality.

“Some don’t pay simply because their neighbours are not paying and are getting away with it,” Chan says, adding that such attitudes have resulted in some apartments owing up to RM200,000 in water and electricity bills.

The lack of money in the sinking fund also hinders JMBs and MCs from paying for major works like repairing lifts.

“It becomes a vicious cycle. Because people are not satisfied with the upkeep of the place, they do not pay the fees.

“But when they do not pay, there isn’t enough funds for upkeep,” he says.

Also, developers must do their part by informing all potential property buyers of the exact amount of all service charges, says Chan.

“Developers will try to promote their projects for more sales but they should also inform buyers of the fees they are expected to pay.

“Owners should also consider that, after a year, the fees may go up as warranty periods for equipment expire,” he says.

Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations secretary-general Datuk Paul Selvaraj says many complaints against MCs have been made to the federation.

“High-end condominiums are generally better managed. We received a lot of complaints from people in medium cost apartments,” he says.

He says that consumers and the building management should both be more responsible.

“Consumers need to settle payments that they have agreed to. But they should also be receiving good service in return, like efficient rubbish collection,” he says.

Selvaraj highlights that the only way forward is for management bodies and residents to have a good working relationship.

“People should understand that managing their building is a collective responsibility.

“More dialogues should be held on how to improve the community to ensure good quality of life wherever we live,” he adds.

by Yuen Meikeng The Star/Asia News Network

More professionalism needed in managing high-rises


WITH more high-rises mushrooming, a Building Managers Board is urgently needed, according to Tan Sri Teo Chiang Kok, deputy president of the Building Managers Association of Malaysia (BMAM).

BMAM is an umbrella body comprising stakeholder organisations representing management corporations (MCs), joint management bodies (JMBs), chambers of commerce, developers, engineers, architects, shopping and high-rise complex managers, and managing agents.

Appealing to the Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry to set up the board urgently, Teo says such a body is long overdue.

“Millions of stratified properties are coming up. Building management is becoming a very big industry. We have to start regulating. All building managers must be registered and regulated,” he says.

To date, some 600 building managers have voluntarily registered with the association, he shares, estimating that there are probably tens of thousands more.

Meanwhile, the BMAM is focused on educating its members and interested parties on good management via collaborations with institutions of higher learning.

Describing building management as a multitasking, multi­discipline function that attracts people from various backgrounds and with a variety of skills, Teo says that basic criteria for the role is needed. A Building Managers Board, once set up, will have guidelines and regulations to bring professionalism to the role.

Persons deregistered by the board cannot be hired as property managers, he suggests. This, he feels, will make hiring building managers cheaper while ensuring that they are monitored.

“So long as they fulfil the board’s requirements, anyone can be a building manager. The board will monitor and weed out the errant ones. JMBs and MCs can hire cheaper, smaller companies, even individuals, to manage their buildings if they don’t have the budget.”

Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Ministry urban service division undersecretary Mohammad Ridzwan Abidin acknowledges the proposal to set up a Building Managers Board.

“However, no decision can be made by the ministry yet as this matter is still being discussed,” he says.

He says the ministry issued a directive to Commissioners of Buildings nationwide last month to register all managing agents to protect residents from unscrupulous parties.

The BMAM would also like to see the country’s 150-plus Commissioners of Buildings (COB) given proper funding and staff. The role of the commissioner is mostly undertaken by local council heads or mayors, which isn’t right because they already have so much on their plate, he says.

The Commissioner of Buildings must be a dedicated, full-time position supported by an adequately funded department. Now, it’s mainly a one-man show, he observes.

“The Act is a good tool,” he says, referring to the Strata Management Act 2013, “But it’s for the COB to implement it efficiently. An effective COB can nip many things in the bud – the COB can call a unit owner, find out the grouses and give directives. If the COB can offer easy resolution, a lot of problems will be solved.”

Apart from supporting the position of COB, JMBs and MCs must familiarise themselves with the Strata Management Act, says Richard Chan, a committee member of the Building Managers Association of Malaysia and a past president of the Malaysian Association for Shopping and High-Rise Complex Management.

“For instance, many aren’t aware that money collected should go to JMBs and MCs – not the companies or individuals hired to manage the property. What if these companies don’t pay the service contractors?”

On Tuesday, a full-day strata management seminar will be held at Wisma Rehda in Petaling Jaya, Selangor, to explain the Act, he says, urging stakeholders to attend the event.

Teo feels that the Act is too harsh on JMB volunteers. Calling it a thankless job, he says it’s difficult getting residents to even attend AGMs, what more serve on the JMB.

“Despite not being paid, JMB members risk personal liability actions. It’s too onerous. It’s overkill because there are already laws like the Penal Code which imposes fines and jail terms.”

And he feels that the Act places too many obstacles in front of willing volunteers.

“The JMB chairman and members can only serve for two and three years respectively. Such restrictions will make things worse because as it is, no one wants the job. Our solution is to extend the chairman’s term to three years; but if at the AGM there’s no one else who wants the post, he or she should be allowed to stay on. And members should be permitted to stay on for as long as they want.” -  The Star

Related articles:

Defeating the defaulters
It's a crime not to pay 
Why some people don't comply


The Star Online-Sep 24, 2016
Record-breaking: Rumah Pangsa Orkid is the first low-cost property to achieve the top standard for quality management.

Room for improvement

THERE are mixed views, but apartment and condominium residents generally agree that there is room for improvement in managing their ....

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May 28, 2015 ... There are (or will soon be) more people living in high-rise strata ... New beginning in ... Managing strata properties in Malaysia Sep 11, 2012

Dec 22, 2012 ... There are (or will soon be) more people living in high-rise strata properties than in landed properties, given the rapid urbanisation and rising ...
 
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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Vital to know your rights when get arrested; comments on social media not be a serious crime

Know the law: Citizens need to know how to react if approached or arrested by police.
http://clips.thestar.com.my.s3.amazonaws.com/Interactive/police/police.mp4

YOU wake up, read the latest news updates on your mobile phone, retweet some interesting comments, and post your own reactions. Just another ordinary day, right?

Wrong. If you are not careful, that retweet or comment might land you in legal hot water.

Former journalist Sidek Kamiso found himself in that predicament early last week when a band of plain-clothed policemen banged on his door at 4.40am to arrest him for an alleged Twitter insult. They had not only come for him at an ungodly hour but also reportedly jumped over the fence to forcefully nab him.

After checking their identification, Sidek had let them in, although they did not produce an arrest warrant. The police officers then searched the house, confiscating his phone and laptop before dragging him away in handcuffs to the police station.


The conduct of the police and the nature of that alleged offence notwithstanding, how many of us would have just opened the door when the intruders commanded, “We are the Police! Open the door!” and let them in?

Confirming the police officers’ identity first is extremely important, stresses Sevan Doraisamy, executive director of human rights advocate group Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram).

Many Malaysians are too quick to obey whatever the police tell them to do without first confirming the officers’ identity, says Sevan.

“We always advise the public to ask the police to identify themselves and show their identity card when they are stopped on the street by someone who claims to be the police or when the police go to their house,” he adds, highlighting the public workshops on human rights and the police that Suaram has been holding for more than a decade.

It is normal for policemen on duty on the ground to be in plain clothes, which is why it is crucial to establish their identity.
Eric Paulsen (C) arriving at the lobby of Kuala Lumpur court to have his sedition charge read to him.AZHAR MAHFOF/The Star 06 Feb 2015
Eric Paulsen (C) arriving at the lobby of Kuala Lumpur court to have his sedition charge read to him.AZHAR MAHFOF/The Star 06 Feb 2015 The laws like the CPC and IGP’s Standing Order clearly protects a person’s fundamental liberties, but they are also general. - Eric Paulsen

Senior level police officers, from the rank of Inspector and above, carry blue IDs, while constables and below carry yellow cards. Reserve police carry white IDs while red is for suspended policemen.

According to Suaram, when making arrests, conducting raids, roadblocks or body searches, a police officer of at least the rank of Inspector (with a blue ID) must be present.

“You can also ask them which police station they are from and call it to verify the officers’ identity,” says Sevan.

Another safeguard against unlawful arrests or violations of a person’s civil rights is the police warrant.

The Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar has asserted that an arrest warrant was not necessary when the police arrested Sidek at his home in Petaling Jaya, as the alleged offence, over a tweet on the death of PAS spiritual leader Datuk Dr Haron Din, fell under the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) 1998.

“For this offence, a warrant is not needed. For offences under the (CMA) Act, there is no need for warrants. There is no need for a warrant to detain and no need for a warrant to search homes,” he reportedly said.

The local legal fraternity was quick to refute him.

According to lawyer Siti Kasim, who represented Sidek’s family, a warrant was necessary in his case as arrests made under the CMA generally requires a warrant.
Universiti Sains Malaysia’s (USM) Research Team on Crime and Policing head Assoc Prof Dr P. Sundramoorthy. (CHARLES MARIASOOSAY/ The Star/06/ March 2016).
Universiti Sains Malaysia’s (USM) Research Team on Crime and Policing head Assoc Prof Dr P. Sundramoorthy. (CHARLES MARIASOOSAY/ The Star/06/ March 2016). 'Police personnel who violate criminal laws and other regulations will have to face the consequences'.

Lawyer Syahredzan Johan concurred, explaining that although the police have general powers to make arrests without warrants, they can only do so for offences that are listed as seizable offences under the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), namely those carrying the maximum jail sentence of three years and above.

But for offences under the CMA which carry a maximum jail term of one year, the police would need a warrant when making arrests, he reportedly said.

Conceding that the details of the law might be beyond a layman’s grasp, Sevan advises members of the public to always demand for a warrant when they are being arrested.

What is important, he adds, is that any arrest can only be made after adequate investigation has been conducted on a case.

“You cannot be arrested if you are a witness or just to assist the police in an investigation.

“Always ask if you are being arrested, and for what charge or under what Act. There is no harm in also asking for the warrant,” he notes, adding that in any CMA case, the investigation should first be conducted by the country’s Internet regulator, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), before any police arrest.

And just like in the American cop movies and television series, when we are arrested in Malaysia, our fundamental rights are guaranteed, as stipulated under the Federal Constitution, the amended CPC and the IGP’s Standing Order on Arrest, says Sevan.

Just don’t expect to be read the Miranda Rights, those words many of us have grown up hearing on the telly: “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you.”

Still, as stated on the Malaysian Bar website, our right to remain silent and refuse to answer any questions when arrested is guaranteed by the Federal Constitution.

Under the Constitution, a person also has a fundamental right to be informed of the grounds of his arrest as soon as possible, as well as a right to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice.

These rights are clearly spelt out and reiterated under Section 28A of the CPC which came into force in September 2007: An arrested person has the right to be informed as soon as may be the grounds for this arrest; to contact a legal practitioner of his choice within 24 hours from the time of his arrest; to communicate with a relative or friend of his with regards to his whereabouts within 24 hours from the time of his arrest; and the right to consult with his lawyer and the lawyer is allowed to be present and to meet the arrested person at the place of detention before the police commences any form of questioning or recording of any statement from the person arrested.
SEVAN DORAISAMY TAMAN SRI CHERAS HOUSING PROJECT ABANDONED COORDINATOR
SEVAN DORAISAMY TAMAN SRI CHERAS HOUSING PROJECT ABANDONED COORDINATOR 'Ask if you are being arrested, and for what charge or under what Act. There is no harm in also asking for the warrant'. - Sevan Doraisamy

“We always advise those arrested to remain silent in order not to unknowingly incriminate themselves or be forced to make a confession. You can also say, ‘Saya jawab di mahkamah.’ (I’ll answer or say it in court),” Sevan notes.

As for family members, he advises them to get the name of the police station that the arresting police officers are from and are taking their loved one to.

At the police station, he adds, they need to get the name of the Investigating Officer (IO) of the case and his or her contact details.

“The good thing now is that the police’ public communications have greatly improved, and the IO will usually give out their handphone numbers to the family members,” he says, commending Sidek and his wife, Norlin Wan Musa, who is also a former journalist, for knowing and exercising their rights when the police took Sidek to the Johor Baru police station without informing her, and when they allegedly intimidated her and tried to harass their children.

Unfortunately, says Sevan, many Malaysians don’t know their rights when they get arrested, making it easy for errant police officers to intimidate them or abuse their rights.

Lawyers for Liberty executive director Eric Paulsen concurs, stressing that the police also need to act responsibly and reasonably, in accordance to their Standard Operating Procedure when conducting an arrest.

“The laws like the CPC and IGP’s Standing Order clearly protects a person’s fundamental liberties, but they are also general, especially in their wording.

“They were drafted with the expectation that the police would act reasonably and without bias in accordance to their SOP,” he says, describing the police conduct in the arrest of Sidek and two others in relation to the “Twitter insult” as excessive and an abuse of police powers.

Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) chief Tan Sri Razali Ismail urges the police to defend civil liberties in Malaysia rather than repress the exercise of human rights.

“In essence, the police should be the face of human rights, and not a face of intimidation, even as the police needs to be the bulwark of the country’s security. Regulations are being promulgated in a sweeping fashion that will have the effect of threatening democratic practice and undermine the fundamental liberties enshrined in the Federal Constitution,” he had reiterated in his speech at the Malaysian Bar’s International Law Conference in Kuala Lumpur last week.

Khalid has given assurances that the police are subject to the laws and regulations enshrined in the Constitution.

“If we flout the laws, action will be taken against us. We are also subjected to the laws and regulations under the Constitution. So are the Members of Parliament,” he told a press conference after a dialogue with Universiti Utara Malaysia students in Sintok, Kedah, on the role of undergraduates in overcoming national security threats.

Universiti Sains Malaysia criminologist, Assoc Prof Dr P. Sundramoorthy agrees that nobody should be above the law, especially the police.

“Police personnel who violate criminal laws and other regulations will have to face the consequences. Everyone who gets arrested has equal rights under the Federal Constitution and the CPC, irrespective of the nature of the case, so the police and the prosecution need to adhere to the law without bias. If they did not follow the SOP that is clearly spelt out then they should have to face the legal consequences, ”he says.

Critically, he adds, it is important for the general public to be aware of the laws of the land and their rights.

“Especially now that social media is an integral and pervasive part of our day-to-day lives. People need to be aware of the law – you make choices in life and you need to face their consequences.

“Similarly, you make your choice of tweeting and retweeting something or posting anything and making comments on social media, so you will have to bear the consequences.”

And as Dr Sundramoorthy puts it bluntly, “If you are so good at using social media, you should also be able to source the relevant information on the law and your civil rights online.

“If you are an expert on social media, you should be able to Google the dos and don’ts of when you are arrested, from the Malaysia Bar website and other civil society groups.”

By Hariati Azizan The Star/Asia News Network

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS


When Police stop you on the street

■ If cop not in uniform, ask to see his/her Police authority card. Note cop’s name and Police authority card number.
■ If cop in uniform, note cop’s name and ID on uniform, and number plate of vehicle.

When Police question you on the street
■ Only give your name, ID card number and address.
■ Politely ask, “Am I under arrest?”. You can walk away if you are not under arrest.

When Police call you for questioning to help in investigation

■ If the place and time is convenient for you, cooperate. Important: Police cannot arrest you if you are a witness.
■ If not, you can negotiate for a more convenient time and place with Police.

When Police arrest you

■ Ask why you are under arrest.
■ Ask which Police Station they are taking you to.
■ You have the right to telephone:* i) Your relative or friend ii) A lawyer or a nearby Legal Aid Centre (LAC)
► Inform them: - you have been arrested; - the time, place and reason of the arrest; - the Police Station you will be taken to.  

In police raids and searches

■ Demand for a warrant – raids without warrant are usually done when Police believe their suspect is in the building, stolen goods are hidden in the premises or some criminal activity is going on there.

After arrest and during detention

You may be detained up to 24 hours at the Police Station, or in a lock-up to “assist” police investigation.

YOUR BASIC RIGHTS WHEN UNDER ARREST


Right to remain silent
The Federal Constitution gives you the right to remain silent when questioned.

Right to counsel
 - Under Article 5(3) of the Federal Constitution, an arrested person also has the right “to consult and be defended by a legal practitioner of his choice”.
- Section 28A of Criminal Procedure Code, which came into force in 2007, also gives an arrested person the right to consult a lawyer.
- The Police must accord you reasonable facilities and a reasonable time period to meet and consult your lawyer. This right can be denied if the delay in questioning you may cause the occurrence of another crime or cause danger to others.

Right to clothing You are allowed to have one set of clothing with you in the lock-up.

Right to personal belongings
The Police must record and put all your personal belongings in safe custody. Your personal belongings must be returned to you upon your release.

Right to welfare - You are allowed to take a bath two times a day. If you are sick, you have the right to receive immediate medical attention. - You are to be given proper and adequate food and water during detention.

The Police may only detain you for up to 24 hours for investigation.
It is the Police’s duty to complete their investigations within 24 hours and release you as soon as possible. Failing that, the Police must bring you before a Magistrate for a remand order to extend your detention beyond 24 hours (Remand Order).


For more information, check out the Malaysian Bar's Redbook pamphlet at http://bit.ly/KBZhlw

Source: The Malaysian Bar, Suaram

Making comments on social media should not be a serious crime, says don


TWO years ago, a 17-year-old boy was investigated for sedition when he “liked” a pro-Israel Facebook post. When questioned by the police, the student had explained that he had accidentally clicked “like” for the post that read “I love Israel” and featured a picture of the Jewish state’s flag.

We will see more and more “insensitive” and “ill-advised” online postings like this – either done intentionally or not – with the Internet and social media growing as an integral and pervasive part of our daily life, says Universiti Sains Malaysia criminologist, Assoc Prof Dr P. Sundramoorthy.

“We have seen this trend of ‘slanderous’, ‘defamatory’ and ‘insensitive’ remarks constantly being made by all segments of society. It is not limited to people in leadership positions or prominence, ordinary people are also making these comments, including the young.”

As he sees it, stopping people from expressing themselves when they have access to these channels will be impossible.

“We can’t stop people from using the Internet and social media, and many will use them without thinking of the consequences. The question is where do you draw the line for freedom of expression?” he poses.

“For the proponents of absolute freedom of expression, they will say it’s the right of the people to express themselves.

“People who are against absolute freedom of expression will say that this freedom will create chaos, disharmony and trouble in general, and they will prefer some sort of censorship.”

The issue was thrust under the spotlight again recently with the arrest of three people under the Communications and Multimedia Act (CMA) 1998 for their Twitter comments over the death of PAS spiritual adviser Datuk Dr Haron Din.

This time around, the glare was on the police conduct during the arrests – the police had allegedly trespassed into the compound of former journalist Sidek Kamiso’s house in the wee hours of the night to arrest him for his tweet, traumatising his wife and children. The police had also allegedly searched his house without a warrant while denying him his right to contact his family and lawyer after his arrest.

While he believes that it depends on the laws of the land, Dr Sundramoorthy feels that social media boo-boos should not be treated as a crime per se.

“Granted, there are limitations on the subject matters that we can comment on as they can create racial or religious disharmony and other types of conflict among citizens here, but we need to take a reasonable approach towards it.”

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) executive director Sevan Doraisamy frankly describes the police action towards Sidek as “excessive and a waste of resources”.

He says many of the CMA cases undertaken by the police do not meet the criteria of hate speech and dangerous speech to justify arrests or prosecution. In fact, he stresses, the cases are a “severe threat” to freedom of expression.

“If you ask me, ‘insensitive comments’ should not be an arrestable crime. It is also unacceptable that just because of one or two incidences of inadvisable comments, the Government should curb the freedom of expression of everyone.”

He points out that CMA cases can be investigated without physical detention. “If the police receive reports on alleged insensitive comments, they should not waste their resources to arrest the people, they can just call them in to give their statement.

“And the top officers do not need to get involved, especially when there are more serious crimes and security issues in the country – for instance, we have hundreds of people still missing from unsolved abduction and kidnapping cases,” he says. “Crucially, there is no need for those detained in Petaling Jaya to be taken to Johor Baru for investigations, for example, as it is a waste of public resources.”

Sevan, however, concedes that Malaysians need to be more responsible when using social media.

“It should not be a crime – people have a right to express themselves – but they need to be responsible about what they post or comment on.

“While they continue to assert their freedom of expression, people should also realise that they don’t need to comment on everything and anything, especially if they know that it might lead to slander or instigate something. We are still living in a sensitive society entrenched in racial and communal politics. You don’t want to get caught in the middle of it,” he says.

Denying that they are making light of hate speech, Lawyers for Liberty executive director Eric Paulsen contends that the Government and Malaysian authorities need to come to terms with social media.

“Nobody is saying that the Internet and social media should be free for all – if someone promotes hate or threatens someone with murder or rape online, or if they are cyber terrorists, then police should take action against them. But they need to be fair, and the legal action should be proportionate.

“We should not prosecute someone for a mere comment – no matter how unsavoury or insulting we think it is. Without any serious element of hate speech or real element of incitement to violence or harm it should not be a crime.”

Paulsen also believes that the police conduct in the arrest of Sidek was excessive, calling it “overkill”.

Declining to comment on whether there is a need to review the CMA or enforce a hate speech law, Paulsen says what is needed is a review of police policies.

“What are their priorities in crime fighting? What constitutes serious crime for the police? Anywhere in the world, corruption, criminal breach of trust, robbery and murder are traditionally considered the serious crimes and resources are channelled towards fighting them. Unfortunately in Malaysia, a lot of our resources are wasted on frivolous cases like this.” - The Star

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Canny Ong murder case remember? Killer Ahmad Najib finally hanged at Kajang prison


Ahmad Najib Aris (center). - Filepic

PETALING JAYA: After spending 11 years on death row and having exhausted all his appeals, Ahmad Najib Aris (pic) was finally executed for the 2003 murder of Canny Ong.

The former aircraft cabin cleaning supervisor, who killed Ong after abducting her from a shopping complex in Bangsar, was hanged early yesterday.

A Kajang prison spokesman said Ahmad Najib, 40, was executed at about 6am and his body was later buried at the Sungai Kantan Muslim cemetery in Kajang.

He said Ahmad Najib was allowed to meet his family members for the last time on Thursday.

Ahmad Najib’s former lawyer Mohamed Haniff Khatri Abdulla described him as a “good Muslim” while in jail.

He said prison officials had told him that Ahmad Najib became a good Muslim, and often led prayers in jail and also taught other inmates about religion.

“To me, at least the time he was in prison, he was a better person than many outside,” he told The Star.

Ahmad Najib was sentenced to death by the Shah Alam High Court on Feb 23, 2005, for murdering Ong, then 28, at the 11th kilometre of Jalan Klang Lama between 1am and 5am on June 14, 2003.

He was also given the maximum jail term of 20 years and ordered to be given 10 strokes of the rotan for raping Ong.

In March 2009, the Federal Court upheld his death sentence for the crimes committed against Ong, whose charred remains were found in a manhole near a highway construction site.

Ong, an IT-analyst living in the United States with her husband Brandon Ong, was back in Malaysia to visit her ailing father.

On June 13, 2003, a day before she was due to return to the United States, Ong went out for dinner with some family members and close friends at the Bangsar Shopping Complex.

After the meal, she went to the basement car park to retrieve the parking ticket from her car. She asked her mother and sister to wait for her by the autopay machine.

Ong never returned.

After waiting for 20 minutes, Ong’s mother Pearly Visvanathan Ong and her sister decided to look for her in the car park.

When they went down they found the car, a purple Proton Tiara, missing.

Sensing something bad had happened to her daughter, Pearly ran to the mall’s security office to view the CCTV tapes.

The tapes confirmed their worst fears. They saw Ong being abducted by a man who drove off with her in her car, crashing past the exit barrier of the car park.

Days later, Ong’s charred remains were found in a manhole along Old Klang Road in Kuala Lumpur.

Forensic and criminal investigators found evidence that led to the arrest of Ahmad Najib.

The news of Ong’s murder was covered widely by the media and followed intently by the public.

The randomness of the crime – Ahmad Najib had no apparent motive – made it all the more horrific and prompted many unsolicited and baseless conspiracy theories much to the dismay of Ong’s loved ones.

by Jastin Ahmad Tarmizi The Star/Asia News Network

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Jul 13, 2012 ... ... of probably the most-publicised case of car park abduction and assault in the country. ... Canny Ong, after being abducted in Bangsar, was raped, murdered ..... Moneylender gunned down in broad daylight in Kuala Lumpur.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Xiamen University shaping up to be the largest foreign university campus in Malaysia

 Xiamen University Malaysia Campus

Video: First ever Chinese overseas campus opens in Kuala Lumpur
CCTV News - CCTV.com English http://english.cctv.com/2016/09/23/VIDEQAcbMXh1wwYcpf2mzJGF160923.shtml#.V-S9c6xl6C4.twitter

In Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, students have this week been enrolling at the first Chinese university to open a campus overseas.

Officials feel it is more than just an educational ventune, it is also a way to advance good relations between China and its southeast Asian neighbors, as well as promoting the inclusive Belt & Road initiative.

A specially chartered Xiamen Airlines plane brought this special, first group of students to Kuala Lumpur. In all, 440 students from 14 Chinese provinces will be arriving this week to take their places at the emerging new campus of Xiamen University in Malaysia. They all scored top marks in China’s university entry exams and chose to be part of this pioneering educational venture.

“In terms of the quality, in terms of the size of the batch of students, and in terms of the procedures, this is unprecedented in terms of Malaysia’s tertiary education history. So it’s really a big day for us too,” said Professor Wang Ruifang President, Xiamen University Malaysia.

A specially chartered Xiamen Airlines plane brought this special, first batch of students to Kuala Lumpur.
A specially chartered Xiamen Airlines plane brought this special, first batch of students to Kuala Lumpur.

It’s also a big day for the students.

“First is excited, because it’s an opportunity for me to develop, and it’s an opportunity for me to enjoy the cultural diversity,” said Zhu Wen, student, Xiamen University Malaysia.

The Chinese students will join students from Malaysia and later around South East Asia. Numbers will eventually swell to 10,000 at what is shaping up to be the largest foreign university campus in Malaysia. All courses will be taught in English, except for Chinese studies and Traditional Chinese Medicine.

At a recent meeting with Southeast Asian leaders, Chinese premier Li Keqiang said China wants to strengthen its relationship with ASEAN in a number of key areas, including people to people ties, and in particular, education.

The university says it hopes to advance that aim as well as China’s One Belt, One Road initiative, something the Chinese students are well aware of.

“The Malaysia campus is based on China’s Belt and Road initiative so I think to come to the Malaysia campus is to put our hands on the ark of history and combine historical process and our personal development together,” said Wu Hanyang, student.

A lofty goal, perhaps, but in keeping with what this campus is really about: Meeting the highest academic standards while helping China and ASEAN deepen their social, cultural, strategic and economic cooperation.

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Thursday, September 22, 2016

New ways to beat superbugs, a Malaysian doctorate student discovered?


A Malaysian doctorate student is causing a buzz in the medical research field.

 Lam Shu Jie (pic), 25, and her team of researchers may have found a solution to the antibiotic-resistant bacteria commonly known as “superbugs”.

The team from Melbourne School of Engineering published a paper on Monday on a new treatment method.

Shu Lam A 25 year-old Melbourne Uni student has made a discovery that could be a game-changer for modern medicine and avert a serious health crisis.

The method uses star-shaped structures called structurally nano-engineered anti-microbial peptide polymers (SNAPPs).

SNAPPs are found to be highly effective in killing Gram-negative bacteria – a class of bacteria which is antibiotic resistant – without hurting healthy cells, according to the team’s article in Nature Microbiology.

Unlike antibiotics which attempt to kill the bugs chemically, the star-shaped protein molecules defeat them by “ripping apart their cell walls”.

She also found that it was important to have outside interest due to the research work's long hours and possibility of failure..

"I've just watched the Korean movie called 'Train to Busan'. I also like trying new cuisines and exploring cafes here because the food culture's very strong," she laughed..

She lamented that the initial experiments were daunting, which left her in fear..

"My experiments kept failing, but later I learned what went wrong. I like the investigating part of research. It's beyond being in the labs or reading books; it's also about speaking with other experts," she said..

The second child of three siblings still has strong ties with home..

"I try to come back for the Chinese New Year because I miss my family," she said while lamenting the loss of her father last year..

Despite her supervisor Prof. Greg Qiao reportedly saying that her research is still at its early stage, Lam has plans to continue her research in the field, while in the long-term, she expressed hope to establish a research group with experts upon returning home and also lecture..

She will complete her PhD in two months time..

The scientific breakthrough was picked up by many news portals including Science Daily, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation and the South China Morning Post.

Lam told South China Morning Post that she spent the past three and a half years researching polymers and how they can be used to kill antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

The Batu Pahat lass, who is to submit her PhD thesis in two months, admitted that she hoped to continue to work in research, rather than opt for medical training like her father who is a paediatrician.

“I think my career will be mainly focused on research in the medical field,” said Lam.

Her supervisor Prof Greg Qiao, who is also one of the 10 co-authors of the scientific journal, said the research was still in its early stages.

He told South China Morning Post that more work was needed to verify the best formula and structure, as well as determine dosage and test for toxicity, before the substance could be deemed safe for human use.

“Even with all the money in the world, it would take at least five years to get to the first human-test stage because many resources and much work are needed before commercialisation,” he said.

Superbugs stem from misuse or overuse of antibiotics, according to the World Health Organisation.

It lists anti-microbial resistance as a global concern that threatens our ability to treat common infectious diseases, resulting in prolonged illness, disability and death. The Star/Asia News Network.

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6 days ago - South China Morning Post .... The World Health Organisation lists superbugs as a key threat to human ... I have developed an interest in food and really like exploring new cafes ... Lam moved to Australia for her foundation studies after finishing .... Peter Wong says tougher banking regulation is on the way.

“I think my career will be mainly focused on research in the medical field,” said Lam, who has already begun pursuing her passion in polymer research during her four-year undergraduate degree in chemical and biomolecular engineering.

“As an undergraduate, she would come to our group for summer work when she had time,” Qiao recalled of Lam.


These days when Lam finds the rare downtime between researching polymers, she likes to watch TV and explore the city. “Being in Melbourne, I have developed an interest in food and really like exploring new cafes and brunch places, so I spend a lot of time trying new food and walking around when I’m not working,” Lam said.

Lam moved to Australia for her foundation studies after finishing primary and secondary school in Malaysia, and is likely stay on in Australia after graduating at the end of the year.

“My main preference would be to continue to stay in research, but I am also looking at career fields outside of polymer research,” she said. “This research is going in different directions,” said Qiao. “One is killing the bug, the other is treating cancer.”

Her group is also examining the use of polymers as a drug carrier for cancer patients as well as the treatment of other diseases.

A key project at the moment is the synthetic transplant of cornea in the eye, which involves the use of polymers grown from the patient’s own cells in the lab to replace the damaged cornea.

The operation has already been tested multiple times successfully on sheep, and Qiao hopes to begin the first human trials in Melbourne within two years, working with the Melbourne Eye and Ear Hospital.


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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

PBA in a fix over Penang water cut; billion litres water waste via leaky pipes

Water letdown: Residents waiting for their pails to be filled by a PBAPP employee during the water cut.

Buckets of frustrations

Delay in repairs on a leaking pipeline at Medan Pantai Jerejak causes a host of problems for folk in the southern part of Penang island as unexpected water cuts disrupt their daily activities.



Users left high and dry as rain delays repair works on leaking pipeline


MORE than 80,00 people from Bukit Dumbar to the southern areas of Penang island were fuming over the delay in the return of water supply.

A reader called The Star claiming that he could not get through to the Penang Water Supply Corporation Sdn Bhd (PBAPP) hotline for an explanation after the water supply to his condominium was cut off on Monday morning.

Peter Lee, 58, a manager, said his friends in Batu Uban faced a similar problem.

Housewife K.L. Lim, 63, from Sungai Nibong said her family ran out of drinking water and had to buy water from shops.

“We did not stock up on water since we did not know about the matter. There is still water for showers but not enough for drinking,” she said.

At SJK (C) Kwang Hwa in Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah, Sungai Nibong, the water disruption resulted in the school using water from fire hydrants in the school premises.

A representative from the school said the water cut began on Monday afternoon and only resumed at 1pm yesterday.

“We needed water for the toilets and canteen.

“We had to use pails to collect water from the three fire hydrants in the school to deal with the disruption until the water supply resumed,” said the representative.

During a press conference that was also attended by state Works, Utilities and Transportation Committee chairman Lim Hock Seng, PBAPP chief executive officer Datuk Jaseni Maidinsa apologised for the water disruption.

He said PBAPP detected a leak on a 900mm diameter pipeline at 9am on Monday at a river crossing at Medan Pantai Jerejak, near Sungai Besar.

The pipeline was then shut down for repair work, and a cofferdam built quickly to isolate the repair site.

Jaseni said they were ready to proceed with the repairs on the pipe at 9.45pm on Monday and had expected work to be completed by about 6am on Tuesday but “work was held up by 10 hours due to the heavy rain, high river water and high tides”.

“The welding work to reseal the leaking section of the pipeline could only commence after the site was finally drained at 7.45am on Tuesday.

“The challenge was to gain access to the leaking section of the pipeline overnight. We managed to meet the standard requirement by finishing the work in about 29 hours, as we are allowed up to 48 hours for repairs to pipes that are more than 600mm in diameter.

“It would have taken us only 19 hours without the delay, and we apologise to consumers. On-site work has been finalised and water supply should resume from 2pm,” he said at Komtar yesterday.

Jaseni said four water tankers were deployed to provide water to residents living on higher grounds.

He said PBAPP optimised the pumping of water from Bukit Dumbar via the two other key pipelines to all the southern areas of the island, including the Bayan Lepas Free Trade Zone and the Penang International Airport during the shutdown period.

It was reported that a new RM11.9mil water station at Bukit Dumbar could pump up to 270 million litres of water per day (MLD) to serve 315,000 people living in the southern parts of the island.

Its service areas cover Gelugor, Batu Uban, Sungai Nibong, Bayan Baru, Relau, Sungai Ara, Batu Maung, Bayan Lepas, Permatang Damar Laut, Teluk Kumbar, Gertak Sanggul, Genting and Balik Pulau.

By CHONG KAH YUAN and N. TRISHA kyuan@thestar.com.my

Billion litres water waste via leaky pipes



PETALING JAYA: More than 4.27 billion litres of treated water – enough to fill more than 1,700 Olympic-sized swimming pools or keep Perlis going for 53 days – are leaking out of the country’s ageing pipe system every day.

Experts warn that more will be wasted unless drastic measures are taken.

If saved, that amount of water could ease stressed water supplies in the Klang Valley, as fears of a shortage and rationing loom dangerously.

According to the National Water Services Commission (SPAN), non-revenue water (NRW) accounted for 36.6% of all water pumped out of treatment plants in 2013, or about 5.69 billion litres a day.

This was higher than 2012, which saw a 36.4% NRW.

Of this amount, at least 75% was due to problems like leaky asbestos-cement pipes and other infrastructure problems.

Association of Water and Energy Research (Awer) president S. Piara­pakaran said that unless the pipes were fixed, more water would be lost even with state governments rushing to build treatment plants to meet a growing local demand.

“When the Langat 2 plant is completed (in 2017), it will pump 1,130 million litres a day (mld). If things don’t change, 300mld will be just lost in the system,” he told The Star.

While a number of states have seen their NRW levels fall in 2013, others such as Selangor saw more water lost.

Malaysian Water Association (MWA) president Syed Mohamad Adnan Alhabshi said more than RM20bil had to be spent to replace the country’s 43,890km-long asbestos-cement pipes.

“You need to spend RM500,000 to change 1km of these pipes,” he said, adding that state governments did not have the money.

He said water operators were unable to invest in stopping NRW as tariffs were low, giving them low revenue.


This was also reflected in SPAN’s statistics – a deficit of RM429mil was incurred by all states combined last year.

MWA council member Hairi Basri said it was not easy to stop NRW as many of the problem pipes were underground.

MWA further estimated that if the country were to keep to SPAN’s NRW target of 25% today, the potential revenue operators could have made in 2013 was RM809.4mil.

SPAN executive director Mohd Ridhuan Ismail said combating NRW was more than just fixing or replacing leaky pipes.

Measures, he said, included mapping pipe networks, setting up district metering zones and a constant pressure management and maintenance of the system.

“It is not a one-off effort and the entire exercise requires huge investment,” he told The Star.

He said state governments were hampered by low water tariffs and could not invest in NRW reduction measures, adding that human capital in this was also a challenge.

Mohd Ridhuan said many states had migrated their assets over to the Water Asset Management Com-pany (PAAB) to ensure their interests were protected.

He said states that had done so had managed to reduce their NRW substantially.

“SPAN believes that the remaining non-migrated states will be able to improve on their NRW once migrated,” he said.

 By Patrick Lee The Star 4 September 2014

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