March 17th, 2013

Terpikat sebab Nazary berkepala botak

KEBIASAANNYA, seorang wanita jatuh cinta kerana terpaut dengan paras rupa jejaka yang diminatinya, selain penampilan dan kerjaya sehingga mendorong mereka mengakhirinya ke jenjang pelamin.

Namun bagi seorang pakar perunding kecantikan, Noorlilinatty Mohd. Nordin, 41, dia tertarik dengan suaminya, Nazary Ahmad, 50, Ketua Pegawai Eksekutif Melaka Taming Sari Sdn. Bhd., bukan kerana faktor rupa.

Malah katanya, dia juga bukan terpikat kerana sikap bersahaja, peramah dan pandai mengambil hati Nazary, tetapi teruja kerana suaminya berkepala botak.


"dia juga bukan terpikat kerana sikap bersahaja, peramah dan pandai mengambil hati Nazary, tetapi teruja kerana suaminya berkepala botak, pandai bermain gitar dan suka menghisap curut ..... "

Noorlilinatty atau lebih mesra dipanggil Natty berkata, dia memang tertarik dengan lelaki berkepala botak seperti pelakon terkenal Bruce Willis, Jack Nicklson dan Telly Savalas.

''Kali pertama berjumpa Nazary, memang saya teruja dengan kepalanya yang botak. Saya sendiri tidak tahu macam mana perasaan saya begitu teruja apabila melihat lelaki berkepala botak.

''Bila saya bercerita mengenai perkara itu, suami saya tergelak besar tetapi itulah hakikat sebenarnya bagaimana saya tertarik dengan suami saya," ujar Natty ketika ditemubual S2 di Taman Datuk Palembang, Bukit Baru, Melaka.

Selain itu, kata Natty, seperkara lagi yang membuatkannya tertarik dengan Nazary adalah kerana hobi suaminya gemar dan pandai memasak.

Mengimbas kembali perkenalan pasangan ini Natty berkata, sewaktu suaminya datang berjumpa emak dan ayahnya di rumah mereka di Shah Alam, Selangor, dia terkejut apabila Nazary membawa buah-buahan dan masakan asam pedas yang dimasaknya sendiri.

Ujarnya, dia pada mulanya merasa pelik. Begitu juga ibu bapanya dan mereka menyangka itu mungkin helah Nazary untuk mengambil hati keluarganya.

''Sangkaan saya silap. Sebenarnya setiap kali, dia datang ke rumah, ada sahaja masakan yang dibawanya. Antara masakan yang saya suka adalah kari kambing.

''Setelah berkahwin, setiap kali cuti hujung minggu, dia akan ke dapur dan memasak makanan yang kami sekeluarga suka," katanya.

Mengenang kembali cinta pandang pertamanya Natty berkata, mereka sebelum ini pernah berjumpa sekali atas urusan perniagaan melalui rakannya.

Natty ketika itu merupakan pakar perunding kecantikan di sebuah syarikat, selain memiliki sebuah salon di Damansara, Kuala Lumpur.

Bagaimanapun, ketika itu tidak wujud sebarang bibit cinta antara kedua-duanya sehinggalah mereka membuat temu janji di Hotel Sheraton, Subang untuk berbincang mengenai perniagaan.

Itulah kali pertama Nazary dan Natty bersemuka. Pertemuan itu sekali gus melahirkan bibit cinta di antara mereka.

''Saya langsung tak ingat bahawa kami pernah berjumpa apabila dia menghubungi saya menyatakan ingin berbincang mengenai hal perniagaan.

''Bila saya berjumpanya, hati saya terus terpaut dan berhasrat ingin menjadikan dia isteri saya," ujar Nazary yang berkelulusan Ijazah Sarjana Muda Perakaunan dari Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Shah Alam pada 1986.

Sejak itu, hubungan sebagai rakan niaga menjadi semakin serius. Setiap hari, mereka bercakap melalui telefon, pesanan khidmat ringkas (SMS), e-mel dan laman sembang Yahoo Messenger. Kesemua itu menjadi peneman di waktu mereka ingin melepaskan rindu.

Kata Nazary, untuk mereka berjumpa setiap hari amat terbatas disebabkan kesibukan tugas hakiki masing-masing.

''Saya suka berjumpa Natty di rumahnya. Saya jarang bawa dia keluar, sebaliknya di rumah ibu bapanya kami berjumpa dan menjadi tabiat saya membawa masakan yang saya masak," ujarnya.

Menurutnya, percintaan mereka begitu singkat iaitu tidak sampai setahun berkenalan, mereka mengikat tali pertunangan dan dalam masa tiga bulan, mereka melangsungkan perkahwinan.

Hasil perkahwinan tersebut, pasangan ini dikurniakan enam cahaya mata iaitu Nur Syazwani, 18, Nuryn, 16, Qistina, 15, Ahmad Matyn, 13, Nur Kamilia, 12, dan Ahmad Mukhriz, 3.

Dalam pada itu, Nazary berkata, dia amat memahami karier Natty dan walaupun sentiasa sibuk, Natty tidak pernah mengabaikan tanggungjawab sebagai isteri dan ibu kepada anak-anak mereka.

Lebih penting dalam mengekalkan keutuhan rumah tangga, kata Nazary, setiap masalah yang mereka hadapi diselesaikan dengan segera dan tidak dibawa berpanjangan kerana keadaan itu akan meruncingkan lagi hubungan mereka.

Dia mengakui dalam ikatan perkahwinan, tidak selalunya indah belaka, seperti bak kata pepatah 'bumi mana yang tidak ditimpa hujan'. Begitu juga dalam hubungan mereka, ada ketikanya berlaku perselisihan faham.

Namun katanya, setiap masalah yang timbul, mereka akan selesaikan segera secara bersemuka tanpa campur tangan keluarga kedua-dua pihak dan mereka juga memastikan masalah itu tidak berlanjutan sehingga boleh menjejaskan hubungan.

Sejurus Nazary mendapat tawaran daripada syarikat Melaka Taming Sari yang menguruskan produk pelancongan terkenal di Melaka, Menara Taming Sari pada 2008, mereka sekeluarga memulakan kehidupan baru dengan berpindah dari Kuala Lumpur ke Melaka.



Amran Mulup Utusan Malaysia Online Keluarga 16/02/2013

Menyemarak budaya fikir

Sebelum perkataan-perkataan seperti cendekiawan, ilmuwan, intelektual atau kaum intelek menjadi popular, orang Melayu menggunakan ‘bijak pandai’. ‘Bijak’, ‘bestari’, ‘pandai’, ‘cerdik’, ‘arif’ merupakan sinonim untuk menunjukkan kepandaian seseorang. Apa yang menarik, apabila orang Melayu merujuk pada perkataan ‘bijaksana’, maknanya dikaitkan dengan ‘akal budi’, bukan sekadar kepandaian semata-mata. Maka itu ‘kebijaksanaan’ merupakan kata sifat yang merujuk pada cara bagaimana ilmu dan kepandaian dikaitkan dengan akal budi tadi. Orang berilmu belum tentu bijaksana, begitulah pandangan orang Melayu.

Orang Melayu memang menghargai ilmu dan kepandaian. Lebih-lebih lagi dalam masyarakat tradisional yang rata-rata anggotanya tidak berpelajaran formal. Mereka yang dilabelkan ‘cerdik pandai’ atau ‘bijak pandai’ dalam masyarakat disanjung tinggi dan dimuliakan.

Istana memainkan peranan yang penting menyemarakkan tradisi bertulis oleh pandai kitab, pandai jawi dan pandai sirah (sejarah). Kelompok ini dipanggil ‘pujangga’ yang tugas mereka menjadi pencatat dan perakam zaman. Mereka juga menghasilkan karya bertulis yang sehingga ini menjadi warisan bangga bangsa. Kumpulan inilah yang melahirkan karya-karya seperti Sejarah Melayu, Hikayat Raja-Raja Pasai dan Sejarah Raja-Raja Melayu dan Bugis. Mereka jugalah yang memungkinkan lahirnya kitab Hukum Kanun Melaka, yang dipercayai naskhah undang-undang bertulis yang tertua di kalangan orang Melayu. Tokoh-tokoh seperti Tun Sri Lanang, Nurrudin al Raniri, Shamsuddin Al Sumatrani dan Raja Ali Haji bukan sahaja pembesar negeri tetapi juga ilmuwan semasa.

Kisah Flor de La Mar

Banyak orang yang menganggap tradisi ilmu orang Melayu bermula hanya dengan kedatangan penjajah. Mereka lupa khazanah kesusasteraan dan seni budaya Melayu yang telah berakar kukuh sejak sekian lama. Apabila Flor de La Mar, kapal Portugis yang membawa ribuan kitab-kitab Melayu ke Lisbon, Portugal tenggelam pada tahun 1511, nilai kehancuran warisan Melayu tidak boleh dibayangkan.

Malah dari kalangan orang Melayu yang tidak berpendidikan formal telah lahir khazanah kesusasteraan Melayu yang luar biasa. Tradisi oral atau lisan berkembang di tengah masyarakat ini. Mereka melahirkan cerita rakyat dan puisinya sekali. Pantun yang dianggap salah satu penghasilan besar orang Melayu lahir dari masyarakat petani dan nelayan ini. Demikian juga cerita binatang, cerita teladan, cerita penglipurlara, cerita asal usul dan lain-lain. Tidak ada pengarang dalam tradisi sastera rakyat Melayu kerana hasil karya merupakan milik bersama. Individualisme tidak wujud di kalangan mereka.

Maka itu tidak benar Abdullah Abdul Kadir Munsyi merupakan penulis pertama yang berani menegur orang Melayu. Tun Sri Lanang sudah membuat teguran tajam tapi halus terhadap raja-raja yang diriwayatkannya dalam Sejarah Melayu. Penulis kitab Hikayat Raja-Raja Pasai menegur Raja Ahmad yang berkehendak kepada puterinya sendiri dan membunuh puteranya.

Orang Melayu mempunyai sejarah tradisi fikir yang hebat, yang tidak kalah dengan kaum lainnya. Di Nusantara, bijak pandai Melayu mencorakkan sejarah ilmuwan yang hebat, melahirkan karya-karya agung dalam pelbagai genre sepanjang zaman.

Banyak daripada mereka membina kekuatan sendiri, berguru pada yang lebih pandai, menyambung lidah ilmu, menambah perbendaharaan pengetahuan hingga menjadi bijak pandai dalam ertikata yang tersendiri. Di Malaysia sendiri, sejarah kebangkitan tradisi ilmu bermula dari persuratkhabaran dan majalah Melayu. Kelompok reformis dari Kaherah misalnya pulang dengan hasrat untuk membetulkan tanggapan kuno mengenai Islam yang dibawa oleh ‘Kaum Tua’. Salah seorang tokoh pembaharuan ini, Syed Sheikh Ahmad Al Hadi bukan sahaja menggunakan penerbitan Al Imam tetapi juga karya sastera. Novel pertama dalam Bahasa Melayu, Hikayat Faridah Hanum (terbit 1925) merupakan karya beliau.

Tradisi bijak pandai tak pupus

Hari ini kita melahirkan jutaan graduan dalam pelbagai disiplin. Ada yang menyoalkan apakah benar tradisi ilmu semakin pudar akibat faham ‘bebalisme’ dan ‘angukisme’ (maaf, bukan istilah saya) di menara gading hari ini. Ada tuduhan mengatakan bahawa tradisi fikir semakin menipis kerana politik akademik yang ada kalanya lebih hebat dari politik yang sebenar. Apakah kita mampu melahirkan ilmuwan unggul berkelas dunia? Atau sekurang-kurangnya merupakan cerminan daripada tradisi kritis yang dicorakkan oleh Syed Sheikh Ahmad Al Hadi, Pendeta Za’ba, Hamka atau H.B. Jassin? Apakah akan lahir nama-nama besar dan karya besar yang dapat bertahan diuji zaman seperti yang dihasilkan oleh pujangga, ilmuwan, cendekiawan yang terdahulu?

Saya percaya jiwa akademia (sekali lagi bukan istilah saya, sebaliknya istilah Prof Dr Zaini Ujang) masih subur. Tradisi bijak pandai tidak pupus di negara ini. Ilmuwan atau cendekiawan tidak harus takut menentang arus, menjadi contrarian atau berbeza faham kerana itulah yang diharapkan daripada mereka. Di tangan merekalah lahir tradisi cerdik yang memimpin masyarakat. Mereka juga conscience sebenar masyarakat semakin dahagakan ilmu dan pengetahuan. Maka itu peranan mereka semakin penting dalam negara yang bercita-cita besar.

Ilmuwan urusannya menyemarak ilmu.


Johan Jaafar Berita Harian Online Rencana 14/03/2013

Penyakit takut angka dan takut manusia

Boleh kata semua orang sangka, pilihan raya umum (PRU) kali ini adalah yang ke-13. Tapi ada juga orang kata ke-14. Kedua-dua betul bergantung kepada bila kita mula kira.

Kalau dikira mulai Pilihan Raya Umum Majlis Perundingan Persekutuan Tanah Melayu 1955, PRU kali ini adalah yang ke-14.

Tapi ada orang tak mahu kira pilihan raya itu sebab masa itu kita tak merdeka lagi dan bukan semua ahli dewan dipilih melalui pilihan raya. Ada yang dilantik terus oleh pihak Inggeris.

PRU pertama lepas merdeka adalah pada tahun 1959. Jadi kalau kita kira mulai pilihan raya itu, maka PRU kali ini adalah yang ke-13.

Banyak mitos angka 13

Tak apalah. Sama ada ke-13 atau ke-14 tak penting sangat melainkanlah kepada orang yang percaya kepada hal karut-marut macam angka dan bilangan. Ada masyarakat dari zaman silam lagi anggap nombor 13 sebagai tak baik. Maka banyaklah mitos dan cerita dibuat mengenainya.

Dalam mitos Kristian, misalnya, jamuan makan malam terakhir Nabi Isa dihadiri 13 orang, termasuk Judas Iscariot yang dituduh belot kepada beliau. Judas Iscariot duduk di kerusi ke-13. Wallahualam.
Tapi orang Islam tak dibenarkan percaya perkara karut-marut macam nombor ramalan, tilik-menilik, fengshui, baca daun teh, jampi serapah, air mantera dan tengok nasib dalam mangkuk macam dalam filem P Ramlee. Itu kerja karut dan syirik.

Tapi ketakutan kepada bilangan 13 ini sangat luas kesannya sampai dibuat kajian saintifik dan dicipta satu istilah khas bagi sindrom takutkan angka. Ia dipanggil triskaidekaphobia. Daripada perkataan Greek tris (tiga), kai (dan), deka (10) dan phobos (ketakutan).

Banyak orang hanya ingat atau dengar berkenaan Pilihan Raya Majlis Perundingan Persekutuan 1955, tapi pilihan raya yang lebih awal daripada itu ialah Pilihan Raya Majlis Perbandaran Kuala Lumpur 1953.

Dalam pilihan raya itulah landasan kerjasama antara kaum diasaskan apabila UMNO dan MCA berpakat. Hasilnya, calon UMNO-MCA menang besar dengan merampas sembilan daripada 12 kerusi yang dipertandingkan. MCA menang enam dan UMNO tiga. Parti Kemerdekaan Malaya pimpinan Datuk Onn Jaafar dapat dua kerusi dan Bebas satu.

Dalam pilihan raya 1955, Perikatan yang gabungkan UMNO, MCA dan MIC menang 51 daripada 52 kerusi. Perikatan dapat 80 peratus daripada undi sah. Kira-kira 83 peratus pemilih keluar mengundi.

PAS menang kerusi tunggal di Krian, Perak. Wakilnya, Haji Ahmad Tuan Hussein adalah orang pertama dalam Parlimen negara kita yang dibagi gelaran ‘Mr Opposition’ atau Tuan Pembangkang.

Tapi pada tahun 1956, sokongan kepada Perikatan merosot apabila ia kalah dalam pilihan raya majlis perbandaran Pulau Pinang dan Melaka.

Dalam Pilihan Raya Umum 1959, PRU pertama sejak Persekutuan Tanah Melayu merdeka pada 1957, parti-parti pembangkang tambah cergas dan mula dapat perhatian pengundi.


Tapi pada pendapat Kunta Kintelah, bukan PRU kali ini saja hebat dan sengit. Sebenarnya boleh kata semua PRU kita hangat dan sengit walaupun ada macam-macam tuduhan dan dakwaan dibuat kononnya kita tak amalkan demokrasi dan kebebasan.

Satu hal yang Kunta Kinte rasa kita tak boleh nafi adalah hakikat orang Malaysia sangat suka kepada politik. Boleh kata semua diplomat asing dan orang luar yang datang bertugas atau bekerja di negara kita mengaku yang suasana politik Malaysia sangat ‘vibrant’ – bersemangat dan bertenaga – berlainan langsung daripada apa yang mereka dengar kononnya kita tak bebas, tak demokratik dan macam-macam tohmahan lagi.

Malah mereka hairan macam mana orang Malaysia tak berhenti-henti berpolitik. Di negara mereka, orang berpolitik hanya pada masa pilihan raya. Itu pun mereka tidaklah taksub kepada parti dan pemimpin macam banyak orang kita.

Kunta Kinte dah lama rasa dan dah banyak kali kata, kita kena buka sikit minda kita supaya tak taksub sangat kepada politik parti dan taat buta tuli kepada pemimpin politik sampai takut nak tegur dan kritik.

Kalau kita betul-betul amalkan demokrasi berparlimen dan faham tanggungjawab, kita bukan saja kena berani tegur dan kritik pemimpin malah kita wajib tegur dan kritik kalau mereka buat hal-hal yang tak betul atau mungkir janji.

Berlapang dada terima kritikan

Lagipun, pemimpin yang demokratik dan utamakan rakyat akan berlapang dada terima maklum balas, teguran dan kritikan rakyat sebab setiap empat atau lima tahun sekali mereka terpaksa balik kepada rakyat untuk minta mandat baru.

Maaf cakaplah kalau Kunta Kinte kata, Kunta Kinte tak faham macam banyak sangat orang yang taksub kepada pemimpin sampai tak berani bagi maklum balas yang negatif, takut menegur apatah lagi mengkritik pemimpin yang mereka sendiri pilih dalam pilihan raya.

Sebenarnya, kalau sayang pemimpin, kita wajib tegur dan nasihat mereka sebab kalau kita diam dan mereka terus buat kesilapan, bila datang pilihan raya mereka mungkin tewas. Jadi sebelum orang benci dan buang mereka dalam pilihan raya, kita kenalah tegur dan bagi nasihat kepada mereka. Orang yang takut kepada orang lain atau kepada masyarakat dikatakan menderita sindrom anthropophobia. Wallahualam.

E-mel ke rencanabh@bharian.com.my untuk berkongsi pendapat anda

Kunta Kinte Berita Harian Online Rencana 16/03/2013

Ubah nasib rakyat melalui pendidikan

Peruntukan besar mampu lahir modal insan jayakan pembangunan negara

Baru-baru ini, Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Najib Razak merasmikan Kampus Induk, Universiti Malaysia Perlis (UniMAP) bernilai RM720 juta. Sejak ditubuhkan sehingga tahun lalu, kerajaan memperuntukkan RM1.28 bilion kepada UniMAP bagi tujuan pengurusan dan jika dijumlahkan, universiti ini menerima pembiayaan daripada kerajaan sebanyak RM2 bilion.

Peruntukan itu adalah satu jumlah yang besar. Namun kita percaya, hasil pelaburan ini akan berlipat kali ganda kerana ia bukan sahaja melahirkan modal insan tetapi turut menjayakan proses pembangunan negara khususnya di Perlis.


Beri kesan

Saya mengakui bahawa kehadiran UniMAP sedikit sebanyak memberi kesan kepada kemajuan masyarakat setempat apabila pertumbuhan ekonomi, kadar penyertaan guna tenaga dan pembangunan perusahaan kecil dan sederhana meningkat. Ini termasuk berperanan sebagai kesan pengganda kepada pendapatan kerajaan negeri khususnya melalui kemasukan pelajar antarabangsa yang meningkatkan sektor pelancongan dan perkhidmatan.

Ternyata peranan dan sumbangan yang dapat dilaksanakan oleh universiti amat besar. Ini sememangnya bertepatan dengan hasrat Kementerian Pengajian Tinggi (KPT) untuk melihat universiti berupaya mentransformasikan komuniti. Selari dengan aspirasi ini, dalam Amanat Tahun 2013 yang lalu, saya telah meminta setiap IPTA mewujudkan Pusat Transformasi Komuniti Universiti atau University Community Transformation Centre (UCTCs) berasaskan nic masing-masing dengan menggerakkan sumber intelektual dan infrastruktur fizikal universiti untuk mentransformasikan komuniti.

Berbalik kepada soal pelaburan besar yang dilakukan oleh kerajaan dalam soal pendidikan khususnya pengajian tinggi, kita menyedari bahawa rakyat perlu mendapatkan manfaat daripadanya. Sehubungan dengan itu, adalah malang jika ada segelintir daripada rakyat Malaysia gagal mendapatkan peluang melanjutkan pengajian hanya semata-mata disebabkan oleh faktor kewangan atau terpinggir daripada arus pembangunan.

Selain melaksanakan mekanisme mod kemasukan baharu bagi isi rumah 40 peratus terendah (bottom 40% household), usaha mendemokrasikan pendidikan terus ditingkatkan melalui program Mengubah Destini Anak Bangsa. Program yang membantu golongan miskin untuk mendapatkan peluang kedua melanjutkan pengajian di peringkat pradiploma ke Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) ini dapat membantu mereka memperoleh akses ke pengajian tinggi. Melalui program itu 10,000 tempat diperuntukkan bagi golongan miskin di kalangan kaum Melayu setiap tahun.

Melihat kepada kejayaan program ini, penyertaan telah dibuka kepada kumpulan masyarakat lain iaitu Orang Asli dan anak kaum India yang miskin dalam negara. Program khas yang dilancarkan oleh Perdana Menteri baru-baru ini bertujuan meningkatkan lagi akses kumpulan sasaran ke IPTA iaitu pengambilan seramai 1,600 pelajar kaum India ke Politeknik dan 1,000 pelajar Orang Asli ke UiTM setiap tahun. Bagi menjayakan hasrat murni ini, sebanyak RM2 juta diperuntukkan bagi setiap program mengubah destini anak bangsa ini.

Tingkat keupayaan

Saya percaya, usaha murni ini bukan sahaja akan meningkatkan keupayaan kumpulan sasaran dalam akses ke institusi pengajian tinggi, tetapi memberikan mereka keadilan sosial agar berdiri sama tinggi dan duduk sama rendah dengan komuniti lain.

Inilah sebenarnya roh dan inti pati semangat 1Malaysia yang sentiasa mendahulukan rakyat dalam apa jua aspek khususnya pendidikan yang memberikan mereka masa depan yang lebih cerah. Malaysia yang maju dan berpendapatan tinggi akan hilang maknanya, jika masih ada rakyat yang dibelenggu kemiskinan akibat taraf pendidikan yang rendah sehingga tidak mampu mengubah nasib serta destini mereka. Saya percaya, hanya pendidikan boleh mengubah nasib rakyat dan akhirnya destini Malaysia menjadi negara maju berpendapatan tinggi.

Telah banyak usaha kerajaan merakyatkan ilmu melalui proses pendemokrasian pendidikan untuk semua lapisan masyarakat tanpa mengira latar belakang mereka. Kini, terpulang kepada rakyat untuk mengambil manfaat atas segala kemudahan yang diberikan kerajaan. Saya yakin, mereka akan mengambil peluang ini dan akhirnya menjadi modal insan yang dapat menyumbang dalam proses pembangunan, kemajuan dan transformasi Malaysia, negara yang kita cintai. Insya-Allah.


Khaled Nordin ialah Menteri Pengajian Tinggi Malaysia Berita Harian Online Rencana Pendidikan 16/03/2013

Barisan Nasional mesti bijak adun strategi

Pola politik berbeza perlu diambil kira

Landskap politik berubah ekoran anjakan politik daripada politik lama kepada baru. Politik lama banyak ditentukan oleh sejauh mana parti politik dan calon dapat membawa pembangunan. Namun, dalam politik baru, pembangunan bukan lampu ajaib untuk menawan pengundi. Pengundian dalam politik lama berlaku atas garis etnik, tetapi politik baru merentasi sempadan etnik. Ramai pihak beranggapan politik baru muncul dalam Pilihan Raya Umum Ke-12 (PRU-12) di Malaysia.

Hakikatnya, benih awal politik baru menjelma sejak PRU-1999 ketika negara dilanda kegawatan ekonomi dan politik. Negara kita sudah banyak berubah terutama sejak 15 tahun lalu. Struktur masyarakat beranjak ekoran pelbagai dasar ekonomi, sosial dan pendidikan. Justeru, lahir lebih banyak golongan kelas menengah. Sebahagian kelas menengah ini berasal dari luar bandar. Hasil kejayaan pendidikan terutamanya, berlaku bukan saja mobilisasi mendatar, tetapi juga menegak. Maksudnya, berlaku peningkatan dari segi sosioekonomi.


Politik lebih responsif

Dalam politik baru, pengundi tidak lagi sekadar tertarik dengan janji dan rancangan pembangunan. Mereka mahu melihat parti politik yang responsif terhadap aspirasi dan tuntutan mereka.

Pengundi terutama muda melihat lebih jauh berbanding mana parti dan wakil rakyat dapat melaksanakan projek pembangunan jalan raya, klinik, sekolah atau bekalan air dan elektrik.

Pendidikan, ekonomi dan media baru, khususnya media alternatif menyebabkan perubahan dari segi pendirian politik mereka. Kesan ledakan teknologi maklumat mentransformasikan hampir semua bidang. Di negara luar, termasuk di Asia Barat, kita akui bagaimana generasi muda yang sekadar menggunakan telefon bimbit berupaya mengubah landskap sosiopolitik. Kerajaan menyedari kempen politik klise dan tradisional tidak lagi relevan.

Untuk itu, kita mengharapkan kempen politik Barisan Nasional (BN) pada pilihan raya akan datang lebih pelbagai dan kreatif, slogan kempen lebih segar, poster lebih bermaya dan bergaya, bukan poster kempen ala 1960-an. Papan iklan kempen perlu lebih serasi dengan kehendak semasa. Manifesto juga patut lebih kreatif dari segi persembahan, terutama dari segi reka bentuk dan penampilan. Sudah pasti, kesilapan lalu tidak menggunakan semaksimum mungkin media baru perlu dielakkan.

Bagi pengundi era politik baru, yang jauh lebih penting adalah bagaimana parti dan calon dapat membawa pembaharuan. Isu tabir urus yang baik, ketelusan, akauntabiliti, keupayaan menangani rasuah dan penyelewengan menjadi perhitungan utama dan bukan lagi soal keupayaan menyelesaikan masalah yang dianggap remeh-temeh.

Tetapi di luar bandar Sabah dan Sarawak politik baru belum menonjol. Politik pembangunan masih menawan pengundi. Ada 5,000 penempatan terdiri daripada kampung tradisional dan rumah panjang. Lebih daripada 50 peratus kawasan itu mempunyai sekitar 30 keluarga saja. Kejayaan parti untuk menawan hati pengundi sebahagian besar ditentukan rekod silam dan keupayaan membawa pembangunan serta menunaikan janji.

Adunan strategi

Media konvensional masih penting. Bagi pedalaman Sabah dan Sarawak, radio dan televisyen menjadi sumber politik utama. Politik di luar bandar dan rumah panjang di kedua-dua negeri itu, memerlukan adunan strategi lama dan baru. Bagi politik baru, penggunaan internet, Facebook, blog dan khidmat pesanan ringkas (SMS) penting untuk meraih undi. Di Sarawak pembangkang mendekati rakyat melalui radio kerana mereka menyedari radio sumber utama politik penghuni rumah panjang.

Kehadiran Radio Free Sarawak tidak disenangi kerajaan Sarawak kerana disifatkan menyemarakkan sentimen rakyat. Bagaimanakah kerajaan dapat menangkis wacana politik disebarkan melalui radio alternatif itu? Memadaikah sekadar menasihati rakyat di luar bandar mengelak daripada mendengar radio terbabit? Radio itu memaparkan isu yang dekat di hati rakyat termasuk isu tanah adat dan kekurangan pembangunan di kawasan mereka.

Pelbagai kehendak kontemporari telah menyaksikan kerajaan melakukan perubahan. Perdana Menteri melakukan banyak reformasi termasuk reformasi politik dengan memansuhkan dan meminda beberapa undang-undang. Sejauh manakah transformasi politik sesuai dengan prinsip demokrasi dan hak asasi itu relevan dengan pengundi luar bandar dan pedalaman di negara ini?


Jeniri Amir ialah Pensyarah Kanan dan Penganalisis Politik Universiti Malaysia Sarawak Berita Harian Online Rencana 17/03/2013

Political chameleons

Politicians and wannabe politicians have hijacked the green movement to pursue their political goals at the expense of genuine environmental concerns.

HIMPUNAN Hijau activist Wong Tack has found himself facing a barrage of criticism after deciding to contest under the DAP banner in the coming general election.

His fellow members in the anti-Lynas movement feel let down because they see his decision as politically opportunistic.

They want him to step down from the movement but he says it is unwarranted because Himpunan Hijau isn’t registered anyway. He is even saying that his position as chairman is not an official position.

But what Wong has not said is that all this while, he has been freely making press statements in that capacity.

Dr Kua Kia Soong, adviser for human rights group Suaram, has expressed similar sentiments about Wong, saying the latter must step down.

Dr Kua was a Chinese educationist who quit the United Chinese School Committees’ Association of Malaysia (Dong Zong) in 1990 to contest under the DAP in the 1990 general election. He won the Petaling Jaya Utara parliamentary seat but he did not last long in the DAP as his idealism and uncompromising principles did not fit in the opposition party.

The respectable human rights activist, who was detained under the Internal Security Act in 1987, left the DAP bitterly and ended up pouring out his frustrations in a book, Inside the DAP: 1990-1995.

Dr Kua has returned to NGO activities.

As he rightly wrote recently, “Politicians like to spout the platitude that ‘politics is the art of the possible’, but movements must bear pressure on them to make their demands possible.

“Now, before Wong has even started his career as a politician, he is already faced with his first dilemma.”

Pakatan Rakyat chief (Datuk Seri) Anwar Ibrahim, Dr Kua wrote, “has demonstrated the ‘art of the possible’ by declaring that if Pakatan comes into power, Lynas will be given a chance to prove the plant’s safety”.

Wong, when asked to respond to what Anwar had said, was quick to support the Opposition Leader’s statement. That was a far cry from his earlier pledge to burn down the Lynas plant himself if Pakatan comes to power.

That’s precisely the trouble with NGO leaders, especially some activists in Penang, who decide to take a partisan political stand. They begin to make compromises and, worse, they begin to lose their neutrality as they openly side with Pakatan.

At least one former NGO leader has taken up a Senator’s post while others have been co-opted into various state government posts. Others cannot remember which hat they were wearing when they made statements.

The only beacon that stands out in Penang, home of NGOs, is the Consumers Association of Penang, which has consistently spoken out about issues affecting the country and state.

Unlike many NGOs which are actually one-man shows, CAP is professionally run and is focused on education and research. It does not need to flirt with politicians and has kept its credibility fully intact.

Wong obviously owes the thousands of people who took part in the anti-Lynas protest walk an explanation. Was he using them to increase his profile so he could secure himself a candidacy?

His commitment to the environment itself has now been questioned as he has maintained a stoic silence on the blatant raping of forests in Kedah and Kelantan, two states run by PAS, a partner in the Pakatan.

Again, I quote Dr Kua in reference to NGO leaders who have wavered after becoming involved in politics: “Is it because they are so caught up with the political hoopla they have also stepped down a notch from their previous uncompromising stand?

“It’s time they found their own voice now that their erstwhile chairperson has gone on to pursue his political career.”

There have been high hopes that environment issues would play a major role in this coming election but it would appear that much of it has been tainted with political motives. Politicians and wannabe politicians have hijacked the green movement to pursue their political goals at the expense of genuine environmental concerns.

Take, for example, the Bukit Koman gold mine issue. Purported environmental activists have claimed that the mine’s use of cyanide caused medical problems among the residents nearby. Until now, however, not a shred of evidence has been produced to support their claims.

Last year, DAP Kepong MP Dr Tan Seng Giaw, a skin specialist, said “there is still no evidence to show the occurrence of skin problems among Bukit Koman residents in Raub is linked to cyanide used in gold mine activities”.

“It is difficult to attribute the skin problems to a certain substance as it is a very slow process. I think we should approach this issue in a rational manner,” he said.

Yet, the same allegations have been recycled, with the hope that if a lie is told a thousand times, it will become fact.

Interestingly, the gold mine employs over 300 local residents, and Barisan Nasional is claiming that most of the protesters are actually from outside Raub.

It is also interesting to note that a gold mine operator in PAS-run Kelantan uses cyanide and actually explained its operations on its official website. But there’s not even a whisper of protest against it from pro-Pakatan environmentalists, who seem to choose their targets.

Two other gold mines in Pahang are said to also use cyanide but again they are not in the political spotlight. Bukit Koman, however, is in the Raub parliamentary constituency, which the opposition feels it has a chance of wresting from the Barisan.

Environmental awareness is crucial and important. Malaysians must demand that protection of our environment be included as part of the national agenda.

This newspaper has exposed wanton logging, illegal or otherwise, in Pahang, Kedah, Kelantan and Perak. We have highlighted the problems of the natives in Sarawak and incurred the wrath of politicians and developers over our reports on the excessive hill development in Penang. Then there is the never-ending issue of illegal sand mining in Selangor.

Our reporters have been threatened by both sides of the political divide but that’s the price we have to pay if we are to pursue the issue passionately.

The Buku Jingga, for example, is totally silent on the customary land rights of the orang asli, public transport system and even a sustainable energy policy. Environmental groups and voters must insist on these when the Barisan unveils its manifesto.



WONG CHUN WAI The Star Online Opinion Sunday 17/03/2013

When we talk, talk and talk

At the end of the day, our perspective on life will determine what we lend our voices to.

I MUST confess that whenever there is a dinner with more than five people on the table, I will eat the least. This is because I talk too much.

Of course, I can also blame the others for asking me too many questions simply because I work in the media.

Whether it’s about the date of the general election or if property prices will come down, I have no choice but to respond accordingly. And since I obviously do not know the answers, it’s mainly talk without any substance.

And, for the less politically-inclined friends, they always want to ask me about my health and whether I am allowed to eat the food they are about to order.

And so I have to go on and on about what my oncologist said and why it’s okay to order the curry fish head, my favourite.

However, I can also be quiet as a mouse when the occasion demands. Being quiet in the midst of a noisy environment is actually good therapy.

But taking time off to commune with nature, as I have been doing with my wife of late as we explore some of the hidden wonders not too far from the Klang Valley, is even more invigorating.

But in our normal day-to-day life, it would seem that the order of the day is to out-talk one another. At committee meetings, whenever a person starts out by saying, “Mr Chairman, let me be brief…” it’s actually a cue for him to hold the floor for a long time.

So one must salute Senator Rand Paul, who gave notice at the beginning of his speech last Wednesday, that he intended to filibuster the nomination of John Brennan as director of the CIA.

“I will speak until I can no longer speak,” Paul said. And so he did — for nearly 13 hours.

In the American tradition, the filibuster is a tactic used to delay a vote in a legislative assembly. Some of us may be familiar with the James Stewart classic, Mr Smith Goes to Washington, where he played the role of the naive and idealistic Senator Jefferson Smith, who spoke for 24 hours and drove himself to exhaustion to successfully delay a spending bill.

Paul’s filibuster in the Senate, however, is only ranked at No 9. The record is held by Senator Strom Thurmond, who spoke for 24 hours and 18 minutes in an effort to block the Civil Rights Act of 1957.

But Paul certainly made all of the US aware of him, and his filibuster has certainly propelled him to be the Republican frontliner in the race for the White House in 2016. So, in his case, talk is good, and profitable as the money for his campaign starts rolling in.

In the United Nations, talk is what they do best, and the record for the longest speech is held by Krishna Menon, the Indian UN envoy who, back in January 1957, spoke at the Security Council for more than eight hours.

Menon actually collapsed from exhaustion midway and had to be hospitalised.

He returned later and continued for another hour while a doctor monitored his blood pressure.

It has been said that in real life, there is no such thing as a “quiet achiever”. We are told to work smart and trumpet our achievements, or risk being passed over.

That may be so, but at the end of the day, our perspective on life will determine what we lend our voices to. I could be a smooth talker, adding to verbal diarrhoea or I could use my speech to build up, affirm others and spread a little light on dark days.

The choice is entirely mine.

Deputy executive editor Soo Ewe Jin (ewejin@thestar.com.my) is impressed that C-SPAN has the full video recording of Ryan Paul’s 13-hour speech, or more precisely, 12 hours, 52 minutes, 11 seconds, available online. The STAR Online Opinion Sunday 17/03/2013

Getting ready for GE13

The long wait for the general election to be called is almost over as all the signs point to the Prime Minister making the big move this week.

EVERYONE thinks it is going to be any day now. They are, of course, talking about when Parliament will be dissolved for the general election.

Last Wednesday, there was a mild speculation frenzy after the Prime Minister’s black Proton Perdana Executive was spotted going through the Palace gates early in the morning. A Malay daily tweeted about it and soon the chatter was Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had sought the King’s consent for the dissolution of Parliament.

Najib did indeed have an audience with the King as he does every Wednesday before chairing the weekly Cabinet meeting, and many people had a good laugh at themselves after that.

Speculation about the dissolution date has gone from “Is it going to be next month?” to “Is it tomorrow?” or even “Heard that PM is meeting the (Yang di-Pertuan) Agong this afternoon.”

The window is getting smaller and every little move by Najib is scrutinised and analysed for hints. But even those with access to him are flummoxed.

“We keep watching PM’s body language but no hints at all from him. When we ask him, all he says is, be ready,” said Umno executive secretary Datuk Rauf Yusoh.

A few days ago, PKR deputy president Azmin Ali tweeted that Parliament would be dissolved on March 18. But the opposition parties have been predicting the general election since 2010 and we are still waiting.

The Prime Minister is as ready as can be, according to several top editors who met him at his office on Monday. It was a sort of tea-chat where they exchanged views over a variety of issues.

And, of course, there was the burning question of the day: When? Nobody really expected him to say when but what came across during the exchange was how visibly confident Najib was.

“He was upbeat, he looked at ease. I think he is ready. He has an impressive report card in terms of the Government’s economic transformation policies. He has responded to the new political landscape in terms of social and political reforms. He’s got his finger on the national pulse, he has reached out to everyone and he’s tuned in to issues of the day,” said one of the editors.

Najib told them he is “cautiously optimistic” about Barisan Nasional’s chances in the elections. It is a phrase he has used whether in private or in public.

During a televised town hall-style session titled “Conversation with the PM” a few days ago, he had said: “I say cautiously optimistic because we cannot take anything for granted. But I am very encouraged by the people’s response especially when I go round. At the same time, we have done our assessments, numbers and we believe the rakyat is behind us and the rakyat feel that their future is more secure with Barisan Nasional.”

He has put his heart and soul into his work and those close to him said he has every reason to be confident and that he has his sights set on regaining Barisan’s two-third majority in Parliament.

But like all seasoned politicians, he knows that this is the time when politicians are about to approach the people to ask for their precious votes and support. Humility is important and it is not the time to talk big or be presumptuous.

Najib has often been described as a wartime prime minister given the challenging post-2008 political landscape. But the terror intrusions in Lahad Datu has lent an uncanny meaning to the sobriquet and he has been able to draw on his experience as Defence Minister in handling the crisis.

He has been visibly saddened by the deaths on the battle front and his focus over the last few weeks has been as much on the situation in Sabah as it has been on the polls. The crisis is under control but far from over.

It has also taken on a life of its own in terms of national impact. There has been a surging tide of nationalist and patriotic sentiments especially among the Malays. Many have been moved by the nightly reporting from the battle front and the televised replay of the Jalur Gemilang-draped coffins emerging from the belly of army aircraft as solemn military music played in the background.

Malaysians have been galvanised by what is happening in Lahad Datu and what it means to the country’s national security. They are angry there are people out there who have attempted to ridicule the gravity of the situation.

For instance, Wong Chin Huat, a leading figure in the Bersih group and now working for a Penang government think-tank, had in the early weeks of the crisis tweeted that the Sulu intruders were here for Chinese New Year, they would be getting ang pows, they decided to stay for Chap Goh Meh, they enjoyed it so much they extended their stay. He probably meant it as a joke but it was not funny when people, especially our police personnel, began dying.

PKR vice-president Tian Chua is facing sedition charges after dozens of police reports were lodged over his alleged remarks that the Sabah intrusion was a political conspiracy.

Very few are keen to talk openly about how Lahad Datu will impact on the political prospect of either Barisan or Pakatan Rakyat. It would be in bad taste given that the armed forces are out there, putting their lives on the line for the nation. But the political mood in Sabah is very different today compared to a month ago and talk about “Ubah” or change has quietened somewhat.

Pakatan leaders have been going on about how they are going to take Putrajaya. They have been reluctant to say how many seats they can possibly win to form the government but are making a concerted bid to win more seats in Johor, Sarawak and Sabah.

They have been very strategic in focusing on these states where there are a sizable number of Chinese-majority seats because they have won all the Chinese seats that they could possibly win in other states on the west coast.

But they have been tactically silent about the fact that Kedah and Selangor are looking wobbly. They may also lose seats in several other states that were won thanks to the political tsunami.

For example, at least five parliamentary seats are expected to fall to Umno in Kelantan. In Penang, Umno is sure of taking back two parliamentary seats from PKR while in Perak, at least four Pakatan parliamentary seats are in danger.

This means that the gains Pakatan makes in their frontline states may be negated by losses elsewhere. State seats usually carry parliamentary seats and if Kedah and Selangor fall, Barisan will be looking at a two-thirds majority.

The general consensus is that Barisan will still be in Putrajaya after the general election. It will win with a comfortable margin but will fall short of a two-thirds majority. Besides, very few democracies in the world enjoy two-thirds majority governments.

“Only the size of the majority remains uncertain,” said Asli CEO Tan Sri Michael Yeoh.

Yeoh put it in a nutshell when he said that there are basically three possible outcomes for the elections:

> The status quo remains for Barisan at around 140 parliamentary seats.

> A reduced majority for Barisan.

> Barisan regains two-thirds majority.

Najib, said Yeoh, will campaign from a position of strength that is premised on his personality, the hard work he has put in and his track record of policies and programmes.

One of the reasons why Pakatan’s recently launched manifesto has not had the traction of the earlier Buku Jingga is because of Najib’s Janji Ditepati reputation, which has been in sharp contrast to Pakatan’s excuse that “manifesto bukan janjian” (a manifesto is not a promise).

He has shown that it can walk the talk and deliver on its word.

“However, the urban voters are still largely with the Opposition. The urban Chinese support for DAP is strong and as high as 85% of urban Chinese may vote for it,” said Yeoh.

Umno, he said, will be the big Barisan winner and DAP will be the big Pakatan winner. Malaysian politics is likely to get even more racially polarised.

It has been a long wait for the mother of all battles. During a pre-election briefing for the editorial staff a few weeks ago, this paper’s group chief editor Datuk Seri Wong Chun Wai asked how many in the auditorium were covering the general election for the first time.

On seeing the number of hands, he said with a laugh: “Never mind, don’t worry. The last five years have been one long election campaign.”

He is so right. It has also been five years of endless politicking over almost everything and anything. And just as you thought that it could not get any more complicated, you have Saiful Bukhari Azlan and his father Azlan Mohd Lazim contradicting each other on Saiful’s sex allegations against Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

But nothing could have been more stunning than how the Lynas campaign has unfolded. Lynas leader Wong Tack is now a DAP election candidate and he has veered from wanting to burn down the plant to okaying Lynas if it “goes through the front door”.

On the other hand, Anwar said Lynas may be allowed to operate but his PKR Wanita chief Fuziah Salleh went the opposite direction with a firm “No”.

The saying that fact is stranger than fiction has been all too true when it comes to politics since 2008.

Publisher Datuk A. Kadir Jasin’s gripe about some of the greenhorn politicians swept in by the political tsunami is that they have been like “ayam jantan baru belajar berkokok” (cockerels learning how to crow).

“They not only crow at the wrong time, they are also out of tune and are a nuisance to the whole kampung,” said Kadir.

The result has been some questionable Yang Berhormats who have a talent for saying the wrong things at the wrong time about issues which they are less than qualified to talk about.

Malaysians have had ample time to assess what the two coalitions are about. And that is why candidates are going to be a big factor in the elections.

Najib will meet the King again on Wednesday prior to the Cabinet meeting. But this time, according to insiders, this might just be the day when he seeks His Majesty’s consent to dissolve Parliament. If that happens, he will then return to inform his Cabinet before making a public announcement.

The long wait is almost over.




JOCELINE TAN The STAR Online Opinion Sunday 17/03/2013

What the people want

From issues on politicians being held accountable and the armed intrusion into Lahad Datu to rising cost of living, Pahang folks have their own take on things.

RETIRED soldier Saadon Ahmad, 75, is very old school. He believes in a strict regime of discipline, rules, regulations and punishment and he thinks this should also apply in politics.

“If a politician breaks a rule, does something wrong, he should be hauled up and punished, otherwise people will think he can do whatever he likes and gets away with it,” he says.

He knows being a leader is not easy. “You have to understand your men, use the right size, correct method and proper tools, and know how to start and finish the job.

“Human beings are like an orchestra and its leader is the conductor. He must know how to conduct, otherwise the music will not be a symphony,” he says.

Perhaps it is because Saadon is from Pekan – Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s constituency – that he thinks the PM understands people and is a “solid” conductor for the country.

“His plans are not just for five years but 50 years ahead. He has vision,” Saadon says with obvious pride.

But he is less flattering when it comes to other politicians in the party.

“People who are not well-off shouldn’t enter politics because once they get posts, they get ‘drunk’ on power and money. We see this all the time in Umno.”

He wants Barisan Nasional to carry on ruling because “we should honour the progress that they have made” and “it’s not safe to experiment”, but at the same time he wants politicians especially from Umno to be more accountable.

He suggests that an “assessment officer” keep watch on politicians elected to office without them knowing, and these “officers” should submit reports on the politicians every three months or so to the top leaders so that they can assess and take action if required.

“Politicians shouldn’t demand RM50 or so each time the rakyat comes to them for a signature on a form. If you makan RM1 from somewhere, your salary should be cut by RM2 at the end of the month. There must be punishment,” Saadon says.

“If nothing is done, the excesses will go on and I fear the party will be finished.”

Saadon credits Pakatan Rakyat for making a lot of improvement.

“They have been doing a kind of R & D on what our weak points are. They also study the people, their wants and needs and address them. Why are we not doing this?”

As an ex-soldier, Saadon is of course closely following the issue of the self-proclaimed Sulu Sultan’s claim on Sabah and the intrusion into Lahad Datu by the Sulu armed men.

He says the insurgents’ claim on Sabah memang tak kena (not realistic).

“Why did they not make their claim back then during the Cobbold Commission (which looked into whether the people of Sabah and Sarawak were agreeable with the formation of Malaysia with Malaya and Singapore)?

“It’s not logical to do it now. Malacca once had a Sultan. Can the heir come back some day and claim it?”

In Bentong, friends Shahril, Hassan, Tuan Haji Mawi and Ahmad Shukri are in a warung discussing the Lahad Datu situation.

Shahril wonders if Malaysian ICs have been given out so easily in Sabah to people from southern Philippines to benefit certain politicians (and vote for them) and if the country is now paying the price when these people turn against Malaysia.

“We worry for Peninsular Malaysia, too, because there are too many foreign workers from Indonesia, Bangladesh and Myanmar, who may end up living here permanently, so we are concerned what might happen to the country in the future,” he says.

Hassan thinks it is too easy for foreigners to get student visas here.

“Are the authorities monitoring if the foreigner is qualified, is actually going to college and attending classes or is simply using the student visa as a pretext to carry out illegal activities here?”

On politics, he believes the Malays in the state do not oppose Barisan or Umno but are simply fed up with the politicians and their ways.

“They grab everything including the tender to cut grass, so what does that leave the common folks with? You need connections and to ‘pull cables’ politically if you want something.

“I am a Barisan man but even my confidence is eroding when I see how people change once they get posts.

“They change their old car straightaway to not just a new one but a luxury car. It is as if they are in politics just to accumulate wealth for themselves. It is disappointing,” says the 59-year-old Hassan, who is a businessman.

But above and beyond all this, what matters most to him is to get the Government to revive the Jawi script in primary schools and make this a mandatory subject for Malay students so that they can read and write Jawi as was done in the past.

“If you ask school children today, 10 out of 10 may not be able to read Jawi. How then are they going to recite the Quran and understand Islam?

“The Chinese have their own writing and the Indians have theirs, too. Why are the Malays using Roman alphabets to write and read instead of Jawi?

“It is not just a matter of identity but basic knowledge so that they can read the Quran and understand the religion,” says Hassan, adding that this problem of the younger generation of Malays not being able to read and write Jawi has been bugging him for more than 10 years.

For 43-year-old Kuan who runs a tyre shop, what bothers him most is the rising cost of living.

“In 1987, I was earning RM150 a month and was able to survive but today, people find it a struggle to manage on a salary of RM2,000 a month,” he says.

“The price of everything has gone up. Having money is the most important thing in life. It gives people happiness,” says Kuan, who dreams of being a millionaire, retire at 55, buy a boat and go off sailing and fishing in Australia.

He thinks money is easy enough to make in Malaysia and that one should use money to make more money.

“If you use your hands to get money, then you won’t get much,” he says.

One must also know how to enjoy the money because otherwise life will not be complete, he adds.

Kuan, who has three children, finds it easy to sit down to chat and connect with people in their 30s, 40s, 50s and retirees but finds it tough to do so with teens or those in their early 20s.

“They are of a different wavelength. I don’t understand what they are saying and they don’t get me either,” he admits.

He thinks parents pamper their children too much these days by giving them lots of pocket money, buying them a car or a motorbike and subsequently paying the monthly instalment, and also giving them money for petrol and shopping.

“So, kids these days can live without even working,” he says.

His friend Fatt, who is also in the tyre business, thinks family is more important than money.

“If you have money but no family you will not be happy. And you shouldn’t have too much money,” he says.

After all, he adds, the Chinese are good at managing their money no matter how small the amount.

“If they get RM100, they will save RM70 and spend RM30. If they get RM70 and spend all RM70, then they are not Chinese.”

Fatt, who has three daughters aged 17, 16 and nine, says parenting needs a different set of skills these days. He hopes the caring and respectful manner with which he treats his elderly mother will rub off on his children so that they will treat him similarly in his old age.

“We cannot control kids too much because they will rebel, pack their bags and leave home or, worse, jump off a building and commit suicide,” he says.

But Kuan disagrees, saying that a child’s mind is empty and it is imperative for parents to upload the right “software and programmes” in it.

“If you want to taste the fruit, you have to plant the tree first,” he adds.

On politics, Kuan says it has become so divisive that he does not put up party flags in front of his shop anymore or tell customers which party he supports.

“I did it once and the customer drove away in a huff without getting his car tyres changed. So I don’t tell anymore because I don’t want to lose any business,” he jokes.

Kuan and Fatt both oppose the Lynas plant here, fearing they may be exposed to radioactive waste material.

Fatt worries that the effects will be felt and borne by the generations to come and that his grandchildren might be deformed or disabled because of it.

Fatt questions why Australia itself refuses to accept the radioactive waste and other countries like Indonesia and Thailand don’t want it either.

“So why have it in Kuantan?” he asks.

He further argues that if an advanced country like Japan can suffer a nuclear disaster and radiation exposure when its Fukushima nuclear plant leaked after the earthquake and tsunami in 2011, how can a developing country like Malaysia be sure that it can protect against radiation of radioactive material from the Lynas plant in the event of a disaster?

But Edwin Murthy is not worried. He doesn’t think it is a problem. “A lot of people are working there. It is their rice bowl. Would they be willing to work there if there is such a risk?

“I think it’s just the Opposition (Pakatan Rakyat) party who is creating this issue,” he says.

Edwin works as a supervisor at one of the big supermarkets in Kuantan and his wife teaches in a kindergarten.

Their combined salary doesn’t come up to RM3,000.

He worked in Singapore for 10 years but chose to come home to Kuantan to look after his elderly mother after his father passed away.

“The money is good in Singapore but my commitment is to my family. I am the only son so I have to come back.

“If you show a good example to your own children, they will do the same for you,” says the 48-year-old father of two.

He gives 10% of his salary as tithes to the church every month because he believes money comes from God so he should give some back for the running of the church.

And he manages to put away RM100 each month as savings.

“Of course I worry about retirement but I am putting a plan in place,” he says.

For him, it doesn’t matter which party comes to power because either way “you have to earn your own living”.

“I am a moderate. I am not against or for a particular party but I prefer Barisan because I don’t trust the other side.

“They are three different parties with three different ideologies.”

But Hadi Abu Bakar, 23, has opted for the right not to choose.

“I haven’t registered as a voter. My family are hardcore PKR supporters and they have been persuading me to register as a voter but I told them to wait.

“There are things right about PKR and there are things wrong about the party. It’s the same with Barisan; there are some things I like and some things I don’t.

“So for now, I am staying neutral,” he says.




SHAHANAAZ HABIB The STAR  Online Opinion Sunday 17/03/2013