Survey finds 61% believed country heading in wrong direction

Voter sentiment towards the Pakatan Harapan government has taken a slide following the handling of various contentious issues, a Merdeka Center survey found. These include the Jawi lessons in vernacular schools, statements on civil servants’ pension scheme and critical allowances. The polls found that 61% of those surveyed believed that the country was headed in the wrong direction while only 26% felt it was moving on the right track. Economic matters were the biggest concerns faced by Malaysians, followed by leadership, administration, politics and racial issues. The survey also showed that Chinese and Indian voters prefer PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim over Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. (The Star Online)

Penang to become a cashless state by March 2020

The Penang government aims to fully adopt and enable e-wallet transactions throughout the state in two months’ time. Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the initiative is in line with the Federal Government’s e-Tunai Rakyat programme scheduled for implementation from Jan 15 to March 14 this year, which encourages the seamless use of cashless payments among Malaysians. In a separate report, the Penang City Council (MBPP) will upgrade 528 closed circuit (CCTV) cameras with video analytics to optimise the use of the cameras in the effort to turn Penang into a safe state. Work to upgrade the CCTV, which would be capable of detecting and identifying criminals, would be done this year at a cost of RM12 million. (The Star Online)

Acting education minister role for PM likely

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has, in a surprising turn of events, emerged as a candidate to fill the vacant Education Minister’s post. A Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia supreme council member said its leaders were made to understand that their party chairman may take over the post in an acting capacity before handing it over to his permanent choice. The Prime Minister had held a special meeting with the management-level staff of the Education Ministry on Friday. Many had expected the reshuffle to be made last Thursday but instead the spotlight was on Maszlee who announced his resignation as Education Minister. The much-overdue reshuffle is expected to be announced any day after this Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting. (The Star Online)

Jho Low denies being ‘mastermind’ behind 1MDB

Fugitive financier Low Taek Jho has said he only acted as an intermediary for deals involving 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), denying in an interview published on Monday that he had set the stage for the theft of billions of dollars from the state fund. Low faces charges in the United States and Malaysia for his alleged central role in defrauding up to US$4.5 billion from 1MDB, founded by former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, and is the subject of the US Department of Justice’s largest ever anti-kleptocracy case. Low has consistently denied wrongdoing and says the charges against him are politically motivated. Low said his “professional connections” had helped Malaysia build strong ties with key allies, particularly Saudi Arabia, boosting haj pilgrimage quotas for Malaysian Muslims and investments in financial, real estate and other sectors in the country. Low declined to divulge his current location but confirmed he was offered asylum in August last year, without naming the country offering asylum. (NST Online)

Leave a small gap in the window, say experts

Experts have cautioned about health concerns linked to poor indoor air quality (IAQ). Malaysia Green Building Council chief executive officer Tang Chee Khoay said fresh outdoor air was needed as it had the potential to impact a person’s performance whether at work or in school. Those who slept with air-conditioning turned on throughout the night might wake up feeling “not sharp” and those who worked in a room with closed windows might feel easily tired due to increased carbon dioxide (CO2) levels, he said. Hence, it was important to allow a small gap of fresh air to enter a room. As most commercial buildings are fitted with a centralised air-conditioning system, Tang said those systems are designed to allow fresh air in from the outside. But he lamented that most people chose to close the outdoor air-conditioning vent to save cost. (The Star Online)