Understanding the attraction between men and women


 

Dr Goh Pei Hwa  from Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Science

HOW many times have we all, at some point in our lives, misinterpreted signs?

Movies like He’s Just Not That into You, which is based on Greg Behrendt’s and Liz Tuccillo’s 2004 self-help book of the same name, tells people that if a man in whom you are interested in is not making an effort to pursue you, he is “just not that into you.”

Research has long indicated that it is mostly men, who tend to misperceive friendliness as sexual interest. They overestimate the sexual interest of potential mates. Even when two people have clearly defined their relationship as platonic, more often, it is the men, who are attracted to their opposite-sex friends.

According to Dr Goh Pei Hwa from the Jeffrey Cheah School of Medicine and Health Sciences, this is not always the case.

While the majority of existing findings show the abovementioned pattern of men overperceiving sexual interest, relationship researchers have demonstrated that among heterosexual couples in committed relationships, men were more likely to underperceive sexual interest from their partners.

Men from certain cultures were also less likely to overperceive sexual interest than others.

In other words, the “male over perception bias” appears to be less universal than previously assumed.

In her recent work, Dr Goh revisited the question of gender differences in sexual perception accuracy using a face-to-face, laboratory-based interaction paradigm on a sample of university students in Malaysia.

Participants consisted of 62 previously unacquainted heterosexual dyads aged 20 years on average. Each participant was randomly paired with another participant of the other sex, and each dyad engaged in a semi-structured conversation task for five minutes.

After the interaction task, participants completed measures capturing their degree of sexual interest in their interaction partner and an estimation of their partner’s sexual interest in them.

Results revealed that people’s perception of their partner’s sexual interest did not match their partner’s actual sexual interest. This indicates that people generally lacked accuracy in their perception of sexual interest.

In fact, people’s perception of sexual interest was highly in line with their own sexual interest in their interaction partner.

More importantly, no gender differences were found. This means that both men and women were equally inaccurate and equally likely to project their own sexual interest onto their estimations of their partner’s sexual interest.

“In essence, people are bad at interpreting sexual interest from strangers. Based on the research, Malaysian men do not overperceive sexual interest as past studies have suggested. Women, on the other hand, tend to underperceive sexual interest, supporting past studies,” says Goh.

The current study advances our understanding that people are generally underperceiving sexual interest in initial interactions, regardless of gender.

That is, people are either not communicating their sexual interest effectively or missing all the sexual interest cues being expressed by someone else.

Here, it translates into a lot of potentially missed opportunities. This is highly applicable to first meetings between potential partners, which begs the question: does technology further impede our ability to gauge the sexual interest of others accurately?

With dating apps, we typically already know that we are chatting with someone who finds us attractive or appealing to a certain extent.

Thus, there is no need to try to decipher whether or not someone is into us based on the interaction.

Goh concludes: “If you like someone or have some interest in a person, express it more overtly. This will invite the other person to respond according to his or her own interest in you.

“Let the other person decide if he or she is interested, not you and your potentially (or most likely) wrong perceptions”.

■ For more details, look out for the advertisement in this StarSpecial.

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RM525mil investment for Penang to create 1,600 jobs & human capital programme


(From left) Chow looking at the Penang NCER human capital graphic info. With him are John, state executive councillor Datuk Abdul Halim Hussain and state secretary Datuk Abdul Razak Jaafar.

SIX companies will inject a total of RM525.3mil into Penang’s economy through the Northern Corridor Implementation Authority (NCIA), said Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow.

The investment, under the second phase of the EmpowerNCER human capital development programme, would create 1,600 jobs, especially for those affected by Covid-19 pandemic.

“The investment will help cushion the effect of the pandemic and also complement the state’s efforts in creating new jobs,” Chow said after meeting the investors in Komtar on Thursday.

The six companies are PTS Industries Sdn Bhd (RM2mil), Clarive Analytics Malaysia Sdn Bhd (RM159mil), Iconic Penang Sdn Bhd (RM150mil), Osram Opto Semiconductors Sdn Bhd (RM110.07mil), UWHM Sdn Bhd (RM65.5mil) and Coraza Systems Malaysia Sdn Bhd (RM38.73mil).

At the event, Chow also gave appointment letters to four district officers to implement the Empower-NCER programme in their districts.

Asked if the state had taken into account all the factors which could affect the investment climate during the pandemic, Chow said the investments by the six companies were testimony that new investments were still flowing into the state.

“Even in the state Task Force Committee today, NCIA’S figures show a lower investment figure since the outbreak of the pandemic, but we expect a gradual increase in investments over a period of time,” he said.

NCIA chief executive officer Datuk Seri Jebasingam Issace John said besides fulfilling the needs of the industrial sector, the manpower in Penang must be equipped with the skills and know-how under the new economic norm post-Covid 19.

“The human capital programmes are to ensure that the manpower has the resilience to compete and make themselves relevant in the various business environments which have become more challenging at present times.

“The expected improvement could be seen between 18 and 24 months from now and we expect all to return to normal by 2025,” he said.

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Chinese varsities hold seven top spots in world ranking


Beijing: Universities from the Chinese mainland have secured seven of the top 10 positions in the Times Higher Education’s Emerging Economies University Rankings 2020 for the third straight year.

Tsinghua University maintained its position at the top in the listing of institutions from emerging economies.

Peking University was in second place for the second year running.

Zhejiang University and the University of Science and Technology of China remain in third and fourth place, while Shanghai Jiao Tong University climbed from eighth to sixth. Fudan University was listed in seventh place, while Nanjing University was ninth.

Other institutions in the top 10 include Moscow State University (fifth), National Taiwan University (eighth), and The University of Cape Town (10th).

Phil Baty, chief knowledge officer at Times Higher Education, said: “China’s success in our Emerging Economies University Rankings reflects its rapid rise on the world higher education stage. With the Double First Class Initiative driving improvements across participant universities, we expect it to continue to establish itself as a major global player in providing world-class higher education over the coming years.”

The Double First-Class Initiative refers to fostering “world-class universities” and “world-class discipline”. — China Daily/ANN

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What ails our Malaysian universities ?


 

Recent discourses about revamping our higher education system have included the following: critical thinking, empowerment, humanistic values, future proof graduates and improvising teaching methods.

Many Malaysians understand “critical thinking” as the ability to criticise something, and “future proof” as being immune from the future. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Politicians, civil servants, parents and civil society activists have uttered these concepts too often. They lament that our education system has failed.

Our leaders say we are a society devoid of critical thinkers. They swear blindly that Malaysians are left behind due to our inability to improvise in this age of rapid technological innovations.

Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has said that the developed world uses English to their advantage, but we have not.

Critics also claim that developed nations are more scientific and technologically minded, because they have the ability to think critically.

Innovation, improvisation and critical thinking have always been used in discourses of scientific, technological, technical and vocational education.

A “future proof” graduate with “humanistic values” would have acquired adequate and sustainable mental, spiritual and practical skills by now. Yet it seems the narrative we are familiar with does not tally with the reality, due to our misunderstanding of the fundamentals.

Malaysians can be globally competitive and widely respected if we decide to be consistent in the fundamentals. These fundamentals have not been mentioned as openly, but they are crucial to whether we surge ahead or fall further behind.

First, higher education should not be part of a political football game. Render quality education accessible to all. Do not confine it to a race-based quota system, with respect to student intake or hiring of lecturers and top university administrators.

Second, hire and retain academic staff in universities, based on their intellectual merit. Deans and senior university administrators must be constantly aware of any lecturer who publishes inane works, even though such nonsense may be in the form of 30 journal articles per annum.

For instance, how can research about whether the supernatural can be scientifically proven or not, be beneficial to solving our post-GE14 socio-political and religious problems?

The deans and deputy vice-chancellors must be tuned into the quality of their academic staff. They must have a basic knowledge of their contribution in their respective fields.

A dean in a social science faculty, for instance, must make it a point to have a general knowledge of all the social science fields under their charge. If not, he or she should not be a dean.

Third, heads of departments should have a collegial relationship with their fellow lecturers. There is no room for hierarchy, pulling rank or bullying.

Lecturers within a department must work as a team, within an atmosphere of mutual deference and respect. The head must provide motivation and encouragement, rather than react with jealousy and insecurity.

Academics must be encouraged to speak, deliver public lectures, engage in national and international debates, and be commended for it. Unfortunately, there is an unhealthy and counterproductive culture of egoism, selfishness, jealousy and arrogance in the corridors of our public universities.

Most, if not all, academics in a university have a doctorate. So why should there be a sense of insecurity or superiority?

Fourth, university lecturers must take pride in their teaching and writing. Whether they do so in English, Malay, Mandarin or Tamil is irrelevant.

While one must be practical, what is more important is the positive attitude these academics possess when they engage in honest research.

What they choose as a research agenda and how relevant it is in the Malaysian context should be the decisive factors in academic teaching, writing and research.

Fifth, a lot more effort must go into how syllabuses are devised for various courses. Individual lecturers must take pride in the uniqueness and relevance of their syllabus.

It is my experience that such an important exercise of creating one’s syllabus is actually considered the least important of activities leading up to every semester.

Sixth, publications and research projects must be based on quality, not quantity. In the social sciences, for example, it is ineffectual to expect a new research topic to emerge every year or two, for the sake of satisfying annual KPI requirements of the research universities.

Due to our obsession with chasing KPIs and benchmarking global ranking systems, lecturers have resorted to mass production of publications and research projects. The majority are useless, and reports merely collect dust on dingy shelves.

It seems our university leadership is unaware that academic publishing has become a lucrative global business, with annual revenues exceeding billions of dollars.

This business is closely associated with the world university ranking system. Unsuspecting academics in countries like Malaysia race to publish in journals produced by these publishers, without realising that they are held at economic ransom, regardless of quality or research relevance to individual countries or regions.

It is time that Malaysian universities decide for themselves what research and publications are relevant for our own society, based on the current problems and national unity complications we face.

The high rate of unemployed university graduates is proof that there is a disconnect between what they learn in the universities and what employers want. This is due to a skewed view of the objectives of our higher education, and the quality of our educators.

We also have to be more obsessed with merit and substance, rather than what is politically expedient. For example, the appointment of a non-Malay vice chancellor of any public university in Malaysia should no longer be questioned or considered a sensitive issue.

There should be no hesitation, provided one is qualified academically, and has the right attitude towards teaching, research and intellectual development for national progress.

There is one area of higher education that has never been discussed, even though we constantly address the lack of critical thinkers and intellectuals in Malaysia.

The “Socratic Method” is a method of educational instruction that should be employed in university classrooms, in all fields. It is a method of hypothesis elimination, in that better suppositions are found during a debate or discussion.

The process of discussion involves asking a series of questions formulated as tests of logic. Instead of answering questions directly, questions are answered in the form of another question, which prompts the person or group to discover their beliefs about a topic, on their own. In this situation, the active participation of the lecturer is paramount.

Therefore, the Socratic Method encourages constant dialogue in the classroom, and sharpens the mind in logic, reason and arguments. In the process, students develop self confidence and a desire to read widely so they can engage more in classroom discussion. A silent student would feel embarrassed in a class full of chatty, logical peers.

While it is good to incorporate audio-visual techniques and other forms of innovative technology into teaching, university lecturers should not neglect the power of dialogue.

The Socratic Method would generate a cohort of graduates who will perform well in a job interview, show confidence and display a wide range of knowledge in the field. It also keeps lecturers on their toes and forces them to be updated in their respective fields. This is genuine educational empowerment, not mere rhetoric, based on fancy global terminology.
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Jawi, a simple education matter is threatening to morph into a serious political issue?


Dong Zong president Tan (seated second from right) with other Dong Jiao Zong leaders at a press conference on Dec 12.

CHINESE educationists and guild leaders are going to display solid unity on Dec 28 – thanks to the Education Ministry’s move to marginalise the board of directors (BOD) in vernacular schools over a Jawi teaching issue.

Dong Jong and Jiao Zong, collectively referred to as Dong Jiao Zong, have championed the cause of Chinese education since the 1950s.

This coming Saturday, heads of Dong Jiao Zong from 13 states, as well as top leaders of 30 other national Chinese associations will be congregating at Dong Jong Building in Kajang to take a stand against a set of new guidelines on the teaching of Jawi issued by the Education Ministry to non-Malay schools.

Leading Chinese groups Huazong and Hoklian have declared their support promptly.

Hua Zong president Tan Sri Goh Tian Chuan said Chinese guilds need to unite in opposing the government’s move.

“The position of the Chinese community on Chinese language education, especially on this subject, needs to be consistent,” he said.

The bone of contention lies in the new guidelines issued by the Education Ministry on the teaching of Jawi scripts for Standard Four pupils in Chinese and Tamil primary schools.

In the guidelines issued earlier this month, the teaching of Jawi scripts will be optional. But if 51% of parents vote in favour of it in a survey conducted by Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), then schools will have to teach Jawi.

In this PTA survey and voting process, the school BOD is totally left out.

Responding to Dong Jiao Zong’s Dec 12 press conference, deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching told Bernama the ministry prioritised the opinion of the PTAs as well as the parents and students themselves.

Heng: ‘We are concerned that once the precedent (of sidelining the school board) is set, school boards will lose their voice in future policies affecting Chinese primary schools.

– Datuk Eddie Heng Hong Chai

“We will let the PTAs make the decision because it’s about their children’s learning. Parents are the guardians, so you should get their consent if you want to do anything,” she said on Dec 13.

But to the Chinese community, the BODs are the dragon heads of schools. Hence, they cannot be sidelined in any decision-making.

In a Chinese school, BOD members – who could include businessmen, parents, alumni and trustees — are expected to donate money, raise funds and formulate policies.

As government funding for Chinese primary schools is often lacking, raising funds for development and repairs of schools often rest on the shoulders of the BOD.

Dong Jiao Zong has argued that this new guidelines not only “defies the decision made by the cabinet”, but also “goes against Article 53 of the Education Act 1996” in which authority is vested in the BOD in schools.

“By allowing the parents to have the final say on this matter, the harmonious and amicable relationship among parents and students from different races will be undermined. This will also marginalise the school board as well as PTA,” Dong Jong chairman Tan Tai Kim said in a statement last weekend.

Dong Jiao Zong’s statement also noted that in the new Bahasa Malaysia (BM) textbook for Standard Four, the appreciation of Chinese caligraphy and Tamil writing are left out.

In the past, pages on Jawi, Tamil and Chinese writings appeared in the Standard Five BM text book; and Dong Jiao Zong was happy with the multi-racial content.

The new BM text book for Standard Four contains three pages on Jawi scripts, without Chinese and Tamil writings.

“The key point to note here is: we are not anti-Jawi or anti-Malay or anti-Islam. There is no issue if students are asked to learn all cultures. But we don’t want to see the gradual Islamisation of Chinese schools and the marginalisation of BODs,” says a Chinese educationist, who declines to be named.

Due to the sensitivity of this matter which could be racially or religiously distorted, Dong Jiao Zong — the organiser of the Dec 28 meeting – has advised invited community leaders to register early.

In the latest statement on Wednesday (Dec 18), Dong Jiao Zong said to ensure the meeting could be effectual and held smoothly, no one is allowed to bring banners and other publicity materials to display slogans.

Provocation is the last thing Dong Jiao Zong wants to see, given that there are already two Malay groups challenging the constitutionality of Chinese and Tamil schools in the country.

The congress is likely to adopt a resolution urging the Jawi Scripts Learning Guidelines issued by the Ministry of Education to be withdrawn, and the text book be amended to reflect multi-culturism in the country.

Apart from Dong Jiao Zong, there are other independent groups and political parties voicing similar concerns.

One group that recently sprang up is the one led by Datuk Eddie Heng Hong Chai, who heads the school board of SJK(C) Sentul KL.

At a recent press conference, the businessman opined the teaching of Jawi calligraphy in vernacular schools should be a co-curricular activity.

His group, consisting of representatives from vernacular school BODs and PTAs around Kuala Lumpur, has called for a dialogue with Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik.

“I wish to emphasise that we are not against the teaching of Jawi in schools. We are only opposing the ministry’s decision to include it in the Bahasa Melayu syllabus, ” he told a joint press conference with an Indian group.

“We are concerned that once the precedent (of sidelining school board) is set, school boards will lose their voice in future policies affecting Chinese primary schools, ” Heng said.

With school boards being the founder and pioneer for Chinese primary schools for over 200 years, Heng said school boards always had the authority in deciding school policies.

Gerakan, a political party in the former government, last week announced its plan to appeal against an earlier high court ruling that the court has no authority to interfere with Government decision on introducing Jawi into vernacular schools.

From the education point of view, many academics – irrespective of race – do not see the need for students to learn Jawi.

They have asked: What could students learn from three pages of Jawi in a year? Is there any benefit to their future career? Shouldn’t there be more emphasis on the teaching of English, Science and Maths to prepare Malaysians to be competitive internationally?

Indeed, this current education issue is not the first to stir up an uproar this year.

The first controversy erupted several months ago when the Education Ministry attempted to introduce khat (Arabic calligraphy) into vernacular schools. This decision was later withdrawn after many quarters opposed it.

But the new set of guidelines on Jawi writing is creating another unwarranted chaos.

There is suspicion in the Chinese community that there are elements within the Education Ministry scheming to gradually change the character of Chinese schools.

This deep-rooted mistrust against the Ministry cannot be easily erased because Chinese education has often come under different forms of suppression since the 1950s.

From the political perspective, there is talk that the ruling parties are pandering to ultra Malay politics to gain Malay support.

As the controversy escalates, the DAP – a major Chinese-based party in the ruling Pakatan coalition – appears to be the one feeling the most heat.

This is because the DAP drew most of its political support from the Chinese and Indians in the last general election.

The DAP leaders in Cabinet are expected to reflect the fear and sentiment of the non-Malays to the Education Ministry and the Prime Minister on the Jawi issue.

But so far, only Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow – also a DAP national leader – has openly voiced concern over this baffling issue and said it should be resolved speedily.

If the voice of non-Malays is not taken seriously, and the government continues to ignore inclusive politics, the ruling Pakatan coalition risks being rejected by the people.

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Say ‘no’ to incompetent government, message from Tanjung Piai by election!


The message from Tanjung Piai is really quite simple and straightforward.

The Malays are willing to vote for BN, MCA, PH or PPBM. To them, which party or coalition to vote for is secondary. Increasingly, they want a government that can work for them, not just good in hoodwinking.

Some pundits claimed that it was Umno-PAS union that pulled the Malay votes for BN. I would prefer to think that it is the “push factors” to vote against PPBM and Pakatan Harapan that caused the swing.

Frankly, I think most are quite fed-up with the PH government by now. Many must have paused to ask themselves which aspect of their life has become better since May 9, 2018.

Maybe they couldn’t find any other than the continued intrigues and infighting within PH component parties.

The Chinese, too, can vote for different candidates and different coalitions at different times. To them, it does not matter if it is PPBM, PH, BN or MCA. It shows Chinese Malaysians are not racist. They just want to be treated fairly; it does not matter which race represents them in the government.

PPBM, Amanah and PKR need to be reminded that the Chinese are not leftovers; they are productive citizens.

No one wishes to be insulted, so let no one tell the Chinese to go back to China again. This is totally unacceptable.

The Chinese value their children’s education very much because they know they can’t depend on the government for jobs. So, forums and congresses threatening to shut down certain schools should stop.

They want multilingual education for their children, so stop telling them what language they can or cannot learn. If the government cannot protect the minority, it does not deserve support, period.

Finally, all Malaysians – Malays, Chinese, Indians and others – hate an incompetent government. So stop talking about flying cars, third national car, crooked bridge, Kulim Airport which is a stone’s throw from Penang, and endless plans for Penang.

TK Chua is an FMT reader.

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Losing faith in reform of Malaysian education system


 

TO put it bluntly, I have lost confidence in our education system.

There were high expectations after the new government came into power after May 9,2018 with

its promises of reforms, and we hoped that our education system would be restored to its previous glory. But after the blunders in the past one-and-half years, I see little hope in Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik turning things around for the better.

I have little choice now but to pull my children out of the national school system despite having to work much harder to afford private education for them.

From my observations, recent developments in the Education Ministry show that Maszlee has little or no experience in running the ministry, which is close to the hearts of all Malaysians.

His suggestion to implement free breakfast for all children will cost millions, if not billions, of ringgit; money that could be used for more meaningful things like upgrading school facilities. After all, not all children will eat their breakfast.

His latest blunder was to propose the abolition of streaming in upper secondary level. When you abolish streaming, you will end up with a rojak curriculum where the children become a jack of all trades but master of none. Their grounding in the sciences or arts would not be strong enough for them to survive their university education.

Already, the national syllabus is rojak at best, with more subjects and topics being introduced every year. I cannot imagine my children having to go through the next 10 years of their education learning things that are not relevant to their future careers.

Just think of a 10-year-old child having to learn two or three languages, Science and Mathematics, plus a host of the other subjects like Health Science, Physical Education, Architecture (reka bentuk), Moral and Civics Education, Information Technology, Arts and Craft, History and Geography. On top of these, there’s Khat and Chinese calligraphy too.

Furthermore, some principals, especially in Chinese schools, are adding to the financial burdens of the parents by asking them to buy more workbooks than allowed by the ministry.

When my son was in Standard Three, I was shocked to see that he had 21 workbooks. When he moved up to Standard Four, he had to go through a total of 440 pages for just one subject, Bahasa Melayu.

By comparison, schools conducting international syllabi such as IGCSE (International General Certificate of Secondary Education) only require the children to concentrate on four or five subjects. They focus only on the key areas that will help fulfil their prerequisites for a university education while the rest can be learnt as a hobby instead of being taught in a classroom situation.

My plan was to put my children in Chinese primary school so that they could learn the language. This means they would have to struggle with Mandarin in the first six years of their education, Bahasa Malaysia in secondary level and then English when they enter university.

Like it or not, for Malaysia to compete internationally, we still need the international languages that are widely used across the world without, of course, neglecting Bahasa Malaysia or the mother tongues, which have their place in the country.

One reason why many of our graduates are not employable is because they cannot even express themselves properly.

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Home Ministry bans B&RI comic book too quick. Is it really that dangerous?


Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad giving the comic book to China’s President Xi Jinping as a gift.

Image

Penang DAP chief defends ‘Superman’ Hew’s banned pro-China comic books

Ban on 'Belt and Road Initiative for Win Winism' too quick — ChowGEORGE TOWN, Oct 25 — The Home Ministry was hasty in banning former DAP member Hew Kuan Yau’s Belt and Road Initiative for Win-Winism comic as communist propaganda, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said today.

“The authorities need to look at the real intentions behind the comic and look at it in detail before banning it,” the Penang DAP chief said in a press conference today.

He said the authorities initially wanted to invite historians to scrutinise the comic book but banned it as communist propaganda before this could be done.

Chow suggested there was ulterior motives in the swift ban.

“They should have asked experts to review the comic and get their views before banning it,” he said.

Chow said authorities should consider that Hew wanted to introduce China as an alternative to the US as a global superpower.

He noted that aside from curating for the Asia Comic Cultural Museum, Hew had also been the chief executive officer of the Malaysia China Business Council.

Chow claimed China was misunderstood politically and Hew meant only to highlight the country’s economic success.

He further claimed that China has thousands of self-made billionaires who made their fortunes through socialism despite being a superficially communist state.

“It was his intention to give an alternative introduction to China regarding its economic development,” he said.

The Home Ministry officially banned the comic as it was deemed to be inappropriate as it promotes “communism and socialism” as well as spreading confusing facts” on its struggle here in the country.

When asked about the state government’s financial support for the Asia Comic Cultural Museum, Chow said the museum itself was not banned.

He also said the museum did not belong to the state government, which only supported it by paying for its rental.

“The museum was set up in 2016 and chose to set up in ICT Mall at Level Two of Komtar during a time when the state government was taking steps to rejuvenate Komtar,” he said.

He said at the time, the state government was bringing in businesses to Komtar including The Top, ICT Mall and Tech Dome, and the state decided to support the museum when it chose to move there.

“It is a tourism product that is unique in Malaysia and even Asia, it is a comic museum that promotes creativity and animation where various events were held by famous comic artists there,” he said.

He said this was the reason why the state decided to collaborate with the museum by paying for their rental but stated that the state did not fund the exhibits or infrastructure in the museum.

“We only support in terms of rental and the rental goes to Penang Development Corporation, this is the only link between the state and the museum,” he said.

He said the state has an agreement with the museum to support it until December 2020.

The issue of the state’s support for the museum was discussed at the state exco meeting this morning, he added.



But is it really that dangerous?

Titled Belt & Road Initiative for Win-Winism, the comic book was a collaboration between a curator from the Asian Comic Cultural Museum Hew Kuan Yau and Malaysian comic artist, Tomato.

Unless you’ve been living under a coconut shell, you would’ve probably heard of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

It’s a strategy by the economic powerhouse to take over the world. Business wise that is, through investments and development in a whopping 152 countries across Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas.

Malaysia has had some investments flowing in from the country through the development of the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL).

A super problem.

The curator of the museum, Hew, also known as Superman Hew, is a member of the Democratic Action Party (DAP) which forms part of the current Malaysian government.

Hew has been known for his vocal pro-China views. Although he no longer holds leadership positions in the party, he is still very much active as a member.

For Malay-Muslim hardliners, DAP is seen as a pro-Chinese party who is out to get them. The comic issue blew up because former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak took to social media to quiz if the comic was a form of propaganda.

mej PM ke-7 turut digunakan sebagai bahan promosi untuk penjualan dalam talian komik propaganda DAP.

Najib also uploaded several images among which featured current Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad showcasing the comic to Chinese president, Xi Jinping.

Chinese propaganda?

China's economy has surpassed America's — and that's OK

China’s economy has surpassed America’s — and that’s OK
China is fast growing, economically.

The comic was not sold in news stands or bookstores unlike others. Instead, it was apparently distributed in several schools.

What’s more, these books were sent to school libraries for free. This prompted Malaysian Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik to ban the comic books in schools.

Critics of the ruling government claimed that the comic was used as a propaganda tool to brainwash the younger generation. The opposition’s call to debate the comic was also recently dismissed.

This led the Malaysian Home Ministry to announce a total ban of the comic on the grounds that it could “endanger public order and security” and “distort the mind of the public”.


But should it have been banned?



The cover of the comic depicts Malaysian prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Chinese premier Xi Jinping. IMAGE: The Edge Markets

Not really as Malaysians have the freedom to read the comic book, according to renowned local cartoonist Zunar.

“Until today, I haven’t read the whole content of the comic. Personally, I may or may not agree with the content, but I am strongly against the banning of the comic,” he said in a statement to Free Malaysia Today.

Zunar, who has had his own cartoons banned during Najib’s rule, said he agree that distributing the comic in schools was uncalled for. But Malaysians are capable of making their own decisions.

“The principle is simple: ‘Cartoons and comics are a matter of interpretation. If you do not agree with the content, no problem. But do not use your interpretation as a law to ban it. Don’t like? Don’t read!”

Hew and others are currently being investigated by the police in their involvement of producing the comic book and distributing some 2,500 copies in schools. 

Read more:

 

 

All you need to know about China’s ‘Belt and Road Initiative

 

 

 

Maritime Silk Road, China Sea Silk Road – China Highlights

 

‘How did comic book end up with Xi?’

 

 

Worst yet to come?

 

 

Superman Hew resigns as MCBC chief over comic book saga …

 

 

Penang museum raided and comic books seize

 

 

 

 

Historians to be roped in for comic book  probe

 

 

‘Only comic banned, not museum’

 
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Malaysian talent lost due to racial bigotry


Leng Siew Yeap

Leng Siew Yeap, a Malaysian, a graduate of UMS applied for a scholarship to do a doctorate degree but was refused outright by the local govt.

She was however offered scholarships by University of Edinburgh, London University and Cambridge University. She chose Cambridge University’s Dorothy Hodgkin postgraduate award to study stem cell.

On graduation she accepted the offer from Harvard to study human immunology. She is now working in research for a Shanghai university hospital.

She has successfully helped to create an method/procedure 4 the body to secrete
an antibody to fight HIV. She is now married to a Shanghai citizen, living and working in Shanghai. She and her achievements are never mentioned in any Malaysia newspaper.

View Full Profile – Shanghai Institute of Immunology

 

 

Shanghai Institute of Immunology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University
School of Medicine, China.
Research Interests

Our body is constantly attacked by pathogens. To fight against various pathogens, B cells produce a large antibody repertoire through different processes that involve genomic DNA alterations. During B cell development, a DNA cut and paste mechanism called V(D)J recombination generates a primary antibody repertoire by producing V(D)J exons that
are made up of combinations of different V, D and J segments. Upon activation by pathogens, mature B cells undergo secondary antibody diversification, whereby Somatic Hypermutation (SHM) generates antibodies with higher affinity, while Class Switch Recombination (CSR) generates antibodies with different effector functions. In theory, our body has the capability to generate all necessary antibodies to fight against different pathogens through antibody diversification mechanisms. However, this is not the case. For example, in certain infectious diseases such as Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection/ acquired immune deficiency syndrome (HIV/AIDS), only a small percentage of the infected patients were able to produce effective antibodies. Our research aims
to elucidate molecular mechanisms that facilitate approaches in generating highly effective antibodies to fight pathogens and infectious diseases. We employ various approaches including mouse models, cell line systems, CRISPR-mediated genome editing and next-generation sequencing technologies (Yeap et al., Cell, 2015, Figure below) to address our aims.

 

 

Top Malaysian researcher working to wipe out infectious diseases

Dr Yeap heads the antibody diversification team at Shanghai Institute of Immunology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, China.

LIKE many of her peers, Dr Yeap Leng Siew, 39, was raised believing that noble careers only include doctors and lawyers.

So when the Selangorian failed to enter medical school because she didn’t get straight As in the Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM), her childhood ambition of becoming a doctor came crashing down.

She was upset for awhile but remembered that as a secondary school girl, she had done well in Biology.

It encouraged her to take up Biotechnology at Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS).

“I passed with flying colors and was the best student at university. If I hadn’t been rejected to do medicine, I wouldn’t have the career that I now enjoy. It was a blessing in disguise.”

Now married to a Chinese national and living in Shanghai, the mother-of-two graduated with first class honours from UMS in 2003, and received the Royal Educational Award and Tunku Abdul Rahman Medal. These awards recognise the country’s best student from each public university. After graduation, she was still unsure about her career path until a research stint at the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) sparked her interest in cell biology.

She went on to do her doctorate in stem cell biology at the University of Cambridge, before continuing as a Harvard Medical School postdoctoral fellow at the Boston Children’s Hospital.

“Initially I wanted to do a Ph.D in Singapore but my GRE score (a US-based graduate entrance exam) was not great.”

Though she did not receive any offers during the first round of application, she was determined to pursue a Ph.D degree.

“People are bitter about rejections because they do not have backup plans. Prof Bing Lim, my supervisor at GIS, once told me to be open-minded because a narrow mind narrows potential. His words were etched in my heart ever since.”

She was later granted the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Dorothy Hodgkin Postgraduate Award – a full scholarship for outstanding students from developing countries to pursue a Ph.D degree at the University of Cambridge.

She continued to make her mark when she was awarded the St Catharine’s College Graduate Prize for Distinction in Research during her stint in Cambridge. She then went on to receive the prestigious Cancer Research Institute Postdoctoral Fellowship in the United States.

Disappointment, she said, is part of life.

“It is how we overcome disappointments and take up challenges that distinguishes us from the rest.”

The former research assistant at GIS now heads the antibody diversification team at Shanghai Institute of Immunology, Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine, China.

“Prof Huck Hui Ng from GIS once told me, ‘work hard, and the sky is the limit’. I now tell my students those very same words.”

In 2017, Yeap was selected by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC) to receive the Excellent Young Scientist Fund, which is aimed at nurturing young talents with innovative potential.

She speaks to StarEdu about her work and advises young science students to expand their horizon. The world doesn’t end just because you didn’t get into medical school. There are many opportunities for those interested in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

> What is your area of research?I am interested in understanding why some people develop effective antibodies to fight diseases while others do not. For example, only a small percentage of HIV-1 infected patients develop potent antibodies against the virus, which is why this remains a major health problem globally. Another example is how despite being vaccinated for the flu or hepatitis B (HBV), some do not develop protective antibodies and are still susceptible to these illnesses. My research group is studying how the antibodies acquire high levels of mutations and other special characteristics. Understanding how these rare antibodies develop will shed light on developing HIV or new vaccines for the flu or HBV.

> How long have you been away from home? Sixteen years. During the final semester of my undergraduate studies, I did a 10-week research attachment at the National Cancer Centre of Singapore. It was a time when biological research was just starting to bloom there. I was very fortunate not to be sent home because of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak, and even luckier, because I landed my first job as a research assistant at the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS).

Seeing that I graduated from a university that didn’t even exist when he left his hometown, Kota Kinabalu, my supervisor at GIS, Dr Bing Lim, decided to hire me. He has been a great mentor ever since. In his laboratory, we were trying to culture human stem cells and I was fascinated by the idea that these cells may be turned into any type of cells for therapeutic purposes.

I realised then that I would have to pursue a Ph.D degree if I want to move further along in my research career. Two years later, I moved to the United Kingdom to begin my postgraduate studies in the lab of Prof Azim Surani at the University of Cambridge. When I completed my doctorate, my parents were expecting me to come home. So when I told them that I had planned on continuing my postdoctoral training in the United States, they were shocked. It took a while to convince them that a Ph.D degree is just the beginning of a career in research and that to have a chance of running my own laboratory one day, I would have to undergo a postdoctoral training as well.

In 2010, I started my postdoctoral training in the laboratory of a top immunologist, Dr Fred Alt at Harvard Medical School. During the five years of postdoctoral training, I met my husband and gave birth to my first child.

In 2015, we decided to move closer to home to start our career as independent researchers.

> What is it about home you miss the most?The food definitely – nasi lemak, durian, and my mum’s cooking.

> You helped find a way for the body to fight HIV. Tell us about that breakthrough.During my postdoctoral training, I developed mouse models to study how different antibody genes undergo mutation. We found that certain DNA sequences are more prone to mutations and that the same DNA sequences are also prone to deletions, another common characteristic of anti-HIV broadly neutralising antibodies.

These results suggest that DNA sequence direct the evolution of antibodies and these results were published in Cell in 2015, a top journal in the biological field. In 2017, we published in Proceedings of National Academy of Science on a related work where we analysed a mouse model carrying a human antibody gene and found that many mutations in anti-HIV antibodies are not easily achieved. Understanding how our bodies are able to elicit these rare antibodies will help in vaccine design strategies.

> What are you currently working on?We are continuously trying to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying highly effective antibody generation and developing approaches to guide our bodies to produce such antibodies during infection. We use animal models, cutting-edge gene editing techniques and next generation DNA sequencing in our research. We hope to one day wipe out infectious diseases like HIV.

> Are there any plans to work with other Malaysian researchers moving forward?We are constantly reaching out to researchers from all over the world, and Malaysia is definitely a priority. On Aug 9, I was in Malaysia with a delegation headed by Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine chancellor Prof Guoqiang Chen, and Shanghai Institute of Immunology director Prof Bing Su, to promote collaborations with Universiti Malaya’s Faculty of Medicine. We also visited the International Medical University (IMU).

With the Chinese government’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ initiative, there are plenty of funding opportunities for academic exchanges and scholarships for graduate studies. Hopefully, more people will come to know about research and academic opportunities in our school.

I have been exposed to different research environments in top laboratories and research institutes around the world, and the current biomedical research environment in Shanghai and other major cities in China, is definitely on par with the places that I have been to.

>What is the most challenging aspect of working in a lab?As an independent researcher, my job is to design and supervise experiments, analyse the results with my students and postdocs, and write manuscripts for publications. I also have to make sure that the lab has enough funding to do research.

Some of the challenging aspects include dealing with failed experiments, manuscripts and grants being rejected, and harsh criticisms by peers. But the satisfaction in being the first in the world to discover something new and potentially textbook-changing, makes all the hard work worthwhile.

> What qualities would a young, aspiring researcher need?Passion, persistence and determination. In the labs I’ve been to, I’ve seen college or even high school students doing research internships during school holidays. These kinds of opportunities allow students to experience the laboratory culture and life as a researcher. Being exposed to different career options at an early stage allows students to make better career choices and develop greater potential. I hope young Malaysians can be more pro-active and seek out such opportunities to enrich themselves in their spare time. I didn’t know there was such a possibility when I was in school.-Source link

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