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1. UKM is the only public university to receive an increased allocation in the 2016 Budget. Its estimated allocation will be increased by 5 per cent from RM488m to RM512m in 2015. All other public universities, including UTM, which is the highest ranking Malaysian university, have had their budgets trimmed, leading to concern among many that next year could see university tuition fee hikes. The above image is an excerpt from the 2016 budget allocations. What makes UKM so special?

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A sad day for Malaysia. Instead of a no-confidence motion against the PM being allowed to see the light of day, veteran opposition parliamentarian Kit Siang was suspended from Parliament. Kit Siang claimed he was “the latest victim of the 1MDB monster”. This was his parting shot.

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A thick smog has blanketed Penang, with visibility less than 1km. Residents of Penang Island have their own air quality indicator: if the imposing Penang Hill at the centre of the island vanishes from sight, you should be concerned!

This smog is the worst it has been for years, perhaps since 1997. Now we hear that the oil palm fires in Indonesia are emitting more greenhouse gases than the entire US economy.

For a deeper discussion of the smog and the oil palm industry, check out agribusiness researcher Khor Yu Leng’s blogs here and here.

This morning, a friend sent me a message saying he feels like choking.

Later, a security guard wearing a surgical mask advised me to wear one before I stepped outdoors. Ironically, a couple of weeks ago, this same guard had told me he was trying to quit smoking! Poor chap.

About an hour ago, a neighbour asked me later why I was sitting outside to read. Everyone quite concerned.

The API reading just after noon for the island? 149. In Kuala Lumpur, it is 154 and in Section 14, PJ, it is 187. You can see the API reading for your area at the same link. (Remember, below 50 is healthy, 51-100 is moderate, 101-200 unhealthy, 201-300 very unhealthy, and over 300 hazardous.)

I hear that with advances in technology, it is not rocket science to obtain accurate API readings: realistic analyses of air quality can be obtained with fairly simple equipment without having to buy ultra-sophisticated and super-expensive equipment. Meanwhile, let’s do a quick poll to find out what you think of our official API readings: