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How To Check Overseas Travel Blacklist Online

Posted by under Immigration Department of Malaysia on Tuesday 10 September 2013

How To Check Overseas Travel Blacklist Online

Posted by Financial Planner

Did you know you can be barred from travelling overseas if you are a criminal, a bankrupt, and default on tax, PTPTN, MARA, and other study loan payments? You can also be prevented from leaving the country if you breach immigration laws e.g. had overstayed in other countries, failed to pay levy or taxes for foreign workers etc.

According to the Immigration Department close to half a million Malaysians barred from leaving the country for various reasons. Most of them, including the high-profile individuals carrying titles like Tan Sri, Datuk Seri and Datuk and famous celebrities, are barred because they are either bankrupt or have tax-related problems. The majority of those banned (46%) were names forwarded by the Insolvency Department, followed by the Inland Revenue Board/ Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri (19%) for having unresolved tax-related matters and 14% were banned by the Immigration Department itself for breaching immigration laws.

To save you all the embarrassment and troubles at the airport, Immigration Department of Malaysia has created a website where Malaysian citizen can check their Immigration control status online prior to making any travel plans.

To check your status follow the steps below:

  1. Visit Immigration Travel Status Enquiry’s System (SSPI).
  2. http://sspi2.imi.gov.my/Default.aspx
  3. Enter your IC number in the text field.
  4. Press “Semak” or “Check” button.
  5. View your status.

The status you would want is “Tiada Halangan” or “No restriction”. If you find yourself blacklisted, you can call the department at 03-88801000 to find out exactly which government agency issued the order, their reason(s) and advice on how to get your name removed from the blacklist

A top UK varsity in Malaysia

Posted by under Actuarial Program on Sunday 1 September 2013

A top UK varsity in Malaysia

A top UK varsity in Malaysia

HERIOT-WATT University Malaysia (HWUM) is an Entry Point Project under the “Education” National Key Economic Area of the government’s Economic Transformation Project, which is poised to enhance Malaysia’s attractiveness as a destination for internationally recognised education.

“We are very proud to be part of this initiative to transform Malaysia into a high-income nation and play a key part in making it a regional education hub,” says HWUM chief executive officer and provost Professor Robert Craik.

“The selection of Heriot-Watt University to be the first university established in Putrajaya is a tremendous endorsement for our mission to deliver top-quality UK higher education with a focus on professionally relevant education and research.”

The Malaysian campus is Heriot-Watt’s second international branch campus following the success of its Dubai campus.

It is located at Menara PJH in Putrajaya while awaiting completion of its purposebuilt eco-friendly campus in mid-2014.

The university was chosen as winner of the major international tender by the Malaysian Government and Putrajaya Holdings Sdn Bhd, the company behind the delivery of the campus.

“Our presence in Malaysia provides an opportunity for thousands of Malaysian and international students to take advantage of the same top-level degree programmes we offer in Edinburgh.”

With a history dating back to 1821, HeriotWatt University is one of the top universities in the United Kingdom for business and industry, having established a reputation for world-class teaching and practical, leadingedge research.

The Sunday Times University Guide 2013 named Heriot-Watt as Scottish University of the Year for the second year running as well as the UK University of the Year for student experience.

It is also ranked in the top 4% of universities worldwide, with campuses in the UK, Dubai and now in Putrajaya.

Because of the quality of its degrees, employers actively seek out its graduates. That’s good news for Malaysians who want a high-quality UK degree but prefer to remain closer to home.

In fact, the experience for students at HWUM is unlikely to vary from those at the Edinburgh campus.

The curriculum is identical, the academic rigours and demand will be just as tough, and students here have the same access as the UK campus students for library and online support, the degree is the same and both flexible part-time and full-time modes of study are available.

However, the context of the programmes will be localised when it comes to case studies and application, while the number of electives will be dependent on relevance to the Malaysian context and demand.

And then there’s the lower cost of living and fees.

“For many students, especially the working ones or those with a family, it will be just like going to the UK for their degree without having to leave all the benefits of home,” says Craik.

“The Putrajaya campus students will be getting a global education with a UK degree from a highly ranked university with a 200year heritage, taught by a highly qualified and experienced faculty.

“They will do that on a purpose-built campus with a stunning lakeside location, complete with exceptional facilities equipped with a state-of-the-art teaching and learning environment, reflecting our status as a leading provider of high quality, professionally orientated education, knowledge transfer and research.”

HWUM is currently offering MSc Energy, MSc Petroleum Engineering, MSc Renewable Energy Engineering and MSc Construction Project Management degrees as well as an MBA programme. In 2014, it will also be offering MSc Business Psychology, MSc International Business Management, MSc Actuarial Science and MSc Strategic Project Management degrees.

For undergraduates, HWUM will also be offering a Foundation course leading to its degrees in Mechanical Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Petroleum Engineering, Business Administration, Accountancy & Finance, Business & Finance, Construction Project Management, Quantity Surveying and Actuarial Science by 2014.

For details, look out for the advertisement in this StarSpecial.

Should iPods Be Allowed in School?

Posted by under Industrial Training on Sunday 14 July 2013

Whether or not iPods should be allowed in school is debatable. The idea of putting rules and restrictions on the use of a device or gadget at school is one which is generally welcomed by teachers, and opposed by students. There are those who support the idea of allowing gadgets at school, however, not at the expense of academic performance. Then there are those who are totally against allowing them in school. There has to be some compromise so as to reach a consensus on this issue.


The iPod is a music player that has changed the way people listen to music. Even those who didn’t much listen to music regularly became music enthusiasts overnight. So, why are school authorities opposed to allowing this device in their premises? Well, there are many reasons why iPods are not allowed in schools. The most important of them is its irresponsible use which causes disturbance in the smooth running of the class. Let us find what else leads to imposing a ban on the usage of iPods in school.


The decision on whether to ban or allow iPods in school needs to be taken after considering both sides of the debate. If allowing it in school proves to be of more use rather than a hindrance in proceedings, then allowing it makes sense.

Whether iPods would affect a student’s performance or not is dependent solely on how the student in question uses it. The device can be used wisely to learn and also for relaxation. It is not just music files but educational content too which can also be stored and listened to and used. Therefore, the decision to allow or ban iPods in schools should be taken considering how useful it would be over and above the various cons. If the school authorities can ensure its proper use, and the students oblige, then there isn’t any reason why it should be banned in the school premises.

How Effective are Charter Schools?

Posted by under Industrial Training on Sunday 7 July 2013

Traditionally, a good school is characterized by teachers with advanced degrees, a small class size, and allocation of sufficient funds to meet every student’s educational needs. However, with the emergence of charter schools in the year 1992 (the first school opened), an attempt to improve the process of teaching was made. Today, there are more than 1.2 million students studying in over 4,000 charter schools in the United States.


Charter schools follow most of the rules and regulations that general public schools follow, but have more flexibility in their operations. They need to achieve certain goals, which are predetermined in their charters. These schools get less funding and facilities as compared to regular schools, and also do not charge anything for tuition. There is always more subscribing as compared to availability to these schools, which is why, though admission is open to all, it is more often than not done by a lottery-based system.


The problem with the fair assessment of charter schools lies in the impracticability of conducting an extensive and accurate study of their functioning across the country. Thus, most studies conducted to determine the effectiveness of charter schools have been limited to certain areas. They do not present a complete picture of how these schools function. The different aspects of their working and their effectiveness are discussed here.

Charter schools are basically public autonomous schools which abide by certain rules and regulations followed by regular public schools. The flexibility in their functioning allows them to innovate and improve the quality of education offered to students. Proponents of charter schools say that these schools not only improve the quality of education, but also offer students options to choose the subjects that interest them. However, questions over their effectiveness have been raised time and again. It is said that charter schools compete with traditional schools, and tend to skim the best students. It is also believed that the quality of education they offer is below par. The reason cited for this is lesser spending on students in comparison to traditional public schools.


As per Margaret Raymond, director of the Stanford University’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes, charter schools are, in a way, better than public schools in terms of student accomplishments. Many studies were conducted to find how effective charter schools really are. The conclusions or findings of these studies are…


This study was conducted on charter schools that were operating in New York. The findings of this report were:

  • One of the important findings of this evaluation project was that charter schools help an average student to close the Scarsdale-Harlem achievement gap in English by 66 percent, and mathematics by 86 percent. In this survey, performance of those students who attended a charter school from kindergarten through to eighth grade was taken into account.
  • Students studying in charter schools perform better in the Regents Examinations. Their score in this examination increases by 0.13 to 0.25 standard deviations.
  • The positive effects that charter schools have on students varies from one school to another; it can be greater than 0.20 standard deviations. For most schools, it ranges from 0 to 0.20 standard deviations.


The findings of RAND Corporation on charter schools were:

  • No marked difference between the performance of students from charter schools and those studying in regular public schools was observed.
  • It was earlier believed that charter schools would influence the functioning of regular public schools. Proponents of charter schools believed that these schools would put competitive pressure on the functioning regular public schools. Deterrents of charter schools believed that these schools tend to drain traditional schools of their resources. However, as per findings of the RAND Corporation, no such effect, either positive or negative, was observed.
  • As per one of the research findings of RAND Corporation, the probability of a student completing his/her graduation after attending a charter school increased by 7 – 15%.


A study conducted by Mathematica Policy Research revealed some interesting facts about the functioning of charter schools:

  • One of the findings of the study was that charter schools proved to be of great help for students with lower achievements. Higher achieving students, on the other hand, did not benefit much from studying in these schools.
  • Students from charter schools functioning in urban areas made great improvements in mathematics, in comparison to students of schools from non-urban regions.
  • Functioning of an average charter school didn’t help students much to improve their reading or mathematics skills.

Charter schools have been effective in bringing about an improvement in the performance of students. The New York City Charter Schools Evaluation Project, which was conducted on a long-term basis, presented a thorough analysis of how effective charter schools are. The Mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg, himself has supported the idea of running charter schools, though not all studies support this idea. However, one should understand that these schools were started with the idea of bringing innovation to the process of imparting education. The purpose would be served only if the original principles which laid the foundation of the idea of starting charter schools are followed sincerely.

8 Common Myths about Teaching

Posted by under Industrial Training on Sunday 30 June 2013

This beautiful quote by Joyce Meyer sums up the important role that teachers play in shaping our society. However, not all of us recognize the contribution of our teachers and, society as a whole, fails to empathize with them. While some think that a teacher’s job is easy, others are of the opinion that just about anyone can become a teacher if he/she wants to.


Eight Common Myths and Misconceptions About Teaching


This Buzzle article is all about the common myths prevalent about the noble profession called teaching, and why they are not myths in the first place. So, let’s get started!


This is probably the biggest misconception about the teaching profession, and probably the most widespread. However, the truth is far from it. To begin with, teachers are people who are well qualified in their respective fields of study. They are also masters of the pedagogical theory, which is a theory about how things should be taught and how one can be inspired to learn. Also, they need to have an idea about classroom management and student psychology.


Now it can be really annoying to a teacher if someone says that teaching is one of the easiest jobs around, because all one needs to do is teach for a few hours a day. Common people even believe that teachers are probably overpaid, because their day ends at 3 pm. However, teachers who are passionate about their job, work longer to come up with ways to make the subject appear more interesting to students and help them learn better.


The fact that teachers get a lot more holidays than other people, including the long summer vacations, is a big reason why more and more people decide to choose teaching as a career. However, good teachers choose to make better use of the break, by enrolling themselves for workshops on teaching, classroom management, and related stuff.


What else is a teacher expected to do, one may ask. However, the fact that a teacher has a lot many things to do than just teach, is unknown to many. A teacher has seminars and conferences to attend, and is responsible for organizing school events. An important responsibility of a teacher is to prepare the progress report of each student and discuss it with his/her parents. The teacher is also responsible for the all-round development of the child, while in school. However, they are not the ones who are solely responsible for the child’s learning, and this leads us to the next common misconception about teaching.


As we just discussed, teachers cannot possibly be the only ones responsible for how a child fares in exams or for that matter, his general attitude towards studies and learning. However, people fail to understand this, and tend to blame teachers for their child’s poor performance in academics. It’s a parent’s responsibility to see to it that the child does his/her homework on time, and devotes sufficient time to studies.


This is a widely prevalent myth, but as with the other myths, there’s hardly any truth to this. You can never judge a teacher by the test scores of the students. On the contrary, a good teacher is one who motivates students to overcome challenges, and instills in them a love for the subject. Interestingly, a teacher has immense influence on how a student perceives a subject. However, the scores are entirely dependent on the hard work put in by the student. I still remember our chemistry teacher from high school, who taught us so well that we could not help but fall in love with the subject. If that does not make a good teacher, then what does?


Many are of the belief that today’s teachers are not as dedicated as their erstwhile counterparts. Making such a statement is unfair to say the least, as even today we have teachers for whom teaching is less of a job and more of a calling. These teachers give all they can to create an ideal learning environment for their students, and motivate them to climb the ladder of success.


All teachers are not the same, as against what is widely believed. A statement that is true for one teacher is not necessarily true for the others. Every teacher is different and has a different approach to teaching.


It is sad to see that most of us have so many misconceptions about our teachers. Teachers ought to be respected for what they do, and we should never forget their immense contribution to our success in life.

How You Can Make Your Classroom More Successful

Posted by under Industrial Training on Sunday 23 June 2013

Philosophically, my beliefs as an educator continue to evolve and change the more I learn. Over the past seven years, I have been able to reflect on my teaching career and recognize the constant pillars as well as the changes based around my beliefs as an educator. Currently, I teach in a kindergarten, first and second grade classroom. I have held this position for six years and recognize my growth and confidence as a teacher. My confidence has grown because I am becoming more aware of my philosophy as an educator. I am more aware of how to find the best teaching resources available and put them to use.


Reflection upon my writer’s notebook that documented my intern year seven years ago, gives insight into how I initially saw my philosophies as an educator. With this reflection, I recognize some of my philosophies have changed and evolved over the past five years. This growth has improved my teaching and classroom. I also feel more confident in not recreating the wheel each year. Resources are available that have taught me to save time and focus more on the students.


As I reviewed my journal from my teaching Intern year, I was amazed to find how many questions I posed to myself. These questions were philosophical and required experience to be answered. Now I feel, I have answered many of those questions and no longer would ask them as questions, but rather would firmly state them as facts. For example, I questioned the idea of Choice Time. “What is the importance of Choice Time?” As I reflect on this question, I feel insulted and I am in disbelief with my doubt. One of my constant pillars about education, specifically early childhood education, is giving the students the ability to play! Choice Time is not “free” time.


Choice Time offers students real-world learning experience at an age when students are enthusiastic about discovering new experiences. Choice Time allows students to negotiate friendships, as well as share materials and ideas all while being engaged creatively. This philosophical belief was not completely formed until I had been in the classroom for two years. I now see the true value of Choice Time. Secondly, it is a great place to discover student’s interest. From there I can find units, lessons or supplies to help guide those lessons.


We had a student who entered our classroom as a first grader and missed the initial kindergarten year where most students establish friendships with the rest of the kindergarteners. Not only did he miss this critical period, he was also shy and reserved. I was nervous about how he was going to find friends. As I observed this student over the first few months of school, I realized it was Choice Time that was allowing him to meet his new friends. This student was an incredible block builder and Choice Time provided him the opportunity to help other students create more advanced structures in blocks. Students began looking to him for advice and seeking his approval of their latest structures. Instantly, he had a role in our classroom and became friends with many students.


One concern of mine early on as an educator was, how easily veteran teachers made teaching look. Although it seemed seamless, I realized that to be successful at any job, requires work. Sure, routines, schedule and school communities become easier to handle, but the daily lessons and units are still challenging. It’s essential to find resources to share. An easy solution is to use the Web and Google, best teaching resources, or specific units or lessons you would like to cover. Recreating the wheel takes up precious time. A lot of teachers have already created what you want to use. From there you can find lessons for teachers, by teachers and modify those lessons to best fit your room. That is just one simple strategy that has worked and made my classroom more successful.


Another philosophy I strongly believe in is the idea of multi-age classrooms. As an intern I questioned this notion for two reasons. I wrote, “With multi-age classrooms, are we recognizing and meeting students’ abilities at the appropriate grade level?” Secondly, “What is the value of only having an average of ten students per grade level, compared to a traditional classroom of twenty to thirty students all at the same grade level?”


What I have come to realize is that multi-age classrooms abandon the notion of “appropriate grade level.” In a multi-age classroom, we are better able to meet students needs at whatever “level” is just right for them. We can cross grade levels and meet the needs of the first grader reading at a third grade level, while supporting the first grade reader struggling to keep up with his peers. I have found, we can more appropriately support students because we have a wider range of learners. As for the second question I posed as an intern; I feel it is answered in a similar fashion. Although each grade level typically has an average of ten students, those ten students each have a specific set of needs, academically, socially and emotionally. It is easier to meet those needs when you have a wider range of student ability, and thus can group an accelerated kindergartener with a first grader who has similar learning needs.


Overall these are some of the things that have made my classroom more successful. They are focused around my philosophy in education, but can be applicable to anyone.

How Useful is Chunking for Memory Improvement

Posted by under Industrial Training on Sunday 16 June 2013

A concept in psychology, chunking refers to the grouping together of information into small units also known as chunks to facilitate memory improvement. These chunks are grouped in such a way that they are meaningful to the person and leads to increased retention. They are usually grouped according to semantic and perceptual properties. This is a great way to use short-term memory efficiently. The most common example would be remembering a phone number. So if the number is 5431234 it can be broken down into two chunks including 543 and 1234. Why this works is because chunking helps in breaking down long, irrelevant pieces of information into meaningful bits, thus helping short-term memory remember the chunks better.


The word chunking was coined by American psychologist George A. Miller in his paper, The Magical Number Seven, Plus or Minus Two: Some Limits on our Capacity for Processing Information. Published in 1956, this theory applied the concepts of information technology to psychology. With a number of studies to back up his claim, Miller claimed that short-term memory had the ability to utilize “seven plus-or-minus two” chunks. With numbers the memory span is around nine, which falls to around five when it comes to monosyllabic English words.

To chunk the information there are various methods that can be used like grouping, organizing and pattern-finding. The choice is often based on the information that needs to be grouped. Here are some common examples in which we group information.


Chunking of numbers is one of the easiest ways to memorize them. For example, chunking numbers to remember phone numbers.


Example: 472627607
Grouped as: Groups of three like 472, 627, 607 or groups of two and three 47, 26, 27,607.


The chunks are then memorized. The retention is facilitated further if there can be some link between the numbers. For example, a number like 7081984 can be broken down as 7/08/1984 to indicate the date, month and year. Similarly, the more relations and explorations that you find the better are the chances of remembering the numbers.


Like numbers, letters can also be clubbed into small chunks.


Example: XIBMSATMTVPHDX


Grouped as: X IBM SAT MTV PHD X


In this case, the six chunks are far easier to remember than 14 random letters. You can improve this further by finding a pattern between the sentences. So, I SAT for MTV before PHD is not a meaningful sentence but it is a great way to remember information.


Words or a list of things can be memorized by grouping them into an acronym using the first letter of the words.


Example: If your shopping list includes figs, apples, onions, tomatoes, bananas, and potatoes.
Grouped as: FAOTBP (Using the first letters of the items in the list)
Grouped as: Organize the first letters of the fruits together and then the vegetables, and then create chunks like FAB TOP.


You can further improve retention by grouping them as 3 fruits and 3 vegetables.

So, is chunking effective in improving short-term memory? According to Cambridge neuroscientist Daniel Bor it is. In his book The Ravenous Brain: How the New Science of Consciousness Explains Our Insatiable Search for Meaning he recognizes the effectiveness of pattern-recognition for memory retention and consciousness. According to Bor, chunking allows us to tap into the limits of our working memory (which is the temporary storage for essential and primitive forms of information). He goes on to give a fascinating example of an undergraduate volunteer in a psychology experiment with an average IQ and memory capacity. At the beginning of the experiment he was able to remember roughly 7 numbers in sequence, but in a period of 20 months he was able to increase the limit to 80 numbers in sequence using chunking for memory improvement. How did he do it? In Bor’s words,


This volunteer happened to be a keen track runner, and so his first thought was to see certain number groups as running times, for instance, 3492 would be transformed into 3 minutes and 49.2 seconds, around the world-record time for running the mile. In other words, he was using his memory for well-known number sequences in athletics to prop up his working memory. This strategy worked very well, and he rapidly more than doubled his working memory capacity to nearly 20 digits.


The process of chunking, which includes the search for chunks, memorizing them and recalling or using the chunks that have been built up, can vastly increase the limits of not only short-term memory but with constant practice even long-term memory. This strategy is used by many, including many memory champions.


Although its role as a tool for memory improvement is well-known, chunking or rather pattern recognition is believed to be the source of human creativity. According to Bor, Consciousness and chunking allow us to turn the dull sludge of independent episodes in our lives into a shimmering, dense web, interlinked by all the myriad patterns we spot. Thus, with chunking we can not only see connections but also feed our creativity and give our brain the much-needed boost it requires to remember things effectively.

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Posted by under Risk Management and Insurance on Friday 31 May 2013

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MAS shares heavily traded, analysts say sensible to buy rights shares now

Posted by under Malaysian Companies on Wednesday 29 May 2013

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia Airline System Bhd (MAS) shares and rights shares were the top two most heavily traded counters on Bursa Malaysia yesterday.

The rights shares, MAS-OR, which started trading yesterday, closed 7.5 sen lower to 10 sen with 544.819 million units done.

Its mother shares fell three sen to 37.5 sen, with 61.13 million shares done.

The rights have a reference price of 17.5 sen, which is derived from the difference between its subscription price of 23 sen and MAS’ shares’ closing price of 40.5 sen on Monday.

RHB Research analyst Jerry Lee said the rights shares probably saw a selldown from minority shareholders who might not want to subscribe to them.

“Shareholders would have to fork out an additional 92 sen to convert all four rights shares to the mother share. Retailers probably wouldn’t want to do that,” he said.

Under the corporate exercise to raise RM3.07bil from its shareholders by issuing the rights shares, where each share was entitled to four rights shares, each rights share can be converted into a share.

Analysts opine that it would be sensible to buy the rights shares at their current level, as they are “in-the-money”. At the current rights share price of 10 sen, coupled with the conversion cost of 23 sen, the cost for the investor would amount to 33 sen to obtain a MAS share.

The total cost of 33 sen represents a 4.5 sen discount to the mother share, which closed at 37.5 sen yesterday.

A local bank-backed research head said the risk investors would have to face was if the mother share price dropped below the total cost, which at its current 10 sen level, was 33 sen.

However, Lee pointed out that it would be a good decision to buy the rights shares at the current level, based on the long-term view of the company. “We are maintaining the view that MAS’ turnaround plan may materialise, based on better cost controls, route rasionalisation measures and the feeding in of oneworld alliance passengers.”

In the first quarter ended March 31, 2013, MAS’ operating statistics had improved, with its overall load factor up 310 basis points year-on-year to 74%.

“The first-quarter operating statistics were expectedly good, given that the first quarter of the year is usually seasonally weaker,” Lee said.

Quarter-on-quarter, total revenue passenger kilometres (RPK) grew 1.1%. In a recent note, Lee said that the RPK of MAS’ international flights during the quarter had expanded by 17.2% year-to-date. “We continue to believe that the oneworld alliance could help increase the company’s passenger feed,” he said.

Lee’s forecast is for MAS’ earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) levels to improve, and that the company would break even in terms of net profit in 2013.

To recap, MAS issued 13.4 billion rights shares as part of its plan to turn around the company. It also reduced the par value of its shares to 10 sen from RM1 previously, to set off RM7.86bil in accumulated losses as well as pare down its share premium.

Khazanah Nasional Bhd is the major shareholder of MAS with 2.318 billion shares, representing a 13.87% stake. If Khazanah subscribes for its full entitlement, then the rights issue would involve the issuance of about 9.3 billion rights shares, which could lead to MAS raising some RM2.1bil. The rights shares will cease quotation on May 14, while the last day for acceptance, renunciation and payment is on May 21.