How climate change reduced the flow of the Colorado River

How climate change reduced the flow of the Colorado River

Washington (AFP) – The massive Colorado River, which provides water for seven US states, has seen its flow reduced by 20 percent over the course of a century — and more than half of that loss is due to climate change, according to new research published Thursday.Two scientists at the US Geological Survey developed a mathematical model of the water movements — snowfall, rainfall, run-off, evaporation — in the upper Colorado River basin for the period from 1913 to 2017.To do so, they used historical temperature and precipitation data, along with satellite readings of radiation, in order to un… (more…)

What Thanos Did In ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ is Justified

What Thanos Did In ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ is Justified

Written by Banu Chandran

What Thanos did in Avengers: Infinity War left everyone in shock. In the year 2018, Marvel produced the film ‘Avengers: Infinity War’ in which the space titan, Thanos, had collected all six stones of power known as the infinity stones that could change the world. With them, he erased half of all living things with a single snap in an attempt to save resources and curb overpopulation. Were his actions justified?

This was hotly debated in the final round of The Battle of Wits debate tournament on August 10th, hosted by Malaysiakini in collaboration with Brickfields Asia College. Two teams, Master DeBaters from SMK Sultan Abdul Samad and Rojak Pasembor from SMK Subang Utama, battled the motion out using wit and humor to support their stances. The debate centred around whether Thanos’ actions counted as genocide. The propositioning team, Master DeBaters, had set a solid mechanism and definition on their side of the motion, explaining that Thanos had not committed mass murder as the ‘blip’ simply ‘dusted’ them out of existence, meaning that the people had felt no pain and thus were not murdered. This was strongly rebutted by the opposition team, Rojak Pasembor, who defined what Thanos did as mass murder while taking an emotional stance that his actions resulted in effects that were similar to genocide, creating a widespread wave of grief and loss for many people around the world. 

The Master DeBaters had a passionate first speaker, Munirah Abdullah, an enthusiastic and profound second speaker, Haliem Shah bin Haja Mohideen, and a quick-witted third speaker, Devendran a/l Sivanandan, who was shockingly added into the debate in the first minute of the match by use of the ‘Power Card’: Switch one speaker with the reserve member, leaving Mior Arif bin Mior Mohd Farid out of the debate even though he had prepared together with the team.

However, with just as strong speakers, Rojak Pasembor managed to grab the win for the final round making them the champions of the day. The highly articulate first speaker, Thusar, had laid out their stance for the debate. Supported well by the second speaker, Nur Adib Zafry bin Nur Aziz, who eloquently using wit and humour, rebutted and brought forth points to reaffirm their stance. Last but not least, the third speaker, Benjamin Fong Ruan Wei, brought the debate to an explosive end with fire rebuttals for the opposing team’s points.

The Battle of Wits provided a debate platform like no other to allow these students to shine. Focusing more on wit and humour, the debates remained light-hearted and witty throughout the day. With the additional use of Power Cards that gave an Advantage to a team, a Disadvantage to the opposing team, or a Challenge Card, kept the debate fun and interesting as teams strategically used the cards to their advantage to help them with the debate. 

The day started with the students arguing whether or not autonomous artificial intelligence deserve human rights and whether the government should disclose all the information they had on the extra-terrestrial to the public. The round-robin format of debating was brought to a close with the motion ‘Malaysia would be better off if we weren’t colonized by the British’ – a motion that indeed brought out the best in the debaters.

The tournament was held at the Brickfields Asia College (BAC) campus in Petaling Jaya and lasted from morning to evening. BAC also generously provided goodie bags for the students that consisted of sponsored t-shirts and pens. We would like to thank BAC and our other sponsors, MyNews, Zero Waste, MAEKO, the BAC Debate Club, easyuni, Hybrid Infinity Tech, Trio and myburgerlab for making the day so memorable. With special thanks to Maria Chin Abdullah, who generously sponsored the prize money for the tournament, and to PAWS for making the day a roaring success. 

Malaysiakini looks forward to next years debate tournament, where the fun will be replicated in a hopefully nationwide debate tournament open for all to join.

No More Drama

No More Drama

Written by Ayesha Maria Faiz

Have you ever found yourself constantly unhappy and stressed? Or perhaps you were not given a means to explain yourself? Are you getting into arguments with others? Or consistently surrounded by unnecessary gossip? Have you been involved in conflict – no matter how big or small – among friends or even in the workplace? Many a time, drama happens due to a lack of self-awareness, a lack of curiosity and the assumptions one holds onto. Stephen Covey once said “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply”. However, how does one listen with the intent to understand? I had the privilege of sitting down with Jacqueline Ann Surin, who told me how to do just that – and it’s not as hard as it seems.

Jacqueline Ann Surin, a Specialist Facilitator and Coach for Leadership Development, told me about #DramaFree Tools and as the name suggests, they are tools that help keep you drama free. Jacqueline describes them as two things: “a minimum set of simple tools” to reduce conflict and stress, as well as “a state of being”. These tools are a means by which people can move “from a state of conflict to a state of collaboration” or from a state of contempt to one of curiosity. These tools stem from a methodology called Clean Language and Systemic Modelling.

Clean Language, which is Jacqueline’s area of expertise, is a set of open-ended, content-free questions. These neutral questions provide people a way to listen better and suspend any assumptions, values or judgments they may have already held when posing the question to someone. Systemic Modelling is being able to have a systems-thinking approach rather than a band-aid approach, which many organisations tend to fall into. It is not only looking at “how each part of an organisation or each person in a group interacts with each other; you’re also looking at the different parts within your own system that interact with each other”.

A workshop will be held in Kuala Lumpur on July the 20th, where participants will be able to learn directly from the developer herself, Caitlin Walker along Marian Way and Jacqueline. The same workshop has already been run in Europe and America, and Russia, where it provided 500 people with these effective tools. In the workshop, you will be able to learn these #DramaFree Tools and how to implement them in your relationships, workplace and life in general. The workshop will introduce various tools, each comprising of a model with either an exercise or a set of questions, and different ways of thinking about drama. These tools help us “uncover hidden architecture” behind our behaviour, and allow us to understand how that might affect communication and responses.

During the workshop, Caitlin, Marian and Jacqueline will go through several exercises, one of which might be the values exercise. This exercise focuses on being conscious of exactly what values you deem important or necessary in an organisation. It brings up the fact that drama only occurs “because a value has been violated”, and as Jacqueline pointed out to me, sometimes a party is not even aware that they held a particular value that was so important to them, and that they were in drama because it had been violated. And if that person was not aware, how could the other person even know what value they had violated?

But how exactly does one know if the tools are working? She told me that participants will be given a manual designed as a workbook in the upcoming workshop. It essentially acts as a personal learning journal and allows you to carry out self-reflection, which will enable you to track your progress. Another way is to take notice of the differences in people’s behaviour. Jacqueline points out that the evidence will lie in figuring out “what one is doing differently and what difference does it make”.

It is important to know that while the upcoming workshop in KL is called ‘#DramaFree Tools for Managers’, it is not exclusively for managers. “We are using the word ‘manager’ as anyone who manages relationships”, says Jacqueline. Essentially, this means anyone is a manager. If you are one half of a business partner who has to manage your other half as well as your business, a home manager who has to manage schedules, your children, and spouse, or a teacher who has to manage several classrooms of students – you are a manager. Of course, the focus at the workshop will be on companies and businesses, but these #DramaFree Tools can be applied in any sort of relationship.

If you attend the workshop, Jacqueline says it is best to come with two other colleagues. That way, you will be able to learn how to “work together in a way that is calm and collaborative and trusting”. She also indicates that in order to bring a culture change in the workplace, there must be “enough people, as well as enough people in leadership” positions who are using and implementing these tools. This will allow co-creations of environments where people are working at their utmost best.

Claire Edmunds, founder and CEO of award-winning company Clarify, had her company undergo the #DramaFree Tools workshop and had this to say:

“We’re much clearer about what we want to see and hear in our business. It’s helped people understand what our values are, how we operate. All the things that really make a business come to life, it’s given us a model that allows us to do that.”

Manager or not, Jacqueline encourages you to come along to the ‘#DramaFree Tools for Managers’ workshop. In learning these tools, we acquire the behaviour Covey found a rarity: listening “with the intent to understand”.

Thinking of attending the workshop? Find out more on it here:

Photos from workshop in Russia credited to Svetlana Shapovaliants

What’s Next 2018:  The business impact of disruptive technology

What’s Next 2018: The business impact of disruptive technology

What’s Next, Malaysia’s premiere digital meets brick-and-mortar conference, where Tan Sri Tony Fernandez famously declared in 2015 that AirAsia was in fact an Internet company, is back for the fourth year on August 30, 2018 at Le Meridien Kuala Lumpur.

In an exciting addition to the lineup of brick and mortar leaders talking about how they are dealing with digital disruption, EY is bringing its world class Digital Roadshow experience to Malaysia and only at What’s Next 2018.

EY experts from around Asia will be showcasing various digital solutions that are today helping brick and mortar businesses take advantage of digital instead of being disrupted by digital.

At the same time come listen to Henry Tan, chief corporate and consumer office of Astro holdings Malaysia Berhad share key lesson has learnt about facing disruption and come listen to the global condom king, MK Goh of Karex Berhad, the world’s largest condom manufacture talk about how his brick and mortar business is facing digital disruption.

Not forgetting Khailee Ng managing partner of 500 Startups who will talk about the coming disruption and opportunities from Deep Tech.

Henry Tan, Group Chief Content & Consumer Officer, Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd

MK Goh, Chief Managing Director of Karex Bhd

Khailee Ng, Managing Partner, 500 Startups

And many more exciting speakers. All only at What’s Next 2018.

Splendid learning experience with a touch of Russian Culture

Splendid learning experience with a touch of Russian Culture

Asia Pacific University’s International Relations Students Conduct Diplomatic Mission Visit to the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Malaysia

Despite their differences in nationalities and cultural backgrounds, 30 students from 15 nations under the BA (Hons) International Relations programme at Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU) came together for an out-of-classroom learning trip to the Russian Centre for Science and Culture, under the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Malaysia.

The multicultural visiting group comprised students from Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Kashmir, Malawi, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Pakistan, Russia, Seychelles, Somali Land, Sri Lanka, United Arab Emirates and Zambia.

Alexander V. Antipov, First Secretary conducted a guest lecture for APU’s International Relations students on Russian foreign policies and the nation’s efforts in promoting Sustainable Development Goals.

Alexander V. Antipov, First Secretary and Maxim A. Salnikov, Second Secretary, Press-Attaché at the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Malaysia conducted a 45-minute guest lecture that exposed the students towards Russia’s foreign policy on preserving national security, as well as the roles of Russia in Sustainable Development Goals in promoting world peace and a secure global environment.

Questions related to Russia’s interest in foreign policies as well as issues in world politics were among the topics that were actively discussed amongst the students together with the officials from the Russian Embassy.

Rizwan Rafi Togoo, Final Year Student of the BA (Hons) International Relations programme, who appreciated the learning experience, expressed,

“The diplomats at the Embassy were highly interactive; they were helpful in answering to our queries, and it was a great experience as they encouraged us to try on the Russian attire during our visit too – this is a memorable moment that I may not have experienced if I did not participate in this visit!”

Apart from having the opportunity to interact with the Russian diplomats directly, Togoo was also one of the 30 students who had the first-hand experience trying on traditional Russian folk costumes and reading about ornate religious and cultural symbols during the visit.

During their visit, the students from different cultural backgrounds had the opportunity to try on traditional Russian folk costumes as well. (second from left: Alexander V. Antipov, First Secretary, second from right: and Maxim A. Salnikov, Second Secretary, Press-Attaché)

This visit was one of the 5 to 6 visits scheduled by APU’s School of Marketing and Media to encourage the development of International Relations students’ knowledge towards cultural environments and world affairs in the era of globalization.

“At all the visits organised for our students, we always stress on the importance of global cultural awareness – through interaction with diplomats and their peers with different ideologies, we are pleased to see their horizon of thinking being broadened and this gives them an edge as future international relations advocates,”

said Dr. Devinder Kaur, Head of School of Marketing and Media, APU.

Apart from traditional costumes, students who visited the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Malaysia also had the opportunities to admire Russian traditional art pieces, souvenirs and ornaments

What wouldn’t you do for your children’s education?

What wouldn’t you do for your children’s education?

Asian parents place much emphasis on academic excellence and are willing to make sacrifices to give their children the best education they can afford; sometimes even when they can’t afford to.

Given the less-than-stellar quality of Malaysian public education, the sacrifices are real.

Many observers look back to the good old days when the Malaysian education was regarded as second to none in Asia. Oh how far we have fallen!

Alas, the oft-quoted maxim “Those who can’t do, teach” now rings too close for comfort.
Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) highlighted weaknesses in teacher competencies as a serious impediment to overall education quality in Malaysia, attributing that partly to the low quality of applicants to teacher education institutes. In 2010, a mind-boggling 93% of Bachelor of Education applicants at these institutes scored below the minimum academic requirement (Ministry of Education Malaysia, 2012)! Would you wager things have significantly improved since?

Tuition classes to supplement the insufficient learning from public schools are common; a necessity even, some might argue. Hours robbed from one’s childhood can never be recovered.

The OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) global rankings on student performance in mathematics, reading, and science highlights the dismal proficiency of Malaysian students on these subjects. PISA is an exam administered every three years to measure 15-year-olds in 72 countries.

While Singapore consistently topped all three, Malaysia’s scores stayed below average. In 2015, Malaysia scored 446 in mathematics (vs. average: 490) , 431 in reading (vs. 493) and 443 in science (vs. 493), albeit an improvement from 2012. Granted Singapore has long left Malaysia far behind in many socio-economic aspects, with education being just one. But losing even to Vietnam?!

Much has been said about students entering universities lacking mastery in basic mathematic skills, reasoning and proof, and not being able to make connections in other disciplines. And of unemployable university graduates, some of whom are incapable of stringing a single coherent sentence in English.

Alas, Malaysia’s education system seems to lack long-term planning. Education policies often get changed every few years before they could deliver results – it feels like we’re in a perpetual state of experimentation in respect to curriculum, teaching methodology, evaluation and even medium of instruction.

Perhaps the most disruptive and controversial in recent years was the flip-flop on using English as the medium to teach science and mathematics in schools – the policy was introduced in January 2003, and reversed in July 2009.

No one likes their children to be experimented upon. The perceived lack of certainty in education policies pushed many parents to consider private schools.

Amid the dwindling confidence in our school system, international schools are thriving.

There used to be a 40% cap on Malaysians permitted to enrol in international schools. With the cap removed in 2012, some international schools are now predominantly filled with Malaysian students.
According to a 2017 report by the International School Consultancy Research (ISC), Malaysia has 170 international schools with a total of 71,589 students. Education Destination Malaysia’s 2017/18 guidebook highlights 140 international schools.

The cost to put a child through private school ranges from RM12,000 to over RM120,000 per year, excluding other fees such as boarding. Then there’s the 5-10% annual increase.

Education Destination Malaysia estimates RM30,000-50,000 as roughly what it would cost to put your child through a year of primary education in a mid-cost international school. According to its data, Sri Kuala Lumpur (probably the most sought-after international school) has relatively affordable annual tuition fees of RM15,300-RM29,600 (excluding other fees). But you’ll have to jostle other parents for a spot – the waiting list is crazy long!

Getting a spot in Malaysia’s public universities is also highly competitive. The racial quota in local universities makes it harder for minorities to be accepted for highly sought-after courses. Under the government’s affirmative action programme, 55% of university places went to Bumiputeras. Upon the abolishment of the race quota, matriculation was introduced as an alternative to Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM). But it has been highly criticised for being markedly easier than STPM, and serves as an easier path for Bumiputeras, for whom 90% of the places are reserved.

Those who can’t get a spot in local universities for a course they want may have no choice but study in private universities. estimates that it cost an average of RM7,000 to pursue a local public university course while local private universities charge 3-5 times that or more, depending on the course. Moreover, the cost of studying in a private university keeps increasing much faster than inflation.