Free Malaysia Today: Rights of Christians in Sabah will be protected, says Upko leader

He says religious leaders, especially from the Sidang Injil Borneo church, should not be unduly worried about their rights.
Wilfred Madius Tangau (right) and Sabah SIB president Rev Jerry Dusing (second left) visiting the Borneo Theological Seminary library.
KOTA KINABALU: A Sabah Barisan Nasional (BN) leader has assured Christians in the state that their rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) are protected.

Upko acting president Wilfred Madius Tangau said the government of Najib Razak has a pulse on the grassroots, including the concerns of Sabahans on their rights enshrined in MA63.

“The prime minister has said not once or twice but many times that whatever in MA63 that has been taken away from Sabah previously, this present government will give it back,” said Tangau, who is also science, technology and innovation minister.

Religious leaders, especially from the Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) church, should not be unduly worried about their rights, he said when speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony of the new academic block for the Borneo Theological Seminary (BTS) in Bongkud, Ranau, about 100km from here, on Saturday.
He said the question of freedom in religion should not arise since it is stipulated in the Federal Constitution.

Furthermore, Tangau said Upko had never failed to raise concerns and fight whenever there were issues affecting the Christian community.

The Tuaran MP also pointed out that though the BTS was located in another constituency, he had always made it a point to listen to the SIB church leaders.

He had also been in constant communication with Sabah SIB president Rev Jerry Dusing in discussing ways to assist the SIB congregation in the state.

One of the results of such discussions was the construction of the new academy block for BTS.

Tangau also commended the SIB church for its continuous efforts in helping the government create youths with a strong religious background, which is an important criteria for our future leaders.

Tangau was later accompanied by Dusing to conduct the ground-breaking ceremony at the site before touring the seminary.



From Raw to Treated – Water a Precious Commodity


As a people’s representative, an issue very close to my heart is the accessibility of treated water to domestic consumers especially in the outbacks. World Water Day, designated by the United Nations, is celebrated every 22nd March to promote water related issues – universal access to clean water, and managing freshwater resources sustainably.


According to a 2017 joint report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF, three in 10 people globally, or 2.1 billion, lack access to safe water that is readily available at home. Malaysia has come a long way; but accessibility to treated water is not yet at 100 per cent.


The National Water Services Commission (Suruhanjaya Perkhidmatan Air Negara or SPAN) indicated that today, the national water supply coverage is at 95.7 per cent, the least being Kelantan (64.7), followed by Sabah (89.4) and Sarawak (94.5).


Therefore it is estimated that about 1.4 million people in the country, out of a population of 32.05 million, still do not obtain treated water supply. Around 400,000 residents in Sabah based on a population of 3.8 million are without treated water supply.


As a Member of Parliament overlooking more than 200 villages, I observed that there are many challenges in delivering treated water in the outbacks.  Some common problems are water treatment plants located too far away from consumers, low water catchment areas thus requiring additional booster pumps and undesired climatic conditions such as droughts and floods.


However I have also come across instances where the people are not sufficiently aware of the importance of consuming and using treated water. Some have cited the additional cost of applying for treated water as a hindrance to using it. This is where science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) knowledge can play a role.


STEM can help us understand the process of raw water treatment, its importance and help us appreciate treated water even more. To begin with, there are several sources of raw water such as ground water from wells, surface water from lakes and rivers, ocean water and spring water.


It is interesting to note that raw water originating from different sources would require different water treatment plants or processes. Although the raw water treatment process is lengthy, there are five main steps.


After allowing sand and large debris to settle, the raw water would undergo chemical coagulation to clump very small particles together large enough to be removed later. Next is flocculation, where the coagulated particles further form floc (clumps). The process that follows would let gravity do its job. The flocculated water now contains suspended solids that are denser than water, allowing them to sink to the bottom, a processed known as sedimentation.


The fourth main process is filtration. The water undergoes filtration by passing through gravity filter beds to remove the remaining impurities. Lastly the water is disinfected. Chlorine and other chemical disinfectants are added to the water to ensure that it is safe from microorganisms, especially those that could cause water borne diseases such as cholera, dysentery, typhoid fever and salmonellosis. Fluoride is also added to drinking water at the plant to help strengthen our teeth.


A number of government bodies are involved in the pursuit of safe drinking water. SPAN regulates water supply and sewerage services; the Department of Environment regulates wastewater effluent quality through the Environmental Quality Act 1974 whereas the Ministry of Health regulates food safety, including drinking water through Food Act 1983 and Food Regulations 1985.


MOSTI through the Department of Chemistry Malaysia would analyse water samples, both raw and treated, to ensure that it complies with the National Standard for Drinking Water Quality, which is also in accordance with the WHO Guidelines for Drinking Water Quality. They have to test for almost 120 parameters (substances) in the water samples! Not to mention that the department tests about 150,000 samples annually in its chemistry or microbiology laboratories around the country.


And thankfully, as testified by Puan Zaiton Ariffin who is currently supervising the Environmental Health Division of Environmental Health Division of the department, in most cases the water supply in Malaysia has been of excellent quality, as demonstrated by their analytical reports. We are also blessed that treated water is very affordable in this country.


We might not lack sources for raw water at the moment except during dry spells, but we need to pay more attention to wastewater treatment for two main reasons. As suggested by the Mega Science 1.0 study on Water through the Academy of Sciences Malaysia, the most obvious reason is to conserve and protect our environment, by ensuring that wastewater is treated properly before channelling them back to nature.


The full report is available online for the public’s reference.


Secondly, due to a number of water related challenges such as increasing demand for its supply toward 2050, climate change and pollution, we need to be technologically geared up to overcome them.  The emergence of new pollutants such as the endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) found in pesticides, metals, additives or contaminants in food, pharmaceuticals and personal care products for example, is a growing concern.


According to WHO, EDCs could affect reproductive function in both males and females; increase incidence of breast cancer, cause abnormal growth patterns, neurodevelopmental delays in children and changes in our immune function. Therefore advanced technology is required to filter out contaminants from wastewater such as EDCs.


In the near future might we recycle wastewater for our own consumption? Would this water be safe enough? This is where evidence-based policymaking plays a role.  The Chemistry Department, National Hydraulic Research Institute of Malaysia (NAHRIM) and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) would join forces to investigate these pharmaceuticals found in the Langat River, Selangor.



I have always said that we need to innovate to solve problems. Take Singapore for instance. They are known as a water technology hub, precisely due to the water problems they are facing.


For a more sustainable solution, our neighbour in the south has invested to come up with advanced technologies to purify reclaimed water. Branded as NEWater, they aim to meet 55 per cent of the city-state’s water needs with this treated wastewater in 40 years’ time, in contrast with the current 40 per cent.


In Chinese there is a saying, “yin shui si yuan”, which literally translates to “when you drink water, think about its source”. It means remembering your source of blessings, urging us to be grateful. As a people’s representative and Minister, I hope more would now be aware of the importance of using and consuming treated water and at the same time, do appreciate how water reaches our taps the next time we quench our thirst!


Special thanks goes to the following experts and agencies for their contribution toward this write-up:

Puan Zaiton bt Ariffin, Senior Director of the Research and Quality Assurance Division covering for the Environmental Health Division, Jabatan Kimia Malaysia

Tan Sri Dato’ Ir Syed Muhammad Shahabudin FASc, Chairman of ASM Water Demand Management Task Force

Ir. Dr. Salmah Zakaria FASc, Chairperson of ASM Water Committee

Academician Datuk Fateh Chand FASc, Chairman of ASM Integrated Aquifer System Management

Professor Dr Yang Farina Abdul Aziz FASc, ASM Water Committee Member

Academy of Sciences Malaysia


Can STEM Help Tackle Obesity?

Just a few days into the New Year, I was heading home to Kota Kinabalu from Kuala Lumpur International Airport. Traveling back and forth has long been a routine. If I have time to kill at the airport, I would habitually visit the book store and pick up interesting titles.


This time an extraordinary book cover caught my eye. It featured a determined-looking chap; half of him was barrel-chested, another half was dressed smartly in a business suit. The alluring title spells, “Fit in Five: Better Health in Just 5 Minutes A Day”.

fit in 5.jpg
The book that caught my eyes at a KLIA bookstore.

Can one look like him by just working out five minutes a day? It was a season of setting “New Year resolutions”; I could safely attribute my keenness in the book to my goal of being in the pink of health this year.


On a more serious note, the issue of overweight and obesity has been a top concern for the Cabinet and government. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), overweight is a body mass index (BMI) greater than or equal to 25, whereas obesity is when a BMI is greater or equal to 30.


The National Health and Morbidity Survey 2015 conducted by the Institute of Public Health, Ministry of Health, reported that 30 per cent of the Malaysian population are overweight and another 17.7 per cent are obese. This in total accounts for close to half of us showing unhealthy readings on the weighing scale!


Therefore it is no surprise when Malaysia was announced as the title-holder for “Asia’s Most Obese Country” by British medical journal The Lancet in 2014 and among ASEAN’s fattest, as report by the Economist’s Intelligence Unit in “Tackling Obesity in ASEAN”, a 2017 study conducted in six ASEAN countries including ours.


Even we were to present the causes of obesity, the interventions that have been carried out and their success rates as articulately as we can through diagrams, I can imagine one could get entangled in a web of complex links between them with non-conclusive outcomes, which also by no means is the point of my writing.


But there are some useful pointers from this report that would raise the alarm that Malaysians need to immediately tackle obesity. Besides notoriously being at the helm for among the fattest nations in the region, it is costing precious lives and also negatively impacts our economy. Obesity has a strong correlation with a range of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as a 24 per cent chance of hypertension compared to 10 per cent among the non-obese, a seven per cent chance of diabetes compared to only three per cent among their healthier peers.


Economically, the report furthermore stated that in 2016, Malaysia was estimated to have lost between RM 4.26 billion to RM 8.53 billion to the condition, equivalent to a whopping 10 to 19 per cent of our country’s healthcare spending. Between seven and 12 productive years were lost in females due to obesity, while among males it was between six and 11 years.


Many forms of intervention strategies to tackle obesity have been implemented, driven by the Ministry of Health, including a consideration for a sugar-sweetened beverage tax. As the Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation, like in all other cases of problem-solving, I have been exploring if technology can help tackle this condition.


With that I chaired a roundtable, a series named Innovators Dynamic, which I initiated to solve national problems through innovation. Besides experts from the Ministry of Health and technologists from MIMOS, our national ICT research centre, we also invited Mr Wong Yu Jin, the chap featured on the book I picked up at the airport earlier, author of “Fit in Five”.

Innovators Dynamic Roundtable on “Tackling Obesity”.

At the roundtable, we approached the topic in two ways. Firstly, to what extend can technology tackle obesity effectively? With the ubiquitous usage of smartphones, most of us would turn to fitness apps as the most widely available, convenient and cost-effective mode of technology to help us to lose those extra kilograms.


These apps could keep a record of our diet. Wearables like smart watch and Fitbit help users to keep track of users’ health – for example, how many steps taken every day, sleep quantity and quality and heart rate.


However “a tool is only as good as the person using it.” A 2017 research by Flurry Analytics showed that the usage of health and fitness apps have shot up by 330 per cent in the past three years, yet obesity has always been on the rise globally. Technology is a double-edged sword. Addiction to it at the same time could distract us from real-life, physical activities. Is it not ironic to be on our phones throughout our workout?


Next at the roundtable, we agreed that it is about mindset change and taking baby steps. Yu Jin shared his story of how he became health conscious and now a highly sought after fitness coach. He was rising the corporate ranks until a heart attack struck one of his bosses. It was a wake-up call for him.


He told the roundtable audience that by just doing at least five minutes of a workout routine to kickstart, in a week one would accumulate 35 minutes of exercise and of course we are encouraged to step this up. The idea was to just get moving without giving the excuse of having “no time”.


Exchanging books with Mr Wong Yu Jin, author of “Fit in Five: Better Health in Just 5 Minutes A Day” during Innovators Dynamic on 13th February.


You can watch the speakers’ presentations at the roundtable including Yu Jin’s on MOSTI’s official Facebook page.


As an advocate of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), I see the great opportunity and potential of educating the young and the public about health and fitness through STEM. STEM should not be seen as merely an academic stream for students at schools. Instead it is an effective mean to learn the science about ourselves and the world, and eventually apply our scientific knowledge to enhance the quality of life for public good.


In this case, through STEM education, we learn about the science behind obesity – nutrition, exercising, the biology of our body – to keep ourselves healthy. STEM really does not just stay in school. It is useful for a lifetime.


Finally, I concur with Dr Lim Hin Fui, a Fellow at the Forest Research Institute Malaysia (FRIM), who was one of the speakers at Innovators Dynamic, that being clear of why we want a healthy weight will go a long way. He said that we need to stay away from obesity “for ourselves, our family, our society and our country”.

With Mr Lim Hin Fui.

Have you identified your motivation for losing those extra pounds? Make it your New Year resolution and commit to it, for yourself, your family and Malaysia!



Free Malaysia Today: Sabah water supply project expanded to cover more villages

The project under the rural and regional development ministry will now cost RM16.6 million more but Tuaran MP says more villages will get to enjoy clean water.
Consultants briefing community leaders, Tuaran MP Wilfred Madius Tangau and Kiulu assemblyman Joniston Bangkuai.

Under the original plan, only about 3,000 people in 10 villages along Jalan Tamparuli-Ranau would have benefited from the project, which has an approved budget of RM26.3 million.

The 10 villages include Kapa, Puhus, Koporingan, Minangkob, Togop, Hamad, Tomis Baru, Sinalapak and Kelawat.

The proposed modification to the plan would add another RM16.6 million to the original cost.

But it would see more villages benefitting, including Loputung, Ruhiang, Tiong-Tiong, Kitapol, Gayaratau, Bundu Tuhan Bambangan Baru, Parad and Koliposuan in the Tuaran parliamentary constituency.

A meeting, chaired by Tuaran MP Wilfred Madius Tangau on Tuesday here, set the course for a resubmission of the project to the rural and regional development ministry.

All stakeholders, as well as Kiulu assemblyman Joniston Bangkuai and Tangau, were given a comprehensive briefing on the revised plan, which included the various options available, as presented by the project consultants.

Although the project has already been approved, further study done by the consultants showed there were other options that would be more efficient than the original plan to bring the water supply from the Telibong water treatment plant.

One of the hindering factors was the steep terrain. At least eight booster pumps are needed along the water mains to compensate for the low water pressure.

The new plan resubmitted to the government proposed that the water treatment plant be built in the catchment area near the top of the hill in Kampung Lobong-Lobong.

The water can then be distributed down to the villages concerned more efficiently.

In fact, several other villages at the Kota Belud side also stand to benefit if this proposal is approved.

The project is designed to cater to demand for 30 years, which is calculated to be at 4.1 million litres daily (mld) in 2047, compared with 1.469 mld in 2017.

Tangau said all the village heads in the areas concerned were called to attend the briefing to update them on the latest developments on the project.

“We also want them to relocate any houses which are far from the main water pipe, since the installation of pipes to houses located further from the water mains will incur greater cost,” he said.

At the same time, Tangau, who is the federal science, technology and innovation minister, said the involvement of the village leaders was imperative to ensure the project fully benefited the people.

“We also need to inform the people about the proposed changes to the project.

“This project is significant to ensure they are able to enjoy consistent clean water supply in their houses.

“This has always been an issue close to my heart. We have assisted in carrying out short-term measures.

“This proposal will provide a comprehensive remedy,” Tangau said.





Daily Express: RM50k ‘ang pow’ for 24 Tuaran Chinese bodies

Tuaran: Twenty-four Chinese organisations in the district were all smiles Friday when they received an early “ang pow” from Member of Parliament Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau.

The Upko supremo set the mood for the Chinese New Year celebrations with a contribution of RM50,000 to the organisations as well as eight lion and three dragon heads to selected dance troupes.

Tangau, who is Science, Technology and Innovation Minister, said the contributions signified his appreciation to the contributions of the Chinese community to the economic development of the district and State in general.

He was also glad to note that the Chinese community here had been very supportive of the government programmes.

Speaking at the gathering with Chinese community and association leaders hosted by him at Gayang Restaurant here, he said:

“We must be thankful for the peace and harmony that we have been enjoying now as it has opened up opportunities for us to continue doing business and make a living in spite of the global economic challenges.”

According to him, the country’s economy was heading towards the right direction as the ringgit continued to strengthen against the US dollar.

Tangau also noted the steady increase of tourists from China coming to Sabah, which he attributed to the good relationship between the top leadership of the two countries.

Meanwhile, he thanked the BN component leaders and Chinese Kapitans for accompanying him during his Chinese New Year walkabout in Tenghilan and Tamparuli on Thursday and Tuaran on Friday.

On hand were Tamparuli Community Development Leader Datuk Jahid Jahim, MCA Tuaran Chief Chua Sheng Kian, LDP Tuaran Chief Datuk Alex Lo, PBRS Tamparuli Chief Henry Luaran and Jamlin Ladin representing Umno Tuaran and Chinese community leaders.


Bringing Science Down to Earth

On one dark, overcast night, more than three thousand souls gathered in the heart of Kuala Lumpur under the glow of a full moon. An intimidating blood-coloured moon, like that of the eye of the devil, would illuminate the Earthly terrain beneath it.


Fear not, nobody was transformed into werewolves that night. Far from being a folkloric fiction, these National Planetarium visitors were expecting a lunar phenomenon – the Super Blue Blood Moon.



Photos of the moon were taken by brothers Alif dan Anif Abdul Fatah who live in Putatan, Sabah, through their own telescopes.

Looming again since 152 years ago, three lunar episodes concurred on 31st of January. Firstly, a supermoon, where the Moon is unusually closer to the Earth, making it appear extraordinarily larger and brighter. This occurs three to four times a year. The second event is a blue moon, signifying the second full moon of the month. A blue moon occurs once every 2.7 years.


Third was the fiery, blood-colour appearance of the moon during a total lunar eclipse because of how the Earth atmosphere bends its light.


Unfortunately, the supermoon ensconced itself behind the gray clouds on the night of Thaipusam, depriving astronomy enthusiasts at the National Planetarium of the opportunity to witness the rare lunatic “feast” themselves.


Nevertheless our National Planetarium was prepared for any undesired possibilities. The staff set up five astronomical telescopes at the entrance for public visitors. Several more were brought in by the visitors themselves of which they generously shared with others.


If the weather was not permitting, they would still be able to watch a stimulated eclipse performed by the Sky Stimulation Dome in the Space Theatre. Those who are not physically present would be able to stream it live from the planetarium’s Facebook page. Almost a million netizens enjoyed this facility, including a live stream from the Langkawi National Observatory where the sky is relatively free from light pollution in contrast with the cities, and NASA TV webpage.


An infograogif of the Super Blue Blood Moon phenomenon by ANGKASA Malaysia.

Besides the National Planetarium in Kuala Lumpur and the National Observatory in Langkawi, around the country, other main observation sites for this phenomenon include but not limited to the Teluk Kemang Observatory in Negeri Sembilan, Masjid Putra in Putrajaya, Selangor Observatory in Selangor, Pantai Tok Jembal in Terengganu, Sultan Iskandar Planetarium in Sarawak and Menara Tun Mustapha in Sabah.


It was indeed an astronomical event for residents in Asia, Australia, United States and Russia. The Super Blue Blood Moon is not only a historic lunatic event; it was also historic for our National Planetarium.


More than 3,000 visitors were recorded that evening, filling every nook and cranny of the centre, spilling out from the 200-seat capacity dome. It was one of the planetarium’s most popular events since opening its doors in 1994! The next one is expected to take place in 2037 so most of us probably would not want to miss the 2018.


But an even more interesting observation was how much interest and excitement this phenomenon has generated among Malaysians. Overcrowding at football stadiums, concerts and shopping malls are all too often being heard of. But overcrowding at a planetarium?


Some visitors brought their own telescope to the National Planetarium. Photo credit: Bernama Online.
Visitors could observe the phenomenon from the Sky Stimulation Dome. Photo credit: National Planetarium.

Human beings throughout the ages have been very curious about the abnormal happenings in the heavens. They consider them harbingers of momentous events on earth, as evident in many instances in history and folklore in both the East and West.


But far from having superstitious beliefs, the world now turn to scientific explanations for the natural observations around us. I am reminded of the inquisitive spirit of Galileo Galilei, an Italian astronomer born in the age of Renaissance. He was well known for investigating the laws of motion and improving the telescope of which he eventually used to discover heavenly bodies in our galaxy.


An excerpt from In Galileo’s book “Starry Messenger” published in 1610 demonstrated how his curiosity and an eye for detail led him to conclude that there were three stars revolving around planet Jupiter:


“On the 7th day of January in the present year, 1610, in the first hour of the following night, when I was viewing the constellations of the heavens through a telescope, the planet Jupiter presented itself to my view, and as I had prepared for myself a very excellent instrument, I noticed a circumstance which I had never been able to notice before, namely that three little stars, small but very bright, were near the planet; and although I believed them to belong to a number of the fixed stars, yet they made me somewhat wonder, because they seemed to be arranged exactly in a straight line, parallel to the ecliptic, and to be brighter than the rest of the stars, equal to them in magnitude…”


The National Planetarium has “brought science down to earth” for our understanding. The Super Blue Blood Moon event could be seen as an appetiser for us to know our celestial world further and even other phenomenon. We need to relearn to give ourselves free rein in our intrinsic imagination and curiosity.


On a lighter note, what is the portent of the bloody red moon for 2018? More bloodshed in wars around the world?


How fortunate Malaysia is : An oasis of peace and harmony!

The Star: Tangau: Upko all geared up recapture Penampang seat in GE14

KOTA KINABALU: The United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko) is all geared up to win back the Penampang parliamentary seat, which it lost to the opposition in the 13th General Election.

Acting president Datuk Seri Wilfred Madius Tangau said all party machineries are in place and they were now more confident of taking the seat back from Darell Leiking, who beat their president Tan Sri Bernard Dompok in 2013.

Leiking was with PKR at the time but quit the party in Sept 2016 to join Parti Warisan Sabah.

Upko also aims to recapture the Moyog state seat which was lost to PKR’s Terence Siambun, and MCA’s Kapayan seat, which was lost to DAP’s Dr Edwin Bosi, Tangau said.

“We have some 51,000 registered voters in the Penampang constituency, of which more than half are Barisan Nasional (BN) members,” he said when launching the Penampang election machinery at Kg. Madsiang on Sunday (Feb 4).

“We in Barisan will win if all our members voted for our candidates,” Tangau said, urging all party members to trust and support the party in the coming polls.

Meanwhile, he said Bosi, who had recently quit DAP to join unknown party – Parti Anak Negeri – has voiced his interest to join Upko.

“We welcome him but he cannot give any terms in joining, such as wanting to contest the Kapayan seat again because this seat is for MCA, and we respect MCA,” he said.

Tangau said Bosi would also need to bring all his supporters with him to join Upko if the move materialises.

He said the people of Penampang would enjoy development in various aspects if they chose Barisan candidates because only Barisan can give the allocation needed to change their lives.

Tangau said if they chose Barisan, it also meant that they are already choosing their Chief Minister and Prime Minister.

“If the opposition won, their choice for prime minister would be a 93-year-old man, who was also the premier for 22 years,” Tangau said.

He said this person was the person who caused havoc in Sabah’s political system and the reason behind the “mother of all problems in Sabah” a likely reference to Project IC.

The “Project IC” was supposedly carried out during the premiership of Dr Mahathir, where identity cards were said to have been given to illegal immigrants to allow them to vote.

“Do we want this person to be our prime minister again?” he asked.

Earlier in the event, Tangau also handed over membership applications to new applicants, including former beauty queen Botiza Disimon, who was Leiking’s staunch supporter in the last general election.