Emotional intelligence skills for handling stress

Emotional intelligence (EI) skills are helpful in managing emotions when stressed, a psychology counsellor from Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) told an audience of over 100 teachers/non-academic staff of St Xavier’s Institution.

The crowd listening to the talk on stress management.

The crowd listening to the talk on stress management.

Speaking on stress management during a workshop held at the main campus today, Dr Yasmin Othman Mydin said that stressful situations can evoke negative emotions like anxiety, depression, fear and anger. “When you have too many things happening in your life, negative emotions pop up to affect your thoughts and behaviour.”

She emphasised that EI skills are needed to manage, cope and solve the emotional issues within one self and with others. She cited the four EI skills sets as self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and social skills.

“Firstly, recognise, understand, and identify your emotions when stressed. If you are aware, then you can better manage your emotions, rather than react with anger.” She explained that anger, sadness and fear are natural emotions; however it all depends on how you manage them so that they do not become intense or control you, and you are more stable while you wait to find a solution.  

Dr Yasmin lists out the four components of emotional intelligence.

Dr Yasmin lists out the four components of emotional intelligence.

She remarked that self-awareness will help prevent your emotions from over-ruling or disturbing you and you will better understand how you tend to react to a particular situation. “Then, in future, you are more alert and will respond more appropriately.”

As for social awareness, Dr Yasmin stated that it is the ability to understand the emotions of others, to show empathy, concern and care. “When you understand another’s emotions, it will help you deal with that person more rationally.” Social skills, she continued, relate to communication, building a bond, and teamwork.

Breathing relaxation technique…Dr Yasmin requests the audience requested to close eyes and focus on their breathing.

Breathing relaxation technique…Dr Yasmin requests the audience requested to close eyes and focus on their breathing.

She highlighted the benefits of developing EI skills. “You gain personal resilience to face situations in life. As you build inner strength and keep emotions in check, you become a better leader and relate better with others. People with less resilience are more easily shaken, angry and sad.

Dr Yasmin, who is also a senior lecturer and cognitive behaviour therapist at USM, said that when one experiences stress, the elements involved are emotions, behaviour and physiology (e.g. gastritis).

A teacher speaks about the work stress in the schools.

A teacher speaks about the work stress in the schools.

“Stress is in the eye of the beholder. It largely depends on how one thinks of the event. There is a connection between thoughts, emotion and behaviour. Emotional disturbances are largely due to the process of your thinking. So you listen to your thoughts.

“An event becomes stressful when we think negatively, we feel negatively, and act negatively,” she pointed out, using the analogy of relationship break-ups, which can lead one to think they are useless and so isolate themselves and not want to talk.

Dr Yasmin (centre), flanked on her left by Jasmine Emmanuel of WOU, poses with the participants.

Dr Yasmin (centre), flanked on her left by Jasmine Emmanuel of WOU, poses with the participants.

The workshop was jointly organised by the Penang Regional Centre and the School of Humanities & Social Sciences (SHSS). Among those present was SHSS Deputy Dean Jasmine Emmanuel.

WOU workshop on research skills for Thai PhD students

(8-15 April, 2019)

WOU conducted a workshop for seven doctoral degree students from Silpakorn University (SU) to equip them with practical knowledge and skills in undertaking research and preparing dissertations.

The PhD students from Silpakorn University.

The PhD students from Silpakorn University.

The five-day workshop on "Refining Research Skills" for the second-year PhD students from SU, a national university in Thailand, was held at the main campus from April 8th to 15th. It was organised by the Centre for Professional Development & Continuing Education (PACE) and facilitated by the School of Education, Languages and Communications (SELC).

The workshop aimed to assist the students in completing their PhD. The SU students were Prueksa Dokkulard, Napaporn Boonsri, Massaya Rungaroon, Waleerat Puttasri, Chonthicha Manosin, Naraya Sirapanuwat and Praiwan Khantasiri.

Grace Lau talks about the University.

Grace Lau talks about the University.

The workshop kicked off today with an introduction to WOU by Director of Public & Student Relations, Grace Lau, who highlighted that WOU to date has produced 2,726 graduates from the undergraduate programmes and 1,029 graduates from the postgraduate programmes.

Speaking on ‘Pedagogical Transformation’, Acting Vice Chancellor Prof Zoraini Wati Abas mentioned transforming the teaching and learning at WOU to address the skills needs of students and employers, as well as to improve sustainability, enhance retention, and increase enrolment.

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She declared that of the 23, 120 students enrolled in WOU as at March 2019, 62% are aged 19-32 years, adding that young learners have short attention span, demand quick responses, require just in time knowledge, and value recognition. She said that they would prefer biteable learning content delivered just in time, fast responses via LMS and WhatsApp messages, and badges or mini-certificates for their efforts.

Meanwhile the Dean of SELC, Prof Balakrishnan Muniandy, in his presentation on ‘PhD Journey: Before, during and after’, offered tips on managing life before, during and after their doctoral degree.

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SELC Lecturer Dr Tan Saw Fen shared on the use of the NVivo qualitative data analysis computer software. She said the software helps the researchers to organise, store and retrieve data so that analysis can be done more efficiently and rigorously. “Both textual and visual files, like audio, video, emails, images, spreadsheets, online surveys, social and web content, can be imported into NVivo for analysis. The use of query and visualisation tools in NVivo helps researchers to make sense of their data.”

There were also presentations of other WOU researches, such as developing a scale to measure students’ psychological capital, identifying the challenges to APEL, and studying the impact of student engagement on performance.

Prof Phalachandra Bhandigadi (centre), flanked by Dr Tan (4th from left) and Arathai Din Eak (4th from right) of SELC, pose with the students after the workshop.

Prof Phalachandra Bhandigadi (centre), flanked by Dr Tan (4th from left) and Arathai Din Eak (4th from right) of SELC, pose with the students after the workshop.

Promoting cultural harmony through photos

The Malaysian culture, cuisine, lifestyle and harmonious spirit were the focus of the exhibits displayed by the full-time students at the Photo Exhibition held in the main campus today.

A total of 21 groups of students pooled their resources together to present their best work at the exhibition titled ‘Ethnic Relations in Malaysia’.

Staff and students admiring the exhibits.

Staff and students admiring the exhibits.

The project was organised by Lecturer Rabikha Hasni from the School of Humanities & Social Sciences (SHSS) as part and parcel of the students' assignment for the MPU3113/03 Hubungan Etnik course. It was designed to be a team effort of the students from different ethnic backgrounds to produce their final project photo and descriptive write-up.

On hand to present the award certificate to the winners at the Photo Exhibition was Assoc Prof Dr S Nagarajan, the Dean of the School.

Dr Nagarajan (centre) with the winning teams.

Dr Nagarajan (centre) with the winning teams.

The Best Photo award was won by the Cendol Ais Kacang group for their excellent snapshot of a devotee carrying kavadi during the Thaipusam festival. The group members were Chew Chin Chai, Tan Hui Fen, Gangasri Buvaneswaran, Sumiyyah Zainul Abiddin and Lee Ling Hui.

Rabikha (right, foreground) views the Best Photo exihibit.

Rabikha (right, foreground) views the Best Photo exihibit.

The Orkids team who showcased a mixed marriage in pictures won for Best Creativity. Its members were Nur Rashada Abdul Mubarak, Mindy Ooi, Lim Ching Li, Nerroshini Manoraj and Jegatheswary Mani Kumar.

Orkids group photo exhibit on mixed marriages.

Orkids group photo exhibit on mixed marriages.

The Best Theme award went to Nasi Kandar who highlighted Sports Excellence in Malaysia and past football legends like Soh Chin Aun, Mokhtar Dahari and Arumugam. The team comprised of Lew Tze Wei, Yim Zhen Xian, Diwagar Ravi and Dhenaaratchagan Madiyalagan.

Two members of the Nasi Kandar group, which won Best Theme, explain their concept.

Two members of the Nasi Kandar group, which won Best Theme, explain their concept.

Fellow students and staff who visited the exhibition were enlightened about the local happenings through the photos and explanations offered.

University welcomes first batch of DBM students

WOU welcomed SPM school leavers to its newly introduced full-time Diploma in Business Management (DBM) programme during the inaugural March 2019 intake.

The inaugural batch of Diploma in Business Management students

The inaugural batch of Diploma in Business Management students

In his opening remarks at the orientation held at the main campus today, Chief Operating Officer/Registrar Yeong Sik Kheong motivated the students to set their vision higher, using their Diploma as a stepping stone towards obtaining a degree and other achievements.

He advised them to learn from their academic journey and university experience, adding that assignments, exams and interaction with fellow students can potentially serve as valuable lessons for later work life. “University is not just about studies and passing exams but preparing yourself to cope with the adult world.”

Yeong tells the students to value their learning experience at WOU.

Yeong tells the students to value their learning experience at WOU.

He reminded them that though the university environment is different from a school setting, they are expected to always respect the lecturers, administrators and the other staff of WOU. He also requested that they converse in English in the classroom and among themselves, declaring that it is rude to speak in dialects in mixed company.

He advised the new students to freely explore and ask questions, and to hone their soft skills for more effective learning. “You can gather the technical knowledge from the Internet but the interaction, communication, development of soft skills, finding out facts by yourself, doing research, learning how to get along, will make you stand out and prepare you for the future,” stressed Yeong.  

WOU Bursary Award recipients Nur Syaza and Clarissa (2nd and 3rd from right).

WOU Bursary Award recipients Nur Syaza and Clarissa (2nd and 3rd from right).

He later presented the WOU Bursary Award to two freshmen, Clarissa Koh and Nur Syaza Erina Muhammad Rafie, who enrolled with excellent SPM results, and informed all the new students that they can apply for the Merit Scholarship every semester if they do well.

Earlier, Penang Regional Centre (PGRC) marketing & admissions officer Sasikanth Mariappan welcomed the new students while PGRC director Ching Huey Ling introduced her team.

Ching introduces her team. At right is Sasikanth.

Ching introduces her team. At right is Sasikanth.

Freshman Karishma Abdullah, 19, from Convent Light Street, then led the new students in the oath-taking ceremony.

Among those who attended the orientation were School of Business & Administration Acting Dean Prakash Arumugam, full-time programme coordinator Lilian Yap, and the academics.

Karishma leads in reciting the students’pledge.

Karishma leads in reciting the students’pledge.

 

 New Diploma in Business Management students share their aspirations

*Davinraj Gonaselan, 19
SMK King Edward VII, Taiping

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“My cousin brother introduced me to WOU. He is pursuing a part-time business degree programme here. He told me about a new diploma programme at WOU since I was looking to study diploma. I came to inquire and straight away registered because I like the programme structure. I just have to take three subjects in the first semester, I can concentrate better.

“I am interested in business management and want to work in companies once I finish my degree after my diploma. I like the university environment and the lecturers are good.”

“I chose WOU as there are not many institutions like it in Taiping. Also, I have an uncle living in Penang.  I am renting an apartment with my cousin brothers in Batu Uban. Another cousin brother has enrolled for a full-time business degree programme at WOU in the May intake.”

His father has retired from working as a production worker and his mother is a school laboratory assistant. He is an only child.

*Clarissa Koh Hui Hsing, 20
SMK Bukit Jambul, Penang.

For achieving 9 As in SPM, she received the WOU Bursary Award of 100% off in total tuition fees.

She often passes by the main campus, and so is quite familiar with WOU. Her parents visited PGRC to inquire when they were in the vicinity and learnt about the new Diploma programme. They recommended her to enrol.

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“I chose WOU as it is in Penang, so close to home, and affordable. I want a career in investment or business. After my diploma, I will likely continue with a degree here.

 “At WOU, I hope to overcome my stage fright and be able to give presentations smoothly. Being in a small classroom will make it easier for to overcome this fear. I wish to pick up business-oriented skills as I plan to open up my own business in future, depending on what is suitable for the market then. ”

Her father works as a Human Resources Director in Singapore, and her mother is a homemaker. She has an older brother pursuing his degree at UTAR, Kampar.

 

Nur Syaza Erina Muhammad Rafie, 18
SMK (P) St George, Penang

She was rewarded with the WOU Bursary Award of 50% off on tuition fees for her 8 As in SPM.

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“My aunt mentioned WOU to me. She knows a staff here who said that WOU is offering a new diploma programme. So I came to inquire with my parents, and immediately enrolled.”

“I prefer to do Diploma than STPM as I feel it would be easier for me. I enrolled at WOU, mainly because of the reasonable price and I can afford it. I did compare with a few colleges in Penang and found WOU to be cheaper. I also like the atmosphere here.

“I find business management to be an interesting field. I hope to learn how to manage a business, financial-wise, and the people. The lecturers are all very nice and everything is good.

“For my career, I would like to work in Human Resources. I understand that WOU is offering a full-time HR Management degree, and I want to continue with that.”

Her father works as an Assistant Manager in a freight forwarding company in Penang and her mum is a homemaker. She has three younger brothers in school.

Getting quality sleep with good sleep hygiene

Limiting afternoon naps to 20 minutes, exercising, and avoiding stimulants and certain foods will contribute to a good night sleep, with the best quality sleep derived from 10.00pm to 4.00am when the night is at its darkest.

Dr Irfhan explains why it is important to get enough hours of sleep every day.

Dr Irfhan explains why it is important to get enough hours of sleep every day.

Penang Hospital consultant chest physician Dr Irfhan Ali Hyder Ali was speaking at a public talk on ‘Sleep and Obstructive Sleep Apnoea’ held at the main campus today, organised by WOU’s School of Humanities & Social Sciences and Human Resources Department. He elaborated that the melatonin spike that helps people sleep better occurs between 10.00pm and 4.00am.

He stated that obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) and other sleep problems can be detected with an electroencephalogram (EEG) which records brain activity when sleeping.

He shared on the two main types of sleep, the rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep and non-rapid-eye-movement (NREM) sleep. “REM sleep occurs 90 minutes after sleep, and it is when your eyes start to move a lot and is associated with dreams. People awakened from REM sleep report very vivid and sometimes bizarre dreams, but once they go back to sleep and wake up the next morning, they cannot remember.”

Part of the audience at the talk.

Part of the audience at the talk.

In REM sleep, the brain is very active but all the muscles in the body, except for the heart and lungs, are paralysed to prevent you from ‘acting out’ your dreams, Dr Irfhan added. “You go into very deep sleep, the muscles behind the neck become flaccid and you start snoring. The airways can easily completely collapse and cause sleep apnoea.”

He said people go through 5 stages of sleep, and they are NREM sleep Stages 1 to 4, and REM sleep. “In the first 10 minutes, people can be woken up easily. In the next stage, 10-20 minutes after sleep, you will know when you are awakened, and when the phone rings you become fully alert and can engage in conversation without the other person knowing you were asleep.”

Sharing about the beginning of sleep.

Sharing about the beginning of sleep.

He highlighted that in Stages 3 and 4 (30-45 minutes after sleep), you sleep through noises and movements without any reaction, and if awakened, you will feel groggy for the first few minutes.

Dr Irfhan recommended taking afternoon naps of not more than 20 minutes to feel refreshed and alert, with anything longer making you lazy and lethargic.

He said sleep hygiene must be considered before any diagnosis of OSA. He listed sleep hygiene tips like limiting daytime naps to 20 minutes, avoiding stimulants like caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime, exercising, avoiding heavy meals or rich foods before sleep, and ensuring a pleasant sleep environment.


Describing the five stages of sleep.

Describing the five stages of sleep.

He highlighted that in OSA, gravity and muscle relaxation during sleep allows the tongue to fall back into the throat area and obstruct air flow. “There will be loud snoring and then very quiet when the tongue completely collapses. The person stops breathing followed by sudden gasps.”

He said sleep apnoea occurs when a person stops breathing for 10 seconds or more and has at least a 4% drop in oxygen in the blood, while the less severe hypopnoea is a decrease in breathing. Factors like male, obese, age, alcohol, race and familial history, can influence the incidence of OSA, he remarked.

Dr Irfhan pointed out that OSA can be diagnosed with a sleep study to measure the apnoea-hypopnoea index (AHI), which shows how many times per hour a person stopped breathing. “An AHI of less than 5 is mild, 5-15 is moderate, 15-30 is severe, and more than 30 is very severe.”

WOU Acting Vice Chancellor Prof Zoraini Wati Abas presents a token of appreciation to the speaker.

WOU Acting Vice Chancellor Prof Zoraini Wati Abas presents a token of appreciation to the speaker.

He said people do not stop breathing and die from OSA but that it can lead to complications like hypertension, declaring that stroke is the leading cause of death in OSA patients, while other effects are increased insulin resistance, snoring, depression, and heart attack.

During Q &A, he responded that most OSA episodes occur when a person sleeps supine as then there is more chance for the airways to be blocked.

Amazing race ala WOU!

Forty students from four institutions of higher learning participated in the inaugural WOUmazing Race held at the main campus today.

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The institutions were WOU; Stradford International College, Prai; InfoGenius Skills Training Centre, Gelugor; and Institut Wawasan, Kulim. Each institution was represented by two teams with 5 members per team.

The students warmed-up with a zumba workout led by Penang Regional Centre (PGRC) marketing & admissions officer Robin Cheah Kai Yang before teaming up for the games.

Students gather in the field before the start of the event.

Students gather in the field before the start of the event.

The participants sportingly challenged each other in four station games, with 10 minutes allotted per station.  The games needed speed, precision, memory and teamwork as marks were accorded for completion of the different activities and tasks.

Blindfolded student, navigating the maze of cups, guided by her team members.

Blindfolded student, navigating the maze of cups, guided by her team members.

In the Mind Your Mines game, one member, blindfolded, must navigate between overturned paper cups to collect the labelled cups in the maze, guided by his/her team members.  The Tower of Breath game required participants to blow balloons placed inside cups to carry and build a 4-storey tower (10 cups), without using their hands.

Using a blown up balloon to build a tower of paper cups.

Using a blown up balloon to build a tower of paper cups.

As for Find Your Pearls, participants were asked to remember a sequence flashed to them for 5 seconds, and then to arrange cards according to the sequence, and also answer a mathematics question.

A Wet Kangaroo saw participants get into a sack, hop to collect balloons filled with water using their mouths, and bring them back to the starting point. The team must collect as many balloons as possible.

Hop to the table in a gunny sack and pick up water-filled balloons with one’s mouth.

Hop to the table in a gunny sack and pick up water-filled balloons with one’s mouth.

Info Genius Team A emerged as champions and they were presented with 5 entry tickets to The Top Komtar by PGRC director Ching Huey Ling. The all-girl Emcee Stradfordian team came in as runner-up and received 5 entry tickets to Entopia for their effort, and in third place was WOU Team B who won 5 entry tickets to Magic World Phantamania.

Thumbs up to the runners-up from Stradford. At right is PGRC director Ching Huey Ling.

Thumbs up to the runners-up from Stradford. At right is PGRC director Ching Huey Ling.

The event was organised by PGRC together with the Full-time Student Council committee members.

The students had a fun time, after which they munched and quenched their thirst, thanks to the food trucks and stalls selling a variety of Western dishes, Indian foods, laksa, cendol, kuih, ice cream and drinks.

The participants pose in front the majestic campus building with the organsing committee and helpers.

The participants pose in front the majestic campus building with the organsing committee and helpers.

WOU offers rebates worth over RM5m to 27 schools

WOU, in line with its corporate social responsibility, is offering a sponsorship worth over RM5 million to the teachers and students of 27 secondary schools in Penang.

Happy teachers! Every participant received 3 vouchers, with each entitling them or their fellow teachers and students to a 30% rebate on total tuition fees at WOU.

Happy teachers! Every participant received 3 vouchers, with each entitling them or their fellow teachers and students to a 30% rebate on total tuition fees at WOU.

All 200 teachers attending the state-level “Form Six Teachers Action Plan Colloquium” hosted by WOU at the main campus today were each presented with three discount vouchers. Each discount voucher entitles the teachers or students of participating schools to a 30% rebate on total tuition fees when they register for any full-time or part-time study programmes at WOU.

Penang State Education (JPN) Deputy Director Abdul Rashid Abdul Samad, in an interview, thanked WOU for its support in hosting the event. He also expressed his appreciation for the rebate vouchers from the University that spells huge benefits to the teachers and school kids. “Education is a lifelong learning process, a never ending story. When the kids go for higher learning, they must go for something higher than the first degree nowadays,” he remarked, adding that he himself has a Master’s degree.

Abdul Rashid thanks WOU for helping teachers and students to pursue higher learning.

Abdul Rashid thanks WOU for helping teachers and students to pursue higher learning.

He continued, “So when WOU can chip in with this kind of 30% rebate commitment, I do really appreciate it.  Wawasan is doing its part with this social contribution for the school, for the kids, and we are really grateful for that.

“So hopefully, I would like to see more cooperation between JPN and Wawasan Open University. We really welcome you all to come into the school to promote your products. You can come in to highlight what kind of study programmes you are offering, especially when we have this sort of event or exhibition. Finally, thanks a lot to Wawasan!”

Abdul Rashid (centre) with WOU Acting Vice Chancellor Prof Zoraini Wati Abas.

Abdul Rashid (centre) with WOU Acting Vice Chancellor Prof Zoraini Wati Abas.

The 27 participating schools are from the five districts in Penang, namely Northeast (11), Southwest (2), Seberang Perai Utara (6), Seberang Perai Tengah (4) and Seberang Perai Selatan (4).

In his speech when officiating at the colloquium, Abdul Rashid reiterated his heartfelt appreciation for WOU’s commitment, adding that the main campus affords a pleasant study environment with its classic building and beautiful architecture.

Form Six teachers must prepare students for University, says Abdul Rashid.

Form Six teachers must prepare students for University, says Abdul Rashid.

He called on the teachers in Form Six to play the role of “mini lecturers” in the way they engage and communicate with the students, instead of being only focused on completing the syllabus, so that the students are ready, mentally, for university.

WOU Acting Vice Chancellor Prof Zoraini Wati Abas, in her welcoming remarks, stated that the University offers full scholarships to students with excellent STPM results and needy students.

Prof Zoraini briefs the teachers on Wawasan Open University.

Prof Zoraini briefs the teachers on Wawasan Open University.

The Dean of the School of Education, Languages and Communications, Prof Balakrishnan Muniandy, shared about WOU’s educational programmes, such as the bachelor’s degree in the fields of primary education and English Studies, and the Master of Education.

Prof Balakrishnan highlights the educational programmes at WOU.

Prof Balakrishnan highlights the educational programmes at WOU.

Full-time students hold Chinese New Year barbeque celebration

The WOU full-time students had a simple barbeque dinner that afforded them a nice break from studies and the opportunity to relax and get better acquainted over games and good food

Student Activities Coordinator Khoo Geok Ling (foreground, right) helping the students with the barbeque.

Student Activities Coordinator Khoo Geok Ling (foreground, right) helping the students with the barbeque.

Acting Vice Chancellor Prof Zoraini Wati Abas, in welcoming the students to the event at the main campus today, advised them to use their time at WOU to make friends and build relationships.

Prof Zoraini encourages the students to make lots of friends while in University.

Prof Zoraini encourages the students to make lots of friends while in University.

Over 40 people turned up, mainly full-time students along with a few lecturers, including School of Business & Administration (SBA) Acting Dean Prakash Arumugam and School of Humanities & Social Sciences Deputy Dean Jasmine Emmanuel.

The icebreaking game requires getting to know their team members.

The icebreaking game requires getting to know their team members.

The icebreaking activity kicked off the informal part of the evening. Four teams participated with 7 members each - six students and one staff – and they were tasked to learn each of their team members’ name, programme and hobby.  A participant caught holding the ball being passed around within each group when the music stopped wasthen called to introduce his/her team members to the others.

Holding the ball while introducing his team members to everyone present.

Holding the ball while introducing his team members to everyone present.

Another activity, the ‘Shake Shake Shake’ game involved 3 pairs of students given a set of bottles with marbles filled inside one bottle for each round. Students had to flip the bottle over using their hands and transfer all the marbles to the other bottle. The winning duo for each of the three rounds of the game received angpows from Prakash.

‘Shake, Shake, Shake!’ the marbles into the bottom bottle.

‘Shake, Shake, Shake!’ the marbles into the bottom bottle.

The students and staff feasted on barbecued chicken satay, chicken wings, corn on the cob, egg plants, sweet potatoes, chicken ham with enoki mushrooms, and fried meehoon which they washed down with orange juice.

(Seated front, from right) Khoo, Jasmine, Prof Zoraini and Prakash pose with the students.

(Seated front, from right) Khoo, Jasmine, Prof Zoraini and Prakash pose with the students.

The event was organised by a group of seven full-time students from the various programmes, under the supervision of the Course Coordinator/Student Activities Coordinator Christine Khoo Geok Lin

Calling for more R&D support for SMEs

Universities are urged to work more closely with industries to spawn research and development (R&D) that can lead to the creation of innovative products to benefit small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The government should also offer more support through grants and financial incentives to promote innovation for a newer generation of technology and products.

Assoc Prof Dr Nualnoi Treerat (3rd from right), Director of the Institute of Asian Studies, CU, and Prakash Arumugam (right) of WOU pose with the speakers and moderator.

Assoc Prof Dr Nualnoi Treerat (3rd from right), Director of the Institute of Asian Studies, CU, and Prakash Arumugam (right) of WOU pose with the speakers and moderator.

These were highlighted by the speakers of the roundtable on “Technological Challenges and Future Opportunities for SMEs in Southeast Asian Region” jointly organised by WOU and Chulalongkorn University (CU) at the WOU main campus today.

The panel speakers were Chief Transformation Officer Dr Supot Tiarawut and Director of Innovation Dr Ronnakorn Vaiyavuth of CU, along with Assoc Prof Dr Shankar Chelliah, School of Management, Universiti Sains Malaysia, and Kalai Selvan Subramaniam, co-Founder and CEO of Infinecs Systems Sdn Bhd.

Event moderator Prof David Ngo, Adjunct Professor at Sunway University, introduces the speakers to the audience.

Event moderator Prof David Ngo, Adjunct Professor at Sunway University, introduces the speakers to the audience.

Dr Supot said, “There is no significant technology transfer from themultinational companies to the local companies, neither is there R&D between industries and university, with most R&D confined within the corporate entity.”

He stated that the obstacles to innovation by SMEs in Thailand include a lack of incentives, obsolete regulations to accommodate start-ups, lack of resources, and not much R&D support from the government. “Even the big corporates do little R&D and rather shop around the world for technology instead of supporting the University to build home-grown technology.The Government should put more incentives to promote R&D.”

Dr Supot (2nd from right) highlights the obstacles to SMEs in Thailand.

Dr Supot (2nd from right) highlights the obstacles to SMEs in Thailand.

Dr Ronnakorn remarked that the governments of each country should allow SMEs easy access to new technology from open source and for close industry-university partnership to create innovative products for commercialisation.

Meanwhile Dr Shankar said that SMEs in Malaysia emerged as suppliers when the multinational corporations set up operations around the 1970s and due to the abundance of local natural resources. He said the Malaysian SMEs lack capital unlike Korea where there is funding support from conglomerates, government and crowdfunding. “So that’s why Samsung, Hyundai, which were SMEs in the past, have now become global players.”

Dr Shankar (centre) traces the history of small and medium-sized enterprises in malaysia.

Dr Shankar (centre) traces the history of small and medium-sized enterprises in malaysia.

He said Korea is now a leading innovator because of the revamp of their education curriculum 20 years ago, stressing on science and mathematics which are fundamentals to technology. He also declared that Malaysian university students should undertake applied research to help solve the problems faced by the community and industry, especially SMEs.

He added, “In developed countries, industries have incubators in the laboratories of universities and work together with students on applied problems, and from there they are able to commercialise the innovation.” He called on universities in Penang to build good working relationships with industry to produce and commercialise innovative products for SMEs.

Kalai Selvan informed that industries like electronics and telecommunications are dominated by MNCs and GLCs, citing barriers for SMEs in Malaysia as the lack of capital and government support, and outdated government policies that support capital expenditure rather than promote knowledge workers.

(From left) Dr Ronnakorn, Kalai Selvan, Dr Shankar, Dr Supot and Prof Ngo.

(From left) Dr Ronnakorn, Kalai Selvan, Dr Shankar, Dr Supot and Prof Ngo.

He said Malaysian universities must change their KPIs from the focus of creating employees to creating R&D which can lead to value start-ups, adding that in US, Finland, Sweden, Korea and Taiwan, most start-ups come up from the Universities.  “One thing glaring in Malaysia is there is no strong connection between universities and industries. In US, most of the lecturers are scientists or engineers working in MNCs. They know what is needed in industry and so lead the research in the universities.”

He also called on the government think tanks, Ministries, and GLCs to open up procurement to help develop the local SMEs.

Prakash arumugam, Acting dean of wou’s school of business & administration, presenting a token of appreciation to kalai selvan.

Prakash arumugam, Acting dean of wou’s school of business & administration, presenting a token of appreciation to kalai selvan.

The roundtable was attended by about 50 people, including WOU School of Business & Administration Acting Dean Prakash Arumugam.

WOU lunar New Year celebration inspires fun and caring spirit

The WOU Chinese New Year celebration rose to new heights this year with a hilarious sketch and by incorporating a caring element.

For WOU Vice Chancellor Dato’ Dr Ho Sinn Chye and Dato’ Sharom Ahmat (3rd and 4th from right) at the luncheon.

For WOU Vice Chancellor Dato’ Dr Ho Sinn Chye and Dato’ Sharom Ahmat (3rd and 4th from right) at the luncheon.

Guests were offered huat kuih as door gifts and longan tong sui as starters as they sat back to enjoy the entertainment. The event at the main campus today kicked off with three Mandarin songs rendered by a group from Pusat Kesenian Muzik Micico Pulau Pinang.

Everyone given huat kuih as door gift

Everyone given huat kuih as door gift

The crowd were howling with laughter as they viewed a 7-minute in-house video production ‘I Like Lau Juak’ which translates ‘I Like to be Merry’.  Kudos to the team led by QA & Government Relations Director Dr Andy Liew and Public & Student Relations and Publishing (PSR) Director Grace Law for this hilarious production which took 3 hours to produce.

The video, already uploaded to WOU Facebook, offered a satirical look into the contemporary culture of ‘expecting angpow’ during Chinese New Year open houses and of single ladies throwing oranges inscribed with names/telephone numbers to find future spouses.

Grace Lau and Dr Andy Liew… the talents behind the in-house video production.

Grace Lau and Dr Andy Liew… the talents behind the in-house video production.

In his welcoming address, WOU Board of Governors (BoG) chairman Tan Sri Dr Koh  Tsu Koon lauded the production, which also featured the PSR team of Sharon Alice Wiessy, Rasidah Mion, Sharmilah Velaichamy and Rizal Omardin, along with Irmadura Ramli (School of Humanities & Social Sciences), Robin Cheah (Penang Regional Centre) and Magic Khaw  (Instructional Design for Engaging Experiences).

WOU will continue to hold in-house celebrations for the major festivals, says Dr Koh.

WOU will continue to hold in-house celebrations for the major festivals, says Dr Koh.

Dr Koh assured that the University will continue to celebrate all the major festivals, and suggested holding an orange throwing competition since WOU is the only University by the beach.

He said the lunar New Year, also known as the Spring Festival, spells new beginnings and new hope, and looked forward to WOU introducing new programmes and to perform well this year.

The home-made jelly cut by (from right) Mr Yeong, Dato’ Seri Stephen Yeap and Dr Koh.

The home-made jelly cut by (from right) Mr Yeong, Dato’ Seri Stephen Yeap and Dr Koh.

The celebration also saw the cutting of a flower crafted jelly by Dr Koh, WOU Sdn Bhd Chairman Dato’ Seri Stephen Yeap and Chief Operating Officer Yeong Sik Kheong. The jelly made by Grace Lau incorporated five fishes in the design to denote abundance in relation to health, happiness, relationship, prosperity and career.

Tan Sri Dr Koh and Tan Sri Dr Chin Fook Weng (right) light the firecrackers.

Tan Sri Dr Koh and Tan Sri Dr Chin Fook Weng (right) light the firecrackers.

Then followed the traditional tossing of the yee sang followed by lunch. There was also a lighting of firecrackers by Dr Koh and BoG member Tan Sri Dr Chin Fook Weng, with the celebration culminating with the traditional lion dance to usher blessings.

Tan Sri Dr Koh offers oranges to the ‘lion’.

Tan Sri Dr Koh offers oranges to the ‘lion’.

During the event, a donation box was placed at the entrance to invite collections in aid of Assistant Library Supervisor, Zubaydah Zamri, who is away on unpaid leave to take care of her 21-month-old son, Muhammad Muhaimin Abddulah. Her son is suffering from neuroblastoma, a type of cancer, and he has been admitted to Penang Hospital since January 18th.  A big thank you to everyone as about RM5,000 was collected!

Grace Lau (centre) receives donation from the staff of Heng Lee Group.

Grace Lau (centre) receives donation from the staff of Heng Lee Group.