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PETALING JAYA – It seemed an uphill task, but overweight musician Muhammad Helmi Shahuddin kept at overhauling his lifestyle and following a strict diet plan.

The result of his perseverance – losing over 50kg and bidding adieu to diabetes and high blood pressure.

Having struggled with his weight for most of his life, the 33-year-old revealed that it was not until two years ago that he decided to turn his life around and reduce his over 120kg frame.

He adopted the keto diet and the one meal a day (OMAD) plan, a form of intermittent fasting stretching 22 hours daily with just a small window to eat.

Also known as the ketogenic diet, it involves a low-carb, high fat eating plan that drives the body into a state of ketosis, whereby the body uses fat as a primary fuel source instead of carbohydrates.

“It started when I met a friend who lost a lot of weight and I asked what was his secret.”

“He told me about a weight loss expert called Dr Eric Berg who has these Youtube videos, which I started to look up, ” said Helmi.

After watching the videos, the guitarist was inspired to embark on his weight loss transformation.

“I started to diet during Ramadan in 2018. I would only drink plain water for sahur (pre-dawn meal) then break fast by eating two pieces of beef patties, three eggs and some salad.”

“Ever since then, I’ve been following the keto diet by eating high fats but no sugar and no carbs, ” said Helmi, who lives in Subang Jaya with his wife Yazrin Azrina Yunus, 33.

Following this, Helmi dropped to a much healthier weight, recording 71kg at his lowest.

When Helmi went to see his doctor, Dr Ng Siew Nee six months after his weight loss, she was impressed.

“Last month, I was cleared of diabetes, high blood pressure and dirty urine, ” said Helmi, who now weighs 77kg, with muscles to show.

“I go to the gym about three times a week and have started to take some carbs to build up muscles.”

These days, Helmi’s menu includes five eggs daily plus beef or chicken breast and some vegetables. He also regularly fasts for 22 hours a day.

“When I was trying to lose weight, I would fast for 16 to 17 hours only. But now I’m used to a 22-hour fast.”

“I eat only once a day at 2pm. My body is used to it,” he said.

Since losing weight, Helmi said he was now more confident and energetic when performing onstage.

“I’ve always been heavy. When I was 15, I weighed about 80kg.”

“People would make fun of me. People treat me differently now, ” said Helmi, who mostly performs in concerts and TV programmes.

He just finished a gig as a guitarist for Ramli Sarip and Ella at Istana Budaya and played in the house band for TV show Gegar Vaganza and Mentor Milenia.

Helmi, who has a music degree from UiTM Shah Alam, credited Dr Ng for motivating him to lose weight, saying: “She is a one-in-a million doctor who is an excellent motivator.

“My wife is also very proud of me that I managed to lose weight and become a healthier person.”

Dr Ng said after seeing Helmi’s successful weight loss, she too began fasting and taking on a low-carb diet and shared it with her patients.

“As it’s not yet very popular among mainstream medicine practitioners, I’m trying my best to share it. Hopefully, more people will benefit, ” she said.


TAMPIN – A mother’s decision to leave her 10-month-old baby alone at home while she made a quick stop at the post office came back to haunt her, after the infant was killed in a fire.

Tampin deputy OCPD Deputy Supt Ahmad Pilus Zainal said the 31-year-old mother had put her baby to sleep in an electric cradle at their home in Kampung Bangkahulu and told a neighbour to keep an eye on her while she went to the Gemas post office.

“The mum left her baby at home around 10.30am and told a neighbour to keep watch in case the baby wakes up.

“However, the mother later received a call from the neighbour and was told that her house was ablaze,” he said, adding that a policeman on duty at the Gemas police station also received a call of the fire from a member of the public around 11.50am.

DSP Ahmad Pilus said the mother immediately rushed to their rented home and saw that the house was ablaze.

“Her baby had also died in the incident,” he said adding that her husband was on duty at the Syed Sirajuddin Army camp when the fire broke out.

He said the Fire and Rescue Department was investigating the cause of the blaze.

“For now, we have classified the baby’s death as Sudden Death.

“We are still probing if the fire was an act of arson or caused by other factors,” he added.

The victim’s remains have been sent to the Tampin Hospital for a post-mortem.


Malaysian doctor reaches out via WeChat group

February 18, 2020 | News | No Comments

BEIJING – Nothing could stop Dr Jerome Liew from reaching out to his audience, not even Covid-19.

When the Kuching-born general practitioner was asked to address the concerns of Malaysians in Sichuan province about the coronavirus, he relied on social networking to get his job done.

He gave a health talk last week to a WeChat group of over 150 Malaysians, mostly based in this southwest Chinese province well known for its spicy food and giant pandas.

Malaysian Embassy officials started the group chat to better communicate with Malaysians in Sichuan.

Dr Liew, who is based at a hospital in Sichuan’s capital city of Chengdu, was approached by a member of the group to give the talk. And he was more than happy to share his knowledge.

There was a minor setback though.

Dr Liew, 35, had given countless health talks previously and he had never doubted whether his audience could follow or understand what he said.

Last week’s WeChat talk was different for him as he was unsure whether the participants could grasp his message.

During the one-hour session, he sent out over 100 voice and text messages plus dozens of materials in image forms.

“I could not see their expressions, so I did not know if they understood me or whether I was going too fast or too slow, ” he added.

Dr Liew said that face-to-face sessions would allow him to interact better with his audience but the current situation did not permit him to do so to minimise the risk of spreading the virus.

Among the popular questions posed to him during the WeChat talk were those that concerned the travel advisory to China, the incubation period of the virus, its symptoms, personal healthcare and vaccine-related matters.

“If you are overseas and you can afford not to come back yet, I would advise you to stay there as long as you can, especially those with children, ” he said, adding that travelling and staying in crowds would carry the risk of getting infected.

He also corrected the misinformation that the audience gathered from the Internet.

One common fallacy is the way to wear a surgical mask.

Dr Liew explained that the side of the mask with a darker shade – whether green, blue, pink or white – should always face out regardless of a person being ill or healthy.

The medical doctor, who spent the past 17 years in Australia, came to Chengdu six months ago.

“I came here five years ago to visit a friend and I love the city, so when I got the opportunity to work here, I grabbed it, ” he added.

He said he enjoyed the tea culture in Chengdu and socialising with the people at the parks.

And he has started learning to play mahjong, the most popular past-time of the locals.


BEIJING – For Malaysians returning to China for work after the Lunar New Year break, festive cookies share space in their baggage with medical supply to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Unlike previous years when they would bring back their favourite Chinese New Year goodies in bulk, this time their bags were stuffed with face masks, gloves, hand sanitisers, alcohol swabs, antiseptic disinfectants and safety goggles.

Some even brought back sanitisers with high alcohol content, only to find this inflammable item forbidden on board the flight.

Most Chinese cities officially started work on Monday after a two-week respite, which included the week-long Spring Festival holiday.

Operations director Asthy Tan and her husband flew from Malaysia to the Chinese capital with four pieces of baggage.

“We have 10 boxes of disposable masks, three boxes each of N95 masks and gloves and 25 bottles of sanitisers in various sizes.

“Some of them are for our friends,” she said.

To prepare for her 14-day quarantine at home, Tan, 40, also brought back an assortment of biscuits, packets of cooking pastes, bee hoon and her favourite instant teh tarik.

Film director Michael Wong took an extra step in protecting his family from the disease.

As soon as they boarded the plane, they wiped their seats, arm rests and trays with disinfectant.

“Luckily, no one complained,” Wong, 48, said.

In preparation for the two-week quarantine, his house has now become a mini store and pharmacy with 500 sachets of Malaysian coffee, six containers of biscuits, a variety of pastries and 10 boxes of surgical masks, gloves, alcohol swabs and sanitisers.

“It’s a whole new experience for me this time even though I went through the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) epidemic in 2003.

“I had just got married then but now I have two children and three cats.

“The responsibility has grown so I have to be extra careful,” he said.

Scheduled to fly from Sabah on Feb 16, project manager Arthur Pang has decided to leave behind bulky and heavy clothing like jeans to make room for medical supplies and food stuff.

“I bought a lot without realising that my bags were already full,” said the 46-year-old.

Pang said he would be bringing over 100 pieces of masks, 500 pieces of alcohol swabs, 200 latex gloves, a thermometer, a few bottles of cod liver oil and Vitamin C.

“I am also going to stuff my luggage with instant noodles, beverages and canned food like sardines and curry chicken, ” he added.


In concerning times such as these, a little wholesome humour is appreciated — especially since the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak could soon be declared a pandemic

A viral outbreak ain’t stopping the Chinese New Year festivities from carrying on, and according to recently shared clips on Facebook, a lion dance troupe in Malaysia is still getting gigs to bless up a business. 

Precautionary measures need to be taken first, of course, and a video uploaded by a Low Choon Fui last Friday (Jan 31) showcased how troupe members had to get their temperature checked by an auxiliary police officer before getting the green light to perform. 

Low Choon Fui 发布于 2020年1月31日周五

They aren’t the only ones getting screened though. A second clip has the officer checking the temperature of the two lion dance heads (via their ears, no less) in jest. With the two lacking fever symptoms, the officer welcomed the troupe into the building. 

Low Choon Fui 发布于 2020年1月31日周五

According to Malay Mail, commenters were happy to play along, with one asking if the lions would be referred to a veterinarian if they failed the temperature screening. 

On a serious note though, Malaysia is facing 12 confirmed cases of coronavirus patients so far, with one suspected case reported at the Kuala Lumpur City Centre complex. A journalist accused of spreading fake news about the coronavirus was charged in court today with the intention to cause public fear. 

The situation in China is even more dire with 490 deaths from the viral outbreak. It’s gotten to the point where copies of an erotic video game are being given out for free to keep people indoors and avoid close contact. 


KUALA LUMPUR – Badminton world No. 1 Kento Momota has been injured in a car accident in Malaysia, with the driver of the vehicle killed in the crash.

The pre-dawn vehicle collision took place along the Maju Expressway early Monday morning (Jan 13), just hours after he secured his first victory of the season at the Malaysia Masters. 

The Japanese shuttler was with three other players en route to Kuala Lumpur International Airport when the hired van they were in rammed into the rear of a 30-tonne truck, the local fire and rescue department said in a brief statement. Pictures showed the front of the van crushed against a lorry but the back section appeared intact.

The driver of the van, named as N. Bavan, was killed in the accident. The fire and rescue department said it was still working to extricate the driver’s body from the wreckage. 

Momota and the others – named as the Japanese player’s compatriots Yu Hirayama, Morimoto Arkifuki and Englishman William Thomas by official news agency Bernama – suffered slight injuries, the department said. 

Malaysian daily The Star said Hirayama, 35, and Morimoto, 42, are part of the Japanese coaching team while Thomas is a Badminton World Federation (BWF) court official.

The vehicle crashed into the back of a lorry, which was travelling slowly, Bernama reported.

“The victim’s body and all the injured” were sent to hospital in the administrative capital Putrajaya, fire and rescue department senior official Norazam Khamis was cited as saying.

The injured “were able to walk out of the van by themselves with some scratches”, he added. 

The survivors were reportedly in a stable condition, according to a statement from Serdang police.

This was confirmed by Malaysian Tan Kim Her, who is the men’s doubles coach for the Japanese national team. 

“They are in stable condition but are currently under observation for another six to seven hours to see if they are okay,” The Star quoted him as saying.

“It’s truly tragic, especially involving a badminton icon like Momota,” Malaysian sports minister Syed Saddiq told reporters after visiting the injured in hospital. But he added those hurt were “recovering well, (and) all four are also in stable condition”.

The others hurt suffered facial, leg, hand and head injuries, according to the police.

The Badminton Association of Malaysia said in a statement it was “saddened” by what happened.

The incident has cast a pall over Momota’s celebrations after he had captured the Malaysia Masters title with ease on Sunday, when he beat Denmark’s Viktor Axelsen 24-22, 21-11.

It remains to be seen if the accident will affect his preparations for the upcoming Olympics, where he is bidding to win a first gold at his home Games – the only major individual title to elude him so far.

The reigning world champion had told reporters that he was eyeing more success in 2020 after Sunday’s victory.

Momota, currently the best player on the planet, enjoyed a stellar 2019, winning a record 11 titles including the World Championships, Asia Championships and All England Open. 

“My condition was not perfect coming into this tournament, but I was focused on this week and was able to play calmly,” said the Japanese star, who pocketed US$30,000 (S$40,500).

“I do not think I am the strongest, but I am sharp and confident especially after winning the World Tour Finals last year. I know when to focus on attack and defence.” 


The fact that more local than foreign students populate international schools in Malaysia is not news.

Since enrollment into international schools was opened to local students back in 2006, reports state there are 44,575 Malaysians compared to 25,220 foreigners to date in 163 international schools here.

But as the number continues to rise, local academics and education experts worry this may lead to an “identity crisis” among local students ― that not being educated in a national school may lead to them feeling (and being) less Malaysian.

A member of the National Education Advisory Council Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said there is nothing to worry about as the percentage of Malaysian students in international schools only make up less than five per cent of the total number of Malaysian students nationwide.

Independent senior researcher and education consultant Tan Ai Mei feels nation-building efforts are not predicated merely on enrolment in national schools.

“What it means to be Malaysian is the sense of belonging to a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic country.

“This is not reflected in most national schools due to the overwhelming percentage of a single race ― Malays ― in most of them,” she added.

On the other hand, Tan said, while international schools do teach Bahasa Malaysia to Malaysian students, the syllabus merely scratches the surface.

“Perhaps the government could sit down with international schools to improve the Bahasa Malaysia syllabus.

“This is important as these are the future leaders of the country. To lead the country, they need to be conversant in Bahasa Malaysia apart from English and Mandarin,” she said. 

While acknowledging that national school standards are trailing behind that at international schools, Noor Azimah who is also Parents Action Group for Education (Page) chairman, said all is not lost.

“I sent my children to national schools. They turned out fine. Some parents are spoilt but if they have the means, it’s up to them,” she said when contacted by Malay Mail.

That said, Noor Azimah suggested that the government look into how it can improve and raise the standards of national schools to gain public confidence.

From her observations on the ground, Tan also said that education in the country has been politicised too much.

She feels that national schools end up becoming “more like religious schools” because of the hours allocated to religious classes.

“I have spoken to some of the teachers and also religious non-governmental organisations, telling them that a school is not where you spread ideology or religious teachings.

“School is where children are groomed to be leaders of the country through education,” she added.

Meanwhile Fairview International School director of corporate affairs Jonson Chong viewed allegations by local academic and education experts that international schools are only interested in profits as unfair.

Through meeting with parents, Chong found they are concerned about the learning experiences their children are going through in national schools. 

“If the government wants Malaysians to be more patriotic, then show that there is a lot for us to be proud of, and we are accepted like Malaysians,” said Chong. 

Conversations with several parents whose children are in international schools show that the main reason for enrolling their children in these schools is to ensure a smooth transition into university later.

Cheah Seng Chye said the Education Ministry’s decision to abolish the Teaching and Learning of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI) definitely influenced parents’ decision to send their children to international schools.

Cheah said he made the decision to send his daughter to an international school after his son’s rough transition into university.

Cheah’s son had completed his secondary school education in a national school, and later was awarded a scholarship to continue his studies in Singapore.

“But when he went down to Singapore, he realised that the standard was totally different… for the first semester he was struggling. He didn’t do very well to the point that the school called us to have a chat.”

He added that going to an international school will not make a person less Malaysian.

Another parent Malay Mail spoke to also sent her daughter to an international school for the same reason.

“We wanted to be sure that our daughter was able to master both Maths and Science, apart from English as they were equally important,” said Sofea Ahmad.

Sofea said this does not make her child less Malaysian as they converse in both Bahasa Malaysia and English at home.

 “She will not become less Malaysian, I can assure you of that. She knows the value of being a Malaysian and what it’s all about.

“My husband and I constantly teach her the values of being a Malaysian, Malaysian historical figures and we visit historical sites around the country,” she said.

Instead, she expressed concern about her daughter missing out academically if she had opted to send her to a national school.

Celina Tong also took her children out of national schools when the PPSMI policy was abolished.

She added that, if anything, students in international schools are not subjected to the idea of “separation.”

“Unlike at national schools where we were always separated for Islamic religious classes and Moral classes, everyone is taught the same subjects at international schools.

“In fact, they learn about integration at a young age ― getting to know about other countries so they don’t get a culture shock when they leave school,” she added.

At the time of writing, Malay Mail’s attempts to reach out to the Education Ministry have not been successful.


KOTA KINABALU – The seven students who were held in connection with a rape case in Tawau will get to sit for their Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination.

This follows a decision by the police not to apply for a remand extension to assist them in the case.

On Friday, the suspects, all aged 17, were picked up after a report was filed the same day over the alleged rape of a Form Two student at a secondary school here.

“The victim has been sent to the hospital to undergo a medical check-up.

“Since the case has been solved with all the suspects caught, we will not apply for a remand extension.

“They will be given police bail when the three-day remand ends, so that they can sit for their

SPM, ” said Tawau police chief Asst Comm Peter Umbuas yesterday.

He said the police were still gathering evidence before pressing any charges.

The victim, a 14-year-old girl from the same school, was found crying at around 11am by a teacher.

She claimed two of the suspects raped her while the other four forced her to perform oral sex.

Another suspect was said to be watching the incident, which occurred at a switch room in the school.

The teacher alerted the victim’s mother who then lodged a police report.


School may be frustrating for students in many ways, especially when assignment deadlines and examinations push stress levels to a whole new level.

Very often, dealing with the pressure of academia can be a difficult thing to do. However, a group of Universiti Teknologi Petronas (UTP) students in Perak, Malaysia came up with a (literally) straining way of relieving their stress during the exam period.

The 27-second-long video was shared last week by Malaysian Twitter user (@_amrlhakim) with a meme-inspired caption that explores what boys are really doing when their girlfriends aren’t around. 

The clip shows the group of UTP students, whose identities remain unknown, playing an all-out game of tug of war barefooted along the dormitory hallway. 

In the game, the losing team on the right could be seen giving way to the other team on the left. 

The clip has since been viewed over 700,000 times, bringing much laughter into the dreary hearts of students.

Some have pointed out at how envious and amazed they are at how creative UTP students can be when it comes to having fun, while others were laughing at how hilarious one of the guys in the losing team was seen sliding across the hallway.

PHOTO: Twitter/sun4ijaa
“Hey HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA you were sliding forward like a dumb kid.” PHOTO: Twitter/aminnazhar

Several users considered the stunt to be one of the reasons why being a dude is the best (questionable). At the same time, others were thoroughly amazed and had given it a try themselves.

“I want to be a guy” PHOTO: Twitter/finnashaarii
PHOTO: Twitter/memes4lifr

It definitely wouldn’t hurt to have fun along the way. Or at the very least, make the best of one’s school life with impromptu shenanigans. 


The recently-concluded Star Search 2019, held in Singapore, has picked a Malaysian as its champion.

Teoh Ze Tong, 26, emerged the winner of the talent competition organised by Mediacorp, according to a recent news report.

An assistant manager with Carousell, a classifieds marketplace, Teoh was among the favourites in the competition.

“It was actually a lot of pressure on me. I felt so stressed by those predictions and it was only through the help of my mentor and staff that I was able to let go of those stresses and do well,” he said.