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By Elviza Michele Kamal We were 17 and didn’t know any better. On that fateful Saturday evening I waited for Rai to pick me for some serious merrymaking. Rai was a girl we all loved to hate: she was faultless. Blessed with the intellect of a genius, sharp attractive features, soft wavy hair and a smile that rivaled any of Colgate’s billboard models, Rai was a ray of sunshine for her family. Above all, to me, Rai knew how to be a friend whenever I was in need. 1992 was Rai’s year. She aced all the subjects in her SPM, passed her driving test and even got herself a new boyfriend. To top it all off, her parents had just surprised her with a brand new Honda Civic in the porch – for her sole use. But my wait that Saturday had no end. Seconds turned to minutes, minutes to hours and as twilight turned to night, I knew something was wrong. In the pre-handphone era, I lost count how many times I had dialed Rai’s home number. I fell asleep not knowing if tomorrow would come. Rai died instantaneously; some said her death was painless. In her rush to pick her boyfriend before making her way to my house, Rai was speeding at 130 kilometres an hour – at least. She lost control of the Honda; hit the concrete dividing barrier; and turned the vehicle over a few times around before an oncoming factory bus eventually crashed into her. Checkmate. The next few days were a blur of activities I can no longer recall in exact detail. But what still haunts me until today is the sound of Rai’s mother wailing in despair. The loss of her only daughter was so great; she was never the same woman again. If only Rai had been educated on road safety; if only someone had drilled into her brilliant skull that speed killed; if only Automated Enforcement System (AES) had instilled the fear of God into her… we would now be taking our kids to play gym on weekends and complaining about our husbands. However, I live in a nation with massively polarised political views. Let’s call a spade a spade: we all love to politicise everything. Everyone out there – especially the politicians – is set to get us and cheat our hard-earned money in the name of administration and tax. All is good in the name of the overrated phrase of ‘we agree to disagree’. I have been following the intense debate on AES closely. But it was Kinabatangan MP Bung Mokhtar Radin’s statement that brought my simmering anger to boiling point. He wanted AES to be postponed because it is too near to the general election. Yes, you heard me. Setting the record straight Please Kinabatangan, don’t forsake the safety of my family on the road to pave way for your ambitions in the election. You can keep your reservations about the AES where the sun doesn’t shine. And Pokok Sena (Mahfuz Omar), please don’t hide behind your pseudo-Herculean effort of providing free legal service to those caught. You are a politician and I am a mother. How could we then ever speak the same lingo in so far as safety is concerned? So my quest began. I researched and read about AES until I became blue in the face from sleep-deprivation. I called the relevant authorities and companies. Some were gracious enough to feed me information I needed while the rest just slammed down the phone on me. No matter, for I wanted to know better. Judgment must be formed on a correct axis and someone must set the record straight. This article stands to be corrected from any angle, however, in the spirit of putting issue into perspective. I will cover only a few concerns arising from the AES. Who’s making RM700 million? The two companies managing the AES are not making RM700 million in the span of five years as insisted upon by the opposition. AES is a private finance initiative (PFI) which sees the government not forking out a single cent to set up the system or guarantee any payment in exchange of services rendered by the two companies that had won the contract over nine other bidders. At the end of five years, the government will fully own the system without having to reimburse the companies. The profit return of the two companies is designed on a risk-reward mechanism as opposed to market norms and other government lopsided contracts. But as the opposition clouds the public’s view on the issue of revenue of the companies alone, no one seems to care about how much money had been spent to implement the AES. Each of the AES camera costs RM240k per unit (excluding the cost for telecommunications, civil works, infrastructure, back office and depot costs). Above all, if you are not speeding or beating red lights, not a single cent can be raised from the RM700 million projected revenue.So why fret about it? Camera at 30 kilometre per hour spots Referring to the question as to why some of the AES locations are not within a “blackspot” area, JPJ had issued a statement prior to the launch of the first phase that these proposed locations will be updated from time to time, based on the findings of the JPJ’s AES technical committee. This is actually a non-issue. Pemuda Umno Malaysia, too, has issued a statement questioning the need to place AES cameras at locations with a 30km/hour speed limit. While the question is valid, the five proposed cameras at the 30km/hour zones have a greater spirit and reasoning behind it: these five spots are in close proximity to schools and hospitals. This is actually in line with the findings of a non-profit company based in the UK known as Safer Roads. If you hit a child – who has smaller body surface area and lack the ability to make correct decision on road safety – at a speed of 40 miles per hour, you will kill the child. Pleas At the end of this tiring debate – when you take money and implementation out of the equation – safety remains priceless. Road safety is a habit. If we don’t start now, we will lose another Rai everyday on our roads. Have we become so calculative with dollars and cents that we are skeptical of devices set up to save our lives on the road? Have we become a nation so jaded with every public policy that we fail to see what matters the most while driving are discipline and a sense of responsibility? Have we become a nation so obsessed in fine-tuning implementation that we forget that life does not carry a price tag? Have we become a nation so bereft of compassion that we put political interest ahead of a child’s safety on the road? And how I wish the AES had been implemented 20 years ago, so I could still have Rai in my life; so Rai’s mother can still crack a smile on her face. Speed kills. That is all there is to it. Elviza is a lawyer on sabbatical leave; she is a mother first above everything else. She tweets at @elviza
HIDUP INI BERNAFASKAN CINTA KASIHProf Madya Dato’ Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin (sertai facebook DrMAZA.com dan twitter realDrMAZA) Perkataan rahmat yang digunakan dalam bahasa kita berasal dari bahasa Arab. Rahmah dari kata rahima yang bermaksud kasih atau kasihan belas. Dari perkataan ini lahirnya perkataan rahim (womb), perkataan ar-Rahman dan ar-Rahim dari akar rahima ataupun rahmat dalam bahasa kita dan lain-lain lagi. Hidup ini dibina atas cinta dan rahmat. Tanpa cinta dan kasih hancurlah kehidupan. Justeru surah-surah dalam al-Quran kesemuanya –kecuali Surah at-Taubah- bermula dengan basmalah iaitu ‘dengan nama Allah ar-Rahman (Yang Maha Pengasih) Lagi ar-Rahim (Maha Penyayang)’. Hubungan Tuhan dengan manusia serta alam keseluruhannya berasaskan cinta dan kasih. Hubungan manusia dengan Tuhan juga berasaskan cinta dan kasih. Mencintai Tuhan adalah asas dalam keimanan. Sesiapa yang membenci Tuhan maka dia tidak beriman. Dakwah Atas Rahmat Tuhan jadikan belas kasih dan sayang sebagai asas kehidupan yang sejati. Ketika membicarakan tentang Nabi Muhammad s.a.w, Allah menyebut: (maksudnya) “Sesungguhnya telah datang kepada kamu seorang rasul dari golongan kamu sendiri, yang menjadi sangat berat kepadanya sebarang kesusahan yang ditanggung oleh kamu, yang sangat inginkan kebaikan bagi kamu, (dan) dia pula kepada orang-orang yang beriman sangat belas sayang dan sangat rahmat (kasih) (Surah at-Taubah, 128). Ertinya, dakwah Nabi s.a.w tidak bermula kebencian kepada mana-mana kumpulan yang tidak melancar permusuhan kepada ajaran Allah. Tidak seperti anggapan bahawa kebencian adalah asas hubungan antara muslim dengan Barat ataupun Timur, dengan Yahudi ataupun Kristian, dengan secularist ataupun agnostic ataupun selain mereka. Asas hubungan muslim dengan pihak lain bukan dengan slogan ‘permusuhan’ ataupun ‘kebencian’ seperti yang difahami oleh sesetengah pihak. Sebaliknya ia berasaskan misi Nabi s.a.w : (maksudnya) “Kami (Allah) tidak utuskan engkau (Wahai Muhammad) melainkan rahmat untuk sekelian alam” (Surah al-Anbiya 107) Suami Isteri Hubungan suami isteri dibina atas cinta dan rahmat. Ia tidak dibina atas selera seks semata tanpa rasa kasih dan rahmat. Tidak juga atas kehendak wanita yang mahukan nafkah dan tempat tinggal semata. Jika hanya atas selera seks, atau atas keperluan untuk makan dan pakai ataupun kepentingan yang lain tanpa ikatan cinta dan rahmat, kehidupan suami isteri tidak akan bahagia. Itu sebenarnya hubungan untuk mengambil kesempatan atas kepentingan tersendiri antara pasangan. Akhirnya ia akan melahirkan rasa tidak puas hati dan kebencian. Rasa cinta dan kasih simpati dalam hubungan pasangan adalah fitrah alam ciptaan Tuhan. Firman Allah: (maksudnya) “Dan di antara tanda-tanda kebesaranNYA, bahawa Dia menciptakan untuk kamu pasangan dari jenis kamu sendiri, supaya kamu bersenang mesra dengannya, dan dijadikannya antara kamu (suami isteri) perasaan kasih sayang dan rahmat (belas kasihan). Sesungguhnya yang demikian itu mengandungi keterangan-keterangan bagi orang-orang yang berfikir”. (Surah ar-Rum, 21) Sesiapa yang kononnya mencintai ataupun dicintai pasangannya hanya kerana kedudukan ataupun hartanya maka sesungguhnya dia sedang hidup di luar dari ‘natural design’ yang Tuhan tetapkan untuk kehidupan pasangan suami-isteri. Sesiapa yang disayangi kerana harta ataupun kedudukannya semata, hakikatnya dia tidak disayangi ataupun dicintai tetapi sedang dikhianati. Apabila kedudukan dan hartanya hilang, maka dia akan melihat kepalsuan kehidupan. Maka isteri yang hanya mementing harta dan pangkat dalam hubungan, bukanlah isteri dalam ertikata sebenar. Dia tidak patut menduduki tempat ‘seorang isteri’ dalam kehidupan seorang lelaki. Isteri yang seperti itulah yang telah merosakkan reputasi ramai pemimpin dunia ini. Wanita yang seperti itu patut ‘dipecat’ dari kerusi isteri. Begitulah juga jika sesiapa yang memiliki suami yang hanya mahukan seks semata, tanpa memberikan belaian kasih sayang. Tubuh diratah rakus, disetubuhi sepuasnya tapi dalam masa yang lain dimaki hamun, ataupun dipukul dan dihina semahunya. Lelaki yang seperti itu tidak layak menduduki tempat sebagai suami dalam kehidupan. Jika seorang wanita memiliki suami seperti itu, dia sepatutnya menggunakan peruntukan syarak seperti khulu’ dan fasakh agar lelaki seperti itu tidak hadir dalam hidupnya dan tidak lagi menjamah tubuhnya. Andainya ada pegawai yang menasihati ‘jangan minta cerai, sabar!’ itu menunjukkan dia pegawai agama yang malas membuka fail, ataupun jahil tentang tabiat penciptaan kehidupan yang Allah jadikan. Sabda Nabi s.a.w mengherdik lelaki seperti ini dengan menyatakan: “Sengaja seseorang kamu memukul isterinya bagaikan hamba sahaya kemudian menyetubuhinya di waktu lain” (Riwayat al-Bukhari dan Muslim). Ibubapa Hubungan antara keluarga juga hendaklah atas cinta dan belas kasih. Seorang anak hendaklah dibesarkan atas belas kasih, bukan kebencian ibubapa. Untuk itu dalam al-Quran, Allah mengajar kita berdoa kepada kedua ibubapa dengan menyatakan (maksudnya) “Katakanlah: Wahai Tuhanku, kasihanilah mereka berdua seperti mereka mendidikku semasa kecil” (Surah al-Isra, 24). Walaupun arahan ini ditujukan kepada anak, tetapi ia pengajaran buat ibubapa agar mendidik anak dengan belas kasihan. Jika ibubapa tidak mendidik anak dengan belas kasihan semasa kecil, maka bagaimana mungkin doa ini akan sesuai untuk mereka nanti?! Bapa ataupun ibu yang zalim, memukul ataupun menyeksa anak dengan cara yang salah adalah manusia yang tidak layak memikul gelaran ibu ataupun bapa. Ibu bapa yang menengking anak bukan pada tempatnya atau memaki hamun anak dengan bahasa yang buruk dan jelik bukan pendidik yang layak mendapat doa al-Quran tadi. Mereka inilah yang merosakkan masa depan dan kehalusan budi serta akhlak anak-anak. Hubungan asal anak dan ibubapa yang berasas cinta dan rahmat bertukar menjadi dosa dan kebencian. Maka tidak hairan jika ibubapa yang cuai itu dilupai oleh anak mereka apabila dewasa nanti. Perbuatan melupai ibubapa itu tidak baik, tetapi kehilangan rahmat akan menghilangkan segalanya. Apabila melihat Nabi s.a.w mencium cucu baginda al-Hasan bin ‘Ali, Al-Aqra’ bin Habis berkata bahawa dia mempunyai sepuluh orang anak, tiada seorang pun dia pernah cium. Nabi s.a.w berkata kepadanya: “Sesungguhnya sesiapa yang tidak kasih, dia tidak akan dikasihi” (Riwayat al-Bukhari dan Muslim). Sahabat Hubungan antara sahabat juga demikian. Sahabat sejati bukan sekadar kerana ada kepentingan tertentu, tetapi hubungan kasih dan rahmat. Dalam hadis Nabi s.a.w bersabda: “Sesungguhnya dari kalangan hamba-hamba Allah adanya golongan yang mereka bukan para nabi, atau para syahid. Namun para nabi dan para syahid cemburu kepada mereka pada Hari Kiamat disebabkan kedudukan mereka di sisi Allah”. Para sahabat bertanya: “Wahai Rasulullah! Beritahulah kami siapakah mereka?”. Jawab Nabi: “Mereka itu golongan yang cinta mencintai dengan ruh Allah, tanpa ada hubungan kekeluargaan dan bukan kerana harta yang diidamkan. Demi Allah, sesungguhnya wajah-wajah mereka adalah cahaya, mereka berada atas cahaya. Mereka tidak takut pada saat manusia ketakutan, mereka tidak berdukacita ketika manusia berdukacita”. Lalu baginda membaca ayat al-Quran: (maksudnya) “Ketahuilah sesungguhnya wali-wali Allah tiada ketakutan untuk mereka dan tidak pula mereka berdukacita” (Hadis riwayat Abu Daud, dinilai sahih oleh al-Albani). Pemerintah Hubungan rakyat dan pemerintah juga demikian. Ia bukan hubungan pihak yang kuat menentang pihak yang lemah. Bukan hubungan kuasa, cukai, harta dan ketaatan membabi buta. Ia hubungan kasih dan rahmat. Di atas kasih dan rahmat, ketaatan diberikan dan kuasa dilaksanakan. Sabda Nabi s.a.w “Pemimpin yang baik ialah pemimpin yang kamu cintai mereka dan mereka mencintai kamu, kamu mendoakan mereka, mereka mendoakan kamu. Pemimpin yang jahat ialah pemimpin yang kamu benci mereka, mereka juga membenci kamu dan kamu melaknat, mereka juga melaknati kamu”. (Riwayat Muslim). Marilah kita memastikan cinta dan rahmat itu sentiasa subur dan berkembang dalam masyarakat kita. Kita tidak boleh hidup dengan kebencian, kita hanya boleh dan wajar hidup dengan cinta dan rahmat. Kehidupan yang dibina atas kebencian hanya akan merosakkan fitrah insani yang Allah ciptakan. Kembali kepada syiar Nabi s.a.w: “Sesungguhnya sesiapa yang tidak kasih, dia pula tidak akan dikasihi”
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GEORGE TOWN: The Penang State Assembly today suspended opposition leader Azhar Ibrahim from its proceedings for six months for questioning the integrity of the House Hansard and refusing to apologise. The motion to suspend him was passed last May and then referred to the Rights and Privileges Committee to decide on the duration. Azhar refused to attend all of the committee’s hearings on the matter. His offence was to suggest that there had been a manipulation of the Hansard report on a debate over the demolition of a Hindu temple. At today’s session of the state assembly, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng gave him a chance to apologise and retract the offensive words before putting the motion to another vote. He rejected the offer, saying he stood by his words. All Pakatan representatives voted for the motion. In his speech today, Lim said Azhar had humiliated the House and insulted the stenographers who produced the Hansard recording. Azhar is the state assemblyman for Penaga. This was the third time that he has been suspended from the assembly. The previous suspensions also lasted six months. The first time was on Dec 3, 2009. He was accused of showing his posterior to PKR’s Pantai Jerejak assemblyman Sim Tze Tzin. The second suspension began on Nov 1, 2010, after he was alleged to have made unacceptable remarks regarding the May 13 riots. After today’s vote, Azhar told a press conference that the report he had allegedly disparaged did not represent the official minutes of proceedings but was a draft copy that must be verified and passed by the House before being included in the Hansard. He said he said he had been suspended because the state government feared him and because Lim wanted to show the Penang public that he was a “king who dared to suspend the state opposition leader.” Azhar had earlier announced that he planned to retire from politics, but he said today that recent developments had forced him to reconsider the plan. “I wish to retire, but my constituents want me to continue,” he said. However, he added, he was leaving it to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak to make the final decision.
PETALING JAYA: After being hit by his own security guard, traumatised apartment owner G Sumendran is now wondering why his assailant still walks free around his housing area. Last Monday, a security guard allegedly assaulted Sumendran with an iron rod as he was entering the apartment premise, leaving the latter with a fractured hand and nose. “On Oct 22, at around 3pm, I was with my father about to go into my [apartment premise], but the security guard refused to let us enter,” he related the incident at Hindraf’s headquarters here. “And my father gave the security guard his IC, [but] he refused to take my father’s IC, and he asked for his licence instead,” he said, adding that the security guard did this often to irritate his family. “I went out of the car to talk to him. He thought I was going to threaten him or something; he took the iron rod and hit me,” he claimed. Sumendran has been given a medical leave for an entire month following the painful beating, and still wears a cast around his left hand. According to the medical certificate issued by Hospital Putrajaya, he suffered a “closed fracture of left ulna styloid.” To make matters worse, Sumendran claimed that the police have not taken action following the report he lodged on that same day over the assault. As a result, on top of the injuries he suffers, he still encounters his assailant on a daily basis – who, aside from still guarding the area, is also a resident of the apartment. “My whole family is very traumatised by the experience, we are not able to concentrate on our work,” said Sumendran. “My son asked me, what if the same incident happened to him, or even my wife?” he said, adding that his assailant recognised his family members. “My wife calls me every day to ask me where I am, what I am doing, how the children are doing. We are all frightened and traumatised.” Asked why the security guard targeted his family, Sumendran said he believed it was because his family had refused to pay the “dubious” security company its monthly fees since April this year due to their unsatisfactory services. He also said the security company, which had been hired by the residents’ association, could not be terminated as its employers mostly comprised apartment residents who would otherwise be unemployed. And because the security company was not hired by the apartment management, the latter was unwilling to take responsibility over the issue. “This case doesn’t just involve me; it involves the safety of my family as well as the other residents,” he stressed. “How long can we live in fear?” Police must take action Click here to view the video on YouTube. Meanwhile, Hindraf leader P Uthayakumar slammed the police for their alleged inaction since the report was lodged over a week ago. “There has been no action, no prosecution, no arrest. Why? They can’t go around hitting people like this and just get away with it,” he said. Uthayakumar said he had been receiving many complaints recently over high-handed security guards, and urged the government to take action over it. “The Home Ministry and the police force should provide compulsory one-week training for security guards outlining what they can and cannot do. “Houseowners pay a substantial amount to have security guards, yet these guards are usually not even formally trained,” he pointed out.
Tan Sri Zeti, we are neither "depositors" nor "investors" of Genneva Malaysia Sdn Bhd. We are merely customers who bought gold from Genneva with our life-savings. We’d also like to leave the arguments about the validity of the company aside. Be it about ‘hibah,’ ‘deposit-taking,’ ‘AMLA’, ‘BAFIA’ or any other acronyms that seem to permeate the financial world these days. by Genneva Malaysia Supporters Thank you Tan Sri Zeti, It has been a month long wait in agony and desperation since the raid by Bank Negara Malaysia not knowing what the future holds for us and our dependents. Today, your words of assurance to end this investigation as soon as possible gave us a glimmer of hope that our predicament will soon end with a positive outcome.Thank you for finally acknowledging our plight and we look forward to your next course of action. We would like to express our admiration for your achievements and although we recognize the need to take measures upon suspicions of wrong doing, this cannot justify the impoverishment of over 60,000 people and their families, a direct result of the Bank Negara led raid. Tan Sri Zeti, we are neither "depositors" nor "investors" of Genneva Malaysia Sdn Bhd. We are merely customers who bought gold from Genneva with our life-savings. We’d also like to leave the arguments about the validity of the company aside. Be it about ‘hibah,’ ‘deposit-taking,’ ‘AMLA’, ‘BAFIA’ or any other acronyms that seem to permeate the financial world these days. It’s all rather tiring so we’ll let the company duke it out with your financial and legal experts. Instead, we’d like to make this appeal as a person. One human being to another. We make this appeal: As single mothers whose savings base and income came from the company before the raid.We are also fathers, providing food and a roof over the heads of our families. We are grandfathers and grandmothers, retirees whose savings are sorely needed to see us through our old age, savings that is now in some frozen account or gold that is in one of your vaults. We are the sick, patients with no other source of income, badly needing that money for medication. Our needs are not only urgent, they are critical as well.There are thousands upon thousands of us. It is our hope that you listen to us even as your officers have not and whoever it was in BNM who organised this irresponsible raid that caused such grief and hardship to countless thousands of families. With all due respect, Tan Sri Zeti, do you also blame us for our current hardship, as many have done? Do you yourself call us ‘greedy’ and ‘ignorant’ too? Might we remind, that it was you who said that keeping interest rates too low for too long may lead to the “mispricing of risks.” You warned against artificially low interest rates. We are therefore surprised why it is the Central Banks policy to keep interest rates low, you knew in your heart that it would drive us to into ‘higher-yielding assets that pose(d) significant risks.’ By the way, we do not think that gold holds any ‘significant risk,’ at least not at this point of time. The risk came directly from the unjust confiscation of that gold by Bank Negara. Now many of us are without our gold and savings. For the aged, the old and the sick, their ‘yield’ from these ‘assets’ were all they had, and your bank took it away from them. We may not have the financial intellect like you to understand what all this means.. but we can see and feel and experience.We see that real inflation is spiralling out of control, and wonder why there never seems to be enough to last us till the end of the month. We feel how low interest rates punish savers. For many of us, the interest after a year from fixed deposits can’t even pay for a family dinner at a nice restaurant! We experience the hopelessness and helplessness of being crushed by debt, our incomes never rising to meet expenses or to pay off debt. That is not all. The rakyat, not only contending with low interest rates, spiraling inflation, weak to no personal income growth or even worse, no income at all, must also face confiscation of what little wealth we have by the authorities. Must we live in fear that the authorities, with their far reaching powers, can at any time, confiscate and take that which does not belong to them with impunity? The little that we have, our liberty, and our right to chose? We sincerely hope you come to a decision soon and that compassion guides your motives although it may seem out of date these days. Please release the gold and money which is unjustly held by Bank Negara so that we can move on with our lives. We thank you again Tan Sri Zeti, for giving attention to this matter. Sincerely, Genneva Malaysia Supporters http://www.facebook.com/GennevaMalaysiaSupporters
Tan Sri Zeti, we are neither "depositors" nor "investors" of Genneva Malaysia Sdn Bhd. We are merely customers who bought gold from Genneva with our life-savings. We’d also like to leave the arguments about the validity of the company aside. Be it about ‘hibah,’ ‘deposit-taking,’ ‘AMLA’, ‘BAFIA’ or any other acronyms that seem to permeate the financial world these days. by Genneva Malaysia Supporters Thank you Tan Sri Zeti, It has been a month long wait in agony and desperation since the raid by Bank Negara Malaysia not knowing what the future holds for us and our dependents. Today, your words of assurance to end this investigation as soon as possible gave us a glimmer of hope that our predicament will soon end with a positive outcome.Thank you for finally acknowledging our plight and we look forward to your next course of action. We would like to express our admiration for your achievements and although we recognize the need to take measures upon suspicions of wrong doing, this cannot justify the impoverishment of over 60,000 people and their families, a direct result of the Bank Negara led raid. Tan Sri Zeti, we are neither "depositors" nor "investors" of Genneva Malaysia Sdn Bhd. We are merely customers who bought gold from Genneva with our life-savings. We’d also like to leave the arguments about the validity of the company aside. Be it about ‘hibah,’ ‘deposit-taking,’ ‘AMLA’, ‘BAFIA’ or any other acronyms that seem to permeate the financial world these days. It’s all rather tiring so we’ll let the company duke it out with your financial and legal experts. Instead, we’d like to make this appeal as a person. One human being to another. We make this appeal: As single mothers whose savings base and income came from the company before the raid.We are also fathers, providing food and a roof over the heads of our families. We are grandfathers and grandmothers, retirees whose savings are sorely needed to see us through our old age, savings that is now in some frozen account or gold that is in one of your vaults. We are the sick, patients with no other source of income, badly needing that money for medication. Our needs are not only urgent, they are critical as well.There are thousands upon thousands of us. It is our hope that you listen to us even as your officers have not and whoever it was in BNM who organised this irresponsible raid that caused such grief and hardship to countless thousands of families. With all due respect, Tan Sri Zeti, do you also blame us for our current hardship, as many have done? Do you yourself call us ‘greedy’ and ‘ignorant’ too? Might we remind, that it was you who said that keeping interest rates too low for too long may lead to the “mispricing of risks.” You warned against artificially low interest rates. We are therefore surprised why it is the Central Banks policy to keep interest rates low, you knew in your heart that it would drive us to into ‘higher-yielding assets that pose(d) significant risks.’ By the way, we do not think that gold holds any ‘significant risk,’ at least not at this point of time. The risk came directly from the unjust confiscation of that gold by Bank Negara. Now many of us are without our gold and savings. For the aged, the old and the sick, their ‘yield’ from these ‘assets’ were all they had, and your bank took it away from them. We may not have the financial intellect like you to understand what all this means.. but we can see and feel and experience.We see that real inflation is spiralling out of control, and wonder why there never seems to be enough to last us till the end of the month. We feel how low interest rates punish savers. For many of us, the interest after a year from fixed deposits can’t even pay for a family dinner at a nice restaurant! We experience the hopelessness and helplessness of being crushed by debt, our incomes never rising to meet expenses or to pay off debt. That is not all. The rakyat, not only contending with low interest rates, spiraling inflation, weak to no personal income growth or even worse, no income at all, must also face confiscation of what little wealth we have by the authorities. Must we live in fear that the authorities, with their far reaching powers, can at any time, confiscate and take that which does not belong to them with impunity? The little that we have, our liberty, and our right to chose? We sincerely hope you come to a decision soon and that compassion guides your motives although it may seem out of date these days. Please release the gold and money which is unjustly held by Bank Negara so that we can move on with our lives. We thank you again Tan Sri Zeti, for giving attention to this matter. Sincerely, Genneva Malaysia Supporters http://www.facebook.com/GennevaMalaysiaSupporters
Chinese are just supremacists. They think they are better than everyone and anything else including the Malays and Islam. This just pisses the Malays off. To Malays, Islam is top and many feel that they would die for it but the Chinese never show deference to any religion. Religion is just a sideshow to the Chinese even with all their superstitions. By AsamLaksa Before I go any further let me set down the ground rules. My opinion in this piece is based on the population/community level and not on the individual level of Chinese. So do not point out that so and so is a Chinese and is not racist because I do not care about any individual. It is like with health where on a population level obesity risks many health problems but there are individual obese people who are actually healthy. Now let me begin my opinion piece. I am Chinese by race. Both parents are Chinese, 3rd and 4th generation overseas Chinese. I grew up in a Chinese majority locality in Penang. I studied in classes with 70-90% Chinese student make up even though it is not a Chinese vernacular school. Then I went to the West for tertiary education. As I was growing up in Malaysia the theme among the Chinese community is that the Malays are lazy and stupid. Sure you can be nice to them because they are nice to you but when the Malays do business they are nowhere as capable. We all laughed at how Malays do their work. We laughed like we knew all that is to know and filled ourselves up with a sense of superiority. We are better. We are smarter. When we grow up we would fly to the moon while they will still tanam padi. Hahahahaha *choke* Then I went to the West and met more Chinese from various countries be it from China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore or Taiwan and the theme is still the same, this time replace the Malays with the locals which are the Westerners. We asked why are the West so great when every appliance they use are from China? We saw so many top students in university who are from Chinese stock. We asked why were there so many unemployed stupid white people? We were shocked by the extravagance of the Western governments in social spending on stupid white people. We laughed ourselves silly with ideas of the ascendency of China as a superpower and Singapore as the Utopia of free market economics. I laughed with them. Till reality sinks in. Till I saw how hollow it all was. Till I saw how sad and sickly the Chinese are. Many Malaysian political commentators urge Malaysians, especially the non-Malays to understand the Malays so that the various races in Malaysia may engage and work together for a common good. But what many commentators failed to seek is to understand the non-Malays and bring it out in the open. Inter-racial understanding must come from all parties not just one to foster trust. Without serious efforts to understand the largest minority in Malaysia, you are shooting yourself in the foot. So I come back to the title: Chinese are inherently racists (or more appropriately supremacist)! Many political comments wrongly perceive that the Chinese are anti-Islam and anti-Malay. The truth is that Chinese could not give a damn about the position of Islam and the Malays. They did not give a damn about the status of Islam in the constitution in the infancy of the nation. They did not make much of a fuss of the celebration of Malay culture. Chinese are just supremacists. They think they are better than everyone and anything else including the Malays and Islam. This just pisses the Malays off. To Malays, Islam is top and many feel that they would die for it but the Chinese never show deference to any religion. Religion is just a sideshow to the Chinese even with all their superstitions. The main act for the Chinese is economic wealth. Everyone knows this. Wealth = power and security. Every Chinese parent drill the need for wealth into their children, not necessarily to become super rich but wealthy to lead a comfortable life. Thus the Chinese regard any person according to their wealth. In their minds if you are great then you must be wealthy. This quest for wealth afflicts the Chinese society as a whole in comparison with the West where you have the super-rich coming from a society that believes in social equality. This never-ending thirst for wealth led to the dearth of morals. The Chinese are very flexible in accepting how a person made their wealth. Yes, very very flexible. Cut to the chase – wealth is what matters, not how it was made. Thus as much as the anti-UMNO lobby says that UMNO is evil, they can’t hide from the fact that the Chinese is no better as behind every corrupt Malay politician is a Chinese. But the Malays perceive this. Thus you can scream all you want about corrupt Malay politicians and the Malays won’t buy it. The Chinese generally do not care if others struggle. It is the economic reality for them that the rich needs to exploit the poor to become richer. And they have the gall to blame the poor for being lazy and stupid when they do little to help the poor! Education is a top priority to the Chinese not as a means to improve society but to ensure wealth. Thus the graduates will gravitate to where they can make the most wealth. They are not sorry to migrate nor are they fighting for more space in the Malaysian civil services. They blame the racist Malaysian government policies in recruitment but never made a fuss about it for years! The truth is that most civil service jobs won’t make you rich. In fact they’d make more money in free enterprise thus it wasn’t a big deal to begin with. This is what others would see in the Chinese. Again I reiterate that there are many Chinese who are benevolent just like many people of other backgrounds are. But as a community, the Chinese appear to be selfish, amoral, racist and greedy. Some claim that Malaysia is an ideal of a multicultural country and I strongly disagree. I say Malaysia could be the ideal of a multicultural country. It’s all about living in harmony in Malaysia but each to their own devices and cannot find a common goal to aim for. I find that some countries in the West are better at uniting the different communities in creating a better nation with rights for the people and care for the needy. They may not be rich but the people are better cared for. In Malaysia you may be rich but still not cared much for (such as protection from crime). I shudder for the next generation of mindlessly laughing Malaysian Chinese. I am not particularly anti-Chinese; I just think that the Chinese need to change attitudes towards others. I repeat my call again for all Malaysians to engage with one another. Try to understand each other. Unite under a good common goal. It is the people who have the power. All politicians be it BN or PR will attempt to divide and rule. It is their nature to preserve their power thus stopping the rakyat from asking the right questions. What are your common goals and what is getting in the way?
The modern servant leadership movement was launched by Robert Greenleaf in his 1970 essay, “The Servant as Leader” whereby he popularized the terms “servant-leader” and “servant leadership.” Greenleaf expanded on this concept by publishing additional essays on the various attributes of servant leadership. Lt Cmdr (R) John Moi Servant Leadership? The answer to the world’s leadership issues? “Everything rises or falls on leadership.” (Author unknown) Servant Leadership is simply applying leadership principles by serving others before self. It is a philosophy and practice of leadership that achieves results for their organizations by giving priority attention to the needs of their counterparts and those they serve. In another simple interpretation, servant-leaders are said to be serving stewards of their organization’s resources be it physically, financial or human. Concept of Servant Leadership The modern servant leadership movement was launched by Robert Greenleaf in his 1970 essay, “The Servant as Leader” whereby he popularized the terms “servant-leader” and “servant leadership.” Greenleaf expanded on this concept by publishing additional essays on the various attributes of servant leadership. After his passing in 1990, the concept has been developed by other writers such as William George, James Autry, Ken Blanchard, Jim Hunter, George Sanfacon and Larry Spears, just to name a few of the more well-known ones. Interestingly in Malaysia, the Royal Military College carry in its motto, “Serve to Lead” way back in the founding year of 1952! Qualities of being a Servant Leader Larry Spears, who was once the “chief steward” of the Greenleaf Centre for Servant Leadership for more than 17 years, described the ten characteristics of servant leaders which are: ListeningEmpathyHealingAwarenessPersuasionConceptualizationForesightStewardshipCommitment to the growth of othersBuilding communitySome historical perspectives of Servant Leadership In the 4th century B.C, Chanakya wrote in his book, Arthashastra: “The king (leader) shall consider as good, not what pleases himself but what pleases his subjects (followers). The king (leader) is a paid servant and enjoys the resources of the state together with the people.” In the Tao Te Ching according to the Chinese sage, Lao-Tzu who is believed to have lived in China sometime between 570 and 490 B.C. said: “The highest type of ruler is one of whose existence the people are barely aware. Next comes one whom they despise and defy. When you are lacking in faith, others will be unfaithful to you. The Sage is self-effacing and scanty of words. When his or her tasks are accomplished and things have been completed, all the people say, we ourselves have achieved it.” According to the Bible, Jesus urged his followers to be servants first. He specifically told his followers: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28 and Mark 10:42-45) In an awesome model of servant-leader, Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, as an example of the way in which they were to serve each other. (John 13:12-15) The Prophet Muhamad (SAW) said, “A ruler who has been entrusted with the affairs of the Muslims, but makes no endeavours (for their material and moral upliftment) and is not sincerely concerned (for their welfare) will not enter Paradise along with them.” (Sahih Muslim) The Sikhs also have among these, words of wisdom on leadership: “One should first instruct and discipline one’s own mind, and then persuade the others to follow.” (Asa, M.5) “He who instructs the others in the laws which he himself does not obey, is born only to die; he comes and he goes.” (Gauri Sukhmani, M.5) Modern perspectives of Servant Leadership Greenleaf, in his essay has this to say about the servant-leader: “The servant-leader begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve first the followers and believes that leading is a by-product of serving, whereas the leader-first believes that one is call to lead by being served and supported by followers.” The cynical view is that unless the leaders take the initiative to serve the followers, the followers will not listen to the leaders who have not proven themselves by serving the followers first. Such are the expectations in this enlightened age! Sita-pati das (all credits unto him) in his commentary on Chapter One - 45 of Bhagavad-gita (On Leadership): “Sanjaya said; Arjuna, having thus spoken on the battlefield, cast aside his bow and arrows and sat down on the chariot, his mind overwhelmed with grief.” Sita commented that Arjuna is in a clear dilemma. In neither case can he see a good outcome. Either he fights and wins in which case he kills his family members, the family tradition is destroyed and society is irreparably damaged, or else he is killed with the same destruction of the family tradition. He reasons that the best course of action would be to die unresisting and in this way preserve the family tradition. Servant Leadership commentary by Sita: These are all characteristic sentiments of an authentic leader. An authentic leader is a SERVANT of the people and is aligned with and serving something greater than himself or herself. Models of Servant Leadership It can be said that some, if not most, leadership writers see servant leadership as an esoteric philosophy of leadership supported by specific aspects and practices. Dr. Kent Keith, the current CEO of the Greenleaf Centre and the author of “The Case for Servant Leadership” states that servant leadership is practical, ethical and meaningful. He further identifies seven key practices of servant leaders: Self awarenessListeningChanging the pyramidDeveloping your colleagues (followers)Coaching not controllingUnleashing the energy and intelligence of othersForesightServant Leadership is best summed up by its emphasis on collaboration, trust, empathy and the ethical use of power and leadership. Servant leadership is all about making the conscious decision to serve by leading in order to better serve others (followers) and to enhance the growth of individuals and the servant leaders themselves in the organization to improve teamwork and respective involvement. (See illustrated model(s) of Servant Leadership for clarity) “Serve to Lead” best summarizes all you need to know about servant leadership! Note: Lt Cmdr (R) John Moi is a freelance writer and editor. An advocate of Scripture to business (S2b), he can be reached at johnnymoi7@yahoo.com
The Penans have been blockading against the construction of the 944MW Murum Dam since Sept 26, 2012. More than 1,600 Penans from eight Penan villages (including one Kenyah Badeng longhouse) are affected by the construction of the dam which is now about 70% completed. Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB), contractors and private companies involved in the project have been forced to use ferryboats or tugboats through the Bakun Dam reservoir to transport goods, machines, building materials etc. to the Murum Dam site. This is a new and different factor compared to the campaign against the Bakun dam in previous years. While we had built a campaign against the Bakun Dam in the past, there was no action by the indigenous peoples affected on a scale comparable to the Murum Dam blockade. The Penan communities affected by the Murum Dam have shown a commitment to defend their rights and Malaysians must give them full solidarity and support their struggle in all possible ways. The Murum Penan communities are among the poorest in Malaysia. They have traditionally been hunter-gatherers but shifted to a more settled, agriculture-based way of life approximately 40 years ago. They rely on subsistence-based farming and hunting, fishing and gathering of forest products and the occasional sale of in-season fruit. Their livelihood has been adversely affected by low farm productivity and rapidly declining forest resources because of plantation and dam building projects. The Bakun Dam fiasco The Sarawak state government with federal government support, has been carrying out highly irresponsible economic projects to the detriment of the environment, the indigenous peoples’ lives and the long-term interest of the Sarawak and Malaysian tax payers. The 2,400MW Bakun Dam project has already proven to be a major fiasco not only in terms of insufficient demand for its electricity generated but a disaster for the 10,000 indigenous peoples who were displaced from their traditional ancestral land to the slum conditions of the resettlement scheme at Sg. Asap. Those who cherish their heritage and human rights would describe their fate as ethnocide if they have seen for themselves the conditions at Sg. Asap. The total energy demand in the whole of Sarawak is only 1,000MW so the government has been trying to attract the biggest energy guzzlers such as aluminium smelters which happen to be the most toxic as well. Another investment is a coal-fired power station to take up the excess energy. These environmentally polluting industries are then touted as part of the Sarawak Corridor of Renewable Energy (Score). In fact, hydro-electric power dams and toxic aluminium smelters are all industries rejected by the developed countries. None of these countries, especially Australia, wants to have toxic industries in their own backyard. But the Sarawak state government is willing to have these mega projects for rather dubious purposes. The desperate chase for investments to take up the excess Bakun energy after the dam has been built shows a total lack of economic feasibility studies which should have been done before the dam was built. Is it surprising therefore that many Score contracts have been given to companies owned by members of Chief Minister Taib’s family? As if this Bakun Dam fiasco was not enough, the Sarawak state government intends to build 12 mega dams in all which will strip the state of its rainforest and displace even more indigenous communities. Violating international standards The Murum Dam is the first of these 12 dams. The dam construction is being supervised by China Three Gorges Corporation and built by Chinese dam builder Sinohydro. After their massive investments in the Three Gorges project, you can be sure these Chinese companies are hungry for investments in other hydropower projects in Sarawak. With such a large development scheme, international best practice calls for a “strategic environmental and social assessment.” Such an assessment looks at the overall impact that a large development scheme can have as was done for the proposed “Greater Mekong Sub-region” energy network by the Asian Development Bank. No such strategic economic, environmental and social assessment has been conducted for Score. If the Bakun Dam project is to be any guide, the Sarawak government’s energy demand forecasts appear to be based more on nothing more than wishful thinking rather than detailed feasibility studies. Malaysian taxpayers, be warned that all these mega projects will entail an onerous debt burden on the Sarawak and Malaysian public. You can be sure that there will be electricity tariff hikes after the 13th general election. There are many energy alternatives for Sarawak beyond large hydroelectric power projects such as small-scale hydropower, solar and other forms of renewable energy, energy efficiency measures, more efficiently run and managed power plants, among others. Above all, such environmentally friendly power projects respects the indigenous peoples’ lifestyles while efforts can put into helping them with better transport systems, marketing channels and other forms of development they may require. The Murum Dam project is in violation of the international standards on indigenous rights as guaranteed in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), of which Malaysia is a signatory. The Murum Dam is nearing completion but the resettlement report is still being withheld. As for the Bakun Dam, all studies related to the projects have not been transparent. The affected Penan and Kenyah have stated that they have never been asked for consent as demanded by the UNDRIP. The project developer, Sarawak’s state-owned electricity generating company, Sarawak Energy Berhad (SEB) has not provided indigenous communities with an opportunity to grant or withhold their “free, prior and informed consent” for the project as required by UNDRIP. Even in cases where there was agreement, however, it was neither free from coercion; the resettlement plan was not made known to the indigenous peoples prior to the start of the construction, and they were not informed by access to information about the project’s impacts. The social and environmental impact assessment (SEIA) for the Murum project is seriously flawed. International standards—including the Equator Principles and the IFC Performance Standards—universally require that the SEIA must be completed during the design phase, before the government approves the project and before construction begins. This was not the case with the Murum Dam Project. The SEIA process did not even begin until after construction on the project was already underway. The Sarawak government has not yet disclosed the Murum Dam Project’s SEIA to the public or to the affected communities. The indigenous peoples’ demands Without transparent access to the crucial information at the centre of this project, the affected communities were placed in an unfair situation when the Sarawak government asked them to negotiate a resettlement package. The monthly allowance to be paid after resettlement falls below the poverty level and ends after four years. However, the state government turned down the other demands of the Penan, which included compensation of RM500,000 for each family for the loss of their customary land. Their other demands were 30,000 hectares of land for every village, 25 hectares for every farming family, education for their children, a community development fund and rights to their land that is not submerged by the dam waters. The indigenous communities affected by the Murum Dam project have already issued a memorandum describing how the government could still remedy the situation. Support the Murum indigenous peoples now! Sign the Murum Appeal at http://www.sarawakreport.org/murum-appeal or atsaveriversnet@gmail.com. You can support their blockade by donating to their cause at these two websites. Kua Kia Soong is human rights NGO Suaram adviser.
Is SUPP president Peter Chin playing pucks with his rival Wong Soon Koh by taking his time to announce the later’s status in the party? A furious Second Finance Minister Wong Soon Koh, whose membership in Sarawak United Peoples Party (SUPP) is in “limbo” wants its president Peter Chin to stop playing games. Seeing no reason for a delay in announcing the party’s Central Working Committee’s decision, he said: “It’s a simple yes or no on sacking me… why the delay?” Chin had earlier this week said that the CWC had met and decided on Wong’s status but would only issue an official statement on Thursday. A disgruntled Wong said the media had been harassing him for his comments following Chin’s reported statement. “It’s a simple matter..Why are they dragging their feet on the issue. First, they met on Sept 23 to discuss the state BN (coalition) and the issue of sacking me. “Then, the whole issue went into total silence. On Sept 30 newspapers reported Chin appealing to party branches to submit evidence to support sacking me. “Then on Monday the media reported that the CWC will meet on Tuesday to decide my fate. After the meeting the president said the party will issue a statement on Thursday! “They already have the answer, yet, they’ve sealed their lips,” said Wong adding that all this drama was not good for the party’s image in view of the general election. Chin had reportedly said that the party would release its disciplinary committee report tomorrow (Nov 1) which comprised members facing disciplinary action. ‘I think they are warning me’ Wong was among those who had been issued warning letters. Wong is Sibu branch chairman and was in the running for the party presidency in December last year until Chin threw in his candidacy at the eleventh hour after receiving Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s blessing. Despite being prodded by media, Chin had refused to disclose if Wong was among those under scrutiny by the disciplinary committee. Said Chin: “The disciplinary committee which met on Oct 11 have submitted the report today (yesterday), together with recommendations for actions to be taken against the members concerned. “However, it will only be revealed this Thursday, through a statement (in written form) to be issued by the general-secretary, Professor Dr Sim Kui Hian, to the media.” Chin’s statement however seemed to rile Wong. “Such an explanation cannot be accepted. I have been flooded with queries. Some people feel there’s something fishy in the delayed decision. “They are wondering what games Chin’s faction is up to. I think they are warning me,” he said.
Tay Tian Yan Next week, two major powers in the world will be electing their new leaderships. Both will have their elections, although they are to be carried out in vastly different manners. In the US presidential election on November 6, about 200 million people will cast their votes and make their decisions on their new president and Congress. As for the election in China, or should I put it in a more precise way, the Communist Party of China, it is an exercise that is carried out within the party where only 2,270 delegates will be involved in the process of electing the central Politburo. So far, we still have no idea how many Politburo members will have to be elected. It could be nine as five years ago, or only seven as some have speculated. Whether nine or seven, in the end the party posts will decide the members’ official positions in the State. And these few people will have the power over the vast nation populated by 1.3 billion people. But then there are a few questions: How do these 2,270 delegates come to be party delegates with the power to vote? How are they going to elect the members of the Central Politburo Standing Committee? And how does the Politburo decide who should take up which post? This is a secret shrouded in deep mystery. Well, the Chinese people say they are characteristically different from the Western countries, which rationalises everything the government has designed. But then how does this “unique national characters” come about? Another mystery indeed. I personally find it extremely interesting to compare the elections of the United States and China. In the United States, no one can predict the final outcome before the votes are cast. Even though the voters can only pick either of the two major contenders, both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have the chances of getting elected. But in China, everyone is certain who will be the next president and who will be the next prime minister even before the votes are cast. In the US, whomever it is that will eventually preside over the White House, everyone will have an idea what he is going to do or not going to do when he assumes his office. Obama’s slogan is “Forward.” He wants to increase job opportunities, mitigate inflationary pressure, improve the country’s healthcare system and take care of the lower to middle income groups. He adopts a more moderate approach in immigration, will not repatriate illegal migrants en masse. He sees China as a competitive partner, not so much a potential rival. Romney’s slogan is “Believe In America.” He does not agree to the existing economic policies. He advocates lower taxes to stimulate business activity while trying to strike a balance in government expenses. He wants to streamline healthcare and social benefits, tighten immigration policy and take a tougher stance on China. In other words, both candidates have talked their policies out so that Americans would know what they are going to do and whether they should vote for them. Whoever takes the helm, Americans know which way their country is headed to. The difference between the election in the United States and that in China is that between transparency and mystery Like this: Be the first to like this.
People take democracy for granted. They assume that as long as they live in a democracy, they have the powers granted by democracy. In reality, those powers are gradually taken away from the people. All that’s left are the structures of democracy. It no longer serves the purpose it was created for. In America, as ironic as it may be, democracy in its present form is being used to maintain the status quo. Elections are dished out to keep the people satisfied — giving them an illusion of being part of the decision-making process, when in reality they have no such influence. In the United States, the presidential election is held every four years. There are elections for the Senate and the House of Representatives too. But it is important to ask, do the elections mean anything? Or are they just for show? Obama and Romney: Are they that much different? In the 2012 election, Americans have to choose between President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney. For the sake of this simulation, imagine that you are an American. What if you like neither of them? What if both are just two sides of the same token? Guess what, you don’t have a choice. With very rare exceptions (George Washington, the Federalists and the Whigs), the president has always been either a Democrat or a Republican. Outsiders like the Green Party or Constitution Party do not stand a chance. Technically, other parties are allowed to run but their chances of winning the White House are like the probability of escaping from a black hole: zero. Only the Democrats and Republicans have the resources and “friends” to compete for the ultimate prize. Although the United States proclaims itself as the beacon of democracy, its citizens do not possess much influence beyond participating in town hall meetings and elections. The citizen’s most basic means of influencing the government is through voting. But voting only leads to two doors, that of Democrats and Republicans. Typically, Democrats are associated with liberal policies and huge social welfare spending while Republicans are associated with conservative policies and trickle-down government. But sometimes, I couldn’t help but to ask: are they really that different? Both of them approve drone attacks which killed hundreds of civilians abroad. Both supported Israel in the Middle East conflict. But their most significant similarities lie in the things they do not say. In three debates, both have said very little about Wall Street’s reckless behaviours which caused the financial meltdown four years ago, the deterioration in the quality of education, the increasingly segregated and neglected public schools, and the catastrophic climate change. The line is more blurred than it seems if we look at the record. Candidate Obama campaigned against Bush’s tax cuts. When he is in office, he does not repeal the tax cuts as promised. Instead, he extended the tax cuts. He also extended the Patriot Act, despite previously condemning it as onslaught on civil liberty. Democrats are supposed to be less aggressive militarily than Republicans, but it was under President Lyndon B. Johnson that their war commitment escalated in Vietnam. Republicans are supposed to be conservative in social policies, but it was under President Richard Nixon that the Supreme Court made two landmark decisions: Roe vs Wade to allow abortion and Furman vs Georgia to suspend the death penalty. Americans are trapped Interest groups and lobbyists have the money. And they control the politics. In this election alone, nearly US$2 billion (RM6.3 billion) was spent. Up until this week, both Obama’s and Romney’s campaign had spent US$900 millions each. Approximately half of Team Obama’s money comes from big wealthy donors like Microsoft, Google Inc, University of California and Harvard University, while that number is more than 70 per cent for Team Romney, whose top donors are Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, JP Morgan and Morgan Stanley. Note that the organisations do not contribute directly to the campaign, but they channel their money through PACs (Political Action Committee) or individual members. The money involved is insane. Check here. Any wonder why neither Obama nor Romney is speaking out against the Wall Street bosses? The people get hurt when big banks and a few wealthy individuals fund the campaigns of the very people who are supposed to be making laws and regulating them. Politicians cannot be protecting the people from these money-sucking capitalist giants because they are indebted to their tauke (bosses). This is an inevitable result from the Supreme Court ruling in favour of Citizens United, which allows wealthy donors, corporations and unions to contribute large sum of money indirectly to political campaigns. In the present state, the voice of the top 2 per cent is much louder and influential than the voice of the other 98 per cent. So if today’s problems are caused and prolonged by the actions of those capitalist elites, who can fix the problems? It is the lawmakers’ duty but they are operating inside a system financed and sustained by those elites. Americans are trapped in this system, with no likely exit in the coming years. In the elections, they only have choices screened, filtered and approved by the top 2 per cent. Hence, do not expect any candidate to go against the system. But the worst part is that many people are still under the illusion that democracy is well and alive in America. The case in Malaysia is not that different. Interest groups and lobbyists are known as cronies and corruption over here. In US, it is compulsory to disclose political spending, fundraising and donations. So at least the people know who those interest groups are. In our case, the rakyat never know. Recently, Sabah Umno was given a RM40 million donation (read here). When questioned, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said there is no need to disclose the source of their funds since the opposition is not doing it either. This is not a partisan issue. This is not about the individual or the party. We must demand more transparency and accountability. This is about creating a better democracy and a more mature politics. Money could be the kingmaker, but at least let us know who is pulling the strings behind the scene.
Lim Sue Goan The people’s first reaction to the SMK Sacred Heart’s announcement of awarding a new Perodua Myvi car to the Best Teacher and Best Student of the school was — will it cause the deterioration of education? After awarding cars today, would they give diamond rings or sport cars tomorrow? Awarding such expensive gifts for students might distort the purpose of education. If children study only to receive gifts and rewards, would they understand the true meaning of studying? Would they study for themselves, or to receive material rewards? In fact, not only the above mentioned school, but many other schools nationwide have gradually tended to seek for quick success and instant benefits. For example, some of the so-called “elite schools” stress so much on examination results and refuse to let students with poor results take government examinations to prevent them from pulling down the school’s average grade. Shouldn’t schools teach all children without discrimination? If school education stresses data and achievements like business and highlights only the number of As the students get and how high the passing rate is, what would be left if this data is taken away? The Education Ministry has spent large sums of money to issue the Outstanding School Award, Outstanding Principal Award and Outstanding Student Award. Have they brought a positive effect? Education director-general Tan Sri Abd Ghafar Mahmud said the Education Ministry issues the Outstanding School Award to schools with excellent performance in the SPM, based on their school average grades (GPS). He added that the performance of a school can be reflected by the number of students getting straight As in government examinations. The move of issuing awards based on the results of government examinations has encouraged the emphasis on results while neglecting the nurturing of moral conduct. If the success or failure of education is determined by how many As students get, it will be a sad day for education. Other countries and regions also issue education awards. However, academic result is not the sole criterion. For example, the Teaching Excellence Award in Taiwan is awarded to, firstly, those who are committed to develop and promote innovative teaching methods; secondly, those who excellently activate classroom management and counsel students on adaptive development; and, thirdly, those who excellently develop teaching programmes based on education policy. Education is to improve students’ learning outcome through improving teaching performance and teaching quality in innovative ways. Our education awards here, however, do not pay attention to creative but instead focus on spoonfeeding teaching methods. If such a trend becomes the mainstream, the goal of enhancing students’ ability to think, as stated in the Malaysia Education Blueprint, will then remain an idle theory. Everyone recognises only students with excellent performance and their teachers while those with poor academic performance might be “abandoned” and eventually drop out of school, go astray and get involve in criminal acts. The failure of education in schools is one of the factors causing so many social problems and crimes. If education goes towards the pursuit of material rewards and honour, morality standards might continue to fall. I miss the days when I was studying in a Chinese independent school. I can still remember that our teachers asked us why we should read and study. It is indeed also a question that today’s educators and students should ask themselves. As Confucius said: “The responsibilities of teachers are to preach, teach and clear doubts.” If students are confused about life, can we still call our education successful? Like this: One blogger likes this.
Kinky Blue Fairy aka Joyce Kirsten Wong has made a name for herself as a lifestyle blogger. I first bumped into this vivacious and extremely high-voltage creature in Sarawak at the Rainforest World Music Festival many years ago. She was with her beer buddy Deep the Deepsomaniac. Since then I've looked forward to visits from both of them - because they both know how to completely chill and just enjoy being here. Also, being bloggers, they often take funky photos and create amusing blogposts about their experience, which I relish reading. I just revisited Joyce's report from February 2010 a week after she attended a kenduri at Magick River on 18 February 2010, organized to celebrate my return from a near-death episode - and to honor the spirit of Minah Angong, who was summoned by her sister Indah and her niece Anoora from the spirit realms to assist in my recovery. A few days after emerging from a 5-day induced coma, I had no idea they had invoked Mak Minah with a simple sawai ceremony at my house. But I actually saw Minah Angong at the hospital in the form of a 10-year-old girl. She kept her distance and we didn't interact but somehow I knew it was Minah because she had died on 21 September 1999 and in her new spirit body she was only 10. It was only when I told Mary Maguire about seeing Mak Minah that I found out that she had indeed been summoned to keep an eye on me while I was hanging around the astral. Indah said the kenduri was necessary to send her departed sister back to the spirit realms. Sometimes, it's good to just do as you're told - especially if all you're told to do is invite some good friends around for a sweet little party!Antares' Celebration of Life @ Magick River A Comeback Celebration Into The Wild Some rights reserved © Antares/Magick River You may borrow and/or modify content for your own blog but please credit and backlink, thanks.
KOTA KINABALU: The Royal Commission of Inquiry into Sabah’s over three decade old illegal immigrant controversy will start public hearings next year. With the 13th general election due anytime now and some expecting parliament to be dissolved this month, the five-man panel headed by former chief judge of Borneo Steve Shim Lip Kiong announced Jan 14 as D-Day for Sabahans to hear evidence of what many claim is a massive immigration system fraud. Shim said the panel had so far identified 48 witnesses to be called for the public hearing which will be held at the Kota Kinabalu High Court. “We met today to finalise the list of witnesses and (look at) their relevance in our inquiry,” he told reporters after the panel met for their first meeting since their appointment on Sept 21. Shim disclosed that since their appointment, they had set up an investigative team to identify witnesses for the inquiry into the illegal immigrant problem. He said the investigative team had done a good job identifying witnesses who will give evidence at the public hearing. He declined to reveal the witness list but urged “anyone who can give us relevant information” to “come forward to testify.” Shim also rejected criticism that the RCI panel was dragging its feet on the issue. “No delay … in fact our team of investigators have covered a substantial part in identifying witnesses.” Six months target On the limited time given to complete the inquiry, he said they were not worried as there were provisions for them to request an extension. “Barring any complications, we hope to complete it within six months. Hopefully, we will be able to solve the problem (of illegal immigrants in the state),” he said The RCI’s terms of reference empower the panel to determine the number of immigrants in Sabah that have been given Malaysian citizenship and if so whether the issuance of citizenship documents was legal. The terms of reference stipulate that the panel can investigate the legality of the issuance of citizenship to immigrants in Sabah, verify if they are indeed holding blue identity cards or temporary identification receipts or citizenship documents had been illegally registered into the electoral rolls. The panel can also investigate the reasons for the abnormal increase in Sabah’s population. The other members of the panel are former Universiti Malaysia Sabah vice chancellor Kamaruzaman Ampon, former Sabah deputy chief minister and state attorney general Herman Luping, for state secretary KY Mustafa and Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation president Henry Chin. The secretary of the panel is Saripuddin Kasim, who is also Domestic Trade, Cooperatives and Consumerism Ministry secretary general.
PETALING JAYA: PAS might eventually ban the Chinese’s Hungry Ghost festival if they come into power given the party’s hardline stance on Halloween Day celebrations, said MCA senator Chiew Lian Keng. Chiew was responding to Terangganu PAS commissioner Abdul Wahid Endut’s statement yesterday that Halloween costumes and parties amounted to “devil worshiping”. Besides Wahid, Johor PAS commissioner Dr Madfodz Omar also urged parents to keep an eye on their children participating in Halloween parties, which he said could lead to moral decay. Chiew warned that the Islamic party may eventually outlaw the Hungry Ghost festival, which is considered the Chinese version of Halloween Day, as the costumes used in the performances are too devilish. “In Kelantan, PAS has even classified the Chinese cultural mid-autumn festival as a form of entertainment and sought to ban it from being celebrated in SJK © Kai Chih,” he said. Chiew asked whether PAS would apply the same logic they have for Halloween on live theater that carries costumes-based performances and costume rental shops. “Does PAS consider the English classical musicals such as Cats and Phantom of the Opera be linked to devil-worshipping as well? “Will costume rental shops be closed down as well for being deemed as propagating devil worship?” he asked. The MCA Youth federal territory chairman criticised Wahid for being simplistic in finding fault against Halloween and narrowing down the get-togethers and costumes solely to ghoulish costumes. He said in America, children disguised in costumes would go from house-to-house in their neighbourhood asking for “trick-or-treat”, and a particular house owner would drop candies into the pouches the children carried. “It is all done in merriment, and (there’s) nothing religious about it,” he said. Chiew noted that children do not only dress in ghoulish costumes but in anything ranging from movie or cartoon characters to police or doctor costumes. “Does PAS wish to tell Malaysian children that the superhero Batman, or a doctor at a clinic are devils?” he asked.
KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) was given a mild slap on the wrist by the Sabah Barisan Nasional government for a major breakdown at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) last week that left thousands of passengers stranded. Chief Minister Musa Aman told MAHB that the closure of the airport last Thursday and Friday evening – which affected about 50 flights – was unacceptable. However he did some somersaults to spare MAHB the blushes by relieving it of total responsibility for what has become known as the ‘KKIA fiasco’. The foul-up caused all evening and night flights to be diverted or cancelled due to non-functioning runway lights. “I understand that the blame cannot be entirely placed on MAHB but MAHB should also have been more prepared in responding to this type of situations,” he was quoted as saying by the local press. Stranded passengers, he said, should not have been left “in the dark” about the problem which infuriated many including international passengers here for a holiday who missed their connecting flights. “At the very least provide them with basic drinking water,” Musa told MAHB chairman Bashir Ahmad Abdul Majid and its senior general manager, Azmi Murad, at Wisma Innoprise here yesterday during the state cabinet’s weekly meeting. The climbdown by Musa and his cabinet colleagues, some of whom who had demanded for “heads to roll”, over the fiasco was not unexpected. Despite the shrill voices of outrage from the state government, including Musa and his deputy Yee Moh Chai, few ever believed that the state government would have the nerve to insist that top officials in the federal government and its agencies be held responsible and forced to resign. MAHB already had its cover story for the KKIA runway blackout ready for Musa and his cabinet. It had said earlier that the runway was “not up to the required brightness” due to faulty transformers and leaking cables. Bashir explained in his briefing to the cabinet that when the KKIA runway lights failed, the airport had to be shut down for safety reasons. “MAHB followed every procedure in responding to the incident. We, however, do apologise for not being able to respond fast enough,” he said. Allegations of controversy He also assured that MAHB would do its best to rectify problems associated with the runaway and any shortcomings at KKIA immediately. The state is ever reliant on tourism and foreign tourist arrivals to boost the state economy and Yee, mindful of a backlash from the state’s already chafing Chinese business community, had demanded MAHB haul up those responsible and replace them. State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Masidi Manjun also told the local media last week that he expected MAHB and the Civil Aviation Department to explain what happened to the state cabinet. “There is still no certainty that the runway lights problem will be solved and this is an issue of great concern to Sabah. This should nudge those in authority like the Transport Ministry and MAHB to immediately take action and ensure it does not happen again,” he reportedly said. KKIA is the busiest airport after Kuala Lumpur International Airport and it is quite unthinkable that its operations could be knocked out by runway light problem with no apparent back up contingency plan. The lengthy runway blackout also called into question whether KKIA is of international standard. Opposition politicians have called for a full independent inquiry, claiming that the whole project is bogged down in controversy. Tawau MP Chua Soon Bui has also alleged “elements of corruption”, delayed payments and non-payments to the sub-contractors by the government. When the upgrading work costing nearly a billion ringgit is completed, KKIA will be able to accommodate the world’s largest passenger aircraft, the Airbus A380, and have an annual combined capacity of 12 million passengers at its two terminals – Terminal 1 and Terminal 2. Sabah still waiting But the company awarded the contract in 2006 to upgrade the airport and a related flyover project by the Transport Ministry – Sarawak-based Global Upline Sdn Bhd – has been unable to complete the work on schedule. The KKIA upgrade is now two years overdue. Ting Pek Khiing, the company’s flamboyant managing director who was also awarded Sarawak’s Bakun Dam project via Ekran Bhd, was declared a bankrupt by the Kuala Lumpur High Court on Oct 28, 2010. Ting’s bankruptcy declaration followed a legal suit initiated in 2004 after he defaulted on a loan by Bank of Commerce Bhd to part-finance his subscription of shares under Ekran’s rights issue in 1997. As at July 2005, Ting owed some RM60.79 million to the bank. Musa said at the time that the state government had sought advice from the Transport Ministry following the bankruptcy move and the federal government promised to look for solutions to complete the projects and he was happy with this assurance. Musa considered the runway project more important because it affected air traffic at the Kota Kinabalu International Airport. “We hope the flyover can be completed soon, but our major concern is the runway as it affects other airlines landing in KKIA due to a lot of chartered flights from other countries,” he had said. But two years on and he and his state government are still waiting.
PETALING JAYA: When it pours, its trouble for the residents of Bandar Puteri Klang. The water is knee-deep, their furnitures get destroyed and unwanted creatures come out of the drains. And to end this 10-year flooding problem, developer IOI Corporation, Klang Municipal Council, Kota Raja MP Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud, the Irrigation and Drainage Department and representatives of the residents had a brainstorming session yesterday The developer was asked to deepen the two retention ponds in the area as a short term measure. Siti Mariah said the second measure was for all the drains to be cleaned within a week’s time. Also, all bulk rubbish is to be disposed off by this week. “The Klang Municipal Council (MPK) had asked for Sungai Aur which is between Bandar Puteri Klang and Taman Sentosa to be upgraded. The project has been approved and will commence in one or two weeks’ time,” she said. A new retention pond was proposed to be built at the Botany Park in Klang. The drawings for the project are completed and have been submitted to be approved by the Department of Irrigation and Drainage (JPS). Siti Mariah said Bandar Puteri Klang’s infrastructure should be studied once more as the township was built on peat soil which has different properties from normal soil. “The Housing and Local Government Ministry (KPKT) was asked to make a guideline on peat soil as the guidelines for normal soil is unsuitable. “We hope for the cooperation from all parties involved and discussion should be done prior to the commencement of a particular project. JPS and KPKT should work hand in hand in all future projects,” she added. Also read: When a house is not a home