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JOHOR BARU – The 11-year-old boy whose legs were amputated following alleged physical abuse by an assistant warden at a religious school in Kota Tinggi has passed away.

His father, Mohd Gaddafi Mat Karim, 43, confirmed that his son passed away at around 2.05pm at Hospital Sultan Ismail on Wednesday while they were reciting prayers for his recovery.

Mohamad Thaqif Amin Mohd Gaddafi was due to have his right arm amputated on Wednesday morning.

However, the procedure had to be cancelled as the boy’s heart rate and condition were not stable.

His aunt, Dzuraidah Ahmad, 38, said the decision to amputate her nephew’s right arm came after there was no improvement to the condition of the limb.

It was reported that Mohamad Thaqif’s right arm and fingers had turned black due to damaged blood cells and tissue despite showing signs of improvement on Sunday.

Mohamad Thaqif earlier had both his legs amputated due to an infection following the alleged abuse by the school’s assistant warden.

The suspect, 29, an ex-convict, reportedly whipped the boy and several other students with a water hose to punish them.

VANCOUVER, Canada – Serena Williams had no intention of sharing her pregnancy with the world last week but spilled the beans when she accidentally uploaded the “20 weeks” photo of herself on Snapchat, the world No. 1 said on Tuesday.

Williams, who was wearing a yellow swimsuit in the ‘selfie’, quickly deleted the post but later confirmed her pregnancy via her publicist after frenzied speculation.

She told the TED conference in Vancouver that the photo was intended only for her personal records.

“I have this thing where I’ve been checking my status and taking pictures every week to see how far along I’m getting,” the 35-year-old said in an on-stage chat with journalist Gayle King.

“I was just saving them (for myself)” said Williams. “I’ve been so good about it, but this was the one time it slipped.”

Williams said she had found out she was pregnant only two days before the Australian Open in January, which she went on to win for her 23rd grand slam title.

“It wasn’t very easy. You hear all these stories about people when they’re pregnant – they get sick, they get really tired, really stressed out,” she said.

“I had to really take all that energy and put it in a paper bag, so to say, and throw it away.

“Pregnant or not, no one knew and I was supposed to win that tournament. Every time I play, I’m expected to win. If I don’t win, it’s actually much bigger news.”

Williams, who is taking maternity leave for the rest of the 2017 season, said there was no change to her plan to return to the tour as a mother next year.

“I definitely plan on coming back. I’m not done yet,” said Williams, who credited her 36-year-old sister Venus, a seven-times grand slam champion, for inspiration.

“If she’s still playing, I know I can play.

“This (motherhood) is just a new part of my life. My baby’s going to be in the stands and hopefully cheering for me.” — Reuters

JOHOR BAHRU – Surgery to amputate the right arm of the 11-year-old student from a religious school here that was scheduled to take place this morning due to bacterial infection has been postponed.

The boy’s aunt, Dzuraidah Ahmad, 38, when contacted today said the surgery on Mohamad Thaqif Amin Mohd Ghaddafi was postponed because the condition of his heart was not stable.

“Mohamad Thaqif Amin is scheduled to undergo surgery to amputate his (right) arm from the fingers to below the elbow at 8am today.

“However the surgery has been postponed under his heart stabilises,” she said.

Mohamad Thaqif Amin was admitted to Sultan Ismail Hospital HSI on Wednesday for injuries on his legs after he was allegedly canned by the assistant warden of the religious school.

On Saturday, Thaqif slipped into a coma after both his legs were amputated by HSI doctors the day before in a desperate bid to prevent infection to tissues and blood cells in his body.

Doctors later found that his right hand had turned black due to a bacterial infection and blood clots had started to form on his left shoulder and they informed his family that his arm had also turned necrotic.

Yesterday Johor Health, Environment, Education and Information Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said blood and health screening tests on Mohamad Thaqif Amin to find out the actual causes that led to both of his legs to be amputated would be known in one or two weeks’ time.

–BERNAMA

JAKARTA – Two foreign tankers, which had escaped from detention by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) two days ago, were detained in Indonesian waters by the Indonesian National Army Navy (TNI AL) yesterday.

Online media quoted Indonesian Navy Western Region Fleet Commander rear admiral Aan Kurnia as saying, that they had arrested two ships sought by the Malaysian authorities in the waters of Tanjung Uma, Batam, Riau Islands in Sumatra.

Both ships with the crew reportedly escaped from detention two days ago after the MMEA detained them south of Tanjung Penyusop, Teluk Rumania, Kota Tinggi in Johor for entering Malaysian waters without permission.

Aan Kurnia said, the ships known as MT Brama Ocean and MT Orca, displaying the Malabo flag (the capital of Equatorial Guinea, Central Africa) and the Fijian flag respectively on their ships, were detained in a special operation after receiving a report from MMEA.

“We received a report from MMEA on the possibility of the ships entering Indonesian waters and our TNI AL special force acted fast carrying out patrols in several areas and found two ships in suspicious circumstances before detaining the ships and six crew,” he said.

Initial investigations showed that the vessels fitted the description of the ships that had escaped from MMEA and that they had tried to evade the authorities by changing the colour of the ships, he said.

Aan Kurnia said the two ships with the six crew members were being held at the jetty in Yos Sudarso, Main Naval Base IV in Tanjung Pinang for further investigations.

He said the crew would be prosecuted for the offence of entering Indonesian waters without valid documents.

Five days ago, MMEA detained two foreign ships in the south of Tanjung Penyusop, for anchoring without permission and on further examination found the tankers also had no insurance.

However, the ships managed to escape after being held for three days.

— BERNAMA

PETALING JAYA – Self-styled shaman Ibrahim Mat Zin has promised not to conduct his bizarre rituals anymore, saying that he has repented.

In apologising for his antics that many say mocks Islam, Ibrahim, who is in his 80s, claimed that he was instructed by “someone” to conduct the rituals, although he did not name the person.

“I slept at the Dang Wangi lock-up for two days and in Jinjang for three days. I have repented, I promise that I will stop all these rituals,” he said at a press conference organised by Federal Territory Islamic Reli­gious Department (Jawi) yesterday.

He also renounced his Raja Bo­­moh title.

“All of it was drama, the shaking of the bamboo sticks. I couldn’t see anything inside it. I was told to shake the sticks. I took the coconuts as if they were bombs. I didn’t know what I did was wrong,” he said.

Jawi director Hj Abd Aziz bin Jusoh said Ibrahim was found guilty by the Kuala Lumpur Syariah Court yesterday for insulting Islam and causing people to have a negative perception of the religion.

Abd Aziz said Ibrahim was investigated for conducting a ritual in Jalan Pekeliling, Kuala Lumpur purpotedly to create rain during the El-Nino season in March last year.

Ibrahim pleaded guilty to the charges.

Abd Aziz said that in consideration of Ibrahim’s age and health, he was released on a good behaviour bond for six months and is to be monitored by the Federal Territory Mufti’s office.

Ibrahim first made headlines in March 2014, when he conducted two rituals at the Kuala Lumpur In­­ternational Airport in a supposed attempt to locate the missing Malay­­sia Airlines Flight MH370.

In March, he performed a ritual outside the National Institute of Forensic Medicine at Hospital Kuala Lumpur over the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

He also performed a ritual using coconuts and sticks on a beach in Bagan Lalang, purportedly to “de­­fend” Malaysia from North Korea. – The Star Online

PUTRAJAYA – Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak today handed an allocation of RM80 million to registered pondok schools, Sekolah Menengah Agama Rakyat (SMAR) and tahfiz (religious) institutions.

The Prime Minister said the allocation under the Special Fund for Improvement and Maintenance of Schools as announced in Budget 2017 aimed at empowering and strengthening the religious education institutions towards excellence.

Of this amount, he said, RM30 million was allocated for coordinating and developing tahfiz education through the National Tahfiz Education Policy (DPTN), the first of its kind given by the government for religious education.

“If it is the desire of parents (to send their children to tahfiz schools), then it becomes the government’s duty to determine that it not only remains as an option for parents, but an option that can produce successful human beings.

“Therefore, I have decided to approve the provisions to encourage the DPTN which has been enacted to produce guidelines so that the development of religious education can be more structured and systematic,” he said during the ceremony held at Seri Perdana, here.

The handing out of allocations involved 819 recipients representing pondok schools, SMARs and of tahfiz institutions from across the country.

Also present were Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom and Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (JAKIM) director-general Tan Sri Othman Mustapha.

KUALA LUMPUR – Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB) will raise its staff’s minimum monthly wage from RM1,000 to RM1,200 beginning May.

Its chairman Datuk Ir Nawawi Ahmad said 862 employees or 15 per cent of the KTMB workforce would benefit from the salary revision.

“Its covers adjustment to the basic salary, employer’s contribution to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) and Social Security Organisation (Socso),” he said in a statement here today.

BANGKOK – Thai authorities arrested another Malaysian man suspected to be a key member of a drug syndicate at the busy Suvarnabhumi International Airport yesterday evening before he could board a flight back to Malaysia.

The man, 44, from Penang was nabbed at 7pm (local time) following surveillance by Thai authorities over his alleged role in two failed attempts to smuggle drugs into Malaysia early this year and late last year.

“The Malaysian man arrived in Bangkok about two weeks ago and has been under constant surveillance by the police ever since,” said the Narcotics Suppression Bureau (NSB) deputy head Maj Gen Pornchai Charoenwong at airport yesterday.

KUALA LUMPUR – The anticipation that the elections will be held soon seems to attract many good things which we Malaysians either take for granted or simply ignore, with the assumption that “Ini semua biasa” – a common practice during election season.

This year, celebrations of Good Friday, Easter, Hindu New Year and Vaisakhi (the Sikh New Year), by mere coincidence, shared the same date. In the past, these festivals were either celebrated on a quiet scale or simply overlooked by the authorities. However, this year, the entrance of my township was adorned with banners and posters of such festivals, adding colours and flavours to the environment. Although a beautiful sight for all, why such emphasis on multi-culturalism and multi-religiosity only when election season is in the air? No doubt many would consider this as an election ploy or vote-garnering exercise amongst our elected politicians and to-be elected candidates. If only such diversity was understood by everyone and be made a daily practice, especially the politicians who govern us.

Election season is also noted in our calendars as road refurbishment season, whereby all our roads are re-tarred and re-paved. Even the smallest holes are not left uncovered. The smell of hot tar and the sounds of bulldozers fill the air for many days and weeks prior to the election date. However, it would be a great improvement for the municipal and other governing authorities to realize that potholes in streets as well as other maintenance required issues of our roads occur throughout the year and not only during election season. If issues surrounding faulty street lamps and traffic lights, leaking sewerage holes, overgrown grass and broken branches, poor waste collection and clearing of dead carcasses on the street were also collectively and efficiently attended to immediately and public amenities were maintained on a regular basis, no doubt our nation would shine in cleanliness, hygiene and beauty throughout the year and not just for a specific time or occasion.

Another striking point is the sudden emphasis and attention towards the vernacular schools. The education syllabus and system of the Chinese schools and Tamil schoolswill become instant issues of interest to all politicians, but again, only during election season, with the main intention to woo non-Malay votes, and our clever politicians never seems to let this topic to rest. Somewhere after elections, you can hear the firebrands speaking of their closure and that the national unity is ruined by the presence of these vernacular schools. You can see debates and scores of postings online on the need to close these schools, but everything will settle-in well close to the election!

It is also during this time that our national leader will announce and stress on the utmost importance of unity; that we are a multi-racial and multi-religious, although Islam is the official religion of our nation. Should this not, in actual fact, be said and practiced widely on a daily basis by all? Should equal importance and respect not be given to every ethnic community in this nation? There would be no need for the nation’s leaders to emphasise on such issues if these issues itself were inclusive in their daily agenda.

Although we have adapted well to the Bumiputra agenda, we do not have to put up with the practice of non-Bumiputras being side-tracked, ignored and in some cases, rejected or even “shoo-ed” out of the picture. Every ethnic community in this country is to be given an equal amount of respect and importance in building a nation truly known as Malaysia.

Malaysia boasts of a nation with 98 percent being educated and literate. We need new thoughts in governing and ruling the nation. We cannot be using outdated techniques or outmoded issues. The Generation Y and Z are already becoming 80% of the voters for the coming elections.

We need to close out issues like intended closures or removals of vernacular schools. The constitutional powers of an education minister to close them must be reviewed and renewed. This will help everyone to assimilate and move on faster with greater confidence and trust in the government and education system. National schools must also show greater transparency in managing and adopting true assimilation of our culture, as our Deputy Prime Minister has pointed out that the current education system is not creating much patriotism among Malaysians.

The issues of every ethnicity must be carefully studied; adequate resources and support must be provided to build a strong and strategic Malaysia in meeting the growing “innovative destructive economy”. Malaysia cannot be a Kodak. She must be an Apple who will be an enabler for our nation to greater heights. We must strive to restore confidence among the non-Malay voters by considering their needs and grievances in order to maintain a balance among all races and communities that make up this country.

Our loss is another’s gain. For instance, the closing of the MRO in Subang by MAS is the biggest gain of Emirates Air where now there is a Malaysian Village in Emirates Air. We should think of our nation first before we think of anyone person, ethnicity or even religion. We must move beyond race and religion to build a nation which will stand strong and firm for the coming generations.

Let’s be objective. No more parochialism but patriotism in uniting to meet the external challenges that is coming in a big way. China’s new success is brought about by their openness and willingness to collaborate with all walk of life wherever and whenever possible, even forcing the United States to take a back seat. Such is the issue within our country. It is a question of willingness to learn and make a difference or remain a nation only seen campaigning on the eve of every election but not executing the common good, brought about by our diversity and plurality.

Let’s be honest, open and inclusive of every Malaysian’s concern. Let’s not just deliver the goodies on the eve of an election, but continuously deliver the goodies equally to every Malaysian in every nook and corner of our nation in order to win back their confidence and trust.

(This commentary is based on the writer’s personal opinion and does not in anyway reflect on Bernama’s stand on what has been said by the writer, Ravindran Raman Kutty)

— BERNAMA

KUALA LUMPUR – Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the Monarchy Institution or in the context of the Federal Government, Seri Paduka Baginda Yang di-Pertuan Agong, is a reflection of the ‘Personification of the Nation’.

He said the Yang di-Pertuan Agong as a reflection or manifestation to the ‘Adicita’ or Rukun Negara ideology, is fundamental to a prosperous and independent nation.

“Truly, the institution of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is unique to Malaysia, because it is not the practice in other countries that practise monarchy in the world. It is not trough a voting system by the people and it is also not hereditary.

“The institution is none other than a continuity of the tradition of the royal Malay Rulers since time immemorial,” he said when delivering his congratulatory speech and pledge of loyalty on the installation of Sultan Muhammad V as the 15th Yang di-Pertuan Agong at the Istana Negara today.

Najib said the system of Constitutional Monarchy practised in Malaysia was also very orderly according to the principles specfied on the spirit that the Ruler and the People cannot be separated.

He said that the institution of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong was unique to Malaysia, and was not practised by any other monarchies in the world.

In his speech, the prime minister also spoke about the current developments in the country, particularly on the National Transformation Policy, which he said would be the catalyst to drive Malaysia towards becoming a developed nation.

Najib said the programme’s sixth annual report showed it had achieved many successes and received recognition from various international bodies.

“Thank God, although the country is not spared from facing the global economic downturn, according to the World Bank, our economy will hopefully grow by 4.3 per cent in 2017.

“In fact, last week, I, as the Prime Minister, on behalf of His Majesty’s government, had launched a new chapter to the Bumiputera policy, 45 years after the New Economic Policy was introduced by my late father, Tun Haji Abdul Razak, in 1971,” he said.

Najib said the next phase in the Bumiputera policy was the transformation of their welfare in an inclusive manner, not only taking into account their participation in the economy, but across all aspects of life.

Speaking on national security, the prime minister said the government would increase the security level, especially in the country’s waters and all entry points.

Najib, representing the government, security forces, civil servants and the people of Malaysia expressed deep gratitude to Sultan Muhammad V, in conjunction with his installation.

“I, on behalf of the government together with the Deputy Prime Minister (Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi), as well as members of the administration and the people here, will always pray that His Majesty is bestowed the strength and guidance, as well as good health during his reign, as a symbol of greatness and national pride, ” he said.

The Sultan of Kelantan, Sultan Muhammad V was officially installed as the 15th Yang di-Pertuan Agong in a ceremony held in accordance with the tradition of the Malay Sultanate, today.

Sultan Muhammad V, 47, was elected by the Conference of Rulers at its 243rd (Special) Meeting at Istana Negara on October 14, which also saw the Sultan of Perak, Sultan Nazrin Shah elected as the Deputy Yang di-Pertuan Agong.

On Dec 13 last year, His Majesty had taken oath of office and signed the letter of declaration as the 15th Yang di-Pertuan Agong at Istana Negara.

Sultan Muhammad V replaced the 14th Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah, who ended his tenure on Dec 12 last year.

— BERNAMA