Local councils must
clean up their act

THE drains are clogged, rubbish strewn everywhere.

Rats run around as mosquitoes breed in stagnant waters.

Children, some learning to walk, play in such unhygienic conditions.

This sums up the living conditions of the pockets of refugee communities in Ampang. Mostly from Myanmar, they live in small houses and make do with what little they earn from carrying out odd jobs.

Those staying there are mostly illiterate. They know many among them are sick and some have died. To them, it is a way of life.

Heading to the nearest hospital — Ampang Hospital — is a pricey affair. They instead rely on advice by sinseh who run traditional medicine shops nearby their homes.

Malay Mail Afternoon, on Jan 11, highlighted a possible rotavirus outbreak among the community in Ampang following the death of a 15-month-old baby on Dec 26. Another four children, between the ages of six months and three years were admitted to Ampang Hospital for the disease.

All of them were from Taman Bukit Teratai and Taman Mega Jaya.

Deplorable living conditions were seen at Kampung Tasik Permai and other surrounding areas.

Rotavirus can easily spread in such conditions.

The foreigners told our reporter and photographer many in their community were “sickly” with one saying her husband died recently from tuberculosis.

The sense of urgency by the authorities, however, is almost non-existent.

Ampang Jaya Municipal Council, who claimed to have sent its personnel to the areas, said they had yet to receive a report from the Health Ministry and state health department.

Why can’t the local council clean up the area?

Why didn’t the ministry or state health department notify the council regarding the death and other cases?

Didn’t anyone see the need to inform members of the public and residents living in those areas regarding the cases take precautionary measures?

Why the secrecy?

The local council, too, did not see the need to engage with the media regarding the matter.

A phone call was made to the council’s public relations officer Norhayati Ahmad on Friday at about 10.30am. She said she was at a meeting and would call back. She never did.

On Monday, another call was made at 8.58am. When asked what steps were taken by the council, she merely said they were awaiting reports from the health authorities.

She confirmed a team was sent to the site and offered no apology for failing to return Friday’s phone call. So much for public relations.

One wonders how the council attends to complaints, grouses or questions raised by residents.

Even worse, those managing the council’s Twitter account (@mp_ampangjaya) tend to block those who raise matters concerning Ampang — very unbecoming for a local authority.

It clearly shows the council lacks the experience or expertise in dealing with issues.

It is the task of local councils to serve the people and not the other way around. They must be proactive and be seen eager to safeguard the welfare of ratepayers.

The council must learn how to engage with the press and the people. It’s not about offering kuih-muih during press conferences or lip service over the phone. It’s about providing answers to queries and ensuring problems are solved quickly and effectively.

The ministry and state health department are also responsible in notifying the people about potential outbreaks in any area or state. It is not about creating fear or panic but keeping people informed at all times.

Residents have the right to know what is going on in their neighbourhoods.

All communities, local or foreign, must play their part in keeping their surroundings clean at all times.

The Ampang Jaya Municipal Council must proactively engage with the people beyond their weekly cooking and baking classes.

Other local councils should also not take their ratepayers for granted. They need to clean up their act.

A rotavirus outbreak, which originated from the Bukit Merah Laketown Resort, near Taiping, last year, affected over 50 children and adults.

We cannot and must not allow a similar situation to happen again.

HARESH is executive editor of Malay Mail. He can be reached at haresh@mmail.com.my or on Twitter @HareshDeol


Safee: Where’s home?

SHAH ALAM — PKNS striker Safee Sali is excited the new season kicks off this Saturday where he and his new teammates will face Felda United.

However, the veteran revealed with the team having no proper home venue, they are distracted and having difficulty focusing.

“I can’t wait to play against Felda at Tun Abdul Razak Stadium, in Jengka, on Saturday, but knowing we are still in limbo as to where we will be playing our ‘home’ matches, does worry me,” said Safee.

“This should not be happening especially just before the start of the new season.

“I don’t blame the club management but the organisers, Football Malaysia Limited & Liability Partnership (FMLLP), who should have done their job properly,” said the 32-year-old after the team’s new jersey and bus launch, yesterday.

PKNS are struggling in their search for a home ground even as the Super League is about to kick off.

Shah Alam Stadium was supposed to be PKNS’ home, however due to lighting problems, matches cannot be held at night.

Safee said FMLLP should have done their job early on instead of checking the stadium’s conditions and worthiness to hold matches at night at the last minute.

“It is disappointing and frustrating. We just got to know the bad news this week. So what we can do?” said Safee, who was a peripheral figure last season when he turned out for Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT).

If Shah Alam Stadium is out of the question, then the team will have to make do with Lumut Stadium in Perak as their home.

“Playing in Lumut is not good as we will lose our fans,” said Safee.

“Playing without our own fans supporting and cheering us on is pathetic, but if this is our only option then we have no choice.

“To hold matches at 5pm at Shah Alam Stadium because of the lighting issue, is not feasible either,” said Safee, who hopes the Red Ants will be able to find another suitable home venue as soon as possible.

Meanwhile, coach E. Elavarasan said the management set the team a target of a top five finish in the league and one title.

“I’m optimistic. I hope they will settle (home ground issues)soon. What’s important is doing our best to achieve the targets set.

“Safee is doing well and he’s been familiarising himself with the other players, including our imports, especially Patrick Wleh,” he said.

Perak land midfield general Toski

IPOH — Perak have signed Serbia-born Faton Toski from Albanian Super League club Laci to bolster their squad ahead of their first league match of the season against Pahang.

The Kosovo international midfielder, 29, is known for his stint in Germany’s Bundesliga when he played for Eintracht Frankfurt from 2006 to 2010 and VFL Bochum from 2010 to 2013.

Perak FA secretary and team manager Datuk Jamal Mohd Aris said Toski was handpicked by coach Karl-Heinz Weigang.

“Weigang chose Toski because he is a player of high calibre. He performed well in our pre-season friendly against UKM on Saturday and he will be an important player,” he said.

Perak have also signed two other new import players in Yashir Pinto, 25, from Melaka United and Vladislav Mitkov Mirchew, 29, from a Bulgarian club OFC Nesebar.

They have also roped in Nzarin Nawi from Johor Darul Ta’zim (JDT) and Zaquan Adha from JDT ll, along with national vice-captain Sharom Kalam from Selangor and playmaker Hafiz Kamal, who was close to signing for Perak last season before he opted to join Selangor.

Defender Thiago Junior, 32, is the only foreign player retained. The Brazilian is in his fourth season with Bos Gaurus.

More challenges await UniKL

KUALA LUMPUR — UniKL players have been told to keep their feet firmly on the ground even though they are leading the Malaysia Hockey League (MHL).

The stern warning came from experienced former player Baljit Singh who is aware overconfidence can lead to the downfall of any team.

“We have to be realistic and not think too much about the six points, but rather the nine points that are at stake this week,” said Baljit.

“We need to keep up the winning momentum and I have reminded the players to keep their feet firmly on the ground as we have a tough road ahead.”

UniKL will take on TNB Thunderbolts today before playing UITM on Friday and KLHC on Sunday.

On paper they should be able to beat TNB Thunderbolts and UiTM, but KLHC are a different proposition.

“We have two good penalty corner specialists in Najmi Farizal and Aleem Bilal, but we are still unable to create enough penalty corners,” said Baljit.

“We also need to be more lethal as we tend to miss sitters and put undue pressure on ourselves,” he added.

Karolina Pliskova

Confident Pliskova

MELBOURNE — For Karolina Pliskova, the hardest work is done.

The fifth-seeded Czech, runner-up at the US Open last year, stormed into the second round of the Australian Open yesterday with a 6-2, 6-0 thrashing of Sara Sorribes Torm of Spain.

Until she reached the final in New York, a run that included victory over Serena Williams in the semifinals, Pliskova had never gone beyond the third round at any of the Grand Slams.

But success breeds confidence and with the first hurdle negotiated, the 24-year-old says she will be able to settle down and focus on her title bid.

“If I pass the first round then I feel I can be dangerous for all the players and I can play better and better as it goes on,” Pliskova said.

“Reaching the final at the US Open was a huge experience for me.

“I was waiting for this chance for a long time and I was just happy I could go even further.

“Even when you’re not playing your best, somehow you have to win because I know I can be dangerous deep in the tournament, quarters and semis and when there are big players I can beat them.”

Pliskova has never lacked for confidence but there is nothing like reaching a Grand Slam final to make you believe you can go even further.

Pliskova, who won her opening event of the year in Brisbane earlier this month, hit the most aces on tour in 2016 — her total of 530 was more than 200 more than the next best, Williams.

Should the seedings pan out in Melbourne, Pliskova could face Williams again in the semifinals, a match she would relish.

“I like to play on big stages, to play better players than me, it’s always challenging” she said.

“So somehow I have to get there — that’s for me the biggest problem so far — once I am there I am not scared about my tennis. I can still lose but it’s good tennis.”
— Reuters

Heather Watson reuters

Djokovic makes light work of Verdasco

NOVAK DJOKOVIC may have cursed the draw for throwing up Fernando Verdasco as the first opponent in his Australian Open defence but the tough match-up against the Spanish giant-killer ultimately proved a blessing in disguise.

The Serb launched his bid for a record seventh title at Melbourne Park with an impressive 6-1, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 win over the man who knocked Rafa Nadal out in the first round of last year’s tournament.

Djokovic was forced to save five match points to beat Verdasco at the recent Qatar Open and was broken twice during a thrilling second set under the lights of Rod Laver Arena.

But the second seed defended brilliantly to defuse the veteran lefthander’s power game and closed out the two-hour 20-minute clash.

“I knew winning the second set would be crucial because I definitely didn’t want to give him wings,” Djokovic said after setting up a second round clash against Uzbek Denis Istomin.

“From one perspective it was good to have the very tough first-round match, because it made me prepare better.”

Nadal, meanwhile, showed there was plenty of life in his battered body yet when he cast aside Florian Mayer 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.

The Spaniard sealed the victory with a 39th winner, the 25th off his awesome forehand, and raised his arms to the skies to accept the salute of the crowd on the court where he won the title in 2009.

In another match, Ivo Karlovic smashed a jaw-dropping 75 aces as he beat Horacio Zeballos in a record, 84-game marathon which stretched more than five hours.

The Croatian serving specialist yelled in delight and pranced around the court as he finally sealed victory 6-7 (6-8), 3-6, 7-5, 6-2, 22-20.

The match beat the Australian Open’s previous tiebreak-era record of 83 games, set in Andy Roddick’s defeat of Younes El Aynaoui in 2003.

At five hours 15 minutes, it was one of the longest matches in the tournament’s history, although still short of the five hours, 53 minutes set in the 2012 men’s final.

In the women’s draw, Heather Watson (left) outlasted Samantha Stosur 6-3, 3-6, 6-0 while Agnieszka Radwanska survived a dogfight to beat Tsvetana Pironkova, 6-1, 4-6, 6-1.

She will next play Croat Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, who beat Chinese qualifier Wang Qiang in three sets.
— Agencies

Konta finds her stride

  • BRITISH ninth seed Johanna Konta overcame a stuttering start to defeat Belgium’s Kirsten Flipkens 7-5, 6-2 in 96 minutes as she begins her attempt to go one better than last year when she made the semifinals. She faces Naomi Osaka next. The Japanese player survived hitting 55 unforced errors to beat Thailand’s Luksika Kumkhum 6-7 (2-7) 6-4, 7-5 in two hours and 25 minutes.

  • FORMER world No 1 Caroline Wozniacki left nothing to chance as she demolished Arina Rodionova, beating the Australian 6-1, 6-2 in just over an hour. The 17th seeded Dane faces Croatia’s Donna Vekic in the second round.

  • THIRD seed Milos Raonic hits 18 aces and 46 winners to wrap up a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Germany’s Dustin Brown in an hour and 32 minutes. The 26-year-old Canadian, a semifinalist last year, will next face either Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller or American Taylor Fritz.

  • SLOVAKIAN sixth seed Dominika Cibulkova eased past Denisa Allertova, who hit 47 unforced errors, beating the Czech 7-5, 6-2 to progress to the second round, where she will face Taiwan’s Hsieh Su-wei.

  • RUSSIAN 14th seed Elena Vesnina won an astonishing 91 per cent of her net points as she beat Romania’s Ana Bogdan 7-5, 6-2 in an hour and 22 minutes to progress to the second round.

  • EIGHT seed Dominic Thiem struggled to convert his break points but survived a first set wobble to come from behind and beat Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, 6-3 in two hours and 54 minutes. He was joined by French 18th seed Richard Gasquet secured a routine 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Australia’s Blake Mott to set up a second-round clash with Argentina’s Carlos Berlocq.

  • ROBERTO BAUTISTA AGUT made quick work of Guido Pella, with the Spanish 13th seed winning a staggering 97 per cent of first serve points to beat the Argentine 6-3 6-1 6-1. Agut, who won the Chennai Open earlier this month, faces Japan’s Yoshihito Nishioka in the next round.

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