January 30th, 2014

Padam segera api fitnah pengadu domba

Fitnah dan adu domba adalah virus yang amat bahaya jika dibiar membarah dalam masyarakat. Jika tidak dikekang, budaya ini boleh menjadi wabak pembunuh utama dalam masyarakat hingga mampu menghancurkan keamanan dan meleburkan keharmonian negara.

Jika ditelusuri sejarah silam, fenomena fitnahlah penyebab utama berlaku peristiwa pemberontakan terbesar dalam sejarah awal Islam khususnya selepas kewafatan Rasulullah SAW. Pemberontakan yang membawa kepada peristiwa pembunuhan Khalifah ketiga Saiyyidina Uthman ‘Affan adalah detik paling tragis dalam sejarah umat Islam hingga melarat kepada pertelingkahan hebat dalam kalangan sahabat.


Cetus keraguan

Firman Allah SW; "Dan janganlah kamu ikuti setiap orang yang banyak bersumpah lagi hina, yang banyak mencela, yang ke sana kemari menghambur fitnah". (Al-Qalam : 10-11)

Mengikut riwayat yang dikemukakan Saif Umar di dalam buku Tarikh al-Tabariy, fitnah terbesar itu berlaku akibat kegagalan mengekang usaha pengadu domba diketuai Abdullah bin Saba’ berketurunan Yahudi. Dia dan pengikutnya bergerak dari satu tempat ke tempat termasuk Kufah, Basra hingga ke Mesir untuk menyesat dan mencetuskan keraguan terhadap kepemimpinan dan keIslaman Uthman berpusat di Madinah.

Jika diperhatikan segala pertuduhan tuduhan terhadap Uthman termasuk menyentuh keperibadian beliau, tiada satu pun yang masuk akal. Sebagai contoh, tuduhan mengatakan Uthman tidak lagi mengamalkan sunah Nabi SAW sedangkan beliau antara sahabat paling rapat dengan Baginda.

Namun, hebatnya kesan gerakan penabur fitnah ini berjaya menimbulkan kesangsian dan keraguan sehinggakankan gabenor yang dilantik Khalifah juga tidak mampu menangani fenomena penyimpangan persepsi yang terbiak.

Lebih menyedihkan apabila gerakan adu domba ini berupaya membiakkan kelompok pelampau yang akhirnya membunuh Saiyyidina Uthman dengan cara yang tidak berperikemanusian.

Pada hari Khalifah Uthman dibunuh, 3,000 pemberontak mengepung rumahnya ketika ramai sahabat menunaikan haji di Makkah. Uthman bukan sahaja dipukul dengan besi, bahkan mashaf al-Quran dibaca ketika itu dipijak hingga darah beliau terpercik ke mashaf isteri yang turut dipotong jarinya.

Demikianlah hakikat fitnah yang bukan saja menumpahkan darah pemimpin agung umat bahkan berupaya menghancurkan keharmonian dan meleburkan kestabilan agama serta negara.

Hari ini, fitnah dan adu domba tidak sepayah dulu. Malah, pendekatan adu domba dan fitnah pada zaman ini hanya menggunakan jari jemari yang tidak memerlukan banyak tenaga.

Salah guna media sosial

Papan kekunci komputer, laptop, Ipad mahupun telefon bimbit dengan pelbagai perisian canggih masa kini seperti Whatsapp, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blog dan instrumen lain sering disalah guna bagi merangsang dan menyuburkan budaya negatif ini.

Sebab itu, sesuatu cerita amat mudah direka dan disensasikan dalam pelbagai bentuk dengan hanya menekan butang tanpa batasan. Berita yang belum dipastikan kesahihannya sering dihidangkan kepada masyarakat tanpa batasan.
Rakyat marhain pula seolah-olah dipaksa menelan bulat-bulat segala cerita berbaur fitnah. Budaya sebegini juga seolah-olah menjadi mazhab baru yang menjadi pegangan dan mainan bagi mereka yang begitu haus dan rakus untuk berkuasa.

Lebih menyedihkan apabila setiap warga yang terbabit seperti tiada langsung rasa bersalah atau takutkan Tuhan apabila mensensasikan isu yang belum dipastikan benar. Malah, ada juga yang menjustifikasikan perbuatan fitnah dengan menganggap usaha menjatuhkan pihak lawan yang didakwanya zalim adalah lebih utama.

Sebab itulah Islam keras mencela pencacai dan pengadu domba kerana menyalakan obor kebencian dan membakar api permusuhan hingga terlerai ikatan ukhuwah umat.

Amaran keras Allah jelas dalam al-Quran: “Dan janganlah kamu ikuti setiap orang yang banyak bersumpah lagi hina, yang banyak mencela, yang ke sana kemari menghambur fitnah”. (Al-Qalam : 10-11).

Al-Quran turut memberi peringatan keras terhadap mereka yang mendengar dan menyebar fitnah dan tuduhan palsu, tanpa sikap berbaik sangka atau memastikan kebenaran fakta terlebih dahulu. Peringatan ini disampaikan dalam konteks kisah ‘al-Ifk’ iaitu peristiwa isteri Nabi SAW sendiri, Sayidatina Aisyah yang turut menjadi mangsa fitnah (Lihat an-Nur: 16-17).

Fitnah dan adu domba moden dengan bantuan teknologi jika tidak dibendung pasti menghancurkan bangsa dan memporak-porandakan negara. Moga-moga api fitnah yang menyemarak kini berjaya kita padamkan demi kepentingan bangsa dan negara.


Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki ialah Yang Dipertua Yayasan Dakwah Islamiah Malaysia (YADIM). Berita Harian Rencana Kolumnis 28/01/2014

Cabaran ahli akademik didik masyarakat

Ilmuwan perlu dekati orang ramai, zahirkan ilmu dengan berhikmah

Pada minggu ini saya cuba mendekatkan pembaca dengan dunia akademik, tertutamanya dunia ahli akademik. Ahli akademik di sini merujuk kepada ilmuwan iaitu seseorang yang ditafsirkan oleh Kamus Dewan sebagai golongan (para) akademik atau orang yang berilmu.

Ahli akademik dan ilmuwan dalam ‘kamus’ khalayak umum merujuk kepada pensyarah di institusi pengajian tinggi, terutamanya pensyarah di universiti awam. Pada pengamatan saya, masyarakat umum kurang memberi perhatian kepada pensyarah di universiti swasta walaupun tugas pensyarah itu agak sama.

Saya pernah menulis mengenai peranan pensyarah di universiti dalam dua rencana di ruangan kolum saya sebelum ini, tetapi kali ini ada perkara lagi untuk ‘disegarkan’ semula.

Namun, saya perlu jelaskan kepada pembaca bahawa saya tidak mewakili semua pensyarah, tetapi ini hanya pengamatan saya dari dalam universiti. Selain itu saya menyuarakan pendapat ini kerana memberi jawapan kepada beberapa pembaca. Selepas saya menilai komen dan persoalan mereka, eloklah saya berkongsi pandangan saya dengan pembaca di ruangan ini.

Pembimbing masyarakat

Perkara utama yang saya ingin berkongsi ialah kedudukan pensyarah universiti dalam kamus khalayak umum. Pensyarah diharapkan sebagai sumber ilmu dan pembimbing masyarakat pada masa mereka memerlukan pemahaman atau panduan mengenai sesuatu perkara. Masyarakat juga mahukan pendapat ahli akademik yang jelas dan tidak berpihak. Masyarakat mahukan ilmuwan yang dapat memberi jawapan kepada realiti yang sedang dihadapi masyarakat.

Apabila melihat kepada harapan masyarakat umum itu, ia meletakkan tanggungjawab yang sangat besar ke atas golongan ilmuwan. Pada pengamatan saya, pensyarah juga faham tentang tanggungjawab ini. Kami beringat tentang riwayat ini (walaupun isnadnya dhaif): “Manusia yang sangat menderita azab pada hari kiamat ialah orang yang berilmu (orang alim) yang tidak diberi manfaat oleh Allah SWT daripada ilmunya.”

Memikul ilmu yang sarat dan berat di bahu bukan hanya untuk dilihat atau ditonton oleh masyarakat, tetapi untuk diguna, dipakai dan manfaat kepada masyarakat. Sungguh besar harapan masyarakat.

Walaupun sedar tentang harapan masyarakat, hakikatnya pensyarah universiti disuburkan dengan teori pendidikan. Teori pendidikan itu hanya untuk mendidik mereka yang datang belajar di universiti, bukan teori mendidik mereka di luar universiti, ia daripada masyarakat umum.

Gementar hadapi umum

Oleh itu, saya harus jujur walaupun membuka pekung di dada, bahawa ada antara ilmuwan menjadi agak gementar menghadapi dan menggalas tanggungjawab itu. Melalui pengalaman peribadi, saya juga tidak terkecuali. Bukan kerana kurangnya ilmu atau tidak yakin dengan pengetahuan, tetapi kerana tiada pengalaman berada dalam masyarakat itu sendiri dan berdiri di kalangan masyarakat.

Begitu juga kurangnya pengalaman untuk meneliti, menilai dan menghayati apa sebenarnya yang sedang terjadi dan dialami masyarakat. Faktor lain lagi, mungkin berhadapan dengan khalayak yang bukan dalam bidang dan tahap ilmu yang sama. Dalam keadaan masyarakat meletakkan label politik dan era masyarakat mendapatkan maklumat hanya di hujung jari menjadikan agak susah untuk ahli akademik mendekati masyarakat. Oleh itu, ilmuwan menganggap cabaran itu bukan calang-calang.

Mungkin juga masalah lain ialah agak sukar untuk pensyarah memahami lenggok dan budaya masyarakat keseluruhannya. Sebagai contoh, agak susah untuk kita di universiti memahami dan pada masa sama menangani masalah berkaitan sosial.

Dalam bidang saya umpamanya, agak susah ahli akademik undang-undang menghujah dan membahas perkara tersirat di sebalik sesuatu peruntukan undang-undang dan seterusnya membina hubungan antara yang tersurat dan yang tersirat dalam undang-undang itu. Ini terutamanya dalam kes yang menjadi perhatian dan pengamatan masyarakat umum dan membabitkan perkara sensitif, seperti hubungan kaum, kedudukan agama dan kebebasan asasi.

Walaupun kekurangan yang ada, tanggungjawab ilmuwan tidak terluntur untuk rakan pensyarah ahli akademik, selamat bersuara, menzahirkan ilmu dengan jelas dan berhikmah. Masyarakat, agama, bangsa dan negara sedang sarat dan mereka amat memerlukan kita.

Shamrahayu A. Aziz ialah Profesor Madya di Kuliyyah Undang-Undang Ahmad Ibrahim Universiti Islam Antarabangsa Malaysia. Berita Harian Online Rencana 29/01/2014

Kritikan pedas angkat martabat bangsa Melayu

Abdullah Munsyi lantang persoal amalan karut halang kemajuan

Tahun ini genaplah 160 tahun Abdullah Munsyi meninggal dunia. Beliau dilahirkan di Melaka pada 1796 dan meninggal dunia di Jeddah pada Oktober 1854 ketika usia 58 tahun. Pada masa itu Jeddah di bawah pemerintahan kerajaan Uthmaniah. Jasadnya sudah tiada, tetapi karya yang diulang cetak membolehkan kita terus membaca tulisan tokoh berjasa dan kontroversi ini.

Kalaulah Abdullah masih hidup di tengah kemelut penggunaan perkataan Allah oleh penganut agama Kristian di Malaysia sekarang, tidak syak lagi beliau akan berada dalam kedudukan paling panas. Ini kerana pada 1815 beliau menterjemahkan Bible ke dalam bahasa Melayu. Beliau juga menterjemahkan beberapa teks bagi pihak London Missionary Society, dan bertugas dengan American Board of Missions.

Pada zamannya Abdullah dianggap sebagai orang Melayu paling berbudaya dan berpengetahuan pernah menghasilkan karya, yang mengangkat persuratan Melayu ke takah lebih tinggi, dan dianggap sebagai pelopor kesusasteraan Melayu moden”





Jadi penterjemah, guru

Abdullah berdarah Arab Hadhrami, Tamil dan Melayu. Antara gurunya adalah ayah sendiri yang terdidik, membolehkan ayahnya menjadi penterjemah dan guru. Peranan berkenaan disambung oleh Abdullah kepada pihak Belanda dan Inggeris, termasuk mubaligh dan saudagar Inggeris dan Amerika Syarikat (AS) di kepulauan Melayu, terutama di Melaka dan Singapura.

Pada zamannya Abdullah dianggap sebagai orang Melayu paling berbudaya dan berpengetahuan pernah menghasilkan karya, yang mengangkat persuratan Melayu ke takah lebih tinggi serta dianggap sebagai pelopor kesusasteraan Melayu moden.

Beliau dianggap bapa kesusasteraan Melayu moden kerana pertama kali secara realistik mengangkat kisah manusia seharian dalam bentuk autobiografi, menggunakan bahasa Melayu yang meninggalkan gaya berbahasa hikayat, serta karyanya tersebar luas atas bantuan teknologi percetakan pada zaman itu. Ismail Hussein adalah sarjana tempatan yang percaya label ini, berbeza pendapat Syed Naquib Al-Attas bahawa tokoh persuratan Melayu moden yang awal ialah Hamzah Fansuri kerana puisi sufisme vertikal ketuhanannya, melalui bahasa Melayu tinggi yang luar biasa diksi serta maknanya.

Bakatnya mengarang dikesan oleh seorang mubaligh Kristian bernama Alfred North. Beliaulah yang memberi galakan kepada Abdullah, sehingga Abdullah dapat menulis dan menyelesaikan beberapa karya. Ini termasuk Syair Singapura Terbakar, Hikayat Abdullah, Kisah Pelayaran Abdullah ke Kelantan, terjemahan Hikayat Panca Tenderan, Hikayat Kalilah dan Daminah, serta penerbitan semula Sejarah Melayu.

Kritikan sosial

Dalam Hikayat Abdullah yang menonjolkan autobiografinya, ia turut menyampaikan beberapa kritikan sosial terhadap orang Melayu. Ada beberapa amalan budaya, pendidikan, serta kepercayaan karut orang Melayu dikupasnya. Di samping itu, Abdullah mengkritik Raja Melayu dan pentadbirannya dengan lantang, suatu sampel daripada pelayarannya ke Kelantan. Inilah satu lagi sisi kontroversi Abdullah.

Raja Melayu pada masa itu dilihat saling bercakaran dengan pesaingnya, mementingkan diri, tidak mengutamakan pendidikan, tidak menghiraukan kebajikan rakyat, malah tidak melayan rakyat menurut cara yang beradab. Ini, ujar Abdullah, berbeza dengan tradisi kepemimpinan dan kerajaan Inggeris.

Sudah tentu kritikannya terasa pedas, terutama mereka yang ‘termakan cili’. Tetapi, tiada sesiapa dari istana Melayu pada masa itu yang mengambil tindakan ke atasnya. Bagaimana mungkin Raja Melayu yang tidak berpendidikan akan melakukan wacana balas terhadap Abdullah? Lebih-lebih lagi Abdullah dilihat sebagai pujangga dan intelektual Melayu pada zamannya yang mendapat naungan serta perlindungan pihak Inggeris.

Di balik tokoh yang kontroversi ini, Abdullah amat menyanjung bahasa Melayu yang menjadi medium pengucapan kreatifnya. Ia menyeru bangsa Melayu mencintai dan memajukan bahasa Ibunda ini. Di samping itu Abdullah menyeru, lebih 160 tahun lalu, agar orang Melayu berlumba-lumba mencari ilmu pengetahuan. Dengan ilmu pengetahuan sesuatu bangsa itu menjadi maju dan memberi erti kepada kehidupan di dunia ini.

Dr Anwar Ridhwan ialah Sasterawan Negara dan pensyarah Fakulti Penulisan Kreatif ASWARA. Berita Harian Rencana Kolumnis 2014/01/29 - 02:23:33 AM

Penetapan harga menerusi kuasa pasaran

Pengguna perlu lebih berhati-hati dalam tabiat berbelanja

Apabila membicarakan soal harga barangan dan perkhidmatan dalam konteks semasa, ramai yang mungkin akan berasa tertekan dan tidak kurang pula akan berang lantaran kenaikannya yang dilihat agak drastik.


Walau apa pun keadaannya, kefahaman mengenai mekanisme penetapan harga perlu juga dititikberatkan bagi mengelakkan kekeliruan serta penerimaan yang menyeluruh terhadap dasar negara yang dilihat agak kurang popular pada masa kini.

Umumnya, tidak ada satu mekanisme harga pun yang dianggap terbaik. Setiap satu akan ada kelebihan dan kekurangannya.

Contohnya, penetapan harga secara campur tangan langsung oleh pihak kerajaan melalui mekanisme harga ditadbir. Mekanisme ini mempunyai dua kumpulan barangan iaitu barangan yang tersenarai di bawah Akta Kawalan Harga (1946) seperti beras, tepung, daging, gula, gas dan bahan api yang mana harga runcit barangan berkenaan akan ditentukan oleh kerajaan.

Kumpulan yang kedua pula ialah barangan yang memerlukan kelulusan kerajaan sebelum harga barangan berkenaan diubah. Contoh barangan dalam kategori ini ialah bekalan air dan elektrik, tembakau serta perkhidmatan pengangkutan.

Namun akta ini telah mengalami sedikit perubahan melalui penggubalan Akta Kawalan Harga Dan Antipencatutan (2011) yang mana elemen penambahbaikan dimasukkan seperti langkah untuk memerangi peniaga yang menindas yang bertujuan untuk mendapatkan keuntungan yang melampau.

Beban kewangan

Mekanisme sebegini sememangnya dapat mengurangkan beban kewangan rakyat namun kerajaan terpaksa memperuntukkan perbelanjaan yang tinggi jika harga barangan yang diberi subsidi itu meningkat.

Hal ini amat relevan dalam kes komoditi seperti minyak petrol dan gula yang banyak dipengaruhi oleh faktor di luar kawalan kerajaan.

Keadaan ini diburukkan lagi apabila pemberian subsidi itu tidak mengenai sasaran dan banyak menguntungkan isi rumah yang berpendapatan tinggi seperti yang laporkan oleh Tabung Kewangan Antarabangsa (IMF).

Mengikut salah satu kertas kerja IMF yang diterbitkan pada 2013, golongan berpendapatan tinggi menikmati enam kali ganda manfaat daripada subsidi bahan api berbanding golongan berpendapatan rendah di negara berpendapatan rendah dan sederhana.

Perkara ini jelas menunjukkan pembaziran yang berlaku dalam rangka kerja yang sedia ada. Justeru, penetapan harga oleh kuasa pasaran dilihat sebagai alternatif yang lebih berdaya saing.

Ini berikutan pengguna akan menjadi lebih berhati-hati dalam tabiat perbelanjaan mereka berikutan harga sesuatu barangan itu akan sentiasa berubah.

Sikap berjimat cermat

Perkara ini juga menuntut sikap berjimat cermat dan lebih menghargai sumber yang terhad supaya tidak dibazirkan.

Jika dilihat, mekanisme harga pasaran ini telah wujud dalam kebanyakan industri negara ini. Contoh yang terbaik adalah sektor perbankan yang begitu kompetitif, sekali gus memberi manfaat kepada pengguna.

Walaupun Bank Negara Malaysia adalah satu-satunya entiti yang akan menentukan Kadar Dasar Semalaman (OPR) yang mempunyai kesan langsung terhadap Kadar Pinjaman Asas (BLR), pihak bank cenderung untuk memberikan pinjaman pada kadar faedah lebih rendah daripada BLR.

Perkara ini sememangnya menguntungkan pengguna kerana mendapat kos pembiayaan lebih kompetitif.

Bagaimanapun, penguatkuasaan juga adalah penting bagi memastikan peniaga tidak menindas pengguna. Ini berikutan, peniaga cenderung untuk menaikkan harga apabila kerajaan mengumumkan pengurangan subsidi bagi harga barangan yang ditadbir.

Menaikkan harga jualan apabila kos meningkat bukanlah sesuatu perbuatan yang salah. Namun, kenaikan itu perlulah setara dengan struktur kos sesuatu barangan berkenaan.

Contohnya, apabila harga gula meningkat sebanyak 30 peratus, segelas teh tarik tidak sepatutnya meningkat pada kadar yang sama kerana kos gula adalah sebahagian kecil dalam penyediaan minuman berkenaan.

Selain itu, amalan kepenggunaan juga perlu diterapkan bagi memastikan hak sebagai seorang pengguna sentiasa terpelihara dan peniaga yang tidak bertanggungjawab akan dikenakan tindakan yang sewajarnya.

Mohd Afzanizam ialah Ketua Penganalisis Ekonomi di Bank Islam Malaysia Bhd. Berita Harian Rencana 2014/01/30 - 02:24:32 AM

Memahami makna sebenar perpaduan

Pada hari Jumaat 31/01/2014 ini kaum Cina di negara kita akan merayakan Tahun Baru Cina. Menurut kalendar Cina, tahun ini adalah tahun Kuda Kayu. Menurut kepercayaan mereka bagi tahun ini elemen api memainkan peranan yang penting, mengatasi air. Api juga melambangkan kemarahan, rasa tidak sabar dan keresahan.

Sekiranya zodiak Cina boleh anda percayai, tahun ini juga menampakkan keadaan di mana emosi dan ketakutan akan lebih banyak menguasai ketenangan dan kewarasan. Banyak keputusan akan dibuat tanpa pertimbangan akal, kajian mendalam, kebijaksanaan dan kecerdikan. Maka itu ada tanda-tanda bahawa akan lebih banyak berlaku pergolakan dan krisis di dunia tahun ini.

Itu bukan bermakna tahun Kuda Kayu merupakan tahun yang malap atau menggerunkan. Tahun ini juga menjanjikan banyak harapan. Kuda merupakan haiwan liar sekiranya tidak dikendalikan dengan betul. Kuda membantu manusia memenangi perang. Kuda juga menjanjikan banyak peluang yang baik dalam bidang perniagaan dan dalam pembinaan kerjaya. Demikianlah ramalan tahun Kuda Kayu bagi kaum Cina.

Mungkin sudah terlalu lama kita mengabaikan soal perpaduan. Atau mengambil mudah hal itu. Bila terhantuk baru terngadah, demikianlah peribahasa Melayu. Ini soal masa depan negara kita. Dalam negara pelbagai kaum, kita tidak ada pilihan melainkan memastikan wujudnya keharmonian kaum.

Beraya bersama-sama

Bagi sebahagian besar daripada kita, Tahun Baru Cina merupakan salah satu daripada beberapa perayaan penting negara. Banyak daripada kita yang mengambil cuti dan menggunakannya untuk melancong atau sekadar berehat di rumah. Bagi yang lain, ini merupakan peluang untuk merayakan bersama-sama teman-teman kaum Cina.

Perayaan kaum untuk sekian lama tidak pernah dilihat
daripada kacamata keagamaan semata-mata. Hari Raya, Tahun Baru Cina, Deepavali, Hari Gawai, Tadau Keamatan dan lain-lain lagi merupakan perayaan yang dirayakan oleh semua kaum. Suku kaum di Sabah dan Sarawak memberikan makna yang sebenar konsep 1Malaysia dengan menjadikan perayaan suku kaum sebagai acara bersama sejak sekian lama.

Hari Raya, Tahun Baru Cina dan Deepavali juga menjadi perayaan yang dikongsi oleh semua kaum. Perayaan seperti inilah yang memberikan kesempatan rakyat Malaysia mendekati satu sama lain. Inilah bukti integrasi yang sebenar. Pemahaman terhadap budaya satu sama lain menjadi teras perpaduan negara.

Sayang sekali soal perpaduan kini perlu dilihat semula secara jujur. Pelbagai isu yang berbangkit merenggangkan perpaduan kaum di negara ini. Soal politik, bahasa, agama – semuanya menjauhkan kita. Sistem pendidikan vernakular menjadikan anak-anak kita tidak berinteraksi seperti yang sepatutnya pada peringkat awal lagi. Isu keagamaan menjadi semakin sensitif hari ini.

Penubuhan Majlis Perundingan Perpaduan Nasional (MPPN) menunjukkan betapa perlu isu perpaduan ini ditangani secara jujur dan terbuka. Sebenarnya kerajaan tidak ada pilihan. Majlis ini diminta membuat cadangan langkah-langkah praktikal ke arah perpaduan sebenar.

Tuntut tindakan serius

Ini isu serius yang menuntut tindakan serius. Sudah pastilah ada pihak yang mencurigai keberkesanan majlis ini. Malang juga kerana mesyuaratnya yang pertama pada 6 Januari lalu ditenggelami oleh kontroversi tindakan Jabatan Agama Islam Selangor (JAIS) ke atas Persatuan Bible Malaysia (PBM).

Memang majlis ini tidak mempunyai Lampu Aladdin untuk menyelesaikan semua masalah perpaduan. Perpaduan kaum di negara ini merupakan isu panjang yang berdaki dengan tradisi dan sejarah juga prasangka dan keraguan. Hari ini isu perpaduan merupakan isu nasional yang kritikal.

Selepas Peristiwa 13 Mei 1969, isu perpaduan dianggap amat penting. Maka itu pelbagai program dan kempen disediakan. Rukun negara diwujudkan sebagai tiang seri dan prinsip kerukunan bersama. Kempen muhibah dan perpaduan dilaksanakan secara berterusan menggunakan semua media yang ada ketika itu.

Mungkin kaedah lama yang cuba menggandingkan suntikan elemen patriotisme, jingoisme dan propaganda tidak sesuai lagi untuk rakyat Malaysia hari ini. Tetapi semangat kempen itu masih penting. Mahu tidak mahu kita harus menerima hakikat bahawa isu kerenggangan kaum perlu diatasi segera.

Mungkin sudah terlalu lama kita mengabaikan soal perpaduan. Atau mengambil mudah hal itu. Bila terhantuk baru terngadah, demikianlah peribahasa Melayu. Ini soal masa depan negara kita. Dalam negara pelbagai kaum, kita tidak ada pilihan melainkan memastikan wujudnya keharmonian kaum.

Indonesia memberikan tumpuan pada pembinaan negara bangsa menggunakan bahasa sebagai paksinya. Namun demikian mereka juga berdepan dengan masalah perpaduan untuk jangka panjang. Kita mungkin menghabiskan terlalu banyak masa mencorakkan kemajuan ekonomi lalu mengabaikan aspek pembinaan negara bangsa yang sebenar. Inilah masa untuk membuat perubahan.

Masanya belum terlambat. Dalam kita menghormati perayaan Tahun Baru Cina kali ini, elok juga direnungkan makna persefahaman dan kerukunan bagi kita semua. Demi masa depan bersama. Kepada semua pembaca Cina: Gong Xi Fa Cai.


Johan Jaafar Berita Harian Online Rencana 30/01/2014

10 things you should know about Chinese New Year

AGELESS TRADITIONS: The Lunar New Year is around the corner and during this festival, many families abide by a set of beliefs and superstitions to start off the year on the right foot. Tan Choe Choe shares 10 enduring ones that are still observed



1. GIVING  'ANG POW'

In the old days, the elders would thread together coins using a red string. This string of money is called yasui qian, which means "money to ward off evil spirits", and would be placed under the pillows of their young to protect them from sickness and misfortune.

Over time, as paper money replaced coins and the printing industry took off, the red strings were replaced with red envelopes and the coins replaced with notes. Gradually, yasui qian became known as ang pow or hong bao (red packets) or lai see (good luck). Today, it is given by elders and the married to children and those who are single, and is regarded as a blessing.

2. CLEANING THE HOUSE


In the weeks before the Lunar New Year, many Chinese folk would spring-clean their houses to wash away remaining bad luck from the previous year and have the houses ready to receive the good fortune that the new year will bring in. For those who might "forget" to do so, there is a rhyming Cantonese saying often bandied about to remind them to clean the house: Ninyabaat, sai lad tad (On the 28th of the last month of the year, wash away the dirt). This does not mean that the cleaning up is only to be done on that particular day, but rather, it is a reminder to do so, with the big day just a couple of sunsets away.

Then, on New Year's Eve, all brooms, dusters and brushes would have to be put away, as there must be no sweeping or dusting done on the dawn of the New Year. This is to prevent good fortune from being swept away.

After the first day of the New Year, the floors may be swept, but sweeping must be done with inward strokes, where dust and rubbish are swept from the periphery of the house to its centre, before being carried out through the back door in dustpans.

3. SETTING A PRECEDENT FOR THE REST OF THE YEAR ON THE FIRST DAY

All debts have to be repaid before the first day of the Lunar New Year. And when the big day arrives, nothing should be lent on the day itself. This is to ensure that the year starts off on the right note and remains that way throughout the year.

By the same token, one must refrain from cursing or using bad or unlucky words. Negative terms and references, like "death" or "dying", should be avoided. Ghost stories are also taboo.

On this day, misbehaving children are tolerated and not punished because it is believed that if you cry on the first day of the New Year, you will cry or have reasons to cry throughout the year.

4. STAYING UP LATE TO GUARD PARENTS' LONGEVITY

Children often stay up as late as possible on New Year's Eve because it is believed that the later they stay up, the longer their parents will live. This practice is called sau sui in Cantonese, which means "guarding parents' longevity".

5. NO KNIVES, SCISSORS AND HAIR-CUTTING

It is believed that knives or scissors should be avoided on New Year's Day, as using them symbolises the cutting away of good fortune. While some families still abide by this belief, other modern Chinese folk find it to be impractical, especially if one needs to cook on that day.

For the same reason -- to ensure good fortune and prosperity -- haircuts need to be done before the New Year, as cutting hair on New Year's Day is considered bad luck. The word for hair is fa or hua in Chinese, both being homonymic to the Chinese word for "prosperity".

6. SPECIAL PRAYERS ON THE EIGHTH DAY

The eighth day of the Lunar New Year is also known as the Hokkien New Year. Legend has it that the Hokkiens were once hunted by an enemy clan just before the New Year and were forced to hide in a sugarcane plantation to avoid being massacred. Failing to capture the Hokkiens, the enemies left. This allowed the Hokkiens to come out of hiding in the early hours of the morning on the ninth day of the New Year.

To give thanks to the Jade Emperor God, Tian Gong, who is the ruler of the heavens, for keeping them safe, the Hokkiens offered special prayers starting after midnight of the eighth day, with the ritual involving sugarcane. To this day, the tradition remains well-observed by the Hokkien community.

The eighth day also happens to be the Jade Emperor's birthday, so other Chinese clans also honour him with food and incense offerings.

7. NO SHOE-SHOPPING

In this age of retail, perhaps this may be hard to imagine. Yet, many Chinese, urban or rural, young or old, still observe this tradition because the term for shoes in a few Chinese dialects, including Cantonese and Hakka, is hai, which is similar to the sound of sighing.

The Chinese equate sighing to times of sadness, frustration and helplessness, so they will avoid starting off the Lunar New Year with hai.

8. CELEBRATING EVERYONE'S BIRTHDAY ON THE SEVENTH DAY

The seventh day of the New Year is known as renre or yan yat, which means "the common person's birthday". On this day, everyone symbolically grows one year older.

In Malaysia and Singapore, it has become a tradition to celebrate this day with loved ones by tossing and eating yee sang, and wishing one another continued good health and prosperity. Good wishes would be shouted during the tossing of the raw fish salad, with some meals escalating to fun shouting matches.

Other countries with a large Chinese community, such as Hong Kong, are also adopting the yee sang culture.

9. WEAR RED, BUT NOT BLACK OR WHITE

It is no secret that the Chinese regard red as a lucky colour. They also think that a bright, fiery red is able to keep away bad spirits and misfortune, an association borne from the story of how the Nian, a mythical creature that used to terrorise a Chinese village, was found to be afraid of the colour red and the noise of fireworks and firecrackers.

So, do wear more red if you are visiting Chinese friends this festive season, but never show up in an all-black or white outfit, as it symbolises bad luck and death.

10. COOK A LOT TO ENSURE A SURPLUS IN THE NEW YEAR

The most important meal of the year is perhaps the Reunion Dinner, which is eaten on New Year's Eve when family members return from far and wide for the celebration. In accordance with the Chinese tradition of honouring the elderly, the venue for the meal would be the house of the most senior member of the family.

The dinner would usually be the largest and most sumptuous meal of the year. A lot of food would be prepared to ensure that there would be leftovers for the next day, the first day of the New Year. In addition to many meat dishes, fish is also a popular dish, as the term for fish is yu, corresponding to "surplus" in the Chinese saying, nian nian you yu (may there be surpluses every year), to herald blessings of prosperity and abundance.



NST Nation General 26/01/2014

2014: The Year of the Wooden Horse

FIERY YEAR AHEAD: Chinese metaphysics expert Sherwin Ng shares with Tan Choe Choe his forecast for the year of the Wooden Horse

What’s in store for 2014?

In the year of the Wood Horse, the most dominant element is Fire. Fire element industries, therefore, will generally do well. These industries include oil and gas, airlines, restaurants, IT, electronics, metaphysics, and spiritual studies. With Fire being extremely prosperous, it does indicate a general impatience, volatility, and unrest in the minds of people. In the year’s birth chart, the element of Water is missing, indicating a lack of ideas and deeper thoughts. Put these two situations together, we will see a tendency for more fighting and quarrels across the world. Fire-related natural disasters are also to be expected, such as volcano eruptions, earthquakes, and also forest fires.

The second most prominent element of the year is Wood. Therefore, Wood industries, such as education, printing, fashion, herbs and botany, are expected to continue flourishing. The Earth element, in the presence of extreme Fire, starts to harden. This indicates obstructions and lethargy in Earth industries, such as property and real estate. The Metal element, which is weak in the year’s birth chart, also indicates challenges in sectors such as finance, the auto industry, and machinery. Changes in the legal system and financial trends are to be expected when strong Fire melts Metal. However, with the Water element missing, a lot of big decisions will be made based on emotions and fear, rather than wisdom and intelligent reasoning. The year will also see Water-related industries, such as tourism, travel, and fishery, slowing down.

Feng Shui for the Year

The danger zone for the year is in the Northwest sector. You can check this no-touch zone by using a compass and measuring it from the centre of your home or office.

This sector should not be renovated or “activated” with even as simple an act as nailing from February 4 onwards until the end of the Wooden Horse year. In short, it should be largely left alone, with little or no activities held in this sector because activating this sector will trigger negative Qi that will bring about possible accidents and injuries.

The Wealth Star of the year is in the South. Using this sector as your bedroom or office room can bring about financial opportunities, as well as gradual career advancement.

The most positive sector for the year is actually the Southwest sector, where the One White Noble Star and the Sun Star are present. Those who already have a Southwest sector door can expect financial increase, as well as meet extremely helpful people this year. You can choose to activate this sector of the building with a water feature that is gentle-moving, but of substantial size. The constant movement of water activates the positive Qi of the Stars here.
Meanwhile, the Star of Power and Authority resides in the West sector. Activating this sector will bring about recognition and opportunities for career advancement.

Welcoming the God of Wealth

Just a little after midnight on the first day of Chinese New Year (Jan 31, 2014), at precisely 12.15am, is an extremely auspicious time, based on the configuration of stars affecting Earth at that moment.

There are three notable stars you can tune into to get the maximum positive effects to kick-start your new year. They are the Wealth Star, which is also known as the proverbial God of Wealth, the Happiness Star, and the Nobility Star.
For those who wish to skip the ceremonies and cultural aspect, all you really need is to light a nice candle and have a bowl of water in front of you. Sit facing the direction you require, relax your breathing, and make a wish or prayer for what you want.

The Wealth Star resides in the Northwest, so you need to face this direction that night to manifest and wish for wealth-related pursuits, business opportunities, and financial growth. For relationships and personal happiness, the Happiness Star is in the South, so for those looking for that special someone, make a wish in this direction. Lastly, the Nobility Star, for those seeking help and guidance, lies in the East.

Good Dates to Start Work
Feb 4 (5th Day of CNY) Best hour — 9am (not suitable for those born in the year of the Rat)
Feb 10 (11th Day of CNY) Best hour — 9am (not suitable for those born in the year of the Horse)
Feb 8 (9th Day of CNY) Best hour — 9am (not suitable for those born in the year of the Dragon)


Chinese New Year Animal Decorations by Emily Readett-Bayley



Source http://www.poshgraffiti.com/c/chinese-new-year-hanging-decorations



Top 3 Positive Animal Signs of 2014

1. Goat [1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991, 2003]
The Goat constellation contains the Sun Star this year, indicative of fame, financial opportunities and reputation increase. The Sun Star also helps dissolve any problems, and generally attracts the right people and enhances decision making. For those born in the month of the Goat (July 7 - Aug 6), expect new career opportunities or a career promotion. The Sun Star favours the bold, therefore be more active in taking risks this year. For those born in the hour of the Goat (1pm - 3pm), you are affected by the Sky Emptiness Star, which denotes loneliness, and attachment to past lonely experiences. As such, it is wise to not spend too much time alone and seek out your friends — go to parties! This is also not the best star for new intimate relationships.

2. Rabbit [1915, 1927, 1939, 1951, 1963, 1975, 1987, 1999, 2011]
The Rabbit constellation contains the Sky Happiness Star, Fortune Noble Star, Heavenly Noble Star and the Prosperity Star. For those born in the year of the Rabbit, it is a year for building relationships, networking, and exchanging favours. With the effects of the many positive stars, people will find you more attractive, approachable, and easy to work with. Therefore, expect more opportunities, as well as offers for joint ventures, partnerships and collaborations. This is especially true for those born in the month of the Rabbit (March 6 - April 4). In terms of personal relationships, Rabbits will enjoy deeper and more meaningful ones. For those born in the hour of the Rabbit (5am - 7am), capitalise on your creative ideas and marketing plans. The only slight drawback comes from two negative Stars — the Salty Pool and the Twisted Tongue — which indicates some back-stabbing and envy from insignificant others.

3. Ox [1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009]
The Ox Palace contains the Emperor Star, and the Dragon Noble Star. This is an extremely powerful combination that, once again, dissolves all problems and difficult situations. This also means that it is the perfect year for those born in the year of the Ox to sort out old issues or repair relationships. For those born in the month of the Ox (Jan 6 - Feb 3), they can also expect positive career growth, new opportunities, and a helping hand from those around them. Remember: ask and you shall receive. Even in terms of relationships, you are expected to be proactive. Take the first step and make things happen. Towards the middle of the year, some minor obstacles and delays are to be expected, but these are challenges that should not be too difficult for the Ox to surmount. For those born in the hour of the Ox (1am - 3pm), you may feel compelled towards perfectionism and correcting others, especially those around you, who may find this slightly annoying.

Top 3 Most Challenged Animal Signs for 2014

1. Tiger [1914, 1926, 1938, 1950, 1962, 1974, 1986, 1998, 2010]
The Tiger constellation contains zero positive Stars, and a host of negative Stars, such as the White Tiger, Earth Killings, and Greater Killings. Therefore, this is a year of caution, with a focus on health and personal well-being. Stay put, maintain a low profile, maintain the status quo. This is not the right time for big projects, changing jobs, or starting a new business. This includes not only those born in the Tiger year, but also those born in the Tiger month (Feb 4 - March 5), and Tiger hour (3am - 5am). Go for a thorough medical check-up, with a focus on the spine, the heart, or the head. Obviously, it’s also not a fantastic year for relationships, so remember to stay out of any dramatic situations, and exercise your right to remain silent.

2. Rat [1912, 1924, 1936, 1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008]
The Rat constellation is also occupied by a host of negative Stars, such as the Sky Cry, Great Consumer, Calamity Killings, and the Fence. Also being in direct opposition to the year of the Horse, you will find that the people around you and your working environment seem to be against you. Stay calm and don’t react with anger. This also affects those born in the month of the Rat (Dec 7 - Jan 5), or the Rat hour (11pm - 1am). This is a good year to meditate, learn yoga, and basically reflect and restructure your personal life and goals. Those born in the Rat hour may also fall into escapism tendencies and indulge in relationships, food, or other substances. Always remember, stay practical and stay realistic. The Great Consumer Star indicates unexpected expenditures, so it would be wise to budget your expenses carefully.

3. Monkey [1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004]
For those born in the year of Monkey, you have one positive Star, which is the Sky Horse Star. This is helpful for travelling to seek new opportunities, or for those in sales, which require a lot of moving around. In fact, those born in the month of the Monkey (Aug 7 - Sep 7), should explore opportunities from afar, or change locations. The negative Stars present are the Solitary Loneliness, Funeral Door, and Earth Funeral. These three indicate a less ideal health condition and also a slight sense of depression. For those born in the hour of the Monkey (3pm - 5pm), avoid attending any funerals or hospital visits this year, due to your weaker immune system. Relationship-wise, it is considered unstable due to the Sky Horse Star.

The Remaining Animals (In no particular order)

Horse [1918, 1930, 1942, 1954, 1966, 1978, 1990, 2002]
In the year of the Horse, the Horse itself doesn’t do too badly, despite having the Self-Punishment Formation (beware of self-sabotaging behaviour, or developing new bad habits such as smoking, gambling or drinking). With the presence of the Golden Lock Star, supported by the General Star, overall financial gain and career improvement can be expected. This especially applies to those being employed to others or those climbing the corporate ladder. The effects are doubled for those born in the month of the Horse (June 6 - July 6). Those born in the hour of the Horse (11am - 1pm), are affected by the Triple Punishment Star, the Hidden Corpse, and the Sword Edge, which indicates miscommunication and arguments with significant others and family. Be careful of saying things you don’t mean. Healthwise, it is also not the best time to try out extreme sports, such as bungee jumping or rock climbing.

Rooster [1921, 1933, 1945, 1957, 1969, 1981, 1993, 2005]
Those born in the year of the Rooster can expect a fantastic financial year, making this a good year for investments as well, due to the Moon Star, which is one of the major Wealth Stars in astrology. There will also be help or useful advice from females. The effects are doubled for those born in the month of the Rooster (Sept 8 - Oct 7). The Red Matchmaker Star also makes it a wonderful relationship year, especially for those seeking new relationships. Generally, the people you meet are positive minded and sincere. Have fun and mingle! Healthwise, the Goat Blade Star indicates injury and problems with the knees or feet. Be extra careful while jogging or even walking, especially in the month of March and September. This is especially true for those born in the hour of the Rooster (5pm - 7pm).

Dog [1922, 1934, 1946, 1958, 1970, 1982, 1994, 2006]
The Dog constellation contains the positive Stars of Earth Relief, Elegant Seal, and National Treasure. Overall career and finances will see positive improvements, especially for those in the creative industries. With the presence of the Five Ghost Star and the Officer Talisman Star, be mindful of legal problems or fines. This is also true for those born in the month of the Dog (Oct 8 - Nov 6), or the hour of the dog (7pm - 9pm). Relationship-wise, things may not go as smoothly. However, it is a good year for self-improvement and cultivation.

Pig [1923, 1935, 1947, 1959, 1971, 1983, 1995, 2007]
For those born in the year of Pig, the Monthly Noble Star ensures that you get the help that you need throughout the year. Generally, things will be smooth and not too stressful. The Lesser Consumer Star indicates sudden expenditures, so what you can do at the start of the year is to make a list of the things that you need to buy — and go get them. For those born in the hour of the Pig (9pm - 11pm), you will be more affected by the Death Talisman Star, which indicates a less than ideal health condition and lower energy levels. Remember to eat right and exercise. Relationship-wise, for the Pig, is a rather stable year.

Dragon [1916, 1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012]
Those born in the year of the Dragon can expect to meet the right people and to be at the right place at the right time. They are affected by the Sky Relief Star and the Relief God Star. Both are extremely useful for problem-solving and getting help from others. Relationship-wise, the Loneliness Star and the Leopard Tail Star indicate a volatile temperament, which will affect communication and cause misunderstandings. For this year, if you have nothing nice to say, it is better not to say anything. Healthwise, we have the Blood Knife, Sky Dog and the Sinking Star, which indicates lethargy and a sluggish digestive system. But do also take note that with the presence of the two powerful positive Stars, any health problems can be fixed once and for all this year! This is especially true for those born in the hour of the Dragon (7am - 9am).

Snake [1917, 1929, 1941, 1953, 1965, 1977, 1989, 2001, 2013]
Those born in the year of the Snake are governed by the Literary Star, which is excellent for those in the academic or writing industries. The Death God Star brings a tendency to overwork, jeopardising your health. Remember to take a break when you need it, despite your creative juices constantly flowing. The Illness Talisman Star in your constellation generally suppresses the immune system, especially for those born in the hour of the Snake (9am - 11am). Relationship-wise, there are no big changes, but with the presence of the Literary Star, expect to meet more interesting and diverse personalities.



Tan Choe Choe NST Nation General27/01/2014

CNY reunion dinner means a lot to me

YEAR OF THE HORSE: Spring cleaning and being together are part of festive rites

WITHIN just a day after bells go jingle all the way, the thundering sound of Chinese drums and  crashing of cymbals filled the air in most parts of Kuching.

In some parts of town, they have totally ignored Christmas tunes, but displayed Christmas decorations for sale alongside Chinese New Year decorations in their shops last month.

The city is painted red with Chinese New Year decorations, and the most obvious ones are in Padungan and Kenyalang Park, as many would throng these two places to get their celebration goodies -- smoked meat or locally known as bak poh or bak kwa in the peninsula, Mandarin oranges, glutinous rice cakes or nian gao and also Sarawak's famous kek lapis.

But closer to home, Chinese New Year is the time for my family to be reunited, cleaning the house and watching mum bake our favourite kuih makmur, or kuih momo, as my family calls it. It is the perfect time to let our guard down and share these precious moments.

Although we live in the same house, we hardly spend time together. My eldest sister is always busy with her business, my second sister is often caught up with work and yoga classes, while my younger sister seems to have endless college assignments and catching up with her friends most of the time.

For me, having a few days off together with my sisters and helping mum with spring cleaning is quality time spent as we are bound to dig out some old toys, albums and small notes in the store, and fond memories and laugher would surely ensue.

While our satellite television would continue to screen Chinese New Year programmes and songs, it tends to get stale as the shows would have singers dressed up in cheongsams, holding Mandarin oranges, lion dancers hopping around, fire crackers in the background and the annoyingly loud drum and cymbals. But I have to admit, this staleness is what makes Chinese New Year merry.

On the eve of the celebration, everyone will be home before 5pm to help mum prepare dinner and this happens only once a year in my family. On normal days, we have our meals at different times, at different places with different people.

Though we do have our family dinner once in a while, someone would surely go missing due to appointments. and so on.

That is what makes the reunion dinner an important occasion where most Chinese believe food brings the family together.

On our dinner table, the must-have dishes would be steamed chicken, pak lou duck, steamed fish, vinegar pork leg, stir fried garlic mixed vegetables and sea cucumber soup.

Over this side of the country, yee sang or yu shang is not really our thing and it is considered something fancy. Traditionally, it is a Cantonese thing and not all Chinese have the dish.

When I was young, I got excited over the unlimited supply of cakes, sweets, chocolates, soft drinks and ang pow as those were the days I could eat "peacefully" without mum yelling and stopping me.

The celebrations have changed over the years thanks to development and better living standards.

My 60-year-old mum used to tell me that the Lunar New Year meant so much to them as they finally could have a whole chicken, a whole duck and a big fish on the table on the eve. Besides, soft drinks (in a glass bottle) were available at home only during the celebration.

On normal days, they could afford only certain parts of the chicken or duck and there was no way they could afford extra money for soft drinks.

My grandfather was a factory worker with six children to feed, so to buy new clothes, dresses and shoes for all the children was beyond his means.

My grandmother would sew new dresses and a pair of pyjamas for the girls while the boys would have their long pants and a shirt.

Mum said her parents always reminded her that no matter how poor a Chinese family was, the Lunar New Year must still be celebrated with joy and happiness to ensure a good year ahead.

In this modern era, many do's and don'ts, such as one must wear red on the first day, do not sweep the floor or do not break any glasses, have been slowly neglected and forgotten.

But this depends on family tradition, practice and culture, as some do not mind or feel it is merely superstitious to follow all unwritten rules. For myself, the most important thing is to be with loved ones.

In recent years, the Chinese New Year season also reminds me of my late grandma who passed away two years ago, as there is that little emptiness on our dinner table.

The Chinese Lunar New Year is a time for festive cheer among family and friends. Pic by Mas Adib Saie



Goh Pei Pei NST Opinion Columnist29/01/2014

Ma Chai trots out good horse sense

HORSE POWER: The equine symbol of the Chinese zodiac represents prosperity, unless one is really adamant about stirring up trouble

A MYSTICAL equine-like fellow, who called himself Ma Chai, visited me in my dream with the Year of the Horse just a trot away.

Ma Chai, whose name in Chinese means "son of the horse", said: "Your country is very special to me because its name is the same as mine."

Indeed, the "Ma" in Malaysia uses the same Chinese character for horse. In fact, Malaysia is known as "Big Horse" or "Tai Ma" in the Chinese-speaking world.

"I can see Malaysia galloping down the road to prosperity if it takes the right course," said Ma Chai.




That coming from Ma Chai, is as good as coming from the horse's mouth as he is often considered as a bringer of good fortune.

The last time Ma Chai dropped in on Malaysia, it was 12 years ago. At that time, he divined prosperity for the country and sure enough, the Malaysian economy thrived in 2002, amid a challenging external environment. For that year, gross domestic product expanded by 4.2 per cent compared with 0.4 per cent in 2001.

But Ma Chai sees a tough road ahead for the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA), which is also known as "Ma Hwa" or "horse Chinese", after a divisive three-horse presidential race last month.

"MCA will have to work like a horse to get going again. But like a thoroughbred, it has the political pedigree to work with its Barisan Nasional partners to provide peace, prosperity and stability for Malaysians," he said.

I really wish that the Year of the Horse portends good fortune for Malaysia. The Year of the Snake (2013), with all its troubles, has really been venomous and we will all be happy to see it slither away.

The Horse is a noble creature and its character stands for personal strength, wisdom and determination. Of the 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac, only the horse and dragon are used by the Chinese as family names.

Not surprisingly, paintings or pictures of horses often adorn the homes and offices of the Chinese community, especially in the business sector.

Before disappearing, Ma Chai said: "Ma-laysia boleh" and offered Malaysians some advice for the coming Year of the Horse:

MALAYSIANS must ride together like a great herd on the road of unity, which is to take the middle road, and not stray into the course of prejudice or bigotry;

THEY must rein in mistrust and scepticism while giving faith and hope a chance;

HOLD your horses and don't easily get spooked or be emotional. Listen to the voice of reason and show tolerance and empathy over issues affecting fellow Malaysians;

DON'T back the wrong horse if you have to choose sides. Think carefully;

ADD more horsepower to the workplace and help boost the country's economy by working hard;

THINK a bit longer or more; don't change horses in mid-stream;

USE common sense in your daily life. And this should lead to enough horse sense in our society to make life less complicated;

DON'T lepak and don't horse around too much in the workplace;

BE efficient and decisive. Don't wait till the horse has bolted to lock the stable door;

IF you are celebrating Chinese New Year, invite Malaysians of all races, including Mamat, Ma Chai and Macha to your open house; and,

IF you are a Manchester United fan, don't put too much hope on the football team this year. Manchester has been a lame horse but if you call the team Ma-chester, maybe it still has some hope.

A Happy and Horse-porous Chinese New Year to you all out there.

Chan Wai Kong | kongster@nst.com.my NST Opinion Columnist 29/01/2014

Khalid 'korban' wayang politik PKR

SEMAKIN jelas kini, apa yang dimaksudkan oleh Ahli Dewan Undangan Negeri (ADUN) Kajang, Lim Chin Cheh yang menyatakan keputusannya meletakkan jawatan itu ''untuk kepentingan bersama dan mengukuhkan kebolehan pakatan pembangkang berkhidmat untuk rakyat Selangor."

Ia berikutan langkah itu bertujuan memberi laluan kepada Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) meletakkan calon bertanding di kawasan tersebut sekali gus jika mereka berjaya dalam pilihan raya kecil yang diadakan, calon itu bakal menggantikan Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim sebagai Menteri Besar Selangor.

Ketika ini Penasihat PKR, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim yang dilihat begitu bercita-cita menjadi Perdana Menteri bersedia 'menurunkan darjat impian itu' dengan menggantikan Abdul Khalid.




Perkara itu disahkan oleh Abdul Khalid, semalam dan sekali gus mengesahkan desakan Ketua Angkatan Muda Keadilan (AMK), Shamsul Iskandar Mohd. Akin dalam satu kenyataan akhbar bahawa "berdasarkan pengalaman dan kewibawaan memimpin negara, AMK percaya Anwar ialah calon terbaik untuk bertanding kerusi DUN Selangor dan seterusnya diangkat sebagai Menteri Besar".

'' AMK percaya dengan kepimpinan beliau akan dapat menggerakkan dengan lebih pantas agenda reformasi di Selangor dan menterjemahkan konsensus nasional.

''Oleh yang demikian AMK mengambil pendirian hanya Anwar sesuai menjadi calon mewakili Pakatan Rakyat dalam Pilihan Raya Kecil DUN Kajang,'' katanya.

Kenyataan itu sekali gus bermakna rakyat sekali lagi terpaksa menyaksikan satu lagi episod memualkan daripada PKR dalam usaha memenuhi agenda politik mereka. Ia memandangkan sebelum ini sudah berlaku dua pilihan raya kecil yang dicipta dengan sengaja oleh PKR bagi tujuan itu.

Kali pertama apabila Presiden PKR, Datin Seri Dr.Wan Azizah Wan Ismail meletakkan jawatan sebagai Ahli Parlimen Permatang Pauh bagi memberi laluan kepada Anwar menguasai semula kerusi itu.

Begitu juga di DUN Penanti yang menyaksikan Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin meletak jawatan sehingga menyebabkan satu pilihan raya kecil terpaksa diadakan pada 2009.

Jika benar Anwar hendak bertanding, ia bermakna inilah kali kedua pilihan raya kecil diadakan semata-mata untuk memberi kedudukan kepada beliau.

Namun apa yang menarik untuk diperkatakan berhubung kedudukan Abdul Khalid yang akan meneruskan badi kerusi panas Menteri Besar Selangor, apabila terpaksa meninggalkan jawatan itu dalam keadaan kontroversi.

Sebelum ini nasib yang sama sudah berlaku kepada Datuk Harun Idris, Tan Sri Muhammad Muhd.Taib, Tan Sri Abu Hassan Omar dan Datuk Seri Dr.Mohamad Khir Toyo. Kesemua mereka kehilangan jawatan itu dalam keadaan yang boleh dianggap tidak rela atau terpaksa. Kecuali Dr.Mohamad Khir yang tumpas dalam pilihan raya umum, Harun, Muhammad dan Abu Hassan pula terpaksa berundur kerana isu yang dikaitkan dengan mereka.

Bagaimanapun kes melibatkan Abdul Khalid lebih unik memandangkan ia berlaku berikutan perbalahan politiknya dengan Azmin Ali apabila ADUN Bukit Antarabangsa itu digugurkan sebagai Ahli Lembaga Pengarah Perbadanan Kemajuan Negeri Selangor (PKNS).

Isu itu ditafsirkan kemuncak perbalahan politik antara Azmin dan Abdul Khalid yang berlanjutan sejak 2010. Biarpun Abdul Khalid sudah menegaskan, keputusan pengguguran itu bukan dilakukan oleh beliau, namun politik adalah berkaitan dengan persepsi.

Begitulah juga dalam isu ini, biarpun dokumen sulit mengenai kronologi pengguguran Azmin membuktikan ia bukan arahan kerajaan negeri pimpinan Abdul Khalid tetapi itu tidak bermaksud beliau 'terlepas' daripada persepsi politik.

Apatah lagi sejak beliau mengangkat sumpah sebagai Menteri Besar, hubungan Abdul Khalid dan Azmin sentiasa tegang.

Azmin merupakan pengkritik tegar kepada kepimpinan Abdul Khalid sejak tahun 2010. Isu pengguguran Azmin sebagai Ahli Lembaga Pengarah PKNS dianggap bagaikan 'gunung berapi yang memuntahkan laharnya.'

Sejak awal lagi, ramai yang sudah meramalkan Abdul Khalid akan 'terkorban' dalam pertembungan dengan Azmin yang dianggap orang kesayangan Anwar.

Biarpun Abdul Khalid cuba 'bermain wayang politik' dengan menggambarkan seolah-olah beliau sedang berusaha mempertahankan kedudukannya namun sandiwara itu tidak kekal lama. Sebaliknya, beliau akhirnya bersetuju untuk berundur asalkan bukan Azmin menjadi Menteri Besar.

Keadaan itu membuktikan, kepimpinan PKR tidak mahu melihat perbalahan antara Abdul Khalid dan Azmin berlarutan, justeru salah seorang mesti 'berkorban' atau 'terkorban' dan dalam soal ini, Abdul Khalid dilihat berada di kedua-dua posisi itu.

Ia memandangkan cengkaman politik, bekas tokoh korporat itu yang baru menceburi bidang politik kira-kira enam tahun lalu selepas dipilih menjadi calon PKR di DUN Ijok dalam pilihan raya kecil kawasan tersebut pada 2007 semakin longgar.

Abdul Khalid semakin terhimpit, terdesak dan tertekan dengan pelbagai serangan politik yang dilancarkan dengan tujuan menyingkirkan beliau daripada kerusi Menteri Besar Selangor. Walaupun pada awalnya ADUN Pelabuhan Klang itu dilihat mahu melawan gelombang yang semakin kuat menghempas perjalanan politiknya, namun akhirnya beliau mengalah.

Sudah menjadi lumrah dalam politik, seseorang pemimpin itu mungkin mampu bertahan dengan tekanan luar tetapi beliau tidak akan mampu bertahan jika tekanan berlaku dari dalam.

Begitu juga Abdul Khalid, perbalahan beliau dengan Azmin yang tercetus sejak sekian lama mampu menamatkan karier politiknya. Kalau pun tidak sekarang, mungkin akan datang.

Justeru Abdul Khalid berada dalam dilema memandang kelompok yang dianggap oleh beliau sebagai tidak bermoral kerana mendesak beliau mengundurkan diri, bukanlah calang-calang kelompok.

Mereka terdiri daripada penyokong-penyokong kuat Azmin yang merupakan antara pemimpin paling berpengaruh dalam PKR dan mempunyai hubungan yang cukup akrab dengan Anwar.

Abdul Khalid boleh sahaja bertahan bagi mengelakkan diri beliau daripada 'terkorban' dalam konflik yang berlaku tetapi persoalannya sampai bila?

Mahu tidak mahu, Abdul Khalid terpaksa menerima hakikat bahawa beliau mempunyai pilihan iaitu berkorban demi mengelakkan daripada dijatuhkan secara tidak terhormat termasuklah kemungkinan menghadapi undi tidak percaya di DUN yang bukannya akan dilakukan oleh pihak lain tetapi oleh PKR sendiri.

Bagaimanapun seperti diramalkan oleh banyak pihak, kedudukan Abdul Khalid tidak akan sampai ke peringkat tersebut kerana PKR tidak akan mengizinkannya. Itulah yang berlaku sekarang. Malangnya, dalam menyelesaikan konflik politik dalaman PKR, rakyat diseret sama apabila satu lagi pilihan raya kecil yang akan menelan kos lebih RM1 juta terpaksa diadakan.

PKR begitu lantang mengkritik kerajaan Barisan Nasional (BN) dalam menguruskan ekonomi dan kewangan negara tetapi hakikatnya mereka lebih buruk lagi kerana sanggup membenarkan satu pilihan raya kecil diadakan demi memenuhi agenda politik parti tersebut.

Mungkin ramai yang bertanya di manakah moral politik PKR kerana sanggup berbuat demikian tetapi persoalannya sejak bila pula PKR mengambil berat soal moral? Tepuk dada tanyalah hati!



Utusan Malaysia Rencana 20140129