Students return to school with face masks on due to haze in Malaysian state

UNTV News   •   September 11, 2019   •   926

Students in the Malaysian state of Sarawak returned to school on Wednesday (September 11) donning face masks due to thick haze coming from forest fires in neighbouring Indonesia.

On Tuesday (September 10) more than 400 schools in Sarawak were ordered to close after the smoke from the Indonesian side of the island drove up pollution to unhealthy levels.

Forest fires have raged through parts of the Indonesian island of Sumatra and the province of Kalimantan on Borneo in recent weeks, forcing the government to send in thousands of military and police to douse the flames.

Indonesia’s neighbours have regularly complained about smog caused by its forest blazes – often started by farmers trying to clear land for palm oil and pulp plantations – though Jakarta has denied the accusation, saying forest fires had also started in other countries across the region. (REUTERS)

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Coronavirus outbreak inspires bursts of mask fashion creativity in Indonesia, Malaysia

UNTV News   •   June 26, 2020

Designers in Indonesia and Malaysia are adding their artistic touches to reusable face masks, providing essential supplies and style and uniqueness amid the pandemic.

In the Indonesian capital of Jakarta, Nicholas Septian Sugandi’s print shop had been losing business throughout his country’s mass-scale restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus, but thanks to a new product introduced in May, lost business has been “recovered”.

Sugandi’s shop has been printing customers’ faces onto reusable face masks so that they can “look like themselves” when wearing it.

Each of the reusable masks takes around 30 minutes to produce, and cost 50,000 Indonesian rupiah ($3) each. The print shop has received hundreds of orders.

Wearing a face mask remains a mandatory practice across Indonesia.

In neighbouring Malaysia, textile designer Hafiz Drahman has utilised traditional designs from around the region to create colourful cloth masks with interchangeable filters.

In particular, Hafiz uses Batik, which is a traditional Javanese art that uses wax and ink to decorate cloth, and is derived from the Javanese word “titik,” meaning “dot”.

“So, as a designer, I saw that as an opportunity to use the cloth that I had, that is Batik textiles, and turn it into face masks,” Hafiz said from his workshop in Shah Alam, on the outskirts of capital Kuala Lumpur.

Although face masks are not compulsory in Malaysia, people are encouraged to wear them to protect themselves in public areas.

Hafiz currently sells his masks at 20 ringgits ($4.68) each.

Indonesia currently has 50,187 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 2,620 deaths, the highest total in Southeast Asia, while Malaysia has recorded 8,600 cases and 121 deaths as of Friday morning (June 26). (Reuters)

(Production: Yuddy Budiman, Embrahim Harris, Angie Teo)

Malaysia’s Mahathir resigns, sparks political turmoil

Marje Pelayo   •   February 25, 2020

Mahathir Mohamad

REUTERS – Minister Mahathir Mohamad has submitted a letter of resignation to Malaysia’s king, his office said on Monday (February 24), amid talk of forming a new governing coalition.

The fate of Malaysia’s ruling coalition had been in doubt after surprise weekend talks between it and opposition groups on forming a new government that would exclude Mahathir’s anointed successor Anwar Ibrahim.

It was not immediately clear if Mahathir could form another government with the support of other parties, but his party, Bersatu, has also quit the ruling coalition, its president, Malaysian home minister Muhyiddin Yassin said on Facebook.

The tussle between old rivals Mahathir, 94, and Anwar, 72, has shaped Malaysian politics for decades and tension has persisted, despite their alliance to win 2018 elections based on a promise that Mahathir would one day cede power to Anwar.

“I am impressed with his position…to not bow to groups that want to seize power without an agenda for change,” Anwar told reporters outside his party headquarters after the two met, but without saying what they had agreed.

Anwar added, “I am satisfied with his position, that it is the principle that we need to uphold. The reform agenda must be continued.” He described the meeting as having been “very good”.

On Sunday (February 23), Anwar had accused Mahathir’s party and “traitors” in his own party of plotting to form a new government with the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), the former ruling party ousted in 2018 amid graft accusations.

Sources said Mahathir’s party and a faction in Anwar’s party met officials from UMNO and the Islamist party PAS in efforts to form a new coalition and possibly back Mahathir to serve out a full five-year term as prime minister.

Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan flag carriers divert all flights over Iran

UNTV News   •   January 8, 2020

Bangkok Desk – The flag carriers of Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan said Wednesday they would divert flights over Iran’s airspace in face of its escalating tensions with the United States.

Singapore Airlines, Malaysia Airlines and China Airlines were among various carriers who announced they would stop flying through Iran on the same day Tehran attacked a military base in Iraq housing US troops.

“In view of the latest developments in the region, all [Singapore Airlines] flights in and out of Europe will not be flying over the Iranian airspace. We will continue to monitor the situation closely,” the Singaporean carrier said in a Wednesday statement to EFE.

It was confirmed that the airline’s low-cost subsidiary Scoot would also avoid Iran. Developments came shortly after the United States Federal Aviation Authority banned US airlines from overflying Iraq, Iran, the Gulf of Oman and the waters between Iran and Saudi Arabia, following days of escalating tensions in the Middle East.

The conflict between Tehran and Washington was further fueled Friday following the killing of Qasem Soleimani, a top general of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

After Wednesday’s missile attack, Malaysia Airlines released a statement announcing its intentions to avoid Iran’s airspace.

“Malaysia Airlines does not fly over the airspace of Iraq on its flights to/from London, Jeddah and Medina. Due to recent events involving Iran, Malaysia Airlines will be avoiding the conflict airspace of Iran,” the airline said. “Safety is of utmost importance to Malaysia Airlines.”

The airline is among the more cautious carriers following high-profile incidents that marred its operations last decade, including a March 2014 flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur which was struck by a missile while cruising over eastern Ukraine during the ongoing War in Donbass.

The attack on flight MH17 killed all 298 people on board, only four months after Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 disappeared over the Southern Indian Ocean with 239 passengers on board.

Meanwhile, Taiwan’s national carrier, China Airlines, said it would avoid both Iraqi and Iranian airspace.

“In light of the events in the region, all China Airlines flights bound to Europe will not overfly neither the Iranian nor Iraqi airspace. We will continue to attentively monitor the situation and will adjust the flights in consequence,” a spokesperson for the carrier said in a statement.

Earlier on Wednesday, a Ukranian International Airlines Boeing 737 carrying 176 people crashed and killed everyone on board after taking off from Iran’s Imam Khomeini airport in Tehran, according to the Middle Eastern country’s emergency organization. EFE-EPA

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