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Malaysian woman conned by online ‘boyfriends’

October 10, 2019 | News | No Comments

JOHOR BARU – A businesswoman who was two-timing her online boyfriend with another man she met on Facebook ended up being conned of RM800,000 (S$263,193) within a month.

The single woman in her 50s had befriended the men separately via Facebook.

Sources said that within a month of getting to know them, the men began professing their love for her.

One guy promised her US$1mil (S$1.38 million).

The businesswoman then started getting calls supposedly from courier companies and dispatch riders, requesting payment for licences, taxes and immigration clearance.

The woman, believed to be lonesome, transferred money to about 12 individual accounts throughout that month.

According to sources, she started banking in amounts ranging from RM3,000 to more than RM100,000 to these accounts, thinking that she could get hold of the gifts sent by her overseas lovers.

It is learnt that the woman only realised that she had been conned after requests came in for a bigger sum of money.

Sources said that she also started getting threats when she failed to deposit the money.

She related it to her family before lodging a police report.

In another love scam, a housewife who carried out an online affair was cheated of about RM40,000 by a “London boyfriend”.

She had befriended the man on social media.

They got along well and three months later in August, the man wanted to send her some gifts.

The woman, who is in her 30s, was contacted about a parcel being sent from overseas for her was awaiting collection.

However, she was told to pay about RM2,000 for clearance.

Soon after the first payment, the woman started getting subsequent calls for other payments to release the parcel.

Sources said that the woman started transferring the money via online banking to various accounts.

After banking about RM40,000, she realised that she had been duped.

And the promised gifts also never arrived.

The woman then lodged a police report.

A police official confirmed both cases and said investigations were under way under Section 420 of the Penal Code for cheating.

Those with information about such cases are urged to contact the police hotline at 07-221 2999.

AsiaOne

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IPOH – A 29-year-old policeman has been arrested for discharging his gun after a heated argument with his fiancee.

Perak police chief Comm Datuk Razarudin Husain said the bullet hit a dog in the leg during the incident at the woman’s home in Taman Merdeka on Sunday. (oct 6)

“We believe they were arguing after ending their engagement.

“The man, who was stationed at the Wang Kelian Immigration, Customs and Quarantine Complex, was missing from work on Friday,” he told reporters when met at the senior police officer’s mess hall here Monday (Oct 7).

Razarudin said the policeman has been remanded and the gun seized.

“We have also recovered a bullet for investigation.

“He has been suspended from performing his duty,” he said, adding that the case is being investigated under Section 307 of the Penal Code for attempted murder.

AsiaOne

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KUALA LUMPUR: An actor has been arrested in connection with a cheating case involving a publisher.

It is learnt that 25-year-old was arrested at around 12pm when he came to the Ampang Jaya police headquarters to have his statement taken.

The arrest came in the wake of a police report that was lodged by the publisher, a Datuk, almost two months ago.

In that report, the complainant allegedly lost RM200,000 in cash meant for an investment in March.

When contacted, Deputy Selangor police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Ab Rashid Ab Wahab confirmed the arrest, adding that the case was being investigated under Section 420 of the Penal Code for cheating.

TheStar

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PADAWAN: Like many other kampung girls, Abbie Hosanna enjoyed picking durians in the jungle and swimming in the river near her home in Kampung Git at Jalan Puncak Borneo here.

Sometimes, she took a nap on a tree branch accompanied by fresh and cooling breeze drifting through before she returns home for dinner.

“I love the forest, the scent of damp earth and the soothing sound of the waterfalls. I also move around and visit other villages nearby and realise that there are many hidden gems, located in our own backyard,” she said.

Although many villages were blessed with the lush green forest rich with floral and fauna, unique traditions and cultural heritage, many youths have nevertheless migrated to urban areas for better opportunities and higher wages.

“It’s sad to see only those without skills and knowledge stay back in the villages and work as a farmer, general or construction workers – as they had no choice,” said the Universiti Malaya Information Technology graduate.

Realizing the potential that one had in one’s own backyard, the 27-year-old co-founded Backyard Tour. It is a social enterprise – to equip the villagers with basic knowledge to become a local guide, to draw-up and promote tour packages.

“We train them to become a local guide and to create opportunities in their own backyards. So that, they have a choice (to earn a living) and at the same time, we hope more young people will stay near the forest and venture into eco-tourism and preserve their respective traditions and cultural heritage,” she told New Straits Times.

The Backyard Tour received its first RM25,000 funding from Malaysia’s National Innovation Agency (AIM) after being named as the 12 finalists in the Berbudi Berganda Social Impact Innovation Challenge in 2014, which allowed the idea to turn into a reality.

Each villager is required to attend a three-day-training, covering five chapters; developing tour packages, planning and logistics, health and safety, communication as well as online marketing to become a tour guide.

Currently, Backyard Tour has 11 active local guides, aged between 19 and 60, from Kampung Sadir, Kampung Parang, Kampung Kiding and Kampung Begu.

To create more attractive and inclusive packages, Backyard Tour is also collaborating with four villages that offer homestay programmes, namely Kampung Giam, Kampung Semedang, Kampung Git and Kampung Annah Rais.

The programmes are priced as low as RM70 per pax for student or group packages. It also includes a daily tour of heritage gateway, local food tour, village farm tour, waterfall and jungle trekking to a three-day-two-night package that cost about a few hundreds.

Abbie said the most popular tour would be the waterfall and jungle trekking which include tribal cooking, providing an authentic taste of the local tradition dishes.

“Our local guide could earn about RM500 per tour during peak season from June to October. But, there are months where we have zero income and they will return to their farm to plant fruits and vegetables,” she said.

Although there are more economic opportunities and activities in several villages, Abbie hoped to create a sufficient and stable income for the rural folks to improve their living standard.

“Besides, we are facing challenges in penetrating into our target market as competition on getting travelers as customers, in general, can be very stiff. Our presence are still pretty weak, but slowly building up.

“We also hoped to introduce the concept in other villages, either nationally or globally– so that the young generation would not be forced to leave their hometown due to lack of economic and career opportunities, low wages and uncertain future,” she added.

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Malaysia achieved another first recently when award-winning landscape designer Lim In Chong was invited to judge the Show Gardens competition at the prestigious BBC Gardeners’ World Live 2019 in Birmingham, England recently.

Lim, or Inch, who twice won the Gardening World Cup, brought a new dimension to the BBC Gardeners’ World Live assessment panel. The first Malaysian ever invited to judge the competition, Lim is also believed to be the first Asian judge to do so.

“I feel very honored and at the same time humbled to be asked to serve as a judge for show gardens in a country like the UK, which I consider the mother of all gardening countries. Of course, I am proud to be doing it as a Malaysian,” said Lim, when contacted recently.

BBC Gardeners’ World is a long-running BBC television programme about gardening, first broadcast on Jan 5, 1968 and still running as of today. Every year at BBC Gardeners’ World Live, an exciting collection of Show Gardens come to life. This year’s event was held from June 13–16 at the National Exhibition Centre.

“I think the two winning designs were very good. One was called the High Line, a modern hardscape-centred garden with very well constructed finishes. The other one, a retro garden called the Clock Makers Garden, had an enormous amount of details in both the hard and soft landscapes. Both gardens were beautifully executed,” he added.

Hardscape refers to non-living materials incorporated into a landscape while softscape comprises the live horticultural elements.

Show Gardens are judged to the highest standards of design, planting and inspiration. The assessment panel surveys each of the Show Gardens, including the Watchmaker’s Garden, the five APL Avenue gardens, the Canal & River Trust’s ‘Making Life Better by Water’ garden and many more.

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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.

AN INTRODUCTION TO LOCAL FRUITS

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.

FORGING AHEAD

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.

AsiaOne

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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.”

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‘This the season to be smelly – and jolly, at least for the durian lovers cause there are so many durian-themed products in the market right now!

We have durian chocolate drink and durian milk tea by Tealive, there’s a Musang King durian burger in Penang, McDonald’s durian Mcflurry is back, and more!

Now, behold Cadbury’s durian-flavored chocolate milk bar which is made especially for the Malaysian market (aww, how sweet!). “Cadbury Dairy Milk celebrates the flavor of Malaysia, with it’s new limited edition Durian flavor,” reads the description.

The durian-flavoured chocolate product is available for purchase on Shopee for RM17 for 2 pieces. Malaysians can also purchase the chocolate bar at local super market or convenience stores.

Cadbury Dairy Milk Durian is the 2nd localized flavor after Cadbury Dairy Milk Kopi C which pays homage to Malaysians’ love for traditional coffee shops, known as the kopitiam.

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Twenty-one students at SK Linggi near here had to be treated at a government clinic after they became nauseated and began vomiting after inhaling pesticide fumes after the chemical was sprayed at a nearby chilli farm.

Port Dickson OCPD Supt Aidi Sham Mohamed said 10 of them were later taken to the Port Dickson Hospital for further outpatient treatment.

“A teacher from the school called the Linggi police station around 10.30am Thursday (July 18), after some of the pupils began vomiting after inhaling a strong smell.

“We then found that pesticide was being sprayed at the farm located some 500m away and that the wind had carried fumes of the pesticide to areas near the vicinity of the school,” he said.

Supt Aidi Sham said a police team then went to the farm and ordered that the spraying be stopped.

A medical team from the Linggi government clinic was also rushed to the school to treat the affected pupils. He said none of the pupils needed serious attention.

“The farm owner told us that the pesticide was recommended by the Agriculture Department and that he bought it from a government agency in Port Dickson,” Supt Aidi Sham added.

A team from the Fire and Rescue Department was also sent to the school to monitor the situation.

AsiaOne

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A study by influencer marketing and management platform InfluencerDB has found that overall engagement with Malaysian influencers has seen a sharp decline

The ‘Influencer Marketing Benchmarks Report 2019’ is an annual report that compiles statistics and insights on influencer marketing.

Engagement has seen a decline of 1.5% to 3.5% across all verticals (i.e. travel, beauty, fashion, food, lifestyle, and sports and fitness) when compared to stats in 2018.

InfluencerDB used Instagram for its report, and tracked three different benchmarks:
– average Audience Quality Grade,
– average Like Follower Ratio, and
– average engagement rates for sponsored and non-sponsored posts.

The study found that Malaysia had one of the lowest audience quality benchmarks among the countries studied, including Indonesia and Thailand

Essentially, most followers of Malaysian influencers consist of inactive Instagram users, fake accounts, and those who follow more channels than they can consume.

Malaysia scored 31.2% on average. In comparison, Brazil – which was singled out in the report as the origin of a majority of fake accounts – scored 25.9%.

Influencers in Germany and France came out on top with an audience quality of 67.2% and 66.4% respectively.

Meanwhile, the report also found that although overall engagement with influencers has decreased, users are more likely to respond to travel-based posts

“This may indicate a slow saturation of the market but also emphasises the significance to understand all important metrics,” the report notes.

“Marketers who can juggle the numbers and see the bigger picture know how to choose the right partner for collaborations.”

AsiaOne

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