Employers get cost-savings, especially in electricity, workspace, overheads, overtime and real estate costs.© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd
GENEVA: Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, the main driver of climate change, hit record highs last year and have continued climbing in 2020 despite measures to halt the Covid-19 pandemic, the UN said Monday.© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd
The “will of the people” is a phrase often repeated in politics. It is seen as the overarching principle in democracy — we elect people to represent us, so that they can help us realise our wishes and attend to our fears.© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd
The world according to President-elect Joe Biden is set to begin taking shape on Jan 20 when he formally takes over as the 46th President of the United States.© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd
Second, the command-and-control mechanism carried out with good intentions have had a downside on people. Curtailed business hours and reduction in the number of customers have resulted in lower income for businesses.© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd
In Malaysia, we indulge in capitalism and lean towards a progressive society. Yet, when asked, no one really knows what that means.© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd
The member states have had ties with each other since ancient times. This can provide good stories for television shows and films.© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd
Everyday, their homework is delivered through WhatsApp. If this is the best that an urban school in Ampang can deliver, imagine what it is like in rural schools where the Internet situation is far worse.© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia on Monday denied Israeli media reports of landmark talks between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman during a visit by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd
About 25 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 1.0 per cent at 29,552.83. — Reuters pic NEW YORK, Nov 23 — Wall Street stocks rose early today after another upbeat coronavirus vaccine announcement offset worries about rising virus cases.
British drugs group AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford said they will seek regulatory approval for their coronavirus vaccine after it showed up to 90 per cent effectiveness.
The news comes on the heels of announcements by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna that have supported stocks the last couple of weeks despite mounting coronavirus cases that have prompted renewed restrictions in some states.
About 25 minutes into trading, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 1.0 per cent at 29,552.83.
The broad-based S&P 500 gained 0.9 per cent to 3,588.40, while the tech-rich Nasdaq Composite Index advanced 0.7 per cent to 11,940.17.
This week’s calendar includes a closely-watched report on consumer confidence, the release of minutes from the most recent Federal Reserve meeting and the “Black Friday” kickoff of the holiday shopping season.
Among individual companies, Boeing rose 1.6 per cent after European Union Aviation Safety Agency chief Patrick Ky said he expects the Boeing 737 MAX to return to service in January following agency safety reviews.
The statement comes only days after US air safety regulators approved the jet to return to service. — AFP
Singapore's Ministry of Manpower investigating firm after ex-employee committed suicide allegedly due to harsh working conditions
SINGAPORE, Nov 23 — The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) is investigating allegations made against a firm here where a former employee has committed suicide allegedly due to harsh working conditions.
A Facebook post written by another former employee, which has since made its rounds on social media, claims that her ex-colleague, a young Malaysian worker, had taken her own life in December last year after she faced “constant bullying and insults” by the director of the firm.
The post also claimed that her employment was terminated after she failed to achieve sales targets.
The Facebook post was accompanied by a suicide note, which the writer had obtained from the mother of the Malaysian worker. In the note, the deceased mentioned the burden she faced from the sudden loss of income, abuse at work and false accusations that were made against her during the four months she was working at the firm.
The Facebook post claimed that the deceased was accused of sleeping on the job during working hours even though she was resting for a late shift and was not scheduled to work at that time.
She was also allegedly told by the director of the firm to pay tax penalties amounting to more than S$1,000 for breaching her employment contract.
TODAY is not naming the parties involved because the case is still under investigation.
The ministry said that the Malaysian worker did not make a report before her death. About 11 months later, her mother contacted the ministry on Oct 29.
“We have reached out to (the worker’s mother), and are looking into the allegations raised about the workplace,” MOM said.
First job in Singapore
Apart from the director of the firm, eight former employees and two who are now working there spoke to TODAY on the condition that they not be named.
TODAY also interviewed the mother of the deceased, who said that her daughter used to be a bubbly girl when she first started working at the firm in August last year.
This was her daughter’s first job in Singapore and she took it up to lessen the financial burden of her family, the mother added.
She later found out that her daughter had to work very late and skip dinner often, and was constantly berated at work.
She said that her daughter once told her that she thought about quitting her job because she was losing sleep over it.She said that her daughter had applied for six-day leave to attend a wedding of a family member in Penang in September last year.
The leave, which was originally approved, was later reduced to four days.Her daughter was told that her job contract was terminated on the night she was supposed to go on leave.
She was allegedly told by the firm’s director that she had breached the contract and had to pay the tax penalties.
The mother, who lives in Muar, Malaysia, believes that this was what spurred her daughter to commit suicide.
Asked why she raised the incident almost a year after her daughter’s death, she said that she had no money and passport and did not know how to navigate the legal process.
The movement control order in Malaysia due to the Covid-19 pandemic also prevented her from entering Singapore.
It was when a former employee of the firm reached out to her that she asked for help to file a complaint to the relevant authorities.
She told TODAY in Mandarin: “My daughter was a very filial, bubbly and compassionate child who, after the job, lost joy in her life. I only want to seek justice as there is nothing that can bring back my daughter now.”
Several of the former employees who spoke to TODAY claimed that working conditions at the firm were “unbearable”.
They also claimed that they had been verbally abused and insulted repeatedly during their employment. Some of them worked there for as long as eight months while a few left within days.
However, a current employee, who has been working with the firm for over a year, said that while the director of the firm can be hot-tempered, he has good intentions.
“He just wants his employees to be better, for their own good,” she said.
‘Baseless and malicious accusations: director
During an interview that lasted more than an hour last Tuesday (Nov 17), the firm’s director repeatedly told TODAY that this was a “coordinated business attack”.
He has made a police report on the harassment that he faced online.
He said that the deceased’s employment contract was terminated due to her poor work performance and was told to pay tax penalties because “the company has the responsibility to collect the tax amount from the employee”.
Later, through his lawyer, the director said in a statement that he understands that the deceased was struggling with work demands since it was her first time working in Singapore.
He added that she was also “dealing with some issues in her personal relationship” last year.
However, he said that the timing of the viral post is “highly suspect” given that the suicide took place nearly a year ago.
The director also said that he “strenuously denies” any bullying and verbal abuse at the workplace.
“The Facebook group containing numerous baseless and malicious allegations have been set up by disgruntled ex-employees, and I believe that the posts contained in the group are intentionally designed to hurt me, my family and, most importantly, my business.
“I have since contacted her family out of goodwill to express my shock at this group of disgruntled ex-employees who have chosen to publicise her suicide at her family's expense for the purposes of maliciously hurting my business.
“I also apologised because their daughter's suicide would not have been publicised if not for my business competitors wanting to maliciously and wrongfully accuse my company of contributing to her suicide.
“While I am a strict and demanding employer, I am also a fair one, and I believe many of my present employees will attest to the positive work culture at my company.” — TODAY
MILAN, Nov 23 — AC Milan striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic will be out of action for at least ten days after picking up a muscle injury in the 3-1 league win against Napoli at the weekend, the Serie A club said today.
The 39-year-old scored twice before suffering the injury as the Serie A leaders recorded their first league win in Naples for more than 10 years.
A club spokesperson said it could take between two and three weeks for Ibrahimovic to recover.
The Swedish striker, who has scored 10 goals in six league games this season, will likely miss Europa League matches against French side and Group H leaders Lille and Scotland’s Celtic on Thursday and on December 3, respectively.
Ibrahimovic could also miss the final group game against Sparta Prague. Milan are second in Group H with two wins out of three matches.
The Serie A leaders have 20 points after eight league games and face 15th-placed Fiorentina on Sunday. — Reuters
SHAH ALAM, Nov 23 — The Selangor Zakat Board (LZS) confirms that one of its staff at its headquarters in Section 13, here, is positive for Covid-19.
LZS, in a statement today, said the personnel was confirmed positive yesterday after undergoing a screening test on Thursday and had been sent to undergo treatment at a hospital.
According to the statement, the personnel, prior to this, was found to be a close contact of a close family member and had been ordered to undergo self-quarantine for 14 days at home since November 11.
“During the period, the personnel did not go to the LZS office and did not have any dealing with any other staff or clients.
“LZS is working closely with the Ministry of Health Malaysia to ensure all actions to check the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic are implemented quickly,” said the statement.
LZS also said a comprehensive disinfection had been implemented at the place of work involved under the stipulated guidelines.
The statement further said that customers dealing with LZS were urged to comply with the stipulated standard operating procedure at all the branch premises of the institution. — Bernama
BAGAN SERAI, Nov 23 — Kerian police have set up a monitoring team to conduct patrols in flood affected areas to ensure that there was no looting.
District police chief Supt Mazuki Mat said the team would carry out patrols to check crime and ensure standard operating procedures (SOP) compliance to curb the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Flood victims need not worry about their belongings as police personnel would continuously patrol the flood-hit areas,” he told reporters at flood relief centre at Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Parit Haji Aman here today.
As at 5.30pm, 168 people from 63 families from 11 villages in Gunung Semanggol are being accommodated at the relief centre.
Another relief centre in Kerian, SK Changkat Lobak, which was opened yesterday, is housing 75 people. — Bernama
KUALA LUMPUR: It has been slightly over a year after the first case of Covid-19 was reported in China, yet the world is still puzzled over the true origin of the virus.© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd
PARIS, Nov 23 — Paris Saint-Germain continue to be plagued by injuries but coach Thomas Tuchel is optimistic the fit-again Kylian Mbappe can make the difference in tomorrow’s vital Champions League encounter with RB Leipzig.
PSG host the German club at the Parc des Princes having lost two of their opening three matches in Group H. Beaten 2-1 in Leipzig three weeks ago, another defeat here could push last season’s Champions League runners-up to the brink of elimination in the group stage for the first time since the Qatari takeover of the club in 2011.
Mbappe missed the defeat in Germany because of a hamstring injury, but returns here looking to end a run of seven Champions League games without a goal in 2020.
Neymar is also expected to start after the world’s most expensive player made his return from several weeks on the sidelines as a substitute in Friday’s 3-2 defeat by Monaco in Ligue 1.
“If ‘Ney’ and Kylian don’t score then it has a big impact on us. They are decisive boys and I hope he (Mbappe) will be able to score tomorrow,” said Tuchel when asked about the form of the France striker in Europe.
Mbappe is fresh from scoring twice in the 3-2 defeat in Monaco, making him the leading scorer in Ligue 1 with nine goals from just seven appearances and taking him to 99 goals in total for PSG since signing for the club in August 2017.
“We need goals and we need him to put in a big performance, and I get the feeling he is ready. He played for France and then he scored against Monaco, so now is the time for him and ‘Ney’ to be decisive again,” added Tuchel.
Injuries and suspensions have hampered the French champions ever since the season started and will do so again at the Parc des Princes on Tuesday.
Mauro Icardi, Julian Draxler, Idrissa Gana Gueye and Thilo Kehrer are all on the sidelines along with Spanish left-back Juan Bernat, who is recovering from a knee operation and last week told AFP he hoped to be back by “February, or mid-March”.
Midfield duo Marco Verratti and Ander Herrera were today rated as doubtful by PSG. Centre-back Presnel Kimpembe is suspended after being sent off in Leipzig last time out. — AFP
LONDON, Nov 23 — Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said the Premier League’s top six could be left without 11 fit players unless changes are made to protect the welfare of stretched squads.
Already depleted by an injury crisis, the Reds will play three games in six-and-a-half days this week.
Klopp’s men saw off Leicester City 3-0 in yesterday’s late Premier League kick-off and will welcome Atlanta to Anfield in the Champions League on Wednesday before travelling to Brighton for Saturday’s 12.30GMT kick-off.
“If we keep playing Wednesday night and Saturday 12.30, I am not sure we finish the season with 11 players, all the top six or seven,” said Klopp in an impassioned interview with Sky Sports, the largest domestic rights holder of Premier League games.
Under the terms of a £4.5 billion (RM24.5 billion) deal for three seasons, Sky have the first pick from each round of games with BT Sport choosing their headline match second.
But Klopp said broadcasters should adapt to the circumstances of a season like no other, with matches crammed into the calendar to make up for the lost time of a three-month postponement to last season due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Everybody tells me it is difficult, but it is difficult for the players. That’s what is difficult. The rest is just a decision on a desk in an office,” added Klopp.
“If someone tells me again about contracts I go really nuts because the contracts were not made for a Covid season.
“We all have to adapt. You stand here with a facemask; would you have thought a year ago you would go somewhere with a facemask and we cannot be close? That’s the situation. Everything changed, but the contract with the broadcasters is still ‘we said this so we keep this’.”
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said his side had been “set up to fail” when faced with the same situation earlier this month when they travelled back from facing Istanbul Basaksehir in the Champions League on a Wednesday night before a lunchtime kick-off away at Everton.
Klopp claimed to even have considered sending a youth team to Brighton to prevent more injuries.
Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Jordan Henderson, Thiago Alcantara, Xherdan Shaqiri and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain missed the win over Leicester, while Mohamed Salah was absent due to a positive coronavirus test.
“We will go there shaking,” said Klopp. “I think about sending the points.”
And the German stressed his complaints are not based out of self-interest.
“It was never about us when I spoke about it, it’s about all the players. It’s about the England players, all the players who play the European championship in the summer,” he continued.
Klopp and Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola have been outspoken campaigners for the Premier League to return to using five substitutes, like all other major European leagues and the Champions League.
However, when City and Liverpool faced each other earlier this month, only three of the possible combined six changes were made, while Klopp used two of his three substitutions against Leicester in the final minute.
“Why we have to change late is we constantly have to think that someone will go down,” Klopp explained.
“We cannot change early because another one has a muscle injury and you end the game with nine players.” — AFP
Dana Inc assembly technicians wear face masks as they assemble axles for automakers, as the auto industry begins reopening amid the coronavirus disease outbreak, at the Dana plant in Toledo, Ohio, US, May 18, 2020. — Reuters pic WASHINGTON, Nov 23 — US business activity expanded at the fastest rate in more than five years in November led by the quickest pickup in manufacturing since September 2014, a survey showed today in an indication the economy keeps making progress at clambering out of the Covid-19 recession even as infections surge.
IHS Markit’s manufacturing and services sector purchasing managers’ indexes both topped even the most optimistic forecasts in a Reuters poll that predicted both would level off, offering a counterweight to data suggesting economic momentum was slackening after the third-quarter’s torrid rebound from an historic plunge last spring.
The readings also offered one of the first pictures of the state of the US economy after a presidential election three weeks ago in which Democrat Joe Biden beat incumbent Republican President Donald Trump.
“The upturn reflected a further strengthening of demand, which in turn encouraged firms to take on staff at a rate not previously seen since the survey began in 2009,” IHS Markit Chief Business Economist Chris Williamson said in a statement.
Markit’s manufacturing index climbed to 56.7 from 53.4 in October, above the median forecast in a Reuters economists’ poll of 53. A reading above 50 indicates expansion.
The services index, meanwhile, rose to 57.7 — the highest since April 2015 — from 56.9 a month earlier. The Reuters poll had pegged the expectation at 55.0.
Markit’s composite index — a blend of the manufacturing and services readings — increased to 57.9 from 56.3 in October. It was also the highest since April 2015.
Markit said its subindex for employment also rose at a record pace as well, potentially welcome news in a US job market that still features more than 10 million people without work who had been employed before the Covid-19 pandemic erupted in the first quarter.
With the election now over and subsequent news of successful Covid-19 vaccine candidates, Markit said survey respondents were the most optimistic about the year ahead since May 2014.
Nonetheless, Markit’s survey results about current activity are at odds with a number of other recent readings on the US economy that are far less favorable as a result of a resurgence in Covid-19 that has lead to record after record of new daily infections and rising deaths.
Last week, October retail sales reported from the Commerce Department showed the weakest increase in six months , while the Labor Department reported the first weekly increase in new claims for unemployment benefits in a month.
Meanwhile, a clutch of high-frequency indicators tracked by economists for a real-time reading on activity showed further signs of flattening out.
It is clear the US economy in the fourth quarter will come nowhere close to matching 33.1 per cent annualised growth rate in gross domestic product posted in the July to September period, but just how much it has slowed remains less certain. The Atlanta Federal Reserve’s “GDPNow” model currently estimates activity in the current quarter expanding at a 5.6 per cent annualised rate. — Reuters
KOTA KINABALU, Nov 23 — Health workers in Sabah fighting hard against the Covid-19 pandemic are screened for mental health issues from time to time to ensure their safety, says Sabah Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun.
Masidi, who is also the Sabah State Government’s official spokesman on Covid-19, said any mental health problems detected among the health workers would be referred to the relevant parties including psychologists to ensure the problem is managed and resolved well.
“Various measures have been taken especially by the Sabah State Health Department (JKNS) to detect mental health problems (among health workers) so that it can be overcome and not affect their duties.
“Besides that, health workers can also directly contact the Psychosocial Support Line created by the Mental Health and Psychosocial Support Service (MHPSS) to get help on mental health,” he said in his daily press conference here tonight.
He said this when answering a question on Bernama’s report yesterday regarding the Sabah Medical Services Union’s (SMSU) call to enhance measures and strategies to take care of the mental health of health workers currently facing difficult challenges due the Covid-19 pandemic.
Masidi said the Sabah State Health Department also ensured that all health workers were up for the challenge, among others by providing them briefings on their duties as well as what they were expected to face.
“Before moving to a red zone, the staff will be given a ‘pre-deployment’ briefing, then while on duty they will be given an ‘intra-briefing’ from time to time and after, the ‘post-deployment’ briefing to ensure their mental health is always maintained.
“Besides that, each unit head is also responsible to set the schedule for health staff to ensure that they get adequate rest and are not stressed in carrying out their duties,” he said.
He said if there was a shortage of health workers in an area, especially a red zone, JKNS would mobilise personnel immediately from green or yellow zone areas to ensure the staff were not overburdened.
“When these health workers are ill they need to be treated immediately, therefore this mobilisation is important to ensure that the responsibilities of the sick health workers can be taken over immediately and effectively. With this measure, we ensure that the effectiveness of the fight against Covid-19 is not reduced,” he said.
Responding to the issue of payment of allowances and freezing of health workers’ leave which was feared to affect their motivation, Masidi hoped that it could be resolved at the departmental level, with a win-win situation for all parties involved. — Bernama
KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) is looking for three individuals to assist in a corruption case involving a syndicate misusing entry and exit stamps at Malaysian borders.© New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd