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Thursday, March 29, 2007
Mass circumcision?
The Guardian - 29 March 2007 - Report by Sarah Boseley, health editor

UN calls for mass circumcision of men to tackle Aids epidemics

The United Nations yesterday urged all countries with devastating Aids epidemics to launch mass male circumcision programmes following evidence that the surgical procedure can protect against HIV infection. The World Health Organisation and UNAids, the joint UN programme on HIV/Aids, made the official recommendations after a meeting of experts in Montreux, Switzerland, to consider the evidence from three trials in Africa, which were stopped early when it became clear that men who had been circumcised were up to 60% less likely to get HIV than those who had not.

Experts accept circumcision is a sensitive issue, tied in to social and religious traditions. During sectarian fighting in India, Muslims and Hindus at one time would tell friend from foe by pulling down their trousers - all Muslims were circumcised.

But research suggests men and women in Africa would accept male circumcision if it lowered the risk of Aids, and WHO experts yesterday held out the prospect of cultural change over a decade or more. Catherine Hankins, associate director of the WHO, said that within about a decade in the 1980s and 1990s, South Korea went from no circumcision of boys to circumcising 90%, influenced by the example of the US.

Circumcision could bring many benefits in the long term - it is estimated that universal male circumcision in sub-Saharan Africa, where HIV/Aids is most prevalent, could prevent 5.7 million new infections and 3 million deaths over 20 years.

The logistics of rolling out circumcision are formidable for impoverished countries burdened with Aids and already struggling to test, counsel and treat all who arrive at their clinics. The WHO is recommending they first focus on adult males, even though the procedure is easier in babies, because it is most urgent to reduce infections in the sexually active age group.

It emphasises the importance of sensitivity, counselling and a lack of coercion when offering circumcision and that those who perform it are trained and perform the procedure in a hygienic setting. The WHO also wants donor governments to help fund programmes.

Dr de Cock said the meeting of experts that decided on the guidance disagreed on little, although "there are people who are very concerned that male circumcision has such heavy social and cultural connotations that they would want more data from the world of social science before making any recommendations".

Some spoke in terms of "symbolism and assault on the body's integrity", he said. But set against that was the weight of the disaster that Aids represented in Africa. "The thing to me that comes closest to the Aids epidemic for its assault on African culture is slavery," said Dr de Cock.

At a glance: Circumcision

Circumcision is almost as old as mankind. The first evidence of the ritual removal of all or part of the foreskin as a rite of puberty comes from aboriginal tribes around or before 10,000 BC, followed by communities in north-eastern Africa and the Arab peninsula some 4,000 years later.

The Jewish tradition of male circumcision dates back to the book of Genesis, part of the Torah, which told of God's command to Abraham that he should circumcise himself and his sons. Circumcision was considered a sign of the Covenant.

Jesus was circumcised, but St Paul ruled that converts to Christianity did not need to undergo the operation. In 570, Muhammad was born "already circumcised" which is said to have given rise to universal circumcision among Muslim men.

As the centuries moved on, arguments raged over circumcision. The foreskin was identified as the most sensitive part of the penis by the Italian anatomist Jacopo Berengario da Carpi in the 15th century. In the 1800s removal of the foreskin became widespread in Britain and the US to prevent boys masturbating. About a quarter to a third of the world's males are circumcised, most of them Muslim or American.

Ahah .. perhaps Malaysia can 'export' her expertise in this area .. and we can offer a 'traditional' experience with the banana stem or a more modern experience using the laser. Perhaps we can also produce a CD of the event as done in the villages with the 'tudung saji' on top of the affected area. Can also be a 'circumcision cum tour' as in ecotourism but 'circumtourism' ... get snipped and a holiday as well ... calling all tok mudim .. aiyaa.. tak tau lah ...

posted by Rozhan @ 3/29/2007 05:19:00 PM   0 comments
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Quality management please ..

NST 28 March 2007 - 453 housing developers blacklisted by Heidi Foo

KUALA LUMPUR: A total of 453 errant housing developers have been blacklisted by the Housing and Local Government Ministry for various offences.

As of Dec 31 last year, 163 housing developers and 461 directors failed to comply with the awards given out by the Homebuyers Claims Tribunal.

The remaining 290 developers were found to have failed to settle compound notices issued to them for failing to produce their respective progress reports (Laporan Kemajuan Projek).

At a press conference held yesterday, the ministry’s director of monitoring and enforcement, Dr G. Parame- swaran, said the authorities were constantly monitoring the blacklisted companies to ensure they did not assume other names.

"We will run a check to see if they have been previously blacklisted. The names of the directors involved will remain on our list and they are not allowed to operate under new development firms or undertake new projects until they have complied with the tribunal order or settle the compounds.

"We are taking a more aggressive approach which includes raiding developers’ premises to ensure they obey the laws.

"While it is our role to protect the interest of housebuyers, we are also aware that the developers contribute much to the growth of the economy. Therefore, we want to ensure that the housing sector maintains a healthy growth," said Parameswaran.

He said the ministry had received more than 16,500 complaints from the public between 2001 and 2006. The complaints have been classified under 13 categories.

"The most number of complaints received falls under the category of ‘Liquidated Assessment Damages’ which recorded a total of 3,611 cases while the lowest was 97 cases under the ‘Infrastructure’ category. Of the 3,611 cases, 1,978 were solved," he said.

Last year, Selangor recorded 2,029 complaints which was the highest compared with other states. The complaints made up 45 per cent of the total complaints recorded.

Kuala Lumpur was the second highest with 1,291 complaints.

He also said about RM1.6 million was collected from 1,051 developers who were issued with compound notices from 2003 till Dec 31 last year.

"Of these, 685 notices were issued for failure to produce their progress reports, 626 for not complying with the housing development advertisement guidelines and three for other offences under the Housing Development Act (Control and Licensing) 1966."
posted by Rozhan @ 3/28/2007 09:44:00 AM   0 comments
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Briyani Plate?
Dang !! Are they going to finish this? Where is the shovel to pull the ones in the middle unless they are going to step into the 'plate'.
posted by Rozhan @ 3/27/2007 10:13:00 AM   0 comments
Tuesday, March 13, 2007
All England 2007
NST - 12 March 2007 - Badminton/All England Championships: Carve their names with pride by K.M. Boopathy

KOO Kien Keat and Tan Boon Heong yet again demonstrated why they are the world’s most exciting young pair when they beat China’s world champions Fu Haifeng-Cai Yun to end Malaysia’s 25-year wait for an All England men’s doubles title at the National Indoor Arena in Birmingham yesterday.

And the Malaysia pair did it in dazzling style winning 21-15, 21-18 in a gripping 39 minutes. "It was such an important title for us. It is definitely our first major victory and more meaningful than the Asian Games gold," said a delighted Kien Keat. "It has been 25 years since the previous victory and we are proud of the feat."

The pair’s staggering success rate now stands at three titles in five tournaments since Kien Keat, 22, and Boon Heong, 20, competed in the Japan Open last October. Kien Keat-Boon Heong announced their arrival on the world stage when they ended Malaysia’s 36-year-wait for an Asian Games badminton gold in Doha last December.

National men’s doubles coach Rexy Mainaky, after the painful episode of seeing last year’s All England title snatched by Denmark’s Jens Eriksen-Martin Lundgaard Hansen despite having three pairs in the semi-finals, had badly wanted his players win it this year. And this they did.

Sports Minister Datuk Azalina Othman also conveyed her congratulations to the top young pair and hopes their victory will rub off on other Malaysian athletes.

Heartiest congratulations to the pairs and to the rowdy Malaysian in the badminton hall. Wish I was there. Their hard WORK paid off .. and by the way this is NOT a rubbing competition ... hehehe ....

posted by Rozhan @ 3/13/2007 08:22:00 AM   0 comments
What price 4 comfort ..?
NST - 12 March 2007 - Get a head start for twilight years - A LIFE of comfort and good health in retirement is not beyond the average Malaysian executive despite cases of some who ended penniless after wasting their Employees’ Provident Fund savings in poor investments. Financial experts say prudent investments in sound financial instruments can yield handsome returns in old age. ANIS IBRAHIM, SUGANTHI SUPARMANIAM, HEIDI FOO and PRESENNA NAMBIAR have the stories.

CAN a 35-year-old Malaysian executive earning about RM4,000 a month afford a comfortable lifestyle after retirement at 55?

This is a question often on the minds of those on the threshold of middle age but which seldom yields a definite answer. Yes, it is possible to live the same lifestyle in 20 years’ time but it is going to cost a bomb.

One will need to have between RM1.4 million and RM2.8 million at retirement to maintain the same lifestyle depending on which financial planner one talks to.

Besides inflation, which will reduce the amount of items one can buy in 20 years with the same amount of money available today, there is also the astronomical cost of medical treatment in old age. Malaysians will have to bear much higher medical costs in the twilight of their lives, especially so in the light of the longer life expectancy of Malaysian men and women of 72 and 76 respectively.

The next is to identify the financial instruments to be used to accumulate between RM1.4 million and RM2.8 million by 2027. Some financial planners say one should put aside a third of the monthly income — or RM1,300 for a person taking home RM4,000 a month — for investments. All told, the average 30-something Malaysian in the private sector cannot depend on his EPF savings to ensure a comfortable lifestyle in retirement.

Fuiyyoo .. this is insane .. what planet did this planner come from? How much could one SAVE per month, as it stands now? Realistically ... what about the pensioners, and the low income group. They would probably starve to death or we might get an exponential increase of beggars on the streets. Sounds scary, don't you think. Better save EVERY penny NOW!! Even NOW, I wonder how people in KL cope.

I was at a mamak restaurant in KL some time ago and had a cup of 'teh tarik', something that would cost RM0.60 in Penang. I gave the teller RM1.00, and waited for my change. So there was a brief moment when I kinda looked at him, and him, me. Then he asked for another RM0.20, making that cup of tea RM1.20!! It cost half the price in Penang. Do people earn more in KL?? Aiyaaa .. tak tau lah ...

posted by Rozhan @ 3/13/2007 08:18:00 AM   0 comments
Monday, March 05, 2007
Broadband Rural ...
NST - 4 March 2007 - Affordable broadband technology for rural folk by Shahrum Sayuthi

PEKAN: Affordable wireless broadband technology will play a vital role in bridging the digital divide between the urban and rural areas.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the introduction of wireless broadband would make it easier for people, especially in rural areas, to access the Internet and other information and communication technology (ICT) services.

"The use of such technology will help ensure the benefits of ICT reach all the way to the grassroots segment of our society, instead of being restricted to a privileged few," he said at the launch of the Siemens Digital Lifestyle Awareness Showcase programme here yesterday. Najib described the existing digital divide as a factor contributing to the "new poverty" among those left out of the advances of the information age.

"Promoting ICT usage as a culture in this country would enrich our society as a whole, including people such as farmers and petty traders who could benefit from the information they can get from the Internet."

He lauded the move by Siemens Networks Malaysia and its partner in the programme, Telekom Malaysia Bhd, for providing an affordable broadband to rural areas.

Doering said the government and Telekom Malaysia had been open and ready to try out new technology especially in remote areas and this would help the nation’s mission to narrow the gap that once existed between advanced countries and developing countries.

For heaven's sake, what is this hard up for narrowing the digital gap. You think the poor farmer who has to work his butt off everyday just for some food on the table will be too concerned whether he can get on the Internet. What bull is this?? What is more IMPORTANT is the poverty-divide.

You SOLVE the poverty issue and the farmer will gladly sit back and relax and will be able to do other things. Let's not get blinded by all these technology nonsense ... I think better use can be found for the money spent on the hardware. It really boggles the mind to figure out what ICT services the rural folks are after, other than the telephone and the TV and radio. Can somebody enlighten me on this?? Would electricity and clean water supply fall under the 'want' category .. throw in good roads as well.... aiyaa.. tak tau lah ..

posted by Rozhan @ 3/05/2007 01:11:00 AM   0 comments
Professorial Lectures in USM
Public Lecture - Professorial Appointment - Universiti Sains Malaysia - 22 March 2007 - at the Dewan Budaya. Lecture starts at 9.30 am. Invitation OPEN to all. I was appointed full Professor of Open in Distance Learning in 2004 by the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM). Every newly appointed Professor will have to deliver his/her 'Professorial Talk' and mine will be as advertised. This talk is open to the public. If you are free and around in Penang, do drop by for an intellectual discourse.

My presentation will be followed by another new Professorial Lecture by Professor Roshada Hashim, a Professor of Fish Nutrition from the School of Biology, Universiti Sains Malaysia, who also happens to be my other half.

Briefly, my talk will be from 9.30-10.30 am followed by Prof. Roshada's talk from 10.50-11.50 am. Lunch will be served at 12.00 pm.

posted by Rozhan @ 3/05/2007 12:55:00 AM   0 comments
Saturday, March 03, 2007
Solution .. Transfer ..
NST - 02 Mac '07 - Teacher who hit pupils transferred

ALOR STAR: The English teacher who allegedly hit eight pupils with her high heels in Padang Terap district near here has been transferred to another school. State Education Department director Misrah Ibrahim said she was now teaching at another primary school in the same district.

He said the move was an interim measure, pending the completion of police investigations and the next course of action by the Education Ministry.

"We also want things to cool down a bit since many parents are still shocked and angry over the incident," he said when asked on the outcome of his department’s investigations on the case. In the Feb 25 incident, the teacher, in her 30s, was alleged to have struck eight of her Year Four pupils with her high heels for failing to hand in their homework.

As a result, three of the pupils received several stitches on the head while the rest received outpatient treatment at Kuala Nerang Hospital.

Hmmm .. the report further said that the transfer was NOT a disciplinary action. So .. is she coming back to the school? If is is an interim measure why transfer her at all? Now she is teaching in another school and then she is coming back and stop teaching at the other school ... what hanky-panky is this. This is not a reflection of good governance, especially in schools .. bad, bad example for all to see. This transfer habit must stop as it solves nothing.

If the teacher is under investigation, then investigate. She should meet the parents and apologise, including to the kids .. not just transfer her out. Apparently she is a good teacher. I wouldn't want to lose a good teacher, would you? Something is not jiving here ... aiyaa, tak tau lah ...

posted by Rozhan @ 3/03/2007 12:22:00 AM   0 comments
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Name: Rozhan
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