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

Malaysian Islamic State militants: Dr Mahmud is forming South-East Asian terror bloc; Paris attacks !


Regional faction to unite different terror cells from Malaysia, Indonesia and Philippines

KUALA LUMPUR: Wanted Malay­sian IS militants hiding in southern Philippines are planning to form an “official” Islamic State faction in South-East Asia.

The region’s IS faction is also plaanning to unite different terror cells in Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

It will include among others the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and other terror groups in the region.

Integral in the plan is former Universiti Malaya lecturer Dr Mah­mud Ahmad, who is high on the wanted list for his involvement with the IS along with his cohorts – sundry shop owner Mohd Najib Husen and former Selayang Muni­cipal Council employee Muham­mad Joraimee Awang Raimee, 39.

Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division head Senior Asst Comm Datuk Ayob Khan (pic) said Dr Mahmud, also known as Abu Handzalah, was actively training with the ASG as well as taking part in terror operations in the southern Philippines.

“Intelligence indicates that he was involved in two bomb attacks against the Philippines’ army recently.

“We believe the ASG regards him highly as an asset,” he told The Star yesterday.

But SAC Ayob indicated Dr Mahmud was not content with just being involved with the ASG.

His ultimate goal is to officially form the South-East Asian IS.

“He has performed the bai’ah or the oath of allegiance on video but to form the South-East Asian cell of IS, Dr Mahmud has to travel to Syria and swear his allegiance in front of IS supremo Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

“We discovered through intelligence sharing that going to Syria is his priority now,” he said.

The same could be said for the different terror groups, especially the ASG, where the leaders had also sworn allegiance to Abu Bakr on video, added SAC Ayob.

“These groups are only seen as IS allies, and not an official IS cell,” he said.

He added that if Dr Mahmud’s plans came to fruition, it would spell even more danger to the region with the different terror groups operating under one banner.

“We are cooperating with other security forces in the region, especially the Philippines, to ensure that this will not occur.

“We believe that Dr Mahmud is trying different means to gain safe passage to Syria, including using fake identification documents and passports but we will remain vigilant,” he said.

SAC Ayob said his division was committed towards combating any terror element be it foreign or domestic.

“Our priority is intelligence ga­thering to ensure that we are on top of any development concerning militant groups,” he said.

“We are working with our counterparts in the Philippines to track down and capture Dr Mahmud and his accomplices.”

SAC Ayob, who has been dealing with terrorism matters for more than 20 years, said it was not uncommon for militant scholars or academicians to become leaders like Dr Azahari Hussin and Noordin Mat Top to name a few.

The trio – Dr Mahmud, Mohd Najib and Joraimee – have been on Bukit Aman’s wanted list since April 2014 following their escape to southern Philippines.

SAC Ayob urged anyone with information on militancy to contact the nearest police station or the counter-terrorism division at 03-2266 7010 or 011-2104 6850 or to e-mail CTD.E8M@gmail.com.

BY FARIK ZOLKEPLI The Star/Asia News Network

Ex-lecturer trained with al-Qaeda while studying

KUALA LUMPUR: Wanted militant Dr Mahmud Ahmad was apparently involved in militancy since the 1990s.

Bukit Aman Special Branch Counter Terrorism Division head Senior Asst Comm Datuk Ayob Khan said, at 36, the former Universiti Malaya lecturer was a veteran militant, having trained with al-Qaeda in Afghanistan in the late 1990s while he was studying in Pakistan.

“Once he became a university lecturer, he recruited and sent four Malaysians to Syria.

“Prior to joining UM, he used his position as a lecturer at a private college to lure students into militancy,” he told The Star yesterday.

He added that in January last year, Dr Mahmud managed to arrange a meeting between the region’s militant leaders to form the Daulah Islamiyah Asia Tenggara.

“He then followed up by meeting with al-Qaeda elements at a house in Shah Alam in April 2014,” he said.

Sources revealed that Dr Mahmud was responsible for instil­ling extremist ideology and convincing Ahmad Tarmimi Maliki to become the first Malaysian suicide bomber.

“Ahmad Tarmimi’s suicide bomb attack killed 25 special forces personnel in Iraq last year,” one source said.

Dr Mahmud along with his two accomplices – sundry shop owner Mohd Najib Husen and Selayang Mu­­nicipal Council employee Mu­­ham­­mad Joraimee Awang Raimee, 39 – fled to southern Philippines on April 22 last year.

It is learnt that the three were also responsible for smuggling three East Turkmenistan Islamic Movement fighters to southern Philippines.

Another source revealed that Mohd Najib could be described as Dr Mahmud’s right-hand man and closest confidant.

“Mohd Najib is also instrumental in arranging various meetings with other militant groups at the behest of Dr Mahmud,” the source said.

The source added that the sundry shop owner had vast experience in militancy and provided Dr Mahmud with the necessary links to other militant groups, including those from Indonesia. – The Star

Related:

Terrorists attack Paris !

• A total of six locations were attacked in and just outside the capital, Paris prosecutor François Molins told reporters Saturday.

Related posts:

Economic woes a test for South East Asia


Speculative attacks will challenge reserves, defences built after 1997/98

A man is silhouetted as he fishes near Northport in Klang outside Kuala Lumpur June 6, 2014.
REUTERS/SAMSUL SAID

Southeast Asia has spent the best past of two decades shoring defenses against a repeat of the Asian financial crisis, including building up record foreign exchange reserves, yet is now feeling vulnerable to speculative attacks again.

Officials are growing increasingly concerned as souring sentiment has made currencies slide and investors reassess risk profiles in an environment where China is slowing and U.S. interest rates will rise at some point.

And while economists have long dismissed comparisons with the 1997/98 currency crisis, pointing to freer exchange rates, current-account surpluses, lower external debt and stricter oversight by regulators, lately there has been a change.

Malaysia and Indonesia, which export oil and other commodities to fuel China’s factories, are looking vulnerable as the world’s second-largest economy heads for its slowest growth in 25 years and the prices of their commodity exports plunge.

“We are worried about the contagion effect,” Indonesian Finance Minister Bambang Brodjonegoro said last week, using a word widely used in 1997/98.

In 1997, “the thing happened first in Thailand through the baht, not the rupiah. But the contagion effect became widespread,” he added.

Taimur Baig, Deutsche Bank’s chief Asia economist, said that unlike 1997, when pegged currencies were attacked as over-valued, today’s floating ones are “weakening willingly” in response to outflows.

But there can still be contagion, as markets lump together economies reliant on China or on commodities. “If you see a sell-off in Brazil, that can easily spread to Indonesia, which can spread to Malaysia, and so on,” he said.

Foreign funds have sold a net $9.7 billion of stocks in Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia this year, with the bourses in those three countries seeing Asia’s largest net outflows, Nomura said on Oct. 2.

Baig said that as in 1997/98, falling currencies will naturally pose balance-sheet problems for companies with dollar debts and local-currency earnings.

This year, Malaysia’s ringgit MYR= has fallen nearly 20 percent against the dollar and its reserves dropped by about the same percentage, to below $100 billion.

“It’s almost like a perfect storm for Malaysia,” the country’s economic planning minister, Abdul Wahid Omar, said.

Malaysian officials insist the economic fundamentals are stronger than two decades ago, but some economists aren’t sure.

Chua Hak Bin of Bank of America Merrill Lynch said he draws “little comfort” from comparisons with 1997. While in many ways Malaysia’s economy is stronger now, for example by having a current account surplus, its external debt is 70 percent of gross domestic product, compared with 44 percent in 1997, and there’s “significant downside risk even after the sharp ringgit correction”.

None of the three main credit-rating agencies has downgraded Malaysia’s creditworthiness in response to market ructions, but Moody’s said in September the currency’s fall was a symptom of declining exports and other factors negatively impacting key credit buffers.

SOURING SENTIMENT

Indonesia, Southeast Asia’s largest economy, has a lower external debt relative to GDP – 32 percent – but foreigners also own a large share its local-currency bonds.

This makes the rupiah, down 13 percent against the dollar this year after jumping on Tuesday, vulnerable to souring sentiment.

“We are trying to differentiate ourselves from Malaysia,” Indonesia’s Brodjonegoro said. “At least we can get the inflows, we can still create positive sentiment.”

At end-February, Indonesia’s reserves topped $115.5 billion. On Sept. 21, they were $103 billion.

On Wednesday, the central banks of Indonesia and Malaysia are due to announce fresh reserve figures.

By months of import cover, Southeast Asia’s holdings of foreign reserves still seem sufficient. But looking at them relative to overall foreign financing needs, they are more stretched.

Malaysia’s reserves barely cover its short-term external debt due this year, while Deutsche Bank says Indonesia’s are about 1.5 times what’s needed to finance its debts and current-account deficit.

The Philippines, by contrast, has reserves equal to 11 times its financing needs. The $2 billion monthly remittances from its overseas workers provides a solid buffer.

BY NICHOLAS OWEN Reuters

Related post:

AirAsia pilot’s son obsessed with video games don’t know dad is gone!


AirAsia pilot son

Galih, the 10-year-old son of AirAsia Flight QZ8501 pilot Capt Iriyanto, is still unaware of what has happened to his father

SURABAYA: It seemed like any other Saturday morning at the home of Indonesia AirAsia Flight QZ8501 pilot Capt Iriyanto, with the television on and birds chirping outside in Jalan Pondok Jati in an upscale neighbourhood of Siduarjo, East Java.

So much so, a stranger wouldn’t have guessed that the owner of the two-storey bungalow was involved in the air crash last Sunday and remains missing. And this impression was intentional – put on for the benefit of the experienced pilot’s 10-year-old son, Galih (pic).

“Until today, he doe not know what has happened to his father. We are not planning to tell him until the remains of his father are found,” said Capt Iriyanto’s brother-in-law Wahyu Budi Bornomo.

Wahyu, 53, said Galih would usually ask about his father if he did not see him around.

“He would ask if ‘papa’ was home. If he did not see him, he would assume that his father was out somewhere flying – Galih is used to not seeing Capt Iriyanto most of the time.”

He said the schoolgoer’s obsession with video games would keep him preoccupied at home, when asked if he noticed the unusual crowd that had been coming to their residence every night for prayers since the plane went missing.

“He is an avid video gamer and spends most of his time upstairs.

“He would wonder about the crowd (that were coming to the house because of the tragedy), but was never curious,” said Wahyu.

When The Star visited the house at 8am local time, his wife, Ida, was talking to her sisters at the porch, politely declining to be interviewed.

“Maaf ya, nanti aja. Saya ngak mau cakap. (I am sorry, just wait. I do not want to talk),” she said, before walking back into the house.

Clad in a T-shirt and shorts, Capt Iriyanto’s daughter, Ninis, 25, was seen going in and out of the house to run errands.

Wahyu said Capt Iriyanto was “a loving husband and father”, and a caring man who helped his neighbours.

“He will be missed dearly by everyone.”

Not too long after that, Galih, who was still in his Mickey Mouse pyjamas, came down from his room, looking for his sister.

“Smile for the camera!” Ninis told Galih as The Star’s photographer points her camera towards him.

Asked if Capt Iriyanto’s family had been this calm since the news of the tragedy hit them, Wahyu said: “At first, of course, we were all shocked. Ida refused to talk to anyone, but as days passed by, she became okay.”

By Rahmah Qhazali The Star/ANN

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It is unlikely that Indonesia AirAsia Flight QZ8501 exploded in
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spotted …
AirAsia flight QZ8501 lost contact with air
traffic control at 7.24am yesterday. There were 162 people on board –
155 passengers, and 7 c…

AirAsia Flight QZ8501 exploded in mid-air?


It is unlikely that Indonesia AirAsia Flight QZ8501 exploded in mid-air, air crash experts say, as the first pieces of debris were spotted and some bodies recovered.

http://static.movideo.com/flash/movideo_player.swf

Chances are that the plane hit the Java Sea intact and broke up upon impact before plunging to the ocean floor.

The wreckage of the Airbus 320-200 was found more than 48 hours after the ill-fated flight, which left Surabaya for Singapore on Sunday morning with 162 people on board, went missing.

A search and rescue worker preparing to load body bags onto a flight to Kalimantan in Pangkal Pinang on Indonesia's Bangka island yesterday. As operations move to search and recovery, it would take weeks before the authorities and investigators are able to determine how and why the crash happened. -- PHOTO: REUTERS
A search and rescue worker preparing to load body bags onto a flight to Kalimantan in Pangkal Pinang on Indonesia’s Bangka island yesterday. As operations move to search and recovery, it would take weeks before the authorities and investigators are able to determine how and why the crash happened. — PHOTO: REUTERS

Search teams reported seeing some bodies intact.

An air force plane reportedly spotted a shadow of what looked like a plane on the seabed.
AirAsia QZ8501 debris
AirAsia QZ8501 debris

As the operations move from search and locate, to search and recovery, it would take weeks before enough pieces of wreckage and human remains are recovered for the authorities and investigators to determine how and why the crash happened.

Critical to this is finding the plane’s black boxes which record conversations in the cockpit and preserve data on the position and speed of the aircraft.

But looking at what is known so far, there are several possibilities on what could have happened.

Retired United States airline pilot John Cox, who runs his own consultancy, said: “I am now seeing doors and reports of a large section located on the sea floor which are indicators, but not conclusive evidence, that the plane was in one piece when it hit the ocean.

“If the wingtips, nose and tail are found in the same area, then it will be conclusive that the plane was intact upon impact with the water.”
AirAsia QZ8501 search areas
AirAsia QZ8501 search areas

Mr Jacques Astre, president of industry consultancy International Aviation Safety Solution, said: “The fact that the debris field is relatively small would suggest the aircraft broke up upon impact with the sea and not in flight.”

If some bodies are found intact, it would suggest the same, said Mr H.R. Mohandas, a former pilot and now programme head for the diploma in aviation management at Republic Polytechnic.

Mr Astre added: “The close proximity of the debris field to its last known location also suggests the aircraft descended fairly quickly.”

The area is about 10km from the aircraft’s last known location over the Java Sea.

The first sign of trouble came about 45 minutes after the plane left Surabaya at 5.30am – an hour behind Singapore time – for the two-hour sector. At 6.12am, the cockpit requested permission from the Jakarta air traffic control to turn left to avoid a storm, which is common procedure when pilots encounter rough weather.

The pilot then asked to take the plane higher to 38,000 feet from its position at 32,000 feet, without explaining why.

The air traffic control decided to allow the plane to increase its height but only to 34,000 feet, because at that time another AirAsia flight was flying at 38,000 feet.

But when this was communicated to the pilot of QZ8501, there was no response from the cockpit.


Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) servicemen onboard a C-130 aircraft take part in the search and locate (SAL) operation for missing AirAsia flight QZ8501 over the Java sea on December 30, 2014.–PHOTO: AFP

Data from Indonesia’s meteorological agency showed slight rain in the Belitung and Pontianak areas when the plane was estimated to be flying through the vicinity, with thick cumulonimbus clouds as high as 45,000 feet.

Such clouds can produce lightning and other dangerous weather conditions, such as gusts, hail and occasional tornadoes.

Mr Mark D. Martin, founder and chief executive officer of Martin Consulting, said: “In the unfortunate event of entering a cumulonimbus cloud at flight levels between 31,000 feet and 38,000 feet, it is common to see heavy updrafts and downdrafts, icing on control surfaces which can freeze corrective pilot actions, aggressive aircraft manoeuvres and the aircraft dramatically lose altitude in excess of 5,000 feet per minute.”

A similar incident had occurred in June 2009 when Air France Flight AF447 plunged into the Atlantic Ocean, leaving no survivors, during a flight from Rio de Janeiro to Paris.

Official investigations concluded that the aircraft crashed after pilots failed to react correctly to temporary inconsistencies between air speed measurements.

This was likely due to ice crystals blocking the plane’s pitot tubes, which measure air speed.

Mr Mohandas said: “It is possible that something similar happened to Flight QZ8501. In their attempt to avoid extreme weather conditions, the pilots could have taken some actions, including possibly initiating a climb which requires more power.

“This coupled with adverse weather conditions, including turbulence, and possibly the formation of ice on the surface of the aircraft at high altitude, could have disengaged the plane’s auto-pilot systems.”

He said: “With little or no visibility and without auto pilot, you don’t know what’s in front of you and the crew could have become disorientated. Under such circumstances, the plane could have gone into an uncontrolled descent.”

With the wreckage found, experts can start piecing together the final moments of Flight QZ8501. To the relatives of those who perished, this may bring a sense of closure but, perhaps, no relief from the pain.

karam@sph.com.sg Straits Times/ANN

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AirAsia flight QZ8501 lost contact with air traffic control at 7.24am yesterday. There were 162 people on board – 155 passengers, and 7 c…

AirAsia flight QZ8501 disappearance caps horrendous 2014 for Malaysia-affiliated airline!


AirAsia flight QZ8501 lost contact with air traffic control at 7.24am yesterday. There were 162 people on board – 155 passengers, and 7 crew members. The plane was last seen between the Indonesian island of Belitung, and Pontianak in Borneo. There was bad weather over Belitung at the time.

Key points:

– An AirAsia flight QZ8501 from the Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore lost contact with air traffic control on Sunday at around 6:17 am local time.

– AirAsia has established an emergency call center. The number is +622129850801.

– Plane requested to deviation due to bad weather before contact was lost

– Plane is carrying 162 people – 155 Indonesian, three South Koreans, one French, one Malaysian, one Briton and one Singaporean.

Briton Choi Chi Man and his two-year-old daughter feared missing on the Air Asia plane was only on board because there was no room on an earlier flight, friends said. His wife and son flew on earlier flight.

Mr Choi, who is originally from Hull, Yorkshire, lives in Singapore but works in Indonesia where he is a unit managing director for electronic manufacturing firm Alstom Power.

An engineering graduate of Essex University, his parents still live in Hull, after emigrating from Hong Kong, and he is understood to have a brother and sister in the UK. – the Daily Telegraph

AirAsia,has been operating in Indonesia for 10 years, is 49% owned by Malaysia-listed AirAsia Bhd. The remaining stake is held by an Indonesia company that has 3 individuals as shareholders: Pin Harris with 20%, Senjaya Wijaya with 21% and a privately held entity PT Fersindo Nusaperkasa with 10%

The private company is believed to be linked to Riza Chalid, a tycoon said to have close links to Probowo Subbianto, who put up a strong challenge against Joko Widodo for the presidency post recently.

The incident caps a disastrous year for Malaysia-affiliated airlines.

Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 went missing on March 8 on a trip from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew on board and has not been found.

On July 17, the same airline’s Flight MH17 was shot down over Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.

Experts compare disappearance to vanished Malaysia Airlines flight MH370

Google
The last communication between QZ8501's pilot and air traffic control was when he requested to increase his altitude to 34,000 feet due to bad weather

Weather: The last communication between QZ8501’s pilot and
air traffic control was when he requested to increase altitude due to
bad weather

 

View image on Twitter

@WilliamsJon

Hours after the disappearance of QZ8501 aviation experts have begun comparing the incident with still-missing Malaysian Airlines MH370.

Like MH370, the AirAsia flight disappeared from radars and made no further communication with Air Traffic Control – not even an emergency “squawk”.  Yesterday aviation expert Peter Stuart Smith said it was strange that QZ8501 had made no further contact was made with Air traffic control.

“Even if we assume that the aircraft did encounter such incredibly adverse weather conditions that it broke up in midair or the conditions led to the pilots losing control, there are still a number of questions that need answering,” said Mr Smith.

“Obviously the first priority for the pilots is to fly the aircraft but relaying a message to Air Traffic Control (ATC) about what’s happening only involves depressing a single button on the control column and simply speaking.

“It would also only take a few seconds to squawk 7700 (emergency) on the SSR box which would alert ATC to there being a problem -although not what the problem was.”

Passenger who boarded Flight QZ8501 joked ‘goodbye forever’ to pal hours before plane vanished

A passenger who boarded missing Flight QZ8501 joked “goodbye forever” to a pal hours before the plane vanished en route from Indonesia to Singapore.

The distraught friend, a man in his 20s, told Indonesia’s TV One on Sunday: “This morning, before I went to pray, one of them called me and jokingly said: ‘See you in the new year and goodbye forever’.

“That’s all and then the bad news came.”

The man said he had planned to go on the trip but cancelled it two weeks ago because he was busy.

“I have two friends who were with five family members,” he said tearfully.

“Yes, I planned to spend (New Year’s Day) in Singapore actually.

“I hope for a miracle and may God save them all.

“I should have gone with them but I cancelled it two weeks ago as I had something to do.”

 

Full coverage:

AirAsia’s Flight QZ8501 Lost Contact

AirAsia plane with 162 people on board missing

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China’s assertiveness, confidence and trust, long history together with Asean


China and South-East Asia have had a long history together, but they still need to work hard to consolidate confidence and trust.

Xi_WifeHighlights: President Xi’s Southeast Asia tour

RECENTLY, the Chinese Ambassador to Malaysia, Chai Xi, remarked that the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping will lift the bilateral ties of the two nations to a higher level.

Saying that the Sino-Malaysian relationship has taken the lead when compared to the other members of Asean, Chai pointed out that China has become Malaysia’s biggest trading partner in the world, with the first seven months of this year recording a 14.9% increase in bilateral trade to US$59.72bil (RM190.6bil).

Indeed, Xi’s visit to Malaysia was historic not only because it was his first state visit to the region since assuming office, but also in the sense that it marks another step in the continuation of the long history that Malaysia has shared with China.

It is a history that can be traced back to the 15th century, when the famous Chinese explorer Admiral Zeng He of the Ming Dynasty landed on the port city of Malacca only to find a thriving community of Chinese traders that had long established ties with the local population here.

Fast forward to the 20th century, into the height of the Cold War, and we have an international environment that is mired in suspicion and misperception, with loyalties mostly split along clear ideological lines. South-East Asia was a particular hotbed, and there was a great fear that China would turn its attention to the young and small nations of the region and begin forcibly exerting its influence to bring them under its sphere of control.

And yet, amid all the paranoia and balancing among all the nations in South-East Asia, Malaysia had the foresight of Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, who clearly understood the gravity and inevitability of China’s peaceful rise when he pushed for Kuala Lumpur to be the first in the region to establish diplomatic relations and normalise ties with Beijing in 1974.

Those who express opinions implying that it is possible to shape the direction of regional security and development without including China display a worrying lack of understanding and appreciation of the lessons of history, particularly that of the region.

That China will fulfil its cyclical destiny and rise to take centre stage in Asia and become a major player in world affairs is no longer a question, but the character and nature of the rise will ultimately depend on how others might want to meet this rise halfway.

Successive Chinese leaderships have assured the rest of the world that their rise is a peaceful one, which does not seek to create ripples and waves in the international world order, and there is plenty of evidence to support that assertion.

China is in pursuit of rapid economic growth and expansion to lift its 1.3 billion-strong population into the developed world. In order to do this, China needs wide-ranging support from the global community and a stable and peaceful international environment.

But China’s growing assertiveness, especially in the South China Sea, may unfortunately send the wrong signals to certain parties, and this is especially the case if there is very little understanding as to why China feels the need to proceed in such a manner.

The complexities and nuances that surround China’s actions are likely to be lost if the nervousness and concerns of its regional neighbours are not promptly and clearly addressed.

Asean countries have high hopes as to how far the Chinese dream can trailblaze the growth of the region and provide the developmental slipstream for them to follow suit.

However, the region is, understandably, still wary as it bears fresh scars of at least two other dreams before this: one that carried the salvation of “the white man’s burden” from the West, and another that sought to build a “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere” from the East (Japanese occupation).

Granted, the Chinese dream is categorically different from these expressions of imperialism cloaked in ideology, but one needs to understand the reasons why sovereignty is an overriding concern in the region and some react strongly to the movements of greater powers.

It should not be such a stretch for China, which bears the memory of the century of humiliation dealt by former European powers through their unequal treaties, to see that the concerns of its smaller regional neighbours run along similar lines.

China and South-East Asia have had a long history together, but they must also work hard at understanding each other better so that the confidence and trust that has been built over time, albeit interrupted by occasional incidents, can be strengthened, consolidated, and built upon extensively. Trust and understanding are not built overnight, but we are not mistaken to think that the process has been going on for quite some time now.

Networks of relationships have been stitched across the region for centuries, from the trading routes and migration patterns of yesteryear to the regional production networks and the financial and business networks of contemporary times. Part of the reason why South-East Asia has been developing rapidly has been attributed to the “bamboo networks”, the ethnic-based business networks built upon the hubs and spokes of the Chinese diaspora that intersperse the region, with firm roots in the local communities but sturdily connected to the regional landscape.

But while the “infrastructure” of trust has already been firmly built between China and South-East Asia in the form of these networks of ties, which some scholars refer to as the “invisible linkages” that hold us together, there needs to be a more concerted effort to bring about more interaction and discourse, which are the lifeblood of trust, to engage the various communities at multiple levels.

These connections and dealings must not only dwell exclusively on economic and security issues; although important and, some may even argue, central, there should also be some effort invested into exploring how the cultural and normative aspects of these relations can be worked upon and perhaps improved, presenting opportunities to further strengthen the trust and deepen the understanding between China and its smaller neighbours.

In this respect, the idea of moderation as espoused by Malaysian Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and reiterated by him in his recent address to the United Nations General Assembly, may lend itself as a starting point in the search for mutualities of interest. This framework of moderation calls for the exercise of restraint and the creation of a discursive environment that allows for a multiplicity of voices to come together and collectively work towards solutions, defusing tensions and avoiding conflict.

This notion is perhaps compatible to the Chinese Dream; as China aspires for peaceful development with Chinese characteristics towards a moderately prosperous society, Malaysia and the rest of South-East Asia pursue their own goal of development that holds fast to moderate principles, so that their race towards becoming fully developed nations does not sacrifice their identities, traditions and culture, and sovereignty, the very things that make them what they are.

The idea of building a truly authentic East Asian community can begin with this very simple but powerful idea, and as Malaysia looks forward to assuming the chairmanship of Asean in 2015, it also looks to further strengthen ties between China, itself and the region through the values and principle of moderation.

Contributed by Tan Sri Razali Ismail
> Tan Sri Razali Ismail is Chairman of Global Movement of Moderates Foundation (GMM). The GMM is an initiative of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak that calls for combating the scourge of extremism in five broad areas – peaceful co-existence, democracy and rule of law, finance, education and conflict resolution. The views expressed are entirely the writer’s own

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