Making the Internet a Safer Place For Our Children

Advances in technology and greater Internet access have enabled more Malaysians, including children, to explore the wonders of our virtual world. The Internet has most definitely been an invaluable resource for learning and entertainment but like the physical world around us, it could also pose dangers, especially to the young if precautions are not taken.

 

In Malaysia, an estimated 18.2 percent of our total internet population are children aged between 6 and 14 in 2016. A recent Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) survey also found that 15.5 percent of Internet users are aged 19 years and below and own a mobile phone from as early as 12 years old. Only 35.6 per cent of parents monitor their children’s smartphone.

 

Since the arrival of smartphones, young Malaysians are exposed to the perils of Internet from an increasingly young age. Pornography, violence and extremism are now just a click away. Coupled with the heavy use of social media and chat platforms such as Facebook, WhatsApp, WeChat and Bigo Live also exposes our youth to unscrupulous people who are out to gain their trust with intentions of luring them into dangerous situations.

 

Social media is becoming a perfect hunting ground for cybercriminals and illegal activities. According to Statista, it is estimated that there will be 17.3 million social network users in Malaysia by 2021.

 

In 2014, our police recorded some 60 cases of children being sexually assaulted by predators they met through the Internet. This figure tripled to 184 in 2015, and marked 183 in 2016. Most victims were aged between 13 to 15, typically being “groomed” by the offenders who would build trust with the minor to pave way for sexual abuse.

 

Last year, Malaysia achieved a milestone in protecting children against sexual predators. The parliament passed the Sexual Offences against Children Bill 2017 that deals specifically with child pornographic material. Besides introducing a range of new offences with harsh penalties, the Bill also penalises child grooming, which is commonly initiated through the Internet.

Another menacing threat is cyber-harassment. Statistics from CyberSecurity Malaysia showed that cyber harassment and bullying is now one of the top five cyber threats in Malaysia and third most dangerous, after fraud and intrusion.

 

Last year, CyberSecurity Malaysia received 560 cyber harassment cases compared to 529 cases in 2016.  This year, 80 incidents were reported from January until March. This worrying trend must be stopped before our future generation is destroyed.

 

According to a national level survey conducted by a telecommunications company in 2016, one in four students in Malaysia admitted they had experienced cyber-bullying. A global study published in the ‘2016 Norton Cyber Security Insights Report’ revealed that only 10 per cent of Malaysian parents reported that their child was cyber-bullied.

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A campaign by CyberSecurity Malaysia on sharing information on the Internet responsibly.

However, 40 per cent of them believed their children are more likely to be bullied online. Sadly, these reported cyber-bullying cases are merely but a tip of the iceberg. Cyber-bullying could be a lot more serious as many victims choose to suffer in silence for several reasons such as fear of being ridiculed or ostracised by friends.

 

To protect our young digital citizens from such negative elements of the Internet, we must get the cooperation from every layer of our society — government agencies, education institutions, NGOs to community centres and families. Each stakeholder has a part to play to ensure ethical and responsible use of the Internet. Families must regulate and supervise their children’s Internet access.

 

Guardians should make use of parental control tools in Internet service providers (ISPs) to manage young children’s online access by selecting approved websites, monitoring online duration and incorporate basic security features such as pop-up blockers in home computers. It is vital for parents to remain positively engaged by paying attention and knowing the online environments their children venture to.

 

Parents need to help their children understand the public nature of the Internet and its risks as well as benefits. We also need to remind ourselves that any digital info shared on the Internet, be it emails, photos, or videos can easily be copied, altered and edited, and above all, is almost impossible to erase. Moreover, these digital footprints could also one day be targets of cyber criminals. It is therefore prudent for parents to ensure that personal information sharing in the cyberspace be kept to a minimum.

 

Education institutions today play an instrumental role in creating an entire generation of responsible and knowledgeable ‘Digital Citizens’ through effective implementation of a comprehensive national cyber security education programme. We should therefore inculcate good cyber security habits and best practices at an early age to address the weakest link in cybersecurity, the human factor.

 

Since 2013, MOSTI through CyberSecurity Malaysia and collaboration with the Ministry of Education (MOE), has been organizing National ICT Security Discourse – Malaysia’s national cyber security school discourse.

 

Its main objective is to encourage creative and critical thinking of its participants on the Internet and related technological issues as well as how online risk and challenges can be overcome. The annual discourse provides an opportunity for secondary students all around Malaysia to develop their capacity in conceptualizing, synthesizing and solving problems

 

 

To ensure that Malaysians develop into responsible digital citizens who are ‘cyber-resilient’, we need to groom and inculcate cyber wellness at schools and learning institutions. Cyber Wellness is a state of an Internet user’s positive well-being.

 

This is achieved by acquiring an understanding of online behaviour and awareness of how to protect oneself in cyberspace. With cyber-wellness, students are better equipped with life-long social-emotional competencies and sound values to harness the power of ICT for positive purposes and maintain a positive presence in cyberspace.

 

The future of Malaysia’s digital citizens lies in the policies and actions taken by every stakeholder today from government enforcement to parental control. Most importantly, parents of every child must always monitor the online activities of their children to ensure that they are not influenced by negative elements.

 

In the new economy, we all need to strive to make the Internet a safer place especially for our vulnerable young ones.

 

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Making Great Strides in STEM

Situated along the winding roads of Jalan Ranau, swallowed up by lush greeneries and almost amongst the cloud mist, is the small but mighty SK Koporingan.  A modest school with only 59 students and 13 staff teachers, SK Koporingan has taken great strides in being recognised as one of the “Cluster Schools of Excellence” in Tuaran and the country.

 

It is a merit-based recognition granted to schools that are outstanding in their school administration and students’ performance. Upon entering the school compound, visitors would be greeted by bulletins of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)-related knowledge and programmes carried out by the school.

 

SK Koporingan strives for excellence in STEM. Last year, the school won the Asian Science and Mathematics Olympiad for Primary Schools (ASMOPS) at the national level and represented the country in Thailand. Five out of 10 students who sat for UPSR achieved an “A” in science, with 100 per cent passes. Similarly this year the school already has a series of STEM competitions and programs lined up for the students.

 

Alice Kaling, who has a solid 18 years of experience as a science educator, has just set foot at the school two months ago. On one Monday morning, during one of her science lessons for a Standard Five class, she took out a box and told her pupils that the box contained some gulis. She then shook the box at different speeds, from shaking gently (slow), to vigorously (fast). The students listened attentively to the sounds made by the gulis.

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Year 5 students in Alice’s science class setting up an experiment.
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Students took turns to present their findings.

 

Alice asked her class to form a hypothesis – how would the movement of box affect the sound made by gulis? Would a faster movement produce a larger sound?

 

This warm-up activity may seem ordinary, but Alice has been using the Inquiry-Based Science Education (IBSE) approach. She piqued her audience’s scientific curiosity by encouraging them to use their senses to make observations, form an assumption and allow them to test out the hypothesis. They were also taught to make good notes, an essential skill of a good scientist. One needs to have organised and clear records of their experiments.

 

This activity would also allow Alice to guide her pupils deeper into a science topic, such as, how are loud and soft sounds produced? Therefore IBSE is about allowing students to take charge of their own learning, facilitated by the teacher, and to stimulate curiosity and imagination.

 

Alice Kaling is one of the 40 “Duta Sains” or “Science Ambassadors” from 25 schools in Tuaran, an on-going initiative by MOSTI  through the Academy of Sciences Malaysia beginning 2016. These STEM teachers have undergone 60 hours of training in IBSE.  In November 2016, two French IBSE experts  Professor Yves Quere and Ms Ann Laperdrix were invited to conduct a five-day IBSE training workshop in Kota Kinabalu.

 

The International Science, Technology and Innovation Centre for South-South Cooperation under the auspices of UNESCO (ISTIC) has been a strong proponent of IBSE through fostering international collaborations and conducting workshops. In early 2017, ISTIC initiated a Malaysia-France Primary Science Teacher Exchange Programme, by supporting two primary science teachers to spend a week at the La Cave Elementaire school, Paris. Alice was one of the participants.

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With Duta Sains Tuaran and students.

They observed first-hand how IBSE was practised in various classrooms, how to be resourceful in their preparation for lessons, and understanding the support mechanism for IBSE.

 

Upon her return, Alice has been passionately training and sharing her experience with fellow teachers. And now IBSE has arrived at SK Kopisangan.

 

Yet science enculturation does not stop at schools. At the national level, we have just concluded our very first National Science Week (1st  – 7th  April). Response from the public was overwhelming.

 

In the week-long celebration of science, eight ministries, 115 government agencies, 53 institutes of higher learning, 91 organisations from the private sector, 13 NGOs, 253 schools and 38 media organisations worked hand-in-hand toward its success. Alas I am pleased that we recorded more than 88,000 visitors at the country’s first National Science Week!

 

The activities revolved around piquing visitors’ interest in STEM and to promote critical thinking. For instance, visitors had the opportunity to meet accomplished scientists and know more about their fields; participate in workshops and shows that demonstrated scientific concepts; get their hands on latest technologies like Virtual Reality; learn more about our natural world at the flora exhibition and petting zoo.

 

Perhaps the most memorable event for 1,740 schoolchildren from Year Five to Form Two was their involvement in producing 1,700 mini-insect robots. These robots made it to the Malaysia Book of Records as the Largest Exhibition of Mini-Insect Robots, which was on display at the National Science Centre in Bukit Kiara, Kuala Lumpur.

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Largest Exhibition of Mini-Insect Robots at Pusat Sains Negara. Photo by Mustafa.
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Photo by Mustafa.

 

We have made considerable progress in advocating STEM among students but more needs to be done. In the coming years, I hope to see the setting up of Sabah’s very own Science Centre, the continuity of the fantastic Science Ambassadors programme and the establishment of the National STEM Centre.

 

We place heavy emphasis on STEM and the IBSE approach to assure the supply of inquisitive secondary school graduates for STEM courses in universities. Ultimately, we want to nurture a generation of job creators. Equipped with STEM skills and knowledge, they would be pioneers of new industries that are crucial to drive the national economy.

 

Special thanks to the following who have contributed toward this article:

Dato Lee Yee Cheong, Honorary Chairman, ISTIC.

Alice Kaling, SK Koporingan.

Ernayati and Hani, Pejabat Pendidikan Daerah Tuaran.

Amirul Ikhzan, Academy of Sciences Malaysia.

Pusat Sains Negara.

MOSTI.

 

 

Hunting for Water using Space Tech/ Mencari Air dengan Teknologi Angkasa

Klik sini untuk versi Bahasa Malaysia 18.4.18 Mencari air dengan teknologi angkasa

In the highlands of Kiulu are Kampung Bungalio and Kotunuan Baru, themselves surrounded by undulating hills. The combined population of 500 residents here had been steadily relying on gravity water supply, till the 2015 Ranau earthquake.

 

The quake had affected the raw water source of Mount Kinabalu, causing inadequate water supply in surrounding areas. Water was a scarcity, especially during dry spells. Worse, during heavy downpours, silt pollution would be found in their gravitational water dam system.

 

It was a wake-up call for residents of Kampung Bungalio to look for alternatives for water source intake.

 

The head of village development and security committee, Suffian Kundu, raised this matter to his state assemblyman YB Datuk Joniston Bangkuai, who eventually brought it to the Federal Government through me.

 

Since 2013, MOSTI through Agensi Remote Sensing Malaysia (ARSM) has been collaborating with the Mineral and Geoscience Department Malaysia (JMG) in identifying potential areas of groundwater. Groundwater is the water underneath the Earth’s surface, filling the spaces between grains of soil and rock.

 

According to the National Groundwater Association, groundwater supplies 25 to 40 per cent of all drinking water globally. It is the main source of freshwater and about 60 per cent is used to irrigate crops.

 

The conventional method of identifying potential groundwater areas is costly, time-consuming and labour-intensive. Water managers would have to collect the geographical, geological, hydrogeological and geophysical information of the site and manually interpret the data to determine its potential.

 

However through remote sensing satellite images, the geological structures of a potential groundwater site can be easily assessed. ARSM’s capabilities in remote sensing including Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping technology and Global Position System (GPS) applications have greatly enhanced JMG’s groundwater exploration expertise.

 

Works to drill a tube well in Kampung Bungalio started last September, after its potentiality and suitability to siphon groundwater were verified by ARSM and JMG. By December sparkling aqua pura could be seen gushing out from the newly installed tube well system. The villagers were overjoyed.

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The district health office had collected the groundwater samples and sent them to the Department of Chemistry Malaysia, an agency under MOSTI, to ensure that it complies with the National Standard for Drinking Water Quality. Each water sample is tested for almost 120 parameters (substances)!

 

Residents in Kampung Bungalio are very blessed that the water they draw from the new tube well has been certified to be safe for direct consumption. To optimise usage, the tube well system has been strategically located at the village’s community hall, channelling water to places of worship, the local school and cyber centre.

 

The 113-metre drilling and building cost of the tube well system cost MOSTI RM 200,000. Water supply would be free-of-charge for the beneficiaries, although it would cost a minimal electricity fee.

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At the launch of the Tube Well in Kampung Bungalio and Kampung Kotunuan Baru, Kiulu, Tuaran, on 25th March. Photo by Mustafa.
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Water from the tube is safe for direct consumption. Photo by Mustafa.

 

In Peninsular Malaysia, six of such tube well systems have been developed in four areas in Kedah namely Kuala Pai, Padang Terap, Kampung Berjaya and Gurun, and another two in Pahang – Padang Tengku and Lipis. 5,000 residents in these areas have utilised almost 13 million litres of groundwater from the system. In Sabah, 1,000 residents of Kampung Samparita in Kota Marudu are also enjoying this facility.

 

To ensure that the newly inaugurated water supply to the households of Kampung Bungalio and Kotunuan Baru remains undisrupted, residents took a proactive measure to form a committee overseeing its maintenance.

 

As a People’s Representative with 200 villages under my purview, one of the most common issues raised to me has been the challenges in delivering treated water to households in the outbacks. Some barriers are water treatment plants often located too far away from users, low water catchment areas and precarious climatic patterns such as droughts and floods.

 

Moreover water tank trunks that deliver clean water to affected or problematic areas are just a temporary solution. It is costly and often logistically challenging.

 

Therefore Kampung Bungalio is a success story of problem-solving through science and technology, and innovation inclusiveness. To me, success in science, technology and innovation is measured by the practical economic and social problems it could solve, and if all walks of life and all groups of the community would benefit from it.

 

Remote sensing is an application of space technology, and who could immediately relate a space technology to hunting for water sources?

 

Although the water issue has been resolved for Bungalio, in the long-term, we would have to manage our groundwater resources effectively, as highlighted by the National Integrated Water Resources Management Plan by the Academy of Sciences Malaysia. This precious commodity is not without limit and has to be used sustainably.

 

Consequently in conjunction with the installation of the tube well system, I have proposed for an educational program on water to be carried out at the local school, SK Kampung Bungalio. We need to instil into our young ones an appreciation for Earth’s limited resources.

 

But for now, rest assured that these 115 pupils would be able to enjoy spouts of refreshing and sweet groundwater from the brand new tube well.

 

 

Special thanks goes to Agensi Remote Sensing Malaysia and Suffian Kundu, Pengerusi Jawatankuasa Kemajuan dan Keselamatan Kampung Bungalio for their contribution toward this article.

Scaling up agriculture with technology

After my primary school education I almost had to quit school. It was in the 1970s, most of the people from my village were from low income households with no regular source of income, surviving on subsistence farming.

 

So my parents had hoped that I help out with the family farming activities than continuing on to secondary school education, which at that time unlike today, was not free-of-charge.

 

Coming from a family of farmers and with my own training as a forester, until today I constantly seek innovative ways to scale-up agricultural activities to ensure food security in the country and to produce safe food.

 

The United Nations World Food Programme stated that food security is the “availability of adequate access of sufficient, safe, nutritious food to maintain a healthy and active life”. In the 2017 Economist Intelligence Unit’s (EIU) Global Food Security Index, Malaysia ranked 41 out of 113 countries, faring not too ideally in the category of “sufficiency of supply”.

 

A local research paper has found that some food security challenges we are facing are the lack of land resources, idle land and shortages in the agricultural workforce.

 

Although there could be many factors and approaches to solve them, an immediate means is to use science and technology to not only increase productivity but also value-add. Here are some of the successful food production initiatives that MOSTI has carried out in Sabah.

 

Facilitated by Bioeconomy Corporation, a seafood enterprise has been employing its very own in-house technology to produce quality and sufficient live feed for breeding shrimps. They aimed to eventually breed 11,774 metric tonnes annually in more than 800 ponds throughout Sabah.

 

The Annual Fisheries Statistics reported that in 2012, Malaysia imported 39,571 metric tonnes of shrimp and prawn. By scaling up the feed and thus shrimp production, we are able to reduce our dependency on imports.

 

This enterprise has even collaborated with the Sabah Economic Development and Investment Authority (SEDIA) on a Bioeconomy Community Development Project (BCDP). In Pitas, 350 communities have participated in this shrimp agricultural project, where there would be a buy-back guarantee by the enterprise. Both science and technology coupled with a sustainable business model have benefited grassroots, the economy and at the same time improve food security.

 

In the case for mushroom production, a corporation has established a centre in Masilau, Kundasang, to produce inoculated mushroom spawn. They maintain a hygienic growth environment, suitable temperature and humidity, and ensure that the inoculation is highly sterilised for the quality growth of shiitake mushrooms.

 

Similar to the case of shrimps, they partnered with 45 contract farmers in Kimanis by providing them with mushroom spawns and inoculated substrates. With this they would be breaking their 20-year record of mushroom production volume, from just 33,000 kg a year to 154,000 kg a year.

 

The Department of Agriculture Malaysia described that domestic mushroom production in 2016 was 4,830 metric tonnes. The demand for mushrooms is estimated to rise to 67,000 metric tonnes by 2020, which means we still have a long way in reducing our dependency on mushroom importation.

 

On scaling up food production and maximising land use, as I shared in my previous column the story of a young Universiti Malaysia Sabah graduate Azizul Julirin, who has proactively grown vegetables on his family’s plot of small land using an unconventional method that would solve typical farming problems – aquaponics (the combination of aquaculture and hydroponics).

 

Although his produce is now limited to just red and green coral lettuce, his near future plans would be to expand this technique to strawberries, Japanese cucumber and tomatoes.

 

Our food import bill was RM 45.39 bil in 2015 whereas food export was only RM 27 bil. According to the Minister of Agriculture of Agro-Based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek, poultry and meat farmers were burdened by heavily relying on imports for animal feed, amounting to RM 5 bil a year on average.

 

Although the country produces 70 per cent of the population’s needs, 80 per cent of our milk and meat are still reliant on imports.

 

Science and technology has uplifted even subsistence farmers like my family once used to be since the 1970s through good programs like the BCDP. However we have a long way before achieving self-sufficiency in food. Our future initiatives in the bioeconomy through science and technology could be extended to scale up other agricultural production.

 

 

 

 

 

Connecting the Dots for Innovation

Against the majestic, panoramic view of Mount Kinabalu is the quaint village of Mesilau, about six kilometres from Kundasang town. Kundasang is long known to be the vegetable hub of Sabah. The vegetable stalls in town are always bustling with local and foreign visitors, including those coming from Sarawak and Brunei.

 

Vegetable farms and terraces are a common scene. Unsurprisingly, extensive farming over the decades has depleted soil nutrients, causing the crops to be increasingly dependent on chemical fertilisers and pesticides. There was even a period, between 1993 and 1996, where 15 types of vegetable produce from Sabah were banned for exports to Sarawak and Brunei due to excessive levels of pesticide detected in them.

 

Another more recent tragedy that hit Kundasang was the 2015 Ranau earthquake. Farmers in Mesilau, a key highland vegetable growing area, felt the pinch when roads, bridges and water supply system were damaged.

 

Azizul Julirin’s family were one of those affected. Vegetable farming has been his parents’ livelihood since he was young. Both his sister and he would help their parents to sell vegetables at the market to fund their studies.

 

Although the family have diversified their income by also operating a homestay, a popular demand in Kundasang by tourists, the 28-year-old Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) graduate has always been keen in inheriting his parents’ legacy of vegetable farming. He pursued Aquaculture for his degree to explore sustainable solutions to soil degradation by agricultural practices.

 

Alas, during his industrial training in Japan, he learned about a potential solution – aquaponics. After years of trial and error working on it as his personal project, he finally pursued his passion full time last year, building a 40ft x 60ft greenhouse using various award grants organised by the government he had won.

 

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Visit to Kundasang Aquafarm on 26th March.

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I had the privilege to visit “Kundasang Aquafarm”, the name of Azizul’s greenhouse, last Monday and that was how I came to know about this gritty Sabahan chap. At the greenhouse, he applies aquaponics to grow green and red coral lettuce, making around RM 3,000 monthly from this small area of land!

 

Aquaponics, Azizul explained to me, is a combination of aquaculture and hydroponics. Aquaculture is growing fish and other aquatic animals, whereas hydroponics is growing plants without using soil. In aquaponics, there is a symbiotic relationship where fish waste acts as fertilisers for the plants and concurrently, the plants would filter the fish waste, maintaining the water quality.

 

He also shared that his parents’ land has been exhausted to grow vegetables for the past 30 years and therefore is no longer of optimum quality for further plantation. The unconventional technique of aquaponics would solve most of the problems mentioned earlier about traditional farming.

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Producers of crops do not have to explore new land for farming due to nutrient depletion; pesticides are not applied thus yielding organic crops and this integrated system could accommodate short term water supply disruption.

 

Azizul has come a long way. Not only he is a scientist specialising in aquaponics, to realise his ambition he has also sharpened his business acumen. To fund his project, he conducted thorough research about funding opportunities by the government and to win the grants, he had to prove that his business would be viable.

 

Since 2015, his proposal for an aquaponics vegetable farm has been successful in a number of programmes and awarded grants – the Sabah Biz Challenge, Tunas Usahawan Belia Bumiputera (TUBE) programme, Pitch Borneo 2016 and the Inclusive Innovation Challenge Borneo Zone organised by Yayasan Inovasi Malaysia (YIM).

 

TUBE programme is an entrepreneurship programme by SME Corp, of which the Prime Minister himself allocated RM 10 million since 2014 to aid budding bumiputra entrepreneurs aged 18 to 30. Participants would join a business bootcamp, be linked to business mentors and awarded a grant to kick-start their venture.

 

Following the success of Azizul’s sustainable method of vegetable farming, last month, YIM through MOSTI granted him RM 200,000 to train the community in Kundasang in aquaponics and entrepreneurship.

 

I see his story as a tremendous grassroots innovation success. It is community-led, for the benefit of community and advocates sustainability. This is exactly what YIM aims to achieve. In recent years YIM has also been transformed to reach out to communities more effectively via digital platforms.  In Azizul’s case, he learned about government’s various grants including YIM’s through social media.

 

To help connect the dots for the public in innovation, YIM has pre-launched the country’s first iGrassroots Connect in Wisma Sedia, Kota Kinabalu, on 22nd March. This is a follow-up from the National Innovation Council meeting I chaired last December.

 

I had visited the Centre for Creative Economy and Innovation in Jeju Island earlier last July and was determined to implement this idea back home.

 

Say, you are aware of a local problem that needs to be solved, or you have an innovation you would like to test and eventually sell, would you know where and how to take the first step? iGrassroots Connect would help innovators connect the dots – from verifying the needs and challenges of the local community, connecting them to various government initiatives such as SME Corp and private investors, to commercialising their ideas. With igrassroots Connect, I hope to see more success stories like Azizul’s in Sabah.

 

Another admirable quality of Azizul is his burning enthusiasm to give back to his community. Besides introducing a green solution to sustain the livelihood of his community, he diligently shares his knowledge and skills with them.

 

As a Minister and People’s Representative, I have always advocated for youths to be “job creators” rather than “job seekers”. This has been more possible in the digital era. Therefore I am very heartened by Azizul’s spirit. He demonstrated that opportunities are abundant even in the quiet outbacks of Kundasang and not limited to the cities.

 

 

Special thanks to the following for their contribution to this article:

Azizul Julirin, founder of Kundasang Aquafarm.

Yayasan Inovasi Malaysia (YIM).

Bracing for Nature’s Brutality/ Menghadapi Bencana Alam

Klik sini untuk artikel Bahasa Malaysia: 28.3.18 Menghadapi Bencana Alam

 

It was only several seconds of tremblor and deep rumbles, but the 5.2 magnitude earthquake that struck Ranau on 8th earlier this month sent another wave of chills down our spine.

 

Thankfully, this incident did not claim any lives and no major damage were reported. The National Weather and Geophysical Operations Centre as part of the Malaysian Meteorological Department or MetMalaysia reported that as of 13th of March there were four aftershocks that followed, a common phenomenon as with other earthquakes, ranging from magnitudes 2.8 to 3.2.

 

As the Minister overseeing MetMalaysia, I explained the standard operating procedure (SOP) and responded to questions pertaining to this earthquake during the current parliament sitting that is still on-going.

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Responding to questions pertaining to the 8th March earthquake in parliament.

In the event of the earthquake registering a magnitude of 3.0 or more on the Richter scale, MetMalaysia would issue earthquake warnings to disaster management agencies via text messages within merely eight minutes. MetMalaysia would also disseminate the warnings to the public through news ticker on television screens, fax, press statements through their social media (Facebook: MalaysiaMet, Twitter: @MalaysianMet), website www.met.gov.my and the mobile app myCuaca.

 

Therefore the public is strongly advised to follow MetMalaysia’s news closely for accurate and quick update on local meteorological conditions.

 

In the wake of this most recent earthquake, MetMalaysia has reviewed the SOP of the monitoring and dissemination of earthquake and tsunami warnings.

 

Firstly the disaster action team (Pasukan Bertindak Bencana) would be mobilised when an earthquake of magnitude of 5.0 or more is recorded within a 10km radius from the centre of Mount Kinabalu, in contrast with the previous magnitude 5.5.

 

Next the National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA), Bukit Aman’s Malaysia Control Centre (MCC), Malaysian Civil Defence Force (APM) and the Fire and Rescue Department of Malaysia (BOMBA) would be alerted and mobilised.

 

Besides reviewing the SOP, MOSTI through MetMalaysia has enhanced the monitoring and data collection of seismic activities in the country especially in Sabah. In 2016 a state Weather and Geophysical Operations Centre was set up at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport.

 

This is complemented by the addition of 15 seismic stations throughout the state, costing RM 12.1 million, bringing them to a total of 28 stations in Sabah. There are 78 in Malaysia altogether, a vast extension from only 14 stations in 2006.

 

The upgraded seismic stations network in Sabah can now detect earthquakes as low as magnitude 1.0 on the Richter scale.

 

In Malaysia, Sabah is relatively susceptible to seismic activities as it is located on the south-eastern Eurasian Plate. It is also surrounded by the Philippine Plate and Pacific Plate. Lahad Datu and Ranau’s proneness to quakes can be attributed to several active fault lines.

 

The 6.0 magnitude Ranau earthquake on 5th June 2015 set off alarm bells for Malaysia to create policies and guidelines for structures to resist tremblors to a certain magnitude.

 

Even long before the Ranau tragedy, in 2002 the Public Works Department initiated a study that scrutinised the structural vulnerabilities of 140 buildings throughout the country, including in Kota Kinabalu, Labuan, Tawau, Kudat and Sandakan.

 

Under MOSTI, the Department of Standards Malaysia took measures by initiating a Malaysian Standards (MS) on earthquake in 2007. As I have described before, Malaysia is migrating from British standards to Eurocode 8 that would take earthquake resistance into consideration in structural designs.

 

After in-depth studies by the standards committee, numerous consultations with experts from the industry and academia, and the public, “MS EN 1998-1 Eurocode 8: Design of structures for earthquake resistance – Part 1: General Rules, Seismic Actions and Rules for Building” was published in 2015, followed by the Malaysia National Annex to Eurocode 8 in November last year.

 

We ought to be proud of our enduring effort in formulating this MS, done in the best interest and safety of the public. With this MS, starting 2018, public buildings in Sabah would adopt its guidelines to survive quakes better.

 

However the parameters in this national annex is only applies to the design of new buildings; moving forward we would have to look into other structures such as bridges, retrofitting of existing buildings and their foundations.

 

In conjunction with World Meteorological Day 2018 on Friday 23rd March, I announced that the Malaysian Board of Technologists (MBOT) would soon confer professional recognition to graduates and experts in the field of atmospheric science. As of today 3,458 technologists have come forward to register with the Board. I urge all eligible candidates to do so.

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Sharing a light moment with students from Universiti Putra Malaysia at the World Meteorological Day 2018 celebration on 23rd March at Kota Kinabalu International Airport.
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MetMalaysia also launched a new app named RakanMET that allows public to share meteorological information after verification from the authorities.

This field would be the 22nd technology-based profession endorsed by MBOT, in our bid to acknowledge these technologists and technicians as an important pillar of the country’s human capital in the Fourth Industrial Revolution, in the face of climate change and meteorological uncertainties such as earthquakes.

 

Our preparedness to brace for earthquakes is evident – we would regularly review our SOP, carry out drills, upgrade equipment, develop standards and human capital – to minimise the loss of precious lives and damages to our economy. However each of us needs to take responsibility for our own safety.

 

In addition to public awareness campaigns on earthquake and tsunami, we should educate ourselves on how to prepare for one; for their brutal occurrence is always unforeseen, untimely and of course, most unwelcome.

 

 

Special thanks to the following agencies for their contribution toward this article:

Jabatan Meteorologi Malaysia

Jabatan Standards Malaysia

Academy of Sciences Malaysia

 

Related articles:

Towards Safer Buildings for Sabah / Ke Arah Bangunan yang Lebih Selamat untuk Sabah

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Ucapan: Sambutan Hari Meteorologi Sedunia 2018, Pelancaran RakanMET

 

World Met Day 2018
Jabatan Meteorologi Malaysia dan Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) telah memeterai memorandum persefahaman. Gambar oleh Rayner.

UCAPAN PERASMIAN

OLEH

 YB DATUK SERI PANGLIMA WILFRED MADIUS TANGAU

MENTERI SAINS, TEKNOLOGI DAN INOVASI

 

SEMPENA

 SAMBUTAN HARI METEOROLOGI SEDUNIA 2018

DAN

PELANCARAN APLIKASI RakanMET

 

 23 MAC 2018 (JUMAAT)

2.55 PETANG

PUSAT OPERASI CUACA DAN GEMPA BUMI SABAH,

LAPANGAN TERBANG ANTARABANGSA KOTA KINABALU

Terima kasih Saudara Pengacara Majlis,

 

  1. Prof. Madya. Dr. Ramzah Dambul

Timbalan Ketua Setiausaha (Sains, Teknologi dan Inovasi) MOSTI

  1. Encik Alui BIN bahari

Ketua Pengarah Jabatan Meteorologi Malaysia

  1. Prof. DATIN PADUKA DATO’ Dr. AINI IDERIS

Naib Canselor

Universiti Putra Malaysia

  1. ENCIK AZEMI BIN DAUD

Pengarah Pejabat Meteorologi Sabah

 PEGAWAI-PEGAWAI PENGURUSAN TERTINGGI MOSTI

KETUA-KETUA JABATAN DAN AGENSI

DATO’-DATO’, DATIN-DATIN, TUAN-TUAN DAN PUAN-PUAN yang saya hormati SEKALIAN,

Selamat Petang, Salam Sejahtera, Salam Negaraku Malaysia dan Salam 1MOSTI.

  1. Saya berasa bangga kerana dapat bersama tuan-tuan dan puan-puan pada hari ini. Ini kerana Tanggal 23 Mac setiap tahun seluruh komuniti meteorologi di 191 buah negara anggota di bawah Pertubuhan Meteorologi Sedunia (World Meteorological Organisation – WMO), termasuk Malaysia meraikan sambutan Hari Meteorologi Sedunia dengan tema tertentu. Difahamkan pada tahun ini tema Sambutan Hari Meteorologi Sedunia adalah Siap siaga-cuaca; Pintar-iklim ataupun “Weather-ready; Climate-smart”.

 

  1. Pemilihan tema ini jelas menekankan kepentingan pengetahuan dan kefahaman tentang cuaca dan iklim yang mendalam bagi memastikan masyarakat dan Negara lebih bersiap sedia menghadapi sebarang bencana atau ancaman dari perubahan cuaca dan iklim pada masa kini dan akan datang. Secara globalnya, masyarakat di seluruh pelosok dunia terdedah dengan pelbagai ancaman dari aspek cuaca ekstrem antaranya taufan, ribut tropika, hujan lebat, gelombang panas, cuaca kering dan cuaca sejuk.

 

  1. Kesan perubahan iklim juga kini dapat dirasai di Malaysia. Sejak kebelakangan ini, kejadian cuaca ekstrem lebih kerap berlaku. Terkini ialah hujan lebat di Pulau Pinang pada 4 November 2017 yang telah melumpuhkan bandar tersebut. Para saintis percaya perubahan iklim meningkatkan keamatan, kekerapan kejadian cuaca dan fenomena iklim yang melampau dan berisiko mendedahkan masyarakat dunia dengan ancaman bencana hidro-meteorologi.
World Met Day 2018 (2)
Bersama-sama pelajar-pelajar UPM yang hadir ke majlis. Gambar oleh Rayner.

 

Impak Cuaca Ekstrem

 

  1. Pada 18 Januari 2018, pihak Pertubuhan Meteorologi Sedunia (WMO) telah mengeluarkan Kenyataan Media bahawa terdapat petanda yang jelas mengenai perubahan iklim jangka panjang yang berterusan yang disebabkan oleh peningkatan kepekatan gas rumah hijau. Tahun 2015, 2016 dan 2017 telah disahkan sebagai tiga tahun paling panas dalam rekod. Tahun 2016 masih memegang rekod global paling panas, manakala tahun 2017 adalah tahun paling panas tanpa El Niño. Analisis bersepadu menunjukkan bahawa purata suhu permukaan pada tahun 2017 adalah kira-kira 0.46 °C lebih tinggi berbanding purata suhu dunia jangka panjang, 1981-2010 (14.3 °C).

 

  1. Ini sekali gus akan memberi kesan ke atas aspek keselamatan, kesejahteraan dan kesihatan manusia, menggugat pertumbuhan dan kestabilan ekonomi negara serta menyebabkan berlakunya perubahan ke atas landskap dan alam semula jadi. Dalam menghadapi situasi ini, kita perlu mengorak langkah supaya sentiasa sedia menghadapi sebarang perubahan dan ancaman cuaca secara bijak. Langkah awal yang perlu diambil adalah mendalami lebih lanjut serta memahami cuaca dan iklim yang berlaku di Malaysia dan kawasan serantau.

 

  1. Pada masa ini, WMO dan ahli-ahlinya termasuk Jabatan Meteorologi Malaysia memberi keutamaan dalam misi mereka melindungi kehidupan dan harta benda daripada risiko yang berkaitan dengan cuaca, iklim dan air dengan menyokong agenda global mengenai pembangunan lestari, adaptasi perubahan iklim dan pengurangan risiko bencana. Pembekalan ramalan cuaca semasa, sederhana dan jangka panjang membolehkan pihak berkepentingan membuat keputusan segera dalam menghadapi sebarang risiko bencana.

 

Inisiatif Negara Terhadap Cuaca dan Iklim

 

  1. Di peringkat antarabangsa, di bawah United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Malaysia telah menandatangani Protokol Kyoto dan Perjanjian Paris. Ini menunjukkan Kerajaan adalah komited dalam menangani isu iklim dunia dengan mengurangkan pelepasan gas rumah hijau sebanyak 45% pada tahun 2030. Usaha Kerajaan dalam menghadapi masalah iklim sejagat dapat dilihat melalui beberapa inisiatif antaranya seperti yang digariskan dalam Dasar Biofuel Negara (2006), Dasar Perubahan Iklim Negara (2009) dan Dasar dan Pelan Tindakan Tenaga Boleh Diperbaharui (2010).

 

  1. YAB Perdana Menteri turut menekankan, Malaysia tetap teguh dengan misinya untuk mengurangkan pelepasan gas karbon dioksida dalam tempoh Rancangan Malaysia Kesebelas (2016-2020) yang memberi fokus terhadap usaha pertumbuhan hijau, amalan penggunaan dan pengeluaran secara lestari, pemuliharaan sumber asli dan meningkatkan kesedaran terhadap perubahan iklim yang mampu mengundang bencana alam.

 

9.         Malaysia juga turut melaksanakan Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) 2015-2030 bagi mengurangkan risiko sedia ada dan mencegah perkembangan risiko baharu serta memperkuat daya tahan terhadap bencana.

 

Sistem Amaran Awal

 

  1. Pengoperasian Sistem Amaran Awal merupakan salah satu elemen penting dalam pengurangan risiko bencana. Menyedari hakikat itu, bagi memantapkan kesiapsiagaan negara menghadapi cuaca ekstrem, Kerajaan telah melaksanakan projek untuk memperkasakan sistem amaran awal cuaca Jabatan Meteorologi Malaysia (MMD) yang merangkumi model tinjauan cuaca dan sistem penyediaan maklumat cuaca.

 

  1. Pelaksanaan projek ini telah meningkatkan keupayaan model cuaca beresolusi tinggi dan memanjangkan tempoh tinjauan daripada 3 (tiga) hari kepada 7 (tujuh) hari serta meningkatkan resolusi model cuaca kepada 1 kilometer berbanding 4 kilometer sebelum ini. Sistem penyediaan maklumat cuaca pula ditambah baik bagi mentransformasikan produk-produk cuaca sedia ada kepada produk-produk yang lebih mesra pengguna dan memenuhi kehendak terkini pihak-pihak berkepentingan. Projek ini membolehkan maklumat dan amaran cuaca dikeluarkan lebih awal, cepat dan tepat.

 

  1. Peranan MOSTI melalui MMD amat penting dalam menyediakan maklumat cuaca kritikal kepada pengurusan bencana negara. Lebih penting lagi ialah penyebaran awal amaran cuaca ini dilaksanakan menerusi rangkaian pemantauan cuaca di MMD yang beroperasi 24 jam sehari, 7 hari seminggu merangkumi 43 Pejabat Meteorologi Utama, 490 Stesen Cuaca Auksiliari, lapan Stesen Pencerapan Udara Atas, 12 Stesen Radar Meteorologi dan satu Stesen Satelit Meteorologi serta model cuaca.

 

  1. Sebagai Kementerian yang menerajui agenda STI, MOSTI amat yakin bahawa kita mampu untuk mewujudkan sistem amaran awal yang dapat memberi maklumat dan pengetahuan yang sesuai untuk membuat keputusan yang tepat dan mengambil tindakan yang berkesan setanding dengan negara-negara maju. Namun, sistem amaran awal ini boleh gagal sekiranya amaran yang dikeluarkan tidak difahami golongan sasaran atau masyarakat.

 

  1. MOSTI melalui agensi/jabatan di bawahnya seperti Jabatan Meteorologi Malaysia sentiasa menganjurkan pelbagai program kesedaran awam kepada pelbagai peringkat masyarakat dan komuniti. Usaha-usaha ini selaras dengan inisiatif Kerajaan iaitu Transformasi Nasional 2050 (TN50) – satu usaha untuk membentuk masa depan Malaysia dengan memberikan perhatian terhadap kepentingan keperluan rakyat.

 

Pelancaran Aplikasi RakanMET

 

  1. Selaras dengan era digital, saya merasa amat bangga kerana MOSTI melalui Jabatan Meteorologi Malaysia turut mengambil inisiatif memperkasakan sistem penyampaian maklumat dengan membangunkan aplikasi RakanMET seperti mana inisiatif Rakan Cop, PDRM.

 

  1. Aplikasi RakanMET ini merupakan aplikasi kedua yang dibangun selepas aplikasi myCuaca yang telah dilancarkan pada tahun 2015. Aplikasi RakanMET ini menyediakan saluran perkongsian maklumat mengenai keadaan cuaca di Malaysia. Melalui aplikasi ini orang ramai boleh melapor kejadian dan fenomena cuaca di kawasan masing-masing. Ianya juga berperanan sebagai medium komunikasi dua hala antara orang awam dan jabatan bagi mendapatkan maklumat yang sahih dan tepat.

 

Memorandum Persefahaman

 

  1. Saya juga berasa amat bangga kerana pada hari ini, Jabatan Meteorologi Malaysia dan Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) akan memeterai memorandum persefahaman bagi mewujud dan meningkatkan hubungan kerjasama dalam bidang meteorologi dan iklim. Skop kerjasama yang dijalinkan merangkumi program penyelidikan, pembangunan, latihan, penerbitan serta pertukaran data dan maklumat berkaitan meteorologi, iklim dan geofizik.

 

  1. UPM merupakan sebuah Universiti yang sentiasa berusaha untuk meningkat dan memperkukuhkan kemampuan penyelidikannya manakala MMD sebuah Jabatan yang beroperasi bagi memantau dan mengeluarkan maklumat mengenai keadaan cuaca, iklim dan geofizik. Selaras dengan pendekatan Strategi Lautan Biru Kebangsaan (NBOS), saya yakin di bawah memorandum persefahaman ini, pihak MMD dan UPM dapat saling melengkapi dalam memperkukuh, menggalak dan membangunkan bidang pendidikan, penyelidikan dan khidmat masyarakat yang berkaitan dengan meteorologi, iklim dan geofizik. Saya ucapkan syabas dan tahniah kepada MMD dan UPM atas usaha memeterai memorandum persefahaman tersebut.

 

PENUTUP

 

  1. Sebelum mengakhiri ucapan saya pada hari ini, saya ingin sekali lagi mengucapkan setinggi-tinggi penghargaan dan terima kasih kepada semua pihak atas kerjasama dan usaha gigih untuk menjayakan majlis sambutan ini iaitu Jabatan Meteorologi Malaysia dan semua pihak yang turut terlibat.

 

  1. Akhir kata, selamat membudayakan Sains, Teknologi dan Inovasi dan semoga kita bertemu dalam program-program yang lain pada masa hadapan. Dengan ini, saya dengan sukacitanya merasmikan SAMBUTAN HARI METEOROLOGI SEDUNIA 2018 DAN PELANCARAN APLIKASI RakanMET.

 

Sekian, terima kasih.