July 15th, 2012

Perspektif Barat punca Bugis digelar lanun

Dalam penulisan sejarah Asia Tenggara, sehingga akhir-akhir ini memang sarjana Barat yang mempeloporinya. Sarjana tempatan hanya mulai memberi cabaran pada 1950-an. Maka muncullah istilah ‘sejarah Euro-centric’ dan ‘sejarah Malaya-centric’ di negara ini. Tetapi sehingga kini masih ramai sarjana yang tidak jelas, apakah perbezaan asas di antara dua persepsi ini.

Apa yang tidak dapat diakui ialah penulisan sejarah rantau Gugusan Kepulauan Melayu itu mula diselenggarakan oleh orang Barat. Akibatnya apabila sejarah rantau ini mula dipelajari dalam dunia akademik, sumber digunakan kebanyakannya sumber Barat. Antara yang terkenal ialah tulisan Tome Pires, Suma Oriental, yang ditulis dalam bahasa Portugis. Orang Belanda juga banyak menulis mengenai rantau ini dan permusuhan di antara mereka dengan orang Bugis begitu nyata. Kedua-dua pihak cuba menguasai perdagangan di rantau ini. Penulis Barat yang ikhlas biasanya mengakui bahawa pada zaman dulu, orang Bugis ialah pedagang yang sangat penting di Gugusan Kepulauan Melayu. Di samping itu, ada juga yang suka memberi perspektif lain, iaitu orang Bugis ialah ‘lanun’. Di Britain, istilah ini mempunyai makna berbeza. Pada abad ke-16, Francis Drake yang terkenal kerana menyerang kapal musuh Britain dianggap sebagai wira di Britain dan dianugerahi gelaran ‘Sir’.

Apabila orang Eropah datang ke Timur, mereka menganggap orang Timur yang garang di laut sebagai ‘lanun’. Kecenderungan mereka, terutama orang British, kemudian berubah pada abad ke-19. Di Britain sendiri telah ada usaha untuk menetapkan takrif piracy. Kalau dulu, semua serangan di laut dianggap piracy.

Pada abad ke-19, menurut undang-undang baru, piracy hanya boleh berlaku sekurang-kurangnya tiga batu dari pantai iaitu di tempat yang tidak bertuan (‘no man’s territory’).

Kawasan lebih dekat dari itu biasanya kawasan yang mempunyai pemerintah. Menurut undang-undang baru itu, di sesebuah kawasan di bawah seseorang pemerintah, pemerintah itu berhak mengutip cukai apabila ada kapal menggunakan kawasannya. Kalau pihak asing itu enggan membayar cukai, pemerintah ada hak menggunakan kekerasan. Itu tidak boleh dianggap sebagai piracy.

Perlu perkenan raja
Rekod sejarah yang ditinggalkan orang Barat yang pernah datang ke Tanah Melayu pada abad ke-18 menunjukkan pedagang asing yang datang ke Tanah Melayu mesti mendapat perkenan daripada raja untuk berdagang. Sesungguhnya ada rekod Perancis yang menyebut bahawa pada zaman itu, raja ialah saudagar utama setiap kerajaan.

Keadaan ini diterima oleh orang Barat oleh sebab piracy hanya boleh dikatakan berlaku di kawasan yang ‘tidak bertuan’. Kalau kapal diserang di kawasan yang ada pemerintah, perbuatan itu disifatkan sebagai rompakan dan bukan piracy. Timbullah pertanyaan, mengapa orang Bugis dan juga pembesar tempatan biasa disebutkan sebagai lanun?

Keadaan ini amat jelas berlaku pada lewat abad ke-19 selepas Perjanjian Pangkor ditandatangani. Pegawai British yang berkhidmat di Semenanjung sentiasa mahu meluaskan pengaruhnya, pada hal Pejabat Kolonial lebih berhati-hati kerana takut pihak British menanggung kerugian kerana dana sangat diperlukan untuk menjalankan pentadbiran.

Justeru, pegawai di Semenanjung perlu mencari alasan untuk mengambil tindakan campur tangan dalam hal ehwal kerajaan Melayu. Tambahan pula, selepas 1867 Parlimen di Britain juga sering menyoal tentang tindakan yang diambil pegawai British di Semenanjung.



Oleh Dr Khoo Kay Kim Sumber: Berita Harian Online Rencana Ahad , 15 Julai 2012, 25 Syaaban 1433 H

Perlembagaan acuan identiti, falsafah negara

Sepanjang minggu lalu saya berpeluang bertemu pelbagai lapisan masyarakat dalam tiga program berasingan. Semua program ilmiah itu mempunyai tema sama, iaitu sejarah Perlembagaan.

Semuanya mahu membawa mesej yang lebih kurang sama, iaitu mahukan khalayak memahami, menghargai dan menghayati sejarah Perlembagaan. Antara yang begitu menarik ialah Seminar Perlembagaan – Antara Sejarah dan Tuntutan Semasa anjuran Arkib Negara Malaysia. Sesungguhnya pemahaman dan penghayatan sejarah Perlembagaan begitu penting bagi membolehkan kita membuat penilaian kepada masa depan Perlembagaan. Ia juga penting untuk kita menilai identiti negara.

Seperti yang kita maklum, Perlembagaan adalah dokumen yang memperkenalkan identiti negara. Perlembagaan adalah manifesto negara. Ia menegaskan prinsip atau dasar dan hala tuju negara.

Saya cadangkan supaya rakyat membaca Perlembagaan terlebih dulu untuk mengenali sesebuah negara secara cepat dan mudah. Setelah itu barulah kita dekati budaya atau sosio-politiknya. Begitu juga dalam mengenali negara kita.

Pengisian Perlembagaan

Kita semua maklum, pengisian Perlembagaan sarat dengan warna-warni sejarah negara. Sejarah adalah asasnya. Sejarah Perlembagaan tidak terhad kepada sejarah dalam proses penggubalan Perlembagaan saja tetapi skop sejarah merangkumi sejarah kepada setiap satu peruntukan Perlembagaan.

Dengan peruntukan dalam Perlembagaan, kita telah membentuk identiti dan falsafah negara. Perlembagaan menterjemahkan keperibadian warga negara serta kemahuan mereka bersandarkan konsep atau falsafah yang dikehendaki warga negara.

Sebagai contoh, identiti negara yang terpahat secara harfiah ialah, Raja Berperlembagaan, demokrasi berparlimen, negara Persekutuan, Islam agama negara, bahasa Melayu adalah bahasa kebangsaan dan keistimewaan Melayu.

Selain daripada apa yang tertera secara harfiah atau yang tersurat itu, prinsip yang mendasari polisi negara dapat dihayati dalam apa yang tersirat dalam peruntukan Perlembagaan. Sebagai contoh, negara kita menjaga kemoralan dan keperibadian warganya serta kepentingan hidup beragama.

Walaupun Perlembagaan kita tidak menyatakannya secara harfiah, ia dapat difahami dalam pelbagai peruntukannya. Semua yang tersurat dan yang tersirat boleh difahami dengan mendalam sekiranya kita mengenali sejarah yang membawa kepada pengisian Perlembagaan seumpama itu.

Saya pernah bertemu hujah yang menyatakan sejarah Perlembagaan hanya baik pada masa penggubalannya dan pengekalan elemen tertentu di dalam Perlembagaan yang disandarkan kepada sejarah tidak lagi relevan dalam perkembangan atau keadaan semasa.

Saya pasti pernyataan berkenaan tidak tepat. Beberapa elemen dalam sejarah Perlembagaan adalah asas atau dasar identiti dan falsafah negara. Malah perkara ini menyerlahkan identiti dan juga adalah simbol keperibadian masyarakat negara ini.

Oleh itu, sejarah Perlembagaan bukanlah sesuatu yang boleh dianggap baik untuk orang atau masa terdahulu saja. Ia sentiasa boleh disesuaikan dengan keadaan dan perkembangan semasa walaupun benarlah jika dianggap Perlembagaan negara boleh diubah mengikut kehendak dan tuntutan masa.

Hingga hampir 55 tahun merdeka kita menyaksikan banyak perubahan sudah dilakukan kepada Perlembagaan. Walaupun ada antara perubahan itu begitu terkesan ke atas institusi Raja contohnya, seperti pindaan kepada kuasa serta imuniti Raja, perubahan atau pindaan itu masih mengekalkan institusi Raja yang menjadi identiti utama negara.

Undang-undang asas

Kita tidak menolak sifat Perlembagaan yang dikatakan sebagai undang-undang asas yang seharusnya dapat menyesuaikan peruntukannya dengan perkembangan semasa. Itu yang menjadikan kesesuaian Perlembagaan berterusan. Pengalaman negara kita sepanjang dekat 55 tahun merdeka tidak menuntut untuk kita menggubal Perlembagaan yang baharu.

Kita masih menggunakan Perlembagaan yang membawa kepada kemerdekaan. Hanya perubahan berlaku, bukan pertukaran kepada keseluruhan Perlembagaan itu. Ada juga negara lain yang ada tiga atau empat Perlembagaan dalam jangka masa merdeka yang lebih pendek daripada negara kita.

Perlulah kita sentiasa mengambil perhatian, kita sudah menempa satu identiti serta membentuk falsafah bagi negara ini. Atas apa alasan juga perubahan yang mahu kita laksanakan kepada pengisian Perlembagaan, perubahan itu hendaklah pada setiap ketika memberi kepastian bahawa ia akan menjadikan negara kita lebih baik, beridentiti lebih sempurna, dan tidak memperjudi masa depan negara serta agama dan falsafahnya.


Shamrahayu A Aziz Sumber: Berita Harian Online Rencana Ahad , 15 Julai 2012, 25 Syaaban 1433 H

Pembestarian bahasa Melayu terus terabai

Bahasa Melayu ialah bahasa negara yang berfungsi sekali gus sebagai bahasa kebangsaan dan bahasa rasmi. Ini termaktub pada Perkara 152 dalam Perlembagaan Persekutuan, Akta Bahasa Kebangsaan 1967, dan Undang-undang Pendidikan Kebangsaan dari tergubalnya Akta Pelajaran 1957 sehingga ke Akta Pendidikan 1996.

Sebagai bahasa kebangsaan, dan lebih-lebih lagi dalam peranannya sebagai bahasa rasmi, bahasa Melayu ialah bahasa wahana wajib untuk ranah rasmi di negara ini. Untuk ini, bahasa Melayu hendaklah digunakan bagi “apa-apa jua maksud kerajaan, sama ada kerajaan Persekutuan atau kerajaan Negeri, dan termasuk apa-apa maksud sesuatu pihak berkuasa awam”.

Hal ini yang tercatat pada Perkara 152 Fasal 6 Perlembagaan Negara dan Akta Bahasa Kebangsaan 1967 Seksyen 1, yang merupakan pengertian dan kehendak penggunaan dalam ranah rasmi, sebenarnya adalah terlalu sempit dan minimum sekali.

Pengertian dan kehendak ini selalu difahami dan sering juga dieksploitasi oleh masyarakat Malaysia sebagai hanya bersangkutan dengan urusan dengan kerajaan, yakni sesuatu perkara yang harus diselesaikan dengan pihak pemerintah.

Ia juga dianggap sebagai perkara yang dikelolakan oleh pihak kerajaan, iaitu sebarang kegiatan dan acara yang diaturkan oleh pihak pemerintah.

Selain itu, ia ikut disifatkan sebagai upacara, majlis dan acara yang dikendalikan oleh pihak kerajaan untuk rakyat dan sebaliknya.

Sebenarnya, ranah rasmi itu luas sekali dan merangkumi antaranya bidang perundangan dan kehakiman, pentadbiran kerajaan dan semua agensinya, pengajian tinggi dan buku ilmiah, pelajaran sekolah rendah serta menengah dan buku teks.

Selain semua ini, ia ikut merangkumi media massa cetak dan elektronik, kegiatan ekonomi dan perdagangan, pembangunan sains dan teknologi, profesion dan pekerjaan, serta upacara, majlis dan acara rasmi, baik yang dianjurkan oleh pihak awam mahupun swasta.

Ranah rasmi adalah medan pengaruh yang amat berwibawa lagi berprestij, yang menguasai kehidupan seluruh warga sesebuah negara itu, dan bahasa, termasuk ragam yang digunakan untuk ranah rasmi ini, sebenarnya adalah bahasa dan ragam yang disanjungi dalam negara berkenaan, oleh semua lapisan dan sektor masyarakat.

Dalam konteks di Malaysia, ragam bahasa yang dimaksudkan ialah ragam baku bahasa Melayu. Ragam ini hendaklah digunakan dalam keadaan bestari, iaitu baik dan betul, dan sepenuhnya, yakni dari awal hingga ke akhir, sama ada sewaktu bertutur mahupun menulis, khususnya dalam penggunaan rasmi.

Pematuhan dua syarat linguistik ini, iaitu penggunaan bestari dan sepenuhnya adalah perlu sekali sebagai salah satu langkah penting untuk mengimbuh wibawa kepada bahasa Melayu sebagai bahasa negara.

Selain kewibawaan ini, dua syarat ini juga boleh mempertingkat kedominanan bahasa Melayu dari pelbagai aspek. Antaranya termasuklah perundangan, ideologi dan tindakan.

Bagaimanapun, dua syarat linguistik ini tidak selalu dipatuhi. Yang sering terjadi adalah tiga perkara berikut. Pertama, penggunaan bentuk bahasa yang melanggar peraturan nahu baku bahasa Melayu.

Kedua, bahasa Melayu yang menggunakan bentuk bahasa Inggeris yang bukan pun kata serapan dalam bahasa Melayu.

Ketiga, penggunaan bahasa Inggeris, sama ada secara sebahagian atau sepenuhnya untuk menggantikan bahasa Melayu sebagai bahasa wahana wajib.



Teo Kok Seong Sumber: Berita Harian Online Rencana Ahad , 15 Julai 2012, 25 Syaaban 1433 H

Memperkukuh semangat nusantara, serumpun

Bangsa Melayu nusantara harus menerima kenyataan bahawa evolusi budaya berupaya memantap dan memartabatkan budaya mereka di seluruh dunia.

Mereka perlu memahami bahawa evolusi budaya ialah proses perubahan masyarakat dan budaya yang mengambil masa lama. Perubahan yang berlaku pula lebih berupa secara persendirian iaitu tiada tekanan luar. Sehubungan itu, seni budaya rumpun Melayu di Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Singapura, sebahagian Thailand dan Filipina perlu dibiarkan berkembang dan mendapat pengiktirafan kerajaan.

Pemimpin serta pengamal budaya dari Malaysia dan Indonesia yang berhimpun di Seminar Budaya di Sawahlunto, Sumatera Barat, pada 5 Julai lalu sependapat, sebagai orang Melayu mereka harus bangga seni budaya itu berhak diamalkan dan diiktiraf oleh kerajaan di mana saja mereka berada.

Oleh itu, bangsa Melayu yang mempunyai ikatan kuat menerusi talian agama, budaya dan bahasa perlu bertekad memperkukuhkan semangat nusantara dan serumpun menerusi program agama, budaya dan bahasa selain saling mengunjungi dari semasa ke semasa.

Ikatan serumpun ini tidak harus diputuskan golongan berfikiran sempit yang sentiasa membesarkan isu atau menyebarkan maklumat tidak tepat seperti isu dimainkan oleh pihak tertentu terutama media di Indonesia mengenai tarian tor-tor dan gendang sembilan, bulan lalu.

Isu itu bermula pada 14 Jun apabila kerajaan Malaysia bersetuju mengiktiraf tor-tor Mandailing dan Gordang Sambilan (gendang sembilan) sebagai budaya suku kaum Mandailing dan didaftarkan bawah Akta Warisan Kebangsaan 2005. Ia dimohon oleh Persatuan Halak Mandailing Malaysia yang mempunyai 500,000 ahli.

Bermula dari situ, ada media di Indonesia memanipulasi istilah klaim (dakwaan pemilikan) oleh Malaysia yang meniup api kemarahan dalam kalangan rakyat yang sanggup mengeluarkan kata-kata kesat terhadap Malaysia di media Indonesia dan media sosial. Ada juga berdemonstrasi dan merosakkan harta negara di republik itu. Jika dibiarkan ia boleh mencetuskan ketegangan hubungan kedua-dua negara kerana isu remeh yang dimanipulasikan.

Menyampaikan ucaptama di seminar anjuran Dunia Melayu Dunia Islam (DMDI), Menteri Penerangan, Komunikasi dan Kebudayaan, Datuk Seri Utama Dr Rais Yatim menegaskan budaya dan agama seharusnya menjadi pegangan merapatkan hubungan serumpun dan nusantara.

Menerusi kedua-dua talian itu, bangsa Melayu yang berada di nusantara yang merangkumi Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei dan menjangkau ke sebahagian Filipina akan terus bersatu terutama dalam mempertahankan amalan peradaban murni turun-temurun.

Menurutnya, nusantara tidak dapat dipisahkan daripada Alam Melayu dan sudah pasti bangsa Melayu berada di pelbagai tempat di rantau ini. Sejarah menjelaskan bangsa Melayu, seperti juga bangsa lain membawa amalan hidup dan budaya mereka ke perantauan.

Ini termasuk orang Minangkabau, Mandailing, Jawa, Bugis dan Sunda yang merantau ke Malaysia. Orang Mandailing, umpamanya, mengamalkan tarian tor-tor dan gendang sembilan di Malaysia seperti juga masyarakat Mandailing di Indonesia.

Seminar itu dirasmikan wakil Gabenor Sumatera Barat, Muslim Kasim dan dihadiri Speaker Dewan Undangan Negeri (DUN) Melaka Datuk Wira Othman Mohamad yang mewakili Presiden DMDI Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam.

Dalam pada itu, Rais yang ditemui wartawan Malaysia dan tempatan selepas menyampaikan ucaptama turut mengulas lanjut tarian tor tor dan gendang sembilan yang dijadikan isu.

Menurutnya, seni budaya yang diamalkan masyarakat Malaysia dan Indonesia perlu dibiarkan berkembang mengikut evolusinya sendiri. Seni budaya yang dikongsi bersama itu tidak harus dibuat apa-apa asalkan ia tidak membabitkan sebarang kesalahan di sisi undang-undang antarabangsa.

“Tarian tor-tor dan gendang sembilan Mandailing harus diwarisi oleh masyarakat Mandailing. Mereka berhak untuk amalkan dan seharusnya masyarakat Mandailing di Malaysia juga berhak mengamalkannya,” katanya.

Untuk itu, sistem pengiktirafan menerusi pendaftaran bukan untuk Malaysia tetapi masyarakat itu sendiri dan ia perlu dimaklumi seperti orang Minang dengan silat randai, yang menjadi sebahagian daripada jiwa kumpulan masyarakat itu. Isu itu tidak sepatutnya menjadi sesuatu yang mengekang atau menyempitkan hubungan rakyat kedua-dua negara.


Ibrahim Yahya Sumber : Berita Harian Online Rencana Ahad , 15 Julai 2012, 25 Syaaban 1433 H

Audit bahasa Melayu cabaran baru DBP

Masalah boleh diselesaikan jika kerajaan berazam tingkatkan citra Malaysia

Syabas Dr Awang Sariyan kerana mengotakan janji yang dibuatnya Februari lalu untuk mengaudit penggunaan bahasa Melayu di jabatan kerajaan. Ketua Pengarah Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (DBP) memaklumkan proses audit bahasa kebangsaan di Jabatan Perkhidmatan Awam (JPA) menjelang akhir tahun ini, dengan menempatkan kakitangan bagi memeriksa dokumen rasmi jabatan terbabit.


Isu pengabaian Bahasa Melayu pernah dipersendakan apabila tema Hari Kebangsaan pada 1996 yang bermakna ‘lesu’, ‘longlai’ atau ‘tidak bermaya’. Ungkapan ‘Budaya Penentu Kecapaian’ menjadi sebutan ramai, walaupun perkataan ‘kecapaian’ membawa makna negatif. Begitu juga slogan sambutan Maal Hijrah pada tahun sama yang berbunyi ‘Budaya Murni Teras Kecapaian’ yang langsung tidak menepati konsep hijrah itu sendiri”


Laporan audit terbabit akan dikeluarkan bagi membolehkan tindakan selanjutnya diambil dalam usaha meningkatkan tahap penggunaan bahasa kebangsaan di agensi yang dikesan masih belum menepati piawaian ditetapkan.

Malah, Timbalan Perdana Menteri, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin turut menegaskan usaha memartabatkan bahasa Melayu akan dilakukan di Jabatan Perkhidmatan Awam (JPA) mulai Disember, dengan mengaudit semua tindakan dan aktiviti untuk melihat sejauh mana badan kerajaan itu mengguna pakai bahasa Melayu.

Untuk tujuan ini, beliau berkata, pelbagai pekeliling dikeluarkan oleh JPA termasuk yang terbaru Pekeliling Perkhidmatan Bilangan 9 Tahun 2011 mengenai panduan penggunaan bahasa Kebangsaan dalam Perkhidmatan Awam.

Kita harap isu bahasa boleh diselesaikan jika kerajaan berazam untuk meningkatkan citra Malaysia. Sebelum ini isu bahasa bermasalah kerana pimpinan politik tidak tegas. Kita harap ia tidak berulang walaupun pelbagai kempen pernah dilaksanakan. Lebih malang apabila kementerian, jabatan dan agensi kerajaan sebelum ini tidak menggunakan bahasa Melayu sepenuhnya.

Audit bahasa tindakan terbaik

Keadaan ini berpunca sikap pegawai atasan dan penjawat awam yang tidak memahami atau terlepas pandang Dasar Bahasa Kebangsaan yang turut disokong Dasar Pendidikan Kebangsaan dan Dasar Kebudayaan Kebangsaan.

Setakat ini ada beberapa kementerian, jabatan dan agensi kerajaan mencapai tahap 80 hingga 90 peratus penggunaan bahasa Melayu dalam semua dokumen rasmi.

Memang diakui mengauditkan penggunaan bahasa Melayu tindakan terbaik tetapi mampukah DBP berdepan kerenah birokrasi? Mampukah DBP menegur pemimpin yang bertutur dan menulis dalam bahasa penjajah?

Sehingga kini DBP tidak mempunyai kuasa undang-undang untuk mengambil tindakan terhadap mana-mana pihak yang tidak mendaulatkan bahasa Melayu.

DBP hanya sekadar bersuara, memberi nasihat dan memantau tanpa kuasa penguatkuasaan, justeru lahirlah nama taman perumahan berbaur bahasa asing.

Ketika pembinaan Putrajaya pun, DBP tidak dirujuk untuk menggunakan perkataan ‘presint’ yang langsung tiada kaitan unsur tempatan.

Penulis yakin DBP tidak dirujuk ketika syarikat kereta nasional ditubuh pada 1985. Justeru, lahirlah Perusahaan Otomobil Nasional Sdn Bhd dan Perusahaan Otomobil Kedua Sdn Bhd yang menggunakan ejaan ‘otomobil’ bukan automobil.

Isu pengabaian bahasa Melayu pernah dipersendakan apabila tema Hari Kebangsaan pada 1996 yang bermakna ‘lesu’, ‘longlai’ atau ‘tidak bermaya’. Ungkapan ‘Budaya Penentu Kecapaian’ menjadi sebutan ramai, walaupun perkataan ‘kecapaian’ membawa makna negatif.

Isu kecapaian

Begitu juga slogan sambutan Maal Hijrah pada tahun sama yang berbunyi ‘Budaya Murni Teras Kecapaian’ yang langsung tidak menepati konsep hijrah itu sendiri. Bayangkan ungkapan yang salah itu diulang berkali-kali dalam kalangan masyarakat ketika sambutan diadakan. Kasihan murid dan pelajar kerana keliru memahami ‘kecapaian’.

Hari ini setengah bilion penutur bahasa Melayu bertebaran dari Asia Pasifik hingga ke Afrika Selatan. Tanpa sedar pengguna bahasa Melayu merata di perairan Selat Melaka, Laut China Selatan, Teluk Siam, Selat Sunda hingga ke Afrika dengan pelbagai pengubahsuaian dan penerapan nilai setempat.

Bagaimanapun kita masih pasrah dengan kesilapan melampau. Apakah masalah sikap atau pihak tertinggi yang kurang tegas dalam isu bahasa, seperti juga longlai dalam isu novel Interlok angkara hasutan pihak lain? Ada ketika politik mengatasi isu bahasa dan sastera.


Imlan Adabi Sumber: Berita Harian Online Rencana Ahad , 15 Julai 2012, 25 Syaaban 1433 H

Bila ilmu ditawan dunia komersial

Pelbagai isu pendidikan belum selesai

Awal Mei lalu ada berita bertajuk besar: ‘Menguasai bahasa Inggeris adalah satu keutamaan’. Tegas Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin: “Usaha memastikan rakyat Malaysia boleh menguasai bahasa Inggeris tetap jadi keutamaan kerajaan.” Pengumuman ini meletakkan cabaran berat kepada pegawai profesional di Kementerian Pelajaran, guru besar dan guru Bahasa Inggeris. Sejak dulu-dulu lagi sekolah kita tidak pernah cukup peralatan dan guru. Bahasa Inggeris jadi mata pelajaran sampingan. Penguasaannya tidak pernah jadi sebagai satu ‘keutamaan’.

Justeru, apapun ilmu dan didikan di sekolah, sukarlah mencapai tujuannya kerana masyarakat dan negara tidak lagi punya kekuatan untuk mengawal tingkah laku manusia dan dunia komersial”.

Kemahiran berbahasa, apa lagi bahasa asing, bergantung kepada sejauh manakah ia digunakan setiap hari. Mulai sekarang sekolah perlu memastikan supaya pelajar sebanyak mungkin berkomunikasi dalam bahasa Inggeris. Setiap hujung penggal persekolahan perlu ada pertandingan bahas dan pidato dalam bahasa Inggeris. Pastikan selepas Tingkatan Lima anak kita mahir berbahasa Inggeris.

Di samping itu, sekolah kita berhadapan dengan cabaran lain lagi. Timbalan Menteri Pelajaran, Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi mengumumkan (5 Julai), mata pelajaran baru, Pendidikan Kesihatan Reproduktif dan Sosial (PKRS) bakal diperkenalkan tidak lama lagi. Menurut Dr Mohd Puad: “Kita tidak boleh lagi menunggu lebih lama kerana menurut kajian, ramai remaja di negara ini masih tidak mengetahui fungsi dan kepentingan pergaulan secara sihat antara lelaki dan wanita.”

Kata Mohd Puad lagi: “Pengajaran subjek terbabit yang dicadangkan bermula pada peringkat sekolah rendah atau menengah rendah juga membolehkan remaja memperoleh maklumat berhubung kesihatan reproduktif dengan lebih tepat.”

Pelajaran ini juga katanya, berupaya mengurangkan masalah kepincangan sosial dalam kalangan anak muda sekarang. Silibus yang sesuai dimasukkan dalam pelajaran ini boleh menyedarkan anak muda mengenai bahaya kegiatan lesbian, gay, biseksual dan transgender (LGBT) di negara ini.

Ketika zaman penulis bersekolah dan menjadi remaja, tanpa ada mata pelajaran khusus berkaitan hubungan lelaki wanita, sudah cukup tahu akan bahaya berzina. Tahu hukumnya dan akibat buruknya kepada diri dan keluarga. Sekarang ketika zaman semuanya boleh dibaca dan dilihat di mana-mana, sekolah terpaksa pula mengadakan pelajaran ‘Kesihatan Reproduktif’ (namanya pun aneh!).

Masalah ‘kepincangan sosial’ dan hubungan seks dalam kalangan remaja, bukanlah kerana mereka tidak tahu bahayanya, tetapi kerana mereka tak terdaya melawan ombak rangsangan seks di sekeliling mereka. Yang memberikan contoh tidak baik itu, terutama sekali golongan yang lebih tua daripada mereka, berlaku di depan mata dalam pelbagai media, tanpa sekatan dan batasan. Ibu bapa yang prihatin jadi serba salah dan kehilangan arah.

Budaya komersial yang melampau, terutama dalam mengeksploitasi dan memperdagangkan tubuh wanita sudah meracuni otak dan merangsang nafsu kaum remaja. Kepincangan sosial lebih serius berlaku dalam kalangan orang dewasa. Internet dan alat komunikasi baru yang sangat canggih, sudah pula berkembang menjadi sumber penyakit sosial yang tak mampu dikawal lagi.

Justeru, apapun ilmu dan didikan di sekolah, sukarlah mencapai tujuannya kerana masyarakat dan negara tidak lagi punya kekuatan untuk mengawal tingkah laku manusia dan dunia komersial. Sebaliknya dunia komersial pula yang menguasai pemerintah negara.

Pada 28 Jun lalu dilancarkan pula program Interaktif Tuisyen Rakyat 1Malaysia (iTR1M) yang akan dilaksanakan oleh Yayasan Guru Malaysia Berhad (YGMB). Menurut Pengerusi YGMB, Tan Sri Alimuddin Mohd Dom (bekas Ketua Pengarah Pelajaran) tuisyen percuma ini ‘akan memberi faedah kepada pelajar daripada keluarga berpendapatan rendah mendapat tuisyen terbaik.’

Seramai 350 ‘guru cemerlang’ yang membabitkan 107 sekolah rendah dan menengah akan memulakan projek perintis di Selangor. Kumpulan yang terpilih mengikuti tuisyen ini ialah calon ujian UPSR, PMR dan SPM.

YGMB ialah yayasan yang ditubuhkan oleh bekas pegawai tinggi pendidikan. Apabila mereka pula menganjurkan tuisyen, membuktikan pengajaran di sekolah tidak dapat menjamin kelulusan ujian yang baik, walaupun sudah ada sekolah dan guru yang ditarafkan ‘cemerlang’. Akhirnya kecemerlangan sekolah bergantung kepada tuisyen di luar sekolah. Justeru, guru dan sekolah yang benar-benar cemerlang tidak akan ada lagi!

RM2 juta sudah diperuntukkan bagi program perintis ini. Apabila diperluaskan ke seluruh negara biayanya pastilah ratusan juta dan membabitkan ribuan guru cemerlang! Timbullah banyak persepsi negatif!

Apakah program dan perbelanjaan ini wajar? Mengapa pengajaran di sekolah tidak cukup untuk menyediakan pelajar menghadapi ujian? Apakah program ini akan jadi sebahagian daripada sistem pendidikan kita? Yang boleh menjawab hanya guru dan pegawai profesional di Kementerian Pelajaran dan YGMB. – (Saya mohon respon anda. Pro mahupun kontra)


Noor Azam Sumber: Berita Harian Online Rencana Ahad , 15 Julai 2012, 25 Syaaban 1433 H

Boleh kritik kerajaan

Hukuman bagi pengkritik tiada dalam akta baru

Kuala Kangsar: Akta Keharmonian Nasional tidak akan menghalang mana-mana pihak membuat kritikan terhadap kerajaan dan pemimpinnya. Peruntukan yang membolehkan tindakan diambil terhadap pihak yang mengkritik sehingga mencetuskan kemarahan rakyat dan tidak puas hati terhadap kerajaan serta kepemimpinannya seperti termaktub dalam Akta Hasutan 1948, tidak akan dimasukkan dalam akta baru itu.

“Cuma, oleh kerana kita sebuah negara yang datang dari latar belakang agama, budaya dan adat resam yang berbeza, kita mesti jaga keharmonian, tidak ada kebebasan bersuara yang mutlak,” - Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz, Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri

Bagaimanapun, akta berkenaan akan terus mengekalkan tindakan tegas terhadap pihak yang menyentuh perkara sensitif seperti institusi raja-raja Melayu, agama dan perkauman.

Tiada sekatan Penjelasan itu dibuat oleh Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz, semalam, selepas Datuk Seri Najib Razak mengumumkan Akta Keharmonian Nasional akan menggantikan Akta Hasutan, Rabu lalu.

“Sebab itu, kita kena hapus Akta Hasutan dan ganti dengan akta baru di mana ia tidak akan mempunyai satu peruntukan di mana kerajaan dan pemimpinnya tidak boleh dikritik.

“Kerajaan berpendapat kritikan kepada pemerintahan dan pemimpinnya adalah ‘legitimate’ (sah) berhubung hak kebebasan bersuara mengikut Perlembagaan.

“Kita juga berasa kritikan yang dibuat kepada kerajaan boleh menjadikan check and balance (perimbangan) supaya kerajaan sedar mungkin ada kelemahan mengenai perkara yang dikritik rakyat itu.

“Cuma, oleh kerana kita sebuah negara yang datang dari latar belakang agama, budaya dan adat resam yang berbeza, kita mesti jaga keharmonian, tidak ada kebebasan bersuara yang mutlak,” katanya selepas merasmikan gelanggang futsal baru di Taman Kuala Kangsar di sini, semalam.

Ketika mengumumkan pemansuhan Akta Hasutan 1984 dan digantikan AKN, Najib dilaporkan berkata, akta baru itu bertujuan memberi penekanan pemupukan semangat harmoni, saling menghormati masyarakat pelbagai kaum dan agama.

Nazri yang juga Ahli Parlimen Padang Rengas turut menjelaskan Akta Hasutan perlu dimansuhkan kerana perkataan ‘hasutan’ sendiri membawa konotasi negatif.

Pelihara hubungan kaum

“Tapi ada yang tak lapuk seperti hubungan antara kaum dan kedudukan agama, kedudukan raja-raja Melayu yang mesti dipelihara, tapi jika nak larang orang daripada mengkritik kerajaan, saya ingat tak boleh pakai lagi,” katanya.

Nazri meminta semua pihak tidak memberi pandangan melulu sebaliknya menunggu isi kandungan undang-undang berkenaan dan meminta rakyat memberi pandangan masing-masing kepada pihak Pejabat Peguam Negara yang sudah arah untuk mendapatkan pandangan daripada pelbagai pihak berkepentingan.

Katanya, draf rang undang-undang itu akan dikemukakan untuk kelulusan Kabinet, tetapi mengakui mungkin tidak sempat membentangkannya pada sesi Parlimen September ini sebaliknya tahun depan.

Sementara itu, Ketua Penerangan PERKASA, Roslan Kassim, berkata penggubalan akta baru itu adalah langkah berani Perdana Menteri dalam mendepani keperluan rakyat setelah beberapa akta sebelum ini dimansuhkan.

“Ini adalah satu langkah berani kerajaan dipimpin Najib, hanya pemimpin berani saja sanggup membuat keputusan ini. Ia juga membuktikan Perdana Menteri mengotakan janjinya.

“Bagaimanapun bagi saya keterbukaan ini perlu juga ada hadnya, bersuara dengan fakta dan bukannya menjadikannya tempat untuk melemparkan fitnah. Gunalah keterbukaan kerajaan ini demi kepentingan rakyat,” katanya ketika dihubungi di sini, semalam.

Bagi Penganalisis politik, Prof Ahmad Atory Hussain, berkata walaupun tanpa akta baru berkenaan, kerajaan sentiasa memberi ruang kepada rakyat untuk dikritik bagi memperbaiki kelemahan.

“Saya melihat kerajaan yang ada hari ini sentiasa dikritik rakyat dan tidak pernah menyekat rakyat daripada terus mengkritiknya,” katanya.

Sementara itu, Ahli Parlimen Wangsa Maju, Wee Choo Keong berpendapat kebebasan bersuara yang diberikan kerajaan perlu ada batasannya bagi menjamin keharmonian kaum terbina sejak sekian lama.



Oleh Jalal Ali Abdul Rahim dan Haspaizi Mohd Zain Sumber: Berita Harian Online Nasional Ahad , 15 Julai 2012, 25 Syaaban 1433 H

Pathways to progress

The learning and social culture at government schools will need a boost now that the local student quota on private schools has been lifted.

AFTER undergoing six years of formal schooling in a government school, 13-year-old Jack Lee (not his real name) had to make some adjustments when he first entered an international school to begin his secondary education.

The years of being schooled under the rigid examination-oriented system had inevitably instilled a desire to achieve the highest scores in young Jack.

During a story-writing exercise at his new school, Jack asked his teacher on guidelines about answering questions that would accord him the highest marks.


 Artistic leanings: Pupils of Sri Garden International School add a global perspective to their art lessons by painting mascots with an Olympic theme. 

To his surprise, Jack was told that there was no right or wrong answers when writing an ending for a story.

His teacher explained to him that one simply had to enjoy reading a good story. The process of writing an ending for the story, the teacher said, would be adding more fun to the whole journey.

The emphasis on “holistic education” in such an unregimented learning environment was one of the factors that has recently drawn an increasing number of Malaysian parents to enrol their children in international schools.

Jack is one of the estimated number of 39,540 students enrolled in about 70 international schools in the country.

Recently, the Education Ministry had announced that the 40% quota for Malaysians in international schools was to be lifted.

Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong was quoted as saying that the decision to do away with the quota was in line with the Government’s Economic Transformation Programme to make the country a regional education hub.

The Education National Key Economic Area under the Economic Transformation Programme has targeted the establishment of 87 international schools by 2020 with an enrolment of 75,000 students.

Being exclusive

Not too long ago, the privilege of studying at an international school was only for expatriates and an exclusive group of Malaysians.

Prior to 2007, Malaysians could only register at international schools if they had studied overseas for at least three years, or if one parent was an expatriate. Still, those who fulfilled the requirement had to get the written consent of the Education Minister.

Education at international schools does not come cheap. Tuition fees for a high school student in a top-notch international school costs up to RM90,000 per annum while international curriculum schools charge between RM20,000 and RM30,000 for high school students per year.

International curriculum schools are different from international schools as while they use British, American or curricula from other countries, they are mostly staffed by local teachers. Incidentally it is the British curriculum that is most favoured by students and parents.

Association of International Malaysian Schools past president Margaret Kaloo said a large portion of the high school fees contributed to the salaries of the expatriate teachers hired in the international schools.

“Staffing is the main problem in running an international school. It’s a fight to get local teachers who can speak good English since they are of a dying breed,” said Kaloo, who is also chief executive officer of elc International School.


 Let’s dance: International school pupils, as part of their curriculum, have the privilege of engaging in dance activities.
 


She added that there would certainly be an increase in the enrolment of Malaysian students in international curriculum schools following the recent announcement on the lifting of the quota for Malaysian students. “Many middle class parents scramble to put their children in international schools because they want to give them a better pathway to quality education.

“It is not so much about the ‘internationalism’ factor in international schools, the bottom line is parents prefer their children to learn in English. They realise that English is the ticket for their children to get places in good universities and better jobs,” said Kaloo.

Taylor’s Education Group school division president B.K. Gan said some international schools would still like to maintain the 40% Malaysian quota since the schools were set up to cater to the needs of the expatriate community in the first place.

“I suppose that having more international schools will not really make us an education hub. Look at Thailand ... the country has a high number of international schools but the schools have an equally large number of Thai students,” said Gan.

He believed that the proliferation of international curriculum schools had earlier contributed to the increased enrolment of Malaysians in international schools.

Gan said that international curriculum schools were targeting a different market with a lower fee structure and it had no doubt made education in international schools more affordable to many Malaysians.

“Not all expatriates prefer to send their children to the high-end international schools. Some send their children to international curriculum schools because they want their children to have the opportunity to mingle with the locals in the few years they are in the country,” said Gan.

With the increasing popularity of international curriculum schools among parents, Gan opined that there would be more schools switching to become international curriculum schools in the near future.

No glory

Renowned economist and Centre of Public Policies Studies chairman Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam said the fact that more Malaysians are enrolling in international schools reflected the lack of faith in government schools.

He lamented that national schools now were no longer glorified as the elite schools of the old days when royalty, ministers and tycoons sent their children to such schools.

“What has gone wrong with our government schools? Many parents, especially those with the financial means are not keen on sending their children to government schools because of the structural flaws within its system,” said Navaratnam who went to Victoria Institution, Kuala Lumpur.

“When more of the rich send their children to international schools while those who cannot afford, go to government schools, the gap of the standards between these two types of schools will widen,” Navaratnam cautioned.

He said it is imperative that the Government give priority to improving the standards of our national schools.

 Yes Sir: Expatriate teachers add to the flavour of an international school community.
 

“The draw of international schools is its emphasis on English. National schools can appeal to parents again if more importance is placed on teaching English,” said Navaratnam.

He pointed out that the quality of teachers is another crucial factor that can drive up the standards of national schools.

“Teachers have received a substantial increase in their salaries over the years. The pressure must be put on teachers to constantly improve themselves and they must be committed to their jobs,” said Navaratnam.

Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said parents cannot be blamed for sending their children to international schools.

“If it wasn’t for the declining standards of government schools , parents wouldn’t choose to send their children to international schools because they have to cough up a huge sum of money to pay for the school fees,” said Noor Azimah.

While PAGE welcomed the move to lift the quota on Malaysians in international schools, Noor Azimah said the Government should instead address core problems such as qualities of teachers and the kinks caused by the flip-flopping of education policies.

“When Science and Maths were taught in English in national schools, a number of parents who sent their children to private schools transferred them back to government schools.

“Had the policies not been changed, more students, especially the non-Malays would still be attending national schools,” she said.

Notwithstanding, Noor Azimah urged parents not to give up on national schools, adding that the struggle to improve the standards of schools will not be a lost cause.

“Government schools play an important role in integrating students of different backgrounds. Besides, how can we instil national pride in the younger generation if they have never learnt about our local geography, history and heroes?” asked Noor Azimah.

She feared the Government’s stand to liberalise education could actually lead to a disintegration of the nation.

“I may be presumptuous but the continuing trend of more Malaysians in international schools will widen the urban-rural divide. It can create an uneven playing field for students from national schools compared to their international school counterparts when they enter the job market,” said Noor Azimah.

Social divide

On the contrary, Gan disagreed that the growing number of Malaysians who attend international schools will lead to a social divide.

Based on the estimated enrolment of 35,000 Malaysians in international schools, Gan said the figure was too small to leave any huge impact compared to over five million students in government schools.

“As society advances, those who are more affluent can afford to have more choices in education. However, it does not mean that government schools are of poorer quality than international schools,” Gan said.

He explained that the Government had a duty to ensure that its schools were of high standards and countries such as Finland and Singapore should be emulated for having government schools of the best quality.

“Rather than causing a social divide, the private sector is always happy to assist in improving the standards of government schools by sharing resources for teacher training,” said Gan.

Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs founder president Tunku ’Abidin Muhriz said there were several ways that government schools can model after international schools.

“International schools tend to have more resources and autonomy when it comes to curriculum, teaching methods and the hiring and firing of staff (including teachers).

“If government schools had the same freedom they could compete with each other and also with international schools. This culture of freedom and competition is perhaps what our national schools need the most,” he said.

Like several others, Tunku ’Abidin believed that teacher quality matters most importantly in the process to improve the standards of government schools.

“If effective teachers are allowed to flourish while the ones who are not as effective are removed or given additional skills training, we’d already be halfway there towards high quality government schools.

“Nevertheless, this requires more autonomy at the school level for school heads and parents to make these decisions instead of reverting to the centralised system as in the current practice now,” he added.



By KANG SOON CHEN educate@thestar.com.my Source: The STAR Online Home News Education Sunday July 15, 2012

Nobody likes a snitch

While most people would justify snitching on others, there is a fine line between talebearing for selfish reaons and telling on micreants to expose wrongdoing.

CALL them finks, tattletales, squealers or plain sneaks, nobody likes a snitch and this is probably true even among those who snitch.

But the truth is, people who convey unflattering reports or tell tales about their colleagues to the bosses are found in every organisation, and this includes schools.

The airing of grievances or dissatisfaction in the school staff-room among colleagues who lend each other their ears is common, and the staff generally look out for each other.

There is an unwritten code of loyalty and understanding among staff members that what they talk about amongst themselves is for the sole purpose of letting off steam.

Sometimes, however, there lurk people who make mental records of what has been said, to be used as “prime evidence” when currying favour with the higher-ups.

The sad thing about these episodes of tale-bearing is the way the truth often gets distorted or embellished to suit whatever dark motives the informant may have.

Why do people snitch on others? What do they get out of it? The person who snitches is usually trying to gain favour or to get into the good books of the one in authority.

Most of the time, however, the main objective of the snitch is to elevate their own standing in the eyes of the bosses by casting aspersions on the character, work or conduct of the colleague they snitch about.

What they fail to realise is that while there may be bosses who directly or indirectly encourage tattling among their staff by eagerly lapping up whatever is leaked to them, the discerning boss would know that the snitch is a person with little loyalty towards their colleagues and whose integrity is in doubt.

Even if there are loud protestations and justifications of “having to tell on someone for the sake of the common good”, there is more often than not a degree of malice in the act.

Snitching comes easy

In the school setting, when there appears to be definite gains in being favoured by the principal, it is easy to be a snitch

One need not strain one’s ears to hear expressions of discontent from teachers who are disgruntled about certain administrative policies, new education rulings or what they perceive to be unfair workload.

It is not uncommon to hear people griping or complaining about things that don’t always please them or suit their purposes.

While the world as a whole could benefit from less discontentment, the tendency to complain is human nature and none of us can say we never do it.

After all, we ourselves are far from perfect. We all slip up from time to time.

There may have been times when we honestly forgot to enter our class during our scheduled periods because our minds were preoccupied with another teaching duty.

There may also have been times when we got so upset about a ridiculous ruling that we spoke our minds about it openly.

Sometimes we may even utter a not-so-flattering remark or two about the apparent intelligence of the people who have designated us such duties.

However, most of the time, after venting and expressing their two cents’ worth, teachers (being a responsible lot) proceed to carry out their assignments and often even surpass their own expectations.

Venting and bonding

Oftentimes teachers have legitimate grouses. But, whatever it is, there is usually a bonding and feeling of kinship in the airing of grievances – the feeling that whatever we are feeling is understood by the people we work with, and that we have all gone through the same thing at one time or another.

This would be the case if the issues that are criticised are not major enough to provoke hostilities which would negatively impact work performance and the school as a whole.

So there are times we grumble against people in authority, we talk about inconsistencies in the implementation of administrative policies. There are instances we feel the bosses have shown favouritism in doling out goodies.

This is normal human behaviour and those in leadership should understand that their decisions will not always be warmly received by their subordinates.

There will be those who question their actions, their motives or even their personal lives, wrong though it may be.

But this is the undocumented part of a leader’s job description. Dealing with those who question their decisions will require honesty and transparency, or even open dialogue where workers can express themselves without fear of recrimination.

Thus those at the helm should be the first to discourage the culture of snitching and turn away people who, under the guise of meaning well, proceed to download or upload the conversations, grouses, oversights or blunders of their colleagues.

No matter what reasons they give for snitching on others, tale-bearers are for the most part self-seeking.

The question that looms is whether there are instances when snitching serves a good purpose. Again it is impossible to make sweeping statements.

A snitch in time

While ratting on others is generally frowned upon, there are times when valuable information can surface to put an end to wrongdoing.

It is usually the class snitch who informs us about who has been copying from whom on the test, or who is doing their Math homework during English class.

At times it is the whistle-blowers among groups with plans for cutting school or smoking sessions who alert the disciplinary board to take action before things get worse.

Reporting on undesirable activities should definitely be encouraged or even rewarded.

Schools need to be aware of what is going on, they need to know of students’ secret activities in the same way parents have a right to know about their children’s whereabouts, simply because they are responsible for those under their care.

However, students should never be encouraged to snitch on each other about unfavourable remarks about your teaching or about what they think of another teacher.

Relishing this kind of snitching does nothing for the teacher’s image, shows his insecurity and detracts from the dignity of his job.

Likewise, among superiors and subordinates it is difficult to plug your ears when someone says: “Do you know what so-and-so said about you the other day?”

We may brush it off later by saying, “It doesn’t matter, I don’t give a hoot, Let people talk, I don’t care”, but many of us do care.

That spark of indignation against the person who has criticised us may turn into resentment if not dealt with.

No matter how much the act of snitching is sugar-coated, the truth is that it is poisonous.

Teachers and educators would be wise to remember this and not encourage snitching among those under their authority as it can destroy the goodwill and teamwork necessary in a vibrant school set-up.


TEACHER TALK By MALLIKA VASUGI Source: The STAR Online Home News Education Sunday July 15, 2012

Denying a child’s individuality

Attractive as it may seem, children should not be enticed in large groups into participating in record-breaking events, for they will not be able to show off their respective creativity and skills.

I HAVE been most unsettled by a “mass performance” of children. It might seem odd that I should find such a performance disturbing, but it did.

What’s more, it could have been damaging to the psychological development of the children involved.

Let me explain. I recently attended a charity concert performed by children. It was organised by a Malaysian preschool. To me, it was the most offensive performance involving children.

The reason I found it so, was the total disregard shown towards every child at the performance.

In one of the presentations, there were 390 children, one of whom was my son, crammed on the stage.

Each child had standing room only. It was almost impossible for them to move, let alone perform on a stage that was not meant for such a large group.

I am certain that not a single parent in that auditorium — apart from the privileged ones at the front — would have seen their child perform.

So why the need for the performance?

Creating a record

The reason soon became clear — the school wanted to create a Malaysian record in which it had the most number of children performing in an event.

To do so, they squeezed well over 1,000 children into its various presentations that night.

The emphasis was on quantity, not on quality. None of the children seemed to have received proper instructions on what they were supposed to do and how to perform.

Those responsible for the event had no regard for the children’s health, comfort and state of mind.

My son was forced to be at the event and I had the feeling that he was unimportant and that his individuality meant nothing. He was just a number, like the others on stage

During the entire duration of the performance, the children had the opportunity to feel their nothingness, their triviality, their “unimportance” to the school.

As a parent, this offended me deeply. There was clearly no respect shown to the children .

Once I saw the 390 children on the stage, I knew, at once, why my son – who usually loves performing – was reluctant to do so.

What occurred was not even remotely a performance experience.

It was an act of psychological denigration for both the children and parents present.

Regrets

I should have listened to my son. I should have pulled him out from the “performance”.

On the day of his rehearsal, he had complained they were not provided with enough refreshments.

Yet, on the day of the performance, those responsible made a big show of feeding the kids.

This hints at the true nature of the organisers. I have learnt my lesson.

If the school ever came up with a stunt like that, we will not allow our child to participate.

The only reason he is at the school is because it is the nearest school to our house, and the most affordable. It is economics alone that dictated our choice.

The school broke the record for having the most number of children performing on stage, but, in doing so, it also broke whatever notion the parents might have had about it (the school) caring for their children.

Education should never be primarily about money. It should be about nurturing a child to become a person with good values.

Putting children in a situation like this just for a record-breaking stunt, is certainly not about bringing out their best.

I remember my son enjoying a different experience when he was a three-year-old child.

He was in a school in Singapore, which was not part of a big chain. He had to perform a dance at the school‘s concert.

It was great to see him up there on stage with a few others. Every movement was fluid and elegant and synchronised perfectly with the accompanying music.

However, I cannot say the same of his current school. Our son has never had that opportunity to present his skills, style and talent.

The school has lost sight of its original ideals in bringing out the best in each pupil, focusing instead on organising an event involving so many children.

None of the children had the chance to develop or hone their skills and talent in the performing arts. It was indeed a great disappointment.

Insignificant

Such “mass performances” must come to an end.

Parents should resist the trend of allowing others to hoodwink their children into creating record-breaking feats.

No child should be made to feel insignificant in performances of such a large scale.

Parents should insist that those organising public performances that include children, should ensure that every youngster is allowed to demonstrate his individuality and talent.

Having smaller groups would ensure that those responsible, be they schools or organisations, cannot cover up their flaws.

Many organisers tend to hide their weaknesses in choreography and other areas like singing and acting, by having a larger group of performers.

By doing so, the audience doesn’t have a chance to scrutinise the flaws of each child, or performer.

Let me reiterate that the true joys of performing will be evident only if children are allowed to develop their individual styles and talent in small groups.

Organisations or individuals should never use children for record-breaking feats for they are mainly a public relations gimmick.

Every parent should be allowed to have memories of their child, on stage, for the first time ... memories of their first dance, their first song, their first play.

Let Malaysia be a nation, in which every parent has that chance.


The writer, an Irishman based in Kuala Lumpur, is a psychology researcher focusing on giftedness. He is also chairman of the Research Committee of the National Association for Gifted Children, Malaysia (NAGCM). He was an actor, writer, magazine founder and editor, physicist and teacher.


By VALENTINE CAWLEY Source: The STAR Online Home Education Sunday July 15, 2012

Of language and good morals

THERE HAVE been various comments made on the teaching of Moral Studies in schools and institutes of higher learning which were published in StarEducate in the last two issues.

Students, lecturers and parents seem to be unhappy over the length of time they need to spend on memorising the list of moral values and then answering objective questions in examinations.

Let me point out that teaching Moral Studies without being proficient in the language it is taught in, would be of little use.

Every language has its form and functions, and there are appropriate words or terms used for certain situations as in the phrase “Thank you” in appreciation of a kind gesture or gift.

T.J. Phang in his letter (under the heading “Give Science students a break”, July 1) had stated “grateful” was no longer considered a moral value in upper secondary school.

Although the writer does not clearly say whether the term has been taken away from the syllabus or simply modified, it is still possible to make a parallel with the language.

Gratitude

In English, it is polite to say “thank you” when someone does something for you. And the standard reply is “you are welcome”.

Both phrases imply gratitude. To say “thank you” means that the speaker acknowledges and is grateful for an action or good deed.

When one answers “you are welcome” it means that you are grateful for having had the opportunity to do the good deed. There are other possible answers to “thank you” such as “my pleasure”, “don’t mention it”, or even “anytime”.

However in this situation “you are welcome” is perhaps the best answer because it is appropriate and complete. When language competency is tested in a multiple choice question test, there is only one correct answer.

This is again very well demonstrated in Bahasa Malaysia (BM) where the reply to the term terima kasih (thank you) is sama-sama.

Certainly, a BM speaker must wonder why there are more possibilities in English when there is only one answer in BM.

This is why we need to simplify terms for all to understand and the task of simplifying and presenting such terms can only be carried out by a competent teacher.

Basic manners

Teaching students to say “you are welcome” after every “thank you”, are lessons taught for one to learn and acquire basic manners. Those who apply such values will be appreciated and are certianly a cut above the rest. In my opinion, the fact that students are expected to take up some form of “Moral” studies even at tertiary level is to inculcate universally-accepted values that are understood by people of all faiths and from different countries.

The government is no doubt concerned that students must conduct themselves in accordance with the rule of law, for peace and harmony to be maintained. And for this, the Malaysian government stands apart and is to be highly commended.

In many developed countries, religion is no longer taught in school. In Malaysia, Moral Studies substitutes religion for all non-Muslim students.

We see the decadence and desperation of the West because of the lack of morals and religion. It is evident that the government does not want this to happen in Malaysia.

Perhaps scientists can overlook the need to study morals, but they are necessary on a day-to-day basis and for social interaction. Ultimately, I believe the effort the government has made in upholding Moral Studies in schools despite such strong resistance, is worthwhile.



MARISA DEMORI Via e-mail Source: The STAR Online Home Education Sunday July 15, 2012

Dearest, Your words caress me

A LONG time ago life and love came in an envelope and rested a little while in the postbox and made themselves all the more sweeter. So eager were we to touch them and to love them back.

Now, only bills, flyers and notices, of which very little or nothing is pretty, and which in totality makes for much travesty (i.e. to the environment), take their place in the space. I do not desire nor detest them, but come they must, for such things are needed by commerce and the administrators of our life.

It must be obvious, but is it not? It is the letter written by the kindred spirit that I miss, the other documents are just -- things.



As good as a love song.

This letter spoke of friendship and fondness, of troubles and triumphs, of happiness and heartaches. Much thought, and heart, did go into the words that danced so elegantly with little twists and turns on the single-lined sheet. I knew this to be true because I felt and breathed them.

It could have been from a pen-pal, an aunt, uncle or girlfriend. Even a teacher. For me, it was all of them. They wrote to me, and I, with great pleasure, to them.

Here is a doggerel from me that went to a faraway fair maid in one such aerogramme.

Are you to be seen only in words?

Can not a photo be mine to keep?

Hah! The masters were incomparably and infinitely better. Churchill married Clementine in 1908, and in 1935 wrote to her what a woman must want to hear from her man. If only I had an ounce of his wit.

Thus he went: "My darling Clemmie, in your letter from Madras you wrote some words very dear to me, about having enriched your life. I cannot tell you what pleasure this gave me, because I always feel so overwhelmingly in your debt, if there can be accounts in love... What it has been to me to live all these years in your heart and companionship no phrases can convey."

Such is the enchantment of the letter of the heart. But greater than charm was at work in the life of the great theologian, Paul, whose epistles bristle with affection and not a small bit of righteous anger. Many did he write, and much did he convey, and more still does he change. With tender words like "Your lives are a letter written in our hearts", we cannot be surprised.

The great souls, whose numbers are too few among us, surely did not write to those whom they cared for in delightful and delicious prose to gain fame. They were so unlike my beloved Calvin, who told Hobbes what may be the big dreams of many little men: "As a genius, it's important that I write a lot of letters. After all, my correspondence will be the basic resource material for historians to reconstruct my life. My writing will provide countless fascinating insights for biographers."

But dear Calvin, the spring of the handwritten letter is long gone. Its fragrant words and little winks and telling warmth are passing into winter, where the telegram now lies shrivelled and silent.

The usurpers, the modern masters of the day -- SMS, email, Twitter, Facebook and whatnot -- are fast and fantastic.

I am in all of them but they are not in me. And for one who wanders in two worlds, unwillingly and many times unhappily, I cannot imagine them producing wonderful and beautiful insights into the heart of man or woman. For the reader or for posterity.

For the electronic words are too many, and too lacking, and too fast. They come and go swifter than the moon allows the tides, than what is natural. Old minds such as mine can scarce feel or comprehend anything in them.

And will we keep our emails, anyway? Will we remember to return to one such gem many years later, to dust the surface and to see what dwells within? Will that even be possible?

That's why I prefer to hold on to the letters, still crisp and clean, sent to me by friends and maids. In the twilight of my days, which I consider to be anytime between now and death, I shall look at them as often as possible. For they are not binary 1s and 0s, but full of life and love.



By David Christy | davidchristy@nstp.com.my Source:  New Straits Times Columnist - Dearest, Your words caress me - 15 July 2012

Treasure Salleh Omar's ideas on education

AS the country is engaged in welcoming ideas for educational reform, we should also search for robust reform ideas from those who are no more. Salleh Omar is a poignant example of an educational thought leader.

Salleh trained at the Language Institute, beginning 1973 and specialising in English Language-History.

As their lecturer, the writer encouraged his cohort to be the best teacher educators they could be and to go on to any other fields they regarded as their calling, if teaching was their calling. Every member of that cohort excelled in their respective education or other fields.

Both Salleh and his wife went on to do Law. Salleh worked for various periods in University Malaya, Kuala Lumpur City Hall, and Utusan Melayu.

But he realised that his calling was the teaching profession, to which he returned. His last few years were as lecturer in Universiti Teknologi Mara, University Tun Abdul Razak and Universiti Malaysia Terengganu. The core of Salleh's educational idea rests on reading literacy and other relevant and advanced literacies.

He related the past and the present, the ideas of ancient and contemporary scholars, global and local perspectives, the wisdom of the sages and the wisdom of the people.

For instance, an old man in a mosque, seeing the lack of civility to the point of rudeness even when dealing with religion says, "How can there be the real practice of religion when there is no adab (civility) in religious dialogue and practices."

Also, Salleh quoted an elder: "In the past people learned religion from religious scholars, now there is a tendency to learn the fundamentals and the profound matters of religion from politicians who are not religious scholars".

Salleh Omar was critical of what he perceived to be the deteriorating standards of education as well as the diminishing culture of caring in the country. Instead of blaming others, he took constructive actions to improve the situation whenever he could. With the help of education officials and the support of parents, hundreds of students have benefited from various programmes he initiated and the contributions he made selflessly.

On July 11, I was told of the passing away of Salleh at the Kubang Krian Hospital and the burial which was to be in Dungun at about 9pm. With my family, I drove from Kuala Lumpur to Dungun to the late Salleh's house to pay the last respects to the family.

Then, with the eldest son we went to the graveyard to pay the last respects to Salleh. It was a first experience to be at the graveyard at midnight when prayers were offered for someone so dear.

I was with him as he trained to be an educator, and as he developed to be an exemplary teacher. I was with him during the transitions of his career. I went for his wedding and his children's weddings. Now, we were at his funeral.

Two months ago, after checking with my secretary regarding my schedule, he came into my class at about 10pm. We engaged in impromptu collaborative teaching. It was a high-energy class because of his unique contributions. We engaged in great conversation into the wee hours of the morning.

On reflection, I realised the reason for the urgency of his wanting to meet: to reminisce and again share a last class together. He knew he had a terminal illness.

At the individual level, in the midst of our business we should make time to treasure those who are with us. At the community level, we should be supportive of those in our midst who reach out to contribute.

At the national and governmental level, there should be positive seeking out of those who have ideas for contributions to change and reform, and, to celebrate their ideas.

The story of Salleh is repeated everywhere in the sacred and noble relationship between teachers and students.

Salleh Omar had important ideas for professional practices and for policy reforms which he documented and wanted to share. His ideas should be seriously assessed, addressed, acknowledged and appropriately recognised.

His robust ideas are encapsulated in his passion for the Coach-a-Coach Programme and for Terra Baca. His Terra Baca Programme has been tried, tested and proven to be effective.

His ideas are not just for students beginning reading or remedial programmes but also for teachers -- including in-service programmes for literacy enhancement, advancement plan. A national system must have a way of retrieving such ideas and crediting the formulators, originators and owners.



Writer is a deputy vice-chancellor, INTI Laureate International University

By Datuk Dr Ibrahim Ahmad Bajunid | iabaiw@yahoo.com
Source:
New Straits Times - Columnist - Treasure Salleh Omar's ideas on education - - 13 July 2012

Glimpses of the real 'us'

PERHAPS many of you have never heard of these ethnic groups in Sarawak and Sabah -- Kejaman, Berawan, Tatau, Punan Kakus, Dusun Bonggi, Lundaweh and Bisaya. In the peninsula, among the Malay diaspora, groups like Rawa, Ponorogo and Jawi Peranakan are little known. It proves a point: we know very little about "the big Malaysian family".

More importantly, these diverse groups represent the real "Us". We are unique and multicultural and multireligious. Perhaps when the term "plural society" was coined to exhibit the combination of ethnic contrasts living within a particular space, it fitted the Malaysian scenario.

The study of ethnic groups and ethnicity has always been the territory of anthropologists. In the case of Berita Harian, a group of dedicated writers, journalists, researchers and photographers are introducing the ethnic groups to readers.



‘Misteri Etnik Malaysia’ is a compilation of ‘Berita Harian’ articles.

Berita Harian started its Misteri Etnik (Ethnic Mysteries) in 2010. Each series was published on the first Sunday of every month for the full week. It was hugely popular. Journalists Azrul Affandi Sobri, Mohammad Azis Ngah and the late Mohamad Muda spent many days with the ethnic groups featured, so, too, a team of photo-journalists. It wasn't an easy task and certainly not for the weak-hearted. The first volume, Misteri Etnik Malaysia, consisting of the first 12 series has just been published.

In the preface, Datuk Seri Najib Razak commended the effort for Malaysians are only aware of the dominant or major races, conveniently ignoring the existence of many minority groups. Distinguished Professor Shamsul Amri Baharuddin, who was the founding director of UM's Institute of Ethnic Studies (Kita), believed such an undertaking benefited some 20,000 students taking the ethnic relations course at the universities. According to him, Berita Harian's initiative is a milestone in better understanding the country's ethnic groups.

Each ethnic group is systematically introduced, providing the historical background, myths and legends associated with the people, their economic mainstay, beliefs and religion, social norms, even traditional medicine, their rituals, performing arts and sculpture. Take the case of the Kejaman. Kejam in Bahasa Malaysia means "brutal", the fact there is such an ethnic group called "Kejaman" in the Belaga district in Sarawak is a mystery even to Sarawakians. They are certainly not brutal or violent, but a peace-loving people whose lives have not changed much in their enclave. An ancient klirieng (literally a "standing grave") is testimony to their comradeship.

There are many such markers in the book involving artefacts and totems of traditions and beliefs, manifestations of arts, religion and customs and myths and legends that defy rationality and objectivity. But these are part and parcel of their identity contestation.

Take the case of Jawi Peranakan, a significant ethnic group yet little understood in Penang. Most people tend to categorise them as mamak, which they are not. In fact, they like to believe they are neither Malay nor Indian. They are a sub-group from the mixed marriages between Malays and Indian Muslims, Punjabis, Arabs and Bengalis. They believe they have their own identity compared with the mamak or the Malays.

They have played a significant role economically since the 18th century. With their financial might they were the first ethnic group who came out with a newspaper in Malay, interestingly named Jawi Peranakan, published in 1876. The first newspaper fully owned, funded and managed by Malays, Utusan Melayu, came out only 63 years later in Singapore.

Among people of Javanese descent, the Ponorogo are probably the most protective of their culture. Many of them congregated in Batu Pahat and Muar in Johor. They came from the Javanese heartland, the town of Ponorogo in Java, not too far from Jogjakarta. They brought with them wayang reog (adapted as ketoprak), wayang geduk, wayang wong, kuda kepang and wayang kulit, so, too, many of the elaborate rituals. When the people of Ponorogo questioned the legitimacy of ketoprak as their own, they were baffled. Ketoprak is as much theirs as those in Ponorogo.

It is uncertain whether these ethnic groups can retain their culture and identity. For those in the hinterlands, logging and agricultural activities are causing havoc to their livelihoods. In other cases, religiosity is taking a toll on some of the rituals. In urban areas, mixed marriages are changing the racial landscape. But more importantly advancement and modernisation are reshaping their value systems and ways of life.

Only time will tell if the 120 or so ethnic groups in Malaysia can withstand the pressure for change. Whatever happens, the book has documented their proud history and tradition and the trials and challenges in facing the new world.


By Johan Jaaffar | zulu.jj@hotmail.com | Twitter: @Johan_Jaaffar  Source: New Straits Times - Columnist - Glimpses of the real 'us' 14 July 2012

PBS gains with return to Barisan

A DECADE after it rejoined the Barisan Nasional (BN), Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) can look back with a sense of satisfaction that it made the right decision.

Known for being vocal to the extent of being branded as confrontational and parochial when raising issues involving the state, the party's decision to return to the BN's fold did not come easy. It had to consider the feelings and sentiments of its supporters who appeared content with the party's vocal stance, although such an approach proved fruitless.


In fact, the PBS had endeared itself to the people because it was vociferous. Formed 27 years ago, the PBS, which was in power in Sabah from 1985 to 1994, ditched the BN on the eve of the 1990 general election.



Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan (second from left) and his party, who have discovered the benefits of harmony within the state Barisan Nasional led by Datuk Seri Musa Aman (left), with other BN component leaders at the PBS Hari Raya Aidilfitri open house last year.

Although the PBS successfully won the state election in 1994 albeit with a simple majority, barely two months later it had to surrender power to the BN after several of its assemblymen joined Umno.

The next eight years before its return to the BN family in 2002 made the party realise that it had to change its approach when presenting its case to the Federal Government on issues pertaining to the interest of the state and the people. The party had come to accept that being vocal does not necessarily bring the desired results. In fact, such a stance had only led to animosity and given rise to suspicion, to the detriment of the party.

It was time the party embraced a new approach, hence the decision to re-apply to join the BN in 2002.

With it back in the BN, it adopted what it calls the 3C (consultation, communication and cooperation) approach.

"The 3C approach has proven to be more effective in getting ourselves heard," said PBS vice-president Datuk Radin Malleh, who credits party president Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan for the decision to rejoin BN.

Among the latest positive results arising from PBS' return to the BN is the federal government's approval for the setting up of the Kadazan-Dusun-Murut (KDM) College in Pairin's hometown of Tambunan. The launching of the KDM College by Datuk Seri Najib Razak, indicated the cordial ties between the KDM community and the prime minister.

Another notable struggle of the PBS that has come to fruition was the declaration of Sept 16, the day Malaysia was formed, as a national public holiday by the federal government. But despite the many positive things that have come following the PBS re-entry into the BN, some continue to hurl unwarranted negative remarks against the party.

Among them is the perception that the party has become "toothless" and that it no longer dared to speak up for the people.

"The people should know by now that we have achieved much more of what we have been fighting for by adopting the 3C approach.
"Being vocal does not necessarily yield the results we want," Malleh said.

With the 13th general election expected to be called soon, the people of Sabah will have a choice between embracing the PBS' 3C approach which has obviously borne results or the politics of hate propagated by the opposition, particularly the State Reform Party helmed by Pairin's political nomad brother Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan.

The people should not allow themselves to fall into the trap of the opposition who are fond of playing up emotions to garner support and sympathy.



By Joniston Bangkuai | jon@nst.com.my Source: New Straits Times- Columnist - PBS gains with return to Barisan 14 July 2012

English Proficiency: Make 'role models' in ministry sit the test first

I WAS delighted to read the letter by Lim Bee Hoon "Blanket assessment an insult" (NST, July 4).

I must say that it is hard to get an honest, dedicated and committed head of a school to express his or her frank opinion to the public.

The majority of headmasters and headmistresses are either good at pleasing their superiors or prefer to keep quiet for fear of being victimised.

Teachers have definitely lost their pride due to the haphazard planning and idiosyncrasies of some education officers, whether at the district, state or ministry level.

A very good example would be the sudden reversal of the policy on the teaching of Mathematics and Science in English, after millions of ringgit had been spent on it.

If the education ministry is serious about maintaining and uplifting the standard of English among ministry employees, I propose that the test should start off with excellent teachers in schools, education officers at the district education offices, and officials at the state education departments and the ministry.

This is because these groups of officers are supposed to be the role model for teachers.

Otherwise the selection process of these so-called role models of the ministry would definitely be questionable.

How can we force ordinary teachers to take the test when they are supposed to be average or mediocre teachers while the role models are being spared.

If the ministry really wants to start off the "English Proficiency Test", by all means please start off with those officers who are supposed to be the role model for teachers.

As a retired teacher, I hope my suggestion would be considered by the ministry.


By W.K.C., Segamat, Johor Source:  New Straits Times Letters to the Editor Make 'role models' in ministry sit the test first -  13 July 2012