Saturday, December 20, 2014

War of banners to lure customers and boost year-end sales - The Star


20 Dec 2014 BY FOONG PEK YEE
Yes, banners have been a topic of conversation of late.
My sister commented that it looks like general election campaigning!
The latest addition are those on “Wabak Dengi” (dengue epidemic).
My 11-year-old nephew has been keeping a watch out for the dengue banners in the housing area where he stays with his parents.
He will update me on the new dengue banners and also those that had been taken down.
His awareness on dengue could be traced to the talk of dengue in the Ipoh neighbourhood.
Health department officers have been helpful; updating the residents on the dengue cases in the area when they conduct checks for Aedes mosquito breeding grounds.
Some of the officers have been kind enough to conduct fogging inside houses upon request.
People are simply being swarmed by mosquitoes.
My friend from Mansion Park in Ipoh told me on Wednesday that her area was a dengue hot spot.
“I get a lot of mosquitoe bites when I dry my laundry,” she said.
The people are feeling helpless.
Earlier this month, I pointed out to a health department officer about the clogged drains, abandoned houses and rubbish strewn areas in Taman Rasa Sayang in Ipoh.
He nodded and said: “This comes under the Ipoh City Council (MBI).”
The officer was supervising fogging in the area which has been declared a dengue epidemic area.
The proper upkeeping of public areas, including cleaning up abandoned houses come under the local authorities.
This is the first line of defence.
The Perak Health Department should know that banners to warn the people that they are in dengue epidemic areas is just not enough.
And asking the people to participate in gotong royong activities to clean up public areas is an irony.
While it is not exactly a waste of public funds to put up the dengue epidemic banners, I must say there are several longstanding problems that the health department and local authorities need to resolve together.
The incidence of litterbugs is definitely on the rise, judging from the rubbish strewn surroundings.
It goes to show the general public’s mentality — no civic consciousness at all and extremely irresponsible.
As such, there is no point in Health committee executive councillor Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon lamenting on the low turnout of residents for gotong royongs held to clean up the surroundings.
He should have anticipated this outcome.
Perhaps, it may be better for him to get the cooperation of the local authorities to go after the litterbugs.
If a fine is not a deterrent, take them to court and punish them with community service, for instance, to show the people that littering is a serious offence.
At the same time, the local authorities must also set a good example — do a good job in upkeeping public areas.
The big spike in dengue cases this year and related deaths is a wake up call to all — dengue kills.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Ipoh City Council's Budget 2013/2014 - Balanced Budget – Obsession or Compulsion? - Ipoh Echo

By Fathol Zaman Bukhari


I wonder how many of us are aware that Ipoh City Council’s budget for year 2013 and 2014 was tabled by the mayor on July 31. Yes, Ipoh’s biennial budget has been tabled and Ipohites are clueless. Even we from the press remained uninformed till the very last moment.

The fax from the Council only mentioned a full-board meeting on the appointed date and nothing more. Was it deliberate? Was it an oversight? I have no way of telling, as odd things do happen from time to time.
Funny, an event of such significance took place without so much as a whimper from the Council. How could it happen?  Well, whatever it was, it happened.
The press was issued a transcript of the mayor’s budget speech and that to me was a revelation of gigantic proportions. It was in Bahasa Malaysia. My poor reporter had problem deciphering it let alone understand the meaning of the flowery language which was peppered with innuendos and salutations. It is the norm with departmental speeches where the need to acknowledge the datuks and tan sris in the crowd is so ingrained in the mindset. It is polite, they say.
Two phrases in the mayor’s speech caught my eye. One was “Mentransformasikan Kerajaan ke-arah Mentransfromasikan Malaysia” meaning “to transform the government towards transforming Malaysia”. It is one mouthful. Ever since the Prime Minister came up with his “Transformasi” mumbo-jumbo, the whole nation has become so engrossed with the word “transformation”, especially those in the public sector. On the whole, however, nothing has transformed as yet.
The other is “Penyedian Anggaran Bajet dwi tahunan 2013 dan 2014 ini telah dibuat berpandukan kepada garis panduan Kerajaan Negeri dimana bajet seimbang menjadi teras kepada bajet pihak berkuasa tempatan” or “the drafting of the city’s biennial budget 2013 and 2014 is based on the guidelines given by the state government where a balanced budget becomes the thrust of local councils’ budgets.” The fixation with a balanced budget, therefore, is not for reasons of prudence but to abide by state government’s guidelines. How naive!
The mayor, as expected, announced a budget of RM151,985,000 for Year 2013 and RM155,200,000 for Year 2014. The budget is balanced because incomes for Year 2013 and Year 2014 are comparable to amount to be expended. It could not be simpler than that.
Incidentally, seventy per cent of the Council’s revenues come from the annual assessment rates. Operational Expenses for 2013 are tagged at RM148,785,000 while that of 2014 are estimated at RM151,700,000. The major bulk of the operational expenses, however, are for emoluments. For 2013, the sum is RM84 million while for 2014, the cost is RM87 million. More than half of the budget goes to paying the Council’s burgeoning number of staff members – over 2,700 at the last count. So you now know where your hard-earned money goes to.
The budget will be passed without much fuss, as it has happened in the past. Do the councillors debate and question the management’s wisdom in spending the Council’s money or more appropriately, rate-payers’ money? I don’t think so.
How are we to know how much is being allocated for road repairs and maintenance?  What about rubbish disposal, grass cutting and the clearing of monsoon drains? What about safety in the streets and crime-prone areas? Will enough CCTVs be installed and where will they be installed? Is there a need to organise dinners at upscale hotels and restaurants, and the inexplicable lawatan sambil belajar. Why this and why that? We have plenty to ask but how are we to ask when our views are never sought?
It will be a balanced budget as long as the Council does not spend more than what it gets. That is the whole crux of the matter. You spend what you get and nothing more. How the Council spends it is never questioned. If that is the premise, Ipoh City Council budget will remain balanced forever.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

More Ipoh residents taking part in gotong-royong exercises - The Star


IPOH folk are becoming more aware of their responsibility in combating Aedes mosquitoes and the dengue war, as shown in the higher participation in gotong-royongexercises.
Ipoh City Council secretary Mohd Zakuan Zakaria said the number of people taking part in gotong-royong exercises conducted by the council had increased over time.
“We have organised gotong-royong in 16 zones to date and there has been an improvement.
“These days, we are seeing 200 to 300 people taking part at each zone,” he told reporters after the council’s full board meeting recently.
Datuk Bandar Datuk Harun Rawi said unlike previously, the council had reduced the number of its workers at such programmes.
“We are making councillors responsible for organising and getting people to take part.
“This is part of an effort to let the community know that they have to be responsible for the cleanliness around them.
“We hope to change their mindset towards cleanliness, that cleanliness is not the sole responsibility of the council,” said Harun.
Noting that illegal dumpsites and rubbish piles were also main contributors of dengue, Harun said the council would come up with a schedule to collect garden refuse.
The schedule, he said, would be uploaded on the council’s website soon.
“Starting this year, we have also appointed additional contractors to clean drains on anad hoc basis at places where there are many complaints,” he added.
Earlier in his speech, Harun said the council had identified 41,199 abandoned lots, which were potentially contributing to the current dengue outbreak in the city.
The lots, located within 630 housing estates and 144 villages, were in dire need of maintenance and rid of overgrown bushes, he said.
“The council has created 7,646 files in relation to the matter and up until Aug 31, a total of 2,008 notices have been served.
“To date, 1,234 owners have heeded our directive to clean up their premises.
“Unfortunately, there were 490 others who failed to adhere to the notices,” he said.
Harun added that the council had appointed its contractors to clear up another 284 lots.
“The owner of the lots, which have been cleared by our contractors, will be billed a 15% service charge in their assessment,” he said.
Harun also called on the public to alert the council should they know of any abandoned lots so that it could take immediate action to break the Aedes breeding cycle.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Animal shelter aims to have the breeding of strays under control - The Star


WHEN homemaker Tho Yit Ngor rescued a pregnant stray dog wandering outside her house three years ago, little did she know that she would be the owner of three generations of white mongrels.
“The dog was wandering outside my house for days with a bulging belly and it looked like it was in pain as it was about to give birth.
“I decided to bring it into my house compound so that it could give birth safely,” said the 48-year-old.
Months after the dog Tho rescued had given birth to a female puppy, the puppy ran out of the house when the gate was left opened.
“I was worried that I lost the puppy for good, but soon after, it found its way home.
“I did not know that it became pregnant as well after that little adventure until a few months after.

“The puppy gave birth to a female and I decided that it is time I brought them to be spayed because I do not have the capability to care for more than three dogs should the incident repeat itself,” she said, adding that both of her children were all grown up and working outstation.
She said that despite having to keep three dogs, she was reluctant to give them up because she had grown very fond of all of them.
Accompanied by her husband Bok Pin Chiang, 55, Tho was among the many good Samaritans who were present at the Track, Neuter, Release (TNR) programme organised by the Ipoh Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) held at Dewan Orang Ramai Gunung Rapat recently.
Fellow pet owner Wong Foong Chew saved seven stray puppies who were roaming the streets in Tanjung Rambutan recently.
“I gave four of them away and now I am keeping two females and one male.
“Caring for them is like caring for children, it is very tiring and expensive.
“So I have decided to bring them here to prevent my pets from giving birth to more puppies,” she said, adding that she was currently spending around RM400 a month on her mongrel puppies.
At the programme, ISPCA president Ricky Soong advised those who wish to rescue and keep stray animals to spay or neuter them.
“This step is vital to control the population of strays in the city to prevent them from causing problems for the society.
“The overpopulation of stray animals, especially dogs, would cause problems such as garbage bags lying open on the road, someone getting bitten or the spreading of fleas and diseases.
“By having them spayed or neutered, they can still continue living on the streets without facing threats of being shot or dumped at the city’s outskirts,” he said.
Soong said many dogs and cats are able to get pregnant when they are only six months old.
“Just imagine, if these 25 animals here at the programme were to reproduce on the streets, there would be more than 200 of them added to the stray population within half a year.
“And after a year, this number can quickly grow to more than 2,000.
“Thus, I strongly encourage people who feed strays to go the extra mile of having them neutered,” he said.
Soong added that the TNR approach has been long adopted by Germany, but it took them around 40 years to successfully reduce the stray population in their country by 90%.
“Today’s effort is only the very first step for Ipoh and I hope that the Ipoh City Council will soon agree to adopt this method for the betterment of the stray population in the city,” he said.
On the overcrowding of animals at the shelter, Soong said the number of cats and dogs has been reduced from 280 and 220 respectively within the last eight months.
“This is because some of the dogs died of old age, while some have been adopted.
“Even so, we are still at our limit of taking in more animals and we are now aiming to educate people on the importance of spaying and neutering them instead,” he said.
Also present was the Malaysian Kennel Association Perak branch president Lau Yit Meng, who advised pet lovers not to buy pedigree breeds on impulse.
“We have had cases where pet owners could not afford their pets’ medical expenses, so they chose to abandon them on the streets.
“ISPCA has even rescued a few Siberian Huskies on the streets before and the diseases they had would result in treatment costs of more than RM1,000.
“Keeping a pet is a long-term responsibility and one should ensure that they are financially and physically capable before getting a pet,” he said.
The TNR programme saw to the spaying and neutering of 21 dogs and four cats, all of which were brought in by their respective owners.
The owners were only charged half price for each pet, which was RM50, as the remaining costs were subsidised by ISPCA.

Advertisement signboards and airtime among new methods mooted - The Star

THE state government has 19 new initiatives to generate more revenue.


Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir (BN-Pangkor) said aside from relying on conventional methods of collecting revenue from land, water and forest, he said the state has formed committees to discuss new methods to add more revenue.
“Some of the new plans are through advertisement signboards and airtime.
“Other sources included royalty, entertainment duty, land reserve usage, enforcement from wrongful use of land and utility usage,” he said during his winding up speech for the Perak Budget 2015 at the state assembly sitting on Friday.
“We also started a renewable energy project three years ago, so maybe we can get some revenue from there.
“From the end of 2013 until early 2014, all land offices, district offices and the state finance officer met and came up with 46 initiatives to get more revenue. We will study these from time to time,” he added.
Last Monday, Dr Zambry announced a RM50.06mil deficit for the state budget next year.
He had said the expected revenue for 2015 was just over RM1bil, while its management expenditure and allocation for development would total RM1.05bil.
He noted that the budget, themed “Perak Amanjaya, Rakyat Terpelihara” (Perak Amanjaya, People Cared For), was based on four principles — affordable, realistic, achievable and sustainable.
Dr Zambry said that the development in the state was right on track.
“Even if the economy next year proves to be challenging, we will increase our budget for development.
“Each budget we planned and prepared is for the betterment of the people,” he said, adding that the state was facing the challenge of limited resources versus rising expectations.
On the proposed entry fee to enter the Matang Mangrove Eco-Learning Centre, Dr Zambry said folks from nearby villages will be exempted from paying it.
“After much consideration, we’ve decided that residents from surrounding villages need not pay any entry fee.
“The same applies to four other recreational parks at Pulau Tali Kail in Gerik, Ulu Kenas at Kuala Kangsar, Lata Kinjang and Kuala Woh at Tapah. Annual passes will be given to them instead,” he said.
To tackle the issue of ketum (a hallucinogenic plant) in Pengkalan Hulu, Dr Zambry said the police have held border talks with Thailand over the matter.
He said 87 cases have been reported involving the drug and there were also Thai nationals crossing the border to obtain ketum.
The budget was approved after five days of intense debate, which started on Monday.
The sitting was adjourned sine die by State Speaker Datuk Seri S. K. Devamany.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Dengue Prevention Campaign at Puncak Jelapang Maju 14 Dec 2014


This morning our team members from Ipoh City Watch (ICW) participated in a dengue prevention campaign together with the Health Ministry Dept of Perak. We focused on the 500 houses in Puncak Jelapang Maju starting from 7.30am going from house to house to personally counselled residents. 


The group comprised of Matron FoongPandian Sarangabanly,Tina Leong, Mdm Jeya, Rajan, Thinakaran Sarangabanly, Hanip, Sundra Lingam, Giri, and Hairul was divided into two. By 10.45am we have managed to covered the 500 houses.





 Apart from giving counseling we also did observation and took note on the clealiness as well as potential breeding ground for aedes mosquitoes. We managed to speak to the 4 familiy members of who have undergone treatment for dengue. It was a very fulfilling experience for all of us. 





Next week we will participate in a gotong royong in KRT Jelapang and the followinhgg week we are going to visit Taman Harmony in Buntong to carry out similar campaign while on our Walk About activity. Thanks to all our ICW members for their participation.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Dogs Tortured To Death - Ipoh Echo


Cruelty to animals is a bane of our society. We often hear and see dogs and cats being flayed for no apparent reasons other than them being a “nuisance”. How bad could these animals be? They, just like us, are on Mother Earth for a reason. It is so heart-wrenching to see man’s best friends being beaten and mistreated.
Ipoh Echo received an email from a concerned Ipohite recently about two dogs being tortured to death. The incidents took place in Buntong and Tasek. We contacted Elaine, an animal activist, who was present at the scene where one of the dogs was beaten to death with a wooden stick.
According to Elaine, she and a friend were travelling around the industrial area of Tasek when they came across three puppies in front of a factory. They decided to take them to an animal shelter. 
“We came back the following day to look for the puppies but found that one was missing. After a brief search, we found it near a dead male dog. The puppy looked frightened. When we approached it, it kept on howling and yelping,” she said.
The dead dog was lying on its side with a stick beside it. Before leaving the scene, she took a few pictures and informed City Council of her finding. “I am shocked and angry at whoever was responsible for this barbaric act. Why take it out on an innocent animal? Don’t they have feelings?” she lamented.
The other case took place in Buntong where a canine was similarly killed for no rhyme or reason. The poor dog was splashed with acid and had suffered an agonising death.
Ipoh Echo urge members of the public to report to Ricky from the Ipoh Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ISPCA) at 016 550 6915 or to Dr Ranjit of Noah’s Ark at 019 556 8292 should they come across animal-abuse cases in their neighbourhood.