DENGKIL, Oct 25 — The Sungai Semenyih water treatment plant, which was forced to shut down on Saturday following the detection of contaminants, resumed operations at dawn yesterday.
Authorities, however, are uncertain when supply to the affected consumers will resume.
Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas) corporate communications head Amin Lin Abdullah said it was not immediately known when water supply would return to the tap for 362,000 people in the Klang Valley.
“We cannot give an exact time-frame but we are trying our best to ensure the water supply resumes as soon as possible. We do not want to make promises. Therefore, we seek patience from the people,” he said.
Yesterday, Syabas and the Selangor Water Management Authority identified three sites in Negri Sembilan and Selangor where contaminants were detected.
Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azmin Ali said the source was an illegal dumping site at Km45.9 off the Elite Highway, where solvent was discarded on the hillside, causing it to flow into the nearby river.
“This led to the pollution,” Azmin told reporters during a site inspection at Kampung Sungai Buah.
“The river flows through R&R Nilai on the PLUS north-bound highway and passes through Sungai Buah before making its way to the Sungai Semenyih plant.”
Azmin said as an immediate measure, a bund was being constructed by contractors to separate the contaminated water from further flowing into Sungai Semenyih.
“The contractors started building the bund on Saturday,” he said.
Azmin said the contaminated water was being pumped out to a nearby lake, located about 100m from Sungai Buah, and the process would take several days to complete.
He said the state government and water bodies had no jurisdiction over the perpetrators as the dumping site was found in Negri Sembilan.
“This is not a blame game. We are seeking coordinated efforts from the Negri Sembilan Department of Environment and other relevant bodies to ensure people of Selangor will not suffer a similar fate again,” he said.
Azmin, however, gave an assurance the situation was under control and said he was determined to make the perpetrators pay a heavy price.
“There will be no compromise when we find the culprit. Land and machineries will all be seized,” he said.
The areas affected facing water disruptions are Bangi, Bandar Bukit Mahkota, Kajang, Semenyih and Rinching.
In Kuala Langat, residents of Morib, Banting, Bandar Saujana Putra, Bandar Rimbayu and Telok Panglima Garang are affected.
In Petaling, water disruption is experienced by residents in USJ, Puchong and Serdang.
In Sepang, the affected areas are Putrajaya, Cyberjaya, Bandar Nusa Putra, Putra Heights, Pulau Meranti, Kota Warisan, Bandar Bukit Puchong and Sungai Merab.
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 25 — Police have crippled a major drug distribution syndicate after they seized 102kg of ketamine worth RM7.7 million, believed to be the biggest ketamine bust in the Klang Valley this year.
It was also the first time that a secret society — Gang 36 — had masterminded a major drug syndicate in the Klang Valley.
City police chief Datuk Amar Singh said a 38-year-old mastermind, who owned a scrapyard in Kepong Baru, was among eight suspects, aged between 30 and 54, arrested in a raid on Friday evening.
“We found the suspects hurdled together and consuming drugs in a derelict container inside the compound,” he said.
All of them tested positive for drugs.
The drugs were found in a bag, containing 99kg, and two smaller bags in bushes behind the container.
Police believed the suspects had been active for several months and were investigating if the mastermind had links with networks in the other states.
Two bottles, containing chloroform and alcohol, were also found at the scene.
Amar said the drugs, believed to have been imported from overseas, were meant for local consumption.
He said the drugs, worth RM70,000 per kilo, could supply at least 100,000 consumers.
The eight have been remanded until Thursday.
IPOH, Oct 25 — The smell of urine was enough to turn off newsmen who turned up at the Perak Welfare Home for Disabled Children after pictures of its residents being caged up like animals were shared on social media.
The sheltered space, which is an extension of the main building, has 10 cages where the home’s violent residents are kept from 9pm to 6am daily.
The cages were just big enough for a single-size mattress. Near the cages is the toilet and bathroom.
The home’s chairman, R. Sivalingam, said they had no choice but to keep the violent ones caged up as they would disturb other residents.
“We have cases of residents wanting to remove the eyeballs of other residents. Sometimes they will strip the other inmates or try to bite them,” he said.
“There are also times where they will throw faeces at other residents or eat their own excrement.”
Sivalingam said the home, which began operations in 1968, housed 47 residents aged between 15 and 60 with multiple disabilities.
“Those 10 kept inside the cages are the ones with severe mental retardation,” he said.
He said previously, the home would tie the hands of the 10 with ropes, but following complaints from their parents they were kept in cages instead.
“It looks like a cage but it is actually a special cubicle,” he said, adding that since putting the violent ones in cages in 2006, there had been no complaints from parents until the pictures went viral on Sunday.
Sivalingam said he forgave the person who took the pictures and shared it on social media.
“Some people do not understand why we have to keep them in cages. They can come and query us and we will try to explain it to them,” he said, adding the home also welcome feedback on the best way to handle residents with violent tendencies.
He noted that officers from the Welfare Department visited the home yesterday morning.
“They were fine with our way of handling the residents,” he said.
Kinta District Welfare Department officer Noor Hanizah Zulkafli said those kept in the cages were five men and five women between 20 and 49 years-old.
“The home is registered with the Welfare Department and its operating licence is valid until 2021,” she said.
Of the 47 residents, four are aged between 13 and 17. The home has 12 workers, including five men.
PETALING JAYA, Oct 25 ― Two think tanks argue that Malaysia can half the estimated US$175.7 million (RM735.3 million) economic burden of dengue if it approves a vaccine.
Philip Stevens, director of UK-based public policy research organisation Geneva Network, pointed out that dengue cases have been rising in Malaysia, which shows that fogging and larvicide are not working.
“The vaccine could reduce the economic burden,” Stevens told Malay Mail Online in an interview here.
He added that although he estimated at least 50 per cent savings if the dengue vaccine is used in Malaysia, he could not give exact figures because it’s unknown how much the vaccine would be priced here.
Stevens cited a 2015 study by Universiti Malaya, the Health Ministry and US-based Brandeis University that estimated the cost of dengue in Malaysia at US$175.7 million a year, comprising the cost of illness (medical costs and productivity loss from illness and death) and the cost of prevention activities, mostly fogging.
The study had found that Malaysia spent US$73.5 million, or 0.03 per cent of the country’s GDP, on its national dengue vector control programme in 2010, and cited a previous research which put the annual cost of dengue illness in Malaysia at US$102.2 million in 2009, totalling an estimated US$175.7 million.
Earlier this month, Singapore approved ― for people aged between 12 and 45 ― the use of Dengvaxia, the world’s first licensed dengue vaccine developed by Sanofi Pasteur that provides immunisation against all four virus strains.
It is also approved for use in nine other countries including Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brazil and Mexico, according to Singapore’s Channel News Asia.
Singapore’s Health Sciences Authority said that Dengvaxia had an efficacy rate of 60 per cent against dengue and 84 per cent against severe dengue, according to a review of 24 clinical studies run by French pharmaceutical company Sanofi, including two major trials in Asia and Latin America comprising over 35,000 participants.
However, Malaysia has yet to approve the dengue vaccine, purportedly for safety reasons, despite the rise of cases and deaths from the Aedes mosquito-borne disease.
Stevens cited Health Ministry statistics that showed an increase of dengue cases from 43,346 in 2013 to 120,836 last year, with deaths rising from 92 to 336 in the same period.
A total of 71,590 dengue cases were reported from January 1 to August 20 this year, Health Ministry director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah reportedly said.
Stevens argued that vaccines are the most cost-effective public health intervention and said Putrajaya’s reluctance to approve the dengue vaccine was sending mixed signals to the business community.
“It sends a signal that innovative products are not welcome here,” he said.
Dengue vaccine can be concentrated in Klang Valley
Azrul Mohd Khalib, senior manager of external relations with local libertarian think tank, Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), said Malaysians have the right to make their own decisions to get immunised.
“The government is posing a barrier to people’s right to protect themselves,” Azrul said at the joint interview with Stevens.
He said the dengue vaccine in the Philippines is priced at RM300 per person for all three doses.
Azrul added that Malaysians and private companies could pay to vaccinate themselves and their employees if the government could not afford to subsidise the vaccine.
“Also, the government can concentrate their efforts on concentrated epidemic areas, such as the Klang Valley where 60 per cent of cases are located. No need for a national vaccination programme to start with,” he said.
He also pointed out that Malaysia was involved two years ago in clinical trials for Dengvaxia and that the government had said it wanted Malaysia to be the first country to adopt the vaccine.
“Today, it’s very strange why Malaysia is attacking the results of the trial it participated in,” said Azrul. “We want the Ministry of Health to be more transparent.”
He also warned the government that it would be harder for Malaysia to negotiate a good deal for the vaccine with each year of delay.
“There is a worry that Malaysia is waiting for the perfect vaccine. Experts will tell you it’s very rare for 100 per cent efficacy,” said Azrul. “I don’t think we can afford to wait.”
Health Ministry has safety concerns
Health DG Dr Noor Hisham said the ministry still has concerns about Dengvaxia and is in the process of reviewing the vaccine, but did not give a timeline for the review process.
“It’s not the issue of perfect, but the issue of safety. Safety and perfect [are] not equal,” Dr Noor Hisham told Malay Mail Online.
He cited a September 2016 study by Johns Hopkins University, Imperial College London and the University of Florida that found that while the vaccine could reduce illness and hospitalisation by 20 to 30 per cent in dengue hotspots, they could be significantly increased if the vaccine is used in locations with lower transmission of the virus.
The study noted that Dengvaxia manufacturers have acknowledged that the vaccine doesn’t work well on those who haven’t been previously infected with dengue before vaccination.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended that countries consider introducing the vaccine only in areas with a “high burden of disease.”
“Dengue vaccine introduction should be a part of a comprehensive dengue control strategy, including well-executed and sustained vector control, evidence-based best practices for clinical care for all patients with dengue illness, and strong dengue surveillance,” said WHO in its position paper.
PUTRAJAYA, Oct 24 — There will be no shortage of teachers in Chinese national-type primary schools (SJKCs) until the 2019 schooling session, said Deputy Education Minister Datuk Chong Sin Woon.
He said the shortage of teachers in SJKCs issue which had dragged on for 20 years would be solved through the posting of 1,811 Malaysian Institute of Teacher Education graduates of the Bachelor of Education (PISMP) programme.
He said of the total, 979 PISMP students who would be graduated this December would be posted in SJKCs January next year to fill 788 vacancies.
“In June of next year, another 832 (PISMP) students will be graduating, bringing the total to 1,811, so we expect on Dec 31, 2017, there will be a surplus of 442 graduates who will be posted in January 2018,” he said after a meeting on the 2017 teacher posting here today.
According to Chong, the graduates who had taken the SJKC option were expected to meet the demand for teachers in SJKCs for a period at least until 2019.
He said currently, there were 38,355 teachers in 1,298 SJKCs across the country.
Chong said in order to achieve the target of 90 per cent of primary school teachers in Sabah and Sarawak being locals by 2018, some 111 teachers who hail from Sarawak and served in SJKCs in the peninsula would be posted in primary schools in Sarawak next year pending the availability in SJKCs in the state.
On 374 interim teachers in SJKCs who had been appointed until last Sept 30, Chong said they would be registered to attend training courses for teachers during school holidays (KDC) in November.
“Appointment of interim teachers will be continued until they are offered a permanent post as a teacher after they have finished the KDC courses and passed interviews,” he said.
In the meantime, Chong said the three SJKCs which were operating without students were in the process of being transferred to other locations.
He said SJKC Union in Taiping, Perak would be transferred to a school which was currently under construction in Cyberjaya, SJKC Pei Cheng in Kota Tinggi, Johor to be transferred to Johor Baru and expected to be operational next year, while SJKC Poay Chai in Singkir, Kedah would be moved to a school in Kuantan, Pahang. — Bernama
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 24 — A home for the disabled in Batu Gajah has been accused of caging up its residents ‘like animals’ after mages of the enclosures at the home went viral after a Facebook user shared them online, reported NST Online.
In her posting, the woman reportedly claimed that she saw enclosures with metal swing doors, each housing a child inside when she went to the home with her family to visit her aunt, who was a resident there.
She claimed some enclosures even had two children inside and each enclosure had only one shower and one toilet.
Harian Metro reported that the Batu Gajah Disabled Children’s Welfare Home chairman R. Sivalingam explained the residents were placed in the enclosures for their own safety, as they were severely mentally-challenged and could turn aggressive.
“This isn’t abuse, but a safety measure. The person who had distributed the images may not have obtained the full picture of the situation,” he was quoted as saying.
Sivalingam explained to NST Online that a misunderstanding arose after he had asked the sister of one of the residents for a donation.
“I had asked the sister to sponsor a stall for a food fair to be held on Nov 27 and she was unhappy about it. She suddenly came up with this story about the children being abused,” he reportedly said.
Sivalingam said the home had been in operation since 1968 and operated on public support. He said there had been no problems so far and the mentally-ill residents were only placed in the enclosures during mealtimes so as not to inconvenience the other residents.
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 24 — The Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development (KPWKM) is awaiting a report from its officials sent to a welfare home in Perak whose occupants are reportedly placed in a fenced cubicle like a cage.
Its minister, Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim said she was waiting for the follow-up report about the home which has gone viral on social media.
“I instructed officials to go to that place … I am now waiting for a detailed report from them,” she told Bernama after appearing as a guest in a programme aired by Bernama News Channel today.
She said the welfare home is a registered care centre.
Rohani, however, stressed that children or people with disabilities who are residents of any welfare centre must be treated properly and maintained by taking into account the standard operating procedures (SOP).
“I want to make sure whether the welfare centre concerned is complying with the SOP,” she said.
It was reported that a visitor to the welfare home for children with disabilities in Batu Gajah found the residents placed in a special ‘cage’, and the issue is getting mixed reactions from netizens. — Bernama