Repeal draconian laws to ensure media freedom, says activist

C4 chief Cynthia Gabriel said any bias in reporting by media which is owned by tycoons or political parties will lead to distrust against the media in general. | 10-May-2021 – PETALING JAYA: There is an urgent need to repeal draconian media-related laws and push for media reform and greater press freedoms, rights advocate Cynthia Gabriel said today.

Gabriel, who is executive director of the Center to Combat Corruption and Cronyism (C4), claims laws such as the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998 and Sedition Act 1948, among others, have been used as a “shield” to protect those in power.

Speaking today in a webinar titled “Malaysia’s Trust in Media”, she said that any political bias in news coverage could also be due to ownership by political parties or influential people.

“News coverage tends to be biased if a news portal is owned by a certain political party or tycoon with a political agenda. This will destroy democracy in the country.

“Such bias in news reporting could also lead to growing distrust of the media,” she added.

Earlier in the webinar, Merdeka Center programme director Ibrahim Suffian said a survey commissioned by the NUJ with the International Federation of Journalists (under the European Commission Project), revealed that many Malaysians agreed with the provisions in the Sedition Act and anti-fake news law, despite the concern that such laws could be abused by the authorities.

He said the survey showed that many Malaysians acknowledged the threat of fake news and supported laws that served to curb disinformation in the country.

Is Malaysia heading in the right direction? Youth are pretty much split down the middle, according to new survey

According to Merdeka Center’s ‘National Youth Survey 2021’, Malaysian youth have mixed views on the country’s future. — Picture by Firdaus Latif | 08-May-2021 – KUALA LUMPUR, May 8 — A recent survey has found that Malaysian youth have mixed views on the country’s future, with 46 per cent saying it is heading in the “right” direction, while another 42 per cent believe it is going the “wrong” way.

According to Merdeka Center’s “National Youth Survey 2021”, the most prevalent reasons cited by youth with positive sentiments were administration (17.6 per cent), leadership (11.6 per cent) and economic concerns (9.1 per cent).

This was followed by social and public safety (4.9 per cent), along with development and infrastructure (3 per cent).

Top reasons why Malaysian youth think country is headed in ‘right’ direction

For those that believe the country is going sideways, politics (24.7 per cent), economic concerns (20.9 per cent), administration (9.6 per cent), health (8 percent) and leadership (5.6 per cent) were the most frequent concerns mentioned.

Corruption was among the lowest concerns listed, with only 0.8 per cent of those who held a negative view saying it influenced their perspective, as were education (1 per cent), along with social and public safety (1.3 per cent).

Top reasons why Malaysian youth think country is headed in ‘wrong’ direction

Furthermore, 70 per cent of youth polled said they were uninterested in information related to politics.

Of that percentage, 66 per cent believe that politicians “do not care what people think”, while 78 per cent said that politics and government seemed beyond their grasp.

When asked if they identified more with their ethnicity or nationality, 46 per cent of respondents said it was an even split.

This was followed by 40 per cent who said feeling Malaysian took precedence.

Only 11 per cent said they identified more with their ethnicity than their nationality.

The survey did not reveal which respondents were more likely to identify with their nationality or ethnicity, based on their ethnic background.

Meanwhile, 88 per cent of respondents agreed with the statement that “Malaysians need to develop new political thinking that is no longer premised on race and religious difference”, while 10 per cent disagreed with the statement.

Two per cent refused to answer or were unsure.

Similarly, 94 per cent of them agreed that “Malaysians need to put multiculturalism at the centre of society and celebrate an inclusive Malaysian identity that embraces all races and religions”. Only 3 per cent disagreed.

This data was taken from the results of a study conducted by the Merdeka Center between February 19 and March 20, 2021, with 2,520 respondents aged from 18 to 30, from all states across Malaysia.

The respondents were equally divided between female and male, and further demarcated by race; their location in urban, semi-urban and rural settings; and if they are registered voters.

Survey: Financial constraints Malaysian youths’ top concern followed by unemployment

People were face masks during the movement control order, in Kuala Lumpur city centre February 16, 2021. — Picture by Hari Anggara | 07-May-2021 – KUALA LUMPUR, May 7 — According to a recent study, “financial constraints” was the highest among the top five concerns faced by Malaysian youths.

Merdeka Center, in its National Youth Survey 2021 report released this evening, said 28.8 per cent of those polled said financial constraints are their top concern followed by 12.7 per cent who listed unemployment as their main problem they face today.

Top 5 among ‘issues, concerns or problems’ faced by Malaysian youth

The subsequent issues listed in the top five were “E-learning” (7.5 per cent), “internet connection” (5.5 per cent) and “Covid-19” (four per cent).

This list coincided with another poll in the study, where 34 per cent of youths aged between 18 to 30 said financial stability was their biggest need, followed by 17.3 per cent who opted towards job security and employment opportunity.

Top 5 among ‘needs’ of Malaysian youth

The following three other top needs for the youths polled were internet connection (6.6 per cent), effective online learning method (4.5 per cent) and comfortable living place (4 per cent).

Similarly, when asked if they have enough to make ends meet, 52 per cent of those surveyed said they have enough, while 44 per cent said they are struggling.

A further four per cent either refused to answer the question or said they were unsure.

Of those surveyed, 84 per cent said they are confident in achieving their goals.

Among the top aspirations listed by the youth were family bonding (29.1 per cent), financial stability or wealth (25.3 per cent), success in their career (18 per cent) and good education (18 per cent).

Meanwhile, 82 per cent of the youth agreed that everyone has a fair chance to increase their social standing based on their talent and hard work, while 15 per cent believed people’s standing was based on their background and “who your parents are”.

The study was conducted between February 19 and March 20, with 2,520 respondents aged from 18 to 30, from all states across Malaysia.

The respondents were equally divided between female and male, and further divided between race, urban; semi-urban and rural, and if they were registered as voters.

NBA starlet Hachimura gets racist abuse ‘almost every day’

Hachimura shoots against Los Angeles Lakers forward Markieff Morris during an NBA game last month. (AP pic)

TOKYO: Japanese NBA rising star Rui Hachimura said he receives racist messages “almost every day”, as uproar grows over the abuse directed at top athletes online.

His revelation comes after England’s Premier League led a social media boycott to protest against racist taunts suffered by footballers including Marcus Rashford and Reece James.

Hachimura, 23, a forward for the NBA team Washington Wizards, was commenting after his brother – a basketball player at a Japanese university – tweeted a screenshot of an offensive message he had received.

“There are people who say there is no racism in Japan,” wrote Aren Hachimura, 21, alongside an image of the direct message in Japanese that used a racist insult and told him to “die”.

“But I want people to pay attention to the issue of racism, even though I don’t think exposing (the message and its sender) here will solve the problem,” the younger Hachimura said on Tuesday.

Rui Hachimura, who has nearly 200,000 Twitter followers and was selected for the NBA Rising Stars roster in March, replied: “I receive this kind of thing almost every day.”

The Hachimuras, whose father is Beninese and mother is Japanese, are just the latest sports stars to speak out.

Last month, US Olympic snowboarding champion Chloe Kim said she receives racist abuse on social media on a daily basis amid a surge of anti-Asian violence in the US.

And former Arsenal and France star Thierry Henry left all of his social media platforms in March after saying enough had not been done to tackle racist abuse.

Premier League clubs and players stayed off social media over the weekend, but Manchester City forward Raheem Sterling was racially abused on Instagram less than 48 hours after the boycott ended.

Several biracial Japanese athletes, including Hachimura and tennis superstar Naomi Osaka, have risen to prominence in Japan in recent years.

Osaka, who has been an outspoken advocate for racial justice, wore masks bearing the names of black victims of police brutality in the US on her way to victory in the 2020 US Open.

But she has also had to deal with racial insensitivity in Japan, where she is a leading face of this summer’s Tokyo Olympics.

An ad campaign by one of her sponsors once depicted her as light-skinned in a cartoon, while a TV comedy duo suggested she “needs some bleach” because she is “too sunburned”.

A Nike advert highlighting racism and bullying in Japan caused a stir on social media late last year, with some users even calling for a boycott of the company.

Sibuk bincang gaji minimum, gaji menteri RM30,000-RM60,000 jangan lupa, sindir Zahid

Presiden Umno, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, berkata pihaknya menyokong sekiranya benar kerajaan dapat meningkatkan gaji minimum semaksimum yang boleh memandangkan rakyat sedia terbeban dengan kos sara hidup ketika ini.

PETALING JAYA: Dalam kesibukan perbincangan mengenai isu perintah gaji minimum dipertingkatkan, kita lupa mengenai gaji yang diterima barisan menteri dalam kerajaan hari ini, kata Presiden Umno, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Beliau berkata, rekod memperlihatkan gaji timbalan menteri dan menteri adalah sekitar RM30,000 hingga RM60,000 sebulan.

“Sewaktu Ordinan Darurat dilaksanakan adakalanya kita tidak dapat melihat menteri dan timbalan menteri berkenaan. Al maklumlah Parlimen tidak bersidang. Mereka semua sibuk turun padang berjumpa rakyat dan bukan bercuti,” katanya di Facebook.

Zahid berkata demikian sebagai mengulas amanat Perdana Menteri, Muhyiddin Yassin, ketika Hari Pekerja 1 Mei lalu yang menyatakan kerajaan sedang melaksanakan kajian semula perintah gaji minimum 2020, bagi memastikan ia kekal relevan dengan keadaan sosio ekonomi semasa.

Muhyiddin juga berkata, kerajaan dalam proses menambah baik dan meminda undang-undang perburuhan contohnya Akta Kerja 1955 dengan meluaskan skop pemakaian kepada semua pekerja dalam sektor swasta tanpa mengira had gaji, memanjangkan cuti bersalin kepada 90 hari dan pemberian cuti “paternity” selama tiga hari.

Terdahulu, pewartaan terhadap perintah gaji minimum baharu yang dinaikkan kepada RM1,200 sebulan di bandar utama bawah pentadbiran 57 majlis bandar raya dan majlis perbandaran, sudah berkuat kuasa pada 1 Feb tahun lalu.

Mengikut warta kerajaan itu, kadar gaji minimum kekal pada RM1,100 sebulan di kawasan selain wilayah bandar utama.

Pelaksanaan gaji minimum RM1,200 sebulan atau RM5.77 sejam di wilayah bandar utama dan RM1,100 sebulan atau RM5.29 sejam selain wilayah bandar utama adalah berdasarkan tempat kerja yang ditakrifkan mengikut Seksyen 2 Akta Kerja 1955 (Akta 265), Ordinan Buruh Sabah (Bab 67) dan Ordinan Buruh Sarawak (Bab 76) iaitu di mana-mana tempat kerja dijalankan untuk majikan oleh pekerja.

Dalam pada itu, Zahid berkata, pihaknya menyokong sekiranya benar kerajaan dapat meningkatkan gaji minimum semaksimum yang boleh memandangkan rakyat sedia terbeban dengan kos sara hidup ketika ini.

“Namun, perlu diingat peningkatan gaji minimum bakal mengundang lebih ramai pekerja dari luar yang mahu mendapatkan tawaran gaji lumayan, dan andai itu dilaksanakan saya berharap kerajaan mengutamakan rakyat tempatan.

“Menetapkan gaji minimum pada kadar semaksimum mungkin bukan mudah kerana terdapat banyak halangan daripada pihak swasta, majikan swasta terutama pengilang enggan memberikan gaji minimum kerana mereka boleh mendapatkan pekerja asing dengan mudah dan murah,” kata Zahid.

Indonesia’s economy shrinks for 4th straight quarter

INDONESIA’S economy shrank for the fourth consecutive quarter in January-March, data showed today, as the country’s leaders struggle to overcome a recession wrought by the coronavirus pandemic.

The 0.74% on-year contraction was a big improvement on the 2.19% in the previous three months but slightly worse than expected, with the tourism sector among the worst-affected industries.

All schools in Selangor ordered to close from tomorrow until after Raya holidays

Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Meru students who are taking the SPM examination return to school amid the movement control order January 20, 2021. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Meru students who are taking the SPM examination return to school amid the movement control order January 20, 2021. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

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KUALA LUMPUR, May 5 — The Selangor Education Department is ordering all schools in Selangor to close starting tomorrow until after the Hari Raya holidays are over.

It comes a day earlier than the scheduled festive season break which was meant to start from May 7 until 15. 

The order comes amid the movement control order (MCO) imposed in six districts in Selangor following a spike in cases the past two weeks.

“The Education Ministry and the National Security Council have recommended that we shut schools in Selangor from May 6 to 12 in order to curb the spread of Covid-19. Seeing as there are only two days left before the Hari Raya Aidilfitri break, we decided to close all schools in Selangor on May 6 and 7.

“The school closures will continue until after the Aidilfitri break and will resume in the same way the ministry mentioned on April 26,” the department’s head Haji Izmi Ismail said in a statement today.

Apart from that, Izmi said boarding school students can return home as per their schools’ schedule and the parents and guardians need to adhere to the schedule.

The festive season is scheduled to start for Group A schools (Kelantan, Johor, Terengganu) from May 7 until 15 while for Group B schools (Selangor, Perak, Perlis, Negri Sembilan, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Sabah, Sarawak, Pahang) from May 8 until 16.

Following the end of the holidays, the education ministry decided that all lessons will be done virtually the following two weeks.

This is to mitigate any chances of the virus spreading.

Hari Raya Aidilfitri will be celebrated on May 13 and 14.

Merdeka Center