Let’s face it, the Movement Control Order is tough on all of us – with the restricted movement, social distancing and so on – it is tough.
Despite the hardship of having to work from home, cook our own meals and be generally limited to our four walls, there are those out there who find life a little bit tougher than most of us during MCO.
Featured in the Malay Mail, Projek Perumahan Rakyat (PPR) folks are finding lives quite hard under MCO despite the government doing all it can to help out.
60-year-old Norayni, who currently lives with her husband Zauniddin Mar Noor, is struggling to buy basic needs as their son’s income (working as a shop attendant) dwindled due to the MCO.
“We don’t have an EPF (Employees’ Provident Fund) account nor a tax filing number. So how are we supposed to get this aid from the government.”
“Right now, we could do with some rice, flour, cooking oil and maybe some vermicelli packets just to sustain ourselves for a few days, but I don’t know if there’ll be any aid forthcoming.”
Currently, Malaysians are allowed to withdraw a maximum of RM500 monthly from their EPF accounts during the outbreak as well as the announcement of cash handouts under the Bantuan Prihatin Nasional (BPN) cash handouts for registered taxpayers.
Another resident of the Kerinchi PPR, Muruga Marimuthi and his wife Sumathy Kaliappan shared a story of being separated from their children for several weeks.
Both of their children are currently in Puchong with their uncle, unable to come back home amidst the spike in the number of cases in the Lembah Pantai area.
Citing similar woes as Norayni, Muruga shared that he lost some of his income due to the MCO.
“I used to supplement our income by renting out audio systems but now there are no more events so that money has dried up.”
His wife, who also used to do odd cleaning jobs are not able to do so due to the fear of people coming into close contact with one another.
Despite the hardship faced by the families living at PPR Kerinchi, a silver lining can be found whereby individuals have stepped up and provided aid to these families.
Among them were Datuk Gunasegaran and his wife Amartham Ganesan. According to Gunasegaran, “There are people here whose situations are worse than us and we are really hoping and praying that the government can get them aid as soon as possible.”
On a positive note, Gunaseragan also mentions that people at the PPR work together regardless of race or religion.
Under BPN, households earning RM4,000 or less will receive RM1,600 and payments will only be made at the end of April, leaving families in need at least one month before assistance is given.
As the MCO sails along smoothly for many, with the exception of those that lack obedience and discipline, one group of people remain the most affected: the poor.
Soup kitchen gives our 100kg of their frozen food
According to a write up by the Star online, when the government announced that they could no longer cater to the needs of the poor during the MCO, an NGO was left with no choice but to give away about 100kg of their frozen foodstuff. Known as Kembara Kitchen, they gave away foodstuff with some from a few restaurants to their neighbours. Foods such as frozen udon, man tao (steamed buns) and chicken fillets were given to the residents of Kota Kemuning.
Previously they distributed a tonne of food to the needy, but still had seven to eight tonnes left in their chiller, according to the co-founder William Cheah. He also noted that despite the government’s efforts to curb the spread of Covid-19, he isn’t sure that the authorities have the logistics to help and provide aid to the poor during this MCO. Another kitchen known as Kechara Soup Kitchen expressed their hope for the government to allow NGOs to work with them.
“It would be a mammoth task for the government to do it by themselves. They need to work with the NGOs because we are already on the ground”, said operations director Justin Cheah.
Some feel there’s no need to restrict food distribution to the poor
In Georgetown though, the NGOs are still very much distributing food to the needy despite the state government’s ruling. In fact, Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) president said that there isn’t a need to restrict food distribution to the poor so long as they do not create problems.
Besides him, state welfare and caring society committee chairman Phee Boon Poh, advises the NGO’s to carry out the distribution with discipline. He also noted that giving away free food in public would encourage more homeless people to come out, and those that intend to help should work with them to distribute the food.
Penang Consumers Protection Association president also highlighted how the poor can’t be waiting for proper planning by the government to distribute food, while Deputy Chief Minister ll Dr P. Ramasamy, said that stopping NGOs from giving out food is the wrong move. He even wrote on Facebook that NGOs are doing an amazing task during this trying time by transmitting help on behalf of the government.
LBS Foundation is helping to provide better education for students by contributing funds to Ajar-Ajar Malaysia, which assists in providing free tuition to underprivileged children.
The contribution will be used to fund Ajar-Ajar Malaysia’s Sungei Way branch operation, including teaching materials and learning centre rental.
“Education is the key of the future. Every child should be given the opportunity to learn and improve his or her education.
“All of these years, we have been supporting activities that can help improve children’s education. We cannot control the future but we can assist in equipping them for the future,” said LBS Foundation founder and board of trustees member Tan Sri Lim Hock San.
“My father always reminded us about the importance of compassion and gratitude. This has motivated us to give back to society and improve the community around us. We can learn from each other and Ajar-Ajar Malaysia’s approach would help both students and mentors,’’ he said.
Ajar-Ajar Malaysia was founded in 2008 as a volunteer-based programme aimed at providing a two-way learning opportunity for children and their teachers or mentors. The focus subjects are Bahasa Melayu, English and Mathematics.
The mentoring approach implemented by Ajar-Ajar Malaysia is beneficial for the students as they will receive one-to-one coaching on the subjects covered. The mentors will benefit from the programme as they develop communication and teaching skills through the process.
The contribution was raised through LBS Virtual Run 2019 which was held throughout August. The fundraising activity attracted more than 1,500 individuals to support and contribute to the cause.
The treatment of rape victims and rape in general in our country is, to be honest, still sad and extremely lacking. While there is more awareness these days and conditions are slowly improving, this netizen did not see the compassionate side of Malaysians and was subjected to harsh judgement and criticism instead.
Her story, as shared by activist Syed Azmi Alhabshi, goes as such. Her sister was raped and got pregnant with the rapists’ baby. Her whole family tried to keep the situation under wraps to protect the sister’s honour as she wasn’t at fault. Unfortunately, at the day of the baby’s birth, a nurse informed the village head that the sister gave birth to a baby out of wedlock even though she knew the sister was a victim of rape.
Now, the whole family has to suffer the consequences of what the staff did. They are the subject of gossip and ridicule for the whole village. She also said how disappointed she was with the staff as there was ABSOLUTELY NO NEED for her to inform anyone as the whole family is aware that her sister was raped, and they didn’t in any way disown her. She hoped and prayed that this situation won’t ever happen to anyone.
This is so sad that this happened to a person. The fact that this person chose to go ahead with the pregnancy is already a brave decision and one not every person can or is willing to make. Whether or not she chooses to tell her experiences is completely up to her and it’s no one else’s tale to tell.
Joey Kow works as Grab driver five days a week. “I enjoy it because it enables me to meet people and earn a living,” says Kow, who also works at a bakery. Kow might sound like any Grab driver, but she’s one of 500 drivers and delivery-riders in Malaysia who are differently-abled.
Born deaf, Kow communicates using sign language. But that doesn’t pose any problem for her as a driver. “When passengers encounter a deaf driver, they are usually amazed – or shocked but in a good way,” she says though an interpreter.
“It’s not every day you meet someone who has overcome their (hearing) disability (this way) to be independent,” says Kow, 37, a single woman who lives with her mother in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur.
She says the experience has been mostly positive. “I’ve not encountered any prejudice. Communication can be an issue, especially when people speak and I can’t reply verbally. So we resort to visual communication.”
She says passengers are told in advance they’re getting a deaf driver, but they tend to overlook it. “Sometimes a passenger might not realise they’re getting a deaf driver, so they keep calling. When I don’t respond, they think I’m not coming.”
Such instances are rare, she says. Though she can’t pick up phone calls, Kow replies with a text message that she’s on her way. When she get there, she just reminds them that she’s deaf.
Since 2018, Grab Malaysia’s ‘Break The Silence’ campaign has created more job opportunities for the deaf and hearing-impaired. This has helped Malaysia become one of the few countries where regulations allow the differently-abled to obtain a commercial driver’s licence.
Grab Malaysia also provides resources including sign guides to help deaf or hearing-impaired drivers identify themselves to passengers, and passengers with flashcards to help them communicate with the drivers.
“However, some passengers prefer to use their phone (by typing out a message or showing pictures), or hand gestures and facial expressions,” Kow says.
As for not hearing other motorists horn at her, Kow says most drivers just flash their headlights when she doesn’t respond to their honks. “I use my rear- and side-view mirrors a lot. When I see drivers flashing their lights or if a vehicle comes close, I quickly move aside,” she says.
She add that having a sign on the car to indicate a deaf or hearing-impaired driver would be useful, but currently there’s only one sign available for inside.
Meanwhile, Nor’Ain Azizan, who is partially deaf, works full-time as a Grab driver in KL – six hours a day, five days a week. “I enjoy it, and it’s convenient because it gives me time to care for my child,” said Nor’Ain, 30, who is married and has an eight-month-old boy.
Her husband, also deaf, drives for the company on the weekends. Nor’Ain, who hails from Perlis, has been driving for Grab for two-and-a-half years. She says she even drives outstation to Port Dickson and Genting Highlands when she’s free.
She says she hasn’t encountered much discrimination or harassment as a hearing-impaired or female driver.
“I try to minimise conversation while driving because I don’t want to give the wrong message. That minimises the chances of getting harassed. Also, if the passenger is male, they usually sit in the back of the car,” she says.
Because she’s not completely deaf, Nor’Ain can speak a little and also hear when other motorists horn at her. “The rear- and side-view mirrors are very important. If I see another vehicle getting close or flashing their lights, I quickly give way,” she says.
She adds there are impatient motorists who get annoyed because she drives a little slower and more carefully, so they might glare or gesticulate at her, which is upsetting. But she takes everything in stride. “I tell myself to be patient because they don’t know they’re dealing with a deaf driver.”
Sometimes, her passengers don’t always remember she’s hearing-impaired either until they get into the car, she says, even though she sends them a text message after accepting a drive request to inform them she’s deaf, so that they’ll wait for her text messages instead a phone call when she arrives.
Plans are in place to create a more seamless experience for hearing-impaired drivers and passengers. This includes having in-app cards to notify passengers if their driver is deaf, GrabChat as the default communication channel, and in-app communication guides for passengers to better interact with their driver.
EXT year, all business premises in Klang must be equipped with a 120-litre rubbish bin or risk having their operating licence revoked or their application rejected by the Klang Municipal Council (MPK).
This is the council’s way of clamping down on errant operators who contribute towards illegal dumping of rubbish.
It is also MPK’s move towards having a more systematic rubbish collection in the municipality.
Over the years, the royal town has been plagued with illegal rubbish dumping problems, because irresponsible people threw rubbish by the roadside, back lanes and into drains.
Construction and domestic waste can often be seen on road kerbs and empty plots of land as well as playgrounds and open spaces.
Restaurant owner Ang Chin Teong, who runs restaurants in Bukit Tinggi and Port Klang, supported the ruling.
He added that stray animals could often be seen scavenging through rubbish for food, especially in areas that has food outlets.
“This will also stop stray animals from scavenging through the rubbish and help keep the commercial areas cleaner, ” said Ang, who has placed large rubbish bins of his own outside his two eateries.
Another restaurant owner operating in Jalan Tengku Kelana T. Muthusamy said having proper rubbish bins was important to encourage people to dispose of waste responsibly.
“A majority of shops in my area already have rubbish bins and the area is a lot cleaner as compared to a few years ago, ” he said, adding that people must change their attitude and stop littering.
“There can be 100 rubbish bins placed outside shops, but if people’s mentality does not change, Klang will still be dirty, ” he said.
He lauded the cleaning contractors for working tirelessly to keep Jalan Tengku Kelana clean and rubbish-free.
Resident Mohamed Hussain Mohd Maideen said he noticed the lack of rubbish bins in commercial areas around Klang.
“We often see piles of black rubbish bags on the ground outside the shops.
“Commercial areas in Taman Sri Andalas, Sentosa and near MPK are lacking proper rubbish bins.
“I have also seen people dumping the black bins into the drains, ” he said.
He urged MPK to provide rubbish bins to all houses and commercial lots to standardise rubbish disposal and prevent illegal dumping.
“MPK should look into providing leach bins at hotspots to tackle illegal rubbish dumping, ” he said.
In Petaling Jaya, he said, each house is given a rubbish bin by Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) to keep the city clean.
Taman Klang Jaya Residents Association chairman S. Tilaka said market traders should also be provided with rubbish bins.
“They need to have their own bins to throw rubbish in a responsible manner.
“In my neighbourhood, the market is operated by many foreigners and rubbish is a huge problem here, ” she said, adding that a permanent solution was needed to tackle this problem and urged MPK enforcement officers to carry out their duties more diligently.
Sentosa assemblyman G. Gunaraj was glad MPK was taking a tougher approach regarding rubbish disposal at shops and restaurants.
“Most shops in Klang are not equipped with rubbish bins and the rubbish ends up on the road.
“The owners are at risk of getting slapped with a RM1,000 compound.
“With rubbish bins, it will be easier to monitor if rubbish contractors are doing their jobs as per schedule.
“If the bins are still full, then we can call the contractors, but if littering continues then we know it is not their fault, ” he said.
MPK corporate communications director Norfiza Mahfiz said all business premises were notified about the new ruling.
“We have issued notices to business owners about the regulations for next year’s licence renewals and they all must have a rubbish bin to get it approved, ” she said.
Kumpulan Darul Ehsan (KDEB) Waste Management Sdn Bhd managing director Ramli Mohd Tahir lauded the move as it would keep the area cleaner.
“Traders nowadays simply throw their waste by the roadside and it looks very dirty.
“The bins will make it easier for us to collect rubbish, ” he said.
KDEB Waste Management took over rubbish collection and cleaning operations in the state since July 2016.
A majority of sexual harassment cases in the workplaces go unreported. Research by the University of Massachusetts Amherst in the US found that 99.8% of people who are harassed do not formally report the experience. This finding is common around the world.
One reason is that victims of harassment don’t feel safe or supported enough to report their experience to their superiors, let alone their company management. Victims, overwhelmingly women, are afraid they will be labeled as troublemakers or be victimized for speaking out against a colleague.
So they stay silent.
In Malaysia, activists have long lobbied for a Sexual Harassment Bill to be enacted. Though the government says such an act in on the cards, it is unlikely that it will be tabled in the next parliamentary seating.
“Malaysia is still in the early stages of progress in tackling harassment. Many people are not aware of what harassment really is, and that’s a conversation we need and want to have,” says LeadWomen CEO Dr Marcella Lucas.
“People immediately assume that harassment has to be sexual in nature, but it includes everything from intimidation, discrimination and bullying, to physical and psychological discomfort, all the way up to sexual harassment.”
Hoping to get the conversation going, LeadWomen is organizing a two-day conference titled #ItsNotOK?! on Oct 14 and 15 for senior decision-makers and policymakers of companies. Their aim: To facilitate discussions on creating harassment-free work spaces.
“To tackle workplace harassment, company culture needs an adjustment from the top down. Power dynamics is very much in play when harassment happens. We want to target key decision-makers in companies who can influence and create change,” Lucas explains.
“Oftentimes it’s difficult to draw a specific line when dealing with harassment, for instance the difference between a joke and actual harassment. It’s these shades of grey that we don’t talk about but need to.”
In a 2014 study by the Association of Women Lawyers Malaysia, 31% of lawyers surveyed in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor reported that they have experienced some form of sexual harassment in the course of their employment.
Another survey by YouGov Omnibus found that 36% of Malaysian women and 17% of Malaysian men have experienced sexual harassment, with only about half reporting or telling someone about it.
“In any case of workplace harassment, there is the victim, the perpetrator and the observer. The observer is the key to creating safe work spaces,” Lucas asserts. “We have all been observers of harassment in one way or another. If observers are empowered, it influences the perpetrator and the victim as well.”
This statement was echoed by workplace harassment expert Patti Perez, VP of workplace strategy at the US firm, Emtrain. “Companies must train employees on how to stop workplace harassment. The only wrong answer when it comes to intervening is doing nothing,” says Perez, a speaker at the upcoming conference.
“Employers must drive this point home and encourage bystanders to intervene or object to the act at that moment, or they can report it to the management. The workforce must be educated on how to intervene effectively, in ways that do not increase tensions surrounding the issue,” she stressed.
Perez adds that companies must create a “culture of truth-telling”, so that employees feel safe to report their concerns, speak up for themselves, and speak up on behalf of others.
Women’s rights activist Betty Yeoh from Malaysia’s All Women’s Action Society agrees that not enough has been done to deal with workplace harassment. “There are still gaps in how corporations handle sexual harassment. These gaps need to be identified and rectified,” she says.
“Often, workplaces are more concerned with punishing the perpetrator, but it is crucial to ensure that there are adequate support systems in place for victims too. Ways on how to educate those found to be sexual harassers should also be looked into.”
The It’sNotOK?! conference will see Malaysian and international experts come together to provide participants with a 360° perspective of workplace harassment through the lenses of culture, gender, psychology and the law.
“I hope that through the conference, leaders of corporations will become more aware of the realities of workplace harassment, and are committed to creating a safe, non-toxic, harassment and discrimination-free work spaces,” says Yeoh.
“No pain, no gain, no complaint” is the motto of 11-year-old Sangeeta Retnakumar. That has led the bubbly, pint-sized girl to not only represent Malaysia in several figure skating tournaments in Asia, but also winning first place in many of them.
Sangeeta first started competing professionally four years ago and today, ranks No.8 in Asia in the world of figure skating, according to the Ice Skating Institute Asia (ISIAsia).
“I like figure skating because there is a sense of freedom when I’m gliding around on the ice. It gives me the opportunity to be creative, express myself and also entertain the people who are watching,” she says.
She adds that while it is fun and exciting participating in all the tournaments, it is also “very challenging and difficult”. Hence, it is fulfilling when she is able to successfully perform an element such as a spin, spiral, jump or footwork.
Sangeeta, who began skating at the age of seven, has been trained in technical skill, speed, consistency and artistry on ice. She is also working on improving her figure skating skills under two coaches – Angeline Chan from Malaysia and Michelle Chak from Hong Kong.
The competitive figure skater that Sangeeta admires most is former (Winter) Olympic champion Yuna Kim, 28, from South Korea.
“Her facial expressions are great, and her programme – including her jumps, spins and other elements – are just so powerful. I hope to be like her one day,” she enthuses.
“My goal (currently) is to qualify for the Winter Olympics and win,” Sangeeta adds, the passion in her eyes evident.
She also aims to represent Malaysia in figure skating at the SEA Games and ISU Junior Grand Prix.
Although she still has a few more years to prepare since the youngest age for contestants is 16 for the Winter Olympics and SEA Games, and 13 for the ISU Junior Grand Prix, she admits that it is no easy task.
“There are many talented figure skaters in Malaysia and in the world. And there is only one spot (for figure skating) for Malaysia in the Winter Olympics,” she says.
A factor that Sangeeta and her family agree upon that helps increase a skater’s chances of winning is “more time on the ice”.
“According to Sunway Pyramid Ice’s head coach Harry Janto Leo from Indonesia, who is also ISIAsia’s president, one needs to skate at least 30 hours per week,” says Sangeeta’s father, Retnakumar Annamalai, 41.
“In Russia, a skating student spends six hours on the ice per day because they have a specialised school for skating,” adds Gayateri Hariskrishnan, 39, Sangeeta’s mother.
“That’s why it is easy for skaters from the United States, Canada and Russia to have many gold medallists. They prepare from a very young age.
“Besides having specialised skating schools, in certain regular schools, they also incorporate skating into the physical education curriculum,” Retnakumar says, adding that they hope to eventually send their daughter to Russia to study at the skating school, even though that would involve costs and perhaps uprooting the family.
When asked why she selected skating over other more popular sports in Malaysia such as badminton or squash, Sangeeta replies: “Because I don’t like to ‘fight’ against an opponent to win. I believe that I’m my own best competition and I want to succeed in being the best me.”
She went on to explain that even though there are other contestants in skating tournaments, judging is by a point system so consistency, progress and improvement are important.
So how does Sangeeta juggle school and training for competitions?
“It’s all in the schedule – follow it and it will be okay!” says Sangeeta, who goes to SK Pusat Bandar Puchong 2, Selangor.
Sangeeta, whose favorite subjects are Science and Art, adds that usually she will go for tournaments that take place during the school holidays so that it doesn’t disrupt her studies.
It takes roughly two months for her to prepare for a skating tournament and she usually has practice three to four times a week, usually spending the whole day after school at the rink.
Her skating achievements have been recognised by her school and she was recently awarded the Tokoh Harapan Kokurikulum (Most Promising Student Icon in Co-Curriculum Activities) in 2018.
Currently, Sangeeta is preparing for Skate Hong Kong 2019, which will take place in November.
Besides training hard and spending more time on the ice, Sangeeta believes that having the love and support of parents who believe in her and are willing to sacrifice to help her achieve her goals is instrumental to her success as a professional figure skater.
“It is like Walt Disney’s saying: ‘All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them’,” says Gayateri.
“But it is not always easy and there are many sacrifices involved,” Retnakumar adds.
This includes ferrying Sangeeta around for classes on weekdays and waking up at 4.30am on weekends to bring her for classes that start at 6am, as she has to be there an hour earlier to warm up.
Figure skating is also an expensive sport. As a skater progresses, she has to put in more hours and more costs are involved.
“But it is her passion and we wish to see her succeed,” her parents say in unison.
Sangeeta’s lifelong goal is dependent on her winning in the Winter Olympics.
“I hope to start an ice skating school here in Malaysia, and to eventually coach too,” she says.
A work by a Malaysian author has won a Hugo Award, widely considered to be the premier award for science fiction.
If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try Again, by Zen Cho, received the Hugo Award for Best Novelette at a ceremony during the 77th World Science Fiction Convention (Worldcon) in Dublin, Ireland, on Aug 18.
This award is given to the best science fiction or fantasy story of between 7,500 and 17,500 words published in the prior calendar year.
Also nominated in this category were works by Tina Connolly, Daryl Gregory, Brooke Bolander, Naomi Kritzer and Simone Heller.
“I’m thrilled. It was unexpected – I was pleased to be nominated because I was attending Worldcon this year anyway, and I was keen to go to the Hugo Losers party hosted each year by George R.R. Martin. But I had my bets about who would win and it wasn’t me!” Cho said, when contacted via Facebook.
According to Cho, the story was written after she had struggled with a very challenging writing project that had left her feeling like a failure.
“It’s about how life is about more than success and failure, but also how it’s important that you don’t give up on the things you really want. It feels like a reward from the universe to have the story recognised in this way – a balm for many years of effort and rejection!” Cho said.
Born and raised in Selangor, Cho, 33, is currently based in Britain, where she works as a lawyer.
She is the author of two novels, Sorcerer To The Crown (2015) and its sequel, The True Queen (2019). She edited the anthology Cyberpunk Malaysia (2015).
Her first published work, the anthology Spirits Abroad, was a joint winner of the IAFA William L. Crawford Fantasy Award in 2015 (with Stephanie Feldman). Sorcerer To The Crown also won the 2016 British Fantasy Award for Best Newcomer.
The Hugo Awards are a set of literary awards voted on by members of the current World Science Fiction Convention and presented annually by the World Science Fiction Society for the best science fiction or fantasy works of the previous year.
First awarded in 1953, they are named after Hugo Gernsback, the founder of the pioneering science fiction magazine Amazing Stories.