By Rita Sim | firstname.lastname@example.org Source
By Rita Sim | email@example.com Source
IT is common for organisations to react to issues and problems by introducing new rules or making existing ones more complicated.
By Datuk Saw Choo Boon
SEALED AND DELIVERED: Sarawak chief minister can safely assume that the opposition won't be able to make inroads in the state
By John Teo | firstname.lastname@example.org
By Datuk Dr Ananda Kumaraseri | email@example.com
By JOHAN JAAFFAR | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter @Johan_Jaaffar Source:
EDUCATION is the most valuable asset in one's life. In my opinion, no cost is too high when it comes to education. After all, education leads to the birth of innovation and gives rise to a society that is intellectual and enlightened.
GRAND, colourful, extravagant. That sums up the 2012 London Olympics. The Olympics saw the best of us.
THE 30th Olympic Games has come to an end in London. The opening and closing ceremonies were spectacular. More than 10,000 athletes from 204 nations competed in 300 events in 26 sports, showcasing the high standard of human talent and skills.
Apart from E. Premkumar, there have been many teenagers who committed suicide after such exam results.
We must put a stop to this. We must stop pouring scorn on low achievers.
No doubt getting 10As is good and this bodes well for a wider path in education.
But scoring 10As is not everything. Possessing skills and abilities is equally important.
Thus, while advising children to study hard and pass exams, we must also tell them that life is about a balance between doing well at exams and having other skills.
Life is wider than the sphere of exams.
To counter this, we can tell children that they need not only earn respect by scoring many As in SPM, but also by being more skilful than the rest.
There are many things they can excel in, for example, as tailors and cooks. Therefore, there are other things than scoring As.
Another measure of life is success. But success can come from other arenas and skills developed from discipline. Thus, life and success are subject to a person's discipline, not just good scores in exams.
As such, self-discipline should be developed at home.
We should explain to children that a good life can also stem from self-knowledge. Hence, we first have to recognise children's likes and wants, and later, their goals and values.
Appreciating their values and wants will likely produce confident teenagers. Confidence allows them to withstand setbacks in life, such as dismal SPM results. Encourage children to jot down their ambitions and plans. No matter how childish the dreams look, show that we appreciate them.
Likewise, make children see the wisdom of improving themselves. They do not have to compete against their peers. Many teenagers, especially those who are hooked on Facebook, compare themselves to others. Excessive comparison may result in low-self esteem.
In the larger picture, the upbringing of young citizens differs from nation to nation. It is subject to a nation's culture and development. In a poor nation, bringing up children could be about fleeing poverty.
But in a rich country, bringing up children is more complicated. So our task is tougher as we are an almost developed nation.
The state of the economy also influences the way we bring up children and it differs from decade to decade. For example, in the 1970s, it was about preparing children to step out of poverty. Now, 40 years later, the aim is to turn them into people with character.
Character will show up in a person who can mix well. There is no point of scoring 10 As if one cannot socialise with others.
Thus, a person who does badly in exams but can socialise well, speak confidently and is rich with ideas, has an equal chance at success.
A person who can work in a group has a good chance of succeeding because we need to work in teams.
To be in a group, one has to project patience and tolerance. Also, we must teach children to be respectful and confident.
Many successful men and women, who had contributed to society, were not multiple A scorers.
They were mediocre, some even dropouts, but they were hardworking, confident and positively different.
Tan Sri P. Ramlee didn't attend any music school but he composed songs and directed films successfully. Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson dropped out of high school and Bill Gates quit in his first year at Harvard University.
These talented people, who beyond the grasp and understanding of the common person, succeeded in their enterprises to earn respect.
Children can learn from those around them, so parents can take them to see how the disadvantaged and deprived live. Awareness of this will add to their character.
Parents must instil the message in them that to succeed in life, one must be disciplined first.
We do not want to see more teenagers dying because they fared badly in exams. Stop putting them in perpetual fear of failing. Life is wider than the sphere of exams.
Perhaps we can learn from the wisdom of this proverb: if a man does only what is required of him, he is a slave, but if a man does more than what is required of him, he is a free man.
Source: New Straits Times Letters to the Editors 27 March 2012
I’M greatly heartened by the Prime Minister’s call to include English Literature in the school curriculum.
Being a firm believer in the adage “Reading maketh a man” and a long-time advocate of English language and literature, I truly hope that the Education Blueprint, which will be revealed shortly, will confirm the (re)introduction of literature as a component of the English curriculum.
To allay the fears of students, teachers and parents who think that English Literature comprises only the classics of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Dickens, Wordsworth and Lawrence, perhaps what needs to be clarified is that the field is much wider than just these well-known authors, poets and playwrights.
Perhaps “Literature in English” or “Readings in English” are better terms to use, as they can be extended to include all kinds of writings in English be they by British, American, African, Chinese or Commonwealth authors and poets.
There are many commendable works by writers and poets who are not British or Americans, including those from India and Malaysia.
Both classics and contemporary works can be included as well as the more modern genres like newspaper reports and feature articles.
Both complete works or abridged editions can be used depending on the language proficiency of the students and the teachers who teach them.
What needs to be systematically done is to list and categorise the works in terms of their themes, subject matter and levels of linguistic complexity.
Schools can be given a choice as to which novel, play or collection of poems and articles they prefer. At the lowest levels, fairy tales and Enid Blyton can be part of the collection.
I would like to suggest that rather than introduce Literature/Readings in English as a stand-alone subject, it should be incorporated into the greater English Language curriculum.
A practical approach would be to add two extra periods where teachers and students are exposed to a variety of narratives, writing styles and genres using a wide range of vocabulary.
Classroom methodology can include reading aloud, pronunciation drills, dictation, role play, writing summaries and book reports, identifying quotations and interesting idioms and turns of phrase.
Films and recordings can be presented to motivate both the teachers and students and sustain their interest.
Assessment of learning can be in the form of individual or group projects and/or answering subjective questions in the relevant section of the English Language test/examination paper.
Without being utterly boring and harping on the good old days when people of my generation learned and loved the English Language through English Literature, I would like to assert that any extra reading especially of good writings, will only enhance one’s capacity to use the language well and to communicate effectively whether passively (in reading and listening) or actively (in writing and speaking).
HALIMAH MOHD SAID Kuala Lumpur Source: The STAR Online Home News Opinion Saturday 25 August 2012
YOUR wedding day is meant to be the day of your dreams. The reality of it all, however, is that it's probably going to be the most expensive day of your life as well!
The cost of a typical Malaysian wedding could range anywhere from RM10,000 to RM500,000, although some can even creep into the millions.
While most people tend to go all-out when it comes to their wedding costs, that doesn't mean one can't practise some frugal spending habits.
Here are some pointers to help you avoid triggering alarm bells - when you're expecting wedding ones.
Avoid auspicious dates
It's quite common for certain cultures, such as the Indian and Chinese cultures, to select auspicious dates for weddings. Places where wedding receptions are commonly held, such as hotels and restaurants, tend to jack-up prices during these times to maximise profits.
“Over the past decade, it's become a popular trend to marry on dates when the digits of the day, month and year of the calendar tally,” says Gregory Lam, a Kuala Lumpur-based wedding planner.
“Dates such as July 7, 2007 (7-7-07) or Aug 8, 2008 (8-8-08) became auspicious days for mass weddings. Each year, this trend is growing, and so are the hotel and restaurant bills,” he quips.
Melissa Ram, who's been married for over three years, says her husband and her chose a date that was “outside the peak period.”
“We avoided the peak season for weddings which usually takes place towards the last two months of the year or on special auspicious dates. Instead, we chose a date somewhere in the middle of the year,” she says.
Akashdeep Singh, who was married in 2010, chose to have his wedding at a community hall.
“We chose a location that was not only cheap, but it was also simple and easy to get to,” he says.
Lam, meanwhile, advises would-be couples to explore their options and compare rates if they want to have their wedding reception at a hotel.
“Sometimes, the not-so-popular hotels can still be posh and look grand but at the same time, offer good rates. You just need to do your research.”
Melissa says having your wedding beyond the city centre can be a cheaper option.
“The hotel we chose was in the outskirts of the city as opposed to having it in the city centre.”
Limit the wedding list
Cutting down the number of people at your wedding is easily one of the best ways to cut down cost, says Gowri Arumainathan, who was married in 2009.
“It's definitely a cost effective way to just keep your wedding small and sweet,” she says.
Melissa, however, believes that “trimming the invitation list” is a task that's easier said than done.
“Limiting the number of guest is one of the toughest tasks of anyone's wedding. You would have to allocate invites to both sides of the family, extended family members and sometimes, their extended families!”
Melissa says her husband and she prepared their guest invitation list some six to nine months ahead of their wedding in an effort to “keep things within their budget.”
“Once you have the final figures, only then can you decide on the venue and whether it can accommodate your guests. It is not an easy task as in our Asian culture, you may offend some individuals if you don't invite.”
In an effort to cut cost, it's not surprising to find many couples doing most of the preparations themselves rather then to outsource it to an expert, like a wedding planner.
“We came up with the concept and design of the wedding card and that helped to cut cost,” says Gowri.
“We researched a lot on the Internet and came up with a design that suit our wedding-colour theme. Many visits to the printers made sure that he got things just right. We didn't use a wedding planner at all,” she adds.
Melissa also says that she did not seek help from a wedding planner.
“We reused a lot of items from the wedding for the reception as well, like the projector for our slide show, which was provided complimentary by the temple management,” she says, adding that having friends that can help out was a bonus.
Akashdeep says he had two “videographer friends” to help out at his wedding.
“They were attending our wedding anyway so it was only natural to ask them to do the video.”
For her wedding, Melissa says the decorations were “kept to a minimum.”
“We kept it to a minimum as flowers do cost a lot. For the ceremonial event, we got our traditional garlands and corsages directly from the wholesaler. For table decorations at the hotel, we just took the standard decor (that the hotel) provided instead of having anything specially made.
“In terms of photography we took a package which had the pre-wedding photos, wedding day photos and videography, which works out to be cheaper.”
Borrow or rent
It's cheaper to rent or borrow an item if you're only going to use it once.
“Of course, to cut cost further, you can also elect to use any of the gowns provided by the photo studio which does your bridal photography, which is offered to you at no cost at all,” says Melissa.
Akashdeep says that for his wedding, he borrowed his brother's traditional shoes while his wife rented jewellery.
“There's a business of renting out these kind of things and it's a cheaper alternative,” he says.
Limit the alcohol (not for Muslims)
In non-Muslim cultures especially, a wedding is often an occasion to get together, drink, rejoice and have more drinks!
Cutting down on the alcohol might tone down the mood a bit, but it would help to reduce cost.
“Bring your own drinks! Buying your own alcohol helped in cutting the cost,” says Gowri.
“We just had to haggle with the hotel sales representative to subsidise the corkage for the alcohol. However, this will only make a difference if your reception included alcohol,” she adds.
Melissa, meanwhile, says that for her wedding reception, it was decided that only wine and beer was provided.
“We did not provide hard liquor as a means to cut cost,” she says.
By EUGENE MAHALINGAM email@example.com Source: The STAR Online Home Business News Saturday August 25, 2012
What prompted you to write Search Inside Yourself (published in April)?
In 2007, my team and I launched an experimental, cutting-edge emotional intelligence curriculum in Google called Search Inside Yourself. The main innovation was to develop emotional intelligence by training the mind. It became very successful. Many students tell us the training changed their lives. Search Inside Yourself soon became very popular. In order to offer the course to more people, I had to train more teachers, so I started writing down in detail the contents and practices we were teaching. As I was writing detailed notes, I quickly realised I was actually writing a book, so I turned it into a book project.
The motivation behind the creation of Search Inside Yourself (the curriculum) is to create the conditions for world peace. I feel that if we have inner peace, inner joy and compassion on a global scale, it will create the conditions that lead to world peace. In order to do that, I feel we need to align those qualities with success of individuals and companies. In other words, if we can help people and companies succeed in a way that inner peace, inner joy and compassion are the necessary and unavoidable side effects, then those three qualities will spread. And I feel the way to achieve that is with an effective curriculum for emotional intelligence for adults. That is why I gathered a team of experts to create that curriculum in Google.
Author of Search Inside Yourself answers ....
Hence, you can say that the ultimate reason for writing the book is to create the conditions for world peace.
Are you someone who needs to go through the writing process which can be a painstaking one for some in order to bring clarity to your emotions?
The writing process itself was fairly easy for me. I wrote the entire book in just 14 weeks. I was already very familiar with the content, so it flowed easily; the hard part was trying to make every page fun to read. I didn't just want to write a beneficial book, I wanted first and foremost to write a book so fun to read that even a very busy person like me would want to read it. To achieve that, I found it very useful to maintain a calm and joyful mind during the writing process. Happily, that gave me a lot of opportunities to practice what I teach in the book.
There are heaps of books written about the importance of emotional intelligence. How is Search Inside Yourself set apart from all of them?
Some books talk about emotional intelligence but do not describe how to become emotionally intelligent. Other books I know of only give behavioural advice, which means they try to tell you how to behave in certain situations. Search Inside Yourself takes an entirely different approach, by showing you how to train mental and emotional competencies.
For example, it does not tell you how to react in an emotionally difficult situation, but it shows you how to train yourself to become calm and collected in an emotionally difficult situation so you can think clearly and choose for yourself how you want to respond. I think this emphasis on developing core emotional skills is the main feature of Search Inside Yourself.
In addition, Search Inside Yourself has a strong scientific foundation, its methods are already shown to be effective in a work setting (in Google, no less), and it is taught in a highly accessible language.
That is why the book is endorsed by former President Jimmy Carter of the United States, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, executive chairman Eric Schmidt of Google, and many other top political, spiritual and business leaders. I do not know of many books endorsed by so many top leaders.
You described your childhood as “very unhappy”. At what age and under what circumstances was this sense of unhappiness replaced by a sense of balance and finally, a happier sense of well-being?
Everything started changing in 1991, the year I turned 21. That year, I began learning various forms of meditation, the most important of which was Mindfulness Meditation, which may be the single most important thing I have learned in my life.
Meditation is really just mental training. It is a lot like exercise. Exercise is physical training and if you exercise a lot, eventually you will be healthy and fit, and your dominant physical experience may be a profound sense of wellness. Similarly, meditation is training for heart and mind. If you meditate a lot, the mind becomes calm and happy, and your dominant mental and emotional experience may also be a profound sense of wellness.
A few years ago, I reflected on this experience and it occurred to me how profound the shift has been for me. Before 1991, if nothing good or bad happens, I was very unhappy. By 2001, if nothing good or bad happens, I was very happy. In other words, my “baseline” happiness shifted profoundly. That reflection motivated me to bring meditation to my friends in Google.
Would you say religion and you being a Buddhist since 1991 has contributed largely to your mind set and overall positive outlook?
No, I would not say so. It was not religion that had that big impact on me, it was spirituality. There is a big difference. Religion is the belief in one or more gods. In contrast, spirituality is about looking within, and by looking within, going beyond self. It is important to recognise that they are qualitatively distinct. The most important implication is that even though not all people are religious, everybody can be spiritual.
The biggest change for me occurred when I looked deeply within and discovered a calm mind to be a joyful mind. Just as importantly, I discovered kindness (both towards oneself and others) to be a sustainable source of happiness. I think these insights can be beneficial to everybody.
You mention that one needs to have a deep sense of self-knowledge and self-honesty in order to sustain self-confidence. There are many confident people some of them top corporate figures who seem to lack self-awareness and self-honesty. How do you account for that?
In my experience, people without strong self-knowledge and self-honesty may also exhibit a lot of self-confidence, but there is one major limitation: Their self-confidence is contingent on things going well for them. When things start going badly for them, they become overwhelmed with self-doubt and often engage in destructive behaviours.
There is a simple reason: failure forces you to confront unpleasant truths about yourself. In general, failure is a nasty experience, of course, but if in the midst of failure, you are also forced to confront the unpleasant facets of yourself that you previously tried to hide from, the experience is made much more difficult.
In contrast, if your self-confidence is built upon self-knowledge and self-honesty, while failure is still nasty, you don't get to go through the extra jarring surprise of having to confront your unpleasant facets.
Instead, you are already comfortable with your weaknesses and you already know your inner resources quite well, so you can quickly and calmly compensate for your weaknesses and utilise your inner resources. Hence, you can recover more quickly.
In other words, the type of confidence based on self-knowledge and self-honesty is far more sustainable.
What are the three most important lessons you would like to impart to your 12-year-old daughter and why?
1. Be healthy by learning to take care of the body.
2. Be happy by learning to take care of the mind.
3. Be compassionate by learning to take care of others.
I cannot think of anything more important than health, happiness and compassion.
What are the three most important lessons your parents taught you about life and survival?
1. Be good to people. Always care about people's feelings.
2. Don't compromise on your morals. Be brave about doing the right thing.
3. Always do your very best and never stop learning.
What has the Western world taught you about yourself and raising a family there?
Living in the West has taught me that the East and West can each benefit hugely by learning from each other. Just take Buddhism, for example, a subject I'm familiar with.
Buddhism developed mental understanding and training to such an advanced degree it was vastly ahead of anything available in the West, so a lot of my Western friends benefited tremendously from learning Buddhist insights and training.
However, it turned out that the benefit was not just flowing one way. When the West learned Buddhism, they also made it a subject of scientific enquiry and applied it to diverse fields like conflict resolution and mental healthcare. Through their efforts, they made Buddhism vastly more understandable and accessible that anything I have seen in the East. So everybody on both sides benefits.
This is just one example I'm familiar with, I'm sure there are many others. Hence, I want to encourage all my friends, both my Eastern and Western friends, to not be afraid to learn from each other.
About raising a family. What I really like about living in the West is the different way in which they express their love for their children. In the East, the way parents express love for kids is by doing whatever it takes to make them achieve good grades in school. The theory being that if they do well in school, they will do well in life and be happy. The downside is kids are under a lot of pressure. In the West, they have a different idea of good parenting and so parents don't put the same type of pressure on their kids.
Personally, I think that there are only three important things for my child: that she grows up to be a healthy adult, a happy adult, and a compassionate adult. That is all. If she does that, I consider myself a successful parent, even if she makes minimum wage. If not, I consider myself a failed parent, even if she becomes a multi-billionaire entrepreneur who conducts the symphony orchestra in her spare time after finishing her second term as President of the United States.
Hence, I like the Western model of parenting a lot more, there is a lot more laughter and affection, and a lot less pressure on the kids.
How and what is your measure of success?
Warren Buffett said, “Basically, when you get to my age, you'll measure your success in life by how many of the people you want to love you actually do love you. If you get to my age in life and nobody thinks well of you, I don't care how big your bank balance is, your life is a disaster.”
I'm adopting that as my own measure of success until I find a better one.
Source: The STAR Online Home Business news Saturday August 25, 2012