- Social media impact can be merciless
- MCA gears up for another battle
- Spike in electricity tariff justified?
- Chinese better off after Merdeka
- The Chinese dilemma
Posted: 26 Jul 2013 02:56 PM PDT
Deputy Education Minister P. Kamalanathan meeting parents and teachers at Sekolah Kebangsaan Seri Pristana in Sungai Buloh on Wednesday.
THE wild world of social media is not discriminating and its impact can be merciless. As users, we have benefited a lot from it in much of everything we do today.
Nuraina Samad, NST
There are the pluses and minuses, but what is clear is that the impact it has on intended or unwitting victims in content that go viral can be devastating.
Take the furore over reports last week of non-Muslim pupils of Sekolah Kebangsaan Seri Pristana in Sungai Buloh being made to have their meals in what was initially alleged to be a toilet. (It turned out that it was the school's changing room).
We see the real-time explosion of the story and picture of the pupils in social media and immediate responses that you believe to be doing something good. You know people care for the kids.
The problem is that this kind of thing can get out of hand because the spread is unstoppable and because not everyone is sincere in expressing their concern. Even though clarifications have been made.
When I read about these kids having their meals during recess in a toilet during Ramadan, I was naturally appalled. But I wanted to know more, whether it was true or exaggerated.
The picture had obviously been uploaded by someone from the school or a parent. Still, it showed what it was meant to show.
The responses from people showed utter dismay, anger and shock and directed at, who else, school headmaster Mohd Nasir Mohd Noor. And rightly so especially when that was all they knew -- children eating in the toilet during Ramadan.
It was a story you could not miss. Dozens of your friends on Facebook uploaded the image and so many of your twitter friends re-tweeted the story.
You just could not turn the other way. And you would not want to. It is about school kids and mistreatment during Ramadan, for heaven's sake.
The media descended on the school. So did Deputy Education Minister P. Kamalanathan who wanted to see the situation for himself.
But that was not before the 57-year-old headmaster issued an apology and a clarification in social media that it was not a toilet but a clean changing room that had no toilet cubicles inside but sinks for the children and changing cubicles.
The headmaster said the canteen was closed as it was under repair and that the room had been in use for meals not only by non-Muslim pupils but Muslim pupils as well as the staff and teachers. It had been used as a "sub-canteen" since March.
He also said the school had about 1,300 pupils but the canteen could only accommodate 500 pupils.
You may choose to believe him or not. But you see, it is not true that the children had been having their recess in the toilet. No matter what some people want to believe, it is not a toilet. It is a changing room.
Ask the deputy minister and the media. Kamalanathan understood the situation and was convinced that Nasir had the children's wellbeing at heart although he felt that using the changing room was a "misguided decision".
So the story that originated from social media with some wrong facts got mainstream media treatment to set the record straight. Still, it got the school and the headmaster some unwarranted attention.
In social media, the responses seem endless with some going overboard, bringing in race, religion and naturally, politics.
By then, you would have thought that people would have ignored the initial misleading report. But no, they were still crucifying him and calling for his sacking.
Some people were still dissatisfied with Nasir's explanation saying that using the changing room which is next to a toilet, for the children to have meals was unacceptable.
In my humble opinion, it is acceptable if no other decent space is available and I believe Nasir, the school and the parent-teacher association had good intentions.
Unfortunately, that unwarranted attention has sparked some unpleasantness -- a group of very angry people hurled abuses at Nasir and the school. Also, Nasir reported that he received a death threat. So did the parent who uploaded the picture.
The Seri Pristana story may have provoked some unpleasant responses but it highlighted the fact that the school needed a bigger canteen to better serve the pupils.
Stories such as this will continue to be circulated by netizens and we will continue to have this love-hate relationship with this wild and crazy social media. Devastating effects or not, it is here to stay. And the good thing is that we have learned to live with and revel in it.
Posted: 26 Jul 2013 02:51 PM PDT
DATUK Seri Liow Tiong Lai could not contain his emotions when asked about his party's fate following its dismal performance in the May national polls.
Zubaidah Abu Bakar, NST
The deputy MCA chief turned away from the reporters waiting for his comments, but they could see tears well up in his eyes when he turned around minutes later.
Liow had earlier admitted that MCA's losses were a big blow to the 64-year-old party, and that it would be a big challenge to regain the support of the Chinese community.
"I pray the party can overcome the challenge. I believe we can go through the challenge...I really hope we can be united," he said, his voice choking, and then turned his back.
This incident happened two days after the polls, after Liow and Barisan Nasional members of parliament had a special meeting with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in Parliament.
MCA only won seven parliamentary seats out of 37 and 11 state seats out of 90 it contested. They fared worse than in 2008, where it won 15 parliamentary seats out of 40 and 32 state seats out of 90 it contested.
Now Liow is asking party members for a chance to lead MCA and regain the support of the Chinese community, offering himself as MCA's new president at the December party polls.
He is said to have the support of current and past leaders, as well as some party divisions. The most recent on Wednesday came from MCA divisions in Selayang, Kuala Selangor, Subang and Serdang.
"What is important is that party grassroots support and welcome Liow's candidacy. There is now some light at the end of the tunnel for MCA," says a party divisional leader from Ipoh who requested anonymity.
Altough Liow is thus far alone in declaring his intention at the party polls, the contest for MCA's presidency is shaping up to be a multi-cornered one.
"Many people think nobody wants the presidency but in fact, many want to be the MCA president because MCA as a business has assets worth several billions" says Monash University political scientist Prof James Chin, who is also Senior Visiting Research Fellow of Singapore's Institute of Southeast Asian Studies (ISEAS).
And although MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek has said he is not defending his post, party insiders and MCA watchers do not expect him to support the candidacy of his second-in-command Liow.
"I believe Dr Chua may decide to go for another term; he still has the support of some 90 per cent of the voting delegates," says an insider who claims the party president is unhappy with the manner Liow was campaigning for the position.
Liow had said that he decided to contest the president's post after interacting with grassroots members during a nationwide tour intended to get feedback on MCA's transformation.
Grassroots members had attacked the MCA leadership at some of these meetings, and the story goes that a very unhappy Dr Chua blurted out against his deputy after a function in Kuala Lumpur.
"I appointed Liow to head the MCA Transformation Taskforce. His duty is to hold nationwide roadshows and listen to grassroots...and not to make it a platform for leaders to kill each other," he was reported as saying.
The grapevine has it that Dr Chua is still interested to keep his post and is looking for a running mate. Another possibility, should he not defend his post, is a proxy fight via a young candidate without much baggage and enemies within the party nominated to challenge Liow.
Dr Chua is a seasoned politician and strategist. In the 2010 MCA elections, he was the first challenger to win against both incumbent and former party presidents in a three-cornered contest.
Dr Chua had polled 901 votes ahead of former president Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting who polled 833 votes and then president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat to become MCA's 10th president.
Speaking of running mate, who will Liow's be? Some members say it's a toss between party youth chief Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong and central committee member Datuk Seri Ong Ka Chuan.
Others also think Tee Keat might make a comeback since he still enjoys the support of members who look up to him as a leader who is brave to speak out in defence of the community.
Does Liow command support of the 2,500 delegates to the December assembly? It's hard to say, but the guest list at the wedding reception of former deputy president Tan Sri Chan Kong Choy's son in Kuala Lumpur recently has been the talk of the town as a show of Liow's strength.
Some big names in MCA -- Dr Chua and Tee Keat, among them -- were reportedly not invited to the event.
Party elections are months away, but in politics even a single day is considered very long. Expect to see more developments in the days ahead.
Posted: 26 Jul 2013 11:04 AM PDT
Dr Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser
In my recent title "Damned Dams & Noxious Nukes: Questioning Malaysia's Energy Policy" (SUARAM 2013, p.2), I had warned that the government would surely raise electricity tariffs after the 13th general election. Right on cue, TNB has just announced that there will be an upward review of the electricity tariff. They are justifying this increase by claiming that domestic consumers have been subsidised long enough. Yet who have been the main beneficiaries of the government subsidies?
The energy industry in Malaysia has become mega business and the government has been subsidizing private businesses handsomely for at
TNB used to be the sole electricity provider in the country but after the blackouts and brownouts in 1992, Independent Power Producers (IPPs) were allowed into the industry. They were politically well-connected but devoid of any electric power engineering or generating experience, and the power purchase agreements they signed with TNB allowed them highly favourable terms with take-or-pay arrangements for power generation, i.e. if there was no uptake, the IPPs were paid a capacity charge to offset this. Furthermore, they could pass their cost increases such as any fuel price increase to TNB. But TNB itself does not enjoy such a cost-pass-through formula to help it recover any increases in costs.
To solve these contradictions, TNB saw the only way out was to raise electricity tariffs and to urge consumers to use more electricity, including drying their clothes with electrical appliances! Either way, Malaysian consumers lost out and the need for energy conservation was put off once again despite the pious declarations at the Rio conference.
Tenaga has been keeping a reserve margin in excess of 30 per cent over the nation's total demand. In fact, this reserve margin was boosted to 42 per cent after the commissioning of two new power plants in 2003. With rising operational costs, including that of excess capacity
Posted: 26 Jul 2013 10:54 AM PDT
The Constitution does not preclude the Chinese from being prime minister but it must be with the support of the majority of the people. DAP, by undermining MCA is what causes the Chinese representation in the government to be weak. Without DAP, MCA is likely to garner more seats in Parliament and in the government.
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, NST
WIN-WIN DEAL: Accusations that the Chinese are sidelined politically ignore the fact that it is power sharing that has made this country prosper.
Posted: 26 Jul 2013 10:51 AM PDT
Realising the political advantage of cooperating with each other, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Sir Cheng-Lock Tan and senior leaders of MCA and Umno decided to formalise their cooperation by setting up the Alliance, a coalition of MCA and Umno.
Despite the fact that the Barisan Nasional supported Chinese education and the use of the Chinese language, the DAP convinced many Chinese that the Chinese, their culture and language are not given proper treatment by the Barisan Nasional coalition.
Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, NST
'KONGSI' CONCEPT: Each side has to sacrifice something so that the other can gain something
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