Tag Archives: Ipoh Echo Issue 148

Hospital Fatimah School of Nursing – Blessed

Hospital Fatimah School of Nursing’s new extension block.

The new extension block of Hospital Fatimah’s School of Nursing which will provide improved facilities for the school as well as enable a larger intake of students in the future, was blessed by Bishop Elect Msgr. Sebastian Francis of the Penang Diocese recently.

The Congregation of the Brothers of Mercy from Switzerland,Germany and Singapore

Also present at the auspicious event was The Congregation of the Brothers of Mercy who arrived from Switzerland, Germany and Singapore which included its Superior General Rev. Brother Peter Berg.

(l) The Congregation posing at the new Complex (r) Bishop Elect Msgr Sebastian Francis.

Hospital Fatimah was founded by the Congregation of the Brothers of Mercy and has been providing health care services to the Ipoh community since 1974. Part of the celebration included wishing Rev. Brother Wolfgang Widding who celebrated his ‘grand 80th’ birthday on the same day.

(l) Bishop Elect Msgr Sebastian Francis (2nd from left) with fellow confreres (r) Rev Bro Wolfgang receives a birthday greeting.


Cultural Exchange Programme


University of Commerce in Hokkaido Japan, Japan International Cooperation CenterEleven students of Otaru University of Commerce in Hokkaido, Japan, visited Ipoh for the cultural exchange programme organized by Japan International Cooperation Center, Tokyo recently.

They arrived at Perak Malaysian-Japanese Friendship Society (PMJFS) in Ipoh in the evening and met 11 host families who volunteered to take them for two nights. After a sumptuous dinner, the delegation demonstrated Yosakoi-Soranbushi dance which is one of the typical folk songs sung by fishermen in Japan. Then, the PMJFS students who were trained in the same dance in the past months, also demonstrated. Both groups of students, after having practised intensively together for two nights, then danced on stage at Penang Bon Odori Festival on July 21.

While in Ipoh, the delegation visited SMK Raja Chulan in the morning and introduced their school activities to each other and then demonstrated dances. The Raja Chulan counterparts also demonstrated their Yosakoi dande, Kompang Formasi, and showed how to play the Malay traditional game, Congkak. It was quite an exciting and well-planned exchange programme.

In the same afternoon, they visited Yamaha Electronics Manufacturing Factory in Chemor. Mr K. Suzuki, the MD, explained about its history and business in the past 21 years and took them around the factory. The visit turned out to be very meaningful and inspiring for all the students.

After Bon Odori Festival in Penang, they left for Japan on July 22 with lots of fond memories of Malaysia.

Fish Quality Certifications


Aquaculture Practice Certificate (GAPC), Sijil Amalan Akuakultur Baik, Fish Quality Certification (FQC)Our local fishing industry makes for an insignificant fraction of the global fish industry. Few will recall the disastrous ban imposed on Malaysian fish and fish by-products by the European Union (EU) in 2008. This was because we failed to meet EU standards and overall quality requirements. The ban had severe implications on local fish farmers, vessel fishing enterprises and manufacturers. Many went bust.

The fishery department decided to provide a way out for the local players. It came up with two programmes to train, upgrade and certify those in the industry. Good Aquaculture Practice Certificate (GAPC) or Sijil Amalan Akuakultur Baik was drawn up specifically for the Malaysian suppliers. It was in response to public’s concern on food safety, especially fish. Fish Quality Certification (FQC) is structured to ensure that fish exported to the EU nations meet the Union’s requirements. Training is conducted free of charge.

The training centre in Sitiawan recently presented GAPC certificates to 36 participants and FQC certificates to 25 upon completion of the course. The GAPC is renewable every two years while FQC requires annual renewal. The presentation ceremony was graced by the Director-General of the Fishery Department Malaysia, Dato’ Ahamad Sabki bin Mahmood. Ahamad Sabki hoped industrial players would upgrade their fish business to meet local and international standards. “Although Malaysia constitutes only a tiny portion to the global market, it is the department’s goal for our people to compete in the global marketplace.”

In 2006, the Aquaculture Division of Fisheries of the Department of Fishery Malaysia released the general guidelines on aquaculture farming. The Bio-safety Unit was formed later. It audits, monitors and evaluates aquaculture farms in the country. To date there are 27 certified aquaculture farms, 42 certified vessel owners and 12 fish by-product manufacturers. This is relatively small, as the courses are provided upon request by industry players. It is the aspiration of the Department that the free training will encourage those in the industry to upgrade their status.

Those with GAPC certification can sell their fish to governmental bodies and organisations at a higher price of RM12 to RM13 per kilo while those without GAPC certification will get about RM7 per kilo.The training will also teach farmers how to protect their livestock from diseases such as the “white spot”. FQC holders can engage in international export of fish.

Information on the training programme is available at www.dof.gov.my. You can email to biosekuritiperak@yahoo.com for details. Contact person: Pn Nurul Faizah: 0165550597 or En Amir: 0197519349 or call the Ipoh office: 05-2554637.


Tariq Ramadan: Standing Up For Your Rights



By Fathol Zaman Bukhari

Islam, Democracy and Human RightsIt was one of those rare moments when something unexpected comes a calling. I was pleasantly surprised when my good friend, Din Merican, texted me to inform me of a talk by one of the world’s foremost Islamic philosophers and thinkers, Tariq Ramadan. Tariq was on a three-day visit to this part of the world recently and was making whistle stops in Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta for discourses on Islam.

I jumped at the opportunity to hear a worldly man who has made a niche for himself advocating the study and re-interpretation of Islamic texts with emphasis on the heterogeneous nature of Western Muslims.

Tariq Ramadan, incidentally, is a Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies in the Faculty of Oriental Studies at Oxford University. With such credentials Tariq will, without doubt, attract the wrong kind of following, especially in a conservative Muslim country like Malaysia.

Like they say, curiosity kills the cat. I immediately registered myself and my wife as participants for the lunchtime date at Traders Hotel Penang (formerly Shangri-La) on Tuesday, July 17. Coincidentally, I was in the city for an overdue medical check-up. The talk was sponsored by the state government under the ambit of Penang Institute, a think-tank consisting of the brightest brains formed by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng upon his ascension to the state’s highest political post in March 2008.

Tariq, as expected, did not mince his words when he took to the podium addressing the 300-odd lunch crowd consisting of a curious mix of Malaysians – the young, the not-so-young and the old. Interestingly, most of the audience consisted of non-Muslims with a sprinkling of Middle Eastern men and women whom I later learned were Palestinians. There was no shortage of Ipohites who formed a substantial number seated in the hotel’s spacious yet opulent ballroom cum convention hall.

Tariq’s lecture entitled, “Islam, Democracy and Human Rights: The Awakening of the Muslim World” related to things happening in the country, especially in the realm of Islamic jurisprudence. One very pertinent point he raised was on the rule of law or in our context, the rule by law.

Citizens, he reasoned, must struggle within the given framework. They must oppose existing or new laws which are unjust and discriminatory. “You know how many laws in this country need to be reformed,” he said. His statement amused the crowd who cheered him on. “I am not with the Opposition, not in political terms but rather in philosophical terms. I say something which is very true. Your model is not perfect and neither are your mores.”

“In the name of your conscience, as a Muslim, Buddhist, Christian or whatever you are. In the name of the citizenship you have, it’s your duty to stand up for what’s right, if not for your government, it’s for the people who live in your country.”

Tariq had touched a raw nerve and it reverberated in the hall. It resonated with the audience who remained glued to their seats, listening attentively to his every word. I was looking for some government sympathisers in the crowd but saw none. How I wish there were.

To be a good citizen, regardless of race and religion, one must observe three basic fundamentals, said Tariq. “You must obey the laws of the land, you must master the language and, above all, you must be loyal.”

Loyalty, however, has its limitations, he reasoned. “It should be critical loyalty not blind loyalty.” I find this most appropriate given the propensity of the “privileged class” to blindly support whatever that comes from Putrajaya. Civil Service, Police and Armed Forces personnel are among those in this group who not only practise but subscribe to the maxim.

Mohd Sofian Makinuddin, the high-strung Special Branch officer from Bukit Aman is one typical example. His fixation with the Opposition being infiltrated by Communist and Jemaah Islamiyah seems absurd but to him that is the truth. This is the kind of blind loyalty which Tariq abhors.

As if to absolve himself of the tyranny committed by Muslims worldwide, Tariq surmised, rather succinctly,” No community is better than the other just because they’re Muslims.”

One member of the audience, a Palestinian, asked Tariq why he espoused the atrocities committed by Americans on Muslim prisoners in Guantanamo while Palestinians are being routinely killed and maimed by the Zionist regime. “I won’t venture to describe the atrocities committed in Arab prisons. Similarly, I won’t venture to explain the killing and maiming of Arabs by Arab regimes.”

The impact the 49-year old Swiss citizen of Egyptian origin had on the audience was electrifying. He is a true thinker of a different pedigree. Tariq wannabes Ridzuan Tee, Jamil Khir Johari and a horde of our so-called Islamic scholars (ulamaks) can never come close to him, not now not ever.


Hospital Fatimah Takes Measures to Improve Traffic Congestion


Hospital Fatimah IpohFollowing a letter from a resident published on June 1 (IE Issue 144), Hospital Fatimah is taking measures to improve the congestion of traffic around its neighbourhood caused by the increasing number of patients to the Hospital and the limited parking lots within its grounds. In a letter addressed to neighbourhood residents, the Hospital stated that, although it has no control over where  patients park their cars outside the Hospital, it is taking steps to address the issue by:

  1. Intensifying efforts to construct more car parks within the Hospital grounds.
  2. Implementing carpooling and back-to-back parking for staff cars.
  3. Surveying the neighbourhood during peak hours for cars parked haphazardly and announcing through its public address system, advising patients to remove their cars (much like what is done in shopping malls).

Much like the other private hospitals in Ipoh, Hospital Fatimah shows that it has recognised and borne the responsibility of improving the parking situation.

Another major parking problem is at the Hospital Tuanku Bainun (General Hospital). It is hoped that the management of the General Hospital are taking similar measures to alleviate their patients’ parking problems.


The Haven Ipoh - Ipoh Properties

The Haven Tops Up


The Haven Ipoh - Ipoh Properties

The Haven Ipoh - Ipoh PropertiesA topping-up ceremony to signify the completion of the three 26-storey apartment towers of the Haven Lakeside Residences was performed at the site on Saturday, July 21. The ceremony, reputed to be the first ever in the country, was officiated by Chief Minister Dato’ Seri DiRaja Dr Zambry Abd Kadir, who chose the auspicious day, being the first day of the holy month of Ramadan.

In the spirit of the celebration, a one-day only 3% credit note on the purchase price was offered on any unit still unsold. At the point of reporting, about 75% of the units have already been sold.

In his welcome address, Peter Chan, CEO of The Haven thanked all those present which included bankers, valuers, contractors, suppliers, purchasers, media representatives and staff for their unswerving support and belief. He also thanked Ipoh for providing him the platform to realise his vision of The Haven.

The Haven Ipoh - Ipoh PropertiesThe Haven Ipoh - Ipoh PropertiesAccording to Peter, Ipoh is the best vacation and retirement city in the whole world. The city is no longer underrated, he said. The completion of The Haven is testimony that the city can do well. It also changed the mindset of people on condo-living in Ipoh. And despite the increase in price, The Haven is still the cheapest in Malaysia at less than RM700 per square foot, for resort condominiums of this class.

Zambry, in his speech, congratulated Peter on his vision, commitment and perseverance in putting Ipoh on the world map. The fact that this development has won many local and international awards bodes well for both The Haven and Ipoh. The State Government is appreciative of Peter’s foresight and looks forward to the spin-off effect that the development will bring to the economy of the state. The Haven, said Zambry, is the catalyst that Ipoh needed.

Peter’s promise of a gala night to accompany the auspicious event was fulfilled when he hosted a dinner at the site later in the evening. Guests were feted to a sumptuous spread and were entertained to music and songs by accomplished musicians specially picked for the occasion.


Michelle Yeoh celebrates with friends

From L: May Chan, Datin Jade Ting, Mrs & Mr Edward Tan, Dato’ Seri Michelle Yeoh, Dato’ Jean Todt, Jenny Yap and Dato’ Ting Sing Yiew
Pansy Ho and Gary Ting

A group of friends and family threw a party for Dato’ Seri Michelle Yeoh to celebrate both her 50th birthday and her new title which was conferred by HRH Sultan Azlan Shah recently.

Friends from Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and a big turnout from Ipoh gathered at the ballroom of Kinta Riverfront Hotel for the occasion. It was glitz and glam as over a hundred guests consisting of film directors, artistes from Hong Kong mixed and mingled with Macau’s casino magnet’s daughter Pansy Ho, Jackie Chan’s manager, Willy Chan who happens to be an Ipoh boy, and Jean Todt, Michelle’s fiance of Ferrari fame.

In a touching video message, Dato’ Yeoh Kian Teik, Michelle’s father, sang a song for his daughter from his bed as he was indisposed and unable to attend the party. Datin Janet Yeoh in a touching comic gesture, brought a bowl of soup for Michelle on the dance floor and announced to the crowd, “now for those of you who have accused me of not ever having learnt to cook, here is a bowl of soup for which I went to great lengths to learn to make”.

Centre: Datin Janet Yeoh

Michelle’s niece Vicky received a surprise birthday cake as she cut her cake in tandem with Aunty Michelle. All in all a most prestigious affair and thank you Michelle for bringing the buzz back to Ipoh.

Scholarships for UTAR Students


Three Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) undergraduates received scholarships from Kuala Lumpur Kepong Bhd (KLK) at a ceremony held at the UTAR Perak Campus recently.

Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR), Kuala Lumpur Kepong (KLK) scholarshipThe scholarships were presented by KLK Bhd Regional Director (Peninsular Malaysia), Teh Sar Moh Nee to Oon Xoong Harng, Tang Zhi Wei and Sim Wee Kee, who are pursuing bachelor’s degrees in Agricultural Science. Each received RM30,000 for their three-year programme.

“This is the first time KLK scholarships have been presented to UTAR students,” said UTAR President Ir Professor Dato’ Dr Chuah Hean Teik.  He congratulated the recipients and thanked KLK for giving the scholarships.

“Involvement by the private sector players such as KLK, a business corporation, and UTAR, a private university, is vital to the success of the agriculture sector in Malaysia,” said Professor Chuah, adding that UTAR had spearheaded initiatives related to Agricultural Science and Agronomy. Among them were the establishment of the Tan Sri Philip Kuok Professorial Chair in Agricultural Science and the holding of seminars on agriculture technology.

Teh, in response, said that it was heartening to know that the university is offering the Agricultural Science programme that would bring profound benefits to the country. He congratulated the trio for being the chosen ones.

Tang, who comes from a single-parent household, said that the KLK scholarship would ease his mother’s burden significantly. Recipient, Oon said that the scholarship acts as an encouragement for him to work harder. “It motivates me indirectly to be a more responsible person, forthwith.” Sim, who hails from Sabah, hoped that his pursuit of agricultural science would enable him to contribute positively to the country’s agronomic sector.

Kuala Lumpur Kepong Berhad is a Malaysian multinational corporation which is listed on the main board of Bursa Malaysia Securities Berhad. The corporation is involved in plantations, oleochemicals, property development and retailing.


Omega 3 fatty acids and Macular Degeneration

ipoh echo issue 140, Dr Lee Mun Wai, Lee Eye Centre, Stem Cells in Retinal Disease
Dr Lee Mun Wai

Eye Chat – From a Retinal Surgeon’s Perspective

Previously, I had talked about nutritional supplements for age related macular degeneration (AMD) and further research is now ongoing to look at the benefits of omega 3 fatty acids as well as lutein and zeaxanthin in a large clinical trial known as AREDS 2 (Age Related Eye Diseases Study).

What are Omega 3 fatty acids?

These polyunsaturated fats are essential nutrients as they cannot be synthesized in our body. The omega 3 fatty acids are made up of short chain alpha-linolenic acid and the long chain docosahexanoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentanoic acid (EPA). Examples of foods rich in omega 3 fatty acids are fish, shellfish, flaxseed, walnuts and soy bean.

Importance to the retina?

The brain and eye are highly enriched with omega 3 fatty acids which accumulate in these tissues during early neonatal life. DHA is a major structural lipid in the retina particularly the disc membranes of the photoreceptor outer segments. The photoreceptors are very metabolically active as they are responsible for converting light energy into electrical impulses to be transmitted to the brain for interpretation of images. Consequently, a steady supply of DHA is required for normal retinal function. The complete function of omega 3 fatty acids in the retina is still not fully understood but it is postulated that they have other neuroprotective and anti-angiogenic effects.

Omega 3 and Omega 6 fatty acids imbalance

Humans evolved on a diet with a 1:1 ratio of omega 6:omega 3 but in the industrialized countries nowadays, our diets are more like 12:1 or even 18:1! This hugely disproportionate intake of omega 6 fatty acids has been contributory in the observed increased incidence of heart disease, cancer and other inflammatory disorders. Basically, omega 6 fatty acids exert pro-inflammatory effects whereas omega 3 fatty acids exert anti-inflammatory effects but both are required by our body (in proportionate amounts) for normal functioning.


Omega 3 and AMD

Age Related Macular Degeneration is the leading cause of blindness in developed nations and intense research into the treatment and prevention of this disease has led to observational studies showing evidence supporting the association between omega 3 fatty acids and AMD. A high intake of individual fatty acids such as linoleic acid and a high cholesterol intake could lead to an increased risk of AMD. In contrast, epidemiological studies have shown that an increased intake of omega 3 fatty acids could have a protective role especially in wet AMD.

Historically, low incidences of AMD have been reported in Japan and Iceland where fish consumption is high but in recent times, more and more of this disease have been seen in these countries which could reflect a change in the dietary behavior towards a more “western diet”.

Striking a Balance – Making a Difference

It is therefore, very important to have the correct balance of omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids in our diet. In our current food environment, it is very difficult to get away from the omega 6 overload as almost all our food is cooked with sunflower oil or corn oil or other vegetable oils and all these are laden with omega 6. A lot of food manufacturers of health foods in specialty stores will also coat their products with vegetable oil to improve the texture and taste and unwitting consumers who believe they are taking the healthy option, are in fact tipping the scales towards the omega 6 imbalance.

We are currently victims of modern society and of our lifestyles. Knowing that a lot of these “lifestyle diseases” such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, etc can be prevented with modified behaviour and habits, we should make an effort to change our ways. For some more information on how to “tip the balance in your favour” visit my blog on www.lec.com.my/youcare-eyecare.

For more information about this topic or other eye health subjects, please visit my blog at: www.lec.com.my/youcare-eyecare. Or call Lee Eye Centre : 05-254 0095.

Laptops for Students


Association of Wives of State Assemblymen (BAIDURI), K-Perak IncorporatedThe Association of Wives of State Assemblymen (BAIDURI) and K-Perak Incorporated, a state-linked company, gave away 25 laptops to needy students from four selected schools in Perak. The presentation ceremony, held at the Chief Minister’s residence recently, was graced by the CM’s wife, Datin Seri DiRaja Saripah Zulkipli and K-Perak’s acting Chief Executive Officer, Saidon Puteh.

“The recipients are from low-income families whose take-home pay is less than RM1,500 a month,” said Saidon to reporters. Over 100,000 1Malaysia computers have been given to deserving students, as part of the nationwide drive to provide computers to the poor. K-Perak and BAIDURI are spearheading the drive in Perak.

The presentation ceremony, on the appointed date, was the first of many to come. The four schools are SMK Seri Iskandar; SMK Kampung Boyan, Taiping; SMK Sultan Idris, Kuala Kangsar and SMK Sg Pari, Ipoh. One other beneficiary is Kelas Pendidikan Khas, Kampung Tawas, Ipoh.

“Although the gifts are small in monetary value, the benefits derived are enormous,” said Datin Saripah. “They help in creating an ICT-driven society befitting the modern technological age.”

A beaming Martin Dass from SMK Sg Pari interjected, “I no longer need to borrow my classmate’s computer to do my class assignments. This laptop is my Saviour and will remain dear to me.” Rosli Abdul Rahman, who received on behalf of his son, was moved by the gesture. “My son’s dream of owning a computer is finally realised.”