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Tuesday, December 7, 2021

WHO advises against blood plasma treatment for Covid-19

 Hospital staff checks the health monitoring devices installed in a Covid-19 coronavirus ward of a Civil hospital in Ahmedabad.- AFP PIC

PARIS: Covid treatments using plasma taken from the blood of recovered coronavirus patients should not be given to people with mild or moderate illness, the World Health Organization said Tuesday.

Convalescent plasma showed some early promise when given intravenously to people sick with Covid-19.

But in advice published in the British Medical Journal, the WHO now says that "current evidence shows that it does not improve survival nor reduce the need for mechanical ventilation, and it is costly and time-consuming to administer."

It made a "strong recommendation" against the use of blood plasma in people who do not have serious Covid-19 symptoms and said that even for patients with severe and critical illness, the treatment should only be given as part of a clinical trial.

Convalescent plasma is the liquid part of blood from a recovered Covid patient that contains antibodies produced by the body after being infected.

It was one of the array of potential treatments investigated early in the pandemic, but has shown limited benefit in clinical trials.

The WHO said its latest recommendations were based on evidence from 16 trials involving 16,236 patients with non-severe, severe, and critical Covid-19 infection.--AFP

100-day report card: Transport expert gives Wee an ‘F’

 

Failure to resolve the KVDT2 project has led to increased safety risks and higher costs, says a consultant.

KUCHING: Wee Ka Siong’s first 100 days as transport minister have been anything but a success, says a transport consultant, highlighting the lack of progress on a stalled railway project.

Rosli Azad Khan, who has over 30 years’ experience, said the stalled Klang Valley Double Tracking Phase 2 (KVDT2) is the number one transport issue in the country.

The KVDT2 project involves the rehabilitation of 265km of railway tracks from Salak South in Kuala Lumpur to Seremban and from Simpang Port Klang near MidValley in Kuala Lumpur to Port Klang.

The project has been delayed twice since 2017, cancelled by the Pakatan Harapan government, reinstated, then cancelled again by the Perikatan Nasional government, leading to a suit by the contractor, Dhaya Maju-LTAT.

Rosli said the failure to resolve the issue has led to increased safety risks for railway workers and users as well as delays in commuter and cargo services resulting in losses for the economy and Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad (KTMB).

Wee Ka Siong.

He said the inability of trains to travel at full capacity because of track conditions made commuter services unfeasible.

“People from Klang and Seremban and all the stops along these routes have to endure massive daily traffic jams on the roads to Kuala Lumpur, just to get to work.

“Not only do they have to spend more time on the road but the cost of travelling is more expensive. He has failed to look into their predicament by delaying the decision to simply resume KVDT2,” he said.

Rosli said Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob should take note of Wee’s performance as it had a direct impact on the people and the wider economy in terms of travelling costs and loss of productivity.

He said port congestion is another issue that Wee has failed to deal with, resulting in higher costs to logistics services.

“KVDT2 is ahead of the East Coast Rail Link in terms of priority. So, too, are road accidents and changes in policies for electric vehicles, an area we are so far behind compared to other Asean countries. HSR is also not a priority at the moment, and yet the transport ministry is treating it as if it is our No. 1 priority,” he said. - FMT

PKR pushes for ‘zero logging’ and ‘no dams’ in Baram

 

Baram, 250km from Kuching, is the site of the controversial Baram dam project that was cancelled.

KUCHING: Three PKR candidates contesting in state seats that are part of the Baram parliamentary constituency have pledged to push a “zero logging” and “no dams” policy.

Baram, some 250km from the capital city of Kuching, is the site of the controversial Baram dam project that was cancelled.

The project had, in the past, raised fears of environmental destruction and displaced native communities in the area.

In a statement today, Roland Engan (Mulu), Philip Jau Ding (Telang Usan) and Elias Lipi Mat (Marudi) said Baram was rich in natural resources though this has been exploited by the elites at the expense of the normal citizens who still lack access to basic infrastructure.

So, they said, they will fight for a “zero logging” and “no dams” policy which is critical to prevent environmental destruction and land erosion which have led to floods in the area in recent years.

“We will push for a reforestation policy that can generate revenue for the people of Baram through a carbon credit scheme.”

The trio also pledged to reform native customary rights (NCR) land ownership, provide better infrastructure especially access to clean piped water, electricity, roads and internet connectivity, and health facilities, among others.

The Mulu, Telang Usan and Marudi seats are currently held by Gabungan Parti Sarawak. - FMT

Kampung Baru residents will be compensated more, pledges Shahidan

 

Residents of Kampung Sungai Baru in Kampung Baru have complained that they will be compensated less than RM250,000 for vacating their homes to make way for a development project.

KUALA LUMPUR: Federal territories minister Shahidan Kassim has dismissed claims by residents of Kampung Sungai Baru in Kampung Baru that they will be compensated less than RM250,000 for vacating their homes to make way for a development project.

He said the residents will be informed of the actual compensation amount after they meet with the developer later this week.

“The information being passed around is incorrect. They will be compensated more.

“If the residents are not satisfied with the amount, they can meet me instead of talking about this issue on social media. That won’t solve the problem.

“I have just assumed the post of federal territories minister and will solve this problem in the best way possible. There is no problem that cannot be solved,” Sinar Harian quoted him as saying yesterday.

Shahidan was speaking to reporters after attending an event to hand over push carts to hawkers at Taman Tasik Metropolitan Kepong.

Last Saturday, almost 20 residents of Kampung Sungai Baru urged the government to look into the issue of compensation, after they claimed they were offered between RM200,000 and RM250,000 to vacate their flats.

The residents of terrace houses in the area also voiced concern that they would also be inadequately compensated for vacating their land, stating that the amount they were offered was not enough to buy a new house in Kuala Lumpur. - FMT

PKR lawmaker says Sabah given 'crumbs', demands lion share allocation

 


PKR's Api Api assemblyperson Christina Liew is unhappy with the RM5.2 billion federal allocation given to Sabah in 2022, claiming the Borneo state continues to receive crumbs, like in the previous budgets.

She demanded a lion share of at least 30 percent out of the RM332.1 billion allocated for the 2022 federal budget to be provided to Sabah.

"The amount (RM5.2 billion), which is just a small fraction of the overall budget for the nation, cannot cover the state's varied needs in the areas of infrastructure development, education and health, as well as other vital sectors.

"We had expected a bigger allocation from the federal government to assist Sabah in its alleviation of the health crisis and road to economic recovery," Liew said while debating the 2022 Budget in the State Legislative Assembly yesterday.

"We desperately need funds for flood mitigation projects and landslide remedial measures, and also to improve the drainage system in the flood-prone districts of Kota Kinabalu, Penampang and Putatan, and the surrounding areas of Likas, Kolombong, Inanam, Telipok, Menggatal and Sepanggar."

Liew stressed that Sabah needs additional funding to repair or reconstruct roads and bridges damaged by natural disasters and to build new water treatment plants to resolve long-standing water supply woes.

According to her, since the 1999 Big Flood, Sabah has been experiencing similar occurrences almost every year.

The floods that hit Sabah in January this year

"This year alone, torrential rains caused flood havoc and landslides, resulting in loss of lives and property on the west coast and in the northern and interior parts of the state in January, June and September. At present, we are facing the North-East monsoon season," she said.

Liew noted that Sabah recorded the highest incidence of absolute poverty, at 25.3 percent in 2020, as compared with 19.5 percent in 2019.

She urged the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah-led state government to pressure Putrajaya to review the disproportionate federal allocation, given the significant economic disparity between Sabah and the peninsula and Sabah's high level of poverty.

"Against this scenario, I implore the state government to appeal to the federal government to give Sabah at least 30 percent of the overall budget of RM332 billion for 2022," said Liew, who is also Tawau MP.

In the state assembly on Dec 3, Sabah Chief Minister Hajiji Noor tabled a surplus budget of RM110.68 million for 2022.

Hajiji announced that the state government proposed to spend RM4.596 billion, with revenue estimated at RM4.707 billion.

During the debate in Parliament on Nov 9, Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Bung Moktar Radin urged Putrajaya to set aside 10 percent of the federal budget for Sabah, to allow the state to manage its own funds so that the state would not continuously lag in terms of development. - Mkini

Guan Eng: Dr M has 'faulty' memory, unfair to pin blame on advisor

 


Former finance minister Lim Guan Eng has questioned Dr Mahathir Mohamad's memory, calling it "faulty" after the former premier singled him and one of his former advisors out in the nonagenarian's upcoming book.

This came after Mahathir reportedly claimed in his new memoir that he had to put a stop to an advisor to the then finance minister for overreaching his authority on civil servants. 

The DAP secretary-general said during his 22-month tenure as the finance minister, he had many trusted advisors including the ministry's secretary-general and his deputy. 

"It is not fair of Mahathir to pin the blame on one trusted advisor. I am sure Mahathir is aware of this. He too had so many trusted advisors involving many portfolios, some of them were not civil servants.

"If he recalls, he even threatened to sack me three times from the cabinet but we took this in our stride and persevered in carrying out our official duties. 

"Personal sentiments should be secondary,” Lim was quoted as saying by Free Malaysia Today.

According to a separate report, it said that in the book an unnamed senior DAP figure who was an advisor to the finance minister had unauthorised involvement in government business, and this could provide ammunition for Umno supporters to exploit racial issues against DAP.

The report said Mahathir did not name Lim’s advisor but noted that an elected representative in the Klang Valley had been his close confidant at the Finance Ministry during the Pakatan Harapan administration.

Among others, the individual was delegated "a lot" by Lim and came to believe that he could wield power over civil servants.

The advisor purportedly participated in business negotiations involving the government despite not being empowered to do so and resorted to threats.

He was said to threaten a property developer who was facing financial problems in a joint-venture project with the government to develop a multi-billion ringgit complex in Kuala Lumpur.

"There were also occasions when this advisor spoke publicly on behalf of the government despite having no standing to do so," Mahathir was quoted as saying in his book.

Former finance minister Lim Guan Eng

Nevertheless, ministerial proposals have to be agreed on collectively by the cabinet, and Mahathir reportedly wrote that Lim always referred to him and sought his approval on nearly all his initiatives.

The book titled ‘Capturing Hope: The Struggle Continues for a New Malaysia’ is his second memoir and covers the period from his retirement in 2003 up to his return to power in 2018. It is expected to be available in major bookstores for RM100 per copy later this month.

In the new memoir, Mahathir said Lim sought his approval on almost all his initiatives, adding that every time he proposed something to the cabinet, “he would end it by saying ‘if the prime minister agrees'.”

DAP's Damansara MP Tony Pua, who served as the political secretary to the former finance minister, denied the allegations by Mahathir.

In a statement, Pua said he was a convenient target for anyone unhappy with the Finance Ministry trying to clean up former prime minister Najib Abdul Razak's mess. 

The DAP lawmaker added that Mahathir is biased and prejudiced against him. - Mkini

Najib and lawyer in Covid scare, want hearing and tomorrow's decision postponed

 Datuk Seri Najib Razak. - NSTP file pic

KUALA LUMPUR: The much awaited decision involving Datuk Seri Najib Razak's appeal against his corruption conviction and sentence in the SRC International Sdn Bhd case scheduled for tomorrow may not happen after all.

The former prime minister's lead counsel Tan Sri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah has written to the registrar of the Court of Appeal to vacate not only Wednesday's date but also today's hearing which had been set for Najib's application to include fresh evidence involving his case.

Shafee sent a notice to the registrar's office late yesterday evening to vacate both dates as his son, Muhammad Farhan, had tested positive for Covid 19.

He said the entire defence team, and also Najib, had been classified as close or casual contacts with a Covid 19 positive person and the panel of judges involved in the appeal needed to be informed of it.The senior lawyer said the team only found out about the matter when one of the firm's lawyers received a call about 5.40pm yesterday that her mother had tested positive for the virus.

He said the entire legal team involved in Najib's case had come into close contact with their colleague's mother on Saturday during a celebration at their house.

"Shortly after we received news of what had happened to our colleague's mother, all the lawyers in our firm did an antigen test and Farhan tested positive in three different test kits.

"The other lawyers have tested negative for now," Shafee wrote in the notice.

He also pointed out that Najib too had come into contact with all of them yesterday as he had gone to the law firm to discuss his case.

As a result, he said, all their MySejahtera status were classified as close or casual contacts of Covid 19 victims.

Shafee said all of them were now waiting for a suitable time to undergo PCR tests.

"It is our social responsibility to inform the court about what has happened.

"We humbly pray that the court will vacate Tuesday (today) and Wednesday's dates due to this. It is not something we expected but it is our responsibility to inform the court to ensure the safety of everyone involved in the appeal hearing," he said in the notice which was also sent to the Attorney General's office.

Meanwhile, the New Straits Times (NST) has learnt that the court has not provided any response to Shafee's notification and the prosecution was prepared to proceed with today's hearing as scheduled at 9am.

Najib, 69, is appealing to quash his conviction on seven charges of abuse of power, money laundering and criminal breach of trust (CBT) involving RM42 million of SRC International funds.

The Pekan member of parliament was found guilty of all charges in July last year and High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali sentenced him to 12 years jail.

Najib was also fined RM210 million for committing the crime. - NST