April 27th, 2014

Pemodenan undang-undang fitnah negara

Dua tiga hari lalu saya bersembang dengan sahabat karib, seorang usahawan bergelar Datuk berasal dari Pulau Pinang tapi kini menetap di Alor Setar. Walaupun fokus perniagaan sahabat saya ini adalah bidang perhotelan, dia rajin membaca buku undang-undang, berminat menimba ilmu dalam hal-hal perundangan dan sering bertanyakan sesuatu yang ada kaitan dengan undang-undang negara. Kali ini dia bertanya kenapakah kebelakangan ini begitu kerap sekali kes-kes fitnah difailkan oleh pihak-pihak tertentu, terutamanya figura awam terhadap pertubuhan media?



Jawab saya ringkas sahaja: "lubuk emas".

Sebelum saya jawab soalannya lebih lanjut lagi, saya ingatkan beliau bahawa disebabkan kes-kes ini sudah menjadi sub judice, kita perlu berhati-hati ketika membuat komen, apatah lagi membuat spekulasi tentang keputusan kes-kes tersebut.

Kita sedia maklum bahawa antara kes membabitkan figura awam yang dimaksudkan oleh sahabat saya itu ialah saman fitnah oleh Ketua Menteri Pulau Pinang, Lim Guan Eng terhadap pemimpin Perkasa Negeri Sembilan, Ruslan Kassim dan enam defendan yang lain. Selain itu, ada saman fitnah yang difailkan oleh Ketua Pembangkang Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim terhadap Utusan Melayu (M) Bhd.

Tuntutan Lim adalah berasaskan satu laporan atau rencana yang disiarkan oleh Utusan Malaysia dan New Straits Times pada 2 Oktober 2011, manakala tuntutan Anwar pula adalah berhubung isu pencerobohan rakyat asing di Lahad Datu, Sabah.

Saya ingatkan sahabat saya itu tentang konsep kebebasan akhbar yang terkandung dalam Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Artikel 19 dokumen penting itu menyatakan, antara lain, bahawa "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression..."

Di peringkat negara kita pula, kebebasan ini dijamin dalam Perkara 10 Perlembangaan Persekutan (kebebasan bercakap, berhimpun dan berpersatuan). Walau bagaimanapun, kebebasan akhbar yang dijanjikan di bawah Perlembagaan ini bukan sesuatu yang mutlak kerana Fasal (4) Perkara 10 itu menyatakan bahawa Parlimen boleh menerusi undang-undang menghalang kebebasan itu.

Selain itu, kebebasan akhbar ini dihadkan oleh pelbagai undang-undang lain, termasuklah undang-undang fitnah, hasutan, penghinaan mahkamah, undang-undang privasi, undang-undang rahsia rasmi dan sebagainya.

Antara masalah besar yang dihadapi organisasi media tempatan pada masa ini ialah undang-undang fitnah kita, yang terkandung dalam Akta Fitnah 1957, sudah usang dan ketinggalan zaman.

Undang-undang fitnah kita dipadankan kepada undang-undang Inggeris lama (Akta Fitnah mereka pada tahun 1952). Malangnya undang-undang Inggeris itu terus diperbaharui dan dikemas kini untuk mengambil kira perkembangan semasa, tetapi kita gagal berbuat demikian.

Situasi ini berlaku mungkin kerana kita tidak ada satu Suruhanjaya Pembaharuan Undang-Undang (Law Reform Commission).

Perlu ditegaskan bahawa di beberapa negara Barat, sekiranya ada pengamal media disaman oleh figura awam (artis, tokoh politik, orang kenamaan dan sebagainya), pengamal media menikmati hak pembelaan yang dinamakan responsible journalism (kewartawanan bertanggungjawab). Malangnya, kita miskin undang-undang; perkembangan sedemikian itu masih lagi belum berlaku di negara ini.

Pada 2009 lalu, Mahkamah Agung Kanada ada menyatakan bahawa undang-undang fitnah berasaskan common law di takuk lama tidak sewajarnya terus dipakai. Dalam kes Grant v. Torstar Corp. (2009) SCC 61, mahkamah itu memutuskan bahawa had dan batasan yang dikenakan kepada kebebasan bersuara di negara itu hendaknya tidak terlalu luas hingga mengekang kebebasan bersuara.

Mahkamah Agung Kanada itu seterusnya menyatakan jika dalam satu kes saman media itu, wartawan yang menulis artikel atau komen itu bertindak penuh bertanggungjawab (memastikan kebenaran fakta yang menjadi asas artikel atau komen itu), dan perkara yang ditulis itu ada kaitan dengan kepentingan awam, wartawan itu boleh menggunakan pembelaan itu.

Sambil menyatakan bahawa undang-undang fitnah yang sedia ada "had a chilling effect on press freedom", mahkamah juga menegaskan bahawa pembelaan ini boleh digunakan bukan hanya apabila perkara yang ditulis atau disiarkan itu melibatkan figura awam, malahan sesiapa sahaja, asalkan apa yang disiarkan itu ada kepentingan awam.

Terdahulu, semasa kes didengar di Mahkamah Rayuan, Hakim Robert J. Sharpe menyatakan bahawa undang-undang fitnah Kanada tidak sewajarnya terus menerus mengorbankan kebebasan bersuara hanya untuk melindungi reputasi ("Canadian libel law should no longer sacrifice freedom of expression in order to protect reputations").

Ekoran keberanian serta kesanggupan mahkamah mengiktiraf pembelaaan responsible journalism itu, undang-undang fitnah di beberapa negara (termasuklah di Britain, Australia, New Zealand, Afrika Selatan dan Amerika Syarikat) diperbaharui dan dikemas kini.

Inisiatif

Dalam bahasa mudah yang boleh difahami oleh rakyat biasa, mahkamah telah mengambil inisiatif, menunjukkan jalan bagaimana badan perundangan di negara berkenaan sewajarnya bertindak.

Soalnya, bilakah perkara seperti ini boleh berlaku di Malaysia? Disebabkan Parlimen kita terus membiarkan Akta Fitnah kita dalam keadaan lapuk dan usang, apakah pengamal undang-undang kita sudah cukup arif dan bertenaga berhujah dan meyakinkan institusi kehakiman negara kita untuk membuat pembaharuan yang dikehendaki?

Di peringkat inilah dalam perbualan saya dengan sahabat, beliau mencelah dan bertanya apakah mahkamah kita boleh berbuat demikan? Tidakkah peranan mahkamah hanya mentafsir dan mengisytiharkan undang-undang, manakala peranan membuat dan membaharui undang-undang itu adalah tugas dan peranan Parlimen? Tidakkah itu yang dimaksudkan oleh ungkapan ‘judges declare the law, not make new law’?

Jawapan saya mudah sahaja. Saya ingatkan sahabat saya itu pastinya dia masih ingat satu kes yang pernah dibaca olehnya, iaitu kes Donogue v Stevenson (1932). Dalam kes itu House of Lords telah menggariskan asas baru undang-undang kecuaian. Jika tidak kerana kes ini, undang-undang kecuaian yang kita ada sekarang di negara ini tidak akan wujud.

Lord Radcliffe, dalam sebuah bukunya Not in Feather Beds yang diterbitkan dalam tahun 1968, ada berkata; "There was never a more sterile controversy than upon the question whether a judge makes law. Of course he does. How can he help it?"

Lord Reid juga, dalam ucapannya pada satu ketika ada berkata; "We do not believe in fairy tales any more, so we must accept the fact that for better or worse judges do make law." Hakim yang terkenal ini juga pernah menyatakan; "Developing or creating new law is inevitable to do justice, or to bring law in line with social changes."

Lord Denning juga pernah berkata; "The judges do every day make law, though it is almost heresy to say so."

Kembali kepada "lubuk emas" yang saya sebutkan tadi, saya ingatkan sahabat saya disebabkan pembelaan responsible journalism ini tidak wujud (belum diiktiraf) di negara ini, pengamal media yang menjadi defendan dalam kes-kes fitnah yang difailkan oleh figura awam tempatan ini terpaksa terus berdepan dengan tuntutan ganti rugi berjuta ringgit.

Dalam banyak kes yang telah diputuskan sebelum ini, pengamal media yang dijadikan defendan hanya berperanan melaporkan (menyiarkan semula) secara jujur dan betul (tanpa menokok tambah) tanpa niat jahat (malice) perkara yang pertama kali diucapkan oleh pihak lain. Disebabkan defendan dikenal pasti sebagai soft targets yang mempunyai dompet tebal (berbanding barangkali dompet tipis pihak lain yang mengucapkan kata-kata yang didakwa memfitnah itu), kadangkala plaintif langsung tidak menamakan pihak lain itu, sebaliknya menamakan pengamal media berkenaan sahaja sebagai defendan utama.

Soalan mutakhir sahabat kepada saya pada hari itu berbunyi; "Apa jadinya kalau peguam kita tidak mampu berhujah dan meyakinkan hakim kita? Apa jadi kalaupun sudah dihujah oleh peguam, hakim kita tidak berani atau tidak bersedia mengiktiraf pembelaan itu?"

Jawapan saya andainya itu berlaku, prospek pemodenan undang-undang fitnah kita amat tipis sekali. Pengamal media (serta majikan/organisasi mereka) akan terus menjadi lubuk emas kepada sesiapa sahaja yang mendakwa diri mereka telah difitnah.

SALLEH BUANG ialah penganalisis undang-undang. Utusan Rencana 20140427

Semakin kurang cintai bahasa Melayu?

Sejak Pidato Bahasa Melayu (PABM) Piala Perdana Menteri diperkenalkan pada 2007, saya cuma membaca beritanya. Tetapi Khamis lalu saya berpeluang menonton pusingan separuh akhir PABM 2014 di Pusat Kesenian Dan Kebudayaan Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah, Universiti Putra Malaysia secara langsung.

Walaupun bukan bahasa ibunda mereka, tetapi 12 peserta kategori antarabangsa yang membentangkan hujah dalam bahasa Melayu, dengan gaya persembahan yang menarik, sungguh mengagumkan saya.

Peserta-peserta pidato menguasai bahasa Melayu dengan baik. Idea mereka juga menarik malah ada isi pidatonya mantap.

Pada saya, bukan soal kemenangan jadi topik minggu ini. Tetapi mesej tersirat daripada beberapa peserta PABM 2014 dalam hujah mereka.

Saya terkedu apabila peserta dari Korea Selatan, Kim Woo Jung berdiri di pentas pidato lalu meluahkan rasa kecewa dengan sikap pelajar warga Malaysia.

Dia telah mempelajari bahasa Melayu hampir tiga tahun di negaranya. Dan di Malaysia, dia ingin belajar bahasa ini dengan warga Malaysia sendiri. Dia tertarik bagaimana rakyat di negara ini yang mempunyai pelbagai kaum dan berlainan agama dapat bersatu melalui bahasa Melayu.

Tetapi dia rasa kecewa apabila bertemu dengan seorang pelajar universiti di negara ini. Dia meminta bantuan supaya pelajar itu mengajarnya mempelajari bahasa Melayu.

Bukan dengan rasa megah diterima oleh pelajar universiti itu, sebaliknya dibangkitkan pula pertanyaan balas kepadanya.

Kata Woo Jung, pelajar itu bercakap dalam bahasa Inggeris mempersoalkan apa faedah dia belajar bahasa Melayu. Alangkah terkejut Woo Jung dengan semangat pelajar warga Malaysia itu terhadap bahasa kebangsaan.

Mendengar hujah pidato Woo Jung itu, saya dan mungkin anda juga terkedu dibuatnya. Tapi di sudut hati saya berkata, dia bertanya kepada orang yang salah.

Orang yang Woo Jung bertanya dan minta bantuan itu barangkali pelajar berketurunan Cina, atau India, atau Sikh, atau Serani yang tidak mahir berbahasa Melayu.

Kalau dia bertanya kepada pelajar berbangsa Melayu, tak mungkin hasratnya ditolak kecuali pelajar Melayu itu sudah hilang semangat bangsa Melayunya.

Kisah yang dibangkitkan pelajar Korea Selatan itu menunjukkan ada kalangan pelajar Malaysia yang langsung tidak mempedulikan usaha mendaulatkan bahasa Melayu. Bagi mereka subjek itu hanya untuk mendapatkan sijil atau ijazah dan bukan sebagai alat komunikasi.

Begitu juga hujah daripada peserta dari Ghana, Abdul Hamid Abdul Wahab dan peserta Amerika Syarikat, Briget Johnson. Saya rumuskan hujah kedua-duanya yang melemparkan persoalan, jika ingin melihat bahasa Melayu mampu menjadi bahasa ilmu dan antarabangsa, maka rakyat negara ini harus menghargai bahasanya sendiri.

Rakyat Malaysia harus berfikir dan bercakap dalam bahasa Melayu. Kalau tidak digunakan, bahasa Melayu akan hilang dan tidak mungkin dapat menjadi bahasa ilmu.

Soalnya, adakah rakyat Malaysia sekarang menganggap bahasa Melayu itu bahasa ilmu dan ‘bahasa mereka’? Rasanya tidak. Mereka lebih utamakan bahasa ibunda masing-masing. Kalau tidak pun mereka lebih gemar menggunakan bahasa Inggeris dalam semua urusan harian.

Benarkah orang Malaysia sudah tidak peduli apatah lagi mencintai bahasa kebangsaannya?

Beginilah nasib bahasa Melayu. Semakin banyak kita bangkitkan usaha dan kempen kesedaran tentang penggunaan bahasa Melayu, semakin kuat pula cabarannya. Kita sendiri dapat lihat di sekeliling, seolah-olah bahasa Inggeris pula menjadi bahasa utama negara ini.

Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka yang diberi amanah mendaulatkan bahasa kebangsaan ini kena aktif mempergiatkan kempen seperti kempen Cintailah Bahasa Kita ketika zaman Datuk Hassan Ahmad.

DBP kena berani ke tengah untuk menegur dan memastikan semua rakyat Malaysia menggunakan bahasa Melayu dalam apa juga urusan. Banyak yang kita lihat, baca dan dengar sekarang menyalahi penggunaan bahasa Melayu yang betul, tapi tak siapa yang berani tegur! AZMAN ANUAR Utusan Rencana 20140427

Bahana Himpunan 1 Mei

Pakatan Rakyat bukan sahaja menyokong badan bukan kerajaan (NGO) yang mahu mengadakan Himpunan Membantah Cukai Barangan dan Perkhidmatan (GST) pada 1 Mei ini, bahkan akan turut serta dalam himpunan itu. Mereka tetap melakukannya walaupun menyedari bahana yang akan menimpa rakyat dan negara.

1. Kerugian Ekonomi dan Peniaga

Presiden Persatuan Peniaga Bumiputera Wilayah Persekutuan, Datuk Rosli Sulaiman pernah mengatakan perhimpunan Bersih yang lalu telah menjejaskan transaksi ekonomi sebanyak RM10 juta di sekitar Kuala Lumpur. Sebanyak 5 bilion euro telah dibazirkan oleh kerajaan Sepanyol sejak Mei 2011 apabila kerajaannya perlu berhadapan dengan perhimpunan berterusan yang dilakukan oleh kumpulan tertentu di negara mereka. Keadaan ini menyebabkan kerajaan Sepanyol perlu menerima bailout sebanyak 100 bilion Euro daripada IMF dan akhirnya kedaulatan negara tersebut kini dijajahi oleh IMF. Adakah pendapatan dan sumber negara hendak terus dibazirkan demi perhimpunan yang sebenarnya lebih bersifat politik daripada demi kebaikan rakyat? Sekiranya pakatan pembangkang benar-benar ikhlas maka mereka seharusnya membuat perhimpunan dalam isu kemelut krisis air yang melanda Selangor yang ditadbir oleh mereka. Adakah pelaksanaan GST akan lebih membebankan berbanding dengan mereka yang tidak dapat air dalam kehidupan seharian?

2. Kos Hidup Meningkat

Kita perlu tahu dalam masa kurang daripada enam tahun Ketua Menteri Pulau Pinang, Lim Guan Eng berkuasa tarif air sudah meningkat sebanyak tiga kali. Keadaan ini belum mengambil kira pembaziran sumber negeri yang digunakan oleh Ketua Menteri tersebut untuk membeli kereta Mercerdes S Class. Kerajaan pakatan pembangkang di Pulau Pinang turut memperkenalkan cukai tambahan untuk setiap bilik di negeri tersebut dengan kadar RM2 - RM5 setiap bilik. Di negeri Selangor pula kadar lesen perniagaan ditingkatkan kepada 400 peratus dan gaji pentadbir negeri Selangor pula ditingkatkan sehingga 373 peratus. Sekiranya pemimpin pakatan pembangkang boleh berkereta Mercerdes S Class dan gaji meningkat sehingga 373 peratus maka adakah mereka layak untuk berbicara tentang soal kos hidup rakyat?

3. Peranan Pihak Berkuasa

Negara kita memiliki penduduk sebanyak 27 juta orang. Tugas dan peranan pihak berkuasa ialah memastikan keselamatan dan keamanan rakyat dan negara secara menyeluruh. Jangan hanya disebabkan segelintir masyarakat yang tidak cintakan negara dan kepentingan politik mereka, maka keselamatan rakyat yang tidak berdosa akan tergadai. Apakah angka 100,000 berbanding dengan 27 juta rakyat Malaysia yang lain? Jangan disebabkan terperangkap dalam politik perjuangan kebebasan demokrasi dan berhimpunan yang dilaungkan oleh pakatan pembangkang maka keselamatan dan keamanan rakyat terancam. Hak untuk selamat dan aman adalah lebih penting daripada hak berhimpun secara bebas. Kebebasan tanpa kawalan adalah kebebasan yang terbabas.

SHEN YEE AUN ialah Penganalisis Politik, Presiden Pertubuhan Hak Belia Malaysia, Pengasas blog SYA For The Nation. Utusan Rencana 20140427

Bisik-Bisik Awang Selamat

Obama - Najib

KEBANYAKAN rakyat Malaysia belum lahir ketika Presiden Amerika Syarikat (AS), Lyndon B. Johnson melawat negara ini pada tahun 1966.

Semalam, buat kali kedua, Presiden AS - kali ini - Barrack Obama menjejakkan kaki ke negara ini dalam lawatan bersejarah.

Sebagai pemimpin negara paling berkuasa, lawatan tersebut menjadi tumpuan dan sudah tentu diharap membawa impak besar kepada hubungan dua hala.

Sejarah membuktikan hubungan AS-Malaysia menyerlah ketika era Obama sebagai Presiden dan Najib Tun Razak sebagai Perdana Menteri pada 2009.

Pendekatan Najib yang mengutamakan muafakat dalam menjayakan percaturan Malaysia, mengukuhkan hubungan antara Kuala Lumpur dan Washington di sebalik pasang surut cabaran diplomatik. Awang melihat strategi tersebut membuahkan hasil. Malaysia tidak rugi apa-apa, malah menerima banyak kesan positif dalam politik antarabangsa yang harus diolah dengan bijaksana. Kepentingan Malaysia termasuk dalam isu-isu kritikal membabitkan kedua-dua negara terus terpelihara, tiada apa yang dikorbankan.

Mungkin ramai yang tidak sedar bahawa Najib telah banyak meneutralkan pengaruh Ketua Pembangkang, Anwar Ibrahim ke atas AS. Di sebalik gerakan melobi dan memburuk-burukkan kerajaan Malaysia selama bertahun-tahun oleh Anwar dan aktivis propembangkang, pentadbiran AS makin menyakini kerajaan pimpinan Najib. Keterbukaan beliau dan kebolehannya dalam pentadbiran terutama pengurusan ekonomi negara serta dasar luar, menjadikan Malaysia terus disegani dunia.

Ketika Najib bekerja keras untuk kemakmuran negaranya, Anwar lebih sibuk menghasut dunia terutama AS agar menekan dan menghukum Malaysia. Awang percaya pentadbiran Obama arif dalam menilai antara Najib dan Ketua Pembangkang itu, yang kini bergelut dengan isu moral dan integriti.

Maka ramai rakyat Malaysia lega apabila Obama menolak menemui Anwar dalam lawatan tersebut, yang kini terdesak untuk menyelamatkan dirinya selepas dijatuhi hukuman oleh mahkamah kerana meliwat. Seperti juga di AS, rakyat Malaysia mahukan pemimpin yang bermoral, bersih dan berwibawa, bukannya ikon yang songsang.

Meskipun Anwar diberi ruang menemui Penasihat Keselamatan, Susan Rice, ia sekadar menepati dasar keterbukaan negara tersebut. Dalam dunia diplomatik, harus diakui tiada kesempurnaan. Apatah lagi hubungan antara kuasa besar dengan negara kecil seperti Malaysia. Meskipun ada perbezaan pendirian dalam beberapa isu termasuk Perjanjian Perkongsian Trans-Pasifik (TPPA), ia bukan halangan besar.

Buktinya, komitmen AS sebagai rakan dagang terbesar hinggalah bantuan misi mencari pesawat MH370, sebagaimana diikrarkan oleh Obama sebelum ini, adalah terpuji.

Gaya kepimpinan beliau juga lebih disenangi ke atas negara-negara sahabatnya. Menurut ramai pemerhati, Obama tidak ghairah sebagaimana presiden-presiden terdahulu untuk campur tangan dan menekan Malaysia.

Awang sendiri masih terngiang-ngiang ucapan Naib Presiden AS, Al Gore pada Sidang Kemuncak APEC di Kuala Lumpur pada 1998 yang termakan hasutan Anwar. Episod itu seboleh mungkin mahu dilupakan oleh rakyat Malaysia.

Yang penting daripada lawatan Obama ialah apa yang boleh dicorakkan selepas ini tanpa ada banyak gangguan daripada pihak ketiga seperti Anwar. Kepada Obama dan Najib, tahniah. Semoga bermulalah fasa baharu, yang boleh menjadi sandaran.

Murahnya Pas?

Perkembangan isu hudud makin panas. Terbaharu, dilaporkan mesyuarat Jawatankuasa Penerangan Pas sudah mengambil langkah susulan untuk meneruskan rancangan melaksanakan hudud di Kelantan biarpun mendapat bantahan sekutu Pakatan iaitu DAP dan PKR.

Ini menjadikan kesemua komponen utama dalam Pas termasuk Dewan Ulama sudah bertekad tidak mahu berganjak.

Pada masa yang sama, para pemimpin DAP dan PKR meningkatkan tekanan ke atas Pas. Setiausaha Organisasi Kebangsaan DAP, Anthony Loke menggesa Pas meninggalkan Pakatan jika mahu meneruskan hasrat membentangkan rang undang-undang persendirian di Dewan Rakyat bagi melaksanakan hukum hudud. Wow, Pas yang telah banyak berkorban kepada pakatan mahu dihalau begitu sahaja. Murahnya nilai Pas, seolah-olah tiada ruginya tanpa parti itu.

Timbalan Presiden PKR, Azmin Ali pula mengulangi pendirian parti itu menolak hudud kerana ia bercanggah dengan konsensus yang dipersetujui Pakatan pada 2011. Kini halangan Pas, bukan lagi UMNO sebaliknya parti sekutu. Persoalannya, apakah Pas akan tunduk beralah kepada DAP dan PKR? Awang bersimpati dengan Pas tetapi yakin parti itu tidak akan menjadi dayus mengikut telunjuk DAP, yang selama ini memudaratkan kepentingan Islam.

Pada Awang, isu tersebut bukan sahaja menguji permuafakatan dalam Pakatan malah berkemungkinan membuka landskap baharu politik tanah air.

Kepada ahli-ahli dan para penyokong Pas, bangkitlah bersatu sampaikan mesej bahawa parti itu masih ada harga diri.

Lagi kisah GLC

KEDENGARAN cakap-cakap tentang sebuah syarikat berkaitan kerajaan (GLC) yang pengerusinya ghairah menggunakan kuasa sehingga terlebih-lebih.

Walaupun bukan berstatus pengerusi eksekutif, khabarnya, beliau bertindak seperti ketua pegawai eksekutif atau pengarah urusan menyebabkan pengurusan kanan tertekan tetapi mereka tidak berani bersuara. Ada lagi dakwaan-dakwaan terperinci membabitkan pengerusi berkenaan, yang tidak sesuai untuk didedahkan pada peringkat ini.

Jika benarlah, Awang berharap, ia dapat diperbetulkan segera. Sepatutnya pengerusi menjadi teladan mendokong tadbir urus terbaik, menjaga integriti dan menghormati bidang kuasa pihak pengurusan profesional. Berpeganglah pada prinsip itu, pasti selamat selain berkat.

Satu lagi isu yang menarik perhatian ialah kritikan beberapa pihak terhadap Johor Land Bhd (Johor Land), GLC di bawah kerajaan negeri Johor.

Berdasarkan laporan, beberapa pembekal dan kontraktor bumiputera membuat aduan mereka menjadi mangsa pilih kasih dan kerenah birokrasi selain masalah kelewatan pembayaran.

Mesej yang mahu disampaikan oleh para pengadu ialah Johor Land tidak berminat membantu usahawan bumiputera. Dengan kata lain, kacang lupakan kulit.

Dalam hal ini, syarikat itu wajar diberi peluang membela diri. Seandainya penjelasan tidak meyakinkan dan dakwaan-dakwaan tersebut sahih, Kerajaan Negeri Johor perlulah bertindak sebelum kulit menjadi isi.

SKMM lesu?

Suara-suara kritikan terhadap Suruhanjaya Komunikasi dan Multimedia Malaysia (SKMM) terus kedengaran kerana dilihat gagal menangani ancaman penyangak siber yang terus menggugat ketenteraman awam.

Walaupun banyak aduan polis dan pelbagai kenyataan telah dikeluarkan berhubung isu serangan Red Bean Army (RBA) iaitu penyangak siber tajaan pembangkang, SKMM kurang responsif. Bagai mencurah air di daun keladi.

Suruhanjaya itu lebih banyak memberikan alasan tentang kekangannya daripada mengambil langkah proaktif. SKMM tidak boleh memberikan isyarat yang salah dan bercelaru. Kegagalan dan kelemahan berpanjangan suruhanjaya itu memudaratkan negara.

Jika beginilah keadaannya, Awang setuju dengan pandangan yang kini berlegar bahawa penerajunya wajar berundur untuk memberi peluang kepada tokoh lain bagi membetulkan keadaan.

Kita perlu menyelamatkan situasi negara daripada menyelamatkan kedudukan individu. Strukturnya juga wajar diubah. Jika tidak silap Awang, ia satu-satunya badan berkanun yang pengerusi dan ketua pegawai eksekutif adalah orang yang sama. Di mana silapnya?

Nasib Moyes

Pemecatan Pengurus Manchester United (MU), David Moyes baru-baru ini menjadi tajuk utama berita sukan di seluruh dunia. Memandangkan MU, pasukan bola sepak ternama dengan tradisi kejayaan maka ia menjadi topik popular.

Malah di Malaysia, lebih banyak orang bercakap tentang Moyes sebaik-baik sahaja dipecat daripada mana-mana isu lain. Awang seperti juga ramai pengikut bola sepak Liga Perdana Inggeris (EPL) sudah menjangkakan, beliau akan dipecat kerana prestasi merudum MU. Pengurus dipecat adalah hal biasa dalam bola sepak profesional. Tetapi Awang bersimpati apabila Moyes merintih kerana kecewa dengan sikap legenda MU, Alex Ferguson yang tidak menyokong beliau di saat-saat sukar kebelakangan ini.

Ferguson memilih Moyes sebagai pengganti, tokoh itu jugalah yang turut berperanan menyingkirkan beliau akhirnya. Jika Awang boleh menasihatkan Moyes, akur sahajalah. Berilah peluang kepada Ferguson untuk menebus kesilapannya iaitu memilih anda.



Utusan Rencana 20140427

Komunis anti penjajah?

SEMASA Stalin diumumkan meninggal dunia pada 6 Mac 1953, Nikita Khrushchev, yang bakal mengisytiharkan segala kezaliman dan keburukan pemerintahan Stalin, mengetuai Parti Komunis Wilayah Moscow. Parti Komunis Kesatuan Soviet (PKKS), serentak dengan pengumuman kematian Stalin, mengumumkan juga barisan kepimpinan baharu PKKS terdiri daripada Georgy Malenkov sebagai Pengerusi baharu Majlis Menteri-menteri negara Soviet dengan didukung empat orang Naib Pengerusi iaitu Lavrentiy Beria, Lazar Kaganovich, Nikolai Bulganin dan Vyacheslav Molotov. Selain itu, beberapa anggota Presidium Jawatankuasa Pusat PKKS yang baharu saja dilantik oleh Stalin telah digugurkan kecuali Khrushchev.

Akhbar berpengaruh The New York Times, semasa melaporkan berita kepimpinan baharu PKKS itu, mencatatkan nama Malenkov dan Beria menduduki tempat teratas dan kedua dalam kalangan sepuluh anggota Presidium tersebut, manakala Khrushchev di tempat terakhir. Pengumuman itu juga menyebut Khrushchev diberhentikan daripada mengetuai parti di Moscow dan diberi suatu jawatan di peringkat Jawatankuasa Pusat yang tugas-tugasnya tidak ditetapkan. Dalam beberapa bulan sahaja selepas kematian Stalin, berlakulah pergeseran sengit dalam kalangan lima orang pemimpin kanan PKKS - Pengerusi dan empat Naib Pengerusi itu - untuk menentukan siapakah yang paling layak menggantikan Stalin.

Susulan itu, Khrushchev memperkukuhkan lagi kedudukannya dengan mendakwa Malenkov turut terbabit dalam kes-kes kekejaman semasa pemerintahan Stalin. Ini terutama selepas pihak pendakwaan Soviet menyemak fail-fail sulit yang disimpan Beria. Malah, Malenkov dituduh membantu ‘menaikkan’ nama Beria di mata Stalin. Pada Januari 1955, Malenkov dilucutkan daripada jawatan Pengerusi Majlis Presidium, digantikan oleh Bulganin.

Sementara itu, menjelang penghujung tahun 1955, beratus-ratus ribu tahanan Gulag telah dibebaskan dari tahanan. Mereka pulang ke tempat asal dan menceritakan kepada ketua-ketua parti Komunis tempatan tentang keazaban yang mereka lalui. Ini menjadi alasan kuat buat Khrushchev yang meminta wakil-wakil parti dari segenap pelosok negara Soviet memberi laporan kepadanya. Khrushchev bercadang mendedahkan sepenuhnya ‘jenayah-jenayah Stalin’ terhadap rakyat Soviet. Dia berpendapat, setelah ‘kekotoran Stalinisme’ dicuci bersih, lebih mudahlah usaha memulihkan imej parti di mata rakyat.


Nikita Khrushchev (kiri), Mao Tse-Tung dan Ho Chi Minh ketika meraikan
Majlis Ulang Tahun Ke-10penubuhan Republik Rakyat China pada 30 Oktober 1959.


Khrushchev melakukan ini semasa majlis pembukaan Kongres PKKS Ke-20 pada 14 Februari 1956. Sebagai Setiausaha Pertama parti, dia menyerang Stalin habis-habisan selama empat jam dalam ucapan bersifat ‘no holds barred’ itu. Di dalam buku memoirnya, Khrushchev menyebut bahawa "Kongres mengikuti ucapan saya dengan khusyuk, sampai kamu boleh dengar bunyi sebatang jarum yang jatuh…" Kata Khrushchev pada awal ucapannya: "Di sinilah (dewan kongres) Stalin kerap menunjukkan pelbagai sikap yang tidak bertoleransi, ganas dan menyalah guna kuasa … dia memilih jalan menindas dan membunuh bukan sahaja terhadap musuh-musuh sebenar, malah terhadap orang yang sebenar-benarnya tidak membuat kesalahan terhadap parti dan Kerajaan Soviet."

Reaksi

Ucapan Khrushchev itu pada awalnya ialah khusus untuk perwakilan parti sahaja. Sebab itulah ia terkenal dengan nama Khrushchev’s Secret Speech. Tetapi, tidak sampai tiga minggu selepas itu ia telah diketahui bukan saja di seluruh negara Soviet, malah negara-negara komunis yang lain, termasuk China. Pelbagai reaksi timbul, termasuk demonstrasi umum anti-Rusia di Poland dan kebangkitan revolusi anti-komunis di Hungary pada penghujung tahun 1956. Keresahan-keresahan juga berlaku di negara Soviet sendiri, termasuk yang menentang Khrushchev.

Sementara itu, di peringkat Majlis Presidium, kumpulan anti-Khrushchev, walaupun minoriti, berkomplot untuk menyingkirkan Khrushchev sebagai Setiausaha Pertama parti. Pada awal tahun 1957, Malenkov, Molotov dan Kaganovich berpakat menjatuhkan Khrushchev, tetapi hasil kesepakatan Khrushchev dengan Marsyal Zhukov, Panglima Tertinggi Tentera Soviet dan pihak keselamatan dalam negeri, hasrat tiga pemimpin kanan itu telah dipatahkan oleh Khrushchev. Mereka disingkirkan daripada jawatan dalam Majlis Presidium. Pada Jun 1957, Khrushchev mengambil alih kedudukan Pengerusi Majlis Presidium dan dengan itu, dia melantik dirinya sebagai Perdana Menteri menggantikan Bulganin.

Kesimpulannya, semasa pemerintahan Khrushchev yang berakhir pada Oktober 1964, dia banyak memperkenalkan dasar yang lebih liberal berbanding Stalin, walaupun ada penentang-penentangnya mendakwa dia tidak boleh terlepas begitu sahaja daripada dasar-dasar kekerasan di zaman Stalin. Ini kerana peningkatan kerjaya politiknya adalah dengan ihsan Stalin. Namun, ahli sejarah menganggap dasar-dasar liberal yang dimulakan Khrushchev terbukti menjadi ikutan kepimpinan Soviet selepas Khrushchev sehinggalah bulan Mac 1985 apabila Mikhail Gorbachev dilantik Setiausaha Agung PKKS dan dengan itu, menjadi Presiden Kesatuan Soviet sehingga Disember 1991.

Semasa pemerintahan Gorbachev, dasar ‘Glasnost’ dan ‘Perestroika’ yang bertujuan mengubah keadaan hidup masyarakat Soviet telah diperkenalkan. Glasnost memberi makna ‘keterbukaan’ yakni membenarkan warga Soviet menyuarakan pendapat mereka secara terbuka tanpa kawalan pihak berkuasa. Ini termasuk isu-isu menyentuh politik. Sedangkan Perestroika pula memberi erti ‘penstrukturan semula’. Dalam amalan kita di Malaysia, kedua-dua Glasnost dan Perestroika ini semacam sinonim dengan ‘transformasi’.

Namun begitu, langkah-langkah liberalisasi dan pembaharuan drastik yang dibawa Gorbachev itu terbukti menjadi ‘senjata menikam tuan’, bukan sahaja terhadap kepimpinan Gorbachev, malah terhadap keutuhan PKKS dan negara Kesatuan Soviet. Dasar itu langsung tidak membantu menyelesaikan segala masalah ekonomi yang dihadapi Soviet. Lebih malang lagi, dalam sekelip mata ia menghancurkan keutuhan negara kesatuan itu apabila negara-negara republik Soviet di Asia Tengah iaitu Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan dan di rantau Baltik iaitu Latvia dan Estonia menuntut kemerdekaan daripada Moscow. Desakan-desakan untuk berpisah timbul juga di negara anggota Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Moldova dan tiga negara Islam di Caucasus seperti Chechnya, Ingushetia dan Dagestan.

Dalam menghadapi pergolakan politik yang kencang dan keadaan keselamatan dalam negeri yang sangat tidak menentu ini, Gorbachev mengambil langkah yang sangat luar biasa, langkah yang tidak diimpikan oleh pengasas-pengasas negara Soviet 74 tahun dahulu. Pada 24 Ogos 1991, sebagai Pengerusi Presidium Jawatankuasa Pusat PKKS, dia menasihatkan parti supaya Presidium dibubarkan, dia sendiri meletak jawatan sebagai Setiausaha Agung parti dan dibubarkan juga semua unit parti dalam kerajaan. Beberapa jam kemudian, Presidium memutuskan menggantung semua kerja parti di semua pelosok Kesatuan Soviet. Ini bererti, pemerintahan komunis di seluruh negara itu adalah tamat berkuat kuasa mulai 24 Ogos 1991.

Dalam bulan-bulan yang berikutnya, satu demi satu negara republik yang menjadi anggota Kesatuan Soviet mengisytiharkan kemerdekaan masing-masing, termasuk Rusia sendiri di bawah pimpinan Boris Yeltsin. Ukraine, republik terpenting selepas Rusia, mengisytiharkan perpisahan pada 1 Disember 1991. Seminggu kemudian, pada 8 Disember 1991, Presiden Rusia, Ukraine dan Belarus bertemu dan memutuskan penubuhan apa yang dibilang Komanwel Negara-negara Bebas (CIS) yang kemudian dituruti oleh lain-lain republik Soviet yang telah merdeka itu.

Saya semacam telah meramalkan atau memendam rasa bahawa negara Kesatuan Soviet, yang tampak begitu monolitik itu, suatu hari pasti akan pupus. Kenapa saya katakan begitu? Di halaman 495 buku Chin Peng berjudul Chin Peng, My Side of History, beliau berkata apabila tiba di Phuket, Thailand (di mana perundingan damai dengan Parti Komunis Malaya diadakan) pada 3 November 1989; "… and was invited immediately by Rahim Noor for a private tete-a-tete. Just the two of us." Ini diadakan setelah kami habis makan malam pada hari itu. Semasa pertemuan empat mata itu, banyak perkara yang ditanyakan beliau kepada saya, begitu juga soalan-soalan saya kepada Chin Peng. Sebahagiannya telah pun disebutkan oleh Chin Peng dalam buku itu dan saya tidak menyanggahnya.

Walau bagaimanapun, Chin Peng tidak menyebut, semasa pertemuan itu, saya juga telah bertanya dia tentang satu perkara: Oleh sebab PKM atau orang komunis di seluruh dunia sangat benci kepada kaum penjajah, tidakkah orang Komunis di Rusia, yang dianggap contoh yang perlu diikuti, juga bersikap seperti kaum penjajah? Saya tanya Chin Peng, jika benarlah komunis anti-penjajah, kenapakah komunis Rusia tidak memerdekakan negara-negara Komunis di Asia Tengah kerana mereka adalah tanah jajahan Imperial Tsar Rusia untuk sekian lama? Mereka bukan orang Rusia dari segi etnik, amalan agama, adat resam dan bahasa. Tidakkah ini ertinya, saya tanya Chin Peng lagi, negara Kesatuan Soviet adalah bulat-bulat kesinambungan penjajahan imperial Rusia?

Terhadap ‘sergahan’ saya itu, Chin Peng tergamam sejenak sebelum dia menjawab dengan ringkas bahawa "Kesatuan Soviet adalah negara yang berasaskan ideologi yang mementingkan rakyat." Saya berhentikan di situ saja soalan itu untuk mengelakkan suasana menjadi tidak hening. Jadi, apabila Kesatuan Soviet musnah pada Disember 1991 - dua tahun selepas saya bertemu one-on-one dengan Chin Peng di Phuket - saya berfikir tentulah dia telah akur dengan ‘kebijaksanaan’ telahan saya itu. Ada lebih banyak lagi kisah pertemuan saya dengan Chin Peng di Phuket dalam coretan-coretan mendatang.


ABDUL RAHIM NOOR Utusan Rencana 20140427

Signifikan lawatan Obama

Lawatan Presiden Barack Obama ke Malaysia selama tiga hari, bermula semalam bakal mencipta sejarah tersendiri dan membawa hubungan Malaysia-Amerika Syarikat (AS) ke fasa baharu, setelah ditunda sebelum ini.

Obama sebelum ini dijadualkan melawat Malaysia pada Oktober lalu, tetapi terpaksa dibatalkan setelah AS berdepan krisis pentadbiran apabila Kongres AS gagal meluluskan satu bajet khas Persekutuan, ekoran perbalahan berhubung rang undang-undang penjagaan kesihatan yang diutarakan oleh Obama, sehingga hampir melumpuhkan kerajaannya.

Lawatan sulung Presiden AS itu ke negara ini dalam tempoh 48 tahun, dilihat bukan sahaja bakal menguntungkan Malaysia sebelah pihak, tetapi juga kepada AS sendiri.

Selepas beberapa siri lawatan ke Asia sebelum ini, Obama menyedari beliau tidak boleh mengabaikan lawatannya ke negara-negara Islam di rantau ini, terutama negara-negara Islam berfahaman sederhana seperti Malaysia bagi memperbaiki imej AS di dunia Islam.

Daripada segi politik, lawatan Obama ke Malaysia kali ini, bukan sahaja merupakan satu penghormatan kepada Malaysia tetapi juga pengiktirafan kerajaan AS kepada kerajaan Barisan Nasional (BN) diketuai Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, yang memperolehi mandat daripada rakyat setelah BN memenangi Pilihan Raya Umum Ke-13 pada tahun lalu.

Lawatan Obama merupakan lawatan keyakinan kerajaan AS terhadap Malaysia setelah hubungan Washington-Kuala Lumpur agak kurang memberangsangkan semasa era pentadbiran Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad (1981-2003) yang sering mengkritik keras polisi luar Washington, kata penganalisis.

Menteri Luar, Datuk Seri Anifah Aman dalam taklimat kepada media di Wisma Putra kelmarin sempena lawatan Obama ke negara ini mengakui kunjungan Presiden AS itu akan membawa lembaran baharu dalam hubungan dua hala Malaysia-AS, selepas hampir 50 tahun pentadbiran AS mengabaikan kepentingan hubungan dua hala antara kedua-dua negara.

Kali terakhir Presiden AS melawat Malaysia ialah pada 1966 oleh Presiden Lyndon B. Johnson.

Sejak lebih setengah abad, kepentingan AS banyak ditumpukan di rantau Asia Barat, serta menangani kebangkitan komunis dan melalui fasa perang dingin dengan blok komunis diketuai Kesatuan Soviet, dan diikuti kempen memerangi keganasan di seluruh dunia.

Imej AS di mata dunia Islam sangat buruk semasa kempen memerangi keganasan kerana pentadbiran AS sering melihat dunia Islam seolah-olah sebagai ‘musuh’ terutama semasa era Bush yang sering mengaitkan keganasan dengan Islam.





PRESIDEN Amerika Syarikat Barack Obama setibanya
di Lapangan Terbang Tentera Udara Diraja Malaysia, Subang
bagi rangka lawatan ke ibu negara selama tiga hari bermula semalam.

AS juga sudah lama mengabaikan kepentingan di rantau ini, selepas banyak memberi tumpuan di Asia Barat dan terlalu memberi fokus kepada kempen memerangi keganasan.

Konflik di Syria dan isu pertikaian di Laut China Selatan dan Laut China Timur serta krisis di Ukraine mendorong AS untuk menilai semula strateginya dengan memberi fokus kepada Asia Timur bagi mengimbangi kuasa China di rantau ini.

Namun, AS berhati-hati dalam menyatakan kehadirannya di rantau ini, bukan sahaja bagi mengelakkan kemarahan China tetapi juga daripada segi strategi, dengan mengubah pendekatan daripada berpendirian sebagai paksi (pivot) kepada mengimbangi (rebalancing).

Merebut peluang

Dasar pivot lebih menjurus kepada meningkatkan cengkaman dan membina kekuatan tentera yang dilihat sangat tidak disukai oleh China dan dengan mengubah pendekatan itu kepada rebalancing ia bukan sahaja dilihat lebih lembut tetapi juga membawa faedah lebih besar kepada AS tanpa membangkitkan kemarahan China.

Dengan dasar mengimbangi semula pengaruhnya di rantau ini, AS bukan sahaja dapat memberi perlindungan keselamatan kepada sekutu-sekutunya di rantau ini seperti Jepun, Korea Selatan, Taiwan dan Filipina daripada ancaman China dalam isu-isu melibatkan pertikaian wilayah maritim tetapi juga dapat merebut peluang-peluang ekonomi di rantau ini.

Banyak pihak melihat lawatan Presiden AS itu mempunyai dua agenda utama iaitu untuk mempengaruhi pemimpin-pemimpin rantau ini termasuk Jepun dan Malaysia menerima Perjanjian Perkongsian Trans-Pasifik (TPPA) yang lebih menguntungkan AS dan kedua adalah untuk mengukuhkan kedudukannya di rantau ini.Walaupun banyak pihak termasuk di Malaysia mengkritik lawatan Obama ke Asia kali ini, namun lawatan Presiden AS itu ke Malaysia sangat signifikan kerana ia dapat meningkatkan keyakinan pelabur untuk melabur di negara ini, terutama pelaburan dari Amerika, selain merancakkan lagi iklim perniagaan di Malaysia dan meningkatkan eksport.

Peningkatan hubungan dua hala AS-Malaysia akan dapat menjadi sinergi bagi meningkatkan pertumbuhan ekonomi di Malaysia dengan kemasukan pelaburan baharu dari AS, selain keyakinan pelabur dari negara lain, kerana lawatan Obama itu, sekali gus memberi gambaran keyakinan AS terhadap politik dan iklim pelaburan di negara ini, selain Malaysia sebuah negara yang bebas daripada ancaman keganasan dan selamat untuk membuat pelaburan.

Banyak pihak mendakwa lawatan Obama ke Malaysia adalah bagi memberi tekanan kepada Malaysia supaya menandatangani TPPA. Anifah menjelaskan Malaysia tidak akan menggadaikan kedaulatan negara dan mengetepikan kepentingan dan hak Malaysia sebelum menandatangani perjanjian itu.Blok perjanjian itu mengandungi 12 negara anggota termasuk Malaysia dan menguasai 40 peratus daripada perdagangan dunia.

Menurut Anifah, banyak rundingan perlu diadakan terlebih dahulu sebelum perjanjian itu boleh ditandatangani, selain ia perlu dibentangkan di Parlimen untuk dibahaskan sebelum diluluskan.

Katanya, kedatangan Obama ke Malaysia bukan untuk memberi tekanan kepada Malaysia atau untuk memihak, kerana Obama sendiri menyedari Malaysia mempunyai pendirian tersendiri berhubung dasar luar dan domestiknya dan fahaman kesederhanaan dan berkecuali yang menjadi pegangan Malaysia selama ini dan dasar berbaik-baik dan bersahabat dengan semua negara adalah kunci utama dalam menentukan hubungannya dengan semua negara termasuk dengan AS.

Dalam lawatan Obama ke Jepun sebelum tiba di Malaysia, dilaporkan AS-Jepun gagal mencapai sebarang kemajuan dalam rundingan berhubung TPPA apabila Jepun mempunyai pandangan berbeza berhubung sektor pertanian dan automotif.

Kini terbukti dakwaan pembangkang bahawa Jepun dan AS akan bersatu untuk menekan Malaysia supaya menandatangani perjanjian TPPA, sebagai tidak berasas. Lawatan Obama ke Asia kali ini termasuk Malaysia mencetuskan kebimbangan China yang menyaksikan AS cuba mengukuhkan kedudukannya di Asia Pasifik.

Lebih-lebih lagi ketika China sedang meningkatkan pengaruhnya di rantau ini dan ketika pertikaian berhubung wilayah maritim antara Beijing dan ASEAN di Laut China Selatan sedang memuncak, selain pertikaiannya dengan Jepun berhubung wilayah maritim di Laut China Timur berhubung Kepulauan Senkaku atau turut dikenali sebagai Diaoyu di China.

Sehubungan itu, China mengikuti daripada dekat lawatan Obama ke Asia kali ini. Namun, AS berpendapat tumpuannya di Asia Pasifik kali ini adalah bagi mengimbangi semula dasarnya di Asia setelah mengundurkan tenteranya dari Iraq dan Afghanistan serta berikutan perkembangan di Syria dan di Ukraine menyebabkan AS menilai semula strateginya di tempat-tempat lain.

AS melihat tumpuannya di rantau ini perlu diperkukuhkan bagi mengimbangi kebangkitan China bukan sahaja daripada segi ketenteraan tetapi juga daripada segi ekonomi. Malaysia memerlukan AS dan China di rantau ini bagi membawa kemakmuran dan kestabilan di rantau ini dan bukan untuk memihak.

Selain itu, kedatangan Obama di Malaysia dapat mengurangkan kritikan global terhadap pengurusan kehilangan pesawat Malaysia Airlines MH370.

Dalam masa sama, Malaysia melihat lawatan Obama ke negara ini dapat meningkatkan lagi kerjasama dan hubungan dua hala dalam banyak bidang, terutama kerjasama membantu Malaysia dalam operasi mencari dan menyelamat pesawat MH370.

Selain itu, ia dapat meningkatkan kerjasama dan hubungan dua hala dalam bidang ekonomi, perdagangan dan pelaburan, teknologi serta hubungan antara rakyat dengan rakyat.

AS juga mahu menjalinkan hubungan dengan penduduk di Asia terutama golongan muda dengan mengadakan pertemuan dengan golongan itu di Universiti Malaya, apabila beliau melancarkan Inisiatif Pemimpin Muda Asia Tenggara yang turut dihadiri oleh wakil dari 100 negara.

Selain itu, lawatan itu turut akan memberi sinergi kepada Malaysia yang bakal menjadi Pengerusi ASEAN pada tahun depan bagi merealisasikan Komuniti ASEAN yang dijangka dilaksanakan pada tahun depan.

Kedatangan Obama ke negara ini juga akan membantu memberi sokongan kepada hasrat Malaysia untuk menjadi anggota tidak tetap Majlis Keselamatan Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu.

MUSTAFA KAMAL BASRI ialah Pengarang Meja Luar Negara Utusan Malaysia. Utusan Rencana 20140427

7 Surprising Facts About Penguins

Every April 25th, penguin-lovers across the globe celebrate World Penguin Day. And, with their quirky personalities, unimaginable habitats and dapper good looks, it’s no wonder these adorable birds have earned their very own holiday. Read on for fascinating facts about one of the planet’s most beloved creatures.

1. Penguins have been around for a long time; the oldest fossil dates back 60 to 62 million years — just after the extinction of the dinosaurs. In fact, the discovery of this fossil has led credence to the theory that birds, including these ancient penguin ancestors, began to evolve while dinosaurs were still roaming the earth, not after their demise. Like their descendants, these birds waddled, couldn’t fly, and stayed close to the sea for their meals.

2. The largest penguin to ever roam the earth, the anthropornis, lived about 35 to 47 million years ago. And, boy, were they big: measuring in at about 6 feet tall and weighing 200 pounds, this ancient penguin lived in and around Antarctica and New Zealand.

3. Believe it or not, waddling is actually the quickest way for penguins to get around on land. With large bodies and feet, but short legs, waddling back-and-forth is the quickest, most energy efficient way for penguins to move. Where penguins really get moving is under the water — penguins are the fastest, and deepest diving birds on the planet.

4. Sure, there may be ice as far as the eye can see in Antarctica, but it doesn’t provide much in the way of fresh water. So what’s a thirsty penguin to do? Drink salt water! Sea penguins have a gland above their eyes that helps them expel all that salt through their sinuses. Yep, you got that right — penguins sneeze out salt.

5. Think Minnesota in January is rough? Ha! That’s practically tropical for the famed emperor penguins. These tough birds arguably endure the most brutal weather conditions of any creatures on the planet. During the winter, when the emperor penguins are breeding, temperatures in Antarctica can drop to a bone-chilling -40 Degrees F, with wind chills as low as -75 degrees F.

6. Of the 17-19 penguin species currently living on the planet, 13 are considered vulnerable or endangered. The most at risk is the Galapagos Penguin, the only species that will travel north of the equator. The population decreased dramatically in the 1980s due to el Nino; today, there are estimated to be under 2,000 birds remaining on the islands.

7. A 2008 study conducted by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) found that, if climate change continues at its current rate, roughly half of the world’s emperor penguins and 3/4 of the world’s Adelie Penguins could disappear. Unless drastic measures are taken, a rapidly warming climate will continue to melt the ice that the penguins’ call home. And it’s already happening — remember that colony of emperor penguins from March of the Penguins? Over half of the population has disappeared since filming.

There is one sliver of good news, however. Earlier this year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it will consider adding the Emperor Penguin to its list of endangered species — which would add a number of protections to help preserve these precious animals.

Help a penguin out: Tell the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to give Emperor Penguins full protection under the Endangered Species Act. And sign the petition below to help protect penguins from the effects of climate change.




The Penguin who became a 'star' ...... your guess?
Katie Waldeck www.care2.com/greenliving  April 25, 2014

15 Weird Facts About Whales

Whales are so obviously different from us, yet surprisingly similar in so many ways. They are extremely intelligent and social beings that share our lifespan and often our close-knit family structures. They sing, they play, they nurture, they bond and they cooperate. However, unlike modern humans who appeared on the scene less than 200,000 years ago, modern cetaceans are an ancient clan stretching back tens of millions of years. These cetaceans first appeared in the fossil record about 50 million years ago (in modern form about 35 million years ago) and have been populating our oceans with a magical grace ever since. Below are 15 little-known and yet very interesting facts about the dozens of whale species that share our world. Enjoy!

The closest living relative to cetaceans (whales and dolphins) are hippos.

Sperm whales have bizarre sleep habits.Whole pods have been observed sleeping with their bodies completely vertical to the ocean floor with their heads bobbing at the surface. It is believed (but not entirely understood) that sperm whales dive to the ocean floor to nap, but during this nap time they slowly rise to the surface head-first. These naps appear to last no more than 12 minutes and oddly only take place between 6pm and midnight.


  • The tusk or horn of the male narwhal is actually an oversized canine tooth. The tooth pierces the left lip, growing throughout life up to 10 feet long. This fancy oversized tooth is jam-packed with nerve endings and grows in a left-handed helix spiral. Oddly, about 15% of female narwhals also have tusks. Some of the first narwhal teeth (or tusks) to reach Europe were touted as being the horns of the mythical unicorn.



  • The blue whale has the largest penis in the world at about 8 feet long, but not the largest testes. That award goes to the Southern Right whale. One pair of Southern Right whale gonads weigh about one ton.



  • The head and lower jaw of humpback whales are covered with knobs called tubercles, which are actually hair follicles.


  • The largest animal to ever grace our planet, living or extinct, is the blue whale. Blue whales have tipped the scales at 140 tons and reached 100 feet. The blue whale tongue alone can weigh as much as an elephant.


  • Not surprisingly, the blue whale also boasts the largest heart in the world, which is about the size of a VW Beetle and weighs up to 1000 pounds. The aorta attached to this super-sized heart is is big enough for a human child to crawl through.


  • Sperm whales are super-divers. They love squid, so to dine on their favorite delicacy they must dive deep and hang there for a while while hunting. Adults can dive to depths of 2,000 meters and stay submerged for almost two hours.


  • Fin whales pee the equivalent of about 3 bathtubs per day.


  • Orca whales are not whales, but actually dolphins. They are found in every ocean from the icy Arctic to the warm waters of the tropics and are considered one of the smartest animals on our planet.


  • Blue whales are pregnant for nearly two years.


  • A newborn blue whale calf weighs about as much as 100 men and is about 7.5 meters long.  This huge baby drinks enough fat-rich milk to fill a bathtub every day. This milk is 40-50% fat and has the consistency of cottage cheese. With all of this nursing, baby blue whales gain 3.7 kilograms an hour, until about 8 months-old. By then, they typically weigh 22.5 tons!


  • Most whales give birth surrounded by midwives. The midwives help the newborn stay at the surface for breathing, while the mother recovers.


  • Gray whales migrate astonishingly long distances between their winter calving lagoons in Mexico and their summer feasting grounds in the Arctic – about 10,000-12,400 miles round-trip every year.



  • Blue whales can boast of being the loudest creatures on Earth. At 188 decibels, their loudest vocalizations can be heard hundreds of miles away and is louder than a jet, which peaks at only 140 decibels. Human ears cringe at sounds over over 120-130 decibels.

For more interesting facts about whales check-out the websites, LISTVERSE and WHALE WORLD



Cherise Udell www.care2.com/greenliving April 23, 2014

Perspective: ‘Necessity of losing out’

…ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country. — John F. Kennedy Inaugural Address, Jan 20, 1961

ONE of the interesting aspects of contemporary discussions on political obligation and the problems of national and social cohesion is the way in which dialogues about our obligations are rooted in the language of the social contract.

At times of political crisis and unease, there are calls both for this social contract to either be renewed or revisited and perhaps changed.

Much contemporary discussion of political authority derives from this notion of the social contract and the obligations and duties of individuals and groups towards the state.

The benefits of a social contract are usually thought of in terms of what individuals, groups or “the people” get out of it: protection, welfare, rights and so forth. We, in turn, accept certain obligations to the state and acquiesce in certain arrangements.

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Underpinning the idea of the social contract is a rational model of human motivations. We enter into a contract as rational agents to achieve certain goals and agendas.

What strikes us is that the language of the social contract, — which admittedly derives from several sources, most famously from Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau and in more recent times in the work of John Rawls and David Gauthier — is that in its commonplace usage pictures an agreement, a brokered deal or settlement which can either be verified by reference to some empirical point in the founding of a nation or understood as a plausible theoretical construct which captures the essence of the founding of a nation and its state.

What I want to suggest is that understanding our political and civic obligations within the social contract cannot simply be assumed to solely arrive out of or be sustained only on the principles of rational calculation.

The metaphorical abacus is not the basis nor does it provide the sustaining emotions necessary for us to bind together as a society and as a nation.

Rather at root of our buy-in lies deeper emotions and sensibilities which when compared to the calculative rationality of assessing gains and benefits may appear irrational or at least non rational.

If the idea of a social contract is to make any sense, it must not be reducible to mere calculative interests.

National cohesion and the idea of a social contract or settlement cannot be understood purely in terms of a rational choice model of human motivations.

We accept our ‘social contract’ and obligations because we see each other as belonging to something which cannot be understood by mere calculation of benefit. We accommodate and accept each other’s needs and understand each other’s aspirations through living in a national community.

We are tied by bonds of friendship and regard for each other as members of something bigger and more significant which bonds us through our emotions and feelings in ways that cannot be explained by utility maximisation.

One critical aspect and key sign of this emotional bonding is our preparedness to sacrifice for the common good. Our readiness to give up things, accommodate where necessary is a key constituent of a successful social contract.

The core idea I want to introduce here is the concept of sacrifice. What I want to suggest is that the root concept behind nation-building and the necessary ethic that informs and sustains it, is the idea of sacrifice for something greater than our individual or group benefit.

We sacrifice because we believe and have a sense of obligation to each other and our community and nation that cannot be simply reduced to a simple calculation of our interests. In short, what we give up and how we accommodate to each other, not what we gain lies at the root of our sense of obligation, loyalty and belonging.

We have a sense of our imagined community, a sense of our bonds and belonging to something greater than our own selfish aims. Without this, no social contract is possible.

For here is the thing; — underpinning the rational logic of a social contract with its legalistic sounding discourse and its rationalistic appearance is the fact that for a social contract to work it must rest on the establishment and power of non-rational motivations, our sense of belonging or striving for something beyond ourselves and our capacity to sacrifice our self and our own interests at times for this.  Great nations and great nation-building projects have always been rooted in sacrifice and faith in each other.

When we think of the Malaysian case, perhaps a more productive and inspiring way to tell the story of the building of the nation from Merdeka onwards is to tell the story of sacrifice, accommodation and faith.

Nation-builders who were all prepared to give things up for something greater than themselves; parents who put all their efforts into their children’s education; teachers who worked long hours underpaid and often in difficult circumstances; and soldiers who put up with hardship and danger in the service of their country.

If we think of national development, we see its basis in the discipline and sacrifice of Malaysians who gave up a lot so that future generations could prosper.  The nation was built by men and women who believed and sacrificed.

One of the critical problems of much liberal theory is that in placing so much emphasis on the idea that the problems of obligation and justice in a society rest on a fair distribution of benefits is that it tends to view “the social contract” as simply a negotiation and agreement over benefits and spoils.

In this way there is a tendency for us to think that if only we renegotiate the spoils, redistribute the benefits, the problems of fraying social contract will be addressed. However, beneath the problem of distribution lies the issue of belonging and ultimately the issue of belief and faith in each other and in our community.

In the words of Danielle S. Allen (Talking to Strangers: Anxieties of Citizenship since Brown v. Board of Education): “No democratic citizen, adult or child, escapes the necessity of losing out at some point in a public decision.” Our willingness to give things up rests ultimately on some kind of belief that we belong to something of higher value than our own individual or group interests.

The problem of a frayed social contract is thus also not simply or only a problem of who gets what. While distribution of benefits and opportunities is important, indeed critical, the deeper concern is an issue of sacrifice, accommodation and commitment to something more than just getting a benefit.  What do we give up? To answer this question we need to consider the following questions as a guide.  Is there a nation and a binding community to which I feel a sense of belonging? Are we still prepared to give things up for the greater good? Do I view my countrymen and women as my fellows and part of something that transcends my material interests?

Here lies the irony. Behind the important social and political negotiations and understandings about authority, and distribution of benefits that make up a consociational democracy lays a less profane and non-calculative issue of belonging, sacrifice and a sense of shared destiny and obligation. When this frays, when we no longer have a sense of community and friendship that informs it, we no longer have the basis for accommodation and sacrifice. The Malaysian experience of nation-building shows us the power of an ability to sacrifice for the greater good and a sense of obligation that was not rooted only in profane interests.

The breakdown of social solidarity and national cohesion, which concerns many, rests in some measure in the reduction of our obligations and sense of national identity simply to individual interests and wholly material objectives.

It is not simply what you can get from your country that defines the extent or depth of ones obligations or our sense of belonging. Nations are built upon sturdier and deeper features.

An ability to sacrifice self-interest, and accommodate each other are the characteristic features which underpin a successful social contract. A society that is characterised by these things and actively cultivates them is worth belonging to and its social contract will be strong.



James Campbell New Straits Times Learning Curve 2014/04/22

Perspective: 50 years after President Lyndon Johnson

WHEN President Lyndon Johnson visited Malaysia in 1966, Vietnam (to some, American) War was raging. The “domino” theory was also in vogue, with the possibility that Malaysia would fall into the hands of Communist infiltrators. Purportedly, other Southeast Asian nations would follow.

Indeed in his remarks upon arrival at Subang Airport, Kuala Lumpur on Oct 30, 1966, he made reference to “our struggle in Vietnam today”. He said: “You have shown that military action can stop Communist aggression, and that while the aggression is being stopped, and even more strongly when it is stopped — the peace, as well as the war, can be won. Your example offers us hope for the future. It is a great pleasure to be here and to see it firsthand.”

In short, Johnson’s visit was to shore up support for the hugely unpopular war which hitherto still remain undeclared, fuelled by the images of the My Lai massacre as well the indiscriminate bombings and spraying of toxic chemicals like agent orange (making the case in Syria look pale in comparison) that is maiming and killing innocent victims even until today.

China, still asleep (economically), was on the side of Vietnam militarily and ideologically speaking, though less so compared to Soviet Russia. It was a multi-polar world, and in the heyday of the Cold War. Malaysia then had no official diplomatic ties with China. Our country had its own insurgency problem to contend with.

Interestingly, Johnson’s remarks at Subang are found online under the title, The American Presidency Project, by Gerhard Peters and John Woolley (www.presidency.ucsb.edu/ws/?pid=27969).

At the about the same time, some vulnerable Southeast Asian nations were contemplating a Zone of Peace, Freedom and Neutrality (ZOPFAN) which came into being in 1971. It was a declaration signed by the Foreign Ministers of the Asean member states (Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand) in  Kuala Lumpur. The declaration publicly stated their intent to keep Southeast Asia "free from any form or manner of interference by outside powers" and "broaden the areas of cooperation". This is still the case today.

Fifty years on, the scenario is markedly different. The Americans are now out of Vietnam with the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975. This is despite the heavy military cost as well as more than a million lives lost, mainly the local populations including Cambodians and Laotians. In contrast, less than 100,000 US service members reportedly died in the conflict. The “domino” effect remains largely an illusion of the imperialistic powers keen to ensure that US interest is not compromised at all cost.

Meanwhile Asean has expanded to twice its membership, with Vietnam neatly falling into the fold as the new and vibrant economic power in the region, despite remaining ideologically Communist. Similarly, China has awoken and taken more strategic interest in the region, and is also an active Asean partner. It is a significant trading partner of Malaysia and the region.

Although somewhat fledgling, ZOPFAN is more than 40 years old and covers an even greater boundary.

The Berlin Wall had also fallen leading to the demise of the Communist bloc. We thought the world would be safer. Instead the resulting unipolar world unfortunately saw even more wars in the first decade of the 21st century alone. This time it is under the banner of “war on terror” invented by another US President who unilaterally declared wars against Muslim countries, notably Afghanistan and Iraq, claiming millions of innocent lives.

More recently, the Ukrainian crisis emerged unexpectedly in the plot, posing another challenge to the US and Western interests in general. Should this happen to be a Middle Eastern or a Muslim country, the “war on terror” strategy would have kicked in quite readily. We recall the annexation of Kuwait by Iraq in 1990, and declaration of the former as the 19th province of the latter. The responses were swift and brutal, continued to be cloaked by the Cold War mentality.

Given all these scenarios, one is anxious to find out the difference in Obama’s visit this time around. While the places, events and actors may have changed, could it be that the game plan remains largely the same, with US interest taking priority under the pretext to “rebalance” the situation in the region in yet another American Presidency Project? Or will Obama champion ZOPFAN as a mark of respect for the sovereignty of Asean nations and their combined populations of over 600 million in determining their own future and destiny "free from any form or manner of interference by outside powers?" We will soon find out.



Dzulkifli Abdul Razak NST Channels Learning Curve 27 April 2014

Perspective: Debunking education myths

THE national education system in Malaysia is arguably one of the most hotly debated issues in both the national media and at hawker stalls the length and breadth of the land. Everyone has an opinion on what’s working well and what needs improving.


In a way it shouldn’t be surprising that education evokes so much armchair debate. Unlike other sectors such as law or medicine, where the average person’s interaction is limited to watching the occasional episode of Law and Order on TV or visiting a panel clinic for a packet of pills, education is different. The 85 per cent of Malaysians that stay in school until the end of Form 5 each have more than a decade of direct experience of the national education system. If you spend almost 15 per cent of your life doing something, it’s natural to consider yourself as an expert and to have a strong opinion.

But the challenge with making education policy prescriptions based on personal experience is that it’s difficult to meaningfully generalise from the experience of attending two or three schools in one country to what works best for a national education system. Sometimes policy prescriptions are based on intuition rather than on reason and hard-nosed empirical research.

Consequently, there are some common education myths that are perpetuated in the policy debate. Here are four of the common myths and what the research actually tells us:

Myth 1 — Reducing class sizes results in better education outcomes. The argument goes something like this: reducing class sizes means that teachers divide their time between a smaller number of students and each child gets more individualised support. But what does the research evidence tell us?

There have been 164 controlled conditions studies into the effects of reducing class sizes, which have investigated the impact in more than 40,000 separate classrooms, involving more than 940,000 students. These studies have found that reducing class sizes costs billions of dollars in additional teachers and physical infrastructure but the return on investment is actually very meagre. Smaller class sizes do not have a meaningful impact on student achievement until the ratio gets below 15 students to one teacher, which is an investment few public education systems can afford to make.

In order for educators to fully capitalise on a better student-teacher ratio, they need additional training to change the way that they interact with students. However, that additional teacher training and support, on its own, is more cost-effective and results in greater student achievement than reducing class sizes. So with a limited budget, you get better bang for your buck in re-training teachers rather than reducing class sizes, because outstanding teachers can work effectively with large classes.

Myth 2 — Improving the physical infrastructure of schools improves student outcomes. Many commentators in Malaysia look on with envy at the physical infrastructure of schools in Europe, North America and some of Malaysia’s closer Asian cousins. The argument is that if Malaysia’s schools had the same level of facilities — air conditioned classrooms; language labs; libraries stacked with books and beanbags; and world class science and computer labs — student achievement would skyrocket.

Granted there are still cases, particularly in rural schools, where the infrastructure would greatly benefit from additional investment. This is especially the case where schools do not have access to electricity, stable Internet and running water and also where there are health and safety hazards within the school compound or leaky roofs.

However, beyond this basic investment, the maths does not stack up for radically overhauling school infrastructure. Recent CfBT Education research found that classrooms that have good lighting, acoustics and reasonable temperature control provide sufficient conditions for good teaching and learning to take place. Anything beyond this is nice to have but not really necessary. What it really comes down to is the quality of teachers and it’s both cheaper and more effective to invest in upskilling teachers than in attempting to turn government schools into physical replicas of top international schools.

Myth 3 — Overhauling initial teacher training will radically increase student achievement. Some commentators have argued that by radically improving the quality of pre-service teacher training, teachers will be better equipped to deliver outstanding lessons time and time again.

There have been 53 major controlled condition studies that have compared student outcomes for teachers that have undergone formal training and those that learnt on the job. Almost without exception these studies have shown little or no difference in student outcomes between trained teachers and those that went into the classroom without any initial training.

Most teachers learn their trade on the job — after they have left training college. Their first three years in the profession are the most crucial, when educators develop their standard repertoires. After this point, many teachers’ skills plateau and they enter the “coasting phase” where their pedagogy alters only minimally for the rest of their careers.

The evidence suggests that it would actually be possible to reduce the length of initial teacher training to around six weeks, provided that right candidates were selected and the cost savings were re-invested in training these teachers once they enter the classroom. This type of in-service training works best when teachers are directly observed and coached in their own classroom by a master teacher, who models best practice and gives teachers feedback on their pedagogy.

Myth 4 — The more you invest in education, the better the student outcomes. Some commentators, citing Malaysia’s declining performance in TIMSS and PISA, have called for increased public expenditure on education. The implicit assumption is that more money can “buy” more education and that the funding will enable the Education Ministry to hire better teachers, buy better quality textbooks and employ other tactics that will improve the overall quality of education.

However, education economists have crunched the numbers globally on the relationship between the level of education expenditure and student outcomes. The findings from many of these studies suggest that beyond a certain threshold point, each additional Ringgit spent on education actually reduces rather than increases quality. Often this is because the spending goes on big ticket items like reducing class sizes or improving the physical infrastructure of schools, which have negligible impact on student achievement.

Recent UNESCO statistics show that public education expenditure in Malaysia already makes up around 18.9 per cent of total government spending and that education spending as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) is also relatively high, with only New Zealand devoting a greater share of GDP to education in the Asia-Pacific region.

For Malaysia the key is not to raise and spend more funds but to disperse existing budgets more efficiently. This expenditure must be targeted with laser point precision at the initiatives that have the highest leverage and impact. Putting the myths to one side, the single biggest return on investment from this laser-guided policy comes from continuously upskilling teachers. The rest is just fool’s gold.

Dr Arran Hamilton is director of CfBT Education Malaysia (www.cfbt.com.my) NST Channels Learning Curve 27 April 2014

Old Girl's Associations: Circle of sisterhood

Mission: An alumni strengthens links with its school to ensure a tradition of excellence

SECONDARY school education may seem a natural progression to prepare for higher education after finishing the primary level.

But for Kolej Tunku Kurshiah (better known as Tunku Kurshiah College — TKC) students, it is a pivotal point for self-discovery in terms of not only academic abilities but also talent and potential.

Its alumni, which consists of an influential network of politicians, high-powered civil servants, professionals and experts in various fields, is certainly proof of this. With names such as Professor Datuk Mazlan Othman, United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs director and  Malaysian National Space Agency founding director general; Bursa Malaysia Bhd public interest director and Yayasan Sukarelawan Siswa (Students Volunteer Foundation) chairman Datuk Zuraidah Atan, Tan Sri Dr Rafiah Salim, the country’s first female vice-chancellor, namely at University of Malaya (UM); and many more in TKC’s hall of fame, the college has played an instrumental role in producing women leaders for Malaysia and also in organisations beyond our borders.


MGC girls in their classroom.

Established as Maktab Perguruan Melayu (Malay Girls’ College – MGC) in 1947 at Bukit Damansara in Kuala Lumpur, the school was the first premier fully residential school for girls in the country. This institution was originally meant for the daughters of royalties and top government officials but later opened its doors to those from various levels of society. In April 1962, the school moved to a nine-hectare site on Bukit Merbah in Seremban, Negri Sembilan and was renamed TKC. In January 2013, TKC moved to Bandar Enstek, Negri Sembilan.

While the students come from all walks of life across the country, the school has stringent academic entry requirements as it aims to groom future leaders. It has proven to be a valuable platform for students to achieve their potential academically while nurturing their psychological, social, emotional and spiritual development. The boarding school encourages students, who are away from their parents, to be self-motivated and pro-active. Activities like debates, dance and drama competitions, and house games assist in the development of social skills, self-assurance and mutual respect, along with preparation for adult life.

Rafiah, the MGC/TKC Old Girls’ Association (OGA) president, remembers fondly her experience at school. When offered a place to study in MGC at 12 years old, the Kelantanese – who was born in Kuala Krai and raised in Kota Baru – sensed it was a significant moment and insisted on attending the school despite the financial constraints her father was facing then. After persuasion by a grand uncle, her father eventually relented and Rafiah entered MGC in 1960.


Members of the present school orchestra getting ready to perform.

“I knew the school was for ‘clever Malay girls’ and I wanted to be part of it,” she said.

Rafiah, who had never been away from home until then, had bouts of homesickness but was comforted by her “sister” in college, an older girl appointed to keep an eye on her.

“At that time, the college sister system was very sound. The college sisters really looked after the adik. If the younger girl felt homesick and cried, the older one would comfort her. Even in the dead of the night, a college sister would comfort the freshie. So, the care was really there. I remember my college sister scolded me because I was such a crybaby! Even now when we meet, we’d laugh about it!”

Apart from exposure to Western dining etiquette and a more urban environment, and becoming more confident and independent, Rafiah said the most important thing that she acquired at school was interpersonal skills where one learns to give and take – a trait of alumni members.

Another defining moment was during her fourth year at school when she learnt leadership after grappling with an issue she had with school rules.

“I was always a non-conformist and I voiced my concerns. But I wasn’t able to garner support at that time. But yet the year after that, the whole of Form 5 rebelled. I realised a leader must be able to exercise influence. That was a huge lesson I learnt at TKC. I always feel I have to do what is right.”

After graduating with a Bachelor of Laws and earning her Master’s of Law at Queen’s University of Belfast, Rafiah chartered an illustrious career beginning as a lecturer and later dean at the Law Faculty of UM. Next, she joined Malayan Banking Berhad as head of the legal department and went on to become the general manager of the human resource department. She then served Bank Negara Malaysia as assistant governor of three departments – security, legal and property and service – from 1995 to 1997. Her achievements led to her appointment as assistant secretary general for human resource management at United Nations (UN), New York from 1997 to 2002. She was the first Malaysian to be appointed to such a high post in the UN.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today if I had not been plucked from Kota Baru to MGC/TKC,” said Rafiah.

The drive to excel and the belief in one’s abilities to initiate change is also apparent in Professor Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman, who attended TKC from 1976 to 1980.

Adeeba is dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Professor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases at UM. She has dedicated her career to the prevention, treatment and research of infectious diseases and HIV/AIDS. She is also a strong advocate of HIV prevention, treatment and care in marginalised communities.

“Boarding school taught me to be independent from an early age. TKC also introduced me up to a wider range of friends and people from all sorts of background whom I may not have had the opportunity to meet otherwise.

“And I left to study Form Six in Australia even before the SPM results were out. I went on to university – perhaps these opportunities would not have come by if not for this elite school,” said Adeeba.

Today, in her various roles, Adeeba has a list of causes she is fighting for: from the over supply and quality of medical graduates and specialists in the country and those returning from overseas, to doing more to address HIV/AIDS in the country.

Currently CEO of SMECorp Malaysia and a leading proponent of the collaboration and cooperation of SME boards in India, Thailand, Korea, Turkey and adviser  to the team behind the Yemeni G-G IDS Study for Industrial Development Strategy, Datuk Hafsah Hashim attributed her formative years at TKC from 1972 to 1975 as a contributing factor to her successful career.


Inter-form drama competition at the Bukit Merbah, Seremban campus.

“My role at the international level is made much easier with the training at TKC. I was an active student and organised many events. I was in the English debate team and my varied roles as house captain, president of the Music Society, school badminton player and president of The Cultural Club at Aston University in the UK honed my leadership and oratorical skills,” she said.

Hafsah hopes that she can give back to the school through her involvement in the alumni as vice-president of the education and religion sub-committee. “I hope to inspire the current batch of students and share my management skills and study habits but, most importantly, teach them to become an effective Muslimah leader in the dunia and akhirat.”

Rusnah Karim Afshar, who was at TKC for 5 ½ years from 1972 until June 1977, chartered an unconventional course.

Crowned Miss Freshie during the Freshie concert when she was in Form 1, Rusnah was put in the spotlight and learnt to deal with what comes with the title early in her years at school.

“I handled popularity, adulation, great expectations, criticisms and failures.  I grew up very quickly with support from my parents through their letters. I only went home during term holidays,” she said.

The experience did her good. After TKC, she found herself in England doing A levels and then went on to pursue a BSc (Hon) in Electronics Engineering. She married an Iranian, a fellow classmate, in 1980.

By the time Rusnah’s husband started his postgraduate studies in 1984 at Southampton University, Iran had undergone a revolution and the Iran/Iraq war had started. His family left Iran and settled in Southampton.

Due to their entrepreneurial family background, he and his two brothers along with Rusnah formed Ahmad Tea Ltd in 1986. The rationale was because England is synonymous with tea and the brothers had experience in the business in their home country. Now 28 years later, there are six Ahmad Tea factories worldwide i.e. in Southampton,  Moscow, Kharkov (Ukraine), Ras Al-Khaimah (UAE), Nanchang (China) and Tehran (Iran) with about 2,000 employees.
“We export our hundreds of blends of teas to about 82 countries,” said Rusnah.

She credits her years at TKC for shaping her and her career.

“My years at TKC taught me to aim high. It was my ambition to further my studies in the UK. I focused on hard work to win a scholarship. Competitive inter-house activities taught me courage, perseverance and faith to keep on fighting when faced with difficulties and setbacks. I learnt discipline, acquired the ability to complete a task and be a team player.”

Life at the boarding school taught her to be conscious of other’s needs and she learnt to show consideration and compassion which is crucial when dealing with employees.

“But, above all, TKC taught me self-confidence.  In the words of my late abah: ‘If others can do it, then I should be able to do better.’.”

Rafiah is determined that the culture of excellence instilled into former MGC/TKC students will continue with help from the alumni. At the same time, she acknowledges the challenges the school and its students face are different  today, particularly in the staff strength and level of expertise and dedication required of teachers tasked to groom future leaders.

The vision and mission of the MGC/TKC Old Girls’ Association (OGA) have finally been fine-tuned and formally defined last year.

“Our vision is to be a leading alumni association recognised for its human capital, talent and expertise. We have to gain recognition via the association. Our mission is to improve the members and TKC students’ well-being through capacity-building based on aspired values by networking with members and other organisations,” said Rafiah.

“Our sisterhood aspires to be proactive in grooming leaders who exhibit professionalism (issue- and not people-centred), integrity, respect for seniors and others, empathy and versatility.

“We emphasise empathy especially when it comes to the adik-adik.”

The  Tunku Kurshiah College Special Project  is an ongoing programme based on the vision and mission.  It involves students from low-income families, who form 10 per cent of the current school population. The association is also creating a database to identify talents.

“MGC/TKC membership cards will be distributed on Thursday, which is MGC/TKC OGA Day, in Bandar Enstek. Old girls who are businesswomen will showcase products. We also have programmes to build junior-senior relationship. We are concerned that tradition of respect for seniors and caring for juniors is breaking down. We want to reinforce the culture of TKC.”



Rozana Sani | rsani@nst.com.my NST Channels Learning Curve 27 April 2014