Young adults in developed countries rent, we buy houses for good


While young adults all over the world are renting homes, successful Malaysians and Singaporeans prefer to own homes instead of cars, as soon as they get their first pay cheque.Instead of blowing their cash on pricey gadgets, young Malaysians are saving up for their first home.

While most Gen Y shy away from owning property in developed countries and big cities, demand from millennials here is still holding, especially with parents assisting them with the downpayment, Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association Malaysia (Rehda) president Datuk Seri F.D. Iskandar said.

(Gen Y, also known as millennials, are commonly referred to those who are born in the early 1980s to 2000s. They are sometimes referred to as the strawberry generation).

Demand from first-time buyers, including the younger generation, remains strong although housing affordability is a challenge, said Bank Negara.

The central bank added that they accounted for 75% of 1.47 million borrowers.

Owning and investing in a house remains a priority for many Malaysians.

This is reflected in the household borrowing trend where the buying of homes continues to be the fastest growing segment of household lending, with annual growth sustained at double-digit levels (11% as at end-March 2016), said Bank Negara in a statement.

Those who cannot afford it themselves, and do not have parents to help, turn to their friends.

In his 30s, Daryl Toh, and two of his college mates own a condominium in Penang; they pooled their resources to purchase the unit five years ago.

“It’s in a premium area and since we couldn’t afford a place on our own – at least not prime property, we became joint owners.”

Financial adviser Yap Ming Hui said it makes perfect sense to own.

“Of course the Gen Y here are still keen on buying. You pay the instalments and eventually own a home. Only those who can’t afford to buy are forced to rent.”

Association of Valuers, Property Managers, Estate Agents and Property Consultants in the Private Sector of Malaysia adviser Wong Kok Soo said property prices in Hong Kong have escalated beyond the purchasing power of the Gen Y but the trend hasn’t caught on here – yet.

Wong, who is also a consultant with the National House Buyers Association, however, said there were signs that the Gen Y could no longer afford to live in big cities like Kuala Lumpur, Penang Island, Johor Baru and Sabah.

“Parents are chipping in for the downpayment. And, commuting from the suburbs to the city centre is still an option.

“But when prices get inflated far beyond their means, the same will happen here (as in Hong Kong),” said Wong, who, however, felt that even if demand dropped, it would not be substantial.

Iskandar agreed, saying that although the property market was slow now, the drop was manageable. “Like everything else, it’s cyclical. “The property market goes up for years and after some time, begins falling before rising again.”

He said the market would pick up with the completion of infrastructure development and public transportation facilities.

Rehda, he said, was working closely with the Government to find ways to facilitate home acquisition especially among first-time buyers.

“We proposed a review of the financing guidelines that have negatively impacted buyers’ ability to secure financing,” he said. – The Star/Asia News Network

Demand from first-time buyers still strong despite affordability challenge

PETALING JAYA: Instead of blowing their cash on pricey gadgets, young Malaysians are saving up for their first home.

While most Gen Y shy away from owning property in developed countries and big cities, demand from millennials here is still holding, especially with parents assisting them with the downpayment, Real Estate and Housing Developers’ Association Malaysia (Rehda) president Datuk Seri F.D. Iskandar said.

(Gen Y, also known as millennials, are commonly referred to those who are born in the early 1980s to 2000s. They are sometimes referred to as the strawberry generation).

Demand from first-time buyers, including the younger generation, remains strong although housing affordability is a challenge, said Bank Negara.

The central bank added that they accounted for 75% of 1.47 million borrowers.

Owning and investing in a house remains a priority for many Malay­sians.

This is reflected in the household borrowing trend where the buying of homes continues to be the fastest growing segment of household lending, with annual growth sustained at double-digit levels (11% as at end-March 2016), said Bank Negara in a statement.

Those who cannot afford it themselves, and do not have parents to help, turn to their friends.

In his 30s, Daryl Toh, and two of his college mates own a condominium in Penang; they pooled their resources to purchase the unit five years ago.

“It’s in a premium area and since we couldn’t afford a place on our own – at least not prime property, we became joint owners.”

Financial adviser Yap Ming Hui said it makes perfect sense to own.

“Of course the Gen Y here are still keen on buying. You pay the instalments and eventually own a home. Only those who can’t afford to buy are forced to rent.”

Association of Valuers, Property Managers, Estate Agents and Property Consultants in the Private Sector of Malaysia adviser Wong Kok Soo said property prices in Hong Kong have escalated beyond the purchasing power of the Gen Y but the trend hasn’t caught on here – yet.

Wong, who is also a consultant with the National House Buyers Association, however, said there were signs that the Gen Y could no longer afford to live in big cities like Kuala Lumpur, Penang Island, Johor Baru and Sabah.

“Parents are chipping in for the downpayment. And, commuting from the suburbs to the city centre is still an option.

“But when prices get inflated far beyond their means, the same will happen here (as in Hong Kong),” said Wong, who, however, felt that even if demand dropped, it would not be substantial.

Iskandar agreed, saying that although the property market was slow now, the drop was manageable.

“Like everything else, it’s cyclical.

“The property market goes up for years and after some time, begins falling before rising again.”

He said the market would pick up with the completion of infrastructure development and public tran­sportation facilities.

Rehda, he said, was working closely with the Government to find ways to facilitate home acquisition especially among first-time buyers.

“We proposed a review of the financing guidelines that have negatively impacted buyers’ ability to secure financing,” he said. – By Christina Chin The Star

A pricey priority

 

Wary of big, life-changing purchases, the ‘Strawberry Generation’ – those ‘easily bruised’, coddled young people in their 30s – prefers to rent, global reports say. Malaysians, however, are bucking the trend despite steep property prices. Mainly thanks to supportive parents, it seems.

BEST friends Leh Mon Soo, 38, and Brandy Yu, 39, are finally buying their first home.

After months of serious scouting, the two managers found units that matched their budget and needs, coincidentally, in the same condominium in Petaling Jaya. Leh is getting a three-bedroom unit while Yu is happy with a 48sqm studio apartment.

Yu feels that the RM365,000 she’s paying is affordable as she can still save about RM1,700 monthly after paying the loan instalment.

“I’m only paying RM400 more a month than what I’ve been forking out for rent. And unlike the rental, this unit will be mine one day,” she says.

Leh ended up forking out a whopping RM690,000 even though she dreads the long-term commitment. While “not a bargain, and at the upper limit of what I can afford”, she says that it’s still a pretty good price, as other, smaller, units were going for higher prices.

“I was only willing to pay RM500,000 initially. Then I saw a two-bedroom in the same condominium going for RM680,000. So I bit the bullet and got this. Property prices won’t be dropping any time soon and our ringgit’s shrinking. It’s now or never. I’ll have to cough up even more later if I don’t get a place now,” she says pragmatically.

The soon-to-be neighbours think property is still in demand, even among Gen Y-ers, aka Millennials (those born in the 1980s and 1990s, typically perceived as brought up and very familiar with digital and electronic technology).

But they’re more privileged because their parents have either already invested in property for them or are helping them buy it, Leh offers. Renting is not for the long-term, she says firmly, and even the younger ones know that.

The Malaysian mindset, Yu quips, is that everyone must own at least one property.

Gym owner Chip Ang, 26, agrees. He got the keys to his new 78sqm unit in Shah Alam last week.

Although it was his parents who suggested he get the RM168,000 place under the Selangor Government’s affordable housing scheme, Ang says property ownership is always a hot topic between him and his friends. Young professionals want to own property. The issue is affordability, he thinks.

“Many are unrealistic. They want their ideal home in the ideal place. Of course that’s unaffordable. Most affordable homes are in up and coming townships, not prime locations.”

The experience of getting his own place was a “blur” because it happened so fast, he says, though he does recall that, “because it’s affordable housing, I had to fulfil a number of requirements including proving that I’m a bachelor”. While the RM700 monthly mortgage payment is doable, he’s still nervous about being “tied down”.

Writer Teddy Gomez, 29, doesn’t think people have given up on owning property but sees a new trend emerging.

“Buying property is still big here but I see more renters because it’s cheaper and more flexible,” says Gomez, who got “a little help” from his dad buying a 83sqm apartment in Kuala Lumpur last year. Although the cosy RM400,000 unit is “not really affordable”, he says it’s time to leave the nest.

Like Gomez, a blogger who only wants to be known as Robyn, 24, thinks it’s nice to have your own space. She’s moving into an apartment in Petaling Jaya soon. The fresh graduate admits being lucky because her dad’s the owner. She’s getting the three-room unit for less than RM140,000 although it’s valued at over RM750,000.

“For the next three years, I’ll pay the RM3,800 monthly loan instalments. Now, I’m only contributing RM2,000 because I just started working. Dad’s helping until I can afford to take on the full amount myself.”

She knows she’s better off than most her age and is thankful for her family’s support – many of her friends are also looking for properties to buy but are resigned to living outside the city in places like Bangi and Kajang in Selangor. Still, with a RM200,000 budget, they’re willing to travel and own property rather than pay rent indefinitely.

Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association (Fomca) secretary-general Datuk Paul Selvaraj says it’s unfair to tell consumers to live on the outskirts of city centres because public transportation is still a problem in the Klang Valley. Unless the homes are accessible, living far away from the workplace isn’t practical.

National House Buyers Association (HBA) honorary secretary-general Chang Kim Loong sees a very strong demand for affordable properties in Malaysia because of our young population and urban migration.

For instance, the Government’s First House Deposit Financing (MyDeposit) scheme that was launched on April 6 received more than 6,000 online registrations within a week, a sure sign that Malaysians are still keen on owning property.

Fomca’s Selvaraj says property is a priority for most Malaysians because it’s a sound investment. They just can’t afford it in most urban areas.

“If you’re living on bread and water after paying your loan, then the house is unaffordable. For most young families, RM300,000-plus is affordable but it’s RM600,000 homes that are being built.”

Property is the best hedge against inflation so demand will always be strong, says HBA’s Chang. But there’s a “serious mismatch” between what’s classified as affordable by developers and the rakyat’s definition. To developers, an affordable property for first-time buyers is RM500,000. For upgraders, it’s up to RM1mil. Definitions on the ground are much lower. First-time buyers deem RM150,000 to RM300,000 affordable while those looking to upgrade can only pay between RM300,000 and RM600,000.

But if you can afford it – with family help, perhaps – M. Rajendran, 53, says invest early. The air traffic controller got his double-storey home in Kajang 21, Selangor, years ago for RM146,000. It’s worth at least RM600,000 now.

“If I hadn’t bought it then, I definitely wouldn’t be able to afford it now with the financial commitments I have. And at my age, no bank is going to give me a loan. Buy when you’re young because it’s cheaper and you can settle your loan faster.”

However, he warns that current economic challenges could result in a rise in the number of abandoned projects, so those looking at new properties should be cautious and do their homework.

“Scout around. Choose locations with infrastructure and amenities so that the potential for property prices to appreciate is higher.” – By Christina Chin The Star

Don’t bank on the banks

 Chang Kim LoongRELAXING lending conditions won’t help more people buy their own homes. It will only worsen the situation as developers increase prices further to match the lending surge, predicts Chang Kim Loong, honorary secretary-general of the National House Buyers Association (HBA).

Datuk Paul Selvaraj also doesn’t think it’s a good idea. The Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association secretary-general says home ownership is a right, and it’s the Government’s responsibility to make it a reality. The Government, he stresses, must either build more affordable housing or force developers to cater to the neglected market. It’s wrong to force banks to take bigger lending risks by calling on them to relax lending conditions, he feels.

“Banks will only lend money if they can get it back. It’s unfair to expect them to do otherwise. Also, if the borrowers cannot pay, they themselves will end up with a big headache.”

Banks are rightly stringent as times are uncertain, says Wong Kok Soo, an adviser to the Association of Valuers, Property Managers, Estate Agents and Property Consultants in the Private Sector of Malaysia and consultant to the HBA.

Lenient policies encourage purchases that are beyond one’s means and are not a good idea; instead, the margin of financing should be increased or the loan tenure extended, for first home buyers. For existing loans, there should be some flexibility in extending tenures and adjusting debt servicing ratio, he feels.

Last year, housing in Kelantan, Penang, Sabah, Sarawak and Selangor, as well as Kuala Lumpur, were listed as severely unaffordable by market experts. Nationwide, only Malacca made the affordable category with housing in the other states deemed either seriously or moderately unaffordable.

Bank Negara’s “Financial Stability and Payment Systems Report 2015” showed an increasing supply of homes above RM500,000 while those priced below RM250,000 accounted for less than 30% of the total launches in the first nine months of last year.

Deputy Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Halimah Mohamed Sadique has since called on developers to build more houses priced at RM300,000 for Malaysians.

The next generation won’t be able to own property without financial help from their parents unless concrete measures are taken to increase the supply of properties costing between RM150,000 and RM300,000 and to stem the steep rise in existing property prices due to excessive speculation, says HBA’s Chang.

A Khazanah Research Institute report reveals that Malaysia’s housing market is considered to be “seriously unaffordable”, with a median house price of more than four times the median annual household income. This problem, Chang notes, surfaced a little under a decade ago but if prices continue to soar, the situation could worsen.

Not that there aren’t affordable schemes and funding plans in place to help – in the last 50 years, scores have been introduced but information on them is scarce, he observes. Details of projects by developers, state agencies and federal bodies must be available in a public database, he suggests. And a single umbrella body under the Federal Government must coordinate the distribution and availability of such units.

Chang stresses also that there’s no place for racial profiling when it comes to housing. Whoever deserves a house must get a house, he insists.

There’s never a wrong time to buy property but one must balance the risk of buying with renting, he advices. Owning a house is riskier as buyers take on enormous debts, sign multi-year loan agreements and become responsible for homeowner costs, he cautions.

“Flip through the newspapers – you’ll see many proclamations of sales of units for public auction that are below RM50,000. Some even dip below RM10,000. On bank websites, you’ll find property foreclosure cases.”

A list of properties put up for auction by CIMB bank showed 35 units in Selangor at reserved prices of less than RM42,000 – that’s the price of a new low-cost unit, notes Chang.

Low-cost units auctioned off for half of the purchase price is an alarming trend, he says. Unfortunately, there aren’t any official statistics on how many low income earners have lost their homes or are struggling with their monthly loan commitment. Where do these homeowners and their families end up living, Chang wonders.

Foreclosures can devastate a family’s economic and social standing, possibly leaving them poorer than before they bought the property. Financiers, local authorities and communities benefit from homeowners being better informed of their rights and responsibilities as borrowers. Ensuring that lower income households have sufficient personal financial management skills and support is crucial.

It’s not enough just to provide homes for the low- and medium-income group. Chang recommends that a homeownership education programme be set up to raise financial literacy and prepare households for the responsibilities of owning a home.

“Manuals, advice or information given via telephone, workshops or counselling to help households maintain their homes and manage their finances must be given before first-time buyers sign the sale and purchase agreement. Public housing schemes are only successful if buyers can hold on to their property.”

Specifically, Chang says education should cover:

> Pre-purchase period – understanding the various types of available housing, the process of buying a house, loan process, and financial preparation needed; and evaluating household needs.

> Post-purchase period – budgeting monthly expenses; making payments promptly; avoiding loan defaults; living within a community; social responsibility; property taxes, assessments, insurance, service charges and sinking fund; home maintenance; and handling problems with the property.

Educate yourself and learn from the mistakes of others to avoid being disappointed or, worse, becoming “house poor” (when most of your income goes towards home ownership), Chang advises. Aspiring buyers must get something that’s within their budget. It could be an older or smaller unit but start small and slowly increase your property portfolio, he says.

“Don’t let friends or family influence you into getting something that’s above your budget, as home ownership is a long term investment. You must be able to service the loan while maintaining an acceptable standard of living.”

The majority may prefer to rent while waiting for the market to soften but it’s better to have your own shelter, says HBA consultant Wong.

The average Malaysian, he insists, can still own property. Consider buying at auctions. Research is a must, though, as inspections aren’t allowed at auctions. It’s an “as is, where is” bid, he stresses. Find out about the surrounding units and the neighbourhood, he suggests.

Better to own but…

PROPERTY investment helps maintain our socioeconomic well-being and must be encouraged, says Datuk Seri F.D. Iskandar, president of the Real Estate and Housing Developers Association Malaysia (Rehda).

Property – a wealth-creation instrument without the volatility of stock markets – has consistently out-performed traditional investment options like bonds, he points out.

But to invest, one must study the property and its market potential. With the right location and strategy, property can be a very profitable investment. The value will appreciate over time, he says.

To many, the most important aspect of owning property is to secure a home. In current conditions, most developers are coming up with attractive packages to close the deal, so it’s a good time to buy. Securing a bank loan now, though, is one of the biggest barriers, he says.

Rehda’s recommendations to the Government and Bank Negara are:

> Encourage innovative home financing packages like the developers interest bearing scheme (better known as DIBS).

> Allow flexible or accelerated tiered payments (longer loan tenure so you pay less now but more later when your salary has increased).

> Relax loan approval criteria with higher financing margins (up to 100%).

Also, banks, he says, shouldn’t just focus on a loan applicant’s current net income; future prospects of higher salaries and other incomes and bonuses must be taken into account.

He dismisses talk that the average Malaysian has been priced out of owning his or her first home.

There’s still a range of prices and options in both the primary and secondary property markets, he says.

With new launches, developers usually offer special incentives, rebates or discounts that will help buyers reduce their initial payment. In the secondary market, however, what you see is what you get. Depending on what you’re looking for, factors like location, surroundings, facilities, transportation and infrastructure will help you decide.

“Property prices in city centres are high because of land value but there are many cheaper options in less-urbanised areas. There are many affordable houses, including those by PR1MA (the 1Malaysia People’s Housing Scheme). The average Malaysian can definitely afford these.

“With an improving transportation system and connectivity, these places are now easily accessible from city centres.”

We are paid enough

Property price and value to Income per country in SEA 20014

WAGES are rising in tandem with the country’s consumer price index (CPI), which is a broad measure of inflation and our productivity.

Both criteria are used to determine wages here, says Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan, executive director of the Malaysian Employers Federation.

While Malaysians lament how their salaries aren’t enough to cope with soaring costs of products and services, their grouses aren’t reflected in the low CPI numbers, he says.

“Measured against the CPI, our average salary growth isn’t lagging. In the region, our salaries are second only to Singapore. Of course, you must consider the currency exchange. Singaporeans earn an average of S$3,000 (RM9,000) while Malaysians take home RM2,800 monthly.

“But bear in mind that the productivity of Singaporeans is 3.8 times higher than ours. Their per unit cost of production per employee is lower than us. In the United States, the productivity level is seven times higher than ours. So when you say we aren’t earning enough, you have to consider our productivity level too,” he states, pointing to how in some of our neighbouring countries, the average salary is less than US$100 (RM400).

However, he acknowledges that houses are beyond the reach of most – and fresh graduates in particular – and adds that even when both husband and wife work, they still may not have enough for the down payment and are forced to rent.

It’s tough, he admits, even for those who have already been working for a decade, to own a house now without financial support from parents.

Related: Renting is OK too

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Paedophiles’ predators using apps in phone to find and groom potential victims


https://www.youtube-nocookie.com/embed/nu_WnaEzw-E

Hunters hunted: R.AGE journalists went undercover as 15-year-old girls to meet up with online sex predators who target teenagers. Watch the videos at rage.com.my/predator:

This was among the material gathered by The Star’s R.AGE journalists who went undercover for these meetings.

Six months before paedophile Huckle made global headlines, the R.AGE team had already started its undercover sting operation against sex predators.

During the period, R.AGE compiled material that included obscene images, inappropriate messages and hidden camera footage of the undercover journalists at work.

Malaysia does not have laws against “sexual grooming”, which refers to the process of gaining a child’s trust for future sexual exploitation, even though statistics show it has been on the rise.

Mobile chat apps (WhatsApp, WeChat, BeeTalk, Facebook Messenger, etc.) seem to
have become the most popular tools for sex predators in Malaysia, based on Bukit Aman’s statistics.

Since 2015, a whopping 80% of reported rape cases involved sex predators who started out online.

During a sting, R.AGE confronted one such predator, who was propositioning the undercover journalist on WeChat and sending photos of his penis.

“It’s a numbers game,” said the 28-year-old postgraduate student who is a self-confessed sex addict.

“On WeChat and BeeTalk, you can search for people nearby, and filter them based on gender. After I filter out all the men, I just send messages to as many girls as possible.”

The predators then start grooming those who reply to them. They would earn the trust of these children and gradually introduce sex into the conversations.

Another man claimed he is “an expert in massages” and that he had done it on at least two other girls below 15.

The situation has long weighed on Assistant Commissioner Ong Chin Lan, the Bukit Aman Sexual, Women and Child Investigation Division (D11) assistant principal director.

“If we had grooming laws, the authorities might be able to arrest predators like Huckle early on,” said Ong.

“We need to empower our law enforcement agencies.”

Sources: The Star http://rage.com.my/Predator/; http://rage.com.my/catching-sex-predators/

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The affliction that feeds on children


PEDOPHILIA is not a new sex crime. What is new is the attention that it is getting in the public arena in Malaysia especially after the case of Huckle (pic). In fact pedophilia has developed into the hot topic in Criminology.

A pedophile is an individual who prefers to have sex with children. They have an abnormal and an unnatural desire and attraction for sexual relations only with children.

Sexual abuse of the children can begin without people recognizing it because it can be a small act in everyday life.

Pedophiles come from a variety of socioeconomic backgrounds. They are normally male, from any race, educated or uneducated, young or old, rich or poor, employed or unemployed. They can be religious or non-religious, a father, family member or trusted coworker or professional.

Just as Huckle used” wealth and status as Westerner” to exploit children, pedophiles hide behind the cloak of normality, morality and respectability within the community. Research revealed that nine out of ten are close to their mothers.

One of the most popular criminological theories is the notion that criminal behavior is learned in association with those who have criminal attitudes and values.

The majority of criminologists believe that the behavior of a pedophile is caused by environmental factors (nurture), involving upbringing and life experience of the individual. Furthermore, perpetrators confess that they themselves were child victims of sexual abuse.

However, recent studies revealed that individuals suffering from pedophilia are also fostered by genetic or biological traits which eventually lead to criminal behavior.

Colleen Berryessa, a Criminologist, stated that a 2014 Korean report on monozygotic twins with pedophilia, concluded that genetic influences appeared to be more important to the causes and development of pedophilia than environmental factors, including childhood abuse.

But there seems to be little or no agreement about what conclusively makes an individual cause pedophilia.

Experts also believe that there is no permanent treatment to cure pedophiles but some claim therapy treatment can work but is a challenge. Since pedophiles are sociopaths whose behavior is antisocial, lack sense of empathy and moral responsibility for their victims, the disorder is chronic and lifelong.

Studies show that pedophiles are repeat offenders after imprisonment or treatment.

The criminogenic asymmetries factor such as relaxed atmosphere, weaknesses in laws and enforcement produce criminal opportunity, motive for foreign pedophiles like Huckle himself to took advantage of the weak internal controls in a country to find victims. The penalty in their home country is normally more severe.

To fight this crime we need legislative changes, more effective laws, intelligence gathering and sharing, technology such as facial recognition and enhance investigation capabilities by training specialists.

Huckle operates a website called The Love Zone (TLZ) on the Dark Web, a hidden network used to maintain anonymity. His site consisted of photos of the children he abused and shared with other members.

The web is accessible only with specialized software or conducting deep web analysis. To make it more complicated; cybercriminals are often using encryption to protect their malicious data and communications.

There should also be increased focus on proper enforcement and skill level in conducting cybercrime investigations in order to reduce the use of the Dark Web in committing child sexual activities.

Crime prevention should be the priority for police but that should not be their sole responsibility. To prevent crime is the obligation of everyone in society and parents, schools and families have responsibility to ensure children are safe.

They must also instill in children a strong appreciation of right and wrong.

Parents, being the most important people in their children’s lives, must make sure children are not exposed to situations where irresponsible people can take advantage of them.

They must pay attention and respond when any adult seems overly focused on befriending a child, make a spot check on child nurseries and babysitters and do not allow a child to go alone on vacation or spend the night with someone other than those proven to be trustworthy and reliable.

Certainly do not assume that a person is reliable because of position, status, title or working in a place where children commonly gather.

At this point, our country still does not have a central registry for child abusers and pedophiles. The data is very important as it would contain the particulars of sex offenders, allowing law enforcement agencies to keep track and monitor the child sexual activities in our community. We need to protect our children.

By DATUK AKHBAR SATAR

Institute of Crime & Criminology, HELP University

Related:

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Preying on the faithful – Watching The World

Protect our children from sex offenders 

http://www.thestar.com.my/metro/focus/2016/06/10/protect-our-children-from-sex-offenders-malaysia-cannot-be-perceived-as-a-paradise-for-child-abusers/


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Everybody wins when the world invests in girls and women!


A good economy starts with healthy girls

Among the many provocative ideas that emerged from last week’s “Women Deliver” conference in Copenhagen, perhaps the most memorable was the concept that today’s most significant development is not taking the form of superhighways, skyscrapers and other massive structures, but rather the health and well-being of girls and women. And yet, it was stressed, much more development is needed in this regard.

The slogan for the gathering in Denmark – the biggest global conference on women’s health and rights in a decade – was “When the world invests in girls and women, everybody wins!”

In a video address opening the meeting, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared, “It is time to put women and girls at the heart of development.”

That’s part and parcel of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals approved by world leaders last year, aimed at ending extreme poverty and shrinking inequality.

In the modern age, women’s rights have been mooted, debated and battled over for more than a century and shared centre stage during the democratic revolution of the 1960s and early ’70s, but only now is the movement’s rhetoric – so often unintentionally exclusive to women – being replaced with a message that embraces all of society.

As Princess Mary of Denmark pointed out at the conference, the “women’s agenda” is in fact a united and unifying agenda of benefit to humanity as a whole.

And this, added World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim, is why governments should not balk at investing money in the wellbeing of girls and women.

They are forever seeking World Bank loans to build infrastructure, he noted, and yet women “are their most precious infrastructure”.

There are good arguments backing up this claim. As an example, it is frequently overlooked that countries with more women in the workforce enjoy or are closer to achieving sustainable development. A study by McKinsey Global concluded that having as many women as men in the workforce would |add US$28 trillion to the world’s |gross domestic product every year.

Men nevertheless remain dominant in the workforce, the result of patriarchal tradition that erects barriers to full economic participation for millions of women around the planet. In underdeveloped regions the disparity routinely leads to tragic consequences, such as preventable deaths.

The mortality rate among women giving birth in Africa is one in six, compared to one in 9,000 in Europe. One African woman dies every two minutes due to preventable complications in pregnancy and childbirth.

Every year around the world 15 millions girls become child brides and as such are denied education and job opportunities. Thus they too cannot contribute to the economy.

The solution, said Jim and other global leaders speaking in Copenhagen, lies in investing in women and girls, a strategy that is crucial to meeting those Sustainable Development Goals that will benefit the entire human race. “It starts with a healthy girl,” he said, making the message as plain as could be.

Healthy girls are better equipped for education and work. Healthy young women have healthy pregnancies and are better able to be good mothers.

The simplicity of the notion doesn’t disguise the scale of the challenge beyond birth. Access to healthcare, including the full range of sexual- and reproductive-health services, must be financed and delivered. In 2014 around the world 22,000 women died while having unsafe abortions, and 80 per cent of those pregnancies resulted from lack of contraception. This too was preventable.

If women, and particularly teenage girls, can avoid unwanted pregnancy, the positive impact on their lives and thus on society is profound. Gone is a major obstacle to proper education, better economic opportunities and healthier lives. The same applies to child marriage.

Policymakers have to stop overlooking such proven arguments. Investment in the welfare of girls and women must continue to grow, especially in the areas of education and adolescent health. The return on the investment will extend beyond economic prosperity, to the happiness of society in general.

Source: The Nation/Asia News Network

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


The decline in the number – and the rising cost – of domestic maids has forced more young, working parents to send their children to daycare centres.

Daycare Centre

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 7pm daily.

The centres, which only cater for two-month-old babies to children aged six, provide lunch, homework coaching and other activities in the afternoon after the kindergarten session.

“There are even parents-to-be who register at the centre even when they are in the early stages of pregnancy.

“There is very high demand now and parents are looking for safe and trustable daycare centres,” said Hong, adding that she did not plan to set up more daycare centres as she wanted sufficient quality time with her three children.

A daycare centre operator on Penang island, who wanted to be known only as Sarah, said she and her partner were planning to set up two more centres on the mainland.

She added that she had received many enquiries for her services in Butterworth.

“We’re now working out the extra costs we have to bear for hiring more people and rental,” she said.

Technical services manager M. Manimaran felt that increasing the number of daycare centres was an effective alternative for the shortage of maids.

“After all, parents are looking for a safe and good daycare centre which can work around our working hours.

“The place I send my son to even provides transportation from his school to the centre.He gets proper meals and time to do some reading or his homework.

“We have no worries, even during the school holidays,” Manimaran said, adding that he received constant updates about the whereabouts and condition of his 10-year-old son from the daycare centre through WhatsApp.

Working mum Lim Lee, 46, said she would opt to send her child to a daycare centre and hire a part-time maid if her Indonesian maid could not multi-task.

“There is no way I can afford to get two maids,” she said.

Malaysian Maid Employers Association president (Mama) president Engku Ahmad Fauzi Engku Muhsein urged the Government to encourage more nurseries or daycare centres run by properly trained and certified Malaysians.

Such facilities, he said, would not only ease the burden of having to pay for maids but would also give parents peace of mind while they were at work.

Engku Ahmad Fauzi said the expense of using these centres should be tax deductible, adding that it was the Government’s responsibility to solve over-reliance on foreign workers.

These centres, he added, would also provide the local workforce with jobs, ensuring less capital flight from the country.

Ny Royce Tan The Star

Working mums ‘maid’ to pay sky-high fees for childcare

 

Back-up plan: With maids becoming a scarce commodity, more are turning to childcare centres

PETALING JAYA: Dr Subhashini Jahanath is highly educated, hard-­working and does 11 calls a month.

Like many other working mothers, she is now facing the added frustration of sky-high fees for domestic help.

“It’s the childcare that’s difficult – what happens if I get called up in the middle of the night? At the same time, I just cannot afford the fees for a new maid,” she said.

Even then, Dr Subhashini, 35, is one of the lucky ones as she can call on her family for help.

The Miri-based doctor’s father has flown in from Selangor to help take care of her four-year-old son Harraen.

“On days he has to go back to Selangor, I have to send Harraen along with him, which means increased cost and Harraen missing school. But it’s the only way.”

Lawyer V. Shoba, 37, is also blessed with parents who help look after her seven-year-old twins, but still needs a maid to help them.

“My parents are both in their early 70s and need some help with the kids. Having domestic help is not a luxury,” she said.

In 2009, she paid RM6,000 in agency fees and a monthly salary of RM650 for her first Sri Lankan helper.

“In 2011, I got another Sri Lankan maid. The agency fee was RM7,500 and monthly salary was RM850. In 2013, I got a Filipino maid. The agency fee was RM9,900 and the monthly salary was RM1,200,” she said.

The agency fee, she added, has now gone up to RM12,000 and the monthly salary to RM1,500.

“I also have to pay for her toiletries, food and utilities used. That is a chunk of money that could be used for education or even holidays.

For those who are away from their families, babysitters and part-time house help provide alternatives.

Not everyone can call in the grandparent squad, and some parents feel that childcare options out there are not good enough to make them viable alternatives to live-in domestic help.

Corporate communications manager Sonia Gomez, 30, said she could not find any childcare options that were both good and affordable.

“Independent babysitters aren’t regulated, so it would be very tough to cope without my helper, Lia. She is reliable and has a very strong bond with my son,” she said.

Some mothers are opting out of the workforce entirely to take care of their kids.

Stay-at-home mum Evelyn Thong, 37, said she had heard too many daycare horror stories to consider it.

“It’s also too much money to risk. If your maid runs away, you cannot recover your money,” she said.

By Suzanne Lazaroo The Star

Maids for specific tasks only 

 

PETALING JAYA: The days of having a multi-tasking maid who does everything from cooking and washing to caring for the baby and the elderly and even washing the car is as good as gone.

Malaysians must now be prepared to pay more for specialised help.

Source countries such as Indo­nesia want to send upskilled helpers for specific jobs like caregiver, babysitter or nanny, and not the traditional domestic maid.

Malaysian Association of Foreign Maid Agencies (Papa) president Jeffrey Foo said all that was needed now was a mechanism to ensure these helpers were properly trained and certified.

Foo said Papa was ready to work with the source countries to create a win-win situation.

“Local employers will be satisfied if they get what they are paying for, which are skilled helpers who can do the task they are hired for,” he said.

The Star reported yesterday that Malaysia is in a fix because neighbouring countries are not in favour of sending domestic help here.

Foo said Indonesia, where most of the foreign maids are from, is not closing the door entirely.

Instead, it is adopting a more professional approach with its policy to stop sending live-in maids from next year.

A possible solution, according to Foo, is for the Government to license companies to supply part-time domestic maids to households who need them.

These companies could take care of the maids’ lodging and food but this would require a shift in government policy.

Foo pointed out that foreign workers brought in as cleaners were not supposed to be sent to work as domestic maids at individual homes.

Malaysian Maid Employers Association president (Mama) president Engku Ahmad Fauzi Engku Muhsein pointed out that the current system of having maids stay under the same roof as their employers for two years was not always ideal.

“If you’re lucky, there’s harmony. Otherwise, you get two years of disharmony,” he said.

He echoed the view for local agencies to be allowed a supply of part-time maids.

Engku Ahmad Fauzi said there were currently different expectations between local employers and source countries such as Indonesia.

In Indonesia, helpers are hired and trained as caregivers to take care of infants, children and the elderly or as domestic workers who cook, clean and tidy.

M. Sarkuna, a 40-year-old Indonesian maid working here, said those who took care of babies, children and the elderly earned at least RM800 in Jakarta, while those who cooked could take home about RM700.

“The starting pay for those who do household work is only RM500,” she said.

In Malaysia, Engku Ahmad Fauzi said employers often took for granted that maids had to multi-task.

He said the best and most well-trained helpers were not sent here, yet “Malaysian employers want to pay the lowest for the best”.

The way forward, at least in the short term, was to hire maids from cheaper and better source countries besides Indonesia and Philippines, he said.

“But Malaysians need to stop depending on domestic maids in the long run,” he added.

By Neville Spykerman The Star

Leftover women and men: the sheng nu and sheng nan (guang gun)


http://t.cn/RqKJeMK

Pro-singledom ad goes viral

Women in China who don’t get married after a certain age
are often called ‘leftover women’. By telling what many of these single
women are really thinking, a cosmetics ad has gone viral.

http://t.cn/RqoWcGm

Studio interview: Leftover women a popular label in China

 Now for more discussion, we are joined in the studio by social affairs critic Han Hua. Ms.

Marriage isn’t the only path to bliss

“I AM a sheng nu,” Jenny Yan, 30, proclaimed.

The car sales executive has been single for about a year after breaking up with her boyfriend of three years.

“I am now searching for my life partner with the frame of min

d of a sheng nu,” she said.

Literally “leftover women”, sheng nu is a derogatory term in China for single women who, in the eyes of society, have passed the ideal time to get married and still remain unattached in their late 20s and beyond.

The term sheng nu suggests that Chinese society sees the singletons as undesirable, almost like the coarser particles that are left on a sieve.

Single men, on the other hand, are known as sheng nan (leftover men) or guang gun (bare sticks).

The situation seems to be more dire for men, as they will outnumber women by 24 million by 2020 due to the country’s gender imbalance, but they are less stigmatised than single ladies in the patriarchal society.

While Yan said her parents look forward to her settling down, they are not putting too much pressure on her. She is taking the initiative to search for a suitor.

“When I was in my 20s, I relied solely on feelings and paid no heed to all the realistic factors, but now I won’t have too much expectations,” Yan said.

“To create more chances for myself, I’ll agree to meet and get to know the other person whenever friends recommend possible suitors to me.”

The stigma surrounding sheng nu often leads to heated discussions, with single ladies determined to shake off the shame and outdated judgment that society forces on them.

A recent advertisement by Japanese beauty products brand SK-II rightly triggered a flood of support from women in China.

Themed “Change Destiny”, the four-minute long clip walked viewers through the humiliation single ladies faced in China, which more often than not resulted in self-doubt and self-criticism.

“Maybe I should give up on someone I love for someone who’s suitable,” one of the ladies said to the camera, dabbing her eyes with a tissue.

Their parents were a major source of pressure, urging them to stop being so choosy and quickly settle down. Instead of being supportive, they were critical of their daughters.

“I used to think my daughter has great personality.

“She is not too pretty, just average. That’s why she is a leftover,” a mother said with a light chuckle, while her daughter, who was sitting next to her, tried hard to contain her tears.

A father said: “As long as you are not married, I cannot die in peace.”

One of the single women featured in the advertisement said remaining single is considered not filial in China.

“Maybe I am being selfish. I want to say sorry to them,” she said, breaking down in sobs.

In the advertisement, the ladies decided to attend the Shanghai Marriage Market, a weekend fair at the People’s Park where parents “promote” their single and available daughters and sons with details such as age, height, profession, income and assets.

In a turn of events, it was revealed that the ladies were not there to look for partners but to tell their parents that marriage isn’t the only path to happiness.

Professional portraits which depicted them as confident and glowing women were exhibited in the park, along with a personal message.

“I don’t want to get married just for the sake of marriage. I won’t live happily that way,” one of them, identified as Li Yuxuan, 33, said.

Another lady, whose mother has previously dismissed her as just average-looking, said to the camera: “Even if I am alone, I can be happy, confident and have a good life.”

Since it was posted on SK-II’s official Weibo account, the video has recorded two million views and was shared 25,000 times.

Sindy Huang, 36, said she was touched by the advertisement.

“The details in the advertisement were moving, such as their skin condition, their sleep-deprived look, and the helplessness in their eyes. I feel like I am watching myself,” she said.

The Beijing-based journalist who hailed from Zhejiang province said Chinese society has the tendency to sympathise with single ladies.

“Many people think sheng nu is the main cause of an unstable society, and parents are desperate for us to get married because they don’t want us to grow old alone,” she said.

Both Yan and Huang said while they yearn for true love and a family of their own, they would not rush into a relationship and preferred to wait for the right person to come along.

Huang said girls have to have a strong inner centre to help them face the pressure from society.

When ridiculed by married friends, she said she would retort by asking them if they are in a state of perfect happiness.

“That shuts them up. Some of them even conceded that I was right,” she added.

However, not everyone held the SK-II advertisement in high regard.

Some were in the opinion that the short film has exploited single women’s weaknesses to boost views.

A writer identified as Gu Yingying likened the advert to “a bottle of dirty water splashing onto (women’s) independence and confidence”.

Towards the end of the short film, one of the mothers exclaimed, “Sheng nu should be proud!”

In taking an apparent jab at this particular line, Gu wrote on her WeChat official account: “Sheng nu is not an honour, and neither is marriage. This is just a life choice and has nothing to do with honour.”

She said the women yearned for marriage and love but had to emphasise, with teary eyes, in front of the camera that they are okay being single.

Huang disagreed with the comments that dolling the ladies up in the advertisement is just a typical way to confront the dominant ideology of patriarchy.

“There isn’t anything wrong with dressing up. Those who are not sheng nu will never understand the pain of singletons.

“I am okay with the creative execution of the advertisement. It isn’t targeted at men or housewives, after all,” she said.

As for Yan, she said she won’t search blindly, but she won’t slack either in finding a suitor.

“Since I have reached the appropriate age to get married and get pregnant, I should be more proactive,” she said.

“I am planning to participate in mass dating events. Let’s see how it goes.”

By Tho Zin Yi Check-in China

Old and ageing abused by their own Children


PETALING JAYA: When his son left him at a bus station, John (not his real name) waited patiently for him to return. Five hours later, he was still waiting. Passers-by noticed him and called the police.

The 72-year-old man has dementia and was sent to hospital. Medical social workers managed to get him to recall his son’s telephone number.

When they called John’s son, he did not want to take his father home.

People like John are vulnerable to abuse and neglect, and he is not eligible for government shelter for the elderly because he still has a family.

John is among many Malaysian elderly folk who are facing abuse and neglect. According to a study, one in 10 urban elderly Malaysian is abused, with financial abuse being the most common.

The survey by a team of researchers from the Department of Social and Preventative Medicine under Universiti Malaya’s Medical Faculty said psychological abuse was the next most common followed by physical abuse.

“A pilot survey was done among the urban poor in Kuala Lumpur in 2012 involving 291 individuals above the age of 60. There were elders living in low-cost government-subsidised flats. Of the total, 9.6% said they experienced one or more forms of abuse within the last 12 months of the survey,” said Dr Noran Naqiah Hairi.

By S. Indramalar The Star/Asia News Network

Related Story:

You really should know what it feels like to grow old 

Dr Noran is leading the Prevent Elder Abuse and Neglect Initiative (Peace) with her colleague Dr Clare Choo.

The team also found that one in 20 rural elders have experienced abuse based on a survey they did among 2,000 respondents in Kuala Pilah, Negri Sembilan.

The most common abuse reported among rural elders is psychological followed by financial.

Anita (not her real name) is a subject of financial abuse. As she has arthritis, she found it difficult to go to the bank. Her son persuaded the 68-year-old retired clerk to give him the authority to handle her finances.

Soon after, he got his widowed mother to sign over her house to him.

“I didn’t want to, but I was bullied into signing my house over. He kept accusing me of not trusting him.

“At first, everything was all right. But then he began investing my money in all kinds of ventures. I have no say in what he does with my money. When I ask him, it gets unpleasant.

“But I am worried what will happen when my money runs out,” laments Anita, who lives with her son in Petaling Jaya.

Still, she would never report her son because elder abuse is not a topic Malaysians discuss openly.

Deputy Women, Family and Com­munity Development Minister Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun admits that reported figures do not paint the actual picture.

“These are only the cases that come to us. There may be more that we do not know of,” she said.

Most of elder abuse cases go unreported as many see it as a “family problem” which can be dealt with behind closed doors.

Only 23 cases of elder abuse and neglect were reported in the past three years, according to statistics from the ministry.

The study, however, shows it is far more prevalent.

“The Peace study is the first of its kind in Malaysia and it corroborates prevalence rates of elder abuse and neglect in other Asian countries which range from 14% to 27.5%,” added Dr Noran.

Related stories:

Urgent need to address elder abuse

Old mums face wrath of addict children

Aging in agony

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