Vending machines go cashless with Touch ‘n Go cards

Posted on : 25-07-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National

KUALA LUMPUR: The hassle of looking around for small change just to purchase a beverage from a vending machine is a thing of the past, as you can now do so via your Touch ‘n Go card.

With the collaboration between Touch’ n Go Sdn Bhd (TNGSB), Ventaserv Sdn Bhd (Ventaserv) and Coca Cola Refreshments (M) Sdn Bhd (Coca-Cola), consumers no longer need to be bothered about finding loose change when they purchase drinks from any Ventaserv vending machines.

“All they need to do is just select their preferred drinks then tap their card to make a payment, it’s so easy and hassle-free,” TNGSB chief operating officer, Farilla Abdullah said during the official launch of the Touch ‘n Go Payment At Vending Machines yesterday.

To commemorate the launch, Farilla announced that TNGSB will be running a two-month campaign for all its card users.

“The campaign, Top 50 Spenders Campaign, which runs from July 25 until Sept 30 at selected Ventaserv’s vending machines, allows the winners to walk away with one set of a limited edition Coca-Cola Touch ‘n Go card and one carton of Coca-Cola drinks.

“More information about the campaign is available on our corporate website and social media page,” Farilla said.

Also present at the launch was Ventaserv chief executive officer Sophia Lim who revealed that Ventaserv is the first vending machine operator in the local market to adopt the cashless payment mechanism.

“Currently there are some 500 Ventraserv vending machines available in hospitals, recreational parks, shopping malls, and schools in the Klang Valley, and we are hoping that we would be able to roll out 1,000 vending machines within the region by year-end,” she added.


SEA (Southeast Asia) TVET enables students to gain knowledge abroad

Posted on : 24-07-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National

PUTRAJAYA: Community college students are now able to participate in international student exchange programme, that is normally organised at university level, through the Southeast Asia Technical and Vocational Education (SEA TVET) International Mobility programme.

Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Mary Yap Kain Ching said six students and two lecturers from the Langkawi Tourism Academy @ Kolej Komuniti Langkawi had been selected to participate in the programme this year at the Rajamangala University of Technology Lanna (RMUTL), Thailand.

She said both institutions were selected based on their respective expertise in hospitality and tourism sector.

“The students and lecturers will attend a two-week programme at RMUTL to gain knowledge, share their best practices and getting exposure to Thai culture, which they will later share with their friends in Malaysia.

“The collaboration with RMUTL is reciprocal and in the future RMUTL will also send its students and lecturers to Langkawi under this programme,” she told reporters during the flagging off the programme’s participants here today.

Yap said the student exchange programme, coordinated by the Community College Education Department (JPKK), would be held from time to time until 2019 involving other areas including electronics, mechatronics and manufacturing; agriculture and fisheries; as well as construction.

She said community colleges could also choose their preferred overseas institutions to cooperate with under the programme, subject to JPKK’s approval.

The SEA TVET International Mobility Programme was one of the internalisation efforts of TVET by member countries of Southeast Asian Ministers of Education Organisation (Seameo) through curriculum harmonisation; exchange of students and staff; industrial attachment; and resource sharing, she said.

Meanwhile, one of the participants, Amizal Abdul Ghani, 18, said he was proud to be selected and determined to gain as much knowledge as possible in Thai culinary arts.

“In terms of language I feel there should be no problem because I am fluent in Thai as my mother came from Thailand,” he said.

Another lucky student, Tan Shin Yan, 18, said she was excited to learn about the country’s hospitality that was famous for its civility culture.


50% off fares of MRT, LRT, monorail until Merdeka

Posted on : 17-07-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National

PETALING JAYA: Commuters using the MRT, LRT and monorail lines will enjoy a 50% discount starting Tuesday, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

Najib added that those using the lines would be able to enjoy the discount right up to Merdeka Day on Aug 31.

He made the announcement when launching the 51km Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Sungai Buloh-Kajang (SBK) line, which he said would transform public transport in Kuala Lumpur.

“With the integration of the MRT system with KTM Komuter, the LRT and the Monorail, residents of the Klang Valley and Greater Kuala Lumpur will be able to enjoy a more efficient, quicker system,” said Najib in a Facebook post on Monday.

He said a person from Kajang could be in Bukit Bintang in 33 minutes using the MRT, adding that the ride would only cost RM3.80.

“I hope that more will choose public transport to reduce traffic congestion in Kuala Lumpur,” said Najib.

‘Infra-Rakyat’ projects coming, PM Launches MRT second phase

Posted on : 17-07-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak today launched the second phase of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line and said it would be the beginning of many more ‘infra-rakyat’ (people’s infrastructure) projects in the country.

The Prime Minister said these projects included the MRT Sungai Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya Second Line, Bandar Utama-Johan Setia LRT3, East Coast railway, Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High-Speed Rail and upgrading of the monorail and Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) systems.

“All these will be implemented by the government. When the MRT3 or MRT Circle Line is ready, by 2027, we will see a fully-integrated public transportation system in Kuala Lumpur. That’s our dream.

“Based on track record, we (the government) can achieve this objective,” he said at the launch of the MRT Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line second phase at the Tun Razak Exchange underground station here.

Najib’s wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Cabinet ministers and MRT Corp CEO Datuk Seri Shahril Mokhtar were also present at the launch.

Najib said that since taking over the leadership of the country, he realised that Kuala Lumpur, as the federal capital, needed an efficient and a reliable transportation system network at affordable rates for all the people.

“We have learned from the experience of other capital cities in this region; the traffic congestion is so severe that an individual is forced to spend eight to 10 hours daily on the road.

“Before Kuala Lumpur faces such a predicament, we have to take measures to avert that situation (of traffic congestion)  because the signs are already there, especially when it rains,” he said.

The Prime Minister said a good transportation system network can benefit the people by enabling them to save time and travel costs, enhance productivity and the spirit to work while also reducing the cost of living.

Najib, who is also Finance Minister, said the MRT Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line was completed earlier than the scheduled end of July and had helped to save RM2 billion from the initial targeted project cost of RM23 billion.

He also said that bumiputera companies comprised 50% of the companies engaged in the implementation of the project and bumiputera traders made up 51% of the traders allotted business premises at the MRT stations.

“Our move to incorporate the bumiputera agenda in the MRT project did not affect its smooth implementation because only those properly qualified were given the opportunity. We did not give to our cronies,” he said.

Najib said the MRT Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line is 51km in total and has 31 stations, and would benefit 1.2 million Malaysians besides tourists visiting the federal capital.

He said the project could have a positive effect on the environment because 160,000 vehicles were expected to be off the roads, thus reducing 752,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emission annually.

The Prime Minister also announced a 50% discount on the fares for the MRT, LRT and Monorail services for all users from tomorrow to Aug 31 in conjunction with the independence anniversary of the country.

The second phase of the MRT Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line has 19 stations, seven of which are underground.

These are the Muzium Negara, Pasar Seni, Merdeka, Bukit Bintang, Tun Razak Exchange Centre, Cochrane, Maluri, Taman Pertama, Taman Midah, Taman Mutiara, Taman Connaught, Taman Suntex, Sri Raya, Bandar Tun Hussein Onn, Batu Sebelas Cheras, Bukit Dukung, Sungai Jernih, Stadium Kajang and Kajang stations.

Each train has four coaches with a total capacity of 1,200 passengers per journey, and the daily number of passengers are expected to be 400,000.

The trains operate at a frequency of 3.5 minutes during the peak periods.


Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister arrives for 3-day official visit

Posted on : 12-07-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National

SEPANG: Vietnam’s Deputy Prime Minister Truong Hoa Binh arrived at the KL International Airport, here today, to begin his three-day official visit to Malaysia.

Truong arrived in a commercial flight from Hanoi at about 6.50pm and on hand to receive him was Foreign Ministry Deputy Secretary General for Bilateral Affairs, Raja Nushirwan Zainal Abidin.

He was given a red carpet welcome and walked past a guard of honour mounted by the First Battalion of the Royal Ranger Regiment led by Captain Mohamad Hafiz Mohamad Nor.

During his visit, Truong is scheduled among others to call on key personalities including Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.


A customer service representative job is not for the faint-hearted

Posted on : 06-07-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National

KUALA LUMPUR: “Do you know that this is urgent? Do you even know what I want? Or you’re just plain stupid to understand anything? You can’t even do a simple customer service job!” These are the nasty lines that Zati  Farhana Zulkarnain has come across many times as a customer service representative.

Customers may not be kind or even can be unforgiving but the customer service representatives still have to work on the premise that the customers are always right. The role of customer service representative is often not much appreciated but those in the vocation take everything in their stride. It is just another day’s work.

Zati Farhana works for an international courier service company and is in charge of the major account customers. She shares that the customers at times could be bossy or domineering just because they own an account with the company.

Most are nice but some can rally be patronising and even go to the extent of reminding her that they are the ones paying her salary and hence she has to meet their demands.

“When I first started working as a customer service representative at a bank, I was paid only RM2,100 per month without any allowances. I had to work in different shifts and deal with customers who can be pretty abusive,” she shared.

Despite of the demanding nature of the customers and the unkind words, and a salary that does not commensurate with what the customer service representatives have to go through daily, why does this 29-year-old lass and the others want to continue persevering in this field?


Zati Farhana who has a degree in international business wants to remain in the same field as she likes challenging work and the satisfaction derived by assisting the customers, especially the ones who really appreciate the assistance of customer service representatives.

“Every day is a challenge for me. The calls I receive each day are not the same,” she said adding that she used to work at a consultant firm but eventually lost interest because it was a monotonous job.

“My career as a customer representative started in November 2011 and since then I never thought of leaving. I’m very much happy with my job and Insya-Allah (God Willing), my goal is to be a customer service team leader in the future,” she said.

Sadly many look down on the job, thinking that the customer service job is only for those who are desperate for a job or the last resort.


Vasantha Kumar Ravendaran  who has a degree in economics from Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) started working in the same line four years ago and he could vouch that the job is only for those willing to endure the job pressure and withstand the tantrums of some customers.

“Once a customer called in regarding the shipment of a Baju Kurung that went missing. Based on our procedures, I told him to wait as I looked into the matter,” he said.

But the customer yelled and cursed instead

“He used vulgar words and even asked me if I had attended school before. He claimed that I did not understand the value of an item and speak only based on procedures. The customer had his point,” he said, adding that customers too are not always wrong.

Besides this, there were also customers who would come straight to the office looking for him.

“It’s not that bad as it seems. Their aggression is not the same like when they speak to me on the phone and so far I have no problems in managing them,” he added.

The 29-year-old is fond of his job and has no plans to venture into a new field. He believes not many are aware that there are lots of opportunities in the customer service industry especially with the increasing number of call centres in Malaysia.


For Norfhaten Fazreen Othman, on the other hand,  the job as a customer service representative had taught her a lot of skills though there were times when customers had gone overboard with their words.

“Being a customer service representative has improved my communication skills a lot. I plan to open my own business in the future and I think I can use the skill to my advantage,” she said.

The 25-year-old graduate from Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) has become accustomed to the dark side of the job as customers often belittle her or throw harsh words at her.

A customer once yelled at her saying that she was just a customer service representative and her main job is to provide and serve whatever was requested by customers.

“It’s true that it’s part of my job to serve customers but they use abusive words against me. He started calling me useless and brainless. Sure, I would never take it personally; I don’t even know him but I’ll never forget what he had said to me,” she said.

She also recalled another experience where the customer verbally abused her after she disclosed her name.

‘You’re just a customer service representative. Anyone can do what you do. You have to do what I asked you to do’.

She quoted one customer saying ‘since you all customer service staff are so free, I give you all some work to do lah’ and the customer laughed away.

When customers show antagonism, she would try her level best to tolerate them and get the job done.

“I’m not complaining but people have to understand that we’re human too,” she said, adding that she is just like everyone else trying to earn an honest living.

Nonetheless, Norfhaten Fazreen  points out she has come across many pleasant customers too in her line of work and make customer service representatives happy .


The job of a customer service representative is not for all, it requires certain skills including the art of communication and great patience.

“It is not easy. Most people think that you can be a customer service representative as long as you know how to speak a language fluently and willing to work on shifts,” said Zati Farhana Zulkarnain.

“You must be very confident in everything you say and you must know how to convince a customer. It teaches you to be patient and get ready for multitasking,” she explained.

A customer service representative is also required to understand the job scope of their colleagues at different departments in order to explain to customers when they call to inquire about the products or services offered.


An award-winning passion to help refugee children

Posted on : 04-07-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National

KUALA LUMPUR: Heidy Quah, founder of the Refuge for the Refugees (RFTR) organisation, was only 17 when she decided to embark on “meaningful and productive activities” in her life before going to college.
After finishing secondary school, Quah and her friend Andrea Prisha, the co-founder of RFTR, were looking for volunteer opportunities when they found out about a refugee school in Sungai Besi that really needed support in the form of teachers.

So, they went in as volunteer teachers in 2012 and initially planned to be there for just four months. After their stint, they realised that the refugee children were teaching them so much more in return – values that they cannot learn in school or university.

“When we met the headmaster to tell him that our time there was almost done as we were about to start college, he said it was fine because the school was going to be closed due to lack of funds.

“We were shocked to hear that and felt this was unfair to the kids. Here we are going to pursue our studies when theirs was short-lived. How can we let it be like that? So we decided to run RFTR as a project to raise funds and awareness,” said 23-year-old Quah in an interview with Bernama.

According to Quah, when more people came on board to support their work, they decided to turn the project into a non-profit organisation to expand their reach of work and have more transparency in money transactions.

RFTR is a non-profit organisation that seeks to raise awareness about Myanmar refugees in Malaysia as well as provide education for refugee children. It currently runs 10 refugee schools, nine of which are in the Klang Valley and one is in Penang. It is in the midst of setting up 25 schools in Myanmar.

For her exceptional work in RFTR, Quah was selected as one of the 60 recipients from 52 Commonwealth countries to receive the prestigious Queen’s Young Leaders Award last Thursday in London.

Quah, an accounting and finance student at a private college near here, was the only Malaysian to receive the award from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II this year. She is the second Malaysian to receive the medal after Calvin Woo, 22, who received it last year for his contribution to the education of underprivileged students.

“To be chosen to receive this award was indeed an honour for me. But this award is not just for me; it is for activists out there who are rallying for underprivileged children and for advocates who are working to make Malaysia a better place.

“Never in my life did I think I will be meeting the Queen, what more to receive an award from Her Majesty. This was my third time visiting London. Every time I’m off to London, people will say ‘hey, you’re off to meet the Queen?’. This time I told them ‘yeah … I am literally meeting the Queen’,” she said.

Describing it as an amazing experience, she said the trip to London was so much more than just meeting the Queen.

“Just to be among fellow award recipients and realising that everyone there is really doing something that has an impact on their countries; it was really inspiring to listen to their stories and the sacrifices they made to be where they are today,” she said, adding that she was excited to be seated at the same dinner table with Prince Harry after the ceremony.

Recalling the day that she was notified about the award, Quah said it was on a Saturday in November last year as she was about to have lunch with Andrea when the call came.

“Before that, I received a text message from the Queen’s Young Leaders Committee asking if I was available to receive a call because they wanted to go through some information regarding my nomination.

“We scheduled a phone call at 3 pm that same day. So at 3 pm, the call came. It was surreal and my heart was beating really fast until they told me I was one of the recipients. It was the best day for me,” said the Petaling Jaya-born activist.

Launched in 2014, the award recognises and celebrates exceptional people aged 18 to 29 from across the Commonwealth who take a lead in their communities and use their skills to transform lives.

Winners of the award will receive a unique package of training, mentoring and networking, including a one-week residential programme in the United Kingdom during which they will collect their award from the Queen.

Asked how she managed her time as a student and as an activist, Quah said it took a lot of discipline and choosing her priorities wisely.

“I have no regrets doing what I do now because I have learned so much more than I would have if I was not involved in this work. Having the experience of working on the ground and dealing with different organisations have put me ahead of the game when it comes to developing my communication skills.

“My advice to my peers out there is never to be afraid to be different. The world expects so much of us and we try to conform so easily to those expectations. But when we stand up and are different with our principles, there’s so much more we can achieve because we are not letting ourselves to be trapped in that whole rat race of trying to please the society around us,” she said.


Ong to promote halal at China fair

Posted on : 03-07-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National

KUALA LUMPUR: Second International Trade and Industry Minister, Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan, will lead a delegation to promote Malaysian halal products and services at the 23rd Lanzhou Investment and Trade Fair 2017 in Lanzhou, China, from July 6 to 9, 2017.

In a statement today, the Malaysia External Trade Development Corp (Matrade) said, 90 representatives from 31 Malaysian companies and various Malaysian government organisations would take part in the event.

“The participation is timely as Lanzhou has been identified by the Chinese government as one of the halal trade hubs in the country, besides being China’s strategic entrance for halal products,” it said.

Matrade Chief Executive Officer, Ir Dr Mohd Shahreen Zainooreen Madros, said the participation at the trade fair would also enable Malaysia to tap into the neighbouring Muslim markets of Gansu namely Ningxia, Qinghai, Xinjiang and nearby provinces.

“Matrade, through its various export promotion initiatives, will continue to accelerate Malaysia’s exports to China given its importance to Malaysian companies, especially the small and medium enterprises,” he said.

Matrade said China has been Malaysia largest trading partner for eight consecutive years since 2009.

In January-April 2017, Malaysia’s trade with China grew by 32.7% to RM91.36 billion, with exports surged by 42.5% to RM39.27 billion while imports rose by 26.1% to RM52.09 billion, it said.

It said the electrical and electronics, rubber and chemicals and chemical products and petroleum contributed to the increase in exports.


‘Crepe me out’ food truck ,highlights girl power concept

Posted on : 03-07-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National

PUTRAJAYA— Generally, the food truck business is pioneered by males but this does not hamper women from also seeking their livelihood from the venture.

Under the #GirlPower concept, the food truck business belonging to Nurul Syahida Abdul Rahim, 32, is only handled by two women workers.

Nurul Syahida, who started the food truck business since February, said taking women workers was a challenge to her to compete with other traders.

“Normally, we see the food truck business is handled only by men or a mixture of men and women. However, I employ two women as a challenge to myself.

“We are the minority in the food truck scene as a females only food trucker. So, to me, it is quite easy to penetrate the food truck market,” she said when met by Bernama recently.

The mother of five from Kuala Lumpur opted to sell food and drinks in the style of dessert such as crepe and mango smoothie because, according to her, there are too many food trucks selling heavy food such as pasta and rice.

To date, Nurul Syahida said her food truck is at the Food Truck Hotspot in Precinct 2 here from 5 pm to midnight daily. She also accepted bookings from clients in Kuala Lumpur or elsewhere outside of Putrajaya.

Asked on the challenges of women in handling food truck businesses, Nurul Syahida said her workers and herself were forced to carry the 14-kg gas cannister themselves other than driving the Daihatsu truck to far off destinations such as Lumut, Perak to meet the needs of clients.

“But it is not a problem to us as my workers are hardy. Although at times they complained of being tired, they appeared to have gotten used to heavy work. I guess it comes with the job,” she said.

Nurul Syahida said her gamble also paid off as she could reap a net income of RM500 to RM2,000 a day depending on the weather and the number of visitors on weekdays and weekends.

On her future plans, Nurul Syahida said she planned to open a crepe kiosk at a shopping centre as the demand of the Malaysian society for the French dessert was encouraging.

“In this business, regardless of men or women, we must have passion, it won’t work if you don’t have passion,” she added.


NanoMalaysia To Make NANOVerify Programme Mandatory By Year-End

Posted on : 29-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National

KUALA LUMPUR– NanoMalaysia Bhd, a company limited by guarantee under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, aims to make the NANOVerify Programme mandatory for nanotechnology product manufacturers by year-end.

Chief Executive Officer, Dr Rezal Khairi Ahmad, said at the moment, NANOVerify, the first nanotechnology products/processes certification in Malaysia, was still regarded as a voluntary certification programme.

“We are still in talks with the Domestic Trade, Co-operatives and Consumerism Ministry and several relevant agencies over the terms and conditions to make NANOVerify mandatory to ensure the validity of nanomaterials claimed by the manufacturers.

“With the NANOVerified mark accredited under the programme, it could reassure the safety and quality of the nano products in the country,” he told Bernama recently.

NANOVerify, launched in 2015, is a joint programme between SIRIM QAS International Sdn Bhd and NanoMalaysia, which awards the NANOVerified mark for companies which apply for certification for the processes/products with claims of nano-elements in the range of 1-100 nanometre.

Rezal said with the NANOVerified mark, it could also enable a certified company to increase its corporate image, gain customers’ trust and subsequently, promote its sales.

Likening NANOVerify to the halal certificate accredited by Malaysian Islamic Development Department (JAKIM), he did not discount the possibility of the former emerging as a global benchmark for nano products in the future.

“It is possible for it to follow in JAKIM’s footsteps which has successfully made its halal certificate widely recognised by Muslims all around the world within 20 years’ time,” he said.

Rezal, who is also a member of Asia Nano Forum, said currently, Malaysia has partnered with Taiwan, UK, Russia, Thailand and Iran to recognise each other’s nano certificate.

“All the six nations are the members of the forum and each has its own respective nano verification programmes.

“We are now looking at how to standardise and create a cross-countries accepted nano certificate to open up a bigger market for each other,” he said.

He said Malaysia was expected to sign an agreement on nano verification with Iran next year, after a similar deal was inked with Taiwan late last year.

Recently, NanoMalaysia also announced that it would collaborate with a Russian company to set up an investment platform for nanotechnology businesses by year-end, which enabled Malaysia’s manufactured nano products to penetrate the European market.

Meanwhile, nano fertiliser provider, Microwell Bio Solutions Sdn Bhd, an indirect subsidiary of state-owned Johor Corp, is eyeing to expand its market share to 30 per cent in the country over the next five years.

Chief Technology Officer/ Director, MD Nasaruddin Abdullah, said Malaysia has been spending over RM5 billion annually to import nano-based fertiliser, particularly from China and Russia.

“But the costs of the same nanomaterials produced locally are 10 to 20 per cent cheaper compared to imported ones,” he said.

Besides, he said, nanotechnology could halve the amount of fertiliser used yearly and enable the planters to save their raw material cost for a higher yield.

However, MD Nasaruddin acknowledged that local awareness on nanotechnology was still on a very surface level as it is still an emerging technology.

“Most of them only come across the term of ‘nano’ on cosmetic products without knowing that the technology is also adopted in the agriculture industry.

“So, our current stage is to approach the industry players to explain the effectiveness of the technology,” he said.

MD Nasaruddin said during the company’s pre-commercialisation phase, he had seen the local farmers, planters and the industrial players began to gradually adopt the technology.

“We have to do it gradually to realise the target of taking up 30 per cent of the market share in five years,” he said.


The elegance of wooden baju Melayu buttons

Posted on : 21-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National

KAJANG– It was in one Ramadan three years ago that Shahmin Razali and his wife Sharifah Nursabrina Syed Hassan scoured dozens of stores and Aidilfitri bazaars all over Ampang, Shah Alam and Bangi in search of the perfect ‘butang’ (button studs) for his baju Melayu.

However, their search proved to be an exercise in futility.

“I am someone who likes to distinguish myself on Hari Raya. So that year I wanted to wear my ‘baju Melayu cekak musang’ (a stiff-collared baju Melayu with plackets) with wooden butang so that my outfit would stand out and look more traditional. I already have the usual kinds of studs that are made of gem, silver or brass.

“However, none of the stores we visited then carried butang baju Melayu that are made of wood. In fact, many seemed surprised that we would even ask for it,” the 29-year-old told Bernama.
ENTERPRISING…Kayan is the brainchild of Shahmin Razali, 29, (left) and his wife Sharifah Nursabrina Syed Hassan, The fine craftsmanship of Kayan products is the reason that it is selling like hot cakes since it first hit the market. Photo courtesy of Kraftangan Malaysia.
Who would have thought that the chain of events would result in the birth of the Kayan brand, which manufactures baju Melayu button studs made from premium wood and steel. It was the first of its kind in the country.


When met at their woodworking shop Jalan Reko, Kajang, Shahmin said his adamance to own the wooden version of the baju Melayu accessory eventually inspired him to make one himself.
Shahmin Razali demonstrates the making of a wooden butang, Photo courtesy of Kraftangan Malaysia.
“I made the first set to wear on Aidilfitri in 2015. However, I did not expect it to be such a hit among friends.

“They said it was beautiful and unique and asked me to trademark it as at the time, there was nothing of the kind in the market,” he said.

Shahmin clearly had a passion for all things wood. While demonstrating the making of a wooden butang, this writer could not help but notice that even his watch was made from wood.

This was because he believed that things made of wood had a quality of timeless elegance. It was that unique element and the belief that the product had high market value that drove Shahmin and his wife to follow through with their dream of becoming the first to invent wooden button studs for baju Melayu.


At the beginning of their business, they turned the dining room of Shahmin’s mother’s house in Kajang into a makeshift workshop as they could not own one yet due to financial constraints.

“For two years we operated from my mother’s dining room. We would only clean up when my mother is hosting a function or when Hari Raya draws near.

“Thankfully, after three years in the business we were able to own three workshops with dedicated carving machines, polisher and a laser cutter to ease the process of crafting premium wooden butang baju Melayu” he said.

Seeing how at ease he was with woodworking tools, one might that he had prior experience before venturing into the business or knowledge passed down by skilled family members.

That, however, was not the case. Neither Shahmin nor his wife had even basic knowledge of woodworking prior to the venture, much less in crafting accessories for baju Melayu. Even their academic qualifications had nothing to do with their business.

Shahmin graduated with a degree in Computer Science from the New South Wales University in Australia while his wife had a degree in Accounting and Finance from the same university.

“We had no teacher or mentor who taught us how to make the accessory. We mostly learned from YouTube videos or sourced information from the internet.

“However, we did gain some knowledge from friends with background in design. For six months we experimented to come up with a final product that is lasting and of high quality,” said Shahmin.


Crafting a butang baju Melayu requires a high degree of patience and attention to detail due to its miniature size.

The tinier a product is, the harder it is to make it, said Sharifah Nursabrina, 28.

It starts with the selection of suitable wood, followed by employing the right wood cutting technique. Then there is the search for a strong and lasting adhesive and the drying and polishing process, all of which would contribute to the high quality of a Kayan product.

“Not all types of wood are suitable to be made into butang baju Melayu. Some wood becomes splintered when you cut it into tiny sizes and that makes it unsuitable for the purpose. For example, the kemuning wood has a beautiful orangey yellow hue but it easily fragments when cut too small,” she explained.

The more suitable wood types include those grown locally and overseas but Shahmin had to travel quite a bit to find a local supplier.

“My husband had to go as far as to Kedah and Terengganu to source for the right kind of wood. Among our favourites are maple, walnut, rosewood, oak, jati, kembang semangkuk and nyireh batu.

“We also had difficulty finding the right kind of adhesive. Many available baju Melayu button studs are made almost entirely out of steel and so crafters use the soldering process to join pieces together. However, ours is a wooden product that has to be adhered to steel, so we cannot use that process. Instead, we have to find the right kind of glue strong enough to hold the two elements together for a long time,” he said.

She added that the polishing process was also an intricate procedure so as to ensure that each Kayan product was uniform in size, without even the slightest of variation.


The fine craftsmanship of Kayan products is the reason that it is selling like hot cakes since it first hit the market. It started with only four designs and today boasts 21 exclusive designs.

Kayan is registered with Kraftangan Malaysia and is now also involved in the production of brooches and cufflinks.

“In addition to selling on our website and Instagram page, our products can also be found on Zalora, Fashion Valet and at Mood Republic. There is also a demand for our products in Brunei and Singapore.

“Due to the huge demand for Kayan products, we decided to quit our jobs so that we could focus entirely on developing Kayan products.

“Before that, we had dedicated our nights and weekends to working on our products,” said the mother of one who previously worked in the banking sector while her husband, in logistics.

This Aidilfitri, Kayan is featuring four new and exclusive designs namely Legend, Ombre, Duo and Maple, sold at between RM70 and RM149 a set.


Talents contribute to building Malaysia’s first MRT

Posted on : 18-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National

(ADVERTORIAL) A TYPICAL day at work for most people involves a 9-to-5 job at the office.

But for the young talents of MMC Gamuda (a joint venture of Malaysia’s most decorated construction and engineering companies MMC Corporation Berhad and Gamuda Berhad), their daily routine revolves around building Malaysia’s fi rst Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) project – the KVMRT (Klang Valley Mass Rapid Transit) Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line MRT (Line 1).

The 51km MRT Line 1, which runs from Sungai Buloh through Kuala Lumpur before ending in Kajang, comprises both elevated and underground portions; the latter of which involves tunnelling more than 40 metres deep into the heart of busy Kuala Lumpur city.

Various professionals ranging from architects and planners to safety managers and engineers were hired when the project commenced in 2011 with Phase One of MRT Line 1 from Sungai Buloh to Semantan operational on December 16, 2016.

Phase Two running from Semantan Station to Kajang Station will be operational in July 2017.

Prior to the implementation of MRT in the country, foreign expertise were often called upon for any underground infrastructure projects.

But this has all changed with MRT Line 1 where talented Malaysians play a pivotal role in Malaysia’s largest infrastructure project.

One of these bright young talents is none other than Arziah Mohd Ahsim, a fellow Sarawakian who works as a specialist instructor in the project.

“My job involves conducting fire safety training for all site employees working underground on MRT Line 1,” said the 30-year-old who hails from Mukah.

The training, she explained, is held once a week with a maximum of ten trainees per class and comprises two stages – the first involves flashover fire fighting where everything burns in a confined space, while the second stage involves a tunnel fire scenario.

Arziah added that the underground fire training uses actual fire.

Now, Arziah holds the distinction of being the only certified female flashover training instructor in Malaysia.

When the role was fi rst offered to her, Arziah admitted that she did not feel confi dent that she would be able to handle the job but thanks to her supervisor’s faith and encouragement, this all changed.

“I love my job and cannot think of being in any other industry because I feel empowered to be doing something so important for the MRT project.”

She also felt encouraged that managers and engineers on the MRT project paid more attention to housekeeping rules after she informed them that fi res can be sparked by the tiniest and least expected of things.

While the construction industry is often typically stereotyped as a man’s world, the MRT project is seeing women like Arziah who are challenging the norm and making their mark in this industry as skilled and educated talents.

A Gamuda scholar, Noor Affida Raffika Mohd Nazari was deployed at the Maluri Station during the construction of MRT Line 1 for four years as a site engineer and has been serving as KLCC East underground station section head since the middle of last year.

“I’ve always wanted to be an engineer since young and I joined MMC Gamuda upon completing my studies at Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia in Batu Pahat, Johor,” she said.

In fact, she relishes the nature of the project, welcoming the challenges that came with it like interfacing with surrounding stakeholders in the vicinity of her stations.

She also attributed her success in growing from a site engineer to a section head in less than five years to all the developmental and training programmes that she has received with MMC Gamuda “I feel the opportunity to grow is there for all to see and I feel blessed that I have been able to develop my skill and talent with the company,” she expressed.

As Noor Affida and Arziah broke down barriers and overcame challenges in the industry, Ahmad Faizuddin Abu Bakar on the other hand, had to assure his family members who initially thought that his work on the MRT project involved the 3Ds (dangerous, dirty and diffi cult).

“When I joined MMC Gamuda as a graduate scholar four-and-ahalf years ago to work on the MRT project, some of my relatives thought I would be manually shovelling through the dirt underground,” recalled the 29-year-old from Besut, Terengganu who studied engineering at the prestigious Imperial College London.

On the contrary, Faizuddin’s job scope as a senior engineer is to ensure the station’s electrical services design and building process is carried out smoothly.

“As a fresh graduate on the job, I found it challenging in the first few years to review drawings on electrical design produced by consultants,” he said.

But as time went by, he honed his skills and the review process became easier.

“I am very proud of my role and often tell my friends and university mates that I am working for the biggest public transportation project in the country,” expressed Faizuddin, who became a keen advocate of the benefits of public transportation during his student days in London and hopes to see Malaysia’s public transport network emulate it one day.

As for Ruslan Mohamed, he is elated to be working on the MRT project for many reasons.

One of his most cherished experiences was being given the opportunity to be sent to Schwanau, Germany to gain knowhow on the operations of the tunnel boring machines (TBM).

“Five of us were sent for one-month training in Germany and we were the inaugural batch of staff working on MRT Line 1 to be sent there.

“I am very thankful for the opportunity to gain valuable insight on TBMs from the Germans,” he reminisced.

As Section head (Mechanical and Electrical) for MRT Line 1, Ruslan’s role is a carry through from the design and technical team, where he handles operations as well as coordinates with suppliers and contractors to ensure works are done within the set time frame and cost.

“The stations are also smart buildings where everything is remotely controlled through a communication system from a control centre,” he explained.

For instance, one does not have to go to a particular station to switch on the lights as it can be remotely done by the click of a button from a control centre.

The 43-year-old said despite having 20 years’ work experience in the M&E sector, working on the MRT was the most defi ning moment of his career.

“This is because I got to learn a lot of new things especially in relation to tunnelling.”

He also pointed out that working underground was especially challenging in terms of space constraints and making sure there were no clashes.

With handover of Phase Two expected over the next few weeks, Ruslan is currently involved in testing and commissioning works.

Asked if he would be involved in MRT Line 2 which is the Sungai Buloh-Serdang-Putrajaya Line that is scheduled for completion in 2022, the enthusiastic engineer replied with a resounding “Yes!”


Malaysia shared TN50 on labour at international labour conference

Posted on : 13-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia has shared its 2050 National Transformation (TN50) aspiration which offers opportunities to build decent work and stronger labour rights within a universal paradigm of sustainable development at the recent International Labour Organisation (ILO) related conference in Geneva, Switzerland.

Human Resources Ministry, in a statement, today said that Malaysia made an intervention during the Asia Pacific Group of the ILO (ASPAG) meeting, making reference to TN50.

The ASPAG met on the sidelines of the 106th session of International Labour Conference (ILC) to discuss on Decent Work for Sustainable Development.

“TN50 has been derived from the basic essence of the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goal, which is poised to transform Malaysia’s economy and enhance the citizen’s well-being regardless of race, colour and creed,” said the ministry’s statement.

Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot, when delivering a statement at the plenary of 106th session of ILC, shared Malaysia’s vision on green technology that accelerates the national economy and promotes sustainable development through the National Green Technology Policy.

The ministry said Riot touched on the Green Policy that had been enshrined in the Eleventh Malaysia Plan, 2016-2020, highlighting the notable developments that had taken place between Malaysia and ILO on issues of green job mapping, construction of database, capacity development and developing the occupational standards on green skills.

The ILC conference from June 11 to 13 themed, “Work In A Changing Climate: The Green Initiative”, brought over 4,000 delegates from around the globe to discuss the most pressing labour related issues facing the world today.


M’sian varsities among top 1pc of research universities in world

Posted on : 08-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National

PUTRAJAYA: All five public research universities in Malaysia have been listed in the top 1% of such universities in the world.

The five universities are University of Malaya (UM), Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) and Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), which showed an improvement in the world ranking list for the year 2017/2018 issued by Quacquarelli Symonds (QS).

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh told reporters here today that the achievement was good news for the country’s higher education landscape, especially in celebrating 10 years of initiative to stimulate and encourage growth in research, publishing and innovation.

“Of the 26,000 universities worldwide, the Malaysian research universities are now among the top 260,” he said adding that UM was ranked the highest among Malaysian Universities at 114, and on the verge of breaking into the top 100 universities in the world.

He said the greatest improvement was by UPM which jumped 182 places from 411 in 2013/2014 to 229 in the current world ranking.

UKM went up 72 places to 230 compared with 302 in 2016/2017 while USM improved by 66 places, from 330 in 2016/2017 to 264 in 2017/2018 and UTM went up 101 places from 355 in 2013/2014 to 253 this year, he said.

“The Ministry of Higher Education is confident that the strategic plans outlined in the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015-2025 will allow our universities to be among the world’s best 100 universities earlier than expected,” he said.

Idris said between 2007 and 2016, university researches had generated more than RM6.18 billion in revenue for the country and this was a 55.3% return on the initial research investment from the government totalling RM3.98 billion.

QS is the world’s first university rating agency recognised by the International Ranking Expert Group, and is considered an important reference for stakeholders worldwide.

QS’ rankings are based on six key performance indicators including academic reputation and ration of students to lecturers.

The ranking system also evaluates the research, teaching, marketability and internationalisation of each university.


Najib elated over Malaysia’s robust performance

Posted on : 01-06-2017 | By : sabah today | In : National

PUTRAJAYA— Datuk Seri Najib Razak today said he was elated over Malaysia’s robust economic performance in the first quarter of this year.

Speaking at the National Export Council Meeting here today,  the prime minister, who is also Finance Minister, said Malaysia’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) grew at 5.6 per cent with higher private consumption and investment as the main driver of growth supported by better performance in the external sector.

“Malaysia continued to register a trade surplus of RM18.9 billion,” he said.

Najib added that both export and import grew at 21.4 per cent and 27.7 per cent, respectively, to RM224.7 billion and RM205.8 billion, respectively, in the first quarter of 2017.

Present were International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed, Minister in the Prime Minister Department Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Dahlan, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek and Plantation and Commodities Minister Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong.

Najib also congratulated Second International Trade and Industry  Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan who was appointed a member of the National Export Council.