Month: July 2019

A viral Twitter thread from @fatihah_amalik had netizens amused and awww-ing over the cuteness after seeing photos and videos of a dog attending classes!

This dog was seen at Labuan Matriculation College (KLM), Sabah, looking like it was attending the class like the other students.

Entered the wrong class? Aiya, it’s ok la. As long as you’re there at college. It’s the effort that matters.

There are also moments where we, as students, just K.O. after spending those sleepless nights for the exams.

Here are some of the cute antics that the canine got up to, grabbing the attention of fellow netizens.

When attending college, you need to comply with the regulations of the institution, and this dog did just that! Just look at those white socks on the cute doggo!

And there are also funny comments and testimonies from netizens saying how much of a good student the doggo is.

“Even dogs go to class? That’s because they have four legs, hence they get ready fast. We, on the other hand, only have two.”

“Even the dog arrived to class earlier than the lecturer.”

“There’s a dog but everyone is just relaxed. If it were me, I’d have sprinted away because of trauma.”


In a neighbourhood playground, a tent has been set up, the canopy overhead providing shelter from the blistering heat of the day. Under this shade, a long table can be seen, laid out with an array of strange-looking fruits. Each one is unique, and tellingly, most are completely indiscernible to many of the people in attendance.

“Mak, what is this?” asks a young child, pointing at a gnarled brown husk. His mother looks on, equally perplexed. “Erm, I don’t know,” she finally admits.

“Most people have probably never seen more than half of the fruits here,” confirms Dr Abdul Aziz Zakaria, 73, a retired Universiti Pertanian Malaysia (now known as Universiti Putra Malaysia) lecturer and avid collector of durians and other local fruits (he has grown more than 50 local fruits on his three farms in Kelantan).

Aziz was instrumental in putting together the display of about 60 local fruits at a neighbourhood gathering for residents of Taman Tun Abdul Razak in Kuala Lumpur – his way of disseminating as much information as possible to the younger generation before some of the fruits become totally extinct and unattainable.

“What I am trying to do is introduce these fruits to younger parents and their children, then they will remember it when they see it in gardens and parks in the future,” he says.


According to retired Malaysian Agricultural Research and Development Institute research officer Rukayah Aman in her seminal book Buah-Buahan Nadir Semenanjung Malaysia (2006), there are over 100 species of fruits in Malaysia.

Some like soursop, pineapple and ciku were introduced from other continents but have since acclimated and become part of the local fruit tapestry.

Of these over 100 species, 16 are classified as fruits that have commercial value like durian (but of course!), pineapple, banana, mango, rambutan, watermelon, cempedak, ciku and mangosteen, among others.

Photo: The Star/Azman Ghani

There are also over 70 species of fruits that are either planted or grow wild in jungles, neighbourhood lawns or orchards without much cultivation or care.

These are local fruits that were once prevalent in Malaysian diets of yore but have since either fallen out of favour or become obsolete.

Examples of these fruits include setar, salak, mentega, nam nam, bacang, nona kapri, cermai, rambai, keranji, sentul, ceri Terengganu, bidara, kasai, kuning telur and pala.

If you’re looking at this list wondering why you’ve never heard of – much less eaten – any of these fruits, well, it’s an indication of how rapidly things have changed.

Photo: The Star/Azman Ghani

Lifestyle changes, for example, have been a driving force in evolving fruit consumption patterns.

In the past, money was tighter in most local households which meant many people simply opted for low-hanging fruit i.e. whatever was most accessible in villages and neighbourhoods.

“When I was small, I crossed two villages to walk to school in Melaka. And on the way back, my friends and I were often hungry, so we would stop and ask the villagers if we could eat the fruits on their trees – that’s how I learnt about local fruits,” says Rukayah.

“In reality, back then we had no choice because as children in the village, we didn’t have much money to buy fruits in the shops so we ate anything that grew in the village,” she adds.

These days, both Rukayah and Aziz agree that the appetite and purchasing power for imported fruits like blueberries and cherries has surged, in many instances to the detriment of long-standing local fruits.

Photo: The Star/Azman Ghani
Photo: The Star/Azman Ghani

“There are so many imported fruits from the West, so we’re used to eating those kinds of fruits, which is not right. That is the main reason some of these local fruits are nearly extinct,” reasons Rukayah.

She is certainly not wrong. Imported fruits from countries like Australia are becoming increasingly popular. In fact, according to data provided by Australian trade body Austrade, the export volume for peaches, nectarines and apricots from Australia to Malaysia increased by over 200 per cent between 2013 to 2018 while overall fresh fruit export to Malaysia shot up by 35 per cent in the same period.

While the consumption of imported fruits has little impact on popular local fruits like durians and bananas, the effect on a fruit like binjai can be more far-reaching.

“Binjai is very rare and it takes 20 years to fruit. Who wants to grow it? It has no commercial value and you have to wait for it, while imported fruits are easily available in supermarkets,” says Aziz.

The widespread clearing of land for development throughout the country is also another reason many of these fruits are being wiped out.

“Before in the kampung, you had a house and a lot of trees, so many of the seeds were spread by birds and animals – nobody really went out of their way to plant them,” says Aziz.

Photo: The Star/Azman Ghani

In modern times, what was once an organic growing method doesn’t necessarily translate anymore as many areas that were previously fecund and surrounded by foliage have now given way to the trappings of progress.

“In Melaka, for instance, there were about 15 binjai plants around the city when I was working on the book over a decade ago. And now, I think there are maybe four trees there. The rest have given way to housing and other development,” laments Rukayah.

Then there is the taste factor. While many of these local fruits are quite sweet – like rokam manis, buah mentega and kuning telur – others – like nam nam and mundu – are decidedly sour and difficult to eat fresh.

“Some of these fruits need to be made into a pickle. And some of them you have to eat with salt to counteract the sourness,” admits Aziz.

Photo: The Star/Azman Ghani

This means that younger people used to sweet fruits like mangoes and bananas don’t necessarily know how to appreciate these fruits or, more importantly – simply don’t want to when other options are available.

“One thing about the younger generation – they are not exposed to these fruits. So whether it is sweet or sour, they won’t easily try the fruits or are not eager to, even if they can find them,” says Rukayah.

Given all these reasons and so many more (e.g. many of the fruits are difficult to grow on a commercial scale), it isn’t a stretch to discover that some local fruits are completely extinct with others in danger of being wiped out very soon.

“There is one species that is completely lost – lanjut. You just can’t find it in villages anymore – I would say it is gone forever. And I think the next fruit that is close to being phased out is binjai, which is becoming very rare,” says Rukayah.


Despite waning interest in these fruits, Aziz is determined to continue collecting them and still travels around the country looking for different local species.

“The difficulty is to locate the trees which are fruiting, because you have to go during the fruiting season to collect the fruit.

Photo: The Star/Azman Ghani

“And then some trees are so high that you just cannot get the fruit; you have to wait until it drops and by the time it drops, the wild boar has eaten it already so it’s quite difficult,” says Aziz laughing.

Rukayah has also done her part to impart more information about these fruits through her book as well as an arboretum that she was instrumental in putting together when she was in Mardi.

Although the arboretum once contained between 70 to 80 local rare fruit species, unfortunately, about 1/3 has been lost, as the fruit trees had to make way for the Mass Rapid Transit project.

Still, given that she spent most of her career writing about and researching rare local fruits, it isn’t surprising to learn that she has planted many of these species – like rambai, jentik-jentik and nam nam – at her own home.

Rukayah says that if people are able to find fresh versions of these more unusual local fruits, they are actually very easy to grow.

“I use the seeds to plant the trees and it’s very easy. One thing about our tropical seeds – they cannot be kept very long and tend to lose moisture easily, so if you eat any fruit, you must sow the seed immediately,” she advises.

Ultimately though, Aziz and Rukayah say it is up to them and people of their generation familiar with these fruits to pass down this knowledge about traditional fruits to younger audiences, otherwise both the knowledge and the fruits themselves will eventually disappear altogether.

“I think it is up to the older generation to educate younger people and get them interested in whatever way possible to understand the uniqueness of local fruits,” says Aziz with conviction.


A new study has shed light on a possible risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease in women: not having a job.

Epidemiology Assistant Professor Dr Elizabeth R. Mayeda conducted a study on later-life cognitive health in women and found that working women showed a slower decrease in memory than their non-working counterparts.

She and her team from the University of California, Los Angeles’ Fielding School of Public Health, presented their findings at the 2019 Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Los Angeles, United States.

The study was done in collaboration with researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, and Boston College.

Using data from the US National Institute on Aging’s Health and Retirement Study, Asst Prof Mayeda examined the memory function patterns of more than 6,000 women born between 1935 and 1956.

Women reported each year between the ages of 16 and 50, whether they were working for pay or had children, and were grouped by their work and family patterns to examine changes in memory for women over age 50.

Memory performance was measured using standardised tests about every two years, starting when the women were age 50 or older.

According to Asst Prof Mayeda, prior to the age of 60, there were no noticeable differences in memory between working and non-working women.

However, after 60, women who participated in the paid labour force showed slower memory decline than those who didn’t.

She notes that previous studies on Alzheimer’s concentrated mainly on biological factors, such as the presence of sex hormones like oestrogen.

But she wanted to focus on social factors that could lead to Alzheimer’s, as well as late-life changes in memory function, which is considered a hallmark of developing this disease.

“When we thought about relevant social experiences that might shape risk of Alzheimer’s dementia for women, we thought about how women in the United States have experienced really drastic changes in patterns of employment and family circumstances over the past century or so,” she says in a recent phone interview.

According to the 2019 Alzheimer’s Disease Facts and Figures report, two-thirds of people living with Alzheimer’s are women and 16% of women over the age of 71 have Alzheimer’s.

“The prevailing view has been that this discrepancy is due to the fact that women live longer than men on average, and older age is the greatest risk factor for Alzheimer’s,” says the report.

Asst Prof Mayeda’s findings show that the average memory performance for non-working women between the ages of 60 and 70 declined twice as fast as women who were working.

Compared with married mothers in the paid labour force, single mothers out of the workforce for long periods saw their memory faculties decline 83% faster, while married non-working mothers declined 61% faster.

Memory performance for working women remained higher, even if their work history was interrupted for family reasons.

“The really striking finding is that even though we looked at work and family patterns, what really stood out in our findings was that engagement in the paid labour force was the key factor that stood out as important.

“We really thought that aspects of family and engagement in the paid labour force could both be really relevant,” she says.

Psychiatry and behavioural sciences Asst Prof Dr Tamar Gefen says that the results of Asst Prof Mayeda’s study align with existing research on factors that lower the risk of late-life cognitive decline.

“There is evidence in the literature suggesting a limited number of factors that can perhaps lower the risk of developing cognitive impairment in later life.

“This includes aerobic exercise, healthy nutrition, mental activity and engagement,” says the assistant professor from Northwestern University in an email interview.

The study doesn’t identify why working may help cognitive health for older women, but Asst Prof Mayeda points to social network-building, cognitive stimulation and financial independence as reasons why employment might help protect women’s minds.

She says that the goal in her research is to help policymakers identify strategies to improve public health on a population level.

If her findings are supported by other studies, Asst Prof Mayeda says she looks forward to seeing policies that encourage women to join the workforce, such as equal pay, paid family leave and affordable childcare, as a way to encourage higher late-life cognitive function.

Though the research is currently unpublished, she says she’d like to examine other aspects of health in women born in later years.

“I think it would be really relevant to expand the findings, and to try to understand the explanations for these findings,” she says.

“Are there specific characteristics of work that are really important and relevant to women’s later-life cognitive health?”


PASUKAN Balai Bomba dan Penyelamat (BBP) Kuala Krai mengambil masa kira-kira 20 minit mengeluarkan gigi gear yang tersekat pada kemaluan seorang lelaki di Sungai Durian, Kuala Krai, hari ini.

Ketua BBP Kuala Krai, Muhammad Rizwan Ar-Rafee Parsimin berkata, terdahulu mangsa berusia 34 tahun datang sendiri ke BBP Sungai Durian pada 3.14 petang.

Beliau berkata, susulan itu, seramai tiga pegawai dan lima anggota dari BBP Kuala Krai bergegas ke lokasi kejadian untuk menghulurkan bantuan.

“Mangsa kemudian dibawa menggunakan jentera Perkhidmatan Perubatan Kecemasan (EMRS) bomba ke Hospital Kuala Krai.

“Di hospital, dengan kerjasama pihak hospital, kami berjaya mengeluarkan gear dari kemaluan mangsa dengan alat pemotong khas dalam tempoh 20 minit,” katanya.

Beliau berkata, mangsa tidak cedera dan dibenarkan pulang.

Harian Metro

A Malaysian singer came under fire for embarking on a challenge that caused unnecessary danger to her own health. Malay Mail wrote that local singer, Ara Johari, took on a challenge of eating spicy noodles with durian and it didn’t end well for her.

In a video that went viral, Ara was seen chowing down a bowl of spicy noodles and durian. After just a few bites, the singer started feeling unwell, and towards the end of the clip, an ambulance was seen arriving.

Apparently, the 22-year-old was quickly taken to the hospital after she started gagging and vomiting into a plastic bag. Obviously, this incident didn’t sit well with the netizens as they claimed she was promoting “potentially dangerous behaviour”.

Even famous actress Nabila Huda left a comment saying that the attempt was “stupid”. She wrote,

“Who are the morons who started the challenge of eating spicy noodles with durian? Stop doing stupid things like this. Durian is already a heaty food, suppose you died while eating this, then what?”

Netizens seemed to share the same sentiment as Nabila, as they disapproved of the challenge saying that it was stupid and dangerous.

Prior to this, in 2017, a Youtuber calledNikocado Avocado ate four packs of spicy Korean noodles and some durians. However, the Youtuber seemed to be unharmed because he didn’t suffer repercussions like Ara.

A further report on the case revealed that Ara actually has gastric, and the team who was filming the challenge didn’t know about her condition. They have formally apologised for pursuing this challenge and advised people not to follow suit. You heard them, guys! Don’t recreate this challenge for your own good. 

On that note, we hope Ara will quickly recover and learn from her mistake that almost cost her life. Hopefully, she doesn’t take up other ill-advised challenges.


Students at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT-B) in Bombay had a surprise guest when a cow made an appearance in the middle of their lecture on 27 July

As students actively avoided the cow, the animal took its time to wander around the classroom, even making its way up the side aisle.

According to NDTV, students claim that it was raining heavily when the incident happened, and that the cow might have entered the building for shelter.

However, since the lecture hall was located on the first floor, students were confused as to how the cow managed to make its way upstairs.

“It must have entered through one of the slopes that internally connect the lecture halls on various floors,” one student told News 18.

Students and netizens alike were amused over the surprise appearance

According to India TV News, the intern was admitted to the hospital after receiving several injuries to the abdomen.

Students at IIT Bombay also reportedly complained that cattle had previously entered their hostel rooms.

This is not the first visit IIT-B has had from cattle.Earlier this month, an intern was severely injured after a bull attacked him outside the institute.


Mindfulness is the act of being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling at every moment, without interpretation or judgement.

Spending too much time planning, problem-solving, daydreaming, or thinking negative or random thoughts, can be draining.

It can also make you more likely to experience stress, anxiety and symptoms of depression.

Practising mindfulness exercises, on the other hand, can help you direct your attention away from this kind of thinking and engage with the world around you.

It can have many possible benefits, including reduced stress, anxiety and depression; less negative thinking and distraction; and improved mood.

How to practice mindfulness

• Pay attention

The next time you meet someone, listen closely to his or her words. Think about their meaning and uniqueness.

Aim to develop a habit of understanding others and delaying your own judgements and criticisms.

• Make the familiar new again

Find a few small, familiar objects – such as a toothbrush, apple or cellphone – in your home or office.

Look at the objects with fresh eyes. Identify one new detail about each object that you didn’t see before.

As you become more aware of your world, you might become fonder of the things around you.

• Focus on your breathing

Sit in a quiet place with your back straight, but relaxed.

Feel your breath move in and out of your body. Let your awareness of everything else fall away.

Pay attention to your nostrils as air passes in and out. Notice the way your abdomen expands and collapses with each breath.

When your mind wanders, gently redirect your attention to your breath.

Don’t judge yourself. Remember that you’re not trying to become anything, such as a good meditator.

You’re simply becoming aware of what’s happening around you, breath by breath.

• Awaken your senses

Get a raisin. Sit in a quiet place with your back straight, but relaxed.

Look at the raisin. Smell it, feel it and anticipate eating it.

Taste the raisin, and slowly and deliberately chew it.

Notice the way the raisin’s taste changes, your impulse to swallow the raisin, your response to that impulse, and any thoughts or emotions that arise along the way.

Paying close attention to your senses and your body’s reaction to the raisin might reveal insight into your relationship with eating and food.

For other mindfulness exercises, such as focused breathing, you’ll need to set aside time when you can be in a quiet place without distractions or interruptions.

You might choose to practice this type of exercise early in the morning, before you begin your daily routine.

Aim to practice mindfulness every day for about six months.

Over time, you might find that mindfulness becomes effortless.


New American research has found that music may calm the nerves before the use of regional anaesthesia just as effectively as medication.

Carried out by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, the new study looked at whether listening to calming music could be as effective for reducing anxiety as midazolam, the sedative drug commonly used before regional anaesthesia.

Regional anaesthesia, also known as a peripheral nerve block, is a type of anaesthetic procedure done under ultrasound guidance and used to numb a specific region of the body.

The study included 157 participants, 80 of whom who were randomly assigned to receive 1-2 milligrammes of midazolam, injected three minutes before the use of a peripheral nerve block.

The remaining 77 listened to Marconi Union’s Weightless series of music via noise-canceling headphones for three minutes, a track that is considered to be one of the most relaxing in the world.

The patients’ levels of anxiety were scored before and after the use of each anxiety-calming method.

The researchers also measured satisfaction among both patients and doctors using a 10-point scale, with 0 reflecting the lowest level of satisfaction.

The findings, published online in the journal Regional Anesthesia & Pain Medicine, showed that listening to the music appeared to have a similar effect as midazolam in reducing anxiety before regional anaesthesia.

However, the patients who listened to music were less satisfied than those given midazolam, which the researchers say could be due to patients not being given a choice of music.

There was no difference in satisfaction levels among doctors, although both patients and doctors reported that it was harder to communicate when music was used as the calming method, possibly because of the noise-canceling headphones and the volume of the music.

Although previous studies have already shown that music medicine is effective in significantly decreasing preoperative anxiety, until now it has not been directly compared with intravenous (IV) midazolam.

Music medicine is an intervention that is also virtually harm-free and relatively inexpensive, whereas drugs such as midazolam can have side effects, including affecting breathing, disturbing blood flow and actually increasing levels of agitation and hostility.

Although comparing the two interventions for just three minutes may have been too short and more research is needed, the researchers still conclude that music could be an effective alternative to midazolam for calming anxiety before the use of regional anaesthesia.

“However,” they caution, “further studies are warranted to evaluate whether or not the type of music, as well as how it is delivered, offers advantages over midazolam that outweigh the increase in communication barriers.”


An artistic portrayal of human intricacies – that’s what the audience can expect when Kenny Shim & Collective and British-based Mobius Dance present their dance works this weekend at the Damansara Performing Arts Centre (DPAC) in Petaling Jaya.

The collaborative effort called Mix Bill, from Aug 2-4, will see four contemporary works being performed by nine dancers, four of whom are local.

Under the artistic direction of Gianluca Vincentini, Mobius Dance will present an energetic and highly physical performance featuring two robust works, bringing together two generations of choreographers Jamaal Burkmar and Douglas Thorpe.

“Lovers of both dance and music will be enthralled by Burkmar’s Time Moves Slow, an incredibly passionate, fast-paced and dynamic work, where relentless physicality pulls the dancers to their extremes,” says Vincentini in an interview.

Burkmar’s offering is seen through four different perspectives, inspired by four different songs and acknowledges four heroes tasked with climbing the same mountain and overcoming the same challenge – embracing the choice to do it together rather than alone.

“On the other hand, Thorpe creates a powerful, theatrical piece in Dramatis Personae, which plays with the peculiarities of four characters, whose awkward interactions result in a work with compelling and intertwined dynamics.

“The two pieces provide a thrilling contrast of movement and dance. It is a chance to see young dancers who are at the peak of their fitness, training and performance to tackle the rich, quality and diverse choreographic approaches of Burkmar and Thorpe,” he adds.

Originally from Italy, Vincentini founded the company in 2016 and believes that dance can reveal the complexity of our intimate connections to each other, without compromising entertainment.

“The commissioned choreographer’s work is accessible in nature and style while remaining a refreshing and entertaining evening of dance for those with a more accustomed dance palette,” he says, pointing out that each choreographer’s work represents his individual spirit while embracing the multicultural face of the world.

Slowly carving a name for himself in the local circuit is Shim, who will explore the human intricacies in a thought-provoking dance work entitled Shades Of Shadow, based on Swiss-born British writer Alain de Botton’s book The Course Of Love. The book piqued his curiosity to dig deeper into understanding human empathy between relationships and how such empathy (or lack of) leads to the possibility of inequality in a relationship.

“There is a quote in the book that I resonated deeply with ‘The modern expectation is that there will be equality in all things. In a couple, which means, at heart, an equality of suffering. But calibrating grief to ensure an equal dosage is no easy task; misery is experiences subjectively, and there is always a temptation for each party to form a sincere yet competitive conviction that, in truth, his or her life is really more cursed,’” reveals Shim.

Watch how this quote unfolds in dance form.

It was literally love at first class when Shim started learning ballet at a late age of 17. Flowing with passion, he took a leap of faith, auditioned and was accepted at London’s Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance.

He eventually completed his masters at the London Contemporary Dance School, and after spending seven years abroad, Shim returned home in 2017 to contribute to the development of the Malaysian contemporary dance scene.

“I was very fortunate to have met Gianluca during my time in Edge Dance Company and we’ve kept in contact. He is interested in nurturing dance artistes to their fullest potential, which trickles down to the artistes he hires for his company.

“He curates work that is both accessible to new contemporary dance audiences as well as veterans of the practice. The pieces entertain and engage the audience through the world of highly ‘physicalised’ dancing,” he says.

The final dance piece Human is a collaborative work between dancers from both companies, co-choreographed by Vincentini and Shim.

It explores the entwined nature of movement and emotion, while looking at the current condition of humanity. The starting point of the work is a reflection Vincentini wrote, which goes like this: “Happy smile, Happy war, Happy living together, But perhaps not too close, Excitement yields calm, Calm turns melancholic, Melancholy induces panic, Our senses mute, Such hopeful desperation attempts harmony”.

“This work has been created with the performers, who have contributed by devising material based on movement tasks. Images and emotional states were introduced to the performers so that, together, we could find the appropriate form and aesthetic. Individuality was encouraged as much as the sharing of personal stories,” says Vincentini.

Shim concludes, “Unlike learning a repertoire, all the dancers are in the studio together. This encourages further exchange of dance practices and working culture. The exchange enhances the work with ‘flavour’ and diversity.”


Visitors to the two-day Proud International Cat Show at MesaMall which ended today could also adopt a rescue from any of the five shelters that were invited to join the event by organizer Khalid Rashid.

“They are looking for good homes for their cats while at the same time raising money through activities like cat cleaning to cover the cost of caring for the cats,“ he said.

Sayang-Sayang Kitten Garden proprietor and cat rescuer, Azizah Ibrahim, said that as a cat lover she must care about all cats and not just pedigree cats.

“Strays also need care and good food. They need to be helped no matter what their condition.

“However, to do this, we need the time and funds for food, medication and other necessities especially if the cats are in a bad state. This is the perfect platform, I feel, to raise funds,“ she told Bernama.

Azizah, who also participated in the cat show, has 89 cats and a shelter in Kepong, has been a rescuer since 2011.

“To rescue more cats, I have to give some of them up for adoption otherwise there’ll be hundreds and hundreds to look after,“ she said.

With respect to the cat show co-organised with MesaMall and cat food brand, Proud, Khalid said 100 cats took part in four categories according to their breed and were evaluated by two judges from Italy and Poland.

He said he hopes the cat show raises awareness about pet care, ethical concerns and breeding.

“If possible, we don’t want the cats to be cross-bred because we want to protect the purebred lineage,“ he said.