ICT World - How far does it goes

THERE’S much talk in development circles these days about how much Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) such as computers, the internet and telephones, are contributing to poverty reduction and achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

World leaders have declared their common vision of the Information Society where “everyone can create, access, utilise and share information and knowledge, enabling individuals, communities and peoples to achieve their full potential in promoting their sustainable development and improving their quality of life”.

To what extent are the residents of Borneo able to enjoy the benefits of this emerging Information Society?

Borneo’s progress towards full and equal participation in the Information Society is unsurprisingly uneven. There are three scenarios;

Kalimantan makes up about one third of Indonesia’s total land mass, but its population of around 9 million people barely makes up 4 per cent of the country’s total. Overall, Indonesia is struggling to connect its population; there are 73 Indonesian internet users per 1,000 people, compared to 435 in Malaysia and 277 in Brunei.

There are only 14 computers for every 1,000 Indonesians, with 197 for every 1,000 Malaysians and 85 for every 1,000 Bruneians. Moreover, of Indonesia’s 70,000 rural villages, over 43,000 still do not have any telephone access.

Government plans to provide a telephone in every Indonesian village have fallen far short of expectations over recent years. So the prospects for an Information Society in Kalimantan remain bleak.

In Malaysia, whilst the Borneo states of Sarawak and Sabah have in some instances appeared at or close to the bottom of national development tables, the prospects for ICT infrastructure look better.

Sabah has only 7.9 internet users per 100 households, not the lowest among Malaysian states, but not far behind the national average of 10.4. Similarly, with 20.7 computers per 100 households, it fairs better than three other Malaysian states, but slightly short of the national average of 24.2.

It is the same for mobile phones. The picture is better for Sarawak, which averages 12.1 internet users per 100 households, 24.5 computers and 96.3 mobile phones, all above the national state averages.

In Brunei, where the annual GDP per capita for its 370,000 population averages US$25,600, for every 1,000 people there are 85 personal computers, 277 internet users and 847 fixed and mobile phones. This compares to 435, 197 and 943 respectively for Malaysia.

So there seem to be better prospects for a budding Information Society in the west and north of Borneo. However, as can be found everywhere, it is always the urban areas that enjoy access to ICTs first, with the rural areas being left behind.

So, as many Borneo residents live in rural, sometimes remote, locations, is it inevitable that they will continue to be excluded from the Information Society, despite the apparent progress in some places? Possibly not.

Started in 1998, the pioneering e-Bario Telecentre project, implemented by Universiti Malaysia Sarawak with funding from the Canadian and Malaysian governments, has demonstrated that remote communities can make good use of ICTs for their own development purposes.

By installing computers, telephones and internet facilities (via satellite) for public use, and then making good use of them, Bario has become an exemplary leader in rural development with ICTs.

The e-Bario project has won multiple international rewards; the implementing team is regularly called upon by international agencies to share its expertise and it has become a model for telecentre projects throughout Malaysia. When e-Bario began, the Government had no plans to install similar facilities anywhere else.

However, it recently announced its intention to establish a telecentre in every Malaysian mukim, all 927 of them, a process that is now under way in East Malaysia. It will be possible to obtain a first hand understanding of the project’s remarkable achievements by visiting the e-Bario Knowledge Fair in December 2007.

Oil tumbles below US$49 on gloomy economic outlook

Oil prices tumbled below $49 a barrel Monday as unease about the economy - from Asia to America - raised doubts about the global appetite for energy.

Benchmark crude for May delivery fell more than 7.6 percent, or $3.97, to settle at $48.41 on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

In London, Brent prices fell $3.19 to settle at $47.99 a barrel on the ICE Futures exchange.
Gasoline futures plunged more than 10 cents a gallon.

Jim Ritterbusch, president of energy consulting group Ritterbusch and Associates, said he expects oil to fall as low as $47 in advance of the U.S. crude inventory report, the monthly unemployment report and a meeting of the Group of 20 world leaders in London, all this week.

"Late in the week, all hell could break loose, but I don't know whether it makes the market go up or down," Ritterbusch said.

Most energy-market analysts found no fundamental reason for a rally this month that pushed oil prices from $40 per barrel to more than $50.

Crude inventories continue to build even with OPEC cutting production and domestic producers suspending oil projects.

Oil prices have moved higher as a spate of positive economic news heartened investors.
Just last week, markets rallied behind word of a new plan to resolve the nation's banking crisis and a report that consumer spending rose in February for a second straight month.

"None of these burned a single hydrocarbon or pulled a single gallon (of gasoline) from storage," the energy consultancy Cameron Hanover said in a note to clients Monday.

"By Friday, it was just too much macroeconomic news and not enough oil fundamental news that had pushed prices higher."

Traders began to sell positions on the final day of the week.

U.S. stock markets got off to a rocky start Monday after the White House rejected turnaround plans from General Motors Corp. and Chrysler.

The Dow Jones industrial average fell 300 points in late afternoon trading.
Losses by major corporations, from banking to the industrial sector, have boosted the amount of oil held in storage and weighed on prices.

The U.S. government last week said crude storage facilities were brimming with more oil than they've had in 16 years.

Combined with the strategic petroleum reserve, the nation now has 1.05 billion barrels of oil in storage - enough to fuel roughly 44 million cars for a year.

"You can't swing a cat without hitting a barrel of crude oil in the United States," analyst Stephen Schork said in his daily markets report Monday.

Crude is piling up as airlines, manufacturers, automakers and just about every other sector slow down and millions of workers lose their jobs. U.S. stores of natural gas also rose by 3 billion cubic feet to about 1.65 trillion cubic feet for the week ended March 20.

Natural gas prices have fallen to levels last seen nearly seven years ago as industries cut costs and slow factory production.

The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries has promised to slash production by 4.2 million barrels per day, but analysts are at odds about the level of compliance by OPEC members.

JBC Energy in Vienna cited data from tanker-tracking agency Petrologistics showing that March crude oil production from 11 OPEC nations would total 25.9 million barrels a day, more than 1 million barrels higher than the group's implied output ceiling of 24.845 million barrels a day.

Comments Monday by Qatar's oil minister suggested OPEC members may be facing a new reality because of a widespread recession.

Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah said he was "OK" with crude prices around $50 a barrel for 2009 and was "trying to be more pragmatic" regarding the global crisis and its effects on oil prices.

Just two weeks ago as OPEC ministers gathered in Vienna, Austria, there was still talk of $70 oil.
In other Nymex trading, gasoline for April delivery tumbled 10.8 cents to settle at $1.3799 a gallon while heating oil slipped 9.02 cents to settle at $1.3426 a gallon.
Natural gas for May delivery rose less than a penny to settle at $3.739 per 1,000 cubic feet. - AP

Economic crunch hits docs and patients

The economic slowdown is biting hard even in the medical profession, causing keen competition in government clinics, with private practitioners also scrambling to get a share of overtime payments.

Several government clinics are now operating much longer, up to 9.30pm daily, with doctors manning them paid RM80 an hour in overtime payments.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, who acknowledged the keen competition going on between government and private doctors for overtime payments, said:
“Many doctors, irrespective of whether they are in the government or private sector, are very keen to earn extra income these days.”

Liow said that to cater to the increasing number of patients seeking treatment at government clinics, the number of clinics providing outpatient treatment would be increased from 16 to 31 soon.

Besides these clinics, he said 59 hospitals were also providing similar treatment after office hours.

Patients pay RM1 each for outpatient treatment at government clinics, which record more than 50 million such visits annually.

With private practitioners charging at least RM15 per visit and with the economic slowdown causing people to tighten their belts, more and more patients are heading to government clinics.
“With more people seeking treatment at government clinics, opening up more such clinics between 5pm and 9.30pm will make it more accessible, especially for those who are working,’’ Liow said in an interview.

The minister said he had received feedback from private doctors on poor business in their clinics due to the economic slowdown.

On allegations that government doctors were being favoured over private practitioners to work overtime in the government clinics, he said:
“The faster approval for government doctors could be due to the fact that their credentials are readily available for checking.”

“As for the private doctors, it may take longer to verify them,’’ he said, adding that all doctors applied for the overtime online.


Tiga ketua sayap baru

Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, Khairy Jamaluddin dan Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin, masing-masing menang jawatan Ketua Pergerakan Wanita, Pemuda dan Puteri pada pemilihan ketiga-tiga sayap Umno itu, malam tadi. Shahrizat memperoleh 507 undi, jauh mengatasi Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz yang mendapat 280 undi, manakala Khairy memperoleh 304 undi menewaskan Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo (254) dan Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir (232). Rosnah pula mendapat 245 undi mengalahkan lima calon lain.

Kerusi Naib Ketua Pemuda dimenangi Datuk Razali Ibrahim yang mendapat 417 undi, menewaskan Datuk Reezal Merican Naina Merican (373), manakala Shahanim Mohamad Yusoff mendapat 353 undi untuk jawatan Naib Ketua Puteri, menewaskan empat lagi calon. Keputusan pemilihan bagi Wanita Umno diumumkan oleh Pengerusi Tetapnya, Tan Sri Napsiah Omar, kira-kira jam 9.30 malam, manakala Pengerusi Tetap Pemuda Umno, Datuk Abdul Fattah Abdullah mengumumkan keputusan pemilihan pergerakan itu pada jam 11.20 malam. Pengerusi Tetap Puteri, Rohani Abu Hassan pula mengumumkan keputusan pemilihan sayap termuda Umno itu, jam 10.57 malam.

Napsiah sebelum itu mengekalkan jawatannya tanpa bertanding, manakala Naib Ketua Wanita Umno juga dimenangi tanpa bertanding oleh Exco pergerakan itu, Datuk Kamalia Ibrahim. Pengerusi Tetap Pemuda dimenangi semula Abdul Fattah dengan 460 undi dan Timbalan Pengerusi Tetap, Muhammad Yadzan Mohammad mendapat 202 undi. Exco baru Pemuda dibarisi Mohamed Suffian Awang yang mendapat 657 undi, Shafiqurrahman Shamsuddin (569 undi), Sohaimi Shahadan (541 undi), Mohamad Nazim A Samad (534 undi), Mohd Afandi Yusoff (503 undi), Jamawi Jaafar (471 undi), Wan Amizan Wan Abdul Razak (471 undi), Tengku Azman Tengku Zainol Abidin (455 undi), Ahmad Darus (446 undi), Ahmad Zaki Zahid (446 undi), Ali Mazat Salleh (437 undi), Megat Zulkarnain (436 undi), Zuber Zabidi (419 undi), Nazir Hussin Akhtar Hussin (410 undi), Lokman Noor Adam (406 undi), Syahrin Md Jamaluddin (404 undi), Tun Faisal Ismail Aziz (402 undi), Muhammad Khairun Aseh (389 undi), Mohd Hisamudin Yahaya (388 undi) dan Mohamad Iruan Zulkefli (387 undi).
Jawatan Exco Wanita pula dimenangi Hasnah Salam yang mendapat 520 undi, Datuk Maznah Abd Hamid (509), Datuk Rosni Zahari (480), Datuk Armani Mahirudin (463), Datuk Norhayati Onn (463), Datuk Norhayati Omar (432), Datuk Rusnah Kasim (430), Marlia Abd Latiff (416) Noriah Mahat (412), Ros Suryati Alang (405), Datuk Jamelah A Bakar (400), Suraya Yaacob (388), Azihani Ali (385), Norliza Abdul Rahim (377), Sharifah Azizah Syed Zain (375), Datuk Maznah Mazlan (374), Datuk Azizah Mohd Dum (371), Datin Paduka Seripah Noli Syed Hussin (367), Norliza Ahmad (347) dan Wan Hazani Wan Mohd Nor (344).

Barisan Exco Puteri antaranya Mas Ermieyati Samsudin (604 undi), Hasrunizah Hassan (514 undi), Azlinda Zubir (510 undi), Zahida Zarik Khan 501 undi, Asmaiza Aahmad (498 undi), Norhasmizah Mat Tahir (482 undi), Fahariyah Md Nordin (474 undi), Wan Salwati Abdullah (465 undi), Maimunah Sidek (453 undi), Isfarina Mohd Ali (444 undi), Wan Zawiyah Wan Halim (433 undi) dan Norsabrina Mohd Noor (426 undi).

Shock Victory in Malaysia -Khairy Jamaluddin win UMNO Top Post

Malaysian PM's son-in-law to head party youth wing

Khairy Jamaluddin -- son-in-law of M'sia's outgoing PM Badawi -- is UMNO Youth's new leader.

Malaysia's ruling party delegates on Wednesday elected the prime minister's son-in-law as the head of their youth wing _ part of an expected reshuffle in the top leadership to boost the party's plunging popularity.

The race for the youth wing's chief _ a training ground for future leaders_ was seen as a proxy fight between Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his predecessor and most bitter critic, former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, whose son was also contesting the post.

Mahathir accuses Abdullah of inefficiency and nepotism by promoting the Oxford-educated Khairy Jamaulddin, who was found guilty of vote-buying last week by the party's disciplinary committee. He was let off with a warning.

The 33-year-old won a three-way race for chief of the United Malays National Organization's youth wing.

Khairy, who is currently the youth wing's deputy chief, defeated former Mahathir's son, Mukhriz Mahathir, and one other candidate at the start of two-day elections for the party's office bearers.

On Thursday, the party will elect its deputy president, three vice presidents and 25 members of the decision-making supreme council. After the results were announced, Khairy who got 304 of 793 votes cast, hugged Mukhriz, who got 232 votes.
"I am touched by this mandate given to me. ... Some had said that the KJ era is over," said Khairy, referring to himself by his nickname.

Khairy's victory is a consolation for Abdullah, who will step down as party president on Thursday to make way for his deputy, Najib Razak, partly to accept blame for UMNO's disastrous show in the March 2008 general elections. Najib is contesting the post of party president unopposed.
Abdullah is also scheduled to hand over the prime minister's job to Najib next week.

UMNO, as the dominant party in the ruling National Front coalition, has been in power since independence in 1957. But its popularity plummeted in the March 2008 elections when the Front failed to get a two-thirds majority in Parliament for the first time in 40 years. It also ceded control of five of Malaysia's 13 states to the opposition.

On Tuesday, Najib called for radical reforms in the party to end deep-rooted corruption and patronage, warning that the party faces total rout in the next elections.

Much of voter anger was directed at UMNO, whose leaders are widely perceived as corrupt, power-hungry and inefficient. The party is accused of subverting the judiciary, the police force and the bureaucracy.

Najib's most radical proposal was to change the way the party elects its leaders. At present they are elected by some 2,600 delegates, while more than 3 million party members have no voice. This has led to a culture of patronage with delegates often taking bribes and other favors in return for their votes.
Yahoo News 26/03/2009


Kelas Tingkatan Enam wajar penjenamaan semula

TINGKATAN Enam semakin tidak popular. Pelbagai program untuk lepasan Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) antaranya matrikulasi, kursus asasi dan diploma, prauniversiti serta program persediaan di institusi pengajian tinggi (IPT) awam mahupun swasta menjadikan calon yang menduduki Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) berkurangan.

Kemerosotan ini memerlukan perhatian Kementerian Pelajaran kerana dikhuatiri program Tingkatan Enam yang diwujudkan sejak sekian lama untuk calon STPM yang dahulunya dikenali High School Certificate (HSC) sepi ditelan zaman. Laporan Majlis Peperiksaan Malaysia mendapati jumlah calon menduduki peperiksaan itu menurun daripada 73,690 pada 2006, kepada 66,048 (2007) dan 53,638 tahun lalu.

Berdasarkan situasi itu perlu ada proses penjenamaan semula supaya ia lebih menarik dan mempunyai nilai komersial bagi memastikan lepasan sekolah yang menyertainya kekal berdaya saing sama ada untuk memasuki pasaran pekerjaan mahupun meneruskan pengajian di IPT.

Cadangan kerajaan mewujudkan kolej Tingkatan Enam seperti diumumkan Timbalan Menteri Pelajaran, Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong, adalah langkah terbaik dalam memaksimumkan keupayaan pelajar senior dalam sistem pendidikan negara. Jika di negara jiran, pelajar kategori ini akan mengikuti pengajian di kolej junior sebelum melanjutkan pengajian ke universiti tempatan mahupun luar negara.

Kajian semula perlu memberi penekanan kepada proses pembelajaran ala kampus sebagai persiapan pelajar menyesuaikan diri dengan persekitaran IPT selepas berjaya memperoleh keputusan cemerlang dalam STPM. Pelajar yang rata-ratanya berusia di antara 18 hingga 19 tahun ini mempunyai keistimewaan kerana masing-masing sudah melalui proses pembelajaran secara berperingkat selama 11 tahun bermula Tahun Satu.

Banyak pengetahuan serta pengalaman diperoleh sepanjang tempoh berkenaan hingga menjadikan mereka lebih bersedia berhadapan situasi mengarahkan mereka berdikari mendapatkan bahan bacaan serta rujukan tambahan. Cadangan menyediakan asrama pula relevan kerana pergerakan mereka mudah dipantau kerana golongan ini mudah terjebak dengan unsur negatif, selain dapat mengoptimumkan alam persekolahan mereka dengan mengikuti aktiviti lebih bermakna.

Begitu juga cadangan menyediakan sekolah khas untuk pelajar Tingkatan Enam, ada baiknya hanya satu sekolah dalam sesuatu daerah melaksanakan program itu. Guru dan pelajar diasingkan supaya mereka dapat memberi tumpuan sepenuhnya pada proses pengajaran dan pembelajaran (P&P). Jika mereka berada dalam satu premis dikhuatiri wujud senario tidak kondusif dalam proses pengajaran membabitkan guru biasa dengan guru Tingkatan Enam yang sebahagian mereka memiliki gred lebih tinggi dengan tahap minimum pada DG44 hingga DG54 dan Jusa C bagi pengetua kanan. Walaupun sesetengah pihak menganggap isu ini remeh namun bakal menimbulkan pelbagai konflik yang menyebabkan timbul rasa tidak puas hati di antara guru lama yang masih berada pada gred lebih rendah berbanding rakan baru yang sudah dinaikkan ke gred lebih tinggi.

Lazimnya setiap kali kerajaan melaksanakan proses menaiktaraf pastinya akan ada lantikan baru serta kenaikan gred, keadaan itu menimbulkan reaksi positif dan negatif pelbagai pihak. Penjenamaan semula memerlukan penelitian kerana ia membabitkan banyak pihak dari segi penyelarasan kelas hinggalah lantikan guru oleh Jabatan Perkhidmatan Awam (JPA).

Penyelarasan serta kajian semula memerlukan nasihat pakar dalam mahupun luar negara termasuk mendapatkan pandangan daripada tokoh pendidik, selain mengadakan perbincangan dengan anggota masyarakat, industri dan IPT. Program pelajaran selama satu tahun setengah itu perlu dipenuhi pelbagai pendidikan serta dilengkapkan dengan aktiviti nilai ditambah bukan hanya memberi tumpuan akademik semata-mata. Pada peringkat ini, pelajar Tingkatan Enam boleh dijurus kemahiran serta pengetahuan kepada aktiviti sampingan menerusi kokurikulum yang dapat memupuk kemahiran kepimpinan.

Ketua Pengarah Pelajaran, Datuk Alimuddin Mohd Dom, berkata pelajar ini boleh ditugaskan untuk melaksanakan sesuatu projek untuk dimanfaatkan semua pihak antaranya untuk memajukan masyarakat sekitar. Sebagai contoh, beliau berkata, jika sekolah menyarankan pelajar menjalani projek kemasyarakatan serta pembangunan sesuatu kawasan, mereka boleh ditugaskan menyediakan kertas kerja untuk dikemukakan kepada pihak berkuasa untuk tindakan susulan. Tahap pemikiran mereka sudah matang dan mempunyai keupayaan membuat keputusan, selain mempunyai kelebihan berkomunikasi.

"Inilah ciri istimewa yang diharapkan kerajaan kepada generasi muda hari ini, mereka bukan hanya cemerlang dalam bidang akademik tetapi keadaan seimbang termasuk memiliki kemahiran insaniah. "Kami yakin jika pelajar diberi kepercayaan pada peringkat sekolah, masing-masing mudah menyesuaikan diri apabila berada di pusat pengajian tinggi serta mampu menjadi insan lebih peka kepada persekitaran," katanya ketika dihubungi di Kuala Lumpur, semalam. Mengulas hanya guru yang mempunyai gred tertentu mengajar pelajar Tingkatan Enam, Alimuddin berkata, JPA sudah mengeluarkan surat lantikan kepada guru berkenaan.

Pelajar Tingkatan Enam hanya akan diajar guru gred minimum DG44. Guru berkenaan pula hanya mengajar pelajar Tingkatan Enam. Ia bagi memastikan mereka memberi tumpuan sepenuhnya kepada pelajar berkenaan. Sebelumnya, ada guru yang mengajar Tingkatan Enam perlu mengajar pelajar lain menyebabkan masing-masing berhadapan bebanan tugas yang banyak.

Penyelarasan ini memberi peluang guru meningkatkan kemahiran serta mutu pengajaran pelbagai kaedah termasuk menyediakan perbincangan serta perbahasan dalam sesuatu topik yang dikemukakan menerusi proses pembelajaran interaktif.

STPM perlu relevan dengan keperluan pendidikan negara

TAHNIAH kepada 236 pelajar berjaya mencatat keputusan terbaik peperiksaan Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) yang diumumkan Majlis Peperiksaan Malaysia (MPM) kelmarin. Namun, jika dilihat secara menyeluruh keputusan itu kurang memberangsangkan, terutama kemerosotan dari segi jumlah calon yang memperoleh prinsipal A, selain prestasi kurang memuaskan di kalangan calon sekolah luar bandar. Daripada 53,638 calon yang mengambil peperiksaan itu, hanya 3,437 calon atau 6.85 peratus lulus penuh lima mata pelajaran, manakala 18,686 calon atau 37.25 peratus lulus empat mata pelajaran. Selebihnya hanya lulus tiga atau dua prinsipal, sekali gus menyukarkan mereka memasuki pusat pengajian tinggi awam. Dalam pada itu, kita melihat arah aliran pelajar memasuki Tingkatan Enam dan mengambil STPM juga semakin merosot iaitu daripada 66,048 calon pada 2007 kepada 58,048 tahun lalu. Jika kedua-dua petunjuk ini dijadikan asas untuk melihat masa depan peperiksaan STPM, ia sesuatu yang membimbangkan dan memerlukan penelitian khusus kerajaan, khususnya Kementerian Pelajaran. Peratus pelajar lepasan Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) yang mengambil STPM melalui Tingkatan Enam semakin merosot setiap tahun, khususnya bagi kelas Sains iaitu hanya 9,093 calon tahun lalu berbanding aliran Sastera 44,545 calon. Malah, jika kita melihat daripada 400,000 pelajar yang menduduki SPM setiap tahun, hanya lapan peratus atau sekitar 50,000 saja memasuki kelas Tingkatan Enam dan mengambil peperiksaan STPM, ia sepatutnya membuka mata semua pihak mengenai hala tuju peperiksaan berkenaan.

Sebahagian pelajar lepasan SPM mengelak memasuki Tingkatan Enam atau mengambil STPM, sebaliknya memilih menyertai program diploma di institusi pengajian tinggi awam (IPTA) dan swasta (IPTS), kolej matrikulasi atau kolej komuniti di seluruh negara. Sebagai contoh, daripada 442,936 calon SPM tahun lalu yang keputusannya diumumkan hari ini, seramai 130,000 calon memohon ke IPTA melalui online Unit Pusat Universiti. Itu belum dikira pelajar yang memohon mengikuti kursus diploma dan sijil yang dianggarkan berjumlah 28,000, manakala 27,500 lagi akan ditawarkan tempat di kolej matrikulasi. Kini terpulang kepada Kementerian Pelajaran untuk memastikan kelas Tingkatan Enam dan peperiksaan STPM terus relevan sebagai laluan ke IPTA. Ini berikutan terlalu banyak saluran untuk lepasan SPM memasuki IPTA dan IPTS bagi menyambung pelajaran pada masa ini. Sehubungan itu, ura-ura penjenamaan semula peperiksaan STPM, termasuk cadangan penubuhan Kolej Tingkatan Enam dan pemilihan guru berjawatan DG44 untuk mengajar pelajar STPM memang kena pada masanya dan amat dialu-alukan. Dalam pada itu, kita juga mahu MPM mengkaji semula sukatan 23 mata pelajaran yang ditawarkan di Tingkatan Enam supaya selari dengan keperluan pengajaran dan pembelajaran di IPTA. Subjek ditawarkan itu kebanyakannya sudah ketinggalan zaman dan tidak menarik minat pelajar mempelajarinya. Sudah sampai masanya peperiksaan STPM digilap semula supaya menjadi keutamaan pelajar sebagai saluran memasuki universiti, bukan pilihan terakhir seperti tanggapan pelajar pada masa ini.

Pegawai Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia (SPRM) serbu pejabat Kementerian Pelancongan

Suruhanjaya Pencegahan Rasuah Malaysia (SPRM) dijangka memanggil Menteri Pelancongan, Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said bagi membantu siasatan berhubung rasuah politik dan salah guna kuasa dalam pengagihan projek kementerian itu. Ini berikutan serbuan pegawai SPRM ke pejabat Kementerian Pelancongan di Tingkat 36, Menara Dato' Onn di sini semalam. Dalam pemeriksaan oleh dua pasukan itu, SPRM turut merampas sejumlah dokumen dan menyoal siasat beberapa pegawai.

Sumber SPRM berkata, dalam serbuan itu, SPRM Wilayah Persekutuan memberi tumpuan kepada kes rasuah politik, manakala pegawai Bahagian Risikan ibu pejabat suruhanjaya itu menyiasat dakwaan penyelewengan pengurusan syarikat milik Tourism Malaysia, Pempena Sdn Bhd (Pempena). "Dalam pemeriksaan hampir tiga jam itu, SPRM turut mengambil keterangan kira-kira 10 pegawai kementerian berkenaan, bagaimanapun menteri terbabit tidak berada di pejabatnya ketika itu. "SPRM dijangka memanggil menteri berkenaan bagi memberi keterangan dalam masa terdekat," katanya ketika dihubungi semalam.

Kementerian Pelancongan, dalam kenyataannya mengesahkan SPRM mengambil keterangan beberapa pegawainya termasuk berhubung siasatan terhadap anak syarikatnya, Pempena yang didakwa terbabit menyalahgunakan dana. "Berhubung beberapa laporan yang mengaitkan seorang pegawai kanan menteri disiasat SPRM baru-baru ini, kementerian mengesahkan beberapa pegawainya diminta memberi keterangan untuk membantu siasatan. "Dalam pada tiada sebarang kesalahan jenayah dilakukan, kementerian dan Tourism Malaysia akan memberi kerjasama penuh bagi membantu siasatan. Kami akan membantu SPRM dan yakin siasatan akan dibuat secara adil," katanya. Sumber SPRM berkata, pemeriksaan itu dijalankan bagi mengesan sebarang bukti berkaitan pengagihan kontrak dan projek kepada perwakilan Umno, baru-baru ini.

"Pemeriksaan juga dilakukan untuk memastikan sama ada kontrak dan projek itu diberikan kepada individu terbabit dengan syarat mereka 'menaja' untuk jentera parti menjelang pemilihan akhir bulan ini," katanya. Jumaat lalu, dua pegawai kanan seorang menteri ditahan SPRM termasuk Setiausaha Politiknya yang bergelar Datuk sebelum dibebaskan selepas keterangan mereka diambil. Ketika ditahan, SPRM menemui RM70,000 dalam kereta Setiausaha Politik itu, dipercayai untuk diagihkan kepada perwakilan Umno Wilayah Persekutuan pada pemilihan parti 24 hingga 28 Mac ini.

Sumber itu berkata, dalam serbuan semalam SPRM turut menyiasat dakwaan penyelewengan pengurusan Pempena berikutan aduan terbaru yang diterima mengaitkan syarikat berkenaan, baru-baru ini. Beliau berkata, walaupun pemeriksaan sebelum ini mendapati tidak wujud masalah dalam syarikat berkenaan, suruhanjaya itu membuka semula kes berkenaan bagi mengesahkan dakwaan terbaru itu.

Sebelum ini, akhbar melaporkan firma audit, PricewaterhouseCoopers akan membentangkan kepada Kementerian Pelancongan bagi menentukan tindakan yang bakal dikenakan terhadap Pempena berhubung dakwaan terbabit dalam projek pelaburan yang diragui.

Senarai terbaru 20 terkaya di dunia

Berikut senarai 20 orang terkaya di dunia 2009yang dikeluarkan Majalah Forbes hari ini:

1. Bill Gates (AS$40 bilion - Microsoft - Amerika Syarikat)
2. Warren Buffett (AS$37 bilion - Berkshire Hathaway - AS)
3. Carlos Slim dan keluarga (AS$35 bilion - Telecoms - Mexico)
4. Lawrence Ellison (AS$22.5 bilion) - Oracle - AS)
5. Ingvar Kamprad dan keluarga (AS$22 bilion - Ikea - Sweden)
6. Karl Albrecht (AS$21.5 bilion) - Aldi - Jerman)
7. Mukesh Ambani (AS$19.5 bilion) - petrokamia - India)
8. Lakshmi Mittal (AS$19.3 bilion) - besi - India
9. Theo Albrecht (AS$18.8 bilion) - Aldi - Trader Joe's - Jerman
10. Amancio Ortega (AS$18.3 bilion) - Zara - Sepanyol)
11. Jim Walton (AS$17.8 bilion) - Wal-Mart, AS)
12. Alice Walton (AS$17.6 bilion) - Wal-Mart - AS)
13. Christy Walton dan keluarga (AS$17.6 bilion) - Wal-Mart, AS)
14. S. Robson Walton (AS$17.6 bilion) - Wal-Mart AS)
15. Bernard Arnault (AS$16.5 bilion) - LVMH - Perancis.
16. Li Ka-shing (AS$16.2 bilion) - Hong Kong.
17. Michael Bloomberg (AS$16 bilion) - Bloomberg, AS)
18. Stefan Persson (AS$14.5 bilion) - Hennes and Mauritz, Sweden)
19. Charles Koch, AS$14 bilion - pembuatan, tenaga - AS)
20 David Koch (AS$14 bilion) - pembuatan, tenaga - AS) - AFP


Rangsangan RM60 bilion

NAJIB ketika membentangkan bajet Mini bagi menghadapi krisis ekonomi global di parlimen

- Peruntukan pakej dilaksana dalam tempoh 2 tahun
- Kerajaan terbit bon tambah pendapatan rakyat

Kerajaan memperuntukkan RM60 bilion dalam pakej kedua bagi merangsang kegiatan ekonomi dan mengelak negara daripada terjejas teruk oleh krisis ekonomi dunia yang disifatkan paling buruk dalam tempoh 70 tahun. Pakej rangsangan menyeluruh, menjangkau lebih banyak sektor dan kumpulan sasaran itu menumpukan kepada empat teras, iaitu mengurangkan pengangguran dan menambah peluang pekerjaan; meringankan beban rakyat; membantu sektor swasta menghadapi krisis ekonomi semasa; dan membina keupayaan masa depan.

Timbalan Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak ketika membentangkannya di Dewan Rakyat semalam, berkata peruntukan pakej itu, yang bersamaan sembilan peratus nilai Keluaran Dalam Negara Kasar (KDNK) dan terbesar dalam sejarah ekonomi negara, akan dilaksanakan dalam tempoh dua tahun.

Daripada jumlah itu, RM15 bilion adalah suntikan fiskal, RM25 bilion dalam bentuk Dana Jaminan; RM10 bilion pelaburan ekuiti, RM7 bilion inisiatif pembiayaan swasta (PFI) dan perbelanjaan luar bajet; serta RM3 bilion dalam bentuk insentif cukai. Bagi agihan berdasarkan teras pula, RM2 bilion diperuntukkan bagi teras pertama, RM10 bilion (teras kedua), RM29 bilion (teras Ketiga), dan RM19 bilion (teras keempat). Najib yang juga Menteri Kewangan berkata, saiz perbelanjaan itu akan meningkatkan defisit Bajet Kerajaan Persekutuan, yang dianggarkan naik kepada 7.6 peratus tahun ini daripada anggaran 4.8 peratus sebelum ini.

Bagaimanapun, katanya, kerajaan yakin dasar fiskal negara mempunyai fleksibiliti dan keupayaan menampung defisit lebih tinggi yang akan dibiayai oleh sumber dalam negara. Beliau menegaskan, pakej rangsangan kedua itu perlu dilaksanakan kerana krisis ekonomi global semasa, bermula daripada krisis kewangan subprima di Amerika Syarikat (AS) pada pertengahan 2007 membawa kesan yang jauh lebih meluas serta mendalam, dan setakat ini masih belum nampak tanda pemulihan.

Malah, katanya, lebih separuh ekonomi utama dunia, terutama di AS, kawasan Eropah serta Jepun, telah mengalami penguncupan ekonomi paling buruk sejak 'Kemelesetan Terburuk' pada 1930-an. Timbalan Perdana Menteri berkata, perkembangan ekonomi dunia yang amat negatif itu mula memberikan kesan ke atas ekonomi negara dalam suku keempat tahun lalu dengan eksport dan pengeluaran industri mula merosot dan pelaburan berkurangan, manakala sentimen pengguna juga turut terjejas.

Persekitaran ekonomi global bagi tahun ini dijangkakan lebih sukar dengan AS, iaitu ekonomi dan negara perdagangan terbesar dunia, diramal mengalami pertumbuhan ekonomi negatif 1.6 peratus, sementara United Kingdom negatif 2.8 peratus, dan Jepun negatif 2.6 peratus. Di rantau ini pula, Korea Selatan, Taiwan dan Singapura akan terus mengalami kemelesetan ekonomi, iaitu masing-masing pada negatif 2 peratus. "Malaysia kini berdepan keadaan ekonomi amat mencabar yang memerlukan kerajaan mengkaji semula unjuran pertumbuhan KDNK.

Namun, Kerajaan yakin bajet asal 2009 dengan peruntukkan RM206 bilion serta pakej rangsangan pertama berjumlah RM7 bilion ringgit dan pakej kedua ini mampu mengurangkan kesan penguncupan ekonomi global ke atas ekonomi negara. "Jika usaha ini tidak diambil, ekonomi negara akan mengalami kemelesetan serius. Dengan langkah yang diambil, pertumbuhan KDNK negara dijangka dalam lingkungan -1 peratus hingga satu peratus," katanya.

Sementara itu, di bawah teras pertama iaitu mengurangkan pengangguran dan menambah peluang pekerjaan, kerajaan antara lain akan mewujudkan 163,000 peluang latihan dan penempatan pekerjaan di sektor awam dan swasta, mengisi 63,000 jawatan di pelbagai agensi kerajaan dan memberikan insentif cukai kepada syarikat yang mengambil pekerja yang diberhentikan. Kerajaan juga akan menampung kos yuran pengajian masing-masing sebanyak RM10,000 dan RM20,000 bagi pelajar yang melanjutkan pengajian ke peringkat doktor falsafah dan sarjana serta mengembangkan skop skim Prosper Siswazah.

Bagi teras kedua pula, kerajaan menyediakan peruntukan tambahan RM674 juta sebagai subsidi untuk mengelakkan kenaikan harga bahan makanan harian seperti gula, roti dan tepung, selain RM480 juta supaya kadar tol lebuh raya tidak dinaikkan. Sebanyak RM200 juta pula diperuntukkan sebagai peruntukan tambahan kepada Syarikat Perumahan Negara Bhd untuk membina rumah mesra rakyat, sementara bagi membantu pembeli rumah, kerajaan akan memberikan pelepasan cukai ke atas faedah pinjaman perumahan sehingga RM10,000 setahun selama tiga tahun.

Bagi menambahkan lagi pendapatan rakyat, kerajaan akan menerbitkan Bon Simpanan Kerajaan berlandaskan Syariah berjumlah RM5 bilion tahun ini dengan kadar pulangan lima peratus setahun. Untuk membantu syarikat termasuk perusahaan kecil dan sederhana (PKS) pula, kerajaan antara lain akan menubuhkan Skim Jaminan Modal Kerja dan Skim Dana Jaminan Penstrukturan Semula Industri masing-masing dengan dana RM5 bilion; serta sebuah Institusi Jaminan Kewangan dengan modal awal RM1 bilion.

Bagi menggerakkan sektor automotif, kerajaan bersama dengan Proton dan Perodua mewujudkan skim pelupusan kereta di mana pemilik sebarang jenama kereta yang mahu melupuskan kereta berusia lebih 10 tahun akan diberikan diskaun RM5,000 bagi membeli kereta baru.

Najib turut mengumumkan yang kerajaan akan meningkatkan dana pelaburan Khazanah Nasional sebanyak RM10 bilion yang akan dilaburkan dalam projek impak tinggi dalam tempoh dua tahun akan datang; mengenal pasti projek pelaburan bernilai RM5 bilion yang akan dilaksanakan secara di luar bajet; serta penyediaan dana sebanyak RM2 bilion bagi pelaksanaan projek melalui Inisiatif pembiayaan Swasta (PFI).


Malaysia unveils 16 billion dollar stimulus package

Malaysia on Tuesday unveiled a stimulus package worth 16.2 billion dollars but warned the export-driven economy could still shrink by 1.0 percent this year despite the massive spending.
The 60 billion ringgit plan was much larger than expected, and comes with the Southeast Asian nation fighting slowing growth as the global downturn dries up demand for its exports in the United States and Europe.

"The implementation of such a large stimulus package is unprecedented in the nation's economic history," said deputy premier and finance minister Najib Razak, who will take over as prime minister at the end of this month.

He said the package would "contribute towards mitigating the impact of the global contraction on the domestic economy."

But despite the measure, and a 1.9 billion dollar stimulus package announced last year, he said the economy could still be headed for a contraction. The government had previously stuck to its 2009 forecast of 3.5 percent growth.

"Taking into account these measures, GDP growth is expected to be in the range of minus 1.0 percent to 1.0 percent for 2009. Without these efforts the economy faces the prospect of a deep recession," Najib told parliament.

The plan accounts for almost 9 percent of GDP and will be implemented over 2009 and 2010, driving the federal budget deficit up from 4.8 percent to 7.6 percent in 2009.

It includes 15 billion ringgit in fiscal stimulus or government spending, as well as 25 billion in guarantee funds -- to help companies gain access to capital -- and 3.0 billion in tax cuts.

Malaysia's growth slowed to just 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, hit by declining exports and manufacturing as demand from its trading partners evaporated.

January exports plunged 27.8 percent year-on-year to their lowest level since 2001.

Najib said that the downturn, which has hit the manufacturing sector particularly hard, would push Malaysia's unemployment rate to 4.5 percent this year compared to 3.7 percent in 2008.

Yeah Kim Leng, an economist with ratings agency RAM Holdings, said the huge stimulus package could help the economy, although at least a technical recession of two consecutive quarters of negative growth was unavoidable.

"We can see this is a response to a once-in-a-lifetime economic crisis. This is a larger-than-expected stimulus package," he told AFP.

"It should be adequate to address the needs of the country in facing the exports downturn, which is having a strong knock-on effect on domestic demand and investors' confidence levels."

Mohamed Ariff Abdul Kareem, head of an influential think tank, the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER), said the package was "not as large as it may seem" as it was spread over two years.

"The package looks good on paper but much depends on how it is being implemented and the amount of confidence that it can generate. I hope the government can implement it transparently," he said.

The spending plan is an important test for Najib, who is taking on the top job one year after general elections that saw the ruling coalition battered by a resurgent opposition.

Within days of taking office he faces a series of by-elections which will be seen as a barometer of his popularity, and the coalition's ability to claw back support after the electoral drubbing.


Malaysia tables 2.69 bln dlr spending plan

Malaysia on Thursday tabled in parliament plans for a ten billion ringgit (2.69 billion dollar) spending plan to help bolster the economy amid fears it is on the brink of a recession.

The new stimulus package, also called a mini-budget, follows a seven billion ringgit plan announced in November that is being spent on "high-impact" projects including roads, schools and low-cost housing.

Deputy finance minister Kong Cho Ha said that more measures may be revealed next week when deputy premier Najib Razak, who is also the finance minister, is due to give the house a fuller explanation of the spending plan during the second reading.

"What was tabled today is five billion for operational (spending) plus five billion for development. There may be more things coming," Kong told reporters following the first reading of the bill in parliament.

Najib had been quoted as saying that the new spending package would be focused on helping companies and workers affected by the global slowdown.

Second Finance Minister Nor Mohamed Yakcop said in January that the impact from the first stimulus programme would be felt around the first quarter of this year.

On Wednesday, an influential think tank said Malaysia was on the brink of a recession as falling demand hits exports and manufacturing with growth expected to reach just 0.5 percent for the year.

The Malaysian Institute of Economic Research (MIER) had in January already slashed its growth forecast to 1.3 percent from an earlier 3.4 percent prediction while the government is sticking to its 3.5 percent growth for 2009.

Official data released last week showed Malaysia's economic growth slowed to just 0.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2008, hit by falling exports and manufacturing as demand continues to evaporate.

Controversial Bakun hydro project ready in 2011: govt

Malaysia's controversial Bakun hydro-electricity project will be completed in 2011, four years later than originally planned, the government said Wednesday.

Deputy Finance Minister Kong Cho Ha said civil works for the Bakun project would be ready in June 2010 while the electrical and mechanical works would be completed in the fourth quarter of 2011, according to the Bernama news agency.

"The first commissioning is expected in August 2010," Bernama quoted him as saying to lawmakers in parliament, in reference to when the 300 megawatt generator will begin functioning.

The completed project is expected to cost 7.5 billion ringgit (2.02 billion dollars), according to the government.

Malaysian energy companies Tenaga Nasional and Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) in January said they had received government approval to take over operations of the Bakun project from multinational Sime Darby.

The government has also proposed the construction of a 700-kilometre (435 mile) undersea cable link to transmit power generated by the dam to southern Johor state on the mainland.
The ambitious cable project was originally dropped following the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

The dam's construction has been dogged with delays and setbacks since its approval in 1993. It had been earlier slated for completion by August 2007.

The dam, which involves flooding an area the size of Singapore, has attracted fierce criticism because of its impact on the environment and the fact that 10,000 residents have already had to evacuate the project site.

Environmentalists have also said the undersea cable would be unsafe because it lies across an earthquake-prone region.


'Allah' hanya untuk Islam

KDN kuatkuasa larangan sehingga Mahkamah Tinggi buat keputusan

Kementerian Dalam Negeri (KDN) membatalkan serta-merta pewartaan perintah yang membenarkan penggunaan perkataan 'Allah' dalam penerbitan agama Kristian. Berikutan itu, Herald-The Catholic Weekly dilarang menggunakan perkataan Allah dalam penerbitannya, sehingga keputusan mengenainya dibuat Mahkamah Tinggi (Bahagian Rayuan dan Kuasa-kuasa Khas).
Menteri Dalam Negeri, Datuk Seri Syed Hamid Albar, mengakui ada kesilapan dalam penggubalan perintah bertarikh 21 Januari yang diwartakan pada 16 Februari lalu itu, hingga menimbulkan kekeliruan. Beliau berkata, perintah itu seolah-olah memberi gambaran kerajaan membenarkan penggunaan perkataan Allah dalam penerbitan Herald-The Catholic Weekly sedangkan keputusan sudah dibuat melarang perkataan itu digunakan dalam penerbitan berkenaan. Akhbar semalam melaporkan, Peguam Kanan Persekutuan, Nizam Zakaria yang mewakili Pejabat Peguam Negara berkata, Mahkamah Tinggi diberitahu, penggunaan perkataan Allah dalam penerbitan khusus untuk agama Kristian adalah dilarang kecuali jika di kulit muka depan dokumen dan penerbitan itu ditulis perkataan 'Untuk Agama Kristian.'

Perintah Keselamatan Dalam Negeri (Larangan Penggunaan Perkataan Tertentu Pada Dokumen dan Penerbitan) 2009 itu menyebut: 'percetakan, penerbitan, penjualan, pengedaran dan pemilikan apa-apa dokumen dan penerbitan berkaitan agama Kristian yang mengandungi perkataan Allah, Kaabah, Baitullah dan solat adalah dilarang, kecuali di kulit muka depan penerbitan itu ditulis 'Untuk Agama Kristian.' Perintah yang membenarkan penggunaan perkataan Allah dalam penerbitan Herald-The Catholic Weekly mengikut Akta Keselamatan Dalam Negeri dan berkuat kuasa serta-merta itu mendapat bantahan pelbagai pihak.

Pada sidang media di Hotel Sutera Pacific, di sini semalam, Syed Hamid berkata: "Saya mengakui ada kesilapan dalam penggubalannya (perintah berkenaan). Penggubalan itu mengatakan boleh sedangkan ada larangan. "Pewartaan itu memberi gambaran seolah-olah perkataan itu boleh digunakan sedangkan ia belum dirumuskan dan tidak ada perubahan keputusan yang pernah dibuat sebelum ini. Saya mengambil ketetapan ia perlu diperbetulkan kerana jika tidak, warta itu melahirkan kekeliruan."

Serentak penarikan balik perintah pewartaan itu, KDN juga melarang Herald-The Catholic Weekly menggunakan perkataan Kaabah, Baitullah dan solat. "Kita ada perintah awal yang tidak membenarkan penerbitan lain selain agama Islam menggunakan perkataan Allah, Baitullah, Kaabah dan solat. Ini bukan bertujuan menyekat pengamalan mana-mana agama tetapi untuk mengelakkan kekeliruan," katanya.

Sehubungan itu, katanya, pihak terbabit perlu menunggu keputusan Mahkamah Tinggi mengenai semakan kehakiman kes berkenaan yang dikemukakan Titular Roman Catholic Archbishop Kuala Lumpur.