Industry News

Govt takes various measures to deal with oil palm industry labour issue – Khairuddin

Datuk Dr Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali

KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 22): Forced labour is no longer an issue in the country following the implementation of various measures by the government to address the problem, including through the establishment of the mandatory Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil Certification (MSPO), effective Jan 1, 2021.

Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Dr Mohd Khairuddin Aman Razali said the MSPO, among others, required all industry players to comply with the condition of not using forced labour to obtain the certification.

In fact, he stressed that since the inception of the Movement Control Order (PKP) to curb Covid-19, the government has also banned the recruitment of new foreign workers for the plantation sector.

“The government instead encourages employers to hire local workers by providing Wage Subsidy where employers are paid RM300 per month for six months through funds amounting to RM6 million through the Malaysian Rubber Council, as well as RM36 million for downstream rubber sector activities to replace foreign workers with locals.

“Hence, with the policies implemented by the government, we can automatically address the issue of manual labour as there are no new foreign workers and there will be no issue of reimbursement of the cost of hiring foreign workers,” he said in an interview on TVAlHijrah’s ‘Assalamualaikum’ programme today.

Mohd Khairuddin was commenting on a report listing Malaysia in the 2020 List of Goods Produced by Child Labour by the United States Department of Labor in September 2020.

He said a study on the labour situation conducted by the ministry in the oil palm sector showed that there was only 0.8 per cent of forced labour occurrence in the country, especially in Sabah and Sarawak, particularly in the border districts of those states.

“The study, conducted in accordance with the International Labor Organisation (ILO) guidelines, was also tabled to the Cabinet in May with the intention of being published and sent to the ILO and the US Department of Labor,” he said.

He said the government is also committed to ensuring the welfare of employees, whether local or foreigners, are taken care of through enforcement at the lower levels, as well as through awareness programme.

Commenting on the prospects for the rubber and oil palm markets, he said the government was actively identifying new markets such as the African continent, as well as the US and European countries.

“In the oil palm industry, for example, we are confident that more than 400,000 smallholders are happy with the price of fresh fruit bunches which now reaches RM550-RM600 per tonne, while crude palm oil fetches RM3,000 per tonne,” he said. – Bernama

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MPs told to test for Covid-19 before Parliament reconvenes on Nov 2

KUALA LUMPUR (Oct 14): The Dewan Rakyat has directed federal lawmakers to take a Covid-19 test on October 30 or three days before the lower house of Parliament convenes its meeting on November 2.

In a letter yesterday by Dewan Rakyat secretary Nizam Mydin Bacha Mydin, MPs from Sabah were also reminded of his October 9 letter for them to undergo Covid-19 tests and 14-day quarantine.

As for MPs from other states or from Sabah but who were already outside of the state before travel to and from Sabah was temporarily barred, they will only be required to be tested for Covid-19 and will not need to undergo quarantine, he said.

For MPs not currently in Sabah, Nizam Mydin said they must be present for Covid-19 tests on October 30 (Friday) from 9am to 5pm by driving through the car park lane of Parliament’s main block.

While stating that MPs are encouraged to be tested for Covid-19 at Parliament, he said that they could also choose to do so at any of the nearest government clinics or hospitals by contacting the relevant state health department to set an appointment and are required to obtain the results from a doctor.

As for Covid-19 tests carried out at private hospitals or medical centres, Parliament will not be footing the bill for such tests, with the test also required to be of the Reverse Transcription – Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) type and to be done three days before the Dewan Rakyat reconvenes or three days before the MP attends the Dewan Rakyat meeting, and with test results to be emailed to the Dewan Rakyat secretary.

In the same letter, Nizam Mydin said MPs who fail to take Covid-19 tests or are found to have tested positive would be asked not to attend the Dewan Rakyat meeting.

The upcoming Dewan Rakyat meeting is for a period of 27 days from November 2 to December 15, with the government’s Budget 2021 scheduled to be tabled on November 6.

In view of limited flight services, Nizam Mydin said MPs who use such services are allowed to claim for accommodation costs based on flight dates by airlines and as verified by the MPs.

“In relation to that, the honourable members are advised and encouraged to remain in Kuala Lumpur throughout the Dewan Rakyat meeting to reduce the risk of Covid-19 spreading,” he said, adding that MPs can claim for accommodation costs and daily allowances throughout the Dewan Rakyat meeting from Parliament.

The letter was shared by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan who is in charge of Parliament and Law on his Facebook page yesterday. – Malay Mail

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Dr Noor Hisham soldiers on, to conduct ‘live’ press conferences from home while under quarantine

Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah

KUALA LUMPUR: Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah will continue updating Malaysians on the Covid-19 situation in the country, directly from his residence, where he is currently observing self-quarantine, after being exposed to a Covid-19 positive Cabinet minister.

“We are setting up and exploring the system. I have conducted my daily early morning meeting via video conferencing and now the regional WHO meeting,” he told Malay Mail when contacted.

His officer informed media members that the Health director-general would go ‘live’ on the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) Facebook page, alone, void of the usual media presence.

He is scheduled to go ‘live’ today at 5.30PM.

Dr Noor Hisham was one of the attendees of a high-level government meeting on October 3, which was also attended by a minister who tested positive for Covid-19.

In a statement yesterday, he said that all attendees of the meeting have been put under a 14-day home quarantine.

He also said the individual was asymptomatic but had been admitted and isolated in the hospital for treatment in accordance with existing protocols.

While Dr Noor Hisham did not specify any details regarding the individual and event, Religious Affairs Minister Datuk Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri yesterday admitted that he tested positive for Covid-19 minutes after the statement was issued.

Zulkifli’s Covid-19 diagnosis follows amid an exponential surge of Covid-19 cases nationwide over the past few days, with the country recording a new record-high of 432 cases today.

It is believed the event was a special National Security Council meeting on Covid-19 chaired by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin in Putrajaya.

Among those present in the meeting were Senior Minister (Security Cluster) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob; Senior Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof; Senior Minister of Education Radzi Jidin; Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba and related ministers.

Also present were Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador and Chief of Defence Force General Tan Sri Affendi Buang.

Dr Noor Hisham also said all those who were in attendance during the meeting subsequently underwent a health screening yesterday, along with a sample taken from them for test purposes.

“Close contact tracing and investigations are ongoing, including screening and swab tests for any signs of Covid-19.

“All identified close contacts have been provided a 14-days Home Surveillance Order (HSO) from the last date of their exposure,” he said in a statement here. — MalayMail



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Covid-19: Screening delay at KLIA due to too many passengers – Health DG

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah answering the questions by media after launching the 7th Malaysia Breast Nurse Care Meeting 2020 at the National Cancer Institute today. – Bernama photo

PUTRAJAYA (Sept 28): The long waiting time for passengers from Sabah to undergo Covid-19 screening at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) is not due to the lack of Health Ministry (MOH) staff but  as a result of overwhelming number of passengers.

Health director-general Tan Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said each passenger takes about 10 to 15 minutes but their turn may take a long time as there were many passengers.

“Screening of passengers for each flight is at least two hours or more. If more than one flight arrived at the same time, the time taken would be much longer.

“The problem is due to overwhelming number of passengers. So please wait and be patient,” he said on complaints and reports that passengers have to wait for up to six hours to take COVID-19 screening test.

When met after opening the 7th Malaysia Breast Care Nurse Meeting 2020 at the National Cancer Institute here today, Dr Noor Hisham said MOH had added 90 more personnel at the main terminal of KLIA and Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (klia2), bringing the number of health personnel to 400.

On Saturday, Dr Noor Hisham announced that the requirement for individuals arriving from Sabah to undergo Covid-19 screening at the arrival gate from Sept 27 until Oct 10.

Dr Noor Hisham who also visited KLIA at 3 am to 5 am today said the situation is under control and MOH staff are working double shifts for 16 hours.

According to him, the swab test is conducted via two methods, nasal and oral swabs and passengers would then be tagged with wristbands, briefed on Covid-19 and actions they must take.

Dr Noor Hisham said the results of the screening test on passengers from Sabah would be known in 24 to 72 hours.

“Those found positive would be sent to the hospital while those tested negative but have exposure to positive cases would be quarantined for 14 days,” he said.

Asked whether MOH would be giving any advice to Sabah as the election is over, Dr Noor Hisham said subsequent measures for Sabah would be announced today.

On Covid-19 cases reported in several shopping centres in the Klang Valley, Dr Noor Hisham said they could be due to individuals who are unware they are Covid-19 positive.

“When we received information (on Covid-19 cases) at shopping centres, the areas would be decontaminated as a preventive measure,” he said. – Bernama

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Body of missing man found in bushes at Jalan Padang Kerbau near Miri Hospital

The SAR team bringing the body out from the bushes to be sent to Miri Hospital.

MIRI (Sept 20): The Search and Rescue (SAR) team has found the body of 70-year-old Razaniee Tali who was reported missing after he went into the bushes at Jalan Padang Kerbau near Miri Hospital to look for vegetables yesterday morning.

Miri Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) chief Law Poh Kiong in a statement said Razaniee’s body was found in the bushes at about 200 metres from the operations control centre at the roadside by SAR team with the help from a police tracker dog at 11.10am.

Law said a SAR operation was launched last night after Razaniee was reported missing after the victim’s family member had lodged a missing person’s report.

Razaniee was reported to have left his house early yesterday to go into the bushes to look for vegetables.

According to a family member, he would usually return home in the afternoon.

However, until 5pm yesterday, the victim did not return home and his family members had tried to look for him in the bushes which he would usually go into to look for vegetables, but they only managed to find his hat and vegetables that had been left by the bush.

Bomba, which was alerted after the missing person’s report was lodged at Miri Central Police Station at around 11.25pm then dispatched four personnel from Miri Central fire station to the location.

The SAR operation was also participated the victim’s family members.

The body has been sent to Miri Hospital for a postmortem.

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Former Sabah DID director runs in Pantai Manis on Warisan ticket

Pantai Manis candidates (from left) Fauzi, Tamin, Yahiya, Mazreca and Awang Damit listening to a briefing by the returning officer.

PAPAR (Sept 12): Former Sabah Drainage and Irrigation Department director, Datuk Yahiya Awang Kahar Kassim, is facing a five-corner fight for Pantai Manis in his first foray in an election.

The Parti Warisan Sabah candidate was confident that he would win in the state polls on Sept 26.

“This is the first time I’m contesting in an election and for me, the chances (of winning) is always there. If I don’t think I can win, I will not have agreed to contest.

“So, I’m confident and with proper machinery already in operation, insyaallah,” Yahiya, 61, told reporters after nomination time ended today.

Yahiya is facing Awang Damit @ Awg Sahzain Pg Abd Razak of United Sabah National Organisation, Mazreca John of Liberal Democratic Party, Tamin Zainal of BN-Umno and Fauzi Ibrahim of Parti Cinta Sabah.

Returning Officer Ghulam Rasul Hapil announced the candidates at around 11am.

The seats incumbent is Warisan’s Aidi Mokthar who won the last election with a 2,108 majority after garnering 9,234 votes.

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Police cut power supply to 4 premises in Bintulu for unlicensed gambling activities

Police and SEB staff cutting off the electricity supply from one of the premises.

BINTULU (Sept 4): Four premises around Bintulu town area, mostly grocery stores, believed to be running unlicensed gambling activities had their electricity disconnected on Thursday afternoon.

Bintulu district police chief Supt Zulkipli Suhaili said in a statement today that the operation was carried out under Section 21A of the Common Gaming Houses Act 1953.

He said the integrated operation was jointly conducted with Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) from 3pm to 4pm.

“During the operation, four premises were found carrying out unlicensed gambling activities,” he said.

He said under Section 21A, police can request to disconnect power supply to the premises found to be sites of illegal gambling activities.

Zulkipli said it is an ongoing operation and more raids will be conducted to fight against the illegal activities.

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After vote, McDonald’s known as ‘Mekdi’ at 16 outlets in Malaysia as new signage appears in Kuching

The new ‘Mekdi’ signboard has also gone up at one of the popular McDonald’s outlets in Kuching. Photo by Chimon Upon

PUTRAJAYA (Aug 27): Malaysians recently voted for a ‘Mekdi’ signboard to be installed at their favourite McDonald’s outlet and now, in commemoration of Hari Merdeka and Hari Malaysia, 16 restaurants across Malaysia proudly bear this colloquial name.

The sign has also recently made its way to Kuching, where the McDonald’s frontage at Jalan Tunku Abdul Rahman in the centre of the city now sports a new ‘Mekdi’ signboard.

McDonald’s Malaysia vice president and marketing chief officer, Melati Abdul Hai, said it is also to say thank you to Malaysians for their support of the fast food chain since it established itself here 38 years ago.

“Known as ‘Mekdi’ among Malaysians, the McDonald’s brand keeps growing with customer support,” she said after a ‘Mekdi’ signboard unveiling ceremony at the McDonald’s restaurant in Putrajaya today.

In conjunction with the Merdeka Month celebration, McDonald’s has also added something new to the popular Nasi Lemak McD menu.

“Our customers can now choose to enjoy the aromatic nasi lemak, crispy ikan bilis, slices of cucumber, fried egg and hot sambal with Rendang Ayam,” Melati said, while adding there’s also a Spicy Chicken McDeluxe and Grilled Chicken Burger selection aside from the Ayam Goreng McD.

She said more local flavour has been added through the dessert menu with the McFlurry Cendol, Cendol ice cream and creamy corn pie.

On its expansion plans, Melati said McDonald’s plans to open 450 restaurants by 2025 as compared to the 300 there are now, and in line with that, recruit an additional 10,000 people to boost its around 14,000-strong workforce. — Bernama

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Malaysian bonds benefit from sustained foreign demand in July

KUCHING: Regional bond markets have seen a recent resurgence of foreign interest as sentiments improve on the resumption of economic activities.

According to RAM Ratings, another driving factor is the ample global liquidity from quantitative easing.

“Malaysian bonds have been popular, charting their third consecutive net foreign inflow in July by RM7.1 billion,” it said in a statement today.

“The consistent inflow had largely offset panic selling during the height of the pandemic, with the YTD-July net inflow currently standing at RM1.3 billion.

“Consequently, foreign holdings of MGS/GII rose to 23.5 per cent of the total outstanding in July, close to the 23.9 per cent in February – pre-Covid-19. In contrast, the participation rate in Thailand and Indonesia stayed on a downtrend despite also seeing a consistent return of foreign demand.

In line with robust foreign demand, RAM recapped that yields trended down through July. This broadbased decline was also driven by Bank Negara Malaysia’s fourth rate cut this year, for a total of 125 basis points (bps) year to date.

The benchmark interest rate stands at 1.75 per cent – the lowest since the introduction of this policy tool in 2004.

Concurrently, the benchmark 10-year Malaysian Government Securities (MGS) yield fell to a record low of 2.62 per cent as at end-July (dropping by 32.2bps month-on-month(m-o-m)) while the shorter term one-year MGS hit a fresh low of 1.78 per cent ( dropping 26.9bps m-o-m).

“Looking ahead, we expect domestic bond yields to stay suppressed amid the abundance of global liquidity and not discounting another round of Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) cuts by BNM.

“We think the OPR could possibly end 2020 at 1.50 per cent,” it opined.


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PISMP teachers achieve excellent performance – Radzi

Dr Radzi Jidin

KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 11): The performance of graduate teachers from Bachelor in Teaching Programme (PISMP) offered at Teacher Education Institutes (IPGs) is at an excellent level and meets the schools’ needs.

Senior Minister of Education Dr Radzi Jidin said based on the assessment conducted by school administrators from the period of 2015 until 2019, the IPG graduate teachers had an average score of 92 per cent and above.

“The MOE (Ministry of Education) implements an assessment method on the PISMP teachers by obtaining feedback from school administrators one year after they had started teaching and generally (school administrators) are satisfied with the teachers’ performance and quality,” he said during Minister’s Question Time at the Dewan Rakyat here today.

He was replying to a question raised by Dr Maszlee Malik (Bebas-Simpang Renggam) who wanted to know the measures and initiatives taken by the ministry in maintaining and improving the quality of PISMP so that the standard of teaching will always be excellent.

Radzi said MOE was always committed to empowering teacher’s education by strengthening the PISMP programme including its candidate selection process and curriculum in order to produce trained and competent teachers. – Bernama


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