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October 2023

Borneo: Home for the World’s Smallest Elephant Species

Renowned for its remarkable biodiversity, Malaysia is recognized as the habitat of the Borneo Pygmy Elephant, the world’s smallest elephant species. These unique creatures are predominantly found in the forests of northeastern Borneo, spanning across Malaysia and Indonesia.

Measuring under 8.2 feet in height, the pygmy elephants represent the smallest subspecies of elephants globally. They are characterized by their distinctive large ears, rotund bellies, and lengthy tails that often sweep the ground as they traverse their habitat.

Known for their peaceful nature lead, these elephants are notably more docile compared to their Asian and African counterparts, which some scientist believes they are descendants of a domestic herd.

Initially speculated to be descendants of a domesticated herd presented to the Sultan of Sulu during the 17th century, research conducted by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) confirmed the genetic distinctiveness of Bornean elephants from other Asian elephant populations. DNA analysis revealed that these elephants became isolated approximately 300,000 years ago, branching away from their relatives on the Asian mainland and Sumatra.

Tragically, the Borneo Pygmy Elephant faces the critical threat of endangerment primarily due to the loss of their natural habitat, resulting in a stark decline in their population. Presently, it is estimated that only around 1,500 of these remarkable creatures remain in the wild, underscoring the urgent need for conservation efforts to protect and preserve their vulnerable existence.

Malaysia owns the Record of the ‘Largest Legal Banknote in the World’

Malaysia is the proud owner of the largest banknote globally, measuring a significant 22cm by 37cm. This sizable currency was introduced as one of two special edition banknotes released by Bank Negara Malaysia in December 2017 to commemorate Malaysia’s 60th Merdeka Day.

This notable achievement surpassed the previous record held by the 100,000 pesos banknote from the Philippines, which measured 21.59cm by 35.5cm and was printed in 1998 to mark the Philippines’ independence after over 300 years of Spanish colonial rule.

On one side of the RM600 and RM60 notes, there are depictions of 15 different monarchs and heads of state encircling the royal throne. On the reverse side, there is a portrayal of the nine rulers signing the Federation of Malaya Independence Agreement, alongside the silhouette of the first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, and four iconic landmarks in the country: The National Palace, Perdana Putra, the Parliament building, and the Palace of Justice.

To witness these unique banknotes, individuals can visit the Bank Negara Malaysia’s Museum and Art Gallery, as well as its offices in Penang, Johor Bahru, Kota Kinabalu, Kuching, and Kuala Terengganu, where these exceptional displays are showcased.

Completion of MRSM Ranau: Pinnacle of Education in Malaysia

Perched amidst the breathtaking landscapes of the North West Coast Division of Sabah, the MARA Junior College of Science (MRSM) Ranau now stands tall as the highest MRSM in Malaysia. This educational landmark, nestled in the lap of natural diversity and rich cultural heritage, has been meticulously made to cater to the promising young minds of Sabah and Ranau, fostering an ideal setting for their academic pursuits.

Completed through a collaborative effort between the State Government, Petronas, and MARA, the 30-acre campus represents a significant milestone. The project, initiated in October 2017 under the stewardship of the former Chief Minister, Tan Sri Musa Aman, reflects a shared commitment to nurturing educational excellence in the state.

Designed with a main focus on cultivating interest in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM), the college endeavors to nurture a new generation of skilled professionals in STEM-related fields. Anticipated to accommodate 450 students, the campus boasts its facilities including academic blocks, science laboratories, hostels, multipurpose hall, sports facilities, living quarters for educators, and a surau.

MRSM Ranau serves as a beacon of hope, aims to empower young learners and pave the way for a brighter future for the students.

‘King Tooth’: One of the Oldest Records in Malaysia

Malaysia’s rich tapestry extends far beyond its cultural diversity; it’s also packed with incredibly talented people. In the annals of extraordinary human achievement, few stories captivate the imagination, such as Valu Rathakrishnan or ‘King Tooth’. Back in October 2003, Valu achieved the title of ‘Heaviest Train Pulled by Teeth’ and got the nickname ‘King Tooth’ after using his teeth to pull two KTM commuter trains with sheer determination and a unique, ancient practice.

Valu managed to use his teeth to pull not one, but two KTM commuter trains with the combined weight of the train amounting to a staggering 260.8 tonnes. With enough determination, he managed to cover a distance of 4.2 meters.

However, Valu’s story was far from over. In 2007, he shattered his record, surpassing the limits of his already remarkable strength. This time, he pulled a train that weighed over 291 tonnes for 2.8 meters at the Old Kuala Lumpur Railway Station.

Beneath the surface of his incredible strength, he revealed the secret. Valu attributed his exceptional strength to an ancient Indian form of meditation, a practice imparted to him by his guru when he was a mere 14 years old. Under the guidance of his mentor, he learned to focus and channel his energy, directing it to a single part of his body.

Vanizha Vasanthanathan : A Name to Watch in the World of Fashion

Vanizha Vasanthanathan: A Name to Watch in the World of Fashion

At a striking height of 1.81 meters, Vanizha Vasanthanathan, a Malaysian supermodel, has recently achieved a groundbreaking milestone, becoming the first Malaysian Indian to grace the cover of the iconic Vogue magazine.

Her recent debut on the cover of Vogue Singapore’s anniversary October issue, sharing the limelight with Indonesian model Rizal Rama, has solidified her status among the fashion elite.

According to her interview with FreeMalaysiaToday (FMT) Lifestyle, she talks about her initial disbelief upon receiving the news, thinking it was a potential scam. It was only when her flight to Singapore was booked that the realization dawned upon her.

Despite her international successes, including a sensational debut at Milan Fashion Week in 2022 and a prominent role in Sephora’s global beauty campaign in 2019, the Vogue cover shoot holds a special place in her heart.

Her humble beginnings in the world of modeling, sparked by an unexpected encounter during a college fashion show, have paved the way for her remarkable career. She had struggled with self-doubt and insecurities because of the local beauty standard that ‘fair is beautiful’. But Vanizha remains resolute in her commitment to making a meaningful impact overcoming societal norms, and redefining conventional beauty standards, Vanizha stands proud with her rich complexion.

The Pillar of Strength Tells the Story of Iban Warrior Rentap

The Pillar of Strength, a groundbreaking animated short film, delves into the captivating cinematic universe of Rentap, the legendary Iban-Dayak warrior from the lush landscapes of Borneo. This masterpiece marks a significant milestone as the first-ever Sarawak-inspired animation to grace screens across the nation, captivating audiences with its rich narrative and mesmerizing visuals.

The collaboration between Golden Screen Cinemas (GSC) and the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) during the inaugural Malaysia Animation Film Festival (MAFF) 2023 has set the stage for this remarkable achievement.

AieIbrahim, renowned for contributing to several Malaysian animated classics, served as the creative force behind this animated marvel, infusing it with his artistic prowess and storytelling finesse.

The animation explores the fictional origin of Rentap, the Iban-Dayak warrior from Borneo, where it introduces an alternate take on his childhood upbringing. According to him, the Pillar of Strength is a story that touches on the topics of family, environmental conservation, human identity, as well as the patterns and culture of life in the ancient Borneo archipelago. It stands as a compelling narrative that resonates with audiences, offering a profound reflection on the cultural richness and timeless wisdom of the Bornean heritage.

Ipoh is the First City in Asia to Use an Eco-Friendly Thermowaste System

Ipoh, a city in northwestern Malaysia will soon become the pioneer in Asia by utilizing eco-friendly technology to process all of its waste. The announcement from Mayor Datuk Rumaizi Baharin has set the city on a path to become the frontrunner in Asia for implementing 100% eco-friendly waste treatment.

According to him, the innovation involves a sterilization and cleaning procedure that applies heat, steam, and pressure to solid waste, eliminating the need for prior segregation. After undergoing a 30-minute processing period, the waste is separated into four distinct categories: biomass, plastic, metal, and inert materials.

The significance of this development extends beyond waste management alone. By successfully processing and segregating the waste, the project aims to unlock the potential value inherent in these materials. The basic commodities will be sold in the market to make sure the waste material is not totally wasted and is reusable in different forms. As reported in Bernama, Mayor Datuk Rumaizi Baharin gave the example that solid waste that has been converted into biomass can be sold as a fuel substitute for coal in industrial applications.

He also highlighted the drawbacks of conventional landfill practices, stating that they occupy large areas of land, rendering the land unproductive. This approach aims to address these concerns while prioritizing a sustainable and efficient way to manage waste.

A collaborative effort has also been initiated between Thermowaste Mancuso Energy Sdn Bhd, Ipoh City Council (MBI), and Selekta Spektra through a memorandum of understanding signed on October 17, marking a significant milestone in the city’s journey to achieving environmental sustainability and a brighter future.

Bidding Farewell to 14 Years of Proton Exora’s Legacy

As of October 18, 2023, the production of the Proton Exora, Malaysia’s pioneering locally developed multi-purpose vehicle (MPV), has drawn to a close. Originally introduced in April 2009, the Exora has completed an impressive 14-year journey, culminating in a total production of 195,583 units.

The Exora underwent a series of evolutionary transformations during its tenure. The concept of a Proton MPV was initially conceived in the 1990s, a time when Proton’s vehicle lineup primarily comprised sedans and hatchbacks. After numerous deliberations, the Exora project was temporarily shelved, only to be revived in mid-2006, eventually leading to the commencement of production at Proton’s Shah Alam facility in March 2009.

The official unveiling of the Proton Exora on April 15, 2009, heralded a new chapter in Malaysia’s automotive landscape, as it proudly assumed the distinction of being the nation’s first indigenously designed MPV. Its evolution continued with the Exora Bold in 2011, marking another milestone as the first Proton to integrate a turbocharged engine, featuring the CamPro Charged Fuel Efficiency (CFE) technology.

The 2017 Proton Exora (Enhanced) took the baton forward, succeeding the Exora Bold MC2 on July 23, 2017. This iteration primarily emphasized cosmetic enhancements along with significant improvements in noise, vibration, and harshness (NVH) levels, solidifying the Exora’s reputation for refinement and comfort.

As it gracefully bids farewell, we celebrate it remarkable contributions to the automotive industry. Farewell, Exora–it is truly a well-deserved retirement.

Philomena Shines as the First Sarawakian Woman to Conquer the Asian Bodybuilding Stage

Philomena Dexclyn Siar, an exceptional Bidayuh athlete hailing from Sarawak, has made history by becoming the first Sarawakian woman to secure victory on the fiercely competitive Asian Bodybuilding and Physique Sports stage. The remarkable achievement has been officially recognized by the prestigious Jalur Gemilang Book of Records.

At the recent 55th Asian Bodybuilding and Physique Sports Championships held in Kathmandu, Nepal, Philomena, aged 40, clinched the gold medal for Team Malaysia in the Women’s Sports Physique (Over 165cm) category. Her triumphant performance displayed an unmatched combination of strength, dedication, and perseverance.

Philomena was presented with the Jalur Gemilang Book of Records certificate and medal which took place during the 52nd Mr. Malaysia Bodybuilding Championships at the Malaysia Agro Exposition Park Serdang in Selangor on 14 October 2023. The ceremony was attended and witnessed by both the President and Vice President of Malaysia Body Building Federation (‘MBBF’), Major General Dato’ Dr. Ahmad Badrus Bin Othman (Rtd), and the Vice President, Lieutenant Commander Kamaruzaman Kadir (Rtd) together with the CEO of the Jalur Gemilang Book of Records, Mr. Simon Lau. Remarkably, the certificate and medal presentation coincided with Ms. Philomena’s 40th Birthday, adding an extra layer of significance to the event for our bodybuilding champion.

Philomena’s groundbreaking win not only represents a personal triumph but also stands as a significant milestone for Sarawakian sports and female empowerment. Her success has sparked pride and inspiration within the local community, especially among aspiring athletes, encouraging them to pursue their dreams and challenge conventional norms.

The Start of Her Bodybuilding Career

While currently serving as a state government administrative officer, Philomena embarked on her professional bodybuilding journey in 2018. Her initial motivation was to lead a healthier lifestyle and shed weight. She diligently committed to hours on the treadmill, weight training, and enlisted the guidance of a personal trainer.

In 2018, her talent was spotted by a renowned Sarawakian and Malaysian world-class bodybuilding athlete, Dr. Malvern Abdullah. Under his mentorship, Philomena made her competition debut at the FM League Physique War & Muscle War 2018 in Singapore.