Rabu, 31 Julai 2013

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The secrets of the most improved school in Malaysia

Posted: 31 Jul 2013 12:58 PM PDT


(Business Circle) -  It's not enough to know your students as students; you've got to know your students personally, and love them as your children.

On a sunny day in June, the headmaster waited for me in full motocross gear: helmet, goggles, leather gloves, boots. He stood next to a Kawasaki KLX 150 scrambler. Right away, I felt nervous.

The headmaster's name is Omardani Mohd. Noor, 47, a stocky man with a perpetual smile. He's in charge of Sekolah Kebangsaan Lemoi, the most improved school in the country. The school, located in the deep jungles of Pahang, could possibly be the most rural school in Peninsular Malaysia.

Encik Omardani addressing the assembly

Encik Omardani addressing the assembly

Four years ago, when Omardani became headmaster of SK Lemoi, not one student passed the benchmark UPSR Year Six exam. This school for Orang Asli kids languished near the bottom of the country's nearly 7,700 primary schools. But in three consecutive years, the pass rate soared: 8 percent (2010), 28 percent (2011) and 60 percent (2012). In less than three years, SK Lemoi became one of the best Orang Asli schools in the country.

What are the secrets for accelerating improvement in rural schools? And if we can unlock these secrets, can we use it to dramatically improve more schools in the country? These were the questions that drove me – along with my driver, and a video crew – to the town of Ringlet in Cameron Highlands. From here the journey would take another three hours in a four-wheel drive vehicle.

So I felt anxious when the headmaster stared at our vehicle: a black Toyota Fortuner 4WD with city tires. "I've never seen a car like yours make it to the school. But I promise you that I can get you at least halfway there," Omardani said. On that reassuring note, he gunned his dirt bike. Away we went.

Within minutes, the tar road, which wound past vegetable farms, degraded into a rugged cement road. An hour later, the cement road vanished, leaving behind a narrow mud track with large rocks on the side and menacing holes in the middle.

When it rains, the road turns into a river of mud. The primary school teachers who go in and out every week on bikes have faced landslides, falling trees and swollen rivers. Once, a former principal fell off his bike, slid into a gorge and had to be rescued by villagers. It took us two hours to travel the final four kilometers.

So we weren't expecting much when we arrived. Maybe a school on stilts, with chickens running around.

But what we saw was an actual primary school with well-kept grounds located on a hill slope encircled by primary rainforest. Potted plants and flowering shrubs lined the walkways that led to six classrooms (one for each yeaer), a hall, a small library, a computer room, an office for teachers and a hostel housing fifty children.

SK Lemoi with the Cameron Highlands in the background

SK Lemoi with the Cameron Highlands in the background

Then there's the high-tech stuff in the middle of the jungle: a hybrid solar-cell generator that provides electricity day and night; an Astro dish for the kids to watch documentaries and cartoons; and a VSAT broadband Internet service, slow and spotty, but nonetheless a lifeline for the twelve Gen Y teachers to connect to the world.

On his first day at school, Omardani told me that all the roads were much worse. There was no high-tech stuff or electricity at night. The primary school offered only three years of education.

"Back then, I gave myself a fifty-fifty chance of success," said Omardani, who has served under the Ministry of Education for 23 years. "But I saw that the teachers were young and spirited. There were four women. If they could do it, so could I," he said with a laugh.

Teachers morning briefing

Teachers morning briefing

In several extended interviews with Omardani, I concluded that a major factor to the school's accelerated success was not due to Omardani himself. It's thanks largely to a combination of hardware and human resources that converged at the school between 2009 and 2010. Omardani and the first women teachers arrived at that time. A hostel was being built by the Ministry of Education. The solar generator came in a year later. And piped water.

These were life-changers: children who had to walk one or two hours to go to school from the two closest villages could now stay at the hostel during the school semester. The kids ate well and drank milk daily. They were taught physical hygiene. And they could do homework at night. Simple things like that improve grades.

The best school systems in the world, such as Finland's, are funded based on need, so that the most struggling schools get the most resources. Such a policy would make a big difference for Malaysian schools as well – given that Malaysia's student performance across all subjects now ranks among the bottom third of 74 countries. Amid the bleak outlook, SK Lemoi has proven that the right resources at the right time will improve student outcomes.

Read more at: http://www.businesscircle.com.my/the-secrets-of-the-most-improved-school-in-malaysia/ 

Don’t damage a child’s psyche

Posted: 31 Jul 2013 12:48 PM PDT


From disrespecting the sanctity of a human being to manipulating and politicising racial sentiments, the Education Ministry's obtrusive actions have wrecked the very fragile racial ties in the country.

Jeswan Kaur, FMT 

Last September the Education Ministry embarked on a mission to brainwash students and forewarn them against the 'harm' in embracing human beings from a different sexual orientation.

The ministry went so far as to to sanction a set of guidelines to 'educate' parents and students on rejecting all notions of homosexuality, bisexuality and transgenderism.

The then deputy Education Minister Mohd Puad Zarkashi was only too happy to take on the mission of eradicating the existence of the lesbian, gays, bisexuals and transgender communities.

For starters, a so-called parenting seminar was held on the topic of LGBT by the Yayasan Guru Malaysia Berhad and Putrajaya Schools Parent-Teacher Associations Consultative Council.

Leaflets stereotyping the LGBT groups were made available to the participating parents; they were told to be wary should their off-springs take an interets in V-neck T-shirts which the parents were told were the 'trademark' of homosexuals.

Then in April this year the Education Ministry decided to 'pep up' its anti-LGBT stand with the government-funded free-for-all musical 'Asmara Songsang (Abnornal Desire) which kicked off in March.

A blogger who had reviewed the musical remarked that it was "as narrow minded and bigoted a view as one could get".

But is the Education Ministry or the Barisan Nasional-led government perturbed by the hate and malignant culture it is so busy propagating in schools?

Don't damage a child's psyche

From its 'hate people who are different' mission, the Education Ministry has moved on to yet another soul-destroying step, this time 'teaching' the Muslim students and teachers to disregard the feelings and sentiments of the non-Muslims natives of this country.

When the non-Muslim students of a school were 'forced' to eat in a makeshift canteen near the school's toilet simply because the school decided to shut down its canteen to observe the fasting month of Ramadan, Deputy Education Minister II P Kamalanathan did not find the issue of the school disrespecting the basic rights of a child to a clean environment a big deal.

In fact, Kamalanathan dismissed any hint of racial discord taking place at the school and went on to support the school's alibi that the canteen was closed to facilitate renovation work.

Knowingly or otherwise, this insenstitive act by SK Seri Pristana has opened up a can of worms, one whose stench travels way back to the Education Ministry's four-walls.

Read more at: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/opinion/2013/08/01/dont-damage-a-childs-psyche/ 

Policing the police

Posted: 31 Jul 2013 12:45 PM PDT


While policing the police has become a major concern, Barisan Nasional (BN) political leaders are of the view that the Malaysian police force suffers badly from a "negative perception" of being corrupt. They are of the view that the success and achievements of PDRM are often not highlighted.

Christopher Fernandez, FMT 

In the past, drug abuse was the most feared enemy of Malaysians. Now, corruption has become Public Enemy No. 1. What is worse is how Malaysians view law enforcement agencies in the country.

Malaysians are up in arms that law enforcement agencies in the country have become heavily corrupted and have a strong dislike for having to deal with these public authorities. They have come forward in droves to channel their displeasure through different paths especially social media.

Malaysians have the idea that corruption is now a very serious matter in this country. But once again, it is the Polis DiRaja Malaysia or PDRM that has topped the list of complaints lodged with Suhakam against law enforcement agencies for violation of human rights.

According to Suhakam's 2012 annual report, of the 202 complaints made against the Police, Prisons, National Registration and Immigration departments, PDRM tallied a total of 126 complaints.

Inaction or no action by the police accounted for 44 complaints, abuse of power 43 complaints and use of excessive force 39 complaints. This is similar to the previous two years with 113 out of 156 complaints in 2011 and 125 out of 212 in 2010.

Suhakam's damning verdict

The Suhakam annual report states that the complaints against cops were related to assault of arrested persons during interrogation to compel them to confess. This clearly shows the wanton and brazen act of power and position abuse by the police.

Other complaints included allegations of unlawful arrest which is re-arresting those who have been freed; extended remand by producing the arrested person in the magistrate's courts in several districts; and complaints of intimidation to pressure those who complained against the police to withdraw their reports; and acts of biasness.

Owing to the gloomy findings of Suhakam against the police, follow-up measures have been recommended by the commission which is to fit every interrogation room with a closed circuit television, a doctor to examine the suspect before and after interrogation and for every complaint against an officer to be investigated either by Bukit Aman or the state police headquarters.

In the latest global corruption survey by Transparency International Malaysia (TI-M), the police and political parties are discovered to be the most corrupt public institutions in the country. This is according to the 2013 survey, which polled 1,000 Malaysians between September last year and March this year.

Respondents were asked to rate public institutions on a scale of 1 (least corrupt) to 5 (most corrupt). The police were rated 4 and political parties were rated a close second at 3.8, making PDRM the worst culprit.

It was discovered in this survey that 39 percent of the respondents believed corruption has become worse compared with 37 percent in 2011. However, 87 percent of those polled agreed ordinary people can make a difference in the fight against corruption.

Generally, the perceived effectiveness of the government's action in fighting corruption has decreased. Even the perception that the government's effectiveness in dealing with corruption has suffered, dropping to 31 percent from 40 percent in 2011.

Read more at: http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/opinion/2013/08/01/policing-the-police-2/ 

Wee says school head’s apology insufficient, suggests ‘severe action’

Posted: 31 Jul 2013 12:35 PM PDT


(The Malay Mail) - The apology by the SMK Alam Megah headmistress over her "balik India, China" remarks is insufficient as it had come with a claim that she had also insulted her own race when making the jibe, MCA Youth chief Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong (picture) said today.

The former deputy education minister pointed out that in her apology yesterday, the school head had claimed that apart from telling the Chinese and Indian students to return to their home country, she had also told the Muslims to "balik Indonesia".

"The dichotomy over citizenship is satirical," Wee said in a statement here. "If the allegations are found true, her behaviour calls for severe action and nothing less."

He said it was okay to reprimand the students if they had indeed been disruptive when the national anthem was being sung during the school assembly, but her use of such incendiary comments was unreasonable.

"The incident alone reflected our country poorly, but her apology even more so builds a seemingly intolerant and zealot image of Malaysia," he said.

"We are all rakyat Malaysia; patriotic and proud. Besides Malaysian citizens, any person who resides in Malaysia legally, with the necessary work permit and visa, whether he/she may be an investor, diplomat, expatriate or even the humble migrant worker does not deserve to be subjected to such bigoted hurls.

"Statements such as hers must cease immediately as they can taint Malaysia as racist, thereby putting off would-be investors and international relations," he added.

According to MIC leader A. Prakash Rao yesterday, the school headmistress admitted to making the jibe and apologised for her remarks but pointed out that apart from addressing the non-Malays, she had also told the Malay students to "return to Indonesia".

"She has promised to meet the students on Friday to apologise to them," news portal Malaysiakini reported the MIC leader as saying after he visited the school.

On Tuesday, Deputy Education Minister P. Kamalanathan confirmed that the headmistress was under probe for making the incendiary remark.

According to reports on Monday, the headmistress had purportedly lashed out at non-Malay students for being unruly during an assembly, allegedly telling them to "Balik India dan China" (Go back to India and China).

The latest incident in Shah Alam is reminiscent of the 2010 case where the headmistress of Sekolah Menegah Kebangsaan Bukit Selambau in Sungai Petani, Kedah accused Chinese pupils there of being insensitive towards their Muslim peers by eating in the school compound during Ramadan, before ordering them to "return to China" if they could not respect the culture of other races.

The same year, the head of a school in Kulai, Johor had labelled non-Malay pupils "pendatang" (immigrants).

Although both school heads later apologised, the incidents and others in the same vein led to accusations of perceived tolerance for racism within the government and the civil service that some blamed on programmes conducted by the National Civics Bureau (BTN). 

Dogs In Islam; An Insult Or Just Misunderstood?

Posted: 31 Jul 2013 12:30 PM PDT


(Malaysian Digest) - How many of us who cry foul that the video is an insult actually bother to research and find out about what Islam says about dogs? 

And how many of those who are non-Muslims understand the concern pertaining to dogs in Islam before crying foul that Muslims are being overly sensitive in the case of this video, or any other instances related to dogs? 

Dogs and Muslims are a very touchy subject, no doubt.

Just on the heels of Alvin Tan and Vivian Lee's 'bak kut teh' Ramadhan posting on their Facebook account, an old video uploaded several years ago has gone viral purportedly insulting Islam by associating Aidilfitri with dogs.

For the most part, Muslims hold on to the belief that dogs are haram in Islam.

To associate a holy celebration such as Aidilfitri with dogs is seen to be as a blatant insult and insensitive.

However, how much do we really understand about the position of dogs in Islam?

How many of us who cry foul that the video is an insult actually bother to research and find out about what Islam says about dogs?

And how many of those who are non-Muslims understand the concern pertaining to dogs in Islam before crying foul that Muslims are being overly sensitive in the case of this video, or any other instances related to dogs?

Before the age of borderless information, for the most part, we accept things and do not question much.

We were taught that dogs are haram and we stuck to it without questioning. 

But today, people have questions and as in the nature of questions, it has to be addressed.

In light of the video incident, we at Malaysian Digest, would like to attempt to break down this matter and bring to light several explanations on dogs in Islam to give a clearer perspective to our readers so you can make your own conclusion on whether the video was an insult to Islam or not.

Or could we be overly sensitive and quick to jump without thinking of how it makes us look in the end?

The first thing that is clear to most Muslims and is not far from being the truth is that owning dogs in Islam is not like owning cats or hamsters or birds or fishes.

Another thing that is also apparent but is overlooked by ignorant Muslims is that dogs, like any other animals, must not be mistreated or harmed.

Animal cruelty is a big no-no in Islam because Islam is a religion that is full of compassion. 

Muslims must not only treat humans with respect, but also all living things.

To the understanding of this writer, there is no where in Islam that states a Muslim can be cruel to animals. 

In a well-documented report, it has been said that the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) himself taught that a prostitute, and in some versions, a sinning man, secured their places in Heaven by saving the life of a dog dying of thirst in the desert.*

Therefore this clearly illustrates the point that Muslims are not to be cruel to dogs, or any other animals for that matter.

Now on the matter of portraying dogs equals to insulting Islam, it is rather subjective and resides in a grey area.

The best to do, of course, is not to quicky arrive at a conclusion that in the end will only serve in creating unnecessary tension.

Another thing that is apparent in the instance of Chetz Yusof and the dog-Raya video she made in 2010 is that, at best, it was not the most appropriate way to 'educate', as she reasoned.

Knowing full well that she lives in Malaysia, a country that is sensitive when it comes to racial and religious matters, what is perhaps an effort to educate can be misconstrued as an attempt to provoke.

The late film director, Yasmin Ahmad, also wanted to educate the public about dogs.

She too received flak, but the way she attempted to educate was not too provocative.

Yasmin featured a scene in her movie Gubra, where an Imam touched a dog before going to the mosque to do his prayers.

What we need to note before jumping and saying that it was insulting for her to portray that scene is the fact that the dog was dry.

If the dog was dry and the person touched the dog with dry hands, there is no issue.

One only needs to samak (washing the body part that came in contact with the dog with sand and water) if either dog our toucher was wet.

Therefore to say that Chetz Yusof's video was an insult to Islam, is probably jumping the gun a little. 

But the video is provocative in manner, in that Chetz played on the sensitivity of Malaysian Muslims, without attempting to further explain on the position of dogs in Islam.

Perhaps it can be said that Chetz herself is not aware of the full explanation of dogs in Islam, choosing only to take one side of the explanation that suited her.

That is the case with many today, who choose to only take half the explanation of something that suits their lifestyle, while leaving out the rest that they feel are too imposing.

Malaysian Digest spoke to Ustaz Daud Che Ngah, who said that a Muslim can keep dogs for guarding purposes, but this is based on three conditions:

1. Must get the consent of their neighbors, if the neighbors are Muslims.

2. Must be put in an area where they are free to ease themselves.

3. Must not be used to hunt other animals.

However Ustaz Daud also noted that dogs are not to be kept as pets like cats, because it is considered 'najis mughallazah'.

He added that a dog's owner can touch his or her dog, provided both are dry, and if either one is not, the owner needs to wash himself with sand water, and six times after with water (air mutlak).

Another local Islamic scholar, Dr Mohd Asri Zainal Abidin, meanwhile, told Malaysian Digest that dogs are not the enemies in Islam.

"Scientifically, the viruses a dog carries are not the same as cats; Muslims can keep dogs for safety but they must not be together in the house, or sleep together with their owners," he said.

"Islam does not tell us to go and kill dogs," Dr Asri added.

We also spoke to another scholar, Ustaz Rosdi Long, who echoed the statements made by Ustaz Daud Che Ngah and Dr Asri.

He added that a dogs position in Islam is not exactly like pigs, whereby it is stated clearly in the Quran that pigs are haram for Muslims.

Therefore different scholars have had differing views when it comes to dog ownership in Islam.

Meanwhile, on a website, www.islamicconcern.com*, an article says that it is not haram to own a dog, though it is not hygienic to keep a dog in the house; and it is not haram to touch a dog or any other animal. If the saliva of a dog touches you or any part of your clothing, then it is required of you to wash the body part touched and the item of clothing touched by the dog's mouth or snout. 

With the basic explanation given above, a conclusion can be made that Chetz video is more an indication of Chetz' lack of intelligence rather than a blatant insult of Islam.

Islam is a religion filled with compassion, as mentioned earlier. Sometimes it is the people who turn it into something that is not.

News reports yesterday said that Chetz Yusof has been hauled in by the police for questioning over the video.

Another important thing to note is that the video was posted by her in 2010. 

The police should also consider arresting the individuals who were responsible for recirculating the video these past few days, with the captions of 'Lagi Video Menghina Islam,' which is clearly more provocative than the video itself.

Among the first few accounts on YouTube to cause Chetz's video to go viral is TheHarimauTV and acaiseven fiska.

A recent update on the situation of Chetz Yusof is that she is being sent to Segamat IPD where a police report was initially lodged against the video she made.

Kelantan Banning Shisha Too

Posted: 31 Jul 2013 12:28 PM PDT


(NST) - "Based on my experience in other issues, we (state Fatwa Council) will normally agree with whatever decision made by the National Fatwa Council," he said.

Kelantan is set to issue a fatwa to ban shisha smoking to be in line with a edict on the matter made by the National Fatwa Council.

State mufti, Datuk Mohamad Shukri Mohamed, said the fatwa would be issued after the state's religious authorities had complied with specific procedures, including receiving royal consent.

"Firstly, I will meet the state's Fatwa Committee members after Hari Raya. Then, I will take our decision to the board members of the state Islamic and Malay Customs Council.

"Once they have agreed, we will submit the document to Sultan of Kelantan Sultan Muhammad V to get his consent to enable the fatwa to be gazetted," he said yesterday.

He said once gazetted, the fatwa could be adopted by local authorities, such as the Kota Baru Municipal Council, as a reference before they enact their own by-laws.

"Based on my experience in other issues, we (state Fatwa Council) will normally agree with whatever decision made by the National Fatwa Council," he said.

The shisha smoking issue became the topic of national headlines recently, especially after it was reported that substance abuse by youths in several states were linked to shisha.

Kelantan will join Perlis, Perak and Malacca in declaring shisha as haram.

The National Fatwa Council declared shisha smoking as haram for Muslims on July 19.

Its chairman, Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Dr Abdul Shukor Husin, was reported to have said that Muslims were also prohibited from providing shisha-smoking services or any activity associated with shisha.

He had said the council decided to prohibit shisha after listening to advice from experts from the Health Ministry and studying medical and scientific evidence. 

Ex-mufti: It’s okay to have dogs in Islam

Posted: 30 Jul 2013 08:23 PM PDT

Former Perlis mufti Mohd Asri nevertheless questions the motive of a Muslim woman for making a video celebrating Hari Raya with her dogs

Lisa J. Ariffin, FMT

Former Perlis mufti Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin said it was not wrong for Muslims to care for or even own a dog.

"In fact, it is rewardable in Islam to care for a dog. In a hadith, a prostitute was forgiven by Allah because she gave some water to a dog," he said.

"There is also a story of a bunch of youths who revolted against the government and were forced to flee to a cave, where they lived for a long time. These youths were joined by a dog.

"Therefore, the dog is not always a bad connotation. They are not our enemies," he added.

Mohd Asri was responding to a video showing a Muslim woman and her three dogs with 'takbir raya' playing in the background.

The video, made three years ago by Maznah Mohd Yusof, 38, also known as Chetz, surfaced recently on Facebook, and quickly provoked a firestorm of protests among Muslims groups.

The video, which lasts 1:44 seconds, portrays her in a black Baju Melayu performing ablutions before preparing kuih raya for her dogs.

It also broadcasts the words 'Raikanlah Aidilfitri bersama-sama, tanpa mengira spesis, warna, asal usul' (Celebrate Aidilfitri together regardless of species, colour, origin) while featuring the three dogs.



ROS orders DAP to hold fresh polls

Posted: 30 Jul 2013 06:32 PM PDT

The Registrar of Societies in its letter only says it is dissatisfied with the party explanation over the counting mistake they committed in the party polls, which Lim Guan Eng says is an act of double standard.

Leven Woon, FMT

The DAP has received a formal letter from the Registrar of Societies (ROS) yesterday demanding them to hold fresh party polls, a directive which is expected to anger the party.

In the one-paragraph letter dated yesterday, ROS says that they are dissatisfied with the explanation given by the party over the counting mistake they committed in the party polls last December, and instructed them to hold a fresh poll in accordance to its party constitution.

The letter was received by the party at 4.48pm yesterday, said party secretary-general Lim Guan Eng.

"ROS only stated that they were not satisfied with DAP's explanations, without stating the grounds and the reasons why," said Lim.

"DAP had provided a full explanations and co-operated fully with the RoS. All supporting documents were given to prove that the party elections in December last year was conducted properly, legally and democratically.
"Such a brief letter by R0S stating the directive but not the reasons why as well as not providing evidence that supports the R0S decision is most unprofessional, flagrant misuse of their exercise of power resulting in a great injustice to the DAP.

"Where is natural justice if an organisation or an individual is condemned or punished without knowing the reasons and what are the facts against him?" Lim said in a statement today.
DAP would announce its next course of action after an emergency central executive committee (CEC) meeting tonight.

The DAP election controversy first emerged when the party openly admitted early this year that a mistake had been committed by the party's returning officer when transferring the tabulated votes for several candidate using Microsoft Excel.

The amended results saw Lim's political secretary, Zairil Khir Johari, moving up from the 39th position to 20th – the last spot in the CEC.

However, since Zairil was already appointed to the CEC, both him and the person he replaced – Vincent Wu – were retained in the CEC.

"When this error was discovered, this was admitted to and rectified by the party voluntarily without being exposed by any outside parties. The party is now punished for refusing to cover-up mistakes, and for being both honest and truthful," Lim said today.



Malaysian politics of the future

Posted: 30 Jul 2013 05:29 PM PDT

Everyone was involved in this race, religion, language and royalty battle -- including Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and Anwar Ibrahim -- with everyone claiming to represent the voice of the Malays. So all this actually started in 1988 and not 2008 -- 20 years before the Great Political Tsunami of March 2008. Most people look at 2008 as the 'turning point'. 2008 may have been when it 'broke'. But 20 years earlier in 1988 was when the cancer started. It is just that not many people noticed the cancer until it reached 'stage four' 20 years later in 2008.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

'Non-Muslims are insulting our religion'

Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said Muslims "do not insult" other religions.

(Bernama) - Action that touch Muslim sensitivities must stop or else it will create tension just like what is happening in other Muslim countries.

Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said the action by certain quarters should not happen in a country that is enjoying the peace.

"This shows that there is no deep understanding within society."

"Muslims do not insult the religion of non-Muslims such as Christianity and Hinduism."

"But non-Muslims are insulting our religion," he said at the breaking of fast with orphans of Rumah Amal Kasih Bestari here last night.

The Deputy Prime Minister called for stern action to be taken against the culprits for tarnishing the image and sanctity of Islam.

"The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) and the Home Ministry must act fast to prevent a recurrence."


Years ago if I was to insert a caption below the above photo of Iranians at prayer that said "Iranians helping to look for Ayatollah Khomeini's contact lenses" most, Muslims included, would have taken that as a joke. Today, Muslims would consider that as an insult to Islam if it were done by a non-Muslim and blasphemy if done by a Muslim.

How times have changed. We have lost our sense of humour. Everything, even if done in jest, is now seen as an act of provocation and an insult (or blasphemy). What has happened to our country?

Nothing happens overnight. Cancer takes years to reach the terminal stage. Rust takes years to eat into metal. Rot takes years to destroy wood. Hate takes a generation to divide society.

And now that time has come when Malaysian society has become divided, as it never has before -- even worse than in 1969, which is touted as the blackest day in post-Merdeka Malaysian history.

How did we reach this stage where intolerance, suspicion, hate, and more, have pitted Malaysians against one another? We need to take a walk down memory lane to understand what is happening in Malaysia and to recognise how politicians -- as what has happened in many other countries all over the world as well -- have pushed Malaysia to the brink of a civil war.

Yes, it is easy to blame Umno for the current state of affairs in Malaysia. But it takes two hands to clap. It takes two to tango. It takes two sides to go to war. So no one is exempted in this hate campaign that is currently threatening to engulf Malaysia in one of its worst crisis in history.

I have said this before, many times, and I will say it again. Malaysian politics is about the 3Rs: race, religion and royalty. The acknowledgment of the existence of the 3Rs was the foundation of Merdeka. It was how Malaya gained Merdeka. Without the agreement regarding the 3Rs Merdeka would have been almost impossible.

Malaysians of all races took 12 years to negotiate the Merdeka Agreement to resolve the issue of the 3Rs. Most Malays uphold and hold dear the 3Rs. Most non-Malays oppose and detest the 3Rs.

That one issue alone almost derailed the negotiations for Merdeka. Neither the Malays nor the non-Malays could agree on the matter. Finally they had to meet in the middle somewhere and both sides had to compromise in the interest of gaining Merdeka.

But the Malays were not entirely happy with the Agreement. And neither were the non-Malays. But that is what compromises are all about. It is not about making one side happy. It is about both sides sacrificing something for the sake of coming to an agreement that would otherwise not have been possible.

The four things that the Malays would not let go were, first, the acknowledgment that the Malays are the original people of the country. And that was why the Federation of Malaya of 1948 was translated into Persekutuan Tanah Melayu. Hence Malaya meant Melayu to the Malays.

As a trade-off (compromise) the Malays agreed to give the non-Malays citizenship although this meant the large majority Malays would now be reduced to a smaller majority of the population of post-Merdeka Malaya.

Next was the issue of religion. Islam would be acknowledged as the religion of the Federation but all the non-Islam religions would be free to be practiced as long as the non-Muslims do not propagate their religion to the Muslims or 'interfere' with Islam.

Third, the Malay Language would be acknowledged as the official language of the Federation -- Bahasa Kebangsaan -- while the non-Malays would be allowed their vernacular schools to educate their children in their mother tongue.

Finally, the Monarchies would be maintained, although reduced to a mere Constitutional Monarchy, who would be head of Islam in the states as well as at federal level (the Agong).

And it would be considered sedition and punishable by law to question or dispute these four points in the Merdeka Agreement.

Furthermore, the fact that we refer to Malaysians of different races and religious persuasions as Malays and non-Malays or Muslims and non-Muslims demonstrates that Malays and Muslims come first and all 'others' are called nons -- non-Malays and non-Muslims.

This is a sort of 'psychological' divide that was planted into the minds of all pre-Merdeka Malaysians. Malaya is 'Tanah Melayu'. Malays are the 'owners' of the country. Malay is the language of the country. Islam is the religion of the country. And the monarchs are the rulers of the Malays -- the Raja-Raja Melayu, as the Malays would call them.

This was all agreed during the time of my grandfather. I, too, am now a grandfather of five grandchildren. Hence we are talking about five generations ago or more than 100 years of Malaysians if we take 25 years to represent one generation.

As I said, this was planted into the minds of the Malays five generations ago. So how do we erase that from the minds of the Malays after five generations of regarding that as being 'The Agreement'? To question any one of those four points would be seen as a breach of agreement. And if you want to terminate that 'Agreement' then you will also need to terminate the other 'compromises' that came with that 'Agreement'.

That is how the minds of the Malays work. The Malays think they have sacrificed (gave) certain things to gain certain things. Hence if you take back what they gained they too would want to take back what they gave. And how do you make the Malays understand that what they 'gave' was to the immigrants (China- and India-born Malayans) whereas the present generation of non-Malays are not immigrants but Malaysian-born?

This would be the duty of the leaders and politicians to educate the Malays so that they can understand that the 'Agreement' was made with the Chinese and Indians from China and India. Today, most of these people are no longer alive (they came to Malaya between the mid-1800s to about 1920). Those Chinese and Indians in Malaysia still alive did not come from China or India (unless they are 100 years old or older). They were born in Malaysia.

Hence that would make them Malaysians and not Chinese or Indians.

A sensible or thinking person would understand this. But when the leaders and politicians keep playing up the issue of the 3Rs and constantly remind the Malays of their 'special rights' and that the non-Malays do not have these same rights -- plus the 'other side' keeps questioning these 'rights' and push the Malays into a 'siege mentality' -- we will get what we are seeing in Malaysia today: a great divide based on race and religion.

As I said earlier: it is easy to blame Umno for the current state of affairs in Malaysia. But it takes two hands to clap. It takes two to tango. It takes two sides to go to war. So no one is exempted in this hate campaign that is currently threatening to engulf Malaysia in one of its worst crisis in history.

The government side 'fights' to uphold these four points plus the 'special position' of the Malays. Hence the Malays believe in these things while the non-Malays become bitterly opposed to them.

The opposition, on the other hand, questions and opposes these four points plus the 'special position' of the Malays. Hence the Malays believe they are under siege while the non-Malays believe they are subjected to a great injustice.

And it will be a never-ending story for many generations more to come.

Negotiating Merdeka was not easy. It would have been easy had it been the Malays versus the British with the non-Malays being less than 10% of the population.

But the non-Malays were not less than 10% of the population. They were almost half the population. Hence it cannot be the Malays versus the British. It had to be the Malays, Chinese and Indians versus the British.

And this was the difficult part about the negotiations for Merdeka. You had to balance the needs and aspirations of all the three races and not just that of the Malays -- which would have been much simpler.

It is time that we, the rakyat, take the politicians from both sides of the political divide to task for what Malaysia has become. This is all their fault. They should teach Malaysians of all races proper Malayan history. The 3Rs should no longer be a political weapon in the pursuit of power.

Leave the 3Rs alone. No need to argue about it. This matter was agreed before Malaya gained Merdeka. The government does not need to 'fight' to uphold it because sensible Malaysians do not want to remove Islam as the religion of the Federation, remove Malay as the language of the Federation, or abolish the Monarchy and turn Malaysia into a Republic.

The non-Malays, in turn, should not whack Islam and call it an outdated and primitive religion, or whack Bahasa Malaysia and call it a low-class language, or propagate the abolishing of the monarchy on grounds that it is a total waste of money.

We know these are 'sore points'. So why do we want to play up these sore points knowing it is just going to rub people the wrong way? The Malays will never compromise on these issues. So let us see how we can navigate around it rather than meet it head-on in a confrontation.

As I said earlier, this problem did not develop overnight. Just like cancer, rust and rot, it took a long time to come to what it is now. And both sides of the political divide contributed to this.

Let us go back to the story of Merdeka. As I have explained, Merdeka was gained against the backdrop of a compromise on the 3Rs. No one race gained everything it wanted. Everyone had to sacrifice something to gain something else.

In 1957, after 12 years of 'bickering', Malaya gained Merdeka. And that was because the British only agreed to talk to the liberals and not to the extremists or conservatives.

Then, slowly, over another 12 years, the extremists strengthened their hold on Umno and ousted the liberals. And that was basically what 'May 13' was all about -- the catalyst to oust the liberals.

Then, for the next 12 years, Malaysia rebuilt itself from the ashes of 'May 13'. Tun Razak created the multi-racial Barisan Nasional and Hussein Onn -- a.k.a Bapa Perpaduan or Father of Unity -- rebuilt national unity.

Then, in 1981, Dr Mahathir Mohammad took over and he focused on trying to turn Malaysia into another Japan, Korea or Taiwan. It was all about the economy and he was obsessed with beating Singapore even if he had to take shortcuts that were less than kosher and at times immoral if not illegal.

Then, six years later, Umno split into two. And, for the next ten years or so, the Malays (meaning Umno and the other Malay parties such as PAS and Semangat 46) were embroiled in the politics of the 3Rs with each side trying to present itself as the true fighters (perjuang) of their race, religion, language and the royalty (Raja-Raja Melayu).

Everyone was involved in this race, religion, language and royalty battle -- including Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah and Anwar Ibrahim -- with everyone claiming to represent the voice of the Malays.

So all this actually started in 1988 and not 2008 -- 20 years before the Great Political Tsunami of March 2008.  

Most people look at 2008 as the 'turning point'. 2008 may have been when it 'broke'. But 20 years earlier in 1988 was when the cancer started. It is just that not many people noticed the cancer until it reached 'stage four' 20 years later in 2008.

And now the cancer is terminal.

Many of those who were in Umno back in 1988 are now in the opposition. But they too contributed to the problem when they were still bickering in Umno and fighting for power within Umno.

Today, they wash their hands of the problem and blame Umno for it. Yes, if seen from 2008 that may appear like it is true. But then 1988 was when the cancer first started. It took 20 years from 1988 to 2008 to become a problem.

So now they need to take responsibility and do something about it. Don't just shout at Umno to stop this 3Rs politicking. The opposition too must do the same. And as long as the 3Rs politics is a proven recipe for Umno to retain power don't expect Umno to stop using it.

No, I am not saying Unno is innocent. I am saying we are not innocent as well. And as long as we continue doing what Umno is doing then we lose the moral high ground to whack Umno for using the 3Rs politics.

In short, a whore cannot call another woman a prostitute.


Raja Petra ordered to pay RM300,000 over defamation suit

Posted: 30 Jul 2013 02:37 PM PDT

(Bernama) - The High Court today ordered Malaysia-Today editor Raja Petra Kamarudin to pay RM300,000 in damages to prominent lawyer Datuk Seri Muhammad Shafee Abdullah for defamation.

Senior Assistant Registrar Farah Hana Hashim also ordered Raja Petra to pay five percent in interest per annum from the date of the assessment order, which was last year, until full settlement.

On Feb 10, 2011, Muhammad Shafee succeeded in getting a judgment in his suit against Raja Petra over three articles posted on his Malaysia-Today website in Aug 2008.

Muhammad Shafee made an application under Order 14A of the Rules of the High Court 1980 for the disposal of the suit based on a point of law without going for a full trial, claiming that there were defamatory words in the three articles posted on the website.

Justice Datuk John Louis O'Hara, who allowed Muhammad Shafee's application, held that Raja Petra was liable over the articles and ruled that they were defamatory of Muhammad Shafee.   

O'Hara ordered the quantum of damages to be assessed by the court's senior assistant registrar.

Farah Hana, in her written ruling, said the court awarded damages for a global sum of RM300,000 after considering Muhammad Shafee's position and standing as an Advocate and Solicitor with wide experience and the various positions he held.

She said Muhammad Shafee had never in any way provoked Raja Petra to make the defamatory statements and there was also no evidence that showed any bad conduct on the part of the lawyer.

Farah Hana held that the defamatory statements were very grave and serious in nature in which they gravely defamed Muhammad Shafee and destroyed his reputation, goodwill, honour, as well as a professional lawyer.

"The defendant's (Raja Petra) conduct in maliciously publishing the offending passages had failed to show repentance from what he did from the time of the libel to the moment of the verdict," she said.

The court also held that Raja Petra had never made any attempt to apologise or retract the said passages, but had permitted to drag the matter to the court to the detriment of Muhammad Shafee.

Muhammad Shafee had filed the suit against Raja Petra in August 2008 for posting on Aug 6, 7 and 11 of that year the three articles, titled "Shafee Abdullah: Sodomologist Extraordinaire", "Money, Power and Sex: What Motivates Man" and "The Real Dalang Behind The Anwar Sodomy Allegation" on the website, which he claimed had defamed him.

In a statement of defence filed on Nov 25, 2008, Raja Petra denied that the three articles were false, malicious or defamatory of the lawyer.

Counsel S.Ravindran represented Muhammad Shafee, while Jadadish Chandra acted for Raja Petra.


Are we sliding to a state of lawlessness?

Posted: 30 Jul 2013 02:31 PM PDT


ANOTHER day, another shooting. It seems as if we are becoming as dangerous as some South American nations where gun violence seems to be the norm.

It's just not confined to one or two areas but is happening across the nation.

Three shootings in two days. A 25-year-old man, Jasrafveendeerjeet Singh, was shot in front of a restaurant in Ipoh at 10.15pm. Another man, G. Santhana Samy, 30, was wounded in the thigh when he stopped at a traffic light in Butterworth at 8.30pm.

And in Kuala Lumpur, Arab-Malaysian Development Bank founder Hussain Ahmad Najadi died from multiple bullet wounds. He was shot in Lorong Ceylon while walking with his wife to his car in broad daylight.

These incidents followed the murder attempt of MyWatch chairman R. Sri Sanjeevan in Seremban on Saturday who was shot when his car stopped at the traffic lights.

The police response: the setting-up of yet another "high-powered" task force to investigate the crime. Actually, we have lost count of how many high-owered or high-level committees and task forces have been set up to investigate the various shooting crimes.

In fact, we are still waiting for some indication of the progress made by the task force set up in May to hunt down those responsible for the spate of shooting cases then, including the murder of Customs deputy director-general Datuk Shaharuddin Ibrahim.

Federal CID director Comm Datuk Seri Mohd Bakri Zinin had announced that the special CID task force, headed by Federal principal assistant director of Serious Crime (D9) Senior Asst Comm Datuk Huzir Mohamed would identify and arrest the criminals.

At the same time, Penang police have also set up a separate task force to probe a series of shootings, which left at least four people dead over the past five months.

From seemingly ordinary Joes to prominent people being gunned down, the public can't help but wonder whether we are on a rapid slide to a state of lawlessness. The sense of insecurity and nervousness is definitely growing.

Apart from gun-toting criminals, robbers are crashing restaurants to rob the patrons en masse.

Eateries that used to operate till the wee hours are now closing early; there are way fewer people who want to risk being robbed while having supper.

Even snatch thieves have grown more vicious and brazen. They do not just grab but often slash their victims to incapacitate them, making their getaway easier.

In such a state of affairs, we are almost relieved to read of cases where the "victim" is an ATM. The thieves who hack away and drag out these cash-vending machines seem almost harmless and preferable to those who prey on people.

Undoubtedly, the police have their hands full. Theirs is no easy task with no easy solutions. So far, they are focusing on identifying weapons smugglers to try to root out the source of gun-related crimes.

But more action and arrests are what is desperately needed because the ferocity and the increasing number of assassinations are striking fear in all of us.

Our top cops may continue to try to assure us that our nation is still very safe but unfortunately, that's just not good enough.


‘I didn’t say Sanjeevan’s friends were involved’

Posted: 30 Jul 2013 02:21 PM PDT

Khalid Abu Bakar backpaddles on a statement he gave to FMT yesterday, where he said the MyWatch chairman's friends had masterminded his shooting on Saturday. 

G. Vinod, FMT

Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar dismissed a FMT report which quoted him as saying that MyWatch chairman R Sri Sanjeevan's friends were behind an attempt to take his life on Saturday.


Khalid said that all he told reporters at a press conference yesterday was that the police are still investigating who was responsible for the attempt on the anti-crime NGO chief's life.

"I told reporters during a press conference yesterday to give us time to complete our probe into the matter. That was all," Khalid was reported saying in Malaysiakini.

Yesterday, FMT reported the IGP as saying that those who shot Sanjeevan over the weekend were not hired killers but the anti crime watchdog's friends.

"No, they are not hired killers. They are his friends," Khalid told FMT. His response was based on a question posed to him by a FMT journalist after his press conference.

The FMT report did not state that he said it during his press conference.

Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) public relations officer ACP Ramli Mohamed Yoosuf urged news portal to rectify the report, claiming it could be exploited to portray a negative impression on the conduct of police investigations.

"The title of this report is not only inaccurate but it could also mislead readers into believing that the IGP had indeed said that the police knew for certain that the shooters were friends of Sanjeevan.

"This in turn, might be misconstrued by interested parties who could exploit the report to portray a negative impression on the conduct of police investigations," said Ramli in a letter to FMT this morning.

Ramli added that he was present at the press conference, with 15 other reporters, and vouched for Khalid, saying the IGP never accused Sanjeevan's friends of being involved in the shooting.

"Several journalists have asked me if the FMT report reflected what the IGP said because they had not heard such a statement made by him. Simply put, it's not the truth," said Ramli.



Who cares?

Posted: 30 Jul 2013 02:17 PM PDT


And since this is just a movie, we should perhaps look at it from the perspectives of artistic creations instead of blockading it with mind-controlled ideologies.

By Tay Tian Yan, Translated by Dominic Loh, Sin Chew Daily

The Wong Kew-Lit that I know is an insistent locally bred director.

He has in the past made a number of local documentaries, including Malaysia My Home, My New Village Stories and My Roots which have been aired over paid TV channels.

His documentaries register the lives and history of Chinese Malaysians in full honesty.

Some of them are very straightforward and unpretentious, such as capturing the moments of a primary school pupil, the sweat and tears of people in the street, and the insistence towards the Chinese culture and traditions by the elderlies.

These films will often stay lingering in our heads for an extended period of time after seeing them.

To videotape the work of rubber tappers, Wong and his team had to start before sunrise, get tensed up for the entire month just to capture the best of cultural happenings. In order to document the life in new villages, they regurgitated the history of new villages in Malaysia, and left their footprints in many of them.

Wong has since acquired a profound sense of affection for Chinese new villages after he finished up with My New Village Stories.



DAP spurns BN rural area focus notion

Posted: 30 Jul 2013 02:14 PM PDT

DAP strategist says 70 percent of Malaysia's population are in semi- or fully-urbanised areas.

Hawkeye, FMT

A DAP leader has rubbished the notion that Umno should focus on rural areas in the view that Barisan Nasional (BN) continues to receive support from voters in such localities since the conclusion of the May 5 general election.

DAP strategist Liew Chin Tong said 70 percent of the country's growing population are already living in areas classified as semi- or fully-urbanise.

In an interview, he said 60% of the traditional Malay villagers are now also situated in urbanise areas based on the population census 2010.

Liew, who is also the Kluang MP, was responding to a call by former Kelantan Umno elections director Tuan Hashim Tuan Yaakob for Umno to shift its presence in urbanise areas to rural districts where voters have shown a strong support for BN despite the rise of Pakatan Rakyat in the last two elections.

The call was made after the conclusion of the Kuala Besut state by-election in Terengganu this month where BN retained the seat with a higher majority.

Among others, Thailand was cited as an example where former premier Thaksin Shinawatra continues to enjoy popular political support due to his devotion to help the rural community in most of the country's 76 provinces.

To this, Liew said Malaysia is certainty not Thailand because the former's rural areas are shrinking fast due to the rapid development rate.

It is believed that Malaysia is seeing record projects of land clearing as there is a demand for plantations, exploration for logging or mining prospects, and housing.

Liew said within the next five years, the urban community is expected to grow in tandem with the population growth and economic push for highly skilled workers.

"There might not be large tracts of rural land left in the next several years. The country's development push is naturally moving into our hinterland."

Umno should focus on what the voters are craving for, which is zero tolerance for corruption and advocating transparency to be underpinned by good governance standards instead of just settling on consolidating support in the rural areas, he said.

There is also a need to adopt equality standards at the expense of racialism as this is needed to drive the country forward, said Liew.



Kredit: www.malaysia-today.net

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