CNY 2017, Xi spreads love, inspires nation …

– The President’s latest appeal for diligence and hard work has sparked heated discussion and spread inspiration and confidence across the …

中國國家主席習近平2017年新年賀詞(Chinese President Xi Jinping 2017 New Year Address)

President Xi Jinping (pic) struck a warm tone with his annual Spring Festival greeting calling on the whole nation to love their family and friends.

Love should reach to every family and bring warmth to all Chinese like a spring breeze blowing across the nation, he said on Thursday in his speech ahead of the Lunar New Year.

“The Chinese people have always valued love and high morality,” Xi told his audience at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, which included senior government officials, military officers, renowned artists and ethnic community leaders.

He urged people not to neglect their family, comrades and loved ones, no matter how busy they are with their work. Love means not being hypocritical, not selfish and not outrageous, he said.

“A short greeting of ‘welcome home for Spring Festival’ would warm the hearts of millions of Chinese people,” he said.

Xi went on to wish all Chinese, including ethnic groups, those in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, and those living abroad, an auspicious Year of the Rooster, an animal that symbolises good fortune.

China’s economic growth has remained one of the strongest in the world, and people’s livelihoods have continuously been improved, the president said, before calling on the nation to “roll up our sleeves to work harder”.

Xi said he hopes the people “not only have great dreams, but also show a hardworking spirit to fulfil those dreams”. He added, “The progresses in China’s development are achieved thanks to Chinese people’s diligent work.”

Jin Yanlei, a geography teacher in Dongying, Shandong province, said,

“President Xi has told us to roll up our sleeves to work harder, which I think is important not only for ourselves, but also for the nation, especially at a time when the global economy is sluggish.” — China Daily/The Star/Asia News Network

Malaysia’s PM Najib Razak : Chinese New Year TVC 2017

Related posts:

Jan 20, 2017, marked the inauguration of the 45th President of the
United States, Donald J Trump. Next week, the Lunar Year of the Mon… China-Malaysia Promising relationship: Najib delivering his speech in Beijing. ‘A digital economy with e…
Coming global economic crash, threat of WWIII, petitioned 2030 Agenda
for a One World Global Government under a New World Order. http://ji

 2017 – expect a bumpy year ahead worldwide 

Goodbye 2016, a strange and difficult year

The year will be remembered for the West ending its romance with globalisation, and its impact on the rest of the world.

JUST a few days before Christmas, it is time again to look back on the year that is about to pass.

What a strange year it has been, and not one we can celebrate!

The top event was Donald Trump’s unexpected victory. It became the biggest sign that the basic framework and values underpinning Western societies since the second world war have undergone a seismic change.

The established order represented by Hillary Clinton was defeated by the tumultuous wave Trump generated with his promise to stop the United States from pandering to other countries so that it could become “great again”.

Early in the year came the Brexit vote shock, taking Britain out of the European Union. It was the initial signal that the liberal order created by the West is now being quite effectively challenged by their own masses.

Openness to immigrants and foreigners is now opposed by citizens in Europe and the US who see them as threats to jobs, national culture and security rather than beneficial additions to the economy and society.

The long-held thesis that openness to trade and foreign investments is best for the economy and underpins political stability is crumbling under the weight of a sceptical public that blames job losses and the shift of industries abroad on ultra-liberal trade and investment agreements and policies.

Thus, 2016 which started with mega trade agreements completed (Trans-Pacific Partnership) or in the pipeline (the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the US and Europe) ended with both being dumped by the President Elect, a stunning reversal of the decades-old US position advocating the benefits of the open economy.

2016 will be remembered as the year when the romance in the West with “globalisation” was killed by a public disillusioned and outraged by the inequalities of an economic system tilted in favour of a rich minority, while a sizeable majority feel marginalised and discarded.

In Asia, the dismantling of the globalisation ideal in the Western world was greeted with a mixture of regret, alarm and a sense of opportunity.

Many in this region believe that trade and investment have served several of their countries well. There is fear that the anti-globalisation rebellion in the West will lead to a rapid rise of protectionism that will hit the exports and industries of Asia.

As Trump announced he would pull the US out of the TPP, China stepped into the vacuum vacated by the US and pledged to be among the torchbearers of trade liberalisation in the Asia-Pacific region and possibly the world.

The change of direction in the US and to some extent Europe poses an imminent threat to Asian exports, investors and economic growth. But it is also an opportunity for Asian countries to review their development strategies, rely more on themselves and the region, and take on a more active leadership role.

China made use of 2016 to prepare for this, with the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank taking off and the immense Belt and Road Initiative gathering steam.

Many companies and governments are now latching on to the latter as the most promising source of future growth.

The closing months of 2016 also saw a surprising and remarkable shift in position by the Philippines, whose new President took big steps to reconcile with China over conflicting claims in the South China Sea, thus defusing the situation – at least for now.

Unfortunately, the year also saw heart-rending reports on the plight of the Rohingya in Myanmar, and the deaths of thousands of Syrians including those who perished or were injured in the end-game in Aleppo.

On the environmental front, it is likely 2016 will be the hottest year on record, overtaking 2015. This makes the coming into force in October of the Paris Agreement on climate change all the more meaningful.

But there are two big problems. First, the pledges in the agreement are grossly insufficient to meet the level of emissions cuts needed to keep the world safe from global warming, and there is also insufficient financing to support the developing countries’ climate actions, whether on mitigation or adaptation.

And secondly, there is a big question mark on the future of the Paris agreement as Trump had vowed to take the US out of it.

The biggest effect of 2016 could be that a climate skeptic was elected US President.

In the area of health, the dangers of antibiotic resistance went up on the global agenda with a declaration and day-long event involving political leaders at the United Nations in September.

There was growing evidence and stark warnings in 2016 that we are entering a post-antibiotic era where medicines will no longer work and millions will die from infection and ailments that could once be easily treated by antibiotics.

The world will also be closing in a mood of great economic uncertainty. In 2016 the world economy overall didn’t do well but also not too badly, with growth rates projected at 2.4 to 3%.

But for developing economies like Malaysia, the year ended with worries that the high capital inflows of recent years are reversing as money flows back to the US.

The first in an expected series of interest rate increases came last week.

All in all, there was not much to rejoice about in 2016, and worse still it built the foundation for more difficulties to come in 2017.

So we should enjoy the Christmas/New Year season while we can. Merry Christmas to all readers!

Global Trends By Martin Khor

Martin Khor ( is executive director of the South Centre. The views expressed here are entirely his own.
Related posts:

 Global Reset 2016~2017

TPPA in danger of collapse after its biggest critic wins US presidency

KUALA LUMPUR: The Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) faces its biggest challenge with the election of its major critic Donald Trump as US president. The agreement will collapse without the participation of United States, said its prime mover in Malaysia, Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed.

The International Trade and In­­dus­try Minister explained that for TPPA to be ratified, it needs at least six countries, accounting for 85% of the combined gross domestic product of the 12 signatories.

“Without the United States, there will be no TPPA,” he said when met in Parliament yesterday.

He added that failure to carry out TPPA may affect the Malaysian economy.

“We went into TPPA for the overall interest of Malaysia. To be a part of this process, to do more trading, as we believe that this will help trade and investment for Malaysia.

“Among the reasons why we joined was to get access to Mexico and Canada, countries that we haven’t gotten access to,” he said.

He, however, was quick to add that it was too soon to make an analysis on the matter.

Trump’s shock victory stunned capital markets around the world with investors seeking safe haven assets such as gold to brace the period of uncertainties.

In an immediate after-effect Asian stock markets fell, with Bursa Malaysia performing relatively better than most other markets, shedding less than 1%.

The US dollar index, which measures the strength of the currency against a basket of currencies, spiked to more than 1,207, largely due to the weakening of emerging market currencies and strengthening of safe-haven currencies such as the Yen and Swiss francs.

The ringgit fell to RM4.224 against the greenback, a nine-month low since Feb 25. Gold spot prices went up by almost 5% to US$1,337 (RM5,645) as investors sought shelter in safe haven assets in the period of uncertainty.

Ministers and chief negotiators of TTPA countries are expected to meet in Peru soon to take stock on the fate of the agreement.

International Trade and Industry secretary-general Datuk J. Jayasiri, who was Malaysia’s chief TPPA negotiator, said there was no indication so far that Washington under President Barack Obama would not table the Bill in the US Congress for ratification.

“All indications from US Trade Representative Michael Froman is that they are working hard to table it. The US has its own domestic process and for Malaysia we will continue the process of amending our laws,” he said.

Peru will host the annual Asia Pacific Economic Cooperaton (Apec) summit on Nov 19 to be attended by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak. Obama is also expected to attend.

American Malaysia Chamber of Commerce (Amcham) executive director Siobhan Das said US business investments would continue to find a home in Malaysia.

“Amcham supports all efforts that enable free and fair trade between all parties, and looks forward to working with the new administration to grow US business interests in Malaysia,” said Das.

Malaysian Association for Ame­ri­can Studies (MAAS) President Prof Dr K.S. Nathan believed that Trump would try to fine tune but would not scrap the agreement.

“They may renegotiate some aspects of it but I don’t see Trump pulling back on the TPPA or even the North American Free Trade Agreement”.

The US Embassy’s charge d’affaires Edgard Kagan explained it was still possible that TPPA would be approved by US lawmakers.

“There are different views on trade in the US. President Obama is committed to the TPPA and we will just have to see what happens,” he said.

In theory, the TPPA could still be ratified by Congress during its “lame duck” session.

This is the session which takes places after the US presidential election but before the inauguration on Jan 20 next year.

BY Razak ahmad, Neville spykerman, Mergawati zulfakar, Loshana k shagar, Hemananthani sivanandam, Rahimy rahim, Martin carvalho, andd. Kanyakumari The Star/ANN

Related posts: NEW YORK, Nov. 9 — Republican candidate Donald Trump was projected by U.S. media to have won the 270 …

Internet addiction on the rise among Malaysian youths, Asians one of the most addicted to the Internet

Enough evidence to show links to anxiety, decreased job productivity, says expert.

CYBERJAYA: A 14-year-old boy loved gaming so much that he did not leave his home for half a year until his parents hauled him to therapy for Internet addiction.

This sounds like a story that happens in Japan, China or South Korea, where teenagers have died from binging on their computers. But this case happened right here in Kuala Lumpur.

At the International Society of Internet Addiction (Isia) Conference here, researchers said they were most worried that Malaysian youth were increasingly using the Internet in excess, with local studies revealing that 37% of Malaysian parents felt their children’s online life was interfering with their home and school obligations while 18% said their children were sacrificing basic social activities.

The research, led by child psychologist and Isia spokesperson Dr Norharlina Bahar, found that males under the age of 24, from the Klang Valley, Ipoh or Penang, were the most susceptible to Internet addiction in Malaysia.

“Most spend time on online games and browsing social media and there is enough evidence to show links to anxiety, depression, physical health problems, school disconnection, unemployment, decreased job productivity and social isolation,” she said.

Studies have also found frequent use of the Internet could translate to low self-esteem, depression, boredom and attention-deficit hyperactive disorder.

“There is no denying that Internet eases our life but when it affects your mental health capacity and interferes with your day-to-day work, then you need help,” she added.

In the case of the young boy, Dr Norharlina said he became irritable and angry when he was cut off from the digital world by his parents as part of the treatment.

“This is becoming a bigger problem now,” she said.

The challenge for the academic community is translating their data into tangible policies, as definitions of Internet addiction are still being worked out, she added.

That is something the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) is seeking to address, by adapting research on Internet addiction into guidelines that can be used by school counsellors or pa­rents to identify addiction in adolescents, said MCMC advocacy and outreach senior director Eneng Faridah Iskandar.

“We want to know when is usage going to be a problem. When should I start regulating my child’s use of the Internet? We want to develop self-help tips that parents can use,” she said.

The conference was attended by 200 researchers and psychologists from 10 countries to present their findings on Internet wellness and discuss policies to address the effects of the digital world on users’ health.

Asians one of the most addicted to the Internet

CYBERJAYA: The Middle East, North America and Asia have the highest number of people addicted to the Internet, said Hong Kong University (HKU) Psychology. Department Associate Dean Prof. Dr Cecelia Cheng.

Dr. Cheng, who presented the findings of a HKU study on Thursday said that findings suggest that the more a country experiences traffic jams, air pollution and low life satisfaction, the more likely its citizens will be addicted to the Internet.

She added that out of 31 countries surveyed, European and South American nations had the smallest number of people addicted to the Internet.

“Basically if the life satisfaction of a country is low, the people in that country are more likely to be addicted to the Internet, particularly gaming,” she said.

Speaking at the International Society of Internet Addiction (ISIA) conference here, Dr Cheng added that there was a link between countries that have high levels of air pollution and Internet addiction.

“The study suggests that the problem of Internet addiction could be linked with the external environment that drives people indoors. Low life satisfaction also suggests that people look to the Internet for escapism when they are dissatisfied with the outside world,” she said.

Dr Cheng pointed out that less people are addicted to the Internet in Europe because pollution and crime rates are generally lower.

“In Europe, and people there can afford to engage in more outdoor activities than those in the Middle East and Asia,” she said.

She added that improving the quality of environmental conditions might encourage residents to engage more in outdoor activities rather than relying solely on browsing the Internet at home for stress relief.

Malaysia was not surveyed in the HKU study, but local authorities suggested that Internet addiction was a rising trend here too.

According to the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), 50.4% of children already have a smartphone by the age of 12 and Malaysians have a 100.4% penetration rate for Internet connectivity and a 143% penetration rate for cellular use.

An ISIA study led by Dr Norharlina Bahar also found that the prevalence of problematic Internet users in Malaysia could be as high as 49.2%, with people spending at least five-hours in front of screens daily.

In last year’s World Happiness Index which measures a country’s general wellbeing, Malaysia ranked 61 out of 161 countries, behind Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.

By Nicholas Cheng The Star/ANN

Related posts:

  Internet addiction taking toll on health !

 Sick gamers on the rise ! 

Internet addiction taking toll on health !

Malaysian Minimum Wage Order forcing establishments to close due to unsustainable fees

PETALING JAYA: Childcare centres could be on their way out by the end of the year, with between 80% and 95% of the 5,421 registered centres likely to close down – no thanks to the rise in minimum wage.

Most of those charging below RM300 are likely to fold by December.

A survey of childcare centres in Terengganu, Pahang, Kedah, Perak, Negri Sembilan and Sarawak showed that almost all of those catering to the low- and middle-income families, are either preparing to close shop or have already folded in the past six months, said Association of Regis­tered Childcare Providers Malaysia president P.H. Wong.

The Minimum Wage Order 2016 was implemented in July.

On average, operators charge between RM250 and RM350 per child. But, to be sustainable, they have to charge at least RM450, Wong told Sunday Star.

A childcare centre in a single storey terrace corner lot is allowed to house a maximum of 20 children. If they charge RM300 per child, the total income is only RM6,000 per month.

“At the very least, you’ll need four personnel. With minimum wage of RM1,000, that’s RM4,000 without EPF contributions. What about other operating costs?” asked Wong.

Under the minimum wage rule, workers in the peninsula are entitled to not less than RM1,000 a month while it will be RM920 for those in Sabah and Sarawak.

Those who flout it will be liable to a fine and a jail term.

“Preliminary results indicate a worrying trend. It’s the same everywhere.

“Those that managed to stay open have adopted ‘creative ways’ to survive,” said Wong, adding that in Malacca, operators had resorted to hiring contract staff and part-timers or cutting back on the work hours, to avoid paying minimum wage.

Some make their staff take on more responsibilities or conduct evening classes to earn more.

“Others only accept older children as they require less attention but the demand is for centres that accept babies,” she said.

Unlike other businesses, a centre’s income was limited by the number of children they were able to take, she said.

She said operators could not raise their fees because parents would move their children to cheaper unlicensed centres or babysitters, putting the chlidren’s safety at risk.

Women, Family and Community Development Ministry Deputy Minister Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun said the Government was aware of the issues faced by the operators.

“A paper on the minimum wage impact is being prepared. It’s a concern and we’re addressing it holistically,” Chew, who leads a taskforce on early childhood care and education, said.

She said an intensive three-day lab would be held this month to look into making quality childcare accessible and safe.

A report would be submitted to Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim soon, she said. – Christina Chin The Star

Doing Better for our kids


Faced with mounting challenges, childcare centre operators are looking to the Government, employers and parents themselves to ensure our children get quality care and education.

NATIONWIDE, there’s a critical shortage of registered childcare centres, or taska, that provide affordable services.

Malaysia’s population, as of July 1 this year, is 30,751,602. More than 40% of the population are children aged below 18 years. And of this group, children aged between zero and four years are the majority.

With an annual population growth of about 3%, there’s a growing demand for childcare centres, says Association of Registered Childcare Providers Malaysia president P.H. Wong.

Wong is also a member of the Ramping Up Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) task force under the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, and a Positive Parenting management committee member. Positive Parenting is an expert educational programme for parents initiated by the Malaysian Paediatric Association and various non-governmental organisations.

In almost all states – especially in the rural and semi-rural districts – there are not enough registered centres, says Wong.

Few operators want to run centres in low income communities where parents cannot afford the fees. And existing ones are struggling to meet rising operating costs, especially with the minimum wage ruling effective July this year.

Wong, however, stresses that the minimum wage ruling is long overdue. The problem isn’t that operators don’t want to pay – it’s that they cannot afford to.

“Operation costs are already high because of the strict space and staff ratios, compulsory CCTV and exorbitant local council licensing fees. Minimum wage just makes it worse. It’s tough to break even, what more make a profit,” she says.

And access to financing and difficulties with getting regulatory approvals are big challenges, she laments.

The problem is compounded by the perception parents have of childcare centres and early childhood development. They think it’s the same as sending the child to a babysitter who will, most likely, simply offer custodial care; early childhood development care, on the other hand, has activities for the holistic development of children aged zero to four years.

Parents, Wong feels, are unwilling to pay a fair price for licensed childcare because they think “the-aunty-next-door” does as good a job for much less.

“About 70% of centres nationwide charge below RM350 for 20 days of full-day care. This works out to RM1.75 per hour. It doesn’t reflect the importance of having a qualified professional look after your child,” she says.

There’s a lack of trained care providers and operators as salaries are still very low even after the minimum wage ruling. And, very few youngsters are interested in early childhood care and education because there’s no career pathway.

“Currently, childcare providers only need to finish the SPM and Permata Basic Childcare Course – a compulsory certification under the Social Welfare Department. But as long as qualifications remain at certificate level only, the quality of service remains a challenge and the importance of investing in the first four years of brain development is severely undermined,” Wong says, adding that out of 18,769 childcare providers in the country, only 1,551 are degree holders.

Quality early childhood care and education allows mothers to contribute to the workforce and is a social equaliser, she believes. It provides children with a level playing field to have a head start in life.

The majority of school dropouts and juvenile delinquents come from economically and socially deprived families. They grow up without the benefit of quality early childhood care and education, she shares.

Quoting economist James Heckman, a Nobel laureate at the University of Chicago, Wong says it makes financial sense to invest in early childhood education because it will lead to increased productivity and better outcomes for children in health, nutrition and cognitive development later on.

“Since the inequality begins before or at birth, Heckman believes that the best time to address those issues are during early childhood.

“If investments are not made in the early years, lower earnings, unemployment, healthcare costs and even increased crime will be the consequences for society to bear when the child grows up,” she says, pointing to how we have one of the lowest early childhood and education enrolment rates in the region.

With just 5,421 licensed childcare centres catering for 53,497 children, it’s clear that almost 90% of our children are being looked after by stay-at-home mums or illegal centres and babysitters – which puts the children at high risk of maltreatment and neglect, she sighs.

Many women in low and middle income communities don’t seek employment as childcare expenditure would negate their salaries, she observes.

“The prevalence of single income households increases incidences of poverty and further reduces access to childcare.

“In Singapore, public funding for early childhood and education covers 75% to 85% of childcare costs. But here, even lower income families must bear most of the costs, which can range from RM300 to RM2,000 in the Klang Valley,” she says.

Malaysians, she notes, are already having fewer children because they want to provide the family with a higher quality of life. If childcare service is not made affordable, fertility rates will drop even further, she says. – Christina Chin The Star

But it’s a necessity

CHILDCARE services are a necessity, no longer a luxury.

Regulated childcare centres are a must because, unlike before, both parents are forced to work nowadays to make ends meet, says Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations secretary-general Datuk Paul Selvaraj.

Childcare is a critical service, he feels. And taking care of kids isn’t easy. Minders must be skilled and competent. Leaving kids at unlicensed and unregulated centres is dangerous because a child’s future is at risk, he stresses.

“The Government has to help families cope by ensuring that we have access to affordable childcare services. It’s a basic right. At the same time, operators have to make a profit,” he says, adding that parents cannot expect operators to continue a loss-making business.

Datuk Dr Raj Karim reminds parents that times have changed. She is president of the Malaysian Council for Child Welfare, an umbrella body comprising more than 30 non-governmental organisations that works with the United Nations Children’s Fund to create awareness in Malaysia about child injury and accidents.

Leaving your young child with the neighbour is risky, she insists. Unsupervised care have led to many cases of neglect, abuse and maltreatment.

It’s not like those days when babysitters were sincere in wanting to help. Now, it’s all about the money, she says.

“I was a working mother and a makcik helped look after my family but she was loyal and close to us. These days, most people don’t even know their next door neighbours.

“Is your babysitter mentally sound? Does she have family members who could potentially harm your child? What about accidents at home?” she says.

Urging the Government to regulate childcare fees, Dr Raj says some centres’ fees are exorbitant. If fees are regulated, the Government can subsidise households that don’t earn enough for childcare. Only with accessible quality childcare can a mother return to the workforce, she stresses.

“Quality care during early childhood is an essential, basic right. That’s when emotional, mental and character development, takes place,” she adds. – The Star

It’s a no…

IT’S tough for bosses to help.

Most employers won’t be able to help their staff with childcare benefits, Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan says.

Very few employers can afford childcare subsidies as there are no incentive for them to do so, he says.

Under current tax laws, childcare allowance of up to RM250 per month is not taxable, but this only applies to employees. Companies don’t get such breaks, he says.

That’s why, he says, they are not keen on giving childcare subsidies. The Government, he says, should give tax incentives like double tax deductions to encourage companies to give childcare subsidies.

There are 5.18 million working women and about 500,000 babies born yearly. So, based on these numbers, he estimates that there are about three million children aged six and below in need of care.

Of the three million children, 14% are sent to childcare centres, 24% are cared for by maids and 27% are looked after by their grandparents, he says. (The MEF does not have details accounting to the remaining 35%.)

Private companies are reluctant to provide childcare centres at the workplace because of cumbersome bureaucratic procedures in getting approval from the relevant authorities.

The “building cost” tax incentive, he feels, is also not attractive for private companies as it is spread over a 10-year period. Assuming the cost of establishing a childcare centre is RM1mil, an employer can only claim a tax allowance of RM100,000 yearly over a decade, he explains.

“Only 24 private companies have childcare centres for their staff. It’s more common in government-linked companies,” he says.

Cheaper alternatives must be looked at, as high fees charged by registered childcare centres make it tough for working women to send their children there, he feels.

He suggests setting up community childcare centres in residential areas where such facilities can be shared by staff living in the vicinity.

“Community childcare shouldn’t be profit-orientated and the quality standards must be set by the Government.”

Is your childcare centre legal?

To locate licensed childcare centres, report incidents/abuse, join local community-building events and source for early childhood care/ education information, go to The newly launched central directory and resource platform set up by the Association of Registered Childcare Providers Malaysia and the National Child Development Research Centre is aimed at keeping kids safe.

Holistic solution soon

THE Government is coming up with holistic measures to make quality childcare affordable and accessible.

A multi-pronged solution is in the works, assures Women, Family and Community Development Ministry Deputy Minister Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun.

Chew, who leads a task force on early childhood care and education, says there are various factors effecting the industry so there is no single silver bullet solution.

“We’re monitoring the industry from a macro and micro level to address all issues comprehensively,” she says.

She says the ministry is working closely with the Association of Registered Childcare Providers Malaysia to improve the service. The ministry has been gathering data in the last two years and is in the midst of compiling everything.

“We need to address this from several aspects, including amending existing regulations. For example, a new rule to allow the setting up of centres on the third to fifth floors will be implemented soon. Currently, childcare centres are only allowed on the first and second floors where rent is high, so the new rule will help lower cost for the operators,” she explains.

The ministry is also looking into online training for care providers so that they can undergo practical on-the-job training while studying. This, she says, will further reduce the operators’ costs.

The problem is that many caregivers treat this as temporary job while waiting to continue their studies or until something better comes along. So operators are reluctant to invest in their training. That’s why we must promote, upgrade and make child-caring a recognised profession, she says.

Urging parents to change their mindset, she says the perception that centres are like traditional nannies must change. Traditionally, a nanny just feeds, accompanies and looks after a child. But a trained care provider has knowledge and skill. They do more, she adds, like provide a safe environment and prepare nutritious and hygienic food for their charges.

“Send your kids to a registered centre because it means that the care providers are trained and the operators must comply with density ratios. It’s also easier for the authorities to monitor and make sure that the centre is up to mark,” she says.

Operators too must learn to balance their accounts by accepting more older kids.

The care provider to child ratio is:

> Infants 0-1: 1 staff : 3 infants

> 1-2 years: 1 staff : 5 children

> 3-4 years: 1 staff :10 children

So centres can accept more older kids if they’re suffering losses, Chew points out. If you want to cover your costs, you should take more of those aged three to four, she says.

“On the other hand, it’s a problem too when centres refuse to take babies because of the costs involved. That’s why the Government has introduced various programmes that allow women to take time off to care for their newborns before returning to the workforce,” Chew says.

Encouraging the corporate sector to set up centres, she says the request for subsidies is being studied. Employers, she says, must realise that looking after their staff’s families will result in higher productivity because parents who have peace of mind will focus better on their jobs.

The Government, she adds, is also engaging with all relevant quarters, including the Real Estate and Housing Developers Association Malaysia and local councils, to ease the burden of operators.

“We’re lobbying local councils to treat childcare centres as social service providers rather than a business because this will lead to lower costs for them.

“And, we’re requesting that developers include childcare centres when planning townships. If a corner lot can be designated and approved by the local council as a residence/childcare centre, an operator can move in and start the business immediately without having to get the consent of neighbours or applying to change the building’s usage,” says Chew.

This, she feels, would be a win-win situation because the local council will study the traffic flow and safety aspects at no additional cost.

The developer may even get a higher price for that unit because of the dual usage status.

While the Government provides some childcare subsidy to civil servants and those who qualify, operators must improve their service so that they can justify higher charges.

She says monthly childcare fees can range from RM200 to RM2,000 per child but most centres only charge between RM250 and RM400.

“Operators must give good, quality service. And parents must pay more if they can afford it,” she adds.

Cheaper fees, please

QUALITY childcare is expensive.

Zuhainy Zulkiffli, 33, sends her kids to an unregistered childcare centre in George Town because it’s what the family can afford.

Registered centres charge more than RM400 per child, which she feels is too much.

The unregistered centre her four-month-old son, Izz Zaryl Zaharin, and three-year-old daughter, Zandra Zahara, go to only charges between RM300 and RM350.

The working mother was heartbroken when she found out that Zandra had been abused at a previous centre.

However, she disagrees with a fee hike. She thinks it’s unfair to parents.

“One care provider can take care of a few kids. Don’t tell me the operators cannot make a profit. Many of my friends were forced to quit their jobs because centres are charging too much as it is,” she argues.

A father who wants to go only by Tan, 40, sent his newborn to a babysitter until the boy was two. He paid RM1,000 per month to the aunty next door. From age two to four, his son was left at a childcare centre in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur.

“For RM650, they look after my son from 8am to 7pm. It’s reasonable. I’m not sure if the centre is legal but it’s very popular,” he shrugs.

Like Tan, Jennifer Kong, 40, sends her daughter to a babysitter because it’s convenient and cheap.

Besides the monthly RM700 fee, the aunty gets 14 days of leave, a Chinese New Year ang pow, and a yearly bonus.

“I buy the ingredients for aunty to cook so I’m not worried about what she’s feeding my daughter. Aunty has been caring for her since she was three months old. She’s four now,” she says.

There’s a big difference when your child goes to a good, registered centre, says Koh Chee Khian, 45.

The RM3,000-plus he pays per semester is “not cheap” but he feels it’s worth it because his son gets the best food – like churros – and attention.

The main reason for sending his first born to a centre is so that the child learns to socialise and share.

“My boy started going to the centre in Bangsar (KL) when he was 16 months. He’s there eight hours a day, twice a week.

“This centre is among the best and the environment is really different from the cheaper ones where there are just too many kids,” he says.

But despite coming from a dual-income household, Koh says he will have to look for somewhere less pricey as he’s planning to send his son for full-day care next year.

“No doubt the current centre is very good. My son is disciplined, can colour, sing and dance at such a young age. I would never trust an illegal centre to care for him,” he says. – The Star

Operators’ dilemma 


CENTRES still in business have no choice but to up their fees.

Zubaidah Husin, who runs four centres, has raised her fees from RM350 to RM450.

“The profit is not much but most of us continue because of passion. We do this to help working mothers so we charge only what they can afford to pay.

“Since the RM900 minimum wage ruling was introduced, we’ve had problems coping. Now that it’s RM1,000, how can we cope without upping our fees?” she says

Zubaidah, who is also the Association of Childcare Providers Pahang president, has been in the business for 14 years.

Before the minimum wage ruling, RM700 was the maximum operators in Pahang paid their staff so they were able to charge RM350 per child. Most staff, though, were paid an average salary of RM450 but with food and lodging provided.

“Now almost 70% of the operators are not paying their staff a minimum wage because they can’t afford to. If there is a crackdown by the authorities, these centres will be forced to close,” she says.

She does sympathise with parents, and she believes that many – especially those with two or three kids – are already struggling to make ends meet.

Association of Childcare Providers Terengganu president Wan Najmyah Wan Yussof, who has been running her centre since 2009, agrees.

She charges RM400 for babies and RM350 for children one year and above.

The situation is critical, she insists. Many of the 160-odd operators in Terengganu are at their wits end.

“Most who are still in business are using income from elsewhere to keep their centres from going under because they love kids.

“Personally, I’m using profits from my kindergarten to help keep my childcare centre running,” she says.

She says the association has appealed to the state government to subsidise training and salary costs.

A childcare guidebook on quality standards is also in the pipeline. This, she says, will ensure a minimum standard for all centres and help standardise the fees.

Operators want to increase their fees but they are afraid the parents will take their kids home. Previously when operators tried to raise their fees slightly, that’s what happened, she says.

“The problem is, we don’t know whether parents really cannot afford to pay more or they just refuse to,” she says, adding that most families there have two kids.

More centres needed

The Government aims to have a workforce comprising at least 59% of women by 2020. To do that, we must have more registered childcare centres to cater to these women’s children, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim said. On Aug 14, Sunday Star reported that Malaysia is far from its target of having 13,200 registered childcare centres by 2020. Currently, there are not enough centres to cater to 3.2 million children under the age of four whose parents are in need of these services.

Number of registered childcare centres nationwide:


Number of children:


Number of educators:


Source: National Child Development Research Centre

Is your childcare centre legal?

To locate licensed childcare centres, report incidents/abuse, join local community-building events and source for early childhood care/ education information, go to The newly launched central directory and resource platform set up by the Association of Registered Childcare Providers Malaysia and the National Child Development Research Centre is aimed at keeping kids safe.



Total private centres surveyed: 14


RM1,840 to RM9,150


RM2,740 to RM9,630


Total private centres surveyed: 203

Forced to close after paying minimum wage:

36 or 17.8%

Not paying minimum wage:

142 or 69%

Paid minimum wage and either made a small profit or loss:

25 or 12.3%


Total private centres surveyed: 36

Forced to close to avoid fine for failing to pay minimum wage: 95%

Babies and children affected: 2,515

Childcare staff made jobless: 736


RM1,540 to RM11,000


RM2,260 to RM17,615


Total private centres surveyed: 58

Fee range (babies to age four):

RM220 to RM300


Total income:


Total costs (ie, salary, EPF, Perkeso, food, rental, utilities and telephone bills, Internet bill, cleaning/household items, learning tools, stationery, activities, celebrations, emergency fund, income tax, GST):


Losses: RM980


Total income:

RM7,800 to RM25,200 (depending on location)

Total costs (ie: salary, EPF, Perkeso, food, rental, utilities and telephone bills, Internet bill, cleaning/household items, learning tools, stationery, activities, celebrations, emergency fund, income tax, GST):

RM15,723.10 to RM27,184.05 (depending on location)

Losses: RM1,984.05 to RM14,059.10 (depending on location)

Note: All survey participants are registered childcare centres.

Source: Association of Registered Childcare Providers Malaysia.

New minimum wage policy to take effect July 1 The Star

Related posts:

Parents opt for daycare centres with no live-in maids now

 May 24, 2016 Chris Hong, who runs two kindergartens-cum-daycare centres in Subang Jaya,
said she and her staff looked after 40 to 50 children from 8am to …

The Zika virus spreading to Malaysia and Singapore

Zika virus was first identified in Uganda in 1947 in rhesus monkeys by researchers monitoring yellow fever. The virus got its name from the Zika Forest in Uganda where it was first discovered. It is classified as a flavivirus, which puts it in the same family as yellow fever, West Nile, Japanese encephalitis viruses and dengue. According to the Brazilian Ministry of Health, Brazil saw 20 times more microcephaly cases in 2015 than usual, following the outbreak of Zika in the country that year.

The Zika virus, explained

First Zika patient getting better



The first Zika patient in the country is recuperating well at the Sungai Buloh Hospital.

The hospital’s infectious disease head Datuk Dr Christopher Lee said the symptoms that the 58-year-old woman suffered from, including rashes, had also cleared up.

“We will be doing a blood test on her today and if it turns out to be negative, we can let her go home in a few days’ time,” he said yesterday.

He said her mild rashes cleared up in two or three days and the last blood test was negative but the hospital decided to keep her for a little longer just to ensure there would be no transmission to other people.

The blood test today was to reconfirm that she was free of Zika, he said.

The woman and her husband had visited their daughter in Singapore on Aug 19 and returned on Aug 21.

A week later, the woman developed rashes and fever, and sought medical attention at a private clinic in Klang.

She was referred to the Sungai Buloh Hospital, and on Aug 31, her urine sample tested positive for the Zika virus.

Her daughter, who works and lives in Paya Lebar, Singapore, has also been infected.

The woman’s husband and other family members who lived in the same house in Ambang Botanic have yet to show any symptoms of the infection.

Dr Lee said the most common symptoms of Zika were fever, body aches, rashes and red eyes which would normally clear up within a few days.

He said that if a woman was infected by Zika, the vaginal fluids might contain the virus for up to two months after she had recovered.

“So, if she has sex with a man within the two months, the man can be infected with Zika.

“The virus can also stay in a man’s semen for up to six months after he has recovered.”

Infected pregnant women face the risk of delivering a child with microcephaly, while others might suffer from Guillain-Barre syndrome, a neurological condition.

According to the American National Institute of Neurological Disorder’s fact sheet, Guillain-Barre syndrome is a disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks part of the peripheral nervous system.

These symptoms can increase in intensity until certain muscles cannot be used at all and, when severe, the person is almost totally paralysed.

Dr Lee recommended that pregnant women who have travelled to affected countries like Brazil and Singapore go for check-ups at nearby hospitals.

By Loh foon fong, wani muthiah, joseph kaos, tho xin yi, shazni ong, christopher tan, neville spykerman, dina murad, victoria brown, mohd farhaan shah, norbaiti phaharoradzi, nabila ahmad, rebecca rajaendram, edward rajendra The Star/ANN

Take precautions when in Singapore 


Personal measure: Bus passenger Naizatul Takiah Ali, 21, spraying mosquito repellent on herself at the Larkin bus terminal in Johor Baru.

It is unrealistic to stop Malaysians from travelling to Singapore, but people must take precautions against mosquito bites, says Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.

There are about 200,000 Malaysians working in Singapore, with some travelling to and fro on a daily basis, so it would be difficult to block people from going to the republic, he said.

“We have to be realistic. The more practical way to prevent the spread of the Zika virus is to take precautions against mosquito bites.

“Apply an adequate amount of mosquito repellent and wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants to avoid being bitten.

“If you can avoid visiting Singapore, then avoid.

“But this is only voluntary and not an instruction from Malaysia. Malaysians visiting the republic should take preventive measures against mosquito bites,” he said at a press conference here yesterday.

He said Malaysians who have visited Singapore and have symptoms of the virus such as fever and rashes should seek immediate attention.

Dr Subramaniam also said vehicles coming into Malaysia from Singapore, especially buses, would be sprayed with insecticide as an additional measure.

“We know this does not prevent the spread of the virus 100%, but is an additional precautionary measure on top of other methods that we have carried out throughout the country,” he added.

The minister also said pregnant women or those planning to have a child should seek advice from their doctors, as there has been a reported link between the Zika virus with microcephaly, which causes deformity in babies.

Those who are infected should abstain from having sex, or use protection, as the virus can be spread through sexual activities.

“The virus can stay in an infected man’s body for six months and for two months inside a woman’s body,” he said.

Singapore battling outbreak of Zika virus

Foreigners account for half of Singapore cases

SINGAPORE: Half of the Zika cases in Singapore are foreigners who live or work here, and six of them are Malaysians.

According to a report in which quoted the Singapore Ministry of Health, the news portal said that out of 115 cases, 57 are foreigners.

The largest group is 23 people from China, followed by 15 from India and 10 from Bangladesh.

Six cases are Malaysians, and one case each from Indonesia, Myanmar and Taiwan.

“All had mild illnesses. Most have recovered while the rest are recovering well,” a ministry spokesperson was quoted as saying.

On Saturday, it was reported that a Malaysian woman is believed to be the first patient infected by locally-transmitted Zika virus in Singapore.

As the 47-year-old had not travelled to Zika-affected areas recently, she was likely to have been infected in the republic. She resides at Block 102, Aljunied Crescent and works in Singapore. — Bernama

Related stories:

Parents-to-be taking additional precautions against disease

 Reality bites hard in Ambang Botanic

At ease after keeping Aedes out

Doc: Clean up your act 

It will spread but we must put a stop to it, says minister

Rio Olympics contingent reported to be Zika-free

Money, culture and the chase for Olympic gold


Although some countries offer financial incentives to its athletes, a genuine sporting culture may be the best guarantee of success at the Games.

SHOCK and awe just about sums up the stunning achievement of young Singaporean swimmer Joseph Schooling at the Rio Olympics.

His victory is classic David beating Goliath; he was the underdog from a tiny country that had never won an Olympic gold.

What made it all the sweeter and remarkable is that Schooling beat the mightiest, most decorated Olympian in history – American Michael Phelps who has won 23 gold medals – and set an impressive new record of 50.39 secs for the 100m butterfly event.

When news of Singapore’s first gold medal broke, it quickly overtook other stories emanating from Rio and became the talk of the world.

It eclipsed its Asean neighbours’ own Olympic gold successes: Vietnam’s shooter Hoang Xuan Vinh in the 10m air pistol competition and Thailand’s weightlifters Sopita Tanasan and Sukanya Srisurat in their individual weight classes and certainly overshadowed Malaysian diving duo Pandelela Rinong and Cheong Jun Hoong’s silver in the women’s synchronised 10m platform diving.

All are no small feats but there is a total of 28 sports in the Games, not counting those with multiple disciplines, and the most popular ones for a global audience are gymnastics, track and field and swimming, according to

Among Asian nations competing in the Games, China and Japan are traditionally strong contenders in gymnastics and swimming although the Chinese gymnasts seem to be doing poorly this time around.

For most other Asian competitors, the sports they excel in tend to be the ones with less mass appeal like archery, shooting, judo, badminton and for some strange reason, women’s weightlifting.

Apart from the Thais, Taiwanese, Filipina and Indonesian female weightlifters have also won medals for their countries.

China remains the sporting powerhouse of Asia, sending its largest delegation of 416 athletes to Rio this year, but they have failed to defend their gold medals in sports they used to dominate like badminton and diving.

As for the glamorous track and field events, there doesn’t seem to be any Asian athlete who can challenge the likes of Usain Bolt.

Meanwhile, the other Asian powerhouse, India, with the second largest population in the world, has never done well at the Olympics, which has been the subject of intense debate among Indian and foreign sports pundits.

India also sent its biggest ever contingent of 118 sportsmen and women, and has so far won only a bronze medal in wrestling.

Winning an Olympic gold medal is the Holy Grail of sports.

The pomp that surrounds the Games gives the gold medallists unparalleled honour and prestige. And the nations they represent go into collective convulsions of ecstasy and nationalistic joy, which make their governments equally happy.

That’s why many nations pour millions into sports programmes to nurture and train promising talents and offer great financial rewards to successful Olympians.

Schooling will get S$1mil (RM3mil) from the Singapore government for his gold medal. Vietnam’s Hoang reportedly will receive US$100,000 (RM400,000), a figure, according to AFP, that is nearly 50 times greater than the country’s average national income, of around US$2,100 (RM8,400).

Malaysia, which is seeing its best ever performance in Rio, thanks to its badminton players and divers, rewards its successful athletes handsomely under its National Sports Council incentive scheme.

An Olympic gold medal winner will receive RM1mil and a monthly pension of RM5,000; a silver medallist, RM600,000 and a RM3,000 pension while a bronze winner gets RM100,000 and a RM2,000 pension.

Taiwan, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea and Thailand have similar monetary reward schemes. North Korea uses a carrot and stick scheme: huge rewards for medal winners and hard labour for the failed ones.

Several western countries have the same financial bait, including the United States, France, Russia and Germany, but at a lower rate.

Does it work?

The Technology Policy Institute looked for a correlation and was mindful of variables like country size and income, “since those are surely the biggest predictor of how many medals a country will win: more populous countries are more likely to have that rare human who is physically built and mentally able to become an Olympic athlete, while richer countries are more likely to be able to invest in training those people.”

The researchers found no correlation between monetary payments and medals and said it was not surprising in some countries. In the United States, for example, a US$25,000 (RM100,000) cash award would be dwarfed by million-dollar endorsements the athlete could get.

The researchers also set out to see if the results were different for countries with lower opportunities for endorsements. Their conclusion: “overall the evidence suggests that these payments don’t increase the medal count” either.

Rather, countries that do well are those with a longstanding sporting culture that values and nurtures their athletes long before they qualify for the Olympics.

That is evident in Western societies where sportsmen, even at the college level, are feted and idolised. In Asia, however, the emphasis is more on book-learning and earning prestigious degrees.

The BBC quotes Indian Olympic Association head Narayana Ramachandran as saying India’s sorry performance is more than just a shortage of cash or organisation.

“Sport has always taken a back seat vis-á-vis education. Most Indian families would prefer their children became dentists or accountants than Olympians,” he says.

But that attitude is surely changing as more Asian sportsmen and women go professional and are able to make a good living.

In Malaysia, its most popular sportsman, badminton star Datuk Lee Chong Wei, is highly successful with a number of endorsements under his belt.

For now, it is still the Western countries that dominate the Olympic medal tally table. But it’s only a matter of time before more Asian nations, once no-hopers at the Games, rise up the charts.

It’s already started. The Rio Games will go down in history as a watershed for Asean, with two member states – Singapore and Vietnam – winning their first gold medals. May it be so for Malaysia, too.

By June H.L Wong Chief Operating Officer (Content Development) The Star, Malaysia.

The writer was the former group chief editor of The Star Media Group Malaysia. This is the eighth article in a series of columns on global affairs written by top editors from members of the Asia News Network and published in newspapers across the region.

Heartbreak again for Chong Wei, Chen Long takes gold

RIO DE JANEIRO: Lee Chong Wei, the king of Malaysian badminton, will leave the Rio de Janeiro Olympics without the crown – and so will Malaysia without the coveted gold.

The 33-year-old lost his third Olympic final after going down 18-21, 18-21 to Chen Long at the Riocentro Pavilion 4 on Saturday.

It was indeed a painful end for Malaysia as it was the third false dawn. Earlier, Malaysia had also lost in the men’s doubles and mixed doubles finals.

Malaysia thus will return home with a total of four silvers and one bronze.

The other three silvers came from Chan Peng Soon-Goh Liu Ying (mixed doubles), Goh V Shem-Tan Wee Kiong (men’s doubles) and divers Pandelela Rinong-Cheong Jun Hoong (women’s 10m platform synchro). Cyclist Azizulhasni Awang contributed the sole bronze through the men’s keirin.

Both Chong Wei, playing in probably his last Olympics, and Chen Long went onto the court to loud cheers from their countries’ supporters.

Chong Wei, who lost to Lin Dan at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London finals, looked tentative in the beginning to allow Chen Long to open up a 4-0 lead. But he recovered his composure to lead 5-4.

After that, they traded point until it was 7-7 before Chong Wei pulled away for an 11-7 and then 14-10 lead.

But Chen Long refused to go away and managed to level at 14-14.

Twice Chong Wei surged in front but Chen Long capitalised on the Malaysian’s mistakes at the net to lead 20-17. Although world No. 1 Chong Wei managed to save one match point, his failure to return a smash gave Chen Long a 21-18 win in 35 minutes.

Oozing confidence, Chen Long was always in front in the second game – leading 4-1 and 5-2.

But Chong Wei fought back to go 8-5 up. Chen Long then went on a smashing spree, winning six points for an 11-8 advantage.

The 27-year-old world No. 2 never looked back after that as he always had at least a three-point lead.

Everything looked lost for Chong Wei as Chen Long reached 20-16. The Malaysian saved two match points but then sent the shuttle out to lose 18-21 in 38 minutes.

For Chen Long, it was his first Olympic gold to add to his two All-England and World Championships crowns.

Chong Wei can only look in envy as he’s still without a world or Olympic crown. He also lost in three World Championships finals.

Chen Long’s gold was only China’s second at these Games after Fu Haifeng-Zhang Nan triumphed in the men’s doubles.

Earlier, two-time Olympic champion Lin Dan fell from grace in probably his last Olympic outing after losing 21-15, 10-21, 17-21 to Dane Viktor Axelson in the 70-minute bronze medal playoff.

Medals By Countries – Rio 2016

London 2012 Olympics – Medal Table

Rio 2016 Asia Regional Aug 21 Medal by Countries


Related posts:

Singapore’s first Olympic gold medal, dreams do come true !

Joseph Schooling celebrates his gold win next to Michael Phelps on Aug 12. PHOTO: REUTERS RIO DE JANEIRO…

The Olympic flame burns in Maracana Stadium during the opening ceremony at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio
de Janeiro, Brazil, Aug 5, 20…

Malaysia must develop new sport talents after Chong Wei

%d bloggers like this: