Monday, August 17, 2009

H1N1-More Deaths

Three more deaths have been reported from the Influenza A (H1N1) virus, bringing the overall death toll to 62.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said there were delays in administering patients with anti-viral treatment in two of the three deaths.
“The ministry will check on why there was a delay,” he said yesterday.
The delay involved a three-year-old boy who was admitted on Aug 1 for fever, cough and dyspnea for five days where he received anti-viral treatment beginning Aug 3 but died last Friday due to severe pneumonia, he said.
The other case was a 50-year-old man warded on Aug 3 with cough, fever, dyspnea, vomitting and diarrohea, he said.
He had influenza-like symptoms since July 28 and anti-viral drugs were given on Aug 4 but he died last Friday due to septicemia and pneumonia, Liow said.
In the third case, a six-year-old Down Syndrome boy suffered from congenital heart problem despite being given anti-viral treatment on the same day he was admitted to hospital on Aug 9 for cough, fever and dyspnea.
He died on Aug 13 due to severe pneumonia with underlying problems and complications.
Speaking after launching a healthy lifestyle campaign here, Liow said there were 283 new cases of infection, bringing the tally up to 3,857 cases.
Thirty-three patients remained in the intensive care unit and out of the number, 16 had co-morbid conditions and chronic diseases while 213 were hospitalised in normal wards, he said.
He urged the public to practise social distancing when they have influenza-like symptoms.
The ministry could apply the Disease Control Act to fine those who knowingly infect others up to RM10,000 or jail up to two years, he said.
On private doctors recently saying that they were reluctant to stock up much anti-virals because the ministry’s guidelines were inconsistent, and that they would prescribe the drug on a case-to-case basis, Liow said the guidelines were clear.
On private doctors complaining about the high prices and the lack of stock of the drugs, he said the Government would talk to the supplier with the hope that they could reduce the price and make it available to everyone.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

No more Indonesian Maid?

THE Indonesian government banned the country’s nationals from coming to work as maids in Malaysia with effect from Friday, just a day after its manpower minister announced the decision in Jakarta.
The sudden action has all the appearance of haste, while piling pressure on Malaysia to expedite changes in the terms of employment favouring maids.
Malaysia’s Human Resources Ministry had not even received the official letter to the effect when the entire country learned about it in the news.
Employers and maid agencies here will suffer losses through prior payments, such as deposits and fees. Such immediate and wilful disruptions of agreements also adversely affect sourcing agencies on the Indonesian side.
This is clearly bad form and bad business practice – it is unethical, sows ill will, and where contracts have been violated, unlawful as well. But Jakarta seems to have some reasons for its abrupt action.
When such policies exert a shock effect on the host country, it usually comes as a bargaining chip for the source country. But it could backfire.
There is also an undeclared rationale for this particular action coming at this point in time.
Indonesians go to the polls in 10 days to elect a new president. In the current campaigns, incum­bent Susilo Bambang Yudho­yono’s two challengers – his Vice-President Jusuf Kalla, and former president Megawati Sukarnoputri – are said to be closing in.
Political expediency would therefore seem to dictate events, at least for now.
Officially, the ban on Indonesian maids will stay until Malaysia is seen and said to have improved the work conditions for them.
The Indonesian manpower minister is scheduled to arrive here in early July to hold tough talks for those conditions. Indonesian voters will no doubt hear much about that heroic mission just days before the election.
Meanwhile, Malaysia should waste no time in sourcing for maids from other countries. Much has been heard about errant employers in Malaysia, but not quite enough about supposedly trained but still incompetent and dysfunctional maids from Indonesia.
In the interests of market competition, reducing needless dependence and much of everything else, diversifying the number of source countries is necessary and urgent.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

SUPP pledges to help Barisan in polls

The Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) is ready to help Barisan Nasional retain the Batang Ai state seat, which fell vacant following the death of its assemblyman, Datuk Dublin Unting, on Tuesday.
A by-election will have to be called as the Sarawak State Assembly still has more than two years of its term to run.
SUPP president Tan Sri Dr George Chan, who is Deputy Chief Minister, said the party would do its best to assist the state Barisan election machinery.
“Wherever we can, we will definitely help,” he told reporters after receiving a RM20,000 donation from the Sarawak Association of Ministers’ and Assistant Ministers’ Wives (Sabati) for flood victims at his office here yesterday.
With the Opposition expected to focus on the issue of native customary rights (NCR) land in the predominantly Iban constituency, Dr Chan said the state government would have to make clear to the people its policy on developing NCR land.
“This has always been an issue. As the government, we should explain why certain things can be done (with NCR land) and why certain things cannot be done,” he said.
He said land was usually an emotional issue and hoped that the people would be objective and rational in approaching it.
“I hope no one will try to stir up emotions and make people unhappy,” he added.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Spirit of Unity...

Having 28 years living in this country, I must admit that we are fortunate that the country’s unity remains peacefully with religious tolerance, mutual understanding and respect among the various races.

We may have succeeded in effectively managing racial rifts over the decades but there is a dire need for long-term solutions to ensure real harmony.

One obvious obstacle towards this is our ineptitude to hold frank and open dialogues over religious issues without getting all riled up.

As such, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s final mission as Prime Minister before leaving office – to ease racial and religious tensions – should indeed be lauded and supported.

It is never too late for political players and policy makers to realise that the future of Malay­sia hinges on its continued religious and inter-racial harmony.

As the PM said at the Chris­tian Federation of Malaysia’s Christ­mas open housebefore, our children must be raised without any sense of prejudice.

Differences in religion should not be a hindrance to developing and maintaining friendships.

The sad reality is that a large segment of Malaysians, especially among the young, can only mingle within the comfort of their own race groups. They do not show any interest in or concern for other communities.

It is obvious that inexpedient educational policies and failures in promoting multi-racial interactions have contributed to the regretful situation.

But the mess can still be untangled to free the original spirit of unity.

The country, after all, was born and nurtured on such a foundation.

We have proven in the past that the core values inherent in our faiths, cultures and customs are enough to unite us as Malay­sians.

The coming new year offers hope for renewed focus on unity based on respect for multi-ethnicity and religious tolerance.